This article is based on archival documents and confronts the historical facts with what in the early stage of WWI became a feat of Russian war propaganda. The alleged victory of the cossack Koz’ma Kryuchkov, wounded in an early cavalry encounter on the Russian border with Eastern Prussia on 12 August 1914, was modelled into a heroic deed and embellished for popular use on posters, post cards and in <i>lubki</i>, a traditional kind of wide-spread popular print in Russia. However, the attempt to foster Russian fighting spirit and patriotism with the Russian rank and file soon came to naught. To a lesser degree the reasons for this failure laid in the discrepancy of factual reality and fantastic invention, more seriously they were founded on the inappropriate circumstances. To choose the Cossack type for a national war hero doomed the effort from the beginning, because Cossacks at that time were negatively connoted in large parts of the population, and the Kriuchkov story unrealistically relied on individual heroism in a modern war of mass armies. Thus, neither the civil population nor the Russian soldiers could find identification with this story, while in the course of the war their own war experiences ever more differed from any heroic narratives.