Pleven

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Pleven

(plĕ`vĕn) or

Plevna

(plĕv`nə), city (1993 pop. 130,354), N Bulgaria. A commercial center for a fertile agricultural region, it has food-processing industries and manufactures cotton textiles, cement, and wood and rubber goods. An old Thracian settlement, Pleven was later occupied by the Romans. It became a trade center under Turkish rule (15th–19th cent.). The city is famous for its defense by the Turks against Russian and Romanian troops in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. Its fall (1877) to the Russians after four months of fighting caused the Turks to demand an armistice.

Pleven

 

(Plevna), a city in northern Bulgaria on the fertile Danubian plain, 35 km from the Danube River. Administrative center of Pleven District. Population, 108,000 (1973). Pleven is an important transportation point on the Sofia-Pleven-Varna railroad. The city developed as a large processing center for products from the rich agricultural regions surrounding it. There are meat-dairy, canning, and wine-making factories in the city. Machine building is developing rapidly, especially the manufacture of forges and presses and equipment for the energetics industry, casting, and wine-making, as well as the production of instruments and power trucks. A large petroleum-refining and petrochemical combine is located west of Pleven.

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, bitter fighting for Pleven continued from July 8 (20) to Nov. 28 (Dec. 10), 1877. After the Russian Army forced the Danube, the Turkish command on July 2 (14) sent the corps of Osman Pasha from Vidin to Pleven. The corps arrived on July 7 [19] to deliver a flank attack in an attempt to halt the Russian Army’s advance before it crossed the Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains) and to pin down its forces. After taking Nikopol on July 4 (16), the Russian command assigned Lieutenant General ShiPder-Shul’dner’s detachment of 9,000 men to take Pleven. Without conducting a reconnaissance, the detachment approached Pleven by the evening of July 7 (19). The scattered attacks by Russian regiments mounted on July 8 (20) were repulsed by the Turkish garrison (15,000 men) with considerable losses to the Russians (2,500 men).

For the second assault on Pleven the Russian command pitted Lieutenant General N. P. Kridener’s Corps of more than 26,000 men and 140 guns against the Turks. The reinforced Turkish garrison had 22,000–24,000 men and 58 guns. The assault, which was launched on July 18 (30), was again poorly prepared. Overestimating enemy forces by a factor of three, Kridener acted indecisively. The Turkish defense was not reconnoitered, frontal attacks were mounted from the east and southeast against the most fortified sectors, and the troops were introduced into the battle piecemeal. As a result, despite the bravery and steadfastness of the Russian soldiers and officers, the assault was driven off with losses of roughly 7,000 men. (The Turks lost about 4,000.)

The High Command of the Russian Army, after some confusion, concentrated large forces against Pleven, which the Turks had transformed into a strongly fortified region and which represented a great danger because it was 60 km from the Danube crossings. For the third assault, 83,000 men and 424 guns, including 32,000 Rumanian troops with 108 guns, were concentrated against 34,000 Turks and 72 guns. The nominal commander was Rumanian Prince Carol I, but the real leader was Lieutenant General P. D. Zotov, the chief of staff. Emperor Alexander II and the commander in chief of the Danube Army, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich (the elder), were also near Pleven. The preparation and the conduct of the assault were unsatisfactory. The axes of the main strikes were incorrectly chosen, just as during the second assault. On August 30 (September 11), the Russo-Rumanian forces were able to capture, with great losses, just one redoubt to the east of Pleven. To the southeast of the city, the Russian forces suffered heavy losses and were unable to break through the Turkish defense. Only on the axis of the secondary attack on the left flank was the detachment of Major General M. D. Skobelev successful in capturing the Turkish fortifications southwest of Pleven and reaching the city itself. On August 31 (September 12), the Russian High Command, despite the fact that no aggressive actions were being waged to the east and southeast of Pleven, failed to give Skobelev’s detachment reserve support. After a stubborn defense, he was forced to withdraw under pressure from superior enemy forces. The Russo-Rumanian troops lost about 16,000 men, and the Turks lost 3,000.

On September 1 (13) it was decided to blockade Pleven, and General E. I. Totleben was called from St. Petersburg to direct the operation. In October, General I. V. Gurko’s detachment, made up of guards units, took Turkish strongpoints on the Pleven-Sofia road, including Gorni Dubnik on October 12 (24), Te-lish on October 16 (28), and Dolni Dubnik on October 20 (November 2). As a result, the 50,000-man Turkish garrison in Pleven was completely surrounded. On November 28 (December 10), after an unsuccessful attempt to break out, during which 6,000 men were lost, Osman Pasha surrendered with 43,000 soldiers and officers. The fall of Pleven enabled the Russian command to release more than 100,000 troops for the offensive beyond the Stara Planina.

In the combat at Pleven, the forms and methods of the blockade and encirclement were significantly improved. The Russian Army worked out new infantry tactics in which riflemen in extended skirmish lines skillfully combined fire and movement and used digging in during the offensive. The importance of field fortifications, infantry coordination with artillery, and the role of heavy artillery in preparation for an attack on fortified positions was made clear, and the possibility of controlling indirect artillery fire was proved.

To commemorate the battle at Pleven, various structures have been erected in the city, including a mausoleum for the fallen Russian and Rumanian soldiers, the Skobelev Park and Museum, and the 1877 Liberation of Pleven Historical Museum. In addition, there is a mausoleum for Rumanian soldiers near Grivitsa, two military history museums in the village of Pordim, and approximately 100 other monuments in the environs of Pleven. A monument to the liberation of Pleven by the Soviet Army in 1944 has also been erected in the city. There is a monument at the Il’ia Gates in Moscow to the grenadiers who fell at Pleven.

REFERENCES

Beliaev, N. I. Russko-turetskaia voina, 1877–1878. Moscow, 1956.
Kuropatkin, A. N. Lovcha, Plevna. [St. Petersburg, 1885.]
Martynov, E. I. Blokada Plevny. St. Petersburg, 1900.

Pleven

, Plevna
a town in N Bulgaria: taken by Russia from the Turks in 1877 after a siege of 143 days. Pop.: 102 000 (2005 est.)