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of ordinary strength, had made about 150 yards of trench,
the Russians had made more than 1000 yards, besides
a supplementary work close to the head of Quarantine
Bay. And these works were not to play a defensive
part merely ; when armed, they would rake the French
trenches, and form a new and serious obstacle to the
progress of the siege. Therefore Pelissier ordered that

The French attack It, 239

the new works should be attacked that night ; the
enemy was equally resolved to defend them ; and it so
happened that about 6000 men were devoted to the pur-
pose on each side. All the guns, Russian and French,
that could aid the infantry were laid on their objects,
ready to open. At nine on the night of the 22d the fight
began, and continued without intermission till three in
the morning. There was a glimmering moon, and
against a low bank of clouds the flashes of the guns
marked the hostile lines ; the rattle of small-arms re-
sounded through the night, and at times a cheer, rising
out of the gloom, showed where a charge had been led,
or some advantage won. Many times had each side
gained a temporary success ; but as the French could
not remain in the work by day, under the fire of the
place, the Russians still held it in the morning, though
it had cost them dear. They had lost 2650 men ; the
French, 1800.

It so happened that the neighbouring bay of
Kamiesch had presented, on this same 22d, an unusually
busy scene, for the troops destined for the expedition
to Kertch were embarking there. From the ships
they heard the conflict raging at no great distance. In
the morning they sailed on their enterprise. Unluckily
for the Russians, one of their posts, from a tower of
observation, saw and signalled that large forces were in
movement from the harbour. Gortschakoff imagined
that they were about to be landed on the coast for an
attack on his forces in the field. He concluded he could
spare no troops for another fight in the trenches from

240 And capture It.

his army, which lay between Mackenzie's Farm and
the heights of the Belbek. Therefore, only two bat-
talions were to hold the new work. If the French
should prove to have had enough of fighting the night
before, these would suffice to protect the completion of
the work; but if attacked by superior numbers, they
must withdraw. The French did come on again that
night in great force, drove out the guard, and converted
the line of trench into a parallel of their own. This
night the losses were about 400 on each side.

The much-talked-of expedition to Kertch* had a very
practical object. The eastern point of the lozenge which
the outline of the Crimea forms runs in a long, narrow
isthmus towards the Circassian coast of the Black Sea,
from which it is separated by the narrow straits of Kertch,
and these give access, from the waters of the Euxine, to
those of the inland Sea of Azof. Into this sea the River
Don empties itself, and thus the resources of large dis-
tricts on its banks, and of Circassia, can be swept into the
isthmus ; and the superiority of this route, compared
with that along the wretched roads of Southern Russia,
and through the barren country by Perekop to Sim-
pheropol, had made it the great line of supply to Gort-
schakofPs army. The Sea of Azof was thronged with
craft, occupied in transporting stores to great depots
on the shores of the isthmus. Taganrog, on the shore
of the Sea of Azof, near the mouth of the Don, was
a considerable town, and in former days had even, from
its pleasant situation, been thought of for the capital of

* See inner map on Map 3.

Expedition to Kertch. 241

Russia. The whole region was at this time specially
full of business and activity.

The ships reached the straits of Kertch on the early
morning of the 24th. They bore, in all, French, Turks,
and English, 15,000 infantry, and five field batteries.
There were about 9000 Russians in the isthmus, of
which 3000 were cavalry. There were batteries guard-
ing the straits, armed with sixty-two heavy guns, and
some forty others, unmounted, of large calibre. And
there had been plenty of time to prepare for an attack,
since the fiasco of three weeks earlier had warned
the enemy. It might have been expected that, with
such means at his disposal, General Wrangel, who
commanded in the isthmus, would have made at least
some show of resistance. But seeing how exposed his
forces were, in their straitened position, to be cut off
by a landing in their rear, he made haste to withdraw
them, at the same time destroying his coast batteries,
while, of fourteen war-vessels, ten were burnt by their
crews. The Allied Squadrons therefore passed into the
straits without molestation. The landing of the troops
was effected the same night, in a bay a few miles from
the town of Kertch, which they entered early next
morning, while a flotilla of vessels of light draught
passed into the Sea of Azof. There they captured or
destroyed all the great number of vessels engaged in
transporting supplies for GortschakofPs army, as well
as vast quantities of corn, flour, and stores. At one
point they came on the wrecks of the remaining four
steamers of the Russian Naval Squadron, destroyed by

