THE RUSSIAN OCCUPATION OF THE DANUBE
by Lieutenant General M. I. Bogdanovich.
(Chapter IV, Vol. 1, of Vostochnaya voina 1853-1856 godov, 2nd edition, St. Petersburg, 1877.)
The failure of the talks conducted by Prince Menshikov in Constantinople made it unavoidable that our government would use force of arms to pressure the sultan to grant concessions. Emperor Nicholas was able to convince himself that Turkey, rejecting the proposals from our side, was hoping for the help of the other powers, but that supposedly none of them except France would take a hostile stance against Russian and in that case it would be a natural for the eternal rivals of the French - the English - to draw closer to us.
Austria after the Hungarian War was so obligated to Russia that our Sovereign was able to count, if not on friendly cooperation, then at least on the neutrality of the Vienna cabinet. Prussia by her geographical situation did not take an active part in Eastern affairs, and in addition Russias friendly relations with her were strengthened by the kinship ties of their monarchs. However, in spite of such apparently favorable situations which promised the Russian sovereign a true predominance over Turkey, he did not want a war and hoped to achieve his goal of guardianship over the Portes Orthodox subjects not by a terrible blow but by frightening the enemy. For this he considered it sufficient obtain a kind of guarantee by using troops to occupy the Danube principalities of Moldavia and Walachia, where there were no Turkish troops of any kind. How little at that time our sovereign was planning to wage war is most convincingly shown by the disposition of our forces, with the greater part at a significant distance from the borders of Turkey, and by the complete absence of any kind of military preparations in our southern provinces.
On 14 (26) June a Highest manifesto was issued on the imminent occupation of the Danube principalities by Russian troops. The object of this action is plainly expressed in a note on the subject of the invasion of the principalities by our forces, preserved in the Main Military Archives: "Upon the receipt of a final refusal by the Porte to accept our conditions, send troops concentrated on the Moldavian frontier across the Prut to occupy the Danube principalities, without declaring war, but stating that our forces are occupying these regions as a guarantee as long as Turkey does not satisfy the just demands of Russia."
The die was thrown! Not wanting war, we began a bloody one.
In 1853 Russia was not ready for war, regardless of the huge numbers of troops carried on our armys rolls. (The composition and number of troops in the Russian army are shown in the Appendix.) Over a million lower ranks were on the ration lists and over two hundred thousand horses were being supplied with fodder, but the difference between paper and combat strengths was enormous. Let us remember that in the ranks of the Russian military was the Corps of the Internal Guard, numerous but almost completely unsuited for battle. It is also known how unsatisfactory at that time our system of reserves was.
The armament of our army was quite inefficient. At a time when a considerable part of the infantry of foreign armies already had rifled weapons and all of them had percussion locks, some of our troop units still had flintlocks. The training of the infantry was limited to precision and outward appearance in arms drill and precise timing in volley firing, and the cavalry was paralyzed by a riding form that was just as pretty as it was clumsy. The artillery was distinguished more by its speed of movement that by its accuracy in firing. Maneuvers held in peacetime were spectacular but had little instructional value. The provisioning of the lower ranks was very scanty and depended on the greater or lesser good will of the local inhabitants on whom the troops were quartered. Lacking the main ingredient of gunpowder, saltpeter, we suffered an extreme shortage after engaging the European coalition in battle. With the imperfections of our forces and means, and in general of our entire military system, we needed military leaders who would be able to overcome these disadvantages with their abilities and battle experience. But military ability shows itself, and fighting experience is acquired, only in the conduct of large wars when through the power of his own genius the military leader moves hundreds of thousands of soldiers to their designated objective. Famous leaders were created in the Patriotic War against Napoleon: Vorontsov, Paskevich, and Yermolov. But at the beginning of the Eastern War all of them were at the sunset of their lives.
In a circular from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to all foreign courts it was declared: first, that the occupation of the Danube principalities by our forces would end as soon as the Ottoman Porte satisfied our demands; second, that our sovereign desired neither the collapse of the Turkish Empire nor any territorial gains; third, that he would not open hostilities as long as he was not forced to; and fourth, that it being far from his intention to raise the Christian inhabitants of Turkey to revolt, he would restrain them in submission to the sultan (1).
The following forces were designated for the occupation of the Danube principalities and the southern border of Bessarabia on the lower Danube: the complete 4th Infantry Corps in Kiev, Podolia, and Volhynia provinces, under General-of-Infantry Dannenberg; the 15th Infantry Division and 5th Light Cavalry Division located around Leovo, along with their artillery and three cossack regiments. This totaled about 80,000 men with 196 guns (2). Besides these, the commander of these forces had at his disposal the Danube flotilla of Rear Admiral Messer (3). General-Adjutant Prince Mikhail Dmitrievich Gorchakov was named commander of the forces of the 4th and 5th Infantry Corps (4).
