Joseph Vladimirovich, Count Gourko - Encyclopedia

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JOSEPH VLADIMIROVICH GOURKO, Count (1828-1901), Russian general, was born, of Lithuanian extraction, on the 1 5th of November 1828. He was educated in the imperial corps of pages, entered the hussars of the imperial bodyguard as sub-lieutenant in 1846, became captain in 1857, adjutant to the emperor in 1860, colonel in 1861, commander of the 4th Hussar regiment of Mariupol in 1866, and major-general of the emperor's suite in 1867. He subsequently commanded the grenadier regiment, and in 1873 the 1st brigade, 2nd division, of the cavalry of the guard. Although he took part in the Crimean War, being stationed at Belbek, his claim to distinction is due to his services in the Turkish war of 1877. He led the van of the Russian invasion, took Trnovo on the 7th July, crossed the Balkans by the Hain Bogaz pass, debouching near Hainkioi, and, notwithstanding considerable resistance, captured Uflani, Maglish and Kazanlyk; on the 18th of July he attacked Shipka, which was evacuated by the Turks on the following day. Thus within sixteen days of crossing the Danube Gourko had secured three Balkan passes and created a panic at Constantinople. He then made a series of successful reconnaissances of the Tunja valley, cut the railway in two places, occupied Stara Zagora (Turkish, Eski Zagra) and Nova Zagora (Yeni Zagra), checked the advance of Suleiman's army, and returned again over the Balkans. In October he was appointed commander of the allied cavalry, and attacked the Plevna line of communication to Orkhanie with a large mixed force, captured Gorni-Dubnik, Telische and Vratza, and, in the middle of November, Orkhanie itself. Plevna was isolated, and after its fall in December Gourko led the way amidst snow and ice over the Balkans to the fertile valley beyond, totally defeated Suleiman, and occupied Sophia, Philippopolis and Adrianople, the armistice at the end of January 1878 stopping further operations (see Russo Turkish Wars). Gourko was made a count, and decorated with the 2nd class of St George and other orders. In1879-1880he was governor of St Petersburg, and from 1883 to 1894 governorgeneral of Poland. He died on the 29th of January Igor.

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