Preliminary Operations - Embarkation of English and French Troops and Material to the East - Strategy and Instructions of the French Emperor - Malta - Gallipoli - Scutari - Constantinople - Varna - Operations on the Black Sea - Bombardment of Odessa - Loss of the Tiger, etc.
Few, who took an active part in the great struggle which prevailed in Europe, during several years at the commencement of the present century, are now connected with the British army; yet there are a few. And now, how changed the scene and the circumstances ! Then, Englishmen and Frenchmen stood opposed to each other in deadly fight; bitter animosity rank, ling in the bosom of each. Now, the stolid and resolute Englishman grasps the hand of the light-hearted and brave Frenchman, and mutually they fraternize side by side in the conflict of protecting the weak against the strong and overbearing. What a great and glorious contrast! Long may the alliance betwixt these two great powers continue! And may the Almighty avert any untoward circumstance ever severing it!
England had enjoyed so many years of peace; and during those years had been so materially reducing her warlike establishment, both in the army and navy, that she was indifferently prepared to enter upon a great war. However, operations were commenced; and the first part of these operations related to the strategical plans. After due consideration, it was resolved that both powers should despatch fleets to the Baltic and Black Sea; that both should send armies to Turkey, there to be employed as circumstances should suggest: and that the forces of both powers should act together—sharing the cost and dangers equally—earning equally any glory which might accrue from the struggle—and contributing equally to the liberation of Turkey from the trammels of Russia,and Europe generally from the baneful influence of the czar's power.
Sir J. Burgoyne and other distinguished engineer officers were sent out to Turkey, in order to reconnoitre and arrange proper situations for the reception and location of the army.
Though the navy of this country may be considered the most powerful arm of the service, yet, in 1854, the transport service was in a woefully inefficient state. Government, therefore, being almost wholly unprovided with the means of transport to the East, tenders were sought from such shipowners as would undertake the service. In order to greater expedition, steamers were selected in preference to sailing vessels; and for this reason a great amount of steam-power was called into immediate use. But this was found to be so costly, that sailing-vessels were made use of for transporting the artillery and heavy stores. During the month of February, the Admiralty was required to furnish means for transporting 509 officers, 10,933 men, 272 women, 12 children, 1598 horses, 750 tons of camp equipage, 850 tons of baggage, 989 tons of ordnance, 1088 tons of provisions. This may appear a small army, yet there was an enormous weight of material belonging to it; and when it is considered that this had to be transported a distance of 3,000 miles to reach the Black Sea, it will be seen that it was no light undertaking. The government afterwards purchased two noble steamers, the Himalaya and the Prince belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam-navigation Company.
At the commencement of the year 1854, the British army, besides the Guards composing the Household Brigade, consisted mainly of 100 regiments of the line, including the rifle brigade, together with 8 local corps.
The cavalry, including 7 regiments of dragoon-guards, made up 23 regiments. The artillery numbered 14 battalions. The 23 regiments of dragoons, light dragoons, dragoon-guards, hussars, and lancers, together with the horse-guards and 2 regiments of life-guards, supplied about 12,500 sabres ; the regiments of the line, with the grenadiers, coldstreams, fusileers, and rifles, amounted to about 105,000 infantry. Making allowance for certain deductions, the effective army, at the end of 1853, barely exceeded 100,000. It was augmented, however, shortly before the commenceiient of the war, by 10,000 and 15,000; and in that state it consisted of 4600 commissioned officers, and 123,000 non-commissioned officers and privates.
The English portion of the Allied Army was placed under the command of Lord Raglan, who, as Lord Fitzroy Somerset, had during many years been military secretary to the Duke of Wellington. The Duke of Cambridge, the Earls of Cardigan and Lucan, Generals Brown, Evans, England, Bentinck, Scarlett, Campbell, and Pennetiather, were among the chief officers appointed to the expedition.
There was great excitement when the various regiments began to leave the shores of Old England for their destination in the East. So long a period had elapsed since the din and turmoil of war had been heard in England, that a new generation had sprung up, whose knowledge of the costs and horrors of warfare was little other than traditionary. Two months elapsed before any cavalry left England, for it was doubtful whether it would be transported through France, or round by way of Gibraltar; but the infantry began to depart at the end of February—a month before the actual declaration of war. As regiment after regiment embarked, cheers, tears, good wishes, high hopes, accompanied them. The Fusileers, quartered in the Tower, were among the first to depart; and when the cavalcade, headed by the band playing inspiriting airs, emerged from the old fortress, and threaded its way through the busy streets of the metropolis, countless thousands watched and greeted the Boldiers as they passed—not that all understood the real nature of the quarrel which was to issue in battling ; for many of the soldiers could never comprehend why they were called upon to fight against an emperor, merely because that emperor had behaved wrongfully towards the sultan. Setting politics aside, however, the troops, actuated by an esprit de corps, departed cheerfully for the East, resolved to maintain the honour of their flag and country in any contests in which they might be engaged. Southampton was one of the chief ports of departure; and the military value of railways was fully experienced in the facility with which troops were conveyed from London and the heart of England to that port. Cork was the chief place of embarkation for the troops despatched from Ireland. Liverpool was another scene of active operations. The embarkation of the 88th was one only among many exciting scenes which that town displayed during the early spring. The regiment arrived at Liverpool by railway from Preston, and marched through the streets to the landing-stage. The troopa were in high spirits; but there was the usual drawback to their enthusiasm. " A number of women, the wives and sweethearts of the men, were taking their adieus; and it was most painful to witness their unrestrained grief, ahd the efforts of the men to comfort them. A few minutes before one o'clock, the order was given to march; the band playing several bars of St. Patrick's Day, and the multitude cheering heartily as they set out. In defiling through the streets, old men, women, and young boys, jostled with each other, and struggled for the honour of shaking hands with the troops, who were greeted with good wishes from all sides."
The Ripon steamer was one of the first which conveyed troops to Malta, on their way to the East, This fine vessel, belonging to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam-navigation Company, made the passage from Southampton to Gibraltar in five days. Each day the men were exercised at Minie- rifle shooting, firing at a target hanging from the end of one of the ship's yards ; while in the evening, soldiers and sailors joined in dancing and singing. As with the Grenadiers on board the Ripon, so with the Coldstream Guards on board the Orinoco, all went well, under the care of the commanders of those vessels. It was on the 2nd of February that these two vessels, accompanied by the Manilla, received detatchments of the Household troops at Southampton; and on the 23rd, all three started for Gibraltar, in the midst of a rough sea, which tried the patience and good-humour of the men.
The embarkation of the Highlanders drew together an immense concourse of spectators. From the citadel at Plymouth to the gates of the Royal Victualling Yard, thousands of persons assembled previous to the time fixed for the departure of the regiment; and when the men appeared, the greatest enthusiasm was manifested. The weather was remarkably fine, and numerous boats and small vessels were on the waters, filled with gaily-dressed people; the bands of the Royal Marines, and the 20th Regiment, played the rare old Scottish tune of " Auld Lang Syne," and the martial strains of " Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled." But amid all the enthusiasm exhibited as the steamers moved off and rounded the point opening into Plymouth Sound, where lay the Himalaya, there was much sadness and distress—sorrowful women, whose downcast looks and tearful eyes betokened that it was no high holiday for them.
Malta became a place of much excitement and importance. Steamer after steamer arrived, loaded with troops and war materials, until the island was full to repletion. Valetta, the chief town, became busy as a fair, and the Maltese reaped a rich harvest from their visitors.
France, being more of a military nation than England, had a far larger army ready to enter on a campaign. It was estimated that the French army amounted at this time to 300,000 men, and 60,000 horses; besides a large reserve, that could be made available, if necessary.
The strategical plan marked out by the French government, probably with the consent of their English allies, was contained in the instructions drawn up by the Emperor of the French, for the guidance of Marshal St. Arnaud, to whom the command was given. The principal paragraphs of these instructions, which were dated the 12th of April, 1855, were the following:—
" In placing you, marshal, at the head of a French army, to fight at a distance of more than 600 leagues from our mother-country, my first recommendation is to have a care for the health of the troops, to spare them as much as possible, and to give battle only after having made sure first of, at least, two chances out of three for a favourable result.
" The peninsula of Gallipoli is adopted as the principal point of disembarkation, because it must be, as a strategical point, the basis of our operations—that is to say, the place d'armes for our depots, our ambulances, our provision-stores, and whence we may with facility either advance or re-embark. This will not prevent you on your arrival, should you deem it advisable, from lodging one or two divisions in the barracks which are either to the west of Constantinople or at Scutari.
