Read an Excerpt
This is an unedited excerpt from the book The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792-1815, by Alexander Mikaberidze (December, 2004 ISBN: 1-932714-02-2). It is provided to you courtesy of the author and Savas Beatie LLC (www.savasbeatie.com). All copyright protections apply. If you wish to reproduce this material in its entirety as presented below, you may do so provided: (1) You email Savas Beatie and alert us as to where it will appear (firstname.lastname@example.org), and (2) This introductory paragraph (and the one that concludes this excerpt) remain intact. Should you wish to reproduce only a portion of this excerpt, please contact us for permission (email@example.com). End notes follow this chapter. Thank you.
The Hermitage Palace in St. Petersburg has a grand hall dedicated to the Russian army generals who served in the wars waged during the Napoleonic period. When Westerners pass through the hall and see the portraits of more than 330 generals, they recognize very few by name or appearance with the exception of the most prominent, such as Mikhail Barclay de Tolly, Mikhail Kutusov, Peter Bagration, Dmitry Dokhturov, and Matvei Platov. Nevertheless, the hall is a pantheon of Russian heroes who fought and often died in the struggle against Napoleon's armies and allies.
The Revolutionary period was one of great activity for the Russian army. Although officially neutral during the War of the First Coalition, Emperor Paul made a major commitment against Republican France in 1799 and sent three armies west. The main Russian army, under the command of the legendary Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov, employed many young inexperienced officers in Italy and Switzerland. Despite the ultimate withdrawal of these armies following General André Masséna's victories during the Zurich campaign, the Russian officers gained valuable experience and exposure to the tactical and strategic changes in warfare spawned by Napoleon and the armies of Republic.
In 1805, the Russian armies faced the Grand Army and Napoleon for the first time. The leadership in the Russian armies proved to be formidable at Amstetten, Durenstein, and Schöngraben, but suffered humiliation at Austerlitz. Nevertheless, the Russian officers continued to improve in leadership and their understanding of Napoleonic tactics. Fourteen months later, they demonstrated these qualities in the battle at Eylau, denying Napoleon the decisive victory he sought. Although successful in repulsing the Grand Army at Heilsburg, four days later the Russian army was lured across the Alle River and crushed at Friedland. After Tilsit, they served as Napoleon's ally in the War of the Fifth Coalition against Austria; meanwhile, other army units were deployed against the Ottoman Empire and the Swedes.
By 1812, after a decade of almost constant warfare, the leadership in the Russian army had improved markedly. Many officers had served in various European theaters and compiled impressive records of success on the battlefield. They faced their greatest challenge and achieved their greatest success in 1812 when Napoleon invaded Russia, only to be driven out six months later. The defeat of Napoleon in the east was the Russian army's crowning achievement for the next 130 years. Now, for the first time, Western readers will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Russian army officers who made these victories possible.
Hundreds of books, including memoirs, journals, and correspondence, have been published in English, French, and German on the Napoleonic period. The names of very few Russian officers appear on their pages. Their names and titles stand out in Russian publications, but are lost to most Western readers. With the completion of this volume by Alexander Mikaberidze, readers interested in the Russian army during the Napoleonic period now have a valuable research tool available. Having just completed a doctoral dissertation on General Prince Peter Bagration, who served in almost every Russian campaign during the period, Dr. Mikaberidze has had the opportunity to delve into the careers of hundreds of Russian officers, as well as the administration of the Russian army.
After tracing the evolution of the Russian army in the 18th century and the Napoleonic period, Dr. Mikaberidze examines the system of enlistments and promotion; the military schools and educational programs; the social composition and status in Russian society; the system of recognition and awards; and the strengths and weaknesses of the Russian army. Biographical sketches are provided for each general, many of the colonels, and some of the lieutenants. There are extensive details on each officer's origin, education, military service, and military awards. In the tradition of the distinguished French historian George Six and his Dictionnaire bibliographique des Généraux & Amiraux français de la Révolution et de l'empire (1792-1814), Dr. Mikaberidze has produced a book that will be invaluable to anyone interested in the Russian army and the campaigns of the Napoleonic period.
