Fruitless Negotiations - Death of the Emperor Nicholas - Vienna Conference - Progress of the Siege in 1855.
The aim of the compiler of this work was not so much directed to the presenting to the reader an historical narrative of minor particulars and events connected with the countries engaged in the war; but to a detail of the chief operations and struggles in which the contending forces bore a conspicuous part. Already has too much minuteness been indulged in; but in further prosecuting the task to completion, the attention of the reader will be chiefly directed to the principal events during the remainder of the contest.
At the commencement and throughout the progress of the war, there were many who indulged the hope that the broken-up nationalities might again be restored—that Poland, Hungary, and Italy, might again be placed among the list of independent nations. However desirable this consummation might be, and however favourably inclined the British government were to the accomplishment of such an object, yet, under the circumstances, it could not be a party to the resuscitation of the national independence of those countries, without coming into direct collision with the states with which it was on friendly terms. This hope, therefore, was doomed to be disappointed.
There were negotiations going on betwixt the governments of England and France on the one hand, and Austria and Prussia on the other, for several months, but, as they led to no important results, a detail of them is unnecessary here. One event took place at this period that deserves to be noticed, which reflects great honour upon the small state which so boldly stood forth to protest against Russian policy. This state was Sardinia. The king entered into a convention with the Allied powers to transmit 15,000 Sardinian troops to the Crimea, to aid the Allied forces against the Russians; these troops consisting of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Nobly did those troops distinguish themselves during the remainder of the war.
The early part of the year 1855 was marked by dissensions in the government of Great Britain. The Aberdeen ministry had long been in bad odour with the country; and the formation of the " Sebastopol Committee" was the primary cause of its break-down, which event took place in the beginning of February. Several days elapsed ere another ministry could be formed; Lord Derby endeavoured to form one, but failed; Lord John Russell also failed. At length Lord Palmerston succeeded in bringing together a portion of the former ministry, making up the remainder by placing those in office on whom he thought he could rely for possessing the necessary qualificacations for the posts he assigned them. Several changes, however, subsequently took place, ere the government was placed in any thing like stability.
During these complicated and harassing transactions, an event took place which startled all Europe—nay, all parts of the civilized world. This was the death of the Czar Nicholas. Throughout the early weeks of 1855 rumours had had been rife that the emperor was in ill health; and those who knew how little prone he was to listen to advice, either from physicians or others, augured a possibly unfavourable result, at a time when severity of weather and intensity of mental anxiety combined to affect him. On the 23rd of Feb. he was so ill that he transferred all authority in imperial matters to his eldest son Alexander. On the 1st of March his physician ventured to announce to him that his end was approaching; he therefore took farewell of his wife, kissed all his children and grand-children thanked his principal servants for their faithful services; and then lost the power of speech for a few hours. On the 2nd he rallied a little, and regained the power of uttering a few sounds. The last words he was heard to utter were: "Tell Fritz to remain constant to Russia, and not to forget the words of his father." The "Fritz" here mentioned was Frederick William of Prussia; but the real meaning of the word was unknown to all but those immediately concerned. At about noon, the Emperor Nicholas ceased to live. The death of the czar was known in most of the capitals of Europe on the very day on which it occurred.
Negotiations were in progress at the time when the Emperor Nicholas died ; and Lord John Russell, who was empowered to negotiate on the part of Great Britain, was on his way to Vienna when that event took place. These negotiations at Vienna, like former ones, ended without coming to any satisfactory issue. The demands of Prince Gortchakoff on the part of Russia were so imperious, that the other negotiators could not acquiesce in them.
During the time Lord Derby was in power a militia-bill was passed in parliament, empowering them to raise a force numbering 80,000 militia, the period of whose service was to be five years. When war began, the militia were embodied, and in December, 1855, an act was passed enabling the government to send militia regiments to render garrison duty at Gibraltar, Malta, and Corfu, in order that the regular troops might be placed at the disposal of the commander at the seat of war: every militiaman exercising a choice whether he would volunteer into this special service. The halo of glory thrown around the soldier's life by the deeds of Alma and Inkermann, together with the increased bounty, enabled the government to obtain a considerable increase both in the regular army and the militia. Strengthened as it was by recruits to the regular regiments, and furnished with a reserve of disciplined soldiers by the embodiment of gradually augmenting in amount during the progress of the war—the British army was nevertheless placed in a position for receiving still further numerical power, by the formation of a Foreign Legion.
When the Aberdeen government brought forward a measure for sanctioning the raising of a foreign legion, the bill was received with little favour. In parliament and by the public press it was regarded by many as dishonouring to the British nation: as a virtual confession that we could not honestly fight our own honest battles by our own resources. The Earls of Derby, Ellenborough, and Malmesbury opposed it in the Lords; while the opponents in the Commons comprised many of the Conservative and Liberal parties, who joined their votes on this occasion. Nevertheless, the bill passed, probably because the ministers threatened to resign if defeated. The act empowered the Queen to raise a legion expressly for foreign service; it limited the number in England at any one time to 10,000; it declared that the legion was to be commanded and officered by foreigners, with certain stipulations concerning pay and rank; and it limited the application of the act to a period not later than one year after the ratification of a definitive treaty of peace with Russia. The measure, however, never met with a warm response from the nation; and, on account of the epithets which had been used by many when speaking of the recruits offering for this arm of the service, volunteers were very tardy in coming forward. Enlistment in foreign countries was much opposed by the officials in many nations, and brought the British government into much obloquy; even endangering the friendly relations which existed between England and America.
