14 (25) September 1771, in St. Petersburg, was born Nikolay Raevsky, Russian commander, hero of the Patriotic War of 1812, General of Cavalry (1813), a member of the State Council of the Russian Empire (1826), cousin of Lieutenant-General D. Davydov.
Raevsky came from an old noble family, and, according to the custom of those years, at the age of three was enlisted for military service in the Life Guards Preobrazhensky Regiment. In 1786 he received the rank of ensign and began active military service in the army of Field Marshal General Grigory Potyomkin. During the service Raevsky took part in the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-1791 and the Polish campaign in 1792, but then was promoted to colonel, earning his first combat award - the Order of St. George 4th class and the Order of St. Vladimir 4th class. From 1794 Raevsky commanded the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment, which took part in the hostilities in the Caucasus.
During the reign of Emperor Paul I, Raevsky was dismissed. Under Alexander I, he was invited to rejoin the service, this time in the rank of major general, but he refused it. In 1807, Raevsky again donned his uniforms, and distinguished himself in command of a brigade of Chasseurs at the vanguard under the command of Prince P. I. Bagration. In 1808 he was promoted to lieutenant general, successfully commanded different divisions during the Russian-Swedish war of 1808-1809 and in the Balkan theater of war with the Turks. Before the beginning of the Great Patriotic War of 1812 he was appointed commander of the 7th Infantry Corps, part of the 2nd Western Army.
In 1812, Raevsky, commanding the 26th Division of Bagration army, delayed onset of the French troops. Near Smolensk the general during 24 hours had been defending the city against the superior forces of the enemy. During the Battle of Borodino, Raevsky and his corps was on the right flank of the left wing of the Russian army, against which were directed almost all the French forces. Brilliant defense of the redoubt, later named after him, gave the Russian general a solid reputation. Near Maloyaroslavets together with General D. S. Dokhturov, Raevsky successfully defended the Kaluga road, and in the battle near the village of Krasnoye contributed much to the final defeat of the army of Napoleon Bonaparte.
In foreign campaigns of 1813-14Raevsky commanded the Grenadier Corps, was wounded in the battle of Leipzig, and at the same time was promoted to the rank of general of cavalry, having completed his military path beneath the walls of Paris. After the end of hostilities, General commanded the 4th Infantry Corps.
In autumn 1824 Raevsky, on his own petition, was dismissed on leave "to cure disease." The next year was the saddest one in the life of the general. First his mother, Ekaterina, died and in December, after an uprising at the Senate Square, three persons of his family were arrested at once: his brother Basil Raevsky and his daughters’ husbands – M. F. Orlov and S. G. Volkonsky. All of them were expelled from the capital. Raevsky’s sons, Alexander and Nikolai, were also involved into the investigation of the Decembrists’s case, but then were acquitted. At the end of 1826 the general said last good-byes to his daughter Mary, who went to Siberia to stay with her exiled husband.
Nikolai Raevsky died 16 (28) September, 1829 in the village of Boltyshka, Chigirinsky County, Kiev province, and was buried in the family vault in the village of Razumovka. On his tombstone is inscribed: "He was a Russian shield in Smolensk, and a sword in Paris."
"Letters" by General Raevsky, which he wrote to his uncle, Earl A. Samoilov, are a valuable source for the history of the Patriotic War of 1812. In addition to biographical information about the author, the "Letters" contain many interesting details about the battles in which he participated as a commander.
Lit.: Борисевич А. Т. Генерал от кавалерии Николай Николаевич Раевский (историко-биографический очерк). СПб., 1912; Епанчин Ю. Л. Николай Николаевич Раевский (1771-1829). Жизнь. Деятельность. Личность: дис. … к. и. н. Самара, 1996; Иванов И. Герой Отечественной войны 1812 года: (К 200-летию со дня рождения ген. Н. Н. Раевского) // Военно-исторический журнал. 1971. № 9; Из записок Н. Н. Раевского // Смена. М., 1987. № 17; Из писем Н. Н. Раевского периода Отечественной войны 1812 г. // Сибирские огни. 1958. № 7; Орлов Н. М. Н. Н. Раевский. 1812 // Русская старина. 1874. № 4; Почко Н. А. Генерал Н. Н. Раевский. М., 1971; Раевский Николай Николаевич // Русские генералы в войнах с Наполеоновской Францией в 1812-1815 гг. [Электронный ресурс] // Интернет-проект «1812 год». 1996-2018. URL: http://www.museum.ru/museum/1812/Persons/slovar/sl_r02.html; Шенкман Г. С. Генерал Раевский и его семья. СПб., 2003.
From the Presidential library materials: