08 April 2003, 15:09

Baryatinsky, Alexander Ivanovich

Military and statesman. Prince, Russian field-marshal general (1859). Active participant of the Caucasian wars.

Born May 2 (14), 1815, in the estate of Ivanovskoye, Kursk Province. Native of an ancient noble family, 20th-generation descendant of Prince Ryurik. Received primary education from domestic teachers. At the age of 14, entered Moscow Noble Boarding School. In June 1831, Baryatinsky became a Junker of Cavalry Guard Regiment and was soon appointed to the Guard Junker and Junior Ensign School. On November 8, 1833, promoted to Cornet of the Czarevitch the Heir's Leib-Cuirassier Regiment. In the first years of officer service, Baryatinsky led a frivolous and empty-headed life thus evoking Emperor Nikolay the First's discontent. As a punishment for debauches in March 1835, was transferred to the Caucasus under general Velyaminov's command. Took active part in general Velyaminov's expedition to the headwaters of the Abim River, was severely wounded. For the participation in this operation, was promoted to an ancient and awarded with a golden saber endorsed "For Courage."

After recovery in St. Petersburg, Baryatinsky was appointed to the attendance of the throne's heir Great Prince Alexander Nikolayevich (to-be Emperor Alexander the Second). Invariably accompanied the future emperor in his journeys in Russia and Europe.

In 1845, being already a colonel, A.I. Baryatinsky was again directed to the Caucasus. Commanding a battalion of Kabardinsky regiment, took part in Dargin expedition against Shamil. Acquitted himself well in cruel battle at the Andi Heights causing admiration of the commander-in-chief prince Vorontsov. For this battle, during which he was wounded again, Baryatinsky was awarded a fourth-degree order of St. George (orden Sv. Georgiya 4-oy stepeni).

In 1847, Baryatinsky was appointed a commander of the Kabardinsky regiment. On June 23, 1848, the regiment was distinguished in the battle of Gergebil, for which Baryatinsky was promoted to major general with the attendance to His Majesty the Emperor. While fighting in the battles, Baryatinsky found time to learn the history of the Caucasus and prepared a number of military, strategic, and administrative reports for the Vicegerent Vorontsov.

In early 1850, Baryatinsky turned into Nikolay the First's disfavor by refusing to marry M. Stolypina, assigned to him by the Czar. In late 1850, Baryatinsky was appointed a commander of the Caucasian Grenadier Brigade, and in winter of the following year ? commander of the left wing of the Caucasian Forced Line. In 1851-1853, led two expeditions against Great Chechnya, the main area of Shamil's actions, spending much time and energy for organizing them. The operations were of expressly assaulting nature. The Russian troops for the first time in many years marched through the entire Great Chechnya, which after this march remained inapproachable only from the east, due to steep and forested Kachkalyk Ridge.

In 1853, A.I. Baryatinsky, with Vorontsov's consent, was promoted to the position of the head of the Russian Troops Caucasus Headquarters and received adjutant generalship. During the Crimean War of 1853-1856, A.I. Baryatinsky acted together with the Caucasian corps on the Turkish border. Took part in a battle of Kyuryuk-Dara, was awarded the third-degree order of St. George (1854). Not getting along well with the commander-in-chief of the Russian troops in the Caucasus, N. Muravyov, Baryatinsky temporarily left the Caucasus, to command the troops in Nikolaev and later the Guard Reserve Corps. In July 1856, Czar Alexander the Second appointed Baryatinsky commander-in-chief of the Russian troops and Vicegerent in the Caucasus and promoted him to infantry general. Thus Baryatinsky received an opportunity to finalize, with all his energy, the years-long epopee of Russia's struggle for this region.

Taking the commandment, Baryatinsky set himself a goal to finalize the defeat of highlanders' detachments. Besides, it was necessary to finish Britain's, Persia's, and Turkey's claims for the Caucasus. The closest aides to the commander-in-chief became D. Milyutin, the head of the Caucasian Corps Headquarters, and N. Evdokimov, the commander of the left wing of the Caucasian Line. With active participation from Milyutin, a future Russia's military minister, a military action plan for the East Caucasus against Shamil was elaborated. It was supposed to block the highlanders' detachments coming to help Shamil from the Lezgin Line. The actions in the West Caucasus were considered secondary. According to this program, purposeful and methodic operations started.

By fall 1858, the Russian troops reached much success. Great and Minor Chechnya were occupied, and Shamil was forced to take cover in Dagestan. Soon a massive attack on Dagestan from three fronts began, and in August of the following year, the last act of struggle with Shamil blew up near Gunib settlement under Baryatinsky personal command. Its results were announced in Baryatinsky order, "Gunib is taken. Shamil is captured. Congratulations to the Caucasian Army." In 1860, Russia's authority was set over the West Caucasus as well.

For the Caucasus success, Baryatinsky was awarded second-degree order of St. George and order of St. Andrey Pervozvanny, appointed an honorable commander of Kabardisnky regiment, and promoted to field-marshal generalship. Taking the new territories under his rule, the Caucasian Vicegerent applied several measures that helped establish new forms of rule over the region, develop agriculture, and spread Christianity.

In fall 1862, Baryatinsky received Alexander the Second's permission to resign from the position and receive a vacation for treatment; the wounds and years of military service recoiled upon him. Upon demobilization, became a member of the State Council. Spent much time abroad for treatment. Opposed the military reforms of 1860s-1870s.

During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Baryatinsky proposed the Russian government a plan of a military union with Prussia with a purpose of dividing the Austro-Hungary possessions, but Alexander the Second's special secret committee rejected this plan. Due to Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, many advocated for Baryatinsky appointment as a commander-in-chief of the Russian Army, but in order to avoid confrontation with Milyutin, Alexander the Second preferred to trust this position to his brother, Great Prince Nikolay Nikolayevich. Baryatinsky closely watched the war process; upon its completion, was enraged with the results of the Berlin Congress and predicted a new stage of European superpowers' struggle in the Balkans.

Prince Alexander Ivanovich Baryatinsky died on February 25 (March 9), 1879, in Geneva, at the age of 63. According to his will, his body was transported to Russian and buried in his familial estate of Ivanovksoye, Kursk Province.

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