Military Service of the Vitebsk Regiment, 1815-1855
(This is a translation of pages 228-299 of Boevaya Sluzhba 27-go Pekhotnago Vitebskago Polka, 1700-1903 g. by Lieutenant Colonel M. Galkin of the General Staff, published in Moscow in 1908. The University of Michigans Russian History and Culture microfiche series has reprinted this book as item RH08213. The section selected for translation covers the history of the regiment from its return from France in 1815 at the end of the Napoleonic Wars to its departure for Poland during the 1863 revolt, and includes the 1828-1829 war with Turkey, the Polish revolt in 1831, the Hungarian intervention of 1849, and the Crimean War. ---- Mark Conrad, 1992)
(page 228) ...On 6 June, 1815, the destiny of the Emperor of the French was decided once and for all on the fields of Waterloo. Napoleon ceased to figure in history. The English took care to arrange the personal life of the great man so that his return to France would be impossible. The island of St. Helena was chosen as the refuge for the military geniuss last years. From now on Europe could be at peace. For the powers the last cannon shot of the Battle of Waterloo heralded the first day of a newly arrived long and firm peace. The troops were halted. The great epoch of the Napoleonic Wars was over.
In the first days of July the Vitebtsy arrived at Vertu where the entire Russian army was concentrating. A grand ceremony was prepared as Emperor Alexander I decided to present his glorious army to Europe for judgement. A HIGHEST review was ordered to be held on 15 July on the fields of Champagne near the hill of Mont-Eme, in which our predecessors were worthy to take part. At this grandiose ceremony there were in formation: 87 generals, 4413 field and company-grade officers, and 146,045 lower ranks.
On 29 August, the anniversary of Borodino, the Emperor carried out a repetition of the review. At six oclock in the morning the army formed up with the right flank on the village of Bergere, facing the heights of Mont-Eme. In the center was the 5th Infantry Corps under the command of Lieutenant General Saken, consisting of the 26th, 12th, and 15th Divisions (with the Vitebtsy in the last). Command signals were given by shots from cannons set up on Mont-Eme. This second review took place on 29 August and indeed in the presence of the allied monarchs, the King of Prussia and the Emperor of Austria. Alexander I himself delivered the respectful reports to his crowned friends. At the first signals the troops greeted their Sovereign with a triple "hurrah", and a rolling fire issued from all batteries, twelve shots by each gun. At the last signal the mass of 150,000 men moved as one. This was the grandest moment. It could not be believed that these were the same troops whose lot encompassed so much fighting and continuous hardship. The ceremonial march began. The bright appearance of the troops uniforms and equipment, their cheerful look, the quickness and regularity of their formations were all the object of general admiration. All Europe was gazing on them. The flower of the military castes of almost all the powers was on hand. There was no other opinion. The Russian forces were unanimously recognized as worthy of full approval.
The next day, on the nameday of the Emperor, the entire Russian army attended prayers to the All-Highest for the health and salvation of the Sovereign. On the plain opposite the heights of Mont-Eme six mobile campaign churches were set up in large tents, and though there were 150,000 men deployed around the churches, during the holy service there prevailed a reverential silence, interupted only by the chanting of the priests. Our Vitebtsy prayed with a feeling of true reverence. The eleven years of hard military service were over. The successes of Russian arms were without equal. The flags proudly waved in front of the regimentsilent witnesses to its glory. The service ended and the troops dispersed. That same evening the regiment heard the following important HIGHEST order:
"The treachery and perfidious plots of the enemy against the general peace brought you, brave soldiers, again to those fields where, a short year before this, you seized victory over the foe and, following on his heels, laid a road for yourselves to Paris. Thanks be to the All-Highest, your bravery, known by the whole world, did not have to undergo new trials, since the measures taken by the allied powers put an complete stop to Napoleon Bonapartes audacity before your help was needed on the field of battle, and he himself entered into captivity. Nevertheless, by your speedy march from the Danube and Dvina to the Seine you showed that the peace of Europe is not a concern unknown to Russia and that, heedless of any distance, you are ready at the call of Fatherland and Tsar to appear anywhere where justice must triumph. Letting you return now to the beloved Fatherland, it gives me pleasure to express to you who have served with me my gratitude for your effort and for that perfection which I found while reviewing your ranks on the fields of Champagne. This review, where under the eyes of the allied Sovereigns and their military leaders the regiments and artillery vied with each other in appearance, drill movements, and perfection in clothing and accouterments, will always remain a memorial to you. I also thank you for maintaining strict discipline and for your good behavior in foreign lands, which is affirmed by the inhabitants themselves. To the Commander-in-Chief of the armies, General Field Marshal Prince Barclay-de-Tolly, I express my special gratitude for the troops led by him being so well-organized. Equallyto the corps commanders Generals Dokhturov, Baron von der Osten-Saken 1st, Raevskii, Baron Vintsigeroda; to Lieutenant Generals Diebitsch as Chief of Staff of the army, Prince Yashvil as Chief of Artillery, corps commanders Sabaneev, Yermolov, and Graf von der Pahlen lst; to all the esteemed divisional and brigade generals and those assigned to divisional commanders; also, to the regimental and company commanders, and all the field and company-grade officers and lower ranks. May the blessing of the Everlasting accompany you on your return journey as well as may His mighty right hand; having protected you from the overpowering evils attendant on war, now show you the way to the bosoms of your families. May we enjoy His favor, always remembering His holy law, and may Gods mercy be our help everywhere, for we always set our hopes on Him."
The Emperor appropriately valued the feats of his army. The victorious forces, knowing they had irreproachably fulfilled their duty, returned to Russia. In September they had received the route of march back to their native land (through Saint-Avold - Pont-a-Mousson - Nomeny - Saargemund - Bamberg - Hof - Görlitz - Breslau - Volborg - Novoe mesto - Radom - Ustilug - Novgorod-Volynskii - Zhitomir - Kiev - Lubny).
It was only on 28 January, 1816, that our predecessors arrived at their quarters in the city of Lubny. A peaceful period began in the life of the regiment. From Feodosiya to Italy, from Italy to Varna, from Varna to Minsk, from Minsk to the banks of the Rhein, from there to Paris, then from Paris to the territory of the Duchy of Warsaw, from there again to the French capital, and finally to Lubny. This was the march, gradiose in length, which was carried out by the Vitebsk Regiment in the first half of Emperor Alexander Is reign. Though this geographic resume may be short, in content and emotion it is full. Tramping under arms for twelve years all over Europe, taking part in a whole series of fights and battles, in skirmishes and actions under the most varied of conditionsin front of these deeds, which deserve great respect, even the first years of the regiments life in the glorious epoch of the wars of the Great Reformer pale in comparison. Our heroes irreproachably served Emperor Alexander Ieach did his bit as best he could for this holy effort. And during this period of war the rare and priceless innate military characteristics of the Vitebsk hero were clearly highlighted for us, all the way from the private soldier to the head of the regiment, inclusive. Self-sacrificing to the point of completely forgetting oneself in the name of the glory and honor of the native land, scorning danger, heedless of obstacles, decisive, stubborn, and enduring in extremely hard circumstances (for example, as during the terrible day at Champaubert), and finally their selfless couragethese are the excellent qualities which are innate to the Vitebsk Regiment. And with such a unit it was possible to perform miracles.
The life and service of the regiment from 1804 to 1816 had great military-educational significance not only for the next generation of Vitebtsy, but also for those in the future. This era is worthy of careful study and a detailed history of the regiment cannot neglect this period.
Having arrived in their native land, the Vitebtsy stayed in Lubny for a whole year. In the beginning of 1817 the deployment of the army was changed and the regiment was assigned new quarters in Novomir in Kherson Province. The new quartering arrangements were distinguished by many shortcomings. Not only was the shortage of quarters felt, but the regiment was distributed in the local area where the villagers as well as the townsfolk were distinguished by their poverty, and the military quartering made their situation still worse. In September of 1820 the regiment was transferred to Kiev Province, namely to Chernigov and the surrounding towns. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were settled in their assigned places while the 2nd was detached from the regiment and assigned to the military settlements, being quartered in Mogilev. Each year from this time until the dissolution of the military colonies, one of the regiments battalions in turn had to be sent to the region where the military settlements were quartered.
Since the end of the year there were rumors that there soon might be a break with Turkey, which was always trying to violate the provisions of the Treaty of Bucharest.
Our government was so certain of war that already in March of 1821 some of the corps were mobilized, including General Raevskiis 4th Corps to which the Vitebtsy were assigned. With this, the regiment quit the ranks of the 15th Division and went over to the 10th, joining the Smolensk, Mogilev, and Polotsk Regiments. From this day forwards, our predecessors were never separated from these units.
The political situation became so intense that an order to set off on the march could be expected any day. Fortunately everything settled downthe Sublime Porte was obliged to accept the conditions presented by Emperor Alexander I in concert with the allied monarchs of France, Prussia, and Austria. However, as we shall see below, this was only a postponement. War was declared all the same, but only under the new Emperor Nicholas I.
In 1824 the Vitebtsy again changed their station and were located in Poltava Province, with the 2nd Battalion joining the regiment and the 3rd taking its place in the settled troops region.
In February of 1825 our predecessors took over guard duties in Kiev and then moved into quarters in the town of Borispol.
On 19 November, 1825, Emperor Alexander I died. Emperor Nicholas ascended to the throne.
St. Petersburg had just received the news that Emperor Alexander I had passed away when Grand Duke Nicholas Pavlovich immediately swore loyalty to brother Constantine. Among those who first took the oath with him were the guards at the Winter Palace, followed by the entire army. Under the late Emperor, however, Constantine Pavlovich had already renounced the throne in favor of his brother. But this important government act had not been announced in time and it was only on 14 December that there appeared a manifesto of Emperor Nicholas Pavlovichs ascension to the throne. This served as a signal for the rather numerous party of conspirators. A mutiny broke out which lasted a whole day and was only put down in the evening by force of arms. This was a sad event for Russia in general and our army in particular, since among the conspirators there were a significant number of the best representatives of our native aristocracy. Officers of many of the army regiments were also involved. Fortunately for our predecessors there were no such men in the Vitebsk Regiment. All was quiet. The lower ranks as well as the officers took the oath to the new Emperor immediately upon receipt of the HIGHEST Manifesto. At this time the head of the regiment was Colonel Ivan Nikolaevich Khotyanitsev, who in 1820 had been named commander in place of Dunaev, who had retired.
Khotyanitsev commanded the regiment for six years. Ill health, a result of a wound he had received in the 1807 campaign, did not allow him to continue service with an active unit. In 1826 he left the regiment after handing it over to Colonel Matvei Savinovich Yermolaev. A Chevalier of the Order of St. George, awarded a gold sword along with medals for distinction in battle and, by HIGHEST favor, a diamond finger-ring, having many times received the appreciation of the late Emperorsuch was the new commander of the Vitebtsy. His military service record was a long list of the endless campaigns in which he had taken part. In the course of his career two wounds and the awards listed above were the fruits of his service. Such leadership suited the spirit of our heroes. Colonel Yermolaev was reminiscent of the hero Terne, so close to the heart of every Vitebets. The service records of both were similar so it is not surprising that our predecessors gladly and optimistically greeted their new leader
The first three years of Emperor Nicholas Is reign passed peacefully for the regiment. The Vitebtsy, as before, were quartered in Borispol, and were only sent to the Bobruisk Fortress for a few months of guard duty. But this peaceful interlude did not last long and in 1828 hard times again arrived for our heros.
