Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 1 >> Albani to Alligator >> Alexeieff


staff, chief, army, russian and military

ALEXEIEFF, Michael Vassilivitch, ii-lexa'yief, Russian general: b. Tver about 1848. Educated at the Classical Gymnasium in his native town, he passed to the Moscow Mili tary Academy and was attached to a Kazan regiment in 1876, attaining the rank of captain in 1885. Ambition led him, about 1879, to enter the Academy of the General Staff, where he assiduously studied till 1890. During the next eight years he was employed in the administra tive routine of army work, and in 1898 became professor of military science at the Staff Acad emy. When the Russo-Japanese war broke out in 1904 Alexeieff was appointed quartermaster general of the 3d Manchurian army. In the battle of Mukden he commanded a brigade of infantry and a body of Cossacks. He defended the position at Tsinkhechen with 16 battalions and 20 guns against the fierce onslaughts of the Japanese for several days. From 1908 to 1912 he was chief of staff of the military district of Kiev. At the outbreak of the European War he was in command of the 13th Army Corps at Smolensk. Alexeieff had literally risen from the ranks by sheer merit; the offspring of a poor family—his father was a humble sergeant— he had no influence behind him beyond his laboriously acquired reputation for tremendous energy, capacity for hard work and an iron determination. In the great struggle to which Russia was committed in 1914 he showed his ability not only by his general grasp in matters of statecraft as well as strategy, but also by the immutable calm and simplicity which never forsook him during the severest ordeals of re sponsibility. Alexeieff first became chief of staff in General Ivanoff's southern army group; then commander of the Army of the Bukovina; he next succeeded General Ruzsky as com mander-in-chief of the northwestern group, where he had control of nine out of 12 of the Russian armies and was directly concerned in carrying out the invasion of Galicia and afterward the retreat from Warsaw. In the

northwestern command his difficulties were ag gravated by his inability, for technical reasons,. to assume the offensive — a fact of which the German staff were fully aware. Whilst the enemy could safely undertake active operations at any point that might be chosen, it was the task of Alexeieff to anticipate and counter these movements. Scarcely had the Galician crisis passed than he was summoned as chief of staff to the Generalissimo, the Grand Duke Nicholas, who retired as viceroy of the Caucasus in Sep tember 1915, when the Tsar formally took com mand of the Russian armies, immediately ap pointing Alexeieff chief of the general staff virtually supreme commander under a shadowy superior. With the downfall of Tsarism in the revolution of 1917 he was appointed com mander-in-chief, which post he resigned in June 1917 to become military adviser to the provisional government. He was succeeded by General Brusiloff (q.v.). Subsequently Alexeieff again became chief of the general staff under Premier Kerensky, but resigned again in Sep tember 1917 owing to disagreement, it is said, over the dismissal of officers implicated in the abortive Korniloff counter revolution. See