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wards the right Kazan column, upon which it endeavoured
to form, and both came under the fire of the leading High-
land regiment (426). At the same time Campbell's other
regiments attacked the columns hitherto in reserve high up
the Kourgane Hill. These did not maintain the contest;
the Russian forces all over the position were quitting it.
No attempt was made by their cavalry or artillery on
this side of the field to cover the retreat ; they seemed to
have shifted for themselves, leaving the infantry columns
to make their way off the field, which they did with-
out panic, though shattered as they went by our most
advanced field batteries. The English, moving over
the whole field, from the eastern slopes of the Kour-
gane on the extreme left to the slopes of the Tele-
graph Hill now occupied by the French, once more
completed the connection of the Allied Forces, Lord



62 r fhe Losses.

Raglan proposed to push the enemy in his retreat with
the untouched troops of the two armies ; but the
French Marshal declined to join in that step, on the
ground that his men had divested themselves of their
knapsacks before ascending the heights, and that it was
impossible to advance till they had resumed possession
of them. The leading English batteries continued, how-
ever, to pursue the enemy with their fire for some little
distance on the plateau, where some of them bivouacked
at nightfall, covered by a few companies detached for
the purpose.

In the battle the English lost 106 officers, of whom
twenty-five were killed ; nineteen sergeants killed, and
102 wounded ; of rank and file, 3 1 8 killed, 1438 wounded ;
and nineteen missing, supposed to be buried in the ruins
of Bourliouk; total 2002. The French lost only three
officers killed, yet their official accounts placed their
total loss at the disproportionate number of 1340; but
there were good reasons for believing that this was a
great exaggeration. Lord Raglan (says Kinglake) be-
lieved that their whole loss in killed was sixty, and in
wounded 500, and there was a general belief in our
army that the French losses were slight. The Russians
stated their own losses at 5709.

As to the tactics of the Allies, they had before them
a position very difficult of access on their right, very
advantageous for defence in the centre, and with open
and undefended ground on their left. Supposing they
had neglected the part so difficult of access near the sea,
and carried their whole line inland, till their right was



Tactical Views of the Battle. 63

across the post-road, and their left extending far
beyond the Russian right, in that case, if the Russians
had held their position, with a powerful attack prepared
against their front, and a large force turning their right,
a defeat would have been to them absolute destruction.
If, seeing the manoeuvre, MenschikofF had marched out
of the position, and formed across our left, backed on
the Simpheropol road, he would have gained a tactical
advantage largely compensating for his numerical
inferiority, and great chances would have been afforded
to an able tactician thus operating on a flank with his
own retreat assured ; in fact, there would 'have been a
large field open for skilful manoeuvres on both sides,
and the Allies would at least have had the advantage
of drawing him from his position, when they might well
have hoped that, with ordinary equality of skill, they
would have forced him back, and gained the road to
Sebastopol. On the other hand, they had to consider
whether they would run any serious risk in thus leaving
a space between their right and the sea. Now a Russian
force could only have operated there by traversing the
plateau swept by the guns of the fleet, descending the
difficult paths through the cliffs, crossing the stream, and
forming for attack with its back to the sea, and with a
retreat across the Alma and up the cliffs impossible,
except in case of the most absolute defeat of the Allies.
This, therefore, need not be taken into the account, and
all considerations point to this suggested movement of
the Allied Army away from the sea as the right one.
The battle, as fought, showed a singular absence of






64 General Advance wanting in Ensemble.

skill on all sides. The Russian general showed great
incompetency in leaving the issues of the cliffs unclosed,
in keeping his reserves out of action, in withdrawing
his artillery when it might have best served him, and
in leaving absolutely unused his so greatly superior
force of cavalry on ground very well adapted to its
action. The part played by the French was not pro-
portionate either to their force, or to their military
repute. Of the two divisions brought at first on to the
plateau, one brigade, that nearest the sea, together with
all the Turks, never saw the enemy, and had no effect
on the action ; and another division of the front line,
with easier ground, only arrived very late to the support
of the others. Though these others (three brigades) were
opposed by no overwhelming force, they hung back, and
never, up to the end of the battle, seriously engaged
the Russians. No favourable impression was left on the
minds of the English by their Allies' share in the action.
The English divisional generals were, as we have
seen, left to themselves, except for the order given to
two of them to attack ; and it was inevitable, in their
relative position to the French, that they should advance
straight to their front. This they did, in the face of
a formidable resistance, and with a gallantry to which
their losses testify. But when it had become evident
that no great operation against our flank was to be
attempted, and that the enemy was altogether com-
mitted to a direct defence, our attack should have been
so strong, so concerted, and so fed and maintained, as
to bring our whole force to bear on the enemy. Thus,



