Russian Archives: The Russo-Turkish War, 1877-1878

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Filmed from the holdings of Military Science Archive at the Russian State Military History Archive in Moscow

Historians generally regard the last of the Russo-Turkish wars as the most important of the three conflicts that raged between the Russian and Ottoman empires during the nineteenth century. The last of these began in 1877, as Russia and its Christian Orthodox ally Serbia came to the aid of Christian Slavs in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Bulgaria, who in 1875 had rebelled against the Muslim Ottoman rule. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 turned into one of the bloodiest campaigns for the Russian Army and revealed the rampant corruption among the Army's officers and the severe lack of education among their troops.

In March 1878 Russia and Turkey concluded the Treaty of San Stefano, in which the Ottomans ceded parts of Armenia and modern Bulgarian territories to the Russian Empire. The treaty freed Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro from Ottoman rule, granted autonomy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and created an autonomous Bulgaria under Russian protection. Alarmed by Russia's political gains, Britain and Austria-Hungary enforced the Treaty of Berlin in July 1878, which restricted Russia's gains from the war.

The Russo-Turkish War collection from the holdings of the Military Science Archive at the Russian State Military History Archive documents the military and civilian history of the war. It includes correspondence on mobilization and relocation of the troops and reports to the highest levels of command in the Russian military, including Alexander II and his inner circle of advisors. These documents include descriptions of battles, information about Russian and Ottoman losses and gains, military intelligence reports, accounts of the military court, correspondence regarding the circulation of revolutionary propaganda among Russian soldiers, and proposals for the economic reconstruction of the region.

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