Polish–Russian War of 1792


The Russo-Polish War of 1792 is a war between the Russian Empire and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which resulted from the first partition of Poland and Russia”s disagreement with the introduction of the Constitution of May 3 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

On the 14th of May 1792 in a small town of Targowica near Umania big Polish magnates, dissatisfied with the new constitution of the Commonwealth of Poland, passed on the 3d of May 1791, formed the so called Targowica szlachytska confederation, and Stanislaw Szczęsny Potocki was elected marshal of the confederation. His main assistants were the crown hetman Francis Xavier Branicki and the Polish crown hetman Seweryn Rzewuski, who in proportion to their posts had a nominal command over the whole crown army. At first the confederation consisted of the kashtelan of Przemysl prince Antony Chetvertinsky, chorunzha Adam Moschensky of Bratslav, Yan Suchorzhevsky of voivodship, colonel Michael Kobyletsky, Jan Zagorski of Vladimir, Antoniy Polikarp Zlotnitski of Chervonograd, the Polish clerk of Lithuania Yuri Vielgorski, Jan Svejkovski of Podolia, and Frantisek Gulevich of Chernigov.

The Targowicka Confederation stood for the abolition of the Polish constitution and the restoration of all the former feudal orders in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Those who disobeyed the Targowicka Confederation were declared enemies of the fatherland. The tribunals, commissions and all kinds of judicial institutions created by the supporters of the new constitution and acting in Poland were considered abolished. In their place, confederation courts were established to judge state crimes, that is, the reluctance to join the confederation. Following the main confederation, provincial confederations were formed, with the active support of the Russian troops, by individual voivodeships, with voivodeship marshals and advisors. The four-year Sejm, which adopted a new constitution on May 3, 1791, was declared illegal and violent. The act of drafting the constitution on May 3 was called a conspiracy. The Confederation issued its own universals against the Polish constitution.

Already in July 1791 Potocki submitted to Potemkin a note about the plan to make a confederation against the constitution on May 3 and asked for the help of the Russian empress. Catherine II, busy at that time with the war with Turkey, did not dare to oppose the constitution sharply and decisively. Russian envoy to Rzeczpospolita Bulgakov was only instructed to select a party loyal to Russian interests among the Polish nobles. After the conclusion of peace with Turkey by Catherine II, Potocki and Rzewuski arrived in St. Petersburg and had a secret meeting in March 1792. It was decided that the magnates dissatisfied with the constitution would form a confederation, and that the empress would send her troops to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The whole affair was conducted in deep secrecy: the Polish envoy in St. Petersburg, Deboli, only heard that something was being plotted against the constitution. Having been authorized by Catherine II to make a confederation, Potocki and Rzewuski left for Podolia.

On May 14, 1792, in Torgovitsa, they founded a confederation, and on May 18, Bulgakov handed to the Polish government a declaration in which the constitution of May 3, 1791, was pointed out as the occasion for the rupture between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the neighboring states and “true patriots” were called upon “to assist the generous efforts of the empress” to “return to the Commonwealth of Poland freedom and legality”. On the day of the delivery of the declaration, according to the calculation drawn up in advance, Russian troops entered the borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

In the Rzeczpospolita, the government was reformed on the principles of the Constitution of May 3 and an army was created according to the European model. The number of the army, formally 100,000, was about 70,000, which at that time was a serious force.

The army was divided into two parts: the crown and the Lithuanian. The first numbered 60,000 men, the second 20,000, including infantry – 50,000 and cavalry – about 30,000 men. There were about 200 cannons. It was a significant force for that time, but, being scattered over vast areas from Courland to the Right Bank, it was not able to act effectively. This army had not been properly trained, the regiments were incomplete, consisting of one battalion instead of two. About 50,000 men went into battle.

The Lithuanian army was commanded by Lieutenant-General, Duke Ludwig of Wurttemberg, a man without ability, who acted in secret coordination with the Prussian government. After his resignation on account of illness, Lieutenant-General Jozef Juditsky was appointed commander of the army. The army itself was located near Minsk.

The crown army was commanded by a major general, Prince Jozef Poniatowski, a native nephew of the Polish King Stanislaw August Poniatowski. The future hero of Leipzig in that war did not trust himself or his abilities, which he confessed in his letters to the king. The Polish army, divided into three divisions, was located in right-bank Ukraine (in Bratslav and Kiev provinces):

Formally under the command of Jozef Poniatowski there was a Polish garrison in the fortress of Kamyanets-Podilsky, headed by the commandant, Major-General Jozef Orlovsky (3374 men). However, Kamenets garrison did not participate in military operations and by order of the Polish King Stanislaw Poniatowski surrendered to the Russian army.

Russian Imperial Army

The Russian Imperial Army exceeded the enemy in the number of armed forces, reaching up to 96,000, and the command. It was divided into two parts: the Belarusian – 32 000, commanded by General-in-Chief Michael Nikitich Krechetnikov, and the Moldavian – 64 000, commanded by General-in-Chief Michael Vasilievich Kahovsky, gathered in Moldavia and Bessarabia. The former was part of Lithuania and the latter of Podolia and Volhynia.

The plan of military operations for the Russian army was drawn up by German Quartermaster-General Jacob Pistor. According to this plan both armies were divided into four corps. They were to act simultaneously and, invading deep into Poland, surround the Polish army and force it to lay down its arms. The Byelorussian army was to advance on the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (Byelorussia and Lithuania), the Moldovan army on the Polish Ukraine. Pistor”s instructions to Kachowski stated that if the Poles, due to weakness, began to retreat in advance, the Moldovan army would join with the Belarusian army, cutting off the Bratslav and Kiev provinces, interacting with the latter, would march on Warsaw to seize it and disperse the Sejm.

