215 years ago, the Russian army suffered a heavy defeat near Narva. From this, conclusions are usually drawn about the backwardness of pre-Petrine Russia, the low combat capability of its army. This is not true. Under Alexei Mikhailovich, there was an excellent army in our country that was quite modern for its era — archer, soldier, dragoon, and reytar regiments. She trashed Poles, Swedes. Under Fyodor Alekseyevich, the Turks were strongly disheveled. But in the subsequent troubles, with the dominance of the temporary worker, the army really weakened. Salary was not paid, the soldiers ran away. It was these circumstances that caused rifle riots. Then the catastrophic Crimean campaigns of Golitsyn followed, tens of thousands of soldiers died, many deserted. The best warlords died or fell in disgraces.
True, Peter managed to pull up the troops, with them he won victories over the Turks, took Azov. But abroad he saw paramed parades in Prussia, Holland, Saxony, extremely impressed and found his army "wrong." And the four regiments of archers rebelled, and the king recognized all the regiments of Moscow archers as unreliable, disbanded them. Instead, they decided to create 29 new regiments - such as seen abroad. Beckoning to those who wanted, paid a high salary. The tramps, the ruined poor, rushed to record. And Peter ordered the boyars to dissolve the numerous courtyards. Left without a piece of bread servants, lackeys, psari, grooms, and they, too, rake in the army. Dress up in "German dress". King commanded his friends and officers recruited abroad. But who could he dial there? In Europe, the war for the Spanish inheritance was brewing, good officers without a job did not hang about.
Why the army was formed, it was already clear. Returning from abroad, Peter met with Augustus the Strong, the king of Poland and Saxony, who suggested in alliance with Denmark to fight with Sweden. Return output to the Baltic Sea, lost in the years of the Troubles, it was important, the king agreed. Although the new allies were by no means sincere. The representative of Augustus Patkul, who continued the negotiations, pointed out that it is necessary to impose on the king an obligation to "help his royal majesty with money and troops, especially infantry, who are very capable of working in trenches and dying under enemy shots, which will save his royal majesty's troops". In addition, it was planned by the treaties to “firmly tie the hands of a powerful ally,” to limit his claims to Ingermanlandia (the region near the Neva) and Karelia. To Peter satisfied with these wilds and swamps, in no case did not encroach on Livonia (Estonia and North Latvia).
True, Peter wanted to take Narva - it was a port, along the wide river Narove opened an outlet to the Baltic. At the time of Kievan Rus and during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, Narva belonged to the Russians. But the Allies did not intend to cede this city. They prepared in advance a cunning maneuver - allow the seizure of Narva, let the Russians distract the Swedes. But the affiliation of the city to the international court of England, Holland, Denmark and Brandenburg. They will confirm the city belongs to Livonia. Therefore, the king must give it to other owners. In general, the Russians were preparing the fate of "cannon fodder", and when they were dividing the fruits of victory, they intended to cheat.
In the autumn of 1699, the delegations that had come to Moscow agreed on the timing of the war. August planned to strike at Riga, and his experts calculated all factors (not only natural, but also astrological). According to their forecasts, it was necessary to approach Riga, when the Dvina freezes, on a moonless night, and at the same time, from Sunday to Monday. The best thing to do was set off in December 1699. But Peter still did not succumb to the entreaties. With Turkey, the world has not yet concluded, and the king refused to fight on two fronts. He promised to speak immediately after signing the contract with the Sultan. But the Swedish embassy that had arrived in Moscow had already been complained. When the king and the Great Embassy passed through Riga, Governor Dalberg met Peter coldly and rudely, even thought to arrest him. Now from Charles XII demanded an apology and punishment of the governor.
However, England and Holland entered the secret games. On the eve of the war for the Spanish inheritance, they sought to distract Sweden - the ally of their enemy, France. On the formation of a coalition of Augustus, Denmark and Russia, the British and the Dutch got wind of it. Took to push them to fight, portrayed friends. But they warned Charles XII that a war was being waged against him, they offered to help. At the beginning of 1700, Sweden, England and the Netherlands entered into an alliance. In Copenhagen, Warsaw and Moscow they did not suspect him ...