Professor Donald D. Horward,
Joseph Kornilovich O'Rourke I
O'ROURKE (O'Rourke I), Joseph Kornilovich (b. 1762 - d. 1849) was born to an Irish noble family; his father moved to Russia under Empress Elizabeth and served as a major general in the Russian army. O'Rourke enlisted as a sergeant in the Life Guard Izmailovsk Regiment in 1776, and fourteen years later, became a captain in the Pskov Dragoon Regiment. He fought in the Russo-Swedish War in 1789-1790, and participated in the 1794 Campaign in Poland. O'Rourke transferred to the Pavlograd Hussar Regiment in 1797, rising to major in 1798. In 1799, he served in General Rimsky-Korsakov's corps in Switzerland, and for his actions at Zurich, was awarded the Order of St. George (4th class) and promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1800.
During the 1805 Campaign, O'Rourke served in the Russian rearguard and fought at Schöngrabern and Austerlitz. During the 1806- 1807 Campaigns in Poland, he took part in the battles at Golimyn and Eylau (awarded the Order of St. Vladimir, 3rd class). In March 1807, he was sent to Volhynia to form the Volhynia Uhlan Regiment, and was appointed chef of this unit on 19 May 1807. In 1808-1811, he served in the Danube Valley and distinguished himself at Giurgiu.
Promoted to major general on 3 August 1810, O'Rourke was dispatched to Serbia, where he defeated the Turks at Palanka and Banya, earning the Order of St. George (3rd class) on 10 December 1810. He also fought at Jasika, Varvarino, and on the Morava River. He later joined the main Russian forces and fought the Turks at Kalafat. For his actions, O'Rourke was awarded the Order of St. Anna (1st class) with diamonds and the Order of St. Vladimir (2nd class). In early 1812, he commanded Russian troops on the border of Bosnia. During the 1812 Campaign, he was recalled to Volhynia, where he commanded a cavalry detachment and fought on the Bug and Berezina Rivers, and pursued the French from Molodechno to Kovno.
In 1813, O'Rourke took part in the rearguard actions on the Oder River and in the battles at Dresden, Magdeburg, and Kulm (Prussian Iron Cross). He was promoted to lieutenant general on 10 October 1813, with seniority dating from 16 August 1813. In October 1813, he fought at Dennewitz, Leipzig, and Kassel. During the 1814 Campaign in France, O'Rourke commanded a cavalry corps in the Army of North and fought at Craonne, St. Dizier, Bar sur Aube, Laon (awarded the Order of St. Alexander of Neva), and Paris. For his actions in 1813-1814, he was awarded the Prussian Order of Red Eagle, the Swedish Order of the Sword, and Hesse-Kassel Order of Military Merit.
In August 1814, O'Rourke took command of the 2nd Uhlan Division. The next year, he accompanied Alexander I to the Congress of Vienna. In 1816-1818, he led the Lithuanian Uhlan Division and took command of the 1st Hussar Division on 4 May 1819. Relieved of duty on 25 July 1819, he retired to his estate near Minsk. During the Polish Rebellion of 1830, O'Rourke mobilized reserves in the Minsk gubernia and was awarded the Order of St. Alexander of Neva with diamonds. He was promoted to general of cavalry on 22 April 1841. O'Rourke died at his estate at Vselube in the Grodno gubernia in April 1849. During his career, O'Rourke also received two golden swords (one with diamonds) for courage. His brother O'ROURKE (O'Rourke I) Patrice Kornilovich, rose to colonel and led the Volhynia Horse (later Uhlan) Regiment on 24 October 181, but sickened and died on 10 June 1812.
Louis Alexander Andrault Langeron
LANGERON, Louis Alexander Andrault (b. 24 January 1763, Paris - d. 16 July, 1831, Odessa) was born to a French noble family; his full name was Louis Alexander Andrault chevalier comte de Langéron, marquis de la Coss, baron de Cougny, de la Ferté Langéron et de Sassy. At an age of 15, he was "sous-lieutenant des gardes françaises." He later served at Caracas and Saint-Domingue in 1782-1783. In 1786, he was promoted to assistant-colonel to the regiment of Médoc, and then colonel to the Armagnac Regiment in 1788. Langeron accompanied the Prince of Nassau to Russia in 1789, and the next year entered Russian service as a colonel in the Siberia Grenadier Regiment (7 May 1790). He distinguished himself in the campaigns against the Swedes, earning the Order of St. George (4th class, 19 September 1790) for actions at Bjork, and commanding the Russian left wing in the battle at Rochensalmi. In 1790-1791, he fought the Turks at Ismail (wounded, awarded a golden sword) and Macin.
