Injury of Prince Bagration. Source: 1812.nsad.ru
The last battle of the prince
In the war with Napoleon, Prince Peter Ivanovich Bagration, general of infantry, commanded the 2nd Western Army, which was located on the left flank of the Russian troops on the Borodino field on September 7, 1812 (hereinafter, the dates will be in a new style). The center of all the events of that day was Semenov flashes, which became the object of constant attacks by the detachments of Napoleonic marshals Davout and Ney. It was here, in the midst of the battle, that General Bagration was located. He led the counterattack of units of the 8th Infantry, 4th Cavalry Corps and 2nd Cuirassier Division. At about 12 noon, the prince was injured in his left leg. The first few moments, he rests on his horse, but then falls - he was barely able to be picked up by close officers. Eyewitnesses describe the first minutes after being injured:
“... a face osmugilnoy powder, pale, but calm. Someone was holding him behind, clasping with both hands. People around him saw him, as if having forgotten a terrible pain, silently peering into the distance and as if listening to the roar of the battle. "
Source: EditionNews surgery "
It should be noted that Bagration’s wound was not fatal - it was a fragment of a “repaired” projectile that damaged one of the tibia bones (it is not known which one) in the lower leg region. "Chinenka" in those days was called an artillery shell filled with gunpowder, which became the prototype of modern fragmentation munitions. A distinctive feature of the “chine” was the high kinetic energy of the fragments, which exceeded the energy of a lead bullet at close range. As a result, the situation in which the general found himself was close to disaster. Around was not just a battle, but a real bloody battle - the French artillery and rifle weapons how could they restrain the Russian counterattack. At the same time, Russian artillery intensively supported their advancing units, sometimes not having time to transfer fire after the attack - Russian units often suffered from friendly strikes. At the time of the general’s wound, the battle lasted at least five hours, and the Russian troops already had sensitive losses. The 2nd combined grenadier division of Major General Vorontsov and the 27th infantry division of Major General Neverovsky turned out to be practically destroyed. By noon, everything around the Semenovskaya flush was littered with corpses and wounded, and the site itself was fired by 400 French guns and 300 Russian guns. From this meat grinder, the wounded Bagration is evacuated to the "sole of the Semenov height", that is, to a relatively safe place. The main problem at the same time was the search for a doctor. Two hours earlier, the chief physician of the 2nd Western Army, Gangart, was concussed (the core fell into the horse’s chest) and was taken to the 1st line hospital in Mozhaisk. The doctor was not in the nearest units, since they were, in fact, almost completely destroyed. To help the distressed left flank of the Russian army, Kutuzov put forward the Guards Finland, Izmailovsky and Lithuanian regiments. It was in the Lithuanian Life Guards Regiment for Bagration that the doctor Yakov Govorov was found, who later on published in 1815 about the tragic epic of the general’s unsuccessful treatment to publish the book “The Last Days of the Life of Prince Peter Ivanovich Bagration”.
According to all the rules of field surgery of that time, Govorov probes the wound, detects bone damage and applies a simple dressing. Let us clarify here that a simple regimental doctor could not produce any immobilization of a wounded limb, since there were no elementary devices for this. Decades later, Govorov was accused of erroneous actions on the “sole of the Semenov height”, which led to the aggravation of a fracture of the tibia of the left leg of Bagration. After this, the prince, according to one version, is evacuated to the nearest dressing station of the Lithuanian regiment, where he is already occupied by Jacob Willie himself, His Excellency the chief medical officer in the army. It was this man who determined the main paths for the development of military medicine in Russia both before the war and during hostilities. Therefore, there is no doubt in his actions. According to one version, already at the dressing station of the Life Guards of the Lithuanian Regiment, Bagration was offered a speedy amputation, but the answer was categorical:
"... it is better to die than to remain crippled."
According to another version, Villier made the dressing not at all in the Lithuanian regiment, but at the dressing station in the area of the Psarevsky Forest - this is three kilometers from the site of the wound.
About what happened in similar medical centers during the Borodino battle, an eyewitness I. T. Radozhitsky writes in “Travel notes of the artilleryman from 1812 to 1816”:
“The cutters washed the wound, from which meat hung in shreds and a sharp piece of bone was visible. The operator took out a crooked knife from a drawer, rolled up his sleeves to the elbow, then quietly approached the injured hand, grabbed it and so deftly turned the knife above the shreds that they instantly fell away. Tutolmin cried out and began to groan; the surgeons spoke in order to drown it out with their noise, and with hooks in their hands rushed to catch veins of fresh meat in their hands; they pulled and held them, meanwhile, the operator began to cut the bone. This caused, apparently, terrible pain: Tutolmin, shuddering, groaned and, suffering torment, seemed exhausted to fainting; he was often sprayed with cold water and allowed to smell alcohol. Sawing off the bone, they picked up the veins in one bundle and tightened the cut-off place with genuine leather, which was left and trimmed for this; then they sewed it up with silk, put a compress on it, tied it up with bandages - and that ended the operation. ”
Under approximately such conditions, the chief physician of the Russian army conducted a second examination of Bagration’s wound and dressing. During the procedure, Willie found out that the wound is severe, the tibia is damaged, the patient himself is in serious condition. During the examination, the healer even took out a fragment of the tibia. At the same time, Willie erroneously suggested the bullet nature of the wound, and this seriously complicated further treatment. The fact is that the doctors in the Russian army at that time did not try to amputate the wounded limbs in the very first moments - conservative treatment was in use. And the bullet in the course of suppuration of the wound often just went outside. Obviously, this was calculated in the further treatment of Bagration - to wait a few days until the pus removes the bullet from the wound. Although, according to some sources, the prince was still offered amputation. However, Willie, as we already know, was mistaken - the wound was not a bullet.
