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War in the East – 13 Jun 1855






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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

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

War in the East – 13 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Wednesday 13th June 1855

KERTCH,

The mission of the fleet and army having been accomplished, the force is on its way homewards. Sir George Brown and his staff are embarked. The Admirals are at Ambalaki. The troops are on board, with the exception of those who are ordered to remain in garrison at Yenikale and Pavlovskaya, and we leave the roadsteads this afternoon for Balaklava and Kamiesch. The streaks of smoke which rise from Kertch, from the Quarantine station, and from the very face of the waters, where the worthless prizes lie burning on the sandbanks, speak for our success. It has keen decided to occupy Pavlovskaya, because it is in a fine position to command the entrance to Kertch and Yenikale, at a place where the channel is narrowed by one of the sandbanks from Taman to the breadth of a mile and a half. The lines which have been thrown up around Yenikale are extremely strong; they are of the most massive and durable character, and reflect great credit on the engineers who designed and superintended their construction. They enclose the ramparts of the old town, and present on every side towards the land a broad ditch, a steep parapet, defended by redoubts, and broken into batteries, which are aided by the fire of the pieces on the walls. In fact, the place is lost to Russia so long as we like to keep it.

The point or bank of Tchechka, opposite Yenikale, is one of the many extraordinary spits of land which abound in this part of the world, and which are, as far as I know, without example in any other country. Of all these, the Spit of Arabat, which is a bank but a few feet above the water, and is in some places only a furlong in breadth, is the most remarkable. It is nearly 70 miles in length, and its average width is less than half-a-mile from sea to sea. The bank of Tchechka (or Szavernaia Rosa), which runs for nearly eight miles in a south-westerly direction from Cape Kammenoi past Yenikale, closes up the Bay of Kertch on the west, and the Gulf of Taman on the east, is a type of these formations, and is sufficiently interesting to deserve a visit. It only differs from Arabat in size, and in the absence of the fresh water wells, which are to be found at long intervals on the great road from Arabat to Genitchi. It is so low, that it is barely six feet above the level of the sea into which it runs. A bank of sand on both sides of the spit, piled up three or four feet in height, marks the boundary of the beach. The latter, which is a bank of shingle, shells, and fine sand, is only a few yards broad, and is terminated by the sand and rank grass and rushes of the spit, which rise up a foot or two above the beach. In the interior or on the body of the bank there are numerous lagunes – narrow strips of water much more salt than that of the adjacent sea. Some of these are only a few yards in length and a few feet in breadth, others extend for a quarter of a mile, and are about 100 yards broad. They are all bounded alike by thick high grass and rushes. The bottom, which is found at the depth of a few feet – often at two or three inches – consists of hard sand covered with slimy green vegetable matter. The water abounds in small flounders and dabs, and in shrimps, which leap about in wild commotion at an approaching footstep. Every lagune is covered with mallards and ducks, in pairs, and the fringes of the spit are the resort of pelicans and cormorants innumerable. The silence, the dreary solitude of the scene, is beyond description. Even the birds, mute as they are at this season, appear to be preternaturally quiet and voiceless. Multitudes of odd, crustaceous-looking polypous plants spring up through the reeds; and bright-coloured nycatchers, with orange breasts and black wings, poise over their nests below them. The first day I went over we landed on the beach close to the battery which the Russians placed on the spit at the Ferry station. It consisted of a quadrangular work of sandbags, constructed in a very durable manner, and evidently  not long made. In the centre of the square there was a whitewashed house, which served as a barrack for the garrison. The walls only were left, and the smoke rose from the ashes of the roof and rafters inside the shell. Our men had fired it when they landed. A pool of brackish water was enclosed by the battery, which must have been the head-quarters of ague and misery. The sailors said the house swarmed with vermin, and had a horrible odour. Nothing was found in it but the universal black bread and some salt fish. The garrison, some 30 or 40 men probably, had employed themselves in a rude kind of agriculture, and farming or pasturage. Patches of ground were cleared here and there, and gave feeble indications that young potatoes were struggling for lite beneath. Large ricks of reeds and coarse grass had been gathered round the battery, but were now reduced to ashes. At the distance of 100 yards from the battery there was another whitewashed house, or the shell of it, with similar signs of rural life about it, and an unhappy-looking cat trod gingerly among the hot embers, and mewed piteously in the course of her fruitless search for her old corner. The traces of herds of cattle, which were probably drivaen down from the mainland to feed on the grass round the salt marshes, were abundant.

