Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns


 


Russian Land Forces in the Adriatic: 1803-1807

By Robert Goetz

Russian Military Buildup in the Adriatic, 1803-1805

The Ionian Islands had formed a part of the Venetian Republic for centuries prior to 1797.  In May 1797, General Napoleon Bonaparte, commander of the French Army of Italy, invaded and occupied Venice and in June launched an amphibious landing to seize the Ionian Islands clustered at the mouth of the Adriatic Sea.  In the Treaty of Campo Formio (October 1797), France awarded most of the mainland Venetian territory and the islands along the Dalmatian coast to Austria, but retained the Ionian Islands as a strategic base for further operations in the Balkans and eastern Mediterranean.  When war on the continent broke out in 1799 with a second coalition that included Austria , Russia and the Ottoman Turks as unlikely allies, a combined Russo-Turkish operation had taken the Ionian Islands from the French.  Subsequently, a small Russian force participated in the expulsion of the French from the Parthenopian Republic, which again became the Kingdom of Naples with the return of the former Bourbon rulers.  This campaign sparked Russian ambitions for establishing a permanent presence in the Mediterranean.

Russia retained control of the Ionian Islands, dubbed the Septinsular Republic, after withdrawing from the 2nd Coalition at the beginning of 1800.  Although no longer participating in the war, Russia established a garrison battalion at Corfu, and left a grenadier battalion in Naples to help the reactionary Neapolitan monarchy re-establish itself.  The grenadier battalion was subsequently transferred to Corfu to bolster the pro-Russian Greek government in the islands.   

Following the rupture of the Peace of Amiens in the spring of 1803, Tsar Alexander offered to mediate between France and Britain , but Napoleon rejected the offer, doubting Alexander’s ability to remain impartial.  When Napoleon ordered French troops to occupy the Neapolitan ports along the Adriatic coast in late summer 1803, Alexander authorized a troop buildup in the Ionian Islands to forestall their seizure by the French.

Over the next 6 months troops transports were constructed or collected in Russian Black Sea ports while regiments were ordered to march from their cantons to the ports.  Relations with the Turks remained cool but peaceful and Russia was able to use the straits to transport troops into the Mediterranean.  At the peak of the troop transfer during the summer of 1804, the Russian Black Sea ports were not able to supply enough transports for the monthly shuttling of troops to the Ionians, requiring the disarming of warships to provide additional transport space at times.

On Corfu, prior to March 1801:

Corfu Garrison Battalion (Gogolev)

17/29 August 1802 - Arriving from Naples:

Vessels: Grigorii Veliki Armenii (50), Mikhail (50) and 3 transports
Land forces:  Grenadier Battalion Nazimov  - 4 companies

29 December 1802/10 January 1803: 

Forces on Corfu were designated as the Kura Musketeer Regiment, to be organized into 3 battalions of 4 companies each.  One battalion of the Akhtiar garrison regiment ( Sevastopol) was ordered to Corfu to complete the regiment.

13/25 March 1804 – Arriving from Sevastopol

Vessels:  Kryepki (54), Ioann Zlatoust (32), Pospyeshnyi (32), Grigorii Veliki Armenii (transport)
Land forces:    Garrison Battalion (Akhtiar)
Garrison Artillery
Engineers

2/14 June 1804 – Arriving from Ochakov

Vessels: Sv. Paraskeveia (74), Simeon I Anna (74), transports
Land forces:  Siberia Grenadier Regiment (2 battalions)

2/14 July 1804 – Arriving from Odessa

Vessels:  Aziya (66), Sv. Troitsa (66), transports
Land forces:    Siberia Grenadier Regiment (1 battalion)
13th Jaeger Regiment (1 battalion)
1 Company 6th Artillery Regiment (12 x 12 pdrs)

22 July/ 3 August 1804 – Arriving from Sevastopol?

Vessels:   Mariia Magdalena Vitorya (68), Mikhail (50), transports
Land forces:  13th Jaeger Regiment (2)
1 company 6th Artillery Regiment (12 x 12 pdrs)

1/13 August 1804 – Arriving from Sevastopol?

