Suvorov Count of Rymnik, Prince of Italy
Count of Rymnik, Prince of Italy.
Alexander Suvorov was reckoned one of a few generals
in history who never lost a single battle.
He was the one man who, at the end of the 18th century,
could have stopped Bonaparte.
1. The Man.
2. The Soldier. Military career.
3. “How to win. A talk to soldiers in their own language.”
4. The Commander. Tactics and strategy.
5. In Suvorov’s own words. “Train hard, fight easy.”
Suvorov was immensely popular with the troops. He died in 1800. After the service there was some difficulty about getting the coffin through the entrance to its resting place in a side chapel, whereupon a party of soldiers rushed to the front,seized hold of the coffin, and bore their hero aloft and through. ‘No more nonsense !’ they shouted, ‘there is nobody who can stop Suvorov !” (Duffy – “Eagles over the Alps” p 266)
“Russians revere Suvorov as Britons do King Arthur.”
1. The Man.
Suvorov was born in 1730 to a family of Swedish origin
which had settled in Russia.
Suvorov was born in 1729 to a middle-ranking family of Swedish origin (a Swede named Suvor who emigrated to Russia in 1622). His father was the author of the first Russian translation of the works of the famous French general Vauban. Suvorov was only 5 feet tall, but had heavy shoulders and arms.
His appearance was casual, and heat and cold seemed to mean nothing to him. In early morning he refreshed himself by jumping into a trough of icy water. During campaign Suvorov often slept on fresh straw which was spread out for him on the bed. His face was long, with a high forehead. “Almost at the same time you could see him grinding his teeth like a madman, smile and grimace like a monkey, and weep pathetically like an old woman.” (C.F. Masson – “Memoires secrets sur la Russie…”)
Suvorov’s reading extended well beyond military affairs to politics and the sciences. He spoke French, Italian, German and Polish. He led the conversation in his raucous voice and enjoyed ‘powerful’ spirits during breakfast, lunch and dinner. After drinking Suvorov “at once lies down to sleep, an example followed by most of his suite.” (- Lord Minto, 1800)
Suvorov was a spontaneous man. “… Melas, the Austrian general hastened towards him [Suvorov] with lowered sword to report the various measures he had taken. Suvorov did not listen to him, but moved by spontaneous joy he cuffed him in the head and threw his arms about him. Melas’ horse bucked, and because Suvorov held his comrade so fast, Melas could neither control his horse nor keep himself in the saddle.” (- General Chasteler)
Despite military successes, “Suvorov always felt ill-at-ease at court, conscious of his scrawny, gaunt appearance and rough manners at a time when throughout Europe personal style and elegance often counted for as much or more than real ability.” (- Robert Mosher)
2. The Soldier. Military Career.
Suvorov commanded a flying column in a series of spectacularly successful actions against the famous Prussian hussars.
Suvorov was the product of example, firmness of will, great gift of communication, and a brutality which was tempered with empathy with the soldiers under his command. He entered military service as a private in the Semenovski Lifeguard Infantry Regiment. In 1758 Suvorov was made lieutenant-colonel of the Kazan Regiment.
In 1759 served on General Fermor’s staff in campaign against the Prussians. He participated in one of the bloodiest battles of that times, Kunersdorf, and in the raid on Berlin in 1760.
In 1761 Suvorov became chief-of-staff of Russian corps in Pomerania. He also commanded a flying column (Cossacks + hussars) in a series of spectacularly successful actions against the famous Prussian hussars. This last experience developed his understanding of the relationships between troops, terrain, distance and speed.
In 1762 Suvorov became colonel and was made commander of the Astrahan regiment. In the next year he was transfered to the Suzdal regiment. In 1769 Suvorov was engaged in campaign against the dissident Polish Confederation of Bar (Konfederacja Barska) during which he laid siege to the Castle of Cracow (Krakow today) which surrendered on terms. For his success Suvorov was promoted to general-major. In 1773-4 Suvorov participated in Rumyantzev’s campaign against the Turks. As general-lieutenant Suvorov with 8,000 troops defeated 40,000 Turks at Kozludoi. Suvorov became known in the entire Russian army and in 1784 was promoted to full general.
During the next war with Turkey, Suvorov commanded the 3rd Division (also called Suvorov Division) and designated to cooperate with the slow Austrian Field-Marshal Saxe-Coburg. Suvorov and the Austrians defeated the Turks at Fokshani and Rymnik. The Russian monarch bestowed on Suvorov the title of count with the suffix ‘Rymniksky’. After the defeat of Poles Suvorov was promoted to the rank of fieldmarshal.
