Military Review

Otto Weisman: fallen for the fatherland

Otto Weisman: fallen for the fatherlandRussian Germans got a sad fate in stories: they are sometimes treated with prejudice and lack of posthumous fame. This also applies to the hero of our essay. Even worthy portraits of this commander have not survived - neither in his lifetime nor in death. But he was considered the first sword of the empire ...

General Weisman, Otto Adolf Weisman von Weisenstein (20.12.1726 – 22.06.1773). In the history of Russia, he remained simply as General Weisman, a Livonian nobleman who joined the Russian army in 1744. German, a descendant of the Livonian knights, once held in the hands of the Baltic States.

Admittedly, he was the best warrior of the Baltic barons in the Russian service. He was easily called Otto Ivanovich - the Ostsee nobles in the Russian service were often assigned the most familiar patronymic. And he was also called the Army Achilles ... And it is clear that such a nickname is deserved in battle by the ability to act quickly, fearlessly destroying the enemy. He almost simultaneously with Alexander Suvorov created a new tactic, in a new way he waged war. And rightfully deserved the reputation of the best general of the Rumyantsev school. Sometimes in Weisman see "Suvorov failed." Indeed, the death in 1773 broke off the brilliant career of a general who mastered the science of victory. Suvorov saw him as a worthy brother. arms; in a certain way, Weisman, who before Suvorov had begun to make loud victories, was an example for Alexander Vasilyevich.

Weisman began service with the lower ranks, studied army arithmetic. The first serious test came in the first battle of the Russian army in the Seven Years War. Gross-Egersdorf, 19 August 1757 of the year. The army of Stepan Apraksin was on the verge of disaster, but thanks to a desperate rush of the Rumyantsev Corps, the case ended in an unexpected, convincing victory. In that fierce battle, Weisman was wounded twice, but he did not leave the battlefield. Desperate courage will be his hallmark until the last hour. Under Zorndorf, in the most unsuccessful major battle of the Seven Years War for the Russian army, Weismann was back in the ranks. And again gets wounded, almost dies. Seven Years' War, he ends in the rank of colonel. Behind shoulders is the experience of war with the strongest army of the world. Experience of fighting against Frederick the Great, Johann von Levald, Friedrich Wilhelm von Seidlitz. He gazes at the best Russian commanders: Alexander Chernyshev, Peter Rumyantsev. Priceless school! With Rumyantsev, Weisman will be destined to share the glory of the next major war - the first Russian-Turkish Catherine.

He was not fond of politics, he was almost indifferent to palace coups. Waited for war. In 1768, Weisman at the head of the Belozersky Regiment was sent to Poland to fight the Confederates. It was Weisman who gave the Turks a reason to declare war on Russia. In pursuit of the Polish detachment, Weisman's troops (with the assistance of the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks) broke into Balta and burned this city, which belonged to the Ottoman Empire.

The war began with the Turks - and Weisman was transferred to the 1 army of General-in-Chief Alexander Golitsyn, who was to play a major role in the 1769 campaign. The siege of Hotin began. In the battles for Hotin, Weisman distinguished himself with brave bayonet attacks, in which the Russians overturned the Turks. Following the campaign, he receives the rank of major general. 1770 year became the main in the military biography of Rumyantsev. The Weisman Brigade enters his army - and Pyotr Aleksandrovich immediately throws him into the most critical sectors of the operation. At Ryaba Tomb and Larga Weisman - in the forefront. For Largu, at the suggestion of Rumyantsev, he gets the "George" of the III degree. The hike continues. After a few days, the Russians defeat the troops of the Grand Vizier at Kagul. Weisman is again at the forefront. Under Kagul, the Weisman brigade again oppressed the enemy, acting with the haste that Rumyantsev sought from the attacking troops.

