THE MOSCOW INFANTRY REGIMENT IN THE CRIMEAN WAR
From Istoriya 65-go pekhotnago Moskovskago Ego Imperatorskago Vysochestva Gosudarya Naslednika Tsesarevicha polka 1642-1700-1890, by Staff-Captain Ya. Smirnov. Warsaw, 1890.
The year 1850 will not be forgotten in the regiment because on 25 June it received new flags with rings on the shafts and ribbons of the order of St. Andrew, marking 150 years of the regiments existence. The charter delivered along with the flags is now kept in the regimental pay chest. The flags of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions had the inscription "1700-1850", while the 4th Battalions had "For distinction in the Battle of Bar-sur-Aube 15 February 1814" around the edges and "1700-1850" under the eagle. The ribbons of the first three battalions were inscribed "1700 Ivanitskiis Regiment" but the 4ths had "1700 Ivan Anglers Regiment". The rings had the following inscriptions: first three battalions"1700 Ivanitskiis Regiment. 1708 - Moscow Infantry Regiment"; 4th Battalion"1700 Ivan Anglers Regiment, 1708 - Perm Infantry Regiment".
On 10 January of this year the honorary colonel, or chef, of the Moscow Regiment, General of Infantry Vasilii Ivanovich Timofeev, died, and after his burial the regiment remained without an honorary colonel.
After spending the summer of this year on Khodynsk Plain, on 22 October the regiment moved by battalions to Tver Province where it dispersed into winter quarters: the regimental headquarters and Major Mikhailovs 4th Battalion to the town of Kalyazin; Lieutenant Colonel Koshkarevs 1st Battalion to the village of Kosovaya Gora; Lieutenant Colonel Dmokhovskiis 2nd Battalion to the town of Kashin; and the 3rd Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Solovev to Taldyi and the surrounding villages.
On 7 July 1851 Colonel Kurtyanov with the four battalions arrived again in Moscow at the Khodynsk camp. Here the regiment spent (Missing pages.)
The regiments campaigns in 1853-54. The regiment at the Battle of the Alma.
In the beginning of 1853 our political affairs took a turn that led one to expect war. What had happened was that in 1852 in France Napoleon III was proclaimed emperor. He wanted to distract French attention from internal politics, and at the same time he was dissatisfied with our government for its unenthusiastic recognition of him as the French emperor. He had England on his side, a country always ready to do harm to Russia in order to weaken our influence in the east, and so Napoleon decided to provoke a war, beginning with intrigue in Turkey directed against Russia. At this time the Turkish government had for centuries controlled large areas with Christian populations and was constantly striving to weaken and oppress our Orthodox church, giving preference to the Catholics. Thus, it interfered in the internal affairs of Orthodox believers, preventing any increase in churches, forbidding the use of the vernacular in services, and so on. Also at this time, talks were being held between Russia and Turkey concerning confirmation of the formers right to use several churches in the holy places in Palestine and an agreement regarding the repair of the cupola of the Church of the Sacred Resurrection in Jerusalem. The governments of France and England intervened in this business and incited Turkey to the extent that it decisively rejected our governments demands. At the same time the Anglo-French fleet entered Besika Bay (at the entrance to the Dardanelles), which plainly showed that they were taking Turkeys side.
This situation forced Emperor Nicholas I in the spring of 1853 to put the 4th and 5th Corps on a war footing and move them into position to occupy the Danubian principalities "for such time as Turkey does not satisfy the just demands of Russia," as expressed in a manifesto of 26 June. At the same time, instructions were issued curtailing leave for lower ranks and officers, and soon after it was ordered to call up men on indefinite leave and use them to fill up the ranks of other units (i).
For the Moscow Regiment no special preparations were made for the time being and it remained peacefully in Moscow (ii). Only in July of 1853 were the first three battalions of the regiment ordered sent to St. Petersburg via the Nicholas Railroad to take up guard duties there. But this had yet another purpose: it could easily happen that the enemy fleet could appear before our capital, and thus it was necessary to gather defensive forces here that were additional to the usual St.-Petersburg garrison (iii).
On 22 June the regiment set off on the rails in two echelons; lunch and dinner were prepared beforehand at designated stations. The trip lasted three days in this manner. Finally on the 25th the Moscow boys¾ or Moscovtsy, as they were called (iv)¾ entered the capital and set up barracks quarters in the Mikhailovsk manège. Meanwhile, even when the regiment was still in Moscow, there were sudden deaths from cholera. Now these cases became even more common, so that in the course of May and June 137 men in the unit died from cholera.
The Moscovtsy did not stay in the capital long¾ only until 4 September. By this time it became clear that there was no great danger from the enemy on the Baltic Sea, so the regiment was sent through Moscow to Ryazan for winter quarters, having received a gracious gift from the tsar of a half-years additional pay for performing guard duties. The regiment traveled to Moscow again on the railroad, but the rest of the way to Ryazan was a normal route march, and they arrived in the middle of September. From there, on the very next day the battalions dispersed to their winter quarters: the 1st to Spassk, the 2nd to Mikhailov, and the 3rd to Zaraisk, with the companies occupying the villages surrounding these towns; the regimental headquarters with the 4th Battalion remained in Ryazan.
Meanwhile Russias political demands were not only not fulfilled, but thanks to French and English intrigues the Turkish government demanded that within two weeks the Russians must withdraw from the Danubian principalities occupied by their troops. But when the reply was made to Turkey that withdrawal would immediately follow the satisfaction of Russias demands, the Porte declared war on us. And following the first Turkish defeats in Wallachia and the Transcaucasus, which the Turks had moved into, France and England declared war on us. In view of the situation, preparations for war were increased¾ a war that for us would be all the more difficult since we had to deploy our forces along the entire border of our vast fatherland, not knowing from where the enemy would act.
Based on this situation, the 17th Division with its normally assigned regiments (1) was detached from the 6th Corps and assigned to the Separate Caucasus Corps. Then the Moscow Regiment received the order to move to Russias southeastern frontier. Preparations began. In the beginning of November lower ranks began to come in off annual and indefinite leave; horses were purchased; weapons were inspected and warm clothing was stockpiled; and the rifle command practiced target shooting with their Liège rifles. It must be noted that at this time only the 96 men in this command, called marksmen or zastrelshchiki, could boast of being well-armed soldiers (v); the rest of the men in the regiment were armed with muskets reworked from flintlocks to percussion, some of which had aiming sights while the others had none. These muskets fired very inaccurately, so the soldiers placed almost no trust in them.
According to Beitner, an officer in the Moscow Regiment and an eyewitness of that time, the unit was headed by "very short-sighted persons who without any sound thinking always submitted to the orders of higher commanders." There was no senior officer in the regiment familiar with tactics, strategy, or military history, and they never read anything except orders from the minister of war and the promotion columns of the Russkii Invalid gazette. In this respect the regimental commander, Kurtyanov, stood out even among the rest. At social gatherings, whenever he was asked about the possibility of western Europe declaring war on us, he always answered, "And do our enemies really forget 1812 at Poltava? No, there is no way they could forget!".... (vi) The regimental adjutant before the war was Sublieutenant Yakovlev, promoted to officer rank from the divisional clerks, where he had served for twelve years engaged only in making clean copies of correspondence. Being completely unfamiliar with military affairs either in theory or in practice, he carried out his responsibilities with difficulty and was lost at any new order.
Finally all preparations in the regiment were finished, and the Moscovtsy attended church services dedicated to travelers before setting off in two echelons on 4 and 5 December for the town of Stavropol in the Caucasus. In the first echelon went the 3rd and 4th Battalions under the commander of the 3rd, Colonel Solovev, and in the second were the regimental headquarters and the 1st and 2nd Battalions, under the regimental commander, Major General Kurtyanov. Anything that was not needed for a military campaign was left behind in Ryazan under the care of Staff-Captain Sudzilovskiis detachment of 5 non-commissioned officers, 16 privates, and 3 orderlies (2) .
Following its march route, the regiment went through Tambov, Voronezh, Novocherkassk, and Rostov. If cold winter weather was to overtake it, it would be ordered that while on the road lower ranks would be given increased rations, namely: for combatants ¾ 1/2 pound of meat each day with 8 1/2 cups of spirits each month; for non-combatants ¾ 5 meat portions each per week and 4 1/3 cups of spirits each month. Strictly speaking, stations along the march route were not far apart, from eight to twelve miles, but only the regimental headquarters and guard company stopped in them. The other companies were dispersed overnight to surrounding villages, often five or more miles away. But everywhere on the march the regiment was always happily welcomed. Usually the local landowners and officials invited all the officers to visit and not only provided them with every comfort, but also all possible foods and provisions for the journey. The peasants, in their turn, also happily fed the lower ranks and gave them drink, making a gift of the food for lunch and dinner which the soldiers were supposed pay them for.
Thus passed two and a half months until Rostov-on-Don was reached (some 600 miles). Here written orders were received to stop and wait for further instructionsand these instructions were not slow in coming. In the middle of March the Moscow regiment followed its new orders to move to the Black Sea cordon line and the town of Taman, having left Lieutenant Mukhanov in Rostov with some materiel that proved to be not needed on campaign. On 30 April the first echelon halted at the Bugaz quarantine station and on 2 May the second echelon stopped at Taman, both groups coming under the control of the commander of the southwestern force, the government ataman of the cossack host, General-of-Cavalry Khomutov. After resting in these places, at General-Adjutant (vii) Khomutovs direction the Moscovtsy were deployed along the Black Sea coast in the following locations: Major Grals 1st Battalion was ferried by boats across the Kerch Strait and installed as the Kerch town garrison, joining Major General Serebryakovs command and having the task of protecting the strait from being penetrated by the Anglo-French fleet; Major Graf von Zeos 2nd Battalion was at the Novogrigorevsk post (southwest of Yekaterinodar), joined to Colonel Krzhizhanovskiis force keeping the peace among the mountain tribesmen; the 3rd Battalion under Colonel Solovev was at the Nikolaevsk settlement near the Anapa fortress, in Major General Wagners command assigned to protect this fortress from the mountaineers as well as from the allied forces; and finally Major Gusevs 4th Battalion was left in Taman with the regimental headquarters.
During the course of a whole month in which the battalions were at the above locations, though, there were no movements on the part of the enemy nor of the mountaineers, so the regiment received new orders: the 2nd Battalion was to move to the town of Kerch, while the 3rd and 4th Battalions were to return to Taman. Everyone was to settle into camps, and this was done by the end of May.
Before the 1st Battalion left Kerch to enter into camp near the village of Argin, the townspeople gave an icon to the battalions lower ranks during farewell church services. This icon was in a silver mounting and showed the Mother of God in "Gathering the Dead". It is now held by the regiments 4th Company and has an inscription on the left side: "The ornamentation on this frame is through the contributions of the field and company-grade officers and lower ranks of the whole battalion, and of honored citizen Chalikov". The right side has: "On the departure from Kerch of the 1st Battalion of the Moscow Infantry Regiment, under battalion commander Major Gral, and its going into camp, the battalion was blessed by the townspeople by the gift of Gathering of the Dead by the Mother of God, 23rd day of April, 1854."
Soon the 3rd and 4th Battalions were also sent across the Kerch Strait by boat and encamped near Argin. From there Major Gusevs 4th Battalion was detached to the Arabat fortress to repair its fortifications, and the 3rd under Colonel Solovev was moved to the village of Parnach.
During this time English and French steamships had been appearing more and more often within view of Sevastopol. They were examining the coast of the Crimean peninsula and made soundings which told them the depth of the sea in various places. Undoubtedly, the enemy was making preparations to land in the Crimea, although definite information in this regard was lacking. Finally on 13 September, 1854, the allied fleet of 389 ships carrying 63,000 soldiers from France, England, and Turkey went past Sevastopol and the next day approached the town of Yevpatoria where it began a disembarkation onto shore.
