PASSAGE OF THE BALKANS IN TIIt, . tha DEAD OF WINTER. cut|1878-01-19|The Cardigan Observer and General Advertiser for the Counties of Cardigan Carmarthen and Pembroke - Welsh Newspapers Online
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PASSAGE OF THE BALKANS IN…

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PASSAGE OF THE BALKANS IN TIIt, tha DEAD OF WINTER. cut OWRKO'S ADVANCE.' ,T The special correspondent of the Dally atfe of from the head-quarters of General Goorko, Ouri| me near Sofia, Dec. 29, gives an account of the ext$the ordinary passage of the Balkans in mid-Winter. Af which we take the following extracts: f1" mL 0F THE ADVANCE.. gpfl The plan of the projected advance, >npd«<f hil the whole order of the campaign thus f^, an( mainly due I believe to the chief of ?ene» fac Gourko s staff, General Naglovsky. Tbe Plan *1 as precise as a mathematical problem. "J work was laid out explicitly for eaeh ^bn^nimi The physical difficulties of crossing Mto range that separates the valleys of Orkhaoieand o°fidha in fact the great Balkan range, were so much increased by the formation of ice, that it was altogether ^P°4g0 8lble to carry out the details of the plan. Therefor^ I will only give the general outline. The army WaC" divided into nine detachments. Three of these wer%j to form a column, which was to cross to the west oJK Araba Konak and come down into the villages ot h, Curiak, Potok, and Stolnik. The command of tDe ad. vance guard of this column, consisting of two battalions of the rifle brigade, the Prasbrajenski and SmaHofM Regiments, one brigade of Kuban Cossacks and sixteen k guns, was entrusted to General Bauch. Tbe entire fe- column numbered thirty-one battalions and forty » guns, the Kuban Cossacks, one squadron of Cossacks of the Caucasus, and five squadrons of dragoons. The second column, commanded by General Wilbelminot, composed of a brigade of the 31st Division of infant of the "ne, two brigades of cavalry of the Guard, one battery of field pieces, and one horse battery, was di- rected to cross the range bv the point marked on the Austrian map as Urmages: ^het^rd_COluT'led General Dondeville, *as to turn the Turkish position on the summits east of the Pass, crossing the range where the word onJ;he maP» debouching into the valley at Mierhovo. The fourth column, commanded by General Schilder-Schuldner. was to demonstrate against Lutikova. The fifth column, comprising a regiment of Grenadiers, one and a half battalions of a regiment of the line, two sotnias of Cossacks, and two guns, was to remain in position near Slatica to watch llamarli. n e a REVEILLE. Before daylignt °n Christmas morning thebuglea sounded the reveille again and again, and soon the infantry crowded the streets on the march towards R waa bitterly cold and frosty. The fog had settled down so densely that before sunrise the darkness was absolutely impenetrable, and even after daybreak objects across the narrow streets were vague and indistinct. The fog clung to the houses and trees and the clothing of the soldiers, and froze there, covering every surface with a glistening garment of n*ne o'clock General Gourko and his staff left the town for the bivouac of the Dragoons on the chauaaeejust behind the positions there. A RABE SPECTACLE. It was a rare spectacle this group of horsemen as they moved slowly along the ice-pave-1 chauseee. The aides-de-camp were dressed in the most fantastic cos- tumes. Some were in greatcoats of dressed skins orna- mented with embroidery and buttons. Some were enveloped in Circassian cloaks, all doubled up with the weight of additional clothing, and with capuchons and wraps about the head. General Gourko, leading the group, was alone dressed in a simple surtout, without mufflers of any kind. He rode along appa- rently unconscious that the frost was turning his beard white, and covering himself and horse with frozen crystals. It resembled more a carnival cavalcade than a general with his staff, the effect being heigh- tened by the picturesque Kuban Cossacks in the con- voy with their sheepskin hats and curious weapons. Before we had been out half an hour icicles hung from the beards and from the horses' mouths, and f6,8 Pfocession of so many Santa Glaus we rode into the defile through the chill fog, the view being limited to the snow-laden trees along the roadside. The sol- diers began to straggle, several dropped, overcome with cold and fatigue, and some were iniured by fall- ing on the ice. HAULING UP GUNS BY HAND. I finally determined to make my way to the summit, and started off two hours before sunset. The way was completely blocked with artillery and infantry. The soldiers had made fires along the path and were cooking their suppers, and everybody seemed to be taking matters Tery easy. Hard climbing broughtme to the first difficult place inthepath, and here Idiscovered the cause of the delay. Four guns and their caissons were being hauled