(From Sytin’s Voennaya Entsiklopediya, c. 1913.)

Graf Pavel Khristoforovich Grabbe.

Grabbe, Graf Pavel Khristoforovich [Paul Christophorofich Grabbé] - general-adjutant, general-of-cavalry, born 1789. Finished Nobles Cadet Corps, promoted in 1805 to sublieutenant in the 2nd Artillery Regiment and took part in the 1806-07 campaign against the French, during which he was at the battles of Golymin, Preussisch-Eylau, Heilsberg, Friedland, and for excellence decorated with the order of St. Anne 3rd class and the gold Preussisch-Eylau cross.

In1808 he was named military agent in Munich, and in 1812 he was with Barclay de Tolly, commander-in-chief of the army, having transferred to the guards artillery. During the Patriotic War Grabbe was at the battles of Vitebsk, Smolensk, Borodino, Tarutino, Maloyaroslavets, Vyazma, Krasnyi, and awarded the order of St. George 4th class, St Vladimir 4th class, and St. Anne 2nd class. In 1813 staff-captain Grabbe was detached to the partisan band of Graf Val’moden, with which he took part in many raids. In 1814 he was with the forces operating against the Danes and distinguished himself at Zeestadt.

In 1816 Grabbe was promoted to colonel and in 1817 named commander of the Lubny Hussar Regiment. On 4 March 1822, “for clearly ignoring the service regulations” he was “removed from service,” but soon again taken into duty with the Severskii Horse-Jager Regiment (1823), and in 1827 was transferred to the New Russia Dragoon Regiment, which was part of the forces sent to Walachia. He took part in actions at Calafat, Golentsy, Boelesti, and for military distinction awarded the order of St. Vladimir 3rd class.

On 28 May 1829 at the storming of Rakhov, Grabbe, commanding volunteers and a jäger battalion, was the first to cross the Danube, and drove the Turks from the fortifications and took the citadel. In spite of the wound received at Rakhov, for several days he was on a magnificent raid beyond the Isker River and took part in affairs at Staroselnaya and Orkhovits. Promoted for these actions to major general and awarded a gold saber, Grabbe was first named chief of staff of VII, and later I Infantry Corps, with which he took part in the 1831 campaign against the Poles, at Minsk, Kaluszin (contused in the thigh), Ostrolenko, and at the storming of Warsaw.  

Decorated with the orders of St. George 3rd class and St Anne 1st class, in 1831 Grabbe was named commander of the 2nd Dragoon Division, and in 1837 promoted to lieutenant general. In 1838 he received the assignment of commander of troops on the Caucasian Line and on the Black-Sea coast. Grabbe arrived in the Caucasus when Muridism was already achieving great successes and the fighting against them was becoming more and more difficult. But he did not properly evaluate the situation and Shamil’s personality. Sent to Daghestan with the Chechna column to capture the core territory of Muridism, the village [aul] of Akhulgo, Grabbe with great difficulty and bloodshed took it by storm on 22 August 1839, and although Shamil slipped out of his hands, he considered the battle finished and the territory completely pacified. He said that Shamil was “without refuge and a powerless wanderer, the head of whom is not worth more than 100 gold coins,” and that Muridism had played out is course. But Emperor Nicholas saw the situation more soberly, and although for Akhulgo he awarded Grabbe the order of St Alexander Nevsky, he noted on the report of these events: “Excellent, but sadly Shamil has gone, and I recognize that I face the danger of his return. We shall see what happens next.” And in fact, already in March of 1840 our favorable situation had passed: on the Black-Sea Line the forts of Mikhailovskoe, Lazarev, and Nikolaevskii were lost, and Shamil appeared in Chechna and was supported in Daghestan. Grabbe remained unperturbed in Stavropol and had given command of the Chechna force to General Galafeev, but the latter’s actions were recognized as not enough for the situation that was becoming more threatening, and Grabbe was ordered to personally take command. On 27 October 1840 Grabbe moved into Chechna, but after arriving at Gerzel-aul on 18 November he had to disperse his force into winter quarters due to the deep snow and exhaustion of the men.

In1841 Shamil succeeded in also raising a revolt in Guria, and at the end of 1841 Grabbe sent to St. Petersburg a report on the growing menace and strength of Shamil, whom he now considered as “almost the undisputed master of Chechna.” Therefore Grabbe considered in necessary to act defensively on the right flank from the Georgian Military Road to the Black Sea, and move offensively on the left flank and in Daghestan. His plan was accepted, and its execution charged to him personally. In the summer or 1842 Grabbe moved to Dargo, where Shamil had his home, but in the Ichkerin forest he was completely unsuccessful and in September of that same year he was recalled from the Caucasus, leaving behind a memory of a chivalrous man and brave soldier, but a general of little talent.

After this Grabbe was unassigned for six years, but with the outbreak of the Hungarian revolt in 1849 he was named commander of a separate force defending Galicia. For his part in the actions at Rozenberg, Sen-Marton, Sen-Miklosh, and Komorn, Grabbe was awarded a saber decorated with diamonds and inscribed “For the campaign in Hungary in 1849.”

In 1852 he was named a member of the Alexander Committee For the Wounded. But already in 1853 he along with other members of this committee was court-martialed for failing to carry out their duties which had resulted in embezzlement by the committee’s executive clerk Politkovskii. Grabbe was deprived of his title of general-adjutant. With the outbreak of the Eastern War, Grabbe was named to head the infantry and artillery of the Kronstadt garrison and again awarded the title of general-adjutant. In 1856 he was promoted to general-of-cavalry, and then carried out the duties of military governor of Reval and commanded the troops in Estonia.

In 1862 he was named government ataman of the Don Cossack Host. His administration of this host was marked by the shortening of cossack service from 25 years to 15. Awarded the order of St. Andrew the First-Called in 1863, on 28 October 1866 Grabbe with all his descendents was elevated to graf and named a member of the State Council. He died in 1875. (See Russkii Invalid 1875, No. 161; Golos, 1875 No. 203.)

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Translated by Mark Conrad, 2001. Note: P.Kh. Grabbe had two sons who became generals: Mikhail (born 1834, killed at the storming of Kars in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877) and Nikolai (1832-1896). A third son Aleksandr, born 1838, died of wounds received fighting the Poles in 1863.