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a pass in Bulgaria, in the Stara Planina (Balkan) Mountains, situated at an elevation of 1,185 m. The highway between the cities of Kazanluk and Gabrovo crosses Shipka Pass. Located near the pass is the Liberty Monument (1928–30; architect A. Donkov, sculptor A. Andreev), commemorating the military cooperation between Russian and Bulgarian soldiers and Bulgaria’s liberation from the Turkish yoke in 1877–78. The pass is now a national park.
Shipka Pass was the scene of bitter fighting for its possession during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. On July 7 (19), 1877, after the battles of July 5–6 (17–18), Russian troops took the pass, which afforded the shortest route to Istanbul. The Turkish command, having transferred the army of Suleiman Pasha from Montenegro to the Transbalkan region, decided to launch a counteroffensive with the goal of pushing the Russian troops beyond the Danube. Suleiman’s army, comprising 37,500 men, was instructed to take Shipka Pass and link up with the main forces, located in the vicinities of Ruschuk (Ruse), Shumla, and Silistra. Suleiman sent 27,000 men, along with 48 guns, into Shipka Pass against the Russian-Bulgarian detachment of General N. G. Sto-letov, which held the pass with 4,800 men (including 2,000 Bulgarians) and 27 guns. On the morning of August 9 (21), the Turkish forces launched heavy frontal attacks from the south and southeast up Mount Saint Nicholas in the southern part of the pass. The Russian-Bulgarian forces commanded by Generals V. F. Derozhinskii and Stoletov, reinforced on August 9 (21) by the arrival of 7,500 reserves and 28 guns, beat back numerous enemy attacks, inflicting heavy losses. On August 10 (22), the Turks regrouped and enveloped the pass in a semicircle from the west, south, and east, then launched an assault from three directions on August 11 (23). Despite extremely difficult conditions—the enemy’s great superiority in forces (25,000 men and 34 guns against 7,200 men and 28 guns), a shortage of ammunition, and the intense heat and lack of water—the Russian-Bulgarian forces heroically defended the pass, holding their position despite significant losses (about 1,400 men). On the evening of August 11 (23) and the morning of August 12 (24), reinforcements, comprising about 9,000 men under the command of General M. I. Dragomirov, arrived and swiftly led a counterattack, driving back the enemy, who had approached the pass on the west and east. In the course of bitter fighting that lasted until August 14 (26), the Russian troops tried in vain to capture the height to the west of the pass; they then dug in strongly in Shipka Pass. The Russian losses numbered about 4,000, including more than 500 Bulgarians, while the Turkish losses, according to clearly understated figures, were more than 6,600.
The heroic defense of Shipka Pass disrupted the plans of the Turkish command and prevented the loss of an important strategic position. The Russian troops held Shipka Pass until their offensive in January 1878, driving back new Turkish attacks on September 5 (17) and enduring an exceptionally difficult winter “Shipka camp.”