Camps were formed at Chobham, Aldershott Heath, and Shorncliffe, chiefly for the purpose of training and inuring the troops to endure camp life in foreign countries. The camp at Shorncliffe was confined to the bivouacking of the Foreign Legion; the men being mostly obtained from North Belgium, Germany, and Holstein; and, being principally composed of men who had before been in service, all speedily assumed a respectable military appearance.
In addition to strengthening the army in its general organization, there were two new corps added to it; those were the Army Works and the Land Transport Corps. Besides the regular military duties devolving upon the troops, the men had been harassed and fatigued by hard work not altogether within their province, such as mending roads, building hovels, carrying heavy burdens, and various other duties, not altogether connected with the duties usually expected of soldiers. The formation of those two corps was intended to relieve the regular soldier from these onerous and fatiguing duties ; and to assist the rail way in conveying stores and provisions to the camps.
There were two other additions to the army constructed during 1855; but, as their services were not much required, little will be said regarding them. These were the Turkish and Sardinian Contingents, composed of men from various countries: the Turkish Contingent, however, did not progress very favourably, but the Sardinian one assumed a very respectable appearance.
In the beginning of May, General Canrobert resigned the command of the French army, preferring the subordinate office of general-of-division to the more important one of Commander-in-chief. He still remained with the army in the Crimea. The command was conferred on Marshal Pelissier, whose military qualifications were of the highest order; and many now expected that the capture of Sebastopol would speedily be accomplished.
To return to the operations of the Siege. The month of May was signalized by many important events.
On the night between the 21st and 22nd the French attacked the Russian ambuscades situated on their extreme left, in front of the Central Bastion. The Russians made an energetic defence, and the works were taken and retaken five times. On the morning following, our allies attacked the works again, and carried them. The loss of the French amounted to 600 killed and 2000 wounded; that of the Russians was estimated at 1600 killed and 6000 wounded. General Pelissier states that 1200 dead bodies were given up to the Russians during a short truce which he granted.
Two days after this victory the Allies took possession of the heights of the Tchernaya, the enemy making no resistance.
But still more important events took place on the Sea of Azof. On the 22nd a fleet of English and French vessels, under the joint command of Sir E. Lyons and Admiral Bruat, and accompanied by a force of 15,000 troops and five batteries of artillery, under the command of Sir George Brown, left the anchorage off Sebastopol, and proceeded towards Kertch, arriving there at early dawn on the birthday of her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen, both army and navy confidently anticipating a successful celebration of that auspicious day. The fleets steamed rapidly up to Kamiesh, where the army landed under cover of the guns of the steam-frigates, and immediately ascended the heights without opposition, whilst the steamers of of light draught of water pushed on towards Kertch and Yenikale; and the enemy, apparently taken by surprise at the rapidity of these movements, and at the imposing appearance of the expedition, blew up his fortifications on both sides of the straits, mounting not less than fifty guns (new and of heavy calibre), which fell into the possession of the Allies, and retired, after having destroyed three steamers and several other heavily-armed vessels, as well as large quantities of provision, ammunition, and stores—thus leaving the Allies masters of the entrance into the Sea of Azof, without our having sustained any loss whatever.
As the disembarkation was unopposed, in consequence of the fire of the steam-frigates having arrested the advance of the enemy, there was no field for the gallantry that animated every one in the expedition ; but the duties they had to perform were very arduous. An incident occurred during the day that called forth the admiration of both fleets, and which deserves to be particularly noticed. Lieutenant M'Killop, whose gun-vessel, the Snake, was not employed like others in landing troops, dashed past the forts after an enemy's steamer, and although he soon found himself engaged not only with her but also with two others who came to her support, he persevered, and, by the cleverness and extreme rapidity of his manoeuvres, prevented the escape of all three, and they were consequently destroyed by the enemy; and the Snake had not a man hurt, though shot passed through the vessel.
Had this expedition been deferred but a short time longer, there would have been many and great difficulties to overcome, for the enemy was actively employed in strengthening the sea defences, and in replacing the sunken vessels which had been carried away by the current during the winter months.
Of the forty vessels sunk the year before, some still remained, and a French steamer touched upon one of them. It appears that the enemy did not succeed in destroying the coals either at Kertch or Yenikale, so that about seventeen thousand tons remained, which were available for our steamers.
