‘’Factor of Volunteerism in Wars Waged by Serbian Nation’’
Military volunteerism traditionally played a significant role in wars waged by Serbian nation. The explanation to this lies in the Serbian history itself where the state apparatus for a long time presented a hostile force. The only ‘’national’’ Serbian institution – Serb Orthodox Church – securing to some extent certain elements of political
and cultural autonomy for Serbs – by church canons could not organize and train military units.
As the edge of the main Turkish blow in XVI-XVII centuries was directed through the Balkans against Austria which after the defeat of Hungary in XVI century was the last barrier on the way of Turks to Europe, the issue of formation of volunteer units was vital for Serbian nation’s survival.
The fact that after Turks defeated Serbs, Austria followed the earlier example of Hungary
and hosted thousands of Serbs retreating from Turks, was favorable for the formation of these units . In his book ’’ Life and Ways of the Serbian People’’ Vuk Karadjic was describing the life of Serbs who lived at the so-called “zadruga (cooperatives), headed by one leader and where several families were united. In its essence such organization made Serbs a manageable and disciplined military entity used by Austrian authorities.
Policies of the Ottoman imperial authorities was also playing an important part. Thus, the Belgrade pashaluc where the main bulk of Serbs resided, likewise other similar pashalucs of the Ottoman Empire was a military-territorial formation governed by a Pasha who had the right to fulfill both military command and judicial authority and collect taxes as well. According to the Serbian historian Vuk Karadjic the Belgrade Pasha had his own armed equestrian detachments consisting of the so-called ‘’deliya’ headed by a ‘’deliya-basha’ who had subordinate tax-collectors-“kavazes” and “chaushes”, as well as bailiffs- “bumbarashes”.
In book ‘’Karageorgij’s Serbia’’ (1804-1817) (Zivko Markovic.Bern.2006) quotes an excerpt from reminiscences of de Nicole where he writes that ‘’deliya’’ who had no payment were living off captives and ‘’always strived to display their courage’’, and that among them were people of all confessions including Serbs. The Belgrade pashalic was divided into sandjaks governed by a snadjak-bey, and sandjaks were sub-divided into ‘’nahias’’. At the head of ‘’nahias’’ a ‘’kadia’’-judge was placed and also an administrator-‘’muselim’’who, as Vuk Karadjic wrote in his book ‘’Life and ways of the Serbian people’’, were the roots of all kinds of abuse of power, first of all in relation to Serbs deprived of all rights.
The situation of Serbs was vividly depicted by Ivo Andric in his book ‘’The Drina Bridge’’ when Turks (at that time all Muslims including Bosnian Muslims were regarded as Turks ) were seizing children around Serbian villages to send them to become Janissary. But then no less cruel was the picture when the same Turks were seizing girls and often boys around villages for their Pashas’ and Beys ’harems , and it is hard to find a more indicative example of absence of rights of Serbs.
In the book by Zivko Markovic ‘’Karageorgij’s Serbia’’ recollections of former Janissary Konstantin Mihalovic from Ostrovica were quoted , the latter wrote that when the Sultan’s army takes a town by storm all the captive prominent men were killed, young men were sent to be Janissary, and women were handed out as concubines. Regarding Christians’ situation as such at that time, it is well enough described in the book by L.I. Klimovich ‘’The Book on Koran, its Origin and Mythology’’, where there is a quotation by ‘’the righteous’’ caliph Omar: ‘’The following statement attributed to ‘’the righteous ‘’caliph Omar I has become the motto of the conquerors: ‘’Truly, Muslims will feed on these (zimmies), paying taxes, and when we die, and they die, our sons will feed on their sons eternally, as long as they will exist, so that they would be the slaves of the followers of the Muslim faith, as long as the Muslim faith will remain prevailing’’. This text was contained in The Book of Kharadj(Khitab Al-Kharadj) written by the supreme judge Abu-Jussuf (731-798), on the order of caliph Harun Al-Rashid and which therefore has received the value of legal instruction foa all’’Islamic’’ Emirs and Sultans.
In the book ‘’Life and Ways of the Serbian People’’ Vuk Karadjic wrote that it was forbidden for a Serb to get dressed in expensive clothes, to wear clothes of green color, to have good horses, to smoke in public, at the same time a Turk could beat him, swear his faith, cross, fasting; take him by force to work, as well as rape Serbian women and take them to harem by force where to convert them to Islam forcibly.
Finally, in the work of Miroljub Evtic, Professor of Sorbonne and Belgrade Universities, ‘’Contemporary Jihad as War’’ where there is a quoted passage from the book by an English archeologist Evans ( «Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on foot”.Evans A.1877.London) on the situation of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina …IT IS WRITTEN: ‘’ A Christian kmet (peasant), or the one who tills the land, is in a worse situation than many slaves in our murkiest times, and is totally placed at the mercy of Muslim landowners, like a slave’’.
Christians’ situation itself, as second grade persons on their own soil, would seem to be a sufficient ground for an armed rebellion against the absolutely evident Turkish aggressors, though some contemporary historians could argue this right finding some elements of social liberation of Serbian peasants from Serbian feudal lords.
It is however clear that after Turks conquered Serbian lands, Serbian peasants continued to pay high taxes to Turks – otherwise why would Turks conquer them altogether. Furthermore, Turks have introduced a new tax for all Christians-jizia (??)-head tax, levied in Islamic states from x and free non-Muslims of masculine gender in accordance with the following “khadis” (short stories about life of Muhamad) from Koran (9:29): ‘’Fight those of the people of Bible Scriptures who do not have faith in neither in Allah, nor in the Last Day, who do not find forbidden what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, who do not worship the true religion until they start to pay tolls by their own hands remaining humiliated’’.
Of course the Turkish authorities often protected Christian village people as those paid taxes to them, however it is clear that these taxes were hard enough if only because of Turkish authorities’ big expenditures for the upkeep of their army and waging non-stop wars of conquest.
As even in medieval Europe riots of peasants had serous social grounds, it would be illogical to negate same reasons for peasants of the Turkish Empire.
However, if in the medieval Europe peasant rioting against feudal lords could count on protection of the Church, cities or kings, in the Turkish Empire they had no way back and that is why among Serbs as well as among other nations conquered by Turks- Bulgarians, Greeks and Vlachs – different armed groups emerged either engaging in robberies or raising rebellions against Turks, and these were called ‘’haiduks’’(??)
As Christians were forbidden both to bear arms and apply it against Muslims, then each ‘’haiduk’’ became a state criminal for Turkish Empire by that.
It goes without saying that ‘’haiduks ‘’ were highwaymen but to refuse them a right to national and religious ideas means to understand nothing about Balkans, their history and about Turkish policies. The mere fact that independent armed groups existed in Turkey, groups largely consisting of ‘’raya’’ stripped of rights by Islamic laws (Christians were strictly forbidden to bear arms) was for Turks a state and religious crime.
Serbian historian Vuk Karadjic has made a detailed description of ‘’haiduks’’. According to Karadjic, ‘’haiduks’’ had a developed code of honor which after getting acquainted with it reminds of the code of honor of medieval Serbian knights, on which Colonel Rade Rajic dwelt in sufficient detail in his work ‘’On Obilic’s Spirit of Honor within Serbs’’’’.
As Karadjic wrote, ‘’haiduks’’ themselves often gathered into relatively large detachments – ‘’chetas’’ and ‘’druzhinas’’ , numbering several dozen men , with their leaders-‘’harambashi’’ at the head. ‘’Haiduks’’ made collectors of ‘’haracha’’-‘’harachliis’’-their main targets, but often robbed rich Serbs and ordinary folks, evidently considering that submission of these folks to Turks was a sufficient justification for such attacks.
Karadjic also wrote that Serbian peasants as well were called in by Turks to stalk ‘’haiduks’’, and Turks recruited from Serbs those who would fight ‘’haiduks’’ and who would be called ‘’pandurs’’. Karadjic claimed that ‘’haiduks’’ themselves had a well-developed network of supporters harbouring them and named ‘’yatakis’’.
