There are some good memories in the annals of the Russian military history, to which the Life-Guard Grenadier Regiment proudly belongs. Although not being a part of the Guard Corps (until certain time) the Regiment, nonetheless, was somehow distinct from the regular army units.
A little bit of a history…
On 30 March 1765, the Empress Elizabeth issued a decree founding a new infantry regiment. It was the 1st Grenadier Regiment, which was formed under the Count Peter Rumiantzev and composed of grenadiers’ companies, taken from several random infantry regiments.
There are two days of the Regimental saints. First – on 13 April in honor of the holy martyr Antimonies and Maxim the preacher; the second – on 18 December, that is, after the birthday of the Empress Elisabeth, the founder of the Regiment.
Just right after its organizing the Regiment took part in the Seven Years’ War against Prussia and received baptism under fire in the famous battle of Gross-Jagersdorf on 19 August 1757 and in the next year at Zorndorf.
Being similarly equipped and organized along the infantry lines, the Regiment was sent to the most dangerous spots, whether to hold the line or commence the attack. Thus, the Regiment attained its real fame at the major battle of Kunersdorf, 12 August 1759 when, bravely attacking, took the ground driving the Prussians off.
The Regiment was honored to be the first one entering Berlin in 1760.
The Lieutenant Colonel F. Fabricianus was one of the first members awarded the Order of St. George, a high military decoration one can get for bravery on the battlefield.
On 10 July 1775, on the occasion of celebration the peace with the Ottoman Porte, the Empress Catherine the Great ordered: " in honor and respect to the infantry of the Russian army, the 1st Grenadier Regiment, being first by grade and first in military discipline and bravery, shall be named Life-Guard Grenadier Regiment”. Traditionally, Catherine took the rank of the Colonel, thus becoming an honorable chief of the Regiment. Since then, the Life-Guard Regiment, along the line with other regiments of the Guard had, as their chiefs, only members of the Russian Imperial monarchy.
During the War of 1812 the Regiment was listed in the First Western Army under Barclay de Tolly. In the Battle of Borodino (la Moscowa), 7 September 1812, the Regiment, along with the Pavlov Grenadiers and Moscow militia, repulsed all attacks of the 5th Corps under Prince Poniatowski, thus holding the left flank of the Russian army.
On 13 April 1813 the Regiment was entered the Russian Imperial Guard under the title Life-Guard Grenadier Regiment (with the status of the "Young Guard”)
The 1820s became years of a revolutionary discontent in the Russian society and the army. The Life-Grenadiers took part in the Decembrists uprising occurred on 14 December 1825. In that day, part of the 2nd bataillon of the Regiment led by two officers joined the rebellious square formed near the Senate Square in St.-Petersburg. The uprising was dealt with the grapeshot from the canon; the survivors were cashiered into the regular infantry fighting bands of Caucasians.
Now, in 1830 the Kingdom of Poland upraised in flames and suppression of the revolt turned into a bloody war. The Life-Grenadiers took part in the defeat of the upraised Polish army and especially "distinguished” themselves at the storm of Warsaw.
On 6 December 1831 the Regiment was elevated to the status of the "Old Guard”. Note that from the first days of its creation, the Regiment enjoyed the rights of the other units of the Russian Imperial Guard; thus, the rank-and-file must be all brunettes, and be no shorter than 1m 80cm. A special decree allowed privates of the first company to grow beards – an exclusive right forbidden to other Guard units.
In March 1856 in commemoration of a centennial, the Regiment was awarded a new St.-George colour along with laces of St.-Andrew’s.
The Regiment distinguished itself during the new war with Turkey in 1877. At Gorny Dubniak, the Life-Grenadiers took the first redoubt and then, "sitting on the enemy shoulders” burst into the main fortification and seized the success of the day for the entire Russian army.
On 13 April 1906 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary the Regimental badge was created.
The last military campaign where the Life-Grenadiers took part was the Great War. In 1918 by the order of Commissar of War, Leon Trotsky, the Regiment was disbanded. Along with its last commander, Major General Basil Butovitch, majority of its officers and rank-and-files joined the Army of the South of Russia under Anton Denikin and, finally, boarding the last emigration ships, fled from Sebastopol to Europe.
So goes one of the many pages of the Russian military history… From the times immemorial, from the battlefields covered by dust and smoke powder, we can see the brave grenadiers, so much contributed to the glory of the Russian army. They kept up the honor and the right to be known the Life-Grenadiers.
General Regimental characteristics and honors:
1. Epinglette of honor awarded in 1775
2. The Regimental colour of St.-George decorated with laces of St.-Andrew’s. Inscription in the center, under the Imperial eagle, read: "1756-1856” and by the borders: "For distinction when defeating and pursuing the enemy from the Russian territory in 1812”. Such colors were carried in each of six battalions of the Regiment.
3. Monarchial commemoration of 13 April 1813; Monarchial diploma of 30 April 1856.
4. Two silver trumpets with inscription: " For taking the city of Berlin, 28 September 1760”
5. Badges for the headdress with inscription: " For Gorny Dubniak, 12 October 1877” awarded on 17 April 1878.
1. 13 April 1906 in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Regiment: badge in the shape of a three-flame grenade surrounded by the oak and laurel foliage.
2. New badge, 20 June 1909 in the shape of the Polish cross "Virtuti Militari”: black enamel with the gilded edges and small balls at the ends. The silver eagle on the crimson center surrounded by the green laurel foliage.
Regimental uniform distinction 1812:
Standing red collar decorated with double lace of white cloth; same lace on the cuffs beneath the button. Shako is decorated with the three-flamed grenade; on the shoulder strap - lettering "LG”. Officers wore gilded laces decorating collar and cuffs and gilded epaulettes.
1757-62 Seven Years’ War
1768-74 Russo-Turkish War
1789-90 Russo-Swedish War
1805 War of the Third Coalition; Battle of Austerlitz
1807 War of the Fourth Coalition; Battle of Friedland
1808-09 Russo-Swedish War
1812 Napoleon’s Russian Campaign; Klastitci, Borodino, Karsny, Polotsk, Borisov
1813 War for liberation; Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, Kulm, Leipzig
1814 French campaign; Paris
1826 Russo-Persian War
1830-31 Suppression of the Polish uprising
1877-78 Russo-Turkish War
1914-18 The Great War
The Life-Grenadiers today
Our re-enacting group was founded in 1988 in Moscow by several aficionados of military history, of which two of them still remain: Mr. A. Gapenko and Mr. A. Milanovich. Our primary goal was to work with the young population in the way of promotion the patriotic legacy of the Russian history. Since then, several our members became leaders of other groups and successfully manage their respective organizations. Our list of events is more than explicit:
Borodino – 1990 thru 2005
Maloyaroslavetz – 1992 thru 2008
Viasma – 1999 thru 2000
Smolensk – 2003 thru 2005, 2008-2012
Sebastopol – 1993 thru 1994
Kiev – 1991
St.-Petersburg – 1990-1997
Waterloo – 1990, 1995, 2010
Leipzig – 1991, 2003, 2013
Austerlitz – 1995, 2005, 2010
Corses – 1997
Marengo – 2000
Boulogne- sur-mer – 2001
Vilnius – 2003, 2004
Poland – 2004-2014
Warshaw – Austerlitz 2005.
Everywhere we go, we do some propagandistic work honoring the history, traditions and glory of the Russian army. Recently, our group founded an artillery unit, which proudly takes part in all our events. Moreover, we keep in touch with the numerous re-enactment units and often appearing as the whole team.
In 1994 our Regimental color was baptized in the Vladimir Orthodox Church in a Pantheon of the great Russian heroes in Sebastopol. Finally, in 2003 an original of the last Life-Grenadier color was returned to Russia, which our group leader brought home from its keepers – the 1st Food Guards of the Great Britain. Now, this relict is proudly displayed in the Museum of the Russian Guard in St.-Petersburg.
Certificate of our mamber in Union of the European Historical Military Groups.
We are always opened for collaboration and good friendly contacts to any groups doing the re-enactment of Napoleonic period.