Prince Gorchakov, scion of a famous lineage descended from the princes of Chernigov, belonged to a modest family of Kostroma Province. Having received his education first at home and then at a private boarding school, he entered service in 1807 as junker in the Life-Guards Artillery Battalion (now in the 1st Life-Guards Artillery Brigade). In the same year he was promoted to sublieutenant in the guards artillery. In 1809, as adjutant to the Marquis Paulucci, he began his field career on campaign against the Persians. Then, returning to the guards artillery, he took part in the campaigns of 1812, 1813, and 1814, and received the Order of St. Vladimir with bow for distinction in the Battle of Borodino and promotion to staff-captain after the fighting at Bautzen. In ten years of service the military experience and courage of Prince Gorchakov brought him promotion to colonel and transfer to His Imperial Majestys Suite for Quartermaster Affairs (the current general staff). In 1820 he was named chief of staff of the 3rd Infantry Corps, and with these troops and already a major general, he took part in the 1828 and 1829 campaigns against the Turks. For his pat in the crossing at Satunovo where he distinguished himself as much by his fearlessness as by his actions, Prince Gorchakov earned the Order of St. George 3rd Class; and by the end of the war he was named a general-adjutant to His Imperial Majesty. Afterwards, in the Polish War of 1831, he began the campaign as chief of staff of the 1st Infantry Corps but in the fighting at Wawra he replaced the wounded General Sukhozanet as commander of the Active Armys artillery. By the end of the war he was chief of staff of the Active Army under Field Marshal Paskevich, remaining in this position for 22 years until being directed by Highest order to take command of the forces sent into the Danube principalities.
In 1853 Prince Gorchakov, 64 years old, was already a general-of-artillery since 1843 and a cavalier in all the Russian knightly orders. (The famous Suvorov was made general en chef after 40 years of service; Beningsen became a general-of-cavalry after 43 years; and Kutuzov, like Gorchakov, was a full general after 37 years.) His long association with Field Marshal Paskevich, a commander who did not tolerate independence in his subordinates, proved to be detrimental to Prince Gorchakovs character. Having completely lost his self-confidence, and in spite of his personal courage which remained with him the rest of his life, he began to fear any responsibility, not only before the sovereign, but also in regard to general opinion. "What do they say at court? How will they talk in Peterburg?" These questions hampered his actions, not allowing him to follow his judgment and subordinating his decisiveness to the counsel of others. Burning with a love for Russia and military glory and upright in all his acts and thoughts, he curried favor with other people and often showed an inappropriate lack of firmness in his position, which hurt him greatly, causing some to doubt his talents. Prince Mikhail Dmitrievich always demonstrated a sound and enlightened mind at military councils and in cabinet meetings, but as soon as he mounted a horse and had to direct troops in the field all his abilities disappeared in a cloud of doubt and indecision. Noble and forthright, he trusted people who did not always merit it. Thus, for instance, he allowed the Austrian military agent, Major Thoma into his headquarters during the occupation of the Danube principalities by our forces. Having received his education at the Richelieu Lyceum and learned Russian, this major sent detailed reports to Vienna about all that happened in the Russian army. And not satisfied with this, he even entered into communications with the Moldavian and Walachian boyars with the goal of subordinating the principalities to Austrian control (5). Gorchakov was concerned about the needs of his soldiers and loved them, who among themselves gave him the respectful name of "the Honorable Prince", but he was not able to relate with them. Though well-rounded, informed, rich in experience, and poetic in spirit, Prince Gorchakov was lost at every step. He was agitated, forgetful, spasmodic, and in spite of all his high moral characteristics, doomed by his weaknesses. And somehow recognizing this in himself, he lamented that "Fate gave him a great number of illustrious days, many bloody days, but few happy days!" (6)
On 18 (30) June, Prince Gorchakov ordered the commander of his armys vanguard, General-Adjutant Graf Anrep-Elmpt, to go at the head of our forces to try to forestall the entry of the Turks into the principalities by a quick appearance of our troops on the left bank of the Danube opposite Silistra, Tutrakan, and Ruse. The order further read:
"Although it is most likely that the Turks will not decide to appear on the left bank of the Danube, it is nonetheless well to be ready if events are unfavorable. In accordance with Highest will, if the Turks cross the Danube, you are, at their first approach, to send a parliamentary with the proposal that they withdraw across the Danube, explaining to them that the forces under you constitute the vanguard of a whole army that follows directly behind you, and that His Majesty does not want to begin a war with the Turks, but that I have orders to occupy the principalities, so that if it does not please the Turks to withdraw voluntarily then on the basis of the orders you are given, you will be obliged to compel them by force of arms. The Turks can do one of two things: either send small parties into Walachia to cause disorder, or cross the Danube with somewhat significant forces and use them in opposing a Russian occupation of this region. You have the strictest responsibility that in no case is there to be contact with any Turkish forces which can engage you in battle not only with some chance of success, but even in such numbers that you are not assured of repelling them without any risk. If the Turks do cross the Danube in such significant numbers that, in accordance with the above, you are unable to engage them in battle, you are to confine yourself to observing them, always keeping at such a distance that the enemy is not able to attack you. And if he moves forward, then you must retreat to Focsani and Tecuci where I am concentrating my forces. In such a withdrawal, keep your force away from the enemy as described above. If such an insignificant party is in front of you that you are able to drive it off without the smallest danger of failure, and if they do not withdraw after you make your proposal that they do so, then you are to attack them and drive them across the Danube."