Simultaneously some ‘’haiduks’’ were hiding at the territories of neighboring Austria and Venetian Republic and there they got the name ‘’uskokis’’ (jumpers-in).
‘’Uskokis’’ were different from ‘’haiduks’’ only by that they lived on Austrian and Venetian lands in their own private houses and their elected leaders had to coordinate actions of ‘’uskokis’’with Austrian and Venetian authorities. ‘’Uskokis’’ were not only Serbs, of course majoring among them, but also Croatians as well as germans and Italians.
Thus, in the Sinja region under the auspices of the Venetian Republic in XVI-XVII centuries there existed a peculiar ‘’uskok’’republic from where ‘’uskoki’’ attacked Turks and buccaneered in the Adriatic Sea alongside with British and French pirates who attacked the Spanish in the interests of their kings from whom they had received their patents.
Further on a ‘’Military Border’’ consisting of Serbs was created in Ausria in 1617 which was a military territorial formation where Serbs lived in their villages but at first call were mobilized to military units, the more so that even at peaceful times they were commanded by the Austrian army officers who were Serbs en mass.
Though Croatian and Hungarian nobility was displeased because of the creation of the ‘’Military border’’, Austrian emperors protected rights of Serbs –border guards. The Serb border guards were in essence the main connecting link between such Serb ‘’haiduks’’ and Austrian regular army, and being regular army units they at the same time fulfilled assignments intrinsic nowadays to special units.
Since big Serbian rebellions as a rule started during the years of wars of Christian states against Turks, like for example during the Austrian-Turkish war of 1591-1606, during the Candian war of 1649-1665 waged by Venetia against Turkey, during the Morey war waged against Turkey by Austria, Russia, Poland and Venetia, because of this detachments of Serb rebels were de-facto included into foreign armies.
Thus, during the Morey war the Austrian army broke through into Kosovo, and it was the Serbian support made it possible for Austrian troops to come far into Turkish territories seizing the cities of Skopje and Pristina in 1689.
At that time only 4,000 Austrian troops were commanded by Austrian general Piccolomini, but their actions were supported by detachments of local Serbs, including ‘’haiduks’’ who secured their rear communications.
After the French king Louis XIV attacked Austria and after the death of Piccolomini the Emperor was compelled to give the order for retreat. But Austrians did not let Serbs who supported them down and gave them the opportunity to retreat with them to Austria and settle there on lands specially allotted by the Emperor.
The then eviction of Serbs with their leader Patriarch Arsenij III Carnojevic was depicted by Serbian writer Milos Cirnjanskij in his novel ‘’Resettlements’’.
Also during war of 1736-39 which Austria failed and lost northern Serbia conquered before, from Kosovo moved new columns of Serb refugees headed by Patriarch Arsenij IV Jovanovic.
During the Austrian-Turkish war of 1788-1791 Austrian Emperor allowed Colonel of the Austrian army Serb Mihailo Mihaljevic to form volunteer detachments within the regular Austrian army where he recruited Serbs who joined Austrian troops on Turkish lands. These detachments were called Freichor and numbered up to ten thousand men according to ‘’History of Serbian Nation’’ by S. Gavrilovic.
Freichors were practically independent fighting on the territory of the Belgrade Pashaluc liberating Pozarevac, Paracin, Kladovo,Cupria,Negotin,Sabac and Loznica.
Captain Koca Andjelkovic was prominent among commandants of these detachments; he freed from Turks large territories in Podrinje (places along Drina river) which became known as ‘’Koca’s Krajina’’. Austrian-style military organization was established in Freicors, and many of those who later prepared the Serbian rebellion against Turks, like e.g. Aleksa Nenadovic and Petar Novakovic received combat experience there. It is necessary to mention Georgi Petrovic later know as Karageorgi(Black George) who while serving in Freicor got the rank of non-commissioned officer.
After the Austrian -_Turkish peace of 1791, when Porta forbade its janissary to be on the territory of the Belgrade Pashaluc, and when reforms of Sultan Selim have deprived janissary of ‘’chitluks’’ – estates allotted to them, and while the new organization of the army ‘’nizami-dzedid’’ stripped them of their former privileges, then in tetort in 1792 janissary headed by Kucuk Alija Husein aga, Mula Jusuff and Mehmed aga Focic (all of them were Serbs by nationality) rioted against Sultan, supported then in 1795 byOsman Pazvan-oglu from pashaluc Vidina neighboring to Belgrade.
During the war against Sultan’s troops janissary occupied Belgrade three times- in 1792, 1795 and 1797 and finally the then Belgrade Pasha Hadji Mustafa whom Serbs themselves nicknamed ‘’Serb mother’’ for his favourite attitude towards Serbs gave the instruction to organize a Serbian troop designed for fighting janissary as against enemies of Sultan with Stanko Harambasic at the lead.
This unit numbered 16,000 men in accordance to Zivko Markovic and it is clear that as many of its commanding officers, as, for instance, Aleksa Nenadovic before that were fighting in Austrian ‘’Freicors’’, so all the rest number of Serbs from ‘’Freicors’’ after these were disbanded by Austrians, merely came over to unit of Stanko Harambasic.
After janissary managed in 1801 to get reinstatement of their privileges from Sultan and kill Hadji Mustafa-pasha, so the new Hafiz-pasha was not playing any independent role, the era of lawlessness and anarchy came about in the Belgrade Pashalic during which Serbian population was without any hindrance robbed, killed and raped by janissary. Turks sold children into slavery, sent good-looking girls to harems where they were made to take Islamic faith. Thus, the Serb historian M. Stevanovic (‘’First Serbian Rebellion’’) wrote that in Rudnik the local Selim-aga introduced the right of the ‘’first wedding night’’ with fiancées of local Serbs. Naturally that a lot of experienced Serb volunteers many of whom had had a dozen years of service decided to organize themselves and as of march of 1803 started preparing a rebellion against Turks led by Aleksa Nenadovic, Ilija Bircanin, Georgi Petrovic and a number of other commanding officers.
Though janissary leaders –‘’dahias’’came to know about the rebellion being prepared and during the so-called ‘’cut of princes’’ managed to kill the majority of the leaders of the rebellion in preparation, but Georgi Petrovic evaded death when his men killed one of the ‘’dahias’’- Uzun Mehmed.
Georgi Petrovic nicknamed ‘’Black Georgi’’ or ‘’Karageorgi’’ at the convention of Serbs in Orasac which took place during Candlemas in 1804 was elected leader and under his leadership Serbs at once revolted against Turks. As Serbian historian Stojan Novakovic writes, Karageorgi did not belong to the then Serb nobility and was not rich, and evidently rose thanks to his military merits and his organizational abilities were the key factor in the success of the Serbian uprising immediately and voluntarily joined by many haiduks. In this situation ‘’haiduks’’ considered by many historians to be plain rogues displayed courage and self-sacrifice; thus, in accordance with the book ‘’War Agaist Dahias’’ by Vuk Karadjic, in the battle at Cokesin two hundred haiduks from the detachment of ‘’harambashi’’George Curcia with haiduks brothers Nedic, together with local Serb peasants who joined them, voluntarily stayed to fight against a 1500 men strong Bosnian detachment of Mula Nozin, and practically all died killing up to 1000 Turks. The leader of the First Serbian rebellion (of 1804) Karageorgi was getting big assistance of ‘’Austrian’’ Serbs, and many ‘’Austrian’’ border-guards were fighting Turks who voluntarily joined Karageorgi ‘s units after crossing the border. Karageorgi’s Serb freedom-fighters had among their ranks a spontaneously established military hierarchy of a kind, and had no choice to evade death but to obey Karageorgi’s orders.
