The Russian Army of 1812

 4th Set 

32 postcards. Price: 1 rouble, 2 kopecks.

O.K. Parkhaev, artist, 1990. A.I. Talanov, reviewer.

A.A. Smirnov, author of the introductory article, 1990.

Annotation authors: A.A. Vasilev (1-11), A.M. Gorshman (12-23), A.B. Somov (24-32); 1990.

A.G. Tyurin, editor. L.A. Treptsova, literary editor.

N.A. Chizhonkova, technical editor. N.P. Brzhevskaya, proof-reader.

Published by "Izobrazitelnoe Iskusstvo". Moscow. 4-825. 225 000. 260.

Printed by the Kalinin Order of the Red Banner of Labor Poligraphic Combine of the USSR State Committee for Printing, 170024, Kalinin, Lenin Prospekt, 5.

(See for images)

 An army is the armed organization of the state. It follows that the chief distinction between the army and other state organizations is that it is armed, which is to say that in order to fulfill its functions it has a complex of different kinds of weapons and means which support its purpose. In 1812 the armament of the Russian army consisted of cold-steel weapons and firearms, as well as defensive equipment. Cold-steel weapons, whose battlefield use was not connected with the use of explosive substances (gunpowder for the period under consideration), consisted of variously constructed arms whose effectiveness was based on the application of the soldier’s muscular strength. Based on their characteristic action, they were divided into shock weapons (only among irregular troops in the form of spiked or flanged maces, etc.), thrusting weapons (bayonet, sword, dagger, lance, etc.), chopping weapons (for example, the ax of the mass levies and the partisan’s scythe), as well as combination cut-thrust or thrust-cut weapons, depending on the preponderance of one or the other quality (knife, hanger, broadsword, saber, and other similar items). Cold-steel weapons also included metal armaments which in individual forms (bow, scimitar, lance) were still in use by some levied forces (Bashkirs, Kalmyks, and others).

Firearms, which use the force of gaseous pressure from burning gunpowder to throw a bullet or ball from the barrel, consist of the direct agent of harm (ball, shell, case shot, exploding bomb, bullet, and other rounds) and a means of hurling it to a target, the two being combined in a single system (cannon, howitzer, unicorn, mortar, musket, pistol, etc.). In 1812 firearms were divided into artillery and small arms. The main construction element of this kind of weapon was the barrel, so these are called tube firearms. Artillery weapons were intended to destroy various targets at significant distances (up to 2000 meters) and were part of the armament of land forces (foot, horse, fortress, and siege artillery) and the navy (shipboard artillery). All branches of service were armed with small arms (infantry, cavalry, artillerymen, sappers, and sailors) for use in close combat with visibly deployed targets. They included not only the regulation weapons made for regular troops (infantry musket, jäger rifle, musketoon, pistol, etc.), but also hunting and even dueling weapons, which often armed partisans and men in the mass levies.

The Tula, Sestroretsk, and Izhevsk factories were engaged in small-arms manufacture, and from 1810 to 1814 they made or repaired more than 624,000 muskets, rifles, and pistols. In 1812 about 152,000 individual small arms were refurbished in the St.-Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev arsenals. At the beginning of 1812 the factories and arsenals held 375,563 muskets, and by June of 1812 350,576 had been issued to the troops. The remaining reserves were entirely used up in the first days of the war. Artillery guns were made by master craftsmen at the St.-Petersburg and Bryansk arsenals, and repaired at the Kiev arsenal. This manufacturing base completely met the needs of the field artillery during the Patriotic War.

Defensive equipment included all protective means used by the soldier in battle. Because of the significant development of the combat capabilities of firearms, by 1812 defensive equipment maintained its effectiveness only against cold-steel weapons (for example, the cuirass as part of a knight’s accouterments). In limited situations the cuirass, which was as thick as 3.5 mm, could provide protection against musket and pistol balls. However, such a cuirass weighing up to 10 kg significantly fettered the soldier’s movements and lessened his maneuverability and speed, so it was kept only in the cavalry (cuirassiers). To a lesser extent measure of protection was offered by lacquered leather helmets with horsehair crests, used by cuirassiers, dragoons, and the horse artillery.

Weapons were not only means of armed combat, but were also a form of award for military feats. In this case their parts was gilded, decorated with precious stones or gold laurel leaves (laurel wreaths). Under this treatment they did not, however, lose their combat functionality. One of the most common officer’s award in 1812 was the gold (that is to say, with a gilded hilt) saber or sword with the chiseled inscription on the guard "For courage". This award was equivalent to a medal, but for junior officers they were, as a rule, crudely made. Over a thousand persons were awarded gold weapons "For courage" for actions during the Patriotic War, and in addition 62 generals earned gold weapons with diamonds, brilliants, and laurel wreaths. Generals’ award swords (sabers) often had personalized inscriptions indicating what feat that cold-steel weapon was awarded for. In 1812 Russia a strictly regulated awards system had developed which encompassed the defined types of awards (weapons, orders, portraits of the sovereign, medals, insignia). However, this system had a strongly expressed classical character, since it was prohibited to nominate for the various orders middle-class persons or "people of the rural class". The established precedence for orders determined their sequence for being awarded. This precedence also determined the way the orders were worn on various types of uniforms. Besides gold weapons and orders which were given only to officers, individual decorations also included medals for participation in the battles of 1812-1814, which were given to soldiers, men of the mass levies, partisans, and clergymen, as well as nobles, merchants, and craftsmen for contributions and volunteer work in the name of victory. Each medal was worn on the appropriate order’s ribbon or on a combination ribbon of several orders. A case is known where the brass crosses from the headdress of men in the mass levies were used as provisional decorations for peasants.

There were also many collective awards in the Russian army, such as St.-George flags, standards, and trumpets inscribed "For distinction in the defeat and expulsion of the enemy from Russian territory in 1812". There were also silver trumpets, gold lace bars for officers’ uniforms, badges "For distinction" to be worn on headdresses, the right to march to the special "grenadier" drumbeat, the inclusion of army regiments in the guards and of jäger regiments in the grenadiers, and the assigning of honor titles to regiments ¾ the names of heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812. Some of these listed awards became elements of the uniform and accouterments. This set of postcards is dedicated to these elements as well as to weapons, military engineering equipment, and the means to supply the Russian forces in battle.

