Russian Plans to Seize the Bosphorus, 1852-53.


(From: A. M. Zaionchkovskii, Vostochnaia voina 1853-1856 gg. v svyazi s sovremennoi ei politicheskoi obstanovkoi. Volume I. St. Petersburg, 1908. Chapter XVI.  Pages 727-38, plus appendices. Unless otherwise noted, dates are Old Style; add 12 days for the Western calendar. Translated by Mark Conrad.)

The continuously growing duplicity of Turkey and the western powers' clear acquisition of influence on the shores of the Bosphorus to the detriment of Russia's and Austria's influence, together with the general disturbance caused by the declaration of the empire in France, at the end of 1852 convinced Emperor Nicholas that in regard to the Ottoman Porte it was necessary to resort to especially forceful diplomatic measures.

With this goal, as related above, it was decided to sent an extraordinary plenipotentiary to Constantinople entrusted with the Sovereign's special confidence, and the choice fell upon the Serene Prince A. S. Menshikov.

Such energetic diplomatic action against Turkey, given the mighty struggle for influence between the maritime and continental powers, also necessitated supporting this action with military preparations in case Prince Menshikov's mission failed.

With what feelings the Sovereign came to accept the need to take military precautions is best seen in the following lines from his letter to the Austrian emperor Franz-Joseph after news of the unsuccessful result of Graf Leiningen's mission arrived in St. Petersburg . [Sic, Leiningen's mission was generally regarded as a success - M.C.]

I do not know (wrote Nicholas Pavlovich) what your intentions are, but whatever they may be, you may be assured beforehand that in case of war between you and Turkey I will consider it the same as if the Turks had declared war upon myself. I am charging Prince Menshikov to make this clear in Constantinople, but for the meantime I am bringing the 4th and 5th Corps to a wartime footing, as well as the Black Sea Fleet, and we will be ready. But I grieve deeply over this sad necessity because if the Ottoman Empire collapses, which is very possible, then the consequences of this may be incalculable.

(Letter of 11(23) February 1853. State Archives. Original in French. For the complete original, see Appendix 103.)

The Sovereign's first military measures were on 15 December 1852. On that day he issued a personally written order to muster the reserve and replacement units [reservnyya i zapasnyya chasti] of the 5th Infantry Corps, 5th Artillery Division, and 5th Sapper Battalion, and to make all the necessary arrangements for activating upon demand the same units of the 4th Corps and the replacement squadrons and horse batteries of the 4th and 5th Light [Cavalry] Divisions. (Archive of the War Minister's Chancellery, 1852, secret d. No. 11, ch. 1; the 4th and 5th Infantry Corps began to be brought to a wartime footing by Highest orders from 15 to 19 December 1852.)

Simultaneously with this, Emperor Nicholas began to concern himself with the question of what steps, if worse came to worse, would have the greatest military effect on Turkey so as to force her to more quickly submit to our demands.

The Sovereign's far-seeing and accurate military vision in this regard was also expressed in his own written note of 7 January 1853 (Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery, secret correspondence, d. No. 4) in which Nicholas Pavlovich set forth his military proposals, unencumbered by any diplomatic niceties. This note is also extremely interesting because it shows how much the Sovereign's personal thoughts about the pending war were subject to change due to the developing situation and the influence of persons around him, which, it must be said, was not to our advantage.

In choosing the objectives which would be associated with our military operations, Emperor Nicholas maintained that "the more violently, unexpectedly, and decisively we deliver our blow, the sooner we will put an end to the fight." Any delays and indecision would allow the Turks to recover themselves, prepare their defenses, and in addition—give time to the French to interfere in this business. "Thus, swift preparations," concluded the Sovereign, "all possible secrecy, and decisiveness in action are necessary for success."

Turning to the means of carrying out this stated goal, the Sovereign wrote that "a large expeditionary force to the Bosphorus and Tsargrad [Constantinople], supported by the navy, could decide everything very quickly."

Nicholas Pavlovich also went into the details necessary to carry out his plan. Even if our Black Sea Fleet could embark and transport in one trip only 16,000 men with 32 field guns, the required number of horses, and two sotnias of cossacks, the Sovereign considered it possible that with an unexpected appearance, not only would the Bosphorus be seized, but Constantinople as well.

For the landings, the 13th and 14th Divisions were designated along with their attached units. [The 13th and 14th Divisions, along with the 15th, made up the 5th Corps - M.C.] To save time, they were to set out with three battalions in each regiment, these being brought to full strength by using the fourth battalions. The artillery was to have one harnessed and horse-drawn ammunition caisson for each gun, while the remaining caissons were to be transported without horses.

The 13th Division, consisting of 12 battalions with 32 guns, was intended to embark at Sevastopol, while the 14th, of the same strength and organization but with the addition of the 5th Sapper Battalion and two cossack sotnias, was to concentrate at Odessa and, if there were a sufficient number of vessels, also embark onto the squadron sent for them.

The landing forces in both Sevastopol and Odessa were planned to be embarked on the same day and rendezvous at the Bosphorus. If during this time the Turkish fleet came out to sea, then it was proposed to first defeat it and then enter the Bosphorus. If that fleet did not come out, then the Bosphorus was to be forced either by a landing in the rear of the batteries or by a direct attack past them on Constantinople. The Sovereign considered the first course to be more practical, while the second was more daring but not impossible.

