Michael Barclay De Tolly, prince, a Russian general, born in Livonia in 1759, died at Inster-burg in East Prussia, May 25, 1818. He was a descendant of the Scottish Barclays. Being adopted by Gen. Van Vermoulen, he entered a Russian regiment of cuirassiers as a sergeant, and served with credit in the Turkish war of 1788-9, in the Swedish campaign of 1790, and in the campaigns against Poland in 1792 and 1794. In the Polish campaign of 1806 he was a major general, and distinguished himself at Pultusk as the commander of Benningsen's advance guard. He defended Eylau with great bravery in 1807, and there lost an arm and won the title of lieutenant general. In 1809 he marched with 12,000 men for two days on the ice across the gulf of Bothnia, and compelled the Swedes to surrender at Umea. He was soon after made governor of Finland, and in 1810 became minister of war, in which office he remained three years. In 1812 he took command of the first army of the west, the second being under Prince Bagration, and conducted the retreat to Smolensk for the purpose of drawing the enemy into the interior of the country.
This retreat and the loss of the battle at Smolensk gave the Russian national party, who hated him as a foreigner, an opportunity against him, and he was superseded in the command by Gen. Kutuzoff. He led the right wing on the Moskva, did brilliant service in 1813 at Bautzen, and was again placed in chief command of the army. He took part in the battles of Dresden, Culm, and Leipsic, and in 1814 was made a prince and field marshal. After visiting London with the emperor Alexander, he returned to the army at Warsaw, and remained in command until the war was over.