[Footnote 180: War Correspondence, vol. i. pp. 131-132.]
[Footnote 181: War Correspondence, p. 82.]
[Footnote 182: Ibid. p. 390.]
On August 31, Osman Pasha had made a sortie against the besiegers, in which he was eventually repulsed with heavy loss, and then it was that under the new command a fresh attack on Plevna was decided upon. In order, however, to understand the events which followed, and the part taken therein by the Roumanians, it is necessary that we should briefly describe the position and constitution of the forces engaged, and refer to the operations which preceded the assault.
[Illustration: DEFENCES OF PLEVNA.]
The scene of the long-continued struggle is an undulating country, and Plevna, the centre of attack and defence, is in the hollow of a valley running in a northerly and southerly direction. The ground adjacent to this valley was described by one of the war correspondents as consisting of great solid waves with their faces set edgeways to the valley of Plevna. To describe it in detail here would be impossible, but the positions of the attacking and defending armies were very simple. The Turkish positions were, roughly speaking, ’a horseshoe, with its convexity pointing east, and the town of Plevna standing about the centre of the base.’ Another writer compares it to ’a reaping-hook, with the point opposite Bukova, the middle of the curve opposite Grivica, the junction of the handle close on to Plevna, and the end of the handle at Krishine.’
The Russians had been surrounding this horseshoe, leaving the base open, and the form of their attack on this occasion was in the line of their environment straight to their front. The main point of interest in the struggle, so far as we are concerned, is the Turkish redoubt of Grivica or Grivitza, the strongest of all the positions of defence: this was situated on the toe, if we may so call it, of the horseshoe, and directly opposite was the Russo-Roumanian centre.
The Russo-Roumanian army numbered about 80,000 infantry, of whom 28,000 were Roumanians, in two corps, under Colonels George and Alexander Angelescu, and 10,000 cavalry, whereof 4,000 were Roumanians. The whole Roumanian division was commanded by General Cernat; the Russians by Baron Kruedener, General Kriloff, Prince Meretinsky, and the brave but erratic General Skobeleff; and this army of 90,000 men was provided with 250 field and 20 siege guns. The number of the defenders under Osman Pasha is estimated at about 70,000 men.