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The Times 1.4.1863 p 5

REVIEW


KINGLAKE’S INVASION OF THE CRIMEA

(Continued from The Times of March 23.)

The circumstances under which Lord Raglan announced to his colleague the abandonment of the plan to which he had promised to give a vigorous co-operation are stated by Mr Kinglake very authoritatively.

It was about 1 o’clock in the day when Lord Raglan met St Arnaud. The Marshal joined him on the left front of De Lacy Evans’s division. Lord Raglan presently rode on with St Arnaud alone, and scanned the lines of the enemy. An anonymous General officer, who must be Mr Kinglake’s informant, and is, no doubt, “Airey,” joined them at this interesting period. The Generals were reconnoitering, but were not communing together. “It was not according to Lord Raglan’s nature to explain to men their errors, and it seems he spoke so little that St Arnaud did not yet know what the English General would do.” (Page 251.) The Marshal at last put up his telescope, turned to his mute ally, and asked him plumply “whether he would turn the position or attack it in front.” And Lord Raglan then and there informed the French General for the first time that he would attack in front. At this moment Bosquet was actually engaged in making his turning movement on the right. The Marshal rode off to his centre. It is no wonder if, at the close of the day, he gave a tart answer to any communications from Lord Raglan.

It has been the custom to describe the position on the Alma as one of exceeding strength. It was, doubtless, one which possessed elements of great strength, but certain conditions were essential for their development. The weakness of the position lay in the fact that its extreme left could not be held in face of a naval force co-operating with an assailing army. That flank was therefore exposed to be turned by an enemy active enough to mount the cliffs. The army which occupied the Alma was much inferior in numbers to the Allies, — it was too small to hold the whole line in proper force. The Sixth Army Corps, to which the greater portion of the enemy’s battalions belonged, was not a corps d’élite. Chodasiewicz states that they were all young soldiers (p. 73). The Allies faced them with several corps d’élite — Guards, Rifle Brigade, Highlanders, Zouaves, Chasseurs. The ground near the sea was swept by the fire of the shipping, and the enemy could not occupy it in force. The cliffs were so steep, however, that the column of Bosquet’s division under Bouat, which ascended to the plateau after fording the river at the bar, could not get up its guns, and was exposed to the fire of four pieces which the Russians had covered by some 900 or 1,000 infantry and a body of horse.

The other brigade under Bosquet in person crossed the river at a more favourable spot, and forced 12 guns up with difficulty. The Russians, seriously alarmed at this successful beginning, poured reinforcements from their centre and right to overwhelm Bosquet. Bouat, without guns, hesitated to advance. Bosquet’s position became exceedingly critical. In this conjuncture St Arnaud ordered the advance of his left under Prince Napoleon, and left centre under Canrobert. The Russians availed themselves of the advantages afforded by the heights on which they stood dominant, and concentrated a heavy mass of infantry on the central ridge of their left, while they swept the edge of the cliffs with a tremendous cannonade. As Lord Raglan had positively declined to make a flank attack, and as he had moreover stated distinctly he would attack in front, there seems no reason why he should not have at once ordered an advance without waiting for the development of a plan he had rejected. His troops were lying down inactive, and suffering under fire. Several times he was informed that, although Bosquet had established himself on the right, the French were in an awkward position. Lord Raglan was, however, in an arch mood, and jested with a French aide, when he came to tell him how Bosquet was placed, about the euphemistic word “compromise.” Lord Raglan “bore a singular hatred against it” (p. 294). St Arnaud anxiously desired him to advance. Bur Lord Raglan cared very little for that. It was not, Mr Kinglake would have us believe, to aid his ally or to keep his word that Lord Raglan gave the order. He was told, indeed, if he did not advance the brigade under Bosquet would be compelled to retreat. The motive his Lordship avowed to Mr Kinglake for ordering the British troops to take part in the engagement was “that he could no longer endure to see our soldiery lying down without resistance under the enemy’s fire” where he had placed them (p. 296). Airey “had begun to wield great power.” “Most of the other men on the Staff looked like mere spectators or messengers,” — an agreeable description of “the plumed twenty,” — but there was “care, vexing care, on the lean, eager, imperious features of Airey,” who, with swooping crest and salient nose and chin, must have been very unlike the common-place gentleman we meet in the Park. Mr Kinglake, having dwelt on the abortive efforts of the French, proudly asks, “Was it time for the English General to take the battle into his own hands?” Then he describes how Lord Raglan, having ordered the British line to advance, proceeded to take the battle into his hands by riding away, far away from it.