" As long as you are not in presence of the enemy, the spreading of your troops cannot be attended with inconvenience, and the presence of your troops at Constantinople may produce a good moral effect; but if, perchance, after having advanced towards the Balkan, you should be constrained to beat a retreat, it would be much more advantageous to regain the coast of Gallipoli than that of Constantinople; for the Russians would never venture to advance from Adrianople upon Constantinople, leaving 60,000 good troops on their right. If, nevertheless, there should be the intention of fortifying the line from Kara-su, in front of Constantinople, it should only be done with the intention of leaving its defence to the Turks alone; for, I repeat it, our position would be more independent, more redoubtable, when on the flanks of the Russian army, than if we were blockaded in the Thracian peninsula.
"This first point established, and the Anglo-French army once united on the shores of the Sea of Marmora, you must concert measures with Omar Pacha and Lord Raglan for the adoption of one of the three following plans:—
"1. Either to advance to meet the Russians on the Balkan.
" 2. Or to seize upon the Crimea.
" 3. Or to land at Odessa, or on any other point of the Russian coast of the Black Sea.
" In the first case, Varna appears to me the most important point to be occupied. The infantry might be taken there by sea, and the cavalry more easily, perhaps, by land. On no account ought the army to go too far from the Black Sea, so as to be always in free communication with its fleet.
" In the second case, that of the occupation of the Crimea, the place of landing must first be made sure of, that it may take place at a distance from the enemy, and that it may be speedily fortified, so as to serve as a point d'appui to fall back upon in case of a retreat.
" The capture of Sebastopol must not be attempted , without at least half a siege-train and a great number of sand-bags. When within reach of the place, do not omit seizing upon Balaklava, a little port situated about four leagues south of Sebastopol, and by means of which easy communications may be kept up with the fleet during the siege.
" In the third case, my principal recommendation is —never to divide your army; to march always with all your troops united, for 40,000 compact men, ably commanded, are always an imposing force; divided, on the contrary, they are nothing.
" If compelled, on account of scarcity of provisions, to divide the army, do so in such manner as always to be able to unite it on one point within twenty-four hours.
" If, when marching, you form different columns, establish a common rullying-point at some distance from the enemy, that none of them may be attacked singly.
" If you drive back the Russians, do not go beyond the Danube, unless the Austrians enter the lists.
" As a general rule, every movement must be concerted with the English Commander-in-chief. There are only certain exceptional cases, where the safety of the army might be concerned, when you might act on your own resolution."
The French Southampton and Liverpool were Toulon and Marseilles in the stirring spring of 1854. The French, being much more au fait in. military matters than the English, proceeded in their plans systematically and quickly. About the end of March the embarkation commenced; 20,000 troops and a large number of horses were despatched on board 25 or 26 vessels, the whole of them sailing within a few days of each other; and other contingents took their departure at a later date. The men were generally despatched from Toulon, the cavalry horses, munitions, provisions, and camp material, from Marseilles.
By an arrangement between the two governments, Malta was adopted as a midway resting-place for a few of the French troops, in addition to the English who had arrived; and thus the island became still more animated and bustling. The Christophe Colombe and Mistral, which had left France on the 19th of March, arrived at Malta on the 23rd, bringing Generals Canrobert, Bosquet, and Martemprey, about 50 other officers, and 800 or 900 soldiers. It was a singular scene to the men. Malta had perhaps never before been visited by English and French troops at the same time, except during the heat and strife of war; and the soldiers now gazed upon each other with surprise. The dress of the Highland regiments was a strange garb to the eyes of the French troops, while the Arab-like Zouaves of the French was no less surprising to the English. But these feelings soon gave way to enthusiasm; for the troops " fraternised" with each other in a cordial and hearty manner, and the national anthems, God save the Queen, and Partant pour la Syrie, were exchanged from ship to ship, and band to band, in complimentary style. The Zouaves were originally a tribe of Arabs, in or near the regency of Algeria. When the French took possession of that country, some of the Zouaves consented to join their army; and, being fearless, active, and dashing fellows, they became great favourites: young Parisians joined their corps, though in distinct companies; and by degrees there was formed a regular branch of infantry under the name of Zouaves— French in composition but Arab in dress—and suited for a particular kind of service in active warfare.
The stay of the French troops at Malta was merely temporary, a day or two, and then they would proceed on their voyage. The beginning of April found French as well as English soldiers tossing on a frequently boisterous sea, towards the Dardanelles. The officers reached their destination in many ways—some via Marseilles and Malta, some by the way of Vienna and Trieste, while others took the sea-route from Southampton to Gibraltar and the Levant.
A strange scene was presented to the Turks when the Allies took possession of Gallipoli. This place had been chosen rather hastily, it was thought, as the centre of operations, or, at all events, as the depot of the expeditionary French and English forces. It is a miserable den, a horrible conglomeration of dirty slipshod Turks, dirty Jews, and cunning Greeks; and is situated on the European side of the Dardanelles, at the nearest extremity of the strait, just where it commences to expand into the Sea of Marmora.
From the sea Gallipoli looks like a congregation of red-roofed barns. It is a place much exposed to the sun, but the camping ground beneath the hills is considered healthy, while it is an excellent spot in relation to the defence of Constantinople, where the army could be transported with extreme celerity. But it is not a place fitted to be a centre of action. It is almost on the narrowest portion of the spot of land which, running between the Gulf of Saros on the west and the Dardanelles on the east, forms the western side of the strait. An army encamped here commands the Egean and the Sea of Marmora, and could be easily marched northward to the Balkan, or despatched to Asia or Constantinople. Besides, it is a bad place to obtain provisions, fodder, and horses. Food is dear, and the collection of so large a body of men in so poor a district is inconvenient.
The French, who are the best foragers in the world, having arrived first at Gallipoli, were at once actively engaged in looking up the good things of this earth. They chose the Turkish quarter which is friendly; while the English were put in the Greek quarter, filled by a population burning with hatred for Turks and all friends of Turks.
Following up the search for lodgings, the newly arrived from England or France must hunt up water; and such is the scarcity of attendants, that we are credibly informed, on the very best authority, that the correspondent of the Times was seen walking up the street to his residence with a sheep's liver on a stick, some lard in his hand, and a loaf of black bread under his arm. Butter there is none, meat but little, fish unknown, wine good, and eggs come in great plenty.
The French, however, at once established coffee-houses, restaurants, etc., which was a great convenience to the officers. They enjoyed great advantage from the fact that the local languages are better understood by them than by us. They also had the advantage of choice of situation and the usual reward of being " first come." They are, moreover, not so strictly particular as the British, and under any difficulties try the effect of kicks and blows rather freely upon the natives. " Sometimes our servant," says an Englishman, "is sent out to cater for breakfast or dinner—he returns with the usual, 'Me and the colonel's servants have been all over the town, and can get nothing but eggs and onions, sir/—and lo! round the corner appears a red-breeched Zouave, or chasseur, a bottle of wine under his left arm, half a lamb under the other, and finally, fish and other luxuries dangling round him—'I'm sure I don't know, how these French in Algiers have got used to this sort of thing. They have published a tariff of prices, which the natives know nothing about; but that is no matter. A chasseur sees a fowl, he snatches hold of it, gives the owner a franc, and without caring for his rage and fury, marches off and devours his prize. The English pay dearer for every thing and can get no poultry at all. But it is already certain that the English will be more popular than the French, from this very consideration of character. The French have little respect for the dead, and they have already outraged the feelings of Gallipoli by making a road through a cemetery, knocking down tombstones, turning up skulls, and scoffing over their work with pipes in their mouths. The natty little vivandiers are of considerable use to the French army."
By the 21st of April there were 22.000 French and 5000 English soldiers in the peninsula, cooped up in quarters ill prepared for their reception. Gallipoli presented at that time a motley spectacle to the troops which successively arrived. The elements of the East and the West were there, mingled in utter confusion.
The English officers and men complained strongly of the privations and discomforts to which they were subjected. Rustum Pasha, the Turkish governor, effected all that good-will could accomplish; but he could not render Gallipoli suddenly capable of accommodating twice its ordinary number of inmates.
