The uncle Alexander Samoilov, the famous Ekaterina’s nobleman, as well as their maternal grandfather, Count Samoilov, in whose house they lived in St. Petersburg were mainly engaged in raising the Raevsky brothers. Nikolai received an excellent education at home. He knew French very well, quite tolerably expressed himself in German, thoroughly studied geometry and mathematics, was interested in fiction. According to the custom of that era, Raevsky was already enrolled in military service at the age of three. He began active service at the age of fourteen, having joined the army of Grigori Potemkin, who was a great-nephew. And in 1787, another Russian-Turkish war began, and Guards Lieutenant Nikolai Rajewski as a volunteer went to the active army. By order of the Most High Prince, he was seconded to the Cossack detachment with instructions: "Use it as a simple Cossack, and only then as a lieutenant of the Guard." Potyomkin, seeing inborn Cossacks inborn warriors, rightly believed that for a pampered nephew, “Cossack science” would be an excellent school. The Field Marshall General himself handed Nikolai a written instruction in which there were such words: “Try if you are a coward. If not, strengthen courage by dealing with the enemy often. ”
There were plenty of opportunities to fulfill this order for Rajewski in those years. First, Nikolai Nikolayevich was in the brigade of Mikhail Kutuzov, and then in the flying squad of Count Pavel Potemkin, with whom he went under Bender, he fought with Largi and Salcha. During the execution of combat operations, he showed remarkable resourcefulness and courage, earning the approval of the leadership. In the fall of 1789, Nikolai entered the forces of Alexander Samoilov and took part in the blockade, and then the capture of Akkerman. And in November of this year, Rajewski was already among the soldiers who took the fortress of Bender. The nineteen-year-old Nikolai Nikolayevich ended the war as a lieutenant colonel, and was promoted to colonel by decree of Catherine II. However, this war brought Nikolay not only honors and glory - in December 1790, during the assault on Ishmael, was killed by Alexander, Raevsky's elder brother. And soon a new war began - in Poland. After a rather large battle at the village of Gorodishche, which took place in June 1792, Rajewski, for having "acted with distinction", received his first award - George of the fourth degree. By the end of hostilities in the spring of 1793, a golden sword was added to this award (for bravery in the battle of Daragost) and the Order of Saint Vladimir of the fourth degree (for the successful disarmament of the Polish garrison in Mogilev).
In the summer of 1794, Nikolai Nikolayevich was appointed commander of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment and went to the North Caucasus. And at the end of the same year, Rajewski during his vacation, which he spent in St. Petersburg, met a twenty-five-year-old Sofia Konstantinova, who, incidentally, was Lomonosov’s granddaughter. In June, 1795, the young were married. Sofya Alekseevna devoted herself entirely to household chores and was immensely devoted to her husband throughout her life. In mid-November, their firstborn was born, whom Nikolai named Alexander in honor of his brother. Unfortunately, the married couple enjoyed a peaceful family life not for long. Shortly after the start of the new 1796, the Persians increased their activity on the Caspian coast of the Caucasus. Russian troops responded with campaigns to Shemakha and Derbent, but commander Valerian Zubov prepared poorly for these military operations. The command was not adjusted properly, the troops lacked supplies and food, and the unsuccessful organization of intelligence led to sudden attacks by the enemy. As a result, twenty-three-year-old Rayevsky took over guard duty. And in May, his dragoon regiment, "who managed to maintain combat order and strict discipline during the grueling campaign," took part in the siege and surrender of Derbent.
In November, 1796 ascended the Russian throne to Paul I, and the government’s policy changed. Knocking out the “Potemkin spirit”, Prussian orders began to be introduced into the troops, and many of the old favorites went into retirement. The imperial arm and Rajewski touched - in May 1797 came the order of his dismissal from service. Nicholas's mother gave him the possession of some of their estates, and Rajewski, engaged in the arrangement of estates, plunged headlong into economic affairs. In addition, he did not forget to study military literature and analyze past wars. In 1801 with the accession to the throne of Alexander I, he, as an experienced commander, was invited to the army and was given the rank of major general. However, six months later, Nikolai Nikolayevich again — voluntarily this time — left the service and returned to the joys of family life and rural solitude. By the way, at the turn of the century Sofia Alekseevna presented him with one more son - Nikolay, the future founder of the city of Novorossiysk, and five daughters.
