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08 December 2023

From the Crimean War to Military Reforms: the Background of the Russian Army`s Reorganization, 1856–1862

Bylye Gody
From the Crimean War to Military Reforms: the Background of the Russian Army`s Reorganization, 1856–1862

The article deals with the situation in the Russian army in the period of 1856—1862. These several post-war years are presented as a transitional stage, in which Alexander II and his close generals had to draw conclusions from the defeat of Russia in the Crimean War of 1853—1856, develop a program of reforms in the army and begin its implementation. However, these tasks were not completed, and the government took only a few isolated measures (for example, the abolition of military settlements). A careful examination of archival and published sources that reflected the discussions that took place at that time makes it possible to assess the reasons for the unsuccessful start of military reforms. Instead of an unequivocal conclusion about the causes of the military failure, which assumed a clear sequence of actions to correct the situation, several competing explanations (myths) were in circulation among the military leadership. These views suggested various strategies for reforming the armed forces. The main lines of judgment were either the need for a “moral cleansing” of the army from abuses, or gradual internal improvement. At the same time, the question of a qualitative restructuring of the military system was not raised. The uncertainty of the direction of further development was intensified by the struggle of various groups in the highest military administration, which were grouped around the War Ministry or the most authoritative figures in the combat command. 1858, when the investigation of the general F.K. Satler and there was a change of editorial board in the journal “Voennyi Sbornik”, can be considered the culmination of these clashes. The War Ministry was able to strengthen its position and move its competitors away from decision-making. This redistribution of influence had important consequences, predetermining the rise of the ministry under D.A. Milyutin. Finally, the financial difficulties of the Russian Empire further limited the range of possible actions to reform the army. Period 1856—1862 can be called «slippage» on the eve of the start of military reforms in Russia.

Source: Tatiana A. Volodin, Stanislav S. Yudin (2023). From the Crimean War to Military Reforms: the Background of the Russian Army’s Reorganization, 1856–1862. Bylye Gody. 18(3): 1219-1226

Source web-site: https://bg.cherkasgu.press/journals_n/1693820346.pdf

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