The rebels quickly defeated local Turkish garrisons and at the very beginning of the uprising in 1804 freed Rudnik, Kragujevac, Jagodina, Valjevo, Cacak, Pozarevac, Smederevo, and after that captured janissary leaders-dahias and beheaded them.
Rebels sent their delegation to Russia, and next year liberated Karanovac (Kraljevo) and Uzice. According to the book of Zivko Markovic ‘’Karageorgi’s Serbia’’ by that time the army of rebels numbered 39,000 men.
Turks were compelled to hiring ”kyirdzalis”, the then Turkish rogues, in whose ranks, according to Vuk Karadzic men of any confession were accepted; usually these were busy with robbing plain folks. Anyway, ’’kyirdzhalis’’ under the command of Alia Gusanc, displayed themselves as the most reliable support of Porta because they have managed to break through into Belgrade besieged by Serbs, where Alia Gusanc has become the real representative of authority differing from feeble Suleiman-the Belgrade Pasha. The 15,000 strong army collected by Turks was defeated by rebels at Ivanovci, and next year Krusevac, Aleksinac and Porec fell to Serbian hands.
Then Porta –with French assistance- has trained three corps , but the offensive of one of them numbering 9,000 men, recruited in Bosnia from local Muslims ended up in its complete defeat in the battle of Misar by nine thousand Serbian troop which were personally headed by Karageorgi. Turks lost two thirds of the personnel both in the battle itself and during their retreat to Bosnia. After that Serbs led by Karageorgi defeated six thousand strong force of Shashit-pasha who had been advancing from the Leskovac direction, and finally, peace treaty with Turks was signed in accordance with which Porta only left garrisons stationed in cities granting Serbs internal autonomy. As Alia Gusanc ‘’kirdzali’’ forces refused to transfer control over Belgrade to Serbs, Karageorgii on 1(13) December took Belgrade, and on 17(29) December took as well Fortress Kalemegdan, from which, in accordance with the agreement, forces of Alia Gusanc were released, and the on 27 December(08 January) Suleiman-pasha surrendered the last fortification in Kalemegdan.
After that, in 1807 Serbs liberated Loznica and Sabac, and at the same time Russian troops led by General Isaev entered Serbia and started military actions against Turks together with Serbs. Serbs then transferred military actions to Bosnia and Herzegovina where rebellions of local Serbs also erupted. Forces of Karageorgi and local Serb freedom fighters freed Visegrad, Zvornik and Beljana in Bosnia. In 1809 after Turkey declared war on Russia and after the order of Alexander I to Russian troops to attack Turks on Danube direction, Serbian troops have become an important ally of that 20,000 men strong group of forces (according to Serbian historian Stojan Novakovic) which had the aim to force the Danube and come to its right bank.
By that time, according to the fragment of M.Despot’s book ‘’Foreign contemporary press on the First Serb rebellion’’ quoted in the book by Zivko Markovic ‘’Karageorgi’s Serbia’’, at the disposal of Karageorgi was 80,000 men strong army, only 30,000 men of which originated from Serbia, while all the rest were natives from other parts of the Ottoman Empire, directly being volunteers, and moreover , to a considerable extent they were not Serbs, but Greeks, Vlachs and Albanians.
The 45,000 men strong army of Kakgeorgi together with Russian troops of General Prozorovsky and also with forces of Montenegrins undertook an offensive on Turks, and Serbs seized Senica in the south of Serbia and besieged Novi Pazar, and then the army of Karageorgi defeated the Turkish army of Numan-Pasha Mahmud Begovic at Suvodol. In the Drina river direction Serbian troops attacked Beljana and after the counter-offensive of Turkish troops from Bosnia headed by Ibrahim-Pasha from Maglaj, Hasan-Pasha from Srebrenica and Ali-Pasha from Zvornik Serbs defeated them at Loznica.
In this case it is necessary to remind that formation of the then Serbian army was conducted from spontaneously created volunteer detachments without any organized and systematic foreign assistance which Turks had, being supported by Napoleon.
After Turks have introduced new forces disparity was evident enough and that is why the defeat of Serbs at the village Kamenica was logical. Besides, the then Russian observers noted the fight of egos of different Serb war lords. Thus, heroic defence of the Serbian commader Stevan Sinjelic on the Chegar mountain near the village Kamenica, where eventually Sindjelic himself together with his men blew up a gunpowder storehouse not wishing to surrender was due to the refusal of the commander –in-chief of Serb forces in that battle Miloj Petkovic to send assistance to forces of Sindjelic who found themselves at the direction of the main blow of Turks.
In that case the war was for mutual exterminaton and the index of the then attitude of Turks towards Serbs was the so-called ‘’Chele-kula’’ where Turks immured 952 heads of the perished Serbs from the detachment of Sindjelic.
After the Kamenica victory the 70,000 men strong Turkish army attacked Deligrad and seized it after the long siege. But Serbs’ stubborn defense of that town along with Serbs’ victory of 2,000 strong men detachment of Tanasko Rajic over 12,000 strong men force of Alia Gusance near Taborin gave them the opportunity to gain time.
Then after changes in the military command of the Russian army Prince Bagration –who has replaced Prozorovsky- has become commander-in chief , and after the successful Russian onslaught at Danube the new attack of Serb troops ensued in Serbia, and lost territories were regained.
In the spring of 1810 Russian troops of Major-General Cukato who, according to N.Bogunovic (‘’Echoes of the rebellion in Europe’’. N. Bogunovic) together with Serb troops of ‘’haiduk Velko’’ defeated Turks at Deligrad, and after that the Russian corps of Leutenant-General Sas and Serbian forces of Mladen Milovanovic, in accodance to the Serbian historian Cvetic, took Gurgusovac (Knezevac)
Unfortunately, in the ranks of Serbian commander mutual conflicts arose, about what both Major-General Cukato and Bagration’s replacement new Russian Commander-in-Chief Count Kamensky wrote to them, according to the book of Zivko Markovic ‘’Karageorgi’s Serbia’’.
Though the new attack of the 35,000 men strong Turkish army of Hurshid-Pasha entailed Serbian defeats at Svirlig and Sokobanja, there ensued a new victory of Russian army at Batin in Bulgaria where Turks lost 8,000 dead including Alia Gusanc.
The the united forces of Russian troops headed by Major-General O’Rourke, and Serbian troops headed by Karageorgi defeated the forces of Hurshid-Pasha at Varvarin. An important role in that battle has played an evasive action of the Cossack regiment of Colonel Nikic.
In Serbia history the battle of Varvarin is known by the fight between Serb Jovan Kursula and a Turk, when the latter ran away from Kursula-according to the book of Russian General Vladimir Hoffman ‘’The Great leader Karageorgi’’, and is as well know by the fact that the well-known ‘’haiduk Velko’’ received a rank of ‘’war lord’’ from Karageorgi.
The Serbian army of Karageorgi, after a hard defense of Loznica from the 40,000men strong Bosnian army of Turks went on the offensive and defeated Tuks at Tichr, who then retreated to Bosnia.
In February of 1811, in accordance to the Serb historian A.Ivic (‘’From the Time of Karadjorgje and His Son prince Alexander’’) two battalions of Russian army entered Serbia under general command of Colonel Alexander Bal and Russian soldiers were stationed in Belgrade, Sabac and Deligrad, and in November new units of Russian army entered Serbia. By that time Serbs’ forces wer on the wane and population suffered of hunger, so all hopes were on Russia. Nevertheless in the south of Serbia ‘’haiduk Velko defeated Turks twice in battles at Bregovo and Girci, and then in the battle at Gramada Serb troops defeated forces of Hurshid-Pasha who was coming out of Nis, whereas on river Lim the war lord Milos Obrenovic defeated forces of Numan-Pasha coming out of Pec. The Bosnian army of Turks headed by Sulejman-Pasha in which there were French instructors, by that time did not have the resolve to force river Drina, and the basic 60,000 men strong Turkish forces were defeated by Kutuzov at Rushchuk.
