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THE WAR. \i1 m a


THE WAR. \i1 m a THE CAPTURE OF THE TURKISH TRANSPORT. J A correspondent of the Daily News has the following a TRANSPORT. ¡r fuller account of the capture by the Russians of a o Turkish transport with troops on board. It is dated T 29th Dec.: The Russia left Odessa on the 22nd inst I v and the following day, when off Penderekli, she en- r countered the Mercene, carrying 793 soldiers and 1 Bashi-Bazouks, 20 officers, including a lieutenant of the il t Sultan s yacht Izzedm, and a few women and children, making a total with the crew of 897. It appears that the Mercene mistook the character of the Russia and; thinking she would prove an easy capture for the ( troops, allowed her to approach and get between I them and the coast, which was about five miles off 1 When too late she discovered that she had made a ( mistake, and at the third shot she hauled down her ] flig. Captain Baranoff, having put an officer and twenty-six men on board, and removed the Turkish 1 officers to the Russia, at once made for Sevastopol, 1 where she arrived with the prize as I have described. To return to the movements of the Russia. The captain purposed leaving at once for Odessa with the prisoners, but in the afternoom a storm that had been gradually brewing all day burst on us, ) and by midnight, even ia this landlocked harbour I (Sebastopol), the motion of the steamer might have deranged the digestion of landsmen. At davbreak yesterday, the gale having abated, we put to sea, but I bad not got a dozen m-les from shore when the captain told me he shenld put back, as the roll further on was too heavy for him to risk. Accordingly we returned to our moorings and landed the prisoners here. The colonel of the troops and his two servants were dispatched by rail to Sympheropol. The colonel, who dined, &c., with the captain, had a mel- ancholy expression of countenance, but I observed his appetite was healthy and his religious scruples con- cerning liquids by no means severe. His officers, who messed in the wardroom, were also not bigoted in this respect. To judge from the empty bottles on the table, I think most of them approved of the sherbet of the infidel. About one o'clock yesterday the commander-in- chief, his Highness the Prince Woronsow, paid us a visit, and after lunch we all proceeded to visit the prize, which is lying at the Ouatom House wharf. The Mercene was formerly the Sheriff, and was a passenger and cargo steamer between Con- stantinople and Batoum, taken for this occa- sion by the Government as a transport. She .is a strongly-built and handsomely-fitted screw steamer of 1400 tons, worth, I should say, from twenty to twenty-five thousand pounds sterling. I cannot say ehe was clean; but 793 Turkish soldiers and Bashi-Bazouks are not the most cleanly cargo, and from what I saw of the prisoners I think if I was forced to take a trip either with them or with a cargo of slaves from the African coast, I should cast my lot in with my black brethren. CAPTURE OF SOFIA. Sofia has been abandoned by the Turks and cap- tured by General Gourko. Thus the Russians have gained a valuable base of operations on the southern side of the Etropol Balkans, as well as an important strategical point; while the Servians, advancing from Firot, can effect their junction with the Muscovite columns pushing forward from Orkhanie. But this advantage has not been lightly won. It appears from the official Russian telegrams from Bogot that a serious action was fought on the 2nd of January. The corps of General Weliaminoff, consisting of five battalions of infantry and a brigade of cavalry, with six guns, was attacked and severely handled by twelve Ottoman battalions from Sofia, which were supported by cavalry and eight guns. It is said that after a sanguinary hand-to-hand encounter, in which the Turks lost 1000 killed, they took to flight, and thus left the road to Sofia open to General Gourko. The Russian treops engaged in the movements required to turn the last Turkish positions on the southern spurs of the Etropol Balkans appear to have suffered much from the severity of the weather, since it is acknowledged that out of the detachment 0, General Dandeville ten officers and 810 men are on the sick list, having been frostbitten, while fifty three men were frozen to death. There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of these reports, which emanate from the victorious side. Sofia has been won, but at a terrible cost. Its captors must have suffered fearfully in their advance, and it is doubtful whether for some time they will be able to push thAir progress further. The Ottoman troops which held the Kamarli positions, gallantly and effectually covered during their retreat by the rearguard under the command of Baker Pasha, have retired upon the position of Ichtiman, and have thus closed the road to Tatar Bazardjik against General Gourko. OPERATIONS AT ERZEROUM. The special correspondent