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bear on two warships in Careening Creek which had
greatly annoyed the French, and drove them, one much
damaged, round a sheltering point.



Burgoyne goes Home. 207

An important figure also disappeared from the
councils of the Allies. In February the new Govern-
ment, in order to appease a vague desire (part of the
general discontent and impatience agitating the country)
for any change which might quicken the siege opera-
tions, had decided on the recall of Sir John Burgoyne,
and General Harry Jones had in that month arrived in
the Crimea as his successor. But Lord Raglan desired
to keep his old counsellor by his side at a time when so
many important engineering questions were pending ;
he continued to be present at the conferences, and to
issue plans and suggestions, till the third week in March,
when he departed for England.

The defence of the place lost a redoubted champion,
on the igth March, when Admiral Istomine was killed
in the Mamelon. He was buried by the side of KornilofT,
in a tomb made by Admiral Nakimoff with the inten-
tion of lying there himself, but he now ceded the place
to his illustrious comrade.

With the advance of spring the situation of the
Allies (though the siege seemed as far as ever from its
end) had become greatly more favourable. Not only
had the climate grown mild, not only were the plains,
clad in renewed verdure, once more easy to traverse, but
the time of privations was long past, and almost seemed
a bad dream ; the men were well fed, well clothed, and
well housed ; the horses had been restored to condition
and duly recruited in numbers ; a city of huts, like those
to be seen at Aldershot, spread over the Upland ; the
railway brought vast stores from Balaklava to the plateau,



208 Improved Condition of the Allies.

from whence they were forwarded to the depots of the
camps by a growing land transport. Colonel MacMurdo,
armed with independent purchasing powers, had come
out to superintend the formation of that transport corps,
manned both by old soldiers and recruits specially
raised, and had so used his opportunities that horses,
trained drivers, escorts, and vehicles, were being rapidly
assembled and organised. All this demanded a great
outlay, insomuch that on one of the Colonel's many
large requisitions the Secretary to the Treasury, Sir
Charles Trevelyan, had written : " Colonel MacMurdo
must limit his expenditure." When the paper returned
to the Colonel with these words, he wrote below them :
"When Sir Charles Trevelyan limits the war, I will
limit my expenditure." Equal improvement marked the
condition of the French, and vast stores of guns had
been brought up and mounted in the . batteries early
in April, with, for the English ordnance, a supply of
500 rounds for each gun, and 300 for each mortar. We
had thus accumulated the means of a sustained and
tremendous cannonade, in which 378 French guns would
take part, and 123 English, proportionate to the extent
of trenches and batteries occupied by each; but the
English guns were for the most part so much more
powerful that the difference in weight of metal was not
great. On these, 466 Russian guns (out of nearly 1000
on the works) could be brought to bear. And it was
certainly expected, as before, on both sides that, as soon
as the cannonade should have produced its effect, the
Allies would be prepared to assault. So all three armies



Effect of Soil on Trenchwork. 209

believed ; so Lord Raglan believed. But, as has been
said, General Niel, the counsellor of the Emperor, had
no faith in any measures which did not include an in-
vestment. It had been evident that some influence had
been at work which had held back the French troops
from assaulting many parts of the defences which seemed
to offer fair chances of capture ; and circumstances, after-
wards found to have existed, seem to show that the
French commander did not at this time intend to push
matters beyond a cannonade.

On Easter Sunday, the 8th April, orders were given
for opening fire next morning. The mortars, absent on
the former occasion, were now a prominent feature in
the attacking batteries, placed behind lofty and solid
parapets, and hurling their great missiles high into the
air, to drop thence into an enemy's work, and there
explode. The various character of the soil of the plains
must now once more be noted, as it very seriously
affected the siege operations carried on in it. On the
slopes of Mount Inkerman, and in our Right and Left
attacks, especially the right, the soil was thin, the rock
lay immediately below, and the workmen painfully
scooped an often insufficient cover, frequently by dint of
blasting; and the want of earth for parapets was in many
cases supplied by sandbags filled elsewhere. But on
Mount Rodolph, and to its left, the soil was favourable,
easily trenched, and supplying earth in quantity sufficient
to rear the parapets high, and thicken them to solidity ;
and thus the French had been able on that side to sap
up and push their trenches to within 160 yards of the



2 TO Another Cannonade.

Flagstaff Bastion, while our fire was still mainly de-
livered (though some mortar batteries had been formed
in advance), as in October, from the batteries first con-
structed, Gordon's and Chapman's.

