R. Grant Barnwell.

The Russo-Turkish War; comprising an account of the Servian insurrection, the dreadful massacre of Christians in Bulgaria and other Turkish atrocities, with the transactions and negotiations of the contending powers preliminary to the present struggle ... together with a history and description of R online

. (page 31 of 44)
Online LibraryR. Grant BarnwellThe Russo-Turkish War; comprising an account of the Servian insurrection, the dreadful massacre of Christians in Bulgaria and other Turkish atrocities, with the transactions and negotiations of the contending powers preliminary to the present struggle ... together with a history and description of R → online text (page 31 of 44)
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Nicholas, who was only eighteen years of age ; but who has vindicated
his fitness for the difficult post by great wisdom and prudence. Under
Montenegrin skies education is fostered as in all other Servian commu-
nities, all forms of religion are free, and the knowledge of the truth is
being spread as might be expected in a country the capital of which
contains only a hundred houses, which found purchasers for thirty-two
copies of the Bible at one visit thither of a colporteur.




380 EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.

CHAPTER XXIII.

EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAB.

In Herzegovina the harvest of 1874 was a bad one, and the
peasantry foresaw a hard winter before them. The tax-collectors,
agents of the officials who farm the taxes, require the agriculturists
to keep the crops standing until it suits their convenience to come
and levy the tithe due to the Sultan, estimating the crops as standing
damaged there to be worth the highest Constantinople market prices.
But in one district the tax-gatherer did not come till January, 1875,
when hunger had compelled the sale and the eating of parts of the
crops. The tax-gatherer estimated the tax at an enormous sum; the
people resisted his demands; they were robbed, beaten, imprisoned,
and their chiefs threatened with arrest when they complained. Some
fled to the mountains of the neighboring independent State of Monte-
negro, secure to find shelter among people of the same faith and
race. They found the leading Montenegrins at the capital, Cettinje,
consulting how to act with reference to a Turkish infraction of
boundary rights, and were welcomed as fellow-sufferers.

During their absence another district of Herzegovina was roused to
discontent and resistance by the arbitrary conduct of the police and by
the way in which forced labor was imposed by them. The district
authorities reported to their superior, and gendarmes were sent to com-
pel submission. Other neighboring districts were quiet ; but the clergy
of some Roman Catholic districts, whose ancient privileges had never
been confirmed by the present Sultan, stirred their flocks to support
the dignity of their religion against threatened inroads on the part of
the local authorities.

Just then the Emperor of Austria visited his province of Dalmatia,
â– which is peopled by Slavs, the near kinsmen of the Hcrzegovinians,
and borders on Herzegovina to the southwest. His visit had a political
significance in the eyes of the simple peasantry, who hoped that he had
come to see how best to help them against their oppressors. He prob-
ably had no such aim, but his visit encouraged them nevertheless.

The gendarmes arrived in rebellious Nevesinje at the end of April ;



EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.



381




A Woman's Normal School in Constantinople,



the Christians fled to the mountains, their chiefs to Montenegro. The
gendarmes went on to Bilec ; but here the peasantry offered only a
passive resistance to their entering the villages, and refused to appear
before the local authority. The flame broke out here on a Christian
woman suffering insult at the hands of a gendarme. A pasha, Yali
Selim, had already been despatched by the governor of Bosnia to
inquire into the result of the Emperor of Austria's visit to Dalmatia.
and was instructed to give the discontented population the alternative
of returning submissively to their homes or of emigrating to Monte-
negro. They refused to deal with any but an envoy direct from the
Sultan ; being not rebellious against his authority, but compelled to
defend themselves, their families, ar.d their property, from his Mussul-
man officials of the same race as themselves.

It was as yet two small districts only that were involved ; few were
even interested in their affairs. But the refugee chieftains were incon-
venient to jNIonteuegro, and safe-conducts were procured by Frince
^N'icholas for their return. The Turkish frontier-guards attacked them



382 EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.

in spite of their passports, and a second application was necessary te
get them across the border. On their return home they were left com-
paratively unmolested, merely having some of their houses burned, one
being assaulted in the bazaar, another killed as he left the court in
which he had complained of the assault, another being murdered in his
field, and an innkeeper who had entertained them paying for his hos-
pitality with his life. The authorities made no sign of any intention
to punish these outrages, but still there was no general outbreak. Iso-
lated attacks were made on single Turks, and the matter became grave
enough to attract the attention of the Porte. Accordingly the mufti
of the Slavic Mussulmans was removed, but not punished, and a very
obnoxious bishop, with Turkish leanings, was transferred to a better
post. The neighboring villagers armed themselves, but remained quiet,
waiting to see what would happen, doing their ordinary work all day,
but guarding the roads at night against any surprise on the part of
government.

