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The Napoleon Series > Military Information > Battles and Campaigns



Patriotic Thoughts or

Political and Military Considerations

on the Upcoming War between Russia and France and on Inciting an Insurrection in Germany by Means of a Military Expedition

By Peter Andrrevich Chuikevich
Translated by Alexander Mikaberidze


Chuikevich, Peter Andreevich (1783-1831). Born in a family of minor nobility in the Poltava gubernia. He studied at the Sukhoputskii Shlyakhetskii Cadet Corps, where he distinguished himself in mathematics and foreign languages (French and German) and after graduatin in 1797, he began service as an ensign in the Kronshtadtskii Garrison Regiment. In 1804, he was appointed to His Imperial Majesty’s Suite on Quartermaster Service, which at the time served as the Russian General Staff. He participated in the 1807 Campaign in Poland against the French and in the Russo-Turkish War in 1808-1809 and was awarded four orders for gallantry and service. In the spring of 1809, Chuikevich retired and turned his attention to military theory. In 1810, Minister of War Mikhail Barclay de Tolly, who had appreciated Chuikevich’s skills, appointed him to the newly established Secret Expedition of the Ministry of War, which served as the center of military intelligence. Chuikevich served as one of the leading analysts in the Secret Expedition, producing numerous memos, coordinating activities of Russian spies abroad and Russian counter-intelligence at home, etc. In September 1811, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In March 1812, Colonel A. Zakrevskii was appointed as the head of the Special Chancellery (reorganized Secret Expedition) and asked Chukevichto prepare an analytical memo on the future war with Napoleon and recommendations on how to wage it. The result was Chuikevich’s “Patriotic Thoughts Or Political and Military Considerations On the Upcoming War…” in which he argued in favor of a defensive war.  During the 1812 Campaign, Chuikevich left the Main Headquarters and served in one of the flying detachments before joining Ataman Matvei Platov’s Cossack Corps. In the summer of 1812, he was promoted to a colonel. He distinguished himself at Borodino for which he was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir (3rd class). He accompanied Barclay de Tolly when he was dismissed and sent out of the main army. In January 1813, he was appointed the head of the Special Chancellery, serving in this position under late 1815. He retired in November 1816 but returned to service in October 1820, when he was assigned to the Main Staff [precursor of the General Staff] In 1821, he attended the Congress of Europe in Laibach and was promoted to a major general in December 1823. In 1829 he became the chief of staff of the Separate Orenburg Corps but died two years later

Chuikevich is largely unknown in the West but his works has been discussed for a long time in Russia . In 1996, V. Bezotosnyi published an annotated edition of Chuikevich’s memo in Rossiisskii Arkhiv (vol. 7, 1996). Chuiikevich left several published works, including Poznanie chelova [Understanding a Man] (1806); Podvigi kazakov v Prussii [The Cossack exploits in Prussia [ (1810); Strategicheskie rassuzhdeniya o pervykh deistviyakh rossiyan za Dunaem. [Strategic consideration on first Russian operations across the Danube] (1810); Rassuzhdeniya o voine 1812 g. [Considerations on the War of 1812] (1813), Pokushenie Napoleona na Indiyu 1812 goda [Napoleon’s Plans for India in 1812] (1813); Zatei Napoleona v prolozhenii pokhoda 1812 g i prochee [Napoleon’s Designs during the 1812 Campaign, etc.] (1814).

Patriotic Thoughts


Political and Military Considerations

On the Upcoming War between Russia and France

And on Inciting an Insurrection in Germany by Means of a Military Expedition

Consultons les Annales de l’Histoire

et nous verrons des peuples fermes

et magnanimes braver et vaincre les perils

[Prepared by]

Expeditor of Secret Chancellery

Of Ministry of War

Lt. Colonel of Quartermaster Service



2 April 1812


PART 1: Political and Military Considerations on the Upcoming War between Russia and France

1. Importance of the Upcoming War between Russia and France

2. Causes of This War

3. Means that Napoleon uses to compel Peoples to raise arms

4. Does Russia have reliable Allies and on which of them must she rely the most?

5. Forces gathered by Napoleon for the upcoming war with Russia

6. Forces that Russia can deploy against Napoleon

7. Nature and Causes of Napoleon's Wars

8. Nature of War that Russia must wage against Napoleon

PART 2: On Inciting Insurrection in Germany

9. On inciting an insurrection in Germany by way of a military expedition

10. Composition and maintenance of this Expedition

11. Plan of action and purpose of this Expedition.

12. Principles that this Expedition must pursue in its actions.

13. What will the success of this Expedition be based upon?

14. Considerations with respect to Austria and the Ottoman Porte, and means that must be taken against them.


Political and Military Considerations on the

Upcoming War between Russia and France

1. Importance of the Upcoming War between Russia and France

The upcoming war between Russia and France will be very important in its consequences. It will not be similar to the last three wars [in 1798-1800, 1806, 1806-1807] because in these wars, and especially in the last one [in 1806-1807], Russia acted as the Power that assisted others. Now, she must wage a war to protect the integrity of its possessions and for the very independence of her state. Napoleon plans to keep Russia within borders [existing at the time] of Peter the Great. But Russia awaits a glory: to humble [Napoleon’s] lust for power, restore freedoms of European nations and add another Battle of Poltava to the Annals of History.

