Oskar Grippenberg
Encyclopedia
Oskar-Ferdinand Kazimirovich Gripenberg (13 January 1838 – 7 January 1916) was commanding general of the Russian Second Manchurian Army during the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

.

Biography

Oskar-Ferdinand Gripenberg was born in Ikaalinen
Ikaalinen
Ikaalinen is a town and municipality of Finland.It is located in the province of Western Finland and is part of the Pirkanmaa region. The town has a population of and covers an area of ofwhich is water...

 (Swedish: Ikalis), Grand Duchy of Finland
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

, the son of Uddo Sten Casimir Gripenberg and Maria Wilhelmina Elisabeth Ladau. The family were Swedish-speaking Finns and his father untitled nobility in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. Oskar-Ferdinand Gripenberg married Hedvig Ida Angelique Lundh in 1874. They had four children.

Early career

Gripenberg began his military career in 1854 as a cadet in the ranks of the Russian Crimean army. His first combat experience in the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 against the British and the French, and he was named in dispatches for bravery on 2 November 1855. As part of the Russian force which suppressed the Polish uprising in 1863-1864
January Uprising
The January Uprising was an uprising in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth against the Russian Empire...

 he was promoted to lieutenant. He was subsequently assigned to the Turkestan Military District, where he was assigned to command a line battalion of infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 from Orenburg
Orenburg
Orenburg is a city on the Ural River and the administrative center of Orenburg Oblast, Russia. It lies southeast of Moscow, very close to the border with Kazakhstan. Population: 546,987 ; 549,361 ; Highest point: 154.4 m...

 and was promoted to major in 1866. He then commanded the 5th Turkestan Battalion, participating in numerous battles in the Turkestan
Russian Turkestan
Russian Turkestan was the western part of Turkestan within the Russian Empire , comprising the oasis region to the south of the Kazakh steppes, but not the protectorates of the Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva.-History:-Establishment:Although Russia had been pushing south into the...

 war, including the conquest of the Emirate of Bukhara
Emirate of Bukhara
The Emirate of Bukhara was a Central Asian state that existed from 1785 to 1920. It occupied the land between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers, known formerly as Transoxiana. Its core territory was the land along the lower Zarafshan River, and its urban centres were the ancient cities of...

 and the storming of the fortress of Ura-Tube. For these campaigns, he was awarded the Order of St. Anne (3rd Class with Swords and Bow) and the highly prestigious Order of St. George
Order of St. George
The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

 (4th degree), and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. This was an unusual distinction as the award was normally only given to officers of at least general's rank.

Gripenberg was further awarded the Order of St. Stanislav (2nd class) and Golden Sword of St. George with the inscription "For Bravery" in 1869. He was made commander of the 17th Infantry Battalion in 1872 and promoted to colonel. In 1877 he became commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the elite Imperial Russian Life-Guards. He saw combat again during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, where we was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir
Order of St. Vladimir
The Cross of Saint Vladimir was an Imperial Russian Order established in 1782 by Empress Catherine II in memory of the deeds of Saint Vladimir, the Grand Prince and the Baptizer of the Kievan Rus....

 (3rd degree with Swords), Order of St. Stanislaus (1st degree), and Order of St George (3rd degree) in 1877, and promotion to major general on 22 February 1878.

In 1890 he became commander of the prestigious First Division of the Moscow Life Guards and was promoted to lieutenant general. He lost this position in 1898 after criticizing heavy-handed Russian actions in Finland. He was eventually promoted to general of infantry, reassigned to command the Russian 6th Army Corps in 1900, and in 1904 was honored with the title Adjutant General
Adjutant general
An Adjutant General is a military chief administrative officer.-Imperial Russia:In Imperial Russia, the General-Adjutant was a Court officer, who was usually an army general. He served as a personal aide to the Tsar and hence was a member of the H. I. M. Retinue...

 to the Tsar, and was granted the rank of Adjutant-General.

Russo-Japanese War

Gripenberg was assigned to command the Russian 2nd Manchurian Army during Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

, arriving at Mukden on 28 November 1904 Gripenberg was extremely critical of the war of attrition
War of Attrition
The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970 it was clear that this mission had been...

 tactics adopted by commander-in-chief General Aleksey Kuropatkin
Aleksey Kuropatkin
Alexei Nikolayevich Kuropatkin was the Russian Imperial Minister of War who is often held responsible for major Russian drawbacks in the Russian-Japanese War, notably the Battle of Mukden and the Battle of Liaoyang.-Early years:Kuropatkin was born in 1848 in what is now Pskov, in the Russian...

