THOUGH the acceptance of his resignation had been agreed to in Committee of the Cabinet on October 3rd, General Simpson continued in command of the British Army in the Crimea until November 10th. For Codrington’s failure on September 8th had not made it easier to promote a junior general over the heads of his seniors, Bentinck, Barnard, Campbell, and Rokeby; and the whole question as to Simpson’s successor had to be reopened and discussed again in secret at home. In reality the choice still lay between Codrington and Campbell (see Lord Panmure’s letter to the Queen, October 4th); but other names were also mentioned, among them that of Sir George Brown. Neither was Simpson himself as decided as might have been expected. Despite his modesty, he was by no means patient of censure, yet at the same time had patriotism enough to place his country’s interests above private feeling. Not improbably his resolution fluctuated with variations in the state of his health. Considerate of his old friend’s reputation, Lord Panmure persuaded him to assign his resignation to the latter cause.
Meantime abundant criticism continued to be brought to bear on him. For it had been assumed at home that, Sebastopol having fallen, nothing remained to be done by the Allied Arms but to drive the Russians at will from the field.
This, Simpson points out, was sheer fallacy.
For, not only did the Russians still cling to the North Side of their fallen fortress, thus making the South untenable and preventing access to the harbour, but their principal position also was unassailable by direct attack, whilst to have withdrawn troops in number from before it would have been to court disaster. So that, although released from the trenches, the British Army continued, as before, in a sense a beleaguered army. And hence the only military events which for the present diversified the status quo were operations at Eupatoria, and the despatch of an expedition to the mouth of the Dnieper to capture the fort and store-depôt of Kinburn. So far as they went, these were successful. Meanwhile the bulk of the Army was employed in the needful work of recovering its drill and organisation, whilst all available hands raced against the on-coming winter in erecting huts and in completing those roads on which, in Simpson’s opinion, their safety depended.
But at home, where, as has been said, these things were not understood, impatience increased. The Emperor Napoleon, ever restless, was urgent with a new strategical scheme; and never, perhaps, since the commencement of the war, had the feeling of the Army against the Press been more acute than now.‘The general feeling here,’ writes Simpson to Panmure on October 20th, ‘is that the Press is our commander at home.’ And again, ‘The Press has proved the greatest enemy to this Army, by informing the Russians of all our intentions, publishing to them the exact state of our strength and of the number of our sick — acting, in short, as a friend and adviser to our enemy. And yet, in England, more credit is attached to the observations published in the papers than to the honest and unvarnished statements of your generals.’
Nor was this feeling confined to combatants, those at home who sympathised strongly with the Army in its various trials alike participating in it. (See Prince Albert’s letter of October 6th.)
For the rest, Army Works Corps had been got to work, and had already begun to be subjected to much criticism from those military authorities who objected to civilians in Camp. The raising of the Foreign Legions was receiving much attention, and their first regiments were being despatched to the seat of war.
By far the most inspiriting incident of an otherwise rather uneventful month was the receipt of the ‘glorious news of Kars.’
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 1, 1855.
Your despatches of the 18th are just come in, but give little or no detail of anything that is going on. I am sorry to learn that your health is so far from strong, and that you cannot attend to your doctor’s advice.
I have given much thought to your resignation — more as to the suddenness of it than as to the fact.
I had an idea that you might like to slip out of your very responsible position, and was prepared to have aided you in any way I could; but you have overset all my views, and you must now make an official application for release, and put the ground of it as you think best for your own purpose. As far as I can, consistently with my own position, I am disposed as ever to support your exit from, as I aided your entry into the Crimea.
To the public your health is an ample ground for your desiring to be relieved, but if you wish to put other reasons forward, it is not for me to object. I hope you will think well on the mode of taking this step.
I have asked you in my last telegram to await the arrival of the mail of the 20th before you sent me an official communication, and I did so mainly that you might not be said to resign in the face of certain articles in the Times and other papers, which have assumed to themselves the right of criticising and running down every one.
I have arranged so that you will be gazetted as ‘General’ to-morrow, and I have asked the Queen to allow me to hurry your appointment as G.C.B., so that you may have your ribbon before you leave the Crimea, and therefore, as your desire to resign is a secret and will not be divulged here, I strongly advise you to do nothing in a hurry. I hope you will recover your health before you get home again. I expect to hear to-morrow who is to command your brigade in the expedition to Kinburn.
BALMORAL, October 2, 1855.
The Queen has received Lord Panmure’s letter of the 30th ult., and fully shares the sensations which the correspondence with General Simpson seems to have excited in him.
General Simpson goes on with the mistake of Lord Raglan, never to give his Government his reasons for the course he adopts. There may be good reasons why the Army should not move, but we hear only one, now wrung from him. . . . When he telegraphed before, that he must wait to know the intentions and plans of the Russians, the Queen was tempted to advise a reference to St. Petersburg for them!
A successor to Simpson.
But now as to a successor. The Queen does not think that it will do to place Sir William Codrington over the heads of all his seniors upon a patent failure. Public opinion at home and in the Army would never support this, as, in fact, it would not be just.
Sir Colin Campbell proposed.
Under all the circumstances the Queen thinks Sir Colin Campbell (with his known good qualities and defects), the senior General after Sir H. Bentinck’s return, also the fittest to take the command and to inspire our Army and our Allies with confidence. The Queen thinks, however, that Lord Hardinge ought to be consulted before the Cabinet come to any determination amongst themselves.
BALMORAL, October 2, 1855.
The Queen would wish Lord Panmure to order a correct plan now to be made of Sebastopol, of the approaches of the English and French Armies, with all the batteries in, and this seems to be a good time for having it done.
CAMP, SEBASTOPOL, October 2, 1855.
I have your private note of the 17th ultimo this morning. By it I perceive it quite in vain to satisfy the public cry in England, while the Press keeps loudly demanding us to ‘run with the fox.’
All this will not induce us, who are responsible, to risk the ruin of the Army. I never read the papers, and only regret that they seem to lead the opinions of so many sensible men, not even excepting the Government of our country. The Press has proved the greatest enemy to this Army, by informing the Russians of all our intentions, publishing to them the exact state of our strength and of the numbers of our sick, acting, in short, as the friend and adviser of our enemy. And yet in England more credit is attached to the observations published in the papers than to the honest and unvarnished statements of your Generals.
Contemplated movements of the Armies.
Now, as to the speculations you propose, the French have extended their right by Baidar to endeavour to turn the Russian position on its left, but, from the nature of the country, I do not think they can do it. If now they make a strong attempt, the Sardinians and part of our Army are ready to try to force the Mackenzie Heights, which at this moment would be madness to attempt.
The Turks, aided by General D’Allonville and three regiments of French Cavalry, are acting from Eupatoria, and doing very well too, and were our force sufficient to land 50,000 men at Eupatoria, some good might be done, but to divide the Army here would be the height of imprudence.
As to Sebastopol, I would by this time have destroyed the docks and all public buildings. The telegraph said, ‘No.’ The place cannot now be occupied, the fire being too heavy.
Simpson’s determination to retire.
Ten thousand of our men are on the road daily. I much fear finishing it, and the safety of the Army much depends on our own military exertions for the winter. It will be all settled as regards my retirement before this reaches you. I could not reconcile it to my sense of what is right to remain in command of this Army when the Government consider me to be wasting my time in idleness. I firmly adhere to my well-considered opinion, and I wish to be released. I am most desirous to create as little inconvenience as it is possible, and will take any hints on that point that you may be so kind as give me. Your telegraph of the 26th ult. decided the point — I have frequently reconsidered it, and cannot change my opinion.
Enclosed is Mr. Lauder’s Report of this day. It is not easy to tell how much of such information is to be depended upon; but, as far as my belief goes, the Russians are still in full force on the Heights before us, whatever may be their intentions for the winter.
BALMORAL, October 3, 1855.
The Queen thanks Lord Panmure for his letter received this morning with General Simpson’s despatches. It is indeed a great comfort to see no ‘casualties.’
What can be done for those officers mutually recommended by Maréchal Pélissier and General Simpson?
The Queen also wishes to remind Lord Panmure of the K.C.B. for General Rose, and the C.B. for Major Claremont and perhaps also Captain Foley. 1 The two first named had been decided on, she thought.
She approves that the other Baths should be promulgated as he proposed in his letter which she received yesterday.
The Queen wishes also to observe that, in this Morning’s State and in the one preceding it, the Artillery has been left out, as well as all the horses. This ought to be observed upon.
October 3, 1855.
Cabinet discussion as to Codrington’s appointment, and when it should be made.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to inform Your Majesty that the Committee of Cabinet met to-day and discussed the question of General Simpson’s resignation and the appointment of a successor, both as to the individual who should be selected and the time at which it should be done. The opinion as to the acceptance at once of the resignation was clear, but the question of the selection of a successor was not quite so much so. The cloud which has to some extent, whether justly or otherwise, enveloped General Codrington since the affair of the Redan had to some degree shaken the faith of the Committee in their former opinion as to his fitness to direct great and combined operations, and it is only after well examining all the circumstances of the case, and carefully considering the fitness of others, that the Committee came to the conclusion that Sir W. Codrington is on the whole the best man for the important position which has to be filled up. The next point to be considered was the time at which the change should take place. To some it seemed desirable that General Simpson should be directed by telegram to give over his command at once to Sir W. Codrington, placing in his hands the commission which Your Majesty had been pleased already to sign. Lord Panmure observed that this would do very well if Sir W. Codrington had been next senior officer to General Simpson, or even had those three above him been all of merely ordinary calibre. But this is not so, for among them is Sir C. Campbell, an officer of high reputation and merit, who, though not judged fit to command the Army, must have every respect showed to his feelings, and ought not to be passed over by a telegraphic appointment. This argument prevailed, and it was resolved that Lord Panmure should forthwith draft a letter to be submitted to Your Majesty: first, accepting officially General Simpson’s resignation, and desiring him to place the commission which he holds in Sir William Codrington’s hands; second, appointing Sir W. Codrington, in an official letter to be delivered with Your Majesty’s commission; third, a letter to Sir C. Campbell, of a conciliatory character, and advising him to serve under Sir W. Codrington; fourth, similar letters to the other senior officers.
