Military Review

The first shot to the west from the Neman to the Elbe

Combat operations of the avant-garde of the Russian army during the liberation of Germany and Denmark in 1813

After the complete defeat of Napoleon’s army in Russia in December 1812, his empire, despite huge losses, still had considerable resources. All of Europe to the west of the Neman remained littered with French garrisons, and there was no force other than the Russian army capable of finally breaking Bonaparte’s war machine. And most importantly, he himself would not want to come to terms with the results of the campaign he lost and would start preparing a new invasion of Russia, while trying to avoid his previous mistakes. Everyone understood this in the Russian army, which 200 went back to the liberation campaign abroad years ago.


So far, the main Russian army, led by Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, went from Minsk to Vilna for rest and replenishment, only the Don regiments of the Cossack Corps General Ataman General from cavalry Matvey Platov 2 (14 - here and further in brackets the dates for the new style) of December The 1812 of the year crossed the Neman on the border of the Duchy of Warsaw and immediately rushed west from Kovno to Koenigsberg, pursuing an enemy in East Prussia. And only December 21 1812 of the year (January 2 1813 of the year) in Russia officially announced the end of the Patriotic War.

Kutuzov's troops crossed the border on the ice of the Neman River 1 (13) in January 1813, and moved westwards — north of Warsaw — to Plotsk. By February, the 100-thousandth Russian army completely liberated East Prussia and the Duchy of Warsaw to the Vistula. The fortresses of Danzig, Modlin, Thorn and other French garrisons that had not surrendered were blocked by siege units. The main troops of Kutuzov moved through Plotsk to Kalisz, where Alexander I arrived, the Osten-Sacken corps from Warsaw to the border of the Austrian Empire, the Wittgenstein corps from Pillau to Berlin, the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia.

Previously created by Kutuzov, Cossack and consolidated guerrilla special forces, together with the crews of the Platov Corps, were assigned to army corps to perform tasks in various operational areas. With the decision of Alexander I, with the support of Wittgenstein and Kutuzov on 24 in January 1813, a new and later legendary detachment (“light corps”) of Tettenborn was formed.

A countryman, a peer and a childhood friend of the Russian empress Elizabeth Alexeevna, born German princess Louise of Baden, the major of the Austrian cavalry, Baron Friedrich Karl Tettenborn, before 1809, was the commander of the hussar and lancers squadrons. He entered the Russian service 31 on August 1812 in the rank of lieutenant colonel, for distinguishing him in the pursuit of the French, Vilno and Kovno were promoted to colonels, and 8 in March 1813 was awarded the Order of Saint George of the IV degree.

History of this unusual Russian-German Cossack detachment begins with Tettenborn’s acquaintance with the commander of the Don brigade, Major General Vasily Denisov, 7 in November 1812. In the battles from Berezina to the Neman, the Cossacks of the Denisov regiment and his entire brigade had to fight alongside Tettenborn, and they were the first to enter the new squad. Together with Denisov's regiment 7, who, as a senior officer, was Tettenborn's deputy for combat operations, the regiment included regiments of military foremen Alexei Grevtsov 2 (Lieutenant Colonel of 18 in May 1813 of the year, Colonel of 28 in November 1813 of the Year), and the commander of the CN in November, 1, Colonel in November of 28, NN, 1813, Colonel of November NNXX, Colonel of 9 in November and Dmitry Komissarov 3 (Lieutenant Colonel from November 13 1812 of the year) from the detachment of Dorokhov, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Nikolay Sulin of XNUMX from the Ilovaisky XNUMX of the detachment, participant of the October XNUMX raid of XNUMX of the year on Gorodnya.

On the territory of Prussia, along with the detachment of Tettenborn, in the vanguard of the corps of Wittgenstein, also operated the Cossack forces of the Tyr-ZyPH-IEPCOM under the command of Colonel Yefremov, the Izyumsky Hussars and the Don regiments of Bykhalov 1, Vlasov 3, Grekov 18, Zhirov XNUM, 1 Vlasov, 3 Grekov, 3 Zhirov, NNXX, VNasov, XNUMX, Grekov XNUMX, Don regiments in the Don region, XNUM, NNXX, VNT, XNUMX, Grekov XNUMX, and XNUMX regiments from the Don regiment, and NNXX, VNT. Go, Sysoeva XNUMX-th and mobile calculations of the Don horse artillery. In early February, Russian special forces conducted operations in West Prussia - between the Oder and the Elbe, and mainly around Berlin.

