The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 19

Author: Wilhelm Müller  | Date: A.D. 1877

The Russo-Turkish War

A.D. 1877


The persistent cruelty and treachery of the Turkish Government were never shown more completely than in the events that led to the war with Russia in 1877-1878, and in the war itself. The massacre of Christians in time of peace, the murder of prisoners on the battlefield, the repetition of insincere promises of reform-these things have long been characteristic of Turkish administration, and every renewal of them excites the reader’s wonder that the Great Powers of Europe, all of which are professedly Christian, and all of which observe the laws of civilized warfare, have not long since taken such action as would completely eliminate Turkey and Turkish influence from participation in European affairs. No doubt they would have done so were it not for the determination of the Western Powers to thwart Russia in her approaches to the Mediterranean. And another thought that may strike the unprejudiced reader of this and the following article concerns the moral quality of the action of the Western Powers in the Congress at Berlin. It seems that if they were to arrogate to themselves the settlement of the questions at issue. they were bound to do it at the beginning, and save bloodshed, instead of leaving Russia to fight the war through, and then depriving her of a large part of the fruits of her victory.

IN October of 1874 a collision between Montenegrins and Turks, resulting in a massacre, had taken place in Podgoritza. For this, in January, 1875, five Turks were condemned to death and twenty to imprisonment; but the Turkish Government refused to permit the execution of the sentence unless the Montenegrins implicated in the disturbance were surrendered, to be tried by Turkish courts on Turkish soil. Prince Nikita insisted on the unconditional punishment of the culprits, and prepared for war; but finally, through the mediation of the consuls of the three empires, the Porte was induced to recede from its demands, and orders were issued to the Governor of Scutari, in whose jurisdiction the Turkish prisoners had been tried, to execute the sentence of the court. In the mean time the prisoners had been allowed to escape, which did not prevent the Turkish Government, however, from reporting the sentence executed. The whole affair aroused such indignation in Montenegro that an informal kind of war might be said to have already begun, and events in Bosnia and Herzegovina soon fanned this hidden fire into an open conflagration.

Great distress prevailed in the last-named provinces on account of the bad harvest of 1874; but the tax-gatherers, instead of taking this into consideration, carried off everything they could lay their hands on. According to the Turkish system, a tenth of all produce belonged to the Government, but this at times was raised to an eighth or a seventh. As the farmer of the taxes must also make his percentage, it not unfrequently came about that one-third of the produce was levied instead of one-tenth. To this must be added house, land, cattle, tobacco, and pasturage taxes; while, besides all these, the Christian population, not admitted to military service, were taxed for this involuntary dispensation. All these taxes, rendered doubly burdensome by the oppressive and unjust mode of their collection, were liable at any time to arbitrary increase on the part of the Government. (For example, the house-tax had been suddenly raised from four dollars and a half to thirteen dollars and a half.) Some of the peasants, driven to desperation, offered resistance to the tax-collectors, and were beaten or thrown into prison; others sent a fruitless deputation to the Governor, Dervis Pacha. Hundreds of families fled with what they could collect to Croatia, Dalmatia, Montenegro, and Servia. In consequence of Prince Nikita’s intercession, amnesty was promised to all those fugitives who would return; but no sooner did some of them venture back than the promise was broken.

About this time occurred the Austrian Emperor’s trip to Dalmatia, and the sport spread that the object of his visit was the acquisition of Bosnia and Herzegovina by purchase. This report, together with the outspoken sympathy of Servia and Montenegro, increased the excitement, and on July 6, 1875, an insurrection broke out in Herzegovina. Orders had been given to collect the taxes in the village of Drashego, on the plateau of Nevesinye, by force. The revenue collectors and a mob of Mussulmans took advantage of the opportunity to plunder the inhabitants. The latter flew to arms and shot ten of the robbers dead. The news that a number of taxpayers had been shut into a house and burned alive added fuel to the flame. The women and children were at once despatched to Dalmatia, and in a few days those parts of Herzegovina bordering on that province and on Montenegro were in open rebellion.

The war was prosecuted with the greatest cruelty on both sides. The Turkish forces were small and poorly equipped. The mountainous character of the country afforded great advantages for the prosecution of an irregular warfare, and Dalmatia and Montenegro assisted the insurgents with men and arms, so that at the outset the balance of success was in favor of the latter. This induced Dervis Pacha to accept the proffered mediation of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Mostar and open negotiations. The demands put forward by the rebels as the condition of laying down their arms were: a thorough reform of the system of taxation, the substitution of native for Turkish officials, and the establishment of a native militia for the maintenance of public order in the province; and these demands the Porte was certain not to grant, except, perhaps, on paper.

According to the census of 1868 the Greek Catholics in Bosnia, including Herzegovina, numbered four hundred thirty-one thousand two hundred, the Roman Catholics one hundred seventy-one thousand seven hundred sixty-four, and the Mahometans four hundred eighteen thousand three hundred fifteen. A large part of the Mahometan population consisted of the territorial nobility (the oldest in Europe), who, although of Slavic origin, were yet fanatical adherents of Islam, having found it to their interest to change their religion after the conquest of the country by the Turks. These took no part in the rebellion, and even the Christian population did not rise in a body. The success of the insurrection seemed to depend upon the attitude of Servia and Montenegro, and at the outset those two countries were induced by the consuls of the three empires to profess a strict neutrality. Nevertheless, the Herzegovinians did not lose heart, and by the beginning of August they had put into the field against the Turks twelve to fourteen thousand men. The latter made great exertions to suppress the rebellion before it should give rise to serious diplomatic intervention, or involve the Porte in a war with the principalities. Dervis Pacha was succeeded by Reouf Pacha, and thirty thousand or forty thousand soldiers were gradually collected in Herzegovina. Against such a force the insurgents could not hope to maintain the field; but by means of a guerilla warfare they harassed the Turks at every point, and, when winter brought about a cessation of hostilities, the latter had made no real advance toward the suppression of the revolt.

In the mean time the three empires, fearing that the insurrection, if not speedily suppressed, might result in an oriental war, had been making efforts to bring about an understanding between the Porte and its revolted subjects. Of the three, Germany was a comparatively disinterested observer; but, while Russia found the insurrection to her advantage, Austria was seriously embarrassed by a disturbance threatening to shake the status quo; and indeed, in order to understand Austria’s attitude through this whole period, it must be borne in mind that the Austro-Hungarian Empire is not one firmly consolidated State, but merely a sort of agreement on the part of a parcel of States and provinces of differing nationalities and conflicting interests to maintain the status quo. August 18th the ambassadors of these three Powers tendered their good offices for the pacification of the revolt, and after considerable hesitation the Sultan accepted the offer. Server Pacha was sent as a commissioner to examine into the grievances of the insurgents, while the consuls of the six great Powers undertook to induce the rebels to lay down their arms and present their complaints before the commissioner. Server Pacha went to Mostar and made promises; the consuls travelled through the disaffected districts-Germany, Austria, and Italy, along the Austrian border; England, Russia, and France, through the interior. By their interviews with the leaders of the insurrection the consuls ascertained that the latter would not lay down their arms unless guarantees of the most tangible description were given for the execution of the desired reforms.

On October 2d the Sultan issued an irade full of promises, and on December 12th a firman of similar character appeared. Members of the courts and of administrative councils were to be chosen by the people, without distinction of religious belief; suits between Mussulmans and Giaours were to be decided by the civil tribunals; arbitrary imprisonment was forbidden; tax-gatherers were made elective; the rights of property were secured; socage was abolished; the free exercise of their religion was guaranteed to the patriarchs and all other spiritual superiors; the right of holding public office and acquiring land was bestowed upon non-Mahometans.

