Russian Army Life in Finland in the 1870s and ‘80s


(“Iz zhizni russkikh voisk v Finlyandii v 70-kh i 80-kh godakh,” by L. L. Drake. From Russkaya Starina, 1909, Vol. 137, pages 587-603.)


Two periods of service in Finland (1876 through 1878 and then 1883 to 1885) not only gave us a chance to become somewhat acquainted with the unique living conditions of this interesting region—a land of lakes and granite rock—where every scrap of suitable land, no matter how small, is carefully utilized for farming or another purpose, but also to obtain a first-hand conviction of the local intelligentsia’s separatist efforts and in general of a certain antipathy on the part of the population, and finally, of their far from friendly relations with our troops, which at times was actually hostile.


In 1876 Graf N. V. Adlerberg 3rd was the governor-general of Finland. He was proud of his Swedish origins in a direct line from the Uppsala bishop Olaf Svebelius[1], and was opinionated and did not welcome the military forces he commanded in Finland. He was basically unfamiliar with the troops since he had not served in line units for a long time. As for his knowledge of living conditions in the region under his charge, I submit that he was more than a little deficient[2]. At the time his aides were native Finlanders—at first General Indrenius and after him General Av-Forselles, who were well-rounded in outlook and possessed sufficient experience. However, his confidential advisor was the governor of Nyland[3], General Alftan, also a native Finlander but, in spite of the general-staff uniform he wore, with open Swedish sympathies.[4] The regional headquarters was located in Helsingfors in a leased building on the Michaels-gatan near the pretty city park called Kaisa-niemi. The chief-of-staff was General A.L. Hagemeister who wore the uniform of the general staff due to his position but had not actually attended the staff academy. His deputy was Colonel Timrot, who was very likeable and efficient. The composition of the headquarters staff was distinctive only in that it included a special translator whose job was to translate official documents received in Swedish into Russian and make preliminary reports from them. There were similar translators at the Finnish Senate and the chancelleries of the governor-general and district governors. Such was the organizational situation.


There were few troops in Finland and they were sharply divided into Russian and Finnish. The first consisted of the 23rd Infantry Division with its artillery brigade, distributed among many scattered garrisons in Helsingfors, Tusby, Tavastehus, Åbo, Sveaborg, Fredrikshamn, Kymmenegård, and Viborg. There were also four fortress battalions, two fortress artillery commands, and a series of small local detachments. Finnish troops were subordinate to Graf Adlerberg only in respect to his position as governor-general. He was even authorized a special liaison officer for matters regarding Finnish troops. This was Colonel Schauman of the general staff (the father or at least a relative of the man who assassinated General-Adjutant Bobrikov). A similar liaison officer was also prescribed by regulation for the minister of war.[5] Finnish forces consisted of the Life-Guards 3rd Finnish Rifle Battalion (recently disbanded) and eight Finnish rifle battalions named after the region’s districts.[6] Their commander was General Baron Ramsay who had his “separate” staff where it appears correspondence was conducted in Swedish except for direct communications with the minister of war and regional headquarters.


I personally became familiar with the surprising local ways of doing things. Finnish troops lived entirely separate from ours so they were complete strangers to each other. There was only one minor exception in the case of the Life-Guards 3rd Finnish Rifle Battalion just insofar that each summer it was sent to the Krasnoe Selo encampment for four to six weeks. Later, two Finnish battalions were sent in turns to Krasnoe Selo, but for the period we are examining they had their summer encampments in Villmanstrand. As an example, in Helsingfors at the Åbo barracks where the headquarters of the 23rd Division and two battalions of the White-Sea Regiment were located, a beautiful officers’ mess was built, but it was never visited by Finnish officers. In turn, our officers had no access to the officers’ messes of Finnish battalions. It was the same in Åbo, Tavastehus, and Viborg, where both Russian and Finnish soldiers were quartered.


