As Russian forces moved through the North Caucasus forcing the inhabitants off their land the indigenous tribes were faced with three options: move to Siberia or Russian-controlled lands to the east; go to the Black Sea coast and find a ship to take them to Ottoman lands or take the 3000 km overland route to Romeli in Western Turkey on foot or by ox cart. All three options were extremely hazardous.
The Circassians who were driven from their homes in the years 1859-1864 mostly opted for the sea route to the ports of the Ottoman Empire, particularly Samsoun and Trabzon and also Cyprus, which was part of the Empire until 1878.
The migrants from Chechnya, Dagestan, Asetin and Kabardinos who left between 1865-1866 and after the Ottoman-Russian War, 1878 mostly took the land route.
Correspondence from Constantinople (28.04.1864)
Official intimation has been received here of the capitulation of Vardar, the last stronghold of the Circassians, and of the consequent submission of all the tribes. I had occasion in a previous letter to refer to the flood of immigration which was pouring into the Turkish dominions from the Caucasus, and to the defeats which had been experienced by these gallant mountaineers; and although there could be no doubt at that time that the cause of the Circassians was hopeless, there was not sufficient ground for anticipating the extraordinary movement which has since developed itself, and which threatens, unless immediate relief and succour be obtained, to degenerate, as regards these poor people, into an awful disaster. Whether this movement is to be attributed to a panic consequent on defeat, or to the hatred inspired by the Russians, it is rather difficult to determine; but there is no doubt that the three tribes known as the ‘’Shabsoukhs,’’ and ‘’Oboukhs’’ and ‘’Abazehs’’ have determined to abandon their country to a man, and take refuge on Turkish territory.
The Times of London, 9 May, 1864