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along which the garrison was seen to run, and from
whence they presently made signs of surrender. There-
upon a small English steamer appeared suddenly in the
piece of water below, assuring us that the harbour was
our own, and the communication with the fleet re-
established. On this occasion four shots only were
fired by the garrison (composed of militia of the place),



Question of Bases for the Two Armies. 79

and their commander, in excusing himself for provoking
an assault by firing at all, said he thought he was bound
to do so until summoned to surrender. Nobody was
wounded on either side. But the following account
appears in Todleben's official narrative : " The enemy
opened against Balaklava a powerful cannonade. Twenty
ships approached . the coast and bombarded the old
ruins. The mortars, however, only ceased fire after
having exhausted their ammunition. This imperceptible
garrison had defended itself even to the last extremity.
There remained only Colonel Minto, six officers, and
sixty soldiers, all wounded in many places." What are
thus described as having " remained " were all that had
been in the place the account belongs altogether to
the regions of fiction.

This day the French Army crossed the Tchernaya
and bivouacked on the Fedukhine heights.

A question entailing momentous consequences now
arose. It was whether the English or the French should
occupy as a base the harbour of Balaklava. Hitherto
on the mere evidence of the map, it had been counted
on as available for both armies, but now that it lay
before their eyes, a mere pool, already crowded, with
one straggling row of poor houses for a street, it was
seen that it would not bear division. The French had
a strong ground of contention on their side, for the right
of the Allied line had hitherto been conceded to them,
and whoever took the right now must hold Balaklava.
General Canrobert, who had succeeded Marshal St
Arnaud in the command, took a course very considerate



8o Lord Raglan chooses Balaklava.

towards us. Seeing that we were already in possession,
and that it would be difficult in many ways for us to
move out, he gave Lord Raglan his choice whether to
keep the left of the line, and give Balaklava to the
French, or to take the right and keep that harbour.
Admiral Lyons counselled strongly for keeping Bala-
klava, as the place best adapted for securing a due
communication between the army and its base on the
sea. It was an occasion which a Greek poet would
have represented, after the event, as one in which the
chooser, blinded by some angry god, had made choice
of calamity. Lord Raglan took the right, and Balak-
lava, and with them brought untold miseries on his
army.

We have now reached the point in the drama where
the main action begins to which all that had passed was
merely'preliminary. The armies thenceforward assumed
that position towards the enemy which they were to
keep up to the final act of the war. Above them
stood the broad Upland of the Chersonese, on which
for nearly a year their lives were to be passed, and
for the most part ended, and to which, after a time,
they were chained by necessity until their task should
be accomplished. It becomes necessary, therefore, to
describe the conditions in which the forces opposed
were operating.

The outer harbour or roadstead of Sebastopol is
a creek about four miles long from the point where it
breaks, nearly at right angles, the coast line to its
extremity where the Tchernaya flows into it. It main-



Features of the South Side. 81

tains a great depth throughout, even close to the shore.
On the points which mark the entrance stood two stone
forts, that on the north named Constantine, on the south
Alexander. Outside Alexander, looking out to sea
was the Quarantine Fort. After entering the roadstead,
the Artillery Fort was passed on the south ; and about
a mile from the entrance the Inner or Man-of-War
harbour ran for a mile and a half into the southern
shore. On the two points which marked this inlet stood
two other forts, Nicholas and Paul. On the western
shore of this inner creek stood the city of Sebastopol ;
on its eastern shore, indented by the inlet on which the
dockyards were built, was the Karabelnaia suburb, where
stood the extensive barracks for the garrison. Nearly
half way between this inner harbour and the head of the
roadstead was another much smaller inlet, the Careenage
Creek.