A. Smirnov

Front cover: Cold-steel weapons, shako, and drum of jäger regiments.

Back cover: Headdress and cartridge pouches of lancer regiments.

The cards:


In 1812 firearms in the Russian army were not uniform. Even though a single caliber of 17.78 mm was established in 1809 for smoothbore flintlock weapons, at the beginning of the war the armament of the infantry and artillery included Russian and foreign weapons of 28 different calibers (from 12.7 to 21.91 mm). The 1808-pattern infantry musket with its triple-edged bayonet (2) was the best of the Russian-made weapons of this type. It had a smooth barrel of 17.78 mm caliber and 114 cm long, a flintlock, wooden stock, and metal fittings. Its weight (without the bayonet) was 4.47 kg and its length was 145.8 cm (with bayonet ¾ 183 cm). Maximum firing range was 300 paces, and its normal rate of repeated fire ¾ one shot a minute (some shooting experts could let loose about six unaimed shots a minute).

In jäger regiments the 1805 rifle [shtutser] with sword-bayonet [kortik] was still in use, although it had been ordered withdrawn in 1808. This was used to arm non-commissioned officers and the best marksmen (12 men in each company). The jäger rifle had a polygonal barrel with eight grooves that was 66 cm long and of 16.51 mm caliber. The rifle’s weight (without bayonet) was 4.09 k and its total length with the sword-bayonet ¾ 153.7 cm. In effective range it could fire twice as far as a smoothbore musket but was itself inferior in rate of fire (one shot in three minutes). In cuirassier, dragoon, and lancer regiments 16 men in each squadron were armed with cavalry rifles of the 1803 pattern (3). Its weight was 2.65 kg, it was of 16.51 mm caliber, and the length of the barrel was 32.26 cm. In hussar regiments musketoons [mushketony] (4) and carbines [karabiny] were also issued to 16 men in a squadron. Cavalry troopers, horse-artillerymen, pioneers, and officers of all branches had pistols of various patterns (5), mostly a 17.78 mm caliber model with a barrel 26 to 26.5 mm long. The effective range of this weapon was not over 30 paces.

During the Napoleonic Wars the flintlock was used in firearms as the mechanism for igniting the charge in the barrel. It was fastened to the musket with two firelock screws through the stock. All of its smaller part were mounted on a lock plate. On the middle of its upper edge was a pan (2) for the priming powder, positioned opposite the firing hole in the barrel. Above the pan on a transverse screw was fixed the steel (3), opposite which was located the cock (1) fixed on a transverse pin passing through the lock plate. A flint is put in the cock, held by two small clamps. Behind this on the plate is a safety in the form of a small hook which prevents the cock from accidentally falling forward from the cocked position. On the inner side of the plate is a firing spring (4) which moves the cock forward. At one end, usually the longer one, it rests on an "ankle bone", a semicircular steel cam with two catches that provide the safety and firing positions of the cock. The cock is stopped by a sear, one end of which ¾ the release ¾ is perpendicular to the lock plate and moves with the trigger located outside the lock, under the stock. When the cock is drawn back, the sear engages the first catch, implementing the safety position, and after loading the musket the cock is drawn back a little further so the sear engages a second notch, holding the cock in the firing position. To fire it is necessary to squeeze the trigger. At this point the sear is lowered and disengages from the firing catch, and under the impulse of the firing spring the cam quickly revolves and pushes the cock forward. The cock forcefully strikes the flint against the steel, which swings open from the blow, and sparks rise from the flint striking the steel’s face and ignite the powder in the priming pan. Flame through the firing hole ignites the main powder charge in the barrel.

The 1798-pattern infantry sword [shpaga] (1) was the regulation cold-steel weapon of officers and generals of Russian infantry, foot artillery, and engineers. It had a straight single-edged blade 86 cm long and 3.2 cm wide. The total length of the sword was 97 cm and it weighed (in its scabbard) 1.3 kg. The hilt consisted of a wooden handle spirally wrapped with wire, a pommel, and a metal guard.

As a cold-steel cut and thrust weapon infantry privates and non-commissioned officers had the 1807-pattern hanger [tesak] (2 and 3) in a leather scabbard, worn on a deerskin crossbelt over the right shoulder. It consisted of a single-edged blade some 61 cm long and 3.2 cm wide, with a brass hilt. Its total length was 78 cm and it weighed about 1.2 kg. There was a swordknot [temlyak] tied around the hilt’s handle below the pommel, made from a length of lace and a tassel. The tassel consisted of a ring, wooden acorn (colored ring), neck, and fringe. In the infantry the lace and fringe were white, while the remaining parts of the swordknot were colored to distinguish between companies and battalions.

The Russian foot soldier kept his ammunition for his musket in a cartridge pouch (4-6) worn on a deerskin crossbelt 6.7 cm wide, over the left shoulder. The black leather pouch held 60 paper cartridges, inside each of which was a lead ball weighing 23.8 g (for the 1808-pattern musket) and a powder charge (9.9 g). A yellow brass plate (white iron for pioneers) was fixed to the cartridge pouch’s rectangular cover [sic, in the strict sense the cover is not rectangular ¾ trans.]. The plate differed in shape between various branches and arms of service. Thus, in the guards heavy infantry the plate had a St.-Andrew’s star (4). For grenadiers the plate was in the form of a grenade with three flames (6), and army jägers had brass numerals corresponding to the regimental number.

In 1812 the Russian heavy cavalry had several models of broadswords with single-edged blades in service as cold-steel weapons. For dragoons the most widespread was the 1806-model sword (1), carried in wooden scabbards wrapped with leather and with metal fittings. The blade was 89 cm long, up to 38 mm wide, and had an overall length (with hilt, in the scabbard) of 102 cm. It weighed 1.65 kg. In addition to this model, older patterns from the end of the 18th century were in use, as well as "imperial" ["tsesarskii"] (Austrian) swords issued from the Kiev and Moscow arsenals to some dragoon regiments.

Cuirassiers were armed with army and guards swords of the 1798, 1802 (Cavalier Guards), and 1810 patterns with steel scabbards and two rings for the straps from the swordbelt. The 1798 sword (3) consisted of a blade and hilt. The blade was 90 cm long and about 4 cm wide, and the hilt had a guard composed of a small cup guard and four protective quillons, and a pommel in the form of a bird’s head. The overall length of the sword was 107 cm and its weight was 2.1 kg. The cuirassier broadsword of 1810 differed from the previous patterns by its greater length (111 cm, including a 97-cm blade) and in the hilt design.