At this time we had a total of 51,000 troops in the Crimea, divided into two groups: one, 38,000 strong, was under the command of Prince Menshikov and deployed in the southwestern quarter of the Crimea; the other under General Khomutov was in the southeastern part of the peninsula. Now, in view of the enemy landing, the forces were ordered to gather together from wherever they were to the left bank of the Alma River. So it was that on 16 September all elements of the Moscow Regiment also received the order from the commander of the southeast force to go by forced march to the village of Burlyuk to join the main Russian group concentrated on the Alma. Immediately all battalions made ready to march, but logistics, especially the collecting of carts from the local population¾ without which a forced march of 100 to 130 miles was unthinkable¾ delayed the Moscovtsy until the following day. Thus it was only on the 17th that the individual battalions set off on the road.
The route went through a steppe covered with grass, thick but not high; in the air one smelled the bitter aroma of wormwood and other herbs and grasses. The large number of carts in each echelon stretched out a great distance and put out a cloud of dust behind them. These carts were long native arbas, pulled by pairs of buffaloes, camels, or oxen and supported by unusually high wheels which made rather loud and sharp creaking sounds when in motion. The days were very hot as always, but the arbas were entirely unsuitable for traveling in; being high but exceedingly narrow, they could not hold many persons. So the soldiers were ordered to ride standing up, with each cart holding from 12 to 15 men with their muskets and backpacks. One can imagine that such a journey was very tiring. Legs and bodies began to ache very soon and there was no choice but to slip down from the arba and follow along on foot. Officers in part also rode on the arbas filled to the top with regimental baggage, and in part rode on horseback. The march was completed without stopping, if one discounts the halts for midday meals; about 50 miles were covered every 24 hours.
Finally on the evening of the 19th the 4th Battalion was the first to reach the Alma positions, where it was directed to the left flank at the very end of the Russian line, on the upland between the roads coming from the villages of Alma-Tamak and Burlyuk, to the left of the Borodino Regiment which was already there. Late at night the 3rd Battalion also arrived at this position. From here the enemy camp could be seen as if in the palm of the hand, ranged along the opposite bank of the river, about three or four miles distant and appearing now as a mass of flickering campfires.
The night was raw and cold, but being exhausted by the difficult march, the soldiers gave it little heed and wrapped themselves all the more tightly in their greatcoats to quickly lie down and sleep until the following day. In fact, soon the entire bivouac was in deep sleep which, however, did not last long. Hardly had daybreak begun in the east when a cannon shot was heard from the sea. In the fresh morning air it resounded among the hills and valleys. In an instant the entire Russian camp was on its feet, thinking that the enemy was making a night assault.... But then the melodic sounds of bugles playing morning reveille in the enemy camp soon convinced everyone that the cannon had fired the morning wake-up shot. Drumrolls were also heard in our bivouacs, playing the "general march", and then the band of some regiment played the hymn "When Praised" ["Kol slaven"]. In various places priests with crosses soon appeared among the soldiers to perform prayer services, since 20 September was a holy day. Afterwards the priests blessed everyone with holy water and encouraged the men to courage and bravery. For the Moscovtsy this was a sure sign that today would not be something in the ordinary.
At this time, the morning of 20 September, the 1st and 2nd Battalions along with the regimental commander and the brigade general, Gribbe, were still winding their way toward their assigned position. It was already complete light when they approached the village of Tarkhanlyar. Coming into a level upland about 3 1/2 miles in front of this village, they saw on the right the enemy army in full movement, with mounted patrols already no further than two miles from the road along which the battalions were going. And in front, at some farther distance, bodies of troops could be seen.
Not knowing for sure whether they were theirs or ours and at the same time seeing the close danger from the enemy on the right, General Kurtyanov ordered the 2nd Grenadier Company of Staff-Captain Zorkin to be sent out in a skirmish line, this company being the only one in the march echelon which had its muskets loaded. Covered by this line deployed parallel to the road, the battalions moved forward, supposing that the masses of troops ahead were Prince Menshikovs forces. But how much was their surprise when the head of the 1st Battalion suddenly came face to face with an enemy cavalry patrol already only a short distance away! It became clear that the troops in front and toward which the Moscovtsy were moving were the enemy who, as is known, moved their left flank far out in front on the day of the Alma battle, beginning their advance with that part of their army. Our front company stopped, not knowing where to go further, and behind it everyone else did likewise. At this point General Kurtyanov, who the whole time had been riding behind the echelon in a carriage with the brigade commander, saw his column surrounded in front and on the right by the enemy and on the left by the Alma River, and he drove out in front and at a hard trot headed toward the Tarkhanlyar village. The soldiers were alarmed by this situation and holding their muskets at port arms they ran at double time after their commanders carriage. Fortunately, at the entrance to the village they were met by the 3rd Battalions adjutant, Sublieutenant Demmert, who had been sent to show them where to ford the river. His announcement that the Russian position was nearby, just over the hill, finally calmed the men and they went on at a walk. Having crossed the Alma and reached a path to our armys position, the soldiers were fully cheered up: they formed up in an orderly fashion and with the band, chorus, and dancers in front, the companies marched past the regiments standing here with such a grand effect that these could not help but be heartened by the cheerfulness. It was difficult to believe that these men had completed a 130-mile march in less than 72 hours. Moving in this way to the left flank of the Alma position, at about 9 oclock the 1st and 2nd Battalions halted between their own 4th Battalion and the Borodino Regiment.
Immediately the soldiers set to brushing the dust off themselves and, opening their packs, they started changing into clean undergarments, which according to old custom was always done before a battle. Due to the closeness of the enemy that day, it was forbidden to prepare hot food and as far as eating went the Moscovtsy were perforce limited only to dry rusk (viii). However, they were not allowed to enjoy even this unenviable repast for long, as hardly had they finished changing clothes when it was ordered to take cartridges out of the wooden blocks in the cartridge pouches and load muskets. At the same time General Kurtyanov received orders from the commander-in-chief to advance the battalions forward and position them in front of the Tarutino Regiment in the front line of battle, having first combined all the riflemen of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions and sent them across the river over the Burlyuk bridge to the Alma-Tamak vineyards under the command of one officer.
When he learned of this order of Prince Menshikov, the commander of the 17th Infantry Division, Lieutenant General Kiryakov (now commanding the whole left flank of the Alma position), went to him and reported that the Moscow Regiment was still not rested from their three-day forced march and in this case could they not be replaced by another regiment. To this the commander-in-chief replied, "For them this is nothing," undoubtedly referring to the very high morale of the soldiers when they marched into position and which visibly pleased the stern prince. So with much dissatisfaction Kiryakov then rode up to the regiment and had it take up its muskets. He loudly proclaimed to the troops that he was doing this not of his own choice, but at the commander-in-chiefs order.
After this Prince Menshikov himself rode up to the regiment. He summoned the battalion commanders forward to himself and personally explained to each where and how to position their unit. Thus, the riflemen who were called out from the battalions, under Lieutenant Kultashev, were sent into the Alma-Tamak vineyards in accordance with their earlier instructions. Colonel Solovev with his 3rd Battalion was ordered to cross the Alma River behind the riflemen, using the Burlyuk bridge and passing the Tatar village of Burlyuk itself over part of an open space up to where the stream turned to the southwest. Here they were to spread out in a line and occupy a newly planted vineyard and part of the Alma-Tamak gardens, to the right of the riflemen. The 1st Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Gral was ordered by Menshikov to descend to the river by a gully and in its widest part form into an "attack column", it being foreseen that to its right would be the two reserve battalions from the Bialystok Regiment. Graf von Zeos 2nd Battalion was ordered to stand on the widest and most visible terrace over the river, to the left of the 1st Battalion, where it was to form into company columns with the Brest Regiments two reserve battalions to its left. Additionally, Prince Menshikov charged the battalion commander to always keep in mind the stone wall located in front and not allow the enemy to shelter behind it, and if necessary drive him out of there with the bayonet. (This wall was on this side of the stream and surrounded a small grove of tall trees.) Finally, the 4th Battalion under Major Gusev was ordered to stay in reserve to the right of an unfinished signal tower (3).
In this way the Moscow Regiment had to come right off the march to occupy the left flank of the Alma position. With the reserve battalions of the Brest and Bialystok regiments, plus a Minsk battalion at the village of Aklez and with the Tarutino Regiment in reserve, the Moscovtsy were to protect this flank of our position from the enemy. However, the commander-in-chief and other high-ranking officers were of the conviction that this flank was completely safe due to the difficult terrain and the impossibility of climbing the steep bank of the Alma. Truly, the left bank of the Alma from its mouth to Alma-Tamak was a line of steep cliffs as much as 100 feet high and almost impossible for infantry to ascend. Further upstream from this village the heights began to drop back a little from the river channel, and at Burlyuk they were over a half mile away. The seacoast itself was high and sheer and only the Lukul ravine sloped down to the seashore at the village of Aklez, making it the one place where the enemy might threaten a landing. Two roads ran through the left flank of our position: one from the village of Alma-Tamak to Gadzhi-Bulat, and another from Burlyuk to Sevastopol. Besides these there were several pathways which led steeply down to the river, one of which went along the bottom of a steep and narrow gully right to the mouth of the Alma. It was hardly suitable to ascend on, but nevertheless it did present that possibility. The Alma stream itself, flowing in front of the position, could be forded in many places.
In accordance with the commander-in-chiefs directions the battalions immediately separated and occupied their places. Everything was quiet until 11 oclock, as the large enemy columns in front and to the left of the 3rd Battalion stood out of firing range and did not approach any closer. Regardless of that, a signal was suddenly given for us to "open fire". From the vineyards, desultorily at first and then faster and faster, shots rang out, but soon the signal "cease fire" was given, repeated several times. This reintroduced some quiet, as it had been shown that our round bullets fell far short of the enemy positions. At the same time, though, this demonstrated to the enemy that they could move much closer to our position without any hindrance. Right after our signal, the heads of the enemy columns fanned out into a line which now in its turn opened a rather accurate fire on the 3rd Battalions marksmen. Simultaneously the whole enemy line of battle began its advance, and their skirmish line in front of the Moscovtsy was reinforced as new units were sent forward.
With the huge number of enemy troops in the mass of advancing French columns, the situation of the 3rd Battalion became critical, and all the more so since there was a stream in their rear that in any case would be no minor obstacle during a retreat. To top this all off, from beyond a bend in the Alma a substantial number of troops in red coats (Englishmen) suddenly threw themselves on the extreme right-flank company under Staff-Captain Ollov. This officer noticed the movement in time and shifted his men to the left and back and opened up a brisk fire on the English, but in this new position his company found itself under heavy fire from French riflemen who were heading straight toward it. At this point Ollov ordered his company to retreat to the river and into the water to quickly make its way across to the opposite bank. The other companies of the 3rd Battalion followed his example. Under a hail of bullets from the enemy who was coming closer and closer, they finally got across the river thanks only to Lieutenant Kultashevs riflemen who with their well-aimed flanking fire halted the French advance for a time. After coming out of the river, Solovevs companies went behind the 2nd Battalion to put themselves in order and check their cartridges, and then they occupied the space to the left of the 2nd, the only part of the whole position covered with bushes and shrubs.
