Air University Review, November-December 1986

Train Hard, Fight Easy:
the Legacy of A. V. Suvorov
and His “Art of Victory”

Dr. Bruce W. Menning

OVER the last century, commentators and military historians have with few exceptions gravitated to two extremes in explaining czarist military success during the golden age of Russian arms, an era of seemingly endless victories running from the reign of Peter the Great (1689-1725) to that of Paul I (1796-1801). On the one hand, the academic school of interpretation has sought to explain martial triumph in terms of Russian adherence to commonly perceived and practiced principles of military art. On the other hand, the national (or Russian) school has sought explanation in underlying and uniquely Russian cultural factors.1 Between these poles, other observers have occasionally labored to produce a synthesis that builds on the strengths of both approaches to achieve a balance between context and constancy.2

Against the overall background of historiographical controversy and compromise, testimony of one of the era 's chief—if not most important—actors , Generalissimo Aleksandr Vasil'evich Suvorov (1730-1800), remains especially instructive. In 1771, when forced to rationalize novel approaches to tactics and training in fighting the Polish Confederates, then-Major General Suvorov argued that his methods were justified in the light of Russian military progress against Prussia during the Seven Years’ War. He noted that Frederick II, overrun from all sides, had lost soldiers drilled in the niceties, had been forced to throw replacements together like fish soup, and did not have time to drill them more than perfunctorily. In contrast, by 1761 the Russians were more than equal to their adversaries. The difference in Suvorov's eyes? Training. While Frederick had replaced experienced troops with hastily trained recruits, the Russians, having been deployed longer, reached a well-trained state. Consequently, the Prussians fell before the Russians, just as in 1709 the Swedes had fallen at Poltava before Peter the Great "who had drilled his troops more than the foreigners, whose own forces were incompletely trained."3 Suvorov later insisted that each trained soldier equaled somewhere between three and ten untrained counterparts. In his words, training meant light," while lack of training spelled "darkness."4

These assertions underscore the importance which perhaps the greatest Russian military commander of all time ascribed to training. By 1771, a mixture of influences, including service in the ranks, combat experience, and tenure in various junior and senior command and staff positions, had begun to coalesce for Suvorov into the foundations of a comprehensive program for military action which underscored the fundamental importance of training to victory. In 1795, several wars and numerous campaigns after the brushfire conflicts of the 1770s in Poland, Suvorov would refine more than four decades of experience into a simple set of guidelines to govern the training and indoctrination of soldiers in the fundamentals of the military art.

His prescriptions, known as "The Art of Victory," were initially circulated in manuscript form, temporarily forgotten after his death, then published and reprinted eight times between 1806 and 1811.5 By the second half of the nineteenth century, the prescriptions had become a Russian military classic. Whatever the version, "The Art of Victory" subsequently became the font to which Russian and Soviet trainers have returned repeatedly for information and inspiration. Because of their persistence influence, a review of Suvorov’s training principles as they evolved to culminate in "The Art of Victory" promises insight not only into the Russian military past but also the Soviet military present.

Any discussion of Sovorov’s training methods must begin with reference to context and impact. Suvorov entered active service with the Imperial Russian Army in 1748 at the age of eighteen, and the majority of his career coincided with the heyday of eighteenth-century linear tactics. This was a time in which armies of highly trained professionals equipped with smoothbore, flintlock muskets marched in column and fought on line in elaborately choreographed battles that at least metaphorically mirrored contemporary intellectual preoccupations with notions of order, symmetry, and rationalism.6 When Suvorov finally rose to command in the 1760s and 1770s, he burst into this well-ordered world as an innovator, a field commander whose tactical and operational conceptions were often at variance with European military convention. In contrast with the languid methods and tactics of his day, Sovorov marched rapidly, struck unexpectedly, attacked seemingly helter-skelter from a variety of formations, and pursued relentlessly.7

Training made the injection of fury possible; what lent focus was a novel and complementary emphasis in the brief pages of "The Art of Victory" on mobility, flexibility, initiative, and agility. These and other aspects of his vision Suvorov summed up with reference to his famous triad—speed, assessment, and hitting power (bystrota, glazomer, natisk).8 With these words, he enjoined his officers and troops to move fast, size up situations quickly and accurately, then push headlong into the attack. Whether in combat against Polish rebels, Tatar tribesmen, Turkish janissaries, French revolutionaries, or Prussian grenadiers, Suvorov’s stress on thorough preparation and speedy execution was sufficient to produce threescore major and minor victories, often in the face of hopeless odds. As Philip Longworth, Suvorov's most recent Western biographer, has noted, "he won far too frequently to be called lucky: he never lost."9

