@Lascaris , @emperor joe according to the " Ottoman Population Records and the Census of 1881/82-1893" by Kemal Kaprat, Rhodes Sanjak had around 39,000 Ottoman Greeks and 6,000 Muslims (civil administration, gendarmerie, army , navy etc included in the Muslim category). The Chios Sanjak that included Chios, Kos, Leros, Kalymnos and some minor islands had 70,000 ottoman Greeks and 4,200 Muslims. Kastelorizo had around 4,000 ottoman Greeks and 220 Muslims.
I am writing "ottoman" Greeks, because I think the Greek Kingdom nationals were excluded.
 
I hope Greece gets Cyprus, Constantinople in this timeline and maybe Cyrenaica later for it’s oil. Also I hope Greece will have an a stable economy. And that a lot of Greeks will not move out of the country.
 
@Lascaris , @emperor joe according to the " Ottoman Population Records and the Census of 1881/82-1893" by Kemal Kaprat, Rhodes Sanjak had around 39,000 Ottoman Greeks and 6,000 Muslims (civil administration, gendarmerie, army , navy etc included in the Muslim category). The Chios Sanjak that included Chios, Kos, Leros, Kalymnos and some minor islands had 70,000 ottoman Greeks and 4,200 Muslims. Kastelorizo had around 4,000 ottoman Greeks and 220 Muslims.
I am writing "ottoman" Greeks, because I think the Greek Kingdom nationals were excluded.
With all due respect to the late professor Karpat (and I respect him way way more than the likes of McCarthy) and the great work he did on Ottoman macro-economics and demographics, I'm inclined to believe the figures above are probably underestimating the Greek population, as Ottoman censuses tended to do. This was not just politics which was a major factor right before WW1 for obvious reasons both internal (assigning parliamentary seats) and external but also the Christians sabotaging censuses in hopes of evading taxation.

For example the population of Kastelorizo was ~8000 in 1892 and had stabilized to 10,000 by 1912. So it doubled between 1882 and 1892? Seems unlikely. My copy of Vital Cuinet's La Turquie d'Asie from 1892 which was based on Ottoman provided statistics , has the population of the sanjak of Rhodes at 63580 (7950 in Kastelorizo) and Muslims at 7395 with 96670 Greeks and 2110 Muslims in the Chios sanjak. Below can be found the whole table from the book.

1592681759533.png
 
@Lascaris so you have Cuinet's book? Awesome! I had only Karpat's.

You are right of course, I just didn't have another source. Now that I doublecheck, at least in the case of Lemnos, Karpat has understimated the greek population by at least 25%, according to the diochese's files.
 
Fellas, I would like to share an interesting paper on greek agriculture. The author, dr Socrates Petmezas has written a lot about greek economic history
[/URL]



Of these, I think the Ottomans would consider the Aegean islands as more important. Their economic value is nothing to write home about, but they control the Straits. Epirus has the lowlest economic value ofnall the mentioned regions. Thessaly was more valuable than Epirus, with large estates belonging to a turkish elite and worked by greek sharecroppers. On the other side, Thessaly was not well integrated with the trade networks inside the empire: Volos, the chief port of the region , was mostly developed after its annexation to Greece.
Given the altered circumstances ie Greek control of both Crete Chios and Samos, the Dodecanese seem a logical target with no strategic impact to the defence of the straits. So does Lesvos I think. Now the islands in the mouth of the straits, Lemons, Imbros, Tenedos and Samothrace are very unlikely short of war. As mentioned Cyprus makes also an obvious target one that already had a revolt in 1840. Then Cyprus could well develop into TTL Crete with repeated revolts to join Greece till it finally manages to do so.
As Lascaris has said, the Dodecanese are actually a very likely option given their rather minimal strategic and economic value to the Ottomans. Conversely, they would be rather valuable to the Greeks with sponge fishing as you have mentioned being a huge industry throughout the islands; Rhodes' vineyards were also relatively famous around this time as were its fig groves. Additionally, the Dodecanese Greeks were also proficient sailors and capable shipbuilders and their location along important trade routes would be an added boon as well. Finally, the ~100,000 Greeks in the islands would also be pretty nice pick up for Greece, considering they only have a population around 1.4 million people right now ITTL.

@Lascaris , you are right! I forgot about the Dodecanese. They have little strategic value compared to either the northeast Aegean or Cyprus.

Interesting fact: the major industry of the Dodecanese islands was sponge fishing. I have a phd thesis -unfortunately in greek- that states there were 380 sponge fishing boats in 1854 in the Dodecanese islands. If you add the sponge boats from Hydra, Spetses, Aigina, Ermioni and Paros from the Kingdom of Greece, the fishing fleet could be well over 500 boats. It was certainly the most profitable greek fishing industry at the time. A number of influential shipping magnates owned sponge fishing fleets.

The main fishing grounds were in Tripolitania but mostly Cyrenaica. Every year the boats would be filled with divers, ladden with large quantities of hardtack and sail across the Mediterranean to their fishing grounds. So, greek instead of italian Dodecanese, may very well lead to an increased interest in Cyrenaica.

@Lascaris , were any other greek economic interests in Cyrenaica at the time?
None that I can really think off other than sponge fishing, which itself was significant of course, Cyrenaica and Libya in general were not what you'd call the most developed part of the Ottoman empire at the time.
That's really quite interesting. I knew about the prominence of the Dodecaneses' sponge industry, but I didn't know it was that large or that it reached as far as Cyrenaica. I wonder what effects an earlier Greek Dodecanese Islands would have on this.

Speaking of the Dodecanese..what was the number of inhabitants it this time??
My figures put it around 90,000 to 100,000 people, with Greeks comprising well over 90% of the population.

Also speaking of cyprus, while the possibility of cypriots revolting constantly is a real,the reality is, when the suez canal is opened,cyprus would be of paramount interest to the British how will like to see the island under their control and not under any foreign power,even a friendly and a allied power like greece.. however with the increased unrest of the population the British would choose one of two ways of dealing with this problem..1 try to sever the connection of the greek population to greece by enforcing an English education on the populace (not that hard since for the most part the cypriots are illiterate with one school in Nicosia) or give the cypriots autonomy within the empire with no possibility of leaving...
That's probably projecting the early 1950s into the 19th century. Crete was arguably far more important strategically, but this did not stop her union with Greece. Cyprus on the other hand was for the most part after 1878 an imperial backwater, the British never bothered to establish serious naval and military facilities till the mid 20th century and were quite willing to hand it over to Greece in the 1910s, with their offer to hand it over to Greece as part of a British-Greek alliance in 1913 and again in 1915. Even if taken trying to enforce an English education is not likely to prove any more successful than OTL.

