Pyotr Bagration

General Prince
Pyotr Bagration
George Dawe - Portrait of General Pyotr Bagration (1765-1812) - Google Art Project.jpg
Portrait of General Bagration by George Dawe
Nickname(s)"God of the Army"[1][2]
"The Eagle"[1]
Born(1765-07-10)10 July 1765
Kizlyar or Tbilisi, Kartli-Kakheti
Died24 September [O.S. 12 September] 1812
Sima, Russian Empire
BuriedBorodino Battlefield, Russia
Allegiance Russian Empire
Service/branchImperial Russian Army
Years of service1782–1812
RankImperial Russian Army 1904-a-p18r.png General of the Infantry
Commands held
  • Suvorov's vanguard during his Italian campaign
  • Suvorov's vanguard during his Swiss campaign
  • Lifeguard Jaeger Regiment
  • 6th Chasseurs, Imperial Guard
  • Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard
  • Russian rearguard at Hollabrunn
  • Coalition right wing at Austerlitz
  • Russian rearguard at Eylau
  • Russian Army during Russo-Turkish War
  • Moldavian Army
  • Second Western Army
  • Left wing of the Russian forces in Borodino

Russian-Circassian War
Russo-Turkish War (1787–92)

Kościuszko Uprising
Italian Campaign

  • Siege of Brescia

Swiss Campaign
Finnish War
Russo-Turkish War (1806–1812)

  • Battle of Rassowa
  • Battle of Tataritza
  • Battle of Dobruja
  • Siege of Silistria

Napoleonic Wars

AwardsIerus a7.jpg Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky Insignia.jpg Star of the Order of St Anna.jpg REO-GC breast star.JPG
Order of Saint Andrew.svg Order of St. George, 4th class.jpg Vladimir-star.jpg
Ord.MariaTeresa-COM.png Cavaliere di gran Croce Regno SSML BAR.svg Ord.Aquilanera.png St.AndrewOrder.png
Фрачный знак--.jpg Gold Sword for Bravery
Spouse(s)Catherine Bagration nee Skavronskaya
RelationsIvane (father)
Roman and Alexander (brothers)
SignatureBagration signature.svg

Pyotr Bagration[nb 1] (10 July 1765 – 24 September 1812) was a Russian general and prince of Georgian origin, prominent during the Napoleonic Wars.

Bagration was born in Kizlyar or Tbilisi to a family, part of the Bagrationi dynasty. His father was an officer in the Imperial Russian Army, which Bagration also enlisted in 1782. Bagration began his career serving in the Russo-Circassian War for a couple years. Afterwards he participated in a war against the Ottomans and the capture of Ochakov in 1788. Later he helped suppress the Kościuszko Uprising of 1794 in Poland and capture Warsaw. During the Italian and Swiss campaigns of 1799 against the French, he served with distinction under Alexander Suvorov.

In 1805, Russia joined the coalition against Napoleon. After the collapse of the Austrians at Ulm, Bagration won praise for his successful defense in the Battle of Schöngrabern that allowed Russian forces to withdraw and unite with the main Russian army of Mikhail Kutuzov. The combined Russo-Austrian army was defeated at the Battle of Austerlitz in December, where Bagration commanded the right wing against the French under Jean Lannes. Years later he commanded Russian troops in the Finnish War against Sweden and another war against the Turks in the Danube.

During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, Bagration commanded one of two large Russian armies, the other commanded by Barclay de Tolly, fighting a series of rear-guard actions. The Russians failed to stop the French advance at the Battle of Smolensk. Barclay had proposed a scorched earth retreat that was approved by Alexander I, although Bagration preferred to confront the French in a major battle. Mikhail Kutuzov succeeded Barclay as Commander-in-Chief and continued his policy until the Battle of Borodino near Moscow. Bagration commanded the left wing, later called the Bagration flèches, at Borodino, where he was mortally wounded and died a few weeks later. He was originally buried at a local church, but in 1839 was reburied on the battlefield of Borodino.


Pyotr was born in 1765 to a prince of the Mukhrani branch of the Bagrationi dynasty,[3] Colonel Prince Ivane Bagrationi, who was the eldest son of Prince Alexander, an illegitimate son of King Jesse of Kartli,[4] which is now central Georgia. He studied Russian and German[5] and was taught Persian, Turkish, Armenian, and Georgian by his father.[6] However, unlike many other Russian aristocrats, he did not know French.[7] Bagration personally identified himself as a "pure Russian" (chistoi russkoi).[8]

Pyotr joined the Imperial Russian Army in 1782,[9] enlisting as a sergeant in the Kavsansk Rifles of the Astrakhan Infantry Regiment. His younger brother Roman joined the Chuguevsk Cossack regiment as a uryadnik (a Cossack NCO) at the age of thirteen in 1791. Both would go on to become generals of the Imperial Russian Army.[10]

Bagration served for some years in the Russian-Circassian War. He participated in the Siege of Ochakov (1788).[9] In 1792 he was commissioned as a Captain and transferred to the Kiev Cavalry Regiment that year as a second Major, transferring as a full first Major to the Sofiiskii Carabineers on 15 May 1794. He served in the military campaign to suppress the Polish Kościuszko Uprising of 1794.

