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learn with regret that an attack from which such im-
portant consequences are anticipated must be any
longer delayed.

"The difficulties of the siege of Sebastopol appear
to Her Majesty's Government to be more likely to in-
crease than diminish by delay ; and as there is no pro-
spect of a safe and honourable peace until the fortress is
adduced, and the fleet taken or destroyed, it is, on all
accounts, most important that nothing but insuperable
impediments, such as the want of ample preparations
by either army, or the possession by Russia of
a force in the Crimea greatly outnumbering that
which can be brought against it, should be allowed
to prevent the early decision to undertake these
operations. . . .

" It is probable that a large part of the Russian army
now retreating from the Turkish territory may be poured
into the Crimea to reinforce Sebastopol. If orders to



A Siege contemplated. , 2 7

this effect have not already been given, it is further pro-
bable that such a measure would be adopted as soon as
it is known that the Allied armies are in motion to com-
mence active hostilities. Agnail communications byjsea
are now in the hands of the Allied Powers, it becomes of
importance to endeavour to cut off all communication
by land between the Crimea and the other parts of the
Russian dominions."

This despatch had been preceded by a private letter
containing this passage :

" The Cabinet is unanimously of opinion that, unless
you and Marshal St Arnaud feel that you are not suffi-
ciently prepared, you should lay siege to Sebastopol,
as we are more than ever convinced that, without the
reduction of this fortress, and the capture of the Russian
fleet, it will be impossible to conclude an honourable
and safe peace. The Emperor of the^ French has ex-
pressed his entire concurrence in this opinion, and, I
believe, has written privately to the Marshal to that
effect."

A siege^then, \vasin the programme, but it is certain
that even a probability that it would last through the
winter would have put an end to the project.

While awaiting embarkation, the troops were em-
ployed in making fascines and gabions for the siege
works, the material for which, abundantly supplied by
the woods around them, might not be found on the
plains before Sebastopol ; and great quantities of these



28 Preparations for Invasion.

were collected, ready for conveyance, on the south side
of Varna Bay.

It was at this time, while the armies were expecting
to begin the enterprise, that the cholera broke out
among them. Cases had occurred among the French
troops while on the voyage from Marseilles ; the pest
followed them to their camps, and late in July it reached
the British army. Out of three French divisions, it de-
stroyed or disabled 10,000 men, and our own regiments
in Bulgaria lost between five and six hundred. It then
attacked the fleets, which put to sea in hopes of thus
baffling it, but it pursued them, and reduced some ships
almost to helplessness. This was a main reason, among
others, why the stroke, which could not be dealt too
swiftly, was delayed. ~

Meanwhile the preparations went on. In order that
the guns might be available immediately on landing, it
was desirable that they should be conveyed complete
as for action, and, to this end, boats, united in pairs, were
fitted with platforms bearing the guns ready mounted
on their carriages ; and steamers were bought and char-
tered for the transport of other material. And now the
naval resources of England showed forth in their superi-
ority. The French, in default of sufficient transport,
crowded their war-ships with troops, thus unfitting them
for battle ; so did the Turks ; while the sea was covered
with the small sailing-vessels of both loaded with material.
But in one great compact flotilla of transports, in which
the steamers were numerous enough to lend the propel-
ling power to all, a British force, of all arms, namely,



The Cholera. 29

four divisions of infantry, the Light Brigade of cavalry,
and sixty guns, with all that was necessary to fight a
battle, was embarked ; and our war-ships, thus preserving
all their efficiency, were left in condition to engage the
enemy's should they issue from Sebastopol.

It was at Varna, that the huge multitudinous business
of embarkation went on. Piers had been improvised by
the engineers, but of course the operation was accom-
plished under difficulties vastly greater than would have
been met with in home ports. The troops moved down
slowly from their camps ; the poison in the air caused a
general sickliness, and the men were so enfeebled that
their knapsacks were borne for them on packhorses
during even a short march of five or six miles, all they
could at once accomplish. As they were embarked, they
sailed for the general rendezvous in the Bay of Balchick,
about fifteen miles north of Varna. The mysterious
scourge still pursued them on board ship, and added a
horrible feature to the period of detention, for the corpses,
sunk with shot at their feet, after a time rose to the
surface, and floated upright, breast high, among the
ships, the swollen features pressing out the blankets or
hammocks which enwrapped them.