General-staff officers were periodically detached for practical exercises with troop unit officers, but there were never such exercises in Finnish battalions. Finnish soldiers and our Russian troops met each other only during very rare joint reviews and church parades for official calendar holidays. And even here strange exclusions were made for some reason, as the Finnish units assigned as part of the church parade were ordered to arrive on site directly at the end of the prayer service, which is to say without having the men enter the unfamiliar Orthodox cathedral (on the Skatuden peninsula), and this was even directed through the garrison’s daily orders signed by the commandant, the Russian General Chepurnov! In observing the Feast of the Epiphany, in spite of many nearby bodies of water, the blessing of the waters was always held inside the cathedral from fear of some sort of scandal and mockery on the part of the public. All this was not only known to the higher authorities, they themselves practiced similar concessions, though perhaps not so odd.[7]


There were few Russian educational institutions in Finland, namely the Alexander Boys Gymnasium, the Mary Girls Gymnasium, a wonderful kindergarten in Helsingfors, a boys gymnasium in Viborg, and some parish schools. As a special territory the region’s headquarters had an advisory committee for Russian schools in Finland, under the chairmanship of the chief of staff. This committee’s members were the schools’ directors, an official from the Ministry for Public Enlightenment, several officers of the general staff, and an artillery officer to handle correspondence.


Except for the Sveaborg and Viborg fortresses, the barracks which our troops occupied belonged to the engineering and local militia administrations. It should be noted that the barracks of the Finnish forces were significantly superior to our barracks belonging to the engineering administration (in Sveaborg, Helsingfors, and Viborg) in their construction, functionality, and even external appearance.


The Helsingfors infantry school (Gel’singforskoe pekhotnoe uchilishche), comprising a single company, was located on the edge of town near the north harbor (Norra-hamn), in ancient single-story wooden buildings.


Some instructors were teachers from the local gymnasia and others were artillery and general-staff officers. Overall, the school’s situation was rather fluid, including its educational capability, and it was mostly attended by young men from middleclass volunteers in the 23rd Division’s regiments and the four fortress battalions in Finland, but there were also volunteers from army regiments in the St.-Petersburg Military District. As an aside, among the officer candidate yunkers who completed the school’s courses in 1877 was Roborovskii of the 145th Novocherkassk Regiment who was later a companion of the late Przhevalskii in most of his scientific expeditions in Asia.


The fortress commandant in Sveaborg was General Alopeus and in Viborg—the aged General Regenkampf who knew nothing about fortresses and had apparently received such a responsible position as a sinecure. A whole series of mismanaged engineering projects was uncovered in Sveaborg and Viborg, and as a result of an investigation General Frolov, the district’s chief of engineers, was court-martialed along with the chief of the two fortresses’ engineering administration. All three officers were then relieved of duty. Engineer work on the fortresses was mainly performed by two locally prominent contractors—Ch-ev and Dem-v, well known at the time for their philanthropy (especially the former) supporting Russian educational institutions in the region. We will not burden ourselves with judging how much this “philanthropy” had to do with government contracts. These two contractors and the merchant Sinebryukhov were important local Russian businessmen but completely Swedicized, especially the last-named person, and were considered “Citizens of Finland.”


General Bezak was the chief of the district’s few artillery units, the district intendant was Baron Kister, and the medical inspector—Henrici. Sveaborg Fortress consisted of old but solid works located on several granite islands, of which Calf Island (Kalf-holm) held an important powder magazine. All the islands except for Calf and Aleksandrovsk were connected by draw bridges, and in addition to a large number of sloops, the fortress had several government steam cutters.[8] Communication between the city and the fortress and the Bruns-park (a beautiful garden on a peninsula with many summer houses) was provided in summer by frequent crossings by steam cutters belonging to a private navigation company. The defensive works of Viborg Fortress were carefully distributed to cover the Greater and Lesser Tranzund roads. As a characteristic detail, or more accurately—a sign of carelessness. I will point out that in the gorges, or entrances, of some fortifications there were privately owned wooden booths and consequently, there was no shortage of foreign spies. There was endless correspondence regarding the removal of such booths, but in 1878 they were still there. I may add that on the very shore of the Bruns-park peninsula was a large summer house belonging to the English consul, and from it could be seen the whole interior of the fortifications built in 1878 on the nearby island of Drums during their whole course of construction and being supplied with armaments. This I can vouch for personally.[9]


The fortifications were still equipped with an insufficient number of guns of obsolete models along with a comparatively small number of new ones. For example, the old carriages of the Venglovskii system could still be encountered. On the flanking islands of Sandham and Drums and the Deger peninsula there were only faints traces of batteries built long ago during the Crimean War.


