Edited: Iva Georgieva, Velimir Makaveev
In the fall of 1912 almost all of the Bulgarian army gathered in Thrace. Montenegro had been fighting the Ottoman Empire since September 26th.
At dawn on October 5, passing through the ridge of Strandzha mountain, avoiding main roads, tens of thousands Bulgarian soldiers were headed south. Full of enthusiasm, though fully respecting tactical rules, divisions of Bulgarian soldiers crossed the border between Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire to enter Eastern Thrace. This happened for the last time 540 years ago.
At midnight, on October 5th, Tsar Ferdinand issued "Order No. 15 to the army”, written with heightened dramatism to lift the spirits of the soldiers “... We command our brave army to cross the border and oppose in battle the age-old enemy. Officers, sergeants and soldiers, our campaign is sacred and philanthropic!” It was time for the long built national exaltation on the reunion with the people who were still subservient to the Ottoman Empire to explode. There were cries "Happy War!” that could be heard from Ohrid to Burgas and from the Danube to the Aegean Sea. There came a critical point in the history of the Bulgarians. For them started the brightest military attempt for national unity and with it - a brilliant page in their military history.
In the early twentieth century Bulgaria was developing progressively, even compared to Europe. The economy was agrarian and over 90% of the population lived in rural areas, but the Bulgarian farmer fed not only the country but also produced large surpluses for export to Europe. The number of industrial enterprises was growing. Bulgaria had its peak of development. The country was modernizing although some old manners of thinking weren't forgotten. Though Bulgaria was one of the last countries on the Balkans to win its freedom, the country was quickly catching up with its neighbors and even managed to exceed them. It even could be said that Bulgaria started to resemble Central European countries.
The financial system was stable, and the culture was ascending. Education was more affordable and many young Bulgarians were sent to study in most prestigious universities in Western Europe and in Russia. The challenges that stood in front of the young country were many. The creation of well-educated people and businessmen and the establishment of new and stable legal system were just some of them. All changes were made possible mostly because of the high spirit, the growing self-confidence and the belief in the national ideal of the Bulgarian people.
And with all said above, there was an idea that stood highest in every person’s mind and that was the unification of the Bulgarian nation on all of the Bulgarian territory. That was the dream for liberation of all “brothers” who were still subjects of the Ottoman Empire and that dream was passionate.
This vision was acknowledged and by the country's authorities although it wasn’t officially supported even during the Ilinden–Preobrazhenie Uprising. At the same time IMRO (Inside Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) was not hindered and the organization was enjoying broad support. Preparations and armament were ongoing for the inevitable future war.
The war, especially after the rising from 1903, was foreseen as the only possibility and was desired by everyone - from ordinary peasants through clergy and intellectuals to politicians. It is hard to point at another moment in the Bulgarian history when society stood so united behind one and the same ideal.
The Great Powers and their interests on the Balkans
The Balkans are often called “The Powder Keg of Europe”. However, it is often not mentioned that conflict is sometimes escalated by the Great Powers, not only by Balkan nations. The so called “Eastern Question”, which is actually the fight for dividing up the land acquired from the Ottoman Empire, is a very hot topic in the last decades of the 19th century. It is the arguments between the Great Powers and their decisions in the Berlin Congress that divide political boundaries from the ethnical ones. The future Balkan conflicts in the 20th century can be traced back to those decisions and the Berlin Congress.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Europe lives in its „Belle Époque”, in a time of unprecedented growth. Everyone believed that progress is inevitable and all conflicts had been long forgotten, thanks to the economical and agricultural growth. Politicians and military men, however, realized the possibility of a huge war in Europe, and they prepared for it. Countries in Europe were divided into two political alliances, which would soon begin The Great War. Russia, Great Britain, and France formed the Triple Entente in 1907, while the Triple Alliance concluded of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, and originated in 1882.
After their inception, both alliances started to fight for power, and the Balkans were turned into a hot spot. A conflict was beginning to arise between the Christian nations such as Bulgaria, and their long-time enemy the Ottoman Empire. The tough situation on the Balkan Peninsula led to interventions by the Great Powers, and of course, them trying to defend their own interests. The two most active empires were the enemies Russia and Austria-Hungary. After the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, they agreed to help each other’s’ cause in the Balkans. Austria-Hungary desired the annexation of Bosnia, while the Russians aimed to control the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. Austria-Hungary was able to achieve its goal, but in order to prevent being blamed by the Great Powers for breaking the Treaty of Berlin, Bulgaria was pushed into breaking the Treaty first. On the 22nd of September, 1908, the Bulgarian principality annexed Eastern Rumelia to form the Kingdom of Bulgaria, thus achieving the national unification Bulgarians have long dreamt for. The next day, Austria- Hungary annexed Bosnia, and Greece annexed the island of Crete on the 24th of September. During those 3 days, several annexations occurred, and the status quo was changed.
Russia did not seem to make its move fast enough, and it seemed like it would not be able to achieve its goals on the Balkans. That is why the Russians declared themselves against the annexation of Bosnia, and started to tighten its relations with Serbia and Montenegro. The Serbians were enemies with the Habsburg Empire at the time. In order to strengthen Russia’s position on the Balkans, Russian diplomats tried to convince the leading Orthodox country Bulgaria, and Russia’s main Balkan ally Serbia, to form an alliance with each other. The efforts of Anatoliy Nekliudov and Nikolay Hartwig, the Russian ambassadors in Bulgaria and Serbia, were incredible.
Even though Russia was formally supporting a Serbian-Bulgarian alliance, St. Petersburg didn’t support Bulgaria’s efforts for a national unification. Russia didn’t want Bulgaria to become the leading factor and most powerful country on the Balkans, which is why the Russians thought that Macedonia, which was largely Bulgarian-populated, should be divided between Serbia and Greece. This decision can also be traced back to the end of the 19th century, when Bulgarian politicians did what was best for their country, ignoring Russia’s opinion on the subject. That is why Tsar Nikolay of Russia didn’t trust Bulgaria enough to show support for the Bulgarian causes.
Austria-Hungary and Germany were on the side of the Ottoman Empire. The Austrians wanted to use the Italian-Turkish war in order to annex new Balkan territories. France and Great Britain were also on the Ottoman’s side, as the Ottomans fought against an enemy country of both empires. All of the, were satisfied with the balance of power in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East, and wanted to keep it that way.
The Italian-Turkish War of 1911-1912 was a conflict between Italy and the Ottoman Empire for North African provinces Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. Italy took charge from the beginning, and thanks to its more developed navy it took not only the three provinces in question, but also the Dodecanese Islands, as well as the Island of Rhodes. This showed Europe how undeveloped the Ottoman Empire was, and Balkan nations saw an opportunity to achieve their dreams of unification. Every Italian win brought hope to the Bulgarians that soon they could crush the Empire which had enslaved them for so long and free all their brothers who were still part of the Ottoman Empire because of the unjust decisions of the Berlin Congress.
However, Bulgarian diplomats realized that they would have hard time succeeding against the Ottomans by themselves. That is why Bulgaria started negotiating with the other Balkan Christian nations, which also had demands towards the Ottomans. These moves by the Balkan nations were highly stimulated by some of the Great Powers, which tried to use the escalating tension on the Balkans in order to achieve their own goals.
On 19th of July, 1912, after an attack by IMRO, in Kocani two Turks and six Bulgarians found their death. The local Turks organized what is known as the “Kocani massacre”, killing 40 Bulgarians. The reaction in Bulgaria was very strong. The Great Powers, specifically Austria-Hungary, used this and tried to convince the Ottoman Empire to make reforms and decentralize Macedonia. Russia also followed the events, preparing its own intervention if needed. The Ottoman Empire was incapable of dealing with the situation in Macedonia and the Great Powers weren’t persistent enough in their asking – every one of them wanted to achieve its own goals, and they didn’t include protection of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Even though the Great Powers seemed to be at peace with each other, most were preparing and looking towards a war on the Balkans. Russia, which initiated the Balkan League, seemed to have the best position in 1912. The Russians tried to weaken the positions of Germany and Austria-Hungary on the Balkans, as well as strengthen their own.
In the two months before the war, the Great Powers were highly involved in the Balkans' affairs trying to achieve their own goals through diplomacy. It was obvious that Russia, France and England understood how serious the situation was and that a war was inevitable, so they tried to synchronize their actions for the times when the war would come to life. Unlike the Entente, Germany and Austria-Hungary did not believe that Balkan countries would ever attack the Ottoman Empire. This shows how short-sighted were they about the situation on the Balkans, as they didn’t understand how serious the threat really was. The patience of Bulgarians, Serbs, and Greeks toward the Ottomans was running very low. Despite the impossibility of keeping peace in the Balkans, Austria-Hungary, Germany and England to some extent, tried to initiate changes in the Ottoman Empire to prevent the war. This however couldn’t stop the Balkan countries, including Bulgaria, who were highly determined to take everything they believed was theirs.
The Entente had an idea for the Balkan League that consisted of them being used in the future not only against the Ottoman Empire, but Austria-Hungary as well. The Triple Alliance attracted the Ottoman Empire and Romania on its side. Even though England and France supported Russia’s wish to create a Balkan League, both Western countries weren’t excited at the possibility of war in 1912, because they felt that might be the start of a big war, for which they didn’t feel prepared.
Few days before war outbreak, Austria-Hungary and Germany accepted the inevitable and did their best to prevent the conflict from spreading into a European one. Austria-Hungary sent more troops to the Balkan Peninsula. Italy tried to use the situation and on October 5, 1912, the Italian-Turkish War is ended. Coincidentally, Bulgaria declared war on the Ottoman Empire on the same date. The Italians used the situation to sign a favorable peace treaty with the Ottomans.
Before the Balkan War started, Russia and Austria-Hungary were chosen from the Great Powers to make a proclamation to the Balkan countries stating that every action that could lead to breaking the peace will be condemn.
Also, the Great Powers offered their help to the Sultan in order to create necessary reforms in European parts of the Ottoman Empire and declare that if a war is to outbreak, no territory would change hands. On 19th of September, two days after Bulgaria mobilized its troops, Russian Foreign Relations Minister Sergey Sazonov declared a war on the Balkans untimely, and spoke of Russia’s disapproval of such actions. He also tried to impose to the Bulgarian government the thought not to expect considerable help from Greece and Serbia. Bulgaria expressed its gratitude to the Great Powers for their concerns, but demanded particular reforms in the parts of the Ottoman Empire filled with Bulgarian population. This was the common wish that was send as a note to the Sultan on 30th of September from Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro. The note was rejected showing once more the Ottoman Empire’s lack of desire in making any improvements for the Christian population upon which it ruled.
Germany accepted the news for the inevitable war calmly, and was became chief supplier of ammunitions, guns, and war machinery for the Ottoman Empire. German war instructors were part of the Ottoman army, which was huge insurance for Germany in achieving the desired end of the war.
As we said before, The Great Powers were divided and chasing their own goals. All of them took part in the war preparations as all of them were responsible in some way for not preventing it.
Politically, the war is led and prepared by the Balkan League – a system of treaties between Eastern Orthodox nations on the Balkan Peninsula, mainly Serbia and Bulgaria. After the Serbian-Bulgarian War of 1885, relations between the two countries had warmed up considerably, as trade and customs unions were formed, and delegacies were exchanged. Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria met with Tsar Petar of Serbia, and arranged a war alliance between the two countries. Though negotiations were tough, they were approved and supported by the Russian diplomacy. After the outbreak of the Italian-Turkish War, Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Evstatiev Geshov returned quickly from his Vichy vacation and immediately went to Belgrade in order to offer an alliance, thinking that the right moment has come. Soon, the treaty was signed. It was mostly anti-Ottoman and anti-Austrian. If Austria-Hungary was to attack Serbia, Bulgaria promised to help with 200,000 troops. If the Ottoman Empire was to attack either country, the other country had to help with their entire army. If the two countries were to decide to attack the Empire first, they had to tell Russia first and after Russia’s approval, they could start the attack with the required force - Bulgaria with at least 200,000 troops, Serbia with at least 150,000. The future territories to be gained were divided as follows: Serbia recognized Bulgaria’s right to annex all Ottoman territories in Eastern Thrace, Aegean Thrace and Eastern Macedonia. Bulgaria recognized Serbia’s right to annex all territories to the north and west of Shar Mountain – mainly Kosovo and the Novopazar Sandjak. Between Shar Mountain and the Struma River, there is a buffer zone, which remained undivided yet, and according to the Treaty, it could either be autonomous, but if that affects both countries’ interests, they were to split it up. The division would take place diagonally from Kriva Palanka to the Ohrid Lake. Anything southwest of the line (also called “Undisputed Zone”) was for Bulgaria, while the fate of the “Disputed Zone” was left in the hands of the Russian Emperor. While effects took place in this territory, there would be a condominium.
After a few months, a Bulgaria signed another secret treaty, this time with Greece. It was also targeted against the Ottoman Empire, and English diplomacy helped the two countries to sort out their differences. In the future war, Bulgaria was supposed to have 300,000 troops, while Greece - to help with 120,000. There was nothing mentioned about what will happen with the territories that are gained from the war! Both countries had their claims for Southern Macedonia, but were confident that they would be in better shape at the end of the war, and would be able to divide it up based on who occupied which region.
The last part of creating the Balkan League was an agreement by mouth between Bulgaria and Montenegro, as well as later ones between Serbia and Montenegro, and Montenegro and Greece for unified military actions. The treaties, especially the one with Greece, were done very poorly. Their same existence was a giant geopolitical mistake for Bulgaria- the only guarantees against breaking the treaties were the treaties themselves. Bulgaria’s back in Macedonia was left open, while Bulgaria has to carry most of the attacks on the enemy. If Serbia and Greece were to decide to unite against Bulgaria, the Bulgarians would have nothing to keep them safe on the West if Bulgaria was taken up in a war in the East, and vice versa. Everything relied on Greece and Serbia’s good intentions.
State of the army and armament
A new factor appeared on the scene of the Balkan history. One that everyone had to take into consideration - the Bulgarian army.
In Bulgarian history, the army has always been among the most important structures of the state. Its exceptional importance is evident in the Third Bulgarian Kingdom, where the army was the guarantor of national security, exponent and defender of the patriotic aspirations of the Bulgarian people and the guardian of Bulgarian tradition and culture. In the sense of the rising nationalistic ideas in Bulgaria after the liberation, the army was perceived as even more valuable for the existence and development of the country. It was state policy to invest a largely in modernizing the country’s armament and recruiting of the army. In these turbulent times, it was more than obvious that only a strong army could guarantee a dignified place for Bulgaria in the Balkans and in Europe. Moreover, the Bulgarian nation cherished immense respect for its army and for every Bulgarian, it was a matter of honor to be part of it.
According to the Armed Forces Law from 1891, the Bulgarian army consisted of the entire male population on age between twenty to forty-five years, who was fit to serve.
The armed forces were divided into three main parts: Active Army, Reserve Army and Army of volunteers. The Active Army included the ten youngest annual contingents - the men on age between twenty and thirty years. The Reserve Army was built with an auxiliary function, but in a major military conflict, it was authorized to act outside the state, conducting operations on enemy’s territory. It consisted of men aged 30 to 37 years and men between 20 and 37 who were for some reason to fulfill their military duties under milder conditions.
The militia consisted of two reservists call: the first between 37 and 41 years old, which could also be used outside the country, while the second included the last four annual contingents (42-45 years) and its participants couldn’t be used outside the borders of the Principality.
The Bulgarian soldiers had to serve two years in the infantry, and three years in the special armed forces in order to prepare for the performance of their duty and to be able to resist effectively to the enemy. The young Bulgarians, irrespective of origin and status, got used to the order, discipline and respect of the state, which became one of the main features of the Bulgarian army in the Third Bulgarian Tsardom. The military service was highly desired by the young people. There were even cases of Bulgarian soldiers hiding diseases or disabilities in order to participate in the military service and the attempts of deviation were too few. During their military service, the young men gained valuable experience and skills which put the Bulgarian army among the most trained armies of the early twentieth century. In the subsequent events, the military spirit and the qualities of the Bulgarian soldiers were to surprise the enemy and all Europe.
The Bulgarian political and military leaders were making great efforts to build a slender and efficient military structure. The Army has a peacetime and wartime structure. In wartime, the Active army consisted of the following armed forces:
- Infantry of 24 regiments, each of 4 battalions and support company, each group was composed of 4 regiments
- Cavalry, consisting of four cavalry regiments of 4 squadrons each, and in addition, it was been created a Leib-Guards N.TS.V. squadron, and six Divisional sotni cavalry, the total number of the cavalry was 23 squadrons.
- Artillery, consisting of six regiments with six battalions field artillery, mountain artillery of 6 battalions and garrison artillery of 3 battalions of 4 companies each
- Engineering troops, consisting of six pioneer battalions with 2 pioneer companies each, signal unit and park platoon, wire park, pontoon, Park Railway Company and landscape company;
- field gendarmerie, consisting of six separate gendarm sotni which are formed by the Gendarmerie of the Prinicipality
The Military departments were:
- 6 divisional hospitals, military hospital and military infirmaries, two mobile artillery workshops, two mobile artillery depots, repair - horse unit; evacuation Committee, main provision depot, six divisional provision offices, staging commandantships and 6 half gendarm companies.