As for the Walachian militia, General Anrep was directed not to use these troops in action against the Turks under any circumstances, but was to withdraw them behind the cover of our vanguard (7).
The vanguard of our army under Graf Anrep crossed the Prut at Leovo on 21 June (3 July) and by forced marches moved through Falciu, Tecuci, Focsani, and Ramnicu Sarat to Bucharest, having detached an observation force towards Slobozia.
The main forces crossed the Prut at Skulyany and Leovo between 21 June and 4 July and continued further in three columns. The right column was under Lieutenant General Liprandi and made up of the 12th Infantry Division with its artillery, moving from Skulyany to Focsani. The center was under General-of-Infantry Dannenberg and consisted of the second brigade of the 10th Infantry Division and the 11th Infantry Division with their artillery, 4th Rifle Battalion, 4th Sapper Battalion with its pontoon park, a mobile artillery park, a mobile hospital, Don Cossack Regiment No. 25, one sotnia of Don Cossack Regiment No. 37, and a Don Cossack battery. This column moved from Skulyany through Iasi (Jassy) and Barlad (Birlad) to Tecuci. The left column under Lieutenant General Graf Nirod was made up of the first brigade of the 10th Infantry Division and the 4th Light Cavalry Division with their artillery, one company of the 5th Sapper Battalion with its pontoon park and pontoon company, a mobile hospital, and five sotnias of Don Cossack Regiment No. 37, moving from Leovo through Falciu and Barlad to Tecuci also.
Of the troops of the 5th Infantry Corps, beside those sent to the eastern shore of the Black Sea (13th Infantry Division), those left in Odessa (14th Infantry Division), and those moving into the principalities (5th Light Cavalry Division under Major General Fishbach and a force under Major General Englegardt made up of five battalions, two light batteries of the 15th Artillery Brigade, a sapper company, a pontoon company, and five cossack sotnias), the remaining part of the 15th Infantry Division with its artillery deployed on the lower Danube at Reni, Izmail, and Kiliya under the personal command of the corps commander, General-Adjutant Lüders (8). Thus one of the best generals of our army, who had so brilliantly shown his military talents in Transylvania, was fated to be inactive.
Graf Aleksandr Nikolaevich Lüders was born and grew up in military surroundings. Already in 1805, when he was nine years old, he was enrolled for service in the Bryansk Musketeer Regiment, which was part of a brigade commanded by his father. At the age of fifteen and already a lieutenant under Graf Kamenskii, he took part in the Battle of Batin, receiving a gold sword and transfer in the same rank to the Life-Guards Jäger Regiment. With this regiment Lüders took part in the battles of the Patriotic War and the 1813 campaign up to the Battle of Kulm, where he had a bone in his leg shattered. The Turkish campaign of 1828 found Lüders in the rank of colonel commanding the 37th Jäger Regiment. He subsequently brought this unit to such an excellent state that when Lüders was at Shumla the corps commander, Graf Rüdiger, shook his hand and said, "Where your regiment is, there one does not need a division." In the following campaign of 1829, he was in the vanguard with his jägers, first at the crossing of the Balkans and then at the capture of Aidos. For this last action he was decorated with the Order of St. George 4th Class, which according to Graf Rüdiger, he deserved twenty times over. For his demonstrated excellence, Lüders was promoted to major general in that same year.
In the Polish War of 1831 Lüders commanded the column that stormed the fortifications at Wolja and was decorated with the Order of St. Anne 1st Class and promoted to lieutenant general. By the time Poland was subjugated he was named chief of staff of the 2nd Infantry Corps.