If the strait was successfully forced, then the fleet would stand right before the city and demand its unconditional surrender. If that attempt was unsuccessful, then a bombardment would be resorted to and a landing force disembarked.

At this same time, the Sovereign was concerned over the question of whether or not we could maintain ourselves in Constantinople if an enemy European fleet appeared in the Dardanelles. He supposed that such an appearance was possible and had to be forestalled by a swift occupation of those straits. It was in these means of action that Emperor Nicholas saw the best path to a quick settlement with Turkey (see Nicholas's note in Appendix 210).

However, the Sovereign soon recognized that more than one expeditionary force was needed and so an overland force would have to be made ready, consisting of the entire 4th Infantry Corps, the 15th Infantry Division with its artillery, the 5th Light Cavalry Division, 3 (later 6) cossack regiments, and other attached units. At first the objective for this land force was not defined, but in general it was supposed that it would occupy the Danubian principalities and perhaps also Bulgaria up to Trajan's Wall or Kyustendzhi. Further movements would depend on circumstances (Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery, 1852, secret d. No. 11, part 1).

The Sovereign demanded that the seaborne force be made ready immediately, while the land force was to be ready by that time of year when it was predicted its movement would be possible.

(Note: The seaborne force, given the orders issued for mustering reserve troops in the middle of February, could be formed into four-battalion regiments in Sevastopol and Odessa by 1 April. See preceding note. Also according to this source, under these same circumstances the 15th Division could be concentrated with three-battalion regiments by 1 April.)

The question of the landing force's size and how quickly it could be transported depended exclusively on the carrying capacity and battle readiness of our Black Sea Fleet, since the small size of the merchant fleet made the use of privately owned vessels impossible to any significant extent. Under normal conditions, the Black Sea Fleet could embark and transport at one time an entire infantry division with all its equipment (see preceding note). But with a certain amount of effort this fleet could carry a larger force. General-Adjutant Kornilov put all his innate energy into this and already in February 1853 presented an analysis to the War Ministry of the transport capabilities of the Black Sea Fleet without weakening its patrols along the eastern shores and the detachments defending the Black Sea Coastal Line (Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery, 1852, secret d. No. 20; Archive of the Naval Ministry, documents of Prince Menshikov, No. 291).

According to this memorandum, the Black Sea sailors could lift at one time: with a naval battle group of 28 masts—16 battalions, 4 batteries with one caisson for each gun, and 100 cossacks; with a transport group of 33 masts—10 battalions, 2 batteries, the rest of the artillery caissons without horses, and 100 cossacks. In this manner the largest landing force that could be carried in one trip was 24 battalions of infantry, 1 rifle battalion, 1 sapper battalion, 6 batteries each of 8 guns, and 200 cossacks with their horses (see Appendix 211; also see correspondence of the minister of war to General-Adjutant Lüders of 14 February 1853, No. 142, and Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery, 1852, secret d. No. 11, part 1).

In carrying out this Highest will a detailed report was drawn up that was personally examined and corrected by the Sovereign Emperor, including appendices on forming a seaborne force and land forces for operations in Turkey (see Appendix 212). To realize this plan, the seaborne landing force was to include the 13th and 14th Infantry Divisions with their artillery, the 5th Rifle Battalion, three companies of the 5th Sapper Battalion, 2 garrison-artillery companies, and other small units. The total size of the force, when the regiments were at three-battalion strength, was calculated at 32,000 men, and with four battalions in each regiment—at 40,000 with 64 guns.

(Note: According to the calculations for the carrying capacity of the Black Sea Fleet, presented above from Appendix 212, after finding room for 26 battalions only 6 batteries, or 48 guns, could accompany them. However, the number presented in the main text is taken from the memorandum in the Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery, 1852, secret d. No. 11, part 1. This amount for a force is calculated taking into account those privately owned vessels that could be hired for transport. Throughout all the documents dealing with the proposed naval expedition to Turkey there are found minor discrepancies having almost no significance.)

Sevastopol was named the muster point for the landing force from the 13th Division, and Odessa for that of the 14th Division. They could be gathered at these places and be fully ready by 1 April, but only with three battalions in a regiment. The forces were to have a six-week supply of provisions and forage.

In total, 124 ships of all sizes, both naval and merchant vessels, were planned to be used for the Sevastopol landing force, which could disembark 4250 men at one time in small boats. For the Odessa force, there would be 146 ships, capable of landing 4710 men at one time (Military Research Archive of the Main Staff, sect. 2, d. No. 3321).

According to preliminary allocations, the army troops were to embark onto ships in complete fighting units as far as possible. Along with this, the troops assigned for the first combat operations were mostly planned to be placed onto frigates so that at the landings the entire force could be put on shore in two trips (see preceding note).

Steps were also taken at this time to form the land-based force. It was to consist of the remaining units of the 5th Infantry Corps and the entire 4th Corps with their attached units. If military operations had to begin sooner, then this overland force was to set out organized with three battalions in each regiment and eight guns in each battery.

