Prince Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov (1782–1856), was a Russian prince and field-marshal, renowned for his success in the Napoleonic wars, and most famous for leading the Russian invasion of the Caucasus from 1844 to 1853.
The son of Count Semon Vorontsov, he spent his childhood and youth with his father in London, where he received a brilliant education. During 1803–1804 he served in the Caucasus under Pavel Tsitsianov and Gulyakov, and was nearly killed in the Zakatahko disaster (January 15, 1804). From 1805 to 1807 he served in the Napoleonic wars, and was present at the battles of Pultusk and Friedland. From 1809 to 1811 he participated in the Russo-Turkish War and distinguished himself in nearly every important action.
He commanded the composite grenadiers division in Prince Petr Bagration's Second Western Army during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. At the battle of Borodino his division was in the front line and was attacked by three French divisions under Marshal Davout. Vorontsov led several counter-attacks, sword in hand. Of the 4,000 men in his division only 300 survived the battle. Vorontsov was wounded, but recovered to rejoin the army in 1813. He commanded a new grenadiers division and fought at the battle of Dennewitz and the battle of Leipzig. In 1814, at Craonne, he brilliantly held out for a day against Napoléon in person. He was the commander of the corps of occupation in France from 1815 to 1818.
On 7 May 1823 he was appointed governor-general of New Russia, as the southern provinces of the empire were then called, which under his administration developed marvellously. He may be said to have been the creator of Odessa and the benefactor of the Crimea. He was the first to start steamboats on the Black Sea in 1828. The same year saw the start of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829 and Vorontsov succeeded the wounded Menshikov as commander of the forces besieging Varna, which he captured on 28 September 1828. In the campaign of 1829 it was through his energetic efforts that the plague, which had broken out in Turkey, did not penetrate into Russia.
In 1844 Vorontsov was appointed commander-in-chief and governor of the Caucasus with plenipotentiary powers. For his campaign against Shamil, and especially for his difficult march through the dangerous forests of Chechnya, he was raised to the dignity of prince, with the title of Serene Highness. By 1848 he had captured two-thirds of Daghestan, and the situation of the Russians in the Caucasus, so long almost desperate, was steadily improving. In the beginning of 1853 Vorontsov was allowed to retire because of his increasing infirmities. He was made a field-marshal in 1856, and died the same year at Odessa. Statues have been erected to him both there and at Tiflis.
- Gammer, Moshe. Muslim Resistance to the Tsar: Shamil and the Conquest of Chechnia and Daghestan. Frank Cass & Co., London, 1994. ISBN 071463431X.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.