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Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov (1730-1800) is considered the most famous Russian commander, a classic of military art. Thanks to his military genius, this man received the title of Generalissimo in Russia, was a knight of all Russian orders, as well as many foreign ones.
Suvorov's talents are evidenced by the fact that he did not lose a single battle, although in most battles the enemy had a numerical superiority. Most of the military career of the commander is associated with the name of Empress Catherine II, who appreciated his talents.
But Emperor Paul I sent the obstinate favorite of his mother into retirement, but was forced to call him into service again. This man is a national hero of Russia, whose name is given to streets, squares, schools, orders.
However, the classic and canonical image has a lot of fictional character, so we will debunk some popular myths about Suvorov in this article.
Suvorov is a native Russian. It turns out that this is not a purebred Moscow nobleman at all, but a third-generation descendant of Swedish nobles. It is from Sweden that the Suvorov family comes from. It is known for certain that in 1622, two Swedes, Naum and Suvor, fled from their homeland with their families to the Muscovy. Then they were given citizenship and named honorary citizens. And the descendants of Suvor in the records of the Streletsky order began to be called the Suvorovs. The grandfather of the commander under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich showed himself well. So the Suvorovs received the nobility and lands. Suvorov's mother, Avdotya Manukova, may have been a relative of the legendary Manuk. But the Armenian roots of the commander remain an unproven legend.
Suvorov won the Russian-Turkish campaigns. In the biography of the commander, the battles of Kozludzha, Kinburn, Fokshany, Rymnik, the storming of Izmail are bright pages. At the end of the 18th century, Russia was actively expanding its southern borders, which led to several wars with Turkey. However, in their course, Suvorov himself commanded only a corps and a division. Yes, he acted quickly, swiftly and unexpectedly. But his victories were local. The war with Turkey lasted for decades, against this background the capture of Ishmael is an episode. Moreover, they took him earlier, and after Suvorov they handed him over again. There were no decisive or crucial battles in that war - Russia was gradually moving south, taking two steps forward and one step back. The real commanders who led the large-scale campaign were Rumyantsev and Potemkin. The first for his victories received obelisks in Tsarskoe Selo and St. Petersburg, Catherine herself offered to honor him with the entrance on a triumphal chariot, as in ancient Rome. Rumyantsev's conquests were continued by Potemkin. His merits are amazing - the conquest of the Crimea, the creation of the Black Sea Fleet, the founding of many cities, the resettlement of colonists. For those events, Suvorov was a minor figure, remaining in the shadow of larger persons.
Suvorov did not shore the soldiers. There is information that Paul I disliked Suvorov not at all because of his attitude to the drill. It was said that during training marches for 20 miles from a company of 200 people, the commander had only 40 people left. The rest were considered sanitary losses, essentially dead. This myth has a very specific origin. It turns out that during one of the rapid transitions to the place of the battle with the French, only 40 people remained in the companies. It was Suvorov who ordered them to attack the enemy. But the rest did not die at all during the transition, but simply fell behind. In "Verbal Receipt for Soldiers," Suvorov insists on protecting people. In his letters, the commander lamented about the large losses during the capture of Ishmael, but then from 6 to 13% of the entire army died, that is, relatively little.
Suvorov always defeated the enemy, commanding inferior troops. But in the battle of Novi, the Russian-Austrian troops were one and a half times more than the French. At the same time, some French and Polish historians generally believe that then the victory went not to Suvorov, but to his opponent Moreau.
Suvorov fought unselfishly. The modesty of a general is a myth. He passionately loved awards and took offense when he was deprived of them. He honestly wrote about this in letters to his daughter. True, in fairness, it should be noted that Suvorov recognized only military orders. When he received all the Russian awards, Catherine began to give him the same ones, studded with diamonds. But when Suvorov received the "wrong" award, he was offended. In particular, after the capture of Izmail, he expected to receive a field marshal's baton, but he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the Preobrazhensky Guards Regiment. This was an honor, given that the empress herself was listed as a colonel. Here are just a dozen such lieutenant colonels. Suvorov considered such an award a mockery, “Izmail shame”. Sometimes the commander even appointed himself a reward - after the battle at Turtukai in 1772, he directly wrote to Commander-in-Chief Saltykov that he would like to receive the Order of St. George of the second degree.
Suvorov received titles for military victories. Suvorov became General in 1768. But he did not fight with the external enemies of the Russian Empire. In Poland, a Confederate uprising against King Poniatowski began. The empress sent Russian troops to help him. Suvorov at that time commanded the Suzdal Infantry Regiment, becoming a brigadier in Poland. His actions had a significant impact on the course of the campaign, and Suvorov himself became a major general at the age of 40. At that time it was considered almost old age. In 1774, Suvorov participated in the suppression of the Pugachev uprising, but arrived at the final stage. Alexander Vasilyevich escorted the rebel, suppressed the remnants of the rebellion. And in 1794, Suvorov again became involved in Polish events, suppressing the uprising of Tadeusz Kosciuszko. For a number of victories won, the commander received the rank of Field Marshal. In modern encyclopedias, lines have disappeared that at the same time Suvorov showed extreme cruelty. As you can see, he was promoted not only through victories over the enemies of the country, but also harshly suppressing riots within it, serving the empire.
