the signing of the treaty of Berlin
(13 July 1878) the dream of the “Greater Bulgaria” vanished. The new
Principality of Bulgaria was only 37.5 per cent of the size of the state envisaged
with the treaty of San Stefano (3 March 1878) and was confined in a small
area between the Balkan mountains and the Danube; the country south of the
Balkans was to form an autonomous province called Eastern Rumelia, under the
direct control of the Sultan, while Macedonia returned under Ottoman rule and
the valley of the Morava river was assigned to Serbia. The Russian Army
should leave Bulgaria
within 9 months. On 29 April 1879 the Grand National Assembly elected as
Prince of Bulgaria Alexander of Battenberg, who entered in Sofia in July, after having taken the oath
to the new constitution, approved on 16 April at Tarnovo.
1879 the organisation of the
Bulgarian army was arranged by the Temporarily
authorized general basis, trainings and organization of the Territorial Army
of the Principality of Bulgaria, approved on 14 May 1879 by the Russian
Imperial Commissar and modified on 19 August by the Princely Edict N° 19, and
by the Provisional status for the
Bulgarian Army issued on 17 December. According with the latter document,
the Supreme Commander of the Bulgarian Army was the Prince (§ 1), while the
executive administration of the military forces of the country was assigned
to the Military Minister (§ 2). The direct control of the artillery and of
all the artillery establishments, as well as the direction of the particular
occupations and the training of the artillery units was assigned to the head
of the artillery (§ 32), who was subordinated to the Military Minister (§
33). Artillery units were recruited only with youths coming from the district
where they were raised (§ 16).
composition of the artillery (§§ 20-22) in peacetime was as follows :
– 6 foot
batteries, identified by a number according with their seniority and by the
name of the town where they were garrisoned, with 293 men each;
mountain battery with 268 men;
horse battery with 155 men;
siege company with 320 men,
local artillery park with 100 men.
battery had 8 guns with 2-3 two-wheeled ammunition wagons each. Lower ranks
were armed with revolver Smith & Wesson and Russian model sabres, non
commissioned officers carried swords instead of sabres.
new situation imposed a lot of changes to the Bulgarian army. Since two of
the existing batteries were garrisoned in the territory of the Eastern Rumelia, the first problem was to redeploy them
inside the Principality. Therefore in 1879 5th Plovdivska and 6th
Slivenska batteries were moved respectively to Pleven
and renamed 5th Plevenska and 6th Shumenska batteries.
The other 6 batteries stood in their previous garrisons, but after the
arrival of the new Prince in Sofia,
according with the Edict N° 28/10 August 1879 the battery of the capital was
renamed after him, becoming 1st His Highness’ (horse artillery) battery.
At that time all the battery were on war establishment, with 8 guns and 3
ammunition wagons, horsed and fully equipped.
the batteries were concentrated in a narrow area, the existence of two
assistants for the head of the artillery became unnecessary, so on 20 May
1879 with the Order on the Territorial Army N° 33 the post of brigade
commander was abolished and the batteries returned under the direct control
to the head of artillery.
meantime the presence of Bulgarian troops increased continuously. On 11 May
1879 some of the graduated of the first class of the Sofia
were enlisted in artillery : 12 ensigns joined the Bulgarian Army and 2 the
Militia of the Eastern Rumelia, 2 non
commissioned officers were added on 5 June, after having passed an exam in
the same school. In addition 42 Bulgarians were sent to Russia to
study in technical artillery schools. The same months was called up the third
class of compulsory levy. In the same year for the first time a group of
Bulgarian artillery officers were sent to Sankt Petersburg to continue their studies at the Mihailovskaya Artillery Academy : lt. Petar Gruev, lt. Konstantin
Nikiforov and 2nd lt. Simeon Vankov. They graduated in 1883.
back to Russia, the
Occupation Army left in Bulgaria
192 guns, distributed as follows :
field guns, half 4 pdr bronze and 9 pdr bronze and steel Russian guns M.