The Cavalry. 65

if the Highland Brigade had crossed the river along
with the attacking divisions and beyond them, supported
by the Fourth Division and the cavalry, then the Light
and Second Divisions, secure on their flanks, and closely
supported by the Guards, could have brought their
whole strength at once to bear, while the Russian re-
serves would have found too much to do in meeting the
onset on their flank to reinforce the defenders of the
principal battery. But as there was no unity and no
concerted plan, our troops suffered accordingly. The
artillery, too, instead of being left to come into action
according to the views of its different commanders,
should have had its part in supporting the attack dis-
tinctly assigned to it. All, therefore, that we had to be
proud of was the dash and valour of the regiments en-
gaged. These were very conspicuous, and worthy of
the traditions of the Peninsular days. A French officer,
who was viewing the field, where our men lay, as they
had fallen, in ranks, with one of our naval captains,
observed to him, " Well, you took the bull by the horns
our men could not have done it."

Our cavalry, though so inferior in number, would
probably not have been deterred by that consideration
from engaging (as indeed it proved on a later occasion)
but the part assigned to it was that of observation and
defence only. " I will keep my cavalry in a bandbox,"
was said to have been Lord Raglan's expression ; and
he was right, for it was all the army had to depend on
for the many essential duties which cavalry must in
such a case perform.

E



CHAPTER IV.

I

THE MARCH ROUND SEBASTOPOL TO BALAKLAVA.



March to the Belbek Question of attacking the North Side Menschikoff
bars the Harbour Reasons against Attack of North Side
Todleben's- Strange Contention Impolicy of moving Allies Inland
The Flank March begun Rencontre with Menschikoff's Rear The
English reach the Tchernaya First View of Balaklava Question
of Bases for the Two Armies Lord Raglan chooses Balaklava
Features of the South Side Positions of the Allies.

THE next two days were passed on the Alma. The
many slain were buried by us. In and about the
principal battery were about 700 or 800 bodies, of
which two-thirds were Russians, and the dead lay
thick on other parts of the field. The close inter-
mixture of Russian and English bodies showed that
all the fighting on this part of the field had been
between them alone. Hospitals were established in
some empty houses in Bourliouk, where surgeons of
the army and navy attended to the wounded before
they were borne to the ships. And amidst these scenes
of suffering the cholera knew no relenting.

On the 23d the armies marched again, and as
before, over dry grassy plains, and passing the Katcha,
seven miles from the Alma, encamped on the heights
beyond about noon. The village here had been deserted



March to the Belbek. 67

in haste by the inhabitants. It had been expected that
the enemy might make another stand in the strong
position which these heights offered. But their defeat
had been too absolute, their retreat too hasty, to admit
of such a rally. Kinglake says it became a panic flight
for the shelter of Sebastopol. On the other hand, it
must be observed that this panic was not evident at
the close of the battle, and that our march on the foot-
steps of Menschikoff s army did not show us marks
of such complete disorder. At the mouth of the
Katcha the Scots Greys and the 5/th regiment (of
the Fourth Division) were disembarked, and joined
the army.

The next day a march of six miles carried us across
the Belbek. Here the character of the country changed
from grassy plains to hills clothed with coppice, and
here the army halted during the 25th. These heights
were waterless, and the cavalry and horse-artillery led
a hard life while covering the army ; the horses had
neither forage nor water for forty-eight hours, all which
time they remained accoutred and harnessed ; and the
men and officers did not, for these and two other days,
taste meat.

