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Participation of the Don Cossacks in Patriotic war of 1812

In 2012 200 years since that moment when the Russian State reflected attack of the greatest conqueror of that time in Patriotic war of 1812 – the French emperor Napoleon were executed. Not the last role in this nice victory was played by the Cossack shelves of army of Donskoy under M.I. Platov's command.

The Cossack historian I. Bykadorov hundred years ago when Russia celebrated anniversary of war of 1812 too, wrote: "In this heavy time of invasion into borders of our Fatherland of 29 various nationalities Russia left the winner and expelled enemies from the limits only thanks to deep love and devotion of the Russian people to the Vera, the Tsar, the Homeland and precepts of ancestors. … The people, predvoditelstvuyemy Napoleon, being guided by his laws, laws human, were defeated by the people the Russian directed in the affairs Bozhiimi's laws, deriving the strength in a unification with the Tsar against deep faith in God; the people which in everyone had a readiness "to put the stomach for the friend the". In case of failure of Russia the enslavement, destruction of its century foundations, beliefs, welfare of the people, desecration of religion, defilement of temples threatened; reorganization, as well as in the West, discordant neither with spirit, nor with beliefs, nor with the interests of the people, and for the benefit of only Napoleon".

It should be noted that though Cossacks at that time in Europe seriously were not perceived, they could play a big role in this war. Here is how the Cossack historian A.A. Gordeev spoke about it: "The movement of armies separate columns on the wide front represented an opportunity to apply broad maneuvers and, using mobility, to operate on flanks and in backs of the opponent. The Cossack cavalry by the beginning of the XIX century kept still all forms of an easy cavalry of the nomadic people … The ability to apply on wide fronts the lava of horse masses capable all the time to hold the opponent under the threat of attack, penetration on flanks and to backs and readiness of the attack on the wide front, an environment and elimination of the opponent was the main fighting tactics of the Cossack cavalry. Authorized creation of close systems, inactive mass of a cavalry of the European people were still alien to the Cossack cavalry. War of 1812 - 1813 against Napoleon was the last in which the Don Cossacks could show the superior qualities of a field easy cavalry, the become obsolete world of nomads. Favorable conditions for activity of the Cossack cavalry in this war was the fact that else there were highest Cossack chiefs keeping ability to apply in the best way easy horse masses but also the fact that the Cossack parts were distributed not only between separate armies, but kept in big connections under the power of one military leader".

In the "Note about the Don Cossack regiments serving" made by the army ataman M.I. Platov in May, 1812 it was noted that as a part of the Russian army there were 65 Don Cossack regiments, 2 horse and artillery companies, 13 teams, the 112th headquarters officers, 1,173 subaltern officers, 1,092 village constable and the clerk, 39,639 Cossacks. Besides, during formation already during the war of the Don militia sent 26 regiments and a semi-company of the Don horse artillery with a total number of 15,465 Cossacks to army. At the end of September – the beginning of October of the shelf came to vanguard of the Russian army. Originally M.I. Kutuzov assumed to direct all shelves of the Don militia on strengthening of army guerrilla groups of the Main army, but then the decision was changed. Sluzhily regiments of Popov of the 13th and militant Andrianova of the 1st and Andrianova of the 3rd, without reaching Tarutino, are sent to guerrilla group of the lieutenant colonel D.V. Davydov and the chief of the Kaluga militia of the lieutenant general V.F. Shepelev. The militant regiments of Chernozubov of the 4th which arrived on October 5 and appointed in vanguard under command of the general M.A. Miloradovich, Ezhova of the 2nd, Suchilina, Grekova of the 1st, Popova of the 3rd, Rebrikova were involved in battle on October 6 under Tarutino along with the Don regiments which were earlier at the Main army. The most part of the Don militia is sent to flying corps of the army ataman M.I. Platov, three regiments in vanguard of the Main army under command of the major general A.A. Karpov of the 2nd, an insignificant part in guerrilla groups of the major general I.S. Dorokhov, the lieutenant colonel D.V. Davydov, the captain A.S. Figner, the Don colonel I.E. Efremov. At liberation of Moscow from the French the Don shelves from group of the major general F.F. Vintsengerode the first were included into the city, saved it from destruction and the fires, prevented explosion of the Kremlin walls and towers.

