Siege of Silistra

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Siege of Silistra
Part of the Crimean War
Victorious sally by the Turkish garrison of Silistria.jpg
Victorious sally by the Turkish garrison of Silistria
Date March–June, 1854
Location Silistra
Result Decisive Ottoman victory
Belligerents
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Russian Empire Russian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Musa Hulusi Pasha
Omar Pasha
Field Marshal Ivan Paskevich
MD Gorchakov
Strength
18,000[1] 90,000
266 cannons[1]
Casualties and losses
Musa Hulusi Pasha(KIA)[2]
68 killed
121 wounded[2]
General Selvan(KIA)[2]
General Schilder(KIA)[3]
10,000 killed & wounded[4]

The Siege of Silistra took place during the Crimean War. In this action, Russian forces besieged the Ottoman fortress town of Silistra. While initially successful, the Russians were forced after several weeks to abandon the siege and retreat.

Background[edit]

Turkish troops at the defence of Silistria 1853-4

This battle took place during the Danube campaign of the Crimean War. In the spring of 1854, following the winter lull in campaigning, the Russians determined to advance into Ottoman territory. In the east an army numbering 45,000 under Gen AN Luders crossed the border from Bessarabia into Dobruja to occupy various strong points there. By the beginning of April the Russians were at the site of Trajan's Wall, 30 miles east of Silistra. Meanwhile the central force under MD Gorchakov had crossed the river and had advanced to lay siege to Silistra itself. At Silistra an Ottoman force of 20,000 was encamped in the town, which was heavily fortified.

Action[edit]

In 1854 Silistra was fortified with an inner citadel and a ring of ten outer forts. The garrison in the town itself numbered 12,000, while outside was a mobile army maintaining contact and supply routes.

On 5 April the vanguard of the Russian force under KA Schilder arrived at the fortress and commenced building entrenchments. However they were unable to completely surround the town, and the Ottoman forces were able to keep the garrison supplied. On 22 April Field Marshal IF Paskevitch, commander of all Russian forces, arrived to take charge of the siege.

On 10 May reinforcements arrived from Luders army and the bombardment of the town started in earnest. On 28 May a key outwork, the fort of Arab Tabia, was assaulted, but the attackers were driven back with heavy losses.

On 10 June Paskevich claimed to have been hit by a shell fragment during an artillery duel. Although he was not wounded, he retired and his place was taken by MD Gorchakov.[5] On 13 June Schilder was also wounded and died shortly after.

On 20 June another assault on the Arab Tabia was successful, opening the way for an assault on the main citadel. However at 2am on 21 June, just two hours before the assault was due to take place, Gorchakov received orders from Paskevitch to raise the siege and return to his positions north of the Danube. This was done by 24 June.

Aftermath[edit]

The order to retreat was forced by diplomatic pressure and the threat of military action by the Austrians, who were increasingly concerned about Russian intentions in the area.[6] The failure of the siege signaled a general withdrawal by Russia from the Principalities, which was largely completed by September 1854.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Badem, Candan (2010). The Ottoman Crimean War: (1853 - 1856). Brill. p. 184. 
  2. ^ a b c Badem 2010, p. 185
  3. ^ Badem 2010, p. 186
  4. ^ Siege of Sillistra, Nineteenth-century Land Warfare: An Illustrated World View, ed. Byron Farwell, (W.W. Norton & Co., 2001), 760.
  5. ^ Figes, Orlando (2010). The Crimean War: A History (1st Edition ed.). New York, New York: Metropolitan Books. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-8050-7460-4. 
  6. ^ Crimean War (1853-1856), Eric v.d. Luft, Ground Warfare: A-G, Vol. I, ed. Stanley Sandler, (ABC-CLIO, 2002), 219.

Further reading[edit]