These reforms were not worth the paper on which they were written unless their execution was guaranteed and supervised by the great Powers, a responsibility which the latter were unwilling to assume. With great difficulty they were able to unite in a joint note. This was drawn up in behalf of the three empires by Andrassy, and, after receiving the approval of the three remaining great Powers, was presented to the Porte in an apologetic and inoffensive manner on January 31, 1876. Five points were insisted on as essential to the pacification of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Unlimited religious freedom; abolition of the system of farming the taxes; application of the direct revenue of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the benefit of those provinces; establishment of a special commission, consisting, in equal parts, of Moslems and Christians, to watch over the execution of the reforms; and improvement of the industrial condition of the country, population. Mahmoud Pacha and his master went through the solemn farce of laying the propositions of the Powers before a ministerial council, after which they were accepted, with some modifications of the third proposition and published in an imperial irade of February 13th. A second irade on the 23d of the same month offered full amnesty to the rebels, safe return to the fugitives, protection against all oppression, a free gift of the necessary materials for rebuilding their houses, and corn for sowing their fields, together with remission of the tenth for one year, and of all other taxes for two years.

The Andrassy note had become waste-paper, and the utterances of the Russian press showed that Russia appreciated the necessity of armed interference, and chafed at the restraint put upon her by the other Powers. The Powers which especially exercised this restraint were England and Austro-Hungary. Both Germans and Hungarians were opposed to annexation, as that would increase the strength of the Slavic element, which both of them already found too strong. The increase of Servia or the erection of a new Slavic state would make Russian influence in the Balkan Peninsula too powerful. Furthermore, the Magyars (numbering five million five hundred thousand, ruling over two million five hundred thousand Roumanians, one million five hundred thousand Germans, and five million Slavs), in their hatred of the Slavs in general and the Russians in particular, actually sympathized with the Turks. Consequently, Austria could not venture to advance her own frontier, except under pressure of actual necessity, neither could she allow the erection of any new Slavonic States or the increase of those already existing. But England adopted a simple policy of obstruction, encouraging the Porte in its opposition to all reform, rejecting the plans proposed by other Powers, and refusing to present any of her own; recognizing the principle of European concert, but doing all in her power to prevent the fact. At the outset she urged the Turk to put down the Herzegovinian insurrection with all speed, and used her whole power to bring about that result.

In accordance with England’s advice to suppress the revolt as soon as possible, and thus avoid all foreign interference, the Sultan raised Achmed Mukhtar Pacha to the chief command, and despatched him to the seat of the disturbance, with fresh forces, toward the close of December, 1875. But the Andrassy note (not yet formally presented) led to a change of policy, in so far that on January 24th All Pacha, formerly ambassador at Paris, appeared in Mostar as Governor-General of Herzegovina, commisioned by the Porte to appease the insurgents with promises. In addition to this, two special commissioners arrived, supplied with a small sum of money-enough to make a pretence, but nothing more-for the assistance of returning fugitives. At the same time a cessation of hostilities was proclaimed from March 29th to April 10th.

While England and (following her lead) Austria were throwing all their influence into the scale against the insurgents, Russia stood forth as in a sense the champion of their just claims. On April 5th Vesselitzky, a private agent of Prince Gortschakoff, arrived in the Suttorina, and entered into negotiations with the insurgents. They demanded, as before, some guarantee for the execution of the promised reforms. Vesselitzky constituted himself their plenipotentiary, and set out for Berlin to present In person the address of the insurgents at the conference about to be held there.

Before the close of the armistice in the south an insurrection broke out in the northwest, in Turkish Croatia, the centre of the movement being the little garrison town of Bisca. This new revolt was liberally supplied with men and arms from Servia, and a force of ten thousand rebels, some of them Mahometans, was soon brought together. Ibrahim Pacha, the Governor-General of Bosnia, found the force of fifteen thousand men at his disposal inadequate for the suppression of the revolt. On April 1st and 6th, at Palanka and Yagrenitza, his troops were defeated by the insurgents, the latter fighting under the battle-cry "Long live the Emperor of Austria!"

In the south, on the close of the armistice, Mukhtar Pacha set out from Gacko, through the Duga Pass, to provision the hardpressed fortress of Niksic, but was defeated and driven back with great loss. Mukhtar represented to his Government that seven thousand Montenegrins took part in this battle, and orders were thereupon issued to establish a camp at Scutari, with a view to an invasion of Montenegro. Russia, whose protege Prince Nikita was, called upon the other great Powers to assist her in averting war, and General Ignatieff and Count Zichy, the Russian and Austrian ambassadors at Constantinople, denied absolutely the credibility of Mukhtar’s report. The Sultan finally yielded to their representations and professedly countermanded his orders. The same pressure was not brought to bear in behalf of Servia, and before the close of April forty thousand men were assembled in the Turkish camp at Nish, on the southern border of that principality.

On May 10th Gortschakoff had a meeting with Bismarck and Andrassy in Berlin, and laid before them a memorandum based upon the Andrassy note. A truce of two months was to be proclaimed in order to settle the points in dispute with the insurgents; the execution of the promised reforms was to be supervised by the consuls of the great Powers; and an international fleet was to be despatched to the support of the consuls. "More effectual" measures were held in view, in case nothing had been accomplished before the expiration of the two months. This memorandum was adopted by the three emperors and communicated to the other three great Powers. France and Italy accepted it without reserve, but England refused her assent on the ground that the Porte had not yet had sufficient time in which to carry out the reforms, and that the suggestion of "more effectual" measures would lead the rebels to persist in their rebellion, while the supervision by foreign consuls was an inadmissible interference with the sovereign rights of the Sultan. The English Cabinet even went so far as to communicate the contents of the memorandum to the Porte, and In effect advised resistance to the will of Europe by means of a dilatory policy-adding, however, that Turkey could rely on nothing more than moral support from England. The memorandum itself was never presented to the Turkish Government, the course of events rendering it superfluous.

In the mean time an event had occurred at Saloniki which involved the Porte in threatening complications with two of the neutral or disinterested great Powers. A mob of Turkish fanatics murdered the German and French consuls, on May 6th, by the command or at the instigation of the chief of police, the disturbance which led to their interference having originated In an attempt on his part to carry off a Bulgarian maiden for his harem. Germany and France at once demanded satisfaction, and French, German, Italian, Russian, Austrian, and Greek ships-of-war appeared In the harbor of Saloniki to protect the foreign residents; whereupon England despatched twelve ironclads to Besika Bay to guard the mouth of the Dardanelles. The peremptory attitude of the Injured Powers compelled the Porte, after some shambling and delay, to punish, not merely, according to its usual custom, ignorant tools and inoffensive lookers-on, but even pachas and a chief of police.

Of a sudden great excitement displayed itself among the softas (or students), of whom there were about ten thousand at mosques in Constantinople. Providing themselves with arms, they marched in crowds through the city, and drew up a programme, in which they demanded, among other things, an assembly of notables, and the recall of Ignatieff by the Russian Government. They likewise clamored for the annihilation of the revolt in Herzegovina, and for war with Montenegro. On May 11th they presented themselves before the palace with arms in their hands, and demanded the removal of Mahmoud Pacha and the Sheik-ul-Islam. Their demands were granted; but, instead of Midhat Pacha, the man of their choice, Mehemed Rushdi Pacha was made grand vizier. This was counterbalanced, however, by the appointment of Hussein Avni Pacha, the soul of the movement, as Minister of war and Commander-in-Chief of the army. This was only a beginning. Abdul-Aziz was not the man for the energetic policy required by his new counsellors. His greed, his extravagance, his leanings toward Russia, had long since deprived him of all respect. On May 29th the grand vizier, the Sheik-ul-Islam, Midhat Pacha, and the Minister of war resolved to dethrone this worthless and dissipated Sultan, and place the legitimate heir, Amurath, eldest son of the deceased Sultan, Abdul-Medjid, on the throne in his stead. Their plan was carried out, and the deposed monarch was forthwith removed to the kiosk Top-Capu, thence to the Palace of Therragan, where he appears to have committed suicide a few days later.

