Military Review

Hero Borodino General Vasily Grigorievich Kostenetsky

Writing about artillery commanders is especially interesting if only because a certain skinny Corsican artilleryman conquered the whole of Europe. There is something in them besides the praised military prowess, something that allowed giving orders to the servants of the already destructive, but not yet completely reliable weapons, keeping composure and endurance under the whistle of bullets and nuclei, or seeing how cavalry with spears at the ready rushes on the battery at full speed and clearly realizing that a slip is fraught with death, because there will be no second chance to shoot ... Much could have been told by lieutenant-general V S. Kostenetsky ... But alas ...

Vasily Grigorievich Kostenetsky was a unique person even among artillery commanders. Of great growth and remarkable physical strength, he had a thin and sharp mind. Vasily Grigorievich was born in 1769, near the city of Konotop, in a family of small local nobility in Chernihiv. In 1779 he entered the Artillery and Engineer (later Cadet) Corps, and having successfully completed it, was released by the 12 bayonet-gunner on May 1786 of the year with admission to the 2 kanonersky regiment. A year later, Kostenetsky received the first officer's rank, and 1788, for distinguishing himself when participating in his first battle, Ochakov's assault, was awarded the rank of second lieutenant. The next seven years Kostenetsky led in continuous battles in the Crimea - with the Ottomans, the Black Sea and in the Kuban - with the Circassians. The most significant battles in addition to the capture of Ochakov, in which he took part were the storming of Bender and Khadzhibey (today Odessa).

In 1795, Vasily Grigorievich was assigned to the newly formed Black Sea Battalion, where he successfully formed equestrian and foot artillery in the Cossack army. Next year, Kostenetsky was given command of an equestrian artillery company. This type of troops was only being formed, and Vasily Grigorievich personally taught the soldiers to act in marching and combat conditions. Soldiers were trained in the spirit of the Suvorov system - all that could be useful in battle. A cannon servant learned to quickly reload the guns, and if necessary, everyone could replace a comrade who was out of action. The role of the commander of the artillery, which was to support the cavalry in the battle with the closest approach to the enemy, as anyone approached dashing Kostenetsky, who was always enthusiastically involved in hand-to-hand combat. For success in the preparation of his company, Vasily Grigorievich in 1798 received the rank of captain in the year, and two years later in 1800 was transferred to the Life Guards Equestrian artillery.

Hero Borodino General Vasily Grigorievich Kostenetsky
Portrait of VG Kostenetsky workshop of George Doe. Military Gallery of the Winter Palace, State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg)

In 1805, in the battle of Austerlitz, the whole accumulated combat experience of the future general appeared to be itself. While commanding the same guards company during the retreat of the allied forces, he managed to save the 4 cannon from the 6 by beating off multiple attempts by the French cavalry to seize the guns. Thanks to the actions of the gunners of Kostenetsky, hundreds of retreating Russian and Austrian soldiers were saved. For his actions at Austerlitz awarded the Order of St.. George 4 class.

In the 1807 campaign of the year, Kostenetsky was, as usual, a brilliant commander. He took part in the battles of Geilsberg and Gutstadt. Under Heilsberg, Kostenetsky’s company managed to get the artillery and the rangers of the French to flee, in addition to the infantry that formed the right flank of the French. Unsuccessful for the Russian-Prussian army was the last battle of the Fourth Coalition - the battle of Friedland. But, as you know, failures reveal talent and demonstrate the will of the commander. In the case of Vasily Grigorievich, this saying is more than fair ... Having stayed with one company on the right flank, he managed to stop the advance of the French, and then in perfect order, without losing a single weapon, he crossed with the entrusted company across the Alle River. At the same time, the detachment was forwarded to wade and Kostenetsky, standing up to the waist in the water, personally helped with the tools. For courageous and skillful actions, he was presented to the Order of St.. Vladimir 3 degree, and the differences in the entire campaign, Vasily Grigorievich received the rank of major general.

