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On 23 January, 1809, Napoleon returned to Paris from Spain preoccupied with the turn of events taking place in Austria where the armaments and conscription had been underway for the past few months. The Russian Emperor Alexander’s foreign minister, Nikolai Rumyantsev, was in Paris where he was to conduct negotiations for a peace with England, but he now became witness to a course of events that resulted in the Franco-Austrian War of 1809. The conflict proved to be of considerable importance for Europe and, besides another round of political transformation in Central Europe, it revealed the frailty of the Franco-Russian alliance, which was to collapse just three years later.


The early nineteenth century saw France and Russia engaged in a complex geopolitical struggle which resulted in continued hostilities between the two states. Sadly for Russia, its armies suffered a series of defeats between 1805 and 1807, prompting Emperor Alexander to accept peace at Tilsit in 1807. Meanwhile, as France became embroiled in the Peninsular affairs in 1808, the Viennese court, dissatisfied with the loss of territories to France in previous three conflicts, prepared for a new campaign, hoping to recover its lands and status as first-rate power on the continent. Russia thus found herself in a difficult situation, forced to choose between her new and old allies. Legally, Russia was bound to France by the treaties of Tilsit and Erfurt, the latter agreement specifying that “in case Austria should engage in war against France, the Emperor of Russia agrees to declare himself against Austria and to make common cause with France, that case being likewise one of those to which the alliance that unites the two Empires applies”. [1][1] Article X of the “Convention d’Alliance” signed at... Because of the long-standing tradition of Russo-Austrian alliance, this provision was a rather drastic change in Russian foreign policy. The Russian court initially rationalized its new policy by accepting Napoleon’s accusations that “perfidious Albion’s” hand was stirring the pot in Central Europe. Rumyantsev referred to the suspected Anglo-Austrian collusion that was discussed during his meeting with Napoleon, the French emperor expressing “his conviction that there is a certain agreement concluded between England and Austria.” [2][2] Rumyantsev to Alexander, 24 January, 1809, Vneshnaia... The Russian ambassador Alexander Kurakin described Napolon recounting his rage at Austrian “acceptance of British assistance”. “It is England’s money,” Napoleon went on, “that allows [Austrians] to cover their expenses, which are so incompatible with her [current] possibilities. Austria imagines that she is still in the same position that she held two hundred years ago, forgetting what she has become since then and what France has accomplished”. [3][3] Kurakin to Alexander I, 30 January, 1809, Vneshnaia... The Austrian ambassador Klemens von Metternich reported to Vienna that Rumyantsev, while sharing the French concerns over Britain, did his best to persuade Napoleon against a war with Austria. [4][4] Metternich to Stadion, 9 February, 1809, Prince Metternich,... Nevertheless, Napoleon continued to vent his anger during his meetings with the Russian envoys, telling them “Austria needs a slap in the face, and I will give it to her on both cheeks, and you will see how she would thank me and ask for my orders on what to do next”. [5][5] Rumyantsev to Alexander, 11 February, 1809, Vneshnaia... Such sentiments seem to have spread into the Russian official circles as well. “The blindness of Austria is inexplicable,” Alexander mused in a letter, “Perhaps it is produced by England.” [6][6] Alexander to Napoleon, 27 January, 1809, in Sergei... The Minister of War Alexei Arakcheyev was convinced that Austria was “driven by England” towards war and that “Russia will be duty bound to honor its treaties with France”. [7][7] Arakcheyev to Prozorovskii, 12 January, 1809, Vneshnaia...


The Franco-Russian alliance, however, was highly unpopular in Russia. Many of Alexander’s ministers and advisers were not only against the war with Austria, but even urged mobilization against France. Only a few Russian statesmen, Foreign Minister Rumyantsev being the most prominent one, supported pro-French policy. Rumyantsev was certainly apprehensive about the French hegemony in Europe, but he also understood the importance of alliance with Napoleon. For him, Napoleon, after his coronation in 1804, was no longer “the abominable creature of the revolution,” but rather the man who put an end to the revolution. Russian diplomat Alexander Butenev, who served under Rumyantsev, commented in his memoirs that “in Rumyantsev’s opinion, only Napoleon was capable of restraining revolutionary movements in Europe, and when Napoleon fell in 1815, [Rumyantsev] predicted the rise of such movements.” [8][8] Vospominania russkogo diplomata A.P. Buteneva, Russkii... Emperor Alexander also believed that Russia stood to benefit from its closer relations with France. Writing to his mother, Alexander argued that “it is in Russia’s interests to be on friendly relations with this colossus [Napoleon], the most dangerous enemy of Russia. To prevent any French hostile actions, it is essential to arouse his interests in Russia that would be the driving factor in the political life of our states. Russia has no other means to secure alliance with France but to share […] French interests and convince [Napoleon] to trust Russian intentions. All our efforts, therefore, must be directed to achieve this goal and gain time to increase our forces and resources.” [9][9] Vel. Kn. Nikolay Mikhailovich, Diplomaticheskie snoshenia... When King Frederick William III of Prussia proposed the formation of “a triple defensive alliance of Prussia, Russia and Austria” against France, Alexander quickly refused it, urging the king to pursue a more sagacious policy towards France. [10][10] Frederick William III to Alexander, Alexander to Frederick...


But such sentiments fell on deaf ears as Russian public opinion was bitterly opposed to the Franco-Russian alliance, especially if that required Russia to wage war against a long time ally. The Russian nobility was hostile to France and was concerned both about the revolutionary ideas that French soldiers spread and French expansion into central and eastern Europe. In their opinion, the Franco-Russian alliance simply made Russia subservient to French interests. The army particularly represented a hot bed of anti-French sentiments and many prominent Russian generals, including Field Marshal Alexander Prozorovsky, Generals Peter Bagration, Mikhail Vorontsov, Sergei Golitsyn, were against the war with Austria. Secret agent Fogel reported in the spring of 1809 that Bagration bluntly told the French ambassador that he would never command an army against Austrian Archduke Carl. [11][11] Vneshnaia politika Rossii, p. 66. Thus when the rumors of impending Franco-Austrian war and Russian support of Napoleon spread in early 1809, Russian public opinion quickly turned against helping the French. In a letter to his brother on 26 February 1809, Alexander Bulgakov lamented that he could not “believe that we will actually fight Austria, our ally in all the previous wars…. His Majesty [Alexander I] acts rather ditheringly.” [12][12] Pisma A. Bulgakova k ego bratu iz Peterburga v Venu... Another contemporary, Friedrich Vigel was struck by the widespread pro-Austrian sentiments in Russian society in St. Petersburg. “It was remarkable to see an apparent contradiction between the court and the emperor in such an absolutist state,” he wrote, “The Russian nobles visited [Austrian ambassador] Schwarzenberg every day, and there were always carriages at his residence.” [13][13] Zapiski F. Vigela, (Moscow, 1892) III, p. 67. Indeed, Schwarzenberg, who visited St. Petersburg to negotiate with Alexander in early 1809, was astounded at his reception, writing “Everyone wants to show through outpourings of friendliness how attached they are to my cause… I cannot tell you how pronounced the opinion is against the French. There are very few houses where they are received, and only two or three where they are welcomed.” [14][14] Schwarzenberg to Princess Schwarzenberg, 21 March,... Alexander’s mistress, Maria Naryshkina, exhibited a portrait of the Austrian envoy in a prominent location at her salon while the Emperor’s mother, Maria Feodorovna, refused to meet the French ambassador but warmly welcomed the Austrian prince. [15][15] Kazimierz Waliszewski, La Russie il y a cent ans: Le... Mikhail Magnitsky, a Ministry of Interior official, wrote that “recently public opinion in Russia has become very hostile to the government. It is now popular to criticize the governments, its actions and plans, and to ridicule government officials.” [16][16] Nikolay Dubrovin, Russkaya zhizn v nachale XIX veka,... Russian police informants reported that Russian high society ostracized some Russian nobles for their pro-French sentiments. “In all of Russia,” one court nobleman confided to an informant, “there are only five prominent people who are not against the current alliance [with France] and we know quite well who they are and whenever they enter the society, everyone whispers, “This is one of the five.” This expression is so well known that as soon as one of the five enters the room, all conversations cease at once.” [17][17] Fogel to Balashov, 10 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika...