But before Abdul-Aziz ceased to reign, one of the cruellest tragedies that modern history records had been enacted in Bulgaria. Ever since the Crimean war it had been the policy of the Turkish Government to eradicate the Bulgarians, and settle Tartars and Circassians in the provinces south of the Danube, in order to form a strong bulwark against Slavic aggression from the north. The Tartars remained almost exclusively in the Dobrudja; the Circassians spread through the mountainous regions of Bulgaria. Bravely though the latter had fought against the Russians in their native mountains, in Bulgaria they proved nothing more than lazy robbers. Work they would not; they lived by plundering the unfortunate natives.

At length, inspired by the example of Herzegovina and Bosnia, and incited in all probability by Russian and Servian agents, after vain complaints and petitions, on May 1, 1876, some young men `raised the standard of revolt against such shameless oppression at Drenovo, near Tirnova. Almost at the same time an insurrection broke out in the region between Philippopolis and Sofia, and soon the insurgents numbered about ten thousand men. Abdul-Kerim, commander of the army in Roumelia and Bulgaria, could not muster more than fifteen thousand regular troops, and so recourse was had to the expedient of commissioning Bashi-Bazouks - volunteers without uniform -or, in other words, arming the Mahometan population to suppress the revolt. Even the prisons were emptied, and murderers were enrolled to put down the rebellion. Such a course could not fail to result in massacres of the most atrocious description. The insurrection was soon suppressed, but the massacres continued. It appears to have been the Intention of the Turkish Government to break the spirit of the Bulgarian people finally and completely, and thus render any future revolt an impossibility. The number of the luckless victims of this barbarous policy has been variously estimated at three thousand to one hundred thousand.

Batak was the place that suffered most severely, as it is also the name best known in connection with the massacres. All the Bulgarian villages in the neighborhood had been destroyed before the Bashi-Bazouks appeared at Batak, on May 12th. Hitherto the villagers of Batak had enjoyed immunity, and as they were under the special protection of Achmed Aga, the leader of the Bashi-Bazouks, they were in hopes that the storm might leave them untouched. Achmed Aga, as chief of police of the district, called upon the inhabitants to surrender their arms. His demand was at once complied with. One of the men that brought the weapons was shot dead, and the rest were sent back with orders to bring all the gold and jewellery in the place. But, without awaiting their return, the Bashi-Bazouks fell upon the hapless village, proclaiming themselves commissioned by the Sultan to rob and murder all the inhabitants. The headman of the village was impaled upon a spit and roasted alive. Of the women, some were stripped naked, robbed of their jewellery, outraged, and then murdered-others were carried off to grace the harems of neighboring Turkish magnates. A correspondent describing the appearance of the village a few weeks later said: "The path was strewn with bones and children’s skulls; on the hill lay one hundred fifty whitened skeletons, still half covered with clothes. When the sack of the village was completed the girls and women were brought to this spot, where, after the most terrible abuse, they were slaughtered like cattle. Before the church a hideous odor greeted us. The churchyard is surrounded by a wall six feet high. The space between this wall and the church was filled in three feet deep with corpses, which were covered with nothing but stone slabs. The church itself was full of mouldering pieces of `flesh, half-burnt bones, and bloody garments. Opposite the church stood the schoolhouse, where three hundred women and children sought refuge and were burned alive by the Bashi-Bazouks. At the lowest estimate four thousand corpses were lying unburied in the village. Bore the massacre Batak numbered thirteen thousand inhabitants: it now numbers one thousand two hundred. If we estimate the missing at one thousand, there still remains a difference of more than eleven thousand to be ascribed to the account of the Turks."

A correspondent writing from Bulgaria on August 15th said: "The actual participants in the May insurrection were long ago sent to their last account; since then the authorities have been casting into prison chiefly innocent men, who never thought of rising against the Government. Of one thousand twenty-eight Bulgarians who were imprisoned at Tirnova, only four had been guilty of any acts of insubordination; the rest were merchants, clergymen, teachers, and peasants. About eight hundred unoffending clergymen and teachers have been put to death. The rich merchants in Grabrovo, Tirnova, Lovatz, and other places were seized in their shops and killed almost without exception; their property fell to the treasury, or rather to the officials, who shared it among themselves. The poorer prisoners were for the most part allowed to live. So far five thousand six hundred twenty-eight persons have been released from prison."

All doubt as to the complicity of the Government is dispelled when it is remembered that the worst offenders were rewarded-the commander of Pestuvizza with a silver medal, Tussoum Bey of Klissura with the Medjidi order, and Achmed Aga of Batak with promotion to the Yuzbashi.

The Bulgarian massacre could not fail to excite the greatest indignation in all Europe, but more especially in Servia and Montenegro. Servia had long hesitated between peace and war. She had to fear, not alone the superior strength of the Turks, but also the jealousy of Austria, or rather Hungary, which had no desire to encourage the dream of a great Servia. In February of 1876 the war party at length gained the upper hand, and made such open preparations for a campaign against Turkey that Austria and Russia united in a joint note urging the Servian Government to refrain from hostilities. In Belgrad Austria was looked upon as the only obstacle; and popular indignation ran so high that on April 9th, the national festival, stones were thrown at the Austrian consulate. Austrian influence did not prove strong enough to hold the Servians back. On May 5th an unmistakable war ministry was formed, with Ristic as Minister for Foreign Affairs; and on the 22d a national loan of twelve million francs was decreed. Prince Nikita at once placed himself at the head of the Herzegovinian movement, and issued orders to the insurgents. On June 26th the latter proclaimed him as their prince, and two days later the Bosnian insurgents, imitating their example, proclaimed Prince Milan Prince of Bosnia. The Servian army had been for some time assembled on the border, while the Turks had also collected a considerable force on their side of the line.

After some diplomatic correspondence the Servian Government despatched an ultimatum on June 27th demanding the "removal from the Servian frontier of the Turkish army, together with the wild hordes of Bashi-Bazouks, Circassians, Arnauts [Albanians], and Kurds," the appointment of Prince Milan as viceroy of Bosnia, and the occupation of the disturbed provinces by the Servian army. The union of Bosnia with Servia, and Herzegovina with Montenegro, seemed to the Porte too high a price for the maintenance of peace; accordingly on July 2d the Servian army crossed the Turkish border, and at the same time Prince Nikita, who had already called into the field the whole able-bodied population between the ages of seventeen and sixty, announced to the Porte that he preferred open war to the state of virtual siege In which his principality was kept by the Turkish forces on the border.

The Servian field army numbered about eighty thousand men; but of these only three thousand were regular troops, while there was no reserve from which to supply the losses of battle.

Russia manifested the liveliest sympathy for the Servians. Of the six to eight thousand foreign volunteers in the Servian army fully three thousand were Russians, and many of the officers were of the same nationality. Money and hospital stores were freely supplied from the Northern Empire; the Empress put herself at the head of the benevolent societies organized for the benefit of the Servians and Montenegrins; collections were taken up from house to house; and numerous ladies and physicians hastened to offer their services at the seat of war. The Emperor maintained an attitude of reserve, but the whole nation saluted the Servians and Montenegrins as brothers fighting in the common quarrel of the Slavonic race. The Montenegrin army, consisting almost exclusively of militia, numbered fifteen thousand men, divided into two parts, in order to make head at the same time toward the north and south. The insurgents in Herzegovina were under the command of the Prince of Montenegro, while those in Bosnia fought independently. The Turkish army at the outset of the campaign numbered one hundred fifty thousand men, under the command of Abdul-Kerim; and this force was constantly increased by fresh troops from Asia and Africa, who were paid by means of Abdul-Aziz’s confiscated treasures. The Turks were seriously impeded, however, in their prosecution of the war by the fact that they were compelled to recognize the neutrality of the Danube; in addition to which the harbor of Klek, where reenforcements were to have been debarked for Mukhtar Pacha, was closed by the Austrians.

