THE FALL OF SEBASTOPOL.
Giace l'alta Cartago, appena i segni
---- De l'alte sue ruine il lido serba." - Tasso.
" Sebastopol est prise! " - Napoleon III., Oct. 1. 1854.
LORD RAGLAN'S funeral procession from head quarters to Kasatch, where the body was embarked on board the "Caradoc," to be conveyed to England, took place on Tuesday, the 3rd of July. It was escorted by several squadrons of English Cavalry, and the melancholy procession left head quarters after a salute of nineteen guns. Vast bodies of French troops, with Sardinian Cavalry, lined the road the whole length of the journey, whilst the mournful notes of the "Dead March in Saul" were taken up at intervals.
I describe this from hearsay, as all those who were not actually engaged in the ceremony were confined to camp; in consequence of which order we were unable to witness a eight which I have since been told was " too fine to be described;" and also, that "the Duke of Wellington's funeral was nothing in comparison." From head quarters to Kasatch Bay is between seven and eight miles, and such a distance lined with the armies of three nations must in itself have been a magnificent sight.
July 6th. - Anniversary of my mother's death. For some days past I have been very far from well, and am now reduced to such a state of weakness that I am desired to procure change of air, if possible, and without delay. To this innumerable difficulties oppose themselves. There is the difficulty of Henry's obtaining leave, the difficulty of my getting over to Kamiesh, for I fear it will be many days before I can ride so far. I have written to Captain King, of the "Rodney," to ask his permission to go on board for a week; but, with an ill-luck peculiarly mine, he is on the point of leaving that ship for the "St. Jean D'Acre;" and of course, in the confusion consequent on such a change, I should only be in the way. Meantime I must endure the mighty heat of this breathless valley as best I may, knowing that if I am to live, I shall do so in spite of everything; and if I am to die, so it has been ordered by One who cannot err. I cannot understand that inordinate fear of death, which possesses the souls of many. He who sees not as man seeth, and who can do no evil, will surely do with us what is best.
July 7th. - A draught of men and horses came out yesterday for the 5th Dragoon Guards. We had a great deal of thunder in the air, and one or two heavy showers, followed by bright hot sunshine. Several people, hearing that I was ill, kindly came to inquire for me to-day, as well as yesterday. How many friends has this break-up at head quarters caused us to lose! I shall feel, as I ride about the camp in future, almost as though I were in a land of strangers. Poor deserted head quarters! - the ravens always used to croak up there: they will croak twice as much now.
The chestnut pony, sole survivor of the aide-de-camp's, came down to us yesterday, and, like another sleek and well-conditioned pony that he knows, he bears the name of "Poulett Pasha." - Poor pony! I think he had a presentiment that head quarters, and its comfortable stable and litter, was lost to him for ever - for he tried his utmost to conciliate us, his new masters, by licking our hands, and cramming his nose into all the pockets he could see, in search of bread.
July 10th. - The chances of my being able to get away, at any rate for some time, are getting less and less. Every body seems to be going home. I sent the first part of my journal to England by an officer going home sick; another, who has been out here about a fortnight, returns immediately from the same cause. Colonel Steele merely remains to wind up his affairs, and then he too sets sail for England. General Airey and Colonel Blane are alone left at head quarters of all my old friends. Mr. Calvert and Vico are there still, I believe. In fact, who would not get away if they could from the flaming sword of the pestilence?
Omar Pasha has withdrawn himself and 20,000 men from Baidar, much to the dissatisfaction of the French, who reckoned an his remaining there until they had cut the magnificent grass of the valley and made it - oh, English memories! - into fragrant hay.
Canrobert and 10,000 men have left the plain, and are gone up to the front before Sebastopol. From this it is augured that we shall, before long, have another try for the Malakoff. In Canrobert's division are included the Premier Zouaves, one of whom I overheard saying to a comrade, the other day, when they were both sitting fishing on the banks of the Tchernaya - "Ah, mon enfant, mais, quand il n'y aura plus de Zouaves, l'armée Française sera finie! "
Thanks to the kindness of Mr. Vansittart, who lent me a very quiet pony, I was able this afternoon to leave the shadow of my tent, with which I was getting sorely discontented, and to reach once more the cliffs overlooking the sea. I know of hardly any more lovely spot than the one we chose as our resting-place this afternoon. Before us lay the sea, blue, serene, and quiet -
To our right and left rose the magnificent outlines of a coast naturally stern and terrible, but now bathed in a flood of rose-coloured light, with which the setting sun soothed the landscape, all flushed and scorched before from the power of his great heat; while round us, and underneath our feet, grass, leaves, and flowers looked up with pale, exhausted faces, thirsting for the evening dew.
July 11th. - Spent the morning in bewailing the hard fate which bereft us of our cook - a Maltese, who for some time had officiated in that capacity, having gone out one morning, and left us, as a legacy, the delightful intimation, that "he was gone away, and warn't coming back any more! "
We soon fell in with a real Samaritan in Captain King, then commanding the "Rodney," who lent us his own invaluable servant; but Captain King's subsequent removal to the "St. Jean D'Acre " obliged him to take his cook with him, and we are once more left servant-less, helpless, and dinnerless.
Feeling that we were doing no good by sitting at home, we ordered the horses, and rode to hear the Sardinian band. I had heard no sound of music for nearly two months, and when I pulled up in the crowd round the band I was in a state of mind that jarred with everything save annoyance, impatience, and disgust. ("Bob" had refused to jump a gutter, and eventually dropped his hind legs into it, though all the Sardinians were looking at him, - "Bob," who is the best water jumper out of Ireland.) In fact, I was as much out of temper as out of health; but presently a voice, to which no one not utterly devoid of soul could listen unmoved, speaks to me in low and trembling tones. Ah, where is the petty gall that "wrung my withers" not a moment ago? It is down below me, in the mire and mud of my daily life; while I am carried away far beyond this material world of trial and annoyance, and am walking side by side with angels - dreaming that I have caught the commencement of a harmony such as "ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive."
Returned at half-past eight, or rather, I should say, fell crashing down from the top of Mount Olympus, where I had been conversing with the gods, into a soup tureen, and dish of fried fish more disgusting than anything ever produced in the annals of cookery.
July 12th. - I think I have a cook! We rode up first of all to General Bosquet, and afterwards to General Feray. We found him at dinner with le Colonel Polles, who commands a regiment of Zouaves, and who took pity on my distress.
The French made a reconnaissance beyond Baidar yesterday - met a few Cossacks, and saw a body of regular troops in the distance. A large Russian force is supposed to be hovering about somewhere in the neighbourhood.
Lord Ward's sale took place to-day, as he is returning to England immediately. I was shocked to hear of the death, by cholera, of Mr. Calvert, who at head quarters filled the office of Chief of the Secret Intelligence Department. He had been consul at Kertch for some years, and was a man of great information, as well as a universal favourite with all who knew him. A few hours later we heard that Vico was also dead. How the plague festers at head quarters! The perpetual presence of death is enough to make the strongest of us quail.
July 14th. - News reached the camp that a new Commander-in-chief is to be appointed in place of General Simpson. Vico's sale at the English head quarters.
Tuesday, July 19th. - A heavy cannonade was opened to-night by the Russians on the French left attack. General Luders is supposed to be in Sebastopol now; and we imagine that he ordered a sortie, as nearly at the same moment the Russians made an attempt on our quarries. But they could not bring their men on; and as we opened our heavy guns on them, they soon retreated, with loss. For some time after this they kept up a cannonade, apparently for the purpose of making a noise, as they fired very wild, and did not aim at any special point. They succeeded in disturbing everybody. We fancied that it was the opening of another fire. They kept it up from seven, P.M. on Tuesday, to about the same hour on Wednesday morning, and since then there has been hardly a gun fired by anybody.