On May 18, 1792 a 64-thousand Russian army, led by General-in-Chief Michael Kakhovsky, assembled in Moldavia and Bessarabia, moved into the Polish Ukraine.

The Moldovan army of General-in-Chief Michael Kakhovsky was divided into four large corps:

The first corps of the Russian army had 22,000 infantry and 1,600 cavalry, the second corps had 13,100 infantry and 4,300 cavalry, the third corps had 6,600 infantry and 4,600 cavalry, the fourth corps had 8,100 infantry and 3,500 cavalry.

The Belorussian army, commanded by General-in-Chief Mikhail Nikitich Krechetnikov, was also divided into four large corps:

Despite such a plan and the preponderance of Russian forces, Poland”s position was not hopeless. The Russian forces, divided into several columns, occupied a huge space from Kiev to Dinaburg, but both commanders were retreating by royal order. And when they found themselves on the Bug, they learned that the king had joined Targovitsa.

Actions of the Moldovan army

By the beginning of the campaign, in April, reports were received of the disposition of the Polish forces near Tyvrov, Nemiroff, Bratslav, and Tulchin. According to the plan of General-in-Chief Mikhail Kakhovsky, the main forces of the Russian army, consisting of the Corps of Lieutenant-General Mikhail Kutuzov and Lieutenant-General Ivan Dunin, were to invade Poland from the Dniester and act against the Poles, trying to cover them from the right flank, while the Corps of Lieutenant-General Wilhelm Derfelden was to move through Olviopol to the left flank of the Polish army, while the Corps of Lieutenant-General Andrey Levanidov act against the rear of the enemy.

Russian commander in chief Mikhail Kakhovsky ordered Wilhelm von Derfelden to draw the enemy”s attention to the Olviopol side. Derfelden crossed the Polish border at Olviopol and, bypassing the enemy, moved to Uman. Wilhelm Derfelden”s corps had with it the main leaders of the confederation (Stanislaw Szczęsny Potocki, Francis Xavier Branicki and Seweryn Rzewuski), who, with the support of the Russian army, were to eliminate the new constitution and restore the former order in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Lieutenant-Generals Ivan Dunin and Mikhail Kutuzov, together with their corps, crossed the Dniester on May 8 and moved, making great marches, into the interior of the Polish possessions. Mikhail Kutuzov”s corps, with General-in-Chief Mikhail Vasilievich Kakhovsky himself, went through Shargorod and Bratslav to Vinnitsa, against the enemy”s extreme right flank. Ivan Dunin”s corps marched through Tomashpil and Shpikov to Rogozna on the Bug.

The fourth corps of Lieutenant General Andrei Levanidov, moving from Vasilkov, was to act against the division of Tadeusz Kostiushka, break it and advance through Berdichev and Makhnovka to Vinnitsa, to join with the corps of Mikhail Kutuzov.

The main forces of the crown army under Lieutenant General Jozef Antonius Poniatowski were at Tyrowrow, Nemirow, Bratslav, and Tulchin. The first Ukrainian division, led by Major-General Tadeusz Bonaventure Kosciuszko, stood at Letychiv, and the second Ukrainian division, led by Lieutenant-General Michael Wielgorski, was stationed at Bershadia. The Polish commander-in-chief, Prince Jozef Poniatowski, realizing the danger of his position and therefore not engaging in a decisive battle, began to retreat extremely quickly deep into Poland, into Volhynia to Polonnoe. The divisions of Michał Wielgorski and Tadeusz Kościuszka left their positions on the border and began to hastily retreat to join the main forces. The retreating Polish divisions began to lose fighting spirit. Several detachments (300-400 men) sent out by the Polish command to gather information were one by one slaughtered by the Russians.

Mikhail Kutuzov and Ivan Dunin with their corps began to pursue the retreating Polish army. Lieutenant General Andrzej Lewanidow, who marched with his corps from Vasylków, pursued Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who with his division hurried to unite with Poniatowski”s main forces. The general-in-chief Michael Kakhovsky connected the corps of Kutuzov and Dunin near Litin, sent two regiments of Cossacks to Levandov in Chudnov “to secure communications” and moved with them against the enemy”s right flank towards Chmielnik, while Wilhelm Derfelden moved to Pogrebyshche, threatening the Poles” left flank. Acting in this way, Mikhail Kakhovsky forced the enemy to retreat to Lubar. The Russian army continued its offensive, threatening the Poles with detours.

The Polish troops, weary of retreating, were forced to halt for a time near Lubar. Many Polish panes, together with their families, abandoned their estates and fled to Austrian Galicia. On 31 May, at Pikowo, Jozef Poniatowski joined the main forces of the Wielgorski and Kosciuszki divisions.

Lieutenant-General Mikhail Golenishchev-Kutuzov, separated from the main force, joined the corps of Andrei Levandov, heading through Chudnovo to Miropolye, to act against the rear of the enemy.

On June 1-2 Mikhail Kakhovsky with his main forces moved from Chmielnik through Staraya Siniava and Ostropol to cross the Sluch River at that town and attack the Polish troops. At the same time Major-General Irakly Morkov with four battalions and twelve squadrons was ordered to move on the Polish troops, standing near Lubar, to conceal the attack of the main forces of the Russian army on Ostropol. Wilhelm Derfelden and his corps were positioned near Pogrebyszcz to cover the rear and provide communications for the army, as well as to support the Targowice noble confederation, which was relocated to Uman on June 3.

