(From ISTORICHESKIE ZAPISKI, 1954, Book 47, pp. 291-307.)


By L. M. Frantseva.

Translated by Mark Conrad, 1997.

Russia’s victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 is forever tied to the name of the Russian military genius M. I. Kutuzov.

When he was preparing the Russian army’s counteroffensive, M. I. Kutuzov paid special attention to creating a strong cavalry force, which was needed for carrying out the "little war" of raiding and patrolling as well as to increase the army’s mobility during the advance. One of the largest of the cavalry reinforcements for the main Russian forces was the cossack opolchenie, or mass levy, which arrived at the Tarutino encampment at the end of September and the beginning of October, 1812.

The task of strengthening the Russian cavalry was substantially complete with the arrival of the Don regiments at Tarutino, and this cavalry grew in numbers up to the moment it left Tarutino, outnumbering Napoleon’s mounted forces (1). Kutuzov’s cavalry then played a decisive role in pursuing the enemy during the counteroffensive (2).

References to the 26 Don cossack regiments that came to the Tarutino encampment are found in the works of Soviet historians of the last ten years (P. Babenyshev, N. Kopylov, B. F. Livchak, P. G. Ryndzyunskii, P. Zhilin, and others). These writers correctly trace the raising of the Don opolchenie to a manifesto of 6 July, 1812, and various directives of M. I. Kutuzov (3). They note well the great significance this numerous mass levy had for the Russian army (4). However, no one has made a special study of the Don opolchenie, and thus the published information is mostly weak in conclusions and usually does not go beyond the facts as already known.

In the Soviet literature, only a few articles, of the character of compilations, are devoted to the host ataman, M. I. Platov. Of these we note A. Negin-Popov’s article (5), which not only does not provide anything new, but gets its facts wrong and incorrectly describes the issues connected with forming the cossack opolchenie on the Don. In addition, the author unconsciously repeats the tendency of the old aristocratic historiography which turned Platov into the initiator of the Don mass levy, acting directly under M. I. Kutuzov.

The impression arises that only in the second half of August (Platov’s first leave was from 18 to 25 August) did the Don population learn of Napoleon’s invasion from their ataman’s decree in which Platov summoned the cossacks out in a mass levy against the enemy. In reality, already in the beginning of August the Don cossacks were in the course of taking actions to form regiments and prepare them for campaigning.

To some extent P. Babenyshev supplements the scanty information about the Don opolchenie regiments available in the literature. However, these additions are mostly based on published sources and do not introduce anything substantially new.

In the present article, which is based mainly on new archival materials, the author sought to describe in detail the organization of the Don cossack opolchenie of 1812 and show the significance which M. I. Kutuzov ascribed to the cossack reserves as he prepared the Russian army’s counteroffensive. Our task does not include examining the question of opolchenie regiments taking part in military operations against Napoleon, since the Don opolchenie was broken up at Tarutino, with the cossack mass levies being sent to various units and parts of the Main Army. Thus, the Don cossacks’ participation in Kutuzov’s counteroffensive would have to be examined as special investigation that goes beyond the bounds of the present article.


* * *


On 12 June, 1812, Napoleon’s forces crossed the Nieman and entered Russia. Napoleon planned that by means of a sudden attack with two or three victorious general battles, he would force the Russian army to yield and then dictate peace terms to Russia. These terms would in fact deprive her of economic and political independence. However, already in the first days of the war it became clear that Napoleon’s hopes for a quick victorious war were not fated to be realized. The First and Second Western Armies managed to escape from the blows of stronger French forces and unite at Smolensk. Patriotic enthusiasm swelled within the nation. In the areas occupied by the enemy, the peasants were rising up in patriotic battle against the invaders. Mass levies began to be formed. Along with the entire Russian people, Don farmsteads, villages, settlements, and towns rallied to the Fatherland’s defense.

Don cossack men spend the greater part of their lives on campaign, taking part in the numerous wars of tsarist Russia. But this war was not an ordinary war. It was not taking place "within the borders of Turkey", or "on Swedish territory", or "in Italy", but rather the cossacks were fighting on Russian fields and defending their own Motherland.

The opolchenie of 1812 was not the first mass levy in the history of the Don cossacks. There had been earlier mass summons of all men into a host opolchenie during especially important situations. At these times all leaves and exemptions were canceled, and the regiments not only enrolled men already on duty, but also retired cossacks and youths who had not yet reached the age for being called up into service (6). Three times in the first quarter of the nineteenth century the host chancellery carried out the decision to form an opolchenie: in 1801, 1806, and 1812. In 1801, on the orders of Paul I, there was the famous Orenburg expedition of the Don cossacks, in which the entire Don Host took part except for regiments on border duty. This campaign was not popular and remained in Don cossack memories as a difficult and purposeless expedition.

In the fall of 1805 Russia, in alliance with England and Austria, entered into a war with Napoleon. A manifesto of 30 November 1806 regarding the creation of an internal mass levy did not affect the Don region. Nevertheless, the host chancellery declared that serving and retired cossacks, non-commissioned officers, and commissioned officers were all ready to join a general opolchenie (7). The forming of regiments, though, was cut short by the conclusion of peace negotiations.

A decision to call up a mass levy was issued for a third time by the host chancellery on 20 July, 1812. The situation at that time was completely different from that of 1801 of 1806. The purpose of the 1812 war was clear and understood: it was necessary to drive out the army of "a dozen languages", save the Russian land from destruction, and preserve the honor and independence of the mother country. These were the reasons for the manifesto of 6 July, 1812 (8) calling for the raising of mass levies everywhere, and the subsequent decree by the host chancellery was met with enthusiasm in the Don region. The manifesto, along with the Ruling Senate’s corresponding ukase, was received in Novocherkassk on 20 July (9). On the evening of the same day, the host chancellery adopted a wide-ranging resolution "on creating a universal host mass levy from the lands of the Don Host". A copy of this was sent to the host ataman, M. I. Platov, who was with the active army (10). This resolution prescribed in detail the procedures to form the cossack opolchenie regiments, their equipment, clothing, etc. (11)

The host chancellery sent orders to the chief investigating offices (12) and village administrations requiring them to gather together all cossacks fit for service who desired to join the opolchenie. In order to equip the opolchenie men with weapons, it was ordered that sawyers, joiners, and carpenters be set to making shafts for lances; lance heads were to be made in the smithies for those who did not have them. Chief investigating offices and village administrations were required to submit reports to the host chancellery every week. The cossacks and officers of Yagodin 2nd’s and Grevtsov 2nd’s labor regiments were taken off duties in Novocherkassk and temporarily dispersed to their homes for the campaign musterings (13). Retired cossacks and those serving on the cordons for catching runaways were directed to prepare for field service, to which end they were also send to their homes. Cossack Lieutenant, or Yesaul, Kamenshchikov was ordered to inspect the six guns of the Don horse artillery and prepare "the amount of powder and lead needed by the entire host opolchenie".

