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Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coat of arms of the princely Barclay de Tolly family of 1815, in the Baltic Coat of arms book [et] by Carl Arvid von Klingspor [de] in 1882.[1]
Coat of arms of the princely Barclay de Tolly family of 1815, in the Baltic Coat of arms book [et] by Carl Arvid von Klingspor [de] in 1882.[1]

Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly[nb 1] (German: Fürst Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly; 27 December [O.S. 16 December] 1761 – 26 May [O.S. 14 May] 1818) was a Baltic German Field Marshal and Minister of War of the Russian Empire during Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and War of the Sixth Coalition. Barclay implemented a number of reforms during this time that improved supply system in the army, doubled the number of army troops, and implemented new combat training principles. He was also the Governor-General of Finland.

He was born into a German-speaking noble family from Livonia who were members of the Scottish Clan Barclay. His father was the first of his family to be accepted into the Russian nobility. Barclay joined the Imperial Russian Army at a young age in 1776, enlisting in the Pskov Carabineer Regiment. For his role in the capture of Ochakov in 1788 from the Ottomans, he was personally decorated by Grigory Potemkin. Afterwards he participated in Catherine II's Swedish War. In 1794, he took part in putting down the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland and was again decorated for role in the capture of Vilnius.

In 1806, Barclay began commanding in the Napoleonic Wars, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Pułtusk that same year. He was wounded at the Battle of Eylau in 1807 while his troops were covering the retreat of the Russian army. Because of his wounds, he was forced to leave command. The following year, he carried out successful operations in the Finnish War against Sweden. Barclay led a large number of Russian troops approximately 100km across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia in winter during a snowstorm. For his accomplishments, Barclay de Tolly was appointed Governor-General of the Grand Duchy of Finland. From 20 January 1810 to September 1812 he was the Minister of War of the Russian Empire.

When the French invasion of Russia began in 1812, Barclay de Tolly was commander of the 1st Army of the West, the largest Army to face Napoleon. Barclay was appointed Commander-in-Chief and initiated a scorched earth policy from the beginning of the campaign, though this made him unpopular among Russians. After the Battle of Smolensk failed to halt the French and discontent among Russians continued to grow, Alexander I appointed Mikhail Kutuzov as Commander-in-Chief, though Barclay remained in charge of the 1st Army. However, Kutuzov continued the same scorched earth retreat up to Moscow where the Battle of Borodino took place nearby. Barclay commanded the right wing and center of the Russian army for the battle. After Napoleon's retreat, the eventual success of Barclay's tactics made him a hero among Russians. He became Commander-in-Chief once again in 1813 after the death of Kutuzov and led the taking of Paris, for which he was made a Field Marshal. His health later declined and he died on a visit to Germany in 1818.

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In our previous video on the Napoleonic Wars we described the beginning of the war of the fourth coalition and the twin battles of Jena and Auersted that concluded the first phase of the conflict that The war was just starting and soon Napoleon was tested by the new Russian army and a harsh winter Welcome to our documentary on the battle of Eylau The war of the fourth coalition erupted in October of 1806 and in less than a month French Emperor Napoleon Had utterly defeated the Prussian army at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt and occupied Berlin The Prussians could not oppose the grand army But despite that King Frederick Wilhelm 3rd refused to negotiate and fled to Konigsberg in eastern Prussia as he was assured that Russian armies would soon support him indeed 68,000 Russians under Bennigsen were in Grodno and a forty thousand strong force commanded by Buxhoeveden was on its way Napoleon knew that he had to Decisively defeat the Russians to win the war but his supply lines were still not secure enough as some of the Prussian strongholds Continued their resistance so in early November he sent the corps of marshal davu across the Oder River To prevent the Russians from setting their defensive line, man fortunately for the French the main Prussian bastion of Magdeburg fell on November 8th and on the next day davu entered Poznan which triggered a patriotic Polish uprising The pole started fighting against the remainder of the Prussian forces in the area at the same time the fall of Magdeburg allowed Napoleon to move more cause across the Oder and that forced Bennigsen to stop and wait for his reinforcements a Lack of supplies was preventing Napoleon from marching at his usual fast pace So he ended Warsaw only on the 19th of December Still he attempted a pincer move by moving some of his forces to the north The Russian troops were spread 60 kilometers to the north of Warsaw between po2 scanned gulaman On the 26th of December the French attacked from the north, west and south, but failed to encircle the Russian troops Bennigsen managed an orderly retreat to be Ellis dock where he decided to winter Although Napoleon hoped to chase the enemy the winter was too harsh, and he also had to send his cause back to their winter cantonments Both armies had a hard time procuring rations By the middle of January the situation became critical and Bennigsen started moving towards Danzig It was still controlled by the Prussians and had ample supplies Coincidentally marshal ney attempted a raid towards Hiles Berg on the 17th of January Napoleon was furious and ordered ney to return the latter complied at The same time the Russians reached the position of Bernadotte and threatened to cut him off from the majority of French troops The French marshal was too quick for them and retreated to the south The Russians caught up her mother and gun but Bernadotte scored a minor victory and successfully withdrew All that gave Napoleon a brilliant idea he ordered Bernadotte and ney to continue their withdrawal While oshiro, Siouxland davu were commanded to march north the goal was to cut the Russian retreat and impose a general battle unfortunately for Napoleon Constant rains made the road impassable and on the 31st of January his messenger to Bernadotte was caught by Russian Cossacks, which allowed Bennigsen to learn of the Emperor's plans and retreat French troops almost caught up to the Russians on two occasions in early February, but Bennigsen was able to escape However, further retreat was impossible as that would have let the French capture crucial Konigsberg Bennigsen stopped at the small town of presage a low modern day by gratia nafse in Russia he asked for assistance from the 12,000 strong Prussian Corps under less stock that was nearby Napoleon knew of the Prussian forces in the area and ordered ney to prevent them from joining Bennigsen But the Prussians managed to avoid the French marshal The Battle of a lout took place on the 7th and 8th of February 1807 At the beginning of the battle the Russians had about sixty six thousand troops against forty five thousand with Napoleon But the Emperor knew that ney and davu each with fifteen thousand soldiers were within marching distance The Russians had a decided advantage in artillery with four hundred and fifty guns against Napoleon's two hundred Pfennigs and needed time to set up his troops to the northeast of a lap so he left his rearguard under the command of BA Gretchen to cover the deployment the Russian general was able to repulse the French initially but by midday, Oshiro And the Imperial Guard joined the battle and Baratheon had to retreat under overwhelming French pressure For Grad Sheehan retreated towards the main army while General Berkeley screened his withdrawal in the town of a loud The layout of the town wasn't conductive to an attack and Barclay managed to defend his positions well into the evening By 2200 hours. He was ordered to move back and joined Bennigsen the Russian commander knew that not all of the French troops were Present and ordered part of his right flank to strengthen the reserves, which weakened his wing the morning started with an artillery to Past the French were expecting the arrival of Davos core from the southwest sue was ordered to attack the Russian right and create a diversion However the Russian stopped soon and when the Vanguard of Davos forces arrived. They were intercepted by the cavalry Reserve Napoleon needed to win time to let the remainder of Davos soldiers join the battle, so he ordered his center and right to attack a Blizzard started and blinded the center of the French army led by OSHA Road Visibility was so limited that the French artillery mistakenly bombarded oshiro, who walked right into the Russian artillery battery? more than 5,000 French died in the centre without reaching the Russian lines while the French right didn't do much damage to the Russian left Bennigsen counter attacked against the French right led by song Hilaire with his cavalry and forced it to stop its advance While his infantry moved against the French Center, which was defended by what was left of Russia rose Corps However, Napoleon still had his guard to send in while the infantry units joined the center stopped the enemy advance The cavalry portion of the guard attached the Russians from the rear and the majority of this column was destroyed The French also had more as cavalry in reserve And it was ordered to counter-attack the right wing of these units attacked the Russian cavalry fighting song Hill airs right flank and scattered them Marat and song Hilaire Continued their movement and although the infantry was stopped their cavalry charge dispersed every Russian unit in front of it and reached the reserves At this point in the battle the Vu's remaining troops arrived and attacked the Russian left and while su Oshiro marat and the guard held their positions davin supported by Sawhill air pushed the russians back and by 1530 the russian left and left center who almost at a 90-degree angle to the rest of the forces Luckily for Ben exam 9,000 Prussians commanded by less stock entered the battle and joined the beleaguered Russian left The Russians attacked davu from the right and slowly pushed him away By 1900 hours dave who had to retreat and set a line between the villages of cotton and and clapping around that time nay's Corps Which was supposed to stop the stock entered the fray his forces moved against the extreme right of the Russian troops But Bennigsen used the remainder of his cavalry to intercept them the battle continued until 2200 hours at which point the sides disengaged Both armies lost at least 15,000 troops, and it is possible that Napoleon's army suffered more casualties despite that at 2300 Bennigsen ordered a retreat The French were in no shape to chase the enemy And although the battlefield belonged to Napoleon it was clear that for the first time in his career he had failed to win a decisive battle a Lao indicated that the war of the fourth coalition was far from over Thanks for watching our Documentary on the Battle of Eila in two weeks Napoleon will be back to command his troops at the Battle of Friedland We would like to express our gratitude to our patreon supporters who make the creation of these videos possible Patreon is the best way to suggest a new video learn about our schedule and so much more This is the kings and Generals channel, and we will catch you on the next one