Nevertheless better safe than sorry, so I'd prefer Greece getting Cyprus as part of the deal for keeping neutral in the war. After all Kapodistrias is still alive TTL and in OTL he had asked the powers for Greek annexation of Cyprus. :)

The Dodecanese... no more than 100,000 people at this point I'd say. It was ~103,000 Greeks in the early 1900s, Kastelorizo not included.
One important factor is that Egypt is firmly in France's sphere of influence ITTL owing to the rather pronounced French involvement in the Second Ottoman-Egyptian War. Obviously, the completion of the Suez Canal will change this dynamic and prompt greater British interest, but still don't think Britain would really gain that much by occupying Cyprus especially if a friendly (and easily coerced) Greece is interested in it as well. That being said, I wonder if Greece receiving Cyprus during this war would be too much for it to handle right now. Perhaps something along the lines of the OTL Cretan State or Principality of Samos would be established instead.

Sadly, Kapodistrias died ITTL in 1847, but there are definitely those within the Greek government who would definitely jump at a chance to annex Cyprus.

Loved the last update. Looking forward for more!
Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

I hope Greece gets Cyprus, Constantinople in this timeline and maybe Cyrenaica later for it’s oil. Also I hope Greece will have an a stable economy. And that a lot of Greeks will not move out of the country.
Some emigration abroad is going to happen regardless of the state of the Greek economy, but it will be less than OTL owing to a stronger and more stable Greek state ITTL. I don't want to spoil anything, but the Greeks will certainly try to get Constantinople and Cyprus ITTL, Cyrenaica might be too much though.
 
That's really quite interesting. I knew about the prominence of the Dodecaneses' sponge industry, but I didn't know it was that large or that it reached as far as Cyrenaica.
In islands such as Kalymnos or Symi, half the male population worked the sponge trade. They embarked each year for a 6 months cruise along the coasts of Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and the Western Desert coast. Like the harpooners of Nantucket, the divers were paid with a cut on the catch. It was a dangerous profession, as diver's disease, currents and even sharks took the lives of many a diver. The communities back home got a cut on each catch in order to finance schools, so each yearly cruise was paramount for the whole island.

Check the history of Tarpon Springs in Florida, where the islanders set up a sponge fishing community. And here is a photo of a sponge boat in Cyrenaica during the 1950s, basically the same as in the late 19th century.

@Earl Marshal this is also the folk song that a Kalymnos crew would sing, in order to keep a rythm in pumping air for the diver down below. The video shows one of the last sponge fishing boats during the early 1970s. A captain is the lead singer in this version.
 
Last edited:
@Lascaris did populations of cryptochristians exist in ottoman greece? Like the linobambakoi in cyprus?
We know for certain that there were cryptochristians in Crete... for the simple reason that many of them openly declared their allegiance in 1821 and joined the revolution. Most notable was perhaps the Kourmoulis clan, its head Michael Kourmoulis, ostensibly Hussein agha before the revolution, was in reality a member of the Frieds Society and became one of the Cretans generals during the war. Four of the family were canonized by the Church after being executed during the revolution.


Then you have of course Pontic Greek crypto-christianity which was probably orders of magnitude larger than the phenomenon elsewhere as seen by the case of the Stavriotes. These were populations mostly devoted to mining from the Stavri/Kromni areas in the Argyroupolis/Gumushane region of Pontus that had ostensibly converted the Islam. The the Hatti Humayum comes in 1856 and much to the shock of Ottoman authorities several thousands of them declared they were actually Christian and demanded to be recognized as such by the government, in 1857 the great power commission in the area reported 17,260 people that had declared themselves actually Christian in the 55 villages of the area. By comparison the Linobambakoi in 1878 were around 1,200. This was the start of legal battles with the Ottoman government till 1910, as authorities did not want to recognise them as Christian since this would had also meant exception from conscription...
 
Here is a well cited article on the topic of the Pontic cryptochristians:

The ottoman authorities had a very effective tool against cryptochristians: If they came forward and declared their faith were labelled as apostates. According to the law, the apostates' children couldnt inherit anything from their parents. So, every chryptochristian knew that his family will loose everything. Of course in addition to legal actions were also more drastic solutions that usually included irregulars.
 
By the way, the 1860s are coming, along with the greatest lost economic opportunity of 19th century Greece. The phylloxera blight that devastated western european vineyards, especially the french ones. In OTL, the Greeks focused on just one grape product: raisins/currants. They failed to invest in promoting greek wine and brandy. Thus, when in the 1890s the french vineyards had recovered, greek vineyards crached - and crashed badly, as they relied on a single export product. I believe that if the vine industry had diversified, the crash would be softer and there would be enough time for greek wine and brandy to establish a foothold in the european market. It is important to remember that phylloxera arrived in mainland Greece only in 1898 and in some of the islands in the 1950s, while the majority of islands avoided it for even longer.

The great difference to OTL are the 49ers.
Over time a few of the Sarántaenniarides would choose to leave Greece for other lands and other opportunities, but the vast majority would choose to stay with most settling in and around Athens, Crete, and the Peloponnese. A particularly large group of Germans, now known in posterity as the Morean Germans, would settle in the cities of Tripolitsa, Kalamata, and Sparta where they would manage to retain trace elements of their language and culture to this
Crete, Attica and the Peloponnese were the prime wine regions of the Greek Kingdom. Germans- especially those from Baden and Rhineland and Italians had a long tradition in modern wine making. It should be mentioned that the first modern winery in Greece - Achaia Clauss, was established by a Bavarian in 1861.
north-view-of-the-winery.jpg

Achaia Clauss winery in Patras.

An interesting butterfly would also be an annexation of Thessaly before the American Civil War. The thessalian plain is a prime cotton land and at least in the mid to late 18th century had a lot of cotton plantations. The Greek merchants had almost cornered the egyptian cotton exports by the 1860s, so they were experts in the cotton trade. As you can see in this google book preview, in 1831 Thessaly cotton was competitive to South India cotton, but we should take into account that it was before the Suez Canal.
 
Last edited:
@Earl Marshal - One question that needs to be solved with the Russian occupation of Galicia-Lodomeria though is the fate of what would become the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (which sprang from the old Ruthenian churches in the Austrian side of the Partition of Poland)
Imagine that they will be re-absorbed into the Orthodox church,honestly aside from the greek Catholics following the pope they are in all other matters Orthodox(at least from my understanding,dont know the influence the catholics had on the Ukrainian greek catholic church)
 
Last edited:
Part 78: The Battle in the Balkans and the Clash in the Caucasus
Part 78: Battle in the Balkans, Clash in the Caucasus
The Balkans:


The Battle of Bucharest

Coinciding with the Sublime Porte’s declaration of war on the 8th of May 1854; an Ottoman Army 68,000 strong surged across the width of the Danube with a devastating ferocity and tremendous speed. The commander of this army, Omar Pasha Latas had spent the past several months preparing for this confrontation with Tsarist Russia, lulling them into a false sense of security and endeavoring to catch them off guard with an extensive misinformation and misdirection campaign. He would succeed on all fronts as the undermanned and underprepared Russian garrisons at Calafat, Giurgiu, and Turnu Măgurele were caught completely unawares and surrendered within mere moments of the Turkish arrival.[1] The Russian redoubts at Călărași, Oltenița, and Turnu Severin would fare slightly better, resisting for several hours before they too succumbed to the Turkish onslaught. By morning of the 9th, nearly all of the Danube’s northern bank from the frontier with the Principality of Serbia to edge of the Black Sea was in Turkish hands with only the cities of Braila and Galati managing to resist this initial offensive by the Ottomans.

