Throughout the month of March the besieging army in the Crimea was, by Lord Raglan’s own admission, itself subjected to what amounted to a state of siege. So far as supplies were concerned, its communications, indeed, remained open; but for the army itself, from its bleak station before Sebastopol, there was no means of retreat. And of course it is one thing to know that no thought of retreat was entertained, and quite another to know that no such thought could have been entertained.
Throughout the month the health of the troops continued to improve.
Sorties and their repulse were the principal military incidents of a period which was less remarkable for events directly connected with the campaign than for external occurrences which exercised, or promised to exercise, an influence on the war.
On March 2nd died the Czar Nicholas I., the prime author of all its woes, his death being so unexpected as to lie with difficulty believed. It has been directly ascribed to the effect, on his tumultuous and already disordered nature, of the defeat inflicted on his troops by the Turks at Eupatoria on the 17th of February.
On February 26th, another Imperial disturber of the peace of nations had imparted to the British Prime Minister the latest chimera of his teeming brain. Though he was not an expert in war, it took the form of a plan of campaign designed to subserve his personal glory.
Briefly, Napoleon’s idea was to proceed in person to the seat of war, and, having secured the investment of Sebastopol, to organise and lead an army in the field which should sweep the Russians from the Crimea. Promising himself, so to speak, to be ‘in at the death,’ he looked to his own personal share in the enterprise to dazzle his impressionable subjects and so strengthen his hold on an insecure throne. Meantime, with characteristic selfishness, he had instructed his confidential agent, General Niel, to curb French ardour at the seat of war. Of the distaste with which most well-wishers of the Allied Armies regarded the prospect of his presence in the Crimea, these letters afford ample testimony.
On March 15th the Vienna Conference re-assembled, the new Czar’s Minister, Count Nesselrode, having announced that Alexander II. would join in it ‘in a sincere spirit of concord,’ notwithstanding that his predecessor had declared that he would submit to no limitation of his power in the Black Sea. Lord John Russell represented Great Britain at the Conference, on which, a week after its inauguration, good hopes of peace were based at home.
Meantime, the statecraft of Count Cavour had induced the King of Sardinia to declare war on Russia; whence Lord Panmure’s letters of this period are concerned with the Sardinian Contingent, no less than with such topics as the progress of the Balaclava railway, the bringing of troops from India through Egypt, the debate in the House of Lords on Lord Lucan’s case (March 19th). His letter to Lord Raglan, dated March 16th, is of special value, as helping to set the relations of the War Minister with the General in a truer and less harsh light than before.
Before Sebastopol, March 1, 1855
Referring to my letter of the 27th February, I am now enabled to send you a copy of General Osten-Sacken’s letter of the 26th February to General Canrobert and myself, and of our collective answer.
As to Russian proposal for an hours cessation of hostilities.
It is difficult to understand the meaning of General Osten-Sacken’s proposition for a suspension of hostilities under the pretext of burying the dead. You will observe by our answer that there were no dead to bury, either of French or Russians. There was a great deal of bowing, I understand, and some display of friendly feelings by the Russians, but what called it forth I cannot say.
You will see that the Governor of Sebastopol speaks of the exemplary intrepidity of our Allies.
PS. — Since writing the above, I have learned that the enemy have moved forward a work 1 in advance of that which they maintained against the French on the morning of the 24th, and it may have been a device to have a better look at the ground they have since taken up that they proposed a cessation of hostilities for an hour on the 27th, under another pretext.
WAR DEPARTMENT, March 2, 1855.
The French Emperor most likely to go to the Crimea, and his reasons for doing so.
I have your bag of the 17th, and it is more cheerful than for some time past, and the state exhibits an improvement in your sick list. The previous mail brought neither private letter nor state, which was vexatious, inasmuch as the Queen desires to see immediately every one that arrives, which was my reason for ordering them in triplicate. We have every reason to believe that the Emperor will positively go to the Crimea. He distrusts his Generals: he feels a conviction that things have either been concealed from or misrepresented to him, and he has resolved to see, hear, and act for himself. This will change the face of affairs with you, and for my own part I believe you will find in him a more sincerely disposed co-operator than you have found in his Generals. He will produce a plan of operations; but I hope that, before you are placed in a position to decide on any particular course, I shall be able to send you a confidential despatch containing the instructions of the Government.
General La Marmora.
I have seen General de la Marmora, who is to command the Sardinian Contingent. He is a fine, soldierlike man, with whom you will have pleasure in acting. I have informed him of what has passed between us on the subject of the conveyance of his troops, and he seems to be pretty well satisfied, though I fear that, like most other people, he will expect more than can be done for him.
hospital arrangements; water-supply.
I have been busy in arranging for your sick, and I hope soon to have two convalescent depots opened — one at Corfu and the other at Gozo, where the men, as they become fit for duty, may be gradually trained on by degrees, as their strength permits, to their former habits. I am also arranging for a speedy transit of such of your sick as can bear it direct to England, so that I hope to relieve your hospital at Scutari so far as to leave room for the sudden influx which an action or an assault might occasion.
I am glad to see that your railway is getting on. It will be a vast assistance and relieve the men in many respects. What appears to me to be your main necessity is rest. I hope you are turning your attention to supplies of water for the camp, as we are informed here that, as spring advances, this necessity of life becomes scanty. As the weather becomes warmer and the troops less harassed with work, bathing parties might be sent down to the sea, as a means of keeping up cleanliness and a source of amusement to the men.
Inefficiency of Filder
I am afraid Filder 2 is very inefficient, for while you are crying out for hay and reporting its deficiency, not one word reaches us from him of any prospective want of this article, or indeed of anything else. Sir John M’Neill and Colonel Tulloch will, I hope, put some life into him. I hear privately from the railway contractors that they are afraid that you will lay an embargo on the vessels. Pray do not do this unless you are driven to it by the greatest emergency.
Results to be expected from new Enlistment Act.
I have passed a new Limited Enlistment Act, and hope under it to send you some hundreds of strong, able-bodied men, instead of the boys of whom you not unreasonably reasonably complain. I presented general Vivian to the Queen yesterday. I suppose you know he is a son of the late Lord Vivian.
The post waits, so I must conclude.
Death of the Czar Nicholas I.
PS. — We have this moment learnt by telegraph the death of the Emperor of Russia. This will paralyse all the efforts of his people, and make some change of mighty magnitude in the complexion of affairs. I do not, however, feel justified in pointing to any relaxation of vigour in the conduct of the war.
BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, March 3, 1855
In your private letter of the 12th February you express a desire to be informed without loss of time of
- My opinion upon the expediency of an assault
- The arrangements which would be necessary should it succeed.
- My calculation of what might happen on its failure; and
- If it should be necessary to withdraw, whether I have, in consultation with General Canrobert, thought of any plan for so doing.
Replying to Lord Panmure’s inquiries as to measures preliminary to an assault.
The possibility of success in an assault is not yet ripe for discussion. Actual operations against the place are at a stand. Very powerful batteries, consisting of not less than 300 guns, are, however, in a forward state of construction and equipment for opening on the enemy’s lines, with ammunition for four or five days’ and nights’ firing, and it is hoped that the effect may be such as to justify an assault, either general for the reduction of the South Side, or partial so as to obtain influential lodgments on the works. This operation, however, will, I fear, be disturbed by the advanced post taken up by the Russians on the night of the 22nd February, and from which the French were repulsed during the following night, and by a work further in advance which the enemy are busily engaged in establishing opposite the batteries of our Allies. 3 It may be necessary to dislodge the Russians from these points by more cautious means before an assault can be made on Sebastopol.
Steps to be taken in case of an assault succeeding.
As regards No. 2, success in such an assault, or a succession of assaults, is not to be attained without considerable loss, but still to guard the left side of the harbour as a defensive measure would require fewer men than are now occupied with the siege. The first step would be to destroy the men-of-war in the harbour, if not effected by the enemy themselves, to dismantle our batteries, fill in the trenches, and arrange our battering trains for future operations or embarkation. When these services should have been accomplished, more offensive operations might be undertaken, but it would be premature to operate upon them at present.
Probable points of assault.
3. With respect to this point, the assault would probably be made on these points:—
- On the town by the Bastion du Mât.
- On the Redan and Barracks batteries.
- On the side of the Malakoff Tower.
If the first and third, or either one of them succeeded, the advantage might be maintained, and would facilitate the progress of further proceedings against what remained of the enemy. In case of absolute failure, the troops would have to resume their positions, and it is to be hoped with sufficient power to retain the batteries and trenches and await further means.
Impossibility of retreat.
4. No thought of withdrawing has as yet been entertained. If the inquiry is intended to be confined to withdrawal from the trenches, the process would be to remove all the guns and ammunition and to retire to the best defensive positions very near to where the trenches are at present, in order to prevent an advance of heavy guns that would bring the camp under fire. If a total withdrawal of the armies from the country id meant by the question, the operation is impossible; we have no retreat, and I have never thought it advisable to introduce into conversation with General Canrobert the possibility of such a state of things. Neither Government has at hand shipping to convey away the British and French Army and the Turks, nor could such an embarkation be effected with a powerful enemy close at hand.
Road from Kadikoi to the ‘Col.’
The railway is progressing rapidly, and every assistance I could give Mr. Beatty 4 has been afforded him. He has not yet made his survey beyond the ‘Col,’ as the top of the hill is termed by the French. He will do so to-morrow. The French have continued our road from Kadikoi to the point above named nearly. It is practicable, but it is very rough and painful to the tread of the horses.
There has always been an officer of the Quartermaster-General’s department at Balaclava. For a very considerable time there have been two, and these are not to be surpassed in efficiency by any officers in the Army. Their names are Major Mackenzie and Captain Ross.
Lieut.-Colonel Hardinge, late Aide-de-camp to General Pennefather, is the Commandant, and capitally does he do his duty.
The Naval arrangements are under Admiral Boxer.
I send you a copy of the answer I gave to General Canrobert’s letter of the 26th, which I sent you on the 29th, and I hope, if we can get the Croatians to work, that we shall be ready to open at the time mentioned. The Croatians are strong enough to carry shot and shell; but they are new to us and our system of work, and require to be humoured and protected from the cupidity and roguery of their chiefs, and I will take care that they are well treated.
General Jones is preparing a report upon the trenches with a plan, which I hope to have ready to send you by Monday. It will be an interesting document.
Recall of Burgoyne.
I have informed Sir John Burgoyne of the instructions I have received to send him home, but I hope you will not disapprove of my having requested him to remain a little while. 5 His assistance at this particular crisis may be of great value to me, and in the meanwhile General Jones, who is an excellent officer, is making himself thoroughly acquainted with the ground and his various duties. I at once put him in orders when he arrived as Commanding Royal Engineer.
As the season of the fogs in the Black Sea is approaching, we must take care to keep an abundance of supplies here. I must, however, say that I have always been desirous of keeping the tiny harbour of Balaclava clear. Now, alas, what with transports, railway ships, and private supply vessels, it is far fuller than is desirable. But Sir Edmund Lyons has his attention fixed upon it.
Colonel M’Murdo 6 has been here and has just started on his return to Constantinople. I am much pleased with him.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, March 5, 1855.
Hospitals for sick and wounded soldiers.
The Queen is very anxious to bring before Lord Panmure the subjects which she mentioned to him the other night, viz. that of hospitals for our sick and wounded soldiers. This is absolutely necessary, and now is the moment to have them built, for no doubt there would be no difficulty in obtaining the money requisite for this purpose, from the strong feeling now existing in the public mind for improvements of all kinds connected with the Army and the well-being and comfort of the soldiers.
Nothing can exceed the attention paid to these poor men in the Barracks at Chatham (or, rather more, Fort Pitt and Brompton), and they are in that respect very comfortable; but the buildings are bad — the wards more like prisons than hospitals, with the windows so high that no one can look out of them, and the generality of the wards are small rooms, with hardly space for you to walk between the beds; there is no dining-room or hall, so that the poor men must have their dinners in the same room in which they sleep, and in which some may be dying, and at any rate many suffering, while others are eating their meals.
The proposition of having hulks prepared for their reception will do very well at first, but it would not, the Queen thinks, do for any length of time. A hulk is a very gloomy place, and these poor men require their spirits to be cheered as much as their physical sufferings to be attended to.
The Queen’s solicitude for her soldiers.
The Queen is particularly anxious on this subject, which is — she may truly say — constantly in her thoughts, as is everything connected with her beloved troops, who have fought so bravely and borne so heroically all their sufferings and privations.
The Queen hopes before long to visit also the hospitals at Portsmouth, and to see in what state they are.
When will the medals be: ready for distribution?
March 5, 1855.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duly to Your Majesty, and in acknowledging Your Majesty’s note of this morning, he feels assured that Your Majesty’s troops will fully appreciate the solicitude for the due care of the sick and wounded which Your Majesty has so constantly evinced.
As to proposed general hospitals for the Army.
Lord Panmure concurs in the views which have been so well stated by Your Majesty as to the necessity of one or more general hospital for the Army, and will desire an immediate survey to be made for a proper site or sites, which shall combine all considerations for the health of the patients and the facility of access to invalids.
Lord Panmure has the honour to acquaint Your Majesty, in reference to the Crimean medal, that he expects to be able to submit the proof impression to Your Majesty by the 14th inst, and after that no delay shall be allowed to occur in getting them struck off.
WAR DEPARTMENT, March 5, 1855.
Caution against building hopes upon the death of the Czar.
Something has come over the messenger, as we have no tidings of him from Marseilles. The tidings of the Emperor’s death has surprised us all, and must be a heavy of blow and great discouragement to the Russian Army. You must not build upon it, however, as a means of shortening the War. On the contrary, we must carry on our operations with vigour, and leave nothing undone to capture Sebastopol. In confidence I may tell you that I think the Emperor’s intention of going to the Crimea is somewhat relaxed, but you must not appear to the French to know of anything touching this project.
I send you officially a copy of the convention with Turkey, but I fear it will be some time ere the force will be available in the field. I hope your rails are finished by this time, or in a fair way of being so.
Lord Lucan made a demonstration (not in force) in the Lords on Friday. I have sent him a copy of your despatch of the 16th Dec. 7 for his consolation. He has asked for a Court-Martial, which has been properly refused.
The Queen, having seen the wounded of the Guards, went to Chatham to see those of the line, and the poor fellows are much cheered by it.
Pray send me home as soon as you can a nominal list of all men out with you who will have the medal, and mention also those entitled to clasps. I expect to have the medals ready by April.
Reorganisation of light cavalry regiments.
Lord Vivian is to raise the question as to the mode of reorganising the Light Cavalry Regiments. He proposes to send out new regiments instead of sending out men to the old. I believe both Lucan and Cardigan are of a different opinion from Vivian.
March 7, 1855.
A ‘change of dynasty’ urged
Pray do not forget to send Dr. Smith 8 the most approved model of a letter of resignation. As a change of dynasty has begun abroad, we ought to follow suit at home, though it has not been foretold by my correspondent, Dr. Granville.
March 8, 1855.
The Queen pleased at Omar Pasha’s success.
The Queen was very much interested with these despatches, and pleased with the decided success of Omar Pasha. 9 She wishes also, of these despatches and letters, only such portions copied for her use as are not to be printed and published.
Account of clothing, etc., distributed to troops to be published.
She hopes, at the same time, that the despatches detailing the messages before Eupatoria will be published to the world, as well as the account of clothing, material, etc., etc., distributed to the troops by Lord Raglan, which he reports in the previous mail. This will restore confidence in the Army administration.
WAR DEPARTMENT, March 9, 1855.
I have received your letters within twenty-four hours of each other, and with very little time left to answer them.
You will see that I have published all those which give an account of the Eupatoria affair, and likewise the returns of articles furnished to the troops.
As to position of Omar Pasha’s army.
In reference to Eupatoria, I must remark that I entirely concur in your views with regard to the position of Omar Pasha’s army. I am astonished at General Canrobert’s desire to move it.
Can anything be more clear as to the Russian opinion of its position than the early attempt which has been made to force that position and dislodge its occupants, and in the face of this it seems to me to be little short of playing the enemy’s game to abandon it? You must be resolute in resisting General C., and as you have the only means of transport in your hands, you can carry your point.
The Crescent has shone brightly in this affair, and it will tell well morally on the Turkish Army by implanting in the minds of the allied troops a greater respect for their prowess. It will dishearten the enemy, for, if he can’t beat the Turks, a fortiori he must quail before England and France.
Enjoins attention to requirements of our troops.
We must keep our eyes before us in regard to the requirements of our troops. I hope you have turned your attention to a supply of water and arranged how you can command it as summer advances.
I have noticed in my public despatch Colin Campbell’s conduct. 10 I am proud of my countryman. If the French had only moved, we should have had a haul, and turned the tide of popular clamour.
Conduct of Lord Lucan.
You will see that Lord Lucan has arrived and commenced the war in the House of Lords. I wished to keep the peace, but he gave me no power to do so. You will scarcely believe that he called on me at a quarter to four, and said he came to present himself and answer any questions. This was said too significantly to escape my perception of what he meant, and I abstained from asking him one single question. He left me at a quarter to five. I was in the House of Lords and found Lord Lucan on his legs reading to the House his letter to you. My surprise was great, and I consulted my colleagues, when we determined to send him a copy of your despatch to the Duke of Newcastle, as it was clear he was ignorant of it. This occurred on Friday. By Monday lie had the despatch. Meanwhile he had demanded and been refused a Court-Martial.
The reading his own letter rather gave a turn to the case favourable to him, and, had he been a wise man, he would have reposed on his grievances, and no great harm would have resulted to you or the Government. His temper did not permit him to do this, so on Tuesday he read to the House your despatch, and I had it laid, together with his letter, before both Houses. The effect has been completely to floor Lucan in public opinion, and even the Times confesses that your victory over him is complete. The second demand for a Court-Martial is not yet answered, but I shall give my voice against it.
Supposing it granted, where would it be held? Not here. In the Crimea? It would be a scandal to the Army, and must be avoided if possible. He is to talk again to-day, but I believe not of himself. We have so far succeeded in preventing him and Cardigan from coming into collision.
I wish you would send me immediately a nominal list of all those whom you would recommend for the Bath on the scheme proposed by you to the Duke of Newcastle, making actual presence in the field and good and gallant conduct therein the basis of your recommendation. Lucan will be a difficulty, I fear.
We cannot carry the C.B. below officers commanding corps, consequently none but mounted officers of the Guards can be included, and not more Staff than absolutely necessary. I ask for this list as I must gazette it to bring the whole within the Statutes of the Order.
