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Russo-Turkish War
Part of Russo-Turkish Wars
January Suchodolski - Akhaltsikhe siege.jpg
Battle of Akhalzic (1828), by January Suchodolski
LocationBalkans and the Caucasus
Result Russian victory
Russian Empire Russian Empire
Supported by
Kingdom of France France
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
100,000 men, initially[1]

The Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829 was sparked by the Greek War of Independence. The war broke out after the Sultan closed the Dardanelles to Russian ships and revoked the Akkerman Convention in retaliation for Russian participation in the Battle of Navarino.

Opening hostilities

At the start of hostilities the Russian army of 92,000 men[citation needed] was commanded by Emperor Nicholas I, while the Ottoman forces were commanded by Hussein Pasha. In April and May 1828 the Russian commander-in-chief, Prince Peter Wittgenstein, moved into Romanian Principates Wallachia and Moldavia. In June 1828, the main Russian forces under the emperor crossed the Danube and advanced into Dobruja.

Action of 26 May 1829, by Nikolay Krasovsky.

The Russians then laid prolonged sieges to three key Ottoman citadels in modern Bulgaria: Shumla, Varna, and Silistra. With the support of the Black Sea Fleet under Aleksey Greig, Varna was captured on 29 September. The siege of Shumla proved much more problematic, as the 40,000-strong Ottoman garrison outnumbered the Russian forces. Furthermore, the Ottomans succeeded in cutting the Russians off from their supply lines.

Changing fortunes

As winter approached, the Russian army was forced to leave Shumla and retreat back to Bessarabia. In February 1829 the cautious Wittgenstein was replaced by the more energetic Hans Karl von Diebitsch, and the tsar left the army for St Petersburg. On 7 May, 60,000 soldiers led by Field Marshal Diebitsch crossed the Danube and resumed the siege of Silistra. The Sultan sent a 40,000-strong contingent to the relief of Varna, which was annihilated in the Battle of Kulevicha on 30 May. Three weeks later on 19 June, Silistra fell to the Russians.

Siege of Kars (1828), by January Suchodolski.

Meanwhile Ivan Paskevich advanced on the Caucasian front defeated the Turks at the Battle of Akhalzic and captured Kars on 23 June and Erzurum, in north-eastern Anatolia on 27 June, the 120th anniversary of the the Poltava.

On 2 July Diebitsch launched the Transbalkan offensive, the first in Russian history since the 10th-century campaigns of Svyatoslav I. The contingent of 35,000 Russians moved across the mountains, circumventing the besieged Shumla on their way to Constantinople. The Russians captured Burgas ten days later, and the Turkish reinforcement was routed near Sliven on 31 July. By 28 August, the Russians had advanced to within 68 kilometers of Constantinople, reportedly causing panic on the streets of the capital.[citation needed] The Russian army plundered the landscape and engaged in scorched-earth tactics, which lead the an English traveller Sir Adolphus Slade to remark:

In some mud cabins, hard by Yeni Bazar, an advanced post of Cossacks was lodged, in great distress for want of necessaries, which they were obliged to draw from Varna, two days distance. All Bulgaria they informed me, was in the same state, not a house standing, thus confirming what a Russian officer had before told me "the Turks did some damage, but we levelled all" The reason of their wanton destruction is difficult to understand, especially among people whom they were pleased to call co-religionists, allies,&c., but whom they treated worse than serfs. Pravodi, for example, a Christian place, they levelled to the ground, although it was not attacked. The adage, " where the Spahis' hoofs tread, the grass will not grow," may be applied with more reason to the Cossacks."[2]

The Treaty of Adrianople

Faced with losses on all fronts, the Sultan decided sue for peace. The Treaty of Adrianople on 14 September 1829 gave Russia most of the western shore of the Black Sea and the mouth of the Danube. Turkey recognized Russian sovereignty over eastern Georgia and parts of northwest present-day Armenia. Serbia achieved autonomy and Russia was allowed to occupy Moldavia and Wallachia (guaranteeing their prosperity, and full "liberty of trade" for them) until Turkey had paid a large indemnity. Moldavia and Wallachia remained under Russian protectorate until the end of Crimean War. Archaic slavery[Clarification needed] was abolished during this period. The Straits Question was settled four years later, when both powers signed the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi.


  1. A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle ... , by Spencer C. Tucker, 2009, p.1152
  2. Records of travels in Turkey, Greece, &c: and of a cruise in the Black Sea with the Capitan Pasha, Sir Adolphus Slade, page 59, 1833
  • (Russian) Османская империя: проблемы внешней политики и отношений с Россией. М., 1996.
  • (Russian) Шишов А.В. Русские генерал-фельдмаршалы Дибич-Забалканский, Паскевич-Эриванский. М., 2001.
  • (Russian) Шеремет В. И. У врат Царьграда. Кампания 1829 года и Адрианопольский мирный договор. Русско-турецкая война 1828–1829 гг.: военные действия и геополитические последствия. – Военно-исторический журнал. 2002, No. 2.

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