A very short time afterwards an English gun-boat of light draught of water was directed against Yenikale, to cut short the progress of a Russian steam-vessel, which was attempting to make for the Sea of Azof. A serious engagement immediately commenced between the two boats, in which the batteries of Yenikale also took part. The Fulton was brought up, whose guns were quickly directed towards the theatre of the struggle, while she was exposed to a very brisk fire. The Megre was ordered to assist her; and Admiral Lyons, on his side, supported the cannonade. However, the Russian vessel, which was known to carry the treasure of Kertch, escaped, leaving in our hands two craft, laden with valuables and a part of the civil and military archives. But the confusion of the Russians, taken suddenly both by land and sea, became such that they soon gave up a too long resistance, and did not even take the trouble to carry off the wounded that they had brought from Sebastopol. In the course of the day they had set on fire some considerable magazines which they possessed at Kertch.
At last, having evacuated Yenikale, they set fire to a magazine, which contained nearly 60,0001bs. of powder. The concussion was such that several houses were destroyed, and vessels at ten miles' distance felt it.
The enemy lost 160,000 sacks of oats; 360,000 sacks of corn; 100,000 sacks of flour. A foundry of guns and gun-carriages was destroyed.
Three steam-vessels were sunk by the Russians themselves; thirty transports were destroyed, and as many taken. About 200,000 lbs. of powder was destroyed in the several explosions. The guns that fell into our hands numbered from sixty to eighty, and were very fine, and of large calibre.
After taking possession of Kertch and Yenikale, the fleet proceeded to Genitchi, landed a body of seamen and marines, and, after driving the Russian force from the place, destroyed all the depots and vessels laden with corn and supplies for the enemy. In this affair one man only was wounded. On the 26th, the Allied flotilla having appeared before Berdiansik, the enemy set fire to four of their steamers and to some large storehouse. On the following day the Bay of Arabat was visited, but no vessel was seen. The fleet exchanged a brisk cannonade with the forts, and one of its shells blew up a powder magazine. Altogether, the enemy lost, in four days, an immense quantity of provisions, four steamers, and 240 vessels employed exclusively in provisioning the troops in the Crimea.
The bombardment recommenced on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 6th of June. Up till two oclock on that day, active preparations were making in our batteries, but no sign was given to the enemy. The heal was very great; notwithstanding a refreshing breeze which was blowing over the heights, the thermometer, placed on the ground in the open air, indicated a temperature of 95 degrees Fahr. This comparative stillness continued until just two o'clock, when the loud boom of a gun resounded from the French works on Mount Sapoune. This was followed in quick succession by other guns, the shots being discharged against the Kamtchatka Redoubt on the Mamelon Vert. The Russian redoubts on Mount Sapoune (east of Careening Bay) quickly replied. The guns on the left French attack next took up the fire, then our guns on the left attack, and lastly those on our right attack—making altogether 157 guns and mortars on our side, and above 300 on that of the French. The combined roar of the artillery was fearfully grand. In a short space of time, from the French batteries on the sea-shore, to their works on the Inkermann heights, dense columns of white smoke arose, so as almost to form one continuous cloud, veiling every thing beyond from view.
The fire of the Allies was kept up for the first three hours with excessive rapidity, the Russians answering by no means on an equal scale, though with considerable warmth. On our side the predominance of shells was very manifest, and distinguished the present cannonade in some degree even from the last. The superiority of fire over the enemy became apparent at various points before nightfall, especially in the Redan, which was under the especial attention of the Naval Brigade. The Russians displayed, however, plenty of determination and bravado. They fired frequent salvos, at intervals, of four or six guns, and also, by way of reprisals, threw heavy shot up to our Light Division, and on the Picket-house-hill. Shortly after sunset the Russians ceased firing from their batteries. An incessant shelling was kept up all night from our works, to prevent the enemy from repairing damages. So silent were the Russian works that it seemed probable the guns had been drawn from the embrasures and placed behind the parapets, and that the gunners themselves had also retired to places of shelter.
The excitement in both camps throughout the day following was extreme. At noon a deputation of French officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of every regiment of General Bosquet's troops waited on him to state that they wished and desired to be led to the assault. Every one was on the qui vive, and even the artificers attached to each regiment, who generally are exempted from fighting, were under arms. In the afternoon it became known that operations were to commence in earnest in the evening. The French were to assault the Kamtchatcka Redoubt on the Mamelon-hill, and also the redoubts on the east side of Careening Bay. As soon as the Mamelon was secured the English were to take the Quarry work in front of the Redan, and the Russian trenches in front of Frenchman's-hill. The French had served out to them cooked rations for forty-eight hours, and a pint of wine each. All were in high spirits, eager for the struggle, and confident of the result.