This force was divided into: a vanguard, or advance column (of the units from the 5th Corps), numbering 12 1/4 battalions, 32 foot-artillery guns, 32 squadrons, 18 sotnias, 16 horse-artillery guns, and a pontoon park, amounting to about 25,000 men in all; and a main force (4th Corps), numbering 50 battalions, 144 foot-artillery guns, 32 squadrons, 36 sotnias, 16 horse-artillery guns, and a pontoon park, totaling some 75,000 men.

(Note: A detailed listing of these forces is in Appendix 213. In the advance column the regiments would be of 3 battalions and the batteries of 8 guns, while in the main force they would be of 4 battalions and 12 guns.)

One must stop and consider this plan of Emperor Nicholas, so grandiose in conception and decisive in intent. The possibility of landing 32 to 40 thousand men on the shores of the Bosphorus within three days with the aim of bombarding and perhaps capturing Constantinople—this was that ultimate goal for which our Black Sea Fleet was intended and which would also justify the cost spent to maintain it. At the same time, this was a goal which was within the capability of our Black Sea sailors of the time. The rapid simultaneous transport of troops from Odessa to Sevastopol and from Sevastopol to the Caucasus using much less than the full resources of our fleet, which took place in the fall of 1853, serves as the best proof of this.

Considering the surprise of this undertaking, the superiority in matériel and morale enjoyed by the Russian fleet over the Turks, the poor condition of the Bosphorus fortifications, and the discord that still existed to a large extent between the western powers, Emperor Nicholas' plan cannot be acknowledged as other than decisive, and even if risky, like every similar undertaking, it was nevertheless a risk within those limits in which chance does not overcome calculation. Moreover, if successful, this plan could be most fruitful in its results.

The condition of Turkey at the beginning of 1853, when that country was completely unprepared for war, the strength of our landing force, supported by the whole of the Black Sea Fleet, and our seizure of the Dardanelles would almost certainly put an end to Russo-Turkish discord in the shortest possible time and force the Porte's developing allies, likewise unprepared for battle, to recognize the distasteful necessity of reconciling themselves to an already existing fact. Even if the western powers did declare war on us, we would be holding an excellent position which we would be able to fortify and reinforce in an effective manner before the allies could concentrate their forces. It was not for nothing that Prince Paskevich of Warsaw, though somewhat later, considered the Sovereign's idea of seizing the Bosphorus to be a magnificent concept, saying that "in that way not only would the war be ended right away, but territory could be gained in European Turkey" (Most respectful message of the Prince of Warsaw of 24 March 1853, in the Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery, 1853, secret d., No. 4).

However, the plan set forth above did not meet with support on the part of Prince A. S. Menshikov. Being more closely acquainted with the state of affairs on the spot where these operations were proposed to take place, Prince Aleksandr Sergeevich, in a letter of 12 (24) March from Constantinople, told the Sovereign, and General-Adjutant Kornilov told Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich [soon to be Minister of the Navy] on the 19th, in a most respectful report his concerns regarding the difficulties of a naval operation undertaken directly at the Bosphorus.

(Note: We have not been able to find the original letter in the archives, but Emperor Nicholas mentions it in his correspondence. In the Military Research Archive of the Main Staff, sect. 2, d. No. 4261, there is a report to Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevich dated 19 March with the annotation that it had been sent from General-Adjutant Kornilov as part of his enclosures, but without signature. The text itself of the report leads one to suppose that it was composed by Kornilov, who accompanied Prince Menshikov to Constantinople with the express purpose of reconnoitering the Bosphorus. There is no doubt that the thoughts put down by Prince Menshikov in his letter to the Sovereign and by Kornilov in his report to the Grand Duke were identical. A. Petrov's citation of phrases from this document [Voina Rossii s Turtsii. Dunaiskaya kampaniya 1853 i 1854 gg., Vol. 1, pgs. 67-69] does not have sufficient documentation, but it follows that they belong to both Menshikov and Kornilov.)

The author of the notes, after recognizing the Turkish fleet as hardly capable of operations at sea but able to use 5 ships of the line and 7 frigates to defend the straits, and the Bosphorus fortifications as easily passable under conditions favorable to our Black Sea Fleet, maintains that our fleet could defend the Dardanelles from whatever enemy squadron that may come given that we had seized the Dardanelles fortifications with the aid of a landing operation and had about a division's worth of troops on the Hellespont peninsula. As far as putting troops on shore to seize the Bosphorus, Prince Menshikov and V. A. Kornilov stated that there were only two suitable points—near Buyuk-Dere and, if there was a special need, near the village of Kilios. This last place, lying on the European shore some 3 or 4 miles from the entrance to the Bosphorus, was exposed to the prevailing northerly winds which could make a landing impossible. As far as the sheltered roads of Buyuk-Dere were concerned, these did not present the same difficulties, but they did demand the capture of the shore fortifications beforehand in order to both enter the roads as well as to hold onto them with the help of the fleet. But in the prince's opinion this, in turn, demanded a large landing force.

As a necessary condition for a successful undertaking against Constantinople, Prince Menshikov considered maintenance of complete secrecy to be essential, and even the release of false rumors, but, he added, the Turks had already heard about our preparations for an expedition to the Bosphorus and were taking a number of measures to fortify the strait under conditions in which nature had done all that was necessary so that the least effort, intelligently applied, would make any operation difficult.