Now the troops remaining closest to the enemy were Lieutenant Kultashevs 72 riflemen. Earlier, on seeing the French at first advancing on the left, he had begun to fire on them as much as his ammunition and small number of marksmen allowed. But while Bosquets French division paid no heed to his fire and began to cross over to the Almas left bank, he then saw another French column coming straight towards the 3rd Battalion. His riflemen opened such an intense fire on this force that these French troops, following the Moscovtsy, were forced to stop and thus give the 3rd Battalions companies their chance to get across the river. But as the French took hold of themselves again, an overwhelming number threw themselves on the riflemen with their musket butts held high. Kultashev quickly withdrew his men across the river towards the Brest battalions, not losing a single one and gathering his entire command together as they forded across. Here, however, they were hit by enemy canister fire and 13 men immediately became casualties. At once Kultashev again deployed his remaining marksmen in front of the Brest soldiers to fend off the enemy with rifle fire. But his success could not be maintained indefinitely, and in addition the Brest Regiments reserve battalions saw that their flintlocks, which could only fire 250 paces, could not stop the enemy and that they were in the meantime incurring heavy losses from fire from the sea and land. They thought it necessary to retreat and moved to the southeast, leaving the Moscovtsy alone in protecting this part of the Russian position.
While this bloody drama was being played out, General Bosquets French division was at the extreme end of our left flank, which was over a mile from the sea without any protection, if one does not count the battalion of the Minsk Regiment which was at Aklez to observe the Lukul promontory. As early as half past twelve Bosquet crossed a ford in the steam and began to ascend a ravine to the heights on which was our position. At the same time the enemy fleet, which had moved down the coast along with the troops, was at the mouth of the Alma and started a murderous fire of shells and bombs on the Brest soldiers and Moscovtsy. Under this cover, the vanguard battalion of the 3rd Zouave Regiment was the first to cross the river. It deployed into line and scaled the heights to open up, in its turn, rifle fire on the Brest battalions. DAutemarres brigade crossed the Alma after the zouave battalion and also climbed the heights where it immediately formed up across the road leading to Gadzhi-Bulat. Behind it followed the rest of the French forces without hindrance. When the French appeared from the left flank in this manner and opened fire, our 4th Battalion was still standing in its place, having only turned its front toward the sea. But at this point Colonel Kondratevs battery, which had been in reserve together with the Moscovtsy, sped towards the direction of the cannon shots. Prince Menshikov was on the 4th Battalions left flank this whole time, and at the third salvo from the batteries of the French division which had come around our left he commanded, "Second half-battalion, half-turn left, and first¾ half-turn right! Ready, march!" On this command the battalion spread out and at a quick step passed through the hollows occupied by the Tarutino soldiers. Then General Kurtyanov again commanded, "Half-turn right!", and the battalion headed toward the right flank of Kondratevs battery, which had already taken up a forward position and even managed to open fire. By this time the Minsk 2nd Battalion at Aklez had quit its position and retreated to the village of Ortakesek, fearing it would otherwise be cut off by the enemy. But when it saw the Moscovtsy now coming to help, it halted at the village and started firing. Coming up to a saddle in the hills, the 4th Battalions company commanders turned their units to face the sea, and soon enemy bullets and round shot were flying over their heads. The columns halted, not knowing where to go further.
Only two companies¾ the 4th Grenadier and the 10th¾ bending their heads in the wind that blew towards them from the sea, ran to the right of the battery to a small knoll and lay down here, being in this way completely covered from enemy projectiles. This knoll or hill formed the outermost corner of the Russian positions left flank and was about 200 paces from the steep bank rising from the river, and not more than 600 or 700 paces from the village of Alma-Tamak. The French who were at this time coming onto the heights formed up at the run on their crest and passed their cannons through to the front one after another, siting them opposite our battery, and at once opened fire. Since for those lying behind the hill nothing could be seen of what the enemy was doing, two officers¾ Lieutenant Beitner and Sublieutenant Perov¾ climbed the top of the knoll and relayed what they could see to their comrades lying below. What struck their eyes first of all was a cluster of horsemen in front of the lines of enemy troops forming up. One man of this group was on a white horse and was clearly in command and giving orders, from which the officers concluded that he was one of their most important leaders. They announced this down below and Sublieutenant Perov called up a soldier named Baranov, an excellent marksman from the 10th Company, and ordered him to shoot the rider on the white horse. Baranov took aim, fired¾ and the white horse had bolted across the field, tossing its tail and mane and dragging its dead rider by the stirrup. Beitner and Perov, who saw this happen, cried out to the marksman, "Well done, Baranov! Thank you!" Behind the hill the voices of soldiers and officers joined in this "Thank you!" and in an instant everyone was cheerful and heartened. After this incident the whole front of enemy troops dissolved into skirmishers, not having completed whatever formation it had been arranging itself into. Other enemy units came out of the ravine and occupied folds in the ground. In the meantime the French batteries directed their guns against this hill, and after one shot Sublieutenant Perov fell dead with his arm torn off. When Beitner announced this to his comrades below, the whole column, lying down in six ranks, rose to its knees and made the sign of the cross.
Not much time had passed since the 4th Battalions companies had laid themselves down in their newly chosen positions under a hail of enemy bullets and shot. They themselves could not fire since their shots had no effect and did not reach their targets. Fortunately the French were still not moving forward but rather waiting for the rest of their force to cross the Alma, and they resolutely stood in place. Now three more battalions of Minsk soldiers came up to the 2nd Battalion of that regiment from behind and to the left. They stood in fighting order on line with the Moscovtsy. Then the commander-in-chief ordered General Kurtyanov to lead the companies into the attack, so this regimental commander had his 11th and 12th Companies stand up and took them forward. Meanwhile the Minsk Regiment did not move from its place, having not received any order to do so. Naturally, all the firing from the French riflemen and batteries now came down on these two unfortunate companies which were absolutely smothered with all kinds of projectiles. Being still in a dense column formation, they could not keep moving long and again lay down on the ground after losing a large number of dead and wounded. General Kurtyanov nevertheless wanted to carry out the will of Prince Menshikov and sent his orderly to the commander of the Minsk Regiment, inviting him and his battalions to join in assaulting the enemy with the bayonet. But this officer answered that there were no enemy columns in front of him so going forward with the bayonet was not necessary and that such an honor belonged solely to the Moscow Regiment. Taking that answer into consideration, the commander of the Moscow Regiment saw the complete uselessness and even impossibility of going into the attack with two companies against two whole French divisions. He decided not to move from place, seeing that the companies were now occupying an elevated area that gave the men some cover from the French bullets, shot, and shells which passed over their heads in almost solid waves without causing much harm.
But soon the commander-in-chief again ordered the Moscovtsy to go over to the attack. General Kurtyanov relayed to the princes messenger the answer the Minsk Regiments commander had given and did not budge. Thus about half and hour went by, as Kondratevs battery gave a strong response to the increased firing of the enemy, who had still not begun to move forward. The Moscovtsy, though, could not reply using their poor muskets and lay silent, pressed flat against the ground. This inactivity, combined with casualties, caused Lieutenant Prince Trubetskii to turn to the regimental commander with a request that he be allowed to call marksmen forward and move up to a distance from where they could successfully use our smoothbores against the African tirailleurs who made up the enemys firing line. On receiving the regimental commanders assent, Prince Trubetskiis marksmen crawled forward. Unfortunately, the ground in front was completely flat with nothing to hide behind, and our sharpshooters were struck hard by the enemy. Finally, having run out of patience with their slow and unpleasant advance, they stopped and opened fire before having reached the point suitable for the range of their weapons. Their round musket balls ricocheted off the hard, sun-dried ground, raising dust and knocking over dry blades of grass before disappearing, falling far short of the enemy. The French saw this and began to stir, pressing forward. Kondratevs battery now increased its fire and tried to keep back their forward rushes....
After a time the bombardment from the steamships suddenly ceased and the whole enemy line went over to the final advance. Bosquets division turned to face south and along with its covering skirmish line moved to come around our left flank. Its place was quickly taken by Canroberts division, several of whose battalions approached to a rather close distance and showered our battery with bullets, cutting down almost all the men serving the guns. The battery commander asked General Kurtyanov to send him a platoon of soldiers which he could distribute among the guns, but the regimental commander refused his request. The battery then picked itself up and moved back without waiting to be replaced by another.
The Alma positions left flank had no trenches or defenses prepared from which it would have been possible to shoot at the enemy. The columns lay in completely open areas and were absolutely showered with waves of conical bullets. Also at this time fresh and spirited enemy forces were approaching from Alma-Tamak, plainly intending to cut off the 4th Battalion of the Moscovtsy and the Minsk Regiment from the rest of the army on the right. It was judged impossible to hold on to this position any longer and, willingly or not, half-battalion columns began to fall back in the direction of the unfinished signal tower and towards Kondratevs battery, which already occupied a new location behind the one it had abandoned.. The French kept at them with heavy volleys from two sides¾ the rear and the left¾ but fortunately did not inflict very many casualties. The Minsk Regiment also retreated. The enemy now hurried to occupy our former positions, and near the hill recently made familiar to the 4th Grenadier and 10th Companies they placed four guns from which they conducted a heavy fire on the retreating soldiers.
Let us return to the first three battalions. When Lieutenant Kultashevs riflemen abandoned the Almas right bank, the French moved right up to the river itself but without crossing began showering the Moscovtsy with intense cannon and musket fire. In their own turn the marksmen of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions who had been spread out in front were completely unable to inflict any sort of similar damage to the enemy because their shots could not cover the distance separating the two sides. And as for artillery¾ here we had almost none. Hoping to at least delay the foe if they crossed the stream, the battalion commanders ordered the lines to press as far forward as necessary to achieve the range at which their fire would have effect. The line moved, but the enemy fire was so heavy and accurate that most of the men were cut down within a few steps. The rest were forced to stop and lie down on the ground.
The enemy then turned most of its firing onto Lieutenant Colonel Grals battalion which was standing in "column of attack" and presented a rather large target. Noticing this, the company commanders asked Gral to deploy the battalion by companies so as to suffer less from enemy fire, but the battalion commander answered that the commander-in-chief himself had ordered the 1st Battalion to be in such a formation and he was unable to change his orders. Nevertheless, Gral pondered on how to find cover from the effects of the rifled muskets in front and the diagonal fire of Prince Napoleons batteries. He began to shift the battalion from place to place, but unfortunately all around was open space and there was nothing to hide behind. As a result of all this, the men of this battalion, who were hungry and spent after having just finished their forced march, were completely exhausted and a great many collapsed from fatigue. The others saw these poor fellows and, fearing that the same would happen to them, began to drop their packs off their shoulders to relieve themselves a little. "And like this, i.e. without backpacks, leaning on their useless muskets, they accepted their deaths like Napoleon Is grenadiers at the Battle of Waterloo," says Beitner, who took part in the battle.
Meanwhile the French in front of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions took advantage of a small garden surrounded by a stone wall which admirably covered their movements. They started to move across the river and a small number positioned themselves in the garden to begin firing on the Moscovtsy. Obeying the wish of the commander-in-chief, Graf von Zeo led the 2nd and 3rd Battalions into the attack here. The French at once evacuated the garden without allowing us to engage them with the bayonet, but as soon as the battalions returned to their terrace the enemy again took possession of the garden and wall in even greater numbers. Graf von Zeo at once ordered an attack on them, but the French showered our battalions with such a hail of bullets and such a mass of artillery rounds that they could not move forward. After this the battalion commanders once again tried to rally the men and lead an attack, but by now this was in vain. The large numbers of casualties, the roar of the guns, the unceasing whine and hum of bullets with which the enemy was absolutely dousing the Moscovtsy, the groans and cries of the wounded, the smoke from gunpowder which burned the eyes¾ all these again forced the battalions to halt and then, seeing the impossibility of remaining here, move all the way back and yield their ground to the great numbers of enemy troops. All the more so since the Tarutino Regiment lying in reserve gave no help during this whole time. On seeing the retreat of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, the 1st also began to fall back, and soon all the battalions were climbing the heights, leaving only Kultashev down below with a handful of riflemen to hold back the enemy, who now began to advance along his whole line and gradually attain the heights.
