(From Tseikhgauz No. 14, 2/2001.)

In regard to hats…


Correspondence from Major-General A.R. Cozens, Chef of the Kharkov Dragoon Regiment, to Prince D.P. Volkonskii, general-intendant of the army.


14 August 1804. In the town of Lutsk.


My Gracious Sir,


                The new issue of dragoon hats that has arrived at my regiment are of a quality such that they cannot last the regulation period of service even with the utmost care. This summer the regiment was six weeks in cantonments and twenty-five days in camp, and during its frequent exercises in formation had to always be using hats, which even when brand new were of truly unsatisfactory craftsmanship. Also, they were destroyed by the rain which fell every day, so that it is almost impossible to give them even a mediocre shape, since the glue mixed with the felt ran out onto the surface and completely disfigured them, and when binding them they break badly. In such circumstances, in order to avoid an unsightly spectacle and not be at a disadvantage compared to other regiments, I venture to most insistently request Your Serenity to issue an order to the appropriate persons to issue helmets to my regiment, with their period of wear being increased by one year to make up for the unfulfilled wear-out term for the hats. If Your Serenity graciously honors my request, then do not delay in expediting their issue, so that in the free time during winter they can be brought to the appropriate finish and appearance.

                At the same time, Your Serenity, allow me to trouble you with yet another issue. On the past 15th of July, during a thunderstorm the squadron stables of the regimental commander’s squadron (Colonel Minitskii) quartered in Torchin was set on fire, and lightning then struck right on the arsenal where accouterments and equipment for the unit’s shortfall of personnel were kept, so that in the fierce wind it was only a moment before the fire spread in all directions. Although we managed to save the main part of the squadron’s property, there was no time to rescue all. In this event the loss in materiel and fodder was about three thousand roubles. Upon unprejudiced reflection, I supposed that this calamity would not be blamed on me, and so as not to lose time and not keep the squadron in an incorrect state, I have already replaced some of the burned items and contracted orders for the rest. I most earnestly make a preliminary request to Your Serenity that if (as is likely) the treasury takes upon itself the replacement of these losses,

then so that I will not incur a loss in this instance, as happened last year when I lost about six thousand roubles because of fires, would Your Serenity direct that I be reimbursed for them according to official prices?

                With the grandeur of these magnanimous favors please sympathetically entwine that most profound devotion and respect which I have always had for you. I have the honor to be, gracious sir, the most humble servant of Your Serenity Alexander Cozens.


Annotated: 8 September 1804, No. 1848.




Directive from General-Intendant of the Army Prince D.P. Volkonskii to the Kiev Commissariat Commission.


No. 1977            11 September 1804.


                In honoring the request to me from the chef of the Kharkov Dragoon Regiment, Major General Cozens, I direct this Commission that when it receives material for helmets from Moscow, issue it to the said regiment, but provided that the wear-out period for the helmets is to be reckoned from when the period for the hats held by that regiment would end.


RGVIA F. 12. Op. 11, Sv. 59, D. 2641, L. 85-86    Contributed by A. Val’kovich.




Note:      From 1796 to 1814 the senior commander of a regular Russian army regiment was its chef. He oversaw the military and economic aspects of the regiment and in case of shortfalls he usually paid for losses out of his own pocket. The commander [komandir] of a regiment was the chef’s immediate deputy and was basically responsible for drill and military training and stood in for the chef when for some reason he could not be present with the regiment. In 1804 the chef of the Kharkov Dragoon Regiment was Major General Alexander Cozens [Aleksandr Rytsarevich Kozens] and its commander was Colonel Minitskii.

                This correspondence is related to the two-year period between issues of hats to regiments. At the end of such time the Commissariat would send new ones. On 18 October 1803, dragoons were authorized helmets [kaski] in place of hats [shlyapy]. But in accordance with existing regulations helmets would only begin to be supplied to regiments as the time expired for previously issued headdresses.



ILLUSTRATION: Officer and private of the Pereyaslav Dragoon Regiment 1803. Colored engraving by an anonymous artist. (State Historical Museum, GIM)


Translation by Mark Conrad, 2002.