A general and Peter I’s comrade-in-arms

Took part in the capture of the fortress of Azov that opened for Russia the way to the southern seas.

The fledglings of the Petrine nest
Surged after him, a loyal throng—
Through all the shifts of worldly fate,
In trials of policy and war,
These men, these comrades, were like sons:
The noble Sheremetev, ,
And Brius, and Bour, and Repnin…

And Brius, and Bour, and Repnin…

Anikita Repnin was a scion of an ancient princely family. At 16, he was appointed as cup-bearer to Peter I, who was 12 at the time. When the young Tsar formed his Toy Regiment at the village of Preobrazhenskoye in 1685, Repnin was granted the rank of Lieutenant; two years later, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

During the Streltsi rebellion in 1698, Repnin managed to bring 700 Preobrazhensky soldiers to the Kremlin, thereby contributing to the victory over the rebels. This earned him the rank of Lieutenant General.

During Peter’s First Azov Campaign (1695), Repnin seized from the Turks two coastal towers with 32 guns. During the Second Azov Campaign (1696), he was commanding a frigate involved in the capture of the fortress that gave Russia an outlet to the southern seas.

As a Major General, he was in charge of recruiting and training infantry regiments intended to replace the outmoded Streltsi army.

Early in the Northern War, the Tsar sent Repnin to Novgorod, where he formed a division and marched it to Narva.

A dramatic turn in Anikita Repnin’s fate happened during the summer of 1708, when the Russian army, confronted by the main Swedish force under Charles XII, retreated and took up position at the village of Golovchino (not far from Mogilev). On 3 July, at night, the Swedish regiments attacked Repnin’s division and dispersed it after two hours of stubborn resistance. This triggered off a general Russian retreat. An incensed Peter ordered that the culprits be punished. During an investigation, it was not taken into account that Repnin’s division had been unexpectedly attacked by a superior enemy force. The Tsar, though a friend of Prince Repnin’s, demoted him to the ranks.

During the Battle of Lesnaya in September 1709, Private Repnin distinguished himself and was fully exonerated.

In the Battle of Poltava in 1709 that largely determined the outcome of the Northern War, Repnin commanded 12 infantry regiments and was decorated with the Order of St. Andrew the First Called, the top award, for his successful operations.

* Based on facts from the life of the focal point of this section