After dealing with the paltry Russian resistance along the border, Omar Pasha quickly moved northward, reconverging much of his divided army on the outskirts of Bucharest four days later on the morning of 13th. Although the Russians had been caught off guard by the outbreak of war, the Russian commander Count Alexander von Lüders had moved quickly to counter the Turkish advance and mustered an ad hoc defense of the Wallachian capital. When the Ottomans arrived, they found Russian soldiers and Wallachian volunteers ready to meet them. Annoyed, but nevertheless undeterred, Omar Pasha pressed ahead with his attack, releasing his cavalry and light infantry to probe the Russian lines for any weaknesses. The Russians and their Wallachian allies would manage to repel them with ease.

Minutes later, Omar Pasha would launch a second and much larger assault on the Russian formation, committing three of his four columns to the fight. Although they would hold strong against the Ottoman attack initially, in the midst of this second attack, the Wallachian commander Prince Alexander II Ghica was struck in the leg by a rogue musket ball, forcing him to retire from the battlefield for medical treatment. The sight of their leader being carried from the battlefield would greatly demoralize many of the Wallachian militiamen who had been coerced into joining the battle by the Russians and had little interest in fighting beyond defending their families and home. Without their leader there to hold them together, the Wallachian units quickly disintegrated, stretching the already thin Russian line to the breaking point.

Recognizing this immediately, Omar Pasha promptly released his reserves who crashed through the Russian ranks, breaking them almost instantly. Although Count Lüders would attempt to restore order to his panicked troops, the Russians would be utterly routed and by midday the battle was effectively over. Some cursory fighting would continue over the next few hours as the Turkish cavalry continued to chase down the fleeing Russians for the remainder of the day, only stopping their pursuit with the coming of nightfall. With the Russians driven from Bucharest, the city offered token resistance before surrendering to the Omar Pasha the following morning.

Although the Turks had carried the field that day, the outcome of the battle would ultimately be irrelevant as the battered Russian Army of Wallachia would soon receive reinforcements in the days ahead, boosting their ranks to well over 120,000 men in the country. The Tsar had also dispatched one of his best commanders, Count Ivan Paskevich to assume control of the Balkan theater of the war. Faced with this prospect, Omar Pasha opted to loot Bucharest of its military assets, tear down its fortifications, and withdraw to the south where he could bleed the Russians white behind the safety of the Danube river and its fortifications. Their attempt to drive the Russians from Wallachia had failed, but they had struck a great blow in the process by disrupting the Tsar’s Balkan Strategy.


The Russians Flee from Bucharest
In the years leading up to the outbreak of war, Tsar Nicholas had increasingly come under the influence of his chief military commanders Count Paskevich and Prince Menshikov who predicted that in the event of a war with the Turks, the Christians of the Turkish Empire would rise in a great revolt against them. This rebellion of the Bulgarians, Greeks, Romanians, and Serbians would provide cheap manpower and plentiful resources for the Russian cause; effectively fighting the war on behalf of the Russian Empire. Together with the support of their Russian brothers, the Christian peoples of the Balkans would finally overthrow the Turks and drive them from Europe. In the eyes of Tsar Nicholas and his sycophants, this war was to be the last in a series of noble crusades that would see the vile Turks destroyed and the holy city of Tsargrad reclaimed for Christendom.

However, Omar Pasha’s blitz across the Danube had disturbed the Tsar’s stratagems as the Russians could not effectively support the Balkan Christians without control of the river. More than that, however, the Russians had overestimated the willingness of the Bulgarians, Serbs, and Greeks to fight and die on their behalf. Their recent setbacks along the Danube frontier and rather stinging defeat at Bucharest would convince many otherwise rowdy partisans, to instead hold their powder, at least momentarily. Many rebel rousers were simply unprepared to revolt in the summer of 1854 and would require several more months to organize their networks and ready armaments. More concerningly, however, was the presence of Britain in the war which presented a massive new problem for Russia to contend itself with as this formerly regional conflict now became a global war.

Resources that would have normally been sent south against the Turks were now needed in the Baltic or Far East, defending the coast from British raids and naval bombardments. Despite their best efforts, control of the seas would almost certainly be ceded to the Anglo-Ottoman Navies, and preparations would be needed to ensure the survival of the Russian economy which would likely suffer under British blockade. Despite this, the revolt of several thousand Greeks and Bulgarians later that month would convince Tsar Nicholas to stay the course, albeit a slightly modified course.

The Russian Emperor would still order that the Danube river crossings be retaken no matter the cost, but a significant priority was now placed on securing the crossings in the east first, namely Călărași, Oltenița, and Giurgiu. The reasoning was to secure an avenue into the Silistra Eyalet, from which the Russian army could then strike against the ports of Constanta, Varna, and Burgas. With the Balkan Black Sea coast under their control, Britain’s ability to attack Russia’s Pontic Coast would be severely hampered as they would have to base their ships out of the Straits or the less optimal ports of Anatolia.

To that end, Count Paskevich would summarily divide his forces in two, with one army under General Peter Dannenberg being tasked with pushing the Ottoman army from southern Wallachia, while the other half under Count Lüders would assemble in southern Bessarabia with orders to push across the Danube Delta and secure the Black Sea coast. As Omar Pasha refused to give battle however, General Dannenberg was forced to engage in series of sieges as he reduced the Ottoman outposts one by one. By the end of June, General Dannenberg’s army had finally reached the fortress of Călărași and immediately ordered an assault on its walls, only for it to be beaten back with heavy casualties. Undaunted by this setback, Dannenberg settled in for a protracted siege of the city as his army began constructing siege works, embankments for their cannons, and a multitude of trenches. Dannenberg’s attempts to establish footholds on the southern bank of the Danube would all fail, however, enabling the Ottomans to continually rush men and supplies into the city enabling the Ottomans to resist indefinitely.

PGBaF Calarasi.png

A British Political Cartoon Satirizing the Siege of Călărași

As this was taking place, Count Lüders’ Army began its push across the Danube Delta near Galati and Izmayli in the face of stiff Ottoman resistance. Fearing that a Russian crossing in the West would provoke a rebellion by the Serbs, Omar Pasha had delegated the defense of North Dobruja to his deputy Ahmed Pasha, while he guarded the Western crossings personally.[2] Ahmed Pasha was provided with a sizeable force, numbering roughly 41,000 men and he boasted a strong defensive position, but Count Lüders would not be denied. Using their advantage in numbers to its full advantage, the Russians staged a number of assaults over a several mile front, drawing Ottoman resources in every which direction. The main thrust would come on the 18th of June North of Tulcea as 20,000 grenadiers supported by gunboats and steamers pushed across the river despite the increasing losses. By sundown, Count Lüders had succeeded in securing a small foothold across the Danube, but only at a tremendous cost in blood.

