Samuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) Smucker.

The life and reign of Nicholas the First, emperor of Russia online

. (page 17 of 23)
Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) SmuckerThe life and reign of Nicholas the First, emperor of Russia → online text (page 17 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


was severely wounded ; Schilders had both his legs



OP NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 811

shattered; and Luders lost a jaw bone. Thirty
thousand Russian soldiers had perished before the
walls of Silistria, and on the day of that grand as-
sault. The siege was immediately raised, and the
remnant of the discomfited army withdrew toward
Foktchani.

The triumphant Turks, on their side, lost several
thousand men in killed and wounded; but their
greatest misfortune was in the death of Moussa
Pacha, the heroic commander of the fortress. Dur-
ing the height of the conflict, he was struck on the
head by a cannon shot, and expired instantly.

It is said, that when Nicholas received informa-
tion of the defeat of his army in this attack on
Silistria, he gave way to the most furious paroxysms
of rage. Nor could the great age of Paskiewitch, his
long services, and his brilliant victories in former
times, save him from the biting reproofs, and the
ill-concealed displeasure, of the baffled czar. He
requested permission to retire from the service ; and
that permisssion was sullenly granted to him by
Nicholas, without a word of compliment or regret.



312 THE LIFE AN 7 D REIGN



CHAPTER XXIV.

DEPARTURE OF THE ALLIES FEOM VARNA LANDING AT OLD FORT

PLANS OF THE CAMPAIGN SEVASTOPOL BATTLE OF THE ALMA

PREPARATIONS OF THE RUSSIANS TREMENDOUS STRUGGLES BETWEEN

THE COMBATANTS DECISIVE VICTORY OF THE ALLIES RETREAT

OF THE RUSSIANS CONSEQUENCES OF THE BATTLE THE ADVANCE

TOWARD SEVASTOPOL BATTLE OF BALAKLAVA.

THE allied army still remained in their quarters
at Yarna, during the progress of the siege of Silis-
tria. The failure of the Russian commanders to
take that important fortress completely changed the
plans of the campaign. The question now for the
allied commanders to determine, was how their
forces could be most usefully employed.

Several projects were proposed; but the resolu-
tion was finally adopted, that the most efficient and
destructive blow to the power of the czar, would be
inflicted by marching directly into the Russian pro-
vince of the Crimea, and laying siege to Sevastopol,
the largest, the most formidable, and the most valu-
ble fortress in the Russian Empire, perhaps even in
the world. The allied armies accordingly broke up
their quarters at Varna, and on the 7th of Septem-



T;'*







OF NICHOLAS THE FIP.ST. 313

bcr, 1854, a vast fleet, consisting altogether of 400
vessels, set sail for the Crimea, with the English
and French troops on board.

On the morning of the llth of September, the
fleet hove in sight of the low coast of that clime,
which was so soon to be rendered memorable by one
of the most remarkable sieges in history. About
eight miles from Eupatoria, the ships cast anchor in
the bay of Kalamita, near a place known by the
name of "Old Fort." It seemed a deserted coast,
barren and uninhabited. The only signs of life
\vhich greeted the view of the voyagers, were a
mounted Russian officer attended by several wild
Cossacks, on the look-out ; who disappeared in the
distance as soon as they were observed. The living
freight of the vessels was entirely discharged by the
14th of September; and by the 16th the entire
force of the allies was under arms, in the land
which they were about to immortalize by their
heroism.

The allied armies immediately commenced their
march across the peninsula toward Sevastopol ; and
on the 20th of September they approached the small
river Alma, which rises in the mountains on the
eastern part of the peninsula, and falls into the sea
about twelve miles to the north of Sevastopol. It
was on the precipitous shores of this obscure stream,

27



314



THE LIFE AND REIGN



that the first great battle in the Crimea was destined
to take place.

On the eminences on the opposite side of the
Alma, the Russians had erected a long line of en-
trenchments, with enormous batteries. The summit
of the hills was occupied by large masses of infantry,
various batteries had been erected at different points
on the flank of the advancing troops, and along the
tops of the cliffs which overhung the sea. The
Russians had destroyed the bridge across the river,
and had set fire to the village of Burliuk, on the
southern bank, in order to prevent it from being
made a cover to their troops by the allies.

