This page was created by James Browning. 

Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Disease on the Black Sea

Disease presented a major obstacle to Kherson's development, compounding existing labor and supply issues. At the very end of his November report to the admiralty, Ivan Gannibal mentioned that he was having trouble obtaining oak lumber due to an infectious disease that had broken out in Poland over the summer leading to a sustained closure of the border. While he mentioned reports indicating that that particular disease was waning, the summer and autumn months always threatened pestilence.1
1783 was a particularly bad year. Between the first of May and the first of October, the port lost 245 admiralty servants to disease with another 70 to follow over the first week of that October.2 Kherson’s new commander, Vice Admiral Klokachev himself would fall to disease on October 26 of that year.
The threat of infectious disease was addressed with quarantines, either on a large scale--as in the case of the closed Polish border--or on smaller scales. When the ship Khotin arrived at Kerch on October 14, 1782, two of its crew were diagnosed with typhus or "rotting fever" and determined to be contagious. Brigadier Kozlianinov ordered the ship back to the Black Sea in quarantine where it was later observed to be damaged and leaking and, after five days, was escorted to a more sheltered position.3 A month later, the same Kozlianinov ordered the yet-to-be-named frigate number 10 into quarantine in Kerch Bay, where it was to stay until "no doubt remained" that the disease had run its course. No numbers are provided for the Khotin, but 18 people died on frigate number 10 while it was in quarantine.4

1. Ivan Gannibal, "Vypiska iz doneseniia Ganibala admiralteistve-kollegii, 1780 goda noiabria 17," Materialy dlia istorii russkago flota VI, 720. 
2. "Vedomost' o chisle umershikh zarazoiu s 1-go maia po 1-e oktiabria 1783 goda," Materialy dlia istorii russkago flota XV, 23. 
3. Kozlianinov, "Vypiska iz doneseniia Kozlianinova Kaslivtsovu, 1782 goda oktiabria 21," ibid., 600.
4. Kozlianinov, "Kopiia s raporta brigadira Kozlianinova kniaziu Potemkinu, 1782 goda dekabria 10," ibid., 600.

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