Sunday, March 21, 2010
Part 2 of what is now a 3 part series on Russian military heroes:
Early life: Alexander Vasilivich Suvorov was born on November 24, 1729 in Moscow. His family was nobility from Novgorod and his father was already an established general. He was a sickly child and his father expected him to enter the civil service. However, when he was twelve a neighbor general named Hannibal, who was a black general presented as a gift to Peter the Great, was so impressed by Suvorov's knowledge that he personally insisted that Suvorov be allowed to choose his career. He joined the Army at the age of 17 as a private.
Military career: After joining the military at 17 he participated in the Seven Years War where he served with distinction. He rose to the rank of colonel in 1762 at the age of 33. Then he served in Poland where he captured Krakow and paved the way for the first partition of Poland. He was then promoted to major general where he was sent to Turkey. He spent most of his military career between Turkey and Poland where he never lost a battle. He died in 1800 with the rank of Field Marshal, after fighting French Revolutionary armies in Austria including most of Napoleon's best generals, after given a military triumph through Moscow. He was buried at the Church of the Annunciation at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery (remember him?) with the simple inscription "Here lies Suvorov".
Personal quirks: Suvorov was the general every enlisted soldier wishes he served under. He would routinely joke with his men, sleeping where they slept, and eating what they ate. He was a firm believer in finding alternative solutions to problems and teaching his men to think for themselves. The best example of this was at his funeral. When the procession was carrying his casket through the church door they could not fit the coffin through the door, several of his former soldiers jumped out from the crowd yelling "Suvorov must pass no matter what!" and turned the casket on its side. Below are a few of his more memorable quotes.
"What is difficult in training will become easy in a battle",
"The bullet is a fool, the bayonet is a fine chap",
"Perish yourself but rescue your comrade!".
"attack with the cold steel–push hard with the bayonet!"
Legacy: Suvorov is widely remembered as one of the greatest generals of all time by Russians, comparable to Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. He also has a medal named after him, the Order of Suvorov, which is given to generals who complete a decisive offensive campaign against the enemy.