242 Its Complete Success.

order of its commander. A complete clearance of every-
thing that could aid the Forces in the Crimea was made
throughout the shores of the Sea of Azof. At Taganrog,
the depot of the immense supplies brought down the
River Don, where some semblance of opposition was
made by the garrison, the destruction of the stores on
the beach was accomplished under cover of a fire from
the boats of the flotilla. The fort of Arabat was bom-
barded and taken. Meanwhile the large men-of-war
of the Allied Squadrons, outside the straits, made for
Soujouk-kale and Anapa, strong places on the Circassian
coast, which at their approach were abandoned by their
garrisons. These operations were concluded by the
second wee* in June, and the result was thus summed
up by Pelissier, in a letter to the War Minister: "We
have struck deep into the Russian resources ; their chief
line of supply is cut, I did well to concur in this
expedition, so fertile in results. Confidence is general,
and I view with calm assurance the approach of the
final act." In fact, the expedition had fulfilled, in no
slight degree, the Emperor's policy of investment.

Meanwhile the clearance of the crowded Upland had
been effected. At daylight, on the 25th May, Canrobert,
with two Divisions, and cavalry and artillery, passed
the Traktir Bridge, drove the Russians from Tchorgoun,
and destroyed their camp and their barracks. The
force then recrossed the stream, and took position on
its left bank, holding an armed work at the bridge. Italy,
having some time before joined the alliance against
Russia, had despatched General La Marmora, with a

The Extended Position. 243

small army of 15,000 men, including some cavalry and
artillery, to the Crimea. These troops now occupied
ground on the French right, across the road from
Baidar. In rear of all a large force of Turks from
Eupatoria took up the same line of heights across the
valley of Balaklava which they had occupied on the
25th of October. The land on which the Army was
encamped had at this time resumed its smiling aspect,
except, indeed, the ground between the Turks and
Balaklava, where the small paradise which had greeted
us on our first arrival had been completely destroyed.
It had then been one large and well-stored garden.
Plums and apples grew overhead, the clustering vines
were thick with green and purple grapes, and between
the vineyards was a rich jungle of melons, pumpkins,
tomatoes, and cabbages. All this had given place to
the grim features of war. But elsewhere the grass had
sprung up, mixed with flowers in extraordinary variety
and profusion ; the willows again drooped their leaves
over the Tchernaya ; even the field of Inkerman resumed
its green carpet, all the richer, perhaps, for the battle, and
turf like that of our south downs once more covered the
Upland. A most remarkable feature of the southern coast
of the Crimea is the rare beauty of the colouring of its
iron-bound coast. Those cliffs, so implacable in the
storms of winter, are dyed with the loveliest rose-colours,
pearly greys, yellows, dark reds, and rich browns, with
purple shadows, in the most effective combinations. On
a summit of these, in full view of the Black Sea, stands
the Monastery of St George, with 1 its long low ranges of

244 Ancient Remains.

building, its green domes and turrets, reared on solid
basements of masonry, white like the rest of the edifice.
Here the brotherhood, clad in black gowns, with tall
cylindrical caps, from which black veils descended be-
hind, continued to pray and chaunt ; here, too, lived in
peace some Russian families, including that of the late
commandant of Balaklava; and here was established our
telegraph station. Near this was the site of an ancient
temple of Diana ; Cyclopean remains exist there, the
palace and gardens which contained the famous Golden
Fleece had looked from hence over the sea ; and it must
have been in the valley below that " Medea gathered the
enchanted herbs, which did renew old ^Eson." There
were tokens, too, of inhabitants compared with whom
Medea and ^Eson are moderns. Across a gully, which
led to a cove used by our troops as a bathing-place, lay
a ridge which might have been the roof of a tunnel.
But the many footsteps et length wore away the soil of
ages, and it was apparent that a huge Saurian had been
in some way swept across the gully, and become fixed
there ; and it was his skeleton, hidden even in Jason's
time, that was now laid bare to the view of British

