The Ben Smyth / Kinglake Archive
Novr. 11th 1854
My dear Vivian1
Our officers are so reduced that those who like myself are still to the good, are never off duty I have therefore very little time to write home to you — The last post brought me your and Lady V's kind letters I wish I could hold out any hopes of a prospect of this job being finished, it, alas! looks very gloomy. The Russians fire five to our one gun and our big guns are nearly worn out and the ammunition is not very plentiful we are not a yard nearer than the day we began & in fact I hold to my opinion that there is no more chance of our taking it than there is of you being our Commander in Chief; the only chance I have ever thought was for 150,000 men to be sent and the place being regularly invested on both sides, and then starved out. The rain has been awful and the mud is like Chobham was in another month what cavalry horses we have left together with our Artillery horses will all die and in fact, some time now you will all awake in England in astonishment at some awful disaster; in my opinion the only way to act, is for the Baltic Fleet to come here with the Boulogne Camp2 on board then let our Fleet be put under a sailor, and not an old woman, which Dundas is, and disaster may be avoided, but no half measures will do - you may fancy how matters stand, when every man I meet always begins with these words, "how is this all to end," the place is too strong, our Engineers & Artillery are are [sic] inferior to the Russians, their cavalry are despicable, and we can always lick their infantry, but that will not take Sevastopol. On the 5th we had an awful fight again, the two Grand Dukes having arrived brought a blowing up for Menschikoff and an order to kick us out; they brought with them also 27,000 extra men so they attacked our right with about 60,000 men and sixty guns, after eight hours hard fighting they were driven back, but we lost 2503 in casualties, 30 and odd officers killed, and 90 and odd wounded, & we have buried 4000 Russians and the quantity of wounded and prisoners is untold, I have no doubt 10,000 men are put hors de combat, still this will wear us out and they do not care for the loss of 10,000 men - poor Newman (Sir Robert) was wounded and then cruelly stabbed by the enemy when on the ground, he was in fact barbarously murdered, a protest signed by Lord Raglan & Canrobert jointly has been sent in against the war being carried out in such a barbarous style; I hope our Press are beginning to open their eyes, after having made us the laughing stock of Europe by their boastings, and will now see that what officers gave their opinion about was more correct than the opinions of a only an [?] Editor of a Newspaper, the loss on Sunday last has been so frightful that I will not attempt a list but will leave you to learn it from the newspapers. I have 2 Captains, 2 Subalterns, & myself together with about 340 bayonets which constitutes my Regiment, others are something like it; I see all about me are in a wretched state, wet, miserable, ill clad and with a dreary prospect for the winter, those are considered lucky who receive wounds (short of mortal) which enable them to get off and so out of the scrap at that cost - This will be a dreary letter for you but such is indeed the prospect of all.
With kind regards to Lady Vivian
Ever yours truly
1. Probably Sir Robert John Hussey Vivian (1802-1887). After many years distinguished service in India, in May 1855 he was appointed to command the Turkish contingent in the Crimea.
2. The French had established an army reserve and training depot at Boulogne (where from 1803 to 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte had assembled the Grande Armée for the invasion of England).
20th. September 1855
There are no troops at Bakchi serai.- A large convoy of ammunition has halted there.
The ground near Aranikoi is covered with Tents, which served as Hospitals. They are not occupied by the troops now stationed there.
2000 Infantry are stationed at Duvankoy, on the Belbec, at [sic] 3000 at Livren.
20,000 Infantry of the 4th, 5th, and 7th Divisions, and detachment belonging to other Divisions are stationed at Tcherkes Tur, and Taroba.-
5,000 Cavalry, and a considerable number of Field Guns, and ammunition occupy the same position.-
Of the Russian Army 30,000 men are at present encamped on the right bank of the Belbeck.
4,000 Infantry of the 6th Division, and 800 Hussars occupy Orta Korales and Yuka Korales.-
4,000 Infantry at Kodji sala
500 Greeks and Cossacks at Araousve
1,200 Infantry are distributed between Tikittash
The Russian Forces concentrated at Korales, and Kodji Sala are estimated at 12,000 men.
The troops occupying the heights of Mackenzie, belonging to the 16th and 17th Divisions, are estimated at 6,000 men.
6,000 Infantry are stationed at Kucheret.
5,000 Infantry occupy the Severnaya
The Russian Army encamped between the sea and Mackenzie is thus estimated at 17,000 men.
No reinforcements have arrived of late in the Crimea.
