Russian Guard Infantry & Cavalry : Napoleonic Wars : Uniforms : Organization Russian flag from Russian flag from
Russian Imperial Guard
of the Napoleonic Wars


"There is, however, a wide difference between the staple of the Russian army and the Tsar's Guards. The latter are very select, both cavalry and infantry, nothing indeed, can be superior. The grenadiers are generally very tall men. The cuirassiers are equally large and stout.
The discipline and well-dressed state of these men are very imposing."
- General Sir Charles Stewart

1. Introduction.
2. Guard Infantry.
3. Guard Cavalry.
4. Guard Artillery.
5. Decline of the Guard
- - after the Napoleonic Wars.

"... there cannot be a nobler corps,
or one of more warlike description,
and the simplicity of the dress
gives to the man the full character
of his figure and mien."
- General Sir Robert Wilson

"It is impossible by any description
to give an exaggerated idea of
the perfect state of these troops;
their appearance and equipment
were admirable."
- General Sir Charles Stewart, 1814

"The reinforcements which have joined
the Russian Guard are very fine,
and I have never seen these regiments
appear in so great force, or in better
condition, at any period of the campaign."
- Lord Cathcart, January 1814

Picture: in Austerlitz in 1805, the Lifeguard Horse captured
Eagle of the French 4th Line Infantry. Picture by Mazurovski.

The Lifeguard Horse mauled French 24th Light Infantry.
Colonel Pourailly inexplicably ordered the 24th to deploy
both battalions in line despite the presence of cavalry.
The Lifeguard Horse struck the French on their left,
while the Lifeguard Hussars attacked their right.
The French broke and fled, abandoning their Eagle that,
unseen, was trampled under the hooves and feet.
The fleeing men passed through Napoleon's Headquarters
in their panic flight. De Segur wrote: "The unfortunate
fellows were quite distracted with fear and could listen
to nothing; ... they shouted mechanically 'Vive l'Empereur !'
while they fled faster than ever." (Austerlitz 1805)

"The Prussians are excellent troops,
but after seeing the Russian foot guard
I cannot look at them."
- Eyewitness in 1814

The Imperial Guard.
"... a sight too magnificent to be described !"
- Burgersh in 1814

Officer of Preobrazhensk 
Lifeguard Regiment 
in 1802-1807 Guard's prestige came from their position of being the monarch's guard. Decades before the Napoleonic Wars the Russian Guard served political functions, prepared nobles to officer rank and provided officers to the army. The Guard was less and less participating in combat and no guard regiments as such participated in the bloody Seven Years War against the Prussians. They became very comfortable in St. Petersburg where they were stationed.

Although not all the guardsmen were nobles, the rest of the army couldn't compare to them in social tone. With a membership composed in large part of the blue-blooded sons of the best families, the well-tailored white and green uniforms, were a frequent sight at parades and celebrations. The life of private in the guard was more comfortable than officer's in the army. They were seen outfitted for sentry duty accompanied by servants bearing their masters' weapons.

The Guard received the best uniforms, the best weapons and the best recruits and officers. Londonderry wrote: "... a wide difference between the staple of the Russian Army and the Tzar's Guards. The latter are very select, nothing, indeed can be superior. The grenadiers of the guard are generally very tall men, the discipline and well-dressed state of these men are very imposing."

The 'mad' Tsar Paul disliked the Guard and made several changes. He imposed discipline and accountability on commanders. Paul also got rid of officers not on active duty. The Guard had to learn the Prussian drill, considered as the best in Europe. These changes made him strongly unpopular in influential military circles. This is not very surprising that in his murder were involved officers of the Guard.

Son of Tsar Paul, Alexander, took the Guard into the field. They participated in every major campaign and became excellent troops. The Russian Guard had in common several features: discipline, confidence and a desire to excel in combat. Their endurance became equaly impressive.

In 1805-1807 the privates of Guard were equal to NCOs in army regiments.
Distinguished NCOs of the Guard were transferred to line regiments as officers.

The Guard had no problems with attracting the volunteers. The officers were drawn from the nobility and were 2 ranks above the army officers. They were notable for their education, good manners and were the focal point of the balls and every other kind of society. There were many officers who had been enlisted in Guard regiments as children and reached high rank without gaining much experience. (Goetz - "1805: Austerlitz" p 38)
In 1808 the Tzar issued statement that he will not be bothered by numerous young nobles appearing before Him wishing to be registered into the Guard but who could not show an attestation from the director of the First Cadet Corps that they were qualified to be accepted.

In 1807 Napoleon reviewed 
Russian Guard Picture: --> in 1807, during signing the Peace Treaty in Tilsit, Napoleon was invited to review the Russian Guard. The treaty ended war between Russia and France and began an alliance between the two empires which rendered the rest of Europe almost powerless.
After the treaty was signed the French and Russian guardsmen met at the tables. "The [French] engineers had built a large wooden hut in which the officers of the [French] Guard were to feast their erstwhile opponents.
On the 30th the sun shone briliantly in a cloudless sky. In a well-chosen meadow, a cannon-shot from the town, planks nailed to trestles formed picninc tables for the 'brotherly feast', arranged around a square in which the band would play.
The meal consisted of soup, beef, mutton, pork, goose and chicken.
To drink: beer, brandy in barrels at the ends of the tables.
Russian and French Guard
at the table for the
brotherly feast. The Guards ate standing.
The Russians, initially suspicious and awkward, were reassured by the French. Coignet has left a detailed account of this feast, and although he may have exaggerated some details, he did so inadvertently, having written his memoirs more than 30 years after leaving the service and one can understand that this was in no way a formal banquet. 'These hungry men [the Russians] could not restrain themselves: they knew nothing of the reserve which one should exhibit at table. They were given brandy to drink, which was the drink of the meal and, before offering them a glass, it was proper to drink and then to pass them a goblet in white metal containing a quarter of a litre. The contents immediately disappeared; they swallowed a morsel of meat as large as an egg with each swig. They were quickly uncomfortable and by signs, invited us to unbutton, as they were doing. We saw that, in order to exagerrate their manly chests, they were swathed in cloth, which we were disgusted to see them discard." ( Georges Blond - "La Grande Armee" p 158)

Organization of the Guard in Austerlitz, Borodino and Leipzig.
GUARD - Grand Duke Constantine

Guard Infantry Division - GL Malutin
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Leontii Depreradovich-I
- - - - - - - - Preobrazhensk Lifeguard Regiment [2 btns.]
- - - - - - - - Semenovsk Lifeguard Regiment [2 btns.]
- - - - 2nd Brigade - GM Vasilii Lobanov
- - - - - - - - Izmailovsk Lifeguard Regiment [2 btns.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Jägers [1 btn.]
- - - - - - - - Life Grenadier Regiment [3 btns.]