At a later period, when complaints reached the home-government, flat contradictions were frequently given in parliament concerning their truth; and it appears that if the government machinery had been fitted for harmonious working, many of the discomforts ought not to have been experienced; but it was the want of harmony which lay at the root of the evil. The Duke of Newcastle, when examined before the Sabastopol Committee, was asked whether, in his capacity as minister of war, he had sought information as to the capabilities of Turkey to furnish supplies for the wants of the army, to which he replied :—
" Directions were given to the commissariat officers, who were sent out at the very commencement—on the 7th or 8th of February. Inquiries as to the capabilities of the country were not, in the first instance, made in Bulgaria, but were confined to Roumelia— the first object being to send troops to Gallipoli. Commissary-general Smith was sent from Corfu, he being to a certain extent acquainted with the languages of the East, Greek and Italian. He had provided, I believe, generally speaking, sufficient supplies before the arrival of any troops at all at Gallipoli. It was in consequence of the recommendation of Sir J. Burgoyne, on strategical grounds, that Gallipoli was occupied; that officer's opinion being confirmed by that of Colonel Ardent, who had been sent by the Emperor of the French for a similar purpose.
" What steps were taken to prepare for the reception of troops at Gallipoli ?—Instructions were given to the commissariat, who were informed of the number of troops for whom they would have to provide.
" Did you receive information that they had provided for the wants of the army when it came ?—I did not receive any such information from the commissariat directly. It was not then under me. The commissariat corresponded with the Treasury, and from the latter department I received information of its movements. I should say vast supplies of all kinds were sent from England.
" What supplies did you expect to find in the country where the army was to be sent ?—Principally fresh meat, and, of course, bread to the greatest extent to which it could be obtained. In apprehension of the possibility of the supply of bread there failing, a large supply of biscuit was sent out from this country.
"As to forage for horses ?—I considered that ought to be provided in that country, but provision was nevertheless made for sending out provision from England. I apprehend none of that hay was landed at Gallipoli, as it was sent from here in sailing-vessels, which would not arrive until after the troops had left Gallipoli. No cavalry was landed at that place.
" But the infantry had all their wants supplied at Gallipoli?—At first there were complaints: but, to the best of my recollection, more of want of transport than of provisions."
Many letters from officers and men found their way into the newspapers: one of which we present as a specimen of most of the others:—
" Camp, Gallipoli, April 18.
" Our encampment is very wretched, and hardly anything except the men's rations to be got to eat; no beer, or anything but rum—" one gill," the same as the men. The commissariatis dreadfully managed: nothing of any sort. The French have everything—horses, provisions, good tents, and every kind of protection against contingencies. Tomorrow morning, we march at six o'clock to another encamping-ground, where we are to throw up trenches, and remain two months; it is about seven miles from this place; the ground is beautifully situated, overlooking the Bay of Gallipoli. It would be a good lesson for some of our government to take a lesson from the French: the care and attention paid to their troops are perfect. I bad to purchase a mule, and pay £11 for him. Everything is dear. I cannot get any tea to drink; I should have found it a great comfort. The streets are horrible and the town is bad. I never saw anything to equal it anywhere. We are all obliged to sit on the ground, and eat what we can. My breakfast consists of a piece of brown bread—no butter, and no milk: and till yesterday our men got no breakfast. We get eggs, and they are the only things to stand by at present, as the meat served out is so bad no one can touch it. We have no potatoes, or any other kind of vegetables, except onions. It is really more than a joke, and all owing to the very bad management of our commissariat department."
Thus we see that the commissariat, whether in fault or not, had to bear the burden of censure—a burden which those officers felt to be exceedingly unjust. A private in one of the regiments wrote home thus:" The French are one hundred years in advance of us in regard to military equipments for the field.We are loaded like packhorses, with our knapsacks, cross-belts, with sixty rounds of ammunition, haversack, and an article termed a 'canteen', shaped like a butter firkin, which would wear out a pair of trowsers in a month. We were nicely fooled at home as to getting all the things furnished to us at about cost-price. We were to get the best London porter at 4d. per quart— I have not seen a drop of porter since I came here." This "London porter" grievance was bitterly dwelt upon by the men; owing to clumsy management, the casks of porter were far away from the spot where the beverage was needed.
The principal portion of the army remained idle for several weeks in and near Gallipoii. This idleness was, however, not shared in by the sappers and engineers, who were employed in forming a series of field-works and intrenchments across the peninsula. English and French troops worked in turn to construct these works. The French camp was not far distant from that of the English; and there was daily rounds of visitings between the troops of the two nations. The novelty of the alliance raised a doubt in the minds of some concerning the light in which the soldiers would regard each other; and Lord Raglan judged it prudent to issue the following order:—
" The commander of the forces avails himself of the earliest opportunity to impress upon the army the necessity of maintaining the strictest discipline; of respecting persons and property, and the laws and usages of the country they have been sent to aid and defend , particularly avoiding to enter mosques, churches, and the private dwellings of a people whose habits are peculiar and unlike those of other nations of Europe. Lord Raglan fully relies on the generals and other officers of the army to afford him their support in the suppression of disorders; and he confidently hopes that the troops themselves, anxious to support the character they have acquired elsewhere, will endeavour to become the examples of obedience, order, and of attention to discipline, without which success is impossible, and there would be evil instead of advantage to those whose cause their sovereign has deemed it proper to espouse. The army will, for the first time, be associated with an ally to whom it has been the lot of the British nation to be opposed in the field for many centuries. The gallantry and high military qualities of the French armies are matters of history; and the alliance which has now been formed will, the commander of the forces trusts, be of long duration, as well as productive of the most important and the happiest results. Lord Raglan is aware, from personal communication with the distinguished general who is appointed to command the French army, Marshal St. Arnaud, and many of the superior officers, that every disposition exists through their ranks to cultivate the best understanding with the British army, and to cooperate most warmly with it. He entertains no doubt that Her Majesty's troops are animated with the same spirit, and that the just ambition of each army will be to acquire the confidence and good opinion of each other." Any doubt on this matter was speedily dispelled ; the troops greeted each other heartily on all occasions; and, indeed, the " fraternisation" was at times so excessive, that a Zouave and a Highlander on one occasion partially exchanged dresses under the influence of an exhilarating cup, and appeared at muster the next morning in strange motley—kilt and baggy red trousers having changed places.
The residence of the troops at and near Gallipoli, gave abundant evidence that the French are far better foragers than the English ; for the French hunted for eggs, caught tortoises, gathered herbs, and made " pottages" which perfectly astonished their Anglican neighbours.
Gallipoli having been found insufficient for the accommodation of all the allied forces, the English, with the exception of 5,000, were sent to Scutari, where the Turkish government had provided for their reception.
The town of Scutari, which is well fortified, is the capital of a pashalic in Albania, one of the most important in European Turkey. It contains a strong citadel on a solitary rock, several mosques, and some Roman Catholic and Greek churches. The greater part of the population are members of the Greek church, and are presided over by a bishop of that church. There is also a Roman Catholic bishop in the place.
Scutari is built in a straggling manner upon uneven ground. The population is about 20,000. They are chiefly employed in making arms, the manufacture of cotton and woollen goods, fishing, timber trade, and the building of small vessels. Near Scutari is the lake of Scutario, about sixteen miles long, and from three to five broad. It is by means of the vessels which ascend the river Bojano to this lake that a great part of the trade of the place is carried on. Scutari occupies the site of the ancient Scodra, the capital of Illyria in the time of King Gentius, which afterwards became a colony of the Roman Empire. When Sir John Hobhouse was on his travels in Albania, about thirty years ago, the power of the chief resident at Scutari was very considerable.
A correspondent wrote the following short note to one of the papers, on the 25th of May: —
" I have just been to see the camp of the English at Scutari, and have took notice of their costume. The officers have rather more of a free-and-easy air about them than accords with very strict notions of military discipline. Whatever complaints may be made of the choking stock, tight buttoning, and the heavy encumbrances of the private soldier, nothing of the sort is applicable to the costume of the officer. On the whole, I am happy to say the English forces are admirably equipped. The camps are pitched in an excellent position, and well supplied with everything needful for health and comfort. If there is a little freedom of manner allowed, it is not carried to an improper extent. While the men are indulged as far as circumstances will permit, they are still kept in perfect discipline and order."
A brief description of Constantinople will not be out of place here.
Constantinople proper is situated on a triangular tongue of land at the south-western outlet of the Thracian Bosphorus. This tongue of land is formed by an arm of the sea, which stretches from this narrow strait almost a mile inland, the northern part being the so-called Golden Horn, the harbour of Constantinople, and the southern shores of the peninsula on which the city stands being washed by the Sea of Marmora. Accordingly the western side of Constantinople stands in connexion with the Thracian mainland, whilst eastward it stretches between the two bodies of water last mentioned, to where the waves of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the Sea of Marmora mingle together.
