Military Review

English agents against Field Marshal Kutuzov

English agents against Field Marshal KutuzovMikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov, the winner of Napoleon, acted not only as a great commander in his life, but also as an astute politician and skillful diplomat. In all fields he successfully defended the interests of the Russian state, the people of Great Russia. He negotiated, and when necessary, he smashed the opponents of that time - Poland, Turkey, Sweden. But every time, behind the back of the immediate enemy, the main ill-wisher and irreconcilable rival in world politics, England, rose. Fighting and commanding in the North and in the South, Kutuzov constantly met with opposition and intrigues of the omnipresent "mistress of the seas and lands" - the British crown.


During the speeches of successive anti-French coalitions supported by English gold, participation in them by Russia acquired crucial importance. After Austerlitz (December 2 1805), the defeat of the Austro-Russian army by Napoleon, Russia began to reflect on the prospects for future policy. In January 1806, Prince Alexei Kurakin presented an “opinion” (note). He argued that Russia was at war with France for British interests. We need to stop with this, but we should not refuse the benefits of the Anglo-Russian trade. The note was discussed at the Indispensable Council, consisting of the highest dignitaries.

The formula for the resumption of diplomatic relations with the French Empire was also sought. The following argument was put forward: “Russia did not formally declare war on France, the Russian forces at Austerlitz were, as it were, part of the Austrian army and did not seem to fight“ legally ”with the French!” This is a masterpiece of diplomatic-balancing law!

25 June - 9 July 1807, in the East Prussian town Tilsit, the negotiations between the emperors of Russia and France took place. Two documents were drafted in a short time and signed: a peace treaty and a treaty on the union of two empires. The winner, Napoleon, of course, had the advantage in formulating agreements. But Russia has also achieved something. As part of the division of Europe, the Russian side recognized all the conquests of the French empire, the entire political structure of the new kingdoms. Russia was promised the acquisition of Finland (at the expense of Sweden) and the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia with the border on the Danube (at the expense of Turkey).

Russia took over the mediation for the conclusion of a French-English peace treaty, and in the event of England’s refusal, she had to break off relations with her to December 1 of 1807. For its part, France had to mediate between Russia and Turkey (in December 1806, Turkey declared war on Russia).

In 1812, three centers of power played a decisive role in international relations. England and France have clashed in a fierce competition. Each was interested in bringing a third force — Russia — to the side of its policy. Napoleon decided to pursue this by military coercion.

England acted against Russia thinner. She eliminated Emperor Paul, subordinated Emperor Alexander and the ruling class to her influence, making full use of the most fundamental, economic and financial means, in which she had a clear advantage over France.

The sizes of claims of England and France in relation to the policy of Russia were known. France pushed Russia, its army towards distant colonial India. England pushed the forces of Russia towards the heart of the French Empire - Paris.

The patriots of Russia were striving to conduct an independent policy inspired by national interests. Kutuzov had to wage war on two fronts to achieve this goal. One was obvious - the front of the struggle with the invasion of Napoleon. The other was hidden, unobtrusive to the general public - the front of the struggle against the subordination of Russian politics and Russia's efforts to British interests. Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov honorably withstood the war on both fronts.


Since the beginning of the war, the Russian army carried out the plan, previously planned by the Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the First Western Army, Mikhail Bogdanovich Barclay de Tolly, to retreat into the interior of the country, gradually weaken the powerful army of the aggressor and reinforce his own, and then self-confident invader.

When the two Russian armies, I and II Western, joined the 4 of August at Smolensk, Commander II Peter Ivanovich Bagration was in favor of an early general battle. But Barclay ordered a further retreat. The Russian army, through a planned, organized retreat, won the initiative in the war against a superior enemy.

On August 14, the representative of the English government, “Commissioner” Robert Wilson, arrived at Barclay’s headquarters through Istanbul, Bucharest, Kiev. From the first days Wilson began to interfere in the orders of the Russian command, “in order to counteract the intention of General Barclay to leave Smolensk,” which intention, in the opinion of the Englishman, caused “universal indignation.” And in the future, Wilson tried to command Kutuzov "on behalf of the Russian army."