When Prince Frederick of Orange died in January 1799, the Austrians were left without chief commander. Sir Morton Eden (British ambassador in Austria) suggested to his Russian counterpart that Suvorov would do very well in his place. The Austrians accepted this idea and Tsar Paul had summoned the old fieldmarshal to St.Petersburg and gave him the command of the Russian troops going against the French.
Suvorov’s troops (20,200 men) at the opening of the Italian campaign:
– 1 grenadier regiment (1,490 men) and 4 combined grenadier battalions (on average 610 men each)
– 7 musketeer regiments (on average 1,510 men each)
– 2 jager regiments (750 + 737 men)
– 6 Cossack regiments (on average 490 men each)
In Italy Suvorov was greeted as liberator. In Verona the crowds converged on his route shouting “Eviva nostro liberatore !” and they unhitched the horses and pulled the carriage along Via Santa Eufemia. Suvorov won every battle against the French armies.
In his military career Suvorov had sustained a multiplicity of wounds, three of them in the right leg alone.
Suvorov’s name is linked with two of the crueliest episodes of that times. The first is the massacre of 26,000 Turkish soldiers and civilians of Izmail in the Danube delta. Suvorov’s troops suffered almost 33 % casualties in storming of Izmail and the survivors revenged themselves in a horrible way.
The second massacre took place in Poland. The Poles defeated the Russian army at Raclawice, and then were beaten in their turn by the joined Russian and Prussian armies. Despite defeat they held on so grimly at Warsaw that the attackers had to give up the siege. The Prussian army was gone for good, but the Russians returned.
Suvorov’s corps defeated smaller Polish formation and joined Russian army under General Fersen near Warsaw. Suvorov’s troops stormed Warsaw’s bridgehead, Praga, and massacred the few defenders and 12,000 civilians. Engelhardt wrote: “Every conceivable form of violent death had been perpetuated on every yard of ground as far as the Vistula, while the river bank itself was piled with heaps of the dead and dying …” It was seen as a revenge for the earlier near annihilation of the Russian garrison in Warsaw during the Warsaw Uprising in April 1794, where about 4,000 Russian soldiers died.
According to some sources, for example Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, the massacre was the deed of Cossacks who were not directly subordinated to Suvorov. The Russian general was supposedly trying to stop the massacre. Years later however Suvorov described this as calculated act, which spared blood over the long term by shocking the rest of the Poles into laying down their arms. (In XIX and XX century prayers were recited in Praga jewish synagogues on the anniversary of the Praga slaughter.)
3. “The Science of Victory.”
“How to win. A talk to soldiers in their own language.”
“It was the first known written record on the art of war
intended not only for officers but for every serving man.”
– Longworth, 1966
Bruce Menning writes: “… Suvorov would refine more than four decades of experience into a simple set of guidelines to govern the training and indoctrination of soldiers in the fundamentals of the military art. His prescriptions, known as The Art of Victory, were initially circulated in manuscript form, temporarily forgotten after his death, then published and reprinted eight times between 1806 and 1811. … Although ‘The Art of Victory’ dates to 1795, evidence shows that Suvorov first professed systematic views on training during the 1760s, when he returned from the Prussian campaigns to assume successive command of the Astrakhan and Suzdal infantry regiments.
By 1765, he had worked out a successful training program, the Suzdal Regulations, which served as a legitimate supplement to the official drill regulations of 1763. In consonance with circumstances and in agreement with regulations, in each succeeding command he sought to extend and institutionalize his program of systematic troop training. These elaborations and various discrete instructions would eventually culminate in The Art of Victory.
The developmental aspect aside, the Suzdal Regulations already reveal the foundations of his training system:
– begin with an understanding of the soldier and his needs
– recognize the necessity of creating under strong supervision a confident fighting man
– develop a sense of individual and group identity
– engage in constant, progressive, and repetitive training under conditions gradually approaching those of genuine combat.
… Emphasis fell on practical explanation and demonstration in terms understandable to the average soldier … He ordered his men not to cry out in battle as did the ‘barbarians,’ and he restricted officers and NCOs to shouting orders and his troops to chanting rousing hurrahs in unison. What he wanted his soldiers to project both to the enemy and to themselves was a sense of self-contained control, a sense of disciplined will power that led inevitably to victory.”