This powerful quarter of Constantinople, has a circumference of nearly eleven and a half miles, and is surrounded on the land side by a triple wall, built in the Byzantine times, and partly restored by the Turks. This wall is pierced by twenty-eight gates, and nine smaller entrances. Through one of these gates, formerly called the gate of St. Romanus, and now Stop-Kapusi, or Cannon-gate, the Turks first rushed when they captured Constantinople on the 29th of May, 1450.
There are fifteen suburbs to Constantinople, the most celebrated of which are Galata, Pera, Tophavna, Scutari, and Kadikoi. Constantinople proper is built in the form of terraces, on account of the hilly nature of the ground, and accordingly presents, especially on the side towards the Golden Horn, where its seven hills come very prominently into view, a magnificent and picturesque appearance with its countless gardens, mosques, palaces, minarets, and towers. But a closer inspection, to be sure, is only the more disappointing from the meanness and filth which it discloses, even although of late better buildings have been erected, many of which are of stone. The most remarkable edifices are the old and new seraglios (both of them imperial palaces); the mosque of St. Sophia, formerly the church of St. Sophia: the mosques of Soliman, Achmed, Mohammed, Mahmoud, Selim, Bajazet, Osman, and the little church of St. Sophia; the castle of Seven Towers, where, formerly, when the Porte was involved in war with foreign powers, the ambassadors of these powers were received in order to secure them from popular violence; the obelisks of the ancient Hippodrome, the greatest of the public squares in Constantinople, called by the Turks, Atmeidan. The castle of the Seven Towers now serves as an arsenal and powder-magazine. Amongst the monuments may further be mentioned the two great aqueducts, built by the emperors Valens and Justinian; several great reservoirs, including the Cisterna Basilica, with 336 columns, still in good preservation, and the Cistern of Philoxenus, with 224 marble columns; and lastly, the remains of the Byzantine imperial palace, Magnaura. Of the numerous columns of ancient Constantinople there are still preserved that of Constantine, that of Theodosius in the garden of the Seraglio, and that of Marcian. In the suburb of Cassim Pasha is the palace of the Capitan Pasha, and the great arsenal with its magazines and dockyards. The suburb of Galata, inhabited by the European merchants, is the staple place of trade, and contains many strongly-built warehouses and residences. Here also stands the lofty and beautiful lighthouse, whence there is an extensive prospect over land and sea. With the suburbs of Cassim Pasha, Constantinople is joined by three bridges. On the Bospborus lies Top-Kahana, with the imperial cannon-foundry, a beautiful mosque built by Mahmoud II., and an elegant fountain. On the mountain which lies in the rear of this suburb, Pera is built, the ambassadors' quarter, with its fine and magnificent palaces. Here the various elegancies of the west are combined—a good Italian Opera, splendid and convenient hotels, and sumptuous shops of every kind. Besides the Franks, many Greeks and Armenians reside in Pera. The Greeks also form the principal part of the population of Fanar, a quarter of the city which lies along the harbour, as well as the suburb Dimitri. On the other side of the Bosphorus lies Scutari, in the front of which, on the Bosphorus, is situated the Tower of Leander. It was anciently called Damalit, and was rebuilt in 1143 by Manuel Commenus, in order to part off the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn with iron chains. In Eyub, which is inhabited exclusively by the Turks, is the sepulchre of Eyub, the Prophet's standard-bearer, and a mosque in which every successive sultan is girt with the sword of Osman on his accession—a ceremony which amongst the Turks stands in the place of coronation. In this mosque is also deposited the standard of the prophet, the great palladium of the empire, called in Turkish Sandshak-sherif. On the Bosphorus. moreover, are situated the suburbs Dolmabagdsche and Tsheragen, with the superb palaces of the sultan.
The number of houses in the entire city of Constantinople is about 90,000, that of the inhabitants 800,000, only the half of whom profess the religion of Islam. It contains more than three hundred mosques, fourteen Greek churches, nine Catholic churches, with two chapels, and six monasteries, one Anglican, one Scotch, and one other Protestant congregation with their chapels, and numerous Jewish synagogues. Of educational institutions, Constantinople has three hundred medresses in which the Ulemas or Turkish clergy are trained— three hundred and ninety-six maktab, or elementary schools, a marine school; an academy in which instruction is given in mathematics, astronomy, and the science of engineering and artillery; an academy of sciences, a school of medicine, a Greek gymnasium, and a veterinary college. The erection of a university is projected. The benevolent institutions, which are very numerous, consist for the most part of provision stores for the poor, called Imarets. The institutions of the Franks consist of a Societa artigiana di piela, a charity for the support of poor workmen; two German, one English, one French, and an Austrian hospital, in which poor sick persons belonging to the several countries are tended and provided for gratuitously. Constantinople has forty public libraries, thirteen of which are Turkish. It numbers three Turkish and several European printing-offices, in which two Turkish, one French, one Greek, one Armenian, one Bulgarian, and several Italian newspapers, are printed. The number of public baths is nearly three thousand. Barracks, guard-houses, bazaars, mosques, warehouses, hospitals, and coffee-houses, are very numerous.
On the 24th of May, being the Queen's birthday, 15,000 British troops were paraded on the outskirts of Scutari, the spectators being a few Turks, who cared sufficiently about it to walk half a mile, and a large number of foreigners from the opposite side of the Bosphorus. Nearly all the principal officers were present, icluding Lord Raglan, the Duke of Cambridge, the Earl of Lucan, Sir George Brown, Sir De Lacy Evans, Sir Colin Campbell, and Generals Bentinck, Pennefather, Airey, Adams, Buller, &c.
But it was at Constantinople that the gay trappings of war were exhibited in the highest splendour, to the astonishment and admiration of the Turks. This was a review of the French troops.
The following account is from an eye-witness:—" At nine o'clock in the morning an immense crowd hastened from Constantinople to witness a spectacle so unusual in Turkey. Soon after, the troops began to leave their barracks and take up their respective positions on the vast plain between Daout Pasha and the military hospital of Bami Tachiftilik. They formed into two lines on the road which intersects the plain. It was a sight well worth seeing to observe the movements not merely of the troops, but of the numerous spectators. The Turks, both men and women, kept going among the ranks, and examining with ths greatest curiosity the costumes of the soldiers, their arms, and their varied evolutions. Not even the slightest movement escaped their prying observation. The Zouaves from Algeria especially attracted their attention, on account of their Oriental costume. At first they took them for Turks; but when they heard them speak French, they stared with amazement, and went to the Europeans in the crowd, and asked them with a comic sort of simplicity whether the green turbans were really French.
"At about noon Prince Napoleon arrived with a numerous staff of attendant officers, and was the object of much curiosity, on account of the name he bears, as well as the responsible office he fills. An hour after, the cortege of the Sultan was seen in the distance. The prince then drew up with his staff to receive him with due honour. The Sultan came mounted on a splendid horse, with Marshal St. Arnaud on his right hand. After them came a numerous and brilliant suite, consisting of officers of the palace and the marshal's staff. The troops immediately presented arms, and the Sultan halted at the head of the line to salute the prince, and, after conversing with him and the marshal for some time, he passed along to witness the review of the troops, which was accompanied by the music of the band of light infantry. Prince Napoleon continued by the side of Marshal Arnaud. The Sultan passed slowly through all the ranks, stopping every now and then to examine anything that took his attention, and asking questions of the prince and the marshal. He expressed himself highly delighted with the condition and discipline of the troops, and lavished flattering compliments upon their commanders.
" After having carefully observed everything, the Sultan retired to a magnificent tent which had been prepared for his reception. There the lady of Marshal St. Arnaud was presented to him, and received from him every possible mark of attention and respect. Shortly afterwards the troops defiled in front of the tent, under the command of Prince Napoleon. Then came a battalion of Turkish infantry, a squadron of lancers, and two batteries of artillery. When all was over, the Sultan returned to his palace, with Marshal St. Arnaud on his right, and abreast with him. This was the first time that such an honour was ever conferred by any Turkish sovereign, as to allow another to accompany him side by side, and on a level with him. Usually, those who ride with him are a little in advance or behind. It is also the first time that a Sultan wa seen in public, familiarly conversing with Christians. Formerly such a liberty would have been deemed fatal presumption. We cannot but hope that this breakdown of old prejudices and barriers to free communication with Western Europe will be attended with the happiest efforts, not only in Turkey, but also throughout the whole of Europe."
