NICHOLAS PAULOVICH, who succeeded Alexander, and who is still on the throne of Russia, was born at St. Petersburg, on the 7th of July (June 25, old style), 1796. He was the third son of the emperor Paul I., and seemed to have no prospect of mounting the throne. His education was conducted by his mother, Mary Feodorona, an intelligent and devoted woman, who exerted a great influence on all the members of the imperial family. General de Lambsdorf, the countess de Lieven, the learned Adelung, and others, were charged with the education of the young prince. They initiated him into the knowledge of modern literature, political economy, the military art, and especially that of fortifications. Nicholas did not lack a certain aptitude for study. His masters, however, conceived no very high idea of his capacity. He was taciturn, melancholy, and occupied with trifles. His most decided taste was for music; he even composed some military airs which are not without merit. At the time of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, Nicholas was too young to take an active part in that gigantic struggle. After the restoration of peace, he visited the principal battle-fields where the Russians had figured, and subsequently travelled in the various countries of Europe. In 1816, he made his appearance at the court of England, and received a very cordial welcome from the British aristocracy.
On his return to Russia, Nicholas hastened, to acquaint himself with the condition of the empire, visiting most of the provinces, and residing for a considerable time in their chief cities. On the 1st of July, 1817, he espoused the princess Charlotte, eldest daughter of Frederick William III. of Prussia: he is, therefore, the brother-in-law of the present king of that country. This lady (born July 13, 1798) embraced at once the religion of the Greek church, and assumed the name of Alexandra Feodorona. Of this marriage were born seven children, four sons and three daughters. The sons are — Alexander Cesarovich, (heir to the throne, and commander of the imperial guard), who was born in 1818, and married in 1839 to Maria Alexandrovna, princess of Hesse-Darmstadt, by whom he has several children; Constantine, grand-admiral of the Russian navy, who was born in 1827; Nicholas, born in 1831; and Michael, born in 1832. It will be observed that the sons of Nicholas have received the same names as the sons of Paul, and in the same order. The eldest daughter of Nicholas is Marie Nicolewna, who was born in 1819, and married in 1839 to Maximilian Beauharnois, duke de Leutchtenburg, and grandson of the empress Josephine of France. The emperor, it is said, designed for this daughter a union which he deemed more in consonance with her own eminent position; but yielded his own wishes to hers, when he discovered her unalterable attachment to young Beauharnois, who was at the time a colonel in the Bavarian service. He died November 5, 1852. The second daughter is Olga, who was born in 1822, and was married in 1846 to Charles, prince-royal of Wurtemburg. Alexandra, the youngest daughter in the imperial family, was born in 1825, was married in 1844, and died in August of the same year. It was her fatal illness which shortened the emperor's visit to England in that year, as mentioned in a previous chapter. The chamber in the palace at Czarsko Selo in which she sank to rest remains precisely as it was at that last sad moment: no hand is suffered to profane by its touch any object that belonged to her. In a secluded portion of the park, the cenotaph, a view of which is presented on the opposite page, has been erected as a tribute to her memory. In a niche stands her statue in marble, the size of life, bearing in its arms her infant, which perished almost as soon as born. The pedestal of the statue is covered with appropriate passages of Scripture. In a little summer-house near by hangs a portrait of the lamented princess, and beneath it is inscribed a sentence which was often upon her lips : " I well know, dear father, that you have no greater pleasure than to render my mother happy."
Prince Nicholas did not at all think of the imperial crown until suddenly called to take it, in 1825, under the following circumstances. Next to Alexander, the grand-duke Constantine, then residing at Warsaw as viceroy of Poland, had right to the supreme command. But Constantine was a strange, half-barbarous man. He was first married to a princess of the house of Saxe-Coburg, and aunt to Prince Albert of England; but such was his brutality toward her, that she was separated from him. Finally, he had conceived a passion for the daughter of a simple Polish gentleman, and to obtain a divorce from his former wife so as to enable him to form a matrimonial union with the latter he had secretly signed a paper renouncing the throne of Russia. On the death of Alexander, Constantine, who had received intelligence of the event several days before his brother, faithful to his word, sent a number of letters to his family, in which he renewed his renunciation of the sovereign dignity, and declared that he acknowledged only Nicholas as emperor of all the Russias. In a manifesto published December 24, 1825, Nicholas gave an authentic relation of the circumstances which had called him to the throne; and the next day received the oath of fidelity, and assumed the imperial sceptre as Nicholas I.