Steps to be taken in connection with the above.
These Lord Panmure hopes to be able to send to Your Majesty by next messenger, so as to get them back in time to be despatched by Monday’s mail, [with] the subsequent letter confirming the arrangements, which Lord Panmure trusts may be in accordance with Your Majesty’s sentiments.
THE GROVE, October 3, 1855.
Napoleon III. on the proposed distribution of British decorations to French troops.
The Emperor has written privately to Cowley, saying, ‘J’ai à vous adresser une demande à laquelle j’attache une grande importance. Le Maréchal Vaillant a dit que la Reine avait la bonté de donner à tous mes soldats la même médaille qu’elle donnera aux siens pour la campagne de Crimée. Si cela est exact, je désirerais bien que cette distribution pût avoir lieu le plus tôt possible, car elle fera un très-bon effet, et avec l’échange des autres décorations calmera bien de petites susceptibilités.’
Of course this is impossible, and I have told Cowley that some months must elapse before the medals are ready, but I think that the wishes of the Emperor would be partly met if the Queen’s intentions were at once announced to the French Army. If you see no objection, will you have the goodness to inform Cowley so by the messenger this evening. . . .
Rose suggested as Commander-in-Chief in the East.
Cowley asks whether, upon the whole (if his insufficient standing could be got over), Rose would not be the best Commander-in-Chief of the English officers out in the East. We might have a worse man, but, of two such lottery tickets, I think we should be more likely to draw a prize in Windham. . . .
October 4, 1855.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to reply to Your Majesty’s letter of yesterday.
Your Majesty would receive Lord Panmure’s which left by messenger this morning. Immediately on receipt of Your Majesty’s letter, Lord Panmure conferred with Lord Palmerston, and he had already twice conferred with Lord Hardinge, so as to be able to state his opinion to the Cabinet. The case is one of the most embarrassing which has ever occurred to Lord Panmure, but fortunately Your Majesty, your servants, and the Commander-in-Chief are all actuated by the same anxious desire to secure for the Army the best Chief. To both Lords Palmerston and Panmure the point has resolved itself to a choice between Sir C. Campbell and Sir W. Codrington.
Hardinge’s objections to Sir C. Campbell.
Lord Hardinge has pronounced a decided opinion against Sir C. Campbell. . . . He states, moreover, that he does not think Sir C. Campbell fitted to command an army, though well calculated to lead a body of men, his own countrymen, anywhere. He, moreover, has had lately some correspondence in which Sir C. Campbell has not shown that acquiescence in superior authority which he ought to have done. The same objections would arise against Sir C. Campbell as exist against General Simpson, of not being able to carry on familiar communication with Marshal Pélissier. This, however, would be of less consequence now than it was, unless a combined movement took place, of which there is no probability. Your Majesty now knows all that Lord Panmure knows against the policy of appointing Sir C. Campbell.
The next consideration is whether these objections are sufficiently strong to justify his being superseded by a junior officer labouring under the disadvantage which at present surrounds Sir W. Codrington. To this officer’s fitness for the chief command, as compared with his comrades, no doubt existed previous to the fatal assault of the Redan. Has this failure been traced to Sir W. Codrington? In a letter of the 15th, Sir H. Stewart writes, referring to the assault: ‘I have not seen Codrington since, but hear he is low and out of spirits, which I can easily understand, although no blame whatever has been attributed to him, or accounted against him, as far as I have ever heard.’
Character and present position of Sir W. Codrington.
Lord Panmure has seen no communications reflecting on either Sir W. Codrington or General Markham. It is fair to tell Your Majesty that Lord Hardinge possesses no more knowledge of Sir W. Codrington’s eligibilities to the command of the Army than what we all know. He believes him to be a steady, good officer, attentive to his men, vigilant in position, calm in action, discreet in council. His manner will secure courtesy. Such are Sir W. Codrington’s recommendations.
Opinions unfavourable to Codrington afterwards reversed.
Except for this failure, Lord Panmure and his colleagues would have had no difficulty in advising Your Majesty to name him as General Simpson’s successor. Is the failure sufficient to exclude him? On the whole, Lord Palmerston and Lord Panmure and Sir C. Wood think so, and Lord Panmure interprets Lord Hardinge’s opinion to the same effect. The case is, however, reverted for the moment, and as the Cabinet meets again on Monday, the point will be again discussed, and the result shall be telegraphed to Your Majesty. . . .
Before the Cabinet meets again, Lord Panmure may, perhaps, be favoured with a further expression of Your Majesty’s sentiments.
WINDSOR, October 4, 1855.
Editing of war despatches.
The Queen and the Prince expressed to me an opinion that it would have been better not to have published the paragraph in Simpson’s despatch which I have marked, and that some of the details in M’Murdo’s despatch would have been better left out.
Remarks by the Queen and Prince Albert.
They observed that, as the Russians would find that a false report of their intention to attack us had stopped Colin Campbell’s intended expedition, they would be encouraged to spread more false reports, and to send in deserters with prearranged inventions, and they also thought that M’Murdo’s despatch gives the Russians detailed information about our Army which we should be too glad to be able to get about theirs. There is some force in their remarks.
BALMORAL, October 5, 1855.
Plans of siege.
The Queen thanks Lord Panmure for the portfolio with all the plans and accounts of the siege. They are beautifully done and most interesting.
BROADLANDS, October 5, 1855.
I saw Zamoyski yesterday before I left town, and I recommended to him to write you a letter containing a definite proposition to bring pending matters to a conclusion.
I conceive that we have agreed that he should have a Division of yeoman Cossacks attached to and forming part of Vivian’s Contingent, and that this Division, which is to be under Zamoyski’s command, subject of course to the superior command of Vivian, may consist of 5000 men, Cavalry and Infantry. . . . Zamoyski has already one regiment in Turkey, consisting nominally of 1000 men, Cavalry; these require to be clothed and armed, and the Turkish Government should be urged to pay them the arrears due to them up to the time when we took them into our service as part of the Contingent.
The Polish Contingent.
I told Zamoyski to propose that he should be authorised to raise immediately a second regiment of 1000 men to be Infantry. This regiment he might raise partly here, and by men and officers who would come hither from France, reporting themselves at Shorncliffe, or at any other place fixed upon by you, where the officers and men might be inspected by some officer appointed for that purpose by you, but who must, of course, on account of difference of language, be assisted by some Polish officer to be appointed by Zamoyski.
The officers and men thus to be formed into a regiment would be sent out by you to the Contingent whenever they were ready, clothed and equipped, and they might be completed to their establishment when in Turkey, if a sufficient number could not be got together here.
It might be necessary to make some small allowance to cover the travelling expenses of some of these officers and men from France to England.
Advantages of the Polish troops.
There can be little doubt that these Poles will, number for number, be better troops than the Turks, because both officers and men will be more intelligent, more accustomed to European habits and tactics, and, as all the officers will speak French and many of them English, for the Poles are good linguists, they will be much more easily communicated with and handled than the Turks can be.
In a mere military point of view the Poles would probably be more useful troops than the Turks; and they would carry with them the further advantage that, when put in front of a Russian Army in which many Poles would be found, even if none of those Poles came over from the Russian Army (which, however, a great many no doubt would do), the mere apprehension of their so deserting would greatly embarrass the operations and arrangements of the Russian General, and much cripple his means of attack or defence.
Will you send this to Clarendon to see if he concurs in what regards his matters?
THE GROVE, October 5, 1855.
Defends the conduct of the Duke of Newcastle.
. . . You are very hard upon Newcastle; 2 if he was making political capital, would he have written to me that if he wanted to be called a patriot he would publish all he knew; that if he wanted to avoid being thought hostile to the Government he should hold his tongue; but that, having the public service sincerely at heart, he had determined to write to me, in order that I might use his letters as I thought best, without committing him. Of course I did as I would be done by, and sent them to you. You may think him all wrong in his observations, but depend upon it that he has stated nothing but what he believes to be true.
I have not heard a syllable about the Italian Legion since Percy 3 arrived, and I can’t make out why he has resigned.
I rejoice at the Cavalry success on the Eupatoria side, but I can’t help wishing that it was not always the French alone who succeed. Why should not our Cavalry have gone there too? Not an envoy ought to be allowed to pass from Perekop.
BALMORAL, October 5, 1855.
Successor to Simpson.
The Queen has received Lord Panmure’s letter of the 3rd October. She did not answer his first on the subject of the Crimean Command, as her own on the same subject had crossed it. The decision to be arrived at does not become the least easier on longer reflection. It appears clear, however, that one of three courses will have to be followed, either Sir C. Campbell or Sir W. Codrington will have to be selected, or a General must be sent from home.
Claims of Sir W. Codrington.
If Sir G. Brown and the Duke of Cambridge are out of the question, and Sir Colin is found, on a knowledge of his character, to be an impracticable man, there would only remain Sir William Codrington. His arrangements on the 8th have, however, certainly been defective, and he has shown no military talent (as distinct from merely soldierlike qualities) as yet. It is curious that his report on the attack of the 8th (a rough draft of which the Queen has had a private opportunity of seeing) mentions every detail but not the name of General Windham. We are really wholly uninformed on the nature of this affair. The Queen sends an extract from a letter of Lord Rokeby, which displays creditably the feelings of Sir C. Campbell and himself. Should it turn out that gross mistakes were committed on the 8th, Sir W. Codrington’s elevation will be sure to provoke the most violent criticism and deprive him of all influence as a Commander.
CRIMEA, October 6, 1855.
I have your ‘private’ letter of the 22nd September — four days before you sent the telegraph which induced me to ask to resign.
I value your kind expressions in that letter extremely. Everything that has been done for me personally is much beyond my merit or expectation. In fact I take no credit, and deserve no praise for all our success, which is owing entirely to the constancy of the Allied troops in their trenches.
Departure of expedition to Kinburn.
I have only to notice the departure of the Allied expedition to the mouth of the Dnieper to take the fort of Kinburn, in which I hope for success.
Also to say that I have sent a Brigade of Cavalry and a Troop of Horse Artillery round to Eupatoria, to aid General D’Allonville in his operations.
These seem the only changes since my last letter. The position of the enemy remains unchanged. The ground they hold is much too formidable for any direct attack, but to divide or withdraw troops from its front would be most imprudent.