Throughout the whole district masses of paperwork were generated on relatively important topics as well as on the most trivial. In this the Finland senate was also an offender, and one curious memorandum from the militia office [militsionnaya ekspeditsiya] comes to mind. Written in Swedish, of course, it was signed by the office chairman and even several senators. The memorandum had a small piece of cheap wallpaper enclosed and consisted of a rather extended speech regarding hanging wallpaper in barrack rooms belonging to the militia office and occupied by our troops.


No Russia newspapers of any kind were published in Finland. The tone of the local periodical press (the newspapers Helsingfors Dagblad, Nya Pressen, Hufwudstatsbladet, Finska Tidskrift, Uosi Suomentar, and others) was hostile regarding Russian institutions in the region and our troops. At best they were reserved. The most minor incident in whatever military unit immediately appeared in the columns of local newspapers invariably exaggerated and in florid colors. The only newspaper that was comparatively condescending to everything Russian in the region was the Finlands Almänna Tidning. The following may serve as a small example of mocking tone of articles and notices in local papers: in one newspaper’s chronicle of events there was the notice (I remember its exact translation) “yesterday a train arrived in Helsingfors and switched to a reserve track. It appeared to be bringing wood, but then it turned out that the governor-general had arrived.” Apparently, an innocent observation. I repeat, the community of Russian military officials serving in the governor-general’s chancellery, and the Russian teaching personnel in the two gymnasia, were completely self-contained, and had almost no contact with local inhabitants.[10]


Salaries were paid in Finnish currency, at four marks to the rouble, disbursed in gold. Quarters allowances depended on rank and family situation, so that bachelors received less than married officers of the same rank.


The 23rd Divison traveled to the village of Parol near Tavastehus for summer encampments, each brigade taking its turn, which is to say two regiments were in camp and the other brigade’s regiment were distributed for guard duties in Sveaborg, Helsingfors, and Viborg. For faultless discipline and appearance while in Helsingfors, and not causing anything to talk about—they were exemplary.


There were not many winter diversions in the city. There were infrequent evenings at the Åbo officers’ club, and sometimes public lectures were given there. There were two theaters—the Swedish Nya-Theater in a fine building in the center of town on the “esplanade,” and a Finnish theater on the Åbo highway past the barracks. In this last theater the now famous singer Alma Fostrem first appeared on stage in 1876. The building for a Russian dramatic theater had already been finished but in a rather deserted location. Meanwhile, in order to save costs while building this theater, the following original measures was employed, which turned out, however, to be far from inexpensive when all costs were totaled. In 1854 a squadron of the English fleet had seized the fortress of Bomarsund and its commandant, Bodisco, was taken prisoner. It was decided to use bricks from the ruins of this long-since decommissioned fortress and use them to build part of the theater. So loads of bricks, broken in half, of course, were carried to Helsingfors on barges towed by government and contracted steamers. As a result the supposedly economical became expensive.[11]


In summers our practice squadron usually visited Helsingfors and stood at anchor in the wide north harbor (Norra-hamn) and partly in the south harbor (Södra-hamn).


In addition to wonderful concerts in the Bruns-park[12] during the summer, there were many walking excursions on nearby islands (Hög-holmen and others), which could be reached by steam cutters and small steamboats that made frequent crossings and via the Åbo highway to the so-called “Alpine huts” (Alp-hyddan).


When four army corps were mobilized in 1876 for the expected war with Turkey, several officers of the general staff in the district received assignments to the active army that was being formed in the south.


On 11 January 1877 there took place a special ceremonial opening of the regular session of the Finland national assembly, or seim.[13] The ceremony began with a religious service in the massive but ungainly old Lutheran cathedral on Senate Square, followed by a message from the throne read by the governor-general in the throne room of the imperial palace, usually closed and sealed year round. It was also there, on 15 January, that a brilliant ball was held. It opened with a polonaise in which the first couple was Graf Adlerberg with the wife of the representative (talman) of the peasant estate, and the second was the graf’s wife with the talman.[14]


The speech from the throne, read in the palace’s throne room[15] was of course in Russian, and eventually translated into Swedish and Finnish in the governor-general’s chancellery, but for some reason Graf Adlerberg did not read it in Russian but in French. It was answered in French by the landmarshal (Baron Born, representative of the knightly class and nobility). The Lutheran bishop of Åbo and representative of the clerical estate, Berkenheim, also replied in French; the talman of the town dwellers, Burgomeister Frei, answered in Swedish, and finally representative Slotte of the peasant estate answered the speech in Finnish. Of course, everyone beginning with Graf Adlerberg listened attentively, yet understood nothing in Swedish and even more so in Finnish.[16] In accordance with established local legal procedures, all four estates met separately and only convened in joint sessions (plenum) from time to time.


