Patrick Gordon on his Service in Russia and on the Revolt of the
[excerpted from Passages
from the Diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries in the Years 1635-1699 (London: The Spaulding Club, 1859), pp.
P. I. Gordon, by birth a Scottishman, came in the quality of Major to Mosko, in the yeare
7169th [A.D. 1661], and was sent out of the ambassy into the stranger office ; and in the
yeare 7171 [A.D. 1663] in September, was preferred, for his comeing into the countrey, to
be Lieveterment Colonell ; and was in the yeare 7172 and 3 [A.D. 1664-5] at his Maiesties
service in Smolensko ; and in the yeare 7173 [A.D. 1665], the I I th of February, he was
preferred, for his services, to be Colonell. In the yeare 7174 [A.D. 1666] he was sent on
his Maiesties affaires to England. In the yeare 7176 [A.D. 1668], he was at service in
Trubschefsky, Branskoy, and other Ukrainish townes. In the yeare 7179 [A.D. 1671] lie was
at Novoskol against the rebellious Cosakes ; and from that yeare to the 7185th yeare [A.D.
1677], he was at service in Skewsky, and from Shewsky in the 71827 71837 7184 yeares [A.D.
1674-A.D. 1679], he was at service at Kaniow, Pereaslaw, and at Czegrin at the takeing of
Doroschenko; and in the 7185th yeare [A.D. 1677], at the seige of Czegrin. And in the
7186th yeare [A.D.), 1678], he was in Czegrin at the siege or beleaguering of [it], in
which yeare, the 20th of August, for his service at Czegrin, he was preferred to be Major
Generall, and was at the marching of from Czegrin, until the army was dismissed the 11th
of September, in the 7187 etc. [A.D. 1679]. From this yeare to the 7191 [A.D. 1683], he
was at service in Kyow, in which yeare, he was, for his service, preferred to be
Livetennent Generall, and was thereafter in Kyow to the 7195 yeare [A.D. 1687], in which
yeare, he received the command of the Moskowish Selected Regiments of Sojours, and the
same yeare, was at service in the Crimish expedition. In the 7196th yeare [A.D. 1688], the
11th of September, he was, for his services, preferred to be Generall. In the 7197th yeare
[A.D. 1689], be was at service in the Crimish expedition ; and in the 7198th yeare [A.D.
1690], in the expedition to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity of Serge.
['His Majesty appointed an army of 12,000 soldiers, of which most of the officers were
foreigners, to be quartered in the suburbs of Moscow, to keep the city in awe, commanded
by General Gordon, who had entered in the Russian service in the time of his father, and
who, by his extraordinary behaviour and success, had acquired both the love of the army
and the esteem of the whole nation.'- (Captain John Perry's State of Russia under the
present Czar, p. 156.)]
In the end of February, Gordon notes the receipt of a letter from the Czar, written at
London February 27. in the middle of January.
A few weeks afterwards his journal begins to be occupied with that mutiny of the
Strelitzes, which, but for him, would, in all probability, have issued in the dethronement
of the Czar.
April 3. 'This afternoon came the
greater part of the Strelitz petitioners, and about a hundred others, who had seceded from
the corps of Prince Michael Grigorievich Romodanowski, to the house of their Boyar, Prince
Ivan Borisovich Troiekurov, and begged to be heard. They were told to send in four, the
most influential, of their number; who accordingly came and declared that they could not
take the field by such a bad road; and they begged for delay, representing that they had
suffered great privations, and were still suffering. They exaggerated everything
excessively. But the Boyar interrupted them, and ordered them to go to their duty, and
march off immediately. 'As they declined to do so, he ordered them to be arrested and
taken to prison. But their comrades, seeing this, rescued them from the guard that was
conducting them, and set them at liberty. This occasioned great consternation among the
high authorities. The generalissimo Prince Fedor Iurievich (Romodanowski) sent in great
haste for me. When he had told me all the circumstances, with considerable exaggeration, I
was of opinion that, considering the weakness of the party, and that they were without
leaders, it was hardly worth while to take the matter so seriously, or anticipate great
danger. I went, however, to Butirki to obviate all danger, and be ready in case of any
tumult or meeting. I made see that all the soldiers were in their quarters, and finding
all right, I lay down to get some rest, as it was now late. First, however, I had sent
word to the authorities how matters stood.
