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The Times 13.9.1864 p 6

Review


TODLEBEN’S DEFENCE OF SEBASTOPOL* (part 5)

(Continued from The Times of September 10)

THE BATTLE OF INKERMAN

The 10th Division appeared on the 2d of November and entered the place; the 11th Division arrived on the 3d of November, and thus raised the effective force in and around Sebastopol under Menschikoff to 100,000 men, without counting the crews of the ships. To oppose this force the French mustered 53 battalions, 12 squadrons, 72 field and 86 siege guns — total, 41,700 men; the English, 31 battalions, 20 squadrons, 96 field and 93 siege guns — total, 24,530 men; the Turks, 8 battalions, 6 field guns and 16 siege guns — total, 4,700. These forces were divided into a besieging and a covering army. Of the former, the English had taken up their ground on the space from the abrupt crests of the Mount Sapoune, looking down the Tchernaya, opposite Inkerman, to the Sarandinaki Ravine, at 2 23 miles from Sebastopol, and the French extended from the English left as far as the road from Sebastopol to Kamiche, at a distance of 213 to 1¾ from the city. Todleben proceeds to describe the position occupied by the respective corps, and gives the disposition and numbers of the covering army and corps of observation under Bosquet, which, including the small force of English cavalry on the heights and of infantry at Balaclava, he computes at 26,791 men. The General then explains, in detail, the nature of the ground on which the allies were encamped. An attack on the plateau from either side of Balaclava or from the Tchernaya could have no hope of success, on account of the difficulties of access and of the strong fortifications. The narrow space between Careening Ravine and the Quarries Ravine, although offering the only point of attack, was nearly inaccessible. Here were encamped the English 2d Division, covered in front by three works, of very weak profile — one, the Sandbag Battery, unarmed; on the right flank another, with two guns, on the right of the road; the third behind the first. Across the road was cut a trench. The right flank of the besiegers offered the best hope, and although the nature of the ground rendered the position strong, it was to be remembered that the number of troops which defended it was very weak. Prince Menschikoff decided to attack at that point. In case of success his objective was to occupy all the eastern side of the plateau, or at all events to establish himself on the heights over Careening Ravine, which would have the effect of placing the east side of the city out of reach of attack, of uniting the garrison with the army outside, and probably of raising the siege itself. At 5 o’clock pm on the 4th of November the definite dispositions made by Dannenberg, under Prince Menschikoff’s direction, were communicated to the Generals, and an order of the day was published announcing the attack on the English next morning. Lieutenant-General Soimonow, at the head of 29 battalions, a sotnia of Cossacks — in all, 18,920 men — and 38 guns, was to march from Bastion No. 2 at 4 am, to traverse Careening Ravine, and commence the attack at 6 am, formed in order of battle. The sappers were to follow the directions of Colonel Todleben and to entrench the position to be occupied after the expulsion of the English. A column of 15,806 men, under Lieutenant-General Pavlow, with 96 guns, marching at 2.30 am to the bridge of Inkerman was to advance briskly and effect a junction with the column of Soimonow; General Prince Gortschakoff commanding, the corps of Tchorgouvine, consisting of 20,000 men and 88 guns, comprising 52 squadrons and 10 sotnias, was to operate so as to attract the attention of part of the enemy and not permit the English at Kadikoi to lend assistance to the troops on the plateau during the grand attack. Lieutenant-General de Moller, in command of the garrison of the city, having made the necessary dispositions for supplying the void caused by Soimonow’s departure, issued orders to the artillery along the line opposed to the English to direct their fire exclusively against the columns of the enemy, and held the regiments of Minsk and Tobolsk, with 12 guns under General Timoféiew, in readiness to make a sortie from the extreme right against the French and seize their batteries. A detachment of 3, 800 men and 36 guns was detached to watch the road to Bakhtchisarai.