Having crossed at Ostropole, General-in-Chief Michael Kakhovsky with the main forces of the Russian army set out on June 3 for Vyshnepil, to attack the Polish troops near Lubar, with Andrei Levandov to block the Poles” way to Polonnoye. However, the Polish commander-in-chief Józef Poniatowski, having sent Tadeusz Kostiushka”s division near Chartoria for a demonstrative purpose (to threaten Andrzej Levanidow”s communications), himself moved his troops quickly in three columns through Chartoria, Boryshkovichi and Derevichi near Polonnoe, aiming to pre-empt the Russian troops. Andrei Levanidov with his corps was already preparing to move from Miropol to Polonnoe to seize the city. Having learned about the movement of Tadeusz Kostuszka”s Polish division to Chartoria, Andrzej Lewanidow succumbed to the fear of being attacked from the front by Poniatowski and from the rear by Kostuszka. Andrei Levanidov and his corps remained near Miropolis. Due to the movement of Kostyushka”s division to Czartory, Lieutenant-General Jozef Poniatowski and part of the Polish army arrived in Polonnoye unhindered, but the remaining columns could not escape from the pursuit of the Russians.

At three o”clock in the morning of June 4, Michael Kakhovsky moved his troops in two columns to bypass the right flank of the Polish army. During the march it became clear that the enemy stretched down the bank of the river Sluch to Chartory, having separated up to four thousand infantry to cover the march and occupy the crossings on the way to Polonnoe, and ten squadrons to cover the town of Lubar, the camp and field warehouses. When the advanced detachments of the Russian army approached, the warehouses were burned by the enemy. Then Mikhail Kakhovsky sent both columns to the villages Dizhivschizna and Dinkovtsy, where they quickly built two bridges over the river Bezdonnaya Krynitsa and repaired the dam. The enemy, due to the bypass of his right flank, retreated. Advance detachments of Russian troops pursued the Poles, who retreated with a loss of 227 men.

Meanwhile, the Polish infantry of the left column was spotted, covering the transport and another part of the depots. Mikhail Kakhovsky sent against it Major-General Irakly Morkov with Yekaterinoslav jaeger regiment. Most of the convoy was captured by the Russians, while the other rushed to the nearest Polish column, Major-General Michael Vielgorski. The Poles were pushed back by the Russians to the village of Derevichi, and when they began to retreat, under the weight of the carts and guns, the bridge on the causeway over a long dam collapsed. Behind the Polish army the detachments under the command of Brigadier Vasily Orlov and Major-General Alexander Tormasov (two regiments of Cossacks, twenty squadrons of light cavalry and two battalions of huntsmen) moved. Near the village of Derevichi the Russians caught up with the Poles and defeated them. They lost 981 killed, seven cannons, a considerable number of various weapons, a mobile store with bread and part of the treasury. The Russians lost 98 men dead. The Poles” losses would have been greater if Lieutenant-General Andrey Levanidov and his corps had blocked their way to Polonnoe.

The defeat at Derevichi finally undermined the morale of the retreating Polish army. Jozef Poniatowski entered Polonnoe, where the supplies were located. He fortified this place and the position near it and planned to keep the advancing Russian army here, but due to the loss of spirits in the Polish forces after the battle at Derevichi, the disorderly retreat and other circumstances, and in view of the decisive advance into the interior of the Polish territory of Mikhail Kakhovsky”s Russian army, Jusef Poniatowski abandoned the original plan. The Polish commander-in-chief sent part of the supplies to Zaslavl, and set fire to the remaining supplies. On June 6, at dawn, Polish troops left Polonnoe and marched on Zaslavl. The retreat of the main forces was covered by a rearguard under the command of Major-General Tadeusz Kostiushka. On June 6 Mikhail Kakhovsky, at the head of the Russian army, entered the town of Polonnoe, where the Russians captured forty-five cannons. Jozef Poniatowski with the Polish army positioned near Shepetivka and drew part of Prince Michail Lubomirski”s corps to Zelenets (Zhilinets).

To pursue the enemy, General-in-Chief Mikhail Kakhovsky sent the first detachment under Major-General Sheremetev, which caught up with the Poles with difficulty, as it was delayed by damaged bridges. Then a second detachment under the command of Major General Irakli Morkov was put forward to bypass the Poles through Zelentsy and to flank them. Irakli Morkov quickly moved and on June 7 at dawn at seven o”clock arrived at Zelentsy. By this time Prince Jozef Poniatowski had managed to put the Polish troops into battle order, reinforced by the divisions of Lieutenant-General Prince Michal Lubomirski, Major-General Ludwig Trokin and Major-General Joseph Zajączek.

On June 7 (18), 1792, at the battle of Zelentsy, Russian troops defeated the Polish army. The 8-thousandth Russian corps of Major-General Irakly Morkov struck directly into the center of the Polish army, defeating and putting to flight battalions of Lubomirski and Potocki. After that Irakly Morkov sent cavalry (two regiments of Hussars and one regiment of Cossacks) to the left wing of the Polish army. Russian Hussars and Cossacks broke through the first row of Polish cavalry, but the second row, led by Major-General Stanislaw Mokronowski, repulsed the attack and forced the Russian cavalry to retreat with losses. At 6 o”clock Józef Poniatowski and the Polish army began a hasty retreat towards Zaslavl. Almost at the same time Major-General Tadeusz Kosciuszko and his division also approached, who, in turn, engaged in an indecisive battle with part of Major-General Irakli Morkow”s advance corps, and then retreated into the woods and joined Jozef Poniatowski by roundabout routes on June 8. In the battle at Zelentsy the Poles lost at least 800 men, not counting the wounded, and two guns, while the Russians lost 730 men.

On June 9 the Targovitsa Confederation arrived in Tulchin, following the advance of the Russian army. Provincial confederations were established in the Podolsk, Kiev and Bratslav provinces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth occupied by Russian troops, together with their own marshals and commissars. The members of the Targowick Confederation: Francis Hulewicz, Antonius Chetvertinsky, Adam Moszczynski, and others, dispersed throughout the southern Polish provinces, attracting the nobility to the confederation. The Targowicka confederation was engaged in the formation of a new Polish army.

