Military Review

Medals of the Peter epoch: From Shlisselburg to Poltava

So, Russian medals. Glancing around the pre-Peter the Great, we now proceed to the story of the time when the Russian state was rapidly turning into a world power.

Gold Medal for the Battle of Forest

Although Tsar Peter Alekseevich officially accepted the title of emperor only at the end of his reign, we are not much mistaken if we call Russia of the first two decades of the seventeenth century an empire. In 1721, the existing order of things was only formally fixed. Twenty-one years before, the Russian army, defeated by Narva, was not sufficiently prepared to wage a modern war (of course, as Europeans saw it), was going through an acute phase of "growing pains."

True, covering the general retreat, the Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky regiments distinguished themselves at that time, for which they received uniform red stockings for forty years as a sign that they fought “knee-deep in blood”. The Swedes, however, did not pay due attention to the Russian heroism and, overestimating the historical perspective, the significance of their success, a commemorative commemorative medal depicting a weeping king running away from Narva was minted. But in vain. After all, just a couple of years near Noteburg, there was no laughing matter: the old Russian Oreshek, renamed Peter after taking it to Shlisselburg (this is in German, and in Russian would be “Key City”), opened Russia the path to the longed-for shores of the Baltic.

This time the siege was prepared as thoroughly as possible, paving, or rather, breaking its way through centuries-old impassable forests from the Olonets region to Ladoga and dragging, bypassing Noteburg, from the lake to the Neva flotilla of fifty small ships. In Novgorod, Russian artillery reformer Jacob Bruce, better known as the notorious “sorcerer” from the Sukharev Tower, prepared not just guns, but also all the necessary trench tools during siege work.

Medal for taking the fortress Shlisselburg

Thanks to these measures, as well as the active actions of the army at Gummelshof and on the Izhora River, the danger of a possible approach of reinforcement to the fortress was eliminated. And finally, October 22 (11 in old style) 1702, the combined detachment of Russian Life Guardsmen rushed to storm slightly only enemy fortifications damaged by cannonade (there was nothing to do here - a considerable number of siege weapons fell into disrepair due to inept artillery actions, but , we note, only “hunters”, that is, volunteers, were sent to the inferno - here you are “Eastern barbarians”, gentlemen Europeans!).
At the critical moment of the battle, we read in the “History of the Life Guards of the Semenovsky Regiment,” when the Swedish gunners from the bastions lashed buckshot at the Semen and Preobrazhensky faces and several soldiers ran back to the boats (the fortress was on Orekhovy Island in the source of the Neva), which was ordered by Lieutenant Colonel “ Prince Golitsyn, in order to take away any thought of retreat, ordered all free boats to be pushed off the coast. Peter, not seeing success, sent a command: to retreat, but the one sent to the prince could not get through. Some claimed that the messenger reached Prince Golitsyn, but received the answer: “Tell the Tsar that now I do not belong to Peter, but to God.” Seeing the desperate determination of the Russians, the commandant of the fortress Wolmar Schlippenbach surrendered on conditions of honorable surrender.

Peter highly appreciated this victory - five times later, not annually, of course, and when there was time between the great transformative works, he noisily celebrated her anniversary. And in order to strengthen the glorious event in the military tradition, the king ordered to produce a fair number of medals "For the capture of Shlisselburg": gold - for officers and preferred guards noncommissioning officers, silver - for privates. In the traveling “Journal of Peter the Great” the medals are still called “coins” in the old manner, although they were a different type of award than before. On the obverse (front side) the profile of the king was minted, the reverse (reverse side) was decorated with an assault scene, and the image was made in such detail that one can already get an idea of ​​the battlefield: the fortress is shown, boats with “hunters”, even trajectories flight of nuclei! The stormed Nutlet on the reverse is surrounded by the words corresponding to the occasion: “WAS AT THE NON-GIFT 90 LETTER” and “TAKE 1702 OCT. 21. A curious error crept into the last line, which was caused by an oversight of the manufacturers of the stamp: Noteburg did not surrender to 21, but to October 12. Accidentally date is much closer to the new style, is not it? Well, we will continue to stick only to him.