Meanwhile, in 1806, a new anti-French coalition was formed. Prussia declared war on Napoleon, but soon suffered a series of crushing defeats from him. At the end of October, the 1806 French occupied Berlin, and Russia, fulfilling allied obligations, sent its army to East Prussia. Starting in December, Russian troops fought stubborn defensive battles. Napoleon, who at first had a twofold numerical superiority, failed to realize it, and military operations dragged on. In February, 1807 Rajewski, no longer able to stay away from the events, filed a petition for enrollment in military service. In April of the same year, he arrived in the army and led the Eger brigade, which is part of the vanguard of a close friend of General Peter Bagration. Nikolai Nikolayevich took part in all the major battles of that period - under Guttstadt, Ankendorf, Deppen and again under Guttstadt. Despite the ten years he spent outside the army, he still showed himself to be a skillful and brave commander. Especially important for him was the first battle near Guttstadt, during which the superior forces of Napoleon surrounded the Russian army. In this battle, Rajewski, who led all three of the Chasseurs of the avant-garde regiment, managed to contain a number of massive enemy attacks in his sector, thereby saving the army from destruction. Mikhail Orlov wrote that “his positions passed from hand to hand several times, and Nikolay Nikolayevich himself first entered the battle and the last of them came out, personally leading troops entrusted to the bayonets”. In the battle of Heilsberg, Rajevsky was wounded by a bullet in the knee, but remained in the ranks. In the battle of Friedland, which took place in mid-June, he already led all the Chasseurs regiments, and during the retreat to Tilsit he commanded the entire rear guard.
After the signing of the world, Nikolai Nikolayevich was awarded the Order of St. Anna of the first degree and transferred to the main apartment in the quartermaster part. The army at that time was undergoing reform for urgent retraining and re-uniforming of troops in the French manner. Nikolai Nikolayevich displeasedly wrote: “We have refrained everything here — no matter what day, something new.” And in February, 1808, military operations began against Sweden, allowing Rayevsky to return to the army in the field. For differences in battles in April of this year, Nikolai Nikolayevich was awarded the rank of lieutenant general. It was the units of Ranevsky who bore the brunt of the battle at Kuortan that had flared up in mid-August. As a result of the three-day battle, the Swedes were forced to leave the city.
All the next year, Nikolai Nikolayevich spent in idleness. He wrote home: “Life here is unbearable, whenever I carry a service, I would not complain. Now that they say things do not do, do not run from the case. " In this regard, Rajewski asked for a transfer to the Moldavian army, who fought with the Turks. The Russian-Turkish war, which began back in 1806, was fought without much enthusiasm. Most of the senior officers looked at military action as a fairly lucrative craft, not caring for the multiplication of the glorious Suvorov traditions. In 1810, Nikolay Kamensky was appointed commander-in-chief in the war with the Turks. After an unsuccessful attack of Shumla in June, 1810 Rajevsky finally lost faith in the commander in chief and began to openly criticize his actions. In response, an angry Kamensky immediately expelled him from the army.
After that, Nikolai Nikolaevich returned to the western border. In March 1811 he led the twenty-sixth infantry division, and in April 1812 - the seventh infantry corps as part of the second Western army of Bagration. From the very beginning of the Patriotic War, the forces of Peter Ivanovich were in a critical situation. Having crossed the border in June, the French army was following the first Western army of Barclay de Tolly in rapid march, while the second army remained in place in accordance with the order. Only six days later, from Alexander I, the order came to launch an offensive in the direction of the right flank of the enemy and join up with the first army. However, time for this was missed. In order to pinch the forty-thousandth army of Bagration, a forty-thousandth detachment of Marshal Davout was sent from Vilna, and from the south three more corps totaling seventy thousand people. Davu overtook the forces of Bagration and, finding himself to the northeast of the second Russian army, occupied the city of Mogilev. Bagration, not having accurate information about the size of the enemy’s forces, not reaching Mogilyov, sent forward Raevsky’s corps, giving it the task of dropping the French and clearing the road to Vitebsk, where, according to the plan, the Russian armies were to meet.
