139. Little silly war
“Beat the enemy, sparing neither him nor yourself, the one who feels less sorry for himself wins.”
“Who is good for the first role, not suitable for the second”
“Those who are scared are already half defeated.”
“Never despise the enemy, whatever he is. Try to know his weapons and how they act and fight; know what he is strong in and what he is weak in.”
Frederick II, never reluctant to express his opinion, told Russian ambassador that to deal with the Bar Confederacy Russia has to have in Poland and Lithuania at least 90,000 troops plus to keep a special corps oof 30 - 40,000 on the border. 
his advice was ignored. Chairmen of the military department of the State Council, Fieldmarshal Rumyantsev  expressed an opinion that a big deployment is not going to be needed against the ill-organized partisan bands if the operations are being conducted energetically. Victory by the mass deployment,
unlike victory by a small force, would not add to the Russian military reputation. Besides, this would be a good training opportunity (and a chance for promotion) for the younger generation of the Russian commander. Minister of War concurred and assured that he’ll assign to the task the mid-rank officers well suitable for the task. Emperor Peter made his choice of a military leader of the future campaign, lieutenant-general Alexander Bibikov, a knowledgeable officer with a good administrative and military record.
Just to avoid unnecessary illusions in Berlin and Vienna regarding a general size and might of the Russian army, some very massive
military review should be held either in Moscow or (depending upon the general situation) somewhere closer to border with the ambassadors of Prussia and Austria being present).
Strictly speaking, majority of the population in Poland and Lithuania remained rather indifferent to the uprising: the main classes involved were clergy and nobility. However, the lower classes had no option but to cooperate with the armed szlachta: even the powerful magnates are now were bending to its demands. The bands of confederates roamed all over the country, confiscating the government’s money and looting the friend and foe. This ability to loot with impunity unsurprisingly was attracting to the “cause” some members of the lower classes as well. Confederates did not have a supreme commander and were reluctant to obey any discipline but they were “historically experienced” in a guerrilla war. Their strength was in the fast movements and attack on the small parties and baggage trains thus exhausting the enemy.
On the first stage of the operation the Russian troops were ill-prepared to this type of a war. Russian ambassador, Repnin, wrote: “our troops are chasing this wind but can’t catch it
.” The first successes, including taking of Bar and defeat of Pulasski, just resulted in appearance of the new bands elsewhere. Frederick was already talking about a need of 120,000 in Poland and 50,000 in Lithuania . There was a need in a comprehensive plan.
On January 5 1771 Bibikov arrived to Warsaw. His instruction was simple: under guidance of the ambassador, Prince Repnin, act against the confederates according to the circumstances. During the following operation there were no further attempts of interfering in his operations.
As far as Repnin saw the general situation, the confederates are going to try capturing Warsaw, with the king in it, force him to join them with the crown troops and declare a general confederacy
(if capture succeed, then declaration regarding dethronement can be ignored in a view of his usefulness as a figurehead). Based on this assumption, Repnin and Bibikov decided: (1) concentrate most of the troops in a Greater Poland leaving a smaller corps in Lithuania  , (2) the Lithuanian corps under command of general Nummers has a complete freedom of actions but its main task will be to maintain communication with the Polish corps via Vilno and Grodno, (3) In Greater Poland keep the main detachment in Warsaw and with the rest of the force occupy the strategically important places in such a way that they could be easily concentrated in Warsaw. (4) The Greater Poland has to be divided into the sectors and to each of them certain amount of troops is going to be assigned based upon its significance. (5) In each of these sectors to hold the important places with the minimal forces and use the rest as a mobile reserve for acting against the partisans in partisan-like manner,
aka, by the fast moving columns, surprise attacks, etc. (6) there must be a general mobile reserve for acting n the whole Poland on the order of commander-in-chief.
To securely isolate the confederates from the South (Austrians), a separate corps of 8,500 had been moved into Volyn and Podolia. Its operations were organized based on the same principle as of the “Polish corps”.
Here comes the “strategic factor” (). Vanguard of the Lithuanian Corps (Suzdalsky regiment, cuirassiers squadron and dragoons squadron) had been under command of brigadier Suvorov. Brigadier was short, fragile, quarrelsome and very ambitious . So far, his service was rather unremarkable and this was his first serious chance to demonstrate that he is also a great military leader so he was ready to jump to the first opportunity opportunity, which soon presented itself.