Although "The Art of Victory" dates to 1795, evidence shows that Suvorov first professed systematic views on training during the 1760s, when he returned from the Prussian campaigns to assume successive command of the Astrakhan and Suzdal infantry regiments. By 1765, he had worked out a successful training program, the "Suzdal Regulations," which served as a legitimate supplement to the official drill regulations of 1763. In consonance with circumstances and in agreement with regulations, in each succeeding command he sought to extend and institutionalize his program of systematic troop training. These elaborations and various discrete instructions would eventually culminate in "The Art of Victory." The developmental aspect aside, the Suzdal Regulations already reveal the foundations of his training system: begin with an understanding of the soldier and his needs; recognize the necessity of creating under strong supervision a confident fighting man; develop a sense of individual and group identity; and engage in constant, progressive, and repetitive training under conditions gradually approaching those of genuine combat. The approach worked so well that already in the mid-1760s the Suzdalers were sufficiently well trained to attract imperial attention at summer maneuvers held near Tsarskoe Selo.10

For Suvorov, training began with the individual soldier. The task was to transform annual levies of raw and illiterate peasant conscripts into fighting troops. This meant making warriors of disoriented and disgruntled young men torn from their traditional village societies and pressed into what must have seemed a penal-like system of routine, regulation, ritual, and rigid subordination. While recent commentators have reminded us that many elements of village and barrack life coincided, soldierly existence held something new and alarming: calculated exposure to danger with the real possibility of giving "a life for the czar."11 Suvorov faced this and other training challenges in characteristically direct fashion. In "The Art of Victory," he declared in words readily understandable to his recruits that, "if a peasant doesn't know how to plough, he cannot grow bread." The unmistakable military implication was that neither could an untrained soldier succeed in battle. Therefore, the master of training consciously set out to transform the lives of his peasant recruits to render the difficult possible and the unthinkable more palatable.12

While his intent was scarcely novel, his method was. He deemphasized corporal punishment, and before the training cycle ever started, Suvorov strictly prescribed organizational adherence to conditions which fostered maintenance of health, diet, and adequate living conditions. Military physicians and commanders made daily checks on the status of troops and their bivouacs. Soldiers were never to sleep directly on the ground, meals were to include vegetables, water was to be boiled, and appropriate measures were taken to ensure field sanitation. In an age when skimping on rations meant extra income for the commander, Suvorov held his officers strictly accountable for the welfare of their troops. This concern produced palpable results in the form of decreased mortality and increased readiness rates. It also lowered requirements for training replacements and produced handsome returns in morale, which helped make sense of the system for the soldier, whether veteran or recruit. Denis Davydov, the Russian partisan hero of 1812, once remarked that Suvorov "put his hand on, the heart of the Russian soldier and learned its beat."13

"The Art of Victory" reinforced the overall sense of concern by enjoining officers to "converse with soldiers in their own language." Emphasis fell on practical explanation and demonstration in terms understandable to the average soldier, and it was Suvorov's penchant—possibly a carryover from his own service in the ranks—to spend time with the troops, sharing their jokes and campfires at odd moments while on campaign or hard at work in a training exercise.14

The commander’s visits and his easy familiarity with troops did not imply lax discipline. On the contrary, Suvorov believed that military life as such could not exist without strict discipline and subordination. Suvorov was an avid student of the history of Rome, and he surely realized that the reintroduction of Roman discipline was in some measure responsible for what few advances were possible in an age of stagnant technology. He once noted that, "all constancy of military discipline is based on obedience." He added that, "From obedience comes the careful and easy carrying out of every man's responsibility and his pride in its perfection; and in this there lies the whole essence of military order." He enjoined his troops to dress and act like soldiers and held officers and noncommissioned officers directly responsible for the conduct of their men. Under peacetime conditions, Suvorov expected his men to get on with the local populace, whether in friendly or occupied territory, to adhere strictly to military regulations, and during wartime to maintain the discipline and presence of mind that emphasized mission and spelled success. If a cavalryman during the pursuit stopped to loot a fallen foe, his officer was to shoot him. If a senior officer saw one of his juniors not enforcing the regulations, the junior man was to be placed under immediate arrest.15