up by hand. The ropes were short, permitting not more than sixty men to take hold, and even th;S number worked with exasperating de- liberation. It was soldiers of the line that were de- tailed to bring up the first cannon. They were small men, unused to such work, and after a long march from Plevna did not enter with any enthusiasm into the novel and exhausting labour. General Bauch stood half way up the first steep incline, encouraging the men to pull, and spurring up the officers. Long after dark I worked my way up from ene crowd of soldiers to another. The intervals between the cannon grew longer and longer, and when I reached the first one I found the men all lying about resting as calmly as if it were not an important part of the plan of the enterprise that all the troops should get up the mountain before morning. The officers lay down and slept. The men made fires. Others scooped a hole in the snow, and were soon snoring peacefully. The choruses which had sounded along the path as the soldiers hauled the heavy caissons up, inch by inch, sle t Cease(* alt0&etber, and apparently everybody SNOW BIVOUAC. Towards midnight General Gourko came up the path, followed by his staff. He could no longer endure the delay, and his sleepless energy would not permit him to remain inactive in the rear. A Cossack post was found on the summit of the watershed, and here the general and his staff lay down on the snow around two fires, which were kept low that the enemy might not notice them, and slept like the soldiers. The Pravbra- jensk regiment had advanced into the village of Ouriak, already for some days occupied by the dra- goon outposts, and with them part of the train of pack Worses had descended in the early part of the night, so that there was little to eat and meagre com- tort in the snow bivouac. Officers and soldiers lay around indiscriminately as near the fires as they could get, for the icy wind was blowing across the peak. and the snow was freezing hard. VIEW OF THE GREAT PLAIN OF SOFIA. The sun rose on a scene of wonderful picturesque- ness and a landscape of serene beauty. Generals and aides-de-camp, some wrapped in Bourkas and furs, .some in overcoats alone, without additional covering, h n Bnow huddled together about the .ff" Cossacks and dragoons were already busy with their cooking, and huhdreds of horses tied to the trees about the bivouac stamped impatiently in the snow. Southward lay the great plain of Sofia, its pure white face only broken by little dark lines where the villages were, and beyond, half veiled in dense clouds, were the mountains further south, and the great peak Titos that tcwers over Sofia. Through the trees eastward was clearly visible the great bare peak near the Bilia-Konak Pass, and the lines of the lurkish works were drawn on the snow as plainly as pencil marks on white paper. General Bauch, always on foot, clambered up to the bivouac for a few moments' rest, and to consult with General Geurko, p motive power, and General Maglovsky, the soul or the enterprise. Then both General Bauch and General Gourko were off again to hasten tho move- ments. W THE DESCENT. the twilight came on we all started down the mountain, everybody on foot, for the path was so steep and slippery that no horse could carry a rider T j' -A snowstorm began before we had gone far, and doubled the difficulty of the descent. Part of the way we slid down like so many schoolboys, and after- warGs -let ourselves down through the undergrowth, for the road was one solid sheet of ice. Two or three toiles of this work brought us to n e head of the valley, and we were over the xJaifians, breathless with the exertion of the descent. We paused a moment, and shook bands in the darkness, and then pushed on to the village, where we slept under a roof as peacefully as if the Turks were twenty miles instead of one mile away. How ^nnon came down this side it is almost impos- 81 ^11, for the road was for a long distance only a ^7 'nade by the rain, and the incline was so steep ana slippery that it was almost impossible to stand 0n.-v, road. However, the four pounders were in at daybreak, and the regiment of the line filed through in the forenoon. N «. T-HE 1>A8SAGE ACCOMPLISHED. J8 a 8ma^ village hidden away in a hin. ♦ a na,,row valley winds through the Plain beyond, a couple of hours' ride aistant. At daybreak on the 27th the Circassian 1 outposts were standiBg on a little hill scarcely a i mue away, and we saw an officer with his staff come up and take a look, then gallop away. The < Brigade 0f Kuban Cossacks was sent down the valley t with one regiment of infantry to the left, and 1 one up on the height to the right. There was a little 15 13 f be valley. The Turks in a little rifle pit 1 on the hill fired four rounds and then retired. The c st> rpruyjg Kubans pushed ahead and saw out on the a plain a long transport train slowJv moving towards v > Ir0nak* They received orders to try and capture a About! three o'clock two ^uadron8'8c&rcely uiore t n 100 horsemen—dashed down into the plain and off half the train, more than 200 waggons en with provisions and forage. The two squadrons Turkish regular cavalry and Circassians retired un- r< diately, when the Kubans came down; but finding Q y were not outnumbered, returned and gave battle, 01 ;er a short sharp fight, in which ten Turks were e: led and two Cossacks wounded, the waggons were 1 t in the Bussian hands. The Cossacks cut the tele- a iph wires, the infantry took up positions on the a Is near the plain, past the village of Poton, t< 1 the passage of the Balkans was an accomplished 0 t- c SNOW-STOBM ON THE MOUNTAINS. 