This was about midsummer. At last a conference was held between
representatives of the Sultan and the people, who also insisted ui:)on
the presence of an envoy from Montenegro. The demands made by
the peasants were for things promised them by the famous decree or
hattisherif of 1857: that Christian women and girls should be safe
from Turkish insult ; that they should have liberty to exercise their
religion ; that Christians and Mohammedans should be equal before
the law ; that the excesses of the police should be restrained ; that the
taxes should be justly and seasonably levied. The Mohammedans
thought these demands exorbitant, and endeavored to browbeat the
Christians into some abatement of them, but in vain ; and when Der-
vish Pasha, governor of Bosnia, came to add his Avisdom to the council,
the people demanded further the long-promised freedom from forced
labor without payment.

The Pasha promised to do his utmost to obtain for them their rights
if they would lay down their arms, but they said that could only be
if they and their INIussulman neighbors were meanwhile separated. The
Pasha retired to his capital, and the Christians fled with their families
and goods to the mountains. The Mussulmans broke into the govern-
ment store, and armed themselves with breech-loaders ; the neighboring
districts still holding themselves quietly in readiness.

On the first of July some Christians who had been driven from their



EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR. 383

rough mountain refuges by illness were killed at Nevesinje by the
armed Mussulmans; the Chiistians revenged themselves, and then
seized on a baud of froutier-guards escorting provisions. The small
engagements were repeated, aud in one of them a body of Turkish
troops took part. This precipitated a general rising. But the insur-
gents were not united ; no leader had yet appeared among them ; and
an "advanced radical" agent of a Servian republican society who
aspired to the leadership met with only scant courtesy from the native
chiefs. The Roman Catholic districts were i^ersuaded to lay doAvn their
arms; the government having been couviuced of the power of the
clergy, who here, as elsewhere, Avere anxious rather to maintain their
own authority in obedience to Rome than to help forward any move-
ment for the good of their people.

Towards the end of July it appeared that a Greek-Church official
was unwilling to allow his people to join the insurgents, and asked the
government for soldiers to help him ; but the Mussulmans said that for
them and Christians to fight, fall, and possibly be buried together, was
an intolerable thing, and so the Christians of that district swelled the
numbers of the insurgent army.

In the early part of August the insurgents surrounded Trebigne.
A few weeks later, a rising took place in Turkish Croatia, a district
inhabited by a Slavic population, belonging chiefly to the Roman
Catholic aud Greek Churches. In the meantime the Euroj^can powers
turned their attention to the insurrection. Ambassadors from Austria,
Germany, and Russia, conferred with the Grand Vizier, and advised a
suspension of hostilities, but the Porte refused his assent. However,
at the suggestion of the six great powers, the Porte subsequently
commissioned Server Pasha to inquire into the grievances of the
insurgents ; and at the same time the foreign consuls were forbidden
giving the insurgents any hope or promise of foreign assistance.

In the latter part of August the Turks drove the insurgents from
Trebigne into the mountains ; but a Turkish detachment of twelve
hundred men, which was sent to Biletj, fifteen miles distant, were
lured into an ambush and severely defeated, a small remnant only
reaching Trebigne. Five days later another Turkish force was defeated
in the same locality. Elated with success, the Insurgents on the 14th
of September made an attack upon Biletj, but were routed by a
greatly superior force. On the same day they captured the Turkish



384 EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.

earthworks at Bobe, twenty miles northeast of Trebigne, and pursued
the garrison as far as Lubigne, where they seized a large quantity of
stores and ammunition.

While these events were transpiring, the foreign consuls assembled
at Mostav, for the purpose of conferring with Server Pasha and the
chiefs of the insurgents ; but the latter, not making their appearance,
the consuls sought the insurgents in their strongholds, and advised
them to submit to the Porte. Their efforts at pacification, however,
met with no success. A number of Herzegovinians, Avho had fled into
Austria, addressed a manifesto to the consuls, setting forth their
grievances, declining the mediation of the European powers, and
demanding their liberation from Turkish rule.