Along with this, the writer pointed out another plan of action. Namely, to carry out a landing at Varna or Burgas, and from here move against Constantinople by both land and sea. The Varna roads were already familiar to our sailors from the 1828-29 campaign, and as for Burgas, Prince Menshikov specifically recommended it for this purpose. What especially attracted the serene prince were a suitable place for landing and a number of excellent battle positions for our fleet in the direction of the Bosphorus in the roads of Chingan, Iskamen, and Faros, "in which one may await without fear an attack by however strong an enemy you may like." In such a case, it was proposed to take Constantinople itself from the land side by moving our corps through Aidas, whereby our troops would be kept supplied by our fleet with everything they required.

The proposal to make a landing at Varna or Burgas instead of forcing the Bosphorus, and making a further move on Constantinople by a land approach, indisputably removed all the risk from Emperor Nicholas' first conception of his planned undertaking, but likewise deprived it of those profitable results that it might have produced. A landing at Varna or Burgas could not make such a great impression upon the Sublime Porte as the unexpected appearance of our fleet with a large landing force right under the walls of Constantinople, and it is hard to suppose that the mere fact of such distant landings would make the Turks comply with our demands, especially considering the efforts that would be made by the Porte's European advisors. In perspective, consequently, a land campaign toward Constantinople was one that required time, reduced the fighting strength of our landing force, and gave the Turks time to recover themselves from first impressions and prepare a strong defense. But the main drawbacks of the proposed plan were that it enabled the western powers to undertake, an active part in our dispute before we could deliver a decisive blow against the Turks, and that it left the Black Sea open to entry by their ships. A direct forcing of the Bosphorus and a seizure of the Dardanelles were in fact the only combination that would have made a future Crimean expedition impossible, leave the Black Sea in our hands, and almost negate the superiority of the maritime powers' steam fleets over ours of sail. Emperor Nicholas' plan was indeed risky, but great results in war are not gained without risk, and in the given situation one cannot but recall to mind the observation of Napoleon I that he considered circumstances very good for himself when he could count two-thirds of one of his military operations as sure and only one-third as left to chance. In Emperor Nicholas' plan this ratio could hardly be said to have veered much to the side of risk!

However, be this as it may, the opinions of those persons who enjoyed the full confidence of the Sovereign, such as Kornilov and Prince Menshikov —who was preparing to take charge of the whole operation—must have influenced Emperor Nicholas, and not without sorrow he turned away from that purpose for which in his dreams he indisputably prepared the Black Sea Fleet: in case of a vital need to quickly protect Russia's interests on the shores of the Bosphorus.

From this moment on Nicholas Pavlovich began to be gradually diverted from his initial plan. There was a step-by-step submission by the Sovereign to his trusted advisors, a submission that did not come without difficulty. Emperor Nicholas' sensible military outlook clearly recognized the falsity of the course to which those nearest to him were bit-by-bit striving to divert military operations, and which at the end of it all turned out to be a lackluster sitting down in the principalities for almost a year, an idleness that was energetically maintained by its initiator, the Serene Prince of Warsaw, and which enabled the allies' Crimean expedition to ripen, so ruinously for us.



Appendix 210

Emperor Nicholas I's own memorandum regarding a naval expedition to the Bosphorus and Constantinople,
written 7 January 1853.

(Archive of the War Ministry's Chancellery, 1853, secret d. No. 4.)

The possibility that there will soon be a break with Turkey leads me to the following considerations:

1) What objective will we assign to our military operations?

2) What are the forces with which we will be most sure of achieving our objective?

To the first question I answer that the more powerfully, unexpectedly, and decisively we deliver our blow, the sooner we will put an end to this struggle. But every delay or indecision will give the Turks time to recover themselves, prepare for their defense, and most probably the French will manage to interfere in this business with their fleet or even land forces, and even more certainly by sending officers such as the Turks have need of. Thus, swift preparations, all possible secrecy, and decisiveness in operations are required for success.

In regard to the second question, I think that a strong expeditionary force, supported by the navy, straight at the Bosphorus and Tsargrad can decide everything very quickly.

If the fleet is capable of carrying in one trip 16,000 men with 32 field guns and the necessary number of horses, along with 2 sotnias of cossacks, then by an unexpected appearance this will be sufficient to not only seize the Bosphorus, but Tsargrad itself. If the number of troops can be even greater, then there will be better conditions for success.

The execution of this will be at follows: the 13th and 14th Divisions, without delay, will bring their first three battalions [of each regiment] to full strength using the fourth battalions, having transferred to the latter all their sick and weak men. The 13th Artillery Brigade with one horse-drawn caisson for each gun will go to Sevastopol. Here the 13th Division consisting of 12 battalions with 32 guns will embark onto the fleet's ships. Since the artillery is taking only enough horses for one caisson [per gun], the rest of the caissons will be loaded by themselves without horses, which might be sent to them later. At the same time, the 14th Division consisting of 12 battalions with 32 guns, with one horse-drawn caisson [per gun], the 5th Sapper Battalion, and 2 sotnias of Don cossacks will gather in Odessa, and if it turns out to be possible to also carry them, then they too will embark onto the squadron sent to them.

In that case, both landing forces must embark on the same day in Sevastopol and Odessa, and then sail to rendezvous at the Bosphorus. If the Turkish fleet comes out into the Black Sea, then it follows that we will fight them first, and if we manage to beat them, then we enter the Bosphorus.

