Mikhail Kutuzov and the War of 1812
The display is dedicated to famed commander and talented statesman, General Field-Marshal Prince Mikhail Golenishchev-Kutuzov of Smolensk. It tells about the commander’s family, his upbringing and education, his formation as an independent military leader, diplomat and statesman, his role in the rescue of Russia in 1812, commanding the allied armies during the war against Napoleon in 1813 and the last days of his life in Bunzlau (now Boleslawiec, Poland). As well, it shows the succession of Kutuzov’s traditions in the Russian army.
|General Field-Marshall M. I. Kutuzov. Copy from the portrait by Volkov. Unknown copier. Mid-19th century.
Inspite of the fact that Kutuzov spent the major part of his bright and restless life in military campaigns and diplomatic trips, his destiny appears as inseparably linked with the city on the Neva River. Here is where Kutuzov’s museum was brought. The history of the museum in short is as follows. The Russian army, which was pursuing French troops, entered the Prussian city of Bunzlau in 1813. The headquarters of General Field-Marshal M. Kutuzov was located in the house of Mr. von der Mark, a German owner of salt factories. The commander himself occupied a room on the second floor in this house. He spent his last days there. Kutuzov died on April 16 (28), 1813. According to the order of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III, the owners of the house kept his room with the belongings of the Field-Marshal for many years.
In the summer of 1945, troops of the 1st Ukrainian Front liberated Bunzlau. Inspite of battles, the house of Kutuzov escaped destruction, but the room where he lived was ransacked. By the order of I. S. Konev, Commander of the Front, a group of 13 Soviet specialists was formed to search for lost things and to arrange a museum for the great Russian commander in the house where he had died. Lieutenant-Colonel A. Ipatov, Chief of the Political Department of the 147th Army Cannon Artillery Brigade, headed this work. The group had an enormous task to realize in finding precious and unique exhibits and in restoring the museum.
On April 28, 1945, the anniversary day when the famed military leader passed away, his museum opened in Bunzlau.
Since 1946, when Silesia was transferred to Poland and Bunzlau changed its name to Boleslawiec, the museum was kept as a Soviet one, subordinated to the administrative command of the Northern Armies Group. In the late 1980’s, demands from the Polish side concerning Soviet troops withdrawing from the territory of Poland made the situation around Kutuzov’s museum worse. From 1989–1991, the museum and burials of Russian and Soviet warriors in Boleslawiec suffered from vandals. So the decision was made to remove the exhibits to the commander’s homeland of St. Petersburg. The work was organized in the Military-Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps to make an appropriate display dedicated to the commanding and state activities of M. Kutuzov. It was opened in commemoration of the 180th anniversary of the War of 1812.
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov was born in St. Petersburg on September 5(16), 1747. The display includes the noble blazon of the Golenishchev-Kutuzovs. The progenitor of the family, a certain Gavriil, distinguished himself as early as the first half of the 13th century. He started his service in the detachment of Aleksandr Nevsky and showed bravery in battles against Swedes on the Neva and the Izhora.
|Blazon of the Golenishchev-Kutuzov Family
Kutuzov’s father, Illarion Matveevich Kutuzov, General-Lieutenant associate of Peter I, senator, served in the Engineer Corps for 30 years and participated in many military campaigns. Mikhail Kutuzov’s mother died rather early, so he was brought up in the family of his uncle while his father was away in service. His uncle, Ivan Loginovich GolenishchevKutuzov, was talented all-round, spoke several foreign languages and translated foreign military literature to Russian. He had the rank of admiral (equal to General-Admiral according to the table of ranks at that time) and was a member of honor in two Russian academies, both Science and Arts. He headed the Naval College (Cadet Corps) for 40 years. Kutuzov’s uncle left a deep impact on his life, and it was not a mere chance that he chose a military career. Reproduced portraits of Ivan Loginovich and his wife, Illarion Matveevich with Mikhail, and others are on display.
