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Archive for March, 2012

War in the East – 31 Mar 1855

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Below is another excerpt from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, its a daily account from the battlelines during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 31 Mar 1855

Saturday 31 March 1855

The weather has changed once more. It is now very raw and cold, and threatens another snowstorm. Indeed, there is no security against frost and snow in the Crimea till April is over. There was little firing last night and this morning. The Russians are still engaged in strengthening and extending the advanced works before the Mamelon and the Round Tower, and their artillerymen keep a sharp eye on the new parallel of the French on our right, and on our own advanced parallel on the extreme of the left attack, into which they keep up a fire throughout the day.

As a proof of the extreme severity with which the war presses on the Russians, and of the losses to which they are subject, I may mention a fact, which is stated on excellent authority, that out of seven Admirals who were in command at Sebastopol, no less than five have died or been killed since the siege began.

General Osten-Sacken commands the army in the field outside Sebastopol, and it is understood that he has expressed a confident belief that his position is impregnable to assault. From the town itself we hear that the men are not on full rations, and that they get no pay. The soldiers are exceedingly discontented at the non-fulfilment of the promises held out to them that their arrears of pay should be made up to them. Much more do they grumble at not receiving their current pay.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

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War in the East – 30 Mar 1855

 

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Below is another excerpt from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, its a daily account from the battlelines during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.


Activity and Energy of the Russians

THE weather has been exceedingly fine since the despatch of the last mails, and has been very favourable for all siege operation. Nevertheless, the day on which the fire is to be reopened remains buried in the womb of the future, or, in other words, no one can say with any degree of confidence that our batteries will be ready on any fixed date to continue the work which has languished since the 22nd of last October. On the other hand, the Russians have displayed the greatest activity and energy. They have actually thrown up two new redoubts-one opposite the left, another on the flank, of the right attack, since my last letter was despatched, and the works which they have constructed on Mount Sapoune, to the right of the Mamelon, have been strengthened and partially armed, notwithstanding the enemy have had to work under a galling fire of shells. Their rifle pits are now regularly connected and intrenched, and in one of them they have mounted a heavy gun in advance of the Round Tower. In fact, they have made a parallel towards our works, and are now gradually approachiag the French right attack towards Inkermann. Heavy guns, with small charges, are used to “lob” shot and shell into the advanced works on both sides.

For the last three or four mornings the force under Sir Colin Campbell has been turned out before four o’clock a.m. The men are all under arms at dawn, and ready for any duty that may be required of them; but the Russians do not show in any numbers near Balaklava. Our two new batteries on the left attack have been finished, and the night before last our men made a covered way in front of these batteries with great energy.

The Russians have been greatly puzzled, and are exceedingly angry with the proceedings of our lime-burners in front of the Division. The volumes of smoke arising from the kilns have attracted their notice, and they have shelled the spot at intervals ever since, to the discomfiture of Major-General Barnard’s poultry in the rear of the quarries. One shell grazed the General’s tents, another burst among the little temporary establishment of cocks, hens, and sheep, and is said to have injured some of them, and the General has had to shift his quarters. The navies who were burning the lime took the exigencies of their position with great coolness, and contented themselves with expressing a wish for a private cannon to themselves to fight the Russians with in the intervals of lime-burning. The Russians evidently think the smoke arises from some works connected with the railway, and although the kiln, which is concealed by the quarried stone before it, is full two miles from their batteries, they direct shells at it now and then during the day.

The telegraph is now in full play between the right attack, the left attack, and Lord Raglan’s quarters. From the latter place there is also a line to Sir Colin Campbell’s, at Kadikoi. Our scattered camp is thus, as it were, concentrated and kept in close communication. The railway is now completed up to the plateau, and has been carried close to head-quarters, where there will be a large depot and station established.

Captain Christie, who has been superseded by Captain Heath, as Agent of Transports, has issued a memorandum taking leave of the Commanders in that branch of the service.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 27 Mar 1855

 

 

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Below is another excerpt from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, its a daily account from the battlelines during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 27 Mar 1855

Tuesday 27th March 1855

 

Last night Captain Hill, 89th Regiment, in proceeding to post his picquets, made a mistake in the dark, and got too near the Russian picquets. He was not very well acquainted with the country, and the uncertain light deceived him. The Russians challenged, “Qui va la?” “Nous, Francais!” was the reply. The two picquets instantly fired, and Captain Hill dropped.

There were only two or three men with him, and they retired, taking with them the Captain’s great-coat. They only went a few yards to the rear io get assistance, and returned at once in the place where Captain Hill fell, but his body had been already removed, and the Russian picquets had withdrawn. His fate is uncertain, but it is hoped that he is not severely wounded, and is safe in the hands of the Russians.