 

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 – 11 Jun 1855

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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

War in the East – 11 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Monday 11th June 1855

OFF YENIKALE,

HAD I been aware that this expedition would have been so barren in everything but considerable strategical and great political results, I certainly would have hesitated before I abandoned the camp before Sebastopol. The mode of defence adopted by the Russians has left one nothing to write about. Corn ricks blazing. batteries and forts blown up, and stores and magazines gutted and burnt, offer but little variety of detail. We have inflicted great ruin on the enemy, but they have emulated our best efforts in destroying their own Settlements. Our haste to attack has not exceeded their precipitation to retreat.

The intelligence of the destruction of Anapa has had rather a perplexing effect on the authorities, who do not seem well prepared for the enemy anticipating their intentions, and for such eccentric operations of war as those of the Russians, who delight to do the work of hostile fleets and armies, and to burn and blow up their own forts and settlements. However, the embarkation of the troops goes on as usual. The Turks have been reinforced by 2000 men, who were landed yesterday. The French force is all embarked, except about 2500 men. The news of the destruction of Anapa was brought by Mr. Hughes, who sailed over in an open boat from the coast near Anapa to the Admiral, who lay off Ambalaki.

Two o’clock, P.M.

The whole expedition will return to Balaklava forthwith, with the exception of the 71st Regiment, which has been ordered to disembark again from the “Valorous” and “Sidon.”

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 – 4 June 1855

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Below is another installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

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

War in the East – 4 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Thursday 31st May 1855

Paid another visit to Kertch. Preparations are being made for the expedition to start as soon as the works at Yenikale are completed.

Friday 1st June 1855

This morning at 3 o’clock the launches and armed boats of the fleet were sent up to the Sea of Azoff. The force is a strong one, for the boats are all furnished with 24 lb. howitzers. The fortifications of Yenikale progress rapidly.

Sunday 3rd June 1855

It has been telegraphed from the Black Sea that Soudjak and the adjacent forts have been all evacuated, and the magazines blown up by the Russians. The “Spitfire” has returned from Anapa, and reports that half the garrison of Soudjak marched to Anapa, and the rest, accompanied by the inhabitants of the Settlements around the forts, crossed the Kuban in a large caravan, and proceeded to the north-east.

Monday 4th June 1855

The news from Captain Lyons’ squadron in the Sea of Azoff is of the most cheering character. Our success has indeed been signal. Within four days after the squadron passed the Straits of Kertch they had destroyed 245 Russian vessels employed in carrying provisions to the Russian army in the Crimea, many of them of large size, and fully equipped and laden. Some of these ships were built in Finland for this specific purpose. Immense magazines of corn, flour, and breadstuffs were destroyed at Berdiansk and Chenitschesk (Genitchi?), comprising altogether more than 7,000,000 (seven million) rations. Arabat was bombarded, and the powder magazine blown up, but, as there were no troops on board the vessels, and as the Russians were in force, it seemed more desirable to Captain Lyons to urge on the pursuit of the enemy’s vessels than to stay before a place which must very soon fall into our hands. At Berdiansk the enemy were forced to run on shore and burn four war steamers, under the command of Rear-Admiral Wolff, carrying six 68 pounders and 32 pounders each. At Kertch the enemy destroyed upwards of 4,000,000 lbs. of corn and 500,000 lbs. of flour.

