Observations at the Cemetery of the
Russian Army who fought in The Siege of Sevastopol
by Pavel Lyashuk.
For the very first days of the siege of Sevastopol, the Russian casualties
were buried on the North side of the city. There were loaded on ships by a
company of sailors named after Gribnyov. They then carted the dead from the
shore line to the burial grounds. There were two cemeteries. The cemetery
located on the north shore was for the army infantry and there was one for the
sailors which was located elsewhere. Regular conscripts (infantry) were buried
in mass graves (bratskyie mogily) with no inscriptions. Officers including
generals were buried with individual graves with inscriptions. These graves
have survived the ravages of time (and World War II when the hill was an
artillery position). For example: Here are graves of officers. The 3rd Sapper
Battalion, Second Lieutenant, Marseyevskyi, killed on this date. Pavel Lyashuk
did not say the date) Memorial plates and tombstones were placed later after
the end of the war.
One of the commanders of the siege defenses in the first part of the siege,
Prince Vasil'chikov, after the war, became defense minister and he proposed to
built at the cemetery a church for which he selected the symbol of eternity, a
pyramid. At this point Pavel Lyashuk pointed a mass grave. The pyramid was
designed by a Russian officer of German descent named Avdeev. Some inscriptions
on the walls are in German. There are inscriptions in Polish. Even in
Ukrainian. The mass graves held up to fifty men in rows. Sometimes officers
were buried in pairs. The man on the street calls this the "Hundred
Thousand," but there are only forty thousand. After the end of the war
people were buried here. The army General Prince M.D. Gorchakov, Totlebin and
many other generals were brought back here for burial. The tomb stones have
carved shields and some have stone artillery pieces. The shield of Prince
Gorchakov was shown to us. The most noted people of the war were buried along a
central alley. Even some of the tombstones are shaped as artillery pieces. For
instance at the time of the siege, an Admiral Peter Ivanovich Kislinskyi was a
Captain of the first rank. Another was man of Greek descent, the Commandant
at-arms of the city of Sevastopol, M.N. Kumani, who later made Contre-Admiral.
The Crimea was frequently visited by the acclaimed landscape painter, A. I.
Kuindzhi. In the picturesque corner of the south shore of the Crimea not far
from Kikeneiz (the present village of Opolznevoye, south of Simeiz) was the
studio of the painter. Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi was born in the city of
Mariupol in the Donetsk region. The history of Christian believers of the
Crimea is tied to this city. In 1774 the Russian government concluded an
agreement with the last Crimean Khan Shagin-Girem on the re-settlement of the
Christian population to the Northern Azov Sea local. Four years later more than
31 thousand Christians, mostly Greeks departed from the Crimea. This is how the
Donetsk region came to have settlements with Crimean names: Yalta, Gurzuf,
Staryi Kruim and others. Amongst the deportees were the ancestors of Arkhip
Another known Greek who fought in the siege, was Ivanovich Stavraki, a Major
General who died in 1892. A grave which held several officers was also shown.
Note that Greeks were resettled by Catherine the Great after the foundation of
Sevastopol. Some of the monuments have the sculptor's name inscribed on the
stone. The guard post sculpture is the resting place of Totlebin. You can a see
a map of Sevastopol on the sculpture, another depicting the defensive positions
of the Russians, a third Totlebin's personal shield. A fourth depicts the
Plevna defensive position. The vault is below and above scenes depicting his
life's work. He was an engineer. Axs, shovels. And an inscription on top Duke
Eduard Ivanovich Totlebin.
The pyramid chapel has inscribed on the walls all army units having fought in
the siege, the dates during which the units were garrisoned, the losses
incurred, i.e. how many people these units lost in action. When the chapel was
built, two medals were placed in the foundation commemorating the defense of
Sevastopol and war of Crimea. These were awarded to all defenders, including
sailors. This church was completed fifteen years after the end of the siege, in
1870. At one time the wall tablets were damaged but they have been restored.
The cross was torn down but replaced. The chapel suffered damage from bomb
explosions, shrapnel and bomb fragments during World War II. The tablets
contain the combat losses of the regiments of the 4th, 5th, 6th infantry
divisions through the 17th divisions.
The 4th Infantry Division consisted of the Byelozerskiy, Olonetskyi,
Shlissel'burg Yeager regiment, and Ladozhskyi regiments from the very first
days of the garrison deployment. Also listed are the regiments of the 5th
division which included the Arkhangelgorod Emperor's regiment, the Vologoskyi,
Kostromskyi Yeager regiment, and Galitskyi regiment. On another side are other
divisions, such as the Tarutinskyi regiment, the Yakutskyi regiment, the
Okhotskyi regiment and Kamchatskyi which built redoubts, lunettes and
fortifications and the Azovskyi and Dneprovskyi regiments which captured during
the Balaklava battle, the Canrobert hill, as well as the Ukrainskyi, and
Odesskyi regiments. Many streets in Sevastopol were named after these
regiments. However this does not mean only Yakuts served in the so-called Yakut
regiment. Simply in 1801 Emperor Alexander I issued an edict that regiments of
the Russian army would be named after places, lakes, and rivers of the Russian
empire. Unlike in England were regiments were formed and named for a place.
This was arbitrary measure, however some regiments do coincide. Inside the
closed chapel, all regiments eight hundred names of officers are inscribed on
tablets that died in combat. This does not take into account those that died in
other battles of the war. Across the harbor to the left is the building of the
academy which produced graduates in the nuclear submarine service. Where the
antennae farm could be seen the battle of Inkerman took place. The last
combatant to be buried in the cemetery was interred sixty two years after the
end of the Crimean War.
The Black Sea fleet ship complements of the navy units are also there.
An interesting episode occurred at the Genoese fortress ruins during the
Crimean war. There was a small Garrison at Balaklava under the command of a
Greek by the name of Manto. The Russians had two small caliber cannons and made
its way up the hill and started to fire on the British army. The British were
on their way to Balaklava and they returned fire from the ships and from field
artillery firing from the road. The Russians took heavy casualties, and the
commander was made prisoner and was quoted as saying: "Had I chosen to
surrender unconditionally, you would have despised me for my cowardice, but I
have upheld my country's honor and fulfilled my duty."
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