In 1837 the 41-year old Lüders was named commander of the 5th Infantry Corps and from that time on he was an independent actor on the military scene. In 1843 he was promoted to general-of-infantry, and in 1844 and 1845 he took command of the forces in Daghestan and was in several expeditions. In 1848 he was named commander of the forces occupying the Danube principalities and in 1849 he played a shining part in pacifying Hungary. Lüders actions in Transylvania with a part of the 5th Corps must in all justice be recognized as exemplary. For this glorious campaign he was awarded the rank of general-adjutant, the Order of St. George 2nd Class, and a Highest citation in which the actions of the troops of the 5th Infantry Corps were recognized as heroic. The Austrian emperor decorated Lüders with the orders of Maria Theresa 2nd Class and Leopold 1st Class. In 1853 when calamitous times overtook Russia - the time of the Eastern War - Graf Lüders was 57 years old.
In 1853 and 1854 the theater of war in European Turkey was almost exclusively the Danube principalities (Moldavia and Walachia) and the eastern part of Bulgaria. A significant part of Moldavia is covered by secondary mountain ridges, separated in the southeast from the Carpathians. One of these with its spurs covers the region between the Prut and Siret rivers, and another branches off between the tributaries of the Siret, pressing its steep slopes against this river. The Siret, flowing through Moldavia from north to south, divides this country into two lengths completely different in their local character.
The region lying to the east of the Siret is subdivided into two parts by a mountain chain going from west to southeast and which abuts the slopes lining the Siret. The part to the north enjoys a mild climate, is very fertile and although the mountains there are generally accessible, nevertheless their sides are cut in various directions with a multitude of steep-banked streams and ravines. In contrast, the land south of the ridge has a warm climate and yields nothing to the northern part in fertility, but when it is very hot with not enough rain it is sometimes lacking all vegetation. From the slope against the Siret River and from the ridges run many secondary heights which gradually become lower towards the south and end at the plain between Tecuci and Galati (Galatz). The heights are gently sloping and farmed in places, but their tops and also some of their slopes and valleys are covered with woods. The rivers of this region have low banks which are marshy in places, a slow current, miry silt beds, and contain water that is not suitable for drinking. On the right bank of the Siret, spurs of the Carpathians stretch between tributaries of the river. Reaching a height of 7000 feet in the neighborhood of the main ridge, rocky and covered with thick forests, these mountains gradually become lower and finally form a broad plateau or high tableland commanding the valley of the Siret. The rivers - or rather, mountain streams - of this region have very fast currents and quickly fill up with rain, cutting communications and then subsiding just as unexpectedly.
The Prut River, whose lower reach separates Moldavia from Bessarabia, issues from the foot of one of the dominating mountains of the Carpathian range. In the region above Radauti, although the bank on the Bessarabia side is lower than in Moldavia, it approaches closer to the river and so commands the opposite, low-lying gullies along which lie rather steep hills about a half-mile further back. Below Radauti, the banks command each other in turns, forming a narrow place called the Devils Pond [Chortovyi Prud]. A little above the town of Skulyany, the level land of the right bank is crisscrossed by many ravines and dells which during wet weather fill with water so that they may hinder the passage of troops, but this problem does not exist below Skulyany at the mouth of the Jijia River. Further on, to the confluence of the Prut with the Danube, the river banks are generally low and marshy, especially on the right side. On the lower reaches of the Prut, there are only a few places suitable for crossing because of the wide marshes. The best of them are at Vadului-Isaccea (Isakcha) and about two miles above Reni. The Prut is 180 to 300 feet wide and 5 to 20 feet deep, but there are fords in many places. There were bridges at Skulyany and Leovo and ferries at Radauti and the mouth of the river on the road from Reni to Galati.
In Moldavia there were many large and small roads suitable enough for the passage of troops. Improved routes (of which there were few in 1853), post roads, and the better roads in general almost everywhere followed the direction of river valleys, and since the rivers flowed for the most part from north to south or from northwest to southeast, the valley routes were better than the ones that cut across, especially in spring or anytime after rains.
With the exception of its frontier with Moldavia, Walachia, which stretches for about 75 miles, is surrounded by natural borders. In the north it is separated from Austrian territories (a small part of the Banat and Transylvania) by the almost impassable Carpathians through which lead only a few narrow tracks: through the pass and village of Varciorova, across the Vulcanului mountains; through the pass of Rothenturm (Red Tower, Turnu Rosa) in the basin of the Olt River; and the Tertsburg, Temes, and Bozai passes through which lead trails from Kronstadt to Walachia. Everywhere else Walachia is bordered by the Danube, with Serbia to the west and Bulgaria in the south and east. The western part of Walachia (Lesser Walachia) is more mountainous than the eastern.
Bulgaria itself is a level region more elevated than the Danubian plain of Moldavia and Walachia. The eastern part of Bulgaria (Babadag Province), between the Danube, Black Sea, and Trajans Wall that goes from Cernavoda to Constanta (Kyustendzha), is mountainous in the north and covered with forests and lakes. The further south one goes the more it becomes a swampy flatland covered with marshes and sandy soils. This southern part (Dobruja, Dobrudzha) is completely barren of vegetation and flowing water and is very sparsely settled. The country lying to the south from Trajans Wall to Bazardzhik is poorer yet and a desert.
