Military Review

"People's Armament" in the Patriotic War


Moscow militias in battles on the Old Smolensk road. Artist V. Kelerman. 1957

Call to the people

The manifesto of Emperor Alexander I on the defense of the Fatherland and the creation of a people's militia became the first official document that informed the people of Russia about the French attack and the beginning of the war. The text was prepared by State Secretary Admiral A.S. Shishkov and signed by Alexander Pavlovich on July 6, 1812 in the camp of the 1st Western Army near Polotsk. On July 10, the manifesto was printed in the printing house of the Governing Senate in St. Petersburg.

Addressing his subjects, the tsar expressed confidence in the final victory and “firm hope for our brave army” and announced that he considered “to gather new forces within the state that ... would constitute a second fence to reinforce the first and to protect houses, wives and the children of each and all." The document contained an appeal "to all estates and states of the spiritual and worldly ... by unanimous and general uprising to assist against all enemy plans and attempts."

Alexander assigned the duty to form a militia to the nobles, who were instructed to "bring together the people they supply to protect the fatherland, choosing from among themselves the chief of these." In the manifesto there was an appeal to the inhabitants of the "Eternal Throne of our Moscow" with a call to act as the initiators of this "people's armament".

Immediately after the publication of the manifesto, extraordinary meetings of the nobility were held in the provinces, at which the number and composition of the provincial militias were determined, and the heads and commanders of units were elected.

On July 18 (30), 1821, the Manifesto “On the Formation of a Temporary Internal Militia” was issued, which limited the widespread convocation of zemstvo militias to 16 central provinces that adjoined the military theater. The first district (Moscow, Tver, Yaroslavl, Vladimir, Ryazan, Tula, Kaluga, Smolensk provinces) was supposed to cover Moscow. The second district (Petersburg and Novgorod provinces) ensured the "security" of the capital. The third Volga district (Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Penza, Kostroma, Simbirsk and Vyatka provinces) served as a reserve. The rest of the provinces were ordered to remain “inactive” until there was a need for this.

"People's Armament" in the Patriotic War

Manifesto of Emperor Alexander I on the collection of Zemstvo militia within the state. July 6 (18), 1812

Formation of the second "fence" (army)

The general leadership of the formation of the militias was carried out by the Special Committee under the sovereign, which included General of Artillery A. A. Arakcheev, Minister of Police, Lieutenant General A. D. Balashov and Secretary of State Vice Admiral A. S. Shishkov. The emperor himself appointed the heads of the three districts: the Moscow district - the Moscow military governor-general, infantry general F. V. Rostopchin; Petersburg District - General of Infantry M. I. Kutuzov (Golenishchev-Kutuzov), from August 27 - Lieutenant General P. I. Meller-Zakomelsky; Volga District - Lieutenant General P. A. Tolstoy.

The rest of the leadership of the militias was elected by the local nobility and submitted to the highest approval. Retired officers entered the zemstvo army with the same rank, and civil officials lost one of their class ranks according to the Table of Ranks. Nobles from retired non-commissioned officers were appointed to the positions of conscripts (non-commissioned officers). The militias were to be disbanded "upon the expulsion of the enemy from our land."

Each landowner had to submit to the militia a certain number of equipped and armed warriors from his serfs within the prescribed time frame. The selection of warriors was carried out by the nobles or peasant communities by lot. Warriors of the provincial militias united in regiments of horse and foot Cossacks (under the Cossacks meant lightly armed horse or foot soldiers), as well as foot rangers. Foot regiments were divided into battalions, battalions - into hundreds and tens. Mounted regiments - hundreds, hundreds - dozens. In the Smolensk region, the district militias, led by thousands of chiefs, were divided into "five hundred", hundreds and fifty.

The Ministry of War assisted in the training of warriors, their weapons, allocating it from their arsenals. The military training of warriors took place according to an abbreviated recruit training program. The militia was trained by officers and lower ranks from the army and Cossack units. The militias experienced a shortage of firearms weapons, ammunition and equipment, since the main stocks went to the active army and to the formation of reserve regular units. Therefore, most of the militias, except for the Petersburg one, were armed mainly with edged weapons - pikes, horns and axes. By December 1812, 49 thousand guns were handed over to warriors from military arsenals and factories.