When the sun should have appeared next morning,
a dense mist covered the plains. It lifted a little, and
at half-past six our guns, as they caught sight of the
opposing batteries, opened fire, and the French soon
followed. The Russians were so completely unpre-
pared that it was twenty minutes before they began
to reply. A strong wind swept volumes of the smoke
from the Allied trenches over the Russian works,
and must have added greatly to the difficulties of the
men who worked the guns there. They were slack in
replying; the guns in the redoubted Mamelon fired
slowly, so did those of the Malakoff, as if insufficiently
manned, though really owing to dearth of powder ; and
a face of the Redan was silenced. On the other hand,
the French breached the salient of the Central Bastion,
and inflicted immense damage and loss of men on the
Flagstaff Bastion. When the sun went down, the fire of
the Allied guns ceased. Not so those of their mortars,
which did not depend on keeping sight of their object,
and all night the great shells climbed the sky, and de-
scended on their prey. Nevertheless, the works were
again in a condition of defence next morning. On this
second day the White Works were reduced to silence and
ruin. On the nth the English and French batteries
directed on the Mamelon extinguished its fire, and the
Malakoff scarcely fired at all, while the Flagstaff Bastion



Severity of Fire upon the Fortress. 2 1 1

had been again and again reduced to the direst extremity.
Therefore, in momentary expectation of an assault, the
Russian troops were kept at hand in, or close to, the
lines of defence, and as a consequence suffered heavily
They were subjected to terrible trials, from which the
Allies were exempt, for the hurricane of iron which
besides ruining works dismounting guns, and explod-
ing magazines, swept without intermission through the
whole interior space of the fortress, where it had
already razed the barracks and public buildings of the
suburb to the ground, and choked the streets of the
city with destroyed masonry, could not but tell heavily
on uncovered troops.

A remarkable incident occurred at this time. In the
trenches on the furthest point of our Left Attack, on the
verge of the ravine, two batteries had been constructed,
but not armed. On the night of the nth guns were
conveyed to one of them, across the open ground, and
these on the following day were placed on their plat-
forms. These batteries were on much lower ground
than the Redan and the Barrack Battery on the one
side, and the Garden Batteries and Flagstaff Bastion on
the other. Nevertheless, this battery of four guns opened
fire on the I3th on its formidable opponents. From
their commanding heights, they very soon concentrated
on it the overwhelming fire of about twenty heavy guns.
The contest was hopeless, but it was maintained. For
five hours the English guns, gradually reduced to one
that remained in a condition to fire, replied, not with-
out effect. Then, this last gun disabled, nearly all



2 1 2 Two well-fought Batteries.

the gunners struck down, the parapets swept away,
the remnant of men were at length withdrawn. Out
of forty-seven men, forty-four had been killed or
wounded.

In the night the damage was repaired, and the four
guns were put once more in fighting condition. And the
battery no longer fought singly in the front line ; its
neighbour was armed with six guns. On the I4th they
opened and brought on themselves a terrible stress of
fire. All day (with one relief), and even into the night,
they maintained the fight, when, with many guns dis-
abled, many men killed and wounded, and the para-
pets once more knocked into shapeless heaps, they were
withdrawn from the works, which were not again manned.
This episode, while it did little (that little, perhaps, in
the way of attracting shot from the enemy which would
otherwise have been directed on other points) towards a
general result, enabled Todleben to score a substantial
and indisputable success in the midst of his calamities
elsewhere. Yet these English gunners had not fought
quite in vain ; they are still remembered as having set
a rare example of valorous devotion.

Ten days did the terrific storm of iron hail endure;
ten days did the Russian reliefs, holding themselves
ready to repel attack, meet wounds and death with
a constancy which was of necessity altogether passive.
On the 1 9th they saw the fire of the Allies decline, and
settle into its more ordinary rate ; they saw, too, that the
sappers were again at work with their approaches, and
reading in this the signs of a resumption of the siege,



Carnage in Sebastopol. 213

and the abandonment of the policy of assault, they
once more withdrew their sorely harassed infantry to
places of shelter and repose. Then they began to
reckon their losses, which amounted for the ten days,
in killed and wounded, to more than 6000 men. The
French lost, in killed and disabled, 1585 men; the
English, 265.