On April 27, 1773, Mikhail Kutuzov married Ekaterina Bibikova, a ward of his uncle. They had six children. Unfortunately the only son died when he was a year and a half young from smallpox. Five daughters became well educated women of the world. The eldest daughter, Praskovia, married M. F. Tolstoy; the second one, Anna, married General-Major N. Z. Khitrovo; the third one, Elizaveta, first married Theodor von Tizengauzen, who perished in the Austerlitz battle in 1805. A witness of his death, Fedor Glinka, described this event to Lev Tolstoy, who used the story later in his novel War and Peace in the episode of wounding Andrei Bolkonskii. Elizaveta and her daughter Daria (Dolly Fikelmon) were friends with A. S. Pushkin. The two youngest daughters, Ekaterina and Daria, also cast in their lot with servicemen.
The display includes portraits of four daughters of Kutuzov, a view of his house in St. Petersburg, a postcard depicting a church in the former study of Mkhail Kutuzov, and a desk clock from his house.
The years of Kutuzov’s education were also spent in St. Petersburg. In 1759, when he was twelve years old he entered the United Artillery and Engineer School. His great abilities helped him to quickly get over all of the difficulties of the education.
Kutuzov mastered the program of education in 1.5 years instead of the usually fixed term of 5–6 years. Thus, in accordance with a special order of General Feldzeugmeister and General FieldMarshal P. Shuvalov, chief of the school, Kutuzov was enlisted in the Engineer Corps upon graduation from the school and promoted to the rank of engineer-conductor of the 1st category. He also served at the school teaching mathematics to pupils in junior classes.
The display includes full-dress uniforms of cadets, their albums with drafts of guns and documents elucidating the history of this educational institution which trained officers for the army. Among the exhibits there is a medal issued in honor of the 200th anniversary of the school, named after Emperor Peter the Great. After the 2‑years teaching activity, Kutuzov was transferred to the army by his request. He commanded a company of the Astrakhan Regiment quartered not far from St. Petersburg for about a year.
33 years later Kutuzov returned to pedagogical activity again. From 1794–1797 he headed the Land Noble Military School (Cadet Corps) which was located in the palace of A. D. Menshikov in St. Petersburg. Catherine II called this military educational institution a “breeding-ground for great people in Russia.” The penetrating Empress knew well and thought much of Kutuzov, perceived in him a brilliant teacher, as well as clever and subtle tutor who made the process of education closer to the practice of military business.
Full dress uniforms for the corps officer, cadets, and a jubilee medal instituted to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the educational institution in 1907 are on display among other exhibits.
In 1764 and 1769, Kutuzov participated in campaigns of the Russian troops against Poland, where he fought together with confederates. In 1770, he took part in battles against Turks near Riabaia Mogila, the Larga and the Kagul under the command of P. A. Rumiantsev. Then he served in battles in Walachia and operations against Turks in the Crimea.
In July 1774, Lieutenant-Colonel Kutuzov commanded the Grenadier Battalion of the Moscow Legion. During the battle near the village of Shumy not far from Alushta, he was seriously wounded in the head. The bullet went through between the left temple and eye and out near the right eye. The wound was considered to be mortal, but to everybody’s surprise, Mikhail Kutuzov stayed alive. Catherine II awarded him with the St. George Order, Fourth Class for this wound and assigned a considerable sum from the state treasury for his treatment abroad. A memorial medal was dedicated to the commander’s wound. It is exhibited in the room.
In 1787, at the beginning of military operations against Turkey the Bug Chasseur Corps under Kutuzov was sent to the Turkish fortress of Ochakov. On August 18, 1788, Kutuzov was wounded for the second time, again in the head. It happened during the sally of Turks from the fortress. Masso, chief surgeon in the Russian army, thought that the destiny intended for Kutuzov was something great, since he stayed alive after two wounds that medicine considered mortal. The display includes a coat for a Colonel of the Life Guards Horse Regiment of Empress Catherine II and the St. George Order, First Class.