The outbreak of war with Turkey at first had almost no effect on the region, and military units continued their activities as usual. But things changed at the beginning of the spring of 1878. Strained relations with Great Britain and the possibility of her intervention in the war in spite of the just concluded Treaty of San Stefano brought forth a series of hurried measures to defend the southern coast, strengthen Sveaborg and Viborg fortresses, fortify the positions around Helsingfors, establish an optical telegraph along the coast, prepare seabed mines as barriers, etc., etc. In fewer words, there began a fair amount of bustle as orders came down like hail, but the harbor was still closed by ice and whether one liked it or not, many of the proposed measures had to wait for navigation to open. Measures actually taken were limited to bringing munitions by rail from St. Petersburg to Viborg and Helsingfors, as well as various smaller items needed by the military. At the time the district chief of engineers was General Sederholm—the builder of the Kerch fortress.


As soon as the fields were clear of snow and navigation opened, the tempo of activity increased. Batteries were built on the island of Sandham and Drums, and the defensive works on the islands around the Sveaborg fortress were repaired where needed. Many reconnaissances were made to locate bivouacs and positions, etc. It was the same in Viborg. Lack of resources as well as inappropriate decisions led to defensive measures on Finland’s entire coastline being limited to the two fortresses and their closest environs and a few other points, and also the installation of seabed mines and pilings. Meanwhile navy ships delivered large-caliber coast-artillery guns with their ammunition. Unloading, moving, and installing these in the fortifications required much effort. I will note that several 11-inch guns were nevertheless not emplaced and continued to lie on their wooden frames near the pier on Aleksandrovsk Island at the Sveaborg fortress, due to concrete platforms not being ready for them. The defense of Sveaborg and the adjacent coastline was entrusted to Admiral Butakov 1st, who had been appointed chief of coast and sea defense and arrived in Helsingfors with a small, or more exactly—stage-play squadron, consisting mainly of old Baltic Fleet vessels (Petropavlosk, Sevastopol, and some others). Butakov had his admiral’s flag on the Petropavlovsk along with Rear-Admirals Kuzmin-Karavaev and Chebyshev with a few naval officers. There was also a specially formed staff for defense headed by General Vitmer. And in May a headquarters staff was formed for a Sveaborg Fortress Infantry Division [Sveaborgskaya krepostnaya pekhotnaya diviziya], but this formation was really only at cadre strength, consisting of four fortress battalions, and was not completely mobilized in view of the conclusion of the Congress of Berlin and peace with Turkey. In the operations cabin of the Petropavlovsk Admiral Butakov chaired many meetings on defense issues, attended by members of the defense staff and invited persons. In view of the fading danger of war with England, a Highest Order was received suspending all military preparations and disbanding defense staffs and the Sveaborg Fortress Infantry Division. The squadron returned to Kronstadt and the old peacetime life began again.


After six years I happened to serve a second short period in Finland when Graf Thedor Loginovich Heiden was now governor-general and commander of district forces, having previously been the longtime chief of the Main Staff. This honored government official was already advanced in years and distinguished, in short, by his good nature, correct bearing, and sympathy for every good cause. However, the regime in Finland and the relationship of its population—and especially of the truculent part of the local intelligentsia—to the Russians in general and our soldiers and Russian institutions in particular, was basically unchanged and remained the same as under Graf Adlerberg, which is to say dissatisfied with and sometime opposed to Russian national interests.[17]


In the spring of 1883 it was decided to relocate the 24th Infantry Division with its artillery from the St.-Petersburg Military District to the Finland Military District, to take over the barracks of the 23rd Infantry Division which in turn was to go to Yamburg, Narva, and Reval. It is not known what were the reasons for this action, which involved significant treasury expenditures and costs to the regiments’ internal economies, but possibly one of the reasons—in truth certainly the main one—was the excessively long stay of the 23rd Division in Finland. Whatever the case, in the summer of 1883 the 24th Division’s regiments were transferred to their new garrisons, partly by railway (through St. Petersburg) and partly by sea from Reval to Helsingfors. The two regiments quartered in Reval were carried along with their equipment in several trips on the battleships Pervenets and Kreml’ and the cruiser Yevropa.[18]


Upon arrival at their new locations regiments were distributed as follows: 93rd Irkutsk—in Fredrikshamn with one battalion in Kymmen; 94th Yeniseisk—in Viborg; 95th Krasnoyarsk—in Helsingfors, with one battalion in barracks in Tusby some four miles from the Kirov railroad station, and the 96th Omsk in Tavastehus with two battalions in Åbo and one on Aleksandrovsk Island at Sveaborg Fortress.