- - - - Lifeguard Artillery Battalion - GM Ivan Kasperski
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Heavy Battery [12 guns]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Horse Battery [10 ? guns]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Light Battery
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Light Battery

Guard Cavalry Division - GL Andrei Kologrivov
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Ivan Jankovich
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Cossack Regiment [5 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Hussar Regiment [5 sq.]
- - - - 2nd Brigade - GM Depreradovich-II [picture]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Horse Regiment [5 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Guard Cavalry Regiment [5]

For more info
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GUARD - Grand Duke Constantine
[Not present in battle.]

Guard Infantry Division - GL Lavrov
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Baron Rosen-I
- - - - - - - - Preobrazhensk Lifeguard Regiment [3 btns.]
- - - - - - - - Semenovsk Lifeguard Regiment [3 btns.]
- - - - 2nd Brigade - Col. Hrapovitzki
- - - - - - - - Izmailovsk Lifeguard Regiment [3 btns.]
- - - - - - - - Lithuanian Lifeguard Regiment [3 btns.]
- - - - 3rd Brigade - Col. Baron Bistrom [picture]
- - - - - - - - Finnish Lifeguard Regiment [3 btns.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Jäger Regiment [3 btns.]
- - - - Lifeguard Artillery Brigade
- - - - - - - - Graf Arakcheiev's Heavy Battery [12]
- - - - - - - - I Lifeguard Heavy Battery [12]
- - - - - - - - I Lifeguard Light Battery [12]
- - - - - - - - II Lifeguard Light Battery [12]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Equipage [2 guns]
1st Cuirassier Division - GM Borozdin-II [picture]
[Depreradovich fell ill, was not present in battle.] [picture]
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Shevich
- - - - - - - - Guard Cavalry Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Horse Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - 2nd Brigade - GM Borosdin-II [picture]
- - - - - - - - His Majesty Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Her Majesty Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Astrakhan Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - Lifeguard Horse Artillery - Col. Kozen
- - - - - - - - I Lifeguard Horse Battery [12]
- - - - - - - - II Lifeguard Horse Battery [12]
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Chalikov
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Dragoon Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - 2nd Brigade - GM Orlov-Denisov
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Hussar Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Cossack Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - 3rd Cavalry Brigade - GM Vsevolozhski
- - - - - - - - one dragoon and one hussar regiment

GUARD - Grand Duke Constantine

1st Guard Infantry Division - GM Rosen
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Prince Potemkin
- - - - - - - - Preobrazhensk Lifeguard Regiment [3 btns.] - Old Guard
- - - - - - - - Semenovsk Lifeguard Regiment [3 btns.] - Old Guard
- - - - 2nd Brigade - GM Baron Bistrom [picture]
- - - - - - - - Izmailovsk Lifeguard Regiment [2 btns.] - Old Guard
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Jägers Regiment [2 btns.] - Old Guard
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Marines [1/2 btn.]
2nd Guard Infantry Division - GM Udom
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Kryzhanovski
- - - - - - - - Lithuania Lifeguard Regiment [2 btns.] - Old Guard
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment [2 btns.] - Young Guard
- - - - 2nd Brigade - GM Scheltuchin-II
- - - - - - - - Finnish Lifeguard Regiment [2 btns.] - Old Guard
- - - - - - - - Pavlovsk Grenadier Regiment [2 btns.] - Young Guard
Artillery Reserve
- - - - - - - - II Lifeguard ? Heavy Battery [12 guns]
- - - - - - - - I Lifeguard Light Battery [12 guns]
- - - - - - - - II Lifeguard Light Battery [12 guns]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Sappers [1 btn.]

1st Cuirassier Division - GL Depreradovich [picture]
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Arseniev [picture]
- - - - - - - - Guard Cavalry Regiment [6 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Horse Regiment [6 sq.]
- - - - 2nd Brigade -
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Tzarina's Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
2nd Cuirassier Division - GL Kretov
3rd Cuirassier Division - GL Duka

Guard Light Cavalry Division - GL Shevich
- - - - 1st Brigade - GM Chalikov
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Dragoon Regiment [6 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment [6 sq.]
- - - - 2nd Brigade -
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Hussar Regiment [6 sq.]
- - - - - - - - Lifeguard Cossack Regiment [5]
- - - - - - - - Black Sea Cossacks [1]
Artillery Reserve
- - - - - - - - I Lifeguard Horse Battery [12 guns]
- - - - - - - - II Lifeguard Horse Battery [12 guns]
- - - - - - - - Horse Battery [12 guns]

Grand Duke Constantine. Commander of Imperial Guard Grand Duke Constantine (1779-1831).
Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovich was Tsar's brother, commander of Imperial Guard, and the Inspector of Cavalry. He was prepared by his grandmother, Catherine the Great, to become an emperor of Russia, but he never tried to secure the throne. After his father's death he led a wild and disorderly bachelor life. Constantine's first campaign took place in Italy under the leadership of the legendary Suvorov. He distinguished himself by personal bravery and nothing else. Constantine led the Guards in Austerlitz and was defeated by the French. After Austerlitz neither his skill nor his fortune in war showed any improvement. After the peace of Tilsit (1807) he became an ardent admirer of Napoleon and an upholder of the Russo-French alliance. During Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, the commander in chief of Russian army, Barclay de Tolly, was twice obliged to send him away from the army due to his disorderly conduct. In Paris in 1814 Constantine excited public ridicule by the manifestation of his petty military fads. His first visit was to the stables, and it was said that he had been marching and drilling even in his private rooms.
Constantine was obsessed with drill and uniforms.

GL Nikolai Depreradovich Picture: General-Lieutenant Nikolai Depreradovich (1767-1843).
Depreradovich came from Serbian nobles. 1774 - entered service in Russian light cavalry. 1798 - colonel of Lifeguard Hussars. 1803 - general major and commander of Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde). 1805 - commander of 2nd Guard Cavalry Brigade [Guard Cavalry Regiment, and Lifeguard Horse Regiment]. In 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813 - commander of 1st Cuirassier Division, the flower of Russian cavalry. In 1813 Depreradovich distinguished himself in Kulm and was promoted to the rank of general-lieutenant. In Leipzig commanded the 1st Cuirassier Division.

GM Nikolai Borozdin Picture: General-Lieutenant Nikolai Borozdin (1782-1830).
1782 - private in Lifeguard Preobrazhensk Infantry Regiment, in 1784 - sergeant.
March 1784 - in Lifeguard Horse Regiment (Garde du Corps, Garde zu Pferde), in 1794 - kornet.
1796 - in His Majesty Cuirassier Regiment. 1797 - in Lifeguard Horse Regiment. 1800 - colonel.
In May 1807 - general major. In 1811 - chef of Astrakhan Cuirassier Regiment.
In Borodino in 1812 commanded the splendid 2nd Cuirassier Brigade of 1st Cuirassier Division. Additionally Borozdin had command over the rest of the 1st Cuirassier Division, as General Depreradovich, its commander, fell ill before the battle. Borozdin's cuirassiers were involved in one of the heaviest cavalry battles of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1813 Borozdin distinguished himself in Katzbach. In September 1813 - general lieutenant. In Leipzig in 1813 Borozdin commanded a cavalry corps [four dragoon, two Cossack and one Kalmuck regiment].

