Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov

Alexander Suvorov by Charles de Steuben
Other name(s)Aleksandr Vasilevich Suvorov[1]
Nickname(s)General Forward
Born(1730-11-24)November 24, 1730
Moscow, Moscow Governorate, Russian Empire
DiedMay 18, 1800(1800-05-18) (aged 69)
St. Petersburg, Saint Petersburg Governorate, Russian Empire
Years of service1746–1800
RankFieldmarshal and Generalissimo of the Russian Empire
Commands held
  •  • Tver Dragoon Regiment [ru]
  •  • 12th Astrakhan Grenadier Regiment [ru]
  •  • 62nd Suzdal Infantry Regiment [ru]
Spouse(s)Varvara Suvorova [ru]
ChildrenArkady Suvorov
Natalya Zubova [ru]
RelationsHouse of Golitsyn
House of Prozorovsky
House of Suvorov [ru]
Selected military actions
     Prussia      Poland      Turkey      Crimea      France

Count Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov-Rymniksky, Prince of Italy[2][d] (Russian: Граф Алекса́ндр Васи́льевич Суво́ров-Ры́мникский, князь Итали́йский;[e] IPA: [ɐlʲɪkˈsandr vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ sʊˈvorəf]; 24 November [O.S. 13 November] 1729 or 1730 – 18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1800), was a Russian general in service of the Russian Empire and the Habsburg monarchy. He was Count of Rymnik, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, Feldmarschall of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of the Kingdom of Sardinia, Grand Marshal of the Kingdom of Sardinia, Prince of the Russian Empire and the last Generalissimo of the Russian Empire. Suvorov is considered one of the greatest military commanders in Russian history and one of the great generals of the early modern period.[3][4] He was awarded numerous medals, titles, and honors by Russia, as well as by other countries. Suvorov secured Russia's expanded borders and renewed military prestige and left a legacy of theories on warfare. He was the author of several military manuals, the most famous being The Science of Victory (or The Science of Winning; Russian: Наука побеждать), and was noted for several of his sayings. He never lost a single battle he commanded,[5][6] and his military record is extensive; Suvorov won in a total of 63 battles without suffering a major defeat.[7] He raised Russian military glory to a height to which it had never reached before or since.[8] Several military academies, monuments, villages, museums, and orders in Russia are dedicated to him.

Born in Moscow, he studied military history as a young boy and joined the Imperial Russian Army at the age of 17. Suvorov was promoted to colonel in 1762 for his numerous successes on the battlefield during the Seven Years' War.

When war broke out with the Bar Confederation in 1768, Suvorov captured the Polish capital Kraków and then defeated general Dumouriez near Lanckorona. This marked the start of the Partitions of Poland. He was promoted to general and next fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774, taking Turtukaya and winning a decisive victory at the battle of Kozludzha.

In 1774 he interrogated the captured Yemelyan Pugachev and in the same year[9] married into the well-connected Golitsyn family.[7][f] In 1783 he suppressed the Nogai uprising. Becoming the General of the Infantry in 1786, he led Russian forces in the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 under the command of Potemkin. He participated in the siege of Ochakov.

Suvorov and the Austro-Bavarian general Josias of Coburg then won one of the most decisive victories in their career at the battle of Rymnik, and afterwards Suvorov crushingly defeated the Ottomans in the storming of Izmail, that commemorated as one of the days of Russian military honour and immortalized with the song "Let the Thunder of Victory Rumble!". For Suvorov's accomplishments, he was made a Count of both the Russian Empire and Holy Roman Empire, having been given the honorific title Rymniksky[g] (a postscript to his surname in honour of the victory at Rymnik).

He put down a Polish uprising in 1794, defeating them at the battle of Brest and in the horrible storming of Praga, faubourg of Warsaw.

While a close associate of Empress Catherine the Great, Suvorov often quarreled with her son and heir apparent, Paul. After Catherine died of a stroke in 1796, Paul I was crowned Emperor and dismissed Suvorov for disregarding his orders. However, he was forced to reinstate Suvorov and make him a field marshal at the insistence of the coalition allies for the French Revolutionary Wars.[11]

Suvorov was given command of the Austro-Russian army and the Italian campaign of 1799 began. He captured Milan, Turin, and thereafter drove the French out of Italy through his triumphs at Cassano[h] (the Adda River), the Trebbia River, and Novi.[7] The Italian strongholds of Alessandria and Mantua fell. Suvorov was given a new title: he was made a "Prince of Italy" (or Knyaz Italiysky[10]) for his deeds, and he became known as the Prince of Italy, Count Suvorov-Rymniksky. Afterwards, he was ordered to head Swiss campaign to assist allied operations. He was cut off by André Masséna and later became surrounded in the Swiss Alps by the French after an allied Russo-Austrian army under Alexander Korsakov and Friedrich von Hotze, which he was supposed to reinforce, suffered defeats at Zurich and on the Linth River. Suvorov led the strategic withdrawal of exhausted and ill-supplied Russian troops dealing with French forces three times the size of his own: 27,000 against 77,000 in the theater of operations. Suvorov battled his way across the central Alpine spine all the way to Lake Constance, as a result of which the army returned from the Helvetic Republic to Russia with minimal casualties.[12] For this exploit, he became the fourth Generalissimo of Russia. He died in 1800 of illness in Saint Petersburg.

Suvorov was loved by Russian soldiers throughout his whole military life. He was respected for his truthfulness and honest service.[13]

Micheal Clodfelter, in his work "Warfare and Armed Conflicts", described Suvorov as the best general the French First Republic ever fought (with the possible exception of Archduke Charles).[14]

Early life


Alexander Suvorov was born into a noble family originating from Novgorod at the Moscow mansion of his maternal grandfather, Fedosey Manukov. His father, Vasily I. Suvorov [ru], was a general-in-chief and a senator in the Governing Senate, and was credited with translating Vauban's works into Russian.[15] His mother, Avdotya Fyodorovna (née Manukova), was the daughter of Fedosey Manukov. According to a family legend his paternal ancestor named Suvor[16] had emigrated from Karelia, at the time ruled by the Swedish Empire, with his family in 1622 and enlisted at the Russian service to serve Tsar Michael Feodorovich (his descendants became Suvorovs [ru]).[17][15] Suvorov himself narrated for the record the historical account of his family to his aide, colonel Anthing, telling particularly that his Swedish-born ancestor was of noble descent, having engaged under the Russian banner in the wars against the Tatars and Poles. These exploits were rewarded by Tsars with lands and peasants.[18] This version, however, was questioned recently by prominent Russian linguists, professors Nikolay Baskakov and Alexandra Superanskaya [ru], who pointed out that the word Suvorov more likely comes from the ancient Russian male name Suvor based on the adjective suvory, an equivalent of surovy, which means "severe" in Russian. Baskakov also pointed to the fact that the Suvorovs' family coat of arms lacks any Swedish symbols, implying its Russian origins.[19] Among the first of those who pointed to the Russian origin of the name were Empress Catherine II, who noted in a letter to Johann von Zimmerman in 1790: "It is beyond doubt that the name of the Suvorovs has long been noble, is Russian from time immemorial and resides in Russia", and Count Semyon Vorontsov in 1811, a person familiar with the Suvorovs.[20] Their views were supported by later historians: it was estimated that by 1699 there were at least 19 Russian landlord families of the same name in Russia, not counting their namesakes of lower status, and they all could not descend from a single foreigner who arrived only in 1622.[20] Moreover, genealogy studies indicated a Russian landowner named Suvor mentioned under the year 1498, whereas documents of the 16th century mention Vasily and Savely Suvorovs, with the last of them being a proven ancestor of General Alexander Suvorov.[20] The Swedish version of Suvorov's genealogy had been debunked in the Genealogical book of Russian nobility by V. Rummel and V. Golubtsov (1887) tracing Suvorov's ancestors from the 17th-century Tver gentry.[21] In 1756 Alexander Suvorov's first cousin, Sergey Ivanovich Suvorov, in his statement of background (skazka) for his son said that he did not have any proof of nobility; he started his genealogy from his great-grandfather, Grigory Ivanovich Suvorov, who served as a dvorovy boyar scion at Kashin.[21]

Suvorov speaking with General Gannibal


As a boy, Suvorov was a sickly child and his father assumed he would work in civil service as an adult. However, he proved to be an excellent learner, avidly studying mathematics, literature, philosophy, and geography, learning to read French, German, Polish, and Italian, and with his father's vast library devoted himself to intense study of military history, strategy, tactics, and several military authors including Plutarch, Quintus Curtius, Cornelius Nepos, Julius Caesar, and Charles XII. This also helped him develop a good understanding of engineering, siege warfare, artillery, and fortification.[7] He tried to overcome his physical ailments through rigorous exercise and exposure to hardship.[22] His father, however, insisted that he was not fit for the military. When Alexander was 12, General Gannibal, who lived in the neighborhood, overheard his father complaining about Alexander and asked to speak to the child. Gannibal was so impressed with the boy that he persuaded the father to allow him to pursue the career of his choice.[15]

Early career

Main articles: Seven Years' War, Third Silesian War, and Pomeranian War

First military experience

Suvorov entered the army in 1748 and served in the Semyonovsky Life Guard Regiment for six years. During this period he continued his studies attending classes at Cadet Corps of Land Forces. Suvorov was sent with diplomatic dispatches to Dresden and Vienna. To carry out these assignments on March 16, 1752, he received a diplomatic courier passport, signed by the Chancellor Count Alexey Bestuzhev-Ryumin.[23] Alexander next served on the College of War in 1756–58. From 1758 he was engaged in forming reserve units, and was commandant of Memel.[24] Suvorov gained his first battle experience fighting against the Prussians during the Seven Years' and the Third Silesian wars (1756–1763).[i] His first skirmish was on 25 July 1759, when, during the Seven Years' War, with a squadron of dragoons, Suvorov attacked and routed Prussian dragoons. He participated in the complete victory over Frederick the Great at the battle of Kunersdorf,[25] after which the so-called Miracle of the House of Brandenburg happened.

When Pyotr Semyonovich Saltykov, after his Kunersdorf victory, remained unmoved and did not even send Cossacks to pursue the fleeing enemy, Suvorov said to William Fermor: "if I were commander-in-chief, I would now go to Berlin". It is a simple observation, but a valid one. "In war, everything is simple", said one writer: "but this simplicity is given difficult". What Suvorov would have done in Saltykov's place was exactly what the Prussian king feared. He wrote to the queen that she should leave Berlin with the royal family in a hurry, and ordered to remove the archive, as the city may fall into enemy hands. Fortunately for Frederick, he faced not Suvorov.[26]


Imperial Russian Army in the Seven Years' War. Königsberg; Uniform:
1. General of the Infantry (Vasily Ivanovich Suvorov);
2. Musketeer of an infantry regiment;
3. Staff officer of a dragoon regiment (Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov).

