Romanov Empire - Империя Романовых
Romanov Empire - Империя РомановыхHistorical Society - Историческое ОбществоСанкт-Петербург, Россия
1657] DIARY OF PATRICK GORDON. 25   A.D. 1657.   He was less fortunate on the next occasion. Some Polish peasants

1657] DIARY OF PATRICK GORDON. 25 A.D. 1657. He was less fortunate on the next occasion. Some Polish peasants



Passages from the diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries : A.D. 1635-A.D. 1699"


A.D. 1657.

He was less fortunate on the next occasion. Some Polish peasants, in the garb of soldiers,
surprised him in a solitary ride, and carried him into Dantzic. They searched him by the way
but were so little expert, that he was able to conceal from them a purse with fourteen dollars
They next proposed that he should take off his new English boots, in order to exchange them
for a pair of theirs ; but, perceiving with whom he had to deal, the Scot refused in a high tone,
and threatened that he would report them to the commandant of the city. That person on
learning that the captive was of the Douglas company, exclaimed, ' Ha ! have we got one of
these birds ? ' Gordon was sent to prison under the charge of a corporal, with whom he deal*
earnestly for the recovery of his Latin Thomas a Kempis. The corporal was deaf to his
prisoner's entreaties, and Gordon is at pains to chronicle the revenge which he afterwards
wreaked upon his obdurate jailor.

He was urged to take service with the Poles, but, like most of his Swedish fellow captives
refused, and in no long time was set free by exchange. Lieutenant-Colonel Drummond, Major
Fullerton, Lieutenant Scott, and others of his countrymen, obtained their liberty about the
same time. Among those who tempted him to follow the Polish banner, was a countryman and
namesake, if not also a kinsman, Patrick Gordon of the Steel Hand.* The owner of this re-
doubtable name, who was then a captain in the Polish cavalry, at once asked if he was not a
son of Gordon of Achleuchries. Gordon no sooner returned to the Swedish camp than he pro-
ceeded to extort from the peasants who had entrapped him, compensation for the horse and
equipments which he had lost. A n attack of fever now stretched him on bed, in a village which
was one day surprised by the Poles, when seventy Swedes were killed, and forty made
prisoners. The woman of the house n which Gordon lay passed him off as her sick husband •
and his countryman and attendant, Alexander Keith, hid himself in a barn. They were the
only two of their party who escaped. The Diary here records an example of the impetuous
temper of the successor of Gustavus Adolphus and Christina. A complaint having been pre-

* Patrick Gordon, 'with the Steel Hand,' him to haue come to his hous.' Not many
was, along with Lord Lewis Gordon, young months afterwards. Steel Hand appears to have
Leith of Harthill, and other northern royalists, made his peace with the Kirk. In October,
excommunicated by tlie commission of the 1651, he presented himself before the prQvin-
General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, cial synod of Aberdeen, beseeching release
in June, 1647, for rising in arms with the from his excommunication, and appealing to
Marquess of Huntly. In December, 1650, the the testimony of the brethren of the presby-
brethren of the presbytery of Strathbogie, in tery of the Garioch for proof of his penitence,
their visitation of the kirk of Eothiemay, The synod appointed three of its members to
made inquiiy of the laird if the minister, Mr. goe apart and conferr with him anent his
James Gordon, (author of the ' History of sense off his former guiltiness and gross de-
Scots Affairs, from 1G37 to 1641,') 'conversit bordinges.' The report of the reverend dele-
frequently with malignants,' and, ' particu- gates was 'that they found in him some signes
larlie, if he conversit with Patrick Gordon, of repentance;' and tliesjmod accordingly re-
alias Steilhand.' The Inird's answer was, that, mitted him to the presbytery of Aberdeen 'to
'in tyme of the troubles, the said Patrick be relaxed.' His next appearance is, as re-
came sumtyme to the minister his hous, but corded in the text, in 1656, when he was a
knew not if the minister spoke with him; but, captain of I'olish Cavalrj'. He will be found
since the forty-seven year of God [when .Steel to present himself more than once in tlic sub-
Hand was excommunicated] he neuer knew sequent pages.

Gordon was brought up and remained a lifelong Roman Catholic, at a time when the Church was being persecuted in Scotland. At age of fifteen, he entered the Jesuit college at Braunsberg, East Prussia, then part of Poland. In 1661, after many years experiences as a soldier of fortune, he joined the Russian army under Tsar Aleksei I, and in 1665 was sent on a special mission to England. After his return, he distinguished himself in several wars against the Turks and Tatars in southern Russia. In recognition of his service he was promoted to major-general in 1678, was appointed to the high command at Kiev in 1679, and in 1683 was made lieutenant-general. In 1687 and 1689 he took part in expeditions against the Tatars in the Crimea, being made a full general. Later in 1689, a revolution broke out in Moscow, and with the troops under his command, Gordon virtually decided events in favor of Peter the Great against the Regent, Tsarevna Sophia Alekseyevna. Consequently, he was for the remainder of his life in high favor with the Tsar, who confided to him the command of his capital during his absence from Russia. In 1696, Gordon's design of a "moveable rampart" played a key role in helping the Russians take Azov. One of Gordon's convinced the Tsars to establish the first Roman Catholic church and school in Muscovy, of which he remained the main benefactor and headed the Catholic community in Russia until his death. For his services his second son James, brigadier of the Russian army, was created Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1701. At the end of his life the Tsar, who had visited Gordon frequently during his illness, was with him when he died, and with his own hands closed his eyes. General Gordon left behind him a uniquely detailed diary of his life and times, written in English. This is preserved in manuscript in the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow. Passages from the Diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries (1635–1699) was printed, under the editorship of Joseph Robertson, for the Spalding Club, at Aberdeen, Scotland, 1859.



1635 - 1699


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