10 April 2003, 17:38

Ermolov, Alexey Petrovich

Russian statesman and military man. Infantry (1818) and artillery (1837) general.

Born May 24 (June 4), 1777, in Moscow, in a family of an officer. Received education at home and in Moscow Universitarian Noble Pension. Since young years learnt bookbinding, believing that with Jacobins' coming to Russia one will have to earn the living with handicrafts. At the age of 10 was enlisted in Preobrazhensky regiment and started the military service in 1792 in the rank of a captain. In 1794, participated in the war against Poland and was distinguished by A.V. Suvorov with the fourth-degree order of St. George (orden Sv. Georgiya 4-oy stepeni). In 1796, participated in V. Zubov's Army's Persian expedition; was awarded the fourth-degree order of St. Vladimir (orden Sv. Vladimira 4-oy stepeni) and promoted to lieutenant colonel for the courage at the assault on Derbent.

In 1798, A.P. Ermolov's career was unexpectedly cut: for the participation in the officers' political circle Freethinkers ("Volnodumtsy") was imprisoned in Petropavlovskaya fort and then exiled to Kostroma "for eternal dwelling". In 1801, after Emperor Paul the First's murder, A.P. Ermolov, among many, was forgiven and continued the service but was disliked by many influential personae for "impertinence" and independence. Participated in wars with France in 1805-1807. In 1808, was promoted to major general.

During the 1812 Patriotic War, A.P. Ermolov was the head of First Western Army Headquarters; played an important role in the battles of Valutina Gora, Borodino, and Maloyaroslavets; personally led the troops into the attack at Borodino. After the battle of Borodino, was the head of the Joined Armies Headquarters, played an important role in the battle of Maloyaroslavets, where he issued commands from the name of Commander-in-chief. By moving Dokhturov's detachment to the Kaluga road, Ermolov blocked the way to Napoleon's army and fought for a day until the main troops arrived. Napoleon was forced to retreat along the wasted Smolensk road.

After the Russian Army went over the Neman, Ermolov headed the artillery of the allied armies; since 1813, commanded different joint regiments. In 1813-1814, acted proficiently at the battle of Bautzen, covered himself with glory in the battle of Kulm, and commanded the grenadier corps in the assault on Paris; awarded with the second-degree order of St. George.

Upon return to Russia, Ermolov was recommended by Arakcheev for the position of a Military Minister. However, Czar Alexander the First chose to give another position to the 38-year-old general. In 1816, Alexey Petrovich Ermolov was appointed commander-in-chief in Georgia and commander of the Special Georgian (Caucasian) Corps; was promoted to infantry general two years later.

For the next 11 years, A.P. Ermolov ruled the Caucasus with a firm hand, acting providently and shrewdly, at times cruelly, but he combined the cruelty and rigidity with the concern for the area's development. Ermolov did not only conduct a row of military operations in Chechnya and Dagestan, build new military forts (Groznaya, Vnezapnaya, and Burnaya), and suppressed the riots in Imeretia, Guria, and Mingrelia, but also encouraged the development of trade and industry in the Caucasus and improved the Georgian Military Road. During his rule, mineral-water-based hospitals were created, the city of Pyatigorsk was founded, and the city of Kislovodsk was built in the place of the Kislaya fort.

A.P. Ermolov recruited talented and educated people for the military service in his troops. He regenerated Suvorov's traditions in formation and education of the military, and thus had a reputation of a progressive figure, and the Decembrists even planned to involve him in the Interim Revolutionary Government.

The Persian troops' intrusion in Georgia in 1826 served a pretext for Czar Nicholas the First to accuse Ermolov of lack of precaution and to dispatch general I.F. Paskevich to the Caucasus with special authority from the czar. Charging Paskevich with the troops' commandment, Ermolov soon turned in his resignation, which was satisfied in March 1827.

A.P. Ermolov spent the following years of his life mainly in Moscow and Oryol. In 1831, Nicholas the First appointed him a member of the State Council, but Ermolov absented himself from the hearings. Later, A.P. Ermolov occasionally went to inspect the troops and attend the military parades. In 1837, was awarded a title of artillery general. After the start of the Crimean War 1853-1856, the Muscovite noblemen elected Ermolov the head of the province's citizens-in-arms, but for a 76-year-old man this position was but honorary.

Alexey Petrovich Ermolov deceased in Moscow on April 11 (23), 1861, and was buried in Oryol, near his father, in the church of the Trinity Cemetery, according to his will.

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