The beginning of the reign of Nicholas was marked by a terrible struggle. A number of military officers belonging to the nobility, who had passed some years in Germany and France, in the wars against Napoleon, were dissatisfied with the despotic government established in their own country. They had organized secret societies, similar to the Tugendbund formed by the Germans, and sought the favorable moment to proclaim a representative government. They spread in the army false rumors that Nicholas was a usurper, that the grand-duke Constantine claimed the throne, and that he was marching with Polish battalions upon St. Petersburg ; and, by these misrepresentations, they induced the soldiers to revolt.
The situation was extremely critical. Several of the regiments cried, " Live Constantine!" They had massacred two generals, seriously insulted the governor of the capital, and disdainfully repelled the Russian archbishop who came to urge them to obedience. Already they had advanced turbulently to the imperial palace, and the populace joined the rebels, besides some men of the liberal professions who desired a change in the form of the government. If Nicholas had lingered a few hours in inaction, all would have been lost for him, and perhaps for his children.
It was then that he displayed rare coolness, energy, and intrepidity. Accompanied by some hundreds of guards devoted to his cause, he mounted his horse, went to the place of revolt in the great square of the Admiralty, and, with a haughty bearing, called out to the rebels: " Return to your ranks ! — obey! — Down upon your knees !" Quailing before the imperial order, and awed by the sacred character attributed in Russia to the emperor's person, most of the soldiers kneeled before their sovereign, and, in token of submission, grounded their arms. Those who persisted in resistance were shot down by cannon. On the night of the 25th of December, 1825, all was over: the crown was placed permanently upon Nicholas's brow. The punishments inflicted upon the conspirators were frightful. Many of them underwent the penalty of death. Others, to the number of several hundreds, were exiled to the snows and mines of Siberia.
Soon after Alexander's death, a war with Persia broke out, in consequence of disputes arising from the non-settlement of certain boundaries between Russia and that power. Abbas Mirza, who had just then succeeded to the throne of Persia, thinking the moment propitious for attacking Russia, at once marched over the frontier, and advanced as far as Elizabetpol, in Georgia; but the Persians were defeated, and driven back. War was now immediately declared against them ; and General Paskiewitch, being appointed commander-in-chief by the emperor, passed the Araxes, took several strong fortresses, entered ancient Media with no opposition, and forced the shah to sue for peace, compelling him to give up an extensive territory on the southwestern shore of the Caspian sea, with some provinces on the Caucasus, besides making him pay the expenses of the war, and the losses by the invasion.
The war with Persia was scarcely ended, when Russia engaged in another— with Turkey. The Porte accused the Russians of having secretly fomented the insurrection of Greece, of having openly attacked and destroyed their fleet in the bay of Navarino,* with having violated the treaties of Bucharest and Ackerman, and established connections with the malcontents in every part of the empire. The Russians replied by accusing the Porte of having excited the mountaineers of the Caucasus to revolt, and invited them to embrace Islamism; with having violated or delayed the execution of all the treaties in fayor of its Christian subjects, and arbitrarily closed the Bosphorus on various occasions, and thereby deeply injured the southern provinces of the empire. A declaration of war was issued by the emperor of Russia, and on the 7th of May, 1828, the Russian forces passed the Pruth to the number of one hundred thousand, including persons of all distinctions attached to the camp. Count Wittgenstein was commander-in-chief. The Turks were in no force to resist such a crusade, and retired as the Russians advanced, leaving an unobstructed passage to the invaders. In a short time the entire level country was overrun; Jassy and Bucharest occupied; Galatz, with its beautiful harbor, taken; and, in brief, the entire left bank of the Danube was occupied by the Muscovite troops.
On the 8th of June, under the supervision of the emperor in person, the Russians crossed the Danube, and attacked and captured several fortresses and fortified towns. Ibrail, or Brahilov, the most important and strongest place on the lower Danube, situated near its left bank, and which had been besieged by the Russian, troops under the grand-duke Michael since May 11, capitulated June 18. The siege and capture of this place cost the Russians three thousand lives.