Two patterns of sabers were used in the Russian light cavalry during the Napoleonic wars ¾ those of 1798 and 1809. Sabers of the first model (4) were usually carried in wooden scabbards wrapped with leather, with metal fittings with cut-out sections that covered almost all the scabbard’s surface (there could also be steel scabbards). The total length of a saber was about one meter; the blade was 87 cm long and up to 4.1 cm wide, with an average curvature of 6.5/37 cm. By 1812 the 1809-pattern saber (5) had almost completely replaced the previous model. It had a blade 88 cm long and up to 3.6 cm wide, with an average curvature of 7/36.5 cm. Its total length was 103 cm and it weighed (in its steel scabbard) 1.9 kg.

Lances, used in 1812-1814 by Russian light mounted troops, were distinguished by their great variety. This was especially so for cossack lances which did not have regulation patterns. For cossack lances, the size of the steel points, their length, and the diameter of the shafts were according to whim; they had only one characteristic feature ¾ there was no butt-piece nor any tangs below the blade (2-4). [Sic, the illustration which shows tangs is in error. This part of the postcard’s text is copied almost word for word from A. N. Kulinskii’s Kholodnoe oruzhie russkoi armii i flota, although the postcard mispells pozhilina (tang) as prozhilina. ¾ M.C.] In 1812 mounted regiments of the provincial levies were also armed with similar weapons (1), and in other instances they received pikes left from the 1807 militia (7).

From 1806 lancers were armed with a cavalry lance (5 and 6) which was distinguished from those for cossacks by its longer blade (12.2 cm) with a tubular base and long cut-out tangs. They also had a blunt butt-piece. Its shaft was thinner than for cossack lances and was painted black. The lancer’s weapon had a total length that averaged 2.8 to 2.85 meters. On the lance there was fastened a cloth flag ¾ the flyuger ¾ by whose color it was possible to distinguish one regiment from another, and within a regiment ¾ one battalion from another. During an attack in mounted formation the pennons on the lances lowered to the "charge" ["k boyu"] position produced a piercing whistle and droned as they moved through the air, affecting enemy morale.

By the summer of 1812 lancer-pattern lances, but without pennons, were used to arm front-rank men in eight army hussar regiments. Thus, almost all the Russian light cavalry during the Patriotic War came to be carrying lances, surpassing Napoleon’s cavalry in this kind of weapon.

From 1802 to 1811 Russian cuirassiers did not wear cuirasses, and it was only on 1 January 1812 that a decree was issued regarding the manufacture of this protective piece of equipment. By July of 1812 all cuirassier regiments had received cuirasses of the new pattern, made of iron and painted black all over (1). A cuirass had two halves ¾ one for the chest and one for the back ¾ held together with the help of two straps with brass endpieces, fixed to the back half at the shoulders and fastened on the chest to two brass buttons. For privates these suspender straps had iron scales, and for officers ¾ brass. The edges of the cuirass were lined around with red cord, and on the inside there was a lining of white quilted canvas. The cuirass was 47 cm high, 44 cm wide on the chest piece and 40 cm on the back, and weighed from 8 to 9 kg. A cuirass protected the trooper’s body from the cuts and thrusts of edged weapons and also from bullets discharged from further away than 50 paces.

Cuirassier trumpeters had brass trumpets and carried them on a silver cord mixed with black and orange threads (2). The St.-George trumpets awarded to several regiments were silver with the cross of the Military Order of St. George and decorated with St.-George ribbon with silver tassels (3).

A cuirassier kept the ammunition for his firearm in a black leather pouch called a lyadunka (for 30 cartridges). A badge was fixed to its cover: in the form of the star of St. Andrew for guards regiments (4), and for the majority of army regiments ¾ a round brass plate with the image of a two-headed eagle (5).

The 1808-model helmet worn by Russian dragoons and cuirassiers during the Patriotic War was made of black lacquered leather. It had two leather visors, the one in front being edged with a brass strip. The body of the helmet was 22-26 cm high, and above it was affixed a leather comb reaching up in front for 10 cm. On the front of the body there was a brass frontispiece with a stamped device: a two-headed eagle in army dragoon regiments (1), and in the Life-Guards Dragoon Regiment ¾ the star of the order of St. Andrew the First-Called (3). On the helmet’s comb there was attached a crest of black horsehair. For trumpeters this was red (2). On its sides the helmet was held on the head by straps on which were sewn brass scales.

Horse furniture for a dragoon consisted of a black Hungarian saddle with black straps to hold the musket. A dark-green cloth shabraque (over the saddle) had rounded edges, and its stripe, edging, and monogram in the rear corner were in the regimental color. The length and width (in the back) of the shabraque was 111 cm. Strapped to the saddle was a valise of grey cloth, 59 cm long and 22.25 cm wide, a dragoon musket, canvas bag, and canteen for water.

Russian hussars belted their waists with a girdle, or barrel sash, which was a net of colored cords bound with crosspieces of another color. Besides their sash around their waist, hussars wore a sword belt [portupei] of red Russian leather, from which the saber hung from two sling straps, with the sabertache [tashka] hanging from three other slings. The sabertache was a leather pocket covered on the outside with distinctively colored cloth with the sewn-on monogram of Alexander I in another color, which was also used for the stripe and piping. In this way, in the Belorussia, Izyum, and Sumy hussar regiments the sabertache was covered in red cloth and had white trim (3); for the Life-Hussars the sabertache’s decoration was of a special pattern (2).

Hussars kept their firearm ammunition in a pouch [lyadunka] of red Russian leather (20 rounds) which they wore on a red crossbelt (5) over the left shoulder. Over this crossbelt they wore a bandolier [pantaler] (a crossbelt to which was fastened a carbine or musketoon). For hussar officers the cover of the pouch was metal ¾ silver or gilt ¾ with the image of an eagle. In the Life-Guards Hussar Regiment the pouches of officers had lids covered in dark-blue morocco, with a gilded plate in the shape of a St.-Andrew’s star (4).