[Side note. Portrait above is a real official portrait of Suvorov at the age of 52 by Dmitry Levitsky. In 1786, Levitsky received an order for a series of portraits of the Knights of the Order of St. Vladimir, established by Catherine II in 1782. The “everybody knows” appearance has as its source portrait by Saxon painter Johann Heinrich Schmidt made in 1800 in Prague when Suvorov was almost 80 years old. It was from this portrait that many lists were made, the authors of which often rejuvenated Suvorov and almost always "changed" him from an Austrian uniform to a Russian one, at the same time changing the collection of numerous awards.
Needless to say that both portraits most probably did some “improvements” of the original as was a contemporary habit. On a medal minted be the order of CII in his honor his nose looks much less classic. Well, the painters managed to paint Paul I with almost “classic” nose. ]
Vanguard of Nummers’ corps marched on Minsk and entered the city on July 29 after which Suvorov got an order to load his infantry on the confiscated carts and move “by the straight road via Grodno to Warsaw” leaving the baggage train in Minsk.
The rest of Nummers’ corps remained in Lithuania where population was relatively indifferent to the confederate cause and where 5,000-6,000 of the crown Lithuanian troops had been stationed.
Suvorov started his independent military career with ignoring the order and, instead of Minsk-Grodno-Warsaw, marched by the route Brest-Warsaw. On August 22 he was in Praga covering 550 versts in 24-25 marches. Route through Brest allowed him to get familiar with the future theater of operations and to find a new direction of the raids overlooked by Repnin. However, after doing few scouting parties, on August 29 he, with 2 infantry battalions, cavalry squadron, 50 Cossacks and 2 cannons, was marching back to Brest-Litovsk to help Nummers against whom, and with a purpose to start uprising in Lithuania, was riding Pulasski. Upon arrival, he found that the confederates already left the city and to Russian detachments of colonels von Rönne and von Drewitz (1,500 and 2,000) are following them. Considering it necessary to keep Brest in the form of a stronghold, he left part of his forces there for protection, himself - with a company of grenades of the Suzdal Infantry Regiment, 36 dragoons of the Vladimir Dragoon Regiment, 50 Cossacks and 2 field guns - came from Brest to the south and walked all night. At dawn on September 1 (11), he met von Rönne's patrol - 50 Carabiniers and 30 Cossacks under the command of Captain Count Castelli - and attached it to his detachment. Now he had 320 under his command. Having again made a 35-back night march, Suvorov on September 2 at about noon caught up with the Confederates, totalling about 2 thousand with 2 guns, under the command of Puławsky, Arzhevsky, Malchevsky, near the village of Orekhovo. The Confederates took position four versts from Orekhov in the Krivno tract - on a small glade surrounded by swamps.
Approaching the swamp over which 4 (according to other sources - 3) bridges were thrown, the grenadiers rushed to the bridges, and the jagers, turning right and left, opened rifle fire. After crossing the swamp the grenadiers took position with a rear protected by the forest and the jagers, spreaded on the flanks, opened the fire. Carabiners and dragoons crossed the swamp after the infantry and the Cossacks had been left behind the swamp to protect the rear. Suvorov, at the head of 36 dragoons, attacked the enemy battery, while the Carabiniers simultaneously attacked the confederate cavalry protecting the guns. The Confederates, afraid of losing their guns, removed them from the position, took them behind the line and then attacked the grenadier from the front. Suvorov's infantry met the Poles with heavy fire and threw them away. The repulsed squadrons were replaced, however, with new ones, the attack resumed, but again failed. The Confederates attacked four times and every time with fresh squadrons, but all four times unsuccessfully, because they were repulsed by detachments of grenadiers, jagers, carabinieriers and dragoons. The Poles suffered great damage, because in addition to well-directed rifle fire, each of their attacks was met with buckshot, and the repulsed squadrons pursued by the Carabiniers chopping the fleeing.
The evening was coming and Suvorov decided to finish the enemy off. On his order Russian artillery used grenades to put Orekhovo village on fire. The Poles were already dispirited by the failure of the attacks they had just made, but now their confusion has been increased by the view of the village burning in the rear. Suvorov used this moment for a general bayonet attack. Russian infantry with the bayonets and carabinires with the swords charged and the Poles fled through the burning village being chased for the next 3 versts.
