Stronghold for the fleet. Why was Admiral Nakhimov respected even by enemies?

The illustrious admiral was born on July 5, 1802 in the small village of Gorodok, Vyazemsky district, Smolensk province, into a large family of a poor landowner Stepan Mikhailovich Nakhimov. All Paul's brothersbecame military sailors. He also dreamed of becoming a sailor.

Baptism of Navarino

In the spring of 1815, Pavel was admitted to the Naval Cadet Corps, and two years later he was already sailing with the best students of the corps, among whom was future author of the Explanatory Dictionary of the Living Great Russian Language; Vladimir Dal. In the winter of 1818, Nakhimov was promoted to midshipman. The character of a young naval officer can be judged from one case when he served on the frigate “Cruiser”; and rescued a sailor who had fallen overboard. Then Nakhimov, without hesitation, together with other sailors, lowered the boat into the water, which almost immediately disappeared from sight in the raging waves. The rescue team was already considered dead, but Nakhimov and his companions managed to return. 

Nakhimov received his baptism of fire in 1827 in the naval battle of Navarino with the Turkish-Egyptian fleet, where he commanded a battery on the flagship battleship Azov. Then, out of the entire united squadron of Russia, England and France, Azov came closest to the enemy squadron. He sank and destroyed five enemy ships. “Azov” received hundreds of holes, including 7 — below the waterline. For feats in battle, for the first time in the Russian fleet, the ship was awarded the stern St. George flag, and the young officer was awarded the Order of St. George IV class.

Bachelor's children

As for his personal life, Pavel Stepanovich was never married. When asked why he did not marry, Nakhimov invariably answered that he spent all his time on the ship, and, as you know, there was no way for the female gender to go there. Historian Eugene Tarle wrote about this: “Because of too much preoccupation with maritime interests, he forgot to fall in love, forgot to marry.” 

Nevertheless, many researchers of Nakhimov's biography believe that there was a love drama in his life that he did not talk about. Perhaps it was an unsuccessful matchmaking for the daughter of the commander of the Arkhangelsk port. Then, in 1821, midshipman Nakhimov was sent to Arkhangelsk as an artillery officer on a battleship under construction. It is quite possible that the poor and ignoble officer was refused.

Some sources claim that Nakhimov still had a life partner, but not official. Praise unmarried wife of Pavel Stepanovich Rachel, she gave Nakhimov three sons. After the death of the admiral, she and the boys were simply kicked out of the estate. Rachel, overcoming all the hardships of life, alone raised, raised and married her sons. And even waited for grandchildren, but they did not follow in the footsteps of their grandfather — none were associated with the navy or the army. Who knows, perhaps, based on his bitter experience, Nakhimov tried to send some midshipman who fell in love on a long voyage so that love would disappear. «Married Officer — not a campaigner, — he said more than once.

No corporal punishment 

In 1832, Pavel Stepanovich was appointed commander of the frigate “Pallada”, and from 1834 he began to serve in the Black Sea Fleet and soon received command of the battleship “Silistria”. Demanding and zealous attitude to the service might seem excessive, but at the same time, he demanded to treat the sailors, in whom Nakhimov was the main sieve of the fleet, with care and respect. As the commander of the Silistria, Nakhimov banned corporal punishment for the lower ranks on his ship and demanded that his officers treat the sailors as comrades in the service, and not as dumb serfs.

Once the boat, in which Nakhimov was, was lost at sea. The sailor on duty noticed her and gave a distress signal, as a result, everyone was saved. Anyone else in Nakhimov's place would present the sailor for an award, in a fit of gratitude would grant him his own watch or a purse with money. Pavel Stepanovich did none of this — he simply throughout his life paid a pension to this sailor on his own behalf.

War with Europe — because of Sinop? 

In the fall of 1852, Nakhimov was promoted to vice admiral, and in October of the following year, Turkey declared war on Russia. The first big battle of the war on the Black Sea (and the last naval battle of the sailing fleet) was the Battle of Sinop. Then the Turkish squadron of Osman Pasha, who left Constantinople for a landing operation in the Sukhum-Kale area, made a stop in the Sinop Bay area. The Russian squadron under the command of Vice Admiral Nakhimov discovered and blocked her in the bay until reinforcements arrived. When the squadron of Rear Admiral Novosiltsev approached Kornilov, he decided to attack the Turks.

By the end of the battle, which began on the morning of November 18 (30), 1853, a detachment of ships under the command of Vice Admiral Kornilov approached Sinop. The Turkish fleet and coastal batteries were finished in a few hours. Only the steamer “Taif” escaped, the enemy lost over 3,500 sailors and soldiers killed and wounded, about 200 people were taken prisoner. The commander-in-chief Osman Pasha was also in Russian captivity. Wounded in the leg and robbed by his own subordinates, he was rescued from the burning Turkish flagship. The Russian squadron had no losses in ships, but many of them, including Nakhimov's flagship Empress Maria, were seriously damaged. Losses in manpower amounted to 37 killed and 235 wounded. “Glorious battle, higher than Chesma and Navarin”, — Kornilov wrote about the battle of Sinop. 

Nakhimov himself did not like to talk about him, not only because of his innate modesty, but also because the Sinop victory became, as he believed, the reason for the attack of England, France and the Sardinian kingdom on Sevastopol. Nevertheless, this brilliant victory was not the reason, but the pretext for war. The goal of the British and French was to destroy the main base of the Black Sea Fleet and weaken Russia itself, and they could have come up with many reasons for this (if not for the Sinop Victoria).

Golden epaulettes

At the end of December 1853, a joint Anglo-French squadron entered the Black Sea, and in April 1854 hostilities began. The actions of the Commander-in-Chief of the Land and Naval Forces in the Crimea Prince Menshikov were unsuccessful, he was criticized for his caution and considered the main culprit of the defeat in the Crimean theater of war. Nakhimov and Kornilovproposed to attack the enemy fleet with the help of firewalls and boarding. But a completely different decision was made: to remove weapons and personnel from the ships for the land defense of the city, and to flood the ships themselves in the roadstead of the Sevastopol Bay in order to provide rear from the sea. Sevastopol was poorly prepared for a siege. It was fortified only along the coast, since no one imagined that the city would be blocked from land. 

After Kornilov died during the first bombing of Sevastopol, Nakhimov became the head of the defense and the military governor of the city. In March he was promoted to admiral. Despising the danger, he walked around the defensive line daily, and he was the only one of the officers who continued to wear golden epaulettes, which served as a target for the enemy. During a detour of the advanced fortifications on the Malakhov Kurgan, Pavel Stepanovich was mortally wounded in the head. The admiral died on June 30 (July 12), 1855. Crowds of people escorted Nakhimov on his last journey, flags were lowered on the ships as a sign of mourning. The flags were lowered at half-mast on the ships of the enemy. At the same time, when the British and French captured Sevastopol, marauders broke through the lids of the coffins of Nakhimov and three more admirals — Lazarev, Kornilov and Istomin— and stole golden epaulettes.

The Nakhimov monument in Sevastopol, which stood for 30 years, was removed by the Bolsheviks in 1928, accusing the admiral of “serving the Russian Tsar”. After another 30 years, the authorities came to the conclusion that the famous naval commander simply could not serve anyone else at that time, and the monument was returned to its place.

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