Semyonovskiy Leib-Guard

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Russian Army >> Semyonovskiy Leib-Guard

Origin and History

The regiment (initially a single company) was formed by Tsar Peter I in 1683 from the children regiments, the potiéchnyi used by the future tsar during his childhood to play the little war in the village of Semyonovskoye near Moscow, from which it received its name. In 1687 it became a regiment.

In 1695-1696 the regiment participated in the Azov campaigns.

By the beginning of the Northern War, the regiment had three battalions (for comparison, ordinary infantry regiments had two battalions, and the Preobrazhenskiy Leib-Guard had four).

In 1700, the regiment was named the Leib-Guard Semyonovskiy Regiment, it was one of the few uniformly dressed unit of the Russian army. It participated in all major battles of the Northern War, and in the campaign on the Prut (1711). The regiment suffered heavy losses, 17 officers and 454 lower ranks, in the Battle of Narva (1700), including the commander of the regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel P.V. Cunningham, while his deputy Major Y. Lobanov-Rostovsky fled from the battlefield. Having withstood all Swedish attacks, the regiment retreated in good order with weapons and colours. In honour of the regiment's steadfastness, an inscription with the date of the Battle of Narva appeared on the officers' gorget: 1700 NO19.

In 1722 and 1723, the regiment took part in the Russo-Persian War.

After the death of Peter I, the Semyonovskiy Regiment took an active part in the enthronement of Catherine I (1725) and in all subsequent palace coups. Realizing the exceptional position of the regiment, colonelcy of the regiment was occupied by all Russian emperors.

In addition to participating in palace intrigues, the regiment participated in combat operations: Russian-Turkish War of 1735-1739, and the Russian-Swedish War of 1741-1743.

At the beginning of the Seven Years War, the regiment (totalling 2,536 men including 327 non-combatants) consisted of:

  • Senior Staff (6 officers)
  • Junior staff
    • 3 officers
    • 265 non-combatants
  • 3 battalions, each of these battalions (totalling 16 officers, 664 men and 20 non-combatants) consisting of:
    • 4 musketeer companies (of 210 men each)
    • 1 grenadier company (200 men)
  • 1 artillery command with 8 x 3-pdrs guns (each including 2 x 6-pdr mortars affixed to its carriage) only six 3-pdr guns according to the work of the Grosser Generalstab

During the Seven Years' War, the successive nominal commanders of the regiment were:

During the Seven Years' War, the successive lieutenant-colonels of the regiment were:

During the Seven Years' War, the effective commanders of the regiment were:

  • from 1755: Prime Major Andrey Ivanovich Velyaminov-Zernov
  • from 1758: Lieutenant-Colonel Aleksandr Ivanovich Shuvalov
  • from 1760 to 1761: Second Major Maxim Dmitrievich Vyndomskiy
  • from 1762 to 1763: Second Major Lyubim Arsenyevich Chelishchev

Service during the War

During the entire Seven Years War, the regiment was stationed in Saint Petersburg.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1757 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer large black felt 1742 pattern tricorne laced white with 2 white pompoms and a white cockade with a golden link on the left, fastened with a golden button
Grenadier
Guard grenadier mitre in 1757 – Copyright Kronoskaf

black leather M1748 mitre with a brass badge embossed with an Imperial Eagle with the shield of the coat of arms of St. George, gold embroidery on the edge, skull-cap and neck guard, a crowned oval brass badge with the monogram of Elizabeth in a wreath at the back of the mitre, and 22 ostrich red plumes and 3 white ones

Neckstock white cravate
Coat dark green with 9 copper buttons on the right side on the chest and 2 copper buttons (one on each side) in the small of the back
Collar dark cornflower blue
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets, each with 3 copper buttons
Cuffs red without buttons (some authors illustrate 3 copper buttons but we followed Leonov)
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat long sleeved red waistcoat with 9 golden buttons and with 2 en patte d'oie pockets each with 3 golden buttons, small green collar and green cuffs
Breeches red
Gaiters black leather with 10 large buttons covered with black fabric (white for parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt elkskin leather
Waistbelt elkskin leather
Musketeer
Cartridge Box
black with a brass badge embossed with an Imperial Eagle and 4 triangles at the corners
Grenadier Bag
and Waist Pouch
black bag covered with a full-size brass plate embossed with the Imperial Eagle in a wreath and with 4 grenades on the edges; black waist pouch covered with full-size brass plate embossed with Elizabeth monogram surrounded by a grenade on both sides
Bayonet Scabbard brown leather
Scabbard black leather with copper fittings
Footgear black shoes


During winter, guard units wore knee-length dark green cape.

Rank and file were armed with a musket, a bayonet and a sabre.