22nd. September, 1855
An agent has communicated to us the following intelligence
The Russians are forming at Baschtii on the Tchalgir a Depôt of ammunition. A large number of Regimental waggons belonging to the Army are collected there.
Batchey has been fortified, and a Battery of 12 Guns has been erected bearing South. The Garrison consists of 300 men.
Since the 10th instant the Road leading to the Tchoungar Bridge has been closed to the public. Cossacks are stationed at both extremities of the Bridge.
There are no Troops quartered at Karasu Bazaar. A Part of the Baggage train has been sent there. The stores contain 240,000 Cwt of Biscuit and Barley.
The 1st. Regiment of the 8th. Division has arrived at Sympheropol from Sevastopol. The whole of the 15th. Division is to be concentrated at Sympheropol
The Provisions of the Army stored at Sympheropol consist of 480,000 Cwt of Biscuit and Grain.
No reinforcements have arrived of late from Perecop
At Bakchi serai 5 Field Guns defend the entrance of the Town from the South. - The Russians have collected there 240,000 Cwt of hay, and 480,000 lb of Biscuit and Grain.
General Montresor with his Division of Dragoons is encamped near Talanskoy
4000 Hussars, and Lancers under command of General Strabelsky have moved from the upper Belbeck to Alma Kermen in the valley of the Alma.
The 16th. Division occupies Korales, and Kabarta.
The 6th. Division is stationed Yukar Korales and Kodji Sala.
The 5th. and 6th. Reserve Battallions of the 13th. Division have been sent back to Kherson.
Part of the Garrison of Sevastopol has moved towards the Alma, and the Boulganak in order to watch the movements of the enemy from Eupatoria
The Russian generals apprehend a landing on the Coast.
Prince Gortshakoff has obliged the inhabitants of Sympheropol to remain in the Town, which they intended to leave, fearing the advance of the Allies.
The inhabitants of the villages have received orders to hold their Arabas, oxen, and horses, ready at the disposal of the Military Authorities.
The opinion generally prevails that a battle will be fought in the month of September. The Russians state that if we do not take the field they will attack us.
Six Guns have been added to the Batteries at Maugoub Kale.
A Deserter from the Severnaya states that of the 5,000 sailors that remained, 3,000 have been sent to Nicolayef. The others are employed at the works now in course of construction at the Severnaya. -
There are only 40 Guns mounted in the North Fort. The new works are progressing slowly. The Batteries near the water-side are partly armed.
The soldiers are discouraged.
Part of the Militia, and the Sappers are encamped in the Severnaya.
The deserter states that Fort Nicolas is undermined, and the electric wire which is to ignite the mine runs under the Harbour to Fort No. 4 on the North shore. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to ignite the mines.
The soldiers who have no shelter suffer much from their exposure to the bad weather.
The general opinion is that the Russians will spend the winter in the positions, which they now occupy.
The Rockets thrown into the Batteries cause considerable damage. -
The North Fort is undermined. -
[Transcriber's note: The following letter is annotated in one corner "Major Burroughs 93rd. Highlanders." DK]
10 June 1863
Emboldened by the request contained in the Preface to the First Volume of your History of the Crimean War, I herewith send you an account of the Battle of Balaklava copied from the Regtl. Records of the 93rd. Highlanders. I have added some notes extracted from my Diary, but where I have done so I have enclosed my addition within brackets ( ). I have also appended some Extracts from my Diary after the Declaration of Peace, as they are explanatory of foregoing matters. I regret I am not able to send you the names of the Russian Officers our Simpheropol friends. My friends & I gave them our names & we wrote down theirs, or rather they gave us their Cards. None of these, I regret to say can now be found. I thought I had noted their names in my Diary but can nowhere come across them.
In the hope that this account of the Battle, viewed from the 93rd. Highlrs. point of View, may be to you of some, however slight, assistance in writing its history
I have the honor to be
Your most obedient Servant
F Burroughs Majr.
"On the morning of the 25 Octr 1854 at about 7 A.M, a large force of the Enemy debouched from the direction of the Tchernaya & Baidar Valleys & attacked with a large body of skirmishers & artillery, the Turkish Redoubts. The British force around Balaklava, which had been as usual under arms since before daylight, consisted of about 800 Marines" (under Col. Hurdle) "& 2 Comps of the 93. Highlanders under Major Gordon. The main body of the 93rd Highlanders under Lt Col. Ainslie was drawn up in Line on a small Hill in front of their Encampment, which covered the approach to Balaklava from the Plain. On the left of the 93rd Highlanders was drawn up a small party of about 100 Invalids from different Regts that had been collected at Balaklava for the purpose of being embarked on Board of ship. These invalids were under Lt Col. Daveney. On their left, & on the Right of the 93rd, stood on each flank of the Line, a Battalion of Turks in Column. Nearly half a mile to the Left front of the Infantry stood the British Heavy Cavalry in Column."
