The considerable part of events of Patriotic war of 1812 happened on the Belarusian earth which became the arena of large battles of the Russian troops with Napoleon's army. First of all such place names as Neman, Polotsk, Klyastitsy – places where battles of the initial stage of war were played are remembered.
Vitebsk, we Will break, Borisov and, at last, Berezina – points which gained fame in that war already at retreat of Napoleonic troops from Russia. In series of settlements Kobrin who became history as the city where within the Russian Empire the first clear and indisputable victory of the Russian weapon was won over Napoleon's army 15 on July (27), 1812 is allocated.
Strictly speaking, the victory at Kobrin chronologically was on July 15 the third victory of the Russian troops in war of 1812. Two cavalry skirmishes under the World on June 27-28 and a victory of the Russian cavalry under command of the major general Yakov Petrovich Kulnev on the river to the Western Dvina on July 3 became first. However on the scales and military-political consequences Kobrin Victoria became the most important and considerable victory of the initial stage of war.
Portrait of the lieutenant general E.I. Chaplits of a brush of J. Dow
Kobrin in 1812 – the small town of the Grodno province. In the Belarusian provinces, Lithuania and on Volhynia three Russian armies were located. the 1st and 2nd Western armies were placed along the western border of Russia and appeared on a site of massive approach of Napoleonic troops which put in a joint between Barclay de Tolly and Bagration's armies. These armies with fights receded in depth of Russia in attempt to connect.
The smallest 3rd Western (reserve) army under Alexander Petrovich Tormasov's command appeared in the deep back on Volhynia and covered southwest areas and the Kiev direction from the right wing of Great army which part the Austrian and Saxon cases of generals Schwarzenberg and Rainier were. The headquarters of the 3rd army was in Lutsk.
During the difficult initial period of universal retreat of the Russian armies there was an urgent need of the distracting actions from reserve army. In the instruction on July 5 the Minister of War Barclay de Tolly issued to the general Tormasov Alexander I's order: "… Having brought together the army entrusted to you, make advance and resolutely act to the flank and the back of the enemy forces directed against the prince Bagration who prevailed the direction to Slutsk to Babruysk; the enemy, being reruled at Brest, follows to Pinsk" ("The description of Patriotic war of 1812 on the Highest command composed by the lieutenant general Mikhaylovsky-Danilevsky", p.1, SPb, 1840, page 325-326).
Capitulation in Kobrin of Saxon troops of the general Klengel
Knowing that Tormasov A.P. army. can bring many troubles in the back, Napoleon ordered to the Saxon general Rainier to be transported to the Volynsk province. And still gravity of forces of the 3rd army was estimated by Bonaparte quite low: "Tormasov is insignificant before you, he has remains of three battalions, bad recruits, unusable in business … Circumstances of affairs are that that we threaten Moscow and St. Petersburg and when here to think to Tormasov of offensive actions with his pathetic troops" (Nesterchuk L.M. "Patriotic war of 1812 on the Brest region", Brest, 1990, page 4).
Kobrin was busy on July 11 by Napoleon's allies – Saxon troops of the major general with a total number of eight thousand people Klengel at eight tools, and Brest was taken on July 12 two squadrons the uhlan. The infantry brigade of Klengel was a part of the 22nd division of the Saxon case of Rainier. Having received Alexander I's instructions, Tormasov immediately developed military operations in the territory of the Brest region.
According to the plan, to the emperor stated in Tormasov's report of August 2, two groups headed by generals Lambert K.O. and Shcherbatov A.G., different roads had to leave to Brest-Litovsku on July 13, seize the city and turn on Kobrin. In the same time the main forces of the 3rd Russian army led by Tormasov have to approach Kobrin from the southern direction through Ratno and Divin. To one more group under Melissino's command the task to make the distracting maneuver in the direction of Pinsk was set.
Lambert and Shcherbatov's troops carried out a task brilliantly. In the appointed time Brest was cleared of Saxons. On July 15 fight for Kobrin was developed. Having occupied the Brest and pruzhansky roads, troops of the count Lambert attacked Kobrin garrison of Saxons from the North and the West. Soon troops of the general Chaplits which were ahead of the main forces of Tormasov from the southern direction appeared in time. Chaplits's group occupied with roundabout maneuver the antopolsky road, having blocked the enemy a possibility of retreat in east direction. The opponent's environment from the South was finished by the main forces under Tormasov's command.
Klengel received the instruction from Rainier to hold Kobrin by all means. The commander of Saxon crew directed a cavalry to the Brest road, however it did not manage to stop Russians. The same history repeated on the pruzhansky road. In Tormasov's report the emperor of August 2 was given the detailed description of Kobrin fight.