I can therefore only continue to regret that the English press condemns us as wasting our time.
I begin to be nervous as to our roads — ten or twelve thousand men employed daily are making less progress than I expected. Mr. Doyne directs.
You do not seem to be aware in England that Sebastopol is untenable, because of the fire from the opposite side. We keep guards on the skirts to prevent plunder, and the Commission has managed to make an inventory of all the booty found in the place. But to turn the buildings to any account in winter is impossible.
Criticism of the Army Works Corps.
The trouble caused by Mr. Doyne’s Corps, and his disputes with Mr. Beattie, annoy me much. The Army Work Corps are by far the worst lot of men ever yet sent here. It is ruin to our soldiers to be placed in contact with such a set of people, receiving higher pay than themselves.
I know you will be annoyed to read this, my Lord, but it must come to your ears some day that the whole composition of the Army Works Corps has not answered here, and the vexation they have caused me is beyond all belief.
Pressure of correspondence.
There is but little time for me to write more. You tell me we are dry in our communications, but we are overworked in our correspondence, and this is one of the points on which most men will break down in commanding this Army. You quote General Rose, but he has nothing else to do from morning till night than to compose his despatches, while I, at my desk from daylight in the morning until near sunset, do not answer all demands on me, and am prevented giving my mind to my military duty. . . . The doctors have again warned me of the necessity of giving up my work before it is too late. I am much worn out and anxious to receive the despatch in which you tell me that my wishes will be complied with.
October 6, 1855.
I return the enclosed papers with my best thanks, and am much pleased by the good accounts they give.
Criticism of the Times.
The Queen has written to Lord Palmerston about the Times, who will perhaps show you the letter. The pen and ink of one miserable scribbler is despoiling the country of all the advantages which the heart’s blood of 20,000 of its noblest sons should have earned!!! The public opinion on the Continent as to our military strength and capacity gets lower and lower every day, which cannot take place without ruin to our political position.
Our inaction at the seat of war contrasted with French activity.
Now the French Cavalry is gaining a Cavalry action off Eupatoria, adding fresh renown to their arms, whilst ours remains inactive and useless, preparing to go to Scutari! Why is this, when we have been writing volumes on the advantages of operating from Eupatoria, and the French against it? Again, why are the French erecting mortar batteries on the south shore of the harbour of Sebastopol, and successfully bombarding the Russian works and magazines on the North Side, and we are doing nothing? You ought to ask these and many similar questions to General Simpson by telegraph.
Private and Confidential.
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 6, 1855.
Difficulty as to Simpson’s successor.
The difficulty of naming your successor has not yet been got over, and it becomes more than ever necessary for you to maintain the profoundest secrecy as to the commission you hold for Sir W. Codrington. He has damaged his reputation by the want of success in the attack on the Redan, and it seems to me to be out of our power to place him over the heads of senior officers. We have to make up our minds on Monday, and you will of course know by telegraph what we intend to do.
We heard yesterday of the success of General D’Allonville, and this must prove to you how useful it will be to keep a considerable body of flying Cavalry out on the flanks of the Russians, for I am convinced they can keep no troops of that arm in the Crimea during the winter.
Simpson’s despatch criticised.
The papers have been discussing your affair of the Redan, and pulling you all to pieces. I think that, if you had sent a more verbose and well-digested despatch, without so many rough edges on it, you could have allayed the storm better and smoothed down the grumblers. You cannot conceive how I have been pestered by critics and tormented by fools with long faces. I am glad to see the huts arriving, and hope you will soon have your people under comfortable cover, and your drill and organisation and correct tellings off once more set straight. The end of trench-work must be a burthen off your mind.
We have just heard that the Russians contemplate abandoning the North Side. I trust it may be so, because you can then get possession of the harbours. I must conclude this, as I have been greatly interrupted, and write more by Monday’s mail.
BALMORAL, October 7, 1855.
Clasp for Sebastopol.
The Queen wishes to know if there has been any official announcement of her intention to confer a clasp for Sebastopol on the Army in the Crimea? She has nowhere seen this announcement, and it will lose all its value if it be not conferred as soon as possible after the fall of Sebastopol; moreover, the newspapers may possibly think fit to suggest what has been agreed upon and intended by the Queen herself.
It is possible that it has been done, but as the Queen has nowhere seen it, she has thought it right to call Lord Panmure’s attention to the circumstance.
October 8, 1855.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to acquaint Your Majesty that the Cabinet, after mature deliberation, are still of opinion that Sir W. Codrington is the most eligible officer for the command of the Army. They have, however, suspended a final decision until a further lapse of a week, that they may have the benefit of further accounts of the feeling of the Army in regard to him.
Simpson’s opinion as to a successor to himself.
It was stated in the Cabinet that Lord Raglan, in letters to the Duke of Newcastle, had given a most decided opinion against Sir Colin Campbell’s fitness for isolated command. In General Simpson’s private letter of 14th August to Lord Panmure, he states that ‘Your Lordship positively desires my unreserved opinion on the matter of Codrington’s selection as my successor. He is, in my belief, the best General here, but I am in full hopes not to be compelled by illness to act upon your instructions at the present time of any imminent chance of our being attacked, for you must be aware of the very great disgust that will be occasioned to Bentinck, Campbell, Barnard, and Rokeby, if Codrington is called to the chief command. They will, of course, take the most immediate measures to quit the Army.’
Lord Panmure has given Your Majesty this full extract, which he had in the pressure of business forgotten. This testimony, however, does not neutralise the occurrences of the 8th, provided the consequent events can be fairly traced to Sir W. Codrington’s door. To afford a greater chance for ascertaining this, the Cabinet have agreed to pause for a week in their decision.
In regard to the clasp for Sebastopol, Lord Panmure, having received Your Majesty’s commands on the subject, wrote an official letter to that effect to General Simpson on the 15th September; on the 22nd he intimated the commands of Your Majesty to Field-Marshal Lord Hardinge, and he has just privately seen the draft of a General Order on the subject. The Army are, however, aware of Your Majesty’s intentions long ere this.
Lord Panmure has communicated officially to Lord Clarendon Your Majesty’s desire to give the French Army the Crimean medal, and has likewise communicated that generous intention to General Simpson.
Cabinet favourable to destruction of Sebastopol docks.
The Cabinet discussed the question of the destruction of the docks, which arose on a despatch of General Rose’s, which Your Majesty will no doubt see. The impression was decidedly in favour of destruction, but not without the concurrence of the Emperor.
Lord Panmure forwards to Your Majesty the contents of this mail. Your Majesty will perceive the difference which the absence of trench-work makes on the men.
Resumption of drill.
The correspondents say that goose-step and primary drills are going on with soldiers with medals on their breasts. Lord Panmure is glad to find so many medals to be in the soldiers’ possession, and not less so that drill and organisation is being steadily attended to.
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 8, 1855.
As to blowing up the docks at Sebastopol.
I have been at a Cabinet so long that I have scarcely any time to write to you, though much to write about. In the first place we have carefully considered the question of blowing up the docks, and when we see the great anxiety which appears to pervade both you and the admirals, we are much disposed to let you have your way.
The docks can be of no use to us, and may be troublesome if allowed to exist until by further successes we have forced Russia to come to terms. We cannot, however, proceed actually to destroy them without the consent of the Emperor, who seemed to have an aversion to do so. In the meanwhile I see no reason why you should not immediately consult Sir E. Lyons, and proceed to make preparations for their destruction by employing your sappers to mine them. We hear that the Russians are in great fear of their destruction, which is all the more a reason for our at once setting their minds at rest on the point. I learn by telegraph that you have ordered the Turkish Contingent, irregulars and all, to Kertch, and I find that you have restricted Vivian to simple community of action with our force there. This is a mistake. Vivian will be the senior officer there, and must be looked upon as if he was a Queen’s officer, as he is to all intents and purposes.
I have no objection to the 10th Hussars and 71st Regiment reporting directly to you, but they must also report to Vivian, and take orders from him, so long as they are under his command. You can, of course, command him, but you must observe all the etiquette of the Army, or we shall have the C.O.’s of the detachments turning up their noses at Vivian and acting on their own hook. Your caution to him to keep well with the French is very good, but as he is an excellent Frenchman I have no fear on that head.
As to the Irregulars, I suspect, like a certain gentleman, they are not so black as they are painted. I believe much may be made of them when we get them together and can turn them on the roads against the enemy. My notion is to send them to Eupatoria, but I am not sufficiently informed at present to decide.
You must tell Sir G. M’Lean that he will have to make their commissariat be active for supplies, and you should get Sir E. Lyons to give some vessels for the Kertch station, to go to and fro for the Contingent.
The Foreign Legion.
I have determined to send you my first regiments of the Foreign Legion. You will see their strength from the official despatch. They are fine-looking men, and will do more work than your youngsters, and be more handy. You must keep the Germans under the Brigadier I send with them, and put them in any Division which has a good linguist or two in superior commands. Keep them away from the Swiss. . . . The Swiss and Germans are not good friends, and in camp should be placed in different quarters; but they will fight well, and you may rely upon them.
Health of the troops.
I think you should, as you find room, recruit your ranks from Malta, and I expect great benefit to your men’s health who are in the Kinburn expedition, and indeed, when we get settled down, and the ships are at leisure and you feel secure in your positions, I do not see why you should not send a regiment afloat now and then to give them sea air.
I have the Queen’s commands to G.C.B. you, and I hope next Saturday or by Monday to have the necessary preliminaries gone through. I shall order your insignia and send all out in the bag, that you may wear them before you leave the Army.
The Queen in the most flattering manner has conferred the G.C.B. (civil) on me. This is only valuable as associating me with the management of the Army.
BALMORAL, October 9, 1855.
The Queen has received Lord Panmure’s letter of yesterday.
She approves of Brigadier-General Williams being made a K.C.B.
She regrets much that General Simpson, having once sent Cavalry and Artillery to Eupatoria, did not send more.
CAMP, SEBASTOPOL, October 9, 1855.
I have just been sending off an answer to your telegraphic cipher received this morning, beginning with No. 500. I much regret being deemed so wanting in communicating all that passes; still more do I regret the different views I hold from yours at home.