During the stay of the Allied armies at or near Constantinople, many of the Turkish boatmen reaped a rich harvest from the officers belonging to the army. So many courtesies were exchanged between the French officers at Pera, and the English officers at Scutari, that the boatmen were fully employed.
We must now advance a further stage in the proceedings of the Allies, that
is, the expedition to Varna. This Turkish seaport is on the westena shore of the
Black Sea, about 180 miles from Constantinople, 100 north-east of Adrianople, by
land, and 100 south-east of Silistria. The siege of Silistria was taking place
at the time when the Allied army arrived at Varna, and it was partly on that
account that the army moved to Varna. This town bears a somewhat similar
appearance to most others in the Turkish territory—it is crooked, irregular,
dirty, dilapidated, and unfitted for the accommodation of either visitors or the
carrying on of mercantile transactions. Thus the Allies found it when
necessitated to make it a temporary military residence.
The first division of British troops which reached Varna, consisted of the 7th and 23rd Fuslleers, the Connaught Rangers, the rifle-brigade, the 33rd, 77th, and 19th—6000 or 7000 men in all.—These troops were assisted in their disembarkation by the boats of the Allied fleets, which were then stationed near Varna. Other portions of the British army arrived at different times, either from Malta or direct from England. The Himalaya brought 300 or 400 of the 6th Dragoon Guards, with all their horses, direct from Cork to Varna, in the short space of twelve days. There were three camps of the British army—one near Varna; one at Aladyn, nine or ten miles distant; and a third at Devno or Devna, eighteen or twenty miles inland from Varna. Omar Pasha had provided an immense number of horses, oxen, buffaloes, and carts, to assist in conveying stores and provisions from the shore to the camps.
The troops, when they landed at Varna, did not expect that they were to remain in such an unhealthy situation for seventeen weeks. Some of the more experienced officers entertained doubts respecting the salubrity of the places where the camps were pitched ; and when General Canrobert visited the camps afterwards, he expressed an opinion that they were exposed to the liability of malaria, and its attendant agues and fevers.
By the end of June, the neighbourhood of Varna had become one huge camp of 60,000 English, French, and Turks ; while 300 vessels lay in Kavarna Bay, ready to ship English troops from Varna, or French from Baltschik. When the news reached Varna that the siege of Silistria was raised, all hopes of sharing the honour of beating the Russians in that quarter were at an end; and officers and men began to speculate on the future events before them.
Prince Napoleon arrived at Varna in the third week in June, and took the command of one of the French divisions; and fresh acquisitions of English and French troops continued to arrive in the bay. The Duke of Cambridge at first fixed his quarters at Varna, but afterwards camped out near the men of his division.
Great dissatisfaction was manifested by both officers and men belonging to the English army, at the inadequate supplies of almost every requisite necessary for the due performance of military duties. The want of draught-horses or other beasts of burden, was severely felt ; and, of course, the commissariat officers fell in for perhaps more than their merited share of blame. It is therefore nothing but right that an eye-witness should say a word or two in their defence. The Times correspondent at that place wrote:—"A commissariat officer is not made in a day, nor can the most lavish expenditure effect the work of years, or atone for the want of experience. The hardest-working Treasury-clerk—and, I must say, they all evince the greatest zeal and most untiring diligence in the discharge of their duties—has necessarily much to learn ere he can become an efficient commissariat-officer in a country which old campaigners declare to be the most difficult they ever were in for procuring supplies. Let those who have any recollections of Chobham, just imagine that famous encampnient to be placed about ten miles from the sea, in the midst of a country utterly deserted by the inhabitants, the railways from London stopped up, the supplies by cart or waggon cut off, corn scarcely procurable, carriages impossible, and the only communication between camp and port carried on by means of buffalo and bullock arabas travelling about one and a half mile an hour—and they will be able to form some faint idea of the difficulties of getting the requisite necessaries out here. Besides, here we are absolutely at war—obliged to carry enormous masses of ammunition, as well as tents and tent-equipage, provisions for the men, medical stores, all the various articles and means for cooking, &c., through a country which, to all intents and purposes, is held by enemies (in so far as the Bulgarians hate the Turks). To give you a notion of the requirements of such a body as this army of 25,000 men in the field, I may observe that it was stated to me on good authority the other day, that not less than 13,000 horses and mules would be required for the conveyance of baggage and stores. About twelve o'clock today, just as the officers were making preparations for their start tomorrow morning, orders were received countermanding those which had been issued for the march of the division; and it may be inferred, that the difficulties of which I was just writing when the aide-de-camp arrived have been found to be insuperable, and that the commissariat has not been able to provide the means of conveyance for the stores, either of Sir George Brown's or of the Duke of Cambridge's division. To continue my remarks on the nature of these difficulties, I may observe, that not only is it a work of time, labour, and money to find horses, mules, and buffaloes, bullock and araba carts, required for our march, but that when we get them we cannot keep them. Buffalo and bullock carts and their drivers vanish into thin air in the space of a night. A Bulgarian is a human being after all."
On another occasion the same well-informed authority wrote as follows:—"The report in the camp is, that the commissariat declare themselves unable to comply with the requisitions for moving the division, and that therefore we do not move to-morrow, or probably the next day. I regret very much to have to state, thaf for several days last week there was neither rice, nor sugar, nor preserved potatoes, nor tea, nor any substitute for these articles, issued to the men; they had therefore, to make their breakfast simply on ration brown bread and water. The dinners of the men consisted of lean ration-beef boiled in water, and eaten, with brown bread, without any seasoning to flavour it. The supplies ran out, and it was no fault of the commissariat that they did so. Who was to blame, I don't pretend to say, " No one," it is remarked by the same authority, unacquainted with the actual requirements of an army, can form an adequate notion of the various duties which devolve upon an English commissariat-officer, or of the enormous quantity of stores required for the daily use of men and horses. In the middle of July, when most of the troops in the English army were quartered at distances varying from ten to twenty miles from Varna, there were required daily for the men, 27,000 pounds of bread, 27,000 pounds of meat, besides rice, tea, coffee, sugar, &c,: and for the horses, 110,000 pounds of corn, chopped straw, &c."
Besides being responsible for the supply of these immense quantities, the commissariat-officers were burdened by the strange organization of the service, with the duty of providing horses, carts, saddles, tents, and interpreters.
But soon a more severe calamity than occasional want of supplies, visited the army. Disease and death began to spread rapidly throughout the camps.
The troops had been stationed generally in accordance with the advice of Omar Pasha, who had been appealed to on the occasion; though in one single instance some troops were located near to a lake, contrary to his advice; hence arose the commencement of that sickness which proved such a scourge to the Allied armies.
In the middle of June slight sickness was experienced throughout the camps. The French were attacked more severely than the English; and the Turks and Egyptians more severely than either. Numbers of officers, being placed on the sick list, returned home when able to do so. When the heats of July arrived, military ardour was very much damped by disease. The still hotter month of August approached, and sickness increased greatly in the camps. Many were afflicted with cholera; nearly all with diarrhoea. The Duke of Cambridge was among the officers attacked with illness. The First Division, the Light Division, and the Third Division, were all attacked, more or less; and it became a melancholy task for the men to bury their dead companions by dozens and scores. Upon the French, however, the dread disease fell with the greatest severity ; and they sank under it at the rate of 60 to 100 per day. A portion of the French army, under General Canrobert, had gone from Varna to the margin of the Dobrudscha; to these were added 2500 Zouaves, who went by sea from Varna to Kustendji; and these unfortunate troops, passing through a marsh where the Russians had left dead men and horses, were struck down by whole companies. Canrobert left nearly 3000 of his hapless troops in that valley of death.
