Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns


The Battle of Borodino: Reports

By Alexander Mikaberidze

Peter Bagration to Emperor Alexander, No. 488, 27 August [8 September] 1812, Mozhaisk.

Your Majesty,

Following the retreat of both our armies from Smolensk, staring on 6 [18] August, we finally stopped on 23 August [4 September] at the village of Semeyonovskoye, about ten versts from the town of Mozhaisk. The enemy, continuously pursuing our army, had driven our advance post on 24 August [5 September] and approached the line occupied by our armies by 10 a.m. that day. At that moment, a bloody battle ensued and continued nine hours until late night. The enemy's attack, made with considerable forces, was directed mainly against the left flank, occupied by the 2nd Army under my command. Although the enemy was continuously reinforced and, replenishing his column, sought to rout my troops, he was everywhere defeated with heavy losses due to the gallantry of the Russian troops, which is, I hope, reported in detail in our Commander-in-Chief Prince Golenischev-Kutuzov'z report to Your Imperial Majesty. On the 25th [6 September], there were no significant incidents, except for occasional skirmishing. On the 26th [7 September], at the very dawn, the enemy launched a powerful [usilneisheye] assault and the battle began so savage, desperate and murderous that there are hardly any other examples like it. The enemy corpses were heaped in mounds and this place can justly be named the tombstone [grobom] of the French. On our side, the losses are equally considerably but still much less than those of the enemy. This day, Your Majesty, the Russian army – from a soldier to a general - demonstrated perfect fearlessness and unheard of gallantry. The enemy witnessed and experienced first hand that the Russian warriors, burning with a genuine love to Your Majesty and the Fatherland, were all ready to shed their blood defending Your Augustine [avgusteishii] throne and the Fatherland. This day would remain renowned in posterity for the exceptional heroism of the Russian soldiers, who eagerly sacrificed their lives. In the 2nd Army, entrusted to me and still occupying the left flank, which, as on 24th, the enemy directed its main thrust, hardly any staff officer survived without a wound, while almost all corps and division commanders are injured, including Lieutenant General Count Vorontsov, Kretov and Prince Mecklenburg, Your Imperial Majesty's Adjutant Generals Count St. Priest, Chief of Staff of the 2nd Army, and Vasilchikov, who suffered a contusion. They all served as example of fearlessness and gallantry to other troops while their prudent orders helped our troops to gain an upper hand over the enemy.

Bearing a witness of their exploits in front of Your Imperial Majesty, I dare to ask to reward [these officers] with ranks and awards, as well as Major General Neverovsky, who in addition to the heroic exploit at Smolensk, described in my report of 5 [17] August, also demonstrated his exceptional gallantry and prudence in direction in the battles of 24th and 26th August [5 and 7 September].

Your Majesty, although in the battle on the 26th, I was wounded quite seriously in the left leg by a bullet that shattered my bone, I have no regrets about it, being always ready to sacrifice the very last drop of my blood in defense of the Fatherland and Your throne. I only regret that at such an important moment I am no longer capable of rendering my service…

Matvei Platov to Mikhail Kutuzov, date not indicated, circa mid-September 1812

Having received in the evening of 25 August [6 September] Your Excellency's order, I traveled to the right flank of the 1st Army, arranged in battle disposition near the village of Borodino and, having issues instructions to the Cossack regiments, commanded by Major General Olovaisky V, I dispatched a detachment of Colonel Balabin II, consisting of five sotnyas of the Atamanskii Regiment, about fifteen versts to the right in order to observe the enemy movements that might be directed to turn our flank. I ordered Lieutenant Colonel Vlasov III and his regiment to keep an eye on the enemy movements, maintain contact with Colonel Balabin and reinforce him if needed.

I myself led the [Don Cossack] Regiment of Ilovasiky V, Grekov XVIII, Kharitonov VII, Denisov VII, Zhirov and parts of the Atamanskii [Don Cossack] and Simferopolskii Horse Tatar Regiments left our camp around 7 a.m. on 26 August [7 September] and proceeded to the left flank of the enemy army. Before the arrival of Lieutenant General Uvarov's corps, I acted offensively against the enemy cavalry and infantry deployed in the woods, charging its multiple times, routing the enemy cavalry and capturing about 200 cavalrymen and infantrymen [konnykh i pekhotnykh strelkov.]

After its arrival, the abovementioned cavalry corps under command of Lieutenant General Uvarov led the attack on the enemy left flank located to the right [naprave] from the village of Borodino and, having driven the enemy, used its artillery to suppress an enemy battery that was located at the edge of the woods and operating against the [Russian] corps. I, meantime, ordered the abovementioned Don Cossack Regiments, joined by Vlasov's regiment, to proceed to the right, partly into the enemy flank and partly into the rear, behind the already mentioned woods, and make a rapid attack against the enemy.

The enemy, located behind the woods, was routed as a result of the brisk assault of these regiments, leaving many killed and about 250 men of various ranks captured, who were immediately sent to the Headquarters [Glavnoye dezhurstvo] of the 1st Western Army.

After suffering a series of serious defeats, the enemy did attempt to attack but was repeatedly driven back until the nightfall. Colonel Balabin, operating partly against the enemy flank and partly into the rear, continued to harass the enemy, delivering captured enemy soldiers after rejoining me the following day.

I am presenting to Your Excellency's consideration the indefatigable enterprise and outstanding gallantry demonstrated in this battle by Major General Ilovaisky V, who commanded the Don Cossack regiment and regimental commanders to contributed to the enemy's defeats: Lieutenant Colonel Vlasov III, especially Lieutenant Colonel Kharitonov II, who led all charges from the front, the Host starshina Zhirova, who commanded Denisov III's regiment, the Host starshina Pobednov and Lieutenant Colonel Prince Balatukov of the Semfiropolskii Horse Tatar Regiment, who, commanding their regiments, served as examples of gallantry and inspired their subordinates with their actions. I present this nomination list and humbly request Your Excellency to reward these men as they merit.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2007

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