The political complications with Turkey, which had already begun during the time of the late Sovereign, continued. On 25 September, 1826, a convention was concluded with the Porte whereby all the conditions of the Peace of Bucharest were confirmed. A year later, at the suggestion of England, an agreement was signed between Russia, France, and the London cabinet by which these powers were to undertake measures to pacify the insurgent Greeks by means of mediation between them and Turkey. But the brutality of the Turks did not stop. It became necessary to use the force of arms. On 8 September, 1827, the united allied squadrons destroyed the Turkish-Egyptian fleet, to which the Porte answered with a manifesto calling all Moslems to a holy war against Russia. Conflict became inevitable and on 14 April, 1828, Emperor Nicholas I ordered the armies to occupy Moldavia. The campaign was conducted in the Asiastic theater as well as the European. The Vitebtsy were active in the second of these, and therefore we will dwell in detail on the operations in European Turkey.
A year before the manifesto the inevitability of a break with the Porte was so apparent that at that time the 2nd Army was formed under the command of Field Marshal Graf Wittgenstein from forces quartered in Bessarabia and New Russia and strengthened with some reinforcements. The army numbered 75,000 men. For the Asiastic theater there was assigned an army of 14,000 under the command of General Paskevich of Erivan (a former commander of the Vitebtsy). As before, the regiment was part of the 10th Infantry Division which was commanded by Lieutenant General Svechin. Leading the brigade was Major General Kupriyanov who was destined, as we shall see below, to play an prominent part in the actions at Pravody. The division belonged to the forces of the 3rd Infantry Corps which was commanded by Lieutenant General Rudzevich.
According to the campaign plan put together by Chief of Staff Diebitsch, Graf Wittgensteins army was to cross the Prut River and direct the 7th Corps to take Brailov while the 6th was to occupy Walachia and cover the fortresses of Vidin and Rushchuk. After having crossed the Danube near Isakchi the 3rd Corps was tasked to take the fortresses in Dobrudzha and thenafter being joined by the 7th Corps and other reinforcementsadvance to the Lesser Balkans, i.e. to Shumla and Varna.
In the second half of March the Vitebsk Regiment marched out of Borispol and moved to Kiev, where it arrived on 1 April, numbering two battalions (the 3rd Battalion was detached to Kherson as part of the forces of the military settlements).
The regimental commander, Colonel Yermolaev, did not go on campaign with the regimentthe breakdown of his health as a result of the wounds he had received forced him off active service. A HIGHEST order of 7 March named Colonel Fedor Leontevich Belegovich to command the Vitebtsy. The new commander was a longtime officer of the Ryazan Infantry Regiment and had served with them for over twenty years. He was a veteran of all the wars of the Napoleonic era and had received two promotions for distinction in battles and several decorations for military service, including a gold sword and the Order of St. Vladimir Fourth Class with Ribbon. Thus, this was a field-grade officer who was militarily experienced in addition to being well-educated and fluent in foreign languages. The new commander only arrived at the regiment in the middle of May, so the Vitebtsy were led out on campaign by the senior field-grade officer in the division, Lieutenant Colonel Gribskii of the Polotsk Infantry Regiment. The regiment left Borispol with the following strength:
Numerical data regarding the train which followed the regiment are very interesting. There were forty wagons in all, as follows:
|Pay chest 1||Cartridge chests 8|
|Tent chests 10||Tool wagon 1|
|Apothecarys chest 1||Ordinary wagon for vinegar and spirits 1|
|Train with provisions 16||Field smithy 1|
Compared with the oganization of circa 1900, the train was significantly more mobile.
In Kiev, Lieutenant Colonel Gribskii received the continuation of the route of march to follow to Mogilev and further on to Izmail. In all, 450 miles lay before the Vitebtsy, divided into 32 stages which averaged 15 miles in every twenty-four hours.
On 14 May the regiment, in complete order with a small number of sick, arrived at Izmail where all the troops of the 3rd Infantry Corps were to concentrate. Emperor Nicholas I was already with the army. The Sovereign had reviewed the 6th and 7th Corps which had arrived on the Danube earlier, and now it was the turn of Lieutenant General Rudevichs corps. The Tsars review took place on 21 May, 26 miles from Izmail on a large plain that sloped down slightly to the shore of Lake Yalpukh. The Vitebtsy were the first to have the honor of seeing the new Emperor. The review went brilliantly. The Sovereign was extremely pleased and honored Colonel Belegovich with HIGHEST gratitude. Later a monument was erected on that spot where the regiment presented itself to its Monarch. On it was the following inscription: "The Sovereign Emperor of All the Russians, Nicholas I, in the presence of representatives of other powers, from this spot was pleased to review the all-Russian troops who crossed the Danube on 21 May of the year 1828." This monument was in the form of a small white stone pillar surrounded by a wall and ditch and was maintained and kept up by the local authorities of the city of Belgrade.
By the time the Vitebsk Regiment was approaching the Danube, the situation was as follows: Turkish forces located in Constantinople and the Dardanelles - 37,000; in Adrianople - 30,000; in Shumla and Varna - about 20,000; in Dobrudzha and the fortresses on the lower Danube - up to 30,000; and in other regions - 36,000.
As for our side, two corpsthe 6th and the 7thcrossed the frontier and with almost no opposition occupied the principalities of Moldavia and Walachia and invested Brailov. This then was the situation for both sides when Lieutenant General Rudzevich advanced to the Danube. A crossing at the village of Satunovo was planned. The selected point was the most favorable but presented significant tactical shortcomings. The left bank of the river was marshy and covered with reeds so a fascine way had to be laid to reach the river. This was about three miles long and took two weeks to build. Thirty thousand lower ranks worked on it so it was impossible to conceal these preparations. The Turks heavily fortified the opposite bank. On 25 May the fascine way was completed. Two days later Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich arrived at Satunovo and the crossing began in the following order: jägers of the 9th Infantry Division and behind them the 2nd Brigade of that division, upon which fell the entire burden of forcing the river. Behind the indicated units came the 1st Brigade of the 9th Division and the 7th and 10th Divisions. As the Vitebtsy made their crossing they moved toward the fortress at Isakchi. The enemy withdrew without a shot, evacuating the fortress. The regiment, advancing further without stopping, arrived at the town of Babadag on 3 June. In order to secure further operations it was necessary to take a series of Danube fortresses: Machin, Girsovo, and Shumla. Small columns were sent to these points, but the Vitebsk Regiment did not take part in these expeditions.
It was no less important to take Kyustendzhi, which would allow free communications with our southern ports and secure the transport of supplies by sea. With this in mind the Smolentsy and Mogilevtsy as well as the jägers of the 10th Division were sent from Babadag to Kyustendzhi. They were joined by the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Hussar Division, one heavy artillery company and one light, and six horse-artillery guns. This column was under Lieutenant General Rediger. The forces listed, until the receipt of new directives, formed the vanguard of the 3rd Infantry Corps, so they had to be replaced by new units under the command of General-Adjutant Potemkin, namely:
2nd Brigade of the 10th Infantry Division (the Vitebtsy and the Polotsk
Light No. 2 Company of the 10th Brigade
1st Brigade of the 3rd Hussar Division
1/2 battery of the No. 6 Horse Company
A sotnia of the Life-Guards Ataman Regiment
However, such a division of forces inevitably weakened the main strength of the corps, and the Sovereign gave the order to concentrate at positions at Karasu and wait until the separate columns which had been sent out completed their assigned missions.
Victories quickly followed one after the other: on 6 June Machin was taken, on the 7th Brailov fell, on the 11th Girsovo surrendered, and Kyustendzhi on the 12th. At each newly won success of our arms, the Sovereign Emperor personally traveled to the troops with his personal chaplain and court choir to attend a thanksgiving service.
At the end of the divine service the Sovereign thanked the troops. He also said, referring to the 3rd Infantry Corps, "I am sure that you will also distinguish yourselves when it is your turn." The Vitebtsy used the halt in Babadag to replenish their provisions. Returning from Kyustendzhi, General Rediger took command of the vanguard. The corps advanced from Babadag to Bazardzhik, heading toward the Shumla Fortress.
The march was hard. In particular, the enervating heat and lack of water weighed heavily on our predecessors. There were very few wells along the route so that there would be only one for the whole regiment, or rarely two. Suffering from the long crossing of the plains and burning up with the unbearable heat, the Vitebtsy, when they arrived at their overnight site, spent the whole night looking for water instead of resting. The great depth of the wells made the matter still worse. There was no rope, and the lower ranks were getting water with canteens and pots. As our troops approached, the settlements along the line of march were abandoned by their inhabitants, who drove their cattle off with them and took away their food supplies. Thus, it turned out to be impossible to rely on local resources. Everything had to be carried along, which naturally had a detrimental effect on the mobility of the forces. With great effort our predecessors reached Bayardzhik on 27 June and stopped to bivouac a few miles from there. The younger men curiously looked over the surrounding area, knowing from the older veterans that eighteen years before under Paskevich the regiment had experienced glorious days at this fortress. In the regiment there were several men who had taken part in those notable events. Endless stories of the glorious past were told and retold in camp By the evening of that same day it became known that the Vitebtsy would be detached from the corps and given a special assignment. Colonel Belegovich announced to the officers that on the following day they would advance to Varna. For operations at that place a column was formed under the command of General-Adjutant Graf Sukhtelen, consisting of:
The Vitebsk and Polotsk Regiments
Light Company No. 2
1st Bug Lancer Regiment
1st Squadron of the 2nd Bug Lancer Regiment
100 cossacks of Stunachevskiis Regiment
2 companies of the 4th Pioneer Battalion
If it turned out to be possible, these troops were to seize the fortress. If not, they were to make contact with the forces under Menshikov, who was to come to Varna by ship after the brilliant conquest of Anapa.
Thus, the regiments area of operation turned out to be exactly the same as in the 1809-1810 campaign. On 28 June the Vitebtsy advanced toward the Varna Fortress and by evening reached the town of Charligyrul. The first march was especially hard. The column commander reported that they were told by a Moldavian who had run away from the fortress four days before that the Turks were sitting inside under the command of Gadzhi-Yusuf-Pasha. The inhabitants, though, had fled south from Varna and hidden in the forest. "As to the reliability of these reports I am as yet unable to say," wrote General Sukhtelen in his report to the Commander-in-Chief.
On 30 June the Vitebtsy were already in the towns of Eikoi and Adzhemlyar near the fortress. Enemy posts that were deployed on this front withdrew without resisting. Next to the city in the roadstead there were some twelve enemy ships. At dawn on 1 July the Vitebtsy moved toward the fortress. General Sukhtelens force advanced in the following order: a column made up of the Vitebsk Regiment with two guns and one battalion of the Polotsk Regiment, moving from Adzhemlyar by a road through thick bushes; in the rear were the men of the 2nd Battalion of the Polotsk with four guns and three squadrons of Bug Lancers. The right flank was similarly organized and covered by cossacks and two squadrons of lancers; to protect the left flank, riflemen were sent out.