The British line, when ordered to advance, did so in such a fashion as we hope no line of British troops will ever be obliged to follow. Although Mr Kinglake draws little black lines, the artifice of which we cannot expose here, to show that the French covered but a small part of the enemy’s front, he is obliged to state (p. 254) that their left, under Prince Napoleon, pressed on the right of Evans’s division so that the latter was obliged to take ground to his left. The French, therefore, took all the ground assigned to them. It is Mr Kinglake’s delight artfully to praise men so as to destroy their reputation as soldiers. So it fares with the General of the Light Division. Sir George Brown was near-sighted, and not only refused to wear glasses, but had such “an almost violent sense of duty,” and was so fiery and energetic, that he would not let other men see for him. He deployed his splendid division in such a manner that the regiment on the right was overlapped by the left and centre of the left brigade of Evans’s division. One of his brigadiers, Codrington, was near-sighted, but he wore an eyeglass fastened to the peak of his cap. Buller, the other brigadier, was also near-sighted, and wore spectacles. Mr Kinglake censures this appropriation of Generals with imperfect vision to the leading division of the army. Sir George Brown did not see the error, nor did his brigadiers. Lord Raglan sent Sir George orders to correct the formation, which were not obeyed. Then Lord Raglan himself rode over, and told Codrington to take ground to the left. A moment afterwards, thinking probably of the tremendous rage of his only confidant, “he recalled his wholesome word” (p. 255). “Then, unhappily,” says Mr Kinglake, “when he had uttered the very words which would have thrown the British army into its true array, and averted much evil, Lord Raglan was checked by his ruling foible. He had already sent the order to the divisional general” (who had not obeyed it), “and he could not bear to pain or embarrass him by pressing the execution of it on one of his brigadiers” (p. 255). Sir George Brown seems to have lost all his Staff on crossing the river, as Mr Kinglake says he had no one to carry orders. What he led of that well-drilled Light Division was but “a crowd.” “A long immersion in the Adjutant-General’s Department” (p. 314) was but a poor preparation for an immersion in the Alma. Mr Kinglake ridicules “the inert enemy, the belt of garden, the fordable stream” (p. 314), which sufficed to “make Sir George Brown despair of forming his men,” and shows how he “suffered his Division with its famous name, in itself a great inheritance of glory, to lapse into a mere throng of brave men;” how his practice of the “sort of industry” called discipline “had not at all helped to school him for the command of a Division in war time” (p. 314). Indeed, Mr Kinglake makes the General, whose conduct Lord Raglan so highly eulogized, a blind, obstinate, incompetent old blunderer, who rode in among the Russian skirmishers “flushed and angry — angry, perhaps, with himself or angry with the gardens, and the walls, and the perverse windings of the stream” (p. 316), as he is probably angry with Mr Kinglake, his pens and his paper, his phrases, and his charming book. Sir George was not shot only because these Russians have a deep reverence for rank; and because there is, Mr Kinglake thinks, “something in the bearing of a fearless near-sighted man” which disturbs the reckonings of people able to see. Among these polite skirmishers we leave Sir George. General Codrington, in default of orders, and not knowing what to do, is going at the guns above. “Accustomed to hunting,” he dashed up the bank and led a part of the crowd up towards the redoubt. On his right was another hunting man, Lacy Yea, leading all he could get — perhaps less than half of his Fusiliers — to whom the left bank of the Alma, covered with Russians, was very like the side of a Somersetshire lane. There were hundreds of skulkers at both sides of the river, but the men of the Rifle Brigade, of the 19th, 23d, 33d, and the 7th, who swarmed up to that grim earthwork, neither sportive nor surly, but very earnest and very resolute, were the “pure metal” which had separated from “the dross,” in the heat and fire of battle. The noisy shouting throng Mr Kinglake spiritedly and too truly describes did good work. Colonel Norcott has cleared his own name and that of his gallant riflemen from Mr Kinglake’s charges, which would have gone to deprive them of the credit assigned by Lord Raglan to their efforts. Sir Colin Campbell saw the Russians moving the guns from the redoubt before the First Division crossed the river. The Light Division drew the teeth of the batteries and carried the great epaulement. Mr Kinglake asserts that the Duke of Cambridge did not push on his Division with sufficient rapidity to their support. We believe Sir George Brown not only enjoined his Royal Highness not to press too closely on his heels, but said he would send him a request to advance when the time came. The Duke had at this moment little help from his subordinates. Sir Colin Campbell was away with his Highlanders. Bentinck, who commanded the Brigade of Guards, is only once introduced in this history, as asking a very foolish question, and is then lost in smoke and obscurity. But, while