Sir — It is with special interest I have noticed the controversy with Mr Kinglake regarding the statements of the latter concerning the unsoldierlike bearing of the French army during the Crimean campaign, and I beg to state that his statements are far from reliable.
I had the honour of serving during the whole of that war, the regiment to which I then belonged, the 2d Battalion Rifle Brigade, being one of the first to embark for the East, and not returning till the war was concluded.
My first acquaintance with our French allies began in the Camp at Gallipoli, previous to the landing of the expedition in the Crimea, and is still very favourably impressed upon my memory, which acquaintance was kept up under some peculiar circumstances throughout the campaign.
I can testify to the undaunted bravery of the French at the Battle of the Alma, where some of their battalions were conspicuous for their gallantry and daring. It is also an acknowledged fact that the opportune aid afforded by some of their light cavalry regiments to our cavalry division at the celebrated Charge of Balaclava was most gallant. As regards their conduct at the Battle of Inkerman, I can aver from personal knowledge, that it was at once noble and effective; and I feel convinced that had they not arrived on the scene of conflict at the critical and important moment they did, it would have fared hard indeed with our gallant fellows, who were getting fagged and worn out with their almost superhuman efforts against such fearful odds. I had also daily opportunities of observing the gallant, enduring, and even cheerful manner in which they performed their duty in the trenches during that dreary and memorable siege in front of Sebastopol. I was one of four riflemen taken prisoners by the enemy in the Redan, at the final storming of Sebastopol, at the same time that a number of the French were taken prisoners in that brilliant achievement, the capture of the Malakoff, with some of whom I formed a most intimate acquaintance during the five months we sojourned together in Russia: so I had a good opportunity of studying their character and bearing under adverse as well as favourable circumstances, and can testify to their general gallantry and hardy endurance.
Permit me to add, that besides serving in the Crimea I had also the honour of serving in the Caffre War of 1852-53, and also during the Indian Mutiny, and that I am in possession of five medals and four clasps, and can therefore speak from experience gained in actual warfare, and my testimony is this — that more manly fellows, livelier companions, or better soldiers, than our French allies I have never met.
By finding a place for the above in your valuable columns you will much oblige.
Yours most respectfully
Manager Perthshire Advertiser
(late of 2d Battalion Rifle Brigade)
Perth, Feb. 12