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Only a few days after its birth, the Bulgarian army, lacking higher officers, had to face the first serious trial. On 2 November 1885 almost 60 000 Serbian soldiers, 500 heavy guns and modern weaponry crossed the Bulgarian border. All military observers predicted quick success for Serbia. Bulgarian officers and soldiers, most of them gathered at the southern border waiting for an attack from Turkey, had to do the impossible to reach Slivnitsa on time to participate in the decisive battle. The long march was accompanied by heavy rain, muddy roads and lack of transport. First and Forth detachments of First Infantry Regiment passed the distance from the village of Vetren to Sofia (80 km) taking no rest for 28 hours. On 6 November at Slivnitsa arrived the 5th battery of First Artillery Regiment, which covered 146 km within a fortnight. The Bulgarian army fought back the aggressor and undertook a counter-offensive in Serbian territory. Prince Milan, who short before that had promised to ,,drink coffee in the coffee-shops in Sofia", was forced to run for his life. The victory in the Serbian-Bulgarian War seemed even more impressive having in mind that it was achieved by officers without war experience, all of them under 30.

The Bucharest Peace Treaty signed on 19 February 1886, restored the territorial status quo between the two states. Due to the positive position of Great Britain, the Unification received its juridical confirmation. The Bulgarian Kniaz was appointed Governor General of Eastern Rumelia, which was legitimated with the Treaty of Topkhane, signed by the Great Powers on 24 March 1886 in Istanbul. The Muslim villages in Kurdzhali district and the Rhodope region remained under the direct authority of the Sultan.

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