In the autumn of 1876 an international inquiry commission is founded in order to investigate the cruelties during the suppression of the uprising in April 1876. The attempts of the Great Powers to solve the Bulgarian question by diplomatic means failed. Russia unambiguously expressed its will to solve the question by war. Undertaken are steps to neutralize Austria-Hungary and Great Britain. Romania agrees to include into the campaign with 40 000-men-army and to cede a territory for the Russian troops to pass over.
The Russo-Turkish war is declared on April 12th, 1877 in Kishinev by manifesto signed by the Emperor Alexander II. After preliminary preparation, in the small hours of June 27th , 1877, the 14th infantry division under command of general M.I. Dragomirov, crosses over Danube River at Svishtov and steppes on Bulgarian soil.
The Russian Danube Army consists of three detachments: Front , Eastern and Western. The Front Detachment of 12 000 men, under command of Gen.Gurko, has the assignment to liberate the settlements in Central North Bulgaria and to penetrate in South Bulgaria. To strengthening it is added a formation of Bulgarian Volunteer Units , organized in 12 battalions, comprising totally 12 634 men. The formation is instituted by order №.40 /April 14th, 1877 of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Operating army. On May 6th , 1877 volunteers sworn and are given their combat flag. Gen. Nikolai Stoletov is assigned as volunteers Commander.
After the liberation of Tarnovo and Gabrovo Gen.Gurko’s Detachment heads towards Stara Zagora. In bloody battles with the enemy, the Bulgarian Volunteers get their baptism of fire and with the cost of great sacrifice save the Samara Flag, withdrawing to the Shipka Pass. Epic battles are waged there since 9th to 11th August, 1877. Thanks to the bravery of the Bulgarians and Russians and to 16th shooting battalion of General Radetzki, who came just in time, the strategic peak is saved. This victory frustrates the uniting of the armies of Suleiman Pasha and Osman Pasha at Pleven.