July 20th. - Sat once more by the seashore in the quiet evening, saying over to myself the last words of Spenser's "Fairy Queen," at which the poet himself paused, and was silent evermore: -
"Then gin I thinke on that which Nature said,
---- Of that same time when no more change shall be,
But stedfast rest of all things, firmly stay'd
---- Upon the Pillars of Eternity,
That is contraire to mutability:
---- For all that moveth doth in change delight;
But thenceforth all shall rest eternally
---- With him that is 'The God of Sabaoth' hight -
Oh, Thou great Sabaoth God, grant me that Sabbath's sight ! "
July 22nd. - I have had to-day the pain of bidding adieu to nearly the last of my kind old friends in the Crimea. Captain Lushington, now Rear Admiral Sir Stephen Lushington, K.C.B., who was promoted a few days ago, returns to-morrow, laden with honours, to England. And well deserved honours they are, and must be, for this reason, that not one man out in the campaign has made a single observation implying that his distinctions were cheaply earned, or that he had been rewarded above his merit; and as such observations are very rife in the camp on like occasions, I think that their absence now is the surest sign that "his honours do become him well." I am writing late at night, amid a storm of heavy musketry. Occasionally a huge gun flings forth its volume of death, shaking our hut and the table at which I write. All the Guards, and Sir Colin Campbell, are in the trenches to-night; Sir Colin going down as a volunteer, to give a little novelty and spirit to men who - God help them! - after being shot at every third night for ten months, like rabbits in a warren, require a little stimulus, not to give them courage, but to keep them from the heavy sleep induced by the overwhelming heat and the monotonous voices of the guns. The heavy guns are silent now, but the musketry is pouring on, making ghastly "music in the ear of night." I heard to-day of two atrocities committed in the army, and I think it strange we should have so few to record. One was a tragedy which took place two nights ago. Some Greeks - two men and two women - lived in a hut near the railroad, and also within a couple of hundred yards of a troop of artillery. The people were honest and quiet enough, taking in washing, and earning money by various kinds of work. Two nights since, some Turkish soldiers went down to the hut, murdered the two men, after a vehement struggle, and clove the head of one of the women open to her throat; the other woman they stabbed in three places, and left for dead. They then ransacked the house, and found 100 1. in money - what enormous sums are made by the hangers-on of the camp! - and escaped. All next day the mutilated woman lay, the only living thing amid such ghastly death, and the day after it occurred to her neighbours to inquire why none of them had been seen on the previous day. The survivor is now in hospital, and has intimated that the murderers were Turkish soldiers, and that she could identify them. Only a week ago Henry and I took shelter under the eaves of that very house during a thunderstorm. The second story is shorter, and occurred some little time since. A man attached in some way to the army, Commissariat or otherwise, was walking late from Balaklava to the front, having about him 120 1. Some Greeks, who knew that he had money with him, had tracked and followed him until he reached a sequestered spot in the road, when they fell upon him. He called out lustily, "Au secours! au secours!" Whereupon a French soldier of Artillery ran to his aid; but the Frenchman's eye detected the glitter of the coin, and, with a presence of mind truly admirable, he rapped the howling wretch over the head with the butt end of his carbine, seized the money-bag, and sped away before the astonished Greeks could at all recover their wits, either to cry out or to give chase. So the Frenchman got the money, and escaped, while the Greeks were discovered standing, open mouthed, beside the corpse, and were carried off forthwith. Four squadrons of Light Cavalry - one of the 8th Hussars, one of the 11th Hussars, one of the 4th Light Dragoons, and one of the 19th Lancers - went out this morning to Baidar, ostensibly to collect forage, but really to keep the peace between the Frenchmen and the Turks.
July 24th. - On the 12th of this month I was credulous enough to believe the asseverations of a French General, and a Colonel of Zouaves, who, with many protestations, promised me a cook. I might as well, at any rate, have saved myself the trouble of believing them, for no cook, or servant of any description, has made his appearance, and the consequent discomfort of our lives must be felt to be appreciated.
The cause of the heavy firing on the night of the 22nd was a smart attack made by the Russians on the French, and on our left attack. We hear the Russians were not repulsed until they had suffered severe loss.
A messenger came over to me this evening from the squadrons at Baidar, telling me that they would start for a reconnaissance to-morrow morning, about fifteen miles further up the country. They kindly offered us the accommodation of a tent if we wished to ride up over-night and join them; but the letter found us smitten down beneath the fierce strokes of the mighty sun, far too weak and oppressed to think of undertaking so long and fatiguing a ride.
The report is that 300,000 Russians have just arrived in the Crimea; and as they are perfectly aware that they cannot be provisioned, they intend to seize on our stores, and drive us into the sea! This report is balanced by a fact that I happen to know - namely, that the Quartermaster-General has telegraphed for enormous supplies of wood, boards, and huts, to quarter us and our horses for the winter months.
July 30th. - A stronger will than my own, - one which the most resolute and powerful among us are obliged to obey, has kept me silent these few days. I have been ill: and to be ill in the Crimea is no light matter, as many beside me can testify. Poor Lord Killeen, too, is gone away to Therapia. In my distress I wrote to Captain Moorsom, of the Naval Brigade, to implore him to make arrangements so that I also might go on board ship. My position here is unfortunate. If my husband were ill - which God forbid! - he could obtain leave to go at once; whereas I am wholly dependent on the kindness of such as have not had all human feelings knocked out of their hearts. My appeal to the Naval Brigade was answered in a way that I must ever remember with gratitude. Captain Moorsom and Captain Keppel, who now commands the Naval Brigade, rode down to our camp, although the latter was quite unknown to us, and with the former we had but a very slight acquaintance; and in a few minutes they had arranged everything for my going either on board the "Rodney" or the "St. Jean D'Acre," as soon as I am able to be moved. It seems as though I could never speak gratefully enough of the kind hospitality of these two sailors. Now, the only difficulty is, whether the soldiers will have humanity enough to permit Henry to accompany me. If they do not, I must go quite alone.
The dearth of any active proceedings at the front gives me time to remark on a little circumstance which rather edified me the other day, as I was riding home from an afternoon spent among the cliffs on the sea-shore.
At a little distance from us were riding three officers belonging to the English Cavalry, when we suddenly heard shouts and cries, and saw a Tartar running with all speed towards the three, holding up his hands, and apparently appealing for protection. The three rode on, until at last the Tartar, by dint of running, overtook them and tried to speak. With frantic gestures he endeavoured to induce them to listen, and with what success? Two endeavoured to ride over him, and I believe I am right in saying that one of the two struck him with his hunting-whip; at any rate, the arm was raised. As we rode homewards, I reflected on the vast superiority that exists in the civilised over the uncivilised part of the world: the latter, true to the old world instincts implanted by nature, appeals from the weak to the strong for protection - from ignorance to education and Christianity; civilisation (perhaps because he has not been introduced) rides over the man who is defenceless and wronged, or rids himself of him with the thong of his hunting-whip. Let us sing "Te Deum" for civilisation, Christianity, and the Golden Rule.
July 31st. - Heavy mortar practice all last night, with what result I have not heard.
My husband has succeeded in obtaining leave to accompany me to Kasatch, on condition that he returns twice a-week to camp. This permission is kindly given him by Colonel Shewell, Acting Brigadier in the absence on leave of Lord George Paget, and confirmed by General Scarlett
Monday, August 6th - We have now been since Thursday on board the "Rodney," in Kasatch Bay. The first evening that we arrived, Captain Charles Hillyar came on board, but only to say "good-bye," as he left the next morning in the "Gladiator " for Corfu, where he was sent to fetch up troops and guns. It is reported here that General Simpson intends opening fire this autumn, and with 400 fresh mortars!
"Ah! what a sound will rise, how wild and dreary,
----When the death-angel touches these swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal miserere
----Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
"I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus,
---- The cries of agony, the endless groan,
Which thro' the ages that have gone before us,
---- In lost reverberations, reach our own.
"The tumult of each sack'd and burning village;
---- The shout that every prayer for mercy drowns;
The soldier's revel in the midst of pillage;
---- The wail of famine in beleaguer'd towns.
"The bursting shell, the gateway wrench'd asunder;
---- The rattling musketry, the clashing blade,
And ever and anon, in tones of thunder,
---- The diapason of the cannonade."
One would fancy Longfellow had been himself an actor in the weary tragedy that is dragging on around us, so faithful are his descriptive lines.
During the cool evenings we sit in the stern walk of the ship, and watch the shells bursting over the "beleaguered" town. Last night there was a very extensive fire in Sebastopol, which shot its fitful gleams far up into the dry. The French must have made it doubly hazardous to extinguish, as they poured in rockets and shells as fast as possible, producing to us lookers on a beautiful effect - a large sheet of light in the back-ground radiating on all sides with exploding fire-works. The "Terrible" steamed away yesterday afternoon to Gibraltar for heavy guns and ammunition. We envied her the trip, for she will catch the cool sea breezes; while we, lying in harbour, surrounded by shipping, can with difficulty induce a single wandering zephyr to waft himself past our vessel. Captain Drummond, who is appointed to the "Albion," but is at present commanding the "Tribune" here, called on us during the afternoon of yesterday, and rowed us out as far as the "St. Jean D'Acre " and the "Algiers." Captain King, of the "Acre," called on me the day before yesterday, and has promised to send me a piano-forte, which was taken from Kertch, and which is now on board the "Princess Royal." I think there must be something in the profession of a sailor that makes him less selfish and more considerate for others than men of any other class.
The Duke of Newcastle is on board the "Royal Albert" with the admiral, who has changed his position, and moved out, together with the "Hannibal," the "Queen," and one or two other ships, off Sebastopol. The Duke is reported to be suffering from the effects of the climate; and I have not heard anybody say they were sorry to hear it. If Cinderella's good fairy would but reappear .and turn him into a private soldier in the trenches, in the depth of winter, I still do not think that many would be very sorry for him. Poor man! perhaps he was misled by false information after all.
A large American transport came in yesterday filled with French Infantry. The French have constructed a series of earth works and redoubts, so as to fortify the harbours of Kamiesh and Kasatch, and also to take up a position (and a very strong one) on the rising ground inland, in case they should ever be driven back from their trenches.
A French steamer, with heavy guns, went to-day round Strelitzka Point, and occupied herself for some five hours in firing mortars at the enemy, with what success we in the harbour were unable to determine; but at seven o'clock she returned to Kamiesh, bringing with her a smaller steamer in tow.
About four days since Captain Baillie, Lord Rokeby's aide-de-camp, came on board the "Rodney," suffering extremely from an attack of one of our prevalent diseases. Mr. Layard, brother to the member of Parliament (who, with a noble cause, and with half England at his back, contrived to ruin it), has died within the last two days, also on board a man-of-war.
