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Indian March of Paul

Indian March of Paul, Russian Indiyskiy Pokhod Pavla, that's how the Russians call the Cossack cavalry deployment as the first stage of the allied Russo-French expedition against the British forces in India. The whole operation was scrambled following the assassination of Emperor Paul I of Russia in mid-March of 1801.

According to the documents from the Russian archives, the top-secret plans of the campaign included the following deployments:

In January 1801 the Don Cossack ataman Vasily Orlov received the orders for his cavalry force to march to India. The route of advance schedule: in a month to reach the city of Orenburg in southern Russia, and from there to move via Bukhara and Khiva to river Indus. Soon after receiving these orders the 30,000-men strong Cossack force started for Kazakh steppes.

Besides the Cossacks, the general plan included the joint operations of two infantry corps, one French (with artillery support) and one Russian. Each infantry corps of 35,000 men.

Emperor Paul I of Russia insisted that the command of the French corps be entrusted to general Massena. The route of advance schedule for the French corps: starting in May of 1801 via river Danube and the Black Sea through the southern Russia via Taganrog, Tzaritzin, and Astrakhan. At Volga estuary the French were supposed to be joined by the Russian corps. Then the joint Russo-French corps was to cross the Caspian Sea and land at the Iranian port of Astrabad. The whole trip from France to Astrabad was calculated to take 80 days. Further advance would take another 50 days via Gerat and Kandaghar before reaching the main areas of India in September of the same year.

Overall disposition of troops: 30,000 of Cossack cavalry and 35,000 of French infantry with artillery support together with 35,000 of Russian Infantry. Total number of army personnel: 100,000.

The Indian March was designed to look very much alike the Napoleon's expedition to Egypt, with engineers, painters and scientists taking part in it. Also meticulously devised (one can see in it Paul's passion for details) was the public relations side of the Indian expedition. For example, the instructions for trade with the local peoples included the recommentation to sell the cloths "of the colorings most liked by the Asians". The expeditionary force was to have in stock a reserve of fireworks for festive illuminations.

Compilation-translation from Russian for educational and research purposes by G.N.Boiko-Slastion from 'Mgnoveniye slavy nastayot' ('The Moment of Glory Has Come') by N.Eidelman,- Leningrad,"Lenizdat" (publishing house), 1989. ISBN 5-289-00264-2