In 1796 and 1798 were issued so-called The Infantry Codes. Suvorov dismissed them as a “rat-chewed package found in a castle” and made no attempt to enforce them among his troops. Suvorov wrote: “Russians have always beaten Prussians, so what would we want to borrow from them?” When Suvorov received wooden rulers to measure soldiers’ queues and side curls, he said, “Hair powder is not gunpowder, curls are not cannons, a queue is not a sword, and I am not a German…”
These words led to a break between him and the monarch.
4.The commander, his tactics and strategy.
“Act solely on the offensive.
Speedy marches, impetus in the attack, cold steel.
… Never split your forces to guard a variety of points.” – Suvorov to de Lumian, 1798
When Suvorov finally rose to command in the 1760s and 1770s, he burst into this well-ordered world as an innovator, a field commander whose tactical and operational conceptions were often at variance with European military convention. On his arrival in Italy he laid down that the correspondence among generals must be brief and to the point (and devoided of honorifics) Officers and generals who failed it were called “know-nothings” by Suvorov. He expected the reports to be exact and specific, without the “casualties being considerable” or “large force of enemy.”
In contrast with the languid methods and tactics of his day, Sovorov marched rapidly, struck unexpectedly, attacked seemingly helter-skelter from a variety of formations, and pursued relentlessly. … Whether in combat against Polish rebels, Tatar tribesmen, Turkish janissaries, French revolutionaries, or Prussian grenadiers, Suvorov’s stress on thorough preparation and speedy execution was sufficient to produce threescore major and minor victories, often in the face of hopeless odds. (- Bruce Menning)
Even the best commanders had weaknessesses and made mistakes.
Suvorov was not perfect general, his weaknesses were:
– despite putting great emphasis on the rapidity of movements,
officers with reports were frequently forced to wait half a day
(Suvorov was drank and asleep !)
– absence of interest in logistics and staff work.
For this reason the services of Austrian staff officers
were priceless to Suvorov.
“Speedy marches … [and] … Never split your forces
to guard a variety of points.” – Suvorov
In strategy the speed was probably the most important thing for Suvorov. When the Austrian generals complained to Suvorov on the rapidity of the marches and the suffering of the infantry as they marched through the rain-filled terrain, the fieldmarshal replied: “It comes to my attention that certain people complain that the infantry have got their feet wet. That is what happens in wet weather … Only women, dandies, and slugabeds want to keep their feet dry. In future any loudmouth who complains against the imperial service will be dismissed from his command as a big-head. …” Stragglers who complained were beaten with ramrods, while the Cossacks who policed the rear and the flanks were delighted to torment the suffering Austrians. Suvorov’s troops (with artillery) were able to cover 60 km in 24 hours. It tells volumes about Suvorov’s ability to drive his troops.
In the war against France Suvorov recommended to send 100,000 Austrians and 100,000 Russians across the middle Rhine River, directly on Paris. Tzar Paul ignored it, for he preferred to engage the armies on several fronts.
When the French put their trust in dispersal and static obstacles (ridges, rivers etc.) Suvorov staked everything on concentration and speed.
In Italy he explained his intentions to the Austrian generals in a few rushed phrases, and launched an offensive which swept along the northern edge of the plains under the Alps. The troops were forced to march in Suvorovian style, and Bagration took the lead with the Russian advance guard. Suvorov had effected a decisive concentration of troops on the upper Adda River and then crushed the enemy. The victory on the Adda River broke the French army in northern Italy and opened the way to the liberation of Piedmont. Suvorov was successful everywhere.
Unfortunately instead of invading France, the monarchs and politicians sent Suvorov to Switzerland to replace the Austrian element of an Austro-Russian army. Meanwhile French General Massena defeated the 20,000-man Russian army of Rimsky-Korsakov at Zьrich. That left Suvorov’s 18,000 men, exhausted and short of provisions, to face Massйna’s 80,000 troops.
The only alternative to annihilation was to undertake a historically unparalleled withdrawal over the Alps. The French reached Glarus first, but Suvorov evaded the trap by redirecting his troops through the village of Elm.
On October 6 Suvorov commenced a trek through the deep snows of Panixer Pass and into the 9,000-foot mountains of the Bьndner Oberland. The 70-years old fieldmarshal led his troops over three alpine passes in 10 days. Many Russians slipped from the cliffs or succumbed to cold and hunger, but Suvorov, never admitting that he was retreating, eventually escaped encirclement and reached the Rhine River with the bulk of his army intact.