I was interested to-day in listening to anecdotes of the trenches. Amongst them was the following: - The Guards have been engaged in trench work since the 17th of June, and have of course taken their fair share of the work. A few days ago Lord Rokeby was going the round of the hospitals of his division, to see that the men wanted for nothing, when he recognised among the recent admissions a young man who had distinguished himself for steadiness in the camp and gallantry in the trenches. On being asked what was the matter, the poor fellow said, "I've lost a leg, my Lord. I and my two brothers came out with the old regiment: the first one died at the battle of the Alma; the second one had both his feet frozen off when we were up in the front, soon after Inkermann, and died in hospital; and now I've lost my leg. 'Tis not much to boast of, - six legs came out, and only one goes home again." Profoundly touched, Lord Rokeby asked him whether they three were the only sons. "Oh no, my Lord, we are seven brothers in all; but we three preferred soldiering, and enlisted at the same time."
The "Arrow" gun-boat went away last night to Perekop, and the "Harpy" is under orders for the Sea of Azof to-night.
Our hopes of a servant are small indeed. we have written to Constantinople, Malta, and England; and to-day I hear that General V____., the greatest gourmet of the French army, is at his wits' end to find a cook.
August l2th. - Went on shore yesterday afternoon, and inspected the dockyard, which is rapidly approaching its completion. It consists of several huts, two of them very lofty and very large; one occupied as a foundry, the other containing machinery of every description, worked by a steam engine in a building adjoining; machinery for turning wood, cutting and finishing iron, and performing all the work required for the ships. The energy and resources displayed, the use that was found for every bit of old wood or iron, the ingenuity which turned every material to account, made the inspection doubly interesting. Here were three forges, built of stone work brought from Kertch, of fire bricks taken from various of our own steam ships, a pair of bellows from somewhere on the coast of the Sea of Azof, and the anvils from the ships in harbour, or else supplied from England. A part of the machinery was of French manufacture, and taken from Kertch.
Saw-pits are being dug, pipes are laid down, bringing a constant supply of water from the sea, and the little row of store huts are each provided with a couple of buckets hung outside, and a large cask, half sunk in the earth, and filled with water, close to the door; so that there need not be the delay of a moment in case of fire breaking out. From the dockyard we went on to examine the stables and horses. The stables are models of ingenuity and good workmanship. In some cases the walls are built of stone, with a wooden roof, the building divided into stalls, and the floor pitched with small stones, as neatly as we are accustomed to see our own stables in England. Where damaged hay or straw cannot be procured for litter, the stones are thickly covered with sand, 80 that the horse cannot injure the foot when stamping, as he does all day at countless hordes of flies. The Admiral's stud consists of six Arab and Turkish horses. One flea-bitten grey was a gift from Omar Pasha; but his favourite horse, and the one Sir Edmund usually rides, is a dark chestnut, very small, but well bred, active, and clean limbed. I recognised in one of the stalls a dun-coloured pony, which formed one of Lord Raglan's stud some months ago. We were shown, too, a wonderful proof of the efficacy of a little kindness and care in the case of a mule, which came to Balaklava in the baggage train of the Sardinian army, and having been terribly knocked about, and very severely hurt on board ship, during a rough passage, was left by them for dead on the sea shore. The boatswain of H. M. S. "Rodney" happened to pass where the wretched animal lay bleeding but still alive, and with the blessed instinct of humanity, he stopped to help the sufferer. He raised the dying head, and gave the parched throat some water, and by-and-bye he brought some food. In a day or two the mule was able to crawl, and, to make a long story short, when I saw him yesterday he was fat, and strong, and sleek; still covered with sores, which are in a fair way to heal, and following his friend, Mr. Collins, the boatswain, precisely like a dog. In and out into the huts, among the workmen, wherever his business on shore calls him, may be seen the boatswain and the attendant mule; and when he recovers from his scars, he will be one of the finest and handsomest mules that we have out here. Such instances as these of kind-heartedness and humanity on the one hand, and gratitude on the other, are doubly pleasing in the midst of a life where we must, necessarily I suppose, see so much that is distressing and painful of suffering and indifference.
Monday, August 13th. - We dined last night on board the "St. Jean D'Acre;" and amongst the guests was Lord Rokeby, who is staying on board the "Tribune," to be near his aide-de-camp, who is still in a critical state on board the "Rodney." Just before the party were thinking of dispersing, Captain Wellesley, also one of Lord Rokeby's aides-de-camp, came on board, and reported that the Russians were advancing on all sides, and that the whole of the allied army was turned out. The night, however, passed off quietly, and the enemy did not appear, and at daylight the forces were turned in once more. The reason assigned for the postponement of the attack by the Russians is, that a man of the 21st Fusileers deserted early in the evening, and is supposed to have given such information to the Russians as would make them aware of our being in readiness for them at all points. I went this morning for a short cruise in the "Danube," which, as tender to the flag ship, runs from Kasatch Bay to the "Royal Albert" some four or five times daily; and during the run homewards was extremely interested in conversing with an English officer, Captain Montague, of the Engineers, who has just returned from Russia, where he has, been a prisoner since March. He appeared to speak very fairly of the Russians, mentioned gratefully the kindness he had received from Osten Sacken, and the hospitality which he had met with generally. Soon after he was taken, he travelled for more than a month in the wretched post "Talega," going only eleven or twelve versts a day. He was detained for three days at Fort St. Nicholas in Sebastopol, and one or two more in a house in the north side of the town. I was the more glad to have seen Captain Montague, as he had spent some time with Mr. Clowes and Mr. Chadwick, both taken prisoners in the disastrous Light Cavalry charge, the former belonging to our own regiment, the latter to our brigade. He was able to give us favourable news of them.
Thursday, August 16th. - A grand fête-day with the French army and navy. All the ships of the united fleets were decorated, and at noon a tremendous salute was fired. About three o'clock, three of our smallest mortar-boats left their anchorage, and took up a position before the harbour of Sebastopol, for the purpose of shelling the camp and barracks on the north side, and the town behind Fort Alexander on the south side. We went out in the "Danube," and had an admirable view of the practice. The shells from the little mortar-vessels pitched with great precision, and must have caused no little consternation in the camp and barracks, as we saw many people running about in haste, and making for Fort Constantine. Presently a flag of truce was hoisted from the top of this fort. Our fire, however, continued, although it was principally directed on Fort Alexander. We remarked that, with a single exception, all the answering shots of the Russians fell short.
There was nothing but feasting and gaiety on board the French ships. Sir Edmund Lyons and Sir Houston Stewart both dined on board the "Montebello" with Admiral Bruat, and before sunset the French flag ship fired a second salute.
The medical inspector of the fleet pronounced sentence on me yesterday - namely, that I retrograde instead of improve as far as my health goes, and I am to go, if possible, for ten days to Therapia for further change of air.
Of sixty shots fired by the mortar-boats yesterday afternoon, twenty pitched into the Quarantine Fort, but those fired at Fort Alexander were at too long a range, and all fell short.
News has this moment come in as I write, of an engagement on the banks of the Tchernaya. The Russians came down. in force (I give merely the first reports as they have this instant reached me), and the French and Sardinians gave them a tremendous repulse, took their floating bridges, and drove them: back, with a loss on the side of the Allies of 500 men. Up to this time I cannot hear that the English Cavalry were engaged.
Five o'clock. - Henry has just ridden over from Balaklava, and tells me that the Cavalry turned out at daybreak. The Russian army amounted to about 50,000; and they attacked the exceedingly strong position of the French Zouaves and Sardinians in a most gallant manner. The French, by whom the attack was quite unexpected, were very weak, as to numbers, on this point; the position itself being so strong. The Sardinians, also, had to collect themselves after their outposts were driven in. The Russians crossed the river with determination and gallantry, and ascended the hill side of the French position. By this time French reinforcements had come down, and the Zouaves, leaving their camp, charged down-hill upon the enemy with their bayonets, repulsing them with fearful slaughter. They were also beaten back by the Sardinians on their left attack, materially assisted by our new heavy field battery (Captain Moubray's 32-pound howitzers), which ranged far beyond all others, and blew up nearly all the Russian ammunition waggons, dismounted their guns, and killed their artillery horses. The loss of the French and Sardinians was not heavy. It was a brilliant day for our Allies. The English Cavalry was not under fire, except the 12th Lancers, who crossed the river, but were recalled immediately by Lieut. General Morris, who observed that "ces diables d'Anglais were never satisfied unless they were trying to get annihilated." The Russians were all gaunt and hungry men, who had evidently been driven to death by forced marches. The enemy fired on the French while they were charitably engaged in removing the wounded Russians.
Sunday, August l9th. - Went to church on board "The Royal Albert," by invitation from Sir Edmund Lyons. We remained to dine; and as it came on to blow so hard that it would have been difficult for us to reach the "Rodney," we stayed in our most hospitable quarters all night.
During the afternoon. Admiral Bruat came on board; and I had an opportunity of seeing, for the first time, the French Naval Commander-in-chief. He struck me as being shrewd, and I was going to write false, but perhaps my meaning may hardly be understood; his manner was certainly polished enough. The two admirals sat in conversation, side by side, and the contrast struck me with such force, that I was obliged to lie awake at night to try and analyse it.
