Macedonia: Its Races and Their Future
H. Brailsford

V. The Bulgarian movement

8. General Tzoncheff's Raid
 

Late in the autumn of 1902 General Tzoncheff, acting in the name of the "Central" Committee [1], which is little more than a Bulgarian organisation with few roots in Macedonia itself, proclaimed a general rising. He can hardly have hoped for any real response to his appeal, for winter warfare is against the traditions of the Balkans. It was indeed a bold defiance of the climate, but it could do no harm to the Turks. General Tzoncheff crossed the frontier in November with about four hundred men, and in the region of Djumaia and Raslog, which adjoins the Bulgarian boundary, he carried on a gallant guerilla campaign for some three or four weeks. About two hundred men from the locality joined him, but the rival Internal Organisation opposed his enterprise, and there was no general rising, even in the very limited district which he invaded. By December all fighting was at an end. General Tzoncheff and his band returned to Bulgaria, and the peasants, who had taken little part in his adventure, were left to bear the brunt of the Turkish vengeance. There is much conflict of evidence as to what followed. The Russian official account is one long record of barbarities and tortures. The English Blue-Book is sceptical perhaps unduly so. But certainly there was wholesale beating, some torture, some violation of women, and some burning of houses. The terror was, at all events, general enough and serious enough to drive as many as three thousand peasants, in all the rigour of a Balkan winter, across the mountains of the frontier into the kindly refuge of Bulgaria. Although the Internal Organisation had no share in these events, and even tried to frustrate General Tzoncheff's wild enterprise, the Turks made no nice distinctions, and all over Macedonia the burden of the Turkish yoke grew heavier. Villages were searched for arms, which means that the peasants were beaten and tortured until they produced them, and if they really possessed no rifle they were often constrained to buy one in order to surrender it to the Turks.

1. See note at end of chapter.
 

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