April 4. 'On the fourth, at
daybreak, I sent to learn how things were in the city. Learning that all was quiet, I
repaired to Generals Alexei SemŽnovich and Prince Fedor Iurievich (Romodanowski), who had
been attending an imperial council. I found every body in anxiety about the impending
danger. which I tried to allay. But many persons, who are inclined by nature to anticipate
dangers, have, in such cases, yet another object; they magnify the circumstances in order
that their own zeal and services may appear the more signal in quelling the dangers, and
that they may thus extract merit and consideration from them, After calling at my own
house, I went back to Butirki. Having had all the officers present at the exercising of
the regiment, I dismissed two-thirds of them, and with the other part remained all night
at Butirki, in deference to the alarm of the other Generals. Some hundred men of the
SemŽnov regiment were sent to expedite the march of the Strelitzes. These made no
resistance, but marched off at midnight, after delivering up the ringleaders of the
April 8. 'On the eighth, I wrote to
his Majesty, giving him an account of the occurrences of the last week.' These were the
first distant mutterings of the tempest. There was to be a lull of two months before it
June 8. 'A report spread that the
four Strelitz regiments at Toropetz were disposed to insurrection and disobedience. An
equerry was, therefore, sent to get information of their doings.
June 9. 'An order was issued to
detach four officers and forty men of the Butirki regiment, to be sent against the
Strelitz regiments; the same numbers were detached from the other regiments in Moscow. One
hundred and forty Strelitz deserters were ordered to be arrested, and sent to the cities
of the Ukraine.
June 10. 'Accounts were received of the four Strelitz regiments that bad been
stationed in the camp at Veliki Luki, and were then in Toropetz, that they were
discontented at the dismissal of the rest of the army, and the orders given to them to go
to various towns, and were inclined to disturbance.
June 11. 'Two captains returned
from Toropetz, and reported that the Strelitzes, after repeated secret consultations, had
resolved not to march to the stations appointed for them, but to go straight to Moscow and
that they had required their officers to lead them thither. On their refusing, they had
deposed them, and had chosen four men from every regiment to lead them; they were firmly
resolved on coming to Moscow. This news caused no little consternation among the high
authorities. In a council hastily called together, it was resolved to send against them an
army corps composed both of infantry and cavalry; and I was to go before with the
infantry, till the cavalry were collected. I was, therefore, sent for and informed of the
matter. After it had been fixed that five hundred men of my regiment, and a like number of
each of the three regiments stationed in Moscow, should go, I selected the officers and
men that should be used.
June 12. 'I attended a sitting of
council at court, in which the former resolutions were affirmed. There were no more news
of the insurrectionists. I dined with the Polish Ambassador, In company with the other
Ambassadors, and a number of friends. Twenty-seven equerries were sent to me, to be used
in carrying orders and despatches to Moscow.
June 13. 'Another council was held,
and I received orders to march with the infantry and artillery for the river Khodinka, and
there wait further orders. After making the soldiers get a month's pay, sending on five
cannon to Butirki, and getting a hundred and fifty waggons, I set out from the Sloboda in
the afternoon. After an hour's stay in Butirki, I marched out and pitched camp on the
little river Khodinka. The other three regiments arrived at midnight.