Monday, August 20th. - The sea going down slightly, enabled us to leave for the "Rodney" in the "Danube" at ten o'clock, after we had listened to the band playing on board the "Royal Albert," and gathered a more distinct acquaintance with the Russian works of defence than before. They are now busily employed in constructing a bridge across the harbour, so as to form a retreat from the Malakoff and Redan when we take triumphant possession of those two forts.
The sunlight shone full on the face of the town, showing us long lines of windowless houses riddled with shot; and yet, standing in the centre of the town, one or two houses still intact; one a fine house, with a light green roof (I fancied it was only their sacred buildings that are green-roofed), and another house, solid, handsome, and large.
Sir Richard Airey, who received an official notification of his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant-General, is also on board the Flagship, endeavouring to shake off an attack of fever which, like every disease in this country, however slight, leaves you weakened in a wonderful degree. There were two explosions in the Russian batteries this morning, but I fancy neither were of much importance.
Wednesday, August 22nd. - The " Gladiator" came up from Balaklava yesterday, where she had discharged the products of her trip to Corfu; she brought, in addition to eight mortars, 2200 shells and a couple of hundred artillerymen. I dined on board with Captain Hillyar, and there was a report that the French intended opening fire from their new work on the extreme left this afternoon, and that our little mortar boats were to go in, and throw mortars at the same time; but this did not take place. The mortar battery did not open, and although our pretty little boats got under weigh, they dropped anchor again almost as soon as they got outside. There was a telegraph made from the Flag-ship to Head Quarters about twelve o'clock, to the effect that "large bodies of troops were assembled outside the loopholed wall;" but they did nothing unusual this afternoon, although just before sunset a very heavy fire was opened all down the line of the right attack on the town. It was a lovely afternoon, and I walked along the shore towards the Lighthouse of Khersonnese. Here, driven almost on to the beach, I found the remains of a French or Austrian brig, which had been cast ashore. She was mostly broken up, and so close in that I could easily climb about among her rotting timbers. She had been laden with bullocks; their bones lay white and glistening all around; polished skulls, white as plaster of Paris casts, many with a bleached rope still wound about the horns, and several with the rusty shoe and large-headed nails adhering to the shrivelled hoof. I brought away a bone or two, more than usually polished, and a few parts of the fittings of the ship; and then, feeling that the sea was shaking the drift wood on which I stood, I carefully collected my relics, and scrambled to the shore.
Friday, 24th. - Went to stay on board the "St. Jean D'Acre," anchored off Sebastopol, and remained on board some days. During my stay I had frequent opportunities of inspecting, through powerful glasses, the works, guns, and actual movements of the inhabitants. The bridge across the harbour, in front of the men-of-war moored at the entrance, which they commenced a week or two ago, is now complete. The traffic over it is perpetual both of men and horses. For two days, the stream set principally from the south to the north, we fancied that the Russians were removing their goods, previous to evacuating the south side; and this appeared more probable, as they were busily employed in erecting fresh earthworks on the north side; but lately opinion has changed on the subject. It is universally believed that the Russians in the town are suffering cruelly from short rations and over-work. All deserters agree in the same sad story of sickness, privation, and distress. Meantime the town looks outwardly fair enough. On Monday we heard that the Highland Division has been sent down to the Tchernaya, to strengthen the position of the Sardinians, as another attack is expected. The English Cavalry turns out every morning at four o'clock, and takes up a position in the plain, ready, in case of another attack from the hungry Russians. The reason of this daily turn out is obvious enough. There are only two outlets from Balaklava to the open plain, and a large force would necessarily be detained some time in filing through.
I could not but be struck on Tuesday evening, as I was watching the moon rise from the deck of the "St. Jean D'Acre," by the wonderful and glorious difference between God's work and man's. It was a picture composed by two artists. It might have been fitly called "Peace and War." Shining over the central forts of the town was the full moon, looking with calm and steadfast face out of the serene sky, in whose "deep heaven of blue" star after star trembled into life and light; whilst down upon the placid waters gleamed the pale broad pathway reflected from her beams. The distant hills wrapped in light haze were visible to the eye; but, immediately before us, no object save the grim corner of a fort could be discerned from the heavy, heavy weight of smoke that clung to and covered the city like a shroud. Here and there across it shot the lurid glare of the guns, darting across the palpable atmosphere like a flying ball of fire. Who cannot see in this a representation of what has often filled his own mind? The wrathfu1 stir of passion raging within, until calmed and softened by the blessed influence of the Holy Spirit of God.
Last night and this morning two explosions occurred. The one at half-past one A.M. I am sorry to say was in the Mamelon, where a shell blew up the magazine. This did, of course, immense damage; not so much to the battery, as to the soldiers. There were, I hear, above 200 killed and wounded. The explosion about nine A.M. was in the Russian works, but was not nearly so extensive.
Lord Stratford de Redcliffe has been up here to invest the G.C.B.s and K.C.B.s. On his arrival and departure, he was saluted by the English and French ships. Being on board ship and away from the horses, I had no opportunity of going to witness the ceremony, which, I believe, was as imposing as uniforms, decorations, forms, and ceremonies, could make it.
I cannot refrain from mentioning a brilliant little work entitled "The Roving Englishman in Turkey," and from thanking the author for the pleasure he has afforded me in its perusal. It was put into my hands a short time ago, and since then it has sparkled on my table like a gem.
September 5th. - For the last three mornings in succession we have been kept on the qui vive, turning out the whole Cavalry at two A.M. and marching them down beneath the hill which hides the Traktir bridge, as, from information received from spies and deserters, the Russians have been meditating a second effort for the repossession of the Balaklava plains.
They have been augmented by a large reinforcement of Imperial Guards and other soldiers, it is said, to the amount of 90,000 men. The attack, for which we have now been waiting patiently for three days, was to have been made by the whole of this force; 50,000 were to endeavour to take the Traktir bridge by storm, while the other 40,000 were to attack the French and Sardinians on the right and left.
Rumours relative to the non-appearance of this army are rife. Some say that in marching down they met the wounded from the Tchernaya going to Bachsi-serai, and were so horrified at their number and their ghastly wounds, that they refused to advance, and more than 100 of these wretched soldiers were shot forthwith. Now, it appears that the whole force are either sent into Sebastopol, or dispersed on the plain of the Belbec, where they can get water. Meanwhile, we have opened a very heavy cannonade upon the town. The traffic over the bridge is incessant, and the Russians appear to be carrying all their valuables, goods, furniture, and pianofortes over to the north side, as we suppose previous to evacuating the south side entirely.
Last night we dined with General Féray, and when we arrived we found him just returning from the front, where he had been inspecting the works of the Mamelon Vert and the Ouvrages Blancs. During dinner, he told me that a Tartar deserter had come into General Bosquet's division during the day, and had told them of the agonies of thirst suffered by the army which fought at the Tchernaya on their march. Some little distance before they reached the Belbec, they passed some wells. Order of march was at an end; the foremost threw themselves down headlong; the rest, struggling to get at the water, and impatient of those before them, drew their bayonets, and presently the wells were filled with upwards of 150 dead and dying bodies!
I remember our own sufferings while marching, for short distances, in the hot weather in Turkey, and especially the frantic horses at Jeni-bazar, so that I can, in some slight degree, .understand the torments of the Russians. As we rode home from General Féray's* , our way was absolutely illumined by the light of a fire which seemed to set all heaven in a blaze. We could not see the fire itself for the hills which intervened; but, from the brilliancy of its light, we fancied the whole of the south side must be in a blaze. Not that Sebastopol would ever burn; the houses are too detached, and built so much of stone, that they would never keep alight for any length of time.
The cannonade was densely heavy, and the light of the guns radiated off from the brilliant centre of the vast fire, and seemed like perpetual lightning.
The French are supposed to have opened their new battery, by which they are to reach the ships. I am now on the point of mounting, to ride up and ascertain for myself what the light of the fire meant.
Ten o'clock. - The blaze of last night was caused by the firing of a two-decker, one of the ships in the harbour. Captain Keppel, to whom I went for information, tells me he fancies it was set on fire by a French rocket. However that may be, she burned away famously; the outline of mast, spar, and rigging showing with terrible distinctness in the lurid light.
We reached Cathcart's Hill this afternoon in time to see a perfect explosion of guns from the French line of attack. Every gun and mortar appeared to fire at once; those that did not go off at the precise moment following with the rapidity of file firing. It was, indeed, "a noble salvo shot," and was loudly cheered by the English soldiers who were looking on. Presently we met the brigade of Guards marching down into the trenches. The whole brigade goes down now every third night.
We were fortunate enough to see General Markham just starting for a ride, as we passed his quarters. His reputation as the most rising man in the army, and likely to succeed to General Simpson's command, made me very anxious to see him. General Markham was formerly colonel of the 32nd, to which regiment Henry belonged. He is slight and wiry, with long grey beard, and eyes which, though ambushed behind a frightful pair of spectacles, I could tell were piercing and keen beyond most others in this vast camp. Having an engagement at the moment, he was prevented saying more than a few courteous words, and left us, with a promise to call upon us at his earliest leisure. The fire from the French lines still continues fast and heavy.
