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Birthday of Ivan Ivanovich Diebitsch-Zabalkansky, Russian General Field Marshal, count, the last representative of Diebitsch family

13 May 1785

2 (13) May 1785 in Grosleype (Silesia) was born Ivan Ivanovich Diebitsch (Hans Karl Friedrich Anton), Russian Field-Marshal, count, an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, full Knight of the Order of Saint Martyr and the Triumphant George.          

Ivan Diebitsch came from Silesian nobility, he was the son of the baron, who transferred from the Prussian to the Russian service. Diebitsch graduated from the Cadet Corps in Berlin. In 1801, on the invitation of the Russian Emperor Paul I, he came to Russia and was appointed an ensign in the Guards. Ivan distinguished himself during the campaigns of 1805-1807 against Napoleon, and participated in the battles of Austerlitz and Preussisch Eylau; in 1811, he was promoted to colonel. From 1810 Diebitsch had been in the retinue of Emperor Alexander I.

During the Patriotic War of 1812 Diebitsch was chief quartermaster of the 1st Infantry Corps and the Quartermaster General of P. H. Wittgenstein’s army which defended the approaches to St. Petersburg. For bravery and leadership of the army near Klyastitsami in summer of 1812 he was awarded the Order of St. George 3rd Class.

Diebitsch also showed great diplomatic skills. In December 1812 he signed the Convention of Tauroggen under which the Prussian troops ceased hostilities against Russia. For participation in the Battle of Leipzig (1813), Alexander I promoted the military diplomat to lieutenant general. Two years later Diebitsch became chief of staff of the 1st Army. In 1821 he accompanied Alexander I to Laybahsky Congress and became the closest person to him, and in 1824 was appointed Chief of Staff. In 1828 he was promoted to general of infantry. Beyond his duties in the new office, Diebitsch, at the behest of the sovereign, was to attend the State Council from 1823, and from 1824 - the Committee of Ministers.

In December 1825 Diebitsch informed Nicholas I of the impending Decembrist revolt, and then personally supervised their arrests in the 2nd Army, which provided him the favor of the emperor. Two years later, General of Infantry Baron Diebitsch was awarded the title of count.

Diebitsch brilliantly distinguished himself in the Russian-Turkish war of 1828-1829. From the beginning of the war he was in the regular army, took part in the siege of Varna (Bulgaria), for which he was awarded the Order of St. Andrew. In early 1829, General Diebitsch replaced Field Marshal Wittgenstein at the post of the commander. The war in the Balkan theater was going well for the Russian army. In the Battle of Kulevchi, Diebitsch, having defined the direction of the main attack of the enemy, managed to concentrate large forces against him. For this victory he was awarded the Order of St. George 2nd degree.

Soon after the Battle of Kulevchi, the Turkish fortress of Silistra was seized. However, the chief commander became most famous for the crossing of the Balkans: as a result the Russian forces came to Adrianople. Thus, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople, found itself under a real threat, which predetermined the overall outcome of the war and signing of Adrianople Peace Treaty. For success in this war, Tsar Nicholas I granted Diebitsch the naming of Zabalkansky and awarded him the Order of St. George of the 1st class, as well as diamond symbols of the Order of St. Andrew. In autumn 1829 the count Diebitsch-Zabalkansky was granted the rank of Field Marshal.

In November 1830 an uprising in the Polish Kingdom began. The count was assigned to suppress it. Protracted fighting was complicated by a cholera epidemic that threatened the Russian army. Vicar of Kingdom of Poland, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich, died of cholera. The disease struck the field marshal too.

Ivan Diebitsch died on 29 May (June 10) 1831. His body was embalmed and forwarded to St. Petersburg. The funeral took place at the Volkov Lutheran cemetery.

Lit.: Безотосный В. М. Словарь русских генералов, участников боевых действий против армии Наполеона Бонапарта в 1812-1815 гг. // Российский архив. Т. VII М., 1996; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL:; Граф Дибич на Кавказе в 1827 году // Древняя и новая Россия. 1880. № 9; Император Николай Павлович и гр. Дибич-Забалканский: Переписка 1828-1830 гг. // Русская старина. 1880-1883; Михайловский-Данилевский А. И. Воспоминания о фельдмаршале графе Дибиче // Русский вестник. 1842. № 5/6; Рубцов Ю. В. «Был неустрашим, решителен на поле брани...» // Ориентир. 1999. № 9; Фельдмаршал граф Дибич-Забалканский в его воспоминаниях, записанных в 1830 г. бароном Тизенгаузеном // Русская старина. 1891. Март — май; Шишов А. В. Русские генерал-фельдмаршалы Дибич-Забалканский, Паскевич-Эриванский. М., 2001.

From the Presidential library materials:

Дибич-Забалканский И. И. // Энциклопедический словарь / Под ред. проф. И. Е. Андреевского. Т. 10а. СПб., 1893. С. 569-570;

Полевой Н. А. Дибич Иоанн Иоаннович // Русские полководцы, или Жизнь и подвиги российских полководцев от времён императора Петра Великого до царствования императора Николая I. СПб., 1845. С. 285-306.