Among the unusual military units, the "Amazon Company" of Grigory Potemkin stands apart. Created at the end of the 18th century, it was quickly disbanded and did not participate in any battle, but the noble ladies-warriors managed to show their real class during their service: bearing, the ability to ride a horse perfectly, fencing with sabers and firing with a volley from guns amazed our military and foreign guests.
It was dangerous to disappoint Catherine, so messages with orders were sent to Crimea almost immediately: to create a special women's unit and train recruits in martial art so that they could be introduced to the empress. Chaponi, Prime Major of the Balaklava Greek Regiment, was extremely surprised, but he was not used to discussing orders. Within a couple of weeks, one hundred noble wives and daughters of the Balaklava Greeks were selected to a new female company, which everyone began to call "Amazonian". They were commanded by the 19-year-old wife of Captain Sarandov, Elena Ivanovna.
Of course, the first step for the unusual recruits was to sew a uniform. Here the tailors' fantasy did not disappoint: velvet crimson skirts and green jackets trimmed with gold lace, white high turbans with gold sequins and an ostrich feather - women looked truly bravo in their new outfit. In addition, the ladies were mercilessly driven to teach the basics of the art of war. They mastered rifle shooting and saber fencing, kept an excellent equestrian formation and acted incredibly well. The Crimean Amazons looked brilliant and were ready to meet the distinguished guests on time. Preserved "Note on the Amazonian company", in which an eyewitness tells in detail about this event:
The "Amazon company" accompanied the empress to Bakhchisarai. At the end of the visit, the empress granted Sarandova the rank of captain, and so the first female officer appeared in Russia. The entire company received a huge reward for those times - 10 thousand rubles, and the commander was also sent a separate diamond ring in 1800 rubles. However, this was the end of the tsar's favors, Potemkin disbanded the company in the same year, and the Amazons were forgotten for many years.
Only more than 60 years later, the former captain of the women's company once again reminded of herself. Being already very elderly, the woman turned for help to Prince Vorontsov, who conveyed her request to the court. The petition said that Captain Sarandova (by her second marriage Shidyanskaya) in the same month the woman received a generous allowance of 300 rubles, which allowed her to live out her days in abundance. The first Russian female officer was buried in Simferopol. In the old cemetery, a simple sandstone monument was erected to her in the shape of the St. George cross, on which the inscription was carved:
Read more about women striving for "feminism in fashion": Gallant Ladies and Russian Noblewomen Thrown into the Street: A History of Short Women's Haircuts.