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A Preliminary Survey of the Sources

LT. Col. John F. Sloan



AP0 NEW YORK 09053

15 March 1971


This research project represents fulfillment of a student requirement for successful completion of Phase III Training of the Department of the Army Foreign Area Specialty Program (Russian) Only unclassified sources are used in producing the research paper.
The opinions, value judgments and conclusions expressed are those of the author and in no way reflect official policy of the United States Government, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army or the U. S. Army Russian Institute.
Interested readers are invited to send their comments and critique to the Commandant, U. S. Army Russian Institute.




This research report was written as part of the program of instruction at the U.S. Army Institute for Advanced Russian and East European Studies Garmisch, Germany. The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not purport to be the views of this Institute, the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or any other agency.


This paper reports on the progress to date in preparing a military history of Russia, gives an organizational framework for studying that military history, and provides an annotated bibliography of the works consulted to date. It is planned to prepare the history in three sections; pre 1450, 1450—1815, and 1815—1917. The emphasis of this report is on the central period.

The introduction answers the questions, why study the military history of Russia, what are the sources available for such a study how might one organize the information obtained for such a study.

The bibliography contains a description and evaluation of all the source materials obtained to date and a list of other sources still being sought. Study of these sources indicates that there is much of value to be learned from the study of the military history of Russia. In the past Western military histories have ignored Russia or described campaigns of Western armies in Russia from only the Western side. There is a rich literature on military history in Russian; but the most easily obtainable books, those of Soviet writers, with few exceptions are unreliable on any subject involving comparison of Russia's military accomplishments with those of Western nations. Consequently, the Soviet sources must be used with great care, always keeping in mind the question: Why might the author want to write what he does? A thorough knowledge of Western military history and careful comparison of a number of sources will help the researcher to eliminate the erroneous information.


This is not a research paper in the usual sense of the term, but rather a progress report on research being conducted toward a more ambitious goal, the writing of a military history of Russia. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Commandant of the U.S. Army Institute for the Advanced Study of the Soviet Union for providing me the opportunity to do this research as a part of the program of study at the Institute.

This project has been undertaken because there is no military history of Russia written by a Western historian, and there is not even an English translation of the works of the Russian authors on this subject. Consequently, the first, and to date most significant step has been to assemble and evaluate the available sources These have been listed in a two past bibliography. The first part contains the sources that have been examined to date. It is hoped that the reader will find the comments made about these sources useful to his understanding of the subject. These remarks include many of the findings which will be included in the body of a completed monograph.

The second part of the bibliography contains a list of published sources which have been unavailable so far, but which have appeared in other works as references of sufficient importance to indicate that they should be consulted by a researcher on this subject. Those works known to be of considerable importance are noted by an asterisk.
I hope that this list also will be a use to the reader by giving him an idea of the richness of the published material and a place to start his own research.

That this part of the work has proceeded so well and that I have obtained most of the sources listed here is due to the gracious and unstinting help of the staff of the Library of the Institute, Mrs. Iwanna Rebet, Mrs. Olga Sladkovic and Mrs. Fatima Kunta. I wish to thank them very much for this invaluable help.
The work of analysis of this material is only just begun. In fact, it will not be possible to feel sure in making judgements on many important issues until more primary source materials are obtained. Therefore the paper is limited to a general discussion of the topics, the problems they raise, and a general framework within which to organize the study of the military history of Russia.
Although the final objective is to write a military history of Russia from Kievan times to 1917, for the present it is necessary to limit the topic to the period 1450—1815. The dates chosen are arbitrary, as any division of history must be, yet they are not chosen without reason. It was during this period that the Russian state achieved its centralized form, that Moscow became the capital, and that its military forces underwent a series of changes which transformed them from a medieval to a modern type structure. Many interesting changes occurred in the Russian armed forces in the Kievan and appanage periods and also during the 19th century, but these will have to be deferred to future research.



Why would one study the military history of Russia? The answers to this question are on several levels of generalization. Proceeding from the more concrete to the more general let us mention first the more practical and narrowly military reasons. A number of military applications both direct and secondary could be made from the study of Russia's long and varied military history. The direct applications are the lessons we could learn from our own study of the events; and the secondary application is the knowledge we could gain about Soviet military science by studying what they think they have learned from studying their own military history.

On the tactical level, the role of the various arms singly and in combination, the use of firepower, mobility and shock—action, the problems of supply and administration; in short all the multitude of things which lead to the success or failure of military operations have been employed or ignored in the course of Russian history, often in situations differing from those in the West. At present the lessons to be learned from these successes and failures have not been investigated by western students.

On the strategic level, the possible lessons are even greater and more numerous. Russia is the last of the world's great Empires. The study of the role the military played and plays in this growth and preservation will yield many insights into successful strategy. Some of the more obvious Russian strategies which have been employed with success in the past include the following: Foment dissension in the opposing camp by supporting one or more groups in the other country, by accusing the opposing leaders of “warmongering” and failing to look out for the interests of their own people, and by championing peace. Make use of the military forces of your allies, or even better those of an enemy, to defeat your opponent. Do not support an ally if in doing so you may make him too strong. Do not let an enemy grow too weak unless you and not your ally are the one who will gain the benefit. Use propaganda and incessant repetition of your claims on the principle that familiarity with uncongenial subjects eventually breed a readiness to take them for granted. Subject the population of the territories you plan to conquer to terror and violence so they will be eager to accept you as ruler in order to stop the terror. Be flexible in your approach, accept compromises as the basis from which to formulate new demands, use peace talks and truces as a time for regrouping and preparing the next offensive. Avoid war on two fronts if at all possible. Be patient, don't ask your enemy to give everything at once.