GM Mikhail Arseniev Picture: General-Major Mikhail Arseniev (1779-1838).
1796 - private in Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde).
1799 - kornet in Lifeguard Horse Regiment (Garde du Corps, Garde zu Pferde). 1807 - colonel.
In 1812 commanded the Lifeguard Horse Regiment, in Borodino was wounded by canister.
In December 1812 - general major. In Leipizgin 1813 he commanded the most elite unit of Russian cavalry, the 1st Brigade of 1st Cuirassier Division [Guard Cavalry Regiment, Lifeguard Horse Regiment]. His brigade distinguished itself in Fere Champenoise in 1814.

GM Karl Bistrom Picture: General-Major Karl Bistrom (1770-1838).
1784 - private in Lifeguard Izmailovsk Infantry Regiment. 1787 - captain in Neva Infantry Regiment. 1805 - colonel. Between March 1805 and Sept 1807 commander of 20th Jager Regiment. At Pultusk he was wounded in left leg, at Eylau in left shoulder, at Guttstadt in right cheek. 1809 - commander of Lifeguard Jager Regiment. In Borodino in 1812 commanded the Lifeguard Jagers, defended Borodino itself. In the end of 1812 - general major. In the battle of Krasne Bistrom's Lifeguard Jagers captured 9 guns and Marshal Davout's ( marshal baton. In Leipizg in 1813 Karl Bistrom commanded 2nd Guard Brigade [Lifeguard Jager Regiment, Lifeguard Izmailovsk Regiment].


"I was surprised at the precision and assurance of this infantry,
so well disciplined and of such extraordinary firmness would be
the first in the world if, to these qualities, it united a little of the
electric enthusiasm of the French."
- Napoleon

Guard Infantry.
After the battle of Kulm the Austrian Emperor
was so impressed with the tenacity of the Guard
that he ordered to build a monument to salute them.

The privates of Guard infantry were strong, handsome and tall men. In 1806 -1807 the minimum height requirement for guardsmen was 171 cm, while for the recruits entering the army infantry only 155 cm.

In 1800 the Guard infantry comprised of:
- Preobrashensk Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment [4 battalions]
- Semenovsk Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment [3 battalions]
- Ismailovsk Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment [3 battalions]
- Lifeguard Jägers [1 battalion]

The Guard infantry was more preoccupied with parades and power struggle in St. Petersburg than with glory on the battlefield. It all changed in 1805. In the battle of Austerlitz the Guard infantry was defeated but it managed to withdraw in relatively good order, in contrast to the panick stricken Russian-Austrian army.

In 1806 was raised Lifeguard Jäger Regiment [2 battalions] from:
- Lifeguard Jager Battalion
- detachment of Semenovsk Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment
- detachment of Ismailovsk Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment
- "Gatchina Company"

In early June 1807 the Guard infantry took part in combats near Gutschadt and Altkirchen. Most of the Guard units were present at Heilsberg. On 14th June 1807 the Guard took part in the battle of Friedland.

In 1808 was raised Guard Militia Battalion. It was formed from peasants of Tsar's estates.

Several battalions of Guard infantry participated in the war with Sweden in 1809.

In 1811 was formed the Lifeguard Finnish Regiment.

In February 1811 the Preobrazhensk, Semenovsk and Ismailovsk Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment changed their organization; each battalion now comprised of 1 grenadier and 3 fusilier companies. All companies however still wore red shoulder straps and tall black plumes of grenadiers.
In that year was raised the Lithuanian Lifeguard Regiment.
"In 1811 the Finland Guard Regeiment became a light regiment."
(Nafziger - "Napoleon's Invasion of Russia" p 79, 1998)

In March 1811 was ordered that every year each grenadier regiment has to send to St. Petersburg the smartest and most knowledgeable men with good character (4 grenadiers and 2 strelki per grenadier regiment) chosen from their veterans.

In 1812 the Guard infantry comprised of:
- Preobrashensk Lifeguard Infantry Regiment
- Semenovsk Lifeguard Infantry Regiment
- Ismailovsk Lifeguard Infantry Regiment
- Lifeguard Jägers Regiment
- Lithuanian Lifeguard Infantry Regiment
- Finnish Lifeguard Infantry Regiment

In 1812 the Guard infantrymen covered themselves with glory. French officer witnessed the Russian Guard infantry in Borodino "...emerged into the open terrain, our canister knocked them down, but these brave warriors let nothing bother them and continued to come at us as before." (Pelet - "Memoirs sur les Guerres de Napoleon
Depuis 1796 Jusqu'en 1815" p 247
"The French blasted canister at us and then their cuirassiers charged. Our battalions were formed in squares, and they surrounded us on all sides. We allowed them to come closer and then fired at 50 paces, killing and wounding many of them. We shouted Urrahhh! and charged the cavalry with bayonets. The [French] cuirassiers fled." (- an officer of Lithuanian Lifeguard Regiment)
Kutusov praised them highly in his report: "The Ismailovsk and Lithuania [Lifeguard] Regiments covered themselves with glory in full view of the whole army." After the battle they were awarded with St. George's Color.

In the battle of Krasne, in 1812, the Lifeguard Jager Regiment captured hundreds of prisoners and 2 French flags.

Guard infantry in Borodino in 1812.
"The French cavalry again resumed its charges
but was repulsed by the crossfire of these 2 battalions.
The cavalry did not dare to harass our battalions ever since
and only observed us from a distance.
The French artillery, however, inflicted horrible casualties on us."
"The enemy fire destroyed our ranks, but failed to produce
any disorder among the men."

Lithuanian Lifeguard Regiment 
in the battle of Borodino.
Picture by Chagadayev, Russia. Picture: Lithuanian Lifeguard Regiment versus French cuirassiers in the battle of Borodino in 1812. Picture by Chagadayev, Russia.

