Collection ID: 4078095 BAR Ms Coll/Skobelev

Collection context


Skobelev, Mikhail Dmitrievich, 1843-1882
1000 items and 3 boxes; 4 oversized cataloged folders map case; 1 folder in oversized section
Russian .
Preferred citation:

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev Papers; Box and Folder; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Scope and Content:

The papers consist of Skobelev's correspondence, manuscripts, documents, subject files, and printed materials. There are awards and documents of Skobelev, his father (Dmitrii Ivanovich), and his grandfather (Ivan Nikitich), both of whom were also generals. These documents include ones signed by Russian Tsars Alexander I, Nicholas I, Paul I, and Alexander II, and by two Kings of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Wilhelm I. The correspondence primarily dates from 1870-1890 and consists mainly of letters received by Mikhail Skobelev and copies of letters which he wrote. The manuscripts include essays on military affairs, some of which are by Skobelev. There are subject files concerning the Akhal-Tekinski expedition (1880-1881) and the Russo-Turkish War. Among the printed materials are clippings and maps.

Biographical / Historical:

Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev (1843-1882), Russian general who played prominent roles in Russia's conquest of Turkistan and in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878.

Mikhail Skobelev was born in St. Petersburg into a noble Russian family. His grandfather was a Peter and Paul Fortress Commandant and his father was an officer of the Imperial Russian army. Skobelev was educated in St. Petersburg and Paris but never graduated from a military school. In 1861, he was accepted to the St. Petersburg university but soon after decided to enter military service in the Cavalry Regiment. After passing the exam in 1862, he was promoted to a cadet harness, and then to a cornet. Later in his life he graduated from a military academy in St. Petersburg.

In 1868, Skobelev was sent to Tashkent to participate in General Konstantin P. Kaufmann's successful campaign (1873) against the Khanate of Khiva. Subsequently, when a rebellion in the Khanate of Kokand (1875) resulted in Kaufmann's invasion of that region, Skobelev captured the city of Andizhan in January 1876, enabling the Russians to occupy the whole khanate. The Russian government then annexed Kokand renamed it the province of Fergana, and appointed Skobelev, who had been promoted to major general, to be its first Russian governor.

When war broke out between Russia and Turkey in 1877, Skobelev was transferred to the European front. His forces defeated the Turks in several strategic battles and finally captured Adrianople and San Stefano, thus forcing the Turks to conclude an armistice. Because he always appeared in the midst of battle wearing a white uniform and riding a white horse, Skobelev became known by his soldiers as the "White General."

Skobelev returned to Turkistan and in 1880 took command of the Russian campaign against the Turkmens living between the Caspian and Aral seas and the Persian province of Khorāsān. On Jan. 24, 1881, Skobelev captured Göktepe, where he slaughtered the male population in the vicinity. He then forced the region into submission and was proceeding against Ashkhabad (now Ashgabat) when he was recalled and given command of the Minsk Army Corps.

At the beginning of 1882 Skobelev entered the political arena, making speeches in Paris and Moscow in favor of militant pan-Slavism and predicting an inevitable conflict between the German and Slav peoples. Those views, however, clashed with the official policy of the Russian government, which in 1881 had concluded an alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Skobelev therefore was immediately recalled to St. Petersburg, where he suffered a fatal heart ailment. He died in Moscow in 1882.

Acquisition information:
Papers: Source of acquisition--Sergei S. Beloselʹskii-Belozerskii. Method of acquisition--Bequest; Date of acquisition--1978.
Processing information:

Papers Accessioned 1978.

Papers Processed 06/--/82.

Papers Revised 06/--/83.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact for more information.

Rules or conventions:



This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.


Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.


Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Mikhail Dmitrievich Skobelev Papers; Box and Folder; Bakhmeteff Archive, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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