All these techniques were employed with some success by Ivan III, and were ignored by his successors only to their own sorrow. The military history of Russia thus is as full of choice examples for the student of strategy as is that of Imperial Rome!
It is at the level of strategy that the study of the effect that studying its own heritage has had on the Russian officer corps would pay the greatest dividends. The campaigns and leaders used as examples in Soviet staff schools are different from those looked to in the West as models for behavior. The Soviet officer's reaction in individual situations and his entire outlook on world problems is shaped by the education he has had. And this education includes the study of experiences not necessarily shared by Western officers.
Of particular interest is the Russian experience with partisan warfare; as waged by Cossack, Tatar and peasant rebel. This form of warfare has found its exponents in every century and under a wide variety of conditions. Some of the contemporary observers were already noting the essential elements necessary for success on the part of the rebels of the government. The Soviet literature on this subject should reveal their present views and doctrines. 2

On the general history level, an understanding of military affairs, war, and the requirements for war can lead to a better understanding of . the history of Russia and of Russia today. If the history of Western European countries has been one of a struggle for survival and supremacy, in the history of Russia, the struggle has been particularly incessant, fierce and perhaps determinative.
Indeed, the two central characteristics of Russian history over the centuries have been:

One, the constant warfare with neighbors on all sides, lack of natural geographic defenses and boundaries, alternating periods of victorious expansion and contraction in defeat.

Two, to a significant degree, the relationship of the government to population has conformed to the conception that the state is everything and the individual nothing ; or to put it a different way, that the state exists by force and is a tool for the exploitation of the masses by a favored elite. The population has shown itself to be submissive in the face of overwhelming power and ready to rise in violent and bloody revolt at the first sign of weakness or indecisiveness in the ruler.3'

The role of war in shaping the social structure, the political institutions, the individual and social consciousness of the people, and the economy of Russia can be seen in many ways. The demand for unity, the creation of state service as a norm, and the subordination of the individual are but three of the more obvious examples. The psychology of the people includes such manifestations as the sense of being surrounded by enemies, the national inferiority complex, and the absence of a cult of warlike chivalry.4
If we consider Russia's military history since 1450 we can observe the cyclical way in which Russia has lagged behind the West, then overtaken it, then lagged again. The periods of relative military weakness were caused to some extent by internal stagnation, but mostly by rapid advances made in the West. Russia, like some other countries, has been on a perpetual treadmill of “catch and overtake” the West.5 An understanding of the prevailing military power situation is vital to an understanding of the various “reform” periods is Russian History. In each case military disaster was the “force of necessity” which triggered an internal upheaval and created the social, political, and military institutions capable of raising Russia back to its feet.6'

On the level of sociological and political theory, Russia provides a wealth of examples in support of various theories about the role war has played in the course of human history. The mutual interactions between warfare and the other activities of man can be found where ever we look. These interactions have been studied and much discussed in Western literature, largely on the basis of Western European history. While most authors who seek to establish general theories make an effort to include Chinese, Russian, African and other examples; still, the lack of accessible sources and the language problems often prevent them from giving an even treatment to all civilizations. 7
The detailed study of the military history of Russia with the objective of examining it to see if these interrelationships existed, and if they did, to use them as a tool for further explanation of the various events and phenomena in Russian history would be a rewarding task.


The primary sources for the military history of Russia include three types of materials; the Chronicles and other contemporary Russian accounts; the governmental and private archives, and the reports of Western eyewitnesses. The Chronicles are the most important source of information on the early history of Russia, and even for the period as late as the 1590's they are a good source of information on the military campaigns and the commanders. There are published editions of all the Chronicles one could need. The principle Russian collection in the Polnoe Sobranie Russkoe Letopis, which was published in a lengthy series of volumes in the 1880's and 1900's. Beside the Chronicles, this collection contains other medieval documents of use to the military history researcher. Some of the important Chronicles have been translated into English and published in recent years.8~

Another valuable contemporary source is the Razryad book, which has numerous different editions. The Razryad Prikaz was the main office directing military operations from the time of Ivan IV to the end of the 1600's. The books were important documents to the nobility because they contained the names of unit commanders necessary for the proper determination of “mestnichestvo”. There have been several editions of the Razryad Book published, the most recent and best for our use is edited by B. I. Buganov. 9

Two more important documentary sources are the “Tisyachnaya Kniga” (the thousand book) and the “Court Notebook” of Ivan IV. These books are lists of the men who were prominent supporters of Ivan IV. The first book contains the names of those who were to receive land near Moscow in the reform of 1550, and the second is a list of men who had been members of his court over the previous few years.10'

Turning to the military archives, one finds a more complex situation. There are a number of archives one must investigate, as the material is divided in location according to time and governmental institution from which it originated. The four most important archives for military history prior to 1917 are as follows:
The Central State Archive for Ancient Acts (TGADA) contains all the documents that remain from the governmental institutions of Russia from the beginning of the 14th century to the 18th century, except for matters relating to foreign affairs, which are in the archives of the Foreign Ministry. The governmental organs were called Prikazi. Each was established independently to meet a new need or desire of the Tsar. Military affairs were conducted by many different prikazi so the corresponding archives contain material of use to the historian. The Moscow fire of 1626 destroyed most of the documents then in the archives so the great majority of materials now available are from the last three quarters of the 17th century. Nor were all the documents written during this period preserved. A brief summary of the present contents follows.

