Tag Archives: Pavel Engelhardt

The Story of Pavel Engelhardt

In 1912, a series of cards depicting scenes from the 1812 campaign were placed inside of Russian candy boxes in honor of the 100th anniversary of the invasion.  Alexey Temnikov sent me images of the cards and translated the phrases on them as well.  I will be using the cards in posts where appropriate, but one card raised a question.

Engelhardt’s feat
1912 Commemorative Russian Card

The card showed a civilian, lifting his blindfold before a firing squad.  I assumed it was another scene of shooting incendiaries in Moscow, but there was already a card depicting this.  The translation came back as “feat Engelhardt.”  Alexey wrote that Engelhardt was a landowner near Smolensk.  A search of the internet (the English version) for the story behind this scene came up empty, but did confirm an Engelhardt family around Smolensk.

Alexey was kind enough to send me a link to the Russian version of Wikipedia which has the following account [I’ve made a few changes to smooth out the translation done by my browser from Russian to English]:

Paul Engelhardt was born in 1774 to a family of nobles from Porechsky district of Smolensk province. He studied in the Land Cadet Corps, from which he graduated in 1787 with the rank of lieutenant, after which he served in the Russian Army. [He achieved] the rank of lieutenant colonel, [and] retired.

When in 1812 the French troops captured Smolensk, Engelhardt, together with several other armed peasants and landlords, organized a guerrilla army, which began to attack enemy units. Engelhardt was personally involved in the attacks on the enemy troops [and] in clashes personally killed 24 French. [He was turned over by his serfs to the] French. [On] October 3, 1812 a French military court sentenced [him] to death. The French tried to persuade Engelhardt to cooperate and offered him the rank of colonel in Napoleon’s army, but he refused.

On October 15, 1812 Engelhardt was shot at the gate Molohovskih Smolensk fortress wall (now defunct).  According to eyewitnesses, he stopped the French from reading his sentence before the execution, saying “… So as not to see more of the devastation of my country and the oppression of my countrymen.”  He forbid [the French] from blindfolding him and said, “Get out! No one had seen death, [but] I will see her,” said goodbye to colleagues and ordered [the firing squad] to shoot. Initially, the French shot him in the leg, promising to cancel the execution [and heal him if he agreed to come] over to their side, but he again refused. Then [he was] given a volley of 18 charges, two of which were in the chest and one in the stomach. Engelhardt was [still] alive. One of the French soldiers [then] killed him with a shot to the head. [On] October 24 at the same location was shot another member of the partisan movement – Semyon Ivanovich Shubin.

Commemorative card showing
the Englehardt monument
at the beginning of the 20th century

Engelhardt’s feat was immortalized on a marble slab in the church of the 1st Cadet Corps, where he trained. Russian Emperor Alexander I provide [the] Engelhardt [family an] annual pension. In 1833, Nicholas I gave money for the construction of [a] monument [to] Engelhardt. In 1835, a monument was erected on the site of his death. The monument was destroyed by the Soviet government. Currently, the house number 2 Dzerzhinsky Street, next to the Square of Heroes Memorial, [has] a memorial plaque on the execution Engelhardt.

Thank you to Alexey Temnikov for all of his help in providing the original 1912 candy card image, translation of the phrases on the cards and links to information about Engelhardt.

Note:  Other translations from Russian for the word “feat” are deed, exploit or act of bravery.

This is the link to the Russian website about Pavel Engelhardt which includes many links.  The site is in Russian, however, my computer gives me an option to translate the site into English.  Google also offers a translator.

By doing a search on Pavel Engelhardt in Russian (Павел Энгельгардт), I was able to get to this website which had information I used to verify/clarify/augment the information from the Russian Wikipedia site referenced above.

Note that I do not read or speak Russian.  All translating is done by either Alexey Temnikov or Google Translate.

Dates in this post are the modern, Gregorian dates. ~ Scott Armstrong