Don landowners set themselves to forming another opolchenie from the serfs belonging to them. In order to settle the question of forming a land [zemskoe] (or peasant [krest’yanskoe]) opolchenie as soon as possible, it was decided to invite to Novocherkassk all the nobles of the nearby estates. The noble meeting of 26 July issued the decision: to muster into the opolchenie 4 men aged 17 to 50 from every 100 souls [adult males] of the 76,853 peasants belonging to Don landowners (according to the 6th census). These men, called ratniki [warriors], were firstly to be armed with pikes, and then as far as possible they were to have sabers, pistols, and muskets. Each peasant member of the opolchenie received provisioning for six months (food for one month, but money for the rest). The peasants were prescribed to be clothed in cossack style with a jacket and wide sharovary pants of gray cloth. Officers were specially sent by the host chancellery to each chief investigative office to receive the opolchenie men and accompany them to mustering places. The overall command of the Don peasant opolchenie was entrusted to Colonel Stepan Grekov (14).

The host chancellery’s resolution of 20 July, 1812, as well as its subsequent sessions which met every day in the mornings and evenings, demonstrate the energetic measures adopted for the quickest possible organization and arming of the Don opolchenie regiments and their dispatch to the army.

In the settlements and farmsteads the cossacks prepared themselves for the campaign. At the same time, a courier was galloping to the Don with a new manifesto from the tsar, dated 18 July, 1812. In it, Alexander I, who had become alarmed over the possibilities inherent in the creation of a national mass levy, strictly limited the number of provinces which had to take part in raising the opolchenie. By the manifesto, the Don Host’s territory was excluded from the provinces which were to form the opolchenie.

The peasant opolchenie, according to the manifesto of 18 July, was to remain on the Don. The peasant members of this opolchenie were dispersed to their homes. Don peasants took part in the 1812 war only as soldiers of the regular army. But in regard tot he cossack opolchenie, and in contravention to the manifesto’s direct instructions, the government ataman, Major General Denisov 6th, and the host chancellery decided to continue mustering cossack opolchenie regiments (15). This decision, like the first resolution, met with the Don cossacks’ full approval as they strove to take an active part in the fight against Napoleon.

In the beginning of August, there was received in Novocherkassk Order No. 1016 from Host Ataman Platov to Government Ataman Denisov (16). As the head of the Don Host, M. I. Platov ordered an immediate call-up of all serving officers, non-commissioned officers, and cossacks who were in the Don region for whatever reason (exempt from duty, on leave, etc.). The detachments thus formed, each numbering from 300 to 500 men, were directed to head for Smolensk to report to Platov. At the same time, he suggested that a call be made to all retired cossacks and officials to be ready for campaigning. In conclusion, the ataman wrote that "the war is not a long one and depends on a universal and unanimous mass levy against the enemy invasion, and when this is repulsed, everyone will return to their homes with glory" (17). This order from Platov functioned as additional guidance for the host chancellery.

The management of forming, equipping, and sending cossack regiments to the army was centered in the host chancellery’s military office [voinskaya ekspeditsiya]. In the districts, these matters were handled by the investigative offices, and to help them there were assigned certain persons drawn from the body of higher-ranking Don officers, the so-called district chiefs [okruzhnye nachal’niki] and their assistants (18). Village authorities were responsible for mustering cossacks in their own settlements.

In the meantime Napoleon was approaching Moscow. The need to quickly organize the auxiliary forces was obvious to all, especially M. I. Kutuzov, who in August of 1812 was named commander-in-chief. This great military leader spurred on the formation of Don regiments by his direct efforts as well as through Platov. At his direction, Government Ataman Denisov sent reports on the progress in mustering the opolchenie not only to Platov as host ataman, but also to Gorchakov at the head of the War Ministry, to Kutuzov himself (19), and to the Committee for the Internal Opolchenie in St. Petersburg (20).

Regiments were formed on the basis of the districts into which the Don Host territory was divided. Each district was to find a specified number of regiments. The cossacks designated for service gathered at their villages and then rode to muster points, where they were enrolled into regiments. Regimental commanders were named from available cossack officers, both retired and those serving who happened to be temporarily in the Don region.

In February of 1812 there were 6713 serving cossacks within the territory of the Don Host. Of these, 1530 were on leave, 3080 had exemptions, about 2000 turned out to be underage and carrying out appropriate duties (having been sworn in but not yet enrolled for field service), and 153 cossacks had just been recently included into the cossack social class (21).

Serving cossacks formed the entire strengths of the regiments commanded by Popov 13th, Kuteinikov 2nd, Yagodin 2nd, and Grevtsov 2nd (22). Actual opolchenie regiments were formed primarily from retired cossacks and underage 17 to 20 year-olds; there were few serving cossacks and officers in these regiments. The opolchenie enlisted private cossacks and officers who were no older than 55 and no younger than 17. But there were exceptions. For example, in Andriyanov 3rd’s regiment the was enrolled Yesaul [cossack lieutenant] Terentii Savel’evich Shirokov, aged 60, and in Andriyanov 1st’s regiment there was Khorunzhii [cossack cornet] Nikolai Timofeevich Malakhov, who was 16 (23).

At this same time, a half-company of horse artillery was also formed, and it was intended to set out on campaign with the opolchenie. By the decision of the host chancellery, for this artillery there were assigned former gunners who had been discharged for various reasons, as well as young and capable cossacks who declared themselves willing to join the artillery. Beginning in the end of July and continuing through August, horses and various equipment were bought for the artillery command (24).

The cossacks quickly prepared themselves to march. Enrolling into the regiments took place in an atmosphere of great patriotic enthusiasm. It must be noted that even if serving cossacks were obliged by duty to take up their duties, the retired cossacks, who made up the a great part of the opolchenie regiments, joined the opolchenie voluntarily.

In special directives the host chancellery told the investigative offices to enroll into the regiments the officers, non-commissioned officers, and clerks who occupied various positions in the offices and village administrations, and replace them with older and less fit persons (25). Additionally, the host chancellery sent special officials "to the low-lying shore areas and to the fisheries, to the saltwater lagoons and onto the open sea as far as Mariupol", with the order that all "officials and cossacks engaged in work return to their villages and prepare for campaigning" (26).

The Khoper office sent an order to the village administrations for all cossack detachments guarding the host forests to return to their settlements for their inclusion into the opolchenie. To replace them it was proposed to set out mounted patrols of men not fit for service. In view of the shortage of officers for the regiments being formed, the two committees of the host court were combined into one, and the field-grade officer and non-commissioned officer thus made free then joined a regiment (27). Cossacks serving on postal duties were also ordered to prepare for campaigning, although for the time being they were left in their positions. The host chancellery sent officers along the post roads to inspect the men’s military readiness (28). The opolchenie also took in 13 students and 6 teachers from the host schools (29).

Many examples can be cited which show the patriotism of the Don cossacks. Serving cossacks waited impatiently to join the army, while retired cossacks and underage "maloletki" voluntarily went into the opolchenie.