During these days and nights the great ballroom
of the assembly rooms in Sebastopol was crowded with
the wounded incessantly arriving on stretchers. The
floor was half-an-inch deep in coagulated blood. In an
adjoining room, set apart for operations, the blood ran
from three tables where the wounded were laid, and the
severed limbs lay heaped in tubs. Outside, fresh arrivals
thronged the square, on their blood-steeped stretchers,
their cries and lamentations mingling with the roar of
shells bursting close by. Many more were borne to the
cellars of the sea-forts ; and those capable of removal to
the north side were conveyed thither to permanent
hospitals. In a church near the harbour the mournful
chaunt of the office for the dead resounded continually
through the open doors of the building. It was there
that the funeral service was celebrated of officers dead
on the field of honour. Such is the picture drawn by
eye-witnesses of what was seen of the results of the con-
flict in the more remote parts of the city. Nor was the
change to the country outside the fortress much for the
better. A Russian, passing from thence to St Peters-
burgh, there testified that the route from Sebastopol
to Simpheropol was so encumbered with dead bodies

O



2 1 4 Impatience for an Assault.

dead horses, and dead cattle, that the whole line
was infected with pestilential vapours, and, being
impassable for vehicles, could only be traversed on
horseback.

All these days great impatience had prevailed in the
English camp. It was asked why the cannonade had
been begun if not to be followed to its legitimate conclu-
sion. The key to the mystery is to be found in the
following chapter.



CHAPTER X.

IMPORTANT EVENTS ELSEWHERE.

Death of the Czar The Vienna Conference Louis Napoleon's Plan He
intends to go to the Crimea Lord Clarendon sent to dissuade Him
The Emperor visits the Queen Terms proposed at Vienna
Austria frames a Proposal The Emperor abandons His Intention
English Advocates of Russian Interests First Embarkation for
Kertch The Expedition recalled Conference of Commanders
Canrobert resigns the command.

THE bearing of the Czar Nicholas, so haughty and
arrogant at the outset of the war, had undergone a
notable alteration. Following on the defeats on the
Danube, that of the Alma wrung from him, in his com-
munications with Menschikoff, utterances almost of
despair, mingled, however, with expressions of deter-
mination to oppose his evil fortune to the bitter end.
Then came the terrible slaughter of Inkerman, almost
pressing hope out of him. But some new comfort
dawned with the news of the sufferings of the Allies in
the beginning of winter, and it was then he uttered a
saying, famous at the time, that there were two generals
who were about to fight for him, " Janvier et Fevrier."
But, as we have seen, in this last month came the defeat
at Eupatoria. It is generally believed that this blow,
aggravated to his proud spirit because inflicted by the



216 Death of the Czar.

despised Turks, was fatal. A very few days after re-
ceiving the news, while he was still engaged in issuing
orders to his generals, and reviewing his troops, his
splendidly powerful frame suddenly collapsed. On his
return from the parade ground on the 27th of February,
a difficulty of breathing was manifest, paralysis of the
lungs ensued, and on the 2d March he died. Survivors
of that time may remember a terrible cartoon in Punch
of the Czar dead upon his camp bed, while a skeleton, in
Russian garb and helmet, pressed its hand on his breast,
with the inscription, " General Fevrier turned traitor."
The French sent the news to the general commanding
in Sebastopol by a flag of truce ; but he kept it secret,
until it should be confirmed from St Petersburgh. It
came, accompanied by a message from the new Czar,
to tell the defenders that, " passed away into life eternal,
the supreme chief of the orthodox warriors blessed from
on high their unequalled constancy and valour."

It was soon seen that Alexander II. was under the
influence of the war party, for a manifesto issued on the
day of his accession was not merely warlike, but menac-
ing, and though his prudent minister, Nesselrode, sought
in a circular to diminish its effect, the friends of peace
found nothing in the change of sovereigns to encourage
them.

