The development of the Bulgarian Artillery : 1886 - 1911



In 1885 with Edict N° 61/23 December 1885 the Militia of the Eastern Rumelia was reorganized and merged into the Bulgarian Army : the artillery half-battery was assigned to the newly raised 3rd artillery regiment.


In 1886 with Order N° 176/22 August 1886 an artillery Brigade was raised, to group the three artillery regiment. Awaiting the delivery of the Krupp guns, with Order N° 35/1886, the existing two 4 pdr field batteries were assigned to 3rd artillery regiment. In addition with Order N° 113/1886 a mountain artillery section was attached to 3rd artillery regiment. In the same year the units, which had taken part in the military conspiracy that had forced Prince Aleksandar Battenberg to leave Sofia and to sign his abdication, were disbanded and new units were raised to replace them. Also the artillery was involved in the turmoil, so with Edict N° 181 1st artillery regiment was disbanded, and with Edict N° 186 a new 4th regiment took its place in Sofia.

With Edict N° 290/31 December 1886 a siege battery was raised in Vidin with an establishment of 1 captain as battery commander, 1 second lieutenant, 1 warrant officer, 10 non commissioned officers, 100 men, and the hors rang troops required to make it an independent unit. It was moved to Sofia three year later, on 8 June 1889.


In 1887 the peace establishment of the artillery units was :

    artillery regiment (6 batteries) : 36 officers, 2 doctors, 1 clerk, 769 line and 60 hors rang NCO’s and men;

    mountain artillery section : 2 officers, 64 line and 7 hors rang NCO’s and men;

    siege artillery battery : 3 officers, 110 line and 5 hors rang NCO’s and men.

Beginning from that year, however, the Bulgarian artillery became to gradually increase their effectives. With Edict N° 41/1887 3rd artillery regiment raised two new batteries (5th and 6th), that changed their number into 3rd and 4th, and the Edict N° 175/1887 ordered that from 1 January 1888 every artillery regiment would raise a 7th battery, along with a mountain section in 2nd and 4th regiment. At the beginning of the following year they were followed by an 8th battery and a 2nd mountain section (Edict N° 197/1888).


During the 1889 three new regiments were raised, simply dividing in half the existing ones :

    with Edict N° 10/19 January 1889, the 4th regiment (Sofia) raised the 1st regiment at Samokov, giving up its 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th batteries and its 1st mountain artillery section;

    with Edict N° 40/1 April 1889, the 2nd regiment, that was transferred to Vratza, raised the 5th, that remained at Shumen, giving up its 2nd, 4th, 7th and 8th batteries and its 1st mountain artillery section;

    with the same Edict, the 3rd regiment (Plovdiv) raised the 6th regiment at Sliven, giving up its 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th batteries and its 1st mountain artillery section.

Every regiment had only 4 eight-guns batteries (numbered in sequence 1st to 4th), and a mountain section. In every regiment 1st and 2nd were armed with 87mm guns, while 3rd and 4th battery and the mountain sections with 75mm guns. Nevertheless no additional artillery pieces were ordered until 1891, therefore there were modern guns only to equip the 4 horsed guns assigned to the batteries in peacetime.


In 1890 with Edict 179/1890 the spare (запасен) batteries attached to artillery depots in Razgrad and Sofia was renamed cadre battery, and school battery respectively. The latter was assigned to the artillery proving ground that had been formed on 15 January of the same year. On 28 December with Edict N° 176/1890 the artillery regiments were subordinated to the Foot Brigades. They remained under the direct control of the Artillery Inspection only for training and the technical matters. On 31 December with Order N° 474, their distribution was arranged as follows :

    4th artillery regiment to 1st Foot Brigade,

    2nd and 5th artillery regiment to 2nd Foot Brigade,

    3rd artillery regiment to 5th Foot Brigade,

    6th artillery regiment to 6th Foot Brigade.

On 11 January 1890 with Edict N° the existing siege battery was renamed “Sofiyska fortress battery” and another siege battery was raised in Shumen, but was moved to Vidin on 30 April 1891 and renamed “Vidinska fortress battery”. Its commander was maj. Georgi Sotirov.


In 1892, to fulfil the request of the Law for the organization of the Armed Forces of the Principality of Bulgaria, approved in 1891, the Edict N° 176/27 December 1891 ordered the formation of new artillery units :

    the artillery regiment raised a 5th battery;

    the fortress batteries in Sofia and Vidin were expanded in fortress battalions, with 3 and 2 companies respectively;

    three reserve batteries were formed with the existing school and cadre batteries and a new battery raised in Shumen.

With the transformation of the old Foot Brigades into Infantry Division, the artillery regiment were assigned to them as follows :

    1st artillery regiment to 5th Dunavska Division (ex 3rd Foot Brigade),

    2nd artillery regiment to 6th Bdinska Division (ex 2nd Foot Brigade),

    3rd artillery regiment to 2nd Trakiyska Division (ex 5th Foot Brigade),

    4th artillery regiment to 1st Sofiyska Division (ex 1st Foot Brigade),

    5th artillery regiment to 4th Preslavska Division (ex 4th Foot Brigade),

    6th artillery regiment to 3rd Balkanska Division (ex 6th Foot Brigade).

With the Order N° 57/1892 the 1st battery of 2nd, 3rd and 4th artillery regiment were rearmed with 120mm Krupp field howitzers, recently purchased.

With Order 111/1892 a pioneer detachment was added to Vidinski fortress battalion, the cadre coming from the pioneer brigade.