September 8th. - We rode up to the front again yesterday afternoon, although the north-east wind was blowing a hurricane; and for half the distance I trotted with my hat in my lap, and my left hand gathering up my habit to prevent its acting like a mainsail, and blowing me completely off my balance. We passed General Bosquet's division, and struck out the shortest track to Cathcart's Hil1. A party of Fusileer Guards were marching slowly towards us, and elose behind them followed a chestnut horse I knew but too well. Poor Captain Buckley, who yesterday was so full of strength and life, is being borne to the resting-place of many brave hearts, and will sleep on Cathcart's Hill. I begin to grow superstitious. I fancy that every man to whom I speak just before any great danger, is sure to fall a victim to it. Last night, on his way to the trenches, I met Captain Buckley, and he stayed a few moments to talk to me. Within two hours after I saw the last of him, spurring his pony round a corner of the ravine to overtake his men, he was lying on his face, shot through the heart! I cannot watch that sad procession. I cannot picture to myself the frame so full of life and vigour yesterday, now a mouldering heap of dust. I show him what respect I can, although a black habit, and handkerchief, and a strip of crape round my arm, is all. He said he would "live and die a soldier," - and right well he kept his word.
But I must turn away from the melancholy funeral on my right, and look forward at the siege. There is a huge blaze in the centre of the harbour, and Colonel Norcott, of the Rifles, tells me it is a frigate set on fire by French shells. How bravely it burns! bright and clear as a wood fire in the vast home-grates at Christmas time. Presently General Markham rides up, and says, "Mrs. Duberly, we shall have a fight to-morrow. You must be up here on Cathcart's Hill by twelve o'clock." And then we ride briskly home, for the evenings are chilly, and the horses' coats begin to stare. As we lay our horses into their long, striding gallop, we talk of the prospects of to-morrow, and the chances of our friends - how much their number is reduced! Of Major Daubeny; of the boy Deane, who only joined last week, and will make his first entry into the trenches tomorrow; of Mr. Glynn, who exchanged only a day or two ago from the 8th Hussars to the Rifle Brigade; of Colonel Handcock, whose wife is with him at the front; of Lord Adolphus Vane; of General Markham, and many others.
September 9th. - Last night I was overcome with the shock of poor Buckley's death, and felt so unhinged that I did not start for the front until eleven this morning. The cannonade was terrific, exceeding anything that had previously occurred during the siege. After some difficulty in "dodging" the sentries, which General Simpson, with his most unpopular and unnecessary policy, insists on placing everywhere, we reached the Fourth Division just as the Guards were marching down to their places in reserve. The Highlanders were the first reserve, and then the Guards. Here, I am glad to say, we overtook Lord A. Vane, and he promised to come down to us the first moment that he could get away, after the fight was over. I remembered poor Captain Agar's like promise, and my heart grew still as I listened; but we were advancing on the batteries, so we turned our horses' heads across the ravine, and rode up to the front of Cathcart's Hill, where we found the Cavalry at their usual ungracious work of special constables, to prevent amateurs from getting within shot. Now, in the first place, amateurs have no business within range; and in the next place, their heads are their own; and if they like to get them shot off, it is clearly nobody's business but theirs.
The cold of to-day has been intense. Two days ago I was riding in a linen habit; and to-day, with a flannel wrapper, a cloth habit body, and an extra jacket, I was chilled to my very bones. If hospitable Mr. Russell, the Times correspondent, had not kindly sent me down to his hut, and told me where I should find the key of the tap of the sherry cask, I think I must have collapsed with cold.
Meanwhile in the front nothing was to be heard or seen but incessant firing and masses of smoke. The perpetual roll of musketry and the heavy voices of the guns continued without intermission, and the anxious faces of all were strained towards the Malakoff and Redan. By-and-bye wounded soldiers come up from the trenches, but their stories differ, and we can place in them no faith. "I was in the Redan when I was wounded," said the first, "and our fellows are in there now."
"We have been three times driven out of the Redan," said a second; so we found that we could depend on nothing that we heard, and must wait in faith and patience. We left at about half-past six o'clock, thoroughly tired, and chilled to our very hearts. Since then, within the last half hour, I have heard that Colonel Handcock is dead; and that poor Deane, the young boy, just entering into life and hope, lies in the hospital of his regiment, laid out ready for burial. As he was standing on the parapet of the Redan, waving his sword and urging his men to follow him, a bullet struck him in the eye, and taking an upward direction, passed through the brain. His fearless courage, although for the first time under fire, has been several times remarked. I fear this is but too authentic, as our assistant-surgeon, who was working in the hospital of the 30th, assures me that he saw him brought in dead. The firing is just as continuous, - just as rapid, - just as heavy. I am told the Guards are not yet gone down. Oh! who can tell, save those who are on the spot, in whose ears the guns roar incessantly, what it is to see friends one hour in youth, and health, and strength, and the next hour to hear of them, not as ill, or dying, but as dead, - absolutely dead? Ah! these are things that make life terrible.
Colonel Norcott, of the Rifles, is a prisoner, and I hear unwounded. He sprang first into the Redan with his usual courage and recklessness; and the two men who followed immediately behind him were instantly shot, and he was taken prisoner before he had time to turn round to look for fresh supports. He will soon be exchanged we hope. Meantime who wil1 buy and keep that pretty, prancing, chestnut pony he was riding last night when he took his way with his battalion to the trenches?
Wednesday, 12th. - Since writing the foregoing I have been three or four times to the front. On Monday we endeavoured to ride as far as the Redan and Malakoff, but were stopped by the Cavalry, who were posted as sentries just this side of the twenty-one gun battery. On Sunday Henry rode up at eleven, A. M., and after making such inquiries after our friends as might tend to relieve our anxieties on their account, he went on to the Redan. He described it to me as a heap of ruins, with wonderfully constructed defences, and with bomb-proof niches and corners, where the Russian officers on duty in the battery lived, and where were found pictures, books, cards, and glass and china for dinner services.
Le Capitaine Müel called on me on Sunday, and told me the French loss was 17 general officers killed and wounded, and about 12,000 men. This I have since heard reduced, I think correctly, to 1O,000.
On Sunday evening as it grew dusk I ordered the pony "Charley," and rode up to the Turkish heights. From thence I could see distinctly the south side in flames. I counted ten separate fires. It was a magnificent sight, and one which afforded me, in common I fancy with many more, greater satisfaction than pain. I could not think at such a moment of the destruction and desolation of war. I could only remember that the long-coveted prize was ours at last, and I felt co more compunction for town or for Russian than the hound whose lips are red with blood does for the fox which he has chased through a hard run. It was a lawful prize, purchased, God knows! dearly enough, and I felt glad that we had got it.
On Monday I rode to see Major Daubeny, 62nd Regiment, Colonel Windham, and General Markham. Whilst calling on Colonel Windham, I heard of poor Colonel Eman's mortal wound. Our loss in officers has been heavy enough, I believe 149. In the 62nd Regiment 180 men went into attack, and 105 were killed or wounded. There can be no doubt that the assault was unexpected, and the Malakoff taken by surprise. The Malakoff was the key to the whole fortress; the Malakoff once taken and held by the French, the Redan became untenable by the Russians. We assaulted it after a curiously ill-managed fashion, and we were driven back. About that there exists no doubt. Nor should we ever have forced the Redan, unless the plan of attack had been entirely reorganised. Two hundred, a hundred and fifty, or three hundred men out of every regiment in the division formed the storming party. Men who had been fighting behind batteries and gabions for nearly a twelvemonth, could not be brought to march steadily under fire from which they could get no cover. As Colonel Windham said, in speaking of the assault, "The men, the moment they saw a gabion, ran to it as they would to their wives, and would not leave its shelter." Why not have taken all this into consideration, and ordered the newly-arrived regiments to lead the assault? - the 13th Light Infantry and the 56th.
By daybreak on Sunday morning, just as we were preparing to "go at" the Redan again, it was discovered to have been evacuated during the night. Malakoff gone - all was gone; and by night on Sunday all that remained in Sebastopol were burning houses, mines, and some wounded men, prisoners. The English until to-day have been denied admission to the town, except with a pass provided by Sir R. Airey. The French, on the contrary, have been plundering and destroying everything they saw. The town was mined, and these mines, going off perpetually, made it very unsafe for amateurs. Nothing, however, deters the French. Five officers were blown up to-day; and a Zouave came out driving a pig, carrying a dead sheep, a cloak, and a samovar, and wearing a helmet, like those which were taken at Alma, and brought on board the "Danube."
It is exceedingly difficult to gain admission into the Redan and the town. Until to-day orders were only procured through the quartermaster-general; but I see it is in general orders now, that any general officer can give a pass; and Colonel Windham, who commanded the storming party, and distinguished himself by his magnificent conduct, and his frantic efforts to rally and lead on the men, while standing himself inside the Redan, and on the parapet, is made governor of that quarter of the south side appropriated to the English. I need scarcely say, the English quarter is the worst, containing all the public buildings round the dock-yard, the custom-house, hospital, &c., but no dwelling-houses that are not reduced to the merest heap of ruins.
Thursday, September 13th. - A memorable day of my life, for on it I rode into the English batteries, into the Redan, the Malakoff, the Little Redan, and all over our quarter of Sebastopol. Such a day merits a detailed description.
