General Petr Ivanovitj Bagration (1765-1812)
Bagration, who came to be one of the most famous Russian generals, was born in Kizlyar of a Georgian military family. He began his successful military career in 1782 at the Caucasian musketeer regiment. As many of the greatest Russian generals of this time, Bagration also served under the legendary Suvorov and attracted his attention during military campaigns in the 1780's and 90's. Bagration had quickly advanced to the rank of Major General and as such he took part in the 1799 campaign in Switzerland under Suvorov's command. In Switzerland Bagration showed his talent in many a dangerous and interesting action.
Bagration then took part in the Austerlitz campaign of 1805 with high grades. At Schengraben, he stood his ground with 6000 troops against a widely superior enemy. For this he was raised to the rank of Lieutenant General and also given the Order of St. Georgij Second Class. He then took part in the Polish campaign of 1807. He participated in the battles of Eylau and Friedland that year.
During the war in Finland, Bagration started out with occupying the middle parts of the country. With his 21st division, he took both Tammerfors (Fin. Tampere) and Åbo (Fin. Turku); which was at this time considered the capital of Finland. He also captured the Åland islands, as well as kept up the pressure on Klingspor's retreating Swedish army by following it north towards Björneborg (Fin. Oulu).
After having been on a temporary leave, due to bad health, Bagration returned to the scene of war in late summer of 1808. He then immediately had to deal with a Swedish attempt to put ashore 3.500 men at Helsinge in southern Finland. The operation was badly planned on the Swedish side and Bagration beat them soundly. Thereafter the war moved on into northern Sweden, but Bagration's mission was not over as yet. In the winter of 1809, Bagration was ordered to move over the frozen Gulf of Bothnia towards Stockholm, to threaten the enemy in his back yard. Although the operation was widely opposed in the Russian high command, Bagration was more than willing to go. "If I am ordered to go, I shall go", he said. When the operation was finally in progress, he threw out the Swedish from Åland and his advance guard under Kulnev took Grisslehamn on the Swedish mainland. Kulnev held the town for a couple of days before returning east, after concluded negotiations.
In 1809 Bagration was raised to the rank of General of Infantry and led the army that was operating against the Turkish. He won many battles over the Turks. From 1811 he was the commander of the Second Western Army and that was the unit he commanded also during the Napoleonic invasion of Russia in 1812.
In the Great Patriotic war against Napoleon that followed, Bagration used all his skill and tactics to join up with Barclay de Tolly's First Army of the West; and it therefore became impossible for the French Emperor to beat the Russian armies one at a time. The Czar passed the command of the entire Russian army to Kutuzov as Barclay de Tolly and Bagration did never get along very well. At Borodino on September 7, 1812, Bagration was in command of the Russian left flank and had as mission to defend the Semenovskij Flechées, where the French main attack came. Bagration beat off attack after attack, yet the French storm never seemed to wane.
Bagration was mortally injured in the battle and died a few days later from these wounds.One of Russia's greatest and most corageous generals had gone to history.
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