The Razryad Prikaz archives are the best preserved in terms of coverage. There are 9,461 items dating from 1545 to 1713. The largest collection of documents is from the Pomestie Prikaz, 33,500 items from the 16th to the 17th centuries. The other military Prikazi were hardly preserved at all. There is a small collection of 46 items dating from 1626 to 1689 in the Foreign Prikaz. The Pushkazi Prikaz is represented by 6 items from 1658 to 1698, mostly located in the artillery museum in Leningrad. The Velikirussia and Ukraine administrations have l8 items from 1688 to 1699. The Streltsi, and Oruzhia Prikazi are represented by items in the Razryad or Siberian Prikazi or the Oruzhie Palata. The regional Prjkazi have more items. The Siberian Prikaz has 7,000 items from 1594 to 1768. Those dating from before the Siberian Prikaz was founded in 1637 were transferred from the Kazan or the Posal Prikaz. The Little Russian Prikaz has 5,000 items from 1522; those from before 1622 were from the Posol or Razryad Prikazi. The Smolensk Prikaz has 1,336 items from 1650 to 1719. The Kazan Prikaz has preserved only 18 items from 1626 to 1705. There is a large collection of military documents in the Posol Prikaz archive, some original and some from other Prikazi. One section on ancient affairs alone has 20,769 items from 1505 to 1706 and another has 17,701 items from 1229 to 1807.
The central archive also has many items from the 13th century, the era before the Prikazi were formed. These include 397 manuscripts dated from 1265 on. There are 15,000 items pertaining to economic affairs. The Manuscript division of the library of the Moscow archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs contains still more documents.
The Central State Historical Archive in Moscow (TSGIkM) contains materials pertaining to the third section of the Tsars' personal staff, the secret police. It also is the repository for documents from the departmental police, gendarmarie, city police and prisons.
The Central State Historical Archive in Leningrad (TSGIAL) is the largest state archive in the USSR. It contains documents of the highest organs of the state government such as the courts, procurator, state council, duma, committee of ministers, senate, and the other ministries except the war, ministry.
The Central State Military—Historical Archive (TSGUIA) has four million individual items in 15,000 collections. Most of the material relates to pre-revolutionary times. The main source was the central administration of the army from the beginning of the 18th century to 1918. There are also documents pertaining to separate units and forts, as well as the military schools.
The Central State Archive of the Navy (TSGAUMF) has all materials on naval affairs from both before and after 1918.
The Central State Archive of the Soviet Army (TSGASA) houses all materials on the Soviet Army up to 1940.
The Archive of the Ministry of Defense maintains materials on the Soviet Army since 1940. 12

Along with the Archives, the published volumes of archive materials should be mentioned. During the 19th Century a great many documents were published by the historical societies and the archives themselves. During and after World War II the Soviet military archives published an excellent and quite massive series of documents pertaining to the greatest Russian heros, such as Kutuzov and Suvorov, or the greatest moments in Russian military history, such as the Battle of Borodino. All the published collections of documents which I have found are listed in the Bibliography.

The reports of Western travelers in Russia range from those of Henry Staden, a German member of the oprichnina, and Giles Fletcher, an English merchant at the court of Ivan IV, to those of Patrick Gordon and Peter Bruce, officers in the army of Peter I; General Christopher von Manstein, an officer in the army of the Empress Anna; and Sir Robert Wilson, an English liaison officer on the staff of Field Marshal Kutuzov. Many traveler's accounts suffer from several shortcomings. The authors often were not as familiar with Russia as they pretended to be. They may not have known the language, and they often were purposely isolated from contact with Russians. Of course the individuals who spent long years working with Russians did not have this problem. But they often reflect the second shortcoming, a personal anti—Russian bias, due to having suffered real or imagined wrongs while in the Russian service. In addition, some of the writers had personal reasons in their homeland for what they wrote. And some merely wanted to impress their readers with remarkable tales. The accounts from earlier periods reflect the nearly universal propensity of medieval writers to exaggerate numbers. One cannot believe a report that the Russian army had 400,000 men in the 16th century, for instance.l3
There has been an extensive program lately of reprinting these early accounts. A great many, therefore, are now readily available. Unfortunately, a great many others, which should provide valuable information are not so easily obtained, as a look at the bibliographical list of sources not yet obtained will clearly show. The secondary sources on the military history of Russia fall into four categories; Russian military histories, Russian general histories, foreign military histories, and foreign general histories. Taking the last two categories first, we note that it is the lack of Western military histories of Russia which prompts the present writer to prepare this manuscript.
Not only are there no general works on the military history of Russia by Western writers, there are only a few works on specific military topics; such as The Army of Nicholas l by John Curtiss, Caucasian Battlefields by W. E. D. Allen and Paul Muratoff, and The Art of Victory by Philip Longworth. Each of these is a different type of military history and each is outstanding in its own way. 14 But these three stand practically alone as examples of military historical writing about Russia. Even more disappointing is the way Russia is either ignored or disparaged in the works of general military history written in the West.15