Early life and family

Barclay de Tolly was a descendant of the Scottish Clan Barclay, with roots in Towie (Towy or Tolly; Scottish Gaelic: Tollaigh) in Aberdeenshire.[2] He was born in Pomautsch [lt],[3][4] Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (present-day Pamūšis, Šiauliai County, Lithuania) and raised in Beckhof, Livonia, Russian Empire (now part of Estonia). The commonly accepted birth date of 27 December 1761 is actually the day of his baptism in the Lutheran church of the town Zaumel.[5] He was a German-speaking descendant of a Scottish family, as his ancestor Peter Barclay had settled in Livonia in the 17th century.

From 1765, the young Barclay de Tolly grew up in St. Petersburg and was raised by his aunt. Gregory Fremont-Barnes and Todd Fisher, who are amongst the world's leading Napoleonic-era scholars,[citation needed] state that this was a common occurrence amongst the German Protestants, and it gave the young man an exposure to higher society unavailable in the Baltic provinces.[6] His grandfather Wilhelm Barclay de Tolly served as the mayor of Riga, while his father Bogdan Barclay de Tolly (1734–1781) served in the Russian army before being admitted into the ranks of the Russian nobility by the Tsar.[6]

The future field marshal started his active service in the Imperial Russian Army in 1776, and he would spend the rest of his life with the military.[6][dead link] He had two brothers who also served in the Russian army, Axel Heinrich Barclay de Tolly, a Major General of Engineers, and Erich Johann Barclay de Tolly, a Major of Artillery.

Service history

Statue of Barclay de Tolly in front of the Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg, by Boris Orlovsky
Statue of Barclay de Tolly in front of the Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg, by Boris Orlovsky

Barclay was enlisted in the Pskov Carabineer Regiment on 13 May 1776, and he achieved the rank of a cornet by May 1778.[citation needed] In the same year, he joined the Imperial jaeger regiments, and joined alongside the rest of his unit the army of Prince Potemkin.[6] In 1788–1789, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1787-1792, Barclay served against the Turks, under the command of Victor Amadeus of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym. During this campaign, he distinguished himself in the taking of Ochakov and Akkerman.

