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The Napoleon Series > Book Reviews > Books on military subjects

Russo-Turkish War of 1806-1812

Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky, Lieutenant General Alexander. Russo-Turkish War of 1806-1812. [English translation of: Opisanie Turetskoi voiny v tsarstvovanie imperatora Aleksandra, s 1806-go do 1812-go (1843).] Translated and edited by Alexander Mikaberidze. West Chester, OH: The Nafziger Collection, 2002. 2 vols. 305 pages. Illus. and Maps. ISBN# 1585450952. Softcover. $50. ($25 per volume.)

I recently received my eagerly anticipated copy of Alexander Mikaberidzes translation of Mikhailovsky-Danilevskys Russo-Turkish War of 1806-1812 (published by the Nafziger Collection). The translation is excellent and very readable and the original content thoroughly covers a campaign I knew virtually nothing about. Alexander has added biographical notes on many of the people mentioned and has provided annotation in areas where Mikhailovsky refers to some rather obscure places or events. I am impressed both with the depth of the annotations themselves and with the quality of the translation. There are a good number of excellent maps that allow the reader to follow the action without much difficulty.

For those of you thinking that the Russo-Turkish war of 1806-1812 is a yawner, there is ample action to be of interest and the campaign illustrates the difficulties Russia faced in waging war across vast sparsely populated regions stretching from the Caspian to Serbia. For those focusing the campaigns with the French, the study provides the reader with a better appreciation of the difficulties the Russians faced, as the scope of this conflict definitely affected Russian military operations in other theaters. The difficulties Napoleon experienced in waging a two-front war in Austria and Spain in1809 are well studied. However, the difficulties the Russians had in waging a two-front war in 1806-7 (against the French in Poland and the Turks in Moldavia and the Caucasus) have gone unmentioned in most histories. The slowness of the march of Essen-1s corps to Poland in 1806 gets new meaning when it is realized that they paused to take Khotin and secure the right flank of the army of Moldavia before proceeding. Also, the lukewarm Russian involvement in the war against Austria in 1809 takes on a new light when the Russian commitments against the Turks and the Swedes are taken into consideration a three-front war. Not only did the Austrian conflict involve the mobilization of four divisions in Poland, but it also diverted at least three of the eight divisions committed to the war in Wallachia and Moldavia to watch the armys back. Under the circumstances, for Russia to commit to offensive operations in Galicia while simultaneously engaged in Finland and Moldavia would be equivalent to Napoleon invading the Balkans while engaged in Russia and Spain in 1812. Overall, this can be considered Russias equivalent to Frances Peninsular War a war intended to be quick and easy that turned into a protracted conflict that required a major commitment of forces.

Perhaps the most interesting part for readers familiar with the Napoleonic wars will be the appearance of so many familiar faces. Bagration commanding in Moldavia for a time, Tormassov conducted operations in the Caucasus and Kutusov played a devastatingly effective waiting game that finally brought the war to its conclusion, allowing the Army of Moldavia to play a pivotal role in finishing off the Grande Arme in Russia. Less well known figures from earlier campaigns, like Langeron, Miloradovich and Kamensky-1 (who played important roles at Austerlitz), Kamensky-2 (also at Austerlitz but more noteworthy for his role at Eylau and Danzig as well as the war in Finland), and the son of the great Suvorov also appear here, answering all of those "what ever happened to" questions.

Overall, this is definitely a valuable addition to my library and is required reading for anyone interested in understanding the scope and complexity (the "big picture") of Russian military operations during the Napoleonic wars.

Reviewed by Robert Goetz. 8/03.

The book can be ordered from: The Nafziger Collection


Reviewed by Robert Goetz
August 2003