Already at the end of June two regiments of the confederation were created under the leadership of General Wojciech Jozef Rudnicki. During the war General Rudnicki defected to the Russian side, swore an oath to the confederation, and was appointed general of the Targowicki confederation of Polish troops being formed. Baron Karl Jakovlevich Bühler, an authorized representative of the Russian empress, was at the confederation.

Meanwhile, Duke Jozef Poniatowski, having amassed under Zaslavl the 23-thousand Polish army, decided to continue his retreat and hoped to put the Russian army following him between two fires, for which he advanced with a 17-thousand army to Ostrog, directing Duke Michail Lubomirsky with a 6-thousand corps to Kunev. Józef Poniatowski and Michal Lubomirski feuded with each other and retreated separately along different roads. On June 9 Mikhail Kakhovsky, at the head of the Russian army, entered Zaslavl. Prince Jozef Poniatowski sent his aides to Kakhovsky from Ostrog to Zaslavl, offering the Russian commander-in-chief an armistice for four weeks. Mikhail Kakhovsky, however, announced that he would continue his military action against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until the Polish constitution was abolished on May 3. Nevertheless, the Poles gained some time through negotiations, as Mikhail Kakhovsky did not leave Zaslavl until June 14.

Since then Michail Kachowski decided to threaten the left flank of the Polish army, with the aim of cutting off Józef Poniatowski from the Polish provinces and, under favorable conditions, to drive him back to the Austrian border, to Galicia. Therefore Mikhail Kakhovsky did not pay attention to the movement of the 6-thousand corps of Mikhail Lubomirsky to Kunev and moved with the main forces to Ostrog, directing the corps of Lieutenant-General Ivan Dunin to Chernyakhov, and the corps of Lieutenant-General Andrey Levandov to Gushcha, in order to cross the Horyn River near these places and attack the Polish army on its strong position near Ostrog or encircle it from the left flank.

Polish troops under the command of Prince Jozef Poniatowski were located on unapproachable steeps and heights, the access to which was hindered by swamps and streams. In addition, half of Ostrog itself, convenient for defense, was fortified and occupied by artillery and infantry. When Mikhail Kakhovsky and his Cossacks arrived, at 6 o”clock in the afternoon, the battle with the enemy”s advanced units, who had hurried to retreat to Ostrog, was begun. The battle resumed until evening, but without any success for the Poles. Russian troops involved in the battle, spent the night in the fighting order, and others – on the way, as not all the forces have not yet arrived: it was necessary to pass 30 versts of woods.

On the morning of June 15, Polish troops were seen, who had built four batteries on the heights, approached the Catholic monastery of Menzirchichi, surrounded by a rampart, and intended to block the Russian crossing. Mikhail Kakhovsky sent Major-General Irakly Morkov with two infantry and three cavalry regiments with ten guns to drive the enemy out and knock down his batteries, but Morkov”s actions were to have the meaning of demonstration, as Ivan Dunin and Andrey Levandov with their corps were confirmed to go as quickly as possible to Chernyakhov and Guscha, to speed up the crossing of the Horyn and attack the Poles from the flank and rear. The actions of Iraklij Morkow led only to the retreat of the enemy to his main camp. During the night, Jozef Poniatowski received information that Ivan Dunin”s light corps had already crossed the Horyn near Czerniachów and that his other troops were preparing to follow them. Because of the approach of Ivan Dunin”s corps and the lack of ammunition, Prince Jozef Poniatowski refused to further defend the positions at Ostrog and in the morning of June 16 retreated to Dubno. General-in-Chief Michael Kakhovsky immediately ordered the restoration of bridges on the Viliya River and in the evening of June 16, without resistance took Ostrog. Russian commander in chief gave a short rest to the Russian troops, and then all night pursued the Polish troops to the village of Urvan. Mikhail Kakhovsky ordered Lieutenant-General Ivan Dunin, who had crossed the Goryn near Chernyakhov, with his corps “to follow hastily” to do the same from the left flank. Russian pursued the Poles to Varkovichi. The Poles suffered quite significant losses, while the Russians lost only 12 men dead.

At this time displeasure and discord broke out in the Polish army. Prince Michael Lubomirski, the owner of Dubno, did not prepare apartments in the town for the Polish army. This caused irritation and discontent among the Polish soldiers. The Polish commander-in-chief, Prince Józef Antoni Poniatowski, who received secret letters from the Polish King Stanislaw August Poniatowski, continued to avoid decisive battles with Russian troops and retreated deep into Polish territory.

During the Russian-Polish war, the Ukrainian population showed full sympathy for the Russian soldiers and saw them as their liberators from Polish-Lithuanian rule. Prince Jozef Poniatowski reported to the king that Ukrainian peasants delivered fresh produce to the Russians and showed obvious affection for Moscow. Tadeusz Kościuszko complained that no spies could be found in the Russian lands to find out about the state of the Russian army and that the enemy could have loyal agents everywhere. On June 16, the Bielsk civil commission wrote to the Polish government that the villeins were ready to rise in a new uprising and asked them not to withdraw their troops from their territory, otherwise the Russian army would slaughter all the Catholics in one day. In his notes, Major-General Joseph Zajączek lamented that the Poles did not ravage the Ukrainian lands at that time, just as their ancestors had once done.

The Polish commander-in-chief Józef Antoni Poniatowski and Prince Michal Lubomirski, having quarreled with each other, not only retreated along different roads as the Russian army approached, but, continuing their retreat and reaching Vladimir-Volynsky, they positioned themselves separately from each other. Józef Poniatowski with the main forces of the Polish army positioned himself near Volodymyr-Volynsk, and Prince Michail Lubomirski with his 6-thousand corps camped near the village of Werba.

