Accession of Prince Charles of Hohenzollern—Signs the Constitution—Former differences between the Prince and the Parliament—(Note: State of parties with leaders in 1881)—Action of Russia prior to the war of 1877—Turkish incapacity and obstinacy—Perplexing position of Roumania—Reluctance of the nation to interfere—First attitude of neutrality—The Porte declares the Prince an enemy—The Prince and army organisation—Value of Roumanian co-operation to Russia—The Russian army of operations—Crosses the Danube and occupies Sistova and the Shipka Pass—Repeated defeats at Plevna and elsewhere—Gloomy outlook for the Russians—The Roumanians cross the Danube—First estimates of them—Contemptuous criticisms and anecdotes—Changing views regarding them—Prince Charles appointed Commander-in-Chief of the allies before Plevna—Defences of Plevna—The Grivitza redoubt—Strength and composition of the armies—Commencement of the attack (August 31, 1877)—Capture of Loftcha by Skobeleff—Russian operations against Plevna—Great assault of September 11—Defeat of the Russians—Ineffectual bravery of Skobeleff—His appearance after the repulse—The Roumanians—The 'indomitable' Grivitza redoubt—Roumanian approaches (September 7 to 10)—Assaults and final capture and retention of the redoubt by the Roumanians (11th)—Carnage in the redoubt—Unsuccessful attempt to capture a second redoubt—Flattering criticisms upon their bravery—Further Roumanian victories and services in the war—Failure of Osman Pasha to break the lines of the allies—His submission—Interview between Osman, the Grand Duke, and Prince Charles—Russian ingratitude to Roumania—'Exchange' of Bessarabia for the Dobrudscha—Treaty of San Stephano and Berlin Conference—Roumania independent—Coronation of the King and Queen—Conclusion of historical review.


After the fall of Couza the two Chambers elected the Count of Flanders, a younger brother of the King of Belgium, as his successor, but, owing probably to the threatening attitude of the Porte, that Prince declined the honour. Their choice then fell upon the reigning sovereign, Prince Charles of Hohenzollern (son of Prince Charles Anton, of Hohenzollern-Siegmaringen), who accepted the nomination, and was proclaimed Prince of Roumania on the anniversary of his birthday, April 20, 1866, and was received with great joy on his arrival at the capital. The Sublime Porte protested as usual, but this time the Roumanians threatened—at least, they determined to uphold their choice, and collected a strong force with that object. After vainly endeavouring to enlist the Powers on his side, the Sultan gave his assent to the nomination, and the Prince was invested with the sovereignty for himself and his heirs.

Meanwhile the national leaders had prepared the draft of the constitution under which Roumania is now governed, of which the leading stipulations, along with the names of its framers, will be found in the Appendix (III.), and on June 30 [July 12] it was approved and signed by the Prince, who at the same time took the qualifying oath, first at Bucarest, and shortly afterwards at Jassy, where he was received with equal enthusiasm by the Moldavians.

Few rulers have had the obstacles to contend with that greeted Prince Charles on his accession to the throne of Roumania, and few indeed have managed so completely to overcome their difficulties and to win the affections of their subjects—a task which has, however, been materially lightened in his case by the co-operation of his talented consort, whom, as Princess Elizabeth of Wied, he espoused in November 1869. The liberties of Roumania had not been of slow growth, and the people who for sixteen centuries had been the downtrodden vassals, first of this and then of that dominant race of barbarians, were naturally, a little awkward when they were called upon to assume the responsibilities, as well as to enjoy the privileges, of emancipation. We will not dwell upon the party dissensions which for a series of years militated against the smooth working of the new Constitution, nor upon the known fact that the Prince well-nigh relinquished the reins of power in consequence of the repeated changes of ministry and the unworthy jealousies of those who, having first selected him as a foreigner, subsequently charged this against him as a disqualification. Nor must we examine too narrowly all the causes of this restlessness in the people. They had been so often betrayed by their rulers, and were so jealous of their newly-won liberties, that, it may be, the acts of a prince of the house of Hohenzollern were not always in accord with the tastes of a semi-republican legislature. This friction, through the devotion of the ruler and the good sense and patriotism of his advisers, has ceased to exist; and, far from there being now a bitter strife of parties, one of the Roumanian leaders deplores that there is not a more active and powerful opposition to the ministry, which was last elected in 1875, and has for more than six years guided the destinies of the nation.


