Iosif Gurko

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Gurko, Iosif Vladimirovich

 

(also I. V. Romeiko-Gurko). Born July 16 (28), 1828, in Mogilev Province; died Jan. 15 (28), 1901, at the village of Sakharovo, in present-day Kalinin Oblast. Russian field marshal (1894).

Gurko graduated from the Corps of Pages (1846) and served as a hussar in the imperial guards. As an aide-de-camp to the tsar and a member of the tsar’s retinue (1862–66), he carried out administrative assignments related to the implementation of the peasant reform. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 he proved himself to be a talented and resolute military leader. Having taken command of the advance column of the Russian forces in June 1877, he carried out a successful campaign across the Balkan Mountains, for which he was given the rank of adjutant general. In September and October he headed the cavalry of the western detachment at the seige of Plevna. In October he led a guards detachment in taking the Turkish strong points of Gorni Dubniak (on October 12 [24]) and Telish (on October 16 [28]), thus completing the encirclement of Plevna. He proposed the plan of an immediate offensive across the Balkans in the winter of 1877. By marching on Yetropole-Orkhaniye in November he took up favorable initial positions in the Balkan foothills. In December, at the head of a detachment 70,000 strong, he made an extremely difficult crossing of the Balkans, which were considered impassable in winter, took Sofia, and defeated the Turkish troops at Tashkesen on December 19 (31). Developing the offensive, he defeated the Turkish troops at Philippopolis on Jan. 3–5 (15–17), 1878, and captured Adrianople. In 1878 he was made general of the cavalry. In 1879–80 he was assistant commander in chief of the guards and of the St. Petersburg Military District, as well as being acting governor-general of St. Petersburg. In 1882–83 he was acting governor-general of Odessa. From 1883 to 1894 he was governor-general of the Vistula Territory and commander of the Warsaw Military District, where he directed the building of fortifications and strategic roads. He pursued a policy of russification in Poland. Gurko became a member of the State Council in 1886. He retired in 1894.