In the provinces, supplies were collected for the militia for a period of three months. In the future, the warriors were to be provided by the state. Commanders and officers were not supposed to be paid, they served "out of zeal for the Fatherland." But poor nobles were entitled to an allowance for equipment. The uniforms of the militias consisted of a cloth caftan, bloomers, a shirt, boots and a cap with a brass cross and the inscription "For Faith and the Tsar" on it.

The Ministry of Finance controlled the storage and distribution of funds raised for the militia. On July 25 (August 6), 1812, Emperor Alexander approved the report of the Synod, according to which the Russian Church allocated 1,5 million rubles for the organization of the St. Petersburg and Moscow militias. All "laity" and clergy were called to donations.

The bulk of donations to the militia came not from individuals, but from estates and social groups. Funding was mandatory. The nobility, merchants, philistines, artisans, peasant societies at their meetings determined the total amount of the collection and made its layout among the members of their class, depending on their condition.

In total, about 100 million rubles were collected throughout Russia. For example, in 1812-1814. the treasury spent 157 million rubles on the army.

M. I. Kutuzov - head of the St. Petersburg militia. Artist S. Gerasimov

"People's weapons"

The extraordinary circumstances associated with the withdrawal of the army to Moscow forced the tsarist government to give a wider scope to the formation of the "people's" army. In addition to the Zemstvo militias, Cossacks appear. In the Little Russian provinces, 22 Cossack regiments and two zemstvo militias (Poltava and Chernigov) with a total number of more than 70 thousand people were formed. Bug Cossacks (Kherson province) equipped a squad of 500 soldiers. The Don Cossacks formed 22 regiments numbering over 12 thousand people. They were joined by 4 regiments of "serving Cossacks".

On the territory of the Orenburg governorate, 24 regiments with a total number of 13 thousand people were assembled from the Bashkir-Meshcheryak irregular army, the Orenburg and Ural Cossack troops. In Livonia, a "mounted police" was formed - 2 thousand people. It was then reorganized into a Cossack regiment with a staff of 800 people. From the coachmen of the tract Petersburg - Moscow, they created the Tver-Yamskaya Cossack regiment of about 800 people.

Also, on the initiative of the nobles, temporary units were formed - regiments, squadrons and detachments. So, at their own expense in the Moscow militia, the 1st Jaeger Privy Councilor N. N. Demidov and the 1st Foot Real Chamberlain Prince P. P. Gagarin regiments gathered; in the Kherson province - a squadron of the landowner V.P. Skarzhinsky. In the Smolensk province, the family of retired Major General D. E. Leslie formed from their yard and serfs "a hundred horsemen of the Leslie brothers of the Smolensk militia."

In addition, in St. Petersburg, Moscow and the Baltic states, "volunteer" regiments and detachments were formed, where people were recruited "from the persons of the free state" - nobles, officials, philistines, merchants and young students. In the capital, the 1st St. Petersburg Volunteer Cossack Regiment was recruited under the command of the retired Lieutenant Count F. M. de Olivera (Oliveira), and then Colonel A. A. Yakhontov, and the 2nd St. Petersburg Volunteer Cossack Regiment "Alexandria" of the retired staff captain Baron K. K. von Bode. In Moscow, the Moscow Cossack regiments of Counts M.A. Dmitriev-Mamonov and P.I. Saltykov were formed; in the Baltic States - the "Courland Corps of Free Mounted and Foot Rangers" and the "Volunteer Cossack Hundred".

Huntsman, foot and horse Cossacks of the Tver militia. Colorized lithograph by P. Ferlund 2nd after a drawing by P. Gubarev. Mid XNUMXth century

Also, in addition to the zemstvo militias in counties, cities, villages that adjoined the military theater, they formed "cordons" or "militia guards". They were created by local authorities, the nobility, urban and peasant communities for the purpose of self-defense and maintaining order. So, in Kyiv, a cavalry regiment of about 1 thousand people guarded the order. In Riga, 8 companies were formed from the townspeople.

