Dragomirov, Mikhail Ivanovich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dragomirov, Mikhail Ivanovich


Born Nov. 8 (20), 1830, near Konotop, in present-day Sumy Oblast, Ukrainian SSR; died Oct. 15 (28), 1905, in Konotop. Russian military theoretician and instructor. Infantry general (1891). Son of an officer.

Dragomirov began military service in 1849. He graduated from the General Staff Academy in 1856 and served in the Guards General Staff. Dragomirov was attached to the headquarters of the Sardinian Army at the time of the Austro-Franco-Italian War (1859). Subsequently he became an instructor (1860) and from 1863 to 1869 a professor in the department of military tactics at the Nicholas Academy of the General Staff.

From 1869 to 1873, Dragomirov served as chief of staff of the Kiev military district. He commanded the 14th Infantry Division (1873-77) and fought with the division in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Dragomirov successfully directed the crossing of the Danube at Zimnicea, as well as military actions during the defense of Shipka, where he was wounded. In 1878 he was made chief of the General Staff Academy. Eleven years later (1889) he became the Kiev Military District commander. He was appointed governor-general of Kiev, Podol’e, and Volyn’ (1898), and in 1903 he became a member of the State Council.

Beginning in the 1850’s, Dragomirov devoted himself to problems of military instruction. Ascribing great importance to the factor of fighting morale, he developed the ideas of A. V. Surovov; he required that soldiers be instructed only in problems of combat and opposed military drilling. He assigned an exceptional role to military discipline and favored introduction into the army of a strict legal code, obligatory for all soldiers. He believed that soldiers should be inculcated with a conscientious attitude toward their duties and emphasized the officer’s role in setting a personal example, Dragomirov did much to develop the tactic of skirmish lines. In 1879 he wrote the Textbook of Tactics, which for more than 20 years was a basic reference work in the General Staff Academy. However, Dragomirov’s elevation of human will in war to an idealistic absolute led him to contrast man to equipment and to underestimate the value of new military technology and the improvement of armaments.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.