Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns

 


The Battle of Borodino: Reports

By Alexander Mikaberidze

Ivan Udom* to Nikolay Lavrov**, 31 August [12 September] 1812

On Your Excellency's orders, on 26 August, the Life Guard Litovskii Regiment was sent to the 2nd Western Army of General of Infantry and Chevalier Prince Bagration near the village [of Semeyonovskoye], to the left of Borodino, where it was deployed on the ridge anchoring our left wing with orders to protect batteries and defend the position. On regiment's arrival to this site, the enemy made a strong attack on our battery and, upon being informed by Artillery Colonel Taube, I led the 2nd Battalion of the regiment entrusted to me in a strong counter-charge, drove the enemy back, which, however, was soon reinforced and compelled our entire line to retreat for fifty paces. The enemy showed us with cannonballs and canister and attacked the regiment with cavalry. My three battalions were arranged in squares awaiting cavalry and despite being surrounded by a superior enemy, they met him gallantly and courageously, allowing him to approach to close range before opening a battalion volley, and, yelling 'Hurrah!'; they disordered and drove the enemy back to the heights, inflicting heavy losses both in killed and wounded; our soldiers were so incensed that no prisoners were taken. We lost no wounded on that occasion.  The enemy, having rallied on the heights, made a second attack on the regiment, but was mete with equal courage and fled to the right, while the height were occupied by the enemy skirmishers. To counter them, I dispatched Lieutenant Colonel Timofeyev with the 2nd Battalion to drive the enemy back and capture the heights. Although this was accomplished with considerable success, the enemy was reinforced with several columns in this direction and supported the skirmishers, which made it impossible for my regiment to capture the heights. Lt. Col. Timofeyev was wounded in the leg and the battalion returned to the regiment.

 On the order of Adjutant General Count Senery, two battalions were dispatched to support the army skirmishers, whom he already spread out, but in the process I wounded in the right hand by a bullet. So the regiment was left in the hands of Lt. Col. Schwartz, who, kept the 2nd and 3rd Battalion, which already lost many killed and wounded, behind, charged with the 1st Battalion to the mentioned heights and, having sent out skirmishers, he captured it. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and [Schwartz] himself sustained a mortal wound, dying the following morning. The enemy, meantime, was reinforced again. My regiment had lost too many people by now and on the order of Adjutant General Vasilchikov, who was with the regiment throughout the battle, the regiment retreated, fighting back, to the woods, where it dispatched skirmishers for cover and then joined a battalion of the Izmailovskii Regiment.

The regiment remained under heavy enemy fire for 13 hours. I consider it my responsibility to inform Your Excellency about the gallantry and courage of the staff and junior officers and, having presented a list of names, to ask for appropriate awards for them. In this battle, the regiment had 143 NCOs, 53 musicians, 1,543 privates, 1 non-combatant. The regiment lost up to 400 killed and about 443 wounded, with 130 missing in action.

* Ivan Fedorovich Udom (1768-1821) had enlisted in the Life Guard Preobrazhenskii Regiment in 1782 and participated in the Russo-Swedish War in 1788, Russo-Turkish War in 1789-1791 and campaigns in Poland in 1792-1794. After rising to colonel in August 1805, he fought at Auzterlitz in December of that year, and then served at Eylau, Heilsberg and Friedland in 1807. He became commander of the Life Guard Litovskii regiment in December 1811. After distinguishing himself at Borodino in 1812, he was promoted to major general in December 1812 and went on to fight in Germany and France in 1813-1814. After the war, he served in various positions before becoming the commander of the Life Guard Semeyonovskii Regiment in February 1821, only to die five months later.

** Nikolay (Nikolai) Ivanovich Lavrov (1761-1813) had a long distinguished career, enlisting in the Life Guard preobrazhenskii Regiment in 1777. After fighting the Turks in 1789-1791 and the Poles in 1792-1794, he became a colonel in 1798 and took part in Alexander Suvorov’s famous campaign in Italy and Switzerland in 1799, for which he was promoted to major general. Over the next ten years, Lavrov commanded various regiments and participated in the Polish campaign in 1806-1807, being seriously wounded at Eylau. Promoted to lieutenant general in 1811, he served as the chief of staff of the 1st Western Army before being replaced by Aleksey Yermolov when he took command of the 5th (Guard) Corps. He served in all major battles of the 1812 Campaign, although his poor health limited his direct involvement. He died in September 1813.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2007

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