Such were the dispositions for making this tremendous attack. Man proposes but God disposes. Inkerman ought to be a standing example to every general of the danger, nay, the folly of touching an order once given for the execution of a plan by masses of troops. Before we proceed to give Todleben’s account of the battle let us set forth in detail this illustration. It was General Dannenberg, as we have stated, who made the arrangements for the march of Soimonow and Pavlow’s columns. According to the original plan, the regiments of Kolivansk, Tomsk, and Ekaterinebourg were to leave Sebastopol at 2 am, and march to the point at which Pavlow’s column would find it easiest to cross the Tchernaya, where they were to form in order of battle on the right of the 10th Division of infantry. It was not till that division had succeeded in covering the passage that Pavlow was to commence crossing over. The Regiments of Okhotsk, of Jatousk, and of Selinghinsk were to follow the “Sappers-road,” lately made by Careening Bay from Inkerman, and form in order of reserve in rear of the space left open between the 10th and 16th Divisions of Soimonow. Soon afterwards Dannenberg found it necessary to change his dispositions and to modify some of the directions of Prince Menschikoff. He explained to the Prince that the Careening Ravine would separate his column from that of Soimonow at the commencement of the attack, and prevent the double action of both, which seemed necessary. On the right of the ravine the ground was difficult, the forces of the enemy incompletely known, and the roads from the river so narrow that any retrograde move from unforeseen causes could only be effected with great difficulty and loss of time. He therefore ordered Pavlow’s column to be at Inkerman-bridge at 5 am, and when the sappers had repaired it the column was to march over in order, the leading regiment of Okhotsk and of Borodino taking the right by the “Sappers-road,” the regiment of Borodino taking the old “Post-road.” These 12 battalions were to halt when they reached the crest of the hills. Thus the original dispositions of Soimonow were completely changed. Dannenberg ordered him to march at 5 am, instead of 6 am, and added among other things “I think it useful, also, that you should keep the principal reserves of your detachment behind your right wing, for its left flank will be perfectly guaranteed by Careening Ravine, and by the co-operation of the troops which will cross the Tchernaya.” While he did not precisely annul his first arrangements, he had now in view to make Soimonow’s column act on the west side of Careening Ravine. All these changes could be easily made in Pavlow’s column, where General Dannenberg had his headquarters, but it was very difficult for Soimonow, who wad at Sebastopol, to execute these new orders. As Dannenberg had not distinctly annulled the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, in which Soimonow was directed to advance from the Careening Ravine in order to unite with Pavlow, and as he had in the first instance been ordered to cover the passage of the Tchernaya, which would have obliged him to follow the right bank of the ravine; and, finally, as Dannenberg’s language did not appear to him sufficiently explicit, Soimonow decided to take his own measures. He sent a copy of his orders to the Headquarters Staff of Prince Menschikoff and of Dannenberg. If they had been found defective it was natural Soimonow should expect to receive other orders, or that the necessary changes would have been communicated to him with clearness and precision. While he was uncertain whether his arrangements were annulled or approved, he received an order of which the sense, it is true, was directly opposed to them, but which was simply confined to an obscure announcement that his detachment was not to traverse Careening Ravine. It was not said if by this order the original dispositions of General Soimonow as well as those of General Dannenberg himself were revoked or not. Under these circumstances the General considering himself as personally responsible, and to a certain point independent, instead of acting on an order which expressed but confusedly the intentions of General Dannenberg, preferred to execute the plan he had himself drawn up, the basis of which was the original idea of Prince Menschikoff, which he perfectly understood, and which neither Prince Menschikoff nor Dannenberg himself had positively rejected. Now come Todleben’s description of the great battle of Inkerman:—