The Russian besieging force, after the fall of Brahilov, was divided into several columns, and soon overran the whole level country between the Danube and the sea.. Several engagements took place during July and August between the opposing forces in the open field, and, although the Ottoman horse maintained their superiority over the Muscovite, the invading army (being reinforced with sixty thousand fresh troops) was too strong in infantry and artillery for their opponents, asnd the latter withdrew into their entrenched camp around Schumla. The emperor at first intended to hazard an attack upon this stronghold, the key to the Balkan; but the strength of the position, and the experience he had had of the tenacity with which the Turks always maintained their ground, induced him to change his determination. He left a sufficient force to observe Schumla, directed the remainder of the army against Varna, which was invested by both land and sea, and, after a desperate resistance, taken on the 10th of October.
After the fall of Varna, the Russian generals were in hopes of being able to take Silistria, which had been blockaded by a force of ten thousand men ; but the approach of the autumnal storms, the scarcity of provisions and forage, and the loss from the ravages of the plague and the usual pestilential fevers of autumn—reducing, including those who had fallen in battle, the effective force of the army to nearly half its original number—-rendered it evident that the reduction of this place could not be undertaken with any prospect of success before the following spring. The blockade therefore was raised, and orders given to retreat beyond the Danube.
Leaving sufficient forces to occupy and maintain the captured fortresses, Wittgenstein commenced his retreat with the remainder of his army on the 15th of October; and it was conducted with so much secresy, that the Turks for some days were not aware of what was going on, and he at first sustained very little molestation. But this did not long continue. On the 19th, the rear-guard was attacked by eight thousand Turkish horse; and, though they kept their ground till the third corps, which was defiling, had got through, this was only done at a very heavy loss. After this, as the weather every day became worse, the retrograde movement became eminently disastrous. Eye-witnesses of both compared it to the retreat from Moscow. The Turkish roads, bad at all times, had been rendered all but impassable by the ceaseless passage of artillery and carriages over them during the summer, and the heavy rains of autumn. Caissons and baggage were abandoned at every step; the stragglers nearly all fell into the enemy's hands, by whom they were instantly massacred; and Wittgenstein experienced, in his turn, the disasters which he had inflicted on Napoleon's army during the retreat from Vitepsk to the Beresina in 1812. At length the wearied columns reached the Danube, which they immediately crossed, and spread themselves in winter quarters over Wallachia. Thus ended in Europe the campaign of 1828, in which the Russians, with the exception of the occupation of Wallachia and Moldavia (which were abandoned by the Turks without resistance), and the reduction of Brahilov and Varna, had made no sensible progress. Both parties, after it was over, found themselves on the banks of the Danube, mutually exhausted by the most urgent efforts.
The campaign in Asia during the same year, though conducted on the part of the Russians with much smaller forces, was attended with, much more decisive results. The force under Paskiewitch, who commanded the army in Asia, was but about twenty thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry, less than half of which was under the immediate direction of the commander-in-chief, and achieved all the successes of the campaign; the remainder being destined to subordinate operations, intended chiefly to distract the attention of the enemy from the main object of attack by the former. With this force Paskiewitch pushed his way from Caucasus and Ararat into Asiatic Turkey, and took by storm the strong fortress of Kars, one of the most formidable in Asia, and the central point of Turkish Armenia, with all its arms and ammunition, and seven thousand prisoners. After this, several other fortresses fell into the hands of the Russians; so that, besides obtaining possession of Mingrelia and Imeritia, the whole pachalic of Bajazid, as far as the banks of the Euphrates, was conquered. The entire loss of the Russians in this campaign, by disease as well as the sword, was about three thousand.
The winter of 1828-1829 was actively employed by both the Russians and the Turks in preparing for the opening of the next campaign. We have before remarked that the one hundred and sixty thousand Russians who had crossed the Danube during the preceding campaign had melted away before its close to half that number by fatigue, sickness, and the sword. These were reinforced by seventy thousand fresh troops, including twenty thousand hardy Cossacks; so that the Russians commenced the campaign in Europe, in the beginning of 1829, with at least one hundred and fifty thousand effective men, in Bulgaria and on the line of the Danube.
