The Greek volunteers in the Crimean War

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Maria N. Todorova


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 historiés 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
évolution of Russia’s Balkan policy. With the exception of Chrisovergi’s
History of the Greek Legion (Odessa, 1887-8), a bibliographical rarety and
more an apologia of the author’s own activities than a systematic history of
the légion, the Balkan volunteers in the Crimean war hâve been forgottén 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This paper is based exclusively on unpublished documentary material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 thè end of the war. Through an analysis of several
lists of names, an attempt is made at establishing the social characteristics of
the volunteers.

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