1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kutusov, Mikhail Larionovich

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KUTUSOV [Golenishchev-Kutuzov], MIKHAIL LARIONOVICH, Prince of Smolensk (1745–1813), Russian field marshal, was born on the 16th of September 1745 at St Petersburg, and entered the Russian army in 1759 or 1760. He saw active service in Poland, 1764–69, and against the Turks, 1770–74; lost an eye in action in the latter year; and after that travelled for some years in central and western Europe. In 1784 he became major-general, in 1787 governor-general of the Crimea; and under Suvorov, whose constant companion he became, he won considerable distinction in the Turkish War of 1788–91, at the taking of Ochakov, Odessa, Benda and Ismail, and the battles of Rimnik and Mashin. He was now (1791) a lieutenant-general, and successively occupied the positions of ambassador at Constantinople, governor-general of Finland, commandant of the corps of cadets at St Petersburg, ambassador at Berlin, and governor-general of St Petersburg. In 1805 he commanded the Russian corps which opposed Napoleon’s advance on Vienna (see Napoleonic Campaigns), and won the hard-fought action of Dürrenstein on the 18th–19th of November.

On the eve of Austerlitz (q.v.) he tried to prevent the Allied generals from fighting a battle, and when he was overruled took so little interest in the event that he fell asleep during the reading of the orders. He was, however, present at the battle itself, and was wounded. From 1806 to 1811 Kutusov was governor-general of Lithuania and Kiev, and in 1811, being then commander-in-chief in the war against the Turks, he was made a prince. Shortly after this he was called by the unanimous voice of the army and the people to command the army that was retreating before Napoleon’s advance. He gave battle at Borodino (q.v.), and was defeated, but not decisively, and after retreating to the south-west of Moscow, he forced Napoleon to begin the celebrated retreat. The old general’s cautious pursuit evoked much criticism, but at any rate he allowed only a remnant of the Grand Army to regain Prussian soil. He was now field marshal and prince of Smolensk—this title having been given him for a victory over part of the French army at that place in November 1812. Early in the following year he carried the war into Germany, took command of the allied Russians and Prussians, and prepared to raise all central Europe in arms against Napoleon’s domination, but before the opening of the campaign he fell ill and died on the 25th of March 1813 at Bunzlau. Memorials have been erected to him at that place and at St Petersburg.

Mikhailovsky-Danilevski’s life of Kutusov (St Petersburg, 1850) was translated into French by A. Fizelier (Paris, 1850).