1] Late last evening the column of General Wilhel- nof began to debouch into this valley, the descent il Zilava having proved impracticable. These troops I ve undergone the most severe hardships, and report r it the storm on the mountain was terrible, c ldiers who paused for a few moments became t listinguishable from masses, of snow. Many strayed j ray. All suffered from want of food; and when ey arrived here after an almost continuous march I five days, and for thirty-six hours without a halt, l ey were drenched and half frozen tegether. BRINGING IN A BABY. f The crossing has thus far cost very few lives, and t was accomplished, too, in the face of unusually rere weather, and to the complete surprise of the emy. The Cossacks have played a most important part this movement, and the history of their actions would ake a most interesting letter. They bring in prisoners most every day, half-naked and scarcely recognisable human beings, Turkish. Circassians who have come 1 io their lines believing them to be of the samearmyfrom 1 B similarity of dress. Yesterday a blond young Kuban fcsack came riding in with a child of three years 1 slung in the mane of his horse as a cradle. The |ld was happily eating a morsel of hard bread, and n been thrown away by its mother from one of the insport waggons which escaped. The tenderness >h which the Cossack handled the chi'd, and the Jression that his face wore as he fed the baby and te it trinkets to play witbrwere most touching. Aen the child was taken froin the horse to be given She Bed Cross attendants it cried lustily, and refused consoled. UNDER COVER IN STRAW SHELTERS. cohere was a most peculiar effect of the column jning down through the snow. The sky and the attains were all one colour, and the only spot on ajiblank white space was the winding black line o moving down, as if from the heavens. One by sl. e soldiers slid and scrambled down the steep a and the cannon were let down by ropes, wound Vajt the trees er strong bushes. Once in the thv> after their five days of mountain climbing, ag )proceeded to make themselves as comfortable lQ Isible under the circumstances, and the houses COIf villages being already overcrowded, the men alWUcted straw shelters in a few m men far, so that Ve under cover by sunset. rjtt PANORAMA OF THE MOUNTAIN CLIMB. tain'panorama of that mountain climb would con- dradore scenes of personal devotion and more batd hunoan interest than most of the larger r,ictn of the war. Every step presented a new a Ian Gathered round a small fire at the foot of the lrree two or three Guardsmen would be relating turesPy Dubnik, and with animated ges- jnourfostrating how they dragged guns up the the so118 near Etropol. The small audience of in the[er8 line who had spent weary months at th#eTna inches could only stand and wonder they °f the Guard, and, too cold to sleep, of thd8^ the long night thus in exchanging stories on thrr* fuddled up against the banked snow were of the pathway at every few paces those soldiers who carried up the muskets of over I10 hauled the guns, and we stumbled bundle £ ny lying in the path, shapeless from .could only be recognised as soldiers snow a^6 rifles which were stuck in the the mejlay scattered about en either side the track, make a fallen asleep after futile efforts to dragginr oufc of the green wood* When the soldiers down wr10 Cftnnon halted for a moment they lay ice onel°ut SO of the rope and slept on the g ng upon the other. Their feet were wrapped heads a^d skins, pointed capuchins covered their ♦Ii • gijpst hiding the faces, and most of them wore talking tent as a cloak. A file of them slowly s. Jftst in the darkness had a wondrously fheir ova60*" *n intense cold of the night When thrata "wcame inflexible like sheets of iron. t resquetf10011 r08e lighted a scene of weird pic- inst tjJg, figures and trees coming out oark mysterious background of snow, and the At intervf1 beinS l°at far up in the frosty haze, f men cf al°ne ^e track were motionless groups kled fon' *lorseB» an(l caissons; and little fires fc7^in \h a ruddy light all over the mountain side.

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FOREIGN AND COLONIAL. I

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