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 Denis Davydov

Born:   July 27, 1784
Deceased:   May 4, 1839

Poet of Pushkins galaxy, lieutenant general, guerrilla fighter


Denis Vasilyevich Davidov was born on July (16) 27, 1784 in Moscow. From the age of 17 he started his military service as an estandart-cadet in the Kavalergard regiment. A year later he was promoted to the first officer rank and in two years was deducted from the guard army to Belarusian Hussars regiment for having written unseemly verses. Davidov got quickly accustomed to the atmosphere new for him and continued writing verses, in which he glorified the pleasures of reckless hussar life. It was thanks to his poems that young Davidov gained the beginning of his glory, which was poetic. In 1806 he was returned to the guard in St. Petersburg. Dreaming of military glory, he persistently asked about appointing him to the field army, and his persistence was satisfied. He became the aide-de-camp of Bagration together with whom he passed numerous military roads, participated in battles, received many war decorations, among them a gold saber with the inscription For Bravery.

Denis Davidov gained great military fame during the Patriotic War of 1812. In the beginning of the campaign he in the rank of a lieutenant colonel commanded a battalion of Akhtyrsky Hussars regiment in the army of Bagration, whom he addressed with a project of guerrilla war shortly before the Borodino Battle. Kutuzov approved of the idea, and on the eve of the Borodino Battle Davidov with 50 hussar and 80 Cossacks at his disposal moved to the rear of the enemy. His first sally was victorious, and was fixed with further sorties. Nearly every day his guerilla group took captured people, as well as transports with food and ammunition. Following the example of Davidov’s group (its number increased by 300 people) other guerrilla groups were established from active armed and Cossack forces. Actions of army guerrilla groups became especially widespread during the retreat of the French forces from Russia.

In the following years Davidov continued his military career in the field army and participated in lots of military campaigns. His last campaign occurred in 1831 — it was against Polish rebels.  After this action he was not allowed to retire (what he dreamed about), but was not disturbed much. So all his service was limited to wearing a general lieutenant’s uniform.

Davidov's name as that of a poet guerrilla is covered with great romantic glory. He had close friendship with Pushkin, Yazykov, Vyazma, Baratynsky and other poets, who even glorified him in their verses; his own lyrical and satirical verses enjoyed a considerable success. Davidov's literary activity was expressed not only in a number of poems, but also in several prosaic articles.

Denis Vasilyevich Davidov spent the last years of his life in the village of Verkhnyaya Maza near Simbirsk, in the manor that belonged to his wife Sofia Nikolaevna Chirkova, with whom they got married in April, 1819 and who gave birth to their 9 children. There he was still engaged in creativity, carried out extensive correspondence with A.Voyeykov, M. Zagoskin, A. Pushkin, V. Zhukovsky and other writers and publishers, visited his friends, ordered books from abroad, hunted, and was engaged in upbringing of his children and taking care of the household: he built a distillery, arranged a pond, etc. In a word, he got the most out of life.

Denis Vasilyevich Davidov suddenly died on May 4 (April 22), 1839 in his estate of Verkhnyaya Maza, without having lived a few months to see celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the victory over Napoleon. The poet’s ashes were transported to Moscow and buried at the Novodevichy Convent Cemetery.

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