Tuesday 5th June 1855

We are making every preparation for the expedition to Anapa, which will be ready to sail on Friday.

 

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 – 16 May 1855

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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

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

War in the East – 16 May 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Wednesday 16th May 1855

This morning some of the Sardinian cavalry were disembarked at Balaklava, and proceeded to their camping ground, near the French camp of the left. They consisted of Lancers, and were well mounted, handsomely equipped, serviceable looking men, with a martial air and hearing. As they passed by our cavalry camp at Kadikoi they cheered lustily, one, two, three, and continued to do so at intervals, till they had wound up the road out of sight. The French on the hills above them turned out, and re-echoed their cheers. There is an amicable controversy between us and our allies as to who shall fraternize the most.

Thursday 17th May 1855

Since the bombardment has ceased there is, indeed, very little to record. Lord Raglan took General della Marmora into the trenches to-day, and proceeded to the advanced parallel, explaining the nature of the position. On their return the enemy caught sight of them, and sent some unpleasant tokens of their recognition in the shape of heavy shot and shell, which excited the attention of every one around Lord Raglan, but did not at all disturb the equanimity or draw the notice of the Field-Marshal. The work of arming our advanced batteries continues to be executed with alacrity and success. We are now moving all our heavy mortars 13 inches and 10 inches into the advanced parallels. A shell from the enemy fell by chance yesterday on the platform which had just been laid for one of these large mortars, and utterly destroyed it. There was scarcely a shot fired to-day on either side.

Miss Nightingale is, I am glad to say, very much better to-day, and is now past the dangerous crisis of the fever.

The Russians are working vigorously at the north side. They are erecting an earthwork over the Tchernaya, opposite the eastern angle of the plateau, under the very eyes of the French battery.

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 – 15 May 1855

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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

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

War in the East – 15 May 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Tuesday 15th May 1855

BEFORE SEBASTOPOL

THE active operations of the siege are suspended for a time; our batteries are complete, our works finished, but the armament of them is not yet accomplished. Even the French are tired of a useless cannonade, and there has not been much firing for the last two nights. The Sardinians are accumulating at Balaklava daily. Two or three steamers arrive every four-and-twenty hours laden with those excellent and soldierlike troops. They land all ready for the field, with horses, carts, etc. Their transport cars are simple, strongly made, covered vehicles, not unlike a London bread-cart, painted blue, with the words “Armata Sarda” in black letters, and the name of the regiment to the service of which it belongs. The officers are well mounted, and everyone admires the air and carriage of the troops, more especially of the “Bersaglieri” (Chasseurs), and the eye is attracted by their melodramatic head-dress – bandit-looking hat, with a large plume of black cock’s feathers in the side. The officers of the corps wear a plume of green ostrich feathers. General della Marmora and his staff have arrived, and Lord Raglan has received him with marked consideration.

Those nocturnal frights which went on so briskly last week have ceased for the present. Although our losses were not heavy, we were generally deprived of the services of the best men. The old soldiers would go to the front and were knocked over, and in that respect our losses were serious. The Russians lately adopted various “dodges” to get our men into their hands and to draw them over the parapet, such as putting their caps on the muzzles of their firelocks and holding them just over the trenches, etc., or shoving their bayonets above the earthworks, and keeping men ready to fire at any soldiers who came forward to seize them.

On Friday night, a Russian bugler, a mere lad, leaped upon the top of the trench, and was killed by numerous balls in the very act of sounding the charge. His dead body fell into our trench. The enemy are repairing and strengthening their batteries, and are busy throwing up new works inside the town itself. It is not correct to say that there are any earthworks about Sebastopol with tiers of guns in them; indeed, it would not be possible to construct earthworks with guns placed one above the other in them. The expression applies rather to the fact that there are some batteries formed on the slopes of hills, and that the intrenchments rise up one inside the other, so that the inner one is higher up on the hill-side than that in front of it.

