by Mitch on March 15, 2013 1 Comment

Royal Horse Artillery fleeing Afghan attack in the battle of Maiwand, Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1880. 

From the British perspective, Russian plans for territorial expansion toward the south threatened to destroy the ``Pearl of the Empire,'' India. When Russian troops set out to subdue khanate after khanate, British observers expressed concern that Afghanistan might become the base for a Russian advance into India. The British therefore initiated the First Anglo-Afghan War (1838-1842), in which Britain tried to impose a puppet regime in Afghanistan. Both sides suffered heavy losses, and the attempt to annex Afghanistan to British India failed. Instead, rival Afghan tribes join forces to fight the British, and Dost Mohammad returned to the throne in 1843.


Dost Muhammad expanded Afghan territory by adding Balkh and Baldakhshan in 1855 and Heart in 1863. Nevertheless, Russia continued to advance steadily toward Afghanistan, formally annexing Tashkent in 1865 and Samarkand in 1868. Although ...

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Sino-Mongolian War

by Mitch on August 19, 2012 0 Comments

The Sino-Mongolian War of 1913 ended inconclusively, with the Mongolian army forced to withdraw from Inner Mongolia by Russian pressure. After the 1911 RESTORATION of Mongolian independence, eventually 35 of the 49 banners (appanages) of Inner Mongolia expressed some form of support. On August 20, 1912, after receiving arms from the Mongolian government, the eastern Inner Mongolian Prince Utai (c. 1859–1920) of KHORCHIN Right-Flank Front Banner (Horqin Youyi Qianqi) attacked Chinese towns in Jirim territory but by September 12 had retreated in disorder to Outer Mongolian territory. Togtakhu Taiji’s simultaneous attack on Chinese towns was also defeated.


After receiving a promise of immediate supply of Russian arms and trainers in January 1913, the Mongolian government on January 23 ordered the neighboring Inner Mongolian SHILIIN GOL and ULAANCHAB leagues to mobilize 2,000 troops, and in February the commanders set out from Khüriye (ULAANBAATAR). In summer 1913 the troops ...

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Iwao Oyama, (1842–1916)

by Mitch on April 2, 2012 0 Comments

General Ōyama Iwao during the Russo-Japanese War

A Japanese soldier and hero of the Meiji period, Oyama was born into a samurai family and served in the Boshin War of 1868–1969, which overthrew the Tokugawa Shōgunate, and also in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. In the interim he attended the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in France and witnessed France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War; he also studied foreign languages in Geneva and achieved fluency in Russian. After promotion to major general, Oyama was a key figure in the establishment of the Imperial Japanese Army that routed the Satsuma rebels. He commanded the Second Army in the Sino-Japanese War and captured Port Arthur and the fortress of Weihaiwei. Oyama was promoted to the rank of field marshal and, as chief of general staff in 1904, appealed successfully to the emperor for permission to go to war against Russia ...

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Siege of Port Arthur, (1904–1905)

by Mitch on December 17, 2011 0 Comments

Port Arthur

Port Arthur is the former name of the port city of Lüshun at the tip of China’s Liaodong Peninsula in Liaoning Province, approximately 30 kilometers south of the city of Dalian. Port Arthur takes its name from Royal Navy Lieutenant William C. Arthur, who briefly occupied the harbor in 1858. Port Arthur’s natural harbor and strategic position, commanding the northern Yellow and Bohai Seas, resulted in its fortification in the 1880s by Qing China and its choice as headquarters for the developing Beiyang Fleet. The port played a major role in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 when it was captured by Japanese troops after a short siege. On the strength of its peace settlement with China in 1895, Japan briefly occupied the city along with the Liaodong Peninsula yet was forced to withdraw in response to the Triple Intervention of Russia, France, and Germany. In 1898 ...

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Annexation Crisis (1908–1909)

by Mitch on December 4, 2011 0 Comments

Ferdinand I of Bulgaria. On 5 October 1908 (celebrated on 22 September), Ferdinand proclaimed Bulgaria's de jure independence from the Ottoman Empire (though the country had been basically independent since 1878). He also elevated Bulgaria to the status of a kingdom, and proclaimed himself tsar, or king. The Bulgarian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed by him at the Saint Forty Martyrs Church in Turnovo. It was accepted by Turkey and the other European powers

A diplomatic crisis occasioned by Austria-Hungary’s formal annexation of the Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzogovina that heightened Great Power tensions in the decade before the outbreak of World War I. The Congress of Berlin in 1878 authorized Austria-Hungary to occupy and administer Bosnia-Herzegovina, but officially the territory remained part of the Ottoman Empire. Supervised by a department within the common ministry of finance in Vienna, the administration was run by Austro-Hungarian civil servants ...