Numerous attempts of the enemy to beat off attacks of the Russian troops and to escape from the city are mentioned: "… how soon the road to the town of Antopol was stopped and the city is attacked by the 13th egersky regiment, the major general count Lambert sent immediately the lieutenant colonel prince Madatov … to cut off the road to Pruzhanam on which the enemy several times attempted to open for itself a way, but every time was turned into the city with a big loss the killed and prisoners, that occurred also on Antopolskaya Road from the major general Chaplits of vanguard; and 13 egerskiya a regiment vstupya and pursuing the enemy on shoulders it entered the city …"
Street fight was started. To the aid of the 13th egersky regiment which hardly kept the Ryazhsky infantry regiment was sent. Saxons concentrated in the center of the town, on an eminence about the lock. About 10 o'clock in the morning the general storm of Kobrin began from all directions. The artillery lit the city in several places, and soon the opponent was forced to recede in the suburb.
In Tormasov's official report we read: "The enemy was protected desperately both in the strengthenings, and behind a stone monastic fencing and on the drawbridge which is in the city on the river to Mukhovtsa; but with excellent bravery and resolute action of troops of your Imperial Majesty after the bloody battle continuing nine hours it was struck everywhere".
In the escaped strengthenings of the monastery the enemy infantry laid down arms. As a result of hours-long fight the Russian troops captured the major general Klengel, three colonels, the 63rd staff - and subaltern officers, 2234 corporals and privates. Winners got 8 guns and the 4th banner. The opponent lost more than two thousand the killed. Losses of Russians were made by 77 dead and 181 wounded. At the same time the city considerably was damaged: during the fire 548 houses burned down, only 82 escaped. The died property is estimated at 270 thousand rubles by silver ("The description of Patriotic war of 1812 …", page 331.). These data are provided on sources by the closest on time to the described events. Later data on losses of the parties were provided in other options, however data on prisoners and trophies were not called in question.
To say that Saxon troops were bad allies to Napoleon and therefore did not strain to be in action at all, it is not necessary. Resistance shown by Klengel's crew was more than persistent, despite a superiority in strength of the Russian forces. Nine hours of fight for the small town consisting of several streets – the best for that the proof. After fight Tormasov in honor of the bravery shown by Saxons returned to all captured officers of a sword.
The victory at Kobrin was not slow to pay to it special attention of the emperor. Alexander I awarded Tormasov with the highest reskript: "Alexander Petrovich! Very I thank you and all your subordinated for the victory won by you over the enemy. In expression of osoblivy our goodwill to your feats, I send you St. Georgy's award of the second class and as I know that your state is not very superfluous, I appoint to you at a time 50 000 rubles. Hoping that bravery and your diligence and the troops entrusted to you will not weaken and from now on to strike to enemies of the Fatherland strong blows, I stay to you favorable Alexander. St. Petersburg of July 28 1812" ("Acts Russian the commanders and generals who marked themselves in memorable war with Frantsiyey in 1812, 1813, 1814 and 1815", p.1. SPb, 1822, page 277-278).
Other heroes of fight were also not forgotten: the count Lambert was granted the saber decorated with diamonds with the inscription "For Bravery"; the prince Madatov received diamond signs of the Order of St. Anna of the 2nd degree; Chaplits – signs of the Order of St. Anna of the 1st degree with diamonds.
Certainly, the Kobrin victory on the right flank of the Great army which is actively attacking Russia in military sense had local value. However its moral and political value was highly appreciated in troops and society. Mikhaylovsky-Danilevsky A.I. then noted:
"The success near Kobrin is especially remarkable on the accuracy with what the movements were made by various groups which appeared in time from far away to the appointed place in a certain day and hour. But the victory this won on July 15th … is mainly important because was the first since invasion of the enemy into Russia. Then, after continuous reports about retreat of Barclay de Tolly and the prince Bagration, for the first time the thunder of guns from the Peter and Paul Fortress pleased residents of the Northern Capital. The destiny provided to Tormasov an enviable fate in time, sad for Russia: to the first to console the compatriots in a joyful message" (Nesterchuk L.M. Decree. soch., page 5-6). Kobrin business became history as the first large and convincing victory over Napoleon's army in the territory of Russia.
One more important aspect of a Kobrin victory was noted by contemporaries: the demoralizing action on the Polish political and military circles. It is no secret that as a part of Great army there were many military formations of the Polish origin. First of all it is the fifth Polish case under command of the Minister of War of the duchy Warsaw, the nephew of the last Polish king prince Józef Ponyatovsky. At the same time the considerable part of a shlyakhta of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was eager for a revenge for the territories lost by 1795 by means of Napoleon.
Mikhaylovsky-Danilevsky wrote: "Kobrin business conceived also great moral influence on the Warsaw duchy, both on left, and on the right side of Neman. When Poles learned that Tormasov broke Saxons … in all duchy and in Warsaw the confusion became the general. The former confidence in success gave way to a fright. From Konigsberg to Warsaw everything came to nervousness" ("The description of Patriotic war of 1812 …", page 331-332).
The French ambassador who was at this time in Warsaw wrote: "In a flash all inhabitants rushed from the right coast of Vistula on left. From now on the general spirit fell and more did not revive any more … The Supreme government, expecting the threatening danger, took all measures for ensuring the departure, rescue of state property, establishment in the lack of temporary management and an obezoruzheniye of Russians of humility" (Page 332 in the same place). Active actions of army of Tormasov held down significant forces of the enemy that has an adverse effect on Napoleon's army in general.