Suvorov’s Alpine feat gained the grudging admiration of the astonished French and earned him the nickname of the Russian Hannibal, but it did nothing to improve his standing with the Russian monarch, who, disgusted with Austrian policy and conduct, withdrew from the coalition. ( Source: www.avantart.com)
– The New York Times writes: “Suvorov, considered the most brilliant of all Czarist generals, carried out one of the most extraordinary feats in either the Alps or the history of warfare – a sort of late 18th-century Dunkirk achieved without rescuers.” (Article “Where Cossacks Crossed the Alps” by Marcia Lieberman, March 6, 2007)
– American writer, J. T. Headley wrote that Hannibal’s exploits (ext.link) were “mere child’s play beside it.”
As for the battle formations, the line was to be used against
European troops [French,Poles,Prussians] and squares against the Turks.
Columns were for movement.
Pictures: Russian musketier 1763-1786 (left),
and grenadier of musketier regiment 1786-1796 (right).
Pictures by Viskovatov, Russia,
Suvorov’s tactics were based on columnar formation for the approach, and deployment into line for combat. His infantry often took cover, for example at Novi entire jagers regiments were hidden in the wheat and barley field. His line infantry were often placed behind a ridge or houses.
Suvorov’s cavalry was expected to attack in two lines in chequer formation, leaving intervals between the squadrons so that the second line can break through the gaps in case the attack of the first line was thrown back. The order ‘Halt !’ was forbidden during action – it was only for the parade ground. The cavalry and Cossacks pursued the enemy.
Suvorov put his exceptionally successful tactics into few words. “An attack against the enemy centre was inadvisable. An attack against the rear was the most advantegous of all, through it was practicable only for smaller bodies. As for the battle formations, the line was to be used against western European troops, and squares against the Turks. There were three fundamental military principles:
– coup d’oeil an eye for situation and ground
(Duffy – “Eagles over the Alps” pp 16-17)
Suvorov versus French generals.
British historian Christopher Duffy declared that
“Suvorov would have beaten Bonaparte in 1800,
and can only regret that he never had the opportunity.”
Seven future French marshals campaigned against the 70-years old Suvorov in 1799, and only St.Cyr escaped the unhappy experience which overtook Grouchy, Macdonald, Mortier, Perignon, Serurier and Victor.
For his victory over Joubert, Suvorov was named “the first commander in Europe.”
General Berthelemy Joubert (1769-1799) had been marked out as a future great captain by Napoleon himself. After the battle, his remains were brought to France and buried in Fort La Malgue, and the Directory paid tribute to his memory by a ceremony of public mourning.
He “was a pure product of the Revolution, and … won golden opinions from Bonaparte in Italy in 1796. Bonaparte now prized Joubert as a reliable man to leave in the European theatre, when the best of the French troops were campaigning in the Orient; the Directory valued him as a soldier who would bolster its military credit while being innocent of political designs.” (Duffy – “Eagles over the Alps” p 130)
When Joubert took command over the army facing Suvorov, four future marshals held important posts or commands: Grouchy as a divisional commander, Suchet as chief of staff, Perignon as lef wing commander, and St.Cyr as right wing commander.
Generals Scherer and Moreau were defeated in the opening stages of the Italian campaign, and a third of that rank, Serurier, was taken prisoner. Jean Serurier was an able and trustworthy soldier who had a lengthy military career.
The campaign and battle of Trebbia produced a further crop of trophies: General Macdonald had been sabered outside Modena and was now wounded in the same culminating battle which left General Victor wounded, and the acting divisional commanders Olivier and Rusca not only bleeding but captured.
Victor earned his marshal’s baton at Friedland in 1807. Sent to Spain, Victor had some successes – defeating Spanish troops at Espinosa and Medillin – but lost several battales to the British. In 1815, after Waterloo Marshal Victor voted for Marshal Ney’s death.
After three days’ fighting at Trebbia, Macdonald retired to Genoa. In 1800 Etienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre MacDonald received the command of the French troops in Switzerland which was to maintain the communications between the armies of Germany and of Italy. He carried out his orders to the letter. InWagram in 1809 he commanded the famous column of attack. After the Battle of Leipzig, he was ordered with Prince Poniatowski to cover the evacuation of Leipzig; after the blowing up of the bridge, he managed to swim the Elster, while Poniatowski was drowned. During the campaign of 1814 in France, Macdonald distinguished himself.
At Novi the French commander Joubert was killed outright, which cut short a career of exceptional promise, while Generals Grouchy and Perignon followed fashion being disabled by wounds and falling in the hands of the Allies. Grouchy received 14 wounds !
