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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 8th, 1878 - The Battle of Shipka Pass

Conflict: Russo-Turkish War

Combatants: Ottoman Turks vs. Russians

Location: Bulgaria

Outcome: Russian Victory

In 1876, the Ottoman suppression of Christian insurrectionists in Bosnia and Herzegovina induced a declaration of war by Serbia and Montenegro. The Ottomans, however, made short work of their Slav enemy. Hoping to come to the aid of their Slavic brothers, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire the following year. The Russian army mobilized 275,000 and invaded the Balkans and Turkey.

Fighting Around Shipka by Simon Agopyan

In the fall of 1877, one army of the Russian Empire lay siege to the city of Plevna, Bulgaria while a second army maneuvered through the mountains along the Shipka Pass. The Russians were met by a larger Turkish force under command of Suleiman Pasha. Although initially driven back, the Russians brought in reinforcements and counterattacked. The two armies settled into entrenchments.

Russian positions at Shipka Pass by Vasily Vereshchagin

But on December 10th, Plevna fell to the Russian forces and reinforcements were sent to the Shipka Pass. On January 8th of 1878, now with 50,000 troops, the Russians launched a fierce new offensive against the Turks. After one day of fighting, the Turks surrendered having lost 4,000 men killed. An additional 36,000 Turks were taken prisoner. The Russians lost about 5,000


Suleiman Husnu Pasha by Abdullah Freres

Points of Interest:

  • After Plevna and Shipka, the Russians pushed the Turk back to the outskirts of Constantinople; an armistice followed shortly thereafter.

  • The Treaty of San Stefano, signed on March 3rd 1878, forced Turkey to pay indemnity to Serbia, Rumania, and Montenegro as well as granting independence.

  • The Russian Empire gained control of Ardahan, Kars, Batum, and Bayazid through the treaty.



Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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