Early in the morning of July 23 near the village of Saltanovka, located eleven kilometers from Mogilev, Raevsky’s seventh corps met with the troops of the “Iron Marshal”. The famous historian Yevgeny Tarle wrote: “With one corps Nikolai Nikolayevich held back for ten hours at Dashkovka, and then between Novoselov, Dashkovka and Saltanovka, five divisions of Mortier and Davout attacking him.” All enemy attempts to circumvent Raevsky’s position were unsuccessful. It is curious that under Nikolai Nikolayevich there were both his sons, who by that time had turned seventeen and eleven years old. The general himself during the battle was seriously wounded, but did not leave the battle. The soldiers also did not yield to their commander. After the battle, Raevsky, who was miserly for praise, told Bagration: “He himself witnessed how many lower ranks and officers, having received several wounds and bandaging them, returned to the battle, as if to a feast. I can’t take enough of their bravery and art — all were heroes. ” Only after the order of Bagration, did Nikolai Nikolayevich withdraw his corps from the fire.
Later, at the military council, Pyotr Ivanovich decided to send his forces across the Dnieper River south of the city of Mogilev and retreat to Smolensk. This maneuver was without obstacles, because Davou, after the battle with Raevsky’s corps, was convinced that the Russians wanted to capture the city, and began to prepare the defense. Combining armies was the biggest achievement in the first stage of the war. Russian troops had the opportunity to relax and gather their strength, the morale of the soldiers rose and openly raised the issue of offensive operations. However, Napoleon was the first to strike.
Using his leisurely advancement of the Russians, he forced the Dnieper to the west of Smolensk and went into the rear of Barclay’s army. On the way of the French army, there was only an eight-thousand detachment of Dmitry Neverovsky, who had been stubbornly resisting the twenty-thousand-strong Murat cavalry for 24 hours. During this time, during the hardest night march, Rayevsky’s corps approached the battlefield. Having learned that the Neverovsky detachment was "completely destroyed", and not by the supposed large cavalry detachment, but by the main forces of the enemy, Nikolay Nikolayevich sent a request for further actions. Having received no response from the command and knowing full well that during the occupation of Smolensk, the enemy would cut off both Russian armies from supplies of food and supplies, and also deprive communications with Moscow, Raevsky decided to keep the enemy under the walls of the ancient city to the last. He wrote: “My death is quite probable, but it will not be useless. ... Worrying about the salvation of Russia and the army, I decide to take responsibility and use any chance presented. Even with the vileness of my powers. " And the forces of Nikolai Nikolaevich, along with the surviving soldiers of Neverovsky, were about thirteen thousand people. An infantry regiment left in the city “to keep order” also came to his aid. It was not possible to count on the support of local authorities, because the day before, leaving all of their property, Smolensk, departmental officials fled, and after them almost all the clergy and Smolensk garrison led by the commandant.
180-thousandth army of the French approached the city of August 15. Literally overnight, Rajevsky managed to organize the defense of Smolensk, while demonstrating outstanding organizational skills and tactical training. In addition to military tasks, Nikolai Nikolayevich had to solve issues of maintaining public order and preventing robberies. It is curious that Rajewski did not intend to sit outside the city walls, describing the defense of the city as a “barrier battle”, in particular 20 from 28 his battalions were withdrawn outside the fortress walls and located in the suburbs, which, in his opinion, gives more room for maneuvers. All preparations ended at dawn, and in the morning of August 16, the formidable French cavalry under the cover of artillery rushed to the attack. At nine o'clock in the morning, the horse lava was choked with choking, replaced by a general attack of the French, but in the first half of the day the enemy was beaten off in all directions. Having failed, the enemy began to "beat the city walls, supporting the intervals of batteries with arrows." However, neither the hurricane shelling, nor the attacks that the French had undertaken all day at various locations, did not bring them success. Late in the evening, the arriving Marshal Nei undertook another assault, however, this attack was repulsed, after which the battle began to subside. After midnight, both Russian armies arrived at Smolensk, and Raevsky’s soldier replaced the sixth infantry corps under the command of Dokhturov.