His services in attacking the Turks and pursuing them turned out to be decisive - and Rumyantsev represents the general to the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. Fame Weisman in the army is growing. After Kagula, Rumyantsev’s tactics change. He relies on quick "searches" - attacks on Turkish troops and fortifications. Weismann liked this tactic, he quickly managed to distinguish himself. So, in an unexpected dashing attack in the fall of 1770 with a small detachment, he occupies Isacchi fortress.

In February, 1771-th Weismann swiftly and secretly forwarded to the left bank of the Danube and captured Zhurga - a fortress with a fairly strong Ottoman garrison. A month later, Weisman was already attacking Tulchu, a fortress with a five-thousand-strong garrison and powerful artillery. Under the command of Weismann then there were less than 800 people. He took the gunners on the march without guns: he expected to immediately repel the guns from the Turks. So it happened. In June, Weisman again takes Tulcea, scattering the enemy.

With envy and respect, Suvorov, while in Poland, read about the battle of Tulce, for which Weisman received “George” of the II degree. Rumyantsev wrote about this enterprise to the empress: “The Most High, who sent these thoughts for the benefit of the service to me from his grace, blessed the performance of these with such famous successes that in the morning of 20 on October 6, Major General and gentleman von Weismann behind the Danube dispersed the enemy corps at Tulcha, I captured this city and castle, took the Turkish camp with all the artillery in large numbers, and on the same night went to Babad to attack the standing chief vizier there. ” It was a real feat: Weisman acted quickly, bravely and thoughtfully, counting on the destruction of the enemy. That autumn, he became a real storm of the Turks, learned to terrify them. In the war with the Ottomans, this gave an important psychological advantage. Back in March, in the search for Tulchu, the generals Otto Weisman and Simon Ozerov, without the support of artillery, raided the Turkish camp, chopped up the 500 people, seized all the Tulchin batteries, and captured the 23 guns. The guns had to be riveted, as it was impossible to carry them to the Russian camp, to Izmail, on fragile boats on the Danube. Eight Turkish courts Weisman ordered to burn. In the June search for Tulcea, 2000 Turks had already been destroyed. In October, Weisman took the Tulchinsky castle for the third time. The Turkish garrison retreated to Babadag. Weisman pursued them to the Babadag camps, which he captured in combat.

The epoch imposed a steady stereotype: all the European armies of that time fought in dense formations and columns, steadily advancing under the march music. Weisman led the war differently. In battles with the Poles and the Turks, the Russian regiments carry out sabotage and reconnaissance operations, exterminating the enemy in the planned positions. Such operations — the military science of the 18th century called them “quest” —there were often frustrated plans for the Turkish offensive. In the sabotage battles, the best Turkish troops were destroyed, and the survivors were accustomed to feeling the invincible power of Russian weapons. The best "search" generals were undoubtedly Weisman and Suvorov. Suvorov will say his word in the area of ​​Turtukai - after Weisman.

Otto Ivanovich became the blade of Rumyantsev. He, according to the plan of the field marshal, will act against the enemy on his own, over and over again stunning him with unexpected attacks. The result of the brilliant victories in the campaign of 1771 was the award of the Order of St. George of the II degree and the appointment of the division commander. His time came again when the army of Rumyantsev fell into a tragic situation in 1773.

The main forces of Rumyantsev were ferried from Gurobal. Weisman distinguished himself in this operation, having provided a ferry with his successful attacks. During a long siege of Silistria, Weisman commanded the vanguard, taking part in all the clashes.

Under Silistraya in June, Rumyantsev found out about the approaching Numan Pasha’s 20,000 corps, which threatened to cut off the Russian army from the crossings. To avoid a trap, Rumyantsev interrupted the siege of Silistra, the army hastily retreated to the left bank of the Danube. Covered retreat tested Weisman corps. He had to take the blow of the Turkish army.

