ON THE QUESTION OF THE MILITARY REFORMS
OF PETER THE GREAT
Epifanov, P. P.
Here we provide
notes compiled from the title article published in Voprosii Istoria The
translation was done in the early 1970's and unfortunately we don't have the
original acticle now. The author shows strong Russian claims typical of the
type of writing of the period. Even so, the article contains interesting
information about Peter's role in the tranformation of the Russian army at the
beginning of the 18th century.
See also for another work on Peter the Great by Epifanov, P. P. _Sbornik
Dokumentov-Voyennie Ustavi Petra Velikogo_, (The Military Regulations of
Peter the Great), Moscow, 1946. This small booklet contains reprints of five of
the basic military regulations or orders pertaining thereto, issued by Peter I
from 1700 to 1714. The author's introductory article is unusually (for its era)
free from ideological arguments that Russian military science was entirely
self-developed. He does not hesitate to show that Peter sought military
experience from foreign sources. This approach enhances his evaluation of the
purely Russian elements in Peter's military regulations. It is unfortunate that
the author - editor did not republish the other military documents pertaining
to this subject, especially the report by A. Weide given to Peter on Weide's
return from study of and service in foreign armies in the
The military reorganization of Peter
occupies a large place in the history of he Russian Army and military art. Peer
created the permanent regular army enabled led the development of military
industry and completely rearmed the army with modern types of infantry and
artillery weapons. He made major changes in the tactics employed by the army.
He promulgated new and original military regulations, printed in the Russian
language books on artillery and fortifications, founded military schools and
laid the beginnings of special military education in Russia and made a wide
military prepared ness of the Russian officer corps, and educated the army from
privates to generals in the spirit of the new more elevated regular discipline.
Its not difficult to note that the military reforms of Peter are the border
between the period of unsuccessful Russian military action with weak enemies in
the second half of the 17th century (Turks and Tatars) and the period of great
successes in the 18th century against the best armies of western Europe.
The direct results of the reforms Peter himself noted in the forward to his
regulations of 1716 in commenting on the successes of the Russian army against
regular opponents. But the historical meaning of the reformation is not only
the immediate results. under Peter the foundations of the regular organization
of the military forces of Russia were laid.
Peter was the real leader of the
reforms. He was involved in all the details and conducted the reformation of
the army. he was able to learn lessons from mistakes and strengthened the new
ways and forms. The military ideas of Peter formed the basis for the new army.
Its practices determined the final structure of the army, the development of
its tactics and brought its technical capacity up to date. Directing the path
of the reforms, Peter first of all took care of the rearmament of the army with
the newest weapons and technology, of its training in formations and tactics,
and of the education in the spirit of patriotism and defense of the state.
Striving to overcome the military lag of the country, Peter widely used the
most advanced western military methods, converting them for the special needs
of the Russian army. Pete brought up a while Pleidies of Russian military
leaders and specialists such as B. Sheremetev, A. Menshikov, M. Golitzin, A
Weide, J. Bruce B. Korchmin, G. Skornyakov-Pisarev, V. Suvorov and others.
Looking at the condition of the birth of the regular army in Russia military
historians usually use the darkest colors to paint the picture of the army
before the reforms. From these conditions came the necessity to reform the
army. The decay of discipline, lag of weapons and low military quality of the
pomestnik-dvoriani force was noted by contemporaries and confirmed by the fact
of military history. "Thank God if we can serve the Tsar without drawing a
The mass shirking of military service by dvoriani and the growth of 'evaders'
are phenomena of the 2nd half of the 17th century. The formation of the
pomestie service system, creation of the streltzi, and powerful artillery of
the 15th - 16th centuries were a progressive step in the development of the
Russian army. In the wars of that epoch the forces of Muscovy had a high
military quality. In its basic tactics the Russian army of that time resembled
the tactics of western Europe, (the active operation of cavalry et cetera).,
however it also used a series of unique methods which distinguished it from the
other armies of Europe.
The army was divided into Polks, - Main, Right, left, storozhevoi, zasadni, and
advance guard (Ertoul) The Russian artillery employed original tactics during
sieges and in the field of battle it used strong artillery fire and the
moveable canon-armed fortress (Gulyai Gorod). Especially artful was the
organization of the defense of the southern border with the wide use of natural
and artificial barriers. In 1572 Prince M. Vorotinski, by command of Ivan IV,
formed the "Regulations on Guard, Station and Field Service.".
This army was still in essence a
feudal army consisting of nine tenths pomestnik-dvoriani and their men. The
separate udels and princedoms had their own forces. The dvoriani came on
service with horse, men and arms and after the campaign they separated and went
home. By its organization the main forces of Moscow, the dvoriani cavalry,
represented a temporary militia formed only during time of military operations.
In the 17th century began the crisis of military pomestnik system. Social
economic progress in Muscovy in the 16th and 17th centuries brought on a
gradual change in the form of landowning conditions and in strengthening of the
pomestnik's property in land and in the serfs. The more the pomestniks were
involved in the circle of domestic interests the more persistently they
declined to fulfill their heavy military obligations.
On the other side, rising dvoriani families numbered groups of small
landowners, half pomestniks, deti-boyars who lost the possibility to serve in
the army on the old basis. In the conditions of almost continual war of the
17th century the the small landowners could not remain in condition to serve
with all the equipment etcetera of the service person. From this rose the
numbers (netchikov) "evaders" from this also the attempts of the
government to organize supply of the dvoriani force with weapons, ammunition
and food from the state treasury. In the 17th century the deti-boyars who had
no land all the more often signed up in the infantry service since they could
not qualify for the lancer or reiter cavalry service.
The pomestnik-dvoriani system of organization of force gradually shifted to
another side. The modernization of the hand firearms and artillery in the 17th
century led to the main arm of service in this period becoming the infantry to
which shifted the decisive role in battle. The cavalry having received firearms
also shifted to a regular basis and changed its tactics. From the purely
military point of view the untrained, armed-with-an-ill-assortment-of-weapons,
dvoriani cavalry lost its military significance and despite the military
technical backwardness Russia in the 17th century with surprising rapidity
developed infantry regiments.
The pomestnik dvoriani force by its very character could not develop into a
correctly organized regular force.
One must not call the streltzi the embryo of the regular army. It was a special
form of organization. Service of the streltzi as in various other categories of
the Russian forces in the 16th - 17th centuries - (pushkari, vorotnikov,
kuznitsov, zatinshchikov, town cossacks and others) - was supported by money
and land payments and was hereditary.
