Military Review

The beginning of the career of Minister Sukhomlinov. From success to success

The beginning of the career of Minister Sukhomlinov. From success to success

The darling of fate

Vladimir Alexandrovich Sukhomlinov. A cavalry general and adjutant general, he has made what is called a brilliant career. He is also a member of the Council of State and Minister of War, dismissed under the hooting of the crowd. He was the object of hatred of almost the entire high society, with the exception of the royal family.

The general married for love, but with a scandal, and was considered the main culprit for the defeats of the Russian army in the world war. Sukhomlinov was tried and convicted under the Provisional Government. But considering the fact that he died after the revolution and the Civil War, at a very old age - 77 years old, fate was not too cruel to him.

Well, right up until the days when the ministerial portfolio was given to the favorite of Nicholas II, Sukhomlinov was often just lucky. He was lucky to join the guard and enter the secular society, making acquaintances in the august family. I was lucky not to die in the Russo-Turkish war and not go to war with Japan.

He was lucky with patrons, among them were the great dukes and famous generals. Luckily, in the summer of 1911, the terrorist Bagrov mortally wounded the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Stolypin, who was ready to fire Sukhomlinov. After Stolypin, the prime ministers replaced each other, leaving in the post of Minister of War, whom Nicholas II liked so much, as well as his wife.

Guardsman and General Staff

Vladimir Sukhomlinov was born on 16 (4th according to the old style) August 1848 in the tiny town of Telshi, Kovno province. Inhabited mainly by Catholics, it clearly gravitated towards Poland, and this almost cost the young Sukhomlinov his military career.

Vladimir, the son of a modest district police officer, that is, the chief district police officer, entered the Alexander Cadet Corps in Vilna. It was only two years before the so-called Polish Uprising of 1863. Then an urgent reform of military education began, and he was hastily transferred to St. Petersburg.

Sukhomlinov graduated from the 1st military gymnasium in the capital successfully, and he was enrolled as a cadet, first in the 2nd Konstantinovsky school, and from there, as a good rider, almost immediately to the Nikolaev cavalry school. This was also a success, giving 19-year-old Sukhomlinov the opportunity to join the guard in 1867.

The young graduate becomes a life-lancer and serves where his regiment is stationed - in the recently rebellious Warsaw. Just four years later, Sukhomlinov successfully passed the entrance exams and was enrolled in the Academy of the General Staff. After graduating from the academy, he was already a captain of the General Staff and served for three years as a senior adjutant of the 1st Guards Cavalry Division.

In the same rank, and still a cavalryman, Sukhomlinov, commanding a squadron of His Majesty's Life Guards Cuirassier Regiment, somewhat unexpectedly received the rank of Chief Officer for special assignments at the headquarters of the 1st Army Corps. There he met Major General M.I. Dragomirov, then a simple division commander.

First triumph

In the summer of 1877, the war with the Turks began, and Sukhomlinov, having gone to the Balkans as an officer of the General Staff, began organizing civil administration in the old Bulgarian capital Tarnovo. But the inveterate cavalryman literally rushed to the front, because his division remained in St. Petersburg. He was sent to Plevna, where he was more than once entrusted with reconnaissance of Turkish fortifications.

At the front, Sukhomlinov finally received the rank of lieutenant colonel and performed an excellent reconnaissance before the battle at Gorny Dubnyak, which saved the Russian regiments from unjustified losses. He crossed the Balkans as part of the detachment of General P.P. Kartsov, having under the command of only one and a half hundred Cossacks. He crossed the Troyanovsky Pass, with battles, although not as fierce as on Shipka.

The main enemy there was winter with its generals "snow" and "frost". In the course of an unsuccessful attempt to overcome the pass on the move, Sukhomlinov almost fell under a landslide of snow and stones, and his subordinates rescued him. However, with the exit to the Maritsa valley, when the main forces of the Turks surrendered at Sheinovo, all that was left was to pursue the enemy.

A little later, the lieutenant colonel once again escaped death, already literally under the walls of Constantinople. Formally remaining at the disposal of the commander-in-chief of the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, Sukhomlinov became the chief of staff of General Skobelev Sr., who was also called 1st, in contrast to his son, the already famous “White General”.