After the signing of the Peace of Tilsit and the annexation of Russia to the continental blockade, Kostenetsky was sent to protect the coast from the British in the area from Oranienbaum to Narva.

At the beginning of 1811, Vasily Grigorievich leaves the command of the Guards Company and leads the 2 and 4 reserve artillery brigades. Just before Napoleon's invasion, he was transferred by the artillery commander of the entire 6 Infantry Corps of General D.S. Dokhturov. Kostenetsky took part in many rearguard battles before the unification of the 1 and 2 armies.

In the first major battle near Smolensk, according to contemporaries, Vasily Grigorievich was the right hand corps commander. For his brilliant performances and bravery, he was awarded the Order of St.. Anna 1 degree.

Averyanov A.Yu. - The feat of General Kostenetsky in the battle of Borodino, 1993,

Under Borodino, an episode took place with the participation of Kostenetsky, who was probably remembered not only by the Russians, but by the French, although the latter are unlikely to advertise him ... During the detour of the central positions, Vasily Grigorievich saw how one of the batteries broke into Polish lancers. Without delay, the major-general rushed to the aid of the cannon servant, armed with a bannik (pole for cleaning the barrel). The first ulan got off the horse, receiving a mighty blow. Kostenetsky threw himself into the midst of the horsemen, knocking them down from the horses one by one. The bannik could not stand for a long time, and was probably broken about someone's unlucky Polish head. But by that moment, the gunners, inspired by the example of the commander, sat on completely discouraged cavalrymen and in a few minutes cleared the battery. So, in the hands of Kostenetsky, the metaphorical “club of popular war” acquired the completely material form of a wooden bannik and completely non-metaphorically filled Napoleon's satellites ...

Kutuzov knew and appreciated Vasily Grigorievich and therefore, after the death of Count Kutaisov, it was Kostenetsky who headed the entire Russian artillery. For the battle of Borodino, Vasily Grigorievich received the order of St. George 3 degree.

Later, already in the Tarutinsky camp, Kostenetsky proved himself as a strategist. It is known that he gave the commander-in-chief a note about the need to force the Great Army to retreat along the Old Smolensk Road. It is unlikely that the commander in chief has not thought through this option before the letter, but the fact itself is indicative.

At the final stage of the 1812 campaign, Kostenetskii’s excellent organizational skills emerged. Not only the French, but also the Russian army suffered from severe frosts and lack of food, although to a much lesser extent. The lack of forage led to the loss of horses and reduced mobility of artillery. Vasily Grigorievich was able to maintain order in his subordinate units as far as possible. Thanks to this, in the battle of Tarutino, then during the Maloyaroslavets and in the battle near the village of Krasnoye, the Russian army had a significant superiority in artillery.

In the 1813-1814 Overseas Campaign, Kostenetsky commanded the 4 and 7 artillery of the Guards Corps, part of the FF unit. Wintzingerode, which was the left wing of the 1 Army. Vasily Grigorievich participated in all major campaign battles. From Kalisz to Leipzig on 1813 and from Strasbourg to Paris on 1814. And in a foreign land Vasily Grigorievich remained true to himself, not tired of surprising not only with military, but also with administrative talents. For example, near Dresden, Kostenetsky’s scrupulousness helped the Russian and allied artillery to win the “confrontation” off-road, thereby securing more 150 guns.

After the defeat of Napoleon, Vasily Grigorievich was appointed to command the guns of the 5 corps, which in 1815 year again made a campaign in France.
From 1817, Kostenetsky was the chief of artillery of the 4 Corps. Two years later, due to disagreements with Prince Yashvil, who at that time headed the artillery of the whole army, a combat general with great experience Vasily Grigorievich Kostenetsky, who was used to make real soldiers out of ordinary soldiers, and did not sculpt parade toys from them, was not his destiny. After leaving the service, he settled in his estate. In 1820, he was again “enlisted by artillery”, but he did not receive a specific position.