NCOs

NCOs wore the same uniform as the privates, but were distinguished by gold laces on their tricorne, collar, and cuffs, more precisely:

  • sergeant: gold laces on cuffs (in 3 rows) and collar
  • fourrier, master-at-arms and sub-ensign: gold laces on cuffs (in 2 rows) and collar.
  • corporal: gold lace on collar

NCOs of grenadier companies were wearing the same mitre hats as rankers, but with another plumes combination: • sergeant: 15 white plumes on the top and mid, 15 red around

  • corporal, fourrier, master-at-arms and sub-ensign: 12 white plumes on the top and mid, 12 red around

Sergeants, master-at-arms and corporals still kept halberds.

Officers

Mikhail Dmitrievich Buturlin, officer of the Semyonovskiy Leib-Guard Regiment by Alexey Petrovich Antropov, 1763 - Source: Wikimedia Commons

Musketeer officers wore a gold laced tricorne. Grenadier officers wore a grenadier mitre hat, similar to that of grenadiers, but with a richer decorated front plate framed on the edge with a gilded rim, with 42 white ostrich plumes.

The coat of the officer was similar to that of rank and file, but with a gold laced green collar and lateral pockets closed by flaps en patte d’oie with 3 golden buttons each. Generally officers wore their coat with opened turnbacks. They also wore white cravates, green breeches and beige gloves.

Officers wore a gorget with the engraved X symbol surrounded by a wreath and with a crown on top, to its left was the number 1700, and to its right was 19NO (in memory of the Battle of Narva, which took place on November 19, 1700). For officers from ensign to captain, the gorget was silver-plated; for majors, lieutenant-colonel and colonel, it was gilded.

Officers carried a musket in action, and spontoons with crowned Elizabeth monogram or crowned oval with wreathed crucifixion of St. Andrew. They also carried a sword suspended to a leather belt covered with red or crimson velvet and edged with gold braid.

The cartridge box of the officer was edged in gold. Often the officers carried the gold silk sash over the left shoulder. Grenadier officers have the same grenade bags over the right shoulder as rankers, but made of gilded brass and with a leather belt covered with red or crimson velvet and edged with gold braid.

Leibkompanie’s officers carried shoulder-belt cartridge-boxes covered in red velvet, with EP and weapons and grenades trophies embroidered on the lapel, bandoleer were made in gilt mail. Similarly the lyadunka was in red velvet, lined by a golden edge, trophies and grenades. Officers of other companies had a red leather cover to protect and decorate the patronna sumka.

The saddlecloth and holsters were red with round posterior corner, edged with one or two gold stripes (the inner stripe broader then the outer), as rank distinction. EPI ciphers on the corner and holsters. Officers wore a black and yellow (higher ranks - black and gold) silk sash.

Musicians

Semyonovskiy Guard Regimental Musician (Oboist) Uniform in 1757 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Semyonovskiy Guard Company Musician (Drummer or Fifer) Uniform in 1757 - Copyright Kronoskaf

Company musicians (drummers and fifers) wore the same uniform as privates with swallow nests on shoulders and braids on cuffs, pockets and collar.

Regimental musicians (oboists) wore the same uniform as privates with braids on cuffs, pockets and collar. Buttonholes and buttons were laced. Each sleeve was decorated with four chevrons with two wide drummer laces on each side.

The Drum Major had a gold edge on his tricorne, and gold braids on cuffs and collar.

Drums were made of copper, the state coat of arms (Imperial Eagle) was engraved in the front, bordered in red and green.

Important notice: Even though our illustrations depict yellow laces, the colour of the braids on the uniforms of the musicians according to Zvegintsov were red with yellow bordered “XXXX” in the middle.

Since 1741, all guard musicians also had red ceremonial uniforms, similar to ordinary ones, but with gold laces.

Colours

The flags were mounted on a 3,35 m. white wooden pole. The three Guard regiments had flags of similar design. However, the distinctive colour of each regiment (dark cornflower blue in the case of Semyonovskiy) was used on the outer border and the part wrapped around the flagpole.

Moreover, the Colonel colour seems to have more gilding than the Ordonnance colour.

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Regimental Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf

А fourrier also had a fanion (a small company flag), which was made of white silk bordered with a golden braid. On one side was painted the Imperial Eagle, on the other the monogram of Elizabeth surrounded by a wreath. On both sides, the abbreviated name of the regiment (Л.Г.С.П) was on the bottom left, with the company number (1 РО.; 2 РО.; etc.) on the bottom right in the same way.

References

Kartsov, P.P.: History of the Leib-Guard Semyonovskiy Regiment. 1685-1854

Dirin, P.P.: History of the Leib-Guard Semyonovskiy Regiment

Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary: Article ‘Semyonovskiy Leib-Guard Regiment’

Funcken, L. and F., Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin, 1902, Anlage 1

Pengel and Hurt, Russian Infantry of the Seven Years War, Birmingham, 1976

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756-1763, hrsg. von der KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg, überarb. u. aktual. Neuauflage 1989

Viskovatov, A. V., Historical Description of the Clothing and Arms of the Russian Army, vol. 3, Petersburg: 1900

Acknowledgements

Carlo Bessolo for the initial description of the uniforms

Daniel Milekhin for a major update of the article