Thus were the Russians posted, in strong numbers,
and in admirably defended positions, to dispute the
farther advance of the allies toward Sevastopol.
The latter immediately discovered the necessity of a
battle, as well as of a victory ; and though the Russian
general had vastly the advantage of position, they
determined to advance at once to the attack. Prince
Menschikoff commanded, on that day, 54,000 troops,
together with a formidable array of artillery. It was
natural that he should anticipate a decisive victory.
The allied armies numbered about 60,000 men ; and
the first sight of the Russians strongly entrenched
on the opposite side of the river, and sternly await-
ing their attack, must have been a scene in the



OF NICHOLAS THE FiKST. 315

highest degree inspiriting. Nor was the moment
without grave anxiety for the invading forces. If
they failed in gaining the opposite heights, and,
with them, the victory, it would be a disaster preg-
nant with presages of coming ruin. Their march to
Sevastopol would be prevented. Their retreat to their
ships would become as inevitable, as it would be
ignominious ; victory alone, which must evidently be
won by great sacrifices, and by heroic valour, could
save them from utter ruin, and insure the future.

According to the plan of attack adopted by the
allied generals, the French troops on the right of
their line, were to cross the Alma first, and, scaling
the precipitous heights on the opposite bank, attack
the Russian left. They did so. The Zouaves, accus-
tomed to the desultory warfare of Africa, succeeded
in reaching the tops of the cliffs and forming into
line, notwithstanding the torrent of musketry poured
upon them by the Russian sharp-shooters. Next, the
division of General Bosquet succeeded in reaching
the elevated plateau. A furious conflict ensued
between the Russian and French troops. The issue
was so doubtful, that Marshal St. Arnaud sent to
the English commander, beseeching him to bring
his own troops into action.

At half-past one the English regiments began to
move. They dashed into the stream, in the midst



316 THE LIFE AND REIGN

of a shower of rifle balls, and artillery from the
opposite heights. Having reached the shore, they
formed, and advanced to the attack. Menschikoff
still remained in the centre of his position, and his
troops had yet been unengaged. He directed a
tremendous fire of musketry and artillery upon the
English, as they toilfully ascended the heights.
The enormous weight of the Russian columns, to-
gether with the terrible havoc made in their ranks,
by the artillery which, from the heights above,
ploughed through and through them, leaving long
lanes of dead and dying, compelled the English
slowly to yield; until fortunately at this moment,
the gallant thirty-third regiment, the Duke of Wel-
lington's favourite, reached the spot occupied by the
wavering lines, and led them back again to victory.
Regiment after regiment of the allies charged
furiously up the heights ; and conflict after conflict,
successively ended, after prodigious exertions, in the
triumph of the allies. At times the efforts of the
Russians seemed to render the final issue of the
conflict doubtful. In one instance the regiments
of Royal and Welsh Fusiliers, crushed by the im-
mense impetus of the Russian charge, were in full
retreat down the heights. At that moment the
Guards and Highlanders, under the command of the
Duke of Cambridge, were ascending the heights



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 317

and met their retreating comrades. The Scotch
Guards opened their ranks to permit the fugitives to
pass through them, and to reform in the rear. They
then charged in front against the pursuing Russians
with prodigious fury. The vigorous and powerful
sons of the North, giants in strength by the side of
their pigmy foes, hewed them down with tremendous
onslaught ; and forced them, after a desperate hand-to-
hand conflict, to retreat precipitately to their works.
At length, after many feats of valour and heroism
on both sides, the whole line of the allies reached
the redoubts which stretched along the summit of
the heights. The Russians then no longer at-
tempted to defend them. They fled precipitately;
and the allies directed their own guns against the
retreating multitude, as they pursued their dis-
orderly way, down the opposite slopes of the hills,
toward Sevastopol. The victory of the allies was
complete; and had they, at that decisive moment,
continued the pursuit to the gates of Sevastopol, it
is not improbable, that that fortress would have sur-
rendered at discretion. It was afterward ascer-
tained, that the city had been in a great measure
emptied of its troops, to swell the force upon the
memorable and blood-stained heights of the Alma.
The Russians lost 2000 dead, 2700 wounded on the
field. The allies lost 600 killed, 2600 wounded.