Medal for the Battle of Poltava

Six months later, in April 1703, the Russian army laid siege to the second and last Swedish stronghold on the Neva, Nyenskans. At first, “various other Swedes” haughtily rejected the ultimatum to surrender, but after a few days of continuous bombardment (the Russian artillerymen were at their best this time) surrendered. This happened on May 1, and another five days later a squadron of the Swedish admiral Numers arrived from Vyborg to the rescue with a delay. Its avant-garde — the Gedan twelve-cannon bot and the eight-gun shnyava (a three-mast ship of relatively small displacement) Astrel — detained by a strong fog, blithely anchored at the mouth of the Neva. It was here that the Russian Guardsmen, who were seated in boats, also boarded them.

The special operation was developed and personally commanded by paratroopers Peter I with Alexander Menshikov, for which they were justly honored with the highest and only at that time national order of St. Andrew the First-Called. Other participants were happy (I would not be happy: the first Russian Victoria in the Baltic!) Were awarded medals, and, moreover, only gold. However, all the same experienced Transfigurations and Semenov members participated in the seizure of the ships, and even at that time ordinary scions of noble families served in the Life Guards. The inscription on the back side is indicative: “The unbelievable happens” (that is, the impossible is possible, as one pop singer sings). The image on the reverse is again as detailed and historic as possible: two Swedish ships are shown surrounded by twenty-seven (do not believe — count yourself) Russian boats. Total boats were involved exactly thirty. Where, you ask, has gone three more? They are simply hidden by the sides of the Swedes.

Medals of the Peter epoch: From Shlisselburg to Poltava

The Most High Prince Alexander Danilovich Menshikov

The next medal marked another major event in the Northern War - the defeat of October 29 1706 of the 28-thousandth Swedish-Polish corps under Kalisch by the allied Russian-Saxon-Polish army. It happened in Poland, torn by political intrigues: some of the Poles went over to the side of the Swedes, the other formally remained in alliance with the Russians, but the Polish king and the Saxon elector Augustus II secretly signed the so-called Altranstedt world, which he pledged break all relations with Russia and abdicate the Commonwealth in favor of the Swedish protege Stanislav Leschinsky.

Not particularly hoping for the Poles, Alexander Menshikov, who commanded the Russian troops, put those in the rear, put the Saxons on the left flank, and the fate of the battle was decided by the Russian dragoons: 84 squadron attacked the enemy in his strong position, crushed the Polish cavalry of Sapieha and Pototsky, and against the Swedes , dismounting, fought a fire fight. In his “Notes”, the Russian diplomat Ivan Zhelyabuzhsky noted that our “hours of constant fire 3 were ... they took great power and so cruelly attacked the enemy, that they ruined at the end, did a small part of the Swedish cavalry leave, and the infantry remained ". This remaining along with General Arvid Mardefelt infantry and captured Menshikov, who was wounded during this hot business.

The medal “For the Battle of Kalisz”, created by the French master Solomon Guehn and the Saxon Gottfried Gaupt and minted in Moscow at the Kadashevsky Mint, shows us not one, but, in all likelihood, two Petrov. In addition to the usual profile on the obverse, a rider similar to the king is also depicted on the reverse. There is also a motto that sounds completely orderly: "For faithfulness and courage." For officers participating in the battle, 300 gold medals were made, differing in size and even in shape (some not round, but oblong, oval), while the highest commanders were presented with gold-framed decorations decorated with enamel and diamonds. The simple dragoons of the Nevsky, Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod regiments were not forgotten - they were dressed in silver prints. Worn a medal on the blue silk ribbon of the Order of St. Andrew.

Poltava battle. Mosaic of Mikhail Lomonosov

The same design and the same ribbon were used in the manufacture of a more massive medal "For the Battle of Forest". This battle, called by Peter “the mother of the Poltava victory”, took place on October 9 1708 near the Belarusian village near Mogilyov. The 16-thousandth Swedish corps of General Adam Lewenhaupt slowly advanced on the connection with the army of Charles XII near Smolensk, covering the train of seven thousand carts. Meanwhile, the main forces of the Swedes, together with the king, due to insufficient supply, moved south to the “friendly” Ukraine, to the traitor Mazepa.