Meanwhile, the Russian troops were mostly held up by a significant number of rivers, on which the Poles had destroyed bridges. On June 17, Ivan Dunin-Borkovsky and Andrey Levanidov were building bridges across the river Horyn. After crossing the river and continuing to cover the Polish troops in Dubno, Lieutenant-General Andrey Levanidov with the corps was sent through Rivne and Kivan under Mihov, and Lieutenant-General Ivan Dunin-Borkovsky with the corps through Varkovichi to Dubno, maintaining contact with Michael Kakhovsky. The main forces of the Russian army positioned near the village of Urvani, where Mikhail Kakhovsky gave the troops a rest June 18-19 in order to pull up the lagging convoys.

On June 20, General-in-Chief Mikhail Kakhovsky and Lieutenant-General Ivan Dunin-Borkovsky approached Dubno, after which it was supposed to attack the enemy the next day. But on June 21 it turned out that the Poles, having broken the bridges, retreated from Dubno at night, leaving a mounted rearguard to cover them. Two Cossack and then two more light horse regiments were sent to pursue the Poles. From June 17 to 21, 60 Poles were taken prisoner, and in Dubno “a considerable amount of provisions and ammunition” was captured. Russian troops, having occupied Dubno, positioned themselves near the villages of Khorupani and Ivani. Mikhail Kakhovsky gave his troops two days rest, and only June 23 made a move from the outskirts of Dubno, to catch up with the retreating Polish troops, through Krasnoe and Lokachi to Vladimir. Andrei Levanidov moved from Mihov through Kovel to Luboml. From June 23 to 25, the Russians captured 115 Poles. On June 25, a wagon train of forty wagons was captured.

On June 25 in Lokache the news was received that the Poles were encamped on the heights behind the Luga River near Vladimir and that they, “being in great fear, hasten to send their convoys to cross the Bug at Dubenka”. Michael Kakhovsky, giving 10-hour rest to the troops, moved at 11 am and at 4 am on June 26 arrived at Vladimir-Volynsky with the cavalry. On receiving a report about the approach of his infantry with artillery, Mikhail Kakhovsky ordered the Cossacks to make a reconnaissance of the suburb. The Poles did not wait for the Russian attack and began to quickly retreat to the bridge over the swamp on the way to Dubenka, leaving some infantry to spoil the bridge and the dam on the Luga River, which was soon overturned and broken, and all the bridges were restored. The Russian troops were preparing to march on Volodymyr-Volynsky to position themselves there for rest, when suddenly the troops of Prince Michael Lubomirsky, whom Poniatowski had not let know of his retreat and who moved to fire shots, appeared on the right flank. After a short battle, having lost up to 200 men, a transport with the treasury, tents and ammunition, Mikhail Lubomirski quickly retreated to the Bug. The Russian troops encamped on both banks of the Luga River. After his defeat, Lieutenant General Mikhail Lubomirsky relinquished command and left for Warsaw.

Polish troops, having retreated across the Bug River, had to defend the line of that river, leaving the Ukrainian provinces to the Russians and protecting the original Polish lands. Polish troops positioned themselves along this line for defense. General-in-Chief Michael Kakhovsky, at the head of the Russian army, occupied Volodymyr-Volynsk, where the leaders of the Targovitsa Confederation soon arrived. Mikhail Kakhovsky formed a provincial Volyn confederation, which joined the Targovitsa confederation. This slowed the movement of the Russian army and gave the Poles an opportunity to strengthen their defenses. Small Cossack detachments were sent before the front of the Russian army before July 3, and on July 3 the Russian army, led by Mikhail Kakhovsky, marched from Vladimir-Volynsky to the Bug River, Major-General Alexander Tormasov with his detachment stood in Torcha (Turchany), and Lieutenant-General Andrey Levanidov with his corps was in Luboml. News was received that Polish troops were burning bridges and ferries, spoiling fords, and fortifying their positions. The Polish commander-in-chief Józef Poniatowski with the main forces of the army camped near Dorogusk, from where he sent a division of Major-General Michael Wielgorski to Opalin, and a division of Major-General Tadeusz Kostiushka to Kladniew. Jozef Poniatowski hoped that all the main forces of the Russian army would advance on Dorohusk. On July 5 all the Russian troops approached the Bug. On July 6 the Russian army proceeded to the crossing at Kladniew. It was here that the Russian commander-in-chief, Mikhail Kakhovsky, went to conduct a reconnaissance.

The Poles, who had built fortifications on both banks of the river, opened fire, but the approaching jaegers with artillery forced them to stop the exchange of fire. The main forces of the Russian army began to prepare for the crossing to the other bank. Corps led by Major-General Alexander Tormasov and Lieutenant-General Andrey Levanidov stood ready in Turchany and Luboml to cross the river and encircle the Polish troops on both flanks here. The Polish army was encamped near Dubenka. The Poles burned out the ferries and threw sharp-toothed harrows into the water to spoil the horses, to prevent the Russian troops from crossing the river. Polish troops positioned themselves along the Bug River from the Austrian border at the village of Wola to Wlodawa. Major General Tadeusz Kosciuszko and his division stood from Wola to Dubenka, Prince Jozef Poniatowski with his main forces positioned from Dubenka to Sverzhow, and Major General Michael Wielgorski and his division stood from Sverzhow to Wlodawa.