of the Daily News at Erzeroum has the following, under date 20th ult.: We have nearly 7000 sick here. Four thousand have been sent to Erzingan and Sivas. The Russians still face Deve-Boyun, within cannon-shot of the advanced forts. Some firing occasionally takes place. The main bulk of the Russians are at Hassan Kale and the villages between the Deve-Boyun defile. There are two columns, one coming slowly down the Olti Valley, which his already arrived within six hours of Erzeroum. The second column is camped in the village of Hms, behind the Palantoken Mountain, south-west of Erzeroum, and also within six hours. The object seems to be to turn t e town north and south, uniting on the Trebizond road between us and the Top Dagh, while the troops at the Deve-Boyun Pass keep the army here in check. The Christian population has been called out, armed, and drilled for the defence of the ramparts. The most extraordinary precautions continue along the north-western ramparts. There is one line of sentinels on the ramparts, three outside, rifle-pits not fifty yards from the edge of the ditch, even in broad daylight. The Turkish soldiers have commenced burning the villages at the mouth of the Olti Valley, to prevent the Russian advanced guard having shelter and forage. The inhabitants are with- drawing to the villages under cover o the town. Apart from these few matters, everything is com- pletely tranquil. No one in Erzeroum would imagine himself in a city all but besieged, and certainly menaced. There is a lack of wood, owing to supplies from the Soghanh Dagh forests being cut off. We are now burning dry dung for fuel, and get a little wood I in the direction of Erzingan. Deserted houses are demolished to supply the troops with wood for fuel. Bread and meat are plentiful. In case the Trebizond road be cut the latter articles will be entirely wanting, and there will be an enormous rise in prices. RADETSKY ACROSS THE BALKANS. A correspondent, dating from Bucharest on the 6th inst., says: An officer who arrived here the other day from the head-quarters of the Army of the Lom in- forms me that General Radetsky crossed the Balkans at the Shipka four or five days aaro, the Turkt having, owing to the severe cold, abandoned their positions previously. The difficulty of obtaining supplies and munitions, which had to be carried up the steep mountain sides by the Bulgarians to the storm-swept peaks where the Turkish positions were, may have been the principal cause of the Turkish retreat. General Radetsky, who attacked. these same positions last August, and was repulsed, has had a severe task since then in clinging with teeth and nails to the rocky mountain summit, scarcely daring to look over it, in momentary danger of being hurtled down by a furious onslaught of Suleiman. Bull-dog tenacity, combined with winter weather, has done far more than all the bravery of the Russian troops. Nothing was (mown at the head-quarters of the Lorn arwY of General Radetsky s further movements, which would seem to indicate that he had gone no further than Kezanlik. The interruption of communications on the Danube, which occurred about the time he started, would arrest his onward march. It is moreover pro- bable that he never intended to go further than Kezanlik, where he could put his troops into com- fortable quartere, instead of snow huts on the bleak mountain top. GOURKO'S STRUGGLE ACROSS THE ETROPOL BALKANS. A Russian despatch from Bogot shows that the ex- traordinary operations in which General Gourko's force has been engaged in the Etropol Balkans have gained him an important success. After a struggle of eight days against frost, snow, and storm, and the difficulties of a mountainous country, General Gourko has crossed the Balkans and descended into the plain of Sofia It was previously reported that the Russians had advanced tø Baba Konak, and thence against the positions at Arab Konak and Schandcrnik, which were still held by the Turks. On December 29th the Ottoman troops evacuated Lubtilcom, which the Russians immediately occupied. The weather in the mountains was stiJl unfavourable, but the Russian troops worked their way onward. We now learn that on the last day of the year a severely contested engagement was fought at Tashkesen, which lasted until six in the evening. General Gourko succeeded in occupying the Turkish entrenchments at Tash- occu d bt kesen. with the exception of one redoubt near the Guard House. During the night the Turks abandoned ail their positions, and early on the follow- ing morning the Russians commenced pursuing the enemy and occupied Arab Konak, Schandernik, and Dolny Comarzi. A portion of the infantry pursued the enemy in the direction of Petri Koi, and the cavalry of the Guard also cook part in the pursuit in the same direction by way of Bolowo and Tscherkess- kioi. Thus the retreating Turks did not fall back upon Sofia, but made for the eouth eaft, attempt. ng to gain the valley of the Topolnitza md the town of