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Örjan Martinsson

Russian Auxiliary Corps in Saxon Service
1704-1706

As a consequence of the Saxon army's setbacks in Poland the Russian tsar promised to assist the Saxon elector August the Strong with an auxiliary corps of 12 000 men. A corps numbering 10 000 men commanded by Johann Reinhold von Patkul also arrived to the theatre of war in 1704 when they conquered Warsaw and laid siege on Posen (Poznan). But it retreated to Saxony when the Swedish main army approached. A Cossack force of 1 200 man on foot was destroyed by the Swedes when they did not manage to cross the river Oder in time. In Saxony the corps, now only 6 000 men strong, reorganised and later took part in the battle of Fraustadt 1706. There they suffered a catastrophic defeat with over 4 000 men killed. The remains of the corps were merged into a single Regiment which would join the Russian main army.

The information I have on the auxiliary corps in the tables below come from Vlad Velikanov's blog Oderint dum probent and Oskar Sjöström's book "Fraustadt 1706 - Ett fält färgat rött". Velikanov's notes refer to 14 June 1704 when the corps left Kiev to join the Saxons while Sjöström has focused on 1706. Between these dates a reorganisation of the corps occurred in Saxony which explains the different lists of regiments.

1704

Companies Strength  

1706

Battalions Strength
Duke of Holstein's Regiment 9 985 Schöpping 1  
Gulits' Regiment 8 937 Belling 1  
Nelidov's Regiment 8 865 Patkul 3 (including a grenadier battalion)
Danilov's Regiment 8 910 Holstein 1  
Herman Deldin's Regiment 8 919 Bilits 1  
Krikowski's Regiment 8 942 Gulitz 1  
Romanowski's Regiment 9 895 Arnstedt 1  
Kakhowski's Streltsy Regiment 4 438 Cadeus (streltsy) 1 400
Lewinston's Regiment 9 979 SUMMA

10 battalions, 6 300 man

Bils' Regiment 9 956 The 1 800 Russians who survived the battle of Fraustadt and escaped captivity created a new regiment (3 battalions) led by Rentzel. This then found their way to Russia and participated in the Poltava campaign. It received the provincial name of Suzdalski. 1718.
Baturyn's Regiment 8 972
SUM

88 companies, 9 798 men


In the book by Lars-Eric Höglund covering the Russian army there is a different list of regiments in the auxiliary corps and detailed descriptions of their uniforms. Instead of Velikanov's 11 regiments there are 17 Regiments (but still the same number of men). Höglund's information comes from Alexander Bespalov who according to Velikanov falsified his research on the auxiliary corps:

"Bespalov falsified both the list of Regiments & data about its uniforms. The most of Regiments never were a part of the Corps or acted in Poland. Archive documents state very clear about Corps organization & it doesn't meet with Bespalov's data"

Because of this I chose not to report Höglund's descriptions of the auxiliary corps' uniforms. But regardless of the accuracy of this data it is actually not particularly relevant for the battle of Fraustadt. During its stay in Saxony the auxiliary corps was reorganised in such manner that the number of regiments was reduced. It is likely that several regiments then received white coats with red facings. The sources have however conflicting information whether the Russians had green or white coats at Fraustadt. But one source says that they had both and that seems most likely to be true. In any way, from the Swedish point of view at Fraustadt the Russians would have appeared as if they were wearing red coats. The Saxon commander von Schulenburg had actually ordered the Russians to turn their uniforms inside out so that they would look like Saxons.

There are also pages covering the Saxons and Swedes in the battle of Fraustadt.