Meanwhile, the fighting began. Augustus hurried the Allies, but the Saxon army gathered slowly. Instead, December focused in February. Were thinking that the regiments of Augustus suddenly rushed to Riga. Townspeople and Livonian barons will rebel against the Swedes, and the city will be taken. But if the army advanced too slowly, then its king did not even show military fervor. Augustus is stuck in his capital, Dresden. Not in a hurry to leave the balls and theatrical performances and go somewhere in the field camp. Saxon Commander Flemming, by frivolity, turned out to be quite worthy of his monarch. A noble beauty turned him in Poland, at the crucial moment he suddenly left the army and left to celebrate his own wedding.
He left General Paykul for himself, but did not even take care of clear instructions. Paykul either did not know at all about the secret plans to take possession of Riga, or was frightened without the king and Flemming. Instead of a daring throw, I trampled near the borders. And the governor Dalberg learned, strengthened the defense. When the Saxons finally approached Riga, they saw the locked gates and guns. Livonia Opposition did not dare to speak. And for the siege, the Saxon artillery was weak. Its cores did not harm the powerful walls of Riga. Augustus went to the army, but again stuck on entertainment - now in Warsaw. Near Riga, he appeared only in June and found that he lacked money, gunpowder, and a soldier.
The Danes had their own plans. Before taking the throne in Copenhagen, King Frederick IV bore the title of duke Holstein-Gottorp. But this duchy depended on Sweden. Now the king fired up to win back a piece of land, led the 14-thousand army there. He went up to the fortress of Reneburg - and got stuck, unable to capture it. And Sweden was not idle. No one had ever suspected the leadership talents of 18-year-old Karl XII, but he dreamed of military glory. The Swedish army maintained the highest fighting qualities, it was considered the best in Europe. However, the situation here was far from ideal. A significant part of the armed forces was scattered around the garrisons of numerous fortresses and castles - in the Baltic States, Germany, Finland. There was not enough money in the treasury. The quartermaster could not provide in the right quantities of guns, gunpowder, uniforms. Shelves were incomplete. In the Swedish army, as in other European armies, "dead souls" were very common, at their expense officers corrected matters.
But the young king steeply brought order. Fraud stopped in the most severe way, no one wanted to hang out on the gallows. French Louis XIV sent major subsidies to the Allies. But the Dutch and the British forked: please fight. Moreover, in July 1700, they sent a combined fleet to Charles XII. The Swedes were able in one fell swoop to load 10 thousands of soldiers onto the decks Danish Frederic was still sticking up near Rebenburg and suddenly found out that an armada of ships had approached Copenhagen. The Swedish fleet, along with the English, opened fire on the city. And Charles XII landed an army and sent a warning to Frederick - he is ready to resume the bombardment and storm. Danish king asked for mercy. Negotiations ended quickly. Denmark vowed not to disturb the world, paid 290 thousands of contributions thalers. She got off easily, without losing territories. Because the mediators were the same England and Holland. And Denmark had to pay for their intercession. In the upcoming war with the French, Frederick undertook to act on their side. Well, Sweden, the British and the Dutch have re-targeted to the east.
Only 8 of August was brought to Moscow on the signing of peace with Turkey. Ironically, on the same day Denmark capitulated, but the Russians did not know that. The pretext for war with Sweden already existed. Just on the eve of Charles XII sent a response to the claims of the king. The letter was sustained in sharp and defiant tones, the king stated that Dalberg acted correctly, and the Russians did not deserve any apologies or satisfaction. 19 August Peter declared war on Sweden, went to Narva.
But 26-he received alarming reports - Denmark fell, Karl XII intends to transfer the army to Estland. Nevertheless, the sovereign continued the march. After all, Augustus was standing near Riga, calling for help! And Peter will strike on the other flank, on Narva. The fortress was very strong, but the garrison numbered only 1,5 thousands of soldiers and 400 militias. And the royal army was supposed to make 63 thousands of warriors! They carried 184 guns, 12 thousands of pounds of gunpowder. A convoy of ammunition and food totaled 10 thousand carts. It seemed that taking the city was not difficult. After that, the Swedish army will be against two opponents. Is Karl stand? But the march was disgusting. Shelves were sent on the same roads. They were scored solid columns, stretched. Watered rain, artillery and wagon trains stuck. Some parts approached the border, others were just leaving Moscow. And the third were dragged from the Volga region, from Ukraine.