Tatar-Bazardjik, leaving the ikhtiman defile on their right. General Gourko afterwards ordered a halt to allow the troops to -ecover from their fatigue. On the 2nd inst. he was advancing upon Sofia. The Etropol detachment was ordered to join the detachment commanded by General Brock in order to cut off the Turkish communications with Petri Koi as far as possible. The Russian loss m the 31st ult. waa 700 men killed and wounded. rashkesen, where this engagement was fought, is within Ewenty-five miles of Sofia. NEUTRAL POWER3 AND MEDIATION. The semi-official Agence liusie publishes an article discussing the comments of the Russian and foreign press upon the character to be attributed to the posi- tion of intermediary between Turkey and Russia ac- cepted by the British Government. The article com- mences by declaring that mediation on the part of England would be neither desirable nor practicable for the four following reasons: "1. In principle and by the rules of international law, mediation is impracticable so long as there is one of the belligerents which doas not solicit it at all. 2. Both principle and international law rpquire the im- partiality of the State acting as mediator to be assured by the absence of any interest in the questions at issue, but England, by the declaration of her O;vn Government, does not posses that quality. Her interests render the transition from mediation to intervention all the more easy for herself, and dangerous to all. 3. In principle and ia law wars are Qiade for belligerents, and not for neutrals. If war i8 made by two parties, peace will also be made by t»0 parties. The indivi- dual right of belligerents is only superseded by the superior right of all when the former prejudices the latter. Now, the attitude of the Pow, rs proves the impossibility of applyin8 this argument to the present war, carried on by Russia with scrupulous respect for her duties towards third parties. 4. Mediation without benefiting Turkey or the intervening Power would only encourage the resistance of the Porte, still further prejudice its position, and pro- long or even complicate the WII.1'. Thus, on grounds of justice, as well as from regard for peace and the localisation of the war, mfiduition is neither de- sirable ner acceptable." The article concludes by stating that the above considerations are no doubt those which influence most stamen of eminence, and says These views are shared also by the laborious English public, who do not favour certain tendencies, and ask themselves why two powerful nations like England and Russia should not study mutually to benefit each other and the whele world as much as they might, instead of Persisting in suspicion and jealousy, and in striving to heltm each other. The same question is asked in RUBSW by all statesmen and the majority of the public." THE RUSSIAN BRIDGES OVER THE DANUBE- A Bucharest correspondent, Ullder date Jan. 2nd, says: Since the Sistova bridges wfte carried away it has been, and still remains, ""POteible to cross the river anywhere by any means, Owing to the great quantities of floating ice. The Russian steam ferry boats, intended expressly for this WOtk, seem incapable of performing it, and the Danube is now an im- passable barrier. This will last U-til the river com- pletely freezes over, or until th« floating ice stops coming down. The river may not fre«je at all, in which case the ice will probably keep coming jovvn for another month, perhaps longer. The lotion of supplies now becomes an important one. j\e Russians say they have six months' supplies in -Bulgaria. This is evidently an exaggeration; but thej have probably for a month, which together with !he provisions in the country will enable them to tide jver the break in the communications without too rou41 difficulty. As to forage, Prince Tcherkassky has collected great quantities in Tirnova, which will sun^ for the cavalry and artillery, and can be transported where wanted. There is no hay in the country, and ktle straw. The weather to-day is slightly warmer, sk though a thaw might be expected. PRINCE GORTSCHAKOFFS REPY TO LORD DERBY. The reply of Prince Gortschakoff tt Lord Derby's despatch is understood to be to tj0 effect that Russia is desirous for peace, but tat if Turkey wishes for an armistice a suspensio; of hostilities must be brought about by direct negations with the Russian Commander-in-Chief. Tlere is a belief that the terms on which Russia WOM consent to an armistice would include the surrencir of at least two of the Turkish fortresses in the Qu^ril»teral, and to this Turkey is not likely to assent, The British Government, it is understood, has app^-hed Russia in such a way that this refusal to treij with Turkey through a mediatory Power will not reyer it incum- bent upon her Majesty's Ministers to abandon their freedom of action, though it will not btwithout effee upon the relations existing between England and Russia.





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