Then, Alexander served under the command of General Major Maxim Berg [ru]. Suvorov successfully defended his positions at Reichenbach, but contrary to his future rules did not pursue the retreating enemy, if the only surviving account of this action is accurate. At the skirmish of Schweidnitz, in a third assault, he managed to take the hill occupied by the hussar picket.[27] For another example, in the combat of Landsberg on 15 September 1761, his Cossack-hussar cavalry unit defeated 3 squadrons of the Prussian hussars.[28] On leaving the Friedberg Forest, he hit General Platen's side units and took many prisoners.[27] He also fought minor battles at Bunzelwitz, Birstein, Weisentine,[j] Költsch, and seized the small fortified town of Golnau.[29] After repeatedly distinguishing himself in battle Suvorov will become a colonel in 1762, aged around 33. Soon afterwards, following the capture of Golnau, he was given temporary command of the Tver Dragoon Regiment [ru], until the regimental commander recovered. Prussian observation detachments had spread far from Kolberg; Berg moved there in two columns, the left he led himself, and the right, which consisted of three Hussar, two Cossack, and Tver Dragoon regiments, he entrusted to Suvorov. In the village of Naugard[k] the Prussians positioned themselves with 2 battalions of infantry and a weak dragoon regiment. Forming his unit in two lines, Suvorov began the attack. He felled the dragoons, struck one of the battalions, killed many on the spot and took a hundred prisoners. But the other battalion was scattered in the village and made such a heavy fire from the houses, that the Russians could not hold, and had to retreat. At Stargard, Suvorov attacked the rearguard of Platen, but without success, because the action took place on frozen marshland, through which the Prussian infantry moved freely, while the horses of the Russian cavalry were falling through. Suvorov managed to avoid heavy losses.[29] The battles described took place at the same time as the siege of Kolberg (1761) in Pomerania.

Freemasonry, Berlin

It is stated that Suvorov visited Prussian Masonic lodge. He may have been, as he was an inquisitive man; but it is doubtful that he himself was ever a Freemason.[30] Just before his career in 1761, he took part in the raid on Berlin by Zakhar Chernyshev's forces (one year after the Kunersdorf). The Cossacks captured the boy. Suvorov took him in, took care of him during the whole campaign, and on arrival to the quarters sent to the widow, the boy's mother, a letter reading:

"Dear mother, your little son is safe with me. If you want to leave him with me, he will not lack anything and I will take care of him as if he were my own son. If you wish to keep him with you, you can take him from here or write me where to send him."

The mother wished for her son's return.[31]

Wars against Poland–Lithuania

Dissolution of the Bar Confederation (1768–1772)

Main article: Bar Confederation

Outbreak of war and setbacks

Suvorov next served in Poland during the Confederation of Bar. Leading a unit of the army of Ivan Ivanovich Weymarn [ru], he dispersed the Polish forces under Pułaski at Orzechowo, captured Kraków (1768), defeated the Polish troops of Moszyński at Opatów[32] and won against them in a small combat with Charles Dumouriez's army at Lanckorona, but he failed in the storming of the Lanckorona Castle and then on 20 May 1771 at the mountain near the Tyniec Abbey, which included a strong redoubt enclosed by a palisade, trous de loup,[33] and strengthened with two guns.[34] The Russians under Suvorov and Lieutenant Colonel Shepelev captured the fortification twice, but were beaten back. Fearing to lose a lot of troops and time, Suvorov retreated.[33] It were among the few tactical setbacks in his career, however, these were not field engagements.

Slightly earlier than at Tyniec, however, Suvorov had won small victories over the Confederates at Rachów and Kraśnik, capturing an entire wagon train in the first of these clashes. By a happy coincidence, Suvorov survived in it. After their failure at the Lanckorona Castle, the Suzdals [ru] restored their reputation in Suvorov's eyes, not only at Kraśnik but also in Rachów. He wrote to Weymarn:[35]

The infantry acted with great subordination, and I made my peace with them.

Surrender of the Wawel Royal Castle. French officers pass their swords to Alexander V. Suvorov; author I. D. Schubert

Retaliatory strike

Follow-up clashes rectify Suvorov's situation: the battle of Lanckorona one day after an incident at Tyniec, where Dumouriez, the future hero of the French Republic, was severely defeated; the combat of Zamość on 22 May that year;[36] the battle of Stołowicze; and the siege of the Wawel Castle (Kraków Castle), where the French and the szlachta, under the leadership of Brigadier Marquess Gabriel de Claude, made a sortie from the fortifications, and a force of Tyniec moved towards them — the Poles and their French allies were "defeated by brutal shooting and put to flight",[37] paving the way for the first partition of Poland between Austria, Prussia and Russia.[38] Suvorov meanwhile reached the rank of major-general.

Suvorov near Praga
Suvorov entering Warsaw in 1794

Battles against Polish uprising (1794)

Main article: Kościuszko Uprising

Turning victories

Immediately after signing the Treaty of Jassy with the Ottoman Empire, Suvorov was transferred to Poland where he assumed the command of one of the corps and led the victorious battles of Dywin, Kobryń, Krupczyce (now part of Chyzhevshchyna), and the battle of Brest where he crushed the Polish commander Karol Sierakowski. He also won the battle at Kobyłka.

Triumph and tragedy in Praga

On November 4, 1794, Suvorov's forces stormed Warsaw, held by Józef Zajączek's troops, and captured Praga, one of its boroughs (suburb). The massacre of 12,000[39][l] to 20,000?[40][m] civilians in Praga broke the spirits of the defenders and soon put an end to the Kościuszko Uprising. During the event, Russian forces looted and burned the entire borough. This carnage was committed by the troops in revenge for the slaughter of the Russian Garrison in Warsaw during the Warsaw Uprising in April 1794, when up to 4,000 Russian soldiers died.[41] According to some sources[42] the massacre was the deed of Cossacks who were semi-independent and were not directly subordinate to Suvorov. The Russian general supposedly tried to stop the massacre and even went to the extent of ordering the destruction of the bridge to Warsaw over the Vistula River[43] with the purpose of preventing the spread of violence to Warsaw from its suburb. Other historians dispute this,[44] but most sources make no reference to Suvorov either deliberately encouraging or attempting to prevent the massacre.[45][46][47] "I have shed rivers of blood," the troubled Suvorov confessed, "and this horrifies me".[7]

Culmination, end of campaign

Despite early successes on a battlefield, the organizer of the uprising, Tadeusz Kościuszko, was captured by the Don Cossack Fyodor P. Denisov [ru] at the battle of Maciejowice, where Kościuszko was defeated at the hand of Fersen's [ru] larger forces. Suvorov's and other Russians' victories led to the third partition of Poland. He sent a report to his sovereign consisting of only three words:

"Hurrah, Warsaw's ours!" (Ура, Варшава наша!).

Catherine replied in two words:

"Hurrah, Field-Marshal!" (rus. Ура, фельдмаршал! – that is, awarding him this rank).

The newly appointed field marshal remained in Poland until 1795, when he returned to Saint Petersburg. But his sovereign and friend Catherine died in 1796, and her son and successor Paul I dismissed the veteran in disgrace.[11]

Wars with the Ottoman Empire

1st war against the Ottomans

Main article: Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774

The Ottoman state

The Turkish empire, once formidable, had already undergone a major transformation by this era. The rude but strong force that had bound the heterogeneous parts of the empire had weakened, and the state began to show signs of a disintegration. The absence of lawfulness in the whole state organism, venality, despotism brought to an ideal, these were the elements of the internal life of Ottoman Empire. Such striking decay occurred mainly due to the personal qualities of the Turkish sovereigns. A long row of the first governors of Ottoman Empire consisted of individuals capable, energetic, quite appropriate to their position; the subsequent Turkish governors were distinguished by the opposite properties. They locked themselves in harems and let the viziers rule; stagnation and decline followed. Despotism, in the sense of the most important state principle, remained, but lost its character as a driving force and turned into selfish autocracy and tyranny. All of the above was also reflected in the war effort. In an era that opened Europe's eyes to the true importance of Turkey, Turks still retained many of the qualities of good soldiers.[48]


Battle of Kozludzha (now Suvorovo in memory of Suvorov's victory)

The Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774 saw his first successful campaigns against the Turks in 1773–1774, and particularly in the battle of Kozludža. During the same conflict, the Imperial Russian Navy triumphed over the Ottoman Navy at the battle of Cheshme, and Peter (Pyotr) Rumyantsev, likewise one of the most capable Russian commanders of the era, routed the Ottomans at the battle of Kagul.

Suvorov laid the foundations of his reputation, becoming a lieutenant-general in 1774. His later earned victories against the Ottomans, such as the storming of Turtukaya and repelling the assault on Hirsovo fortress with a subsequent counterattack,[49] bolstered the morale of his soldiers who were usually outnumbered. Following the capture of Turtukaya, even before sunrise, Suvorov wrote in pencil on a small piece of paper and sent to Count Ivan Saltykov the following short report: "Your Excellency, we have won; thank God, thank you". Suvorov also sent another report to the Commander-in-Chief Rumyantsev, consisting of couplets:[50]

Glory to God, glory to you,
Turtukaya was taken and I am over there.

The war ended with the treaty of Küçük Kaynarca. Suvorov's astuteness in war was uncanny and he also proved a self-willed subordinate who acted upon his own initiative. For "unauthorized actions against the Turks", Suvorov was tried and sentenced to death but Tsarina Catherine the Great refused to uphold the verdict, proclaiming "winners can't be judged".[22] However, Rumyantsev's putting Suvorov on trial for his arbitrary reconnaissance of Turtukaya belongs to the realm of pure fiction. Rumyantsev was not dissatisfied with Suvorov, but with Ivan Saltykov. Several reconnaissances had been made from Saltykov's division and one of them very unsuccessful. Colonel Prince Repnin was taken prisoner with 3 staff officers, more than 200 Russians were killed and missing, 2 ships, and 2 cannons were recaptured.[51]

2nd war against the Ottomans

Main article: Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792


A wounded Suvorov saved by Grenadier Novikov at the Battle of Kinburn
Struggle around the Kinburn Spit.
Christian von Mechel

From 1787 to 1791, under the overall command of Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin, he again fought the Turks during the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792 and won many victories; he was wounded twice at the hard-won Kinburn engagement (1787) and saved only thanks to the intervention of the grenadier Stepan Novikov. Suvorov took part in the costly siege of Ochakov. Energetic Alexander Suvorov proposed to take the fortress by storm, but Potemkin was cautious. "Not such ways we beat the Poles and Turks," Suvorov said in a close group of people; "one look will not take the fortress. If you had listened to me, Ochakov would have been in our hands long ago".[52] The siege was supported by a blockade of the Black Sea flotilla of Charles Henri de Nassau-Siegen under John Paul Jones.