Cossack Stepan Churilov had served for thirty years and taken part in many campaigns, including with Suvorov in Italy. Before the war, being in retirement, Churilov lived peacefully in one of the villages of the 2nd Don District. But when the universal mass levy of the Don Host was announced, he, "even though considered unfit by old age, but prompted by a unique devotion to service, left to join (the opolchenie - L. F.) and served through the course of the campaign with fearlessness, as testified to by his regimental commander, Colonel Slyusarev 1st" (30). And retired Yesaul Fedor Gladkov, who was in the Khoper Investigative Office, declared, "Although I have already served my time, and although I could live at home, my heart cannot bear the enemy menace. I want to be with our warrior brothers even in my advanced years; neither wife nor children can be dear to me as long as the evildoer is in our land." Without waiting for the opolchenie regiments to set off, Gladkov with his son and nephew rode off to the army, where they were enrolled in Andriyanov 2nd’s regiment (31).

Along with the old men, youths who had not reached the age for being called up also went into the opolchenie. Fifteen-year old Nikolai Kuz’minov, a cossack’s son, went to Major General Ilovaiskii 3rd asking that he be enrolled in the opolchenie. The request was granted. A horse and weapons were issued to Kuz’minov, who did not have any because of poverty (32). Ivan Popov, a young cossack of the Lugansk settlement, asked that he be sworn into service ahead of time and, "in accordance with his zealous desire, be ordered into service along with other cossacks." Ivan Popov was enrolled in Sulin 9th’s opolchenie regiment (33).

The existing differences in cossacks’ economic status are seen in the forming of the opolchenie. It was difficult for a poor cossack to equip himself for the opolchenie: each man setting off on campaign had to have two horses and a full set of weaponry, and many of the poor had no horses and lacked weapons. The First Don Investigative Office reported to the host chancellery that in the Razdorskaya settlement "because of poverty, some cossacks cannot prepare themselves for the mass levy." The Cherkassk Investigative Office reported the presence of 80 poor cossacks in villages near Novocherkassk, who were "unable to join the mass levy" (34). In the host chancellery, Assessors Sidorov and Mashlykov checked the readiness of the labor regiments for campaigning, and reported that 43 cossacks could not equip themselves for the opolchenie in view of their "most poor state" (35). Government Ataman Denisov 6th told the host chancellery that "there are many poor cossacks in the Don Host’s mass levy", who do not possess the means to acquire horses, weapons, or saddles (36). A chancellery message to Platov from 12 August, 1812, also provides evidence of a significant number of cossacks who were too poor to own horses (37).

The host chancellery took some measures to provide needy cossacks with weapons and horses. Investigative officers were instructed to order lance shafts [ratov’ya] and spearheads from carpenters and blacksmiths to be provided to poor men so that not one cossack would be without weapons (38). Poor cossacks were also issued with lance shafts that had been made in 1806 (1100 in number) (39). Those cossacks who had extra weapons were told to temporarily given them over to needy small-holders (40). The host chancellery disbursed 3000 roubles for equipping poor cossacks in the Cherkassk District (41). Regimental commanders Sulin 9th and Kuteinikov 6th were provided with special funds to buy horses and saddles for "needy cossacks" (42). Additionally, in order to acquire weapons for poor cossacks, the chancellery disbursed 10,000 roubles from the money donated by merchants of Novocherkassk and the Starocherkasskaya and Ust’-Aksaiskaya settlements (43).

Some 234 merchant cossacks brought in 93,600 roubles "for fitting out poor cossacks entering the opolchenie to defend the Fatherland" (44). P. Babenyshev is correct in calling this sum "more than modest", since each of the merchant cossacks put in 300 roubles for his exemption from service and 100 roubles as a donation (45).

The Don nobility donated 1500 horses (46). Finally, 32 cossacks and officials contributed to the opolchenie 3025 roubles as well as horses and various weaponry (47).

Rank and file cossacks offered horses and weapons very willingly, which cannot be said of the nobles and rich cossacks, who often speculated in regard to the patriotic feelings of their poor small-holders who wished to enroll in the opolchenie but did not have the required equipment. The number of horses donated by nobles (1500 head) reflects their miserliness; the herd belonging to M. I. Platov alone numbered 4000. Some of the wealthy cossacks deceived the authorities with false information about their donations. Thus, in several official documents of that time there is mentioned a cossack of the Starocherkasskaya settlement, Ivan Zhurkin, who supposedly contributed four horses and a set of weaponry (48). But at the beginning of September, the host chancellery found out that Zhurkin’s horses and weapons were given to poor small-holders in return for money, collecting loan papers from them. Passing off speculation as a donation, Zhurkin at the same time sought to stay out of the opolchenie and avoid campaigning (49).

In spite of the donations and monetary sums disbursed by the chancellery, individual cossacks still were unable to join the opolchenie because they did not have weapons or horses. Thus, 80 cossacks, "unable to equip themselves for the mass military levy due to poverty", were left in Novocherkassk to keep watch over construction material and for "other requirements" (50).


* * *

Already on 30 August, 1812, Government Ataman Denisov received M. I. Platov’s order from Moscow to send the cossack regiments from the Don to Moscow. The ataman ordered the regiments to go "at a forced march, without rests, covering not less than 60 versts [40 miles] a day". In the same directive, he wrote that 17 and 18-year old "youngsters" ["vyrostki"] were not to be sent on campaign, "since because of their young years, they will only be a liability, and it would also be better that they stay at home, as much as to carry out the host’s internal duties as to watch over their properties" (51). Thus, the underage youths who had not yet taken the service oath were for the most part excluded from the rolls of opolchenie members. At the end of September they were used to form replacement regiments [zapasnye polki], which in 1813-1814 took the place of disbanded opolchenie regiments and active-service regiments which had returned to recuperate (52).

Some of the investigative offices and generals directly responsible for forming regiments were slow in their duties (Ust’-Medveditsk and Khoper offices; Generals Grekov 1st and Denisov 6th), which resulted in certain regiments being late in leaving for the campaign (53).

The forming of regiments ceased at the beginning of September. In all, 22 opolchenie regiments (54) were formed along with 4 regiments of serving cossacks (Popov 13th’s, Kuteinikov 6th’s, Yagodin 2nd’s, and Grevtsov 2nd’s). Somewhat earlier, at the end of August, consequent to Platov’s order of 26 July, two detachments of serving cossacks were formed and sent to the army (55).

Each opolchenie regiment included 16 officers (not counting the regimental commander), 10 non-commissioned officers [uryadniki], and 551 cossacks (56). For the most part the regimental commanders were veteran fighting officers. Some of them had served under Suvorov and distinguished themselves in battle at Fokshany and Rymnik, and at the stormings of Ochakov and Izmail. Major Generals Ilovaiskii 3rd, Grekov 1st, and Grekov 3rd were named as the opolchenie’s senior commanders; Major General Ilovaiskii 3rd was also confirmed as the opolchenie’s campaign ataman [pokhodnyi ataman] (57).