Of course, establishing the regiments in their new locations took a lot of time so that in the units there was no summer training to speak of. Service conditions and life in Finland were the same as before. Because of the demands of guard duties and the small size of the grounds at Parol (near Tavastehus) it was possible for only one brigade to hold its summer encampment. At the beginning of the summer of 1884, therefore, the 95th Krasnoyarsk and 96th Omsk Regiments, along with some batteries from the 24th Artillery Brigade, were sent to Parol.[19]


In 1885 the Main Staff laid down the basis for a special maritime reconnaissance along Finland’s southern coast and in the spring presented it to the district’s staff for further development and execution. The journey’s timing was planned to end one or one-and-a-half weeks before the expected arrival in Finland of Their Imperial Majesties. Two reconnaissance parties were organized—an eastern party under the control of General Timrot of the general staff for examining the coast from Helsingfors eastward to Kotka and Viborg, and a western one[20] for a similar survey from Helsingfors westward to Hangö, through Bare-sund and the Åbo skerries to Nodendal (near Åbo in the Gulf of Bothnia). A detailed operational program was worked out, as were march routes, stopping places, and shore landing sites for reconnaissance. Besides its leader, the western party consisted of three general-staff officers, a military engineer, an artillery officer who had completed the course at the Michael Artillery Academy, Captain 2nd Rank Kalugin (a specialist in mines), and an artillery officer familiar with Swedish and Finnish to act as a translator. Two small steamships were hired, of which the one for the western party—the Express—although it was not big, was sufficiently provided with several cabins and an operations room, and drew only six feet of water, which enabled it to pass through even small channels. Besides a pilot familiar with the gulf coast and skerries, the steamship had a crew of several sailors (Finns). A compass was the sole topographic instrument for the planned work.


After taking on a supply of coal, fresh water, and provisions, the steamship left Helsingfors in the morning of 20 June in perfect weather, heading first to Hangö.


Each day’s work included marking our route on the charts, entering observations in notebooks, examining the shoreline, selecting bivouac sites, positions and locations for batteries and barriers, etc. On a few days of bad or stormy weather, we had to remain at anchor, sheltered in the lee of a cliff on the shore of some skerry. Memorable was a daytime crossing across the open gulf in rain and a heavy swell as the ship rounded the Parkalaud cape (on the southern end of the Hangö peninsula), during which the steersman was naturally assisted by the respected Captain 2nd Rank Kalugin. The ships of Vice-Admiral Pilkin’s practice squadron were at the time at anchor in the wide harbor at Tvärminne. The admiral had his flag on the battleship Petr Velikii [Petr the Great], and when he appeared the party was invited to visit the gunboat Dozhd’, commanded by Captain 1st Rank Sidensna, and attend a commemoration on shore for the anniversary of the Battle of Gangeud.


With stops along the way for shore work, the steamer approached Hangö and Ekenes. Along the route we observed the well known iron and steel works at Fiskar. We passed by the skerries of picturesque Bare-sund in excellent weather.


Further on, after passing the Åbo skerries and Jungfer-sund, as well as through the Pargas gates via the narrow channel (Pargass-port), the steamer entered the mouth of the Aura River and anchored at Åbo where the itinerary specified a day’s halt.[21]


In a bookstore in the city we were able to obtain a fine map of the coastline, printed in Stockholm and in many ways more detailed than the “secret” charts sent by the hydrographic department, and on the return trip the party used the Swedish map exclusively. The crossing to Nodendal was short, and afterwards the ship returned to Helsingfors, arriving on 17 July. After a time a carefully written report with a mass of graphic appendices was submitted, but I do not know what kind of practical application it found.