Lüders’ trials and tribulations had only just begun however, as Northern Dobruja was a marshy and inhospitable land, with little means of supporting an invading army. The wetlands of the Danube Delta were also a prime breeding ground for pestilence, which ripped through the Russian ranks as they trudged southward. Of the roughly 60,000 Russian soldiers who had crossed the Danube in June 1854, over 27,000 would be rendered invalid by illness over the next two months. Making matters worse, Ahmed Pasha made the Russians fight for every inch of ground they took. Over the coming weeks, Ahmed Pasha would continue to pester the Russians, who made slow progress marching south, only managing to advance 41 miles in 11 days.

Once clear of the Danube Delta’s marshes and wetland’s, Count Lüders pace would improve slightly, but Ahmed Pasha would take this opportunity to counterattack the Russians with everything he had near the town of Năvodari. Despite mounting casualties, the Russians would fend off the Ottoman attack, but by the end of June, Lüders’ men were nearing their breaking point. On the 2nd of July, Count Lüders’ army finally reached the outskirts of Constanta, only to find it defended by Ahmed Pasha and his host who took up position behind the ancient fortifications of Trajan’s Wall.[3] Although old and terribly obsolete, the walls, vallums, and trenches still provided another obstacle for the exhausted Russian army to contend with as its strength had been sapped by disease and Turkish attacks. Despite this, honor and duty compelled Lüders to accept this challenge with gusto, and once in position he promptly ordered an assault on the medieval fortifications. The ensuing slog of a battle would see thousands killed for little gain on both sides.

For all his bravado, Count Lüders was no fool and would order a tactical withdrawal out of range of the Turkish guns while his army recovered its strength. Over the next month, Lüders would spend his time securing his gains in North Dobruja, reestablishing his tenuous supply lines to Bessarabia, and receiving desperately needed reinforcements for the many sick and wounded within his ranks. Unfortunately, Russia’s inadequate logistics and appalling medical system would mean that many of these replacements would find themselves falling victim to the same ailments that had waylaid their compatriots. Nevertheless, with pressure mounting from St. Petersburg to continue his advance, Lüders’ army set forth once more in early August, this time marching West towards Silistra.


The Defenses of Silistra in 1854
In the words of Tsar Nicholas, the city of Silistra was “the door to the Balkans”; if it fell then the entirety of the Balkans would fall with it. Like Călărași, Silistra controlled passage from the Danubian Principalities into the Balkans. Given its importance, Silistra had been heavily fortified by the Turks in the years preceding the war. A series of modern star forts and medieval stone castles surrounded the city of Silistra in a semicircle several miles out from the citadel in the city’s center. Connecting these defenses were a series of earthworks and trenches and several fortified islands, all manned by nearly 20,000 men. The defenders were also led by the charismatic and capable commander Musa Pasha, providing the Porte with a commendable bastion against their Russian adversary. Finally, Ahmed Pasha’s army of 35,000 men lingered in the Rumelian countryside southeast of the city, providing another challenge for Lüders to contend with.

As can be expected, Count Lüders’ initial efforts to attack Silistra were repelled as Ahmed Pasha quickly moved his forces in support of the city’s defenders, catching the Russian army in a vice. With the situation at Silistra quickly escalating, Count Paskevich would travel to the region and assume command in person. With his extensive experience fighting the Turks and an over two to one advantage in numbers (roughly 56,000 Ottoman soldiers against well over 120,000 Russian soldiers), Paskevich should have easily won the field at Silistra. However, the arrival of Omar Pasha on scene one week later would restore some balance to the battlefield. Having spent the better part of his military career in Ottoman Bulgaria, Omar Pasha possessed several strengths with which to counter the Russian armies on his doorstep. He knew the importance of Silistra better than anyone and had gradually strengthened its defenses over the past few years. He was determined not to surrender the city without a fight, and it would be a grand fight indeed.

Paskevich’s situation was also not quite as strong as it initially appeared as the Danube river effectively split his force in two; one half on the left bank besieging Călărași, and the other on the right bank outside Silistra. For his armies to assist each other, they would have to travel several hours downstream to the nearest uncontested crossings, while the Ottomans could simply cross at Călărași and Silistra at will, bringing their comparatively smaller force to bare much faster than the Russians could. This gave Omar Pasha a significant advantage over his adversary as he could face either Russian army and destroy it in detail before the other could arrive and support it.

Despite this handicap, the Russians would manage to resist Omar Pasha’s sorties, albeit barely and only at great cost. Matters were made worse by Paskevich’s growing timidity and caution, which resulted in numerous delays and overestimations of the Ottoman defenses. Nevertheless, Paskevich would order an assault on Călărași in early September, albeit only after the Tsar had personally wrote to him demanding he take the city. The subsequent attack would succeed, but only at the cost of nearly 5,000 men, more so, their situation would hardly improve with the fall of the city as word soon arrived that the British had begun landing at Varna a few days earlier.


British Soldiers Encamped North of Varna

Their arrival, however, would not be the great panacea that the Ottomans had hoped for, nor the great threat that the Russians had feared it to be. While the Royal Navy remained the pride of the British Military and the most potent naval force in the world, the British Army had been allowed to diminish over the past four decades as a series of budget cuts had reduced its ranks from nearly 250,000 men in 1814 to barely half that in 1850 - two thirds of which were in the colonies. The occupation of Galicia-Lodomeria and subjugation of Khiva would reverse this somewhat, but the British Army was still quite lacking by 1854. The quality of the Army was also in doubt as it had not participated in a major conflict in nearly forty years and its doctrine and tactics were decidedly Napoleonic in nature. Its officers were largely untested aristocrats who had purchased their commissions, and were more concerned with socializing and advancement than esprit de corps and military acumen.

Only their armaments could be considered high quality as they had recently begun equipping their soldiers with the Pattern 1852 Enfield Rifle which was vastly superior to the Model 1845 Rifle-Musket used by their Russian counterparts. Capable of striking a target from 1200 paces with surprising accuracy, the Enfield would be a true force multiplier for the British in the war ahead. The British Expeditionary Army was also equipped with a number of 18 pounder siege guns which while incredibly unwieldy and cumbersome, were truly brutal instruments of war capable of wiping out entire columns of men with a single shot.

The British troopers themselves were also incredibly brave and would fight valiantly in the years and months ahead of them despite their mediocre leadership and the terrible conditions they would be subject to. By all accounts, the British Army was the equal of the Russian Army at in terms of quality, yet in terms of quantity it was extremely lacking as they could only muster 18,000 soldiers (the 1st Infantry Division and the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards) for the expeditionary force to the Balkans in 1854.[4] In comparison, the Russians would field over ten times that number in the Balkans alone, while the Ottoman would dispatch over 156,000 soldiers to the region by the end of the year. Still, the arrival of these British soldiers complicated the situation for the Russians.