June 14. 'The Polish Ambassador
came to the camp. I sent and received several messengers, but no further accounts of any
June 16. 'I broke up in the morning, and pitched camp again on the Swidja (Svidnia), a
verst from Tuschina (Tuchino). At midnight, the Boyar came, and brought the orders on all
the points that we had laid before the council to have instruction and full authority
June 17. 'On Friday, at six
o'clock, I marched with the infantry, and came to Tschernewa (Chernevo), ten versts. Here
I found a nobleman's servant, who said that he had spent the previous night with the
Strelitzes, and that they were marching with all speed to reach the convent of
Woskressensk (Voskressensk) that night. This news made me hasten on to get there before
them. After advancing five versts farther, I rested a little, and sent a report to the
Boyar, requesting him, at the same time, to send me some cavalry. I then crossed the
river, and, lest the mutineers should reach the convent before me, I pushed on before with
what horsemen I could muster. Two versts from the convent, the scouts brought to me four
Strelitzes, who said that they were sent, one man from each regiment, to take a petition
to the Boyar, Reading it, I found In it nothing but a catalogue of their services, with
exaggeration of their grievances, and a prayer for leave to come to Moscow to visit their
homes, wives, and children, as well as to petition for their necessities. I sent them on
to the Generalissimo; and having learned from these deputies that the Strelitzes were
still fifteen versts off, and could not reach the convent that night, I gave orders to
mark off a camp near the convent, as the most convenient place. I arrived at the place
fixed upon about sunset, and immediately received information from my scouts that the
Strelitzes had reached the river, and were crossing at a shallow place. Hearing this, I
hastened thither with what horsemen I had with me. I spoke to them in a calm tone, and
advised them to return across the river, and encamp on the other side. Not heeding this,
they turned into a line, and remained stationed on a meadow beside the river, outside the
village. I returned as quickly as possible to bring up our infantry. I made the first two
regiments march through the village, and take post in the best position, while the other
two were stationed on the fields by the Moscow road. I then rode down to the Strelitzes,
and had a conversation with them; but I found them very refractory in all that we required
of them. However, I persuaded them to send two other deputies to the Generalissimo, which
they did. After a mutual promise that no movement should take place that night, they
returned to their camp, leaving a strong guard in the lane. I made a battalion keep guard
not far from them, and stationed another near for relief. I then went to the other
regiments, and ordered strong guards and detachments in various places in sight of their
camp, to observe them. Having reconnoitred their camp at a little distance, and found no
stirring among them, and having also visited our own guards, I went back to the camp at
the time of reveille, which I did not allow to be beat, and rested an hour. After which I
went to the Generalissimo, and consulted with him what was to be done. After mature
deliberation, it was resolved that I should repair to their camp and intimate to them: 1,
That they should turn back and repair to the places assigned them; 2, That they should
give. up one hundred and forty deserters who had run away from Velikie Luki to Moscow, as
well as the ringleaders of the present insurrection. and disobedience to the commands of
his Majesty; 3, That in the appointed places his Majesty should give them the usual pay,
and either bread or money, according to the local prices; 4, That the present fault should
be forgiven them; and, 6, That even the others, who were more guilty, should riot suffer
' Taking the six deputies with me, I went to their camp, where I communicated the orders
to assemble and hear the gracious concessions of his Majesty. When about two hundred had
come together, I let the deputies communicate the orders given, and then employed all the
rhetoric I was master of to induce them to return to obedience, and give In a petition,
confessing their guilt in having transgressed his Majesty's orders. Bat they answered that
they were all determined to die or else go to Moscow, though it were only for eight or
three days; after that they would go wherever his Majesty should order. When I told them
that they would not be permitted to go to Moscow, and that they must not think of it, they
replied that they wouId rather die than not get to Moscow. With that began two old fellows
among them to aggravate their privations, and half a dozen confirmed what they said, and
kept up the disturbance. I advised that each regiment should hold a consultation apart,
and that they should consider well what they did, and what they were refusing. But they
rejected all advice, and declared that they were all of one mind. I then intimated that I
would withdraw from the camp and wait an answer outside, adding the threat, that if they
did not embrace the gracious offers of his Majesty now, they needed not expect such
conditions again, when once we should be obliged to use compulsion to bring them to
obedience. But to all this they paid no heed. I then rode out of their camp, and waited at
some distance for a quarter of an hour; after which I sent to ask their final answer.
Finding no alteration of their mind, I took my departure with an indication of sorrow.
