Military Wiki

Lua error in Module:Location_map at line 510: Unable to find the specified location map definition: "Module:Location map/data/Montenegro" does not exist. The Battle of Novšiće (Albanian language: Beteja e Nokshiqit, Serbian language: Бој на Новшићу) was a battle for control over Plav and Gusinje fought on 4 December 1879 between the forces of Principality of Montenegro led by Marko Miljanov and pro-Ottoman irregulars (bashi-bazouk) commanded by Ali Paša Gusinjski. The forces of pro-Ottoman irregulars were mobilized by the League of Prizren consisting of the local Muslims and Albanians from Plav and Gusinje in Scutari Vilayet and irregulars from Kosovo Vilayet.[1][2][3]

This battle followed the Montenegrin–Ottoman War (1876–78). It happened because the Ottoman Empire avoided to provide conditions for peaceful cession of Plav and Gusinje to Montenegro, as agreed in the Treaty of Berlin (1878). To straighten their position at Congress of Berlin and later to avoid fulfillment of their obligations from the Treaty of Berlin, the Ottomans unofficially supported the League of Prizren which mobilized the pro-Ottoman irregulars. They easily mobilized 14,000—15,000 irregulars because Plav and Gusinje were predominantly populated by the pro-Ottoman Muslims and Albanians who were opposed this cession to the predominantly Christian populated Montenegro. The irregulars gathered in Plav and Gusinje where they were put under the command of the Ottoman kaymakam of Gusinje, Ali bey Šabanagović. The Montenegrin forces of four battalions with 4,000 — 6,000 men were positioned along the demarcation line near villages Velika and Murino. Until the end of November 1879 they were under the command of voivode Petrović who strictly respected instructions of the Montenegrin government to employ static and defensive tactics. At the beginning of December 1879 Montenegrin Prince Nicholas appointed Marko Miljanov instead of Petrović. On 4 December 1879 one skirmish in the village Velika evolved into the battle when the Montenegrin forces advanced into Ottoman territory. Two battalions commanded by Miljanov quickly advanced without securing their flanks. The pro-Ottoman irregulars ambushed and surrounded them near village Novšiće. After several hours of fighting additional two Montenegrin battalions commanded by Vuković arrived, released forces under Miljanov from the encirclement and secured their retreat. Both sides suffered significant casualties. About a month later, in the subsequent battle, the Montenegrin forces near Murino defeated attacking pro-Ottoman irregulars.

In 1880 the Ottomans ceded seaport Ulcinj to Montenegro instead of two small mountain towns of Plav and Gusinje. Since Ottomans completely lost control over the League of Prizren, they disestablished it and crushed their forces in April 1881. Ali Pasha of Gusinje was promoted by the Ottomans to the position of mutasarrıf of the Sanjak of İpek and awarded the title of beylerbey. After a fierce disagreement with Prince Nikola in 1882, Miljanov decided to retire from public life to his native Medun. In 1912 Montenegro annexed Plav and Gusinje.


Treaty of Berlin and League of Prizren

The British Ambassador at Istanbul Austen Henry Layard emphasized that Ottomans would be held responsible for the consequences of influx of armed bands into the region of Plav and Gusinje.

The Battle of Novšiće followed the Montenegrin–Ottoman War (1876–78) which Ottomans lost and accepted de jure independence of Montenegro which received certain territorial gains. According to the Treaty of Berlin the territories of Plav and Gusinje (then Scutari Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire) were awarded to the Montenegro in compensation for territories in Herzegovina captured by Montenegro during the war. Until October 1879 the Montenegrin forces were able to march into this territory without resistance. When Montenegrins prepared forces for such expedition, the Ottomans intervened at Great Powers to stop it, under excuse to avoid eventual conflicts. The Ottomans officially had intention to respect their obligations, but in reality the Ottomans supported the League of Prizren.[4][5] The Ottoman governor of Scutari sent ammunition to Gusinje to be distributed to the local population.[6] Thousands of armed irregulars were mobilized by the League of Prizren all over the region and gathered in Plav and Gusinje. The British Ambassador at Istanbul Austen Henry Layard informed his government that Ottoman Empire did nothing to prevent influx of armed bands into the region of Gusinje and emphasized that Porte would be held responsible for the consequences.[7] Since October 1879 there were numerous skirmishes between the Montenegrin forces and irregulars.[8]