Alexander V. Suvorov,
end of XIX century

The apex of military deeds

In 1789, after the joint Russian and Habsburg victorious battle of Focșani, he and the talented Austro-Bavarian general Josias of Coburg fought most decisive victories in their career. First at the battle of Rymnik, where, despite the vast inferiority in numbers (a Russo-Austrian force of 25,000 against 100,000 Turks), Suvorov persuaded the Austrian commander to attack;[53] with the bold flanking maneuver of Suvorov and the resilience of the Austrians, together they routed the Ottoman army within a few hours, losing only 500 men in the process. Suvorov earned the nickname "General Forward" for the latter victory;[54] Catherine the Great made Suvorov a count with the name "Rymniksky" (or Rimniksky[10]) in addition to his own name, and the Emperor Joseph II made him a count of the Holy Roman Empire.

The second one came at the storming of Izmail in Bessarabia on 22 December 1790. His capture of the reputedly unconquerable fortress played a vital role in Russia's victory in the war.[22] Turkish forces inside the fortress had the orders to stand their ground to the end and haughtily declined the Russian ultimatum. Despite the fact that Mehmed Pasha was a resolute and firm commander, and inflicted serious losses on the Russians, the destruction of his army could not be avoided. Their defeat was seen as a major catastrophe in the Ottoman Empire, and in Russian military history there has never been a similar instantaneous storming of a fortress in terms of numbers and casualties as that of Izmail, much less without a proper siege. An unofficial Russian national anthem in the late 18th and early 19th centuries "Grom pobedy, razdavaysya!" ("Let the Thunder of Victory Rumble!"; by Gavrila Derzhavin and Józef Kozłowski) immortalized Suvorov's victory and 24 December is today commemorated as a Day of Military Honour in Russia. In this war Fyodor Ushakov also won many famous naval victories, as in the battle of Tendra. Suvorov announced the capture of Ismail in 1791 to the Empress Catherine in a doggerel couplet.[6] The war ended with the treaty of Jassy.

Cossack Rebellion (1774)

From 1774 to 1797, Suvorov stayed and served in Russia itself, that is, in Transvolga or "Zavolzhye", in Astrakhan, Kremenchug, the Russian capital Saint Petersburg; in Crimea, or, more accurately, Little Tartary (Kuban which is in the North Caucasus, and Kherson); in the recently former Poland (Tulchin, Kobrin); and in Swedish Finland.

In the footsteps of Pugachev

Main article: Pugachev's Rebellion

In 1774, Suvorov was dispatched to suppress Pugachev's Rebellion, whose leader Yemelyan Pugachev claimed to be the assassinated Tsar Peter III. Pyotr Panin, appointed for operations against Pugachev, asked to appoint a general to assist him, who could replace him in case of illness or death. On the very day of the arrival of the news of Pugachev's passage to the right bank of the Volga, Rumyantsev sent orders — to send Suvorov to Moscow as soon as possible. Suvorov, who was in Moldavia, immediately rushed out at full speed, met in Moscow with his wife and father. On the order left by Panin, in one caftan and without luggage, raced to the village of Ukholovo, between Shatsk and Pereyaslavl Ryazansky. He arrived in Ukholovo on September 3 (NS), just at the time when Panin received notice of Alexander Vasilyevich's appointment. Panin gave him broad powers and ordered the military and civil authorities — to execute all Suvorov's orders.[55]

Colonel Ivan Yakovlevich Simonov, commandant of Yaitsk, transfers E. I. Pugachev to A. V. Suvorov on September 16, 1774. By Christian Gottlieb Geyser.

After receiving instructions, Suvorov the same day set out on the road, in the direction of Arzamas and Penza to Saratov, with a small escort of 50 men. Panin reported to the Empress on the rapid performance of his new subordinate, which promised in the circumstances of the time a lot of good ahead and therefore worthy of attention. Thanking him for such zeal and speed, the Empress granted him 2,000 chervonets to equip the crew. Reaching Saratov, Suvorov learned that tireless Ivan Mikhelson, who like a shadow followed everywhere after Pugachev and repeatedly defeated him, again defeated him badly. Strengthening his detachment here, Suvorov hurried to Tsaritsyn, but a lot of horses went to Pugachev, there was a lack of them, and Suvorov was forced to continue the journey by water. Defeated by Mikhelson, Pugachev slipped away; having somehow crossed the Volga with a small number of his loyalists, he disappeared into the vast steppe. Hasty arrival of Suvorov in Tsaritsyn drew the attention of the Empress, who announced her pleasure to Count Panin. But Suvorov was still essentially late. However, Suvorov did not stop it, he assigned to his detachment 2 squadrons, 2 Cossack sotnias, using horses captured by Mikhelson has put on horseback 300 infantry, seized the 2 light guns and after spending less than a day on it all, crossed the Volga. Apparently, for reconnaissance on the rebels, he first moved upriver, came to a large village, which kept the Pugachev side, took 50 oxen, and then seeing that around the quiet, turned to the steppe. This vast steppe, which stretched for several hundred km., desolate, woodless, homeless, was a dead desert, where even without the enemy's weapons was threatened with death. Suvorov had very little bread; he ordered to kill, salt and bake on fire some of the taken cattle and use the slices of meat for people instead of bread, as he did in the last campaign of the Seven Years' War. Thus secured for some time, Suvorov's detachment went deeper into the steppe. They followed the sun by day and the stars by night; there were no roads, they followed the traces and moved as fast as they could, not paying attention to any atmospheric changes, because there was no place to hide from them. In different places Suvorov was overtaken and joined by several detachments, who went before him from Tsaritsyn; September 23 (NS), he came to the Maly Uzen River, divided his squad into four parts and went to the Bolshoy Uzen in different directions. Soon they stumbled on Pugachev's trail; they found out that Pugachev was here in the morning, that his men, seeing an unstoppable pursuit, lost faith in the success of their cause, revolted, tied Pugachev and took him to Yaitsk, in order to extradite the leader to save themselves. And indeed Pugachev was arrested, as it turned out later, at this time, some 53 km from Suvorov.[56] Suvorov arrived at the scene only in time to conduct the first interrogation of the rebel leader, but Suvorov missed the chance to defeat him in battle, who, as it happens, had been betrayed by his fellow Cossacks and was eventually beheaded in Moscow.

Kuban & Crimea


Suppression of the Nogai rebellion

Main article: Kuban Nogai Uprising

As a result of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774, the Crimean Khanate became independent of the Ottomans, but in fact became a Russian protectorate (1774 to 1783). The Russian-imposed Şahin Giray proved unpopular. The Kuban Nogais remained hostile to the Russian government. From the end of January 1777, Suvorov set about building new fortifications at Kuban, despite the severe cold and predator raids, suggesting that the entire cordon should be shortened somewhat, and that it should be connected to the Azov-Mozdok fortified line [ru]. There were only about 12,000 men under Suvorov's command. He explored the region, more than 30 fortifications were built, and the order of service at the cordon was changed. Attacks from across the Kuban ceased; Tatars, guarded against the unrest of Turkish Zakuban [ru] emissaries and from the raids of predators, were pacified, and, most importantly, began to make sure that the Russians really had good intentions towards them. But the peace was short-lived, however. Intelligent Rumyantsev could not fail to appreciate the fruitful activities of Suvorov in Kuban and spoke of him with pleasure and praise.[57]

By 1781, the situation in the Crimean Khanate, especially in the North-West Caucasus, had heated up to the limit. Dissatisfaction with the Khan and the withdrawal of Russian troops led to an uprising of the Kuban Nogais at the beginning of the year. By July 1782, the uprising had spread to Crimea. This first insurrection was suppressed by the returning Russian troops at the end of 1782. In 1783, Suvorov with complete surprise for the rebels crossed the Kuban River and in the battle of the Laba on 1 October decisively quelled the second Nogai uprising, which, in turn, was triggered by Catherine's manifesto, declaring Crimea, Taman, and Kuban as Russian possessions.[58] At the Laba, Nogai losses amounted to 4,000.[59] Suvorov became General of the Infantry in 1786, upon completion of his tour of duty in the Caucasus.

Suvorov, Alexander Vasilyevich (Aleksandr Vasilyevitch); 1786; by Dmitry Levitsky

Crimea (Little Tartary)

Christian resettlement

Main article: Emigration of Christians from the Crimea (1778)

On behalf of Empress Catherine II, Suvorov participated in a tragic incident — the forced resettlement of Christians from the Crimea.[7] The possession of the Crimea did not seem secure for Russia at that time. Russia had to extract all it could from the Crimea, and this was achieved by resettling Christians, mainly of Greek and Armenian nationalities, from the Crimea: they had industry, horticulture and agriculture in their hands, which constituted a significant part of the Crimean Khan's income. The fact that the Crimean Christians were burdened to the last degree by the Khan's extortions and, therefore, the tax exemption granted to them in the new place should have inclined them in favor of the measure conceived by the Russian government, was in favor of the feasibility of resettlement. Thus the matter was resolved and Suvorov was entrusted with its execution.[60] In the second half of September 1778 the resettlement ended. More than 31,000 souls were evicted; the Greeks were mostly settled between the rivers Berda [ru] and Kalmius, along the river Solyonaya [ru] and all the way to Azov; the Armenians near Rostov and generally on the Don. Rumyantsev reported to the Empress that "the withdrawal of the Christians can be regarded as a conquest of a noble province". Only 130,000 rubles were spent for transportation and food. Food itself cost very cheap, because Suvorov bought from the same Christians 50,000 quarters of bread, which, coming locally to the shops, cost half as much as delivered from Russia, what resulted in savings of 100,000 rubles. Suvorov's orders were distinguished by remarkable and calculated prudence, he had put his heart into this business. More than half a year later, when the case was almost submitted to the archives, Suvorov still felt as if he had a moral obligation towards the settlers and wrote to Potemkin:[61]

"The Crimean settlers suffer many shortcomings in their present state; look upon them with a merciful eye, who have sacrificed so much to the throne; relish their bitter remembrance."

After Suvorov organized the resettlement of Armenian migrants displaced from Crimea, he gave them permission to establish a new city, named Nor Nakhichevan by the Armenians. In addition, he would later found the city of Tiraspol (1792), now the capital of Transnistria.

In 1778 Alexander as well prevented a Turkish landing on the Crimean Peninsula, thwarting another Russo-Turkish war.[7] He commanded the Russian troops in the Crimea from 1782 to 1784.