The first regiments of the cossack opolchenie left the Don for campaigning on 11 September, 1812. After leaving different muster points on various days, they all would march along the same route through Tula to Moscow and then beyond to join up with Kutuzov’s Main Army. On 11 and 12 September Ilovaiskii 3rd’s brigade departed from the small Grushevka River, consisting of the regiments of Ilovaiskii 3rd, Koshkin, and Grekov 17th. On the 13 and 14 September the regiments of Slyusarev 1st, Ilovaiskii 9th, Shamshev, and Tranlin left from the Bystraya River. On 12 September Grekov 3rd’s and Belogorodtsev’s regiments left from the Ol’khov bend. On 17 and 18 September Chernozubov’s brigade marched out from the Kazanskaya settlement, consisting of the regiments of Chernozubov, Grekov 5th, Sulin 9th, Shumkov, and Danilov. On 16 September the opolchenie of the Ust’-Medveditsk District moved out of the Kotovskaya settlement under the command of Grekov 1st with the following regiments: Grekov 1st’s, Andriyanov 1st’s, Popov 3rd’s, Rebrikov’s, and Andriyanov 3rd’s. On the same day the regiments of Chernozubov 5th, Yezhov 2nd, and Suchilin departed from Mikhailovskaya (58). Along with the opolchenie regiments went the labor regiments and an artillery half-company under Voiskovoi Starshina [cossack major] Grekov 22nd (59).

Even before the opolchenie, on 9 September the active-service regiments of Kuteinikov 6th and Popov 13th marched out of the Kazanskaya settlement. Along with Kuteinikov 6th’s regiment went a detachment of 114 cossacks headed by two officers and two non-commissioned officers. Kuteinikov 6th received an order to go to Tula, while Popov 13th was told to go to Voronezh (60). On 18 September Denisov at the Uryupinskaya settlement reported to Kutuzov that all 26 regiments had left the Don for the Main Army (61).

Thus, 26 regiments and 3 detachments were going on campaign, totaling 15,465 cossacks, non-commissioned officers, and officers, of which there were 12,695 men in 22 opolchenie regiments (62).

Of the 12,695 men comprising the Don opolchenie, about 8752 were cossack volunteers (63). The remaining part of the regiments consisted of serving cossacks (3943 men) (64). On the average, one opolchenie regiment took in 179 serving and 398 non-serving cossacks and officers (65). In this manner, the opolchenie regiments were a mixture with retired cossacks forming the greatest part (66).

After seeing off their husbands, brothers, and fathers, the female cossacks assumed all work and labor. In an order to the host in October, 1816, Platov wrote, "In such a storm of universal upset and disaster as that which overtook our Fatherland, the Don territory was left almost completely unpopulated. All the property, homes, and children of the Don warriors were entrusted by the families’ fathers to the care of the women, who were their only helpers in family life... They preserved homes and property, in the absence of the men they fed the children left behind, who will be an asset to the Fatherland just as are their fathers" (67).

The territory of the Don Host, just as other provinces, participated in collecting donations for the army and the inhabitants of places destroyed by the enemy invasion. In the resume "Significant donations in response to the nation’s need, made...up to 15 August", 1812 (68), the Don territory is mentioned as among the provinces that contributed 16 thousand head of cattle to feed the troops and relieve "sufferings of war". In the beginning of October, 1812, Denisov 6th reported that the cossacks and officials of the Second Don District donated 260 head of livestock to help feed the army. On 2 November he said that the Don inhabitants had gathered an additional 2140 bulls and dry cows (69). However, it must be noted that while the Don population were voluntarily giving up their livestock to supply the army, some investigative offices and village atamans acted indifferently to this important business (70).

To aid people ruined by the war, during the years 1813 and 1814 there were collected in the Don region 5076 assignat roubles, 32 silver roubles, and 11 silver valuables (71) (not counting about 100 thousand roubles donated for the same purpose to the Synod at the end of 1812) (72).

By January of 1819 the total amount of donations reached 13,069 assignat roubles and 117 silver roubles. Monetary contributions and valuables were turned over by the investigative offices to the host chancellery where they were stored. Denisov 6th, his successor Ilovaiskii 5th, Platov, and then Denisov 6th again (now as host ataman) were constantly asking the head of the Ministry of Police, Vyaz’mitinov, what to do with these funds (73). No orders of any kind came in response from the ministry. Finally, in May of 1819 Denisov 6th requested permission to use the collected money to open a home for the poor in Novocherkassk where there had to live cossacks who returned from the war as invalids, as well as the needy wives and children of those who died (74). The fate of these donations remains unknown.

The inefficiency caused by the administration’s indifference to people’s poverty resulted in the funds collected on the Don were thus not used as intended. Many peasants who lived where battles took place and in villages taken by the French were left without a cow and belongings. They needed help, but the example of the Don Host shows how little tsarist officials thought of this.


* * *

At the same time as the regiments of the cossack opolchenie were marching from the Don to the main Russian forces, Kutuzov successfully completed his notable flank march from the Ryazan road to the Staraya Kaluga road and on 21 September, 1812, he stopped and set up an encampment next to the village of Tarutino.

The Tarutino period is insufficiently illuminated in the historical literature. But it is all the more necessary for researchers of the Patriotic War of 1812 to study it because while the army was at Tarutino, Kutuzov was engaged in the last preparations for the coming counteroffensive. The main objective of Kutuzov’s plan was that once he was well prepared, he would go over to the counteroffensive and end the war with the complete destruction of Napoleon’s forces.

The biggest problem in preparing the counterattack was that of strategic reserves. The tsarist administration had not bothered to create a sufficient quantity of reserve units or make efforts to equip and train them. Without reserves in general and cavalry reserves in particular, it was impossible to hope for a successful advance and pursuit of the enemy.

In preparing his reserves, M. I. Kutuzov gave special attention to strengthening the cossack mounted forces, which at the beginning of the nineteenth century made up about 50% of the entire Russian cavalry (some 42 thousand men) (75). Cossack troops, in view of their special mobility, maneuverability, and tactical flexibility, were irreplaceable, especially in pursuing the enemy and striking at his rear and flanks. The value of the cossack regiments was increased since the formation of regular cavalry reserves was hampered by the high price–and sometimes complete absence of–battlefield horses. In this regard the cossacks had a great advantage insofar that each of them had a horse for fighting and a pack horse. And there was no need to worry about the cossacks’ weapons, since they equipped and armed themselves at their own cost.

Contemporaries and participants of the Patriotic War underscored the high military value of cossack horsemen (76). In the spring of 1812, Ataman Platov wrote in a note to Alexander I, "It is known from experience how necessary and useful the cossack regiments are for wartime operations, and the more there will be in the army, the more one can expect beneficial victories" (77).

The Don reserves were very important to M. I. Kutuzov. As Suvorov, he familiarized himself with the special characteristics of cossack troops and was able to use them with the greatest effectiveness. He considered it necessary to increase the cossack mounted troops, and through M. I. Platov as ataman of the Don Host he hurried the host administration’s forming and sending of additional Don regiments to the army.

Documents from September and the beginning of October, 1812, confirm that Kutuzov, Platov, the commanders of army partisan columns, and the entire army were awaiting the arrival of freshly mobilized Don regiments (78). On 11 September Kutuzov wrote in a report to Alexander I, "The main task with which we are now occupied is manning the forces". Later, in counting up the reinforcements expected in the army, he wrote: "These horses and mounted troops are coming in at a very opportune time for me, since many of the cavalry units are greatly weakened from constant marching, so that from four squadrons they can hardly form two, as in the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry Corps. But now we have reached the projected point in the army’s operations to move onto the enemy’s rear, and cavalry is very much needed. Ataman Platov of the Don Host assured me that many of his cossacks are due to arrive at the army soon, and their lead elements are already reckoned to be in Voronezh" (79). In Kutuzov’s order to the army of 24 September he said that "there are expected in the army spirited, well-armed and well-mounted warriors of the Don Host" (80).