But if their fleet does not come out, then we will approach the Bosphorus Strait directly by either landing in the rear of the batteries or directly attacking past the batteries, on Tsargrad itself.

I suppose the first option to be the most convenient and the second more daring, but it will depend on such circumstances that are difficult to foresee. It appears to not be impossible. Then once we are standing in front of the city, we will have to demand an unconditional surrender. If refused, we now resort to a bombardment after simultaneously making a landing at a suitable point where we will quickly fortify ourselves, having occupied the water supplies, if possible.

If the Turkish forces leave the city and concentrate near it, then we will leave the city under the guns of the fleet and the landing force will have to attack the Turkish army. Once we have defeated them, we will limit ourselves to that, since the composition of the force would make it difficult to pursue further operations, and so moving away from the fleet must be strictly avoided. However, it is difficult to suppose that the Turkish army will try to remain on the field after the loss of the city. More probably, the Government will ask for an armistice or, if not that, it will gather its forces in Gallipoli or Enos in expectation of aid from the French. Then the Dardanelles must be occupied.

Here another question arises: can we remain in Tsargrad if an enemy European fleet appears at the Dardanelles, and in particular if there is a landing force on these ships? Of course, to forestall such an appearance the Dardanelles can and must be swiftly occupied.


Appendix 211.

List of transport capability of the Black Sea Fleet without weakening military patrols off the eastern shores of the Black Sea or the assets of the Coastal Defense Line [on the western flank of the Caucasus]. February 1853.

(Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery for equipping the forces, secret d. No. 20, 1852.)

Combat Force (28 masts).
Ships of the Line: Frigates: Steam-Frigates: Brigs: Steamships and transports:
120 guns - 12 Apostolov 60 guns - Mesemvriya Vladimir (450 hp) Tezei El'borus
84   " - Varna 52   " - Kovarna Gromonosets (260 hp) Themistokl Argonavt (sail schooner)
84   " - Gavriil 60   " - Midiya Bessarabiya (260 hp) Enei Dunai (100 hp)
84   " - Selafail 44   " - Flora Yazon Berezan'
120 " - Parizh 44   " - Kagul
84   " - Uriil
84   " - Yagudiil
84   " - Rostislav
84   " - Svyatoslav
84   " - Khrabryi
84   " - Chesma

Embarking: 16 battalions, 4 artillery batteries with 1 ammunition caisson per gun, and 100 cossacks.

Transport Force (33 masts).
Ships of the Line: Steamships: Transports:
20 guns - Pilas Krym (260 horsepower) Dnestr
18   " - Kalipso Odessa (260 horsepower) Balaklava
Yenikale Rion
Khersones Dunai
Taman Dnepr
Boets Gagra
Moguchii Kuban'
Molodets Prut
Groznyi Kiliya
Ordinarets Dob

In addition, there may be added 8 transports of 250 tons, capable of carrying 36,000 pounds of cargo.
Embarking a total of 8 infantry battalions, 2 artillery batteries, all ammunition caissons, a rifle battalion, a sapper battalion, and 100 cossacks.

By these figures the two forces would embark: 24 infantry battalions, 1 rifle battalion, 1 sapper battalion, 6 batteries of artillery, and 200 cossacks with their horses.

Signed: General-Adjutant Kornilov




Appendix 212.

Most Respectful report with proposals on organizing land and seaborne forces for operations in Turkey, with resolutions by Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich.

(Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery for organizing the forces, secret d. No. 11, Part I. This report dates from the end of 1852 or the beginning of 1853.) Italics within parentheses are Emperor Nicholas's notes in his own hand.

In the contingency that troops of the 5th Infantry Corps are designated to be sent into Turkey in two groups of forces:
("Not less than two corps must be assigned.")

Seaborne landing force - of the 13th Infantry Division with its artillery, and
("Of the 13th and 14th Inf. Divisions, 5th Rifle Bn., 13th and 14th Art. Brigades, and other detached elements.")

Overland force - of the 14th and 15th Infantry Divisions and the 5th Light Cavalry Division with their artillery; the measures to be taken to outfit these troops must take into account:
("Of the 15th Inf. Div., 5th Light [Cavalry] Division, 5th Sapper Battalion, artillery parks of the 5th Corps, and the entire 4th Inf. Corps at full strength, with 3 cossack regiments, which will later be joined by 3 more along with a cossack battery.")

1) the time by which these troops have to be ready to move.
("The landing is not to be delayed; overland force - when it is seen that the season allows troops movements.")

2) the objectives of their movements, in which regard it must be kept in mind whether the overland force is intended to link up with the landing force, or whether these forces are to operate separately.
("This need not be completely decided in advance, but for now the land force is to occupy the principalities and possibly Bulgaria up to Trajan's Wall or Kyustenzha [Constanta]. Circumstances will decide what may or must be done further.")

Upon a first review, the following aspects arise for consideration: 

The seaborne landing force.

Composition of the force. 13th Inf. Div., concentrated in Sevastopol, except for the Vilna Jäger Regiment in Simferopol.