"The Battle commenced by the Russians concentrating a severe fire of Artillery upon No 1" (the most Eastern & afterwards known as Canny-robert's) "Redoubt, from which after a short resistance, the Turks were dislodged & the Redoubt containing 3 Guns was captured by the Enemy. In obedience to orders previously received: 'to fall back upon the mainbody of the Regt should any disaster befall the Turks': Major Gordon with his 2 Compies of the 93rd at once descended the Heights & proceeded to join Lt Colonel Ainslie in the Plain & at a distance of about 2 Miles. The capture of No 1 Redoubt was speedily followed by that of Nos 2 & 3 with the Guns they contained. The Russians commenced a severe fire on the flying Turks. The 93rd Highlanders, having been joined by its 2 Compies from the Heights under Major Gordon, was now directed, together with the Invalids & Turks, to advance, covered by the Light Compy of the 93rd in skirmishing order, the whole bringing forward the left Shoulder. The Enemy then opened fire upon the Regt with Round shot & shell, from the Redoubts & Heights from which they had just driven the Turks. Our small force was then ordered by Sir Colin Campbell to retire some yards & until under cover of the hillock" (afterwards known as Highlander Hill, Dunrobin Hill, or, Sutherland Hill) "in our rear. Here the force remained for a short time lying down under the fire of the Enemy's Artillery. Presently a large body of the Enemy's Cavalry appeared on the opposite side of the plain, at about 1,000 yds in our front. The order was then given to the Regt which was still in Line, to advance to the summit of the Hillock" (The Turkish Battalions at sight of the Cavalry immediately commenced dissolving, their Officers being the first to disappear. Sir Colin rode down the Line & said: 'There is no Retreat from here Men, you must die where you stand.' (I heard this myself. I commanded No 6 Compy 93rd that day. FB) This was responded to by a cheerful 'Aye, aye, Sir Colin, we'll do that.') "The order was then given to commence firing. The Enemy's cavalry having commenced to advance against our Line at a quick & ever increasing pace. The few Turks remaining on our Flanks, after firing a confused volley retired in disorder" (bolted) "but the well sustained file firing of the 93rd & Invalids checked the advance of the Russian Cavalry. These before coming into contact with our Line" (& within 200 paces of our front) "wheeled off to their left & retired in some confusion. Their confusion was increased by some well directed shots fired into their midst by Lt Wolf R.A. who was in command of 2 heavy Guns in position, at the Right Rear of the 93rd Highlanders Camp." (In retreating through the 93rd Camp some Turks attempted to pillage the Tents, but were prevented by the determination shewn by Mrs Smith, a stalwart Scottish Matron, the wife of a Private in the Regt Mrs Smith, afterwards known as the 'Kakava [?] Schmidt' was, to the merriment of all, seen holding on to a burly Turk, vociferating at him, & belaboring him with all her might.)
"Almost simultaneous with, but a little before the attack of the Russian cavalry upon the 93rd, a similar body of the Enemy's Cavalry advanced against the British Heavy Dragoons on our left front. These met their assailants in right gallant style." (The red Coats of our Troops were seen dashing through the Russian Columns, the back again & then at them sideways until the Enemy's cavalry were routed. This charge was witnessed by the 93rd & was responded to by a hearty cheer along their Line. Hardly however had the cheers died away when there appeared the Column of Russian Cavalry advancing to attack us.)
"After the rout of the Russian Cavalry, there was a pause in the Operations of the Russians. At about 10 A.M. the 1st Division under H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge consisting of the Brigade of Guards & 42nd & 79th Highlanders entered the Plain, shortly followed by the 4th Division under Sir George Cathcart. It was also about this time that the heroic but disastrous charge of the Light Cavalry under Lord Cardigan, in the Valley at the front of the Fedukhine Heights, took place. This charge was not witnessed by the 93rd. As the 1st & 4th Divisions advanced the Enemy retired, concentrating his forces on Nos 3 & 4 Redoubts. Some firing now took place between the Russian Artillery & the Artillery of the 1st & 4th British Divisions, the Armies however remained in position & inactive until Nightfall, when the Guards & the 4th Division returned to their old Position before Sebastopol, leaving the 42nd & 79th Highdrs at Balaklava. These two Regts, as soon as darkness concealed their movements, were placed by Sir Colin Campbell on the Slope of the Hills eastward of the harbour of Balaklava, between the positions occupied by the Marines & the 93rd. The 93rd. were order [sic] to strike their tents under cover of darkness & to retire across a Vineyard to the left of a slightly entrenched Battery" (No 4 Battery then under command of Lt Wolf R.A.) "about 400 yds. in rear of the position (Sutherland Hill) they had occupied during the Action, where formed in Line, with their Right resting on the Battery, a Hedge & a Vineyard being in their Front, the Regt bivouacked for the night. In this Engagement the Casualties amongst the 93rd were only 2 Privates severely wounded by Round shot."