As to destruction of docks and sea-defences of Sebastopol.
I send an official to-day, in which I endeavour to explain my reasons for wishing to destroy the docks, sea-defences, etc., of Sebastopol. I considered our siege had mainly in view the destruction of these works. It could have been at once accomplished, but not now under fire. As to the French bombardment of the North Forts, I entirely differ with our Allies, who have changed their minds since it was unanimously determined at Conference that no such fire was to be opened. We have every possible information of the enemy, though of his intentions I can say nothing.
As to our roads, I begin to dread their completion before winter. Our safety depends on them, and I have every man employed.
Disadvantages attending ‘private’ correspondence.
I am now answering your private note of 24th September. Your official telegrams upset all that your private notes convey in kindness, and make me most desirous of release from such a state of things, as it is plain that Government place no reliance on me.
The only trophy I can think of sending you home would be a pair of Russian field-guns. Let me know if you would like them. I have not myself one single trophy. All is under Commissioners, but I could get a couple of guns.
October 10, 1855.
As to recruiting Poles.
I cannot but admit that a depôt in England to which Polish recruits were to come might cause some embarrassment if it implied agency abroad. We have suffered so much from the imprudence and misconduct of agents that I would not trust them with any regular Polish recruiting, and the utmost I would do would be to allow Stütterheim 4 to inform them that, if they met with Poles willing to enlist, they might accept them as well as Germans and Swiss, and defray their expenses in the ordinary way to this country. When they arrive here, they might, if in sufficient numbers, be kept separate from the others, and always be sent off to Zamoyski by the first opportunity, leaving it to him to drill and organise them. . . .
THE GROVE, October 10, 1855.
As to Italian Legion.
. . . I would not abandon the scheme, 5 but, if the antecedents of Colonel Reade inspire you with confidence, I would put him at the head of it. I should, however, associate Hudson with him for the management of all civil concerns, and for communication with the Sardinian Government, who like him, and are desirous to oblige him personally and the British Government politically. I should inform him and Colonel Reade of the manner in which you propose to proceed, but I should call upon them in the first instance for a joint report as to the practicability of raising 5000 men — the means of housing, clothing, and feeding them, the quality and amount of further assistance that may be required, the time it would take to collect and to organise such a corps, and all other information they can furnish, and which will enable you to judge whether the experiment should be vigorously proceeded with or abandoned altogether.
PICCADILLY, October 10, 1855.
Arrangements affecting the Turkish Contingent and Polish Legion.
The arrangement which, in the mislaid letter, I recommended, as the one which it would be best to adopt, was that the Ottoman Cossack regiment of Cavalry now in Turkey should be at once taken into our service as part of the Turkish Contingent, and that the Porte should be urged to pay them up the arrears due. That Zamoyski should be authorised to add three battalions of Infantry (still to be portions of the Contingent), to be raised gradually one after the other. That some place here, Shorncliffe or other, should be appointed for officers and men to go to, to be inspected and approved by some officer of yours, assisted by a Pole to be named by Zamoyski, and that some moderate allowance should be made to cover expenses of coming here.
These troops might make an excess over the 20,000; 6 but a number of Turks equal to the excess might be given back to Omar Pasha, or the excess might be allowed to be absorbed by casualties among the Turks.
The Poles would be better troops and more manageable than the Turks.
It would be a good thing to settle this with Zamoyski at once.
October 11, 1855.
I have received your long letter of the 9th. The Turkish Contingent has been so much ordered about and counter-ordered, that I was astonished to see from your letter that it is to go now to Kertch, or perhaps already there; I was looking for it at Varna. I am glad of your determination not to rest till you have got the 20,000 men in full.
The German Legion and other foreign troops.
Your account of the German Legion is very satisfactory, as well as that of the Swiss. That the Italian should have failed at the outset, I am very glad of, as it would have been certain to prove a failure in the end. With the Poles the greatest care is required, as with them the Legion is merely a means to an end. If they are joined to General Vivian’s corps, much objection will be obviated.
Comparative estimate of Army of Allies and that of the enemy.
General Simpson’s last despatches are really too lamentable! He has got 26,000 British bayonets, with 6000 Artillery, and 3000 Cavalry — together some 35,000 to 38,000 fighting men; the French have about 60,000 out of 110,000, say only 55,000 without Cavalry and Artillery, the Sardinians perhaps 12,000 out of 17,000, and the Turks still from 20,000 to 30,000 between Sebastopol and Eupatoria. This makes together a victorious army of not less than 150,000 men, opposed to an enemy estimated by our timid Generals at the same number before the last bombardment, during which Prince Gortschakoff writes that he lost from 600 to 1000 men per diem during thirty days, the last three days costing him 18,000 men! Now General Simpson writes: ‘The enemy is doing what I always thought he would, strengthening himself on the North Side, with a view to holding it as well as the west of the Crimea. We cannot attack his impregnable position in front; the reconnaissance by Baidar has proved that, as we always thought, his left cannot be turned on account of the ground, and we dare not divide our Army! for we might be attacked, so we are making roads!!’
Supineness of General Simpson criticised.
How can a Commander-in-Chief believe that 200,000 men are sent to Sebastopol to make roads? If his account of our position be correct, how is the war to be carried on? Are we to remain checkmated upon our road-making position? What is to alter the position in our favour till next spring? Will the Russians then not be in twice their present strength? Will Bakshi Serai and Simpheropol not be impregnable fortresses then? When we wanted to move last spring, it was declared impossible because 90,000 men were wanted for the siege, the guarding the position. The siege is gone, the enemy defeated and dispirited, and now 200,000 men are said to be wanted to hold our precarious (?) position and make roads!
Really we must not allow such opinions to be uttered even by an English General! . . .
According to General Rose’s account, General Bosquet was wounded in the Mamelon, and not in the Malakoff; he seems as commanding officer of the assault, therefore, to have taken his position in rear of his columns, just like Sir W. Codrington, and the fifth parallel seems not to have been a safer berth than the Mamelon.
October 11, 1855.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to transmit the despatch this day received from General Simpson.
Simpson’s resignation — the grounds on which it shall be put.
Your Majesty will perceive among these despatches one containing General Simpson’s resignation, which Lord Panmure proposes in due time, and with Your Majesty’s permission, to accept. Lord Panmure, however, regrets to perceive that the General founds his official resignation upon an implied censure in a telegraphic message, which is not calculated to give his retirement the character which Lord Panmure would wish to attach to the close of the career of an old and worthy soldier, of undoubted bravery, but of no extensive scope of mind.
In that message there is not a word which Lord Panmure was not fully justified in using, not a word which the public will not stamp with its approval, and Lord Panmure thinks that General Simpson might have accepted the reproof without thinking it necessary to resign. The General has decided otherwise, and must be the best judge of his own feelings; but he is not the best judge of his own position, and in kindness to him as an old soldier, and likewise an old friend, Lord Panmure has offered by a telegram to place the resignation to the score of ill-health. If General Simpson refuses to accept of this offer, then he will leave himself entirely without defence in the unpleasant business.
Your Majesty will observe that the unusually long telegram of last night gives reasons for the non-erection of mortar batteries in our portion of the South Side. Lord Panmure does not concur, but is unwilling to urge their erection, in the face of Sir H. Jones’ opinion, until he has consulted professional opinions. Lord Panmure has intimated officially to Lord Clarendon Your Majesty’s intention to confer the Crimean medal on the troops of His Majesty the King of Sardinia, and likewise upon those of His Majesty the Sultan.
In the telegram which arrived last night, General Simpson still holds out the prospect of a general advance, should the French and English be able to turn the left of the Russians. Lord Panmure has no great expectations of any result from this piece of strategy now.
CRIMEA, October 13, 1855.
I have your Lordship’s despatch on the ‘Redan,’ the answer to which I must postpone till next mail, as I labour under the disadvantage of Sir Harry Jones’ absence, who, instead of returning from the Bosphorus, where he went for a few days’ change of air, has been invalided to England.
I will endeavour, as you desire, to be more communicative by telegraph. It is not so easy, however, in ‘private’ correspondence to be otherwise than guarded and dry, when I know it to be read by others, or perhaps given to the British Lion himself.
General Windham occupied the Karabelnaia only a few days, when he was obliged to quit, leaving a guard in the back premises, which are safe, with sentries at night to watch the harbour. The buildings afford much useful timber for our winter purposes.
I much regret to read in the postscript of your Lordship’s letter that you ‘have no hesitation in looking for the cause of my resignation in other sources than your telegraphic message.’ I am at a loss to guess your meaning.
It has not been easy for me to bear the treatment I have lately met with. I have been by every mail taunted with downright inactivity before the enemy, while I am at the same moment told to devote myself entirely to the roads and hutting of the troops for the winter, and as if to complete the censure heaped upon me, I am reproached with passing my time in absolute idleness.
I just ask you, my Lord, can it be wondered at that I am mortified and disgusted with such a state of things, and anxious to be released from it? I never for a moment dreamt of resigning the high position I hold, until these communications, continued by mail and telegraph, made me feel that I had no other alternative — inferring from them, as I do, that the Government deem me idling away my time, and that no confidence is placed in me.
Such is the true state of my feelings. I have, however, the strongest desire to cause no inconvenience to the Service, and will do my best until your orders reach me.
Inadequacy of Balaclava harbour.
I much regret that Balaclava is overworked! Admiral Fremantle tells me that there is more work there than can be managed, and great delay takes place in consequence. Fitting out expeditions, sending away Turkish troops, vessels arriving filled with supplies, also mules, drafts of men — all this at once cannot be done. Forty ships are outside and cause great anxiety. The Admiral has no hesitation in stating the port is not large enough for the demands made on it, particularly when called upon to embark troops. It will barely meet the demands of the winter, and will probably break down in many ways, and ships will be kept outside at the greatest risk. . . .
October 13, 1855.
I return the medical report with my best thanks. General Simpson’s argument for inaction is really condemning our 200,000 men to end their days on the Chersonese. ‘We cannot attack the strong position in front, nor turn it. We must not divide our Army, else the enemy might reach Balaclava.’!!
I have to-day written a long letter to Lord Palmerston about the chief command, suggesting a new mode of grappling with the difficulty: he will communicate it to you.
October 13, 1855.