In the early part of September the following "firman" or edict was
issued by the Sultan to the governor-generals of the provinces:

" There is no doubt that the welfare of the country and the well-
being of its inhabitants have for their general basis the security of
property, life, and honor, of each one. This security can only be
obtained by a good and impartial administration of justice. This was
the sense of our last imperial hasti to our Grand Vizier, which read as
follows: *As the good administration of affairs in our Empire, the
welfare of the country and the happiness of its inhabitants, is the
object of all our care, it is our wish that an eflTective protection and
equal justice be enjoyed by all classes of society in such a manner
that the rights and the honor of all be secured. As the ministry of
justice represents one of the most important departments of state, it
is absolutely necessary that it proceed in conformity with our well-
meaning intentions. We, therefore, order that these intentions be
proclaimed and be fully executed.' Our orders and our later instruc-
tions are only issued to-day, in order to confirm our above-mentioned
sovereign intentions. Their execution depends on the honest and
energetic efforts which must be displayed by all dignitaries, whether
they are judges or administrative officers, as well as on their willing-
ness to produce a beneficial change of affairs. All public officers, and
particularly those who are intrusted with judicial functions at the
courts of the Scheri, and the civil courts, either in the capital or in
provinces, must particularly see to it that the trials are conducted
impartially, and in accordance with the laws of the Scheri and the
other laws in general, that all our subjects without distinction may



EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.



385




386 EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.

enjoy the greatest security and justice. This is our decided imperial
wish.' After the preceding was brought to the notioe of each one of
my Governor-Generals, our present sovereign order proceeded from
our imperial divan, and at the same time that you in your position as
Governor-General will receive this order you will also receive a list of
those acts which may have been committed contrary to the laws of my
Empire, and with the knowledge of all the world. Upon the receipt
of my imperial firman, you will hasten to bring these instructions to
the knowledge of the judiciary as well as the administrative officers,
and all of our minor ofiicers, in the capital and all the districts of the
vilayet, and you will see that our orders are promptly executed. It
is understood that the ofiicers will be treated according to their good
or bad behavior. The Sublime Porte will take such measures as
may seem necessary to keep informed on the course of public affairs,
as you know that the least infringement or neglect of our imperial
orders will bring on you a heavy responsibility ; you must act accord-
ingly. You will take care to bring to the notice of our Sublime Porte
all those ofiicers who act contrary to our command."

In October an imperial ordinance was promulgated, granting to
agricultural populations an exemption from one-fourth of the tithes
previously imposed, and relieving them from the payment of taxes
already in arrears. It was further provided that there should be a
representative administrative council, composed of delegates chosen by
the communities ; and it was promised that their reasonable demands
should receive respectful attention, the information obtained from
them serving as a basis for reform measures. It was announced, in
conclusion, that the gradual realization of these reforms had been
decided upon.

On the 27th of October General Ignatiev had an interview with the
Grand Vizier, ]\Iahmud Pasha, in the course of which he remarked :
" The Czar regrets that the insurrection in Herzegovina has not yet
come to an end. He ascribes this delay to the poor actions of the tri-
bunal recently appointed in Mostar, as well as to the low degree of
security enjoyed by the insurgents who return to their allegiance.
These, on the contrary, are subject to annoyances on the part of the
authorities. Thus, also, the delay in the execution of the promised
reform is a cause of the continuance of the insurrection. It is to be
hoped that an improvement in these affairs will shortly take place ; if



EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR- 387

not, he cannot see the Christians of the Ottoman Empire continually
exposed to persecutions, and the Powers will be forced to intervene."

While negotiations were going on, the fighting continued with vary-
ing success, until the advance of winter compelled a temporary cessa-
tion of active military operations. In November a victory was gained
by the Herzegovinians at Gatchko, where they captured thiee hundred
rifles, fifty tons of ammunition, and a provision train, destined for
Govansko.

