Mikhail Annenkov

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Mikhail Annenkov

General Mikhail Nikolayevich Annenkov (Russian: Михаил Николаевич Анненков; formerly also transcribed Michael Nicolaivitch Annenkoff) (1835 in St. Petersburg, Russia – January 22, 1899 in St. Petersburg, Russia) was a Russian nobleman, author, military officer, and renowned engineer. An important figure in the history of the Russian conquest of Turkestan in the 19th Century, he was Governor-General of the Transcaspian Region (today's Turkmenistan).

General Annenkov was the builder of the strategic Transcaspian Railway in its initial stages through what is now Turkmenistan, which made possible the bloody defeat of the Turkmen at Geok-Tepe in 1881. He was also involved in the planning of the Trans-Siberian railroad, which was under construction at the time of his death.

He also played a major role in the Pendjeh Crisis of 1885, when the UK and Russia nearly went to war.

Education and Early Career[edit]

Born into the wealthy Annenkoff family, son of General Nicholas Annenkov, Governor of Odessa and the southwestern provinces and aide-de-camp to the Emperor, Michael studied at the Corps des Pages and was appointed general adjutant to the general staff of the Imperial Army at St. Petersburg.[1] From 1864-1866, during the Polish uprising, Michael earned a reputation as a competent commander and military tactician: by age 27 he had been made a Colonel of the Imperial Army and appointed Aide-de-Camp to Emperor Alexander III of Russia.[2]

In the 1870s, Michael served as Military Attaché to Germany, during the Franco-Prussian War, and then later to France. His writings on German military tactics during the war were widely read.[3] By 1878 he had been appointed a Lieutenant-General of the Imperial Army. During the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) General Annenkoff was placed in charge of transportation, learning the valuable skills that would later make him one of the most prominent engineers of his era.[4]

Central Asia[edit]

In the 1880s, General Annenkoff served on several campaigns in Central Asia, most notably against the Turkmen population (serving under General Mikhail Skobelev in the Merv campaign). In order to move troops and supplies, he completed laying more than 1,000 miles of track in less than three years (1885–1888), which brought him immediate engineering fame. He was honored by scientific bodies throughout Europe, including being appointed a vice-president of the International Congress of Geography (1891).[5] He later became a planner and chief promoter of the Trans-Siberian railroad.[citation needed]

General Annenkoff was also involved in the annexation of Emirate of Bukhara as a client state of the Czar.[6] Upon the death of Emir Mozaffar al-Din in 1885, General Annenkoff marched into Bukhara and put Emir's younger son on the throne. The Russian troops that were left behind placed the Emirate of Bukhara under control of the Russian Empire.[7]


Most prominent of General Annenkoff’s sisters were Madame Marie de Struve, wife of Karl de Struve, Russian Ambassador to Japan, the United States, and the Netherlands respectively,[8] Elizabeth, princess Galitzine, and Alexandra, Vicomtesse de Vogüé, wife of French critic and author Vicomte Eugene Melchior de Vogüé. In 1878 the Vicomte de Vogüé and Miss Alexandra N. Annenkova were married at the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg. After his first marriage to Baroness Alexandra Zubova ended, in 1883 General Annenkov married Dagmar Elisabeth von Oesterreich (19 years old). The marriage was dissolved in 1889.[citation needed]

General Michael N. Annenkoff died in 1899, reportedly from suicide. There was suspicion that he had misappropriated funds from the Transcaspian Railway.[9] At the time, he was a member of the Imperial Military Council in St. Petersburg.[citation needed]


  • Ген. М.A. Анненков "Ахал-Техинский Оазис и Пути к Индии" (The Akhal-Teki Oasis and the roads to India) (С.Пб.) 1881
  • Ген-Лт.М.А.Терентьев "История Завоевания Средней Азии" (The History of the Conquest of Central Asia) (С.Пб.) 1906 3 Vols
  1. ^ Colby, Frank and Peck, Harry Thurston. “The International Yearbook,” Dodd, Mead, & Co. 1900
  2. ^ O’Brien, Augustin. Petersburg & Warsaw. Oxford, London: page 128. 1864.
  3. ^ Annenkoff, M.N. Observations and Views of a Russian Officer. 1871.
  4. ^ Appletons’ Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events of the Year. D. Appleton & Co., 1900.
  5. ^ Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science. Nature Publishing Group, Feb. 28, 1895.
  6. ^ White, Andrew Dickson. Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White: With Portraits. The Century Co., 1905.
  7. ^ Curzon, George Nathaniel. Russia in Central Asia in 1889 and the Anglo-Russian Question. Longman, Green, & Company. 1889.
  8. ^ Epoch. Munsey's Magazine, v. VII., 1892: pages 266-7.
  9. ^ In Foreign Lands. New York Times, August 28, 1899: page 7.