Dmitry Ivanovich, a hero of the Crimean War, was openly jealous of his son's successes and knocked out for himself the high appointment of the army cavalry commander. But even with the outbreak of hostilities, the cavalry was assigned to detachments, and only its chief, Lieutenant Colonel Sukhomlinov, and with him Prince Sumbatov, were on the staff.

A bit of "personal"

They, not overworked by the staff work, received a combined equestrian brigade at their disposal and still managed to accomplish their feat, capturing the town of Gyumurdzhin for a couple of days, very close to Constantinople. Alas, only Sukhomlinov's own memoirs have written about this in any intelligible way.

Let's turn to them, with the inevitable reductions:

“Up to Gyumurdzhina, on the shores of the Aegean Sea ... there were at least 120 versts ... On a ten-verst map and with guides from the Pomaks - Bulgarians who converted to Islam, I managed to lead our partisan detachment from north to south, from Haskov to Gyumurdzhina .. ...

They walked light, in a long column of one horse, which gave the impression of a large detachment, despite the fact that it did not even have thousands of horsemen ... tens of thousands of Muslim population, part of the armed forces, who fled in front of the "Moscow".
... In the neighboring port, the retreating troops of Suleiman are loaded onto battleships to be sent to Gallipoli. Under such conditions, our detachment was too weak to take the city by open force ...
It was possible to take it only from a raid, and for this it was necessary that they did not know about the size of our detachment in Gyumurjin. Therefore, having closed the exit from the mountains, we did not let anyone into the city until we occupied it.
But I asked the permission of General Chernozubov for his occupation as follows: with a small patrol of three or four horsemen, it would be possible to quickly get into the city and demand its surrender in order to avoid ... artillery shelling and the inevitable destruction of houses. "

At the risk of being hit by Turkish bullets at once,

“... with a trumpet player and three Cossacks, I (Sukhomlinov - Ed.) Walked quite quickly three or four miles from the mountains to the city ... The sentry at the gate not only did not detain us, but saluted us. I think he went crazy and did not understand anything.
I went to the entrance of the house, went up the steps to the entrance ... I opened a large massive door and was struck by an unexpected sight: the Turks were sitting on a solid sofa along the walls of the hall.
If I was struck by the surprise of finding myself among the city meeting of representatives of a hostile country, then these latter could not help but be struck by a Russian officer who came to them unexpectedly.
This "living picture" was interrupted by my statement through an interpreter that ... in case of a voluntary surrender, the city would be occupied only by a cavalry detachment. We ourselves will strictly observe the order, and we will pay for fodder and food in gold ...
If they do not agree to my peaceful terms, I will leave the city; the chief of the detachment will not wait long, he will start hostile actions and let his "tops" (top - in Turkish, cannon) talk to them ...
I was about to leave, but a kaymakam came up to me and said that my conditions were accepted and asked that everything I had promised to be fulfilled. "

A few hours later, Sukhomlinov received a dispatch from the Turkish commander Savfet Pasha, who demanded that

“The Russian detachment immediately left Gyumurjina, as a truce was concluded.
... Such a demand was completely impracticable, especially since we did not have any official notification of the truce that had taken place. "

And only when "the cornet Bunin arrived from Adrianople with an order from the headquarters to withdraw our detachment for the demarcation line of the Arda River, since the armistice really took place," Sukhomlinov gave the order to march the brigade back - beyond the demarcation line.

Academician and cavalryman

Sukhomlinov returned from the Balkans with the Order of St. weapons for bravery. But seriously ill - in Constantinople, he contracted smallpox. But he quickly recovered and received a new appointment - the ruler of the Nikolaev Academy of the General Staff with the assignment of the rank of colonel soon.

General M.I. Dragomirov is one of the war heroes who took Sukhomlinov under his wing. However, the future minister Sukhomlinov did not quickly receive the rank of general, neither the patronage of the head of the academy, nor support in the august family helped.

The colonel of the Guards Cavalry led practical training in tactics for almost ten years and wrote a number of textbooks. He also lectured at the Corps of Pages and at the Nikolaev Cavalry School, where he listened to the Grand Dukes Pyotr Nikolaevich and Sergei Mikhailovich. Subsequently, both took up high posts in the army.

