Mikhail Kutuzov – Russian Field-Marshal
Mikhail Kutuzov, the Russian Field-Marshal, who led the Russian army to victory in the war of 1812, was born on September 16, 1745 in Petersburg. His father served in the army under Peter I. When Mikhail grew up, his father sent him to the Petersburg Military Engineering and Artillery School. Young Kutuzov very soon distinguished himself among his classmates. He studied very well and quickly mastered the arts of engineering and artillery. He liked history, literature and studied French, German, English and other languages. In 1761 Mikhail graduated from the Military School with the rank of lieutenant.
Young Kutuzov joined the Astrakhan regiment and served under the command of Colonel (later, Field-Marshal) Suvorov, and was appointed commander of a company. He took part in many battles. In 1770, Kutuzov fought the Turks on the Danube. Later he fought the Tatars in the Crimea, where he nearly lost his life as he was badly wounded. When he recovered, he went abroad for medical treatment. When returned to Russia, he served under Suvorov again, this time for six years. During this time Kutuzov mastered Suvorov’s “Science of Victory”. Under Suvorov’s command the Russian Army became the best in Europe. At that time Kutuzov was promoted to the rank of Major-General.
In 1788 war again broke out with Turkey. Kutuzov’s Corps took an active part in the war. Kutuzov participated in the capture of the Fort Ismail. After the battle at the approaches to Ismail, Suvorov wrote about Kutuzov: “Though Kutuzov fought on the left flank, he was my right-hand man.”
During the war with Turkey in the spring of 1811 Kutuzov became a commander of the Moldavian army. He had to fight together with demoralized soldiers against numerous well-trained Janissaries. However, in the first June battle where on the side of the Turks there was a triple advantage, he defeated the enemy, and a few months later, after spending a tricky maneuver he surrounded the camp of the Grand Vizier. In the fall Turkish army capitulated and in the spring of 1812 Kutuzov made peace in Bucharest. According to it Bessarabia and Moldavia became Russian.
Unlike the soldiers and the people, the emperor Alexander I did not like obstinate commander and called him only in case of emergency. Realizing that his generals were unable to cope with Napoleon, the emperor appointed Kutuzov commander in chief of all the armies. Keeping the tactics of his predecessor, Barclay de Tolly, Kutuzov continued to retreat until he decided to give general battle – the only in the entire war. As a result the battle of Borodino became one of the largest and bloodiest in the XIX century.
The Russian people will always remember the great Field-Marshal, who was a true patriot of his country.