As to distinctions to be awarded to officers.
Your letters will mention the officers as having distinguished themselves in the field, and that you recommend them for H.M.’s favourable consideration in any reward which may be given for such services.
There is an ugly report come here of General Forey having been detected in treasonable communication with the enemy. I presume it is false, as you say nothing of it in your private letter, and it is said to have occurred on the 23rd of February.
I must close now as the post waits.
As to the French Emperor’s going to the Crimea.
I reopen my letter to add that Lord Clarendon made some impression on the Emperor the other day when he saw him at Boulogne, and it is not so clear that he will go the Crimea, though we have no reason to suppose that he has entirely abandoned his intention.
General de la Marmora is gone, and we have arranged to send for his corps by the 7th of April, and hope he will be with you by the 21st or 22nd with the greater portion of his contingent.
We are also to carry 10,000 é lite troops for the French from Marseilles. I hear that the ice has carried away the barrier at Kertch. Could not you and Lyons make a coup there, and so get possession of the Sea of Azof?
I throw it out as a hint for your own consideration.
BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, March 10, 1855.
I enclose the report of General Jones on the trenches, and the plan of the siege-works to which I adverted in my letters of the 3rd and 10th instant. You will find them very interesting. I received Lord John Russell’s telegraphic despatch of the 2nd instant from Bosnia on the evening of the 6th instant, before the conference 11 alluded to in my secret despatch of this date had broken up. You may imagine the sensation the perusal of it occasioned.
I sent Lord Burghersh in with a flag of truce on the following day, for the purpose of conveying a letter and some clothes to an English prisoner. Me casually remarked to an officer who spoke French that the news of the Emperor’s death had been received. The officer said that the report was without foundation, and nothing more passed.
How the Russians took the news of the Czar’s death.
Deserters say that the two Grand Dukes have gone away and that Prince Mentschikoff has received a contusion. They had not heard of the death of the Emperor, when they, the deserters, left the town, and I conclude the secret has been kept as long as possible.
This is the birthday of the Grand Duc Héréditaire, now, in the common course of succession, the Emperor; but there are no manifestations of the day in Sebastopol. Mr. Cattley, however, says that birthdays are not much kept in Russia. The fete of the Patron Saint is what is most celebrated.
I enclose Mr. Cattley’s report in continuation of that in which he mentioned the arrival of two Polish officers as Deputies. It contains a good deal of important information, and shows that the enemy’s force, either here or in the neighbourhood, and that expected, are very great.
March 10, 1855.
Proposal to attach a military officer to Embassy at Constantinople.
Stratford proposes, and Palmerston and I concur, if you see no objection, that a military officer should be attached to the Embassy at Constantinople. He would look after all the requisitions both of Lord Raglan and General Vivian, and would become the organ of communication between the Embassy and the Teraskierat upon all military matters, and Lord S. thinks that his own efficiency would thus be much increased.
The rank of such an officer should be at least that of a Colonel, and he should be a man of good temper and firm purpose, the first being required for his Chief, and the second for the Turks. Do you approve, and have you got such a man? 12
Let me suggest to you that Major-General Vivian should have the local rank of Lieutenant-General.
March 16, 1855.
Improvement in Lord Raglan’s despatches.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to acquaint Your Majesty that despatches of a highly interesting character have arrived from Lord Raglan, copies of which are forwarded for Your Majesty’s use.
Lord Raglan seems to be much hurt by the plain expressions in Lord Panmure’s despatch of the 12th February, and writes somewhat strongly in reply.
Your Majesty will observe that there is an intermediate mail missing, which will not arrive till to-morrow morning. The communication until that time will be incomplete. Lord Panmure will lose no time in sending Your Majesty copies of the other despatches when they arrive.
Your Majesty will no doubt observe that the tone of Lord Raglan’s private letter is perfectly friendly, and that the letter contains far more real intelligence than any which have yet been received, which it has been Lord Panmure’s duty to submit for Your Majesty’s perusal.
Private and Confidential.
23 BELGRAVE SQUARE, March 16, 1855.
As to Lord Raglan’s despatches.
I have this moment received your despatches by the messenger who left the camp on the 3rd; the preceding one, having gone astray from some accident, will not be here till to-morrow. I will attempt, therefore, no public reply to your despatches of the 2nd, at all events till Monday. You may well believe how harassing to me, and how utterly foreign to my feelings, such a correspondence is, but I cannot conceal from you that, had the Government had from yourself one such despatch bag as that which you have now sent me, they would have had more heart, as well as better ground, for maintaining the position of yourself and officers. You know the public of this country as well as I do. They look always for more than can be accomplished, but they are generous in the end, and when reasons are given, or appeals made to them, they are indulgent. Let me point out to you wherein I conceive the whole difficulties of your case to lie. You must have long perceived that, not only were you surrounded by a vigilant and inquisitive and not very friendly press, but a vast number of your own officers have been in the habit of openly criticising all that occurs in your camp in letters to their friends, which we hear daily quoted and hear daily read in Parliament. Your actions, nay your motives, have been attacked in the public prints, and your policy has been to despise those attacks, instead of giving to those who would have been too ready to use them in your defence the means of exhibiting their falsity or their perversion of facts. I must say for the Duke of Newcastle that he was left by your own unhappy reserve, or by your contempt of those whom you considered your slanderers, without a word to say against the well-concocted and highly-spiced accusations which were levelled at you. If he denied them, it was on no responsible authority; if he was silent, he increased the reproaches of both parties in the controversy.
Remonstrance on the scantiness of the same.
I had no desire to embark in this complicated and most unpleasant controversy to which I foresaw that the despatch of the 6th January 13 must lead. I was induced to succeed Newcastle in hope of being able to do some good. Not I alone but every member of the Government was assailed with loud complaints against you and your Staff. The stormy public feeling was in its fury, and my difficulty was to guide it — to control it was beyond my power. I searched the records of the office for explanations to enable me to meet the attacks for the absence of a road between your camp and Balaclava, and I could find none. I tried if I could discover in your despatches any mention of your visits to camp, which were denied, though you may not know it, from very many quarters of it. I could find no mention of them. One such report as you have sent me from Dr. Hall 14 would have allayed anxiety as to the sick, but it was not to be found.
The writer justifies his own conduct.
In justice to myself in undertaking my duties, nay in justice to you, I resolved to embody the state of my feelings in a public despatch, and painful as was the process, it was done without any personal feeling against you, in order to elicit from you those explanations without which I could not carry on my duties. I was quite aware that your indignation might be aroused, and I was prepared to receive in the replies to my two despatches strong expressions of that indignation. I quarrel not with them, and will endeavour in my despatch on Monday to meet you calmly and to convince you that, whatever faults may be laid to the charge of your administration, your character, honour, and fidelity to your Queen and Country are as pure and unsullied as the driven snow. I have known you too long and too well to feel shaken in my fullest confidence in any one of these requisites for a soldier.
The Sardinian Contingent.
I have learnt with some surprise that you were not fully advised as to the Sardinian Contingent. I have desired a copy of the convention under which it is raised and taken into our pay to be sent to you by this mail, and a full explanation of the whole conditions of the force, its organisation, means of movement and supply, about which neither you nor Mr. Filder need be under any alarm. It is reported to consist of the flower of the Sardinian Army, and will, I hope, prove a great addition to your force.
It will be necessary, however, for Mr. Filder to look well abroad for his supplies, as there will be another army of 15,000 men foraging in the same districts with him. I am sorry to inform you that matters yesterday appear to have taken a very unpleasant turn before the Committee. Lord Lucan has given such evidence before it as you might expect to proceed from an ill-tempered and a disappointed man.
The Committee of inquiry.
I mean to apply to the Committee for an authenticated copy of all the evidence to send to you, that, in those instances at least which affect yourself and the Army, you may be able, if you think proper, to give through me such answers as you deem right.
On Monday I am to have a field-day with Lord Lucan on the refusal of a Court-Martial. He has not the slightest case. The Duke of Cambridge and Cardigan will, I believe, and sincerely hope, absent themselves from the debate.
I am sorry to trouble you with so long a letter, but I must still thank you for your long and interesting private letter of the 3rd, which I cannot notice further by this mail.
BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, March 17, 1855.
I received on the morning of the 14th your private letter of the 2nd, in the postscript of which you announce the receipt of the news by telegraph of the death of the Emperor Nicholas. I am anxious to learn the impression this important event has created in England. For this we must have patience.
The weather is very cold to-day, as it was yesterday evening, but the troops continue to improve in health, and the sun of the last few days has been very beneficial to them.
Statements of a Russian deserter.
A deserter is just come in who is now under examination. There is not time for Mr. Cattley to prepare his report for to-day’s mail, but he has sent me word that the man reports that he is one of 8000 who entered the Crimea two months ago: that of these 8000, 2800 died on the road, the greater portion being frozen to death, 1700 were sent back to re-form, and the remainder only reached Sebastopol. The man represents that there is much dissatisfaction in the camp, the soldiers are badly fed, and the old ones complain that those who are sent to them as reinforcements are mere boys and not equal to the duty assigned to them. There would seem also to be a good deal of discussion amongst them as to the consequences to follow Nicholas’ death, and the question is agitated whether Constantine will succeed to the Kingdom of Poland.
