These edited extracts are from Paget's own account, The Light Cavalry Brigade in the Crimea Extracts from the Letters and Journal of General Lord George Paget (John Murray, 1881).Alvin Wee of the University Scholar's Programme, created the electronic text using OmniPage Pro OCR software, and created the HTML version. Edited and added by Marjie Bloy, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore.
[Paget had been in the Crimean campaign in 1854 but had returned to England following the death of his father. He returned in February 1855]
Feb. 23. — "Australian," Balaclava. — We steamed into harbour this morning, and borrowing a pony from the provost-marshal, I rode up and reported myself to General Scarlett, who I find has secured for me Lucan's two rooms in a house in Kadikoi, taken up for the Division Office. The snow is on the ground; the place certainly don't look cheery. I have been up to the Light Brigade, and found all my fellows looking pretty well. There was a reconnaissance two days ago, when our ten regiments of cavalry mustered 400 men. This place is altered from a pretty valley with trees and orchards to a large swamp, without a vestige of foliage, but much improved, of course, in a military point of view.
In the harbour, where all was chaos, and confusion when I left it, there is now some order and regularity; where human legs and arms were protruding from the ground, there are now decent graves, some with a board or stone; while the dilapidated old Russian Village has given place to a little town of wooden huts, and regular and well-arranged rows of vessels now line the quay.
Feb. 24 — Settled in my new quarters, and have been dining with Scarlett, who has got a house about 300 yards from this.
Feb. 25. — Divine service I find established every Sunday at 11, in this house. About a dozen officers attended to-day. My room has been full of people all the afternoon, welcoming me back; Burghersh, Claremont, P. Somerset, Foley, etc.
Feb. 27. — Friends pouring in upon me all day, with their kind greetings. My bedroom-window commands the plain, and from it the most prominent objects are the conical shaped hill, known as "Canrobert's Hill" and Kamara Church. This plain has been a neutral ground since Balaclava. "Bang" went a gun as I was dressing the first morning, from the battery close to my house, which, I though I am told it is of frequent occurrence, always occasions a commotion, and a scuffle of every one out of their tents, to see what is up. These "reminders," for they are nothing more, are generally occasioned either by a descent of a few Cossacks from Canrobert's Hill on our people who are, cutting grass in the valley or grazing their horses on the plain ; or are intended as a warning to these latter not to trespass too far in the plain. Our horses are to commence carrying shot up to the front. I drove Clarence (Captain Lord Clarence Paget, R.N., commanding H.M.S. Princess Royal.) to-day (who came over from Kasatch to see me) to the Picket Hill, to show him the scene of our charge.
March 1. — At last succeeded in seeing Lord Raglan, who received me most kindly, as indeed he always does. Such a bitterly cold day, and my ride from head-quarters was in a heavy snow-storm.
March 2. — The Light Brigade to-day mustered 44 horses, of which about 12 are serviceable. Scarlett, I believe, has told Lord Raglan that he had better send home the Light Cavalry Brigade.
March 3. — Less cold. Met old Sir Colin in my rambles, who speaks cheerfully of our prospects; rode to Monastery of St. George, the beauties of which are great and the view from it over the sea very extensive. The service of the Monks most strange and discordant. An order came to send men to Scutari to take charge of remounts from England.
March 5. — A long ramble over the Balaclava heights, the inspection of which makes one turn in at night more comfortable.
March 7. — News of the Emperor's death, which staggers every one. Lord Raglan sent the news to Sir Colin at 12 o'clock last night.
March 8. — I was riding along the Balaclava quay to-day, and found several officers hard at work with pickaxes and spades, amongst the heaps of rubbish, piles of shot, anchors, cables, etc, digging into the ground, now become quite hard. One of them said, "You would not guess what we are at. We are trying to find poor Cox's body."(Augustus Cox, in the Guards.) They were going to disinter his body and remove it to a more eligible spot. I told him they had better leave his poor remains in peace; but they went on, and when they had got to his cloak I left them, to ruminate over such a strange episode in one's afternoon's ride.
March 14. — Nothing much to relate the last few days; two rides over to Kamiesh, and on one of these occasions succeeded in getting on board the Princess Royal, Clarence's ship. I have also seen Omar Pasha at head-quarters; a great contrast in his plain greatcoat to the flashy Canrobert, who was also there for a Council of War. A visit to the trenches one day, and an alarming story that Cardigan is coming out to command the cavalry, being the only incidents. Some Cossacks showed themselves on the hills yesterday, but soon retired; and an order of readiness to turn out to-day during the "First Spring Kadikoi Meeting," at which all the officers of each army appeared to be present, from the numbers. The attacks on Lord Stratford [de Redcliffe] in the newspapers are too disgusting. In truth, we are a grateful country!
March 22. — Our uneventful life down here goes on, as usual; our men occupy themselves a good deal, in making the lines look clean and smart as the weather improves, and I think the 4th leads the way. They name the streets, on a sort of finger-post, "Albert Terrace," "Victoria Row," "Rotten Row" (a muddy one), and the like, while one hut is called the "Dove Cot"! and they have stuck over mine "Uxbridge House." The firing is incessant; it has now become to our ears like the ticking of a clock.
March 26. — An alarm this morning at 3 a.m. The Balaclava garrison put into position, the cause, I hear, being a report from some deserters that we are to be attacked some morning. I was awoke by the bulls-eyes of two lanterns presented, at my pillow, with the faces of Mayow and Sterling looking over them. Those who are familiar with the appearance of these two excellent officers will not be surprised at my thinking that my last hour was come, when waked out of sleep by such an apparition! It is getting very hot; luckily the dead horses, which lie about plentifully, dry up in this climate, and are not offensive.
March 31. — Scarlett came into my room this morning, and announced his departure, on account of his wife's death. This of course leaves me in the command of the Division, and a heavy responsibility it is, though of course it is very fortunate for me.
April 5. — [Sir Colin Campbell] came to me late last night, telling me that Bosquet had just sent him word that a large force of Cossacks were hovering about the Turkish heights, and requested me to send out a Field Officer with a picket of 100 men to look after them, which is, my first exercise of my new brief authority, and makes me feel very grand; but they returned without having seen anything.
April 8. — Another expected attack last night, which ended again in smoke.
April 12. — The bombardment which has been going on the last three or four days has failed, and our people don't seem in good spirits.
April 15. — 10th Hussars just arrived from India, 670 strong about double, what our ten regiments muster!