Seen as a whole, the parts of the Active army formed 6 divisions, 1 horse division and parts which weren’t included in the divisions but belonged to the army. Each of the six divisions consisted of four infantry regiments, including 16 battalions, 1 engineering battalion of troops, 1 Artillery Regiment of 6 battalions, 1 battalion of mountain artillery, 1 cavalry division, 1 sotnia field Gendarmerie; support battalion, sanitary Company; sanitary transport, divisional hospital; provision compartment; gendarm halt company. The horse division was composed of four cavalry regiments, divided into two brigades. The Leib-Guards squadron and all other parts and facilities that were not included in the division compositions remained directly subordinated to the headquarter of the army.
The Reserve Army in wartime had the following armed forces:
- Infantry, of 24 reserved regiments of 4 battalions each, each battalion consisted of 4 companies, cavalry, 6 separate divisions from two to three squadrons;
- Artillery, 6 artillery regiments, each with 4 to 6 field batteries and 6 separate mountain batteries;
- Engineering troops, including some pioneering companies
- Auxiliary forces and institutions, including 6 support battalions, six divisional hospitals, artillery park, artillery mobile workshop, six provision compartments, the last two are formed only if the Reserve Army operates completely separately from the Active Army.
In wartime part of the reserve army formed six separate divisions and some parts that belonged to the whole army. The divisions consisted of: four infantry regiments each, involving 16 battalions, an artillery regiment, including 4 to 6 batteries, mountain battery, horse division, pioneering company; support battalion, divisional hospital; provision compartment. All other parts were common for the whole Reserve Army.
The militia in wartime also had clearly defined structures and functions. The first call was to give as many companies as districts were in the state. These companies were united into 24 regional battalions. Each of these battalions had as many companies as the administrative districts in the military-regimental command. The militia had to be mustered immediately after the mobilization of the Reserve Army and in case the Army was to leave the borders of the state, six volunteer regiments were to be formed, each one consisting of four battalions.
The second call of the militia was to give once more as many companies as the existing districts. The terms were that every company was going to serve in the district that it had been summoned from. The same going for the battalions in their military districts. If the first call however went outside the district, the companies were uniting in battalions.
The structure of the Bulgarian army was simple, sophisticated and extremely effective. According to this structure, the total number of the Active Army was slightly over 137, 000 soldiers, 100, 000 of them infantry, 3570 people in the cavalry, 12,000 - artillery, 4000 - engineering troops, 600 –field gendarmerie, 12000 - auxiliary troops and 5500 who were part of different departments. The Reserve Army was supposed to number of just over 117,000 soldiers and the militia and the supplementing troops consisted of 32,000 people each.
This law for the structure of the armed forces had been amended several times till the Balkan War started. The most significant changes were made in 1897 and were related to the desire to unify the Reserve with the Active Army. Therefore, several steps were taken in this direction.
It was made possible that in case of need, parts of the Reserve army could escape from forming separate divisions but the army was able to join the battalions of the Active army. The organization of the militia was also slightly changed so every battalion consisted of 4 regiments. The law from 1897 also disorganized in a way the recruitment of the Reserve Army. Realizing their mistake, the government quickly amended the law by strengthening the position of the Reserve army and re- established its power. 12 reserved regiments were created, each of them consisting of 5 companies , one of them - the frontier.
In 1899, the Bulgarian Navy was established. Even after the liberation, Bulgaria had river (Danube) fleet.
The struggle for the liberation of Bulgaria under Ottoman rule peaked at Ilinden – Preobrazhenie uprising of August of 1903. Thousands of Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace chose death over the yoke and showed the world that courage, love of family and Fatherland are eternal. The brutal suppression of the uprising led to serious tension in the Bulgarian society. The idea that Bulgaria should protect its children across borders was very popular. The opinion of the politicians and senior military men was however that the country wasn’t ready for war yet. But they knew that the time for that will come soon so they started to modernize the army and to prepare it for war.
In 1903 was passed a new law for the structure of the armed forces. The age limit for the military service has been increased by 1 year - up to 46 years. The armed forces were divided into two main parts: the Operational, Active army (annual contingents of 20 to 40 years) and of the militia. Also there were announced two calls - the first call for annual contingents of 40 to 44 years and the second one for annual contingents of 44 to 46 years.
It was decided that in wartime the corps organization should be used in a manner that the division will extend to corps and the brigade to division.
The corps consisted of two infantry divisions, each of them divided into two brigades or four regiments, every regiment consisting of four battalions (total: 32 battalions); two artillery regiments with three detachments or nine batteries; two squadron divisional cavalry; pioneer battalion; two divisional provision transport; two infantry park companies and park artillery company, two divisional infirmaries, two divisional field hospitals, six corps field hospitals and two divisional military infirmaries.
The total number of one division was 21,725 soldiers, for both divisions – 43, 450, and for the whole corps - 45,355 fighters, giving a total number of the nine corps of 408,195 people. To this number there must be added the horse division artillery, the mountain artillery and other parts in order to reach the overall size of the army - 415,000 soldiers (361,795 of them infantry, about 41,000 artillery, 4520 cavalry and 7875 pioneer troops).
The Bulgarian leaders tried to put into practice the main law statements as quickly as possible, but they faced several difficulties.
The infantry was developing very intensively, mainly because of the great desire of the Bulgarian soldiers to serve and learn. The law of 1903 was fully applied in the infantry, and it became the most important and significant part of the Bulgarian Army. The development of the Navy was satisfactory (they were in disposal of six torpedo–boats and one coastal battery). The situation with the cavalry and the artillery however was a bit different. They required specific knowledge and serious investment that were difficult for the country to achieve. Both the cavalry and the artillery couldn’t develop to the level set out in the law, but despite all obstacles and difficulties, they strengthened in accordance with the capacity of the state which was vastly developing.
A new change was made in 1908 according to which during wartime in the Active armies were going to be mobilized only men between 20 and 30 years. The annual contingents between 30 and 40 years were supposed to create reserve regiments and brigades, composed almost entirely of reservists. Those regiments and brigades were going to be added to the active divisions later. Since 1910 there began a more intensive development of the artillery because of the oncoming war. The engineering troops continued to develop their capacity and create the Technical Park, including the Aircraft Division, Automotive Division, Spotlights Department and engineering workshop. In 1912, the divisional commissariats were reorganized, and thus facilitated the supplies.
On the eve of the Balkan War, Bulgaria had three military-inspection areas, with three infantry divisions each, two brigades, consisting of two infantry regiments, and every regiment - of two companies, non-combatant company and submachine – gun platoon.
In the division there was an artillery regiment with three compartments, consisting of 2 batteries with 4 harnessed guns. The non-combatant parts were the divisional commissariat with a divisional company and the divisional hospital with a sanitary company. The divisions were according to their areas of inspection: For the First Inspection District (Sofia) - I Sofia, VI and VII Bdinska and Rila Division, for the second inspection area (Plovdiv) - II Thracian, III and VIII Balkan and Tundzha divisions and Third Inspection District (Rousse) - Preslav IV, V and IX Danube and Pleven divisions.
Besides the infantry divisions, the army had in its disposal three horse brigades - Sofia, Plovdiv and Shumen with total number of ten regiments and in addition the Leib-Guards NV cavalry regiment.
The engineering troops included railway engineering battalion with technical Park, three pioneer battalions with six companies each, telegraph company and pontoon battalion.
The fleet consisted of staff, fixed defense, movable defense, training section, arsenal equipment and Danube area.
The legal and sanitary troops were part of the army, as well.
According to the official budget for 1912, the officers of regular military service’s number was 2,891, the commissioned officers’ - 4,204 and soldiers’ - 54,782. All reserve officers in 1912 held the number 4,095 people.
So on the eve of the war, Bulgaria had around 7,000 officers, while in a wartime state they were supposed to be to be 11 590, leaving a shortage of nearly 4,500 officers.
The commissioned officers on active duty and in the reserve during 1912 were 48,102 people, which is a bit higher than the required 46, 760 people, according to the military plans. The soldiers at war were 459,810 people, about 10 percent of the total population of the state.
In wartime, there was planned a third brigade to be attached to every infantry division and the other armed forces had to be increased as well. However, it was impossible to create new parts in the cavalry on account of the lack of horses. During mobilization, along with the additional parts of various armed forces, there were created two Volunteer battalions from each of the two planned calls.
According to the financial plans of the Ministry of War, the best trained men in Bulgaria, who were subject to mobilization numbered 535, 459 people, but to them there should be added the men, who haven’t served before and who were going to take positions behind the trained ones or in non-combat areas.
In conclusion, it can be said that the preparation and planning were very well administered. The army became the main pillar of the community.
Like we said before part of the preparations for the war was the modernizing of the armaments.
Since 1891 the the outdated ‘Berdan’ rifle was replaced by the "Mannlicher" rifle, which was considered best rifle in the world. Guns "Mannlicher" models of 1888, 1890 and 1895 and rifles "Mannlicher" models 1890 and 1895 were already in use. The artillery relied heavily on systems "Krupp" - 8.7 cm, and 7.5 cm long-range guns of steel.
In 1892 the Bulgarian army was introduced to the 12 cm howitzers 'Krupp' with range of 5000 meters. Guns of 7.5 cm weren’t used anymore. They were replaced by 8.7 cm guns but there were still some of the old ones left in the spare batteries.
In 1903, officers were given the 9 mm "Parabellum" pistol, one of the most modern in the world. In the same year the army started to use smokeless gunpowder. After the entering of the high–speed cannons into the world artillery practice, Bulgaria instantly bought a 15 cm howitzers with speeded firing "Schneider" with range of 6,500 meters. In 1905 and 1906 the field and mountain artillery were rearmed with 7.5 cm "Schneider" guns with range of 6,000 meters. A battery already was in possession of four guns.
In 1908 the Army adopted "Maxim" machinegun, which were providing 450 shots per minute. Due to the new arms, machine gun platoons were formed to all infantry and cavalry regiments, which were transformed into companies before the war. On 1 January 1911, three field howitzer batteries were formed and equipped with thirty-six guns, 12 cm each.
Normally there were problems in this field as well. There weren’t enough of the ‘Mannlicher’ rifles so only the Active army was supplied with them. The militia, the complementary parts and the new units were still using the old "Berdan" rifles and even the "Kranka" guns, which were then outdated. During the mobilization, there appeared another lack - of "Parabellum" pistols, so many officers were armed with old "Smith & Wesson" guns. For some of the officers, guns even weren’t provided and they armed themselves or went to the front only with swords.
The artillery wasn’t fully assembled and accoutered. The most serious problem was the siege artillery, which wasn’t equipped enough so that it was considered unable to capture a well-fortified castle. The Bulgarian defense ministry had to buy 15,000 infantry rifles and 10,000 carbines "Mannlicher" just before the beginning of the war so that it could provide weapons for the engineering troops and for Macedonian- Adrianopolitan volunteers.
The uniforms were simple and suitable for the front. They were consistent with the idea of khaki from the beginning of the twentieth century according to which the fighter and the environment were to merge maximum. During the mobilization, most parts got quality clothes in khaki (green or gray), but the clothes weren’t enough and many of the soldiers were forced to wear different colored uniforms. There were also reservists with civilian clothes. There was lack of shoes and some of the soldiers had to wear puttees and sandals.
Despite of the hardships and shortages, the Bulgarian military didn’t complain but went bravely to the front.
The marines were to carry backpacks, cartridge-boxes, trench tools, water flask and others. The cavalry parts carried a sword and sword belt for a sword knot. According to the confidential "position by 1906" the marines in wartime had to carry 27, 945 kg., - 16, 790 kg. equipment and clothing, 9, 435 kg. weapons and 1, 720 kg. provision. The cavalryman carried 13, 900 kg. - 8, 710 kg. equipment and clothing, and 5, 190 kg. arms. Other items weren’t allowed to be worn on the saddle.
Thanks to the energetic and visionary actions of the Bulgarian authorities in 1903, in 1911the horse-breeding had increased and, the army had 97,352 horses. The shortage was compensated by oxen. The army supply train had 15,758 trucks horse carts, which was achieved with the help of private entrepreneurs mobilized in each divisional area.
The Bulgarian army was impressively well trained. The "Plan of Allocation of the annual duties in the army" of 1892 says: "the army should be trained in the spirit of freedom, self-expression of the mental and physical strength (...)when performing a task. The goals are set by senior captains, the captains with a lower rank operate completely independently in selecting means (...) for which purpose it is necessary, above all, the determination in the accomplishment. Therefore, at every head must be rooted consciousness that omissions and negligence to the given task leads to greater responsibility than the errors in the selection of means of carrying out these tasks. "
On this basis was created a strata of clear thinking and acting and ambitious officers who would play a key role on the battlefield and who were going to win the battle due to their individual decisions and due to their ability of taking quick decisions in any situation.
Crucial role in shaping the fighting qualities was played by the sessions and exercises. The main part of the education was practical. During the large and small maneuvers, the interaction of different armed forces was worked off. Thus the Bulgarian army managed to achieve a good interaction between infantry, artillery and engineering troops and only the cavalry remained somehow incompletely integrated with the other armed forces.
One of the main processes that the Bulgarian infantry was trained to, mostly by Russian Officers was the method “Fix Bayonets” which became signature for the Bulgarian army. Along with the demoralizing effect on the enemy it was believed that the qualities of the Bulgarian troops would be used most effectively in such direct skirmishes.
The soldiers were thoughts on tricks and main military strategies as well. One example of that is: "Interrupting the fight and the retreat does not mean defeat, on the contrary, such a course of action is sometimes just a trick." This situation was explained to all ranks officers and created extreme moral stability. Even in peak tension and threat of complete defeat, the Bulgarian soldiers planned their actions ahead. The Bulgarian military regulation rejected completely the idea of passive defense and stated that only active defense is going to give positive results. This is another proof of the progress of the Bulgarian military thought and the spirit of courage and determination in the army.
Another interesting practice was the one of the silent night attack – the Bulgarian troops were trained to move stealthily in close order and to attack on “fix bayonets” in silence.
The main striking force of the army was the infantry at that time. The technological state of the army was at a level that allowed the artillery only to support the infantry or the cavalry. The Air Forces were at the beginning of their development.
In this situation, Bulgaria has an unexpected advantage - the first class condition of its infantry. The good quality of the weapons and the extraordinary fighting spirit allowed fast and efficient mastering of training. It was decided that the infantry should lead the main battles, fighting on its way with fire and decide the outcome of the fighting with bayonets. In the battle preparation of the infantry enters the entrenchment both in the defensive and in the offensive battle.
The preparation of the artillery was also on very high level. Officers from Western Europe and Russia were training the Bulgarian army by the latest trends in the warfare.
The cavalry still was the least improved part of the Bulgarian army although that was quite natural due to its sundown in the world warfare.
The engineering troops however went through a very rapid growth during the Balkan war, and managed to achieve a number of major successes in peacetime, which became the basis for their successful actions during the war.
However, we shouldn’t forget that the main enemy - the Ottoman Empire was very experienced and had a long military tradition and imperial resources. During the Balkan War, the Ottoman Empire still had significant power, although it couldn’t be compared to the level of the Western Great Powers. The Empire covered an area of 2, 983,000 square kilometers and a population of 24.8 million people (many times more than all the population on the countries of the Balkan Union).
According to the initial estimates of its General Staff, the Ottoman Empire must mobilize to 1,000,000 person army for the coming war, but in fact it turns out that it can mobilize only 420,000 of them. It has about 1,000 guns in the infantry units and around 1, 300 fortress guns, and 420 machine guns. The armament of the infantry is also good - with "Mauser" and "Martini" guns.
However, the Empire is the sick man of Europe. Parts of the command staff are poorly trained. Nearly half of the officers, recruited from the feudal backgrounds, do not pass through the military school.
Their attitude towards ordinary soldiers is quite harsh and dismissive. The soldiers do not have a particular motivation to fight. That is why, imams and mullahs are called to kindle religious sentiments, speaking about their Holy War of the half- moon against the cross. The emphasis is on religion, but these are medieval motifs that are trite in modern times. The Ottoman army and its structure are from semi-feudal type. It became ripe as a nationalist Young Turk revolution.
At the tactical-operational level things seem also bad. At the headquarter predominate the opinion that the Balkans states will not manage to agree among themselves on appropriate actions and therefore there is no war plan against the Balkan Union. When the war becomes inevitable, the Turkish commanders decided to implement a plan against the Allies № 5, according to which the Thracian war is defined as a first- rate. On it they concentrated the eastern army of 183,600 men, apart from that in the Adrianople fortress lies a major military garrison of 70,000 men. According the plan, the forces must occur from Adrianople and Lozengrad to Elhovo, Stara Zagora, the Bulgarian troops should be pushed back along the Maritsa valley, pressed to the Rhodope mountain and destroyed with the help of the Kardzhali corps.
In Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Epirus, which means all other fronts, except that against the Bulgarian, the Turkish headquarters focuses the Western (Vardar) army which together with the other compounds in the region is around 156, 000 people. However, the Allies have a total of 421,000 people.
The western army should initially take defensive positions and when the general situation of the troops improved to go fight back against the enemy. None of these plans are implemented. Bulgaria and its allies face a powerful enemy, but with weakened motivation and not fully effective military resources.
Additional role for the future defeat is the geography - the Ottoman Front is from Albania to the Black Sea, with a narrow strip of land of Western Thrace, south from Bulgaria and north of the White Sea.
This implies easily interruption of the connection between the Western and Eastern armies, and large supply problems.
The Italo-Turkish War showed the weaknesses of the army, although the last one is led by some eminent professionals like Shukri Pasha, Abdullah Pasha, Mahmoud Mukhtar Pasha and Hussein Rauf Bey Orban.
The Kingdom of Serbia mobilized nearly 230,000 Army with 540 guns. Its powers amounted to 10 infantry and 1 cavalry division grouped into 3 armies and 2 independent squads under the supreme command of the General Radomir Putnik.
The most powerful group is the first Serbian Army with the following structure: 5 infantry and 1 cavalry division - about 90, 000 people concentrated in Vranje, under the command of Chief of Staff General..Peter Bojovic.
2nd Federal army consists of two infantry divisions – the Serbian Timoska (first call) and the Bulgarian 7th Rila Division with a total of approximately 50,000 people located in Bulgaria near Kyustendil and Dupnitsa under the command Serbian General Stepan Stepanovich.
3rd Serbian army, consisting of three divisions (total 60,000 troops) under the command of General Bozidar Jankovic is concentrated near Kurshumlia and Medvezha.
The Ibar Force (12,000 people) and Yavorskiya Squad (8, 000 people) are located near Kraljevo, west of the main forces against the Novopazarskiya Sandzak and Kosovo.
The main aim of the Serbian army is to break the main field south of Vranje along, through Kumanovo to Stip with the forces of their biggest first army. 2nd allied army must make a detour to the west through Kriva Palanka to Kocani. 3rd - through Pristina and Skopje.
The Ibur squad advances to Kosovo, and the Yavorskata Brigade left entirely for shelter against Austria-Hungary, and later invades into the Novopazarskiya Sanjak.
On October 7 First Serbian Army invaded Macedonia from Vranje(Macedonia). In the meantime the Timok division from the Second Serbian Army entered Kriva Palanka from Kyustendil, but was stopped by 15th Ottoman division on the hills near Kratovo.
At the same time the Vardar Army of the Ottoman Empire faced the First Serbian Army near Kumanovo.
In the battle of Kumanovo, which is the most significant battle in Vardar Macedonia, the Serbian Army (132 000 soldiers) outnumbered twice the army of the Ottoman Empire (65 000 soldiers). The battle lasted for two days and the Serbian forces managed to defeat and push back the Ottomans. Both sides suffered minor losses.
As a result the Serbians obtained foothold to advance into the interior of Macedonia by the most direct and convenient road – through the railway in direction Thessaloniki – Pristina.
The Ottomans regroupd and draw off to Bitola, while being pressured by the advancing Greek army from the South. Eventually, they managed to repel near Lerin. A second major battle took place at the same time – the Battle of Bitola between the First Serbian Army and the Vardar Army of the Ottoman Empire. This time the Serbs had almost three times the Ottoman’s soldiers (108 000 to 38 000 soldiers) and logically managed to defeat them. As in the previous battle, both sides suffered minor losses.
Zekki Pasha withdrawed his troops through Resen to South Albania, which put an end to the Ottoman military presence in Macedonia.
Those operations were also facilitated by the actions of IMRO in the rear of enemy lines.
After defeating the Ottoman Vardar Army and getting control over Macedonia, The Serbian commanders distributed a substantial share of its forces in support of allies, fighting at other fronts. Two divisions (Timok and Danube) were sent at the siege of Adrianople and three others– at the siege of Shkodra.
Montenegro was the first to start military actions against the Ottoman Empire in order to distract Ottoman forces’ attention from the fight with the Serbs. Aproximately 35 000 soldiers were mobilized (including volunteers from Bosnia and the region, who joined the military actions later). They were grouped into four infantry divisions with 140 guns.
Their main tasks were taking possession of Novi Pazar Sandzak and most importantly the fortress of Shkodra, where ¾ of the forces were concentrated. Together with reinforcements from three Serbian divisions, who were in disposal of large amount of siege artillery, the forces assaulted the fortress. After series of negotiations Shkodra was captured but at the price of significant losses. Esad pasha surrenders on 23rd April 1913 after receiving permission to withdraw together with his troops and weapons to the south through Albania.
The joint actions of the Serb forces and the advancing Montenegrin Eastern Division result in Novi Pazar Sandzak being brought into control.
Greece disposes with the most solid navy among the Balkan countries (commander is Admiral Pavlos Kunturiotis). It includes one heavy cruiser, three battleships, 14 destroyers and other smaller ships, along with a reconnaissance seaplane, incorporated during the course of the war. According to the agreement between Bulgaria and Greece, the task of the reconnaissance seaplane is to hinder the transportation of Ottoman troops from the Aegean Sea to the Balkans.
Ground forces have been divided in two armies, which dispose with nearly 250 weapons – Thessaly Army, stationed near Larissa (which comprises four planes and around 100 000 soldiers, grouped in seven infantry divisions and one cavalry brigade) and Epirus Army (including around 13 000 soldiers). By the end of the war the amount of soldiers reaches 215 000 people.
The fleet rapidly establishes dominance in the Aegean Sea; it conquers most of the Aegean islands, blocks the Dardanelles and thus the maritime link between the Ottoman possessions in Asia Minor and Macedonia has been obstructed. This situation forces the staff to detach forces from the Eastern Army near Luleburgaz to guard Gallipoli. Moreover, the reinforcements from Syria and Palestine are forced to advance towards the front through the long and relatively slow land route, whereas at the same time the allies are able to transfer troops also by sea. For example, 7th Rila Infantry Division has been transferred by the Greek ships from Thessaloniki to the front in Eastern Thrace and also to some parts of Albania.
This happens due to the fact that at this time the main forces of the Turkish fleet have either been devoted to defense of the soldiers or to protection of the supply through the Black Sea. When the Bulgarians reach Chataldzha, they pound the Ottomans’ positions with heavy naval artillery from the sea.
The straits themselves remain under the control of the Ottoman fleet, therefore the Ottoman army is able to transfer troops from Asia Minor to eastern Thrace.
The Ottoman fleet attempts to pierce the Greek blockade at the Dardanelles twice, but at the end the Ottomans are unsuccessful. Only the cruiser Hamidie manages to break through the blockade and to enter the Aegean Sea, which has negative consequences for the Greek merchant navy and the military transport ships throughout the war.
On October 5 the Greek Thessaly Army advances north to Thessaloniki by overcoming the modest Ottoman covering forces (nearly 1 500 soldiers) near Elassona. The forces head to the pass of Sarantporo, where two Ottoman divisions put up resistance, but are easily defeated by the Greek five divisions. Thus the Thessaly Army reaches the valley of Bistrica and advances to Vardar, where a key battle takes place near Enidzhe Vardar. The Greeks have overwhelming numerical superiority - 80 000 soldiers and 120 guns against 25 000 Turkish soldiers with 30 guns. The Ottoman Army has been defeated once again, moreover this time more losses have incurred – nearly 3 000 people. Yet, the soldiers manage to retreat in a relatively organized way and in this way to escape from the Greek army beyond. Ultimately, the Ottomans decide that Thessaloniki is not well fortified and is not suitable for defense, therefore they abandon it. The Greek army sweeps in Thessaloniki freely, by outstripping just with several hours the Bulgarian 7th Rila Infantry Division.
Epirus Army reaches Ioannina unimpeded by any enemy troops and attacks with 41 000 soldiers, 105 weapons and 48 machine guns. The first two assaults have been repelled by the garrison, but eventually the Greek troops manage to capture the fortress. The defending garrison numbered more than 30 000 people, but the artillery experienced severe shortage of shells and thus it was unable to respond to troops’ fire and the infantry attacks.
Bulgarian army’s Offensive
For the Bulgarian army the war started with the “Operation Lozengrad”. The eastern Ottoman army was spread on the line Lozengrad – Adrianople from the very beginning of the military actions. On October 5, just a few hours after the war was declared the Bulgarian army started its march. The plan was for First and Third armies to take the road to Istanbul after Second army had been neutralized Adrianople.
The first fort that had to be taken on the way of the armies going south and southeast was Lozengrad. The plan that the Bulgarian commanders had for its capture was very complicated but effective.
Second army had advance towards Adrianople fortress and block the huge Adrianople garrison. First Army had to immediately go south and assist the Second army at Adrianople and also to be able to support the activities of the Third Army in the flank. Third Army needed to occur directly south into the indentation of First and Second armies and when they managed to occupy the home position they were supposed to unexpectedly attack Lozengrad.
The basis of the plan was for First and Second armies to confuse the Ottoman’s forces and to cover for the upcoming Third army. And it was successful because on 9 of October the Ottoman commanding decided to attack hard the left flange of the Bulgarian Army. The commanders Abdulah Pasha and Mahmud Muhtar decided on a very aggressive strategy and started moving their forces on the Lozengrad – Adrianople line.
Thus the two enemy armies were headed towards each other.
The decision for attack for the Ottoman army came from Istanbul. However They didn’t have accurate data so they thought that they are going to fight at most 70 000 soldiers.
The Bulgarians on the other hand expected the Ottoman’s attack. So when on the 9th they attacked First and Second Bulgarian armies were instructed to stand on their positions while Third Army had to take over Lozengrad. And thus it did. The Third army started its march in content of horse division, IV and V Infantry Divisions leaving VI division in reserve.
Because of the bad intelligence of both armies on 9 of October series of fights took place – at Gechkenli, Seliolu, Eskipolos, Petra, Erikler and Raklitza. This was the first time since the 14th century when Bulgarian and Ottoman armies stood one against another as equals.
The Bulgarian forces from first brigade of first Sofia division, Fourth Preslav Division and Fifth Danube Division stood against four Ottoman divisions and one cavalry.
Despite the Ottoman’s devastating fire one group of Bulgarian soldiers succeeded to attack the enemy on bayonets at Gechkeli. There they managed to banish the enemy and even to take in hostige two troops.
Same was the situation at Seliolu where 2/4 brigade from IVth Preslav division defeated the Ottoman troops and drove them away from the near villages and hills. At night the Bulgarians undertook brave bayonet attack which made all Ottoman soldiers in the area to retreat. II Ottoman division was crushed which led to moral and spirit recession in I division. As for the Bulgarians, they showed bravery and courage in fight.
At Eskipolos (Petra) it was time for the artillery to show its high quality and vigorous spirit.
In the beginning they had to fight the Ottoman high-speeded batteries with low-speeded ones. Later the Bulgarian high-speeded baterries arrived too and the battle became more equal. Because of the darkness although the fire was suspended. On the next day – October 10, the Bulgarian troops started offensive against Ottomans, under the hood of the morning mists. One of the infantires that showed extreme bravery was 19th Shumen Infantry Regiment. The night before, they had advanced towards the village Eskipolos, passed it and took position near the height occupied by the Ottomans. Then depending on the surprise, they attacked the enemy on bayonets taking his positions.
The morning fights at Petra on October 10 however, weren’t enough so to bring final victory for Bulgaria. Its triumph march was halted by the powerful Ottoman artillery when the mists lifted. The fights continued in the afternoon when the Bulgarian artillery managed to overpower 3 Ottoman batteries in short time. When the Bulgarians approached at 800 feet from the position of the Ottomans there began a fierce skirmish between infantry units. Because of the rain the Bulgarian parts failed to advance more and ended up 500 steps from the enemy. At this point the artillery managed to inflict heavy losses on the Ottoman’ support element, and occasionally stroke their main fortified position.
At this time the enemy tried to enter new troops into the battle, but the commander of one of the battalions of the 43rd Infantry Regiment, which was in reserve, self-commanded deployment which resulted in Bulgarian machine-gun company causing such losses of the new troops that they were forced to stop their offensives. In the late afternoon on October 10, the Bulgarian troops prevailed after the enemy once more. After one of their famous and fierce bayonet attacks the Ottomans took on chased after the Bulgarians till they were hidden far behind the rocks of Tekederen. This victory was very important because it showed the world and to the Bulgarians themselves how powerful the Bulgarian army was.
Indicative of the courage of the Bulgarian soldiers are also the fights for the village Erikler where despite initial numerical superiority of the Ottomans Bulgarian troops successfully took the offensive. The result was that the enemy began a chaotic retreat..
Bulgarian soldiers sincerely believed in the rightness of the case and were fully aware that this was a war for liberation and national unification and that the future of generations of Bulgarians depended on them. It was that moral impetus that drove our ancestors to develop their unique fighting spirit and progress even in the face of many times superior opponents. "On our enemy for Five centuries we bring God's judgment" - will summarize Pencho Slaveykov in his poem "Ahead to deads and glory" .
After all those defeats the Ottoman commandment decided to stay strong and defend Lozengrad. Another decision has been made – for the Bulgarian forces – to attack the forth on October 11. In the early morning the Bulgarian offensive started covered by the morning mists.
They were moving forward for three hours before the Ottomans saw them. Our troops were surprised and so they were approaching with extreme caution fearing of an ambush or some other stratagem on the part of the enemy. After the mists lifted up at noon the Bulgarians were up against an empty forth. The last Ottoman parts could be seen disorderly retreating. Despite orders from the high command about Lozengrad the Ottoman officers decided they couldn’t resist the Bulgarians. The commander of the IIIrd Army Gen. Radko Dimitriev entered the city and was greeted with joy by local Bulgarians. Soon after that through the city passed the three infantry divisions, shouting "Hurrah!". Local Bulgarians finally lived their freedom.
The same day parts of the VIth Bdin division were send as a vanguard to Skopo and Kavakli and the rest of the third army stayed in Lozengrad and its surroundings. Unfortunately for various reasons the advance of the Third Army was suspended. It had to take positions in and around Lozengrad and to wait there for further orders of the Central Command, rather than going in pursuit of the defeated Ottoman forces. Due to the suspension of the Bulgarian offensive the Ottoman forces managed to reorganize themselves for a few days and put an end to panic reigns among their ranks after the Bulgarian impressive bayonet attacks. To prevent another heavy defeat, the Ottoman command decided to reinforce the line Lyuleburgaz - Bunarhisar where to repel the IIIrd Bulgarian Army.
On October 15, the Bulgarian army began the Lyuleburgaz-Bunarhisar offensive operation. 1st and 2nd armies under the overall command of General Radko Dimitriev attacked the defense lines of the first and second eastern army of the Ottoman Empire. Intense fighting broke out and continued for 6 days.
The positions of the enemy troops were comfortable for defending as they hold all the heights. Furthermore, on the line there were 126 000 infantrymen, 342 guns, 96 machine guns and 3,500 horsemen. In First and Third Bulgarian armies there were 107,000 infantry, 360 guns, 116 machine guns and 2066 cavalry in total.
With a powerful strike towards Bunarhisar, 5th Danube division was sweeping enemy forces and pushing them down all the way to the main Ottoman position at Puralia. 4th and 6th Infantry Divisions reached the river Karaagach, Lyuleburgaz. With a mighty powerful artillery and rifle fire the enemy stopped the advancing Bulgarians, but First Army and cavalry divisions managed also to reach Lyuleburgaz. In the next two days, the Third Army pulled its left wing beats of a 2-eastern army, and with the 4th Infantry Division makes breakthrough of defense 1 and Eastern Army Karaagach. Offensive assembly parts increases. First Army went into decisive advance on the right flank at Lyuleburgaz. Cavalry Division out south of the lads back and threatens the Turks 6th Division expands attack on Satakyoy. Bulgarian pressure is such that the enemy retreat starts turning into a stampede lasted several days.
In the next two days the left flank of the 3rd Army was deflecting Second Eastern army, while 4th made Breakthrough of the defense of the First Eastern Army at Karaagach.
While First Army went into decisive advance on the right flank at Lyuleburgaz the cavalry division went out south of Ergene threatening the Ottomans and the 6th Division was expanding its attack on Satakyoy..
The Ottoman army suffered complete failure. The losses of some of the divisions were disastrous.From more than 10 000 people remained only about 1500-3000. Total losses of First and Third Army in this operation were only 1,800 killed and injured. The Ottoman Empire began drilling for a truce.
In the Lyuleburgaz-Bunarhisar operation, the Bulgarian army made some innovations in warfare that had never been seen before in history. There were created united armies, which became the prototype of higher operational unity. It was established a divisional artillery group as a new element of the battle line.
This particular operation is considered the bloodiest battle in the whole Balkan war.
The Bulgarian loses amounted to 21 162 killed and injured. As for the Ottomans – the number of their killed and injured man was approximately 30 000.
However, it is fair to say that the Ottomans were defeated. They receded south where they fortified their positions at Chataldzha near Istanbul.