Let us now consider the circumstances which lately enabled Roumania to throw off the last traces of her vassalage, and to take her place in the comity of European nations; and with a brief narrative of those events we must bring this imperfect outline of her past history to a close. The story of the last Russo-Turkish war must be within the memory of all our readers who take the slightest interest in Oriental politics. How Russia, chafing under the restrictions which had been put upon her by the Treaty of Paris, had succeeded in obtaining a modification of that treaty, which gave her once more the right of entrance into the Black Sea; how, resuming her favourite rôle of protectress of the Christian inhabitants of Turkey, she intervened in the affairs of those nations who stood between her and Constantinople; how the Servians and Montenegrins, incited by her, rose in revolt, and the Bulgarians followed suit; how the European Powers, sympathising with Turkey on the one hand, in consequence of the renewed machinations and transparent designs of her powerful northern enemy, and on the other despairing of her on account of the barbarities with which she endeavoured to quell the rising in her vassal provinces, the inherent weakness of her rule, and the bankrupt condition of her finances, they were compelled at length to leave her at the mercy of her foe. To repeat the narrative of these would be telling an oft-told tale. But when, after the final break-up of the Conference of Constantinople in January 1877, the Cross and the Crescent were once more opposed to each other, and when the Russian forces were massed on the eastern bank of the Pruth, then came the moment at which it behoved the newly-liberated nation, which had so often been the victim of the 'holy' strife, to decide on which side it would array itself. Indeed, Roumania had little choice in the matter; the critics who have censured her policy, and have charged her with breach of faith towards her suzerain the Porte (and we know there are many such in this country), cannot have carefully considered her past history; nor have reflected upon the position in which she was placed. As a matter of preference, the young nation which was about being dragged into this ruthless strife could have none, and might with justice have exclaimed, 'A plague on both your houses!' What cared they, on the one hand (and this was the popular sentiment), for the hypocritical crusade undertaken for purposes of aggrandisement; or, on the other, what sympathy could they have with the moribund State which had ever been to them as the daughters of the horseleech, and whose atrocities were identical with those that were perpetrated in the days when Huns and Vandals devastated their own fair plains? If Roumania in her then condition (now it would be different) had opposed the passage of the Russian forces, they would have entered her territory as enemies, the war would have been carried on once more within her borders, and, beggared and prostrate, she might at best have reckoned upon retaining her political independence through the intervention of the European Powers; though, looking at the fact that these had recognised Russia as their executioner in Turkey, it is very questionable whether they would have interfered for the protection of Roumania, and whether she would not have fallen to Russia along with Bessarabia. On the other hand, if she had actively sided with either Power, her national independence and the happiness of her people would have been staked upon the result. She chose the wise, and indeed the only course, namely, that of allowing her powerful neighbour to pass through her dominions, stipulating that, so far as Russia could help it, she should be spared the desolation and horrors of war within her frontiers. But what course did the Porte adopt? Not recognising the force majeure which had driven Roumania to this decision, she was suicidal enough to declare her an enemy, and to threaten to depose the Prince, thus giving to her bitterest foe an ally who, at a critical period, in self-defence, turned the scale against her, and caused her to lose some of her fairest provinces. For the Roumanians well knew, after the declared enmity of the Porte, that the defeat of the Russians and their withdrawal into their own territories would at once have been followed by all the incidents of Turkish rule, of which for centuries they had had such a bitter experience.

Amongst the valuable services which Prince Charles had rendered to his adopted country before the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish war was the organisation of a national army on the German model. Under Prince Couza the whole standing army of the two Principalities was at first 8,400 men, but he raised it to 25,000 strong, and officered it on the French system. When Prince Charles received the investiture at the hands of the Sultan in 1867, the army was limited to 30,000 men of all ranks; but he substituted German for French officers, and sent young Roumanians to Germany to study military tactics. In 1874 the standing army numbered 18,542 men of all arms, and the territorial forces 43,744, making a total of 62,286 men and 14,353 horses; these were armed with 52 steel Krupp guns, besides about 200 of an inferior description; 25,000 Peabody rifles, and 20,000 Prussian needle-guns, raised in 1875 to 100,000 rifles of the best description. The sanitary services and the military hospitals had been organised by General Dr. Davila, a French physician, of whom we have frequently spoken elsewhere, and who still occupies the post of Director of Hospitals, &c., and of the Medical School at Bucarest.