In 1790, M. Kutuzov within the detachment commanded by A. V. Suvorov participated in the storm of Izmail. The fortress was constructed by French engineers according to the latest word in engineering techniques and was considered to be impregnable. Its garrison numbered 35 thousand persons with 260 guns. The 6th column under Kutuzov had to siege the Kilia gate of the fortress. After a few unsuccessful attempts to capture the citadel, Kutuzov sent a dispatch to Suvorov with a request to send reinforcements. In response, Suvorov appointed Kutuzov commandant of Izmail. Kutuzov undertook a desperate storm again and burst into the fortress.
Suvorov highly appraised the acts of his general in an official letter about the battle. He personally made a remark on the list of those who were subject to awarding that Kutuzov went in on the left flank, but was really his right hand.
Kutuzov was promoted to General-Lieutenant and awarded with the St. George Order, Third Class for participation in the storm of Izmail, for showing bravery and skillful commanding.
The display includes a memorial medal and officer’s crosses for the Kagul, Ochakov and Izmail battles, a portrait of A. V. Suvorov and drawings in watercolors depicting the storms of Ochakov and Izmail.
In June 1791, troops under M. Kutuzov defeated the 22‑tousand Turkish corps near Babadag and assisted the main forces of Prince N. V. Repnin in the rout of Turks near Machin. M. Kutuzov was awarded with the St. George Order, Second Class for his merits in this battle.
Upon finishing two Russian-Turkish wars Kutuzov was a holder of six orders, a decorated general known through all the Russian army. The foresight of Empress Catherine II, who saw the future of a great general in him, gradually came true.
One of the most interesting pages in the biography of Mikhail Kutuzov is his diplomatic activity. According to a special decree dated October 25, 1792, Catherine II appointed Kutuzov, who had already been a famed military general, to the post of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary in Turkey. It caused astonishment in the court and political circles in Russia. The Empress committed a difficult and secrete mission to the beginner at diplomacy. He had to conduct a careful analysis of the economic, political, and above all, military state of Turkey, and reveal its intentions concerning Russia after the Iaşi treaty. The Empress saw in this talented commander a person of great intellect and good education, tactful, resourceful, and at the same time a restrained man, who could show resolution when necessary. She was not mistaken.
The embassy included officers from the engineer corps, general headquarters and a naval department. The personnel numbered 650 persons, without the serving staff. A painting showing the moving of the Russian embassy to Constantinople is exhibited in the room.
Kutuzov brilliantly managed his diplomatic mission. His conclusion that Turkey was not ready to go to war had decisive importance for proper estimations of the politics of Ottoman Porta concerning Russia. In addition, he succeeded in improving relations between the two states and achieved the favor of the sultan (the latter even permitted some deviations from the ambassador’s obligatory diplomatic etiquette for Kutuzov).
Kutuzov showed a special mastership in diplomatic pursuits during the negotiations with Turkey about peace in 1811–1812. The question about establishing the border of Russia and Turkey on the Caucasus appeared to be the most difficult. However, the rich diplomatic experience helped Kutuzov successfully find a way out from the difficult situation and the preliminary conditions of a peace treaty were signed in Bucharest on May 5, 1812. Visitors may see texts from these documents, as well as a Xerox copy of the decree to the Ruling Senate about conferring the title of Prince to Mikhail Kutuzov for this mission.
The commander had once confessed to his wife that however clever a diplomatic career may be, it is not as difficult as a military one. And this was really so. Kutuzov had passed through the hard school of famed commanders of his time, first of all, A. V. Suvorov. And he had grasped all the vicissitudes of a military destiny on the way. However, he always remained faithful to his duties to his homeland.
In 1801, Alexander I came to the throne. He appointed Kutuzov military governor of St. Petersburg and at the same time inspector of troops quartered in Finland. According to another decree of the Emperor, Kutuzov was commissioned with being in charge of all economic affairs in the province.
