Articles about Kobrin: As a part of the Russian Empire

Victories on flanks

Having remembered history, it is possible to claim that in the second half of July war began already really. On July 16 vanguard of the 3rd Reserve observation army which was ordered by the major general of columns K.O. Lambert, crossed the border of the Russian Empire and, having entered on the territory of the Warsaw duchy, vassal from France, occupied the town of Grubeshov. The victory was though small, but Napoleon received sensitive click on a nose...

Next day, on July 17, the 1st Western army of Barclay-de-Tolly left ill-fated Drissky camp to which to all plans contrary to Bagration's army could not break through because the marshal Davout already occupied Minsk. Then, having left the camp threatening to become a trap, troops of the 1st army are transported through Dvina and move to Polotsk, there they are not late and direct to Vitebsk not to allow round by French of the left flank.

Monument to the Russian soldiers in Kobrin

On July 23-24 in 12 versts from Mogilev there was the well-known matter in the district of the villages of Saltanovka and Dashkovka. In that fight the 7th infantry case of the general N.N. Rayevsky and part of forces of the case of the marshal Davout resisted. The prince Bagration set to Rajevski the task to carry out "the strengthened reconnaissance" that on its results to solve – or to conduct the 2nd Western army to Mogilev, or to be transported through Dnieper below this city.

It is considered though it and is not confirmed with sources and besides it was denied by Nikolay Nikolaevich Rayevsky that in fight for a dam at Saltanovka he led the Smolensk infantry regiment in attack, having taken the young sons officers by hands (younger of them, Nikolay, was only 10 years old). Contrary to all denials this legend lives still.
During this fight the Russian rear guard detained French, as a result of army of the 2nd Western army could make freely march maneuver towards Smolensk.

Meanwhile on the northern flank of the main forces of the Russian army Barclay-de-Tolly was under the constant pressure of ranks of its staff and the case commanders wishing decisive battle. On July 24 the 4th infantry case of the lieutenant general A.I. Ostermana-Tolstoy sent to detain the coming French, met in 7 versts to the west of Vitebsk vanguard of the cavalry case of the general count Nangcuti and put to flight to the town of Ostrovno. However the next morning it was attacked by vanguard of the marshal Myurat: three-day battle under Ostrovno – Kakuvyachino – Vitebsk began. It was the first serious collision of army of Barclay-de-Tolly with the main forces of Napoleon.

In fight the major general M. M. Okulov, the commander of infantry brigade of the 4th case – the first of our generals who died in Patriotic war was killed on July 25. (All in 1812 were killed or died of wounds of 16 generals of the Russian army.)

Events on a battlefield developed paradoxically at this time: in the center of a position the Russian army with rearguard actions receded, but on flanks smashed the opponent. So, on the left flank serious success was achieved by troops of the 3rd Reserve Observation army.

On July 25 the group of the major general prince A.G. Shcherbatov beat out Saxons from Brest-Litovska, and on July 27 vanguard the column K.O. Lambert was taken by the city of Kobrin, having crushed the five-thousandth Saxon garrison which was there. The major general Klengel ordering group, 3 colonels, the 59th staff – and subaltern officers, about 2 thousand lower ranks and 8 tools were taken prisoner. In honor of this victory in St. Petersburg the first in Patriotic war artillery salute was made.

The loud victory was reached also on our right flank. The case of the marshal Oudinot aimed at St. Petersburg, having transported through Dvina about Polotsk, occupied the village of Klyastitsy, thereby cutting lines of supply of the Separate case of the count Wittgenstein. On connection with Oudinot the case of the marshal McDonald which got stuck near Riga soon had to approach.

On July 30 columns Wittgenstein, having 23 thousand people at 108 tools, attacked the surpassing opponent – Oudinot's case made 28 thousand at 114 tools. The vanguard which the major general Yakov Petrovich Kulnev, the chief of the Grodno Hussars, equally known for the ordered courage and nobility engaged. History was become by the phrase of the legendary hussar: "The mother Russia is good already the fact that in her some corner and fight".

