This material graciously had been shared with the Victorian Web by the Green Howards. Thanks are due to the Green Howards Regimental Museum, Richmond, North Yorkshire and to Mr. Kenneth Usherwood, the living relative of Charles Usherwood. Added by Marjie Bloy, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore

27 Sept 1854

In bivouac at Balaklava and Khadikoi. Today the French made their appearance at this place.

28 Sep l854

Still in bivouac at the above.

29 Sep 1854

Today the Allies moved upon Sebastopol distant from Balaklava about 6 miles, where we made our appearance on the left attack or in other words nearest to the rear the French taking the position nearest to the blue waters having Kharmeish as their harbour.

As we approached the towns we received no opposition which in fact to all appearances would lead one to believe scarcely many troops were just then located at Sebastopol, the only signs of warlike preparations being a single shot or so from the White towers (afterwards the famous Malakoff) and excepting a few directed against the French so close did we advance to the town and the apparent undefensive state of the south side certainly in soldier's opinion warranted an attack for as far as our knowledge went we felt sure of taking the place by assault, the only enemy up to dark perceived being a civilian on horseback on a piece of rising ground near to where the Black battery was afterwards erected covering the road to the town, and who on being fired at by a Rifleman or two galloped off into the town.

The Brigades of the Division having deployed into line piled arms when we were dismissed to cook our meal. During the night a false alarm roused us up but as the report turned out to be nothing we again lay down wrapped in our blankets by the side of our arms.

This map is taken from Christopher Hibbert's The Destruction of Lord Raglan, (Longmans, 1961), with the author's kind permission. Copyright, of course, remains with Dr Hibbert.

Click on the image for a larger view

30 Sep 1854

Today the Light Division moved away from the left and took up a position below the picquet house on the right adjoining the Woronsoff road and other side of the middle ravine and where it remained until the termination of the war, the 2nd Division being on its right and on the right of it the 1st Battalion Guards the ground to the right of the middle ravine being termed Inkerman. By a General order today the issue of a ration of rice to the troops which was sanctioned in General orders of 19 July will be continued until 15 Nov. A Depot also was formed at Balaklava as a garrison and was to consist of weak men, this port having been chosen by the British as their import and export harbour. During the day rumours were circulated that the engineers had found out; and cut a number of waterpipes that conveyed water into one part of Sebastopol.

and sentries being placed.

2 Oct 1854

In tents, and duties as yesterday — the guards mounting at 7 am and the outlying picquets relieved at daybreak when both old and new picquets remained under arms at their different posts until sunrise so as to frustrate any designs of the enemy. Today General orders as under were issued.

Notwithstanding the Army is now in the country of the enemy, the Commander of the Forces desires that all supplies taken from the inhabitants by the Commissariat Officers for the use of the troops to be paid for and brought to account in the usual manner.

The 2nd order ran thus

as a preposition to the army before commencing Siege operations the trench will be opened this evening against Sebastopol. A working party consisting of — furnished by the — Regiment will be marched to the Engineers depot at — pm where they will receive tools and directions from Engineer Officers and Sappers who will guide them to their work; they will be without arms or accoutrements. The guards for the protection of the Working party and ground will consist of men furnished by — and will parade at their camp at — pm will be conducted to their position and receive instructions from the Staff Officers who will be appointed for the purpose. All the movements of both parties must be if possible kept out of the view of the plain.

After moving from the last place of assembly which will be after dark, the utmost silence must be preserved and least possible noise of any kind made. The Working parties will be arranged in proper order by the Engineers but will not commence work until ordered after which it must be carried on with the greatest possible energy.

The Engineers will be charged with the arrangements, that the Officers of the troops must be responsible for the maintenance of order, attention to the directions given by the Engineers and for the amount of work done. On the diligence and regular conduct of the Working parties will depend the more rapid and complete success of the enterprise. The Working parties must not quit the work on slight alarm, if the enemy make a sortie the guard will advance and drive them in and before they reach the work if possible.

Should the Working party be absolutely obliged to retire, they will take their tools with them and reform at a short distance in rear, to return to their work when the sortie is repulsed. The guard will be posted in rear of the working party and near to it, if possible under cover of the fire of the place, if not, they must lie down in order of battle with accoutrements on and each man with his arms close bie him: One party not less than one third of the force absolutely on the alert all through the night, taking it alternatively ready for an immediate rush upon the enemy.