The French generals, amid these disheartening events, roased up the spirit of their troops by animating proclamations, commending in energetic terms their fortitude and endurance; and bidding them look forward to triumphant success in the cause in which they were engaged. Marshal St. Arnaud issued the following spirited document when the troops were about to leave Varna for the Crimea :—
" Soldiers !—You have just given fine examples of perseverance, calmness, and energy, in the midst of painful circumstances which must now be forgotten. The hour is come to fight and to conquer. The enemy did not wait for us on the Danube. His columns, demoralised and destroyed by disease, are painfully retiring. It, is Providence, perhaps, that has wished to spare us the trial of these unhealthy countries; it is Providence, also, which calls us to the Crimea, a country as healthy as our own, and to Sebastopol, the seat of the Russian power, within whose walls we go to seek together the pledge of peace, and of our return to our homes. The enterprise is grand, and worthy of you. You will realize it by the aid of the most formidable military and naval force that has ever been seen collected. The Allied fleets, with their 3000 cannons, and their 25,000 brave seamen, your emulators and your companions-inarms, will bear to the Crimea an English army, whose high courage your forefathers learned to respect; a chosen division of those Ottoman soldiers who have just approved themselves in your eyes ; and a French army, which I have the right and pride to call the elite of our whole army. I see in this more than pledges of success. I see in it success itself. Generals, commanders of corps, officers of all arms, you will partake of the confidence with which my mind is filled, and will impart it to your soldiers. We shaft soon salute the three united flags floating together on the ramparts of Sebastopol with our national cry, " Vive L'Empereur "
" A. de St Arnaud. "
" Head-Quarters, Varna, August 25."
The ardour and enthusiasm of the French troops were further heightened by a proclamation from the Emperor, issued about the same time. The document was in the following animating terms:—
" Soldiers and Sailors of the Army op the East ! — You have not fought, but already you have obtained a signal success. Your presence, and that of the English troops, have sufficed to compel the enemy to recross the Danube, and the Russian vessels remain ingloriously in their ports. You have not yet fought, and already you have struggled courageously against death. A scourge, fatal though transitory, has not arrested your ardour. France, and the sovereign whom she has chosen, cannot witness without deep emotion, or without making every effort to give assistance to such energy and such sacrifices.
" The First Consul said, in 1797, in a proclamation to his army: " The first quality required in a soldier, is the power of supporting fatigues and privations. Courage is only a secondary one." The first you are now displaying. Who can deny you the possession of the second ? Therefore it is that your enemies, disseminated from Finland to the Caucasus, are seeking anxiously to discover the point upon which France and England will direct their attacks, which, they foresee will be decisive; for right, justice, and warlike inspiration are on our side.
" Already, Bomarsund and 2000 prisoners have just fallen into our power. Soldiers! you will follow the example of the army of Egypt. The conquerors of the Pyramids and Mont Thabor had, like you, to contend against warlike soldiers and disease ; but, in spite of pestilence and the efforts of three armies, they returned with honour to their country. Soldiers ! have confidence in your General-in-chief and in me. I am watching over you, and I hope, with the assistance of God, soon to see a diminution of your sufferings and an increase of your glory.
" Soldiers ! farewell, till we meet again.
When convalescence was in some measure restored among the troops, active preparations were commenced to move the Allied army from Varna to the Crimea. We shall, however, leave the troops for a short time, and attend to operations occurring in other parts. Our reader's attention will be first directed to what was taking place on the shores of the Black Sea.
The Allied fleets, the English under the command of Admiral Dundas, and the French under Admiral Hamelin, entered the Black Sea at the commencement of the year 1854. Among the principal men-of-war composing the English fleet, were the Britannia, Albion, Jupiter, Vengeance, Sanspareil, Rodney, Bellerophon, Trafalgar, Agamemnon, London, Queen, and Terrible ; while the French sent out the Bayard, Ville de Paris, Jena, Henri IV, Valmy, Friedland, Charlemagne, Descartes, &c. The largest of these vessels were steamers; and accordingly the Black Sea in 1854 introduced a new era in the history of naval warfare. A signal was hoisted on the flag-ship—"Turks are to be protected from all aggressions by sea and land!" This was the first intimation that the Allies would employ the force of arms against Russia, if necessary.
No event of any importance occurred during the stay of the Allied fleets in the Black Sea, at this time. Some five or six vessels were despatched as an escort to a Turkish flotilla carrying arms and ammunition to Trebizond and Batoum—Turkish ports on the southern and south-eastern shores of the Black Sea. The presence of the Allied fleets in the Black Sea, no doubt, prevented the Russian war ships from attacking the Turkish forts; but having not been empowered by the home authorities to make any active demonstration against the Russians, the fleets, after remaining a few weeks, returned to the Bosphorus.
At the beginning of March, Admiral Dundas despatched Captain Jones in the Sampson, on a reconnoitring cruise along the coast of Anatolia, Georgia, Circassia, and the Crimea, from which he returned to Beicos Bay about the 12th of the month; and soon after the Allied fleets sailed from the Bosphorus, and anchored in Kavarna Bay, a portion of the Black Sea, a little northward of Varna. The fleets consisted at this time of ten English and eight French line-of-battle ships, with six English and six French steamers, of smaller size; others were added afterwards.
The Russian coasts of the Black Sea, at the commencement of the war, were very little known to the English and French admirals; the jealousy between the various powers having restricted the facilities for the entrance of ships of war into that sea. The Russian portion of this coast commenced at the easternmost extremity of the sea, marked by Fort St. Nikolaia, near to which, on the Turkish border, is Batoum. Thia point is 330 miles eastward of Sinope. From thence the Russians possessed all the coast to the Sea of Azof, the entrance to which is formed by the straits of Yenikale or Kertch; then, all the coast of the Crimea; and, lastly, the north-western coast of the Black Sea, from Perekop, past Kherson and Odessa, to the mouths of the Danube. Silently and perseveringly did the czars build fort after fort along this extensive line of coast; and it became essentially necessary, on the breaking out of war, that the Allies should know something concerning the number and strength of these posts. At that time, the chief of the forts eastward of the Crimea was at Anapa, a distance of a few miles from the straits of Yenikale. This important fortress, originally constructed by the Turks to protect their commerce with the tribes of the Caucasus, had been afterwards converted by the Russians into a strong military position. Commercially, it is of little importance, for the harbour is open to every wind, and can only be used in the fine season. The western chain of the Caucasus commences at Anapa; and this was practically the eastern limit of Russian power in that sea; for the Circassians laid claim to all the coast, and the Russians have never succeeded in establishing any first-class fort beyond Anapa. The forts further east have always been isolated ; the garrison being in danger of destruction if they left the protection of stone walls. At a short distance from the coast are mountains and forests, among which the Circassians and other tribes find a home; the Russians have seldom yet been left by these tribes in quiet possession of the north-east shores of the Black Sea. At the period of the commencement of the war, the first Russian fort eastward of Anapa was Soudjuk Kale (Sudjuk Kaleh), defended by three redoubts; it was at this place that a Russian squadron captured the British ship Vixen, causing thereby great diplomatic excitement in 1837. Next to this was Ghelendjik (Gelendshik,) possessing a fine and safe harbour, and regarded by the Russians as a place of much importance: a flotilla being there located, to watch the movements of the Circassians. A few miles further east is the Bay of Pchiat, at the entrance of which the Russians built a fort in 1837. Numerous little bays then occur, fringed with villages, the inhabitants of which have succeeded in repelling all hostile attacks of the Russians, After passing Kavakinskoi and Gagri, there were presented Pozunda and Bomborai in Abasia; and then Soucoum Kale (Suchum Kaleh,) possessing one of the best bays in this part of the coast. At the mouth of the small river Ingour was Fort Anaklia, Redoubt Kale and Poti, at the mouths of two other small rivers, were also provided with Russian forts. The last Russian fort was at St. Nikolaia, near the boundary between the ancient provinces of Mingrelia, and Gouriel. The Russian forts, from the Straits of Yenikale to the Turkish frontier, were about sixteen in number.
Many a cruise was made during the summer to these Circassian coasts, first as a mere matter of reconnoissance, but, after the declaration of war, as a means of conquest, or destruction. Fort after fort was visited, and the exact state of all ascertained. These forts were mostly alike, and generally situated at the mouths of rivers; and most of them were found to be constructed of sandstone, brought from Kertch. Each fort had a garrison 500 to 1000 men, living in wooden barracks. Most of these forts were blown up, after the garrisons had been removed, to prevent them being captured by the Allies. Sir Edmund Lyons, with the Agamemnon, Charlemagne, Highflyer, Sampson, and Mogador appeared off Redoubt Kale, on the 19th of May; he saw Russian officers on the parapet of the fort, and Cossacks galloping at full speed from the beach towards the town; he sent a flag of truce, demanding the immediate evacuation of the place. The Russians remitted an evasive answer, to gain time; and just before the ships were about to open fire, masses of smoke began to ascend from the town—the Russians had fired it. The conflagration became very striking ; houses and trees burned together during the whole night; and fierce flames and lurid smoke illuminated the decks of the ships. Redoubt Kale was the most important of all the Russian forts between Anapa and the Turkish frontier; it was on the Georgian coast, commanding the communication between Tiflis and the Black Sea, and was the place of landing for many of the troops of the Russian army in Asia. Redoubt Kale, or what remained of it, was handed over to the keeping of the Turks as soon as the Allies had frightened the Russians from it; the Turks proceeded immediately to repair some of the fortifications; while the Sampson, under Captain Jones, remained in the harbour as a protection.