For cossacks in 1812 the regulation headgear was a headdress [shapka] of black ram’s fleece, 22.25 cm high with a colored cloth top (let down on the right side like a tongue) and white (for Life-Cossacks ¾ yellow) cords of the infantry pattern (1 and 2). On the left the headdress was decorated with a high plume of white horsehair. However, on campaign the majority of cossacks wore cloth forage caps or shapeless hats.

Accouterments for cossack troops was extremely varied. Along with black (for Life-Cossacks ¾ white) crossbelts and bandoliers (3), they used Asiatic equipment: narrow belts with metal fittings, and also silk or woolen cords and straps. Horse furniture (4) consisted of a cossack saddle (with a higher than usual arch and a pillow seat), straps, and a dark-blue cloth shabraque with colored edging. Lashed to the saddle were a valise, bag, a rolled-up sheepskin coat [polushubka], and a long rope [arkan].

In 1812 cossack troops (except for the guards cossacks) were, as a rule, armed with sabers of non-regulation patterns (1). Along with light-cavalry sabers of the 1809 pattern, they used various Russian types of the 18th century and also every possible Asiatic, Hungarian, Polish, and other foreign kind of saber. These were carried in wooden scabbards wrapped with leather, with brass or iron fittings.

A cossack kept the charges and bullets from his firearm in a leather pouch (3) worn on a black crossbelt, to the front of which was fixed a small chain and metal monogram of Alexander I within a wreath. For officers of the Life-Guards Cossack Regiment the crossbelt was of red Russian leather covered in silver thread on the outside, and on the pouch cover there was an eight-pointed silver star (2).

In 1812, soldiers of the engineer forces were armed with the 1797-pattern sapper’s sword [tesak] (1) which consisted of a slightly curved steel blade (50 cm long , about 8.5 cm wide) with a back like a saw (with about 49 teeth), and a hilt with a wooden handle grip and iron cross guard with two turned-up ends. The total length of the sword was about 70 cm and it weighed 1.9 kg. The scabbard was wood wrapped with leather, with metal fittings. Such a sword could be used as a fighting weapon and at the same time as a pioneer tool.

For various construction work, earth moving, and preparing positions the Russian army use: an iron spade [lopata] with a 71-cm handle and 23x29 cm blade (3); an ax [topor] with its 73-cm handle (7), and a pickax [kirka] (5). Ten spades, twenty axes, and five picks were authorized for each infantry company. Pioneer regiments used the sapper spade (6), lever [lom] (4), and ax with hook (2). With the aid of their tools, Russian troops in 1812 built the earthworks of the Drissa fortified camp, the redoubts, fleches, and lunettes of the Borodino position, and many other defensive works.

Special embroidery for the coats of generals was introduced by an order of the War Ministry dated 26 January 1808, in the form of gold oak branches on the collars and cuffs. This same embroidery was put onto cuff flaps and on the horizontal pocket flaps at the rear waist seam. Along with this it was stated that the collars, cuffs, turnbacks, and lining of generals’ coats were to be in scarlet cloth, while the coats themselves, cuff flaps, and pocket flaps were to be made from dark-green cloth, just as with most Russian military coats.

Epaulettes, introduced by an order of 17 September 1807, also served as a rank distinction for generals. These were made of gold threads and spun braid on a red cloth base. The epaulette’s round field was plaited round with two rows of twisted gold cord: the row next to the epaulette’s field was about 6.5 mm thick while the outer row was made from cord about 13 mm thick. A fringe hung down from the edge of the epaulette’s field, fashioned from thick cord; the edges of the epaulette strap were trimmed with gold galloon. Generals wore the same epaulettes on their everyday undress coats [vitsmundiry] and also on regimental coats if they were on the rolls of some regiment, more often than not of the guards.

Coats with general officers’ embroidery were prescribed to be worn when in formation, on parade, and during troop reviews.

This same general officers’ embroidery, but in silver, was adopted by 1812 for the coats of generals of garrison troops and for the chekmen tunics of Don Cossack generals.

In 1812 field and company-grade officers of the Russian army and navy wore on their coats the epaulettes introduced in 1807. Around the flap of the epaulette there was sewn a narrow strip of galloon in the same color as the uniform’s metal appointments, while the epaulette’s field was plaited round by two rows of twisted cord (1). Around the edges of epaulette fields for officers serving in artillery or pioneer companies there was one cord about 19 mm wide, wrapped in metallic foil and a fine net (2). For field-grade officers (majors, lieutenant colonels, and colonels), there was a fringe hanging from the epaulette’s edge, 6 to 6.5 mm thick (3). The epaulettes of officers serving in the guards, army cavalry regiments, the quartermaster service, and field engineer commands were gold or silver. Epaulettes for officers of army infantry regiments, foot and horse artillery, and pioneer companies had cloth tops to the flaps and fields. Epaulettes for field-artillery officers were made from red cloth and gold galloon and cord, with the number and letter of the company embroidered in gilt thread on the field. For officers of pioneer regiments the galloon, cords, and embroidery in which the number of the regiment was sewn, were silver. For officers of grenadier regiments the top of the epaulette was of red cloth with gold galloon and cords, and on the epaulette’s field was sewn, in narrow cord, the initial letter of the name of the regiment. In the first regiments of infantry divisions the top of the epaulette was finished in red cloth, in the second ¾ in white, in the third ¾ in yellow, and in the fourth ¾ in dark green with red piping. On the epaulette’s field was sewn, in gilt cord, the number of the division to which the regiment belonged.

Cockades on shakos for company-grade officers were made of silver thread (4), while for field-grade officers they were sewn over with silver sparkles (5).

By 1812 there were exact regulations for the badges worn on the front of the shako in guards and army regiments. In the guards infantry regiments ¾ the Preobrazhesnkii, Semenovskii, Izmailovskii, Jäger, and Finland ¾ there was worn on the shako a badge in the shape of a two-headed eagle with a laurel wreath in the right claw and a torch and thunderstone in the left. On the eagle’s breast was a small shield with an image of St. George (1). These badges were introduced on 16 April 1808. Identical plates were given to the Life-Guards Hussar Regiment. In the Life-Guards Lithuania Regiment the badges were the same type but instead of St. George on the shield there was depicted a Lithuanian horseman.

