"Execution is a terrible day that I cannot think of without a shudder"

Chronicle of events on Senate Square and the "portraits" of the Decembrists, compiled by Nicholas I:

“December 14th has finally arrived, a fateful day! I got up early and, dressed, received General Voinov; then he went out into the hall of the present chambers of Alexander Nikolaevich, where all the generals and regimental commanders of the guard were gathered. ⟨...⟩ Having received from everyone the assurance of loyalty and willingness to sacrifice himself, he ordered to go according to his commands and take the oath.

Soon we came to count Count Miloradovich with new assurances of perfect peace. Whereupon I was at my mother's where I saw him again, and returned to myself. General Orlov, who was in command of the horse guards, arrived with the news that the regiment had taken the oath; after talking with him for quite a while, I let him go. Soon, Commander of the Guards Artillery Major General Sukhozanet came to me with the news that the artillery had sworn, but that in the Guards Horse Artillery the officers questioned the justice of the oath, wanting first to hear this certificate from Mikhail Pavlovich, who was considered removed from St. Petersburg, who was removed from St. Petersburg. as if from his disagreement with my introduction. Many of these officers were so obedient that General Sukhozanet had to arrest them all. But almost at the same time Mikhail Pavlovich finally arrived, whom I asked to immediately go to the artillery to bring the misguided into order.

⟨...⟩ This news struck me as with thunder, for from the first minute I did not see in this first obedience the action of one doubt, which I had always feared, but knowing the existence of the conspiracy, I recognized his first proof in this ... Putting the guard across the gate, I turned to to the people who, seeing me, began to run up to me and shout "Hurray." ⟨...⟩ It was necessary for me to gain time in order to allow the troops to gather, it was necessary to divert the attention of the people with something extraordinary - all these thoughts came as an inspiration to me, and I began to tell the people, asking if they were reading my manifesto. Everyone said no; it occurred to me to read it myself. Someone in the crowd found a copy; I took it and began to read quietly and protractedly, interpreting every word. But my heart sank, I confess, and the only God supported me. ”

Profiles of executed Decembrists

“When I went to the square, I wished to see if it would not be possible to encircle the crowd and force them to surrender without bloodshed. At this time, they made a volley for me, the bullets whistled through my head, and, fortunately, none of us was injured. Workers of St. Isaac's Cathedral from the fences began to throw logs at us. It was necessary to decide to put an early end to this, otherwise the mob could have communicated, and then the troops surrounded by it would be in the most difficult situation. ”

“I can’t remember who was the first one brought: it seems to me - Shchepin-Rostovsky. He, in his full form and then in white trousers, was first captured, now after breaking the rebellious crowd; he was led past the faithful part of the Moscow regiment, the officers recognized him and in a fit of indignation at him, who had deceived a part of the regiment astray, they rushed at him and tore off epaulettes; they pulled his hands back with a rope, and in that form he was brought to me. It was suspected that he was the main face of the riot; but from his first words it was possible to ascertain that he was one blind weapon of others and, like soldiers, he was lured by the conviction that he was loyal to Emperor Constantine. As much as I remember, the Bestuzhev Moscow Regiment was brought after him, and we already learned from him that Prince Trubetskoy was appointed to lead the rebellion. ”
“The whole night passed in these trips, heavy dates and interrogations. Of course, that all night I not only did not go to bed, but did not even manage to take off my dress and barely half an hour could lie down on the sofa, as I was dressed, but did not sleep. General Toll didn’t stop interrogating and writing all night long. By morning we were all like shadows and could move. So passed this memorable night. I can’t remember who exactly was taken at this time, but the readings of the prisoners were so diverse, extensive and complex that they needed special firmness of mind to not get lost in this chaos.

My determination was, from the very beginning, not to look for the guilty, but to give every stipulated opportunity to wash off a stain of suspicion. So it was performed holy. Any person to whom there was one statement, without an obvious participation in the incident, which was accomplished under our eyes, was called for interrogation; his denial or lack of evidence was sufficient for his immediate release. ”

From the letter of Nicholas I on the progress of the trial:

“On Thursday (June 3), the trial began with all appropriate solemnity. Meetings go without a break from ten o'clock in the morning to three o'clock in the afternoon, and in spite of this, I still do not know how many may have ended. Then there will be a penalty — a terrible day that I cannot think of without a shudder. I suppose to produce it on the esplanade of the fortress ”.

Nicholas I on Senate Square

From the letter of Nicholas I after the sentencing of the Decembrists:

“Dear and kind mother, the sentence is pronounced and declared guilty. It is difficult to convey what is happening in me; I have some kind of fever that I can’t determine exactly. This state is mixed with the feeling of some kind of extreme horror and, at the same time, thanksgiving to God that he helped us to bring this disgusting process to the end. My head is positively spinning. If we add to this that they bombard me with letters, some of which are filled with despair, others are written in a state of insanity, then I assure you, dear mother, that only the consciousness of terrible duty forces me to endure such torture. This case should be committed tomorrow at three o'clock in the morning. "

"Pestel was a villain in the full force of the word, without the slightest shadow of repentance, with a brutal expression and the most audacious audacity in denial."

“Sergey Muravyov was a model of the obstinate villain. Gifted with an extraordinary mind, received an excellent education, but in an overseas manner, he was arrogant and arrogant in his thoughts to insanity, but at the same time hidden and unusually firm. Seriously wounded in the head, when he was taken with a weapon in his hand, he was brought chained down. Here they took the chains from him and brought them to me. Weakened by heavy wounds and shackles, he could barely walk. ”

“Sergei Volkonsky is a stuffed fool, so well known to us all for a long time, a liar and a scoundrel in the full sense, and here he showed himself the same. Without answering anything, standing up like a stunned man, he was the most disgusting specimen of an ungrateful villain and the silliest man. ”

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