At five p.m. the French divisions marched to the attack. The Second Division, with General Carnot in front, led the way. About six or seven hundred yards from the entrance to the Karabelnaia ravine the regiments were halted, and, shortly after, General Bosquet arrived, with his staff, and addressed a few words to each regiment in turn. By each, at the conclusion of his remarks, the General was greeted with loud cheers. The order to move forward was then given. A battalion of the Algerian troops led the way, marching in column of subdivisions. They left behind their white turbans, and wore only the scarlet fez; their blue open jackets, the blue vests, with yellow embroidery, their trousers in ample folds, of the same colour, contracted only at the waist and in the leg, where the yellow leather greaves and white gaiters covered them, their bare necks, their light elastic tread—all presented a perfect picture of manly ease and activity. Their swarthy, and in many instances jet black, countenances beamed with excitement and delight; they gave vent to their feelings in exclamations which only those versed in African warfare are familiar with; and seemed with difficulty to restrain themselves to the measured tread of the march. They were followed by three battalions of the 60th Regiment of the Line. The 3rd Regiment of Zouaves came after—powerful, active, sunburnt Europeans—in their Eastern costume and agile movements seeming the twin brothers of the Algerians who had preceded them. The Chasseurs a pied followed; and three battalions of the 7th Regiment of the Line succeeded. There were about 12,000 men in this division.
The Second Division was scarcely lost to sight in the winding valley of the ravine, when the Fifth Division came in sight. This division, under General Brunet, was arranged to form the working partly, to secure the hold of the Mamelon Vert as soon as the attacking columns had taken it. It included the 4th battalion of the Chasseurs a pied, with the 11th, 25th, 69th, and 16th Regiments of the Line—altogether 10,000 men. At the same time Omar Pasha moved with a force, apparently about 15,000 strong, of Ottomans and Egyptians, and occupied the space on which were formerly encamped the Second British Division and the brigade of Guards, near the Inkermann heights. These troops had come up during the night from the Balaklava plain. They protected the right flank against any attack from the Russian forces encamped on the northern heights and Inkermann mountain, who might, otherwise, with impunity have come up by way of the Inkermann valley, and sought to annoy the troops engaged in the attack on the Russian works in front.
Soon after the French divisions had passed down the ravine, General Pelissier, with General Canrobert and an immense staff, amid loud cheering, rode past the front of the British troops, and going by the right of the Victoria Redoubt, took up his station in a small outwork, made for the purposes of observation, about five hundred yards in advance. From this observatory a full view could be obtained of the operations on the right of the Careening Bay ravine, as well as those immediately against the Kamtschatka redoubt on the Mamelon Vert. Lord Raglan, it was understood, was to take up his position in advance of the Third Division, whence there was a good view of the Quarry in front of the Redan—the more immediate object of the British attack.
At half-past six, four incendiary rockets, the signal for the starting of the attacking columns, took their flight from the Victoria Redoubt. At the signal of the first rocket the troops were all formed, and at the third rocket were seen on the right above Careening Bay, and along the advanced trench at the foot of the Mamelon—a living wall. The fourth rocket had no sooner taken its flight than the parapets were cleared. Forward went the lines, throwing out a cloud of skirmishers. The Russian trenches on the side of the Mamelon Vert were climbed over, trench after trench, apparently without any opposition. Then the steep sides of the hill were mounted. The French were seen in three columns, one ascending towards the west face, another towards the east face of the works, while the third moved directly up towards the face fronting the Victoria Redoubt. But the whole surface of the hill was soon covered with their skirmishers. After one discharge from some of the heavy guns, the Russians got into the embrasures and upon the parapets, and fired a few shots from their rifles, without, seemingly, doing any execution; but the volleys from the skirmishers, or else the consciousness of the inutility of resistance, compelled them quickly to retire. Their force was evidently small. They had not expected an attack at such an hour, by daylight. Nothing could be finer than the " dash" with which the French troops ascended the steep slope—a natural glacis—towards the parapets. The Russians were evidently staggered. At first the Malakoff batteries and the Redan offered no attempt to impede the progress of the assailants. Whether the tremendous fire which was poured against them, from the English batteries of both the left and right attack, restrained them, or whether they were bewildered at the nature of the assault, they scarcely fired a shot while the first columns of French mounted the hill. Presently the French were swarming into the embrasures, mounting on the parapets, and descending into the work. Shortly after the Russians were observed escaping by the way leading from the redoubt towards the hill crowned by the ruins of the Malakoff Tower and the numerous batteries around it.