Assessing the situation in Europe and the military potentials of France and Austria, Alexander believed that the Austrian army was unprepared for the war while Russia, already at war with the Ottoman Empire and Sweden, could not afford to jeopardize its relations with France. Yet, Alexander was unwilling to forsake his former German allies completely. King Frederick William III spent most of January in Russia, where his very presence reminded Alexander of earlier agreements and promises. As the Prussian monarch departed from Russia, Alexander received the Austrian special envoy, Prince Karl zu Schwarzenberg, who arrived in St. Petersburg to secure Russian neutrality in case of war against France. [18][18] For good overview of Schwarzenberg’s mission see Llewellyn... During his two hour long meeting with Schwarzenberg, Alexander accused Austria of bellicose conduct towards France and warned that if the Viennese court attacked first, he would fulfill his alliance obligations to Napoleon. He tried to assure the Austrian envoy that Napoleon had no hostile intentions towards Austria and that a war would only lead to “inevitable defeat.” Schwarzenberg reassured Alexander that “as late as at the time of his departure, there was no discussion [in Austria] about provoking a rupture with France.” Austria armed itself in defence, the prince argued, concerned that Napoleon would threaten it once he had secured Spain. Alexander rejected these arguments, repeating that he knew “from the most dependable” source that France was most concerned about “restoring a general peace in Europe,” and that Austrian behavior only strengthened Napoleon’s conviction that Britain was inciting another war on the continent. [19][19] Alexander to Rumyantsev, 14 February, 1809, Vneshnaia...


Alexander’s letter of 14 February to his foreign minister is fascinating because it outlines the Russian emperor’s geopolitical view of Europe. Alexander was convinced that Russia’s goal was to maintain “balance of power in Europe whose intrinsic condition is, in my mind, the existence and integrity of three great monarchies: Austria, France and Russia.” Therefore, Russia should “side with France in her efforts to set reasonable limits on Austria’s ambition if the latter continued to maintain offensive posturing, but [Russia] should also be ready to side with Austria any time it faces unjustified aggression from France.” [20][20] Alexander to Rumyantsev, 14 February, 1809, Vneshnaia... This policy shaped and guided Russian behavior during the Franco-Austrian War. Austria’s decision to launch war, and therefore became an aggressor, compelled Alexander to honor his responsibilities to France but he was naturally unwilling to help the French in destroying one of the cornerstones of the European equilibrium as he had perceived it. “Although his situation imposed on him an obligation to send his troops into Galicia,” Alexander told Schwarzenberg in April, he would delay his entry into the war for as much as possible and instruct his commanders to “avoid every collision and every act of hostility” with Austrian forces. [21][21] Schwarzenberg to Franz, 21 April, 1809, in Gustav Just,...


On April 10, the Austrian army crossed into Bavaria beginning thus her war against France. Six days later, St. Petersburg received the news of the Austrian aggression and Alexander made it known that he would recall his ambassador from Vienna as well as ask Schwarzenberg to leave Russia. To Napoleon, the Russian emperor wrote, “Your Majesty can count on me; my means are not great, having already two wars on hand, but all that is possible will be done… You will always find a faithful ally in me.” [22][22] Albert Vandal, Napoléon et Alexandre 1er : l’alliance... Russia mobilized forces (placed under command of the sixty-year-old General Sergei Golitsyn) along its western borders but did not send it to support Napoleon for over one month. [23][23] Alexander to Golitsyn, 21 April, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,... It was only after the Austrian army under Archduke Ferdinand d’Este invaded the Duchy of Warsaw that the Russian attitude stiffened and, with Napoleon insisting on the casus foederis (case of the alliance), Alexander dispatched his army of about 32,000 men to support French operations against Austria. On 18 May, he issued a set of decrees and instructions that shed interesting light on Russian intentions here. The imperial decree instructed Golitsyn to cross the imperial border at Dragochin, Brest-Litovsk and Ust’-Lugi with the goal of occupying positions on the Vistula River. If the Russians faced armed resistance from the Austrian army, Golitsyn was authorized to use force against them [deistvovat’ voennoj rukoyu”]. [24][24] Alexander to Golitsyn, 18 May, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,...


The decree was followed by sets of instructions from Alexander and Foreign Minister Rumyantsev that provided general guidelines for Russian operations. [25][25] Among these documents one is interesting since it shows... “You have certainly heard about the French successes and judging from them, we can reasonably expect the French arms to appear shortly on the borders of Galicia. At the same time, the popular unrest that erupted in this region presents an important circumstance to us,” Alexander’s letter stated. “As you advance into Galicia in accordance with the orders you have received, you must ensure that the local [Polish] population is not abused and try to entice them to the Russian side. For this purpose you are authorized to exploit any circumstances presented to you to win over their trust and convince them that Russia, by acting against Austria, desires to ensure their safety and property, and considers their gains as her own.” At the same time Alexander advised Golitsyn to “plan your movements in such a manner so as to have the [Polish] insurrectionary forces [“vnuternneye protivuopolocheniya (insurrektsii)”], if they are indeed already formed, always in front of our forces and so that the army entrusted to you is always preceded by this internal [Polish] militia, so that it provides the latter with strong support but also uses it as a buttress.” The Russian Emperor ordered Golitsyn to occupy positions on the Vistula River but also allowed him “to cross to the opposite bank and act on your own discretion if you are not opposed by any strong enemy corps…. Bear in mind that the stronger your presence will be in the region, the more useful it will be to our interests.” [26][26] Alexander to Golitsyn, 18 May, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,... Indeed, Rumyantsev’s instructions specified that Golitsyn was to avoid words “Poland” or “Polish army” in all official correspondence and, if the Polish authorities offered Golitsyn to conduct joint operations against the Austrians, he should avoid them “by all means [vsemi silami],” unless such actions would “bring important advantages” to Russia. [27][27] Rumyantsev to Golitsyn, 18 May, 1809, Vneshnaia politika...