The cavalry, he says, is again moving to the southward, that is, to this vicinity. If this be true, it will only add to their difficulties, for there can be no forage for them.
Raglan’s view of the contemplated visit of Napoleon III to the seat of war.
I conclude that the death of the Emperor of Russia will have put an end to the contemplated visit of the Emperor of the French to the Crimea. His presence here would be a great gêne, though personally I should have no difficulty in communicating with him. I feel about him much as you do. I am vexed not to have any more detailed information about the Sardinian Contingent. You evidently think I have received it. I conclude the Duke of Newcastle, in the hurry of the moment, forgot to announce the arrangements determined upon to me. We are quite satisfied with Mr. Beattie, who will send away his railway ships as soon as he has cleared them. They are chartered for three months.
British troops require rest.
You are quite right. What our troops want and have long required is rest. Bulgaria weakened them very much, and there, mind you, they did nothing. Those in advance, I brought down to Varna without their knapsacks, which I carried for them, knowing that they were not strong enough to bear them on their backs, and they marched as lightly as they could when they landed here; whilst the French, who suffered to the extent of many thousands on the expedition to the Dobrudja, were made to carry five or six days’ provisions from Old Fort Bay to Balaclava. One of the reasons given me at Alma for their not advancing further was that they were obliged to leave their knapsacks near the river, where I saw many of them, and had to go back for them.
We have made every necessary inquiry about water, and the engineer’s report was drawn when I got your letter, I believe the supply will be sufficient. The sea is too distant from our present operations to be made use of for bathing, and, moreover, the weather too uncertain.
Is it true that Walewski 15 says that the French have lost 52,000 men in the campaign in the Crimea?
OSBORNE, March 17, 1855.
Fuller despatches from Lord Raglan.
The Queen thanks Lord Panmure for his letter and very interesting despatches which he sent her from Lord Raglan. They are much fuller than any yet received, and full of interest.
The report of the improvement in the men’s health and comforts is very satisfactory. The Queen thinks that it would be a good thing if the enclosure from Dr. Hall were published; it would be satisfactory to the public, and would tend to dispel a great many false and exaggerated reports.
It is natural that Lord Raglan should be pained and hurt at all that has been said and written. . . .
The impossibility which Lord Raglan states of retreating by embarkation, 16 though the Queen will not for a moment believe in the possibility of such an eventuality, is nevertheless very uncomfortable.
OSBORNE, March 18, 1855.
The Queen has to acknowledge the receipt of Lord Panmure’s letter of yesterday, enclosing the contents of the missing mail. She feels sure that Lord Panmure’s remonstrances 17 will have done good, as she is glad to perceive Lord Raglan shows no symptoms of throwing up his command.
Probable necessity of investing Sebastopol.
It becomes more and more probable, however, that Sebastopol will not be taken unless it be invested, and that this will not be possible unless the enemy be beaten in the field, and we become possessed of the roads leading to both sides of the town. To concentrate the English force will be an indispensable preliminary to such success — the affair of the 24th 18 having shown again that the French Line don’t possess that moral superiority over the Russians which our troops have established for themselves. What is the amount of Reserves already arrived at Malta? Where has Lord Panmure found the new vein 19 for the Foreign Legion?
As to relief of Kars.
The Queen encloses a despatch from Colonel Williams, 20 not knowing whether he has seen it, and asks him to send it back to the Foreign Office when he has done with it. She is anxious to know what can be done to relieve the Kars army, and make it fit to take the field.
WAR DEPARTMENT, March 19, 1855.
As to the truce of one hour’s duration.
I have to acknowledge your letter of the 3rd inst. enclosing; Mr. Cattley’s report, and also your letter of the 1st inst. with two enclosures on the truce granted for an hour to General Osten-Sacken. I fear that General Canrobert has been overreached by his clever enemy, and that he will yet have occasion to rue the hour so foolishly acceded.
WAR DEPARTMENT, March 19, 1855
On a repulse sustained by the French.
I have to acknowledge your private letter of the 27th Febrauary and to revert more fully than I could do on Friday to that of the 3rd inst. I am afraid that our Allies have had what is vulgarly called a ‘licking.’ 21 The Zouaves appear to have behaved well, but not to have been properly supported by their reserves of Marine Infantry. I suspect, from this proof of capacity on the part of the Russians, that more frequent change of garrison occurs than we suppose, for it does not look like the act of men worn down by fatigue and privation so suddenly to throw up new works and so resolutely to defend them. I trust your 32-pounders will effect what the French attempted and failed in. I am very sorry for General Monet, for by all accounts he is a fine fellow. Rose gives a good account of the coolness of the Zouaves. I suspect with you that the armistice was a sly ruse de guerre. I have no doubt of your doing everything to encourage as well as accommodate our ally, though I must say that he has not been over-considerate in that respect towards you.
Let me now advert to yours of the 3rd inst, and thank you for your detailed answer to my four points, which is as full as I could expect and extremely interesting. Powerful batteries of 300 guns must have a tremendous effect whenever their fire opens, especially if that fire be continuous and concentrated for four or five days. We wait patiently for the result, feeling secure that every day’s delay will add to your ability to give effect to the result of your iron storm. Whenever the place is assaulted, I fear we must look for harassing scenes, but you will, of course, have provided as far as yon can for your wounded.
‘Vestigia nulla retrorsum.’
I was quite prepared for your reply to my fourth question. ‘Vestigia nulla retrorsum,’ a worthy motto for a British Army, but a questionable position for any army to be put in. I feel no uneasiness at it, as I do not believe that we can fail eventually in our object.
I received last night from Lord John Russell a copy of a despatch which has been sent you from Vienna. I do not believe that the Emperor is so hot on a Crimean expedition as he was, but I will not say that he has abandoned it. If he does come, it will not be to lead an assault on Sebastopol, but to organise and lead an army in the field, which shall drive the Russians from the Crimea and enable the Allies to cut off all supplies from either side of Sebastopol. In this scheme of operations the Sardinian Contingent will be of good service.
Ere this you will no doubt have conferred with Sir E. Lyons 22 on the possession of the Sea of Azof. I do not see what can be done to Kertch unless we send a land expedition to co-operate with the Navy, but such a move would be of very great importance, and if we once had the command of the Sea of Azof we should cripple the enemy terribly.
Supply and sanitation of the Army in the field.
I am glad to hear such good accounts of the railway, and hope soon to hear that it has enabled you to take up sufficient material for your batteries. You say nothing of forage, and I sincerely trust it has arrived. Pray make no hesitation of reporting every omission of attention to supplies of any kind from this country. I know that you have always had the Q.M.G.’s office at Balaclava itself, but what I pointed at was a station or stations at intervals on the road to look to it, but that is past now, and I hope we shall hear nothing more of it.
You seem to give a hopeful account of the Croatians, and I trust that you will find a large number of them to aid our sanitary people in their arduous duties. I entirely approve of your doing what you think right with Sir John Burgoyne. My impression was that with Jones you would not require him.
You alarm me by mentioning ‘the season of fogs.’ I hope those wily Russians will try no surprises, and I fear such another will harass our men by keeping them always on the alert.
I am glad you like Col. M’Murdo, and I think you will like Napier as well.
Lord Cardigan and the Duke of Cambridge.
Lord Lucan discusses his case to-night in the Lords. The Duke of Cambridge and Lord Cardigan have, with great good taste I think, resolved to be absent, leaving it to me to deal with the matter.
I may tell you in confidence that you will not see the Duke in the Crimea again, as I have advised him not to return. What effect this may have on you I know not, but I trust it may not disarrange any of your plans. I shall likewise endeavour to persuade Cardigan that his health is insufficiently reinstated, for his temperament is not such as to make him looked up to as a C.O. should be. All this, however, I communicate in the strictest confidence.
The triple states came all right.
BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, March 20, 1855.
Your letter of the 5th reached me last night.
We have heard nothing from the Continent since Lord John Russell’s telegraphic message of the 2nd from Berlin, announcing the Emperor’s death, reached me this day fortnight.
Louis Napoleon’s proposed visit to the Crimea.
I earnestly hope that the Emperor Louis Napoleon will not come here. It would be a false move under any circumstances. I am certain that his proper place is Paris.
I have received your official communication of the Convention with Turkey. 23 I have to write to you officially upon it, and hoped to have been able to do so to-day, but I am obliged to defer my observations until the next mail.
I have obtained Omar Pasha’s opinion.
Advantage of not changing cavalry regiments.
The advantage of not changing the regiments of cavalry is this, that you have the officers and twelve hundred men who have some experience of war and of the way of taking care of horses out of a barrack yard. If you replace them by new regiments, the whole will be as green as grass, and the condition of neither horses nor men will be as good as we may expect it to be with the older soldiers. An Englishman does not accustom himself to discomfort in a minute.
It was a very gracious act on the part of the Queen to visit the wounded at Chatham.
I send you Mr. Cattley’s budget, which is rather fuller than usual.
The revolt at Nicholaieff is, I fear, too good to be true.
The death of Prince Mentschikoff 24 was considered by Admiral Bruat to be so positive yesterday that he sent off a vessel with the news to Constantinople. I have it not from any source I can consider authentic.
The recent reports received by Mr. Cattley would lead to the supposition that reinforcements are marching this way. He appears to be under the impression that there is discontent in the Russian camp.
The medal lists for Alma and Inkerman have been sent in. Those for Balaclava will be forwarded without delay.