The result of the heroic defense of Smolensk was a violation of the strategic plans of the French emperor. But Barclay de Tolly did not want to risk and go to this place for a decisive confrontation, 18 of August, the Russian soldiers, having blown up bridges and powder stores, left the city. However, three weeks later, Mikhail Kutuzov, appointed by the new commander-in-chief, decided to give the French a general battle. In the center of positions of the Russian army on the Borodino field, Kurgan heights dominating the locality. She was entrusted to defend the seventh corps, and in stories She remained as the “Raevsky battery”. All day before the battle, the soldiers of Nikolai Nikolayevich built earthworks at height. In the organization of defense, Raevsky abandoned the linear order, which reduced losses from artillery fire. Early in the morning of September 7, along with the shelling of Bagration flushes, two infantry divisions of the French rushed to the attack on Kurgan height. Rajewski managed to stop the offensive, but after some time, three enemy divisions had already moved into the attack. Very soon his position became critical, he was sorely lacking in ammunition and people. As a result, the enemy broke into a height and started a hand-to-hand fight. The situation was saved by the arrival of soldiers of the Third Ufa Regiment, General Yermolov. Seeing the huge losses in the Raevskii corps, the commander-in-chief took him to the second line, and the defense of the battery was assigned to the Likhachev infantry division. During the second half of the day, the battery was under fire from a hundred and fifty French guns, cavalry and infantry assaults. The losses on both sides were enormous, and the Raevsky battery itself received a new nickname - “the grave of the French cavalry”. As a result, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the French, taking advantage of their numerical advantage, seized the position, but after dark they retreated to their original lines. The losses of Raevsky’s ten thousand corps, which withstood the blow of the first two attacks of the enemy, were enormous. As acknowledged by Nikolai Nikolayevich himself after the battle, he gathered "hardly seven hundred people."
Borodino. The attack on the battery Rajewski. F.A. Rubo, 1913 g
Despite this, the brave general believed that the battle must continue, and was very dissatisfied, having received the order to retreat. After his departure from Mozhaisk, Rajewski, commanded the rearguard for 24 hours, successfully repelling Murat’s attacks, and in early September attended the military council held at Fili. Nikolay Nikolayevich was the last to express his point of view, and she coincided with the opinion of the commander-in-chief - Moscow must be left. During the Kutuzov march maneuvers, Rajevsky led various rearguard units. In the conditions of a rapidly changing environment, violent bloody clashes with an enemy bursting forward, he repeatedly had to act at his own peril and risk and make non-standard decisions. Finally, at the end of September, the Russian army camped in the village of Tarutino. The retreat was over, but it was still necessary to convey to the enemy pursuing them. After a hard battle, Murat was convinced that the Russian soldiers no longer intend to retreat. There was a lull in the fighting, and the seventh corps was set aside for re-formation. Thanks to the tireless work of training recruits, three weeks later, Raevsky’s corps again became a combat-ready unit and took part in the operation near Maloyaroslavets, where the second most significant (after Borodino) battle of the Patriotic War broke out on October 24. Eight times the city passed from hand to hand, and although, as a result, the French occupied it, Napoleon was forced to put an end to the decision to move to Kaluga and turned his "great army" to the ravaged Smolensk road.
For his actions under Maloyaroslavets, Raevsky was awarded the Order of St. George of the third degree, and soon Kutuzov gave him independent actions in the vanguard. In the middle of November, the Russians ’avant-garde of the Reds cut off the retreat route to a number of enemy corps. Rajewski's seventh corps had to endure a three-day bloody battle with parts of Beogarna and the remnants of Nei's corps. One of Napoleon’s most famous marshals had to abandon further attacks and flee across the Dnieper on thin ice, losing all the artillery and twelve thousand prisoners, many of whom expressed their desire to surrender to Raevsky personally. After the successful end of World War II, Nikolai Nikolayevich asked for a vacation, but on his way home he fell seriously ill and came to his family in January 1813 in critical condition. Constant overstrain, as well as numerous injuries and contusions affected the health of the general. He finally recovered only by the spring, and in April he had already returned to the army, leading the elite grenadier corps. In May, his soldiers showed themselves in the battles of Bautzen and Königswarth.