The Guard infantry had epic performance at Borodino, suffering hideously from artillery fire and charging with bayonets against cavalry. This is what one of their officers wrote after battle: “Arriving there, we fully experienced the severity of the enemy canister fire. … Colonel Hrapovitsky, who remained in front of the troops, ordered the [three battalion] columns to deploy en echeque. … the enemy, trying in vain to defeat our regiment, increased the artillery fire, and although it devastated our ranks, it failed to produce any disorder among the men… Soon, the enemy cavalry appeared to the right from us and forced the I Battalion to leave its position in en echeque and line up with the columns of the II and III Battalions. At the same time, Colonel Hrapovitsky ordered columns to form squares against the cavalry.
The enemy cuirassiers made a vigorous attack but quickly paid a heavy price for their audacity. All squares, acting with firmness, opened fire and delivered battalion volleys from the lateral faces. The enemy's armour proved to be a weak defence against our fire and added no courage to them. The cavalrymen quickly showed us their backs and fled in disorder. A fresh cavalry made of horse grenadiers [carabiniers ?] tried to remedy the failure of the attack but was received in the same manner, and fled back in shame.
Around 12 p.m. our gallant commander Colonel Hrapovitsky was wounded in the thigh and ankle by canister … Shortly before that Colonel Kozlyaninov, the acting commander of the regiment, was also wounded by canister. … After the enemy cavalry was repelled, the enemy resumed artillery fire and his canister showered our immobile columns. On General Konovnitzin's order, Colonel Musin-Pushkin dispatched the III Battalion to occupy the heights to the left. Led by Captain Martynov, the III Battalion captured these heights and sent out skirmishers. Captain Martynov was wounded and his successor Staff Captain Katenin, received order from General Vasilchikov, to make an oblique movement forward and march to cover a battery deployed on battalion’s right flank, about 200 paces away.
The enemy artillery fire, which was directed at that battery, did not prevent our column from accomplishing this mission in complete order. While the III Battalion was accomplishing these feats, General Konovnitsyn, remaining with us and sharing the same dangers, ordered to have the columns of the I and II Battalions deployed in oblique … and then formed squares against cavalry. The French cavalry again resumed its charges but was repulsed by the crossfire of these two battalions. The cavalry did not dare to harass our battalions ever since and only observed us from a distance. The French artillery, however, inflicted horrible casualties on us, but the approaching enemy skirmishers were driven back on multiple occasions. Around 5 p.m. Colonel Musin-Pushkin was wounded in the chest and I assumed the command of both the regiment and brigade." (- Colonel Alexander Kutuzov to Lavrov, 1 [13] September 1812)
“… the Lifeguard Lithuanian Regiment was sent to the Second Western Army of General of Infantry Prince Bagration near the village [of Semeyonovskoie] … On regiment's arrival to this site, the enemy made a strong attack on our battery and, upon being informed by Artillery Colonel Taube, I led the II Battalion of the regiment and drove the enemy back, which, however, was soon reinforced and compelled our entire line to retreat for 50 paces. The enemy showered us with cannonballs and canister and attacked with cavalry. My three battalions were arranged in squares awaiting cavalry and despite being surrounded by a superior enemy, they met him gallantly.
They allowed the French [cavalry] to approach to close range before delivering a battalion volley, and, yelling 'Hurrah!'; they drove the enemy, inflicting heavy losses. Our soldiers were so incensed that no prisoners were taken. We lost no wounded on that occasion. The enemy … made a second attack on the regiment, but was met with equal courage and fled to the right, while the height was occupied by the enemy skirmishers. To counter them, I dispatched … the II Battalion to drive the enemy back and capture the heights. Although this was accomplished with considerable success, the enemy was reinforced with several columns in this direction and supported the skirmishers, which made it impossible for my regiment to capture the heights. … I was wounded in the right hand by a bullet. So the regiment was left in the hands of Lt. Col. Schwartz, … [he] charged with the I Battalion to the mentioned heights and, having sent out skirmishers, he captured it. Both sides suffered heavy casualties ... The enemy, meantime, was reinforced again. My regiment had lost too many people by now and on the order of General Vasilchikov … the regiment retreated, fighting back, to the woods, where it dispatched skirmishers for cover and then joined a battalion of the Lifeguard Izmailovsk Regiment. … In this battle, the regiment had 143 NCOs, 53 musicians, 1,543 privates, 1 non-combatant. The regiment lost up to 400 killed and about 443 wounded, with 130 missing in action. “ (- Udom to Lavrov, 31 August [12 Sept] 1812 Borodino)
Kutusov wrote in his report after Borodino: "The Izmailovsk and the Lithuanian Regiments covered themselves with glory in full view of the whole army." Colonel of this unit, after losing 777 men, wrote: "The enemy fire destroyed our ranks, but failed to produce any disorder among the men. The lines simply closed up again and maintained discipline as coolly as if they had been on a musketry exercise." After Borodino they were awarded with St. George's Color.

In April 1813 the Life Grenadier Regiment was admitted into the guard and renamed to Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment. Also the famous Pavlovsk Grenadier Regiment was admitted into the guard.

In 1813 the Guard consisted of the following troops:
- Preobrazhensk Lifeguard Infantry Regiment status of Old Guard
- Semenovsk Lifeguard Infantry Regiment status of Old Guard
- Ismailovsk Lifeguard Infantry Regiment status of Old Guard
- Lithuanian Lifeguard Infantry Regiment status of Old Guard
- Finnish Lifeguard Infantry Regiment status of Old Guard
- Lifeguard Jager Regiment status of Old Guard
- Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment status of Young or New Guard
- Pavlovsk Lifeguard Grenadier Regiment status of Young or New Guard

There were also three smaller units:
- Guard Marine Battalion was formed from the Equipage of the Guard Battalion. They were classified and uniformed like jägers, in contrast to the line marine regiments classified as line infantry.
- Guard Sapper Battalion was classified as jägers, although they wore white leather carbine and pouch belts and white trousers in winter like the line infantry. To make things more complicated their shako cords and shoulder straps were these of heavy infantry and gunners, red.
- Grand Duchess Catherine's Guard Grenadier Battalion was formed in 1813 (?) and fought at Leipzig alongside the line regiments, not with the guard.

The campaigns in 1813 and 1814 were glory time for the Guard. They fought well in Leipzig and Kulm. After the battle of Kulm the Austrian Emperor was so impressed with their tenacity that he ordered to build a monument to salute them.

In 1814 the Guard infantry was present in the battle of Paris and afterwards set their tents around Napoleon's Palace of Tuilleries. In August 1818, the Guard had the 25-year term of service shortened by 3 years in recognition of their special service duties and their deeds during the Napoleonic wars.