With an army thus constituted and disciplined, Prince Charles went into the Russo-Turkish war as an ally of the Russians, although, at first, not as an active one; and as the success of that terrible war relieved Roumania from the last vestiges of her dependence upon Turkey, we will endeavour to collect within as narrow limits as possible a few of the leading events wherein she participated, and which affected her claim to European attention.

That the Roumanians rendered valuable services to the Russians before they co-operated actively in arms is well known, and also that the latter had pressing need for such assistance. In May 1877 every facility was given for the passage of troops over the Roumanian railways, hospital equipments taking the precedence, and the Roumanian civil and military hospitals opened their doors to receive the Russian sick; in fact, disastrous as were the Russian reverses throughout the war, they would have entailed far greater misery upon their wounded soldiers if it had not been for the systematic aid which they received from the Roumanians. Then, in preparing for the defence of their own bank of the Danube, the latter were diverting the attention of the Turks, whose gunboats amused themselves in making harmless excursions up and down the river, pretty much as our fleet did between Besika Bay and the Dardanelles, and they were making a line of defence for the Russians in case they should have been obliged to recross tho Danube. Here it is that we first make the acquaintance of Prince Charles, who travelled from post to post on the river inspecting the defences. 'Born a Hohenzollern, and reared an officer in the Prussian army,' says a writer who accompanied him on this tour, 'it is little wonder that Prince Charles of Roumania is above all things a soldier. Since his election to the headship of the Principalities he has sedulously devoted a large share of his energies to the improvement, or rather, in the first instance, to the creation of a Roumanian army, and that his labour has not been lost is apparent to any man having any conversance with military matters, who has spent the last few weeks in the territory over which Prince Charles holds sway.' The prince had at his disposal two army corps, each numbering 28,000 men, fully equipped, whilst the militia, whose strength was about 100,000, was ready for mobilisation at the shortest notice. As to the fighting qualities of these troops writers differ, and we shall refer presently to the changes that took place in the estimation in which they were held as the war progressed; but even at the commencement there were those who lauded their coolness, and said that they did not exhibit any of that tremor under fire which is not wholly unnatural in young soldiers.

Before these men were called into action, however, their powerful allies had suffered terrible defeats at the hands of the enemy. Dealing only with that division of the Russian army which was engaged in Bulgaria, we have to note the following events. On June 27, 1877, the main body of Russians, or the 'army of operations,' as it was called, which was under the command of the Grand Duke Nicholas, crossed the Danube in floating ferries from Simnitza to Sistova, feints having been made to concentrate and pass over in other places at the same time, so as to mislead the Turks as to the intended point of crossing. Although some efforts were made by the latter to prevent the landing on the Bulgarian shore, which resulted in many being killed and wounded on either side, the Russians effected the passage in safety and occupied Sistova, where they found all the houses of the inhabitants sacked and plundered by the Turks, who had beaten a retreat. The Emperor and the Grand Duke Nicholas were either on the spot or in the immediate vicinity at the time of the crossing, the headquarters being then at Ploiesti, on the Bucarest and Orsova, railway, and from that time forward they sustained a series of terrible reverses.

As soon as a sufficient force was landed, they divided the army into three sections, one of which, under General Ghourko, pressed on to the famous Shipka Pass in the Balkans, where he encountered the brave enemy; he occupied the pass on July 19. Another section under the Grand Duke himself—part of the 9th Army Corps—marched onwards to the equally well-known position of Plevna, where Osman Pasha was in command of the Turkish forces, and where the Russians met with their first check. General Krüdener, who commanded the attacking force, was not only repulsed, but, being assailed in his turn by the Turks, he was badly beaten. Two days afterwards, having been reinforced, he, in conjunction with General Schahofskoy, commanding a force of 32,000 men, made a second assault on Plevna, but they were again defeated with terrible loss. On July 31 Ghourko met with a still more serious defeat. He had penetrated with a Russo-Bulgarian force as far as Eski-Zagra (or Zara), where he met the Turks under Suleiman Pasha, and, after a sanguinary encounter, he was not only repulsed, but compelled to withdraw to the Shipka Pass. Suleiman Pasha followed him and succeeded in occupying the village of Shipka, but his attempts to drive the Russians from the pass were unsuccessful, and on August 27 he discontinued his operations and telegraphed for reinforcements, the Russians having in the meantime also received theirs. Suleiman Pasha did not renew the attempt until September 17; and, although at one time he had so far discounted his success as to telegraph a victory to Constantinople, he was finally repulsed.