The actions that we’ve just described are thought as the first stage of the war, which as we said Bulgaria successfully won.
At the beginning of the war Black Sea was dominated by the Ottoman Navy which bombed several locations along the Bulgarian coast. The Bulgarian diplomacy however quickly took the problem to the Great Powers, and such actions stopped very soon, because they were in violation of international laws. The main goal of the Ottoman Navy was to provide sea route from Constantza to Istanbul and to keep the Bulgarian docks blocked. Control was very serious, even on October 15, the captain of the cruiser "Hamidie" Hussein Rauf Bey gave ultimatum to Varna and Balchik to surrender by threatening them with destruction.
On November 7, the commander of the Varna Navy captain II rank Dimitar Dobrev received notice that Ottoman ships were coming from Constanta bound for Istanbul. Captain Dobrev ranked the torpedoes to go out and capture or sink the enemy ships
Four Bulgarian destroyers went in open sea in full camouflage - "Flying", "Bold", "Brave" and "Tough." By midnight, they noticed the cruiser "Hamidie" which was convoy for several transport ships with military supplies for cargo. The destroyers were small vessels, and "Hamidie" was huge ship. A new battle commenced! Four Davids in a face-off against one Goliath! Although “Hamidie” was only a light cruiser, it was 39 times heavier than the Bulgarian ships and had 12 times larger crew and 12 times higher level of broadside firing. Their equal characteristics were only speed and torpedo armament. The Bulgarian ships attacked, positioned one behind the other and firing consistently. First attacked "Flying" by firing a torpedo from a mile, followed by the approaching at 300 m "Brave". "Tough" attacked at about 100-150 m. All of them missed the aim, not least because of the high skills of Captain Hussein Rauf Bey, one of the most experienced commanders of the Ottoman fleet. The last one to shoot from 60 m was “Bold” which managed to hit "Hamidie."
The torpedo broke the bow of the cruiser and a 4-5 foot hole opened, so the holds were flooded.
The blast killed 8 Ottoman sailors and another 30 were injured. Half sunk, "Hamidie" was derived, stern forward, from the Turkish destroyer escorting him. In the battle, "Hamidie" fired hundreds of rounds without hitting the targets, although they were located by flares. The Bulgarian destroyers achieved 25% success rate. At that time success in every other navy in the world was no more than 5%, and in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, hundreds of torpedoes were fired without even a hit.
"Hamidie" was dragged out and repaired, and then throughout the whole 1913 it appalled the Greeks with its actions against them in the Mediterranean.
As a result of this battle the supply line Constanta-Istanbul was interrupted for the war. The Ottoman fleet ceased firing the Bulgarian positions at Chataldza. Bulgarian ports were free.
The Bulgarian army’s main forces were directed against the main Ottoman forces and centers – against the Eastern army, at Adrianople and Constantinople. Smaller parts of the Bulgarian army acedt in other directions. Their activities and importance were often underestimated, but their victories were just as memorable and meaningful as the victories of the three Bulgarian armies in Eastern Thrace and should not be ignored.
One of those places with an important, albeit neglected status were the Rhodope Mountain. Judging rightfully the mountainous terrain, which made it more difficult to move large forces, the Bulgarian command didn’t sent in the Rhodopes whole divisions but formed special teams to act in the most important areas in the mountains.
The General Headquarters was guided by the maxim that the best defense is a good offense, and therefore the decision was taken for the Rhodopes not just to be protected but to organize an attack that could cut both Ottoman troops in Macedonia and Eastern Thrace.
5 squads were formed. Rhodope squad, which consisted of two brigades had to conquer Tamrashkiya wedge and then came towards Nevrokop - Drama. Haskovo Detachment, which consisted of a brigade, had to master the Kardzhali region and to guard the rear of the troops who besieged Adrianople. This unit had the task of non-opponent's offensive in the direction of Komotini - Haskovo and later captain of this team decided to master and Komotini.
One Cavalry Brigade acted as a fourth team. Its task was to capture Alexandroupoli and turn it into a port for supplies for I and III armies until they release the train line of Adrianople. Fifth team was the Ayrobol squad formed when I and III Bulgarian armies reached Chataldzha. Its job was to protect the rear of these armies and prevent attack from the Gallipoli Peninsula. Consisting of one cavalry regiment, part of Haskovo Detachment and one battalion of Macedonia – Adrianopole corp.
Troops operating in the Rhodope direction had significant numbers (58 000 soldiers) and received a large part of the mountain artillery of the Bulgarian Army, which was later determined by many experts as a mistake, as the Ottomans had only a couple of batteries in this region and the Bulgarian mountain artillery could be used much more effectively in the attack of Chataldzha position.
Immediately after the declaration of war, Rhodope detachment occurred in several columns against the Ottomans and the battle turned into a small but fierce border battles.
During this time, Bulgarian soldiers Fast forward to Razlog valley of the Mesta River. On October 11, the Bulgarian army entered the liberated Razlog There, Bulgarian population continued too long Ottoman rule.
After the establishment of the Bulgarian government in the area, parts of the Rhodope unit that liberated Razlog and Bansko headed to Nevrokop who also was captured without a fight.
Ninth Infantry Regiment, which was part of the Rhodope squad ahead of Batak to Nevrokop by repeatedly defeated the Ottoman different parts arrived in Nevrokop both 3/2 of the brigade that was released Razlog valley.
Another part of the Rhodope unit (21 Infantry Regiment) Release Pashmakli (now District) and advanced to the station Beech to disconnect the Ottomans between Thracian and Macedonian operating theater.
After the liberation of Nevrokop, the majority of the Rhodope unit was located in and around the city. On Oct 20, Bulgarian troops began an offensive to Drama, and on 23 the same month they attacked the city. Their bravery and courage influenced the enemy so much that the Ottoman soldiers left their positions almost without any resistance.
Bulgarian troops, however, did not remain in Drama, as they received from the Greek peasants a false information about a large Ottoman army nearby.
From October 25 onwards began the advance of the main part of the Rhodope unit to Ceres. At the same time another part of the Rhodope detachment that was sent to assist VII Rila Division was advancing towards Ceres on the west and entered into the city.
On November 2, Rhodope unit received orders to come to Xanthi, Komotini and Alexandroupoli. Without encountering any serious resistance, the squad captured Xanthi on November 7, and arrived in Komotini on the 10. The city had already been conquered by the forces of Kardzhali squad and both squads together began an offensive to Alexandroupoli.
After the armistice of 20 November, Rhodope unit was moved on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and was incorporated into the newly formed Army IV.
Kurdjali squad had trouble with its command until 1 November, when gene. Nikola Genev, commander of the third brigade of Macedonia - Adrianopolitan volunteers became their leader.
Gene. Genev had the idea for the squad to advance to the south and attack the body of Yaver Pasha then pacify the Kardzhali region, where there were patrouling teams from the regular Ottoman army and bashi-bazouk formations known for their cruelty and fanaticism.
On November 4, Kurdjali squad occurred in the south and started several-days pursuit of the retreating enemy parts. The command of II Army was introduced to false information about bashibouzuk in the back of the squad, so an order was given to gene. Genev, so that his squad had to go back and secure II Army’s back. The general, however, examined the situation and then, realizing that there was no threat to the rear of the II Army, he ignored the order and made the main forces to Alexandroupoli.. As for the Bashibouzuks, he sent VII Frontier Battalion against them.
Thus a brilliant solution of the brave commander prevented the army from unnecessarily delaying the advance of the Kardzhali squad.
In Balkan Torres on November 7 , very important battle between the forces of Kardzhali squad and Yaver Pasha troops took place. The Bulgarians, misled the Ottomans causing them to believe that they were attacking them frontally, when in fact two Bulgarian columns made roundabout maneuvers in both flanks of the enemy at a relatively long distance to go unnoticed.
Realizing what a difficult situation would fall soon, enemy forces retreated to Komotini.
On November 8, the Bulgarian troops entered the town with the consent of the local population, including and Turkish leaders who reported the stampede of Turkish troops.
After the capture of Komotini and securing the rear of the II Army, Kardzhali squad headed to Alexandroupoli and discovered that the city was already in Bulgarian hands.
The city was actually captured by self-horse brigade still on 5 November. Because of incorrect information for many- numbered enemy near, Alexandroupoli was abandoned by the horse brigade. The city, however, remained in the hands of about 100 Bulgarian volunteers who decided to keep it at the cost of their lives. Only on November 13th Cavalry Brigade, reinforced by other parts returned to Alexandroupoli, which for a full eight days was kept by the brave Bulgarian volunteers.
Such frightful examples of bravery, selflessness and iron will could be found on all fronts, where Bulgarian soldiers fought.
In the evening of November 14, the troops of Yaver Pasha were surrounded from all sides and in consequence surrendered. Thus Kurdjali team managed to fully achieve the task given them by the general.
Captives were 11,000 people and serious issue of weapons, ammunition and equipment.
Ayrobol squad formed to ensure security in the rear of I and III armies, making their moves towards Chataldzha, acted extremely successful in carrying out its tasks.
Apart from the purely defensive assignments, it was ordered to collect and remit to Chataldza supplies for both armies, who were already facing serious shortages of food and other necessities. The squad was established on October 26, and within a few days eradicated the bashi-bazouk troops who were threatening the rear of the army.
On November 4, fighters headed to Malgrad and within 24 hours, the city was taken over by them, after a battle with Ottoman troops and bashi-bazouk parts. Then, the detachment organized intelligence that had to check Kurudag and the Sea of Marmara, because of the many rumors about enemy forces landing in the area.
On November 11, Ottoman troops tried to push the squad Ayorobol from their positions, but after a fierce firefight the enemy withdrew , because of the superior quality of the Bulgarian shooters. After that, the squad banished several enemy parts and to the Gallipoli Peninsula. After the armistice of November 20, the Ayrobol squad joined the new IV Bulgarian Army.
The other "secondary" direction the Bulgarian army was going to fight for and that was Macedonia.
This is extremely strange , because it was the repressed Macedonian people who were the main reason for Bulgaria to begin with the creation of the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire.
Macedonia was in the hearts of the entire Principality of nearly four decades after the liberation of mother Bulgaria. Suffering and horror experience daily by Macedonian Bulgarians fought every Bulgarian heart to rebel against uncivilized and cruel Ottomans. The desire to help his brothers Bulgarians in Macedonia, and indeed those in the Aegean and Eastern Thrace, and in other areas inhabited by Bulgarians, but remained under Ottoman rule, was the main motivation of the Bulgarian leadership to plan and start a war five centuries against oppressors.
This desire for justice and national unity led hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians, including thousands of Macedonia itself voluntarily to infuse into the ranks of the army to fight against the oppressors and render justice. And despite all this, Bulgarian political and military leadership not only failed to ensure the passage of over Macedonia in Bulgarian hands after a possible successful conclusion of the war, but also critically examined Bulgarians from the region of great trial.
The main Bulgarian forces "drew chestnuts out of the fire" of the Istanbul direction of the war and only one Bulgarian division fought for the liberation of the Bulgarians, alongside Serbs and Greeks, who until recently were harassing the same Bulgarian population with armed detachments and units. This large geopolitical paradox and perhaps strategic error later have historic consequences for the Bulgarian people.
On behalf of Bulgaria, Macedonia direction was determined to act VII Rila Division, which was included in the composition of II Serbian army. With that II Serbian army turned into an allied army. Commander of the Serb army was General Stepanovich. The number of our division was 36,000 people.
As early as October 5th, VII Rila Infantry Division was ordered to cross the border and to take control over the Upper Djumaya and Tsarevo Selo. At the same time the Serbian Timok division, which also was part of the II allied army remained around Kyustendil, in absolutely safety and advanced to Kriva Palanka and Kratovo until after the Bulgarians had already cleared the frontier guard of the Ottomans, on October 8.
Within the first day of the war - October 5, Bulgarian soldiers managed to conquer Tsarevo village and Upper Djumaya although Ottoman troops in the city were serious opposition. The left column of the VII Rila Division continued their advance to gorge whose northern end was guarded by significant Ottoman forces.
On Oct 11, Bulgarian parts released Kocani and thus secured wing of Serbian Timok division.
After the liberation of Kochani, the commander of II Allies army ordered the Bulgarian military to leave the city, leaving there only militia and rebelgroups, and with all the other parts of the army to head to Ceres and the valley of the Struma River. The next day, however, this order was canceled and the Bulgarians were ordered to remain in their current positions.
These orders made two things evident .
First, it is clear that even at this early stage of the war the Serbs wanted to put a hand on as a major part of Macedonia without punctually observe contracts and conventions. This led them on one hand to fear from the presence of Bulgarian troops in the field and the other in not wanting to move more Bulgarians, because this would actually mean they were going to be accepted as liberators to big part of the population. In all settlements in Macedonia, Bulgarian troops were taken very welcome as liberators and all brothers, while Serbian forces were regarded with some suspicion.
The second thing that comes clear from these orders is the realization of the Serbs that on the Western theater of war, the Ottoman Empire was weaker and that the Balkan Union had its advantages there. This allowed the Serb command to start actively thinking about how to achieve their selfish goals, which were to the detriment of the local Bulgarian population and actually contradicts the agreement between the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Serbia before the war.
But back to the actions of the glorious warriors of Rila Division VII.
Unaware of Serbian intentions fighters from one brigade continued their hard battle with the Ottomans through the gorge. Although the enemy destroyed the only bridge over the Struma 4 days Bulgarian Engineers built temporary facilities in which to move troops.
The other two brigades of the division at that time occurred in the south, one in the direction Radovish - Strumica - Doyran and the other in Pehchevo - Berovo of Petrich and then in Belasitza Pear Mountain of Thessaloniki.
On October 21, the middle column reached Petrich, and on October 22 they overcome the last obstacles to the Bulgarian troops and their way to advance to Salonika was discovered.
October 25 Bulgarian soldiers reached the line Negovan - Baal Oglular and realized that at the same time without meeting any resistance, the Greek army also advancing towards Thessaloniki and try to beat the Bulgarians to occupy the city and keep it in Greek hands. On October 26, Bulgarian and Greek forces at accelerated pace towards the town. These hikes else in history called "race to Thessaloniki."
The commandant of the important port, Tahsin Pasha realized that is surrounded from all sides and decided to surrender to the Greeks, as at this time they enjoyed around Thessaloniki with only one horse brigade. Moreover, the secret intention of the Ottomans was to bring discord in the alliance to oppose Bulgaria to Greece on the issue of ownership over the vital center of Aegean Macedonia.
On October 27, parts VII Rila Division entered Thessaloniki, on the same day the city began to enter the infantry who acted aggressively towards Bulgarian allies.
Even today there are many disputes about whether Bulgarian or Greek troops first entered the city. Undisputed is the fact that while Bulgarian troops advancing constantly fighting against the Turks and paying for every yard free land for their blood, the Greeks peaceful movement and met no resistance from the enemy.
It is also true that the vast majority of the population of Thessaloniki welcomed Bulgarian, not Greek troops as a liberating and testing frantic joy, that after so many decades will finally join his countrymen free from the Kingdom of Bulgaria. On 29 October arrived in Thessaloniki and the Bulgarian throne, which was officially welcomed by the city's population that still bubbled a hope that the Greek army would withdraw and Thessaloniki will remain in Bulgarian hands.
To be able to safely carry out their assimilation policy towards the Bulgarian population in Thessaloniki Greeks insisted Rila Division VII to leave town and head to another part of the front. After the armistice of November 20, the Greek request was fulfilled and the division moved to the Eastern Front, where included in the composition of the newly formed IV Army action against the Gallipoli Peninsula. Bulgarians in Macedonia and the other without this protection.
The Battles at Chataldzha
After the many bloody fights at Lyuleburgaz - Bunarhisar the victorious Bulgarian army turned its offensive southeast of the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Combined the forces of First and Third Bulgarian armies were ready to fulfill the long-held dream of generations of Bulgarians and to banish the Ottomans from the Balkan Peninsula. Terrified the Ottoman Empire was forced to her knees and her government sought an armistice. The leaders of the Kingdom of Bulgaria intoxicated by victories and achievements fell under the pressure of public opinion, and some personal ambitions and aspirations and rejected the Ottoman’s request.
Due to their own reasons the Bulgarian command slowed the offensive with 3 days – the Bulgarian troops were headed to Istanbul on October 24 instead of October 21. This gave enough time to the Ottomans to organize their defense distraught and strengthen the position of Chataldzha.
The Bulgarian army began its offensive well rested and in full order.
V Danube Division, III Balkan division and two brigades of IX Pleven Division were forging ahead the road of Visa - Saray – Strandzha, forming the left flank.
The right flank was formed by warriors from I Sofia Divisions, X Aegean Division, Cavalry division and Haskovo Detachment marching on the road Lyuleburgaz - Chorlu.
In the middle there were IV Preslav and VI Bdin divisions taking towards Coulibaly - Tcheurek - Station Simetliy.
At Saray, two brigades separated from IX Pleven Division andheadedeast towards the village of Acalan.
