Origin of the War - Menschikoff - Gortchakoff - Omar Pasha
The writer of European history, in narrating the events occurring between the years 1815 and 1855, has been spared the painful task of recording the devastating effects which attend upon the battle field. About the middle of the former year a great battle was fought on the plains of Waterloo, and was followed by a peace which had continued uninterrupted until the commencement of the year 1854. Although, in the years 1848-9 there occurred in many parts of Europe severe struggles betwixt the governors and the governed,— and thrones and potentates tottered and fell,—yet those struggles were confined to each separate nation, and each was allowed to settle the difference without foreign interference and foreign aid. During the latter part of the year 1853, however, the peaceful horizon of Europe became overclouded, and the minds of many were uneasy at the aspect presented in the aggressive policy pursued by Russia towards her weak neighboor, the Ottoman empire.
Prior to the commencement of the last century, down even to the present time, the policy pursued by Russia has been signally marked by that of aggression. Peter the Great, who ascended the throne of Russia in 1689, was animated with unbounded ambition, and with a determination to extend the boundaries of his country on every hand. He assumed the title of "Emperor of all the Russias!" and, with an earnestness that would have been praiseworthy in a better cause, he persevered in the accomplishment of this his darling object. Surrounded by a race of rude Sclavonians, he aspired to be considered as a reformer of manners; and, although he had many faults, yet he merits the title of one of the greatest men of his age and country. It is not, however, our intention to expatiate on the history of Peter I. Suffice it to say, that he at that early period had designs of encroaching on the Ottoman empire, and carried out those designs by seizing a portion of its territories; although these territories were afterwards reconquered by the Turks. In 1717 Peter sent a distinguished personage to Khiva, eastward of the Caspian, apparently on a friendly mission, but with secret instructions to seize upon certain gold mines which he believed existed there; but his treachery was defeated by the cunning of the Khivians, who put to death all the members of his embassy. His next attempt, which was on the territories of Persia, was not more successful; although he had at one time gained possession of four provinces in that country, yet the terrible Nadir, who assumed the title of Shah of Persia, soon compelled Peter to relinquish his newly-pained possessions. Peter died in 1725, and was succeeded by his widow, Catherine, who was originally a peasant girl.
Catherine I. reigned but two years, and was succeeded by the notorious Catherine II. This empress reigned 34 years; and, if we may credit history, she exhibited traits of character throughout her long reign at variance with those we generally expect to find in the female sex. During the short reign of her predecessor, t&e Osserians, a pagan tribe in the Caucasian mountains, had become tributary to Russia; but the cruel tyranny of Catherine II. over the tribes near the Caucasus was such, that the Circassians sought refuge in the nearly inaccessible fastnesses of their mountains; the Nogays looked for shelter and safety under the Khan of the Crimea—then an independent Tartar state; the Kabardans of Circassia forsook Christianity for Islam, preferring the Turkish to Russian rule; and the Kalmucs took the astonishing resolution, in 1771, of removing in a body to their original territory in Chinese Tartary. Nothing, perhaps, is recorded in history more wonderful than this voluntary journey of 500,000 human beings to a distance of 2,000 miles, as the means of fleeing from Russian despotism. At a later period disturbances broke out in Georgia—a fruitful country southward of the Caucasus, between the Black and Caspian Seas—Persia and Turkey struggling for its possession, when Russia stepped in, offering to assist the one in opposition to the other, and, eventually, took Georgia to herself as the reward of her good intentions.
During these transactions in Asia, Catherine was not lukewarm in her designs on other portions of Europe. Poland had become disturbed on account of differences regarding the succession to the crown, when Catherine managed to place one of her dependents on the throne; at the same time scattering her agents all over that unhappy country. Turkey at length became alarmed at the aggressive spirit which animated the Empress, for the acquisition of Poland would place Russia too near the Ottoman territories; and the sultan, having received many insults and injuries from Russia, declared war against that power in 1769. England took part with Russia, and sent a fleet to assist her against Turkey; and the results were so disastrous to the Ottoman army, that Turkey was compelled to submit to several humbling concessions, contained in the treaty of Kainardji. By this treaty Russia obtained the free navigation of the Black Sea, the passage of the Dardanelles, the privilege of having one ship of war in those quarters, and the possession of Azof, Taganrog, Kertch, and Kinburn; she also acquired the extension of her frontier to the river Bug or Boug; assumed the sovereignty of Kabarda, near the Caucasus, and obtained the relinquishment by Turkey of suzerain power over the Khan of the Crimea—a stroke of policy which Russia took good care afterward to turn to her own advantage. In the year 1776 she constructed a line of posts, embracing nearly thirty fortresses, from the Black Sea to the Caspian. Some few years later, the Christian princes of Georgia, Imetria, and Mingrelia—all on the southern base of the Caucasus—wrought upon by Russian gifts or overawed by Russian threats, relinquished their allegiance to Turkey, and became subject to the Russian yoke; so also did several petty chiefs in the principalities in the Persian dominions.
