ZARUBAEV, Nikolai Platonovich. N.P. Zarabaev was born in 1843. He graduated from the Konstantinovsko Military College in 1862 and was assigned to the infantry of the guards. He entered the Nicholas Academy of the General Staff in 1868, successfully graduating in 1870. Appointed as a General Staff officer, he served in various assignments in Siberia until 1879 preventing any participation in the Russo-Turkish War.

Promoted to colonel that year, he was given command of the 133rd (Simferopol) Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division. This assignment was followed by command of the 2nd Brigade, 13th Infantry Division. In 1891 Zarubaev was promoted to Major General and assigned as the chief of staff of the VI Army Corps headquartered in Byelostok, a position he held for seven years. In 1898 he returned to Siberia, now as the Chief of Staff of the Siberian Military District. A year later he was promoted to Lieutenant General. In 1900 and return to Russia to take command of the 9th Infantry Division currently stationed at Poltava. His connection to Siberia continued in this position, as the division was part of the X Army Corps. This corps was one of two army corps assigned to reinforce the Manchurian Army in the event of war. The 2nd Brigade, 31st Division from the X Army Corps was sent to Manchuria in the spring of 1903 as part of a mobilization exercise to test the war plan and remained in the theater until the outbreak of the war. Lieutenant General Zarubaev followed shortly, assigned as the Deputy Commander of the Siberian Military District. He was currently in this position when the war began in February 1904.

Up until this time, Lieutenant General Zarubaev had been a peacetime soldier. He had been stationed in the eastern part of the Empire during the Russo-Turkish War and in the western part during the Boxer rebellion. During this time he had earned a reputation as an intelligent officer that treated his subordinates well. He tended to delegate authority, giving subordinates a free hand in executing their assigned tasks. The war would now test him as a senior leader.

With the imperial order to mobilize the Siberian reserves, Lieutenant General Zarubaev was given command of the IV Siberian Army Corps. A reserve corps, it consisted of the 2nd and 3rd Siberian Infantry Divisions. These units were raised from the western areas of the Siberian Military District. A road-less and trackless region, it took time to notify and assemble the reservists that formed the corps. It wasn’t until June that parts of his corps began arriving in Liaoyang. By then, the defeat of Lieutenant General Shtackelberg’s I Siberian Army Corps at Telissu caused General Kuropatkin to order Zarubaev’s corps south. At the same time, Kuropatkin assigned Lieutenant General Zarubaev command of the Southern Detachment, which now included his IV Siberian and Lieutenant General Shtackelberg’s I Siberian Army Corps. Ordered to delay the Japanese 2nd Army, Zarubaev gave battle at Tashihchiao on 24 July. Successfully resisting the Japanese attacks during the day, Zarubaiev decided he had fulfilled General Kuropatkin’s instructions and ordered the Southern Detachment to retreat.

He continued in command of the Southern Detachment during the Battle of Liaoyang where his literal adherence to his orders reinforced his passive approach to war. His defense was competent but he never tried to leverage any advantage from its success. His handling the retreat from that city and his subsequent handling of his corps during the Battle of the Scha Ho was unremarkable. His corps didn’t see any serious fighting during the Battle of Mukden, remaining reserve during most of that battle. He remained in command of the IV Siberian Army Corps until the peace treaty with Japan was signed.

After the war, he was promoted to Adjutant General and was made Inspector General of the Infantry. In 1909 he was given command of the Odessa Military Distinct where he remained until his death in 1912.

General Zarubaev displayed many of the traits of the Czarist senior leadership. Intelligent and well educated, he lacked initiative, preferring to merely follow orders. His handling of his subordinates and his concern for his soldiers made the IV Siberian Army Corps an effective unit. Avoiding any serious error or loss, he was seen as reliable more than brilliant as his subsequent postwar assignments demonstrate. His only true opportunity for independent command was at Tashihchiao where caution easily overcame any temptation to achieve military success.

Jeff Leser