During the retreat, when the Minsk Regiment and the 4th Battalion moved toward the first three battalions, Lieutenant General Kiryakov ordered the regiments to halt and fire on the heads of the enemy columns. With the nearness of these, the Moscovtsy and Minsk soldiers opened such an effective fire that the French had to slow down their movement. Noting this, General Kiryakov ordered the regiments to close ranks and he personally (ix) led them into an attack on Canroberts division. Two companies of the Moscow 2nd Battalion¾ Staff-Captain Yelagins 5th Musketeers and Staff-Captain Zorkins 2nd Grenadiers¾ threw themselves on four enemy guns, and the other companies onto the infantry. Two guns were captured at once, with Yelagin falling between them, shot through by two bullets. Zorkin was also wounded by two bullets, but less seriously. The hail of bullets falling on the attackers did not slow them down, and the French at last broke and began to descend back down the sloping bank. But our troops could not stop here; Bosquets division was coming further and further around the flank, and a fresh brigade under DAurelle was coming up behind Canroberts troops as well. Also, Bosquet had Prince Napoleons artillery let loose such a murderous fire that our battalions were absolutely strewn with case shot. In the face of all this Kiryakov ordered the regiments to fall back to the unfinished signal tower, and the captured guns, unable to be carried away, were abandoned. The French rallied and pursued the retreating soldiers with heavy fire, and bashi-buzouks suddenly appeared in the rear of the 2nd Battalion. Graf von Zeo formed a square, beat off their charge, and then continued the general retreat with the others. While falling back the soldiers helped drag their own artillery guns, which were left with almost no horses and only a fraction of their crews.
When the battalions came up to the unfinished signal tower, Colonel Solovev halted his companies so as to take advantage of this suitable position and again resist the enemy who was turning to the advance. But when he saw that no one else was stopping, he also ordered his companies to retreat further. The Tarutino soldiers who had been in reserve also withdrew. The commander-in-chief was here and saw this general retreat of his whole left flank at a time when on the entire length of the rest of his position the Russians were firmly holding on, and he turned to the division commander, "General Kiryakov, the 17th Division is running from the enemy. What is the meaning of this?"
"Our weapons are such that only rifles could make this an equal fight, and those we dont have!" answered Kiryakov.
A little later Menshikov said, "General Kiryakov! I say to you again, the 17th Division is running from the enemy!"
"Your Excellency does not speak the truth," answered Kiryakov. "The 17th Division is retreating but not running, and I will show this to you this very moment."
With these last words the division commander spurred his horse over to one of the retreating battalions of the Moscow Regiment and commanded, "2nd Battalion, halt! To the left¾ march!"
The battalion came to a stop under the round shot from several batteries and the rifle bullets of the strong enemy line and turned to face the foe. Then Kiryakov commanded, "Shoulder¾ arms! Present¾ arms!" Without any confusion the men stood at present arms. Kiryakov told them "Thank you" for that and they answered: "Happy to try, Your Excellency!" He then rode off after telling Graf von Zeo to command "Slope arms" and continue the withdrawal. The French were so struck by this Moscow battalions little performance that for a time they stopped and ceased firing and following any further.
Nevertheless, when the Moscovtsy left Telegraph Hill the French immediately hoisted their flag on it right in front of our eyes, but in view of the appearance from our left flank of two double-squadrons of hussars they decided not to pursue any further.
The Moscovtsy headed towards the Kacha River and since they did not receive any further orders, they did not stop again and completed their withdrawal in perfect order. Soon they crossed this stream and passed by their baggage train, which during the battle had been at the station yard beyond the stream. They climbed to the top of a height and in the bushes were stopped for a rest, by which time it had already gotten completely dark. After the Alma battle all the rest of the Russian army also withdrew to this place (x).
The losses incurred by the Moscow Regiment on this day were indeed heavy. Killed: Staff-Captains Tokash, Ollov, and Yelagin; Sublieutenant Perov; Ensigns Dobrovolskii, Popov, Kuzmin, and Radovitskii; and Officer Candidate Yablonskii. Taken prisoner: Captain Savarskii. Wounded: regimental commander Major General Kurtyanov, Major Gusev, Captains Zavarzin and Fedorov, Staff-Captains Zorkin and Semenov, Lieutenants Kopytin and Kultashev; Sublieutenants Romanenko, Goloshchanpov, Mikhailovskii, Yevstigneev, Mikhailov; Ensigns Tyutchev 1st, Bykov 2nd, Benediktov, Tyutchev 2nd, Rokityanskii (contusion); and Officer Candidate Rimskii-Korsakov. Lower ranks killed: 22 non-commissioned officers, 6 musicians, and 384 privates. Missing: 3 non-commissioned officers, 1 musician, 121 privates, and 4 non-combatant ranks. Wounded: 484. Additionally, in this battle the regiments soldiers lost almost all their backpacks and all their personal items and individual military gear, and 803 muskets and 24 rifles.
All the wounded who could only move with difficulty by leaning on a musket or crawling were drawn out behind the retreating regiments where they endured terrible suffering or died from pain and shock. Their corpses were strewn along the whole way from the Alma to the Kacha River. No one thought of helping them; the medical service at that time was in the worst state, as there was a great shortage of bandages and lint and the soldiers tore their own shirts to make binding strips. The wounded were even forced to bind their own wounds since there were few doctors and field medics and they were unable to help everyone. Those wounded who were left on the Alma were either taken prisoner by the enemy or finished off. (xi)
The movements of the regiment until it joined the Sevastopol garrison.
The regiment in Sevastopol during the siege.
After resting for a rather short time on the other side of the Kacha River, the Moscow Regiment under the command of Colonel Pavel Semenovich Solovev, since the wounded General Kurtyanov had gone to Simferopol, continued the retreat along with the rest of the army. The darkness was pitch black, and at every step the soldiers stumbled over roots and were caught by bushes until they finally got out onto the main road which they followed to the south. By noon of the next day our troops had reached the Belbek River, and they crossed it over a stone bridge and enjoyed a halt for two hours on its left bank. Then they went down the valley of the Chernaya Stream, crossed the river on the Inkerman corduroy road, climbed Sapun Hill, and by evening were approaching Sevastopol, in sight of which they laid out their bivouac on the Kulikovoe field, between the Quarantine and Sarandinakinaya ravines. The regimental train under Ensign Smirnov had followed the regiment and now went into the town of Sevastopol, where it stayed until 19 September.
Meanwhile our scouts made known that the enemy was following our trail, so the commander-in-chief told Lieutenant General Kiryakov to take the Moscow, Borodino, and Tarutino regiments with 20 guns and 5 sotnias of cossacks and return to the Belbek River.
The column crossed the Chernaya Stream and ascended the Belbek heights near MacKenzies farm, and at 4 oclock in the afternoon of 11 September the men saw English troops on the opposite bank. General Kiryakov, who had now received a report from our mounted patrols that the road to Duvankioi village was occupied by the English, then ordered one battalion of the Tarutino Regiment to take four guns of the 16th Artillery Brigade and remain on the Inkerman slope, while he himself deployed the rest of his force on the top of Sapun Hill, where he stayed until the afternoon of 12 September. On that date he received new orders from the commander-in-chief: at 4 oclock in the evening he was to take his force and follow General Zhabokritskiis vanguard which was heading for MacKenzies farm. That night Kiryakovs column lost the road and after blundering about for some time, they intersected the main force, which significantly delayed the latters progress. However, Kiryakov wanted to win back lost time and he had his column ford the Chernaya Stream between the Inkerman and Traktir bridges, and when he reached MacKenzies farm he had it stop to rest. At dawn on 13 September the column went to the village of Otar-Kioi, where after stopping for an additional half-hour rest, it was determined that through a misunderstanding Zhabokritskiis vanguard was in fact making its way to the town of Bakchisarai. This force went and crossed the Kacha River and positioned itself on the heights on the right bank. When the commander-in-chief found out about this, he sent an order to General Kiryakov to return with his column back to Otar-Kioi to join the main forces positioned there. Thus, the Moscow Regiment with Kiryakovs column covered some 50 miles during the 11th, the entire night of the 12th to 13th, and the whole day of the 13th.
On the following day the main forces, in which the Moscow Regiment was now included, were withdrawn to the Kacha River in the vicinity of Bakchisarai, where they remained until 16 September while waiting for a supply train from Simferopol.
During this whole time the allied army followed our tracks, and from the 13th to 14th it even bivouacked at MacKenzies farm, but on the morning of the 14th it crossed the Chernaya Stream and deployed on the Fedyukhin Heights. By the 17th our own army had moved to the north side of Sevastopol onto the heights between the town and Belbek. On the next day it shifted to the Belbek heights, and on 19 September the Moscow Regiment along with the Borodino and three battalions of the Tarutino became part of the fortress garrison of Sevastopol, commanded by Lieutenant General Moller with Admiral Kornilov as chief of staff. On this same date the regimental baggage train under Ensign Smirnov crossed from Sevastopol to the north side and joined the general wagon train encampment on the Belbek. Meanwhile our foe had already begun the formal siege of Sevastopol from the south side, which left us with communications with Russia.
On 20 September garrison positions were assigned: the 1st Battalion of the Moscow Regiment was to be on the Korabelnaya side in the 3rd Sectors reserve, housed in wooden huts; the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Battalions were also in reserve on the Korabelnaya side, but in navy barracks along with the 4th Landing and 44th Naval battalions and No. 5 Light Battery of the 17th Artillery Brigade. The 1st Battalion was thus under the command of Rear-Admiral Panfilov while the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th were under Rear-Admiral Istomin. On this day Prince Menshikov inspected the defensive lines and ordered that on 21 September an artillery bombardment from all our guns would be directed onto the surrounding heights with the intent of preventing the enemy from establishing their batteries.
Kornilov desired to mislead the enemy regarding the strength of the garrison, so on 23 September he ordered a practice drill in repulsing an assault on the Malakhov Kurgan. The garrisons entire reserve took part in these maneuvers, including the Moscow Regiment.
Everyday Kornilov with his staff rode round the defensive lines, personally observing the progress of the defensive works, correctness in carrying out outpost duties, and the proper placing of troop units. He came out at even the smallest alarm or nighttime exchange of small-arms fire. During his visits he always talked with the soldiers and tried to energize them and instill in them the necessity of resisting to the utmost. Once he turned to the Moscow Regiment and said, "Moscovtsy! You are here on the edge of Russia; you are defending a precious corner of the Russian empire. The tsar and all Russia is watching you. And if you as much as do not completely fulfill you duty, then Moscow will not recognize you as Moscovtsy!" These words left a deep impression on the hearts of the listeners.
At daybreak on 25 September, on orders from Prince Menshikov, General Kiryakov took the Moscow, Butyrskii, and Borodino regiments with the 38th Naval and 4th Landing battalions and Nos. 4 and 5 batteries of the 17th Artillery Brigade and moved forward past the Malakhov Kurgan to take up a position here that would support our cavalry reconnaissance to Sapun Hill, which had the goal of observing enemy movements. After staying here without firing a shot until the reconnaissance was finished, the regiments returned to their places. Before evening on the same day volunteers were requested for a night sortie. A great many came forward, but of these 20 riflemen were chosen and sent to the 5th Bastion. Here were already gathered volunteers from other units. They all formed one command under navy Lieutenant Gusakov. Taking advantage of the darkness, at 11 oclock on the night of 26 September the command left the fortifications and headed towards the Rudolph farm where it was known that the French had placed sharpshooters. But it turned out that several enemy battalions were standing near this farm, and for this reason the volunteers at once began to withdraw, even though shots were being exchanged. Unhappily, because of the darkness they were perceived at the 5th Bastion as the enemy and fired on with canister. Thus the volunteers were suddenly between two sides firing at them and barely made it to their own fortifications. Of the Moscovtsy there were three wounded, who were immediately sent to hospital.
