"The Order of Saint George was founded by Empress Catherine II on 26 November 1769 as a military award to officers for outstanding gallantry on the field of battle. As Grand Master and founder of the new award, Empress Catherine bestowed on the same date the Order of Saint George First Class upon herself. The full name of the Order was: The Imperial Military Order of the Holy Great Martyr George the Victorious.
The Empress had long wished to establish a purely military order, just as Emperor Peter the Great had had the intention of creating the Order of Alexander Nevsky, which was to be solely awarded for deeds of bravery. From 1725 Empress Catherine I did start bestowing the Order but it was not according to the wishes of her late husband, as the recipients were several Russian and foreign noblemen that had n connection at all with military deeds of bravery. The statute of the newly created Order of Saint George stated in great detail that it was to be awarded exclusively to officers only if they had achieved well specified deeds of bravery on the field of battle. These regulations were strictly adhered to and remained in force up to the fall of the Empire." (Prince Dimitri Romanov, The orders, medals and history of Imperial Russia, Copenhagen 2000, p. 39).
Constituted of four classes, the first class was not awarded during the First World War or even during the reign of Nicholas II (only twenty five officers were awarded the highest class during the entire Romanov dynasty). The second class was only awarded six times during the First World War and Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich the Younger was the only member of the Romanovs to receive the second class during the reign of Nicholas II. In comparison, during the First World War up to November 1916, the fourth class was awarded 3,504 times and 5,314 officers received a St. George sword. The Order of St. George second class was awarded to Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich the Younger for the taking of the fortified town of Peremyshl (Pzemysl).
The event of seeing such an order with such impeccable Imperial provenance can be considered as unique.