April 20. — We had a very interesting day yesterday. A reconnaissance in force, as far as the little village of Tchorgun, two or three miles beyond Kamara in the hills. But we fell in with no enemy. The Turks from the Marine battery (in the hills to the right of our position) went forward in advance, along the chain of hills near the sea, and thence down the gorge that leads to Tchorgun, and they formed a junction with us (the cavalry) at the village of Kamara. From thence we all pushed on to the brow of a hill overlooking Tchorgun, the furthest point of our reconnaissance, which was conducted in person by Lord Raglan and Omar Pasha, with very large staffs augmented by amateurs of all sorts. The cavalry, consisting of 200 of the 10th Hussars, 200 of our Heavy Brigade, two or three regiments of Turks (infantry) and two regiments of Chasseurs d'Afrique (under me), with a few guns, advanced straight across our plain, and over the old Turkish redoubts, to the valley beyond, where we extended in skirmishing order. We, started at 8, and were home by half-past 2 p.m., the object being to ascertain what force, the enemy had in these parts, and what defences they had made. The result was, that we found no troops, nor did we find any traces of large bodies having been anywhere about here. So we might have spared ourselves much of our vigilance lately, and thus ends the bugbear of the long winter, the large force on the Tchernaya, always ready to annihilate us. It shows how little is often known of the movements of an enemy. The only troops we saw were three or four squadrons of cavalry, who gave us a wide berth; though some Cossacks had the impudence to ride up to the Turkish heights, on our retirement across the valley, and fire some shots at us.
April 25. --Omar Pasha just gone off suddenly to Eupatoria, with 8000 men, expecting, it is said, an attack there.
[On 26 April, the Caradoc arrived at Balaclava with Lord and Lady Stratford, their three daughters, and Lord George Paget's wife. The group spent much time together, sightseeing. There is little account of events concerning the war]
May 7. — First detachment 12th Lancers arrived.
May 24. — Queen's birthday; in honour of which a review of our cavalry was held, at which were present Lord Raglan, Omar Pasha, La Marmora, and Pelissier, the first time I had ever seen the latter, a very rough-looking Frenchman.
June 18. — The memorable old 18th of June — memorable, alas! in another sense from henceforth — the day on which, for so many years, I had been accustomed to see my revered father dressed for the Waterloo dinner, and cheered on his entry into Apsley House. [The Battle of Waterloo was fought on 18 June 1815]
The attack on the Redan and Malakhoff took place at a quarter to 4 a.m., and the sad finale at 7. This was the first reverse we had had, and we could now realise the difference between a defeat and a victory, than which it is impossible to conceive a greater contrast. It was a sad sight indeed to see at last the poor, broken, jaded columns winding their weary way up the valleys towards us after their defeat, being the last of those we had seen all the morning, coming up limping and wounded. And not the least sad countenance that I saw this morning was that of our great Chief himself, by whom I rode on his way home, and he gave a kindly shake of the hand, and an order to collect my people and take them home.
I was on duty with 800 of the cavalry to "keep the ground," i.e. to form a chain of mounted sentries along the whole line of the position, posting them just out of sight of the town, with very strict orders to let no one pass to the front, the object being to prevent any one showing himself on the heights; and no slight duty did it turn out to be — firstly, to place this line along the many miles of ground; and, secondly, to carry out our instructions efficiently, with the very unruly people we had to deal with, from the general officer even down to that most troublesome class, the captains of transports, to say nothing of a whole army of travelling gents, with an occasional yeomanry officer in full canonicals.
As soon as I had collected my men and started them off home, I rode off to the Naval Brigade camp to see our kind host, who had been wounded, and found poor William Peel lying on his bed crest-fallen, not from his wound, at allusion to which he appeared quite annoyed, or rather impatient, but at the results of the day, and it was with a heavy heart that I went down to the Leander and told his people of his wound; and the feeling that was then evinced told truly of the place that that noble fellow held in the hearts of all those under him. I left camp at 1.30 a.m., got all my men posted by about 3.30 a.m. and was back again about eleven.
June 19. — Our poor wounded host came down from the Naval Brigade, and settled himself on board the Leander.
June 20. — The Naval Instructor died this morning, and also poor old Boxer, than whom a more hard-working old sailor never lived, or a better-abused one. From morn till night was this indefatigable old man working away in his four-oared gig in the harbour. No labour was too much for him, and the order and organisation to which he had brought the harbour and the refractory transport captains was a proof of his worth.
June 23. — We went up and dined with Lord Raglan — as it turned out, alas! our last dinner with him. He has been ailing, and did not look well, and though at dinner his spirits seemed to be good, one could see that he was out of sorts after the 18th of June. Some of the fellows told me after dinner, that a day or two before, when they had been looking gloomy, he kindly upbraided them, saying — "We must not have grave faces; one would think an army had never received a check before. All armies are subject to them," etc.
A violent storm came on in the evening, and he insisted on Lady George [Paget's wife] going home in his carriage, and as I was mounting my horse, he came out, caught hold of my arm, and said, "Mind, George, keep close to the carriage" — the last words he ever spoke to me — those of kindness and affection. It was a dreadful night, and when we had with difficult got down as far as Kadikoi by 1 a.m., We found all the road, bridges, etc., washed away.
June 24. — Sad havoc appeared this morning from the storm, but my lady honoured my house with a visit.
June 28. — A sad day indeed for us all. We had ridden most days to inquire about Lord Raglan, and each day with a better report, and so were ill-prepared for the news of this afternoon, when about five o'clock Steele and Burghersh came out to us on our arrival at head-quarters, and told us that he was all but given over. We went in and remained with him till all was over, his death taking place about 7 p.m., calm and peaceable, but he did not recognise either of us. It reminded us both so much of a death-bed we had witnessed only a year before! The features of Lord Raglan and of my father were sufficiently of the same character to render them strangely alike under such circumstances; with the paleness of death on them, and their attitude was similar; with the head inclining to one side, and the same calm repose in each case. The motto of each the same — "Duty."
We waited till he was laid out, and after taking a last look at him, had a very melancholy ride home, arriving on board about eleven o'clock. There were present round the bedside: Burghersh, Steele, N. Kingscote, P. Somerset, Calthorpe, Airey, Edward Somerset, Vico, the doctor, Curzon, Simpson, my lady and myself; and a curious event it was, a lady by the bedside of a dying Commander-in-Chief in the field!
And there was another curious episode: when Steele came, into his room, to bring us in to see him in his last moments, General Simpson — then Chief of the Staff — was the only other person in the room, and on Steele taking Lady George out, I saw a sort of hesitation on the part of Simpson, as to whether he should follow. He was a shy man, only just come, out, and not on the intimate terms that the rest were, and it was only on my persuasion that he was induced to move, the result being that I took our Commander-in-Chief to the death-bed of his predecessor.
June 29. — All the flags half-mast high, and not a smile to be seen!
July 3. — Lord Raglan's remains were taken to Kamiesh to-day, with all honour, for shipment on board the Caradoc, but my lady was so sad that I would not leave her to attend the procession, and we had our last ride together, to Tractir Bridge.