The first Bulgarian parts reached the fortified Chataldzha on October 29 to 30, while the Turkish troops had arrived three days earlier. The line Trafa - Kalfakyoy - Akal - Briz and the heights west of Papazburga were fortified. Between 24th and 27th October Media and Podimata on the Black Sea were invaded, in order to secure the whole left wing of the army against possible Ottoman invasion. Between 28th and 30th October parts of Haskovo Detachment seized successively Eregli, Rhodes and Selivriya on the Marmara Sea. A Cavalry Brigade did take Ayrobol (Kariopol), again as a protective measure against Ottoman invasions.
After the securing of the flags, the command was preparing a final strike against the Empire. Unfortunately at the same time there was an epidemic outbreak of Cholera amongst the Bulgarian soldiers. Inspite of that it was decided for the army to start actions against the Chataldzha position. I and III armies were united under the lead of gen. Radko Dimitriev. They had to stay on their positions and to prepare themselves for attack.
The Chataldzha fortified position was very serios challenge. Taking place on natural height and only 30 km from Istanbul its main line was 25 km long.
On its south side, the position was with gentle slopes, while the north had many steep sections and bottlenecks. Protection of the position was further strengthened by the narrow but deep rivers that flowed before her, hindering the movement of Bulgarian troops.
Flanks of the Chataldzha position were Black and Marmara Seas, and this emphased on the Ottomans as their fleet was able to attack the Bulgarian flanking parts. And that is what they did till "Hamidie" was out of order. The fortifications at Chataldzha were 29, and there were three forts built on the Western model.
At some places, the Ottomans brought the first line of defense 6-7 km infront of the forts and at others they created a new line of secondary defenses.
The Empire’s forces at the Chataldzha position were about 180 000 and 308 cannon plus fleet and its artillery. In comparison, the Bulgarians were little more than 176,000 men and 466 guns. 11,331 Bulgarian soldiers, NCOs and officers were suffering from the cholera at that time and 621 have died from the disease at the beginning of the attack.
In actual combat it wasnn’t involved the full man power neither from Bulgaria nor from the Ottoman troops. Many soldiers were recruited for the logistics and other auxiliary parts.
Actually our army had 118,000 rifles, 11,000 rifles and 146 machine guns and Ottomans had 107,400 rifles and 2550 sabers. This ratio was in favor of the party in defence, because a successful attack in this situation required military superiority at 3:1.
The Ottoman plan was for them to keep a passive defense using the excellent conditions of the area and position. Their goal was to attack only after the complete exhaustion of the Bulgarian troops, and the personal decision made by the Commander Nazim Pasha.
South of the main position the Ottoman army began to build 2 more lines of defense, which had to be the last barrier to Istanbul.
The Bulgarians occupied positions higher than the Chataldzha one but too far away for effective artillery fire. However, the Bulgarian plan of attack relied on the removal of the artillery up front and the creation of a stable support behind. Lacking the knowledge that the Ottomans had strong artillery too, the Bulgarian command put most of its hope on it.
On the first front line were I, III, VI and IX infantry divisions. They stood against the not easy task to attack 25 km wide front. The remaining 3 divisions were on the second line. The parts from the Bulgarian army that didn’t participate in the battles at Chataldzha were only II, VII and VIII divisions. Some of the divisions were very tired, and there were serious problems with the supplies.
This caused the Bulgarian generals to postpone the attack. Gen. Dimitriev even stated that an attack was unlikely to be successful. Gen. Savov, who was then an assistant - commander of the entire army said:
"What can we do! We will try, and we’ll see what the Lord will give. Thus the King and the Bulgarian people, and we will stay with you in good conscience before the future generations that we have done everything that was in our power. There is no one in Bulgaria, in the given situation, who would take upon himself the terrible responsibility not to attack. ".
The opinion of gen. Savov shows sense of duty and responsibility, and the belief that with God’s help everything is possible.
Along with that it is also evident of the the command’s understanding of the complexity of the operation and the possibility of failure. Despite all the arguments against, emotions prevail and Bulgarian Command decided once and for all to render justice to the Empire for half a millennium rule.
The order to attack was given on November 3, and the time to start the offensive was as early as 5 am on the next day. The two Bulgarian armies - I-st and III-rd had to break the Turkish defense at least at 3 places. This was one of the serious errors of the Bulgarian command, since according to all military rules in this situation it was better to make a concerted attack with one third of the available military force in one place, using deceiving maneuvers and attacks at the others.
The fragmented Bulgarian forces weren’t able to successfully deal with well fortified, well armed and protecting their own capital Ottomans.
The onslaught began between 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning. Some infantry reached the Ottoman lines and started shooting. This was surprise for the defenders of Chataldza and it upset their front office and part of the first line of the defense.
Marching was hampered by the rivers and lakes in front of the position, but in spite of all obstacles III Army managed to take a good starting point for a serious attack the next day. Bulgarian gunners continued moving their guns forward trying to maximize the benefit of the infantry, but due to errors of artillery the command wasn’t seriously enough involved in the fightings on November 4.
Still we should praise our soldiers’ bravery and skills. Despite the cholera and the badly organized supplies, the mistakes of the commandment and the obsticles on the battle field their attacks were unified and although they were repeled they didn’t give up. Many of the heroes that fought at Chataldzha on November 4 stayed there forever. Their sacred blood sank in the ground proving that the Bulgarian soldiers feared nothing, not even death.
On the night of 4 vs. 5 November, 29th Yambol Infantry Regiment led personally by Commander Krustyo Zlatarev approached so silence and invisibly that the Ottomans in the second fort didn’t suspect a thing and it was captured in just a few minutes. The Yambol regiment didn’t receive help from any other part of the Bulgarian army, so they managed to preserve the fort but couldn’t continue their offensive towards the other forts nearby. At the same time Pleven regiment was able to capture the first trenches of the seventh fort, but not the fort itself because of the very well organized defence by the Ottomans.
On the next day, November 5, the Bulgarian offensive was accompanied with rain and fog that made it difficult for both the Ottoman artillery and the orientation of the Bulgarian infantry.
The mists however were in serve of the Ottomans, cause they managed to put up fierce resistance and stopped at many places the advancing Bulgarians. Just before noon on many of the locations the Bulgarians were weaned. This was one of the most critical moments in the entire fight. At 2 o’clock PM some divisions were already heavily bled and III-rd Balkan division had lost about 60% of its numerical composition. In that conditions gen. Dimitriev was forced to suspend the offensive and try to keep the Bulgarian positions and the artillery, which in any retreat would be lost to the Ottomans.
With great reluctance gene. Dimitriev terminate the attack: "Heavy, sick, offensive, was for us to make a decision to end the fight, but the reality was stronger than our feelings and I in half past two in the afternoon, I made the decision."
The Ottomans didn’t pursue the retreating Bulgarian soldiers, because of their orders to lead passive defense, and also because they still feared the Bulgarians. On the evening of November 5 all parts were ordered to withdraw to positions held before the start of the offensive on November 4.
The withdrawal was carried out highly organized overnight and therefore unnoticed by the Ottomans. The Bulgarian army didn’t snap after the first misfortune, but rather withdrawn to await their moment. The soldiers didn’t loose their presence of mind and the retreat was considered as tactical.
In the archives of the Rila Monastery there is one legend from that time, written by the monk Onufry as part of a big collection of stories from Bulgarian officers - eyewitnesses.
One of them says that in one of the attacks of the Bulgarian infantry, morale was low because of the failure and the big number of the killed and injured.
At this difficult moment, many of the fighters saw an old man with austere white face and long beard who was relying on crutches with one hand and with the other held an Orthodox cross pointing to the sky. Many soldiers recognized St. Ivan Rilski, heavenly patron of Bulgaria, who was walking alone against the Ottoman positions. The Bulgarian soldiers immediately followed the saint and attacked again.
In this and other subsequent Bulgarian attacks there many fallen soldiers. And while our ancestors didn’t succeed to conquer the Chataldzha fortified positions, thanks to their courage inspired by the emergence of the Bulgarian saint, they kept their fighting spirit and eventually repulsed all attacks of the Ottoman army.
Very often, the last sustainer of morale and spirit in the Bulgarians army was faith. The Orthodox Christianity gave great powers to the soldiers.
Over the next few days the Ottoman command attacked the Bulgarian positions.
The most dangerous attacks were the nocturnal ones, on November 8th and 9th.
On the first night, at approximately 9 o’clock PM, Bulgarian sentry heard the Ottoman army moving and told that to his commander. The commander immediately ordered everyone to prepare for a night attack. At the same time other companies nearby were warned too.
The Bulgarians were attacked by well-trained and elite Ottoman parts. Interesting fact is that many of these soldiers had on theit hats signs like "Death of Sofia", "Death of the lion" and "Death or victory." The Ottomans used stealth in some of the attacks. As the Ottomans were approaching the Bulgarian army, some ofthem were yelling commands in Bulgarian, like “ Stop” or “ Here is first company”.
Some of the Bulgarian commanders were misguided and terminated the shooting several times which gave the Ottomans time to advance.
At this point private Kiro Vassilev, with unwavering courage went forward in the darkness and cried "They are Turks!!".
The fraud was discovered and Bulgarian troops opened fire against the enemy. VIII-th Company, under the commandment of Lieutenant Petrov went out of the trenches and immediately started their own attack fix bayonets.
In violent clash in the dark, the enemy, though numerous and highly motivated was stopped. Other Bulgarian companies also started fix bayonets attacks and the Turks began to retreat. Soon, the battle cry "Hurrah!" completely muted the war cries of the Ottomans and they started their retreat towards Chataldzha in panic.
The whole Balkan war is full of such episodes. The courage of the Bulgarian soldiers was boundless. The attacks "Fix Bayonets!" became Bulgarian patent and the battle cry "Hurrah!" and the command "Forward, fixbayonet!" startled the Ottomans in their sleep.
On November 9 the headquater of the united armies announced that the soldiers who were in good health and capable to participate in a fight were exactly 85 597 people. That didn’t include the special teams.
With heaviest injuries were III Balkan division and IX Pleven division. Togheter, the both of them had a bit more than 9000 soldiers, who could be used in fight.
In best condition were IV Preslav division and V Danube division. United, they had more than 16 000 soldiers.
On the night of November 9, the Ottomans attacked the Bulgarian positions. The attack began at about 4:00 at night. Bulgarian positions, however, noticed in time the enemy parts and started shooting.
And this time the Ottomans tried to use the same trickery as night and speak Bulgarian, but failed to deceive the company commander Lieutenant Tsanov who commanded the soldiers to continue shooting. Due to the darkness and some misunderstandings in the arrangement of the Bulgarian troops during the day Ottoman soldiers managed to hit the flanks sixth brigade. Seeing the criticality of the situation, the commander of the 3rd Bdin infantry regiment Colonel Georgi Tanev, a hero of the Serbian-Bulgarian War, personally led the two companies ' fix bayonets! "In the darkness began a bloody melee.
The enemy was defeated and fled. Bulgarian brave pobezhdili in this battle, but paid a bloody price.
Forever the battlefield remained Colonel Standings killed by grenade and commander of C Company, retired Lieutenant Dimitar Gitsov. Besides them were killed several dozen Bulgarians and wounded were many times more.
From 10 to 20 November, when the ceasefire was signed between the Kingdom of Bulgaria Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Montenegro on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire on the other hand, the actions of the Union I and III Army CHataldza were mainly related to strengthening the Bulgarian positions and possible rational deployment of troops to repulse the Ottoman attacks. Not reached major conflicts. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that he was negotiating a truce, and on the other that the Ottomans finally realized that they have the strength to break through the Bulgarian lines at Briz and had to put up with the situation in front. Among other things, a secondary directions Bulgarian forces continued to conquer the enemy, tilting the balance more in our favor.
Often failure to CHataldza explains biased and often seen as almost a turning point in the war. However, evidence suggests that even after stopping the Bulgarian offensive initiative remained in our hands and Bulgarian army was still in a much more favorable situation than Ottoman.
Bulgarian failure CHataldza is due to several reasons and factors.
Army was tired from the previous bloody and victorious battles, there were serious problems with the food supply, and the nearest railway station in Bulgarian hands was located at a distance of over 200 km. by Chataldzha position.
Clothing and gear for the Bulgarian army proved insufficient in quantity and often of insufficient quality. There are no uniform plan of attack well fortified Ottoman position.
On the momentum of previous wins, is relied on a great solution in place, but that does not happen, since neither the General Staff nor gene. DIMITRIEV committed to the development of a detailed plan of attack.
Offensive all along the front was done hastily, rather than organized stroke in one or at most two sectors.
There were errors at various levels of command, but with the most serious consequences faults were high command and the head of the Bulgarian Army General assembly. Dimitriev.
There were no specific data on the Ottoman position on Chataldzha and the available military forces of the enemy.
Many divisions and troops were left in reserve and weren’t really used to achieve the cherished goal. Heavy artillery was not brought in time and did not take part in the first battles.
We should not overlook the psychological impact of cholera. On the other hand, the Ottoman morale and will to resist were also very high.
Turkish army was concentrated around the defensive and highly motivated. With their capital, located only 30 km. behind them, they had no place to retreat, and their supplies were made quickly and easily through a huge city.
Ultimately, the failure does not crush the spirit of the Bulgarian soldiers and they firmly and relentlessly defended their positions against Ottomans were perked. Bulgarians, although defeated in a single battle, I understand very well that the war is lost, the prevalence was still in our hands. Ottoman victory actually took place only in well-conducted defense.
Bulair and Sharkioy
In January 1913 in the Ottoman Empire made coup from the Young Turks. The armistice was ended and the new authority ordered renewing of the hostilities. Turkish command tried to make a plan for retaliation by which to unblock the besieged Edirne fortress.
In the morning of January 26, 1913, under the cover of the fog, division "Myuretebi" managed unnoticed to move along the coast of the Saroskiya bay and the road Bulair-Kavak. Reaching The split mound, near the Bulgarian positions, the Turkish division was spotted at the last minute, 100 meters from the Bulgarians. Six Ottoman regiment attacked and captured the first Bulgarian position by addressing the main position of the division with extremely intensed pressure. 13th Infantry Regiment reacted immediately, by backfilling the rushing Turkish attack with concentrated and précised artillery fire. The regiment doesn’t move from its position and by striking to the Turkish fire, it managed to slow the onslaught. The Turkish 27th Infantry Division was approaching and concentrating their forces along the Marmara Sea bay. With great superiority of their forces, the Turks mastered Dogan Arslan’farm and begin detouring on the left flank of the 22th Infantry Regiment Thracian. In 15pm comes the peak of the battle. 22th Thracian Regiment counterattacked "fix bayonets." It started fearsome hand-to-hand fighting, with hands, knifes and even stones, that were grabbed from the bougth sides. The Turks were pushed back and many of them – killed in the chase. At 17 pm the Turks tried another attack, but they were shot by the Bulgarian artillery. In this situation, the command of the 7th Rila Division commanded the 13th Infantry Regiment to start a counter. The regiment immediately counterattacked and managed to dismiss the entire division "Myuretebi" and regain The split mound.
As a result of these actions in the Turkish headquarters comes confusion and indecision. The 7th Rila Division’s artillery shoot on the Dogan Arslan’farm. It began a fierce dogfight in which the 27th Turkish Division was pushed back in a short time and the farm was contained. The whole area was cleaned from the Turkish soldiers and his defense was restored. With this, the Turkish plan, was over.
The Turks we outnumbering the Bulgarians in manpower by nearly 4:1 and 2:1 in artillery, but however they were crushed and suffered heavy losses - about 6,000 killed and over 10,000 wounded. The Bulgarians had only 100 killed and 400 wounded. General Stiliyan Kovachev was wondering who to reward. The orders were not enough. There were no individual heroes - "The courage was unanimous" would say later the commander of the 4th Bulgarian army to the newspaper.
On January 26 (old style) 1913, 32 Turkish ships were carrying the Tenth Corps of the Imperial Army in the rear of the 7th Rila Division. With good organization, the Bulgarians, appeared with 15 000 soldiers behind their back. The Bulgarian army was facing the first marine invasion in the history. The Bulgarian intelligence reports that ships were hailing from several ports, but the place of the landing was unknown. Gen eral Savov was waiting him, bu didn’t know where.
This happened at the time when the Ottomans were almost driven out of the Balkans. Part of their army was blocked in Edirne, and the other was piled on the Chataldzha position (only 40 km from Istanbul) and to Bulair in Gallipoli peninsula. The desperate attempts for counteroffensive were unsuccessful.
The Turks intended to help the bulairskiya housing on the Sharkioy side. On 26 January 1913, 3 km west of Sharkioy, landed the 10th Army Corps led by Enver Bey (one of the organizers of the Young Turk Revolution). In this region the Bulgarians defended the coast of the Marmarian sea with only two battalions of the Macedonian-Adrianople volunteers - young and inexperienced forces. They didn’t had an artillery and were forced to simply take positions on the heights around the town and wait for the moment of the rifles, and then of the bayonets.