“The night was still dark when our troops quitted their bivouacs. The English, without the least suspicion of the danger to which they were about to be exposed, were sleeping peaceably in their camps. Their outposts soaked in rain shivered at the cold blast of an icy wind, and half stupid with fatigue and inanition did not lend much attention to what passed in our camp. Some sentinels, indeed, had heard in the distance a dull sound and a creaking of wheels, but they had not attached any importance to it, persuaded that the noise came from some Tatar [sic] arabas. At 4 o’clock am they heard the sound of a church bell, which roused the attention of the enemy, but did not attract it long. The 5th of November fell on a Sunday, and the English outposts took the ringing of the bells to be the call to morning prayers. In accordance with the disposition which had been made, the detachment of Lieutenant-General Soimonow assembled near Bastion No. 2, and began its march at 5 o’clock in the direction of Careening Ravine, descended it, and began to mount up the right bank of the ravine, following the rude ascent of the ‘Sappers-road,’ which the rains had injured. To repair it as much as possible, and facilitate the passage of the artillery, sappers were sent on at the head of the column. At 6 o’clock Soimonow had already gained the plateau, where he began to form in order of battle. Having done so General Soimonow began to advance parallel with Careening Ravine. A thick fog and the gray colour of our soldiers’ greatcoats concealed their line from the view of the enemy’s outposts, and permitted them to advance without being remarked almost up to them. A picket of the Light Division of General Brown was almost immediately surrounded and taken. Then commenced a musketry fire, which was the signal of a general alerte in the enemy’s camp. At the dawn of day General Codrington had left camp to visit his outposts. After having made his rounds, he was preparing to return when he heard suddenly some musket shots in the direction of the heights of the ravine, and immediately afterwards some sentries ran in with the news of the Russian attack. Codrington returned immediately to camp and communicated the intelligence to General Brown, who put his division under arms, and directed it towards the upper part of Careening Ravine. Scarcely had the first volleys rung through the camp ere the alarm spread through the 2d Division. General Pennefather, who commanded it in the absence of Sir de Lacy Evans, caused by illness, immediately advanced his troops on the position, placing them with 12 guns on the ground between the Sandbag battery and the ravine Nickrioukow. Adam’s Brigade occupied the right and Pennefather’s Brigade the left. Almost at the same time the troops of the Light Division reached the upper part of the ravine. Codrington’s Brigade with six guns occupied the western ridge of the ravine, and rested its left on the right Lancaster battery, while Buller’s Brigade with six guns, having turned the end of the ravine, placed itself in the rear of Pennefather’s Brigade. Without loss of time the brigade of Guards, the 4th Division, and the brigade John Campbell were also led to the scene of action. The Brigades Airey and Torrens and the Rifles remained in the trenches. The troops of the right column under Soimonow, supported by their batteries, attacked Sir de Lacy Evans’ division briskly, and drove back the English skirmishers. The assault was conducted under great difficulty, as much owing to the peculiar nature of the ground as to the losses which our troops suffered from the excellent arms of the English. But neither the difficulty of ground nor the fire of the enemy could stop the battalions of the 10th Division. The battalions of Tomsk and Kolivansk, supported by the 2d and 4th battalions Ekaterinebourg Regiment, attacked Pennefather’s Brigade. Two battalions of Tomsk and two of Kolivansk overthrew the English, seized the little entrenchment No. 2, before the camp of the 2d Division, spiked the guns in it, and broke the carriages. At the same time the regiments of Taroutino and Borodino, which formed part of the left column of General Pavlow, also began a fusillade with the enemy. At 2.30 am the left column quitted its position, as had been ordered, marched towards the Valley of Inkerman, and reached the bridge at 5 am. There it was obliged to wait till the repairs were made, and could not pass till 7 o’clock, when it was already broad day. After the passage the troops were divided into two bodies. The battalions of the 11th Division and all the artillery turned to the right and followed the ‘Sappers-road,’ while the 17th Division began to climb the hill side — the regiment of Borodino to the left, along the ravine Valovia, and that of Taroutino to the right, along the old Post-road to Bakhtchiserai. The Regiment of Borodino and two battalions of Taroutino having gained the plateau without much difficulty hastened to join the troops of Soimonow, which were at the very height of their attack against Pennefather’s Brigade. The two other battalions of the Taroutino Regiment were, however, received with a very close and accurate fire of rifles by the skirmishers of Adams’s Brigade. Without caring either for the fire or the steepness of the hill the battalions of Taroutino, holding on by rocks and bushes, in a quarter of an hour climbed the right bank of the Quarries Ravine, although it was very slippery owing to the rain. At the top of the plateau they formed in columns of companies, and, supported by the artillery fire of Soimonow’s columns, attacked the right of Adams’s Brigade, while the two other battalions of the same regiment and the Regiment of Borodino hastened to join them. The violent shock given to Adams’s Brigade by the light infantry of the 17th Division caused it to recoil. Immediately two battalions of Taroutino went at Battery No. 1. The English let them approach within a short distance and received them with a salvo of artillery. But the terrible losses this tremendous fire occasioned did not succeed in driving them back. Closing their ranks they pushed at the battery and carried it, but Adams at once advanced and beat back our Chasseurs. It was then that the Regiments of Borodino and Taroutino having reformed their ranks a little threw themselves again on the remains of Adams’s Brigade, already exhausted by the fight, and hurled them back principally on their right wing, which was concentrated near Battery No. 1. Our troops were all ready to continue the attack when they were suddenly arrested by the fresh troops of Bentinck’s Brigade, which had succeeded in arriving with six guns on the field of battle. Meanwhile the fortune of the fight had also decided the fate of the battalion of the 10th Division, which gave to Buller’s Brigade and Pennefather’s Brigade the possibility of joining with the Brigade of Adams to crush the Regiment of Borodino. We have already said that the regiments of Borodino and Taroutino commenced the action when the