The Russians lost 5 killed and 11 wounded, the Poles few hundreds. The next day they had been met by the Kargopol Carabiners Regiment of von Roenne at Łomazy (Vlodawa). As a result of a short battle, the confederate column was completely defeated and scattered, suffering heavy losses (500 killed and 130 prisoners). All guns and baggage train were captured by Kargopol Regiment. Roenne was awarded St. George III class.
For the battle at Orekhov Suvorov was promoted into major-general. Needless to say that, being true to himself, Suvorov wrote a very uncomplimentary letter to Bibikov about von Roenne (who was not his subordinate) and his regiment:
“With Rennes, we will reach the worst; he is a ill-famous, trouble-maker, dissolute, lousy soul and, frankly, the master of acquiring what is not his. Except for rudeness, he did not fix anything else here, but except for the above, he is unlikely to be capable of anything. A thick pocket covers everything... The grievances he caused overcome my patience; he is a very bad example for others...I don't mind that I get another regiment on schedule instead of Kargopolsky; not only because of his actions, but also because with this regiment you will get into trouble, and I already have a headache from looking back.”
It worth noticing that Suvorov had been highly praised behavior of that regiment during the campaign, was complimentary of some of its officers and picked himself and orderly out of that regiment after
it was transferred into his command.
Even earlier, pretty much the same schema had been used in a battle os Zawadi (Warsaw area) by colonel Prince Golitsyn. He had 4 infantry companies (less than 500), 60 jagers, 2 squadrons of carabiners (150), 200 cossacks and 4 guns against the “party” of Malchevski and Makranowski which included 3,500 cavalry, 500 infantry, 400 from other partisan parties and 8 guns. Leaving one company behind as a garrison he advanced with the rest. While the vanguards on both sides had been engaged, the main Polish force was absolutely unprepared for the battle. The Polish vanguard was separated from the main force by a swamp and river and, as soon as the main Russian force arrived and attacked from the march, it was almost completely exterminated. After which Golitsyn immediately launched attack against the main Polish force by infantry and artillery at the front (“advance directly at the enemy and charge with a bayonet
”) with the jagers and cavalry covering his left flank against possible Polish counter-attack. 2 squadrons and the Cossacks formed the reserve.
Polish cavalry charge was easily repulsed, Polish infantry was broken, most across the river taken, artillery lost and cavalry which did not manage to extricate itself was destroyed with many drowning in a river. The Polish loss was 400 killed, 600 captured and all 8 guns taken.
The encounter demonstrated that “Suvorov’s methods” were anything but unique in the Russian army. However, he got enough of the name recognition to get assigned his own “Lublin district” that was considered the most important part of the Repnin-Bibikov schema.
By his own definition, defense of the Lublin district was organized “as spider’s net” with Lublin as a center with the natural obstacles used as the ends of the “securing lines” going from Lublin and allowing to secure the river crossings for the future raids. The securing posts were in 50-80 versts from Lublin and observation posts 50-80 verst from the securing posts. Very small size of his contingent forced to compensate a complete impossibility to assign any significant numbers to the forward posts with a high level of a battle readiness and fortification of the positions and encouragement of a local initiative. The commanders were permitted to attack 4 or 5 times greater numbers “but with a reason, skill and sense of responsibility”.
Soon enough he was going to get a chance to act against a really worthy opponent, general Dumouriez.
 Masloskiy “Notes on history of the Russian warfare” (“Записки по истории военного искусства в России”)
 Munnich died in 1767
 In OTL, this was an attempt to figure out a real strength of the Russian army in Poland. The Prussian ambassador in Russia confessed to Frederick that he could not collect an adequate information on this subject. To accomplish the task he proposed to assign the Prussian officers “volunteers” to the Russian army but proposal was politely declined. Finally, he got the data and Frederick did not believe them: “how can one hope to keep order in Poland with such a handful of troops
 This corps included 3 infantry regiments (Novgorodsky, Suzdalsky and Smolensky), 2 cuirassier and 2 dragoon regiments.
 Looks like a pattern…