A sortie is out on the works in a short time and therefore the guard must be immediately in readiness to attack it without hesitation, nothing is so easily defeated as a sortie if charged without delay. After the repulse of any sortie the guard will return under cover as soon as possible and resume their position. All Working parties and guards will be composed of entire Regiments, and not of Detachments made up of different corps.

'Ere the siege properly began the Allies were obliged to drive the enemy's picquets beyond the position where the 21 gun battery was subsequently constructed also on the left, the so called Green hill before a trench was cut.

The works of the enemy being by no means at all formidable the only construction apparently on the south side being the white or round tower excepting on the left and nearer the sea, the casemated batteries or defences being inward and towards the harbour and Euxine, tho' of course they were well able to erect such defences composed of the same material as were the works of the Allies and which during the siege well proved its value.

Judging from operations visible to the eye the Great Redan was about one of their first works tho' as time and circumstances intervened underwent various changes rendering it at last a model piece of engineering as were also every other work behind which the Russians defended themselves

On the Inkerman side at the foot of whose heights ran from the harbour inland the river Tchernaya a road and viaduct led into the Karabelnaia, round the head of the Carreen bay. By this road during the former part of the siege the enemy brought in convoys and troops crossing from the north side the river by a bridge situated near to the Inkerman Quarries and which for a length of time till after the Battle of Inkerman they had possession of but on the French taking upon themselves to protect the extreme right was wrested from them, their only means of communicating with the garrison being afterwards by means of steamers and boats across the middle of the great harbour and from the direction of Fort Catherine.

Map of SevastopolWith regard to the situation of Sebastopol it will be sufficient to say that the North side has no town or in fact a house, the whole space being open land and the defences there on our first approach being to protect the harbour from the attacks of shipping for instance Fort Constantine, Starfort, Fort Catherine etc. The town, the Dockyards, the Arsenal etc. etc. being situated on the South side of the harbour the former being divided by the mercantile harbour into the town side and that of the Karabelnaia. The town being nearest the sea was protected seaway by casemated batteries, Forts Alexander, Nicholas etc. and the latter by Forts Paul etc. Evidently from the first it would appear that were the Karabelnaia to fall into the hands of the Allies the other parts must follow suit as in the former the public building the Docks and the Arsenal were located. Besides the position stood upon a higher elevation and could not be flanked as long as the Inkerman heights were held and which of course would be so, hence as it was afterwards proved by the bloody contests going on at this point of attack and defence at whose capture fell Sebastopol.

Within the waters of the great harbour could be seen that fleet which destroyed the Turkish at Senope, ignominiously keeping within its own bay tho' every now and then rendering what assistance its individual members were able to do by throwing a shell a shot or two, yet never seeming to aim to encounter the one at anchor within range of the forts of Sebastopol cooped up as it was consisting of three and two deckers, steamers, gun boats, and frigates, there it stayed awaiting the results of the siege, never daring to shew Its nose beyond the precincts of its own caboose and where to this day it lies excepting that of being afloat on the waters it lies embedded within Its own tomb beneath the surface of one of the finest sheets of water capable for a naval purpose.

Of the position taken up by the Allies in the immediate vicinity of the town, tho' of course their position for the whole of their armies covered a large area of ground from Inkerman to the seaboard to and beyond Balaklava and round on the ridge overlooking the valley Badair back to Inkerman again, looking as it did in fact at the later part of the war, the besiegers besieged in turn, as at one time a Russian Army watched them before Balaklava, another on the McKenzies heights thence stretching to the north side along.

But speaking of the vicinity, on the positions before Sebastopol the ground, intercepted by deep ravines, was cold, bleak, stony and barren, with not a vestige of a tree or shrub excepting on the Inkerman side where to the early part at December 1854 scarce a bush remained so entirely were we devoid of fuel that we were obliged to search for the roots of shrubs should there (like gold) be any remaining which while searching after drew upon us the fire of the enemies outposts sometimes killing and sometimes wounding such men as were so unfortunate. Water too was very scarce, indeed so scarce that to be in possession of a small quantity was ever considered a luxury there being only two or three springs or gullies to supply the wants of an army. This, however, was remedied towards the latter part of the siege a reservoir having been dug at the mouth of the valley of death (the ravine situated at the foot of Cathcart's Hill).