About the middle of March, just previous to the actual declaration of war, hut when war was inevitable, the Emperor Nicholas had ordered the abandonment of all the forts, except three of the most importance— namely, Anapa, Soudjuk Kale, and Redoubt Kale, and thus it arose that the forced evacuation of the last named was regarded as important by the Allies. Sir Edmund Lyons, in the course of this expedition, examined the Straits of Yenikale, opening into the important Sea of Azof; but the result of his examination was to deter him from immediate operations in that quarter, owing to the shallowness of the water. One of his ships grounded in water marked " deep" on the Russian charts, and was with difficulty set afloat again; this, and many other events during the war, introduced a belief in some quarters, that the Russian authorities had purposely sanctioned the dissemination of erroneous charts, so as to entrap their enemies.
Viewed in relation to the immediate necessities of the Turks, the east end of the Black Sea was regarded by the Allies as of more importance than the northern coast; and it was on this account that one or two ships of war remained for several weeks off Redoubt Kale. Nor was the precaution superfluous: for the Russians, in June, returned to the place, from the heart of Georgia, and would perhaps have besieged it but for the presence of a couple of formidable war-steamers.
During the first two or three months of the year 1854, the Turkish fleet was not applied to much use by the Allied admirals; but on the 4th of May, it left Constantinople for the Black Sea, after a long detention in the Bay of Buyukdere. It was a fine fleet of 22 ships, comprising one first-rate of 124 guns, the Mahmoudi ; three of 104 guns; two of 90; two of 84; and one of 74. One of the 84 gun ships, the Techrife, was commanded by an Englishman, who had been many years in the Turkish service—Admiral Slade, under his Oriental designation of Mouchavir Pasha. The fleet also comprised three large frigates, two brigs, and seven or eight steamers. The fleet was inspected before its departure by Mehemet, the Capudan Pasha. Admiral Slade, combining his experience as an English naval officer with his knowledge of Turks and Turkey, was a valuable coadjutor in the fleet. This fleet, after conference with the Allied admirals, was bound for the Circassian coast, to aid in those operations already described. It appears, however, that little as the English and French fleets effected in the Black Sea during that year, the Turks were permitted hardly any share even in that little. A correspondent at Constantinople, of one of the journals, writing in August, thus ccmmented on the matter : "With all deference to nautical men, it may be allowed to regret that this squadron, strong in the number and size of its vessels, and in, at least, the valour and determination of its crews, was not turned to a better use during its last visit to the Black Sea. To hear the contemptuous manner in which the English officers have spoken of it, and of the necessity of keeping it quiet for fear of its impeding the operations of the Allies, one would think that a succession of Trafalgars had occupied the last few months, and that these inexpert Mussulmans had been condemned to Baltschik Bay that they might not interfere with the activity and brilliancy of our own operations. But where nothing is done, the Turk stands as high as his supercilious critics. No doubt the Ottoman sailors, though capable of obstinate resistance in a fight like that of Sinope, are not sufficiently skilful for elaborate evolutions; still, they might have been made more serviceable than they were during their two months in harbour, where they died of starvation and scurvy, and were as useless as if they had remained within the Bosphorus. The unhappy Turks were left, without money or necessaries, to starve in the sight of plenty, and perish with disease, close to crews in perfect health. They saw provisions bought up and taken to the Allied fleet, while they had nothing but ther wretched allowances; they became demoralised and dispirited, and out of their moderate squadron they lost 1000 men." The Turks had, indeed, no great reason to be delighted with their Allies, who failed to come to their aid during the critical exigencies of the Danubian campaign and the siege of Silistria, and neglected their willing and well-meant co-operation in naval matters.
We will now notice the active operations of the great fleet in the Black Sea, during the spring and summer of 1854.
The welcome tidings of the Declaration of War reached the fleets in Kavarna Bay on the 9th of April, and caused great joy amongst both officers and men. On the 13th of April, before the proclamation of war could have reached Odessa, the Furious was fired upon when it went there with a flag of truce to fetch the English consul. So foul a breach of the law of nations, so gross a violation of the usages even of war, could not be allowed to go unpunished. Accordingly Admirals Dundas and Hamelin no sooner received intelligence of this last specimen of Russian perfidy and barbarity, than they determined upon steps for taking reprisals. As the place is rather a mercantile port than a military station, they deemed it unnecessary to bring any great display of force against it. They contented themselves with six three-deckers, thirteen two-deckers, and eight or nine steam frigates. At the same time, the affair appeared to them of suffficient importance to justify their going in person to superintend the operations. On the 21st of April, at about four o'clock in the afternoon, they cast anchor two miles from the town. They immediately sent a flag of truce with a demand for the surrender of the Russian, English, and French vessels in the quarantine harbour No answer having been returned, the nine steamers commenced an attack upon the batteries of the Imperial Mole at half past six on the morning of the 22nd of April. Though the steamers were none of them large—the heaviest of the fleet carrying only twenty-eight guns—yet, with the assistance of boats, from which the congreve rockets were discharged, they did plenty of execution, as appears from the following despatch received by the Turkish ambassador at Vienna:
" I have just received the following despatch from Belgrade; it has been communicated to me by Omar Pasha, who begged me to transmit it to you. Eight steam frigates belonging to the combined fleet proceeded to Odessa, and commenced bombarding the military port on the 22nd. In a few hours they destroyed all the fortifications, the batteries, and the military establishments of the Russians. Two powder magazinies blew up, and 12 of the enemy's vessels were sunk. The commercial port was spared, and merchant vessels escaped. Thirteen Russian vessels, laden with stores and ammunition, were captured.
" The town of Odessa was defended by four batteries, which were constructed about the beginning of this year, and were placed as follows:—The first, of 12 guns, on the mole of the quarantine port, defending the entrance of the great roadstead; the second, of six guns, below the boulevard and to the right of the flight of steps which comes down to the sea, and divides the boulevard in two ; this battery defends the quarantine port; the third to the left of the steps, placed in such a manner as to cross its fire with that of the second battery, and to command the roadstead ; the fourth on the quay of the port de pratique below the Palace of Prince Woronzoff; each of these two last named batteries had eight guns. In addition to these four batteries there were three others; one on the opposite side of the Gulf of Odessa, at the Russian village of Dofinofka, nearly opposite the quarantine port; the other, to the south of the port, near the country-house of the Countess of Langeron; and the third, in the same direction, and near the Cape of the Great Fountain, where a lighthouse is also placed."
It reflects the highest honour upon the admirals that such precautions were taken to avoid doing any more injury than was absolutely unavoidable to the commercial part of the harbour and town ; and it is satisfactory to know that those precautions were not without effect. This careful discrimination forms a striking contrast with the wholesale slaughter perpetrated under circumstances of the grossest barbarity upon all alike at Sinope. Instinctively as we shrink from the thought of so fearful a waste of human life as these scenes involve, it is difficult not to regard with a satisfaction equally instinctive the just retribution for that brutal outrage which the Imperial autocrat had the daring effrontory to make the theme of a grand national thanksgiving to the God of justice, mercy, and truth.
The policy of sparing Odessa may however be questioned, as it afterwards proved the principal depot for provisioning the Russian troops during the continuance of the war.
