1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Putnik, Radomir

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PUTNIK, RADOMIR (1847-1917), Serbian general, was born on Jan. 25 1847 at Kraguyevats. Like many other prominent figures in the life of his country, he came of a family which had emigrated to the Banat during the Turkish conquest and returned to Serbia after the expulsion of the Turks. Passing through the artillery school (which afterwards became the Serbian military academy), he obtained his commission in a line regiment. In 1876 he commanded a brigade in the war against Turkey, and when war was renewed in 1877 became chief-of-staff of the Shumaja Division. In the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885 he held a similar post in the Danubian Division, and in 1889 was made deputy-chief of the general staff, and taught as professor at the military academy in Belgrade. Like many other brilliant officers, he suffered from the favouritism which Kings Milan and Alexander had introduced into the Serbian army and from the consequent atmosphere of intrigue and personal rivalry. He was placed on the retired list, and it was only after the military revolution which destroyed the Obrenović dynasty in 1903 that he obtained his real opportunity of service. In that autumn he was appointed general and chief of the general staff. In 1906 he succeeded Gen. Gruić as Minister of War, and again held that office in 1912, during the decisive period when the military convention with Bulgaria was being negotiated. On the outbreak of war with Turkey he was made voivode or marshal (being the first holder of that title) and commander-in-chief, and was responsible for the rapid success of the Serbian arms at Kumanovo, Prilep and Monastir. It was largely owing to his vigilance and foresight that the treacherous night attack by which the Bulgarians opened the second Balkan War (June 29 1913) was so complete a failure. In the preceding months of suspense he and his staff had worked out a careful plan of action, and when Gen. Savov on July 1 gave his amazing order for the cessation of hostilities, Putnik was able to launch a counter-offensive, which resulted in the long-drawn-out battle of the Bregalnitsa and the final retreat of the Bulgarians. When the World War broke out he was undergoing a cure at an Austrian watering place — a very practical proof that the Serbian High Command was not preparing for an armed conflict. At first placed under arrest, he was released by special order of the Emperor Francis Joseph and conveyed to the Rumanian frontier. His impaired health did not prevent him from resuming the position of Serbian generalissimo and organizing the resistance of the country to invasion; and he inflicted upon the forces of Gen. Potiorek three successive defeats — the battles of the Yadar (Aug. 16-20), of the Drina (Sept. 8-19) and of Rudnik, which ended on Dec. 14 1914 with an Austrian rout and the complete evacuation of Serbia. On the latter occasion Putnik's success was rendered definitive by the genius of Gen. Mišić, the commander of the I. Army. Putnik retained the supreme command during the triple invasion of Serbia by the German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian armies in Nov. 1915, and shared the retreat of the Serbs through Albania. When, however, the exiled Government established itself at Corfu, he and most of his staff were placed on the retired list. He himself withdrew to France. He died on May 17 1917 at Nice.