On July 2d Chernayeff crossed the Turkish frontier, and severed the communications between Abdul-Kerim at Nish and Osman Pacha at Viddin. But he was unable to maintain his position, and on the 14th Abdul-Kerim became in his turn the invader. On August 4th and 5th the Servians were defeated at Knyazebac; but Abdul-Kerim did not know how to improve his victory, and Chernayeff was allowed to fortify himself at Bania and Alexinatz. This position was attacked by the Turks on August l9th, but after six days’ fighting they were repulsed. The attack was renewed on the 28th, but with the same result. An attack on September 1st was more successful, and after eleven hours’ fighting the Turks carried the Servian position before Alexinatz; but again they failed to improve their victory, and Chernayeff was allowed to intrench himself between Alexinatz and Deligrad. On the 11th and 16th the Servians assumed the offensive, but were repulsed.

The campaign had lasted ten weeks, and had resulted slightly to the disadvantage of the Servians; their main army, together with the army of the Timok, had been worsted, and the smaller forces operating in the northwest and southwest had proved too weak to accomplish anything. For the rest, although the Montenegrins had been victorious in both the north and the south, all the other allies on whom Servia had counted had failed her utterly. Neither Roumania nor Greece had moved; Bulgaria was crushed, and the Bosnians were held in check by the Turks.

It was no wonder, therefore, that the demand for peace should make itself heard in Belgrad, and on September 16th a ten-days’ armistice was concluded. This armistice was the direct work of the great Powers. The Gortschakoff memorandum never had been presented to the Porte, on account of the revolution of May 30th. The leaders of that revolution, Hasan Avni Pacha and Midhat Pacha, while agreed in their hostility to Russia, differed radically in regard to internal policy. The former belonged to the old Turks, and clung to ancient forms and customs; the latter believed in pretending to rule according to European methods. On June 15th Hasan Avni Pacha and Rashid Pacha were murdered. Their places in the Cabinet were supplied by Abdul-Kerim and Savfet Pacha, the former Minister of Justice. On June 9th, in the House of Commons, Disraeli expressed himself full of hope and confidence in reference to the new Turkish era thus inaugurated. Perhaps it was unwillingness to hamper the new Government in its work of reform which led the English ambassador at Constantinople, or the English Government, or both, to suppress the information in their hands regarding the atrocities in Bulgaria. The London Times also suppressed the communications of its correspondent regarding the massacres, so that the first information which reached thee English people came through the columns of the Daily News, on June 26th. The Ministry, when questioned in Parliament, denied all knowledge of such events. Ultimately, however, they were forced to send a commissioner to investigate the alleged outrages. As fuller news arrived a revulsion in public opinion set in, and the Government finally found itself obliged to instruct the English ambassador in Constantinople (September 5th) that so much public indignation had been aroused by the late events in Bulgaria that, even in the extreme case of a war with Russia, England would not be able to interfere for the protection of the Ottoman Empire.

England’s pro-Turkish attitude naturally excited the greatest indignation in Russia, where all classes of the population were clamorous for war with Turkey. On July 8th a meeting took place at Reichstadt between Alexander and Francis Joseph, attended by their chancellors, at which it appears to have been decided that no armed intervention should be attempted for the present, and that neither State should in any case act independently of the other. Germany naturally assented to this arrangement. General Klapka, one of the heroes of 1848, arrived in Constantinople on July 21st, and put himself at the disposal of the Turkish Government, his intention being to raise a Hungarian legion to fight under the crescent against the Christian Slavs. This project met with the hearty approval of the Hungarian press. On October 23d the students of Pest expressed to Minister- President Tisza their wish to hold a torchlight procession in honor of the Turkish consul, and on January 13, 1877, a deputation of Hungarian students presented Abdul-Kerim, the conqueror of the Servians, with a sabre as "a pledge of the intimate friendship between the two countries." The Magyars were also influenced by interest as well as sentiment, for they perceived that a strong Slavonic State to the south must result in giving the five million Slavs in Hungary a share in its government.

In addition to England and the Magyars, one other friend of Turkish rule should be mentioned, namely, the Pope. The ground of this friendship was indicated in an article in the Voce della Verita, a Vatican sheet, to the effect that the rule of the Turkish crescent was preferable to that of the Greek Catholic cross. This alliance, which restrained from revolt the Roman Catholic population in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was very welcome to the Porte, and the latter showed its gratitude by settling certain difficulties that had arisen regarding the Armenian Church, and promising to bestow special privileges on its Roman Catholic subjects.

The Sultan with whom Servia must negotiate a peace was no longer Amurath V. The "reformer of the Turkish Empire," after a reign of three months, fell a victim to an incurable brain trouble, and on August 3lst his brother, Abdul-Hamid II, was declared Sultan in his stead. The great Powers, which had been negotiating in Constantinople and Belgrad with a view to peace, left it to the Porte to propose the terms, and on September l4th the latter laid before their representatives the plan of a treaty; but it was not acceptable. England, which had heretofore refused to act in harmony with the other Powers, was allowed to propose terms of peace. On September 25th Sir Henry Elliot submitted to the Porte the following propositions: Restoration of the status quo ante in Servia and Montenegro, the establishment of administrative autonomy in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, and the execution of the reforms indicated in the Andrassy note. The official answer, communicated on October 2d, while accepting the first two conditions, refused autonomy to the three provinces on the ground that a constitution, including a central parliament, was about to be granted to the whole empire, and all branches of the administration thoroughly reformed.

But before matters had reached this point hostilities had been again resumed. On September 28th Chernayeff, who had taken advantage of the truce to proclaim Prince Milan King of Servia, and cause the army to take the oath of allegiance to him, resumed the offensive, destroyed the two bridges which Abdul-Kerim had thrown across the Morava, and attacked the Turks. When victory seemed within his grasp, Hafiz Pacha arrived on the scene with thirty-three thousand fresh troops, and the Servians were repulsed. After a long pause, on October l9th the Turks attacked the Servian positions, and by the 3lst of that month Alexinatz had been taken and destroyed and the way opened into the interior.

On October 30th Ignatieff, in an interview with Savfet Pacha, informed the latter, in the name of the Russian Emperor, that, unless within twenty-four hours the Porte signified its willingness to conclude an armistice with Servia of six weeks or two months, Russia would break off her political relations with the Sultan. What Turkey might venture to refuse to the united demands of the disunited great Powers she did not dare to refuse to Russia alone, and on October 3lst a two-months’ truce with Servia was signed. England at once proposed a conference of the Powers on the basis of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, with a view to establishing administrative autonomy in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria; and after some objections from the Porte, all the Powers sent delegates to the Conference at Constantinople.

On November 2d the Czar, in a conversation with Lord Loftus, the English ambassador at St. Petersburg, pledged his word that he did not aim at the acquisition of Constantinople, and that in case it became necessary to occupy Bulgaria the occupation should be merely temporary. But it soon appeared that the English Government was not satisfied. On November 9th, at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, Lord Beaconsfield, after glorifying the strength and resources of Great Britain, said: "In a righteous cause England is not the country that will have to in quire whether she can enter upon a second or third campaign. In a righteous cause England will commence a fight that will not end till right is done." The allusion was manifest, and the Emperor Alexander’s speech to the nobles at Moscow on the following day was an evident answer to the challenge contained in the English Premier’s words. If he could not succeed in obtaining, with the concert of Europe, he said, such guarantees as he thought it necessary to exact, he was firmly determined to act independently, and was convinced that all Russia would respond to his summons.

