Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812)

Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812)
partof=the Russo-Turkish Wars and Napoleonic Wars

caption="Russian Fleet after the Battle of Athos" by Alexey Bogolyubov
date= 1806–1812
place=Moldavia, Wallachia, Armenia and the Dardenelles
result=Russian victory
territory=Treaty of Bucharest
combatant1=flagicon|Russia Russian Empire
combatant2=flagicon|Ottoman Empire|1453 Ottoman Empire
commander1=flagicon|Russia Prince Prozorovsky
flagicon|Russia Prince Bagration
flagicon|Russia Nikolay Kamensky
flagicon|Russia Mikhail Kutuzov
commander2=flagicon|Ottoman Empire|1453 Selim III
flagicon|Ottoman Empire|1453 Mahmud II
The Russo-Turkish War, 18061812 was one of many wars fought between Imperial Russia and the Ottoman Empire.


The war broke out in 1805–1806 against the background of the Napoleonic wars. The Ottoman Empire, encouraged by the Russian defeat at Austerlitz, deposed the Russophile hospodars of its vassal states Moldavia (Alexandru Moruzi) and Wallachia (Constantine Ypsilanti). Simultaneously, their French allies occupied Dalmatia and threatened to penetrate the Danubian principalities at any time. In order to safeguard the Russian border against a possible French attack, a 40,000-strong Russian contingent advanced into Moldavia and Wallachia. The Sultan reacted by blocking the Dardanelles to Russian ships and declared war on Russia.

Early hostilities

Initially, the tsar was reluctant to concentrate large forces against Turkey while his relations with Napoleonic France were still uncertain and the main part of his army was occupied fighting against Napoleon in Prussia. A massive Ottoman offensive aimed at Bucharest was promptly checked at Obilesti by as few as 4,500 soldiers commanded by Mikhail Miloradovich (June 2, 1807). In Armenia, the 7,000-strong contingent of Count Gudovich destroyed the Turkish force of 20,000 at Arpachai (June 18). In the meantime, the Russian Navy under Dmitry Senyavin blockaded the Dardanelles and destroyed the Ottoman Fleet in the Battle of the Dardanelles and Battle of Athos, thus establishing Russian supremacy on sea.

Campaigns of 1808–1810

At this point the war might have ended, if it were not for the Peace of Tilsit. Alexander I of Russia, constrained by Napoleon to sign an armistice with the Turks, used the time of peace to transfer more Russian soldiers from Prussia to Bessarabia. After the southern army was augmented to 80,000 and the hostilities were resumed, the 76-year-old commander-in-chief Prozorovsky made little progress in more than a year. In August 1809 he was eventually succeeded by Prince Bagration, who promptly crossed the Danube and overran Dobruja. Bagration proceeded to lay siege to Silistria but, on hearing that the 50,000-strong Turkish army approached the city, deemed it wise to evacuate Dobruja and retreat to Bessarabia.

In 1810, the hostilities were renewed by the Kamensky brothers, who defeated the Ottoman reinforcement heading for Silistria and ousted the Turks from Pazardzhik (May 22). The position of Silistria now appeared hopeless, and the garrison surrendered on May, 30. Ten days later, Kamensky laid siege to another strong fortress, Shumla. His storm of the citadel was repelled at great loss of life, and more bloodshed ensued during the murderous storm of Rousse on July, 22. The latter fortress did not fall to the Russians until September 9, after Kamensky's army had surprised and routed a huge Turkish detachment at Batyn (August, 26). Young Kamensky died soon thereafter and the new commander, Mikhail Kutuzov, in accordance with his cautious character, evacuated Silistria and slowly started to retreat northward.


Kutuzov's withdrawal induced a Turkish commander, Ahmet Pasha, to lead his 60,000 men against the Russian army. The battle took place on June 22, 1811 near Rousse. Although the offensive was repelled, Kutuzov ordered his forces to cross the Danube back to Bessarabia. Several months later, a separate detachment secretly returned and, surprising Ahmet Pasha at night, routed his army thoroughly (October, 2). More than 9,000 Ottomans were slain during that night, leading to Ahmet Pasha's surrender to Kutuzov on November, 23.

According to the Treaty of Bucharest, signed by Kutuzov on May, 28, the Turks ceded Bessarabia to Russia (although that land belonged to their vassal Moldavia, which they were supposed to protect). The treaty was approved by Alexander I of Russia on June 11, just thirteen days before Napoleon's invasion of Russia commenced.


*Петров А.Н. "The War between Russia and Turkey, 1806—1812", vol. 1-3. SPb, 1885—87.

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