While medical work was ongoing with the wounded Bagration, the situation on the left flank did not develop in the best way. Both sides are introducing into the battle more and more reserves, which perish in a short time, dotting the battlefields with the bodies of the dead and the groans of the wounded. So, the Lithuanian regiment mentioned above, together with Izmailovsky, for some time were generally surrounded by the French and barely had time to repulse the attacks. The Lithuanian regiment lost 1740 out of 956 personnel in just one hour ... In addition, the absence of Bagration caused a management collapse, since almost simultaneously with it, due to severe shell shock, the chief of staff of the 2nd Western Army Major General E. F. Saint Prix. Kutuzov first appoints the commander of the Duke A.F. Württemberg, but then transfers the reins to General D.S. Dokhturov, but at that time he was too far from the village of Semenovskaya. Therefore, the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division P.P. Konovnitsyn, who recalled the minutes of that battle, remained elder.
“There are a lot of wounded and killed ... Clouds were wounded in the chest. Tuchkov Alexander is killed ... Ushakov’s leg is torn off. Driesen is injured. "Richter, too ... My division is almost nonexistent ... Hardly a thousand people will be considered."
As a result, the situation on the left flank was catastrophic - the battle formations of the 2nd Western Army were crushed and provided only focal resistance. M. B. Barclay de Tolly (incidentally, Bagration’s foe) recalled those watches on September 7:
“The second army, in the absence of the wounded Prince Bagration and many generals, was overturned in great disorder, all the fortifications with part of the batteries went to the enemy. ... The infantry was scattered in small heaps, already stopped at the main apartment on the Mozhaiskaya road; three guards regiments retreated in a hefty structure and were approaching other guards regiments ... "
In general, in the first hours after Bagration’s wound, they didn’t manage to carry out all the necessary procedures after being wounded for a banal reason - the enemy could burst into the location of the dressing point any minute and capture the illustrious commander. But this could not be allowed. That is why Jacob Willieu did not expand the wound with a scalpel, as his own "Brief Instructions on the Most Important Surgical Operations" demanded, and did not remove the fragment of the shell. In addition, Bagration at that time was in a state of severe traumatic shock - constant multi-kilometer movements across the battlefield and serious blood loss affected it.
In the publication Surgery News, the authors S. A. Sushkov, Yu. S. Nebylitsyn, E. N. Reutskaya and A. N. Cancer in the article “Difficult Patient. Injured Peter Ivanovich Bagration” analyze in detail the clinical manifestations of the general’s wound in the first hours . Immediately after being wounded, Bagration loses consciousness from pain, then comes to his senses on the “Semenovsky sole” and even tries to lead the battle, and already at the dressing he is inhibited and depressed. This is a typical picture of a traumatic shock with which Villier and Govorov were certainly familiar. They made at that time the only right decision - not to carry out serious surgical intervention and prepare the general for evacuation as soon as possible. At the same time, many specialists blame doctors for the lack of immobilization of the wounded limb in Bagration, despite the fact that in each dressing station there were
“Ready-made devices for bandaging fractures and after surgery, all kinds of dressings, except bandages, head, chest, abdominal, shoulder, as well as surgical instruments, plasters, the necessary ointments, lotions, splints, silk, etc.”
Allegedly, this was the reason for the further complication of the wound - a complete fracture of the tibia. No source has written about the imposition of fixing pubes on the leg of Bagration, and there may be several reasons for this. Firstly, the doctors obviously decided not to pay attention to the fact of immobilization for granted, and, secondly, the methods for fixing broken limbs at the beginning of the XNUMXth century were far from ideal and completely allowed bone displacement during transportation.
Monument to Prince Bagration in the parish of the Church of Dmitry Solunsky in the city of Sim. Source: wikipedia.org
Be that as it may, the wounded Bagation was put into a carriage and evacuated to the Mozhaisk mobile hospital of the 1st line in a hurry. September 8, a day after being wounded, the general writes to Alexander I from his temporary haven:
“Although, the most gracious sovereign, in the case of the 26th I was not quite easily wounded in the left leg with a bullet with fragmentation of the bone; but I have no regrets about this, being always ready to sacrifice the last drop of my blood to defend the Fatherland and the August throne; it’s extremely unfortunate, however, that I, at this crucial time, remain unable to continue to show my services ... ”
To be continued ...
Based on materials of: publications: “Surgery News”, “Clinical Medicine”, Y. I. Govorov’s books “The Last Days of the Life of Prince Peter Ivanovich Bagration,” M. Davydov’s article “Was the Wound Fatal” in the journal Science and Life No. 9 for 2012 and the books of I. Radozhitsky "Campaign notes of the artilleryman from 1812 to 1816."