the Duke was waiting for orders, “Airey,” who seems to be the deus ex machina of our playwright, came up, and urged the advance of the First Division. Whether he did so before or after Sir De Lacy Evans took on himself to send Colonel Steele, in the name of Lord Raglan, to order the Duke to advance we cannot determine. The Duke might well have hesitated to commit an error at such a moment. But the First Division was ordered to go on. Just as some Frenchmen said “We are massacred,” some Guardsman, we are told by Mr Kinglake, cried out, when the men began to fall, “The Brigade of Guards will be destroyed.” Sir Colin Campbell was at hand when the words were uttered. He was not one whom Lord Raglan ever consulted, but the Duke paid attention to his counsels. The sketch of the career of that officer deserves to be attentively read by the friends of the system this book is intended indirectly to restore. “A dense crowd of families, men, women, and children, armed with strange precedents, and making it out that people who had seen no service should be invested with high command, stood between Colin Campbell and his Queen” and proved that he should be only a colonel. They succeeded in deferring promotion till the news of it could have little charm for him who sought it for his friends’ sake rather than his own. When the question suggested by the officer of inferior rank was put by an officer of higher rank, Sir Colin gave a famous reply. Again the Guards moved, with the Highlanders on their left. The world knows what followed. Officers of experience supplied the want of the errant Commander-in-Chief, who, “led by a golden chance” to a distant knoll, was gazing on the struggling Divisions as if he were looking down from Cæsar’s camp at an Aldershott field-day, criticizing the manœuvres. Lord Raglan suggesting nothing, ordering nothing, crossed the river, and left Evans on the right to his own devices. He also “knew that the distance between him and the scene of the struggle at the redoubt was too great to allow of his tampering with it” (p. 387). While the terrible fight was going on he spoke to Mr Kinglake. “He spoke to me, I remember, about his horse” (p. 387). He “was tormented” by the sight of a young French aide-de-camp standing bareheaded before him (p. 388). He was “enlivened by the progress of a great undertaking,” in which he had nothing to do — “without being robbed of his leisure” (p. 387). “By the joyous animation of the moment he was led into a part of the field which he would not have sought to reach in cold blood” (381); and, as he was not an “ideal commander,” he lost the government of his troops in the critical period of the action. The French were gaining slowly on the enemy on the right, but were checked in the centre; the English right, under De Lacy Evans, who had lost nearly every officer on his staff, and was himself badly hurt, could only advance step by step, marking every foot by dead and dying. The English left, under Brown, was broken and, with the exception of the 7th, retiring down the hill. The Scots Fusiliers, the centre of the Guards, were in disorder. “The whole face of the battle” — this is what is deliberately asserted (p. 508) — “was suddenly changed by the two guns which Lord Raglan brought up to the knoll, for not only did their fire extirpate the causeway batteries, and so lay open the pass, but it tore through the columns of Prince Menschikoff’s infantry reserve, and drove them at once from the field.” The Russian centre being thus discomfited by the two guns, the left was obliged to retire. “Meanwhile, the Russian right was broken, and turned to ruin by the Guards and Highlanders.” These pieces belonged to Turner’s battery, which De Lacy Evans was urging forward at the time. How many rounds may we suppose the two guns fired? While they were on the knoll not a dozen! — nay, it is believed by those who ought to know, not more than five or six. The Staff officer, whose letters we have quoted, declares “two shots” were sufficient to cause the retreat of the whole of the 18 guns. What caused the Russians on the left to give way is not very distinctly stated by Mr Kinglake. He does not attribute it to Lord Raglan’s two guns. Mr Kinglake claims for the two guns, however, the honour of breaking the Russians before the French turned the left. Prince Menschikoff, in his report (Elphinstone’s Siege, appendix, p. 107), distinctly states the contrary:— “The left wing having thus become turned, it became impossible to maintain for any length of time the position of our centre and right wing, where heavy losses had already occurred.” Chodasiewicz (p. 69) says an aide-de-camp brought word to Kiriakoff that the left was turned before the Vladimir regiment was seen engaged with the English. Anitchkoff, indeed, says the left resisted up to the moment of the retreat of the right and centre; but his account abounds in errors. Mr Kinglake admits (p. 487) that the retreat of Kiriakoff’s battalions on the left and the advance of the French took place at the time the most advanced battalion of Guards was getting out of the river. The affair of the Telegraph, therefore, took place before the Guards and Highlanders were engaged. What we did was glorious and difficult enough. There is no need to decry our allies or to sacrifice reputations on the shrine of a departed deity.

