Samuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) Smucker.

The life and reign of Nicholas the First, emperor of Russia online

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Pruth. Yassy and Buckharest, the capitals of Mol-
davia and Wallachia, were immediately occupied;
and the two principalities placed under the military
government of Count Pahlen. General Paskiewitz,
about the same period, attacked and took the city of
Kars, together with the fortress of Poti. These
victories were followed up, on the 4th of September,
by the capture of the city of Akhalzik.


The great army of the czar, under "Wittgenstein,
now numbering 150,000 men, continued to advance
into the Turkish territory; and on the 8th of June,
1828, having crossed the Danube at Satunovo, near
its mouth, it at once approached the city of Shumla.
The situation of the fortifications of this city,
placed on a high and precipitous range of rocky
eminences, rendered their assault one of great
difficulty. Their position seems as if intended
by nature for an intrenched camp. The extent of
the works is about 8000 paces, and they were
defended by a very deep ditch. The Russians
advanced to the attack with great confidence.
The place is approachable only through marshes
and ravines. The attack was commenced and
continued by Wittgenstein with extraordinary
fury; but he met with an unexpected degree of
fortitude and resistance on the part of the Turks.
The Russians, led on by Nicholas in person, were
brought up repeatedly to the attack, but to no pur-
pose. Meantime the besieging and blockading
force began rapidly to dwindle away under the
effect of sickness and exposure to the heat. Dar-
ing the months of July and August, 15,000 men
fell victims to disease and the climate. On the
10th of September, hearing of the advance of the
grand vizier with an army of 15,000 picked men for


the relief of Shumla, the Russians withdrew from
that city.

They were more successful iu their attack upon
the city of Varna. Menchikoff had laid siege to
this fortress with a large army on the 6th of
August. But after the forces which had at-
tempted the capture of Shumla were despatched to
the assistance of the army of Menchikoff, the pros-
pects and the valour of the besieged became at
once utterly hopeless. Besides, the position of
Varna was less favourable for defence, and the
works were inferior in strength, to those of the
latter fortress. But even then a successful re-
sistance might probably have been made by the
Turks, were it not for the fact, that the unac-
countable apathy and want of energy which were
displayed by the Turkish generals, afford satisfac-
tory proof that treason and bribery had much to
do with deciding the fortunes of the day. On the
llth of October, Jussuf Pasha, the commandant of
Varna, surrendered to the Russian general; and
with this successful event, on the side of the in-
vaders, the campaign of 1828 terminated.

As soon as Varna was occupied by his victorious
troops, Nicholas returned as a conqueror, crowned
with laurels and trophies of triumph, to his exult-
ing capital. His whole journey, from the seat of


war, seemed like a triumphal procession; and on
his arrival at St. Petersburg, congratulations, festi-
vals, and acclamations, long and rapturous, awaited
him from the obsequious inhabitants, the court, and
the diplomatic corps, who dwelt in that city.

The campaign of 1829 opened under unfavour-
able auspices for Russia ; and yet it terminated, quite
unaccountably, in one of the most fortunate trea-
ties the treaty of Adrianople which had ever
been consummated by Russia.

During the previous campaign, the czar having
been present in the camp, the commanders of the
Russian forces were placed under a most disagree-
able restraint. They did not dare to refuse the
utmost obedience to the suggestions of the sove-
reign ; and yet, they often were convinced that
those suggestions were unwise and imprudent.
Thus the inconsiderate haste and urgency of the
czar pccasioned the loss of 1400 men, in attacking
Omar Vrione on the heights of Kurtesse ; although
the general in command strongly remonstrated
against the hazardous temerity of the attack.

No such disadvantage as this operated against
the efficiency of the Russian generals in 1829 ; and
as soon as spring opened, General Diebitsch dis-
played his usual energy, in the complete reorgani-

zat ion of the army. He was now at liberty to act



purely on strategic grounds. lie found himself at
the head of 68,000 men ; but many of these troops
were unfit for service, in consequence of the severe
suffering which they had undergone during the pre-
ceding year. The greatest difficulties were presented
in the commissariat department. Thousands of
wagons were necessary for the service of the army,
which were to be drawn by oxen. . On the south-
ern side of the Balkan Mountains, over which he
must pass, it was necessary to provide camels from
Asia, to transport the provisions.