On the 12th of December another edict was issued by the Sultan, in
"which the following provisions were contained :

" The lawsuits between Mohammedans and non-Mohammedans will
be turned over to the civil courts. No one will be imprisoned without
a trial. Bad treatment of prisoners will not be permitted. The rights
of possession of all subjects shall be secured, the gensdarme shall be
selected from the best inhabitants of each town, and socage shall be
abolished. All religious heads shall have the right to the free exercise
of their religions, and all public offices shall be opened to non-Moham-
medan subjects. Testamentary provisions shall be respected. All just
complaints and wishes shall be brought, unhindered, before the Porte.
The powers of the governors and other high officials are to be cut down.
All the provisions in the firman are for the benefit of loyal subjects
only. The Grand Vizier will take the necessary measures to bring
these reforms into execution, while a special commission will watch
over them."

On the 20th of December the Sultan appointed a commission, com-
prising all State Ministers, and a number of Mohammedans and Chris-
tians, who were entrusted with the duty of seeing to the execution of
the new reform. But the insurgent leaders in Herzegovina having
consulted with representative Christians from Bosnia, resolved not to
pay any regard to the Sultan's promises of reform, but to continue the
conflict until the Turks should be driven out.

On the 18th of January, 1876, an engagement occurred between the
insurgents and the Turks on the road between Eagusa and Trebinje,
in which the insurgents claimed that they had defeated the Turks and
inflicted a severe loss upon them. The road between Ragusa and Tre-
binje fell into the hands of the insurgents.

On the 11th of February the Sultan of Turkey issued a decree for
the execution of the reforms and concessions demanded by Austria and



388 EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.

the other European Powers, to improve the condition of the Christian
people in Bosnia and Herzegovina ; but the chief leaders of the Herze-
govinian insurgents, Peko Paulovitch and Lazar Socica, determined to
reject these concessions, and the Austrian Consul, who was sent to
obtain a pacification, failed utterly in his mission. The above decree
was supplemented by another, granting general amnesty to all insur-
gents who within four weeks should return to their homes ; and the
Turkish government further promised to rebuild, at its own cost, all
churches and houses which had been destroyed. The insurgents, how-
ever, refused to place any faith in these offers, and a meeting of a
number of their leaders was held at Suttorina, February 26th. A mani-
festo was issued, in which they pointed out the Porte's former failures
to carry out promised reforms, and declared that the resistance of the
Mohammedans would baffle every reform ; the Mohammedans were
even expected to revolt if an attempt were made to execute the reforms.
The insurgents desired full freedom and independence; this, or nothing.
This paper contained an expression of thanks to Austria for the care
she had taken of the Herzegovinian refugees, and closed with an avowal
that help was expected from Russia.

While the diplomatic agents were trying to bring about a peaceful
understanding, military movements were generally suspended, and only
a few engagements took place. The most important of these occurred
on the 6th of March. Five battalions of Turks under the command
of Selim Pasha, going to provision the fortress of Goransko, were
attacked and defeated by the insurgents under Paulovitch, with the
loss, it was said, of 800 roen killed, 675 rifles and four lifled cannon.
The Turks were pursued as far as Lipnik, four hours' march. The
insurgents had in this engagement 1,150 men, and claimed to have lost
only ten killed and twenty-five wounded.

Liubibraties, who had figured conspicuously in the early days of the
insurrection, had withdrawn to Ragusa, where he actively agitated the
insurgent cause through the newspapers, and by the help of their cor-
respondents. He collected a small force comprising Prussians, Serbs,
and adventurers from Poland, France, and Italy, and having embarked
them in detachments from different points, landed, towards the close of
February, at Klek. Keeping close to the Austrian border, he marched
toward Lin})uska. On the 5th of March he repulsed a company of
Bashi-Bazouks, who were out on a reconnoissauce. On the 11th of



EVENTS PRE'CEDING THE WAR. 389

March he reached the neighborhood of Imoschi, in Dalmatia, where
he and the members of his staff were arrested upon Austrian territory.
The greater part of his command were dispersed, but eventually joined
other bodies of insurgents.

On Friday, April 28, the Turkish troops encountered the insurgents
intercepting the road to Presjeka, and dispersed them after four hours'
fighting. The convoys of provisions were victoriously conveyed into
Niksics, and the troops afterwards returned to Presjeka, On Saturday
morning they were attacked by the insurgents, who had received rein-
forcements. The fighting lasted until evening, and the insurgents were
compelled to take to flight. During these two days the insurgents lost
between three and four hundred killed and wounded. On Sunday
morning, having ascertained that the insurgents, who had received fur-
ther reinforcements, were intrenched in the forest near Presjeka, on the
side of Piva, in order to cut off the line of retreat, the Turkish troops
attacked them, and after sanguinary fighting, which lasted until eight
o'clock in the evening without intermission the insurgents were routed.
The victory was decisive, and the losses of the insurgents were consider-
able, being estimated at about one thousand killed and wounded. The
Turks, moreover, captured a large Cjuantity of arms, and returned to
Gatchko without further fighting.