Into the strettzi force were recruited mainly "from father - children, and
from brother-brother, and from uncle-nephews". Another peculiarity of the
streltzi was the combination by them of military service with civil
professions. The lack of systematic, military training hindered the streltzi
development of their service capabilities. All this resulted in that Peter had
to start the reformation of the Russian army with the complete liquidation of
the streltzi infantry and then also the dvoriani cavalry.
The necessity of military reforms
became immanent also in connection with great progress in military affairs and
military structure of Muscovy in the 17th century in connection with the
growing role of Russia in the international relations.
The growth of native industry and production of artillery and firearms
especially noted in the middle 17th century and the increased import of arms
from western Europe gradually supplied the army with fire arms and raised the
importance of infantry. In 1668 in the Russian army there were 40,000 cavalry
and 24,000 infantry. In 1681 there were 45,000 cavalry and 81,000 infantry. In
the 2nd Crimean campaign 28 cavalry regiments (37,000) and 46 infantry
regiments (58,000) participated.
The change in composition of the army by arm of weapon led to a fundamental
change in its social structure, in as much as the depressed mass of infantry
and part of the cavalry was recruited now from peasants and suburb population.
The dvoriani had to secure its leadership position over the peasants in the
army. But for this it was essential to overcome the traditional aversion of the
dvoriani to infantry service and enter them into schools of the new military
practice within the regular army.
Another characteristic event in the development of the Russian army in the 17th
century was the displacement of the dvoriani cavalry and streltzi by regiments
of "foreign formation' By the end of the 17th century the pomestnik
cavalry remained only a quarter of the cavalry and the streltzi were only a
tenth part of the infantry.
Some historians have begun to look at the creation of the 'foreign formation'
regiments as a damaging retreat from a national principle. of the old Russian
military organization and tactics. "The practice of hiring foreigners
regiments' writes Professor Korobkov, "beginning with the reign of Ivan
the Terrible and receiving greater development during the reign of Alexis
Mickialovich, signified the retreat from the aforesaid principle". This
remark is based on the annoying misunderstanding since the Russian government
never used the practice of hiring entire regiments and in the composition of
the regiments of "foreign formation' were Russians (deti boyars,
volunteers ,and datochnki). The first regiments of "foreign
formation" were formed by Michael Feodorovich. In the 17th century there
were in total two occurrences of hiring an entire regiment for a very short
The Russian government hired foreign officers, the influx of which was
especially strengthened after the 30 Years' War. However among the officers in
the regiments of "foreign formation" Russians predominated. In the
2nd Chgirinski campaign in the composition of the regiments in the officers
above major there were 42 foreigners and 24 Russians, and in the junior
officers - (captain, Lieutenant, Rotmiester) there were 268 Russians and 58
foreigners. The element of mercenaries in the Russian army in the 17th century
appeared as a result of the military-technical and cultural retardation of
Russia. They were not quickly eliminated during Peter's reign.
(Thus it should be clear that the term regiment of 'foreign formation"
refers to the organization, formation and tactics of the unit rather than to
its national composition.)
Likewise ungroundedly Professor Korobkov called the "foreign
formation" regiments the "Regular units" of the Russian forces
in the 17th century. The reiter regiments of "foreign formation"
represented nothing of the kind, as more that modernized pomestnik cavalry.
These regiments after a campaign also dispersed to home, just like the soldier
regiments. Peter could not form his army on the model of these regiments
specifically because he armed his army with the new military technology
(flintlock musket and bayonet) which demanded another organization and
One must not agree with the negative
evaluation which some historians give the ":foreign formation"
regiments. The striving of Russia to move along the general European path of
development in military force, writes professor Korobkov, "fortunately did
not obscure from herself her special national principle of military
organization, and in the future was discarded". Creation of the
"foreign formation" regiments was without question a step forward in
the history of the Russian army, the number of them grew also after Aleksis
Mikhailovich, and not by accident did V. V. Golitsin attempt to reform on the
foreign model the streltzi infantry and the dvoriani cavalry. The efforts of
the Russian military leaders to master the foreign formation and to strengthen
military cultural connections with Europe, recruit foreign officers, weapons
and artillery masters, import weapons, translate specialist military literature
and regulations - all this played a big role in the preparation for the
military reforms of Peter.
If the reactionary circles protested against the reorganization of the army and
explained the failure of the Crimean campaign as the punishment of its leader
because Golitsin assigned commanding posts in the army to foreigners, then
Peter sharply turned the face of the army to the west. Peter found in the
methods of organization and operations of the best Russian regiments of
"foreign formation" (the so-called select) the very progressive
elements which he could use in undertaking the formation of the army.
In the very development of the Russian army in the 17th century there took
place significant progress which directly prepared the way for Peter's reforms.
From the middle 17th century were conducted periodic required recruitments
(conscriptions) into the army of "datochnki people".
A not less importance had the rudiments of training in formations of the
cavalry and infantry in the 2nd half of the 17th century. It is known, that the
"foreign formation" regiments usually in the course of one month per
year trained in the reformations and elements of tactical maneuvers.
According to the evidence of Patrick Gordon, the "select" soldier
regiments in Moscow trained in front of the tsars inspection daily. The first
instructors for his "playmate" regiments Peter obtained from the
select soldier regiments which were commanded by General Lt. Patrick Gordon.
True, the training in formations before the reorganization of Peter were not
systematic and were conducted not according to a unified regulation for
formations, but on the basis of the "military Custom" that is
actually according to the desires of the foreign instructors .Peter at the very
beginning of his reforms used the organizational and military administrative
experience of the foreign formation regiments creatively and with wisdom. The
out of date elements of the experience Peter gradually discarded and the other
elements he put into one system for the regular army.
The circumstance that the basic composition of the officers - foreigners -
remained in the 17th century in the cadre of the army, was used by Peter in the
interests of reorganizing the army.
Many of these foreigners were so
Russianized that Peter could not relate to them with full trust which they, it
is to the point to say, fully proved (Paul Menzies, Patrick Gordon, F. Lefort,
I. Chambers, A. Weide, and others.) The most important element of the
regularity of the Russian army in the 17th century was the supply of the
regiments of "foreign formation" with weapons, ammunition, and part
of the mounted regiments with horses at the state expense, from the tsar's
weapons treasury. The principle of state supply of the regular army and the
first step on this direction was done before Peter. However, only as a result
of the military reorganization of Peter was this principle carried out
completely and was accomplished in full measure, so that the Petrine soldier
received from the state his weapon, and uniform and boots and supply of
The practice of attracting landless deti boyars and dvoriani into the infantry
service and "datochnki people" into some units of cavalry service
delt the first blow to the dvoriani privileges - to serve only in the cavalry.