In the operational depth of Wittgenstein's avant-garde on the southern flank of the Russian army 1 in February 1813, the corps of Wintzengerode defeated the 7 th Saxon corps of Rainier and took the city of Kalisz. Under the command of Wintzengerode, 10 infantry and 8 Jaeger regiments, spare battalions of five infantry divisions, Livland cavalry, Tatar ulansky, Alexandria and Belarus hussar regiments, as well as more than a dozen Don, Ukrainian and Ural Cossack regiments fought.


During the frosty January of 1813, the Cossacks moved further west through the fields and forests of Prussia, conducting reconnaissance and operations on enemy communications. Passing Soldinen and Landsberg, on February 3 (15), the Tettenborn detachment advanced from the Küstrinsky bridgehead (in the Oder bend) and the Zeelow heights - through Neulevin, Vritsen and Straussberg - to the north-eastern outskirts of Berlin. In April 1945, in this area, at the forefront of the 2nd Guards tankThe 3rd shock and 47th armies passed the heirs of the military glory of the Don special forces of 1813 - Cossack regiments of the 7th Guards Cavalry Corps of the Red Army.

For the first time, Russian troops took Berlin on 28 on September 1760, during the Seven Years War. In 1813, the Tettenborn 8 (20) squad held the first reconnaissance in Berlin in February, and the February 20 (March 4) French garrison left the city at the approach of a reinforced army vanguard under the command of Major General Repnin. In the spring of 1945, the Cossack reconnaissance of the 7 Guards Corps, in conjunction on the right flank with the 1 Division named after Tadeush Kostyushko of the 1 Army, Polish Army, tormented the path of the 3 shock army, which first entered Berlin.

When 30 on April 1945 of the 3 Shock Army of the 1 Belorussian Front, Marshal Zhukov, hoisted the Victory Banner over the Reichstag, the 7 Guards Corps, bypassing Berlin to the right through Oranienburg, already went to the Elbe outside the city of Ratov by the Cossack guards. Downstream of the Elbe at Wittenberg, the 3-th Guards Corps from the avant-garde of the 2-Byelorussian Front of Marshal Rokossovsky wilted the horses. And so - on all fronts.

Having crossed the Oder in the lane between Frankfurt and Küstrin, on the night of 8 (20) in February 1813, Tettenborn’s squad went through Berlin, which was occupied by the French, and a month later made a throw north-west to the Atlantic to Hamburg and the mouth of the Elbe, leaving 250 miles ahead from Army avant-garde corps of Wittgenstein and 500 versts from the main forces of the Russian army. Tettenborn was also entrusted with a political mission in Holstein, occupied by the Danish troops (the duchy of Holstein, Lauenburg, and Schleswig), in the homeland of Peter III, the grandfather of Alexander I.

On their strong and hardy Donch horses, in a specially selected Tettenbor uniforms, the Don men with their long peaks in their hands looked like noble German knights. One of the first volunteer units of the German Hansa, then created in Hamburg by local patriots, was called the Cossacks of the Elbe. The principles and traditions of the Cossack troop self-government of Free Don served as visual agitation and a kind of symbol of liberation in the cities of the ancient “Hanseatic freemen”.

In the Russian headquarters in advance, an operation was underway to get Tettenborn’s “equestrian landing” to the southern border of Denmark, which then reached the northern outskirts of Hamburg. Don Special Forces had, if possible, to keep this northern (and most western) bridgehead, conquered by the Russian army by the spring 1813, with small forces. Sea ports became available for the landing of Allied Swedish troops in the Baltic in Pomerania and British troops on the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Elbe.


"The victorious Russian troops, having cleared the enemy from the entire space along the right bank of the Elbe River, 7 March entered the city of Hamburg." So begins the report of the commander-in-chief of the Kutuzov's armies to Alexander I 14 in March 1813, describing the military operation, as a result of which the “brave arrows” of the Russian special forces, under Tettenborn command, entered the French empire at Lauenburg and reached Berburg and Hamburg and Lübeck.

