Graf Aleksei Andreevich Arakcheev

as Reflected in His Decisions in Cases of Military Justice, 1799-1808.


By Al. N. Savel’ev.


(From Russkaya Starina, Vol. 68, 1890, pages 711-12. “Graf Aleksei Andreevich Arakcheev v ego resheniyakh voenno-sudnykh del 1799-1808 gg.”)



Any future biography of Graf Arakcheev will require much work in analyzing the mass of extremely varied and critical information on this historical figure in order to correctly describe the man’s character in context. On the one hand, he left behind a memory of not only a severe but indeed a harsh man of his times, and on the other—of consideration for the little people whose fates he controlled. Overall, Graf Arakcheev’s acts of kindness now seem doubtful… However, we have managed to find in the archives[1] two manuscript documents referring to the considerate actions of Graf Arakcheev.



In 1799 the following persons were sentenced by a military court to various punishments:


Staff-Captain Lopatin, for various illegal acts, was sentenced to demotion to private “for a time.” Gen. Arakcheev took into account that at the time of this trial St.-Capt. Lopatin had been under arrest and in chains for ten years and set forth in his opinion, “Free Lopatin from all further punishment, but separate him from the service.”


Lieutenant Sokolov, charged with drunkenness and the loss of government property, was sentenced by a court to hanging (poveshenie). Gen. Arakcheev directed: “In view of his long time (eight years) under arrest in chains [v okovakh], Lt. Sokolov is to be freed from further punishment, but separated from the service.”


Major Semenov and Lt. Vashutin were tried for various acts and sentenced to loss of rank and noble status, and exile at hard labor. Gen. Arakcheev’s decision was that in view of their four years’ under arrest and their previous good service, they were to be separated from the service without further punishment.


Lieutenant Obol’yaninov was sentenced for various acts to loss of rank and noble status, and to expulsion from the service. Gen. Arakcheev’s determined that since Lt. Obol’yaninov had been under arrest for three years in chains, he was to be separated from the service.


Staff-Captain Skrypkin was sentenced for various acts and careless oversight of government property (in an artillery armory) to “permanent” enrollment as a private and the sequestration of his estate. Gen. Arakcheev determined that he be separated from the service and his property sold to make good government losses.


Artillery Non-commissioned Officer [Feierverker] Kastryukov, for losing government funds (440 rubles) entrusted to his care, was sentenced by the court to death by hanging [lishit’ zhivota i povesit’]. The lost sum was to be taken from Lieutenant Colonel Gastver and Staff-Captain Kapustin, who had assigned Kastryukov to the transport of treasury funds. Gen. Arakcheev directed that Kastryukov be punished by running the gauntlet [nakazat’ shpitsrutenami] and assigned to service as before. In regard to the recovery of the lost money from the officers who had entrusted Kastryukov to transport it, Gen. Arakcheev proposed that an equal, if not the greater part, of the lost sum be taken from their chief of artillery in Kazan, Major General Mordvinov.


As minister of war, Graf Arakcheev did not always pursue those guilty of misusing funds, but instead subjected such persons to the court of public opinion by announcing in general orders their noted malfeasance. Thus, in 1808 the following general order was issued:


The St.-Petersburg Army Hospital, no doubt concerned for the well-being of sick soldiers, spent (from 1 September to 1 February) for their care 10,451 rub. 50 kop., of which 4,041 rub. 45 kop. was for wine alone, namely: for port wine – 2,184 rub., Madeira – 859 rub. 95 kop., Medoc – 320 rub., and Bordeaux – 677 rub. 50 k.”




[1] Archive of the Master-General of Ordnance’s Staff (shtab general-fel’dtseikhmeistera), svyazka 1114, No. 1-46.

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Translated by Mark Conrad, 2004.