July 4 — This was my lady's last day in the Crimea, and except for a last visit to her poor friends at the Sanitarium, she did not leave the Leander, the day being taken up with farewell visits to her. Visits to the "Sanitarium" (on the top of the height overlooking the harbour) had been her constant occupation during her stay here, with her piles of old newspapers for the wounded, and supplies of stationery, wherewith to write letters to their friends. She had soon formed a warm friendship for Miss Shaw Stewart, [Sister of Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, who came out on the charitable mission of a " Sister of Mercy," and had charge of the Sanitarium Hospital at Balaclava from its first establishment] one of the good lady nurses who had come out, and who initiated her into the mysteries of her benevolent occupation. As my lady would not allow me to go into the tents with her, I had to spend many an hour, during her visits, reading the newspapers, while lying on the grass on the edge of the cliffs, for these visits always occupied some two hours at least. At first her habit was to take a few huts at a time, until Miss S. Stewart told her that when she went to one she must go to all; for when the news spread that the "strange beautiful lady" had appeared in. one of the huts, the disappointment to those unvisited was such, that the partial visits did more harm than good. Thus came to an end her last day in the Crimea, after a sojourn of just ten weeks, since April 26. This had indeed been an oasis in the desert of my life, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that her presence did not prevent me from performing one act of military duty.
Having obtained leave to take Lady George to the Bosphorus, I got a passage on board the Imperador, into which vessel we stowed ourselves tonight at 10 p.m., she getting a cabin to herself, and Prince Edward (who accompanied us) and myself another.
July 7. — We landed at Therapia at 6 p.m.; the captain kindly allowing us to land on his way up to Scutari, and after some, difficulty I found rooms at the Hotel d'Angleterre, Lord Stratford's villa at Therapia not being able to hold us, and here I remained till August 1, when, though I was not tied down to time, I took my departure. During these pleasant three weeks, we lived (except sleeping) entirely with the Stratfords, making excursions in His Excellency's barge every evening after dinner to one of the Sultan's numerous kiosks ; to the different valleys on the Bosphorus; sometimes to the entrance to the Black Sea, Odo Russell's beautiful voice generally adding harmony to the scene. On the 12th I accompanied Prince Edward to a State reception of the Sultan, a remarkably mean-looking little man, who received us in the corner of an immense hall, whence he, preceded us through a range of rooms into an inner one, where we remained looking foolish for the space of about ten minutes, at the end of which time we, retired out of the presence of the Light of the Universe, about as wise as we came, and not in the least edified by our visit. He took little notice of " His Serene Highness," much less of such Christian dogs as Charley Lindsay and myself, though we had been fighting the battles of his miserable country. I got a passage in the Severn, and here I must resume, my "Correspondence."
Aug. 3, Kadikoi. — Here I am again, having had a prosperous passage though very slow — to economise coal — and a good deal of swell. There goes the pounding away up at the front, which you so well know, like, the ticking of a clock.
Aug. 9, 10 p.m. — Just returned from a ride to the outposts, eighteen miles off, under a burning sun. We, went as far as the Phoros Pass, about a mile short of which is our extreme outpost picket, consisting of two squadrons of cavalry under Edmund Peel, 11th Hussars; our party consisting of Barnard, père et fils, Steele, Foley, Portal, Leicester, Curzon, Ned Somerset, A. Hardinge, Morgan (17th Lancers), and self; and a most beautiful ride we had.
Aug. 11 — Inspection of my brigade by General Scarlett.
The 12th Lancers, just arrived from India, is a beautiful regiment, and naturally forms a great contrast to the poor remnants of the 4th and 13th, though the Carbineers are of course very effective, having only lately joined from England. The brigades of cavalry are now formed, called the "Heavies," the "Bashis" (Light Brigade) and the Dirties " (Hussar Brigade). Lawrenson, myself and Parlby being made Brigadier-Generals.
I was taking my usual look out of window for one of those little white clouds [the smoke of Artillery.] "no bigger than a man's hand," rising in the moonlight, from behind the Kamara hills, when I observed some of them, but as I had been so often deceived by them, I did not think much of it.
Portal came in, saying they looked more like business, all doubts of which were soon at an end by a "Bang-bang" from our Artillery, and we joining, the brigade formed up in their usual place, the suspicious-looking clouds becoming thicker every moment, amid a general exclamation, "There's a find this morning!" About five the real action commenced, and lasted three hours, ending in a complete victory, with heavy loss to the enemy ; but I shall in this letter give no account of the battle, reserving it for a separate letter. Suffice it here to say that, as usual, our poor cavalry were very nearly getting into a desperate scrape, through the imprudence of others, the scene of what would have been our desperate advance (had it taken place) having been, strange to say, from the very place which was the end of our advance on the Balaclava day.
And here, as I describe in my account of the battle, did we sit on our horses for a certain mauvaise demi-heure, or more, with pretty near certain destruction staring us in the face, the first move before us being to cross an aqueduct over a plank bridge wide enough only for about three horses abreast, with the concentrated fire of the enemy's guns upon us.
The Battle of Tractir Bridge from William Simpson's The Seat of War in the East, second series. I am grateful to John Sloan for permission to use this image, which appears on the Xenophongi web site and which graciously he has agreed to share with the Victorian Web. Copyright, of course, remains with him.
Click on the image for a larger view
When the battle was over, and after I had sent my brigade home, I rode from the ford in the Tchernaya where there was always a mounted sentry stationed, to warn us of the holes in the river, and near which was our position in the battle, all along the course of the aqueduct, to the Tractir Bridge and some 300 or 400 yards beyond, which had been the chief scene of the conflict, and neither the Alma nor Inkermann fields presented more ghastly sights than I here saw; the aqueduct being full of the dead and dying, and their numberless little ladders, which they had brought to enable them to cross it.
The Tractir Bridge was also a great scene of slaughter. Here, as some of us were occupied in giving the poor fellows brandy from our flasks, the Russians from the Spur Battery opposite sent a volley of six or seven round shot at us, one of which went into the bank close to my head. I was at this moment sitting with my reins on my horse's neck, with my flask in one hand and the stopper in the other, preparatory to pouring out some brandy into a flask held by Jenyns, who was standing dismounted beside me, with the cup in his hand. The effect of this volley was a general skurry of all around, the excitement of which, and the noise of the shot made old "Exquisite" start forward, and before I could catch the reins and stop him he knocked over three or four fellows. The Russians could perfectly see the charitable nature of our occupation, and it exasperated us all a good deal. I spent a great part of the afternoon again on the battle-field.
