Research Subjects: Biographies

Russian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars: General Peter Aleksandrovih Tolstoy

By Alexander Mikaberidze, FINS

(1769 – 10 October 1844, Moscow)

Tolstoy was born to a prominent Russian noble family and was enlisted as a corporal in the Life Guard Preobrazhensk Regiment on 12 January 1775. His active service began as a sub lieutenant on 1 June 1785 and in the same year, he became flugel adjutant in the headquarters of General-en-Chef Prince Saltykov. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the regular army on 25 July 1788 and appointed adjutant general of Prince Saltykov on 15 November 1788. He participated in the Russo-Swedish War in 1789-1790, joined the Ingermanland Carabineer Regiment on 8 April 1792 and was transferred to Pskov Dragoon Regiment on 25 April 1793. He served in Poland in 1792-1795, fighting at Brest (promoted to colonel, 9 July 1794), Maciejowice, Warsaw, and Praga [wounded in the left hand, awarded Order of St. George, (3rd Class), 12 January 1795]. He was promoted to major general and appointed chef of the Nizhegorod Dragoon Regiment on 20 November 1797. He was appointed adjutant general to Emperor Paul on 10 December 1797 and awarded the Order of St. Anna (1st Class) in early 1798. In 1799, he served as a liaison officer between Archduke Johann and Field Marshal Suvorov during operations in Italy and Switzerland. He was promoted to lieutenant general and appointed to the Imperial Retinue on 4 November 1799. He was appointed to the Collegium of War on 18 December 1799 and to the Senate on 29 February 1800. He was appointed military Governor of Vyborg and head of Finland Inspectorate on 6 November 1802. From 1803 - 1805, he served as military governor of St. Petersburg, became commander of the Life Guard Preobrazhensk Regiment on 4 June 1803 and infantry inspector of the St. Petersburg Inspectorate on 25 May 1803. After a military parade in late 1803, Tolstoy was nominated for the Order of St. Alexander of Neva, but he declined it and accepted a snuffbox with Alexander’s anagram. In 1805, Tolstoy commanded a corps in Pomerania and Hanover, besieging Hameln and, in 1806, he served as liaison officer between the King of Prussia and General Bennigsen. After the disaster at Jena, Tolstoy was appointed duty general in Bennigsen’s headquarters and temporarily commanded 6th Division, and Tuchkov’s Corps, fighting at Ostrolenka and along the Narew River. In October 1807 - October 1808, he was ambassador to Paris and was recalled because of his criticism of Napoleon and treaties of Tilsit and Erfurt. Returning to Russia, he served as inspector of the recruitment depots. In 1812, he commanded opolchenyes of the 3rd District, which included Kazan, Nizhegorodsk, Penza, Kostroma, Simbirsk, and Vyatsk gubernias. Tolstoy joined the main army in early 1813 and fought at Dresden, Magdeburg, and Hamburg (where he received the Purssian Orders of Red and Black Eagles, and the French Legion of Honor). He was promoted to general of infantry on 14 October 1814 with seniority since 1 July 1814. After war, he commanded the 4th Corps (25 January 1816)  and 5th Corps in Moscow and became member of the State Council on 11 September 1823. He was appointed chef of the Moscow Infantry Regiment on 29 May 1827 and commander-in-chief of troops in St. Petersburg and Kronstadt on 4 May 1828. In 1828-1830, he also served in the main headquarters and supervised the military settlements. For his service, he was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir (1st Class) on 4 October 1830. During the Polish uprising, he was given command of the Army of Reserve on 21 April 1831 and operated in Lithuania. He was awarded a golden sword with diamonds and inscription “For Vanquishing Polish Rebels.”  In 1831-1836, he was involved with military settlements and briefly served as commandant of Moscow in 1836.

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


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