When combined with the Ottoman soldiers at Silistra, the Anglo-Ottoman forces effectively matched the Russians numerically, nullifying Paskevich’s greatest asset. Moreover, they were well positioned to cut off Count Lüders’s Army from its lines of supply and lines of communication, these concerns were later verified when the British departed Varna, marching northward towards the Danube. Were it not for the overly cautious nature of their commander Lord Raglan, the British would have likely caught Lüders Army in a bind between himself and Omar Pasha’s armies at Silistra, where they could smash it to pieces against the Danube as Paskevich and Dannenberg looked on haplessly. Instead, he would lose this opportunity allowing as Paskevich would soon after order Lüders to withdraw to Cernavodă. Dannenberg’s Army on the Northern bank of the Danube would continue to bombard the city of Silistra from the other side of the river and from the islands which had come under their control (thus maintaining the pretext that the city was under siege), but the retreat of Lüders Army would effectively end the Siege of Silistra in early October 1854.

The Ottoman offensive in May had completely derailed the Russian strategy and when combined with the constant meddling of Tsar Nicholas and the incompetence of several commanders, the Russians had failed to make significant advances in the Balkans before the British could arrive. The Russians would maintain their hold on Dobruja, but the frontier between the Russians and the Anglo-Ottoman Forces was largely placed along the Danube River. Over the next few weeks, both sides would continue to fire at one another from across the river, but given the width of the Danube, few were wounded and even fewer were killed. Eventually the fighting on the Balkan front gradually came to a halt as Winter was fast approaching and neither side had the means or the will to overcome the other at present. Come Spring, however, the war in the Balkans would begin anew and the siege of Silistra would recommence in earnest.

The Black Sea:

The Black Sea

Of the three main theaters of war in 1854, the Black Sea was perhaps the most decisively in favor of the Anglo-Ottoman alliance. Two days before to the declaration of war, the Kapudan Pasha of the Ottoman Empire Admiral Damat Mehmed Ali Pasha led a small flotilla into the Black Sea under the cover of darkness. Although it paled in comparison to its former might, the Ottoman Navy still numbered a very respectable 71 ships and 16,000 sailors in total by the Spring of 1854. They had also begun receiving British material and technical aid recently in the form of Captain Adolphus Slade, a British naval advisor sent to assist the Ottoman Navy’s modernization in the years preceding the war. Still, the Ottoman Fleet was riddled with inadequacies ranging from largely untrained crews to a plethora of dilapidated ships suffering from poor upkeep. In a head to head fight against the Russian Black Seas Fleet, they would be a rather weak adversary.

Damat Pasha had a few aces up his sleeve, however, as the fleet he brought with him into the Black Sea represented the most impressive vessels in the Ottoman Navy; seven ships of the line (1 first rater, 1 second rater, 2 third raters, and 3 fourth raters), six sailing frigates, three steam powered ships of the line, seven screw frigates, and seven smaller steamers. Damat’s ships were also manned by a number of British sailors and officers from the Slade Naval Mission - including Captain Slade himself, greatly boosting the fleet’s fighting prowess. Most importantly, the Porte had received reports from Malta that the British Mediterranean Fleet was presently being mobilized for war, while the British Levant Squadron was already in route and would reach the Black Sea within the week. Emboldened by this development, Damat Pasha now sought to draw the Russians out to sea and force them into an unfavorable battle just in time for the British Levant Squadron’s arrival. To that end, he would strike against the heart of the Russia’s naval power in the Black Sea.

Five days later, before dawn on the 11th of May, Damat Pasha’s fleet arrived outside the port city of Sevastopol, where they found the Russians completely unprepared for battle. Like their counterparts in the Balkans, the Russian commander Admiral Vladimir Kornilov had not expected an attack by the Turks so soon, especially without British support, and had thus dispersed his fleet. His deputy Vice Admiral Pavel Nakhimov had taken his squadron to patrol the Anatolian coast, while Vice Admiral Fyodor Novosiliski had taken a squadron of steamers and gunboats to support operations on the Danube River, and another eleven ships under Rear Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Istomin were in the Sea of Azov. Another 7 ships were at Odessa, 5 more were at Yevpatoria, 3 were at Kerch, and 3 were at Feodosia. The remaining 42 ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet were hauled up within Sevastopol’s harbor or anchored just off the coast.[5]

By themselves, the ships at Sevastopol would have been more than enough to handle the 31 Ottoman warships sailing towards them, but unfortunately for the Russians, many of their sailors and officers - Kornilov included - were ashore at the time of the Ottoman attack leaving several ships at, or below half-staff. Having been lulled into a false sense of security, the sudden arrival of the Ottomans before dawn suddenly threw the entire city into a panic as shells soon rained down upon the port city. Stirred from their restful sleep, many panicked sailors and civilians would be slow to react to the ongoing bombardment. Although the attack itself would be rather brief, lasting a little over an hour, the casualties from the bombardment would be quite high with 236 civilians and 587 sailors and soldiers being killed and another 1429 sailors, soldiers and civilians being wounded.

While the loss in lives was unfortunate, the real damage would be to the ships as four ships (a brig, a sloop, and two gunboats) had been sunk in the attack and another eighteen warships would suffer extensive damage. Seven ships (a second rater, three frigates, a steamer, and a sloop) had taken hits below the waterline and were now taking on water, while another frigate and brig had taken cannonballs to their rudders, rendering them inoperable. Two ships of the line (a third rater and a fifth rater), one sloop, and two frigates had suffered extensive damage to their masts and rigging. Three ships (a frigate, a sloop, and a gunboat) were on fire and would require extensive repairs. Most of the other Russian ships had also taken some amount of damage in the attack but overall, their damage was largely deemed to be superficial. Finally, two ships had lost their captains; one had been killed attempting to return to his ship when a freak ricochet struck him and his first mate as they were climbing the gangplank to their ship, while the other had been maimed when a mast splintered into his face, blinding him. A further two would be severely injured with one losing an arm, and the other losing a leg.


Battle of Sevastopol (1854)

For such a brief battle, the damage inflicted by the Ottoman attack was truly staggering given the relatively small size of the Ottoman fleet, yet the reasoning for this is rather simple. The Ottoman Navy had combined two new innovations in naval warfare: percussive shells and Paixhans Guns. Similar to explosive shells, percussive shells detonate on impact, enabling them to rip through wooden ships with relative ease or setting them ablaze. Their raw destructive power was magnified when combined with the Paixhans Guns, developed by French engineer Henri-Joseph Paixhans, which shot their ordinance along a flatter trajectory thereby increasing their accuracy and destructiveness tremendously.[6] Although both percussive shells and Paixhans guns had been used before in the Schleswig War and Second Belgian War of Independence against coastal forts and stationary targets; the Battle of Sevastopol would be the first instance of Paixhans Guns and Percussive Shells being used against another fleet.

