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1877 EGYPTIAN ARMY IN THE RUSSO-TURKISH WAR

Egyptian Expedition Force

Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878)

In 1877, Sultan Abdulhamid II, asked Khedive Isma’il for assistance, and the “survivors of the Abyssinian Campaign, combined with Cairo levies", were reequipped to join the Ottoman Imperial Army in Bulgaria, as the ‘Egyptian Expeditionary Corps', of 8,000 men [1]; this was composed of the following troops:

  • "The infantry of the Egyptian contingent which consisted of twelve battalions were armed with Remington rifles." [2]
  • "the 2nd brigade consisting of the Egyptian contingent (8 battalions and a battery)". [3]

The Egyptian Force, were involved in the defence of Shipka Pass, in 1877.

  • The Corps, became part of the Ottoman Imperial Army 2nd Corps, under Prince Hassan. The largest Egyptian action, was at the Battle of Cerkovna (September, 1877).
  • In October, 1877 the Egyptian Corps was withdrawn to Varna, to be shipped back to Egypt, and this marked “the last time Egyptian forces would fight for the sultan’s service” [4].

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[1] Andrew James McGregor. A Military History of Modern Egypt: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Ramadan War. Praeger Publishers Inc (30 May 2006): 157-158.

[2] Maurice, F. (1905) The Russo-Turkish War, 1877: A Strategical Sketch. London: S. Sonnenschein: 17.

[3] Maurice, F. (1905) The Russo-Turkish War, 1877: A Strategical Sketch. London: S. Sonnenschein: 152.

[4] Andrew James McGregor. Page 161

Expedition Force General Officers

Right - An Egypt Army General, and senior staff officer from the 1870s (Vinkhuijzen Collection).

Information on the 1877-1878 Egypt Army uniforms is not readily available. However, there are examples, of well documented and dated uniforms from photographs, and biographies of the Americans who served in the Egypt Army, over this period:

  • Raleigh E. Colston, an American went to Cairo in 1873 after receiving a colonel's commission from the khedive of Egypt, and served in the Egyptian army, till returning to the United States in 1878.
  • Alexander W. Reynolds, who entered the service of Egyptian Khedive in 1869 as a colonel in the Egypt Army, till 1876.

Right  - In the case of Thaddeus Phelps Mott, he was the the first aide-de-camp to Khedive Isma'il Pasha (1869-1870), and he wore the rank badge of an AGHA/Pasha (General):

  • Three stars, and crescent worked into the cuff embroidery, again based on earlier Egyptian 1820s chest or neck order badges, composed of three jewelled stars and a jewelled crescent.
  • As can be seen, similar to the Loring picture (below), he has two tape lines worked together, into his French sleeve knot, to indicate his rank.
  • As well, he is wearing a Pasha's court frockcoat.

​Right - Loring, in 1878, as a Fereek Pasha (Major General). Traditionally, in the Ottoman Imperial Army, a FERIK (in the case of Loring's biography this has been spelled as FEREEK), is a Divisional-General; which in Egyptian translates into MIR-MIRDN (General de Division):

  • One star, and crescent worked into the cuff embroidery.
  • Originally, the rank badge from the 1820s had been a chest or neck order badge, composed of jewelled stars and a jewelled crescent.
  • As can be seen in the Loring picture, he has two tape lines worked together, into his French sleeve knot, to indicate his rank.
  • As well, he is wearing a Pasha's court frockcoat.

Expedition Force Officers

Right - The Army of Egypt rank insignia for officers (1863-1883).

  • AGHA/Pasha (General): Three stars, and crescent worked into the cuff embroidery (see discussion above).
  • Mir-mirdn (General de Division): One star, and crescent worked into the cuff embroidery (see discussion above).

A: Miralai (Colonel).

B: Bimbachi (Major).

C: Yuzbachi (Captain).

D: Mulazim-i-evvel (Full-Lieutenant).

E: Sakologassi (Adjudant); Sokolagassi (Adjudant Sous-Officier).

F: Bachaouch (Sergeant-Major).

G: Chaouch (Sergeant).

H: On-bachi (Corporal).

1877-1878 Field Artillery Officers

In 1877-78, one artillery battery acompanied the Egyptian contingent [1].

  • Right - An illustration of an 1877-1882 period Egyptian Field Artillery Colonel.
  • The original ILLUSTRATED SWEET CAPORAL TOBACCO CARDS, USA MILITARY (c.1880), identified this figure as a "COL. HORSE ARTILLERY, TURKEY." However, this figure is Egyptian:
  • Note - the 'five-line' arm length gold not embroidery indicating his rank.

​The illustration - right - shows blue facings piped red, whereas the oridinary gunners wore red facing (below), for the Artillery arm in the Egyptian Army.

  • The collar shows some type of badge, more likely Ottoman script (however, it is not clear what this is); it could be an Ottoman script 'T', battery number or grenade (as these insignia were all used after 1882).

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[1] Maurice, F. (1905) The Russo-Turkish War, 1877: A Strategical Sketch. London: S. Sonnenschein: 152.

Expedition Force Soldiers

The 1877-1878 Egypt Army Expedition Force soldiers' uniform followed the same basic patterns established at the end of the Crimean War expedition, and these remained unchanged till 1882-83 period.

  • Unlike the Ottoman imperial army, the 'zouave uniform' was not adopted in the Egyptian Army (except for the Gendarmes, who were dressed as zouaves).

In 1877-78, a total of twelve infantry battalions made up the Egyptian contingent [1].

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[1] Maurice, F. (1905) The Russo-Turkish War, 1877: A Strategical Sketch. London: S. Sonnenschein: 17.

Expedition Force Sudanese Division

In 1877-78, a division of Sudanese infantry were part of the twelve infantry battalions that made up the Egyptian contingent [1].

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[1] Ian Durry. The Russo-Turkish War 1877. Osprey Publishing, 2012: 46-47.

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