And here is how they looked at him in the Russian army. “English General Wilson came to us; he was received by the commander in chief with honor. In the first days of his arrival, I was instructed to show him the main apartment. This duty was not an easy one, since the general was furious everywhere, like a madman; he was ready to run all day and wanted to be at the same time in the avant-guard and rear guard, in the main apartment - in short, everywhere, ”recalled V.I. Lowenstern, Adjutant Barclay. We see that the English agent worked actively, fulfilling the tasks he received.

To register his status, Wilson went to Petersburg. On the way, he met with Kutuzov, who was going to receive the main command of the armies. According to Wilson’s program, Kutuzov allegedly told him: “Go back without losing time. I need such a comrade as you, both in the headquarters and in the field. ”

August 27 - September 15 Wilson was in St. Petersburg. He persistently took root in the higher circles, courted Alexander. The Russian Tsar, for his part, was interested in developing contacts with the newly acquired most valuable ally, England. He approved the appointment of Wilson and even, according to the Englishman, ordered him to supervise the Russian command and inform the tsar personally. And the sovereign “swore” to Wilson to continue the struggle, even if he had to give up Moscow and St. Petersburg. That was exactly what England needed, a struggle to the last Russian soldier.

The English agent tried to command not only the Russian army, but also the government of Russia. Nikolay Schilder wrote that after returning from Abo to Petersburg on September 15, Alexander received Wilson. "Wilson was authorized to submit to the sovereign, on behalf of the entire army, that only the removal of Count Rumyantsev from the ministry could restore full confidence in the orders of the government and that then any order sent from St. Petersburg to cease hostilities and open negotiations with the French would not be accepted as valid the expression of the will of the sovereign, and for the expression of extraneous malicious suggestions; that is why the army intends to continue the war until the enemy is expelled from the limits of the empire. " Wilson frightened the king: the state is in a dangerous position. "... As soon as military leaders are convinced that his majesty will deprive people of their confidence, whose policies excite their distrust, they will prove their loyalty with efforts and sacrifices that can raise the splendor of the power and protect the stability of the throne."

In other words, Wilson argued that "the whole army" and "military leaders" promise to support the Russian state and the royal throne only if they pursue a policy pleasing to England and its agents. “During this explanation, the sovereign changed several times in the face,” said Schilder. Poor Alexander was forced to reassure Wilson: “But the army is mistaken about Rumyantsev; he never advised me to submit to Napoleon. ” It looked like the allied relations of Russia and England at that moment.


When the need to appoint the commander-in-chief of all active armies was revealed, Emperor Alexander I did not want to see in this post the most deserved General Kutuzov. But the nobility meetings of Moscow and St. Petersburg (here unanimously) elected Kutuzov as the leader of their militia. The emperor could not ignore the will of the ruling class. For Kutuzov spoke and emergency committee of the leading dignitaries of the empire. Alexander appointed Kutuzov, at the same time assigning his spy Bennigsen to him as chief of staff.

The appointment of Kutuzov, his arrival in the army caused a rise, enthusiasm. A folk saying was born: "Kutuzov arrived to beat the French." Initially, Kutuzov continued his retreat, but on September 7 gave Napoleon a battle at Borodino. The rejection of the secondary battle directly in front of Moscow, the abandonment of the capital could be accomplished only by Kutuzov, who enjoys the confidence of the people and the army. The Council at Fili commander completed the order to retreat.

The Tarutinsky maneuver put Napoleon’s army in a critical position. Commander Bonaparte was aware of this. Therefore, October 4, a day after the arrival of the Russian army in Tarutino, Napoleon's envoy, the pre-war French ambassador Loriston, appeared here. On this issue, a political battle unfolded between the commander-in-chief of the Russian army and the English warder, the pusher and the spy.

According to the initial agreement with the French, Kutuzov intended to meet with him in the neutral zone between the outposts of the armies. It was important for Wilson to be present at the talks himself. Therefore, the Englishman, relying on a handful of hostile Kutuzov generals led by ... Bennigsen, got Kutuzov to transfer the meeting to the Russian headquarters. But Wilson to the meeting, he did not allow.