In 1789, he was transferred to the Finnish front during the Russo-Swedish War of 1788-1790,[6] and four years later, he fought against the Poles.[6] He was a lieutenant colonel by 1794 after serving as aide-de-camp to various senior officers in several campaigns. In that year, he was appointed commander of the Estland Jaeger Corps, and three years later commander of the 4th Jaeger Regiment, becoming its chief in 1799, soon after being promoted to general major for his service in the Polish Campaign of 1794.[7]

In the war of 1806 against Napoleon, Barclay took a distinguished part in the Battle of Pultusk (December 1806) and was wounded at the Battle of Eylau (7 February 1807), where his conduct won him promotion to the rank of lieutenant general.[8] After a period of convalescence, Barclay returned to the army and in 1808 commanded operations against the Swedes during the Finnish War. In 1809, he successfully marched over the frozen Gulf of Bothnia, which allowed him to surprise the enemy and seize Umeå in Sweden.[8] For this exploit, immortalized by the Russian poet Baratynsky, he was made full general and Governor-General of Finland. A year later, he became Minister of War, retaining the post until 1813.[8]

Napoleon's invasion

During Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, Barclay assumed the supreme command of the 1st Army of the West, the largest of the Russian armies facing Napoleon. He used a strategy of retreat leaving behind scorched earth from the beginning of the campaign in order to draw the French supply lines deep into Russian territory and retreated to the village of Tsaryovo-Zaimishche between Moscow and Smolensk, although some consider the strategy merely an confluence of diverse circumstances and not attributable to the will of one man.[9]

Nevertheless, the Russians keenly opposed the appointment of a foreigner as commander-in-chief. His rivals spread rumors of his being Napoleon's agent, and the populace condemned him as a coward. Barclay was forced by his subordinates and the Tsar to engage Napoleon at Smolensk (17–18 August 1812). Napoleon forced Barclay to retreat when he threatened Barclay's only escape route. After losing the Holy City of Smolensk, the outcry of officers and civilians grew to a point where the Tsar could no longer ignore it. He appointed Kutuzov, previously a general at the battle of Austerlitz, as the over-all commander of the Russian forces. Barclay remained General of the 1st Army of the West.

Barclay commanded the right flank at the Battle of Borodino (7 September 1812) with great valour and presence of mind and during the celebrated council at Fili advised Kutuzov to surrender unfortified Moscow to the enemy. His illness made itself known at that time and he was forced to leave the army soon afterwards.

After Napoleon was driven from Russia, the eventual success of Barclay's tactics made him a romantic hero, misunderstood by his contemporaries and rejected by the court. His popularity soared, and his honour was restored by the tsar.

Foreign campaigns

Barclay was re-employed in the field and took part in the German Campaign of 1813 and the French Campaign of 1814, which ended the War of the Sixth Coalition (1812–1814). After Kutuzov's death, he once again became commander-in-chief of the Russian forces at the Battle of Bautzen (21 May 1813), and in this capacity he served at Dresden (26–27 August 1813), Kulm (29–30 August 1813) and Leipzig (16–19 October 1813). In the latter battle, he commanded a central part of the Allied forces so effectively that the tsar bestowed upon him the title of count.

Barclay de Tolly Mausoleum in Jõgeveste, southern Estonia
Barclay de Tolly Mausoleum in Jõgeveste, southern Estonia

Barclay took part in the invasion of France in 1814 and commanded the taking of Paris, receiving the baton of a Field Marshal in reward. In 1815 he again served as commander-in-chief of the Russian army, which after the Hundred Days occupied France, and he was created a prince at the close of the war.

As his health grew worse, he left the military and settled down in his Jõgeveste manor (German exonym: Beckhof, Polish: Tepelshof) (nowadays Southern Estonia).[10] Barclay de Tolly died at Insterburg (Chernyakhovsk), East Prussia, on 26 May 1818 (14 May, Old Style) on his way from his Livonian manor to Germany, where he wanted to renew his health. His and his wife Helene Auguste Eleonore von Smitten's remains were embalmed and put into the mausoleum built to a design by Apollon Shchedrin and Vasily Demut-Malinovsky in 1832 in Jõgeveste (in Helme, Estonia).

