The British had a particular interest in events in the Caucasus. Ambassadors, consuls, special envoys, military officers and independent observers were asked to keep the British Government informed of what was happening. As these quotes show, their views tended to be coloured by where they were based and who they were talking to.
I took the liberty yesterday of calling the attention of Prince Gortchakoff to the painful statements in the English newspapers concerning the hardships to which the emigrants from Circassia were exposed in their passage to Turkey. .. [He] replied that the tribes had insisted on leaving the country; that the Imperial Government regretted it; that it was absolutely necessary to remove these people from their mountain fastnesses, where their predatory and martial habits would be incurable. His excellency added that the estimate of their numbers to which I alluded was probably greatly exaggerated.
Lord Napier to Earl Russell, St Petersburgh, 17 May 1864.
The continued advances of the Russians in Circassia, and the ill treatment experienced by the natives from Russian troops, have led to an almost complete emigration from the country.... The Turkish Government is therefore about sending vessels to Trebizond to remove the emigrants thence, and place them in different parts of the Empire; and it is also in negotiation with the Russian Chargé d'Affaires here, in order to be able to adopt some measures by which those unfortunate people, who, after the most heroic attempts in defending the country where they were born, are at last obliged to abandon it, may be able to seek asylum with safety in the Ottoman dominions.
Sir Henry Bulwer,British Ambassador, Constantinople, April 12, 1864
The policy of Russia, though unrelenting, has not been deliberately sanguinary. There was no desire to exterminate the people; the object was to remove them. Repeated attempts have been made to negotiate a general surrender and emigration... It is an error, therefore, to suppose that all these people, or even the great majority before the last general movement, have preferred the alternative of emigrating to Turkey.
Lord Napier to Earl Russell, St Petersburgh, 23 May 1864.
A Russian detachment, having captured the village of Toobeh on the Soobashi River, inhabited by about 100 Abadzekh, and after these had surrendered themselves prisoners, they were all massacred by the Russian troops. Among the victims were two women in advanced state of pregnancy, and five children. The detachment in question belongs to Count Evdokimoff’s army.
Consul Dickson to Earl Russell, Soukoum-Kalé, 17 March, 1864