1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Skobelev, Mikhail Dimitriévich

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 25
Skobelev, Mikhail Dimitriévich
22325951911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 25 — Skobelev, Mikhail Dimitriévich

SKOBELEV, MIKHAIL DIMITRIBVICH (1843-1882), Russian general, was born near Moscow on the 29th of September 1843. After graduating as a staff officer at St Petersburg he was sent to Turkestan in 1868 and, with the exception of an interval of two years, during which he was on the staff of the grand duke Michael in the Caucasus, remained in Central Asia until 1877. He commanded the advanced guard of General Lomakine's column from Kinderly Bay, in the Caspian, to join General Verefkin, from Orenburg, in the expedition to Khiva in 1874, and, after great suffering on the desert march, took a prominent part in the capture of the Khivan capital. Dressed as a Turkoman, he intrepidly explored in a hostile country the route from Khiva to Igdy, and also the old bed of the Oxus. In 1875 he was given an important command in the expedition against Khokahd under General Kaufmann, showing great capacity in the action of Makram, where he out-man ceuvred a greatly superior force and captured 58 guns, and in a brilliant night attack in the retreat from Andijan, when he routed a large force with a handful of cavalry. He was promoted to be major-general, decorated with the order of St George, and appointed the first governor of Fergana. In the Turkish War of 1877 he seized the bridge over the Sereth at Barborchi in April, and in June crossed the Danube with the 8th corps. He commanded the Caucasian Cossack Brigade in the attack of the Green Hills at the second battle of Plevna. He captured Lovtcha on the 3rd of September, and distinguished himself again in the desperate fighting on the Green Hills in the third battle of Plevna. Promoted to be a lieutenant-general, and given the command of the 16th Division, he took part in the investment of Plevna and also in the fight of the 9th of December, when Osman Pasha surrendered, with his army. In January 1878 he crossed the Balkans in a severe snowstorm, defeating the Turks at Senova, near Schipka, and capturing 36,000 men and 90 guns. Dressed with care in white uniform and mounted on a white horse, and always in the thickest of the fray, he was known and adored by his soldiers as the “White General.” He returned to Turkestan after the war, and in 1880 and 1881 further distinguished himself in retrieving the disasters inflicted by the Tekke Turkomans, captured Geok-Tepe, and, after much slaughter, reduced the Akhal-Teke country to submission. He was advancing on Askabad and Kalat i-Nadiri when he was disavowed and recalled. He was given the command at Minsk. In the last years of his short life he engaged actively in politics, and made speeches in Paris and in Moscow in the beginning of 1882 in favour of a militant Panslavism, predicting a desperate strife between Teuton and Slav. He was at once recalled to St Petersburg. He was staying at a Moscow hotel, on his way from Minsk to his estate close by, when he died suddenly of heart disease on the 7th of July 1882.