At the same time as the arrival of cossack regiments was impatiently awaited in the Tarutino encampment, the Don opolchenie was moving toward the army by forced marches without rests, covering 40 miles a day. This was an exceptional speed for cavalry. The regiments marched without formal order, in the brigades with which they left their muster points (81). Before they set out on campaign, Denisov 6th gave special orders to the regimental commanders "that the horses must not only be not the least bit worn out, but they must be in fit and well-fed condition, ready for action against the enemy... Take every care that during the march the cossacks are taught the ways of cossack service, which is to say they will be skillful riders and handle their lances with the quickness characteristic of cossacks. This will be done so that all ranks are brought to such a level of perfection that in their first action against the enemy they may be like cossacks who have already been on active service for many years and who have fought with the enemy many times (82).

In order to provide the horses with green fodder, the cossacks spread out on both sides of the road, moving in sotnias each a known distance from another. On the march the young cossacks received the necessary practical knowledge of cossack service: how to navigate by the stars, the way to determine distance to the enemy, how to reconnoiter, etc. The villages, rivers, forests, and hills encountered along the way were used by the veteran cossacks as a means to develop tactical habits in the young ones. The Don men on their small and hardy horses swam rivers and made their way through thick forests, hills, and ravines. In this way each regiment completed military training while still on the march—all the cossacks knew their duties well and the horses were nicely broken in.

The regiments went to Tula through Uslon, Yelets, Lebedyan, and Bogoroditsk (83). At Kutuzov’s direction, officers were sent to meet the arriving Don regiments with the route to be followed further. The need for the Don cossacks’ help was so great that some of them were ordered while still on the march to go not to the Tarutino encampment, but rather to the place where the unit to which they were assigned earlier was located.

Thus, on 21 September Cornet Gatskevich of the Mariupol Regiment was sent to meet Popov 13th’s active-service regiment marching from Voronezh (84), with instructions to transmit to Popov 13th an order from Kutuzov to "go through Tula to the Mozhaisk road to reinforce the partisan column of Lieutenant Colonel Davydov" (85). On 23 September Lieutenant Chudovnik of the Polish Lancer Regiment was sent to Serpukhov and then on to Tula to meet the regiments coming to the army (86). The opolchenie regiments of Andriyanov 1st and Andriyanov 3rd, passing through Tula, reached Kaluga in 14 marches. By Kutuzov’s orders, on 2 October these regiments were sent to Bryansk to be placed under the commander of the Kaluga opolchenie, Shepelev. Grevtsov’s regiment was assigned to Seslavin’s command (87). The rest of the Don regiments approaching Tula received were told to go to Tarutino.

At the end of September (from about the 24th through the 29th) Kuteinikov 6th’s and Yagodin 2nd’s active-service regiments arrived at the Tarutino encampment (88).

On 1 October Kutuzov reported to Alexander I that the cossack regiments "awaited from the Don have now started to arrive at the army—already 5 have come in, and 3 more are expected today, so that on 4 October there will be 24 new Don regiments here. Such a notable reinforcement in irregular forces will result in increased harassment and harm to the enemy on the part of such troops. Up to this point there have already been some partisans in action, and yesterday Captain Figner of the artillery, who has distinguished himself by his initiative, was between the enemy vanguard and our main army, where he alarmed them and took prisoners. With the arrival of the Don regiments I intend to form ten such columns and provide them with the best army, staff, and Don colonels" (89).

During the period from 29 September through 5 October the opolchenie regiments of Chernozubov 4th, Yezhov 2nd, and Suchilin all reached Tarutino (90). Platov, who was with the main headquarters in the village of Bolshoe Leteshevo, conducted an inspection of the Don regiments which had arrived at the army, and addressed the cossacks with a patriotic speech (91).

The Don regiments which had arrived at the Tarutino encampment by 6 October were assigned to the army’s vanguard: Yagodin 2nd’s and Kuteinikov’s - to the army’s left flank, Chernozubov 4th’s and Yezhov 2nd’s - to the right flank, and Suchilin’s - to the vanguard’s center. On the evening of 5 October Major General Grekov 1st arrived with three opolchenie regiments which had only been expected on 6 October.

On 6 October, 1812, cossacks under Orlov-Denisov made an attack on Murat’s right flank in which the newly arrived Don opolchenie cossacks of Chernozubov 4th’s and Yezhov 2nd’s regiments took part. In this affair Colonel Chernozubov 4th "with his regiment during the attack on the numerous enemy courageously fell onto their columns, broke into their ranks, and completely disorganized them, after which destruction he chased them until he encountered new reinforcements, under whose fire he drew up his regiment and, regardless of their (the enemy’s—L.F.) strong numbers and the heavy fire of his guns, desperately attacked them and after stubborn resistance forced them to save themselves through flight; he captured one gun during this". The cossacks and officers of Yezhov 2nd’s regiment performed equally bravely (92).

In the meantime regiments from the Don opolchenie were arriving at the army one after the other. In the journal for military operations was written under 7 October, 1812: "On this date the remaining cossack regiments awaited from the Don are expected to join the army; with those that arrived before they total 24 regiments. In spite of the forced marches they made, the cossacks and horses of this excellent host are in the best condition and impatiently desire to fight the enemy" (93). From 6 October through 10 October there arrived the opolchenie regiments of Ilovaiskii 3rd, Koshkin, Grekov 17th, Slyusarev, Ilovaiskii 9th, Shamshev, Tranlin, Grekov 3rd, Chernozubov 5th, Grekov 5th, Sulin 9th, Golitsyn, Danilov, Popov 3rd, Rebrikov 3rd, and Belogorodtsev. Thus, by 11 October all the opolchenie regiments had arrived at the Tarutino encampment (94).

By 11 October, of the 26 regiments that had left the Don 22 were gathered at the Tarutino encampment, of which 20 were from the opolchenie and 2 were active-service (95). It must be repeated that the regiments marched separately and arrived at the army one after the other, and not all at once. Most of them arrived at Tarutino after the fighting of 6 October, so only five of the regiments coming from the Don took part in the Battle of Tarutino.

The great significance which the arriving Don cossack reinforcements had for the army is seen in the remarks of many participants of the 1812 war. In particular, Denis Davydov in his notes, while saying that the French were in Moscow not for 20 days, but rather for 34, wrote: "The observation is very important, for these 14 days are what chiefly enabled Tarutino to be the superior position it was, and which had such a direct effect on the fate of the enemy army. To be exact, if the army had marched forth 14 days earlier, then not one of the field marshal’s plans would have come to full fruition. Our army would not have been strengthened by those troops which had been organized by Prince Lobanov, the training in the camp of recruits and opolchenie men put into line regiments would not have been completed, and 24 cossack regiments would not have arrived from the Don, which along with the regiments at the army totaled more than 20 thousand true light cavalrymen, who caused so much harm to the enemy during his retreat" (96).

