(From “Voennye Anekdoty; Kharakteristika russkikh soldat,” by D. Zubarev. In Russkii Invalid, No. 159/160, 9 July 1841, pg. 630.)

The Russian Soldier’s Character

The late Major General Prince Sevarsemidze, famed throughout the Trans-Caucasus for his exemplarary courage, told me the following story, the veracity of which there is not the slightest doubt.

During the storming of Erivan in November of 1808, he was charged with bringing a battalion of the Tiflis Musketeer Regiment up to the assault. At the time he was a major and this was in spite of his being wounded not long before. From traitors the Persians knew beforehand of the day of the attack, and uncharacteristicly met the Russians very bravely. Once again Prince Sevarsemidze was badly wounded, at the very walls of the fortress. The drums beat the retreat. Grigorev, the prince's orderly, had voluntarily followed his master, and resolved to save him in spite of all dangers. Heedless of heavy enemy fire, with the help of Privates Bukreev and Psikov of the Tiflis Musketeer Regiment the wounded prince was carried out from under the fortress walls. But when still 50 yards from our battery, Bukreev was seriously wounded and could not only not help carry the prince, neither could he himself move forward without help. It began to get light; firing from the wall increased. Prince Sevarsemidze regained consciousness and saw the danger the brave soldiers were in, so he ordered that he be laid on the ground and for Grigorev and Psikov to reach their camp. But a Russian is always ready to die for a good commander. Psikov went to the battery for help while Grigorev lay on the ground and with his own breast covered the prince's head. When the prince asked why he was doing this, the brave warrior replied, “The Persians noticed us trying to save you and are aiming at us, so if they do hit their mark, the bullet will hit my head and not yours. Truly, Father Tsar needs your head more than mine.” And so it happened that when Psikov returned from the battery he found Grigorev killed with a bullet in his forehead. With the help of other soldiers, the wounded men were safely brought back to camp. Bukreev soon died in the village of Temyn in Erivan province. His last words included the wish that Erivan would soon be conquered. Psikov (by birth a Kazan Tatar) was killed in 1811 at the taking of the village of Pergidi in the Kars pashalyk.

Translated by Mark Conrad, 2010.