Osman Nuri Pasha

Nation: Turkey

Military Leader

Birth Date: 1832
Turkey Osman Nuri Pasha Military Leader Cover
I. Siege of Plevna
I. Siege of Plevna
There has been no finer exemplification of Turkish bravery than the Siege of Plevna, and with it the name of Osman Pasha will forever be recalled. The atrocities wrought by the Turks upon the Christians in Bulgaria in 1876 were done for the purpose of stamping out the revolt of that and surrounding provinces against Turkish rule. The Powers of Europe put pressure upon the Sultan to control his agents but without success. At length, after fruitless conferences, Russia was allowed to act in aid of the Christian provinces of the Balkan Peninsula.

The Russian army crossed the Danube in June 1877 under Gourko and Skobeleff. They won several minor victories and established themselves at Tirnova. Marching towards the Balkan Mountains, they gained the Shipka Pass with little opposition. The Turkish commander, Abdul Kerim, was therefore removed. He was succeeded by Mehemet Ali who sought to effect a junction with Osman Pasha. These two commanders intended to fight, and the Russians met with an unexpected check at Plevna.

The defense of Plevna was entrusted to Osman Pasha. He at once set to work and fortified it in the most scientific manner. When the Russians under General Shilder-Shuldner began the siege, Osman took his force out to meet the enemy. So splendidly did the Turkish troops fight that of the 6,500 men who had come to capture Plevna, nearly one-third were killed or wounded including 74 officers. The Russians retired, and General Krudener hastened to their relief, while the Grand Duke Nicholas withdrew his headquarters from Tirnova.

In the meantime, Osman devised new fortifications. On July 30th, the Russians, who had brought up large reinforcements, made a grand assault. However, they were again repulsed, with a loss of 170 officers and 7,136 men in a seven hours' battle. Osman was in Plevna with 50,000 men, and there were 105,000 Turks outside under two other generals. If they had shared Osman's brilliant talent and courage, they could have annihilated the Russians by following up the blow.

The Emperor Alexander II, who had been driven by Russian public opinion to undertake the war, now came to the headquarters near Plevna. Large reinforcements were brought up and after eight weeks' delay about 100,000 men with 440 guns made another assault on Osman and his little force of heroes. Again the Russians were hurled from the walls with a loss of 20,000 while Osman lost 15,000 inside the walls. The Emperor retired disheartened, but General Skobeleff recaptured Laratz on September 3rd after the Turks had held it a month. Next he managed to capture an outwork and held it for a single day. This was September 11th, and the first assault was been in July. The Russians, baffled and beaten in the game of war, were able to win only by completely encircling the city and starving the noble garrison.

Todleben, the engineer who had won fame at Sebastopol, was put in charge of the siegeworks. Yet a furious sortie on September 17th again attested the valor of the garrison. The Russian investment was completed in October, and Osman Pasha was summoned to surrender on November 12th but bravely refused. Until December 10th, the Turks held out - at what awful cost cannot be imagined - and then to crown their fight with glory they made a furious sortie, desperate with hunger and the sense of hard fate. But starvation had proven a faithful Russian ally and, with their greater numbers, they forced a defeat on the Turks. The 40,000 who surrendered had earned more of the honors of war than their conquerors. General Skobeleff, who had held the advanced positions of the Russians, received the wounded hero Osman Pasha, and all the present Russian staff united in testifying their appreciation of his matchless bravery. The last charge of the Turks had been made rather to satisfy his idea of honor than with any hope of success.

The result of the fall of Plevna was the Treaty of San Stefano, which was modified by the Congress of European Powers at Berlin. Osman Pasha's fame as a military engineer and constructor of fortifications now equaled that of his commandership. He was rewarded with every honor that the Sultan could confer and was appointed Minister of War, with the additional duty of reorganizing the army. He became Commander of the Imperial Guard and Chief of the Artillery.

Spofford, A. R., Weitenkampf, F., & Lamberton, J.P. (1899). Osman Pasha. In The library of historic characters and famous events of all nations and all ages (Vol. 10, pp. 296-298). Boston: Art-Library Pub. Co.
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