This helped Peter to make service in the infantry usual for the dvoriani and to
appoint recruits from the peasantry as privates in the cavalry. However the
privilege was so traditional that Peter in the first years of the reforms had
to employ severe punishments to the dvoriani who avoided infantry service.
Working out in the course of many years his Miliary Regulations of 1716 Peter
used the experience of the Russian Regulations created in the 17th century.
Already in the Regulations for Military Affairs of 1621 (of Onisim Mikhailov)
which demanded intelligence and advocated winning a victory with the least loss
of life on both sides. The idea of the Regulations of 1647 found their
reflection in the articles of the Petrine Regulations for guard duty and
campaign order. One must note that the Regulations of 1647 by the end of the
17th century were completely out of date and the formations given in them were
not used by the units at that time.
Thus despite the military technical backwardness of the country in the 17th
century the Russian army displayed surprising capacity for progressive
development. The more strong became that lagging, the more bitter were the
military failures at the end of the 17th century, the more decisive and wide
became the problem of reorganization of the armed forces. The measures of the
commission of V. Golitsin for reformation of the army (discard of
Mestnichistvo, reformation of pomesti cavalry, and streltsi into infantry)
turned out to be insufficient although they helped the way for the reforms of
Peter. The Russian army on the eve of the Petrine reorganization slowly but
steadfastly moved forward.
For the history of the Petrine military reforms great importance has the
circumstance that its creator and leader in his childhood and youth had a full
course in military science which included study of all arms of contemporary
firearms and cold weapons, military "foreign formation" infantry and
cavalry, artillery affairs, elements of military engineering art.
A great importance in the military
upbringing of Peter was the practical school of his "playmates". It
is not by accident that Peter for many years was given the high title of
"first Russian soldier" by C. Bukhvostov. The "playmate"
units were commanded by Colonel Ivan Chambers. In the infantry, artillery and
cavalry Peter went through the ranks from bombardier, soldier, etc. Peter only
in 1691 gave himself the rank of sergeant and wore the sergeant's kaftan. But
for the "Playmates" occupation of Peter it was characteristic not
only that he was attracted by the exercises, but also he had a great interest
in the technical and scientific side of military affairs. From 1684 Peter
studied the joiners', turners' and armorer's work. In 1685 he went to the state
armaments factory and from then on continued to return two or three times a
year. There he selected the best weapons especially unusual ones such as ones
with rifled barrels, special firing mechanisms, or double barrels. In 1686
Peter took part in a grandiose Factory accuracy registration of tens of
thousands of firearms, undertaken in connection with preparations for the
Crimean Campaign. In the same year Peter went to the Artillery Factory and
generously rewarded the artillery master artisans.
In 1685 Peter read, probably for the first time in his life, a secular book .
This was the "Book of Artillery fire from the library of his father,
Alexis Michailovich. Peter in his school years learned about other military
books, in particular the ":Regulations of 1647", the so-called
"Uchenie i hitrost ratnovo stroyeniya pexotnix ludie".
As a youth Peter already could give an intelligent criticism of this book. From
1687 Peter studied the beginning of ballistics and fortifications under the
guidance of F. Timmerman, and from 1689 his tutor in military science was
Patrick Gordon. In military training Peer had the services of the talented and
well-educated Scottish officer, Paul Menzies.
The failure of the two Crimean campaigns of Golitsin had a big impression on
Peter and strengthened his interest in military affairs, and his critical view
of the old military organization and tactics.
On coming to power Peter increased the dimensions of his playmate forces. In
1690-94 a large organizational work was conducted on the manning, arming and
training of 4 select soldier regiments. This work was under the command of
Patrick Gordon and F. Lefort, in the two old regiments, Butirski and A.
Shepelev. Parallel with this was the creation of two new regiments; the
Preobrazhenski and Semynovski, which were to become the kernel of the regular
army. The Preobrazhenski office and the Preobrazhenski staff were headed by
"generalissimus" F. Romodanovski with the general clerk I Inekhov.
The officers of these regiments were picked individuals who received
marksmanship and tactical training. There were two bombardier companies formed
in the regiments. In 1692 the Swedish military engineer, C. Roll entered
In this year Peter conducted
extensive artillery firing practice and went to the Artillery Factory and
decorated the artillerists who had proved their expertise by hitting the
"bull's eye". The first regular regiments received their baptism of
fire in the "playmates campaign" of 1691-94. Peter's often quoted
words about the jokes at Koshukhovskii and the elements of masquerade involved
need not conceal from us the significance of these maneuvers. Peter had a
serious purpose and did not want the joke at Koshukovski to be continued on the
Azov Campaign. In is clear that Peter's jokes and masquerades had their serious
purposes in his system. In reality the "playmate campaign" was the
first attempt at practical testing of the new ideas which had not been proven
as yet, including the study of the significance in battle of the new military
science, new forms of organization and new tactics and manual of arms. The
"Playmates campaigns" were the first step in the restructuring of the
army on a regular basis. They brought into practice the principles of
systematic marksmanship and field training of the army. They were a direct
preparation for the Azov Campaign. The "playmates campaigns" were
characterized first of all by the not accidental way in which the new army
regiments were formed against the "enemy" regiments of streltzi. In
the maneuvers tens of thousands of soldiers took part and all arms and services
participated. It is known that the form of maneuvers were close to the real
thing and the fiercer violence reached extreme limits. In these conditions it
was not accidental that "our" forces won over the "enemy"
forces as Peter put it. Contemporary witnesses reported that "our"
regiments formed before the battle in battle order as generally practiced at
that time in the West, that is the infantry in the center and the cavalry on
the flanks. They maintained excellent battle discipline and supported the main
force with the reserve, etc.' whereas the streltzi were without order or
formation. The witnesses criticized the "enemy" forces for their
disorder and tactical mistakes.
The "friendly" side on the other hand showed not only the results of
the experience of the "foreign formation" regiments but also the new
military organization and tactics; the first military council of the army, the
participation in the battle of the bombardier companies, the companies of
sailors, and the use of river transportation and newly designed river craft
with the armament with bayonets although only one company of the Lefort
regiment had them. Fortifications and methods of siege were practiced. All this
shows that Peter was not merely mechanically copying the model of the
"Foreign formation" regiments of Alexis Mikhailovich. The commander
of the Russian army was F. Romodanovski and the "enemy" army
commander was I. I Buturlin. Peter fought on the "new" side in the
bombardiers and as a rotmiester in the reiter regiment and as commander of a
company of sailors and finally as a miner. In reality the idea of the
first-in-history of modern armies large scale field maneuvers but also the
governing outcome of the study belonged to Peter.