Velika attacks

On October 9, Albanian highlanders attacked the Montenegrins between Ržanica and Velika, in Vasojevići, and a bloody fight continued into the night.[9] The Montenegrins managed to push the Albanians over the border, and this faintly did aware the Albanians and their several thousand fighters.[9] On November 22, the Albanians attacked a Montenegrin guarding post of 300 men near Velika, after which 4 to 5 Montenegrin battalions were made ready.[9] The Bratonožići and Moračani with yatagans ambushed the Albanians from behind, and cut them, which forced them to flee; the Montenegrins caught in and slew for two hours.[9] The Albanian death toll was towards 1,000, while the Montenegrins had 85 deaths and 100 wounded, and some 100 horses and plenty of weapons were seized.[9] Among the Albanians, there were many ununiformed Ottoman regulars.[9]


Montenegrin forces

Marko Miljanov, commander of Montenegrin forces in the Battle of Novšiće

Until the end of November 1879 the supreme commander of Montenegrin forces positioned at demarcation line toward Plav and Gusinje was voivode Blažo Petrović, member of the ruling Petrović dynasty. At the end of November prince Nicholas I of Montenegro removed him from this position with explanation that his presence on that position is temporary cancelled as unnecessary. The prince appointed Marko Miljanov on the position of commander of this part of Montenegrin forces. Miljanov was appointed as member of neighboring Kuči tribe who therefore knew very well the territory of Plav and Gusinje and also customs of its population.[8] Miljan Vukov Vešović, an elderly voivode of Vasojevići, was appointed as Miljanov's adviser with position in Andrijevica. According to some speculations, the prince knew that eventual success of this campaign would not bring much glory to Montenegrin side while eventual failure could significantly discredit the Montenegrin commanders. That is why prince removed a member of his dynasty from the commanding position and appointed Miljanov as commander and Vešović as his advisor, both his political enemies.[8] Some authors speculated that Prince Nicholas appointed Marko Miljanov as responsible for takeover Plav and Gusinje knowing that his forces would be attacked by much stronger forces, because Nicholas wanted his political enemy Miljanov dead.[10] Miljanov was very enthusiastic with the opportunity to capture Plav and Gusinje. He was convinced that he was going to punish Ali Bey of Gusinje for his misdeeds. Vešović advised him to be very careful, otherwise Ali Bey might be promoted to Ali Pasha (which eventually happened).[11]

The Montenegrin forces were organized along the tribal lines. After the war with Ottomans Montenegro demobilized part of its forces expecting peaceful takeover and because it could not provide enough food for larger number of soldiers due to the drought of 1879. The Montenegrin forces that participated in this battle were composed of four battalions. Two battalions (of Kuči and Bratonožići tribes) were under direct command of Miljanov and positioned in Andrijevica, along demarcation line near village Murino. Two Vasojevići battalions (Moračko-Rovački and Ljevorečki) were commanded by Todor Miljanov Vuković and positioned in Berane along demarcation line near village Velika. They all had between 4,000 and 6,000 men (out of whom one thousand did not directly participate in the battle).

Pro-Ottoman forces

Picture of Ali Pasha (sitting, first from the left) with Haxhi Zeka (sitting in the middle) and some other members of Prizren League

