Ottoman Victory in 1877-78 War - Need Help

I'm writing a TL in which the Ottomans "win" this war.

In OTL, the Russians were very overconfident, and invaded with an insufficient number of troops, and underestimated the quality of the Ottoman army, which was very experienced, and had just totally overhauled its organization and rearmed with weapons considerably superior to the Russians, particularly rifles, the Ottoman Peabody-Martini outranging the Russians about 3-1, and the Ottoman artillery was armed with steel Krupp cannon as opposed to Russian brass guns.

Another factor was that Turkish soldiers in normal life were generally engaged in terraced agriculture, so were adept at digging trenches and took great pride in doing it right, whereas the Russians tended to be pretty sloppy with theirs. Given the nature of the war, the Ottomans were on the defensive, and that plus the factors I've mentioned led to horrendous casualties on the part of the Russians (more than 4-1 against them), and caused their offensive to screech to a halt at Plevna. After four successive and bloody failures to take the city, Russian morale was at a low, Russian securities had crashed on global markets, making financing for the war unavailable.

In the Ottoman negative column, the army was deployed to deal with insurrection in Bosnia and against Serbia and Montenegro, the former of which had been badly beaten in a rashly declared war. More importantly, at the center there had just been a coup which left the government a bit adrift, as Sultan Abdul Aziz had been replaced by his nephew Murad V, who turned out to be too unstable to rule, leading to his replacement with Abdul Hamid II, still too weak on the throne to exert decisive influence.

Worst of all, the experienced War Minister, Huseyin Avni Pasha, had been assassinated, leaving an 80-something Pasha in charge in Bulgaria, who did pretty much nothing to hinder the Russians, holding back in the fortified areas of Western Bulgaria.

The Russians counted on greater unity of command to win, which paid off.

After being checked at Plevna, large numbers of additional troops were mobilized, dangerously stripping the defenses on the Western borders, and even then, it was a pretty close thing - the audacity of offensive in the Winter through the Balkan mountains threw the Ottomans off-balance and allowed them victory.

In my TL, the War Minister is not assassinated, allowing more intelligent direction of the army, resulting in Russian failure to defeat the Ottomans. In particular, this would mean blowing up the rail bridge near Galatz, organizing opposition to Russian landings across the Danube, and using the army used in Bosnia and Serbia to join up with the main army in Bulgaria (historically the general in command wasted it on frontal assaults against the Russians in the Shipka Pass).

Where I need help is in determining what would happen next. My thoughts:

1. The Powers will step in to resolve the conflict. There will be a settlement that will try to impose as much European control over the Ottomans as possible and provide the Russians with a figleaf to get out.

2. This will include absolute independence for Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro, some sort of financial arrangement to deal with the Ottoman debt, and will probably try to get territory for at least Montenegro - I think the Ottomans can probably sucessfully fend that off. The Powers will also demand supervised reforms in the Balkans - the Ottomans can probably weasel out of most of that as well.

3. I think the Powers will not think any more highly of Ottoman capabilities, but rather lower their estimates of the Russian military. Nevertheless, this will buy the Ottomans very valuable breathing room to continue reform efforts with much less hindrance from without than in OTL.

4. The Russians are in deep doo-doo. Pan-Slavism is dead, Russian prestie in the Balkans is shattered, and the shock of losing a war to the Ottomans ought to shake the foundations of the Russian polity.

***

The question is, how big an effect will this have on Russia? Could it cause revolt or even revolution? Could the Tsar lose his throne and life? What impact would it have on Russian policy? Would they continue expansion into Central Asia to try to regain prestige, or give up expansion for the time being?

I would appreciate your thoughts.
 
Well speaking from the Ottoman side, the reformers will have gained much prestige from the victory, which should make the young turks' jobs easier later on, especially when it matters most. Russia is screwed, think about the level of revolt that is going to happen when the peasantry can not even look to the government to support the Slavs in under muslim 'oppression'. The Balkans will be a new game and Serbia will not be able or trust enough to turn to Russia for help. This might Butterfly WW1.