Death of Admiral Istomine.
Since writing the above, another deserter has come in. He also asserts the death of Mentschikoff, and he states, moreover, that Admiral Istomine 25 was killed yesterday.
G. C., March 20, 1855.
You do not tell me what instructions you wish sent to Bruce 26 with respect to procuring what may be necessary for the 12th Lancers when they arrive, and any more things for the 10th Hussars that may be required, and how he is to be reimbursed. Would you like me to send you Bruce’s letter officially?
Refers to letter of the Consul-General in Egypt dealing with destitution of the 10th Hussars.
I cannot help thinking that the Commander-in-Chief here or in India is much more to blame than the Dandies — the incomplete state of the regiment for service, and its destitution of all necessaries, must or ought to have been perfectly well known, and the want of due provision is too bad in my humble, civilian judgment.
I have communicated with Prince Czartorinski about the Polish prisoners. He wishes very much that those here should be incorporated in the French Foreign Legion, and that those at Constantinople, together with any deserters, should be allowed to join the Cosaques. I will arrange with the Admiralty about the former batch, and I shall be much obliged if by the next mail you will give the necessary orders respecting the latter. Count Zamoyski 27 is the person at Constantinople charged with the organisation of the Cosaques, and our officer might communicate with him. Prince C. reminds me of what I know to be a fact, viz. that the D. of N. 28 said he would give 5000 carbines to this corps, and some other equipments.
F. O., March 23, 1855.
The Earl of Clarendon presents his compliments to Lord Panmure, and has the honour to forward to him the accompanying copy of a letter from Mr. Frederick Bruce, Her Majesty’s Agent and Consul-General in Egypt, with reference to the means of transport, etc., required by the 10th Hussars.
CAIRO, March 7, 1855.
Referring to the journey of the 10th Hussars from Cairo to the seat of war.
Since I wrote the despatch which goes by this mail, Major Mitford has arrived from Malta to make arrangements for the march of the regiment from Cairo, and its embarkation. I have not yet seen him, but I am told that no time is yet fixed for the latter operation. I hope, therefore, that the horses will be in good condition before the order arrives for them to march.
I have done all in my power, and offered to take upon myself any pecuniary responsibility, in order to induce the Colonel to have the regiment properly equipped before it embarks. For instance, I found that the men have no sufficient blankets, as it seems the bedding was sold before they left Bombay, and they are indebted to the charity of the ladies of that place for a very insufficient covering they have brought with them. Now, not to speak of the Crimea, the march from Cairo to Alexandria cannot be undertaken without great risk to the health of the men if insufficiently protected at night. I have therefore bought up, out of my own funds, about 500 of the country blankets, which are more durable and fitted for service than the English ones, and I will increase the number should the Colonel wish it. He is quite aware of the necessity of these things, but there seems no power vested in any one, sufficient to meet contingencies. Everything must in the first instance be referred home.
The Consul recommends the acquisition of baggage animals by the regiment.
Another point I have urged on him most strongly is the propriety of buying here baggage animals, should the regiment be ordered direct to the theatre of war, and should there be room enough to put them, with the regiments, on board the transports. At this moment they have no means of carrying with them even what is required for the shelter of the men, and to enable them to prepare their food. I can quite understand that those who are in charge of the Commissariat department in the Crimea may be expected to find food, and the means of conveying it to the camp; but it does seem strange and unreasonable to expect that any department should be expected to furnish means of transport for the tents and camp-kettles of a regiment, which are as necessary to it as its arms. Hardy little horses are to be bought very cheap here, and I dare say one might pick up mules. There would also be no difficulty in providing a sufficient quantity of barley and straw, and putting it on board the transports, for the consumption of the animals in the Crimea for some time. Chopped straw is the food always given to horses here.
Improvidence of said regiment.
Certainly the 10th is a splendid regiment in point both of men and of horses, and after the expense that has been incurred in bringing it from India, it would be lamentable to see it reduced to a state of inefficiency from the want of a timely expenditure of £600 or £800 more. But from the officers downwards, I, as a civilian, am struck with their utter helplessness, and with the difficulty of inducing them to take any precautions against the inevitable hardships and privations of a campaign. Actually the first detachment came away without camp-kettles, and though, by taking out those supplied to the transports for their use during the voyage, they have remedied it partially, still I believe their number is incomplete. It seems difficult to impress on them sufficiently that, as far as possible, when they embark at Alexandria they ought to be provided with everything necessary for their efficiency, and to enable them to move, and ought not to trust to what they may find on disembarking. That seems to me the principle on which a Colonel proceeding to join an army in the field ought to act, and to relieve him from the pecuniary responsibility which seems to paralyse the energies of these old routine officers, I have offered to provide the funds on a single statement from him of what he requires. I feel sure no greater service could be rendered to the army of the East than to diminish the drain on the means of transport to be found on the spot.
Evils of reinforcing the Army by regiments and not by divisions, and how this evil may be remedied.
I am induced to offer these observations because the 12th Lancers is on its way here, and in all probability will arrive, like the 10th, incomplete in several of these points. I should like to have authority to supply what is required, for what I have seen of the regiments leads me to the conclusion that it is only by supplying the regiments on embarkation with the means of locomotion, etc., that the evils and confusion can be avoided which are the necessary consequence of reinforcing the army by individual regiments, and not by Divisions, as is the habit of the French and other Continental nations.
OSBORNE, March 22, 1855.
The Queen desires to present medals to her troops personally.
The other day when the Queen spoke to Lord Panmure on the subject of the distribution of the medals for the Crimean campaign amongst the officers and men who are in this country, no decision was come to as to how this should be done. The Queen has since thought that the value of this medal would be greatly enhanced if she were personally to deliver it to the officers and to a certain number of men (selected for that purpose). The valour displayed by our troops, as well as the sufferings they have endured, have never been surpassed, perhaps hardly equalled, and as the Queen has been a witness of what they have gone through, having visited them in their hospitals, she would like to be able personally to give them the reward they have earned so well, and will value so much. It will likewise have a very beneficial effect, the Queen doubts not, on the recruiting. The manner in which it should be done, and the details connected with the execution of this intention of hers, the Queen will settle with Lord Panmure when she sees him in town.
Will the medals now be soon ready?
OSBORNE, March 23, 1855.
The Queen rejoices over improved health of her troops.
The Queen acknowledges Lord Panmure’s letter received this morning with the despatches. The Queen is glad to see that the weather and the health of the troops are so much better. Another mail has come in — she sees by to-day’s papers.
What is the amount of troops in depôt already at Malta?
We should wish to see Lord Panmure at Buckingham Palace at 3 to-morrow.
WAR DEPARTMENT, March 23, 1855.
Opinion as to necessity of investing Sebastopol.
I have not much news to give you from this, except That we are all beginning to believe that Sebastopol, instead of being weaker and more likely to fall, is getting stronger and more impregnable. Things seem to have taken a turn with the Army, and I hope, when the railway is completed and your ranks recruited, that something effectual may be accomplished either against the citadel or in the field. My own idea is that you will have yet to invest the place, and when you have got the whole of the French reinforcements, your own, and the Sardinians, that you will find yourself enabled to do so, and to make a combination with Omar Pasha which will prevent the enemy from throwing any more supplies or reinforcements into the fortress.
We have had our field-day with Lord Lucan, and he has done no harm, though he certainly dealt unscrupulously with your name and those of your Staff. I hope, however, you will not think it worth while to notice his attack, which made no impression, although, if you do, I am quite ready to be the channel through which you may appeal to the public.
You will have abundance of amateurs ere long in your camp, as I hear of many who are going to the Crimea, and among others you will, in all probability, receive a visit from the Duke of Newcastle. Our accounts from Vienna are in favour of peace, and that opinion seems to hold among the Greek houses in the city, as they are fast selling all Russian produce of which they are the holders.
Desire to see a blow inflicted before peace is made.
This only makes one anxious to see a blow inflicted on the enemy. I expect to hear tomorrow morning of the effect of the Emperor’s death on the enemy, as I see you sent in Lord Burghersh to communicate it.
You astonish me by your account of Canrobert’s ‘sick.’ How snug they keep all these things in France!
Roebuck’s Committee is doing no harm so far as the energies of the Army are concerned — indeed a reaction is commencing here, and it only requires an ‘affair’ to complete it. Your races and dog hunts don’t show a ‘broken spirit!’
I have written to you about ‘water.’ It is the only thing that I am uneasy about, and I wish you would tell me what you think of your supply.
BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, March 24, 1855.
Great night attack by the Russians.
The attack of the Russians upon our trenches and those of the left of the French Right on the night of Thursday and morning of Friday was very serious. 29 I do not know how it originated with the French, and I have received no authentic account of what happened to them; but my impression is that they were driven from their advanced position, though they afterwards recovered it. The rifle-pits were empty yesterday, and this morning they are reported to be reoccupied by the enemy.
The French loss was very serious. They admit three hundred. I should fear it was more. The Russians succeeded in getting on to our advanced position, and into several of our batteries, but they were quickly driven out again, and they have done them no injury. Our numbers were small, but they were not wanting in determination of spirit, and though some of the working-parties and Generals had to go back in the first instance, they speedily re-formed and ejected their assailants without delay. Major Gordon of the Engineers, a most valuable officer, is wounded in two places in the arm, but I found him yesterday cheerful and pretty well, and he reckons upon a speedy recovery. He was leading the troops forward when he was struck. Tylden of the Engineers distinguished himself very much also as Commander. Captain Brown 30 of the 7th, and Captain Vicars of the 97th, who both, I lament to say, fell, did likewise.