Mr Kinglake has boldly denied that the French were engaged at the Telegraph Tower. In contemporary accounts of the battle the existence of the tower and the actual occurrence of a severe contest around it are taken as matters of equal certainty. In Letters from Head-Quarters, it is stated (p. 164, edition of 1856),— “About two miles from the sea was an unfinished stone tower, probably intended as a telegraph station. Round this the enemy constructed a low parapet, in which they had placed some field guns. This, again, was protected by large masses of infantry.” Again he says (p.181),— “In the meantime, our allies, had carried all before them. After a most sanguinary struggle at the unfinished stone tower, of which I told you, they succeeded in driving the enemy off the field.” In the plan he marks it, “Unfinished Stone Tower, Russian Telegraphic Station. N.B. The principal fighting of the French took place at this point.” There were two other British officers present at the battle of the Alma who have given to the world the result of their personal observation. One is Colonel John Adye CB, a thick and thin supporter of “as you were,” who first blew the key note on his trumpet which Mr Kinglake has since given forth with the full power of his great brass band. What he says (Review of the Crimean War, p. 49), is this:—

“It was about 2 pm when the French gained the crest, and Canrobert then found himself face to face with the left centre of the Russian army, concentrated near an unfinished telegraph tower. His own artillery had been obliged to make a detour to gain the heights, and had not joined him; that of the enemy, hitherto engaged with Bosquet, now turned and concentrated their fire upon his columns. The Prince Napoleon, on his left, also met with equal opposition. St Arnaud then ordered forward General Forey’s two brigades of the reserve. Arriving with their artillery, they gave timely support to Canrobert and Prince Napoleon; at the same time Bosquet continued to advance along the heights and threatened the Russian left, which enabled Canrobert to order an attack to the front, and the enemy were then driven back., retreating with heavy loss. Thus far the battle in this direction was gained, the French having accomplished a most difficult and gallant advance, for which their activity and dashing qualities were well suited.”

The other officer is Colonel Bruce Hamley, who was Adjutant to the first division of the field batteries.

“The progress of the French against the heights in their own front was marked by puffs of musketry as they swarmed up; their advance was steady and incessant. On the plain at the top a small building, probably intended as a signal station, had been left unfinished, with the scaffolding still round it, and this was the point most hotly contested against the French.” — Campaign of Sebastopol, p. 26, 27.

As to the nature of the contest Colonel Hamley speaks from personal observation. The morning after the battle he visited the front, and we invite the attention of the readers of Mr Kinglake’s book to the consideration of the following passage:—

“But it was not till reaching the plain on which stood the unfinished signal tower, already mentioned as the contested point in the French attack, that there appeared signs of a sanguinary conflict. Many Russians lay dead there, and they lay thicker near the signal tower, the hillock on which it was built being strewn with them; three or four had been bayoneted while defending the entrance, and in the narrow space within, which was divided into compartments, were three or four small groups slain in the defence; another spot near contained 300 or 400 corpses.”—Campaign of Sebastopol, p. 36.