On Saturday, May 6, a Mussulman mob, armed with clubs and
knives, attacked and murdered the German and French Consuls, Mr.
Henry Abbott and his brother-in-law, M. Paul Moulin, who had taken
refuge in a mosque. They had joined the American Consul in assum-
ing the custody of a young Christian girl, who had been removed from
her home for conversion to the jNIohammedan religion. The German
Consul was a British subject, born at Salonica, and married to a Greek
lady ; he was also connected by marriage with the American Consul,
Hadji Lazaro. The Turkish government at once promised full inquiry
and satisfaction in the punishment of the murderers. Six of them were
condemned and publicly executed ; fifty more were arrested for taking
part in the riot. This outrage aroused an intense excitement through-
out the Christian world, and a joint foreign commission of inquiry pro-
ceeded to the spot. France, Germany, Austria, and Italy sent vessels
of war to Salonica, and England despatched a gun-boat to accompany
the commission which the Turkish government sent to investigate the
affair.



390

HP



EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.



isc'if iii,iiiL<".f/fl'''w;-i




EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR. 391

In the last days of May an abrupt end was put to the reign of Abdul
Aziz by his subjects. The deposition of Abdul Aziz was not brought
about by a popular revolution, but by the action of the Ministers,
pushed to extremity by the absolute refusal of the Sultan to advance
money from his privy i:)urse for the exhausted war treasury. Upon
his refusing to alter his decision, he was informed that the people were
dissatisfied with his government, and that he was deposed. Immediately
afterwards he was conducted under guard to the Tophana Palace, where
he bled to death from wounds inflicted by himself in both arms.

The Turkish popular movement which caused this revolution seems
to have originated in the excitement which followed upon the Salouica
massacre. For a long time the Softas, or Mussulman students of
theology and law, who constitute the " Young Turkey" party, had
been agitating for internal reforms and more energetic action con-
cerning the insurrection in the Herzegovina. They objected to the
acceptance of the Andrassy Note, as they regarded Montenegro as the
cause of much of Turkey's trouble, and they advocated a decisive
course of action against that Principality. The consternation into
which all classes in Constantinople were thrown by the news of the
Salonica outrage gave them at length the opportunity for which they
had been waiting. On May 7th a crowd of them, headed by their
professors and clergy, gathered in the streets. So menacing was their
behavior that Dervish Pasha ordered the Sultan's guards and the
troops in the city to be kept in their respective barracks ready for any
emergency. The ironclads which were at that time in the Bosphorus
were ordered to draw up in front of the palace and to point their
loaded cannon against Beschichtach, Orta Keni, and Arnaout Keni,
which were the suburbs from which any attack of the Softas might
be expected. Next day, however. Dervish Pasha was turned out of his
office as Minister of War and was sent away to the Governorship of
Diarbeker. The Softas, whose organization included 20,000 active men
in the Turkish capital, were left to agitate against Mahmoud Pasha,
then Grand Vizier. Day by day their demands grew louder and
more persistent. They declared that Midhat Pasha should be Grand
Vizier, and that politician was actually summoned to the palace.
But his demands or conditions were so extensive that eventually he
was dismissed, and a kind of compromise was oifered by the ejection
of Mahmoud Pasha, and the appointment of Mahmoud Ruchdi in his



392 EVENTS PRECEDING THE WAR.

place. Meanwhile Hussein Avni was appointed Minister of War, and
Abdul Kerim Nadar Pasha Avas appointed generalissimo of the army.

The personal demeanor of Abdul Aziz showed that he was very
uneasy. He changed his residence from palace to palace in a singularly



Online LibraryR. Grant BarnwellThe Russo-Turkish War; comprising an account of the Servian insurrection, the dreadful massacre of Christians in Bulgaria and other Turkish atrocities, with the transactions and negotiations of the contending powers preliminary to the present struggle ... together with a history and description of R → online text (page 31 of 44)