Time: 1812 year, 26 August old style. Place: field in front of the village Semenovskoe. The central redoubt of the Russian position has just been captured. Two generals, Yermolov and Kutaisov, took the third battalion of the Ufa regiment from Dokhturov's corps, which many soldiers joined along the way, having lost their regiments in the chaos of the battle, lead all this mass to the attack. The French, rolling in on strengthening their own and deploying captured guns, open the fel from the fronts of the redoubt. The Russian column stops in indecision. There are several descriptions of what followed. We quote here an excerpt from the "Notes on the Battle of Borodino" of his direct participant - the writer Fyodor Glinka.
“And here Yermolov used the tool, about which the story still remains among the favorite soldiers' legends about the unforgettable day. Whether by intention or deliberately, or unintentionally, he, like the chief of staff, had a reserve of St. George's soldiers' crosses in his uniform pocket. Taking advantage of the moment, he took out a handful of crosses, shouted: “Guys, follow us! Whoever comes will take it! ” And after that he began throwing crosses far ahead of himself. This tool had a charming effect on the soldiers: they rushed to the crosses and went ahead! The generals moved soon, the crosses flickered, the crowd fled, “hurray!” Thundered. And so, from the cross to the cross, we came to the redoubt itself. ”
So test. If the first thought that came to you after reading this passage is something like “Herd of animals!”, Then you are not a patriot, you are an animal. If not, read on.
“Redoubt yawned with smoke and flame, sent a storm of grapeshot, sprayed with a slanting rain of bullets; the ranks fell, others hesitated and broke into the fortifications. Of the two leaders, one was missing: Count Kutaisov was gone! Russia and the comrades could not betray the earth with the honor of his body, which was not reached under the heaps of the slain; only his faithful horse ran to his own. Major General Yermolov was wounded in the neck, but continued to fight. ”
At the same time, without any crosses, General Paskevich struck the French left wing, and General Vasilchikov with regiments of the heroic 12 division stormed the redoubt on the right and walked around from the rear. With the joint efforts of the Napoleon’s 30 Linear Regiment, it was recaptured; its remnants, cruelly pursued by Korf squadrons, fled, the commander, General Bonami, was wounded and captured.
But enough about the battle, let's talk about the reward. What was this cross of St. George, which was encouraged (but not behind it, of course, but behind glory!) Were Russian soldiers ready to rush into the battlefield?
A sample of the second order of St. George the Victorious, made in Yaroslavl on the order of the Office of the President of the Russian Federation. Photo by Sergey Metelitsa
Most of its age old stories he was officially called the insignia of the Military Order of St. George. Otherwise, unofficially, he was called the George Cross of the 5 degree, the soldier's “Yegori”, etc. The idea to encourage the lower ranks of the army in someone's bright head was born in January 1807, and on February 13 (25) the award was introduced by the manifesto of Emperor Alexander I - a silver cross on the St. George ribbon, otherwise also similar to the officer order of St. George of the fourth class but not enameled. By a curious coincidence, “Yegoria” for the “intrepid bravery” was the first to receive Yegoriy - non-commissioned officer of the Cavalry Regiment, George Mitrokhin, who distinguished himself in the Battle of Friedland in June of the same year. However, the first feat, worthy of the cross, was committed back in January by the ensign of the 5 regiment of chasseurs Vasily Berezkin in a battle with the French near Morungen. The first recipients were transferred from regular regiments to Cavalry Guard.
For a long time, the cross had a single degree and was issued only once, many times those who were awarded could not decorate themselves with new crosses, and only their salaries increased by one third each time. This last from 1833, when the statute of the order was slightly modified, was allowed to wear a special bow from the St. George ribbon as a mark of distinction.
On the medallion of the cross, as on the medallion of the Order of St. George, the battle of the Holy Great Martyr with the dragon was depicted, until finally in 1844 they approved a special design for the Gentiles with the two-headed imperial eagle, whose absence was felt quite acutely before. Here is a typical example from the memoirs of Denis Davydov, from his “Diary of Partisan Actions of the 1812 of the Year”.
“Once in a battle at Lyakhov, one of the uhlans chased a saber with a French ranger. Every time the keeper aimed at him, he would drive away and chase again when the keeper turned to flight. Accepting this, I shouted to Ulan: “Ulan, shame!”. He, without answering a word, turned the horse, sustained a shot of the French huntsman, rushed at him and cut his head. After this, having approached me, he asked me: “Now, are you pleased, your excellency?” - and at the same second he gasped: some kind of mad bullet interrupted his right leg. The oddity is that this lancer, having received the St. George badge for his feat, does not wear it ... He was a Berdichev Jew recruited into the lancers. This case justifies the opinion that there is no such kind of people who would not be involved in ambition and, therefore, would not be capable of military service. ”
The final passage goes back to the misconception that was widespread in pre-revolutionary Russia about the Jews, who were considered worthless soldiers, which was facilitated even by the encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron!
In addition to their infidels, they received a cross and numerous foreign Christian citizens, soldiers of the allied armies. Thus, in the two years of the foreign campaign of the Russian army, the cavaliers of the soldiers' Yegoria became almost two thousand Prussians, about two hundred Austrians, Swedes and even a few Englishmen. And just in time from the beginning of World War II to the complete defeat of Napoleon, "St. George" touched the soldiers' chest about twenty-five thousand times!
