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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

While Paskievitch entered Asia Minor


no ground for war, a pretext

was supplied by Sultan Mahmoud himself. With true Turkish infatuation he chose this moment to issue a direct challenge to Russia. The Czar was denounced as the instigator of the Greek rebellion, and the arch enemy of Islam. The treaty of Akerman was declared null and void. A holy war was proclaimed against the Muscovites. "The Turk does not count his enemies. If all the unbelievers together unite against us we will enter on the war as a sacred duty, and trust to Allah for help." This proclamation was followed by the expulsion of all Christians from Constantinople. Unfortunately for the Sultan, his recent massacre of the Janizaries deprived him of the flower of his troops, and the reorganization of the Turkish army, which was the motive of that act, was only under way. For seven years the Russians had been preparing for this war. Nicholas lost no time in answering the Sultan's challenge. He replied with a declaration of war on April 26. Field Marshal Wittgenstein crossed the Pruth, while Paskievitch entered Asia Minor. The Russian troops overran the Roumanian provinces, Wallachia and Moldavia. The Danube was crossed early in June, under the eyes of the Czar. Unable to meet their enemy in the open field, the Turks withdrew into their strongholds, Ibraila and Silistria on the Danube, Varna and Shumla in the Balkans. The Russians besieged and stormed Ibraila, and thence pushed on through the Dubrudsha toward the Black Sea. In the meanwhile Paskievitch in Asia Minor defeated two Turkish
armies and captured Erzeroum.

[Sidenote: Brionis victorious]

[Sidenote: Surrender of Varna]

After these early successes the Russian operations began to lag. The Czar's presence at headquarters was a source of embarrassment rather than of strength. Wittgenstein committed the error of dividing his army into three slender columns. Too weak to conduct forward operations, they were held in check before Silistria, Varna and Shumla. The Russian transport service, none too good at best, collapsed under the threefold strain. The ill-fed soldiers wasted away by thousands. At length Homer Brionis, the commandant of Shumla, took advantage of the weakness of his besiegers. On September 24 he broke out of Shumla and marched to the relief of Varna. The Czar, notwithstanding the evident weakness of his troops, ordered his cousin, Eugene of Wurtemberg, to check the Turkish advance with a frontal attack. The result was a severe defeat. Had Brionis marched onward Varna would have been relieved. He clung to Shumla, however, and the Turks at Varna were forced to surrender. It was late in autumn now, and cold weather put a stop to the campaign for the year. The display of military weakness seriously injured the prestige of Russia. The manifold mistakes of this campaign have been unsparingly laid bare in a famous monograph of Moltke. Henceforth the successful prosecution of the war became a _sine qua non_ for Russia.

[Sidenote: Turks evacuate Morea]

[Sidenote: Vacillation in France]

During the progress of these events, French forces were landed in Greece. They occupied Navarino, Patras and Modon. The Turks gave in and consented to evacuate the Morea. In France, the ultra-royalist measures of Charles X. gave rise to an ever growing spirit of dissatisfaction. The death of Manuel, the outcast of the Chambers, was made the occasion of a great public demonstration. The coalition of Liberals with a faction of Royalists opposed to the Ministry had a brilliant triumph. Villele's Cabinet offered to resign. Instead of that, the King placed Martignac above him. "You are deserting M. Villele," said the Princess Royal to the King. "It is your first step downward from the throne." The Duc de Broglie wrote: "Should we succeed, after the fall of the present Ministry, in getting through the year tranquilly, it will be a triumphant success." By way of concession to the Liberals, a royal edict suppressed all the educational institutions maintained by the Society of Jesus. The effect of this measure was offset later in the year by renewed imprisonment and a heavy fine inflicted upon Beranger for writing political songs.


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