Photographs of Russian Veterans of the Napoleonic Wars

Really Old Russian Veterans

eussian veteran of the napoleonic wars

Photo of Pavel Yakovlevich Tolstoguzov

Tolstoguzov was born in 1798 and was no more than 14 years old when he fought at the Battle of Borodino. This photograph was taken in 1912, on the 100th anniversary of the battle, when this old Russian soldier was approximately 114 years old.

This man's life spanned three different centuries, and saw amazing changes in politics and the way we live. During his lifetime, the world went from the age of sail to steam ships, to trains and flight. The muskets and front loading cannons of his era had been replaced by the efficient and deadly machine guns, long range artillery and poison gas. Men had learned to drop bombs from the sky and to attack from below the surface of the waves.

According to an unverified post on a bulletin board, Tolstoguzov was a grenadier in the Russian Army and served with the Tobolsk Regiment at all of the major battles against Napoleon during his Russian campaign, including Smolensk and Borodino. He may also have taken part in the allied occupation of Paris after the war. According to this source, the veteran was deaf, and had trouble seeing, but was still surprisingly vigorous when this picture was taken. The woman next to him is said to be his 80 year old wife.

He was invited to travel to Moscow to attend the ceremony marking the centennial of the battle of Borodino, but according to this same unverified source, all of the attention brought back terrible memories, and he became ill and died just a few days after the 100th anniversary.

I am not sure when he actually died, but he may have lived long enough to see the start of the next Great War, the first world war, and sadly, for someone who had fought for Imperial Russia, the overthrow of the Czar.

group photo showing people who were alive during Napoleon's invasion of Russia

Group Photo

This picture is of six Russians who were contemporaries of the battle but did not necessarily fight in it. They were gathered here to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle. They range in age from 107 to 122 years old, and they show varying degrees of infirmity. The oldest of the group, a fragile 122 years old, was born around 1790 and would have been 22 when the battle was fought, definitely making him old enough for military service.