All this was preceded by scenes unprecedented in the Russian army. When contact was established with Loriston, Wilson was among the Russian avant-garde at Miloradovich. The Cossack delivered an urgent call from Bennigsen, who had a dozen generals with Wilson. Someone started a slanderous rumor that Kutuzov was going to conclude a convention on the immediate withdrawal of the French army, which, in turn, would serve as a preliminary agreement leading to peace. Not Loriston can come to the meeting, but Napoleon himself.

After such a pump, Wilson and the company decided: if Kutuzov does this, then “do not allow him to return and resume command,” “deprive the marshal of power”. Thus, the British agents prepared the overthrow of the Russian commander-in-chief from his post. It is not known whether Wilson was going to prepare the fate of Paul I for Kutuzov. But it is absolutely certain: the removal from the throne and the murder of Paul took place in conditions of dissatisfaction with the guard and wide public circles. To raise against Kutuzov some Russian armed force was impossible.

Therefore it was necessary to be limited to plots and conversations. Wilson from Bennigsen went to Kutuzov. Unsuspecting Kutuzov asked: what news from the avant-garde? Wilson demanded a conversation in private and went on the attack: it is necessary that the marshal immediately put an end to the scandal. Then set out the rumors. Kutuzov was not one of those who are easy to take by the throat. He answered harshly: I am the commander-in-chief of the army and I know better what the interests entrusted to me require. The procedure for meeting with Loriston is defined so as to avoid information leaks and misunderstandings. He will listen to the proposals of the Frenchman, and will outline his future actions depending on their nature. In any case, it will be an agreement, satisfactory and honorable for Russia.

The English general (as Wilson called himself) “patiently” listened to the Marshal’s explanations and asked: “So this is your final decision?” - “Yes,” answered Kutuzov, “and irrevocable.” The Russian commander spoke, in the opinion of the Englishman, “in a very sarcastic tone,” and thought that the conversation was over. It was not there. Wilson used heavy artillery - the authority of the king. He recalled that Alexander had banned Kutuzov from any negotiations as long as at least one armed Frenchman remained on the territory of the country, and he, Wilson, was instructed to intervene when this installation and its related interests were in danger.

But even in the face of such threats, "the marshal showed growing intransigence." Then Wilson brought the Duke of Württemberg - the uncle of Emperor Alexander, the Duke of Oldenburg - brother-in-law Alexander and Adjutant-General Prince Volkonsky, who arrived with the mails from St. Petersburg, to his office. They were chosen by conspirators to support Wilson.

Wilson continued his pressure. Expressed and aliens. There was a heated discussion, Kutuzov did not want to give up his word. But in the end gave way. The envoy of Napoleon arrived at the Russian headquarters at 23 hours blindfolded. In the reception room he was presented with a group of generals, including Wilson. Leaving, Loriston said: "I immediately knew where the obstacle came from."

Kutuzov and Loriston retired for about an hour. Then Volkonsky joined them. The Frenchman left, it seemed, disappointed. Wilson, along with others, listened to Kutuzov's information about the conversation.

All this история shows once again what crimes England was ready to go to subordinate to itself the policy of Russia, and especially the Russian army. And what panic fear engulfed the English agents at the slightest attempt at French-Russian conversations. Who was going from Bennigsena and on whom Wilson relied? These were, Levenshtern wrote, "outstanding in origin and wealth" Stanislav Pototsky, Nikolai Demidov, Baron Anshtet, Count Ozharovsky and the "harmless" Count Branitsky.

Death of M.I. Kutuzov in the city of Bunzlau 16 (28) on April 1813.
Watercolor adjutant Kutuzov I.L.Efimovich. 1813. Illustration of the Russian military history dictionary. M., 2002


16 – 17 of October in the vanguard of Murat again visited Loriston. Colonel Bertemi came to Kutuzov with a request from Berthier about a reply from St. Petersburg. Kutuzov answered Berthier with a letter that the answer was delayed because of the distance and the autumn thaw. Loriston returned to Moscow to Napoleon with a report that the Russians would soon go on the offensive.

As a result of the battles of Tarutino and Maloyaroslavets, Kutuzov achieved two major strategic successes. He blocked the road of the French army to the south and drove it to the Smolensk road. The strategic initiative completely and finally passed to the Russian army, and not in a defensive form, as before, but in an offensive one. But to advance does not mean to rush forward imperceptibly and unintelligibly.

