Anecdotes Regarding General Thedorenko.

By Teobal’d.

[Note by the translator: in each of these anecdotes, note the writer’s attempt to mimic Thedorenko’s Ukrainian accent.]

(From Russkii Arkhiv, Vol. 24, 3/1886, 266-67.)

In the 1840s and ‘50s, the commandant of the Novo-Georgievsk Fortress [near Warsaw] was Lieutenant General Thedorenko of the artillery. He was an Little Russian [Maloross, or Ukrainian] who played himself up as an eccentric, but basically he was a smart, good, and honorable man. Emperor Nicholas had a deep affection for him.

It happened that Thedorenko had been called to St. Petersburg and stayed there until Easter. On that day the Sovereign decorated him with the order of the White Eagle. In accordance with longtime custom, Thedorenko was to be at the Winter Palace at the break of dawn wearing the ribbon of this order, sent to him beforehand. Thedorenko, however, appeared in the ribbon of the order of St. Anne. The Sovereign noticed this and, supposing that Thedorenko did not yet know of his award, asked him as he gave him the customary Easter kiss, "I gave thee the White Eagle. Didst thou receive it?"

"I reeceeved it, Your Majestee. But what do I feed it weeth?"

The Sovereign broke out laughing and assigned Thedorenko a 12-year annuity according to rank.

[The joke of this story is that new members of a knightly order had to pay an initiation fee and subsequent annual dues to fund the order’s expenses and charitable activities – M.C.]


Another time, the Sovereign advised him to take a look at the newly refurbished Artillery School. Now, one must note that not long before this, Thedorenko’s son had been dismissed from the school for some reason or other.

"And why would I go theere," answered Thedorenko, "seence that’s wheere they drive out Thedorenko’s?"


A young officer was sent on detached duty from Warsaw to Novogeorgievsk with a party of new draftees. On appearing before the commandant, he presented his party. Thedorenko was pleased to find them in excellent order. He thanked the officer and invited him to tea. After the second glass, Thedorenko asked, " And so, captain, weel you bee a major soon?"

"If you please, your excellency, I still have far to go to become a major. I’m only an ensign."

Thedorenko jumped up. "What? An enseegn? But your rank star, wheere is your star?"

"I’m at fault, your excellency, I didn’t affix them."

"Enseegn! So you’re an enseegn! And I thought that you weere a capteen! I’ll have you know I have neever in my life drunk tea with enseegns! Get out of here!"

And the ensign took himself away without finishing his tea.


Thedorenko had a great friendship with his countryman Lieutenant General Malinovskii, commander of the 4th Infantry Division. One time, before the latter’s departure for Little Russia, Thedorenko asked that he bring back some Little Russian suet for him . When Malinovskii returned to Warsaw, he sent Thedorenko several pounds of quality suet through his senior adjutant, Staff-Captain Baibakov, who was also a Little Russian (Baibak). Before leaving for Novo-Georgievsk, Baibakov tasted the suet along with his assembled comrades. All tried it and praised the quality. On arriving in Novo-Georgievsk, there were also comrades who began to taste and praise the suet, sampling it until there was only an embarrassingly meager remnant left to give to Thedorenko, so Baibakov took it with him back to Warsaw.

Several months passed. Malinovskii traveled to Novo-Georgievsk to inspect the Belozersk Regiment and took Baibakov with him. After dinner with Thedorenko, the host asked Malinovskii, "And so, countreeman, you promeesed to breeng me some of our Ukrainian suet. Deed you breeng it, then?"

"What? You didn’t get it? I sent it to you through Baibakov! Nikolai Filimonovich, what did you do with that suet?"

Baibakov stood up, turned red as a steamed crab, and shifted from one foot to the other, unable to answer.

"You are bad, countreeman, bad!" said Thedorenko, turning to Malinovskii. "So you found someone to trust weeth the suet! A topknot![*] Deed you theenk he wasn’t going to eat it? He deed eat it! Ate it up! Of course a topknot would eat it!"

[*] Khokhol, nickname for Ukrainians, after the old cossack custom of shaving the head bald except for a topknot – M.C.


Soon after the famous hero of the Caucasus wars, Yevdokimov, was awarded the noble title of Graf, this was the subject of table talk at the commander-in-chief’s in Warsaw. One of the generals noted that Yevdokimov was very flattered to have risen from a low rank to that of Graf.

"For Yevdokimov the word Graf is not entirely a rarity," Thedorenko responded. "He has a brother named Yevgraf, another brother who’s a topographer, and third who’s a lithographer." [In Russian, Yevgraf, topograf, and litograf – M.C.]


 Correction Regarding General Thedorenko

(From Russkii Arkhiv Vol. 24, 3/1886, pages 517-18.)

In Book 10 of this year’s Russkii Arkhiv, Mr. Teobal’d presented several anecdotes about my father, General Thedorenko, including one about the order of the White Eagle and an annuity. It appears Mr. Teobal’d did not know my father personally and thus ascribed to him an anecdote that happened with another general whom I know.

My father enjoyed the especially kind regard of the late Emperor Nicholas, and in his unbounded devotion to him considered any attention on the part of the Sovereign to be the greatest honor. With his character and well-known modesty, he would never have dared to solicit an award, having received the greater part of his decorations for military distinction. [Persons awarded membership in a knightly order for their military actions did not have to pay the order’s initiation fees and dues – M.C.] The order of the White Eagle was awarded to my father in 1852 to mark fifty years of service. At that time he was commandant of the Novo-Georgievsk Fortress. Two years before this, after being stricken with paralysis, through the Sovereign Emperor’s special kindness he was kept as commandant with Lieutenant General Ivin assigned to him as an assistant. On the day before, 29 June, General-Field Marshal Prince Paskevich ordered me to appear before him in the morning (at that time I was an adjutant on the prince’s staff), at which time he gave me the medal of the order of the White Eagle and a laudatory official letter sent beforehand by the Sovereign, so that I could immediately take the award to Novo-Georgievsk.

As for his annuity, my father received that as one of several awards for the taking of Warsaw (which is to say 21 years before) when he was a major general and commander of the 2nd Artillery Division, which thundered against the Wola fortifications at half the range of canister shot.

Colonel Mikhail Thedorenko, retired.
Warsaw, 22 October 1886.


Translated by Mark Conrad, 2000.