On July 31 around Klyastits already main forces of both parties fought. French suffered notable losses and were forced to recede, having thrown not only wagon trains, but also wounded. Shameful this flight found the reflection in the Russian soldier's folklore. "We are not afraid of Oudinot, he for us nothing –..." – sang the lower ranks, having gracefully rhymed a name of the French marshal.

This battle became the largest victory of the Russian troops in one and a half months of Patriotic war. The success accompanied the Russian Empire and on the diplomatic front. On July 18 in the Swedish city of Erebra the peace treaty between Russia and England according to which since August 16 the Russian ports were open for the English vessels was signed. The English-Russian relations, I will explain, were interrupted in 1807 when according to the agreement between Alexander I and Napoleon Russia joined continental blockade; since 1808 England and Russia formally were at war. On July 20 in the city Velikiye Luki the allied contract between Russia and Spain – two countries of Europe which fought back Napoleonic aggression was signed – certainly, the contract had not practical, but serious political value.

However Alexander I's hope for the practical help of London, including financial, did not come true. Even 50 thousand guns which came to the Russian army from foggy Albion were faulty. London hoped for dragged-out war of France and Russia which will exhaust both empires and will help England to become the mistress of the situation in Europe. The main thing for British was not to allow reconciliations of Paris and St. Petersburg.

Alexander I tried to get on with London, remembering tragic destiny of the father, but did not achieve sincerity in the relations with British...

Let's MAKE small digression to history. Paul I considered that war between Russia and France is favorable to other European powers (to England, Austria, Prussia), but not to Paris and St. Petersburg. Therefore in 1800 he put an end to a foreign campaign of the Russian army. The British ambassador Uitvort concerned by such turn of the Russian foreign policy those days wrote: "Emperor true not in the right mind".

British in St. Petersburg had allies among the imperial nobility, among them – the vice-chancellor Nikita Panin who, still being the ambassador in Berlin (1797-1799), sabotaged instructions of the emperor to promote rapprochement of Russia with France and secretly participated in coalition break-in against France as nursery of "a revolutionary infection".
In the same number of conspirators – Semyon Vorontsov, the Russian ambassador in London (1785–1800, 1801-1806). The native of Hanover general Bennigsen who did not learn to speak Russian also belonged to number of active opponents of the son of Catherine the Great.

The union of Russia and Napoleonic France which was outlined at Pavle sharply would change all geopolitical situation in Europe. Paris and St. Petersburg became allies in opposition to London. In January, 1801 Pavel suggested Napoleon "to make something on coast of England".

The ataman of Army of Donskoy Vasily Orlov received a message order the Cossack regiments to Orenburg where he had to expect further orders. In a reskripta of the emperor it was told: "India where you are appointed, is operated by one chief owner and many small. British have at them the institutions trade, acquired by money or the weapon, and all this to ruin the purpose and to release oppressed owners also caress privest Russia in the same dependence in what they at British, and to turn the bargaining to us".

On March 1, 1801 the ataman Orlov with all 40 regiments of Army of Donskoy acted to Orenburg. It was supposed that the French forwarding case across the Black Sea will arrive to Russia, then through Taganrog and Tsaritsyn will proceed to Astrakhan and together with the Russian troops it will be transported through the Caspian Sea. From the Persian port of Astrabad through Kandahar by September allies planned to reach India belonging to British.

However in the night of March 12 in the Mikhailovsky Castle in St. Petersburg the emperor Pavel was killed. Napoleon, when reported to him about death of the ally, allegedly threw the phrase: "They missed on me... but got to me in St. Petersburg"...

At Alexander I the anti-Napoleonic opposition in the imperial nobility considerably amplified. "the old yard" of the empress-mother Maria Fyodorovna (till a marriage – the princess Sofia Vyurtenbergskaya), Ekaterina's grandees, many representatives of the aristocracy concerned to her.

The Tilsit world to which Alexander was forced by military defeats on fields of battles in Europe, apparently, gave an opportunity to renewal of the political line of his father – the emperor Pavel. But most of the nobility of the Russian Empire were hostile to such prospect. Capital grandees actually ignored the first ambassador of Napoleonic France general Savary in St. Petersburg.