It is necessary to say a few words about the commander himself. Rajewski stood out sharply against the background of other military leaders. Contemporaries noted that in battle the general experienced a real rapture, completely forgetting about the danger. At the same time, after long battles, he experienced a breakdown and devastation. Rajewski enjoyed great respect among his colleagues and subordinates, but was deprived of official recognition. He himself lamented about this: "Intrigues and connections do everything, merit is extremely small." The Russian writer Ivan Lazhechnikov described the manner of the general to communicate with his subordinates: “Nikolai Nikolayevich never fussed about orders: in the heat of battle he gave orders calmly, clearly, sensibly, as if he was at home; he always asked the performer whether his order was clear, and if he thought that he was not clear enough, he would repeat without a heart. He had a special talent to bind subordinates to himself. ” And Denis Davydov said: “Rayevsky is always the same with himself and elder equal, before the troops in peacetime and in the fire of battles, in the circle of acquaintances and strangers: calm, friendly, modest, and at the same time strong, feeling his strength and unwittingly giving it to feel ... ".
Hostilities resumed in August 1813. The anti-Napoleonic coalition intensified - Austria and Sweden joined the Russia, Prussia and England. The combined Allied army reached 227 thousands of soldiers against Napoleon 165 thousands. However, Rajewski, who was transferred along with his corps to the Bohemian army of Austrian Field Marshal Schwarzenberg, strongly doubted the commanding talents of the allied commanders. As it turned out, it was not for nothing that at the end of August, thanks to clear and concerted actions, Napoleon defeated more numerous Allied forces in the battle of Dresden, forcing parts of Schwarzenberg to retreat to Bohemia. However, a few days later, Raevsky units took part in the victorious battle of Kulm, where the French corps of General Vandam was split. For this battle, Nikolai Nikolaevich was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir of the first degree.
In October, the 1813 Allied forces approached Leipzig. This also pulled all the available forces and Napoleon, determined to give a general battle. October 16 in this place was the largest battle of the era, called the “Battle of the Nations” and ended by the defeat of the French emperor by October 19. Rajewski's grenadier corps was particularly distinguished in this battle. Napoleon, who decided with one powerful blow, to knock over the right flank of the Allies, concentrated about a hundred cavalry squadrons in the place of the impending breakthrough, for one construction of which, according to the information that remained, took more than two hours. A powerful attack began at three o'clock in the afternoon, and not a single Allied unit could hold up the mighty cavalry lavas, divided into two streams. Raevsky, seeing the attack of the enemy, ordered his regiments, who had taken a position between the villages of Goss and Auenheim, to form dense squares. A contemporary described it: “The hounds of the French cavalry with their tide swallowed up the grenadier regiments, curled up in hazel, and rushed into their gaps, seeking to wedge themselves. The courage of the French was uselessly exhausted against the brave men led by Rajewski. " According to legend, Alexander I himself cried out in amazement: "What are the grenadiers!". Due to the steadfastness of the soldiers of Nikolai Nikolayevich, the Allies managed to tighten the reserve units, and the attack of the enemy cavalry was repelled. In the meantime, the Grenadier Corps was already opposing the approaching French infantry of the marshals Oudinot and Victor, who had dispersed the remnants of the Allied forces and seized Gossu and Auenheim. However, Rayevsky’s soldiers did not let them go further. Having sustained a number of attacks, the grenadiers themselves went on the offensive and stormed Ouenheim.
The feat of the general was noticed, the Russian emperor, actually rescued along with two other monarchs (their headquarters were on the hills behind Gossa), made Nikolai Nikolayevich to the generals from cavalry. Raevsky himself received a heavy bullet wound in the chest in battle, but until the end of the battle he commanded the corps. Moreover, his regiments pursued the enemy fleeing from Leipzig, but the general’s wound was inflamed, and Raevsky was brought to Weimar in serious condition, where doctors fought for his life for a month. In the winter of 1814, having barely healed the wound, Nikolai Nikolayevich returned to service. He participated in the battles of Brienne, Bar-sur-Oba, Arcy-sur-Oba. After the battle at Arsis, the command decided to move with all its might to the capital of France. In the army, this news was received with enthusiasm. On March 30, Raevsky’s avant-garde appeared on the outskirts of Paris and knocked the enemy out of the Bondian forest. And the next day the assault on the city began. Parts of Nikolai Nikolaevich fought in the Belleville quarter of Paris located on a hill and, despite the resistance of the French, occupied the heights dominating the city. Soon after, the Parisians signed a surrender. After the victorious end of the war, Alexander I awarded Rayevsky with the Order of St. George of the second degree, and after learning about his difficult financial situation, he allocated a loan of one million rubles.