Going to Kherson (1792), Suvorov received quite a detailed instruction. He was entrusted with command over the troops in the Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Taurida Oblast and the territory newly annexed from Ottoman Turkey, with the responsibility to manage the fortification works there. Black Sea Fleet was under the command of Vice-Admiral Nikolay Mordvinov, and a rowing fleet under the command of Major-General Osip Deribas, who was dependent on Suvorov only for troops in the fleet. Suvorov was ordered to inspect the troops to ascertain their condition and replenish what was missing, to survey the coast and borders, and submit his opinion on bringing them to safety from accidental attack; he was also allowed to change the disposition of the troops without giving any reason for neighbors to think that the Russians were anxious;—finally, he was ordered to collect and submit notifications from abroad.[62]

Russian commander Alexander V. Suvorov. Lithography, 1818. (The engraving after the pastel portrait of Alexander Suvorov by J.H. Schmidt, 1800)

Engineering occupied the most prominent place in Suvorov's activities in the south, as well as in Finland. The plans signed by him were preserved: the project of the Phanagoria fortress, three projects of fortifications of the Kinburn Spit and Dnieper–Bug estuary, plan of the Kinburn fortress, main logistics center of Tiraspol, fort of Hacıdere (Ovidiopol) on DnieperBug estuary, Khadjibey (Odessa) and Sevastopol (Akhtiar) fortifications. Some of these were built during his time there and have progressed considerably, others had only just begun; there were also fortifications remained in the project due to short time and lack of money. At Sevastopol four forts were started, including 2 casemated; in Khadjibey was placed a military harbor with a merchant pier, according to François Sainte de Wollant's plans, under the direct supervision of Deribas and supreme surveillance of Suvorov.[63]


In Tulchin he contributed to the training of troops (1796). On arriving in Tulchin, Suvorov first of all paid attention to the welfare of the soldiers. There were huge numbers dying, as in epidemic times, especially at work in the port of Odessa, where the annual percentage of deaths reached up to 1/4 of the entire staff of the troops, and one separate team died out almost entirely. The reason: many generals were suppliers to the troops; the builder of Odessa Deribas capitalised terribly on this. Against all the evils detected, Suvorov took immediate measures, akin to those of the previous ones, and watched their execution vigilantly. Barely two months have passed before the death rate in Odessa fell fourfold, and in some other places the percentage of deaths was even closer to normal, and in August it was below normal.[64]

Finland (1791–1792)

A feast was held in Russia to commemorate glorious military exploits, especially the storming of Izmail. The presence at the celebration of the true hero of the day, Suvorov, could not fail to take place. A few days before the feast, May 6 (NS), 1791, Suvorov received from Potemkin command of the Empress — to go around Finland to the Swedish border, in order to design a border fortifications. Suvorov went willingly, just to get rid of his inactivity, the region was familiar to him, as 17 years ago he had already traveled around the Swedish border, and although the present task seemed more difficult, but with his usual energy and diligence, Suvorov completed it in less than 4 weeks.[65] The Empress treated with full approval of Suvorov's construction works.[66]

During the harsh Finnish spring, he traveled in sledges in the wild backwoods of the Russian-Swedish border, enduring hardships that a military man of high position does not know even in wartime. In fact, repeated the same old thing: Suvorov had already traveled in winter inclement weather, riding on a Cossack horse, without luggage, to Izmail.[65]

Suvorov lived in different places in Finland, depending on the need: in Vyborg, Kymenegarde, Rochensalm. In Kymenegarde he left a memory of his concern for the Orthodox Church, he sent a church choir director from St. Petersburg to train the local choir, bought different church things for several hundred rubles. Here he formed a circle of acquaintances, free from service time spent fun; Suvorov often danced, and in a letter to Dmitry Khvostov bragged that once he "contradanced for three hours straight".[67]

Relations with Paul

Alexander Suvorov in disgrace

Suvorov remained a close confidant of Catherine, but he had a negative relationship with her son and heir apparent Paul. As a prince, Paul became fanatically interested in the flashy but dysfunctional uniforms, parades, drills, and common corporal punishments of the Prussian Army. He even had his own regiment of Russian soldiers whom he dressed up in Prussian-style uniforms and paraded around. Suvorov was strongly opposed to these uniforms and had fought hard for Catherine to get rid of similar uniforms that were used by Russians up until 1784.[11]

An exiled Suvorov receiving orders to lead the Russian Army against Napoleon

When Catherine died of a stroke in 1796, Paul I was crowned Emperor and brought back these outdated uniforms.[7] It is considered that in the same year the Golden Age [ru] of Russian nobility and of the Russian Empire came to an end, along with Catherine the Great.[68] Suvorov was not happy with Paul's reforms and disregarded his orders to train new soldiers in this Prussian manner, which he considered cruel and useless.[7] Paul was infuriated and dismissed Suvorov, exiling him to his estate Konchanskoye [ru] near Borovichi and kept under surveillance. His correspondence with his wife, who had remained at Moscow for his marriage relations had not been happy, was also tampered with. It is recorded that on Sundays he tolled the bell for church and sang among the rustics in the village choir. On week days he worked among them in a smock-frock.[11]

Suvorov's departure from the village of Konchanskoye for the 1799 campaign. Oil painting by Nikolay Shabunin [ru]. Suvorov Memorial Museum.

Italian and Swiss expedition of 1799

Main articles: French Revolutionary Wars and War of the Second Coalition

Suvorov's Italian campaign

Main article: Italian and Swiss expedition § Italian campaign

General coverage of events

Suvorov in Milan, April 1799; by Adolf Charlemagne

In February 1799, Paul I, worried about the victories of France in Europe during the French Revolutionary Wars and at the insistence of the coalition leaders, was forced to reinstate Suvorov as field marshal.[11] Alexander Suvorov was given command of the Austro-Russian army and sent to drive France's forces out of Italy.

Suvorov and Napoleon never met in battle because Napoleon was campaigning in Egypt and Syria at the time. However, in 1799, Suvorov erased practically all of the gains Napoleon had made for France in northern Italy during 1796 and 1797, defeating some of the republic's top generals: Moreau and Schérer at the Adda River (Lecco, Vaprio d'Adda, Cassano d'Adda, Verderio Superiore), again Moreau at San Giuliano (Spinetta Marengo[n]), MacDonald near the rivers of Tidone,[o] Trebbia,[p] Nure[q] at the Trebbia campaign,[r] and Joubert along with Moreau at Novi;[7] but the Russians lost the battle of Bassignana. All the major battles (Adda, Trebbia, Novi) are of the most decisive nature.[69] Besides, the following Italian fortresses fell before Suvorov: Brescia (21 April); Peschiera del Garda, Tortona, Pizzighettone (April); Alessandria, Mantua (July). Suvorov captured Milan and Turin, as well as citadels of these cities, and became a hero to those who opposed the French Revolution. The British drawn many caricatures dedicated to Suvorov's expedition.[s]

The French client states Cisalpine Republic and Piedmontese Republic collapsed in the face of Suvorov's onset. Admiral Ushakov, sent to the Mediterranean for support to Suvorov, in 1799 completed the five-month siege of Corfu (1798–1799) and put an end to the French occupation of the Ionian Islands in Greece. On receiving news of the capture of Corfu, Suvorov exclaimed:[70]

Our Great Peter is alive! What he, after defeating the Swedish fleet near Åland in 1714, said, namely that nature has produced only one Russia: she has no rival, — we see it now. Hooray! To the Russian fleet!.. I now say to myself: why wasn't I at least a midshipman at Corfu?

Two resounding victories: Trebbia and Novi

Suvorov victorious at the Battle of the Trebbia. Painting by Alexander Kotzebue.
Hermitage Museum
The heaviest battle in the career of Suvorov: at Novi, 15 August 1799. Painting by Alexander Kotzebue.
Hermitage Museum

The sister republic in the south, the Parthenopean, also fell before the British Royal Navy and the local rebels, since Jacques MacDonald at the head of the Army of Naples was forced to abandon southern Italy to meet Suvorov at the Trebbia, leaving only weak garrisons in the Neapolitan lands. MacDonald attacked Ott's small force, whereupon Suvorov quickly concentrated most of his army against MacDonald and threw his men into the fray immediately after a hard march. This confrontation near the Trebbia proved to be the heaviest French defeat of the Italian campaign: by the end of the retreat, MacDonald had barely 10,000 to 12,000[t] men left out of an army of 35,000.[72] The battle of Novi, on the other hand, is the most difficult victory in Suvorov's career, largely because the French had strong defensive positions and the Allies could not fully deploy their superior cavalry as a consequence;[73] however, the Russo-Austrian victory turned into a complete rout for the French army. Its troops lost 16,000 of their comrades-in-arms (in total) and were driven from Italy, save for a handful in the Maritime Alps and around Genoa.[74] But the Hofkriegsrat did not choose to take advantage, and sent Suvorov with his Austrian and Russian forces to Switzerland. Suvorov himself gained the rank of "Prince of the House of Savoy" from the King of Sardinia, and after the Trebbian battle — the title of "Prince of Italy" (or Knyaz Italiysky).

Detailed assessment of all battles

Like Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Frederick II the Great, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Caesar, in military affairs Alexander Vasilyevich was not vulnerable at any point, rushing with speed to the most important places, and observed the principle of force concentration all his life:[75] at San Giuliano Vecchio [it] (1st Marengo), for example, his troops gathered more than double superiority,[76] and at Novi not so considerable, but at least reaching about 38 per cent, which was still compensated by the French army's favourable position.[77] At the combat of Lecco there was virtually no advantage on either side, but at the beginning, before the reinforcements, the Russian troops were far inferior in numbers. At the combat of Vaprio (part of Cassano), passing through a river obstacle, the Coalition eventually managed to concentrate 1/2 more troops in practice than the French did, largely also at the expense of the Cossacks; although in the middle of the battle the French had a twofold preponderance in numbers. In the end there were about 11,000 Austrians and Cossacks versus 7,000 French; and it is significant to mention that French troops began to give up their footholds before the remaining Austrian battalions arrived. It cannot be said that the outcome of the combat at Vaprio d'Adda could have been the only outcome: the timely arrival of 3,000 of Sérurier's, 6,000 of Victor's (2,000 he could abandon in Cassano d'Adda on the way), would be 16,000 French, led by skilful Moreau, against 11,000 of the enemy.[78] At Cassano d'Adda, Suvorov allocated about 13,000 Austrians against approximately 3,000 French from the divisions of Paul Grenier and Claude-Victor (along with reinforcements), who had taken up strong defences behind the stream; but it was the combat of Vaprio that was decisive and pivotal. At Verderio the Sérurier detachment, cut off during the combat at Vaprio d'Adda, was surrounded and pinned down by the river. Thus, with roughly equal strength overall, having a minimum of 65,000 men at his disposal against the 58,000 available for active operations in the field[79] as part of the French Army of Italy, Suvorov was able to scoop up every advantage to win a complete victory at the battle of Cassano.[80] The blame lies with Barthélemy Schérer: he scattered an even cordon along the whole river; on the more important stretch from Lecco to Cassano d'Adda, 42 km, there were no more than 12,000; meanwhile Suvorov had 42,000 on the same stretch.[81]

The portrait of Suvorov by Johann Heinrich Schmidt
Coat of arms of Alexander Suvorov-Rymniksky, Prince of Italy

Near the Trebbia, in contrast to the above, MacDonald had one and a half superiority; this circumstance is explained by the fact that Kray, despite the order of Suvorov, did not send him reinforcements, based on the direct command of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II not to separate any forces before the surrender of Mantua. It was too late for the commander-in-chief to find out.[82] At the battle of the Trebbia on the first day at the Tidone River, the French had 19,000 men against his 14–15,000,[83] and were thrown back. By the Trebbia River itself on the second day the forces were equal, and on the third day Suvorov, with some 22,000 men, beat MacDonald's force of 33,000 to 35,000. Suvorov then rushed into a fighting pursuit, and at the Nure River, similar to Verderio, an entire Auvergne Regiment was captured after a short battle.[84]

Despite the restraining influence of the Hofkriegsrat, Suvorov always held the initiative in his hands when dealing with the enemy. If the French sometimes tried to catch him (e.g., the movements of Moreau and MacDonald to join at Tortona), the Allies concentrated and dealt brutal blows like at the Trebbia. As for Novi, Joubert, advancing from Genoa to Tortona and expecting to catch the Allied Field Army scattered, unexpectedly met Suvorov with his "strike fist" behind Novi Ligure.[85] But perseverance in the battle of Novi came to the point that when the Russian attacks were unsuccessful, Suvorov got off his horse and, rolling on the ground, shouted: "dig a grave for me, I will not survive this day", and then resumed his attacks. Moreau spoke of Suvorov in this way:[86]

"What can you say of a general so resolute to a superhuman degree, and who would perish himself and let his army perish to the last man rather than retreat a single pace."