But the 13th Artillery Brigade is located in the northern part of Taurica Province at Bol'shaya Znamenka, Rogachev, Vodyanyi, and Dneprovka. This brigade's batteries may be directed to either Sevastopol or Nikolaev for embarkation.
("To Sevastopol, since at Nikolaev the Bug and Dnieper often freeze over.")

Since forage is scarce around Sevastopol, it would appear to be better to load this brigade's batteries on board ships at Nikolaev and for that reason direct them to that city in good time beforehand.

Following previous examples of organizing landing forces for the shores of the Bosphorus, it is proposed to attach the following troop units:

1) A detachment from the Mobile Replacement Park of the 13th Artillery Brigade (located at Tiraspol), to manage the force's park supplies.
("Yes, but put them on board close by at Odessa.")
2) A military labor company at increased strength, from those at Sevastopol, to carry out engineering work where it may be required.
3) Two companies of the Sevastopol Artillery Garrison in case it is necessary to provide gun crews for fortifications that the force may occupy, without weakening the field artillery.
4) Two mobile invalid companies to serve in hospitals.
5) A detachment of 200 cossacks taken from the Don cossack regiments on the cordons along the Danube and Pruth, since there are no cossack regiments in the Crimea. This detachment needs to be embarked on ships at Odessa.
("From the nearest regiment to Odessa, and embark them at Odessa.")

In addition the force must be assigned:

1) a field-grade engineer officer to control engineer elements;
2) provisions and commissariat officials, in the ranks of force master of provisions [otryadnyi proviantmeister] and force wartime commissary [otryadnyi krigskomissar];
3) a director of hospitals;
4) several intrepretors of eastern languages;

Composition of the supply train. Because of the difficulties in transporting supplies by sea, and horses in particular, it is necessary to limit their numbers and have:

in the infantry - a full number of cartridge ammunition wagons [patronnye yashchiki], with each regiment having one government ammunition wagon;
("Yes, but without horses.")
in the artillery - one ammunition caisson for each gun, and one field smithy and one government wagon for each battery.
("Yes, but also replacement gun trails.")

In 1838 General-Adjutant Lüders considered it necessary to also have a small tool wagon [instrumental'nyi polufurok] with each battery.

With the division - a field chapel [pokhodnaya tserkov'].
("One with the force. Yes.")

For the time being the rest of the supply train remains in place.

The troops are to fold their tents into bales; ammunition from the 2nd and 3rd ammunition wagons—in simple boxes made from boards, suitable for being carried, and in the same manner—all supply items.
("Is it not better to take the wagons, but for the time being without horses?")

In accordance with a Highest order issued in 1848, it would be useful to prepare ammunition packhorse loads [zaryadnye v'yuki] beforehand, patterned after those used in the mountain artillery.
("It will take time if they are not ready.") 


Horses are proposed to be sent:

lead [dyshlovye] horses - to the guns, and
("At least, but it would be desired to take all with the guns and one ammunition caisson.")

wheel [korennye] horses - to ammunition and cartridge wagons, to the field forges and government wagons.
("Instead of these.")

Harness, though, is to be brought in full.

The cossack detachment is to have 4 officer's and 50 cossack's horses sent along with it, but have all its saddles.
("If more horses cannot be taken.")

By this reckoning the force will have:

Packhorses - 52
Artillery horses - 114
Cossack horses - 54
Total - 250

General-Adjutant Lüders foresaw that during the landing of horses there may be accidents, so he deemed it useful to take extra horses to the number of one packhorse in each regiment and two artillery horses in each battery. Additionally, each general officer was to have one riding horse.

By this reckoning the following additional horses are required:

Packhorses - 4
Artillery horses - 8
General officers' horses - 4
Total - 16

Any more horses that are still required must be obtained when the troops land or delivered in following trips.
("This is a must.")


Artillery and Engineer supplies.

At least a second complement of cartridges and ammunition must be prepared to be sent following the force, in the same wagons and in the same configurations as they are transported in mobile parks, i.e. ready for use.

An adequate supply of entrenching and mining tools must also be put in boxes for sending with the force.

Medical services.

With the assumption that the character of the Eastern climate will cause 1/10 of personnel to be in hospitals, it is appropriate to have corresponding hospital reserves that will not meet with any difficulty in being distributed to hospital cadres, as well as reserves of bandages and medicines for the force.

The troops will have their own packed apothecary loads [aptechnye v'yuki]. Since Turkish buildings are unfit for hospital establishments, it is necessary for the force to have big hospital tents [namety] for constructing hospitals. These large tents can be prepared quickly. The landing force's sick may be transported to Theodosia or Sevastopol hospitals, in which quarantine sections must be created.


Provisions while en route and when on location.

If the naval administration, due to lack of supplies, does not take upon itself the task of providing provisions for the landing force, then it is necessary that they be prepared in good time in accordance with regulation naval regulation procedure.

But the most important thing to be concerned about is the re-baking of flour for rusk for at least 6 weeks as a first reserve, and then for 3 months. Supplies in the Crimea are sufficient to meet this need, but responsibility for the arrangements for re-baking rusk must be given to the acting New-Russia and Bessarabia governor-general.

Alcohol for spirit rations can be always be bought locally.


Sea transport.

According to the War Ministry's information, the Black Sea Fleet can embark and transport in one trip an entire infantry division with its equipment.