"People's armament" allowed the government to quickly mobilize large human and material resources for the war. Three militias (16 provinces) recruited over 200 warriors. Of these, 74 foot regiments, 2 battalions, 9 brigades (28 squads), 13 cavalry regiments and 3 hundreds were formed. In other provinces and regions (including Little Russia and the Don), more than 100 thousand people were recruited, amounting to 16 foot regiments and one battalion, 88 cavalry regiments and 3 squadrons.

In total, in 1812 there were more than 300 thousand people in the militia. It was a real second army, reinforcing the first - regular.

Smolensk warriors fought near Krasnoe and for Smolensk. In the Battle of Borodino, which became decisive in the war, about 28 thousand warriors of the Smolensk and Moscow militias participated. The militias were a reserve for parts of the army in the field. In particular, the Cossack militia regiments significantly strengthened the light cavalry of the army and played a large role in the "small war" and the pursuit of the French army.

Tver, Yaroslavl, Vladimir, Ryazan and other warriors defended their provinces from enemy foragers and marauders and attacked French communications. The militias blocked the road to St. Petersburg and Bryansk with its military enterprises. The militias helped the corps of General P. Kh. Wittgenstein to liberate Polotsk, pursued the retreating troops of the Great Army. The warriors also served in the rear garrisons and the convoy, guarded communications and prisoners, looked after the sick and wounded, etc.

After the end of hostilities on the territory of Russia, all zemstvo militias, except for Vladimir, Tver and Smolensk, participated in the foreign campaigns of the Russian army in 1813-1814. In the spring of 1813, the Moscow and Smolensk militias were disbanded, and by the end of 1814, all other militias.

In this regard, the current government of the Russian Federation, in the context of the rapidly approaching collision with the NATO bloc, should learn from the authorities of the Russian Empire, which found themselves in similar conditions (the war with the “European Union” named after Napoleon). It's time to remember the experience of the ancestors - "Get up, the country is huge"!

Militias in 1812. Artist I. Arkhipov. 1982
Photos used:,

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  1. Kim
    Kim 6 July 2022 08: 10
    yes, somehow, even without the advice of the author, we donate money, and military registration and enlistment offices brush off those who wish
    modern man on the battlefield is a huge burden, and the benefits are negative
    1. Mavrikiy
      Mavrikiy 6 July 2022 10: 08
      Quote from kim
      modern man on the battlefield is a huge burden, and the benefits are negative

      Yes, he doesn’t own a hatchet, he’s afraid of blood, he’s morally flexible, but a single one will disappear, neither to drink nor eat ... He’s used to centralized support.
      1. Kim
        Kim 6 July 2022 11: 17
        what will he do with this hatchet on the battlefield? drop drones?
        1. Mavrikiy
          Mavrikiy 8 July 2022 05: 57
          Quote from kim
          what will he do with this hatchet on the battlefield? drop drones?

          Wipe your ass. fool He does not equip dugout trenches and will come out with snot when it rains. There is no habit of life in the natural environment.
          1. Kim
            Kim 8 July 2022 07: 20
            those. an author or a beautiful-hearted eccentric, or a provocateur
      2. vladcub
        vladcub 6 July 2022 12: 54
        That's right. My already deceased classmate said: he seems to be a smart grandson, but he looks at the hammer as if it were a curiosity.
        Soon: hammers and axes will remain only in the museum.
        Even, I am rural, but I can no longer cope with a sickle. After all, 40 years have not picked up
  2. Maks1995
    Maks1995 6 July 2022 10: 38
    Before calling "Get up, huge country," it would be nice to figure out who to stand up for then?
    And then we will somehow stand quietly behind the modern MMM and the "children" of the EDRA over the hill, as it quietly happened and is happening in the LDNR.

    Has Medvedev's son returned from Omerika? How much and whose money did he spend there?
    Daughters and sons of other rulers returned from NATO? How much money did they take out there and take out? How much real estate, yachts, hotels, aircraft and land were bought and with whose money? somehow silently, they promoted the most expensive yachts and hare ....

    Earlier, I remember, historians insisted that for powerful countries, the main thing is not external enemies, but the betrayal of the elite. (For example, when the "feast" of the Roman patricians cost more than the maintenance of the entire army), and now they somehow fell silent ....
    1. Moore
      Moore 6 July 2022 11: 11
      Quote: Max1995
      Before calling "Get up, huge country," it would be nice to figure out who to stand up for then?