Aug. 26. — I have written to the Duke of Cambridge a detailed account of the doings of my brigade at the Tchernaya, because I foresee that there will be another set made against our unfortunate cavalry in that affair, than which nothing can be more unjust. We have been having continual alarms and turns-out since the battle of the 16th. As we sit on our horses at break of day, watching, for the faint streaks of morning, it is very exciting to watch the point by Kamara Church, where the attack is expected, and there are generally small white clouds that rise, and resemble exactly the smoke from guns, and then the betting begins, whether there will be a "find," the odds against it gradually rising till 7 o'clock, when we turn in, and I have the same look-out from my bedroom-window from which I saw the commencement of the 16th. I was standing by an intelligent non-commissioned officer of the 13th to-day, who superintends in their work all the rascally Croates, Greeks, etc., and he said, "Ah, my lord, there is not one of these men who does not get three times the pay that I do" — which is perfectly true.
Sept. 5 — The old story, eternal turns-out, and we are more harassed than our allies in this respect. For a wonder I woke this morning, and found it broad daylight, which is an agreeable change. But things are looking like a retreat of the Russians to the north side, by the new bridge which has been lately finished. My impression has always been that the battle of the Tchernaya was their last effort — for they timed it to the completion of their bridge.
Sept. 8. — The great Malakhoff taken to-day. Hodge had been sent up in the morning with four squadrons to keep the ground.
Sept. 9. — Good news this morning. The, Russians evacuated the Redan at midnight — and it looks from the front as if they had set fire to everything. I spent a couple of hours to-day in the Malakhoff and Redan, the immensity of which works quite startles an ignoramus like me. But such slaughter! and the town appears to be a mass of flames. The cessation of fire seems so odd to us. It is like an old clock ceasing to tick.
Sept. 10. — We have had such a long ride today, entering Sebastopol by the Woronzoff road, and coming out of the town on the Kamiesh side. What a scene of havoc is that town! It must indeed have been like the infernal regions — nothing but crumbled walls, and every building smashed by our shells; but strange to say, clean, and no smells, and few carcasses lying about. The French have been plundering a good deal; while on our side regiments are placed at all entrances to the town, to make Englishmen disgorge what they have taken, which makes our fellows very savage.
Lots of material of war and stores left.
Sept. 11.-- We found a mine yesterday in the Malakhoff, and a wire to explode it. A mine exploded yesterday close to me, and killed several people. I was contemplating yesterday the field of French killed in the Malakhoff, and laid out in rows of twenty for burial — with no very agreeable sensations — when it struck me that one of them, in about the centre, was breathing. I picked my way to him, among the dead, opened his shirt, and felt his heart beat. I then pointed this out to the first French officer I could find — who was quite furious; whether at the event itself, or at its being discovered by an English officer, deponent sayeth not. However, I had the satisfaction of seeing him carried away on a stretcher to the Hospital. Parlby has come to stay at my house, very ill, from the transport in which he has been the last ten days, and Scarlett and Lawrenson have both been ill. I have for some time had a strange affection in my left leg. I cannot raise a toe from the ground, nor can I raise my foot up from my bed; they cannot make it out, but say there is nothing paralytic in the affection; neither if I lose my foot out of the stirrup can I catch it again, nor in walking can my toe help tripping me, up, which was fully exemplified among the' broken ground of the Malakhoff, when I came on my head about half-a-dozen times.
Sept. 16. — I have been occupied all day by a most painful occurrence. Just opposite, and close to the windows of my house, is an old and disused well, which the men had strict orders never to use. Two artillerymen, however, had let a bucket down to try and get water — and lost the bucket. One of them descended to get it, when the old walling have way and buried him under it, but forming a sort of roof, it is supposed over him. After digging for two hours, they came, to him and found him alive, and when I looked down, I could distinctly see his face, and hear him moaning. But, alas! there is a fearful deal between him and this world, for large stones have settled themselves over him, and at any moment all may crash in upon him!
I proposed to dig a shaft to him from a distance but the engineers say it is impracticable. We have been able to pass down some brandy to him, but fear we cannot save him.
11 p.m. — They have been obliged to give up work for the night, and think he is dead.
Sept. 17. — It is true that he is dead; they have got to him, but cannot get his shoulders out, and are going to bury him where he is! What a horrid death — as if there were not horrors enough without this! I still think the shaft was worth a trial. Our medals have come, and I think the man whose taste the clasps were ought to be obliged to wear one. They already call them here "Port," "Sherry" and "Claret."
Oct. 4 — Scarlett has just been in my room, and told me that a brigade of cavalry was wanted on an expedition somewhere, though he was not at liberty to tell me where. He was pleased to be very complimentary, and told me that he had selected me, which flatters me much, for I am, as you know, the junior of the three brigadier-generals out here. We are to embark if possible to-morrow.
Evening. — Our destination is Eupatoria.
Oct. 5. — The French are pushing towards the Belbek, and the Turks are to move forward from Kertch, and I suspect that when the enemy are threatened on these points, and by us from Eupatoria, where there is a large contingent of French and Turks, the Mackenzie Heights will be attacked, and the Russian army would then be in a critical position; but it is rather late in the season for all this.
Oct. 9. — The Simla arrived this morning to take us, but it is blowing so hard that she cannot enter the harbour.
Oct. 10. — Still blowing so hard that no vessel can enter or leave the harbour. I am trying to get some lasso harness, in case we should have another chance with their guns.
Simla, Oct. 13. — At last we have got on board, after many days' delay, chiefly on account of the weather. We have got on board the head-quarters of the Carabineers and some of the 12th Lancers, but about one hundred more horses remain to be embarked to-morrow, so we shall possibly not get off till Monday, and we have only three days' water on board. She has not been given time to re-water here, so the captain says that if we are delayed a day in landing he will have to make a bolt of it somewhere.
Sir Colin Campbell's Division and ten thousand more French infantry, and artillery in proportion, are ordered to Eupatoria, so we may whistle for the Bosphorus this winter.
Oct. 14, 1 p.m. — Just clearing out of the harbour, and passing the old Leander. We expect to be off Eupatoria before dark. The remainder of the 12th Lancers (about three-quarters of them) are ordered not to embark till further orders, which puzzles me much. I fancy it must be that they are anxious to get the infantry and artillery off as soon as possible, and don't like the cavalry to interfere with them.
Oct. 15. — Just come on board from seeing General D'Allonville, who knew nothing of our coming, and thought I had only brought a regiment. He told Conolly he was horridly bored at our coming; that he had plenty of people to do all that could be done from here, and these it was very difficult to feed; that he could not understand why we had been sent, but supposed, by all these troops being sent, that it was intended to make an advance on Simpheropol. He is all against staying the winter here, and has represented to Pelissier that it is not a place to winter in. When the weather breaks up, we shall not have communication with the shipping above an average of seven days a month, and we must therefore have large stores of provisions, which it is now too late to accumulate. The naval people have just sent word that we cannot land to-morrow.
Off Eupatoria, Oct. 16. — I have been on shore all day, and called on the Turkish Mushir who soon had all his maps out, and talked of an advance on Simpheropol. But we are too late by a month! The most that we can do is to harass them in their line of communication with Perekop. I get terribly bruised about my shins, scrambling about the boats, etc., with my game leg. There is always a certain amount of surf here, and to-night it looks like blowing, so if we can't land to-morrow, we shall be in straits for water. I rode all round the intrenchments to-day, which appear strong, but our chief strength is in the shipping.