The other main cause for this disaster was the general unpreparedness of the Russian Black Seas Fleet which had become overly confident with its superiority over the Turkish fleet and that such an attack was simply impossible from such an inferior foe. By all accounts, this reasoning was sound, but by believing this, many officers such as Kornilov and his deputies had lowered their guard against a direct attack on Sevastopol. As such, much of the blame for this disaster can be placed squarely at the feet of Kornilov and his subordinates for failing to properly prepare for such an event. Nevertheless, Kornilov quickly responded and ordered his remaining seaworthy ships to pursue the fleeing Turkish ships.

The ensuing battle - if one could even call it that - was more akin to a prolonged chase as the Russian and Ottoman vessels traded shots with one another for several hours before darkness fell across the sea. With visibility deteriorating and several of his ships suffering to keep up, Kornilov reluctantly abandoned his pursuit. Following this setback, Kornilov sent word to Nakhimov, ordering him to retaliate with great ferocity. In the ensuing days, Nakhimov’s fleet, numbering 6 ships of the line, 4 frigates, 4 steamers, and three corvettes would strike the Anatolian coast from Batumi to Sinop, destroying any Turkish vessel they came across be it warship, trade ship, or fishing ship. His attack would come to an end soon after however, as word reached him that several ships of the British Royal Navy had arrived at the Golden Horn.

Faced with this prospect of a combined Anglo-Ottoman Armada, Nakhimov quickly withdrew to Sevastopol where he would rejoin Admiral Kornilov. Kornilov, still wishing to redeem himself for his humiliation several days earlier, combined his fleet with Nakhimov’s and moved southwest towards the Straights. In a daring act of bravado and desperation, the Russian Navy approached the Eastern shore Thrace, as if to coerce the British and Turks to attack them. To their initial delight their ploy worked, but unfortunately the result would not be to their liking as the British Levant Squadron and Ottoman Navy proved more than enough for the battered Russian Black Sea Fleet. The battle that followed was rather one sided, the Russians losing nine ships - six sunk (two of which were scuttled by their own crews) and another three captured. The British and Ottomans only lost one ship to Russian guns and another to the negligence of its captain who ran his ship into an unmarked shoal, ripping open its haul.

Utterly defeated, the remnants of the Russian Black Seas fleet limped back to Sevastopol, with some breaking off for the Danube Delta, Odessa, and the Sea of Azov. Thereafter, the Black Sea would become a British and Ottoman lake as they possessed almost total control of the sea. While the Russians would make a few sorties from their ports, by in large, they would remain holed up within them for the remainder of the war, becoming little more than mobile gun batteries. Now with free reign over the Black Sea, the British and Ottomans began transporting men and arms across the region with impunity. British Marines and sailors would also take a prominent role in raiding the Russian Pontic coast from Odessa to Poti, disrupting Russian lines of communication and supply to their forces on the Danube and in the Caucasus. More importantly, they would transit arms and munitions to the Circassian Confederation and Caucasian Imamate who had both risen in rebellion against the Russian Government.

Transcaucasia:


Skirmish between Russian Cavalry and Chechen Raiders

While the Ottoman offensive in the Balkans had always been intended to be a limited affair, aimed purely at driving the Russians from Wallachia and then establishing a defensive line between the Carpathian Mountains and the Black Sea; the Ottoman’s would divert most of their resources towards the Caucasus front. The reasons for this were twofold: firstly, the rationale for the war was the defense of the Caucasian Muslims, particularly the Caucasian Imamate and the Circassian Confederation, both of which were engaged in a multi-generational guerrilla war with the Russians and in desperate need of support. An invasion of Russian Transcaucasia would be necessary to support this pretext. Secondly, the religious and cultural makeup of the region was far more favorable to the Ottomans than in the Balkans with Muslim peoples making up nearly half of the region’s population. As such, the Turks could count on a degree of local support in the Caucasus Mountains, aiding their efforts immensely.

To their great relief, they would also find that the Russian forces in the region had been reduced dramatically in the months leading up to the war, thanks in large part ironically to their own success. In 1844, the Russian commander in Ciscaucasia, Prince Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov had taken the fight directly to the Chechen and Circassian people for the insubordination of their countrymen. He burnt their villages, destroyed their crops, cut down their forests and constructed fortified roads into their hills and mountains. Demoralized and starving, many surrendered to the Russians in the hope of trading their freedom for food and peace. By late 1853, the Tsarist government felt confident enough to begin drawing troops away from the region and redirect them to other fronts such as Poland and Central Asia.

The Ottoman ultimatum in the Spring of 1854 would later lead the Tsar to rescind those orders, but by that point in time many units had already left the Caucasus and would take months to return to the region. The situation was worst in Southern Caucasia where only 30,000 Russians, Georgians, and Armenians were arrayed against over 100,000 Turkish, Kurdish, and Arab soldiers assembling across the border.[7] Efforts were being made to rectify this, as several militias of Georgians and Armenians were raised, yet their efforts would be in vain. When the Ottoman invasion finally came in early May, many regiments were out of position and still in route to the region, providing the Turks and their allies with a golden opportunity to strike deep into Russian Caucasia before the Russians could assemble a force to stop them.

On the 10th of May, four Ottoman field armies marched across the border into Russian Caucasia. One army 40,000 strong under Abdi Pasha was tasked with retaking the fortress city of Kars. A second army with roughly 36,000 soldiers, under the command of Mehmed Pasha was ordered towards Abkhazia with a secondary goal of breaking through to the embattled Circassian Confederation. A third army comprised of 30,000 men under Ali Pasha was sent towards Akhaltsike with a goal of seizing Eastern Georgia. Finally, a fourth force with 24,000 soldiers under Selim Pasha would march on Yerevan and occupy southern Armenia. Overall, 130,000 Ottoman soldiers were committed to the Caucasus front in May 1854, a truly staggering sum for such an inhospitable region.

Of the four Ottoman Commanders, Mehmed Pasha would see the most success as his army quickly seized the border fort of St. Nicholas before stealing a march on Fort Kale and Poti which both fell before the end of May. Abdi Pasha’s army would quickly surround Kars and place the city under siege, but his initial attempt to storm the city would fail horrendously, costing him nearly a tenth of his army. The army under Ali Pasha would advance into Northern Armenia and face off against a Georgian-Russian force commanded by Prince Grigol Orbeliani. The Southern Army under Selim Pasha would be tasked primarily with raiding southern Armenia, drawing Russian forces away from the North, which they would succeed in doing to moderate effect.