      It seems like the already old training manual "I won't go to fight for Abramovich's yacht", or did I miss something?
      Yes, people understand, do not worry. They reflect their opinion both in campaigns to military enlistment offices and in rubles: the Horde group, for example, collected more than 12 million in 18 hours of donations from people for the needs of the fighters.
      1. Non-fighter
        Non-fighter 6 July 2022 11: 37
        This country has two states. The state of the rich and the state of the poor, it is also the state of throwing and the state of suckers. Who is who is clear?
        Z.Y. Checked on myself. If you are from a state of the poor, then the state of the rich is only interested in you as a source of income. The rest don't care.
        1. Moore
          Moore 7 July 2022 08: 38
          How not to understand ... I have endured more than two states, maybe - much more.
          For people who respect themselves, one thing has always been and will be. Even if it's some kind of Liberia.
      2. Kim
        Kim 7 July 2022 03: 59
        for three collections of more than 30 million
      3. Alexander Salenko
        Alexander Salenko 8 July 2022 09: 41
        And why the state itself can not cope with a conflict of this magnitude? What am I paying taxes for? So that the cops tried to rob me not by washing so by skating?
    2. Kim
      Kim 6 July 2022 11: 16
      "Red Army soldiers! why do you need to fight for f*****vsko-Bolshevik power? go over to the side of Great Germany!" ...
      doesn’t resemble anything?
      1. Maks1995
        Maks1995 6 July 2022 14: 42
        Exactly. "Russians, we are not just bombing Kyiv, we have come to liberate you from the bloody yoke of the commissars, Bolsheviks, Jews, and the tyrant Stalin, just a former seminarian who did not get through" (Goebels, verbatim)
      2. Alexander Salenko
        Alexander Salenko 8 July 2022 09: 47
        Well, probably in both cases, I'm talking about the Patriotic Wars, the elite fought along with ordinary subjects / citizens, just look at the general's martyrology in the battle of Borodino. And the Soviet elite did the same.
        In 1812, even Westerners, the future Decembrists, came to Europe with weapons in their hands, they were militarists in the best sense of the word. How much rubbish did the CBO open? And nothing is being done about it, and questions arise.
        They just don't bother to answer them. So I support the NWO and have the right to know secrets that are not military there. and what will happen to the evil spirits that did not support our guys?
        And this has already happened in our history.
        Read, the verse is small, and the author fits perfectly into the term - a classic.
        1. Kim
          Kim 8 July 2022 12: 05
          Stalins come and go. Russia remains.
    3. vladcub
      vladcub 6 July 2022 12: 44
      "has he returned from Omeriki" everyone has already returned.
      And if you believe Gudkov and Gordon, then also: "goose and auk", the brains are taken out to the ancestors so that they capitulate to Ukraine
      1. Maks1995
        Maks1995 6 July 2022 14: 50
        They didn’t write anywhere that “everything is already”.
        I recently read on the Reporter that, indeed, Medvedev's son has been living in Omerik for a long time, he was suddenly deprived of his residence permit, expelled ... but that he returned to Russia - this did not happen ..

        And about the different daughters of the Duma deputies there - assistants to the deputies of the European Parliament, students of Logndon, Omeriki, etc. - also nini, returned or live there and on ...
        1. vladcub
          vladcub 7 July 2022 06: 34
          Gordon counted who returned. More precisely, the parents dragged him by the collar.
          Logically think: these are excellent hostages. Even an iPhone will understand this
          1. Maks1995
            Maks1995 7 July 2022 09: 00
            Gordon... it's there.
            And the vigorous patriots that everyone dreams of playing off simple Mykol and Nikit are here. I didn’t see here any notes about the “golden children” - volunteers, and about the authors who signed up as volunteers in the military registration and enlistment office .....
  3. Repellent
    Repellent 6 July 2022 11: 30
    Quote: Max1995
    Before calling "Get up, huge country," it would be nice to figure out who to stand up for then?

