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Crimean texts


The Times 6.4.1855 p 6


From the Huddersfield Examiner

COMBATANTS IN AND AFTER A BATTLE

So Ben wants to know more of the way we actually fight. I suppose he has half a wish to experience it, if not too dangerous. Well, this for him. Our first experience of the enemy was anything but pleasant, being round shot and shell, which quickly took the life of many a brave fellow, and consequently heated the blood of the living, who, after asking permission, flung away their great-coats and rushed on to the fight, ours being the only regiment that day that fought with the red coat fully exposed to view — an advantage, I think, for our gray great-coats are too much like the Russians to be easily detected from them in foggy mornings. Now, Ben, came the work. When the hill up which we ascended was surmounted, a long line of skirmishers (Russians) were seen. One volley and cheer, and then the bayonet, which, for Ben’s information, the Russian seldom waits for; if he does, our firelock is brought to that position ready for use, called the ‘charge,’ and, first parrying, if required, our enemy’s thrust, is driven to the socket through any part of the body we can reach, the upper part the better. Does not that seem dreadful to you at home? and no doubt so it is, and cursed be he that causes it! But in battle our feelings are different. The passion to kill and destroy is raised within us; our blood boils for revenge for the comrade that a minute before you had seen ripped open by a shell, or perchance whose brains are bespattered on your person. It is then the demon of war is within you, and the work of death is but as sport; for fear goes from you, and but one idea fixes itself in your brain, and that is, there are enemies in front, and your mission is to destroy; and how the British ‘missionaries’ (no sneer intended) did their work at Inkermann, tell me not I boast if I confide it to history to tell. On returning to camp you first asked yourself, ‘Am I safe?’ and then you wondered how you escaped. You next look round your tent, and, as was the case in mine, saw three poor fellows with bandages on different parts of their persons, with merely, ‘I see Jack, you are winged,’ or ‘Tom, the Russ has spoiled your countenance today,’ and ‘How did it happen?’ and no more is thought of the matter. Another glance round shows that our number was deficient of two. A little inquiry determines their fate. One was ripped open by a shell, and the other was stretched at full length, and with the exclamation ‘Poor fellows! they were good soldiers,’ the matter is dropped. Everyone sets to work to boil a cup of coffee, drinks, rolls his blanket round his head, and sleeps without dreaming that but a mile or so from him lay 10,000 beings that he has assisted in destroying. Such is all a soldier thinks of a bloody fight. In quiet hours after they sit and talk of the event; but not as if it were the extraordinary thing that is ushered throughout the world.

Huddersfield Examiner.


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