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Tuesday, February 15th 2011, 5:57pm

1828: Razboiul ruso-turc, von Freiherrn von Moltke, Ahiolo, Balcic, Braila, Burgas, Cernavoda, Constanta, Hirsova, Isaccea, Kavarna, Kulewtscha, Küstendschi, Macin, Misivri, Rustschuk, Ruse, Schumla, Silistria, Siseboli, Tulcea, Varna,

Der russisch-türkische Feldzug in der europäischen Türkei 1828 und 1829

Verfasser: Freiherr von Moltke
Impressum: Druck und Verlag von G. Reimer, Berlin, 1845

Küstendschi / Constanta

Übersichtskarte von Bulgarien und der Dobrudscha
des KriegsSchauplatzes von 1828 u. 1829

bearbeitet nach den besten Hülfsquellen u. mit Benutzung der Recognoscirungen der Königl. Preuss. Generalstabes Officiere

Maastab: von 10 Meilen

Note: there are more images - which could be posted, on request:
Bojeleschti, Kulewtscha, Tschanak Kalesi, Misivri, Siseboli, Ahiolo.

Bogaskoi / Cernavoda
Matschin / Macin

Ibrail / Braila
Touldscha / Tulcea

Isaktschi / Isaccea






CHAPTER IV - The Strongholds of Dobrudscha

When the Russian army had landed on the right bank of the Danube, and were laying siege to Brailow, the next point for consideration was the nature of the strongholds in the Dobrudscha, which lay on the line of march towards the wall of Trajan. The first of these was Isakchi, which was only 4000 paces distant from the landing-place. The plan of this fortress is given in plan I (see Danube harbours / Isakchi) , but it must be borne in mind that at this time the suburbs had been burnt down.

Isakchi stands near the Danube, upon a hill, surrounded within musket-shot by two valleys, which are not commanded by the fortress: no advantage is taken of the lay of the ground, and the correct instinct by which the Turks are usually guided in the disposition of their lines seems to have altogether forsaken them here. The profile is shown in the plan; we have only to add that the ditch was 10 feet deep, and the scarp and counterscarp faced with strong walls built of limestone from the left bank of the Danube; but on the northern front, which lay very low, thc ditch was altogether wanting. In the ditch was a weak palisade, made of very slight stakes. As usual, there were neither outworks nor covered way, only a narrow footpath inside the glacis, which wes 3 feet high. The ramparts were so narrow that there was not room for the guns, exoept in the bastions, which were tolerably large. The inner scarp of the rempart was supported perpendicularly with wattling; a measure which in 1810 had so much embarrassed the besiegers of Rutschuk. The inner slope of the parapet was partly lined with palisades and their outer slopes on the bastions as well as the embrasures were lined with gabions.

The stiff clay soil rendered it possible to make excavations beneath the ramparts without any props; and in like manner the barracks for the troops were mere holes in the earth, covered first with stout planks and then with a layer of clay, and thus tendered bomlb-proof. The powder was stored in private cellars, and the arsenal was a mere wooden shed.

The usual dislike of the Turks to outworks and outposts had led them to leave an island exactly opposite the town, and only 200 paces distant from it, entirely unoccupied. With the view, however, of commanding the river, they had established a cavalier upon the northern bastion, which was so utterly inefficient that, even before the passage of the river at Satunovo was fully effected, a detachment of the Russian river flotilla sailed up, without let or hindrance, to assist in the attack upon Brailow.

The point of attack upon the fortress comprised the two northern sides of the polygon, which could be enfiladed in their whole length from the heights towards the south. The besieging force would not need any entrenchments or other works; they would only have to erect a battery near the bank of the riverat 500 or 600 paces distance the the fortress, to secure themselves from attack by detached bodies of troops; and to effect breaches in the escarps, which at that point is not defended by any ditch.

It was manifest that no very effectual resistance could be anticipated, but the actual event was equally unexpected. No sooner had the Russians succeeded in crossing the river than the garrison was seized with a panic, and surrendered on the very same dey. The fortress ccntained a large store of arms and ammunition, besides B5 guns of large calibre, mounted. on very clumsy carriages.

Of equal importance was the fortress of Matchin, which forms as it were the téte-du-pont to Brailow; the two fortresses mutually support and strengthen each other, especially when the oommunicatiorn between them is aecured by a flotilla on the Danube. The population of Matchin at this time was from 1000 to 1500; it stands upon a ridge which juts out into the Danube, and ends in a precipitoua descent into the stream; on the west it is defended by an impassable marsh.

The lofty mountains which rise in jagged points on the south-east are too far off to be dangerous, and the intervening ground slopes off gently towards the fortress, and forms a plain on the eastern aide. The walls of the town form a heptagon, defended by six small bastions. The ditch was dry, and the scarp entirely, and the counterscarp partially, reveted.

On the top of the lofty northern precipice, over the Danube, stands citadel A, upon a granite rock. This citadel commands the town and its walls, the ground in front of it, and the Danube with all the islands, within the range of the guns. Although the citadel had no ditch, it presented e very formidable relief, with escarps 50 feet in height, rising 25 feet above the enceinte of the town, which was so small that it was commanded in every part from the high cavalier, even with musketry.

Thus it would have heen almost impossible for an attacking party to occupy the town while the citadel remained in the hands of the enemy; and on the other hand, no attack could be made upon the citadel until the enceinte of the town were taken. In fact, the citadel, occupied by a resolute garrison, was impregnable by any other means than a well-directed and vigorous bombardment; and even this would hy no means ensure the surrender of the place.

* The accompanying drawlngs of Matchin, Hirsova and Köstendje (see Plans 9 and 11) were not made by measurement until 1836, but they serve to show the state of the places at the time of the campaign.


