Battle of Transylvania
The Battle of Transylvania was the first major operation of the Romanian Campaign during World War I, beginning on 15 August 1916. It started as an attempt by the Romanian Army
Romanian Armed Forces
The Land Forces, Air Force and Naval Forces of Romania are collectively known as the Romanian Armed Forces...

 to seize the disputed province of Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 and potentially knock Austria-Hungary out of the war. Although initially successful, the offensive was brought to a halt after Bulgaria's
Kingdom of Bulgaria
The Kingdom of Bulgaria was established as an independent state when the Principality of Bulgaria, an Ottoman vassal, officially proclaimed itself independent on October 5, 1908 . This move also formalised the annexation of the Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia, which had been under the control...

 attack on Dobruja
Dobruja is a historical region shared by Bulgaria and Romania, located between the lower Danube river and the Black Sea, including the Danube Delta, Romanian coast and the northernmost part of the Bulgarian coast...

, and a successful German and Austro-Hungarian counterattack
A counterattack is a tactic used in response against an attack. The term originates in military strategy. The general objective is to negate or thwart the advantage gained by the enemy in attack and the specific objectives are usually to regain lost ground or to destroy attacking enemy units.It is...

 after September 18 eventually forced the Romanian Army to retreat back to the Carpathians
Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe...

 by late November.


Before the war, the Kingdom of Romania
Kingdom of Romania
The Kingdom of Romania was the Romanian state based on a form of parliamentary monarchy between 13 March 1881 and 30 December 1947, specified by the first three Constitutions of Romania...

 was an ally of Austria-Hungary. However, when war broke out in 1914, Romania pledged neutrality
Neutral country
A neutral power in a particular war is a sovereign state which declares itself to be neutral towards the belligerents. A non-belligerent state does not need to be neutral. The rights and duties of a neutral power are defined in Sections 5 and 13 of the Hague Convention of 1907...

, claiming that Austria-Hungary had started the war and thus Romania had no obligation to join it. Romania eventually joined the Entente
Entente Cordiale
The Entente Cordiale was a series of agreements signed on 8 April 1904 between the United Kingdom and the French Republic. Beyond the immediate concerns of colonial expansion addressed by the agreement, the signing of the Entente Cordiale marked the end of almost a millennium of intermittent...

, on the condition that the Allies
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 recognise Romanian authority over Transylvania. The province had an absolute Romanian majority
The Romanians are an ethnic group native to Romania, who speak Romanian; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania....

, but it had been under Austrian rule since the 17th century (since 1867 by Austria-Hungary). The Allies accepted the terms, and Romania declared war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

 on Austria-Hungary on 27 August.

Romanian offensive (15 August—15 September)

On the night of 15 August, three Romanian armies crossed the largely undefended Carpathian passes, meeting only sporadic resistance by Austro-Hungarian border units. The Romanian plan (Hypothesis Z) called for a rapid advance to the strategically important Mureş River
Mures River
The Mureș is an approximately 761 km long river in Eastern Europe. It originates in the Hășmașu Mare Range in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, Romania, and joins the Tisza river at Szeged in southeastern Hungary....

. Romanian units advanced slowly, taking Braşov
Brașov is a city in Romania and the capital of Brașov County.According to the last Romanian census, from 2002, there were 284,596 people living within the city of Brașov, making it the 8th most populated city in Romania....

 on 16 August, crossing the Olt River
Olt River
The Olt River is a river in Romania. It is the longest river flowing exclusively through Romania. Its source is in the Hăşmaş Mountains of the eastern Carpathian Mountains, near the village Bălan. It flows through the Romanian counties Harghita, Covasna, Braşov, Sibiu, Vâlcea and Olt...

 on 4 September and reaching the outskirts of Hermannstadt (modern-day Sibiu
Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, Romania with a population of 154,548. Located some 282 km north-west of Bucharest, the city straddles the Cibin River, a tributary of the river Olt...

) by mid-September. Three Russian divisions also arrived in Northern Romania, but they suffered from supply shortages and had little overall effect on the fighting. However, by this time Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 declared war on Romania and captured Turtucaia fortress
Battle of Turtucaia
The Battle of Turtucaia in Bulgaria, was the opening battle of the first Central Powers offensive during the Romanian Campaign of World War I...

, which, combined with German and Austro-Hungarian reinforcements in Transylvania, led the Romanian High Command to suspend the offensive. Several units were moved from Transylvania to Southern Romania, and the remaining troops switched to a defensive strategy. From this point on, the Romanian Campaign would take a turn for the worse for the Allies.

Central Powers Counter-offensive (18 September—29 November)

In the meantime, Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn
Erich von Falkenhayn was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.-Early life:...

, recently fired as Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff
The title, chief of staff, identifies the leader of a complex organization, institution, or body of persons and it also may identify a Principal Staff Officer , who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide to an important individual, such as a president.In general, a chief of...

, assumed command of the Ninth Army and begun a counterattack against the Romanians. On 18 September, German forces struck the Romanian First Army near Haţeg
Hațeg is a town in Hunedoara County, Romania with a population of 12,507. Three villages are administered by the town: Nălațvad, Silvașu de Jos and Silvașu de Sus.Țara Hațegului is the region around Hațeg town...

, forcing them to retreat. Eight days later, the elite Alpen Korps repulsed a Romanian attack on Sibiu, and on 4 October the Romanian Second Army was defeated at Brasov. The Fourth Army
4th Infantry Division (Romania)
The 4th Infantry Division Gemina is one of three major units of the Romanian Land Forces, with its headquarters in Cluj-Napoca. Until June 15, 2008 it was designated as the 4th Territorial Army Corps "Mareşal Constantin Prezan" .-Structure in April 2007 :This structure was in force when the...

, despite little pressure from the enemy, retreated to the mountains. By 25 October, the Romanian troops were routed and withdrew to their prewar positions. For several weeks, the Ninth Army made probing attacks in the mountains to test the Romanian defenses. On 10 November, Falkenhayn launched his main attack on the Vulcan Pass
Vulcan Pass
Vulcan Pass is a mountain pass in the Hunedoara county of Romania, on the Jiu valley. The nearby city of Vulcan is named after the pass....

, inflicting heavy losses on the Romanians. By 26 November, the Romanian defenses were shattered and German troops were crossing into Wallachia, closing in on the Romanian capital, Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....



The battle ended in disaster for the Romanians, who failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority and favorable strategic position (Transylvania was practically a massive, poorly-defended bulge in the Allied lines). General Averescu
Alexandru Averescu
Alexandru Averescu was a Romanian marshal and populist politician. A Romanian Armed Forces Commander during World War I, he served as Prime Minister of three separate cabinets . He first rose to prominence during the peasant's revolt of 1907, which he helped repress in violence...

, the Romanian commander-in-chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

, reflected that "the offensive, which faced no difficulties, moved slowly, but when difficulties arose, the retreat was precipitous". Falkenhayn's forces secured a position to attack Bucharest from the North; combined with August von Mackensen
August von Mackensen
Anton Ludwig August von Mackensen , born August Mackensen, was a German soldier and field marshal. He commanded with success during the First World War and became one of the German Empire's most prominent military leaders. After the Armistice, Mackensen was interned for a year...

's offensive from the south, South-West Romania was enveloped in a double pincer attack
Pincer movement
The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it...

, and the Romanian Army fled to Moldova. By 6 December, Romania had suffered 250,000 casualties and lost nearly two-thirds of its territory, including its capital.
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