The Sebastopol clasp.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and requests permission to submit to Your Majesty some observations in regard to the clasp for Sebastopol which Your Majesty has commanded to be given to the Army. Lord Panmure makes these remarks after conferring with Lord Hardinge, and reading the enclosed General Order which has been sent to him.
Your Majesty intends, Lord Panmure presumes, to grant this clasp as a reward for that long and severe duty which led to the fall of Sebastopol. If the clasp is confined to those who were present from the opening of the fire on the 5th September to the 9th, when the place fell, then many officers and men who have served in the trenches, and were from wounds or sickness entailed by such service compelled to be absent, will be deprived of the reward which their more fortunate or more hardy comrades have reaped. The consequence will be a cry for a clasp for the trenches, which it will be difficult to refuse.
Proposes an extension of those eligible for the Sebastopol clasp.
Lord Panmure humbly suggests to Your Majesty that the General Order should be so worded as to extend, not simply to the officers and men present from the 5th to the 9th September, but that it should include all officers and men who were absent on leave in consequence of wounds received in the trenches, or disease contracted on duty, and admitted by a Medical Board subsequent to the 1st March. All officers absent on leave for their own affairs should be excluded.
Such an arrangement will render any other clasp unnecessary, and the claim, if made, can be easily met.
Lord Panmure has the honour to enclose for Your Majesty’s perusal the embarkation-return of the 1st Regiment of the German Legion, with Colonel Kinloch’s report, which are most satisfactory.
PICCADILLY, October 13, 1855.
The country will not much care what the ground is on which Simpson places his resignation. They will be too glad to get a younger and more active commander, and will not stop to inquire why.
It struck me on reflection that, if the proposed draft should go to Simpson, instead of praising him for his care of the Army, it might be well to say ‘his attention to its wants or condition,’ or something of the kind.
Hypercritics might say that he did not take much care of the Army when he ordered such a forlorn and desperate attack as that on the Redan. . . .
PS. — A general who was conscious of being fit for his command would have shown (if he could) that he was not passing his time in idleness, instead of resigning in a pet.
The Turkish Contingent.
Recent despatches show that the Porte will have some difficulty in keeping up the Contingent to its proper amount of Turks; and, in truth, the arrangements made for organising it do not add a man to the aggregate force of the Allies, though those arrangements render a portion of that aggregate force more efficient by placing it under the command of British officers, and are a relief to the Porte by throwing upon England the charge of paying, clothing, and feeding a number of troops who would otherwise have to be paid, clothed, and fed by the Turkish Government. But the Polish regiments will be a clear addition to our aggregate force.
I hope that Beatson’s Horse, now amounting to 3000 Cavalry, may go to Eupatoria, where they could, as it seems to me, be the most usefully employed, whether under Beatson or Smyth, but under the superior command of Allonville. 7
They might, as suggested from Constantinople, have some other name than that of irregulars. They might be called Light Horse, or anything else.
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 14, 1855.
Since I wrote you last I have received your formal resignation, on the terms of which I have for your own sake thought it right to send you a telegram. I hope you may take the friendly advice I have given you and let me accept your resignation on the plea of health. To me personally it is of no importance, but to yourself of the very last. Let me lay the case before you as showing rather the reasons of my message than with a view of pressing it on you, for long before this reaches you the die will have been cast, and you will have closed your career in the East, either with such an acceptance of your resignation as it would give me pleasure to write, or with a bald acknowledgment of it, and such a cold intimation of the Queen’s pleasure as I shall be very sorry to have to transmit to you.
Moreover you will forgive me for saying you will not stand well when the correspondence sees the light, as it most probably will do. Think of it as you will, people will say that your resignation was hasty and my message did not warrant it, while you ought to have waited some despatch of censure and not hastily seized on an expression in a telegram to throw up your command.
His failure to supply due information.
Remember that you never gave me any reasons for your inaction, but simply stated the fact, and the Government was as ignorant of what was doing in Sebastopol as they were of what was doing in St. Petersburg. I have not, I can assure you, taken any feeling from the Press. Nobody condemns it more than I do, or is more willing to support you against it than I am, but I could not invent information, and unfortunately you furnished me with none. My rebuke, if you will so interpret it, in my telegram will not be considered sufficient ground therefore for your hasty resignation, and all the answer I can give to it is a simple acknowledgment and a notification of its acceptance by the Queen. If I do more, I must enter into a justification of my message, which I am quite prepared to do, though nothing would give me so much pain.
Reasons with Simpson as to grounds of his resignation.
Now if you take my advice, and whatever may be your real motive, make health the ground of your retirement, I can let you go with all the honours of your position recognised, and with such expression of approval as every officer must delight to receive at the close of his military career. I give you this information more in explanation than for any other purpose, and to show you that friendship alone has dictated my advice to you.
Your last telegram, on the subject of the movement of the French in Baidar valley, encourages me to hope for some movement in advance still.
Danger of inaction.
I perfectly admit that it is a critical thing to storm strong positions, but, on the other hand, it is dangerous to allow your enemy repose and to let him fortify the towns in his rear, so that to clear the Crimea you may have two of as pertinacious sieges to encounter almost as Sebastopol itself. I am glad you have sent Cavalry to the aid of the French at Eupatoria, and I hope that we may see some regular scheme laid out for interrupting the enemy’s supplies to the North Side. . . . Adieu. I hope nothing in our official correspondence will interrupt our private friendship.
THE GROVE, October 14, 1855.
After receiving news of fall of Kars.
The news from Kars is an indescribable relief, for the notion of Williams and Co., with 16,000 Turks, being starved into surrender with 100 guns has gone between me and my rest for a long time past. If Omar Pasha was worth his salt, he would have a word to say to those demoralised Russians before they sneak back to Tiflis.
I am glad I told Williams he was a K.C.B. before we heard this news, as it will show him that we didn’t wait for victory to appreciate his efforts.
This Kars affair is as great a blow to the military prestige of Russia as anything that has happened during the war. Mouraviev is their best General. He had 46,000 men, Cavalry in swarms, and some very heavy Artillery, and he has been routed by Turks and half-a-dozen English officers.
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 15, 1855.
Those that will to Cupar maun to Cupar, and I say no more on the subject of your resignation, which will be duly laid before the Queen when she comes up, and probably be accepted next mail.
We have decided on our arrangements, but as we have not yet submitted the decision to the Queen, I say no more about it. I have just signed your dispensation for G.C.B.
‘The glorious news of Kars.’
We have just heard the glorious news of Kars, and your telegram of the expedition to Eupatoria under Campbell has given great satisfaction. We expect you will force the Russians to break up; but if you do so now, how much easier it would have been had you done it after the 8th, while their army was disheartened and its organisation broken!
Repudiates the idea of being influenced by the Press.
I have nothing worthy of interest to communicate; but I cannot help observing that you do us wrong to suppose that we are led by the Press in asking for explanations of your inactivity. As far as myself, I am quite ready to justify my message before the public, or to argue it out with you over a bottle of claret when you come home.
PICCADILLY, October 16, 1855.
A difficult question which has arisen in connection with Beatson’s Horse.
I quite agree with you that it is impossible to allow an officer or a corps in the Queen’s Service to decide — the officer, whether he shall or shall not continue to command the corps; the corps, whether it shall continue to be commanded by the officer. Beatson therefore must be removed; and if the men refuse to serve under his successor, 8 the only question will be one of discretion, namely, whether they shall be subdued by force, or whether, in consideration of the peculiar character of the men, those who do not choose to continue to serve shall be dismissed, giving up whatever has been furnished to them in the way of arms, horses, clothing, etc., and be sent to find their way home. The objection in the first case would be that we might be obliged to kill some of our own troops, the objection in the second case would be that the disbanded men would rob and murder the inhabitants in their way home.
Perhaps by good management they might all be persuaded to remain, and notwithstanding the general prejudice against them, my belief is that, if sent to Eupatoria, or even to Kertch, but especially to Eupatoria, they would do us good service.
CRIMEA, October 16, 1855.
I thank your Lordship very much for the kind letter I yesterday received from you.
Fallacy of supposing that the fall of Sebastopol implies the end of the war.
I confess that, on reading your telegraphic message dated 26th ultimo, I was so surprised and hurt with the tone of it, especially as it followed some other intimations not very agreeable to me, that I really thought there was a desire at home to get rid of me, as not possessing the requisite qualities to meet the crisis which every one in England seems to have assumed to have arrived; viz., that we have only to run in upon a beaten enemy and hunt him out of the Crimea! There never was a greater fallacy.
The letter received yesterday does much to dispel this feeling, and if nothing has yet been done respecting my resignation, I beg you to act just as you may see fit; for, as you formerly mentioned, it is far from my wish to cause inconvenience or embarrassment to the Service by quitting it so suddenly, before the business of the campaign, or whatever is to happen, is decidedly put an end to by the season.
Anticipated action of the enemy.
I do not think, however, that the enemy will be so unwise as to hazard a battle. It is not their game. It is their duty to retain the North Side, so as to prevent our entering the harbour. They will do so, if by any means they can bring supplies to their army.
I assure you, my Lord, I am truly sensible of all the personal kindness you have shown me. All that you have done for me is far beyond my deserts or expectations, and I really feel ashamed at the honours lavished upon me when I reflect on the hard work of officers and men who have gained them.
But the turmoils of a command like this are too much for my age and health. Diarrhœa, which attacked me three months ago, has never left me, and wears me out. The doctors say that gout has to do with it, and that I cannot winter in this climate. But if not worse than I am now, I will endeavour to remain.
Progress of roads and their importance.
The roads are getting on, but they are a serious task — as much as the whole of the Infantry will be able to complete by the end of this month. Had we not been released from the trenches, the calamities of last winter would have been exceeded this year.
The huts we must now take as we find them, but fresh complaints come to me every day of huts arriving which, when unpacked, are found incomplete. I hope by degrees the missing pieces will cast up in other ships.
Improvement in Camps.
The Camps are getting a very comfortable set of kitchens, private roads of communication, and are in many other respects advancing favourably. . . .
We have up to this moment heard nothing of the expedition to Kinburn, which surprises me. The weather, which has been windy, may have proved against it.
PICCADILLY, October 17, 1855.