Alexander expected the Russian army to depart at once, anxious to show Napoleon that Russia was honoring its responsibilities before the war was over. By late May, the principal Austrian army had already suffered a series of defeats in Bavaria and Napoleon was in possession of the Austrian capital. With the war already having lasted more than a month, the French emperor was naturally quite displeased with the Russian foot-dragging, urging Alexander to act; “Compliments and phrases are not armies; it is armies which the circumstances demand.” [28][28] Champagny to Caulaincourt, 2 June, 1809, in Vandal,... This was especially important in light of the French reverse at Aspern–Essling on 21–22 May as well as the failed Austrian invasion of the Duchy of Warsaw that exposed Austrian weaknesses. The Russian emperor demanded more rigorous operations from Golitsyn, who, on 24 May 1809, had to explain his continued delay in crossing the Bug River, promising that the “positive persuasion” of the Polish population to support Russia would be among his priorities as soon as he entered Galicia.


But Alexander was not satisfied, and his letter of May 29 reveals his apprehension about the rumors of Russian unfaithfulness to the French alliance. The Emperor informed Golitsyn that “it is necessary to launch an immediate and vigorous offensive to deflect all suspicions and false talk that have arisen regarding our intentions and my personal behavior…. Do not waste any time, not even an hour, and cross the border at once, even if that means advancing with one regiment, or even just one battalion.” [29][29] Alexandetr to Golitsyn, 29 May 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,... Golitsyn received this order on 2 June and the following day, fifty-three days after the war had began, the Russian army crossed the Bug River and entered Galicia. [30][30] Journal of Military Operations of the Russian Army... By this time, Polish troops had already halted the Austrian army in a series of battles and forced it to abandon almost all of the captured Polish territory. Poniatowski then followed the Vistula upstream, invaded Galicia and raised a rebellion among the local Polish population. He forced the Austrian garrisons to surrender and began setting up Polish administration, appealing to all Poles to unite in the task of liberating their country. It was at this moment that the Russian arrival disrupted Polish plans.


Golitsyn reported that “upon crossing the Bug River, the Russian troops were met and greeted like friends by local officials who acted on behalf of their residents; officers were treated to a breakfast while soldiers were given wine and meat” [31][31] Golitsyn to Alexander, 6 June 1809, in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii,... The Russian commander initially planned to march to Garwolin, some 100 miles from Brest and 37 miles from Warsaw, assuming that Poniatowski would probably advance to Sandomierz to threaten Austrian communications and that Russian forces should stay together to counter any Austrian moves to the eastern bank of the Vistula. [32][32] Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii,... However, on the eve of the crossing, General Jean-Baptiste Pelletier reached the Russian headquarters, informing Golitsyn of general situation in the theater of war and asking to coordinate operations with Poniatowski who was preparing to attack Sandomierz. [33][33] Poniatowski to Golitzyn, 30 May, 1809, in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii,... As the Polish participant described, “Galitzin appeared well disposed [and] acceded to Poniatowski’s requests, promising to send [General Arkadii Suvorov-Rymniksky’s 9th] division on the San… [34][34] Golitsyn dispatched the 10th Division to Pulavy to... He gave Pelletier a letter for this general [and] Pelletier promptly departed in order to hasten his movement. However, an aide-de-camp to Golitsyn went with them with a counter order. Suvorov, who in all honesty could not conceal this, told Pelletier that he did not wish play a deceitful role. He added that most of the divisional commanders of the Russian army regarded the war against Austria as greatly misguided and that he shared that opinion as well. Pelletier was obliged to return to the Polish headquarters without having determined if the Russians would immediately support the Polish Army, but he did bring Poniatowski a sense of the ill will of the allied generals and the duplicity of their commander.” [35][35] Roman Soltyk, Relation des Opérations de l’Armée aux...


Indeed, despite the urgency of Alexander’s last letter or Poniatowski’s appeal, Golitsyn was in no hurry to act, informing Suvorov to “limit your actions to defensive operations.” [36][36] Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii,... On his part, Suvorov instructed his divisional commanders, “If Warsaw forces [Varshavtsy] attack, we will not assist them; if they are attacked, we may support them.” [37][37] Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii,... All the while Golitsyn was assuring Poniatowski, “I have faith in your confidence that I will not miss any opportunity to prove my readiness to act in accordance of my Sovereign’s will and the operations of his Allies.” [38][38] Cited in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny... Within days, Russian sentiments became quite well known to the Austrian side who had communicated with both Golitsyn and his divisional commanders. As early as June 6, Archduke Ferdinand was pleased to report that “[Golitsyn promised] to avoid all hostilities against us [and] to arrange his march as slowly as possible and leave my troops time for orderly withdrawal.” [39][39] Ferdinand to Franz, 6 June, 1809, in Bronislaw Pawlowski,...


In mid-June the Austrians besieged Sandomierz, prompting Poniatowski to try to relieve the fortress. However, Polish efforts failed, undermined by the uncooperative Russians. Suvorov’s advance guard commander Karl Sievers seemed to have misunderstood the Russian intentions when he assured Poniatowski of the “honor” of serving under the Polish commander and being the first of the Russian generals to come to the aid of their ally. [40][40] The advance guard included two jager battalions, four... But a letter from Suvorov soon explained to Sievers what the Russians were supposed to do: 1. To take no orders from Poniatowski without Suvorov’s confirmation; 2. To attempt no offensive maneuvers; 3. To coordinate actions with the Poles but only if the Austrians attacked; 4. Not to build any bridges on the San; 5. Not to assist the Poles in building any bridges because, as Suvorov put, “building bridges is the same as attacking.” [41][41] Suvorov to Golitsyn, Sievers to Poniatowski, Suvorov... It is therefore not surprising that Poniatowski’s efforts to have Suvorov’s division move across the San River produced no results. As the Polish participant described, “A bridge was thrown over the river at Radomysl, but when it was time to march, Sievers found various pretexts to delay the operation. It was “Monday”, which he alleged was an inauspicious day and one on which the Russians abstained from combat. The following day he found he had lost his Cross of St. George, which he took as an ill omen.” [42][42] Soltyk,, Relation des Opérations,pp. 282-283. Infuriated by what he considered a treacherous act, Poniatowski fell back while the Austrians captured the fortress. In his letter to Napoleon, Poniatowski complained to him about “delays that, according to all reports, [the Russians] seek to put on any active cooperation, as well as by shortening their marches, by lengthening their rest periods, and at the same time giving one division a line of march that was entirely unnatural to what should be expected of it.” [43][43] Cited in Soltyk, Relation des Opérations, p. 278. Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii,... “Can the junction of the Russians with the Polish army be marked only with a reversal and by the loss of a conquest which the Poles knew how to make and guard by themselves,” bemoaned Napoleon. [44][44] Champagny to Caulaincourt, 10 July, 1809, Vandal, Napoleon... Such sentiments naturally had only intensified mistrust and apprehension, and the Russian court historian Alexander Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii acknowledged that “aloofness was clearly visible in relations between officers of both corps and it soon developed into open hostility.” However, he was convinced (and it reflected the official Imperial position) that the source of acrimony (and Poniatowski’s complaints to Napoleon) lay not in Russian behavior but rather in “the aspiration of Poniatowski and his accomplices to plant in Napoleon’s heart the seeds of suspicion against Emperor Alexander, to spread quarrel among the allies, and cause a rupture – this was, in Polish opinion, the only means of restoring Poland. Prince Poniatowski sacrificed the truth to accomplish his mission: for him, success was more important than integrity.” [45][45] Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii,...