The fashion in which Mr Kinglake deals with this matter is characteristic of his animus towards the French, which is derived from the inspiration under which he writes. He says (p. 487), that when the Russians retired the French pushed swiftly forward towards the Telegraph, because they felt the need of a purpose, and some of the more active men, running on in advance, planted their colours on the building — one of them, Lieutenant Poitevin, “it is said,” being killed in the act. Joy, warlike ardour, the instinctive longing of the young soldier to keep on discharging his musket, the sight of Lieutenant Poitevin’s body, were causes enough for the abundance of firing on the part of these ridiculous French, and then, when they had made a great smoke, they would keep on firing into the vapoury mound. Besides, the artillery was playing on both sides, and the fire from the Russian guns may have had some effect, “for it is certain several Zouaves were struck down there.” In fact, there was “much of the appearance of real fight at the Telegraph.” Mr Kinglake quotes M Du Casse, whose Précis Historique was published in 1856, and argues that there was no belief in the fight among the French army, because “the capture of the Telegraph is disposed of in terms which do not necessarily denote any kind of infantry fight. ‘Le Télégraphe, clef de la position, est enlevé.’” Kiriakoff, who commanded the left, in a narrative translated for Mr Kinglake by a gifted young Russian, “does not say a word of any such struggle.” Anitchkoff, indeed, describes the regiments which were near the tower, in front of Canrobert, as engaged in severe conflict — “se défendèrent de la manière la plus opiniâtre, et disputèrent a l’ennemi chaque pouce de terrain.” Mr Kinglake asserts it was all a delusion. It was merely a cloud of smoke made by the French soldiers. “At length,” winds up the historian, “the state of the smoke allowed men to see there were no Russians near. Then the close of what resembled a fight was joyfully hailed as a victory.” (p. 489). St Arnaud, galloping up, thanked his Zouaves. But, Kiriakoff does not say a word about the fight at the Telegraph: ergo, it did not take place. The application of this canon of criticism would lead to a woeful disbelief of the most glowing incidents of this very brilliant history itself. Anitchkoff does not mention the Telegraph tower at all. Will Mr Kinglake assume, therefore, no such building existed? Neither Anitchkoff, Chodasiewicz, Kvetzinsky, Menschikoff, nor any of the French say a word about the Knoll and the plumed twenty, and those two wonderful guns. Applying Mr Kinglake’s canon, we might say no such incidents ever occurred.

The French official accounts state their total loss at 1,339, among whom were 3 officers killed and 56 wounded. The Russian official accounts give their losses at 5,709, but Mr Kinglake implies they are not to be trusted, and that they amounted to “a much higher number,” whatever that may be — whether 10,000 or 15,000 we know not. Anitchkoff, speaking of the French and English official reports, treats them very cavalierly:— “Ces rapports méritent peu de confiance,” and he argues à la Kinglake, by induction and eduction, that “les Anglais avaient éprouvé une perte qui peut ne pas être évaluée à moins que 3,100 hommes.” He does not challenge the French account specially. But Mr Kinglake tells us Lord Raglan came to the belief that the whole loss of the French in killed was 60, and in wounded 500. With a rare candour, for which we give him credit, Mr Kinglake adds that, knowing what the grounds of that belief were, he does not think they warranted Lord Raglan’s conclusion. It is plain that, in dealing with our Allies, the old Secretary of the Duke of Wellington was forced to use a dissimulation, hateful and irritating to his nature. He believed the French tried to shipwreck the whole expedition by misplacing a buoy. He regarded them as utterly untrustworthy. He did not credit them in any matter whatever. In this affair of the returns he was satisfied that St Arnaud and his Staff “intentionally” falsified the returns. Perhaps Lord Raglan trusted the soldier who told Mr Kinglake the French loss was “fifty.” At any rate, he thought the loss “impossible,” because the French had no fighting. So said the “private” voice of Lord Raglan. What said his public voice?— “General Order No. 1.— Head-quarters, Alma River, September 22.— The conduct of our troops” (he writes to the world and to his own army) “was in unison with that of our gallant Allies, whose spirited and successful attack of the left of the heights occupied by the enemy, cannot fail to have attracted their notice and admiration.” In his despatch to the Duke of Newcastle, giving an account of the battle, Lord Raglan writes, “I will not attempt to describe the movements of the French army; that will be done by an abler hand. But it is due to them to say that their operations were eminently successful, and that, under the guidance of their distinguished commander, Marshal St Arnaud, they manifested the utmost gallantry, the greatest ardour for the attack, and the high military qualities for which they are so famed.” (Despatches and Papers, p. 12) Such a strain would have proved too much for the consciences of many men, and they would have entreated permission to leave a command which imposed on them such burdens. Lord Raglan believed that our proportion of 362 killed to 1,448 wounded was usual, being about 1 in 41/2. But when he comes to the French he arrives at the curious and “conclusive” result, which he states privately, that their killed were as to their wounded as 1 in 81/2 — a most remarkable and unaccountable circumstance.