The pro-Ottoman forces of between 14,000 and 15,000 were gathered in Gusinje and put under command of the Ottoman kaymakam of Gusinje, Ali Bey of Gusinje (later known as Ali Pasha of Gusinje).[10][12] Many of them were mobilized by the Prizren League. The Ottoman military officer Muhtar Pasha arrived to Prizren in November 1879. He had 15 battalions of Ottoman soldiers there. The Ottomans informed Montenegrins that this forces would be used to provide peaceful takeover of Plav and Gusinje by Montenegro. There are different estimations about the composition of the Ottoman forces, regarding the eventual presence of the officers and soldiers of regular Ottoman army and regarding their ethnic composition. The Montenegrin side emphasized that Muhtar Pasha secretly commanded pro-Ottoman forces which included many regular Ottoman soldiers (nizams) disguised as irregulars by wearing Albanian costumes. They also emphasized that pro-Ottoman irregulars were commanded by the officers of the regular Ottoman army who extensively used bugles during the battle, which did not exist in Albanian military tradition. The Albanian sources on this battle over-emphasized participation of Albanians in it without mentioning many non-Albanian Muslims that participated on the pro-Ottoman side. On the other hand, the Muslims from Plav and Gusinje do not even mention Prizren league in their traditional epic poetry on this battle, but only different tribes and their thirty bayraktars with Albanian language being mother tongue of three out of thirty bayraktars.[13]

View of Velika in 2012

The battle evolved from one skirmish of 4 December 1879 that was similar to many other taking place in this region since October of the same year. On that day a detachment of the pro-Ottoman irregulars attacked Montenegrin guards in the village Velika and forced them to retreat. Two Vasojevići battalions commanded by Todor Miljanov Vuković pushed the attackers back and chased them across the demarcation line, towards Plav.[3] Although the Montenegrin forces were ordered to employ the defensive tactics in case of the conflict, Miljanov decided to use this incursion of Montenegrin forces under Vuković and on the same day crossed the demarcation line advancing with two battalions (of Kuči and Bratonožići) into the territory of Plav.[8] They crossed the bridge over river Lim south of the village Murino and quickly advanced toward Plav and Gusinje along the river Lim.[14] Initially, the Montenegrin forces advanced undisturbed, which led them to conclusion that they were not expected or that the pro-Ottoman forces were not well organized, so they left their flanks unsecured.[15] When they reached the narrow part of the valley surrounded by high hills near the village of Novšiće, the pro-Ottoman forces attacked them. Without secured flanks the Montenegrin forces soon found themselves surrounded and stuck in the deep snow.[14] For hours they repelled numerous attacks while both sides suffered heavy casualties. In the evening of 4 December two Vasojevići Montenegrin battalions (Moračko-Rovački and Ljevorečki) commanded by Todor Miljanov Vuković reached the battlefield in Novšići and released surrendered forces of Miljanov securing their retreat. Pavle Rovinski reported that 109 Montenegrin soldiers were killed and 115 wounded in this battle.[16] The forces under command of Vuković did not suffer significant casualties.[8] The casualties of the pro-Ottoman side were around 250 men.[17] Some sources say that the Ottoman irregulars beheaded 220 Montenegrin soldiers and for six months kept their heads impalled on the sticks.[18]


The battle of Murino

View of Murino in 2011

About a month after the battle of Novšiće, on 8 January 1880 the pro-Ottoman irregulars attacked Montenegrin forces at Murino village, but were defeated and pushed back toward Plav.[3] According to the Montenegrin Prince Nicholas, the defeat of retreating Ottoman forces was so devastating that Montenegrin forces finished the battle before the night have fallen, which is something they usually don't do.[10] The Albanian irregulars burned down several villages which belong to Vasojevići (Velika, Ržanica and Pepić).[19]

This battle was considered as Montenegrin revenge for their defeat in the Battle of Novšiće. Right after the Battle of Murino Marko Miljanov received a report that Albanians are boasting for keeping Plav and Gusinje, not for battles they fought with Montenegrins.[20] Some reports say that Montenegrin soldiers brought 221 noses they cut from the dead bodies of Ottoman Arnaut irregulars.[21]

Outcome and significance

After the Battle of Novšiće Ahmed Muhtar Pasha invited population of Plav and Gusinje to accept peaceful cession to Montenegro