Kutuzov himself regarded Karadjodje as an important ally and according to the correspondence quoted in Zivko Markovic’s book ‘’Karadjorjes’ Serbia’’ Kutuzov was sending equipment, money and gunpowder.
In the future the Russian military command was planning to fulfill an offensive on Bosnia by Russian and Serbian troops and further on to the Adriatic Sea in order to knock out the French from there, and Russians have dispatched new forces to Serbia headed by Admiral Chichagov..But the peace treaty signed in Bucharest and the threat of Napoleon’s attack on Russia compelled Emperor Alexander to withdraw his troops from Serbia, while according to the Bucharest treaty Serbs were obliged to let Turkish garrisons to re-enter cities and , in fact, to disband the army, handing over artillery and munitions excluding personal cold and fire arms which the population would retain.
A new offensive of 200,000men strong Turkish troops took place in 1813 during Karadjordje’s serious illness and whom many Serb commanding officers refused to obey, according to the book of the Russian General Vladimir Hoffman.
As a result, the 55,000 men strong Serbian army was defeated and Serbia once again found itself under Turkish authority. After the establishment of the Turkish power one of the Karadjorje’s war lords-Milos Obrenovic- nominated by Turks to be the Serb leader-gave the order to kill majority of the rest Serb war lords, and in 1817 his people killed Karadjorgje himself who, after the defeat of Serb troops was hiding in Russia and from where he arrived to Serbia for organization of a new rebellion.
At that time Serbian people greeted war merits and if a person displayed military valor, even if he showed his exploits not in the Serbian army he nevertheless could count on respect among many Serbs. The reason for this lay in the Serbian psychology itself where notions of honor and dignity, inalienably connected with military service ,were important in its formation.
Russian travelers often recalled the practice of Montenegrin ruler who were collecting to war in fact independent tribes by simply sending a messenger who going around Serbian villages of regions Montenegro and Birdo and just shouting: ‘’who is the knight, who is Montenegrin, who is for an honest cross!’’ fulfilled the collection, and such practice cannot be called anything but volunteerism. The tribal structure of Montenegro was in in its essence a military organization, and local Montenegrin tribes often waged wars with Turks, firsthand with local Muslims of Serbian and Albanian origin.
In fact , Montenegrins waged there the non-stop guerilla warfare supporting Serbs living in the regions under Turkish power and neighboring with Montenegro. On the strength of that it is natural that in 1878 after the Russian Turkish war king Alexander II in his manifesto lauded the actions of Montenegrins and, by that as well as volunteers from the neighboring regions reproaching Serbian army at the same time.
In the meantime, after the liberation from the Turkish power Serbia was utilizing volunteers effectively enough. Thus, during the Hungarian revolution of 1848-49, when Serbs of Srem, Banat and Backa were supporting the Austrian crown during the war against the rebel Serbs, then to help “”Serbian Vojvodina’’ created by the order of the Austrian Emperor, Serbia in 1848 sent a 12,000 men strong volunteer corps headed by Stevan Knjizanin, and this force was included into the army of the Austrian general (of Serbian origin) Stevan Suplikac.
It was these volunteers under the command of Stevan Knizanin who played the key role in the victory over the Hungarian troops of General Kish in the battle at Pancevo on January 2, 1849.
According to the work ’’Serbian volunteers and Serbian movement in Hungary in 1848-49’’ by Nenad Uric (‘’Volunteers in wars for liberation of Serbs and Montenegrins’’ Institute of contemporary history. Belgrade.1996. The association of war volunteers of 1912-18, their descendants and admirers/NIP ‘’Komuna-Kikinda), the then Commander in Chief of Serb troops Colonel Ferdinand Mayerhofer suggested to give Pancevo in to Hungarians and to retreat to Serbia, but Stevan Knidjanin supported by Captain Adam Kosanic spoke against the retreat at a headquarters meeting.
PAGE 9. Further on, however, mainly because of the withdrawal of bigger part of volunteers to Serbia which was done under the pressure of the Austrian government, Serbo-Austrian troops of the General Kuzman Todorovic started to get defeated by Hungarians who managed to regain control over the bigger part of Banat and Backa after the victory over Austrians in the battle of Kopolne.
Bu the volunteer detachment from Serbia headed by Stevan Knidjanin having returned from Serbia, was able to get a foothold at the Titel plateau and to preserve Srem and by that to prevent their full defeat.
Also in 1862, after Turkish gunning of Belgrade, Serbia , lacking trained military personnel, created a Yugoslav legion in Valjevo, (as already then the idea of ‘’Yugoslavia’’ started to become popular in Serbia), numbering around 3,000 men, mainly Serbs from Austria, but there were also Croats, Germans, Poles and Czechs, in accordance to the work of Branko Beslina ‘’Serbs from Habsburg monarchy-participants in the Bosnia and Herzegovina uprising and in Serbo-Turkish wars of 1875-78’’(‘’Volunteers in Serbian and Montenegrin liberation wars’’, Institute of contemporary history. Belgrade.1996. Association of war volunteers of 1912-1918, their descendants and admirers/NIP ‘’Komuna’’-Kikinda)
After the defeat of Russian in the Crimean war and the revocation of the Russian protectorate over the Orthodox in the Turkish Empire, the situation of the Orthodox has deteriorated and after several years of terror Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgarians in Bulgaria started a revolt. To suppress them Turks decided to start repressions for which resorted to using Circassians where being evicted from the Caucasus after the defeat in the Caucasian war and populated by Turks in their European domains of Ottoman empire. ‘’Turkish ‘’ methods of counter-guerilla war meaning total destruction of rebels and their families were then demonstrated by Circassians and by detachments of ‘’bashibuzuks’’ created by Turks from Albanian and Slav Muslims.
In that case the actions of ‘’bashibuzuks’’ were the consequences of a well-thought out Turkish policy for complete suppression of any Orthodox resistance inside the Turkish Empire by the forces of Muslims residing among them, and more exatly, by militias created by the latter.
‘’Bashibuzuks’’ were a typical Oriental militia and acted by typically oriental methods – beheading thousands of Orthodox heads at connivance of the British government which strived in that way to put an end to Russian influence in the Balkans and to strengthen the situation of its ally – Turkey.
The only obstacle for Turks were actions of Serbia and Montenegro which organized support of rebels in Bosnia and Herzegovina both by arms and by volunteer detachments, whereas in Bulgaria the rebels were partially defeated and partially retreated to the mountains and to the neighboring Serbia.
When Serbia and Montenegro declared war on Turkey on June 18, 1876 the number of volunteers in Serbian troops has grown. In accordance to the work of Branko Beshlin –‘’Serbs of Habsburg monarchy –participants in the Bosnia and Herzegovina uprising and Serbian-Turkish wars of 1875-78’’, in 1876 there was created a ‘’Volunteer Corps’’ of the Serbian Drina army where the majority of personnel was comprised of Serbian volunteers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly fro regions of Semberia and Majevica.
Officers’ staff were mainly from ‘’Austrian’’ Serbs –officers of the Austro-Hungarian army many of whom took part in wars against Prussian and Italy.
In various volunteer detachments, the biggest of which were detachments of ”Austrian” Serbs, ”Turkish’’” Serbs and Bulgarians , representatives of different nationalities were fighting –Englishmen, Italians, Frenchmen, Greeks, Romanians, Poles, and at that time Serbia was accepting all volunteers, and thus at the Badovinci military base of the Drina army Volunteer corps, there were many volunteers from different countries and cities, including Italian followers of Garibaldi and Prussian officers.
Among the latter it was possible to discern Prussian officers brothers Eugeny and Pavel Sturm. The latter one who took part in the Franco-Prussian war and who later voluntarily joined the Serbian army, has changed his surname to Jurisic and having stayed in Serbia has made a successful military career becoming during the WWI the renowned Commander –in Chief of the Third Serbian Army.