Some minor operations were undertaken during the winter by the Russian generals, to which they were tempted by the growing superiority of their forces. The Turkish entrenched posts at Kale and Turnoid, on the left bank of the Danube, were attacked and taken—the first on January 24, and the latter February 11. This success led to the capture of a flotilla of thirty gun-boats on the Danube, near Nicopolis, a few days after, which gave them the entire command of that portion of the river. A still more important acquisition was the castle of Sizepolis, a stronghold situated on a rock projecting into the Black sea, a little to the south of the bay of Bocergas, at the eastern end of the Balkan. It yielded in a few hours to the cannonade of some Russian vessels-of-war, the garrison, consisting of one thousand Albanians, having evacuated the place. The capture of this little Gibraltar secured to the Russians a position on the seacoast, within the line of the Balkan, and a means of communication between the invading army on land and their fleet on the Black sea.
The decided superiority of the Russians at sea, in both the Mediterranean and the Euxine, gave them a very great advantage, which threatened to starve Constantinople itself into an early submission, and deprived the Turks of all possibility of transporting their troops or magazines by water. Admiral Greig, with nine sail-of-the-line, five frigates, and .twenty-eight corvettes, carrying fifteen hundred and fifty guns, blockaded the Bosphorus; while Admiral Hamelin (the present commander of the French division of the allied fleet in the Euxine, now acting against Russia), with eight sail-of-the-line, seven frigates, and seventeen corvettes, shut in the Dardanelles. The Turks and Egyptians, whose marine had been totally ruined by the battle of Navarino, had no force capable of meeting these fleets. Thus the entire command of the sea, with all its inestimable consequences, fell to the Russians during the remainder of the war.
The success of Wittgenstein, in the preceding campaign against the Turks in Europe, had not been such as to justify his being retained in the command, and he was accordingly allowed to retire — a step deemed proper also from his age and infirmities. He was succeeded by Count Diebitch, the chief of his staff, whose abilities and success in the succeeding campaign fully justified the emperor's choice; for, although the Turkish army was greatly reinforced, and under the command of officers of high renown and unquestionable bravery, both the 'Russian generals, Diebitch and Pas-kiewitch, proved too much for them.
Paskiewitch, who conducted the campaign in Asia, with a force which never could muster twenty thousand combatants in the field, achieved extraordinary successes. In the space of four months, from June to October, to briefly sum them up, he marched two hundred and fifty miles through hostile countries ; beat and dispersed three Turkish armies, each double the strength of his own; carried by storm several entrenched camps and four strong fortresses ; conquered Erzeroum, the capital of Asia Minor, and two entire pachalics; took two hundred and sixty pieces of cannon and sixty-five standards, and made prisoners the Turkish general-in-chief and three thousand soldiers. The sharpest contest of the Asiatic campaign was occasioned by the pacha of Vau's attempt to retake the fortress of Bajazid. The attack was made with seven thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry, aided by the fire from a battery on a range of rocks, which swept the Russian troops on the flank and rear, and the fire of musketry from the Tartar quarter of the place. After thirty-two hours of incessant fighting, the Turks retreated. The brilliant successes of Paskiewitch were achieved with the loss of only four thousand men in killed, wounded, prisoners, and by sickness — a number singularly small, when it is considered that, during the whole course of the campaign, the plague raged in several of the towns which were taken.
The campaign in the European provinces was quite as successful to the Russian arms. The invading army under Diebitch crossed the Danube from the 8th to the 10th of May, in two columns, at Hirchova and Kalavatsh, immediately below Silistria. The latter place was at once invested by thirty-five thousand Russians, with eighty-eight pieces of cannon, while a covering or reserve army, of upward of forty thousand, was stationed a little in advance toward Schumla. Silistria has acquired an additional interest from the ineffectual attempt of the Russians to capture it, at an immense sacrifice of life, in 1854. It is situated on the right bank of the Danube, near the commencement of its delta, and in 1829 contained thirty thousand inhabitants, six thousand of whom were among the armed defenders of the place. It was at that time imperfectly fortified ; and such had been the supineness of the Turks during the winter, that no attempts had been made to injure or demolish, the approaches made by the Russians during the campaign of the preceding year: so that, when they returned on thisoccasion, they marched into the old works and trenches, as if they only had evacuated them the preceding day! The garrison, exclusive of the armed inhabitants, was nearly ten thousand, commanded by Achmet Pacha, a man of determined resolution and tried ability.