This inconsistency brilliantly took advantage of Peter, gifted with undoubted strategic talent. Having detached Field Marshal Boris Sheremetev to pursue Karl, he personally rushed to intercept Levengaupt with a volatile corps. All day until the evening, the Swedes fought off the attacks of the Russian cavalry and the Life Guards. Under cover of night, leaving the wounded and half of the wagon train, the survivors began indiscriminate withdrawal, but were pressed against the Dnieper, partly captured, partly killed (of them, according to Russian data, about eight thousand died). Carriage with food and ammunition for the army of Charles became entirely the prey of Peter's troops.

The award medal, as we have said, is copied from the “Kalisz”, but it has a significant difference - the inscription on the obverse “PETR. FIRST. Imp. ISAMOD. All over. That is, let us return for a second to the beginning of our article, Peter, not yet formally emperor, has already been named by him. The second difference is the motto on the reverse, where the terms of the cavalryman’s figure read the inscription: “WORTH - DECENT.” In total, these medals in various versions were made more than four with the floor. thousand, some of them - gold, for senior officers - with diamonds. In the Preobrazhensky regiment alone, 39 non-commissioned officers, 88 sergeants, captenarmuses and corporals were awarded. Among those honored were many cavalrymen, along with their combat commander, an outstanding general Rodion Baur. In the battle, he received a heavy wound: an enemy bullet hit him in the mouth and came out of the back of the neck. Baur lost his right hand, but soon he was back in the ranks and smashed the Swedes near Poltava.

A few years later, Peter wrote about the “Lewenhaupt battle”: “This was the first victory for us that could be called, there was never such a thing over the regular army, besides being a much smaller number before the enemy, and truly guilty of all the prosperous followings of Russia, as a matter of fact, the first soldier's test was here, and of course the people were encouraged, and the mother of the Poltava battle both with the encouragement of people and time, for by nine months time this happiness brought the baby ”. Nine months later, the battle of Poltava took place.

Here we come to the central event of the Northern War. But to describe briefly the course of the great battle is a thankless task, besides its circumstances are incomparably better known than those of other military clashes that took place at that time. Let us turn to our direct topic, specifically to the medal “For the Poltava Battle”.

It is known that many Russian commanders received valuable gifts for participating in this “business”, including portraits of the autocrat decorated with precious stones. On gold prints for officers "on the dignity of their ranks" also report some sources, for example, the above-mentioned "Journal of Peter the Great." Although no such medals have yet been discovered, no orders have been found to make them. Whether they were made at all is a mystery. But a sufficient amount of silver remained - for non-commissioned officers (non-commissioned officers) and privates.

They were awarded the lower ranks of the Transfiguration and Semenov regiments. Of the twenty pounds of silver in 1710, 4618 copies of the award were minted. On the obverse, Peter is depicted in a mantle and in a laurel wreath, the circular inscription reads: “PETER ALEZIEVICH ALL-RUSSIA SAMODERZHETS”. The reverse is decorated with the image of the battle (on cavalry medals - cavalry clash, on the soldiers' - infantry battle) and the words "FOR POLTAVA BATTLE".

How ordinary soldiers appreciated this award can be judged by the inscriptions added by the veterans without authorization to the edge (edge) of the medal. It seems like this: “This manta (a coin. - M.L.) L.P.P. (Life Guard Preobrazhensky Regiment. - M.L.) 6 companies sergeant Samson Zybina ".
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  1. avvg
    avvg 23 November 2015 09: 16
    It is gratifying that "Worthy-Worthy" has always been enough in Russia.
  2. The comment was deleted.
  3. taseka
    taseka 23 November 2015 09: 51
  4. ladomir
    ladomir 23 November 2015 20: 42
    Thanks to the author, it's interesting. I was interested in orders, medals somehow fell out of sight. And here - that's how it is))) The only pity is that the "video" is poor and you have to look for the image of medals yourself in the internet :(
    1. moskowit
      moskowit 23 November 2015 22: 21
      Take the encyclopedia of Alexander Kuznetsov. It presents almost all the medals of the Russian Empire.
  5. ladomir
    ladomir 24 November 2015 00: 07
    Thank! I look for an encyclopedia good
  6. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 24 November 2015 02: 41
    I liked the article. Thank you very much.