From the dominating peaks of the Transylvanian range, the Parangu and the Oslo, which reach about 8500 feet, begin many spurs which gradually become lower and with their branches fill up the northwest part of the principality to a line from Craiova through Ploesti to Focsani. The main city of Walachia is Bucharest which is 250 feet above sea level. Further south and east of the above line the land is completely green open and rarely are any rolling hills encountered.
The Danube covers the border of Walachia from Orsova to Galati for a distance of about 400 miles. It is not only a firm border for Walachia for a significant distance, but is also a waterway for the countrys products. Although the significance of the Danube as a protection for the principalities against Turkey is less today because of the destruction of the left-bank fortresses, it can still be counted as a very important defensive line for Walachia due to its impressive width as well as its swift current. The speed of the Danube current reaches 4 feet per second at New Orsova. A little below this point, at the so-called Iron Gates, it is one-and-a-half times faster, with an average speed in the lower Danube of more than 4 feet per second. The reason for this, given the small fall in elevation of the Danube, is found in the pressure of the many tributaries of this river which all issue from high mountains and flow with unusual swiftness. The depth of the Danube in the lower basin that goes around Walachia varies from 10 to 100 feet. An influx of water into the Danube occurs twice each year. First, in spring, from the melting of the snows and ice on the rivers tributaries and from the spring rains, when the waters rise to such a height that they often overflow their banks, flooding a large part of the islands and low-lying Walachian countryside and cutting communications with the left bank for up to half a year. As a consequence of the inundation of the land, there is much stagnant water which when warmed by the summer heat gives rise to widespread fevers among the riverside inhabitants. Second, in July and August, there is an additional influx of water from the melting snows on the high mountains in which the feeders of the Danube have their own origins. Although this influx is not as significant as the on in spring, it nevertheless allows small boats to pass through the rapids of the Iron Gates.
Crossing the Danube by a ford is only possible during extreme droughts which can last a whole year, as happened, for example, in 1834 when fords opened at the Iron Gates, at Calafat, and in other places. But generally it is only possible to cross the Danube by bridges or on boats and ferries. Until the 1828-1829 war the Turks, possessing fortresses on the left bank which served as tete de ponts bridgeheads for fortresses on the right, controlled and safeguarded the crossings at Vidin opposite Calafat, at Ruse (Ruschuk, Rushchuk) opposite Giurgiu, at Braila, and at other places. Now, one advancing from the Turkish side can take advantage of the characteristics of the right bank which almost everywhere commands the left, and of the many islands which make building bridges easier and which cover the movement of boats along the right arms of the Danube closest to the Turkish bank. The construction of bridges and the crossing of strong forces at Vidin, a fortress assiduously maintained in good condition by the Turks, are made easier by the island of Mare lying between Vidin and Calafat. On the left bank from Calafat to the mouth of the Jiu River stretches a level region backed by rows of crowded hills about a half-mile from the bank. This area facilitates surprise attacks from the right side of the Danube, which can especially find support from the Turkish fortress at Orekhovo (Rakhov), lying opposite the Jiu River mouth. Further downstream along the Danube in the stretch to the mouth of the Olt, the best place for crossing is the village of Cehlei, opposite the mouth of the Isker River. And on the stretch from the Olt to Calarasi opposite Silistra, the left bank consists of marshy flats cut by channels and for the most part impassable, except in winter when the swamps freeze and in high summer when they dry up. The Nikopol and Ruse fortresses on the Turkish bank lost their offensive importance against Walachia; the first because of the ruin of the bridgehead fortifications at Cale and Turnu, and the second - which was also the most important Turkish fortress on the Danube after Vidin - due to the destruction of its fortified bridgehead at Giurgiu.
Tutrakan (Turtukai) is a small unwalled town opposite the mouth of the Arges where an island 2 miles long divides the Danube channel into two branches, one 160 yards wide and the other 500 yards, and lends itself to building a bridge, but only during summer. In spring, the swelling of the waters makes the left bank completely inaccessible. Erecting a bridge at Silistra, right opposite the fortress, is made somewhat easier because the width of the single river channel is not more than 750 yards. But here the current is very fast, and additionally the usual pontoons cannot be used to form a bridge, nor can boats with keels, because of sand bars. Instead it is necessary to have a large number of flat-bottomed barges. It is even more difficult to cross 3 miles below the fortress opposite Calarasi where it is necessary to build bridges across the arms of the Danube and a third across the Borcea River. The Borcea river or branch, coming off the Danube a little below Silistra, once again unites with it near the mouth of the Ialomita (Yalomitsa), creating a long stretch some 6 to 8 miles wide called the Borcea islands. The steep heights which line the branchs left bank hinder a crossing, but n the stretch between the Borcea and Ialomita mouths the heights are much lower, so that at the village of Gura-Ialomita there is permanent communication with the right bank. The Danube is no more than 700 yards wide here. But upon crossing the Danube from the right bank, one must then cross the Ialomita by a bridge on barges.