2. Causes of This War

After concluding the Peace of Tilsit [in 1807], Napoleon continuously limited Russia ’s relations with other nations, whom he enslaved one after another. The lands [of Duke of Oldenburg] related to the Imperial Sovereign of Russia became prey to Napoleon’s lust for power [in 1810]. [ Russia ’s] continuing wars with Turks [1806-1812] and the Persians [1804-1813] are results of his insidious policy to weaken Russia and compel her to direct attention onto her domestic affairs. At the present condition, Russia cannot prosper without [active] foreign trade. Unforeseen circumstances of the last war with the French, however, compelled Russia to join the current system of firm land, which is completely against her interests and has destroyed its trade.

The Russian Emperor, feeling his own dignity as well that of the nation entrusted to him [imperiled], exhausted all measures of patience in an attempt to retain friendship with France .

The upcoming war is a general desire of the nation, which is tolerant, brave, firm and dedicated to its Faith, Sovereign and fatherland, and for whom peace with France turned more onerous than the war itself.

3. Means that Napoleon uses to compel Peoples to raise arms

Only blind persons tend to argue that Napoleon’s intentions are for the well being of European nations and for the freedom of the seas for the development of trade and industry. The Tuilleries Manifestos announce this [on paper] but [in reality] Napoleon’s actions and intentions reveal completely opposite. There his greedy ambition lifts a veil over his cunning policy and reveals to an observer his true intentions that aim solely to subordinate the European continent to one law and one will.

Napoleon is not as frightening in war as he is amidst a peace. Nations, who interested into alliance with him, his quill turned more dangerous than his sword. Hardly does he conclude a peace with a nation, as he prepares chains for it and, prior to declaration of war, shakes its base by measures, in which he excels, that disorder the coils of government administration and saw seeds of unrest in it, while spirit of revolt and discontent spreads in provinces. After bringing a Power to such a miserable condition, [Napoleon] tries, through secret means, to let the people of that nation to feel the heavy burden of its condition and to arms itself. And as a result of this devilish policy, Napoleon has a major advantage on the eve of war: which is to be not seen by the blinded Frenchmen as an instigator of war, while having great expectations in the successful outcome of the war.

4. Does Russia have reliable Allies and on which of them must she rely the most?

Recent examples show that none of the Coalitions was successful against Napoleon. Each Coalition fielded a vast number of forces ready to overwhelm everything but divergent thoughts of its member Sovereigns; passions of ministers that led it; divergence from an original goal; disagreements of commanders-in chiefs and mistrust of the Sovereigns to entrust the Coalition leadership to one of them – these are the reasons why an intelligent and enterprising enemy defeated the Coalitions nations piecemeal and celebrated his triumphs over the Coalition.

Only England and Sweden can be Russia ’s allies. We must be very cautious about Sweden , unless we are completely sure that its Crown Prince [Karl Johan/Bernadotte] is genuinely predisposed to us. England , of course, will provide us with money but if she delays her support with the navy and landing force, as she did in 1807, then her support will be negligible.

Thus, in the upcoming struggle, Russia must rely solely on her forces and turn to non-traditional means, which will be based on the firmness of the Sovereign and the devotion of his people, which must be armed and instigated, as in Spain , with the help of the Clergy. We can be certain the Russian will make any sacrifices if the government shows resolution to continue a war and overcome losses, and to not conclude a peace which will allow Napoleon to once again badger us and enchain other nations.

5. Forces gathered by Napoleon for the upcoming war with Russia

Based on intelligence that the Ministry of War possesses at the moment, we can positively say that Napoleon has never undertaken such vast and extraordinary preparations and never has he mobilized such a massive force. His forces amount to 450,000 men, including the troops of the Confederation of the Rhine, Italians, Prussians, Swiss, Spanish, Portuguese. It also includes 42,000 cavalry and up to 500 cannon. By the end of the month, these forces will be already concentrated in the Duchy of Warsaw and Old Prussia.

6. Forces that Russia can deploy against Napoleon

In beginning of this war Russia will not be able to deploy more than 130,000 infantry, 30,000 regular cavalry, 15,000 Cossacks and 800 guns, for a total of some 200,000 men.

Note: Key measures must be taken to complete formation of the three observational armies which will probably be ready only towards the end of the campaign.