The stress on conventional discipline as the soul of military life should not obscure Suvorov's emphasis on enthusiasm and the positive aspects of a systematic approach to training which instilled self-confidence. He recognized .the importance of religious sentiment in reinforcing a common identity and loyalty to shared values. He also realized that attainment of his training objectives rested on the degree to which his methods developed men confident in their own capacities and abilities to succeed, even under the most trying conditions of battle. He ordered his men not to cry out in battle as did the "barbarians," and he restricted officers and noncommissioned officers to shouting orders and his troops to chanting rousing "hurrahs" in unison. What he wanted his soldiers to project both to the enemy and to themselves was a sense of self-contained control, a sense of disciplined will power that led inevitably to victory.16

But how to build self-confidence in men long accustomed to life at the lower ranges of the social scale? Once having assured his men of their welfare and having stressed the importance of discipline and enthusiasm, the next step was to undertake actual training. Explanation was always accompanied by demonstration. And the order of training was always done from the simple to the more complex. The process was to be practical, progressive, and systematic. The new recruit received individual instruction on items of conduct, dress, and toilet. There followed rudimentary introduction to the manual of arms. Then came training in what the Russians called "evolutions and maneuvers," first at the equivalent of squad level, then at platoon and company level. Primary emphasis fell on the ability to change formations, to move from march order into appropriate battle order in the most expeditious manner. Like another eighteenth-century military genius, Marshal Maurice de Saxe, Suvorov no doubt believed that "all the secret of maneuvers lies in the legs." Although Sovorov preached strict adherence to regulations in garrison, in the field he was less concerned with appearance, evenness of step, and glitter, than he was with the troops' ability to move fast and to change formations readily.17

Agility and swiftness derived from physical conditioning, and although Suvorov himself was not of robust physique, he subjected his troops to rigorous conditioning routines. They learned to march rapidly over long distances, to swim, to traverse difficult terrain, to leap over obstacles. With conditioning came endurance and pride of accomplishment. With conditioning also came speed, He ceaselessly trained his soldiers to cover vast distances with little rest. Not surprisingly, rigorous training paid handsome dividends: in 1769 on the way to Brest, his Suzdalers covered 275 miles in 11 traverses, an average march pace of nearly 26 miles per day; in 1799, during the summer heat of the Italian campaign, he once marched nearly 53 miles in 36 hours, then fought a major three-day engagement. Not without reason does Longworth remark that Suvorov "was obsessed with the idea of speed."18

Within the tactical and operational context, this phrase is no exaggeration. The Russian Generalissimo once reminded an Austrian ally, "Money is dear; human life is still dearer; but time is the dearest of all." Suvorov prized speed because it put time on his side and enhanced the possibility of surprise. "One minute," Suvorov asserted, "decides the outcome of a battle, one hour the success of a campaign, one day the fate of empires.... I operate not by hours but by minutes." In "The Art of Victory," he wrote, "The enemy sings, walks about, waits for you from the open field, and you hit him from beyond the steep mountains and silent forests, like snow on the head." At the heart of Suvorov’s tactical system lay the realization that his forces fought "not with numbers but with skill," and that "speed and surprise substituted for numbers [whilel hitting power and blows decided combat." 19

Emphasis on the legs did not imply that Suvorov neglected the manual of arms, only that he required less precise movements in drill with muskets. In addition to being able to shoulder the weapon in an appropriate fashion, Suvorov demanded two things: rapid fire drill and expert bayonet drill. Emphasis fell on rapid fire not because of a concern with fire volume, but because of a concern that soldiers learn to load in the most expeditious manner possible. He wanted his men to fire slowly and accurately. In close-in battle, he counseled that it was better to retain a bullet in the barrel (for emergency) and rely first of all on the bayonet. If three Turks attacked a Russian in battle, he was to bayonet the first, shoot the second and bayonet the third.20