The names by themselves indicate that Suvorov was by no means dealing with the second line of French commanders in 1799. In 1799 Emmanuel de Grouchy distinguished himself greatly as a divisional commander in the campaign against the Austrians and Russians. He served in Austria in 1805, in Prussia in 1806, Poland in 1807, where he distinguished himself at Eylau and Friedland, Russia in 1812, Germany in 1813, France in 1814, and Belgium in 1815. After the battle of Ligny he was appointed to command the right wing to pursue the Prussians.
“The question is sometimes put as to who would have won, if Suvorov had remained in the southern theatre of war, stay in good health, and encountered Bonaparte in 1800. … The two mens’ opinions of one another now become of some interest.
Much later the considered judgement of Bonaparte, or rather Napoleon, was that Suvorov had ‘the soul of a great commander, but not the brains. He was extremely strong willed, he was amazingly active and utterly fearless – but he was as devoid of genius as he was ignorant of the art of war.”
Suvorov followed Bonaparte’s career with the closest interest, and he once exclaimed to Roverea: “That man had stolen my secret, the speed of my marches !”
Suvorov had written in 1796: “The young Bonaparte, how he moves ! He is a hero, a giant, a magician. He overcomes nature and he overcomes men. He turned the Alps as if they did not exist … My conclusion is this. That as long as General Bonaparte keeps his wits about him he will be victorious; he possesses the higher elements of the military art in a happy balance. But if, unfortunately for him, he throws himself into the whirlpool of politics, he will lose the coherence of his thoughts and he will be lost.” (- Christopher Duffy)
Battle of Novi, August 1799.
“… two great armies were engaged for more than 12 hours
… it was one of the most remarkable combats of infantry
which have taken place since the invention of firearms.”
– Anon., “The History of the Campaign of 1799, in Italy”
On August 15 1799 at Novi Suvorov defeated French army under General Joubert. Suvorov had Austrian corps under Kray (Bellegarde’s and Ott’s troops), and Russian corps under Derfelden (Bagration, Miloradovich, Derfelden). Joubert’s right wing was under St.Cyr, the center under Moreau, and the left wing was under Perignon (Grouchy, Lemoine, and cavalry)
Griffith and Phipps gave 40,000 French and 50,000 Allies, Ross gave 60,000 French and 68,000 Allies. The Allies were slightly stronger but the French occupied the ridge near Novi, and their both flanks were strongly defended. The Novi town was protected by a medieval wall. The only weakness was that in case of a retreat it was a death-trap due to deep-cut valleys and steep banks in the rear.
The first shots were exchanged in very early morning (3:20 AM). Lemoine’s and Grouchy’s divisions and cavalry of the left wing were pushed back by the Austrians. The Austrians however had to negotiate the difficult terrain and the vineyards giving the enemy time to regain his composure. Bellegarde’s and Ott’s infantry were counterattacked and thrown back.
After 9 AM the whitecoats came in larger numbers and again resolutely marched up the slopes. They were however thrown back by musket volleys and canister fire. One French brigade pursued the enemy down the slope but in the plain was charged by the Austrian cavalry. While General Partouneaux was taken prisoner his infantrymen were chased back to the ridge.
Kray deployed 40 Austrian guns and pounded the French on the ridge.
Before 10 AM Derfelden attacked Novi with Bagration’s infantry. They took the suburb but were halted by the city wall. The French counterattacked and with the aid of Watrin’s division threw the Russians back. Miloradovich’s infantry arrived and stabilized the front. Derfelden arrived with 6,100 troops and together with Bagration drove back Watrin’s division. The Russian advance was halted by French skirmishers and artillery. Before 3 PM the Russian grenadiers moved up the slope attempting a bayonet attack. The French on the ridge however delivered a deadly volley and the grenadiers fell back. The grenadiers then were chased by the French skirmishers towards Pozzolo.
Meanwhile Suvorov ordered Melas’ Austrian corps (8,600 men) to join him. The bulk of Melas’ corps was made of 9 grenadier battalions. Two grenadier battalions stormed the hill defended by Watrin’s infantry and captured it without firing a single shot. The grenadiers however were unable to dislodge the French from houses and vineyards. What persuaded the French to abandon their positions was the arrival of 7 grenadier battalions and their advance (to sounding music) against the the French rear.