7. Nature and Causes of Napoleon's War

Napoleon is praised for rapidity of his actions. This distinction is not natural to him as it was to the great Suvorov, but rather he does it because of his impatience, uneasiness and fear that the war, which he always fears will prolonged, will open the eyes of the Frenchmen that they are shedding their blood to satisfy his greedy ambition, not to ensure their own safety; he also fears that a prolonged war will exasperate European nations that he subjugated. Guided by these concerns and relying on his constant superiority in forces, experienced generals and troops that are accustomed to such maneuvers, he always seeks a decisive battle so he can decide the outcome of war in one or two engagements.

His impatience oftentimes led Napoleon to commit important mistakes, which, however, his enemies either did not want or could not exploit. His maneuvers are not miracles of military art, but rather defeats inflicted on others and quick conquests that can be attributed to issues discussed in No. 3.

8. Nature of War that Russia must wage against Napoleon

Russia must wage a defensive war. The main principle of such a war is to undertake and execute actions completely opposite to what the enemy desires. Napoleon, having all means and resources to begin and maintain an offensive war, seeks decisive battles - therefore, we must avoid any general battles as far as our supply sources [permit]. [Napoleon] oftentimes undertakes actions and movements without a plan [na udachu] and he usually does not conserve his men. Therefore, we must preserve our troops and use them only in major battles. We must consider actions with great caution and commit ourselves to the surest ones.

Napoleon completely understands the traditional warfare and this factor cost dearly to other nations. So it is necessary to wage against Napoleon a war to which he is not accustomed. We must base our success on an impatience that is characteristic to him. This impatience would cause him to commit errors, which we must exploit at once, and move from a defensive war to an offensive one.

Avoiding decisive battles; waging a guerrilla war with flying detachments; [targeting] enemy's lines of operations; preventing enemy foraging; and staying resolute in pursuing the war - such should be the essence of the war [against the French which would be] new to Napoleon, exhausting to the French and unbearable to their Allies.

It is possible that early on in the campaign, [we] would have to surrender a vast area of land to Napoleon. However, as his army is exhausted and diminished after advancing deep into our realm, we will use our fresh and superior forces to give him a decisive battle and will more than recover the lost territory, especially since enemy pursuit would be rapid and relentless, for which we have a superiority over Napoleon in the quantity and quality of our cavalry.

Napoleon's losses in our land would serve as a signal to people's revolt in Germany who anxiously await a minute when they would throw off the unbearable yoke of slavery.

So, the following principles can be deduced from above mentioned:

1. To avoid any decisive battles with [Napoleon's] main force until appropriate moment.

2. To exploit every opportunity when Napoleon sends out detachments from his army; [we must] to concentrate superior forces against this parties and destroy before he is able to reinforce them.

3. To constantly harass the enemy, sending strong irregular forces to attack him day and night. We have an unquestionable and clear advantage in this.

4. To maintain several flying detachments of one or two thousand men (from light troops) that should be given to gallant officers from regular troops. Their mission will be to constantly harrass and intercept the enemy lines of operations, attack the enemy flanks and rear, destroying whatever they can.


On Inciting Insurrection in Germany

9. On inciting an insurrection in Germany by way of a military expedition

If Russian, Swedish or English armies decide to attempt to land a force in Northern Germany or Pomerania, then to ensure greater success of this enterprise I dare to propose to incite an armed insurrection in Germany , particularly in its northern regions. On the first glance this may seem impossible, but rather convenient for gallant and enterprising.

10. Composition and equipment of this Expedition

The following is needed to create and equip an expedition that will be sent into the heart of Germany

1.         All preparations must be conducted in secret

2.         Designate 6 or 8 Don Cossack regiments and divided them into two or three detachments which should be entrusted to the best and most gallant officials of the Don Cossack Host.

3.         This corps should be deployed near Ustilug [a town on the border of Austria and the Duchy of Warsaw].

4.         So as not to raise suspicions with this [expeditionary] corps, we must announce that it is designated to maintain cordon along the Austrian border.

5.         The corps should be entrusted to an intelligent and enterprising general of regular troops, which should be given relevant instructions and complete authority to maintain order and discipline as it is done with army commanders-in-chief.

6.         The commanding general must be given one assistant and a number of brave staff- and ober- officers from various branches of regular service, and diplomatic officials who can, if needed, direct insurrections. They all must be fluent in German.

7.         Equip Cossacks with at least 1000 muskets and sufficient number of cartridges.

8.         Provide the commanding general with the best maps of Poland and Germany , as well as Extraordinary Fund in gold and printed proclamations which should be written in the spirit of each German people.

9.         In the entire corps, no one should be allowed to have a transport wagon, but only the require number of bags.

10.       The entire corps should be paid salary for half a year in money and for one year in advance in silver.

11.       All officials assigned to this corps should arrive at the place of concentration no earlier than two days before the corps starts its campaign.

