List of Wars
Russian Empire
List of Wars

Serbian-Ottoman War, 1876

Also referred to as the SerbianTurkish War of 1876

A.) The Pre-History of the Rebellion

The Principality of Serbia had been Ottoman from the 15th century to 1817, when it gained political autonomy. The principality had a clear Serb population majority, but large numbers of Serbs lived outside her borders, in areas still under Ottoman administration (the Nis region, Bosnia Herzegovina etc.). In 1875 a rebellion had broken out in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was suppressed by Ottoman troops with brutality. In Serbia, Montenegro and in Russia - the latter claiming to be the protector of all Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire - public opinion sided with the rebels (the era of Panslavism). Both Serbia and Montenegro declared war (July 1876); Russia was bound by the Treaty of Reichstadt (with Austria-Hungary), in which both sides had agreed not to interfere in any war between Serbia and/or Montenegro with the Ottoman Empire.

B.) The Military Course of Events

The Serbian army was placed under the command of Russian general Cherniaev; together with 3000 Russian volunteers and the Bulgarian Legion, it crossed its southern border; the Serbian and allied forces combined totalled 63,000 men, opposing Ottoman forces 93,000 strong. The Serbian plan to take Nis and push toward Sofia was thwarted by the Ottomans. Cherniaev was replaced by the Serbian Horvatovic. In October, the Ottomans militarily defeated the Serbs at Djunis. Earlier, Montenegrin forces had gained victories over their Ottoman counterparts at Vuchee Dole (July 28th) and at Fondina (Aug. 14th).

C.) The Legacy

Russia did not want to accept an Ottoman occupation or annexation of Serbia; it had amassed a force of 200,000 men in Bessarabia and threatened to invade the Ottoman Empire. An armistice was signed in 1877, favourable to the Serbs. Shortly afterward, the Russo-Ottoman War broke out and the Ottomans, after resisting stoutly, were defeated. In 1878, the Ottoman Empire had to cede the Nis region to Serbia and, more importantly, recognized the political independence of Serbia and Montenegro.

The Serbian-Turkish War of 1876, from Balkan Military History
Serb-Montenegran-Turkish Wars of 1876-1878, from Soviet Military Encyclopedia, Engl. trsl.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted July 16th 2005

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