After the battle of Maloyaroslavets, his Kutuzov counterattack began on October 26 at 5 in the morning from withdrawal, moving his army 24,5 km to Detchin, and then to the Cloth Plant. Miloradovich with the rearguard stayed with Maloyaroslavets. What was the point of this active tactical maneuver? There was a possibility and there was a fear that Napoleon would move to Medyn-Yukhnov. And from Detchina to Medynskaya road the distance is twice as close as from Maloyaroslavets. Kutuzov kept the cover of the New Kaluga road and was ready to prevent the French from maneuvering for Medyn. Thus, he forced them to retreat through Mozhaisk, Borodino and so on. And the Russian army soon passed through Medyn, pursuing Napoleon. "Kutuzov ... was faithful to his usual course of action - to hide the assumptions he conceived."

On the day of the Maloyaroslavetsky events, battles and maneuvers, Kutuzov clashed with his enemies in his own headquarters. The change in the balance of power between the Russian and French armies, the difficult situation of the French in Moscow, the beginning of the retreat with poor supply, the approaching winter with the complete unavailability of the French troops for it - all this determined the prospect of a major defeat for Napoleon in the Russian campaign. Under these conditions, the British agents made great efforts to direct Russia's actions towards the interests of England in order to shape the outcome of the war in favor of the British oligarchy.

Wilson, relying on the proximity to the tsar, and singing along in the Russian generals, continued his attempts to lead the Russian command. This is clearly manifested under Maloyaroslavets. Disregarding Kutuzov’s strategic intentions, the Englishman brazenly demanded an immediate attack on the French. The impression was created that he, as a servant of English capital and a representative of subsidies, was seeking for a quick return on invested funds. He openly criticized Kutuzov’s maneuvers. Finally, he began to reproach the commander-in-chief for building the “golden bridge” for the smooth departure of the French.

Kutuzov gave these reproaches a powerful exposing rebuff. Late in the night of October 24, in response to Wilson’s attacks, the field marshal directly and sharply declared: “I am not interested in your objections. It is better to build the enemy pont d'or, as you say, rather than get a coup de collier from him. In addition, I repeat once again: I am not sure that the complete destruction of the emperor Napoleon and his army will be such a blessing for the whole world. Its place will not be taken by Russia or any other continental power, but by the one that already dominates the seas, and in this case its dominion will be intolerable. ”

Confused Wilson began to shirk: "Now we are talking only about the performance of military duty, and not about political altercations."

Powerless to cope with Kutuzov, Wilson in all forms available to him - letters to the king, reports to the ambassadors and the government of England, in communication with the generals - tried to belittle and compromise Kutuzov. Wilson accused Kutuzov of weakness, decrepitude, indecision, cowardice, and even treason (apparently, British interests).

Adjutant Barclay at Borodino Muravyov wrote about Wilson: “He was very familiar with all the chiefs, criticized everything, was dissatisfied with everything, gave advice to everyone, but not everyone listened to him. He assured that he gave advice to the field marshal himself, but this clever and experienced chief hardly followed them, which Wilson was very dissatisfied with, being an English agent with him, but in absentia he allowed himself to condemn and scold the field marshal. In a word, this gentleman, in my opinion, was a direct charlatan; the Russians didn’t like him at all, because he interfered in everything, having no right to do so, but at the same time he enjoyed some kind of patronage of our yard. ”

The Russian army under the command of Kutuzov turned the tide of the war. Borodino, Moscow, Tarutino, Maloyaroslavets became key moments of military confrontation. In Tarutino, Kutuzov’s army surpassed Napoleon’s army, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The Russian Armed Forces went on to solve the long-planned task of exterminating the invading aggressor.

The army of Kutuzov from Red intercepted the path of the retreat of the French. As under Vyazma, the field marshal did not use the main forces. He provided a strong avant-garde, hunger and cold to finish off the enemy.


The largest defeat of the French led their army to death. But at the headquarters of Kutuzov, the English agent Wilson continued to rage. When Red, he made a new insistence: "Command" March! ", And the war will end in an hour." According to Wilson’s own testimony, Kutuzov calmly answered him: “You received my answer in Maloyaroslavets.” The commissioner of England had only to insult Kutuzov and slander him in denunciations to Alexander.

