(From Russkii Biograficheskii Slovar’, c. 1910. Translated by Mark Conrad, 2001.)


GUDOVICH, Graf Ivan Vasil’evich, general-field marshal, born in Little Russia in 1741. Educated in Königsburg and Leipzig universities. In 1759 he entered service as an ensign [praporshchik] in the corps of engineers and then became an adjutant to the powerful Graf P.I. Shuvalov. In 1761 he was assigned as adjutant to the Prince of Holstein with the rank of lieutenant colonel. As brother of  Peter III’s favorite [Andrei Vasil’evich Gudovich – M.C.], Gudovich was arrested upon the ascension to the throne of Catherine II and imprisoned for three weeks. In 1763 he was named commander of the Astrakhan Infantry Regiment and with it the next year was in the campaign in Poland. In the First Turkish War Gudovich distinguished himself on 11 July 1769 at Khotin. In the same year he won a victory at Rachevskii Woods, for which he was promoted to brigadier. On 7 July 1770, at the Battle of Larga, he captured the Turkish batteries and was then decorated with the order of St. George 3rd class. He took part in the Battle of Kagul and the siege of Brailov. After being assigned commander of an independent column, Gudovich undertook a raid into Walachia and occupied Bucharest after defeating Seraskier-Pasha on 11 November. Promoted to major general, he took part in a raid towards Giurgiu, and at the storming of this fortress (21 February 1771) he commanded the center column. On 7 August 1771 Gudovich was at the second storming of Girugiu, during which he was wounded in the leg. This did not prevent him from again beating the Turks, at Podaluny. After this victory he left the army so that his leg might heal (1772-73). He then commanded a division in Little Russia and was promoted to lieutenant general (1777).

In 1784 Gudovich was made Governor-General of Ryazan and Tambov Provinces. At the outbreak of the Second Turkish War Gudovich left to join the active army and commanded a separate corps which captured Hadjibei (Odessa) and Kiliya (1790). Promoted to general-in-chief, Gudovich was named chief of the Caucasian Line and commander of the Kuban Corps. On 22 June 1791, after a bloody assault, he took the fortress of Anapa with 7000 men (the garrison numbered 15,000) and for this received the order of St. George 2nd class and a sword decorated with jewels. Gudovich energetically built up the frontier line and set up a series of new forts: Ust-Labinskaya, Kavkazskaya, and Shelkovodskaya, for which he was awarded the order of St. Andrew the First-Called in 1793.

Feeling insulted by the appointment in 1796 of Graf V.A. Zubov as commander of the army being formed for the war with Persia, he requested release from service, citing broken health. Catherine II gave her assent and granted him 1800 serfs, sending him on leave for two years. But his leave did not last long. While in Voronezh he received the manifesto announcing the ascension to the throne of Emperor Paul I and a Highest Order to go to the Caucasus and there take over command of the forces in place of Zubov. On Peter’s coronation day Gudovich was elevated to graf and received 3000 serfs in Podolia Province. In 1798 he was named governor-general of Kiev and then transferred to the same position in Podolia Province. In the following year Gudovich made commander of the army designated to cross the border to the Rhein, but he drew upon himself the disfavor of Paul and was dropped from service in June of 1800.

Only in 1806 was he again accepted onto active duty and made commander of the forces in Georgia and Derbent. By his energetic measures, Gudovich put an end to a plague epidemic in the Caucasus and restored respect for Russian power. A brilliant victory at Arpachai on 30 August 1807 won him the rank of field marshal, but the siege and unsuccessful assault of Erivan in November 1808 forced him to withdraw into Georgia. Serious illness with the loss of an eye caused him to leave the Caucasus.

On 7 August 1809 he was named commander in Moscow, a member of the State Council, and a senator. In February of 1812 Gudovich was released from service due to old age, being given a portrait of the emperor, decorated with jewels. He spent the last years of his life in Podolia Province at his estate at Olgopol, occupied in music and hunting. He died in January 1820, having directed that he be buried in the Sophia Cathedral in Kiev.


Sources: Russkie portrety XVIII v.; Biografii rossiiskikh generalov in general-fel’dmarshalov; Archive of the Department of Heraldry, information on Graf Gudovich’s service; Potto, Kavkazskaya voina v epizodakh i legendakh; Potto, Istoricheskii ocherk Kavkazskoi voiny do prisoedineniya Gruzii.