The army was now so close to the prime object of
the enterprise that, by going about a mile and a half
beyond the halting place, the towers and fortifications
were seen at no great distance in the basin below. And
it was during the halt here that the question arose
whether the army should at once attack the north side
of Sebastopol. It may be doubted whether it was ever



68 Question of attacking the North Side.

seriously considered. The harbour of Sebastopol is
from 1000 to 1200 yards wide. On the north side,
besides some storehouses and a factory, the only con-
structions were forts at the entrance ; others on the cliffs,
looking on the sea outside ; and on the heights inland a
large permanent work, known to us afterwards as " the
Star Fort," which, supported by earthen works and
batteries, recently thrown up on either flank, dominated
all the ground within range of its guns. It was on the
south side that the city stood, with its public buildings,
the quarters of the garrison, the docks, and the arsenal.
The harbour between these was filled with the ships of
war, whose broadsides could, of course, be brought to
bear on either side, but which were at first disposed
with the object of resisting an attack on the northern
bank, where they swept the ground over which an
enemy would advance. It is asserted that on the 2ist,
the day after the battle of the Alma, Sir Edmund
Lyons, second in command of the fleet, urged Lord
Raglan to follow up the success, and " try to take the
northern forts by a coup de main" But, from what has
just been said, this was manifestly not only a quite
desperate but a fruitless enterprise, except on one
condition, namely, that the Allied Fleet should take a
principal part in the attack ; and it was only in such
a case that the view of a naval commander need
have been an element in he question. Had some
of our ships engaged the forts, had the rest passed
in and attacked the vessels of the enemy, while the
Allied Army stood on the heights above ready to



Menschikoff bars the Harbour. 69

descend, it is conceivable that Sebastopol might have
fallen in a storm of battle as tremendous as the world
has ever witnessed. But those who assert that this oppor-
tunity continued to exist when the armies were on the
Belbek (23d and 24th September) ignore the change which
had taken place in the problem. Menschikoff, singularly
inefficient as a tactician, seems to have possessed both
sagacity and decision in other fields of the military art.
Immediately on entering Sebastopol after his defeat, he
perceived two measures to be necessary. The one was
to keep open, by means of an army in the field, his
communications with Russia, while leaving a sufficient
garrison in Sebastopol ; the other was to bar the
harbour against his enemies' fleet. Therefore, con-
trary to the advice of his admiral, he caused seven
ships of war to be sunk across the entrance of the
harbour, in line with the forts, on the night of the 22d.
On the 23d our vessels in observation off the port per-
ceived that this had been done, and it was reported to
St Arnaud the same evening. Thus an attack would
now be made under very different conditions, for the
rest of the Russian Fleet, thus rendered secure against
attack, could still bring an exterminating fire to bear
on the north side. The proper person for Lord Raglan
to consult on the subject (if it was any longer matter
for consultation) was his chief engineer, Sir John
Buryoyne, who always denied that the proposition
was ever seriously entertained, or that Lord Raglan
had ever discussed it with him. And in support of
this it is to be remembered that, as has been already



7o Reasons against Attack of North Side.

said, the shore north of Sebastopol offered landing-places
but no harbours. The only point it afforded for the
disembarkation of supplies was the mouth of the
Katcha, open to every wind, and the communications
with which would have been liable to be intercepted at
any time by a Russian army in the field. Finally, sup-
posing all the success possible to be achieved, the Allies
in possession of the north side, and the ships in the
harbour by some miracle got rid of, it may be asked
what next ? How were we to compel the surrender of
the south side by means of our field-artillery, across an
interval of 1200 yards, against an enemy who, besides
the artillery in his great stone forts, could from an
inexhaustible arsenal line the whole southern shore,
as well as the Inkerman heights on our left flank, with
heavy guns ? It may safely be said that, after driving
the enemy off the north side, we should have found
ourselves in a position of greatly augmented difficulty.