The bad news would continue to pour in for the Tsarist Government, as Imam Shamil and the Caucasian Imamate had been informed of the Ottoman invasion and rose in revolt against the Russians to support it. Within the span of a few days, nearly 40,000 Avars, Azeris, Chechens, Dargins, Kumyks, Laks, Lezgins, Tabasarans, and Tatars took up arms against their Russian oppressors, throwing Eastern Caucasia into chaos. They were followed a few weeks later by 50,000 Adyghe warriors in Circassia who quickly seized control over much of Kuban from the overwhelmed Russian garrisons.
The worst was still to come for the Russians as 10,000 Chechens and Avarians seized the Georgian Military Road in late June, effectively cutting off the Russian armies in Georgia and Armenia from reinforcements. The only saving grace for the Russians in the first few weeks of the War in Caucasia was Prince David Dadiani of Mingrelia who ably defended his Principality against Ottoman incursions from the South, West, and North. Despite being outnumbered, roughly 5 to 1, Dadiani would successfully defeat Mehmed Pasha’s Army near Marani, halting its advance and forcing it back across the Cholok River. This was followed up a week later with another victory over Ali Pasha’s army when it attempted to push north into Georgia. These defeats were only minor setbacks for the Ottomans, however, as the Russians were being steadily pushed back on almost every other front in Caucasia.


Imam Shamil of the Caucasian Imamate (Left) and Prince David Dadiani of Mingrelia (Right)

The lack of support for the soldiers in Georgia and Armenia by the Russian Government was largely a result of the Caucasian Imamate’s control of the Georgian Military Road, which when combined with Anglo-Ottoman control of the Black Sea and Circassian raids along the Pontic coast and Caucasian Line, made it nigh impossible to reinforce their forces in the Southern Caucasus. Adding to Russia’s troubles was the incapacitation of the Governor of Transcaucasia, Prince Mikhail Vorontsov who at the age of 72 was suffering from various ailments associated with his advanced age. No longer the stern and disciplined leader of ten years prior, Vorontsov was an elderly man on his deathbed, depriving the Russians in Caucasia of a strong leader when they needed one most.

As a result of this, the Caucasian rebels would frequently raid Russian supply lines and lines of communication with near impunity before slipping away into the safety of the mountains and forests. They would seize control of the roads and towns in the region forcing the increasingly frail Prince Vorontsov onto the defensive for the first time in 10 years. The prospect of independence for the Caucasian Muslims was no greater than it had ever been in the Summer of 1854. Sadly, for Imam Shamil and the Imamate, the old and infirm Vorontsov would resolve this issue by dying in late July and would be replaced by the younger and much more aggressive General Nikolai Nikolayevich Muravyov as Governor of Caucasia.

General Muravyov would quickly prove to be a far more aggressive, if a more uncouth commander than his predecessor. Within days of his arrival in theater, Muravyov would quickly restore discipline to the panicked Russian soldiers, before enacting a brutal campaign of annihilation against the Imamate and its supporters, razing villages to the ground, massacring civilians, and scorching the earth from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and the Kuban and Terek rivers to the peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. Worse still, Russia’s mobilization was ramping up by the end of Summer 1854, providing Muravyov with tens of thousands of fresh reinforcements. Despite staunch resistance by Imam Shamil and his vast tribal coalition, his warriors would be slowly driven out of their hills and forests by the advancing Russians. By the end of September, Muravyov’s men had succeeded in securing the Georgian Military Road, thereby reopening the route to the Southern Caucasus.


Russian Soldiers Storm a Dagestani Village

By this time, however, the situation in the Southern Caucasus was nearing its breaking point for the Russian, Georgian, and Armenian soldiers there. In Southern Georgia, Prince Grigol Orbeliani and an army of Georgian and Armenian militiamen was decisively defeated at Akhaltsike by Ali Pasha who subsequently besieged the city and plundered the countryside. To the North on the coast of the Black Sea, the Ottoman Army of Mehmed Pasha had successfully outmaneuvered Prince Dadiani and crossed the Cholok river for a second time, forcing the Georgian Prince into an unfavorable pitched battle, where his greater numbered and firepower quickly overwhelmed the ragtag Georgians and Russians. Along the coast, the British and Ottoman Navies raided Russian outposts with near impunity; most notably, British Marines had landed at Cape Adler and successfully seized control of Fort Navaginsky in a bid to open supply lines with the Circassians -a similar landing near Sukhumi would fail, however. Worst of all, reports arrived in early-October from the front that Kars was on the verge of capitulation which would enable another Ottoman Army to plunge into Russian Caucasia.

Although the siege of Kars had been ongoing for nearly five months by the beginning of October, the Ottomans had been unable to make much progress against the fortress’ defenders. The Russian commander of the city and Governor of Russian Armenia, Prince Vasily Osipovich Bebutov had led his men in a spirited defense of the city, but with no communication from his superiors, nor any hope of immediate reinforcement, his soldiers’ morale naturally began to suffer. Food was also becoming an issue for the Russian and Armenian defenders; although they had made some preparations for a protracted siege, after nearly five months even their supplies were starting to run low. Surprisingly, their munitions stockpiles were still quite plentiful in early October, but with frequent assaults by the Ottomans, these would not last forever.

The situation was not good in the Ottoman camp either, as disease and exposure to the harsh environment had sapped the strength of the Ottoman army over the past five months and would likely continue to suffer as Fall turned to Winter. By the start of October, nearly 1 in 3 Ottoman soldiers had fallen ill, of which 3 out of 4 had died. Supplies within the Ottoman camp, while not as bad as the city’s, were still quite poor. Making matters worse, the Kars garrison, in conjunction with several partisans in the nearby hills, made frequent attacks on the Ottoman lines, spiking a handful of cannons in one attack and detonating a powder depot during another. Moreover, the Ottoman commander, Abdi Pasha was privy to the events in the North, namely Muravyov’s campaign in Ciscaucasia and recognized that he would arrive in the Southern Caucasus soon.

By the start of Fall, General Muravyov’s forces in Caucasia had swelled to over 160,000 soldiers plus an unknown number of irregulars in theater, of this roughly 45,000 were in the Southern Caucuses facing off against four Ottoman Armies nearly 3 times their size. The remaining 115,000 in the Northern Caucasus were then split into two forces, with two divisions under General Alexander Ivanovich Baryatinsky being tasked with subduing the Caucasian and Circassian rebels. The remaining three divisions under Muravyov would proceed into the Southern Caucasus to drive out the invading Ottoman armies and relieve the beleaguered Russian forces there.

Crossing the mountains on the 10th of October, Muravyov quickly embarked on a masterful campaign as the northernmost Ottoman Army under Mehmed Pasha would be driven back across the Cholok River for a second time in mid-October, and then forced to hole up in Fort Nicholas. Rather than besiege him, General Muravyov would leave a small screening force of Cossacks and militiamen to obstruct their movements, while the main Army continued its advance Southward. Muravyov’s force would then engage the Army of Ali Pasha, which was presently besieging Akhaltsike, but when faced with a larger Russian Army, Ali Pasha wisely elected to abandon the siege and withdraw westward. It soon became clear to Abdi Pasha that Muravyov was advancing on Kars with great speed.