The Ottomans might even be able to survive until even later than OTL, especially without the Balkan wars or WW1.
 
4. The Russians are in deep doo-doo. Pan-Slavism is dead, Russian prestie in the Balkans is shattered, and the shock of losing a war to the Ottomans ought to shake the foundations of the Russian polity.

***

The question is, how big an effect will this have on Russia? Could it cause revolt or even revolution? Could the Tsar lose his throne and life? What impact would it have on Russian policy? Would they continue expansion into Central Asia to try to regain prestige, or give up expansion for the time being?

I would appreciate your thoughts.
Hrmm. IMO it's too early for a *1905*, and the Tsar is pretty popular. this is Alexander II, after all. It could go a lot of ways. The Poles trying something could be in the cards, and if you combine this with the death of the Tsar...

Lots of Poles die, and that's it, IMO.

Hrm.
 
Well speaking from the Ottoman side, the reformers will have gained much prestige from the victory, which should make the young turks' jobs easier later on, especially when it matters most. Russia is screwed, think about the level of revolt that is going to happen when the peasantry can not even look to the government to support the Slavs in under muslim 'oppression'. The Balkans will be a new game and Serbia will not be able or trust enough to turn to Russia for help. This might Butterfly WW1.

The Ottomans might even be able to survive until even later than OTL, especially without the Balkan wars or WW1.
Who's to say the Young Turks will ever get in power in this situation? Much of their rise came out of the steady loss of non-Turkish territories in Europe. Or should that be non-"Turkish"?
 

Susano

Banned
Pan-Slavism dead? That seems like an overly optimistic estimation... sure, its a setback, but it doesnt discredit the ideology, merely its, ah, execution.

Also, first you write the Great Powers will intervene, but then that the Ottomans could "fend off" or "weasel out of" most demands. Hm. Could they really, if the Great Powers intervene?
 
Pan-Slavism dead? That seems like an overly optimistic estimation... sure, its a setback, but it doesnt discredit the ideology, merely its, ah, execution.

Also, first you write the Great Powers will intervene, but then that the Ottomans could "fend off" or "weasel out of" most demands. Hm. Could they really, if the Great Powers intervene?
No. But they would likely negotiate the best deal possible, then passive-aggressively sabotage or ignore harmful portions. They were able to do this in many regards even in OTL - as were the Balkan States. For instance, the newly independent countries were supposed to assume a proportionate share of the Ottoman debt - didn't happen. Rumania was required to emancipate the Jews as a condition of independence. Also didn't happen. Bismarck for a time withheld German recognition, but only as a ploy to achieve a totally different objective. The Ottomans were supposed to carry out "refoms" in "Armenia" (i.e. hand the provinces over to Christians), but managed to squirm out of that. When it comes down to it, the Powers will only care about what is in their interests. An empire that managed to defeat Russia will be weighed differently in the Balance of Power, and I think relations with the empire will be considered more important than the level of autonomy of Bosnian Christians, for example.

I think the types of demands likely to be made are going to be face-saving. For instance, a commission to review administrative practices in the Balkans and write a report on required reforms. Abdul Hamid was very determined to settle the debt issue, and that happened in OTL, and was the main issue of concern to everyone in any case. There are positives and negatives here as well. On the one hand the continued unity of the empire is in the interests of Western bondholders, but on the other hand, they tended to resist financial reform as inefficient tax collection reliably delivered to them was preferable to the risk of a reformed system.

With regard to Pan-Slavism, I don't think all forms of Slavic nationalism are out, but as a universal movement led by Russia, it would be over. More likely local movements would still be around, like South Slav nationalism, but that is easier to deal with and is even a source of potential cooperation - and conflict - between the Ottomans and Hapsburgs.
 
Who's to say the Young Turks will ever get in power in this situation? Much of their rise came out of the steady loss of non-Turkish territories in Europe. Or should that be non-"Turkish"?
Actually much of their rise came out of the loss of "Turkish" territories in Europe. But also, they were a reaction against the despotism of Abdul Hamid II. Also, youthful revolutionaries tend to take absolutist stances and fail to understand the practicalities of governance and diplomatic maneuvering, especially in the empire's very weak position.