Crossing the valley of the Tchernaya, in grass and
flowers to the horses' knees, and ascending the green
hillsides of Kamara, beyond the Sardinian outposts, the
explorer came on expanses of tall coppice, with trees of
larger growth, which enclosed glades like those of a park.
Here were some British marines, whose lines had fallen
in a place pleasant as the meadows of Devon, in front of

Valley of Baidar. 245

which rose a wooded mountain, its craggy peaks break-
ing through the verdure. A wood path, winding amid
tall trees, led to the next summit, which disclosed
a magnificent landscape. Below lay the valley of
Baidar, stretching from the edge of the sea-cliffs to the
distant mountain range a tract of flowery meadows
sprinkled with trees and groves. In the midst of the
valley stood, at some distance apart, two villages, their
roofs gleaming red through the surrounding trees ; but
no labourers, nor waggoners, nor cattle gave life to the
scene, nor had any corn been sown for this year's
harvest. The villages were not only deserted but, as
some visitors had ascertained, quite bare of all
tokens of domestic life. Turning back along the sea-
cliffs, the silent, deserted, beautiful region came to an
end on reaching the fortified ridge above Balaklava ;
here were the troops busied with their camp duties,
mules and buffaloes toiling with their loads ; and up
the hills beyond Kadukoi, above the Turkish camp,
the bearded pashas, sitting in open, green tents,
smoked their long-stemmed pipes in that blissful calm
which such matters as wars and the peril of empires
could not disturb.




The Emperor persists in His Plan Pelissier opposes It The Objects of
the Attack Assault of the White Works Assault of the Mamelon
The Struggle for It Assault of the Quarries The Emperor still
persists Error of Pelissier His Second Error His Insufficient
Reason Failure at the Malakoff Failure at the Redan A Partial
Success Todleben wounded Pelissier's Persistency in prosecuting
the Siege Vaillant sides with Pelissier Death of Lord Raglan
His Funeral Sufferings of the Defenders Russian Plans of Battle
Russian Advance for Battle Battle of the Tchernaya Retreat of
the Russians Russian Losses in the War.

MEANWHILE the energy of the French General was
impelling him, in complete accord with his British
colleague, towards one of his main objects. This was
to storm the White Works, the Mamelon, and the work
between the English trenches and the Redan known as
the Quarries. Todleben many times asserts that the
Flagstaff Bastion, and other works in front of the town,
had frequently been reduced to so desperate a condition
from the artillery fire that an assault on them must have
been successful, and that the loss of any of these would
have entailed the surrender of the place. That the
matter did not so present itself to Pelissier's mind is
evident from the fact that, with all the means of forming
a judgment which the proximity of his siege works to
the town defences, and his frequent attacks on the
enemy's outworks gave him, he deliberately adopted

The Emperor persists in His Plan. 247

the course of attacking the proper left half of the
Russian line of defence, that covering the suburb ; and
a necessary preliminary was to wrest the outworks just
mentioned from the enemy. With this view, the arming
of fresh batteries, and the storing of the great quantities
of ammunition necessary for a sustained cannonade, once
more went on in the trenches.

But if Pelissier was constant to his own ideas, so
was Louis Napoleon. Unable to condemn the previous
operations after they had proved so successful, he had,
nevertheless, given them but a cold approval, regarding
them indeed as false fires leading his General astray.
And now he despatched a telegram to Pelissier in these
terms : " For the well-being of France, and for the glory
of our arms, you are at the head of the finest army
which perhaps has ever existed. You are certain of
a deathless fame, but great things must be done for it.
The conduct of the siege is even more the business of
the chief engineer than of the general-in-chief ; but the
chief engineer has addressed to you these observations :
* If you push the siege without investing the place, you
will only obtain, after bloody conflicts costing you your
best troops, what would have come of itself after the
investment.' In conformity with the British Govern-
ment, which writes in the same sense to Lord Raglan,
I give you a positive order not to devote yourself to the
siege before having invested the place. Concert with
Lord Raglan and Omar Pasha measures for the offen-
sive, whether by the Tchernaya or against Simpheropol."

But before receiving this, Pelissier had sent a telegram

248 Pe 'Ussier opposes It.

to the Emperor to a very different purpose : " To-day
I am going to see Lord Raglan, who shares my ideas,
in order to settle the last dispositions for the attack by
storm, which ought to place in our power the White
Works, the Mamelon, and the Quarry before the Redan.
I calculate on beginning this operation on the 7th, and
on carrying it right through with the utmost vigour."
And the telegram he proceeded to act on was his own.

