Military Review

Napoleonic plans of Paul I

- Twenty thousand Cossacks -
To India, hiking! -
Paul the First ordered
In your last year.
A.I.Mordovina - "Poems about the Don Cossacks"

History The first attempts to reach India through Central Asia arose in the 1700 year under Peter I, when Khan Shaniaz, the Khan, declared to the Tsar that he wanted to receive Russian citizenship. Such an increase in the number of subjects brought absolutely nothing to Peter I due to the remoteness of the territory of Khiva from Russia, and had only a symbolic meaning, raising the prestige of the state. However, at the beginning of 1714, St. Petersburg flew to news that Khiva residents have rich reserves of gold-bearing sands that they carefully hide from the Russians. In the same year, 1714, to confirm this information and search for ways to India and Central Asia, the king sent an expedition from Siberia under the direction of Lieutenant Guards Buchholz. In 1716, Buchholz built a fort at winter quarters near Yamy-Lake, but, being under siege by a local Kalmyk tribe, did not tempt fate, agreed to the conditions of the Kalmyk Khan, destroyed the fortress and sailed home. The second expedition under the leadership of Prince Bekovich-Cherkassky was going with full seriousness and thoroughness. However, this campaign was expected to fail. Khivans were captured and sent to the dungeon of Bekovich-Cherkassky and his companions, the prince was later executed. However, the king did not leave attempts to scout the way to India. He sent there through the territory of the Persians of the Tatar Murzu Tevtelev. But Murza was captured in Persia. After the death of Peter I, Catherine II also attempted to explore Central Asia.

V. Borovikovsky. "Paul I in the crown, dalmatic and signs of the Order of Malta." 1820

At the end of the 18th century there was a confrontation between two great powers - France and England, which continued with varying success for many years. Russia, together with Great Britain, Austria, Turkey and the Kingdom of Naples, was part of the anti-French coalition. A series of brilliant victories of Suvorov in Italy, active actions of the Black Sea fleet Ushakov was forced to other countries to respect the interests of our country. But the failure of the joint invasion of Holland with England gave rise to disagreement among the allies, and the British capture of Malta, which Paul I took under his protection, taking the title of Grand Master of the Order of Malta in 1798, led Russia to withdraw from the coalition. Russian-British relations virtually ceased, and Paul I in 1800 entered into an alliance with France.

India was lost to the French in the Seven Years' War and always attracted Napoleon. Most of all, he wanted to bring Britain to its knees, and most importantly the wealth of English land was in a huge, fertile, overgrown forests of valuable trees of India. Precisely from there, precious stones, silk fabrics and bread were brought. The industry of England without the supply of Indian raw materials expected inevitable collapse, and the exploitation of China would be impossible due to the lack of opium. The British military forces in Bengal consisted of only two thousand British soldiers and thirty thousand Indians who learned European methods of warfare. But their loyalty to the British crown was always in question. At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Russian Emperor Paul I had a plan for the Indian campaign. It provided for a joint operation of the French (with artillery support) and the Russian infantry corps. Each corps included 35 000 people, not counting the Cossack cavalry and artillery. According to the plan, the French army was to force the Danube and the Black Sea, to pass through the whole of South Russia, uniting with the Russian army at the mouth of the Volga. Then both corps, having crossed the Caspian Sea, landed in the Persian port of Astrabad and then went through Kandahar and Herat to India. An agreement was reached with the Turkish Sultan on the passage of French ships with a landing force through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. In the Indian Ocean from Kamchatka three Russian frigates were supposed to have time to approach, which, perhaps, could compete with the English ships there.

The adventurousness of these actions has developed due to a number of circumstances, the main of which is extremely scarce information about the Asian region. Of course, Napoleon Bonaparte spoke on the theme of the East with French scientists, diplomats, intelligence officers and was aware that many unforeseen difficulties would fall on his way, but that didn’t bother him much.

Napoleon asked Paul I the question: "How would the Russian-French army penetrate into India through countries almost wild, fruitless, accomplishing a campaign of three hundred leagues from Astrabad to the borders of Hindustan?" The Russian tsar dispelled his fears by expressing confidence in the success of the operation.

