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DIARY OF PATRICK GORDON. [1659    One of Gordon's first duties, in his second campaign with the Poles

DIARY OF PATRICK GORDON. [1659 One of Gordon's first duties, in his second campaign with the Poles



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


One of Gordon's first duties, in his second campaign with the Poles, was with a party of seven
di-agoons to protect the Staroste of Libiish, not from the enemy, but from the Tolish troops as
they marched past. This task detained him for six weeks. He is warm in his praises of the
kind and friendly Podstaroste, and records that such were the gains of this service, that they
supplied him with a new uniform, two horses, a carriage, and a couple of servants, besides a
parting gift of one hundred gulders and an old but serviceable Turkish steed. Among the
gentry whose hospitality he shared was a German of the name of Milgost, who had an only
daughter, whose hand he signified his willingness to bestow upon the young quarter master, if
only he would renounce the profession of arms. He had another affair of the same sort at the
next place to which he was sent. A wealthy widow, in whose house they were quartered,
wished to marry his major, and the major, in turn, wished his quarter master to marry the
widow's daughter. To all these proposals the Scot returned soft but evasive answers.

About this time Gordon encountered two countrymen— James Burnett of Leys, whom he
found in the train of an envoy from the waywodc of Kiew in the Ukraine; and Dr. William
Davidson, then physician to Field-marshal Lubomirski, and subsequently first physician to
John Casimir, King of Poland.*

The Polish army, under Lubomirski, now sat down before Grandcnz. Gordon had often
been in the place while he was in the Swedish ranks, and the Field-marshal now consulted with
him as to the best point of attack. His counsel was followed, and with a successful issue. The
town was taken by storm, but, although the mutinous garrison capitulated, the commandant re-
treated to a tower of the citadel, and declared that he would rather die than give himself up to
' the knaves the Polls.' Gordon was sent to parley with him, and succeeded in persuading him to
sun-endcr to the Imperial auxiliaries of the Polish army. Meanwhile the soldiers pillaged his
boxes, nor did Gordon disdain the spoil of twelve or fifteen volumes, from his not inconsiderable
store of books. The captured garrison immediately took service with the Poles.

Gordon records about this time the arrival of a letter from his father at Auchleuchries ; the
death of Lieutenant Adam Gordon, and of Ensign John Kennedy; and the vain endeavours of
Major Patrick Gordon of the Steel Hand to get the property of the lieutenant, who was his
kinsman, out of the hands of the colonel of the regiment. Quarter master I'atrick Gordon was
pressed into this last business, with the promise of 'a share and half of all that might be re-
covered ; but although he almost came to blows with the colonel, and made a perilous journey
to the coast, all was to no purpose. William Gordon, a trader in Konigsberg. who acted as
banker for the deceased, refused to give up his moneys to Steel Hand, alleging that there were
nearer relatives in Scotland-an argument to which the quarter master could only oppose a
threat of future vengeance. This journey gave Gordon an opportunity of sending a letter to
October 15. his father, by the hands of Adam Gordon of Ardlogy, whom he met at Konigsberg about to

* Of this once eminent physician who, af\er 617; the Book of Bon-Accord, pp. 316, 317;

Dracusin- in Pari^ where he is said to have Fasti Abcrdoncnscs, pp. 400, 403, 404; Father

held Ic^otnce of intendant of the Jardin dcs Blakhal'sBreille Narration, pp. : 92, 198; James

Plantes finally settled in Poland, notices will Gordon's Description of Both Touns of Aber-

be found in the Biographic Uuiverselle, t. x., p. deen, p. 8,

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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