And Sukhomlinov, whom everyone knew as an excellent rider, after eight years at the academy headed the officer's cavalry school and led it for almost 12 years. At this time, he wrote a number of textbooks, historical a study about Napoleonic Marshal Murat, a brochure about partisans in 1812, as well as several stories published under the pseudonym Ostap Bondarenko.

The head of the school actively collaborated with the magazines "Razvedchik", "Voenny Sbornik" and the newspaper "Russian invalid". It is not easy to understand how such a busy officer, who became a general only in 1890, still had time to command. First, the Pavlograd hussar regiment, which, under Alexander III, was reorganized first into a dragoon regiment, and then back, and then by the 10th cavalry division.

Finally, in 1899, Sukhomlinov, already a lieutenant general, took over as chief of staff of the Kiev military district. Then such a post in the Russian army was not considered high enough, and three years later the aging Dragomirov actually made Sukhomlinov his deputy, appointing him as assistant commander.

When Russia got involved in the war with Japan, General Dragomirov was supposed to be appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army in the Far East. And if this appointment took place, then Sukhomlinov's participation in heavy battles in Manchuria could not be avoided.

Commander and Governor General

Adjutant General Dragomirov refused, citing poor health, which was confirmed by his death in October next year. But the infantry general managed to promote his deputy, cavalry general Sukhomlinov, to the post of commander of the Kiev military district.

In October of the revolutionary 1905, Sukhomlinov was appointed to the post of the Kiev, Podolsk and Volyn governor-general. Dragomirov categorically refused such a combination of military and civilian posts, and Sukhomlinov agreed only after the riots in Kiev.

Ahead, the cavalry general and adjutant general had an appointment to the highest army posts. And also - a scandalous resignation followed by a court verdict and almost a year of imprisonment in the Trubetskoy bastion of Petropavlovka. And death in Berlin, where Sukhomlinov will have time to work as a consultant at the General Staff of the Reichswehr.

And before that, Sukhomlinov had an equally scandalous second marriage. In 1904 he was widowed and soon became close friends with the Butovich family. The aging general fell in love with Ekaterina Viktorovna, the wife of a poor but very well-born landowner Vladimir Nikolaevich, whose ancestor had signed the Pereyaslav Rada.

Sukhomlinov will seek their divorce for several years. Threats, blackmail and forgery with the betrayal of her husband, who allegedly had adultery with a governess, were used. Later it turned out that he simply could not be, since she, who had left for France for a long time, turned out to be a girl, according to the doctor's conclusion. But the general in love nevertheless achieved a divorce, although he completely ruined his reputation.

The ending should ...

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  1. CHEREDA73
    CHEREDA73 8 December 2021 06: 22
    Here is amazing:
    How could Dragomirov himself so "not understand" the abilities of his subordinate.
    One wonders whether Dragomirov was as good as people think.
    1. Crowe
      Crowe 8 December 2021 07: 33
      In addition, the Minister of War constantly flashed at social events: he was a regular at restaurants, theaters, horse races. In the light began to whisper that he was taking bribes.
      "For the truth of these rumors, on the one hand, Sukhomlinov's extensive spending on life spoke, and on the other, extremely dark personalities who were their own people in the Sukhomlinovs' house, who did not hesitate to show themselves with him in restaurants," wrote General Rediger.
      1. Civil
        Civil 8 December 2021 09: 46
        And the Bolsheviks released this tsarist leader, under an amnesty. And he died like a real capitalist elite in the accursed West. In Berlin.
    2. Cork
      Cork 10 February 2022 18: 02
      Dragomirov was and died like!
  2. CHEREDA73
    CHEREDA73 8 December 2021 06: 24
    Dragomirov did not recognize machine guns, he believed that "one accurate bullet" was enough.
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 8 December 2021 10: 10
      Quote: CHEREDA73
      Dragomirov did not recognize machine guns, he believed that "one accurate bullet" was enough.