The enemy were beaten; why was there no pursuit? At the end of the action Lord Raglan had two regiments of Adams’s Brigade, the whole of the Third Division (England’s), consisting of six splendid regiments, and numbering about 4,500 men, the 20th, 21st, 68th, and 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade, untouched. All his guns, save two, were perfectly efficient; ammunition was abundant. Altogether, the English General was in a fit state to have made an onward movement with 1,000 sabres, 50 guns, and 12,000 infantry. The 77th, 88th, 42d, 79th, and 93d, though engaged, had lost very few men, and would have formed a reserve in support of the movement, and a cover to the shattered battalions of the Light Division, the Guards, and Pennefather’s brigade. Why did not Lord Raglan advance? Because he was waiting for the French. He sent an Aide to request they would advance. His request was not complied with. “Airey,” at the same time, sent off Colonel Steele to St Arnaud with a similar demand. He was met by a refusal. Here is one of the peculiar junctures in which Lord Raglan’s “ascendant” would have been truly valuable. Mr Kinglake is hard-set to get out of the difficulty, and can only suggest that Lord Raglan was a diplomatist, charged with the care of the French alliance, as well as a soldier in the field. He is fain to admit, however, that, if Lord Raglan, whose disposable force he much underrates, had ordered his cavalry and England’s Division to advance, St Arnaud would have been compelled to follow (p. 497). Mr Kinglake’s last words indicate his opinion of what we lost — “Upon condition that they would lay instant hands on the prize, it, ‘the battle,’ gave them Sebastopol.”

If any person entertained the idea that Lord Raglan was a great General his notion must be rudely dissipated by the exact statements in this work. We are not permitted to think that he had even the most moderate capacity in the field. No more heavy blow could be aimed at the reputation of a nobleman, whose memory was dear to many of his countrymen, and whose name was respected by all — for he died in harness and in the face of the enemy — than the publication of this book. Of the private recriminations, animosities, bitter correspondence, and contradictions which have come out of these acrid pages, it is not our duty to speak — of the public characters assailed we are not here the defenders. Mr Kinglake is the enemy of the French alliance, but his mode of warfare may well deserve the epithet of “ignoble.” Although he does not employ “clever parsons” to ascertain the direction of public opinion — and, if he did, the information might not be altogether to his taste — he keeps obsequious squires to dip their pens in his ink-bottle, and retains counsel to hold briefs in his behalf. Mr Kinglake stated that Lord Palmerston resigned office in 1853 in consequence of the undecided instructions to the English Admiral given by his colleagues in the Cabinet after the affair of Sinope. Lord Palmerston did nothing of the kind. He dissented from the project of a Reform Bill, then under consideration, and tendered his resignation on that account solely.* Unless Mr Kinglake and his friends are bent on a post hoc, propter hoc, they will find such is the case. We expressed our disbelief in the story that the French misplaced a buoy, either from greediness of space, sheer mistake, or a scheme more profoundly designed to mar the landing in the Crimea. The story, it is said, rests on the authority of a letter from the British General. Lord Raglan was all night on board the Caradoc. He went on board the Agamemnon about 7 o’clock on the morning of the 14th of September. If Admiral Lyons in the dark found the buoy was misplaced, he must have seen it. If he saw it, there was not a man on deck that morning before dawn who must not have seen it too. Captain Mends’s word should carry more weight with it than the assertion of any amateur, and he was more exactly conversant with the facts than even Sir Edmund Lyons. Captain Derriman, a smart, observant officer, whose vigilance is mentioned in Lord Raglan’s despatch, and who was acquainted with everything that occurred, heard of this matter, we are sure, for the first time from Mr Kinglake’s book. With the evidence of Captain Mends, who was in charge of the Agamemnon, and who actually managed the whole details of the voyage across the Black Sea, as well as of the landing, with the testimony of the able master of that ship, Mr Bower, now commander of the Royal Yacht, who conned the Agamemnon, and with all the facts we can collect before us, we must express our opinion that Lord Raglan was misled, though we are willing to admit Mr Kinglake had his authority for the repetition of the story without the gloss attached to it.