At the end of July Their Imperial Majesties arrived at Helsingfors on the yacht Aleksandriya, where they visited local institutions and the Russian gymnasia (for boys, founded in 1870, and the Marie girls’ school, in existence since 1875). They also visited the Åbo barracks and officers’ club there, that in his own time Graf Totleben made so much effort to support. The Helsingfors roads was very lively. Besides commercial and private yachts, at that time there were anchored 28 vessels of the Baltic Fleet, including 5 battleships (Petr Velikii, Lazarev, Grieg, Spiridon, and Chichagov). At 5 P.M. on 29 July Their Majesties departed for Kronstadt on the yacht Derzhava.


L.L. Drake


[1] Smirnov’s article “Ugnetennaya strana,” in Novoe Vremya, 29 March 1908, No. 11511.

[2] M. Borodkin, the author of the solid and well-researched Istoriya Finlyandii vremeni Imperatora Aleksandra II, gives the following assessment of Graf N.V. Adlerberg 3rd’s activities as the governor-general of Finland (page 445): “In the Finnish reforms of Alexander II’s reign there was ‘no Russian spirit nor Russian feeling,’ mainly as a result of Finnish affairs being conducted exclusively by local officials, St.-Petersburg cosmopolitans, or entirely untalented representatives of Russia like Graf Adlerberg.” Later, on page 493 of his book the author says that “for fifteen years Graf Adlerberg was the Russian government’s sole influential representative in Finland and did not provide any substantial benefit to Russian state.”

[3] Nyland was the district that included Helsingfors (modern Helsinki) – M.C.

[4] In the beginning of the 1880s General-Adjutant Graf N.V. Adlerberg, no longer in office, settled abroad in Bavaria on the shores of picturesque Lake Tegern in the town of Tegernsee. He had his own villa which even had a house chapel. I happened to find this out by chance when in June 1892 I was personally in Tegernsee to arrange the transfer to Minsk of a coffin containing the remains of General E.V. Zhirzhinskii, commander of the 30th Division who had died there in Bavaria. At that time Graf Adlerberg was still living in Tegernsee but was already quite ill, so he was unable to accept my invitation to attend a prayer service at the local Catholic chapel on the day the late General Zhirzhinskii’s coffin was conveyed to the railway station. As an aside, I would mention that among the small number of persons I had invited to attend the prayer service was General-Adjutant P.A. Shuvalov, our ambassador to Berlin who was spending the summer with his family near Tegernsee.

[5] Apparently, Major General Schultz of the general staff, another native Finlander.

[6] According to the official organizational table of 1 January 1865, Finnish land forces consisted of their administration, the Life-Guards 3rd Finnish Rifle Battalion, and nine settled rifle battalions—at total of 149 officers and 4842 lower ranks. Finnish rifle battalions were formed in 1881 to replace the disbanded settled battalions in accordance with the 1878 ukase on obligatory military service. (See M. Borodkin’s Istoriya Finlyandii, pages 208 and 390.

[7] Even little things showed the special and alien character of the region. For instance, in the quartering lists submitted to the Main Staff each month, there was not one word about Finnish forces, as if there were none at all in the region. That information was submitted by the headquarters for Finnish forces (I don’t know in what language—probably in Swedish) directly to two(!) generals (native Finlanders), namely the governor-general’s liaison for Finnish military affairs and the minister of war’s own similar liaison officer, and from there the information (about the nine rifle battalions) finally reached the Main Staff. I note in this regard that the training of Finnish troops was conducted according to our regulations and all words of command were in Russian. There were requests, from “their” commanders, of course, through the state secretariat for Finland for the formation of “their own” (Finnish) cavalry and even artillery, but fortunately these requests were rebuffed. Nevertheless, after a little while a six-squadron Finnish dragoon regiment was formed. To tell the truth, it was a fine and well-founded unit, but it did not last long, and now the only things left from these Finnish troops are memories, barracks (occupied in part by the rifle regiments of the 1st and 2nd Finnish Brigades, and the 20th Dragoon Regiment), and a monument on the Parolaks parade field near Tavastehus.


In 1890, even in the Gotha Almanac, Finland was put apart from Russia, which was noted in the Hufvudstadbladet newspaper. (Sobranie sochinenii po Finlyandii, Vol. 1, 1908, page 107. Compiled by K. F. Ordin.)