regiments of the 10th Division having overthrown Pennefather’s Brigade had taken the fortified work situate in front of the 2d Division’s camp. Driving the brigades of Pennefather and Buller before them, the Chasseurs of the 10th Division had penetrated as far as the very camp of de Lacy Evans. At the same moment the first and second battalions of Ekaterinebourg crossed the upper part of the ravine and threw themselves upon Codrington’s Brigade. Their energetic attack was crowned with complete success. With the rapidity of lightning our troops dashed at a field battery of six guns; four fell into their hands, and were immediately spiked, the other two succeeded in getting off. But after this valiant exploit the Regiment Ekaterinebourg, always advancing, were in their turn overwhelmed in the ravine by the English. They abandoned their trophies, suffered terrible losses, and to avoid still greater were obliged to retire to the bottom of the ravine. Almost at the same time the battalions of Chasseurs of the 10th Division were arrested in their progressive movement. The troops of Pennefather, repulsed from their position and briskly pressed by the impetuosity of our soldiers, only retired very slowly, defending the ground step by step, and directing against us a fire excessively murderous and of extraordinary precision. The English riflemen caused us terrible loss; in a short time the greater part of the senior officers were put hors de combat. Among them was the brave Soimonow himself. The gallant general who, paying for it by his life, inflamed the troops by his own example, and who was sure to be seen wherever his presence was necessary or the combat offered the greatest danger, was struck dead. The loss of this courageous and worthy chief brought about disastrous consequences, and had a fatal influence on the ulterior progress of the battle. Seeing themselves deprived of the greater part of their senior and other officers, overcome by the terrible losses which had decimated their ranks, the battalions of the 10th Division halted. Profiting by this moment of indecision, the English redoubled their efforts. Their fire, of extreme precision, augmented in vigour and intensity in proportion as our losses became more sensible. The powerful fire of 22 guns did not suffice to equalize the chances of the fight, and the light batteries of the 10th Division which followed the column were still too far from the field to support the efforts of our soldiers. The Chasseurs of the 10th Division began to fall back, and to save themselves from the fire of the English they descended into the ravine. This retreat was covered by the combined division of Jabokritsky, who advanced 16 light guns and the Regiments of Boutirsk and Ouglitch, to cover the movement. The Regiments of Vladimir and of Souzdal remained in reserve in rear of the right wing. Thirty-eight guns placed on the heights arrested the enemy, and permitted the disorganized battalions of the 10th Division to get out of the fire of the English. Then the battalion, exchanging fire with the English, began to reform. Thus, while the Regiments of Borodino and Taroutino fought obstinately with Adams’s and Bentinck’s brigades, and when their heroic efforts to overcome the energy and tenacity of the English were already on the point of being crowned with success, the brigades of Pennefather and Buller had been occupied in a hot engagement with the regiments of the 10th Division. The Chasseurs of the 17th Division, already disorganized by a series of reiterated attacks by the fire of the English artillery and rifles, were overthrown in their turn, and retired towards the Quarries Ravine to reorganize with the firm intention of renewing the fight. .   .   .   . [The idea was abandoned, and the regiments did not again appear in the field.] After recovering the rude blows which the Russians had given them, the English troops advanced again. Codrington’s Brigade remained as before on the left ridge of the Careening Ravine. Buller’s brigade occupying an advanced position formed the left, and the brigades of Pennefather and Adams, which had suffered greatly, were placed in the centre; on the upper part of the ravine the Guards were posted, with the Coldstreams in the Battery No. 1 (sandbag). Thirty 9-pounders on the crest of the heights which formed the English front opened fire against our artillery; 38 of our guns on Cossack-hill replied to them. The hand to hand engagement had ceased, to give place to a lively cannonade. Our artillery, separated from that of the English by two ravines, could not, having regard to the ground, answer the English batteries otherwise than by a direct fire by shot and shell at the distance of from 400 to 500 sagenes. Notwithstanding the range, which was particularly great for light artillery, our guns caused considerable damage to the English artillery. But these injuries very imperfectly compensated the enormous losses which the enemy’s riflemen inflicted on the Russian artillery. A perfect cloud of riflemen hid in thick brushwood opened a very violent and very accurate fire against our artillery at the distance of 800 paces. Some of our guns from time to time rained grape upon them, but the discharge only checked the fire of the enemy’s riflemen for a moment, for, after their momentary fright, they only commenced to decimate our ranks more energetically. At the same time the English artillery hurled shrapnel on our artillery and infantry, but it was more the fire of rifled small arms than that of the artillery of the enemy which reached our artillerymen, of whom the greater part were killed or wounded. Many foreign works attribute a great numerical superiority to us, but it was far from being what they supposed. At the beginning of the battle the English had engaged the division de Lacy Evans, of which the effective force is stated by the English themselves to be 4,389; the Division Brown, 4,385; brigade of Guards, 2,811; total, 11,585. On our side we had against the five brigades the Ekaterinebourg Regiment, 3,298; Tomsk, 3,124; Kolivansk, 2,875; Taroutino, 3,335; Borodino, 2,500. If we take into consideration the nature of the ground occupied by the enemy, which presented extreme difficulties for the attack, and very great advantages for the defence, and observe that the English position was defended by field works, and that the armament of our adversaries was incomparably better than our own, we shall be convinced that the numerical superiority of our troops could not play a very important part in the engagement. It was not yet 8 o’clock in the morning, and already the head of our columns had retired. Thus, of all the battalions which were to have attacked the English position 20 had already quitted the field. Notwithstanding the ardour of the troops of the 10th and 17th Divisions, the impetuosity of their brilliant attacks, and their heroic bravery, the enterprise was already une affaire perdue. Our soldiers, repulsed after suffering frightful loss, were harassed with fatigue.”