Suvorov's prescription to place maximum faith in the bayonet was well founded, given technology of the times and his conception of spirited, offensive action. Russian soldiers were armed with the .70 caliber smoothbore, flintlock musket, whose rate of fire under ideal circumstances might be three or four shots per minute. Under conditions of genuine fire action, trained formations might retain discipline and coherence for several minutes, after which the noise, smoke, and confusion of battle gradually gained the upper hand, causing fire volume to drop off appreciably. At the same time, firing mechanisms were fragile and effective ranges short. A broken flint or a pause to reload immediately transformed the musket fitted with bayonet into a pike and what had been a fire fight into hand-to-hand combat. Little wonder that an American of the same era, Benjamin Franklin, once seriously proposed equipping the Continental Army with longbows! A cumbersome and fragile technology prompted Suvorov to stress the importance of the bayonet: a soldier must know how to shoot, but in the end cold steel was his most reliable friend. Or as Suvorov put it in language readily understandable for the average soldier, "The bullet’s a fool, the bayonet’s a fine lad."21

Suvorov is often credited with fostering a "cult of the bayonet" which would return to haunt the Russians a century later when M. I. Dragomirov came to stress the importance of cold steel at the expense of tactical and technical innovation. Issues of technological context aside, critics of cold steel tend to ignore the psychological factor. Victory in battle ultimately represents a triumph of will, and there is no better way to demonstrate outright mastery than to dominate physically with cold steel. While no one would argue that modern technology has progressively imposed greater limits on the application of cold steel, even modern soldiers must demonstrate the capacity to impose their collective will on the enemy, if need be at close quarters. Suvorov understood this, the armies of the French Revolution affirmed it, and better trainers still seek to instill the same kind of resolve.22 Like other prophets of training, including Dragomirov and Ardant du Picq, Suvorov was a student of soldier psychology and battle stress.


Less well understood than outright emphasis on cold steel was the degree to which Suvorov also viewed a disciplined resort to fire as an imposition of will. Withholding fire could be more unnerving to the adversary than firing a volley without appreciable effect, which he found only "emboldened the barbarians" who then closed for the kill while Russian soldiers were reloading. When Suvorov's soldiers resorted to bullets, the fire of individuals and formations had to be mutually reinforcing. It also had to be accurate: there was no discharging of weapons with the vague peasant hope that "the bullets would find the guilty ones."23 Suvorov trained each small unit to designate several sharpshooters, whose task it was to fire at will on advancing enemy horsemen and officers. Lest anyone think that Suvorov failed to emphasize the importance of firepower, he ordered his soldiers to carry 100 cartridges each into their engagements in the south steppe. For the eighteenth century, this was a high basic load of ammunition. It was also Suvorov—the commander usually credited with emphasizing the bayonet over the bullet—who said, "Infantry fire leads to victory."24

Emphasis on the complementary nature of firepower and cold steel underscored the importance of the offense in training and practice. Officers and soldiers alike were taught always to think in terms of going forward, of pressing the advantage. For Suvorov, retreat was synonymous with treason. The word was never mentioned in training. Officers who spoke of it directly or in veiled terms were severely upbraided. "A step backward is death," he said. In training there was no alternative to going forward, and this was the expected standard in combat. In battle, he would not even permit one formation to replace another, lest relief be interpreted as permission to withdraw.25

This approach fostered a natural preoccupation with movement and mobility. When engaged or close to engagement, Suvorov insisted that his subordinates keep their formations advancing on the enemy. This gave the soldiers something to think about other than their own fears and presented the enemy with the difficulty of closing with a moving target. At the same time, outside the immediate realm of the battlefield, Suvorov emphasized rapidity of movement, a departure which reinforced his emphasis on speed. During a period of static technology, even incremental improvements might produce decisive results, and this was surely the case with Suvorov's philosophy of mobility. Whenever possible within the parameters of regulations, he ordered a lightening of equipment and uniforms. He wholeheartedly supported Prince G. A. Potemkin's military dress reforms of 1784, which represented a utilitarian departure from earlier experiments with Prussian uniforms. Of course, the object was to reduce maintenance and facilitate rapid movement.26