Insufficiency of British troops.
I am quite convinced that our right and left attacks require more troops for adequate defence than I can furnish; but I do not see how I can give more, without throwing upon our men more fatigue than I can possibly call upon them to undergo. We must do the best we can.
You will see from my next despatches that, in the question of Eupatoria, Omar Pasha sided with General Canrobert rather than with me; but the place is not to be abandoned. On the contrary, there will be from 12 to 15,000 men there.
I can see no reason why Lord Lucan’s application for a Court-Martial should not be resisted. He has no ground to insist upon it.
I will write to you upon the Bath as soon as I can, and state my views to you. My own conviction is that the Government at home can do such things better than I can.
General Forey is perfectly innocent of any treasonable correspondence with the enemy to the best of my belief. I understood that he was not pleased with the advent of General Pélissier, and had a mind to return to France, but he was persuaded to retain the command of his Division. How or why this vile report was spread I cannot imagine.
I am told it was stated in our camps by a Frenchman that he was to be shot.
I have seen him since the report was afloat. He, of course, did not allude to it. He was in good spirits. I have just received a letter from Lord J. Russell of the 12th.
Private and Confidential.
OFF SEBASTOPOL, March 24, 1855.
I think it possible that you may expect to hear from me now and then whilst I remain in these latitudes, and at all events I feel confident that you will accept my cordial congratulations on your being again at work, and my warmest wishes for perfect success and credit in the all-important office you are placed in.
Impossibility of entering Sebastopol harbour.
I was very glad to get up to the scene of action at this end of the Russian Empire, although I much fear there is little for the large ships to attempt — the enemy having from the first month decidedly declined and avoided risking any struggle on the ocean, and the sinking of two separate lines of ships, and placing two separate barriers (one a boom and the other a cable) across the harbour of Sebastopol, has made it undeniably impracticable for our ships to force their way in; nor indeed do I see what they could do, even were they able to overcome these obstructions, for, in addition to all the former strong fortresses and batteries, the Russians have thrown up earthworks, on which heavy ordnance are placed, in every possible position, most of which are situated so far in the rear and at such a height that a ship would be quite unable to reply to them. Sir E. Lyons’s heart has been set upon getting his small vessels into, and occupying, the Sea of Azof, so as to cut off the supplies which are poured into the Crimea from that side.
As to occupation of Kertch.
But to do this, and to ensure the safe return of the vessels of light draught of water, it seems indispensable to take and occupy Kertch, and when I say occupy Kertch, I mean only for a time sufficient to enable us to open and clear the passage, which (the works of Kertch being destroyed) we could afterwards keep open by our shipping. Indeed, Sir E. Lyons only asks to have the troops for twelve or fifteen days, by the end of which time they would be returned to the camp before Sebastopol. With this object in view, the Admirals have applied to the Generals to place at their disposal for a limited space of time ten or twelve thousand troops — with which I think the successful blockade of the whole Sea of Azof might certainly be effected; but without which it would, I fear, be neither safe nor satisfactory to attempt it. Admiral Bruat quite concurs with Sir E. Lyons as to the desirableness of the operation, but General Canrobert will not hear of giving a single regiment, and unless he agrees, Lord Raglan cannot possibly do it with his force, so very inferior in numbers to that of Canrobert.
Night sortie of March 22nd.
Sir E. Lyons and I rode up yesterday to Lord Raglan’s quarters. There had been a sharp affair the night before. About five thousand of the enemy attacked the whole of the advanced works of the Allies. The wind blew so strong from the southward that the supports did not hear a shot. The working-parties in front were nearly surprised, and several taken, including the Engineer officer (Montagu). They fell back upon their arms which were piled, and so soon as they got them and formed, they charged and drove the enemy out at the point of the bayonet with considerable loss. One officer assured me that they could count forty-nine dead bodies from one point and twenty-eight from another. (Our loss I believe to amount to about sixty, 31 1 killed, wounded, and missing, amongst the latter Colonel Kelly, 34th Regiment, and of the former Captain Cavendish Brown of the 7th Fusiliers, whose body was perforated with no less than five balls. The French loss is more considerable, but not in proportion to the numbers engaged. They state it to be about two hundred and fifty hors de combat. Here again our superiority to the Russian soldiers, when brought man to man, has been signally evinced. The prisoners say that two thousand attacked the English trenches, and they were repulsed by four hundred! Will you consider me ‘indiscreet’ if I tell you that, having now seen General Canrobert three times, and heard him speak on our position and prospects twice, I have conceived a very poor idea of his talents, and am of opinion that, whatever he may have been as a General of Division, he is now overweighted and crushed by the responsibility of having the Command-in-Chief. His extreme caution suggests timidity to one’s mind, and either he mistrusts himself or his troops. Whichever it may be, the consequences are likely to prove very embarrassing and mischievous, for I should apprehend the want of confidence becoming mutual. The French soldier is not the soldier of the Republic or of the former Empire, and the troops of the Line at present here have lowered themselves in the estimation of the Zouaves, and, sooner or later, must do so in that of their Allies, which will be very lamentable and detrimental to the expedition.
I declare to you that I never saw a man more decidedly cast down than Canrobert was yesterday. He happened to call on Lord Raglan whilst we were there. Only himself, Lord Raglan, Sir E. Lyons, and I were present. The dread of an attack seems to haunt him, and defence of our present position to be allowed to supersede all operations of offence or advance. They say the Emperor is coming here; if he does (which I very much doubt), I do not believe Canrobert’s tenure of the chief command would be worth many days’ purchase. With respect to Sebastopol being taken by bombardment and assault, I am by no means sanguine. The north side would remain potent and commanding, even were the south side in possession of the Allies. But the Russians have become so bold in their operations against the besiegers, and especially so upon the French attack, that it is now far more difficult and doubtful, and I can scarcely wonder if the troops, seeing the incessant increase and multiplication of the enemy’s defences, should begin to doubt the issue of bombardment and assault. Many people of excellent judgment are disposed to think that the Allies should take the field so soon as artillery horses and commissariat animals are in sufficient numbers to enable them to move, and that, with eighty thousand French and twenty thousand English united, and forty-five thousand Turks under Omar at Eupatoria, the Crimea might be traversed, the enemy licked to a certainty if he stood, and Sebastopol taken with ease afterwards. But I fear such a measure will never be consented to by Canrobert, and that he is not the man to execute it.
Difficulties of Lord Raglan’s position.
All this increases painfully the difficulties of Lord Raglan’s position, and the disproportion in numbers is so great as to make his influence and opinion to weigh less with the French than they ought to do.
I saw General Simpson yesterday also, and I like the cut of his jib much — fine old soldierly appearance, who gives you the idea of mild yet firm decision and good sense. I believe he will tell you that things are not nearly so bad as he expected. But indeed the improvement of the last six weeks in the health of man and beast is wonderful.
We have got a noble squadron here — six English screws and the Rodney. The French have three screws and four sailing-ships of the line, and I am confident that, if any possibility occurs for employing them, our present Chief, Sir E. Lyons, will not miss it.
J. C. Dalrymple Hay (Dunraggit) is captain of this ship; I dare say you recollect him, a fine boy, playing with Michael and Willy, and Mr. Makellar superintending their studies and their piscatory pursuits at Penninghame in the days of yore. . . .
And now, my dear old friend, fare thee well. If my yarn has bothered you, or if you think I ought not to write you on military matters, but stick to the tar-bucket, you have only to give me a hint and I shall observe it.
Rear-Admiral Istomine, second in command of ships at Sebastopol, but charged with command of the Mamelon Battery on shore, was killed by a shell a few days ago — a good officer, and well known to Sir. E. Lyons and others when at Athens.
PS. — I open my letter to say that the Himalaya has arrived — all the horses in great good health and condition except four, of which one died and three were shot on the passage. Three hundred and forty-eight horses and two hundred and thirty-five artillerymen will be landed all right.
G.C. March 26, 1855.
Employment of Sardinian Contingent.
I send you two letters from Hudson. One may serve as a reminder with respect to sending horses, etc., through France by the railway, but the other is very important, viz. where and how we are to employ the Sardinian Contingent. The idea of landing the troops at Eupatoria is utter nonsense. That place is already so full of human beings that a pestilence is to be feared. It is desirable that the whole force there should be under one command, and we could not put La Marmora under Omar Pasha. The sooner it is made clear that the Sardinians don’t belong to the French, and are not to be ordered about by them, the better. You will see by the enclosed extract from a letter of the Emperor’s to Walewski that, although he wished to have the Sardinians at Constantinople, as part of an army of reserve which would be a constant menace to the Russians (and the plan is not a bad one), yet, that if all our ships cannot remain there in waiting upon them, he would prefer their going to the Crimea.
Now, that will simplify matters for us, as we can do what is most convenient for ourselves in compliance with the Imperial wishes, and if we convey the Sardinians direct to Balaclava, and place La Marmora in connection with Raglan, their position and their quarters will at once be settled. But it is of great importance that, on landing, they should be well received and cared for, and you will probably think it right to give Raglan notice of the probable time of their arrival, and very special instructions as to their treatment.