But the unconquerable energy of General Die-
bitsch, who now held the supreme command, over-
came every difficulty. On the side of the Turks
the most unaccountable apathy and inactivity pre-
vailed. They neglected to repair the works of
Silistria, damaged as they were by time, and by
the various assaults which they had withstood in
successive sieges. And yet the value of this fortress
to the Turks was incalculable.

General Diebitsch arrived before Silistria on the
17th of May, and immediately commenced a vigor-
ous assault upon the works. The Turks defended
themselves with great bravery. The greatest defect
on their side appears to have been, not want of
fortitude or resolution in the soldiery, but want of
skill and military talents in their commanders.


The place was finally taken by means of the vast
mining and countermining, which were successfully
conducted by the besiegers. The efforts of the
Turks to resist the approaches of the Russians, dis-
played excessive want of skill in this department
of military science. Their countermines either did
not explode at all, or else they exploded at the
wrong time and place, and accomplished no good.
For six weeks, however, the Turks defended the
mouldering ramparts of the place ; and displayed on
many occasions the old heroism and desperate va-
lour of the Moslem warrior.

At length, however, the vigorous attacks of the
besiegers, and the want of provisions in the garri-
son, overcame the resistance of the Turks ; and, on
the 30th of June, Silistria capitulated, and was
invested by the Russian army, on condition that
the garrison were to march out, in possession of
their arms and ammunition.

Having obtained possession of Silistria, the next
step on the part of the Russians, was the pas-
sage of the Balkan Mountains, which intercepted
their route toward Adrianople and Constantinople.
These ranges of mountains were spread over a vast
extent of territory, and the march across them was
several hundred miles in extent. The passes in
the mountains were frequently deep gorges, which


might have been defended with great success by
the Turks, had they been disposed to exert them-
selves to do so. But here again, the unaccount-
able apathy of the Turkish commanders, in not
defending the passes of the Balkan, has given rise
to the powerful suspicion, that the servants of the
sultan had been bribed, by the gold of the invaders,
to facilitate their advance.

Previous to entering on this memorable march,
the Russians were compelled to meet the Turks in
one great battle. This was the battle of Kosleftcha,
fought on the llth of July. On this occasion, Die-
bitsch met the Turkish forces, under the command
of the grand vizier in person. It was the most
furiously-contested conflict in the whole war. The
Turks rushed to the attack with prodigious hero-
ism and resolution. Their onslaught on the Rus-
sian lines displayed such ferocity, and determina-
tion to conquer or to die, as to have recalled to
mind, the most renowned displays of Moslem va-
lour in the most illustrious period of their annals.
But after a conflict of some hours, the superior
military skill of the Russian general again became
apparent, and the troops of the grand vizier, be-
coming entangled in the woods which flanked their
lines, became confused and unmanageable. The
route soon became general, and the troops of the


Turks fled on all sides, leaving their camp, their
ammunition, and the victory, in the hands of their

While these operations were going on, in the in-
terior of the Russian territory, Diebitsch had ordered
a naval force to sail for the purpose of securing a
dep6t on the Black Sea; where his troops, after
having effected the passage of the Balkan range,
might find temporary security and refreshment.
For this purpose, Simboli, a port of the Black Sea,
had been taken by a naval coup-de-main. It became
a dep6t for the accumulation of provisions and am-
munition for the use of the Russian army, after
their passage of the Balkan, and as such, its pos-
session was one of the most fortunate and valuable
events of the campaign.