In 1805, Kutuzov was appointed to the theatre of war to command Russian troops in the war against Napoleon.
According to the Vienna convention, he was subordinated to the Austrian commanders and could not make independent decisions. Unfortunately, the Austrians did not accept his plan of waging war and divided their forces into three groups having directed them to Northern Italy, Tyrol and Bavaria. Kutuzov realized the fatal consequences of this decision. He had to unite with Austrian troops under Field-Marshal Mack in Bavaria. Having discovered the disconnection of the allies, Napoleon moved his armies towards Mack. By request of the Austrian commanders Kutuzov left the heavy cavalry and artillery, trains and reserves and rushed to the Field-Marshal’s help in Braunau. However, the 30‑thousand Austrian army of Mack had already capitulated near Ulm. It was almost treachery. Kutuzov stayed alone in the face of the outnumbering enemy (in Kutuzov’s detachment there were about 25 thousand persons). He had to fight exhausting rearguard battles, not giving a chance for the enemy to surround and destroy him. Moreover, Kutuzov executed a brilliant march-withdrawal from Braunau to Olmtz and inflicted a shattering defeat on the corps of E. Mortier. As a result, three French brigades appeared to be pressed to the Danube and almost completely destroyed.
|Grenadier cap from the Life-Guards Pavlovsk Regiment. Model 1802
Among the exhibits displayed in the room there is an official letter from Kutuzov to Alexander I about the results of the Krems battle, a message from Austrian Emperor Franz I to the Russian Emperor about awarding Kutuzov with the big cross of the Austrian Maria Therese Order and a reply containing the estimation of the commander’s acts.
Prompted by ambition Alexander decided to take the battle to Napoleon near Austerlitz on November 20, 1805, in spite of the objections of Kutuzov.
Russian losses were 21 thousand warriors and Austrian, 6 thousand. The son-in-law of Kutuzov, Tizengauzen, perished in this battle, as well. Alexander could not forgive Kutuzov for ruining his fame as a commander. According to the Emperor, the experienced general should kept him from the battle. In the future he showed his discontent with Kutuzov more than once by an unjust attitude to the old commander.
|B. P. Villevalde. Exploit of the Horse Regiment during the battle near Austerliz in 1805. 1884
Visitors can see a painting by A. Charlemagne depicting an episode of the battle when the Life Guards Horse Regiment advanced to the rescue of the Preobrazhensky Regiment and forced its way into the rows of the 4th French Regiment of the Chinner’s brigade. During that advance the French carrier of colors was knocked down. Private Gavrilov, carabineer of the 3rd platoon of the 2nd squadron under Colonel I. I. Olenin, jumped off his horse and picked up the colors. He had time only to hand it over to private Omelchenko who came galloping up to him. Gavrilov himself fell down pierced through with bayonets. The French rushed ahead to save the colors, but privates Ushakov and Lazunov came in time to rescue Omelchenko. The colors became a trophy of the Russian army. The moment when private Gavrilov captured the French colors is pictured in the painting. The display also includes a drawing in water-colors depicting a horse guardsman and his armament, etc.
On April 1, 1811, Kutuzov was appointed commander of the Moldavian army. This period brought him special fame as an outstanding commander. Because of the threat of Napoleon’s invasion, 5 divisions from the Moldavian army were sent to the western border of Russia. Kutuzov was in less favorable conditions than his predecessors and had to achieve victory over the Turkish army twice outnumbering his forces and in more compressed terms. Experienced in the art of war vizier Akhmet-Aga undertook the offensive on Rushchuk, where the battle took place on July 22, 1811. However, 60‑thousand Turkish troops suffered defeat at the hands of the 15‑thousand strong Russian army. Close assistants of Kutuzov, P. K. Essen, A. L. Voinov and A. F. Langeron, played a decisive role in the battle.