During the first days of the siege everyone was convinced that the allies would storm Sevastopol. Finally on 28 September the news was spread that the enemy was beginning siege works. The garrisons morale at once went up in the expectation that while they were building their batteries, we would gain several days during which the defenses could be strengthened and various fresh units could arrive to help us. At once the garrison set to improving earthworks along the whole defensive line, and trenches were laid out one after the other. At the same time our side kept up a constant heavy fire on the enemy batteries and all points suitable for their emplacement. However, the enemy did not stop his work, and after each night the Russians saw several newly erected fortifications. The English, lying opposite where the Moscow Regiment was stationed, were especially successful in their work.
On 1 October the garrisons forces were repositioned, according to which the Moscow Regiment was to deploy on the Korabelnaya side in the following order: 3rd Battalion in the trench between the naval-artillery barracks and the 3rd Bastion, with the 45th Équipage in the barracks and the 40th and 41st équipages in the 3rd Bastion; the 4th Battalion was in a trench between the 3rd Bastion and Budishchevs No. 3 Battery. Both trenches were completely finished and made to be defended by muskets. The 1st and 2nd Battalions were assigned to the 3rd Sectors reserve, stationed between the Naval Hospital and the Dockyard Ravine.
On the morning of 5 October the began a fierce bombardment on Sevastopol from all his batteries at once. We looked at this as the preparation for an assault, so all troops were placed under arms and directed to the banquettes, and the guns stepped up their rate of fire. Soon the whole area was covered with such thick smoke that nothing could be seen further than two steps away. Thus it was that more than once it appeared to the besieged that enemy columns were approaching the fortifications. While going through the trenches, Kornilov saw that the infantry units not themselves taking part in the fighting were suffering heavy losses from the enemys artillery fire, and he ordered that only the least possible number of marksmen be left in the fortifications, sufficient to make the first defense against an attack. The rest were to be led back behind nearby cover. Consequent to this order, the Moscow Regiments battalions were withdrawn behind the first wing of the lazarette barracks after leaving a small number of riflemen and the battalion adjutants in the trenches, the latter being left so that they could warn of danger in time if the enemy advanced. The 3rd Bastion in the center of the Moscow Regiments positions underwent especially strong and concentrated fire from the English on the Green and Voronzov heights and was soon in a critical situation. Several of its guns were overthrown and the embrasures shot through. Regardless, sailors and sappers, with great determination and disregard for self under enemy fire, repaired the destroyed embankments, even though the whole area around the 3rd Bastion was showered with large-caliber English shells which ricocheted between the Naval Hospital and the Dockyard Ravine and even forced the suspension of all communication with the bastions. By three oclock in the afternoon a third of the guns were out of action, while casualties were so heavy that the gun crews had been replaced twice. But the utmost effort was made so that the guns remaining in operation would have the most telling effect. Then by ill chance, an enemy shell exploded our powder magazine in the corner of the bastion. The results of this explosion were catastrophic; the entire front half of the bastion was thrown into the moat, the guns and carriages were knocked over, shapeless corpses lay scattered everywhere without arms, legs, and the rest. Afterwards, even though it was clear that it was absolutely impossible to oppose the enemy and all the defenders in the Korabelnaya side were simply awaiting the assault, a detachment of lower ranks from the Moscow Regiment under Sublieutenant Yakovlev, which had come to the bastion to take the place of those killed, at once began putting back in operation some of the guns which had been left whole and soon they were firing them. This terrible cannonade lasted until the very last bit of twilight when finally everything became silent. The 3rd Bastion and all its dependent fortifications were a picture of complete destruction: of 22 guns only two were left undamaged, the earthen breastwork was mostly torn away, and gun platforms, cannons, and the bodies of the dead and wounded were lying all around mixed up with each other.
On this day the Moscow Regiment lost 15 lower ranks killed and Captain Rybalov and 75 lower ranks wounded.
As soon as the firing stopped, the Moscow Regiment along with the sailors were at once ordered to repair their section of the defensive lines. The whole night was used to put the 3rd Bastions defenses back in order. The men unburied guns and carriages, put platforms back together and laid down flooring again, dragged up and emplaced new guns, piled up breastworks, cut out embrasures, dug out the filled-in moat, and built new powder cellars. By morning of the following day everything was again in good order and work was halted.
In the following days similar heavy cannonades continued from both sides, and by night the men engaged in the repair of damaged fortifications and the building of new ones. The Moscovtsy and other defenders of the 3rd Bastion were particularly tormented by the English corner battery with pounded them with unusual force. In order to lessen its effect if only a little, on 8 October Lieutenant Beitner of the Moscow Regiment, with 22 volunteers from this unit, left their trenches to hide behind breaks in the terrain and open up a heavy musket fire on its face. This firing was so successful that the enemy guns had to fall silent and did not fire the whole rest of the day, due to the Moscovtsys fire preventing the gun crews from moving. Our sailors in the 3rd Bastions outlying projection noted this success and waved their caps and cheered the brave Moscovtsy by shouting "Ura!" several times. Nevertheless, the bombardment continued with great intensity in the following days and did not even stop at night. During these days the Moscovtsy lost: on 6 October¾ 6 men killed, 11 wounded; 12 October¾ Ensign Schwerin, Staff-Captain Islenyev, and 9 privates wounded. In order to reduce casualties and give the men some relief, several companies of the 3rd and 4th Battalions were transferred from the front line to the square behind the naval barracks.
In the meanwhile on 13 October news was received of our successful repulse of enemy forces at Balaklava, which made an excellent impression on the Sevastopol defenders who had not had one quiet day since the allies landing and were worn out by the heavy work and constant expectation of an assault.
On 14 October volunteers from the Moscow Regiment under Sublieutenant Golimbievskii came out of the fortifications and started a fire fight with the enemy troops who had lodged themselves in a cemetery opposite the South Bay and close to navy Lieutenant Perekomskiis fortified battery. The firing went on for a long time, and finally Sublieutenant Golimbievskii, who had been wounded by a rifle bullet in the fingers of the left hand and contused by shell fragments in the upper part of his left shin, led the volunteers back. Casualties were two lower ranks wounded. On this same day the Moscovtsy built a trench some 200 yards in front of the 3rd Bastion. The trench was for riflemen so that they could prevent the approach of the English. During this time the regiment suffered daily losses of men killed and wounded, so every day the regiments became weaker.
Meanwhile the regiment continued to be deployed as before, i.e. the 3rd Battalion in the trench to the left of the 3rd Bastion; the 4th Battalion in a trench between the 3rd Battalion and the Prokofev garden, while the 1st and 2nd Battalions along with the 2nd and 4th Battalions of the Uglich Regiment were in the 3rd Sectors reserve between the naval hospital and the bay. Every day the regiments labors became more difficult; each day it had to put out day and night lines of troops plus a great many outposts and provide cover for the battery. The entire rest of the regiment labored on the earthworks, so that of necessity the only rest was in the daytime for those in reserve, while at night everyone was kept on alert. It was especially bad in the 3rd and 4th Battalions trenches because one had stay on guard day and night, and during the daytime no one could stand up without the danger of being immediately shot by the enemy who was keeping watch for anyone to appear above the breastwork.
Before dawn on 24 October troops started moving in Sevastopol. Some regiments were leaving to join a force which on this day was to push the enemys right flank away from the city and replace it with its own fortified positions between the town and the shore. Heavy exchanges of fire were heard until 4 oclock in the afternoon; this was the famous Inkerman affair which ended in complete failure for us and heavy casualties. The Sevastopol garrison again became dejected and expected an assault any minute, the most convincing justification for this expectation being the bombardment which at times increased to unbelievable magnitudes. The nighttime work continued as before every 24 hours, and even the regimental baggage trains were drawn into this effort as they tirelessly carried up materials such as gabions and fascines.
Thus things went on from one day to the next. Finally at 8 oclock in the evening of 31 October the alarm was beaten along the whole defensive line, and in the town a signal rocket flew up¾ the indication of a general alarm. All units were at their posts at once, and artillery and muskets began to fire with desperate intensity. Everyone was sure that the enemy was going to storm the fortress.... But in a quarter-hour it was explained that the alarm was false and the enemy was lying quietly in place.
On 1 November there was a heavy rain with a fierce wind. By nightfall the weather became even worse. Our forces feared that the enemy might use these conditions to make an assault, so they stepped up their firing. On the morning of the 2nd the wind turned into a full-strength gale which turned the enemy camp into complete confusion as it blew away and scattered the tents. On our side the rain flooded all the trenches, low-lying areas, and shell holes. Only towards morning did the weather begin to calm down, but from this day on it became colder and colder, and rain alternated with snow in an unceasing precipitation that flooded all areas on both sides of the defensive works. The situation of the soldiers was most difficult. Left out in the cold and wet without any cover, in very poor clothing, and still being kept on watch and physical labor¾ they began to fall sick with cholera, debilitating fevers, bloody diarrhea, etc., and large numbers were sent to hospital every day. In spite of this, the Russian troops still kept up their fine discipline and military spirit.
But on 2 November firing on both sides slackened noticeably. Taking advantage of this, our men at once set to work on strengthening the face of the fortifications, to making the breastwork higher and thicker, deepening ditches, digging out the interior areas of fortifications, and setting up drains and roads leading into the town.
On 8 November, before dawn, a line of English troops made an attack on our works in front and to the left of the 3rd Bastion. Two unicorn-type mountain guns were sent against them which caused them to retreat after a few canister shots. The Moscovtsy lost one private killed on this day. Then every night on the following days volunteers went out with the goal of interfering with the English work parties. From these excursions they always returned safely and often with captured prisoners. The siege batteries were not very active, but in contrast there was sniper fire from riflemen all day and night. The area in front of the bastion was covered with new abatis. In view of the bad weather and constant rains the soldiers were allowed to take apart several houses in the town for fuel and to build dugouts.
On 18 November the regimental train at the consolidated wagon encampment was sent from the Belbek to the Kacha River.
After midnight on the 23rd, volunteers for a sortie called for from the Moscow Regiment and the other defenders of the 3rd Bastion opposite the English working on the slopes of Green Hill. Of 275 men collected, 75 riflemen were sent into the defensive works on Sugar Loaf Hill and the other 200 formed their support. Emplacing themselves in the abatis and other obstacles, the riflemen drove off the enemy workers with accurate fire, after which 40 volunteers stormed into the place they had been working and destroyed it with the help of the tools abandoned by the enemy. This sortie cost the Moscovtsy one lower rank killed.
During the night of 29 to 30 November there was a sortie from the 3rd Bastion which was intended to destroy a trench built across the Laboratory Ravine by the English the previous evening. The detachment assigned this task consisted of 50 volunteers from the Volhynia and Moscow regiments under the command of Lieutenant Beitner of the latter unit. After pushing the English picquet line away, they occupied the aforesaid trench almost unopposed, but did not find anything in it except work tools. Meanwhile, the enemy opened up with heavy musket fire from the front and from the heights, which forced Beitner to withdraw, loosing one man killed and six wounded. Somewhat later on that same day, this same detachment under Lieutenant Beitner went to the Burnaza farm in the Sarandinakinaya Ravine with the intention of driving out the enemy marksmen there who were disturbing our defenses on Sugar Loaf Hill. This goal was achieved quite successfully. The volunteers had driven out the enemy picquet line and then destroyed their trenches, collected abandoned entrenching tools, and returned, suffering only one man wounded in this affair.