To transport artillery, horses, ammunition, and other supplies, private vessels must be hired, the number of which will be determined by the cargo space required to carry a given load.
("According to Prince Menshikov's understanding with G. A. Kornilov, however, according to his words, up to 20 thousand men can be carried at one time.")

The hiring of these vessels is also part of the responsibilities of General Thedorov, as local overall commander.


General conclusion.

Sending the landing force is dependent on when navigation becomes practicable, the readiness of the Black Sea Fleet to go to sea, and our success in hiring private vessels.

Therefor it is necessary to now give warnings of the present proposals to the Chief of His Imperial Majesty's Main Naval Staff and the acting New-Russia and Bessarabia governor-general.
("We will decide tomorrow with Prince Menshikov and G. A. Kornilov in your presence.")

After this, upon determining the composition of the landing force and its support elements and designating the troops' embarkation points, it would appear to be necessary to lose no time in arranging:

1) re-baking rusk in sufficient quantities;
2) the preparation, in case of need, of naval provisions for shipboard troops;
3) the preparation of boxes for packing munitions;
4) the delivery to the embarkation points of supplies, munitions, medical items, and engineer tools, and the preparation of needed items, such as large hospital tents, etc.
("If they are not ready on site.")


The overland force.

 Composition of the force.

Along with the troops of the 14th and 15th Infantry Divisions and 5th Light Cavalry Division and their artillery, it is proposed to have the following units made ready for campaign:
("Stated above.")

1) 5th Rifle Battalion.
2) 5th Sapper Battalion.
3) Two Don cossack regiments.
4) Mobile Replacement Artillery Parks Nos. 14 and 15.
5) Pontoon Park No. 5.
6) Mobile Hospital No.3, with the required number of hospital cadre.
7) A mobile provisions magazine [podvizhnyi proviantskii magazin], of augmented size in case of crossing the Danube, and of smaller size if only the principalities are occupied.
8) A field provisions commissariat.
9) A director of hospitals.
10) Interpretors of eastern languages.


Supply train.

All the above-mentioned units have a complete supply train.

Mobile Artillery Park No. 14 has carts [povozki] of the new model construction, while No. 15 has small wagons [polufurki] of the old pattern, less suitable and reliable for a trans-Danube campaign.

More will be said below about provisions magazines.



The troops intended for the overland force were brought to wartime strength in 1848 and 1849. Later, upon their return to peacetime strength, some of the wartime horses were sold but most were turned over to the care of the nobility of those provinces in which these troops were located. By this means the present need to procure wartime horses for them again is greatly facilitated.
("Carry this out.")

According to the [War] Ministry's information:

Number of horses required by these troops to be at wartime strength: 848 artillery horses, 1117 park horses, and 2561 packhorses.
Number supposed to be being cared for by the nobility: 679 artillery horses, 922 park horses, 1257 packhorses.
Therefor, a shortfall of only: 169 artillery horses, 195 park horses, and 1304 packhorses.

No difficulties are foreseen in buying these in the shortest possible time when, as in previous cases, an additional sum are authorized to the statutory prices.

Artillery and engineer supplies.

An increased inventory in the local artillery parks closest to the southern border, done beforehand, will ensure the subsequent supply of the overland force with ammunition upon its crossing the frontier.

The preparation for movement of the sections of the siege-artillery park (in Tiraspol) and the engineer siege park (in Bendery) will depend upon the operations foreseen for the troops once they cross the border.
("For now this can be put off, but put everything in order.")


Medical services.

No difficulties will be encountered in finding and assigning to the landing force a sufficient number of hospital cadres and in preparing a reserve of the necessary quantity of hospital items and bandages.

Here it must be noted that upon the final order to outfit the forces of the 5th Infantry Corps for a campaign, it is necessary to assign to them an additional number of medical and pharmaceutical officials above the normal complement, to forestall any shortage in medical services.


Provision supplies.

Measures to be taken to supply the overland force with foodstuffs include:

1) supplying the force with provisions and forage at the place where it is gathered together;
2) distribution by portions;
3) forming a mobile provisions magazine.

The length of time the troops remain at their concentration point may be more or less prolonged, depending on the course of political events. Therefore it seems necessary to prepare at least 2 months' rations at this point for the full number of the force's personnel and horses, all the more so since upon its marching over the frontier these supplies may be needed to augment its food resources.

While they are concentrated in camp, the troops receive rations according to regulations for foreign campaigns. While in Turkey each man will be issued a half-cup of vinegar and a gram [1/4 zolotnika] of pepper per day.

There are two issues to be considered in regard to forming a mobile magazine:

a) size of the magazine, and b) resources for its formation.

Considering that for a European war the Prince of Warsaw considers it necessary to have a 10-day supply of provisions in the Active Army's mobile magazine, and that a mobile magazine of this size was formed for the troops of the 5th Infantry Corps when it entered the Principalities in 1848, it is proposed to limit ourselves to that size in the present case, if the overland force is tasked to occupy only the Principalities, without crossing the Danube.

But if the Danube is crossed, it is necessary to have at least 20-days' of rations provisions in the mobile magazine and in addition take spirits, cattle for providing rations, and pepper, enough for 2 weeks.

