Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns

 

The  Battle of Borodino: Reports 

By Alexander Mikaberidze
 

Lavrov to Kutuzov, No. 1116, [n.d.] September 1812

Acting on Your Excellency's order No. 920 of 1 [13] September instructing me to report on the deployment and actions of units entrusted to me during the battle of Borodino, I am honored to report to Your Excellency that on the day of the battle, 26 August [7 September], at 5 a.m., the entire Guard Infantry Division, acting on the order of Colonel [Karl] Toll (of the Quartermaster Service), who was dispatched by the Commander-in-Chief of the 1st Army General of Infantry, Minister of War and chevalier [Mikhail] Barclay de Tolly, was redeployed behind the right flank of the 2nd Army in order to support it. About half an hour later I received an order from General of Cavalry Bennigsen instructing me to divert from my Guard Division the Life Guard Izmailovskii and Litovskii Regiments, and the Combined Grenadier Brigade under command of Colonel Khrapovitsky of the Life Guard Izmailovskii regiment, and to move the remaining Life Guard Preobrazhenskii, Semeyonovskii and Finlyadnskii Regiments under command of Major General Baron Rosen closer to the first line of the 2nd Army, which was immediately accomplished. Starting at that time, the columns under command of MG Baron Rosen remained continuously under heavy enemy artillery, canister and musket fire, changing deployment as needed, for the next 14 hours. 

Around 4 p.m. the enemy cavalry broke through to reach the columns of MG Baron Rosen, who, however, charged with drums beating and met the enemy with bayonets, killing some cavalrymen while the rest fled. Shortly afterwards I received your Excellency's order to shift these columns to the left and, having occupied this position, I was personally informed by Adjutant General Vasilchikov that the enemy skirmishers [strelki] occupied the edge of the forest and harassed our cavalry and that the enemy was turning our left flank. A battalion of the Life Guard Finlyandskii Regiment, led by Colonel Zherve, was sent to support the cavalry and protect the flank. However, as the enemy skirmishers, lodged in the woods, began to inflict casualties on the columns of MG Baron Rosen, I dispatched the 2nd Battalion of the mentioned regiment, under command of Colonel Kryzhanovski, to drive the enemy back. Colonel Zherve, with the battalion entrusted to him, kept the enemy at bay through a chain of skirmishers but half an hour later he reported that the enemy entered the woods in two strong columns and, covered by the skirmishers, they were making a vigorous attack. Then Colonel Kryzhanovski having reinforced his with skirmishers led by Sub Lieutenant Marin, who was killed by a canister shot and replaced by Sub Lieutenant Sheping, made a bayonet charge against the enemy skirmishers while Colonel Kryzhanovski [probably should be Zherve], approaching with the 3rd and 2nd battalions ordered a bayonet charge against the enemy columns. Colonel Schtewen with the 2nd Battalion and Zherve with the 3rd Battalion charged with remarkable gallantry and shouting hurrah!, and routed the enemy, pursuing him to the edge of the woods, where they deployed skirmishers, who, in turn, came under fire from the enemy battery that was protected by the cavalry; this battery maintained strong canister fire, which wounded Captain Ogarev in the knee; he was replaced by Staff Captain Baik. 

Observing that the enemy was gathering forces on his right flank, Colonel Kryzhanovski ordered Captain Ushakov, who commanded the 1st Battalion, to send out skirmishers [zastrelshiki]; they, led by Staff Captain Raal IV, soon drove the enemy chain back. Thus, within an hour time, the woods were completely cleared. At that moment Your Excellency's order was received via Adjutant General Vasilchikov with instructions to defend the woods at any cost. 

The enemy made several attempts at driving our skirmishers back, but failed each time. The enemy maintained devastating musket and canister fire and, to repel the enemy and prevent his breaking into the woods, Staff Captain Ofrosimov IV was sent with a company to reinforce our chain, followed by another company led by Staff Captain Akhlestyshev. The skirmishers held ground on the edge of the woods for the rest of the evening. Around 9 p.m. the fire began to die down and completely ended by 10 p.m.. All three battalions remained on the positions that they recaptured from the enemy, with the skirmisher chain protecting the entire Guard Infantry Division.

The Life Guard Izmailovskii and Litovskii Regiments and the Combined Grenadier Brigade fought in the presence of Your Excellency and I thought it better to present for your consideration the reports of Colonel Kutuzov and Udom regarding the exploits of their regiments, knowing well that each of them will be rewarded based on merit. 

The Life Guard Jager Regiment was detached on 23 August [3 September] on the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the 1st Army [Barclay de Tolly] and fought near the village of Borodino on the right flank, and so a report was sent to him, the Commander-in-Chief. 

Giving full justice to the gallantry and unshakable firmness of all ranks, I consider it my duty to explicitly report to Your Excellency about Major General Baron Rosen, regimental commanders and colonels: Khrapovitsky, Udom, Kryzhanovski, Drizen and Postnikov, as well as battalion commanders, staff and junior officers who are listed in the attached list. To reward the rank-and-file's exceptional gallantry, I also humbly request Your Excellency for the signs of the Order [of St. George]1, five crosses for each company. 

[1] This was the Sign of Disctinction of the Military Order of St. George, often known as the St. George's Cross, which was established in 1807 and was granted to non-commissioned officers, and the rank-and-file for military heroism. The cross was a cross pattée with a central disc bearing the image of St. George on horseback slaying the dragon. 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2007 

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