The sculpture of a mounted Bashkir in Veessen
In 1810, Napoleon annexed the Netherlands to his French Empire. Within just a few weeks during November-December 1813, the Russian general Alexander von Benckendorff managed to break French rule with a daring campaign. Commissioned by Tsar Alexander I, he has made an essential contribution to the formation of our current monarchy.
His horsemen of the Russian 1st Bashkir Regiment – fearless archers – were among the first to advance to Amsterdam and The Hague. Benckendorff camped his Bashkirs in Wijhe for a month. Near Veessen, they have built a ship-bridge across the River IJssel. For two months, the ship-bridge formed an important strategic connection across the river for Bashkirs, Cossacks and regular troops.
This sculpture by Alexander Taratynov gives an impression of a Bashkir horseman. The French called these archers “the Cupids of the North”: their nickname. The statue is a gift from the Republic of Bashkortostan (Russian Federation).