Diebitch prosecuted the siege of this fortress with the utmost vigor, while a powerful flotilla, issuing from the upper part of the river, cut the besieged off from all communication by water on the west. But the Turks made a vigorous resistance, and recourse was of necessity had to the tedious processes of sap and mine.
During the progress of the investment of Silistria, a battle was fought, on the 11th of June, at Kulewtscha, about midway between Silistria and Schumla, between the Russian reserve under Diebitch (who had left the prosecution of the siege meanwhile to General Krasowsky) and forty thousand Turks under Reschid Pacha, the commander-in-chief of the Ottoman forces. This engagement continued for eight hours, and finally resulted in the discomfiture of the Turks, who retreated in confusion, and by a circuitous route succeeded in re-entering Schumla.
The expedition, which resulted in this battle, retarded but did not suspend the siege of Silistria. On the return of Diebitch, active operations were resumed. The garrison, however, continued to hold out till the night of the 30th of June, when a great mine under the rampart having been exploded, made a yawning breach in it, which, by the concentric fire of the Russian artillery, was soon rendered practicable for storming. Seeing farther resistance hopeless, Achmet Pacha, whose ammunition was now almost expended, agreed to surrender. The troops, to the number of eight thousand, laid down their arms, and were made prisoners-of-war. The armed inhabitants were allowed to retire without their arms., but none of them availed themselves of the permission.
General Diebitch now determined on the daring step of passing the Balkan, in preference to the alternative of undertaking another siege to secure more effectually his line of communication. His plan being formed accordingly, he invested Schumla with ten thousand men under Krasowsky. Reschid Pacha, the grand vizier, in expectation of an immediate assault, recalled a portion of his troops from the mountain-passes, to aid in the defence of a position on which, in his opinion, everything depended. The defenders of the Balkan being thus seriously diminished, the Russian forces, to the number of twenty-one thousand, were enabled to force their passage across the mountains. The figurative comparison of the number of Diebitch's army to the leaves of the forest, which had been spread by the reports of the Bulgarians, acted like magic. The Turkish army, twenty thousand strong, deceived by these exaggerated accounts, retired to the ridge of low hills, twenty-five miles in front of Constantinople, which had so often in ancient times served as a barrier against the northern barbarians. The Russian general, thus having an unobstructed route, resolved on pushing on to Adrianople. Leaving a force at different points to secure his line of communications, he advanced by forced marches, and encamped before that ancient city on the 19th of August. No preparations for the defence of Adrianople had been made, and a hasty capitulation enabled the Russians to enter the town on the following morning.
The better to subsist, and also to augment the report of the magnitude and invincibility of his forces, the Russian general, like Napoleon after the battle of Jena, and with similar success, spread them out from the centre at Adrianople, like a fan, in every direction. While the advanced guards were pushed on the high-road to within eighty miles of Constantinople, the left wing, under Rudiger, advanced and took Midiah, within sixty-five miles of the Bosphorus, where it entered into communication with Admiral Greig's squadron; and the right, under General Sicorre, moved forward by Trajanopolis on Enos, in the Mediterranean, and met the fleet of Admiral Heiden, which was at anchor, expecting them, in the bay. At the same time, Krasowsky, by repeated attacks, so imposed upon the garrison of Schumla, that, so far from thinking of disquieting these movements, they deemed themselves fortunate to be able to preserve their own redoubts! Thus the Russian army extended from the Euxine to the Mediterranean, across the entire breadth of Turkey, a distance of one hundred and forty miles, and was supported by a powerful fleet at the extremity of either flank; while at the same time its reserve blockaded eighteen thousand men in Schumla, and its advanced guard menaced Constantinople. But the strength of their army was not equal to so great an expansion of its force, and was in reality on the verge of a most terrible catastrophe. In the middle of September, the force under Diebitch, at Adrianople did not exceed fifteen thousand men !
An extraordinary impression was produced by these decisive events, both at Constantinople and over Europe. The terror in the Turkish capital was extreme; for the Christians apprehended an immediate massacre from the infuriated mussulmans, and the latter were not less apprehensive of extermination from the avenging swords of the victorious Muscovites.
