Research Subjects: Biographies

Russian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars: Major General Jacob Petrovich Kulnev

By Alexander Mikaberidze, FINS


Major General Jacob Petrovich Kulnev

Major General Jacob Kulnev

(6 August 1763, Lutzin, Vitebsk gubernia – 31 July 1812, Sivoshino, Vitebsk gubernia)

Major General Jacob Petrovich Kulnev was born to a noble family from Vitebsk gubernia. He studied in the Cadet Corps and was assigned as lieutenant to Chernigov Infantry Regiment on 1 March 1785. Late that year he joined the St. Petersburg Dragoon Regiment and participated in Russo-Turkish War in 1787-1792. Kulnev was assigned to the Perejaslavl Horse Jager Regiment on 15 November 1789 and fought in Poland in 1792-1794, including actions at Oshmyani, Lida, Kobryn, Brest-Litovsk (promoted to rotmistr), and Praga (promoted to major). In 1797-1798 and 1801-1806, he served in the Sumsk Hussar Regiment and did not participate in any military operations. He was transferred to the Grodno Hussar Regiment as lieutenant colonel in late 1806. He participated in the 1807 Campaign in Poland, fighting at Guttstadt, on the Passarge River (received the Order of St. Vladimir, 4th Class), Heilsberg, and Friedland. For his actions, he was promoted to colonel and awarded the Order of St. Anna (2nd Class) . In 1808, he served under Prince Bagration in Finland and distinguished himself commanding the advance guard. He took part in actions at Kalaioki, Pihaioki, Sikaioki, Lappo, Kuortane, Salmi, and Oravais [where he received the Order of St. George (3rd Class) and 5,000 rubles]. Kulnev was awarded the Order of St. George (3rd Class) and promoted to major general on 24 December 1808. Next year, he led his troops to the Aland Islands and was among the first to reach the continental Sweden across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia. For his actions, Kulnev was awarded the Order of St. Anna (1st Class) and appointed shef of the Byelorussia Hussar Regiment on 27 April 1809. After the war, Kulnev briefly remained in Finland as an assistant to General Demidov, who garrisoned the Aland Islands. In 1810, Kulnev accompanied General Kamensky to the Danubian Principalities and assumed command of the Russian advance guard. He fought at Ruse, Silistra, Shumla, and Batin (where he received a golden sword). However, he had an argument with Kamensky during the battle at Batin and left the army. He was appointed shef of the Grodno Hussar Regiment on 29 January 1811. During the 1812 Campaign, he commanded the advance guard of General Wittgenstein’s corps and fought in rearguard actions at Wilkomir and Druya. He defeated the French at Klyastitsy on 31 July, but recklessly attacked the French forces on 1 August and was mortally wounded when a French projectile torn off both his legs. He was initially buried on the battlefield, but his remains were transferred to Ilsenberg in Vitebsk gubernia in 1831. Kulnev’s third brother, Nicholas, commanded the Riga Dragoon Regiment between 13 June 1815 and 11 May 1816.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: September 2002; updated December 2003.


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