The army too was for about a month without tents and it was some time in October 1854 before they were sent to the troops.

4th October 1854

By a General order of the day the 7th, 23rd and 33rd Regiments will until reinforced be consolidated into 6 Divisions instead of 8 Companies each and in order to equalise the Brigades of the Light Division the left wing of the 2nd Btn RIfle Brigade will be attached to the 1st Brigade & d take post on the left of it, when not otherwise directed.

About this time of the month of October the cholera began again to take off many men and in one tent alone I saw 6 to 8 men rolling over one another in the agonies of death they having been carried to this tent to die.

Dysentery and diarrhoea too the old scourge of our army held fast to the various camps emaciating their victims and ultimately laying the cold hand of death upon very many of them. How to stop the ravages of these additional enemies the Medical Officers could not tell for the arrangements in the medical department were woefully deplorable and disgraceful in the extreme. Literally I have seen peer wretches turned away from the hospital covered as they were with filth and rags, to take care of themselves with perhaps only a Dover's powder washed down their throats by muddy water as an antidote for the acutest dysentery.

One poor creature with a miserable form crawling as he was on all fours actually was refused either medicine or admission into hospital simply because they had none and there was room in the hospital there being only one hospital tent then available and which was unsupplied either with bedding, medical comforts, cooking apparatus and even sufficient attendance. Finding all appeal to the brutal Sergeant Tarley of no avail the poor wretch made his way to the latrine and died near to the ditch of accumulated filth.

6th Oct l854

In today's Brigade orders the following appeared:

Officers Commanding Regiments are requested to impress upon their men the importance in the presence of to enemy of vigilance on the part of the sentries of the outlying picquets. Neglect on this point may compromise not only the lives of individuals, but the safety of an army.

A soldier found asleep on his post may be deservedly sentenced to death so important is his duty.

Each Regiment will detail daily one company to be always ready to turn out

During this month the army received their tents.

8 Oct 1854

By General orders of the day an extra ration of rum was authorized to be issued to the troops at sunset until further orders.

11 Oct 1854

In General orders the Commander of the Forces desired that the Working parties or covering parties should receive a free ration of rum in addition to the usual issue.

During the earlier part of this month several skirmishes took place between the Allies and the enemy's picquets but which in no way retarded the progress of the siege.

This evening the army furnished the following number of men for the trenches:

400 men at the Engineers' park in front of the Powder Mill at 4.30 pm to be furnished by the Light Division. [1]
The covering party of 1000 men from the 3rd & 4th Divisions.
3rd Division 300 men and 4th Division 600 men as Working parties.
Covering parties 2000 men.

12 Oct 1854

In today's General Orders Ensign Thomas Thompson was appointed to act as Adjutant of the 19th Regiment vice Cardew wounded in action. The following were the numbers required for tonight's duties

Green Hill Works or sailors' Battery 600 men of 3rd Division
4th Division 200 men to be relieved by equal numbers at midnight, this party to be further aided by 100 seamen with ship's Carpenters - Covering party 1000 men 4th Division — Frenchmen's Hill Works, 400 men of the 2nd Division to be relieved by an equal number at Midnight. Covering party 1000 men 2nd Division.

13 Oct 1854

By orders of today covering parties were to mount at 4 am end remain on duty 24 hours.

14th Oct l854

Major General Sir Colon Campbell, KCB was directed in General Orders to take charge of the British and Turkish troops (exclusive of the Cavalry) in front of and above Balaklava.

15 Oct l854

Appeared in General Orders of today

The ration of biscuit whilst the troops are employed in the present laborious operations to be 1 1/3 lb per man daily.

16 Oct l854

From the 2nd till the 16 Oct, the troops before Sebastopol worked with energy constructing batteries and entrenchments, repulsing sorties by night and skirmishes by day, scarcely ever taking off their clothes to rest, being as they were constantly on the alert for any attack which the enemy might make whom to speak well of lacked nothing in defending their position.

In order to assist the operations more fully the Commander in Chief adopted a voluntary measure consisting of sharpshooters of 10 men from each Regiment of the various Divisions, to be under charge of 1 Captain and 2 Subs and one Non Comd Officer from each corps, with directions that each man should select the spot that suits him best, and be guided only in that choice upon the cover it may give him of an effectual fire on the embrasures, Captain Bright of the 19th Foot having charge of the sharpshooters from the Light Division.