I regret to say that the cholera has commenced its ravages. It is reported that twenty men died of that terrible disease last night. The 71st Regiment are about to shift their encampment to the high ground on the left of the Third Division. Both the Buffs and the 71st were in a miserable plight during the rain. Their camping-ground became a slough, and illness rapidly increased in a few days – no doubt because of the wet ground on which the men lay.

Omar Pasha, after visiting Lord Raglan this morning, proceeded to Kamiesch, and embarked for Eupatoria.

Miss Nightingale is suffering from an attack of Crimean fever. M. Soyer has been inspecting the hospitals and kitchens, and it is hoped he may effect some change for the better in our present abominable mode of regimental cooking. He had an interview with Lord Raglan again yesterday. Numbers of amateurs are arriving. The Royal Yacht Squadron yacht “Stella” came in on Sunday.

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 – 10 May 1855

 

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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

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

War in the East – 10 May 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Thursday 10th May 1855

About one o’clock this morning the camp in front was roused up by an extremely heavy fire of musketry and repeated cheering along our right attack. The elevated ground and ridges in front of the Third and Fourth Divisions were soon crowded with groups of men from the tents in the rear. It was a very dark night, for the moon had not yet risen, and the sky was overcast with clouds, but the incipient flashing of small arms, which lighted up the front of the trenches, the yell of the Russians (which our soldiers have christened “the lnkermann screech”, the cheers of our men, and the volume of the fire indicated, the position, and showed that a contest of no ordinary severity was taking place.

For a mile and a half the darkness was broken by outbursts of ruddy flame and bright glittering sparks, which advanced, receded, died out altogether, broke out fiercely in patches in innumerable twinkles, flickered in long lines like the electric flash a!ong a chain, and formed for an instant craters of fire. By the time I had reached the front about five minutes after the firing began the fight was raging all along the right of our position. I cannot now ascertain the particulars of the affair, and can only describe what I saw. The wind was favourable for hearing, and the cheers of the men, their shouts, the voices of the officers, the Russian bugles and our own, were distinctly audible. The bugles of the Light Division and of the Second Division were sounding the “turn out” on our right as we reached the high ground, and soon afterwards the alarm sounded through the French camp close to them. Hundreds of the soldiers had got up, and were drawn up, watching with the most intense interest the fight before them, as far as they could see it. The tents of the Fourth Division were lighted up, and the old Inkermann men were all anxious and ready for the word to march, should their services be required. The musketry, having rolled incessantly for a quarter of an hour, began to cease at intervals along the line. Here and there it stopped for a moment altogether; again it burst forth. Then came a British cheer which thrilled through every heart. “Our fellows have driven them back; bravo!” Then a Russian yell, a fresh burst of musketry, more cheering, a rolling volley subsiding into spattering flashes and broken fire, a ringing hurrah from the front; and then the Russian bugles sounding “the retreat,” and our own bugles the “cease firing,” and the attack, after half-an-hour duration, was over.

The enemy were beaten, and were retiring to their earthworks; and now the batteries opened to cover their retreat. The Redan, Round Tower, Garden Batteries, and Road Battery, aided probably by the ships, lighted up the air from the muzzles of their guns. The batteries at Careening-bay and at the north side of the harbour contributed their fire, and the sky was seamed by the red track of innumerable shells. You could see clearly at times the ground close around you from the flashes of the cannon. The instant they began to fire, our ever active allies the French, on our right, opened from their batteries over Inkermann and from the redoubts to draw off the Russian guns from our men; and our own batteries also replied, and sent shot and shell in the direction of the retreating enemy.

The effect of this combined fire was very formidable to look at, but was probably not nearly so destructive as that of the musketry. From half-past one till three o’clock the cannonade continued, but the spectators had retired before two o’clock, and tried to sleep as well as they might in the midst of the thunders of the infernal turmoil. Soon after three o’clock a.m. it began to blow and rain with great violence, and on getting up this morning I really imagined that one of our terrible winter days had interpolated itself into our Crimean May. 