Todleben then goes back to describe how Lord Raglan and his staff arrived on the field at 7 o’clock am, when the battle was at its height; and how his Lordship sent for Cathcart and England to come as fast as possible to the aid of the exhausted English just as Dannenberg was bringing up his fresh troops. Bosquet in person, hastening to the English camp, had met Brown and Cathcart, and proposed to co-operate with his corps, but the English Generals, who did not appreciate the magnitude of the danger, declined the offer, and begged him only to secure the rear near the redoubt Canrobert. Bosquet, who was satisfied that the movements of Prince Gortschakoff’s corps in the valley below him indicated a false attack, waited till the moment when the English right would send to demand the co-operation of the French. The combat raged fiercely. Dannenberg had two horses killed under him. Projectiles of all kinds reached even to the Ravine of St George, where were the Grand Dukes Nicholas and Michael at the side of Prince Menschikoff.

“A little after 8 o’clock the battalion of the 11th Division, with the greatest difficulty, reached the plateau of Careening Ravine, passing through the Ravine St George. The march of the detachment of General Pavlow had been greatly hampered by the nature of the ground. The artillery were obliged to put an extraordinary number of horses to the guns to ascend the hill, and the transport of the guns of position was still more difficult. The infantry of Pavlow’s column had scarcely reached the plateau when Dannenberg ordered his battalions to attack the right wing of the English army.   .   .   . To reinforce our artillery and insure the success of the attack, 32 guns of position were ordered to advance on our left. The Okhotsk Regiment, braving the fatigues of its march, crossed a fold of the ground near the upper part of Careening Ravine, and forcing its passage through the thick brushwood, dashed upon the enemy. At first, the skirmishers were repulsed by the English, but, supported by the sappers of the 4th Battalion, soon overthrew the English tirailleurs, and made way for the battalions at the head of their column. These then attacked with impetuosity the sandbag battery, which was occupied by the worthy rivals of the Regiment of Okhotsk, the intrepid Coldstreams. In spite of the concentrated fire of the Russian artillery and of the left wing of our army, the Coldstreams received the attack with firm foot. A bloody and obstinate combat ensued around the battery. Although still unfinished, the Coldstreams defended it nevertheless with as much tenacity as courage. The soldiers of Okhotsk scaled the parapets again and again, and even reached the interior of the work, but they were repulsed every time, and could not establish themselves solidly. The combat at this point soon assumed the character of a hand to hand engagement. In the midst of the sanguinary mêlée these intrepid soldiers carried on one against the other a terrible, merciless struggle. Whatever came to hand, whatever could injure an enemy, seemed fit for the combat. The soldiers exchanged shots with muzzles touching, struck each other with the butts, fought bayonet to bayonet, and even threw stones and fragments of arms at each other. At last, after unheard of efforts to conquer such an energetic resistance, the soldiers of Okhotsk succeeded in expelling the Coldstreams from the battery and seizing it. Nine guns were the reward for this brilliant feat of arms. Three were immediately taken away down the ravine, and the others were spiked. Of 600 Coldstreams who defended the battery, 200 were hors de combat, but the Regiment of Okhotsk bought the brilliant victory dearly. It lost its commander, Colonel Bebikow, who was mortally wounded, the greater part of its officers, a very great number of soldiers, and had only before it the prospect of a new struggle not less fierce, and quite as bloody as the last. In the midst of the fight in the battery, the English were reinforced with fresh troops. Cathcart’s division, with fresh battery, and John Campbell’s brigade arrived on the field. Torrens’s and Goldie’s brigades took up position on the right ridge of Careening Ravine. Campbell’s brigade moved to the left bank behind Codrington’s brigade. Inflamed with new ardour by the sight of the reinforcements, the English formed rapidly in order of battle and recommenced the attack. The remains of the Guards, having the Coldstreams at their head, supported by Adams’s brigade, rushed on the Regiment of Okhotsk to snatch from it the intrenchment it had won. At the same time Cathcart, with Torrens’s brigade, set about turning its left flank, while Goldie’s brigade threw itself on its right. The cannonade and the musketry then raged louder than ever along the English line. The attack of the Guards was so impetuous that the Regiment of Okhotsk, which occupied the battery, could not maintain themselves. But at the same time our reinforcements also became engaged. General Dannenberg advanced the