17 Oct l854

The Works of the Allies being now considered sufficiently advanced for a bombardment their batteries opened early this morning and which were replied to vigorously by the enemy doing considerable mischief in fact so much so upon. the Works of the French on the left attack, that they completely silenced them long before 3 pm. The British, however, whose batteries were more strongly built kept up the fire admirably especially from the Green hill and the 21 when 'ere noon had approached the White tower had crumbled and rendered useless tho' and excepting the earthworks at the base which every now and then discharged a round or two, the Redan as well suffered very much as large breaches were perceptible to the naked eye caused principally from the explosions of shells.

The enemy however nothing daunted kept well to their guns and had the satisfaction of greeting us with a terrific accident; immediately in front of the 21st for by chance one of their well directed shells blew up some powder boxes with a terrible noise, doing grievous harm to the men adjacent to the Work, 10 men of the 19 Foot being more or less wounded besides others of other Corps by the occurrence.

Stung to the wick by this mishap and by the shouts of the enemy our Artillerymen sent shot after shot upon the Redan with more fury than hitherto when as it would be for satisfaction's sake a by far more terrible explosion soon took place within the Redan, sending as it appeared a volume of fire towards the sky and which evidently must have been great and the sacrifice of life more so from the fact of their feebleness in replying thereafter.

Curious tho' the two incidents were, nevertheless our men cheered lustily in retaliation to the one the enemy gave them on the occurrence behind the 21.

As had been arranged the Fleet commenced their attack on the Works facing the sea and which would be about the hour of noon, gallantly they seemed to move in but scarcely had begun cannonading 'ere they were enveloped in dense masses of white smoke continuing as they did until about 3 pm when their fire gradually slackened and they drew off, as did also the fire from the batteries at about sunset.

With regard to the losses of life that of the enemy judging from the cannonading would certainly have been greatest, as at the close of the day their replies were but feeble. The casualties on the part of 19 Foot this day were 1 Sergeant (Campion), 1 Drummer and 8 Rank & File wounded.

After sunset the Light Division furnished the following numbers for duty in the trenches. The First Brigade, 400 men as a Working party at Frenchman's hill, and the 2nd Brigade 5 companies as a Working Party at the same place to be furnished by the 77th Regiment.

18 Oct 1854

During the whole of last night shells were exchanged pretty freely altho' both the enemy and the Allies were engaged in repairing the damages done to their respective works, and as morning approached opened again as heavy a bombardment as on the day previous keeping up the firing till evening when it again changed to shelling each other's works. The French having repaired their batteries also shewing a good figure as if to make up for yesterday.

On relieving the trenches the following was the detail furnished by the Light Division. The 1st Brigade a guard consisting of 9 companies to Green Hill battery taking with them their provisions ready cooked.

The 2nd Brigade to furnish 4 companies from the 19th Foot and 5 companies of the 77th Regiment for the covering party both parties to be on duty at Green Hill.

The 88th Regiment relieving the Company of 7th Fusiliers stationed in the valley one hour before daylight next morning as well as the three other picquets of the Brigade.

19 to 20 Oct 1854

For several days the firing from the Allies continued heavily and which was replied to vigorously by the besieged, both parties repairing under shade of night the damages done during the day and alternatively annoying each other with shells and occasional shots, the enemy too in addition extending their lines of defences to frustrate the encroachments of the besiegers.

This bombardment having resulted only to convince the Chiefs of the Anglo French armies that a regular siege was necessary in order to reduce the place especially when in consideration of the few men at their disposal in the event of an assault which latter the enemy proved to them would be madness to attempt, finally settled down into what may be termed the memorable siege of Sebastopol and which for the stubbornness, bravery, hardships and prolongation there displayed both by the besieged and besiegers must be ranked as one of the greatest in the annals of war.

20 Oct 1854

The first batch of wounded men were removed from before Sebastopol to the depot at Balaklava on this day, there being no accommodation for them in camp.

About this time an army of the Russians made their appearance in the valley of Badair and took up their position near to the Tracktin Bridge, and whose appearance no doubt stimulated the Allies to throw up entrenchments along the ridge of heights stretching from Inkerman down to Balaklava which from their position overlapped the valley. On the McKenzies heights the enemy also made his appearance.