After all were assembled, an adverse wind still
delayed them; but on the 7th September the whole
armament got under weigh in fine weather. Each great
British merchant steamer wheeled round till in position
to attach the tow-rope to a sailing transport (most of
these were East Indiamen of the largest class), and then
again wheeled till the ship in rear attached itself to



30 The Fleets and Flotillas.

a second ; then all wheeled into their destined positions
for the voyage. They were formed in five columns, each
of thirty vessels, and each distinguished by a separate
flag ; and the five columns carried the four divisions
of infantry, with their artillery, namely, the Light, the
First, Second, and Third, complete, and the Light
Brigade of cavalry. Few sights more beautiful could
be seen than the advance, and the manoeuvres which
preceded it, of this orderly array of ships, all among
the largest in existence, on the calm blue waters, under
the bright sky. The French and Turks, notwithstand-
ing the use of their men-of-war for transport, were
unable to carry any cavalry. Our flotilla was com-
manded and escorted by Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons
in the Agamemnon. Our naval Commander-in-Chief,
Admiral Dundas, directed the British Force that was
held ready to engage the enemy, including ten line-of-
battle ships, two screw-steamers, two fifty- gun frigates,
and thirteen smaller steamers carrying powerful guns.
The French fleet numbered fifteen line-of-battle ships
and ten or twelve war-steamers, and the Turkish eight
line-of-battle ships and three war-steamers.

The Russian fleet had, since the first entry of the
Allies into the Black Sea, remained in the fortified har-
bour of Sebastopol. It consisted of fifteen sailing line-
of-battle* ships, some frigates and brigs, one powerful
steamer, the Vladimir, and eleven of a lighter class.
Considering the encumbered condition of the French and
Turkish squadrons, it seems clear that if, with a fair
wind and good officers, the Russian armament had



Composition of the English Army. 31

issued from its shelter, it might in a bold attack (though
of course at heavy cost) have inflicted tremendous havoc
on the transports and troops.

It is to be noted that the Fourth Division of in-
fantry, the Heavy Brigade of cavalry, and five or six
thousand baggage horses belonging to the English
army, were still at Varna awaiting embarkation, and
the siege train was also there in the ships which had
brought it from England. Of these the greater part
of the Fourth Division was immediately embarked, and
landed in the Crimea in time to advance with the army. _

Our five infantry divisions were formed each of two
* brigades, each brigade of three regiments, and each
division numbered about 5000.

The First Division was commanded by the Duke of
Cambridge, and was formed of the brigade of Guards,
viz., a battalion each of the Grenadiers, Scots Guards,
and Coldstream, under General Bentinck ; and the 42d,
79th, and 93d Highlanders, under Sir Colin Campbell ;
with two field batteries.

The Second Division was commanded by Sir De
Lacy Evans, and composed of the brigades of Penne-
father, 3Oth, 55th, 95th, and Adams, 4ist, 47th, 49th;
with two field batteries.

The Third Division was under Sir Richard England,
with Brigadiers Campbell and Eyre, 1st, 38th, 5oth ;
4th, 28th, 44th regiments ; with two field batteries.

The Fourth Division was at first incomplete, its 46th
and 57th regiments being still en route. It was under
Sir George Cathcart, having the 2Oth, 2ist, 63d, 68th






Its Commanders.



regiments, and the first battalion of the Rifle Brigade ;
with one field battery.

The Light Division was commanded by Sir George
Brown, with the ^th, 23d, and 33d, under General
Codrington ; and the I9th, 7/th, and 88th, under
General Buller; also the second battalion of the Rifle
Brigade ; with one troop of horse artillery, and one field
battery.

The Light Brigade of cavalry, under Lord Cardigan,
included the 4th and I3th Light Dragoons, the 8th and
nth Hussars, and the I7th Lancers ; with one troop of
horse artillery.

Lord Raglan, Commander of the English Army, was
sixty-six years old. He had served on Welington's
staff, and lost his arm at Waterloo. Since those days his
sole military experience had been in the office of Military
Secretary at the Horse Guards. He was so far well ac-
quainted with military business, but he had never held any
command, and while no opportunity had been afforded
to him of directing troops in war, his life, for forty years,
had been no adequate preparation for it. But he was a
courteous, dignified, and amiable man, and his qualities
and rank were such as might well be of advantage in
preserving relations with our Allies.