Campaign environment

As a disadvantage to his decisiveness, Field Marshal Suvorov, famous for the storming of Izmail, did not want to storm the citadels of Italian cities, and preferred to resort, in accordance with the situation, to blockade and siege.[87] Nevertheless, during the Italian campaign of 1799 Suvorov's talent expressed itself fully and comprehensively. When assessing Suvorov's actions, one must always keep in mind the unfavourable situation for the commander, the environment in which he was:—meaning mainly the inconvenience of commanding the Allied troops, originating from the difference in political aspirations of the Allied governments, and the binding influence of the Hofkriegsrat.[88]

The Polish forces had a no small quantity of militias, and the Turks and Tartars were largely unstable hordes. True, all these opponents were characterised by fanatical bravery, it was not easy for Suvorov to overcome them; the wars brought Suvorov practice, from which he took out extensive experience, his talent gradually developed and strengthened in this fight, the commander learned the essence, the spirit of war.[89] In 1799 Suvorov for the first time made a campaign in the conditions of European warfare. Enemies were troops purely regular, crowned with the glory of victories over the German armies (considered themselves the best in Europe), and were led by some of the best generals of the time,[88] including Jean Victor Moreau, a man in the prime of life (35), who was generally respected in the army, distinguished by his theoretical knowledge of the art of war and combat experience, affability and high intelligence. He was not a high-spirited genius, but the presence of mind and unwavering equanimity gave him the ability to come out with honour from the most critical circumstances. At any rate, after Bonaparte, he was the best French general of the time (the talented Lazare Hoche was no longer alive),[90] winning the famous victory at Hohenlinden a year later. The theater of war was not like those steppes, swamps and forests, among which the commander had hitherto fought.[88] In the war with the French Suvorov was not only commander-in-chief, independently acting in the theater of operations, but in addition he was in charge of the allied army — a matter even more difficult for a commander,[88] and in the battles of Cassano and Novi the Austrians formed the bulk of the army, while at Cassano only irregular Cossack troops participated from the Russian side, including the encirclement of the French detachment at Verderio. It should also be noted that Suvorov, being fiery and irritable, was able to restrain himself in many cases.[86]

Suvorov's Swiss campaign

Main article: Suvorov's Swiss campaign

Russian troops under Generalissimo Suvorov crossing the Alps in 1799 (by Vasily Surikov, 1899)

Defeat of the allied armies

After the victorious Italian theater, Suvorov planned to march on Paris, but instead was ordered to Switzerland to join up with the Russian forces already there and drive the French out. The Russian army under General Korsakov was defeated by André Masséna at Zürich, and Friedrich von Hotze's Austrian army was defeated by Jean-de-Dieu Soult at the Linth River before Suvorov could reach and unite with them all. "…I have defeated myself Jelačić and Lincken who are now pinned down in Glarus. Marshal Suvorov is surrounded on all sides. He will be the one forced to surrender!"—said Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor to Franz von Auffenberg and Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration.[91]

Surrounded by Masséna's 84,000 French troops,[92] Suvorov with a force of 18,000 Russian regulars and 5,000 Cossacks, exhausted and short of provisions, led a strategic withdrawal from the Alps while fighting off the French.

Fieldmarshal Suvorov on the peak of the Gotthard Pass, by Adolf Charlemagne

Early achievements

Early on in the path, going to join with the not yet defeated Korsakov, he struggled against general Claude Lecourbe and overcame the St. Gotthard and Oberalp[u] mountain passes. Suvorov's troops beat the French out of Hospental (situated in the Urseren valley), followed by the so-called Teufelsbrücke, or "Devil's Bridge", located in the Schoellenen Gorge, and the Urnerloch rock tunnel. All these interventions were not without great losses for Suvorov; but in his main attack, where he concentrated some 6,700 against 6,000 Frenchmen, he suffered relatively the same casualties as his opponent.[93] However, Suvorov's troops were at their wits' end.

Fighting for the Devil's Bridge

Russian troops of Andrey Grigoryevich Rosenberg crossed the Lukmanier Pass, Austrian troops of Franz Auffenberg overcame the Chrüzli Pass, while Suvorov himself also later traversed more remote passes such as Kinzig and Pragel. Marching over rocks had worn out the soldiers' inadequate footwear, of which many were now even deprived, uniforms were often in tatters, rifles and bayonets were rusting from the constant dampness, and the men were starving for lack of adequate supplies.[94] On September 29 (18 OS), still uncertain about the fate of Korsakov and Hotze, Suvorov assembled a council of war in the refectory of the Franciscan monastery of Saint Joseph, which decided to pave the way for the army toward Glarus. During the council the Russian commander showed himself extremely resolute not to surrender, blamed the Austrian allies for all the hardships they were forced to suffer, and proposed what appeared to him to be the only possible solution. Alexander Suvorov's speech was written down from the words of Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration, made a huge impression on everyone who attended:[95]

To go back is dishonorable. I have never retreated. Advancing to Schwyz[v] is impossible: Masséna commands more than 60,000 men and our troops do not reach 20,000. We are short of supplies, ammunition and artillery… We cannot expect help from anyone. We are on the edge of the precipice! All we have left is to rely on Almighty God and the courage and spirit of sacrifice of my troops! We are Russians! God is with us! [94]

Salvation and breakthrough

Between 30 September and 1 October, 1799, Suvorov's vanguard of 2,100[14] men, led by Bagration, was able to break through the Klöntal [de] valley[w] and reached the goal. It inflicted 1,000[14] killed or wounded, and another 1,000[14] captured to a French force of 6,500[14] men. However, Bagration tried to push further than Glarus, failing to do so: he was finally stopped by Molitor's troops. Meanwhile, on the same days, the rearguard of 7,000[96][14] men out of a total of 14,000, commanded by Andrey Rosenberg,[x] who, according to plan, was assigned the task of deterrence, met with Masséna's forces,[y] which numbered up to 15,000[14] men out of 24,000 in the Muotatal (Muota valley), formerly Muttental. Suvorov ordered to hold on there at all costs, and the rearguard, suffering about 500[96] casualties, routed the French by inflicting them from 2,700[14] to 3,000[97] losses in two days. Suvorov reported to Paul 6,500 French dead, wounded and prisoners of war in two days of fighting: 1,600 – September 30 and 4,500 – October 1.[98] While Suvorov was fighting the French, the short-lived Roman sister republic had also fallen before the troops of the restored Kingdom of Naples.

In the Altkirch Barracks in Andermatt, a mural painted in 1917 by Hans Beat Wieland in the officers' canteen commemorates the arrival of the Suvorov troops at the St. Gotthard Hospice on September 24, 1799, during the War of the Second Coalition.
Andermatt, Altkirch Barracks, UR
Cossacks over Klöntalersee by Ludwig Hess.
Zurich Central Library, Prints and Drawings Department and Photo Archive
Suvorov crossing the Panix Pass, painting by Alexander von Kotzebue
Suvorov Bidding Farewell to the Swiss People. Painting by Andrei Andreyevich Popov (1896).

Despite all the Russian successes on the battlefield, it was clear that the campaign could not be won for them. Suvorov hoped to make the way for his exhausted, ill-supplied troops over the Swiss passes to the Upper (Alpine) Rhine and arrive at Vorarlberg, where the army, much shattered after a lot of crossing and fighting, almost destitute of horses and artillery, went into winter quarters.[11] When Suvorov battled his way through the snow-capped Alps his army was checked but never defeated. Suvorov refused to call it a retreat and commenced a trek through the deep snows of the Panixer Pass and into the 9,000-foot mountains of the Bündner Oberland, by then deep in snow. Thousands of Russians slipped from the cliffs or succumbed to cold and hunger, eventually escaping encirclement and reached Chur on the Rhine, with the bulk of his army intact at 16,000 men.[99] After the troops reached Chur, they crossed another pass in the form of the St. Luzisteig, and hence left the territory of present-day Switzerland.

For this marvel of strategic retreat, earning him the nickname of the Russian Hannibal, Suvorov became the fourth Generalissimo of Russia. Historian Christopher Duffy, on the back cover of his book Eagles Over the Alps: Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland, 1799, called Suvorov's whole Italian and Swiss adventure a kind of Russian "crusade" against the forces of revolution.[100]


Recently, beginning with his involuntary stay in the village of Konchanskoye, Suvorov often felt unwell; when he returned to duty, he seemed to have recovered, but by the end of the Italian campaign again began to grow weak. Before the Swiss campaign, his weakness was so great that he could hardly walk, his eyes began to hurt more often than before; making itself felt the old wounds, especially on his leg, so that not always could put on a boot. The Swiss campaign made him even sicker; he began to complain of cold, which had never happened before; the cough, which had become attached to him some months before, did not leave him either, and the wind became particularly sensitive.[101] He was officially promised a military triumph in Russia, but Emperor Paul cancelled the ceremony and recalled the Russian armies from Europe, including the Batavian Republic after the unsuccessful Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland; and ultimately the French would regain all of their conquered possessions on the Italian Peninsula.