The ground south of the roadstead was marked
by very singular features. The plateau or plain, the
ancient Chersonese (which, following Kinglake's more
descriptive phraseology, will in future be called the
Upland), where the Allied Armies stood was marked off
from the valley of the Tchernaya by a wall of cliff,
which, following up that stream southward for about
a mile from its mouth, turns round south-west and
defines the valley of Balaklava, passing about a mile
north of that place, and joining the sea-cliffs. This
plateau is channelled by many chasms or ravines,
which, beginning with slight depressions in its midst
descend between rocky walls to the shore, and



82 Positions of the Allies.

between these rose elevated points, lying all round the
town and suburb, which, crowned by such works as
the Malakoff, the Redan, the Flagstaff Bastion, and
others, afterwards acquired each a fame of its own.
Another feature of first-rate importance was the con-
formation of the coast line at Cape Cherson, where the
northern side of its angle was indented by twin inlets,
Kazatch and Kamiesch Bays, having a common entrance,
which throughout the siege constituted the French base,
being most conveniently adapted for the purpose ; a
road, paved afterwards by the French, and thus placed
beyond the vicissitudes of weather, passed from these
creeks along the rear of their Divisions as they faced
Sebastopol.

The largest of the ravines, dividing the plain from
south to north, descends to the head of the inner harbour.
It was at first the line of separation between the French
and English. Two French Divisions, under General
Forey, the Third and Fourth, forming the siege corps,
encamped between it and the coast. Kamiesch Bay
was immediately filled with their shipping, whose masts
looked like a forest ; and a wharf was made for landing
the multitude of stores which crowded the beach and
the environs of a small city of tents. The First and
Second French Divisions, and some battalions of Turks,
under General Bosquet, were posted on the eastern and
south-eastern cliffs of the Upland, to cover the siege
against an attack from the Russian field army.

On the right of the great ravine were the Third and
Fourth English Divisions ; beyond them the Light Divi-



Allied Outposts before Balaklava. 83

sion rested its right on the ravine descending to the
Careenage Creek ; on the other side of which, near the
eastern edge of the Upland, was posted the second Divi-
sion, looking towards the heights of Inkerman, and
some hundred yards in rear of it the First Division was
encamped, its right also near the edge of the Upland ;
and both these were available for mutual co-operation
with Bosquet, while, unlike his force, they sent their
quota of men to the trenches.

Bosquet set about fortifying the edge of the heights
on which he stood ; * and, so far as the position on the
Upland was concerned, the armies there were for the
present (that is to say, while their force held its present
relation to that of the garrison of Sebastopol and Mens-
chikofFs field army) sufficiently secure. But there were
two vulnerable points in our line ; that with which we
will first deal was caused by the need to cover Balaklava.
About 4000 yards from that place a row of heights
crossed the valley, low on the side of the Upland, but
rising into higher and sharper hills towards the heights
of Kamara. On these, slight works were constructed,
armed with iron twelve-pounders, and garrisoned by
Turks. The 93d Highlanders (left there by the First
Division) were encamped between these heights and
Balaklava ; a thousand marines were landed and placed
on the hills to our right of the harbour, on the heights
before which places were found for guns brought from
the ships ; and in the valley below the cliffs of the Up-
land, and on the left front of the Highlanders, were the

* Map 3.



84 Balaklava a Vulnerable Point.

camps of the two brigades of cavalry. A point of
special importance was that the one metalled road, the
Woronzoff road, which ascended the cliff of the Up-
land, and wended thence to the town of Sebastopol,
lay, as it crossed the valley of Balaklava, between and
along the hills occupied by the Turks. The road con-
tinued on to Yalta, the Woronzoff country house and
estate on the south-eastern shore of the Crimea ; an-
other branching from it crossed the Tchernaya, and went
on up the Mackenzie heights to Bakshisarai. The
Russians could approach Balaklava quite out of range
of the guns and troops on the Chersonese ; thus the
Allies must be drawn from their heights down to the
valley in case of an advance of the enemy in that direc-
tion. Therefore, the valley of Balaklava was a vulnerable
point, and, if possible, should have been made strong
enough to secure the Woronzoff road throughout its
extent from Balaklava to the plateau.

The Russians in Sebastopol now knew exactly what
they had to face, and were at least delivered from the
perplexities which had at first beset them.

The tidings of defeat on the Alma reached
Sebastopol about ten or eleven at night on the 2Oth,
when Menschikoff arrived in the fortress. The Prince
gave orders to Admiral Korniloff to bar the entrance to
the harbour by sinking some of the war-ships. Next
morning the Admiral summoned his naval captains,
and after telling them of Menschikoff's design, put it
to them whether his own proposal would not be prefer-
able, which was to put to sea and, by attacking the



Todleeris View of the Situation. 85

Allied Fleet and flotilla, deprive the enemy of their
means of subsistence. The council did not concur
with him, believing that the time for such an enter-
prise had gone by, and preferring to bar the harbour
by sinking the ships. The same afternoon those which
were to be sunk were moved into their places.

