Ivan Abramovich Gannibal was born in Karjaküla, Reval Governorate, Russian Empire, which is now present day Estonia. He was the eldest of ten children to parents Abram Gannibal and Christina Regina Siöberg. Abram Gannibal was a well-known Russian nobleman, engineer and military leader. Becoming a part of the Russian military was Ivan’s calling, by the age of nine he had already enrolled into the Naval Artillery School. Upon his graduation he would enter into the Imperial Russian Navy as an Officer, but also as the son of an Admiral. Russia became involved in the Russo-Turkish War in 1768, by 1770 Ivan was a Brigadier within the Russian Navy. He led several naval fleets as they laid siege to and captured the Turkish fortress of Navarin. Gannibal was in charge of 300 men whose forward advance was the main catalyst in the capturing of Navarin. For his bravery and leadership Ivan was awarded the Order of Saint George, third degree. The order of Saint George is only awarded to the highest and senior military officers.
Later in 1770, Ivan fought in the Battle of Chesma where his ship exploded during battle, but he was rescued from the sea by his men. Between the years of 1772 and 1777 he was promoted to major-general, Commander of the naval artillery, and finally he became the Admiral of the Russian Navy; his admiralty was bestowed upon him by Empress Catherine II. Ivan was placed in charge of building the Kherson Fortress in 1778, which was a task he completed. The impressive part was how little time it took him to build the fortress. To show her appreciation and admiration Catherine II bestowed upon Ivan the Order of St. Vladimir, first class, the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky, a snuff box depicting Catherine II encrusted in jewels, and an estate worth $20,000 located in the town of Bilozerka. In 1784 Ivan and Prince Grigory Potyomkin were not on good terms causing Ivan to retire from the military. Upon his retirement he had reached the rank of Général en Chef; this was the same rank that his father Abram Gannibal earned. In 1801 Ivan died while living in his father’s estate in a village named Suyda. He died being recognized as one of the greatest military legends in Russian history. He was also the great-uncle of the Great Russian writer and father of Russian literature, Alexander Pushkin. Ivan Gannibal is another example of African people changing the world and building legends so great they are believed to be mythology. Général en Chef Ivan Abramovich Gannibal, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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