Vessels: Varakhail (68), Pobyeda (66), transports
Land forces:  14th Jaeger Regiment (2)
1 company 6th Artillery Regiment (12 x 12 pdrs)

1/13 September 1804 – Arriving from Odessa

Vessels:  Grigorii Veliki Armenii (50), transports
Land forces:  14th Jaeger Regiment (1 battalion)
Vitebsk Musketeer Regiment (1 battalion)

[4/16]? October 1804

Vessels: no record of vessels involved
Land forces:  Vitebsk Musketeer Regiment (2 battalions) [arrival date noted in Vitebsk regimental history]

23 January/4 February 1805 – Arriving from Kronstadt

Vessels:          Baltic Squadron of Adm. Greig:  Retvizan (64), Sv. Elena (74), Venus (50), Avtroil (32)
Marines:  1st Marine (Morskoi) Regiment – 2 companies

September 1805 – Arriving from Odessa

Vessels:  Isidor (74), Maria Magdalena Vitorya (transport), Sv. Mikhail (transport), Nazaret (44), transports
Land forces:    Kozlov Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions)
Kolyvan Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions)
Aleksopol Musketeer Regiment (1 battalion)
Horse Artillery (Don Cossack HA?) (12 x 6 pdrs)[ may have been sent in 1804]

B.  Situation of Russian Forces October 1805

As a part of the 3rd Coalition’s grand plans, Russian and British forces in the Mediterranean were to cooperate in the campaign against the French in Italy .  British forces from Malta and Russian forces in the Ionian Islands, reinforced by additional troops sent from Odessa, would land in Naples under the overall command of General of Infantry Moritz Petrovich Lacy.  Augmented by the Neapolitan army, the force would liberate the Italian peninsula, occupied by a corps under General Gouvion St. Cyr, from the French while the Archduke Charles with the Austrian Army of Italy would oppose the main French Army of Italy under Marshal Andre Massena.  Events in Germany moved too quickly, however, and by the time transports were assembled and favorable winds had allowed the allied forces to land in Naples, the Austrian Army of Germany had surrendered to Napoleon at Ulm and Charles had withdrawn from Italy pursued by Massena.  After sitting for several weeks awaiting a clarification of events, the force re-embarked, the Russians returning to the Ionians, and the British to Malta .  The Neapolitans were left to their fate at the hands of an irate Napoleon who sent Massena to occupy Naples in a rapid campaign in spring of 1806.

GoI Moritz Petrovich Lacy – Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in Naples

Russian Contingent of Naples Descent Force
General-Lieutenant Roman Karlovich Anrep

Brigade:  General-Major Bakhmetiev-3

Siberia Grenadier Regiment (3 battalions) – 2391

Shef:    General-Major Aleksei Nikolaevich Bakhmetiev-3
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Petr Panteleevich Popov

Kozlov Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions) – approx. 1875

Shef:    General-Major Vasily Ivanovich Maksheev
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Fedor Fedorovich Padeisky

Brigade: General-Major Musin-Pushkin

Vitebsk Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions) - 1875

Shef:    General-Major Pavel Klavdievich Musin-Pushkin
Kmdr: none

Kolyvan Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions) – approx 1875

Shef: General-Major Andrey Fedorovich Zherdiuk
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Aleksander Andreevich Lopukhin

Aleksopol Musketeer Regiment (1 grenadier battalion) – approx. 625

Shef: General-Major Nikolai Alekseevich Lobeika
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Ivan Ivanovich Palitzyn

Brigade: General-Major Knyaz Vyazemsky

13e Jaeger Regiment (3 battalions) - approx. 1505

Shef:    General-Major Knyaz Vasily Vasilievich Vyazemsky
Kmdr:  Major Kiril Vasilievich Zabelin

14e Jaeger Regiment (3 battalions) – approx. 1505

Shef: General-Major Ivan Ivanovich Shteder
Kmdr:  Polkovnik (Colonel) Fedor Evstafievich Kniper

Legion of Light Riflemen:  General-Major Emmanuil Grigorievich Popondopoloapprox. 1964

Souliote Legion (2 sections)

Kmdr:  Polkovnik (Colonel) Alexander Benkendorf

Epiriote Legion (2 sections)

Kmdr:  Maj. Chrestos Kalogeres-Tsames/Capt. Demostikos

Cheimarriote Legion (1 section)

Kmdr:  Major Georgios Palatinos

Peloponnesian Legion (.5 section)

Kmdr:  Capt. Anagnostaras Papageorgiu

[Greco-Albanian forces.  Organized into 4-company “sections” rather than “battalions” – total 22 companies.] 