To attain an acceptable degree of proficiency, training had to be continuous and supervised. For Suvorov, training was a constant concern, regardless of season and circumstance. His men trained in winter and summer. They trained even while on campaign in a ceaseless quest to attain perfection. On cordon duty in small detachments, it was easy for commanders to grow lax in their requirements and for the soldiers to grow dull on daily outpost and guard duty. The antidote was to insist that soldiers drill even in small garrisons. What made them take the antidote was direct officer supervision. Suvorov both exhorted and ordered his officers to take direct interest in training. In an era when officers relegated tedious aspects of troop duty to their sergeants, and when leaders exercised their soldiers only in fair weather, Suvorov's actions represented a substantial departure from contemporary practice.27

In addition to emphasis on progressive and continuous training, Suvorov insisted that training should have focus and utility. Another of his maxims was that "troops be taught only that which was necessary in combat." His practical approach to the manual of arms and rapid loading were clear indications that embellishments were neither necessary nor tolerated. At the same time, he insisted that "every soldier know his maneuver."28 This meant that training should be adequate to teach every man what was crucial for him to perform in combat. Ordinary drill, maneuvers, and exercises were sufficient to impart the most basic combat skills. However, circumstances sometimes required departure from routine, as for example, when encamped before the Turkish fortress at lzmail in 1790, he ordered his engineers to build mockup sections of the fortress walls that his soldiers were to storm. Thanks to careful rehearsal, before Suvorov ever attacked, each man knew his place in the battle order, and each knew his assigned task.29 At best, battle held surprise, and Suvorov's inclination was to use surprise against the enemy while training his men to be proof against the unexpected.


Perhaps the best insurance against the unexpected was rigorous insistence on the pursuit of realism in maneuvers and field exercises. Despite his own physical shortcomings, Suvorov gloried in leading his men into summer exercises, in which they maneuvered in larger formations and in which officers gained experience in using the three combat arms together. During the eighteenth century, Russian military regulations prescribed several kinds of exercises, each of which usually began with deployment from march formation into the battle formation, changing direction of attack or advance, then returning to march formation. In accordance with emphasis on his triad, Suvorov sought accelerated movement to contact, a swift but accurate assessment of the situation, and immediate attack. Day after day, his troops would practice rapid approach marches, deployment from the march either on line or in squares, then advance into attack. Formations and tactics always depended on the nature of the terrain and the anticipated enemy. This flexible approach to deployment Suvorov clearly summed up in his 1778-training instructions to the Crimean and Kuban Corps: "Against regular forces as in the Prussian war, against irregulars as in the last Turkish war."30 Sometimes the exercises were one-sided, with no adversarial force; at other times his troops attacked a simulated enemy.

At its best, however, training approached conditions of real combat in rigorous two-sided exercises pitting one force against another. In this respect, Suvorov's contribution to realism, indeed, the piéce de résistance of his training system, was the "attack through" (skvoznaia ataka). Apparently, he had devised this exercise somewhat later than his experiments with the Suzdal Regiment during the 1760s. From the march he divided his troops into two opposing forces, then ordered them to deploy in formations facing each other 200 to 250 paces (canister range) apart. The two sides commenced to attack each other, stopping at prescribed intervals to fire blank volleys against their mock adversaries and finally launching a headlong bayonet assault. To retain momentum as the combatants approached each other, Suvorov instructed his soldiers not to slow their pace, but at the last moment to step to the right half a pace, raise their weapons, and pass through the narrow gaps in opposing files. A short distance beyond the line of mock contact, the soldiers wheeled about to face their opponents once again. The exercise was repeated until retention of cohesion, momentum, and hitting power became automatic.31

To approximate the conditions of combat as closely as possible, Suvorov often incorporated cavalry and artillery into his "attack through" exercises. The crash of blank cannon fire, the drumming of hoofs, the flash of bayonet and saber, the din and smoke of mock battle—all injected a heavy dose of realism into the exercises. Suvorov believed that there was no better way both to instruct cavalry in the intricacies of attacking infantry and to instill in infantry the necessary steadiness to ward off cavalry.