After inspecting the best approaches to the rebels, and holding a consultation with the
Generalissimo and others, it was resolved to draw up the army, and plant the cannon, and
use force. l brougbt up the infantry and twenty-five cannon to a fit position, surrounded
their camp on the other side with cavalry, and then sent an officer to summon and exhort
them once more to submit. As they again declined, I sent yet another to demand a
categorical decision. But they rejected all proposals of compromise, and boasted that they
were as ready to defend themselves by force as we were to attack. Seeing that all hope of
their submission was vain, I made around of the cannon be fired. But as we fired over
their heads, this only emboldened them more, so that they began to wave their colours and
throw up their caps, and prepare for resistance. At the next discharge of the cannon,
however, seeing their comrades fall on all sides, they began to waver. Out of despair, or
to protect themselves from the cannon, they made a sally by a lane, which, however, we had
occupied with a strong body. To make yet surer, I brought up several detachments to the
spot, so as to command the hollow way along which they were issuing. Seeing this, they
returned to their camp, and some of them betook themselves to the barns and outhouses of
the adjoining Tillage. At the third discharge of the guns, many of them rushed out of the
camp towards the infantry and cavalry. After the fourth round of fire, very few of them
remained in their waggon rampart; and I moved down with two battalions to their camp, and
posted guards round it. During this affair, which lasted about an hour, a few of our men
were wounded. The rebels had twenty-two killed on the spot, and about forty wounded,
mostly mortally. We had all the prisoners brought to the convent, and shut up in vaulted
houses and other places. A list of their horses was then made, and orders given not to
touch their property ; only the ammunition and the regimental waggons were brought to head
an account of them taken. The next thing was to send an officer to Moscow with an account
of the business, The whole afternoon we were occupied collecting the arms scattered about
on the camp and fields.
June 19. Information having been
got as to a few of the ringleaders, from some who thought to gain favour for themselves,
several influential Individuals were called up and examined. One of the regiments was then
mustered. The greater part of the influential men and others being examined, it was
frankly confessed that some had been the ringleaders and guilty rebels. Those that were
found good we put on the one side, and the bad on the other. In the afternoon, another
regiment was proceeded with in the same way.
June 20.' We removed our camp to
beside the convent, to be out of the dust of the field where we were.
June 21. 'We mustered another
regiment of the Strelitzes, and examined various individuals, putting them to the torture;
whereon they confessed the wicked designs they had meant to carry out when they got to
Moscow. Word was despatched to Moscow twice or thrice of all that was going on.
June 22. 'Twenty-four individuals
were found guilty, on their own confession, of the most shocking crimes, and of having
designed, when they got to Moscow, to massacre certain Boyars, and to extort an increase
of-pay, and a new regulation of their services. On these we pronounced sentence of death,
to consist in beheading. They were confined apart, and directed to confess, receive the
eucharist, and prepare for death.
June 23. 'Those condemned yesterday
were beheaded. The fourth regiment was mustered in the same way.
June 24. 'I wrote to his Majesty,
giving a short account of the previous events.
June 25. 'On this and following
days, we were engaged from morning to night in hearing cases; many were put to the
torture, of whom a few confessed.
June 27. 'An order arrived to send
the less guilty Strelitzes to the various convents, and there keep them closely
June 28. 'Some Strelitzes that had
confessed themselves guilty were hanged.
June 29. 'His Majesty's birthday
was celebrated, first by divine service, and then by a feast, at which his health was
drunk, with discharge of cannon. A great many Strelitzes were sent under strong guard to
June 30. 'Many rebels of the
regiment of Colonel Hundertmark were interrogated and put to the torture; but none would
confess himself guiltier than the others. They were therefore informed that they must cast
lots, as the tenth man must die, which they did. About two hundred persons were knouted in
July 1. 'Forty-five men of
Hundertmark's regiment, on whom the lot had fallen, were brought out. They were told that
if they would only name the ringleaders of the rising, the rest should go free. After a
pause, they began to mutter and to name one or two, who, being tortured, without much ado
pled guilty; three or four more were then named, who were also tortured, and confessed
after a few strokes. They were then set apart and bid prepare for death; and the others,
on whom the lot had fallen, were set free.
July 2. ' To-day, seventy men
were hanged by fives and threes on one gallows. Numbers more were sent away to
July 3. 'An order came for the
army to be dismissed. We were all thanked for our services. Three regiments went off
immediately. The Generalissimo and we, his assessors or aids, with the Butirki regiment,
remained all night.
July 4. 'In the morning, the
four Strelitzes condemned last Saturday were brought out and beheaded. With few
exceptions, all those executed submitted to their fate with great indifference, without
saying a word, only crossing themselves; some took leave of the lookers-on, One hundred
and thirty had been executed, about seventy had been killed in the engagement or died of
their wounds, eighteen hundred and forty-five been sent to various convents and prisons,
and twenty-five remained in this convent.
