My List of the Greatest Commanders in History

Jan 2015
5,574
Ontario, Canada
Likely because he was an ethnic Russian and so could be used as a symbol of the struggle of the Russian people in defence of the Russian homeland.
Yeah, Kutuzov was a senior general with lots of experience, who had just come off a successful campaign in Wallachia and had served under Suvorov just over a decade prior. He was also an ethnic Russian unlike the Baltic German Barclay or the Georgian Bagration. The troops refused to serve under a German, and Barclay probably didn't help this because most of his staff was German as well. Although personally I don't think Bagration would have done a very good job in command of all these forces. Barclay was pretty much the only other guy. Wittgenstein and Bennigsen were capable field officers but not in command of multiple forces. Kutuzov was always very cautious and hands off with his field commanders as well as suggestible to influence, I imagine that this was also a reason. At least for Tsar Aleksander, he would have wanted someone that could also be controlled. I think Kutuzov had a similar aura of grandeur as the Tsar's, at least within the army. So while this potentially might have caused a clash of personalities, I get the impression that Kutuzov was always very submissive. There was also Kutuzov's attitude of no surrender, fight it out to the end, withdraw in order to win if need be. This was probably what made Kutuzov appealing as a candidate.

Similar reasons for why Stalin promoted Zhukov instead of Rokossovsky. Rokossovsky of course being ethnically Polish and also having been purged early on, he might have resentment. But this just leads one to wonder why didn't Rokossovsky have resentment towards Stalin? If he did why didn't he defect like Vlasov had done? Also because Zhukov was more of a personality and therefore better propaganda than promoting the bookish Vasilevsky or the boorish peasant Konev.

We want Miloradovich! :)
This is a Napoleonic Wars inside joke?

My main issue with Kutuzov is that he showed up late to 1805 (well actually he was more or less on schedule, the French just didn't realize it) and then got defeated at Austerlitz. He wasn't in command or 1806 and 1807. He wasn't in the Finnish War, he didn't get sent to fight the Turks until the very end when the previous general died from illness, he wasn't there to fight the Persians either, he missed most of 1812, and then he died right before the first main engagement in 1813. Yet somehow Kutuzov has a massive reputation, which he doesn't really deserve because his objective of defending Moscow was a failure. The French would have withdrawn anyway... Except for a few attacks during the retreat phase, what did he even do?

I think Kutuzov was one of those myths much like how they built up Blucher or Wellington or Nelson. They needed a hero to be the center piece of the Great Patriotic War. Which explains why Kutuzov gets so much credit. Honestly it isn't like he was needed, Barclay would have done the same during the brief time that Kutuzov was actually in command, perhaps better.
 
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Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,392
Republika Srpska
Similar reasons for why Stalin promoted Zhukov instead of Rokossovsky. Rokossovsky of course being ethnically Polish and also having been purged early on, he might have resentment. But this just leads one to wonder why didn't Rokossovsky have resentment towards Stalin? If he did why didn't he defect like Vlasov had done?
Because Rokossovsky, like many others, believed that the purges were the work of Stalin's treacherous advisors and not Stalin himself.
 
Jan 2015
5,574
Ontario, Canada
Just to clarify though, it isn't so much about being overrated or not. All it was, is that they crafted a hero or protagonist to embody the entire conflict. Nelson was a good fit because he embodied British naval power and this was relevant in the Victorian Era, it probably still is relevant. Then they threw in Wellington to celebrate some victories in the continent as well, cause why not. For instance in Prussia they had Blucher who was in his 70's and going senile. There were tonnes of other Prussian generals as well but Blucher represented the martial discipline of the Prussian state and the intense German mindset of respect for seniority, Blucher was quite old after all.
 
Nov 2011
4,766
Ohio, USA
I've heard that Lieven primarily covers the Russian perspective, though I've not read the book.