But before sending the “victorious Russian troops” as part of Tettenborn’s “flying squad” fighters to Hamburg, the Vingenstein vanguard in February went 1400 versts ahead of the Main Army to quickly free Berlin and reach the Elbe, Prussia’s border with the Rhine Alliance. Several officers of the Prussian military intelligence, directed by Clausewitz and his mentor, General Scharnhorst - Chief of Staff of the Prussian Army and a supporter of the alliance with Russia, participated in the 300 raid of February in Berlin along with the Cossacks.

In the conditions of the spring thaw, rains and ice drift on the rivers behind the special forces, the avant-garde of Repnin came to Berlin with infantry and artillery, and then Wittgenstein’s entire corps went to the Oder crossing. When the outcome of the Berlin operation became clear, 16 (28) in February 1813 of the year between Russia and Prussia concluded the Kalisz Treaty of Alliance, which gave rise to the 6 of the anti-French coalition. The secret articles of the treaty provided for the restoration of the territory of Prussia within the borders of 1806, subject to its participation in the war with Napoleon.

Kutuzov became the commander-in-chief of the allied armies. Russia pledged to deploy troops of 150 thousand, Prussia - 80 thousand. Lieutenant-General Scharnhorst March 2 notified the commander: "The advance guard of the army under the command of General Blucher March 4 will go into Saxony from the side of Ghritz". Russia's first military ally began to act. Now that the southern flank of the Russian army was reinforced, Kutuzov gave instructions to begin operations on the northern flank.

On the same day, March 2, Wittgenstein ordered Tettenborn to follow Hamburg and Lübeck, as noted in the headquarters "Battle Logs", "to reinforce the outraged residents, who learned about the approach of the Russians, rebelled against the French; the confusion lasted two days. ” Within a couple of days, Kutuzov received the first report from the “flying squad” that approached Hamburg: “Colonel Tettenborn congratulates Mr. Field Marshal on the successful entry of Russian troops into the French Empire.”

In a report from 14 in March, Kutuzov highlights two battles near Hamburg: “Colonel Tettenborn, who was separated there from General Count Wittgenstein with a“ flying squad ”, arrived in Lauenburg by forced marches at a time when his vanguard was already in a strong exchange with the enemy in the village of Eschenburg , to which, in order to approach, must pass through a very difficult defile, on the sides of which the enemy’s arrows were scattered on the steep mountains, and the road itself was covered with cannons ”.

Behind Eschenburg in Bergedorf was a detachment of divisional general Moran with 2800 infantry men, cavalry and 17 guns. The total numerical superiority of the enemy was threefold, but the Don Special Forces conducted a night battle with the French avant-garde: "Despite such an advantageous position of the enemy, the brave arrows of the Cossack regiments Sulin, Grevtsov and Denisov managed to take Eshenburg at night."


Kutuzov in the report to Alexander I is not in vain called the Don "arrows", because they, like the dragoons and the horse rangers, tactically could act both as cavalry and as infantry. In addition to the saber and the Ulan peak (“peak-ditch” with a removable weather vane), the Cossacks owned guns, carbines, pistols and other types of firearms. weaponsas well as various types of martial arts. But the main "weapon" of the Cossack special forces was a special tactic and training.

Until the summer of 1813, the Danish king Frederick VI maintained a neutrality policy towards Russia. Tettenborn made contact in advance with representatives of the city government in Hamburg, the Hanseatic self-defense detachments and the Danish authorities. The Danes immediately barred 3000 infantry soldiers and 24 guns in front of the Moran's division, preventing it from passing through its territory from Schwerin to the fortress of Hamburg. Sulin's regiment, 9, kept Tettenborn in contact with the Danish military, conducted reconnaissance, and then went out for the French from Bergedorf to the ferry, where the March detachment of the Moran 5 division was defeated by the Grevtsov 2 and Denisov 7 regiments. When General Moran came out of Bergedorf to the crossing of the Elbe, Tettenborn “overtook him with the detachment and, seeing the inability of the cavalry to act on location, hurried the shooters and attacked him. The battle was brutal and ended with the decisive shooters of the regiments of Denisov and Grevtsov rushing from all sides to the battery that defended the retreat of the infantry and, having dispersed the enemy shooters, seized it. With this, 6 guns were taken. ”