Although at the same time, Augustus judged that it was better not to collide with Charles XII. Retreated from Riga. Only the Russians stepped forward - and it turned out that they were being put under attack. Peter avant-garde reached Narva on September 22. Began to dig trenches, build batteries. However, the guns were brought only in a month, the bombardment opened on October 20. Moreover, the calibers of the guns turned out to be insufficient, and the powder was bad. Bombs fell shortly, cores could not break through the masonry walls. Tried to increase the charges, but tore the guns. Yes, and the powder was spent too quickly. They fired two weeks almost to no avail, and then the powder ran out. Gypsy somewhere stuck in the autumn thaw. The soldiers were starving, wet and cold in the trenches, the disease began.
A part of the troops also got stuck, less than half of the army gathered near Narva, about 30 of thousands of soldiers. And only a few units had combat experience. Most of them consisted of recruits. Of the very household slaves and vagrants, whom the king scored in the new shelves. They managed to learn only the simplest drill techniques, did not understand the teams of foreign officers. And the commanders did not shine talents. Narva was surrounded by a solid line of trenches, with two ends the arc rested against the river. But they counted on the 60 of thousands of fighters, and there were half as many! And the arc, according to the terrain conditions, turned out to be too wide. Army stretched into a narrow line.
Well, Charles XII arrived in Estonia even before Peter opened the bombing of the city. But the Swedes have enough lining. They poorly organized shipping: interfered with autumn storms. With Charles there were only a couple of regiments of the guard, he was waiting for the rest of the contingents. Upon learning of the appearance of the king, Peter singled out the Sheremetev corps of five thousand noble cavalry, sent him to Revel and Pernov (Pärnu) - to cover the army, conduct reconnaissance. Sheremetev passed on 120 versts and collided with Swedish reconnaissance units. The enemy was immediately routed, they took prisoners. They tried to intimidate the Russians that Karl 50 had thousands of troops. The real number was 18 thousand. Everything else, the king is very risky divided them into several buildings. One sent south to hide behind from Augustus. Another emerged under Pskov. The third moved on Sheremetev.
And the noble cavalry fell into uncomfortable conditions for action. Forests, swamps. Sheremetev chose a more or less suitable place for parking, blocked the road to Narva, put forward advanced posts. But the Swedes, with the help of local guides, walked around the guards along the forest paths. At night, they set fire to the villages where the outposts stood, and killed them. Sheremetev was worried, as if he, too, was not spared, was not cut off from the main forces. He ordered to hang out closer to Narva. I picked up a position where I could defend myself and repair the “craft.”
The king accused him of cowardice, ordered to return. Sheremetev reported that there was no housing and horse feed in the same place, the villages were burned. However, Peter insisted - to perform. The cavalry returned to the ravaged camps, Sheremetev had to send her around the neighborhood, to extract fodder. And it was then that Karl fell upon him with the main core of the army. The Swedes attacked the party of foragers, bypassing Sheremetev himself - he had only the 600 fighters on hand. Still, he escaped death. Gathering along the way subordinates slipped out.
18 November his riders rushed to Narva, reported - Carl is coming! But ... the king was not caught. He left only four hours earlier. No, Peter did not chickened out, as the Swedes scoffed. He was a very brave man. He simply did not know that the danger was so close. I went to Novgorod to hurry the backward troops and carts. I intended to contact Augustus. Insist that the Saxons resumed the offensive. Together it was so tempting to clamp Carl in ticks!
Command of the army the king handed over to the Duke Croa de Cruy. In the war with the Turks, he stupidly killed the Austrian troops near Belgrade. He was fired, but his acquaintances at the Viennese court provided him with a brilliant description, so the king took such a commander. Near Narva, he acted no better. I decided to defend myself in the same positions where the shelves around the city stood. There were trenches, palisades. But they stretched for seven miles! Sheremetev offered to meet, to attack. Yes, where there! Experienced foreigners shoal version of the Russian commander.