On the road from Switzerland to Russia

The return journey of Suvorov to Russia, interspersed with frequent stops due to policy fluctuations, lasted more than three months. This time, filled for Suvorov the cares for the troops, who terribly sacrificed during the Swiss campaign all their material part, in addition, was accompanied by many troubles — a legacy of previous events. But this trouble was far inferior to the mental agony, which Suvorov endured when leaving the theatre of war with a bitter awareness of the incomplete success of the Italian campaign and a total failure of the Swiss one. Correct this failure with new successes was his dream, which at first did not give him peace and entailed the hesitation and inconsistency in some of his actions. That campaign was a military affair glorious, sufficient for the enviable fighting reputation of any general, was for Suvorov a faint consolation, for there was nothing else in his past but the brilliant and glorious. He wanted what he had come here for from his Konchanskoye retreat — the expulsion of the French, the restoration of thrones, the triumph of religion; and the result was almost nothing of the kind. He was left with a bitterness in his heart which he took with him to his grave.[102]

Suvorov's name, which had grown during the Italian campaign, took on a double luster after the Swiss campaign, and when he retired from the theatre of war and entered Germany, he became the centre of attention. Travellers, diplomats and soldiers flocked to his destinations, especially on his longer stops in Lindau, Augsburg and Prague. A general reverence bordering on awe, ladies sought out the honour of kissing his hand, and he did not particularly resist this. Everywhere he was welcomed and seen off, though he avoided it; every social gathering was eager to have him as its guest.[103]

Russian society was proud of its hero and worshipped him enthusiastically. The Emperor Paul was a true representative of the national mood; he accompanied all his rescripts with expressions of the most gracious disposition to the Generalissimo, spoke of his unanimity with him, asked advice, and apologised for giving instructions himself. "Forgive me, Prince Alexander Vasilievich," wrote the tsar, "may the Lord God preserve you, and you preserve the Russian soldiers, of whom some were everywhere victorious because they were with you, and others were not victorious because they were not with you". In other rescript it has told:

"…excuse me, that I have taken it upon myself to give you advice; but as I only give it for preservation of my subjects, which have rendered me so much merit under your leadership, I am sure, that you with pleasure will accept it, knowing your affection to me."

In the third:

"I shall be pleased if you will come to me to advice and to love, after you have bring the Russian troops into our borders."

The fourth reads:

"It is not for me, my hero, to reward you, you are above my measures, but for me to feel it and appreciate it in my heart, giving you your due."

The Tsar had extended his courtesy to the point that, in reply to Suvorov's New Year greetings, he asked him to share them with his troops if he, the Tsar, was "worth it" and expressed his desire "to be worthy of such an army".[104]

Suvorov, Nelson, Coburg, and Charles

The famous Admiral Lord Nelson, who, according to the Russian ambassador in London, was at that time together with Suvorov the "idol" of the English nation, also sent the Generalissimo an enthusiastic letter. "There is no man in Europe," he wrote, "who loves you as I do; all marvel, like Nelson, at your great exploits, but he loves you for your contempt of wealth". Someone called Suvorov "the land Nelson"; Nelson was very flattered by this. Someone else said that there is a very great similarity in appearance between the Russian Generalissimo and the British Admiral. Rejoicing at this, Nelson added in a letter to Suvorov that although his, Nelson's, deeds can not equal with those of Suvorov, but he asked Suvorov not to deprive him of the dear name of a loving brother and sincere friend. Suvorov answered Nelson in the same way, and expressed his pleasure that their portraits certify the similarity existing between the originals, but in particular was proud of the fact that the two were alike in their way of thinking.[105]

Martha Fomina' House, where Alexander V. Suvorov repeatedly stayed in 1791, 1798 and died in 1800: Kryukov channel, 23, Admiralteysky District.

He also received a warm welcome from his old associate, the Prince of Coburg.[z] The Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich went to Coburg, through whom Suvorov conveyed a letter or bow to the Prince and through the same Grand Duke received a reply. The Prince called him the greatest hero of his time, thanked him for his memory, lamented the removal of the Russian army to the fatherland and lamented the bitter fate of Germany. Suvorov replied to the Prince and said among other things that the entire reason for the failure lies in the differences of systems, and if the systems do not come together, there is no point in starting a new campaign.[105]

Furthermore, a little earlier he had correspondence with Archduke Charles, which, however, was of a sharp nature.[106] Suvorov received greetings and congratulations even from strangers.[105]

St. Petersburg

Early in 1800, Suvorov returned to Saint Petersburg. Paul, for some reason, refused to give him an audience, and, worn out and ill, the old veteran died a few days afterwards on 18 May 1800, at Saint Petersburg.[11] The main reason for the newly emerged disfavor of Emperor Paul to Suvorov remains uncertain.[107] Suvorov was meant to receive the funeral honors of a Generalissimo, but was buried as an ordinary field marshal due to Paul's direct interference. Lord Whitworth, the British ambassador, and the poet Gavrila Derzhavin were the only persons of distinction present at the funeral.[11] Suvorov lies buried in the Church of the Annunciation in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery, the simple inscription on his grave stating, according to his own direction, "Here lies Suvorov".

Military record

Key to opponent flags

Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
Kingdom of France
Kingdom of France
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
(c. 1299–1922)
Crimean Khanate[ab]
Regency of Algiers
Regency of Algiers
Autonomous Republic of Crimea
Crimean Tatars
French First Republic
French Republic
Polish Legions
Helvetic Republic
Helvetic Republic[ac]
Piedmontese Republic[ad]
Cisalpine Republic[ae]
Summary (incomplete)
Date(s)[af] Clash(es)[ag] Type(s) Conflict(s) Opponent(s) Location(s) Outcome(s)
1. 4 May – 2 July 1758 Siege of Olmütz[citation needed] Siege Seven Years' War ? Margraviate of Moravia ?
2. 12 August 1759 Battle of Kunersdorf Open Battle Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Margraviate of Brandenburg Decisive victory
3. October 1760 Raid on Berlin Occupation Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Margraviate of Brandenburg Berlin occupied for three days
4. 1761 Combat of Reichenbach Open Battle Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Austrian Silesia Victory
5. 1761 Skirmish of Schweidnitz Open Battle Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Austrian Silesia Victory
6. 15 September 1761 Combat of Landsberg Open Battle Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Margraviate of Brandenburg Victory
7. 1761 Combat of the Friedberg Forest Open Battle Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Prussia Victory
8. 1761 Storming of Golnau[108] Storming Fortifications Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Prussia Victory
9. 1761 Assault on Neugarten[ah] FIBUA Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Prussia Defeat
10. 1761 Combat of Stargard Open Battle Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Province of Pomerania Inconclusive
11. 24 August – 16 December 1761 Third Siege of Kolberg Siege Seven Years' War
  • Third Silesian War
Kingdom of Prussia Province of Pomerania Victory
12. 13 September 1769 Battle of Orzechowo [ru] Open Battle War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Grand Duchy of Lithuania Victory
13. July 1770 Combat of Opatów Open Battle War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Sandomierz Voivodeship Victory
14. 20 February 1771 Lanckorona Open Battle War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Kingdom of France Kraków Voivodeship Victory
15. 20 February 1771 Lanckorona Storming Fortifications War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Kingdom of France Kraków Voivodeship Defeat
16. 27 February 1771 Assault on Rachów FIBUA War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Lublin Voivodeship Victory
17. 28 February 1771 Combat of Kraśnik Open Battle War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Lublin Voivodeship Victory
18. 20 May 1771 Action of the Tyniec Abbey [ru] Storming Fortifications War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Holy Roman Empire [109] Kraków Voivodeship Defeat
19. 21 May 1771 Lanckorona Open Battle War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Kingdom of France Holy Roman Empire Kraków Voivodeship Decisive victory
20. 22 May 1771 Combat of Zamość Open Battle War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Ruthenian Voivodeship Victory
21. 24 September 1771 Battle of Stołowicze Open Battle War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Grand Duchy of Lithuania Decisive victory
22. 24 January – 26 April 1772 Siege of the Kraków Castle Siege War of the Bar Confederation Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Kingdom of France Kraków Voivodeship Victory
23. 21 May 1773 Storming of Turtukaya [ru] Storming Fortifications Sixth Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Ottoman Bulgaria Victory
24. 14 September 1773 Defence of Hirsovo[110] Storming Fortifications;
Open Battle
Sixth Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Victory
25. 20 June 1774 Battle of Kozludzha Open Battle Sixth Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Ottoman Bulgaria Decisive victory
26. 1 October 1783 Battle of the Laba Open Battle Kuban Nogai Uprising Kuban Decisive victory
27. 12 October 1787 Battle of Kinburn Storming Fortifications;[111]
Open Battle
Seventh Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Regency of Algiers Silistra Eyalet Victory
28. July – 17 December 1788 Siege of Ochakov Siege Seventh Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Silistra Eyalet Victory
29. 1 August 1789 Battle of Focșani Open Battle Seventh Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Moldavia Victory
30. 22 September 1789 Battle of Rymnik Open Battle Seventh Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Wallachia Decisive victory
31. 22 December 1790 Storming of Izmail Storming Fortifications Seventh Russo-Turkish War Ottoman Empire Autonomous Republic of Crimea Silistra Eyalet Decisive victory
32. 1794 Combat of Dywin Open Battle Polish Campaign of 1794 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Grand Duchy of Lithuania Victory
33. 14 September 1794 Combat of Kobryń Open Battle Polish Campaign of 1794 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Brest Litovsk Voivodeship Victory
34. 17 September 1794 Battle of Krupczyce [ru] Open Battle Polish Campaign of 1794 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Brest Litovsk Voivodeship Victory
35. 19 September 1794 Battle of Terespol
(Battle of Brest)
Open Battle Polish Campaign of 1794 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Brest Litovsk Voivodeship Victory
36. 26 October 1794 Battle of Kobyłka [ru] Open Battle Polish Campaign of 1794 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Masovian Voivodeship Victory
37. 4 November 1794 Storming of Praga Storming Fortifications Polish Campaign of 1794 Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth Warsaw Decisive victory
38. 21 April 1799 Capture of Brescia [ru] Capitulation French Revolutionary Wars French First Republic Cisalpine Republic Victory
39. 26 April 1799
27–28 April 1799
Forcing of the Adda
  • Combat of Lecco[ak]
  • Battle of Cassano[al]
Open Battle;
Storming Fortifications
French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Italian campaign
French First Republic Poland Helvetic Republic [112] Cisalpine Republic Lecco:
Decisive victory
40. 16 May 1799 Battle of San Giuliano
(First Battle of Marengo)
Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Italian campaign
French First Republic Helvetic Republic [113] Piedmontese Republic Victory
41. 1799 Siege of the Turin Citadel[114] Siege French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Italian campaign
French First Republic Turin Victory
42. 17–20 June 1799 Campaign of the Trebbia[am]
  • Battle of the Tidone[an]
  • Battle of the Trebbia[ao]
  • Battle of the Nure[ap]
Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Italian campaign
French First Republic Poland Duchy of Parma Overall decisive victory
43. 15 August 1799 Battle of Novi Open Battle;
Storming Fortifications[115]
French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Italian campaign
French First Republic Poland [116] Piedmont Decisive victory
44. 24 September 1799 Battle of the Gotthard Pass Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars French First Republic Saint-Gotthard Massif Victory
45. 24 September 1799 Combat of Hospital[117] / Hospental[118] Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Swiss campaign
French First Republic Canton of Waldstätten Victory
46. 24 September 1799 Battle of Oberalpsee[117] / Operalp Pass[119] Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Swiss campaign
French First Republic Canton of Waldstätten;
Canton of Raetia
47. 25 September 1799 Combat of the Urnerloch[120] Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Swiss campaign
French First Republic Canton of Waldstätten Victory
48. 25 September 1799 Battle of the Devil's Bridge [ru] Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Swiss campaign
French First Republic Canton of Waldstätten Victory
49. 30 September – 1 October 1799 Battle of Klöntal Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Swiss campaign
French First Republic Canton of Linth Victory
50. 30 September – 1 October 1799 Battle of the Muttental [ru] Open Battle French Revolutionary Wars
  • War of the Second Coalition
    • Swiss campaign
French First Republic Canton of Waldstätten Decisive victory

Progeny and titles

In 1792, Suvorov founded Tiraspol, today the capital city of Transnistria. An equestrian statue of Suvorov stands in Suvorov Square, the central square of the city.