Eight consecutive hours spent in sightseeing under a blazing sun is no light and ladylike délassement at any time, but when the absorbing interest, the horrible associations and excitement of the whole, is added to the account, I cannot wonder at my fatigue of last night, or my headache of to-day.
So many descriptions, pictorial and otherwise, have gone home of our own batteries, that I need not stop to describe them in their present half-dismantled state; so, clambering down (how wonderfully the Turkish ponies can climb!) the stony front of our advanced parallel, we canter across the open space, and ride at a gallop over the steep parapet of the salient angle of the Redan. "Look down," said Henry, "into the trench immediately beneath you; there, where it is partly filled up, our men are buried. I stood by Mr. Wright, on Sunday morning, when he read the funeral service over 700 at once."
What wonderful engineering! What ingenuity in the thick rope-work which is woven before the guns, leaving only a little hole through which the man laying the gun can take his aim, and which is thoroughly impervious to rifle shot! The Redan is a succession of little batteries, each containing two or three guns, with traverses behind each division; and hidden away under gabions, sand-bags, and earth, are little huts in which the officers and men used to live. Walking down amongst these (for we were obliged to dismount) we found that tradesmen had lived in some of them. Henry picked up a pair of lady's lasts the precise size of my own foot. Coats, caps, bayonets lay about, with black bread and broken guns. The centre, the open space between the Redan and the second line of defence, was completely ploughed by our thirteen-inch shells, fragments of which, together with round shot, quite paved the ground. We collected a few relics, such as I could stow away in my habit and saddle-pockets, and then rode down into the town.
Actually in Sebastopol! No longer looking at it through a glass, or even going down to it, but riding amongst its ruins and through its streets. We had fancied the town was almost uninjured - so calm, and white, and fair did it look from a distance; but the ruined walls, the riddled roofs, the green cupola of the church, split and splintered to ribands, told a very different tale. Here were wide streets leading past one or two large handsome detached houses built of stone; a little further on, standing in a handsome open space, are the barracks, with large windows, a fine stone facade of great length, several of the lower windows having carronades run out of them, pointing their grim muzzles towards our batteries. Whilst I am gazing at these, a sudden exclamation from Henry, and a violent shy from the pony, nearly start me from my saddle. It is two dead Russians lying, almost in a state of decomposition, at an angle of the building; while in the corner a man is sitting up, with his hands in his lap, and eyes open looking at us. We turn to see if he is only wounded, so life-like are his attitude and face; no, he has been dead for days.
A little further on we came to the harbour, and by the many mast-heads we count the number of ships. Here, too, are fragments of the bridge which I had watched the Russians building, and across which I had seen them so often pass and repass. There is a kind of terrace, with a strong wooden railing, overlooking the sea, and underneath us is a level grass-plat, going down with handsome stone steps to the water's edge. Following the wooden railing, we overlooked what had evidently been a foundery, and a workshop for the dockyard; Russian jackets, tools and wheelbarrows, were lying about, and hunting among the ruins was a solitary dog.
But all this time we are trying to find our way to Brigadier General Windham's office near the custom house. To get there we must ride round to the head of the dry docks, as the bridges are either broken or unsafe. What is it that makes the air so pestilential at the head of the dry docks? Anything so putrid, so nauseating, so terrible, never assailed us before. There is nothing but three or four land transport carts, covered with tarpaulin, and waiting at the corner. For Heaven's sake, ride faster, for the stench is intolerable. We go on towards the custom house, still followed by this atmosphere: there must be decaying cattle and horses behind the houses; and yet they do not smell like this! Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons and Admiral Bruat are riding by, so we stop in a tolerably sweet place to congratulate each other on meeting in Sebastopol. We then continue our road to the custom house. What is it? It cannot surely be - oh, horror! - a heap, a piled-up heap of human bodies in every stage of putrid decomposition, flung out into the street, and being carted away for burial. As soon as we gained possession of the town, a hospital was discovered in the barracks, to which the attention of our men was first attracted by screams and crys. Entering, they found a large number of wounded and dying; but underneath a heap of dead men, who, as he lay on the floor, fell over him and died, was an English officer of the 90th Regiment, who being badly wounded, and taken prisoner, was put into this foul place, and left, as in the case of the hospital near the custom house, to perish at his leisure of hunger and pain. He had had no food for three days, and the fever of his wound, together with the ghastly horrors round him, had driven this poor Englishman to raving madness; and so he was found, yelling and naked. I think the impression made upon me by the sight of that foul heap of green and black, glazed and shrivelled flesh I never shall be able to throw entirely away. To think that each individual portion of that corruption was once perhaps the life and world of some loving woman's heart - that human living hands had touched, and living lips had pressed with clinging and tenderest affection, forms which in a week could become, oh, so loathsome, so putrescent !
At the moment, however, and I think it a wise ordinance, no sight such as war produces strikes deeply on the mind. We turned quickly back from this terrible sight, and soon after left the town. Riding up towards the Little Redan, we saw where the slaughter of the Russians had principally been. The ground was covered with patches and half-dried pools of blood, caps soaked in blood and brains, broken bayonets, and shot and shell; four or five dead horses, shot as they brought up ammunition for the last defence of the Malakoff. Here we met Colonel Norcott, of the Rifles, who had been reported a prisoner, riding the same chestnut pony which has had honourable mention before. Our congratulations on his escape, when we fancied him marching with the retreating Russians, were neither few nor insincere.
The Malakoff lay just before us. I am told that it is, and it struck me as being, one of the most wonderful examples of engineering work possible. It is so constructed, that unless a shot fell precisely on the right spot, it could do no harm. What with gabions, sand-bags, traverses, counter-traverses, and various other means of defence, it seemed to me that a residence in the Malakoff was far safer and more desirable than a residence in the town. Buried underground were officers' huts, men's huts, and a place used as a sort of mess room, with glass lamps, and packs of cards. We are not allowed to carry any outward and visible signs of plunder, but I filled my habit pockets and saddle pockets with various small items, as reliques of these famous batteries and the famous town - lasts, buttons, and grape shot from the Redan; cards, a glass salt-cellar, an English fuzee, and the screw of a gun from the Malakoff; a broken bayonet from the Little Redan; and rifle bullets from the workshop in the town. Then, as it was growing late, we rode back to camp by the Woronzow Road, and down the French heights on to the Balaklava plain. On these heights are still retained a few guns in position, which are, and have been ever since the 25th of October, worked by Turkish Artillery-men. They are famous for their Artillery practice; and when the heights were reinforced after the Balaklava charge, they were placed at these guns, with a French regiment close behind them in case they should run. With these Turks I have made quite a pleasant little speaking acquaintance, as we are constantly scrambling either up or down their heights. "Bono Jeanna," "Bono atla," "Bono, bono," being generally the extent of our conversation, varied sometimes by "Bono Cavallo," according to the province from which "Johnny" comes.
September 17th. - I went again last Saturday, provided with a permit from the French Head Quarters, to see that part of Sebastopol, and the French works which lie to the left - the French parallels running to almost within a stone's throw of the opposing battery, the "Bastion du Mât", the Garden Battery, and the fortifications of the town itself. The French have by far the most extensive quarter, but I begin to doubt whether they have the best. We have such fine ranges of buildings for barracks; while they have streets of ruined dwelling houses, with the addition, however, of the Court of Justice, a very handsome building, and two churches. I was not much interested with what we saw in our expedition; indeed, we could not well be, for we were scarcely permitted to enter any of the houses without producing our pass, and making more fuss and chatter than it was worth. Many French and English soldiers had evidently been drinking "success to the war," for they lay about in all directions hopelessly drunk. One French sous-officier professed himself so astonished and delighted at seeing an English lady in Sebastopol, that he induced us to turn back half a street's length, in order to present me with some ``loot." I fancied, of course, it was something that I could carry in my saddle-pockets; fancy, then, our dismay, when he approached with the solid leg of a large worktable, with a handsome claw, about three feet high, and proportionably heavy. He tried to fasten it to-my saddle, but "Bob" would none of it, and snorted and backed. We all, with many protestations of gratitude, declined the leg, and accepted a piece of Russian black bread instead, - more portable and more valuable.
We heard last night that the Artillery are under orders to be inspected to-morrow morning; and we also hear a rumour that all the Cavalry are to march up towards Simpheropol. It bas been much commented on, that no movement was made by the army immediately on the evacuation of the town; and, on discussing the matter with one of the authorities, I was told that at one time we were under orders for Eupatoria, but next day they were countermanded. The Cavalry have done nothing since the 25th of October. We are now nearly 4000 strong, with an enormous amount of Artillery. Our horses are in good condition, our men very fairly healthy; and if they do not keep us out too long, and the Commissariat can be urged into acquitting itself with anything like decency for once, we may have a very brilliant little campaign of about three weeks in comparative comfort. At the end of three weeks the weather will become such that we must pack up, and be off to winter quarters. These are to be upon the Bosphorus. Oh! how we had hoped they would have been in sunny Egypt instead of on the shores of the draughty, miry Bosphorus, with its "Devil's Currents" both of sea and wind!