Events in October, 1812 near Maloyaroslavets when three Cossack groups sent by M.I. Platov to investigation nearly took Napoleon prisoner became one of the brightest episodes of war of 1812. Here is how I. Bykadorov described this event: "Chiefs of the above-stated parties gathered and decided to capture tools. Dontsa it is reserved approached closer and, having quickly constructed in a lava, with the geek rushed both on artillery, and on cover. The artillery rushed a virgin soil aside, but donets overtook it, interrupted servants and captured 50 tools. While some Cossacks turned guns, intending to take away them, others rushed on wagon trains, a part of the scattered Cossacks flew on the enemy squadron which was standing still near the village of Gorodni. In the middle of a squadron there was a French emperor Napoleon. The dawn was just engaged, and it was impossible to distinguish it from other officers. Cossacks chopped up a part of a squadron, but with other part Napoleon managed to skip away. If donets knew that Napoleon is in the place of fight, of course, would throw both a wagon train and artillery. On the revenue of artillery the French cavalry appeared in time. Dontsa captured 11 tools, having spoiled the others, a part of a wagon train and receded".

Feats of the Don Cossacks were highly appreciated by M.I. Kutuzov. On January 17, 1813 Kutuzov wrote Platov: "My respect for Army to Donskoy and gratitude to their feats … which were glavneysheyu the cause of destruction of the enemy deprived soon of all cavalry and artillery horses, therefore, and tools, vigilant works and bravery of Army of Donskoy …".

In turn, the emperor Alexander I in the manifesto to the Don army of April 13, 1813 emphasized that "courageous and tireless vigilance of the army ataman Count Platov, takozh and spodvizavshikhsya with it all this army of brave generals, officers and all in general Don village constables and Cossacks, promoted to overcoming great forces enemy and to obsession over them total and well-known victories much: they incessant attacks on it and fights, frequent with it, prohibited to it ways to food everywhere, and through that brought all numerous cavalry it into perfect exhaustion …".

In war of 1812 many Don officers and generals became famous. The sort Ilovaisk is especially allocated – seven sons of the general Dmitry Ivanovich Ilovaysky were involved in war, all of them became gentlemen of St. George, and four – generals. But the most known of participants of war of 1812, certainly, is M.I. Platov. At 18-year age he already ordered a regiment. The Cossacks under its command on December 11, 1790 armed with some peaks as a part of a separate assault column rushed into unapproachable Izmail. In 1799 M.I. Platov and other future hero of Patriotic war of 1812 general A.P. Yermolov were banished to Kostroma. Platov lived on Pavlovskaya Street in No. 6 (modern Mira Avenue). On its means the side-altar to Church of the Nativity on Sula was constructed. It was in the center of quarter between Susaninskaya Square, Pyatnitskaya, Bogoyavlenskaya and Tsarevskaya's streets (modern Simanovsky St. and the avenue of Tekstilshchiki). Up to now the church did not remain, it was destroyed in 1935. In 1800 Platov was even put in the Peter and Paul Fortress. However in 1801 he was released for participation in a campaign of the Don Cossacks to India. In this unprecedented campaign to which 41 Don regiments (22 thousand people) went M.I. Platov ordered a column from 13 regiments. But on March 23 in the settlement of Mechetnom of the Saratov province the Cossacks received the rescript of the new emperor Alexander I about return. Especially it should be noted that during all the time the campaign of losses in people was not. On August 26, 1801 M.I. Platov became the army ataman and remained in this position to death in 1818. In 1805 he transferred the army capital to Novocherkassk as the village Cherkassk often was exposed to floods. In war of 1812 the case under its command was involved in battles at the World, Borodin, Tarutin. Most Cossacks under the World where by means of ancient policy stroke under the name "trap net" three Polish ulansky regiments of the French army were broken caused a stir, and at Borodin where M.I. Platov's corps made raid to the back of the French army, thereby having held down for a while the French reserves. Here is how the Cossack historian Bykadorov described this bright episode: "Platov's traveling found out that for Kolochey, on the left flank the French, had few troops. The ataman, having learned it, asked Kutuzov's permission to make search to the back of the enemy. The commander-in-chief agreed and gave order to him and to a cavalry corps of Uvarov – to attack the left flank of the French, setting as the purpose – the attack to delay a part of the French troops from Rajevski battery … Uvarov assigned the first attack to the leyb-Cossack and hussars who were under his team under the administration gr. Orlova-Denisova. Cossack Labe quickly passed a ditch, despite fire of artillery, rushed to the attack and from the first raid beat off two tools. But to the French reinforcements appeared in time here, and the enemy managed to be constructed in a column at a dam through river. War in which Myurat who rode here took refuge. But it also limited Uvarov's success as it could not pass through a dam. Meanwhile Platov, having forded with collums to the north of Bezzubov river. War, sent forward several regiments which were scattered in bushes and came into the flank enemy columns and wagon trains, making the emergence confusion and alarm. Several hundreds rushed on wagon trains. With the main forces Platov remained with rowing through War. Having learned about confusion and alarm in the back, Napoleon, without knowing number of our troops which were here suspended an attack of the viceroy on Rajevski battery, having directed a strong column and itself personally jumped here". According to the participant of the Borodino battle, the major Bolgovsky, "Platov, leaving the tesnina hiding pettiness of its forces was afraid to find small number of the forces the resolute attack of the enemy opposing it already the battery. He considered more useful to threaten it with situation which would leave it in doubt concerning its valid forces and, after all, disturbed only him parts".