And now occurred the grand mistake which subsequently entailed a great loss of life among our brave allies. The arrangements had been made for taking and securing the large redoubt on the Mamelon-hill; but it was not intended to go further at that moment. Such, however, was the impetuosity of the troops, such the excitement of the officers and men at their first success, that they could not resist the pursuit of the Russians on the one hand, or the attempt to storm the Malakoff itself. Between the Malakoff and Mamelon hills is a deep saddle-like hollow. Across this saddle, dipping down towards the right of the Malakoff-hill, is the ordinary way of communication between the Marine suburb and Mamelon. In this direction the Russian troops took their flight, and these and their pursuers were soon lost to sight behind the ridge. But the great body of the French troops moved straight across the saddle, and mounted the Malakoff-hill. The Russians, aware of their danger, poured down a heavy fire upon the assailants from the batteries, and apparently brought field-pieces so as to take them in flank. In spite of these, the French still mounted, and at last were seen to reach the abattis work drawn around the hill. So short a distance was this from the lower tier of batteries that the Russians could no longer depress guns sufficiently to bear upon them, and standing upon the parapets they were seen to throw large stones, besides keeping up a heavy musketry fire, against the French. The French had evidently met with a difficulty they could not conquer: they were observed to be looking on all sides for an opportunity of advancing, but yet were unable to move on. Presently a sudden sense of their dangerous position seemed to seize them, and they retired back towards the Mamelon. The Russians by this time had assembled their reinforcements behind the Malakoff works, and, as the French were seen moving down the dip of the saddle towards the Mamelon, these troops were seen to come up in a dense mass, pouring a heavy flanking fire against the allies. At the same time they came within range of the guns of the works around the Malakoff Tower (the Korniloff Bastion), which, notwithstanding the shower of shell and rockets from our batteries, kept up a galling fire against the French as they retired. Some confusion followed; the Russians followed the French into the Kamtchatka Redoubt, and the latter were next compelled to evacuate it. That was a time of deep anxiety for all who were watching the engagement. But confidence was again resumed, when the French, who had descended the Mamelon-hill, were seen to be steadily reforming in the Russian trenches which surround its base. Up they went again, sending a shower of balls among the Russians, who were now in crowds covering the parapets. The redoubt was fringed with smoke and flames from the fire of the Russian rifles against the French as they mounted the hill, and the hill-side was covered with the fire of the assailants. It was now a few minutes before eight o'clock; a dense bank of black clouds rested on the horizon, and the sun had sunk behind it. The Russians made for some time a gallant resistance, but in vain; as the French mounted they were seen to waver, and just as the French reached the parapets they leaped down and retired. Our allies were again masters of the Mamelon Vert.
While all this was going on, a sharp struggle had ensued between the French and the Russian troops occupying the redoubts on the east side of the Careening Bay ravine. The French had been seen to rush from the right flank of their works, towards the foremost redoubt. In front of this were two large ambuscades and a trench : one volley appeared to be fired by riflemen in the pit, after which they hastily fell back on the redoubt. The contest at the first redoubt was speedily settled; at the second redoubt the resistance was more obstinate. Here the Russians had a deep and secure covered approach, which descended the slope of the cliff, crossed the ravine, and was connected with a like approach from the Mamelon Redoubt. A complete parallel was thus formed. The enemy in the Careening Redoubts were evidently dismayed when they saw the Mamelon Vert fall into the hands of the French, for this principal communication by which supports could arrive to them was thus cut off, and they were not in strength sufficient without reinforcements to resist with effect the overpowering force of their antagonists. They retired, therefore, partly by the covered way, and partly towards the slope of the hill, as it falls upon the roadstead ; and the work remained in the hands of the French. Upwards of 500 prisoners were taken in these redoubts and 73 guns.
As soon as the Mamelon was taken by the French, the order was given by Colonel Campbell for the small force told off for attacking the Quarry to advance. One end of the Quarry, that looking eastward in a direction towards the Malakoff Tower, was connected with three parallels which the Russians had dug in front of the most advanced works, on Frenchman's hill, to prevent our further advance. The large rifle-pit which the Russians contrived to throw up after "Egerton's pit" had been taken from them was connected with the foremost of these parallels. When the order was given for our attacking party to advance, the 88th and 7th rushed out from the right of the zigzag approach on the left of our advanced work, the men of the 47th and 49th Regiments from the left of the approach. While some rushed up the hill towards the Quarry, others took possession of the enemy's rifle-pit and advanced trench. It appeared that the Russians, on seeing the attack of the French against the Mamelon, had moved along their trenches towards the right, where they became connected with the trenches or other works on the Malakoff-hill, so that the left, that side on which our men advanced, was almost wholly deserted. A trifling opposition met with in the Quarry itself was quickly reduced, and our troops congratulated themselves on having gained an easy victory. Carried away by their enthusiasm, they even advanced towards the Redan, and perhaps had they been in force, such was the confusion and alarm of the Russians, they might have carried this important work. As it was, the enemy returned with comparatively powerful reinforcements, and suddenly opened a flanking fire, which compelled our men to abandon the Quarry. It was not armed as had been anticipated. A second time our men moved against this work, and took it from the enemy, who had again entered it; nor was this the last time, for still later in the evening a third contest for its possession took place, which ended, as before, in our being victors, but at a severe expense. No less than eighteen officers, and a large number of men, amounting to upwards of half the original attacking force, were placed hors de combat, including killed and wounded. Colonel Campbell behaved with the most determined gallantry. He was struck no less than four times, once so severely by a musket-ball, which providentially was prevented from inflicting a more serious wound by striking the front of his sword-belt, that he fainted. Nothing but the unflinching bravery of the troops could have enabled them to retain the Quarry after they had wrested it from the enemy. The ground at the back of the Quarry was fortunately found to be loose and soft, so that the working party were enabled to throw up some cover in this direction without much difficulty.