In the meantime the conference of the Powers,
broken off months before by Russia's rejection of the
four points which formed its basis, was revived. Prince
Gortschakoff, cousin of the general, had been sent as
Minister to Vienna, and had managed so to represent




y//< \h-mJbetoabs



The Vienna Conference. 217

the refusal as to afford ground for again assembling the
delegates. Since the withdrawal of Russia from the
Danube, Austria had no longer an interest in joining in
the war ; nevertheless, she had in December come to a
fresh agreement with France and England for putting
pressure on the Czar. But, up to the end of his life,
Nicholas had declared that he would consent to no
limitation of his naval power in the Black Sea. When,
therefore, Nesselrode announced, on the loth March, that
the new Czar would join in the Vienna Conference " in
a sincere spirit of concord," this assurance, receiving no
confirmation from what else was known of Alexander's
views, did not inspire much hope of success for negotia-
tions in which the Allies were determined to insist on
that condition. But they were quite willing to give the
cause of peace another chance, and the conference began
on the 1 5th March, Lord John Russell being the repre-
sentative of England.

Meanwhile, other influences had been at work which
seriously affected the conduct of the war. It has been
said that General Niel was regarded as the military
counsellor of Louis Napoleon, and also that he consi-
dered the interception of communications between
Sebastopol and the interior as indispensable to the
capture of the place. This view was so natural to an
engineer, that he must be considered to have arrived
at it of himself; and when we find the Emperor also
holding that opinion, it is more likely that he derived
it from Niel, than that Niel derived it from him. How-
ever that may be, it had fixed itself in Napoleon's mind,



2 1 8 Louis Napoleons Plan.

which was much given to patient and persistent brood-
ing and cogitation over ideas ; and when, under this
process, they had so far taken shape as to inspire in
him a paternal interest, he also acquired in them a pro-
found belief. Turning over in this way the idea of
investing Sebastopol, he had probably at first sent Niel
to the Crimea to test it on the spot, with instructions,
in case he should adhere to it, to take steps to prevent
such operations of the siege as would involve serious
risk and loss, which would, of course, from their point
of view, be incurred in vain, and would needlessly
diminish the forces to be employed in the field. As
has been seen, some restraining influence had become
apparent in the course of the following operations.
But the Emperor's meditations on the subject did not
stop here. Possessed with the necessity of driving the
Russian field army off the lines of communication
between Russia and Sebastopol, and bestriding them
with what would then become an army of investment,
he combined with it this other idea, that if, when these
operations should be approaching completion, he could
place himself in person at the head of the Allied
Forces in the field, and deal the finishing stroke, such
a military achievement would tend greatly to assure
his hold on France. After this, passing out of the
regions of theory, he began secretly, as if for another
purpose, to assemble a large army of reserve at Con-
stantinople, and also to construct the plan of the
intended campaign, although he had no acquaintance
of any kind with war.



He intends to go to the Crimea. 2 1 9

The plan was this : the Allies were to form three
armies. One was to continue to guard the trenches and
push the siege. Another, under Lord Raglan, was to
assemble in the valley of Baidar (east of Balaklava), and
to push its advanced posts towards Bakshisarai. The
third, under Louis Napoleon himself, or a general ap-
pointed by him, composed of troops taken from before
Sebastopol, and the reserves from Constantinople, was
to be landed at Aloushta, on the south-eastern face of
the peninsula, nearly in point of latitude abreast of
Bakshisarai. This last army was to march, over a
pass of the Tchatir-dagh Mountain, upon Simpheropol.
Should the Russians concentrate on that point for the
defence of their central depot of supply, Lord Raglan,
moving on Bakshisarai, was to combine his action with
that of the other army by threatening the Russian right
or rear. But should the enemy, abandoning Simphero-
pol, concentrate in the neighbourhood of Sebastopol, the
French Army from Simpheropol would advance upon it
by Bakshisarai, while Lord Raglan, in concert, would
attack the heights of Mackenzie's Farm. The Russian
army, if defeated, would be driven off the line of com-
munication, the Allies would sever it, and Sebastopol,
deprived of supplies and of reinforcements, must speedily
surrender.