On July 6, 1792 Russian troops under Polish fire began to cross to the other bank of the Bug River. First, the huntsmen found two ferries that had not had time to burn out completely and dragged them to the right bank. After that the crossing began. The Cossacks crossed by swimming. Six squadrons of Polish cavalry, standing a mile from the crossing, were defeated and overturned. The Russians quickly built a pontoon bridge, over which the army began to cross. The advanced Russian corps crossed the Bug and settled at Dubenka. The next day [General-in-Chief Michael Kakhovsky ordered to attack the Polish troops. Major-General Tadeusz Kosciuszko and his division (7-8 thousand men) occupied a strong position, which adjoined the right flank of the village of Wola, near the Austrian border, and the left flank of the village of Uhanka on the Bug. The position was fortified by batteries, fleches, and chants.

On July 7 (18), 1792 the battle of Dubenka took place. Early in the morning, General-in-Chief Michael Vasilyevich Kakhovsky left for the reconnaissance of the Polish position with Cossacks and jaegers. Well fortified position of the Poles did not embarrass the commander in chief, who relied on the courage and numerical superiority of the Russian troops. At 3 o”clock in the afternoon Kakhovsky moved to attack the Russian advanced troops in three columns, which were met with fire from the Polish artillery. Mikhail Kakhovsky sent Saltykov with two battalions of lagers and Orlov with three regiments of Cossacks to the left toward Wola, to knock out of the forest the light troops, which were in front of the right flank of the Poles. The other two battalions of huntsmen with two Cossack regiments were sent to the right toward Uhanka. Brazhnikov was ordered to place a battery of twenty guns under the cover of Zubov”s grenadiers, and behind them was to be Major-General Irakly Morkov with the cavalry. Then, when the troops of Lieutenant-General Ivan Dunin approached, twelve of his guns became to the right of Brazhnikov”s battery, and Dunin-Borkovsky himself with six battalions, twenty-four guns and eleven squadrons of cavalry went to the right, against the left Polish wing. Moving forward in this order, the Russian army was met by the fire of all the Polish artillery, which, however, was too scattered, and therefore the fire of the Russian guns quickly suppressed it. Taking advantage of this, Major-General Vasily Krasno-Milaszewicz, who commanded the left wing infantry, sent five companies of grenadiers against the Chancers. Grenadiers, sneaking through the swamp, took three Chants, and almost at the same time Fanagorians broke the left wing of the Poles and captured all of its fortifications at Uhanka. Thus, the left flank and center of the Polish army were defeated. Then Mikhail Kakhovsky ordered Colonel Palmenbach with Yelizavetgrad mounted jaegers to seize the fortifications of the right flank of the Poles, covering his way of retreat. Cavalry jaegers captured two Chants, but at this time was killed by Colonel E. I. Palmenbach. Occupation of the Polish Chants somewhat upset the ranks of the attackers, and they were attacked by fresh Polish cavalry of Velevejski. Yelizavetgrad cavalry jaegers were overturned, but soon joined up with the light horse squadrons of Kharkov and attacked again. Meanwhile the Russian infantry captured all the Polish fortifications and even the enemy camp. The Polish army lost more than nine hundred men killed and wounded and seven guns. The Russian troops lost five hundred men killed and wounded. The defeated Polish division of Kosciuszka began to retreat into the woods, the Russian troops pursued the fleeing Poles until night. After the victory the Russian troops camped near Ukhanka.

On July 7, 1792 Lieutenant-General Andrey Levanidov and Major-General Tormasov with their corps crossed the Bug near Opalin and Dorogusk. The Polish troops put up a desperate resistance to the Russian corps in two places, but were forced to retreat so as not to be surrounded. On July 9, Russian commander-in-chief Mikhail Kakhovsky ordered Lieutenant General Andrey Levanidov, together with his corps, to march (with a 20-day supply of provisions) to Brest to join the Belarusian army of General-in-Chief Michael Krechetnikov. On July 10, Mikhail Kakhovsky moved with the Russian army from Uhanka, following the retreating Polish troops.

Jozef Poniatowski with the Polish army retreated through Biskupice, Lublin, and Kurow to Pulawy. On the 14th of July, 1792 Russian troops under the command of general-in-chief Michael Vasilievich Kakhovsky entered Lublin. Here Colonel Michael Chomentowski, adjutant of the Polish commander-in-chief, Prince Jozef Poniatowski, was waiting for Kakhovsky. Khomentovsky brought Kakhovsky a message from the Russian envoy Yakov Bulgakov with the news that the Polish King Stanislaw August Poniatowski had joined the Targovitz Confederation. Michael Chomentowski reported that King Stanislaw August Poniatowski had sent an order to Jozef Poniatowski to cease military operations against the Russian army. However, the Poles, assuming that the general-in-chief M.V. Kakhovsky would stop military operations, decided to take advantage of this circumstance and at least at the end to defeat a part of the Russian army. Jozef Poniatowski organized an attack on the two Cossack regiments near Markuszew, ahead of the main forces of the Russian army. But the calculations of the Polish command were upset by the arrival of reinforcements to the Cossacks, of which the Poles were unaware, besides, Michael Kakhovsky with the main forces moved to Markushov.

On July 26, 1792, in a battle near Markushuv, Brigadier Vasily Orlov defeated the Polish troops, who lost up to two hundred men killed and wounded and eighty-four prisoners of war. Mikhail Kakhovsky unraveled the Polish plan, and when Prince Jozef Poniatowski, arriving at the Russian outposts, expressed a desire to speak to him personally, he sent Valerian Zubov to him with the announcement that since Jozef Poniatowski was continuing the hostilities, despite the fact that the king had already joined the confederation, he could not enter into negotiations with him, but demanded that Józef Antoni Poniatowski either lay down his arms or take the oath to the Targowice confederation. While Valerian Zubov was going to him, however, Prince Jozef Poniatowski came by another road to the Russian posts and, having obtained a meeting with the Russian commander-in-chief, proposed to him to conclude a truce for a time until he received an order from the Polish king as to what to do with the troops. Michael Kakhovsky confirmed to him also what he had conveyed through Valerian Zubov, and added that if the Poles remained as close to the Russian troops, he would immediately resume hostilities. The Polish commander-in-chief, Jozef Poniatowski, left and asked for an hour and a half for reflection, but even before this period expired he returned to Michael Kakhovsky, accompanied by over forty Polish officers, and announced that he had received notice from the king that he had joined the Targowitz Confederation, and therefore asked that military action be stopped. Michael Kakhovsky agreed, but continued to demand from Jozef Poniatowski the execution of all that was necessary to fully secure the Russian troops against treacherous attacks from the Poles.