Fortunately, there is no lack of general histories of Russia, written by Western historians. The best of these (not counting textbooks) such as the works of Vernadsky, Grey, and Florinsky, give military affairs its proper place in the overall scheme of things, but being general histories with limited space they lack many details . They are valuable sources of information.

Of general histories of Russia, written by Russians, I have used only two, the works of Soloviev and Kluchevski; not counting monographs on non—military subjects. The histories of Tatishev and Karamzin are too difficult to use in the short time available, and I did not believe the history by Pokrovsky would add much information not found in the other sources. Kluchevski's history is better for his conclusions and generalizations, and Soloviev's history is better for the wealth of facts.

Finally, we come to what must of necessity be the most important published source of information on the military history of Russia, the works of Russian military historians. And unfortunately we immediately find we are faced with difficulties, perhaps the most serious of all the shortcomings. We simply do not know for sure, without extensive cross—checking, if what we read is true or not.
This is particularly true of the Soviet writers, but not only of them. During the 19th century there was a great amount of military history written by Russian authors. But the philosophical conflict between the Slavophiles and Westerners quickly spread among the military historians. A sort of Slavophile doctrine of strategy and tactics developed, based on the insistence that there was a specifically Russian school of warfare. This “school” emphasized the great tradition of Suvorov. 16

For this paper, the philosophical biases of the 19th century historians have been mostly an academic question, so far, due to the unavailability of most of their works. But the biases of Soviet writers is all to apparent and real.
The majority of Soviet military authors evidence two biases. First is the Marxist approach to history. This actually presents no problem to a reader prepared to handle it. It results in two basic premises being predominate; one, that there are economic factors underlying everything; and two, that ?class interests” dictate the decisions of the historical actors.

The first premise shows up typically in a judgement such as, the social—economic conditions in Russia in 1610 were not capable of supporting the development of a Western style army, only in the 18th century during the reign of Peter I was the country prepared for the introduction of military reforms. While observing that such judgements are also self—proving, we may still agree that there are close interrelationships between military affairs and social and economic life. Indeed, showing this will be an aim of this work, so we are grateful for all the spadework in military—economics done by the Marxists.

The second basic premise leads to judgements such as, Ivan IV's Oprichnina was a class tool of the ruler and his dvoriani allies to destroy the feudal class. This kind of argument is less helpful and in fact covers the real complex motivation of individuals and groups with an easy generalization that sounds very enlightened to the well indoctrinated ear. Actually, the Oprichnina was designed to deal with certain specific families and individuals who opposed him, not in class interests, but on specific matters of military and political policy. A detailed study of the military problems facing Ivan IV and his solutions should help to bring this out.

The second bias exhibited by many Soviet military authors is Great Russian nationalism, not to say chauvinism. Paradoxically, this makes them quite akin to the Slavophiles, although Marxism is surely a Westerner doctrine. But there are complications that do not quite fit logic. Like the Slavophiles, the Soviet writers never cease extolling the greatness of Suvorov and his unique Russian theories. Yet the writers also praise Peter I, and in fact usually say that Suvorov was a disciple of Peter. The Slavophiles, however, well knew that Peter was responsible for wholesale importation of Westernization, in fact he was their chief villain)19 therefore, to say that Suvorov is a disciple of Peter and at the same time is a representative of Slavic superiority over Western Europe in something of a logical non—sequitur. 20

The way this problem is handled is simply by denying that there was any Western influence in the historical development of the Russian army, despite all the foreigners who served in Russia and all the foreign books that were brought into the country. Another way Soviet writers seek to prove “Russian superiority over the West is by claiming priority of invention of weapons and priority of employment of the most modern techniques.21 Without recourse to the original sources one cannot properly dispute the dates given for the first Russian development of a given device or tactic, but in most cases this is not necessary anyway. If we accept the Russian dates as correct and check the western sources we will find that the Russian claim to precedence is simply based on ignoring well known Western developments. The invention of breech loading firearms, multi-barreled cannon, the wheellock and the flintlock are examples of this.'
Russian superiority in tactics and military operations and training in often achieved by comparing the greatest Russian generals to the worst Western ones. Thus when we read the frequent denunciations of “linear tactics” as employed by Western generals and the superiority of Suvorov's “column tactics”, we never see mention of linear tactics as employed by a real master such as Frederick II. Nor do the Soviet writers feel called upon to note that the employment of column tactics, i.e. deep squares, against Tatar cavalry was well known standard practice long before Suvorov's time. On the other hand the fact that the streltzi deployed in a line is touted as an example of superior linear tactics. 22