During the night repeated attacks, six in all, were made upon our men in the Quarries, who defended their new acquisition with the utmost courage and pertinacity, and at great sacrifice of life, against superior numbers, continually replenished. The strength of the party told off for the attack was in all only 1000, of whom 600 were in support. At the commencement 200 only went in, and another 200 followed. More than once there was a fierce hand-to-hand fight in the position itself, and our fellows had frequently to dash out in front and take their assailants in flank. In one of the attacks the Russians experienced some difficulty in bringing their men again to the scratch. At length one Russian officer succeeded in bringing on four men, which Corporal Quin, of the 47th, perceiving, made a dash out of the work, and with the butt end of his musket brained one, bayoneted a second, and, the other two taking to their heels, brought in the officer a prisoner, having administered to him a gentle prick by way of quickening his movements.
Russian prisoners and deserters represented the loss to the enemy as being enormous; 25,000 men were spoken about as their loss since the re-opening of the bombardment; 15,000, alone during the attack on tho 7th.
On the 18th of June as attack on the Malakoff and Redan was made by the Allies, which was met by the Russians in a determined and successful manner; the Allies being repulsed, and compelled to retire, suffering great loss.
The original plan of attack contemplated a joint English and French assault of the Malakoff, which, as commanding the Redan and forming the grand key to the whole network of redoubts and batteries in front of the place, would, if taken, have at once rendered the former untenable, and placed the whole town and harbour at the mercy of the captors. For reasons, however, which nobody can understand, this very sensible and apparently most practicable design was abandoned, and the plan was changed into one simultaneous attack of the two great works—the Malakoff being undertaken by the French and the Redan by the English. The first manifest disadvantage of this arrangement was the spreading of our forces over a field of difficulties nearly double in extent, and enabling the enemy to bring a vast number of guns to play against us, which in the former case would not have injured a man. To vastly enhance the chances of failure involved in this plan to ourselves, our whole attacking force, including supports and everybody else, was limited to some 4000 men; whilst the French, with a much juster appreciation of the difficulty that fell to their share, told off 25,000. Of our handful, again, a large portion consisted of raw recruits, recently arrived to fill up the gaps in the regiments selected for the service—regiments which, with one or two exceptions, had borne the whole brunt of our trench fighting, and suffered accordingly.
Though the bombardment had been kept up rigorously during the whole of the 17th, yet night necessarily put a stop to it; and then the Russians were busily engaged in repairing and strengthening their defences; it was therefore arranged by the Allied generals that at daybreak on the 18th a terrific fire of shot and shell should be poured in to render as manvyof the guns as possible incapable of mischief. General Pelissier, however, an hour before daybreak rode over to the English camp, and, in consideration of the number of men he would have in the trenches, requested Lord Raglan to consent to an immediate assault on the Malakoff and Redan as soon as day dawned. lord Raglan consented; and, accordingly, soon after the first streaks of sunlight broke over the horizon, the doomed thousands rushed to defeat and death.
The French plan of assault on the Malakoff appears to have consisted in assailing the work on both flanks simultaneously, and with overwhelming numbers. They found the redoubt swarming with defenders, and guns bristling in every embrasure. The French army of attack was divided into three divisions, headed respectively by General Meyran, General Bronet, and General d'Autemarre, and the intention was to commence operations at three o'clock; but, instead of waiting for the attack, the Russians, at a quarter before three, opened fire on General Meyran's division, placed on the side of the Careening Bay, and decimated it before the two other divisions could recover from their surprise; so that by the time General Pelissier arrived on the ground, which was not till three o'clock, his combinations were irretrievably deranged. So sudden and complete was the destruction dealt on General Meyran's division—the general himself being wounded—that the Russians were able to turn their whole attention on General Bronet, whose division was taken in flank and crippled, and the General killed, by the time the Third Division came up, to be likewise decimated. Thus it was that the Russians took the French by surprise, and were able, as a consequence, to execute the manoauvre which has ever been the aim of great captains, that of beating the enemy in detail.