Chefs and colonels.
RANKS: GL - Gieneral-Leitnant, GM - Gieneral-Major, Plk. - Polkovnik (Colonel)
Pplk. - Podpolkovnik (Lieutenant-Colonel), Mjr. - Major

Chef (Shef)
Colonel (Polkovnik)
Lifeguard Preobrazhensk
Leib-gvardii Preobrazhenskii
Tsar Alexander 1803-1807 GL Graf Petr Tolstoi
1807-1810 GM Mihail Kozlovski-I
18010-1812 Plk. Baron Egor Drizen
1812-1820 GM (GL in 1813) Baron Grigorii Rosen-II
Lifeguard Semenovsk
Leib-gvardii Semenovskii
1802-1808 GM Nikolai Zubov
1808-1815 Plk. Meshcheriakov
1804-1806 Mjr. Petr Strashnikov
1811-1815 Pplk. Petr Loeble
Lifeguard Izmailovsk
Leib-gvardii Izmailovskii
Grand Duke Nikolai 1799-1808 GL Petr Malutin
1808-1811 GM Pavel Bashutzki
1811-1818 Plk. (GM in 1812) Matvei Hrapovitzki
Lifeguard Jägers
Leib-gvardii Yegerskii
1806-1812 GL Prince Petr Bagration
1813-1830 Grand Duke Constantine
1806-1809 Plk. Graf Emmanuel de St.Priest-I
1809-1821 Plk. (GM in 1812) Karl Bistrom
Lifeguard Lithuanian
Leib-gvardii Litovskii
1815 Grand Duke Constantine 1811-1817 Plk. (GM in 1812) Ivan Udom
Lifeguard Finnish
Leib-gvardii Finliandskii
Grand Duke Constantine 1811-1816 Plk. (GM in 1813) Maxim Kryzhanovski
Lifeguard Grenadiers
Leib-gvardii Grenadierskii
In April 1813 the Life Grenadiers
became Lifeguard Grenadiers
Tsar Alexander 1799-1807 GM Vasilii Lobanov
1807-1808 Plk. Alexander Zielenin
1808-1809 GM Vasilii Lobanov

1809-1817 GL Graf Pavel Stroganov
Lifeguard Pavlovsk Grenadier
Leib-gvardii Pavlovskii Grenad.
In April 1813 the Pavlovsk Grenadiers
became Lifeguard Pavlovsk Grenadiers
1803-1807 GM Nikolai Mazovski
1807-1813 GM (GL in 1812) Dmitrii Neverovski
1813-1815 GM Petr Makarov
1799-1806 Plk. Alexander Tzvileniev-I
1806-1809 Plk. Alexander Lohov
1810 Mjr. Ivan Mohov
1810-1812 Mjr. (Pplk. in 1811)
Petr Tarnovski
1812-1813 Plk. Egor Rihter

1813-1815 Plk. Petr Tarnovski

The guardsmen wore uniforms resembling those of the line. Additionally their collars bore 2 yellow lace loops (petlizi) and 3 such loops on each cuff flap. Their cartridge boxes bore the star of St. Andrew with 4 grenades in the corners of the flap. Officers' gorgets bore regimental battle honors.

Uniforms of Guard Infantry in 1800

Regiment Mustaches Drum-
Coats Breeches Collars
straight * coffee green white red
black green white blue
white green white
Jagers no
green white   black

* - the thing with mustaches was soon discontinued

Uniforms of Guard infantry in 1802-1803
Picture by Oleg Parkhaiev, Russia.
from left to right: officer of Lifeguard Jager Battalion, staff officer of Lifeguard Semenovsk Regiment, battalion-drummer of Leifegurd Preobrazhensk Regiment, private of Lifeguard Jager Battalion, and fifer of Leifegurd Preobrazhensk Regiment.

Uniforms of Guard Infantry in 1812
Picture by Andre Jouineau, France.

Preobrazhensk Lifeguard Regiment (left),
Semenovsk Lifeguard Regiment (center),
Finnish Lifeguard Regiment (right)

The Preobrazhensk Regiment was the senior regiment of Russian infantry. Tzar Peter the Great formed this unit in 1695 and they were the first unit organized in modern European style. During the Napoleonic Wars Tzar Alexander often wore their uniform. For example in 1807 during the signing of Peace Treaty. (Davidov -"In the Service of the Tzar against Napoleon:the memoirs of Denis Davidov ..." 1999, p 58)


In 1812 the Lifeguard Hussar's first encounter with
the French invaders was a specific one. Roman Soltyk writes:
"… a strong troop of Muscovite hussars halted at about a 100
paces from our weak advance guard. … Coming toward us,
the officer shut out in French: Qui vive ?
"France!" - our men reply quietly.
"What are you doing here ? F… off !" - shouted the hussar.

Guard Cavalry
On March 13th (25th) 1814 Pahlen outflanked the left wing
of the French near Lenharrée, while Depreradovich moved
against their right flank. The spearhead of the attacking
force was formed by the Lifeguard Uhlans having behind the
Guard Cavalry (Chevaliers). The uhlans in the instant broke
the French cavalry led by Bordesoulle and rushed in pursuit.
The uhlans captured 6 guns, the Guard Cavalry (Chevaliers)
also took 6 guns, while the Lifeguard Horse captured 3 guns.

The Guard cavalry consisted of all branches of cavalry. The cuirassiers wore white uniforms, the dragoons and horse jagers wore green, the uhlans wore dark blue, and the hussars and Cossacks wore red coats. The horse gunners wore dark green outfits.

In Austerlitz Campiagn in 1805 the Guard cavalry comprised of:
- Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde)
- Lifeguard Horse Regiment (Garde du Corps, Garde zu Pferde)
- Lifeguard Hussars
- Lifeguard Cossacks

In Austerlitz in 1805, the Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde) were defeated by arguably the best heavy cavalry in the world, Napoleon's Guard Horse Grenadiers. In another encounter the Lifeguard Hussars delivered a volley at the charging French Guard Chasseurs-a-Cheval but were ovethrown. The Lifeguard Horse however enjoyed a great success. They have captured Eagle and flag of the French 4th Line Infantry Regiment (their chef was Napoleon's brother) and routed several infantry units.

After the Austerlitz Campaign, the guard was no longer a palace troop, they became veterans. In 1806 officer D.V. Davydov wrote in his autobiography that when he was accepted into the Guard cavalry "he smelled like milk while the guardsmen smelled like from gunpowder."

In Friedland in 1807, General Bison’s infantry division was formed in two lines of battalion columns, which were in the act of forming squares when the Russian cavalry struck them with impetuosity. (Elting J.R., Esposito V. - “A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars”, Frederick A. Praeger Inc., New York 1964, description to Map 81)
The French infantry fled to the rear with little or no resistance to the Russians. Seeing the panick, General Marchand’s infantry division lost their cool too and raced to the woods. Only “three infantry regiments” were able to form squares and stand firm amid the chaos. According to Shikanov, it was the Russian guard cavalry and Cossacks who attacked Marchand’s division and Latour-Mauborg’s dragoon division.
The 69th Line Infantry was swept away and its both battalion commanders, the regimental commander Colonel Frirjon, and many officers were the casualties. Other regiments panicked. Only the counterattack conducted by Latour-Mauborg’s dragoons and the approach of Dupont’s infantry saved them from a total destruction. The Eagle-bearer of 69th was sabered but falling down he covered the Eagle with his body. The Russians somehow didn’t pick it up or maybe there was no time to do it as the French dragoons soon counterattacked. Later on on this area was Russian Pernau Infantry and they found the Eagle. The French sources also claim that the 69th Line was destroyed by cavalry and not by infantry.

In 1812, before Napoleon's invasion of Russia, was issued an order that all army cavalry regiments will supply the best soldiers to the cuirassiers and to the guard cavalry. This process was under way already after 1806-1807 campaign. When there were not enough veterans, recruits filled the ranks. For example in 1814 one squadron of the Lifeguard Horse Regiment was formed entirely of recruits.