On the l3th the Czar ordered the formation of six army corps out of the divisions stationed in the military districts of Odessa, Charkoff, and Kiev, and appointed the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaievitch their commander. A Crimean army was also to be formed under the command of General Semyeka, and large reenforcements were ordered for Loris Melikoff in the Caucasus. In an explanatory circular Gortschakoff informed the great Powers that Russia was determined not to rest until justice had been done to the Christian subjects of the Porte. On November 18th a loan of one hundred million rubles was ordered, which was taken up in the Russian Empire within eight days. Orders were also issued placing the railroads at the disposal of the military authorities, the export of grain and horses was forbidden, torpedoes were laid at the entrances of the most important Black Sea harbors, and other necessary preparations made for war. These measures called forth, not alone diplomatic protests and inquiries from the English Cabinet, but also counter-preparations, and on November 18th it was announced that, in case Bulgaria were occupied by Russian troops, England would occupy Gallipoli and Constantinople in order to secure the Bosporus and the Dardanelles against the Russian fleet.

Turkey was not idle. Military preparations were pushed forward, and at the same time a constitution intended to checkmate the approaching conference was under preparation. On November 21st this instrument was completed and laid before the Sultan for his signature. As it conferred upon the Christians political equality with the Mahometans, Mehemet Rushdi Pacha, a fanatical Old Turk, opposed it; but on December l9th his resignation was tendered, on account of "ill-health," and Midhat Pacha became grand vizier in his stead. On the 23d the new constitution was published in the presence of the dignitaries of the realm, while cannon thundered forth their welcome to the newborn sham. It is needless to mention all the beneficial provisions of this document, for they never were executed, and it was not intended that they should be. The constitution was to serve as an excuse for paying no attention to the advice of Europe. The conference proper was opened on the 23d, Savfet Pacha presiding. Count Chaudordy had hardly presented the proposition of the great Powers when the sound of cannon was heard, and Savfet Pacha announced that a constitution had been granted and a new era had begun. This did not have the desired effect, however, and on January 1st the Porte found itself obliged to lay before the conference a counter-proposition. On January l5th the Powers as an ultimatum presented their demands in a somewhat modified form, omitting among other things the condition with reference to the employment of foreign troops, but giving their representatives a voice in the selection of governors, and providing two commissions appointed by the great Powers for the general supervision of the reforms.

The position of the Porte was difficult in the extreme; for if these two conditions were accepted, the independence of the Turkish Government was lost; while, if they were rejected, war was inevitable. On January 18th a meeting of the Extraordinary Grand Council was called, at which two hundred fifteen persons were present, including the Grecian Patriarch and delegates from the Armenian Patriarch, the Bulgarian Exarch, and the Grand Rabbi. The council advised resistance, and on the 20th the Porte communicated to the conference its rejection of the two obnoxious conditions. In their stead the Porte offered no guarantee but promises, and so the conference came to a close.

After the failure of the conference, direct negotiations were opened with Servia and Montenegro, and on March 1st a peace was signed with the former State, by which the status quo ante was restored, with the stipulation that the Turkish flag should be planted on the citadel of Belgrad along with the Servian. With Montenegro matters did not run so smoothly. Turkey would not consent to any cession of territory; and finally, on April l3th, negotiations were broken off, and both sides prepared for a renewal of the war.

On January 3lst Gortschakoff addressed a circular to the great Powers asking what they intended to do now’ that their advice had been rejected. England proposed a year’s probation. Gortschakoff inquired what was to be done at the close of the year, as "Russia could consent to such a probation only on condition that the great Powers pledged themselves to joint measures of coercion" in case Turkey failed to carry out the reforms within that time. Such a pledge England was unwilling to give, and the plan of the English Cabinet, so far as it can be said to have had one, appears to have been to shut its eyes and try to believe the assurances of the Porte. But Russia would not so readily abandon the policy of joint action on the part of the great Powers, and in the beginning of March Ignatieff undertook a mission to Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and London-professedly on account of his eyes. Finally, on March 3lst, the six Powers signed a protocol calling upon the Porte to make peace with Montenegro, reduce its army to a peace footing, and carry out the desired reforms. The execution of these reforms was ko be watched over by the representatives of the Powers; and, in case they were not carried out, the latter reserved to themselves the right of indicating the measures they considered necessary to the welfare of the Christian populations in the dominions of the Sultan.

The London protocol was presented to Savfet Pacha on April 3d, and the Porte refused to accept it. The Turkish answer was received in St. Petersburg on April 12th, and on the l3th orders were issued to mobilize the whole Russian army. On the 24th of the same month the Emperor issued a manifesto ordering his troops to cross the Turkish frontiers; and on the same day a circular-note was sent to the Powers informing them of the fact. In his answer to this circular Lord Derby expressed his regret at Russia’s action, which he regarded as a violation of the Treaty of Paris of 1856; at the same time, however, he announced the intention of the English Government to observe a strict neutrality in case British interests were not interfered with; constantinople must remain in the hands of its present possessors, and the existing regulations with regard to the Dardanelles and Bosporus must be maintained.

The position of Roumania between the two belligerents rendered its alliance a matter of importance to both sides. On April 16th a convention was concluded with Russia by which free passage through the principality was conceded to the Russian army, together with the use of the railroads, post, and telegraph; and it was also provided that the Roumanian Commander-in-Chief should establish magazines at all important points, excepting Bukharest, in the rear of the Russian army of operation. As this convention was a virtual declaration of war with Turkey, orders were issued on the 18th to concentrate ten thousand men at Bukharest, and two days later the mobilization of the whole army was commanded. Prince Charles assumed the chief command in person.

The Russian army entered Roumania on April 24th, but its progress toward the Danube was very slow. There was but one railroad leading from Bessarabia to the Turkish frontiers, and this had been rendered useless at places by the heavy rains, while from the same cause the roads were almost impassable. Skobeleff’s cavalry brigade, pushing forward with all speed, accomplished the distance from the Russian frontier to Barboshi in one day. Infantry and artillery followed. Galatz and Braila were strongly garrisoned, and the possession of the bridge secured. The Turks had expected great things from their Danube flotilla, but their expectations were doomed to disappointment. Batteries were erected at Braila and other points, and the passage of the river at Reni and Matshin was obstructed by torpedoes. On May 11th a Turkish monitor was blown up by a shell from the Braila batteries, and a few days later an ironclad turret-ship was disabled. On the 26th two Russian officers, Dubasheff and Shestakoff, blew up a Turkish monitor in the Matshin Canal by means of torpedoes. The Turkish fleet in the Black Sea, on the other hand, proved of great value, enabling the Turks to send troops and provisions by water, while the Russians were confined to land communications.

On June 6th Emperor Alexander, accompanied by his Chancellor, arrived in Roumania and took up his headquarters at Ployeschi, north of Bukharest, where the Grand Duke Nicholas had been since May 15th. The waters of the Danube were still sixteen feet above the normal level, rendering the passage of the river for the present impracticable. The army under the Grand Duke’s command consisted of nine army corps. How strong the Turkish forces opposed to the Grand Duke’s army were it is scarcely possible to estimate even approximately. According to the most probable guess there were twenty thousand men in the Dobrudja, ten thousand in Silistria, thirty thousand in Rustchuk, twenty thousand in Shumla, and thirty-five thousand in Viddin, making a total of one hundred fifteen thousand. In addition to these a reserve army, about thirty thousand strong, was formed to the south of the Balkans, and soldiers were brought back from Montenegro. These were all regulars; the number of the irregulars it is impossible even to conjecture. These forces were under the chief command of Abdul-Kerim Pacha, who arrived at Shumla on April 17th, and distinguished himself, so long as he remained in command, by complete inaction.

