Who's Who - Alexander Samsonov

Alexander Samsonov Alexander Samsonov (1858-1914), who oversaw the Russian military disaster at the Battle of Tannenberg, saw initial service in the Russian army as a cavalry officer, after graduating from the cavalry academy in St. Petersburg.

Samsonov saw combat service during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and, after serving a term as governor of Turkestan, was given command of the Russian Second Army when war broke out in August 1914, tasked, along with Paul von Rennenkampf, commander of First Army, with the Russian invasion of East Prussia.

Samsonov's first major action in East Prussia was however also his last.  Poor communications with both Stavka headquarters and, more specifically, with First Army commander Rennenkampf (with whom Samsonov had a personal quarrel), led to Samsonov's forces being encircled by the German Eighth Army under Hindenburg and Ludendorff at Tannenberg between 26-30 August 1914.

With his Second Army virtually destroyed - of a total of 150,000 men under his command less than 10,000 escaped German capture - Samsonov, lost in wooded terrain, and unable to face reporting the scale of the disaster to Tsar Nicholas II, committed suicide by a shot to the head.  It remains unclear whether his body was ever found.

A Daisy Cutter was a shell with an impact fuse to explode immediately upon touching the ground.

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