The range of the Balkan Mountains had been re-
garded for four centuries, as the great bulwark of
the Ottoman Empire, against the invasion of its
northern foes. It was presumed that their vast ex-
tent, and the difficulties and perils which attended
the passage of an army through their numerous,
narrow, and dangerous gorges, when properly de-
fended, formed a barrier and a defence, which would
preclude the possibility of a successful attack from
that quarter. The amazing apathy and ignorance
of the Turkish commanders, Hussein Pasha, and


Redschid Pasha, on this occasion rendered this cal-
culation fallacious. Diebitsch divided his forces
into four divisions. The first, under General Kras-
sewski, was left to watch Shumla, the only fortress
still remaining in the possession of the Turks, north
of the Balkan ; the second, under General Roth,
was ordered to pass along the road from Varna to
Burgas ; the third, under Rudiger, was to cross the
mountains from Pravadi to Aidos ; and the fourth,
under Count Pahlen, was to operate as a reserve to
the two preceding divisions. On the 18th of July
the passage began. The soldiers marched in linen
trousers and in uniform, carrying in their knapsacks,
a single shirt and a pair of trousers, together with
provisions for ten days. All other baggage was
left behind. The Russian commander-in-chief ex-
pected to meet a vigorous and perilous resistance to
his passage over the mountains ; but in this natural
supposition he was disappointed. It is true that on
several occasions, when the nature of the ground
permitted, the Turkish troops were brought into
battle against the invading army. Thus, the grard
vizier attacked the division of General Rudiger,
when they approached Aidos ; but the Turks soon
fled with the utmost precipitation, and their tents,
provisions, and ammunition, fell into the hands of
the Russians. Thus also, at Jamboli, a detachment


of one thousand Russians was attacked by a Turkish
corps fifteen thousand strong ; but instead of having
been cut to pieces, as they expected, they success-
fully resisted their assailants, who eventually retired
toward Adrianople.

At length, on the 19th of August, the Russian
army, having succeeded in crossing the Balkan
Mountains with infinitely less peril and losses than
they had anticipated, were greeted with the sight of
the four lofty minarets of the Sultan Selim's Mosque,
which tower above the palaces and fortifications
of Adrianople. They approached that city as con-
querors, and their presence struck terror into the
hearts of the pusillanimous and dismayed Moslems.

At the time the Russians appeared before the
walls of this city, it contained about twenty thou-
sand combatants; and detachments from various
portions of the Turkish Empire were hastening to
its assistance. So much reduced by the various
casualties of war had the army of Diebitsch be-
come, that, on arriving before Adrianople, and
ascertaining that relief was rapidly approaching it,
his first thought was a precipitate retreat. But
before executing this purpose, he determined to try
the eifect of negotiation on the commandant of the
fortifications. He was at once astounded at the
manner in which his tenders were received. The


Turks, beholding the army of the invaders en-
camped in the plain around the city, after having
successfully triumphed over the perils of the Balkan,
were overcome with terror, and regarded the army
of Diebitsch as an invincible force calculated to ex-
cite the utmost apprehensions. Thus, the Russian
general, by carefully concealing his weakness; by
hiding from view the fact that by sickness, and other
losses, his army had at last been actually reduced to
20,000 effective men ; by assuming the most arro-
gant tone of superiority ; and by acting on the fears
and the ignorance of the Turks, succeeded, to his
own surprise, and to the astonishment of all who
were acquainted with the real condition and rela-
tive strength of the parties, in negotiating the
celebrated treaty of Adrianople, which terminated
the war, and which won for Russia the most extra-
ordinary and monstrous concessions from the re-
presentatives of the sultan.

By the treaty of Adrianople, Nicholas obtained
every thing which he then thought it prudent to de-
mand from the sultan. By it, he acquired Anapa
and Poti, together with a very considerable extent
of territory on the Black Sea. He obtained a por-
tion of the pashalic of Akhilsha, together with the
fortresses of Akhilsha and Akhilkillae, and the pos-
session of the valuable islands which stud the mouth


of the Danube. He stipulated for the destruction
of the Turkish fortress of Giurgievo ; and the total
abandonment by Turkey of the right bank of the
St. George branch of the Danube, to the distance
of several miles from the river. He attempted a
virtual separation of the provinces of Moldavia and
"Wallachia from the sultan, by sanitary regulations
which were intended to append them to Russia.
He stipulated that the sultan should confirm the
internal regulations for the government of those
provinces, which Russia had established during the
period of her military occupancy of them. He con-
tracted for the removal of many thousand families
of Armenians from the Turkish provinces of Asia ;
thus depopulating whole districts. He established
for Russian subjects, residing in Turkey, an immu-
nity from all responsibility to the authority of the
sultan ; and burdened the latter with a stupendous
tribute, under the plea of indemnity for the ex-
penses incurred by Russia in prosecuting the war.