Battle of the Nations. Vladimir Moshkov. The battle of Leipzig on October 16 1813 of the year. Xnumx

For the capture of Hamburg 16 in March 1813, Tettenborn was promoted to major general. Then he became the first honorary citizen of this city. The name of the Russian Colonel Tettenborn and today opens a list of the famous names of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg from 34.

By mid-March, the 1813, the Russian and Prussian armies, stepped up their attack in the south, and the 15 of March took Dresden. Hamburg fielded about 5 thousand armed militias of the Hanseatic Legion, followed by other cities in northern Germany. Prussian volunteers of Major von Lutzov’s brigade joined Tettenborn’s detachment. In March and April, clashes of parties of the Tettenborn detachment with the French south of Hamburg constantly occurred.

From mid-April, the detachments of Tettenborn and Major General Wilhelm Dernberg, commander of the Russian-German Legion, were included in the vanguard of the new separate international corps under the command of the Austrian lieutenant general in the Russian service of Ludwig Valmoden. The corps headquarters was headed by Karl Clausewitz, at the same time the former chief of staff of the Russian-German Legion.

After the unexpected death of Kutuzov 16 (28) on April in Bunzlau, in Silesia, the Russian-Prussian army and then Russian troops in the allied Prussian Silesian army were commanded by the general from cavalry Wittgenstein, and from 17 (29) on May - by the general of the Barklystein cavalry; . In mid-July, the corps of Valmoden entered the vanguard of the new Northern army. Only in August, 1813, the Austrian Bohemian (Main) Army, which included Russian corps, joined them.


In late April, the Vandamma division approached Hamburg. For more than three weeks, the Tettenborn detachment, with the support of armed citizens and militias from Lübeck, Bremen, Schwerin and their suburbs, kept the defense of the city. As a result, the actions of the Cossack detachments and local partisans in the lower reaches of the Elbe forced Napoleon to send an 35-thousandth army corps under the command of Marshal Davout to Hamburg. But from there the Iron Marshal was no longer able to support the main forces of Napoleon in Saxony.

The positional, maneuverable war on the northern bridgehead was conducted constantly. The Allies waited, but gradually increased their forces. The Swedish garrison left Hamburg on May 14, French and Danish troops entered the city of 18. Just before approaching the Corps Elbe, Davout Tettenborn received 800 Prussian and 2000 Swedish soldiers in reinforcement and left 17 (29) in May, together with the Hanseatic Legion, from Hamburg. When making a maneuver on the right bank of the Elbe, the reinforced Tettenborn unit fought until May 28.

The main forces of the Russian and Prussian troops were occupied in Saxony and in the south-west of Prussia. By the middle of the summer, the Swedish and other corps of the allied forces in northern Germany became part of a new northern army under the command of the Crown Prince of Sweden, Marshal Bernadotte, a former ally of Napoleon. Austria, which remained neutral, first acted on the side of the Allies in early August.

From 4 (16) on June 1813, a truce was concluded between all the warring powers, which lasted two months until the very end of July. The line for the Allied forces in Northern Germany, which runs from Lübeck via Mölln and Schwarzenbek to Gesthacht on the Elbe, was assigned to the border. For the first time in many months, the Don Special Forces received a little rest. But the Cossack intelligence, patrols and patrols acted constantly.

By the fall of 1813, the Allied forces numbered around 500 thousand people (including 175 thousand Russian troops), united into three armies: Bohemian (250 thousand) Austrian Field Marshal Schwarzenberg, Silesian (100 thousand) Prussian Field Marshal Blucher and Northern ( 150 thousand.) Swedish Marshal Bernadotte. The Walmoden Corps (about 30 thousand) interacted with the Northern Army and continued to hold all approaches to Hamburg.