Upon coming to the village of Yeikioi the force was halted by musket fire. The village proved to be occupied by Turks numbering about 1000 men.
The troops deployed and the artillery opened fire. Not joining battle, the Turks withdrew in the direction of the fortress. At three oclock in the afternoon the Vitebtsy came within the reach of long-range fire from the fortress. Occupying its positions, the column halted. The Vitebtsy formed the right flank and on the left there was one battalion from the Polotsk, who kept their second battalion with two guns in reserve along with the cavalry. Under covering fire from the fortress walls, the Turks sallied forth from the fortress and began to advance. Graf Sukhtelens troops desperately defended themselves. The riflemen of the Polotsk Regiment, under the personal direction of Major General Kupriyanov, not only held their part of the position but even forced the enemy to retreat. Then the Turks hurried to the right flank but here, too, they suffered a failure. The fighting lasted until the coming of darkness, after which the enemy withdrew to the fortress. "I am entirely certain that the heights around the bay [liman] will give me the means to completely consolidate the position of the covering force; I only wish that the Turks will give me the necessary time," reported Sukhtelen to the Commander-in-Chief.
The fighting on 1 July clearly showed that it was not possible to take the fortress with a single blow. There remained only one waya blockade. This day cost the regiment dearly: Ensign Spitsyn was killed, Captain Shavlovich and Ensigns Remi and Balkashin were wounded, and Ensign Andreev was injured with a contusion. The total was 5 officer casualties and 10 killed and 52 wounded for the lower ranks.
That evening there was no sleep for the troops. Instead, they worked on fortifying the position. By dawn they were already finished (four redoubts, with a company in each one). On 2 July Aide-de-Camp Baron Frederiks was sent to the fortress to see the commandant with the aim of persuading him to capitulate. This envoy was not even let into the fortress. The Turks answered that they would give their reply in the open field, the result of which would be the total defeat of their enemies. Having received some 1500 men as reinforcements, which brought the garrison to a total of 5000, the enemy again sallied forth from the fortress and initiated heavy musket fire which lasted from eight to twelve oclock in the morning. But with this everything ceased, and the affair did not develop into an attack.
Having made a careful reconnaissance, the force commander was decidedly convinced that it would not be possible to take the Varna Fortress without a regular blockade. The plan of the area, given to the main headquarters by a certain Greek, proved to be completely unreliable and led the Commander-in-Chief into the error of assigning to Graf Sukhtelen a mission so far beyond his means.
During the night of 3 July the column continued to entrench itself in some cultivated plots; on the right flank of the position a lodgement for one company was built. The Turks did not interfere and the night passed quietly, but with the coming of dawn the enemy again tried to attack our position. Today, although the Turks were crowding around our position the whole day, wrote Graf Sukhtelen to the Commander-in-Chief, "and in particular, sallying forth against the left flank with the same daring as before (i.e. all at once against the positions of the Vitebsk Regiment), all still ended well, and the enemy decided not to attack the lodgement made in the gardens. Tomorrow I expect a serious attack and with the help of the All Highest I intend to repulse the foe "
During the day, the Turks received another 1000 men as reinforcements, who the fortress greeted by firing cannons. The situation was worsening, since Graf Sukhtelen had only 5558 men under arms while the Turks had up to 8000 in the protection of the fortress. It was not possible to withdraw since the force commander received categorical orders to blockade the fortress until the arrival of Lieutenant General Ushakovs force, which was coming to help and reported to be several marches from Varna. Provisions had run short and reserves were calculated to be enough for only two days. On 4 July the Turks again came out of their fortress and hurled themselves on our right flank, but were repulsed. The next day the enemy carried out reconnaissances. An attack could be expected at any hour. In the first days of July (the exact date, unfortunately, cannot be determined) there was a new commander for the VitebtsyColonel Belegovich. Under his leadership the regiment also took part in the fighting of 6 July. On the morning of that day the Turks went over to the offensive against our right flank. The attack was not successful and a lull set in. After midday the enemy again undertook a sortie but this time against the left flank of our position. The Turks set up two guns (2-pounders) on some higher ground, having brought them up by hand since it had not been possible to draw them up with horses, and they began an artillery fire on our troops. At the same time infantry was coming around our left flank. The moment was critical. The brigade commander, General Kupriyanov, took up a rifle and personally led the Vitebtsy and a battalion of the Polotsk Regiment into the attack. In company columns our heroes threw themselves forward with the bayonet. The Turks could not stand fast and retreated into the fortress.
That evening the long-awaited reinforcements arrived. Graf Sukhtelen turned over the position to General Ushakov, and himself advanced to Pravody. But recognizing that the newly arrived column was too weak to hold its own in front of the fortress, Graf Sukhtelen left the 2nd Battalion of the Vitebsk Regiment in position under the command of Major Danskii, and with the rest of the troops he left for Pravody. Thus the Vitebtsy were divided.
A full day had not passed since the departure of the 1st Battalion when those who were left had to fight a serious battle. On 7 July, the Turks again received over 1000 reinforcements. On the morning of the next day the enemy began firing their fortress guns and then attacked Ushakovs force in overwhelming numbers. This was a hard day. The fighting lasted from three in the morning to five in the afternoon, which is to say fifteen hours. The regiment had to withstand a whole series of attacks. The strength of the 2nd Battalion of the Vitebtsy was much reduced, namely:
|Field-grade officer 1|
|Company-grade officers 8|
|Non-commissioned officers 59|
This day cost the regiment dearly: two company-grade officers killed (Sub-lieutenants Dymov and Shchechenov) and company commanders Captains Danelskii and Butsevich wounded. Thirteen privates were left on the field and there were 92 wounded, i.e. almost one-fifth of the battalion. In all, Ushakovs force lost more than 250 men. That same day, the force commander retreated from Varna. The Vitebtsy went to join their comrades at Pravody.
Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich liberally decorated the officers of the regiment who had distinguished themselves by their exemplary service in front of the Varna Fortress from 1 to 8 July. No less than 17 officers proved to be worthy of the Monarchs favor, which is to say the large majority of them. Those who received awards were: Colonel Belegovich - recipient of the Monarchs favor; Lieutenant Colonel Voznesenskii - promoted to Colonel; Major Vinogradov - awarded a gold sword; Captain Shavlovich - the Order of St. Vladimir 4th Class with ribbon; Lieutenant Teizeng - Highest appreciation; Lieutenant Polushkin - the Order of St. Anna 4th Class; Ensign Andreev promoted to Lieutenant; Ensign Balkashin - the Order of St. Anna 3rd Class; Ensign Gurkovskii - Highest appreciation and the Order of St. Anna 4th Class; Ensign Chernyavskii - the Order of St. Anna 4th Class; Captain Danelskii - the Order of St. Anna 3rd Class; Captain Butsevich - the Order of St. Anna 3rd Class; Sub-Lieutenant Ivanov - the Order of St. Anna 4th Class; Staff-Doctor Salivanov - the Order of St. Anna 3rd Class; Junior Doctor Uglyanskii - promoted to the next rank; and Sergeant Voznesenskii - promoted to Ensign.
This lengthy roll shows that our predecessors served with honor during the difficult days of the Varna expedition. The regiment owed much to the distinguished actions of its brigade commander, Major General Kupriyanov, whose deeds fully deserve to be mentioned. The General repeatedly and personally led our predecessors into the attack, setting an example with his calm, judicious, and imperturbable courage.
The military activities of the regiment did not end with the blockade of Varna. As explained above, after Graf Sukhtelen left the 2nd Battalion of the Vitebtsy under the control of Ushakov, he himself moved to Pravody with the Polotsk Regiment, the 1st Battalion of our predecessors, the 2nd Bug Lancer Regiment, and the 2nd Light Company of the 10th Artillery Brigade, arriving on 12 July to relieve General Bekendorf who with his column marched to the Varna Fortress to reinforce the blockading forces. At dawn on 16 July, the Turks attacked the Pravody position with 4000 men. Having forced back our forward posts, the Turks descended the slopes to be met by the Vitebsk battalion under the personal orders of the brigade commander. Having formed our boys into company column, General Kupriyanov led them in a bayonet attack that halted the Turks. One blow was completely sufficient to cause the enemy to retreat. The Vitebtsy suffered losses of twelve lower ranks killed or wounded.
The next day General-Adjutant Bekendorf arrived from Varna to take over the column. Graf Sukhtelen left for the main headquarters located near Shumla Fortress. After a few days the 2nd Battalion of the Vitebtsy also arrived at Pravody. The force commander feared that the Turks would again try to attack the position so he immediately gave orders to begin work on fortifications, both in the immediate area and nearby. On the heights that faced toward the Shumla Fortress three redoubts were built, 200 yards apart.
In order to collect information about the enemy, each day a special small force (one to two companies) was designated to carry out a reconnaissance. It was not just a few times that the companies of the regiment participated in these patrols. Let us consider one of the more interesting expeditions, one in which a battalion of the regiment bore the whole weight of the fighting. On 22 July the force commander sent General Kupriyanov to reconnoiter with a force made up of the 2nd Battalion of the Vitebtsy, two companies of the Polotsk Regiment, and one squadron of Bug Lancers, with directions to make a patrol in force towards Kamchik. Leaving Pravody and moving along the main road, the column had not gotten within two miles of the village of Kiprikioi when it was fired upon. Lieutenant Colonel Demskiis battalion forced the enemy out of the woods which they had occupied and continued its advance, but was once again stopped by rows of felled trees in its path. These had to be successively occupied. Wanting to approach closer to the Turkish encampment which was two miles distant, General Kupriyanov left the Vitebtsy in the forest and with the two companies of the Polotsk Regiment himself moved forward, following the retreating enemy. He came out on the edge of the forest where the position occupied by the Turks on the south side of Kamchik was clearly visible on the slope of a hill. While the brigade commander was making his reconnaissance, some of the enemy, numbering about 2000 men, took advantage of the thick forest to come around the battalion of the Vitebsk Regiment which had been stopped by the felled trees and attacked it. Hearing firing in his rear, General Kupriyanov immediately hurried to help. In the rear at this time there was terrible carnage as our heroes withstood a series of attacks while retaining posession of the felled trees. The approach of the Polotsk Regiment forced the Turks to withdraw. The mission was completed. Reconnaissance showed that the strength of the Turkish force at the village of Kiprikioi was about 5000, under the command of the well-known Yusuf-Pasha. With small losses the column safely returned to Pravody.
An interlude began as the Turks no longer molested our force. The situation of the Pravody garrison was unenviable. Already in the middle of July an epidemic of debilitating fevers appeared among the lower ranks, a result of the unbearable heat, which was reaching 96° Fahrenheit during the day, combined with the low nighttime temperatures and heavy dew. On 6 August the force commander, General-Adjutant Bekendorf, fell victim to the epidemic, and he died in the arms of our brigade commander. He was replaced by Lieutenant General Prince Madatov, who came to Pravody. Sickness was so widespread in the Vitebsk and Polotsk Regiments that each day up to fifty men came down sick. The officers did not escape the general fate, and by the end of August there were thirty sick field and company-grade officers in Kupriyanovs brigade. Being already understrength, this was a great loss. To top off these tribulations, by the beginning of September the lack of forage was real, since the operational army at the Shumla Fortress with its foraging parties had used up all supplies within a great distance, both toward the front as well as in the rear.
