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 Alexander Suvorov

Born:   24 of November 1729
Deceased:   18 of May 1800

Alexander Suvorov was the famous Russian military leader,the fouth generalissimo who never lost a battle.


Alexander Suvorov was born on the 24 of November 1729 in the family of General Vasily Ivanovich Suvorov. He was from an old Russian noble family. All the Alexander’s ancestors served in the Russian Army, as batmen or generals. His father Vasily Suvorov was a batman of Tsar Peter the Great and served in the Leib-Guards Semenovsky Regiment that was located in Moscow and then became a member of the Russian Senate. The father wanted Alexander to be a military too. He began to teach him the principles of Artillery, Fortification and Military History from the very young age. But Alexander was a sickly child and people said that he would not be able to serve in the Army. But he had strong will and became healthful and strong due to long and hard exercises. In 1742 Alexander Suvorov was enlisted in the Leib-Guards Semenovsky Regiment. Suvorov's active military service began in 1748.

The first military operation for Suvorov was the Seven Years War of 1756-1763. In the beginning of this war he was in the rear in commissariat service. He took part in the battle of Kunersdorf with the Prussian Army and in the capture of Berlin by Russian troops.

At a very young age Suvorov displayed his talent for command and abilities to lead the soldiers into battle. Suvorov always said that soldiers would respect and obey only a very brave and honest leader. He did not use the privileges of the commanding officer in food, dress or night's lodging. He behaved like an ordinary soldier, but soldiers loved him and rushed bravely into the battle after their leader.

The Seven Years War gave Suvorov rich military experience and he learned much about the Russian Army and soldiers’ moral potentialities.

Then he commanded the Suzdalsky Infantry regiment in New Ladoga. He wrote his well-known book "Regimental Instructions" that contained the main rules and regulations of soldiers training. Under Suvorov's command the Suzdalsky Regiment became one of the best in the Russian Army.

In 1768 - 1772 Suvorov with the Suzdalsky Regiment took part in the military actions in Poland fighting against the troops of the Polish Confederation. The Confederates fought against the Polish King Stanislav Poniatovsky who was supported by Russia.

Suvorov made swift movements and won many victories. Often he had much lesser troops than the Confederates, but still won. The military operations in Poland made Suvorov well-known in the Russian Army. Suvorov was rewarded with the St.George Order of 4-th Class. Then Suvorov took part in the first campaign against the Turks, and especially in the battle of Kosludscki, when 18 thousands of Russian soldiers broke the Turkish 40 thousand’s army. In 1775 he suppressed the rebellion of Pugachev. From 1777 till 1783 he served in the Crimea and the Caucasus.

From 1787 to 1791 he was again fighting the Turks and won many victories; he took part in the siege of Ochakov, and in 1788 won two great victories at Focsani and on the Rimnik. On the 22nd of December 1790 Suvorov stormed the famous fortress Ismail in Bessarabia. The fortress seemed to be unassailable. The Russian commander-in-chief Potemkin ordered Suvorov to storm it before winter. Suvorov spent only six days on preparation. He began the storm at five o’clock in the morning and when the sun rose up Russian soldiers were already on the walls and got into the town.

In 1796 Emperor Paul, the successor of Catherine dismissed Suvorov in disgrace for his freedom-loving and straight character and the popularity with the soldiers. He criticized the new military tactics and dress introduced by the emperor.

Suvorov then lived for some years in his estate of Konchauskoy, near Moscow. But in February 1799 the emperor summoned him again, this time he had to fight against the French Revolutionary armies in Italy.


Russian troops crossing the Alps

in 1799 (Vasily Surikov)

The campaign opened with a series of victories (Cassano, Trebbia, Novi), which made the French government to drive all the French soldiers from Italy. But then Suvorov was betrayed by European allies and got encircled. He with his soldiers crossed the Alps. It was winter and the Russian army had lack of warm clothes so the French army did not expect to see Suvorov on the other side of the Alps. After the brilliant victory Suvorov became the fourth generalissimo of Russia, but Paul countermanded the Suvorovs triumph in Moscow.

Suvorov again fell into disgrace but wanted to report Emperor Paul about very bad support of the Russian army. Paul refused to give him an audience and Suvorov got sick and died a few days later on the 18th of May 1800 in St. Petersburg.

He was very famous among soldiers; they called him “generalissimo-soldier”. He knew several languages and wrote military books.

Suvorov wrote the famous manual "The Science of Victory" and invented the sayings "Train hard, fight easy", "The bullet is a fool, the bayonet is a fine chap", "Perish yourself but rescue your comrade!" He taught his soldiers to attack instantly and decisively: "attack with the cold steel - push hard with the bayonet!"

Tags: Russian history Alexander Suvorov Russian men-of-arms   

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