In the night of June 21st the Russians crossed the Danube in boats at Galatz, and dislodged the Turks from the heights of Budyak. On the 23d Matshin was occupied by the Russians, and by the 28th the Fourteenth Army Corps, commanded by General Zimmermann, was on the right bank of the river. The Turks now abandoned the Dobrudja, and fell back on the line of defence between Czernavoda and Kustendje (Trajan’s Wall); but this also was abandoned after a faint resistance, and occupied by the Russians on July l9th. The passage of the main army took place at Simnitza on the night of the 26th. By three o’clock in the afternoon of the 27th Sistova was in the hands of the Russians, and the Turks were in full retreat, some toward Nikopoli, others toward Tirnova. On the same day a proclamation was issued to the Bulgarian people announcing their freedom from Mussulman oppression, and calling upon them to render the Russian army all the assistance in their power. On July 2d a bridge across the Danube was completed, and by the middle of that month four army corps were on Bulgarian soil, two still remaining on the left bank.

For the next few weeks the Russians met with no check, and almost with no resistance. Biela was taken on July 1st, Tirnova on the 7th, and Drenovo and Gabrovo on the 10th. On the 12th the Grand Duke Nicholas, accompanied by Prince Cherkassky, who was intrusted with the reorganization of the civil administration of Bulgaria, took up his headquarters in Tirnova. On the l3th General Gourko, with the advance-guard of the Eighth Army Corps, began the passage of the Balkans by the Hankioi Pass to the east of the Shipka. On the l4th he was in the Tunja Valley, and his Cossacks had destroyed the telegraph wires at Yeni-Sagra. On the 17th, in spite of the opposition of Reouf Pacha, he occupied Kazanlik and Shipka, at the southern extremity of Shipka Pass. On the 18th his forces entered the pass from the south, cooperating with Prince Mirski, who had entered it with two regiments from the north, and on the l9th Shipka and Hankioi passes were in the hands of the Russians.

The Russian advance had been along the line of the Jantra; in order to secure that line it was necessary to reduce the fortress of Nikopoli, and General Krudener, with the greater part of the Ninth Corps, was detailed for that duty. On July 16th, after a three-days’ siege, the garrison, consisting of two pachas and six thousand men, surrendered to the Russians. Selvi and Lovatz were also occupied by small detachments, so that the greater part of Central Bulgaria, with the Balkan passes, was in the hands of the invaders. From those passes Russian cavalry were despatched still farther southward.

The Russian advance had been so rapid and unchecked that the Turkish authorities, filled with consternation, regarded Adrianople as lost, and fearfully expected to see the victorious enemy before the gates of the capital itself. Savfet Pacha, Redif Pacha, Minister of war, and Chairulla Effendi, the Sheik-ul-Islam, were removed from their posts. Mustapha Pacha was made Minister of war, and the fanatical Kara Chalil Effendi Sheik-ul-Islam; while Mehemet Ali Pacha, a descendant of the Huguenots, Detroit by name, from Magdeburg, in Prussia, was appointed commander of the Army of the Danube. Aarifi Pacha, formerly Turkish ambassador in Vienna, was intrusted with the conduct of foreign affairs. He at once issued a circular-note announcing to the Powers that, owing to the barbarities perpetrated by the Russians and Bulgarians, the Porte could not engage to prevent the Mussulman population from resorting to reprisals, and massacring all the Christians whom they could find.

The Russian victories had caused scarcely less consternation in London than in Constantinople. On the news of the passage of the Danube, Admiral Hornby, with thirteen ironclads, was at once despatched to Besika Bay. The crossing of the Balkans induced the English Cabinet to send three thousand men to Malta.

The four Russian army corps in Central Bulgaria were so disposed as to form three separate armies. Two corps, under the command of the Czarevitch, operated toward the east, against the Turkish positions at Rustchuk, Rasgrad, and Shumla; a third, toward the south, occupied a position extending from Tirnova to the southern extremity of the Shipka Pass; while General Krudener, with the Ninth Army Corps, faced toward the Osma and the Vid. On July 17th the last-named commander received word that hostile troops had appeared in the neighborhood of Plevna. Three regiments sent to dislodge them were defeated, on the 20th, with a loss of sixty-six officers and two thousand seven hundred seventy-one men. About the middle of July Osman Pacha received permission to occupy Nikopoli, but before he could reach it that fortress capitulated. Osman turned southward, and, selecting the unfortified village of Plevna as the most favorable for his purpose, improvised there, in a few days, a fortification of the first rank. After the defeat of the Russians, on the 20th, a Turkish column was despatched against Lovatz; and with Plevna and Lovatz in their hands, Osman’s thirty thousand men were in a position to checkmate the Russian plans.

The Russian generals had been taken unawares; it was to them as if a hostile army had fallen from the skies. The advance in the Tunja and Maritza valleys was stopped, the Czarevitch’s army was condemned to inaction, and all available troops were sent in hot haste to the support of General Krudener. Handing over Nikopoli to the Roumanians, the latter officer, with thirty-eight thousand men, advanced against Osman’s position at Plevna; but in the mean time the strength of the Turkish army had been raised to fifty thousand.

The Second Battle of Plevna was fought on July 30th; and although the Russian troops conducted themselves with the greatest valor, they were repulsed with a loss of eight thousand men.

Osman failed to follow up his success, and contented himself with strengthening his position and bringing up reenforcements. The Grand Duke Nicholas at once transferred his headquarters from Tirnova to Biela. The two army corps which had been left behind as a coast-guard were ordered to the front; the guard corps, the grenadier corps, and other regular troops were mobilized; one hundred eighty-five thousand four hundred sixty-seven reserve and landwehr troops were called out, and an additional levy of two hundred six thousand men commanded.

But the regular troops could not reach the seat of war before September, and the others were not ready for action in time to take any direct part in the campaign. A new alliance of offence and defence between Russia and Roumania called forth no protest. Two divisions of the Roumanian army crossed the Danube at Korabia on September 2d, a third was in possession of Nikopoli, and the fourth remained at Kalafat. The command of the army of investment before Plevna was conferred on Prince Charles, and the Russian general Zatoff was made his chief of staff.

On August 30th Osman awakened from his lethargy sufficiently to attack the Russian positions at Pelifat and Selvi, but both attacks were unsuccessful. On September 3d the Russians again assumed the offensive. General Imeritinski, with twenty thousand men, carried Lovatz by storm, and joined the Russian army of investment before Plevna. With this addition, that army consisted of nine infantry and four cavalry divisions, with four hundred guns; and on the 11th a general attack on the Turkish positions was ordered. The Roumanians on the north succeeded in taking the Grivitza redoubt, but the Russian centre was repulsed, while an intrenchment which had been captured by Skobeleff on the south was recaptured by the Turks on the following day.

South of the Balkans, also, the Turks had developed more activity since the change of ministers and commanders. Suleiman Pacha embarked on Turkish transports at Antivari on July 16th, landed at Dedeagh, advanced by rail to Hermanly, and thence directed his march toward the Shipka Pass. On July 30th and 3lst Reouf Pacha, without awaiting his arrival, attacked General Gourko in a fortified position at Eski-Sagra, and was repulsed. On the night of the 3lst Suleiman arrived. Forming a junction with the remnant of Reouf’s defeated forces, he surprised the Russians in their intrenchments, and routed them utterly early on the morning of August 1st. Some of them fled toward the Shipka, others toward the Hankioi Pass. Suleiman followed, burning and massacring as he went, and with about forty battalions took up a position directly in front of the Shipka. Instead of sending a detachment to attack the Russian garrison, which numbered about four thousand men, in the rear, while the main army assailed them in front, Suleiman hurled his whole force against the southern entrance of the pass, and for four weeks wasted his men in useless attacks.