Löwenstern described a review of cavalry regiments in which participated Tsar Alexander, his brother Constantine and General Uvarov. The Tsar began selecting the best hussars and dragoons. According to Löwenstern all the selected men looked very healthy and beautiful. Only one man was selected from Lowenstern's Soumy Hussar Regiment into the prestigous Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers). The best of the picked men were taken into Lifeguard Dragoon Regiment. Only few joined the Lifeguard Uhlans and Lifeguard Horse. The worst (physically) of the selected men, according to Lowenstern, went into the Lifeguard Hussars.

In Borodino in 1812, the Guard Cavalry (Chevaliers) stood in squadron columns with intervals; in the first line were I and IV Squadron, and in the second the III and V. The Lifeguard Horse was deployed to the left of the Guard Cavalry. Its four (I, III, IV, V) squadrons were formed in one line, squadron by squadron with intervals. When the trumpets crashed out with brazen voice the two regiments began their magnificient advance against the Saxon cuirassiers.
Two small squadrons of Polish cuirassiers moved to the right in an attempt to protect the flank of Saxon cuirassier against the Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers). The fighting itself took place on a rye field and the onrush on both sides was so terrific that some of the most forward horses and men went down like poppies in a hurricane. The Saxons and Poles were utterly discomfited. They were pursued until the positions of the French artillery and to make things worse the fleeing Saxon Zastrow cuirassiers were mistakenly attacked by the French horse carabiniers.

In 1813 the regiments that were admitted into the Guard before 1813 were named Old Guard. Those admitted in 1813 were called Young (New) Guard.
The guardsmen in the Old Guard were two ranks above the army and those in the Young Guard were one rank above the army counterparts. The Old and Young Guard filled their ranks the same way.

In Spring 1814 the Guard cavalry comprised of:
- Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde, Kavallergarde)
- Lifeguard Horse Regiment (Garde du Corps, Garde zu Pferde)
- Lifeguard Dragoon Regiment
- Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment
- Lifeguard Horse Jager Regiment
- Lifeguard Hussar Regiment
- Lifeguard Cossack Regiment

Color of horses.
regiment I Squadron II Squadron III Squadron IV Squadron
Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevalier Garde)
bays chestnuts grays blacks
Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment dark bays light bays chestnuts blacks

Guard Cavalry Regiment
Russian name: Kavalergradski Polk, Kavalergardy
French name: Chevaliers Garde
German name: Kavalergarde

Chefs: General-Lieutenant Fedor P. Uvarov (General of Cavalry in Oct 1813).
Sometimes Tsar Alexander is given as the "First Chef" and Uvarov as the 'Second Chef.'
Commanders: General-Major Nikolai I. Depreradovich (in Aug 1813 GL)

This regiment was formed in 1796 during the reign of Tsar Paul as Kavalergradski Korpus and in March 1800 became regiment. Tsar Alexander often wore their uniform (for example during Allies entry to Paris in 1814). It was also the most popular regiment among the aristocrats. Despite the fact that this unit was raised 80 years after the Lifeguard Horse Regiment, it became the most prestigious outfit. These facts caused a bitter rivalry between the two regiments. Tsar's brother, Grand Duke Constantine (commander of the entire Imperial Guard) hated the pampered Guard Cavalry Regiment since its officers were involved in the plot and killing of his father Tsar Paul.
Some of the privates who came from gentry and served in the priviledged Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevalier Garde, Kavallergarde) fancied well shaved faces. It angered Grand Duke Constantine. In 1802 was issued order to the squadron commanders of this regiment: "... and control very strictly that privates and NCOs though they came from gentry all have mustaches, and if somebody cannot have the nature ones, he must use false mustaches." :-)
When in March 1812 the two regiments marched out of St. Petersburg to join the army, the Guard Cavalry Regeiment wore their voluminous greatcoats while the Lifeguard Horse outshined them by wearing the outfits prescribed rather for parade than for marching. According to the wish of Constantine, their weapons and equipment, as well their horses, had to be kept in the highest possible cleanness. For this order were made responsible the squadron commanders and in case of failing they would make all the march on foot.
In February 1813 when Tsar Alexander ordered new field uniforms has to be issued, the Lifeguard Horse without waiting for implementation of this order dressed themselves from the money given by Grand Duke Constantine. They again looked better than the Chevaliers. In December 1813 Constantine remarked that the Chevaliers had their horses dirty and weapons not polished, and even their mustaches were out of shape !
The Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers) went to Austerlitz without any battle experience and were defeated by Napoleon's horse grenadiers (all battle hardened veterans, many awarded for bravery). The Chevaliers were not present neither in the blood-bath in Eylau nor in Heilsberg. In Friedland the Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers) advanced against the Dutch 2nd Cuirassiers and some lovely fighting along the line developed. Both troops wore no armor and for a while the fight was stationary. The Russians lost Colonel Ozharovski-II and 52 men, while the Dutch suffered somehow heavier casualties, incl. Ltn-Col. van Langen. The Dutch couldn't take any more and fled. (In 1810 the 2nd Dutch Cuirassiers was renamed the 14e Régiment de Cuirassiers and taken into French service.)
In Borodino in 1812, the Guard Cavalry Regiment and the Lifeguard Horse defetaed the Saxon Garde du Corps and Zastrow Cuirassiers. Their courage and demeanor under artillery fire put credit on them. They were awarded with St. George standard for the campign in 1812.
In Conantray (east of Fère Champenoise) in 1814, the Guard Cavalry Regiment Chevaliers) routed the veteran French "Spanish dragoons." In Fère Champenoise they executed the final charge that broke Pacthod's infantry. According to French writer, Henry Houssaye, it was here where they became enraged at the French who shot at Russian messengers. Houssaye wrote that the guardsmen rushed upon the French and were sabering them down until the Tsar with officers intervened and with some difficulties stopped the slaughter. Mihailovski-Danilevski mentions only the final charge, breaking the square and taking prisoners. The Guard Cavalry Regiment was awarded with 15 St. George trumpets for Fère Champenoise.

