Oscar Ferdinand Gripenberg

Tsarskoye Selo Memorial outside St. Petersburg over General Oscar Ferdinand Gripenberg’s victory at the Battle of Sandepu. He is thought to be the only foreign-born general in the Russian Army who has received all sorts of awards.Oscar Ferdinand Gripenberg was the son of the crown bailiff Uddo Sten Casimir Gripenberg and Carl Konstantin Gripenberg’s grandson. Oscar Gripenberg had a son Alexander Gripenberg who also advanced to general in the Russian army.

’Following the outbreak of the Russian-Japanese War on September 24, 1904, Gripenberg was appointed commander of the 2nd Manchurian army, but his relationship with the commander-in-chief, General A. N. Kuropatkin, was inconsistent from the outset. The situation escalated in the Battle of Sandepu on 25 January. – January 28, 1905: The army commanded by Gripenberg was defeated because Gripenberg had not received the support he had requested from the commander-in-chief and General Kuropatk had issued a retreat against Gripenberg’s will. After resigning as commander of the 2nd Manchurian Army on January 29, 1905, Gripenberg returned to St. Petersburg and was appointed a member of the Russian State Consul on April 30, 1905, and was appointed an Inspector General of Infantry on June 28, 1905. ”

Brief reminiscences of O.F. Gripenberg’s Russian-language memoirs:

O. F. arrived in Mukden on November 24, 1904. The area is between China, Russia and Korea. The next day he was appointed commander of the Second Manchurian Army. The Japanese fortified the villages in the area.

In early December, O.F. Gripenberg asked the chief for Kuropatk’s permission to attack the weakest villages (Sandepu and others) where the Japanese had just arrived. But he didn’t get permission.

There was a great battle in Port Arthur during this time, which the Japanese won. They then deployed soldiers to the Sandepu area.

Then a Russian officer and his troops withdrew and moved back with the wounded and asked for help and protection. O.F. Gripenberg was told that his troops must be ready to help. But O.F. Gripenberg himself thought he could not, and the Japanese could attack the divided village. He did not want to move so many soldiers and leave much of it without defence. So he asked the general-in-chief for permission to send a couple of troops, but did not receive a reply. Three times he asked and three times Kuropatk said nothing. Fortunately, nothing bad happened.

Then an attack was planned. Kuropatkin also had his own plan and did not listen to what the generals advised. There were a lot of Japanese spies in the villages telling Russians to the Japanese in the evening with light signs. So the Japanese knew about the attack and turned the attention of the Russians by moving their troops from one village to another.

Gripenberg spoke to Kuropaatkin and told about the situation. Kuropatkin decided to wait a couple of days and first make a small attack so that the Russians would win and maybe get a couple of cannons. But then Gripenberg decided to attack because it had already been agreed, it was too cold outside, so the soldiers could not wait and did not like the cancellations. He thought the attack came as a surprise to the Japanese.

Gripenberg himself arrived to prepare his troops for battle. He says that if he had done everything Kuropatkin planned, he would have suffered a defeat. He moved a couple of troups to better situated places.

January 12, 1905 The Siberian army occupied 4 forts and 3 villages, which was a surprise to the Japanese. Officer Kossagovski helped by invading 2 villages in the back. Then attacked Sandepu village. 13.1 was a battle, troops retreated, and on 14.1 a soldier told Gripenberg about the battle. Sandepu was a large village surrounded by a wall, there was a factory where there were machine guns. Lots of soldiers fell (1500 dead and wounded). 14.1 15.1 and 16.1 the great battle continued. In the memoirs, Gripenberg tells about troops, their durability and courage. The fighting lasted 4 days and nights. There were fewer Japanese, but they won and the Russians retreated.

In the end, Gripenberg says that many did not understand whose cause was the loss. But even the Japanese suffer because they already had a plan to retreat and give the city and villages to the Russians. The Japanese were much stronger than the Russians, a Japanese ambassador later said.

During the battle,Gripenberg asked to be removed from command. He was already 67 years old at the time.

(From a Finnish summary of the memoirs of general Gripenberg probably translated into Finnish by Eugenia Mikhailova.)

The Battle in English – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_SandepuKuropatkin – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexei_Nikolajevich_Kuropatkin