The Battle of Novšiće was not very significant from the military point of view. If it would have happened during the Montenegrin–Ottoman War (1876–78), it would probably remain hardly noticed. The contemporary circumstances resulted with its significant political consequences. The main consequences of the Battle of Novšiće were strengthening of the positions of the League of Prizren and losing any chance for Montenegrins to soon capture Plav and Gusinje.[22] Tis battle casted a certain shadow on the exceptional Montenegrin military reputation, gave some confidence to Albanians and significantly affected the position of prince Nicholas and his government. Both parties claimed victory after this battle, underestimating own casualties and overestimating casualties of the enemy. The Montenegrin government tried to conceal the military defeat and published information about 85 killed and 107 wounded Montenegrins as opposed to 1,000 killed and wounded enemy soldiers.[8]

The Ottoman sultan promoted Ali Bey to higher military rank (beylerbey)[23] and awarded him with enough money to build a mosque (Sultanija) in Plav. Only after the Battle of Novšiće the Ottoman governor Ahmed Muhtar Pasha issued a proclamation to the population of Plav and Gusinje instructing them to accept peaceful cession to the Montenegro.[24] Since this was proven impossible without bloodbath the Ottoman Empire ceded Ulcinj to Montenegro in 1880 as compensation for Plav and Gusinje. Soon the Ottomans completely lost control over the League of Prizren which fell under the influence of pro-Austrian Albanian nationalists so the Ottomans had to military defeat the irregulars of the league in April 1881. In 1881 the Ottomans promoted Ali Pasha to the position of mutasarrıf of the Sanjak of İpek.[25] Plav and Gusinje remained in the Ottoman Empire until 1912/1913 when they were occupied and annexed by Montenegro.[26]


This battle inspired poets of both sides that participated in it. The Ottomans made up a mockery song.[27] There are several poems about this battle composed by the Vasojevići tribe. Still, Rovinski decided to publish (in 1902) a song "The battles in Polimlje" (Serbian language: Бојеви у Полимљу), based on the singing of Muslim gusle player Osman Abdulah descending from the Kuči tribe. According to this song the pro-Ottoman forces included many neighbouring Albanian tribes led by their bayraktars. The Krasnići by Man Avdija, Gaši by Ali-Ibro, tribes from Dukađini by Mustafa bayraktar, tribes from Peć by Mahmudbegović, from Đakovica by Saitbegović and some by Salih-Agha. According to the legend, before the battle began advancing Montenegrin forces noticed gusle player Osman Abdulah spying on them, so they captured him. When he explained that he just wanted to personally whitness the battle so he could make song about it, Miljanov ordered his release.

On 12 August 2014 in the village Gornja Ržanica near Plav a monument was erected in honor of the Montenegrin soldiers killed in this battle.[16]