Another technique is to ignore social and cultural differences or the simple facts of the historical situation. Thus, the Western nations are disparaged for their use of “mercenaries” in the 17th and l8th century while Russia's “national” army is claimed to be the most advanced due to superior recruiting techniques. There were perfectly good reasons why Prussia or England for example found it better to hire mercenaries than to conscript their populations, nor could they have hoped to match the enormous manpower resources of Russia in any case. It is interesting that when the context of the article is on Russia from an internal point of view and not a comparison with the West, the whole tone shifts and we find the Russian recruitment technique denounced for its inefficiency, inhumanity, etc, etc.23

Another favorite claim is that the Russians, and particularly Suvorov, are judged to be superior because they emphasized the use of the bayonet while the effeminate Westerners used musket fire. This remark ignores differences in social conditions which are not very flattering to the Russians. Furthermore, it is inaccurate, because it ignores the facts. The bayonet was a favorite weapon of Charles XII who no doubt taught Peter I all he cared to learn about bayonet charges. Marchal de Saxe extols the virtues of the bayonet in his “Reveries”, and Frederick II certainly insured that his grenadiers knew as much about the bayonet assault as about massed firepower.24

Implicit in all these claims for Russian innovations in the 18th century is the thought that since Napoleon used them and is considered something of a genius for having done so; if it can be shown that the Russians preceded him, they can share his glory. But war Is a product of the governing social, economic and political forces of a given era, as any good Marxist should know, therefore it does no good to assign normative judgements when comparing one era with another. Another example of this fallacy comes from the era of Ivan IV. The claim is made that Russian military science was leading Europe because in the Streltzi Russia created the first regular infantry armed entirely with firearms.25 The implicit idea is that since at that time Western armies had both arquebusiers and pikemen and since over the next 50 years the pikemen gradually disappeared from Western armies, the Russians were superior to not employ them in 1550. This simply ignores a host of differences in military conditions, not to mention the Janissaries.26

First, while it is true that the streltzi were armed exclusively with arquebus, sword, and berdisch, and not the pike, they were only a small segment of the army, and not even all of the infantry. The proportion of streltzi to the total army was less than the proportion of arquebusiers to the total in the Western armies. T0 say the streltzi were armed only with the arquebus is equivalent to saying the Western arquebusiers were armed only with the arquebus. 27

Second, the opponents facing the Russians and western European armies were quite different. Western infantry had to face the charge of heavy cavalry, something no unit of arquebusiers or streltzi could hope to do. Hence Western infantry included pikemen until such time that the bayonet was invented, converting every musketeer into his own pikeman. Russia’s opponents in the l550's were Tatar light cavalry archers, who rarely charged home against formed infantry. But the streltzi were not even called upon to stand against them unaided. Instead, of forming in the open, the streltzi employed the ingenious “walking fort”, a series of prefabricated panels with gun ports. These panels could be connected to form a moveable fort well suited for defense against light cavalry. Paradoxically, this truly unique Russian device is not emphasized by Soviet writers as much as some other more dubious things are. The streltzi were not employed in the open as much as in siege work, where their firepower was more useful than pikes would have been. Moreover the berdish itself was a very effective pole arm more suited to streltzi tactical conditions than a pike. Actually the Russians came rather late to the use of pikes.

Third, when the Russians began to face Western infantry they quickly learned the value of the pike and adopted it. They naturally armed separate units with the pike, preserving the streltzi as arquebusiers. If we accept the idea that having no pikes in 1550 made Russia a leader, we would have to say that the adoption of pikes in 1610 (and after 1710) was a regressive step. Of course the whole argument is nonsense. 28

When the new Russian army adopted pikes and the streltzi did not, they were in a way acting like the Janissaries, who also refused to add the pike to their armament, with very serious results for themselves.29

Sometimes this mania for “independent development” reaches pathological proportions. One can hardly understand in any other way such remarks as appear in a Soviet book on fortifications and engineer developments. 30 Western and pre-revolutionary Russian historians are “falsificators” for not noting the unique way Russian fortifications were developed in the 14th to 17th centuries. A few examples from the book will illustrate the problem. The author discusses the building of the new walls, of the Kremlin in 1491—93 and says that construction beginning with the erection of towers as defensive points was not yet known in the West.31 Yet anyone who looks at the Kremlin can see that the walls and towers faithfully reflect the style of the northern Italian architects who designed them and supervised their construction. The architects even had to teach the Russians how to make the bricks. When discussing the immense work of fortifying the southern border undertaken by Ivan IV, the author writes that recent Soviet archeological expeditions have shown that “it was built with great knowledge of military engineering, and most important without dependence on the West”.32 Why is that the most important characteristic of the defensive system? We would hate to think that the idea of a parapet and ditch or a palisade was the property of any one nation or time, but it should be mentioned that the Hapsburgs began a similar fortified line on their southern borders a few years earlier. Not to mention the extensive frontier fortified lines developed by the Romans.