Napoleon had a 450-thousandth army, the bulk of which was in Saxony. In August, the Allies launched a general offensive. Napoleon threw his main forces against the Bohemian army and 15 (27) of August defeated her in the battle of Dresden. The French tried to pursue the Austrians, but the Russian army 17 – 18 (29 – 30) of August in the battle of Kulm rejected the enemy from the territory of Austria.

Görlitz had troops under the command of Napoleon (90 thousand), south of Berlin - Oudinot (60 thousand), in Saxony - Nei (80 thousand), in Hamburg - the Davout corps (35 thousand), from Magdeburg - Gerard's division ( less than 15 thousand.). In the battle of Gross-Beren, 11 of August, the Northern Army defeated the troops of Udino while Davout drove his corps to Schwerin and Wismar and went back, while at Dennewitz, 25 of August (6 of September) forced the retreating forces of Ney, while the Saxons fighting on the French side abandoned weapons and surrendered.


After the battle of Valmoden's corps with the reinforced division of General Pescot from the Davout corps near Lüneburg under Gerd 4 (16) September 1813, the Davouw garrison was finally blocked in the Hamburg fortress, all its communications and supply lines from France were interrupted. This became the most important factor for the subsequent success of the Allies in the battle of Leipzig 4 – 6 in October 1813.

Under Gerd, the British first used their new combat missiles against the French in the land theater of war. The Tettenborn troops first saw the Allied "secret weapon" in action. When they entered the battlefield in Gerda, four Cossack regiments of Tettenborn's detachment in the vanguard of General Valmoden’s consolidated corps, with a special maneuver forcing the French to stumble, watched from the outset the 16 launchers of the British company of horse artillery from the flank opened salvo fire on the enemy.

The British rocket flares, while firepower was still noticeably weaker than the "conventional" barreled artillery, nevertheless hit targets a distance as far as 3 thousand seats and caused the enemy a huge psychological shock. In the battle of Leipzig, “the wonders of pyrotechnics” - fire from rocket launchers invented by Colonel Congreve - was also shown to the Russian high command.

Impressed by what he saw, Alexander I then removed from his uniform the Order of Saint Anne of the I degree and put it on the dark robe of field dust of the modest English Lieutenant Strangweis, who commanded the battery. Next to Alexander I, the Zaporozhye Cossack Colonel Alexander Zasyadko, the future creator of the first Russian missile weapon, was in the group of gunners.

On the same days, on the right flank of the Allied forces, the Tettenborn detachment, according to the plans of the Northern Army, September 27 left Boizenburg and October 1 approached Bremen with a garrison of 1500 people. The Cossacks of the Denisov regiment 7-th swim across the Weser river, approached the city from the south, and the Tettenborn detachment took Bremen on October 3 in October. On the territory of Prussia in the battle of Leipzig, the Allies defeated Napoleon’s army, its remnants retreated to the south-west, beyond the Rhine.

In November and December, the Tettenborn detachment of the 1813, isolated from the Walmoden corps in the vanguard of the Northern Army, participated in the liberation of the former duchy of Holstein, Holstein, Lauenburg and Schleswig (now the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany) from the French and Danish troops. ). This territory, occupied by Denmark and France, was of particular interest to the Russian emperor Alexander I, who inherited from his grandfather, Peter III, the title of duke of Holstein-Gottorp.

From November 22, the northern army moved from Wismar, Schwerin and Boizenburg to Hamburg and Lubeck. The corps of Vorontsov and Stroganov laid siege to Harburg on the left bank of the Elbe south of Hamburg. And north of the combined corps (“light troops”) of Tettenborn - from Trittau, Dandeslo's French troops cut off Oldeslo’s quick maneuver, hitting the flank and rear of Davout’s corps, and he took refuge in the Hamburg fortress. Cossack regiments pursued the Danes to the north of Oldesloe and to the west - through Itzehoe to the mouth of the Elbe.


Under the command of the Northern Army commander, Marshal Bernadotte, the Tettenborn detachment acted against the Danish forces 24 in November under Bramstedt and Neumünster north of Hamburg, and from 25 in November, crossing the River Ider from Rendsburg, conducted military raids on the isthmus of the Jutland peninsula. Then the Don Special Forces hit the Danish troops from the rear, passing to the city of Schleswig and then to Eckernferde on the Baltic coast 25 versts north-west of the port city of Kiel (the birthplace of Peter III).