In 1893 with Edict N° 111/1892 three more reserve batteries were raised. Their task and structure were fixed with Order N° 88/1893. They should train men and horses as cadre for an artillery regiment composed by 4-6 field batteries with 6-8 guns each, and a mountain battery with 4 guns. They were independent units composed by a staff officer as the commander, an adjutant as paymaster, 4 captains as section commanders, 4 lieutenants and 194 men. The sections were divided into three detachments. The batteries were subordinated to the Infantry Divisions, and took the number of the respective Divisions. They depended by the Artillery Inspector only for training and the technical matters. Being independent units the reserve batteries had their own workshops : laboratory, tailoring, carpentry, forge, saddlery.

In addition the Vidinski fortress battalion raised another company and the Sofiyski fortress battalion raised its pioneer detachment : therefore the two fortress battalions had the same composition.


In 1894, being arrived the second batch of the howitzers ordered in Germany, also the 1st battery of 1st and 6th artillery regiment were rearmed with 120mm Krupp field howitzers.


In 1895 the Edict N° 1/1 January 1895 introduced radical changes in the organization of the Bulgarian artillery :

    the reserve batteries were assigned to the artillery regiments, where they formed their 6th batteries;

    the artillery regiments were organized on 2 artillery division, each with 3 six-guns batteries;

    with the existing 6 mountain artillery sections, renamed half-batteries, 3 mountain batteries were raised and attached to 2nd, 3rd and 4th regiments;

    the howitzers batteries of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th artillery regiments were rearmed with 87mm field guns and the howitzers were assigned to the fortress artillery;

    a third fortress battalion with 3 companies was raised in Shumen and directly subordinated to the Head of the fortress artillery, along with the battalion in Sofia and Vidin.


In 1896 with Edict N° 1/1896 3 more mountain batteries were raised and formed with the existing ones 3 mountain divisions, with 2 batteries each. They were garrisoned respectively at Berkovitza, Samokov and Stanimaka. In addition a third artillery division with 3 batteries was attached to 4th artillery regiment. A laboratory half-company was formed and attached to Shumenski fortress battalion.


In 1898 with Edict N° 36/1898 a third artillery division was raised also in the remaining five regiments, while a third battery was added to the 3 mountain divisions.


In 1899 with Edict N° 21/15 June 1899 the mountain divisions were detached from the artillery regiments and assembled into a new mountain artillery regiment, with headquarters in Sofia. The divisions, however, kept their previous garrisons.


In 1904, following the creation of three new Infantry Divisions, with Edict N° 85/30 December 1903 the artillery was increased and reorganized as follows:

    three new artillery regiments were raised: 7th artillery regiment at Samokov, with one division from 4th regiment and two divisions from 2nd regiment; 8th artillery regiment at Stara Zagora, with two divisions from 3rd regiment and one division from 6th regiment; 9th artillery regiment at Pleven, with one division from 1st regiment and one division from 5th regiment;

    the mountain artillery regiment was renamed mountain artillery brigade, without any change in its composition.

With Edict N° 88/30 December 1903 the three new artillery regiments were assigned to the corresponding Infantry Division :

    7th artillery regiment to 7th Rilska Division,

    8th artillery regiment to 8th Tundzhanska Division,

    9th artillery regiment to 9th Plevenska Division.

Therefore at the beginning of 1904 the Bulgarian Army had 9 artillery regiments, 6 of them (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th) with three artillery divisions, and 3 (2nd, 6th and 9th) with only two artillery divisions. In peace only two divisions in each artillery regiment were horsed. Waiting the delivery of the new quick-firing guns, the 87mm guns available at that time were not enough to equip all the batteries planned in wartime.


In 1907 with Edict N° 148/27 December 1906 three Military Inspections were established at Sofia, Stara Zagora and Ruse to group by three the existing Infantry Divisions. The artillery regiments assigned to the Infantry Divisions came under the control of these Inspections, while the mountain artillery brigade and the fortress battalions remained directly subordinated to the Artillery Inspection. Nevertheless in peace there was not a “head of the artillery of the Military Inspection” to direct all the artillery units of the Inspection in peace and to command them in wartime. The charge of head of the artillery of the various Armies was established only at the beginning of the Balkan War, using high officers on duty at the Artillery Inspection.


In 1908 with Order on the military administration N° 204/31 May 1908 the Corps organization envisaged by Law for the organization of the Armed Forces of the Principality of Bulgaria in 1903 was finally abolished and a new directive for the mobilization and new war establishments were elaborated.


In 1909 with Decree N° 108/1908 the mountain artillery brigade was renamed mountain artillery section of the Artillery Inspection.


In 1910 with Decree N° 1/1910 every mountain artillery division raised a 4th battery.


In 1911 with Decree N° 99/31 December 1910 the artillery saw its last reorganization before the outbreak of the Balkan wars, with the establishment of new units :

    the artillery regiments raised a third artillery division; every division was composed by three battery, only two of them being horsed in peace;

    the existing three artillery divisions were expanded into mountain artillery regiments, with two division each, the division having two batteries each;

    three cadre howitzers batteries with 6 guns each were raised from a company taken from the fortress battalions and attached to an artillery regiment of each Military Inspection :

a)     1st Military Inspection : the howitzer battery was formed from 3rd company of Sofiyski fortress battalion and attached to 4th artillery regiment;

b)     2nd Military Inspection : the howitzer battery was formed from 3rd company of Vidinski fortress battalion and attached to 8th artillery regiment;

c)     3rd Military Inspection : the howitzer battery was formed from 1st company of Shumenski fortress battalion and attached to 8th artillery regiment;

    the fortress battalion transformed the remaining two companies in two fortress-siege artillery groups.