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The Napoleon Series > Biographies > Biographies

Russian Generals of the Napoleonic Wars: Major General Prince Peter Petrovich Dolgoruky

By Alexander Mikaberidze, FINS

(30 December 1777 20 December 1806)

Prince Peter Petrovich Dolgoruky was born to a famous noble family. He was second son of General Peter Dolgoruky, governor of St. Petersburg under Catherine the Great. Dolgoruky was enlisted in the Life Guard Izmailovsk Regiment on 15 March 1778 at the ripe age of two and a half months old! In January 1792, he was promoted to captain (at 14) and was transferred to the Moscow Grenadier Regiment. In June 1793, he was promoted to premier major and appointed aide-de-camp to his uncle, General Prince Dolgoruky. In November 1795, he was transferred to Lieutenant General Arkharov IIs Garrison Regiment at Moscow and promoted to lieutenant colonel. On 13 May 1797, he was already a colonel. Dolgoruky was bored by the garrison service and appealed several times to Emperor Paul to transfer him to active service. However, he was refused. Finally, he appealed to Crown Prince Alexander, who procured for him an appointment as governor of Smolensk and promotion to major general on 23 September 1798 -- at the age of 20! Dolgoruky distinguished himself at this position and in January 1799, he became general aide-de-camp to Emperor Paul I. While serving in St. Petersburg, Dolgoruky befriended Alexander, and arguably was among the conspirators against Paul I. Under the new Emperor, Dolgoruky was put on the fast promotion track. In 1802 he was dispatched to inspect Vilna and Grodno gubernias, and then on secret missions as Alexanders envoy to Prussia and Sweden. In 1803-1804, Dolgoruky remained at St. Petersburg and was involved in foreign policy making. In late 1804, Alexander I dispatched him on a secret diplomatic mission to Prussia to negotiate Prussian involvement in coalition. He accompanied Emperor Alexander during his visit to King Frederick William of Prussia, and then to the main Russian army. Dolgoruky played a crucial role in events prior to Austerlitz. Following the successful action at Wischau (25 November 1805), he led the group of young arrogant officers, who urged attacking Napoleon. He was sent to negotiate with Napoleon, who let the prince to believe in his weakness. Dolgoruky persuaded Alexander to accept battle. During the battle of Austerlitz, he fought under Prince Bagration and was later awarded the Order of St. George (3rd Class) in February 1806 and a golden sword for his actions in March 1806. After the battle, Alexander sent Dolgoruky on a diplomatic mission to Prussia. Prince returned to St. Petersburg in February 1806, and late that year, he was appointed to General Michelsons army to fight the Turks. However, he was soon recalled from the army because of Russian failures against the French. Traveling in bad weather, Dolgoruky arrived at St. Petersburg seriously ill and died on 20 December 1806, at the age of 29, despite efforts of the court physicians.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2002