It is evident that owing to wars waged constantly, and on the outcome of which depended the destiny of the whole nation, the profession of the military was held in high esteem among the Serbian nation. The biography of the King Petar Karadjordjevic was indicative enough: he was the son of Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic and grandson of Karadjordje himself, and he was a volunteer in the French army during the Franco-Prussian war, after that under the name of Petar Mrkonic joined Serb rebels during the Serbian uprising against Turks in Herzegovina in 1875. Alongside with that one of the most well known generals in the army of King Petar was Pavel Jurisic, former Prussian officer Pavel Sturm, too. On more of Karadjordjevices –Arsenij, son of Prince Alexander, having served in the French Foreign legion, joined the Russian army with the beginning of Russian-Japanese war of 1905 and took part in combat against the Japanese.
After coming back to Serbia Arsenij got from King Petar the position of the cavalry division commander with which he took part in the liberation of Kosovo and Metohija.
During the war of 1876-77, on the initiative of Garibaldi and some socialist and freemason circles which supported him a detachment was created consisting of several hundreds of Italian volunteers, in accordance to the work by Miljana Aleksic-Pejkovic ‘’Italian volunteers in Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia (1875-76). These volunteers acted successfully enough, including their taking part in guerilla operations in Herzegovina, though their liaisons with Montenegrin liberals headed by Ljubibratic , was the reason of their frequent conflicts with Prince Nikola.
Besides, local Montenegrin community was often of the view that these volunteers among which there were many Italian Princes and officers, fleed Italy either because of poverty or felony, according to the author Miljana Aleksic-Pajkovic.
But Russian volunteer movement was ‘’the biggest one with the biggest consequences’’. (From materials of the book of Bulgarian historian S. Genov ‘’Volunteer movement in the Balkans during the Serbo-Turkish war of 1876 in the collection of works «Congres international des etudes balkaniques et Sud Est Europeennes» 1-er 1966, Actes № 4, Sofia,1969, p.234).
Effectively, all Russia represented by Russian volunteers stood up in defense of Serbia and only because of that the Turkish army which was much stronger than Serbian troops sustained great casualties. Added to that Serbia did not have regular army at that moment, it was largely owed to Serbian authorities themselves which were under the influence of the neighboring Austria, and thus its destiny was predetermined.
However, Russia as any other country was subject to internal political struggle and outside political pressures. Under these conditions a recipe was applied which displayed itself successfully yet in the beginning of the XIXth century in Greece, and the recipe was to form volunteer detachments formally independent of the Russian state, volunteers which played the role of a backbone which was able to brace the Serbian army.
General Mihail Grigorievich Cheryaev headed this movement; he was the hero of the conquest of the Middle Asia. Without doubt, general Chernyaev was a great idealist who has sacrificed his name for a sufficiently ungrateful political goal of saving of the army obviously doomed to defeat; nobody compelled Milan Obrenovic to nominate Chernyaev the commader in chief of the Serbian army, as the Russian government was at that time against overly explicit interference in relations between pro-British Turkey and pro-Austrian Serbia.
Chernyaev, according to the work of Andrei Shemyakin, by strength of his name was able to attract a big number of representatives of the Russian aristocracy, like Vissarion Komarov, Dmitry Dohturov, Count Konovnicin, Prince Chavchavadze, Minikh, Count Keller, Prince Nikolai Raevskiy, who brought not only experience but also the means to the Serbian army.
In accordance to the book by A.V.Okorokov ‘’Russian volunteers’’ , the basis for the volunteer movement in Serbia was comprised of the patriotically oriented officers of the Russian army, the representatives of which were Colonel of the Head quarters V.V. Komarov, V. Bekker, D.P. Dohturov.
In fact, Russian officers who comprised one third of all the Russian volunteers who by August of 1876 and totaled to 2200 men, have created the Russian army.
As Nikolai Vasilievich Maksimov wrote, who was the participant of that war and also Russian volunteer in Serbian- Turkish war of 1876-1878 and newspaper correspondent at the detachment of General M.D. Skobelev during the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, Russian officers were not of a high opinion about Serbian army.
Indeed, Serbian volunteers from Austrian army officers were also of low opinion about Serbian army, and the thing here is not only because of the fact that Serbian army then represented mainly village militia..
This could be overcome but for the totally incompetent activities of the then (since 1876) Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Army Frantisek Zakh, who, though he did not have any military education and combat experience besides participating as a Czech volunteer in the Polish rebellion against Russia, upon his arrival to Serbia at once has received high command positions owing to the ”lobbying ” activities of Polish emigrants, namely, owing to the Paris organization ”Hotel ”Lamber” created by these emigrants; this organization was under the auspices of the Turkish Sultan thenks to connections of the Polish colony in Adampol near Istambul.
When policies of prince Milan Obrenovic concerning creation of a ‘’Yugoslav’’ state on the account of Turkey led to the 1976 war with Turks it was discovered that the Serbian army being created by ‘’General’’ Frantisek Zakh is almost not battle-worthy and in 1877 Serbian General Jovan Dragasevic urgently replaced Zakh at his position. The latter was in urgent need of trained command cadre and that is why, according to the book ‘’Russian volunteers’’ by A.V. Okorokov, on July 27,1876 Emperor Alexander II declared his permission for officer to temporarily retire to give them the possibility to go to the theater of war in the Balkans, and from there they could return to their units without detriment for their careers. Simultaneously, General Dandevillle was dispatched to Serbia on the instruction of the Emperor, as a representative of the St.Petersburg Slavic Committee and V. N. Teplov as representative of the Moscow Slavic Committee for coordination of enrollment and assignment of volunteers.
A part of volunteers were appointed to command positions –from company commander to brigade commander – to units of the Serbian army, the other part were dispatched to volunteer detachments which consisted of Serbs, natives of territories under Turkish authority, and of Bulgarians as well. By the end of the war detachments appeared which consisted exclusively of Russian volunteers. The biggest number of Russian volunteers fought in the Timocko-Moravska army, their number was around 2200, out of which there were 650 officers and 300 medical personnel.
Along with that it is possible that for Serbia it would be mach more rational to engage more actively in support, organization and procurement of Serbian rebels operating on the Turkish territory, organizing guerilla detachments from them. The example of that was organization of Bulgarian volunteer detachments, and an important place in organization Bulgarian squads was occupied by major of Russian army A.V. Kireev, brother of A.A. Kireev, one of leading ideologists and theoreticians of Slavophilism.
A.V. Kireev was wounded in the battle in the region of Veliki Izvor when he led the attack of Bulgarian volunteers at the Kadibogaz mountain pass.
When Bulgarian rebels, under the onslaught of Turks, retreated to the territory of Serbia, they started to get organized into separate detachments of the Bulgarian Legion, with the help of Russian volunteers. In the long run, this Legion could-with the assistance of Serbian army- start a guerilla war in Bulgaria, as Turks did not have an effective command over their own forces and forces of Circassians and local ‘’bashibuzuks’’ who were more interested in looting and killing than in performance of military duties.
However in that case it is necessary to take into consideration the factor which was little taken into account in Russia –national enmity between Serbs and Bulgarians. It is indicative that Serbian sources often evade to mention the role of the Bulgarian Legion which indeed has played an exceptionally important role in that war. In the meantime in that case we spoke not about plain Bulgarian peasants but about those who having voluntarily joined the rebel ranks against an obviously greater force, received combat experience fighting both Turkish regular army and Turkish militias.
That is, in this case by natural selection, Serbia has received a well-trained and morally staunch military unit –Bulgarian Legion which by Russian officers’ hand was transforming into professional regular force.
However in this case the Balkan traditional logic has overweighed arguments of common sense, and Government of Serbia was merely toleration the Bulgarian Legion, and that was owing to General Chernyaev. It is also necessary to remember that the build-up of both Serbian army and Bulgarian legion was going under the leadership of a group of enthusiasts without direct guidance of the Russian state, and on the strength of that it is no wonder that the breakthrough to Bulgaria planned by Chernyaev, has failed.