On 2 December the French destroyed our defensive works on the right bank of the Boulevard hollow near the slaughterhouse. That night 50 volunteers under Lieutenant Beitner were sent there. The Moscovtsy drove away the enemy picquets, set up the abatis again, and occupied the works with 15 riflemen. They then returned to their own trenches safely and without casualties.
On the night of the 8th and 9th there was another large sortie from the 3rd Bastion against the English on the Green and Vorontsov heights. A force of 150 volunteers was sent there under the command of navy Lieutenant Astapov. It had to attack enemy trenches from two sides, and to support Astapov there was assigned Major Popyalkovskii of the Moscow Regiment with 100 volunteers. And in order to draw away the enemys attention, two more small detachments of riflemen from the Moscovtsy were formed: one of 30 men under Lieutenant Beitner, which was to go from Peresyp to the gardens in Sarandinakinaya Ravine, and another of 25 men under Cadet Junker Frolov which was ordered to head up along the Laboratory Ravine. All these commands set off at 2 oclock in the morning. The first, under Astapov, took advantage of the carelessness of the enemy and the darkness of the night, crawled up to the enemy trenches and where the men suddenly rolled into them, bayoneting several soldiers and taking 1 officer and 14 lower ranks prisoner; the rest managed to flee. At the same time the rifle detachments of Beitner and Frolov quietly made their way along the ravines towards the enemy outposts, and with a shout of "Ura!" threw themselves at the latter to drive them off and then engage them in a fire fight. These events absolutely confused the enemy in regard to the real point of our attack, and while he was collecting his forces to drive out the Russians from his trenches, the volunteer detachments withdrew in perfect order, taking with them their wounded as well as several prisoners, 32 rifles, 90 muskets, 80 warm blankets, and a good quantity of various campaign items belonging to officers. Our losses in this sortie consisted of 2 killed and 8 wounded lower ranks, as well as Lieutenant Beitner wounded by two bullets, one in the left side of his chest and the other in the left arm.
During the same time as some personnel were making sorties and taking their turn at guard duty in the trenches and defensive works, others were constantly laboring on earthworks regardless of the harsh weather and almost unceasing rains, sometimes with hail and snow. As a result of this the men felt at the end of their strength, but nevertheless the thought of defending that corner of their native land gave them the courage to endure everything with forbearance and to work with energy. Happily, the siege batteries were much less active and only the rifle fire went on day and night. From 12 December frosts set in and by the 24th the cold reached 10 degrees Fahrenheit, although work did not stop on either side, and every day there appeared in front of the 3rd Bastion new lodgments, breastworks, abatis, etc.
By the end of the month the troops began to be issued cartridges with conical bullets with a firing nipple of the Kesler system, in place of the previous round ones, but it was also ordered to use these very sparingly.
Around this same time it was ordered to assign ten men from each company to reinforce the gun crews in the fortress batteries. In this way a detachment was formed from the Moscow Regiment and dispatched with Sublieutenant Larionov. And in view of the fact that deserters and prisoners were often giving news of the enemys preparing an assault, it was ordered that the troops be exercised in repelling the same. These drills were repeated often, day and night, following specially worked-out directives.
The approaching Nativity holiday, as well as the New Years Day, did not alter the normal activities of the besieged in the least. Thus, on the night before 1 January, in order to forestall what the enemy was going to undertake against us, and equally as well to cause him alarm and inflict as much damage as possible, it was decided to make a sortie from the 3rd Bastion with two large groups of volunteers, and in order to draw the enemys attention away from them, to send another small detachment from the Laboratory Ravine. The first two groups were made up of volunteers from various regiments, including the Moscovtsy, and Ensign Golubov of the Moscow Regiment, with 30 of his riflemen, volunteered for the last group. They all set off at 1 oclock in the morning; the darkness was pitch black, with not a star in the sky. The deathly still silence around them was broken only by the regular firing of a cannon, the moan of a shell flying overhead and then its exploding. The time of the sortie appeared to be very good; the enemy knew that the New Years holiday was coming for the Russians and therefore felt fully at ease, enjoying a rest after the exhausting labors of the day, which had been such as to tire the men out completely....
When the main columns left our front line, one towards the English trenches and the other heading towards the French right flank, Ensign Golubov used the Laboratory Ravine to reach the flank of the English fortifications and wait for when they would strike. When he heard the rousing Russian "Ura!" of the main columns, he ordered his volunteers to open a brisk fire on the retreating Englishmen, which put them into absolute confusion as to the real direction of the attack, and then they stormed forward with an "Ura!". When all the enemy batteries started firing their artillery, our volunteers withdrew and at 2 oclock in the morning safely returned to their trenches. This sortie cost the Moscovtsy one man wounded.
Later, up to 17 January, the siege batteries continued their very desultory firing as before, increasing their shooting only rarely and on the 4th Bastion. Meanwhile, though, the attackers significantly increased their rifle fire, aiming for the embrasures of our batteries. Congreve rockets were also often fired into the town and bays. The defenders also decreased their artillery fire, stepping it up only against new enemy works or against his attacks on our lodgments and defense works.
Meanwhile the supply service in our army started to fall into a bad state due to the terrible condition of the roads. Vodka shortages began to occur with the licensed dealers; the cattle sent as rations were distributed even though thin and in bad condition from a shortage of feed and the long journey to deliver them. There also came to be no choice but to decrease the amount of other rations issued or substitute them with other items. A shortage of warm clothing was also keenly felt and this was the reason why men going into the trenches or on other guard duties were given mats and ground covers made from sacks for rusks.
The regiment on the MacKenzie heights. The Battle of the Chernaya
The march to Kherson Province.
The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th battalions in the Sevastopol campaign.
Because of their great many losses in personnel from enemy fire and various sicknesses, on 17 January the Moscow, Butyrskii, Tarutino, and Borodino regiments were taken out of Sevastopol and sent to occupy the MacKenzie Heights. Staying here was already better in that there was at least no constant bombardment and duties were not so difficult. The regiments only had to take their turns at manning a line of outposts and there was a small guard in the lodgments. The soldiers were soon rested and recovered from all their past trials. They became more calm and even cheerful. On 18 February Prince Menshikov was relieved of command of the armies and left Sevastopol after handing over the forces to Prince Gorchakov. At almost the same time he Moscovtsy received the sad news that Emperor Nicholas I had died. Emperor Alexander Nicholaevich announced this in a letter to Menshikov, writing, "In the general deep grief over the demise of the one who did so much good for us, we are however comforted by the true Russian courage with which the troops entrusted to you met the enemy and oppose his aggression. Give my thanks to all the glorious defenders of Sevastopol for the brilliant deeds with which they enriched our military chronicles. The tsar, the leader of all orthodox warriors, and now passed to eternal life, from on high blesses their firmness, resolution, and unparalleled fearlessness."
With their new posting danger did not bypass the Moscovtsy entirely. On the evening of 24 May, when the Moscovtsy were providing the guards in the lodgments, one of the observation posts on the Chernaya Stream reported the approach of enemy cavalry. The cossacks at the outposts galloped off at once. Seeing the danger, the men of the observation post hurried to the lodgments. Profiting from this, a squadron of French dragoons attacked the lodgments without any warning. The guard of one of the lodgments was made up of 2 non-commissioned officers, a bugler, and 25 privates of the Moscow Regiment. Panicked by the unexpected attack, they all ran, abandoning their entrenchment. Another guard detachment made up of the same number of lower ranks from the same regiment but with Ensign Romanenko of the 2nd musketeer company, met the enemy with the bayonet and in spite of the desperate attacks by the French, held out in their lodgment and even forced the enemy to show his back. But this defense cost the 2nd musketeer company dearly. Romanenko was wounded 9 times by broadswords and in addition there were 13 lower ranks wounded, one of whom, Private Fedor Perfilev, having received 12 wounds but nevertheless surviving; there were 4 men killed. Only after the French had left altogether did a whole force, including artillery and cossacks, come to the aid of the guard detachment. The battery would have opened fire on the retreating troopers, but it was already too late.
Such outstanding events and individual outpost skirmishes, however, did not disturb the general quiet on the MacKenzie Heights and even served as a diversion from the inactivity in which the Moscovtsy now found themselves, having grown used to incredibly hard work in Sevastopol. Even completely peacetime activities were soon taken up. In the mornings men were taken out to practice drill individually, by lines or ranks, or by companies. Afterwards there were exercises in extended order and target shooting. One can understand how these did not go down well with soldiers who were used to the real thing, and so they were happy to be assigned to any other detail, no matter where, as long as it freed them from drill. Such details came up often; parties were always being required to make gabions, fascines, etc. On 26 June a detachment from the regiment consisting of 4 non-commissioned officers and 135 privates under Ensign Kiselev was sent to make up reserve gun crews for the Sevastopol batteries. On 22 July a group of 1 non-commissioned officer and 90 privates under Ensign Shandorovskii was sent on the same assignment, and on 27 July 10 lower ranks were sent to reinforce the batteries of the 16th Artillery Brigade.
Meanwhile, on 21 March Lieutenant Colonel Yakov Fedorovich Trunevskii arrived from the Kazan Infantry Regiment to replace General Kurtyanov, who after being wounded on the Alma at first lived in Simferopol and then after being retired left for Russia. Colonel Solovev was named commander of the Borodino Jäger Regiment by the same order.
Around this same time the regiment began receiving replacements. Thus, on 25 February 26 non-commissioned officers and 468 privates joined its ranks from the reserve brigade of the 16th Infantry Division; on 9 April came 6 more non-commissioned officers, 1 musician, and 417 privates. Afterwards, an additional 8 non-commissioned officers and 301 privates arrived in May.
In the month of July Major General Veselitskii took command of the 17th Infantry Division in place of Kiryakov, who was transferred to some position in Kiev. What was going on was that since the Battle of the Alma Kiryakov was only nominally considered the division commander, and during the whole time his regiments were in Sevastopol he stayed with his staff on the Belbek River as a result of a strict order from the commander-in-chief not to appear in Sevastopol for any reason, the town being some four miles from his place of exile. The reason for this was that Prince Menshikov hated Kiryakov for his forthright, open character and for his constant critical remarks to highly placed persons regarding the princes inappropriate orders and actions. The dislike of the commander-in-chief and his staff for Kiryakov, of course, had an effect in all his regiments, especially in the Moscow, since the latter did not pass any requests on to the high command, and no one ever inquired into his needs. More than that, it was ordered that no packets from General Kiryakov, through whose hands all important papers had to pass, were to be accepted, but rather returned still sealed. The results of this led to a case wherein the regiment needed several thousand yards of linen due to the loss of all the mens personal necessities at the Alma fight, and Colonel Solovevs report to the effect, submitted to the higher command, was returned back to Kiryakov without resolution. Sent a second time to the commander-in-chief, the report was similarly returned. In this way this important matter did not receive any attention, and as a result the soldiers, who had no chance to leave their positions, had to go without a change of underwear for more than a month, until on an off chance the regimental commander tried going direct to the general-intendant, who did order that the needed items be issued. After this Solovev decided to not send any regimental correspondence and not to remind the authorities of the Moscovtsys presence in Sevastopol.
Only with the appointment of the new commander-in-chief, who had earlier been the commander of the 6th Corps to which the Moscow Regiment belonged, did matters get better, and with a new division commander they came to be completely normal. Only one incident here was a black spot on the Moscovtsy: on 30 June one of their comrades, Private Afanasii Vasilev, was shot for desertion with the intent of going over to the enemy.
