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Osman Nuri Paşa ( ) also Gazi Osman Pasha (1832-April 5 1900) was an Ottoman Turkish field marshal and the hero of the Siege of Plevenmarker in 1877. He was awarded the title 'Gazi' (Turkish for 'Veteran') as a result of that siege.

Early life

Osman pasa was born into a prominent family (Yağcıoğulları) of the city of Tokatmarker in Central Anatolia. His father was a civil worker. Soon after Osman's birth, his father was appointed to a position in the Ottoman capital, and the family moved to Constantinoplemarker, where Osman did his studies. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1852, and entered the cavalry at the beginning of the Crimean War, where he showed such distinction that he was rapidly promoted.

In 1861 Osman skillfully dealt with the Cretan rebels and the Yemen troubles in 1864. He returned from Yemen bearing the title of "pasha". He was then assigned as the military commander of the İşkodra (Shkodërmarker) region and of Bosnia. Because of his success in quelling the Bulgarian rebellion of 1876, he was raised to the rank of field marshal (musir).

Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)

After the Russo-Turkish War was declared (24 April), Russian troops under the command of the Czar's brother Nicholas marched south toward the Danube. The only well-manned Ottoman fortress opposing them was at Vidinmarker, where Osman’s forces were garrisoned having just defeated the Serbs.

While Osman's forces were in Vidinmarker, his erstwhile commander Suleiman Pasha was on the Montenegromarker border, and Abdülkerim Pasha, the other divisional commander, was in Greece. There were only 186,000 Ottoman troops in the Balkans, of which Osman had less than 20,000. When the Russians crossed the Danube and invaded Bulgaria at Svishtovmarker in July, the Turkish high command sent Osman to reinforce the city of Nikopolmarker. Before Osman could reach Nikopol, the Russian vanguard had taken the city in the Battle of Nikopolmarker (16 July) and Osman settled on Plevenmarker to the south. Pleven was a more strategic location being the center of transport and communication lines in northern Bulgaria. Osman started by ordering trenches dug around the city. These trenches are considered an early example of modern bastion defensive works. He literally took his artillery and men under the ground. While Osman was still constructing these fortifications, the Russian forces began to arrive (19 July). However, the Russians were used to warfare in open territory, and sent columns of infantry to directly attack the fortifications. Osman’s defence repelled two Russian attacks with huge casualties on the Russian side. Most analysts agree that a counter-attack at this point would have allowed the Turks to gain control and destroy the bridge at Svishtov. However, Osman had explicit orders to stay fortified in Pleven, and so did not take advantage of the opportunity.

The Russians continued to bring troops across the Danube, including a Romanian contingent; while Osman was only reinforced by the troops retreating from the Battle of Lovcha which had cut the Ottoman supply lines.

The death-toll was high in the trenches as well as among the Russians. The city of Pleven itself partially burned from artillery fire. Indeed, as time passed, starvation began in Pleven and munitions were running out. With no help coming from the outside, and Suleyman Pasha's attempts to open a breach for the Ottoman forces in the key Shipka Passmarker of the Balkan Mountainsmarker having failed several times, Osman finally decided in October to end the siege and retreat. Osman requested permission to abandon Pleven, but the Ottoman high command refused him (24 October). After another month, with supplies exhausted, Osman finally made an attempt to breakout from the Russian siege, together with the civilian Turkish population of the city (9 December). The siege had lasted 145 days (about five months).
Osman Pasha's tomb
Osman managed to cross the Vit Rivermarker, and attacking along a 2-mile front broke through the first line of the Russian trenches. However, the Russians turned their artillery and the Ottomans were driven back. Osman himself was wounded in the left leg by a splinter of an artillery shell and was taken to a mill where his injury was bandaged. The next day two Romanian officers came to the mill and requested his "unconditional surrender". Osman surrendered his sword to the Romanian colonel Mihail Cerchez, who nevertheless refused to accept it waiting for orders from the commander of the Romanian expeditionary corp - the Romanian prince Carol I. Osman and his aide-de-camp Talat Bey were being taken back to Pleven city in a cart when they came across Russian commander, Grand Duke Nicholas, on the way. Grand Duke Nicholas said to Osman Pasha: "I congratulate you for your success in defending Pleven. This defense is one of the brightest military occurrences in defensive history." The next day when Osman was taken before Czar Alexander II he was asked why he had not surrendered sooner. Osman replied: "My state gave those weapons to me for fighting, not to drop them at the sight of the enemy. They sent me here to fight." The Czar returned Osman’s sword as a mark of esteem.

Fifteen days later, the Russians took Osman to Harkovmarker where he remained in captivity for the duration of the war. Upon Osman’s return to Istanbulmarker, he was acclaimed by large crowds. Soon afterwards, Sultan Abdul Hamid II appointed him as Marshal of the Palace. Osman wrote a book about the Siege of Pleven entitled Défense de Plevna, d'après les documents réunis par Mouzaffer Pasha et Taalet Bey (Paris, 1889).

Aftermath

Over the next 20 years Osman Pasha served the Ottoman Empire four times as the Minister of War. He died on 5 April 1900 at the age of 67. He was buried in the garden of the Fatih Mosque as he had requested. An Ottoman military anthem, Mehter Marşı, called Osman Paşa Marşı was composed for his achievements during the Russo-Turkish War.

Gaziosmanpaşamarker, a district in Istanbulmarker is named after Osman Pasha.

Notes

  1. Kremnitz, Mite (1899) Reminiscences of the King of Roumania Harper & Bros., New York, pp. 293–294;
  2. Hozier, Henry Montague (1879) The Russo-Turkish War: including an account of the rise and decline of the Ottoman power and history of the Eastern Question W. Mackenzie, London, p. 722;


References

  • Parry Melanie (ed.) (1997) "Osman Nuri Pasha" Chambers Biographical Dictionary (6th ed.) Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, New York, ISBN 0-550-16060-4 ;
  • Dupuy, Trevor N.; Johnson, Curt; and Bongard, David L. (1992) "Osman Nuri Pasha" The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography HarperCollins Publishers, New York, ISBN 0-06-270015-4 ;
  • Hülagü, M. Metin (1993) Gazi Osman Paşa, 1833–1900: askeri ve siyasi hayatı Boğaziçi Yayınları, Istanbul, ISBN 9754510946 ;
  • Yenice, İhsan and Fidan, Raşit (2001) Plevne kahramanı Gazi Osman Paşa, 1833–1900 Gaziosmanpaşa Belediyesi Kültür Yayınları, İstanbul, ISBN none;
  • Uçar, Nail (1978) Gazi Osman Paşa ve Plevne Orkun Yayınevi, Istanbul, ISBN none;
  • Herbert, Frederick William von (1895) The Defence of Plevna: 1877. Written by One who took part in it Longmans, Green, and Co., London; reprinted 1990 by Ministry of Culture, Ankara, ISBN 9751706041 ;


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