It would not have been necessary to dwell upon this
but or the support afforded to the theory which
Todleben, the engineer who became so famous for his
defence of Sebastopol, has set forth in his ample, and
in most respects excellent, account of the siege. Un-
fortunately, not only his opinions but his facts are
frequently more than questionable, and he gives but too
much reason to infer that he exaggerated the insuffici-
ency of the means of resistance in order to exalt the
importance of his own splendid services in enabling
the garrison to make so memorable a defence.

For example, he desires to show that the Allies, upon



Todleberis Strange Contention. 71

reaching the Belbek, ought to have made an assault on the
north side. On the highest part of the ground there was
the Star Fort, with the trenches and batteries in extension
of it. To carry this by assault Todleben represents as an
easy matter. This fort was a permanent work of 700 yards
extent round the lines of fire ; it had escarps of masonry,
and a glacis, and was surrounded by a ditch twelve feet
deep and eighteen feet wide. It was armed with forty-
seven guns. The ground over which the assailants must
have advanced was swept by the broadsides of the
ships below. Is it possible that an engineer could have
looked on such a scheme as practicable ? But he says
the enemies' ships, approaching the shore, could batter
the fort almost with impunity. The impossibility of this
is best shown by the fact that, in the subsequent engage-
ment between the fleets and forts, one of the batteries on
the cliffs (100 feet high) of the north side disabled several
of our ships without receiving a shot in return, although
they made it the object of their fire, and that the Star
Fort is distant inland from this battery 1000 yards.
Thus, according to Todleben, the ships, while them-
selves under the fire of the coast batteries, which they
could not injure in return, were to bombard a fort
a thousand yards beyond these batteries, and which
would be invisible from the sea.

The second alternative suggested by Todleben is
that the Allies should have established a force on the
road to Bakshisarai, thus intercepting the communica-
tions between Russia and Sebastopol, which would, he
says, have brought the campaign to an end. Now the



72 Impolicy of moving Allies Inland.

nearest point at which the Allies could have touched the
Russian communications was Mackenzie's Farm. But
the heights there were waterless, therefore the intercept-
ing force could not have remained there ; it must have
gone farther, to the Upper Belbek. It would then have
been some seventeen miles from its base on the Katcha
one so precarious that a strong breeze from the wrong
quarter would render it useless. This long line of
supply must have been covered by the rest of the army,
throughout its length, from attacks which might be
directed on any part of it either by the garrison of
Sebastopol on the one side, or by MenschikofFs army
in the field on the other. The reduction of a fortress
by pressure of this kind must of course be slow in its
operation, and had the Allied commanders been reck-
less enough to put a force into such a position, it would
have been impossible to maintain it, under the stress
of such enterprises against their communications
and their line as the enemy showed himself capable
of undertaking shortly afterwards at Balaklava and
Inkerman.

On the afternoon of the 24th Lord Raglan visited
Marshal St Arnaud, and the arrangements for the flank
march were then agreed on. The French commander
sat rigidly in his chair during the interview, and his
manner and looks showed that his sickness was gain-
ing on him. On leaving the French camp, Lord
Raglan said to one of his staff, "Did you observe
St Arnaud? he is dying."* When the visit was
* Kinglake.



The Flank March begun. 75

repeated next morning, the Marshal was no longer
able to take part in discussion.

On the morning of the 25th the heavy cavalry, a troop
of horse-artillery, and a battalion of rifles, were sent as an
advanced guard on the road through the woods leading to
Mackenzie's Farm. Towards noon the march of the main
body began. Four field batteries advanced up one of the
roads leading to Sebastopol. Outside a small house by
the roadside Lord Raglan and General Airey were seated
with a map before them, and Lord Raglan himself indi-
cated to the officer at the head of the column the direc-
tion in which it was to strike through the wood on the
left of the road, and called out to him to go " south-east."
Thereupon the guns, with their waggons and carriages,
in long procession, plunged into the narrow woodpath,
the wheels crashing through the coppice, and steering by
the sun when there was a divergence of ways, kept the
main path for about an hour, passing as they went some
of the heavy cavalry, small bodies of which were drawn
up on their right, on the edge of the heights that looked
down on Sebastopol. Their further progress was stopped
by the troop of horse-artillery which was halted in the
path in front. The cavalry and rifles, either by accident
or design, had diverged to the right, and the troop thus
found itself leading the advance of the army in ground
where it could do nothing effectual for its own defence,
and was devoid of all proper protection or support. Pre-
sently Lord Raglan rode up with his staff, demanding
sharply why the troop had halted, and ordered it imme-
diately to proceed, himself leading the way. The march