Two little “affairs,” calculated to break the monotony of Balaklavan existence, occurred on Monday. Imprimis, a fight broke out among the Croats. These gentry were all armed when they landed, and it was judged inexpedient to deprive them of their stomachs-full of pistols and yataghans. It was known for some time past that ill-blood existed between various little sections of these wild mountainers; Montenegrins, Albanians, Croats, Arnauts, Greeks, even Affghans and Koords – all had their quarrels. Some of the men accused the head men of cheating them. Last night a squabble took place between two parties of the Croats. They drew their pistols and daggers, a regular fight took place. Thirty or forty shots were fired, and men fell wounded, two of whom have since died. Colonel Harding, the commandant, with a party of men, proceeded to the spot and quelled the riot, and disarmed all the Croats on the spot. It is a pity it was not done before. Secundo, a fire broke out in the harbour on board a vessel (No. 113), I believe, laden with combustible stores. The alarm bell was rung, the “Leander” sent round her boats, and after an immense deal of excitement the fire was extinguished. An inquiry has taken place into the origin of the fire, but it appears to have sprang from nothing more than the drunkenness of some of her crew.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

Memoirs of Henry Keppel – 1904 – Little Admiral

 

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. Below is concluding installment from his memoirs as published in one of the books in our library ‘Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West’ -1905. 

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Henry Keppel – 1904 – Little Admiral

Sir Harry Keppel and Grandson

And so the ‘Little Admiral,’ who had weathered so many storms, had at last ‘fitted foreign’ and set forth on the journey that he had long wished for, with a certainty that he would gain the haven where he would be. He often longed for a ‘mysterious union’ with his native sea, and always hoped to be buried in its voiceless embrace. ‘One must be eaten by something he would often say,’ and I would much rather be eaten by shrimps than by worms.’ 

I believe that when his nephew, Sir Harry Stephenson, was in command of the Channel Fleet he had made arrangements for a simple sailor’s funeral. But it was not to be, and on January 21, [1904], I attended the dear Admiral’s funeral at Winkfield. The solemnity of it will never be effaced from my memory. His coffin was draped with the Union Jack of the ‘Majestic,’ on which lay his cocked hat and sword. Behind the gun-carriage on which the coffin was placed there were drawn up petty officers from H.M.S. ‘Mars,’ ‘Hannibal,’ and ‘Gladiator’; behind them, ship’s companies from H.M.S. ‘Victoria and Albert,’ ‘Osborne,’ ‘Vernon,’ ‘Hannibal,’ and ‘Victory.’ Amongst the wealth of wreaths that covered the carriage, one was conspicuous, on which was written, with her own hand, ‘In loving memory of my beloved Little Admiral, the best and bravest of men. Rest in peace. ALEXANDRA.’ The King and the German Emperor were represented, and naval and military officers and troops of friends vied in the proof of their friendship and respect.

The little church was filled by sailors bringing garlands of flowers, which were placed on the coffin while the beautiful hymns, ‘Oh, rest in the Lord’ and ‘Lead, kindly light ,’ were being sung.


Safe home, safe home to port –
Rent cordage, shattered deck,
Torn sails, provisions short,
And only not a wreck.
But oh, the joy upon the shore
To tell our voyage – perils o’er.

And there were many tears silently shed by those who had known and loved the ‘Little Admiral.’ And when the body was lowered into the grave, in presence of his gallant son, and the orders were given to fire three volleys in the air, and the ‘Last Post’ was sounded, many sobs were heard, and it would have required a stony heart not to be moved. Those who were present saw his little grandson, who had just joined the Service, standing at the salute, with the tears rolling down his cheeks. He was thinking probably of his grandfather, who had once been as he was, and was now again as a little child.

While the funeral was taking place at Winkfield Church, an impressive service was being held at the Chapel Royal, St. James’s, which was attended by the King and Queen, who herself chose the hymns that were sung. Harry Keppel’s body sleeps in the little churchyard by the side of his wife, and surely neither Westminster Abbey nor St. Paul’s ever witnessed a more impressive ceremonial.

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Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1902

 

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. Below is an excerpt from his memoirs as published in one of the books in our library ‘Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West’ -1905. 

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1902 – Order of Merit

His popularity was universal. At Cowes he visited Mr. Armour’s magnificent yacht, where he was piped on board at the suggestion of the quartermaster, who had never before seen him, but was an ardent admirer of his and had kept a record of all his exploits.

The inauguration of the new Order of Merit took place in Buckingham Palace on August 8, [1902], and Harry, who had been selected for that great honour, must have been, I imagine, ten years older than any of the others who assembled for their investiture on that day. Nothing could exceed the gracious manner of the King in bestowing these and other decorations; and I am sure that everyone felt, as I did, how the honour was enhanced by His Majesty’s kind words to each recipient. On this occasion I was also honoured by a command to attend, to be invested with the Grand Cross of the Bath, and so was able to accompany him to Buckingham Palace. It was a sight I shall never forget to see those who were selected for that high and new Order.

Shortly after this the Athenaeum Club invited all the knights of the new Order of Merit to a dinner. My son William, probably the youngest member of that distinguished assembly, accompanied his uncle, whose health was proposed; but Sir Harry left the toast to be responded to by Sir Edward Seymour, not trusting himself to speak.

Few things bring death so vividly to our minds as a room deprived of a beloved presence. ‘The empty chair’ as Thackeray, I think, somewhere says, ‘mournfully whispers what yours and mine will some day be.’