On July 18, Mikhail Kakhovsky arrived in Pulavy, where he was joined by Lieutenant-General Mikhail Kutuzov with his corps. From there part of the Russian army was sent to Warsaw at the request of the Russian envoy Yakov Bulgakov. With this part of the Russian army Mikhail Kakhovsky occupied Warsaw, the capital of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, on August 5, 1792. Michael Kakhovsky was in Warsaw with the Russian army until January 13, 1793.

Actions of the Belarusian army

In May 1792 the 32 thousandth Russian army under the command of General-in-Chief Michael Nikitich Krechetnikov, divided into four corps, invaded the territory of Belorussia and Lithuania. The first and second corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Prince Yuri Vladimirovich Dolgorukov and Major-General Shimon Kossakovsky were to advance from Dinaburg and Polotsk to Vilna. The third corps, under the command of Lieutenant-General Count Boris Petrovich Mellin, moved from Tolochin to Minsk. The fourth corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Ivan Evstafievich Ferzen was advancing from Rogachyov to Nesvizh and Grodno.

On May 26, in the battle near the village of Opsa, the Lithuanian cavalry (Tatar regiment) under the command of Adjutant General Mikhail Kirkor tried to stop the advance of the corps of Lieutenant General Yuri Dolgorukov, but was defeated. The Lithuanians lost up to three hundred men dead. On May 31, 1792 Russian troops under the command of Lieutenant-General Yuri Dolgorukov, Major-General Shimon Kossakovsky and Major-General Fedor Denisov took Vilna (Vilnius), the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, without resistance.

After the capture of Vilna, the supporters of the constitution hurriedly left the Lithuanian capital for Poland and Prussia on May 3. The Russian command allowed all supporters of the Polish constitution to leave Vilna in advance. Two hundred and eighty Lithuanian nobles declared their allegiance to the Targowitz Confederation. Russian Major-General Szymon Marcin Kossakowski began to make a confederation in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania against the new Polish constitution on May 3. After the capture of the Lithuanian capital, Szymon Kossakowski became the Polish hetman of Lithuania, and the marshal of the Lithuanian confederation was chosen a large magnate prince Alexander Michael Sapega, chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and his assistant was the Lithuanian trapper Joseph Zabello. Provincial confederations were hastily set up in all the voivodeships and poviets of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, together with their marshals and advisors. The Grand Hetman of Lithuania and Voivode of Vilna, Prince Michael Kazimir Oginsky, a supporter of the May 3 Constitution, voluntarily renounced his hetmanship.

On June 14, 1792 General-in-Chief Mikhail Nikitich Krechetnikov, commander-in-chief of the Russian army in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania arrived in Vilna, who solemnly announced the formation of the Lithuanian confederation. Major-General Alexei Ivanovich Khrushchov with a detachment occupied Kovno (Kaunas), where he created a noble confederation. The local townspeople even voluntarily swore allegiance to Empress Catherine the Great. But the Russian commander-in-chief, commander-in-chief Mikhail Krechetnikov, referring to the imperial decree, refused to take the oath from the residents of Kovno.

Meanwhile, a separate corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Count Boris Petrovich Mellin, meeting no resistance, seized Borisov and moved towards Minsk. Boris Mellin occupied Minsk, where he demanded obedience from the town and the entire voivodship to the Empress. A local provincial confederation was hastily established in Minsk. The Lithuanian army (7,700 men) under Lieutenant-General Jozef Yuditski, which was near Minsk, retreated to Stolptsy when the Russian corps approached. On 31 May Józef Jódicki withdrew from Stolpczyz to Swierzów. Józef Jódzycki initially intended to defend the Neman crossings and camped at Sverzhov, but on June 9 began to retreat to Mir. The retreat of the main forces of the Lithuanian army was to be covered by Major-General Jozef Belyak, who commanded a 3,000-strong cavalry detachment (Tatar cavalry and a people”s cavalry brigade). On June 10, in the battle near Stolbtsy, Russian troops under the command of Boris Petrovich Mellin defeated the Lithuanian cavalry.

The Lithuanian commander-in-chief Jozef Judicki sent an advance detachment led by Artillery Major-General Stanislaw Potocki (900 men) from Mir for reconnaissance. Stanislaw Potocki came forward, approached the Russian camp and soon sent a messenger to Lieutenant-General Jozef Yuditsky, urging him to suddenly attack the Russian corps of Lieutenant-General Count Boris Mellin. Yuditsky and his Lithuanian army moved from near Mir to meet the Russian corps. Boris Mellin quickly defeated the detachment of Stanislaw Kostka Potocki and began to pursue it. On June 11, 1792, in the battle of Mir, the Russian corps under the command of Boris Petrovich Mellin defeated the Lithuanian army led by Jozef Yuditsky. The Lithuanians lost one hundred and twenty men dead, the Russians lost two hundred and fifty men. The defeated Lithuanian army retreated to Slonim and Grodno, where Lieutenant-General Jozef Yuditsky was dismissed from command by the king. The next Lithuanian commander-in-chief King Stanislaw August Poniatowski appointed Lieutenant General Michael Zabello. Mikhail Zabello with the second division was in Vilnius, from where when the superior forces of the Russian army approached, he was forced to retreat to Grodno, where he linked up with the group [Józef Yuditski.