Further events unfolded on the Berezina. The commander-in-chief, after Krasny, went forward deliberately slowly, building up his lag behind the main forces of Napoleon. Wilson explained this with the fear of Kutuzov to be defeated. Russian main forces crossed the Berezina much south of Borisov and a few days later Napoleon. It seems that the commander in chief has consistently pursued a strategy of saving Russian blood.

But, of course, there were other considerations. Kutuzov sought to influence the general policy, the political results of the World War 1812. Not having the levers of political power, he could use the levers that were in his hands, the command power over the armies, the definition of the strategy of military operations. And he followed the line, openly expressed by the English agent Wilson, not to bring the case to the complete defeat of Napoleon.

The authors of the book "The Patriotic War and the Russian Society" emphasized: "Kutuzov spared the army and part of Napoleon, given the Russian future."

December 1 Alexander I arrived in Vilnius 22, who now wanted to lead a victorious war. And in the Russian leadership, it was debated sharply when and how to finish it. “Kutuzov very much doubted whether the decisive death of Napoleon would be so beneficial for Russia, believing that the British, Austrians, Prussians would take advantage of this death for their benefit and not at all for ours. The future showed who was right, ”they wrote on the hundredth anniversary of the war in the same book.

“With the expulsion of the French from Russia, the goal of the war came to an end, which was definitely indicated from the very beginning by the tsar himself. So Kutuzov himself looked at the matter. Arriving in Vilna, he settled here to rest, and after crossing with the last detachments of the “Great Army” of the Russian border, spoke in favor of making peace. ”

Naturally, the English agents didn’t look at things like that. Wilson continued to condemn "our indecision", the quirks of "the marshal to sacrifice the benefits of his friend." And finally, the general conclusion: "He is just an old, burnt-out rogue, who hates everything English and dishonestly prefers an independent alliance with us to servility before the channels ruling France". After Maloyaroslavets, demonstrating his foresight, Wilson stated: “If the French reach the border unbroken, the marshal, for all his old age and infirmity, must be shot.”


The question “Do we need to kill Napoleon?” Had another side: “Do we need to save various Western powers?”

"More far-sighted Russian diplomats and military leaders considered it more useful to preserve the remnants of Napoleon’s army and its greatness as opposed to Prussia and Austria." "I did not want this new struggle and Kutuzov, who saw Napoleon as a counterbalance against Austria and Prussia." But what was said in the introductory article “From the Editor”, opening the multivolume edition “Patriotic War and Russian Society”, released to the 100 anniversary celebration of the victory over Napoleon: “After the last remnants of the great army, not captured, went back to the border, it took us for some reason to go to liberate Europe, that is, to lay the first stones to the very power of Prussia and Austria, in which all our political troubles are rooted. No wonder old Kutuzov with his sober mind understood all the uselessness and danger of such political charity and spoke out sharply against the march to Europe. "

It is easy to understand the authors of 1912 of the year: on the eve of World War II, Russia was opposed by an alliance of Prussia and Austria. The authors knew very well whom he wanted to associate with Napoleon Kutuzov, but were silent on current considerations. We can not agree with the explanation of the events of "charity", "sentimentalism". The decisive factor in the choice of policy was the class solidarity of the counterrevolutionary forces both during the war and in the postwar period.

And from the point of view of geopolitical relations, the continuation of the 20-year war of England and France unleashed Russia’s hands for its undertakings, in particular the southern projects. There was no such power in the world in 1813 – 1815 that could prevent tsarism from seizing at least the Danube principalities and the border along the Danube.

Therefore, the following question naturally arose: “If we go further, then where, in which direction?” Kutuzov stood for the direction to the Straits. Foreign Minister Rumyantsev considered the Eastern question to be paramount. He suggested earlier to take advantage of the difficulties of Napoleon in Spain. The 1812 year gave Russia ample chances to advance the solution to this very issue.

The time has come for political conclusions. Stop at the Vistula? Destroy Napoleon? "Kutuzov was a supporter of a completely opposite view: he believed that Napoleon was no longer dangerous for Russia and that it should be kept for the British." But Alexander, who had arrived to the army, decided to lead the matter to the destruction of Napoleon's empire.