According to a decree of Alexander I, the title of count was conferred to Kutuzov for successfully finishing the war with Turks. Visitors may see Turkish arms which became a trophy of the Russian army, as well as keys and locks from Turkish fortresses Tulcha and Zhurzha.
Having conquered Europe and seeking to strengthen the might of France, Napoleon started the preparation for war with Russia. The ambitious Emperor who did not know defeat prepared his more than 600‑thousand army with 1,372 guns. This threatening force awaited orders to pounce upon the enemy and Napoleon looked for a reason which soon occurred. Because of a difficult economical situation Russia broke the "continental blockade" of England and renewed trade relations which contradicted the Tilsit peace treaty.
On the night of June 12, 1812, 10 infantry and 4 cavalry corps with 450‑thousand Guards and 1,200 pieces of ordnance crossed the Neman and invaded Russia. Russians could oppose them with a 210‑thousand strong army and only 906 guns. According to the poor planning of General Ful, this force appeared to be stretched for more than 500 km and divided into three parts. Using this mistake, Napoleon intended to annihilate the armies in parts, but skillful acts of M. B. Barklai de Tolli and P. I. Bagration destroyed this plan. The Russian armies passed more than 600 km with hard rearguard battles and united in Smolensk on July 22.
The battle near Smolensk took place on August 5. However, it did not become the most general one. The display includes a full-dress uniform for a French general, a saber gifted by first consul Napoleon to one of his non-commissioned officers from the 26th Horse-Chasseur Regiment, a GrandCroix de la Lgion d’honneur.
Kutuzov was not drawn into military operations at the beginning of the War of 1812. Alexander I appointed him to command the 10‑thousand Narva corps for the defence of St. Petersburg, and then all troops in the St. Petersburg province, Kronshtadt and Finland, including the navy. Kutuzov vigorously joined in organizing the defence of the capital in the directions Vitebsk — St. Petersburg and Pskov — St. Petersburg. In this connection he also strengthened the fortress of Narva.
The Emperor’s manifesto was promulgated on July 6. It called everybody to mobilize for the defence of the homeland. On July 17 the noble assembly of the St. Petersburg and Moscow provinces elected Kutuzov commander of the home guard. The general was touched with this honor and started the formation of a people’s volunteer corps, having established the organization and economic committees. He personally received volunteers and was busy with solving organizational and economical problems, thus showing once again a great talent as an organizer.
In late July, Alexander I ordered Kutuzov to command the Novgorod home guard, as well. The St. Petersburg home guard created by Kutuzov later participated not only in the War of 1812, but also in the foreign campaign of 1813–1814.
The glass-cases display a portrait miniature of Alexander I, his full-dress uniform with the Polish White Eagle Order, a spear and a cartridge-box (liadunka), a badge of the Simbirsk people’s volunteer corps commanded by Prince Tenishev, real Councilor of the State, and a sculpture of one member of the people’s volunteer corps Matveev, who fought in the St. Petersburg home guard in 1812.
A special section of the display is dedicated to Kutuzov’s awards. It shows Russian and foreign orders of the commander. On December 12, Mikhail Kutuzov was awarded with the St. George Order, First Class. He was the only one honored with being awarded this order in 1812. He also became the first complete holder of the St. George Order in the Russian army.
After the battle near Smolensk the Russian army kept on retreating and was losing courage. A single commander-in-chief with vast military experience, talent, and, above all confidence of the people, was needed. The Extraordinary St. Petersburg Committee established by Alexander I unanimously elected M. I. Kutuzov commander-in-chief of all Russian armies. Though, indisposed to the old general, the Emperor, nevertheless, had to agree with public opinion.
On August 17 Kutuzov arrived to TsarevoZaimishche and started commanding the army. In the room there is the engraving by Datsiyar after the drawing by A. Orlovskii which depicts Kutuzov riding on horseback. This is one of three known types of images of the general and is considered by specialists as having the closest resemblance to the original.