Soon after this event, the Tiger, Vesuvius, and Niger, were detached from the Allied fleets, and ordered to reconnoitre Odessa, concerning which the admirals appear to have remained in some anxiety. A dense fog speedily led to the separation of the three ships; and on the evening of the 12th of May, at about six o'clock, the Tiger ran aground, four or five miles from Odessa, near a light-house, and under a high cliff. The crew immediately got out her boats, laid the anchor astern, and lightened her by throwing the guns overboard. The Russians, on the look-out above, did not fail to take advantage of the situation of the unfortunate ship. The seamen were annoyed with musketry while employed in endeavouring to relieve their vessel; and about nine o'clock, the firing became still more determined, by the employment of field-pieces. The luckless Tiger—a steamer of sixteen guns, and about 1270 tons burden—resisted until Captain Giffard had received desperate wounds, and a midshipman and two seamen were killed, and one wounded. The captain, seeing his hopeless condition, struck his flag, and the Russians took the crew prisoners. At this critical time, the Niger and Vesuvius hove in sight. The Russians therefore ordered the prisoners to hasten on shore, or they would again fire; and when the two steamers came within gunshot, the prisoners were placed in front of the Russians on the beach. Captain Giffard and his poor fellows were then marched or conveyed to Odessa, where they received every kindness from the inhabitants; Giffard himself being lodged in the governor's house. They were allowed considerable liberty ; were permitted to write to their friends; and were visited, under a flag of truce, by the first-lieutenant of the Vesuvius. Care seems to have been taken, on this occasion, that the Russians should not be open to the charge of dishonouring a flag of truce. The news speedily reached St. Petersburg; and the Invalide Russe, on the 19th, contained a depatch from General Osten-Sacken to Prince Paskevitch—stating that the Tiger, when too much injured to be preserved, was purposely burnt by means of red-hot shot; that the flag and Union-Jack had been kept as trophies; that some of the guns had been secured, and taken to Odessa; and that the prisoners, besides Captain Giffard, numbered 24 officers and warrant-officers, and 201 seamen and marines. Mrs. Giffard, wife of the unfortunate captain of the Tiger, went to Odessa early in June in the Vesuvius, with the determination to share the captivity of her husband ; she reached that place on the 9th, but found that he had sunk under his suffering a week previously. She was allowed to land for a few hours to visit his grave, and to converse with some of the captured crew of the Tiger; and she was treated with much consideration by the authorities.
The loss of the Tiger was very mortifying to the Allies; and there was another affair that caused deep regret in the minds of the English naval officers. This was the death of Captain Parker, which occurred a few weeks afterwards. His death was announced to Admiral Dundas in a despatch, of which the following is an extract:—" Captain Hyde Parker directed a strong party of boats from the Fireband and Vesuvius to accompany him up the Danube, for the purpose of destroying some works which were occupied by the Russians. At two p. m., the boat entered the Danube, Captain Parker's gig in advance. At the bend of the river, opposite a number of houses on the right bank, and a large stockade on the left, a sharp fire was opened upon him, and his boat was nearly riddled. Some of his men were wounded. The heavy boats were coming up, and Captain Parker at once pulled back to them, hailing me (Commander Powell) to land the marines, and be ready to storm. This order was executed by the marines and a detachment of seamen in the same gallant spirit with which it was given. Captain Parker then dashed on shore in his gig, and at once advanced with a few men. He was in front and greatly exposed. A tremendous fire was soon opened by the enemy upon them, and a few minutes after landing, a bullet passed through their leader's heart, and in a moment this gallant sailor ceased to live."
The achievements yet mentioned in the Black Sea were of far too trivial a nature to satisfy the aspiration of men who had entered upon the campaign with such ardour as the British naval officers and seamen. The tars wished to distinguish themselves by daring and successful exploits; to do something which should give them renown when they returned to England. They were tired of excursions to the Circassian coast; of escorting Turkish ships; of firing shot and shell into a town without any definite object or result. The bays at Varna, Kavarna, and Baltschik, were places of rendezvous for the fleets in the intervals between the periods of active service—intervals too many and too long to be welcome.
On the 17th of April the combined squadron took their departure from Kavarna Bay, exploring the Crimea and the Circassian coasts, and returned on the 20th of May, after a cruise of about five weeks. Nothing of importance occurred during this cruise, and Admiral Hamelin, writing to the French government an account of his proceedings, complained that the Russians would not give them anything to do. He says:— " It has not depended on us that the feats of war which have occurred from time to time during that month's cruise were not more numerous and more important; but the Russian naval forces have kept themselves so completely shut up at Sebastopol, and under the shelter of the thousand guns of that place, that during the twenty days passed in cruising at a short distance from that port, we have not been able to induce a single vessel of the enemy to venture on a combat, even with our look-out vessels. On the other hand, our steam-cruisers were picking up throughout the whole length of the Black Sea vessels bearing the Russian flag, which constitute a tolerably good number of prizes." The Allies had been able to count, in the inclosed harbour of Sebastopol, from 14 to 18 Russian sail-of-the-line, 15 steamers, and 7 frigates.
One or two smart encounters occurred at different times between a small steamer and one or two Russian frigates on the coast of the Crimea; but nothing of importance resulted from them.
On the 2nd of July, the French squadron under Admiral Bruat joined that under Admiral Hamelin, at Baltschik: bringing 9000 troops from Gallipoli to Varna, and increasing the French fleet in the Black Sea. There were then, anchored off the line of coast between Varna and Baltschik, seventeen British ships-of-war, and fourteen French line-of-battle ships, besides several steamers. After spending nearly a month in inactivity, the greater portion of both fleets sailed and steamed out of harbour, bound on another exploratory cruise and carrying some of the generals of the Allied armies. The object which the expedition had in view was to minutely examine Sabastopol and the adjacent coast of the Crimea. An officer on board the fleet thus described what took place:—" The Fury, Terrible, and a French steamer, were purposely sent in somewhat ahead, so as to arrive at early dawn. The moment they showed themselves, there were, commotion and preparation in the harbour; steamers sent up tall columns of smoke, to help out the large ships, with unfurled sails, &c. But before they had sailed out to chase these impertinent foes with an overwhelming force—to be recorded in a magnificent despatch as a grand victory—the signalman on the hills above descried the fleet coming in; so the steamers moved up into the dockyard creek, and put their fires out; the ships furled their sails; and we were tranquilly allowed to make a narrow examination of them and their prison from sunrise to sunset of a beautiful clear summer's day. Before we came up, the Fury, Terrible, and French steamer had ventured in rather near to the north side of the harbour, and several shots were fired at them. The distance might have been about a mile and a half, and the Russian fire was so good, that the the rigging of the Terrible was cut immediately, and the little Fury was hulled just below the water: the ill-conditioned shot destroying two jars of the midshipmen's butter in their berth. Luckily, nobody was touched. The fire was returned, and the steamers moved on. The works on the northern shore have been much strengthened since my last look at the place, and the strength of the sea-batteries is undeniable. Inside, the Russians have, of course, a complete sense of security at present. No sea-force could damage them without exposing itself to destruction. With telescopes we could see the men bathing from the two or three liners behind the booms at the harbour's mouth."
The fleets returned to Varna and Baltschik, after the generals and admirals had satisfied themselves by a close examination of the formidable Sebastopol.
When, late in the month of August, the Allied fleets and armies, after a wearisome period of sickness, and detention, prepared for a vast expedition to the Crimea, the inhabitants of Odessa were thrown into a state of great trepidation. The following proclamation was posted up on the walls :—
" To the Inhabitants of Odessa.—The enemy is again seen, in greater force than ever before, at no great distance from our city. We are armed, and well prepared. Any attempt made by the enemy to land will be energetically resisted ; but the guns of his vessels have a very long range. Do not lose courage, but keep wet cloths and hides of oxen prepared to cast over any shells which may be thrown into the city. Tubs full of water must be kept on the roofs of the houses, so that any fire may be extinguished. Should the enemy, however, carry on the war with obstinacy under protection of his guns, we will retire to Tiraspol, after having reduced the city to ruins and ashes, so that no asylum may be found. Woe be to those who may remain behind, or attempt to extinguish the fire !
" Krusenstern, Governor."
" August 30, 1854."
This Moscow-like proclamation increased the consternation. Almost all the corn was removed to Tiraspol, a town on the Dniester, sixty miles from Odessa ; the women and children were sent away; the pavement of the streets was taken up; the male population were drilled every day; and the defences were strengthened. No attack was, however, made; Odessa was again spared—for reasons which were not publicly known at the time, but which may require notice in a later Chapter.
At length, in the beginning of September, 1854, were completed all the arrangements for one of the most stupendous enterprises of modern times—an at tack on Sebastopol by the Allied naval and military forces, comprising, in effect, three fleets and three armies. This was to be the crowning reward for all that the soldiers and sailors had suffered for want of employment. The detentions at Malta, at Gallipoli, and Bulair ; at Adrianople and Constantinople; at Scutari and Unkiar-Skelessi; at Varna, and Aladyn, and Devna—all were to be compensated to the troops by an immediate and important onslaught on the Russians. The delays at Besika and Beicos, at Varna and Baltschik—all were to be made up to the tars by a dashing attack against Russian ships or Russian granite forts.