Chernyaev and Russian volunteers were striving to achieve a general victory over Turks, and regarded Bulgaria as a field for its quickest attainment, and it was more convenient for Chernyaev to organize guerilla warfare in Bulgaria by hands of the Bulgarian Legion and Russian volunteers, so that Serbian army would defend themselves from Turks. However, in his actions General Chernyaev was restricted by the actions of the Serbian government, and it was only in September/October of 1876 through the efforts of Count Keller that two brigades were formed from Russian and Bulgarian volunteers; these brigades successfully displayed themselves in fighting in the valley of Morava where they defeated Turks and Circassians.
Along with this, the brigades during actions at the Turkish territory had to suppress riots of local Serb Muslims and to fight guerilla actions of detachments of Circassians and Arnaouts.
Nevertheless finally forces of Serbian army, Bulgarian legion and Russian volunteers on August 14,1876 defeated the 40,000 men Turkish army at Fundin. But Serbian army did not have sufficient forces and training and was not able to fulfill the assignment the government tasked the army with –the mission obviously impossible –to attack Kosovo-where due to the big percentage of Albanian population Turks had and strong mobilization basis, whereas, in accordance with recollections of Russian participants from the book by N.V. Maksimov ‘’Two wars of 1867-1878’’ many Serb peasants who were mobilized did not fully understand the sense of the war with Turks, with whom they for sixty year before that were living in peace, no matter how fragile it was.
In that case it was a typical deficiency of armies just recruited, which did not have a military mechanism well tuned, as before that in Serbia there was an army numbering several thousand men strong, and Austria was preventing its enhancement. The attempt of General Chernyaev’s attempt to form a regular army out of recruited Serb peasants with the help of Russian volunteers was not a very successful one because Russian volunteers were not an organized force in Russian and did not have well oiled mechanisms of training and command Serbs whose language they did not understand, and not a single military leader being at Chernyaev’s place would not be able to fulfill such assignment .
In that case, probably, for General Cheryaev it would be more expedient to form a Serbian legion from Serb volunteers with Russian and Serbian command, similar to the Bulgarian legion, leaving the rest of the Serbian army to conduct trench warfare. Then General Chernyaev would get a much more rallied and trained force which could wage maneuverable fighting including raids in their rear.
As a result Turks having quickly mobilized resources started an attack onto Serb fortress Aleksinac. Though during fierce fighting around Sumatovac and Gornij Androvac from 18th to 22nd August General Chernyaev’s forces were able to withstand the Turkish blow, however as a result of a flanking maneuver of the Turkish army these forces were compelled to retreat on September 1, whereas the counter-attack has failed because of the refusal to go into attack of a big number of recruited Serb volunteers.
Turkey which many times exceeded both Serbia and Montenegro by population, was transferring new reserves to that war theater, whereas Serbs did not have sufficient human reserves, and Bulgarians, not taking volunteers into consideration, did not take part in the war.
As a result, the army of General Chernyaev was compelled to retreat in battles at Gornij androvac on October 17, 1876, and then also at Junis on 29 October , 1876, where more than a half of Russian volunteers died. According to the book by A.V.Okorokov ‘’Russian volunteers’’ after ceasing of active combat by January 19 , most of Russian volunteers went back to Russia, but around 1500 volunteers stayed in Serbia in the division formed by Colonel Mezheninov.
However, after signing peace between Serbia and Turkey on February 16,1977, the bigger portion of Russian volunteers came back home, but for less than a hundred who remain in the Russian/Bulgarian brigade of Colonel Miloradovich which after signing peace between Serbia and Turkey was withdrawn to Ploesti.
Nevertheless Serbia won its independence thanks to these volunteers, without whose active role Russian army hardly would have been sent against Turks in 1877, and were Russian volunteers have played their role urging Russian to war with Turkey the result of which was liberation of both Serb and Bulgarian territories.
However when before the beginning of the Russian Turkish war Lieutenant General Nikitin was dispatched to Serbia with the aim of preparation of the Serbian army and Russian volunteer units, then, because of the refusal of Serbian authorities of active offensive actions his mission turned impossible.
Nevertheless according to the book ‘’Russian volunteers’’ by A.V.Okorokov, during heavy fighting in September of 1878 at Aleksinac, where the destiny of the Serbian army was at stake forces of the corps of Colonel Horvatovic were under the command of Russian officers: the left corps was under the command of Colonel Molostov, the center one–by Colonel Klinder, the right wing was commanded by Colonel Zhuravlev, whereas in the Drina and Ibr armies which were located at less important directions, there were correspondingly 50 and 130 Russian volunteers.
Russian volunteers have played an important part on the formation of the Bulgarian militia which was under formation after the end of the Serbia/Turkish war in February/March of 1877 in Chisinau. At first it consisted of six battalions totaling up to 7,500 men under the command of the General of the Russian army N.G. Stoletov, and this militia took part in combat at Stara Zagora, Shipka and Sheinovo, and by the end of the war it numbered twelve battalions.
In the book ‘’Russian Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the Feat of Liberators’’ written by well known Bulgarian historian Genov (Genov C., Sophia, ‘’Sofia-press’’, 1979, translated by Kirill Gerasimov), the following is put forward: ‘’…Not depending of aims and motivations of separate countries involved into the Oriental crisis, the Russian Turkish war of 1877-1878 ended up with the victory of Russian weaponry and peace has been signed. The main result of the war was the formation of the Bulgarian state. That is why Bulgarian people call the last Russian Turkish war of the XIX century as War for Liberation’’ .
Not less important was the role of volunteers from Serbian regions which remained under Turkish authorities, in the preparation for the First Balkan war and during the war itself. Formed ‘’on public principles’’ from such volunteers the so called ‘’cheta’’ detachments (‘’cheta’’ is ‘’company’’, ‘’a hundred’’ in translation) since 1904 till 1912 were waging ‘’guerilla’’ warfare in Kosovo and Metohija, Macedonia and in South Serbia, with the support of the local population. After the period of ‘’private initiative’’ in waging guerilla warfare since 1904 which was going on mainly under the auspices of the ‘’Serbian Committee (created in Belgrade in1903), the government of Serbia in 1906 has established direct control over the movement, which from its very beginning was controlled by the Intelligence Service of the HQ of the Serbian army, and by the Service Chief Dragutin Dimitrijevic – ‘’Apis’’.
In 1906 the committee of the organization ’’Clandestine union of Serbian defenses’’ , which was founded in 1905, was organized at the Consular Department of the Serbian Foreign Ministry. Until 1908 this committee was in charge of operations of Serb ‘’chetniks’’, all the more so that many of them were natives of Kosovo and Metohija and knew that location quite well. In general the operations were successful enough though sometimes defeats of ‘’chetnik’’ detachments took place. It was like that in May of 1904 in the region of Suplij Kamen near Kumanovo in Macedonija, and in region of Pasjane near Gnjilane in Kosovo in July 1907.
According to the work ‘’The defeat of Serb chetniks at Pasjane (Gnjilane) (Volunteers in liberation wars of Serbs and Montenegrins, Institute for contemporary history, Belgrade, 1996), Serbs fought similar Macedonian guerillas also, which were called ‘’comits’’.
After the ‘’Young Turks’’ revolution in 1908 the government of Serbia abandoned ‘’chetnik’’ operations in Turkey, however it continued training of the already formed chetnik detachments which played such an important role in the 1912 First Balkan war where they were the vanguard of Serbian troops and were conducting intelligence activities By that time the majority of chetniks were enough experienced fighters.
Volunteers played similar important role in the actions of the Montenegrin army during the First Balkan war, according to the article of Mitar Djurisic‘’Volunteers in Montenegrin army during the First Balkan war of 1912-1913’’ (Volunteers in liberation wars of Serbs and Montenegrins, Institute for contemporary history, Belgrade, 1996).