BELGRAVE SQUARE, March 26, 1855.
Warning against counsels of our Allies.
I have sent you a long ‘secret and confidential’ despatch, embodying my views and fears of the tendency of the counsels of our beloved Allies. I have my suspicions of them, and I only hope you will not be induced to give way to them one inch more than you consider right. It is all very well to talk of the necessity of keeping a ‘good understanding’ with the French, but I have no notion of doing so to our own risk, and the good-nature with which you have already borne the rough work seems only to make them more presuming. I admire Burgoyne’s honest report, and smile at Canrobert’s prudent refusal to adopt his views. If you had been there, I feel as sure as I write it that no general of yours would have allowed the Russians to have erected the advance work, and, had they done so, they would have considered themselves under a cloud till it was swept away.
The Turks at the seat of war.
I earnestly hope you will carry your point as to Omar Pasha’s army. I entirely concur with you that it is in its proper position. It could do no good before Sebastopol, and, moreover, I believe it will be your best policy to keep the Turkish Army as far as you can from the Allied. By the way, the Queen is very anxious to know what has become of the Turks sent to you some time since. Let me have some state of them from the Adjutant-General’s department, or from whoever is accountable for them. Since they were driven from the forts on the 25th October, 32 I have scarcely ever seen their names mentioned.
Send me home your list for the Bath as soon as you can. You will, of course, include Lucan, Airey, Estcourt, but no one not actually engaged and who [did not] distinguish himself. You know, I presume, that an order of merit is under preparation which will pervade all ranks.
The Queen much occupied with military matters.
The Queen is to present the Crimean medal publicly to detachments of officers and men from every corns in the Crimea. You never saw anybody so entirely taken up with military affairs as she is. You need not mention this fact, but I thought you would be gratified by hearing it.
I have no news for you.
Private and Confidential.
‘HANNIBAL,’ OFF SEBASTOPOL,
March 26th, 1855.
I cannot tell you how much your kind letter of the 12th inst. gratified me. I received it on my return with Sir E. Lyons last evening from a visit to Lord Raglan. I had written to you the day before, and I shall most assuredly follow out your desire that I should write you from time to time as plainly and unreservedly as our long-established and most cordial friendship justifies.
Most truly do I sympathise in the feelings you express as to what would have been the honest pride and pleasure of those loved ones who are ‘gone before,’ could they have witnessed our present relative trusted positions in the service of our country, and especially so in this her hour of need. But you, my old friend, have an incomparably heavier weight on your shoulders than I have. My duties, as second in command under such a Chief as Lyons, are light and easy, for I have but to do my best to give effect to, and support, his clear and energetic and truly patriotic views and measures.
Character of Sir E Lyons.
It is not easy to imagine any man more active, zealous, and devoted than he is, with a clear judgment and incomparable memory, and the bodily activity of twenty-five, with a promptness of decision that is invaluable, and totally free from that bugbear to all weak minds, the dread of responsibility.
You will be glad to hear that his value seems to be fully felt and appreciated by Lord Raglan, with whom he is on the most frank and confidential terms, and apparently consulted on military matters, as if he were an accomplished General as well as Admiral. And, truth to say, Lord Raglan, according to my poor apprehension, has much need of a clear-headed, stout, and cheerful adviser and friend, for some of those under his command take a doleful and desponding view of matters as they now are, and are likely to be. Sir E. Lyons, and Lord Raglan also, have admitted me to their confidence. And I trust I shall never communicate anything even to you which could possibly be considered as inconsistent with that confidence; but I think I only do what is right in stating to you my own impressions and thoughts upon what I see, and what everybody here may see. I touched upon the subject of our Allies in my last letter.
Activity of the Russians.
They are, I fear, nearly at a standstill, and every day appears to add to the boldness of the Russians and to diminish the self-confidence of the French General, and (I doubt) the confidence of the French troops in their Generals, and especially so in Canrobert and Bosquet — the latter of whom stood high until the 24th ult., when he failed to retain possession of the ‘Mamelon,’ where the enemy have now a very formidable work.
Slackness of the Allies.
It is easy to imagine that the constant view of the strengthening of the enemy’s works, their unceasing and most skilful operations for defence, added to their incessant sorties upon the Allies, and upon the French in particular, whilst almost nothing is undertaken on the part of our Allies, and little beyond the transport of guns, mortars, and ammunition even by ourselves, must tend to sap their enthusiasm and belief in ultimate success, whilst it cannot but turn their thoughts upon the augmented risks and dangers which must attend the assault, come when it may. To maintain our present position seems the full extent of Canrobert’s designs. But even that he does not accomplish, if, as is the case just now, the enemy succeed in establishing formidable works in advance of their former ones, and nearer to the French lines. But what is to be done? Lord Raglan is, comparatively speaking, powerless as the head of so small a numerical force, and if the French General won’t move, or won’t agree to measures proposed by both Sir E. Lyons and Admiral Bruat, and fully approved of by Lord Raglan — viz. to allow 10,000 or 12,000 men to be embarked and landed to take Kertch, destroy the fortifications, and so open the passage into the Sea of Azof, as I formerly stated to you — we shall be looked upon as being asleep. The difficulty of moving into the field (and it is a serious one), is the preservation of the guns, stores, and lines of the Allies. It appears to me that such a Guard might be formed of the Turkish and Egyptian forces, and that, if the French and English did take the field, the garrison of Sebastopol would probably be drawn upon as largely as possible in order to meet them, and so the safety of our lines, etc., might be the more confidently intrusted to the Turks, who, under Omar himself, are trustworthy behind defences.
From all this you will gather that I humbly consider matters in a fix, and from which I do not believe Canrobert has the genius, nor, without his concurrence, Lord Raglan the power, to extricate them. Re-embarkation is simply impracticable; to wait for reinforcements beyond a certain point, fraught with increased obstacles and the loss of much valuable time, which the Russians will not fail to profit largely and most ably by; and, without the co-operation of a small land force, I fear the ships cannot effect any diversion or enterprise of consequence. And, taking all these things into account, you cannot be surprised if I for one do venture to hope that the Emperor will come, and come quickly, in person to the Crimea. The game is all important to him, and his presence must lead to active and decisive measures. But unless L. Napoleon does come, or unless positive intimation be sent to Canrobert to act, and especially to give the necessary means to enable the ships to get possession of the Sea of Azof without further delay, I warn you, so far as the poor judgment of a functionary can entitle him to warn a statesman, that you must not expect anything immediate in the way of military success. I like very much what I saw at a first and brief interview which Sir E. L[yons] and I had with General Simpson, and I mean to have another chat with him as soon as I can. I think he will be useful to Lord Raglan, who really seems to have very little beyond himself to trust to.
Sir J Burgoyne’s views.
Sir J Burgoyne you will see. He will not give you a very encouraging prospect, I fear, nor a very flattering estimate of what the French have done and are likely to do. But I understand from Sir E. Lyons that he was decidedly in favour of a move into the field, a battle royal, and then Sebastopol, as a certain result of the as certain victory of the Allies. I have taken a leisure moment to scribble this long yarn, which you may not thank me for inflicting upon you . . .
James Drummond is here in the Tribune, an excellent fellow, and we often talked of the glorious game during the frosty weather.
March 27, 1855.
Suggests reinforcement of the Guards.
I write to you to-day on the subject of the Brigade of Guards out in the East. It is now so much reduced in numbers that it will be able to render hardly any service to the Army, and yet, as the Guards are present by name, their reputation is at stake. I find that about 1000 men fit for duty could be furnished by the Brigade at home; 200 from the Grenadiers, and 300 from each of the other regiments. Now, as time is advancing, and the Guards have not yet sent any drafts to Malta, would it not be advisable to send out the larger reinforcement at once to the Crimea, and to give orders for the sick and convalescents to be sent home, who are said to recover badly and frequently to die from relapses? They would be valuable to assist in bringing on the recruits.
Suggests increasing number of men at Malta.
I am afraid that Malta is not rendered as useful as it ought to be, if such an amount of Staff and sergeants is swallowed up for no more than 120 men from each regiment. The original idea was to have 200 there of each, so that Lord Raglan might draw upon them. If left at 120, one draft will exhaust the whole and leave a valuable Staff doing nothing, whilst we have not Staff enough at home to bring on the recruits.
BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, March 27, 1855.
I mentioned in my private letter of Saturday that I had just heard from Lord John Russell. I wrote to him yesterday, and Sir Edmund Lyons undertook to forward my letter to Varna this morning.
I am strongly impressed with the notion that the Emperor of the French will not come here, and my wishes are in unison with that impression. He would be mistaken if he supposed he could at once on arrival achieve a great success.
Moral condition of the French Army.
The failure of the French to keep the Russians off the ground they endeavoured to drive them from on the 24th February 33 has checked their disposition to lay violent hands upon the enemy’s ambuscades, and the Russians still occupy some of those in the immediate front of their advanced parallel, contiguous to our extreme right; and the French are content to proceed towards the Mamelon by sap. General Rose is somewhat uneasy upon this point, and will, I believe, write confidentially to Lord Clarendon. I earnestly recommend that the subject should be considered confidential in the strictest sense of the word. Our Allies are extremely sensitive.
I send you Mr. Cattley’s report of the day.
The arrival of the Grand Duke Michael requires confirmation, as does the death of Mentschikoff.