27*



THE LIFE AND REIGN

Such was the termination of the first great pitched
battle between these powerful combatants in the
Crimea; a battle which, while every advantage of
position and of preparation was on the Bide of the
Russians, resulted in the signal defeat of the troops
of the czar, and in the additional mortification
and indignation which that defeat inflicted on his
proud spirit. He had laid out his utmost available
strength, to prevent the farther advance of the in-
vaders into the Crimea, and to hurl them back again
into the sea; and he had utterly failed. His own
troops had' been compelled to fly, leaving the foe to
exult in the magnitude of his victory. To a man of
the haughty temper of the czar, this repulse must
have been galling beyond expression; yet he, who
had proffered the poisoned chalice of despair and
misery, to the lips of so many myriads of his fellow-
creatures, was destined, in the wise decrees of Provi-
dence, to drink still deeper, more bitter, and more
deadly, draughts, of the same cup, ere death would
release him from the wretched position, into which
his insatiable and unprincipled ambition had en-
ticed him.

It was a matter of very great importance to the
allies to have uninterrupted communication with
their fleets, so that the siege trains, ammunition, and
provisions could be safely landed, and conveyed



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 819

to tlie camp before Sevastopol with certainty and
ease.

For this purpose the port of Balaklava was chosen.
This is a small town situated on the eastern side of
a small harbour, defended at the entrance by lofty
cliffs. On one of these there was an ancient tower,
of small dimensions, which had been erected ages
since by the Genoese, at the period when that great
maritime republic held possession of this peninsula.
Accordingly the armies were ordered to march
toward Balaklava, and word was sent to the fleets
to heave anchor and enter that port. On the first
day of the march, the French and English reached
the heights known as Mackenzie's Farm, so called
from its Tartar name, Khutor Mackenzia. This was
a storehouse, with plantations of timber for the use
of the Russian navy. On the morrow the armies
approached Balaklava. The fleets had entered the
harbour, and immediately the town became filled
with an immense and motley multitude, assisting in
the work of unloading the ammunition and the pro-
visions for the allied troops.

Having arranged these important preliminaries,
the French and English proceeded to take their per-
manent positions before Sevastopol, and immediately
began the erection of batteries and earthworks. A
six-gun battery commanded the head of the harbour



320 THE LIFE AND KEIGN

of Sevastapol. An immense Lancaster gun, and
two 84 pounders, were brought to bear on the White
Tower. The great Crown Battery, carrying 26 guns
of heavy calibre, was placed in front of the Redan.
The French extended their works of attack to the
Quarantine Bay. Lord Raglan's head-quarters were
established at a farm-house about half-way between
Balaklava and the trenches. Solid earthworks were
then commenced, along the whole line of frontage,
under the continual attack of the artillery of the
immense garrison of Sevastopol. By the 16th of
October, 1854, the armies may be said to have com-
menced, in good earnest, the severe, yet disciplined
labours of the siege; for early in the morning of
that day, a loud booming of the Lancaster gun,
announced to the garrison, by its solemn ominous
sound, that the great struggle had at length begun.

It was a matter of very great importance to the
Russians to intercept, if possible, the connection
between the camp of the allies and the post of
Balaklava, from which all their supplies were con-
tinually and necessarily derived. Accordingly, a
great struggle was determined on by Prince Men-
schikoff, for the purpose of accomplishing this end ;
and on the 25th of October was fought the despe-
rate battle of Balaklava.

Early in the morning immense masses of Rus-



OF NICHOLAS TIIE FIRST. 321

si an cavalry, supported by large detachments of
infantry and artillery, issued from the gates of
Sevastopol, and reaching the heights on which the
redoubts of the Turks had been built as outposts
of the camp, attacked them with great fury. The
Turks very soon fled, first from one redoubt, then
from the next, then from the third; until four
redoubts were successively won by the advancing
Russians without much conflict or opposition.
The retreating Moslems fled in dismay down the
hill-side toward Balaklava. The regiments of
Highlanders had been rapidly drawn out in line
in the rear of the attacked redoubts, by the
prompt action of the Duke of Cambridge ; and as
the tumultuous mob of flying Osmanli ap-
proached their ranks, the latter opened, and per-
mitted them to pass through, for the purpose of
forming again in their rear.

The unworthy sons of the Prophet being thus
disposed of, the dauntless Highlanders closed, and
awaited the approach of the Russian cavalry,
which now came thundering on. Squadron after
squadron of whiskered and hairy hussars ap-
peared in sight, rapidly approaching the long lines
of Scotch riflemen; who, dressed in the national
costume, awaited in silence, and with the firm-
ness of adamant, the approach of the foe, two



322 THE LIFE AND REIGN

thousand of whom now were nearly within range
of their deadly Minie rifles. It was a sublime
spectacle, yet one of intense interest, and of incal-
culable importance. The English and French
generals, with their brilliant staffs, anxiously sur-
veyed the scene from the summit of a hill, over-
looking the valley of the Balaklava. From the
nature of the ground, more troops could not, at
that moment, be brought into action ; and the
glory and the issue of the day depended entirely
on the heroism and steadiness of the Scotch.

