The Bielozersky Infantry Regiment was formed in 1699 by Tsar Peter the Great. Its first commander was Johann Berner and the regiment was ranked 24th in order of seniority.
The regiment takes its name from the town of Bielozersk which lies on the Volga, to the north of Moscow. The surrounding area is rich in lakes and rivers with an abundance of fish. Thick forests complete the picture. During the Seven Years War the regiment used a badge bearing two crossed fish in commemoration of this region. It fought at the bloody battle of Kunersdorf in 1759. Bielozersk is the home of the famous St. Kirill-Bielozersk monastery.
In 1812 the regiment participated in at the battle of Borodino as part of General Olusfiev’s 17th Division. A year later it saw action at the battle of Leipzig. By 1914 the Belozersky Regiment was numbered the 13th Infantry Regiment. It was stationed at Lomja in the Warsaw Military District. The regiment also had a more resounding title, that of General Field-Marshal Prince Volkonsky’s Regiment. In the August heat of 1914 it marched off to war as the senior regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, 2nd Russian Army. This army was commanded by the ill fated General Samsonov.
In support of other Russian forces 2nd army blundered through the sandy forests and around the numerous lakes of East Prussia before being cut up by the German 8th Army. Surrounded on all sides the Russians failed to break out of the trap and died or surrendered in their thousands. Two and a half companies of the Belozersky regiment attempted to cling on to Rotfliess Railway Station near Lake Daday and for a time managed to hold out. Only a few survivors made it back to Russian territory. General Samsonov committed suicide and the Germans re-named the battle `Tannenberg’ after an earlier medieval battle of that name.
The Belozersky regiment was reformed and continued to serve in all the major Russian offensives of the war. It saw action during the Brusilov offensive of 1916 and in Kerensky’s much vaunted summer offensive of 1917. During the Russian Civil War soldiers of the regiment fought with the Whites in the south of Russia.
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