Poor Jenyns (my brigade-major) is very ill, which is very harassing to me. The French have of course monopolised the best quarters, etc. It is a very dreary place, and the prospect of a winter here is not cheerful.
Off Eupatoria, Oct. 17. — I have at last got instructions from Simpson, wherein he announces that the Highland Division are not coming, and a letter from Steele (in the same envelope) saying that they are coming (though the latter a day's later date). There is such work going on here, about appropriation of quarters; the French and Turks at loggerheads, each having taken all they can, in the midst of which we fall to the ground, though I believe Conolly has secured me a house. We are much puzzled, and so is D'Allonville, at all the counter-orders we get. I don't wonder at all you say and feel about the Government's treatment of Lord Stratford, but I suppose there is a little to be said on the other side.
Simla, Oct. 18 — Just on the point of landing ... they are going to send me 1200 Bashi-Bazouks from Constantinople, whom I have no ambition for.
D'Allonville evidently don't love Pelissier, and don't spare him to me. He says Pelissier has got all he wants or can ever get, and is now going to make him (D'Allonville) do everything, and perhaps run his head against a wall.
All that are here have landed, but we expect more to-morrow. D'Allonville has not yet heard that the Highland Division have been countermanded.
Eupatoria, Oct. 19. — The remainder of the 12th Lancers and Land Transport arrived this morning, and have been landing all day, but unfortunately the Oneida, with part of them on board, has got aground, and they cannot get her off, and if it comes on to blow, of which there is every appearance, she stands a good chance of being lost.
When I told [D'Allonville] of my apprehension of difficulty in my taking the field so soon, on account of my Land Transport, provisions, etc., not being landed, he said it was of no consequence for a couple of days; and when I added, " Well, I will undertake to be ready by that day, and do the best I can," he was very complimentary, and I was loudly applauded by the officers of my staff afterwards, to whom, however, I explained my previous remark, in order to guard against the possibility of our transport not being landed in time. The opinion of most is that the enemy are making their way out of the Crimea, by an orderly retreat, but I own that I do not see any symptom to justify so hasty a conclusion. Letters from Balaclava, say that another attack on the Tchernaya is expected. D'Allonville hears from spies that two Russian infantry divisions face us here, about 30 miles off and 20 miles from each other, their entire cavalry occupying a position between them. We shall "offer them battle" (his favourite expression), which if they will not accept, he will not follow them to Moscow (in his own words), and then we shall return.
Oct. 20. — Oneida got off to-day, and the remaining 12th Lancers and Land Transport are now landed, which completes my brigade, and we are perfectly ready (as far as we can be with our imperfect organisation) to take the field on the 22nd. Just got D'Allonville's programme: to march in two columns and effect a junction in the interior.
Oct. 21. — A busy day to-day after church, arranging for the sortie to-morrow. What a deal there is to do to get even 1200 men and horses under way! However, I think everything is ready now and that we shall cut a respectable figure with "nos braves alliés" at a quarter to four to-morrow morning, an hour and a half before daylight, when it won't be very warm.
Oct. 24 — Just returned from expedition No. 1, a bloodless affair, as far as we know for certain, though I can't help thinking we must have knocked over some fellows. We got off at daybreak on Monday (22nd), and proceeded due north along a steppe track leading over an arm of Lake Sasik Guilore; then bending to the east, we skirted the lake (halting for two hours at the village of Tiumen) till we got to Karagurt, where we bivouacked that night. About four miles before we got here some twenty squadrons of the enemy, with light guns, appeared formed up in our front, at which the French horse artillery made some beautiful shots. They then retired in front of us, keeping at a respectful distance the remainder of the afternoon, and did not molest us at Karagurt.
Yesterday (Tuesday) we proceeded at daybreak, in a southerly direction, to the village of Temesch (about three miles), when we came in view of a much larger body, consisting apparently of about thirty-six squadrons, and strong in artillery. These retired before us for a couple of miles (the time being occupied by sundry laughable skirmishes between the Bashis and the Cossacks) till we came to the village of Tuzla, from a slightly rising ground in front of which we came in view of our friends formed up in position.
Here we, deployed and advanced, expecting to have a brush with them, but they then began a fresh retreat, on which we changed our front and had a very pretty field-day with them, bringing up our guns, French and English, and playing upon them very prettily, which they answered, but without effect. After this we followed them some two or three miles, but could proceed no farther for want of water, so we took our midday halt in front of them and then retired upon Sak, due north, and bivouacked there for the night.
A prettier day's work cannot be conceived — two such large bodies of cavalry manoeuvring against each other for a whole day in such an open country. The first day the French were in front; the second day we were. The other column went by the road between the lake and the sea, and made, I fancy, rather a mess of it; for instead of attacking some Russians opposed to them, as ordered, and thus getting possession of Sak, they did not venture on this attack, but allowed the Russians to remain in that village on Monday night, and consequently were without water for thirty hours: besides that, they, then failed to form a junction with us at Tuzla, as agreed upon.
To-day we quietly returned here from Sak (about fifteen miles) along the causeway between the lake and the sea, the enemy not venturing to show themselves on the commanding ground that overlooks the commencement of the causeway, from which, however, it is due to say that they would have been peppered by our ships, a French and English man-of-war, who covered our retreat, and who had had a drive at the enemy more than once during these three days. Captain Hamilton, commander of our ship, has just been with me, and reports having seen large masses of the enemy's infantry, whom we never saw.
And now for my disasters. At our first day's halt none of my three servants turned up with my horses and mule, so we had to trust to the charity of our friends. Late at night they turned up (two of them at least), but having lost my patrol-tent and most of my things. The other servant, with my bullock-trunks, eatables, etc., never came up at all, so I was not able to take off my coat even, and had not a bed to lie on, or warm clothes at night, the consequence of which is that I am very unwell. For the three days we were all under the impression that he had been taken prisoner, as he separated from the others many miles from home, but to our surprise we found him here on our return, with most of my things, all safe. His cock-and-bull story is, that he got surrounded by Cossacks, from whom he escaped in the night, which is all probably a lie. But it is not the less curious that he should have found his way home, when it is remembered that he was left behind in an open enemy's country, some seven or eight miles from home. We lost three horses last night from want of water.
Eupatoria, Oct. 25. — Nothing to write about from here, except that at last I am a " Consul," a dignity at which I never expected to arrive, and of which I became aware by a letter from D'Allonville, begging me in my capacity as consul to issue a proclamation on the subject of wrecks on the shore, of which, by the bye, there are plenty. D'Allonville expects resistance at Sak next time, which I much doubt.