The little treasures so dear to the possessor, so worthless in other eyes; the photograph which once gave so much pleasure, and brought back memories of loving friends and happy days long passed away, become only an encumbrance to those who remain, ignorant even of what they were and what they meant.

In his last years when the Admiral became somewhat deaf, his old friend, Mr. Read, went to visit him with Mr. Buckley, another old friend from Singapore; but Mr. Read and he found it difficult to understand each other. Turning to Mr. Buckley, Harry said, ‘There is no doubt we ought both to be in a lunatic asylum.’ But some short time before his death this deafness became worse, so bad, indeed, that he could not discern that his friends were even speaking. You have lost your voice, dear Algie,’ he said to me; ‘I cannot hear a word you are saying.’ And then, one day, he said he had been having luncheon with the King. ‘D-d dull it was; nobody except myself opened their lips all the time.’ And, sadder still, when his daughter hastened home from Malta, he thought for a few days that she would not speak to him. But three days before his death his boy had returned from the Pacific, and God, as of old, worked a miracle, and restored to him, as he lay on his bed, the hearing of his youth.

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Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – Autumn Cruise

 

 

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. Below is an excerpt from his memoirs as published in one of the books in our library ‘Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West’ -1905. 

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – Autumn Cruise

He never missed an autumn cruise with the Prince of Wales in the ‘Osborne‘ at Cowes, and his face was well known in the clubhouse and on the lawn. Nothing could exceed the kindness of his Royal Host in looking after his guest. On one occasion the German Emperor, coming on board the ‘Osborne‘ from the ‘Hohenzollern,’ wished to see Harry. It was at a time when he slept  – ‘his custom always of an afternoon’ – and the Prince, going down on tiptoe, refused to have him disturbed.

Walking with his niece, he met two young ladies who bowed to him. He seized them by the hand, saying how kind they were to recognise an old fellow, and kissed them both. His niece remonstrated, but he said: ‘I thought they were some more nieces – at any rate, they were devilish pretty girls!’

One day at Cowes it came on to rain in torrents, and two of his real nieces took shelter under a verandah of the hotel, which had been reserved for a certain rich stockbroker, who turned them out into the wet. Harry, hearing of this, was furious, and started out with his nephew to demand an apology he had an umbrella in his hand saying: ‘ I am too old to strike him, but I can poke his eye out.’ The stockbroker said: ‘How was I to know they were ladies?’ ‘Damn you, sir,’ said Harry, ‘don’t you know a thoroughbred from a carthorse? If you don’t, I’ll teach you.’

When paying a visit to the Royal yacht, the Prince of Wales told Queen Victoria that Harry was going to publish his recollections. Her Majesty called him up, and said: ‘I hear, Sir Harry, you are going to publish your recollections. I shall be glad to read them.’  ‘No, your Majesty,’ he said; ‘I fear they will not be fit reading for a lady.’ And yet, as everybody knows, there is not a sentence in them which might not have been read aloud at Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for Young Ladies on Chiswick Mall without calling up a blush on their innocent faces.

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Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Britannia

 

 

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  This is the fifth installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Britannia

My chest on board the Britannia stood between the chests of poor “Andy” Wauchope and Henry John Thoroton Hildyard. Both subsequently left the Navy for the Army. The late Major-General Andrew Gilbert Wauchope, [D.S.O.], was fatally wounded at Magersfontein during the South African war. General Sir Henry J.T. Hildyard, [G.C.B.], [K.C.B.], retired in [1911], after long and distinguished service. I was strongly inclined to follow the example of my comrades and to join the Army; and I have since occasionally regretted that I remained in the Navy, in which Service there is less opportunity for attaining the highest rank.

I was raised to the rank of “captain” in the Britannia; but I regret to say that my enjoyment of that dignity was singularly brief, for I was disrated upon the same day, even before I had time to put on the stripe. For my delight at my promotion so exhilarated me, that I forgot to resist the temptation to empty a bread-barge upon the head of the old master-at-arms as he was coming up the hatchway, and the spectacle was so amusing that I stayed to laugh at it.

When I entered the Service, the system of training young seamen, as well as cadets, was in operation. To Sir James Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty, is due the credit of introducing the training of seamen. In [1854], he caused the Illustrious, two-decker, to be commissioned for that purpose, under the command of Captain Robert Harris. The fact was that as sails gave place to steam and as the science of gunnery progressed, it became necessary to enter seamen as boys and to train them for continuous service. For some time the short service and long service systems were concurrent. When I went to sea, captains still entered men direct from the merchant service, and very good seamen they were. They were engaged for a commission, at the end of which they could re-engage or not as they pleased. But in the meantime, under the admirable administration of Captain Harris, “Jimmy Graham’s novices,” as they were called, earned an excellent reputation in the Fleet; and continuous service gradually replaced intermittent service. In the continuous service system resided our chief superiority over foreign Navies. The objection to it on the part of the Government was (and is) the increasing permanent charge of pensions. But in the interests of the Service and of the country, it cannot be too clearly understood that the system is well worth the cost, and that the revival of the short service system is profoundly to be regretted.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project