Furthermore, in a 1908 calendar distributed by the newspaper St.-Petersburger Zeitung (Zwölfter Jahrgang. Kalendar 1908. Jahrbuch der S.-Petersburger Zeitung) on page 88, under the caption “Die Regierende Fürsten, Regenten und Staatsoberhäupter sammtlicher Staaten,” there was the following:

                Russland—Kaiser Nikolaus II (and the date of his ascension to the throne)”

                Finnland—Grossfürst Nikolaus II”

Further on, in the same font, “Buchara—Seid Emir Abdul Ahad” and “Chiva.” In short, in a calendar published in St. Petersburg Finland was included as an “independent country” (Staat).

[8] Helsingfors in its present location arose in 1639 during the reign of Queen Christiana. The Sveaborg strongpoints on the cliffs commanding the narrow entrances to the Helsingfors harbor were built by Count Ehrensvärd in 1749 and succeeding years. In March of 1808 Helsingfors was captured by Russian forces and the fortress capitulated (Puteshestvie po Finlyandii, by Topelius, 1875, page 39). The location occupied by the Sveaborg fortifications played an important role long before the fortress was built here, namely in the first half of the 18th century. In particular, its significance was made clear in 1713 when Peter the Great occupied Helsingfors, and measures to fortify it were taken under General-Admiral Graf Apraksin (K uprazdneniyu Sveaborga; by Ya. V—r, in Novoe Vremya, 5 October 1907, No. 11338).

[9] In the same vein were affairs regarding the Sveaborg fortress. Thus, during the 1877-78 war, talk arose regarding augmenting the fortress armament and its ability to defend Helsingfors city, and the question once again surfaced of enforcing the military council’s prohibition of sailing and fishing in Sveaborg waters. But the Finland senate refused to approve the engineer administration’s recommendation and thus the fortress authorities were deprived of the possibility, in case of war, of taking protective measures against waterborne spies acting under the guise of fishermen. (According to M. Borodkin’s Istoriya Finlyandii, vremen Aleksandra II, page 439).

Judging from an article by G Brut (Programma novago sudostroeniya, published in Novoe Vremya, 15 February 1909, No. 11828), defenses in certain areas near the Sveaborg fortress were still of a rough nature even in very recent times (in 1903).

[10] In 1876 an exhibit was opened in Helsingfors in the Bruns-park. Graf Adlerberg inaugurated it with a speech in French, and the Finnish national hymn Vårt land was sung. Thus, says M. Borodkin, the author of Istoriya Finlyandii (pages 266 and 360), “the Russian governor-general opened the exhibit in the language of diplomacy and did not take the trouble to see to it that the delivery of his speech was accompanied by the sounds of the Russian national anthem.”

The publication of the Finlyandskaya gazeta in Russian began only under the late governor-general N.I. Bobrikov, which is to say relatively recently. (Sobranie sochinenii po Finlyandii, compiled by K.F. Ordin, Vol. 1, page 121, 1908.)

[11] This theater was built with government funds and cost more than 700,000 marks. Although it was intended for Russian presentations, it theatrical debut was an Italian opera, and then the theater was transferred to a Swedish entrepreneur (M. Borodkin’s Istoriya Finlyandiya, page 471).

According to the treaty of 3 April 1856, it was forbidden to rebuild the fortifications (Voina 1854-55 g.g. na Finskom poberezh’i, M. Borodkin, page 177). We would add to this that the Aland fortifications (in Bomarsund) were laid down by Governor-General Zakrevskii. When Prince Menshikov saw the inappropriateness of the project, he explained to Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich the uselessness of these fortifications. After speaking with the Sovereign, the Grand Duke then told Menshikov, “Vos observations sont justes—mais… s’est trop tard,” although at the time only the foundations had been laid. (Zapiski senatora K.I. Fischer, in Istoricheskii Vestnik, July 1908, page 68.)

[12] In the evenings, the band of the Life-Guards 3rd Finnish Rifle Battalion (now disbanded) gave concerts in the Bruns-park. Pieces by Russian composers were played very rarely, but the Finnish national hymn “Vårt land” was often heard, as well as Swedish marches especially beloved by the public—“Bemeborg” and “Gustav Adolf.”

[13] The first seim after the joining of Finland to Russia in 1809 was convoked in 1863. At the opening of the 1867 seim this same Graf Adlerberg 3rd read the speech from the throne in Russian. The landmarshal at the time, Baron Nordenstam (a Russian general-adjutant!) replied to speech in French. (From M. Borodkin’s Istoriya Finlyandii, page 272).