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 – 8 May 1855

 

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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

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

War in the East – 8 May 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Tuesday 8th May 1855

THE details of the Kertch Expedition have lost their interest, inasmuch as it effected nothing. The most extraordinary rumour are afloat respecting the reasons of its return re infecta; but it is sufficient to say that the fleet, consisting of about forty sail, with nearly 12,000 men on board, arrived at the rendezvous, lat. 44’54, long. 36’28, on Saturday morning and on the previous night, and that they were summoned to return to the place whence they came by an express steamer which left Kamiesch on Friday night or Saturday morning with orders (it is said) from General Canrobert. These orders were, it is reported, sent by the French General in consequence of a communication from Paris, which rendered it incumbent on him to concentrate the forces under his command in the Chersonese. It is not to be wondered at that this abrupt termination of an expedition which, from its secret character, was doubtless intended to effect important services, excited feelings of annoyance and regret among those who expected to win honour and glory and position. Admiral Bruat could not venture to take on himself the responsibility of disregarding orders so imperative and so clear, and Admiral Lyons was not in a position to imitate the glorious disobedience of Nelson.

Those on board the ships which were the furthest at sea could easily make out the land. A high peak rising out of the sea to the north was visible to the whole squadron; two or three smaller elevations at no great distance could also be seen distinctly; and there is no doubt but that the low land itself could have been discerned from the tops of the men-of-war at the rendezvous.

Kertch is said to have been the place where Caesar penned his pithy despatch “Veni! Vidi! Vici!” We may certainly say we came, and saw, but we cannot complete the sentence.

The men disembarked this morning.

Sir Edmund Lyons is said to be unwell, and his illness is attributed to chagrin at the result of the expedition, or rather at the want of it.

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 Lord Charles Beresford – Sail-Drill

 

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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.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Sail-Drill

Sail Drill In those days, the master was responsible for the navigation of the ship. He was an old, wily, experienced seaman, who had entered the Service as master’s mate. (When I was midshipman in the Defence, the master’s assistant was Richard W. Middleton, afterwards Captain Middleton, chief organiser of the Conservative Central Office.) The master laid the course and kept the reckoning. As steam replaced sails, the office of master was transferred to the navigating officer, a lieutenant who specialised in navigation. The transformation was effected by the Order in Council of 26th June, [1867].

The sail-drill in the Marlborough was a miracle of smartness and speed. The spirit of emulation in the Fleet was furious.  The fact that a certain number of men used to be killed, seemed to quicken the rivalry. Poor Inman, a midshipman in the Marlborough, a great friend of mine, his foot slipping as he was running down from aloft, lost his life. His death was a great shock to me. The men would run aloft so quickly that their bare feet were nearly indistinguishable. Topmasts and lower yard were sent down and sent up at a pace which to-day is inconceivable. I once saw the captain of the maintop hurl himself bodily down from the cap upon a hand in the top who was slow in obeying orders. That reckless topman was Martin Schultz, a magnificent seaman, who was entered by the captain direct from the Norwegian merchant service, in which he had been a mate.

Mr. George Lewis, an old topmate of mine, who was one of the smartest seamen on board H.M.S. Marlborough, has kindly sent to me the following interesting details with regard to the times of sail-drill and the risks incidental to the evolutions.

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

 

War in the East – 2 May 1855

 

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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

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

War in the East – 2 May 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Wednesday 2nd May 1855

There was a very brilliant exploit performed by seven battalions of French infantry, in which the 46th Regiment were particularly distinguished, last night and this morning. They advanced before midnight and seized on the Russian ambuscades under a heavy fire. The Russians came out to meet them in forces – a tremendous conflict ensued, in which the French used the bayonet in repeated charges, and at last they forced the Russians back into the works, followed them, stormed the outworks of the Batterie Centrale, and took off eight cohorns, in which they brought to General Pelissier. In this gallant affair, which lasted till two o’clock this morning, the French had sixty-three killed and two hundred and ten wounded, and nine officers put hors de combat.

