Thank You Letter from the St Petersburg Nobility to a
Participant of the Battle of Chemulpo, 1904.
Encased in royal blue hard folder with gold impression of
the coat of arms of St. Petersburg in the center and anchors
in the corners representing the navy. Below the city emblem
is gold impression "From the St. Petersburg Nobility, 1904".
Measures 6 ¾" by 7 ½" (17 cm x 24 cm) when folded.
On the first interior page is photographic portrait of
Emperor Nicholas II. On the opposite page is text of the
letter embellished with florals, motif of oars and anchor,
the badge of the Order of St. George and the emblem of St.
Petersburg. In the upper portion of the page is nicely
detailed depiction of the Varyag and Koreets.
Full text of the letter is a follows.
"Peaceful intentions of Russia were not destined to disperse
the dark cloud of the war in the East. A handful of our
warriors didn't tremble, refusing to lower the St. Andrew's
flag when confronted by an entire enemy squadron.
Valiant participants of the battle of Chemulpo, you've
proved to the entire world that ancient traditions are still
alive in the Russian Navy, as well as the borderless bravery
of old and the readiness to sacrifice oneself for the
The nobility of St. Petersburg is celebrating your safe
homecoming. In these days of severe trials we pray to God
our Lord that He may save all our beloved brothers who had
been called to arms to defend the honor and dignity of the
With all of Russia we will calmly meet any sorrow. Will all
of Russia we do not doubt the eventual military victory of
the people who are selflessly devoted to the Tsar and the
Motherland. May you have long lives our brothers, blessed
with the serene feeling of having fulfilled your duty, with
understanding that from now on, the names of Varyag
and Koreets will forever remain in history books".
The original letter was signed by Marshal of the Nobility of
St. Petersburg region and by Marshals of eight districts
within the region. The document was then photocopied from
the hand-written and hand-signed letter to make it available
for presentation to some 700 survivors of the battle on
their arrival to St. Petersburg (which was not only the
capital of the Russian Empire but also the main base of its
The folder is in good to very good condition. The front
cover shows stains and blemishes to the blue background,
however the gold leaf held surprisingly well and is
practically intact. Minor wear to the corners, not
detracting. The interior pages show occasional foxing and
light stains, but are relatively clean overall and
completely legible despite the tiny font of the letter. The
artwork is beautifully crisp.
During the battle of Chemulpo Bay, at the start of the
Russo-Japanese War, the cruiser Varyag and the
gunboat Koreets faced a vastly superior Japanese
squadron of six cruisers and eight destroyers. Instead of
surrender, the Russian ships opened fire in a heroic gesture
of defiance. The Russian artillery crewmen stuck to their
guns despite the lack of splinter shields. When they were
put out of action by notoriously accurate Japanese gunnery,
the Varyag was scuttled. Although the battle ended in
defeat, the event was celebrated as an example of Russian
doggedness. For pressing a heroic attack in the face of
certain destruction, the crews of both vessels were honored
as national heroes and the epitome of the indomitable
Russian fighting spirit. A special medal was struck for the
enlisted and petty officers involved, whereas the surviving
officers of both Russian warships received an Order of St.
All-in-all, there must have been no more than 700 survivors
who received this thank you letter when they returned home
to Russia from the battle. Keeping in mind the turbulent and
tragic history of Russia in the past century, one must
assume that most other copies of the letter are now forever
lost or destroyed. This document is a truly unique witness
of a bygone era, a poignant reminder of Russia's heroic past
and unfulfilled aspirations.