[14] Another interesting aspect was that following local custom, at the very beginning of the ball fruits and wine were served accompanied by trays of small glasses filled with the much-loved hot raspberry and Swedish punches (Hallonpunsch and Swensk-punsch)—very delicious drinks, but in large doses it made one’s legs quite unsteady.

[15] The throne in this hall was first delivered to Borgo from Moscow in 1809. Later, before the first seim of 1863 it was sent to the imperial palace in Helsingfors (Istoriya Finlyandii, M. Borodkin, page 165).

[16] According to Article 5 of the seim’s decree of 3 April 1869, regarding ceremonies, the landmarshal and vitse-landmarshal swear allegiance to the governor-general (representing the person of the Russian sovereign) in Swedish, which is to say, a language he did not understand. (Sobranie sochinenii po FInlyandii, compiled by K.F. Ordin. Vol. 1, 1908. page 94.)

[17] Graf Adlerberg 3rd was released from service in 1881 with a rather dry expression of the tsar’s “favorable inclination.” (Istoriya Finlyandii, M. Borodkin, page 498.)

One example of the local press’s hostility toward our troops quartered in Finland is the following: “In 1887 there was a fire in Fredrikshamn. Part of the 93rd Irkutsk Infantry Regiment, quartered there, were called out to help fight the fire and protect civilians, but soon, aided by fanciful writing by a correspondent of the Hufwudstadtsbladet, all of Finland was abuzz with how during the fire the Russian regiment busied itself with pilfering rather than saving lives.” (Sobranie sochinenii po Finlyandii, by K.F. Ordin, 1908 ed., Vol. 1, page 120.)

[18] As an example here are the details of transporting the 95th Krasnoyarsk Infantry Regiment from Reval to Helsingfors: The 1st and 3rd Battalions with divisional and regimental headquarters were carried in two trips by the cruiser Yevropa, the 2nd Battalion with four companies of the 4th Battalion were on the battleship Ne tron’ menya, likewise in two trips, and finally, the 16th Company, regimental supply train, and all equipment and supplies—on the battleship Kreml’. The men were put on the ships’ decks while officers and their families occupied cabins. Meals were cooked in the ships’ steam kettles. The weather was stormy so that completing the 50-mile voyage between the two cities took, for example, a full twenty-four hours by the Kreml’. (From Istoriya 95 pekhotnago Krasnoyarskago polka, by V. Kryuchkov, 1897, page 378.)

[19] According to Topelius’ work (Puteshestvie po Finlyandii, 1875, page 77), the military grounds at Parol (Parol-malm) were already known at the time of Gustav III as an encampment site and training area for the Finnish army, and it was on this field in 1782 that the king fell from his horse during a review, breaking his leg. On the Parolaks military grounds on 17 July 1863, Emperor Alexander II held a review of the Finnish settled troops [finskiya poselennyya voiska] which had been formed in 1854 and whose officers, in memory of the final review of the Finnish army(!) erected a monument in the form of a bronze lion that is still on the Parolaks grounds today. Under the command of General Willebrand, troops taking part were the Guards Finnish Rifle Battalion, the 2nd Battalion of the Viborg Infantry Regiment, nine Finnish settled rifle battalions (each of 350 riflemen), No. 2 Finland Rifled Battery, and one sotnia of Don Cossack Regiment No. 16. As an aside, on the day of the review Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich was appointed honorary colonel [chef] of the 6th Tavastehus Settled Battalion. (“Iz dnevnika N.P. Litvinova,” in Istoricheskii Vestnik, March 1907, pages 792-794.)

[20] Under my direction.

[21] This city, the second most populous in Finland and much more ancient than Helsingfors, is pleasingly situated on the banks of the Aura River. It is the permanent residence of the head of Finland’s Lutheran clergy—the archbishop of Åbo. In the city is Finland’s oldest castle, recalling the era of the crusades. It was built of granite and brick on a sheer cliff. In the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries it was the residence of the territory’s governor. The noteworthy cathedral in Åbo was for many centuries the country’s religious center. As an aside, in Swedish the name Åbo is pronounced “Obo” and in Finnish the town is called Turku.

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Translated by Mark Conrad, 2006.