By the evening the Turks dumped 2 infantry regiments, one to Sharkioy and the other to Servantepe. Their ship artillery shelled the city, which is left without any protection from the Bulgarian side. When the Turkish divisions penetrated into the city, they found only 20-something injured Bulgarians, barricaded in one of the city cafes. The Turks sent a Greek to arrange them to surrender, but they refused and opened a fire. In response, the Turks riddled the walls with bullets. Right when they ran out of ammo, the Turks thrown themselfs into an attack, from the inside got out 7-8 survived and attacked with rifle butts. Everyone died.
Fights started on the heights around the town. Macedonian volunteers, although inexperienced, were resisting the enemy while withdrawing to Arapla. At night to help them arrived the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division and the 26th Infantry Regiment. The 2nd Brigade of the Macedonian-Adrianople volunteers was redirected back to Sharkioy, and the third left some of her forces to guard the coast.
Early in the morning on January 27 the Bulgarian troops began an operation to eradicate the invasion with concentric shock to Sharkioy. The Brigades occured impetuous and the artillery concentrated a fire on the landing bridge, which created a threat of isolating the opposing parts of their ships.
The Command of the 10 Army Corps understood that the advance of the Bulair position was failed and began to load the troops back to the ships, who withdrawed at the sea. The Landing was reflected and the Turk’s plan to came out from the rear of the 4th Army failed. Their losses were 1,000 killed and wounded and 450 captured. Upon leaving the city was committed a serious war crime. In the presence of Enver Bey and three German instructors, the Turkish soldiers killed about a hundred civilians in the city. Their defeat was so severe that the Ottomans didn’t do anything more against 4th Bulgarian army, until the end of the war.
To assess adequately heroism of the Bulgarian army in the capture of Adrianople need to understand how well fortified city.This was the second best fortified city of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, after the capital Constantinople.
Forts line was a 2 to 4 km. from the city. In 1909 the Ottoman Empire began reconstruction of the Edirne fortress to replace defensive line further away from the city and make it impervious to artillery fire of modern gun systems. By the beginning of the Balkan war had already built new fortifications in the northwest, west and south sectors.
Artificial barriers to the main line of defense of Edirne consists of wire mesh with a width of between 6 and 10 meters. Network was continuous except for roads, which would have housed a mobile network in case of enemy attack. This wire mesh was very serious obstacle especially considering that was backed by troops with rifles and machine guns, hampering further its passage.
Besides everything listed here, Edirne has well fortified artillery was able to hold off any enemy siege artillery.
Total Edirne had 516 guns of various calibers and systems and Edirne garrison was composed of several artillery regiments, two infantry divisions nizamski, redifski several divisions and additional parts. The total number of Ottoman troops in the city was about 60,000 people. Commandant of the fort was experienced, capable, energetic and highly respected officer Shukri Pasha.
All these features led the German General von Goltz to say: "This fortress can be captured only after a six-month siege and only by Prussians".
It became clear how hollow and vain these words were on March 13, 1913 when the Bulgarian army entered triumphantly in Edirne after a two-day assault.
The Bulgarian Command plans for the war were for II army to isolate Adrianople garrison and not allow him to act in the rear or side of the I and III Army.
Second Bulgarian army was composed of two divisions: VIII and IX Infantry Tundzha infantry Pleven, to which should be joined by Guards cavalry regiment. Its total number at the beginning of the war had 70,500 fighters. After initial successes achieved by the Bulgarian troops to the Eastern theater of war, II Army received a new assignment. He should not just isolated Adrianople garrison, and to surround the fort, so that it is forced to surrender by starvation.
Forces, however, were not sufficient for the effective implementation of this task, and although he made great efforts in this direction, they did not bring the expected results.
However, we should not overlook the fact that in order to narrow the circle around Edirne, VIII Tundzha Division fought successful battles from 7 to 12 November for the management of the line from the village to Doudzharos Aharkyoy. New Bulgarian positions were extremely comfortable monitoring Edirne fortress and the implementation of a full blockade.
This complete blockade, however, would be possible only if there is a stronger and more numerous artillery, and infantry more parts. After the victory of Bulgarian army at Lozengrad, communication links between Istanbul and Edirne were finally broken.
On October 15, two brigades of the VIII Division crossed the river Arda in order to take part in the encirclement of Edirne, taking the south side.
at this point Shukri Pasha tried to strike counterstrike against Bulgarian troops remained in the north, which, however, was unsuccessful, thanks to the heroism of the Bulgarian soldiers, not even one step back, knowing how important were their positions, the outcome of the entire war.
After repelling the attack, the Bulgarian positions seemed to have stabilized and the army command pulled out IX Pleven Division of the composition of the II Army so that it could take part in the decisive battles in Lyuleburgaz and Bunarhisar.
In its place was sent XI Infantry pooled division, which was formed on 13 October and was completed with new recruits.
As of October 20, Edirne fortress was completely surrounded by our II army. The encirclement line, however, was too far from the castle and at the same time too long. In order to strengthen the position of the II Army, the Bulgarian Command asked the Serbs for reinforcements and they started moving the Danube and Tikmok divisions from Macedonia.
After their arrival, VIII Tundzha Division moved to the southern sector of the fortress, and those of XI Infantry Division - to the east.
On November 2, the fortress was finally surrounded and attempt were made for narrowing the siege. Thanks to the brilliant attacks that occurred on November 7 and 8, the Bulgarian army captured position Kartaltepe, the southern sector and banished the Ottoman soldiers from their trenches.
The artillery bombardment of the Edirne fortress began on 8 November.
Bombing significantly lowered the morale of the population in Edirne, and the garrison. Shukri Pasha, however, was adamant and did not surrender despite the entreaties of several European diplomats who were in Edirne.
Fire was deliberately light and continued until the signing of the armistice. Therefore, the Turks began to believe in them comprises all the power of our artillery. Naivety, they realized a little later during the fighting.
During the armistice demarcation line was established, which both sides could not pass, and the fortress remained isolated and delivery of food and ammunition was interrupted.
Moreover, paradoxically, under the terms of the armistice in Edirne were missed trains with food and other materials for Bulgarian Army CHataldza this condition greatly decreased the morale of the defenders.
During the ceasefire, the Bulgarians worked feverishly to strengthen and improve their positions around the fortress, while the Ottoman troops idle.
Were created perfect conditions for the effective operation of our siege artillery, which is already a fully safe position can shoot against the Ottomans.
During the peace negotiations in London, it became clear that the capture of the fortress would be paramount in the event of a failure of diplomacy.
Bulgarian Command developed a plan for the conquest of Edirne as was decided that the breach took place on the eastern sector. Reasons behind our military starezi to this choice were many. Two of the most important was the location of the fort Ajvaz Baba, who was slightly protruded in this sense very convenient to attack, and the fact that this sector was close to the city after its capture and deployment of Bulgarian artillery there, the city would be forced to surrender.
After the failure of the peace talks and the end of the truce between the two sides resumed Bulgarian artillery bombardment against Edirne.
These bombings led the enemy to full exostion.
To change the balance of power and to gather intelligence Shukri Pasha took the sortie (exit from the castle) on January 27. The attack was directed against the Eastern sector and sought as destruction of artillery there as intelligence about the Bulgarian army force in the area.
Ottoman parts attacked at night and although initially housed confusion into the first ranks very soon our parts counter enemy fix bayonets and pushed her out of the trenches before the sun is shown.
After the expulsion of the enemy from the trenches began to dawn and Bulgarian artillery inflicted huge losses on the retreating Ottoman parts. The next day, the Ottomans received the same task to attack the Bulgarian positions, but for fear of soldiers left their trenches. In early February, they sought an outlet for the southern sector, but there were quickly detected and repelled by Bulgarian fighters.
At that time, the plan to attack the Edirne fortress had already been developed and are awaiting their execution.
It was decided to attack all parts of the fortress in order to deceive the Turks and to disperse its reserves, then shot to focus on the eastern sector where the attack had to be done by the infantry, supported by artillery siege.
It should be borne in mind that after the operation completes encirclement of Edirne, constant drill organizational units in our army were replaced with new units with new names including: divisions, departments, sections, columns, equestrian team, etc.
Moreover, almost all of siege artillery was moved to the Eastern sector.
It was divided into two sections: north and south. The northern section is comprised of three divisions and the south - from the left and right column and the equestrian team.
The plan for the attack itself was so carefully developed and detailed that even today is taught in many military academies around the world and can rightly be called a master plan.
Nothing was left to chance. Bulgarian commanders were aware of what their mission is and what are the ways to achieve it and clung to each officer, non-commissioned officer and soldier has its clear and precise location in the attack, which was to bring the imperishable glory of the Bulgarian army and win in the already protracted war of national unification.
Storming been decided to focus on the fort Ajvaz Baba and his bouts Aydzhiolu the fort, and then the fort Kestenlik.
To prevent the redeployment of reserves in the eastern sector, Bulgarian commanders implemented a completely new methods, namely the barrage.
Artillery fired behind the attacked forts to prevent displacement of the troops of the garrison.
Bulgarian troops were arranged in depth as commanders predicted that the Ottoman resistance will break more easily with multiple consecutive strong impact, not only single - focus attack. Was decided to prepare an attack by night, and our fore to take a position in the underlying approaches to the fort, where early morning attack. The troops were equipped with scissors with which to cut the barbed wire and piroksilinovi charges to open clearings in the network. Moreover, he was made a detailed action plan for each artillery battery received specific tasks. The main impact would be concentrated on the main forts line.
According gene. Georgi Vazov, head of the Eastern sector, Bulgarian army was ready to attack Adrianople at the end of February, but the headquarters of the army ordered the attack until the night of March 10, 1913
The commander of the II Army General. Nikola Ivanov, in turn commanded the artillery preparation for the attack to begin on March 11 at 13.00 PM on the night of 11 on March 12 Bulgarian infantry occur under the cover of artillery against the Ottoman front positions at dawn to take over.
The Southern sector, our artillery acted vigorously and infantry approached close to enemy positions, but was stopped by a well organized Ottoman infantry and artillery. Bulgarian troops dug in and waited for the next night (the night of the 12th to the 13th March), to organize another attack.
Western sector of the Serbian Danube Division never achieved significant success and entrenched near enemy positions.
Tikmok sector of the North Division failed to advance and some parts have occurred to the enemy front line.
At the same time, thanks to the brilliant preparation by the gene. Georgi Vazov the eastern sector Bulgarian armies conquered the entire front position of the Ottomans and without losses.
How did this happen?
At 13.00 on March 11 artillery began firing positions before the Ottoman forts.
At night, parts moved silently to the foot of the first enemy lines and 4.30 AM began their advance.
At 5.30 AM 23th and 10th infantry regiments reached the first trench, and after a few seconds overcome barbed wire, attacked the Ottomans, who surprised begun retreat and abandon their trenches.
In other parts of the sector, the element of surprise is not given quite as good results but ubiquitous Bulgarian soldiers drove the enemy, although in places it can be done at the cost of too many victims.
For example, 800 people, part of the 32nd Infantry Regiment were killed and wounded in the attack, but all the warriors of this part fulfilled their assignment and drove the enemy.
Once Bulgarian parts mastered the forefront, their artillery began to shell the space between them and the forts, inflicting huge losses on the retreating Turkish parts were placed in a situation that was impossible to beat.
Started moving and gaubichnata Polish artillery toward the conquered forefront, hence Bulgarian offensive continued shelling against forts line.
In some places had Bulgarian troops to attack fix bayonets bombarding them Turkish parts and after bloody battles to drive them away from their positions.
Such an attack on the forts was carried out in line ahead of March 13.
At night, the infantry had to be moved as close to the forts and battle line was built in depth to be able to repeat the shot when needed.
Artillery fired immediately behind the forts, and after dark, move your fire on the forts and on sites designated for attack. The fire was stopped for 10 minutes with a 15 minute fire and that was the signal to attack the infantry.
Once captured the sites, artillery moved forward. Been provided to other forts captured at dawn.
The attack on the fort Aydzhiolu, was in charge of the Rhodope 10 Infantry Regiment, which succeeded, under cover of night to reach near barbed wire in 35 minutes to overcome and 1.45 AM to conquer the fort.
After his success, artillery fire smuggled behind the fort. At dawn, the trenches were attacked around Aydzhiolu at fix bayonets and cleansed from enemies. Unusual maneuvers and incredible feat made commander and all the first division of the fifth rapid-fire artillery regiment
Major Droumev noticed that the ground between the fort and Aydzhiolu Kestenlik been in Ottoman hands, but he knew he should not leave without artillery support infantry and therefore risked their lives and the lives of designated fighters like advanced with them against strong enemy infantry fire.
Infantry was impressed by swiftly moving cannons and though she was exhausted paying for another attack, shouting "Hurrah!" And "Next". 200 meters from the barbed wire, horses and much of the service personnel cannons were killed, but the brave batteries continued the assault and opened fire on Kestenlik and trenches to the north of it. Losses are over 30%, but the spirit of Arsenal remained unmoved.
Thus been enabled our infantry to advance and enter the enemy trenches, where a fight in person to defeat the hated enemy.
The attack on the fort Ajvaz Baba was even more bloody and dramatic. Many Bulgarian soldiers to their deaths in front of barbed wire, hit by machine-gun fire of the enemy.
However, the Bulgarian spirit remained unbroken. Attacks not only stopped, but strengthened and continued in waves one after another.
In a cruel and bitter fighting "fix bayonets" the Bulgarian soldiers managed to break the resistance of the Ottomans and 6.25 in the morning, the fort "Ajvaz Baba" fallen in Bulgarian hands.
Soon the fort "Tash Tabia" was occupied by the 56th Infantry Regiment, thanks to the actions of the artillery, which hid the advancing infantry under fire curtain, stretching 300 meters ahead.
New "Tash Tabia" was seized at the same time as "Ajvaz Baba" and the old one - at 7:05 AM. A little later it was conquered, the forsaken by his defense, fort "Kayalaka."
Volunteers from the Southern Division of the Eastern sector performed miracles of bravery, and although their attack was to be a distraction from the main blow in the direction Aydzhiolu - Ajvaz Baba, they reached the barbed wire and taken great effort to pass in order to meet the enemy fix bayonets.
Although they weren’t successful, the brave Bulgarian soldiers severely disrupted the Turkish defense and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, who was appalled by the contempt for death Bulgarians.
Morning with artillery support and no major casualties were taken over completely forts "Kestenlik" (at 6:45 pm), "Kuru Cesme" (at 7:50), "Ialdaz" (8:50) Topyolu (8.30) and the Caucasus (8:45) . Barrage trapped Turkish support troops and this caused much of Ottoman soldiers and officers of the Eastern sector to surrender.
So at dawn on March 13 Bulgarian troops are stationed in forts line in the eastern sector of the Edirne fortress.
Began an artillery bombardment of the city, the goal was to force the commandant to surrender. Meanwhile, the Turks set fire to warehouses, knowing that they can not hope to win. Ubiquitous Turkish troops raised white flags, while the eastern sector arrived Turkish general to negotiate a surrender of the fortress.
In 12 hours, the commandant of Edirne, Shukri Pasha came to the head of the Eastern Sector gene. Georgi Vazov and later was taken to the commander of the II Army, who had betrayed the city, along with its entire garrison of over 60 thousand. Shukri Pasha personally surrendered his sword to General. Nikola Ivanov, saying: "I made that Bulgarians would impregnable fortress. I am happy to give up heroes. "
On the occasion of the conquest of Edirne, the correspondent of the French magazine "Journal", Louis Nadeau wrote the following: "The suddenness of the storm artillery and mad rush of infantry garrison deprived of power. They created panic among the defenders, as already experienced their brothers in arms in Lozengrad and Lyuleburgaz. "
Other reviews in the Western press gone even further by saying: "The Bulgarians would beat even when they are armed with daggers."
The joy of victory was universal. Pride was indescribable. Vaztrorgat no limits. The head of the Eastern sector gene. Georgi Vazov turned to his men, saying: "The world has to wonder at you, valiant sons of Bulgaria that could you in 30 hours to conquer one of the strongest fortresses ... You Entered yesterday and today a new glorious page in our history . Thank you. I am proud that I am your boss! I am proud to be Bulgarian! "
Bulgarian Army paid a high price for the capture of the heavily fortified Edirne fortress. In the three-day attack killed 24 officers and 1292 soldiers were among the wounded 94 other officers and 6235 soldiers and 451 militants disappeared.
The number of the Serb soldiers who were killed was 274, and the wounded were1173.
Death and suffering of all these characters were not in vain, as by his feat praise far and wide Bulgarian army and irrefutably proven that the Bulgarians were not only worthy of their freedom, but are leading force in the Balkans, which had to be account not only their neighbors, but the Great Powers.
Heroes of Adrianople were not individual soldiers or officers but whole regiments.
It is difficult to express in words my gratitude to the vigorous efforts of these brave warriors despised death, and stood in front of the machine guns and artillery of the enemy with a clear mind, you have to win or die.
And as incredible as it was, according to all the experts and foreign military experts Bulgarian army managed to conquer.
Candidate NCO Miho Georgiev 29th Yambol Infantry Regiment raised Bulgarian flag on the Mosque "Sultan Selim."