Sir George Brown had distinguished himself in the
Peninsula as an officer of the famous Light Division
the reason, perhaps, for now giving him the command
of it and had been severely wounded at Bladensburg ;
since when his military life, like his chiefs, had been
passed chiefly in office work. He had held many



Part of the
Western and Southern Coasts

of the

CRIMEA

with the adjacent country
Showing Landing and March of the Allies



5 r 2 3 E'^sh Miles




Walker &



The French Generals. 35

posts, including that of Adjutant-General at the Horse
Guards.

Sir De Lacy Evans had a brilliant record from the
Peninsular, American, and Waterloo campaigns, and had
been Commander of the British Legion in Spain in two
very honourable campaigns and many battles.

Sir George Cathcart had in his youth, as aide-de-camp
to his father, British Commissioner with the Russian
Army, been present at the chief battles in 1813. He was
also on Wellington's staff at Quatre Bras and Waterloo.
He was favourably known as the writer of commentaries
on the campaign^ of 1812 and 1813 in Russia and Ger-
many; he had commanded various regiments of cavalry
and infantry; and, as Governor of the Cape, had recently
conducted successful campaigns against the Kaffirs and
the Basutos. On these grounds, his reputation stood so
high that a "dormant commission" had been given to
him, entitling him to command the army in case Lord
Raglan should cease to do so.

Of the Brigadier-Generals the best known was Sir
Colin Campbell, who had established a great reputation
as a commander of large forces in our Indian wars, after
very honourable service in the Peninsula.

Most of the French generals had seen much active
service in Algeria. St Arnaud was a gallant man,
experienced in the warfare suited to that country, but
frothy and vainglorious in a notable degree and much
too anxious to represent himself as taking the chief
part to be a comfortable ally.

Though part of the English army had seen service



The,



36 Description of the Crimea.

in India, though a large portion of the French troops
had made campaigns in Algeria, and though the
Russians hao! for years carried on a desultory war in
Circassia, yet the long European peace had left them
all with little except a traditional knowledge of civilised
war. No change of method had taken place since the
Napoleonic era. But the British and French had both
abandoned the musket for the rifle, ours being the
Minie ; both it and the French arm were muzzle-
loaders ; some Russian regiments had a rifle, but a
large proportion of them were still armed with the old
brass-bound musket which had served them throughout
the century ; the artillery also of all remained as
before.

As the fleets sailed eastward from Varna across the
Black Sea, their course was crossed at right angles by
the coast on which they were to land, and of which they
might almost be said to know as little as knight-errants,
heroes of the romances beloved by Don Quixote, knew
of the dim, enchanted region where, amid vague perils,
and trusting much to happy chance, they were to seek
and destroy some predatory giant.

Crim Tartary, better known now as the Crimea,
forms part of the Government of Taurida, a province of
Southern Russia. From the coast of the Euxine it
stretches southward, as an extensive peninsula, into the
midst of that sea. Its neck is the Isthmus of Perekop,
five miles wide, and its length from thence to Balaklava
at its southern end is, in direct line, 120 miles. All the
northern and middle portion is a flat and arid steppe,



Its Products and Population. 37

where are sprinkled at wide intervals small villages
inhabited by Tartars, whose possessions are flocks and
herds ; but the remaining and southern encUof the penin-
sula is different indeed in aspect, and in climate. Here
begins a mountain region sheltering from the northern
blasts the slopes and hollows, the lesser hills of which,
covered with pine and oak, enclose valleys of bounteous
fertility. Multitudes of wild flowers spring up amid the
tall grass ; the fig, the olive, the pomegranate and the
orange flourish, and the vine is cultivated with success
on the southern slopes. The seaward end runs out into
capes resting upon high cliffs, and is indented on its
western side by the deep and sheltered harbour of
Sebastopol, which, as the chief and indeed only large
and safe harbour of the Black Sea, had by the work of
generations been converted into a great arsenal and
dockyard, defended towards the sea by strong forts, and
affording ample anchorage for the Black Sea fleet, and
around these works had sprung up a city. The area of
the whole peninsula is nearly twice that of Yorkshire,
and its population at the time of the invasion numbered
something short of 200,000. Going along the road
from Sebastopol to Perekop, the first considerable
town reached, sixteen miles distant, is Bakshisarai, " the
Garden Pavilion," and in another sixteen miles, where
the road quits the hills for the steppe, is Simpheropol,
the nominal capital. The part of the country with which
the reader has at present to do is included in a parallelo-
gram, one side of which is a line outside the western
coast from Eupatoria to the level of Balaklava, and the



38 The Coast reconnoitered.

opposite side passes through the hill region, south from
Simpheropol to the sea.

