Some five or six years ago there appeared two bulky volumes, which purported to be the beginning of the History of the Invasion of the Crimea to the Death of Lord Raglan. The war with Russia terminated in 1856; those two volumes were published in 1863. Long before they came to light public curiosity had been stimulated by the rumour that “Kinglake” had been engaged to do justice to Lord Raglan. The nation in its heart had a profound regard for that officer. The companion and friend of the Great Duke, the embodiment of the glories and traditions of the Peninsula and Waterloo, Lord Raglan stood in high esteem. His gracious presence, his exquisite manner, his power of obliging, his willingness to exercise it, his calm bravery, his constancy at his post, his death far away in a distant land where his army had won much glory if at had endured much sorrow; all had conspired to cast around the veteran’s memory a halo of affectionate remembrance. Men were willing to forget his shortcomings in the proved defects of the “system,” and if while he lived voices were heard to censure what seemed like apathy or incapacity, they were silenced or tuned to mournful praise when the news came that he was no more. His friends might well have been content with the homage rendered by a generous people, in the midst of national disappointment and in a time of doubt and trouble, to the services of Lord Raglan. They were not. It was supposed that his Lordship had in some way or other suffered grievous injuries. He had been the victim of misrepresentations and misconceptions. His numerous champions had not done him justice. Orators in both houses and statesmen of all parties who vied with each other in eulogizing his character and merits could not satisfy the cravings of his partizans. A writer, however, was at last secured to vindicate his memory, to exalt his reputation, and to illustrate his actions. In a remarkable book of travel Mr Kinglake had displayed great charm of style, a quaint fancy, and felicitous turns of expression. That was a long time before the Crimean War, however, and Mr Kinglake’s book had outlived Mr Kinglake’s name. He became merged in Eothen.
It is useful to know how it was brought about that the work was undertaken by Mr Kinglake. The allied forces were about to effect their disembarcation at Old Fort, when a small party of amateur warriors steamed up from Constantinople. One of these joining the fleet gave the world the advantage of his position in the maintop of the Agamemnon and drew us a lively marine picture of the battle of the Alma. Another succeeded in procuring a pony, with which he joined the army. The little animal has given rise to a series of volumes that promises to outlast this generation. It was owing to the neighing of his pony that Mr Kinglake first attracted the attention of Lord Raglan’s Staff in the march to the Alma. The officers proposed to “send him away.” But Lord Raglan had heard of Eothen if he had not read it. He had possibly met the author in London, and he had been made aware of his presence in camp. He resisted the proposal. Mr Kinglake (whom his Lordship pronounced to be a “charming man”) was “sent for,” instead of being sent away, and Lord Raglan would have spoken to him, but that “the man Leroy” came up at the time. But his pony was not content with such a moderate share of attention. As the skirmishers were advancing, Eothen’s exulting quadruped rushed to the front, uttering its war neighs, till in rough ground the Centauric alliance was suddenly dissolved, to the great amusement of the Staff. This is recorded in the letters of one of Lord Raglan’s nephews and aides-de-camp. Lord Raglan asked Mr Kinglake to dinner after the battle. He lived in the head-quarters encampment till the failure of the first bombardment, on the 17th of October. Then he returned to England. Of course, he was a godsend to London, greedy for gossip from the seat of war. Soon after his return there came on society a sort of glorious gloom as the name of Inkerman was uttered. Then arrived The Storm. Then The Winter. And all this time Mr Kinglake spoke comforting words. When calamities oppress men it is consolatory to be assured that they are not to blame. Lord Raglan was the best possible General — most assiduous and active — everywhere-going and all-seeing. But what could he do with these horrid French? Had they not stolen our buoy in order to bring confusion on our landing and their own? Had they not proposed a plan of battle to Lord Raglan, who was of opinion that a battle without a plan was best? Had they not refused to go up against the enemy on the Alma? Had they not resisted Lord Raglan’s appeals to them to pursue the Russians afterwards? Had they not wanted to go on when we were busy transporting our wounded? Had they not forced poor Lord Raglan to make the flank march? Had they not frustrated all our hopes by the explosion of their magazines and the destruction of their batteries, and so on? Not a word was said of the neglect of all warnings which made the storm so disastrous — not a syllable of that culpable contempt of urgent advices which permitted the Russians to seize on the Woronzow road, and to render the sufferings of our army so “horrible and heartrending.” The French had caused everything which was afflicting and discreditable. The Allies were killed by the alliance.