Suvorov hanged the rioters en masse. Recently, more and more often in the Belarusian and Polish media there is information that during the suppression of the uprising of 1794 Suvorov left the gallows everywhere along the route of his troops. The picture looks frightening. But there is a direct order from Potemkin not to destroy the villages, to spare and not offend the local population. On August 22, 1794, Suvorov himself ordered the troops to avoid looting and spare the prisoners. Before the storming of the city of Prague near Warsaw, the order of the commander of the troops was read three times, so that the soldiers realized the impossibility of punitive measures against the civilian population. And the townspeople, who entered Warsaw, Suvorov solemnly presented the keys to the city, rejoicing in the liberator.
Suvorov came up with many military aphorisms. There are many army aphorisms attributed to Suvorov. In particular, he repeated that it is difficult in training, easy in battle. However, such a phrase does not at all correspond to the ideas of his teaching. The commander, who went through all the stages of service, suffered injuries, understood that the battle is not just work, but also a real opportunity to die. And it can't be easy here. And already his ill-wishers have changed the words of Suvorov. In fact, the commander in his book "The Science of Victory" said: "It's hard to learn, easy to march." They said that Suvorov invented the aphorism "Bullet is a fool, well done bayonet." It's just that it is forgotten that, as a regiment commander, this officer conducted rate-of-fire classes among his subordinates, bringing the skills to automatic. And Suvorov actually said: "And the bullet is not stupid, and the bayonet is great." So he did not deny new types of weapons, but considered it reasonable to use them along with traditional ones.
The crowning glory of Suvorov was the Swiss campaign. It is known that for this campaign Suvorov received the rank of Generalissimo, Emperor Paul ordered to build a monument to the commander in St. Petersburg. But the campaign began on September 10, 1799, and the honor began to be paid already on October 28. But at that time the campaign was in full swing, and the fate of the army was not yet clear. Having received the order to move forward in mid-August, Suvorov withdrew from his seat only on September 10, and in fact autumn had come, winter was approaching. The allies let the Russian troops down and they set out on a campaign with a meager supply of provisions and without much experience. Historians overlook Suvorov's criminal negligence - he didn't really know where he was going. The army went without maps of the area and guides. Near Lake Lucerne, it turned out that there was no further road, so the soldiers had to go through the snow-covered pass. The troops of Rimsky-Korsakov, to which Suvorov went to help, were defeated. The army left the campaign without food, ammunition, guns, losing a quarter of its personnel. But the transition itself turned out to be useless from a military point of view. But Russian chroniclers declared it a resounding success.
All military successes of Suvorov are associated with the weakness of his opponents. Some believe that Suvorov fought mainly with unorganized Asians and Turks. These, in principle, had nothing to oppose to the disciplined European Russian army. But Suvorov just as successfully fought both the Poles and the French. But the latter were at that time almost the main military force in Europe. And Austria-Hungary could not oppose anything to the French, calling Russia for help.
Suvorov founded Sevastopol. The Sevastopol Bay was first explored in the fall of 1773. Suvorov was one of the first to appreciate its importance, seeing here an opportunity for the construction of a fortified city. At that time, he commanded Russian troops in the Kuban and Crimea. Suvorov built the first fortifications here, having received an award from Catherine in the form of a gold snuff box with diamonds. These batteries frightened the Turks, forcing their squadron to go to sea from the Akhtiar harbor. In 1783, the ships of the Azov and Dnieper flotilla came here, becoming the basis for the creation of the Black Sea Fleet. And the date of foundation of modern Sevastopol is June 14, 1783. On this day, the first stone buildings were laid here - the house of the commander of the fleet, a chapel, a smithy and a pier. The work was carried out under the supervision of Rear Admiral Foma Fomich Mekenzi. And although by that time there were already fortifications and barracks on the shores of the bay, it was he who should be considered the founder of the city. And on February 23, Catherine, by her order, named the new fortress Sevastopol.
Suvorov was a Freemason. This myth is based on the minutes of a meeting of a German lodge. The records state that the Russian officer Suvorov became a new member. But the same protocol indicates his rank - lieutenant. And at that time, Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov was already a colonel. There was no benefit for the Freemasons to play down the title of their new member. Alexander Vasilyevich himself was a man of traditional views, professed Orthodoxy and did not want to participate in mysterious underground organizations. So a certain commander's namesake, already forgotten by all, joined the Masons.
Suvorov came up with field kitchens. It is no secret that the rapid movement of troops was Suvorov's trump card. Previously, on a campaign, the army made long halts for meals. Each soldier cooked for himself, cleaned. Suvorov solved the problem by equipping horse-drawn carts with cooks and food. They went ahead, and by the time the main forces approached, they were ready to distribute food. This made it possible to shorten the transit time, give the soldiers adequate food or additional time to rest. So the army really owes the appearance of field kitchens to Suvorov.
Suvorov possessed all Russian orders. According to the order statutes of that time, this could not be. It is correct to say that the commander had all the highest degrees of Russian orders of his time. In the Russian Empire, there was a rule according to which the awards were made strictly according to degrees, from junior to senior. If the cavalier had an order of the senior degree, this meant the previous award of the junior degrees. But in the case of Suvorov, there were exceptions. So, in July 1783, for the annexation of the Kuban peoples, Suvorov received the Order of St. Vladimir, immediately the first degree. The mission was important, but this award was not in the virtual collection of orders of junior degrees. Suvorov was generally a holder of the highest degrees of six of the seven Russian orders. Saint Catherine was given exclusively to the ladies of the court.