1 Position Co. 6th Artillery Regiment (12 x 12 pdrs) - approx. 250

Kmdr:  Backolz

Remaining in Ionian Islands –

Kura Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions) – approx 1800

Shef:  General-Major Fedor Viktorovich Nazimov
Kmdr:  None
[1 battalion Corfu, 1 battalion Zante, 1 battalion Cephalonia/St. Maura/Cerigo

1st Marine (Morskoi) Regiment (2 companies) – aboard naval vessels 

Corfu garrison battalion (1 battalion) – approx 600

2 Position Cos. 6th Artillery Regiment (each 12 x 12 pdrs) – in Corfu

1 Horse Artillery Company (Don Cossak HA?) (12 x 6 pdrs) – in Corfu

Septinsular Militia – 4000 – distributed amongst the islands

Macedonian Legion (4 companies) approx. 356 –- distributed amongst the islands

Intended for the Ionian Descent force but left in Odessa due to insufficient transports:

Aleksopol Musketeer Regiment (2 battalions)

Shef: General-Major Nikolai Alekseevich Lobeika
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Ivan Ivanovich Palitzyn

Nizhegorod Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions)

Shef: General-Major Mikhail Alekseevich Khitrovo
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Panteleimon Egorovich Benardos-2

Smolensk Dragoon Regiment (5 squadrons)

Shef:  General-Major Ermolai Ermolaevich Gamper
Kmdr: Podpolkovnik (Lt-Colonel) Petr L’vovich Chelitshev

2 regiments Don Cossacks (5 pulks each)

1 co. 6th Artillery Regiment (12 x 12 pdrs)

Total strength of the expedition varies.  Mikhailovsky gives 12,250 Russians and 1640 Albanians, Souliotes and Cheimariotes.  These total would seem to exclude the artillerists.  Pappas places the total Septinsular contingent somewhat higher at 1964.

C.  Russian Forces 1806-7

Following the abortive Italian campaign, Siberia Grenadiers and grenadier battalion of Aleksopol Musketeers returned to Russia via the Black Sea in January 1806.  In May 1806, the forces remaining in the Adriatic were designated the 15th Division and fell under the command of Admiral Seniavin as commander-in-chief of all Russian land and naval forces in the Mediterranean.  Seniavin’s forces fought several land actions with the French along the Adriatic coast, the most significant being at Castelnuovo between French forces under General Molitor sent to occupy Ragusa ( Dubrovnik) and Russian forces from Cattaro (Kotor) in June/July 1806.  Russian forces involved in the actions in and around Cattaro included 13th Jaeger, 2 companies of 14th Jaeger, 6 companies of Vitebsk Musketeers and 1 battalion each (probably the grenadier battalions) of Kolyvan and Kozlov Musketeers.  Seniavin subsequently used his naval superiority to land troops to seize several of the Dalmatian islands in order to bottle up smaller French vessels in the ports of Ragusa ( Dubrovnik) and Fiume ( Rijeka).  Curzola was taken in November 1806, Hvar and Brach in December.