Realism also multiplied the possibility of danger, and eyewitnesses record injuries and even fatalities resulting from the "attack through" exercises. In 1794, Denis Davydov recorded Suvorov's reaction to his subordinates' concern over the possibility of injuring his troops in training. "God be with them," he muttered, "I will kill four, five, ten men; [but] I will teach four, five, ten thousand."32 Thus, Suvorov accepted the probability of injuries and even fatalities but rationalized costs by asserting that minor losses in today's training would prevent far greater ones in tomorrow’s combat. Indeed, records in which Suvorov repeatedly asserted his concern over his men's welfare reveal that he held their well-being in high regard. Trained soldiers were simply too valuable to lose to noncombat causes. At the same time, however, rigorous training was the best insurance that they would survive in combat and emerge victorious. Far from being the uncaring brute, Suvorov placed his emphasis on the ultimate concern—getting his men through combat successfully.33

Realistic exercises and retrospection provided the opportunity to instruct officers in their roles and missions. He urged his officers to read history and from the past to choose military heroes whose careers were worthy of emulation. For Suvorov, military history was a school for tactical instruction. "Without the beacon of history—tactics gropes in the dark," he said.34 Whether by history of after-action reviews, he emphasized his officers' direct supervisory role in the conduct of training. At the end of each day's exercise, Suvorov would call his officers together, present a common-sense evaluation of the lessons demonstrated, point out areas that needed improvement, and dole out equal quantities of praise and admonition. Although he was never known to be an easy taskmaster, he was unsparing in his praise of those who discharged their duties intelligently and conscientiously.35

The purpose of all the training? The intent was to create disciplined soldiers who took strength from a firm sense of their own identities and loyalties, and who retained confidence in their ability to succeed in combat because they were sure of themselves, their roles, and their leaders. One European military observer summed up the situation in 1799 after observing the Russians train in northern Italy. He said that "the last soldier who falls under [Suvorov's] influence knows in practice and theory his job in combat better than it is known in any European army in peacetime.... And if a man is convinced that surprise is impossible, and if in addition he knows what to do in his own modest sphere—he cannot be defeated, he cannot but be victorious."36 This orientation, when coupled with Suvorov's triad of speed, assessment, and hitting power, went a long way to explain the success of Russian armies which fought under the gnome-like generalissimo who would subsequently become idealized and idolized in Russian and Soviet military history.

And, indeed, the lessons have not been lost on subsequent generations. Those who fought with Suvorov kept his memories and methods alive, if only for a time. By the end of the 1830s, a new generation emerged to relive the master's campaigns and suggest reforms in his spirit. By the 1860s, isolated disciples such as D. A. Miliutin gave way to a whole school of admirers and imitators led by the indefatigable M. I. Dragomirov, one of the great training specialists of modern military history. Although Dragomirov exaggerated the significance of the bayonet under modern battle conditions, he did much to improve the quality of training in a mass-conscript army.37 In 1918, Lenin prescribed that the principal instructional articles of Suvorov’s "Art of Victory" be incorporated into the Handbook of the Red Army Soldier (Knizhka krasnoarmeitsa). Suvorov remained a constant source of inspiration both through the trying period of military modernization in the 1920s and ‘30s and during the maturation of Soviet military art in the Great Patriotic War. His example remains an important point of departure for contemporary specialists on training, including such prominent figures as Colonel General M. A. Gareev.38 And it could hardly be otherwise. In the words of A. A. Komarov, Suvorov's importance lies not only in his emphasis on progressive training and solicitude toward the soldier but also in the stress on simplicity, clarity, and realism. Komarov concludes that, "such aspects of his pedagogical system ... sound fully contemporary."39

The classics are always modern. To understand Suvorov from an American perspective,

it would be as if a single man combined within himself the military-pedagogical attributes of Baron F. W. von Steuben, Francis Marion, and Nathanael Greene, and then demonstrated that the same attributes remain eternally appropriate to modern circumstances.

Such trainers and fighters are the stuff of legend, and indeed, one Russian legend has it that Suvorov never really died, that he rests in a deep sleep to awaken when Russia is threatened by grave military danger. 40 To the extent that response to military challenge in an age of modern, mass armies rests on the ability either to field large numbers of trained soldiers immediately or to create them fast—as in the Soviet Great Patriotic War—perhaps the spirit of Suvorov does live on. Certainly his training principles remain relevant two centuries after his death—and not just for Russians.