On August 23d the Turks had almost succeeded in forcing a passage, when General Radetzki arrived on the scene with reenforcements. Before daybreak on September 17th three thousand five hundred Turkish volunteers, advancing in three columns, surprised the Russians on Mount St. Nicholas, the highest point in the pass, and drove them out of their intrenchments. Suleiman at once telegraphed to Constantinople: "The Shipka is ours!" But the news was premature. By noon of the same day the Russians were again in possession of the heights, no reenforcements having arrived for the support of the Turkish storming columns.

The army of the Danube, to take command of which Mehemet All Pacha had been recalled from Montenegro, consisted of two army corps and an unknown number of irregular troops. To these were opposed, on the Russian side, two army corps, commanded by the Czarevitch. The Turkish forces were stationed behind the Black Lom. The Russians crossed that stream toward the close of August, but were defeated in several engagements and driven back toward Biela. All available positions between the Lom and the Jantra were fortified, and every effort was made to defend the line of the latter stream against the Turks. Mehemet All, on his part, received orders from Constantinople to carry the line of the Jantra at any cost; but after a defeat at Cherkovna, on September 21st, he fell back again to his original positions. This led to his removal, and on October 4th Suleiman Pacha arrived in Rasgrad to succeed him.

Instead of making at once a vigorous attempt to carry the line of the Jantra, as was expected of him, Suleiman spent more than a month in strengthening the Turkish positions at Rustchuk and Rasgrad and gathering reenforcements, and it was not until the middle of November that he assumed the offensive. Several attacks were made on the Russian left wing between the 18th and 26th of that month, but these were merely intended to serve as a cover for the main assault directed against the enemy’s right. On December 4th Fuad Pacha, with twenty thousand men, defeated the enemy’s advance-guard and pursued them as far as Yakovitza, near Tirnova; but instead of following up his success he waited until the 6th. By that time reenforcements had arrived, and the attack of the Turks was repulsed. Suleiman then made a serious attempt to break through the Russian left wing. Unsuccessful there also, he fell back across the Lom.

The unsuccessful attack of September 11th had shown that Plevna was not to be carried by storm. A pause of about a month ensued while the Russians were waiting for reenforcements. Toward the end of September Todleben, the hero of Sebastopol, arrived to direct the engineering operations necessary to a regular siege. It was resolved to surround Osman’s position, and leave him no other choice than to capitulate from lack of provisions or make an attempt to break out. The arrival of the Guard and Grenadier corps in October enabled the Russians to complete the investment toward the west and close the road to Sofia. In Orkanye, between Plevna and Sofia, a second Turkish army, under Chefket Pacha, had been formed, by means of which Osman was furnished with reenforcements and supplies, and on October 11th, in order to secure the communications between the two armies, twelve thousand men had been placed in strongly fortified positions at Gornyi-Dubnik and Telish. On the arrival of the Guard corps a Russian army of the west was formed, and General Gourko was intrusted with the task of capturing the Turkish positions to the west of Plevna. Passing to the south of that place he crossed the Vid, and attacked Gornyi-Dubnik on October 24th. At the same time a bombardment was opened along the whole line, as if in preparation for an assault. The manoeuvre was successful; Gornyi-Dubnik was taken by storm, and four days later Telish capitulated. Gourko’s army at once spread itself out to the north and south. On November 25th Etropol was taken, and on the 2 ist the Roumanians occupied Rahova. The whole country from the Balkans to the Danube was in the hands of the Russians, and Plevna was completely isolated. The operations of Gourko’s army compelled Mehemet All Pacha, who had succeeded Chefket, to abandon Orkanye and retreat to Sofia, leaving a garrison in the Etropol Pass.

Each week the iron ring around Plevna grew smaller as one position after another fell into the hands of the Russians. On November 12th the Grand Duke Nicholas called upon the Turkish commander to avoid useless loss of life by surrender; but the latter refused, announcing his determination to fight "to the last drop of our blood for the honor of our country." At length provisions failed, and a desperate attempt to break through the Russian lines was resolved upon. On the evening of December 9th, leaving the sick and wounded behind in Plevna, the Turkish army concentrated on the Vid. At daybreak of the 10th they began their advance toward Viddin in two columns. But the enemy was fully informed of their plans. As soon as the fortifications were abandoned by the Turks they were occupied by the Russians. The Roumanians and the Grenadier corps received the attack of the Turkish troops, and hurled them back on the intrenchments, now occupied by Russian soldiers. The Turks fought with desperation. Osman himself was wounded in the leg. Finally, at 12.30 P.M., the white flag was raised and the Turkish army surrendered at discretion. Ten pachas, two thousand officers of the line, one hundred twenty-eight staff officers, and thirty-six thousand men, besides the sick and wounded, fell into the hands of the enemy. The fact that no Russian or Roumanian prisoners were found in Plevna is one more proof of Turkish barbarity. In answer to a reminder from the German Government that the Turkish soldiers were guilty of constant violations of the Geneva Convention of 1865, to which the Porte was a party, subjecting the Russian wounded and prisoners to barbarous abuse, the Turkish Government naively replied that the provisions of that convention were not yet known to the soldiers, but that it would cause them to be translated into Turkish and communicate them to the troops.

The capture of Plevna enabled the Russians to resume an energetic offensive at all points. The Roumanian army at once began the siege of Viddin. General Zimmermann’s army in the Dobrudja was strengthened, and that of the Czarevitch was raised to seventy-five thousand men. A reserve of three infantry divisions was stationed at Tirnova. The Shipka army, under General Radetzki, was increased to sixty thousand men, and that of General Gourko to seventy-five thousand. These two latter, operating in concert, were to advance on Adrianople, the former crossing the Balkans by the Shipka, and the latter by the Etropol Pass, while, as a connecting link between the two, General Kartzoff, with a smaller army, was to force the passage of the Trajan Pass. On Christmas morning, leaving a detachment on the north side of the Baba-kenak Pass, to conceal his movements and keep the Turkish garrison employed, with the main part of his army Gourko began the passage of the mountains by a circuitous route, in order to attack the enemy in the rear. The cold was intense; the mule-tracks, which formed the only roads, were covered with ice and snow; and at places the ascent could be accomplished only by means of steps cut in the ice, up which the cannon were pushed with infinite trouble. The descent was still more difficult, and it proved a wellnigh impossible task to bring down the cannon and horses in safety; but by the evening of the 30th all difficulties had been overcome, and two days later the Turkish positions were in the hands of the Russians. This necessitated the evacuation of Sofia; and on January 4th, for the first time since 1434, a Christian army was in possession of the old Bulgarian capital.

By order of the Turkish Minister of war, Suleiman Pacha, leaving garrisons in the fortresses of Eastern Bulgaria, had crossed the Balkans to oppose the Russian advance and protect Roumelia, while Fuad Pacha had been appointed commander of the army originally commanded by Chefket. Pushing that army before him, Gourko entered Ichtiman on January 11th, Tatar-Bazardjik on the l3th, and Philippopolis on the 16th, after defeating Fuad Pacha at Kadikioi on the preceding day. At Philippopolis he formed a junction with a part of the forces of Kartzoff and Radetzki. The former of these had effected the passage of the Trajan on January 3d, with the thermometer at 17 below zero, Fahrenheit, driving the small Turkish garrison before him. On the 5th the left wing of Radetzki’s army, under General Mirski, and the right wing, under General Skobeleff, began the passage of the mountains east and west of Shipka Pass. On the 8th Skobeleff was at Senovo and Mirski at Yanina, and on the 9th, after a nine-hours’ battle, Vessel Pacha, Reouf’s successor, finding himself surrounded, surrendered to the Russians with thirty-two thousand men and sixty-six guns. This victory opened to Radetzki’s troops the road to Adrianople, and seriously threatened the rear of Suleiman’s army.