At three in the afternoon of the 6th June the siege
batteries opened. Our own guns, as before, were mainly
directed on the Redan and Malakoff and their depend-
encies ; but our battery of heavy guns, increased now
to twenty, on the right of the Right Attack, and some of
the mortar batteries more in advance, were brought to
bear on the Mamelon, crossing their fire with that of the
French batteries on Mount Inkerman.

The work known as the Quarries was situated at
about 400 yards in front of the Redan, at a point
where the gradual downward slope was broken by an
abrupter dip, and it thus stood on what was com-
paratively a small eminence. The ground there had
lately been occupied with heaps of stones and rubbish,
but these had been replaced by a regular work, though
retaining the old name. This work, thus covering the
Redan, had bsen itself covered by rows of rifle screens.
But, on the night of the iQth April, Colonel Egerton,*
with a detachment of the 77i:h ; without firing a shot,
drove out, or killed with the bayonet, the occupants of
these pits, and repulsed the troops supporting them, so

* Killed the same night, later.

/' / '''/J - / /; X/

/f/'rf -//</// fff/t , I t/i<rr-/

- y/i f >/>f< //<-<'/s^'efirt&sth&


:/<'tu r<t / - /f : /f, >.>n' /,

The Objects of the Attack. 249

that now our advanced line of trench in the Right Attack
was face to face with the Quarries. As soon as the
French should have secured the Mamelon we were to
attack this work, and there establish ourselves.

All the works about to be attacked contained only a
small proportion of the troops that were to be employed
in their defence. The number sufficient to line their
parapets, with a reserve within to make good losses,
having been provided, the supports, in much greater force,
were drawn up at some convenient spot near by, ready
to reinforce the defenders, and to meet the auxiliary
attacks which would approach the work from its flanks.
The White Works, backed on the harbour, were sup-
ported by a battery at the end of the Careenage ravine,
and the reserves were placed some in a small ravine
in rear, some on the other side of the Careenage ravine.

The fire of the siege batteries was tremendous be-
yond all precedent. Five hundred and forty-four great
guns bore on the Russian works, and were opposed by
a nearly equal number. The effect of the fire of the
Allies was soon manifest. The work on the Mamelon
was terribly crushed, chiefly, says Todleben, "by the
English guns, which made up for some slowness of fire
by remarkable precision of aim." The White Works
were less considerably damaged, and could keep up a fire
till evening. The works of the main line of defence also
maintained the struggle, except the Malakoff itself, the
right face of which, says Todleben. had been so knocked
about by the English guns as to be reduced almost to
silence. With dusk the Allied batteries ceased firing,

250 Assault of the White Works.

but their mortars continued to throw their huge shells


throughout the night. Nevertheless, the Russians,
under the inspiration and the eye of Todleben, had
made good their damages by morning.

On the 7th the cannonade was resumed with the
same terrible effects as before. The Mamelon was re-
duced to absolute silence, the parapet of its right face
was almost levelled, and after two hours the Malakofif
was no longer in a condition to support it. By six in
the evening the White Works and their auxiliary battery
were ruined, and the parapets thrown into the ditch.

Half-past six was the hour fixed for the assault
a time which would allow daylight enough to secure
possession of the works, while darkness would" come
soon enough to cover the working parties against the
fire of the supporting batteries. The Russians could
perceive the troops for the assault crowding into the
trenches, and prepared to meet them. But the French
had approached so near to the defences before the town
that the part of the garrison on that side was still main-
tained in greater strength than that which defended
the suburb. At the appointed hour Bosquet sent two
brigades at the White Works, which, encountering only
half a battalion in each, captured both so speedily that
a reserve battalion, hurrying up from the ravine behind,
was too late, and was swept away in its turn. Then two
other Russian battalions, crossing the Careenage ravine,
ascended to the scene of contest ; but Bosquet, in antici-
pation, had sent two battalions down the ravine, which,
ascending its bank on their right, took these Russian

Assault of the Mamelon. 251

reserves in rear, and captured a great part of them. No
further attempt was made to retake the works ; though
three other battalions of reserve were despatched by the
Russians, they reached no further than to the battery on
the point. During the night the French connected
these works with their own trenches.