The first decade that passed after the defeat of Napoleon, Nikolai Nikolayevich was a famous person. He lived in Kiev, where the fourth infantry corps entrusted to him was stationed. His visit to the famous general was twice honored by the emperor himself (during his arrival in the city in 1816 and 1817). Raevsky himself, following the model of an honest professional military man, avoided any incursions into the political sphere, stressing that he was not serving individuals, but the state. Also, the general did not strive for nobility, there is a story that he abandoned the count title offered by the king. Nikolai Nikolayevich, who almost never asked anything for himself, provided patronage to familiar people, reported to the tsar about the needs of the Kiev landowners. After the war he paid much attention to his family. Despite the fact that the general was a fairly wealthy landowner (about 3500 souls), he lived simply enough, not trying to solve his financial problems by increasing extortion from the peasants. Nevertheless, Nikolai Nikolayevich managed to find additional sources of income, and in the end he paid off almost all of his debt. In his spare time, Raevsky loved gardening, appreciated a lively conversation and was an excellent storyteller. By the way, the young friend of the poet Alexander Pushkin was a close friend of the commander's family. Separately, it should be said about the attitude of the famous general to the matter of training military units. He was an opponent of corporal punishment, although, unlike Barclay de Tolly, he did not protest the abolition of the cane system. In private conversations, he urged the officers to influence by personal example, learn to find a common language with the soldiers and improve their own training. He wanted to see relations in the army "based on reasonable rigor, full responsibility and impeccable performance of his duties." By the way, on the initiative of Rajewski, the first Lancaster school of instruction was organized in the Russian army. Often, the general also became the godfather of his soldiers, who accepted the Orthodox faith.
After 1821, Alexander I’s sympathy for Nikolai Nikolayevich began to decline. The Russian emperor began to receive information about the emergence in the country of some secret revolutionary societies, and Rayevsky was called one of their ideological leaders. These denunciations were baseless, but the king’s mistrust of the generalist on the side of politics was growing. The sovereign’s dislike for Nikolai Nikolayevich felt particularly acute during the highest review of his fourth corps, held in the autumn of 1824, which resulted in a couple of months later he submitted his resignation.
The following year was the most sad in the life of the general. First, his mother died, and then in December there was an uprising of the Decembrists, which came as a complete surprise to Nikolai Nikolayevich. Raevsky didn’t have any organizational and ideological connections with the participants of the events, however, that the rebels wanted to see him as part of the provisional Russian government. For the commander himself, the news of his sons' involvement in the investigation was a blow. And soon they came news about the arrest of other close people - son-in-law of Mikhail Orlov and Sergey Volkonsky and the half-brother Vasily Davydov. Subsequently, Raevsky’s children were acquitted, but the rest of the general’s relatives were expelled from the capital. At the end of 1826, Nikolai Nikolayevich parted forever and with his beloved daughter Maria, who went to Siberia to visit her husband. She wrote: “We said goodbye to my father in silence. He blessed me and turned away unable to utter a word ... ". For about two years, Rajewski did not respond to her messages, although he reread them many times. And only after the death of his grandson, the general resumed his correspondence. By the way, the wives of other Siberian exiles turned to the general through Maria Nikolaevna, and Raevsky provided them with all kinds of support.
The next two years, Nikolai Nikolayevich spent in family concerns. In connection with the threat of a new war with Turkey, the commander made an attempt to return to the service, hoping that his experience would be useful to the army. However, to Nicholas I in January 1828 sent Raevsky a polite refusal. And in February, the 1829 general arrived St. Petersburg with the goal of asking for his son Alexander, who received a ban on living in both capitals of Russia. On the way home, Nikolai Nikolayevich suddenly felt ill. The last days of his life did not give him peace of mind. Severe pains from old diseases, the absence of his beloved daughter near him, the thought that he leaves unsettled affairs (Volkonsky’s relatives gave him the Decembrist’s estate, hanging over three hundred thousand rubles of debt at the same time) - all this deprived the commander of peace. Nikolay Raevsky died on September 16 1829 and was buried in the Razumovka family estate. He was only fifty eight years old.
Based on materials from the sites http://www.reenactor.ru/ and http://www.vokrugsveta.ru