Lifeguard Horse Regiment
Russian name: Leib-gvardii Konnyi Polk, Konnaia Gvardiia
French name: Garde-a-Cheval
German name: Garde zu Pferde

Chefs: Grand Duke Constantine (Tsar Alexander's brother).
Commanders: 1803-1811 General-Major Ivan F. Yankovich, Feb. 1813 - General-Major M. A. Arseniev

This regiment was formed in 1721 from Prince Menshikov's Dragoons and was the senior regiment of cavalry until the Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers) were formed. Then the Lifeguard Horse was ordered to sent "their best men" as an help in forming the new unit. It angered monarch's brother, Grand Duke Constantine, who was the chef of the Lifeguard Horse. From that time irreconcible enmity against Uvarov and his Chevaliers was born in the hearts Constantine and his Lifeguard Horse.
Picture: officer of Lifeguard Horse (Garde du Corps, Horse Guard) present captured French Color to the monarch. Battle of Austerlitz, 1805. Picture by Viktor Mazurovsky, Russia.
In Austerlitz the Lifeguard Horse captured Eagle of I Battalion of 4th Line Regiment while in the same battle their rivals, the Chevaliers lost one entire squadron. The Lifeguard Horse also overran the II Battalion of the 24th Légère whose Eagle was nearly captured. They were awarded with a standard for their performance at Austerlitz.
In 1806-1807 the Lifeguard Horse Regiment was in Heilsberg and in Friedland where they defeated a "hollandish" regiment. General Yermolov in his memoirs also mentions that they made attempt to attack a French battery but without much success.
In Borodino the Lifeguard Horse and the Chevaliers defeated arguably one of the best heavy cavalry in Europe; the Saxon Garde du Corps and Zastrow cuirassiers. In April 1813 the Lifeguard Horse was awarded with new St. George standards for war of 1812. These standards bore inscription "For capturing enemy standard at Austerlitz and for distinction in repulsing the enemy from Russia in 1812."
During the campaign in Germany in 1813, the Lifeguard Horse were present in Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Kulm and Leipzig. In 1814 in Fère Champenoise, the French infantry was formed in squares and their cavalry masked 6 guns. Constantine arrived and ordered the Lifeguard Horse to attack. These sturdy men thundered forward, broke the French cavalry, captured 4 of the 6 guns, and attacked one of the squares. The infantry broke and fled in all directions making Constantine extatic. The Lifeguard Horse were awarded with 22 St. George trumpets for Fère Champenoise. For their loyalty and service the monarch awarded them with St. Andrew Star on their shabraques.

Lifeguard Dragoon Regiment
Russian name: Leib-gvardii Dragunskii Polk

Chefs: Grand Duke Constantine
Commanders: Colonel (in 1812 GM) Petr A. Chicherin II

The Lifeguard Dragoon Regiment was formed in 1809 by taking 5 of 10 squadrons of Grand Duke Constantine Uhlan Regiment. These dragoons were modeled on Napoleon's Guard dragoons ("po obraztzu dragunov napoleonskoi gvardii"). (Bezotosnyi, Vasiliev, Gorshman, Parhaiev, Smirnov - "Russkaia armiia 1812-1814" 2000, p 19)
It was not a showy outfit as the hussars and uhlans and not so prestigious as the Lifeguard Horse or the Chevaliers. But they were superbly trained and disciplined.
In 1812 after the battle of Tarutino, the Lifeguard Dragoons were sent together with Cossacks and light troops toward Mozhaisk where they harrased the enemy's transports and convoys. Two squadrons of dragoons ambushed and destroyed two squadrons of French Guard Dragoons. (Bezotosnyi, Vasiliev, Gorshman, Parhayev, Smirnov - "Russkaia armiia 1812-1814" 2000, p 19)
In Kulm in 1813 the Lifeguard Dragoons spearheaded the massive cavalry charge against Vandamne's infantry. The dragoons attacked frontally and ran down one regiment, while other regiments attacked enemy's flanks. In April 1813 the dragoons were awarded with St. George standards.
In the battle of Leipzig the French cuirassiers routed them in the cavalry battle fougth near Gulden-Gossa's ponds.
In 1814 the Lifeguard Dragoons fought in Fère Champenoise for which they were awarded with 22 St. George trumpets.

Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment
Russian name: Leib-gvardii Ulanskii Polk

Chefs: Grand Duke Constantine
Commanders: General-Major Anton S. Chalikov
[Anton Chalikov came from Georgian nobles. He was known for speaking in rhymes and joking a lot. His Georgian name was Shalikoshvili. Chalikov was a brave man and was awarded with Russian, Prussian, Austrian and French (royalist) orders.]

In 1809 Grand Duke Constantine Uhlan Regiment was admitted into the Guard.
Its first 5 squdrons formed Lifeguard Uhlans and the remaining 5 suqdrons formed Lifeguard Dragoons.
Lifeguard Uhlans 
Captured French Color 
in Krasne in 1812, 
by Oleg Parhaiev. It was on 18th November 1812 at Krasne, that the French 18th Line Regiment, nicknamed “The Brave” (battle honors: Rivoli 1796, Austerlitz 1805 and Borodino 1812) lost its eagle. Marshal Ney led his troops in a frontal attack that ended in failure. According to Col. Pierre Pelleport, the 18th Regiment was “virtually destroyed” by the Lifeguard Uhlans. By Pelleport's order, the eagle was placed at the head of the regiment although other troops sought to hide their own eagles by dismantling them or hurrying them to the rear. Approx. 600 of the Frenchmen became casualties, including 350 dead and few survived by the skin of their teeth. The infantry fled pell-mell across the white field, carrying with them the few officers who were trying vainly to rally them. Officers Koracharov and Bolchwing and uhlan Darchenko of the II Squadron captured the eagle and flag (drapeau) of the 18th Line and were awarded with the St. George order. The entire Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment was awarded with St. George standards with the inscription "For capturing enemy standard at Krasne and for distinction in repulsing the enemy from Russia in 1812." The 18th Line Regiment had requested a replacement eagle for the one lost at Krasne and Napoleon approved the request in 1813.
In Kulm in 1813, the Lifeguard Uhlans fought valiantly: 14 of their officers were killed and wounded, their commander was knocked off his horse. In Leipzig in 1813 they pushed back French cuirassiers who earlier broke Lifeguard Hussars and Lifeguard Dragoons. In 1814 in Sommepy the uhlans broke French cavalry, captured several hundreds of prisoners and a battery. The ulans also fought at Fère Champenoise and Paris. They distinguished themselves at Fère Champenoise. The Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment was awarded with 22 St. George trumpets for campaign of 1814.
It was arguably the best Russian lance-armed unit.