With a five-thousandth corps of 22 June, General Weisman attacked Numan-Pasha from Kucuk-Kaynardzhi. Numan Pasha occupied the dominant height, at which the Turks managed to dig a lot of trenches. The Russians managed to overturn the Turkish artillery with a quick bayonet attack.
The battle brought a new victory. The enemy camp was busy with trophies, but the brave general in an unequal battle was fatally wounded. In the melee, the Janissaries took out the Russian general with a saber and fired a pistol at him from close range. Dying, Weisman ordered his wounds to be hidden from the troops. The cavalry pursued the Turks. Victory! But among several dozens of dead and wounded Russian soldiers, the commander was also listed ... “The Cossacks did not say correctly about the Weisman death in Gurobala,” wrote Alexander Suvorov to Peter Saltykov on June 25. Unfortunately, the tragic news was true.

The words of Alexander Vasilyevich are memorable: "Weisman was not there - I was left alone." And in a letter to Ivan Saltykov, Suvorov talks about the difficulties of military service on the example of Weisman’s fate: “Run after the rabbis unevenly, sometimes you will break your head according to Veismanov, and even well, if with honor and benefit” (July 1773). And in Italy in 1799, in a letter to Andrei Razumovsky, Suvorov recalled Weisman, comparing him - the only one in the Russian army - with himself: “Weisman was not, I’m from Poland alone; everyone is beaten everywhere. Under Girsov I beat, said: “Last blow to me!”. It came true, I died. ” It was hard to forget the 1773 campaign: the death of Weisman, the victories at Girsov and Kozludja, and the offense after the final victory in that war.

Little remains in the historical memory of the people. So the name of Weisman was lost somewhere in the third plane of our ideas about the history of the Russian army. Catherine II wrote to Rumyantsev in response to his lengthy report on the withdrawal of Russian troops on the left bank of the Danube: “With the victories you received beyond the Danube, I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart and wish you always meet the enviers with victories. The death of the brave Major General Weisman was very sensitive to me and I regret a lot about him. In other matters, I remain benevolent to you Catherine. " The memory of Weismann was not exhausted by the laconic mention in the correspondence of Field Marshal and Empress. A generation of participants and direct witnesses of the Rumyantsev Russian-Turkish War remembered the Major General who was killed on the battlefield. And the poems of Gavrila Derzhavin, which we put into the epigraph, is a confirmation of this. The death of the hero became a legend of the war, the memory of her rallied. However, years passed, and the new victories of Alexander Suvorov, Nikolai Repnin, Mikhail Kamensky pushed into the shadows the memory of the first hero of quick searches, of Otto Ivanovich Weismann. However, as we see, Suvorov did not forget the brave Weisman even many years later, at the highest rise of his own glory. “After defeating and destroying Turkey, in the battle at Kyuchuk-Kaynardzha for the Fatherland was killed, 22 June 1773.” - these words are stamped on a commemorative medal in honor of Weisman.

It was a critical, hottest summer of the war. Years later Derzhavin would write in the Waterfall ode:

When the crimson moon
Through the mist darkness shines,
Danube dark wave
Sparkles with blood and through groves
Around Ishmael the wind roars,
And you hear a groan - that the Turk thinks?
Trembles, - and in the eyes of the hidden
He also glitters with bayonets
Where are forty thousand suddenly killed
Around the coffin of Weisman lie.
Their shadows dream him
And Ross in the blood of their knees!
Derzhavin was mistaken: Weisman was buried in his homeland, in Livonia, at Cape Serbien.

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    BRONEVIK 28 October 2017 16: 00
    The galaxy of the so-called "Russian Germans", since the time of Peter the Great, faithfully serving Russia combined the best features of both the Russian and German peoples and made it for our statehood, inscribed many bright pages in the glorious history of Russian weapons.
    In all wars of the 19-20 centuries.
    It was interesting to read about Weismann.
    Well, the assessment of A.V. Suvorov - is worth a lot. As the saying goes, the rest is unnecessary
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 28 October 2017 16: 36
    He was also called the Achilles of the army ...
    ... It was not easy for a foreigner to earn such a title among Russian officers and soldiers of the Catherine era. Yes, and the death of Weisman and the legendary hero are somewhat similar ..
  3. 32363
    32363 28 October 2017 17: 31
    there’s another interesting Ostsee German ataman-general Baron Ungern, a national hero in Mongoli, and the most interesting was shown an interview with Shoigu a couple of years ago, so he said that Unger is an idol for him wassat but it was the chieftain of the White Cossack troops.
    1. Weyland
      Weyland 28 October 2017 21: 22
      Quote: 32363
      another interesting Ostsee German ataman-general Baron Ungern,