With Catherine II's permission, Langeron served in the Prince of Saxony-Teschen's army against the French in Netherlands, and on his return to Russia, was sent as a military observer to the Austrian army in Northern France and Netherlands (1793-1794). In August 1795, Langeron transferred to the Malorossiisk [Little Russia] Grenadiers Regiment and rose to brigadier on 9 July 1796. He became major general and chef of the Ufa (Ufimsky) Musketeer Regiment on 2 June 1797. He was awarded the Order of St. Anna (2nd class) for effective maintenance of his regiment. Under Paul, Langeron also received the Commander Cross of Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and was conferred the title of count of the Russian Empire. He was given the rank of lieutenant general on 5 November 1798, and appointed chef of the Riga (Ryazhsky) Musketeer Regiment 24 May 1799. Langeron became the head of the Brest Inspection on 24 August 1800. Langeron took part in the 1805 Campaign against Napoleon and commanded Russian troops on the Allied left flank at Austerlitz. He was one of the two generals disgraced after the war and was sent to Odessa.
In 1806-1811, Langeron served in the Army of Moldavia against the Ottomans. He fought at Giurgiu, Silistra, Frasin (Order of St. Vladimir, 2nd class), Derekoy (Order of St. George, 3rd class, 1 October 1810), and Ruse (Order of St. Alexander of Neva). Langeron took command of the 22nd Division on 19 August 1810, and temporarily led the Army of Moldavia after General Kamensky died. He participated in the decisive battle at Ruse in 1811, for which he was promoted to general of infantry on 3 September 1811, and awarded the Order of St. Vladimir (1st class). In 1812, Langeron commanded the 1st Corps of the Army of Danube and took part in the actions at Brest-Litovsk and on the Berezina.
In 1813, Langeron was in charge of the blockade of Thorn, for which he received the Order of St. George (2nd class, 23 March 1813), as well as both the Prussian Orders of Black and Red Eagles. Commanding a Russian corps, Langeron participated in the battles of Koenigswarte, Bautzen, Zibeneichen, Lowenberg, Holdberg, Katzbach, Hartau, Bischofsward, and Leipzig (received the diamond signs of Order of St. Alexander of Neva and the Swedish Order of the Sword). In 1814, he led his corps at Soissons, Craonne, Laon, Rheims, Le Fère Champenoise, and Paris for which he garnered the Russian Order of St. Andrew the First Called, the French Orders of St. Louis and Lily, and the Austrian Order of Maria Theresa. In late 1814, Langeron commanded the 4th and 6th Corps in Volhynia, and marched back to France during the Hundred Days. He reached the Rhine when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, and turned back to Russia.
After the war, Langeron was appointed the Military Governor of Kherson and Odessa, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bug and Black Sea Cossack Hosts, and the Governor of the Ekaterinoslavl, Kherson, and Tavrida gubernias on 28 November 1815. He contributed significantly to the development of the city of Odessa in 1816-1823. Langeron was relieved of his duties because of poor health on 26 May 1823, and traveled to France in 1824-1825.
Langeron was appointed a member of the sentencing panel after the Decembrist Uprising in 1826, and was awarded the diamond signs of the Order of St. Andrew the First Called. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, he fought at Satunovo, Shumla, Giurgiu, Turno, and Silistra. Langeron became chef of the Riga Infantry Regiment on 23 February 1829, and left the Turkish front after the appointment of General Diebitsch. He spent the next two years in Odessa and traveled to St. Petersburg in early 1831, where he died during the cholera epidemic on 16 July 1831. Langeron was buried in the Catholic Church in Odessa in 1831.
Langeron was a prolific writer and his memoirs are valuable sources on the period. His literary legacy includes Mémoires sur les guerres de la première coalition, 1792-1793, Mémoires de Langéron, générale d'infanterie dans l'armée russe. Campagnes de 1812, 1813 et 1814, Journal inedit de la campagne de 1805, and Zapiski Grafa Langerona. Voina s Turtsiei v 1806-1812 gg. [Recollections of Count Langeron. War Against Turkey in 1806-1812].