"The morning of the 26th showed the Russian force still in the same Position they held on the Heights, the previous evening & as another Attack was momentarily to be apprehended, Sir Colin commenced entrenching & strengthening the Position occupied by the Highland Brigade, Marines, & Turks, in front of Balaklava, which the large force of the Enemy, whose Piquets were only about 1½ mile in our front, rendered a very precarious one."
"The duties then became very harassing; constant fatigue parties at work from daylight until sunset & at Night the whole Regt remained under Arms & fully accoutred, the one half lining the Trench, the others in their Tents, each man with his Rifle beside him & ready to turn out at a moment's notice. Night alarms were frequent from the propinquity of the Outposts & the Regt was called to arms often, two & three times in of a night."
"The weather which up to the commencement of Novr. had been extremely fine, now broke. The rains were heavy & incessant. Few knapsacks had as yet been landed from the Transports." (Some of the Knapsacks & Officers Baggage, mine amongst the number, was not landed until the 30th. Novr. FB) "The Clothing of Officers & Men was rapidly falling to rags, & such as it was, from the constant fatigue duties & from lying every other night in the open trenches, it was saturated with wet & mud & there was no means of either getting it changed or dried. Indeed the inside of the Tents to each of which 14 men were apportioned afforded from their worn & tattered state, little or no shelter from Wind or Rain & were like the rest of the Camp ankle deep in mud, which had to be scraped away from inside the tents before Officers or Men laid down to sleep at night. The issue of straw as bedding was stopped as it was required as food for the Horses of the Army."
(Matters continued extremely miserable until January 1855, when the incessant rain ceased & the Boxes of warm Clothing the Barrels of Welbeck Ale & the kindly presents from the People of England came dropping in upon us. Brevets had appeared announcing honors & rewards conferred upon Regtl Officers & not only as hitherto upon the wearers of Cocked hats. We felt that the interest of the British people had been awakened in its army. The gloom that had been hanging over all was quickly dispelled & matters continued daily to improve.)
April 2. 1856. 1 P.M. A Salute of 100 Guns is fired in honor of the declaration of Peace being announced in General Orders. The Peace was signed at Paris on the 28th. March. I never remember seeing joyful news more solemnly & less joyfully received.
April 8. Lots of Russians in our Camps & Frenchmen crossing to the Russians. The British still prohibited from crossing the Tchernaya without a Pass from Sir Wm Codrington & no Passes are out yet.
April 12. 8 A.M. Munro, E. Macpherson, Alexander* & I start on Horseback for Backtschisserai & Simpheropol. Arrive at 4.30 P.M.
(*These officers are all still in the 93rd. the first is the Surgeon, the others Captains.)
April 14. Having left our Horses at Baktschisserai & having hired a Telega1 & four we post to Simpheropol & arrive here about 10 A.M. x x x x Met several Russian Officers who fought against us at Alma & Balaklava & throughout the siege. Fight Battles over again. Immense fraternisation. They entertain us at Supper. In talking over the Campaign the Russians said: "At Alma what could we expect, the Allies outnumbered us & had 100 Siege Guns in position, whist we had only our Field Pieces." We suggested that their Field pieces were very remarkable weapons & threw very heavy shot a very long way. "At Balaklava" Officers of the Cavalry that charged the 93rd. said: "Our orders were to seize the Battery behind you. (Lt. Wolf's Battery. FB) In advancing to do so your Regt. rose as it were by Enchantment out of the ground & poured a deadly fire into us. We thought we were caught in a trap & sheered off. Few of us were killed, but nearly every man & horse was wounded." On questioning them about this, as our having killed so few was a sore point with us & had exposed us to much chaff throughout the Army, one of these officers a captain of Hussars said, he himself had received two bullet wounds, one through the fleshy part of the thigh & the other in the hand, two fingers of which he showed us he had lost. He said: "If you are Sportsmen you must know how far a wounded Deer or Hare will run before it drops, unless killed dead; so with a Horse; & a wounded rider will never drop from his horse as long as he can cling on." Talking over the Siege an officer said: "Were I to live 100 years, I should never forget the few days that intervened between the day of the Alma & the day the first Earthworks were thrown up by you at Sebastopol. Such days of misery, such confusion! Everybody appeared to have lost his head. The Town was open & we expected you to march in every moment. But when we saw you were about to lay siege to it & had commenced throwing up Earthworks, all brightened up, all thought 'Two can play at that' & every man, woman, & child was set to work at the Defences."