Added to these and other reverses in Europe, there came tale after tale of disaster in Asia. Kars, which had been besieged by the Russians, was successfully relieved by the Turks under Muktar Pasha, just as, a few months later, Erzeroum was twice attacked by the Russians, who were as many times repulsed. Then it was, when the skies were lowering on all sides, that the Russian emperor and his princes and generals began to look eagerly for aid from their ally north of the Danube; and then, for the safety of his own country, Prince Charles entered the field with his brave little army of Roumanians, and, recalling the days of Stephen and of Michael, and emulating the prowess of the field of Kalugereni, he succeeded in turning the tide of victory, and in saving the honour of that ally, from whom lie subsequently received such poor acknowledgment.


Up to August 25 we hear little or nothing of the movements of the Roumanians, and in every case the fighting was done by the Russians, either alone or in conjunction with their ruthless allies the Bulgarians, the operations being then spoken of as those of the 'Russo-Bulgarian' forces; but on the date named, or thereabouts, the main portion of the Roumanian army crossed the Danube, and thenceforward the Bulgarians are seldom mentioned, and the contest is prosecuted by the 'allies,' or the 'Russo-Roumanian' army. At first the Roumanian soldiers receive scant regard at the hands of the chroniclers: indeed, on one or two occasions they are referred to with marked contempt. Writing from Giurgevo on June 5 (that was before the Russians had crossed the Danube at Simnitza), one of the correspondents says:—'Whilst eating and talking, I heard one or two curious incidents that occurred here when the Cossacks first came. In the course of reconnoitring the country, five Cossacks, with an under-officer, came upon a post of twenty Roumanian soldiers, likewise under the command of an under-officer. The five Cossacks immediately arrested the twenty Roumanians, brought them in to headquarters, and reported them to General Skobeleff as prisoners of some unknown army. The Cossacks were not quite sure, apparently, whether they were Turks or not, so they thought that they had better bring them in, an operation to which the Roumanians, although vastly superior in numbers, consented with not a little murmuring.'

This anecdote, it must be understood, was told by a party of Russian officers, and is unworthy of critical examination, but it shows in what estimation they held the men who were afterwards to be their indispensable helpmates, and in a sense their leaders and preservers. Other writers represented the Roumanian soldiers in a more favourable light from the beginning of the war. Their coolness under fire has already been mentioned, and the same correspondent, in describing the defensive operations at Kalafat, says: 'I was struck with the admirable conduct at this time of the Roumanian gunners, who never flinched in the slightest degree under the trying ordeal.' After their defeats before Plevna and elsewhere, the Russians, too, began to estimate their allies at something nearer their real value.

'The Russian authorities,' writes the same correspondent in the month of August, 'are greatly pleased with the appearance and apparent efficiency of the Roumanian artillery. Indeed, the Roumanian troops are everywhere now spoken of with a consideration not previously evinced.'

No more talk now of five Russians running in twenty Roumanians; and we shall hear quite a different story presently. And not alone had the soldiers risen in Muscovite esteem, but the Russians were beginning to understand that there might be some virtue in the commanders also; for about September 1, or a day or two previously, they so far admitted their superiority as to invite Prince Charles to take the command-in-chief of the whole Russo-Roumanian army before Plevna, which he did, with the Russian general Zotoff as chief of his staff and second in command.

On this occasion he issued an address to the Roumanian soldiers, reminding them that success for the Turks would mean pillage and desolation in their fatherland, assuring them that, although their numbers were few, he had confidence in their courage, and in their ability to retain for Roumania the good opinion which she deserved and enjoyed amongst the nations of Europe. He concluded by announcing, in modest terms, his own appointment as Commander-in-chief of the allied armies.


On August 31, Osman Pasha had made a sortie against the besiegers, in which he was eventually repulsed with heavy loss, and then it was that under the new command a fresh attack on Plevna was decided upon. In order, however, to understand the events which followed, and the part taken therein by the Roumanians, it is necessary that we should briefly describe the position and constitution of the forces engaged, and refer to the operations which preceded the assault.

The scene of the long-continued struggle is an undulating country, and Plevna, the centre of attack and defence, is in the hollow of a valley running in a northerly and southerly direction. The ground adjacent to this valley was described by one of the war correspondents as consisting of great solid waves with their faces set edgeways to the valley of Plevna. To describe it in detail here would be impossible, but the positions of the attacking and defending armies were very simple. The Turkish positions were, roughly speaking, 'a horseshoe, with its convexity pointing east, and the town of Plevna standing about the centre of the base.' Another writer compares it to 'a reaping-hook, with the point opposite Bukova, the middle of the curve opposite Grivica, the junction of the handle close on to Plevna, and the end of the handle at Krishine.'

