Polish-Russian War of 1792

Polish-Russian War of 1792

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The Polish–Russian War of 1792 or War in Defence of the Constitution was fought between the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth on one side, and the Targowica Confederation
Targowica Confederation
The Targowica Confederation was a confederation established by Polish and Lithuanian magnates on 27 April 1792, in Saint Petersburg, with the backing of the Russian Empress Catherine II. The confederation opposed the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791, which had been adopted by the Great Sejm,...

 and the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 on the other.

On May 18, 1792, without a declaration of war
Declaration of war
A declaration of war is a formal act by which one nation goes to war against another. The declaration is a performative speech act by an authorized party of a national government in order to create a state of war between two or more states.The legality of who is competent to declare war varies...

, an army of over 97,000 Russian troops crossed the border into Poland. Stanisław August Poniatowski, King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, was able to field a 54,000-man army to oppose them.

The forces of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, loyal to the King and the Great Sejm
Great Sejm
The Great Sejm, also known as the Four-Year Sejm was a Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that was held in Warsaw, beginning in 1788...

 (Sejm Wielki), defended Poland's May 3rd Constitution of 1791 against the Targowica Confederation of native opponents of the Constitution and their Russian allies.

War


Poland's ally, the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

, broke its alliance with Poland
Polish-Prussian alliance
The Polish-Lithuanian and Prussian alliance was an alliance signed on 29 March 1790 in Warsaw between representatives of the Republic of Poland and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia tried to take opportunity of the Russian Empire's wars with the Ottoman Empire and Sweden and move the weak...

 after territorial violations invalidated the agreement and the Prussian commander of the army of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, Louis of Württemberg, betrayed the Polish–Lithuanian cause. The Polish army, led by the King's nephew Prince Józef Poniatowski
Józef Antoni Poniatowski
Prince Józef Antoni Poniatowski was a Polish leader, general, minister of war and army chief, who became a Marshal of France.-Early Austrian years and war with Turkey:...

 fought a much larger enemy force and won a victory at Zieleńce
Battle of Zielence
The Battle of Zieleńce was a battle in the Polish–Russian War of 1792, in defence of the Polish Constitution of 3 May 1791. The battle took place on 18 June 1792, between the Polish army of Józef Poniatowski and a Russian army group under the command of General Morkov, which was a part of...

 on June 18. Then it retreated to the Southern Bug River
Southern Bug
The Southern Bug, also called Southern Buh), is a river located in Ukraine. The source of the river is in the west of Ukraine, in the Volyn-Podillia Upland, about 145 km from the Polish border, and flows southeasterly into the Bug Estuary through the southern steppes...

, where under Tadeusz Kościuszko
Tadeusz Kosciuszko
Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko was a Polish–Lithuanian and American general and military leader during the Kościuszko Uprising. He is a national hero of Poland, Lithuania, the United States and Belarus...

 it fought the Battle of Dubienka
Battle of Dubienka
The Battle of Dubienka occurred during the Polish-Russian War of 1792 where on July 18, 1792, the Polish army under the command of General Tadeusz Kościuszko defended the Bug River crossing against a Russian army under General Kachovski. The Russian attacks were stymied by field fortifications...

 to a draw. The Russian army, however, was granted free passage through Austrian territory.

Ultimately the Polish Loyalist cause was lost when their own king, Stanisław August Poniatowski joined with the Targowica Confederates. This precipitated the Second Partition of Poland
Second Partition of Poland
The 1793 Second Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the second of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. The second partition occurred in the aftermath of the War in Defense of the Constitution and the Targowica Confederation of 1792...

 (January 21, 1793) which after the Grodno Sejm
Grodno Sejm
Grodno Sejm was the last Sejm of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Grodno Sejm, held in fall of 1793 in Grodno, Grand Duchy of Lithuania is infamous because its deputies, bribed or coerced by the Russian Empire, passed the act of Second Partition of Poland...

 reduced Poland's population to only one-third of what it was before the partitions began in 1772. The rump state was garrisoned by foreign troops and its independence was strongly curtailed.

Background


The last bid to save Poland's independence came with the Kościuszko Uprising
Kosciuszko Uprising
The Kościuszko Uprising was an uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia led by Tadeusz Kościuszko in Poland, Belarus and Lithuania in 1794...

 in 1794. On April 4, 1794, at the Battle of Racławice Kościuszko was victorious. However, on October 10, 1794, fortune was reversed at the Battle of Maciejowice
Battle of Maciejowice
The Battle of Maciejowice was fought on October 10, 1794, between Poland and the Russian Empire.The Poles were led by Tadeusz Kościuszko. Kościuszko with 6,200 men planned to prevent the linking of two larger Russian armies, 12,000 under Iwan Fersen and 12,500 under Alexander Suvorov...

. The Poles, with a force of 6200, planned to prevent the two larger Russian armies (12,000 under Ivan Fersen and 12,500 under Alexander Suvorov
Alexander Suvorov
Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov , Count Suvorov of Rymnik, Prince in Italy, Count of the Holy Roman Empire , was the fourth and last generalissimo of the Russian Empire.One of the few great generals in history who never lost a battle along with the likes of Alexander...

) from linking up. Kościuszko requested the support of Adam Poniński (who had 4,000 soldiers) too late, and as a result Poniński failed to arrive on the battlefield in time. The Russians were victorious, and Kościuszko was captured. The uprising failed and resulted in the Third Partition
Third Partition of Poland
The Third Partition of Poland or Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in 1795 as the third and last of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.-Background:...

in 1795, in which Poland lost all its remaining territories and ceased to exist as a state.