F Burroughs, Majr
1. A crude 4-wheeled unsprung Russian wagon.
[endorsed:] Figures of Tower's as to casualties in the War.
|Prisoners & deserters||692|
|Killed & died of wounds||14,631|
|Died at Varna or before Septr. 6||903|
[added in another hand:] "From Spring '55"
|1,807||Prisoners & deserters||692|
|36,290||Killed & died of wounds||14,631|
|———||Died at Varna or before Septr 6||903|
|3 213||other side|
|2nd. B||1st. Foot||273||36|
|Br. German Legion||159||217|
|Br. Swiss Legion||85|
6 Great Cumberland Street
My dear Mr Kinglake
A day or two back I was on my way to your house, but I was driven home by stress of Weather.
I think it was (I forget the date) that the Lt Generals were convened to meet at Hd. Qr. to receive a communication ——
It was that each Division should send forward 800 men to within 500 yards of the Russian Works in order to cover the advance of our Engineer Works —
Every one of the Division Commanders objected, declaring that these detachments would be immediately driven back by the fire from the Enemy's works —
This proposition was then completely given up. It emanated from Sir J Burgoyne who was present ——
He & Ld. Raglan retired into another room
It was then proposed by them that we should give as much assistance to the Engineers as circumstances admitted of —— This was cordially accepted of ——
This was the only consultation I was present at ——
I think something in the nature of a council of War was intended for the 7th. of Novr.
—— But the battle of Inkerman on the 5th changed decidedly the opinions as to the siege - I understood that it was decided on the 7th. that the positions then held should be retained but that no further advance should then be attempted ——
But I was not present — being then on board ship & ill —
Sinly. Yours D L Evans
Dec 27. 1866
Dear Mr Kinglake
I have heard from General Yorke that he has seen you on the subject of the charge of Heavy Brigade at Balaclava with reference to the part taken by the Royal Dragoons under his command — and you may probably have all the information you require — but I hope you will not consider the two statements which I now enclose to be superfluous — The longest one is drawn up by Lieutenant Lee (now Adjutant) and is a correct description of what took place as far as his memory, assisted by the recollections of several men who were either Troop Serjeants Major or Serjeants on that day, serves him —
The other Statement is an extract from a letter, written by Captain George Campbell who commanded the left troop of the 2nd. Squadron on the occasion —
I should have sent them sooner but waited to hear from Major Elmsall — However I have as yet had no reply from him and do not like to delay any longer —
As you asked me about myself, I was (as I believe you know) laid up in bed on the morning of the attack from fever and had been suffering for three days previously. But on being told that the Russians were preparing to attack us, I got out of bed and mounted my horse and joined my regiment, while it was drawn up near the Redoubt held by the Turks and before any men or horses had been wounded. I remained with them until they had retired up to the Vinyards, when being very weak & faint I went to our Camp (which was within a few hundred yards) thinking that nothing was likely to occur for some time — I was sitting on the ground outside my tent when the Russian Cavalry suddenly appeared over the heights, and although I got on my horse as quickly as I could, the melee was over before I could join my own regiment, and when I did so, they were halted and were getting into proper line again, a short distance on the left of the Greys. I distinctly remember turning out of the Rank, men of the 4th. and 5th. Dragoon Guards who in the confusion had got away from their own corps and joined us, the distinction of the Uniform being scarcely perceptible —
I only mention this about myself as you said that you intended giving names of officers who were present and though I had the misfortune to be absent during the most exciting moments from my proper place in the Regiment, I had made the greatest efforts to be there and it was entirely owing to the attack being so suddenly made while I was, as I hoped, nursing myself for future efforts which we were never allowed to make.
If I can be of any further assistance to you I shall be most happy and
Yours very faithfully
[The statements said to be enclosed in the letter above were not found among the papers. DK]