132 Botev and Batak

As the April Uprising draws to a close, Botev crosses the Danube to continue the fight. Meanwhile, we delve into the horrors of the massacre at Batak.



Major Characters in this Episode

Hristo Botev

Nikola Voinovski

Tanyo Stoiyanov

Tsanko Dyustabanov

Todor Kirkov

Ahmet Aga

Eugene Schuyler

Januarius MacGahan


Timeline for this Episode

  • May 16th, Botev and his chetniks board the Austro-Hungarian steamer Radetski, taking it over and sailing it to Bulgaria. Others board along the way.

  • May 16th, After a betrayal Tsanko Dyustabanov is captured.

  • May 17th 1876, Botev receives word that the uprising has failed and he should take the steamer to Serbia, but he refuses and disembarks near Kozloduy. He then heads for Vratsa, expecting to gain followers along the way, but this does not happen. Botev also telegrams major European newspapers about his purpose and writes a letter to his wife saying goodbye.

  • May 17th 1876, The regular Ottoman army from Sliven attack the village of Boyadzhik, pillaging it and killing those captured.

  • May 18th 1876, Botev’s cheta fights several hundred Ottoman irregulars leading to about 30 deaths before they retreat towards Vratsa. Two entire Ottoman divisions were heading to meet his 200 man band.

  • May 18th 1876, the leaders of the third revolutionary district headed by Stoil Zaimov gather in the church in Vratsa and announce the uprising, forming a small cheta.

  • May 19th 1876, Ottoman soldiers reinforce Vratsa and Botev’s force has to change direction and move towards the Balkan mountains.

  • May 20th 1876, At around Midnight on the 19th-20ths, Botev’s detachment encounters more irregulars and fighting begins, carrying on into the day until his cheta runs out of ammunition and suffers heavy losses. That evening Botev is shot and killed. The common version has an Ottoman sniper do it but modern historical analysis concludes it was more likely killed by a conspiracy of his own men. His body was left there for the Ottomans to discover and his head was displayed the the town square in Vratsa.

  • May 23rd, The regular Ottoman army enters Vratsa, the local notables save it from destruction by paying a large ransom

  • 24th May 1876, Georgi Benkovski and surviving members of his cheta which had begun the fight in Panagyurishte escape into the Balkan mountains before being betrayed by a shepherd and ambushed by the Ottomans. Benkovski was killed and his head sent to Sofia.

  • 24th May 1876, the cheta lead by Nikola Voinovski reaches what’s now Botevgrad

  • 25th May 1876, the cheta of Tanyo Stoiyanov fights near Popovo

  • 26th May 1876, Panayot Volov and Georgi Ikonomov are betrayed, wounded and drown trying to swim the swollen Yantra river.

  • 26th May 1876, the cheta of Tanyo Stoiyanov continues fighting through the day to Aprilovo.

  • 27th May 1876, the cheta of Tanyo Stoiyanov is attacked again and he is killed in hand to hand combat.

  • 28th May 1876, Bacho Kiro is hanged in Tarnovo

  • 30th May 1876, Sultan Abdulazis was deposed by his own ministers, on June 4th he committed suicide in one of his palaces after asking for scissors to cut his beard and using themm to slit his arms on the inside of his elbows. His nephew Murad V then reigned for just 93 days.

  • 5th June 1876, Tsanko Dyustabanov is hanged

  • 13th June 1876, Nikola Voinovski, head of the Botev cheta, dies

  • 16th June 1876, the captured Kableshkov took advantage of a distracted guard to grab a pistol and shoot himself in the head.

  • 17th June 1876, some of Botev’s chetnitsi are captured.

  • 18th June 1876, war between Serbia, Montenegro, and Turkey erupts.

  • 24th June 1876, Todor Kirkov is hanged in Lovech. He was the assistant voivoda of the Travnya cheta.


Hristo Botev a year before his death
Hristo Botev a year before his death

A replica of the steamship Botev and his cheta commandeered
A replica of the steamship Botev and his cheta commandeered

The monument marking the location of Botev's death
The monument marking the location of Botev's death

A painting depicting the Batak Massacre
A painting depicting the Batak Massacre

A photo of the Batak church where hundreds died taken two years later in 1878
A photo of the Batak church where hundreds died taken two years later in 1878

American journalist Januarius MacGahan who help spread the word of the Batak Massacre
American journalist Januarius MacGahan who help spread the word of the Batak Massacre

American diplomat Eugene Schuyler who also helped spread word of the events in Batak
American diplomat Eugene Schuyler who also helped spread word of the events in Batak

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