In this region the mountains have subsided into hill
ranges of some 400 feet high, and through these the
watershed pours five streams flowing westward into the
Black Sea, all of which formed features in the campaign.
The first of these is the muddy rivulet called the Bul-
ganak ; seven miles south of it is the valley of the Alma
(Apple River) ; another space of seven miles divides the
Alma from the Katcha; four miles further the Belbek'is
reached ; and five miles from that the Tchernaya, north-
westerly in its course, flows into and forms the head of
the harbour of Sebastopol.

The distance from Varna to Eupatoria is about 300
miles. The armament arrived on the Qth at the rendez-
vous first assigned, " forty miles west of Cape Tarkan."
It remained anchored there throughout the loth, while
Lord Raglan and General Canrobert, with the Com-
manding Engineer, Sir John Burgoyne, and other English
and French officers, naval and military, reconnoitered the
coast for a landing-place, and observed its character
throughout. At dawn, in a swift steamer, the Caradoc,
escorted by the Agamemnon, they were off Sebastopol,
and could look through the entrance of the inlet upon
the forts, the ships, and the city ; then, rounding Cape
Kherson, they passed the cliffs on which stood the
plateau destined to bear the camps of the besiegers,
and arrived off the inlet of Balaklava, deep down be-
tween its two ancient high-perched forts. Then, turning
back north, they took note of the rivers already enumer-



The Landing-place. 39

ated, from the Belbek to the Bulganak, and the coast
thence to Eupatoria, when the space for the landing was
fixed on, south of that town, in Kalamita Bay. All the
nth and I2th the Turkish and French fleets, great part
of which was not propelled, as was ours, by steam, were
drawing together, and on the I3th nearly all were
opposite the beach, while those still at sea were coming
on with a fair wind.

The considerations which had been main elements in
the question of the selection of a point of disembarkation
were, first, a space sufficient for the armies to land to-
gether, and in full communication with each other ; and
secondly, that the ground should be such as the fire of
the ships could protect from the possible enterprises of
the enemy. Ship's guns are so formidable in size and
range that no batteries capable of rapid motion can
hope to contend with them. No ground fulfilling these
conditions was found on the southern coast, where the
cliffs stand up steep and high out of the water, nor did
the mouths of the rivers afford the necessary advantages.
On the other hand, the western coast offered no harbour
of which the armies could make a secure base, or even a
temporary depot ; while, on the southern coast, the inlet
of Balaklava, though small, was deep and well-sheltered,
where large steamers could unload close to the shore,
and the small bay of Kamiesch was capable of
being made a base. These facts will tend to throw
light on some questions raised during the progress of
the war.

The piece of beach selected to land on, five or six



40 The Troops landed.

miles north of the Bulganak, was very happily adapted
for the purpose.

Two small lakes at the foot of the sea-banks are
separated from the sea by strips of beach, and from
these strips roads went up the banks. Thus, when the
troops were landed here, no attack could be made on
them (by night, let us suppose) except by penetrating
into the narrow and easily defended space between the
lakes and the sea ; while, on the other hand, full facilities
existed for their movement to the plains above. Here
the disembarkation, quite unopposed, began on the Hth,
the French and Turks landing about two miles lower down
the coast, on a similar strip. In the afternoon a ground
swell arose, to a degree so violent that many boats were
hurled on the strand, and several rafts were dashed to
pieces, the troops, drenched with rain, making fires of
the fragments. Next day the surf abated, but it was
not till the i8th that the whole of the forces were landed,
and in condition to advance.