The soldiers stood idle. They were pierced by a cold wind with rain, the “German” uniforms warmed badly. Hour by hour, stiffened, their guns were clasped with numb hands. Although Karl had only 12 thousand people. But he gathered the soldiers together, built a dense wedge. The inaction of the tsarist army gave the king a full initiative. Break wherever you want! First, Karl ordered the cannon to roll out, open fire. He hoped to lure the royal regiments from a fortified position. It did not succeed, but the weather played along. The cold wind brought snow, a blizzard whipped right into the face of the Russians. Nothing became visible.
The Swedes got close, showered the trench with fascines, and their formation fell out of the snowy whirlwind. Liquid Russian ranks broke. Nothing was lost yet. It was enough to lean on both sides, and the enemies would be crushed. But foreign mercenaries immediately identified a different way out. Croa de Cruy found that the Swedes were victorious, but did not want to justify themselves to the king. He gathered his headquarters and went to Carl - to surrender. Not only that, sent messengers with the order of the army: folded weapon.
This caused an effect no less catastrophic than the Swedish attack. It went on the shelves: "The Germans have changed!" Among the frozen, hungry, exhausted soldiers, panic rose. They poured on the pontoon bridge over Narova, the bridge collapsed under the weight and pressure of the crowd. Sheremetev's cavalry stood on the far left flank, far from the bridge. Weide fell on her weight run division Weide. The cavalry turned and began to sail. However, the case Sheremetev managed to cross the river in a relative order. From childhood, Russian nobles learned to swim water obstacles with horses. Swam and now. But the soldiers rushing after them were drowning.
The Swedes only broke into the center of battle formations. On the right flank of Preobrazhensky, Semenovsky and Lefortov, the regiments gathered the recruits of the Golovin division, surrounded their location with carts, bristled with guns and cannons. The Swedes rushed at them several times and rolled away, covering the approaches with corpses. And on the left flank, in the Weide division, the officers somehow calmed down the panic. The soldiers were built in a square, the Swedes rejected with fire and bayonets. But these two centers did not have a connection with each other. Did not represent the overall situation, the number of the enemy. The remaining generals, Yakov Dolgorukov, Avton Golovin, and the Georgian prince Alexander, decided to enter into negotiations with the enemy.
And in fact, Karl was extremely worried that the Russians would get to the bones: there were few Swedes. His soldiers robbed the Russian camp, many got drunk. Suddenly surrounded Russian groups will strike? Or will the king come up with fresh powers? When they reported to the king: the tsarist generals offered a truce, he sighed with relief, immediately agreed. Took very mild conditions. The Russians were given the right to freely leave with weapons, banners, leaving only the artillery to the winner. Dolgorukov and his colleagues are quite happy that they manage to get out relatively easily.
The bridge was repaired at night, and in the morning the Russian army came out. But the Swedes mean cheated. Only Preobrazhentsi, Semenovtsev, Lefortovets were freely passed across the river. They walked confidently, cheerfully, they chose not to hurt. But when the loose shelves of recruits stretched, they attacked. They robbed, took away weapons, even clothes. And the Russian generals and officers who were in the king’s headquarters, contrary to the agreements, were held captive.
The remnants of the army saved Sheremetev. He collected demoralized and freezing soldiers, organized a planned withdrawal. The 6 of thousands of our soldiers were killed near Narva, all artillery, 184 guns were lost. But no less offensive was the moral "confusion." Karl in one fell swoop crushed the royal army! Swedish propaganda also downplayed its own forces. Enemies wrote that they were not 12, but eight thousand (and were silent that three thousand died). All of Europe spoke of the "shame of Narva": Russian "barbarians" do not know how to fight at all.
Although the situation soon began to change. The first victories over the Swedes were scored by Sheremetev, and with the “worst” troops — the cavalry of the nobility, the Cossacks, the Kalmyks, the Saratov and Pskov archers. And why don't they win? They did not test the Swedes before the Swedes, their ancestors successfully beat the same enemy, they beat them now. Karl XII and his generals “taught to fight” non-Russians. The king himself had to learn. The old regiments were transferred from the southern borders against the Swedes. The army began to collect the disbanded archers. Capable Russian commanders were put forward. In 1704, Narva was taken after all. But ... in the West, this seemed not to be noticed. They continued to memorize the "shame of Narva". It took only a victory at Poltava, so that Europe would falter in a daze and come to the conclusion: the attitude towards Russia should be revised.