Mikhail Skobelev

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Skobelev, Mikhail Dmitrievich


Born Sept. 17 (29), 1843, in St. Petersburg; died June 25 (July 7), 1882, in Moscow. Russian military leader; general of the infantry (1881) and adjutant general (1878).

The son of an officer, Skobelev graduated from the Academy of the General Staff in 1868. He took part in the Khiva campaign of 1873 and in the suppression of the Kokand Rebellion of 1873-76. In February 1876 he was appointed the military governor of Fergana Oblast, where he pursued the tsarist regime’s colonialist policy in Middle Asia.

During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, as chief of staff of the Combined Cossack Division, Skobelev in fact commanded the Caucasian Cossack Brigade during the second assault on Pleven in July 1877 and commanded a separate detachment in the capture of Lovech in August 1877. In August 1877, during the third assault on Pleven, he successfully led the left-flank detachment that broke through toward Pleven; however, he did not receive timely support from headquarters. As commander of the 16th Infantry Division, he took part in the blockade of Pleven; he made a winter crossing of the Balkans through Imitli Pass and played a decisive role in the battle of Sheinovo. In February 1878 he took San Stefano, near Istanbul. Skobelev’s military feats won him great popularity in Russia and Bulgaria, where many city streets, squares, and parks were named for him.

From 1878 to 1880, Skobelev commanded a corps. In 1880 and 1881 he led the second Akhal-tekke expedition, during which Turkmenia was conquered. In 1882, while in Paris, he spoke out for the Balkan peoples and against the German and Austro-Hungarian aggressive policy, thus creating an international contretemps. He was recalled by Emperor Alexander III and died unexpectedly soon thereafter.

Skobelev was a military leader of uncommon talents. His views on the art of war were progressive. He was noted for his personal bravery and enjoyed great popularity among both soldiers and officers.


Chantsev, I. A. Skobelev kak polkovodets, 1880-1881. St. Petersburg, 1883.
Kuropatkin, A. N. Deistviia otriadov generala Skobeleva ν russko-turetskuiu voinu 1877-1878, parts 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1885.
Kashkarov, D. D. Vzgliady na poliliku, voinu, voennoe delo i voennykh M. D. Skobeleva. St. Petersburg, 1893. [23–1527–]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Portraits of Grand Duke Nicholas Nicolaievich, Count Ignatiev and the generals Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko and Mikhail Skobelev surround the group.