For example, the Young Turks were very hostile to Abdul Hamid's grant of economic concessions to Western businesses on terms very favorable to Western companies - but when they were in power they understood that it was the only way to develop the empire, and their deals were worse than his.

Abdul Hamid prorogued parliament and ended liberal-democratic reform at the center (but not in the provinces), partly because he felt the empire was in such a critical position that it needed a steady hand, and partly due to Russian pressure (the Russians were incredibly against liberal-democratic trends in the Ottoman Empire because it left them as the only autocracy in Europe). In this TL, I'm not sure he would be in a position, or even have the desire, to do this. That would mean no Young Turks, but it would also lead to lots of other problems.
 
Is there anyway the Ottomans could find a way to retain control of Serbia at this late a date, since an independent Serbia destabilises the Balkans and all the negative consequences that follow? What about a Serbia part of the Ottoman Empire but with a large amount of autonomy?
 
Is there anyway the Ottomans could find a way to retain control of Serbia at this late a date, since an independent Serbia destabilises the Balkans and all the negative consequences that follow? What about a Serbia part of the Ottoman Empire but with a large amount of autonomy?
That was already the situation. But maybe they could bring some troops back in, at least temporarily. The Ottomans had garrisons in Serbia until 1867 at Belgrade, Smederevo, Sabac, and Kladovo in the north (and possibly elsewhere, but I can't find anything on it on the net and my original source was a book in a library).

Edit (4 days later): Found it, there were also garrisons at Mali Zvornik in the east and Zajecar in the east..
 
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But then there could be quite some disharmony among the Great Powers - possibly not in this situation another San Stefano but Britain won't mind the Bear getting its fingers slapped.
Of course the Ottomans doesn't need British support in this TL and won't have to let go of Cyprus or Bosnia!

Perhaps there could be a major war in Europe with Britain rejoicing in the Bears humiliation and Austria not getting its price and Bismarck may have to use more than a month to try getting a compromise solution or not! Or at least suffer prestige as arbiter.
 
That was already the situation. But maybe they could bring some troops back in, at least temporarily. The Ottomans had garrisons in Serbia until 1867 at Belgrade, Smederevo, Sabac, and Kladovo in the north (and possibly elsewhere, but I can't find anything on it on the net and my original source was a book in a library).
I seem to recall that by 1877 there were no remaining garrisons and only one Ottoman flag over Serbia, and not in a prominent place.

I think it's virtually impossible that anyone would suggest that Serbia remain under Ottoman sovereignty. I think Russia would dig in its heels over this, and this is an easy issue for the Powers to give them as a "fig leaf".

I don't think there could be any question of reestablishing Ottoman garrisons.

Even in 1897, when the Greeks invaded unprovoked and got utterly crushed, the Powers rewarded Greece with Crete. The Ottomans are not going to press issues like sovereignty over Serbia.
 
Hmm, could it possible that the Tanzimat would still continue?
By 1877 a new generation of reformers were in office, that tended to have a different emphasis than the older Tanzimat statesmen. They were called the "Young Ottomans" and their program differed in that they thought that Western ideas and insitutions needed to be adapted to the existing culture rather than adopted uncritically as the older Tanzimat men had.

So while the basic principles of the Tanzimat are still continuing, even today, it would probably not fall under that name.
 
By 1877 a new generation of reformers were in office, that tended to have a different emphasis than the older Tanzimat statesmen. They were called the "Young Ottomans" and their program differed in that they thought that Western ideas and insitutions needed to be adapted to the existing culture rather than adopted uncritically as the older Tanzimat men had.
That's interesting. So a different version of the Tanzimat, then, right?
 
Who's to say the Russians under Alexander III don't just rebuild their shattered armies and try again a decade or two later? I fail to see an Ottoman victory dissuading the Russians from giving up one of their main Foreign policy goals which was the seizure of Constantinople.
 