I agree, however when looking at Kutuzov's artificial reputation of some form of a military genius and the greatest Russian general this victory doesn't come anywhere near that standard. I believe it was his greatest victory and that his maneouvre over the Danube was fairly well done, but not really that impressive when considering what he was fighting and far from some operational masterpiece of an alleged military genius.



Interesting view. I forgot about Chaplitz and Kutuzov's slip at Krasnyi. However I don't believe that the Russian army couldn't catch the French if they were faster and if not destroy the French army at least reduce it to almost nothing. The French suffered heavy casualties but were not destroyed and I believe that Kutuzov could've moved faster.



I agree, however my argument for Moravia is similar to the above about Kutuzov's campaign against the Turks. It was reasonably well done but nothing brilliant and I think below something like Archduke Charles' retreat from Italy.



Lord O already said it, Kutuzov was outmanoeuvred in Saxony but I don't know if any failure or success in that period can be assigned to him personally so this can be ignored altogether.




Agreed. However my problem with Kutuzov is that he's paraded as some brilliant commander that crushed Napoleon and saved Russia. I don't know why he has this reputation or why it's assigned to him specifically when there are other, more believable candidates for this image such as De Tolly. I see him as average at best with his high points being the retreat through Moravia and his actions against the Turks, which I have already said I don't find all that impressive. In everything else he was average at best and considerably below average at worst.
Yeah, I agree. He had some decent things to his name but nothing exceptionally brilliant or anything. During the French retreat phase in 1812, he really did miss the catch at Krasnyi in particular.
 
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Nov 2011
4,766
Ohio, USA
Yeah, Kutuzov was a senior general with lots of experience, who had just come off a successful campaign in Wallachia and had served under Suvorov just over a decade prior. He was also an ethnic Russian unlike the Baltic German Barclay or the Georgian Bagration. The troops refused to serve under a German, and Barclay probably didn't help this because most of his staff was German as well. Although personally I don't think Bagration would have done a very good job in command of all these forces. Barclay was pretty much the only other guy. Wittgenstein and Bennigsen were capable field officers but not in command of multiple forces. Kutuzov was always very cautious and hands off with his field commanders as well as suggestible to influence, I imagine that this was also a reason. At least for Tsar Aleksander, he would have wanted someone that could also be controlled. I think Kutuzov had a similar aura of grandeur as the Tsar's, at least within the army. So while this potentially might have caused a clash of personalities, I get the impression that Kutuzov was always very submissive. There was also Kutuzov's attitude of no surrender, fight it out to the end, withdraw in order to win if need be. This was probably what made Kutuzov appealing as a candidate.

Similar reasons for why Stalin promoted Zhukov instead of Rokossovsky. Rokossovsky of course being ethnically Polish and also having been purged early on, he might have resentment. But this just leads one to wonder why didn't Rokossovsky have resentment towards Stalin? If he did why didn't he defect like Vlasov had done? Also because Zhukov was more of a personality and therefore better propaganda than promoting the bookish Vasilevsky or the boorish peasant Konev.


This is a Napoleonic Wars inside joke?

My main issue with Kutuzov is that he showed up late to 1805 (well actually he was more or less on schedule, the French just didn't realize it) and then got defeated at Austerlitz. He wasn't in command or 1806 and 1807. He wasn't in the Finnish War, he didn't get sent to fight the Turks until the very end when the previous general died from illness, he wasn't there to fight the Persians either, he missed most of 1812, and then he died right before the first main engagement in 1813. Yet somehow Kutuzov has a massive reputation, which he doesn't really deserve because his objective of defending Moscow was a failure. The French would have withdrawn anyway... Except for a few attacks during the retreat phase, what did he even do?

I think Kutuzov was one of those myths much like how they built up Blucher or Wellington or Nelson. They needed a hero to be the center piece of the Great Patriotic War. Which explains why Kutuzov gets so much credit. Honestly it isn't like he was needed, Barclay would have done the same during the brief time that Kutuzov was actually in command, perhaps better.
Well, Barclay was Scottish, but pretty much the same difference anyways as far as the Russians were concerned.
 

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