Chuguev is accepted to have been founded
in 1638. It was at that time that a numerous Cossacks detachment that had rebelled against
Polish oppression lead by hetman Yakov Ostryanitsa was defeated in one of the battles and
consequently fled to the left-bank part of Ukraine. The Belgorod voivod made them settle
in Chuguev and assigned them the task of building fortifications to protect southern
borders against Crimean Tartars' incursions. In 1641, 400 strelets and Cossacks were moved
here, and later in 1696, fifteen hundred Kalmyks. Among the people that were moved here
convicts, criminals sentenced for hard labour, Prussian prisoners of war (captured during
the Seven Years' War). Chuguev citizens were dubbed accordingly that is using a term
meaning "people gathered from different places".
The people were engaged in farming, cattle-breeding, fishing,
beekeeping. A "king's vineyard" was set up over the territory of 5450 hectares.
There were vast mulberry plantations around Chuguev at that time. The finest silk woven
from the silken threads of Chuguev cocoons were supplied to the Tsar's court. Honey and
wax from the state run apiaries where Chuguev Cossacks worked were sent to Moscow. Near
Chuguev, in Pechenegy, Tsar's hunting lands were set up with such animals as deer, roe
deer, wild boar, bears. Chuguev made wares - phaetons, carriages, coaches - were popular
in Moscow and the new northern capital St Petersburg. Really talented people ran their
business on the generous Chuguev soil.
From 1817 till 1858, the town was the centre of six
military districts organised under order of Alexander I. The Chuguev regiment was billeted
here. The Repins family were part of the military citizens, too. The future great artist's
father - Yefim Vasilyevich Repin served a private soldier of Chuguev uhlan regiment. He
excellently carried his duties, had battle honours, took part in campaigns in Persia,
Turkey, Moldavia, in the Caucasus, in the Crimea. This was how 27 years of military
service had gone by. The whole burden of responsibility for the household was on the
mother - Tatyana Stepanovna - a strong-willed and clever woman with noted for her
kindness. During the time of military campaigns of the regiment she bore the brunt of
carrying out the necessary duties, sewing commissioned coats, bringing up four children.
Now there is a monument on her grave made according to the sketches of Ilya Efimovich
Since it had been made the centre of military
settlements, Chuguev's general outlook and layout started rapidly changing. Vineyards,
apple and cherry orchards were cut down, clay-walled huts with thatched roofs were knocked
down. Officers' mansions, warehouses, a schools for military staff's children were erected
in their place in Dvoryanskaya street. In Soldatskaya, Nikolayevskaya, Nikitinskaya
streets new one storey stone houses for military staff sprang up like mushrooms. They were
so much alike with their three windows looking out onto the street and their triangular
pediments that as I. E. Repin used to say ironically even pigeons often made mistakes
identifying the household. The houses (every single house a defence position) were joined
together by brick walls that had recesses underneath which could serve as embrasures. In
one these houses where the Repins used to live the re is now a Repin museum. The opening
ceremony was held in 1969, during the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the great
artist's birthday. The are a number of authentic works by the great artist on exhibition
in this museum, some memorable rarities. The parlour of the Repins house was
reconstructed. The museum gives the idea of what the life of the military citizens was
Gvardeyskaya street leads to the central town square.
There used to be a palace behind the park, where the Tsar would stay on his visits in
order to attend military parades. At this point the hill goes steeply down to the
watercourse of the Seversky Donents river. From the top of the hill there is a magnificent
view over the blue line of the river, the green of the vast forests of the Chuguev area.
Far to the East one can barely see the buildings of the village Malinovka, the very place
that the popular operetta movie tells about. This movie by B. A. Alexandrov is called
"The Wedding in Malinovka". The script was created by L. A. Yukhvid, an author
from Kharkov, in 1937.
In 1819, the central square of Chuguev became the
site of reprisals against the citizens of the military settlements, who dared rebel
against the tyranny and purposeless soldier drilling. The rebellion spread like fire over
the territory with population of more than 28 thousand people, the military settlements of
Volchansk, Zmiyov, Bazalevka, Grakov, Pechenegy, and was threatening to spread further
over other Russian provinces. The government troops ruthlessly suppressed the rebellion,
2003 participants of the rebellion were arrested, including officers, 257 people were
subjected to the lethal punishment of 12 000 rod lashes. The reprisals were carried out by
none other than Arakcheyev. But the spirit of the rebels was not crushed; the parents who
parted with their children going to execution entreated them not to beg for mercy. The
events in Chuguev were indirectly included in the plot of Gogol's work "Taras
In the northern part of the square situated a strict
three storey building. It's formal purpose is emphasised by smooth white walls, small
ledges, the absence of stucco-works. It was corps, divisional, and district headquarters
of the military settlements. Later it became the military topography college, where I. E.
Repin used to study. Right next to the building there is a tower with a clock and a
landing that provides a panoramic view of the whole town. It is interesting to note that
the general building schemes for the military settlements were developed by well known
Russian architects V. P. Stasov and A. P. Brullov. Many of the buildings are now listed
buildings. The most interesting of the buildings of that time is Pokrovsky cathedral
situated in the western part of the square. On the southernmost end of the square there is
a two storey building - an example of Russian classicism in architecture. Gvardeyskaya
street which begins from the square is a market stalls site surrounded by a gallery behind
a 17 arch arcade. The street goes down to Krasnych Bortsov square. There is a Culture
palace building in the square where there is an arts school named after I. E. Repin. Next
to the Palace there is a bronze Repin bust - a beautiful monument by the outstanding
sculptor M. G. Manizer (erected in 1956).
Since the railroad was constructed in the 19th
century, industrial establishments begin to emerge in Chuguev, the workforce begins to
increase. A wheel-drive plant was transferred here from one of the Baltic states. The
workers of this plant became a nucleus of a bolshevism organisation in 1916. On 16
December 1917, communist power was established in Chuguev. One of the streets is named
after B. P. Zhadanovsky, who was a well known revolutionary. During the Great Patriotic
War the population were defending their native town, displaying great heroism. About 6,000
people went to fight in the war, and more than two thirds of them fell in battle. Hundreds
were given orders and medals. Three people - V. N. Balakin, A. I. Zinchenko, V. P.
Komendant - were given the titles of Soviet Union Heroes. Four people - M. P. Zozula, V.
M. Mishchenko, M. I. Fursov, V. I. Litvinov - chevaliers of complete Orders of Glory. This
is why one of the central streets of the town was called Gvardeyskaya. The Chuguev
citizens memorialised the defendants of the country and their native town by building a
memorial site in the park of Glory.
By the 1980's Chuguev became an important industrial,
transport, and cultural centre. Here were functioning plants producing high precision
equipment, fuel equipment, the "Hydrozhelezobeton" plant, and one of the oldest
industrial establishments of the town - the furniture works. A slaughterhouse, a dairy,
big hothouse farms, farm complexes supplied Kharkov with their produce.
The 1990's were a period of radical change in
economic life of the town, accompanied by decline in production.