Author’s note: I acknowledge assistance in gathering research materials from the Andre L. de Saint-Rat Collection of Russian History and Culture at the King Library of Miami University. All dates are given according to the Julian calendar, which in the eighteenth century lagged behind the Gregorian calendar by eleven days; further, the modified Library of Congress system is used throughout to transliterate Cyrillic characters into Latin equivalents. The phrase, "Train hard, fight easy," is paraphrased from Suvorov and suggested by Philip Longworth, whose The Art of Victory (New York, 1965) remains the standard English-language biography of Suvorov. For a recent and concise treatment of "The Art of Victory" in Russian, readers are referred to M. A. Rakhmatullin’s "Geneeralissimus A. V. Suvorov. Ego iskusstvo pobezhdat," Istoriia SSSR, September-October 1980, pp. 64-90.


1. The origins of the academic and national schools are surveyed in L G. Beskrovnyi, Ocherki po voennoi istoriograffii Rossii (Moscow, 1962). pp. 185-88; see also, Peter von Wahlde, "Military Thought in Imperial Russia," Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, 1966, pp. 115-116.

2. Christopher Duffy, Russia’s Military Way to the West (London, 1981), pp. xiii, 234; Bruce W. Menning, "Russian Military Innovation in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century," Military and Society, May 1984, pp. 24-25, 36-37; cf. A. A. Komarov, "Razvitie takticheskoi mysli v russkoi armii v 60-90-kh godakh XVIIIv, Vestnik Moskovskogo universiteta, seriia 8, Istoriia, No. 3 (1982), pp. 62-63.

3. A. V. Suvorov to I. I. Veimarn, 3 March 1771, G. P. Mescheriakov, editor, A. V. Suvorov, Dokumenty, four volumes (Moscow, 1949-53, vol. I, pp. 366-67; this series remains the most comprehensive collection of primary materials on Suvorov.

4. These assertions are drawn from "The Art of Victory" (Nauka pobezhdat') as reprinted in ibid., vol. III, pp. 501-08, especially p. 508.

5. Nauka pobezhdat' meant literally the "science" of victory; however, the eighteenth-century usage is better translated by the contemporary word art, a preference supported by Rakhmatullin's choice of iskusstvo (art) in the title of the author’s acknowledgment.

6. On the relationship between military art and intellect, see Lee Kennett, "Tactics and Culture: The Eighteenth-Century Experience," International Commission of Military History. ACTA No. 5 (Bucharest 10-17 VIII 1980) (Bucharest, 1981). pp. 152-59.

7. V. A. Zolotarev et al., Vo slavu otechestva Rossiiskogo (Razvitie voennoi mysli i voennogo iskusstva v Rossii vo vtoroi polovine XVIII v.) (Moscow, 1984), pp. 226-31.

8. "Nauka pobezhdat'," Dokumenty, III, pp. 506-07; Bystrota is easily translated as "speed"; glazomer means literally "measure with the eye," or more simply, "estimate" or "assess." Natisk corresponds to"impulsion" in the sense of striking with momentum; here Philip Longworth’s "hitting power" seems a most appropriate translation.

9. Longworth, The Art of Victory, p. 11.

10. L G. Beskrovnyi, Ocherki po istochnikovedeniia voennoi istorii Rossii (Moscow, 1957), pp. 138-39; on the "Suzdal period," see A. Petrushevskii, Generalissimus Kniaz’ Suvorov, three volumes (St. Petersburg, Russia, 1884), vol. I, pp. 41-49.

11. Cf. John Bushnell, "Peasants in Uniform: The Tsarist Army as a Peasant Society," Journal of Social History, Summer 1980, pp. 566-69.

12. "Nauka pobezhdat,'" in Dokumenty, vol. III, p. 508.

13. Quoted in I. Krupchenko, "A. V.,Suvorov i voennoe iskusstvo," Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, 1980, p. 72; see also, "Nauka pobezhdat'," and Order (of A. V. Suvorov), 1774, respectively in Dokumenty, vol. III, p. 507, and vol. I, p. 685.

14. "Nauka pobezhdat'," Dokumenty, vol. III, p. 504, see also John L. H. Keep, Soldiers of the Tsar: Army and Society in Russia 1462-1874 (Oxford, 1985), P. 211.

15. Order of A. V. Suvorov, 18 September 1778, and Instruction of A. V. Suvorov, 12 October 1787, respectively in Dokumenty, vol. II, pp. 122-23 and 354-55.