Private Ivan Balahurov, of the same regiment kept Shukri Pasha in his headquarters, until the arrival of the commander of the Guards Cavalry Regiment, Colonel Marholev that officially declared it captured.
Within days, the enemy fell into a military disaster. Captured were 14 pashas (Turkish generals), 2,000 officers, 60,000 soldiers, 16 flags 600 cannons, a huge amount of other military equipment.
Eastern sector of each infantry company received a 80 waist "For Bravery", and each battery - 50.
After the fall of Edirne, the Ottoman Empire was in a very poor state of war, as a liberated after the siege artillery and parts of II Army could assist our troops in Chataldzha position and so the Ottomans finally be driven out of Europe.
Fear began to be amplified after the defeat of I Sofia Infantry Division, which dealt a heavy blow to the elite Turkish parts / two divisions and one brigade horse / in Albacete and so put an end to Turkey's hopes of a counter.
The last major battles around Chataldzha fortified positions were held between 11 to 18 March 1913 ended with the strengthening of the Bulgarian positions and even small territorial gains for our army.
After the fall of Edirne railway the line has been entirely in Bulgarian hands and transfer of troops and supplies to CHataldza be facilitated. Moreover, the Ottoman Empire could no longer claim that all mighty fortresses remained in her hands again and was forced to ask for peace.
So on April 1, 1913 was concluded a new truce between the warring parties and been renewed peace talks in London. The morale of the enemy was extremely low.
In Gallipoli, the Bulgarians shouted loud "Hurrah!" at the news of the fall of Adrianople. The Ottoman forces took it for attack and leaving the front positions, hid in their strongholds.
Inducement, Military and Political Realities
The need for a well-organized and effective propaganda amplifies in times of crisis for both society and state. The Balkan war was definitely such a difficult moment, a moment of overwhelming tension of forces and a challenge for our entire nation. This is precisely the reason why we shouldn’t wonder that the political and military leaders of the Kingdom of Bulgaria put tremendous effort in inducement and propaganda to gather the energy and power of the Bulgarian society in order to achieve the war objectives. The situation was similar in the other countries involved in this conflict. Quite often the inducement and propaganda differ significantly from military and political realities, but in the end their goal is not to present the truth objectively, but rather to influence a certain society in order to achieve higher purposes. In order to understand how countries or certain governing spheres in society have tried to influence their fellow countrymen and sometimes even their allies and/or enemies, we need to have a better understanding of the forms and methods of inducement and propaganda used during the Balkan war by the nations involved.
The smallest Balkan country, in terms of territory and population, to take part in the Christian coalition against the Ottoman Empire was Montenegro. Despite the country’s small population and its predominantly mountain terrain, the Montenegrins considered themselves as one of the most battle worthy nations on the Balkans. This notion was mirrored in the official propaganda and mostly by king Nicholas I of Montenegro, who beside this, defended the idea that the Montenegrins were the true Serbs. Montenegro had two main objectives in the war. One was to seize control over the Sanjak of Novi Pazar and Kosovo. King Nicholas I maintained the idea that these lands belonged to the Montenegrins by right due to the fact that they were the true representatives of the Serbian ethnical group. Furthermore, the Montenegrin propaganda started to claim that the country was in fact never under Ottoman rule and therefore never suffered the negative consequences associated with the ottoman yoke the other Christian nations on the Balkans had to endure. This propaganda, of course, took liberties with the historic reality and distorted many historic events and facts in order to use them for its own advantage. Montenegro’s other objective was to take over the city of Shkodër in Albania and thus relive its economy. The inducement’s main focus was the economical motives and the claim, that after taking over the city, Montenegro will no longer need foreign aid or subsidies and it will be able to build a thriving economy. The reality was quite different and many researchers believe that the control of a single city cannot make a significant contribution to the modernization of the underdeveloped Montenegrin economy. During the war the Montenegrins relied mostly on the patriotism of their population, on their freedom loving spirit, and on their hatred towards the ottomans. In addition, the Montenegrin leaders tried to plant militarism and believe in the people’s and particularly in the army’s abilities. Quite indicative in this respect is a postcard depicting a dramatic moment during the Battle of Tuzi between the Montenegrin and the Ottoman armies. By reminding of the glorious victories from the past, it is implied that the present Montenegrin army is capable of defeating the ottomans.
From the beginning of its existence (1832) after the successful Greek uprising, the Kingdom of Greece managed to perfect its inducement and propaganda machine. The Greek demands and claims echoed widely not only within the Greek people and the Balkan neighbors, but in Western Europe as well where Hellas could count on a very powerful lobby. Not without reason could it be claimed, that the Greek propaganda machine was the most powerful in comparison to the other Christian states on the Balkans. Because of this, the Kingdom managed to lay a claim to territories where the Greek population was a minority or even to such territories where there was no Greek population whatsoever. Furthermore, during the hostilities the Greek authorities tirelessly advocated the bravery of their soldiers and the quality of the Greek army and navy, as well as the humanity of the Greeks towards the defeated enemy. This propaganda images were far from reality, as it will later be proven by the impartial investigation of the Carnegie Commission, but in 1912 and in the first months of 1913 this was the widely accepted image.
The Greek objectives in the Balkan war included the occupation of Thessaly and parts of Aegean Macedonia and in particular the city of Thessaloniki, classified as the number one objective of the Greek army under the command of crown prince Constantine. Another objective, where the Greeks believed they could be successful was Southern Macedonia. They intended to invade as far as Bitola and seize control over the whole region. The grounds for the Greek occupation of these lands were based on the ancient history as they were inhabited by tribes who spoke Hellenic language, as well as medieval history as Byzantium had control over them at the time. The Greek claims to Macedonia were branded by the Greek propaganda as historically justified and fair, even though the desired territories were predominantly inhabited by a Bulgarian population and in most cases the Greek population was a minority. Another Greek main objective was to take over Ioannina in Southern Albania, once again because of historic reasons. Through their active inducement the Greek leaders managed to mobilize over 120 000 men from a population of 2 630 000 which was described as a huge achievement. In comparison, Bulgaria managed to mobilize 600 000 men from a population of 4 432 000. Over 366 000 of those mobilized Bulgarian citizens served in the active army and participated every day and every minute in the offensives of our victorious army. In order to encourage as many as possible men to enlist in the army and to raise the morale of the troops and the civilians, the Greek leaders used different propaganda images and means. For example, after the declaration of war, different posters depicting the destruction, violation or degrading of the ottoman flag or other symbols of the Ottoman Empire appeared. Furthermore the western press constantly received materials depicting the heroism of the Greek soldiers and officers and their kindness towards the surrendered enemy. Thus an image of an exemplary, honest and dignified gentleman was created for the Greek soldier. It is possible that exactly this image played a part in the decision of the commandant of Thessaloniki – Hasan Tahsin Pasha to surrender the city to the Greeks. It is claimed that the commandant himself received a large amount of money from the Greeks in order to surrender the city to them instead of the Bulgarians, even though this cannot be conclusively proven.
Just like the other Balkan Christian countries, the Kingdom of Serbia heavily used propaganda as a mean to justify its political and military objectives. The Serbs aimed to take control of Vardar Macedonia, parts of the Novi Pazar Sanjak and Kosovo. It must be noted that the Serbs concentrated their main forces towards Macedonia thereby showing their eagerness to seize control over as much as possible from the predominantly Bulgarian inhabited territory. Their claims were based on the medieval history of the Balkans and in particular the period of greatest power of the Serbian state under King Stefan Dusan when a part of the Macedonian region was briefly under Serbian control. Apart from this propaganda direction, the Serbs put a lot of effort into enthusing their own population and the Serbs under ottoman rule. The aim was to mobilize as many men as possible, who would participate in the decisive war against the centuries-long oppressor. After the beginning of the war, just like the other Christian Balkan states, Serbia began to raise the morale of the population and strengthen its faith in the ultimate victory with the aid of posters, post cards, leaflets and political leaders’ speeches. It’s interesting to note that many of the Serbian posters depicted victorious bayonet battles against the ottomans. This theme was pretty much borrowed from the Bulgarian army, which was considered one of the best in this element of battle worldwide. There is an apparent borrowing of motifs specific to the Bulgarian propaganda, which heavily relied on the face-to-face battle with the enemy during a bayonet fight. As the Bulgarian military commanders have said: “The bayonet is a material representative of the moral energy. It represents our moral willingness to meet the enemy face-to-face as a last means to overpower him.” Evidently this propaganda image had taken root in Serbia whereas it was widely used during the Balkan war. The inducement of the Serbian people was achieved through the church as well. The focal point was the Orthodox faith and the confrontation with the Muslim enemy, thus raising the morale not only of the Serbian soldier, but of the whole nation as well.
Bulgaria aimed the accession of Macedonia and Thrace to the Kingdom. Our propaganda effort relied heavily upon numerous historic events and facts, which confirm the country’s claim to these territories. Beginning with the Middle Ages and the rule of great Bulgarian Kings Simeon, Peter, Samuil, Kaloyan, Ivan Assen II etc. over these lands up to the Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano which determined the borders of the Bulgarian land. Exactly this treaty became the national ideal for generations of Bulgarians. The Bulgarian authorities advocated the need to liberate the Bulgarian countrymen still under foreign rule, forced to endure the hated ottoman rule long after most of their compatriots have freed themselves and started living in their own country. The need for unification of all Bulgarian people in one country was also highlighted, as this would be the only way for Bulgaria to claim its rightful place in the Balkans and Europe. The ruling circles envisioned Bulgaria’s rightful place of a hegemon on the Balkans and of a major power in Europe. In order to achieve this, all territories populated with Bulgarians had to be united or to be more precise – the Bulgarian borders had to be expanded in accordance to those drafted by the Treaty of San Stefano.
Apart from history the Bulgarian propaganda relied on yet another fact. From a demographic perspective the Bulgarian population was the majority in the region of Macedonia and parts of Thrace. In those parts of Thrace where the Bulgarian population didn’t account for more than 50%, the predominant population where the ottomans, who, according to the propaganda, shouldn’t rule over European territories as they were described as evil and despotic oriental people. By doing so the Bulgarian propaganda created conditions for a national uplift as almost every Bulgarian was partial towards the struggle for national unification and participated within his or hers abilities in the effort to accomplish the national ideal. In this regard, the huge number of Bulgarians who volunteered in the war against the Ottoman Empire isn’t surprising. The bravery and the sacrifices of the Bulgarian soldiers and officers who sincerely believed that they were defending their enslaved fellow countrymen and bringing justice for the five centuries full of atrocities and terror brought upon the Bulgarian people by the ottomans aren’t surprising as well. Unlike the other Balkans countries’ propaganda, Bulgaria’s propaganda relied almost exclusively on historically correct facts and didn’t falsify demographics simply because they were in our favor. This gave confidence to the Bulgarians that the ultimate goal will be achieved, which in turn made them incautious in their believe that since the truth is on our side we cannot fail. But in politics justice and truth rarely matter and this was proven by the propaganda effort of the Greeks and the Serbians, which managed to convince their own people and part of Western European societies that they deserve to seize power over lands predominantly inhabited by Bulgarians. It was at this point when the controversy which led to the rift between the allies began.
It’s time now to look back at the Bulgarian inducement for the war. In all honesty, no considerable and targeted inducement was needed during the mobilization as around 600 000 men answered the call of war in just several days. The Bulgarians went to war like they go to a feast, greeting each other, to the astonishment of observers, with “Happy war!”. Such was the opinion not only of our countrymen, but also of many western and Russian correspondents who covered the mobilization launched on the 17th of September. If the mobilization in the Kingdom has to be described in a single word, it would be “intoxication”. The Bulgarian people embraced the war with great enthusiasm and sacrificed their most dear sons, who perished believing that our people and our country deserve any self-sacrifice. Actually, it could be claimed that in these moments the Bulgarian national feeling reached its peak.
The Bulgarian propaganda effort didn’t seize during the war but, tried in any possible way to lift the spirit of the army and the people instead. News from the frontlines were reported on a daily basis with a great aplomb and emphasis on the heroism of the Bulgarian soldier and his incredible achievements on the battlefields of Macedonia and Thrace Many works of art praising the glorious victories and the fighting efficiency of the Bulgarian army emerged in addition. Very soon after Bulgaria declared war on the Ottoman Empire, the whole propaganda machine of the Kingdom began to postulate that the moment of the final reckoning with the Turks and their banishment from the Balkans had come.
The inducement from the Bulgarian state was apparent in all liberated regions whereas the local population was being persuaded that as a part of the Bulgarian people it would be better for them to be part of the Kingdom of Bulgaria. The most serious attempts in this regard were made on the Muslim ethnic Bulgarians. Sadly these attempts didn’t begin immediately after the fifth of October and in some places they were weeks late which allowed the Ottoman Empire to entice part of this population falsely claiming that the Bulgarians authorities intend to take away the property and even the lives of all Muslim people from the liberated territories. Despite the initial delay, over the development of the military activities, the Bulgarian authorities increasingly worked with the local Bulgarian Muslim population and managed to win them over for the Bulgarian cause. The Bulgarian Christian population from the newly liberated territories didn’t need any inducement and gladly joined the Kingdom of Bulgaria. One of the most convincing evidence for the excitement of this population over the possibility to become part of the free Motherland was the spontaneous establishment of essentially Bulgarian type of local government in many places.
There was a very powerful Bulgarian inducement within the population of Macedonia and the Adrianople region appealing for its best to aid the Kingdom’s efforts for liberation. Not only the official Bulgarian authorities, but also the legendary Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and the Union of the Macedonian emigrant organizations took an extremely active part in this regard. Due to their active role, the Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Volunteer Corps was created, where not only Bulgarians from Macedonia and the Adrianople region of Thrace participated, but also fellow countrymen from Northern Dobruja, Pomoravlje region as well as foreign nationals involved with the Bulgarian cause. The total number of fighters from the Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Volunteer Corps was nearly 15 000 men, in addition to this number many local detachments facilitated the advance of the Bulgarian army towards Macedonia, the Rhodope mountains and Eastern Thrace.
During the war the inducement and the propaganda weren’t only aimed at the Bulgarian people or particular groups from it, it was also aimed at the enemy. During the siege of Adrianople, Bulgarian aviators repeatedly threw leaflets and proclamations. Many of them written in Turkish appealed to the local population and the garrison to surrender, in return the life and property of all who surrender regardless of nationality or religion would be spared. During the course of the war leaflets explaining that nobody who surrenders his weapons and doesn’t resist the Bulgarian army will be hurt were spread among the Turkish or Turkish-speaking population elsewhere too. The goal of these actions was to avoid conflict with the local population as well as to prevent the forming of bashibazouk squads.
The last aspect of Bulgarian propaganda was aimed at presenting the Bulgarian achievements abroad as a pledge of support from the great powers, or at least a reason to keep the benevolent neutrality and not to actively support the Ottoman Empire. The Kingdom of Bulgaria allowed entry to foreign correspondents and military experts and set up wonderful conditions to observe the actions of the Bulgarian army and send records to the press in Western Europe and Russia and to their respective governments. Unlike Greece, the Bulgarian propaganda concerning most of our victories didn’t resonate with such intensity in the western European press, but still it must be noted that some of the greatest Bulgarian victories like those in Kirk Kilisse, Luleburgas – Bunarhisar and Adrianople were spatially covered not only in Russia, but also in Western Europe. In contrst to the Greeks and Serbs, the Bulgarian authorities tried to correctly present their actions, which is why we could claim that the information provided by the Bulgarians corresponded the most to the military realities. The exaggerations, the blatant manipulations and the, sometimes, brazen lies promoted by Greeks and Serbs mostly to the Western press weren’t characteristic of our propaganda and that is probably the reason why the Bulgarians managed to earn the liking of many European experts. Still the success of our neighbors’ propaganda must be admitted. They persuaded a big part of the ordinary Europeans that they were at least an equal partner and ally of Bulgaria in the war against the Ottoman Empire, and sometimes even presented themselves as the blade of the Balkan union.
Through the inducement and propaganda conducted by the institutions and the heads of the Kingdom of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian army and different organizations the Bulgarian cause gained an adequate ideological support and achieved considerable success. The most important of these achievements were: confidence among the military and the population in the inevitability of the Bulgarian victory in the war; a wide spread sense of a national ideal and development of the idea for national unity; the creation of the Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Volunteer Corps; the spontaneous forming of a local government in many towns, liberated from the ottomans; the mass participation of the local population in the liberation actions of the Bulgarian army; The notion of the problems of the Bulgarians remaining under Ottoman rule that have reached the general public..
