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Bulgaria - Land Forces - Early 20th Century

By 1909 the Bulgarian Army was organized into nine territorial divisions, the headquarters of which are Sofia, Philoppopoli, EskiZagora, Sliven, Schumla, Plevna, Vratza and Dubintza. In case of mobilization 380,000 perfectly instructed men could be put in the field. Each of the nine divisional districts supplied a division in peace. This division consisted of eight battalions of infantry, one regiment of artillery, and one of divisional cavalry, besides engineers, howitzer and mountain batteries. On mobilisation each division was supposed to become an army corps of two divisions. Every battalion of infantry had four companies in peace-time; in war each company became a battalion, so that every battalion in peace became four battalions in war; thus every regiment which in peace was composed of two battalions became a brigade of eight battalions.

The expansions were very great, but the organisation appeared to be complete, and how it would work in war must largely depend on the strength and quality of the reserve of officers which are available to command these largely expanded units. The peace strength of an infantry battalion was just under 500 men, while in war the number of rifles that were available was about 1000. Two battalions of infantry formed a regiment, two regiments a brigade, and two brigades the infantry part of a division. The infantry was armed with the '315 Mannlicher magazine rifle and short bayonet, which is loaded with a clip containing five cartridges. Each soldier carried on his person 160 rounds of ammunition.

There were altogether about fifty-five batteries of field artillery, nine batteries of mountain guns, six batteries of howitzer guns, and a fortress regiment of artillery consisting of three battalions. The artillery had been rearmed with modern quick-firing guns. The cavalry consisted of three bodyguard squadrons; also sixteen squadrons of cavalry of the line, these are formed into a division of two brigades, each of two regiments. The extra nine regiments required for the divisional districts are not at present quite completed. The cavalry is armed with the Mannlicher carbine and sabre. The engineers were divided into telegraph, pontoon and railway companies, etc., as in other countries. The transport was largely augmented by a civilian element, previously registered, and owing to the small supply of horses in the country, oxen would have to be used in war.

The Reserve Army was commanded by officers who have been transferred from the Active Army to the Reserve Army, by young men who have passed examinations which qualify them for these posts, and by sergeant-majors who have done ten years or more in the Active Army.

The peace strength of the Bulgarian Army is estimated at about 53,000 of all ranks, but the war strength (when all the details of the newly formed portions of the army are completed) will be about 375,000 of all ranks. The Military Budget in 1907 was roughly 1,150,000 (besides loans), out of a total national expenditure of about 4,879,000.







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