The Allied Army Expedition

This was the first and most important scheme of joint French-Russian expedition. It was elaborated in St. Petersburg and included the following chapters:

Aims of the expedition:

To banish Englishmen out of Hindustan once and forever. To liberate these beautiful and rich countries from British yoke. To find new trade ways for the industry and commerce of civilised European nations, especially of France.

The immortal glory will cover the first years of XIX century and heads of three powers which contributed this useful and glorious enterprise.

Powers involved

French Republic and Russian Emperor provide the Allied Army of 70 000 men that starts the advance to the banks of the river Indus.

Austrian Emperor will provide a free passage of French troops by his land and will contribute with river crafts in sailing down the Danube till its apertures in Black Sea.

Concentration of 35,000 Russian corps in Astrakhan and sailing to Astrabad (Persia)

As soon as the project of the expedition is finally approved, Paul I will order to concentrate 35 000 strong in Astrakhan including 25 000 regular troops of all kinds of arms (infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers, etc…) and 10 000 Cossacks.

This corps will immediately board on vessels and sets sails to Astrabad across the Caspian Sea and will wait there for the arrival of French troops.

General Headquarters of the Allied Army will be set up in Astrabad together with ammunition supplies depots. This city will become a major communication center between Hindustan, France and Russia.

Route - march of French Army from the Danube till the Indus

35 000 corps of all kinds of arms of French Rhine Army under General Masscna will board on river crafts and sets sails dawn the Danube until it reaches the apertures at Black Sea. Here the troops will change ships and step on board of Russian transport vessels already waiting for them in this place (see map 1).

Then they set sails across the Black Sea and the Azov Sea and disembark at Taganrog. Further-on, this corps will march ahead by land in North-East direction following the right bank of the river Don until it reaches Pyatizbanka - a small Cossacks' town (see map. 2). Here French corps will cross the Don and will march in Eastern direction until it reaches Tsarizin, Russian town situated on the right bank of the river Volga. In this point the troops will step on board of river crafts and set sails down the Volga till Astrakhan. Here the troops will change ships again. They step on board of Russian commercial ships and set sails all along the Caspian Sea from North to the very South and disembark at Astrabad, a Persian city situated on the seashore. Here both French and Russian corps will joint together and the Allied Army will start the advance. It will march via Herat, Farah, Kandaghar and soon reaches the right bank of the Indus.

French corps expedition timetable
Down the Danube till Black Sea20
From the Danube's apertures till Taganrog16
From Taganrog till Pyatizbanka 20
From Pyatizbanka till Tsarizin4
From Tsarizin till Astrakhan5
From Astrakhan till Astrabad10
From Astrabad till the Indus45

As we can see from the table, the total time required for the French corps to cover the distance between the Danube and the Indus is equal to four months. However to avoid any march forcing it is supposed that total expedition time will take five full months i.e. if the corps starts the advance early in May, 1801 (old style time) it should reach the final point by the end of September 1801.

Important notice: Half of the way the corps will cover by sea and another half - by land.

Facilities for the execution of the project

French Expeditions to India
French Expeditions to India
While sailing down the Danube, French corps will take only trail chests and caissons. There is no need to take any bivouac and camp equipment with.

Heavy and light cavalry as well as artillery will leave all horses at the point of departure. The river crafts are to be shipped with saddles, harnesses, bales, traces, bridles, reins, etc. only. This corps should have biscuits sufficient for one month's march.

Commissaries will sail ahead the corps and will control daily passages and find areas for bivouacs if necessary. Reaching the apertures of the Danube, French corps will change ships and its men will step on board of transport vessels provided by Russia with 15 - 20 day's rations on board.

During sails commissaries and officers of General Headquarters will embark and will go by land on post-courier horses. Some of them will go to Taganrog and Tsarizin and the others - to Astrakhan. Those sent to Taganrog and Tsarizin, will contact Russian commissaries there and will organize daily route marches, find places suitable for bivouacs and hire cart-and-horses for artillery and army wagon train. The same commissaries will contact those sent to Tsarizin about river crafts required for the passage of the Don which is a little larger in this place than the Seine in Paris. Commissaries in Tsarizin will be in charge of the following:
  1. To create provisional depots in 3 or 4 points on the way between the Don and the Volga with all required camping and bivouac equipment and provision stores.

  2. To supply the sufficient number of river crafts needed for transportation of French corps down the Volga till Astrakhan.
    Commissaries sent to Astrakhan will provide commercial vessels with provisions for 15 days already shipped on board and waited for French corps.
    Before set sails to Astrabad, the commissaries of both powers will supply and store:

  3. Ammunition of all kinds, guns and caissons. Guns and ammunition may be delivered from arsenals in Astrakhan, Kazan and Saratov, available in abundance.

  4. Team horses for transportation of guns and caissons.

  5. Carts and wagons with horses to transport baggage, pontoons, etc...

  6. Horses for French heavy and light cavalry.

    N.B. There are herds of horses in the area between the Don and the Volga. Their breed suits perfectly for the service in places that are to be the theatre of military actions. Cossacks and Calmycks will sell horses to commissaries at moderate prices and cheaper than anywhere else.

  7. All camping and bivouac equipment required for French corps in its march to the Indus and further on.

  8. Stores of clothes, tissues, uniforms, hats, shakos, casques, gloves, boots, shoes, etc...

    N.B. All the above items are in abundance in Russia and are cheaper than in any European country. French government is recommended to contact the directors of (the) SAPERT colony situated six miles down Tsarizin on the right bank of the Volga. The Head Office of this colony is in Saxony and to start the supplies, the official permission from Head Office is required.

  9. Pharmacy with all sorts of medications.
    It may be supplied by the same SAPERT colony where pharmacy exists long ago and by the assortment and quality of its drugs competes with Imperial Moscow Apotheke.

  10. Stores of rice, pea, meals, groats, corned beef, butter, wines, vodka, etc...

  11. Stores of fodder, barley and oats.

    NB. Oats are available in Astrakhan; fodder and barley - in the country.
Dr. Alex Zotov, FINS, St.Petersburg, Russia

Historical magazine Gatchina Over the Centuries