Moving behind the vanguard, the Valmoden corps and the Dernberg detachment pushed the Danes back from Lübeck to Kiel, and after that from Kiel and Rendsburg to Eckernferde. In Kiel, occupied by the Swedish corps of General Field Marshal Steding, located the headquarters of the army of Bernadotte. All in all, about 35 of thousands of fighters participated in combat operations of the Northern Army in Jutland, including brigades of the Russian-German and British Royal German Legions and battalions of the German militia.

When the garrison of the Faulvik fortress with an artillery battery of 18 cannons and 10 mortars after a siege capitulated before the Tettenborn detachment (“corps”) with horse cannons, this was noted in the 30 Newsletter of the Northern Army from 4 (16) of December 1813. weather conditions, or lack of roads - nothing stops these warriors. The army, which has in its composition of the Cossacks, thanks to their vigilant support, is able to constantly conduct military operations and achieve success. " From this document it is clear why the Don Special Forces acted in the vanguard of the entire Northern army.

Only once in the history of the Russian army acted on the territory of Denmark. From Flensburg, the regiment of Denisov 7 as part of the Tettenborn detachment reached the Danish city of Kolding on the Baltic coast (Little Belt Strait) in January 1814 versts from Horsens, the birthplace of the great Russian navigator captain-commander Vitus Bering. The Don Special Forces conducted reconnaissance both in the west of Jutland and on the coast of the North Sea.

The offensive of the Northern army in Holstein and the actions of the Russian special forces in Jutland prompted the Danes to withdraw from the alliance with France: 2 (14) January 1814, Denmark signed the Kiel peace treaties with Sweden and England. The Danish Kingdom pledged to go to war with Napoleon and select the 10-thousandth contingent of its troops.

After 6 (18), January 1814, from Denmark, the regiments of the Tettenborn squad with the Lutzow and Hanseatic Legion brigades (about 5 ths. In total) marched to France in the vanguard of the Northern Army. During the march month, they traveled 200 versts south to Hamburg and then headed southwest more than 700 versts through Germany and Luxemburg to Paris.
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  1. Belogor
    Belogor 3 May 2013 07: 27 New
    "British rocket-propelled rockets, ... nevertheless hit targets at a distance of as much as 3 thousand miles"

    Probably a typo (typo) Nowadays, not all missiles overcome such a distance.
  2. cumastra1
    cumastra1 3 May 2013 08: 46 New
    Thanks, interesting stuff.
  3. radio operator
    radio operator 3 May 2013 09: 16 New
    Napoleon had a 450-thousandth army, the bulk of which was in Saxony. In August, the Allies launched a general offensive. Napoleon threw his main forces against the Bohemian army and 15 (27) of August defeated her in the battle of Dresden. The French tried to pursue the Austrians, but the Russian army 17 – 18 (29 – 30) of August in the battle of Kulm rejected the enemy from the territory of Austria.

    What would they do without us?
    At crucial moments, the Russians helped everyone. Only not everyone remembers this.
    1. Motorist
      Motorist 23 June 2013 16: 41 New
      Yes. Europeans have a short memory.
  4. Jurkovs
    Jurkovs 3 May 2013 18: 18 New
    I read somewhere that Kutuzov was against the European campaign, but Alexander-1 insisted. I consider this decision to be the biggest mistake that affected the entire subsequent history of Russia. Let England itself butted with Napoleon. Russia, in the wake of peasant expectations and a liberal atmosphere among the nobility, could at once abolish serfdom. After 20 years, the next emperor wrote in his diary that only one thing kept him from abolishing serfdom, while the recruiting army would be liquidated, and while a new one was created, Russia would be defenseless against Europe. The Crimean War very soon recalled the aggressiveness of Europe. And after 1812 no one would have dared to attack Russia for about 15 years, everyone was busy with their own affairs and the memory of peasant partisan detachments was fresh.
  5. Arct
    Arct 3 May 2013 23: 07 New
    I’m only interested in one thing - did the author knowingly or unknowingly set Tettenborn in the best possible way?