The available documents allow to claim that Napoleon in 1807 tried to strengthen the union with the Russian Empire, considering that between Paris and St. Petersburg, unlike the relations with London, there are no irreconcilable contradictions. Edifying Savary, he claimed: "... If I can strengthen the union with this country and give it long-term character, feel sorry for nothing for this purpose".

In 1807 in diplomatic circles rumors, perhaps inspired British began even to circulate that the Russian emperor can repeat destiny of the father. According to the Swedish ambassador Stedinga, the discontent with a new course of the tsar set so far that the possibility of his violent elimination and accession to the throne of his sister – the grand duchess Ekaterina Pavlovna under a name of Ekaterina III was not excluded.

The princess differed in imperious ambitions and, in fact, together with mother became soul of the anti-French party at court. Since 1809, after a marriage with prince George Oldenburgsky appointed the Tver, Novgorod and Yaroslavl governor general she lived in Tver which turned into the center of opponents of the Tilsit world.
Napoleon tried to support the new ally first. In the letter to the ambassador Savary he wrote: "British send a devil on the continent. They say that the Russian emperor will be killed...". The French ambassador warned the Russian emperor about a possibility of attempt and even recommended to purge in the ministries. The tsar in turn did not hide in conversations with the Frenchman of existence of opposition at court. As Savary claimed, Alexander recognized that he is disturbed by the general Bennigsen ordering the Russian of the western army, the participant of plot against his father: "... Bennigsen – he is in a sense a traitor and it is capable to get up in the leader of the party acting against me".

... In JUNE of the 1812th Napoleon entered on a warpath with Russia that became the biggest mistake of this great commander. In "the second Polish campaign" as he called the campaign in Russia, at it it was not taken at once. Contrary to expectations the main forces of the Russian troops did not allow to break themselves in parts and avoided resolute battle in unprofitable conditions for themselves. Having involved on open spaces of the Russian Empire, the French commander understood on the first month of campaign that it is necessary to create rear base for the further movement in depth of Russia and to tighten reserves – the 9th case of the marshal Victor from Germany.

More and more also national heterogeneity of Great army began to affect. Fighting capacity of the parts completed with Italians and Germans (Bavarians, vestfalets, etc.) was low. They gave bulk of deserters who in the back of the French army got off in gangs of marauders.

The French quartermasters because of considerable distances and hostility of local population did not cope with supply of army. The 20-day stock of the food and fodder taken with itself was eaten. It was necessary to create shops, i.e. army warehouses, in the busy territory – in Kovno, Olita, Mereche, Grodno, Vilno. There stocks from the Warsaw duchy were thrown on carts under considerable protection.

The Poles straining to be in action from "moskovita" were the most efficient among Napoleon's allies. But fervor served them bad service more than once. So there was, for example, in fights under the town a World. In the morning on July 10 the 4th easy cavalry division of the count Rozhnetsky approached the World. She should have waited for arrival of artillery, but Rozhnetsky, having only 6 ulansky regiments, was torn to revenge the general Platov for failure of previous day. As a result the division of Poles was crushed.

Rafts in the official report told the prince Bagration: "I congratulate V.S. on a victory and on a victory rare over kavaleriyeyu. What the prince Menshikov informed you of, was only the beginning. After that strong battle continued hour four. A breast on a breast; so I ordered to move up the hussar, the dragoon and huntsmen. The major general Kuteynikov appeared in time with his crew and struck from the right my flank on the enemy so from 6 regiments enemy there will hardly be one soul, or, perhaps, will escape a little, and century with-vu I cannot describe all – also lying was tired I write on sand...". The Polish uhlans lost that day the killed up to 800 people, more than 170 people were taken prisoner.

The prince Bagration did not stint awards. In one hundred each of the Cossack regiments participating in battle on July 10 he appointed four St George's Crosses, the major Davydov was awarded "for unprecedented bravery" the Orders of Saint George of the 4th class...

Ahead there was an August – month of cruel battles in which the Russian regiments covered the banners with fadeless glory.