Before the beginning of the war Montenegro has formed segregate battalions from Serbs who fled to Montenegro from regions of Sanjak, Metohija and from the region of Vlasojevic tribe who remained under Turkish authority.
Volunteers from Austro-Hungarian Serbs (mainly from Bosnia and Herzegovina and from the region of Boka Kotorska) and a number of foreign volunteers were included into these battalions.
It is owing to the big number of local volunteers the Montenegrin commander Janko Vukotic was able, with only three brigades at his disposal, to take town Plevle, Bjelo Polje and Berani, organizing during combat actions battalions of volunteers from local Serbs.
The role of chetniks was important during WW I as well. Guerilla war against the occupation forces –after the occupation of Serbia by Austro-Hungarian troops- was organized by ‘’chertnik’’ organizations.
Thus, according to the book ‘’Small war – partisanship and diversions’’ by M.A Drobov (Anthology ‘’Vimpel’’. Moscow.1998.) the guerilla war was waged by ‘’chetas’’ (companies) of Serbian volunteers –‘’comitages’’ whom foreign historians call ‘’comites’’. According to Drobov, though the total number of these ‘’comitages’’ on Serbian territory reached 6-7 thousand men, the Austro-Hungarian military command was compelled to keep against the a military contingent numbering up to 70,000 men, and sometimes the quantity of that contingent reached 90,000 men.
When during the years of WW I, in January of 1916, around 150,000 servicemen of the Serbian army were evacuated to the island of Korfu, and when Montenegrin King Nikola ordered the army to return to their homes, then, by demand of King Nikolai II, the Serbian army was transferred to the Thessaloniki front, preserving by that the political influence of the royal Serbian government. Then volunteers have become an important factor of preserving of the combat strength of the Serbian army which was suffering heavy losses. During that period representatives of South Slovene’s emigration were organizing the recruiting of volunteers to the Serbian army, and the Yugoslavian Committee –in which there were both Serbs and Croatians and Slovenes – was playing an active role in that.
Nevertheless, the major part of volunteers recruited in the USA and Canada as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe, were of Serbian origin, in according to different sources their number reached up to 10,000 men, and it is necessary to add to that number several thousand of volunteers from military prisoners of the Austro-Hungarian army, mainly Serbs took by Serb’s army.
In Russia , by the decree of King Nikolai II a Serbian volunteer detachment was created out of Yugoslavs-military prisoners from Austro-Hungarian army took by Russian army, with the HQ in Odessa. It was because of Nikolai II’s great sympathy to Serbian King Alexander, for whom it was allowed to send to Russia a group of officers of the Serbian army headed by Colonel Hadjic. These officers have formed the 1-st Serbian volunteers’ division numbering around 10,000 men, which, after the operation in 1916 designed by the Allies with the aim of breaking through to Serbia, displayed itself well in combat, but suffered heavy losses and because of that expressed insubordination to its command and was withdrawn into rear, where within its struggle began between supporters of King Alekander and supporters of the ‘’Black arm’’ organization.
At the same time Croatian and Slovenian officers who were in the minority, started demanding introduction of Croatian and Slovenian insignia. But soon the February revolution took place and, on the basis of the 1-st division the 2-nd division is formed, after that both divisions are united into the Corps of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes.
By that time it has become evident that Austro-Hungary is losing the war, Croatians and Slovenes started to surrender en-masse at the front, and because of that the Serbs who were in the Corps, though they were a majority, had to take Croatians and Slovenes into consideration. In 1918 the Corps was evacuated to Yugoslavia which was by then created, and the idea of formation of Yugoslav Corps which would help Kolchak and Denikin to fight the Red army, has remained ‘’a good intention’’ of King Aleksander, as the Serbian government of Nikola Pasic objected to these plans of King Alexander.
With the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes, thereafter renamed to Yugoslavia, the traditions of volunteerism have not been lost, though in this case an important role was played by Russian White Guardsmen who were accepted to serve in the army of the new kingdom and who received its citizenship from King Aleksander.
According to the book by A.V. Okorokov ‘’Russian volunteers’’ (‘’Avoir Consulting’’ 2004) in the the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes was Ahmed-Bey Zogu who in 1924 was preparing a complot with the aim of overthrowing a pro-Soviet government headed by Fan-Noli in Albania. Albanian volunteers detachments have been formed, mainly from Matjan tribe , and for the formation of an artillery battery and a machine-gun squadron Russian White guardsmen were invited and contracted, mainly from Kiev Hussars, numbering 102 men and headed by Colonel Miklashevskiy who at that time was at the service in the Serbian army and hence subordinate to instructions of the HQ General of the army of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes .
As A.V.Okorokov writes, the Russo-Albanian detachment of Ahmed-Bey Zogu crossed the border on December 16, and already on December 17 started fighting for the village of Peskopeja which was taken successfully. After some rest the detachment continued the onslaught to Tirana, and after fighting on 20-24 December for Tirana the city was successfully seized on 26 December.
The Russian detachment continued its service with Ahmed-Bey Zogu, commanded by Colonel Berestovskiy, and though in 1926 the detachment was disbanded, all its veterans were awarded a pension amounting to the current salary on condition that pensioners live in Albania.
In the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes (renamed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia later) itself, it was decided, .after scrutinizing of the war experience of the war in Spain of 1936-1939 and the annexation of Austria in 1938, to revive former ‘’chetnik’’ units within the army. On the initiative of the HQ Chief of Staff General Dusan Simovic and the Head of its Operative Division Colonel Branko Popovic the Combat plan coded ‘’S’’ was accepted which envisaged ‘’guerilla’’ actions at territories from where the army would retreat (according to the article ‘’Storm (‘’chetnik’’) units of the army of the army of the kingdom of Yugoslavia of 1940-1941)(magazine ‘’Vojnoistorijski glasnik’’, No1/2, 2003).
After the replacement of General Simovic at his position by General Petar Kosic in January of 1940 the new ‘’R-41’’ plan was accepted which also envisaged ‘’guerilla’’ actions and formation of special units for conducting ‘’guerilla ‘’ warfare. In that case the notions of reconnaissance /subversive actions proper and guerilla warfare , for which historically ‘’guerilla’’ was meant, were not divided. On the strength of that, when-according to the article by J.Jivotic-the then Minister for war Milan Nedic signed the order concerning formation of the ‘’chetnik’’ HQ for the fulfillment of the idea about creation of ‘’chetnik’’ units for waging ‘’guerilla’’ actions, the name of that HQ was the only common thing with former ‘’chetniks’’ of the 1912 war.
The formation of the reconnaissance/subversive units in its sense was envisaged by way of acceptance to them of professional servicemen from regular army and replenishment of these units by way of selection from other army units with the aim of their training, weaponry and equipment to be way better than other army units.
The training of the ‘’chetnik’’ units was determined by the confidential directive ‘’The directive on chetnik warfare’’of 1929 , and according to that their actions were determined as activities of small groups evading head-on actions.
At the same time, ‘’chetnik’’ actions in that document were differentiated from ‘’guerilla warfare’’ as they were conducted only at the flanks of the troops, or in close rear of the opponent, whereas ‘’guerilla’’ was understood to be a ‘’guerilla warfare’’ at territories occupied by the adversary.
However, as Zivotic writes, there was no detailed description of waging ‘’guerilla warfare’’, and in its essence, there were no mechanisms concerning its realization and concerning commanding local rebels, though in accordance with this directive they should be the basis for the ‘’guerilla war’’ in case that the adversary seizes the state territory, partially or in full. Though it was considered that ‘’chetnik’’ units would be replenished by draftees from the ‘’Sokol’’ youth movement, but, accoding to Zivotic, officers from ‘’chetnik’’ units have conducted only several lessons with the draftees.