      And not one ... During the trial of Ungern, the prosecutor mockingly asked him what merits of his kind to Russia. Ungern calmly replied: "72 dead on the battlefield"
    2. Monarchist
      Monarchist 31 October 2017 10: 27
      It's time to evaluate the figures of the past by their real deeds, and not by ideological "merits"
    BRONEVIK 28 October 2017 17: 44
    And if we talk about the WWII - P. A. Pleve, V. E. Flug, E. K. Miller and dozens of other worthy generals and officers who faithfully served Russia - their homeland
      SCHWERIN 28 October 2017 21: 39
      The Germans generally made a great contribution to the development of Russia. The most tragic mistake in my opinion is the repressions against the Russian Germans during the war. Yes, you can say a difficult time. But a whole nation has disappeared that would help us now in relations with our historical homeland ....
      1. 32363
        32363 29 October 2017 02: 41
        Quote: SCHWERIN
        The Germans generally made a great contribution to the development of Russia. The most tragic mistake in my opinion is the repressions against the Russian Germans during the war. Yes, you can say a difficult time. But a whole nation has disappeared that would help us now in relations with our historical homeland ....

        for the couple of months that the Soviet Germans managed to fight against the Wehrmacht, the title of the GSS was awarded to 11 people and you will not find these heroes in the official lists.
        1. moskowit
          moskowit 29 October 2017 08: 07
          The Germans are the heroes of the USSR:
          1. Wenzel Valdemar Karlovich,
          2. Volkenstein Sergey Sergeevich,
          3. Gakkel Mikhail Adelbertovich,
          4. German Alexander Viktorovich,
          5. German Alexander Mironovich,
          6. Sorge Richard,
          7. Klein Robert Alexandrovich,
          8. Miller Peter Klimentevich,
          9. Ohman Nikolay Petrovich,
          10.Ulbricht Walter (Assigned 29 June 1963 year)
          11.Fritz Schmenkel (Assigned October 6 1964 years)
  5. Quintus sertorius
    Quintus sertorius 30 October 2017 05: 55
    Good article. Weismann is a worthy military man. For objectivity - the Germans in their Russian service received their notoriety for a reason. But then the mercenaries in the Russian service. But I can’t remember a single frankly negative character about the Ostzey Germans, subjects of the Republic of Ingushetia.
  6. Monarchist
    Monarchist 31 October 2017 10: 44
    Quote: Quintus Sertorius
    Good article. Weismann is a worthy military man. For objectivity - the Germans in their Russian service received their notoriety for a reason. But then the mercenaries in the Russian service. But I can’t remember a single frankly negative character about the Ostzey Germans, subjects of the Republic of Ingushetia.

    Actually, you touched on a slippery topic: mercenaries do not care much about the country where they serve and they have no courage. And if he does not consider himself a subject of Russia, and his service brings REAL benefit to Russia?
    1. Quintus sertorius
      Quintus sertorius 1 November 2017 08: 26
      Nothing slippery. In each category of people incl. mercenaries have their own heroes and traitors. Can you give an example of a mercenary positive for Russia? Weismann is an Ostsee citizen, therefore, does not count.
  7. Warrior2015
    Warrior2015 13 July 2018 07: 21
    Very interesting stuff! I read about this commander for a long time, but there was a brief mention, and it was nice to remember and find out the details.