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Andijan Revolt (1898)

by Mitch on December 4, 2011 0 Comments

Andijan, Usbekistan - still on the boil 2005

A major revolt of Islamic peoples against Russian rule in 1898 in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan on the upper Syr Darya River. The rebellion was planned and led by the Naqshbandi Sufi leader Madali Ishan. It was unsuccessful. Madali Ishan led approximately 2,000 followers in an attack on the Russian barracks, an action he envisioned as part of a ghazawat or jihad against the Russian imperial administration in Turkestan. His followers were not well armed, carrying only cudgels and knives against Russian fi rearms. The attack resulted in the deaths of 22 Russians and 11 rebels before being defeated. In all, 24 rebels were later hanged and over 300 were sent to Siberia. The revolt caused serious concerns for the Russians and forced them to reexamine their administration in the Ferghana Valley. Andijan had been annexed by the Khokand khanate ...

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Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire, 1804-1867.

by Mitch on June 30, 2011 0 Comments

Ilya Vinkovetsky. Russian America: An Overseas Colony of a Continental Empire, 1804-1867. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 272 pp. $49.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-539128-2.

Reviewed by Matthew Romaniello (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Published on H-Empire (June, 2011)
Commissioned by Charles V. Reed

Meeting Russia’s American Frontier

Scholarly interest in Russia’s American colonies has been enjoying an academic renaissance in the past decade. Beginning with the Meeting of Frontiers exhibit at the Library of Congress, there has been a revival of interest in Alaska as a Russian frontier. Ilya Vinkovetsky’s book follows several others in the past three years from Western academic presses.[1] The subject has been of no less interest in Russia, though the results have been intended for a more popular audience.[2] 

Despite the flourishing interest, the Russian American outposts have been relatively understudied, and have yet to be incorporated successfully into American ...

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by Mitch on March 24, 2011 0 Comments

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)by Peter Hopkirk

The borders of the Russian imperial territories of Khiva, Bukhara and Kokand in the time period of 1902-1903.


Perhaps an even greater concern for nineteenth-century British India than threats to the Suez Canal route was the perceived continental ambition in Central Asia of Britain’s other great European rival: imperial Russia. The landlocked Herat proved much more difficult to control than the more southern maritime frontiers in the Indian Ocean. War, diplomatic intrigue, and political posturing with Russia over this region ensued through most of the nineteenth century.


Known as the ‘‘Great Game,’’ perhaps exemplified most famously in British author Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim (1900), this century of conflict centered to a great extent on British efforts to unite and secure Afghanistan against rival Persian and Russian claims. Its first attempt came in the ...

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Akhal Tekin [Akhal-Tekke] Campaign

by Mitch on February 25, 2011 0 Comments

Nikolai Dmitriev-Orenburgsky. General Skobelev on the Horse (1883) He returned to Turkestan after the war, and in 1880 and 1881 further distinguished himself by retrieving the disasters inflicted by the Tekke Turkomans: following Siege of Geoktepe he captured the city, and, after much slaughter, reduced the Akhal-Tekke country to submission. He was advancing on Ashkhabad and Kalat i-Nadiri when he was disavowed and recalled. He was given the command at Minsk. During a campaign in Khiva, his Turkmen opponents called him goz zanli or "Bloody Eyes".

Turkmen soldiers

In 1880, Russian seamen participated in General Mikhail Skobelev's Akhal Tekin Campaign. Commander Makarov commanded the naval forces and supplied Russian troops in the Caspian Sea with provisions and ammunition.


In 1867, Russia established Konstantin Petrovich Kaufman as governor-general in Turkestan, with his capital at Tashkent. By 1868, he had taken Samarkand and established Bukhara and Kokand alike as Russian protectorates ...

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by Mitch on February 3, 2011 0 Comments

2nd/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, North-West Frontier 1923

The Treaty of Rawalpindi in August 1919, ending the Third Afghan War and restoring Afghanistan’s control of its foreign relations, opened a new chapter in relations between Afghanistan and India. To the government of India, Afghanistan was a pathway for a Soviet advance and subversion, or a source of instability from internal unrest or actions by Kabul or tribal or religious leaders who could exploit the cross-border sympathies of the Pathan population. To Indian nationalists, Afghanistan provided an attractive destination, whether Deobandi-educated Muslim clergy, Communists enroute to Moscow, or deserting soldiers. Indian and Afghan nationalism developed many links. Extensive ties of culture and commerce between Afghanistan and India included the Hindu and Sikh minorities in Afghanistan, while Afghan traders were long established throughout India.


The accession to the Afghan throne of the anti-British modernizing nationalist Amanullah Shah in 1919 ended Afghanistan ...

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