Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment
— III —
Преображенский лейб-гвардии полк
Preobrazhensky Regiment fighting the Battle of Paris, 30 March 1814, with the Montmartre in the background
Active1683–1917
2013–present as the 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment
CountryTsardom of Russia
Russian Empire
BranchArmy
TypeInfantry
SizeRegiment
Garrison/HQSaint Petersburg
Insignia
Banner of the regiment
Badge of the regiment

The Preobrazhensky Life-Guard Regiment (Russian: Преображенский лейб-гвардии полк, Preobrazhensky leyb-gvardii polk) was one of the oldest and most elite guard regiments of the Imperial Russian Army. Along with the Semyonovsky Regiment, the Preobrazhensky Regiment also served as a gendarmerie unit for the state Secret Chancellery (secret police) in the 18th century, headed by Prince Fyodor Romodanovsky.

History

The young Tsar Peter I of Russia (born 1672, r. 1682–1725) developed the regiment from 1683 onwards on the basis of his poteshnye voiska ("toy forces"), during the military games he conducted in the village of Preobrazhenskoye (now a district in Moscow). The Preobrazhensky Company of Peter's forces officially formed in 1687; it had expanded to become a regiment (Russian: полк, romanizedpolk) by the 1690s.[1] The Preobrazhensky Regiment distinguished itself during the Great Northern War of 1700–1721, the Patriotic War of 1812, and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878.

The regiment operated as the body-guard of the Grand Duchess Yekaterina Alekseevna as well as the main supporter of her bloodless 1762 coup against her husband Emperor Peter III; having become Empress Catherine II (r. 1762–1796) she declared the Preobrazhensky highest in the order of military precedence from 14 July 1762.

In spite of its distinguished record, part of one battalion of the regiment mutinied in June 1906, at a time of general unrest in the Russian Empire. The mutiny was quickly suppressed and 190 soldiers sentenced to service in disciplinary battalions.[2]

Colonel Alexander Kutepov (later a general) became the last commander of the regiment in April 1917; he disbanded the formation in December 1917 in the wake of the October Revolution of November 1917. In 2013 the regiment re-formed within the Russian Armed Forces as the 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment.

Timeline

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The Preobrazhensky Regiment soldiers proclaim Elizabeth the empress of Russia.
The Preobrazhensky Regiment soldiers proclaim Elizabeth the empress of Russia.
Young Modest Mussorgsky as a cadet in the Preobrazhensky Regiment of the Imperial Guard
Young Modest Mussorgsky as a cadet in the Preobrazhensky Regiment of the Imperial Guard

Basis of recruitment

In the 18th and 19th centuries, officers of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were young Russian aristocrats and appointment was considered a proof of loyalty to the government and the tsar. Among its membership was the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky.[3]

After 1874 ordinary soldiers of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were mainly conscripts undertaking their obligation to serve for three years in the active army and fifteen years in the reserve (Opolchaniya).[4] For the Preobrazhensky Regiment conscripts were selected for their height and fair hair (in order to provide a standardised appearance on parade).[5][6]

Flag

The regimental flag was of St. George's colours, with the inscription: "For displayed feats in battle of Kulm 17th of August 1813". (29 August 1813 in the Julian calendar).[7]

This colour was given to the regiment in order to celebrate its action at Kulm, where the outnumbered Preobrazhensky regiment withstood the charge of French troops.[7]

Uniforms

Preobrazhnesky Barracks in St. Petersburg
Preobrazhnesky Barracks in St. Petersburg

Throughout its history the regiment wore the standard uniform of the Infantry of the Imperial Guard, which from 1683 to 1914 was predominantly of a dark green (eventually verging on black) colour. The main distinctions of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were the red facings (plastron, collar, cuffs and shoulder straps) edged in white piping. Distinctive regimental patterns of braid (litzen) were worn on the tunic collar, plus the tsar's monogram on the soldiers' shoulder straps and officers' epaulettes.[8]

Following the Russo-Turkish War, the regiment was awarded a small bronze scroll to be worn as a battle-honour on shakos and other headdresses. In 1883, in recognition of its overall distinguished record, officers of the regiment were authorised to wear a large metal gorget inscribed "1683-1850-1883". A second model of gorget, designed in imitation of that worn during the 18th century was approved for the regiment in 1910.[9]

Sailors of the Preobrazhensky

An unusual feature of the Preobrazhensky Regiment was that it included a small detachment of sailors. Intended to commemorate a period during the reign of Peter the Great when the regiment served on board ship as temporary marines. This unit provided rowers for members of the Imperial Family when embarked on ceremonial barges on the Neva. The Preobrazhensky sailors wore naval dress, distinguished by orange stripes on the neck-collar.[10]

Preobrazhensky March

Preobrazhnesky March of Peter The Great, 1911
Preobrazhnesky March of Peter The Great, 1911

Main article: Preobrazhensky Regiment March

The "Preobrazhensky Regiment March" (Russian: Марш Лейб-гвардии Преображенского полка) is one of the most famous Russian military marches.[11] It was used as an unofficial national anthem in imperial times.[12] The march has been often used in modern Russia, particularly in the annual Victory Day Parade for the trooping the colours and the inspection of troops.

Before World War I it was used as the presentation march in several military formations in Prussia[11] Since 1964 it has used as the slow march of the Royal Marines.[13][11]

Several lyrics are known for the march.[14]

Notable people who served in the Preobrazhensky Regiment

See also

References

  1. ^ Bobrovskii, P (1899). Poteshnye i nachalo Probrazhenskago polka [The toy soldiers and the origin of the Preobrazhensky Regiment] (PDF) (in Russian). Saint Petersburg. p. 6. Retrieved 6 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b Patrick de Gmeline, pages 334-336 "La Garde Imperiale Russe 1896-1914", publisher Charles-Lavauzelle Paris 1986
  3. ^ BBC Radio 3. Composer of the Week, broadcast 26 October 2009
  4. ^ David Woodward, page 74 "Armies of the World 1854-1914", publisher G. P. Putman's Sons New York, SBN: 399-12252-4
  5. ^ Patrick de Gmeline, page 26 "La Garde Imperiale Russe 1896-1914", publisher Charles-Lavauzelle Paris 1986
  6. ^ Schollander, Wendell. Glory of the Empires 1880-1914. p. 492. ISBN 978-0-297-85266-7.
  7. ^ a b Patrick de Gmeline, page 25 "La Garde Imperiale Imperiale Russe 1896-1914", publisher Charles-Lavauzelle Paris 1986
  8. ^ Schollander, Wendell. Glory of the Empires 1880-1914. pp. 566–567. ISBN 978-0-7524-8634-5.
  9. ^ Patrick de Gmeline, pages 26 "La Garde Imperiale Russe 1896-1914", publisher Charles-Lavauzelle Paris 1986
  10. ^ Patrick de Gmeline, pages 26-27 "La Garde Imperiale Russe 1896-1914", publisher Charles-Lavauzelle Paris 1986
  11. ^ a b c "История марша Лейб-Гвардии Преображенского полка", reprinted from the article Агафонов Н., Петров Ф. "Марш лейб-гвардии Преображенского полка", Оркестр, 2007
  12. ^ "National Anthem | Russia's State Symbols". En.rian.ru. RIA Novosti. Archived from the original on 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  13. ^ "The Regimental Marches of Her Majesty's Royal Marines:A Life on the Ocean Wave Regimental Quick March". Royalmarinesbands.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-30.
  14. ^ "Russian Anthems museum". Hymn.ru. 2013-04-14. Archived from the original on 2013-07-03. Retrieved 2013-11-30.