B. Kurakin, who participated in the
Kozhukhoivski maneuvers wrote that no monarch in Europe could conduct better
training than that. In 1695 Peter opened the first campaign for his new units
with the siege of Azov. The experience of this campaign added further
experience for the reorganization of the army. Already on the first campaign we
can note a series of new developments in organization and tactics.
The 1695 campaign followed a predetermined strategic plan. The main attack was
at Azov, and a secondary attack to distract the attention of the Tatars was on
the lower Dnieper. Peter discussed this plan along with all other details not
in the old fashion with the clerks of the Razrayd and Boyar prikazes, but in
his council of leading generals.
The kernel of the main army was the new regular regiments including the
bombardier company and the engineers; Roll, Weide and Timmerman. Peter
decisively broke away from the old method of formation in the traditional
polks. He also created a powerful river flotilla to transport the forces and
most of the supplies. He made intelligent use of the river transport system.
This greatly increased the mobility of the forces. The failure at Azov did not
make Peter despair. He set about correcting the deficiencies that were shown by
the campaign. While still under the walls of Azov in 1695 he made the first
changes and began preparations for the next campaign. He sent for experienced
engineers from the Austrian (Holy Roman Empire) and for ship building masters
via Arkhangelsk in order to build a new fleet on the Don. Upon his return to
Moscow in the military council Peter took upon himself the most difficult part
of the preparations, the creation of the new flotilla. He appointed F. M.
Apraksin as supervisor of this operation.
For the 2nd campaign Peter strengthened the siege corps and appointed A. S.
Shein as commander-in-chief. He employed military engineering methods in the
siege in coordination with a naval blockade of the fort. Success in this
campaign did not conceal from Peter the need to make further improvements. In
fact it showed him more than ever the organizational deficiencies of the old
military organization. Especially obvious was the indiscipline of the streltzi
and the dvoriani cavalry. 22 percent of the dvoriani "Moscow ranks"
did not show up for the campaign and also the insufficient military knowledge
and lack of military specialists was apparent. In the campaign and after it
Peter made the beginning plan for reorganization of the military forces. In
1696 and 1697 he proceeded to carry this out.
The major part of the streltzi force
was left at Azov after the campaign and also at other southern garrisons. This
was the beginning of their destruction. The later streltzi uprising of 1698 was
brought on by their complaints at being away from home and by their attempts to
regain their old privileges in Moscow as guards. Preparing to create the
regular army, Peter in 1697 - 1698 greatly increased the number of men in the
"select soldier" regiments. Preparing to go abroad he left A. M.
Golovin in charge with thorough instructions to train and inspect the men and
One must not agree with the view of Professor Korobkov that Peter only
conceived his plan for reorganization after being on his trip abroad and that
the plan was just a result of this trip, as he says in "Voenniya
Misl No 2-3, 1944.
From the moment of the return from Azov the officer complement of the
Preobrazhenski and Semenovsksi regiments was increased two to three times in
order to use them as a training grounds for future officers of other regiments.
A second group of preparatory measures was connected with the sending of
"volunteers" abroad to study the European measures and with Peter's
personal trip abroad for the same purpose. Decisively breaking with the
traditions of the Muscovite tsars raised contacts with the West to a new high
level. Western influences had penetrated Russia before Peter, but were received
quite passively and not deeply. The volunteers sent abroad in 1697 according to
their instructions personally devised by Peter, had to study naval affairs and
military science. In January of 1697 A. A. Weide from the Preobrazhenski
Regiment was sent abroad. Peter himself was accompanied by Menshikov, Korchmin,
James Bruce, Kikin, Ovtsin, Buzhenknov, Aleksander Archilovich and others. They
attentively and successfully studied the organization and tactics of the
western armies and each arm of service such as artillery and armament
techniques and theory and military engineering etc.
Peter studied and gathered and compared the military culture of all the Western
European countries and took what he considered advantageous and rejected what
was not (such as the principle of mercenary forces, excessive parade ground
'spit and polish', the great gulf between officers and men, the principle of
classical linear tactics, etc.) Striving from the very start of the reforms to
obtain for his forces a cadre of Russian specialists, Peter at the same time
hired abroad hundreds of line officers, armaments experts, artillerists,
military engineers, bombardiers, miners, sappers, etc. according to the
witness, A. Zhelyabuzhskii. In course of the summer of 1698 there came to
Moscow 700 foreign officers and military specialists.
Preparing also the technical basis of the reforms, the great embassy sent from
abroad tens of thousands of flintlock muskets with bayonets, a large collection
of cannon, mortars, and howitzers.
On order of Peter, while abroad, they
prepared drawings of artillery weapons by caliber, recipes for artillery
powder, studied military administration and tactics and tactical organization
of each separate arm of service. For example V. Korchmin on Peter's orders went
to Berlin and made a list of all the ranks in the army from field-marshal to
ensign, how much each received in pay and what uniforms and allowances the
soldiers received. James Bruce sent Peter from England a description of the
English ranks in the artillery in war and peace and how much they were paid.
The preparations concerned themselves with all aspects of military affairs.
Peter began the army reforms with reorganization of the main arm of the forces,
the infantry. New publications and archival material show how well thought out
and solidly grounded was the decision made by Peter. In 1698-99 Peter, Weide,
and A. Golovin worked out on the basis of Russian experience the rules of the
so-called "Regulations of Weide", the first manual of field
formations for the regular infantry. In this manner into the army was
introduced a unified regulation for formations. This was an important step on
the way to train the regular army.
The "Regulations of Weide" of 1696 was never adopted for the training
of the army and was actually a wide ranging report of Weide to Peter on the
military customs of various states of Europe with critical observations of the
author. This regulation document was printed in 1841. The materials of Weide
were used in the preparation of the first regulations.
Discarding the complicated manual of arms and formation drills of the western
European states described in the report of Weide, Peter adopted for the Russian
infantry only those drill rules that were essential for the preparation of
officers and men for battle; a simple doubling by ranks and by files, a manual
of arms for the musket and with the bayonet, and a manual for the grenade. All
these manuals of arms, drill maneuvers, and commands for the Russian army were
simple and clear. They envisaged two levels of instruction of the soldiers, the
recruit and the old soldier. Thus for instance loading was accomplished in 12
movements, but for those in training there were provided a 'quick load' method
of three movements, , "load', 'aim' 'fire' .
The drill manual of 1699 disproves the legend that the Russian infantry under
Peter was armed until 1721 with pikes. It not only envisaged action with the
bayonet but carried out a deep change in the existing European rule of passive,
only for defense from cavalry, user of the bayonet, demanding an active
employment of the bayonet in hand-to-hand battle. This at first glance in an
unimportant circumstance in reality it reflects the belief of Peter in the
soldiers and in their initiative and energy in battle.