But Russo-Austrian friendliness did not prevent some “accidents” from happening: on 14 June, a Russian advance guard clashed with Austrian troops near Ulanow in a combat of “mistaken identity”, which in the end was limited to patrols from both sides and resulted in negligible losses. [46][46] For details see Journal of Military Operations of the... In fact, the Austrians, hoping to reassure Russians of their goodwill, released the few Russian prisoners and used this opportunity to establish closer contact with the Russian command. Archduke Ferdinand personally wrote letters to Golitsyn and Suvorov offering to resolve the current “misunderstanding” and restore goodwill relations that existed prior to war. [47][47] For detailed discussion see Gustav Just, Politik oder... The presumed belligerents, in fact, shared some operational intelligence and Russian officers openly expressed their loathing for the task they had to perform. The most egregious example of this was the “Gorchakov Affair.” On the eve of the invasion, Lieutenant General Andrei Gorchakov II, who commanded the 18th Division, received a courteous letter from Archduke Ferdinand, who, in thinly veiled terms, expressed hope of Russian neutrality in the war. Gorchakov responded with an assurance, “I would have preferred to see our armies unite on the battle field, and eagerly wait for the moment when I would join Your Excellency with the troops I have the honor to command.” [48][48] Archduke Ferdinand to Golitsyn, Golitsyn to Archduke... Gorchakov’s letter, however, was intercepted by the Polish troops, who sent the original to Napoleon and a copy to Alexander, causing a political scandal.


Both emperors were naturally infuriated: Napoleon saw it as an evidence of the Russian duplicity while Alexander realized how damaging this letter could be to the Russian efforts to woo the French. “The emperor’s heart is wounded,” the French ambassador to Russia Armand de Caulaincourt was informed by the French foreign minister. “This is the reason why he does not write to Emperor Alexander; he cannot show to him a confidence he no longer feels. He says nothing, he does not complain; he keeps to himself the displeasure he feels but he no longer appreciates the Russian alliance.” [49][49] Champagny to Caulaincourt, 2 June, 1809, in Vandal,... On his part, Alexander demanded immediate investigation of the “Gorchakov Affair” owing to “the grave nature of the accusation and in an effort to deflect false talk that it would produce.” [50][50] Alexander to Golitsyn, 29 May, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,... Asked for an explanation, Gorchakov argued that since the Russian army was not on Austrian territory yet, he considered Austria as “the Allied Power of My Sovereign” and his letter was nothing but an attempt “to show respect and love for all allies of His Imperial Majesty.” [51][51] Gorchakov to Golitsyn, 3 June, 1809, in Zhurnal imperatorskogo... Gorchakov’s explanation, however, was not accepted since communications with the enemy, which Austria had become since attacking Russia’s ally in early April, was strictly prohibited. Therefore, Gorchakov was removed from command, arrested and sent to the court martial in Vilna, where he was found guilty and dismissed from military service. [52][52] Alexander to Golitsyn, 20 July, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,... But this affair left bad impression on Alexander who was concerned about anti-French sentiments spreading in the officer corps. In July, he penned a long letter reprimanding Golitsyn. “Your intentions and actions have stirred up strong suspicions in Poniatowski,” the Emperor complained. “He is convinced that you are only pretending to support him when in reality you are actively assisting the Austrian government. He suspects secret intentions, even orders, guided in your actions…” Alexander was displeased that “despite [our] efforts, such suspicions, instead of declining, have increased and intensified.” He acknowledged that “the behavior of some of our generals does indeed provide enough evidence to make such conclusions” and urged Golitsyn to “use every opportunity to extinguish the existing suspicions and to prove otherwise by action… and above all, to maintain strict supervision over individual commanders and ensure they do not, by word, action, ploys or adulation, breach our joint efforts.” Alexander also seems to have made up his mind about utilizing Austrian resources. “Upon occupying Austrian locations, you must not allow Austrian authorities to remain in place… but rather appoint reliable residents of Galicia or [if necessary] our own officials. This policy is desired also in order to attract this region to us… There is no need nor benefit in leaving local revenues at the Austrian disposal. The spoils belong to the victors and, therefore, all revenues must be collected and used for military needs.” [53][53] Alexander to Golitsyn, 20 July, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,...


The Polish issue was of paramount important to the Russian government, especially in light of events in Galicia. Relations between Polish and Russian forces quickly became strained over the control of the Galician lands. Poniatowski insisted on replacing Austrian administration with Polish authorities and complained about Russian indolence that allowed the Austrians to continue conducting operations. He was particularly upset by Golitsyn’s decision to abolish Polish authorities in the regions occupied by Russian troops, accusing him of pro-Austrian sympathies. The Russians, on the other hand, disparaged the Poles for inciting unrest and spreading nationalistic propaganda. “They already considered [Galicia] as their new conquest, their own property, and, through their speeches and appeals, were instilling a hope among the local residents in an eventual restoration of Poland,” commented a contemporary. [54][54] Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii,... Golitsyn was quite displeased with Poniatowski’s declaration that he was “authorized by the Emperor of the French to occupy both Galicia, accept residents’ oath of allegiance, conduct justice and punishment in [Napoleon’s] name and replace Austrian symbols with the French eagles.” The Russian general informed Poniatowski that that he considered “all locations occupied by the Russian troops to be belonging to the Russian Emperor” and demanded Poniatowski to withdraw his military forces from these territories and put an end to the recruitment of local residents. [55][55] Golitsyn to Alexander, 5 July, 23 August, 1809, Vneshnaia... An odd situation, thus, developed: Russians and Austrians, officially at war with each other, essentially tussled with the same enemy, the Poles, who were the official allies of the Russians. By late June, Archduke Ferdinand’s representative, Major Fiquelmont, received Golitsyn’s assurances that the Russians would not go beyond the Vistula to the west or the San River in the south. Thus a definite secret agreement was reached between the Russians and the Austrians by which the Russians forces would stop at the agreed demarcation line, freeing the Austrians to re-occupy Lemberg. [56][56] Fedor von Demelitsch, Metternich und seine auswärtige...


