Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about the Imperial Family and European Royalty => Nicholas II => Topic started by: Cody on July 28, 2007, 03:37:44 PM

Title: 122 year old soldier, Nicholas mentions
Post by: Cody on July 28, 2007, 03:37:44 PM
Greetings!  I was wondering if any of you knew anything about the 122 sergeant major, that survived the Battle of Borodino, whom Nicholas II mentions in a letter Grand Duke Konstantin Romanov on September 14, 1912?  I've tried to look up information on this soldier, and all I can find is the reference from Nicholas' letter.  It would seem to me that a survivor of that battle, that was alive at the 100th anniversary, would have more written about him.

Take care,

+ Cody +
Title: Re: 122 year old soldier, Nicholas mentions
Post by: Sarushka on July 29, 2007, 07:39:03 AM
I recall reading somewhere that the audience with the 122-year-old soldier was perhaps only a media stunt put together to impress the tsar. The soldier was allegedly not 122 years old or a survivor of Borodino -- just an addled old man. However, I can't remember *where* I picked up that info, so take it with a grain of salt! ;) It could just be a cynical rumor...
Title: Re: 122 year old soldier, Nicholas mentions
Post by: Forum Admin on July 29, 2007, 10:31:12 AM
Spiridovitch goes to great detail about the events of the Borodino Centenary celebrations, but makes no mention of this allegedly 122 year old soldier.  I remember something elsewhere in the book about a very old soldier who recalled a battle, but not Borodino... Can't find it just now, but will look when I have a moment.
Title: Re: 122 year old soldier, Nicholas mentions
Post by: mr_harrison75 on July 29, 2007, 05:44:16 PM
I think I've read somewhere that the soldier was in fact 107 years old (he lied when he joined the army, being only 15 at the time). Still very old, and still no proofs if he spoke the truth...  :)
Title: Re: 122 year old soldier, Nicholas mentions
Post by: mr_harrison75 on July 29, 2007, 06:16:40 PM
Oops! I meant he was 115 years!  :-[
Title: Re: 122 year old soldier, Nicholas mentions
Post by: Cody on July 31, 2007, 03:41:03 PM
One of my former History professors specialties is French History.  Certainly he ought to know something about this soldier.  He'll be back soon, so I'll show him the primary source, and see what he thinks.
Title: Re: 122 year old soldier, Nicholas mentions
Post by: Rodney_G. on September 12, 2007, 07:44:17 PM

  Tatiana Botkin in "Au Temps des Tsars" writes about the Borodino centenary but doesn't specifically mention the 122-year old veteran of the battle. She does write, however, that the government had made a great effort to find surviving combatants. She says that the word in Moscow was that the organizers of the event had been especially anxious to impress the tsar, and that they had searched the countryside for months and had offerred money to all the old men who would agree to participate in the festivities. As Tatiana B. put it "A crash course on Borodino had refreshed the non- existent  memories of the old-timers in case the tsar had asked them questions." Actually that's my translation ofTB's FRench.

 That was Tatiana B. writing in 1980 of her contemporaneous (1912) observations. It seems the authorities were trying hard to 'discover' battlefield veterans and that at least some of the public was skeptical of their success, as indeed they should have been. A 122-year old survivor seems , shall we say,  unlikely, but who knows.

The extremely diligent Russian-reading researcher might find contemporary news accounts , but, good luck!   ;)