The general battle near Borodino became a culmination of the War of 1812. Kutuzov understood that the destiny of Russia depended on the result of this battle and that Napoleon sought to decide the outcome of the entire war in this battle.
A fight near Shevardin on August 24 was a prelude to the battle. There 12 thousand Russian soldiers withstood the outnumbering enemy (the infantry, four times as much, the cavalry, two and a half times as much and the artillery, five times as much) late into the night. Time and again the redoubt passed from hand to hand. In the dead night the 2nd Cuirassier Division under I. M. Duki occupied the redoubt again and only after the order of Bagration the troops were drawn off to general positions.
All day on August 25 both sides prepared themselves for the decisive battle. Both commanders aimed to stiffen the fighting spirit of their troops, to inspire with confidence in victory over the enemy. Napoleon appealed to his army, as he foretold the victory near Austerlitz in 1805. Kutuzov also went around to the troops before the battle with the icon of Our Lady of Smolensk brought out from the city left by the enemy. This moment is depicted on the colored lithograph, on which the commander is shown on bended knees during public prayer.
The grandiose battle started on August 26 at 6 o’clock in the morning. The 135‑thousand French army with 587 guns and the 124‑thousand Russian army with 640 guns took part in it. The desperate nature of the battle caused great losses on both sides and influenced much of the further course of military operations. The battle stopped when darkness came. It did not bring utter defeat to either side, so there was no question of victory. However, the strategic plans of Kutuzov appeared to be more farsighted than Napoleon’s. The plan of the Emperor for a Blitzkrieg war and quickly signing a peace treaty on conditions favorable for France failed. The Russian army was not destroyed, but on the contrary, prepared itself to continue the battle. This fact, as well as not knowing the reserves of Kutuzov made Napoleon give the order to retreat his forces to the positions which they had occupied before the beginning of the battle. The battle much undermined the fighting spirit of the French army and its moral firmness.
The display includes portraits of Russian commanders who distinguished themselves during the War of 1812, as well as Lvov’s painting Ataman Platov which depicts a raid of Cossacks to the rear of the left flank of the enemy. The glass-case shows uniforms for a private of the Life Guards Dragoon Regiment and a gunner of the Life Guards Horse Artillery.
M. Kutuzov was promoted to the rank of General Field-Marshal for the Borodino battle.
The retreating Russian army was weakened after the Borodino battle, but was not demoralized. Its fighting spirit was still high.
On September 1, a military council took place in the house of a peasant named A. Frolov in the village of Fili. The problem was discussed whether to surrender Moscow without battle or to take battle to the enemy. The opinions of generals were divided; the majority declared their view for battle. Kutuzov, however, raised an objection. He thought that the loss of Moscow did not mean the loss of all Russia. He offered his plan about how to prepare the inevitable perish of the enemy by organizing the retreat of Russian troops along the Riazan road. The atmosphere of the council is reproduced on a copy of A. Kivshenko’s painting The Military Council in Fili on September 1 (13), 1812 displayed in the room.
On September 2, the Russian army left Moscow and advanced to the South-East along the Riazan road. On September 4, near the Borovskii ferry Kutuzov ordered the Cossack detachment under Colonel I. E. Efremov to perform a ‘false movement’ to Riazan in full view of the enemy. Meanwhile the army crossed the Moscow River and went in the Western direction. As a result the French lost sight of the Russian army. Meanwhile the army under Kutuzov crossed the Podolsk and Serpukhov roads and went out to Krasnaia Pakhra, where it stayed until September 14. Napoleon did not have any information about the location of the Russian forces for 12 days. On September 20, the army under Kutuzov stayed in Tarutin.
The importance of this maneuver can scarcely be exaggerated. The cunning plan of the commander allowed protection of the southern regions fertile in grain, Kaluga with its military reserves, the Tula Small Arms Factory, the Briansk arsenal and threatened the rear communications of the enemy. At the same time the Russian army could keep communicating with the divisions of P. Chichagov, A. Tormasov and P. Vitgenshtein for further coordinated action.