The Naval Brigade, now that there is no longer need for the Sailors' Battery, are all ordered on board their respective ships. I think there are very few but are sorry to leave their comparatively free life on shore for the imprisonment and strict discipline of a man-of-war. They would be (if we were to remain the winter) a very serious loss to us, as there were no workmen, carpenters, joiners, builders, half so handy or so willing to assist as those in the Naval Brigade. There certainly was no camp in which more kind consideration for others, more real active help, has been afforded to all than in that of the sailors; and their cheerfulness and willingness to labour encouraged and comforted all through the difficulties and sufferings of last winter.
I rode down to Balaklava a day or two since; and while the memory of the miseries of that terrible time are fresh in my mind, I may as well say how much, in common with everything else, Balaklava has changed. It is no longer a heap of dirty lazar houses, infested with vermin, and reeking with every kind of filth. Its principal street is no longer crowded with ragged, starving soldiers, hauling along dying horses by the head, and making the houses echo back their curses and blows until one's very heart grew cold. Balaklava was then filthy, naked, and starved. Balaklava is now washed, and dressed, and fed. Balaklava was ugly and loathsome to see; Balaklava now is fresh, healthy, and even pretty. Neat rows of store huts have replaced the wretched houses of the Russians. The navvies have their stable at the entrance, and in the midst of the town is an open space; walls are pulled down, the road is raised, and a strong railing runs along its outer side; rows of trees are planted, and down the centre street the railway runs, giving dignity and importance to the place. Admiral Boxer did wonders towards facilitating the arrangements for embarkation and disembarkation, by the construction of his admirable quays, as well as by reclaiming the shallow water and marshy ground at the head of the harbour, which was generally covered last winter with the half-imbedded carcases of bullocks, and was always emitting a malaria most foul and deleterious. I think the thanks of the army, or a handsome national testimonial, ought to be presented to Mr. Russell, the eloquent and truthful correspondent of the Times, as being the mainspring of all this happy change. That it was effected through the agency of the Press there can be no doubt; and the principal informant of the Press was "Our own Correspondent," whose letters produced the leaders in the Times, the perusal of which, in many a sodden and snow-covered tent, cheered the hearts that were well nigh failing, and gave animation, hope, and courage to all. More than once, when I have been fireless and shivering, the arrival of the then often delayed mail would bring me a copy of the Times; and its hot indignation, its hearty sympathy, and the mutterings of its wrathful anger have warmed me, and revived me, and made me feel for the moment almost like my former self.*
We are still in a state of uncertainty whether we move or not.
September 18th. - Nearly opposite the loopholed walls of Sebastopol, and about half a mile distant from it, lies a ravine with a church and graveyard, behind the French advanced works, and within easy range of the Russian shot. The tall spire of the church is covered, in common with all their sacred buildings that I have seen, with lead painted green; and it is only when you are close to the church that you discern the ravages of shot and shell. We turned our horses' heads down the precipitous side of the hill, and tied them to the churchyard gate. Trees of various growths filled the enclosure, and flowering shrubs, laburnums, and acacias, with clumps of lilac. Struck by the shots of their own people, the monuments and gravestones lay scattered and broken all around, while the sun, glancing through the thick green leaves, played upon broken pillar and shattered cross.
How I lingered under the shadow of the trees! How the repose of the place and scene diffused itself over my heart, which never felt so travel-stained with the dusty road of life as now! My life seemed to stand still, and be wrapped for the moment in a repose as deep as that of the slumberers around me, whom shot or shell could not waken, nor bugle-call arouse. At last I heard myself repeating those exquisite lines by some author whose name I cannot remember -
"Give me the soft green turf, the fresh wild flowers,
---- A quiet grave in some lone churchyard's shade,
With the free winds to breathe a requiem, where,
---- Imploring rest, the restless heart is laid."
"Why Mrs. Duberly, you are a living representation of Hervey's 'Meditations amongst the Tombs!' For heaven's sake come away from the churchyard, or you will not be amusing any more all day." So I mounted, and we speedily got into the hard clattering road again, Returning home from this long ride, we were sensible of a sudden and keen change in the atmosphere of this always variable climate. The wind veered to the north, a cold deep purple haze covered the distant bills, clouds from the sea came up full of promise, not of a good hard soaking rain, but of that penetrating cold mist than which nothing is so chilling and depressing. We lost no time in hurrying through the gathering darkness, back to the camp; and, having arrived there, lighted our stove for the first time this autumn. How comfortable and pleasant the hut looked in the warm fire-light! Thanks to the kindness of many contributors, I have been supplied with sufficient copies of the Illustrated London News to paper the walls entirely. This has afforded employment to my ingenuity. But the walls when covered looked too black and white for my fastidious ideas; they wanted warmth, colour, and effect. I delight in colours. They give me almost as much pleasure as music. I like gorgeous music and gorgeous colour. I would have all my surroundings formed for the gratification of this taste if I could. I have therefore tried to colour those pictures which appeared most to require it, and the effect on the walls of our hut is now, I flatter myself, good; at any rate they look home-like and soigné, which is a great point. We both confess to an incipient affection for this little wooden room, where we have lived so many months; and we shall be quite sorry to leave it, never to see it any more, when we go down to the Bosphorus for our winter quarters in November.
The facility of attaching oneself is a great misfortune. If it adds a little to the enjoyment of life at times, it increases the pain of it, I think, in a double proportion. My anxieties, for instance, when my dear friend and companion the chestnut horse embarks for the Bosphorus, will be positively painful to myself, and very probably a nuisance to my husband.
September 23rd. - After some days of cold and wet, mud and discomfort, the sun blazed out again in all his strength. Nature, washed and refreshed, looked red, green, and golden, in the warm autumn tints. We came out like the lizards; and although there were still heavy thunder-clouds about, we disregarded them, and at three o'clock on the 20th started to join a party of twelve who were to meet at Kamiesh, and dine at the "Luxembourg." We were unpunctual, and started late; but made up for it on the road, or rather along the track of the ravine from Karani to Kamiesh. It was well we lost no time, as a thundershower came pouring down just as we reached the shelter of the stables. The dinner really deserves a place amongst the annals of the war, and is worthy of description by an abler pen than mine. But I most enjoyed the exciting ride home by moonlight, galloping along the narrow track, by furze and bush, past carcases of French bullocks left unburied, and lying ghastly in the moonlight, a terror to all ponies, and a horror to our own noses. Every now and then a clink underneath an iron shoe tells of fragments of a broken bottle, but it is too dark to see; and a Turkish pony never stumbles or puts his foot down in a wrong place by any accident: and so on we go, our ponies leaning on the bit, till they reach the watering troughs of Karani, where they plunge their heads in to their eyes, and then walk steadily along the slippery slope of the hill side down into the hollow where the Cavalry is encamped.
The certainty that we are to leave the Crimea for winter quarters makes us anxious to revisit every part of its known world once more before we go; and yesterday we rode to the Sardinian observatory, a building erected on the summit of their highest hill, and from which a wonderful view is obtained of all the surrounding English, French, and Russian camps. We left this observatory behind us, passing to the right of it, and soon after came upon the tents which form the French depôt for General D'Allonville's Cavalry at Baidar. Beyond these again, on the extreme outpost, were Turkish Cavalry, and Turkish guns in position, overlooking a deep and precipitous hollow closed in with rocks. This was the neutral ground, across which Russian and Turks could glare at each other to their hearts' content. A dignified wave of the hand from the Turkish sentry warned us that we could not pass; so we rounded the base of the hill, and, by a judicious turn into a vineyard, came up with the "avante poste," also Turkish, and were able to look down the dizzy height into the deep hollow.
On every side the rocks rose perpendicular, stern, and bare, while far down beneath our feet lay the valley, clothed with trees and shrubs, appearing such a mass of verdure that the Tchernaya, which ran swiftly through it, foaming like a mountain torrent, looked but a silver thread wound in and out amongst the overhanging trees. A mill and a lane, scarcely perceptible through the trees, but running - the lane I mean, not the mill - close alongside the river, were all that occupied this profound valley. The only music to which that mill-wheel ever could have turned, - the only song the miller ever could have sung, - must have been the "De profundis clamavi."
The Turkish sentry close to us suddenly began to jabber away with a face of unmistakable delight. He had evidently discovered something, for his small, keen eyes were twinkling with excitement. The Turkish officer of the picket soon joined him, and, after some little conversation, turned to us, and said, pointing with his finger to the side of the opposite rock, "Russes." We could not find them, even with our glasses, though we saw Cossack horsemen further on. The "Russes" whom he saw were probably tending a large herd of cattle, which was grazing on the opposite hill-top, not 1000 yards from us. He took the glasses, and appeared much pleased with them. He then pointed out the Turkish Cavalry picket; and having remarked on the number of fires which blazed last night on all the Russian hills, we exchanged bows, and rode away; for the sun was set, and the moon looking at us over the shoulder of the hill. Nor could we stay to listen to the Sardinian band, which was playing on the plateau near Kamara, but had to make the best of our road to reach the camp.
Thunder-showers have not failed us these last three days. Yesterday morning the Highlanders at Kamara were deluged, and the watering places at Kadekoi were fetlock deep in mud - a faint foreshadowing of what the roads would have been after two or three months' rain, had not the siege been stopped, and all the army turned into road-makers. Beautiful roads are now being constructed: one runs by the side of the railroad from Kadekoi, joining that made by the French last year, and lately put in thorough repair by the Army Works' Corps; another runs from the Woronzow Road to the French position on the heights; while one railway is to be constructed from Balaklava to Kamara to bring provisions for the Sardinian army, and another to Kamiesh to transport food and forage for the French.