The Russians had been surrounding this horseshoe, leaving the base open, and the form of their attack on this occasion was in the line of their environment straight to their front. The main point of interest in the struggle, so far as we are concerned, is the Turkish redoubt of Grivica or Grivitza, the strongest of all the positions of defence: this was situated on the toe, if we may so call it, of the horseshoe, and directly opposite was the Russo-Roumanian centre.

The Russo-Roumanian army numbered about 80,000 infantry, of whom 28,000 were Roumanians, in two corps, under Colonels George and Alexander Angelescu, and 10,000 cavalry, whereof 4,000 were Roumanians. The whole Roumanian division was commanded by General Cernat; the Russians by Baron Krüdener, General Kriloff, Prince Meretinsky, and the brave but erratic General Skobeleff; and this army of 90,000 men was provided with 250 field and 20 siege guns. The number of the defenders under Osman Pasha is estimated at about 70,000 men.

Here is a concise account of the attack. After the unsuccessful sortie of Osman Pasha on August 31, in which the Russians recovered all the positions temporarily occupied by the enemy, there was a partial cessation of hostilities before Plevna until September 6. Meanwhile, on the 3rd, a force of 22,000 Russians under Meretinsky, including a brigade of Cossacks commanded by Skobeleff, succeeded, after a sanguinary conflict, in driving 7,000 Turks from the village of Loftcha and a defensive position west of it, which they permanently occupied. This operation had the effect of cutting off the supplies of Osman Pasha from the south. An artillery duel then followed between the whole of the attacking and defending armies, which lasted until the 11th, and, judging from the long and careful accounts of the correspondents, the firing seems to have had little effect on either side. In the interim the Roumanians were posted opposite the Grivitza Redoubt, which, as we have already said, was the most formidable of all the Turkish defences. Meretinsky and Skobeleff were in the vicinity of the Loftcha road; and Kriloff and Krüdener were moving about in co-operation, the former having posted himself on the Radisovo height with the forces under his command. Of the Grivitza and the Roumanian operations we shall speak more fully hereafter. At the other points of attack nothing serious happened until the 11th, when, a general assault being ordered, the attack of Kriloff and Krüdener was directed against a position known as the 'Mamelon,' south of Plevna, whilst Skobeleff made a vigorous assault upon a double redoubt on the south-east, the object being to carry these positions which were believed to be the most vulnerable, whilst the Roumanians were 'holding' the Turks at their strongest redoubt—the Grivitza. Supported by Roumanian artillery, Kriloff attacked the 'Mamelon' three times during the day, each time with fresh forces; but he was as often repulsed with terrible loss, the third attack and defeat lasting only twenty minutes. In fact, Kriloff and Krüdener were repulsed all along the line. Skobeleff was somewhat more fortunate, having begun his attack after Kriloff's second reverse. With a loss of 2,000 men he succeeded in carrying the Turkish position; and at a further sacrifice of 3,000 he held it for a time only, for it was commanded by the Krishine redoubt (which was the ultimate object of his operations) on his left, and by Plevna on the north. The Turks attempted in vain five times to dislodge him. Skobeleff supplicated time after time for support, but it only arrived when, after the sixth Turkish attack—this time successful—he had been forced to withdraw, and was retreating to his old ground. The closing scene of his day's operations has been frequently described, but as his recent escapade gives fresh interest to anything concerning him, it will lose nothing by repetition: 'It was just after this that I met General Skobeleff the first time that day. He was in a fearful state of excitement and fury. His uniform was covered with mud and filth, his sword broken, his cross of St. George twisted round on his shoulder, his face black with powder and smoke, his eyes haggard and bloodshot, and his voice quite gone. He spoke in a, hoarse whisper. I never before saw such a picture of battle as he presented. I saw him again in his tent at night. He was quite calm and collected. He said, "I have done my best. I could do no more. My detachment is half destroyed; my regiments do not exist. I have no officers left. They sent me no reinforcements, and I have lost three guns." They were three of the four guns which he placed in the redoubt upon taking it, only one of which his retreating troops had been able to carry off. "Why did they refuse you reinforcements?" I asked. "Who was to blame?" "I blame nobody," he replied; "it is the will of God!"'


