Fabian Gottlieb von Osten-Sacken, a Baltic German notable for his performance in the campaigns of 1812 and 1813, was born on 31 October 1752. He took part in the Russo-Turkish War in 1769-1770, where he participated in the Blockade of Khotin and other engagements, while being promoted to the rank of ensign in 1769 in recognition of his bravery against the Turks. Sacken was promoted up the military ranks (from 1770-1777) through sheer courage and hard work alone. He initially served in Poland in 1771-1773, and becoming Captain of the Uglitsk Infantry Regiment on 21 April 1777. In 1786 he transferred to the Moscow Grenadier Regiment as lieutenant colonel. He was involved in the Russo-Turkish War from 1789 to 1791 and in 1794 he fought against the Polish insurgents.
After becoming major general and chef of the Ekaterinoslavl Grenadier Regiment in October 1797 and chef of the Pskov Grenadier Regiment in January 1798, Osten-Sacken fought in Swizerland against the French. He was wounded and taken prisoner by the French during the Russian retreat at Zurich. He was released in 1800 and returned to Russia. In January 1801 he was appointed Chef of the St Petersburg Grenadier Regiment.
During the Napoleonic Wars Sacken participated in the 1807 campaign under the leadership of Bennigsen, whom he loathed. He came into criticism (and indeed a bitter dispute broke out between him and Bennigsen) for allowing Marshal Ney to escape due to his very slow movements. After a lengthy process, Osten-Sacken was found guilty by a court martial in 1808. He left his post in June 1807 and he then resided in St Petersburg for five years, before being recalled to command the Reserve Corps in the 3rd Reserve Army of Observation in the campaign of 1812. He fought in this campaign at Slonim and Volkovysk and he covered the advance to Berezina in October 1812 of Chichagov's army.
In the 1813 campaign Sacken served in the Army of Silesia under Blücher's command. He was present at Leignitz; Kaizerwalde, Bunzlau and Katzbach, after which he was promoted to Full general of infantry. On 20 October he was presented with the Order of St George 2nd class having distinguished himself in the Battle of Leipzig. He was also involved in the engagements at Craonne, La Rothière and Paris in the 1814 Campaign. From March until June 1814 he served as Governor General of Paris. He then served under Barclay de Tolly during the Hundred Days.
Osten-Sacken continued his military career after the fall of Napoleon. He also became a member of the State Council in 1818, and on 20 April 1821 he was made count of the Russian Empire. He was appointed chief of the Uglitsk Infantry Regiment in 1826, which was later named “Osten-Sacken's Infantry Regiment”. Many titles and decorations were bestowed on him, and on the 20 November he was even given the title prince of the Russian Empire. He died in Kiev on 19 April 1837.
Alexander Mikaberidze, The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1792-1815, New York: Savas Beatie, 2005, pp. 285-286, s.v. “Osten-Sacken, Fabian Vilgelmovich”
Dominic Lieven, Russia against Napoleon, London: Penguin Books, 2009
Osten-Sacken, von der, 2003, seen on 10 November 2011
Ed. AM PH