The remaining length of the Danube up to its mouth presents great difficulties to building bridges and crossing significant forces by reason of the marshy character of the left bank, except for a 3-mile stretch near Braila. In general the Danubes left bank is low-lying and barely accessible, while the right bank is higher and accessible along almost its entire length. It is where the left bank is more accessible that fortresses are built on the right side: Vidin, Orekhovo, Ruse, and Silistra, along with the fortified towns of Svishtov (Sistov), Tutrakan, Harsova (Girsova), Macin (Machin), Isaccea, and Tulcea. Thus all the Danube presents the Turks with an excellent defensive line.
The Danubes main feeders in Walachia are the Jiu, Olt (which serves as the border between Greater and Lesser Walachia), Arges (entering the Danube opposite Tutrakan), and Ialomita. In their upper reaches, all these rivers are swift-flowing, narrow, and at times suddenly fill up and overflow their banks, while in their lower channels they are navigable and for the most part marshy.
Roads in Walachia are like those in Moldavia. Firstly, there are mountain passes, none of which are suitable for the movement of troops along its whole length, especially for artillery and supply wagons. Secondly, there are roads that cut across mountain ridges and lead from one valley to the next; but these are entirely unsuitable. And thirdlyroads lying in the lower part of Walachia which may be divided into post roads and country tracks. The former are kept in repair while the country roads are never maintained and are only suitable in summer because in spring, fall, and wet weather in general they are absolutely terrible.
From all that has been said it is evident that the most suitable way to defend the Danube principalities against the Turks is to deploy ones main forces in Bucharest and Craiova which are central points and the crossroads of primary routes, while flying columns watch over the Danubes best crossing places, namely Calafat, Chelei, Giurgiu, Oltenita (Oltenitsa), Calarasi, Gura-Ialomita, and Braila.
The climate in the principalities is mild, though proximity to the Black Sea and the Carpathians has an effect on the weather. Winter usually sets in December and for the most part continues only until the middle of February, but in January and February frosts sometimes reach minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit. In July and August there are highs of up to 100 degrees. The prevailing sicknesses are fevers and liver blockage.
The countrys soil is generally fertile but especially so in Walachia. However, agriculture is in a primitive state. The people of the countrys relatively small population (less than 2000 per square mile) still did not feel the need to fertilize their fields. They mostly sow wheat and corn. The former gives yields in Moldavia of 10-fold and 15-fold, and sometimes in Walachia of 20-fold, while the latter in Walachia sometimes yields 100-fold or more. In 1852 the combined principalities exported more than a million quarters of wheat, and Walachia exported 1,200,000 quarters of corn. In spite of such an abundance of grain, the provisioning of our troops in the following year was difficult. This was primarily due to the lack of mills as the inhabitants had little need of them, having hand millstones in almost every peasant house; and secondly, because the local landowners forbade their peasants to sell food, intending to raise prices and extract a greater profit from their own reserves. Grapes grow in abundance but are badly tended so that the wine in mediocre.
The shortage of wood forces the inhabitants to use dried reeds and weeds for fuel. And because of the difficulty in obtaining materials for constructing bivouacs, the troops had to carry tents with them. In some places water is hard to find and then only in insufficient quantities, so that sometimes we were forced to march 25 or more miles in one stage.
The militia in the principalities are formed on the pattern of regular forces. In 1852 in Moldavia it was made up of two infantry battalions, one lancer squadron, one battery of six guns, and a Danube fire brigade, and in Walachia of three infantry regiments, each of two battalions, one double squadron of lancers, one battery of eight guns, and a fire brigade. The Moldavian militia numbered some two thousand men and Walachian about six thousand. Police duties were carried out by drabants. For keeping a cordon along the Danube, as well as along the line of the Carpathians and the Moldavian frontier the inhabitants of Walachian border settlements provided pickets on the basis of one for every 120 families. Each picket had 22 men on the Danube, 14 in the Carpathians, and 7 on the Moldavian border. These men (granichary) were from 20 to 40 years old.