By the Treaty of Kainardji the Crimea had become independent of Turkey; and in a short time Catherine began to manifest her protection over the Khan in that extraordinary way which we may expect the wolf to exhibit when pretending to protect the lamb. It became evident at this tune that Russia had designs of obtaining possession of Constantinople, and war was again begun betwixt Turkey and Russia. Pofemkin and Suvaroff spread their forces through tlie Caucasian region and other armies, under the pretence of protecting the Khan against the Turks, forcibly took possession of the Crimea, deposed the Khan, and put to death all the Tartar noblea who endeavoured to support the independence of their sea-girt peninsula. About this time Russia offered her protection to the voyvodes or princes of Moldavia and Wallachia, and so managed matters as to induce them to look up to her, rather than to the sultan, as a suzerain ; the Christians in Servia and Bulgaria were likewise encouraged to revolt, and claim her protection at what times they pleased, against the sultan,- all in defiance of any previously existing treaties. The seizure and slaughter in the Crimea took place in 1783; but before this there had been a treaty, signed at Constantinople in 1779, consisting of a few clauses, but it had little effect in settling the relations between the two countries. There was a commercial treaty made between Turkey and Russia in 1783 ; but Catherine took care not to declare her intention to seize the Crimea until after this treaty was signed. The city of Kherson was built at the mouth of the Dnieper, close upon the Turkish frontier; and in 1783 Catherine made her public entry into the city, passing under a triumphal arch, on which was inscribed in Greek characters—" The way to Byzantium" The war was again renewed between Russia and Turkey; and the struggle was again unsuccessful on the part of Turkey, which was forced to sacrifice the territory between the rivers Bug and Dniester; to give up all control over Georgia and the adjacent provinces, and to allow Russia a certain claim to influence in other parts, without actual sovereignty.
While grasping these portions of territory in the South, Catherine was successfully pursuing the same policy in her empire toward the West. Poland's first dismemberment took place in 1772. It is firmly believed that Prussia was the first instigator of this nefarious project; and that a slice was presented to Austria as a bribe to gain her consent to the act of spoliation. According to the treaty of St. Petersburg, signed Aug. 6,1772, Russia grasped Polotsk, Vitepsk, Micislaf, and Polish Livonia and Prussia seized Malbbrg, Pomerania, Varmia, and parts of Culm and Great Poland; Austria helped herself to Galicia, with portions of Podolia and Sandomir; while poor Poland had to do as well as she could with what was left to her. Russia gained by the transaction 3440 leagues of territory, and 1,500,000 inhabitants. If Prussia was foremost in devising this first spoliation, Russia took good care to be the foremost in dictating those which followed. Unhappy Poland—exhausted alike by internal dissensions, external attacks, and foreign bribery —was doomed to become the prey of grasping despots, and, in 1793, the second partition was perpetrated, by which the Russian boundary was extended to the centre of Lithuania and Volhynia; while Prussia received the remainder of Great Poland and apart of Little Poland. Austria not having any share in this second spoliation. Poland had now dwindled down to about 4000 square miles. The noble and patriotic attempt of the brave Kosciusko to regain the liberties of his suffering country was unsuccessful, and brought on the third partition, in 1795, which erased Poland from the list of nations. Austria got Cracow and the country between the Pilitza, the Vistula, and the Bug; Prussia appropriated the country as far as the Niemen ; while Russia absorbed all the rest.