At this time the allies besieging Sevastopol used their earthworks to move closer and closer to the defenders and by August they found themselves within 100 yards of the Malakhov Kurgan and the 2nd, 4th, and 5th bastions. These points were plainly intended to be the objectives of the main attack. Everyone in Sevastopol was anxiously awaiting a new and more intense bombardment, for its outcome might end in the most unpleasant manner in view of the fact that at these indicated points we had not taken timely measures to make the artillery battle more equal. Therefore the defenders had to take decisive action, i.e. themselves go over to the offensive, or evacuate the southern side of Sevastopol and concentrate their army in the field. In order to decide how to proceed under these circumstances, the commander-in-chief convened his military council and accepted the majority decision. He decided come from the Chernaya Stream to attack an enemy force positioned on three different heights separated by small valleys. These were on the right flank of the Gasfort Heights, in the center of the Fedyukhin group of hills, and on the left flank of the inaccessible cliffs of Sapun Hill. The Gasfort and Fedyukhin heights sloped very steeply down to the Chernaya river, but on the opposite side, towards the Balaklava valley, they were very gradual. At the same time, the Fedyukhin Heights were made up of three separate prominences separated from each other by deep ravines. In addition to the Chernaya River, the enemys position was covered in front by a canal, deep but not wide, which had small bridges in only a few places. It went right along the base of the hills on the Chernaya Rivers left bank and its sides were lined with stone, these making it difficult to cross over. The Chernaya River was not wide, being only some 9 yards across and up to 6 feet deep, and in addition to the bridges it could be forded in many places. To all this must it must be added that in order to make their position even more secure, the enemy strengthened it through construction. Thus, the bridge across the river near the inn was covered by a redan-shaped fortification in front, and two epaulements were built on the left bank to flank its face. Several batteries and epaulements were built on Telegraph and Gasfort hills, and the Fedyukhin Heights were strengthened by a lodgments for riflemen on several of its terraces. On Sapun Hill there was an uninterrupted line of batteries, redoubts, and lodgments all along the crest. At the very start of the fighting the allies would have more than 36 thousand men and 120 guns on this rather threatening position, and with the addition of French reserves on Sapun Hill, these numbers reached 60 thousand.
The number of troops gathered together on the Mackenzie hill and the upper parts of the Belbek River to carry out the military councils decision was some 58 thousand with 272 guns. The force actually intended for the attack on the Fedyukhin, Gasfort, and Telegraph hills numbered about 47 thousand bayonets.
The main purpose of our intended movements was to survey the disposition of the enemy forces covering the siege of Sevastopol and, if it turned out to be possible, to push them away from the Chernaya River towards Sapun Hill.
The troops designated for this task were divided into the following columns: 1) the right wing, under General-Adjutant Read; 2) the left wing, under the commander of the 6th Corps, Lieutenant General Liprandi, and which included the Moscow Regiment with the rest of the 17th Divisions regiments; 3) the main infantry reserve, under Lieutenant General Shepelev. In addition, there were cavalry and artillery reserves.
According to Prince Gorchakovs plan, Liprandis left flank corps was ordered to drive off the Sardinian advance guard occupying Telegraph Hill in front of Chorgun, and then prepare for an advance on the Gasfort Heights. It was planned that in the meantime Reads right flank troops would form up in battle formation opposite the Fedyukhin hill out of range of musket fire, move up a strong artillery force to bombard these heights, and then prepare to force a crossing over the Chernaya. The commander-in-chief instructed both of these column commanders not to go over to the attack without a special order on his part. After the preliminary maneuvers were completed, Prince Gorchakov intended to make a close inspection of the Sardinian position and then make an on-the-spot choice from one of the following three courses of action: have Liprandis force attack the Gasfort heights, supported by Reads infantry and the reserves, with only artillery and cavalry left facing Fedyukhin hill; if this attack appeared to be too risky, then Reads troops would attack the Fedyukhin Heights, supported by part of Liprandis infantry; and finally, there was the choice of limiting everything to just a reconnaissance in force of the enemy position, if the first and second courses of action appeared to be too difficult.
On 3 August, after he found out that the allies were beginning to receive reinforcements, the commander-in-chief decided to carry out his plan sooner, and so on that same day he issued the general directions to the troops with instructions to carry it out that very night. In addition to these general directions, individual instructions were sent out at the same time which explained many of the details of the proposed action, and in which, among other things, the regimental baggage trains were ordered to move from the Kacha River to a position on Mackenzie Hill so that during the coming battle they could collect and carry the wounded to the nearby dressing station.
In the dark night of 3 to 4 August, the Russian troops assigned to advance against the enemy descended from the Mackenzie Heights into the valley of the Chernaya River and debouched from the Yukhary-Karolez defile through Aitodor. The Tarutino and Borodino regiments were in the front of Liprandis column and behind them came the other units including the Moscow Regiment, which consisted of 5 field-grade officers, 59 company-grade officers, 234 non-commissioned officers, 124 musicians, and 1527 privates. All were heading towards Telegraph Hill. A thick fog filling the valley hid our movement and helped make our attack a surprise. While on the march the regiments of the 17th Infantry Division reformed into battle formation with their front parallel to the line of enemy fortifications on Telegraph Hill. The 1st Brigade was assigned to the second line and of the Moscow Regiment only the 2nd Battalion was sent to the left to secure our flank from turned from the direction of the Chorgun defile. Without having reached the nearest prominences to Telegraph Hill, the commander of the 17th Division sent there No. 3 Heavy Battery of the 17th Artillery Brigade and ordered it to open fire on the enemy fortifications.
In the allied camp fires were still burning and everyone was deep in sleep when our first shots boomed forth, but nevertheless the enemy soldiers quickly stood to arms and occupied the places that had been designated for them earlier. After several shots from No. 3 Battery, the fourth battalion of the Tarutino Regiment, under the cover of a dense line of volunteers and riflemen from a company of the 6th Rifle Battalion, advanced on the first trench in company columns. In an instant the enemy was driven out of it and they withdrew to the second trench from which they met the attackers with heavy firing. At this point the volunteers along with the remaining columns of the regiment, which had hurried forward, threw themselves onto the second epaulement. The enemy again was unable to resist the attack and withdrew to his last fortifications on the top of the hill, near the bank of the Chernaya itself, and some of them began to cross over the bridge to the other side accompanied by our rifle fire. In this way Telegraph Hill came into our hands, and at once No. 3 Battery was moved out to the captured epaulement where it immediately opened fire on the Gasfort heights and on the troops gathering at the Chorgun bridge. This firing, supported by Tarutino riflemen, soon forced the enemy to retreat from the bridge. Therefore, the first task of Liprandis column had been carried out, so the regiments stopped in the positions they had occupied and waited for new orders from the commander-in-chief. Prince Gorchakov did not delay in coming here, and as he convinced himself of the possibility of attacking the Gasfort heights, he then sent an order to the 5th Infantry Division, located at the head of the infantry reserve, to go to the support of the left flank, while General Liprandi was to lead his regiments into an attack on the Gasfort heights after waiting for reinforcements to approach.
The reinforcements were still moving towards Telegraph Hill when heavy musket firing was heard on our right flank, followed by cries of "Ura!", and the commander-in-chief saw that General Reads troops, against all orders, were going into an attack on the Fedyukhin Heights. Through the smoke from gunpowder and the not completely dispersed fog, it could be seen how French soldiers were running away after being pushed out of their fortifications in front of the bridge and how our own men were already climbing up the enemy-held heights....
Knowing that we did not have sufficient reserves to support attacks at both points at once, Prince Gorchakov revoked his order and sent the 5th Infantry Division to Read, and he told General Liprandis to keep his force were it was.
With great courage, the brave Russia regiments of Reads corps threw themselves one after the other onto the enemy but were forced to retreat with heavy losses and be replaced by new units, each time overwhelmed by the foes superiority in numbers that was the result of the constant arrival of fresh reinforcements. Seeing such failure, Prince Gorchakov ordered General Liprandi to bring the 1st Brigade of the 17th Infantry Division forward out of reserve, hoping that this formation would draw off part of the allied forces from the Fedyukhin Heights.
At 8 oclock that morning the Butyrskii and Moscow regiments led by Major General Gribbe descended into the valley under heavy enemy musket and canister fire, forded the Chernaya River and canal in water up to their waists, and courageously rushed to attack on the eastern part of the Fedyukhin Heights. At first the French had only four companies here and the same number of guns, but while our regiments were climbing uphill, an entire brigade managed to come to their aid. Regardless, the Butyrskii soldiers, who were in the front line and under heavy crossfire from their front, from Fedyukhin hill, and from the left flank of the Gasfort heights, fearlessly and without stopping pressed forward and soon reached the top of the hill. However, their losses were so great that General Gribbe found it impossible to continue the attack with this regiment, so he ordered the Moscovtsy to move up into the first line. The latter, accompanied by their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Trunevskii, bravely hurried forward through intervals between the Burtyrskii men and overthrew the enemy, chasing him to his very camp and kitchens, around which the French, seeing help coming towards them, halted and started fighting hand to hand. But since General Gribbe had no support behind him of any kind, he understood that he could not maintain himself on the occupied position. And since he had been sent only with the goal of drawing part of the enemy forces away from the main battle and had fulfilled this task, he ordered his brigade to withdraw. To cover this retreat the Life-Jäger Borodino Regiment was brought forward to the bank of the Chernaya. The Moscovtsy and Butyrskii men, who had formed up on the nearest high ground, fell back under heavy enemy fire in perfect order and returned to Telegraph Hill at 10 oclock.
At the same time, after noting that the enemy had about 50 thousand men deployed in his position, Prince Gorchakov ordered a halt to the fighting. He directed a withdrawal to a distance of one cannon shot from the Chernaya River and the occupation of a position with the left flank on the northern part of Telegraph Hill and the right at the foot of the last terrace of the Mackenzie Heights, with the artillery and cavalry put in the front line. This is the way the troops stood for four hours, waiting for the enemy to go over to the offensive. But the allies did not decide to attack our position, but rather moved fresh units forward in their turn, waiting for a new Russian assault. Then the commander-in-chief ordered his forces to return to their places under the cover of cavalry.
In this battle the Moscow Regiment suffered badly, namely: killed were Staff-Captain Fedorovskii, Sublieutenant Zhukov, and Ensigns Telepnev, Chaplygin, Zaremba, and Baksheev; 224 lower ranks were either killed or missing; wounded were Staff-Captains Burkaov (fatally) and Yanovskii, Lieutenants Bogdanov and Kopytin, Sublieutenant Gruzin, and Ensign Smerdov, along with 150 men from the lower ranks. A great part of our wounded were in the hands of the enemy, who gathered them up and put them in his own lazarettes. In total numbers Russian casualties were very high, so that during a truce concluded for 6 and 7 August the French buried some 2,199 Russian bodies.
As a result of the regiments great number of casualties during the whole course of the war, Order Nos. 95 and 97 from the 17th Division directed the reorganization of the regiment into three battalions, so on 8 August all the officers and lower ranks of the 4th Battalion, with all their government equipment, soldiers funds, and administrative moneys, were allocated to companies of the first three battalions, bringing them up to equal strengths. The flag was joined to that of the 1st Battalion.
Life and duties on the Mackenzie Heights then went back to the way it was before, and only the continuous firing of the guns reminded the Moscovtsy that they were not far from the enemy and any day now they could be engaging the enemy in a contest of strength. Rarely, there were outpost skirmishes which, however, always ended well. The only thing was that diseases¾ fever and cholera¾ continued to rage and, as before, incapacitated a great many men.
In the meantime the situation of the Sevastopol garrison became worse and worse until finally, after the famous French attack on the Malakhov Kurgan and the 2nd and 3rd bastions, the commander-in-chief decided to abandon the fortress to the enemy and transfer the garrisons forces over to the north side of the bay. This withdrawal was completed on the night of 28 August.
