131 The April Uprising

Despite the failure of the Stara Zagora uprising, Bulgarian revolutionaries see an opportunity to finally throw off Ottoman rule in the Spring of 1876.



Major Characters in this Episode

Hristo Botev

Stefan Stambolov

Todor Peev

Pop Hariton

Nikola Obretenov

Georgi Apostolov

Todor Kableshkov

Panayot Volov

Vasil Petleshkov

Georgi Benkovski

Tusun Bey

Bacho Kiro

Tsanko Dyustabanov

Ilarion Dragostinov

Georgi Obretenov

Stoil Voivoda

Todor Kirkov

Hristo Patrev

Stanyo Gudev

Vasil Petleshkov

Hasan Pasha

Timeline for this Episode

  • 13th January 1876, the Synod of the Exarchate confirmed the election of Iosif (Lazar Yovchov) to be the Metropolitan of Lovech

  • End of January 1876, Stambolov arrived in Tarnovo as the main Apostle of the First Revolutionary District

  • 12 February 1876, Botev wrote from Bucharest to Todor Peev in Brailla a letter expressing his intention to take part in the coming uprising. He wrote that everything had been decided, the goal was clear, and the time was marked, and that it was no longer a matter of prayer but of action.

  • 6th March 1876, Rafail Atanasov, Petar Misheikov, Pavel Kalandzhi, and other immigrant activists called a committee assembly in Brailla. The goal was to discuss organizing a new uprising in Bulgaria with new leadership.

  • 20th March 1876, A part of the leading activists of the First Revolutionary District crossed from Wallachia into Romania (Hristo Patrev, Pop Hariton, Dyado Nikola Hainchenina, and Todor Kirkov)

  • 10/12 April 1876, Botev, Nikola Obretenov, and Georgi Apostolov agreed to work together on preparing a cheta to enter Bulgaria on May 1st (the designated date for the uprising)

  • 14-26 April 1876, The apostles of the Fourth Revolutionary district organized a meeting in the Oborishte region near Panagurishte. 64 regular representatives of the committee were there and the meeting voted on the plan for future actions and authorized the apostles to decide on a final date for the uprising.

  • 17/29 April 1876, The head military council selected at the Oboristhe meeting held a meeting and decided for the revolt to be proclaimed on the 1st of May.

  • 19th April/ 1st May 1876, a police squad headed by the Plovdiv police chief arrived in Koprivchitsa to arrest Todor Kableshkov.

  • 20th April/2nd May 1876, the April Uprising began, proclaimed in Koprivchitsa (add photo of the bridge) because the local committee wanted to get ahead of the arrest of Kableshkov. The local Konak was overtaken and a letter was sent to Panaguriste and local villages. It was called the Blood Letter because they had drawn a cross in blood under the text. Around 4pm that day Panayot Volov proclaimed the uprising in Panaguriste

  • 20th April 1876, Klisura, Strelcha, Mechka, Poibrene, and other Panagurishte villages join the uprising.

  • 21st April 1876, Vasil Petleshkov arrived in Bratsigovo and after an emergency meeting of the local committee he proclaimed the uprising there.

  • 21st April 1876, the Ottoman authorities in Tarnovo get orders to take preventative measures to prevent the rebellion from spreading

  • 22nd April 1876, The rapid cheta of Georgi Benkovski headed to Petrich and the rebellion reached Batak.

  • 23rd April 1876, Perushtitsa joined the rebellion

  • 25th April 1876, during the night a meeting of BRCC committee members from the First Revolutionary District was held in Gorno Oryahovitsa and they decided to join the revolt in three days.

  • 26th April 1876, The rebels managed a partial victory against the armies of a local Pasha in the Strelcha region.

  • 26th April 1876, Tusun Bey attacked Klisura

  • 26th April 1876, The priest Hariton arrived in the village of Musina and held a meeting of local activists

  • 27th April 1876, The Ottoman authorities managed to arrest some local activities in Gorno Oryahovitsa

  • 28th April 1876, around the village of Musina, 200 rebels gathered and formed a cheta under the leadership of Pop Hariton. The core consisted of 101 volunteers from the village of Byala Cherkva headed by Bacho Kiro Petrov. The cheta headed to Gabrovo and stopped to rest in the Dryanov Monastery.

  • 28th April 1876, Ottoman irregular troops attacked rebels in the region of Perushtisa but after suffering losses the Ottomans withdrew.

  • 29th April 1876, The Koprivchitsa Chorbajii prepared the arrest of local apostles. The conspiracy fails because help arrived from Panagurishte.

  • 29th April 1876, At this point the rebels in Peruchitsa were fighting defensive actions.

  • 29th April 1876, The Cheta of Pop Hariton was surrounded in the Dryanov Monastery and 9 days of defensive fighting began until the 7th of May.

  • 30th April 1876, the Ottoman command invaded Panagurishte and the city was taken and plundered.

