Russo Turkish War 1877 1878

Battle of Sofia
©Pavel Kovalevsky
1877 Dec 31 - 1878 Jan 4

Battle of Sofia

Sofia, Bulgaria

In early January 1877, the West army group Gurko successfully crossed the Balkan Mountains. Parts of the group was to focus on Yana village. The Orhaniye Ottoman army after the Battle of Tashkessen retired to the Sofia area. Western group Gurko passed to operation Orhaniye to defeat the Ottoman army, according to the plan for final action in the war. 

Part of the forces of the West group Gurko with 20,000 soldiers and 46 cannons commanded by Major General Otto Rauch were directed into Sofia field. They were grouped into two columns: the right column of Lieutenant General Nikolai Velyaminov attacked from the north, and the left column of Major General Otto Rauch from the east. The opponent was Sofia's Ottoman holding force, 15,000 soldiers under Commander Osman Nuri Pasha, who occupied the approaches to the city and fortifications around the city.

The forces of the West group Gurko attacked in total offensive on 22 December / January 3. Column Lieutenant Velyaminov captured Kubratovo and Birimirtsi villages and went to Orlandovtsi village. The column of Major General Rauch captured the bridge at Chardakli farm (today, of the Tsarigradsko Shose over the Iskar river near Vrana Palace) and blocked the retreat route from Sofia towards Plovdiv. The Caucasian Cossack Brigade (commanded by Colonel Ivan Tutolmin) advanced in the direction Dărvenitsa - Boyana. Faced with a real threat of encirclement, Osman Nuri Pasha started a fast retreat in the direction of Pernik - Radomir, abandoning on the road 6000 wounded and sick soldiers. The foreign consuls (Vito Positano and Leander Lege) intervened, preventing an attempt to set fire to Sofia. On 23 December / January 4, 1878 into Sofia entered the first Russian units: Caucasian Cossack brigade and Grodno Hussar Regiment. Large military ammunition depots and supplies were captured. In the cathedral, a service was celebrated in the presence of Lieutenant General Iosif Gurko and Major General Otto Rauch. After the Battle of Sofia the Orhaniye Ottoman army ceased to exist as an organized military force. The Ottomans suffered irreparable human and material losses. This opened for offensive the direction of Sofia - Plovdiv - Edirne. Plovdiv was liberated on January 16 and Edirne was conquered on 20 January.