Finally, the trouble this kind of effort at reconstructing a past and giving it a normative value can cause the author is illustrated in the attempt to prove that the Dutch did not invent or first use the pontoon devices as temporary bridges in the 1630's. To prove Russian priority, the author quotes from the “Ustav Ratnikh,, pushechnikh, i drugikh del” published in Moscow during the period 1607—1621. This work mentions the use of pontoons. But what the author does not know or say is that this work itself was a compendium of Dutch and other Western military science.33

From these examp1es it should be clear that the researcher must use caution in accepting the opinions of Russian authors, especially when there is a question of Russian national honor at stake.

A discussion of the sources to be used in writing military history would not be complete without a word about “the other side”. The necessity for a poly—cultural approach in historical study has been amply demonstrated and needs no further support. It is worth noting that this necessity is nowhere more clearly seen than in military history. Yet many accounts of battles and campaigns continue to be written from only one side of the firing line.34

In the Russian case the problem facing the student is particularly difficult. Not only must he must also gain access to Turkish, Swedish, and Polish sources, but few are available in English. For Sweden there are several excellent secondary accounts, in English, of Sweden's greatest generals, Gustavus Adolphus and Charles XII; but Russo-Swedish wars during other reigns present a problem. For Poland and Turkey one hardly knows where to turn. So far I have been unable to obtain any sources which would give the Polish point of view and I am not even sure the Turkish archives have been exploited by the Turks themselves. Yet one can hardly criticize accounts of the Seven Year's War or the Napoleonic Wars written without recourse to Russian sources, and then turn around and write accounts of the Russo—Turkish wars without considering the Turkish side. Perhaps the answer lies in a team effort. The outstanding success achieved by W. E. D. Allen and Paul Muratoff in writing Caucasian Battlefields is evidence of what such an approach can produce. In any event, readers of this preliminary report will find it obvious that there are gaps in the account of Russia's military history due to lack of information from the other side.



  1. The strategies employed by the greatest leaders of the two empires are strikingly similar. Several students of the strategy of imperial expansion, notably Machiavelli, have used the Roman examples as the basis for theoretical formulations, but no one has used the Russian experience in a similar way. If people understood the antiquity of present Soviet strategy they would be less surprised when reading the daily newspapers.

  2. If we can see that the Russian's historical experience shows him that the state is what Marx said it was, it may help us to understand why he accepts this theory. To a Russian reviewing his nation's history, two thoughts predominate in his conclusions:

A. If we are not conquering someone else, then someone else is probably conquering us. B. It is better to remain passive and united and let native rulers exploit us, than to be disunited in rebellion and have foreign rulers exploit us.

3. The national inferiority complex is manifested in the works of Soviet military historians in their shrill insistence on the superiority of Russian military science over that of Western Europe. It is quite interesting that a nation so much at war is nevertheless so unwarlike.

4. If we compare the Slavs to the Anglo—Saxons, Normans, Franks, and other northern European peoples we see that there is a striking lack of such Western manifestations as the tournament, chivalry, and plain fighting for the sake of fighting.

5. Stalin's famous speech in which he vowed that Russia would never be beaten again, and Khrushchev's exhortations on catching the West are recent examples of the desire to catch up that was also expressed by Ivan III, Ivan IV, and Peter I.

6. The specific reform periods were those of Ivan IV, Michael Romanov, Peter I, Alexander II and the Soviet Era.

7. The best book on war in society is Men in Arms by Richard Preston, Sydney Wise and Herman Werner. It has little to say about Russia. Professor Andrzejewski in Military Organization and Society makes some striking observations on Russia, but his remarks are limited to the briefest notes. Theodore Ropp in War in the Modern World hardly mentions Russia prior to the l9th century, and John Nef, whose Western Civilization Since the Renaissance is the best book available on the military -economic relationship, might want to revise some of his opinions if he would study the Russian experience.

8. The published editions of the Chronicles, known to me, are included in the bibliography. For a discussion of the Chronicles and other contemporary documents see Istoriografiya Istorii SSSR, edited by V. E. Illeritski.

9. The Razryad Books are available in the following editions: Drevneishaya Razryadnaya Kniga Ofitsial'noi Redaktsii, edited by Paul Milukov and published in the Chteniya v lmperatorskom 0bshehestve Istoril I Drevnostei Rossiskiky pre Moskovskom Universitete, or 1902 and Buganov, B. I. Razryadnaya Kniga 1475—1598. The reader should also use the same author's Razryadnie Knigi, which is a scholarly study of all the Razryad books and an explanation of the nature of each manuscript.

10. Veselevski, S. B. “The First Experience in Reorganizing the Central Power under Ivan Grozni”, Istoricheskie Zapiski. 15, 1945. Zimin, A. A. “K Istorii Voennikh Reform 5Okh Godov XVI veke”, in Istoricheskie Zapiski 55,1956.

11. Chernov, A. V. “Tsentral'nii Gosudarstvennii Arkhiv Drevnikh Aktov kak Istochnik po Voennoii Istorii Russkogo Gosudarstvo do XVIII veka”, in Trudi Istoriko—Arkhivnogo Instituta volume IV 1948. Dzhincharadze, V. Z. “Obzor Fonda Vorontsovikh, Khranyashchegosya v (TSGADA)”, in Istorichiskie Zapiski 32, 1950. This article includes a summary of part of the content of one file in this archive. The list of documents should give the reader an idea of the content of the archive and the problem of using it. See also; Lebedyanskaya A. “Arkhiv Pushkarskogo Prikaza” in Voprosii Istorii, no. 1, 1946.