Paul and Alexander, during their reigns, followed the policy of their predecessors; and from 1796 to 1825 gained a larger accession of territory from Persia than from Turkey. Paul appears to have inherited from Catherine two great desires—one for a road to India through Persia, and the other a path to Constantinople through the Danubian principalities. During the first quarter of the present century there were several struggles between Russia and Persia, which generally resulted in loss of territory on the part of the latter, and consequent gain to the former. Georgia was annexed in 1800; Mingrelia and Imetria, in 1802; Sbeki, in 1805 ; and various other parts, in 1812 and 1814 Turkey enjoyed a few years of apparent peace after the death of Catherine; but the plots and dissensions which incessantly occurred in Moldavia, Wallachia and Servia, became so intolerable, that the sultan declared war against Russia in 1806. In 1804, during the complexity of European politics, Turkey narrowly escaped a snare. A friendly alliance was just on the point of being cemented "between Turkey and Russia; but the Sultan Selim looking cautiously at the clauses, luckily found one by which Alexander claimed, as part of the price of Russian friendliness, that all the subjects of the Porte professing the Greek religion should be placed under the immediate protection of Russia. The sultan refused to agree to this, and war was the consequence. Turkey was ill prepared for war; many of the rulers who were tributary to the sultan held aloof from assisting him, and several years were spent in war, which eventually terminated in the Treaty of Bucharest in 1812, by which the czar obtained Bessarabia, extending the Russian frontier westward from the Dniester to the Pruth,— securing the navigation of the Danube to merchant ships—and obtaining for his ships of war a right to ascend the Pruth up to its junction with the Danube. Alexander also succeeded in procuring an amnesty for the rebellious Servians who had aided him against Turkey; and stipulated for the demolition of the fortresses recently erected by the Turks in Servia. Thus was Turkey again humbled and despoiled by her overbearing and powerful neighbour.
Sweden was next singled out as a fit object for the northern autocrat to pounce upon. Under the pretence that this state had refused to close her ports tgainst England, during a disagreement betwixt Russia, and Great Britain, Alexander suddenly despatched an army to Finland before war had been declared; and when Sweden thereupon declared war, two years were spent in hostilities, which ended with the treaty of Friedrichsham, in 1809. Sweden, by this treaty, surrendered Finland, the whole of East Bothnia, and a part of West Bothnia. With her most fertile provinces, she lost more than one fourth of heir inhabitants. These proceedings were contrary to all the principles of justice and equity. Alexander invaded a neighbour's country without declaring war; and when the injured monarch resisted the encroachment, he was punished for his resistance by a great loss of his possessions.
The congress of Vienna, in 1815, settled the affairs of Europe, without interfering at all in the vast territories which Russia had grasped from Poland, Sweden, Turkey, and Persia; and she was left to govern those possessions as she thought proper. In 1825 Nicholas succeeded Alexander as Emperor of all the Russias; and he soon gave striking evidence that he was not inferior to any of his predecessors in his desire to extend the boundaries of Russia whenever and whereever he saw the least chance of success. Secret agents were spread through most of the neighbouring states, whose chief object appeared to be, to foment disturbances, and then Russia would offer her aid to either party, and thus further the object she had in view, by being well paid for her protection either in money or territory. She fomented disturbances in Greece, and offered her military aid to Turkey, to quell the disturbances; but when this was refused, Nicholas pretended to be offended. In July, 1827, England and France, induced probably by solicitude in behalf of Christian interests in Turkey, signed, with Russia, the Treaty of London, binding all three to insure a settlement of the Greek affairs in Turkey. A short time afterwards, Russia signed the convention of Akermann, with Turkey in which Russia pledged herself to a certain course which could not by any means be in agreement with the Treaty of London. The battle of Navarino; the destruction of the Turkish navy; the compelled acknowledgment of the independence of Greece—all were additions of strength to the czar; and when after two campaigns in 1828-9, the Treaty of Adrianople was signed, Turkey was compelled to yield Anapa and Poti, with a large extent of coast on the Black Sea—a part of the pachalik of Akhilska, the two fortresses of Akhibka and Akhilkillak—and the virtual possession of the islands formed by the mouths of the Danube. Nor was this the whole. Certain Turkish fortresses were to be abandoned; Moldavia and Wallachia were to be governed according to arrangements which Russia had introduced when she protected them; immunities were to be granted to Russian subjects in Turkey; an immense sum of money was to be paid to Russia for her expenses in the war—the czar holding possession of the Principalities and Silistria, until the money was paid. The Treaty of Turcomanchai, at this time, gave to Russia immense advantages in Persia, being the command over tha Caspian Sea and the Caucasian provinces.
