“The presence of a woman, dressed neatly and helping to help, enlivens the deplorable vale of suffering and disaster,” wrote the famous Russian surgeon Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov from Sevastopol to his wife. It was under his leadership in 1854 that the first Holy Cross of the Sisters of Mercy of its kind was created. The story of women who saved more than one hundred lives during the Crimean War, recalls Ekaterina Astafieva.
The famous surgeon in the besieged city
According to official data during the defense of Sevastopol 1854−1855 for various reasons, more than one hundred thousand soldiers were killed. These horrific figures could have been even more impressive if Nikolay Ivanovich Pirogov had not come to the besieged city. The famous medical scientist, without hesitation, rushed to the aid of bleeding people. “To the one who has not yet cooled the heart for the high and the saint, one cannot look at everything that is being done around us, look with a one-sided egoistic look,” this was Pirogov’s life principle.
Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov
Upon arrival in Sevastopol, the surgeon operated 10 days from morning until evening to those who needed the surgery for 2–3 weeks. The subordinate hospitals were in a deplorable state. Diseases raged in the city, the wounded and typhoid were in the same room. There were not enough places for everyone, many soldiers had to lie in the corridors on the floor for days and nights without any help. The shortage of medicines also had an effect, and those that were still supplied were of poor quality. The words of the Strawberry from the Gogol Auditor come to mind: “The closer to nature, the better; we do not use expensive drugs. A simple man: if he dies, then he will die; if he recovers, he will recover. ” In addition, a widespread medical corruption network flourished in besieged Sevastopol: drugs simply did not reach the patients, but settled with the heads of the warehouses. A similar atmosphere reigned in Simferopol.
Surgeon and manager
The famous surgeon came in handy rather than medical, but administrative talents. Being sure that there was little operation for the recovery of the soldier, and correct care was also important, Pirogov rushed to restore order. First of all, he took the division of patients into categories. Now the mortally wounded lay apart from the lightly wounded, and assistance was provided primarily to those for whom it was vital. He also introduced the use of a plaster cast on the battlefield, and also taught surgeons to operate under general anesthesia. But the famous scholar considered the creation of a community of sisters of mercy to be his greatest achievement.
The share of the sacrifice and good Russian women
Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, the wife of Prince Mikhail Pavlovich helped in this noble affair of Pavlov. Thanks to her influence on Nicholas I and Alexander II, she was able to solve the financial and organizational side of the issue. Having created several hospitals and shelters for the poor and orphans, in 1854 Elena Pavlovna decided to try to send women to the battlefield to help the wounded. She turned her appeal to unmarried women who are ready to "bring their share of sacrifice and goodness ... to the Fatherland." On October 25, the princess approved the composition of the Holy Cross community, and a month later the 28 first sisters of mercy arrived in Sevastopol. Others followed in their wake.
A unique frame: N. I. Pirogov, surrounded by the sisters of mercy of the Holy Cross Community, 1855
It's hard to leave - it's even harder on the battlefield
In her Memories of the Sister of Mercy, published later in The European Bulletin, Ekaterina Bakunina wrote that it was not so easy to get into the squad of sisters. A resident of Moscow at first did not want to take in the St. Petersburg set. Decisions to go to the battlefield did not understand relatives, including the brother, a former military man, who said that women "will not bring any benefit, but will only be heavy and useless nobody." But it turned out to be even more difficult, of course, in the besieged city itself: “It was very hard to walk around Sevastopol and meet the troops that go to the batteries. They go briskly, cheerfully, but behind them three or four people carry a stretcher. The heart will shrink and think: “For which is it one of them?”
All the sisters of mercy had a special shape: a brown dress with a white collar, apron and cap
Nikolai Ivanovich closely watched his wards. He created several instructions especially for them, so that the nurses knew how to behave properly in the operating room and did not forget to monitor their health and eat regularly: during the war, out of 120 sisters, 17 died. Samikh sisters for the best organization of the case Pirogov divided into groups: some of them helped with the dressings, others were in charge of medicines, some followed the cleanliness and maintenance of the sick, and the fourth accompanied the wounded along the way.
Three pillars of the Community
Pirogov called “the three pillars of the Community” Elizaveta Petrovna Kartseva, Ekaterina Mikhailovna Bakunina and Ekaterina Aleksandrovna Khitrov. These three brave women with inexhaustible zeal helped the surgeon in the reorganization of the hospitals of Sevastopol. Catherine Bakuninu, Kutuzov's niece, a well-educated woman, was often called the ideal of a sister of mercy. Elizaveta Kartseva worked on administrative issues. And Ekaterina Khitrova was an experienced nurse, who also set an example of morality for other nurses.
At the beginning of 1855, the name of the Englishwoman Florence Nightingale appeared in the newspapers, which, together with a group of women, left the battlefield. But Pirogov zealously defended the primacy of the Holy Cross community in helping the wounded. On the basis of the Sisters of Mercy of the Crimean War, a society of the Red Cross in Russia arose.
The hospital of the Elizabethan community of sisters of mercy in Harbin. 1904−1905
One of the first sisters of mercy is the famous Dasha of Sevastopol. Even before the community was founded in Petersburg, the girl began to help the wounded herself. An eighteen-year-old orphan sold the little house left from her parents, bought a cart, blankets, linen and vinegar and set up her own mobile dressing station. There she began to dress the soldiers, water them and clean the wounds. For their bravery, the sailor’s daughter was awarded the gold medal “For Diligence” and was awarded 500 rubles in silver - an impressive amount in those days. And after marriage, Nicholas I promised to give another 1,000 rubles to the device of family life. Dasha of Sevastopol (for a long time nobody knew her real name Mikhailova) was captured in the panorama Defense of Sevastopol by Franz Rubo.
Fragment of the panorama "Defense of Sevastopol". To the left of the flagstaff you can see Dasha of Sevastopol with a yoke, which gives two Russian soldiers to drink