Pavel I and Napoleon believed that the two of them were no worse than Alexander the Great. And if the hated British could conquer India alone, then why shouldn’t they be able to do it together? According to general calculations, from the time of sending the French regiments from the Rhine and until the complete conquest of India, no more than five months had to pass.

So that the ally did not doubt the loyalty of the Russians, Paul I in January 1801 ordered Cossack troops to go on a campaign. The implementation of this operation, the king laid on Ataman troops Don Vasily Orlov. In view of his advanced years, the ataman, in support of him, Paul I installed officer Matthew Platov, who, by the way, was released from the Alekseevsky ravel for this purpose. The operation was completely classified. In St. Petersburg, they only had information that the Cossacks were going on a campaign somewhere. Only five senior Cossack officers knew that they would have to walk thousands of kilometers through the deserted steppe, and then through the sandy desert, to cross the mountains, passing the whole of Central Asia and the Pamirs. On the way, they were ordered to occupy Bukhara, and in Khiva to release all Russian prisoners. At the same time, Pavel ordered "not to offend the people who meet them on the way of the detachment, and kindly bring them into Russian citizenship." As a reward to the Cossacks, he promised all the wealth of India.

The sovereign wrote to Orlov: “In India, the British have their own trading establishments, acquired either by money, or weapons. You have to ruin all this, to free the oppressed owners and to bring the land of Russia into the same dependence as the British have. ”

In a short time, an 41 cavalry regiment with two companies of horse artillery was prepared for the march. Total gathered about twenty-two thousand Cossacks. For the operation, the state treasury allocated a fabulous sum of 1,5 million rubles.

This is how the general of the Imperial Army, Peter Nikolayevich Krasnov, depicts the events that took place on the Don: “Where, why the campaign was planned, nobody knew about that. Everybody, to the last, should have been ready for the six-day performance about the two-double with a month and a half provisions. The Cossacks were obliged to carry guns and darts. There were 800 patients in the army, but they were also ordered to appear for a review. Were sick, swollen from wounds, crippled. Orphans and helpless poor people were preparing for the campaign; many of the Cossacks did not have uniform jackets and chekmen, they were dressed in old robes, in knitting gowns. Nobody did respect. Although the house burned down, although everything was burned - go anyway, at the expense of the village. The regiments that had just come from the Caucasian line, from the Italian campaign, were again enlisted in the service. The churches were left without ponomaris, the stanitsa's rule — without the scribes, they took everyone away. The militia was universal! ".

20 February 1801, the year Orlov informed the sovereign that everything was ready for the journey. February 28 on the Don came the approval of the emperor, and Matthew Platov at the head of the main forces came out of the village Kachalinskaya on Orenburg, where the local administration hastily prepared food for a hike in the desert. The time of the performance was calculated incorrectly, and from the very first steps in the Zadonsk steppe the Cossacks had to overcome terrible difficulties. The roads were covered with snow, gunners were exhausted, pulling guns out of deep snow drifts. Nowhere were there apartments for heating, people and horses were chilling in the steppe. There was not enough food, there was no fuel, hay, oats. In early March, when they reached the Volga near the Saratov province, it was a thaw. Streams flowed, the steppe was soaked, the roads became impassable, but already because of the dirt. Many Cossacks fell ill, scurvy appeared. Because of the spilled rivers, the regiments had to change their routes so that the warehouses with provisions, organized along the route of the troops, remained far away. The commanders had to buy from their own funds everything they needed for the troops or issue receipts that the treasury had to cash out. Only in the Saratov province such receipts were issued for a huge sum for those times - ten thousand rubles. In addition, it turned out that the local residents, who, due to purchases of food and feed for horses, had to have a Cossack army, had no foodstuffs. The previous year turned out to be poor and dry, so the Cossacks were starving along with the Volga peasants. In Orenburg, a new problem. Food and fodder, harvested for the whole expedition, did not have the necessary number of vehicles to carry it after the army. March 23, on the eve of the Resurrection of Christ, the Cossacks were in the village of Mechetny (now the city of Pugachev, Saratov region). Here they were found by a courier from Petersburg with news about the death of Paul I and the order to return home. On the day of the Annunciation, the Cossacks went back, which was not an example easier. Ataman Vasily Orlov died of a stroke on the way, his place was taken by Matvey Platov. April 17 Cossack regiments returned to their homeland.