He received successive promotions to Lieutenant-Colonel (26 October 1794), to Colonel (1798) and to Major-General (1799).[10] His merits were recognized by Suvorov, whom he accompanied in the Italian and Swiss campaigns of 1799,[9] winning particular distinction by the capture of the town of Brescia.[1][9] From 1798 to 1799, he commanded the 6th Chasseurs; from 1801 to 1802, he commanded the Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard; then from 1802 to 1805, he served as GOC Jager Brigade.[clarification needed]

Catherine Pavlovna of Russia (left), a daughter of Emperor Paul I of Russia, was passionately in love with Prince Bagration. That worried the Russian royal family, and to avoid future relations between the two, the Emperor Paul forced Bagration to marry Princess Catherine Skavronskaya (right) in 1800.

He was the alleged lover of Emperor Paul's daughter Catherine. In 1800 Paul recognized the title of "Prince (Knyaz) Bagration" for Pyotr in Russia,[10] and unexpectedly married him off to Countess Catherine Pavlovna Skavronskaya, the favorite niece of Grigory Potemkin and one of the Empress Maria's ladies-in-waiting. Bagration and Catherine had been casually involved, but the marriage was a failure. The young and lovely Catherine soon preferred traveling and, in 1805, fled to Vienna, where her salon and running affair with Prince Clemens von Metternich—who called her "the Naked Angel"—permitted her to serve as an important agent of Russian intelligence and diplomacy. Bagration was obliged by the emperor to claim their daughter, Marie-Clementine,[10] as his own and to subsidize thousands of rubles of Catherine's debts. He had a reputation as a heavy gambler, as well, and was forced to sell estates to cover losses that rose as high as 80,000 roubles.[1]

In the wars of 1805 Bagration's achievements appeared even more brilliant.[9] When Napoleon ordered Murat to break an armistice he had just signed with Bagration, the general was able to successfully resist the repeated attacks of forces five times his own numbers[11] under Murat and Lannes at Schöngrabern (16 November) near Hollabrunn.[9] Though Bagration lost half of the men under his command, their stand protected the retreat of the main army under Kutuzov to Olmutz.[9] When Kutuzov was overruled and forced into battle at Austerlitz (2 December), Bagration commanded the advance guard of the Prince Liechtenstein's column[9] and defended the allied right against Lannes[11] while the left attacked Napoleon's deliberately undefended right flank. He was promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1805, and in 1807 fought bravely and obstinately at the battles of Eylau (7 February),[9] Heilsberg (11 June),[11] and Friedland (14 June).[9]

He was successful as commander of both Russia's Finnish Campaign in 1808 and Turkish Campaign in 1809.[9] In the former, he captured the Åland Islands by a daring march across the frozen Gulf of Finland.[11] His rapid transfer to the distant Moldavian front against the Ottoman Empire has been seen as a reprimand for an alleged affair with the tsarevna Catherine, who was married off shortly thereafter.[1] While there, he led the Russian army at Rassowa and Tataritza[11] and was promoted to full General of Infantry.[1]

In 1812, Bagration commanded the 2nd Army of the West. A few days before Napoleon's invasion on 24 June, he suggested to Alexander I a pre-emptive strike into the Duchy of Warsaw. Defeated at Mogilev (23 July), Bagration led his forces to join the 1st Army at Smolensk under Barclay de Tolly, to whom he ceded overall command of both armies on 2 August. Bagration led the left wing at the Battle of Borodino (7 September) where he constructed a number of flèches which, due to a shortage of engineer officers, were poorly-built. During the battle he received a mortal wound and later died on 24 September, in the village of Simi, which belonged to his aunt.[1]

It is said that, while wounded, Bagration kept giving orders to the troops without knowing that the Russian army was abandoning Moscow. When he finally heard the truth, Bagration was so shocked that he rapidly stood up, totally forgetting about his grave wound. Such an act was too much for his severely wounded body and it quickly cost Bagration his life.[12]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Пётар Багратыён
Esperanto: Pjotr Bagration
Nederlands: Pjotr Bagration
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Bagration Petr Ivanovich
português: Pyotr Bagration
српски / srpski: Петар Багратион
татарча/tatarça: Пётр Багратион
Türkmençe: Bagration