Bust of Barclay de Tolly in Tartu, Estonia.
Bust of Barclay de Tolly in Tartu, Estonia.

A grand statue of him was erected in front of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg at the behest of Emperor Nicholas I. He is also commemorated by a modern statue in Riga, a full-size bronze-mounted statue by Vladimir Surovtsev in Chernyakhovsk, a bust monument in Tartu, and the so-called "Barclay's leaning house" in Tartu (which was acquired by his widow after his death).

After the extinction of the Barclay de Tolly princely line with his son Magnus on 29 October 1871 (17 October, Old Style), Alexander II allowed the field marshal's sister's grandson through female lineage, Alexander von Weymarn, to assume the title of Prince Barclay de Tolly-Weymarn on 12 June 1872 (31 May, Old Style).[11][12]

Awards and decorations

Commemoratives and legacy

Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly. Russia postage stamp, 2011
Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly. Russia postage stamp, 2011
  • The Nesvizhskiy 4th Grenadier regiment (the General-Field Marshal Prince Barklay-de-Tolli, Mikhail Bogdanovich's) was named for the Prince in 1880s.
  • He was also the namesake of a short-lived Russian fortress in the Hawaiian Islands.
  • A statue of Barclay de Tolly was erected in 2001 in the Esplanade gardens in Riga, evoking an earlier 1913 monument that was destroyed during the 20th century.
  • Whereas his lineage as a Baltic-Scottish Baron (and as such: Non-Russian) had caused him to be derided by Russian historians in the late 19th and throughout the 20th century in favor of Kutuzov, his image as a leader has undergone a positive reassessment in recent years.[13]
  • The main-belt asteroid 4524 Barklajdetolli, discovered by Lyudmila Zhuravleva in 1981, was named in his honor.[14]


  1. ^ In Russian: Mikhail Bogdanovich Barklay-de-Tolli Cyrillic: Михаи́л Богда́нович Баркла́й-де-То́лли


  1. ^ Carl Arvid von Klingspor (1882). Baltisches Wappenbuch. Stockholm. p. 112. ISBN 978-0-543-98710-5. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  2. ^ His ancestor emigrated from Towy (Tolly) in Aberdeenshire c. 1688. "CHAPTER IX. SCOTTISH FAMILIES SETTLED IN RUSSIA. THE COURT PHYSICIANS. ROGERSON. OTHER SCOTS - SIR James WYLIE, COUNT BARCLAY DE TOLLY, LERMONTOFF. CONCLUSION.". Scottish Influences in Russian History. p. 6. Retrieved 2015-08-26. The story of the family is this. They came to Russia during the times of the Revolution of 1688, from Towy (Tolly) in Aberdeenshire.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ (in Russian)Biography on the official website of the Russian Ministry of Defense Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ (in Lithuanian)Famous Russian officer is from Lithuania
  5. ^ (in Lithuanian)The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Lithuania Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c d e f Fremont-Barnes & Fisher 2004, p. 172.
  7. ^ p. 25, Mikaberidze, The Russian officer Corps
  8. ^ a b c Nafziger 2001, p. 26.
  9. ^ War and Peace by graf Leo Tolstoy. April 2001. Retrieved 4 April 2018 – via
  10. ^ Anderson, Sten. "Hotell De Tolly". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Genealogisches Handbuch der Oeselschen Ritterschaft, Seite 442".
  12. ^ "Genealogisches Handbuch der Oeselschen Ritterschaft, Seite 424".
  13. ^ "31 greatest commanders in Russian history". Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  14. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(4524) Barklajdetolli". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (4524) Barklajdetolli. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 389. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_4463. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.


Further reading

External links

Media related to Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Georg Magnus Sprengtporten
Governor-General of Finland
Succeeded by
Fabian Steinheil
Government offices
Preceded by
Aleksey Arakcheyev
Minister of Land Forces of Russia
Succeeded by
Aleksey Gorchakov
This page was last edited on 8 September 2019, at 06:26
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