Oct. 26. — Cold, — very cold. Just got D'Allonville's details for our sortie to-morrow. He intends to follow them as far as the Bulganak, if they retire that way. I own that if I had not great confidence in him I should be nervous for our comparatively small force, for it will be an enterprising expedition. D'Allonville has urged me so strongly that I have consented to write an official intimation to Simpson, that he (D'Allonville) is very anxious for us to go away as a relief to his troops, which will be left.
Sak Camp, Oct. 28, Evening.-- It is almost too cold to write, and I am not very well. We left Eupatoria yesterday morning at daybreak, and proceeded along the same strand before described, expecting to find the enemy on the high ground overlooking the end of the causeway, ready to receive us - but they were "non sunt." When we got on to this place we left the infantry here and made a very rapid advance of some five miles, till our guns came into action with the enemy, formed up almost in the same position where we left them the other day, though in much greater force, and well entrenched. We had a smartish cannonade for about an hour without more result on our side than seventeen killed and wounded, though it was a wonder there were not more, as their practice was very good, and they had much the heaviest pieces.
After we had been at it some time, D'Allonville sent to beg I would advance my battery (Thomas's) farther to the front, which I did, (1) when he made good practice, which however brought on us some heavy fire. I had placed the 12th Lancers in first line in support of the guns, and the other three regiments in support of them, and at one time the fire was very thick around me and my staff, one shell bursting in the Centre of a squadron of the 12th Lancers without touching a man or a horse. After this work had gone on for some time we retired back here to Sak and rejoined the infantry, getting in very late after a long day's work in a broiling sun (which has quite knocked me up), followed by a very cold night. This morning, we had our tents struck and packed and our horses saddled two hours before daybreak, rather expecting to be attacked; but they did not show themselves.
We went at them, again this morning, and had a manoeuvring field-day all the morning; one of the prettiest military spectacles it is possible to conceive — some 100 squadrons of cavalry manoeuvring against each other, in the open steppe land, the only real bit of manoeuvre there has been yet during the war.
For hours we tried in vain to 'tice them on, for it was impossible for us to attack their entrenched position, the more so as they were very superior to us in numbers both of troops and guns. So about 12 o'clock we gave it up, and came back here (Sak), where we find there is no water left — the wells have been sucked dry by our drain on them last night; so as there is no more water in a circumference of many miles, we must return to Eupatoria to-morrow, which I for one am not sorry for, for I am quite knocked up, and cannot stand much fatigue now have gone to bed (4 p.m.), and write this from between the blankets. D'Allonville has just sent me a bottle of water, with which I luxuriate in a cup of coffee. I was riding alongside of one of our Bashi-Bazouks yesterday, on our return to camp, when I saw in one of his hands the broken stock of his carbine, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and in his other hand the barrel, which had just burst in skirmishing. He gave it me to look at, on my making signs to him to do so, and by his gestures showed that he wished me to keep it, and I had some difficulty in forcing him to accept a few shillings for it — a curious trait, in contradiction of their general character for rapacity and dishonesty.Eupatoria, Oct. 29, Evening. — We marched at daylight this morning, and got in about 10 a.m. It was a miserable ride to me, and I had to change horses, to ride an easier horse, "Hoghunter," but I went to bed when I got in, and have remained there ever since. But there is nothing really to be alarmed at, and in a few days the doctor says I shall be all right. Yesterday as we were marching home, with the enemy's cavalry on our right flank, I suddenly saw all the officers rushing out of the ranks towards them, heedless of my shouts; but my ire was somewhat appeased (though I gave them a good blowing up afterwards), by seeing a Russian greyhound coursing a hare, within allowable distance of us. Portal secured the greyhound and the hare, which we are going to cook for dinner. A curious hare to eat, certainly.
Eupatoria, Oct. 30, Evening. — Better to-day, but I always dread the evenings, when I get worse. Conceive D'Allonville having just called, and after telling me that I am the Murat of the age, that the English cavalry is the finest in the world, and my brigade the cream of it, proposing that I and the commanding officers should dine with him next day, that he may drink the Queen's health! So I shall have to make a speech in French! Now I am not paid for this, or for being a consul! So I am in a regular fix!
Oct. 31. — Seedy to-day, and quite knocked up writing despatches from my bed, and have shown, I think, some diplomacy in speaking of " nos braves alliés," in the following instance. On the morning of the 29th inst. as our patrol (under Lieutenant Adlington) was re-entering our position or line of outposts about 3 a.m., it was fired into by the advanced line of French sentries, which. fired six or seven shots at his party, wounded Mr. Hunt's horse and a trooper, and sent a shot through a dragoon's shako. Adlington behaved with presence of mind, rushing forward and saving further mischief. It was of course quite dark. I, of course, made a minute investigation into the case, and ascertained that Adlington had, on being challenged as usual, given the proper word several times.
I, of course, reported the circumstance to D'Allonville, and received all sorts of expressions of sorrow and apology, and I believe the officer in command of the outpost was placed in arrest. So in my despatch I put the casualty down to the enemy, and. wrote a private letter to Steele about it.
But my French dinner sticks in my gizzard, and I wish it was over. I have just had (in a most overflowing letter from D'Allonville) the announcement of our departure " d'ici à quinze jours," but doubtless you will know our movements before we do. In my despatch to Simpson, a copy of which I enclose, I made a mistake in our casualties. They ought to have been 20 instead of 19. It is so wearisome never getting a post; we have many due now..
Nov. 3. — My whole time is taken up with courts-martial, chiefly for drunkenness. The Government, in the plenitude of its wisdom, has increased the soldier's pay sixpence a day, in the shape of field allowance, the consequences of which are beginning to be felt, this being paid to them out on service, when the only possible way for the loose, ones to spend it is in drink. Had they been given this boon, to be accumulated on discharge (the single ones), or to be remitted to the families of the married ones, it would have been a beneficial measure; as it is, it is the reverse. The poor people here (I mean the inhabitants) are in a great state of distress; it is pitiable to see them. The chief marketable commodity is horse-flesh, of which there is a tolerable supply in the markets daily. The head is the delicacy, of which none can be procured except early in the morning, when it is all bought up.
Nov. 6. — I am rather angry at the want of consideration shown me at hearing nothing, from headquarters, as there are continual opportunities, by vessels coming from Kamiesh. It is more than a fortnight since I sent a list of three sick officers, recommended by the doctors to go away, and no answer yet. I take all this rather to heart. More than a week ago D'Allonville communicated to me, from his chief, that it had been arranged that we were to leave, this, and I have not yet heard anything of it. He is all amazement, and no wonder.
Nov. 7. — It is blowing nearly a gale, and no communication with the ships. One feels here entirely isolated from the rest of the world. Portal goes out shooting most days, and generally brings home something-partridge, hare, snipe or plover-and there are, or rather were, very good fish, but the fishermen have now all crone to Balaclava, the season being over.