The manner of the English attack on the Redan was as follows :—The senior brigades of the Light Division, the Second Division, Third Division, and Fourth Division, were to furnish each one column of 1750 men, to whom were joined 60 sailors, and those columns were to be employed against the Redan, and the Cemetery and batteries on the left of the Redan, close to the neck of the Dockyard Creek. The second brigades of these divisions were to be in reserve, and the Guards Brigade and the Highland Brigade were moved up and kept in reserve also for any duty that might occur. The attacking party of the Second Division was the only exception to these rules, as it was formed of broken brigades. Sir George Brown had the direction of the assault. The 1750 men in each instance were formed of 400 men for the assaulting column, a working party of 400 men to cover them in case of a lodgment and to reverse the work, 800 men as a support, and 100 riflemen or sharpshooters preceding the head of the assaulting column to keep down the fire of the batteries and of the enemy's Chasseurs, and 50 men carrying woolpacks to bridge over the ditches. To these were added 60 sailors, bearing scaling-ladders. The Light Division column was to attack the right of the Redan at the re-entering angle; the Second Division column was to attack the apex after the Light Division and Fourth Division had gained the flanks, and effected a junction along the base of the works, when they were to prevent the consequences of forcing a strong body of the enemy from the flanks into the angle of the Redan. The attacking column of the Light Division was furnished by the 7th Fusiliers, 23rd Welsh, 33rd Regiment, and 34th Regiment. The storming party was led by Colonel Yea, of the 7th. The 19th, 77th, and 88th Regiments, or the Second Brigade, were in reserve, under Colonel Shirley. Soon after twelve o'clock they moved down from camp and took ground in the trenches under the direction of Major Halliwell, the deputy Assistant Quartermaster General of the Division. The Second Division was on their left, the Fourth Division on the left of the Second Division, and the Third Division on the extreme left. The movement was simultaneous, and the troops moved off together till they came into the trenches, from which they were to issue forth to attack the dark wall of earth serrated with embrasures before them.
As the 34th Regiment advanced, the supports by some means or another got mixed together with them, and some confusion arose in consequence. On crossing the trench, our men, instead of coming upon the open in a firm body, were broken into twos and threes. This arose from the want of a temporary step above the berme, which would have enabled the troops to cross tho parapet with regularity; instead of which they had to scramble over it as well as they could; and as the top of the trench was of unequal height and form, their line was quite broken. The moment they came out of the trench the enemy began to direct on their whole front a deliberate and well-aimed mitraille, which increased the want of order and unsteadiness caused by the mode of their advance. Poor Colonel Yea saw the consequences too clearly. Having in vain tried to obviate the evil caused by the broken formation and confusion of his men, who were falling fast around him, he exclaimed, "This will never do! Where's the bugler to call them back ?" But, alas! at that critical moment no bugler was to be found. The gallant old soldier by voice and gesture, tried to form and compose his men, but the thunder of the enemy's guns close at hand, and the gloom of early dawn frustrated his efforts; and, as he rushed along the troubled mass of troops which were herding together under the rush of grape, and endeavoured to get them into order for a rush at the batteries, which was better than standing still or retreating in a panic, a charge of the deadly missile passed, and the noble soldier fell dead in advance of his men. In the 34th, Captain Shiffner and Capt. Robinson were killed close by their leader, and in a few moments Captain Dwilt, Captain Jordan, Captain Warry, Lieutenant Peel, Lieutenant Alt, Lieutenant Clayton, and Lieutenant Harman, of the same regiment, fell more or less wounded to the ground. Altogether the division lost upwards of 320 men killed and wounded, and it suffered severely as it retired from the futile attack. The signal for our assault was to be given by the discharge of two service-rockets, which were to be fired when the French got into the Malakoff, and the latter were to have hoisted a flag as a signal of their success.
It is certain that the French did for a short time establish themselves in the Malakoff, but they were soon expelled with loss, and several persons say that they saw a large triangular blue and black flag waving from the Malakoff all during the fight. The moment the rockets were fired, the Light Division rushed out of cover; and in a quarter of an hour this infantry was over, so far as any chance of success was concerned. Poor Sir John Campbell seems to have displayed a courage amounting to rashness. He sent away Captain Hume and Captain Snodgrass, his Aides-de-Camp, just before he rushed out of the trench, as if averse to bring them into the danger he meditated, and fell in the act of cheering on his men. The 67th, out of 400 men, had more than a third killed and wounded, and it became evident that the contest on the left was as hopeless as the fight on the right, and in fifteen minutes all was over.