Your drafts are excellent. . . .
A question of strategy.
PS. — . . . Perhaps it might be well to tell Simpson by telegraph that the account we had about the Council of War at Nicolaieff did not imply that the Russians meant to attack the Allies, but rather that the Russians will not leave the Crimea till driven out by defeat in pitched battle. The allied commanders will therefore have to consider whether, by threatening the rear of the Russians by a strong force from Eupatoria, they will not compel them to detach from the camp on the north of Sebastopol a force larger than that which the Allies may send to Eupatoria, and whether such an operation would not therefore be advantageous to the Allied Armies to the south of the harbour.
PICCADILLY, October 18, 1855.
How to deal with General Simpson’s resignation.
I do not think that this telegram affords any reason for delay. We have all come to the conviction that Simpson ought to be relieved, and the only point on which we are liable to attack is our not having relieved him sooner. If his next by post is to be waited for, we lose ten days or a fortnight, and when his next arrives, if it should contain a withdrawal of his resignation, it would only oblige us to remove him against his will instead of accepting his resignation.
THE GROVE, October 18, 1855.
. . . I think your arrangement about the medals will do. . . .
Cowley has secured 50 officers’ and 500 Chevalier Crosses of the Legion of Honour.
Dissatisfaction of the French Emperor.
The Emperor is much annoyed with Pélissier’s despatches.
He says it is impossible to advance, that to attack the Russian position on Mackenzie is more difficult than taking Sebastopol, that every valley and approach is impregnably fortified, and that from Simpheropol to the sea is one great fortress.
His new plans.
The Emperor, accordingly, now talks of the Allies being compelled to retire on the lines of Kamiesch, and then completely destroying Sebastopol and re-embarking a great part of the Army, to come home or go elsewhere, holding Kamiesch, Kertch, and Eupatoria, and waging a defensive war till peace is made.
What do you think of that? It is not pleasant, and I fear that short harvest and financial crisis are at the bottom of it.
Will you look at a Sardinian despatch I send herewith, and which I have received from Azeglio? 9 It is now more than three months since we proposed to the Sardinians and Turks to join the Anglo-French Convention for the distribution of prizes. The former gladly accepted and sent full powers to Azeglio; the latter agreed, but (just like them) have done nothing more in the matter, so no Convention has been signed, and the Sardinians, not unfairly, I think, appeal to our good faith not to let them be injured by Turkish delay, and they ask to share in prizes as if the Convention had been concluded. We must consult the French Government, but I am disposed, if you don’t object, to recommend compliance.
The Emperor agrees to the destruction of the docks at Sebastopol.
WINDSOR CASTLE, October 18, 1855.
The Queen returns the enclosed drafts, which she approves. In that to Sir W. Codrington she has made a slight alteration in the concluding passage.
With regard to the drafts to Lord Rokeby and General Barnard, she wishes merely to observe that no notice is taken of the second supersession to which they are to be subjected, by the promotion of Sir W. Eyre to the command of the corps. They might serve under Sir C. Campbell, but would hardly do so under Sir W. Eyre.
The Queen wishes to have copies of the drafts as finally worded.
She has asked Sir George Grey to explain to Lord Panmure her views relative to the clasps of the Crimean medal, which she hopes he will agree in.
WINDSOR, October 19, 1855.
I am sorry to say that we cannot wait for your despatch, but as I anticipate it will say something on the score of health, I have determined to say something also in the letter announcing the acceptance of your resignation. By Monday we shall have decided on the whole arrangements, and you maybe preparing to make your exit from the Crimea, and hand over to your successor the cares and anxieties as well as the honours of your position. . . .
Expedition to Kinburn.
I am not very sanguine myself of any great results from this [expedition to Kinburn], but it will be something for the Navy to do, and they have been in sad want of it for some time back.
Having been ordered down here, I have not much in the way of bag to bother you with. There are some letters to be acknowledged and some movements to be approved, but they will keep till Monday. Among them is your transference of the Turkish Contingent to Kertch. I like this very well, and I hope before long Vivian will leave his card on Wrangel 10 at Amhet, and perhaps drop in on Kaffa. As soon as he gets himself shaken into his place, he will not rest long without making a sign.
I am at my wits’ end about these irregulars. I hope Beatson is half-way to England by this time, to pour his grievances into Ellenborough’s ear, who will doubtless fight his battle next session with elephantine vigour.
Condemnation of the Times.
The Times is worse than ever. You can have no idea what damage it has done our prestige abroad, and how it is daily injuring the fair name of England. . . .
I am sorry to see what you say about the road, but I trust your doubts will be dispersed and all yet be well. We shall keep sending you things to make you comfortable, and you must kick everybody and make them look alive to lodge themselves.
Whatever you may be by others, here you will be received cordially, and I trust you will be long spared to wander on my hills, and we’ll fight our battles over a social tumbler in the evening. . . .
Private and Confidential.
CRIMEA, October 20, 1855.
In answer to your Lordship’s ‘private and confidential’ letter of the 6th instant, I have to assure you that no human being here knows of the commission I hold for Sir W. Codrington. . . . I can any day send your packet home to you just as I received it, unopened.
Claims of Sir Colin Campbell as successor to Simpson.
Now, my Lord, without reference to my good opinion of Sir W. Codrington, which remains unchanged, I cannot but remind your Lordship that Lieut.-General Sir Colin Campbell is next senior to me in this Army, and I most respectfully beg leave to point out to you that it will have very serious consequences if Codrington, or any other junior to him, is placed over his head. Sir Colin has been forty-eight years in the Army, has seen a very large share of active service before the enemy, and is certainly an officer of great distinction and character.
Cavalry on enemy’s flanks.
You tell me, my Lord, to keep a considerable body of flying Cavalry on the Russian flanks! On their left flank it has been proved that no troops of any sort can operate; on their right I have already a Brigade of Light Cavalry, leaving me little enough here if the moment arrives to follow and harass the enemy.
General opinion held in Camp as to the Press.
I care not for the newspapers. I am not trying to please the Mob, but am endeavouring to do my duty. But it is the general opinion here that the Press is our ‘Commander’ at home, and by degrees your Lordship will discover the difficulty of finding an English gentleman to command an English Army.
Huts are arriving, but sad complaints still come to me how difficult it is to find, in one ship, one complete hut. The cargoes must have been meddled with at Malta or in the Bosphorus?
I am working for our winter existence! The whole Infantry is road-making, and it is a lottery if we can do as much as I desire before the weather breaks. It continues delightful at present.
The Russians appear to me firm in their position. Our Intelligence People state that they have ample supplies. This, I doubt; but no one can deny that it is their duty to keep us out of the harbour, and to winter in their lines as we do.
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 22, 1855.
I send you your release by this mail, and I hope the arrangements which we have made will not make a severe ferment in the Camp. We have chosen for the best, and I hope the despatches which I have sent to Rokeby, Campbell, and Barnard will reconcile them to the changes and the promotion of their juniors.
You may now give me your free opinion on our selection, which I have forborne to ask hitherto, as not desiring to place you in the invidious position of commenting on your brother officers.
All that has been done has been cordially approved by the highest authority.
Drunkenness in Camp.
I have just received yours of the 9th. I am sorry that drunkenness prevails so much in Camp. I will write to Codrington on the subject of finding amusements during the winter for the men, as well as putting a check on the sale of spirits.
I shall be glad to get a pair of Russian field-guns as a trophy, and you can send them home in any ship bringing invalids or stores.
Command to be given over to Codrington.
You may send for Codrington and consult as to when you will give him over the command, but don’t tell him or any one else that you held a commission appointing him to command in event of your removal suddenly.
Send me that commission in the next bag.
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 22, 1855.
Sir, — The Queen having been pleased, at his own request, to relieve General Sir James Simpson from the command of the Army in the East, the question of his successor has been a subject of most anxious deliberation with Her Majesty’s Government.
The principle of selection.
Her Majesty’s Government have well weighed the responsibility of their selection, and have been guided to it solely by the desire to place the command of the Army in the hands of that officer whom they consider best qualified for the various duties required of him. They are quite alive to the difficulties which may arise from adopting the principle of selection, in preference to acting upon that of succession by seniority, and to the risk of giving offence to those officers who are necessarily passed over; nevertheless, they feel bound to encounter these difficulties, thinking, as they do, that you are on the whole best fitted for the command of the Army.
The qualities required in a commander, beyond those of a merely professional character, are decision, firmness, temper, and well-regulated prudence. In addition to these qualities, the officer in command of the British troops at present serving in the Crimea must so conduct himself as to maintain inviolate the good understanding between the two countries, and to uphold the dignity and due weight of the British name in the councils of war.
Believing that they find a greater combination of these qualities in you than in others, but without the slightest disparagement of the courage, zeal, or ability of your companions-in-arms, Her Majesty’s Government have thought it right to recommend you to the Queen as General Sir James Simpson’s successor; and I have the satisfaction, by Her Majesty’s command, to intimate to you the high position to which she has been pleased to call you.
It will be your duty, as I am sure it will be your wish, to endeavour to reconcile, as far as possible, the senior officers of the Army to your promotion, and to secure the continuance of their valuable services to their country, in the different posts which have been assigned to them in the arrangements which I shall now proceed to explain to you.
Division of the Army into two Corps.
The British Army is rapidly increasing in numbers, and its organisation is not at present such as to render its movement in the field an easy matter. It appears to me, therefore, after due consultation with Lord Hardinge, desirable to divide the Army into two distinct Corps, consisting of three Divisions each, and with such proportions of Cavalry, Artillery, and Land Transport Corps, as shall be determined upon.
While you retain the supreme command, it is proposed to place two officers at the head of these Corps, the one being Sir Colin Campbell, and the other General Markham, and during his absence 12 Sir William Eyre.
The only suggestion which I will make is, that the Highland Division should form a portion of the Corps placed under Sir Colin Campbell.
I have written to that effect to Sir Colin Campbell, and I have also written to Lord Rokeby, and to Lieutenant-General Barnard, asking them to waive for the good of the Service their claims founded upon the principle of seniority, from which, on the present occasion, Her Majesty’s Government have thought it right to depart; and appealing to their patriotism to acquiesce in the arrangements which have been confirmed by Her Majesty’s approval.