The number of awards during the XIX century on average remained unchanged. For comparison: during the reign of Alexander the Blessed One (starting, of course, from 1807, when a cross was established), a total of 46 527 signs were granted, and under his successor Nicholas I, from 1825 to 1856, 57 706.
The rewarding of civilians was also practiced, in particular, the commanders of partisan detachments from among the burghers in the Patriotic War. But even before that, in 1810, at the personal order of the emperor, a tradesman's cross was marked by a tradesman Matvey Gerasimov. Russia then, after the Peace of Tilsit imposed by Napoleon, was in a state of war with England. The British seized a merchant ship, the skipper of which was Gerasimov, marching from Arkhangelsk to Denmark with a cargo of rye flour. Eight soldiers and an officer landed on board from a military brig. They declared the Evplus 2 ’their prize and demanded that they be taken to England. A few days later, the Russian team rebelled and disarmed the British, while the officer Gerasimov was forced to officially surrender, handing his sword to the skipper.
The case of awarding the soldier’s cross to the general is also known. In 1813, Mikhail Miloradovich received it from the hands of the emperor himself, who with his own eyes saw his commander fighting under Leipzig in the ranks of the Russian Guard. We think that this badge of a military general could be valued even higher than the third and second degrees of the Order of St. George, of which he was also awarded. When, on Senatskaya Square, Miloradovich, who had never been wounded before in numerous battles, where, without hesitation, risked his life, was defeated by a Decembrist Kakhovsky with a pistol shot in the back, the dying hero, looking at the bullet extracted by the doctors, exclaimed: “O thank God! This bullet is not a soldier! Now I am completely happy! ” And even found the strength to joke: they say, it is a pity that after a hearty breakfast I could not digest such an insignificant pellet ...
From 1855 onwards, the soldier's badge was allowed to continue to be worn by those who became officers and were honored with the St. George Order. A year later, the decree introduced four degrees of the cross. On the reverse side of it, on the reverse, the degree and number were now indicated (with a separate numbering for each degree), the crosses themselves became golden for the two upper classes.
The order of wearing was as follows: full gentlemen fastened crosses of the first and third degrees on their uniforms, if the soldier was awarded only three degrees, then he put on the second and third, and if only the bottom two, then one third. However, it was possible to deserve several identical crosses, as, for example, in the case of the lieutenant of the Life Guards of the third rifle regiment Solomatin, a gentleman of two fourth, two thirds, second and two first “Egoriev”!
A stream of gold and silver crosses poured into Russian soldiers from the beginning of World War I (only one fourth degree 1 was given a million 200 thousand pieces!), But could not, of course, closely compare with the number of cemetery crosses or the blood of soldiers . By the way, a year before the great war, the new statute of the award was approved, in which it officially received the name of St. George's Cross, which had long been firmly associated with it. At the same time, life pensions were introduced: for the fourth degree - 36 rubles per year, for the third - 60, for the second - 96 and 120 - for the first. For comparison: the average annual salary of a skilled worker at that time reached two hundred rubles.
The most difficult war began in history, unprecedented in scope, in which mass heroism alone could not save and did not save Russia. Incited by external and internal enemies, a revolutionary unrest began in the country. The monarchy fell victim to it (partly for justice). As a reflection of the chaos and chaos of 24, June 1917, the updated Statute of the Cross of St. George appeared, amended by the leaders of the Provisional Government. According to him, the soldiers could now reward their officers by the decision of the general gathering, and on this occasion the crosses of lower degrees (by then they, like the higher ones, had already ceased to be made of precious metals) were supplemented with a metal bay branch on a ribbon block.
The Civil War, which unfolded later, filled up, though without much enthusiasm, the list of cavaliers of the soldier "Yegoria" with ordinary white guards, especially in the Northern army and on the Eastern front, at Kolchak. Later, along with the remnants of the “white” Georgievsky cross migrated abroad, where the last awards to them were desecrated in 1944 by the so-called Russian security corps, who fought on the side of the Nazis against the Yugoslav partisans.
Interestingly, in the same year, along with the establishment of the Order of Glory, which was based on the Order of St. George, the Soviet government almost made an attempt to restore historical justice. The draft resolution of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR said: “In order to create continuity of the military traditions of Russian soldiers and pay tribute to the heroes who trashed German imperialists in the 1914 – 1917 war, the Council of People's Commissars decides: 1. Equate b. Knights of St. George, who received St. George's crosses for military exploits, committed in battles against the Germans in the 1914 – 1917 War, to the Knights of the Order of Glory with all the ensuing benefits. 2. Allow b. Georgievsky gentlemen wearing pads with a sash of established colors on their chest ... ”Common sense, isn’t it? But they did not dare to implement it. So, until the end of their days, they could not wear the crosses of a dashing rider, the former senior non-commissioned officer of the 18 Dragoon Seversky Regiment, Semyon Budyonny, or the brave noncoms George Zhukov and Konstantin Rokossovsky ...
The St. George Cross insignia was restored in the Russian Federation by decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation from March 2 of 1992.