16. Order of A. V. Suvorov, 21 December 1787, Dokumenty, Vol. II, pp. 374-75.

17. A. A. Komorov, "Velikii polkovodets i pedagog,"Prepodovanie istorii v shkole, June 1980, p. 17; cf., William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force and Society since A.D. 1000 (Chicago, 1982), pp. 132-33.

18. Longworth, The Art of Victory, p. 36; see also N. A. Orlov, "Taktika Suvorova," Suvorov v soobshcheniiakh professorov Nikolaevskoi akademii general'nogo shtaba, two volumes (St. Petersburg, Russia, 1900-01), vol. II, pp. 248, 250.

19. Krupchenko, "A. V. Suvorov i Voennoe iskusstvo," p. 73; see also "Nauka pobezhdat'," Dokumenty, vol. III, p. 506. Rakhmatullin, "Generalissiumus A. V. Suvorov," p. 66; and A. V. Suvorov to G. Bel'gard, 20 May 1799, Dokumenty, vol . IV, p.116.

20. "Nauka pobezhdat'," Dokumenty, vol. III, p. 505.

21. Ibid., vol. III, p. 504; see also Orlov, "Taktika Suvorova," p. 251.

22. Thomas V. Moseley, "Evolution of the American Civil War Infantry Tactics," Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina, 1967, pp. 214-15.

23. Order of A. V. Suvorov, June 1770, Dokumenty, vol. I, p. 271.

24. A. V. Suvorov to N. A. Zubov, 26 May 1788, Dokumenty, vol.II, p. 410.

25. A. N. Kochetkov, "Takticheskie vigliady A. V. Suvorova," in Razvitie taktiki russkoi armii, compiled by D. V. Pankov (Moscow, 1957), pp. 89-90; "Nauka pobezhdat',"Dokumenty, vol. III, p. 502.

26. A. V. Suvorov to V. S. Popov, 11 October 1787, Dokumenty, vol. II, pp. 347-48; Order to Kuban Corps, 16 May 1777, Dokumenty, vol. II, p. 64.

27. Order of A. V. Suvorov, 9 December 1771, Dokumenty, vol. I, p. 474.

28. "Nauka pobezhdat'," Dokumenty vol. III, p. 504.

29. I. I. Rostunov, "Shturm lzmaila," Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, December 1965, p. 114.

30. A. I. Gippius, compiler, Obrazovanie (obuchenie) voisk in Stoletie VoennogoMinisterstva, edited by D. A. Skalon, 48 parts in 13 volumes (St. Petersburg, Russia, 1902-14), vol. IV, part 1, book 2, section 3, p. 118; in "Nauka pobezhdat'," Dokumenty, vol. III, p. 505, the phrase is "by line against regulars, by squares against the infidels."

31. M. A. Gareev. Obshchevoiskovye ucheniia (Moscow, 1983), pp. 31-32; "Nauka pobezhdat'," Dokumenty, vol. III, pp. 502-03.

32. Denis Davydov, Voennye zapiski (Moscow, 1982), p. 32.

33. See, for example, Order of A. V. Suvorov, 1792, Dokumenty, vol. III, pp. 74-75.

34. Quoted in Krupchenko, "A. V. Suvorov i voennoe iskusstvo," p. 72.

35. Gareev, pp. 29-30.

36. Quoted in ibid., p. 35.

37. L. A. Zaitsev, "Voenno-pedagogicheskie vzgliady M. I. Dragomirova," Voenno-istoricheheskii zhurnal, September 1995, pp. 72-73.

38. Krupchenko, "A. V. Suvorov i voennoe iskusstvo," p. 71; Gareev, p. 29.

39. Komorov, "Velikii polkovodets i pedagog," p. 16.

40. N. Orlov, "Suvorov—russkii voennyi deiatel'," in Suvorov v soobshcheniiakh professorov Nikolaevskoi akademii general’nogo shtaba, vol. II, p. 309; see also Keep, Soldiers of the Tsar, p. 212.


Bruce W. Menning (B.A., St. John's University; M.A. and Ph.D., Duke University) is Director of the Soviet Army Studies Officer, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Before serving in 1984-85 as the John F. Morrison Professor of Military History at the Army Command and General Staff College, Dr. Menning was a Military Historian for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, an action officer for the Joint Operations Division, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and an Associate Professor of History at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of numerous articles and has recently completed a book-length study.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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