With the Russo-Turkish war intensifying by the end of 1806, Seniavin shifted his attention to operations against the Turks, while Napoleon withdrew forces from Italy to Poland for the main effort against Russia and Prussia and transferred French forces from the Dalmations to replace those taken from Italy .  As a result, there were no actions of significance in the Adriatic in 1807.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Tilsit (July 1807), Cattaro and the Ionian Islands were ceded to France .  The ongoing Russo-Turkish War prevented the return of Russian forces by sea via the Black Sea, while the terms of Tilsit aligned Russia with France against Britain , preventing return by way of the Atlantic and Baltic.  Russian land forces received permission from Austria to march overland

Russian 15th Division

Kozlov Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions)

Shef: General-Major Vasily Ivanovich Maksheev
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Fedor Fedorovich Padeisky

Vitebsk Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions) 

Shef: General-Major Pavel Klavdievich Musin-Pushkin
Kmdr:  none

Kolyvan Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions)  

Shef:   General-Major Andrey Fedorovich Zherdiuk
Kmdr: Polkovnik (Colonel) Aleksander Andreevich Lopukhin

Kura Musketeer Regiment (3 battalions)

Shef: General-Major Fedor Viktorovich Nazimov
Kmdr:  None

[remained in garrisons, did not participate in actions vs. French]

13e Jaeger Regiment (3 battalions)

Shef:  General-Major Knyaz Vasily Vasilievich Vyazemsky
Kmdr: Major Kiril Vasilievich Zabelin

14e Jaeger Regiment (3 battalions)

Shef:  General-Major Ivan Ivanovich Shteder          
Kmdr:  Polkovnik (Colonel) Fedor Evstafievich Kniper

3  x Position Co. 6th Artillery Regiment (12 x 12 pdrs each)

1 Horse Artillery Company (Don Cossack HA?) (12 x 6 pdrs)

Additional Russian Forces:

1st Marines – 2 companies

1st Marines – 2 companies [arrived with Seniavin January 1806]

2nd Marines – 2 companies [arrived with Seniavin January 1806]

3rd Marines – 4 companies [arrived with Ignatiev 1806]

[November 1806:  Marine companies in the Adriatic were combined and re-designated 2nd Marine regiment]

Corfu garrison battalion (1 battalion)

Greek and Macedonian Forces:

Legion of Light Riflemen:  General-Major Emmanuil Grigorievich Popondopolo 

Souliote Legion

Kmdr:  Polkovnik (Colonel) Alexander Benkendorf

Epiriote Legion

Kmdr:  Maj. Chrestos Kalogeres-Tsames/Capt. Demostikos

Cheimarriote Legion

Kmdr:  Major Georgios Palatinos

Peloponnesian Legion

Kmdr:  Capt. Anagnostaras Papageorgiu

Spartan Legion

Kmdr:  Major Pierros Gregorakes

[The composition of the Legion of Light Riflemen varied considerably through this period due to the volatility of local politics and recruiting.  Strength reached a peak of 2340 men in 1807, but individual units varied in strength with sections being raised, merged and disbanded as manpower and ethnic loyalties fluctuated (Pappas, 214).]

Septinsular Militia
Macedonian Legion


Sources:

Anderson, R. C.  Naval Wars in the Levant, 1559-1853.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952.

Chernyshev, A. A.  Rossiiskii Parusnyi Flot.  Moskva:  Voennoe Izdatelystvo, 1997.

Galkin, Mikhail.  Boevaia Sluzhba 27-go Pekhotnago Vitebskago Polka 1703-1903 g. Moscow:  Pechatnoe Delo, 1908.

Mikhailovsky-Danilevski, A.  Relation de la Campagne de 1805.  Paris:  J. Dumaine, 1846.

Pappas, Nicholas Charles.  Greeks in Russian Military Service in the Late 18th and Early 19th Centuries.  Thessaloniki:  Institute for Balkan Studies, 1991.

Podmazo, Aleksandr.  Shefy I Komandiry Regularnykh Polkov Russkoi Armii, 1796-1815.  http://www.museum.ru/museum/1812/Library/Podmazo/

Saul, Norman E.  Russia and the Mediterranean, 1797-1807.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1970.

Viskovatov, A. V. Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army:  Volume 10a, Organization 1801-1825.  St. Petersburg, 1851.  English translation by Mark Conrad.  Hopewell, NJ: On Military Matters, 1993.  Also, see the original Russian text at http://www.museum.ru/museum/1812/Army/Viskowatov/index.html

 

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