  1. Belgrad, Geografsko Društvo, (1978). Posebna Izdanja. Editions Speciales. p. 86. "Неспоразуми и оклијевања око извршења одлуке Берлинског конгреса довели су до битке на Новшићу 4. децембра 1879. године између црногорске војске коју је предводио Марко Миљанов и турско-албанских снага на челу са Али Бегом Шабанагићем - Гусињским." 
  2. Filipović, Muhamed (2001). Jedno dugo, dugo putovanje uz Lim i oko Peštera. Svjetlost. p. 104. "... te kad su pokušali da zauzmu i Plav i Gusinje, koje su odbranili tamošnji Bošnjaci na čelu sa sjajnim vojskovođom Ali-pa- šom Šabanagićem, zvanim Ali-paša Gusinjski." 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Istorijski zapisi. Istorijski institut u Titogradu. 1982. p. 66. "До тога је дошло 4 децембра 1879 када је један јачи одред албанско-турског башибозука напао црногорске предстраже код села Велике и потиснуо их." 
  4. Glasnik Cetinjskih Muzeja. Bulletin des Musées de Cétigné. 1968. p. 170. "... Албанаца, постре- кавана је рд турских власти на отпор ради избјегавања уступаља Црнрј Гори одређених територија, лрије свега Плава и Гуеиња. Било је оружаних еукоба црногорске војске са Албанцима, кар на Новшићима ..." 
  5. Medunarodni naucni skup povodom 100-godisnijce ustanaka u bosni i hercegovini, drugim balkanskim zemjama i istonoj krizi 1875-1878. Akademija naukа. 1977. p. 297. "U početku je vojvoda Marko Miljanov "popravljao polozaje", da bi mu sa Cetinja naredili da se strogo drzi odbrane. ..." 
  6. Istorijski časopis. Institut.. 1961. p. 151. "... све да област Гусиња не припадне Црној Гори. Скадарски валија Хусеин-паша упу- ћивао је муницију у Гусиње да се раздијели становништву. ." 
  7. Office, Great Britain. Foreign (1879). Further Correspondence Respecting the Affairs of Turkey. p. 103. " for Gusinje, and that the Turkish authorities were taking no steps to prevent the departure of these bands. I at once directed Sir A. Sandison to communicate this information to Sawas Pasha, and to speak very strongly to his Excellency on the subject, pointing out that, if anything should happen in consequence of these proceedings, the Porte will be held responsible." 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Ražnatović, Novak (1979). Crna Gora i Berlinski kongres. Obod. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Dva Petrovića Njegoša: Vladika Danilo Petrović. Štamparija Petra Ćurčića. 1896. "(23) окт. ударе Арнаути на Црногорце између Ржанице и Велике у Васојевићима. Крвав бој потраја до поноћи, најпосле претерају Црногорци Арнауте преко границе. Ово слабо освести Арнауте и њих неколико хиљада. понове 22. нов. (4. дек) нападање на црногорску стражу од 300 људи код Велике. Ту сад ступе у акцију 4—5 црногорских батаљуна. Братoножићи и Морачини с јатаганима улете у Арнауте и стану их. сећи, на пто Арнаути окрену леђа. Црногорци их. вијаше и секоше два часа. Арнаута погибе до 1000. Прногорци имаше 85 мртвих и 100 рањених, добише 100 коња и доста оружја. Међу Арнаутима било је пуно преобучених низама. Ни ово не опамети ни Арнауте, ни патроне им у Цариграду. Трећи дан божића опет ударе око 10.000 Арнаута код Велике на 3000 Црногораца, које су предводиле војводе Марко Миљанов Тодор Миљанов и поп Ђоко. Борба је трајала од 9 часова пре подне до мрака. Арнаути имаше мртвих и рањених 1400, Црногорци 36 мртвих и 70 рањених И овде је константовано, да је међу Арнаутима било много преобучених низама. Ту су се на црногорској страни борили Братoножићи, Васојевићи и Морачани. Нису се Арнаути ни на друге стране поштеније владали. 30. јун. (12. јул.) 1880 пре зоре нападну на црногорску шредњу стражу на Голубовцу на ..." 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Montenegro), Nikola I (King of (1969). (Cjelokupna djela). p. 567. 
  11. Prilozi - Institut za istoriju. Institut za istoriju.. p. 68. "... јако одушевљавао овим задатком и »кренуо с пуним увјерењем да казни Али бега Гусињца и Плављане«, а Миљан Вуков му је, испраћајући га, рекао: »Иди Марко, али пази да Алибег овога пута не постане паша.«" 
  12. Vuković, Gavro; Tomović, Slobodan (1996). Memoari vojvode Gavra Vukovića. Obod. ISBN 978-86-305-0260-6. 
