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Living History Unit

"Preobrazhensky Life Guards", 1709
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SIEGE OF NOTEBURG, October 30, 2004.

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Fortress Oreshek (Oreshek is old Russian name; under Swedes it was called Noteburg; now it's name is Schlusselburg) is one of the oldest fortresses of the Russian North-West; it was built in 1323 on Orekhovy Island at the mouth of the Neva River and Ladoga Lake. The stronghold's purpose was to protect Ladoga lake and to control water routes to the Baltic Sea. In 1612 Oreshek was captured by Swedes after 9 months-long siege, when all defenders starved to death. New, Swedish, name of the fortress was Noteburg. In 1702 Russians attempted to recapture the fortress.

Batteries were established on both banks of the river. Borbardment started on October 1st; three breaches were made in the walls eventually, however only upper parts of the walls were breached. The storm ladders were not long enough to reach to the edge of the breach, but there was no possibility to make breaches any larger - artillery pieces were found useless since vents became too wide after prolonged firing.Volunteers were called for the forlorn hope and step ladders were given to them. Storm was appointed on October 10th.

Soldiers embarked on boats and were floating in Ladoga lake near the mouth, waiting for the signal to storm.Volley from 5 mortars was such signal and troops approached the island. It should be noted that at those times there was nearly no soil in front of the walls - fortress was almost growing from the water. Attackers kept trying to get on top of the breaches - with no success though. Fresh support was sent in, including Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky Guards (Major of Preobrazhensky regt Karpov was wounded; and Leut-Colonel Michael Golitsyn of Semenovsky regt took over command of the storming force. After 13 hours of the desperate assault, Swedish commander ordered drumbeat to negotiations. In the same evening, as was agreed by parties, Russians were let to take posts on the breaches and Swedes were to leave the fortress in 3 days. After Noteburg was taken, Tsar Peter re-named it into Schlusselburg ('key town") as this was a key position for the further advance towards Baltic.

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For more details on the siege and storm - read an extract from official "History of the Swedish war" on our site (in Russian); for more details about history of the fortress - see web-site of the museum.

We visited Oreshek in the days of 302 anniversary of its' capture. We are - Preobrazhensky reenactors from St.Petersburg and Narva, one grenadier of du Bois regt and fusiliers of Velikiye Louki (Velikoloutsky) regt. We were kindly guided through the fortress by museum guides and then we got to our business: having drill according to 1698 and 1700 manuals; manouevring and making pictures.

PS: By the way, it is after capturing of Noteburg that Russian army received Western style uniforms. "French" dress was issued to Guards for their triumphant entering Moscow in December 1702.


"пришло и все войско наше под Нотенбурх (или Орешек), и стало в лагар на мысу от города ниже по реке верстах в двух и уставило обоз свой"

городе на башне после обеда, когда уже подлинно узнали осаду, поставили королевское знамя в знак осады своей и желая помощи от своих"

"тотчас добрую партию послали, которые неприятеля ретироватца принудили"

"(понеже тогда еще не гораздо искусны были в военном деле)"

"велено збирать охотников к приступу, ..."

"...которых нарочитое число записалось"

"наши несколко залпов дали..."

"... и убили неприятельского бомбандира"

"начало приступа со всех сторон к крепости учинили,..."

"...которой тем охотником не гораздо удался."

"наши во все три бреша для занятия поста впущены"

"Того ж дня генерал-фелтьмаршал з генералитетом в город вошли"

"Недостойные ж, особливо те, которые с приступу побежали, несколко десятков рядовых ошелмованы"

"афицеры и рядовые, каждой по достоинству своих трудов, были награждены деревнями и золотыми манетами."

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Living History Unit "Preobrazhensky Life Guards" (с) 2004