On 29 September the fortress at Varna, besieged by the Guards Corps, capitulated. This was the great event which ended the 1828 campaign. Cold weather began and it was time to think of winter quarters. The greater part of the troops operating beyond the Danube moved back to Walachia and Moldavia, but it was decided to occupy Varna Fortress and the town of Pravody with garrisons. In Pravody Major General Kupriyanov was chosen to be the force commander since he was experienced and had an excellent knowledge of local conditions. The circumstances under which the Vitebtsy had to winter over were extremely unfavorable. Sickness had not stopped, the town was still open on all sides, food supplies were nearly exhausted, and it was already a long time since the lower ranks had seen meat. But by a whole series of sensible and energetic measures our brigade commander soon managed to alleviate the garrisons situation. At the beginning of November the Smolensk and Mogilev men arrived at Pravody, and in this way the entire 10th Division was concentrated together.
Service in the garrison was very hard. There were no more than 3000 lower ranks in the ranks of the division while the occupied position stretched along a front of about 12 miles. Each day, even when it was quiet, one brigade carried out sentry duties as well as guard duties in town. And starting on 8 November, when it became known tht a 10,000-man force of Turks was concentrated three miles from Pravody, precautionary measures were intensified, and both brigades were under arms without relief, at least at night if not during the day. As before, various reconnaissances were made by detachments of varying sizes. At the same time there was constant work on fortifying the position, the results of which were so successful that already by December the town of Pravody was turned into an unassailable stronghold, and one could rest assured that the Turks were hardly thinking of attacking the position.
Before the Christmas holydays a small Greek church was discovered in an underground vault in the village of Dizdarkioi. The brigade commander ordered that its icons be removed to Pravody where a mobile field altar was set up in one of the houses. This was a great joy for the Vitebtsy and on Christmas Eve it was possible for the first time, perhaps, for Pravody to echo to the harmonious and magnificent hymns. Far from the motherland, the regiment prayed reverently, remembering their families left behind and the comfortable hearths of home. The new year of 1829 arrived, and the regiment greeted it in the same place, at Pravody. The commander of the regiment, Colonel Belegovich, was already gone. He was involved in some untoward affair and on 21 December, 1828, was dismissed from command along with the commander of the 1st Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Voznesenskii 1st, who became the subject of an investigation. What these officers were guilty of is unknown. The surviving documents do not reveal this sad affair for us.
In January military activities began again. General Kupriyanov received information that significant numbers of Turks were concentrating at the village of Markovichi (eight miles from Pravody). Desiring to be personally convinced of just how accurate this intelligence was, the garrison commander undertook several patrols, choosing the dead of night as the time to leave the position. The Vitebtsy also took part in these nocturnal maneuvers on 26 and 31 January. The Pravody garrison was strengthened by the arrival of a brigade of the 16th Infantry Division, which was opportune since the troops were quite worn down by their constant duty.
In February frosts arrived. Everyday the thermometer showed 15 to 30 degrees of frost. This lasted three weeks. On the 20th the water in the Pravody River rose, and three days later at seven in the morning a dike burst next to the barbette that had been built on the river bank. The whole area was flooded so that all traffic was interrupted for several hours. One of the non-commissioned officers of the Vitebsk Regiment was a victim of the natural disaster when he sought shelter next to a large rock while he was on sentry duty and was crushed. This inundation ruined much of the food supplies, but the energetic and sensible force commander was also on the scene, directing that the soaked items be distributed to personnel.
Lent arrived and alertness in Pravody increased since the Turks often took advantage of our holy days to make surprise attacks. But except for insignificant clashes between our reconnaissance patrols and small parties of Turks, nothing serious occurred.
In the middle of April, the Commander-in-Chief decided that the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Infantry Division was to leave for the Varna Fortress and join the garrison there.
On 27 April the Vitebtsy passed through Devno and entered the fortress the next day. The brigade commander gave the Pravody garrision over to the commander of the 10th Infantry Division, Lieutenant General Nagel. In a farewell order to the garrison the force commander wrote, "There are not enough words to describe to all its [the garrisons] members how my emotions and heart are overflowing on account of their work, untiring labor, exemplary patience, and constant readiness to go into battle, in the course of much difficult, and I may say, glorious service. I ask that the regimental commanders, field and company-grade officers, and lower ranks be convinced of my sincere recognition and respect in regard to their distinguished service to the Sovereign and Fatherland."
These few lines show the characteristic excellence of the service of the Vitebsk and Polotsk Regiments. No further evidence is needed; Kupriyanovs order of the day is a primary source document giving the complete moral right to add to the previous deeds of the regiment a series of new and glorious pages in the military history of our predecessors.
The regiments campaign service ended with its arrival at Varna Fortress. Garrison life commenced and lasted to the end of April, 1830. A new commander arrived while the Vitebtsy were thereLieutenant Colonel Yegor Vasilevich Chekulaev. This officer first served in the Selenginsk Garrison Regiment, then in the 46th Jägers, where he worked his way up to major, and was transferred to the Vyborg Infantry Regiment, from where he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and designated commander of the Vitebtsy. As his personal service record reads, the new commander was "Educated in reading and writing Russian letters, knows arithmetic. Deserves promotion to higher rank. Always submitted reports relating to his duties on time. Has never been the subject of complaints and in regard to his leadership there has been nothing of the kind, either. Not noted to be negligent in carrying out his duties and did not allow disorder among his subordinates; as for unseemly behaviour, we announce and make clear that there has been none." Such was the certification of the new commander.
With the arrival of Colonel Chekulaev the regiment began to prepare for the return march to Russia. But no rest awaited our heroes, for the Vitebtsy were not returning to permanent quarters but once again to campaign service against a new foe, this time an internal one. The Poles were in revolt after they had been shown much favor by the late Emperor. It was with mutiny that they answered the Blessed Alexander who had granted this ungrateful people the famous constitutional charter of 12 December, 1815.
Warsaw was the hotbed of the revolt, which began on 17 January, 1830. Not only the people rose up, but so did the Polish army. Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich undertook a series of energetic measures to suppress the mutiny. It came to the use of armed force to pacify these intractables, and Russian troops under Field Marshal Diebitsch of the Transbalkans crossed the border into Poland. Alarming reports of the events that had occurred reached the Vitebtsy, who were wintering at Varna Fortress as described above. At the end of April the regiment received the order to leave for Russia and in a month had arrived at Reni, where it underwent a 20-day quarantine and then moved to Nikopol and further on to the area of what was then the Tiraspol District, to the town of Ananev where it went into quarters. Several months were necessary to fill the regiments ranks and maintain equipment, transport, and so on.
In April of 1831 the Vitebtsy again set off on the march and arrived at the town of Ostrog. Here the regimental commander received General Kupriyanovs order to bring the regiment to full readiness for action. The brigade commander ordered that weapons and equipment be inspected and fully repaired, a ten-day supply of hardtack be prepared, all detached lower ranks return to the regiment, young soldiers, even if they did not yet have uniforms, were to be taken on campaign with whatever they had, and so on. All these actions showed that the departure of the regiment for the theater of war could be expected any day. In June the Vitebtsy arrived at Kovel and on the 10th they presented themselves for the division commanders inspection. It was a brilliant review and soon a HIGHEST Order came out in which the commander of the regiment received HIGHEST regards "for bringing the lower ranks of the Vitebsk Infantry Regiment in a short time to such a level that they are able to go into action."
The regiments participation in the war with the Polish rebels was represented more by marches than by battles, which is explained by the Vitebtsy, making their way from the Varna Fortress, having arrived too late, of course, when the main events were already past. Lieutenant Colonel Chekulaevs report has come down to us, describing in detail the regiments military chronicle for the period under review. I present this document word for word:
To Major General and Chevalier Zhilenkov, Commanding the 9th Infantry Division.
The Report of the Commander of the Vitebsk Infantry Regiment, Colonel Chekulaev.
In accordance with Your Excellencys Order No. 3995, I have the honor to report that the regiment entrusted to me has been on campaign in Volynia taking part in the aftermath to the late war with the Polish rebels.
a) In accordance with Order No. 302 of the division commander, the honorable Major General Chevalier Kupriyanov, dated 23 May, the regiment went from the town of Lutsk to the town of Kovel in pursuit of internal rebels, from the 28th of that month to 1 June.
b) From 1 June, having occupied Kovel and its environs, in accordance with Order No. 652 of the commander of the 3rd Hussar Division, Major General Loshkarev, dated 8 June, the 2nd Battalion under my command was from that same date in the first expedition from that same town to Bindyuchi and Vlagovka against Polish rebels. In accordance with Order No. 1085 of the former commander of the 6th Infantry Corps, Baron Rozen, dated 17 July, there was a second expedition under the command of Major Danelskii, consisting of 4 company-grade officers, 20 non-commissioned officers, 7 musicians, and 200 lower ranks of the 1st Battalion, to the town of Pinsk against elements of Dembitskis defeated force.
c) In accordance with Order No. 569 of Lieutenant General Kaisarov, commanding the corps, dated 13 July, on 2 August the regiment crossed the Bug River, marching to the town of Grudeshov to perform guard duties from the 3rd to 23rd of this same month, and in accordance with this same commanders Order No. 725 dated 24 August, the whole regiment was in Your Excellencys column against partisans from Romarinos Corps and occupied a position at Ukhan from 24 August to 2 September. From that date in the blockade of the Zamost Fortress, being at this fortress until its surrender on 10 October. With this I report to Your Excellency that in all the mentioned marches against the Polish internal rebels it never happened that the regiment was in any fighting.
Lieutenant Colonel Chekulaev
No. 1835, 25 November, 1831. Town of Solets.
In this way, in the 1830-1831 campaign it fell to the regiment to carry out secondary military tasks such as convoying transport, securing the armys rear, and so on.
Nevertheless, the march from Varna to the Kingdom of Poland had an important significance for the subsequent lives of the Vitebtsy. The Regiment arrived in Poland in November, 1831 and from that time on to the writing of this work it never quite left, wandering the various back corners of the former duchy which later became the Warsaw Military Region. In March of 1832 the Vitebtsy arrived at quarters in Konetspol, and then in autumn they went to Warsaw. Within a month a new change of station had them occupying quarters in Grodno, while the winter was spent in the Belostok region.
The year 1833 arriveda significant one in the history of our predecessors. On 28 January the regimental organization acquired a new form. On this day, memorable for the Vitebtsy, they were joined by the entire strength of the 13th Jäger Regiment. In this way the authorized strength of the new unit was doubled, namely:
1st Battalion -
|2nd Battalion -||
|Reserve No. 5 Battalion -||
1st Battalion -
|2nd Battalion -||
|Reserve No. 6 Battalion -||
In all, six battalions comprised the regiment, which received the title of Vitebsk Jägers.
