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Why Admiral Nakhimov, risking his life, wore golden epaulettes, and for which he was respected even by enemies
Why Admiral Nakhimov, risking his life, wore golden epaulettes, and for which he was respected even by enemies

In the summer of 1855, Russian Admiral Nakhimov fell during the defense of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. The superior navies of England, France and Turkey with Sardinia blocked the Russian fleet in the bay. Defending the city resolutely, Nakhimov realized all the disadvantages of his own position against the background of the combined enemy forces, the admiral knew about the intentions of the command to surrender Sevastopol. But for many reasons I could not put up with such a decision. In the last months before his death, Nakhimov, the only officer in the army, continued to wear gold epaulettes, which served as a target for the enemy. When Nakhimov was buried, not a single shot was fired, and flags were lowered even on enemy ships.

Sinop victory and the arrival of superior forces

Nakhimov on the deck of the Empress Maria during the Battle of Sinop

In the 1850s, the Eastern question escalated. In the fall of 1853, the Ottoman sultan declared war on the Russian Empire, which entailed a heroic Crimean epic with an unsuccessful outcome for the Russians. On November 18, an experienced vice-admiral Nakhimov, who had managed to distinguish himself many times in battles, destroyed the enemy's fleet in the Sinop Bay. In that brilliant battle for the Russian squadron, over 3 thousand Turks were killed, the Turkish admiral was captured. At the same time, losses among the Russians were limited to 37 killed, not a single ship was sunk. The Sinop victory, according to Nicholas I, who signed the decree appointing Nakhimov to the award, will forever remain in history a legendary naval achievement.

But this glorious episode led to the fact that the war on Russia was already declared by the Ottoman allies - Great Britain and France. The West was afraid that the Russians would implement Catherine's plan to seize Constantinople with the strait. Russia's victory opened up the broadest geopolitical prospects in the Middle East, the Balkans and the Mediterranean. England and France undertook to prevent Russia from becoming a superpower and positionally save Turkey from complete defeat. A classic of the genre, practiced for centuries: civilized Europe opposes Russian aggression. In September 1854, the allied forces landed at Evpatoria and near Balaklava, defeating Menshikov's army and laying siege to Sevastopol. Thus began the heavy defense of the city, which lasted 339 days.

The soul of townspeople and sailors

Companions: Lazarev, Nakhimov and Putyatin

After Vice-Admiral Kornilov was killed in the first bombing of Sevastopol, Nakhimov took over the defense of the city, and with this the administrative leadership. Pavel Stepanovich enjoyed the greatest respect in the circles of soldiers and sailors. Peaceful townspeople who called the admiral "the benefactor father" were no exception. Nakhimov despised dangers, daily personally bypassing the defensive line. With his fearless presence in the hottest spots, he strengthened the spirit of both sailors and the ranks of the ground forces.

Always concerned above all with preserving the lives of his subordinates, the admiral did not spare only himself. At that time, Nakhimov's associate and comrade-in-arms, Adjutant General Totleben, supervised engineering work in Sevastopol. In his memoirs, he wrote that during the entire siege, Nakhimov alone did not take off the shining epaulettes, which served as bait for the enemy riflemen hunting the command staff.Nakhimov did this in order to convey a strong mood to his subordinates.

The inevitability of a city fall and a non-random bullet

Nakhimov's wound

Despite the willingness of the defenders of Sevastopol to stand to the end, it became clear to everyone that the city would be surrendered. Nakhimov, who was not going to survive the fall of Sevastopol, seemed to specially appear in the most dangerous places. The admiral was now and then seen unhurriedly watching the enemy on the bastion towers, and he did not move along trenches, but through areas that were shot through and through. As the associate of Nakhimov, Prince Vasilchikov, said, Pavel Stepanovich, remaining the last of the comrades-in-arms of the "former valor of the fleet," deliberately attracted the attention of British and French riflemen. At the same time, Nakhimov continued tirelessly without sleep and rest to carry his burden of the commander-in-chief.

The contemporaries of those events heard personally from the admiral that he was ready to die and asked to be buried near Lazarev, where at that time the brave Kornilov and Istomin had already rested by death. Nakhimov repeated more than once that even when Sevastopol was surrendered, he, with the support of his sailors, would hold out on the Malakhov Kurgan for at least a month until he died in a fair fight.

In the early morning of June 28, 1855, Nakhimov, accompanied by adjutant Koltovsky, set off on horseback to the shelled bastion on the Malakhov Kurgan. Refusing to participate in the church service on the occasion of honoring the apostles Peter and Paul (the name day of the admiral), the admiral climbed to the very top. Borrowing a telescope from the signalman, he turned his gaze to the French. They began to persuade Nakhimov to at least bend down, and it is better to go behind the shelters. The admiral stood his ground, being a fixed target in his black frock coat with gold epaulettes. The first bullet hit the earthen bag at the feet of the admiral. But this fact did not budge Nakhimov. The second bullet overtook the target, and the admiral fell to the ground. Attempts to save Pavel Stepanovich, who was struck in the head, were unsuccessful.

Farewell to the Legendary Warlord

Celebrations in Sevastopol on the occasion of the anniversary of the Battle of Sinop

All of Sevastopol went out to say goodbye to the admiral. On that day, not a single volley was fired from the enemy side. The funeral of Nakhimov was described in detail by the Crimean historian Dyulichev. From the admiral's house to the Cathedral of St. Vladimir, the defenders who held the defense of the city stood in several rows, taking their guns to guard. An unprecedented crowd followed the hero's ashes. Nobody even thought to hide from enemy canister or to beware of the usual shelling. And the guns of the French and the British, who knew about what was happening in the city from the reports of the scouts, were silent.

In those days, they knew how to value courage and nobility even in the enemy. A tense silence was blown up by a military band, behind it cannons rumbled in a farewell salute, and flags were lowered on ships. Not hiding from the views of the Sevastopol and how slowly the flags crept down on the enemy ships. And through the telescope one could see how the British officers, huddled on the deck, took off their caps.

And there was one sailor with whom Nakhimov himself did not shy away from having dinner. The legendary peasant Cat, whom even the nobles wanted to meet.

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