We have thus loosely described how the Turks had effectually disposed of the whole Russian attack excepting that of the Roumanians, and now we must turn for a moment to enquire what was occurring at Grivitza. This redoubt is constantly referred to by the correspondents as the most formidable of all the Turkish positions. It is called 'the indomitable Grivica redoubt;' 'the dreaded redoubt;' 'they' (the Russians) 'may bombard it for a week, sacrifice a brigade of infantry, and not succeed in taking it.' 'The Turkish positions,' says one writer, 'opposite to the Roumanian section, are the stronger both by nature and art. But there are but 28,000 Roumanians to 50,000 Russians. It seems logically to follow that the function of the Roumanians is intended to be chiefly of a demonstrative character.' How 'demonstrative' it was we shall see presently.

Already on the 7th and 8th, the Russian siege guns had been pushed forward in closer proximity to the Grivitza, and on the 9th the Roumanians worked their batteries nearer to it; whilst on the 10th their infantry occupied a natural shelter-trench, from which they were picking off the Turkish gunners in the redoubt. On the same day a couple of companies of Russians, thinking the redoubt was evacuated, made an attempt to take it, but when a small party of advancing skirmishers arrived within a hundred yards of the foot of the glacis, they were confronted by a row of rifle muzzles and Turkish heads, and thought it more prudent to retire.

On the 11th, however, the Roumanians, with whom were three battalions of Russians, made their 'demonstration' against the Grivitza simultaneously with the Russian attacks on the other redoubts. Little attention appears to have been paid to them in the slaughter of that terrible day, but on the following the correspondents narrated the result of their operations, and as those not only substantiated the title of the young army to élan and bravery, but really constituted the turning point in the war, we will endeavour to follow their brief descriptions of the events.

'It appears,' writes one of the chroniclers, 'that at half-past two p.m. the redoubt was attacked by two Roumanian brigades each consisting of four battalions, and three battalions of Russians. The Roumanians attacked from the east and south-east, the Russians from the south and south-west. The attack was made in the following manner:—First a lino of skirmishers with men carrying scaling ladders, gabions, and fascines among them. The latter had their rifles slung on their backs, and were ordered in no case to fire but merely to run forward, fill up the ditch, and place their ladders behind. Then followed the second line in company column formation for the attack, followed by the third line to support the assault. At half-past two p.m. the attack was made by the Roumanians, and it is said that by some mistake the Russians arrived half an hour too late. Be that as it may, the assault was repulsed, and all retired except two companies of infantry, which rallied, and, keeping under cover, maintained a brisk fire against the work.

'At half-past five the attack was renewed by a battalion of the Roumanian militia, followed by two Russian battalions of the 17th and 18th regiments. The redoubt was then carried, and the Turks withdrew to the other redoubt a little to the north of the captured work. But it was soon apparent that the redoubt could not be held without reinforcements, and three Roumanian battalions with a battery of artillery were ordered forward. They lost their way, however, in the fog, and were thus precluded from rendering the required assistance; consequently, when the Turks returned to the attack, the allies were driven out.

'The third assault soon followed, and the work was finally captured at seven p.m. Four guns and a standard were the trophies of the feat of arms. More than once during the night did the Turks advance with shouts of "Allah," but no serious attack was made. Thus, to my surprise, when I reached the Plevna valley this morning, I beheld a flagstaff up defiantly exposing the Roumanian flag in that hitherto dreaded Grivica Redoubt.'

How sanguinary had been the struggle which is here described in a few commonplace sentences is manifest from the subsequent appearance of the captured redoubt.

'The interior of this large work was piled up not only with dead but with wounded, forming one ghastly undistinguishable mass of dead and living bodies, the wounded being as little heeded as the dead. The fire had hindered the doctors from coming up to attend to the wounded, and the same cause had kept back the wounded-bearers. There were not even comrades to moisten the lips of their wretched fellow-soldiers, or give them a word of consolation. There they lie, writhing and groaning. I think some attempt might have been made, at whatever risk, to aid these poor fellows, for they were gallant men, who, twenty-four hours before, had so valiantly and successfully struggled for the conquest of that long-uncaptured redoubt; and it was sad now to see them dying without any attempt being made to attend to them. I could fill pages with a description of this harrowing scene and others near it, which I witnessed, but the task would be equally a strain on my own nerves and on those of your readers.'