After foreign campaigns of the Russian army in which Cossacks also took part M.I. Platov returned to Don. In 1853 on the money raised on a subscription on the project of the famous sculptor P.K. Clodt in Novocherkassk put a monument to M.I. Platov with an inscription: "To the ataman count Platov for military feats from 1770 to 1816 grateful donets" (the monument was demolished in 1923 and is restored in 1993).

S.F. Balabin the 2nd is most known as the commander of the glorified Atamansky Cossack regiment. According to some data, this regiment near Maloyaroslavets nearly took Napoleon and his suite prisoner.

V.V. Orlov-Denisov in the Napoleonic wars ordered other glorified regiment – leyb-guards Cossack. V.V. Orlov-Denisov was a son of the army ataman Vasily Petrovich Orlov and the grandson column F. of P. Denisov who, without having children in the male line, gave a surname and a title to the grandson. Its regiment battled at Borodin, Tarutin, Lyakhov (where participated in capture of crew of the general Ozhero), Red. Once the general went on the way to escort of one village constable and found a column of the receding French in number of 400 people who gave up, having heard his name. But especially leyb-guards the Cossack regiment caused a stir in "the battle of the people" of Leipzig on October 4, 1813. At the critical moment of fight when the French cavalry broke through the center of the Russian position, Alexander I threw into fight of leyb-Cossack, and those constrained the French before approach of other forces of an allied cavalry. In an award the regiment received a banner with an inscription: "For difference at defeat and exile of the enemy from borders of Russia of 1812 and for the feat rendered in battle at Leipzig on October 4, 1813".

V.D. Ilovaysky's regiment the 12th became the first Russian part which entered Moscow after leaving by her French, and Cossacks at the same time broke a polutoratysyachny French rear guard. The eyewitness of battle, the major general F.F. Vintsengerode, informed Alexander I: "Considering always the Hungarian cavalry first-ever, after Ilovaysky's attack seen by me I have to prefer as Cossacks before the Hungarian hussars".

The French differently estimated actions of Cossacks in war. Here is how it was told about Cossacks in the official document: "It (enemy) surrounded all columns with Cossacks who, it is similar Aravityanam in deserts and steppes, took the lagged behind and gone astray vehicles and wagon trains. This pathetic cavalry, only one noise which is making and not able to break through through a company of voltizher, became terrible from the circumstances favoring to it. However the enemy regretted at any attempt which he ventured, was overturned by the Viceroy [Italian] how soon it before it was, and lost thus many people" (the 29th bulletin of Great army / the St. Petersburg sheets No. 4 of January 14, 1813).

But after war its participants in a different way started talking about Cossacks. "You do not know, - the French wrote at that time about Cossacks, - as against them to work; you will develop the line – they will instantly gather in a column and will break through it; you want to attack them a column – they are quickly developed and cover it … from all directions". "Cossacks do war very dangerous, - Frenchman de Braque wrote, - in particular for those officers who are intended to make investigations. Many of them were content ordinary with what was managed to be learned from locals, and for fear to come across Cossacks never checked these indications on the place, and therefore the emperor could not learn what occurred in enemy troops …". Other Frenchman, the general Moeran, was surprised bravery and evasiveness of Cossacks. "… Cossacks, rushing in the attack, - he wrote, - ordinary rush a march and well stop on this pace. Their horses promote courage much and with the riders make as though a single whole. These people, being careful, do not demand special cares about themselves, differ in unusual precipitancy in the actions and rare courage in the movements". "Military history presents us a lot of very effective examples, - Englishman Nolan writes, - that superiority of Cossacks over a regular cavalry which should not be neglected and which should not forget". During war Napoleon gave appreciation to military art of the Cossack troops. "Cossacks are the best easy troops among all existing. If I had them in my army, I would pass with them the whole world".

Placed: On Aug. 15, 2012 18:25
Changed: On Dec. 17, 2019 14:32
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