Lifeguard Hussar Regiment
Russian name: Leib-gvardii Gusarskii Polk

Chef: General of Cavalry Petr H. Wittgenstein
Commander: 1808 - Oct 1813 General-Major (in Aug 1813 GL) Ivan E. Shevich

In 1775 was formed a single squadron of guard hussars by taking the best troopers from the existing tvelve hussar regiments. This squadron accompanied the empress during solemn occassions and served as her escort. Tsar Paul ordered to increase its strength from one to four squadrons and in 1796 entire regiment was formed.
Their uniform was copied from that of the Prussian hussars of Frederick the Great and their squadrons were given silver trumpets. The Lifeguard Hussars were the ultimate in flamboyance, for parade their officers wore leopard pelts. Dancing, drinking and romancing were the highlights of their life in the capital. The sight of the guard hussar in his parade dress could reverse the flow of the blood in woman's veins. Company commander, Denis Davidov, with 2 crosses for bravery around his neck and 2 other decorations on his chest, mentions how his head "was kept in a spin" after being on leave and enjoying Moscow's pleasures. (Davydov - "In the Service of the Tsar against Napoleon: the memoirs of Denis Davidov, 1806-1814" 1999, p 69)
Austerlitz was their very first appearance on the battlefield and the French Guard Cavalry routed them. In 1806-1807 the Lifeguard Hussars fought in Heilsberg and Friedland. For the entire campaign they were awarded with 112 crosses. (Benkendorf - "Kratkaya Istoriya Leib-Gvardii Gusarskogo Ego Velichestva Polka" 1879)
Before the Battle of Ostrovno in 1812, two squadrons of Lifeguard Hussars acted as the rear guard of the retreating Russian corps. They routed French 8th Hussars but during the pursuit the 16th Chasseurs strucked them in the flank. The Russians were routed and as a result a Russian horse battery and 150 prisoners were captured. Meshetich, who participated in this fight, gave other version of these events in “Istoricheskie zapiski.” He wrote that the 2 squadrons noticed French advance posts in a wood and rushed forward but were met by fire from dismounted chasseurs deployed on both sides of the road. Behind the wood stood mass of French cavalry, which soon advanced and threw the Lifeguard Hussars back. The horse battery led by Kardyba was away from the hussars but lost half of its 12 guns.
In Borodino the Lifeguard Hussars attacked the square of 84th Line Infantry but without horse artillery and success. They fought very well in Vinkowo against French cuirassiers, and at Tarutino and Krasne where they captured enemy's battery. In 1813 they fought with distinction in Lutzen, Bautzen and Leipzig. In Leipzig they were crushed by French cuirassiers despite a ferocious resistance and sacrifice of their officers. In April they were awarded with St. George standards for the entire campaign. In 1814 they fought at Fère Champenoise.

Lifeguard Uhlan Regiment
Russian name: Leib-gvardii Konno-Yegierskii Polk

Chef: General-Lieutenant Prince Vasilchikov
Commander: General-Major Potapov

This regiment was raised in Spring 1814 in ... Paris. It immediately became one of the favorite units of the monarch.

Uniforms of Guard cavalry in 1805-09.
Pictures by Viskovatov, Russia.

Left: officer of Guard Cavalry Regiment 1804-07,
Right: officer of Lifeguard Hussars 1802-09,

Uniforms of Guard cavalry in 1812-15.
Pictures by Andre Jouineau, France.

Chevalier 1812, by Jouineau Lifeguard Horse 1812, by Jouineau
Left: private of Guard Cavalry Regiment (Chevaliers Garde) 1812
Right: private of Lifeguard Horse (Garde du Corps) 1812

Left: private of Lifeguard Uhlans 1812
Center: private of Lifeguard Dragoons 1812
Right: Lifeguard Hussars 1812


Guard Artillery

Left: Guard foot gunner. Picture by Andre Jouineau.
The Lifeguard foot gunner wore white breeches, dark green coat, black collar and cuffs with guard loops. The shako-cords and shoulder straps were red. They wore shako with two-head eagle, and tall black plume. The foot gunner was armed with tesak, a short straight saber.

Right: Guard horse gunner. Picture by Andre Jouineau.
The Guard horse gunners wore dark green uniform, and shako with white tall plume (instead of helmet of line horse artillery). The Lifeguard horse gunner was armed with dragoon straight saber.

In 1796 was formed one battalion of Guard artillery.
In 1801 it consisted of 2 heavy, 2 light and 1 horse company, with a total of 52 guns.

In 1805 the horse company was separated and called Lifeguard Horse Company. Between 1810 and 1812 the horse company was commanded by Captain Rostislav Zaharov. In 1812 the horse artillery had 2 companies.

In 1811 the Lifeguard Artillery Battalion was named 'Lifeguard Artillery Brigade.'

In April 1813 with the division of the Guard into Old and Young, the artillery was assigned to the Old Guard.

In October 1813 three more Lifeguard Artillery companies were formed: 1 heavy, 1 light, and 1 horse.

In the end of 1812 the Lifeguard Sapper Battalion was formed.


Decline of the Guard
after the Napoleonic Wars.

When the occupation of France ended the Russian Guard marched home. As a welcome for the guard regiments, Giacomo Quarenghi built the Narva Arch in St. Petersburg. A triumphal chariot crowned it with Nike, the goddess of victory. On low pedestals in the niches between the columns were figures of warriors in ancient Russian armour and were listed the names of regiments which participated in the Great Patriotic War of 1812. The Guard held numerous parades.

For the Russian nobles serving in the Guard regiments, the campaigns in Germany and France were like an entrance into a new cultural world which heretofore only single individuals or private persons had had any conception of. Janet Hartley writes: "Officers, and soldiers, had seen how people lived outside Russia: 'By comparison, the question naturally arose, why isn't it like here ?' asked Alexander Bestuzhev.
Patriotic officers now demanded that Russians should have at least as much as the European peoples who they saved (made more galling by the fact that the defeated powers of France and Poland had been granted constitutions, the former with Alexander's agreement and the latter by his expressed desire.) 'The Poles received a constitution' noted A. Muraviev bitterly, while 'Russians as a reward for their heroic exertions in the year 1812 got military colonies. !' (Charles Esdaile - "Popular Resistance in the French Wars" p 195)

Many officers began to consider the possibility of transmitting to their homeland the best of the constructive reforms, and with the fiery enthusiasm of youth they leaped across the wide chasm separating the levels of Russian and French cultural development. But Alexander, frightened by the liberal movements in Germany, changed the course of his policy, and the young nobles were left in a position clearly at variance with the dominant system.
1825 in St.Petersburg In 1825 there were more than two thousand soldiers in Senate Square in St. Petersburg taking part in an uprising. Due to lack of unity of command and little support from the civilians the uprising failed.

Harsh discipline was reintroduced and the emphasis was again on parades and reviews. The quality of the Guard and the Army gradually declined and reached a shameful low with the toothless display during the Crimean war against the French and British troops.

Sources and Links.
Recommended Reading.

For bibliography see our article "The Russian Army".
Pictures by Mazurovski, Parkhaiev, Chagadayev and Viskovatov.
Picture of O Chevalier by Gordeiev.
Ivan Fedorovich Udom-I
Anton Stepanovicch Chalikov.
Mihail Andreievich Arsenev.

Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars

Russian Infantry - - - - - Russian Cavalry and Cossacks - - - - - Russian Artillery

Russian Imperial Guard

Battle of Heilsberg 1807
Bennigsen vs Napoleon
Battle of Borodino 1812
The bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic wars
Battle of Dresden, 1813
Russians, Austrians and Prussians
crushed by Napoleon
Battle of Leipzig, 1813
The Battle of the Nations,
the largest conflict until World War One.
Battle of La Rothiere 1814
Russians under Blucher defeated Napoleon.

Napoleon, His Army and Enemies