Bogdanovich, historian of the reign of Alexander I and the 1812 war of the year, repeatedly returned to the problem of its outcome. "Kutuzov and many of his associates believed that we, having destroyed a huge Napoleon army, achieved the ultimate goal of the war and that we should confine ourselves to expelling the enemy from Russia."

“After the extermination of the“ Great Army ”, many of the Russians thought that it was a good time to conclude a favorable peace with Napoleon. At the head of the champions of the world were influential people - Chancellor Rumyantsev and Prince Kutuzov. ”

Historians of the end of the 20th century wrote the same thing: “It is known that in the ruling circles of tsarist Russia there existed a party of peace headed by state secretary Shishkov. This party offered to make peace with Napoleon, leaving Europe to itself. ”

Other Russian experts cited an article from Schilder’s archive “Was it worth continuing the war at the end of 1812?” A prominent problem expert who worked in the pre-revolutionary years definitely stated: “Kutuzov wanted peace at the end of 1812”. And the same authors emphasize: "The same opinion was held by Academician Eugene Tarle."

The heaviest load of 1812, undermined the health of the commander, he was extremely overworked. 28 April 1813 Kutuzov died in the Silesian town of Bunzlau (Boleslawiec in Polish). The great son of Russia is buried in St. Petersburg.
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  1. Alex-rus
    Alex-rus 13 October 2012 10: 09
    Thank you for the article. It is necessary to explain everywhere the subtleties of the big game. Alexander I was that geopolitician :(
  2. igordok
    igordok 13 October 2012 12: 05
    If this is true (and most likely it is) I take off (what time) my hat to Mikhail Kutuzov.
    All the subtleties of history, as it is not particularly mentioned. Thank.
  3. tambourine 2012
    tambourine 2012 13 October 2012 13: 40
    Kutuzov’s activity was not yet fully appreciated by descendants; it was a human strategist
  4. mamba
    mamba 13 October 2012 18: 46
    With all the genius of Napoleon, his grossest miscalculation was the war with Russia. Leaving behind his worst enemy — Britain, he went east, as if not understanding who was pushing him there and in whose interests it was.
    Having a Great Army, he would have done little to put an end to the last bastions of British influence in Europe, and then to the queen of the seas. He was not threatened by a war on two fronts, because his interests in Europe did not overlap with the Russian. And the ideological background of his campaign seems to me very doubtful. After Austerlitz, Russia did not prevent the establishment of a new order in Europe. It seems that here, too, the British succeeded in pitting their main opponent with a secondary one and skimmed the results of this war.
    However, before and in the future, they have done this more than once successfully and not only with Russia.
    1. Napoleon I
      Napoleon I 15 October 2012 19: 00
      Quote: mamba
      He was not threatened by a war on two fronts, because his interests in Europe did not overlap with the Russian.

      Politically and adequately, yes. But, Alexander I didn’t like Napoleon, he didn’t really like it. He can be called the "king of England." He could send (and sent) Napoleon to the headquarters of spies who would well spoil him in business. What is interesting: Tarle writes that Russian spies worked hard in Paris and worked well, and the Emperor says in his memoirs that, knowing this, he misinformed them. Who to believe?
  5. dmb
    dmb 13 October 2012 20: 01
    It would be nice if the professor of the mysterious "science of political science" referred to some sources. Otherwise, we have to assume that either he is the secret longest-living person on earth, or he cheerfully sucked everything described above from his own finger after reading a children's art book of the era of developed socialism, where the relationship between Alexander, Kutuzov and Bennigsen is described by the same phrases as in the article.
  6. anchonsha
    anchonsha 13 October 2012 21: 05
    The Lord’s paths are not confessed, just like in Great Britain, both in the past and in the present .. And always vile, scum acts and for the most part against Russia, incitement of neighboring countries, betrayal and always actions with the wrong hands ...
  7. loader
    loader 18 October 2012 01: 23
    Very interesting! I see that the British have had their eyes on the conquest of Russia for a long time. And they themselves are still panting about the victory of Admiral Nelson!