On the shakos of guards artillerymen there were badges in the shape of guards eagles under which were crossed cannon barrels (2), and in the Guards Naval Équipage, formed on 16 February 1810, the eagles on the shakos were placed above crossed anchors (3). The Life-Guards Sapper Battalion was formed on 27 December 1812 and it was given shako plates in the shape of guards eagles under which were placed small crossed cannon (4).

In grenadier regiments "grenadki o trekh ognyakh" ("triple-flamed grenades") in brass served as shako badges (6). The same "grenadki" were on the shakos of officers and lower ranks of the miner companies in the 1st and 2nd pioneer regiments, but in white metal instead of brass. The shakos in marine regiments and for "column leaders" ["kolonnvozhatye", i.e. trained staff officers] also had three-flamed grenades. In infantry and jäger regiments single-flamed grenades ["grenadki ob odnom ogne"] served as shako badges (6), of brass for lower ranks and gilded for officers. Officers and lower ranks of pioneer companies had the same grenades on their shakos, but in white metal (7), while army field artillerymen wore crossed cannon barrels as an emblem on their shakos.

For members of the Imperial Suite ¾ general-adjutants and aides-de-camp [general-ad"yutanty i fligel’-ad"yutanty] ¾ special pattern embroidery for coat collars and cuffs was introduced at the beginning of Alexander I’s reign, although this was actually already instituted under Paul I. For general-adjutants this embroidery was gold (1), and for aides-de-camp (field and company-grade officers assigned to the tsar’s suite) ¾ of the same pattern but in silver. If the general-adjutant or aide-de-camp was serving in the cavalry, he wore a white cavalry-pattern coat with a red collar and slit cuffs, and the embroidery on the collar was in one row, but on the cuffs ¾ in two rows.

General-adjutants and aides-de-camp who were part of the infantry, artillery, or engineers wore dark-green coats with red collars and cuffs on which were dark-green flaps. Embroidery on the collar was likewise in a single row, but on the cuff flaps ¾ in one row for each of the three buttons.

Generals and offices of the quartermaster service (as the general staff was called in 1812) also had special pattern gold embroidery on the collar and cuffs. This was in the form of intertwined palm leaves (2) ¾ one row on the collar and in two rows on the cuffs. For field and company-grade officers of the Don Cossack Host there was silver embroidery on the collar and cuffs of the chekmen tunic, similar to that for the Imperial Suite but slightly different (3). The same embroidery was on the collars and cuffs of officers’ jackets in the Life-Guards Cossack Regiment.

In the senior guards heavy infantry regiments ¾ the Preobrazhenskii, Semenovskii, and Izmailovskii ¾ special pattern embroidery on the collars and cuff flaps of officers’ coats had already been introduced at the beginning of Alexander I’s reign using the designs confirmed in 1800 by Paul I.

In the Preobrazhenskii Regiment the embroidery had the form of a figure "8" of intertwined oak and laurel branches. Two such figure "8"s were worn on each side of the collar and three of them on each cuff flap (1).

Embroidery in the Semenovskii Regiment had the form of an elongated decorative button loop surrounded by intertwined ornamentation (2).

The most complicated embroidery was in the Izmailovskii Regiment in the form of a weave of two small sheaves on each button loop, ending with a small plume-like figure (3). As in the Preobrazhenskii Regiment, the embroidery of the Semenovskii and Izmailovskii regiments was in two rows on each side of the collar on officer’s tailcoats and in three rows on the cuff flaps.

Non-commissioned officers of all three regiments wore one straight button loop of gold galloon on the collar and three small button loops on the cuff flaps. In addition, on the upper and side edges of the collar and on the edges of the cuff flaps there was sewn smooth gold galloon.

Lace bars for privates were of yellow worsted tape, two on the collar and three on the cuff flaps.

In the Life-Guards Lithuania Regiment, formed on 7 November 1811, the red cloth facing of the collars, cuffs, and plastrons of field and company-grade officers were given straight, embroidered lace bars in gold, popularly referred to as spools [katushki] (1). Two bars were sewn on each side of the collar and three on each cuff flap. In 1812, lace bars of this same pattern were also worn in the Life-Guards Garrison Battalion, and also in the guards cavalry regiments: the Life-Guards Horse, Dragoons, and Lancers. The same lace, but embroidered in silver, was worn by military engineers and officers of the Cavalier Guards Regiment. Exactly the same lace bars were granted to officers of the Life-Guards Pavlovskii, Grenadier, and Cuirassier regiments which had been transferred to the guards for distinction shown in the Patriotic War of 1812. In the Guards Naval Équipage, formed on 16 February 1810, the collars and cuff flaps of officers’ coats were given the naval officers’ embroidery that had been used since 1803 ¾ an anchor fouled with cable and shkerty (thin ropes), but along the edges of the collars and cuff flaps there was sewn additional gold galloon about 13 mm wide (2). Besides the tailcoats worn when in formation and on parade, officers of the Guards Équipage had undress coats for everyday wear, on the collars and cuff flaps of which were lace bars in the shape of spools. On 27 March 1809, generals and field and company-grade officers serving in the guards artillery were given gold embroidery in the form of ornamental button loops of a special pattern. Two such button loops were sewn on each side of the collar and three on the cuff flaps (3). The same button loops, but sewn in silver, were given to officers of the Life-Guards Sapper Battalion formed on 27 December 1812.

In 1812 the most common headdress for generals, members of the Imperial Suite and the quartermaster service [general staff], military engineers, army doctors, and officials were black three-cornered hats of the 1802 pattern, made of fine dense felt. The front brim of the hat was about 25 cm high, and the back ¾ about 28 cm, while the hat’s side corners were 13.5 cm from the crown on each side. The front and back of the brim were sewn to the crown and to each other on the upper parts. For strength the edge of the brim was lined on the inside with a strip of whalebone or metal wire. on the front flap there was sewn a round cockade of black silk with orange edging and a button to which was fastened a galloon button loop for field and company-grade officers (3) or a twisted cord of plaited braid for generals (2). The button loop on officers’ hats and the cord on those of generals were according to the color of the uniform’s metal appointments. In a special socket on top there was placed a plume of cock’s feathers: black with a mix of white and orange for artillerymen, infantrymen, and engineers, and white with a mix of orange and black for cavalrymen. Small silver or gold tassels were placed in the side corners of the hat. These same hats were worn off duty by field and company-grade officers of infantry and cavalry regiments, and also of artillery and engineer companies.

