- The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792–1815
While many thousands of volumes have been written detailing the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleonic eras, the Russian army has not been as thoroughly studied in the Western language scholarship. Alexander Mikaberidze seeks to help fill this void by presenting a much-needed reference work on the tsarist officer corps of the period. The book consists of two parts. First, the author provides an essay giving an overview of the officer corps. Here he paints a collective portrait of the corps from the time of Peter the Great through 1815. Using very effective tables and charts, the essay tracks officer origins, enlistment, promotions, literacy, and education. The economic and social dimensions, such as serf and estate ownership, noble status, and national composition, also receive due attention. Finally, the essay concludes with explanations of ranks and military orders. Out of this collective portrait, the author finds that by 1812, despite being overwhelmingly noble in social origins (86.5 percent), 77 percent of Russian officers owned neither property nor serfs, and almost all foreign officers held no assets within Russia and depended on their salaries to sustain themselves. The author also finds that by the 1812 campaign the tsarist officer corps had become dominated by Russian nobility (1,579 Russian nobles compared to [End Page 504] only 45 foreign nobles). The second part, which comprises the bulk of the volume, consists of over eight hundred biographies of junior and senior officers. Entries address all the generals, many colonels, and even some lieutenants. Beginning with Andrey Ivanovich Abakumov and concluding with Peter Yakolevich Zykov, each officer's origins, education, and military career are systematically detailed.
This work represents a significant scholarly contribution to the field of Napoleonic studies generally and Russian history specifically. Russian specialists and general Europeanists will benefit from the information that Mikaberidze has judiciously culled from the files of the Russian State Military Historical Archive. The entries, ranging from a single paragraph to several pages, are concisely written and highly informative. The author has put at our fingertips an easily accessible encyclopedia, and in the process has accomplished his mission of bringing the Russian army out of the shadows and into the light of mainstream western scholarship.