Who's to say the Russians under Alexander III don't just rebuild their shattered armies and try again a decade or two later? I fail to see an Ottoman victory dissuading the Russians from giving up one of their main Foreign policy goals which was the seizure of Constantinople.
They might well do that, although they did better in OTL than in TTL and they didn't try again.

(unless you count WWI)
 
I concur with Faeelin's arguments that this will not produce an early 1905.

I do not see slavophila as "dead" either. "Hamstrung" is a more accurate description. The appropriate questions are is Alexander II assassinated on schedule or is there a butterfly effect? Assuming that he is then the next question is what does Alexander III do? I strongly believe he would fantasize about a rematch. He was an important general in the failed war so his personal prestige needs redemption. In OTL he wanted to reform the Russian military here his resolve would be doubled and he would encounter less resistance from the embarassed military bureaucracy. till he may not live to see his ambition fulfilled possibly due to financial restraints or perhaps a lack of causus belli. I would see the latter as an argument why the Ottomans will have only a limited leeway to hedge, weasel and and obfuscate.

If there is a good reason that the rematch does not occur before Alexander III dies then the danger to the Ottomans will be greatly reduced as I would see Slavophilia given lip service but otherwise suffering neglect under Nicholas II and soon slipping into a coma.

Getting back to Alexander III with no clear betrayal by Bismarck at the Congress of Berlin confirming Alexander's suspicions about Germany we would see less of a deterioration of relations between Germany and Russia. Furthermore the perceived weakness of Russia woul cause the United Kingdom to see it as less of a threat.
 
Who's to say the Russians under Alexander III don't just rebuild their shattered armies and try again a decade or two later? I fail to see an Ottoman victory dissuading the Russians from giving up one of their main Foreign policy goals which was the seizure of Constantinople.
The cost of the victory in OTL was so high, in human, financial, and diplomatic terms, for a relatively small payoff (scraps of territory and a very difficult Bulgaria) that nothing was attempted again.

The other factor is that the attack was only possible in the first place because the Franco-Prussian War had temporarily effectively eliminated France as a Power, opening the way for Russia to abandon the Crimean settlement and have its way.

Also, a decade or two later and not only will the Ottomans be all that more proportionately tougher, Germany will be looming as well. Once Bismarck is out and Wilhelm in, I don't see the Russians trying anything. If anything, I would see them moving to improve relations with the Ottomans to try to obtain predominant influence in Istanbul.

There's always lots of talk about seizing Constantinople, but the Russians never, not once, attempted it. It just wasn't an important policy goal. It was one of those things where if there were some opportunity to take it, they probably would have, but it was more important to make sure nobody else got it. The Ottomans were aware of all this and maneuvered appropriately.

Another factor here is that with a victory, the Ottomans will be much, much better positioned to deal with the developing crisis in Egypt. That changes a lot of things.
 
I never thought that this would cause a 1905, but was curious if anyone was convinced it would. I personally don't think it would have much impact at all. The Russians were in OTL already in a state of shock at how close it was and the cost, plus at the diplomatic gang-pile that forced them to give up the fruits of their victory (although in the long-term that was better for them, because the monster Bulgaria they had planned would have been a huge problem for them).

I want to make it clear that what I'm taking about is pan-Slavism championed by Russia. Councils were strongly divided even in 1877, with very few senior statesmen pushing a pan-Slavist agenda. People got caught up in the passion of the moment and went with it, but you'll note it for the most part went away after 1878. Actually losing isn't going to swing that in a different direction, and the South Slavs are going to lose their faith in Russia - in a sense, that was the chance, and it passed.

I think that it's more likely that revolutionary minds will be turned to South-Slav nationalism, or perhaps even more tribal nationalisms (i.e. Serb, Croat, Montenegrin, and Bulgarian nationalism).

But when the planned rail network is complete, the Ottomans will have the ability to shuttle their military to trouble spots quickly and avoid messes like 1875.

Most important of all, the Ottomans will retain their ability to factor in the Balance of Power. In OTL, both the British and Russians asssumed Ottoman independence was over, and it all that was to be determined was whether they would be a Russian or British protectorate. They proved wrong even in OTL - in this scenario, I don't think there's any question about Ottoman independence.