The brigade under Major-General Eyre, which was destined to occupy the Cemetery and to carry the Barrack Batteries, consisted of the 9th, 18th, 28th, 38th, and 44th Regiments. Four volunteers from each company were selected to form an advance party, under Major Fielden, of the 44th Eegiment, to feel the way and cover the advance. The 18th Royal Irish followed as the storming regiment. The brigade was turned out at twelve o'clock, and proceeded to march down the road on the left of the Greenhill Battery to the Cemetery, and halted under cover while the necessary dispositions were being made for the attack. General Eyre, addressing the 18th, said, " I hope, my men, that this morning you will do something that will make every cabin in Ireland ring again !" The reply was a loud cheer, which instantly drew on the men a shower of grape. The skirmishers advanced just as the general attack began, and, with some French on their left, rushed at the Cemetery, which was very feebly defended. They got possession of the place after a slight resistance, with small loss, and took some prisoners; but the moment the enemy retreated, their batteries opened a heavy fire on the place from the left of the Redan and from the Barrack Battery. Four companies of the 18th at once rushed out of the Cemetery towards the town, and actually succeeded in getting possession of the suburb. Captain Hayman was gallantly leading on his company when he was shot through the knee. Captain Esmonde followed; and the men, once established, prepared to defend the houses they occupied: As they drove the Russians out they were pelted with large stones by the latter on their way to the battery, which quite overhangs the suburb. The Russians could not depress their guns sufficiently to fire down on our men, but they directed a severe flanking fire on them from an angle of the Redan works. There was nothing for it but to keep up a vigorous fire from the houses, and to delude the enemy into the belief that the occupiers were more numerous than they were. Meantime the Russians did their utmost to blow down the houses, and fired grape incessantly; but the soldiers kept close, though they lost men occasionally, and they were most materially aided by the fire of the regiments in the Cemetery behind them, which was directed at the Russian embrasures; so that the enemy could not get out to fire on the houses below. The 9th Regiment succeeded in effecting a lodgment in the houses in two or three different places, and held their position, as well as the 18th. A sergeant and a handful of men actually got possession of the little Wasp Battery, in which there were only twelve or fourteen Russian artillerymen. They fled at the approach of our men, but when the latter turned round they discovered they were quite unsupported; and the Russians, seeing that the poor fellows were left alone, came down on them and drove them out of the battery. An officer and half-a-dozen men of the same regiment got up close to a part of the Flagstaff Battery, and were advancing into it when they, too, saw that they were by themselves, and, as it was futile to attempt holding their ground, they retreated. About fifteen French soldiers on their left aided them, but as they were likewise unsupported, they had to retire. Another officer with only twelve men took one of the Russian rifle-pits, bayoneted those they found in it, and held possession of it during the day. Meantime, while those portions of the 5th and 18th and parties of the 44th and 28th were in the houses, the detachments of the same regiments and of the 38th kept up a hot fire from the Cemetery on the Russians in the battery and on the sharpshooters, all the time being exposed to a tremendous shower of bullets, grape, round shot, and shell. The loss of the brigade, under such circumstances, could not but be extremely severe. One part of it, separated from the other, was exposed to a destructive fire in houses, the upper portion of which crumbled into pieces or fell in under fire, and it was only by keeping in the lower story, which was vaulted and well built, that they were enabled to hold their own. The other parts of it, far advanced from our batteries, were almost unprotected, and were under a constant mitraille and bombardment from guns which our batteries had failed to touch.
The detachments from the Naval Brigade suffered severely. Two parties of 60 men each were engaged in carrying scaling ladders and wool-bags to place for the stormers; and in this service 14 men were killed and 47 wounded. All the officers but three were either killed or wounded. Lieut. Kidd, in trying to bring in a wounded soldier, was shot in the breast, and died an hour after.
Next morning there was hardly a gun fired on either side; and about twelve o'clock the English hoisted a flag to request the necessary truce for the burial of their dead. The truce was granted, and the dead and wounded were brought in.
During this proceeding a number of Russian officers mingled amongst our party, and, as several of them spoke English fluently, a good deal was said. Their "pumping" inclination, however, was so marked as in most cases to defeat itself: though one of our officers was guilty of the indiscretion of informing a very suave interrogator that their grape did sad injury tc our men in possession of the lately-taken Quarries—a remark which procured his instant order to the rear, by General Airey. It was by one of these polite foes that the inquiry was made of an Englishman whether "our generals had really been drunk or not during the recent assault." The Russians having helped our men to gather in the dead, the whole sad duty was soon performed, and the truce brought to an end.
Sir John Campbell was interred on Cathcart's-hill, his favourite resort, where every one was sure of a kind word and a cheerful saying from the gallant Brigadier. "It was but the very evening before his death," says a correspondent, " that I saw him standing within a few feet of his own grave. He had come to the ground in order to attend the funeral of Captain Vaughan, an officer of his own regiment (the 38th), who died of wounds received two days previously in the trenches, and he laughingly invited one who was talking to him to come and lunch with him next day at the Club-house of Sebastopol."
List of British officers killed on the 6th, 7th, and 18th of June:—Capt. G. Dawson, Lieut. T. G. Lowry, Royal Engineers; Capt. B. H. E. Miller, 2nd Bat. 1st Foot; Lieut. H. M, Lawrence, 34th; Lieut. Richard J. T. Stone, 55th; Major W. F. Dixon, Capt. J. B.Foster, 62nd; Lieut. James Marshall, 68th; Brevet-Major Edward Bayley, Capt. Edward Corbett, Captain Jackson Wray, Lieut. E. H. Webb, 88th; Major-Gen. Sir J Campbell, Bart.; Lieut. J. W. Meurant, 18th; Lieut. O.G. S.Davies, 38th; Capt. Frederick Smith, 9th; Capts. Bowes Fenwick, Hon. C. Agar, F. W. Caulfield, 44th; Capt. J. L. Croker, 17th; Lieut.-Col. Thomas Shadforth, Lieut. J. C. Ashwin, 57th; Colonel L. W. Yea, Lieut. J. S. Hobson, 7th; Lieut. V. Bennett, 33rd.; Capts. John Shiffner, F. Hurt, Lieut. H. D. Alt, 34th; Capt. E. F. Forman, Second Bat. Rifle Brigade; Capt. Wm. Jessie, Lieuta. James Murray, T. Graves, Royal Engineers.