Mehemet AH, the Pacha of Egypt, raised a serious revolt against the sultan; and the latter was so unwise as to accept Russian aid to subdue it. This was evidently a rash step, for when the Treaty of Unkiar-Skelessi was framed, a secret article was inserted, stipulating that Russia would forego the debt from the last war, if Turkey would close the Dardanelles against all vessels of war whatever, except those of Russia.
The position of Russia now became extremely menacing; and the other states began to be alarmed. They did not pay much regard to the treaty which prevented any Mohammedan from living in Moldavia and Wallachia, or any Turkish army from been stationed in those countries; nor had they much anxiety in regard to the Treaty of St. Petersburg in 1834, which increased the power of Russia in Asia Minor; but the closing of the Dardanelles was a serious matter ; and they became alarmed. Therefore, after much contention, an agreement was signed in London, in 1841, between Turkey, Russia, Austria, England, and France, that the Dardanelles should be closed to all ships of war so long as Turkey should remain at peace; and that Turkey should be allowed to solicit the naval aid of any of the five, in case of attack from any of the others. This agreement, as will be afterwards percieived, had an important influence on England and France in 1853.
We have thus briefly glanced at the policy which Russia has pursued for a series of years; and we hesitate not to say, that every one who has any regard for equity and justice, must condemn that policy. Aggression appears to have been the ruling passion of every governor of that colossal empire. In the year 1772, the population of Russia was 14,000,000; in 1850, it was 66,000,000! Sir John M'Neill, in his " Progress and Present Position of Russia in the East," thus sums up the increase in her territory:—" The acquisitions she has made from Sweden are greater than what remain of that kingdom; her acquisitions from Poland are as large as the whole Austrian Empire; the territory she has wrested from Turkey in Europe is equal to the dominions of Prussia, exclusive of her Rhenish provinces; her acquisitions from Turkey in Asia are equal in extent to all the smaller states of Germany, the Rhenish provinces of Prussia, Belgium, and Holland, taken together; the country she has conquered from Persia is about the size of England; and her acquisitions in Tartary have an equal area to Turkey in Europe, Greece, Italy, and Spain."
Nicholas I. now determined to have the last clutch of what remained of Turkey in Europe; and an excuse for this was not long wanting.
THE HOLY PLACES A BONE OF CONTENTION
The Holy Places are those in and around Jerusalem, where the principal events of the life and death of our Saviour are said to have taken place. These are the Holy Sepulchre where the body of our Saviour is supposed to have been laid, the stone of unction, the grotto of the cross, the chapel of the Virgin, the cemetery of Mount Zion, the tomb of the Holy Virgin, the grotto of Gethsemane, the grotto of the manger at Bethlehem, Mount Calvary, and several others, In almost all ages since the separation of the Greek Church from that of Rome, which took place in 1054, the squabbles, scrambles, and contentions for the possession of those places by different classes of Christians, Greeks, Latins, Armenians, Abyssinians, Syrians, Maronites, Cophtites, &c. have been frequent, and scandalous; ending in some instances in the shedding of blood. The great object of contest, however, is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; and the rival claimants are the Christians of the Greek and Latin Churches. During the contentions of the Christians, Jerusalem was conquered by the Turks in 1076, and this was a signal for all Europe to despatch its troops to free the Holy Sepulchre from the Infidels. Hence arose the celebrated Crusades, which sent such myriads of people of the "Western nations to the Holy Land, many of them to perish miserably by the way. In 1049 the European kings took Jerusalem, and retained it for 85 years, founding a Latin kingdom there, which had nine successive kings. Then it was taken by the famous Saladin, king of Eypt and Syria, in 1137, and again was retaken by the Turks in 1217, who have retained it ever since. But though in the possession of the Mahomedans, it has never ceased to be visited by swarms of Christian devotees, supposed to amount constantly in Jerusalem to twice the number of its inhabitants.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the grand resort of pilgrims, is a large structure, at the end of which is a superb rotunda and cupola, without any other light than what comes from the top; and directly under this opening is the Holy Sepulchre, placed in a small chapel, having three openings in the roof to let out the smoke of the hundreds of lamps which are kept lighted. This church of the Holy Sepulchre was originally built by the Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine, in the fourth century, but it was burnt down in 1808. It is pretended by the monks to include the places not only where Christ was crucified, but where he was buried, that is, not only Mount Calvary, but the garden of Joseph of Arimathea. It would take long to relate all the troubles which the quarrels and conflicts of the Christiana have given the Sultan, and the number of firmans and hatti-sherifs which he has been, from time to time, compelled to issue to attempt to make peace amongst them, and to direct which party should have the keys of those holy places. The scandalous contentions of the Greeks and Latins were such as to destroy all respect for Christianity in the East, and within the last century France has put herself forward as the champion of the Latin or Catholic Christians, and Russia as that of the Greek Christians.