Peter adopted the newest methods of battlefield firing by the infantry, only
just adopted by the best armies in Europe, in the line formations in six ranks.
The obsolete formation of the streltzi of deep mass in twelve or more ranks was
Widespread preparation of the line infantry officers from the dvoriani preceded
the recruitment of the regular infantry at the end of 1699. At least half the
foreign officers turned out to be unsuitable for service. many did no know how
to use the musket. General Golovin complained to Peter about them when he was
trying to train the officers in the new drills. In connection with this Golovin
threw out 150 of them and kept 150 in training.
The drill regulations of Peter's army were worked out in final form and twice
printed in Moscow in 1700. The complete text including Peter's personal
additions is collated in the notebook of Captain P. Petrov 1714 in the
Department of Manuscripts of the Lenin Library. In the spring of 1699 in the
training of the infantry formations about 300 Russian dvoriani were enlisted
who took a course of training according to the new articles and were spread out
among the officers of the three infantry divisions; A. Golovin, N. Repnin and
At the same time for the training of
the officers in fundamentals there was created the first group of
"sergeants in young years", "Young dragoons" in the first
two dragoon regiments and for the preparation of artillerists - a bombardier
school in the Preobrazhenski Regiment. Peter personally attended to the
education of the officers and taught the bombardiers theory and practice. The
young officer corps sergeants, privates 1st class, junior ensigns, corporals,
quartermaster sergeants, et cetera were selected from the ranks of the
privates. The regiments of the regular army being formed in 1699 - 1700
consisted of 12 companies each; they were equipped and armed completely at the
expense of the government with fusils with bayonets.
Contrary to the assertions of military historians, the recruit system was not
in use in 1699. In the first direct regular force in 1699 Peter recruited
10,727 "datochnki people" and 11,787 volunteers of all ranks. In it
the owners were allowed to substitute for a "datochnki person" a
money tax of 11 rubles per man. This gave Peter 50,055 rubles. The cavalry was
formed in the old way of the dvoriani, who could exchange their personal
service for a money payment also. However the centralized recruitment for
infantry in 1699-1700 for permanent service in the army prepared the way for
the change over to the recruit system put into practice in 1705.
Peter understood that for the formation of a new army it was insufficient only
to train and arm soldiers, one had to instill in them the spirit of the
"regular" discipline. With this objective in mind he in 1700 put into
the regulations brief guiding rules and duties for the soldier and officer;
this "infantry company ranks" and "Articles on how the soldier
must live and conduct himself in formation and in camp" "Company
ranks" (that means junior officers who were in the companies) demanded of
the officers that "they teach the soldiers in ranks on foot, and
marksmanship, and have concern for the soldiers and study military affairs and
be models for the subordinates - be good life and brave heart." In battle
the officers "must quickly be cut to pieces rather than let anyone take
the flag and never leave the flag because the entire company acts according to
the flag". "Company ranks" were brought up in the feeling of
responsibility of "commanding personnel" for their subunits.
"Company ranks" delivered a blow to the old traditions of the feudal
hierarchy. Only trained and experienced people could obtain higher ranks. A
sergeant had to serve first as a private and know the private's duties. Later,
Peter forbade the promotion of dvoriani to officers if they didn't know the
enlisted men's jobs and had not served as EM in the guards.
The war was not only the greatest
test of all the strength of the Russian state, but also a battle school of its
young regular army. In the Northern War the Russian army confronted an army
that was regular, and tested in battle, having long traditions of being
"regulars" and the honor of being undefeated, and headed by talented
leaders and experienced generals. At the same time the Russian army was going
through the reorganization and had not yet formed itself as a regular army.
Peter himself considered the basic reason for the defeat at Narva on 19
November, 1700 to be "lack of skill" of his regiments, which until
Narva had never seen the field of battle or contested with regular forces.
Setting himself the mission of giving the troops skill in regular battle, Peter
in the years just after Narva decided a series of large military-organizational
questions, which day by day made the organizational structure more modern and
improved the technical and tactical skill of the army. Peter used to the
maximum in this the favorable international and military circumstances of the
period. In the summer of 1702 Peter wrote Boris Sheremetev that the War of the
Spanish Succession was giving them the opportunity to prepare while the Swedes
were in Poland and could not return.
Soon after Narva the pomestie-dvoriani cavalry was eliminated. It had yet again
shown its military unfitness in the battle. Instead of it the regular cavalry
of dragoon model was created. In the course of the winter 1700-1701 the Golden
Palace, headed by B. A. Golitsin, conducted in 88 towns an enrollment of
lancers, reiters and igkhormuses collecting 11,147 for service and by spring of
1710 they had formed 9 dragoon regiments of 10 companies each. The dragoons
were supplied with horses and equipment at state expense and armed with fusils
with bayonets, a pair of pistols with holsters, and sabers.
From 1702 the dragoon regiments were filled with "datochnki people"
and from 1705 with recruits also. This led to a fundamental change in the
social composition of the mass of privates in the cavalry. The officer corps of
the dragoon regiments was almost exclusively Russian; in 1702 in the 10 dragoon
regiments commanders there were only two foreigners and of 10 majors one
foreigner, all company officers (329) and sergeants (901) were Russians. The
dragoons only gradually possessed the skill of line tactics in battle. Still in
1704 in an unlucky incident at Mur-miri according to the words of Peter.....
Peter forbad until the victory at Kalisha in 1706 the mounted attack with cold
weapons, adopting in the first time musket fire from the mounted formation, and
trained his dragoons in action "front to front" demanding that they
not approach the enemy too closely until the enemy was broken and retreating,
and they were to advance slowly step by step to prevent disorder and counter
In their first performance in battle
the dragoons revealed a higher level of quality than that of the old dvoriani
horse. The systematic accumulation of military experience in battles with the
regular cavalry of the enemy led to the sharp change in the tactics of the
Russian dragoons after 1706. The dragoons combined a pistol and fusil fire with
a decisive attack with cold weapons. In 1701-02 in the dragoon regiments were
formed the first in military history light horse artillery and in 1704 one
grenadier company was formed per regiment. Thus, by means of manning and
support, by character of armament and tactics the Russian cavalry became during
Peter's reign a regular cavalry.