During the 2ist, MenschikofT's troops from the
Alma, after reaching the north side, were transported
across the harbour, in accordance with his determina-
tion to move his army into the open country, and
bivouacked in a field outside the town.

During this day Colonel Todleben was occupied in
considering how to meet the attack which he says was
expected on the north side. As we have seen, he took
a view of the prospect which was entirely unreasonable.
He considered the case of 60,000 men, protected from
the assault of an equal number by fortifications and
heavy artillery, as absolutely desperate. In his book he
blames the other 60,000 for not sweeping them off the
face of the earth. He communicated his forebodings
to Admiral Korniloff, who took command on that side on
the 24th, and who made preparations to defend the Star
Fort and the adjacent ground in a spirit of absolute
despair. But on the 25th the march of the Allied
Armies along the Mackenzie heights was discerned from
the Naval Library, which occupied a very lofty position
in the city. Thereupon all doubt was at an end, the
garrison was concentrated on the south side, and the
preparation for the long struggle began.

The strength of the garrison was thus : six militia



86 Strength of the Garrison of Sebastopol.

battalions, 4500 ; gunners at the coast batteries, 2700
marines, 2600; seamen of the fleet, 18,500; workmen,
5000; the Taroutine battalion of MenschikofFs army
left in the town, 750 ; marine battalions landed from the
fleet, 1800 total 35,850 men. The Russian sailors
were habitually drilled and organised as soldiers in
addition to their proper duties, in consideration that
(as now happened) the fleets might easily be shut in
by a powerful enemy. These men were therefore ex-
cellent for their purpose, and could also supply an
immense number of trained gunners for the heavy
artillery which armed the works. The workmen also,
being in Government employ, had received military
training, and a very large proportion of the whole force
was particularly valuable, far more so than ordinary
troops, for constructing works, for handling. the machines
used in moving and mounting heavy guns, in fact, for
the business of creating a fortress.

Lieut-Colonel Todleben, henceforth the inspiring
genius of the defence, was thirty-six years old, in the
fullest vigour of body and mind. Educated at the
military college at St Petersburg, he had been trained
and commissioned as an engineer. He had just been
employed in the siege of Silistria, and when that was
abandoned, had been sent to Sebastopol, strongly re-
commended to Menschikoff. Placed at first on the
general staff, he had begun to act as chief engineer
when the invasion was imminent. On the 1/j.th Sep-
tember he had added the earthworks already men-
tioned to the Star Fort, and, a few days later, took



An Assault desperate without Siege G^lns. 89

charge of the defences of the South Side. These had
been traced, and partially executed, years before. Loop-
holed walls of stone and earthen batteries formed a
continuous line round the town itself, from the sea to
the great ravine, and these he had begun to strengthen.
On the other section of the line, extending from the
great ravine to the harbour, he had raised extensive
batteries on the sites of the Redan, the Little Redan,
and the Bastion No. i, close to Careenage Bay. The
Malakoff Tower was semi-circular, of stone, five feet
thick, fifty feet in diameter, twenty-eight feet high,
prepared for musketry, and having five guns on the
top ; it was covered at the foot by a slope of earth,
but was not yet surrounded with works. These con-
stituted, on the 26th September, very formidable de-
fences against an assault, and were daily growing
stronger. The whole line was armed, by that date,
with 172 pieces of ordnance, many very heavy, and in
great part overwhelmingly superior to field-artillery.

