Liberation of the town of Elena

    It is known that as in the record of any war and the Russo-Turkish year (from 1877 to1878), there are together with the most illustrious battles and victories (as the passage of the Danube at Svishtov, the epic Shipka, the fighting by Stara Zagora, the siege of Pleven, the winter crossings of the Balkan), and some of smaller-scale and glory battles that played an important, even crucial role for the outcome of the war.Such is the heroic battle in November-December 1977 year, which took place by the village of Maryan and by the town of Elena.

    "I'm afraid - wrote the English correspondent of the newspaper "The Times ", that another story I would have to describe, if the Turkish army wasn`t stopped in Elena. It is mportant and essential that they didn`t allow Suleiman Pasha to get on the same day at Sveta Gora (Tarnovo), from where Pleven was at a distance of only 120 km. "

    For the failure in the war Suleiman Pasha was sentenced to 16 years in prison and on the accusation that there were even no "least good" of victory in Elena and this became a "reason for the capitulation of Pleven army."

    People from Elena region enthusiastically welcomed the liberators and were ready to help them with everything for the liberation from the Ottoman Empire.Prominent people from the town of Elena took part in the liberating march of the Russian army.Petko Vassilev Gorbanov, the first Bulgarian student at Robert College in Istanbul and the first Bulgarian teacher in it, in the eve of the war gathered detailed information needed for the Russian army necessary for its actions south of the Danube.The Russian command accepted his proposal, to cross the Danube at Zimnich- Svishtov.

    Stefan Bobchev on July 29, reported the Russian command that avant garde of the enemy forces numbering 20,000 soldiers focussed from village of Korten to Nova Zagora. In the Russian army to act as interpreters journalists and correspondents of newspapers and agencies were:Petko Gorbanov- the French News Agency "Hawass” and correspondent of the Russian newspaper" Golos ", his brother Peter Gorbanov also a graduate of Robert kolezh- the French newspaper" Tan "and the British" Times ", Petko Popnikolov, left as a student at the Polytechnic Tsyurih- the British newspaper" Daily News ", the American journalist McGahan.

     As interpreters in Russian parts acted: Nicolas Momtchilov, son of the founder of the Elena`s class school – Daskalolivnitsa in Elena`s squad, Milan Kanchev Milanov in Division II in Lyaskovetz, Nikola Popstefanov- in VII Kingburski Col., Ivan Karshovski- in Dobrudzha. The Russian army is doctor - Dr. Yordan Bradel.There were killed five volunteers: in fightings by Stara Zagora - Ivan Stoykov and Sava Ignatov from Kostel, by Shipka- Ivan Stoyanov from Elena and by the village Zeleno darvo, Gabrovo area - Ivan Ivanov and Ivan Tsonev from Elena.

    In early July 1877 took place the Russian civil government headed by the Russian officer Konstantin Rudanovski and mayor Yordan Todorov Hadzhipetkov, father of writer P. Todorov.

    Panayot Hitov called the "Bulgarian Garibaldi", won the trust of the Russian command and with the aid of local activists managed to form the following detachments:

    1. Detachment consisting of 55 men under the command of Yurdan Nenchova located from Chereshov dyal neighborhood to Krinkovtsi neighborhood;

    2. Detachment consisting of 120 men under the command of Doncho Koev located from Mayan village to Miikovtsi village;

    3. Detachment consisting of 100 men located from Miikovtsi village to Papratliva.
    Panayot Hitov himself with a detachment of 30 men actively worked on the forming of new detachments. The colonel Lermontov, nephew of the great Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov, when describing the actions of mid-July, highlighted the existence of two detachments at that time: one detachment guided by Grandfather Zhelju and one by Hristo Nikolov (Sarandito). By the autumn two other detachments were formed under the command of the Russian NCO Pavlyuk and Hristo Dzhulov. The detachment of Grandfather Zhelju occupied the height Karaborun, and Pavlyuk – the area near Novachkinskata position. At the end of 1877 detachments united under the leadership of Panayot Hitov and Grandfather Zhelju, composed one detachment consisting of more than 1000 men. In the eve of the 1878 combined detachment acted together with Elena-Kotel squad.

    The second important aspect to help the liberators is the job done by the population for strengthening the positions and construction of the road Elena - Maryan.For the defense of the town of Elena the population was assisted while preparing the three main positions: frontal - east of Elena; by Maryan village; and southeast, near Novachkini.

    Voluntarily were made ​​tens of kilometers trenches, roads and other facilities. It helped for the strengthening of the position which was taken by 34 Sevski Regiment between Novachkini Buynovtsi village and was prepared a defensive position by Yakovtsi village. Very impressing was women's labor when working on the road. Regarding food aid, the generosity of ordinary people is unsurpassed. Constant care is the provision of housing for Russian troops.

    Undoubtedly the most decisive battle was the one by the town of Elena- the key for Tarnovo and the besieged Pleven, and hence for the whole course of hostilities. The whole Elena detachment consisted of about 5 000 men with 28 guns and the detachment of Suleiman Pasha located on the way Kotel - Elena amounted to 25,000 regular troops, 5000 Bashi and Circassians, with 40 guns.Despite its number the Russian troops showed extraordinary heroism. With the cost of heavy losses - 1800 people and 56 officers Elena squad under the command of Major General Dabrowski prevented the entry of Suleiman Pasha in Tarnovo and the assistance to Osman Pasha at the most critical moment.
   The battle for Elena on December 4, 1877 began at 6:30 to 7:00 P.M. on the front Maryanska position and ended late in the afternoon west of the town of Elena. The battle continued more than 8 hours.Perhaps this battle is considered by historians only one episode of the lasting eight months Russo-Turkish War and the majority of researches on the war do not pay much attention. But the fact is that only five days after the battle of fallen Elena and Pleven, the war went to its logical outcome.

    The very truth of Bulgarian participation in our liberation contains in the evaluations of two commanders of the two fighting countries: Suleiman Pasha and Colonel Parensov, the first minister of defense after the liberation.The first says: "The enemy had at his disposal many tools. Above all, he had the Bulgarians. Not a single Bulgarian wanted to serve me. "The second says: "Bulgarians heavily sought to help us with everything they could, and at the same time completely unselfishly."
   Once received their freedom at the cost of much suffering and sacrifice on the part of the Russian brothers liberators the population of Elena preserved in their hearts most sincere love and deep gratitude to the Russian people.To immortalize the memory of those Russian soldiers and officers who died for our freedom the grateful people of Elena had built 11 monuments - symbols of the great sacrifice of the Russian people for the freedom of the enslaved Bulgarian people, west of Elena, the area under Chukani neighborhood, by Gorni Maryan, on Maryanska grove, in the village of Constantine, village of Kostel, Zlatarica, Karaorman and Mindya village.

    Every year on 5th December, declared a local holiday, the people of Elena and Elena region go en masse to worship at these monuments and give deserved tribute to Russian heroes who shed their blood for our freedom.This act keeps in people's memory alive the memory of the brave sons of Russia, who sacrificed their life for the freedom of Bulgaria.