In a letter to Platov in connection with the ataman being awarded the title of count (Graf), Kutuzov wrote, "Even if your deeds since the 6th of October up to this hour were not as brilliant as they are, then the quick arrival from the Don of 26 regiments, which played such a part in defeating the enemy, would be reason enough for this recognition..." (97). In Tarutino the Don opolchenie was broken up—the majority of the regiments, at Kutuzov’s orders, went to Ataman Platov’s corps, and the rest were sent to reinforce the partisan columns of the Main Army and the Kaluga opolchenie.

M. I. Platov’s cossack corps was formed in the first days of October, 1812. As early as 24 September, in an order to the army, Kutuzov directed Platov to "quickly gather together the cossacks who have been dispersed from your command for various reasons, except for those who are with columns in accordance with specific orders, and make them ready for operations to be assigned; concerning all service matters, all the cossack regiments with the army are to act in regard to General Platov, and are to make daily reports to him concerning all actions, in the same way as they do now with their particular commanders" (98). In the first half of October 17 cossack regiments—about 10 thousand men—were brought together under Platov’s command. Later, during the counteroffensive, Kutuzov placed most of the Main Army’s cossack regiments under Platov (99). Such a concentration of the cossack regiments was necessary since Kutuzov planned to use Platov’s corps as the most important force of the counteroffensive.

By the time the army marched out of Tarutino, the main task in preparing the counteroffensive was complete—achieving numerical superiority over Napoleon’s army. Food supplies and munitions were prepared in sufficient quantities; the troops were rested and were fully determined to continue the fight with the invaders; the partisan war expanded, in which the peasant and army partisan columns acted together. The numerical growth of the army and increasing its military ability were the most important conditions for guaranteeing the success of the counteroffensive, which began on 12 October with the Battle of Maloyaroslavets.

Before the Main Army marched out of the Tarutino encampment, Kutuzov directed Platov to take his cossack corps to the Borov road toward Maloyaroslavets and prevent the enemy from going around the town. "With this maneuver," wrote Kutuzov, "you will primarily cover the Kaluga or Borov road, whichever the enemy appears on in strength, and to which our whole army will move" (100). Platov was given the mission of falling onto the French forces’ flanks and rear and following on their heels, giving no respite either day or night. He was ordered to maintain a constant observation of the enemy’s movements, as well as to ensure communications between the individual parts of the Main Army.

The men of the cossack opolchenie participated in Kutuzov’s counteroffensive as part of army partisan columns (6 Don opolchenie regiments), in Platov’s corps (12 opolchenie regiments), and in the vanguard under Miloradovich’s command (4 regiments).

It was indicated above that a description of the cossacks’ military operations was not part of the purpose of this article, since the Don opolchenie was broken up on arriving at Tarutino and ceased to exist as such. We only note that the opolchenie regiments were returned to the Don in 1813, while the active-service regiments took part in the campaigns of 1813-1814, and only returned to be relieved in 1815.

Being a cossack opolchenie, the Don opolchenie was in many ways different from the peasant mass levies of 1812.

It consisted of free persons belonging to a special military social class. The men of the cossack opolchenie were always "horsed and armed" while the peasant fighting men were forced to go to war mostly on foot and badly armed. Cossacks were experienced fighters and could handle their weapons well and operation in mounted formations. One must also note how quickly the Don population could be mobilized.

All these positive traits, characteristic of the cossack opolchenie regiments, distinguished them from the peasant mass levies to advantage. In his own time M. I. Kutuzov familiarized himself with these traits. Kutuzov well understood how indispensable cossack regiments were for partisan columns, reconnaissance, patrolling, and pursuing a retreating enemy. For this reason each of the commanders of the opolchenie regiments received a particular assignment. In this manner, the Don opolchenie took part in the 1812 war not as a whole, but as cossack opolchenie regiments under the Main Army’s various columns, corps, and brigades. This also distinguished the Don opolchenie from the provincial mass levies.

Finally, although the provincial mass levies were sharply distinct from the regular forces, the Don opolchenie regiments, regardless of the particulars of how they were formed and equipped, took part in the 1812 war on an equal basis with active-service regiments, joining the cossack cavalry force without any restrictions.


* * *

The members of the cossack opolchenie—older men and youths—fought for the Motherland just as bravely as active-service cossacks, just as the entire Russian people. The grateful words of our military genius M. I. Kutuzov may be applied to them in full measure: "My respect to the Don Host and my gratitude for their deeds in the course of the 1812 campaign" (101).




(1) Cf. P. G. Ryndzyunskii. "Kutuzov i russkaya armiya v 1812 godu" in Trudy Gos. ist. muzeya, Issue XX, Moscow, 1948, pg. 131.

(2) Cf. P. A. Zhilin. Kontrnastuplenie Kutuzova v 1812 g., Moscow, 1950.

(3) P. Babenyshev. Donskie kazaki v voine 1812 goda, Rostov-na-Donu, 1940; N. Kopylov. "Narodnoe opolchenie 1812 g." in Voennaya mysl’, 1941, No. 8; V. F. Livchak. "Printsipy komplektovaniya i pravovoe polozhenie ratnika v narodnom opolchenii 1812 g." in Uchenye zapiski Sverdlovskogo yurid. in-ta, Vol. II, 1947. This author also wrote a dissertation on the organization and uniforms of the mass levy of 1812.

(4) In addition to P. G. Ryndzyunskii’s article, see also his article "Kutuzov v Tarutinskom lagere" in Istoricheskii zhurnal, 1945, No. 3.

(5) A. Negin-Popov. "Matvei Platov" in Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, 1940, No. 12.

(6) The male population of the Don, which in its entirety formed a military social class, was divided into two main categories [razryady]¾serving cossacks and non-serving [kazaki sluzhilye i nesluzhilye]. Cossacks were enrolled as serving cossacks when they reached the age of 19. For two years after this they remained on the Don, carrying out internal duties and counted in the host as "underage" ["maloletnye"]. Afterwards they were enrolled for field service, which was usually carried out outside the boundaries of the Don Host. When a cossack had served for 25 years on field service, he was enrolled for internal duties (service on the borders of the host, year-long guard duties within the host, police and escort duties, postal duties, agricultural obligations, etc.). After 25 years of field service and 5 years of internal duties, the cossack earned retirement [otstavka] and was transferred to the non-serving category (I PSZ, T. XXVII, No. 20483). Non-serving cossacks also included sick men who were incapable of field service, and all immature youths.

(7) TsGVIA, f. 13, op. 3, d. 11, ll. 1-6.

(8) I PSZ, T. XXXII, No. 25176.

(9) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 341, op. I, d. 172, l. 118-118 ob.

(10) I. Popov. Materialy k istorii Dona, Novocherkassk, 1900, pp.. 49-54; Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812, Rostov-na-Donu, 1943, pp. 33-38.

(11) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 55, op. I, d. 1169, l. 6-19.

(12) "Chief investigative offices" (sysknye nachal’stva) had their origin in the "officials for finding runaways" (starshiny po sysku beglykh) who were introduced in the Don region in the 1740’s. In the 1780’s they were replaced with the chief investigating offices—one in each district (K. V. Markov. "Krest’yane na Donu, in Sbornik oblasti voiska Donskago statisticheskogo komiteta, issue 13, Novocherkassk, 1915, pg. 95).