The reader has now before him the means of deter-
mining the question whether the Allies were wrong in
not at once proceeding to assault the place. It is said
that Sir George Cathcart strongly advised it, though
it appears that his opinion was formed on too in-
complete a view of the enemy's works, and was greatly
modified afterwards. What is more surprising is that
Todleben is found to maintain, in his official narrative,
that Sebastopol could not have been defended against
an assault in the last days of September. It must be
remembered that part only of the Allied Army could



9O Todlebcn s View accounted for.

have been available for the purpose. MenschikofPs army,
of unknown strength, might have been within six miles
of us, for, as we had no troops beyond the Tchernaya it
was impossible to know what might be passing in
the wooded heights on its further bank. Therefore
Bosquet's two divisions and the Turks must remain as a
covering force, and even our First and Second Divisions
could only have been taken from the same duty at great
risk, to say nothing of the necessity of protecting Bala-
klava. Thus the assaulting forces would be actually fewer
in number than the defenders ; moreover, it would have
been extremely difficult to have supported the attack
with artillery, since our field-guns in the open must have
been at once crushed by the heavy and long-reaching
artillery in the works, while endeavouring to get within
their own more limited range. Thus the two French
and three English Divisions must have advanced
unsupported for 2000 yards, under the fire of the
numerous and powerful artillery already described, to
attack works defended by forces equal to their own.
Their first object must have been limited to seizing these
works, and occupying the ground on which they stood,
for to advance down the slopes towards the harbour
would have been impossible under the broadsides of the
Russian ships. Heavy guns must have been brought
up and placed in battery to disable the ships before
anything further could have been attempted. And, at
any stage of these operations, a repulse, which could
only have taken place after heavy losses, would have
entailed tremendous consequences. Nevertheless, this







^f^^aJi^L-



Noncombatants leave Sebastopol. 91

singularly able engineer represents both himself and
Admiral Korniloff as addressing themselves to the
business of defence in a spirit of despair. They did
all that skill and energy could do, but without the
hope of being able to resist the expected attack. And
in his official narrative, written long afterwards, he still
maintains that an assault must have succeeded ; but
in supporting the opinion, he represents the garrison
(the numbers of which, as stated by himself elsewhere,
have just been given) as only 16,000, while he estimates
the forces which the Allies could assail them with at
40,000. These miscalculations do not diminish the
difficulty of understanding how so accomplished an
officer could risk his own repute by persisting in giving
expression to conclusions so opposed by facts.

After the commanding engineers and artillery officers,
French and English, had made a reconnaissance of the
Russian works, it was deemed indispensable to en-
deavour, before proceeding to assault, to silence the
Russian artillery with the guns of our siege trains, and
the disembarkation of these at the two ports began on
the 28th.

On the 2d October, at daybreak, a long train of
carriages, escorted by troops, was seen ascending the
heights bordering the Belbek. It conveyed the civil
inhabitants of Sebastopol, their families, and their
goods ; under cover of night they had passed along the
southern side of the harbour, and crossed the bridge
and causeway of the Tchernaya. Thus the garrison,
freed from all encumbrance, and from the task of feed-



92 Noncombatants leave Sevastopol.

ing all these noncombatants, was now reduced to a large
compact body of defenders, regular troops, sailors, and
marines, and workmen necessary for the business of
the siege, and was thus, in all respects, ,in the best
possible condition for beginning the struggle which
Todleben, disturbed by no anxieties from within the
fortress, could now enter upon with the whole force of
his rare ability. Every day saw additional strength
bestowed on the works, the labour on which never
ceased day or night. The Central and Flagstaff
Bastions were heightened and thickened, and a new
work placed between them, and new batteries above
the inner harbour looked up the great ravine and its
branches. The Redan received the additions of the
formidable Barrack Battery between it and the inner
harbour, and of another battery on its other flank. The
Malakoff Tower was surrounded with a bastion, from
which extended batteries on each side, and a continu-
ous line of trench connected it with the works between
it and the harbour. All this was effected by the time
of the attack. These works were armed as fast as
made with heavy artillery, Also a ship of eighty-four
guns, moored at the head of the inner harbour, bore
on the mouths of the ravines which issued there.



CHAPTER V.

BEGINNING OF THE SIEGE.

Sir John Burgoyne Our First Siege Batteries Chapman's and Gordon's
The First French Batteries Co-operation of the Fleets demanded
The Fleets to join in the Cannonade Ships versus Forts Risk
to no Purpose Positions of the Fleets The Cannonade begins
French Fire silenced English Fire successful Losses on both Sides
Action of the Fleets English Batteries still efficient.