At half-past five the French columns for the attack
of the Mamelon were formed at the entrance of the Docks
ravine. To each battalion General Bosquet addressed a
few words of encouragement. Preceded by their vivan-
diere, who was well mounted, and wore a white hat and
feather, the Algerine Zouaves headed the march, next
came the French Zouaves, then the Green Chasseurs,
attended by their vivandiere, and several regiments of
the line followed, the whole moving down to the point
where the trenches in which they were to await the signal
to attack were entered from the ravine.

Crowds of spectators from the camps were assembled
at points commanding a good view. The Mamelon,
always conspicuous, was the cynosure of all eyes.
Admiral Nakimoff rode up the rear slope of the
hill about six, and leaving his horse at the entrance,
passed into the work. Suddenly loud shouts caused
him to look over the parapet, when he beheld three
French columns advancing to the assault, and driving
before them the sharpshooters who had lined the cover-
ing trench. The Turcos formed the right column, the
50th regiment of the line the centre, the 3d (French)
Zouaves the left. Led by one man, Colonel Brandon,
who kept throughout in advance, the centre column

252 The Struggle for the JMamelon.

went straight up the slope, passed the line of intrench-
ment which crossed it, and in a few minutes was crowd-
ing the edge of the ditch. Presently the leading troops
were seen on the parapet, still led by Colonel Brancion,
who leaped into the work, where he was instantly slain.
At the same moment the Turcos, passing the intrench-
ments which extended to the left of the work, ascended
the slopes towards its rear, when the defenders, with the
Admiral, abandoned it almost without a struggle, and
hurried off towards the Malakoff, while the tricolour was
presently seen fluttering over the Mamelon.

The captured work was of the kind called a lunette
(though a very irregular one), two sides meeting in a
salient, and open in the rear, so that not only could
reinforcements be poured quickly in, but the batteries
of the main line could sweep the interior if occupied by
the enemy. To cover their working parties, who would
now close 'and fortify the open rear, the foremost assail-
ants pressed out in pursuit, even up to the ve-rge of the
Malakoff, the guns of which at once opened on them,
while the rifles of the garrison blazed along the parapets.
For a quarter of an hour the scene was wrapt in smoke ;
then the Russian reinforcements, arriving in strength,
drove the French back upon the Mamelon. The Rus-
sians, in their turn, followed up their success, pressing
into the Mamelon, and after a short struggle the French
gave way, and ran down the hill to their own trenches.
Ample provision of reserves had been made for this
contingency, and reinforced by these the French again
went up the hill and into the work, which they captured

Assaidt of the Qiiarries. 253

and held, and round which their musketry continued
to sparkle in the darkness, while their comrades con-
structed the necessary trench across the rear of the
lunette, converting it into what was henceforth called,
in obedience to a general order, " the Brancion

The entry of the French into the Mamelon was to
be the signal for the English to attack the Quarries.
Troops of the Light and Second Divisions were assigned
to this purpose, in number 700, for the immediate assault,
with 600 in close support, and the 62d regiment in
reserve, with strong working parties, the whole under
Colonel Shirley. The stormers, operating by the flanks
of the work, easily drove out the defenders, not only
from it, but from the collateral trench extending thence
across the ridge. But the work, unenclosed, afforded no
protection from the fire of the Russian batteries behind
it, which came into play, till their infantry, sallying from
the Redan, engaged the assailants on the ridge outside.
The combat swayed to and fro at intervals, as often as
the Russians made a fresh sally, throughout the night,
but all the trenches fought for remained in possession of
the British.

Morning disclosed not only that Pelissier had accom-
plished the object of driving the enemy everywhere from
their outworks, and restricting them to the main line of
defence (for they had abandoned the auxiliary battery
on the edge of Careening Bay), but that the advanced
positions they had occupied had been converted into the
front line of the siege works, connected by trenches with

254 The Emperor still persists.

those in rear. In accomplishing this the French had
lost in all, killed, wounded, and prisoners, 5440 men ;

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Online LibraryEdward Bruce HamleyThe war in the Crimea → online text (page 16 of 20)