76 Rencontre with Menschikoff' s Rear.

was continued in this extraordinary manner, the head-
quarter staff first, then thirty guns in long procession,
through a thick wood, and moving round an enemy's
fortress and army. What this might have portended
was presently made evident, for in an open space Lord
Raglan came suddenly on a Russian column moving at
right angles to his own course.

This singular rencontre had come about in this
way : Menschikoff, after sinking his ships, and making
arrangements for the defence of the fortress, had left
Sebastopol that morning, with the army which had
fought on the Alma, in pursuance of his design of keep-
ing open his communications with Russia by means of
holding a position in the open country. The high-
road from Sebastopol to Bakshisarai, after ascending
steeply from the valley of the Tchernaya, crosses the
end of the plateau on which the English were moving
at the open space on which stand the buildings and
fields of Mackenzie's Farm, before again descending to
the plain on the way northward towards the Upper
Belbek. He had begun his movement before dawn
on the 25th, and the halt we made in the wood had
enabled his army to pass by, except some of the baggage
and its escort. Prince Menschikoff, with the leading
troops, had at this time reached the village of Otarkoi
on the Belbek, and thought so little of keeping himself
informed of what might be passing near his army (being
probably altogether intent on transporting it unobserved
into its new positions), that he remained for several days
in the belief that the irruption on his rear had been



The English reach the TcJiernaya. 77

made only by a patrol. Some of his baggage train was
captured, but many of the vehicles hurried off, on the
one side towards Bakshisarai, on the other towards
Sebastopol. We had been absolutely unaware of this
march of an army across our front till we stumbled on
it; while MenschikofT remained in such complete igno-
rance that the Allied Army was defiling within four or
five miles of him, that even on the 28th a messenger
from him arrived in Sebastopol, part of whose errand
was to get news of the movements and position of the
enemy.

The English forces gradually assembled on the
ground around the farm, and then resumed their march,
descending to the Traktir Bridge, where the road to
Balaklava crosses the Tchernaya. There, on the banks
of the stream, the leading troops bivouacked after night-
fall, while the rear divisions and batteries did not arrive
till some hours afterwards. Looking back to the heights
we had quitted, the glare in the sky showed that
our allies, following in our steps, were bivouacking
there.

Cathcart had been left with his division on the Belbek
to send the sick to the embarking place on the Katcha,
and to cover the march of the armies. A messenger
sent by him succeeded in reaching the British head-
quarters, and returned with news of the progress of the
movement, which Cathcart sent on to the Katcha ; and
Lyons despatched a naval officer, who also managed to
reach Lord Raglan, and to return with a message to the
Admiral. Thus the fleet was prepared to co-operate



78 First View of Balaklava.

next day in the seizure of the port of Balaklava, On
the 26th Cathcart followed the march of the armies, and
arrived unmolested on the Tchernaya.

This same day, the 26th, the British resumed their
march, crossing the valley of the Tchernaya towards the
low hills which separated it from that of Balaklava. It
was, perhaps, partly in consequence of the long, fatiguing
march of the day before that men seized with cholera
began to strew the roadside directly the advance began.
Troops moving on the enclosing hills right and left of
the valley protected the flanks of the main column, and
some guns which accompanied them opened fire, while
other and heavier shots were heard from the sea. On
passing the ridge which divided the valleys right athwart
our path, we looked down on the object of the whole
movement, and very insignificant it seemed. At the
end of a piece of richly cultivated garden ground was
seen a pool lying deep between enclosing cliffs, which
were crowned by walls and towers. From thence there
presently came a shell travelling towards us at a height
which showed it had been fired from a mortar. At the
same time some companies of our rifles running along the
hills on the left of the lake clambered over the walls,


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Online LibraryEdward Bruce HamleyThe war in the Crimea → online text (page 5 of 20)