Petr Aleksandrovich Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii, Petr Aleksandrovich


Born Jan. 4 (15), 1725, in Moscow; died Dec. 8 (19), 1796, in the village of Tashan’, now in Pereiaslav-Khmel’nitskii Raion, Kiev Oblast. Russian military leader, field marshal (1770). Count (1744). Son of A. I. Rumiantsev, an associate of Peter I.

Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii was enrolled in the guards as a child, and in 1740 he was promoted to officer. During the Russo-Swedish War of 1741–43 he served in the army in the field under his father. He carried the text of the Abo Peace Treaty to St. Petersburg in 1743; for this he was promoted to colonel and appointed commander of an infantry regiment. During the Seven Years’ War of 1756–63, Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii successfully commanded a brigade at Gross-Jägersdorf in 1757 and a division at the battle of Kunersdorf in 1759. While commanding a corps, he directed the siege and capture of the fortress of Kolberg (Kołobrzeg) in 1761. From 1764 to 1796 he was president of the Little Russian Collegium and governor-general of Little Russia. He pursued a vigorous policy of eliminating Ukrainian autonomy, introduced a poll tax in 1783, and applied the Charter of the Nobility of 1785 in the Ukraine.

At the beginning of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74, Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii commanded the Second Army; in 1769 he led an expedition to capture Azov and in August 1769 took command of the First Army. In December 1770 he routed superior Turkish forces at Riabaia Mogila, Larga, and Kagul and seized the left bank of the lower Danube. In 1774, by a successful attack on Shumla, Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii forced the Turks to conclude the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji of the same year. In 1775 he was given the honorary surname Zadunaiskii (Trans-Danube) and was appointed commander of the heavy cavalry. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–91 he commanded the Second Army, but he came into conflict with the commander in chief, G. A. Potemkin, and was in effect removed from command. In 1794 he was nominally listed as the commander in chief of the army, which was operating against Poland, but because of illness he did not leave his estate.

Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii’s performance as a military leader had a significant influence on the development of the Russian art of war in the second half of the 18th century. During the Seven Years’ War, he demonstrated his innovativeness by introducing deep combat formations; he was the first to use battalion columns for maneuvering on the field of battle and for the attack. He was also the first to create light battalions (the future jaegers) who operated in dispersed formation, marking the inception of new tactics.

In the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–74, Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii purposefully applied the principle of the decisive battle as the primary way to achieve victory. Characteristic features of his military art were the use of mobile squares, that is, rectangular battle formations, skillful combinations of frontal and flank attacks, creation and use of tactical reserves, and organization of coordination with other combat arms. He attached special importance to massed, swift strikes by light cavalry. Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii devoted a great deal of attention to logistics and to the education of his soldiers.

Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii set forth his ideas in Instructions (1761), Ceremony of Service (1770), and Thoughts (1777). These works were used in developing the regulations and reorganizing the Russian Army in the second half of the 18th century.


P. A. Rumiantsev: [Dokumenty], vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1953–59.
Chicagov, N. Zhizn’ general-fel’dmarshala grafa P. A. Rumiantseva-Zadunaiskogo. St. Petersburg, 1849.
Korobkov, N. Fel’dmarshal P. A. Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii. Moscow, 1944.
Klokman, Iu. R. Fel’dmarshal Rumiantsev vperiod russko-turetskoi voiny 1768–1774. Moscow, 1951.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.