Being in the Tarutin camp, M. Kutuzov made a decision to wage "small war," realizing well its people’s nature. Kutuzov decided to avoid a general battle on the eve of the winter, but to fight a "small war" involving "partisans" in order not to let the enemy have peace. A significant army of partisan detachments headed by combatant officers were the basis of the partisan movement. There were about 15 such detachments in October 1812. Kutuzov was especially pleased with the operations of partisan detachments under Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Davydov, Captains A. Seslavin and A. Figner, and his report to Alexander I dated October 1, 1812, is evidence of this. The display includes V. Kobytev’s painting after M. Diuburg’s engraving from the original by A. Orlovskii. It depicts Denis Davydov, Hero of the War of 1812, dressed in peasant clothes and hussars of the Akhtyrka Regiments, with members of his detachment following him.
As a result of waging this "small war" the French army appeared to be blocked into Moscow with a double ring consisting of partisan detachments and forces of the home guard. Here it lost the possibility of replenishing its rations, forage, ammunition, arms and clothes.
Documents of an attempt by Napoleon to begin negotiations with Alexander I to conclude a peace treaty through his General-Adjutant J. Lauriston and about the assistance of Kutuzov are of interest. However, the old Russian commander declined all negotiations about peace. The Field-Marshal answered in response to a statement of Loriston about the barbarous nature of the war Russian people wage: “It is difficult to stop people…who are ready to sacrifice themselves for their homeland!”
On October 6, the French were defeated for the first time in a battle near Tarutin, where the enemy lost 2.5 thousand persons and 38 guns. The final breaking point took place in the course of military operations after the battle near Maloyaroslavets. After leaving Moscow the French army advanced to Kaluga. Kutuzov forestalled Napoleon and blocked the way to the south for the enemy near Maloyaroslavets. A desperate battle took place here on October 12. It lasted late into the night. The city changed hands eight times. After that Napoleon was forced to retreat along the ravaged Smolensk road.
During the retreat the French army suffered a number of defeats, near Viazma, Liakhov and Smolensk. The most significant conflict took place near the settlement of Krasnoe not far from Smolensk. This battle lasted for 4 days and the French sustained heavy losses; 6 thousand persons were killed or wounded; 26 thousand yielded themselves prisoners; 228 pieces of ordnance passed to Russians. After that battle, Kutuzov received the honorary right to be called the Prince of Smolensk for his victory.
The crossing of the Berezina River by the French army became one of the most tragic pages in the retreat of the French army. The genius of Napoleon as a commander allowed him and the rest of his army to break out from the encirclement which was prepared for them. On display is an engraving depicting the crossing of the Berezina by the French army on the morning of November 17. Next to it there are memorial medals made after the medallions of F. Tolstoy which are dedicated to foundational events of the War of 1812.
M. I. Kutuzov showed himself as a talented statesman in 1813. He succeeded in concluding a secret agreement with K. F. Schwarzenberg, Commander of the Austrian troops which essentially neutralized Austria’s role as Napoleon’s ally.
Upon signing the Kalisz treaty with Prussia in February 1813, Kutuzov became the commander-in-chief of the allied armies. King Friedrich Wilhelm III respected the merits of Kutuzov in the liberation of Prussia from Napoleon’s oppression awarding him with both the Red and Black Eagle Orders, and also offering him citizenship in the country.
On April 6, 1813, Kutuzov went to Bunzlau after meeting with monarchs in Haynau and took an open-air droshky (transport). During the trip the weather unexpectedly became worse, with wet snow and rain. Mikhail Kutuzov caught cold on the way. After arriving to Bunzlau he refused dinner and took to his bad. In spite of serious illness Kutuzov went on to command the armies, received couriers, gave necessary orders, and corresponded with other commanders. Kutuzov wrote in one of his letters to Alexander I: “I am really in despair because of my long illness and feeling worse from day to day.” On April 11, Kutuzov dictated a last letter for his wife to Doctor Malakhov.
Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov passed away at 21.30 on April 16, 1813. The display includes Kardelli’s engraving dedicated to the decease of the commander. The body and heart of Kutuzov were embalmed after his death and sent to St. Petersburg, where they were buried in the Kazanskii Cathedral on June 13, 1813. His remains were buried in a zinc sarcophagus two kilometers far from Bunzlau in the village of Tillendorf.
Among the exhibits of the room are things which Kutuzov used and which formed the interior of his room in Bunzlau. These are the camp-bed (on which the Field-Marshal died), vases faced with malachite, the vase of onyx, the chair and the desk secretaire in Rococo style. There are also the desk clock which was stopped at the moment of the commander’s death, the clavichord, three carved wooden chairs, small marble columns with candle stick-figures and the armchair. In the center there is a vase of Meissen porcelain given to Kutuzov by residents of the Torn Fortress liberated on April 6, 1813. Also exhibited is the chest of drawers in Rococo style where the general kept his personal belongings.
Visitors can see photos of the house where Kutuzov passed away and the monument in the form of a truncated column, created by Franz Bm, for the place where Kutuzov’s remains are buried. In the room there is a model of the monument-obelisk to Kutuzov erected in the center of Bunzlau on behalf of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III.
|Decorative vase. Saxony, Maisen Factory.
Late 18th century.From the room where M. I. Kutuzov died on April 16 (28), 1813
Mikhail Kutuzov was a chief of the Pskov Musketeer Regiment from October 25, 1799 until his death. The 11th Infantry Pskov Regiment was one of the oldest ones in the Russian army. The regiment was named after him as a token of respect to the memory and merits of the Field-Marshal on August 17, 1825.
There are several photos of commanders of this regiment on display. During the War of 1812, the regiment fought within the 7th Infantry Division of P. Kaptsevich of the 6th Corps under D. Dokhturov. It participated in battles for Smolensk, near Borodino, Maloyaroslavets, and distinguished itself in battles near Brienne le Chato and La Rothiere (1814), for which it was awarded the St. George Order trumpets. During the war with Turkey of 1877–1878, the regiment commanded by M. D. Skobelev became famous during the storm of Loftcha, the battles near Etropol, and for accomplishing the passage over the Balkans, where many people lost their lives near Shandornik during a snowstorm.
The display includes Kovalevskii’s painting The Infantry Picket on the Balkans, badges for headdresses which the ranks of the regiment were awarded, medals for merits in battles and the badge of the Pskov Regiment instituted in honor of the 200th anniversary of its formation.
The Kutuzov Order, First and Second Classes was instituted during World War II in 1942. In 1943, the Third Class of the Order was instituted as well.
The exhibits of the room give information about the few holders of the Kutuzov Order. The glass-cases show awarded arms of the Russian and Soviet armies symbolizing the succession of a heroic spirit among generations.
Eight units and formations and 134 officers were awarded with the Kutuzov Order for the liberation of Bunzlau on February 12, 1945. The display includes photos telling about the Bunzlau liberation, including the operations of Colonel D. Dragunskii whose tanks were the first to burst into the city. Here there are colors of the 640th Army Destructive-Antitank Artillery Regiment awarded with the Kutuzov Order, Third Class for the seizure of Bunzlau.
In the center there is a jacket from the full-dress uniform of Marshal of the Soviet Union I. S. Konev, Commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front. The glass-case on the left shows the Polish presentation sword gifted to Konev by residents of Krakow in gratitude for their liberation. On the right there is a portrait of P. M. Zaitsev who closed the enemy’s gun-port with his body during the forced crossing of the Oder River. He acquired the title of a Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously for his exploits and was buried in the Kutuzov memorial. The submachine gun of Zaitsev is on display.
The display also provides information about descendants of Kutuzov: their genealogies, photos and memoirs from family archives.