Sashes (1) were tied around the waist over the tailcoats of generals and field and company-grade officers of the army and navy, as already introduced under Paul I. They had a kind of net pattern woven in silver thread, with a mesh of 2 or 3 mm, and with a crossweave in three rows of black and orange silk thread. The sash ended in tassels at each end. It was about 1.4 m long and the tassel about 27 cm.

In 1812, 1808-pattern gorgets were used to differentiate the ranks of field and company-grade officers serving in infantry, artillery, and pioneer regiments. They were crescent shaped with a raised edge and a crowned two-headed eagle. Gorgets were made from thin sheets of brass with a silver or gilt edge, eagle, and field of the gorget, depending on rank. Thus, for ensigns gorgets were entirely silver, while for sublieutenants the gorget’s edge was gilded. Lieutenants had a silver field and edge with a gilt eagle, and staff-captains only had the field in silver while the eagle and edge were covered with gilt. For captains, on the other hand, the field was gilt while the edge and eagle were silver. For the rank of major the field and edge were gilt but the eagle remained silver (2). For the gorgets of lieutenant colonels the field and eagle were covered in gilt and only the edge remained silver. For colonels the entire gorget was gilt. Gorgets were worn on black ribbons with orange edges, passed through small metal brackets soldered to the back.

For officers serving in the guards infantry, Life-Guards Artillery Brigade, and Life-Guards Sapper Battalion (established at the end of 1812), gorgets were wider in the center part, and the eagles on them were smaller (1) with laurel and oak branches and attributes of martial glory positioned beneath them.

Differences in the gorget’s details in connection with officer ranks in guards units were the same as in army units, with the difference that the ranks of major and lieutenant colonel did not exist in the guards. The gorgets of company-grade officers of the Life-Guards Preobrazhenskii and Semenovskii regiments also had a raised image of a figure signifying the date of the Battle of Narva ¾ "1700.NO.19" (19 November, 1700).

At the beginning of the Patriotic War there were two kinds of award weapons that could be presented to officers: gold swords [shpagi] and sabers [sabli] (1), and St.-Anne swords and sabers with medals of the Order of St. Anne 3rd Class (2). The award of gold swords and sabers inscribed "For courage" was introduced in 1788. For field and company-grade officers of the army and navy there were prescribed swords and sabers with a gilt hilt and the engraved inscription "For courage"; for general offices the hilts of the swords and sabers were decorated with diamonds and they also had the engraved inscription "For courage". Commanders of armies or independent corps were awarded swords and sabers with hilts decorated with brilliants and gold laurel wreaths, and the inscription included the date and place of the battle. Under Paul I the presentation of gold swords was discontinued. By an ukase of 18 November 1796 it was set forth that with the division of the order of St.-Anne into three classes the 3rd class was to be carried on the hilts of infantry swords and cavalry sabers and intended as an award for officers who distinguished themselves in military actions. The medal for the Order of St. Anne 3rd Class was round gilt medallion surmounted by a crown. On the face of the medal was small red enamel cross enclosed in a red enamel ring; on the reverse ¾ a screw and nut for fixing the medal to the hilt. The medal was about 25.4 mm in diameter.

Alexander I reintroduced the award of gold swords in all forms, and by an ukase of 28 September 1807 officers who were awarded with gold weapons were made equal with chevaliers of Russian orders. In 1812, 274 persons were awarded gold swords or sabers for distinguishing themselves in battles with the French, while 16 were awarded gold swords with diamonds. St.-Anne swords became the most common award for junior officers. In 1812 alone 986 persons received them.

Even before 1812 it was the fashion for officers awarded gold or St.-Anne swords and sabers that holders of gold weapons inscribed "For courage" would wear on the left side of the coat small frames or bars with a miniature sword or saber, pushing underneath this a folded piece of St.-George ribbon (3). Officers having St.-Anne swords, though, had a piece of St.-Anne ribbon pushed under similar small frames, sometimes affixing a miniature medal of the Order of St.-Anne 3rd Class (2).

After the Patriotic War of 1812 and the foreign campaign of 1813-1814, when individual officers could have several military awards, among which was a gold or St.-Anne sword, there came into fashion the wearing of unique miniature bars or frames with a representation of the awarded saber or sword. From the lower part of the frame there were suspended small crosses and medals made in a reduced size. This fashion was most widespread among cavalry officers, on whose coats there was very little room for wearing normal-size awards between the front edge of the coat and the pouch belt.

This postcard shows two types of such frames. One of them is made as a miniature saber (1) from which hangs a medal of the Order of St. Anne 3rd Class, a silver campaign medal for 1812, a medal for the capture of Paris, and a bronze nobleman’s medal commemorating 1812. The other frame (4) is filled in with a representation of a saber and the inscription "For courage". From the frame hangs a medal of the Order of St. Anne 3rd Class, a silver medal for 1812, a gold officer’s cross for the taking of the Turkish fortress of Bázardzhik on 10 May 1810, and a bronze medal in memory of the year 1812.

The first badges for distinction [znaki otlichiya], awarded by an order of 13 April 1813 to the 1st, 5th, 14th, and 20th Jäger regiments, were in the form of small shields, rounded on the bottom, made of this brass with the inscription "For distinction" ["Za otlichie"] (5). Exceptionally, by an order of 15 September 1813, the Akhtyrka, Mariupol, Belorussia, and Aleksandriya Hussar regiments were awarded badges in the form of metal ribbons inscribed "For distinction 14 August 1813" (1). As is well known, on that date these regiments distinguished themselves in the battle at the Katzbach River. By an ukase of 22 December 1813 a silver medal on a St.-Andrew ribbon (3) was instituted to decorate all combatant ranks of the army and navy who took part in military operations against the French since the start of their invasion of Russia. By an ukase of 30 August 1814 the same medal, but of bronze, was established as an award for officers who took part in the foreign campaign of 1813-1814, as well as for nobles and officials who helped form units of the mass levy [opolchenie] or who donated contributions to the army and mass levy. It was worn on a St.-Vladimir ribbon (4). The same medal, but on a St.-Anne ribbon, was given to town dwellers and merchants for donations to the mass levy and army. A medal "For the taking of Paris" was also projected by the ukase of 30 August 1814, but due to complications in the international situation its striking only took place after an ukase of 19 March 1826. This medal was silver and worn on a combined St. Andrew-St. George ribbon (2). in addition to all participants in the taking of the French capital, this was awarded to all those who took part in the battles of 1814 winter-spring campaign.