12. Kurochkin, P. A. editor, Osnovi Metodiki Voenno—Nauchnogo Issledovaniya, Moscow, 1969. This book contains much valuable information on how to use these archives. Some of the other archives which have material of interest to military historians are as follows: Rukopisnoe Otdelinia Gosudarstvennoi Publichnoi Ordena Krasnogo Znameni Biblioteki Imena Saltikova-Shchedrina in Leningrad. The Leningrad department of the Central Historical Archive. The Archive of the Leningrad Dept. of the Institute of History of the Academy of Science of the UUUs. The State Public Library in Moscow.

13. I have attempted to assess the accounts so far available to me and provide a comment in the bibliography. The potentially best account, by Patrick Gordon, is not available except in a summarized version. The publication of a fully annotated edition of this diary would be a valuable service to researchers.

14. The Army of Nicholas I is a thorough study of an institution in a particular period of time; Caucasian battlefields is a study of a series of campaigns in a specific area, from both sides of the firing line; and The Art of Victory is a biography of Suvorov.

15. The lack of correct evaluation of the Russian side of military actions is apparent in the accounts of the Northern War, Seven Year's War and Napoleonic Wars. The correcting and improving of our understanding of these wars and other campaigns at present only told from the French, German or Swedish side would be another valuable reason for studying Russian military history.

16. See Peter von Walhde, Military Thought in Imperial Russia for a full discussion of Russian military traditions.

17. Bibikov, G. M. “The Experience of the Military Reform of 1609—10” in Istoricheskie Zapiski, 19, 1946.

18. The study of the military implications of the oprichnina will require a separate monograph.

19. One result of Great Russian Nationalism is the extraordinary justification of the worst excesses of the Tsars, as being progressive in the context of the “historical necessity” for the unification of Russia by Moscow.

20. The semi—deification of Suvorov is characteristic of every Soviet military history in the bibliography for this paper. One has to look far to find any acknowledgment of Suvorov's Swedish ancestry or to find that Charles XII was one of his early heros.

21. I have attempted to indicate in the bibliography which books are particularly full of this kind of boasting. After several references to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, I decided to drop it as a source because of the blatant propaganda. A psychologist should study the problem: Why should so many pages of works on military history be devoted to shrill denunciation of faisificators and to breast—beating about national preeminence? The simple statement of facts, if true, would be sufficient. The question arises because the subject of the books is merely the history of Russian military history, the context does not require a comment on what Western writers have said. Nor is it likely that the Russian readers of these books know what Western opinions are.

22. The denunciation of “linear tactics” ignores the fact that even to this day linear deployment plays a role in military tactics.

23. See Prudnikov, V. F. “K Voprosu Komplektovaniya Russkoi Armii 1794—96” in Vestnik Moscow University, Istoriya number 4, 1970; The author gives a very negative appraisal of the recruiting methods of the Russian army in the time of Suvorov.
The article on the military prikaz in Poltava K 250 Letiv Potavskogp_Srozheniya, edited by L. G. Beskrovnii, shows the terrible waste in Russian recruiting methods in the reign of Peter I. It is all very well for a Russian critic to disparage the Western use of mercenaries, but Germany, France and England did not have millions of serfs to squander in war. Prussia would not have achieved the largest per capita army in Europe by using the wasteful methods employed in Russia..

24 John Nef in Western Civilization Since the Renaissance, pages 251, 252 considers that Western soldiers were more reluctant to use the bayonet because of their higher cultural level. They did not enjoy using one of histories bloodiest weapons in close combat. The favor shown to the bayonet by Charles XII is well known.

25. The claim is repeated where ever streltzi are mentioned in the Soviet texts, but it finds its clearest expression in Professor A. V. Chernov's Vooruzhenia Sili Russkogo Gosudarstvo XV—XVII veka, Moscow, 1954; and his “Obrazovanie Streletskogo Voiski” in Istorisheskie Zapiski number 38, 1951.

26. It is possible that the Janissaries were the model for the streltzi. See the works by A. V. Chernov, and Zimin, A. A. - I. S. Peresvetov and His Contemporaries, Moscow, 1958. Peresvetov proposed to Ivan IV the reform of his army including the creation of a unit modeled on the Janissaries. As is so often the case when trying to evaluate the influence of an obscure writer on an important political figure, it is difficult to establish the casual connection, if any, between Peresvetovt’s suggestions and the actual decisions of the Tsar to make the reforms.

27. No one seems to bother to indicate what the Streltzi did with their berdishes, besides use them as a rest for the arquebus. The weapon is a sort of halberd. If the streltzi used them as halberds in hand-to-hand combat one could not claim that they were armed exclusively with firearms. They would by serving as their own pikemen, in effect.

28. This could be carried further by noting that Peter I found it necessary to reintroduce the pike, after it had already disappeared from his infantry. He replaced every third musket in the front rank with a pike. Apparently the Swedish cavalry and infantry, both of which favored attacks with cold steel, were too much for his men at close quarters.