Though it was mentioned in that directive that in the case of reconnaissance/subversive actions in the interest of the army , ‘’chetnik’’ units should rely on local population, no operative reserve forces from the local population were formed, and there were no liaisons with population via territorial organizations. There was no ideological factor present whereas the 1912 chetniks were motivated both by Serbian nationalism and, no less important, by Orthodox Christian ideas.
Additionally, recruitment to their ranks of not only Serbs but Croatians and Slovenes has taken place, so it was only natural that according to the demand of the Yugoslav Vice Prime Minister, Croatian by origin Vlatko Macek the ‘’chetnik’’ units were re-named ‘’assault’’ units.
Brigadier General Mihailo Mihailovic was nominated to be the commander of these assault forces; he was the participant of the First and second Balkan war, WWI, where he received experience of reconnaissance/subversive operations, and major Dusan Anjelkovic became his Chief of Staff, and these officers both were Serbs.
According to Zivotic, the HQ of chetnik/assault forces was in Novi Sad (berore the beginning of the war it was relocated to Kraljevo) and was directly under the HQ General. 6 chetnik assault battalions were subordinate to it which were stationed in Novi Sad (1st battalion), Sarajevo (2nd battalion), Skopje (3rd battalion), Karlovac (4th battalion) Nis (5th battalion), Mostar (6th battalion). So, the battalions were stationed either on Serbian territories or on territories where Serbs comprised from one third to half of the population and, correspondingly, real actions of the internal opponents, like Croatian ‘’ustashes’’, could not have any effect on activities of these units in 1941.
All the battalions had two companies, and the 1st and the 3rd ones had three companies. Every company had four platoons, and every platoon had , beside the Platoon Leader and his Deputy had 6 fighting trios –each one consisted of Commander and two soldiers.
The chetnik-assault battalions were replenished by way of recruitment of volunteers from regular army, and officers were selected from infantry units of a military region( military district) . On the strength of that battalions were composed of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and in the 4th and 6th battalions Croats were a majority.
These battalions were armed only with small arms, mainly with carbines M-24K of 7,9 caliber, and American submachine guns ‘’Thomson’’ were ordered just before the war and did not arrive to battalions remaining at military warehouses. Anti-tank rifles, as armaments, were not shipped as well, and only a few motorcycles represented motorized means of transportation. There were no machine guns in service. ‘’Chetniks’’ were trained for ambush actions, marches on rough terrain, parachute jumps and overcoming of water obstacles (forcing rivers).
As Zivotic writes, despite the fact that on the 1st of April, 1941 the name of ‘’chetnik’’ was returned to these battaloions, and their HQ was relocated to Kraljevo, guerilla warfare was not started even on Serb territories, because the HQ General has made the decision to gather ‘’chetnik’’ battalions in the region of Kraljevo where to the 5th battalion from Nis was dispatched, and where the formation of one more, the 7th chetnik battalion
Started, on the basis of one unit of the 1st battalion and one unit of the 3rd battalion. b
At the same time recruitment campaign to chetnik battalions was announced , for individuals of Slavic descent excluding Bulgarians. However, already on the 4th day of war the chetnik HQ together with the 2nd and 7th battalions (but for one cheta (company) which was sent to Kosovska Mitrovica) started moving to Bosnia, and on April the 13th it was in Rogatica and April 14th in Kalinovik.
Though in the region of Kalinovik the terrain was ideal for guerilla warfare –mountains 1500-2500 meters high , wooded and with mountain caves, the HQ was relocated to Sarajevo from there. On April 18 this HQ surrendered to Germans together with forces of the 2nd and the 7th battalions..
1st battalion did not engage in fighting until 11th of April altogether, and thereafter also retreated to Bosnia to the region of Bejana, where in fighting the German parachute descent units for the airport at Beljana and with the detachment of local Croatian ustashe who raised a rebellion, this battalion was defeated, and the outcome of the fighting was decided when German tanks arrived.
Only a small group of soldiers and officers of that battalion managed to evade captivity and were able in May to come to the rock massif Ravna gora joining the detachment of theYugoslav army HQ General Intelligence department officer Colonel Draza ??) Mihailovic. The 3rd chetnik battalion was also defeated in the Kacanik ravine on April 12, and was mostly taken POW, and the 4th battalion because of the fact that the majority of the officers were Croatians, did not join the fighting, and after redeployment from Karlovac to Bjelovar surrendered to Germans.
PAGE 18.The 5th battalion which until April 8 was guarding the 8th army HQ in Nis was captured at Kraljevo on April 14 during the overall retreat, and the 6th battalion which on April 4 was redeployed from Mostar to Serbia, town of Mladenovac, thought on April 10 started fighting Germans at Kragujevac, already on April 15 surrendered to Germans near Gornij Milanovac. Thus, the chetnik organization formed within the regular army, experienced complete collapse. It is clear that apart of chetniks who evaded captivity, joined the chetnik movement of Draza (?) Mihailovic, together with members of various organizations of chetnik veterans and with volunteers, it was, however, a completely other movement, connected only nominally with former Yugoslav army.
List of Sources
1.’’Russian volunteers’’A.V Okorokov, ‘’Avoir Consulting’’,2004
2’’Volunteer movement in the Balkan during the Serbian/Turkish war of 1876’’ Genov S. ..«Congres international des etudes balkaniques et Sud Est Europeennes» 1-er 1966, Actes № 4, Sofia,1969, p.234
3.’’Volunteers in Serbian and Montenegrin wars for liberation’’ Institute for contemporary history, Beograd, 1996. Association of war volunteers of 1912-1918, their descendants and admirers/NIP ‘’Komuna’’-Kikinda
4.’’Russian/Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the feat of liberators’’ Genov C. SofiaPress, 1979. Translation by Kirill Gerasimov
5. Assault (chetnik) units of the army of Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1940-1941’’ Aleksandar Z. Zivotic. Military history jounal, No 1-2, Belgrade 2003.
6.Web-site Military literature’’ http://militera.lib.ru
7. ‘’General Chernyaev’’ by Andrei Shemyakin
8. ‘’Small warfare-guerilla war and subversion’’ M.A Drobov. Anthology ‘’Vimpel’’ Moscow, 1998.
9. “Shari’ah and its social essence’’, Miroljub Jevtic ‘’Nikola Pasic’’, Belgrade, 2001.
10. ‘’Modern jihad as warfare’’ Miroljub Jevtic ‘’Nikola Pasic’’ Belgrade, 2001.
11.’’ General: the fighting one and the disgraced one’’. Aleksandr Petrov. ‘’Rodina’’ magazine, No 6, 1994
12. ‘’ Karadjorge’s Serbia -1804-1817’’. Zivko Markovic, Bern, 2006
13. ‘’History of Karadjorge’s vine’’ ‘’Orasac’’, 1994
14. General: the fighting one and the disgraced one’’. Aleksandr Petrov. ‘’Rodina’’ magazine, No 6, 1994
15. ‘’Two wars 1876-1878’’ Maksimov N.V. St. –Petersburg, 1879
16. ‘’About Obilic’s spirit in Serbs’’ (TAK????) Rade Rajic
Olrg Valeckii was born in 1968 in Ukraine.He was a combatant during the period of the war in Yugoslavia in the 90-ties as a volunteers in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Army of Republika Srpska and in Kosovo with the army of Jugoslavia.
Author of the books: ‘’Yugoslav War’’ (‘’Kraft’’ publishing house, Moscow 2006, 2008); “Wolves White’’ (Serbia diary of a Russian volunteer 1993-1998) (‘’Grifon’’ publishing house,, Moscow, 2006); ‘’New strategy of USA and NATO and its impact on the development of foreign systems of armaments and munitions’’ , (‘’Arktika’’ publishing house, Moscow, 2008.); ‘’Landmine weapon (Issues of mining and de-mining) ‘’Kraft+’’ publishing house, 2009; ‘’Yugoslav war 1991-1995’’, ‘’Kraft+’’, Moscow, 2001