We mention these matters, because an attempt has been made to sustain Mr Kinglake’s assertions in a congenial publication; but his work is throughout disfigured by errors, some of which are unpardonable, and which are made more offensive by the affectation of accuracy. Thus we are told (p. 320, vol. 1), in repetition of a similar statement some pagers previous, “Codrington had come to the East a mere traveller.” He came to the East with a regiment of Guards to which he was attached, and never left them. Promoted to the rank of Major-General by the warrant of June, 1854, he obtained permission from Lord Raglan to remain; and when Airey was made Quartermaster-General in succession to Lord De Ros, Codrington, to the anger of some colonels of the Light Division, was appointed to command the vacant brigade. Again (301), a Colonel Stacey, of the 30th, is represented as working his men across the river. The same officer is named subsequently. There never was any such colonel in the 30th then or at any other time, nor any officer of that name in the regiment or in the division. In page 302, vol. 2, there are five or six errors in about as many lines. A Captain Schane’s name occurs twice in the list of killed; it should be Schaw. “Luxmore” should be “Luxmoore.” Percy Herbert was not “dangerously hit” (p. 302). “Bisset” should be “Bissett;” “Woollcombe” should be “Wollocombe.” The name of the lieutenant-colonel of Her Majesty’s 95th, W Smith, who was severely wounded, is omitted from the list of casualties in that regiment (p. 371). “Wardlow” (p. 371) should be “Wardlaw.” He was not killed, but died of his wounds. “Montague” (p. 370) should be “Montagu.” There was no good lasting market opened at Eupatoria (p.165). On the contrary, we had to send food there. The officers of the Commissariat (p. 188) were not gentlemen taken from the Treasury. Some junior officers were attached from that department, but all the principal officers were regular officers of that branch, who had seen service. Such inaccuracies as “the wing of the 2d Rifle Battalion” (p. 258) should not be permitted in a work of this character and pretensions. Captain Pearson did not bear the missing colour of the 7th (p. 425): he gave it to a non-commissioned officer. Lord Clyde did not send “Sterling” to direct the 79th to go into column (p. 430); the name of the officer he sent was Shadwell. Such matters as the part borne in the action by our splendid artillery, and its effect — except that of Lord Raglan’s two guns — Mr Kinglake does not mention as it deserves; but he describes it as inferior in range, and would lead one to think it was mainly engaged in inflicting a painful slaughter when all was over on the retreating enemy. It so happens that while the 15,000 infantry engaged fired only 6 rounds per man, the British Artillery at the Alma fired 15 rounds per gun. Our author seems to think that the formation of British troops has been in line from time immemorial. Sir John Burgoyne quotes Marshal Saxe (Military Opinions, p. 465) as assigning our superiority in the middle of the last century to our attacking in column against line. At Waterloo our line of Guards at the final advance was four deep, and, although our line is unsurpassed as a military formation for fighting purposes, the Alma affords proof conclusive that it cannot be relied on for a very quick advance across a river and gardens, and can only be depended on, under these circumstances, when it is well managed, and has time for leisurely movements.

We have by no means exhausted our list of debatable assertions in this book, but we have far exceeded our limits, and can afford no more space. Admitting that the style is often exceedingly picturesque, even though it be at times strained and fantastic, we deny that this work is a “History.” We may fairly ask what good it has done, what man or system it has served, and who or what is the better for the publication? It has not enhanced the glory of our arms, or shed lustre on a single reputation.


* As an attempt has been made to quote our own words against us in this matter, we extract the following passage from our leading article of December 16, 1853:—

“Whatever may be the surprise which this announcement may excite in the public mind, that surprise will be considerably augmented when the cause which has induced Lord Palmerston to withdraw from the present Administration is accurately known. That cause, we may confidently state, is unconnected with the foreign policy of the Government, it has not arisen out of the difficulties of the Eastern question, nor is it true that differences of opinion on that subject have manifested themselves with such force as to lead to the retirement of any member of the Administration. The ground on which Lord Palmerston is said to rest his inability to remain in the present Cabinet, and to share in the responsibility of the measures of the approaching Session, is distinctly and exclusively his decided opposition to the Reform Bill, which has been prepared under the direction of Lord John Russell, and assented to by the other members of the Government.”

(Continued 1 August 1868)


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