But the Roumanians were not contented with holding their position. Within 250 yards of the Grivitza was another Turkish redoubt whose fire commanded the former, and that they attempted in vain to take on the 11th. Nothing daunted, however, they held their ground day after day, and on the 18th they made another gallant but futile attempt to expel the enemy from his position. 'It is said they will renew it,' writes one of the spectators, 'and there is plenty of fight in Prince Charles's gallant young army, but, in my opinion, there is little chance of success unless they work up to the hostile redoubt by sap.' On September 24 they were progressing by trenches, and were only 80 yards from the second Grivitza redoubt. 'Their fighting spirit and cheerful endurance of hardships are admirable,' we hear. And again, on the 26th: 'The Roumanians are pushing forward their works against the second redoubt with a perseverance and pluck worthy all praise, and which is the more remarkable as the Russians are doing absolutely nothing on their side.' This contrast comes from the pen of the chronicler who told the story of the twenty Roumanians being taken prisoners by five Russians, and whose views of the relative merits of the combatants had evidently undergone considerable modification; for he now says of the Russians: 'They are waiting for reinforcements, which are arriving slowly, and which, when they are here, will hardly more than cover the losses by battle and by sickness during the last two months. I think history offers no such example of a splendid army in such an utterly helpless condition. The Roumanian generals are showing far more pluck and energy.'

The Roumanians were unable to capture the second redoubt, but they managed not only to hold their advanced position before Plevna, but to give material assistance elsewhere in turning the siege into an investment. On November 21 they captured Rahova, on the Danube, which greatly facilitated operations against the doomed fortress and aided to make the works of the allies impregnable. In the closing incidents of the investment of Plevna the Roumanians took little or no part in consequence of the position which they occupied. On the morning of December 10, Osman Pasha made his brave but unsuccessful attempt to break through the Russian lines, a struggle in which both sides performed prodigies of valour. One whole Russian regiment was annihilated in the effort to check the enemy, whose general was himself wounded; and after having kept the Russo-Roumanian army at bay with an inferior force for more than four months, he was at length obliged to surrender with his whole army. Here is a glimpse of the final scene, as the wounded hero met his conquerors:—

'The Grand Duke rode up to the carriage, and for some seconds the two chiefs gazed into each other's faces without the utterance of a word. Then the Grand Duke stretched out his hand and shook the hand of Osman Pasha heartily and said: "I compliment you on your defence of Plevna; it is one of the most splendid military feats in history." Osman Pasha smiled sadly, rose painfully to his feet in spite of his wound, said something which I could not hear, and then reseated himself. The Russian officers all cried "Bravo! bravo!" repeatedly, and all saluted respectfully. There was not one among them who did not gaze on the hero of Plevna with the greatest admiration and sympathy. Prince Charles, who had arrived, rode up, and repeated unwittingly almost every word of the Grand Duke, and likewise shook hands. Osman Pasha again rose and bowed, this time in grim silence.'


How easy it is to be magnanimous to a fallen foe; how difficult, with some people, to be honourable in their dealings with an ally, especially if he has been successful where they failed! The first is a claim of superiority, and the higher the meed of praise awarded by us to the vanquished the greater appears our victory; but the less we admit to be due to our comrade in arms, the greater credit is left for ourselves. And yet what will be the judgment of posterity upon the conduct of Russia towards her brave ally who had saved her honour, if not the integrity of her empire? Whatever she may think, the joy-bells would have rung throughout a great portion of Europe, and certainly the party then dominant in England would have rejoiced exceedingly, if she had been driven back over the Pruth, and had been compelled to busy herself with much-needed reforms in her own country instead of meddling with the affairs of her neighbours and seeking to extend her already overgrown possessions.

The war was never popular with the masses in Roumania, and although, at the opening of the Chambers in November 1877, the royal speech predicted that the fall of Plevna would mean a complete emancipation for Roumania, much uneasiness prevailed concerning the designs of Russia—uneasiness which was justified by subsequent events. On December 17, a load having been lifted from the mind of the nation by the surrender of Osman Pasha, there was great rejoicing at Bucarest on the occasion of the Czar's visit. He was on his way to St. Petersburg to receive the congratulations of his subjects, having left Plevna behind him, 'full of horrors.' He is dead now, but his son and all princes who live by the sword would do well to peruse and reperuse the accounts of the tragical scenes that the victors left upon the battle-field when they departed to receive the ovations of the fickle populace. The Roumanians fêted their victorious allies, to whom it must be admitted that we have here done ample justice in all their proceedings. But they were the same Russians who, under Peter the Great, were reported to have stolen the boots from the feet of their sleeping hosts; the same whose hands the Roumanians had kissed when in 1829 they had released them from the Turkish yoke; who it 1853 overran the Principalities with a view to their permanent occupation, and who a few months after the events above recorded betrayed their allies, and, for the risk they had run of once more sacrificing their national existence, deprived them of Southern Bessarabia, a province inhabited almost entirely by Roumanians.