ALL this time the weather had been of the kind called
in America the Indian summer clear, still, and bright,
but not sultry, with cool nights. War had as yet shown
us none of its uglier features ; except for the cholera,
the armies were sanguine and cheerful, and the work
of preparing for the cannonade was carried on in good
spirits. Everywhere the soil of the Upland was
firm and fairly even, and vehicles could find plenty of
space to move on free from impediment.

The officer upon whom the conduct of the siege
operations of the English fell, and who, as we have
seen, had already been called on to advise in more than
one important crisis, was Sir John Burgoyne. He was
the oldest officer in the Crimea, born in 1782. He was
the son of the General Burgoyne known in history as
the commander who surrendered at Saratoga, and in
dramatic annals as the author of the comedy of The



94 Sir John Burgoyne.

Heiress. In the first years of the century the son had
served in many climes ; afterwards was with Sir John
Moore at Corunna ; at the passage of the Douro; helped
to construct the lines of Torres Vedras ; at the sieges and
assaults of Badajos and Ciudad Rodrigo ; wounded at
Burgos and at St Sebastian ; present at most of the
great battles in the Peninsula ; and finally at New
Orleans. His mind was of the sedate, deliberative order,
keeping a strong hold of facts and principles, and most
unlikely to be swayed by the sudden impulses of those
around him. As an engineer he had a sound judgment,
ripened in an uncommon degree by thought and his
large experience. He was entirely and, as preceding
pages have endeavoured to show, rightly, in favour of
employing our siege trains before attempting to assault,
and he also believed that their effect would be such as
to render an assault possible. Although so advanced in
years, his capacity for military service was hardly im-
paired. The statue in Waterloo Place is an excellent
likeness, though one peculiarity, an upstanding and
disordered fell of hair, could perhaps hardly be ex-
pressed in bronze. The conditions of the task that lay
before him will now be briefly described.

One who approaches from the south the hollow in
which lies the harbour of Sebastopol, finds the ground
rising to heights that form an outer line to those on
which stood the Russian works. Between these two
lines was an interval of about two miles. From our
side the slopes descended for more than half way,
and then rose again to the opposing ridges. These



Our First Siege Batteries. 95

slopes were cut into longitudinal slips by the ravines
which descend from the plateau to the basin in which
lies the great harbour. It has been said that the
largest of these divides the Upland, descending to
the head of the inner harbour. To our right of it is
another, which came to be known as the Valley of the
Shadow of Death, running into the great ravine 1400
yards from its end ; and it was near this point of junction
that the left of our earthworks rested on the chasm. At
an 'average distance of 500 yards to the right of these
combined ravines another cuts the plain, ending, like
them, at the head of the inner harbour ; in this lies the
Woronzoff road as it enters Sebastopol. It was across
the strip of plain, called by us Green Hill, between the
great ravine and that of the Woronzoff road, that part of
our first batteries, with their connecting line of trench
were constructed, known, from the engineer in charge of
the works, as Chapman's . Battery, and later as the first
parallel of the Left Attack. The system of fortification
which had been created by the science of Louis XIV.'s
engineers had, with some modifications, endured down
to this time. It was based on the range of artillery and
musketry, and the rules prescribed that the first parallel,
with its batteries, should be traced at 600 yards from
the enemy's works. Chapman's Battery was at a much
greater distance, and for this reason : The ground slop-
ing constantly downward, was more and more com-
manded by the guns on the opposing heights, therefore
the parapets must needs be higher in proportion as the
works descended the hill. The ground here was stony,



96 Chapman s and Gordoris.

and a rocky substratum lay very near the surface ; hence
the labour of trenching was very severe, rendering the
construction of high parapets extremely difficult, and
advantage was therefore taken of a terrace on the face
of the slope to place the battery at 1300 to 1400 yards
from the Redan. But the distance was of the less con-
sequence, as our siege-guns were far more powerful than
those of an earlier day, and the old rules could not
therefore be now considered as applicable. Another
cause of difficulty, affecting the English, but scarcely
the French, was the power which the Russians possessed
of placing guns in position, in the ground between our


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Online LibraryEdward Bruce HamleyThe war in the Crimea → online text (page 6 of 20)