At Narva the Swedes captured all the Russian artillery. The greater part of
this armament was cast in the middle 17th century and some of it even by Ivan
IV. The military situation required a rapid reformation of the artillery. Peter
wrote Vinius on 8 April, 1701 to make new artillery as fast as possible. Thanks
to the preparatory measures of 1697-1700 the mission of supply of the army with
artillery and ammunition was accomplished amazingly fast. This was not simply a
renewal but a complete reconstruction of the artillery on a new technical and
Peter appreciated the great importance of artillery. It is well known that
already in 1697 he went to Konigsberg and took the theoretical and practical
course in artillery and received an official diploma - "artillery master
and artist". Peter gave the artillery engineers working in the Artillery
Office special technical instructions. In constructing the new artillery Peter
used the technical experience of the Russian artillery industry. Then new
cannon were made generally by the Russian masters such as Jacob Dubin, Karl
Osipovich, Ivan Matorin, Simon Leonteev, and Login Zhakharev.
At the head of the artillery production Peter placed technically educated
people, A. Vinius and James Bruce. Foreign engineers were also employed. In May
1701 Peter told Vinius that the engineers would be in the artillery In the same
year in Moscow was founded the first in Russia artillery school in which there
were 180 participants and then an artillery laboratory in the Preobrazhenski
village, where J. Goshke and V. Korchmin and others worked.
As a result of these measures the
technical data was obtained and production of three types of artillery was
begun (cannon, mortars and howitzers). They were of specified calibers. By the
end of 1701 they had cast 243 cannon, 12 mortars and 13 howitzers. In 1702 they
cast light field howitzers for the dragoon regiments. On 6 February 1702 Boris
Sheremetev said that all dragoon regiments should have their howitzers.
Peter said do it. In the following year for the armament of 9 dragoon regiments
there were 24 howitzers and a small collection of small mortars. At this time
the Russian artillery began to use canister. From 1702 the regimental and field
artillery was supplied with "quick firing" ammunition wagons
(caissons). All this many times improved the fire power and mobility of the
Russian artillery and placed it at the end of the reforms on a higher level
than the artillery of any other European power.
Mastering the achievements of the leading western artillery technique Peter did
not form, however, his artillery on the western model, but creatively decided
the problem of technical reconstruction, reorganization, and improvement of the
tactical art of the artillery. In Peter's notebooks for 1701-02 one meets
laconic notes illuminating the creation of new ideas in the area of tactical
employment of artillery. He concerned himself with training artillerists in
achieving more rapid fire with means of moving guns forward more rapidly; to
fire accurately, quickly, to use the maneuverability of the cannon, in mutually
coordinated action with the infantry and cavalry, and for this to speed up its
mobility, all these were the ideas of Peter accomplished by him in the course
of the reforms.
The further success of the Russian artillery is connected with the rapid growth
of the iron-making industry. The iron industry was located in the Urals,
Lipetski and Olonetski regions, and had a high quality iron. It conducted a
complete revolution in artillery production in Russia and predetermined the
success of the Petrine military reforms. Under Peter disappeared the dependence
of artillery production on the presence of deposits of copper and dependence on
imported artillery pieces from western Europe. In the fall of 1702 the first
cannon made of Ural iron were cast. Thus began a massive production of
"Siberian" iron cannon, mortars and howitzers which already by 1703
received a general recognition. At the Olonetski factory in 1703 were prepared
100 cannon with thousands of cannon balls and canisters. In this year the war
in Ingermandland, Peter noted in his book of the models of Russian cannon made
in Siberia like those of the Pushkari yard and of models of canister 24 and 12.
In the first year of the war the artillery was divided into light regimental,
field, siege, and garrison. In 1701 the first artillery regiment was formed
with companies of cannoneers, bombardiers, pioneers and engineer-sappers, and
with groups of cannon, gun carriage and other masters. Finally, in 1705 the
servants in the artillery supply trains were changed from residents in the
areas, on order of Peter, to soldiers from the recruits. The analogous measure
in the West was accomplished only in the middle 18th century.
The new artillery achieved its
excellent quality in the first field battle with the Swedes. At the siege of
Noteburg the artillery according to Peter, fulfilled all its missions
excellently. In 1705 Ch. Witworth told the English government that the
artillery in Russia is at the present time notably well formed.... At the siege
of Narva they had performed with cannon and mortars so knowledgably that field
marshal Ogilive said he had not met any so good in any other people.
In the first period of the reforms 1700 - 1705, was laid the beginning of the
formation of the general staff of the Russian army. After the victory at
Eristfere, Boris Sheremetev was promoted to field marshal. In 1702 into the
army were appointed general-quartermaster Prince A. Shakhovskii,
general-auditor C. M. Khroshchov, general-gevaldieger K. S. Titov,
general-clerk and 3 general adjutants. Into the army came a new system of
encouragement, rewarding with orders and medals, and promotion in rank for
battle service. In 1704 the infantry regiments were reformed into 9 company
units (8 fusiler companies and 1 grenadier). Collecting the companies into a
battalion raised maneuverability and the creation of the grenadier company
strengthened the firepower of the infantry.
In the same years Peter systematically inculcated the army in the rudiments of
correct "regular" tactics; the line of battle formation of infantry
and cavalry, designation of reserves, etc. He especially strengthened
discipline and increased tactical mutual action of the arms of service.
Realizing the necessity to find the enemy and have good reconnaissance, Peter
already in those years had the idea of the "korvolanta" According to
the Regulations of 1716 the "korvolant" was a light horse corps
created out of the dragoons, mounted infantry and light artillery. The
classical model for the organization and action of the 'korvolant" in
Peter's army was the operation which destroyed the Swedes at Lesna in 1708. He
organized in 1702-04 raiding detachments and later a brigade of dragoon cavalry
strengthened with mounted infantry and light artillery. In siege operations in
1701-05 at Noteburg, Nienshants, Dorpat, and Narva the Russian army learned
military engineering art (skill) connecting engineer methods with ;powerful
artillery preparations and decisive assaults. Thus step by step the
organizations , armament, and tactics of the regular army were made more
In 1705-06 the war entered a new phase. If until then the main successes of the
Russians had been achieved at sieges and the operations of the field army were
limited by the mission of covering and supporting siege operations, then the
remaining main mission of the war had to be to decide the tactical skill of the
field army. This period conclusively was determined in connection with the
fundamental change in the strategic situation, with the conclusion of the
Altranshtadski peace between Charles and Avgustus. The new situation did not
come as a surprise. The victory of Menshikov at Kalishe showed Charles the
strength of the Russian army.
In the 5 years since the start of the
war the regular organization had been strengthened, the first achievements had
been achieved in rearming the army with modern artillery and firearms. All
three arms of service had obtained some experience in military cooperation. In
the military operations of 1700-1705 the army laid the foundation for using the
line tactics, the growth of mobility and its technical and transport capability
(pontoon park, river flotilla, engineer-sappers), strengthening of discipline
and moral status. The danger of an invasion by Charles made the order of the
day the mission of increasing the army and deciding the problem of the manning
of the army.