For supplying the Russian army sent to the Danube principalities a twenty-day reserve of rusk, groats, wine, pepper, vinegar, and meat cattle was prepared in Leovo for 30,000 men and in Kishinev for 70,000. In addition, 35,000 quarters of flour with a corresponding quantity of groats were delivered to Kishinev, forming a two-month supply for 70,000 men. As it was already being proposed that our forces cross the Prut at Leovo and Skulyany, and because while Prince Gorchakov was in Warsaw there were absolutely no food supplies at the latter place, the commander-in-chief of the Active Army, Graf Paskevich, ordered that 16,000 quarters of flour with a proportional amount of groats be sent there from the Kamenets-Podolskii magazines, forming a two-month food supply for 32,000 men. Thus stores had been laid in at the armys rear base to last almost three months. By direction of the Emperor, further supplies were either to be gotten from the local populace by paying them cash or to be prepared and charged to budgeted army sums.
For a mobile supply depot, or magazine, it was decided to collect from the inhabitants of Bessarabia 4800 peasant carts drawn by pairs of oxen, paying for each of them the sum of 60 kopecks per diem for provisioning the driver and oxen and for repairs to the vehicle. This magazine was divided into four half-brigades each of four companies under the command of line officers. It could transport a months supply of provisions and wine rations for 70,000 men.
Temporary military hospitals for 4800 sick were established at Kishinev, Leovo, and later in Skulyany.
With the arrival of Prince Gorchakov at Kishinev, regulations were issued for supplying the troops in the principalities. Together with this, our consuls coordinated with the governments of both principalities to set fixed prices for food stuffs and also for supplying lower ranks when quartered on the populace, for grazing areas, and for native carts provided by levy. It was set down that payment for two-oxen carts would be as follows: in Moldavia, from one overnight site to the next - 60 kopecks; in Walachia, for 15 to 20-mile distances between post stations - 42 kopecks. Tariffs for foreign goods and conversion tables of measures, weights, and money in the principalities were published for the forces. All units were issued printed blank receipt forms which could be used to obtain supplies in the country, whereby the Commissary would then pay cash upon presentation of these receipts.
It was arranged with the governments of the principalities that at each campsite along our forces line of march, and also in Galati and Braila, there would be collected from the countryside flour, groats, barley, hay, straw, and firewood in such quantities that our troops would be able to replenish what supplies they had used on the march and to bake bread if necessary. A store of rusk was ordered to be made ready at Bucharest. Butter and wine rations were to be bought by the troops themselves at the fixed prices.
The following measures were taken so that the troops would not have to halt to bake bread while moving toward Bucharest: firstly, during this movement the rusk issue would be reduced by 1/3 pound, the difference being made up for by 1/4 pound of butter; secondly, three half-brigades from the mobile magazine would travel with the troops, carrying rusk, groats, wine, and salt. The three half-brigades would set forth with the leading units from Leovo, moving ahead of the main column going through Skulyany and dumping portions of their stores in Barlad, Tecuci, and Focsani, which would enable the troops to replace the rations that they had consumed on the march. In this way the troops, having only a 10-day supply of rusk in the regimental trains, covered the distance from the Prut to Bucharest without stopping anywhere to bake bread.
Immediately upon our forces occupation of the principalities provision magazines were opened in Iasi, Barlad, Galati, Braila, Focsani, and Buzau. These were stocked partly with supplies brought up from Bessarabia by the mobile magazine. But since the army was concentrated in the neighborhood of Bucharest almost 200 miles from its base, and since not less than 44 days were required to make the round trip (that is, with supplies and then back empty for reloading), the the forces could not be supplied by bringing provisions from Leovo and it was necessary to use local resources. Since their arrival in Bucharest, the troops were distributed in close quarters and began to receive the stipulated amount of rations in full. For the first three months, flour, groats, and fuel were delivered from the countryside direct to the soldiers in exchange for receipts while forage, wine, salt, vinegar, and pepper were bought at the fixed prices. But from the beginning of the requisitions discontent over these measures spread among the local inhabitants. These were also recognized as a burden on the region in correspondence from the Walachian Prince Stirbei to Prince Gorchakov. Since bringing supplies from Bessarabia to Bucharest using native carts at freely negotiated prices would be too expensive, it was decided to turn to the resources of the principalities, but not based on requisitions. Rather, supplies would be prepared through contracts negotiated by the Domestic Affairs Departments of both principalities. It was not known for how long our forces would remain in the principalities so the first contracted preparations were made for only two months, from 1 October to 1 December, 1853. Bidding for contracts was declared in Bucharest for 46,000 quarterts of flour and in Iasi for 4000 quarters. But since the conditions offered to Walachian merchants were unprofitable, both deliveries were awarded to contractors who had come from Russia.
Hospital cadres accompanied our leading troops into the principalities and were opened facilities in Barlad, Bacau, Focsani, and Buzau even before the arrival of the main forces so that the troops found places ready for the sick everywhere. In Iasi the troops placed the sick in the city hospital for convalescence and it was agreed to pay the Moldavian government that sum for every sick patient which his care in the hospital cost the public treasury. At first supplies for the sick in the hospitals that were opened in the principalities were provided through commissariat channels at local prices. With the arrival of army headquarters at Bucharest, the hospitals were supplied from public goods by contractors at stipulated prices, with deliveries guaranteed by deposits.