I'm too much of a coward to let Alexander II live - that would change so much it's hard to project, and that seems like someone else's TL. It's also easy to excuse because the poor man had someone trying to kill him on nearly a daily basis.

It seems to me, though, that Alexander III did not pursue an expansive policy at all. He reigned in as much as possible even expansion in Central Asia - and I can find no evidence that he dreamed of a rematch with the Ottomans. If anything, his hostility seems to have been reserved for Germany. In any case, don't forget Ottoman agency. There is a capable diplomat on the throne who managed to effectively use his terrible OTL hand to balance Russia and Britain - here he's in a much, much stronger position.

It also seems unlikely to me that there would be another confluence of events that could allow a one-on-one between the Ottomans and Russia...

If nothing else, in OTL the Russians murdered the entire Ottoman army through winter death marches - in this ATL they retain 200,000 or so rather elite troops as the basis for further modernization rather than having to start from scratch.

I concur with Faeelin's arguments that this will not produce an early 1905.

I do not see slavophila as "dead" either. "Hamstrung" is a more accurate description. The appropriate questions are is Alexander II assassinated on schedule or is there a butterfly effect? Assuming that he is then the next question is what does Alexander III do? I strongly believe he would fantasize about a rematch. He was an important general in the failed war so his personal prestige needs redemption. In OTL he wanted to reform the Russian military here his resolve would be doubled and he would encounter less resistance from the embarassed military bureaucracy. till he may not live to see his ambition fulfilled possibly due to financial restraints or perhaps a lack of causus belli. I would see the latter as an argument why the Ottomans will have only a limited leeway to hedge, weasel and and obfuscate.

If there is a good reason that the rematch does not occur before Alexander III dies then the danger to the Ottomans will be greatly reduced as I would see Slavophilia given lip service but otherwise suffering neglect under Nicholas II and soon slipping into a coma.

Getting back to Alexander III with no clear betrayal by Bismarck at the Congress of Berlin confirming Alexander's suspicions about Germany we would see less of a deterioration of relations between Germany and Russia. Furthermore the perceived weakness of Russia woul cause the United Kingdom to see it as less of a threat.
 

maverick

Banned
I believe that Russia would be the most interesting part of this TL, specially if we butterfly away the assassination of Alexander II and the rule of Nicholas II...

Now, we can of course see Britain as the main interventionist power in the post-war treaty, with France maybe playing a minor role...depending on how they act, this could isolate Russia as the Empire is now perceived as weak, yet so are the Ottomans so the UK tries to impose commercial and political terms upon the Porte...

We've established that a military reform would of course follow the Russian defeat, and I'll go even further and say that the Russian nationalists will use the war to further their pan-slavist cause with mottos such as "Remember '78" or "Remember Plevna"...

Russo-German relations are of course of great importance, depending on whether the Russians are isolated or not after the Great power intervention in the post-war treaties...the Russians of course need foreign help once they decide to modernize their army, and a continuation of the 'Dreikaiserbund' and even an expansion of that alliance could be a possibility...a very troublesome scenario for Turkey...

By the 1880s or 1890s we could have a resurgent Russia allied to Germany, a Second Reich not threatened by an eastern front, an overconfident Turkey and an European continent that thinks that Russia is weaker than it really is...ironically, this could lead to just an alternate and even earlier end of the Ottoman Empire...but then again, I like Irony way too much...

This of course depends on the attitude the British take when the meddle with the peace process in 1879, and they will get their noses in...and the attitude Germany takes with the seemingly beaten Russia...

It could go the other way, with Wilhelm
seeing Russia as weak, he might as well end the Reassurance treaty earlier and push for concessions in Poland and the Baltic, although he was more of the type to want a colonial empire in Africa...

Let's say the Germans want to have a hand in the modernization of the Ottoman Army....I think they helped the Japanese after the French and before Wilhelm took over and became insane...thus creating an earlier German-Ottoman alliance, which would be interesting...
 
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