The extraordinary methods of obtaining replacements put in operation in 1700
(calling up "datochnki", volunteers, polovovniki) were reflected in
the army and placed additional load on the military apparatus. In 1704 the
government tried to conduct a general registration and induction of dvoriani
and peasants but in the conditions of war time these large measures turned out
unsuccessfully. In 1705 a new military situation demanded rapid change over to
a system of periodic required conscripttion into the army in order to prepare
the trained reserves. According to the Ukase of 20 Feb. 1705 the first
conscription of recruits was conducted in all towns and useds on the basis of
one man per 20 households.
The change over to recruit conscriptions gave a sharp increase to the number of
conscripts. On the average each conscription netted 30-35,000 men and a total
in the years 1705-1709 of 167,895 men and fully met the requirements of the
army for enlisted men.
The conscription of recruits was in quantity a new phenomena in comparison with
the recruitment of "datochnki people" in the 17th century. In
distinction from the latter the recruit system was a method of periodically
replacement for the regular army for permanent (lifetime) service. The recruits
arrived at the stations as soldiers and left them as privates first class or
corporals. In this manner in the course of recruitment already before they
reached their units the recruits received the beginnings of a military
organization (squad) and an elementary training in drill, etc.
The change over to the recruit system had a huge importance for the
strengthening of the Russian army and was of the most important factor
determining its success in the 18th century. Not one state in Europe before the
Napoleonic wars was able to create this radical and successful answer to the
problem of replacements for the army on the principle of national military
required service as Peter was able to do. More complex was the supply of the
army with officers. After Narva Peter by manifesto of 1702 invited foreigners
with a wide open door to enter the Russian army. The expense of this article in
1703-4 was about 60,000 rubles. However this call was made due to the
requirements of the military situation and turned out in essence to be the last
in the history of the Russian army. The training of officers in military
schools and in the guards regiments, the growth of the number of cadre officers
on active service already in 1705-06 actually enabled the army to drop the
system of hiring foreigners as officers.
In February 1705 Peter issued an ukase sharply increasing the demands placed on
foreigners and limiting the hiring of foreign officers. When General Hunter
offered his services to Russia, Peter demanded that .
in case of his coming on duty in the
Russian army he would subordinate himself to the Russian commander-in-chief and
not act like in his time Ogilive had, who did not want to take advice but
desired like a teacher to his pupils to act toward the Russians. Peter canceled
the special legal articles governing foreigners and made general ones for the
entire army. During the years of the war the Russian generals and military
commanders grew; field marshal Boris Sheremetev; commander of the dragoon army,
A. Menshikov, division commanders N. Repnin, M. Golitsin , C. Kropotov, A.
Golovin, A. Apraksin, Igiateva and others. In 1706 besides Alart, in the
Russian army there was not left a single hired general. To Peter and the
Russian general staff belonged the strategic and tactical plan of conduct of
the war in connection with the invasion of Charles and the brilliant
accomplishment of the plan, ending with the defeat of the Swedes. As the table
of the divisions of 1708 witnesses the army was fully staffed with officers
notwithstanding that by that time its numbers had greatly increased. The Ukases
of Peter in 1707 and 1714 established the order for promotion of officers grade
by grade according to the observation of senior officers. The basis for
promotions could be long time correct service, or military education and battle
service. Dvoriani in order to receive officer's rank had to serve as soldiers
in the guards. The custom of some large states of promoting officers not by
capability but by seniority of service, Peter considered not good and damaging
to the state's interests.. According to the military regulations of 1716
officers having received military education would be promoted ahead. In one of
his personal ukases Peter demanded from officers that they study military
engineer science, to this ukase was included the program he devised of engineer
needs which included the construction of field entrenchments. Peter in a series
of personal ukases demanded of the senior commanders that they test the
knowledge and experience of the officers in the field. Peter's ukases
determined the place of the officers in battle and demanded of them to show
initiative and finally, Peter demanded of the officer that they have skill.
Not in another army in Europe was
there such so persistently and decisively the new relation to the soldiers as
the bearers of military force and traditions of the army as was now done in the
ukazes of Peter and his Military Regulations. Peter had the idea that the
training of the recruit must be different from the training of the old soldier.
Peter gave a program for this training which was accomplished already in the
difficult conditions of 1707-08, when he conducted inspections and training of
entire divisions. In 1706-09 the rearmament of the army was accomplished,
giving them flintlock weapons and at Peter's initiative the bayonet was
replaced. In these years native production of firearms with bayonets in Tula,
Ustuzhn, Pavlov, and Olonts reached 15-20,000 a year. In 1710-11 production
increased to 40,000 a year. Major reforms in armaments affairs was a change to
production of artillery of only specified calibers. Peter complained that the
artillery made at Moscow and Tula varied in caliber and did not match the
ammunition bought in Holland resulting in many cannon exploding. For this
reason he demanded attention to standardization of calibers and quality control
of production. Production of ammunition was also increased to reduce dependence
on foreign supplies, to insure matching of ammunition and cannon, and because
of Swedish attempts to blockade imports.
By 1708 the army was fully supplied with muskets with bayonets and socket
bayonets. In the 20 regiment army of Sheremetev in the fall of 1708 they had
21,9801 fusils with 17,359 bayonets and socket bayonets. Some regiments such as
the Preobrazhenski, Shlisselburgski, Moscovski and Belogorodski were completely
armed with socket bayonets. (The first models of bayonet were placed in the
barrel of the fusil preventing it from firing - the later models or socket
bayonet fitted outside the barrel).
Peter tested various forms of bayonet and used the three-sided model. In these
years the artillery reforms were also completed. A new type of field and
regimental weapons according to the designs of Peter and V. Korchmin were made.
Peter strove to lighten the cannon. In his personal cabinet papers are copies
of drawings, sketches, and specifications that he personally made up.
The picture of military technical reorganization under Peter would not be
complete without mentioning his attempts at many inventions such as rifled
barrels, breach loading cannon, cannon with pointed cylindrical shells, a
system of rapid firing cannon, cannon with two mortars mounted on one carriage,
incendiary shells, and illuminating rockets, hand mortars and cartridges for
The Russian military engineers and technicians under Peter obtained independent
and original answers to a series of difficult problems on military technics.
The development of military industry and growth of military technical culture
were decisive factors in determining the successful reorganization of the army.
During the period before Poltava the army received its final administrative and
tactical organization, strengthened in the military Ustav of 1716 which fully
matched contemporary military art. In 1706 - 1707 the grenadier companies were
united into grenadier battalions. The line regiments then had 8 fusilier
companies. The dragoon regiments were divided into 5 squadrons of 200 men each.