The little stream which runs from Kadekoi into the sea at Balaklava, instead of being in a shallow bed, and deluging the plain after every two hours' rain, flows now between two high banks, so that it cannot easily overflow. It is really a pity - except, of course, on account of the trenches - that the siege is over; for if we remained here another year or two, we should be as comfortably established as if we were at home.
September 25th. - Yesterday, to everybody's infinite surprise and pleasure, Mr. Clowes, who was wounded and taken prisoner at Balaklava, walked up into camp in a shooting coat and wide-awake, looking precisely as if he had never been absent, and answering everyone's greetings with much the same sort of dignified composure that a very big dog exhibits in noticing a little one.
I had taken an opportunity afforded by a flag of truce, to send him in a letter about a month ago; but he was then travelling down to Odessa, and did not receive it. He gives a most painful account of his adventures on the 25th of October, and afterwards in his march up the country. He was wounded in the back by a grape shot, which took him across both shoulders; but he rode on until his horse was shot, when he, of course, fell to the ground. Seeing our brigade returning from the charge, he tried to run after them, but soon fell down from loss of blood. His first thought was to lie quiet, and pretend to be dead, so that he might have a chance of escaping after dark; but he very soon saw parties of Cossacks coming down, who ran their lances into everyone of the English lying on the ground. Perceiving that the really dead were stabbed as well as those who pretended to be so, he rose, as well as his wound would allow, and throwing down his sword, gave himself up to a Russian officer of Lancers. He took him and Mr. Chadwick, of the 17th Lancers, before the General, who asked them several questions, all of which they declined to answer. They were then sent to Simpheropol, and soon after they began their march to Perekop. They marched on foot in company with prisoners and convicts, and at night were locked up with them. They remonstrated, but were told that there were no horses or means of conveyance to be had, and that there was no other way of transporting them. Their sufferings during this severe march were very great; aggravated, of course, by the utter want of consideration shown them. The last part of the time during which Mr. Clowes was a prisoner appears to have passed pleasantly enough. He went into society, and travelled post. I think his case is a hard one, as he cannot get a month's leave to return to England, if only to provide himself with clothes. He has no uniforms, no kit, and has been obliged to buy back his own horse.
Yesterday we rode up the heights till we overlooked Vernutka, and then returned by the good and even road made by Sir Colin Campbell along the summit of the heights, through his own camp down to Balaklava. After all, Englishmen are not so helpless, so hopeless, and so foolish, as they tried hard last year to make themselves out to be. I think they rested so entirely on the prestige that attached itself to the name of a British soldier, that they thought the very stars would come out of their courses to sustain the lustre of their name. Alas! their name was very literally dragged through the mud, during the miry winter months.
Upon the strength of the evacuation of the south side of Sebastopol, the Fleet made a demonstration in their turn. They all got up their steam and their anchors, and sailed away, some to Balaklava, some towards Eupatoria. One of the first-rates crowded her forecastle with marines, dressed in their uniforms, and made as if for Eupatoria. This was merely a ruse, to persuade the Russians that she was transporting regular troops.
The Tchernaya outposts are still vigorously watched. The French have it that 125,000 men are encamped on the plateau and about the Belbec, with the intention of making a rush upon our position should we weaken it by sending any considerable force to harass the retreating garrison. The Russians in that case aim at burning Balaklava and Kamiesh; but their murderous designs do not prevent our sleeping just as soundly in the neighbourhood of Balaklava, or enjoying the triumphs of art in the shape of the "Luxembourg" dinners at Kamiesh.
The Indian summer is come to us, and we are again almost complaining of heat at mid-day; whilst the clear sky and brilliant moonlight show us how enjoyable autumn would be in this climate, if we had all the advantages of the fertile soil, and could live in peace and plenty. The Russians, however, appear determined that we shall not have much peace. They have begun to throw shot and shell into the town from the earthworks on the north. One of these round shot came through the roof of Brigadier General Windham's house, and fortunately struck without doing any injury to the inmates.
Could not the fleet have so annoyed the Russians with their mortar boats as to prevent the construction of these works? - and if so, why did they not do so?
A French woman, riding in the French quarter of the town yesterday, is reported to have had her horse struck by a shell. For the truth of this I cannot vouch; but it is not improbable, as on the day I was 1ast in the town, the firing was very heavy, and the riding consequently dangerous. It has also been said by General Morris that none of the French Cavalry will move into winter quarters, as the object of the large Russian force on the plateau, and by the Belbec, is to make a rush upon Balaklava, as soon as they find the army sufficiently weakened to admit of their doing so with a chance of success. We called to-day upon General Bosquet, who was very severely wounded at the assault on the Malakoff, and to our surprise and pleasure, he was sufficiently recovered to be able to admit us. We were shown into his room, which forms one of the compartments of a large wooden hut, and found him reclining in an arm-chair, having been able to sit up only within the last two days. He was struck by a piece of a 13-inch shell under the right arm and on the right side; it had completely smashed all the muscles and sinews, and his arm is as yet powerless above the elbow-joint. He showed us the piece of shell by which he was struck; it,could not weigh less than four pounds. It is astonishing how he escaped with life, from a wound inflicted by so terrible an implement of war. He appeared cheerful enough, and glad to "causer un peu;" said he was ordered away for change of air, but did not wish to leave his post here, and fully coincided in my quotation, pointing to his wounded side, "On ne marche pas à la gloire par le bonheur." In his room was a fauteuil taken from Sebastopol, and which he had very appropriately covered with the green turbans worn by the Zouaves of his division.
September 27th. - News reached us to-day of two "affaires de Cavalerie:" one with General D'Allonville's division, at Eupatoria; the other with the 10th Hussars, at Kertch These reports require, of course, official confirmation; but, as the engagement at Eupatoria appears to receive credence from one or two French generals whom I have seen to-day, it must be tolerably authentic. We rode this afternoon to the Sardinian observatory, and, after admiring, as all must do, the neatness of fortification as well as its strength, we ascended to the telescope, which in placed at the summit of a high tour d'observation. By its aid we could discern huts in the course of erection, and the plateau by the Spur Battery, and could even see the Russians sending their horses down to water - one man riding and leading a horse. The Russian huts are wooden and like ours; while the Sardinians are digging out and covering with earth huts, that will not only be waterproof, but absolutely warm, from the solidity and closeness with which they are built. There never was such a pretty little army sent into the field as that of the Sardinians. Had they not established their reputation by repulsing the Russians on the 16th of August, they would be still considered in the light of the prettiest "toy army" that ever was sent to fight, each department is so pretty and so perfect - their Artillery, their Cavalry, their Guards, and, above all, their band.
To-day is my birthday, and in consideration of it, I was allowed to choose my own horse to ride, and my own country to ride over. I chose the celebrated "Café au lait," that prince of pretty Indian horses, and rode him to the observatory, and back by the Sardinian band. Here we met several officers of the Highland Brigade, and heard that General Markham, on whom we had all built such magnificent hopes of British achievement under British generalship, was going on board ship ill; I am sorry to say, very ill, and it is said he must return to England. Coming out with all the prestige which surrounded his name, I think this sudden sinking into ill-health, and the abandonment of the army, will have its bad effect. We want good generals; we want men who are in a position to lead, not brigades, for we have good brigadiers enough, but divisions, or even the whole army; we want men with youth, energy, and courage to fight against and pull through any adverse fortune that may assail them. Our best general, our most unflinching leader, has been the Press. To the columns of the Times the army owes a "National Debt; " and so long as every incident of this war is laid before the public at home, so long as every man is familiarised, as it were, with the life of the soldier, so long will this war be a popular war, and so long will the sympathies of all England be enlisted on our side. We suppose that the campaign for this year is over. The Cavalry, we understand, are to go into winter quarters on the Bosphorus. It is now becoming late in autumn, and the nights, and even days, are chilly enough. No orders have been issued, nothing official is known. Should it be at last decided that we really embark for the Bosphorus, I trust we may find ourselves transferred to proper accommodation for man and horse; but, if not moved before many days, to say nothing of weeks, are over, we shall be much worse off on the Bosphorus than we should have been, had we been allowed to remain on our old ground and permitted to prepare ourselves, from our own resources, for a second winter in the Crimea.
* General Féray commands three regiments of Chasseurs D'Afriques.
*The evil done by the Times to the Crimean army predominated greatly over the good. The Times spread the news that Sebastopol had fallen, and when this turned out to be untrue, continued to predict its immediate capture, thus preventing private speculators from carrying supplies to the Crimea. The Times had previously softened the horrors and blunders of Devno and Varna, and it again for weeks concealed the sufferings and wants of the army before Sebastopol, and suppressed the accounts given by Mr. Russell of the mismanagement and inefficiency which prevailed in almost all departments. It was by means of private letters, handed from man to man and read with the greatest eagerness, that the true state of the case became known; and it was only when starvation and cold had done their work, and concealment was no longer possible, that the Times broke silence, and endeavoured to gain credit as the mouthpiece of public indignation. - ED.