1867, and half 9 cm
and 8 cm
Krupp, captured during the war against Turkey, mainly old M. 1867 with a
little number of long range guns;
mountains guns, half 3 pdr Russian guns M. 1867, half 6 cm Broadwell and 4.5 cm Whitworth Turkish
fortress guns, 24 pdr long and short guns and 6 inch mortars M. 1867.
addition 5 Nobel six barrels and ten barrels machine guns.
guns were breech-loaders, with Broadwell obturating ring to restrain the
escape of gas, the only exception being the Whitworth mountain guns that were
muzzle-loaders. Being rigidly attached to the carriage, they recoiled with it
and had to be run back by hand to the firing position and re-laid after each
shot. They were filled with charges composed by grainy black powder that
produced thick smoke, allowing enemy observers to locate their position. In
Russian guns the sighs were not graduated according
with the range, but were marked in lines (2.54 mm) that did not
correspond directly to the distance expressed in meters, making more complex
the adjustment. On the contrary in 3 pdr mountain guns the sights were
graduated according with the range expressed in sagene (2.13 m), the measure of
length at that time used by the Russian artillery. Turkish guns had sight and
firing tables written in Arabic characters and Bulgarian aimers had to learn
to identify them, looking forward to their translation. Nevertheless most of
the captured guns were almost unserviceable, being damaged and without every
kind of accessories : sights, harnesses, firing tools.
the ammunition came from Russian depots, that had delivered 51,861 common
shells, 23,180 canister shells (an early model of
shrapnel), 12,339 sharoha (a kind of shell
with spherical solid head that continued to fly after the burst of the
proper shell), 18,262 shrapnel and 6,976 case shots for field guns; 4,970
cast iron bombs, 7,625 prolonged cast iron bombs and 5,551 case shots for
fortress guns. Only a little number of rounds was available for the mortars.
Percussion shells were effective only within a narrow area (4-20 m) against uncovered
animated targets at medium range (1800 m for 9 pdr guns). Time fuzes for
shrapnel and canister shell were usually graduated up to 7 ½ seconds, that
allowed a range of just 1800
m, only a little number were graduated up to 10
seconds, for a range of 3200
m (9 pdr) or 2400 m (4 pdr). Krupp ammunition for long
range guns was more effective, but only a few rounds were available.
structure of the Bulgarian artillery was radically altered in 1880. On 19 June with Decree N° 75
the six numbered batteries were grouped into an artillery regiment with
headquarters in Shumen.
The artillery depot, the laboratory and the siege company were similarly put
under the control of a single office, the direction of the local artillery
establishments, with headquarters in Ruse.
As their commanders were appointed two senior battery commanders, with the
same rank of a battalion commander, major Leonov and cpt. Barannikov
respectively. The staff of the artillery regiment should be temporarily
composed by an adjutant and a clerk.
25 August 1880 with Decree N° 95 another unit was raised with the denomination
of “Sofiyski artillery division”. It was composed by three batteries : 1st
His Highness’ (horse artillery) battery taken from the artillery regiment,
another horse artillery battery that had not succeeded in going back to Russia and
was quartered at Radomir and the mountain artillery battery, that was later
rearmed with 4 pdr guns. The division headquarters and two batteries were
placed at Samokov, while 3rd battery remained at Dupnitza. As
division commander was appointed maj. Frost. The artillery regiment was
reorganized raising another battery that take the number 4th,
while old 3rd Tarnovska and 4th Rusenska battery were
renamed 1st and 3rd respectively. In addition from then
on the batteries were identified only with their number, loosing their local
appellation. The quick-firing battery was disbanded and its machine guns were
stored in the artillery depot at Ruse.