The Emperor's determination to proceed himself to
the Crimea, and undertake the conduct of a plan of
this kind, was announced, in a letter he wrote to Lord
Palmerston, on the 26th February. The reason he put
forward for desiring to go himself was the necessity



22O Lord Clarendon sent to dissuade Him.

of placing over all the Allied Forces a chief whose in-
fluence would secure unity of command. "You will
tell me, perhaps," the letter said, " that I might entrust
some general with this mission. Now, not only would
such a general not have the same moral influence, but
time would be wasted, as it always has been, in memo-
randums between Canrobert and Lord Raglan, between
Lord Raglan and Omar Pasha." If England would
find ships for the necessary transport animals, he would
find the additional men required for the enterprise.

This proposal not only startled our Government, but
filled it with dismay. But it was felt to be a difficult
matter to argue against a scheme which had taken
such strong possession of his mind. It happened that
he was about to visit the camp at Boulogne ; and the
opportunity was taken to send Lord Clarendon thither
to discuss the matter with the Emperor in person. It
was a momentous crisis in the alliance ; for in the
absence of the chief of the State, the gravest attempts
to subvert his authority were to be feared in Paris,
where, moreover, the spirit which supported the war,
always feeble, might die out without him ; while, on
the other hand, a failure, or even a check, in his opera-
tions in the field might be fatal to power resting on
such foundations as supported his. Moreover, it was
strongly impressed on Lord Clarendon that the
Emperor was (as the Prince Consort's diary records)
" entirely mistaken in the belief that his going to Sebas-
topol would be popular with the Army generally, or
that he would even be well received by the troops in the



The Emperor visits the Queen. 2 2 1

Crimea. They adhered to him as Emperor, but did not
like to be commanded by anyone but a professional
man, and they looked upon him as a civilian."

Louis Napoleon received Lord Clarendon very cor-
dially, and explained his plan of operations, to which,
as a problem of strategy, the trained diplomatist made
no brusque opposition, but at once assured him that
everyone to whom it had been made known was im-
pressed with its sagacity. Where it was open to question,
he said, was in the means for executing it. These were
then discussed at large ; delays were inevitable ; if the
Emperor were to go at once, he might be detained
there much longer than he expected ; and it was sug-
gested, as a fresh difficulty, that the English and Turks
would view his assumption of the supreme command as
promising to confer on the French the chief share of
credit in the new campaign. Lord Clarendon was so
far successful as to induce him at least to postpone his
departure.

A fortnight later came a proposal from the Emperor
that he and the Empress should pay a visit to the Queen.
The notice was short, because he still intended to go to
the Crimea at the end of April. Fresh opportunities of
inspiring him with doubts of the expediency of that step
were foreseen in this visit, and on other grounds also
it was cordially welcomed. On the i6th April the Im-
perial guests entered London, on their way to Windsor.
All classes in the capital greeted them with extra-
ordinary enthusiasm. There was a background in the
recent past well fitted to bring his present position into



222 Terms proposed at Vienna.

striking relief. He had lived here a powerless exile,
unregarded except by the great world, where he was,
indeed, well liked, but nevertheless looked on as a
dreamy adventurer. His wildest dreams were now
realised, and when the master of France, the ally of
England, the most powerful antagonist of Russia, after
passing through cheering crowds in Pall Mall, entered
King Street, he there emphasised the contrast between
now and then, by pointing out to the Empress the
modest lodging (now bearing on its front the record of
the fact) where he had lived in the days of his exile.
At Windsor a reception no less gratifying, in a quieter
and deeper form of welcome, awaited them, and their
whole visit was an unbroken triumph.

Meanwhile the conference was holding its sittings at
Vienna. Its proceedings were not of a kind to confer
credit on any of those who took part in it. On the side
of the Allies, the terms offered were absurdly easy in com-
parison with the vast efforts they were making, and if
accepted, would have left neither to France nor England
anything to be proud of. On the other hand, the part
played by Russia was hardly consistent with common
sense, or even with sanity. Russia always has a breed
of negotiators who, without making themselves con-
spicuous for exalted views, are quick to perceive ad-
vantages, and the use to which they can be turned, and
who are nothing short of audacious in their mode of
conducting the contests of diplomacy. Too much alive
to the triumphs of mere cleverness, they often seem to
make some empty victory at the conference board an


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Online LibraryEdward Bruce HamleyThe war in the Crimea → online text (page 14 of 20)