The disagreements between Golitsyn and Poniatowski continued throughout next months and were to intensify following Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Wagram (5–6 July) when Archduke Ferdinand, unable to defend his positions in Galicia, had to abandon Krakow. [57][57] Golitsyn to Alexander, Golitsyn to Poniatowski, 12-16... Covering some 40 miles in 18 hours, the Russian advance guard under Colonel Stackelberg rushed to the town, occupying it on 15 July. [58][58] For Polish view of the events see Poniatowski’s letter... Later the same day, the Poles approached Krakow, the venerated city where the Polish kings were buried, and forced their way into the city, creating an impasse which could easily have erupted into open warfare had the commanders of both armies not agreed to divide the city into two zones and occupy it jointly. Just days later, Golitsyn complained, “the insolence of the Warsaw troops exceeds all boundaries…. Mutual hatred reigns not only among officers but the rank-and-file as well… I cannot describe all the humiliation that our troops suffer from the [Poles].” [59][59] Golitsyn to Alexander, 17 July, 1809, in Bogdanovich,... But the Russians returned the favor in kind. General Adjutant Gagarin told Alexander that, in Krakow, he observed “our officials engaged in a behavior that was contrary to the spirit of reciprocity and acquiescence, making numerous cavils in petty and unworthy affairs.” [60][60] Arakcheyev to Golitsyn, 15 August, 1809, RGVIA, f.... The Russians were particularly incensed by the Polish decision to hang a stage curtain in the Krakow theater, featuring a rising sun illuminating a coffin from which a Polish king was rising while the inscription outlined the borders of the former Polish kingdom. When Poniatowski began to identify himself as the “commander-in-chief of the Polish army,” Golitsyn bluntly responded to him, “I do not recognize either Poland, which has long outlived itself, nor the Polish army or troops. I only acknowledge the Duchy of Warsaw which was established by the Treaty of Tilsit, which, however, makes no mention of Poland.” [61][61] Golitsyn to Poniatowski, 2 August, 1809, in Bogdanovich,... Just a week later, Golitsyn urged Alexander “to take immediate measures to put an end to the insolent behavior of the Warsaw troops and prevent the grave consequences that it could produce.” [62][62] Golitsyn to Alexander, 7 August, 1809, Vneshnaia politika...


Meanwhile, the Russian crossing of the San River and advance to the Wisloka raised great alarm among the Austrians. Emperor Francis was concerned that Russia sought “to take possession of the greater part of Galicia without any effort whatsoever.” [63][63] Franz to Ferdinand, 23 June, 1809, in Pawlowski, Historja... Austrian apprehension certainly would have been even greater if they had been privy to the memorandum that Golitsyn submitted to Alexander on June 16. As the Russian army advanced, a group of Polish magnates approached the Russian commander-in-chief in secrecy with an offer of immediate allegiance if Alexander would consent to restore Poland and place the country under his rule. [64][64] Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, pp. 332-334 “There is not a single Pole who does not dream about the restoration of his fatherland, which is quite natural since who would not desire that the land where he was born should be under a single authority that was recognized by your ancestors,” wrote Golitsyn. He described the political unrest that spread in Polish lands and thought that the solution “to the problem of the restoration of equilibrium in the [Polish] minds lay in finding them a king, but not from their own ranks, since that man could be subservient to some stronger powers. Rather [the Polish crown] should be given to a sovereign who, through his reputation and influence, possesses the means to make this [Polish] kingdom well esteemed throughout Europe.” For Golitsyn, the answer was of course obvious (i.e., Russian rule) but just to “double check” his premonition, he sought to sound the general opinion of the people residing in this region. His “polling” showed that “every reasonable Pole longs for the moment when Alexander, Emperor of All of Russia, is proclaimed as their king.” So Golitsyn spoke at length about the Poles’ “unanimous desire” to place themselves under the Russian control and envisioned a future kingdom that “would comprise of all the lands belonging to former Poland…” [65][65] Golitsyn to Alexander, 16 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika... On June 27, Golitsyn received Alexander’ response to his memorandum. Written by Rumyantsev and classified as “top secret,” the Imperial letter provided a lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of annexing Polish lands. Alexander rejected the idea, noting that such an act would violate agreements sanctioning the three Polish partitions and comparing the relations between Russia and Poland to those of Britain and Ireland, where “popular unrest presents immediate advantages to the enemies of England in any conflicts and where the British government continues to struggle with administration despite many centuries that have passed since England’s annexation of this land.” Furthermore, Alexander expressed his suspicion that what the Poles were really after was the restoration of their lost provinces, and if Russia annexed the new Polish lands, there was no guarantee that the Poles would not rally around the national cause and detach themselves completely from Russia. [66][66] Rumyantsev to Golitsyn, 27 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika...


The issue of Poland was of profound concern to Russia ever since Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw. Emperor Alexander was very anxious over Polish behavior in Galicia and wanted “to be reassured at all costs” that Poland would not be restored. “The world is not large enough for us to settle the affairs of Poland if the question of the Polish restoration is raised,” he threatened. [67][67] Caulaincourt to Napoleon, 3 August, 1809, in Vandal,... Rumyantsev handed a note to Caulaincourt in which the Russian fears of a re-established Poland were clearly expressed and demanded an explanation as well as an assurance that it would not happen. Rumyantsev complained that “the forces of the Duchy of Warsaw playing a duplicitous role in Galicia. They acted not just as troops of the Saxon army, but also called themselves the Poles; they published proclamations in the name of their fatherland; they spoke about the restoration of Poland; they recruited soldiers even [outside the Duchy of Warsaw], appealing to them with patriotic petitions. Some subjects of [the Russian] emperor, who have peacefully lived under his authority since the complete destruction of the polish kingdom, were enticed by such appeals… the coat of arms of the former Polish states has appeared once against on the borders of the [Russian] empire. Is this done so that everyone can see whose territory it is? […] The idea of the restoration of the Polish kingdom is on the mind of the people residing in the Duchy of Warsaw. This is not a secret intention, but rather an openly professed hope.” [68][68] Rumyantsev to Caulauincourt, 27 July, 1809, in Vneshnaia... The Polish question continued to dominate Franco-Russian relations throughout next two years.


The Polish question, however, was not the only factor in shaping Russian behavior in 1809 and in the final analysis, three more factors can be highlighted.


First factor was that of preservation of the balance of power. In 1808-1809, the Russian emperor sought to prevent hostilities in Europe and, unable to do it, he now desired a quick ending of the war that would have preserved Austria as a potential counterbalance to France. Thus, on June 20, Alexander approved Rumyantsev’s lengthy memorandum to Baron Bethmann, who represented Russian interests in the Confederation of the Rhine. The letter revealed that Alexander did not want to see either Austrians or French scoring a decisive victory. A major victory “would have given [Austrians] all the reasons to become overconfident and would have only postponed the conclusion of peace… Europe would have again found itself in political turmoil, and fresh and protracted efforts would have been needed to restore order everywhere.” Yet, the Russian emperor was also glad that Napoleon did not score a decisive victory at Aspern-Essling. “His power would have increased infinitely without having any effect on England’s might. He would have forced Austria to accept all of his conditions but how would Europe have benefited from this?” Instead, Alexander hoped that France and Austria would realize how detrimental their war was to both them and settle their difference through negotiations. Still convinced that Britain stood behind Austria, the Russian emperor was concerned that the Austrian emperor was captive to the “illusion” of British support. “Where does he hope to find funds to continue this expensive war if England denies him subsidies? With what forces does he intend to pursue his futile plan of reigning in France if England denies him assistance?” The Russian government wanted to see if the Viennese court “was ready to acknowledge that the restoration of peace might be worth some sacrifices by Austria instead of gambling on continuing a war that may end up in the complete destruction of the monarchy that holds such a glorious place in the annals of European history.” [69][69] Rumyantsev to Bethmann, 20 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika... On 16 August, as Napoleon and Francis began negotiating peace, Alexander commented that the intercepted French letters revealed “certain irritation” at Russia’s behavior at the French court. “But this is not important since in current circumstances I prefer this irritation to what could have been if we had actively assisted [Napoleon] in the destruction of Austria. Emperor Napoleon mentioned in one of his conversations, ‘I conducted negotiations with Austria only because she still retains her army. If she had lost it, I would not have talked to her at all.’ Therefore, we should be thrilled that we did not contribute to the destruction of the Austrian army.” [70][70] Alexander to Rumyantsev, 16 August, 1809, Vneshnaia...


