The battle of Borodino took a heavy death toll on both sides. Commander-in-Chief of the Russian army Mikhail Kutuzov reported to Emperor Alexander I: “The battle continued far into the night. Both sides sustained heavy losses: judging by how persistently the French attacked our positions, the enemy losses must be much greater than ours. Russian troops displayed incredible courage: the redoubts passed from one side to the other, and in the long run, the enemy didn’t advance an inch anywhere”.
The battlefield was a horrifying sight: tens of thousands of dead soldiers and horses were scattered around. Now and then one could hear the heart-rending cries of the wounded calling for help.
Among those who died at Borodino was the Russian General Alexander Tuchkov. Later his wife Margarita erected a monument in his memory – the church of Christ the Savior became the first memorial to all Russian soldiers killed in that battle.
Margarita was deeply in love with her husband, the brilliant officer and nobleman whom she married at the age of twenty five. They were desperately happy and never parted. Dressed in men’s clothes, she would accompany her husband during military campaigns. When their son was born, Alexander Tuchkov made up his mind toMother Maria retire from the army. He wanted to settle in his country estate and devote himself completely to his family. But Napoleon’s invasion ruined his plans…
Watching her husband pack up his gear, Margarita felt a grim premonition. The night before his departure she saw a dream as if she were walking about an unknown city, gazing at houses and shops and on one of the shops she saw a signboard saying: “Your destiny will be decided at Borodino”. She was gripped by profound sadness and fear that something terrible was bound to happen, and then she woke up. Alarmed, Margarita awakened her husband. “Borodino, where is it?” she asked. He said he hadn’t the slightest idea and seeing the worried look on her face, began soothing her. Still Margarita asked for a map, but found nothing there. In the morning she saw him off, still wondering about her dream.
Soon Margarita got terrible news that her husband, Alexander Tuchkov had been killed at Borodino. Barely recovered from the shock, she Spasso-Borodinsky Conventset out for the place, determined to find her husband’s body and bury him according to Christian traditions.
She spent two days wandering amid the corpses, searching vainly for her beloved. What she saw nearly drove her mad. The only anchor that saved her from blank despair was her duty to their son. To ease the pain tearing her heart, she would revisit the battlefield over and over again. Margarita used part of her fortune to build a church on the site of her husband’s death, and as soon as the construction was over, moved to a small house nearby. She bore with dignity all the hardships of her humble existence and indulged in happy reminiscences about the past.
But there was something more for her to endure, something she didn’t know yet. Her only son died unexpectedly at the age of fifteen. To Margarita his death was a sign that she must devote herself to God. She took the veil and adopted the name of Maria. A few years later she became the first Mother-Superior of a local nunnery. Initially meant to commemorate her husband, the convent of Christ the Savior commemorates all Russian soldiers who fell in the battle of Borodino.
Source:The Voice of Russia