, who had hoped to draw the Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 deep into Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

, where its supply lines would be overextended as part of a delaying tactic until the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway
Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world...

 would bring overwhelming Russian reinforcements. On arriving in Mukden, Gripenberg repeated told his men that anyone retreating from their position in the upcoming campaign would be shot. During the ensuing Battle of Sandepu
Battle of Sandepu
The Battle of Sandepu, was a major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War. It was fought within a group of villages about 36 miles southwest of Mukden, Manchuria.-Background:...

 in January 1905, Gripenberg perceived a weakness in the Japanese lines and launched a surprise assault that threw the enemy's left flank into disarray. However, Kuropatkin refused to commit troops to support his offensive, directly leading to the Russian defeat. Relations between the two officers had been strained from the beginning and Gripenberg asked to be relieved of his command of the 2nd Manchurian Army on 29 January 1905, only a day after the battle ended. Tsar Nicholas II allowed Gripenberg to return to Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 immediately, although he was not formally relieved until March. Gripenberg lost no time in publicly blaming Kuropatkin for Russia's defeats, which sparked a war of words between the two men in the press.

Final career

Tsar Nicholas II
Nicholas II of Russia
Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia, Grand Prince of Finland, and titular King of Poland. His official short title was Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias and he is known as Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer by the Russian Orthodox Church.Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until...

 still thought highly of Gripenberg, and on 30 April 1905 appointed him Inspector General of the Infantry on 28 June 1905, and as a member of the State Council
State Council of Imperial Russia
The State Council was the supreme state advisory body to the Tsar in Imperial Russia.-18th century:Early Tsars' Councils were small and dealt primarily with the external politics....

. As Inspector General, he developed a new manual for shooting, but on 23 March 1906, frustrated by health, he resigned from active service, but remained on the State Councillor nominally as General Adjutant. He spent his final days in continuing his campaign against Kuropatkin in the newspapers, pamphlets and books, blaming him for the Russian defeat at the Battle of Mukden
Battle of Mukden
One of the largest land battles to be fought before World War I, the , the last major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War, was fought from 20 February to 10 March 1905 between Japan and Russia near Mukden in Manchuria...

 and for the loss of the war in general. He died on December 25, 1915 in Petrograd, was buried in the Tsarskoselsky Cemetery.

Honors

  • Order of St. George
    Order of St. George
    The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

    , 4th class, 1867
  • Order of St. Anne
    Order of St. Anna
    The Order of St. Anna ) is a Holstein and then Russian Imperial order of chivalry established by Karl Friedrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp on 14 February 1735, in honour of his wife Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great of Russia...

     1st degree, 1867
  • Order of St. Stanislaus 2nd degree, 1867
  • Gold Sword for Bravery
    Gold Sword for Bravery
    The Gold Sword for Bravery was a Russian Empire award for bravery. It was set up with two grades on 27 July 1720 by Peter the Great, reclassified as a public order in 1807 and abolished in 1917. From 1913 to 1917 it was renamed the St George Sword and considered as one of the grades of the Order...

     (1869)
  • Montenegrin Medal (1878)
  • Order of St. George
    Order of St. George
    The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

    , 3rd class, 1878
  • Order of St Vladimir, 3rd degree, 1878
  • Order of St. Stanislaus 1st degree 1878.
  • Order of the Crown
    Order of the Crown (Prussia)
    The Order of the Crown was Prussia's lowest ranking order of chivalry. Instituted in 1861 as an award equal in rank to the Order of the Red Eagle, it could only be awarded to commissioned officers , but there was a medal associated with the order which could be earned by non-commissioned officers...

    , with star (Prussia), 1878
  • Order of St. Anne
    Order of St. Anna
    The Order of St. Anna ) is a Holstein and then Russian Imperial order of chivalry established by Karl Friedrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp on 14 February 1735, in honour of his wife Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great of Russia...

     1st degree 1881
  • Order of the Crown of Italy
    Order of the Crown of Italy
    The Order of the Crown of Italy was founded as a national order in 1868 by King Vittorio Emanuele II, to commemorate the unification of Italy in 1861...

    , Officer's Cross 1882 (Italy)
  • Order of St Vladimir, 2nd degree, 1888
  • Order of the White Eagle, 1896
  • , Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
    Order of St. Alexander Nevsky
    The Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was an order of chivalry of the Russian Empire.-History:The introduction of the Imperial Order of St. Alexander Nevsky was planned by Emperor Peter I of Russia...

    , 1905

External links

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