      It's just that Dragomirov evaluated machine guns by their ancestors - grapeshot.
      Since the first discussions in 1871, General M.I. Dragomirov, for which he was considered for a long time "an opponent of new technology." Since it is customary to widely refer to Dragomirov's opinion in the literature, it is worth dwelling on it in more detail. The point was not only in the general's "bayonet love", but also in the properties of the "handle" grape-shooters. Considered artillery pieces, they were comparable in size to a 4-pounder (87 mm) field cannon. In 1891 Dragomirov wrote: "If one and the same person had to be killed several times, it would be a wonderful weapon ... Unfortunately, there have not yet been such musicians who would be able to change the direction of the barrel ten times a second." ... The general was not so wrong - during the Franco-Prussian war, up to 20-30 mitrailleus bullets were found in the corpses of the Prussians, while their neighbors in the line were not even wounded. The manual drive of the mechanisms, even with several people in the calculation, did not allow more or less aimed fire from the canister, scattering along the front and into the depth, quickly transferring fire from one target to another. Even such successful grapple-shooting systems as Gatling-Baranovsky or Nordenfeld turned out to be too cumbersome, shooting quickly tired the shooters. Dragomirov pointed out: “The motives for which I consider machine guns absurd in a field army of normal composition directly indicate those cases where they are not only useful, but, perhaps, even necessary ... namely: 1) on the flanks in fortresses, 2) on steppe expeditions, where a small detachment can deal with a large, but poorly armed crowd. " General G.A. Leer, and from foreign specialists - Thürheim, Luze, Ville, Tonju. Dragomirov himself, shortly before his death, said: "Gentlemen, with incomprehensible stubbornness ascribing contempt for fire to M. Dragomirov, are dealing not with the real, but with a fictitious one, composed by Dragomirov themselves."
      It is not surprising that Generals Ellis, Kuropatkin, Davydov, who participated in those "steppe expeditions", spoke positively about the grapeshot. However, an increasing number of officers were inclined to the opinion of Dragomirov, the main authority of the Russian army. The foreign experience of colonial wars also gave grounds for doubts. If the British, not without success, used the Gatlings against the Zulu in 1879 and the Egyptians in 1882, and the Americans against the Indians, then the English experiment in Sudan in 1884 and the Italian one in Abyssinia was clearly unsuccessful.
      © Machine guns of the Russian army in battle
  3. Crowe
    Crowe 8 December 2021 07: 32
    And before that, Sukhomlinov had an equally scandalous second marriage.
    A letter from Empress Alexandra Feodorovna has also survived, in which she was outraged by the behavior of the Sukhomlinov couple.
    “His wife is truly a very“ mauvais genre ”, moreover, she turned everyone against herself, especially the military circles, by confusing me to her money collection on the 26th. ... This fool is ruining her husband and risking her own neck. “She collects money and things on my behalf, and distributes them from herself - this is a vulgar woman with a vulgar soul, that's why this happens to her,” she wrote.
  4. Crowe
    Crowe 8 December 2021 07: 38
    And also - a scandalous resignation followed by a court verdict and almost a year of imprisonment in the Trubetskoy bastion of Petropavlovka
    According to the Reuters news agency on September 13, 1917, which covered the trial at the international level, "the court, after a jury meeting, which lasted from seven in the evening to four in the morning, rendered the verdict 'guilty' to the defendant." General V.A. Sukhomlinov was found guilty of nine out of ten charges against him, including "high treason, inaction and abuse of power, and forgery." On the charge “the inaction of the authorities during the war, which contributed to the enemy,” the defendant was acquitted. The court sentenced the ex-minister to a complete loss of rights and indefinite hard labor, since the death penalty existed only at the front. “Sukhomlinov calmly listened to the verdict. At the beginning of the trial, he behaved somewhat jokingly, with some kind of warning antics, an amiable, cunning old man, ”Senator N.N. recalled. Chebyshev.
  5. Crowe
    Crowe 8 December 2021 07: 49
    And death in Berlin, where Sukhomlinov will have time to work as a consultant at the General Staff of the Reichswehr.
    The author forgot (or did not want to, enthusiastically carried away by the description of the fate of the "academician and cavalryman") to indicate here (well, nothing, we will help) that liberated the academician and the cavalryman are the very same Bolsheviks, about whom, of course, you do not want to write anything - better about the brilliant cavalry guards and their passions. Here are the damned bloody kamunyaki, yeah,
    Olgovich & K ™?
    1. podymych
      8 December 2021 16: 33
      About Trubetskoy Bastion and the Bolsheviks - in the essay "The End of Minister S's Career". Will be released one of these days ... Wait
  6. Daniil Konovalenko
    Daniil Konovalenko 8 December 2021 08: 13
    The head of the school actively collaborated with the magazines "Razvedchik", "Voenny Sbornik" and the newspaper "Russian invalid".
    Most of his creations were a mixture of journalism and fiction of an autocratic-patriotic orientation. As for military theoretical works, from about the age of forty he not only did not create them, but, it seems, did not read them. Although it should be read ...
  7. astra wild2
    astra wild2 8 December 2021 09: 06
    Good morning. "Subsequently, both took up high posts in the army," but could it be otherwise?
    The author "forgot" that Sergei Mikhailovich was an artillery inspector, he was talking about the interests of a French company, not for free, Schneider, but he did not care about the interests of his own army ....
    1. Senior seaman
      Senior seaman 8 December 2021 18: 42
      Quote: Astra wild2
      Sergei Mikhailovich is an artillery inspector, he spoke about the interests of a French company, not for free, Schneider, but he did not care about the interests of his own army ....