regiments of Jakoutsk and Salenghinsk. The first sustained the Regiment of Okhotsk, which had been obliged to retire, and attacked the enemy resolutely. A part stormed the battery, and, for the last time, thrust out of it the English Guards, already disorganized. The other part of the same regiment having met Goldie’s Brigade, overthrew it with a charge of bayonets. The Regiment of Jakoutsk having secured the success of the attack of the Regiment of Okhotsk, was thus enabled to maintain its ground on the left flank of the English position, having in its front Buller’s Brigade, and that of Goldie, which it had disposed of in one charge. Torrens’s attack, directed by Cathcart himself, was a most complete failure. It commenced by turning the left flank of the Regiment of Okhotsk, and descended then into a fold of the ground before the battery No. 1, but at the same moment appeared the Regiment Selenghinsk, and General Dannenberg placed in position 16 horse artillery guns along the Quarry Ravine, parallel to the Port Road. The Regiment Selenghinsk made a charge with the bayonet. Cathcart, repulsed, was obliged to fall back, and thinking No. 1 battery was occupied by Bentinck’s brigade, began to retire in the direction of the work. When he had got pretty near to it he was suddenly received by a murderous fire. Persuaded that he had English troops before him, and that they had opened fire by mistake, Cathcart ordered his men to throw away their great coats. At the sight of the red uniforms the Jakoutsk soldiers doubled the intensity of their fire. Surrounded on all sides by the battalions of Okhotsk, Jakoutsk, and Selenghinsk, Cathcart found himself in a very critical position. Musketry decimated the ranks of Torrens’s brigade. The English troops began to be demoralized; confusion spread through their ranks; their fire became hasty and disorderly; and soon the soldiers were heard to complain of want of cartridges. All they possessed had been used in a very short time. Cathcart alone, one of the most skilful of the English generals, did not lose his presence of mind. Applying himself to animate the courage of his wavering troops, he reformed the ranks, and placing himself at their head he rushed against the Regiment of Selenghinsk, which barred the way. This attack being repulsed, Torrens put himself at the head of the brigade, and advanced resolutely against the Russians. But the second attempt was not more successful than the first, and Torrens himself was wounded. Cathcart, feeling the full danger of the situation, and convinced beforehand that he had no chance of prevailing in the attacks against the regiments which had already repulsed him twice, threw his troops in another direction. Closing up the ranks of his disordered brigade he led them on the flank of the English line of battle. But he encountered then the Regiment of Jakoutsk, which received him with a very violent fire. Cathcart, who was at the head of the brigade, was mortally wounded. At the moment confusion arose in the ranks, but these brave troops soon rallied, made a supreme effort, and throwing themselves on the Regiment of Jakoutsk succeeded at last in forcing the array and breaking a passage through the midst of our soldiers. Such was the issue of the attacks of Torrens’s brigade. The right flank of the English, who were endeavouring to concentrate between the Battery 2 and the upper part of the Careening Ravine, was left quite uncovered. Having taken position on this ground the English opened a very brisk fire of musketry. The cannonade continued without interruption. The English then brought up with great difficulty, in addition to their field artillery, two 18-pounders of the siege train. These guns were placed in the battery No. 2, whence they acted with much success till the end of the battle. It must be remarked that the English artillery in general sustained its infantry perfectly. It followed them everywhere, and opened fire at sufficiently close distances against the assailing columns of the Russians. On one side the artillery of Codrington’s Brigade established on the Careening Ravine left bank battered our reserves, and took in flank those troops of ours which attacked the left wing of the English army. On the other hand, our artillery rested always on the same spot in its primitive position, on the slope of Cossack-hill, and did not sustain the attack of our battalions. These batteries had, however, at the commencement of the action supported the infantry and prepared our first success; but that did not last long. In proportion as the infantry advanced the action of the artillery became almost null, as the batteries persisted in keeping their original position. With a progressive increase of distance the fire of the light batteries became less and less efficacious, and the battalions of the 11th division were obliged on many occasions to open the road in front by the balls of their smooth-bore guns, and by means of their bayonets, without being any way supported by the artillery.”