The sultan (Mahmoud IV.) was besieged at one time by the violent Ottomans, urging the arming of all the followers of " the prophet," and the most severe measures against the Christians; at another, with the most urgent entreaties from the latter, supported by the earnest representations of the western embassadors, to yield to necessity, and avert the threatening dangers by an immediate concession of the demands of Russia. Their efforts, joined to the exaggerated reports of Diebitch's force, who was represented as being at the gates of the capital at the head of sixty thousand men, at length overcame the firmness of the grand seignior, and, with tears in his eyes, he agreed to the treaty of Adrianople—one of the most renowned in the Russian, as it was one of the most disastrous in the Turkish annals.
By this celebrated treaty the emperor of Russia restored to the Sublime Porte the two principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, and all the conquered places in Bulgaria and Roumelia, with the exception of the islands at the mouth of the Danube, which were reserved to Russia. All conquests in Asia Minor were in like manner restored to Turkey, excepting the fortresses of Anapa, Poli, Akhalzikh, Abzkow, and Akhalkalaki, which, with a considerable territory round them, were ceded to Russia, and, in a military point of view, constituted most important acquisitions. All the privileges and immunities secured by former treaties were ratified in their fullest extent by articles five and six. An entire and unqualified amnesty was provided for all political offenders in every part of the Turkish dominions. The passage of the Dardanelles was declared open to all Russian merchant-vessels, as well as those of all nations at peace with the Sublime Porte, with all guaranties requisite to secure to Russia the undisturbed navigation of the Black sea.
The indemnity to be awarded to Russian subjects complaining of arbitrary acts of the Turkish government was one and a half millions of Dutch ducats, or nearly four millions of dollars, payable in eighteen months; and that to the Russian government, for the expenses of the war, was ten millions of ducats, or about twenty-five millions of dollars. The evacuation of the Turkish territories was to take place progressively as the indemnity was discharged, and not to be completed till it was entirely paid up.
Another convention, signed the same day, of still greater eventual importance, determined the respective rights of the parties to Wallachia and Moldavia. It provided that the hospodars of these provinces should be elected for life, and not, as heretofore, for seven years; that the pachas and officers of the Porte in the adjoining provinces were not to be at liberty to intermingle in any respect in their concerns; that the middle of the Danube was to be the boundary between them to the junction of that river with the Pruth; and, " the better to secure the future inviolability of Moldavia and Wallachia, the Sublime Porte engaged not to maintain any fortified post or any mussulman establishment on the north of the Danube; that the towns situated on the left bank, including Giurgeva, should be restored to Wallachia, and their fortifications never repaired; and all mussulmans holding possessions on the left bank were to be bound to sell them to the natives in the space of eighteen months. The government of the hospodars was to be entirely independent of Turkey ; and they were to be liberated from the quota of provisions they had hitherto been bound to furnish to Constantinople and the fortresses on the Danube. They were to be occupied by the Russian troops till the indemnity was fully paid up, for which ten years were allowed; and to be relieved of all tribute to the Porte during their occupation, and for two years after it had ceased."
Though the campaigns of 1828-1829 terminated to the disadvantage of Turkey, they are yet eminently calculated to modify the ideas generally entertained as to the great power of Russia in aggressive warfare, as well as to evince the means of defence, in a military point of view, which the Ottoman dominions possess. The Turks began the war under the greatest possible disadvantages. Their land forces had been exhausted by seven bloody campaigns with the Greeks; their marine ruined in the battle of Navarino ; their enemies had the command of the Euxine and the Egean; the interior lines of communication in their empire were cut off; the Janizaries, the military strength of the state, had been in part destroyed, in part alienated; and only twenty thousand of the regular troops, intended to replace them, were as yet clustered round the standards of the prophet. On the other hand, the Russians had been making their preparations for six years ; they had enjoyed fourteen years of European peace ; and a hundred and twenty thousand armed men awaited on the Pruth the signal to march to Constantinople. Yet, with all these disadvantages, the scales hung all but even between the contending parties. Varna was only taken in the first campaign in consequence of the Russians having the command of the sea; the Balkan passed in the second, from the grand vizier having been out-generaled by the superior skill of Diebitch. Even as it was, it was owing to treachery and disaffection that the daring march to Adrian-ople did not terminate in a disaster second only to the Moscow retreat.