The extraordinary terms of this treaty were dic-
tated by General Diebitsch, under the immediate
direction of the czar, at a time when his army
amounted to but 20,000 effective men ; when more
than 30,000 combatants could have been mustered
to the immediate defence of Adrianople ; and when
the communication of the invading army with its



depot at Simboli, might at any moment have been
cut off, by a little energy displayed on the part of
the Turkish commanders. In fact, so isolated in
the heart of a hostile country had Diebitsch and his
army then become, that they might have even been
totally annihilated, had the Turks not displayed the
most groundless terror, and the most absurd cow-
ardice. That even a short period of politic delay
would have worked the ruin of the Russian forces,
is evident from the following facts. During the
campaign of 1829, before the arrival of the Russian
army before Adrianople, their losses by sickness
and death had already amounted to 60,000 men.
Only one-seventh of the original army returned to
St. Petersburg, to tell the wonderful story of their
unexpected and undeserved success. From March
to July, 1829, 28,000 deaths occurred among 81,000
troops ; and of the 6000 sick men left by Diebitsch
at Adrianople, after his retreat, 5200 died.

Yet with such facts before them, the Turkish
plenipotentiaries at Adrianople concluded a treaty,
which, under such peculiar circumstances, is with-
out a parallel in history. From the terms of the
treaty it will appear, what vast concessions Turkey
made to the aggressive power and spirit of the
czar. The sultan in effect granted, as the price of
a dishonourable peace, whatever his rapacious foe


chose to demand. And with this conlusive evidence
before him of the craven weakness of the sultan,
and of his inability to contend with the encroach-
ments of his northern rival, however unjust, it is
not singular that Nicholas should have termed the
sultan "the sick man;" and should have confidently
looked forward to the day, as not being very far
distant, when the triumphant and invincible eagle
of Russia should supplant the waning crescent on
the glittering minarets of St. Sophia's mosque;
and the ancient and crumbling throne of the Con-
stantines, become an appendage to the sceptre of
the new-born majesty of the Czars.

While these events were transpiring in Turkey,
General Paskiewitz was adding new lustre to his
reputation in Asia, and extending still wider the
dominions of his master. On the 1st of July, that
general attacked the city of Erzeroum, defended by
Hagki Pasha, and took it by storm. He captured
the person of that prince, together with thirty-one
pieces of cannon, nineteen standards, and fifteen
hundred prisoners. On the 5th of July he took
Hassan-Exhale, the key of Erzeroum, the capital of
the province of Turkomania. These acquisitions
served still more to consolidate the power of the
czar in his Asiatic dominions.









THE proclamation of the treaty of Adrianople at
St. Petersburg was the signal for extraordinary con-
gratulations and festivities in that city, and through-
out the Russian dominions. But the progress of
events did not allow, at that moment, much leisure
for the indulgence of these pleasing sequents of a
triumphant peace.

In the latter part of 1829, Nicholas was crowned
at Warsaw, and opened the Polish Diet in person.
Notwithstanding the cruel aggressions of Russia on
the liberties of Poland, the Diet still retained some
slight show of freedom and power ; and the linger-
ing possession of these had excited the bitter jea-
lousy and hostility of the emperor. Accordingly,


in an address which he delivered at the opening of
the Diet, he gave utterance to some sentiments in
reference to the greater restriction of the liberty of
the press ; the publication of the discussions of the
Diet, which should be kept secret; and defending
the cruelties which had been committed by the
Grand Duke Constautine ; all of which gave much
offence to the members of the Diet.