In a few months the 6th Reserve Battalion left to join the Schlusselburg Jäger Regiment, and in exchange a battalion of the 25th Jäger Regiment arrived for the Vitebtsy, but it was part of the regiment for less than a year. On 28 February, 1834, it was disbanded and only five battalions remained for the Vitebtsy.
After a few years, exactly when is not known, this battalion was reformed and as a result the regiment had attached the 5th Reserve [5-i rezervnyi] and 6th Replacement [6-i zapasnyi] battalions, each having 461 men but only in wartime.
Such were the essential reforms that were realized, and which had a great significance for the entire subsequent life of the regiment.
The newly joined jägers came to the regiment with a substantial battlefield reputation. Their service record presented a brilliant series of pages from their military past.
Thanks to their organization, more mobile than that of army infantry regiments, the jägers were in front at all times and places, in vanguards and special columns sent out in front of the army. This was always a favorable situation to give them the chance to take part in the most distinguished actions, battles, and fights during the various periods of war. The result of such military service was that the regiment was not slow in being recognized. The 13th Jäger Regiment came to the Vitebtsy decorated with a series of distinguished awardssilent yet accurate witnesses of their glorious military past.
The new regiment possessed: 1) headdress badges with the inscription "For Excellence" ["za otlichie"], awarded to the Jägers for deeds in the 1812-1814 campaign; 2) the "Grenadier drumbeat" ["Grenaderskii boi"]as an award for participation in the 1828-1829 campaign; and 3) St.-George flags, awarded to the 2nd Battalion of Jägers for distinction at the siege and capture of Anapa and Varna in 1828. One can understand the sincere gladness with which our predecessors greeted their military comrades who thenceforth were to form one military family with the Vitebtsy. A short chronology of the fighting Jägers, now one with us, follows.
On 22 June, 1783, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 Kharkov and No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 Belorussian Field Battalions were formed from elements of detached musketeer and garrison battalions. Subsequently, the 4th Kharkov Battalion, 2nd Belorussian Battalion, and newly organized 1st and 2nd Battalions formed the Bug Jäger Corps, made up of four battalions. This occurred on 14 January, 1785.
With the ascension to the throne of Emperor Paul Petrovich, the Bug Jägers were reorganized so that the 1st and 3rd Battalions of this corps formed, in accordance with a Highest Order of 29 November, 1796, the 14th Jäger Battalion. Further changes can be seen from the following table:
By an order of 17 May, 1797, the 14th Battalion was titled the 13th Jägers.
31 October, 1798 - became General Bogovuts Jägers.
27 June, 1800 - became Prince Vyazemskiis Jägers.
29 March, 1801 - became the 13th Jäger Regiment.
Thus the 130-year old Vitebsk Regiment was joined by a unit with a half-century of service and distinguished, as described above, with a series of awards and honors.
It was as if the longtime military tradition of the old regiment was strengthened by the influx of the new element, and not in a casual sense but rather to a highly valuable degree. Along with the Jägers came their commander, Colonel Schreiber. He was more senior than Chekulaev and so took over the newly organized regiment.
Ivan Petrovich Schreiber, upon finishing the course of the 1st Cadet Corps, was graduated as an ensign in the Odessa Infantry Regiment, being fifteen years of age. As a youth he served through the 1812-1814 campaign and returned as a lieutenant. His further career went quickly. In 1821 he already was a lieutenant colonel (i.e. at twenty-four years of age), and nine years later he became the head of the 13th Jäger Regiment with which he came to the Vitebtsy.
On 18 September 1833 the newly formed regiment presented itself in Brest-Litovsk for a review by the army commander, Prince Paskevich of Erivan. The Vitebskii made an excellent appearance and the young commander received Highest recognition. The regiment spent the winter of 1834 in Kovel, occupied in shaping up their recently formed elements. In the beginning of spring our predecessors left to go into camp near Warsaw and in autumn they went to new quarters in the town of Pultusk where they spent the winter. Summer was spent near Kalish. There Colonel Schreiber, promoted to General, left the regiment after turning it over to Colonel Yakov Gustavovich Nasaken.
The new commander had begun his service in the ranks of the 1st Grenadier Artillery Brigade as a distinguished officer candidate [portupeipraporshchik]; from there he was transferred to the Life-Guards Finland Regiment with a promotion to ensign. On 14 December, 1825 the young officer was on guard duty in Petrovskii Square and, as recorded in his service record, "for the excellent execution of his duty during the events that occurred that day in St.-Petersburg, he was by HIGHEST Order awarded with promotion to the rank of lieutenant and the Order of St. Vladimir, 4th Class with Ribbon." From that day on Nasakens further career went quickly, as Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich was able to move distinguished officers ahead. In 1833 Nasaken was already a colonel, which is to say eight years afterward, and two years later he was named to command the Vitebtsy.
Life in the regiment during the period from 1836 to 1846 was very unsettled in the sense that there was absolutely no stability regarding where they were quartered. In this 10-year period the Vitebtsy constantly changed their station as follows:
In 1836, the regiment was quartered in Warsaw.
In 1837, " " " Kiev.
In 1838, " " " Pereyaslavl.
In 1840, " " " Chernigov.
In 1843-45, " " Estonia and Courland.
In 1846, " " " the Kingdom of Poland.
It is obvious what inconveniences were connected with the continuous wanderings of our predecessors. As regards the officers with families, the situation was truly awful. Heedless of the time of year or the weather, our fellows went from place to place, and behind them stretched an endless train of government and private property. The procession was brought up by a caravan of wives and children. All together this was reminiscent of the life of a gypsy band with all its special character.
Such wandering was hardly beneficial in regard to training the regiment since more than half of the duty time went to preparing for or actually being on the march.
With promotion to general after eleven years in command, which time had passed in profound peace, Colonel Nasaken handed the Vitebtsy over to Colonel Mikhail Afanasevich Mitrino. However, his command was short-lived, a year in all, and he left without leaving a trace in the internal life of the regiment.
In this sense the outstanding significance belonged to Mitrinos successor, Colonel Verkhovskii, with whom the Vitebtsy went through the Hungarian War and the greater part of the very difficult Sevastopol campaign with all its suffering.
Lev Yakovlevich Verkhovskii spent his entire service before reaching field-officer rank in the Poltava Infantry Regiment. Taking part in the campaigns of 1828-1829 and 1830-1831, he often attracted attention with his irreproachable and selfless service. For his excellence Verkhovskii received the ranks of staff-captain, captain, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. As a field-grade officer he was transferred to the Chernigov Regiment (later the 29th), and from there he came to the Vitebtsy, already nominated as regimental commander. His battlefield experience was well-known. He knew drill quite well since as a lieutenant colonel he was detached to command the Model Infantry Regiment, i.e. the unit intended to serve as the ideal for the army. In origin Verkhovskii was the son of a noble of modest means in Smolensk Province, and had no means of his own at all and not even the most minor benefactor. His service career was only due to his hard work and abilities.
In the 1849 campaign the Vitebsk Jäger Regiment was in the 7th Division under the leadership of General Kaufman. Along with the 8th and 9th Divisions and the 3rd Cavalry Division, this division formed the 3rd Infantry Corps under General Rediger. At the beginning of the war this corps was spread along the southern borders of the Kingdom of Poland, limiting itself to observing. But with the course of events in Austria, it could not be doubted that these troops would soon undertake an active role.
In November of 1848 the Vitebtsy occupied:
1st and 2nd Battalions (not all) - Zamosc Fortress, where they undertook
Regimental headquarters and the headquarters of the 4th Battalion the town of Janow.
3rd Battalion - the village of Modli-Borszczic.
7th Jäger Company - " " "
8th Jäger Company - Rzecicy.
3rd Carabinier Company - Zaklinow.
9th Jäger Company - the village of Slodkow.
4th Jäger Company - the village of Gorai.
10th Jager Company - Zrzimowicy.
11th Jäger Company - Chriakowowoly-Ordy.
12th Jäger Company - Mozidm.
At these places the regiment greeted the year 1849.
The first communications of the Austrian government relating to Russian troops helping put down the Hungarian revolt began in March. In the last days of April the regiment received a Highest Order in which the campaign was decided upon.
On the night of the first day of the Easter holy days, the Vitebtsy left Yanov where the entire regiment had been hurriedly gathered, consisting of:
Field-grade officers 7
|Company-grade officers 51||Lower ranks 2319|
|Non-commissioned officers 297||Non-combatants 29|
The regiment had just completed one march when an order to turn back was received. After spending the night in Janow, the Vitebtsy set off again, heading for Galicia. Upon coming to a place called Bachno, the regiment halted for several days. The bringing up of supplies was very erratic, the result of which was that the Vitebtsy consumed their entire four-day reserve of hardtack. This greatly disturbed the commander of the regiment. After checking what remained and to whom, he ordered, "Conserve hardtack."
According to the plan worked out for the campaign, the 3rd Corps was to advance across the Neimar into Hungary on 3 June and effect a junction with other forces in the sourthern valleys of the Carpathians, clearing them of rebels.
On 5 June the regiment was already approaching Lyublo, moving along a narrow, rocky road which was continuously cut by steep descents and ascents. Up to this point there had been three exhausting marches, and the entire regiment trudged along with difficulty. The orders were to wear the uniform tailcoats, but the heat was terrible. There were many stragglers, and the regiment left just as many men in hospital (the average march was eighteen miles). How difficult this march was can be seen in that during the crossing of the Hungarian frontier into Galicia the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Corps troops left 11,568 men in hospital, which was 7.1%.
After a days halt in Lyublo, the regiment entered Hungary. At this same time the other columns came up, and two days later there was already a 100,000-man Russian army in the region between Lyublo and Kraino-Polyanaya, ready to move on Eperiesh and Kashau. The forces which the enemy deployed in this area were reported to number 10,000 to 20,000.
On 8 July the Vitebtsy reached Plavnitsa, and rebels were seen on the road leading to Eperiesh. The corps commander sent a small force to disperse them (the regiment did not take part in this affair). On 11 June, our forces reached Eperiesh as the enemy retired without a fight, and the city came into our hands. On the following day we also took Kashau, and the troops were given a rest in view of the hard marches to come.
At the end of June the entire army was concentrating toward Mishkolets. Here a terrible sickness spread among the troopscholera. It took many to the grave, and the Vitebsk Regiment did not escape without victims. The most energetic measures were taken, and soon the epidemic began to subside.
On 3 July the Vitebsk Regiment, moving the whole time by forced marches, arrived at Waitzen and here relieved the 2nd Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division, which had been in the vanguard. General Kaufman was then designated commander of the vanguard. On 4 July the regiment took part in a small skirmish and on the next day in a battle near Waitzen.
At dawn our vanguards cavalry carried out a reconnaissance which found that the enemys main forces had already begun to withdraw to the north during the night. At seven oclock in the morning the corps commander arrived at the position and ordered the 2nd Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division to begin an advance. The Polotsk Jäger Regiment with one cavalry regiment moved forward along the left side of the Gombas Stream while the Vitebtsy with several squadrons were on the right side. The enemy occupied Waitzen and the open area lying to the east between the city and the heights covered with vineyards. Without firing, the Vitebtsy approached the enemy under hostile fire and, having advanced under shellfire all the way to the city itself, found that the enemy had disappeared. They had withdrawn back about a mile where they occupied a new position behind a stream flowing northwards from Waitzen and set fire to the bridge behind them. The regiment passed through the city and immediately set to repairing the bridge.