Should these appeals fail in their object, I shall deeply regret it; as, the more I reflect on the best means of securing the success of the Army, and of maintaining its high character and reputation, the more I am convinced that the principle of selection for all posts of command must be followed out, notwithstanding the occasions which will arise of imputed acts of injustice — imputations which nothing but imperious consideration for the good of the Service, the high name of the Army, and the best interests of the country, would induce me to encounter.
With regard to yourself, I cannot impress upon you too strongly the delicate and responsible position in which a General in command of our troops is in these days placed.
Acting, as we are, in concert with an ally of high military renown, the greatest circumspection and caution are necessary on our part to maintain that cordiality of feeling and that unity of action which can alone lead to prosperous results, and cement that friendship between the two great nations of Europe on which the liberties and future peace of the world essentially depend. The eyes of your countrymen, likewise, will be fixed on you; naturally generous and forbearing, they are nevertheless impatient of inaction and irritated by reverses; but they are ever open to reason, and, when sufficient explanation as to disappointed expectations can be given consistently with the public interests, it ought always to be furnished.
Of the information to be laid before the country, you are not to be the judge; such responsibility it would be improper to place upon you, and it is your duty to give to Her Majesty’s Government the fullest details of every transaction: it will be for them to determine how far it may be expedient to give publicity to your reports.
By following this course, you will avoid one of the great mistakes into which your predecessors have unintentionally fallen, and you will beget a mutual confidence between yourself, as Commander of the Army, and the Ministers of the Crown, which cannot fail to secure you from much anxiety, and which will enable them to repel many of those imputations and reproaches, the injuriousness of which to the Army they have frequently felt, but which, in the absence of sufficiently minute explanations, they have found it difficult, if not impossible, to meet.
I will not add to the length of this despatch by further remarks, but conclude by assuring you of the warm support of the Queen and Her Majesty’s Government, and that they feel entire confidence that you will spare no means of rendering your promotion acceptable to the Army at large, by an earnest attention to its organisation and comfort, as well as by an exhibition of professional skill and boldness of enterprise which may enable the Army under your command to add to its already well-earned reputation, and that you will thus justify your selection by Her Majesty for this high and important post.
WAR DEPARTMENT, October 22, 1855.
I must introduce myself to you before I commence my private correspondence, and congratulate you, as a friend of your father’s, on the high situation to which it has been my great satisfaction to recommend you to the Queen.
Character of correspondence.
I have written you a public despatch with your commission, and likewise a confidential official despatch explanatory of the motives which have led to your appointment and the duties for which we shall look to you. I now proceed to dwell on some points which I can alone touch upon in the privacy of private correspondence. I have been in the habit of doing this with your two predecessors, and I shall, with your permission, continue it with you. It is no use concealing from you that since General Simpson resigned we have been seriously puzzled to find out the best man to command the Army, and finally we have fixed upon you as combining more qualifications in your own person than any one else. I will not flatter you by saying that we are without misapprehension in these new arrangements, but I feel confidence in your trying to do all in your power to justify your own appointment and reconcile your late seniors to your elevation. Much may be done in this way by a kind tone and gentle handling of the aggrieved parties, and this I shall look for from you. Sir C. Campbell will be the worst to conciliate, but I hope the letter I have written to him will have considerable weight, and moreover the division of the Army into two Corps, at the head of one of which he will be placed, may be some consolation to his offended dignity.
Advice and suggestions.
In regard to yourself, you will have to justify the selection of you by Government by the greatest earnestness, activity, and zeal in your new position, in which, I fear, you will find many an improvement to be made. It reaches me from all quarters that our Army has fallen into a laxity of discipline which is serious — that men pass officers of other corps than their own without proper respect, and pay insufficient respect to the orders they receive even from their own. I can trace much of this to the siege, but it must be expurgated by strict attention. I learn, too, from General Simpson’s despatches just received, that intoxication is prominent as a vice among our men; in soldiers drunkenness is a crime, and I sincerely hope you will find some means of eradicating this degrading habit. You will have to invent amusements for your men during winter, and, if you will get up a place, I will send you out some popular lecturers, conjurers, and different sorts of fellows, to distend the cheeks and empty the pockets of the overburdened with money. I would much prefer, however, to see them having the sense to send their money home. I sincerely trust that you will devote your attention to roads, huts, and running up stables for horses in charge of M’Murdo for winter, and on all these points I should like to hear from you two or three times a-week by telegraph.
Changes in commands and organisation of the Army.
The Queen having asked Lords Palmerston, Hardinge, and myself to Windsor, we there recast the different commands, and to some extent changed the organisation of the Army. I mention to you in my despatch the constitution of two Corps, and I hope Sir Colin will take the one, and, in Markham’s absence, that Eyre will have the other. I enclose you a programme of the divisional brigade commands, and those you should fix by General Orders as soon as you can. It will, I hope, be acceptable to you to have General Windham as Chief of the Staff, and, as he is your junior, naturally you will get on easily with him. I have no doubt, with a little management, you will be able to overcome your difficulties in your own Camp very soon.
Necessity of maintaining the respect due to the British name.
The French and Sardinians are next to be considered. I much fear, from Simpson’s paucity of French and mildness, he gave way a good deal to Pélissier, at all events the impression has got abroad that he did not stand up for his Army sufficiently in the Councils of War. You must watch this, and, of course avoiding anything which can be misrepresented as arrogance, you will firmly maintain the respect due to the British name. I am told of late that La Marmora has been more in the habit of taking orders from the French than us. You must check this. The Sardinians are essentially under British control, and should act under you, receiving orders from you and consulting you in their dispositions, etc. Of course you will duly recognise their nationality, and treat them with the respect due to their gallantry. You must tell General Simpson to give you the despatches to read up, and next mail I will see if I can furnish you with a brief of any importance recently sent. I beg your full confidence at all times, and you will find me quite open with you.
CRIMEA, October 23, 1855.
I have yesterday your letter and despatches of the 8th instant.
Inadvisability of bringing unseasoned troops to the Crimea at this time of year.
I did not think at this advanced season, and in our altered circumstances, that your Lordship would have sent the Swiss and Germans to winter here. When they come, I will do my best; but the winter cannot fail to be severe upon them under canvas, and without the comforts which our troops have been busy providing themselves with. These new-comers will arrive to pitch their tents either in snow or eight inches of mud. For the same reasons I have abstained from calling more troops from Malta. You tell me to do so, but I will await further instructions, as I think it will save many lives to suffer them to winter in Malta, where they are.
I saw Marshal Pélissier yesterday respecting the docks. They are now under the hands of the Engineers of both Armies, but I fear the Russians may make the locality too hot for them. The Admirals being all away in the Dnieper, we must act for ourselves.
Danger of squabbles with Allies is mainly on detachment.
With respect to the Turkish Contingent, I send a copy of my instructions to General Vivian, who, of course, I consider the senior officer in the Queen’s Service, and as such I look upon him. I am glad you think him well calculated to get on with the French; for it is on these mixed detachments, at Kertch, Eupatoria, or anywhere else, that the danger of squabbles with our Allies is greater than here at head-quarters.
Future movements of the enemy.
There is no change in our position. The enemy remains steady in his position, and we are under arms every morning in case of attack. But I do not think that his game. We cannot turn his flanks; I have always deemed it impossible, unless by a far larger force than we can spare to Eupatoria. It is the enemy’s duty to remain all winter where he is, and I see no reason to think that he will quit the Crimea, but on this point opinions differ.
I must still claim a few days’ delay in sending my reply to your Redan despatch. There is much writing in it, and I am anxious to have it as full and complete as you could desire. How you became possessed of Codrington’s letter I know not; but I did not send it, because it was never the practice of Lord Raglan to send anything more than his own despatch, which was framed on the various reports made to him by the officers employed. Copies of all these documents will now be sent home, and I much regret being called upon to transmit them. . . . One hundred and fifty-three officers fell there [at the Redan], in their noble endeavours to lead their men! . . .
After giving it as his opinion that the ‘best General for this Army would be Sir George Brown,’ the writer concludes:—
I sincerely congratulate Your Lordship on being made G.C.B. The hard work you must undergo deserves to be rewarded, and the Queen has a very judicious and flattering way of expressing her acknowledgment, which must be very gratifying to you in this instance.
THE GROVE, October 25, 1855.
Williams’s despatch will go to you officially, but I send this one privately, as I am sure you will agree with me that it should be in the Gazette to-morrow.
The defenders of Kars.
I enclose also his private letters (you will be pleased with the one of the 30th), which show what tough materials he is made of, and what gallant fellows he and his officers are. Pray consider what should be done for them; they ought to be rewarded and it ought not to be delayed. If you could write me a letter of approbation, it would please them more than a letter from the F.O.
THE GROVE, October 25, 1855.
The Emperor’s desire for British medals for his troops.
I have another letter from Cowley, saying that the Emperor 13 . . . attaches the greatest political importance to the distribution of the medals (without clasps, in the first instance) to the 9000 men on their arrival in France.
This is a large order, and of course cannot be executed if that slow-going mint is alone to be relied upon; but I feel sure that, if you would distribute the medals among two or three of the principal houses at Birmingham, you would soon get them both for the French and British Armies — there are the Sardinians and Turks besides. I don’t see why the workmanship should be inferior at Birmingham, as it is only a question of dies; but if it was, it would signify less than indefinite delay. . . .
October 25, 1855.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to enclose the despatches from General Simpson which arrived this morning.
Your Majesty will perceive that the General accounts for his reserve by the knowledge that his letters are read by others besides Lord Panmure. The Morning State is still improving, and no medical report has arrived by this mail.
Lord Panmure has received with much regret the account of an explosion in Woolwich laboratory, and forwards to Your Majesty the telegraphic notices of it. It was extremely fortunate that it occurred at the dinner-hour of the workmen, and therefore no one has been injured. The damage is not considerable. . . .
Russian plans found in Sebastopol.
Lord Panmure has received from Paris copies of some Russian plans found in Sebastopol, and evidently those made in the defence of the place. They are being traced for Your Majesty’s use, as likewise some old plans of the mouths of the Dnieper and the Crimea — more curious than useful at the present day.