The Russian corps (5,500 men) led by Lieutenant-General Count Ivan Evstafievich Ferzen moved through Bobruisk and Slutsk to Nesvizh. Nesvizh castle was perfectly fortified, had a large stock of weapons and forty-nine cannons, a large garrison (800 men). On June 17 Russian troops completely surrounded Nesvizh. On June 19 after the first artillery bombardment Nesvizh garrison capitulated. The Russians entered Niasvizh and disarmed the city garrison. From Nesvizh Count Ivan Evstafievich Ferzen and his corps moved to Slonim and on July 14 took the town without resistance.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant-General Yuri Vladimirovich Dolgorukov with his corps moved from Vilna to Grodno. General-in-Chief Mikhail Krechetnikov ordered Lieutenant-General Counts Boris Petrovich Mellin and Ivan Evstafievich Ferzen to join their corps in order to push back the few Lithuanian troops behind the Bug.

The new Lithuanian commander-in-chief, Lieutenant-General Mikhail Zabello, divided the small Lithuanian army into three parts: he left the first part in Grodno, sent the second part to Novogrudok, and with the third part moved on the united Russian army under the leadership of Counts Ivan Ferzen and Boris Mellin. On June 23-24 (July 4-5) in the battle near Zelva the forward Lithuanian detachment, defending the crossings of the river, was defeated and overturned by the Russian army. On June 25 the demoralized Lithuanian army under the command of Michael Zabello began a hasty retreat to Podlasie, pursued by the corps of Ivan Ferzen and Boris Mellin. Lieutenant-General Jury Dolgorukov with his corps took the town of Grodno on June 25. From Grodno the corps of Prince Yuri Dolgorukov moved to Krynki in order to cut the Lithuanians” escape route.

Mikhail Zabello sent a detachment to Mstibov to delay the corps of Yuri Dolgorukov, while he himself continued to retreat to the Bug with an intensified march. On July 2, Lithuanian troops entered Bielsk. Here the Lithuanian commander-in-chief divided the troops into two parts: one part of the army under the command of Lieutenant General Shimon Zabello moved to Brest, and the other part under Mikhail Zabello continued its retreat to the Bug. On July 7, the Lithuanian corps of Mikhail Zabello positioned itself at the village of Granno, on the Bug River. The Russian command sent a corps under the command of Lieutenant General Count Ivan Evstafievich Ferzen to Brest-Litovsk to defend the Lithuanian general confederation, which was moving here from Vilna. Prince Dolgorukov and Count Mellin with their corps moved on the main forces of the Lithuanian army, standing at Granno. The 2,000 Lithuanian corps under the command of Lieutenant General Shimon Zabello moved to Brest, where it joined the local garrison and volunteer detachments. Shimon Zabello”s corps grew to five thousand men. The Russian corps of Lieutenant-General Count Ivan Ferzen (5,500 men) moved to Brest to prevent Shimon Zabello”s corps from joining with the Polish corps of Arnold Byshevsky, who was near Warsaw.

12 (23) July 1792, in the battle of Brest the Russian troops under the command of Lieutenant-General Ivan Ferzen defeated the Lithuanian corps of Shimon Zabello, who lost three hundred men dead. With the remnants of his corps Zabello crossed the Bug River and retreated to Masovia. Russian troops occupied Brest.

On 13 (24) July 1792 the Lithuanian troops (12 thousand men) under the command of Lieutenant General Mikhail Zabello were attacked by the Russian corps (4500 men) under the command of Major General Fedor Denisov near Kremen. Lieutenant-General Yury Dolgorukov with a 4,000-strong Russian corps crossed the Bug River and began bypassing the right wing of the Lithuanian army. The Lithuanian army withdrew from under Granne to Vengruv. Soon Lieutenant-General Michael Zabello received a message from Warsaw about the conclusion of an armistice. Then Michal Zabello sent a letter to the Russian command, proposing the cessation of hostilities. In the evening there happened a meeting between the Lithuanian commander, lieutenant-general Michael Zabello, and the new Polish hetman Shimon Kossakovsky, who showed him the message where Polish king Stanislaw August Poniatowski asked Michael Zabello to hurry to Warsaw with his army as soon as possible. Lieutenant General Michael Zabello, together with the Lithuanian army, marched towards the Polish capital at an accelerated pace.

In July, the Targovitsa Confederacy was in Litin and then in Dubno. On 25 July from Dubno the Targovitski Confederates sent Count Yuri Velgorski to St. Petersburg with a letter to Empress Catherine Alekseevna. In the letter, Marshal of the Targovitski Confederation Stanislaw Szczęsny Potocki thanked Catherine for providing Russian military aid in the fight against the constitution of 3 May.

At the end of July 1792 under the pressure of the Russian empress the Polish king Stanislaw Poniatowski was forced to join the Targovitsa confederation. Stanislaw August Poniatowski organized a meeting, which was attended by the marshals of the Sejm, the primate and government ministers. The majority was in favor of joining the Targowicka Confederation. The main supporters of the constitution on 3 May (Sejm Marshal Stanislaw Malachowski, Ignacy Potocki, Kazimierz-Nestor Sapiega and others) were forced to leave Warsaw and emigrated abroad. King Stanislaw August Poniatowski sent messengers to the Polish and Lithuanian armies, ordering them to cease military action against the Russian forces and join the Targowitz Confederation.

Małopolska (Lubelskie Voivodeship)


  1. Русско-польская война (1792)
  2. Polish–Russian War of 1792