As the Russian power in the East has advanced, these contentions have grown still more violent, and the preponderance has been given to the Greek Church in power and prestige. From 1850 to 1852 the disputes between Russia and France raged incessantly, and the Sultan was placed in the most tantalising difficulty between those powers. In vain he attempted to arrange the disputes between them; if he conferred the privileges which the Latins enjoyed in 1740, their most palmy season, the Russians were violently indignant on account of the Greeks; if he endeavoured to modify that ascendancy, the French were as irate on behalf of the Latins. The English ambassador remained neutral, offering his services to mediate between the contending parties. In vain, there were motives behind which admitted no pacification. Russia was resolved to pick a quarrel, and the Holy Places were the pretence. In the beginning of the year 1853, the great struggle came to a crisis. Prince Menschikoff appeared on the scene, delegated by the Czar as his plenipotentiary, with extraordinary power to settle or unsettle the matter altogether.
This man, who appeared to have been selected especially for his overbearing haughtiness and insolence, was descended from Peter the Great's favourite, a pastry-cook in the streets of Moscow, whom Peter, amongst his many whims, made a prince and companion of. Menschikoff, with all the arrogance of an upstart, very quickly brought matters to a rupture. He made the most imperious demands, used the most peremptory language to the Sultan and the Grand Vizier, insulted the minister for foreign affairs, Fuad Effendi, in the grossest manner, so as to cause his resignation. Notwithstanding all this, so temperate and conceding was the Sultan, that the disputes respecting the Holy Places were actually brought to a close; Turkey appeared to have given entire satisfaction, and on the 5th of May appeared the firman which completely settled the question.
But this settlement was precisely what Russia did not want. She was disappointed, instead of pleased; and, therefore, to the astonishment of all parties, on the very same day that the firman terminating the dispute about the Holy Places appeared, the haughty Menschikoff suddenly shifted his ground, took up another cause of quarrel, and sent an official note to Rifaat Pacha, the foreign minister, demanding that the protectorate over the Sultan's Greek subjects, 11,000,000 in number, should be vested at once and completely in the Emperor of Russia; or, in other words, that the Czar should be made as much sovereign in Turkey as the Sultan himself!
It was now evident that Russia was determined to have a quarrel with Turkey, and was about to unmask herself. Menschikoff's conduct since his arrival had been extremely arrogant and overbearing; end he had endeavoured to entrap the Turkish government into a secret treaty with Russia, and requested the ministers to promise not to reveal to the English or French ambassadors what was the nature of it. The ministers very properly refused to comply with this request. It very shortly became known that the object was the protectorate before spoken of, with a promise to despatch to Turkey 400,000 troops in case of a breach with the Allies. Menschikoff, who was himself extremely pressing, received on the 13th of April a letter from the Czar to quicken the movements, and ordering to demand a promptory assent to all the czar's requirements.
During the whole of these proceedings Russia was pouring down troops towards the Turkish frontiers, and increasing its navy in the Black Sea. And all this time, too, it was declaring, in answer to the inquiries of the British government, both at St Petersburg and Constantinople, that nothing offensive was intended, and that Russia was desirous of maintaining peace. On the 5th of May the Sultan issued his firman, settling the dispute much in favour of the Greek Christians; on the same day Menschikoff sent in his peremptory note, opening his sudden and fresh quarrel about the protectorate of the Greek Christians in Turkey; and on the 21st of the same month, the Sultan, after consulting with the ambassadors of England and France, declined to comply. Menschikoff hereupon quitted Constantinople in a haughty manner; the Imperial arms were pulled down from the Russian embassy, and war was inevitable. It was intimated to the Porte that Prince Menschikoff would remain a short time in Odessa, and that if, within a week, a note, complying with the demands of the czar, was received, a rupture with Russia might be still avoided. The note was not sent - the die was cast - war began.