    Slept, slept Maksik request
  4. vladcub
    vladcub 6 July 2022 11: 31
    "July 18, 1821 the Manifesto came out" probably should be read: 1812?, otherwise it turns out: the bureaucrats wrote the Manifesto for 11 years?
  5. vladcub
    vladcub 6 July 2022 11: 40
    "Moscow Cossacks of Counts M. A Dmitriev-Mamontov" The commander himself was awarded for bravery: a golden sword, and his unit became famous for looting
    Yermolov despised the militias.
    The French also did not have a high opinion
  6. vladcub
    vladcub 6 July 2022 12: 21
    "learn from the authorities of the Russian Empire"
    Comrades, I do not see what to learn:
    Call the militia? It is too early. Manifesto appeared after, not BEFORE the invasion
    "self-defense and maintaining order" the so-called "extermination battalions" in the Second World War successfully coped with these tasks. They detained: saboteurs and deserters, guarded the population from bandits.
    If the Samsonov brothers "fired up" to fight and it is necessary to create a militia. Then, as a model, I would take: "destroyer battalions" of the Second World War. Local residents know the surroundings very well and it is not difficult for them to catch various DRGs, or gangs of marauders. And there were and will be
    1. Alexander Salenko
      Alexander Salenko 8 July 2022 09: 52
      This is if they are rural, and even then not all. many work in the city. We have Crimea. the area, in principle, is conducive to actions and DRGs and to catching them, because they do not know the area. But I would not say that many locals know it.
      Now they do not graze sheep driving along a serious part of the mountain range. The urban only home-work.
      People have become lazy and hardly walk. And those who like to walk, take a walk on weekends, there the average age is 55 years old and for the most part they are women.
      1. vladcub
        vladcub 9 July 2022 08: 14
        "the people have become lazy" - true, but for the sake of truth, this is not only with you.
  7. Senior seaman
    Senior seaman 6 July 2022 15: 19
    Nobles from retired non-commissioned officers

    This is who are you?
    1. vladcub
      vladcub 7 July 2022 14: 46
      Kostya, the Samsonovs, like in Greece, have "everything"
  8. bk0010
    bk0010 6 July 2022 21: 34
    Everything was far from being so blissful: in Moscow, for example, when leaving, full arsenals were thrown (with banners, by the way). Why didn't they distribute it to the people? Apparently, they were afraid that the people would turn their weapons in their favor (robbery, destruction of landowners, etc.). And then there was nothing to equip the new parts.
    1. vladcub
      vladcub 7 July 2022 14: 52
      Regarding those warehouses, there is a muddy story "whether Tat stated something with Tatya." It was beneficial for Romtopchin to attach all the dogs to the military department, and vice versa.
      Perhaps Rostopchin is to blame, or perhaps His Majesty the Bureaucracy. She has always been and always will be
  9. Kostadinov
    Kostadinov 8 July 2022 11: 25
    There are at least 10 million combat-ready men in Russia who are not needed in the military economy.
    They can be armed with cheap and effective weapons. If there is a motivation to fight, then a new Patriotic War is quite possible, of course, if there is a need.
  10. Romario_Argo
    Romario_Argo 8 July 2022 13: 29
    they didn’t measure the people, there was no professional army - it’s not a pity
    after only withstanding 10 skirmishes - the soldier became a pro
    cuirass + 2 pauldrons + 2 bracers + 4 legguards + 2 greaves + helmet = 1 sq.m.
    ordinary iron with impurities has a resistance of 150 MPa, a thickness of 1 mm, a mass of 11 kg x 1 sq.m.
    1 sq.m. thickness 3 mm = 450 MPa = weight 33-35 kg - you can’t run for a long time
    fuse bullet 35 grams, has an initial speed of 250 m / s. = 437 MPa
    as an option, horse-drawn carriages could be introduced to transport this infantry on marches
    50 carriages x 10 = 500 soldiers - a battalion, almost a prototype of motorized rifle troops
  11. Gunther
    Gunther 15 July 2022 21: 39
    Quote: Author
    In this regard, the current government of the Russian Federation,
    in a rapidly approaching collision
    with the NATO bloc, it is worth learning from the authorities
    Russian Empire

    The author is right as always.