The march of a body of troops in the direction of Kutschuk (?) does not seem unlikely. If true, it indicates that the Russians have acquired intimation of the importance the Allies attach to the possession of the Sea of Azof. This is unfortunate. I am confident that the intelligence not reach them through the English.
March 28, 1855.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to enclose the despatches arrived from Lord Raglan this morning, from the 13th to 17th inst.
News from the seat of war.
Your Majesty cannot fail to remark the full details with which we are now furnished, not only of the operations of Your Majesty’s troops, but likewise in regard to health and condition of the Army.
There appears to be no foundation for the announcement in the Times yesterday of the attack upon our lines by the Russians.
In comparing the Morning State of the 12th inst. with that of the 16th, there appear to be an increase of 2094 Cavalry and Infantry under arms, and of Artillery 337.
Lord Panmure forwards for the perusal of Your Majesty a private letter from Sir John M’Neill, in which he gives very gratifying accounts of the energy and services of Colonel Tulloch.
The Sanitary Commission has been busy at Scutari and Balaclava, and is doing much good service. These missions have been of the most important service to Your Majesty’s troops, and, from all I can see, have been welcomed as they deserved.
General Simpson had arrived, and had been well received by Lord Raglan. The General merely reports his arrival, and promises to write more fully by next mail; he had been detained at Malta, waiting for passage.
Lord Panmure forwards for Your Majesty copies of the former tracing received by the last messenger in General Jones’ report, and likewise of that which has been sent now, showing the new works thrown up to unite the English and French lines. The only one of these documents which Lord Panmure will trouble Your Majesty to return is Sir John M’Neill’s letter.
Lord Panmure must apologise for troubling Your Majesty with so many documents, but his only excuse is his conviction of the deep interest taken by Your Majesty in all that concerns the honour and well-being of your Army.
ST. JAMES’S PALACE, March 20, 1855.
The writer volunteers his services in connection with the German Legion.
I have been thinking of all sorts of persons who could speak German, and who could be of use to you in the formation of your new German Legion, but I confess to you I can hit upon nobody that would suit, with the exception possibly of Colonel Sir Gaspard Le Marchant, our present Colonial Governor in Nova Scotia, I think, who used to be some years ago a most excellent officer and active-minded man. I have been told that he would wish to return to the service, but this I cannot answer for. It has, however, occurred to me that I might myself be of some use to you in this matter. I am extremely anxious to have some military occupation, even if only of a temporary kind, until it is quite clear whether or not I should go back to the Crimea. You know that I speak German and write German as well as I do English. I am thoroughly conversant with the German habits, character, and military service, I delight in soldiering, and am well up in our own military details.
As to organisation of German Legion.
Rather than not be of some use in this time of war and anxiety, I would willingly assist in the organisation of the present Legion, if you think my doing so would be of any use, and I really flatter myself that it might, and that the very fact of my being in some way associated with it might assist it abroad in obtaining good and useful recruits. I would undertake to drill and organise such a force with some little assistance, There is only one observation I would wish to make. If I am ultimately to go back to the Crimea, I should wish to return to my own Division of British Troops, which you will not think unnatural. I take for granted, however, that the Foreign Legion will not go out as a body, but will be partitioned off to the various Divisions of our Army, and act with English troops, and not per se. In the latter case there can be no difficulty in my organising and drilling the force preparatory to its departure for the seat of war, and I should not be called upon to proceed out at their head as a separate body. At all events I hope yon will kindly think the matter over, and have some little conversation with me about it before you write a final decision.
Recommends formation of a regiment of German Light Cavalry.
One more observation I would wish to make in reference to this force. You said the other day that at present you would only take INFANTRY. Now our great want at present lies in CAVALRY for our next campaign. Nothing equals the German Light Cavalry, and it takes a long time to make a Cavalry soldier. Why not at once form a good strong regiment of German Light Cavalry? They would be found most valuable.
March 30, 1855.
Doubts as to the staunchness of the French.
I have to thank you for your two letters of the 13th and 17th, the latter of which leaves no doubt that the report in the Times of a general attack, on the morning of the 17th, on the lines was without foundation, I am getting more anxious about the conduct of the French than ever. Their backward conduct with you, and a certain wavering in Council at home, induce the belief that their desire for peace may be more potent than their sense of honour. Alas! if it should be so. I have said all on this subject in my secret despatch that need be said, and I only hope that I may be disappointed. Lucan made his onslaught in the House of Lords last night, but with no effect; and now I trust we shall hear nothing more of this matter. Both Houses adjourn to-day till the 16th of April, and I hope when we meet again to have something to tell them of your feats of arms. In the meantime we shall have a little rest from our daily interrogation.
I am glad to see by yours of the 13th that the Sea of Azof is attracting the Admiral’s attention.
The Emperor of Russia’s death has ceased almost to be talked of, and it is pretty clear that it will for a time make no change in Russian policy.
Expectation of seeing the Conference broken up.
I do not believe that they will ever consent to the Third Point, viz. a reduction of their fleet in the Black Sea, and therefore we are every day expecting to see the Conference broken up. Drouyn de Lhuys, 34 however, is here, en route for Vienna, to see what he can cobble up. The Emperor and Empress are coming here in a fortnight, and are to be right royally received. His position will be somewhat different from what it was when he last had his foot on these shores.
As to improved reports of the troops.
Your improved reports of the troops are doing great good, and I hope all the precautions which are being taken will insure you from any serious visitation from sickness. Your summer clothing, viz. a light coat and pair of trousers per man, will be at Constantinople in the first instalment of 5000 suits ere you receive this. You must send for it as you require it.
The limekilns will do great service, and your opinion as to water is satisfactory. What a horrible mortality your deserter describes among the corps of 8000 to which he belonged. 35
I am by no means sure that you will not see the Emperor. He will be a great gêne in some respects, and in others he may stick a spear into Canrobert when it is much wanted.
Position of the Sardinian Contingent.
The Sardinian Contingent will have been fully detailed to you ere this. You must protect De la Marmora, and not let the French dispose of him. The Sardinians are sensitive lest they should be considered as mercenaries, and you will perceive the necessity of recognising them as the army of an allied State, though they must act under your orders and be at your disposal. The Emperor has a design to lay his hands on them, but this must not be allowed. I never heard the admission of Walewski of so great a loss on the part of the French as 52,000. I have sent you a copy of the evidence before the Committee. I shall attend to any remarks you may have to make on it.
March 30, 1855.
I have your official report of your arrival, and I look for something more by next mail. I have sent Lord Raglan by this mail a copy of the evidence before the House of Commons Committee, which you can aid in dissecting, and if there is anything you can furnish me with facts to refute, I will do it.
I find my work harder than I like.
I hope you will keep your health and remember Gardiner’s rules even in your very hut.
Feeling in England against Raglan and his personal Staff.
The feeling against Raglan is subsiding, but his personal Staff appear to have given dreadful offence to some of their brother-officers out there, and they are most evilly, it may be most foully, reported of.
Costume of officers in the Crimea.
I wish to direct your attention to one point which is reported to me, viz. the licence adopted by Regtal Officers as to costume. Depend on it that this betokens a loose discipline, and the sooner you strike at it the better. Give any relaxation you please, but let it be given by superior authority in an official way, and don’t let young gents, or old gents, be the judges of their own dress. I am sure Brown 36 will concur with me in this.
Pray have a quick eye to your forage. Animals will crowd in on you very soon, and you must spur up Filder to be getting his supplies.
March 30, 1855.
Understanding that the Medical department of the Army is to be entirely remodelled, may I be excused suggesting to your lordship one or two alterations that I believe to be improvements urgently called for?
Recommendations as to hygiene of the Army.
I am of opinion that, in the reconstitution of the department in question, provision should be made for an acting Sanitary Staff being attached to the Army, and that the Army Medical Board should comprise one member whose attention should be mainly directed to the general hygiene of the troops.
He should have the management of all matters bearing on the prevention of disease, as the site of barracks and hospitals, the structural arrangements of these buildings and of guard-houses, the selection and preparation of ground for encampments, the recommending suitable food and drink for the soldier, and advising as to the best and readiest modes of cooking, the clothing best adapted for different climates, etc., etc. Results have shown that if this system had been adopted with our troops in the Fast, and if an officer specially acquainted with these subjects had been attached to head-quarters at home, much sickness and death would have been saved, and an enormous amount of distress, not to speak of expense, might have been avoided.
Amount of preventible diseases.
The latest official statistical returns of the sickness, invaliding, and mortality in the Army, published in 1853, afford decisive evidence of the amount of preventible diseases and mortality: and I am informed that within the last five years the most satisfactory results have followed the adoption of judicious sanitary arrangements among the children in the Royal Military Asylum at Chelsea.
The superior condition of the French troops in reference to health and disease is mainly owing, it is believed, to the existence of such an arrangement as I have indicated.
The details of the organisation of the Medical Military Staff are not, I believe, thoroughly known in this country.
I am about to visit Paris in a few days to complete my investigations for the Home Department. If your Lordship and the Minister of War think it desirable, I shall feel much honoured by being authorised to make inquiries into the way in which this important portion of the subject of the health of the Army is managed in France, and will report thereon on my return to London.
BEFORE SEBASTOPOL, March 31, 1855.
. . . I think our friends are a little uneasy, and over-anxious for the arrival of some of the Turkish Army from Eupatoria, but they continue to have full confidence in their English Allies.