      Not everything is so simple (TM)))
      Soviet (and tsarist) major general of artillery Barsukov wrote in 1949 (!).
      With regard to such a good preparation, the Russian artillery owed mainly to its inspector general, who during the decade preceding the First World War, all his knowledge and great skill in artillery shooting, devoted all his attention to the combat training of artillery

      It was Sergei Mikhailovich who introduced firing from closed positions in our artillery, with him created rapid-fire field artillery and a fairly mobile heavy one.
      The negative reviews come mainly from Ignatiev, who, at times, was biased.
      As for cooperation with the Schneider company, whatever one may say, it was one of the most powerful and advanced enterprises of its time, and even the Germans recognized the high quality of French artillery in WWI.
      1. astra wild2
        astra wild2 12 December 2021 08: 10
        Shirokorad says about Sergei Mikhailovich, and Pikul did not like him either.
        1. Senior seaman
          Senior seaman 12 December 2021 11: 00
          Uh-huh ... here are two examples of objectivity!
  8. Petrik66
    Petrik66 8 December 2021 10: 08
    Well, it was necessary to blame someone else for the defeat at the beginning of the war. The army was not ready, the industry was not ready, the officer corps and the generals were not ready. Well, the day is clear - Sukhomlinov is to blame. ATU it. I know another Russian Defense Minister. Pavel Grchev - he was a bribe-taker, he started the war in Chechnya, and in Grozny they washed themselves in blood because of him, and Pasha-Mercedes. Doesn't it remind you of anything? And then it turns out that he was forced to start a war, etc. Maybe it is worth admitting that even if Moltke the elder or Suvorov turned out to be at the post of Sukhomlinov or Grachev, the result would be the same. Well, except that Napoleon would have coped, he would have dispersed all the bastards in the Kremlin or the Winter Palace and would have punished the adversaries.
    1. samosad
      samosad 27 January 2022 15: 47
      What are you carrying? Grachev forced to take Grozny impudently? Without covering those with infantry, and in general - without a good study ...
    2. Cork
      Cork 10 February 2022 18: 14
      Don't touch Napoleon, Russian dog, he's even better than Peter I!
  9. Senior seaman
    Senior seaman 8 December 2021 18: 33
    I was lucky not to die in the Russo-Turkish war and not go to war with Japan.

    And if this appointment took place, then Sukhomlinov's participation in heavy battles in Manchuria could not be avoided.

    Actually, Kuropatkin offered Sukhomlinov the post of chief of staff, but he refused. So it's not a matter of luck :)
  10. astra wild2
    astra wild2 12 December 2021 11: 34
    Quote: Senior Sailor
    Uh-huh ... here are two examples of objectivity!

    Thanks to Pikul, I discovered Russian history, Shirokorad, I personally don't care, but he was praised by his husband and Skomorokhov.
    1. samosad
      samosad 27 January 2022 15: 49
      Yes, Pikul wrote beautifully ... no doubt, but not always historically correct. Well, there's nothing to be done ..., conjuncture at least prevailed ...
  11. Titus_2
    Titus_2 13 January 2022 00: 57
    Yes, it’s annoying that there are only 17 comments, but in the continuation of the article they made it possible to evaluate Sukhomlinov from many angles, or rather look at the person who left a mark on the history of Russia. The article is a plus, but even more impressive was the knowledge of the issue ..... the stories of people who left comments. Thanks to all.