Fight near Kobrin — full defeat 15 on July (27), 1812 the Russian troops of Saxon crew in the city of Kobrin at the initial stage of Patriotic war of 1812. It is considered the first large victory of the Russian troops in Patriotic war. On June 24, 1812 Napoleon intruded in the Russian Empire on the wide front from Brest in Belarus to Baltic in the north. The main forces of French passed Neman in Lithuania and worked against the 1st and 2nd Russian armies placed there. In the south the river Bug was passed by the 33-thousand Austrian case of Schwarzenberg which set troops to Belarus under the allied contract of the Austrian empire with Napoleon. Austria was forced to participate in the Russian campaign of 1812 as the French vassal, however allowed the commander Schwarzenberg secret instructions not to be zealous and not to move away far from borders.
Schwarzenberg was resisted by the 3rd observation army of Russians of a general from cavalry of Tormasov which number strongly varies in different documents. On regular structure historians contain in it up to 45 thousand, Clausewitz determines its number in 35 thousand, and the prince Vyazma (the commander of the 15th division as a part of the 3rd army) in the notes mentions 25 thousand efficient in the 3rd army, 160 tools and garrisons of Belarus and the North-West of Ukraine which perhaps too treated the 3rd army. The observation army covered with the parts from Austria and the Warsaw Duchy the South of Belarus and the northwest of Ukraine.
From the beginning of war the Austrians covered the right flank of Napoleon from the 3rd army of Russians, having placed along border of Belarus with Ukraine garrisons on the line Brest — Kobrin — Pinsk 170 km long. First business was limited to maneuvers, Russians and the Austrians observed one after another, without engaging. On July 17 Tormasov received the order from the Minister of War Barclay-de-Tolly to affect the right flank of the French army which put in Russia a deep wedge.
The order successfully coincided with shift of troops in the opponent's camp. Napoleon recalled the Austrians on the main direction, instead of them having sent the 7th Saxon case of Rainier (17 thousand). Napoleon mistakenly underestimated forces of the 3rd army, believing that Rainier's case will be able to constrain Russians before approach to Tormasov of the Danube army of Chichagov from Moldova. The initial plan of Napoleon meant lightning campaign — to break the Western armies of Russians in decisive battle and to force the tsar to ask the world.
Tormasov attacked while the Austrians withdrew the troops, and Saxons did not occupy completely defensive line yet. At first according to the plan had to Brest, then Kobrin is taken.
Plan of approach of Tormasov
Tormasov allocated 5 kav. regiments of borders of Russia, (generally dragoon) for protection, from allied to Napoleon of the Warsaw Duchy. Then drew up cash forces to Kovel, having divided army into 5 parts:
- The group of the lieutenant general Saken covered the back, remaining in Lutsk.
- Main forces (3 kav. and 11 pekh. regiments) under Tormasov's command moved to Kobrin on the southern road.
- Group of the major general Lambert as a part of 2nd egersky and the 2nd kav. regiments it is sent to Brest.
- Group of the major general Shcherbatov as a part of the 2nd kav. regiments it is sent to Brest from other direction. Lambert and Shcherbatov's group after occupation of Brest had to attack Kobrin from West side.
- Group of the major general Melissino (1 kav. the regiment and a comment an infantry battalion) is sent to show activity to Pinsk and to mislead Rainier about Tormasov's intentions.
The general Shcherbatov occupied on July 24 Brest, having beaten out from the city of 2 enemy squadrons from Rainier's case. At the same time the general Melissino beat out on July 25 group of Saxons from Pinsk in 170 km from Brest. Rainier with the main forces was near Yanov, approximately in the middle between Kobrin and Pinsk, in a condition of some confusion, not in forces to define the direction of the main blow of Russians and their force. On July 27 the main Russian forces (to a comment to 18 thousand soldiers, 130 tools) approached Kobrin: Tormasov from the South, and Lambert and Shcherbatov's groups from the West.
Kobrin was busy with 5-thousand Saxon crew under command of the major general Klengel from the 22nd pekh. divisions of the case of Rainier. Saxons expected Russians from Brest and took a position in 2 km from the city by cavalry forces on the road and shooters along the road. From the South Saxons sat down at buildings of the estate on the suburb, blocking an entrance to Tormasov's vanguard.
Lambert in the West early in the morning attacked the opponent by forces of an irregular cavalry, trying to entice Saxons in an open field. Tormasov ordered to the general Chaplitsu to bypass with vanguard Kobrin from the East, having left a little cavalry for blocking of Klengel's soldiers who sat down at buildings on the southern suburb. Lambert managed to misdirect a barrier of Saxons, but they were fixed in city buildings, blocking a way to the city from the West. When Chaplits rushed with the 13th egersky regiment into Kobrin from the East, Lambert sent two regiments of an irregular cavalry to the northern road on Pruzhana to bar to Saxons of ways of withdrawal. Thus Klengel's crew appeared in a full environment. Saxons tried to misdirect a barrier of Russians on Pruzhana, but were rejected back in Kobrin.
Meanwhile at 9 o'clock in the morning to Kobrin the main forces of Russians were tightened. Tormasov sent 2 more infantry regiments to Kobrin, other regiments surrounded the town with a dense ring. From wooden constructions Saxons had no place to be fixed in the town. The Russian artillery easily shot any position, the city burned. From 630 city structures after fight only 79 escaped. The prince Vyazma wrote down in the diary of impression of fight next day: "All in a flame, wives, girls in one shirts, children, all run and look for rescue; battle in the fire, the fast movement of the troops, the wagon trains scattered by the enemy roaring and running cattle across the field dust eclipsed the sun, horror everywhere." By noon battle terminated, the survived Saxons headed by the general Klengel were driven into the half-ruined Kobrin lock (part of gift of Catherine II the column A.V. Suvorov) were also given in captivity.
Battle results: according to Tormasov's report about 2 thousand Saxons died, took the general Klengel and 2300 soldiers and officers prisoner, 8 tools are captured. At Russians 77 people died and 181 got wounds. The tsar generously celebrated the first large victory in Patriotic war won surprisingly with small losses. Tormasov received the Order of Saint George of the 2nd degree and 50 thousand rubles, the count Lambert — the gold saber with the inscription "For Bravery" decorated with diamonds.
In day of defeat of Saxon crew in Kobrin on the main direction the 1st Russian army receded before Napoleon to Smolensk after heavy rearguard actions near Vitebsk. Rainier did not reach 25 km Kobrin. Having learned about defeat of the crew, it began to recede on the North to Slonim pursued by Tormasov's groups. Schwarzenberg with the consent of Napoleon turned to the aid to the 7th case of Rainier. Thus Tormasov's army delayed on itself the powerful case of Schwarzenberg, having weakened the French troops on the Moscow direction.
On August 12 by the connected forces Schwarzenberg and Rainier attacked under Gorodechno (a little to the north of Kobrin) Tormasov's strengths estimated by the prince Vyazma in 16 thousand soldiers. Russians lost up to 1200 soldiers and by September receded on the South to Lutsk, having become stronger on east river bank Snatch. With approach in the middle of September, 1812 of the Danube army of Chichagov Tormasov found superiority over Schwarzenberg and on September 23 took the offensive.