Dan Sambra / Administrator

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Date of registration: Feb 9th 2011

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Thursday, February 17th 2011, 7:47pm

Razboiul ruso-turc, 1828 - 1829, von Freiherrn von Moltke, part #2


Hirsova, which stands at the point where the Danube may most easily be crossed, is a téte·du·pont, formed as it were by nature against the Turks. The town, which then numbered about 4000 inhabitants, but now contains only 40 families, is an irregular quadrangle, enclosed on three sides by rocky heights, which slope gently on the inside and abruptly on the out, and on the fourth side by the Danube. At one point, where a perpendicular face of rock, 80 or 100 feet high, rises out of the stream, stood an ancient castle, of which the Russians took possession in 1809.

They made trenches round the town, threw a bridge of boats across the river, withdrew again to the other side of the Danube in the following year, and recrossed it the next. The attention of the Turks was called to the place hy these pruceedings, and in 1822 they made Hirsova into a fortress, by very slight additions to the natural strength of its position.

The enceinte consisted of five short fronts, defended by bastions, and without outworks. The ditch was dry, 14 or 15 feet deep, with e scarp and counterscarp of masonry; the bastions mounted 10 guns each; the inner slope of the perapet was partly protected by palisades. Several circumstances combined to render the Turkish fortifications of Hirsova less strong than they might have been made. The enceinte was not carried near enough to the edge of the declivity which formed the natural glacis, no that a considerable space at the very foot of it was completely hidden from the guns of the fortress.

Neither had the Turkish engineers known how to defilade the ramparts against the nearest range of hills. They had endeavoured to remedy this defect by traverses in some places, 50 feet high; this was done with great labour and difficulty, but to no effect. Finally, they had, as usual, entirely neglected to fcrtify the island opposite to the town. The platform on the top of the castle, and the high bastion beneath those upon the Danube, were indeed able to direct a few guns upon this island, but the arm of the river beyond it was not commanded by them at all, so that the Russian flotilla was able to sail up to Silistria quite unmolested.

If the Russians succeeded in establishing themselves upon the island, they would thence be able to lay the town in ruins, as it lies like an amphitheatre before it. Moreover, the side of the town abutting upon the river was only defended by an embankment about 700 paces in length, with a very insufficient ditch, and 10 pieces of artillery. On the other hand, Hirsova was able to offer a very effective resistance to any attack in the direction of the Dobrudscha.

Matchin and Hirsova then lay on the right flank of the Russian line of march, and on the left were Tultcha and Köstendje. The former had been the téte-du-pont of lsmail: the capture of that place Tultcha was important to the Turks, inasmuch as no Russian corps and heavy materials for the construction of a bridge up the main branch of the Danube, without first taking Tultcha.

The town stands upon a broad ridge of hills with a steep declivity towards the Danube, but separated from it by a marsh 400 paces wide. On the western side the ground slopes gently down towards the fortress. The enceinte formed a slightly irregular hexagon, with bastions and without outworks. The sides of the polygon were 360 paces in length, and the profile would seem to have been exactly like that of the fortress already described.
Now the ancient site of the town is completely abandoned, the works have been undermined and blown up by the Russians, and within the walls there is nothing but a heap of ruins and ashes. The new town of Tultcha has been built about a mile lower down the Danube, on a spot eminently fitted to command the navigation of the Sulina, which is not 400 paces wide at this point.

The town could scarcely be fortified in its whole actual extent, but, if the southern part were sacrificed, the northern, which is surrounded by the Danube, a marsh, a lake, and a height, might be converted into a small fortress which would require but a slender garrison. But then it would be essential to the safety of the place to erect an outwork upon the further extremity of the island, opposite to the plane which, like all the islands in the Danube, was ceded te Russia at the last peace.

Köstendje stands upon a point of land, so that on three sides it is defended by the sea,and by chalk cliffs upwards of 100 feet in height, and too steep to be scaled, and is therefore only accessible from the west. The total absence of safe harhours on the western coast of the Black Sea gives importance to that of Köstendje, bad as it is, especially for an army whose operations are directed upon Varna.

The water in the harbour is not above 7 or 8 feet deep, and it is wholly exposed to the southerly gales. Only a very few small vessels can anchor in it, and ships of war cannot approach within effective range without great danger. In 1828 the population of Köstendje was about 2000, now it does not contain above 40 inhabited houses.

The Turks had defended the side towards the land, only 500 paces in width; by three bastions and short curtains; the ditch was faced with stone. The old Roman embankment, which connects Trajan‘s wall with the sea, and now affords a ready approach to the fortress, ought in have taught the Turks how to lay down their lines so as to command the ground. At any rate the three hillocks at the northern corner ought to have been taken into the fortifications. A detached outwork, open at the rear, had been erected on one of them, but it could not be supported by the fortress.

The country which had to be traversed between the fortresses has already been described. By far the best line of march upon Bazardjik lay up the right bank of the Danube, by Kusgun, a route on which there are many villages and a good supply of water and of forage. But then there were the fortresses of Matchin and Hirsova, and the strong and easily defensible position of Tjernavoda behind the marshes and lakes of Karasu,* which can only be avoided by taking a circuit nearly 20 miles to the east.

ln order to operate along the seacoast, and to base the support of a column upon a

• These have been erroneously supposed to be a choked-up branch of the Danube, a supposition upon which the project of a canal to Köstendje was founded. According to the survey made by Major v. Vinke, of the Prussian staff, in 1837, the lowest points of the valley of the Karasu near Köstendje and its commencement are 164 feet above the level of the Black Sea. As there is not a drop of water to be found on the high ground, the canal would have to be cut to that depth for a distance of 10 miles through a bed of limestone rock - evidently an impossible undertaking

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