Leonty Leontievich Bennigsen
( 1745 - 1826 )

Baron, Count (1813), General of Cavalry

Bennigsen came of a very old German noble family. He was born in Germany and began his military service in the army of Hannover and took part in the Seven Years War.

In 1773 he was accepted to the Russian service in the rank of premier-major. In two Russian-Turkish wars he showed himself as a brave, composed and enterprising cavalry officer. For his courage at the storm of the fortress of Ochakov he got the rank of brigadier.

In the Polish campaign of 1794 he commanded a detachment of light troops, distinguished many times and was promoted to the rank of major-general. (Field-Marshal Alexander Suvorov congratulated him with this promotion). Also for this campaign Bennigsen was decorated with the Order of St.George of 3rd class.

In the Persian campaign of 1796 Bennigsen was one of the leading commanders of the Russian army.

In 1797, when Paul became the Emperor, Bennigsen was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general, but a short time after he fell into disgrace and retired.

In 1801 Bennigsen was one of the leaders of the palace revolution as a result of that Paul I was murdered and young Alexander became the Russian Emperor.

In 1802 Benigsen was promoted to the rank of general of cavalry but at the same time he was sent to "the exile of honour" to the city of Vilno there he got a military-administrative post.

In the campaign of 1806 against France he was appointed the Corps commander. In the situation of confusion in the Russian General Staff Bennigsen he took the command of the whole Russian army by himself. For the successful battle of Pultusk he was decorated with the Order of St.George of 2nd class.
Russian troops under his command could help out againt Napoleon's army in the battle of Elou (Eylau).

The battle of Elou (Eylau). January, 26-27, 1807 (Gregorian calendar)

But the Russian army under his command suffered the utter defeat in the battle of Friedland.

The Battle of Friedland. June,2,1807 (Gregorian calendar)

One of the causes of this deteat was the very bad system of supply in the Russian army. Bennigsen as the Commander-in-Chief could not cope with this situation.
In 1808 he was out of service and came back to the army only in 1812.

In the beginning of the campaign of 1812 he was attached to the General Staff without any post. After Kutuzov's appointment to the post of Commander-in-Chief Bennigsen was appointed to act the duties of the Chief of Staff of the Russian united forces.
After the Borodino battle in the well-known military council in the village of Phili he insisted on giving the general battle near Moscow, but the main part of the Russian general did not support him.

After the Russian army left Moscow he distinguished in the the battle of Tarutino and was wounded in the leg by a cannon-ball.
In the end of this campaign Bennigsen was removed from the Headquarters because of this disagreement with Kutuzov.

In the campaign of 1813 he commanded the Polish army (the Russian army that was at first located in Poland) and participated in the battles of Lutzen, Bautzen and Leipzig. In 1814 he commanded the troops besieged Hamburg and was decorated with the Order of St.George of 1st class.

After the end of the war he was in the army till 1818, then he was dismissed and lived in Hannover for the rest of his life.

Historical Russian Translations