a result of these alterations, in 1880 the Bulgarian artillery was composed
by 9 batteries with 48 – 9 pdr guns assigned to the artillery regiment in Shumen and 24 – 4 pdr
guns with the artillery division in Samokov. In peacetime the staff of the
artillery regiment was fixed in 10 men and 5 horses, while the artillery
batteries had 157 men and 57 horses each. In addition there were the siege
artillery company in Ruse
and the local artillery establishments. According with gen. Panteley Tsenov,
who at that time was serving in 5th battery, the composition of
the artillery was different : 1st, 2nd and 3rd
batteries of the artillery regiment and two battery of the artillery division
were armed with 4 pdr guns, the rest with 9 pdr guns. It seems nevertheless
not correct, since the number of the 4 pdr guns received by the Bulgarian
Army did not exceed 24 pieces that were enough to arm only 3 batteries.
30 May 1880 seven of the graduated of the second class of the Sofia Military School
were enlisted in artillery.
1881 with the Order on artillery
N° 52/1881 the Bulgarian senior officers were appointed section commanders
and junior officers as their assistants, to familiarize them with the
conduction of an artillery unit both administratively and in line service.
The same year in September, 16 Bulgarian officers who had graduated in Russia, at the Elisavetgrad Cavalry Cadet School, were enlisted in artillery. Among them
there was also Dimitar Pernikliynski, who would fill important post
during the Balkan Wars and World War.
1882 the Bulgarian artillery began
to rearm its unit with long range guns. On April the Direction of the
artillery sent Russian lt.col. Nikolaj Lavrentievich Reshetin, who had been
attached to the Bulgarian Army on 4 October 1881 with the title of “officer
for special purpose” assigned to the Staff of the artillery, to inspect the weapons
of the regiment and to reorganize the instruction of the recruits. By his
request on 10 August with Order on artillery N° 150 an independent 9 cm long range battery was
raised in Shumen, with men and horses coming from the artillery regiment,
ammunitions and guns from Ruse and harnesses from Razgrad. At the end of
August a comparative test of firing was done in the presence of Prince
Alexander to show the superiority of the Krupp guns over the 4 pdr guns of
the same calibre. The result was so persuasive, that the rearmament of the
batteries with long range guns was decided, in spite of the opposition of
most of the Russian officers. On 30 August lt.col. Reshetin was appointed
commander of the battery that was transferred to Nikopol. The same year the siege artillery
company in Ruse
was renamed siege park, where periodically sent groups of officers and men
taken from the artillery units to be trained with fortress guns.
1883 lt.col. Reshetin was
appointed head of artillery with cpt. Konstantin Nikiforov as assistant to
carry out the planned rearmament of the batteries. The second long range
battery, this time armed with 8
cm Krupp guns, was raised in May with Order N° 212 at
Ruse, where was assigned to the siege park. Since the operational Krupp guns
available in Bulgaria were not enough, at the end of June a group of junior
adjutants of the Artillery Inspection was sent to Nikolaev to receive the
Turkish war trophies stored there. As a whole the Russian depots delivered 40
– 8 cm
and 9 cm
Krupp field guns, 6 – 12 cm
L/25 Turkish fortress guns without ammunition and a little number of 24 pdr
long and short guns. Lt. Tzenov was charged to receive and store them in Nikopol.
25 July with Order on artillery N° 250 the structure of the Bulgarian
artillery was again altered, raising with the existing batteries and a new
one, two artillery regiments, composed as follows :
artillery regiment with headquarters at Sofia : the 1st division
with 1st His Highness’, 2nd, and 3rd
batteries was composed by the Sofiyski artillery division, with two batteries
rearmed with 75mm Krupp long range guns and one with 87mm guns taken from the
independent battery; the 2nd division by two batteries (5th
and 6th) of the former artillery regiment, renumbered 4th
and 5th and the 9
cm battery from Nikopol, renumbered 6th,
all rearmed with 9 pdr steel guns;
artillery regiment with headquarters in Sofia : the 1st division
was composed by the 4th battery of the former regiment rearmed
with 87mm Krupp guns, a new battery with 75mm Krupp guns and the 8 cm battery from Ruse,
renumbered 7th, 8th and 9th; the 2nd
division by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd batteries
of the former regiment, renumbered 10th, 11th and 12th
and armed with 9 pdr bronze guns.