The Fourth Division having arrived and landed, the
British force numbered about 26,000 infantry, sixty guns,
and the Light Brigade of cavalry, about 1000 sabres. The
French had 28,000 infantry, and the Turks 7000, with
sixty-eight guns, but with no cavalry. In order that the
men might march lightly, especially when so many were
still low in strength from the effects of the atmosphere, the
knapsacks of the British were left on board ship, the more
indispensable articles being taken from them and carried
by the soldier, wrapt in the blanket which was to cover
him at night. No tents were landed except for the sick



Transport obtained. 41

and for general officers. Except such part of the pack-
horses as could be conveyed in the flotilla, there was no
transport landed, but some convoys of the enemy were
intercepted, and a number of country vehicles were
procured from the Tartars. In this way were collected
350 arabas (the waggons of the country, a rude frame-
work of poles surmounting the axle), and a thousand
cattle and sheep, with poultry, barley, fruit, and
vegetables.



CHAPTER III.

BATTLE OF THE ALMA, f^



Order of March of the Allies Operations open to the Russians The
Bulganak reached The Valley of the Alma The Russian Bank
Omissions of the Russian Commander The French ascend the
Heights Position in Front of the British Russian Forces there-
Delay to allow French to gain Heights English ordered to advance
First Onset of the English The Light and Second Divisions The
Russian Heavy Guns withdrawn Our First Onset fails Advance
of the Guards and Highlanders English Artillery in the Action
General Retreat of the Russians The Losses Tactical Views of the
Battle General Advance wanting in ensemble The Cavalry.

ON the 1 9th the advance of the armies began. The
French were on the right, next the sea. The fact that
we had cavalry and they had none indicated the inland
flank as ours. The four French divisions were ranged
in lozenge form, the apex heading south for Sebastopol,
the four points marked each by a division with its
guns ; and in the space thus enclosed were the Turks,
and the convoy of provisions, ammunition, and baggage.
The British were formed in two columns of divisions,
that next the French of the Second Division followed by
the Third ; the other of the Light Division followed by
the First and Fourth ; the batteries on the right of their
respective divisions. The formation of the divisions was
that of double companies from the centre, giving them
the means of forming with readiness either to the front or
the left flank, which was also the object of placing three



Operations open to the Russians. 43

of the five divisions in the left column. If the Russians,
after leaving a sufficient garrison in Sebastopol, were to
keep an army in the field, it might, from its natural line
of communication with Southern Russia, namely, the
road thither by Bakshisarai and Simpheropol, assume
a front at right angles to the front of the Allies, and
advancing thus, might attack either their flank or rear
without risk to its own. On this account, also, the Cavalry
Brigade was divided, two of its regiments covering the
front, the other two the left flank, while the fifth closed
the rear. If the Russians were to threaten that flank,
the three divisions of our left column would be the first
to confront them, with the other two in second line, while
the French and Turks must come up on their right, or
left, or both, according to the direction of the Russian
attack, and with fair chance, on those open plains, of
meeting it in time, and also, if forced to retreat with their
backs to the sea, they might expect effectual support
from their ships. But, at the best, persistent attacks on
this side by the Russians, with such a wide space to
manoeuvre on at pleasure, and with cavalry in superior
force (as, with our deficiency in that arm, it was certain
to be) would greatly, perhaps decisively, embarrass our
advance unless we should succeed in inflicting on the
enemy a crushing defeat.

The combined armies, then, were moving, in suffi-
ciently compact formation, straight for Sebastopol, about
twenty-five miles distant from the starting point of the
British ; through their front ran the post-road to that
city from Eupatoria ; but roads were needless, for the



44 '1 h- e Bulkanak reached.

ground was everywhere smooth, firm, grassy, and quite
unenclosed. In rear of the divisions moved the cattle,
sheep, the close array of arabas, and the pack-mules with
the reserve ammunition, while the cavalry regiment in
rear kept all in motion. In this order the Bulganak,
an insignificant sluggish stream, was reached early in the
afternoon. It was while our divisions were crossing its
bridge that they first saw the enemy. A force of the
three arms, about 2000 cavalry, 6000 infantry, and two
batteries of artillery, was drawn up among the hills, at
some distance beyond the stream ; insufficient for a
battle, but capable of an action with an advanced guard.
It appeared to have been brought there only to effect
an armed reconnaissance, for after a short and distant


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Online LibraryEdward Bruce HamleyThe war in the Crimea → online text (page 3 of 20)