(13) In the spring of 1812 the Don Host consisted of a total of 65 cossack regiments, two companies of horse artillery, and 30 detachments [komandy]. In these regiments, companies, and commands there were 1171 officers, 761 non-commissioned officers and clerks, and 37,080 cossacks. A large number of the regiments were with the two western armies, the Moldavia army, and in the Caucasus, while the rest were in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Finland, Odessa, and the Crimea. Only two regiments were on the Don—in Novocherkassk where they were engaged in construction work.

(14) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, l. 19-22 ob., 57-58 ob.

(15) Denisov 6th’s report of August, 1812, to Alexander I, in Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 goda, pp. 38-39. A copy of this report was sent by Denisov to Host Ataman Platov.

(16) Published in the compilation Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812, pp. 31-33, with a mistaken date - 26 June, 1812. (Cf. Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op I, d. 104, ll. 2-5 ob., where Platov’s original order is preserved.)

That our reading of the document is correct is confirmed in that in his order to Denisov dated 22 August, 1812, No. 1079, Platov refers to his directive of 26 July, No. 1016 (collection of orders, pg. 40). He refers to this same directive in a report to Alexander I dated 18 October, 1812 (TsGIAL, f. 1409, d. 798, l. 1). In M. Popov’s collection of material, where this document was first published, it is also marked as 26 July, 1812 (I. Popov, op. cit., pp. 54). Finally, in "Obshchii svod dvizhenii i deistvii russkoi armii v 1812 godu" (TsGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3406, l. 10) it is indicated that on 20 July Platov was in Shelomtsa, i.e. that village near Smolensk from which Platov sent the order. The mistake in dates led the compilers of the Donskoe kazachestvo collection to place Platov’s 20 July order in front of the section "Opolchenie na Donu v Otechestvennuyu voinu 1812 goda", preceding the host chancellery’s 23 July report to Platov. This gave rise to the impression that the organization of opolchenie regiments on the Don was begun on Platov’s orders, and that the chancellery was only reporting to the ataman information in regard to the measures taken in response to these directives. In actuality, as we have already seen, events were the other way round. Even before receiving Platov’s order, the host chancellery had announced the universal mass levy of the Don cossacks, acting in accordance with the manifesto of 6 July, 1812.

(17) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, l. 5.

(18) See the already mentioned decision by the host chancellery of 20 July, 1812.

(19) See, for example, Denisov’s reports: to Alexander I, dated 5 August, 1812 (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 55, op. I, d. 13, ll. 47-49); to Gorchakov, 13 September, 1812 (V. Puzanov. "Kazaki v voine 1812 g." in the journal 1812 goda, No. 11-12, pg. 407); to Kutuzov, 18 September, 1812 (Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 goda, pg. 42), etc.

(20) TsGIAL, f. 1286, op. 2, d. 297, ch. I, ll. 7, 15.

(21) Government Ataman Kireev’s report to Platov, 10 February, 1812 (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op I, d. 103, ll. 10-11 ob., 59).

(22) Up to 1825, Don regiments were designated by the names of their commanders.

(23) TsGVIA, roll of Andriyanov 3rd’s Don Cossack Regiment, l. 7, 15.

(24) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 55, op. I, d. 1163, ll. 107-107 ob., 120 ob.-121 ob.

(25) Ibid., ll. 106, 120; d. 944, l. 90.

(26) Ibid., d. 1163, l. 120; f. 341, op. I, d. 172, l. 188.

(27) Denisov 6th’s report to Barclay de Tolly, 13 August, 1812 (V. Puzanov, op. cit., pp. 409-410).

(28) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 55, op. I, d. 1163, ll. 104-104 ob.

(29) S. Khrapkov. "Russkaya intelligentsiya v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 goda", in Istoricheskii zhurnal, 1943, No. 2, pg. 73.

(30) From Platov’s report to Kutuzov, dated 27 March, 1812 [sic, 1813? - M.C.] (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 55, op. I, d. 1314, ll. 90-92).

(31) M. Zhirov. "Odin iz dobrovol’tsev Otechestvennoi voiny", in Donskie oblastnye vedomosti, chast’ neofits.", 1912, No. 60, pg. 2. These words are quoted in the works of several local authors. However, first-hand sources on Fedor Gladkov have not been found.

(32) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. 1, d. 92, l. 24 ob.

(33) Ibid., l. 12 ob.

(34) Ibid., f. 55, op. I, d. 1163, ll. 101-101 ob.

(35) Ibid., l. 101 ob.

(36) Ibid., f. 341, op. I, d. 172, l. 23 (Host Chancellery Journal for September, 1812).

(37) Ibid., f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 25-26 ob., 54-55 ob.

(38) Ibid., f. 55, op. I, d. 1163, l. 102-102 ob.

(39) Ibid.

(40) Ibid., l. 101 ob.; d. 944, l. 91.

(41) Ibid., f. 341, op. I, d. 172, l. 23 ob.

(42) Ibid., f. 46, op. I, d. 92, ll. 37-37 ob.

(43) Ibid., f. 341, op. I, d. 172, l. 23.

(44) Ibid., f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 24-24 ob., 56.

(45) P. Babenyshev, op. cit., pg. 96.

(46) Report of Denisov 6th to Platov, dated 5 August, 1812. (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 17-17 ob., 50-60 ob.)

(47) Report of Denisov 6th to the Minister of Justice and the Committee of the Internal Opolchenie (TsGIAL, f. 1286, op. 2, d. 308, ch. II, ll. 222-223 ob.).

(48) Compilation Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 g., pp. 41-42.

(49) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, l. 46.

(50) Ibid.

(51) Compilation Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 g., pp. 39-41.

(52) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 78-78 ob.

(53) Report of Denisov 6th to Platov, dated 8 September, 1812. (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 67-68 ob.)

(54) The regiments of Maj. Gen. Ilovaiskii 3rd, Col. Slyusarev 1st, Col. Ilovaiskii 9th, Voiskovoi Starshina Shamshev, Voiskovoi Starshina Tranlin, Maj. Gen. Grekov 3rd, Col. Chernozubov 5th, Col. Chernozubov 4th, Col. Grekov 5th, Lt. Col. Sulin 9th, Voiskovoi Starshina Golitsyn, Voiskovoi Starshina Danilov, Maj. Gen. Grekov 1st, Col. Andriyanov 1st, Voiskovoi Starshina Grekov 17th, Maj. Yezhov 2nd, Voiskovoi Starshina Suchilin, Col. Popov 3rd, Voiskovoi Starshina Rebrikov 3rd, Voiskovoi Starshina Andriyanov 3rd, Col. Belogorodtsev, Col. Koshkin ("Spisok generalitetu I shtab-ofitseram, otpravlennym polkovymi komandirami s opolcheniem iz voiska Donskogo sentyabrya 18 dnya 1812 goda"—Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 69-69 ob.: Vedomost’ polkam opolcheniya, sformirovannogo na Donu v sentyabre 1812 goda—I. Popov, op. cit., pp. 32-33).

(55) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 32-34 ob.

