The Russian Army 1853–1881

  • Robert F. Baumann


The story of the Russian Army from the opening of the Crimean War in 1853 to the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 is that of an institution responding to defeat. Agonizing recognition of the sources of failure dictated sweeping, modernizing reform. To be sure, the outcome was rooted not only in military deficiencies but also in an obsolete social structure that left Russia unable to meet the requirements of modern war.


Universal Service White General General Staff Military System Moral Element 
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Sources and Further Reading

  1. The standard work on Miliutin’s military reforms has long been P. A. Zaionchkovskii’s Voennye reformy v rossii v 1860–70 godakh (Moscow: 1952). Though accessible only to readers of Russian, this work examines in detail the entire reform of the War Ministry from 1862 through 1874 and identifies many crucial archival documents, thus blazing a trail for subsequent scholars to follow. In particular, this work establishes the conceptual foundations of Miliutin’s reforms as a response to the emerging European security environment following the rise of German power. The first major work in English on the reform period wasGoogle Scholar
  2. Forrestt Miller’s Dmitrii Miliutin and the Reform Era in Russia (Nashville, TN: 1968), which carefully outlined the political struggle between the war minister and his opponents leading to the acceptance of conscription reform. For additional examination of the implementation of universal military service from an ethnic perspective, see Robert Baumann’s “Subject Nationalities in the Service of Imperial Russia: The Case of the Bashkirs” [Slavic Review, Fall/Winter 1987] and Universal Service Reform and Russia’s Imperial Dilemma (War & Society, September 1986). The most valuable compendium of statistical data on conscription and other official activities isGoogle Scholar
  3. A. Syrnev, Statisticheskii vremennik rossiskoi imperii, seria III, vypusk. 12, Vseobshchaia voinskaia povinnost’ v imperii za pervoe desiatiletie 1874–1883 gg. (St. Petersburg: 1886).Google Scholar
  4. A more recent work, Bruce Menning’s Bayonets Before Bullets: The Imperial Russian Army, 1861–1914, devotes a fine chapter to the Russo-Turkish War and the development of Russian tactical doctrine in the late nineteenth century. Also useful on the subject of imperial military thought are Walter Pintner’s “Russian Military Thought: The Western Model and the Shadow of Suvorov” in Makers of Modern Strategy, edited by Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: 1987) andGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumann’s “Technology versus the Moral Element: Emerging Views in the Russian Officer Corps, 1870–1904” in New Perspectives in Modern Russian History, edited by Robert McKean (London: 1992).Google Scholar
  6. Relatively little has appeared in English on Russia’s military campaigns in Central Asia from 1856 to 1881.Google Scholar
  7. Baumann’s Russian-Soviet Unconventional Wars in the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan (Ft. Leavenworth, KS: 1993) devotes a chapter to the subject of Russian military adaptation in the region. However, for a broad look at Imperial Russian policy in Central Asia, seeGoogle Scholar
  8. Edward Allworth’s Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule (New York, NY: 1967),Google Scholar
  9. Seymour Becker’s Russia’s Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and Khiva, 1865–1924 (Cambridge, MA: 1968), andGoogle Scholar
  10. Richard Pierce’s Russian Central Asia 1867–1917 (Berkeley, CA: 1960).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Frederick W. Kagan and Robin Higham 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert F. Baumann

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