The Empire of Russia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 601 pages of information about The Empire of Russia.

With waving banners and pealing trumpets, the army was now conducted before the walls of the city.  Every thing there seemed abandoned and in profound silence and solitude.  Not the slightest movement could be perceived.  Not an individual appeared upon the walls.  Many of the Russians began to rejoice, imagining that the tzar of Kezan, struck with terror, had fled with all his army into the forest.  But the generals, more experienced, suspected a snare, and regarded the aspect of affairs as a motive for redoubled prudence.  With great caution they made their dispositions for commencing the siege.  As a division of seven thousand troops were crossing a bridge which they had thrown over a ditch near the walls, suddenly a violent uproar succeeded the profound silence which had reigned in the city.  The air was filled with cries of rage.  The massive gates rolled open upon their hinges, and fifteen thousand mounted Tartars, armed to the teeth, rushed upon the little band with a shock utterly resistless, and, in a few moments, the Russians were cut to pieces in the presence of the whole army.  The victorious Tartars, having achieved this signal exploit, swept back again into the city and the gates were closed.  This event taught the Russians prudence.

Anticipating a long siege, a city of tents was reared, with its streets and squares, beyond the reach of the guns from the walls.  Three churches of canvas were constructed, where worship was daily held.  Day after day, the siege was conducted with the usual events witnessed around a beleaguered fortress.  There were the thunderings of artillery, the explosion of mines, fierce and bloody sorties, the shrieks of the combatants, and the city ever burning by flames enkindled by red hot shot thrown over the walls.  The Russian batteries grew every day more and more formidable, and the ramparts crumbled beneath their blows.  The Russian army was so numerous that the soldiers relieved themselves at the batteries, and the bombardment was continued day and night.  At length a Tartar army was seen descending the distant mountains and hastening to the relief of the garrison.  Ivan dispatched one half his army to meet them.  The Tartars, after a sanguinary conflict, were cut to pieces.  As the division returned covered with dust and blood, and exulting in their great achievement, Ivan displayed the prisoners, the banners, and the spoil he had taken, before the walls of the city.  A herald was then sent, to address these words to the besieged: 

“Ivan promises you life, liberty and pardon for the past, if you will submit yourselves to him.”

The response returned was,

“We had rather die by our own pure hands, than perish by those of miserable Christians.”

This answer was followed by a storm of all the missiles of war.

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The Empire of Russia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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