Denis Davydov

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Davydov, Denis Vasil’evich

 

Born July 16 (27), 1784. in Moscow; died Apr. 22 (May 4), 1839, in the village of Verkhniaia Maza, in present-day Radishchev Raion, Ul’ianovsk Oblast. Hero of the Patriotic War of 1812, military writer and poet, lieutenant general (1831). From a family of the military dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry).

Davydov served in the army from 1801 in the cavalry and from 1804 in the hussars. From 1806 to 1812, as an adjutant of General P. I. Bagration, he took part in the wars with France (1806–07). Sweden (1808–09). and Turkey (1809–12). He commanded various detachments and displayed decisiveness and personal bravery. At the beginning of the Patriotic War of 1812 he commanded a battalion of the Akhtyrka Hussar Regiment. In August 1812 he suggested to the Russian command that partisan action be organized in the rear of the Napoleonic army. He successfully commanded a detachment of hussars and cossacks in the rear of the enemy. As a participant in the foreign campaigns of 1813–14 he commanded a cavalry regiment and brigade. He was close to several future Decembrists, including M. F. Orlov, F. N. Glinka, and A. A. Bestuzhev. He retired in 1823 as chief of staff of a corps. In 1826 and 1827 he again served in the Caucasus. In 1831 he took part in the repression of the Polish uprising of 1830–31. After 1832 he lived in retirement.

Davydov was the author of several works on military history, including A Diary of the Partisan Movement of 1812 (1860) and An Attempt at a Theory of Partisan Action (1821). He was the first to deny that ice and cold were the reasons for Napoleon’s destruction in Russia and gave vivid characterizations of A. V. Suvorov, M. I. Kutuzov, P. I. Bagration, and others. Davydov first published his poetry in 1803. His poems that attacked the tsar and the court aristocracy circulated in manuscript form; they included “Heads and Feet” and “The River and the Mirror.” He was the creator of the genre called “hussar lyrics,” the unique lyric diary of a Russian officer who was a patriot, a freethinking warrior and poet, and a lover of merry revelry and hussar bravery (“A Hussar’s Feast,” “The Field of Borodino,” and others). His “Contemporary Song” (1836) attacked the pseudoliberals of his time.

WORKS

Sochinenüa. [Foreword, preparation, editing, and annotation by V. Orlov.] Moscow, 1962.
Voennye zapiski. Moscow, 1940.

REFERENCES

Belinskii, V. G. “Sochineniia ν stikhakh i proze Denisa Davydova.” Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 4. Moscow, 1954.
Solov’ev, V. A. Denis Davydov. Moscow, 1963.
Zadonskii, N. A. Denis Davydov: Istoricheskaia khronika. Moscow, 1968.
Semenko, I. M. Poety pushkinskoi pory. [Moscow, 1970.]
Istoriia russkoi literatury XIX v.: Bibliografich. ukazatel’. Moscow-Leningrad. 1962.
Mamyshev, V. N. General-leitenant D. V. Davydov. St. Petersburg, 1904.
Orlov, V. N. D. Davydov. Moscow. 1940.
Partizany 1812 goda, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1911.