(56) I. Popov, op. cit., pp. 32-33. Ilovaiskii 3rd’s regiment was an exception, in which there were 17 officers and 562 cossacks and non-commissioned officers.

(57) Ilovaiskie i donskie kazaki, Petrograd, 1914, pg. 37.

(58) Denisov 6th’s report to Platov, 18 September, 1812. (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 67-68 ob.); Denisov 6th’s report to Barclay de Tolly, 18 September, 1812 (ibid., l. 77-77 ob.); see also there ll. 69-69 ob.).

(59) "Donskie polki, prinimavshie uchastie v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 g.", in Pamyatnaya knizhka oblasti voiska donskogo na 1812 g., Novocherkassk, 1912, section V, pp. 17-19.

(60) Report of Kuteinikov to Kutuzov, dated 15 September, 1812 (Otechestvennaya voina 1812 g; materialy VUA, vol. XVIII, pg. 84). P. Babenyshev was in error in thinking that Kuteinikov’s and Popov’s regiments departed on 2 September (P. Babenyshev, op. cit., pg. 94).

(61) Report of Denisov 6th to Kutuzov, 18 September, 1812 (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 76-76 ob.). M. Bogdanovich was inaccurate in maintaining that the regiments left the Don region during September and in the beginning of October (M. Bogdanovich, Istoriya Otechestvennoi voiny 1812 g., vol. II, St. Petersburg, 1859, pg. 80).

(62) Being 21 regiments of 577 men each and Ilovaiskii 3rd’s regiment of 578 men. In determining the number of opolchenie regiments and how many men were in them, P. Babenyshev made a series of errors and calculated that 24 opolchenie regiments amounting to about 14 thousand men left the Don (P. Babenyshev, op. cit., pp 94-95).

(63) We arrive at this number if from the total of 15,465 men who set off in September we subtract the 6713 who were in the Don region at this time for various reasons. [I.e., 6713 cossacks already on active service - M. C.]

(64) This number is confirmed by the following calculation: four regiments and the detachments (2770 men in all) were made up entirely of serving cossacks; if this number is subtracted from the total number of serving cossacks in the Don region, we arrive at 3943 men.

(65) The calculations shown are not claimed to be accurate; they only approximately reflect the quantitative strength of the opolchenie.

(66) In his report to Platov dated 1 September, 1812, Denisov 6th directly says that the Don opolchenie was made up of "serving and retired general officers, field and company-grade officers, non-commissioned officers, regimental clerks, cossacks, and youths aged 19 to 20 who are already entered into the census books and have taken the oath to serve loyally" (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 28-30). The opinion of some writers who have said that the regiments consisted exclusively of cossacks who had already served out their time is unfounded.

(67) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 55, op. I, d. 740, ll. 1-2.

(68) TsGIAL, f. 1286, op. 2, d. 308, ch. II, l. 1.

(69) Ibid., pp. 232-233.

(70) The government ataman himself, Denisov, writes about this in a private letter (Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 47-48).

(71) Report of Government Ataman Ilovaiskii 5th to Vyaz’mitinov, dated 23 April, 1815 (TsGIAL, f. 1286, op. 2, d. 260, ch. I, l. 216).

(72) Ibid., ll. 47-49.

(73) TsGIAL, f. 1286, op. 2, d. 260, ch. I, l. 216; ch. II, ll. 22-23, 29-30.

(74) Ibid., ch. I, l. 210.

(75) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 1063, l. 37.

(76) In particular, see Denis Davydov’s Zapiski, Moscow, 1940.

(77) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 103, ll. 2-3.

(78) The expectant wait for regiments from the Don is evidenced in the articles of P. Ryndzyunskii (though it must be said without documentary confirmation). See P. Ryndzyunskii "Kutuzov v Tarutinskom lagere" in Istoricheskii zhurnal, 1945, No. 3, pg. 41. Also, his "Kutuzov i russkaya armiya v 1812" in Trudy Gos. ist. muzei, Issue XX, Moscow, 1948, pg. 131.

(79) TsGIAL, f. 1409, op. I, d. 710, ch. II, ll. 5-6 ob.

(80) TsGIAL, f. VUA, d. 3524 (with Kutuzov’s signed orders), l. 33.

(81) A fixed order of moving in columns began to be used only after the introduction of a regulation for the Don Host in 1838 (I. Krasnov. "O donskoi kazach’ei sluzhbe", in Voennyi sbornik, 1875, No. 8, pg. 306).

(82) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 46, op. I, d. 104, ll. 32-34 ob.

(83) Ibid., d. 92, ll. 81 ob., 85, 86, 111 ob.

(84) TsGVIA, f, VUA, d. 3508, l. 234.

(85) Rostov District Government Archive, f. 55, d. 167, sv. 6, ll. 21-22.

(86) Otechestvennaya voina 1812 g., materialy VUA, vol. XVIII, pg. 5.

(87) In the journal of papers from the headquarters of the commander-in-chief of all the armies, it was written on 30 September that Grevtsov’s entire regiment did not come under Seslavin, but only half (Materialy VUA, vol. XVIII, pg. 11).

(88) TsGIAL, f. 1409, op. 1, d. 798, ll. 1-4.

(89) Ibid., d. 710, ll. 29-29 ob.

(90) Ibid., d. 798, ll. 1-4.

(91) N. Smirnyi. Zhizn’ i podvigi grafa M. I. Platova, Moscow, 1821, pp. 195-196.

(92) "Spisok polkovym komandiram, otlichivshimsya v srazhenii, byvshem 6-go chisla oktyabrya protiv frantsuzskikh voisk" (TsGVIA, f. 103, op. 208a, sv. 0, d. 6, ll. 6-6 ob.).

(93) TsGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3484, l. 32 ob.

(94) Report of Platov to Alexander I, dated 18 October, 1812 - TsGIAL, f. 1409, d. 798, ll. 1-2; M. Bogdanovich. Istoriya Otechestvennoi voiny, vol. III, St. Petersburg, 1860, pg. 18.

(95) Three regiments, as already indicated, were still en route toward operational units, while the cossacks of Grevtsov’s regiment, who had been assigned to Seslavin’s group, had already left the Tarutino encampment on 30 September.

(96) Denis Davydov. Voennye zapiski, Moscow, 1940, pg. 171-172.

(97) Compilation Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 g., pp. 45-46.

(98) TsGVIA, f. VUA, d. 3524, ll. 33-34.

(99) In October-December of 1812, there were about 54 cossack regiments with the Main Army, totaling some 31 thousand men (assuming an average of 570 in a regiment). Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii himself refers to the difficulty of determining the exact number of cossacks in the army. In the various reports from 1812 one mostly sees either an approximate number of regiments, or simply references to the actions of "Don cossacks" (without any indication of their numbers). It is only possible to make the approximate calculation that before marching out to Maloyaroslavets, Kutuzov had 54 cossack regiments—28 which were with him previously, and 26 regiments which had arrived from the Don.

(100) Fel’dmarshal Kutuzov; Sbornik dokumentov I materialov, Moscow, 1947, pg. 212.

(101) Compilation Donskoe kazachestvo v Otechestvennoi voine 1812 g., pp. 10-11.