The Battle of Borodino, Agust the 26th (September, 7)
You'll never see such battles!
The banners rushed as shadows,
The fire shined in smoke,
The swards were ringing, the bullets screeching,
The fighter's hand was tied to thrust,
And hills of bloody corpses
Were hampering the balls to fly.
The hights before Semyonovskaya village were the place the most stubborn fighting continued almost all great day of Borodino. Rather deep ravine - Semyonovka riverbed -was before the village. Downstream the village Kamenka stream flowed into the river. The hights were on the area between these two rivers. It was one of the most important point of our position where three fleches had been built. These field fortifications got the name "Bagrationovy" (Bagration's). Composite grenadier division of Count Vorontsov was located there at the beginning if the battle.
Considering extremely important to defeat the left wing of Russian army, early in the morning on the 26th of August (the 7th of September) Napoleon had undertaken decisive actions against the troops combining this wing and been under general command of Prince Bagration. The corps of Davout, Ney and Junot supported by Murat's cavalry advanced. This first attack did not have a success as the French were to work their way through the forest and then to form in columns just under the fire of our artillery causing them considerable losses. But when the enemy renewed the attack our situation became so threatened that Prince Bagration was to reinforce divisions of Vorontsov and Neverovskiy by all troops he had under his hand and a savage fighting broke out. 130 cannons of French artillery were continuously sending the clouds of mortal lead on Bagration's troops. Our reply was the same. In clouds of smoke accompanied by the terrible thunder of cannons, under the cross-fire the French advanced forward and reached at last the fleches. There they were met by Vorontsov's division with such a decisive rebuff that Vorontsov himself later said about his division " it disappeared but not from the battlefield but at the battlefield". Along the entire line of Bagration's troops the bloody battle was boiling that had even more intensified when Konovnitzin with fresh forces arrived at the place of action. The courage displayed by his division was perfectly described in Konovnitzin's report to Prince Kutuzov "despising the cruelty of enemy fire regiments advanced on the bayonets and with Hurray! overthrew the French, disordered their columns and seized the hight that was desperately defended from the very beginning of the battle".
A lot of killed and wounded were at both sides.
After a short break when time came to noon Napoleon undertook another, more persistent attack on Bagration. 400 cannons instead of 130 had begun the artillery combat, from our side more then 300 were replying. Not paying attention to the mortal rein of shells the French rushed forward with such a heroic courage that Bagration himself, observing this tremendous attack, exclaimed "Bravo!". Then everything had been mixed in mess of inconceivable chaos where it was not possible to distinguish the friend from the enemy. Arms of all services were confused. They were fighting with bitterness exceeding all probabilities, elemental force possessed the people's souls carrying them along the way of mutual destruction. And at last the woe had happened to Russian army - it sustained an irreplaceable loss. A shell-splinter hit Prince Bagration at his right leg cruelly splintering the shin-bone. This tragic moment is immortalized on the canvas where in the middle wounded Prince Bagration reclining on the ground is displayed. In spite of the pain that was to be severe keeping the presence of mind he points somewhere by his hand evidently making his last orders. Later he was to leave the battlefield though as a real hero did it extremely reluctantly. He had been conveyed to aid point where doctor Villie gave him help. After that Bagration was carried to Moscow and then to the village Sumy of Vladimir province. Bagration was cruelly suffering and died on the 12th ( 24th ) of September. Later according to the order of Emperor Nikolay Pavlovich on the 12th (24th) of September 1839 the memorial had been found in Borodino and Bagration's remains was taken there where they lies till now (at the Raevskiy battery) under the iron plate cast from captured French cannons.
The wounding of Prince Bagration had a very important meaning for the course of events at the left wing of Russian army. His outstanding courage, iron calmness, quick wittedness and battle hardening were inspiring everyone around him. When Bagration had left the battlefield the troops lost their leader. Meanwhile the French seized the fleches overwhelming by their outnumber and stubbornly getting to the goal. Konovnitzin took the command of the 2nd army and withdrew it over Semenovskiy ravine where the troops were ordered and prepared to meet the enemy again. Later by Kutusov's order Konovnitzin was replaced by Dokhturov.
The comments are edited by I.N.Bojeyarov. The album "Invasion of Napoleon. Patriotic war of 1812." St.Petersburg, 1911
Prepared for Publication by Poliakov O. Translated by Makarov M.
© 1997-1998, Published as part of the project "1812".