On the 16th Fuad was again defeated at Bestalitza, and forced to take refuge in the Rhodope Mountains. Suleiman himself was driven back toward Adrianople; but Russian troops intercepted his march, and on the l9th, abandoning the road to Adrianople, he turned southward, with the intention of reaching the coast and taking the remnant of his army by water to Constantinople.

On April 24, 1877, four Russian columns crossed the Turkish frontiers. At Sevin they were defeated by Feisy Pacha and compelled to recross the mountains, abandon the siege of Kars, and return to Alexandropol. The fourth column, under General Tergukassoff, took the fortress of Bayazid on April 30th, and advanced as far as Delibaba, with the Intention of forming a junction with the third column; but the retreat of the latter forced Tergukassoff to retreat, followed by Ismail Pacha, to the Russian town Igdir, destroying Bayazid on the way.

By the middle of July the Russian armies held the same position they had held before the declaration of war, excepting only that Ardahan was still in their possession. Reenforcements arrived in September, and on October 2d an unsuccessful attack was made on Mukhtar Pacha’s strong position at Aladja. The attack was renewed on the 15th with complete success; the Turkish right wing, consisting of twenty-two battalions, was forced to surrender, while the left took refuge in Kars. General Melikoff at once besieged that place, which was finally taken by assault on the night of November 17th, while General Heimann, with the remainder of the third column, formed a junction with Tergukassoff and followed Mukhtar Pacha toward Erzerum. On December 4th their united forces attacked Mukhtar and Ismail on the heights of Deve-Boyun, near Erzerum, and obliged them to retreat behind the walls of Erzerum itself. That city was finally evacuated by the Turks on February 21, 1878, after the conclusion of a truce.

Russian victory was now secure. The Turkish Empire seemed tottering to its fall, and the neighboring and subject States each prepared to appropriate the largest possible share of the booty. The recall of Suleiman Pacha and Mehemet All, with all available Turkish troops, had enabled the Montenegrins to reduce Niksic, Antivari, and Dulcigno; and on January 29, 1878, Prince Nikita led his army across the Boyana with the intention of investing Scutari in Northern Albania. The Servians, also, after the fall of Plevna had rendered Russian victory inevitable, bravely took up arms, and reduced Nish, as well as a few less important places. The insurrection in Bosnia and Herzegovina still continued. Crete was in rebellion-the insurgents demanded union with Greece-only the fortresses remaining in the hands of the Turks. Thessaly and Epirus were also in open revolt; and on February 12, 1878, twelve thousand Greek soldiers appeared to support the rebels and take possession of Thessaly, Macedonia, and Epirus in behalf of the Government at Athens.

But the quarrels of the doctors, which had so long preserved the "sick man" from dissolution, intervened once more to save him. Austria still preserved her attitude of neutrality. The Poles and Hungarians urged active interference in behalf of the Turks; the Bohemians and South Slavs were equally loud in their demands for cooperation with Russia. Pest was the headquarters of the Turcophiles, and greeted with illuminations all tidings of Mahometan victories; while Agram, the capital of the South Slavs, welcomed with rejoicings the news of Russian success. But Andrassy’s Government, supported by the German element, steered skilfully between this Scylla and Charybdis of Turcophiles and Russophiles, maintaining the strictest neutrality.

On January l9th Server and Namyk Pachas appeared in the Russian headquarters at Kazanlik, as Turkish plenipotentiaries, to negotiate a peace. But the negotiations progressed slowly; for the Turks were full of hopes in Lord Beaconsfield and the action of the English Parliament, while the Russians awaited fresh victories. The Queen’s speech at the opening of Parliament contained an announcement that, in case the hostllities between Russia and Turkey were unfortunately prolonged, "some unexpected occurrence may render it incumbent on me to adopt measures of precaution." At the same time the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Northcote, announced that he would ask for a supplementary estimate of six million pounds for naval and military purposes. This looked ominous, and Russia found it to her interest to hasten the negotiations. On January 3lst preliminaries of peace and a cessation of hostilities were signed by both sides. In accordance with the terms of this armistice, the Turks evacuated and surrendered to the Russians all fortresses still in their possession north of a line from Derkos, on the Black Sea, to San Stefano, on the Sea of Marmora. The English Government, fearful for British interests, now began to act in earnest. It was announced in Parliament that England, supported by Austria, would not recognize any private treaty between Russia and Turkey, but would insist that the terms of peace be submitted to a congress of the great Powers. On January 3lst, in the face of a protest from the Porte, the English fleet received orders to repair to Constantinople "for the protection of the life and property of English subjects." Gortschakoff at once announced to the great Powers that in that event Russia would find it necessary to march her troops into Constantinople for the protection of the Christian subjects of the Porte. A compromise was finally effected; and on February l3th Admiral Hornby, with six ships, passed through the Dardanelles.

Every effort was now made on the part of the Russians to accelerate the conclusion of a definite peace, and on March 3d, 1878, the Treaty of San Stefano was signed by Russia and Turkey. By this treaty Montenegro, in addition to its independence, received Niksic and Gacko, with the adjoining territory in the north, while its boundaries were extended to the Sea of Scutari and the Boyana River on the south. Servia also became independent, and received a considerable increase of territory to the south and west-the most important acquisition being the town and fortress of Nish. Roumania, whose independence was recognized, received the lower Dobrudja from Turkey, in return [()1 the cession of Bessarabia to Russia. Bulgaria, with the Black Drina for its western boundary, and extending southward to the Egean Sea at the mouth of the River Karasu, was to be a self- governing, tributary principality, with a prince chosen by the people and confirmed by the Porte, with the consent of the great Powers. By way of preparation for self-government the new principality was to be administered for two years by a Russian commissioner, and be occupied at its own cost by fifty thousand Russian soldiers. The reforms indicated by the Constantinople conference were to be carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Crete was to receive the organization promised in 1868; and a similar form of administration was to be introduced in the remaining Christian provinces. The war Indemnity to be paid to Russia was fixed at one billion four hundred ten million rubles: nine hundred million for the expenses of the war; four hundred million for the Injuries inflicted on Russian commercial interests; one hundred million for the insurrection in the Caucasus excited by Turkish agents and supported by Turkish troops; and ten million as compensation for the losses inflicted on Russian subjects within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. In view of the condition of Turkish finances, Ardahan, Kars, Batum, Bayazid, and the territory between the Russian frontier and the Soghanly Mountains were to be accepted by Russia in lieu of one billion one hundred million rubles, thus reducing the actual amount of the money indemnity to three hundred ten million (about $248,000,000). It was also provided that the Bosporus and the Dardanelles should remain open for the merchantmen of all neutral powers during peace and war alike.

England and Austria at once declared this treaty unacceptable and demanded a European congress. Russia consented, but would only agree to submit the Treaty of San Stefano to the perusal of that body, reserving to herself the right of accepting or rejecting the recommendations of the congress at her pleasure, and argued that the questions concerning Turkey and herself were for Turkey and herself to settle between them. England, on the other hand, demanded that the Treaty of Paris of 1856 should form the basis of negotiation, and that all the paragraphs of the Treaty of San Stefano should be submitted to the congress.

1From Wilhelm Mueller’s Polilical History of Recent Times (New York: The American Book Company), by permission.


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Chicago: Wilhelm Müller, "The Russo-Turkish War," The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 19 in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. Rossiter Johnson (Harrogate, TN: The National Alunmi, 1926), Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024,

MLA: Müller, Wilhelm. "The Russo-Turkish War." The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 19, in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, edited by Rossiter Johnson, Harrogate, TN, The National Alunmi, 1926, Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: Müller, W, 'The Russo-Turkish War' in The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 19. cited in 1926, The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. , The National Alunmi, Harrogate, TN. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from