Suvorov's full name and titles (according to Russian pronunciation), ranks and awards are the following… "Aleksandr Vasilyevich Suvorov, Prince of Italy, Count of the Rymnik, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince of Sardinia, Generalissimus of Russia's Ground and Naval Forces, Marshal of the Austrian and Sardinian Armies". Seriously wounded six times, he was the recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, the Apostle First-Called (for the victory at Kinburn) + the diamond insignia of this order (for the victory at Focsani), Order of Saint George the Bringer of Victory First,[aq] Second,[ar] and Third[as] Classes, Order of Saint Vladimir First Class ("for the accession of various Zakuban [ru] peoples to the All-Russian Empire"), Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky (for the victory at Stołowicze) + the star of this order with diamonds "from Her Imperial Majesty's own clothes" (24.12.1780), Order of Saint Anna First Class (for the victory at Orzechowo), Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and Grand Commander's Cross, Order of the Black Eagle & Order of the Red Eagle (Prussia), Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation & Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Sardinia), Military Order of Maria Theresa First Class (Austria), Order of Saint Hubert (Bavaria), Royal Military and Hospitaller Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem united (France; from the exiled titular King Louis XVIII).[121]

27 (16 OS[9]) January 1774, Suvorov was married to Varvara Ivanovna Prozorovskaya [ru] of the Prozorovsky and Golitsyn noble families, and had a son Arkadi Suvorov and daughter Natalya Suvorova [ru] (in marriage Zubova), but his family life was not happy and he had an unpleasant relationship with his wife due to her infidelity. Suvorov's son, Arkadi Suvorov (1783–1811) served as a general officer in the Russian army during the Napoleonic and Ottoman wars of the early 19th century, and drowned in the same river Rymnik in 1811 that had brought his father so much fame. The drowning of his son in the river is supported by Aleksey Yermolov's memoirs,[122][self-published source?] as well as by the military historian Christopher Duffy.[123] His grandson Alexander Arkadievich (1804–1882) served as Governor General of Riga in 1848–61 and Saint Petersburg in 1861–66. Suvorov's daughter Natalya Alexandrovna (1775–1844) known under her name Suvorochka married Count Nikolay Zubov.


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His political views were centered around enlightened monarchy. However, Suvorov had no interest in pursuing politics and made his disdain for the court lifestyle and tendencies of aristocrats well known: he lacked diplomacy in his dispatches, and his sarcasm triggered enmity among some courtiers.[7] He joked with the men, calling common soldiers "brother" and shrewdly presented the results of detailed planning and careful strategy as the work of inspiration.[6]

Suvorov was a truly eccentric man.[124] In particular, such an episode is known: being with Potemkin in Kiev, Suvorov accidentally met with the French colonel Alexandre Lameth, a future figure of the revolution. Seeing the unfamiliar face of the foreigner, Suvorov approached him and asked him curtly: "Where are you from?" — Frenchman, replied Lameth, somewhat amazed at both the unexpectedness and the tone of the question; "What is your calling?" continued Suvorov. — Military, replied Lameth. — "What's your rank?" — Colonel. — "What's your name?" — Alexandre Lameth. — "All right!" said Suvorov, nodded his head, and turned to go on. Lameth was miffed at this cavalier attitude; he stood in Suvorov's way and, looking at him point-blank, began to ask the same questions in the same tone of voice. "Where do you come from?" — Russian, replied the not at all embarrassed Suvorov. — "What is your calling?" — Military. — "What's your rank?" — General. — "What's your name?" — Suvorov. — "All right!" — concluded Lameth. Both laughed and parted amicably.[125]

Suvorov's art of war

A.V. Suvorov by Joseph Kreutzinger

First and foremost, Russians have long cherished the memory of Suvorov as a great general. While on a campaign, he reportedly lived as a private soldier, sleeping on straw and contenting himself with the humblest fare.[126] Suvorov considered victory dependent on the morale, training, and initiative of the front-line soldier. In battle he emphasized speed and mobility, accuracy of gunfire and the use of the bayonet, as well as detailed planning and careful strategy.[11] Suvorov's motto: coup d'oeil (glazomer), speed (bystrota), impetus (natisk).[127] He abandoned traditional drills, and communicated with his troops in clear and understandable ways. Suvorov also took great care of his army's supplies and living conditions, reducing cases of illness among his soldiers dramatically, and earning their loyalty and affection.[11]

Suvorov "did not know retreat", he constantly acted offensively and in accordance with the situation was looking for a fight, not evaded it, but he did not overuse the battles, the fight always turned out to be appropriate, necessary in the operation, and moreover decisive; if he got the chance to confront his enemy, he used it with all the energy.[85]

He was seriously wounded six times in his military career. Suvorov's guiding principle was to detect the weakest point of an enemy and focus an attack upon that area. He would send forth his units in small groups as they arrived on the battlefield in order to sustain momentum. Suvorov utilized aimed fire instead of repeated barrages from line infantry and applied light infantrymen as skirmishers and sharpshooters. He used a variety of army sizes and types of formations against different foes: squares against the Turks, lines against Poles, and columns against the French.[7]

A.V. Suvorov (unknown artist)

According to D. S. Mirsky, Suvorov "gave much attention to the form of his correspondence, and especially of his orders of the day. These latter are highly original, deliberately aiming at unexpected and striking effects. Their style is a succession of nervous staccato sentences, which produce the effect of blow and flashes. Suvorov's official reports often assume a memorable and striking form. His writings are as different from the common run of classical prose as his tactics were from those of Frederick or Marlborough".[128]

Mikhail Ivanovich Dragomirov (1830–1905) declared that he based his teaching on Suvorov's practice, which he held as representative of the fundamental truths of war and of the military qualities of the Russian nation.[129]

Suvorov and Napoleon

Suvorov considered Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte to be the greatest military commanders of all time.[7] He had written to one of his nephews in 1796:[130]

"That young Bonaparte, how he moves! He is a hero, a giant, a magician. He overcomes nature and he overcomes men. He turned the Alps[at] as if they did not exist; he has hidden their frightful rocks in his pocket, and tucked up his army up the right sleeve of his uniform. The enemy scarcely catches sight his soldiers before he throws his troops at them like a thunderbolt from Jupiter, spreading terror in all directions, and crushing the scattered bands of Austrians and Piedmontese. My God, how he moves! The first time he assumed command he cut to the heart of tactics like a sword slashing through the Gordian Knot. He disregards the odds against him, he attacks the enemy wherever they are to be found, and he defeats them in detail. He knows that shock is irresistibe—and that says it all. His enemies will continue in their old routine, subject to the scribblers in the Cabinet, but as for him, he carries his council of war in his head. His operations are as free as the air he breathes… My conclusion is this. That as long as General Bonaparte keeps his wits about him he will be victorious; he possesses the higher elements of the military art in a happy balance. But if, unfortunately for him, he throws himself into the whirlpool of politics, he will lose the coference of his thoughts and he will be lost."

Suvorov with a Field-Marshal's baton (unknown author)

His high regard for Napoleon is interesting because he did not live to see the Napoleonic Wars. On the other hand, Napoleon didn't think Suvorov is an outstanding commander. Napoleon Bonaparte claimed that Suvorov had "the soul of a great commander, but not the brains. He was extremely strong willed, he was amazingly acrive and utterly fearless—but he was as devoid of genius as he was ignorant of the art of war".[130] Bonaparte considered his countryman Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, Viscount of Turenne to be the greatest modern commander.[131][132][133] Suvorov is often compared to Napoleon, whom he was on opposing sides of during the late French Revolutionary Wars and desired to face in battle, but never did so because Napoleon was campaigning in Egypt while Suvorov was campaigning in Italy. Military historians often debate between Suvorov and Napoleon as to who was the superior commander.[7]


Suvorov's tomb at Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Saint Petersburg

Suvorov was buried in Saint Petersburg in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. His gravestone states simply: "Here lies Suvorov".

Within a year after his death, Paul I was murdered in his bedroom for his disastrous leadership by a band of dismissed officers and his son and successor Alexander I erected a statue to Suvorov's memory in the Field of Mars.

Monument to Suvorov as youthful Mars, the Roman god of war, by Mikhail Kozlovsky in St. Petersburg (1801)

He was famed for his military writings, the most well-known being The Science of Victory (The Science of Winning) and Suzdal Regulations, and lesser-known works such as Rules for the Kuban and Crimean Corps, Rules for the Conduct of Military Actions in the Mountains (written during his Swiss campaign), and Rules for the Medical Officers. Suvorov was also noted for several of his sayings:

"What is difficult in training will become easy in a battle."

"The bullet is a mad thing; only the bayonet knows what it is about."

"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!"

Equestrian statue of General Suvorov at Elm, Switzerland.

A "Suvorov school" of generals who had apprenticed under him played a prominent role in the Russian military. Among them was future Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov who led the Imperial Russian Army against Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars, including the French invasion of Russia.[7] Suvorov, a follower of Peter I the Great and a pupil of Field Marshal Pyotr Alexandrovich Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky, brought up a pleiad of remarkable commanders and military leaders, among whom the most outstanding were, except for Kutuzov, Generals of the Infantry P. I. Bagration, M. A. Miloradovich. On his ideas were brought up Field Marshal D. A. Milyutin, Generals of the Infantry M. I. Dragomirov, M. D. Skobelev, General of the Cavalry A. A. Brusilov, and other famous military figures.[24]

The Suvorov Museum opened in Saint Petersburg in 1900 to commemorate the centenary of the general's death.[134] Apart from in St. Petersburg, other Suvorov museums and monuments have feature in Focșani, Ochakiv(-ov) [1907[au]], Sevastopol [1983], Tulchyn(-in) [1954], Kobryn(-in) [1949; 1950; 1964], Novaya Ladoga [1947], Kherson [1904], Tymanivka or Timanovka [1947; 1950], Simferopol [1984], Kaliningrad [1956], Konchanskoye-Suvorovskoye [1942], Râmnicu Sărat or Rymnik, Elm and Andermatt which are in the Swiss Alps.

The Suvorov Museum
Bust of Suvorov in Kherson
Suvorov monument in the Swiss Alps

During World War II, the Soviet Union revived the memory of many pre-1917 Russian heroes in order to raise patriotism. Suvorov was the Tsarist military figure most often referred to by Joseph Stalin, who also received (but did not personally use) the rank of Generalissimo that Suvorov had previously held. The Order of Suvorov was established by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on 29 July 1942, and it is still awarded to senior army personnel for exceptional leadership in combat operations against superior enemy forces.[135]

The town of Suvorovo in Varna Province, Bulgaria, was named after Suvorov during the communist period, as was the Russian ship which discovered Suwarrow Island in the Pacific in 1814.