Todleben having related how the Russian guns were increased from 86 to 94, and how, after having overwhelmed the right wing of the enemy, the battalions of the 11th division were preparing to attack the English army once more, arrives at the time when the English were reinforced by the French. He says:—

“The English remained a long time before they resolved to demand help from the French. Long time they fought obstinately, long time against the Russians, but finally they had no more strength. Having exhausted his soldiers and engaged all his reserves in the battle, Lord Raglan was obliged to resign himself to pray General Bosquet to come to his help. Bosquet replied immediately by sending, without delay, upon the field of battle 2½ battalions and 12 guns. Soon after, to support these troops, two battalions and four squadrons were directed to the same point, and finally Canrobert himself sent towards the mill three battalions of the besieging army under General de Monet. At the same time Prince Napoleon was informed that it might be necessary to ask him for reinforcements. Thus at the first requisition of the English Commander-in-Chief Canrobert and Bosquet directed to the scene of the fight 7½ battalions, four squadrons, and 12 guns; in addition the three remaining battalions of d’Autemarre’s brigade set out for the field of battle. The first reinforcements took up ground to the right of battery No. 2, and put in position 12 guns. They had scarcely begun to advance when they were received by such a violent fire that they broke and fled precipitately to the rear. They reformed, however, and came back to the charge, but they were obliged to retire before the battalions of the 11th division. Meanwhile, the fire of the French batteries made terrible ravages among the Russian columns; but the ardour of our soldiers attained its highest degree of exaltation. Exalted by their success, the regiments of the 11th division pushed back before them the French battalions. One effort and the issue of the combat would have been decided in favour of the Russians; but, unhappily, the fatigue of our soldiers had arrived at its height. It was a decisive moment for the two armies. Having surmounted enormous difficulties, and triumphing over the tenacity of the enemy, the Russians, receiving no reinforcements, were exhausting their energy in a last effort; and the English, exhausted by fatigue, deprived of the greater part of their Generals and officers, felt that it was impossible for them to hold out much longer, the French, themselves the last upon the field of battle, awaiting with anxiety the reinforcements which had been announced to them, and without which they could not continue to hold the ground against the Russians. A little after 10 o’clock the reinforcements so impatiently awaited by the French arrived to them at last. In the steps of General Bosquet rushed the Zouaves, the Chasseurs Indegènes and the Chasseurs d’Afrique, followed closely by three battalions and a field battery, commanded by General d’Autemarre. These troops ought to decide the issue of the combat, but the Russians did not yield at the first blow. Halting for a moment, they began again to advance, the Regiments of Jakoutsk and Okhotsk attacked the French, while the Regiment of Selenghinsk turned the right wing, but the Zouaves and the Africans were already engaged. Worn out by a struggle so long and so murderous, without strength or ammunition, the Regiment of Selenghinsk, attacked by two battalions of fresh troops, was hurled into the ravine, and commenced its retreat. It was then that the fate of the battle was definitely decided, and nothing more remained for us than to effect our retrograde movement.”