Nov. 8. — No boat! No letters! I don't think we shall attempt anything more from here this year. However well Eupatoria may look on the map, as a point from which to harass the communications of the enemy, there are many considerations attending it. Doubtless they might be much harassed from here, but it would require a very large force, a much larger one, than we have, to do so effectively. Eupatoria is two long days (forced) marches from their line of communication. There is no water to be got between this and that, at least on the surface, though water, I believe, may be generally got by digging for it. But, troops cannot take a long day's march and then dig wells, to be destroyed the moment they leave them.
To operate successfully against their line of communication, it would be necessary to have a force encamped and entrenched within one day's march of them, that is, some twenty miles in the interior, from which to operate. For this a large force would be required to garrison the entrenched camp, besides those who went out to operate against the enemy.
Then there must be the garrison of Eupatoria, and in addition a movable column to protect the line of communication between the camp and Eupatoria. As it is, we go scrambling out, and are obliged to make shift with what little water we can find, and dare not proceed far for the want of it. I say all this, because I look forward to the Times having a fling at us for not having done more.
Nov. 9. — I will now describe to you a little episode in our life, which you will say was rather a trial to us. Yesterday a sailing transport came in, and during dinner an official bag, duly sealed up, was brought in to me. Well, officially sealed envelopes are opened one after another, till at last out tumbles a — box of Cigarettes.
I will now give you a description of our "ponch d'adieux," last night [which follows in the original] ...
Suffice it to say that, on waking this morning, faint visions came over me of having said " that we were once enemies, but that, heureusement, we were now friends, and God grant we might continue so; that, when allies, we could conquer the world, and how we looked forward to fighting again another year (God save the mark!) by the side of "nos braves alliés," etc. etc. And the sound is still ringing in my ears of " Vive le Général Paget!"
Paget's drawing of the "ponche d'adieux"
Dissolve, fade, vanish ye shades of Balaclava, and Inkermann, and hide your diminished heads ye décorés of those clasps! This is the clasp that I shall apply for, as one that I more richly deserve than any of them, and for which I have already sent in my claim to Tom Steele.
D'Allonville told me last night that he knew from certain information that the force opposed to us on the 27th ult. consisted of 60,000 men, against which we had about 5000 French infantry, 2000 English and French cavalry, and about 15,000 buono Johnnys, and yet they did not dare attack us.
Nov. 10. — Post at last come in. As I cannot go to the Bosphorus quicker than with my brigade, I shall go with it, though if there had been any serious delay, I think I must have given it up, which D'Allonville, with many others, have been long urging me to do; but when I get to the Bosphorus, rest will set me on my legs again. Scarlett writes me word that the French have been very niggardly of their Légion d'Honneur, and that two only were placed at his disposal for the cavalry, these two being given to myself and Mayow. It is blowing a hurricane, and our poor fellows are suffering much discomfort in their tents on the beach.
Nov. 11 — The gale still continues and it is bitterly cold, and the poor horses are without hay, as none can be landed.
Nov. 12. — Another mail! So Codrington is appointed Commander-in-Chief! What an ill-used man is old Colin Campbell! If you were to canvass the whole army, I believe it would be unanimous for him.Nov. 13. — Scarlett writes me word, " Every day I hear a different story about you. One day you are to embark immediately, the next it is to be, delayed. There are three vessels here now, but whether they will be sent for you I know not." D'Allonville heard from Pelissier to-day that we shall be detained some time, longer, as they expect Eupatoria to be attacked; but we don't believe it. Just got an order for a sortie on Friday, a squadron from each regiment under a colonel, the whole under General de Failly, ostensibly to destroy some village, but really to take a look round, and see if there is anything in the wind, and to show ourselves.
Nov. 15 — The health of our men here has been wonderful, only one death as yet (pulmonary). But the sick list begins to increase. Blowing very hard.
Nov. 16. — A whole gale, and intensely cold; they say that snow is the only thing that will get the wind down. D'Allonville came to me this morning and we had a long talk. His admiration of my brigade, is really very great. But he makes a bad shot when he says that his chief admiration is the care that our men take of their horses, or rather the affection they seem to have for them, for this is the very point on which we complain.
I have been making an urgent appeal for a tug here. Here is an open roadstead; and the continued gales prevent the ships anchoring, except at a great distance from the shore. There are only a few hours a week when we can land anything, and we can only take advantage of these short snatches with row boats, and consequently our horses are starving from want of hay. We continually have to borrow from the French and they are little able to help us, but D'Allonville is such a good fellow, he continually tells me that he considers us all as one, and that he is bound to look after our interests as much as his own troops. But it is rather humiliating that the great maritime power of the world cannot furnish a tug for such an emergency.
Nov. 18. — The telegraph from here was yesterday reported as completed. What strange times we, live, in! — that we, who have hardly been able to communicate with each other for weeks, should all of a sudden be within a few minutes' communication of each other.
The misery in this place is something fearful, and the prospects of the poor Tartars for the winter is sad. The children run about nearly naked and without shelter for their poor heads in this severe weather. We have got through our fresh meat (taken in that fortunate capture), and I have nearly got through all the provisions I brought, having to feed a good many mouths.
Nov. 19. — D'Allonville has just told me that his spies tell him that the Russians are retiring out of the Crimea. Three regiments of Russian cavalry have this evening made their appearance with guns close to us, at the bridge leading over the arm of the lake, and we are all to be ready to turn out at daybreak, and a strong reconnaissance of French cavalry to turn out in the morning.
Nov. 20. — We have had such a long cold day in search of the enemy. We waited all the morning for the return of the reconnaissance, and then went on ourselves; and I had a very pretty afternoon's manoeuvring, covering the retreat of the French over the bridge, for the enemy came down upon us with guns, when I opened some guns at them and they dispersed like a covey of partridges.
Nov. 22. — D'Allonville's spies just returned from Perekop, having been also at Simpheropol, and they tell him that the whole road between the two is covered with vehicles and troops making their way out. Then he went into a long conversation about his position, projects, etc., from which, and from his evident desire to put me au fait of everything, I glean that he apprehends adverse judgments as to what he has done here. He dwelt on the fact, which is quite true, that we are not strong enough to have attempted any offensive movements, even if we could have got water, and that his relations with the "Mushir" had been such that he dared not count on him or his troops; and on his appeal to me I certainly could not disagree with him. I fancy, however, that he will make another attempt before we embark, for he said, "What a capital thing it would be if we could make some coup together before we separate!"
Nov. 23. — The ships are coming at last — three sailing ships just come in for the Horse Artillery, which will commence embarking to-morrow, and three men-of-war have come to embark us. Beautiful weather, so all looks well. They are going to be very civil to me, and send H.M.S. Valorous to take me and my staff.