The obstinacy of the combat was sufficiently evident from the spectacle presented by the ground between the French lines and the Batterie du Centre. The space of rubbish, broken earth, ruins of batteries, and the debris of outworks, was covered with gabions, fragments of arms, and dead bodies, and the Russians were busily engaged in burying those who had fallen inside their lines. The firlog on the left was incessant and exceedingly heavy, and the Russian artillery did their best to avenge the losses of their comrades, but probably not with much effect, although the air was obscured by the clouds of dust arising from the shower of cannon balls, which tore along the surface, marking their course they ricochetted among the batteries by pillars of earth dashed as up by the concussion.

The French replied with vigour, and from dawn till eve the contest was continues between the artillery and the riflemen in front of the Flagstaff Battery. Our batteries all day maintained a most profound silence.

Early this morning a little flotilla of some twenty-five or thirty French vessels, most of them brigs and schooners, sailed from Kamiesch, and stood over to the south-west with a gentle breeze. They were visible all day, and could be readily seen from Sebastopol. At sunset some were hull down. Several French men-of-war accompanied them. It is supposed that these vessels contained a portion of the troops and stores of the secret expedition. At half-past two, a body of Russian troops, in three divisions, each about 2500 strong, were seen marching into Sebastopol from the camp over the Tchernaya. A very large convoy of carte and pack animals also entered the town in the course of the day, and an equally numerous string of carts and horses left for the interior. The troops marched along by the road at the head of the harbour, on the north side, and were lost to sight at three o’clock, behind the rise of the cliffs on the south of the road. The day was so clear, that one could almost see their faces through the glass. Their officers were well mounted, and the men marched solidly and well. Numbers of dogs preceded and played about the line of march, and as they passed by the numerous new batteries, at which the Russians are working night and day, the labourers ceased from their labours for the time, saluted the officers as they passed, and stood gazing on the sight just as our own artisans would stare at a body of troops in some quiet English town. A smaller body of troops subsequently passed out from the town, and marched up towards the camp at the Belbek, taking a road more to the north than that by which their comrades entered.

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 Lord Charles Beresford – Gunnery

 

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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.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Gunnery

 We were very particular about our gunnery in the Marlborough; although at the same time gunnery was regarded as quite a secondary art. It was considered that anyone could fire a gun, and that the whole credit of successful gunnery depended upon the seamanship of the sailors who brought the ship into the requisite position. The greater number of the guns in the Marlborough were the same as those used in the time of Nelson, with their wooden trucks, handspikes, sponges, rammers, worms and all gear complete. The Marlborough was fitted with a cupola for heating roundshot, which were carried red-hot to the gun in an iron bucket. I know of no other ship which was thus equipped. The gunnery lieutenant of the Marlborough, Charles Inglis, was gifted with so great and splendid a voice, that, when he gave his orders from the middle deck, they were heard at every gun in the ship. We used to practise firing at a cliff in Malta Harbour, at a range of a hundred yards or so. I used to be sent on shore to collect the round-shot and bring them on board for future use. I remember that when, in the course of a lecture delivered to my men on board the Bulwark more than forty years afterwards, I related the incident, I could see by their faces that my audience did not believe me; though I showed to them the shot-holes in the face of the cliff, which remain to this day.

On gunnery days, all fires were extinguished, in case a spark should ignite the loose powder spilt by the boys who brought the cartridges to the guns, making a trail to the magazines. At “night quarters,” we were turned out of our hammocks, which were lashed up. The mess-tables were triced up overhead. The lower-deck ports being closed, there was no room to wield the wooden rammer; so that the charges for the muzzle-loading guns were rammed home with rope rammers. Before the order to fire was given, the ports were triced up. Upon one occasion, so anxious was a bluejacket to be first in loading and firing, that he cherished a charge hidden in his hammock since the last night quarters, a period of nearly three months, and, firing before the port was triced up, blew it into the next ship.

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