The Greek Volunteers in the Crimean War

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Abstract

The existence of a corps of volunteers from several Balkan nations —Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Wallachians and Moldavians— as part of the Russian army during the Crimean war, though an undeniable fact, is rarely or only incidentally mentioned even in the most voluminous histories of this war. It represents an important episode in the history of the Balkan peoples and at the same time allows interesting conclusions to be drawn about the evolution of Russia’s Balkan policy. With the exception of Chrisovergi’s History of the Greek Legion (Odessa, 1887-8), a bibliographical rarity and more an apologia of the author’s own activities than a systematic history of the legion, the Balkan volunteers in the Crimean war have been forgotten both by contemporary and by present-day historians.

This paper is based exclusively on unpublished documentary material from the former Russian Ministries of War and Foreign Affairs kept in three Moscow archives—CGVIA (Central State Archives for Military History), AVPR (Archives for the Foreign Policy of Russia), CGAOR (Central State Archives of the October Revolution). In it the history of the volunteer corps, and especially the Greek volunteers, during the two stages of their activity—the Danubian campaign and the siege of Sebastopol—is followed up. Various questions are examined regarding among others the formation of the corps, its administrative structure, the number of volunteers, military actions, and the fate of the volunteers after the end of the war. Through an analysis of several lists of names, an attempt is made at establishing the social characteristics of the volunteers.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-563
JournalBalkan Studies
Volume25
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1984

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