At length, the Russian squadrons arrived within
range of the riflemen. The very ground shook
beneath their heavy tread. Yet the long, double
line of the Highlanders seemed to stand unmoved,
like inanimate statues. Now several hundred
yards alone separated the combatants. The com-
mander of the Highlanders then gave a sharp,
quick order. Instantly the long glittering lines of
steel ascended to the shoulder, with the regularity
and precision of some admirably-contrived ma-
chinery. Another sharp word of command was
heard. A quick flash of fire darted simultaneously
along the whole line of muzzles; a light smoke
arose, and a sharp report was heard, ringing on the
ear. The effect upon the advancing cavalry was
terrific. Hundreds of riders and horses dropped



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 323

instantly on the earth ; and the confused mass was
seen plunging to and fro in disorder and terror.
But after a few moments, by the efforts of their
officers, the squadrons were formed again ; and
then they advanced once more to the attack. The
front line of the Highlanders, by a word of com-
mand, knelt on the earth; and the second line,
taking deadly aim, discharged a volley into the
Russian squadron, now nearer than before. The
effect of this second discharge was more dreadful
than the first. Hundreds of Russians strewed the
ground. Riderless horses dashed to and fro in
wild confusion. The whole mass of cavalry were
thrown into the utmost disorder, and then turned
and fled from the scene of action. The triumph
of the heroic Scotch was again complete, as it
had been before, on the memorable heights of the
Alma.

But still the victory was not won. The Russian
cavalry in their flight reached the regiments of
reserve which had not yet been on the battle-field ;
and, thus augmented, the mass returned again to
the English position, and charged the heavy bri-
gade, under the command of General Scarlett. The
attack and repulse between these large masses
of troops was one of prodigious violence. Again
the Russians hoped to win back the victory to



3J4 THE LIFE AND REIGN

their arms, by extraordinary exertions. They were
met by a heroism as dauntless as their own. It is
said, that this hand-to-hand conflict on the shores
of Balaklava, equalled in fury any thing recorded in
the annals of war. There were men engaged in it,
who had taken part in many memorable conflicts ;
men, who had seen the great charge of the Life
Guards at Waterloo; who had been present at the
onset of the Imperial Guard of Napoleon at Leip-
sic ; who had witnessed the heroism of the English
veterans at Salamanca. But they assert, that none
of these tremendous conflicts exceeded in fury, or
in heroism, that with which the heights of Balak-
lava that day shook, when Menschikoff deter-
mined, by one prodigious blow, to crush the
power of the allies, and thus compel them to make
a precipitate retreat from the Crimea. * At length,
however, the British dragoons triumphed over their
foes, and the Russians fled in terror and confusion,
leaving the earth, for several miles, covered with the
wounded and the dying.

Yet still the Russians remained in possession
of the unfortunate redoubts, which had been taken
from the Turks. These must be recovered, or the
glory of the day would remain incomplete. For
this purpose, Lord Raglan ordered the Earl of
Lucan to advance with the cavalry under his com-



OP NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 325

mand. The earl at the moment when this move-
ment would have been effectual refused to execute
it. Lord Raglan sent another order afterward to
the same effect. The Earl of Lucan sent this order
to the Earl of Cardigan, who commanded the light
brigade. That officer at once saw that, as the bat-
tle then stood, the execution of this order, with the
number of troops then under his command, was
utterly impossible. Nevertheless, the stern sense
of duty which actuated him, compelled him to obey
the command of a superior officer. The Earl of
Cardigan bravely led on detachments of five regi-
ments. As they approached the redoubts, the
heroic English saw the guns ranged in grim array
against them, and beheld at once the desperate and
ruinous nature of the attack which they were com-
pelled to make. The event soon confirmed their
forebodings. The murderous fires of the redoubts
mowed down two-thirds of the English soldiers.
In the course of half an hour four hundred men
were left dead on the field, and the remnant re-
gained with difficulty the position from which they
had first moved.

Thus the battle of Balaklava ended, a conflict,
in which the glory and the disasters seem to have
been equally divided. Before the Russians left the

redoubts, which they had taken from the Turks,

28



32G THE LIFE AND REIGN

they dismantled them, and removed the cannon
which they contained to Sevastopol. The greatest
heroism was displayed on both sides, although but
a portion of the armies Russian, English, and
French were engaged in the conflict. The loss in
killed and wounded seems also to have been very
nearly equal.



