Kutúzov, the general who defeated Napoleon in Russia

Kutúzov, the general who defeated Napoleon in Russia

Very few soldiers of the 19th century could proudly say that they had defeated Napoleon in battle. But the truth is that Mikhail Kutuzov not only did he defeat him in battle, but completely ruined the Russian Campaign for the French emperor. His name would go down in posterity in Russia, where even the Soviets would recognize him as a great military man.

Mikhail Illiarionovich Golenishchev Kutuzov He was born on September 16, 1745 in Saint Petersburg into a family with a military tradition. With only 15 years he entered the Russian imperial army. He was in the service of Poland between 1764 and 1769, but left that position to go to fight against the Ottoman Empire until 1774. That year he lost an eye, so he traveled throughout Europe while recovering.

His brilliance as a military man led him to obtain the rank of major-general in 1784. Three years later he was appointed Governor General of Crimea and he moved to the front to face the Turks. It was then that Kutuzov built a considerable reputation while learning from Aleksandr Suvorov, a general who never lost a battle.

In 1791, with the end of the first turkish-russian war, achieved the rank of lieutenant general and the position of ambassador in Constantinople. But he did not stay long in Turkey, as he was sent to take charge first of the Finnish government and then of the cadet corps of St. Petersburg. He spent a few years at the head of the command of Saint Petersburg and ended up becoming governor general of the city, after passing through the Russian embassy in Berlin.

The outbreak of the Napoleonic wars led Kutuzov back to the front. In 1805, he commanded Russia at the Battle of Dürrenstein, a crucial confrontation to stop the French advance on Vienna. Before the battle of Austerlitz, Kutúzov tried to convince the other generals not to engage in any conflict with Napoléon, but they ignored him. During this contest he was wounded and moved between 1806 and 1811 to Lithuania and Kiev, where he served as governor general.

When Russia's second war against the Turks began, Kutuzov had to go into combat again. The victories followed one another, but since he knew that the armed conflict with France was imminent, he concluded the contest through the Treaty of Bucharest, by which Russia annexed Bessarabia. The success of this mission led him to obtain the title of knyaz (prince).

Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 and the Russian Minister of War, Mikhail Barclay de Trolly, ordered the scorched earth strategy. On August 17, Kutuzov was appointed commander-in-chief and decided to confront French troops outside Moscow at the Battle of Borodino, which did not really have a clear winner. The Russian general decided to completely empty the city of Moscow and hand it over to the French, who had no choice but to withdraw. From here on, Kutuzov used a very cautious but very effective tactic: little by little and sporadically, ambushed Napoleon's retreating soldiers. It was a success, as the mighty Grande Armée was devastated.

His triumphs earned him the rank of Field Marshal and the nationwide recognition. However, in early 1813 he fell seriously ill and died on April 28 in Bunzlau. The Russians paid him great tributes and he went down in the history of the country. So much so, that the Russian government created the “Order of Kutúzov"And, during World War II, they christened the tactic with which they expelled the Germans as"Operation Kutúzov”.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.


Video: Napoleon Defeats Russia: Friedland 1807