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Living History Unit

"Preobrazhensky Life Guards", 1709
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"RULES FOR THE BATTLE", 1709

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The document was created by Tsar Peter and introduced into the Russian army just before the battle of Poltava and is based on combat experience of the then recent actions: Golovchin (Holowczyn) in July and Lesnaya in September 1708. 

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When advancing towards the enemy, one has to detach men (skirmishers) from the infantry to try to supress men and horses of the enemy artillery.

If one suffers greatly from the enemy's guns, one then has to march quickly directly towards them, the cavalry should do the same; because the closer to the guns you are, the less harm and danger you suffer from them. If the enemy abandons his guns one has to capture them immediately, and if it is impossible to use them against the enemy, one has to make them un-usable for the enemy; and the cavalry and the infantry should seek to take enmey guns at every opportunity and spike them .

It is not necessary that our cavalry pursues the enemy too far; on the contrary, having beaten the enemy it should reform back into squadrons and stay in good order and await for new commands. It can send only small detachments to pursue the enemy, while the remainder should reform immediately and this is so important that it is hard to overstate.

If the cavalry is repulsed by the enemy, it should fall back towards the infantry and reform itself into battle order there.

If one squadron is ordered to charge the enemy, other squadrons should not follow it without a special order. I am saying this because I saw it myself in the last action that many squadrons charged without any reason other than seeing other squadrons charging.

Once one line is ordered to charge, the other line should not follow it without an order, because place in the battle line is lost then which I saw myself, Generals who command lines should watch for this and instruct accordingly. I saw that when we attacked the enemy and broke him in several places, the battle order became messed and the cavalry without leaving the field but crowded in one spot and all fought the enemy although there was not enough room around; that was incorrect  while I ordered them to spreda out and to act in lines rather than in columns which allows attack without confusion.

One also should look to support each other and when the enemy attacks one wing, the other wing should attack the enemy from the flank and from the rear.

When enemy cavalry abandons their infantry one shouldn't wait a moment but look to attack the enemy infantry from the flanks or from the rear. Or if it might re-join the battle, one should look to attack it with all possible forces; for example in the last battle we with 6 squadrons charged against 4 enemy squadrons and passed by some enemy infantry with guns. Once we passed them I wanted to bring 2 squadrons back to attack the infantry from the rear and to capture their guns; but this was impossible because those squadrons were pursuing the enemy with others, uncontrollably.

One should have 3-pounder guns with the infantry and from time to time stop them and fire caseshot, but infantry should always preserve its' shots. 

One should look to place 6- and 12-pounder guns on heights and to fire upon the enemy from there when possible; however, when the army advances these guns should also be moved forward and the Colonel of Artillery should watch this and make the necessary arrangments. 

Commanding Generals should find a place where officers can find them in emergency.

Generals should refuse to lead battalions and squadrons against the enemy unless it is necessary to do so; but Generals should watch that orders they receive as well as orders they issue are carried out well and they should not spare themselves when it comes to fulfilling orders.

Also, none of the Generals should leave the battlefield unless he receives order from the commander. Any that abandon their position without an order or will leave comrade or shamefully flee are to be executed.

For this Generals and Officers should instruct their soldiers firmly and keep them following this. Even if it happens that privates can't be stopped then Generals and Officers should stay with those who stay in place, be it cavalry with the infantry or infantry with the cavalry.

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