The grenadier companies in the dragoon regiments were united into three
separate horse grenadier regiments. In 1708 from the separate infantry
grenadier battalions were created 3 grenadier regiments, one per division.
According to the ukase of Peter's the grenadiers were selected from among the
vary best recruits. New for the Russian army type of infantry was organized
armed and trained in 2 or 3 years. By its firepower and shock action the
grenadier brought greater power to the battle order and gave Peter in battle a
strong weapon. Each grenadier was armed with the fusil with socket bayonet,
hand grenades and some had hand mortars. The grenadier regiments has also light
regimental artillery (for example the grenadier regiment in Repnin's division
had 12 rifled cannon.)
Beginning in 1705-6 the infantry and dragoons regiments were united into
brigades and into divisions. The infantry changed from 6 ranks - the formation
used at the beginning of the reform - to the more effective and greater
firepower producing 4 rank formation. This change was accomplished on the
personal order of Peter. There is a direct reference of this in the manuscript
of the Military relations in the Cabinet papers. The dragoon regiments were
united into a separate mounted army commanded by Menshikov. This was done due
to considerations of the tactical and strategic mobility of this arm of
Leadership in the army was according
to the principle of unity of command. In 1706 Peter made Field Marshal Boris
Sheremetev the supreme commander. Ogilive was ordered to be under the command
of the first Russian field marshal. The dislike of Ogilive to subordinate
himself to the field marshal was one of the reasons for separating him from the
army after the Grodnin operation. Similar demands Peter made on the brigade
commanders. Thus in July 1707 he wrote Baurer that although he had a special
corps he had to listen to the advice of General Repnin.
Strengthening of unity of command
demanded without question subordination of the junior commanders to the senior.
Peter considered it essential for the working out of plans and separate
operations to convene a military council. Decision of the council at Zholkiev
at the end of 1706 and at Chashinkakh, summer 1708, showed in all its
brilliance the growth of the Russian military art. The councils were permanent
consultative organs under the commander and not binding on the initiative of
the generals and officers in the solving of military problems. Peter not once
told the generals that military affairs don't bind in one single level order,
and therefor in military practice it is necessary to lead according to the
circumstances and times and not be bound to predetermined solutions. Advising
the generals to take some military action or other Peter usually finished his
ukases with the words.....
In the circumstance of the strengthening of the army the demands on the
commanders were sharply increased. For the unsuccessful action at Golovchin the
division commander, N. Repnin, was called before a military court and sentenced
to death for his actions. Repnin was accused because in his division there was
no discipline, there was confusion and disorder in the withdrawal of the
division. Repnin turned out to be insufficiently prudent, lacking foresight. He
did not conduct fire correctly by ranks and platoons but improperly he did not
command the pickets, and did not make entrenchments in the position occupied by
the division and he deserted his post. The
Repnin affair has a huge educational significance and played a great role in
strengthening discipline and in the raising of the feeling of responsibility of
the generals and officers for conduct of military operations.
The regular order gradually penetrated all the internal life of the army. In
1708 at Lesna and Poltava the Russian army showed itself to be formed and
disciplined, organized with correctly functioning general staff, a finalized
tactical and administrative organization with coordinated conduct of all arms
and services. For the first time in its history the Russian army was controlled
by a system of daily commands. The commands designated inspections and training
of units, meetings from one unit to another, designated the composition and
commanders of separate units for operations. The orders also gave it tactical
dispositions such as "in a battle between each battalion there should be a
place to implace two cannon".
The daily orders announced throughout
the entire army had a great educational and disciplining influence on the
officers as well as the enlisted men. Besides the orders issued from above
there was instituted a daily report of commanders of units to their higher
commander from the company, battalion, regiment, division, et cetera. These
reports and tables of attendance from 1708 day by day show that in the period
of the invasion of Charles the young Russian army, retiring into the depth of
the country, kept its order and discipline. Peter demanded that the commanders
instill in the soldiers a spirit of defense of the country and discipline and
he paid attention to morale. After the failure of Sheremetev in the battle of
Murmiz, Peter wrote the field marshal to not lose spirit, but keep up morale of
the men. In case of success Peter rewarded the outstanding men with medals and
rewards but at the same time he punished deserters and cowards. The latter
could only regain favor by outstanding conduct in battle.
The military regulations demanded of the commanders that they draw to
themselves the hearts of the entire army, officers and men. They must look
after the men, before battle they must personally check the troops and instill
bravery. The commanding generals must be demanding of the subordinates and
nothing is worse than a weak command. The importance of strict discipline,
Peter explained, in his regulations with the example of children 'without
punishment and fear of their elders, who habitually....
On the morale of the army on the eve of the Poltava battle we can judge from
the tables of 1708 which show the numbers of deserters at a minimum. According
to the data the number of deserters was very low. This was not accidental.
Confidence was strengthened and supported by a series of measures especially
the idea of military duty for the fatherland and feelings of military
comradeship. In 1708 Peter found a successful form of uniting these ideas with
the strongly developing in the Russian soldiers feeling of territory, the
regiments were renamed according to the provinces and the personal complement
of each was selected from the inhabitants of one locality.
The system of reward, the personal attention of Peter before battle, the
training and inspections, popularity of commanders, in the army feeling of
military duty, and parallel with this the strict demands of discipline based
not on pedantic and incomprehensible parade ground formations, developing in
soldiers all feelings of humanity, ideas of military comradeship, and
confidence and belief in duty to the country; all this created a special
atmosphere in the army and without doubt strengthened its ranks.
The existing regular organization
developed in the course of the war was strengthened by the military regulations
of 1716. The ideas of Bobrovski and others that the regulation was just a copy
of foreign regulations is not correct. Peter made use of the military
regulations and rules of other countries. But the manuscript copy of the
regulations kept in the Cabinet records shows that Peter was the author of the
basic part of the regulations, books on duties of the generals, and book 3 on
exercises. The regulations of 1716 shows the peculiarity of the Russian regular
military art and the military ideas of Peter himself; he used the military
experience of the Russian regular army obtained by it in the course of the war.
The basic sources of the regulations of 1716 are the first drill formations and
regulations issued by Peter in 1699 - 1709, the "Ulozhenia" of
Sheremetev, the "articles short" of Menshikov, the
"regulations" of 1707, the drill regulations of 1700, and even the
personal orders and instructions of Peter.
The organizational and tactical
situation of the regulations enhanced the idea of tactical cooperation of the
three arms of service. The basis aspect of the strategic and tactical ideas of
Peter, realism, subordination of tactical rules to the demands of the real
situation "events and time" in the characteristic of his leadership.