[The inscription of medals 3 and 4 translates as "Not for ourselves, not for ourselves, but in Thy name."]


On 13 February 1807 the medal of the Military Order (soldiers’ St.-George cross) was established for award to non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army and navy for military deeds. It duplicated the shape of the medal of the Order of St. George but was made of silver and worn on a black and orange ribbon (1). This cross was used to decorate 6783 men for their actions in battles during 1812. Before the institution of the medal of the Military Order, non-commissioned officers and soldiers who distinguished themselves in battle with the enemy were decorated with the medal of St. Anne. This decoration was established on 12 November 1796 and was a round gilt medal (3) about 25 mm in diameter and worn on the ribbon of the order of St. Anne. In the upper part of the medal there was depicted a crown, and in the center ¾ a brownish-red enamel cross enclosed in a similarly colored enamel ring. This ring was also on the reverse of the medal where the decoration’s serial number was engraved. With the institution of the medal of the Military Order, the St.-Anne medal began to be used to decorate non-commissioned officers and soldiers for 20 years of "faultless" service. By an ukase of 30 August 1814 there was established a silver medal marked "For love of the Fatherland" ["Za lyubov’ k otechestvu"], awarded to the most distinguished partisans and members of the mass levy. It was worn on a St.-Vladimir ribbon. About 80 such medals were given out. To officers and non-commissioned officers of the mass levy the "mass levy" cross ["opolchenskii" krest] was established for wear on the headdress (4). After the defeat of the French corps under General Vandamme at Kulm, on 18 August 1813 the king of Prussia ordered that all Russian officers and soldiers in the battle were to be decorated with the so-called Kulm Cross [Kulmskii krest] (5). These badges wee made directly on the battlefield from captured cuirasses and the metal fittings of ammunition boxes and were shaped much like the Iron Cross. About 10,000 such badges were handed out.

Cannons with a conical charge chamber were called "unicorns" because of the raised image of this mythical beast on General-Field Master of Ordnance Shuvalov’s coat of arms, found on the gun’s breach end. Since 1805 all such decoration was no longer used, except for friezes, but the name continued. Uniting in itself the qualities of guns [pushki] and howitzers [gaubitsy], unicorns effectively fired solid balls, explosive shells, and canister [yadry, granaty, kartech’]. This performance was achieved by using a charge chamber conical in shape and a shorter bore length as compared to guns (1). Reducing the weight of the barrel permitted the carriage to be lightened, which then gave great maneuverability. The sole deficiency of unicorns as well as guns was the lack of iron axles (introduced in 1845). Wooden axles often broke and demanded constant greasing. For this purpose each piece had a hanging bucket filled with grease (3). Cannons also had a second bucket filled with water (with a little vinegar mixed in) for wetting the cleaning rod [bannik] (2). Laying the piece in the horizontal plane was done with help of handspikes [pravila]—right and left ones which fitted into sockets on the rear crosspiece of the gun carriage. Elevation was done using a handle on the breech wedge. Aiming was aided by Kabanov’s sighting piece, which had to be removed before each shot.

The maximum firing range of a 1/2-pounder unicorn was 2300 meters, and of a 1/4-pounder – 1500 meters. The range for aimed shots (the distance of most effective fire) was 900 to 1000 meters for the 1/2-pounder unicorn. The 1/4-pounder unicorn used long canister (cast-iron balls 30.5 to 49.5 mm in diameter) for firing at ranges of 400 to 500 meters and short canister (cast-iron balls of 21.6 to 26 mm) for firing at distances of 150 to 400 meters.

In 1802 a commission for reorganizing the artillery was formed under the chairmanship of Arakcheev, which included the famous Russian artillerists I. G. Gogel, A. I. Kutaisov, and Kh. L. Eiler. The commission worked out a weapons system with received the name of the Arakcheev, or 1805, system: a 12-pounder cannon (1) with a caliber of 120 mm, a barrel weighing 800 kg, and a 640-kg carriage; a 6-pounder cannon of 95 mm caliber, with a 350-kg barrel and 395-kg carriage; a 1/2-pounder unicorn (2) with a caliber of 152 mm, a barrel weighing 490 kg, and a 670-kg carriage; and a 1/4-pounder unicorn of 120-mm caliber, with a 335-kg barrel and 395-kg carriage.

A. I. Markevich’s aiming sight (3) was introduced into the artillery beginning in 1802. On a small vertical brass plate was fitted a range scale marked by lined divisions from 5 to 30 (the interval between each division being 2.54 mm). One aimed through an opening in a small rectangular plate moved to one of the divisions, depending on the distance to the target. Then, adjusting the angle of the barrel’s elevation, the gun layer sights the target through the opening in the plate, which is to say he lines up the foresight with the target through the opening in the plate, this being called the aiming line [liniya pritselivaniya]. Before firing, the plate of this back sight was pushed down to the barrel. Aiming was done by the Number 4 in the gun crew.

To avoid dirtying the gun barrels under campaign conditions, they were plugged with wooden stoppers on leather straps (4). The touch holes were covered by a lead plug fastened with leather straps (5).


Special implements were used for loading artillery pieces: cleaning rod [bannik] with rammer [priboinik] (a bristle brush for quenching smouldering powder bag material, wet with a mix of water and vinegar)—cylindrical in form for guns (5), conical for unicorns (4). The rammer was used to push home and pack the powder bag [kartuz]. For cleaning the bore of the barrel a scraper [sgrebok] with a wadding worm [pyzhovnik] (1). Quick-firing tubes [skorostrelnye trubki] (small reeds filled with a powder mixture) were kept in a tube pouch [trubochnaya lyadunka] (3). The crew of each gun had two linstocks [palniki] (2). A glowing slow-match [fitil] was fitted into the clamp of the linstock. Since the end of the slow-match was torn off after each firing, the next shot was done with the other linstock.