Nov. 24. — Embarking artillery all day, and they will be all embarked to-night, but a slight surf running. The Valorous in sight, but I shall not go till the last. To our surprise, Valorous has brought Scarlett, but only on a lark, to have a look at us, and he returns tomorrow to Balaclava. He says he has not heard from me for a long time, though I have been very regular in my correspondence. The post-office has certainly broken down here.
Reduced to salt pork, and we should be very badly off but for the kindness of D'Allonville, who keeps on sending me provisions and has begged me to live with him till I go, which, however, I can't do, as there are too many of us, and I don't like deserting the rest.
Nov. 26. — Artillery sailed to-day, and 4th Light Dragoons sail tomorrow in Candia. Bitterly cold, freezing hard, but surf gone down, and if the ships will come we shall embark like lightning, for we have got a capital set of navy captains, whose crews work beautifully. It has been snowing all day.
Nov. 27. — Regularly set in with snow. Jason just come in, in which I shall send the 13th Light Dragoons.
Nov. 28. — Jason all full (12 o'clock), having only commenced with her at 7. If we had more ships we could be filling them equally fast, so we rather grudge this fine weather lost.
Nov. 30. — Ætna goes today with Carabineers. I shall probably leave to-morrow with the 12th, etc., if we get more ships. But it is coming on to blow. The Russians have again appeared in the villages round.
Dec. 1 — Kangaroo tomorrow will take remainder of Carabineers and some of 12th Lancers; but as for the last three days every alternate hour has been gale and calm, frost and thaw, rain and snow, it is difficult to know what will happen. One actually swims about here now, and the poor 12th Lancers are quite flooded, the sea washing, into their tents.
Dec. 2 — It has been blowing a gale from the south-west all day, which has entirely stopped embarkation; but the sea has gone down this evening, and the wind gone round to the north, which is favourable.
Dec. 3. — I was on the point of embarking today in the Golden Fleece when it came on to blow so hard from the east that embarkation was discontinued, and it is now blowing a hurricane and likely to continue.
Dec. 4. — Blowing still, and very heavy sea, stopping communication with the ships.
Dec. 6. — Worse prospects than ever. Wind come round to southwest again, after having boxed the compass, and blowing very hard. The coast in such a state! I rode some distance along it today and found the shore strewed with carcasses of horses and beasts, and sometimes human beings. The latter such a sight! The 12th were quite washed away last night, and had to shift their ground this morning to where the others had been.
Dec. 7. — Our navy is a remarkably fine one, as all the world knows, and does wonders, especially in embarking troops, but they have an unpardonable drawback in their "dinner hour," a sort of religion with them, for which they sacrifice the interests of the service. The wind generally begins to blow here about midday. Several times during our embarkation it has occurred that a ship has been loaded (except about two boat-loads) by 12 o'clock, their dinner hour, and if this had been completed the ship might have sailed, though it would have delayed their dinner by at most an hour and a half. On all these occasions the embarkation in these ships could not be completed, and the sailing of the ship delayed a day. This occurred again to-day with the Golden Fleece, which is now lying this afternoon with only about thirty horses to embark to fill her up. And at what a cost to the country! A pretty calculation might be made of this when the amount per them paid for the transports is considered. It is really scandalous, and I ought to report it. What would be said of us poor soldiers if there was such a system with us? Our poor devils are only too glad if they can get any dinner at all, and get it when they can. Our officers have been chaffing the navy officers by asking them if it is true that the ships piped to dinner during the battle of Trafalgar.
On board the Golden Fleece, Dec. 5. — The wind came round unexpectedly in the night, and we were able to complete our embarkation this morning in this ship and Simla by 12 o'clock, — and now it is quite fine and smooth, and we are steaming away merrily.
Dec. 9. — Wind fair, but so little of it that we have to depend on our auxiliary screw, and so don't progress fast, but hope to be at the mouth of the Bosphorus by daylight. The whole brigade, which preceded me, arrived in the Bosphorus without casualty, the Simla and Golden Fleece, the latter containing myself and staff, and 12th Lancers, arriving off Scutari on December 10 in the morning.
Therapia, Dec. 10. — All hands on deck by daylight, to see once more a friendly shore. Passed the windows of Hôtel d'Angleterre at Therapia at 8.30, and the captain let me put on shore my servants, and bullock-trunk. Then on to Scutari, where I landed
Therapia, Dec. 12. — Having given myself one day's rest at Therapia, I went today to Scutari, and round the brigade. As usual, everything had been thought of, and ordered, too late, and the hutting for the cavalry was only just begun, and the drainage ditto. The men are mostly put up in Hyder Pasha Palace, a summer residence of the Sultan. We (the Light Brigade), being the last comers, have of course got the worst quarters.
Dec. 15. — Three days of drenching rain and wind.
Scutari, Dec. 20. - Deep snow and a gale of wind, not pleasant in our frail and thinly-roofed house, where we are delayed. The rats are a sporting race in these Turkish houses, all of which are divided into two parts, with a separate entrance and staircase — that appropriated to the harem being, in our case, the entrance also to the three-stall stable, which is under my dressing-room; and through the chinks in the floor I can see that my horses are given their proper allowance of food, so it has its advantages.
Embassy, Dec. 24. — Went over on a Christmas visit to the Embassy, where we occupied rooms somewhat in contrast to what I had been accustomed to.
Dec. 25. — A grand Christmas dinner, ending by a ball, snapdragon, etc., at which the middies of the ships (about 20) were the chief performers, and who made a victim of their kind old Admiral at blindman's-buff. They all clung, around him as if they were his own children, and his jolly laugh rings in one's ears.
" Here is another proof in point, deserving your Lordship's attention. A troop of Horse Artillery commanded by Captain Thomas embarked for Eupatoria, with the French Corps d'Armée under General d'Allonville, and soon found an opportunity of conspicuously exemplifying the purposes for which that brilliant arm can alone be employed. During a reconnaissance of the Russian position, and while traversing its base it was soon discovered by Captain Thomas (!) that the Russians had previously taken correct ranges from their position, commanding all points affording accessible approach to their outposts. Every shot within range told with fearful accuracy. Satisfying himself on this point, and observing that a strong post of Russian infantry, close to which the French column must necessarily pass, was beyond range of their guns, he requested a momentary halt of the troops, (!) and suddenly dashing forward at a gallop, advanced till within 300 yards of the Russian posts (!), rapidly unlimbered, and assailing them with case and grape, drove the enemy from the post in disordered flight.
"Having carried his point, he rejoined the French troops and was warmly received by General D'Allonville, and thanked by him in the presence of the Army."(!)
Truly the Royal Artillery know how to make the most of things; and how complimentary is this to the general officer, by whose immediate orders all this (or at least the little of it that is correct) was of course executed, and who naturally wonders whether, had this most important crisis turned out to our disadvantage, his name would have been entirely ignored from beginning to end! [back]
Last modified 29 May 2002