By Frederick W. W. Kagan
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Extra info for The Military Reforms of Nicholas I: The Origins of the Modern Russian Army
M. 95 Miliutin saw in Russia’s military system of the last decade of Alexander’s reign a mirror of the German General Staff system, which, he pointed out, suffered from similar confusion and duplication of effort. Although Nicholas’s reasons for uniting the posts of Chief of the Main Staff and War Minister in A. I. Chernyshev in 1827 are less clear than Miliutin makes out, there can be no doubt that a desire to curtail the irrationality of Alexander’s system was an important motivation. They merely codified what had become practice during the last years of the struggle with Napoleon.
In 1819 the Chuguev military colonists had rebelled, and in 1820 the Semenovskii Guards Regiment mutinied. These events were enough to make the peace of the early 1820s seem far from secure to Alexander and his principal advisors, and to confirm Alexander in his belief that the forces of “revolution” were growing in Europe and in Russia and threatened the stability of the international order gravely. 98 In response to the Austrians’ request for assistance in suppressing the Neapolitan uprising, therefore, Alexander hastened to order Chief of the Main Staff P.
Prince Kochubei had proposed that the reform of 1802 that established the ministries in Russia abolish the colleges altogether and move entirely to a ministerial system. Alexander compromised, however, by allowing the colleges to continue to exist and function under the nominal control of “ministers,” and Kochubei continued to argue for the completion of the reform. Speranskii’s reforms, therefore, were the continuation of the introduction of the ministerial system into Russia that had been begun but halfheartedly in 1802, and they resulted in the final abolition of the colleges by 1812.