*.



"



* st.




OF NICHOLAS TUE FIRST. 327



CHAPTER XXV.

ARRIVAL OF REINFORCEMENTS IN SEVASTOPOL UNDER GENERAL DAN-

NENBERG A GREAT PITCHED BATTLE CONTEMPLATED BY THE

RUSSIANS THE PREPARATIONS OF THE RUSSIANS MEMORABLE

BATTLE OF INKERMANN HEROISM OF THE LIFE GUARDS SUC-
COUR AFFORDED BY THE FRENCH VICTORY OF THE ALLIES RE-
SULTS OF THE BATTLE.

ONE more great battle on the field was destined
to take place, between the armies of Nicholas and
their foes, during the lifetime of the czar ; and that
was the memorable battle of the Inkermann. The
number of men involved in this conflict was much
greater than in that of Balaklava, and its conse-
quences were much more important.

On the 3d of November, large reinforcements of
Russian troops, under General Dannenberg, arrived
from Odessa at Sevastopol, and entered the fortress
from transports in the harbour. The Grand Dukes
Michael and Nicholas, sons of the mighty czar, ac-
companied them, for the purpose of encouraging
the garrison by their presence. On Sunday, No-
vember 4th, solemn religious services were held in
the town, at which patriarchs and prelates of the



328 THE LIFE AND REIGN

Greek Church addressed the soldiers of the gar-
rison, urging them to their utmost efforts of valour
and endurance in the coming battle. They assured
the men, that death on the field, in the line of duty,
would only be the highway to heavenly glory, and
to fadeless immortality. They told them, that the
English camp was filled with treasure, one-third of
which should be divided among the soldiers. All
were urged, by every possible consideration of re-
venge, fanaticism, hatred, and avarice, to the most
desperate exertions to vanquish the allies, to drive
them into the sea, and to capture all their bag-
gage, ammunition, and provisions. Such was the
object of, and such the preparations for, the great
battle of Inkermann.

Accordingly, on the morning of the 5th of No-
vember, General Gortschakoff made a demonstra-
tion toward Balaklava with his division, as if
intending to cut off the communication of the
allies with that post, so essential to their safety.
This drew a large portion of the allied troops from
the centre, leaving their front, in a great measure,
unprotected. General Dannenberg, with his new
and fresh recruits, was then to attack the main
position of the allies. General Soimonoff was to
issue from the Great Malakoff fortress, and attack
the English on the western extremity of their lines.



OF NICHOLAS THE FIRST. 329

By tliis arrangement tlie Russians brought 50,000
troops into the field.

The attack having been begun at Balaklava, it was
followed up by vast masses of Russian infantry, who
assaulted the centre of the English lines, weakened
by detachments sent to aid the French under Gene-
ral Bosquet at the former place. The Russians took
several batteries erected in front of the English
lines, and were advancing rapidly, and in great
force and fury, when they were checked by a dis-
charge of the fatal Minie rifles. But their retreat
was stopped by the regiments which they met, ad-
vancing in their rear. Another conflict ensued, and
the English were compelled, by vast superiority of
numbers, to fly from their breastworks, and were
pursued, still desperately fighting, toward their own
camp.

At this critical moment, the 20th and 47th Eng-
lish regiments arrived to the assistance of their
overpowered comrades, and made a tremendous
onset upon the serried ranks of the advancing
Russians. "With loud shouts of rage and exultation,
the English swept down masses of the Muscovites,
who, overcome with sudden terror at this unex-
pected repulse, began again to waver and to give
way. The combat now became exceedingly bloody
and desperate. At length even the 20th and 47th

28*



THE LIFE AND REIGN

were compelled to yield, and they slowly retreated,
under the immense pressure of the Russian squad-
rons which seemed to swell upward to the heights
from some inexhaustible fountain below.

Here was another critical juncture in the fortunes
of the day ; but the allied armies were again saved
from defeat, by the timely advance and heroic stand
made by the Life Guards under the Duke of Cam-
bridge. These advanced, with closed ranks, and
with fixed bayonets, toward the summit of the hill,
which was covered with a living wall of Russian
soldiers. Twice, after fearful and deadly collisions,


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibrarySamuel M. (Samuel Mosheim) SmuckerThe life and reign of Nicholas the First, emperor of Russia → online text (page 17 of 23)