(1) Circular dispatch of Graf Nesselrode, 2 July, 1853 (n.s.).
(2) List of forces designated for the occupation of the Danube principalities.
4th Infantry Corps.
10th Infantry Division, Lt. Gen. Soimonov.
1st Brigade, Maj. Gen. Belgard:
Yekaterinburg Inf. Regt., Col. Uvazhnov-Aleksandrov.
Tobolsk Inf. Regt., Col. Baumgarten.
2nd Brigade, Maj. Gen. Villebois:
Tomsk Jäger Regt., Col. Pustovoitov.
Kolyvan Jäger Regt., Col. Komaevskii.
11th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Pavlov.
1st Brigade, Maj. Gen. Ochterlone:
Selenginsk Inf. Regt., Col. Sabashinskii.
Yakutsk Inf. Regt., Col. Byalyi.
2nd Brigade, Maj. Gen. Zalivkin:
Okhotsk Jäger Regt., Col. Bibikov.
Kamchatka Jäger Regt., Col. Golev.
12th Infantry Division, Lt. Gen. Liprandi.
1st Brigade, Maj. Gen. Sventitskii:
Azov Inf. Regt., Col. Krüdener 2nd.
Dnieper Inf. Regt., Col. Gribbe.
2nd Brigade, Maj. Gen. Levutskii:
Ukraine Jäger Regt., Col. Yanchenko.
Odessa Jäger Regt., Maj. Gen. Gigmont.
10th Field Artillery Brigade, Col. Zagoskin 1st.
11th Field Artillery Brigade, Col. Vdovichenko.
12th Field Artillery Brigade, Col. Nemov.
4th Rifle Battalion, Col. Yenokhin.
4th Sapper Battalion, with 4th Pontoon Park and Pontoon Company, Col. Norov.
4th Light Cavalry Division.
Lt. Gen. Graf Nirod.
1st Brigade, Maj. Gen. Bogushevskii.
Voznesensk Lancer Regt., Maj. Gen. Levenhagen.
Olviopol Lancer Regt., Col. Kozlyaninov.
2nd Brigade, Maj. Gen. von Friedrichs 2nd.
His Imp. Highness the Heir and Tsesarevichs Hussar Regt., Col. Pashkovskii.
Prince Frederick William of Prussias Hussar Regt.
4th Horse-Artillery Brigade, Col. Ivanov.
15th Division, 5th Infantry Corps
2nd Brigade, Maj. Gen. Engelgardt.
Lublin Jäger Regt., Maj. Gen. Artsybashev.
Zamosc Jäger Regt. (2 bns.), Col. Daragan.
2 batteries of the 15th Field Artillery Brigade, Col. Zarnitsyn.
5th Sapper Battalion (1 company), with 5th Pontoon Park and Pontoon Company, Capt. Zamaraev.
5th Light Cavalry Division.
Lt. Gen. von Fischbach.
1st Brigade, Maj. Gen. Komar.
Bug Lancer Regt., Maj. Gen. Gastfer.
His Highness the Duke of Nassaus Lancer Regt., Col. Baron von Raden.
2nd Brigade, Maj. Gen. Kenskii.
His Royal Highness Prince Frederick Carl of Prussias Hussar Regt., Maj. Gen. Salkov.
His Serenity General Field Marshal Prince Vorontsovs Hussar Regt., Col. Graf Alopeus.
5th Horse-Artillery Brigade, Col. Reisich.
Don Cossack Regiments: 25th, 34th, and 37th.
Don Battery No. 9.
Total: 59½ battalions, 64 squadrons, and 18 cossack sotnias, with 196 guns.
(3) At Prince Gorchakovs disposal was the Danube Flotilla, made up of two battalions under Rear Admiral Messer. There were 11 gunboats in the 1st Battalion and 16 in the 2nd, each armed with three 24-pounder guns. Accompanying the flotilla were the steamships: Ordinarets and Prut (each having four 36-pounder gun-carronades), pilotboat Rymnik, and a small ironclad barge. There were additionally prepared: steamer Inkerman, schooner Ingul, and another ironclad barge.
(4).Of the forces of the 5th Infantry Corps, the 13th Infantry Division in Sevastopol was sent by sea to Transcaucasia, and the 14th remained in Odessa.
(5).Palauzov, Rumynskiya gospodarstva v istoriko-politecheskom otnoshenii, pg. 255.
(6).Testimony of persons who served with Prince Gorchakov.
(7) Order of General-Adjutant Graf Anrep-Elmpt, 18 June, No. 120.
(8) The vanguard under General-Adjutant Anrep.
End of translation. Mark Conrad, 1995.