Second factor was Alexander’s desire to remain in alliance with Napoleon and use it to further his interest. For this purpose, his army had to make an honest effort to support the ally. Upon hearing about discord between Russian and Polish forces in Galicia, Alexander wrote a lengthy letter to Golitsyn, reprimanding him for his failure to properly support Poniatowski. “We are waging an open war against Austria,” he declared, “and the goal of the army that is entrusted to you is quite clear: it consists of acting against Austria, and acting not just through maneuvering but through the force of arms as well. Any other explanation of your mission is false…” [71][71] Alexander to Golitsyn, 20 July, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,... Alexander wanted to project the image of a faithful ally and needed Golitsyn to conduct more rigorous maneuvers. Thus, Imperial instructions to Golitsyn continued to demand swifter actions throughout July and August. On 14 August, as Austria embarked on negotiations following its defeat at Wagram, Alexander already considered what Golitsyn should do in case these talks failed. While accepting the old general’s explanations about Russian behavior in Galicia, Alexander also wanted Golitsyn “to know that immense efforts are made to incite suspicions [about Russia] and it is of paramount importance to counter them by appropriate behavior.” Therefore, in case of a new rupture between France and Austria, the Russian general was “to act decisively against Austria.” [72][72] Alexander to Golitsyn, 14 August, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,...


This brings us to the third factor. As we have seen, imperial instructions created conflicting goals and accomplishing them required a capable and subtle leadership that could carefully pursue the “golden mean:” engaging Austrians while not thrashing them, and supporting Napoleon while not empowering him. Sadly for Alexander, his commander-in-chief was not up to the task. It is not just the matter of military skills. Golitsyn was personally against the war and preferred avoiding confrontation with the Austrians, noting that “my [Polish] allies alarm me more than the enemy.” In his letter to Field Marshal Prozorovsky, Golitsyn wrote that he was content to wage “a unique war” that entailed “the enemy not defending his positions and withdrawing every time the Russian army approaches.” [73][73] Golitsyn to Prozorovsky, 23 June, 1809, Istoria SSSR,... When Caulaincourt complained to Alexander about Golitsyn’s inactivity, the Russian emperor could offer only a weak excuse that the Russian commander-in-chief was an old man unaccustomed to a modern warfare. “He is still fighting in the manner of Seven Year’s War. Let’s not hurry him, or he would commit too many mistakes.” [74][74] Vigel, II, p. 104. However, the Russian society viewed Golitsyn differently. Many contemporaries applauded Golitsyn’s actions since, as one Russian commented, “everybody was as proud of Austrian victories as if there were our own, and everyone was enraged by [the Austrian defeat at] Wagram.” The French ambassador was struck by “the state of agitation that spread in the Russian society. I have never seen it anything like it. In the salons, the Tsar is no less spared than France, and the malcontents speak openly about dethroning him and entrusting the destiny of the empire to firmer hands.” [75][75] Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, pp. 112-113 In such circumstances, Golitsyn well understood that “inactivity was the best way to justify himself to his compatriots.” [76][76] Zapiski F. Vigela, III, p. 58. He shared Field Marshal Prozorovsky’s belief that indirect support for Austria was in Russian interests. [77][77] Prozorovsky commanded the Russian army in the Danubian... Prozorovsky condemned the Franco-Russian alliance, which made Russia subservient to Napoleon, and predicted that France would soon restore Poland, which would be the first step in the eventual decline of Russia. “Whoever might rule Russia in the future,” Prozorovsky concluded, “we, the noblemen, would manage to preserve our property. But the Holstein house [Romanov dynasty] [if it continues its current policy] would lose everything it has.” So instead of contributing to the defeat of his former ally, Prozorvsky believed, the Russian emperor should join it and fight Napoleon “to the last man”. [78][78] Prozorovsky to Golitsyn, 4 August, 1809, in Russkii...


Well aware of popular opinion, Golitsyn excused his actions on the basis of instructions that he had received. On 1 August, he penned a long explanatory letter to Alexander, pointing to the initial Imperial orders that required him to use “all means” to avoid assisting the Poles and to conduct operations only if they could “bring important advantages” to Russia. He explained that following the initial movements, he “began to carry out [Alexander’s] instructions on the need to strengthen [Russian] presence in Galicia” and took advantage of the Austrian withdrawals to take control of considerable territory all the way to the Danube River. “It is not my fault that there were no major battles with the Austrians - it is rather unnatural for somebody to force someone to fight if that person is constantly retreating… How is it my fault that the Austrians are more afraid of the Russians than of the [Polish] troops…” But Golitsyn also acknowledged that he “was not particularly motivated to seek a battle with the Austrians, thinking that if I occupy territory without bloodshed and preserve the army entrusted to me, His Imperial Majesty would be pleased with my deeds.” He accused the Poles of jealousy, fabricating evidence and “inventing incredible incidents” in their efforts to malign Russia. He admitted that there was a “mutual hatred [between the Russians and Poles] … rooted in the disdain that the Russians feel towards the army comprised of the Poles” whose “hollow arrogance and thoughts on the restoration of the Polish kingdom only further inflame this enmity on daily basis.” Golitsyn concluded his letter by proclaiming that “warriors know nothing about politics, they do not require explanations on causes that pushed their Sovereign towards war. [His Majesty’s] declaration ‘Here are my enemies’ is all we need to turn our swords against them, whoever they might be.” [79][79] Golitsyn to Alexander, 1 August, 1809, RGVIA, f.VUA,...


Golitsyn’s letter, however, failed to calm down Alexander, who was increasingly concerned about potential fallout of the Galician campaign. In mid-August, Golitsyn wrote another explanatory letter and this time asked to be recalled from the army if his actions continued to be distrusted. Alexander replied that he could not accept Golitsyn’s suggestion since it was too late for that. “All consequences will be placed on my shoulders, not yours. Anyone familiar with the strict rules of military subordination would find it hard to believe that your actions were not guided from above.” [80][80] Alexander to Golitsyn, 26 August, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA,...



Assistant Professor of European History, Louisiana State University (Shreveport), USA.


Article X of the “Convention d’Alliance” signed at Erfurt on 12 October 1808, in Fedor de Martens, Recueil des Traités et Conventions conclus par la Russie avec les Puissances Étrangères, (St. Petersburg, 1905), XIV, p. 72. Online version can be seen at <> (accessed on 16 February 2011).


Rumyantsev to Alexander, 24 January, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, IV, pp. 465-466.


Kurakin to Alexander I, 30 January, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, IV, pp. 468-469.


Metternich to Stadion, 9 February, 1809, Prince Metternich, Memoirs, (New York, 1880), II, pp. 325.


Rumyantsev to Alexander, 11 February, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, IV, pp. 468-469.