  13. Bašić, Husein; Semiha, Kačar (2003). Hrestomatija o usmenoj književnosti Bošnjaka iz Crne Gore i Srbije. Almanah. p. 132. "Jer da je Turska odlučno pregla da izigra evropski zaključak o ustupanju Gusinja Crnoj Gori - postalo je jasno poslije ovog boja, koga je priredio glavom Muktar paša. U tom smislu obratio se knjaz Nikola predstavkom i velikijem silama i Porti, ." 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Djilas, Milovan (1994). Izgubljene bitke. Prosveta. p. 513.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Djilas1994" defined multiple times with different content
  15. Prilozi - Institut za istoriju. Institut za istoriju.. p. 68. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Knežević, G. "U Gornjoj Ržanici kod Plava podignut spomenik poginulima u boju na Novšiću 1879. godine". Pobjeda. Retrieved 27 October 2014. 
  17. Istorijski zapisi. 1973. p. 384. "Мада је црногорска војска бројила око 6.000 људи, у првом сукобу на Новшићу учествовао је само један батаљон, као предстража, из бригаде Марка Мшьанова- Он је одбио налете пла- вских, гусинских и арнаутских банди, али је ." 
  18. Stvaranje. Stvaranja. 1976. p. 1296. "... посјекли су на Новшићу двије сто- тине и двадесет црногорских глава па их држали на коцима од Никољдана до свете ..." 
  19. Anton Ippen, Theodor (1916) "Illyrisch-albanische forschungen," (in German) München, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot OCLC 35691167 "The Porte now ordered Marshal Mukhtar Pasha in Monastir to advance with his troops on Gucia and to take the district from the Montenegrins. Mukhtar Pasha left for Prizren and negotiated there with the leaders of the League in Gucia, where there was new fighting on 8 January 1880." 
  20. Istorijski zapisi. Istorijski institut u Titogradu. 1982. p. 71. "Црногорци су се добро осветили за пораз на Новшићу. У томе смислу карактеристично је обавјештење које је одмах послије боја на Мурини прибавио Марко Миљанов: „Албанци се једнако хвале што су уздржали Плав и Гусиње, а што се бојева тиче које су с нама чинили, њима се ни најмање не хвале." 
  21. Šarić, Blagoje (2005). Istorijske staze Šekulara. Pegaz. ISBN 978-86-7792-012-8. "О борбама за одбрану села Велике и бојевима на Новшићу и Мурини, односно Пепићу, Ровински је слао за лист «Руски курир» извештаје који имају велики значај као архивска грађа. Што се погинулих Арнаута тиче он наводи да су борци «донели свом командиру Тодору Миљанову 221 нос. Носеви су пребројавани и о њиховом одсецању се прича тако једноставно, као о свакој обичној ствари». Тако да прича о одсецању носева у бици на Шекулару има пуно основа." 
  22. Nastava povijesti. 1983. p. 187. "Osnovni efekat boja na Novšiću bilo je jačanje pozicija Prizrenske lige, i praktično je zapečaćena mogućnost da Crnogorci dođu u posjed Plava i... ." 
  23. Mikić, Đorđe (1988). Društvene i ekonomske prilike kosovskih srba u XIX i početkom XX veka. Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. p. 25. "Тако је вођ скадароког крила Лигиних снага Али-паша Гусињски, боравећи V Царнгр^лу 1881. годнне, добио чин беглербега" 
  24. Nastava povijesti. 1983. p. 187. "Tek poslije krvoprolića na Novšiću, Muhtar-paša se oglasio proklamacijom stanovništvu Plava i Gusinja — da se tobože priklone rješenju ..." 
  25. Fishta, Gjergj (2005). The Highland Lute. I.B.Tauris. p. 401. ISBN 978-1-84511-118-2. "Ali Pasha was later appointed mutasarrifor governor of Peja, where he was assassinated. The figure of Ali Pasha occurs in Albanian oral verse." 
  26. Radusinović, Pavle S. (1978). Stanovništvo Crne Gore do 1945. godine: opšta istorijsko-geografska i demografska razmatranja. Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. p. 74. 
  27. Mrkaić, Blagota; Vuković, Novo (1990). Usmeno stvaralaštvo u djelima Mihaila Lalića: susreti, dodiri i prožimanja. Univerzitetska riječ. p. 72. "По сјепању Пеја Грујовипа, Турци су тако исщевали војничку ругалицу послие поб еде над цр- ногороком воском у познатом обрачуну на Новшићу: Плав се спрда са седмеро брда, а Гусиње с књазом на Цетин,е." 

Coordinates: 42°38′28″N 19°56′07″E / 42.6410°N 19.9353°E / 42.6410; 19.9353

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).