Emperor Paul I apparently seriously believed that his Cossack army would go all the way from Orenburg to India without reconnaissance, without preliminary agreements with the Central Asian khans, without wheeled carts. It is safe to say that by this act he sent the Cossacks who were not prepared for such a journey to certain death. In addition to the Suvorov passage through the Alps, the Cossack campaign in India was one of the most difficult in their history, which showed how excellent their discipline was and how great their devotion to the king was.

Napoleon was convinced that the British were behind the palace coup and the murder of Paul I, defending the interests of their conspirators in India with the hands of the Russian conspirators.

Enraged, Bonaparte said: "The British missed me in Paris, but they did not miss me in Petersburg."

Napoleonic plans of Paul I
Baron Jean-Leon Jerome. "Bonaparte before the Sphinx." 1867-1868

The plan for the conquest of India, drawn up by the kings, crumbled before it even began. However, Napoleon did not abandon his attempts to seize this country. It is believed that the Patriotic War 1812 of the year - just a preparation for the invasion of Napoleon in India. Even before the beginning of the war in March 1812, the heir to the Swedish throne, former French marshal Bernadot, who had personal information channels in Paris, conveyed to Alexander I the words of the emperor: “Russia will join my army either voluntarily or because of the laws of victory and will be attracted to the great movement, which should change the face of the world. " By “the great movement” Bonaparte meant the invasion of the united Russian-French army, first in Turkey, then in Iran, and later in India.

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  1. Sasha 19871987
    Sasha 19871987 15 September 2012 17: 16
    yeah, and really the Napoleonic plans ...
  2. datur
    datur 15 September 2012 20: 24
    the great Napoleon-1. threw the army, the wounded and sick in Egypt. and also threw his whole army in RUSSIA !!! (CAESAR did not leave anyone at one time) this is truly great !!!! wink laughing By the way PAVEL1 -that something reminds of a horsetail !!!!! laughing
  3. vozn_ser
    vozn_ser 15 September 2012 21: 05
    Paul the 1st, as was said by contemporaries, was a moron and a nerd, like the drunk Yeltsin in modern Russia. Wise and strong-willed tsar would not be banged by their own, Russia was saved from the moron!
    1. Geton
      Geton 16 September 2012 05: 41
      Bullshit, Paul was neither one nor the other!
    2. evgen762
      evgen762 16 September 2012 16: 44
      1. Introduced a decree on succession, according to which power was transferred from father to eldest son, which contributed to the cessation of palace coups. The law lasted until 1917.
      2. First tried to limit serfdom by banning the corvee of peasants from the landowner more than three days a week.
      3. Withdrew from the nobility the opportunity to record their young children in regiments, thereby canceling the "service without service".
      4. He stopped the persecution of the Old Believers.
      5. He founded the Russian-American company, the Medical and Surgical Academy, the school for military orphans (Pavlovsky Corps).
      6. Works have begun: a description of the White Sea, an atlas of navigation between the White and Baltic Seas, and the compilation of a general atlas of waterways.
      7. Monetary reform.
      8. In his reign A.V. Suvorov made the Italian and Swiss campaigns, F.F. Ushakov - Mediterranean expedition.
      Not a drunkard
      Starting from the first days of his reign and ending with the year 1801, it was published: in 1796, 177 documents; in 1797-595; in 1798-509; in 1799-330; in 1800-469; in 1801 - 69, a total of 2179 acts, or an average of 42 per month, both good and bad, and different.
    3. ImpKonstantin
      ImpKonstantin 17 September 2012 13: 36
      Would you at least get to know the personality of Paul the First, and why he was considered a madman.
      After relations between England and Russia went wrong, Great Britain was seriously concerned about the activity of Russians in Central Asia and the possibility of creating a Franco-Russian alliance, which would lead to a weakening of the position of Great Britain, and in the long term, to the loss of part of the colonies in India and North America. As a result, the British newspapers began to publish articles and illustrations, which spoke of the madness and savagery of Emperor Paul. The British aristocracy echoed the newspapers, and the Russian nobility, in turn, echoed the British, as they sympathized with it, dreaming of limiting the power of the monarch. So Pavel was not a madman, all this was a successful "PR" company aimed at destroying the hated tsar who was acting contrary to the interests of England and the Russian aristocracy.