The Polish revolution is the next important event in the history of Russia. Although the immediate cause of this revolution was severe punishment inflicted on pupils of the military academy at Warsaw, there is no doubt that the Poles were encouraged to make the attempt by the success that attended the Parisians in July, 1830, to secure to themselves a constitutional government. Accordingly, on the 19th of November following, the military cadets and students of Warsaw, joined by the Polish troops, seized the arsenal, with forty thousand stand of arms, and the insurrection became general. On the next morning, forty thousand troops and citizens were in arms, and the Russians were expelled from the capital. January 24, 1831, the Polish diet, which had been opened on the 18th of December, declared the absolute independence of Poland, and the termination of the Russian dominion; and, on the 25th, that the Polish throne was vacant. The object of the Polish revolutionists, however, was not to withdraw themselves entirely from the authority of the Russian emperor, but only io maintain the privileges that were guarantied to them at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and to get rid of the tyrannous viceroyship of the grand-duke Con-stantine.* Nevertheless, they had now drawn the sword; and, although two commissioners were sent to St. Petersburg, to endeavor to effect an arrangement, the emperor refused to listen to them, and denounced the revolted Poles as traitors to whom no lenity would be shown.
Marshal Diebitch, who had so successfully conducted the war with the Turks, entered Poland at the head of a large army, He advanced as far as Warsaw, and was victorious over the Poles near the walls of their capital, February 25, 1831 (the loss of the Poles is stated to have been five thousand five hundred, and that of their enemies four thousand five hundred) ; but when Prince Radzivil resigned the command on the 28th, and Skrzynecki, then only a colonel, was appointed in his place, the Polish cause gained strength. This brave officer, though finally unsuccessful, like the heroic Kosciusko, proved that he deserved a better fate. On the 31st of March he was victorious over the Russians in a night attack. He advanced cautiously, and, favored by the darkness of the night, reached their cantonments without being perceived. The advanced guard of General Geismar, consisting of eight or ten thousand men, was first attacked, and almost wholly destroyed: the Poles took four thousand prisoners and sixteen pieces of cannon. Immediately afterward he attacked General Rosen, who was posted with twenty thousand men at Dembe Wielski, and obliged him to retreat, with the loss of two thousand prisoners and nine pieces of cannon.
Another important victory was afterward gained near Zelechow, when twelve thousand Russians were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners, with twelve pieces of cannon. During this action, the Lithuanians and Volhyn-ians, who served in the Russian army, turned their arms against the Russians, and materially contributed to the success of the Poles.
The peasants in various quarters of Poland now took an active part in the war, and hastened, with whatever weapons they could obtain, to the army. Insurrections broke out in Lithuania, Volhynia, Kowno, Wilna, in the Ukraine, and even in ancient Poland, as far as Smolensk. On the other hand, General Dwernicki, who had been sent to make a demonstration in the rear of the Russians, and who had been victorious over them, was at last compelled to pass into the Austrian dominions, where he surrendered to the authorities of that country, April 27, with five thousand Poles. The ardor of the people, however, still continued, and hopes were entertained in every country that the manly resistance of the Poles would induce other governments to interfere; but, unfortunately, Prussia and Austria, being themselves in possession of a part of the spoils of Poland, did all in their power to prevent interference, for fear of popular risings in Posen and Galicia; while France was too timid and cautious under Louis Philippe, and Great Britain was too much absorbed with domestic politics and the spirit of trade, to render essential aid. The military operations on the part of the Russians were now prosecuted with new vigor; and the emperor, who, in a manifesto addressed to the Russians, had called them the legitimate masters of the Poles, was ready to make every sacrifice to regain the Polish throne.
The fate of the revolutionists was soon afterward decided. After two days' fighting, Warsaw was taken by the Russians (September 7, 1831) : the confiscation of their property and exile to Siberia followed as noted on a previous page. Though many found an asylum in France, England, and other countries, they were mostly in extreme poverty, and were dependent on the benevolence of those who pitied their hard fate while they admired their patriotism. An imperial ukase, issued March 17, 1832, abolished the kingdom of Poland and its constitution, and incorporated it with Russia as a province. The university of Warsaw was also suppressed, as a punishment for the part taken by the students in the insurrection.
Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855