This magazine, following the example of 1848, is to be formed by levying requisitions on settlements in the Bessarabia Region and gathering together two-oxen carts and vehicles with drivers, paying 80 silver kopecks a day for each cart. Lower ranks for the magazine will be assigned from the Internal Guard at the same time carts are gathered, while it will be up to the commander of the 5th Infantry Corps to designate officers.

In 1848 the mobile magazine was formed from 586 carts with reserves, organized as a half-brigade. The commissariat train required for the magazine is to be newly formed as directed by General-Adjutant Lüders...


Table of supposed wartime lower-rank strengths of the 5th Infantry Corps' operational forces.
Drawn up on 24 December 1852.

(Archive of the War Ministry's Chancellery for organizing the forces, 1852-54, d. No.24)

Sevastopol landing force.

Lower ranks:



excluding servants.

13th Infantry Division (in 3 or 4-battalion organization) 13,200-16,655 781
13th Artillery Brigade in 8-gun organization 790 143
Military labor company of augmented strength 212 2
Two garrison-artillery companies 384 14
Mobile invalid company 162
Hospital cadres:
     Two 3rd-class, each for 600 patients 176
     Two 2nd-class, each for 300 patients 88
     One 1st class, for 150 patients 26




Total Sevastopol force: 18,041 1392

Odessa landing force.

Lower ranks:



excluding servants.

14th Infantry Division (in 3 or 4-battalion organization) 13,200-16,655 781
14th Artillery Brigade in 8-gun organization 742 137
5th Rifle Battalion 675 53
Three companies of the 5th Sapper Battalion 771 89
Detachment of Mobile Replacement Artillery Park No. 13 117 11
Don cossack detachment 200
Mobile invalid company 162
Hospital cadres:
     Two 3rd-class, each for 600 patients 176
     Two 2nd-class, each for 300 patients 132




Total Odessa force: 19,160 1541




Total landing force:



 Overland force. Advance column.

Lower ranks:



excluding servants.

15th Infantry Division 16,655 781
5th Light Cavalry Division 5508 481
15th Artillery Brigade 742 137
5th Horse-Artillery Brigade 439 83
One company of the 5th Sapper Battalion 256 13
Pontoon No. 5 Park (with Pontoon No. 5 Company) 256 188
Mobile Replacement Parks Nos. 14 and 15 702 62
Gendarme detachment 33
 One mobile hospital for 300 patients  223
Hospital cadres for 2100 patients 308
Three Don cossack regiments 2619 6

 Overland force. 4th Infantry Corps.

Lower ranks:



excluding servants.

4th Light Cavalry Division 5508 452
10th Infantry Division 16,655 716
11th Infantry Division 16,655 716
12th Infantry Division 16,655 716
4th Horse-Artillery Brigade 439 81
10th Field Artillery Brigade 790 143
11th Field Artillery Brigade (with 8 guns per battery) 742 137
12th Field Artillery Brigade (with 8 guns per battery) 742 137
4th Sapper Battalion 1027 98
4th Rifle Battalion 675 50
Mobile Replacement Parks Nos. 10, 11, and 12 1053 95
Pontoon No. 4 Park (with Pontoon No. 4 Company) 256 188
Gendarme detachment 33
Three Don cossack regiments 2619 6
Don horse-artillery battery 202 38
One mobile hospital for 300 patients 223
Hospital cadres for 6900 patients 1020
In addition, prescribed for the corps headquarters are:
     4th Infantry Corps 19
     5th Infantry Corps 20




Total overland force 91,261 7,137


Appendix 213.

List of numbers of lower ranks in the forces of the 4th and 5th Infantry Corps designated for the Overland force.
Valid for 1 May.

(Archive of the War Ministry Chancellery for organizing the forces, 1852-54, d. No. 24.)

Advance force.

Lower ranks:




15th Infantry Division (in 3-battalion organization) 12,936 616
15th Artillery Brigade (8 guns per battery) 801 90
5th Light Cavalry Division 6014 480
5th Horse-Artillery Brigade 496 80
One company of the 5th Sapper Battalion 256 13
Pontoon No. 5 Park (with Pontoon No. 5 Park) 256 188
Gendarme detachment 33
Mobile Artillery Park No. 14 363 26
Mobile Artillery Park No. 15 376 26
Don Cossack Regiments Nos. 34 and 37 and
    two sotnias of Regiment No. 22
2219 6





23,750 1525

4th Infantry Corps.

Lower ranks:




Corps headquarters with Gendarme detachment 33 19
4th Light Cavalry Division 6282 397
10th Infantry Division 17,203 651
11th Infantry Division 17,904 656
12th Infantry Division 18,907 743
4th Horse-Artillery Brigade 447 61
10th Artillery Brigade 1291 143
11th Artillery Brigade (12 guns per battery) 948 100
12th Artillery Brigade (12 guns per battery) 813 118
4th Rifle Battalion 670 55
Mobile Replacement Park No. 10 279 26
Mobile Replacement Park No. 11 267 27
Mobile Replacement Park No. 12 353 24
4th Sapper Battalion 1130 101
Pontoon No. 4 Park (with Pontoon No. 4 Company) 256 188
Six Don cossack regiments 5238 12










Total in the overland force:

95,771 4846

Note: In addition to these forces, there are being formed for the overland force mobile companies for the mobile and temporary military hospitals.


Translated by Mark Conrad, 2000.