Mikhail Barclay de Tolly
Scottish descent, Mikhail Barclay de Tolly began his years of service
for Russia as an army private and waited 14 years before becoming
rose through the commissioned ranks with success against the Poles,
Swedes and Turks and became a junior general in 1799.
de Tolly saw more fighting at Pultusk and Eylau,
and then turned his talents towards reforming the Russian army,
a project that picked up momentum when he became Minister of War
Napoleon Bonaparte sent his Grande
Armee into Russia, Barclay de
Tolly took over the First West Army and formulated his plan to retreat
without offering battle.
for his caution, Barclay de Tolly was soon at odds with the commander
of the Second West Army General
Bagration, who was all for meeting the French head on.
their discord threatening the entire army, Mikhail
Kutusov took over and Barclay de Tolly took charge of the right
wing at Borodino.
health forced him to retire from command, although his administrative
and political role continued for another year.
1813, he returned to the battlefield
leading the Russians at Bautzen,
then advanced with the army during the 1814 Campaign
for France and, upon Bonaparte's return from exile, again moved
de Tolly was one of the best commanders Russia could call upon and
his cold, determined and scientific approach probably saved his
army from early destruction at the hands of a full-strength Grande