Between 3 and 4 PM Kray’s Austrian corps renewed his attack. Novi was attacked frontally by the Russians and from the flank by Austrian grenadiers. Gardanne’s infantrymen kept firing from the walls and windows until the enemy penetrated the town. The French then fought their way out. Before 6 PM the French army fell back along the entire line. There was no contact between the two French wings. While Moreau managed to rally the right wing, the left wing was around Pasturana. Grouchy was unhorsed and taken prisoner, Perignon received a spectacular saber cut across his forehead and also captured.
Colli and his 2,000 infantrymen were taken prisoner. The French lost 16,000 killed, wounded and prisoners, and 36 guns, while the Austro-Russian army suffered only 8,000 casualties. In the night the noon shone brightly, though the powdersmoke was hanging in the air.
It was a disaster for the French.
5. In Suvorov’s own words:
“The bullet’s an idiot, the bayonet’s a fine chap.”
(Underlying principle of the war: get in the enemy’s face !)
“Attack with what comes up, with what God sends;
the cavalry to begin, smash, strike, cut off, don’t let slip, hurra! hura!”
(Offensive over defensive action.)
“The enemy doesn’t expect us, reckons us 100 verst away, and if a long way off to begin with, 200, 300 or more– suddenly we’re on him, like snow on the head; his head spins.”
“One minute decides the outcome of a battle, one hour – the success of a campaign, one day – the fate of an empire.”
(Suvorov ceaselessly trained his soldiers to cover vast distances with little rest. Not surprisingly, rigorous training paid handsome dividends: in 1769 on the way to Brest, his Suzdalers covered 275 miles in 11 traverses, an average march pace of nearly 26 miles per day; in 1799, during the summer heat of the Italian campaign, he once marched nearly 53 miles in 36 hours, then fought a major three-day engagement. Not without reason does Longworth remark that Suvorov “was obsessed with the idea of speed.”)
“In future any loudmouth who complains
[on speedy marches through the rain-filled terrain]
… will be dismissed from his command as a big-head. …”
“The [Austrian] Archduke Charles did nothing
and spent nearly 3 months in Unterkunft”
(On missed opportunities in war.)
Suvorov adapted the word Unterkunft (lodging, accommodation, logistics, “under the bed”) to mean missed opportunities. Suvorov complained about his Austrian allies: “Although you were the victor, you stopped and sat down in Unterkunft and indecision. Having shot up the enemy, you should have chased him” (- Longworth, 1965, 249).
“Train hard, fight easy.”
“… troops be taught only that which was necessary in combat.”
“It is necessary to fight with skill, not numbers.”
(On the importance of training.)
Although Sovorov preached strict adherence to regulations in garrison, in the field he was less concerned with appearance, evenness of step, and glitter, than he was with the troops’ ability to move fast and to change formations readily. (- Bruce Menning)
Austrian colonel was impressed with Suvorov’s infantry: “… when they advance in line, their maneuvers are simple and rapid.” In contrast the Russian infantry commanded by Rimsky-Korsakov in Switzerland and Hermann in Holland “waddled slowly forward to the tap-tap of their monotonous drums, and if they were beaten they waddled slowly back again …”
“Large staffs- small victories.”
(On bureaucracies and large headquarters staffs.)
“Fire sparingly, but fire accurately.”
(Bayonet attack and offensive action are important,
but don’t neglect the firepower. Aiming is more
important than fast firing.)
Glory, glory, glory!”
(These were not mere slogans for the soldiers, but a means for remembering a system that led to the desired results. Exercise and cleanliness, promoted sound health in an era when many armies lost more men to disease than to combat. The Russian Army’s mortality rate was 20-25 percent until Suvorov took over; then it dropped to 1 percent. Discipline, cleanliness, and smartness are similar to elements of 5S-CANDO: clearing up, arranging, neatness, discipline, ongoing improvement. In combination with cheerfulness, daring, and courage – evoked, no doubt, by training to instill self-confidence and the knowledge that the Russian soldier could do whatever the situation demanded of him – these led to victory and glory. – E. Rose, S. Buckley, B. Levinson and R. Odom)
“How many stars are there in the sky?” – Suvorov asked a private on the parade ground. “I don’t know, but I’ll count them at once !” – replied the soldier.
(This answer delighted Suvorov. He didn’t care whether the answer was scientific or not. The soldier’s immediate willingness to try to find an answer is what pleased Suvorov the most. In contrast to statements like, “I’m a soldier, they don’t pay me to think,” Suvorov detested Nichtwissers “know-nothings” or “I-don’t-know-Sirs”, i.e. people who were unwilling to take responsibility for thinking for themselves. Some of his practices seemed very eccentric to anyone who didn’t understand their underlying purpose.)