Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics




Russian Artillery on the Eve of the Battle of Borodino, 7 September 1812: The 2nd Western Army

By Alexander Mikaberidze

Bagration’s 2nd Western Army was 39,761 men strong. By the end of August, the 2nd Western Army amounted to 34,925 men. On 31 August, it was reinforced with 4976 men, but lost some 140 men during rearguard actions from Gzhatsk to Shevardino. [11]

The Raevsky’s Redoubt was defended by General Nikolay Raevsky’s 7th Corps. Part of the 7th Corps, along with General Carl Siever’s 4th Cavalry Corps, held the edge of the plateau behind Semeyonovskoe. Further south, Mikhail Vorontsov’s Combined Grenadier and Dmitry Neverovsky’s 27th Infantry Divisions held the fléches. On the extreme left was Nikolay Tuchkov’s 3rd Corps, with the Moscow militia in reserve, protecting the old Moscow route and covering Bagration’s rear. [12]

The Artillery of 2nd Western Army included 186 guns. However, the 27th Artillery Brigade was not at Borodino and was still in Moscow[13] The 7th Corps was supported with the 26th Battery. The 48th and the 22nd Light Companies and six guns of the 26th Light Company were deployed at the Psarev woods. Some 30 guns of the 12th and 26th Artillery Brigades were kept in reserve. The 2nd Grenadier and 2nd Combined Grenadier Division were deployed behind the 7th Corps. They were joined by the artillery of the 8th Corps - the 11th, 32nd, and 31st Batteries, the 20th Light Company, 8 guns of the 21st Light Company, the 10th Horse Company, and the 1st Horse Company of the Don Cossack Artillery. On 5 September, the reserve artillery of the 2nd Army included 122 guns.

On 5 September, 46 gun were placed in the Shevardino Redoubt. The following units took part in the ensuing battle that same day: the 12th and 26th Artillery Brigades with the 12th Battery, the 47th Light Company, six guns of the 23rd Light Company of the 2nd Brigade, 4 guns of the 21st Light Company, and the 9th Horse Company.

Russian Gunners

Russian Gunners


After the battle of Shevardino, the artillery companies withdrew from the redoubt and joined the 12th and 26th Artillery Brigades. The 47th Light Company held positions near the 7th Corps, while the 12th Battery and six guns of the 23rd Light Company joined the reserve, together with the four guns of the 21st Light Company of the 2nd Artillery Brigade. By now, the 2nd Army’s artillery reserve amounted to 144 guns.

On 6 September, Kutuzov sent 30 guns (the 23rd and 3rd Batteries and six guns of the 1st Battery) from the 1st Army’s Artillery to reinforce Bagration. The same day, the 26th Battery was placed at the Rayevsky Redoubt and the 47th Light Company on the left side of the redoubt. The 4th Cavalry Corps and the 8th Horse Company were arranged behind the 7th Corps at Semeyonovka. To reinforce his positions, Bagration moved part of his artillery reserve and lined up 24 guns at the fléches. The left fléches was occupied by the 32nd Battery, while the middle and the right fortifications was held by the 11th Battery. Nearby were deployed 4 guns of the 21st Light Company. The 3rd Battery was placed south of the fléches, and the 1st Horse Company of the Don Cossack Artillery was with the 2nd Combined Grenadier Division. The 31st Battery and 6 guns of the 1st Battery, under Colonel Glukhov, were arranged on the left side of Semyonovka. The 12th and 23rd Batteries and the 20th, 22nd, 23rd, and 48th Light Companies and eight guns of the 21st Light Company were kept in reserve.

Late on 6 September, Bagration ordered the reserve artillery companies to move closer to the front. He realized that the available artillery was not sufficient to effectively cover his positions and appealed to Kutuzov for additional guns. As a result, six guns of the 1st Battery and 24 guns of the 3rd and 23rd Batteries were sent to Bagration. Furthermore, Kutuzov ordered horse companies to gather to support the 2nd Western Army if necessary. So, the 4th, 5th, 22nd, 9th and 10th Horse Companies were formed into a reserve, commanded by Colonel Eyler, and arranged behind the 4th Cavalry Corps.






[11] Kutuzov: a Compilation of Documents, IV, part 2, 712-713; Borodino: Documents, Letters and Recollections, 32, 75; Troitsky, 1812 - The Glorious Year of Russia, 141.

[12] Battle of Order of the 1st and 2nd armies at Borodino, Feldmarshal Kutuzov: sbornik dokumentov I materialov [Field Marshal Kutuzov: a Compilation of Materials and Documents] (Moscow, 1947) 159; Dispozitsia dlia 1-oi i 2-oi Zapadnikh armii pri sele Borodine raspolozhennikh Avgusta 24 dnia 1812 [Deployment of the 1st and 2nd Western armies at Borodino on 24 August 1812] Kutuzov: A Compilation of Documents, 140-43.

[13] P. Shukin, Bumagi otnosiashiesia do Otechestvennoi voini 1812 goda (Moscow, 1908) X, 142. During the battle, Kutuzov urged Feodor Rostopchin to move this brigade to the army. Rostopchin complied on 9 September. Kutuzov: a Compilation of Documents, IV, 218.



Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2002


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