29. The Janissary’s refusal to use the pike is considered to be an example of their backwardness and obstinance.

30. Pankov, D. V. editor, Iz Istorii Russkogo Voenno—Inzhenernogo Iskusstva, Moscow, 1952.

31. ibid. p.29.

32. ibid. p. 43.

33. ibid. p. 44. On the origins of the “Ustav” see Nazarov, B. D. “On the Dating of the Regulation for Infantry and Artillery Affairs” in Shunkov, editor, Voprosii Voennoi Istorii Rossii 18th- 19th Veke; and the unsigned article on the “Ustave” in the Voenno Istoricheskii Zhurnal no. 7, 1964 p. l24.-6.

34. It is not simply a matter of getting accurate information about the opposing army and its commander. Some times truly remarkable insights about conditions on one side are to be gained from a study made from the point of view of the other side.

The series of articles on Russo-Tatar relations which appeared in the Slavic Review for December 1967 gives a hint of what might still be learned about Russian policies themselves from a study of the Tatar documents and from an understanding of the guiding principles of Russian and Tatar alike.

Another example of the two-sided approach, (in this case three sided) is found in the case of Russian-Swedish-Polish relations. In Gustavus Adolphus Michail Roberts explains the Swedish and Polish actions during the Russian “Time of Troubles” in terms of their own interests in a way never brought out in histories of Russia. Moreover, his explanations of Russian motives also add to the picture given by historians of Russia.




Why study the military history of Russia?

What are the sources available, for this study?

A brief summary of the development of the Russian army to 18l5.

II. LATE MEDIEVAL RUSSIA - The Reigns of Vasilii II and Ivan III

A. Summary on the State of Military Science in West Europe in the 15th Century.

B. The Russian Army in the 15th Century.

  1. Composition
  2. Organization, Administration and Supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory

C. The Armies of Russia's neighbors

  1. Lithuania
  2. Mongols and Tatars

D. Summary of the Activities and Strategic Plans of Vasilii II and Ivan III

E. Chronology of Military Operations 1440—1505

F. The Influence of Military Affairs on Social, Economic, and Political Life and the Changes Resulting from each.

III. The 16th Century - The Reigns of Vasilii III, Ivan IV, Feodor, and Boris Godunov

A. Summary of the State of Military Science in Western Europe in the 16th Century

B. The Russian Army in the 16th Century

  1. Composition
  2. Organization Administration and Supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory

C. The Armies of Russia's Neighbors

  1. Poland
  2. Sweden
  3. Tatars
  4. Turks

D. Summnary of the Strategic Plans of Vasilii III, Ivan IV, Fedor, and Boris Godunov

E. Chronology of Military Operations 1505-1605

F. The Interrelationship of Military Development with Social, Economic, and Political Affairs and the Changes Occuring in Each

IV. The 17th Century - the Reigns of Dmitri, Vasilii Shuisky, Michael, Alexis, Fedor, and Sophie

A. Summary on the State of Military Science in Western Europe in the 17th Century

B. The Russian Army in the 17th Century

  1. Composition
  2. Organization, Administration and Supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory

C. The Armies of Russia's Neighbors

  1. Poland
  2. Sweden
  3. Ottoman Empire and the Tatars
  4. Siberian Neighbors
  5. Summary of the State of Military Science in Western Europe in the 17th Century

D. Summary of the Strategic Plans of the Tsars in the 17th Century

E. Chronology of Military Operations 1606—1689

F. The Interrelationship of Military Developments with Social, Economic and Political Affairs and the Changes Occuring In Each

V. The 18th Century - The Reigns of Peter I, Anna, Elizabeth, and Catherine II and Paul

A. Summary -State of Military Science in Western Europe in the 18th Century

B. The Russian Army in the Reign of Peter I

  1. Composition
  2. Organization, Administration and Supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics and Training
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory
  7. Strategic Plans of Peter I
  8. Chronology of Military Activities 1689 1729
  9. Social, Economic and Political Developments

C. The Russian Army in the Reigns of Ann and Elizabeth

  1. Composition
  2. Organization Administration and Supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics and Training
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory
  7. Strategic plans
  8. Chronology of Military Activities 1730-1761
  9. Economic Social and Political Developments

D. The Russian Army in the Reign of Catherine II

  1. Composition
  2. Organization, Administration and Supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics and Training
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory
  7. Strategic Plans
  8. Chronology of Military Activities 1762—1796
  9. Economic, Social and Political Developments

E. The Russian Army in the Reign of Paul

  1. Composition
  2. Organization, Administration and Supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics and Training
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory
  7. Strategic Plans
  8. Chronology of Miltary Activities 1796—1801
  9. Economic, social and Political Developments

The Russian Army in the Reign of Alexander I

  1. Composition
  2. Organization, Administration and supply
  3. Weapons
  4. Tactics and Training
  5. Fortifications
  6. Military Theory
  7. Strategic Plans
  8. Chronology of Military Activities 1801 1815
  9. Economic, Social and Political Developments

VI. - Conclusion

VII. - Glossary of Russian Military Terminology