Having crossed the stream, the Vitebtsy moved to attack the new enemy position which the foe immediately abandoned, hurriedly withdrawing to Retshag. The troops of the 3rd Corps pursued for about twelve miles but, they being completely exhausted from being continuously active, and indeed since the day was prohibitively hot, Rediger halted the force and gave it a 12-hour rest. The Vitebtsy then again set off in pursuit of the enemy, and at about 1/3 of a mile from the village of Retshag, where the road branched off to Komorn, the enemy again occupied a strong position on ground well suited for laying down fire.
At seven oclock in the evening, the vanguard of the 3rd Corps, with the Vitebsk Regiment at the head, came up to Retshag and engaged in a firefight with the enemy. At about eight oclock the 2nd and 4th Battalions of the regiment and the 1st and 3rd of the Polotsk occupied the settlement itself, on which the enemy directed a heavy fire.
Even though the village was set on fire, our battalions did not leave it. All the same, General Kaufman had too few troops to attack the enemy position, so the entire affair was limited to an exchange of fire. At nine oclock in the evening the battle ended as the enemy withdrew and the regiment bivouacked on what had been the enemy position. Our boys had labored gloriously this day: 16 hours were spent in battle with over 18 miles having been covered.
The next day the Vitebtsy continued to advance, being on the move the whole time and heading for the town of Debrechin, where they arrived on 20 July. The town was occupied by the rebels. On the morning of the 21st the entire corps moved off in battle formation. At first the completely open and level terrain allowed good movement, but a few miles from the town wide and dense fields of maize forced the whole corps to reform into march column. Near the hamlet of Vezheverlek the troops halted and under the cover of the 3rd Cavalry Division again reformed into battle formation. In this battle the Vitebsk Regiment was to attack the enemys right flank. The attack was well carried out and the enemys retreat soon became an actual rout. Remnants of the infantry fled down the road to Grosswardein, covered by some hussar squadrons. Unfortunately, it soon became impossible to pursue the enemy any further as the complete lack of food supplies made itself felt. There was only a two-day supply and regardless of wishes there had to be a halt, and it was only after five days that the Vitebtsy were able to leave the village of Debrechin. On 27 July the regiment arrived at Derechka and on the 29th it was already in Grosswardein. On 1 August on the plain between Zarand and Sellosh, our boys witnessed the surrender of the enemys entire army. With this the regiments part in the Hungarian campaign came to an end. The Vitebtsy marched back to their native land and occupied quarters in the Kingdom of Poland.
Peace did not last long. Already in 1850 political complications were beginning with Turkey. The Porte was openly violating the conditions relating to our faiths rights in the East. The situation became even worse in that the Turks were being supported by England and France. A break was unavoidable. At the end of September in 1853 Turkey declared war on us. In reply to this, on 24 October Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich published a manifesto calling Russia into battle with the Sultan. At first the Turks were our only enemies, but before a year had gone by the Russian forces were fighting French, English, Sardinian, and Turkish armies. We entered on years of great trialsthe Sevastopol campaign of 1853-1856.
By the beginning of the war the regiment was located in the province of Volhynia, with the regimental headquarters in Zhitomir, the 1st Battalion in Korostymov, the 2nd in Kotelen, the 3rd in Troyanov, and the 4th in Berdichev. Lieutenant Colonel Ushakov, commander of the 7th Division, ordered the commander of the regiment to undertake energetic measures to prepare the regiment for campaigning in the shortest possible time. It was strictly ordered that officers be in their places during the march and that company commanders inspect the footwear and warm clothing of the men. In case of inclement weather, especially snowstorms, it was prescribed that the regiment be halted to wait it out where the weather had overtaken it.
On 1 December, 1853, after hearing church services dedicated to the traveler, the regiment set off on the march. On the 25th the Vitebtsy arrived at the city of Beltsy by following the line Berdichev-Letichev-Bar. The 4th Battalion arrived in Khotin and received the special mission of carrying out guard duties until relieved by troops from the reserve division of 4th Corps. From Beltsy the Vitebtsy continued on through Kagul and on 23 January, 1854, they came to the colony of Satunovo. Here they were to make the crossing of the Danube. The Turks had been doing everything to secure their side, fortifying the bank with a whole line of batteries. The low bank and the adjacent heights opposite the Satunovo dike were thickly fortified with batteries connected by deep trenches. Most dangerous for us was a battery armed with eleven guns, built opposite the Kilia branch of the river. It completely closed the Danube to passage by gunboats and steamers, both upstream to Isakchi and downstream to Tulcha. Upon arriving at Satunovo the regiment took over all guard duties from the Zhitomir Jäger Regiment as well as the materiel prepared for the forthcoming crossing (fascines, gabions, and so on).
The Vitebtsy were deployed as follows:
1) 2 companies of the 1st Battalion and 4 guns of the 2nd Battery of the 7th Artillery Brigade, with 1/2 sotnia of cossacks - in the colony of Satunovo (here also were prepared places for the 4th Battalion in case it should move there).
2) 2 companies, 4 guns, 1/2 sotnia of cossacks - 3 miles forward, namely at the Church of St. Therapont. The men built dugouts and at the order of the regimental commander the guns were deployed in batteries behind embankments. By day there were four guards were posted at the church while at night a section of 37 men was stationed 1/3 mile forward. Also at night there was a section of 43 men near next to a battery.
3) 2nd and 3rd Battalions - Located 8 miles from Satunovo in the village of Kartan.
About a mile away on a stony hill was a post of 72 cossacks, and on the Danube bank there was a cossack cordon of 48 men. Between the two the distance was about 1/2 mile. Such were the measures taken by Colonel Verkhovskii in case of an unexpected attack by the Turks.
A few days after the regiment's arrival at Satunovo colony, it was joined by the 4th Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Vinkler. They had hardly occupied their designated quarters, though, when they were ordered to proceed to Izmail to carry out garrison duties, relieving there the battalions of the Polotsk Regiment.
For all of February the regiment carried out its wearisome outpost duty. At this same time it was also Lent, and the Vitebtsy fasted and took the sacraments. For a whole month our heroes went without firing a single shot. As they got used to such a peaceful situation, the alertness of the men naturally began to fall off and breaches of discipline appeared. There was no small number of cases of drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and even looting. On 13 February a whole group of men set fire to three thousand fascines which had been made by the peasants of the Nizhne-Budzhak and Izmail districts. But the energy and indefatigability of Colonel Verkhovskii soon put a stop to all these deficiencies. He sternly punished the smallest infractions, and even the gentlemen officers were not free from attention and supervision. One of the regimental orders from 16 February may be cited:
"To Major Belyaev. Today when I was in Kartam village, it was to my surprise that I did not find you there. Just yesterday you reported that you are conducting an inquest and that to complete it would take one day. Yet in ten days you cannot finish the most simple inquiry and are untroubled by the fact that you command a battalion which right now demands your presence, and you do not even think about that." ...and so on.
Every moment the regimental commander was continuously reminding his Vitebtsy of the imminence of a decisive clash with the enemy and that in reality the battle was not far off. Preparations for the crossing were being carried out on a large scale: reconnaissance was carried out; medical dressings were prepared; and a plan for the forthcoming action was worked out. On 21 February Lieutenant Antipovs company was detached from the regiment and ordered to convey ten raft-like ferries from Lake Yalpukh. These were used to construct a bridge. The commanding general, Prince Gorchakov, at first ordered a crossing for 7 March. The chief objective of the crossings at Izmail was to provide a diversion for the crossing of the main body of troops at Galats and Brailov, scheduled for that same day. The choice of a place and the course of action itself was left to the consideration of our divisional commander, Lieutenant General Ushakov. The site chosen for crossing was on the Sulina branch of the Danube one mile from the Chatal promontory, where the river narrowed to 250 yards. Here the left bank was thickly overgrown with willows which covered our force from the gaze and shots of the enemy. The right bank at this point was open and its occupation provided an advantage in that it would be possible to cut off the Turkish fortifications from the town of Tulcha, thus dividing the Turkish force designated to defend against any crossing.
By March 7th all the units designated for the crossing were concentrated at Izmail:
7th Division with its artillery.
2nd Brigade of the 3rd Cavalry Division.
6 sotnias of cossacks.
1 company of sappers.
The means for crossing consisted of 163 boats requisitioned from fisherman. For transporting cannon two town ferries and a scow had been readied; six guns could be loaded onto them. Rowers were selected from the cossacks and lower ranks of the border guards. As a more permanent means of crossing the force commander took care to prepare two bridges on rafts which had a total length of 650 yards. In addition, a small 25-yard bridge on boats was readied in case problems were met on the right side in crossing any of the small but deep branches of the river. By the 7th, half of a raft bridge was already positioned across the Kilia branch. Everything was ready, but on the day before Prince Gorchakov postponed the crossing and scheduled it for 10 March. On the evening of the 8th the Vitebtsy were notified as to their deployment and at sunset of the following day they set off for the Krasnyi Bridge on the island of Chatal so that they could begin the crossing at daybreak. The regiment had already moved up to the Danube when an order came from General-Adjutant Ludersto stop. It became apparent that the crossing was put off for yet another day, 11 March.
The Vitebtsy returned to the Krasnyi Bridge and bivouacked there. The division commander gathered all the battalion and company commanders here and personally explained to each his own upcoming role in the battle. In order to camouflage our intentions, a force was left at the church of St. Therapont consisting of one battalion of the 15th Infantry Division with six guns of the 1st Battery of the 7th Artillery Brigade and two sotnias from Don Cossack Regiment No. 2, all under the command of Major General Tolstoi. He was instructed to put out large bonfires at night so as to show the enemy that large forces were there.
The force as finally established for the crossing was as follows:
Smolensk Infantry Regiment - 3 1/2 battalions.
Mogilev Infantry Regiment - 2 battalions.
Vitebsk Jäger Regiment - 4 battalions.
Polotsk Jäger Regiment - 4 battalions.
4th Company of the 5th Sapper Battalion - 1/4 battalion.
Total: 14 battalions.
Heavy Battery No. 1 - 12 guns.
Heavy Battery No. 2 - 12 guns.
Light Battery No. 1 - 6 guns.
Light Battery No. 2 - 12 guns.
Light horse battery - 8 guns
Total: 50 guns.
2nd Brigade of 3rd Cavalry Division - 16
Don Cossack Regiment No.1 - 6 sotnias
Total 16 squadrons and 6 sotnias.
Also on the 10th of the month the "Danube Flotilla" consisting of 15 gunboats moved to the fork of the Sulina and Kilia branches. There were two shore batteries armed with six fortress guns and four mortars to which were added four heavy guns each. (For the battery at Cordon No. 130 these came from Heavy Battery No. 1 and for the Chatal Battery from Battery No. 2.) Exactly at midnight on 10/11 March the flotilla approached the Turkish batteries for close-range fire. The transport craft for the troops drew up behind so that as soon as the enemy fire slackened they would round the Chatal promontory and move downstream to the crossing site, ready to embark troops.