The Moscow Regiment would not take part in any more fighting in this campaign, but preparations for it did not cease. Thus, among other things, on 1 September the regiment formed a special detachment of men armed with the old model rifles as well as the new rifled muskets, under the command of Captain Khokhov, who at once started training in the use of these weapons.
Already on 30 August Lieutenant Colonel Trunevskii was promoted to colonel for distinguishing himself in the Battle of Chernaya Stream and was confirmed in the position of regimental commander. There soon followed awards from the tsar to other officers for this action, in which 26 officer candidates, non-commissioned officers, and cadet junkers were promoted to ensign, and 48 lower ranks received the medal of the Military Order. Afterwards, an order from the tsar dated 30 August 1856 decreed that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, as an award for their feats of courage and bravery in the course of the 1853-1855 war, were granted St.-George flags with St.-Alexander ribbons and the inscriptions "1700-1850" under the eagle and, around the edges, "For Sevastopol in 1854 and 1855, under the command of Major General Kurtyanov". These flags were received along with a charter (4) from the tsar at the end of December 1858 and still exist today. In 1860 the old ones were turned in to the Nizhnii-Novgorod arsenal. In this way the whole regiment received that highest award which is now the pride and glory of the Moscovtsy (the 4th Battalion already had a St.-George flag for the Battle of Bar-sur-Aube against the French in 1814).
On 29 October 1855 the Sovereign Emperor, accompanied by his august brothers Nicholas and Michael Nicholaevich, conducted an inspection of the troops deployed on the Inkerman and Mackenzie heights, at the end of which he graciously thanked the soldiers for their loyal service and heroic courage which they showed during the defense of Sevastopol. Then His Majesty gathered all the officers around himself and talked with them for a long time, finally thanking each and every one. After that, he rode between the ranks of the soldiers and graciously had a word with those who wore medals of the Military Order. For this inspection Colonel Trunevskii received the personal thanks of His Majesty.
Soon after this there came an Imperial order from the tsar awarding the defenders of Sevastopol a silver medal on a St.-George ribbon, to be worn in the buttonhole. The decree read:
"Brave soldiers of the Crimean army!
"In my order of 30 August I expressed to you the feelings that overflowed my soul with true recognition of your services, which crowned the defense of Sevastopol with glory. But to My heart it was not enough to thank you in person for those heroic deeds of courage and self-sacrifice with which you, astounding even our enemies, endured the difficult time of almost a year of siege. Here among you I wanted to declare to you My feelings to you of good will and remembrance. Seeing you gave me inexpressible satisfaction, and the magnificent condition in which I found the troops of the Crimean army in the currently conducted inspections surpassed My expectations. It was a great comfort to Me to gaze on you with pleasure. I thank you from my soul for your service, for the deeds with which you distinguished yourselves, for your valor that is rooted firmly in the glory of Russian arms and in the true readiness of My brave troops to sacrifice themselves for the Faith, Tsar, and Fatherland.
"In memory of the glorious and notable defense of Sevastopol, I specially established for the troops who defended the fortress a silver medal on a St.-George ribbon, to be worn in a buttonhole. Truely, this emblem will bear witness to every mans services and instill in those who will serve beside you in the future that deep sense of duty and honor which is a support to the Throne and Fatherland.
"The joint inscription on the medal of My name and that of My unfogettable father will symbolize Our identically grateful feelings for you, and preserve forever for you the inseperable memory of Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich and Myself. I am proud of you, as He was proud of you. As He did, I believe in your proven devotion and zeal to fulfill your duty. In His name and Mine, I once more thank the defenders of Sevastopol; I thank the whole army!"
Subsequently on 26 August, 1856, a bronze medal was established by the following Highest Order: "Brave soldiers! In memory of your brilliant deeds in the past war, by this manifesto, dated this day, I establish a bronze medal so that on each of your chests there will be a visible sign of My gratitude and benevolence for you and which will testify that you justified My trust in you, having shown your unshakeable readiness to sacrifice yourselves for the good of the Faith, Throne, and Fatherland."
With the advent of winter and severe snowy weather on the Crimean peninsula, all military operations practically ceased, being limited just to skirmishing between advance post and small reconnaissances from both sides.
At the end of November, all the 17th Divisions's Regiments were brought down to cadre strength, with 81 non-commissioned officers, 42 musicians, and 1352 men of the Moscow Regiment being sent to fill the ranks of the Yekaterinburg Infantry and the Kolyvan Jägers. Besides this, on 25 October, 2 captains, 1 lieutenant, 2 sublieutenants, and 25 ensigns had been detached to the 10th Infantry Division even before the transfers. Afterwards, on 28 November the Moscovtsy marched out of their position on Mackenzie hill to go to Kherson Province to join the Southern Army. On reaching this province on 15 December, the regiment was deployed along the banks of the Dnieper: the regimental headquarters and the 3rd Battalion under Major Kvashinskii were in the village of Baturin; Lieutenant Colonel Grals 1st Battalion was in Zaselya; and Major Popyalkovskiis 2nd Battalion was in Vavilov, with the companies in the surrounding villages. Here the regiments strength was again brought up to the wartime level by replacements from the 12th Reserve Brigade and the 11th and 12th Replacement Brigades, which also allowed the reformation of the 4th Battalion.
Let us turn now to the activities of the rest of the Moscow Regiments units. As a result of an order from the tsar dated 4 December 1853 the cadres of the 5th and 6th Reserve Battalions of the Moscow Regiment were brought up to strength by men on indefinite leave and also moved to Russias southern borders, to the town of Kherson. Here they formed a reserve brigade along with other reserve battalions of the 17th Infantry Division and joined a force under Lieutenant General Baron Wrangel. This forces mission was to cover the Crimean Armys rear and guard the coastline from Nikolaev to Perekop. To this end the Moscovtsy reserve battalions were moved from Kherson to Perekop, where they arrived on 7 February 1855 and came under the direct command of Major General Ryzhov. From here the 6th battalion was soon transferred to the defense of the Chongar crossing, and on 13 May it was sent, along with two guns from the 18th Artillery Brigade, to the town of Genichesk to reinforce Cossack Regiment No. 62 there, arriving on 15 May. Here is came under Colonel Prince Lobanov-Rostovskii.
On 16 May two large enemy steamships approached Genichesk and opened fire on our ships which were lying offshore of this town. The next day 14 more warships arrived to support the enemy and they at once began to fire on the town. Prince Lobanov did not want to expose his troops to no purpose, so he led them to a distance of some 3 miles from the town. But when the enemy tried to approach Genichesk in boats, two guns under the cover of two companies and a cossack detachment were sent out to the narrows, where their firing forced the enemy boats to immediately withdraw back to their ships. After this the whole enemy squadron moved away from the town. The units which had been sent forward then hurried into town to put out the fires caused by the enemy artillery.
In June the allies came up to Genichesk several more times with the intention of forcing their way through the narrows and destroying the Chongar bridge, but all these operations were limited to that one bombardment of the town.
The 5th battalion remained at Perekop as before and was not involved in any engagements with the enemy.
In the summer of 1855 both of these battalions were used as replacements for the Crimean Army, while their cadres were sent to Russia to be formed anew.
The 7th and 8th Replacement Battalions of the Moscow Regiment, formed on 10 March 1854 in Moscow from cadres detached from the regiment and from recruits of the most recent call-ups, remained there the whole time, engaged in training. In 1855, along with the other battalions of the 17th Divisions replacement brigade, they were at an inspection by the Sovereign Emperor. At the end of the summer of 1856 they were turned into march detachments to provide replacements for the 6th Corps at Nizhnii Novgorod, where in this way their existence came to an end.
Peace concluded. March of the regiment to quarters in Saratov Province.
Reorganization of the regiment and its peacetime service to 1863.
The courage shown by the defenders of Sevastopol and the heroism and unrivaled spirit of the Russian troops expressed in that campaign convinced our enemies that war with us was not so easy and that the possession of a few fortified places would not lead to a final victory, since ahead of them there still stood the whole Russian army, ready to convince them again of their selfless courage. As a result, the allies were already long disposed to concluding peace and at last a truce was announced on 15 February 1856, and on 18 March in Paris a peace treaty was finally signed.
When this news was received in the active army, units were ordered to return to Russia and disperse to permanent quarters. The companies of the Moscow Regiment that were deployed along the banks of the Dnieper at first set off for Kherson on 20 March, from where on 25 April they moved in normal marching order through the towns of Yekaterinoslav and Pavlograd to Slavyanoserbsk. Along the way further marching orders were received to go through Boguchary and Novokhopersk to the town of Petrovsk in Saratov Province, this being the place now assigned for permanent quarters, and which was reached on 1 August of this same year. Since Petrovsk was not a large town and did not have room for a whole regiment, only the regimental headquarters, the non-combatant company, and one combatant company (for regimental guard duties) were quartered here. The rest were dispersed (End of translation.)
(1) The Moscow and Butyrskii infantry and the Borodino and Tarutino jägers.
(2) On 1 December 1853 the regiments strength was 1 general, 5 field-grade officers, 67 company-grade officers, 354 non-commissioned officers, 3290 privates, 323 non-combatant ranks, and 243 transport horses. (St.-Petersburg Archive of the Main Staff, monthly reports for 1853.)
(3) Beitner ("The Moscow Regiment in the Battle of the Alma") says on page 284 that Major General Kurtyanovs report regarding the dispositions of the Moscow Regiment in the Alma position was written down a week after the battle and completely disagreed with reality. The result of this is that works based only on that, such as Totlebens Defense of Sevastopol, have an entirely different account: what really concerned only the 4th Battalion is erroneously attributed to the whole Moscow Regiment.
(4) This charter is now kept in the regimental pay chest.
Notes by the translator:
(i) This refers to two kinds of leave. Those men whose leave was cut short were on ordinary leave for a defined period of time. Those on indefinite leave were long-service men who were, in effect, placed in reserve.
(ii) hat the Moscow Regiment was stationed in Moscow is unique. No other infantry regiment had any connection with its nominal title, either in the origins of its recruits or in where it was located.
(iii) The Guards Corps and, in the surrounding region, the Grenadier Corps.
(iv) Similarly, the men of the Minsk Regiment were the Mintsy, those of the Brest Regimentthe Brestsy, of the Tarutinothe Tarutintsy, and so on.
(v) In 1847 it was ordered that 6 men in each company be armed with a rifle. With a regiment of 4 battalions, each of 3 musketeer companies and 1 grenadier company, this means a total of 96 men, who were called shtutserniki, after their weapon, the shtutser. Tactical regulations of the following year, 1848, directed that each company designate 24 men as skirmishing marksmen (zastrelshchiki), and 24 additional men as reserve marksmen. These 24 (or 48) men in each company were distinct from the riflemen and were armed with the normal smoothbore musket. Captain Smirnov may be confusing the terms zastrelshchik and shtutsernik, but it is true that all riflemen were marksmen in the general sense, although not all marksmen were riflemen.
(vi) The joke, of course, is that the colonel confuses the Battle of Poltava in 1708, when Peter the Great defeated the Swedes under Charles XII, with the defeat of Napoleon in 1812.
(vii) Khomutovs rank was general of infantry; he was also an aide-de-camp to the tsar, which gave him the additional title of general-adjutant.
(viii) Twice-baked bread, the staple of a Russian soldier on the march.
(ix) It should be noted that this appears to be based mainly on General Kiryakovs own statements which were strongly disputed by other officers present.
(x) All this action on the left flank had been mostly played out before the British attack on the Russian right had developed.
(xi) For readers who may not like some of the implications here, it may be noted that later on in this Moscow regimental history the French are acknowledged as tending to the Russian wounded left on the field after the Battle of the Chernaya. It is also known that the British did make some effort to care for the Russian wounded at the Alma.
Translated by Mark Conrad, 1998.