As a result of a victory near Kobrin the Russian army almost from the very beginning of war took an initiative on the southern battlefield. It did extremely unstable backs of Napoleonic army and was one of the reasons of defeat of French in war.
The victory at Kobrin laid the foundation to a myth dethronement about invincibility of Great army. The remarkable success of army of Tormasov gave hope for the future victory of the Russian weapon that could not but affect moral spirit of the people and army in that hour, heavy for the Fatherland.
It is remarkable that Kobrin lands shortly before 1812 belonged to the great Russian commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov. He was the owner of a manor the Kobrin Key since 1795 until the end of life. Suvorov in 13 years prior to the described events happened to head troops of the anti-French coalition and to the first of the Russian commanders to conduct military operations against Napoleon's army in Western Europe.
In the 1799th, as we know, the Russian troops won a number of brilliant victories over young Bonaparte's army. Future hero of Patriotic war Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration who almost constantly was at Suvorov took the most active part in these campaigns. After these campaigns Suvorov spent several last months of the life in Kobrin, trying to restore the reeled health. The commander left the Kobrin manor to St. Petersburg where soon and died.
And in 1812 the Kobrin manor of Suvorov became first "stone" about which Napoleon's army which was considered invincible stumbled. It seems that so symbolical coincidence is not casual …
In 1911, on the eve of century of Patriotic war, in a number of the places connected with outstanding events the construction of monuments was planned. There was such monument and in Kobrin. Funds for its construction arrived from descendants of heroes of a Kobrin victory – the regiments which were taking part in battle and also from the regiments placed in Kobrin both near it and from the civilian population of the Grodno province.
The Grodno civil engineer Markov D.V. was the author of the project, stone works were carried out by the master Yarosinsky from Brest. The famous Warsaw sculptor Sigismund Otto was engaged in a molding and casting of a bronze eagle, execution and installation of memorial marble plates. The ceremonial opening of a monument took place in September, 1912. Military parade for participation in which there arrived znamyonny platoons from the regiments building a monument and numerous delegations was organized.
The monument represented the granite pedestal topped with a big bronze two-headed eagle with widely open wings. A beak and claws the eagle broke off the laurel wreath with a Latin letter N in the middle symbolizing crash of the myth about Napoleon's invincibility. On a front marble board it was cut: To "The Russian soldiers who won the first victory over Napoleon's troops within Russia on July 15, 1812". One of two lateral boards contained a list of participating regiments of fight, the list of the military units constructing a monument was given in the second.
On a socle of a monument four pig-iron mortars with pyramids of five-pood bombs of such systems what consisted on arms of the Russian army in 1812 were established. In an original form the monument existed not for long. In the years of World War I the German soldiers in a pursuit of non-ferrous metal stole in the beginning an eagle who was sent for melting, and then removed memorial boards. In the 1930th years on the empty pedestal the Polish administration set up Tadeush Kosciusko's bust of work of the Kobrin sculptor Balbina Svitich-Vidatskaya. In such look the monument staid up to 1951.
On the eve of the 140 anniversary of Patriotic war of 1812 at the initiative of the first director of the Kobrin military and historical museum of A.V. Suvorov Alexey Mikhaylovich Martynov it was decided to restore initial shape of a monument. The bronze eagle was newly executed by the sculptor, the honored worker of arts of BSSR, professor Kerzin M. A. However, the exact copy of the lost original did not turn out. It is difficult to imagine emergence on a pedestal of a two-headed imperial eagle in Stalin time therefore the new eagle became single-headed with the intact laurel wreath without Napoleon's monogram. The sense of symbolics changed, and now the wreath crowned glory of the Russian weapon.
At the same time on the face the escaped real memorial board which on decay was replaced with the new copy only in 2009 was strengthened by miracle. The original took the worthy place in funds of the museum.
Texts of two lateral boards destroyed during World War I with great difficulty managed to be found and updated in 1954. On one of them we read: "Under the command of a general from cavalry of Tormasov regiments participated in capture of enemy group in Kobrin: infantry – Ryazhsky, Apsheron, the 13th egerskiya, a pioneer company of the captain Kutsevich; dragoon – Starodubovsky, Vladimir, Tver, ulansky – Tatar; hussar – Pavlohrad, Alexandria, Lubensky, Cossack – Drummers; artillery companies – easy No. 34 and horse No. 11 and 12".
On other board words are engraved: "It is built by descendants of heroes of the Kobrin victory, regiments: infantry – the Ryazhsky and Apsheron, 9th engineer battalion, dragoon – Starodubovsky, Tver; ulansky – Vladimir, Tatar; hussar – leyb-Pavlogradsky, Alexandria, Lubensky; the population of the Grodno province, with the participation of regiments of the 38th infantry division and the 38th artillery crew. On July 15, 1912".
Narrate expositions of the Kobrin military and historical museum of name A.V about these events. Suvorov founded in 1946. Today the museum is the hallmark of the city; today it is the only museum in Republic of Belarus bearing a name of the legendary commander.
Elena Babenko's article, directors of the Kobrin military and historical museum of Suvorov A.V., magazine Homeland, No. 6, 2012 of, page 35-38.