Various currency notes of the Transnistrian ruble depict Suvorov.[136][137]

There is a Square in Tiraspol, Transnistria, named after Suvorov, and another in Saint Petersburg.

His prowess, military wisdom, and daring remain in high regard. Another of his many utterances are well known in the Russian military:

"Achieve victory not by numbers, but by knowing how."

"Train hard, fight easy. Train easy and you will have hard fighting."

"Train hard, fight easy" became a Russian proverb.[7]

Commander Suvorov Alexander Vasilyevich. Lithograph of 1828.
Engraved portrait of Generalissimo Suvorov, made in 1870, on which the victory at Rymnik is symbolically depicted in the center of the engraving.

Alexander Petrushevsky [ru] in third volume of his work Generalissimo Prince Suvorov quotes a small song of Russian soldiers about Alexander Suvorov, Pyotr Rumyantsev, and Grigory Potemkin:[138]

Count Rumyantsev-general
Lost a lot of strength.
Thief Potemkin-general
Was never in his own regiment,
He neglected all his strength:
Some of it he drank, some of it he squandered,
Some of it he lost at cards.
And Suvorov-general
Proved his strength,
He loaded a small cannon,
He took the king prisoner.

A bust of the Generalissimo is prominently displayed in the office of the Russian Minister of Defense.[citation needed]

In Russia, there are 12 secondary-level military schools called Suvorov Military School that were established during the USSR. There is also a military school in Minsk named after Suvorov.[139]

In Soviet times, the 1941 film Suvorov was made (released in the U.S. as General Suvorov).

Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu has proposed that Suvorov be made a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church.[140]

Various arts


Due to "decommunization policies" the street named after Suvorov in (Ukraine's capital) Kyiv was renamed after Mykhailo Omelianovych-Pavlenko in 2016. Suvorov is not related to communism, but his name was used by the Soviet Union for propaganda purposes.[141]

In September 2022, a street that was named after Suvorov in Dnipro (Ukraine) was renamed to honor Alan Shepard.[142]

In October 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops captured a monument to Suvorov in Kherson and took it with them as they fled the city.[143]

In December 2022, another street in Kyiv that was still named after Suvorov was renamed to Serhiy Kotenko Street.[144]

In January 2023, an image of Suvorov on a monument was removed in Odesa.[145]

Literary references

Poet Alexander Shishkov devoted an epitaph to Suvorov, while Gavrila Derzhavin mentioned him in Snigir (Bullfinch) and other poems, calling Suvorov "an Alexander by military prowess, a stoic by valor". Suvorov was mentioned by Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov and in the numerous works of other Russian poets of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Ivan Dmitriev, Apollon Maykov, Dmitry Khvostov, Yermil Kostrov, Kondraty Ryleyev, Vasili Popugaev. Kostrov, the first translator of Homer into Russian, wrote an ode in honor of Suvorov and an epistolary on the capture of Izmail.[146] In 1795 poet and soldier Irinarkh Zavalishin [ru], who had fought under the command of Alexander Suvorov, wrote a heroic poem titled "Suvoriada", celebrating Suvorov's victories. Suvorov is one of the characters in the drama "Antonio Gamba, Companion of Suvorov in the Alpine Mountains" by Sergey Glinka which commemorates the Swiss expedition of 1799.[147][148] In British literature, Byron caricatured Suvorov in the seventh canto of Don Juan. In Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, old Prince Nicholas Bolkonski says: "Suvorov couldn't manage them so what chance has Michael Kutuzov?". Tolstoy also refers to Suvorov later on in the book. Suvorov is also mentioned by Capt. Ryków in Adam Mickiewicz's poem Pan Tadeusz.

See also


  1. ^ See detailed table for more info
  2. ^ For a separate account of the first two confrontations, see pl:Obrona Lanckorony.
  3. ^ See Progeny and titles for more info
  4. ^ The Prince of Italy is the anglicised victory title of "Knyaz Italiysky". In Russian language, "Italiysky" comes from the Latin and Italian word "Italia" and is equivalent to the English "Italic".
  5. ^ Pre-1918 orthography: Графъ Александръ Васильевичъ Суворовъ​-​Рымникскій, князь Италiйскiй
  6. ^ Incorrect year of marriage indicated — 1775.
  7. ^ Count of Rymnik; Graf Rymniksky, or Rimniksky[10]
  8. ^ All combats between 27 and 28 April, i.e. Vaprio d'Adda (main), Cassano d'Adda, and Verderio. The Russians also won the battle of Lecco on April 26.
  9. ^ The term Third Silesian War is a narrow concept of the Seven Years' War: the place of action is limited to Europe. Swedish historiography also uses the term Pomeranian War, which is confined only in Pomerania.
  10. ^ Weisentin?
  11. ^ Neugarten? / Neigarten?
  12. ^ Petrushevsky: "According to a Polish source, 8,000 Poles in arms and 12,000 Praga residents killed."
  13. ^ Only the killing of 20,000 Poles is indicated, without specifying civilians or Poles in arms.
  14. ^ The place where, a year later, Bonaparte would score his famous victory.
  15. ^ 17 June.
  16. ^ 18–19 June.
  17. ^ 20 June.
  18. ^ The campaign at all three rivers is also called generically as the Battle of the Trebbia (common name).
  19. ^ Examples of Suvorov caricatures
  20. ^ or up to 13,000[71]
  21. ^ Around Oberalpsee.
  22. ^ Suvorov was still unaware of Korsakov's defeat, but in the absence of news he preferred not to stop to let his exhausted army rest, which he directed instead, as early as the early hours of September 27, toward the Chinzig Pass, counting on bypassing the French by reaching Schwyz from the village of Muotathal (Muttenthal).
  23. ^ With Klöntalersee inside.
  24. ^ Together with his subordinates Mikhail Miloradovich and Maxim Rehbinder [ru]
  25. ^ Édouard Mortier commanded an advance division of Masséna.
  26. ^ With whom Suvorov won the victory at Rymnik.
  27. ^ Years of existence.
  28. ^ Nogais
  29. ^ Helvetic Legion
  30. ^ Piedmontese Legion
  31. ^ Lombard Legion
  32. ^ Gregorian calendar
  33. ^ The word combat is used to indicate small or insignificant battles compared to the rest in a certain conflict.
  34. ^ Neigarten? / Naugard?
  35. ^ For a separate account of the first two confrontations, see pl:Obrona Lanckorony.
  36. ^ For a separate account of the first two confrontations, see pl:Obrona Lanckorony.
  37. ^ 26 April.
  38. ^ All combats between 27 and 28 April, i.e. Vaprio d'Adda (main), Cassano d'Adda, and Verderio.
  39. ^ The campaign at all three rivers is also called generically as the Battle of the Trebbia (common name).
  40. ^ 17 June.
  41. ^ 18–19 June.
  42. ^ 20 June.
  43. ^ For the victory at Rymnik.
  44. ^ For the victory at Turtukaya.
  45. ^ For the victories during the war of the Bar Confederation.
  46. ^ Tyrolean Alps, during his 1796-1797 campaign.
  47. ^ Year when the monument was built.


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  2. ^ Polevoy 1897.
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  9. ^ a b Polovtsov, Alexander (1912). Russian Biographical Dictionary (in Russian). Vol. 20: Суворова—Ткачев. St. Petersburg: Типография Товарищества "Общественная Польза". p. 1. Retrieved 1 July 2023.
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  12. ^ See Suvorov's Swiss campaign#Reasons for the defeat
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  24. ^ a b Zolotaryov 2023.
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  33. ^ a b Petrov 1874, p. 222.
  34. ^ Petrushevsky 1900, pp. 48–49.
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  36. ^ Petrushevsky, Alexander (1884). Generalissimo Prince Suvorov (in Russian). Vol. 1 (1st ed.). Saint Petersburg: Типография М. М. Стасюлевича. pp. 104–105.
  37. ^ "24.01.1772 г. – Начало осады Краковского замка" [The Beginning of the Siege of the Kraków Castle]. Runivers. Календарь побед Русской армии (in Russian). Retrieved 8 June 2023.
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  40. ^ : Ledonne, 2003, p. 144 Google Print and Alexander, 1989, p. 317 Google Print (broken link)
  41. ^ See Battle of Praga#Massacre
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  43. ^ Petrushevsky, Alexandr Fomich (2005) [1884]. "17. Польская война: Прага; 1794." [Polish war: Prague; 1794.]. Генералиссимус князь Суворов [Generalissimo Prince Suvorov] (in Russian). Русская Симфония. ISBN 978-5-98447-010-0. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
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  47. ^ John Leslie Howard, Soldiers of the Tsar: Army and Society in Russia, 1462–1874, Keep, Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 978-0-19-822575-1, Google Print, p. 216
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  49. ^ Velichko et al. 1912, pp. 323–325.
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  75. ^ Orlov 1892, pp. 315, 331.
  76. ^ See First Battle of Marengo (1799)
  77. ^ See Battle of Novi (1799)
  78. ^ Orlov 1892, pp. 92–93.
  79. ^ Duffy 1999, p. 40.
  80. ^ See Battle of Cassano (1799)
  81. ^ Orlov 1892, p. 73.
  82. ^ Orlov 1892, p. 332.
  83. ^ Milyutin 1853, p. 254.
  84. ^ See Battle of Trebbia (1799)
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  86. ^ a b Orlov 1892, pp. 322–323.
  87. ^ Orlov 1892, p. 323.
  88. ^ a b c d Orlov 1892, p. 316.
  89. ^ Orlov 1892, p. 315.
  90. ^ Orlov 1892, p. 83.
  91. ^ See Suvorov's Swiss campaign#The march go Glarus
  92. ^ Petrushevsky 1900, p. 651.
  93. ^ See Battle of Gotthard Pass
  94. ^ a b See Suvorov's Swiss campaign#The crossing of Chinzig
  95. ^ See ru:Швейцарский поход Суворова
  96. ^ a b Bodart 1908, p. 344.
  97. ^ Petrushevsky, Alexander (1884). Generalissimo Prince Suvorov (in Russian). Vol. 3 (1st ed.). Saint Petersburg: Типография М. М. Стасюлевича. p. 270.
  98. ^ See ru:Сражение в Мутенской долине
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  108. ^ Anthing 1813, p. 16.
  109. ^ Petrushevsky 1900, p. 48.
  110. ^ Pares 1926, p. 309.
  111. ^ Bodart 1908, p. 263.
  112. ^ Duffy 1999, p. 51.
  113. ^ See First Battle of Marengo (1799)#Forces
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  118. ^ Duffy 1999, p. 177.
  119. ^ Duffy 1999, p. 181.
  120. ^ Duffy 1999, p. 188.
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Further reading