  • 30th April 1876, 2,100 Ottoman irregulars surround and attack Bratsigovo

  • 30th April 1876, The hordes of Ahmed Aga attacked Batak and a bloody battle ensued

  • 30th April 1876, fighting continued in Peruchitsa and the rebels gathered into a local church

  • 30th April 1876, under the leadership of Tsanko Dyustabanov the revolutionary committee in Gabrovo held a meeting and decided to join the rebellion the next day.

  • 1st May 1876, An Ottoman force of 5,000 surrounded Koprivshtitsa, local notables gathered a bribe and turned over the rebels. The rebel positions on Mt. Elegic were attacked from three sides and the surviving rebels were forced to retreat. Heavy defensive fighting was carried out at Batak and Peruchitsa. Both villages are pillaged and the populations are tortured.

  • 1st May 1876, In the Sokol Monastery near Gabrovo around 219 men gathered to form a cheta headed by Tsanko Dyustabanov

  • 1st May 1876, the uprising is announced in Kruvenik and Sevlievo

  • 1st May 1876, the Cheta of Pop Hariton continues to fight in the Dyanovo Monastery but Hariton was injured.

  • 1st May 1876, the revolutionary committee in Yambol attempts to announce an uprising but the local authorities prevent this plan from being carried out.

  • 3rd May 1876, The Cheta of Tsanko Dyustabanov arrives in the Batoshevo village in Sivlievo, arming the local population. The uprising also involves the surrounding villages.

  • 3rd May 1876, the uprising is announced in Sliven by Ilarion Dragostinov and Georgi Obretenov, forming a small cheta which passes over the Balkan mountains to the camp of Stoil Voivoda

  • 4th May 1876, the rebels in the region of Novo Selo led by Yanko Karagyosov enter a difficult fight with Ottoman irregulars.

  • 5th May 1876, Bratsigoven was surrounded by 18,000 Ottomans

  • 5th May 1876, artillery joins the attacks of the Dyanovo Monastery. Under fire the monastery catches fire.

  • 5th May 1876, the committe in Tryavna announces an uprising and forms a small cheta under the leadership of Todor Kirkov, Hristo Patrev, and Stanyo Gudev.

  • 5th May 1876, The cheta of Tsanko Dyustabanov arrives in the villages of Kruvenik and Novo Selo

  • 5th May 1876, The newspaper New Bulgaria publishes its first issue in Geirgiu, it was edited by Botev. Afterwards it would be edited by Stambolov and Rashko Bluskov.

  • 6th May 1876, Notables from Bratsigovo send a messenger to the leaders of the Ottoman squads, Hasan Pasha, and in exchange for a substantial bribe the village is spared from destruction. Vasil Petleshkov is arrested and tortured by swallows poison.

  • 6th May 1876, The regular Ottoman army takes over Batoshevo

  • 7th May 1876, the surviving members in the Dyanovo monastery make a finally attempt to break out. Only 47 including Bacho Kiro survive and escape. The whole ordeal lasts 9 days.

  • 7th May 1876, The members of the cheta of Soil voivoda are sworn in.

  • 7th May 1876, tax officials and police enter Razlovstsi and try to arrest local activitsts.

  • 8th May 1876, viscious fighting between rebels and Ottomans at Novo Selo

  • 8th May 1876, the cheta of Stoil Voivoda enters the village of Nekovstsi near Kotlen where 24 locals join

  • 8th May 1876, in the village of Razlovstsi a cheta of 80 forms and storms the Konak, burning the tax register. Local women and children are hidden in a mountain camp which was built beforehand.

  • 9th May 1876, The Ottoman forces take over Kurvenik, some rebels manage to retreat into the Balkan mountains.

  • 10th May 1876, Ottoman forces take over Novo Selo, the 10 day battle with rebels in Sivlievo and Gabrovo comes to an end.

  • 10th May 1876, in the region of the village of Nekovo the cheta of Stoil Voivoda gets into a difficult battle with regular Ottoman troops. The voivoda is injured. The members of the cheta who manage to escape break into small groups, one of which includes the voivoda and Ilarian Dragostinov. On their way to a mountain pass (Vratnik) the apostle of the second revolutionary district, Dragostinov, dies.

  • 11th May 1876, rebels hiding around Mt. Maragidik (Rusalka today) headed by Tsanko Dyustabanov begin their final battle

  • 11th May 1876, the cheta from Tryavna headed by Hrito Patrev and Todor Kirkov fights in Chukara near Gabrovo. They retreat before breaking up into small groups which were easily defeated by Ottoman forces.

  • 12th May 1876, Georgi Benkovski dies around Kostina near Teteven

  • 13th May 1876, the badly wounded Stoil Voivoda along with Georgi Drazhev and other chetnitsi are surrounded in a forest and captured. On the way to Sliven, Stoil Voivoda is decapitatated.

  • May 13th 1876, Botev arrived in Giurgiu


A map showing the major actions of the April Uprising

A flag brandished by Bulgarian rebels proudly stating "Freedom or Death"

A contemporary painting depicting Bulgarians fighting the Ottomans

The bridge in Koprivshtitsa where the uprising began



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