Alexander to Napoleon, 27 January, 1809, in Sergei Tatishev, Alexandre 1er et Napoléon: d’après leur correspondence inédite, 1801-1812 (Paris, 1891), pp. 468-469.


Arakcheyev to Prozorovskii, 12 January, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, IV, pp. 461.


Vospominania russkogo diplomata A.P. Buteneva, Russkii Arkhiv, 1881, No. 3, pp. 58-59.


Vel. Kn. Nikolay Mikhailovich, Diplomaticheskie snoshenia Rossiis i Frantsii, I, pp. 27-28.


Frederick William III to Alexander, Alexander to Frederick William III, 2-19 May, in Paul Bailleu, Correspondance inédite du roi Frédéric-Guillaume III et de la reine Louise avec l’empereur Alexandre Ier d’après les originaux des archives de Berlin et de Saint Petersbourg, (Leipzig, 1900), pp. 184-191.


Vneshnaia politika Rossii, p. 66.


Pisma A. Bulgakova k ego bratu iz Peterburga v Venu 1808-1809, Russkii Arkhiv, 1899, No. 9, p. 82.


Zapiski F. Vigela, (Moscow, 1892) III, p. 67.


Schwarzenberg to Princess Schwarzenberg, 21 March, 1809, in Karl Philipp zu Schwarzenberg, Briefe des Feldmarschalls Fursten Schwarzenberg an seine Frau 1799-1816 (Vienna, 1913), pp. 165-167.


Kazimierz Waliszewski, La Russie il y a cent ans: Le regne d’Alexandre 1er (Paris, 1923), I, p. 283; Schwarzenberg to Stadion, 2 March, 1809, in Tatishev, Alexandre 1er et Napoléon, p. 465.


Nikolay Dubrovin, Russkaya zhizn v nachale XIX veka, Russkaya starina, 1898, No. 12, p. 508.


Fogel to Balashov, 10 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, p. 69.


For good overview of Schwarzenberg’s mission see Llewellyn D. Cook, “Prince Schwarzenberg’s Mission to St. Petersburg, 1809,” Selected Papers of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, 1750-1850, ed. Kyle Eidahl and Donald D. Horward (Tallahassee FL: Florida State University, 1998), pp. 399-410.


Alexander to Rumyantsev, 14 February, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, IV, pp. 493-495.


Alexander to Rumyantsev, 14 February, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, IV, p. 494.


Schwarzenberg to Franz, 21 April, 1809, in Gustav Just, Politik oder Strategie? Kritische Studien über den Warschauer Feldzug Österreichs und die Haltung Russlands 1809 (Vienna, 1909), pp. 69–70.


Albert Vandal, Napoléon et Alexandre 1er : l’alliance russe sous le 1er Empire, (Paris, 1894-1897), 3 vols, II, p. 72.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 21 April, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 3-4.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 18 May, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 7-10; Journal of Military Operations of the Russian Army in Galicia in 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3365,, l. 1-1b; Modest Bogdanovich, Istoriya tsarstvovaniya imperatora Aleksandra I i Rossii v ego vremya (St. Petersburg, 1869), II, p. 440. The Russian army consisted of four infantry divisions (7th, 9th, 10th and 18th Division, totaling 34 battalions, 44 squadrons and 102 guns) while two cavalry divisions and additional infantry were kept in the reserve. The Russian army carried ten-days worth of rations, with instructions to live off the land - “according to the military rules of requisition“ - after they were exhausted. The soldiers were paid a double salary. Cavalry divisions included Her Majesty’s Leib-Cuirassiers, Ekaterinoslavskii and Ordenskii (Military Order) Cuirassier Regiments, Rizhskii, Kazaknskii, Kievskii and Pskovskii Dragoon Regiments, Polish, Lithuanian and Tatar Uhlan Regiments, Elizavetgradskii Hussars and 40 cannon. The 7th Division, however, did not move into Galicia until late July and was initially deployed on the border with the task of defending Russian territory. In late summer, the 25th Division was moved from Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod to the imperial borders and some of its troops did cross the Galician frontier. Alexander to Golitsyn, 21 April, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 3-4; Alexander to Golitsyn, 4 June, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 17-18; Journal of Military Operations of the Russian Army in Galicia in 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3365, l. 1b-2.


Among these documents one is interesting since it shows Emperor Alexander’s efforts to introduce a more merit-based system of promotion. “During military operation, when everyone is eager for exploits [deyaniya otlichnye], I have now decided to take it as a rule to promote [officers] in ranks despite their seniority. Similar rule has been successfully implemented in other states and contributed to the development of unordinary talents and stimulation of military spirit. Under this rule, I have already promoted General Prince Bagration, Barclay de Tolly and Count Shuvalov in the Army of Finland, and the same rule will be now applied to all armies during military operations. I desire you to instill and establish this rule in the minds of your subordinates, who should not consider such promotions as not contrary to [traditional] service but as a general encouragement and certain aspiration to reward them for their accomplishments.” Alexander to Golitsyn, 15 May, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 5-6.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 18 May, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 11-13b.


Rumyantsev to Golitsyn, 18 May, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, 44-45; Golitsyn to Alexander, 1 August 1809, RGVIA, f.VUA, d. 3361, l.21b.


Champagny to Caulaincourt, 2 June, 1809, in Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, p. 94.


Alexandetr to Golitsyn, 29 May 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 14-14b; Golitsyn to Alexander, 1 August, 1809, RGVIA, f.VUA, d. 3361, l.22.


Journal of Military Operations of the Russian Army in Galicia in 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3365, l.3b-4. ; Alexander Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii v 1809 godu, Russian State Military Historical Archive (RGVIA), f. VUA, d. 3360, l.91-91b. Each Russian division carried several hundred copies of proclamation that were spread among the local population. The proclamation stated: “The Austrian war with France cannot be a point of indifference to Russia, who is intimately tied by treaties with the Emperor of the French. Russia attempted to prevent this war, but when its representations and counsels were produced no effect, Russia broke off relations with Austria. As he enters Galicia, the Russian commander-in-chief solemnly announces to its residents that Russia is not their enemy and that their personal safety and inviolability of their property will be strictly ensured.” The proclamation was disseminated on 6 June and printed in No. 49 Sankt-Peterburgskie vedomosti on 30 June, 1809.


Golitsyn to Alexander, 6 June 1809, in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.94-94b.


Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.95b-96.


Poniatowski to Golitzyn, 30 May, 1809, in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.96b-97.


Golitsyn dispatched the 10th Division to Pulavy to observe the Austrians on the left bank of the Vistula River. The 18th Division was stationed as reserves in Lublin, where Golitsyn set up his headquarters. Golitsyn to Alexander, 2 June, 1809, in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.98-98b; Golitsyn to Alexander, 1 August, 1809, RGVIA, f.VUA, d. 3361, l.22b. Also see Journal of Military Operations of the Russian Army in Galicia in 1809 (RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3365, l.4-5) and documents on Russian movements in RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3364, l. 1-2.


Roman Soltyk, Relation des Opérations de l’Armée aux orders du Prince Joseph Poniatowski (Paris, 1841), pp. 233-234.


Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.99-100.


Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.100b; Bogdanovich, Istoriya tsarstvovaniya imperatora Aleksandra, 441.


Cited in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.98b.


Ferdinand to Franz, 6 June, 1809, in Bronislaw Pawlowski, Historja Wojny Polsko–Austrajackiej 1809 Roku, (Warsaw, 1935), pp. 362–3.


The advance guard included two jager battalions, four hussar squadrons, a pioneer company, 400 cossacks and 10 horse artillery cannon.


Suvorov to Golitsyn, Sievers to Poniatowski, Suvorov to Sievers, 9-10 June, 1809, in Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.104-106. On the margin of his manuscript, Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii also added, “[Sievers] traveled to meet Prince Poniatowski, who joyfully greeted him and showed his camp. The Poles [lyakhi] gazed in wonder at the Russian general.”


Soltyk,, Relation des Opérations,pp. 282-283.


Cited in Soltyk, Relation des Opérations, p. 278. Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, who also cites Poniatowski’s letter, explained that Suvorov’s division had indeed advance from Uscilug to Lubomle by a rather circuitous route but this was caused because Suvorov received Golitsyn’s new orders on march to Garwolin. Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.119b.


Champagny to Caulaincourt, 10 July, 1809, Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, pp. 103-104.


Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.118, 120b-121.


For details see Journal of Military Operations of the Russian Army in Galicia in 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3365, l.7b-8b; Golitsyn to Alexander, 1 August, 1809, RGVIA, f.VUA, d. 3361, l.23; Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.118, 123b-124b. The Russians lost one killed, three wounded and captured.


For detailed discussion see Gustav Just, Politik oder Strategie?, pp. 79-82.


Archduke Ferdinand to Golitsyn, Golitsyn to Archduke Ferdinand, 30 April-4 May, 1809, in Bogdanovich, Istoria tsarstvovania imperatora Aleksandra I, II, p. 64;


Champagny to Caulaincourt, 2 June, 1809, in Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, p. 95.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 29 May, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 15-16b. Documents related to the Gorchakov’s court martial were also printed in Zhurnal imperatorskogo Russkago Voenno-Istoricheskogo Obshestva, 2 (1911): pp. 1-10.


Gorchakov to Golitsyn, 3 June, 1809, in Zhurnal imperatorskogo Russkago Voenno-Istoricheskogo Obshestva, 2 (1911): p. 3.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 20 July, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 27-27b; Arakcheyev to Golitsyn, 17 June 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d.3371, l. 9b-10b; Transcript of the Court Martial (28 September) in Zhurnal imperatorskogo Russkago Voenno-Istoricheskogo Obshestva, 2 (1911) pp. 4-10; Golenishchev-Kutuzov to Golitsyn (1 September, 1809), RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3368.38-38b.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 20 July, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 22-26.


Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, Opisanie voiny protiv Avstrii, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3360, l.118-118b.


Golitsyn to Alexander, 5 July, 23 August, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, pp. 89-90. Golitsyn’s letter included his correspondence with Poniatowski.


Fedor von Demelitsch, Metternich und seine auswärtige politik (Stuttgart, 1898), pp. 19-21.


Golitsyn to Alexander, Golitsyn to Poniatowski, 12-16 July, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, pp. 96-97, 99-100.


For Polish view of the events see Poniatowski’s letter to Napoleon in Soltyk, Relation des Opérations, pp. 319-320. Russian sources deny that Austrians intentionally surrendered the city to the Russians and point to two killed and several wounded Russian soldiers as evidence that the Russians took the city by force. See Bogdanovich, Istoria tsarstvovania imperatora Aleksandra I, II, p. 449.


Golitsyn to Alexander, 17 July, 1809, in Bogdanovich, Istoria tsarstvovania imperatora Aleksandra I, II, pp. 447-448. Golitsyn’s letter to Suvorov spoke of “tavern crowds [traktirnye skopisha] that incited meaningless quibbles” Golitsyn to Suvorov, 22 August, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3375, l.6-7b.


Arakcheyev to Golitsyn, 15 August, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3371, l. 18-18b.


Golitsyn to Poniatowski, 2 August, 1809, in Bogdanovich, Istoria tsarstvovania., p. 450.


Golitsyn to Alexander, 7 August, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, p. 122.


Franz to Ferdinand, 23 June, 1809, in Pawlowski, Historja Wojny Polsko–Austrajackiej 1809 Roku, p. 444.


Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, pp. 332-334.


Golitsyn to Alexander, 16 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, pp. 76-77.


Rumyantsev to Golitsyn, 27 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, pp. 85-86. French version, albeit a short one, is in Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II pp. 547-548.


Caulaincourt to Napoleon, 3 August, 1809, in Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, pp. 112-113.


Rumyantsev to Caulauincourt, 27 July, 1809, in Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, pp. 116-117.


Rumyantsev to Bethmann, 20 June, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, pp. 78-79.


Alexander to Rumyantsev, 16 August, 1809, Vneshnaia politika Rossii, V, pp. 130-131.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 20 July, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l.25b.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 14 August, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l.28-29b.


Golitsyn to Prozorovsky, 23 June, 1809, Istoria SSSR, p. 77. Russian officer Ivan Zhirkevich remembered that every time the Russians and Austrian encountered each other, negotiations were held, followed by Austrian withdrawal. Zhirkevich, Zapiski, Russkaya Starina, 1874, No. 2, p. 243.


Vigel, II, p. 104.


Vandal, Napoleon et Alexandre 1er, II, pp. 112-113.


Zapiski F. Vigela, III, p. 58.


Prozorovsky commanded the Russian army in the Danubian Principalities.


Prozorovsky to Golitsyn, 4 August, 1809, in Russkii arkhiv 2 (1876) pp. 157-159.


Golitsyn to Alexander, 1 August, 1809, RGVIA, f.VUA, d. 3361, l.22.


Alexander to Golitsyn, 26 August, 1809, RGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3369, l. 30-31.



Though often overlooked in histories of the 1809 war, the political manœuvrings and the military operations in Austrian Galicia played an important role in the conceptualization, conduct, and outcome of the war. The operations in Galicia affected the Habsburg political–military calculus against Napoleon and had important repercussions for the future in Franco-Russian and Austro-Russian relations. This article examines the intricacies of the Russian involvement in the Galician affairs, a topic that has been long ignored, based on Russian archival material. It focuses on the interplay of military action and diplomacy between France, Austria and Russia as all sides tried to pursue their own interests while avoiding direct combat.


Souvent peu étudiées dans les histoires de la guerre de 1809, les manœuvres politiques et les opérations militaires en Galicie autrichienne jouèrent pourtant un rôle important dans la conceptualisation, la conduite et les conséquences de la campagne. Les opérations en Galicie affectèrent les calculs politico-militaires des Habsbourg contre Napoléon et eurent des répercussions importantes par la suite dans les relations franco-russes et austro-russes. Cet article examine les complexités de l’implication russe dans les affaires galiciennes, un aspect longtemps ignoré, en s’appuyant sur des archives russes. Il met en lumière l’interaction des opérations militaires et de la diplomatie entre la France, l’Autriche et la Russie, comme chacune des parties tente de défendre ses intérêts propres en évitant l’affrontement direct.

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