24 Oct 1854

In General orders of today when fresh meat is issued the ration to be 1� lb each man, and in the same orders the number of sharpshooters were desired to be augmented, while too as an encouragement to the men to collect the shots that were thrown by the enemy, owing to the scarcity of these missiles in the British magazines, a payment of 4 pence for each small shot, and 6 pence for those of larger size was authorized to be paid to any soldier or seaman carrying the same to the camp of the Royal Artillery near the Light Division.

25 Oct 1854

The Russian army that had settled a day or two ago before Balaklava, began offensive operations by attacking two Redoubts garrisoned by the Turks, whom on their approach bolted without offering the least resistance and which ultimately led to a General Engagement in which the British Light Cavalry suffered severely. Not being an eye witness of this affair altho' the reports of cannonading and musketry could be distinctly heard by the troops before Sebastopol and who were out under arms the greater part of the day, suffice it will be to observe that this battle reflected both credit and discredit upon the British, tho' nevertheless no question could be put forward to the discredit of the bravery of the Troops engaged or the ultimate result of their behaviour as the enemy were defeated in their designs and prevented from further molesting for a time this position of the British.

26 Oct 1854

Not satisfied with the result of yesterday before Balaklava the enemy tried his hand in the shape of a sortie in broad day approaching as it appeared in the direction from the Carreen Bay toward the hill in front of the 1st Brigade Light Division, and of the 2nd Division where afterwards a redoubt was thrown up and named "Victoria". This sortie was met by the 2nd Division under Sir Lacy-de-Evans which after a sharp cannonading and fusillade he repulsed, the enemy retiring into the town.

Hitherto burials having been made at no particular place, and as it was desirable that some particular spot should be selected, a Division order was issued today directing the place in the ravine to the left of the Worensoff Road under the Picquet House to be the burial ground of the Light Division instead of in the hollow near the Windmill.

29 Oct 1854

In General after orders of this day the subjoined were issued to the troops in praise of the battle of Balaklava fought on the 25th and of the sortie repulsed on the 26th Inst.

The Commander of the Forces feels deeply indebted to Major General Sir Colon Campbell KCB for his able and persevering exertions in the action in front of Balaklava on the 25 Inst and he has great pleasure in publishing to the army the brilliant manner in which the 93 Highlanders under his able directions repulsed the enemy's cavalry. The Major General had such confidence in this distinguished Corps that he was satisfied that it should receive the charge in line, and the result proved that his confidence was not misplaced. The Commander of the Forces considers it his duty to notice the brilliant conduct of the Division of Cavalry under the command of Lt. Genl the Earl of Lucan in the action of the 25th Inst, he congratulates Br Genl the Hon J.G. Scarlett and the officers and men of the Heavy Brigade upon their successful charge and repulse of the Russian Cavalry in far greater force than themselves, and while he condoles with Major General the Earl of Cardigan and the officers and men of the Light Brigade on the heavy loss it sustained, he feels it to be due to them to place on record the gallantry they displayed and the coolness and perseverance with which they executed one of the most arduous attacks that was ever witnessed under the heaviest fire, and in face of powerful bodies of Artillery Cavalry and Infantry.

29 Oct l854

The Commander of the Forces has the greatest of satisfaction in thanking Lt. Genl Sir Lacy-de-Evans and the officers and men of the 2nd Division for the gallant and energetic manner in which they repulsed the powerful sortie made upon this position en the 26 Inst. The conduct of all engaged was admirable and the arrangements of the Lieut. General were so able and effective as at once to ensure success and inflict a heavy loss on the enemy.

30 Oct 1854

Up to the present time since landing every man had to cook the best way he could, having to procure his own fuel, his rations consisted of salt pork and salt beef with biscuit, sometimes a little tea, rice and sugar and to the utter disgrace of the British Government, coffee in its green and unroasted state. How or whyfore green coffee was substituted for ground or coffee roasted rests with them who proposed it, but such was the case which continued during the whole time the army were in the Crimea.

Not only were the Medical department in a deplorable state, but the Commissariat as well since that the men were made to act as beasts of burden in order to bring their rations from Balaklava which if they did not would have had to have gone without for days together.


[1] Note: this Powder Mill was originally a windmill situated not far from the Middle Ravine and was encircled at this time by a wall. [back]

Last modified 21 May 2002