The Lion of Tashkent: The Career of General M. G. Cherniaev

The Lion of Tashkent: The Career of General M. G. Cherniaev

The Lion of Tashkent: The Career of General M. G. Cherniaev

The Lion of Tashkent: The Career of General M. G. Cherniaev

Excerpt

In the summer of 1876 the name Mikhail Grigorevich Cherniaev was well-known throughout Russia and the Slav world. As commander of the main Serbian army fighting the Turks, he summoned the Christian peoples of the Balkans to rise against the decaying Ottoman Empire. Millions of Slav Christians hailed Cherniaev as their champion and deliverer, as his forces advanced into Bulgaria. In mid-August in the trenches before the key Serbian fortress of Šumatovac, he personally inspired the Serbs to repel several Turkish assaults. The success of this battle brought him congratulatory telegrams from all over Russia. Even the ultimate defeat of his Serbo- Russian army failed to dispel a romantic aura around his name, identified with Russian efforts to emancipate the South Slavs. Like his contemporary, General Custer, he gained more fame from disaster than others had from victory.

Eleven years earlier with less than two thousand Russians Cherniaev had assaulted Tashkent, Central Asia's greatest city. At dawn on June 15, 1865, disregarding a cautionary telegram from the war minister, he moved against a fortified town manned by thirty thousand Kokanese defenders. Failure would have meant death for the attackers and grave danger to Russia's position on a distant frontier.

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