Still the war brought its compensating advantages. The Dobrudscha which the Roumanians received in exchange for Bessarabia, is proving a more valuable acquisition both for trade and for strategical purposes than was at first anticipated.

The Treaty of San Stephano, which was executed between Russia and Turkey on February 19 [March 3], 1878, and was practically confirmed by the Berlin Conference, contained amongst its other provisions this one (part of Article V.): 'The Sublime Porte recognises the independence of Roumania, which will establish its right to an indemnity to be discussed between the two countries;' and (part of Article XII.): 'All the Danubian strongholds shall be razed. There shall be no strongholds in future on the banks of this river, nor any men-of-war in the waters of the Principalities of Roumania, Servia, and Bulgaria, except the usual stationnaires and the small vessels intended for river police and custom-house purposes.' And Article XIX. gave to Russia that part of Turkey bordering on the Danube, known as the Dobrudscha, which Russia 'reserves the right of exchanging for the part of Bessarabia detached from her by the treaty of 1856,' and which, to the great indignation of the Roumanians, she subsequently forced them to relinquish in 'exchange' for her newly acquired territory.

But n'importe. Roumania was free; and this time she had fought for and won her complete independence.


There is something unsettled in the nature of an independent principality. The title fails to convey the idea of a free and sovereign people, and we are always disposed to regard it as the possible province of some annexing neighbour. So thought a writer on Roumania four years ago, at the close of the war of liberation. 'Situated as it is, as an independent State, it must sooner or later fall to Russia or Austria, more probably to the former.' So, in all probability, thought the Russian diplomatists when they created a number of weak principalities south of the Danube to serve them as stepping-stones to Constantinople. And so, too, thought the Roumanians themselves. They knew that a name is 'neither hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man,' and so they 'doffed the name,' and on May 23, 1881, with the concurrence of the great Powers of Europe, they invested their prince and princess with the royal dignity, placing upon their sovereign's head a crown made from the very guns which he had captured whilst he was fighting for their liberties.

The poetic sentiment which attaches to this last act of the people of Roumania brings vividly before our mind's eye the dramatic character of her whole national career. Twice have we found the course of her history lost in darkness—first in the clouds of antiquity by which the early life of every nation is obscured; then in the still impenetrable gloom of the so-called dark ages, which continued to hang over the Danubian plains long after it was lifted from every other part of Europe. Conquered first, and civilised by one who ranks amongst the greatest heroes of the Roman Empire, she has inherited a high antiquity of which she may be justly proud, remembering, however, that honourable ancestry alone is not the measure of a nation's greatness. But then, for ages we might almost say, the blast which swept across her plains with all the fury of a tempest, but, as it travelled westward, broke and moderated under the influence of the older civilisation, caused a second blank in her existence; and when she once more rose from her prostration, she found herself whole centuries behind the western peoples. But hardly had she time to breathe again, and ere the wounds inflicted on her by the Goths, and Huns, and Avars were yet fully healed, another ruthless conqueror had laid hands upon her; and spite of all her efforts to regain her liberty he held her fast, and sent her taskmasters as cruel and exacting as the leaders of barbarian hordes had been before. And yet her spirit was indomitable; bowed but not broken she continued to live on, and ever strove for freedom. Mircea, Stephen, Michael, those are the names which vindicate her claim to courage, and which shield her from the charge of cowardly submission. And next she is the object of contention between two neighbouring despots, the one endeavouring to hold, the other to annex her. It is a marvelt hat between them she was not dismembered limb from limb.

At length for her, as for all suffering peoples, the day of liberation was at hand; the iron bonds which Oriental despotism had forged were loosened by the agency of Western progress, and, lightened of her load, she this time struck a more effectual blow for liberty, and was amongst the first to unfurl the flag of freedom in the East. But a long succession of barbarian governors, the license of repeated military occupations, the proximity of Tartar savagery on the one side and of Oriental effeminacy on the other, these incidents of her long-continued vassalage have necessarily, and, it is to be hoped, but for a time, left their evil influence upon the nation, which it is now the earnest endeavour of her patriotic leaders to exterminate.