For Abdi Pasha, the situation was quickly becoming incredibly perilous. To be caught between the fortress of Kars and a massive Russian Army would mean the destruction of his own force, but to retreat from Kars after over five months of fighting would destroy his army’s morale. Faced with no other option, Abdi Pasha would elect to risk everything on one last assault of the city. If his men could take the city before Muravyov’s Army could arrive, he could potentially reverse the situation on the Russians, who would then be caught between an Ottoman controlled Kars and the two Turkish Armies (the Armies of Mehmed Pasha and Ali Pasha) to the North. Racing against time, Abdi Pasha and his subordinates quickly prepared for their last assault, tentatively planned for the 1st of November.

The day before the planned attack, however, reports from Abdi Pasha’s scouts revealed that Muravyov vanguard was within several hours of the city, while the main column was only a few hours behind it. Abdi Pasha had missed his opportunity, and reluctantly ordered a withdraw from Kars to the Southwest, in the hopes he could meet with Selim Pasha’s army and try again the following Spring. In the span of one-month, General Muravyov had managed to make three Ottoman Armies retreat from Russian territory after having only fought one minor battle. Nevertheless, through his aggressive nature and incredibly fast maneuvering, Muravyov had restored the Russian Empire’s standing in the Caucasus. Under normal circumstances, this great victory combined with the looming arrival of Winter would have brought an end to the fighting in 1854, yet the wrathful Muravyov was not ready to stop.


The Relief of Kars

Having come to consider the Ottomans cowardly and overly cautious after his lighting campaign through the Caucasus Mountains, Muravyov had been greatly emboldened and sought to push even further. He found an eager supporter in Tsar Nicholas who promptly ordered Muravyov to advance into Turkish Anatolia and seize Turkish assets in the region. After giving his exhausted army ample time to recover, General Muravyov quickly set off as snow slowly began to fall over Eastern Anatolia. With Winter fast approaching, the conditions of the Russian march westward were quickly deteriorating. By mid-November, the roads had become atrocious quagmires of snow and mud. Temperatures quickly plunged below freezing causing many hundreds to fall victim to the cold and increasingly hostile environment. Nevertheless, Muravyov pressed onwards and his soldiers, having come to respect their boorish disciplinarian of a commander, followed him.

On the 28th of November, Muravyov had caught Abdi Pasha’s army several miles east of Erzurum preparing its winter quarters. Alarmed by the sudden arrival of a Russian army on their doorstep in the early days of Winter, Abdi Pasha hastily readied his force for battle. Although they had been caught off guard and were outnumbered roughly two to one, the Ottomans were relatively well fed and rested, while the Russians were exhausted and freezing after three weeks of hard marching in the snowy hills and valleys of Eastern Anatolia. The battle that followed was evenly matched, with the Ottomans using the terrain to their advantage against the attacking Russians. The first Russian attack would fail, as would the second and the third, but the fourth showed some promise. With the battle hanging by a thread, Muravyov pressed them on for one more attack, promising his men hot meals, warm beds, and a long rest if they succeed there that day. Buoyed by this, his boys pushed on with an incredible might spurred on by a delirious desperation that would ultimately break the Ottoman thin lines. The day was Muravyov’s, but with the weather rapidly deteriorating Abdi Pasha’s army would escape relatively intact and quickly drew itself behind the defenses of Erzurum.

Although Muravyov would attempt to chase after them to Erzurum, the worsening weather combined with his thoroughly gutted army, ultimately forced him to finally relent. On the 1st of December, his army withdrew to the town of Horasan where he set up his winter quarters. With the first year of fighting at an end, the front in the Caucasus Mountains had largely reverted to the prewar border except for a small Russian salient into Eastern Anatolia and a handle of Anglo-Ottoman enclaves along the Black Sea coast. Overall, the Ottoman offensives into Wallachia and Georgia had failed, but the Russian counterattacks had similarly run out of steam in Eastern Anatolia and Bulgaria. Although some cursory skirmishing would continue over the month of December, the end of 1854 would see little fighting on both sides – most of which was carried out by irregulars and partisans. Nevertheless, the events of 1854 be quite pivotal for the war ahead, with its events encouraging many outside actors to consider involving themselves in the conflict.

Two states in the Balkans would play a particularly prominent role in the development of the war ahead. Owing to the fighting in neighboring Bulgaria, various Serbian nationalists and partisans would demonstrate against the continued presence of the Ottoman garrisons in their country, demanding their independence and an end to foreign oppression. Although Serbian Government would refrain from taking any hostile acts against the Turks at this time, the Ottoman Government was forced to keep thousands of desperately needed soldiers in the Principality as a safeguard against a potential Serbian revolt. To the South in the Kingdom of Greece, the situation was more serious as reservists were called to active duty, the Ethnofylaki (the Greek National Guard) was mobilized, and the Hellenic Army and Navy were placed on a wartime footing. Hellas was on the verge of war.

Next Time: The Price for Peace
[1] Many of the fortifications along the Danube had been dismantled or destroyed during/after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829 and were deliberately not rebuilt in the decades that followed.

[2] In OTL, Russia intentionally diminished support for a Serbian uprising to not offend Austria, who was still their ally at that time. The Ottomans knew this and were able to move men from the region when necessary. As Banat is controlled by the Kingdom of Hungary ITTL, Russia has no qualms about supporting Serbian partisans, forcing the Ottomans to retain their forces in the region.

[3] Although they are called Trajan’s Wall, there is actually little evidence that supports this. In fact, most historians today believe that the walls were erected during the time of the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires. Nevertheless, the name has stuck around.

[4] This may seem unfair, but in all honesty, the British Army in the mid-19th Century was quite poor and the OTL Crimean War would be a massive wakeup call for Whitehall.
[5] While this may seem absurd, the Russian Black Seas Fleet was indeed quite large, roughly 79 ships in 1854 in OTL. Given the importance of the Black Sea to Russia it is no surprise that they would invest most of their naval resources into dominating it.

[6] The Russians for their part would also utilize Percussive shells throughout the war, with many landward batteries being equipped with them.

[7] The situation for the Russians in the Caucasus was quite similar in OTL which is quite surprising since the Russians were the aggressor in the OTL Crimean War. This is worsened somewhat ITTL, because Russia was not expecting a conflict with the Ottomans at this time.
 
Last edited:
@Earl Marshal - One question that needs to be solved with the Russian occupation of Galicia-Lodomeria though is the fate of what would become the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (which sprang from the old Ruthenian churches in the Austrian side of the Partition of Poland)
Imagine that they will be re-absorbed into the Orthodox church,honestly aside from the greek Catholics following the pope they are in all other matters Orthodox(at least from my understanding,dont know the influence the catholics had on the Ukrainian greek catholic church)
I'm not very knowledgeable on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, but they will most likely be absorbed into the Orthodox Church as @Bloodmage suggests.

When will the Next update be published ?
Right now.
Apologies for the longer than expected wait, but in return here's a longer than expected update!
 
Top