In Russian history there will no longer be soldiers who served for almost a hundred years and took part in 10 bloody wars. Vasily Kochetkov, a soldier of three emperors, according to various estimates, served from 80 to a hundred years, taking part in almost all military companies of the 19th century as part of the army of the Russian Empire. He died on the way to his native village, when he retired at the age of 107.
Start of military career
Vasily Nikolaevich Kochetkov was born in 1785 in the former Kumysh district in the Simbirsk province, in the family of a soldier who had a lower military rank. Therefore, he became a cantonist assigned to the military department. Due to his origin, he was obliged to serve in the Russian army. In 1811, he began serving in the Life Guards Grenadier Regiment, with the outbreak of World War II he asked to join the active army. Was assigned to the Life Guards Pavlovsky Regiment.
Soldier Vasily Kochetkov went through the entire war, starting with the rearguard battles of 1812, when the Russian army retreated toMoscow. He fought in the famous battle of Borodino, which turned the tide of the war, and the "battle of the peoples" near Leipzig, which became the largest battle of the 19th century. Participated in the capture of Paris, ending the campaign against Napoleon with the rank of sergeant major.
End of military service
The next military campaign of Vasily Kochetkov will be the Russian-Turkish war of 1828-1829, when the Ottoman Empire lost significant territories. He happened to take part in the assault on the Ottoman fortresses of Varna, Isakchi and the campaign against Silistria.
The following year, after the end of the war, the Pavlovsky Guards Regiment was sent to suppress the Polish uprising. Fierce fighting lasted a whole year. Kochetov took part in the defeat of the rebels on the Grokhovsky field and near Ostrolenka, where the 48,000th Polish army was defeated. In 1831, he was part of the Russian troops who stormed Warsaw. This battle marked the beginning of the full entry of Poland into the Russian Empire.
By 1836, the illustrious veteran had served the prescribed term of compulsory military service (25 years) under the two emperors Alexander I and Nicholas I, and could have easily retired. But Kochetkov could not imagine himself outside the army.
Prisoner of the Caucasus
After several years of peaceful life, Vasily Kochetkov, as part of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment, is sent to the Caucasus. The illustrious veteran is 58 years old, but he still takes an active part in the clashes.
During the year of service in the Caucasian theater of operations, he was twicewounded. The first time right through the neck and the second - in two legs, while the left shin was crushed. In 1845, the veteran was again wounded in the left shin in the battle at the village of Dargo, and he was captured by the Chechens. Vasily Kochetkov spent almost ten months in captivity.
When the wound healed, he managed to escape from the mountain village, showing extraordinary military ingenuity and just miracles of resourcefulness. For this feat, he was awarded the St. George Cross of the 4th degree.
In 1849, after six years spent in the Caucasus, Kochetkov departed with his military unit for Hungary to suppress the liberation uprising directed against the Austrian Empire. He took part in the decisive battle of Debrechin.
After the defeat of the Hungarian troops, he takes an exam for an officer rank (by length of service) and receives the rank of second lieutenant. However, the illustrious veteran refuses the epaulette, preferring simple soldier's shoulder straps. In recognition of his military merit, he receives the right to wear a silver chevron on the sleeve of his uniform and an officer's saber lanyard. His military salary is set at 2/3 of the salary of a second lieutenant. The next two years, until 1851, he served at the headquarters of the corps.
After forty years of impeccable service, in 1851 Vasily Kochetkov retired with honor. However, the honored veteran rested for only a couple of years. He again goes to military service when the Crimean War began. At the call, he was assigned to the Kazan Cavalry Chasseurs Regiment.
Again, the soldier was at the very front, among the participants in the heroic defense of Sevastopol. Despite his age, he participated in forays into enemy positions with hunting teams. During fierce battles during the defense of the Kornilov bastion, he was wounded by fragments of a bomb that exploded nearby.
After the end of the war, he continued to serve in the Life Guards Dragoon Regiment, in accordance with the personal order of Emperor Alexander II. In 1862, the illustrious veteran was enlisted in the honorary company of the palace grenadiers and he was awarded the next rank of non-commissioned officer. At this time, he was already 78 years old.
The veteran held a high enough position for a soldier, and had a good financial situation. But the quiet life was not for him.
Conquest of Turkestan
In 1869, he sent a report to the command for transfer to a military unit that fought with the Uzbek khanates. In Central Asia, Vasily Nikolaevich took part in the battles for Samarkand and Turkestan. In 1874, he participated in the march of a detachment under the command of Adjutant General Kaufman, who passed through the desert and took Khiva by unexpected storm. In the same year, Vasily Kochetkov was recalled to Russia, again by the Highest order, and sent to serve in the protection of the imperial train.
In 1876, the Balkan countries rebelled against Ottoman rule - Serbia and Montenegro, to which a five thousandth volunteer detachment from Russia advanced to help. 92-year-old volunteer Vasily Kochetkov also went to help the Slavic peoples. After the startanother Russian-Turkish war, the veteran joined the 19th Cavalry Artillery Brigade, in which he participated in the famous battle for Shipka, where he was again wounded and lost his left leg.
In 1878, for special merits, he was transferred to the Life Guards Horse Artillery Brigade. After the war, he returned to serve in the grenadier company, where he served for another 13 years. At the age of 107, he retired from the army, and decided to go to his homeland. The veteran died on the road May 30, 1892. Vasily Nikolayevich served in the army for 81 years.
In 2013, a memorial stone was laid in Ulyanovsk on the site of the future monument to the "soldier of the three emperors" Vasily Kochetkov, as a symbol of all Russian military personnel. However, local historians are embarrassed that there were no publications about him in the Siberian press. The only source of information about the heroic soldier is the September 1892 issue of the Government Gazette.