July 6. 'This day, after devotion, I, with many more, were confirmed by the
Archbishop of Anura [Ancyra], called Petrus Paulus de St. Joseph, of the Carmelite order;
I takeing the name of Leopoldus, and my son Theodorus that of Joseph.
July 19. 'I was called to
Preobraschensk. The gracious letter of his Majesty was read, in which our services were
commended. The same was read to the soldiers, who were promised a ruble a piece, besides
that they were all to be treated at his Majesty's table. We also were sumptuously treated,
especially in drink. August 23. 1 Gott this account of my mothers father. The Laird of
Petlurg married Janet Ogilby, daughter to the Laird of Cullen, and was soone after killed
at the battel of Pinky, leaving him who succeeded unborne, or in the cradle. She was
afterwards maryed to one Olgilby of Blarak, her cousin, a cadet of the house of Cullen,
and of 3000 merks in the Boyne. By him she had a son called James, brother uterine to Sir
John Gordon of Petlurge, and ankle to Mr Robert. This James marryed Marjery Gordon,
daughter to Georg Gordon of Coclaraghy. These were my grandfather and grandmother.' July.
The tidings of the formidable revolt of the Strelitzes reached the Czar at Vienna, towards
the end of July, and hastened his journey homewards.
September 2. On the second of
September, Gordon, who had gone, with his eldest son and his family, to visit his estate
in the country, writes : 'I received a letter saying that the Czar had arrived in Moscow,
and had been at my house to enquire for me.' Gordon returned in a few days, and was
immediately sent for by the Czar, who received him very graciously, and thanked him in the
heartiest way for his faithful services, and the great things he had done.
September 17. 'Many Strelitzes
were brought up and put to the torture, his Majesty being desirous to institute a stricter
examination than ours.
September 19. 1 was unwell and
kept the house. A sharp enquiry was made into the Strelitz business. September 20. More
Strelitzes put to the question. A number were directed to prepare for death. September 23.
In the afternoon, I went to Preobraschensk, but in vain: every body about the court was
engaged in arresting more of the adherents of the Princess Sophia, and putting the Zarina
(Tsarina) in the convent. [The widow of the late Czar Ivan, Proskovia, daughter of Feodor
Soltykof. She survived her husband twenty-seven years, dying in 1723.]
September 30. 'A number of
Strelitzes were executed.
October 3. 'I was at
Preobraschensk, and saw the crocodile, swordfish, and other curiosities, which his Majesty
had brought from England and Holland.
November 14. 'Orders were issued
not to give support to any of the wives or children of the executed Strelitzes.
The Diary closes on the last day of this year, with these devout aspirations :--' Almighty
December al. God be praised for his gracious long suffering towards me in sparing my life
so long. Grant, gracious God, that I may make a good use of the time that thou mayest be
pleased yet to grant me for repentance. This year I have felt a sensible decrease of
health and strength. Yet thy will be done, gracious God!'
These were the last words that Gordon was to enter in his journal of many years. His
strength was now fast failing, and during the following summer he became so weak that he
was unable to leave his bed. He died at seven o'clock in the morning of the twenty-ninth
of November, 1699. The Czar, who had visited him five times in his illness, and had been
twice with him during the night, stood weeping by his bed as he drew his last breath; and
the eyes of him who had left Scotland a poor unfriended wanderer, were closed by the hands
of an Emperor.
Peter himself ordered the funeral procession, and took his place in its long line,
accompanied by all the pomp of his empire, and followed by the representatives of most of
the great powers of Europe. The body was carried on the shoulders of twenty-eight
colonels; two generals supported the footsteps of his widow, and twenty ladies, the wives
of high Muscovite dignitaries, walked in her train. The religious obsequies were performed
by the priests of the church which he loved, in the first chapel of stone which the Roman
Catholics were suffered to raise in Moscow. It was built chiefly by his bounty, and his
tomb was dug before its high altar, in a vault, where this inscription may still be read :
SACRAE TZAREAE MAJESTATIS MILITIAE GENERALIS PATRICIUS LEOPOLDUS GORDON NATUS ANNO DOMINI
1635 DIE 31 MARTII DENATUS ANNO DOMINI 1699 DIE 29 NOVEMBRIS REQUIESCAT IN PACE