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The Battle of Kagul
 Jul 30, 2010

Two hundred forty years ago near the Moldavian city of Vulcăneşti on July 21, 1770 (August 1 according to the Julian calendar) Russia defeated the Turks at the Battle of Kagul, which went down in Russia’s history as the “Holy War”, celebrated by poet Alexander Pushkin.

The Russian troops led by Commander Pyotr Rumantsev defeated a Turkish force that was many time greater in number. Among those who fought in this battle was Mikhail Kutuzov, who later gained fame as the general who won the War of 1812. In this battle a deciding role was played by the First Grenadier Guards. General Pyotr Olits led the guards on a heroic counteract that saved the Russian forces.

In a report to Empress Ekaterina II about the battle, Count Rumyantsev wrote: “The Grenadiers, in an act of great bravery, overcame the last and most dangerous moves of the Janissaries and in the face of enemy fire made the way for subsequent victory.”

This is how life-guard lieutenant N. Roslavlev described the story: “At the behest of their brave commander, brigadier Ozerov, and witnessing the retreating troops of General Plemyanikov chased by the cruel Janissaries, the fearless life-guard with exceptional dedication attacked head-on the enormous and fierce attack of the Janissaries with such bravery, such comradery and courage, and with such unbelievable speed that the Janissaries were in a moment turned from an offensive to a defensive position. It can be affirmed that this encounter the bayonets of the brave life-guard was decisive in providing the victory of the Russians over the Turks. The troops of General Plemyanikov that were in disarray quickly regrouped and followed the life-guard in the driving off the enemy… This unexpected turn of event resulted in the dispersion of the countless enemy troops and glorious victory, which led to the capture of the entire Turkish camp, 140 cannons and 60 banners. The Turks retreated to beyond the Danube, losing up to 40,000 in casualties, wounded, prisoners and drowned troops in the Danube.”

Not equipped with anything superior to ordinary troops but select in their skill level, the First Grenadier Guard was called upon in situations where exceptional tenacity was required on the battlefield. Its soldiers were renowned for their heroism in battle.

Interestingly, the first recipient of the Order of St. George, awarded for bravery on the battlefield, was Lieutenant Colonel of the First Grenadier Guard Fedor Fabritsian. On November 11, 1769, commanding a special group of chaser infantry troops and part of the First Grenadier Guards numbering 1600, destroyed a Turkish force of 7000 and captured the city of Galați. And for this he was awarded the Order of St. George of the Third Degree.

A monument was erected on the Kagul battlefield in 1844-1848 and officially opened in 1849 near the Kagul river. This granite, Doric obelisk is about 25 meters high and mounted on a pedestal of two cast-iron plates. On one of the plates, the inscription reads: “In 1770, on the 21st day of July, Count Pyotr Alexandrovich Rumyantsev at this location with 17,000 Russian troops destroyed a 150,000-strong Turkish force led by Grand Vizier Halil Pasha.” The second plate reads: “This monument is in honor of that unforgettable battle, in which the atrocious Janissaries that horrified Europe, Asia and Africa for several centuries were defeated.” In 1956 the monument was restored and capped with a cross and crescent moon.

Valery Kirioglo

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"And we will preserve you, Russian speech,
The great Russian word.
We will keep you free and pure,
And pass you on to our grandchildren,
Free from bondage forever!" Anna Akhmatova "Valor"

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