The inducement and the propaganda of the enemy of the Balkan union – the Ottoman Empire relied mainly on religion. The war was presented by the ottoman political, military and religious leaders as a war of the crescent against the cross. All Muslim believers were called upon to contribute to the victory against the rebellious misbelievers and it was pointed out that these lands belonged to the Empire for over half of millennium. The sense of superiority was conveyed to the Turkish army portraying the Balkan Christians as inferior people who cannot oppose the victorious Ottoman army. In fact this played a negative role during the hostilities as the ottoman commanders would sometimes underestimate the strength and abilities of the enemy which resulted in defeat. After the Bulgarian army reached the Çatalca position, the Ottoman inducement and propaganda changed and put emphasis on the fight to the last drop of blood for the salvation of the Ottoman Empire and the maintaining of “correct order” i.e. the Islamic law. The inducement was conducted among the whole population and all Muslim believers were called upon to join the war effort according to their abilities and stop the advances of the Balkan union and in particular the Bulgarian army towards Istanbul. The inducement and the propaganda of the Ottoman Empire had relatively good results and for the duration of the war over 500 000 men and many bashibazouks who mostly sabotaged the enemy’s rear were enlisted in the army. The heroic defense of the Çatalca position - the last obstacle standing between the Bulgarian army and the Ottoman capital could be considered as a great success for the Ottoman inducement. The inability of the ottoman propaganda machine to involve the Christian population in its imperial goals could be considered as a weakness. It’s a fact that even though there were Christian troops in the Turkish army, they weren’t the majority of the Christian population which longed to see the end of the hated empire as soon as possible.
Innovations in the warfare
When we talk about The Balkan war, we often remember genius solutions, occurred to Bulgarian commanders, or even soldiers, that have affected significantly warfare not only in Balkan Peninsula, but in Europe, and even whole world. Despite other armies, or “experts” attempts to claim discoverer`s role of one or another innovation, at the Bulgarians expense, unbiased experts in most military academies acknowledge both exceptional qualities of Bulgarian army, and its contribution for developing of the modern arts of war.
First and most commonly mentioned innovation made by Bulgarian army is connected with use of aviation. Until this moment aviation was considering mainly as sport, not as military strike force. At 16 of October 1912g. Poruchik Radul Milkov and second lieutenant Prodan Tarakchiev dropped two bombs at the railway station during reconnaissance mission over Odrin. This flight opened new page in history of warfare. Few years latter military aviation will be entrusted with many more tasks, but in this time there are few nations that developed aviation for military use.
The second area, where Bulgarian army makes serious and well-recognized innovations, is artillery. For the first time, they appled new methods for conducting artillery combat and using new forms for use of artillery. In the assault on the Odrin fortress applied continuous fire support for infantry. Bulgarian artillery worked tirelessly for two whole days, providing an advantage in infantry units to advance against their better positioned Ottoman enemy. It was first used and a specific approach called "fire-roller" (or "firing shaft"). Idea that "firing roller" or creeping artillery fire, as others call it, is to act as a protective wall for advancing infantry. Artillery is pouring tons of shells over enemy positions and gradually progressing as infantry positions is 300 meters behind artillery fire. Infantry task is to completely eliminate remaining opposing force, and to occupy their positions. This approach was used extremely active during the First World War and proved as very effective. Another innovation of the Bulgarian artillery use of the so-called "barrage" (also called "stationary obstruction fire"). It`s purpose is to create a fire barrier to prevent attempt of enemy to counterattack. After the fall of Odrin many foreign specialists arrived to learn from Bulgarian gunners these new ways of conducting artillery battle. Also they borrowed from Bulgarians other innovations such as the use of artillery fire at night to lower the morale of the enemy, so called drum fire. The last two, although they where applied earlier, they where enhanced by Bulgarian army and where used considerably more rational during the siege of Odrin.
Another important contribution of the Bulgarian Army for the development of military operation is symbolized by the capture of Edirne fortress. More than once this operation has been pinpointed as a higher manifestation of Bulgarian military genius and is still taught in most military academies around the world. In the assault on the Edirne fortress was shown brilliantly interaction between infantry and artillery, and Bulgarian command put into practice an ingenious but rather complex tactical plan. Bulgarian soldiers show how courage, composure, flawless discipline, and sacrifice are able to capture a well-fortified stronghold. Odrin operation remains in the treasury of world science and military rightly makes us proud of the genius of our ancestors and legendary victory, paid for with the blood of thousands of Bulgarian heroes.
There are a number of contributions of the Bulgarian Army in the development of warfare, many of them are related to the actions of the infantry. Among them we can mention the arrangement of infantry during the fighting, in securing the conquered enemy positions, in logistics support, etc. Also strategy and tactics undergo development. Bulgarians evolved and improved the experience of some of the leading world's armies and used it to achieve the cherished goal - national unity.
There where Innovation in other types of armed forces. Development of our engineering troops was extremely positive. They managed to secure some of the most glorious victories of the Bulgarian Army. Those heroes paved the way for the infantry in wire fences of the Edirne fortress at the cost of their life will remain unforgettable in national memory. Heroism and purposefulness of the Bulgarian soldiers in the Balkan Wars have little analogues in world military history.
Nature and importance of the war
For Bulgarians, Balkan war was liberating war, its ultimate goal was to achieve national unity. After the unjust decisions of the Great Powers that divided the Bulgarian people, and left millions of Bulgarians outside the Principality of Bulgaria, many Bulgarians, as in the Principality and beyond, started, tirelessly and relentlessly working to achieve national unity. At first it was believed that blinded Powers will support the justified demands of Bulgarians that remained under the rule of the Ottomans, but once that didn’t happened, our ancestors take matters into their own hands. In 1885 Bulgarians declare, and defend themselves on the battlefield, Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, but after that memorable year, many Bulgarians still remain under Ottoman rule. Created in 1896 organizations of Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace, and various other organizations and circles in and outside the Principality, actively worked for the liberation of all Bulgarians living in the Ottoman Empire. After declaring of the independence of the Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1908, the Bulgarian state becomes the only legitimate expression of the aspirations, desires and dreams of the Bulgarian people and making titanic efforts in preparation for solving the national problem.
Time for national unity came in the fall of 1912 and after September 17 mobilization began. In the Kingdom of Bulgaria over 600,000 Bulgarians rushed under flags, to defeat the enemy, that held them in slavery 500 years, and continues to keep half a million of our countrymen in his predatory claws. Bulgarians entered the army like going to a wedding. Joy was nationwide and excitement covered society. Bulgarians have been congregated from all around of world to join the army and to show that they where no longer slaves, but they forge their own destiny and have the power to free their enslaved brethren. An interesting fact is that the Army was recorded and volunteers from the Russian - Turkish war, as one of them said, "All I got, I gave for Homeland and Freedom."
Excitement among Bulgarians reached its peak on 5 October 1912 when Bulgaria declared war on the Ottoman Empire, the Bulgarian army immediately smash Turkish border troops, and began the liberation of their enslaved brethren. Many experts will conclude later that Bulgaria won the war thanks to the exceptional spirit of his troops. Bulgarians failed to meet their personal problems, dramas and conflicts, to unite themselves in one iron fist defeating Ottoman army any place where they meet it. Wins of Lozengrad, Liule Bourgas, Bunarhisar, Bulair, Sharkyoi, Odrin, and many others give grounds for pride of the Bulgarian people. The whole world understands that we where neither slaves or freed. Bulgarians is free and is not only free, but also liberator. Thankfull local Bulgarian populations in Thrace and Macedonia welcomed the Bulgarian army and generally supported the actions of their blood brothers against the Ottomans. It is difficult today to imagine how united was in those moments our people, but as foreign correspondents wrote in that moment “all Bulgarian hearts beat together as one big and proud Bulgarian heart”.
The importance of the victory of Bulgaria in the Balkan Wars is huge. At first the victory affect very positively on national self-esteem and the Bulgarian national psychology. Finally, after this great success, the Bulgarians managed to overcome a number of complexes inherited from the Ottoman slavery and the Russian - Turkish war of 1877 - 1878 year. Our ancestors were already fully confident in their power and understand that there are no insurmountable difficulties when they are all together and pursue their national ideal. In addition whole world legitimize the right of Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace to join the Kingdom of Bulgaria, and right of all Bulgarians to live in one country.
Victory in the Balkan war raised reputation of our country in the eyes of Europe and of the whole civilized world so more and more powers was watching Bulgaria with sympathy and undisguised admiration. Bulgaria was coincidentally called "the Balkan Prussia" in that time. Bulgarian army was highly valued ally in terms of intensifying conflict between the two major military-political blocks. Therefore, both groups where trying their best to attract the kingdom itself. The international prestige of our country was growing tremendously and it was seen as an equal state of all European and world sovereign states. Idea of Bulgaria as shadow of Ottoman Empire was completely erased. We go out with a bang on the scene thanks to the tens of thousands of Bulgarians shed blood on the battlefields of Thrace and Macedonia, and proved that in the Balkans there where no more courageous and victorious soldier from Bulgarians.
Much can be said or wrote about the importance of victory for our people, but these words will never be enough. We have no words to express the enormous changes occurring in the hearts and souls of all Bulgarians, after the brilliant victories in Lozengrad, Liulebourgas, Bunarhisar, Thessaloniki, Bulair, Sharkyoi, Odrin, and hundreds of large and small battles and fights. Our people went confident and energetic in the way of national unity, to unite and to become the true leader of the Christian states in the Balkans. Bulgaria breaks Ottoman Empire and managed to reclaim Christian lands so long possessed by the Turks. This no one will and never will be able be to challenge, because of all it is clear that Bulgaria plays a crucial role in the victory of the Balkan Union!
Nature and importance of the war
About Bulgaria, the Balkan War had a liberating character, as its ultimate goal was to achieve national unity.
After the unjust decisions of the Great Powers, which divided the Bulgarian people and left millions of Bulgarians outside the Principality of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian authorities and many Bulgarians as the Principality and beyond its borders, began daily tirelessly and relentlessly work towards national unification.
At first it was believed that blinded Powers will support the just demands of the Bulgarians who remained under the rule of the Ottomans, but then it did not happen, our ancestors took matters into their own hands.
In 1885 the Bulgarians declared themselves and protect the battlefield Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia, but after this memorable year, there were still many of our compatriots who remained under Ottoman rule.
Established in 1896 the organization of the Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace, and various other organizations and circles within and outside the Principality actively worked for the liberation of all Bulgarians living in the Ottoman Empire.
After the independence of the Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1908, the Bulgarian State became the only legitimate expression of the aspirations, desires and dreams of the Bulgarian people and the Titanic started preparation to solve the national problem.
Time for national unity occurred in the fall of 1912 and after September 17 mobilization began in the Kingdom of Bulgaria, 600 000 Bulgarians rushed in Brant flags to enter into battle with the enemy, held them in slavery 500 years and continue to hold in predatory paws around half a million of their countrymen. Bulgarians are enrolled in the army like going to a wedding.
Joy was nationwide and excitement permeated the entire society. From around the world flocked to the Motherland Bulgarians to join the ranks of the army, and to show that the Bulgarian people is not slavish people, and forge your destiny alone.
An interesting fact is that the army is recorded and volunteers from the Russian - Turkish war, as one of them said: "Everything I have, together with myself for giving our country and freedom."
Excitement among the Bulgarians reached its peak on October 5, 1912, when Bulgaria declared war on the Ottoman Empire and the Bulgarian army immediately ran over the Turkish border troops and began the liberation of their enslaved brethren.
As many experts will conclude later, Bulgaria won the war thanks to the extraordinary spirit of his army. Bulgarians turned from personal problems, dramas and conflicts to unite in an iron fist, defeated the Ottoman army where she meets. Win Lozengrad, Lyuleburgaz, Bunarhisar, Bulair Sharkioy, Edirne, and many others gave rise to the pride of the whole Bulgarian people.
Around the world understand that we are no longer any slaves or freed. Bulgarians now free and not only free but also liberator. Thanks local Bulgarian populations in Thrace and Macedonia welcomed Bulgarian army and generally supported the actions of their half-brother against the Ottomans.
It's difficult to imagine how he was united in those moments our people, but as foreign correspondents write as though at this point all Bulgarian hearts beating together as one big total, vanquishing and proud Bulgarian heart.
The importance of the victory of Bulgaria in the First Balkan War was immense.
Firstly, this victory did extremely beneficial to national self-esteem and on Bulgarian mentality.
Finally, after this great success, they succeeded in overcoming a number of complexes inherited from the Ottoman yoke and the Russo - Turkish war of 1877 - 1878 year.
Our ancestors were already quite confident in their abilities and understand that there is no insurmountable difficulties when they are together and pursue their national ideal.
Moreover, the whole world was legitimized the right of the Bulgarians from Macedonia and Thrace to join the Kingdom of Bulgaria for the Bulgarians living in the country.
Victory in the Balkan War risen our country in the eyes of Europe and the whole civilized world, and more Powers looked with undisguised admiration for Bulgaria, which coincidentally was called "Prussia of the Balkans."
Bulgarian army was more highly valued ally in terms of intensifying conflict between the two major military-political bloc. Therefore, both groups were trying their best to attract the kingdom itself.
International prestige of our country greatly increased and it has been seen as an equal state of all European and world sovereign states.
Been completely erased the idea that Bulgaria almost still stands in the shadow of the Ottoman Empire.
Can articulate and decorate a thousand words about the importance of victory for our people, but these words will never be enough.
We have no words to convey the enormous changes occurring in the hearts and souls of all Bulgarians after the brilliant victories at Lozengrad, Lyuleburgaz, Bunarhisar, Thessaloniki, Bulair Sharkioy, Edirne and in hundreds of large and small battles and engagements.
Our people went confidently and forcefully on the path of national unity, to unite and to become the true leader of the Christian states in the Balkans. Bulgaria refraction Ottoman Empire and managed to prize so long possessed by her Christian lands in the Balkans.
And no one will never be able to challenge because of all it is clear that Bulgaria has played a crucial role in the victory of the alliance!
The place of The Balkan War in history.
In the course of hostilities during the Balkan War there were a number of works written in relation to the heroism of the Bulgarian troops overwhelming its five centuries tyrant in the heart of its realm on the Balkans. Various propaganda, memoirs and historical works were issued after the war showing the appreciation of the contemporaries about what had happened. High was the historical culture of the Bulgarians who managed to preserve a huge amount of memories, facts and figures about the war. Unfortunately, after the serious losses that Bulgaria experienced after the defeat in the Second Balkan War a sense of bitterness began to sneak regarding the First Balkan War which was now considered as a cause of the following Second Balkan War. Soon, however, the First World War broke out and incredible excitement filled the entire Bulgarian nation again, which believed that the time had come to deal with their traitorous Balkan allies who stuck so unceremoniously and ugly a knife in the back of the Kingdom. After the glorious victories over Serbs and Greeks and the entry of the Bulgarian troops in Bucharest Bulgaria now rejoices nearly completed its national ideal. During that time the eulogy of the great Bulgarian heroes fighting in the fields during the Balkan War easily pops up again. After the unsuccessful end of the First World War the national dismay engulfs Bulgarian society but the triumphant heroes of the Balkan wars were not forgotten. A sober study on the epic military clash was initiated, as well as, especially in the 30-ies of XX century, a number of research materials were published on the history of the the Balkan War.
After 9 September 1944 for a period of several decades The Balkan War was considered quite biased and definitely in a negative direction for only some Russophile generals managed to escape the harsh tone of the "professional" historians and propagandists. Only after changing the course direction of the Bulgarian Communist Party in the 70s and the early 80s a serious attention started to get paid to the Bulgarian military victories on the battlefields of Thrace and Macedonia in the autumn and winter of 1912 - 1913 year. From that moment on many new major studies emerged and revived some of the most important war heroes, who had been previously regarded with a negative monicker "royal officers."
In the years following the beginning of the post totalitarian transition more and more historians, publicists and social activists are involved in research and discussion of various issues related to The Balkan War. Thanks to their efforts it becomes more and more popular. Yet, we can not be satisfied with what was accomplished until now as the situation now at the beginning of the XXI century, in terms of our knowledge of the Balkan War differs significantly to the one before 1944. Besides, the pathetic spirit with which all the different anniversaries for the beginning of the war and the victories had long ago disappeared. So did the Bulgarian pride in the victories of their glorious ancestors. On the one hand this is due to lack of sufficient historical culture among the highest of the society and on the other due to the extremely passive national propaganda. Bulgaria is probably the only country in the Balkans to provide such a low funding and scarce efforts for national propaganda. Today a common feeling for our politicians is to feel ashamed of patriotism and own country loving, thus not realizing that this breaks the cohesion links in between Bulgarians, destroying the pillars of the rule system in a nation. If we keep on going down this road we will soon become a mechanical collection of individuals, each going their own way and pursuing their own goals, in contradiction or bad influence on his fellow countrymen.
The history ignorance typical for much of our political elite in the recent decades leads to serious problems in the Bulgarian society and major threats to the Bulgarian country. We face challenges that may look quite different at first glance but, in fact, are pretty similar to those that our fellow countrymen faced in 1912. Today we still need new reasons to be proud of, to boost our national confidence, increase our national pride, unity and a common national goal pursuing of which will reveal our best qualities. Let the sacred example that our ancestors left in the battlefields of the Balkan War serves as a shining beacon in the world stormy sea of political, moral and economic crisis that follows us! Let us always remember that “Unity brings strength”! This means that together we can overcome every threat! Together we can build one strong, independent and prosperous Bulgaria!