ALEKSYEI ANDREEVICH ARAKCHEEV, Count (1769-1834), Russian soldier and statesman, was descended from an ancient family of Great Novgorod.
Arakcheev speedily won the entire confidence of Paul by his scrupulous zeal and undeniable technical ability.
On the accession of Paul to the throne Arakcheev was promptly summoned to St Petersburg, appointed military commandant in the capital, and major-general in the grenadier battalion of the Preobrazhenskoe Guard.
It was to Arakcheev that Paul entrusted the reorganization of the army, which during the latter days of Catherine had fallen into a state of disorder and demoralization.
Arakcheev remorselessly applied the iron Gatchina discipline to the whole of the imperial forces, beginning with the Guards.
It was a fatal step on Paul's part, for everything goes to prove that he would never have been assassinated had Arakcheev continued by his side.
During the earlier years of Alexander, Arakcheev was completely overlooked.
All critics agree, indeed, that the Arakcheev administration was the golden era of the Russian artillery.
At Austerlitz he had the satisfaction of witnessing the actual results of his artillery reforms. The commissariat scandals which came to light after the peace of Tilsit convinced the emperor that nothing short of the stern and incorruptible energy of Arakcheev could reach the sources of the evil, and in January 1808 he was appointed inspector-general and war minister.
When, on the outbreak of the Swedish war of 1809, the emperor ordered the army to take advantage of an unusually severe frost and cross the ice of the Gulf of Finland, it was only the presence of Arakcheev that compelled an unwilling general and a semi-mutinous army to begin a campaign which ended in the conquest of Finland.
On the institution of the "Imperial Council" (1st of January 1810), Arakcheev was made a member of the council of ministers and a senator, while still retaining the war office.
It is true, Arakcheev took no active part in the war of 1812, but all the correspondence and despatches relating to it passed through his hands, and he was the emperor's inseparable companion during the whole course of it.
From this time Alexander's confidence in Arakcheev steadily increased, and the emperor imparted to him, first of all, his many projects of reform, especially his project of military colonies, the carrying out of the details of which was committed to Arakcheev (1824).
In Alexander's last years Arakcheev was not merely his chief counsellor, but his dearest friend, to whom he submitted all his projects for consideration and revision.
On the accession of Nicholas I., Arakcheev, thoroughly broken in health, gradually restricted his immense sphere of activity, and on the 26th of April 1826, resigned all his offices and retired to Carlsbad.
Arakcheev died on the 21st of April 1834, with his eyes fixed to the last on the late emperor's portrait.
See Vasily Ratch, Memorials of Count Arakcheev (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1864); Mikhail Ivanovich Semevsky, Count Arakcheev and the Military Colonies (Rus.) (St Petersburg, 1871); Theodor Schiemann, Gesch.
High, with eleven towers; it contains the lawcourts, the governor's residence, the arsenal, barracks, the military gymnasium of Count Arakcheev (transferred from old Novgorod), a small museum and two cathedrals, Preobrazhenski and Arkhangelski.
It is not true; there are now two Russians, Miloradovich, and Dokhturov, and there would be a third, Count Arakcheev, if his nerves were not too weak.
Now all these men were replaced by Speranski on the civil side, and Arakcheev on the military.
He did not know Arakcheev personally, had never seen him, and all he had heard of him inspired him with but little respect for the man.
Arakcheev turned his head toward him without looking at him.
I do not approve of it, said Arakcheev, rising and taking a paper from his writing table.
The day after his interview with Count Arakcheev, Prince Andrew spent the evening at Count Kochubey's.
He told the count of his interview with Sila Andreevich (Kochubey spoke of Arakcheev by that nickname with the same vague irony Prince Andrew had noticed in the Minister of War's anteroom).
Kochubey said a few words about the reception Arakcheev had given Bolkonski.
Arakcheev looked at the Emperor from under his brow and, sniffing with his red nose, stepped forward from the crowd as if expecting the Emperor to address him.
(Boris understood that Arakcheev envied Balashev and was displeased that evidently important news had reached the Emperor otherwise than through himself.)
But the Emperor and Balashev passed out into the illuminated garden without noticing Arakcheev who, holding his sword and glancing wrathfully around, followed some twenty paces behind them.
Davout was to Napoleon what Arakcheev was to Alexander--though not a coward like Arakcheev, he was as precise, as cruel, and as unable to express his devotion to his monarch except by cruelty.
This inevitability alone can explain how the cruel Arakcheev, who tore out a grenadier's mustache with his own hands, whose weak nerves rendered him unable to face danger, and who was neither an educated man nor a courtier, was able to maintain his powerful position with Alexander, whose own character was chivalrous, noble, and gentle.
Besides these, there were in attendance on the Emperor without any definite appointments: Arakcheev, the ex-Minister of War; Count Bennigsen, the senior general in rank; the Grand Duke Tsarevich Constantine Pavlovich; Count Rumyantsev, the Chancellor; Stein, a former Prussian minister; Armfeldt, a Swedish general; Pfuel, the chief author of the plan of campaign; Paulucci, an adjutant general and Sardinian emigre; Wolzogen--and many others.
Though these men had no military appointment in the army, their position gave them influence, and often a corps commander, or even the commander-in-chief, did not know in what capacity he was questioned by Bennigsen, the Grand Duke, Arakcheev, or Prince Volkonski, or was given this or that advice and did not know whether a certain order received in the form of advice emanated from the man who gave it or from the Emperor and whether it had to be executed or not.
Arakcheev was a faithful custodian to enforce order and acted as the sovereign's bodyguard.
The members of this party, chiefly civilians and to whom Arakcheev belonged, thought and said what men who have no convictions but wish to seem to have some generally say.
Just at the time Prince Andrew was living unoccupied at Drissa, Shishkov, the Secretary of State and one of the chief representatives of this party, wrote a letter to the Emperor which Arakcheev and Balashev agreed to sign.
He wrote to Arakcheev, the Emperor's confidant: It must be as my sovereign pleases, but I cannot work with the Minister (meaning Barclay).
Dear Count Alexis Andreevich--(He was writing to Arakcheev but knew that his letter would be read by the Emperor, and therefore weighed every word in it to the best of his ability.)
But on the eighth of August a committee, consisting of Field Marshal Saltykov, Arakcheev, Vyazmitinov, Lopukhin, and Kochubey met to consider the progress of the war.
When Arakcheev, coming to him from the Emperor, said that Ermolov ought to be appointed chief of the artillery, Kutuzov replied: "Yes, I was just saying so myself," though a moment before he had said quite the contrary.
And this courtier, as he is described to us, who lies to Arakcheev to please the Emperor, he alone--incurring thereby the Emperor's displeasure--said in Vilna that to carry the war beyond the frontier is useless and harmful.
Having left Petersburg on the seventh of December with his suite--Count Tolstoy, Prince Volkonski, Arakcheev, and others--the Emperor reached Vilna on the eleventh, and in his traveling sleigh drove straight to the castle.
Denisov, not being a member of the family, did not understand Pierre's caution and being, as a malcontent, much interested in what was occurring in Petersburg, kept urging Pierre to tell them about what had happened in the Semenovsk regiment, then about Arakcheev, and then about the Bible Society.