Todleben then describes the retreat, which he justly says was executed in good order and with extreme tenacity, under the cruel losses caused by the concentrated fire of artillery and rifles. To Bosquet he assigns the credit of pressing their rearguard with artillery, which, however, was obliged to withdraw by the fire of the steamers. The Russians fell back in two different directions. Those from Inkerman made for the bridge over the Tchernaya, and those from Sebastopol returned by the mouth of the Careening Ravine. The artillery slowly crawled away down the “Sappers’-road.” What a prize lay within our grasp!

“At this moment the enemy’s artillery succeeded in disabling some waggons of the train which blocked up the way, and while the infantry were already entering Sebastopol by the shore, the artillery stopped, filling up the whole space between the mouth of Careening Ravine and the Ravine of St Georges. Profiting by this delay, the enemy’s sharpshooters hid in brushwood came so close to our guns that they were on the point of taking them. Colonel de Todleben, who by chance was on the spot, seeing the danger which menaced our artillery, immediately took a company of the Regiment of Ouglitch, which was near at hand, and deployed them as skirmishers, halted the Regiment of Boutirsk which closed the march of the column, and placed two battalions of the regiment on two lines in columns of company, keeping the other two battalions in reserve. At the same time to reanimate the morale of our troops and stop the enemy, Colonel de Todleben caused four guns which he found by him to advance and open fire, and they were soon joined by others.   .   .    .   It was only at 8 o’clock at night that all our artillery had succeeded in passing the line of defence.”

There is no doubt considerable censure veiled under the dry phrases in which Todleben next alludes to the inactivity of Prince Gortschakoff down in the valley of Balaclava, who contented himself with a futile cannonade, and let Bosquet see at once that he meant nothing serious, and he points out how, at 11 o’clock, there were only 3,288 men of the enemy spread over the space between the Woronzoff-road to the Balaclava-road, in face of a force of nine battalions, 20 squadrons, and 40 guns, which did nothing. Next he describes Timoféiew’s sortie on the French and its repulse, followed by de Lourmel’s pursuit and charge on the Russian works, in which he lost his life and that of many men. There were spectators that day who, looking from the right where the two 18-pounders were beginning to assert their superiority over the Russian guns, saw for a moment on the left great explosions near the Bastion du Mât, and plainly discerned through the glass the red trousers of the French infantry who seemed to have got quite inside the enemy’s batteries, but many incidents of that tremendous day’s fighting will never be known.

Todleben affirms that out of 34,835 men who took part in the action, six Generals, 256 officers, and 10,467 soldiers were killed, wounded, and contusioned. Timoféiew lost 23 officers and 1,071 men. Lord Raglan estimated the forces of the Russians and their loss at a much higher number. The loss of the Allies was 11 Generals, 263 officers, and 4,109 rank and file, of which 147 officers, and 2,465 soldiers, were English. The difference in the losses Todleben ascribes to the conditions of attack and to the differences of armament.

“If self-denial, enthusiasm, and courage are enough to insure victory, assuredly it would have been on the side of the Russians, although it is only just to recognize the fact that in valour and in tenacity they encountered worthy rivals in the English. But for war these conditions alone do not suffice. There must be others not less necessary, and the Russians did not possess them.”

In his usual elaborate engineering way, in which every word is used like a gabion, Todleben sets to work to show — 1st, that the ground prevented the Russians acting in masses together, which was the sole mode of guaranteeing success; 2d, that the superiority of armament on the side of the English prevented any approach to a charge, and caused enormous losses at a distance; 3d, that the English infantry was helped always at the proper time by its artillery, and that the Russians were not.

But, although the Allies had repulsed the attack, its results made themselves felt on the siege. The battle produced a profound impression on them. At first, indeed, they even thought of raising the siege. The assault against Bastion No. 4 was put off, and from that time the operations of the Allies gradually assumed a defensive character. How great the change was and what important issues were introduced into the struggle between the besiegers and the besieged will be best described in an analysis of the remaining portion of the second part, which is the last of the first volume.

(To be Continued.)


*Défense de Sébastopol. Ouvrage rédigé sous la direction de Lieutenant-Général E de Todleben, Aide-de-Camp Général de S M L’Empereur. Tome I. Première Partie, Deuxième Partie. St Pétersbourg: Imprimerie N Thiebelin et Cie, 1863.


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