As we have said, through all these negotiations, and while the Russian Czar was protesting that he had no intentions whatever to disturb the peace of Europe, he was filling all the provinces bordering on Turkey with troops. All the neighboring provinces Russia were alive with soldiers, who descended the Don, the Dnieper, the Dniester, concentrating themselves towards the Pruth, the boundary between Russia and Turkish Moldavia. On the 2nd of July, the Russians committed the actual aggression and deed of war by crossing the Pruth with a large force, provided with seventy-two pieces of cannon of heavy calibre.
When it became known at Constantinople that the Russians had crossed the Pruth, the news caused great excitement. The two ministers, Redechid Pacha and Mustapha Pacha, who had been all along endeavouring to bring about a peaceful result by negotiation, became very unpopular, and their dismissal was urged upon the Sultan, who was prevented from doing so by the energetic expostulations of Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. On the 14th of July the Porte issued a formal protest against the invasion of the Principalities, viewing that step as a virtual declaration of war. The war -party in the Divan, or Grand Council at Constantinople, at whose head was Mehemet Ali, the seraskier, were anxious to hurry matters to a crisis, against the wishes of Redchid Pacha and the peace party.
Matters were in a very critical state at this time in Constantinople; great excitement prevailed on every hand. The Sultan, who, from all accounts, is very unlike what one might conceive of the characteristics of a Turk, was forced on, apparently much against his will. He appears a quiet, indolent, well-meaning man, who would prefer allowing the world to go on smoothly, without much interference on his part. However, he had previously called upon the Pacha of Egypt for his contingent of troops, and these troops arrived at Constantinople in the middle of July, to the number of 12, 000. Turcoman chiefs had also arrived, offering the aid of their lawless tribes to assist in the defense of Islam. Daily there were vast assemblages in the streets of Constantinople, and the public feeling rose so high, that the Sultan became alarmed, and solicitated the English and French ambassadors to send for two or three of their ships, which were stationed at a short distance southward of the Dardanelles. This was done; and soon the novel spectacle of six war-frigates, three French, and three English, was presented to the warlike subjects of an unwarlike Sultan.
Early in September a levy of 80, 000 was made, and troops were gradually concentrated in and around Constantinople.
On the 4th of October, the Sultan issued a manifesto; and on the following day the declaration of war against Russia was published in Constantinople. In this document, all the principal points of the quarrel are enumerated - the desire of Turkey to remain at peace; the demands of Russia concerning the Holy Places; the arrogant tone in which these demands were made; the founding of fresh claims regarding the Greek Church, after the question of the Holy Places had been apparently settled; the seizure of the principalities as a "material guarantee"; the "Vienna Note", and its conditions; the evident desire of Russia that the terms of that note should be left vague, in order that she might interpret them as she pleased; and the necessity thence arising that Turkey should repel aggression by force of arms.
We have before stated that the Russians crossed the Pruth on the 2nd of July, with a large force, numbering 74, 000 men, and 72 pieces of cannon. This army was under the direction of Prince Gortchakoff, as commander-in-chief, who, so soon as he had established himself and his troops in their various positions, issued a specious and deceptive proclamation to the inhabitants. This document was characteristic of the usual policy pursued by the Muscovite officials in their predatory expeditions. Its predominant tone and spirit was couched in ambiguous language; promising great things to the inhabitants if they would permit themselves to be protected by their kind and affectionate friend the Czar. It was apparent that secret agency had been at work some time before the Russians entered the Principalities, for Prince Ghika was very lukewarm in his attachment to the Sultan; and when Gortchakoff made a journey of 160 miles from Jassy to Bucharest, the capital of Wallachia, he was received by a deputation of bishops and nobles with obsequiousness and adulation. Whatever might have been the opinion of the masses, the higher orders appear to have been wrought upon by some influence which affected them very much in favour of their invaders.