regiments and the local artillery establishments were administratively under
the direct control of the Military Minister, while as for the line service,
the instruction and the technical matters they were subordinated to the head
of the artillery, who was then renamed Artillery Inspector. The regimental
commanders were in charge of the inspection of the materials, the drill and
the line activities, but also of the economic administration of their
regiments. The battery commander had to take care that guns and equipment
were kept in good working order. The post of division commander was only
honorary and was not even envisaged by the establishment, therefore the
senior battery commanders were appointed to that charge.
batteries were composed by 8 guns with 3 ammunition wagons each (2 for the
Krupp batteries), but only 4 guns with 1 ammunition wagon each were fully
equipped with horse teams in peacetime, while the rest of the material was
stored in the regimental park to be employed in the event of the
mobilization. Since there were no original Krupp ammunition wagons for the
long range guns, some Russian wagons were adjusted in the workshop of the
artillery arsenal of Ruse
in order to carry their projectiles. Every regiment had also a field forge.
Russian officers were appointed as commanders of the artillery regiments,
lt.col. Nikolay Vladimirovich Stoyanov, the former the commander of the
Sofiyski artillery division, and lt.col. Leonid Osipovich Musnitzkiy, the
former commander of the artillery regiment.
the same order the siege park was assigned to the local artillery
establishment and from then on no group of artillerists was sent to be
trained with fortress guns as before.
May 1884 a proving ground was established in Sofia for the artillery
practice of the Bulgarian artillerists. The commander of 1st
artillery regiment was appointed as its head and 3 officers with high
artillery education, one Russian and two Bulgarian, cpt. Petar Gruev and cpt.
Konstantin Nikiforov, were chosen as instructors. A 75mm Krupp battery of the
regiment was provided to the proving ground the artillery practice, and to
have a little number of guns permanently at its disposal 2 supernumerary 87mm
long range guns were delivered by the artillery depot in Ruse. Its activity should cover not only
the firing practice, but also the tactical education, the theory of firing,
the laboratory works and every kinds of drills related with the line service
: mounted instruction (individual and with pair), service of the piece, fire
discipline and conduct of fire with the gun and the battery. The first course
was already organized in the summer of the same year and lasted three and a
half months, from 1 June to 15 October; 6 officers followed the course, 5
coming from 1st artillery regiment and 1 from the local artillery
1885 with Order N° 75 the
designation of the artillery batteries was changed : they were no longer
numbered consecutively from 1st to 12th, but were
renumbered within the two regiments from 1st to 6th.
structure of the Militia of the Eastern Rumelia was first fixed with Order 30 on 6
February 1879, when it was composed by the units of the Bulgarian army
garrisoned within its borders :
Filipopolska and Slivenska Brigades with 1 cavalry squadron each and 6
and 3 infantry battalions respectively. In addition 5th Plovdivska
and 6th Slivenska batteries were temporarily attached to them.
Later they were transferred beyond the Balkans mountains, in the territory of
the Principality. In place of them only a training half-battery was allowed.
It was raised on 2 May 1879 with order N° 88 and was attached to the
instruction battalion of Plovdiv
that was composed also by 2 infantry companies, 1 half-squadron and a
technical company. The half-battery was composed by an artillery section
armed with 4 – 9 pdr bronze guns with only 70 rounds of ammunition, and a
pyrotechnical (armoury) section. The head of the latter was lt. Atanas
Petrov. In addition there were 2 artillery depots at Plovdiv
and Stara Zagora.
All ranks carried revolver Smith & Wesson and Russian model sabres.
Although the number of the infantry battalions was increased to 12, no
additional artillery units were raised before the Unification.