At about 1 oclock in the morning the force left its bivouac at Krasnyi Bridge in complete silence. The Vitebtsy were within a general column of march with the Polotsk Regiment in front and the Smolentsy behind. When they came up to the Danube they stopped, concealing themselves in the reeds. The artillery occupied their designated positions. Light Horse Battery No. 6 was on the bank directly opposite the fork so as to prevent the Turks from destroying the bridge at this point, and also to defend against any force coming from Tulcha. All the rest of the artillery was deployed around the crossing site to fire on the enemy side, and covering them were rifle detachments drawn from all the regiments. The guns were hidden between trees and bushes. At this time a small number of boats arrived from Sulina. They carried a sotnia of dismounted cossacks under the command of Staff-Captain Mikhailov, who had been ordered to land at the village of Prislova and attack the Turkish cordon lines. At 5:30 in the morning the first shot was firedit was our artillery opening fire. The cannonade continued for some hours. Our fire so weakened the Turkish artillerys ability to reply that already at 10 oclock in the morning it was possible for the landing boats to move to the crossing place. The boats were towed to the Chatal promontory where sandbars began and they then had to advance by rowing. From the Turkish bank a strong fire opened up on the vessels but without significant effect.
At 11:30 the first echelon cast off (two battalions of the Mogilev Regiment, one battalion of the Polotsk, and four guns of Light Battery No. 2) and occupied part of the enemy shore without firing a shot. After them progressively came the remaining part of the Mogilevtsy, the Polotsk Regiment, the Vitebsk, and the guns of the light batteries. The heavy batteries were unable to crossthe ferries were untrustworthy.
Upon disembarking, General Ushakov immediately sent the Mogilev Regiment with two guns to observe the enemy batteries, while the Polovtsy moved to the Somov fork and pressed the Turks. (The Vitebtsy remained in reserve.) At about four in the afternoon the force commander ordered the Mogilevtsy to storm the batteries, but the Turks beat off the attack. It took several attacks before the fortified positions were taken. The crossing cost our troops dearly: 5 officers and 194 lower ranks killed, 19 officers and 500 lower ranks wounded.
The Turks fled in the direction of Babadag. The next day our mounted patrols reported the enemy retreating from their positions at Tulcha. The Vitebsk Regiment along with the Polovtsy immediately set off in pursuit, but the broken and close terrain hindered any overtaking of the enemy. The infantry halted in front of the town of Tulcha while the cossacks pushed on further. The Turks soon quit the town and it was occupied by the Vitebtsy who stayed here until 17 March. Then they marched to Isakchi where they set up camp. There on the 21st the commander of the 2nd Battalion, Major Gedroits, received the order to go and occupy the Turkish battery positions which we had seized at the crossing. The objective of this maneuver was to prevent the Turks from getting through to Isakchi. The 1st Battalion moved off to Tulcha. Before the arrival of Gedroits, these batteries were occupied by the 3rd Company of the regiment which then joined its battalion.
The commander of the 1st Battalion, Vlasenko, guarded the right bank of the Danube. His orders were that in case of an advance by the Turks to fall back on the 2nd Battalion and resist the enemy with their combined forces. The Podolia Jäger Regiment was to come to the town of Tulcha and thereby relieve our battalion of Vitebsk Jägers.
On 3 April the remaining two battalions set off for Tulcha where they were assigned quarters. On 6 May, as part of the force under Belgard, the regiment moved to Girsovo where they arrived a week later. After staying here two days, the Vitebtsy received the order to move back to Tulcha. The 1st and 2nd Battalions went there but the 3rd and 4th left for Brailov. By 19 June the entire regiment was again united and sent to the town of Isakchi where it stayed for two and a half months. On 15 September the Vitebtsy crossed over the Isakchi Bridge to the left bank of the Danube and came to southern Bessarabia. Here they carried out outpost duties for seven months right up to 22 March, 1855.
For the crossing of the Danube fifteen officers received decorations. General Verkhovskii himself was awarded the Order of Stanislav 1st Class.
The regiment spent the winter of 1855 in Bessarabia but on 19 May it set off on the marchfor the Crimea. The fighting there was at full intensity, and news of the brilliant deeds of the glorious defenders of Sevastopol had reached our heroes.
On 8 June the regiment took up a position on the Belbek River on the MacKenzie Heights. For about a month and a half the regiment occupied this post, ready to enter the battle at any instant, but during this time no serious clashes took place. On 21 July General Verkhovskii took the regiment into Sevastopol where they entered the ranks of that historic and glorious garrison. The Vitebsk Jägers spent twelve days in the city. The regiment was deployed on a defensive line between the South and North Bays in the Korabelnaya Slobodka [Ship Suburb]. Day and night our lads went about their work, repairing trenches and other fortifications which crumbled daily under the never-ceasing bombardment. During this time the regiment was also at the Malakhov Kurgan and Bastions No. 2 and No. 3. The total losses for this period were not heavy: five lower ranks killed, four wounded, and ten disabled with contusions. Each day the troops of the Sevastopol garrison lost up to 250 men. From the beginning of the siege up to 25 June, 1855, we lost 65,000 men in all.
It became necessary to get out of this terrible situation by one means or another, and the Commander-in-Chief, Prince Gorchakov, decided to attack the enemy using the field army as well as the forces of the Sevastopol garrision. This led to the Battle of the Chernaya River, so memorable for the Vitebtsy. The number of troops slated for the attack was 49,000. The small Chernaya River was in the hands of the enemy. The only bridge across itthe "Traktir"was controlled by the French, while the Sardinian forces bivouacked on Telegraph Hill. The position occupied by the enemy was made of three separate elevations ranged almost in a line and lying a short distance from the Chernaya River bank opposite us. On the far left "Gasfort Hill" was prominent, sown with batteries. In the center of the position were the "Fedyukhin Heights" with a long series of lodgements occupied by the French. To the right were the unscalable ravines of Sapun Hill. The total number of Turks, English, French, and Sardinians was 60,000. Not only were our forces significantly smaller than the enemys, but they would have to cross the Chernaya under fire, make their way to a deep canal covered by the Fedyukhin Heights, cross it, and then clamber uphill into the bayonets of a numerous enemy. The enemy occupied his position as follows: to the left of Gasfort Hill were deployed 10,000 Turks with 31 guns; on the hill itself were 9,000 Sardinians with 36 more cannons; between Gasfort Hill and the Fedyukhin Heights were 30 squadrons of French cavalry, while behind them stood 30 squadrons of English cavalry in the village of Kadikoi; and on Fedyukhin Heights and Sapun Hill there were 17,858 French with 48 guns.
On the morning of 3 August the encamped Vitebtsy were notified as to their deployment. The force designated for the attack was divided into:
Right column under Lieutenant General
Infantry - 25¼ battalions.
Squadrons - 3 .
Cossacks - 6 sotnias.
Guns - 62 .
Left column under Lieutenant General Liprandi.
Infantry - 30¼ battalions.
Greek Legion - 1.
Cossacks - 2 sotnias.
Guns - 70.
Reserve under Lieutenant General Shepelev.
Infantry - 30½ battalions.
Guns - 36.
Cavalry reserve of 50 squadrons, 9 sotnias, and 28 guns.
Artillery reserve of 70 guns.
General Liprandis column was to attack Telegraph Hill and then prepare to seize Gasfort Hill. The column of General Read was to draw up for battle opposite the Fedyukhin Heights, deploy the artillery, open fire, and cross the Chernaya. Neither column was to begin the attack without the express order of the Commander-in-Chief. The reserve was positioned on the left flank. At dawn on 4 August the Vitebtsy rose from their bivouac and moved towards the enemy position. General Liprandis column attacked Telegraph Hill and the Sardinians retreated. Thus the left wing fulfilled the first phase of the plan.
Commander-in-Chief Prince Gorchakov arrived on Telegraph Hill and began to observe the enemy dispositions. Seeing that the right wing under General Read has still not begun to act (not one shot had been heard), he sent his adjutant, Staff-Captain Krasovskii, with an order to "begin", meaning to begin the artillery bombardment. While Krasovskii was approaching, though, Read had already opened fire, and now the word "begin" was understood by him to mean starting the attack itself. This would be the second phase of the plan, and he ordered the 12th Division to attack the Fedyukhin Heights.
To leave Read without support as he advanced into the decisive battle would be risky. It was imperative to modify plans and transfer the reserve from the left flank to the right. "From that moment," said Prince Gorchakov, "I knew that the affair was ruined." Thus it was that instead of attacking the main objective of Gasfort Hill, it was the Fedyukin Heights which were assaulted even though they presented incomparably greater difficulties. From the reserve the 5th Division sped to General Reads aid, followed shortly by the 7th. The Vitebtsy completed this desperately daring flank movement under a terrible fire (having to cover about 14 miles). By the time the regiments of the 7th Division approached the heights the battle was already ending since Prince Gorchakov, seeing the uselessness of further attacks, had ordered the troops to fall back.
This day cost the Vitebtsy dearly with four officers killed: Staff-Captain Lyudvig, Staff-Captain Mikhailov, Sub-lieutenant Gemmel, and Sub-lieutenant Cheremisinov.
There were 51 lower ranks left on the field and 196 more were missing. There were 23 officers wounded (including the new regimental commander, Colonel Alenich) and 387 lower ranks. The sovereign suitably valued the service of his glorious regiment. Decorations were awarded to 26 officers, and 64 St.-George Crosses were awarded to other ranks.
In the battle on the Chernaya as well as during their service in Sevastopol, the Vitebtsy were under the command of Colonel Alenich, who had taken over the regiment on 5 July, 1855, when it was in position on the Mekenzievy Heights. Serving as an example of irreproachable courage, this worthy officer was in the front line all of 4 August and, himself wounded, brought the regiment out of battle at a strength of 5 officers and 1250 other ranks, which were all who remained unhurt that day. For about a year the regiment stood on the Mekenzievy Heights and on 20 June, 1856, it decamped for Russia where it stopped for permanent quarters in the city of Smolensk. While coming to the barracks, the regiment was gladdened by the favor of the Russian armys Supreme Leader. In honor of their service in the past campaign the Vitebtsy were awarded silver St.-George trumpets with the inscription "For Sevastopol 1854-1855." Eight years of peace passed and then the regiment again entered onto the field of battle, this timewith the Poles as internal enemies.
END OF TRANSLATION
1. Military Archives of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 2400 (Movement of troops to France in 1815.)
2. Military Archives of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 452 (Route of march of the 5th Infantry Corps from France to Russia. Appended to the report of the commander of the General Staff of the army to Lieutenant General Vorontsov, 17 September, 1815.)
3. "Review at Vertus (in 1815)," Bogdanovich. Voennyi Sbornik, 1865, No. 8.
4. Emperor Nicholas I, N. Ustryalov. St. Petersburg, 1847.
5. Service records of regimental commanders. Moscow Archive of the General Staff.
6. Extracts from the regiments monthly station reports from 1793 to 1848. Moscow Archive of the General Staff.
7. Review of the Wars of Russia from Peter the Great to Our Time, edited by General Leer. Part 4, Book 1.
8. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 2572. (Report of Lieutenant Colonel Gribskii of the Polotsk Infantry Regiment, commanding the Vitebsk Regiment, to Graf Wittgenstein, 1 April, 1828, No. 752.)