A rough estimate of the strength of the Ottoman army has been made on paper, which has been divided into the following different corps; - The Nizam, 150, 000; The Redif, 150, 000; Auxiliaries, 120, 000; Irregulars, 90, 000; Constabulary, 30, 000; Total, 540, 000. But this, like many other armies on paper, was far above its actual numbers: the sultan would find it as difficult in raising and supporting an army of 300, 000, as the Emperor of Russia would in raising and maintaining a force of 1, 000, 000 - and probably more. The number of troops under the Ottoman sway at this time did not most likely reach more than 260, 000. The Nizam is the regular army, and the men are engaged for five years, after which time they may return home, but they are liable to be re-called during the next seven years, to do active duty as the Redif. The Redif is a reserve corps. The Auxiliaries are those troops which the various pachas choose to raise and maintain in their several pachaliks. The Irregulars are a motley assemblage of Bashi-Bazouks, and other wild adventurers, and are not much to be depended upon. The Constabulary are a kind of police, and serve to do duty when the regular troops are called away to some other sphere of action.
The general selected by the czar to conduct the Danubian campaign has been already stated. His antagonist who was at the head of the Turkish forces, was Omar Pacha - a man far more remarkable than Gortchakoff - remarkable for his relinquishing his nationality, and becoming a follower of Islam; his undaunted bravery and well-known skill as military commander; and the almost uniform success which attended his movements in the field. The career of this individual has indeed been a strange one. He was an Austrian subject, born at the village of Haski, in Croatia, in 1802; and his name was Lattas - his father being at the time administrator-general of the circle of Oguline. The young Michael Lattas studied in the school of mathematics at Thurm, in Transylvania; and then entered the military corps of Ponts et Chaussees, belonging to Austria. He had a tolerably competent knowledge of mathematics; but, after serving in two offices as a clerk under government, he disagreed with his rulers, changed his religion, quitted his country, and became a Mahomedan. He now became a clerk to a merchant at Widdin; and , after changing his name from Lattas to the more Oriental one of Omar, he engaged himself as tutor in a wealthy family - his knowledge of the Servian, Italian, and German languages being a sure recommendation for this office. When the family in which he resided removed to Constantinople, Omar by degrees became perfect master of the Turkish language: and succeeded in becoming acquainted with military men. After some time he obtained a situation in one of the military schools founded by the late Sultan Mahmoud; and while in this office, he obtained the friendship and patronage of Khrosrou Pacha, the sultan's great auxiliary in the reforms that were then taking place. The aged pacha obtained for him a post in the army, made him his aide-de-camp, and secured for him the office of writing-master to the future sultan, Abdul Medjid, then a boy. Omar shortly afterwards married Khrosrou's ward, a daughter of one of the last of the Janissaries. He engaged energetically in the army reforms projected by the sultan, first as chief of battalion, and afterwards as aide-de-camp and interpreter to General Chzanovski, who taught the Turkish troops European tactics at Constantinople. Omar was next employed to superintend a topographical survey in Bulgaria and Wallachia - a situation which proved a valuable service to him, in qualifying him for the important duties which devolved upon him in later years. He was leutenant-colonel when Abdul-Medjid came to the throne in 1839; but he was speedily promoted first as colonel, and then as major-general. At this time he had seen no service in the field; but betwixt the years 1840 and 1847, he was engaged in quelling insurrections in Syria, Albania, and Bosnia - outbreaks from which Turkey is seldom free, only for short intervals. As a reward for the services he rendered to the Ottoman power in those arduous duties, he was made leutenant-general, and pacha. In the year 1848, he was despatched into the Principalities, on a mission - partly military and partly diplomatic a mission which required great skill and judgment; and so well did he succeed, that his imperial master conferred on him the dignity of mushir. He also, in 1851, when the Moslem inhabitants of Bosnia refused to yield to the reforming tendencies of the sultan, displayed great military abilities, and succeeded in inducing the refractory both in Bosnia and Montenegro to bow to the will of the sultan. When the crisis arrived that Turkey must either draw the sword or bow the neck to the yoke of Russia, Omar Pacha was appointed generalissimo of the Turkish army, and most worthy did he eventually prove himself of the choice.
In his private and domestic life Omar Pacha is described as a most exemplary husband, and tender and affectionate father.
At the close of October, 1853, then, a Russian army, under the command of Prince Gortchakoff, and a Turkish army, under the direction of Omar Pacha, met face to face on the opposite banks of the Danube.