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The Times 19.8.1868 p 4

Letter


MR KINGLAKE’S INVASION OF THE CRIMEA

TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES

Sir — The reasoning of “The Reviewer” in your impression of the 15th inst cannot pass by his now stating that his “review” did not express “the opinions of the writer, but only puts into plain English what Mr Kinglake described.”

Mr Kinglake can be judged by his own words and opinions; he has not stated what the Reviewer states — viz, that “that night Lord Raglan slept by the Tractir bridge on the Tchernaya, while his army, French and English, was wandering for miles in broken, straggling columns behind him, and the enemy, for all he knew, was ready to attack at daybreak.”

These are the Reviewer’s words; his own deductions and his own opinion of the state of the army that day and evening. It was to combat the injustice to one portion of that army that I brought forward against that opinion facts which the Reviewer acknowledges now, but which he then ignored, and he still holds that those his words do not imply “that Lord Raglan left his army behind him in a state of disorganization or the absence of precautions towards the front.” Then opinions differ materially as to the effect of language.

The Reviewer refers to the “arrival of the 1st Brigade of the Light Division as not rendering the position safe, nor that it could be considered as the army English and French.” Possibly not; but he cannot be ignorant that there was another brigade of the Light Division, composed of the 19th, the 77th, and the 88th Regiments, which followed and bivouacked close upon the 1st Brigade, thus forming a division complete of seven infantry battalions in advance of Lord Raglan towards Balaclava, and which were certainly not “wandering for miles as part of a broken, straggling column behind him.”

The dangers of the flank march were enough in themselves; they were inherent in the nature of such an operation. The only orders that could be given to the leading brigade of infantry were to enter the extensive tract of woodland which had the leaf still on and the underwood generally higher than a man on horseback, to march through it by compass SSE; yet it was necessary to be tolerably ready to form and fight. When the proper direction of the heads of regiments could not be seen, but only guided by the voice in the calling to and the answering of the staff from the centre and flanks at deploying distance, it shows the difficulties of such an operation; but these succumb to order, discipline, and attention; and I repeat that the Light Division, under Sir George Brown, arriving on the plain of the Tchernaya, after this long and hot march, formed in proper order at dusk the advanced posts of the army, towards the enemy.

I do not refer to the detail of movements or preparations on that march of the remainder of the English army, composed of say 24 battalions of infantry in brigades and divisions, with cavalry and engineers, and from 48 to 60 guns; those forming it, and jealous of the credit of their corps, might speak with the same personal authority as to the facts as I have been enabled to do so as to the Light Division in advance. But I think they must have read with incredulity, and with a stronger feeling, the statement and opinion of the Reviewer “that in all the operations of the Allies there was nothing so unsoldierly and slovenly as that very flank march,” and that they were “wandering for miles broken, straggling columns close to an enemy which, seen near at hand and in force that day, might have made an attack at any time.”

Possibly the Reviewer did not intend to convey this imputation in his description of the army on its march and on its bivouac that day and night; then he had better say so in plain terms, for the impression conveyed to your readers by his quoted words — particularly if they are regarded as contemporary history — is unfounded, and unjust to the army, to its immediate commanding officers, and to Lord Raglan himself.

Your obedient servant
W J CODRINGTON, General

Linden, Morpeth, Aug. 17


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