Kostenetsky met the uprising of the Decembrists negatively and was always with the uncrowned Nicholas. Probably only by accidentally reminding himself in this way, 1826 was promoted to lieutenant general.

In the 1831 year, having gone to help the province where a cholera epidemic was raging, Kostenetsky contracted the disease and in June of the same year the fearless general was gone.

Unfortunately, the origin at that time occupied a very important place in awarding for a particular cause. Vasily Grigorievich did not come from a noble family, because of this, more than deserved rewards were often avoided by him. And Kostenetsky, who was not particularly eager for external paraphernalia, didn’t remind himself of his superiors.

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  1. Brother Sarych
    Brother Sarych 14 August 2012 09: 13
    Of course, it’s hard to judge, but to beat the Poles with a banner by the Poles is a matter, albeit a respectable one, but not the most necessary thing for the general who took command of all the artillery! I already wrote that a lot of our artillery stood in reserve and did not take part in such an intense battle - it is quite possible that the participation of an artillery reserve could change the course of the battle! If memory serves, then French artillery at the end of the battle inflicted very heavy losses on Russian troops ...
    1. Skavron
      Skavron 14 August 2012 11: 28
      hmm ... I certainly could be wrong, but the fire of the Russian artillery was so murderous that the Frenchman was ordered to go to bed ... in those days the attack went not in a plastonic way, but in a closed formation, which was a tasty target for artillery.
      1. Brother Sarych
        Brother Sarych 14 August 2012 12: 30
        Maybe I am mistaken, but as far as I remember Napoleon ordered to put forward large masses of artillery and at the end there was mainly artillery firefight, in which a lot of Russian guns did not participate, remaining in reserve ...

        “Most of the artillery (390 guns out of 640) was in reserve: 306 guns near the village of Psarevo and 84 near Knyazkov. Both of these points are in the center of the position. Therefore, the concentration of all reserve artillery in this place can hardly be considered expedient. Reserve artillery is difficult was used when needed on any flank.
        In addition, it is known that this huge reserve almost did not take part in the battle at all. Such insufficiently skillful use of artillery did not allow it to fully reveal its power. "
    2. rumpeljschtizhen
      rumpeljschtizhen 14 August 2012 17: 11
      Totally agree with you Brother Sarych that the previous hero Kutaisov died, I am not afraid of this word as an irresponsible person, adding up the entire army. that this got into his own business.
      The hero is when he performed his duties perfectly and his actions decided the outcome of the battle.
      And so I see not heroes ... but people whose aristocratic arrogance overshadowed their official duties
      1. slav4ikus
        slav4ikus 22 September 2012 15: 24
        and you yourself could so ??? with or without arrogance?
    3. Brother Sarych
      Brother Sarych 14 August 2012 20: 23
      By the way, he got his 4th degree George for the fact that together with one soldier they cut into the French detachment and recaptured the almost captured guns, so he gained the fame of a dashing grunt from the French too ...
      1. rumpeljschtizhen
        rumpeljschtizhen 14 August 2012 22: 07
        it’s not like it doesn’t make him look like a skilled commander
        and kakya understood at that time entim dabbled in everything to quit everything and by chopped
  2. nnz226
    nnz226 14 August 2012 15: 24
    In general, V. Pikul wrote quite well about Kostenetsky in the miniature "Horse artillery march-march!", Where the episode on Borodino is described in more detail. And as for what the general should lead: capture the Poles (French) battery, the damage for the battle could have been greater, and knocking them out of position is worth a lot ...
  3. Colonel
    Colonel 14 August 2012 18: 28
    General Kostenetsky is a warrior with a capital letter. May God grant us to be like that.
  4. Ivanka Kos
    Ivanka Kos 30 July 2014 18: 52
    I read a lot of comments about him. I know all his history very well. He was great. Thanks to those who speak well of him, I'm his great ... great-granddaughter. My dad and my grandmother talked a lot about him. He is a warrior.