General Simpson having informed Lord Panmure by telegraph that he had great fears that he could not hut the foreign corps, and that they might be exposed to hardships in the Crimea, Lord Panmure sent an immediate telegram to General Storks, 14 and he has undertaken to winter 3000 at Scutari or in the vicinity. Orders for the 1st corps embarked, to stop them, have been sent.
CRIMEA, October 27, 1855.
I yesterday received your letter of the 13th, in which you very kindly give me your advice touching the ground of my resignation. I am truly obliged to your Lordship, but as you tell me that long before your letter can reach me the die will be cast, I have only to leave everything in your hands, as my fate must ere this time have been decided, and it is too late for me to make health the ground of my retirement. There can be no doubt I might have done so, because I am far from well, and the doctor has often told me that I shall not be able to go on long without change of climate. . . .
I am prepared to stay on as long as I can, or until such time as your Lordship shall have fixed on my successor. I am very anxious to cause no inconvenience either to the Government or to the Service. I sincerely trust that, whosoever is chosen to succeed to the command, it may cause no resignations of senior officers. I still think Sir George Brown the best man, and no one can take offence.
I must plead guilty to the scantiness of the information sent home by me; but, I confess, I am quite at a loss to find anything new for daily transmission.
The British Army still a besieged army.
We continue to be, as we have been ever since I came to the Crimea, a besieged Army, the enemy extending in a semi-circle round us, from the mouth of the Belbec along that river up as far as Foti Sala, from whence to the sea the country is too mountainous for military operations. The Russians have thirteen or fourteen Divisions of Infantry, with numerous Artillery, and Cossacks without end. To turn their left flank has been found impossible owing to the nature of the country; and from Eupatoria I have no hopes of any great success, unless we could send some 50,000 or 60,000 men, which we never could do. This was the state of affairs on the 9th September, on the evacuation of the South Side of Sebastopol, and so it will continue throughout the winter, for the Russians will remain as they are if they have supplies. I see no reason to think they will move; if they do, it will be after the rains begin, when neither Artillery nor Cavalry can follow them.
What new information is to be found in such sameness to transmit by daily telegraph?
The enemy may still hazard an attack upon us, but I do not think he will.
Proper tactics for the British — a waiting game.
A forward movement on our part would be to risk every advantage we have gained by the fall of Sebastopol. Our game is to make no false move, to risk nothing, to appear to the enemy (whom we cannot reach) quite at our ease, preparing our winter quarters and making our roads. He would like nothing better than for us to attack his heights. His winter, if he stops, will be a much more disastrous one to him than for us.
This furnishes no news for transmission.
This being our daily and unchanging state, how I am to cater for John Bull and his Press I know not. . . .
In reference to the last paragraph of your letter, you may rely upon it, my Lord, that nothing that has happened in any way alters my feelings towards yourself.
I feel extremely grateful to you for all you have done for me. But I confess I have the strongest conviction that no officer can serve his country while the reign of the Press is paramount in England.
WINDSOR CASTLE, October 27, 1855.
Explosion at Woolwich.
The Queen thanks Lord Panmure for his letters. She is sorry to hear of the explosion at Woolwich. . . .
Poor General Simpson seems very much hurt and annoyed, which is vexatious, but we must, when he comes home, try to pour oil into his wounds and soften what may have appeared harsh, but was unfortunately true.
The Queen regrets to see that the hutting seems to go on so slowly — when the materials have arrived so late. She would hope that the disposition to drunkenness, which all the officers assure her was not the case during the siege, will cease when the Army is more actively employed.
Journals of Codrington.
Lord Panmure will see a very interesting and promising (as regards his future position) letter, or rather more journal, from Sir William Codrington, which shows how anxious he is for something to be done.
The Queen has also been reading one of older date, in which he does nothing but lament and wonder at the inactivity of the Army. His spirit seems excellent. When does Lord Panmure expect to receive the telegraphic answer to the despatches conferring the new appointment in the Army? When would the despatch arrive?
New appointments in the Army.
Are the appointments known here, or are they to remain secret till we hear of their being accepted? Possibly this would be the better course.
BELGRAVE SQUARE, October 27, 1855.
I have heard that our message of Monday was too late for the boat, by reason of an accident on the railway, and therefore the despatches conveying the changes in the Army will arrive with this.
Explanations addressed to Simpson.
These changes have leaked out to some extent, but not with any certainty, and my anxiety is that the truth should be known in Camp first, and the officers passed over get the letters which I have addressed to them. I hope you will feel yourself loosed from your command in a satisfactory manner. You have complained of the harshness of my telegraph superseding the kind expressions of my private notes. I think you do not make sufficient allowances for the curtness of a telegram. It goes to the point at once, and there is no room for anything but the ‘raw’ question or observation, as the case may be, which is of course sometimes unpalatable to sensitive minds. This I cannot help. But I may tell you confidentially that similar messages have been sent to Pélissier, and even more brusque, and have been quietly pocketed and rejoined to without any extreme step on either side.
You are the best judge of your own feelings, and I find no fault with you for your course, only don’t suppose that I had any intention of driving you from command by a side or underhand proceeding. That is not my way, and I was surprised to see you take the message as you did.
I certainly thought that you had seized it as a peg to hang up your resolution to quit the command, which was trying your health and physical powers more than you could long endure. It seems now that you have no other reason than sheer disgust at my unfortunate telegram. Well, so be it! I cannot think that it justified your act, but what is done cannot be undone, and we must make the best of it.
I shall be curious to learn the result of the announcement in Camp. I hear, in a letter from A. Stafford, 15 that my Army Works Corps have been employing a lot of men in erecting for themselves splendid accommodation, and making terraces, etc. If this is so, I strongly advise you, or whoever commands, to occupy them whenever finished, or put the superior officers of the Army into them. These men have no business to employ the Army Works Corps to make elegancies for themselves till the whole Camp is drained, housed, and in some comfort.
Proposals of the Emperor.
We have heard from the Emperor a proposal to circumscribe our line of defences at Sebastopol. He sends a despatch from Pélissier, in which he suggests the abandonment and destruction of Sebastopol, including works, docks, etc.
He further suggests that we should occupy lines from Kamiesch round to Balaclava, to be kept by about 70,000 men, and that the remainder, which he estimates at 100,000, should be withdrawn, but he does not say where to!!
Objections to the same.
The first thing that struck me in this proposal was the contradiction it gave at once to all his and your opinions as to the impossibility of dividing your force. If 70,000 men are sufficient to defend your depôts at Kamiesch and Balaclava, why have not 10,000 men been in movement for Eupatoria, or elsewhere, in operation on the flank or rear of the enemy?
Prospect of a Russian retreat.
We hear that the Russians will evacuate the Crimea: if they do this ‘mero motu’ and unmolested, it will be a triumph, and if Gortschakoff can effect an orderly retreat, saving his guns and conducting his battalions in decent organisation and safety to Perekop, he will rob you of your laurels and be the real General of the day.
I hope this may not be the case. The more they fire from the North Side, the stronger may be your presumption that they mean to decamp, and you and Pélissier will, I hope, be in a condition to pursue on the instant. I have got winter cantonments for my foreign troops in the Bosphorus, and will not overlay the Camp with them. I am glad to see that Beatson has not proved a true prophet as to his wild horsemen. Something may be made of these fellows yet.
Markham has got home, but they say he is quite broken. Stephenson dined at Windsor on Sunday, and I like his appearance very much. I believe he sails from Marseilles with this messenger.
F.O., October 29, 1855.
Puzzling conduct of the Emperor.
I enclose a letter from Cowley which arrived last night, and which will surprise and annoy you as much as it does me. I cannot understand the Emperor, but there must be something behind the curtain — either he is afraid of trusting Pélissier at the head of such a large army, or he thinks that, by withdrawing a portion of it, he shall economise and render another loan unnecessary; but whatever his reason may be, it will turn out the greatest miscalculation of his life if he carries out his present intention.
Pray return Cowley’s letter, which nobody has yet seen, but I send the Queen’s upon the former letter of Cowley, and it shows that H.M. as usual takes a right view. There are some matters in the letter which concern you, and require immediate attention. . . .
F.O., October 29, 1855.
Report as to British Cavalry going into winter quarters.
I think there must be some mistake about our Cavalry going immediately into winter quarters; but if it is true, I don’t wonder at the bad impression which it has produced at Paris, where we are urging more active operations.
October 29, 1855.
The arrangements for your relief were all settled before your telegram asking me to pause arrived, and of course long before your letter reached me this morning.
On your own account I am glad you are coming home, as I am quite certain you would have stayed too long for the chance of recovery from the diarrhœa which is fastening on you. You will receive from the highest personage in the land the greatest kindness you can anticipate, and from me a hearty welcome, whenever you come.
I have seen Markham to-day, and was shocked to find what a wreck hard work has made of him. . . .
I hope Lyons will place the Caradoc at your disposal at least to Marseilles, and indeed I would advise you not to risk the Bay of Biscay at this season.
The Foreign Corps to be quartered at Scutari and Smyrna.
I have nothing to say on public affairs. I have not sent the Foreign Corps to the Camp, in consequence of your telegram, but shall place them in quarters at Scutari and Smyrna by arrangements which I have despatched Colonel Lefroy to see carried out.
CRIMEA, October 30, 1855.
Your letter of 15th only reached me this morning.
I sincerely hope the plan you allude to as being settled regarding my successor may be a satisfactory one.
There is absolutely nothing to put into a military despatch to-day, and none is sent. Nothing whatever can be done about Kaffa and Arabat until the return of the Admirals from Kinburn, when I will instantly call a Conference as to what is to be done there. As regards Eupatoria, the transport by sea is not to be had in the absence of the Fleet at Kinburn.
The whole of our share of the field-guns taken in Sebastopol will be sent home; they will be delivered to the Ordnance Storekeeper wherever they are landed, and you have only to claim two of them. I have never interfered with the Prize Commission, and have not a single Russian trophy.
The Russians are again making bridges to cross the Tchernaya! And our spies again announce that they intend at all hazards to try another battle. I can hardly believe they will be so rash.
Our whole attention is given to the roads. They are in great progress, but far from finished. The weather still holds out as fine as can be wished.
There is nothing for me to communicate, and I am so poorly to-day that I can hardly see to write at all.