THE

COSSACKS OF THE UKRAINE

COMPRISING

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES

OF

The Most Celebrated Cossack Chiefs or Attamans,

INCLUDING

CHMIELNICKI, STENKO RAZIN, MAZEPPA, SAVA, ZELEZNIAK, GONTA, PUGATCHEF,

AND

A DESCRIPTION OF THE UKRAINE.

WITH

A MEMOIR OF PRINCESS TARAKANOF,

AND SOME PARTICULARS RESPECTING CATHERINE II., OF RUSSIA,

AND HER FAVOURITES.

BY

COUNT HENRY KRASINSKI,

CAPTAIN OF THE LATE POLISH ARMY;

KNIGHT OF THE POLISH MILITARY ORDER; AND MEMBER OF THE POLISH

HISTORICAL SOCIETY IN FRANCE AND ENGLAND;

AUTHOR OF "Vitold;" "The Poles in the Seventeenth Century;"

"Gonta, an Historical Drama;"&c.

 

LONDON:

PARTRIDGE AND OAKEY, PARTNERNOSTER ROW.

MDCCCXLVIII.


There are at present four branches of the Krasinski's family, and three generations. The head of the first branch, and the senior in age, is General Count Vincent Korwin Krasinski, who by his late wife, Princess Radzivell, has an only child, a son, Sigismond, married some years ago to Elizabeth Countess Branitska, by whom he has two young boys.

The general alluded to, performed extraordinary feats of valour under Napoleon, especially at Samossiera in the month of November, 1808, in Spain, where three squadrons of Polish lancers under his command stormed, up hill, a pass half a mile in length, and twenty-five yards in breadth, defended at the top by fifteen pieces of heavy cannon, and eleven thousand of Spanish regular infantry, under the order of General St. Juan. In spite, however, of all these formidable defenses, and the two hills swarming with sharpshooters; in spite of the grape shot of the cannon, his intrepid band, composed of chosen men and chosen horses, reached the top, took all cannons, broke all the squares, routed the Spaniards and cleared the road for Napoleon's army to Madrid.

In all the French, and even British military works, this celebrated charge is mentioned, and is undoubtedly considered as one of the most extraordinary in this century. It, however, succeeded, not only by the brilliant and indomitable valour of the Polish lancers and their gallant commander; but also by some favourable circumstances attending it. Napoleon was so much surprised at the complete success of the charge of Samossiera that he said: "Now, dear Krasinski, I believe in wonders." "It would be a wonder, sire," rejoined the latter, "if there was one single soldier under my command, who should hesitate an instant to sacrifice the last drop of his blood for your majesty's glory." This bon mot extremely pleased Napoleon, and was followed by many others, which always delivered under proper circumstances, brought him substantial favours. Napoleon called him the Polish Alcibiades; .... The general alluded to served in all the wars from 1806 till 1816, under Napoleon, and his regiment of lancers became the terror of the enemy, as they broke and routed every cavalry and infantry, which they ever attacked, and they never were beaten. To this time even at Bourdeaux, there are numerous ballads and songs in their favour. They formed the guard of the French emperor, under the name of chevauxlegers; they did wonders at Wagram, and in 1813.

It is impossible to describe the enthusiastic cheers with which the remainder of the gallant Polish bands, under the command of the General alluded to were received at Posen in 1814. Men, women, children hailed them weeping.... At the sight of these warriors, preceded by the fame of the victories of Samossiera, Vagram, Reichenbach, and others, (most of them being decorated with military orders) the heros of a hundred battles, commanded recently by the most skilful captain of the age, to whom they were faithful when every thing left him, passing slowly in military array, and returning to their country without ever having been fairly vanquished, a sort of religious veneration filled the heart. One would have thought that the sacred soil of a country that gave birth to such soldiers, could not be stained by a foreign foot, or oppressed.

When the ringing of bells, the clash of arms, the roar of cannons, and repeated huzzas ceased, when twenty-four beautiful maidens, dressed in white, had thrown their flowers on the lancers, and silence was restored, the general, one of the handsomest men of his age - thirty-three at the time - dazzling the eyes by the diamonds of his numerous decorations, sitting on a splendid steed worthy of a Mahomet or Tamerlane, advanced some steps towards the ladies, stopped, bowed gracefully to them, and, in a clear and distinct voice, delivered a speech during which, without any exaggeration, he put Cicero fairly in his pocket, and melted half-a-dozen Demosthenes on his lips. After repeated huzzas, when the officers left their horses, he was obliged to submit his manly cheeks to the repeated kisses of the maidens.... The same evening a ball was given, and as my late father was a schoolfellow of the general's, and travelled with me in haste, we arrived the same day in Posen. I was at the time nine years old. After embracing me he introduced me as his relative at the ball, and delivered me to the care of the Posen ladies. As I had not slept for two nights, I soon fell into a deep slumber between two Posen beauties....

Some weeks afterwards I marched, between Lieut. Gnatowski and Stakieuicz, with the Polish army into the late kingdom of Poland, and entered Warsaw with the staff of the general, on a small black horse of remarkable beauty. My first recollections were thus associated with a military life. I never could forget the hospitality and kindness shown me by the inhabitants of Posen.