12.       No one should know on the other’s purpose and mission, and the commanding general should distribute instructions only the day before.

11. Plan of action and purpose of this Expedition.

The expedition must cross the border as soon as military operations begin and there are no enemy forces on our western frontier.

The corps must always proceed on two or three parallel roads, each separated at the distance of half-march or one march at the most.

The corps should take direction on Chelm and Lublin, cross the Vistula River betweeb Pulawy and Rachow, then proceed to Kielce, avoid Częstochowa and enter [Prussian] Silesia.

After crossing the Oder at Opeln, the corps should proceed between Breslavl [ Wroclaw] and Schweidnitz towards Legnica, then turn westward towards Gorlitz in Saxony.

If there are no troops in Dresden, this city should be captured and the royal treasury seized, while a contribution should be levied in Leipzig.

After passing Saxony, the corps should take direction on Westphalia, passing between Magdeburg and Kassel onto Braunschweig and Hannover.

Here, in northern Germany , the corps should incite a revolution and spread insurrection. We can be certain that the Prussians, Westphalians and Hannoverians would flock in droves to the banners of the Insurrection, whose leaders should be appointed largely from among the Germans themselves.

Moving from one place to another throughout the northern Germany , the corps must keep an eye in the direction where the Allies will land their forces, and direct its operations there.

If an insurrection fails, the corps should fight its way to join the landing force. If this proves unfeasible, the corps must seek other means of returning to Poland and our borders, while inflicting as much damage onto the enemy as possible.

12. Principles that this Expedition must pursue in its actions.

            Complete secrecy should the main principle in plans and actions of a commanding general.

            The corps’ detachments must avoid major roads and defiles.

While moving from one place to another, the corps must spread false rumors on directions of detachment. For this purpose, it can even veer off in any direction and make minor circuit marches.

To save no money on gathering intelligence on the enemy and his intentions. If the enemy is strong, to take a different direction to avoid him; if he is weak, to destroy him.

If there are any military or supply depots in settlements and towns that the detachments pass, these must be destroyed. Similar action should be taken against any transports that are discovered near the detachments’ routes.

While passing Silesia, the diplomatic section should start operating and distribute proclamations. This must be done also in Germany .

Kindness, threats and money should be used interchangeably to achieve goals.

While passing various States, the corps should seek to recruit agents who can spread and sustain a spirit of discontent against the French among local population as well as as gather intelligence.

In the villages and towns of the Duchy of Warsaw, the corps should collect contribution and horses.

In Germany and Silesia, the corps must pay for everything in cash, except for necessary food and forage.

In all towns on or near the corps’ route, all monies belonging to the crown should be requisitioned and placed in the Extraordinary Fund, which commanding general maintained at his discretion for the benefit of the Expedition.

13. What will the success of this Expedition be based upon?

The success of this expedition will depend on skill and enterprise of its commanding general; courage of its detachment commanders; selection of regular officers and diplomatic officials; lightness and capacity of troops; historical examples and general discontent against Napoleon in Germany .

14. Considerations with respect to Austria and the Ottoman Porte, and means that must be taken against them.

Austria cannot look indifferently as Russia occupies Moldavia and Wallachia and exercises influence in Serbia . The hope of acquiring the first two provinces has been guiding Austria ’s foreign policy against the Porte and Russia for many years now. After France forced Austria to give up ports on the Adriatic Sea, this power has no access to the sea, and the Danube River, with its estuary, is the only outlet for Austrian trade and, therefore, the goal of its [foreign] policy. [Nowadays] Napoleon seeks to convince Austria to declare war against us and assures her that he will assist in acquiring Moldavia and Wallachia.

In current circumstances, it is more expedient for Russia to give up Wallachia and even Moldavia to the Turks, rather than Austrians. We must obtain favorable conditions for Serbs, Moldavians and Wallachians in the [future] peace treaty with the Turks, who should accept the right of these peoples to select their hospodars [rulers] while the Porte will confirm them. If this is achieved, we will still maintain direct influence in these lands that, at a more opportune time, will certainly become ours. Having surrendered these lands to the Porte and revealed dangers which Napoleon poses to it, we will gain the Turks as allies against the Austrians and the French.

If [our] government has no intention in surrendering part of these lands either to Austria or the Porte, and if the former decides to act against us, then we should have no difficulties in inciting Hungarians against Austrians, while turning the Slavic tribes, inhabiting the region between the Rivers Savoi, Drina and Chernogoria, against the Turks and the French. Ali Pasha [of Janina] himself is fighting for independence from the Porte and, if we promise to recognize him as the king of Epirus , which he desires, he will become very useful to us against the Turks and the French.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2009


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