9. Izmail and its Historical Monuments, Staff-Captain Galkin of the General Staff. Odessa, 1902.
10. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 2718. Journal of military operations from 26 May to 10 December, 1828.
11. "The Pravody Column in 1828-1829," (posthumous notes of General Kupriyanov). Voennyi Sbornik, 1875, Nos. 2 and 3.
12. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 2723. Journal of the military operations of the 3rd Infantry Corps from 28 May to 4 July, 1828.
13. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1. Reports of General-Adjutant Graf Sukhtelen to the Commander-in-Chief for 28 and 30 June and 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 July, 1828.
14. Archive of the Odessa Military Region Headquarters. Reports of force commander Lieutenant General Ushakov regarding the operations in front of Varna on 7 and 8 July.
15. Moscow Archive of the General Staff. List of distinguished officers in front of Varna from 1 to 8 July, 1828.
16. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 2783.
17. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 2871. Journal of military operations of the forces deployed in Bulgaria since 1 January 1829.
18. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 2860. Journal of military operations in 1829.
19. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 3101. Report of regimental commander Lieutenant Colonel Chekulaev regarding participation in the 1831 campaign.
20. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 3142. Orders to General Kupriyanov and regimental commander Colonel Chekulaev for moving the Vitebtsy to the theater of war. Here also are the regiments routes of march.
21. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 3141. (The regiments routes of march in the 1830-1831 campaign and Lieutenant Colonel Chekulaevs report.)
22. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 3129. Report of General Kupriyanov to the Commander of the 3rd Infantry Corps, 24 May, 1831.
23. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 3134. Report of the regimental commander to General Kupriyanov for 17 January to 14 June, 1832.
24. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 3132 (A). Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Chekulaev relating to the campaign of 1830-1831.
25. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No. 3090. Reports of Lieutenant Colonel Chekulaev relating to the campaign of 1830-1831.
26. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 3107. Report on the number of lower ranks of the regiment at the blockade of Zamost Fortress.
27. Chronicle of the Regiment, compiled by Captain Rodionovyi, 1886.
28. Chronicle of the Russian Army, compiled by Prince Dolgorukovyi, 1864.
29. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 1714. Report on the composition of the Russian army designated for operations against the Hungarian rebels.
30. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 3292 (A). Route of march for the 3rd Infantry Corps from the day they crossed the border of the Kingdom of Poland to their return at the conclusion of the Hungarian campaign of 1849.
31. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 3283. Description of the battles of 3 and 5 July at the village of Duka and the town of Waitzen.
32. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 3287. Journal of the military operations of the 3rd Infantry Corps in the campaign against the Hungarians.
33. The Hungarian Campaign of 1849, Major General Oreus.
34. Incoming and outgoing papers of the regimental archive for 1854.
35. Archive of the headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division from 1851 to 1855.
36. Incoming and outgoing papers of the regimental archive for 1855.
37. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 3317. Routes of march for the movement of the regiment to the Danube.
38. Military Archive of the General Staff, No. 3341. Matters relating to the forces under Lieutenant General Ushakov. Here also is the order of Prince Gorchakov to the commander of the 7th Infantry Division, General Ushakov.
39. Military Archive of the General Staff, Section 1, No.3586. Military-historical journal of the movements and actions of the troops of the 7th Infantry Division on the lower Danube River in the 1854 campaign.
40. Regimental archive for 1855. List of wounded and contused field and company-grade officers in the Vitebsk Jäger Regiment during the battle with the enemy at the Chernaya River on 4 August, 1855.
41. The Crimean War, Dubrovin, volume 3.
42. The 349-Day Defense of Sevastopol, Bogdanovich.
43. The Defense of Sevastopol, Graf Totleben.
44. Sevastopol and its Military-Historical Monuments, Parskii.
1828 6 June - Capture of Machin.
" 7 June - " Brailov.
" 11 June - " Girsovo.
" 12 June - " Kyustendzhi.
" 1 July - In front of Varna.
" 6 July - " "
" 7 July - In front of Varna Fortress.
" 16 July - At Pravody.
" 22 July - Reconnaissance in force at Markovichi, near Pravody.
1829 26-31 January - At Pravody.
1849 11 June - Capture of Eperiesh.
" 12 June - Capture of Kashau.
" 4 July - Skirmish at Waitzen.
" 5 July - Battle at Waitzen.
" " - Skirmish at Retshag.
" 1 August - Surrender of the enemy army at Selosh.
1854 11 March - Crossing of the Danube at Satunovo.
" 15 September - 22 March 1855 - Advance post duty in southern Bessarabia.
1855 4 August - Battle of Chernaya River.
REGIMENTAL BATTLE HONORS
1. Regimental color (1908), plain without inscription, with Alexander Ribbons. A band around the middle of the staff has the monogram of Peter the Great and the inscription "1703. Skripitsyns Infantry Regiment."
2. Headdress badges with the inscription "For Distinction."
3. Silver trumpets with the inscription "For Sevastopol in 1854 and 1855."
4. "March for Military Distinction," formerly "The Jäger March," awarded to the battalions of the Vitebsk Regiment for distinction in the 1854-1855 campaign, while the 3rd Battalion had the "March for Military Distinction" for deeds in the war with Turkey in 1828-1829, as awarded to the 13th Jäger Regiment.
5. By Highest Authority the regiment was granted the right to play the march of the Life-Guards Jäger Regiment during receptions, ceremonial occasions, and the attack (this distinction was earned by the 13th Jager Regiment, since combined with the 27th Vitebsk Infantry Regiment).
Name: "The Sign of the Mother of God". Images on the folding covers: the Apostle Peter, St. Nicholas, St. Matthew, St. Julia, the Apostle Paul, the Archangel Gabriel, St. John the Soldier, St. Nikita, the Venerable Varlaam. On the frame of the main icon: the Prophet Ilya, St. John the Herald, the Venerable Anthony of Pechera, and the Venerable Feodosius; on the upper arch of the case: "The Last Supper". The metal frame around the entire image is gilded. Preserved inscriptions are: 1) On the reverse side of the main icon (in ink) "1736." 2) On the metal frame of the Last Supper, "Built in 1736, on the 10th day of August, refurbished in 1827, on the day of March the 12th - the total of silver and gilding is 9 pounds and 4 ounces." In 1908 the icon was being kept in the regimental chapel in brackets on the wall behind the altar.
HOLY DAYS OF THE REGIMENT'S COMPANIES, AND COMPANY ICONS
1st Company. 21 May - named the "Apostolic Sts. Constantine and Helen." Cased image. Silver metal frame. Images on the covers: St. George the Bearer of Victory and the Learned and St. John the Soldier. On the metal frames of these saints are the inscriptions "M.K.," "1821," and "1837."
2nd Company. First day of Easter. Image: "Resurrection of Christ." Mounted in a brass frame with a case.
3rd Company. 25 December - named "Nativity of Christ." Brass frame, silver plated. Cased image.
4th Company. 16 August - named "Miraculously Wrought Image of the Savior." Renovated when Staff-Captain Chernenko commanded the company in 1851. Icon frame - brass.
5th Company. 1 October - named "Protective Veil of the Mother of God." With the inscription "Vitebsk Musketeer Regiment First Grenadier Company, 1802 January the 23rd." Metal frame - chased silver. Image - cased.
6th Company. 6 December - named "St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker." Images on the covers: St. Andrew the First-Called, St. John the Soldier, Prince Vladimir the Saint, and George the Bearer of Victory and the Great. Metal frame - silver. Inscriptions: 1) On the image of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker - "Celebrate on 6 December." and on the silver plate: "By the efforts of the lower ranks of the 4th Jäger Company of the Vitebsk Jäger Regiment, this icon was renovated and repaired in 1846 on the 19th of September, during the company command of Staff-Captain Ivan Nikitevich Trubnikov 1st, and 2) On the image of St. George the Bearer of Victory: "Constructed by the lower ranks during the company command of Captain Ranelskii in 1825."
7th Company. 29 June - named "The Apostles and Saints Peter and Paul." Images on the cover: "The Shroud" and "Annunciation of the Mother of God." Frame - silver. Inscription on the plate: "This image was renovated in 1885 during the company command of Staff-Captain Velsovskii."
8th Company. 8 November - named "St. Michael Archistrategos." Image - cased. Images on the case covers: "The Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel, the Birth of the Virgin, the Presentation at the Temple, the Birth of Christ, the Lords Passion, the Transfiguration of the Lord, the Carrying of the Cross by the Lord, Assumption of the Mother of God, the Saint and Martyr Savvy, St. Kolla, St. Vakoma, the Venerable Father Sergius of Radonezh, and the Great Saint and Martyr Dominic. Inscription: "S.N.S.", "Supplication", and "Kopore Infantry Regiment 2nd Company. Painted in 1752 in the month of August."
9th Company. 8 July - "Kazanskaya Mother of God." Icon named for the Mother of God. Cased. Silver frame. The painting of the main icon is ancient while those of Saints John Chrysostom, Vasilii the Great, Nicholas the Miracle Worker, and Gregory of the Word of God are recent. On the lower part of the covers on the frame are the inscriptions "1801 Naples" on one side and "in Italy" on the other.
10th Company. 6 December - named for St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker. Images on the side covers: the Great Saint and Martyr George and St. John the Soldier. The silver frame is gilded.
11th Company. First day of Easter. Image of "The Resurrection of Christ." Frame - silver. Inscription on the reverse side of the icon: "8th Jäger Company of the Vitebsk Jäger Regiment. Built in 1852 during the company command of Staff-Captain Gortynskii."
12th Company. 15 August - named for St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker. Icon in the form of a rectangle. Silver frame. Wooden case, built in 1895 during the command of Staff-Captain Cherleniovskii.
14th Company. 1 October - "Protective Veil of the Mother of God." Brass frame. Image rectangular in a case.
15th Company. 23 November - named "St. Alexander Nevskii," image in the conventional form. Icon frame - silver.
16th Company. 9 May - name "St. Nicholas the Welcome." Built the day the company was formed in 1879. Frame - silver. Image - rectangular.
Non-combatant Company. 6 January - named "The Epiphany" Frame - brass. Inscription: "Built through the zeal of the lower ranks of the company on 25 December, 1894, during the command of Staff-Captain Sokolov".
ROLL OF HONOR
|1828, 1 July||In the battle at Varna Fortress.||Ensign Spitsyn, Sub-lieutenant Dymov, Sub-lieutenant Shchechenkov.|
1855, 4 August
In the battle at the Chernaya River.
Staff-Captain Lyudvig, Staff-Captain Mikhailov, Sub-lieutenant Gemmel, Sub-lieutenant Cheremisinov.
LIST OF COMMANDERS OF THE VITEBSK REGIMENT, 1815-1866
|Lieutenant Colonel KHOTYANITSEV||1820-1826.|
|Lieutenant Colonel CHEKULAEV||1829-1833.|
|Major General NASAKEN||1835-1844.|