Just at this dangerous crisis, news was received
of the French revolution of 1830. The outrages
committed by Constantine upon every rank, sex,
and age of the unfortunate Poles, had driven their
minds to desperation; and an insurrection broke
forth at "Warsaw immediately upon the reception of
the report of the movement in the French capital,
which resulted in elevating Louis Philippe one of
the most unprincipled of men to the throne of
the barricades. The Grand Duke Constantine was
compelled to flee from his palace, and take refuge
among his guards. The Polish hussars seized the
arsenal. A provisional government was immedi-
ately formed, at the head of which was placed
Prince Chartoriski. The command of the Polish
army was intrusted to Chlopicki, who was also
named Dictator. The Diet was then convoked for
the 18th of December, 1830.

On the breaking out of this revolution, Nicholas,


who had returned to his capital immediately after
his coronation at Warsaw, published a manifesto
couched in the most haughty language. "The
Poles," says he, "who after so many misfortunes
were enjoying peace and prosperity under the sha-
dow of our power, precipitate themselves anew into
the abyss of revolution and calamity, are an assem-
blage of credulous beings, who, although already
seized with terror at the thought of the chastise-
ment which awaits them, dare to dream for a few
moments of victory, and to propose conditions to
us, their lawful sovereign." Query: Whence did
the lawfulness of his sovereignty over Poland arise ?
Answer : From the lawless aggressions and unprin-
cipled usurpations of Catherine IE. ; who, without
the slightest shadow of right or title, invaded the
land, and by the sheer force of greater military
power, appropriated to herself the sovereignty of a
people, over whom she had as much legal power, as
she possessed over the inhabitants of the moon !
And that title, and that alone, was the one inherited
and possessed by Nicholas himself.

But by this bold insurrection the patriots of Po-
land had suddenly placed themselves in a position
of desperate danger. The most enthusiastic of
them could scarcely hope to succeed against the
Colossus of the North, so recently triumphant over


the monarchs both of Persia and of Turkey. Never-
theless, having thrown themselves into the perilous
breach, they resolved to acquit themselves as be-
came the patriots and the heroes that they were.
Prince Radzivil was appointed generalissimo of the
Polish armies, and Chlopicki, who had resigned
the dictatorship, assisted him in his duties.

In truth, a halo of undying glory clusters around
this last great struggle of chivalrous Sarmatia, to
recover her long-lost liberties; and to shake off
from her breast the prodigious incubus of Russian
tyranny which crushed her to the earth.* Suffer-
ing, as she had done for many generations, all the
unspeakable evils of misgovernment, of foreign rule,
and of unprincipled extortion ; it was natural that
an unquenchable spirit of revolt should agitate and
inflame the bosoms of her patriotic children. Once
more, therefore, the spirit of the immortal Koski-
usco seemed to animate them ; and the brave, and
the fair, and the chivalrous Poles girded themselves
again, for the last time, to the heroic task of tri-
umphing over their hereditary tyrants ; or of offer-
ing their lives and their fortunes, as a final sacrifice,

* The insurrection which broke out in the small republic of Cra-
cow, the very title of which state was a satire upon free govern-
ments, was no exception to the above statement ; as it was merely a
local, and not a national movement. The present was the last Polish


upon the ruined altar of their country's liberties.
The struggle was a short one, but it was desperate ;
yet it eventually resulted in the realization of the
worst fears of those, who most sincerely loved the
cause of Poland and of freedom.

On receiving the first information of this revolt,
Nicholas became enraged beyond measure, and dic-
tated the manifesto already referred to. To con-
quer the audacious Poles now became with him, no
longer simply a matter of interest or of security ;
it became a work of vengeance, and a source of that
delicious rapture, of which triumphant tyrants alone
are susceptible, when they succeed in crushing the
inborn aspirations of all human souls, however long
and however deeply they may have been enslaved
their eternal and unconquerable aspirations to be
free ! He immediately gave orders, in the begin-
ning of February, 1831, for Field-Marshal Die-
bitsch, the recent victor of Silistria and Adrianople,
to march upon Poland with an army of 120,000
veteran troops, and four hundred pieces of heavy

' Immediately on the breaking out of hostilities,
the Poles had published to the world a manifesto,
in which they set forth their grievances as fol-
lows : " The union of the crown of an autocrat,
and of a constitutional king, is one of those politi-

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Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) SmuckerThe life and reign of Nicholas the First, emperor of Russia → online text (page 7 of 23)