In rainy weather firing matches [palitelnye svechi] (a flammable compound placed inside a rolled-up paper tube some 40 centimeters long). Such a match burned for 5 minutes, and this sufficed to fire five times. The matches were protected in a brass matchbox called a"svechinka" (6). As a permanent source of fire there was a "night light" ["nochnik"] (7) with a little door and three holes in the bottom (to allow air in), in which was placed a slow-match glowing in oil. Charges [zaryady] were carried in a pouch ["zaryadnaya suma"] (9). Touch holes were cleaned with prickers [protravniki]—brass and steel, which were carried on the pouch crossbelt.

Each artillerist in a gun crew was assigned a number which designated his responsibilities: No. 1 worked the cleaning rod, No. 2 carried the charge pouch, No. 3 had the slow-match and matches, and No. 4 — the tube pouch and prickers. These artillerymen were called cannoniers [kanonira] and were required to know all the procedures for loading and firing. The other crew numbers, who fulfilled the role of assistants, were called gandlangera (from German, meaning "long arms"). They carried extra charge pouches and ropes with hooks (8), which were used when rolling guns into position or moving them around.


Since 1805 the weapons of the siege artillery consisted of: 24, 18, and 12-pounder cannons (making up most of the guns), and 180, 72, and 6-pounder mortars. Siege artillery was organized in battalions, each of five companies. The maximum range of fire at an elevation angle of 25 degrees was 2600 m for the 180-pounder mortar, 2375 m for the 72 pounder, and 1810 m for the 6 pounder. Mortars were fired from special trenches. Under this condition, aiming at an unseen target was accomplished in the following manner: two stakes were pounded into the breastwork of the trench, and behind the mortars was set up a tripod with a plumb weight (to prevent the weight from swaying, it was placed in a bucket of water); a white line was drawn on the mortar’s barrel, parallel to the axis of the barrel. The stakes on the breastwork were moved to coincide with the cord of the plumb weight and oriented on the target. Then the mortar was adjusted so that the target, the stakes on the breastwork, the white line on the barrel, and the plumb line were all in a straight line. The elevation angle was obtained from a quadrant or a bearing on the elevating mechanism, which was a prism of multi-faceted cross section with the facets making angles with the horizon of 30, 45, and 60 degrees. The barrel of the mortar was set down on the facet corresponding to the desired angle of elevation. The mortar’s rate of fire was one shot every 5 to 7 minutes. Mortars fired bombs and incinderary rounds (brandkugel’); balls were only fired rarely. Mortars were transported on special four-wheeled carriages. During the 1813 campaign mortars were widely used ¾ for instance, at the siege of Danzig.


The guns of light artillery companies (1/4-pounder unicorn, 6-pounder cannon) had limbers [peredki] with boxes for ammunition. Often the battlefield situation demanded that fire be opened, as it was called, from the march [s khodu]. For this were used the ammunition boxes [zaryadnye yashchiki] with a supply for the first shots, placed on the limbers. Each box held 20 rounds for a 6-pounder cannon and 12 rounds for a 1/4-pounder unicorn. Limbers, ammunition boxes, and all artillery guns were painted a grass-green color while metal parts were black. For moving cannons and unicorns the rear crosspiece of the gun carriage was put over the limber’s pintle (vertical pin) and secured by chains. A horse-collar type harness [khomutovaya upryazh] was used. For a 1/2-pounder unicorn eight horses were harnessed, for a 12-pounder cannon — six horses, and for 6-pounder guns and 1/4-pounder unicorns — four horses each. A 1/4-pounder unicorn of the horse artillery had six horses in harness. The total weight for each artillery system as configured for campaign was: 12-pounder cannon — 1700 kg, 6-pounder — 1090 kg, 1/2-pounder unicorn — 1600 kg, and 1/4-pounder — 1060 kg. For transporting a gun’s battlefield ammunition supply—at least 120 rounds for each heavy battery gun (1/2-pounder unicorn and 12-pounder cannon)—three caisson wagons were required, and for each light or horse-artillery piece (1/4-pounder unicorn and 6-pounder cannon)—two caissons.


The battlefield ammunition supply [boekomplekt] carried with the guns in caissons consisted of: for a 12-pounder cannon — 162 rounds, for a 6-pounder cannon — 174 (including 20 rounds carried in the limber), for a 1/2-pounder unicorn — 120 rounds, and for a 1/4-pounder unicorn — 120 rounds (including 12 in the limber).

In battle the caissons were positioned 30 to 40 meters from the guns. According to regulation, no more than two artillerymen were to remain next to a caisson during battle.

Three horses were harnessed to a cart with a caisson box. One horse was between the two shafts while the other two were on either side of it. The gun crew was not carried on the caisson, but a mounted man sat on the left horse.


The general army supply wagon — a covered vehicle of the army supply train, used for transporting provisions, ammunition cartridges, tents, equipment and accouterments for infantry and cavalry, as well as tools. The wagon’s had markings (in white paint) that depended on intended usage: ammunition [boepripasy], provisions [prodovolstvie], troop property [voiskovoe imushchestvo], etc.

The reorganization of the artillery in 1805 was also reflected by the army wagons: wheels and axles began to be made in the same size as those for guns.

Wagons were opened from the top. For a better hermetic seal, the covers of provision and ammunition wagons were fitted with a cloth or leather curtain. In the back was a fold-back feed rack in which was put fodder for the horses. Depending on their load, wagons were pulled using fittings for two or four horses.

The train also had medical wagons [sanitarnye fury] which carried from four to six wounded men. Because of the insufficient number of wagons, peasant’s carts were also used.


The mobile forge was used for minor repairs and making simple items under campaign conditions. It was served by a smith and two master craftsmen. They repaired and refurbished wheels, axles, gun carriages, ammunition boxes. and wagons, and they made nails, blades, and horseshoes. A hearth, bellows, and lever were fixed on a platform with two wheels. In the hearth charcoal (from birch) was fanned with the help of the bellows worked by the action of the lever. To make the work easier, a counterweight—an empty mortar shell—was fixed to the end of the lever. Forging and smithing tools were carried on a special wagon, and in another wagon was carried a supply of charcoal. One forge was provided for every 36 to 48 guns.

Each infantry and cavalry regiment had a wagon with apothecary boxes, harnessed to two horses (1). In addition to medicines and bandaging material, these removable boxes contained surgical instruments, one of the boxes having a leather pouch for ten such instruments. Also, every doctor had a pocket kit of surgical tools.

The wagon was managed by a driver who sat on the front removable box (3). On the rear box (2) there was left a place for a sick or lightly wounded man.