Now, all this was very cheering. People in and out of office rallied round Mr Kinglake. The most powerful classes in the country selected him as their oracle. He became the man of reaction. Lord Raglan’s papers were consigned to him, and he was appointed, so to speak, his Lordship’s executor. Thus it was that, when Lord Raglan died, and it was known Mr Kinglake was about to write a vindication of the British General, every man who had a letter, or a document, or a correspondence connected with the war handed it over to him. The archives and records of State departments were placed at his disposal. French and Russian officers entered into communication with him, and took pains to satisfy his queries. Europe, in fact, was ransacked to furnish materials for his work, and in the course of time, to aid his researches, books were published, official and non-official, giving valuable information respecting the events of the war. Mr Kinglake was a slow worker. It was six years before his first two volumes appeared. The first was found to be only a huge political pamphlet. The world was called upon to regard the elected head of a great nation, our faithful ally, as a cowardly assassin — to look on “the alliance” as the result of a lucky throw which saved a political blackleg from ruin. It might have been supposed that a mistaken view of a historian’s duty urged Mr Kinglake to fasten on the Emperor of the French. But it was plain to all men that no mere political dislike gave venom to the attack. Men were amused at the ingenuity of the modes in which the victim was approached; the dexterity with which his assailant pounced on him from privy lurking-places. But their admiration at such fertility of resource did not bend their judgment to approve the course of the assailant. It was seen that, in order to destroy the credit of the Emperor, Mr Kinglake did not hesitate to bring English statesmanship into disrepute, and that in his eagerness to strike down Caesar he did not scruple to poniard all his neighbours. So the object of that laboured satire was not attained, and the means by which it was sought were justly stigmatized as “ignoble.” Even those who smiled at the vivacity which vindictiveness gave to a style naturally pointed and lively expressed their regret at the open exhibition of animosity. It may safely be said that the first volume of Mr Kinglake’s work will never be opened by any one who has once laboured through its pages unless he desire to refer to some quaint accounts of diplomatic disarrangements. The second bulky volume went no further than the Battle of the Alma, and the halt on the evening of the 20th of September 1854. In its pages there was presented to us a careful and most highly elaborated view of Lord Raglan’s character and actions. The language was delightfully crisp — the descriptions exceedingly animated, but when men finished it they felt certain uneasy doubts rising up. “Was Lord Raglan indeed like this?” No one hitherto had uttered aloud the suspicion that Lord Raglan was a man of exceeding feebleness of character — that he was quite incapable of planning a campaign — that he never attempted, as Mr Kinglake would say, to “put the impress of his mind” on a battle — that while he was disloyal to his allies in the field he purposely deceived his Government at home. We do not say Lord Raglan was or did all or any of these things. But Mr Kinglake takes pains to establish these charges in his attempt to “vindicate” the object of his admiration. At every dab of his brush the form and features of the hero become less distinct. We gaze at last on a nebulous, uncertain creature, daubed with blotches of neutral tint, with here and there a dash of strong colour. It is like a late “Turner,” done into words. To increase the impression produced by the centre figure, Mr Kinglake surrounded it with a set of very ill-favoured persons, French and English, who did not at all approve their respective presentments, and denied the accuracy of the painter. So, without doing any great service to Lord Raglan, whose control of a battle was represented in a fortuitous canter up a lane, Mr Kinglake “angered” a great many men. The late Sir George Brown was much discontented because he was represented, among other things, as wearing “flowing plumes,” to which were assigned great moral effects at the Alma. Others rushed into print or made private expostulation; but the world declared that the book was “like a novel” — as indeed it was. In the continuation, in which more than 900 pages are devoted to the Flank March, the First Bombardment, and the Actions of the 25th of October, the result is more positive, but it is not more agreeable, as far as Lord Raglan is concerned. We appeal to those who entertained a favourable opinion of Lord Raglan’s character and military capacity to say if their estimate of both has not been very much lowered, if not destroyed, by the perusal of these two volumes. It is not, however, merely military reputation Mr Kinglake has “vindicated” away; he has in this part of his work inflicted damage of another kind. Let us go back to the Battle of the Alma, with an account of which the second volume, issued five years ago, terminated, and see what occurred.
It may be remembered that the plan of attack proposed by the French to Lord Raglan, which he feigned to accept — though Mr Kinglake tells us he had no intention of adopting it — assigned to the English army a turning movement against the right flank of the Russian army. Lord Raglan, on the contrary, marched in front on the strongest part of the Russian position. When the Russians retreated, Lord Raglan had all his cavalry intact, a fine force of artillery, the greater part of Buller’s Brigade of the Light Division, the greater part of Adams’s Brigade of the Second Division, all the Third Division, and part of the Fourth Division absolutely untouched. The French would have served as a base of operations to which he could have retired, and if Lord Raglan had pursued at once he might have overwhelmed Menschikoff’s army before it reached the Katcha. What glory for the English arms! But Lord Raglan had so little thought of it that he left his cavalry on the wrong side of the river, and when without orders they crossed and pursued, he sent orders to stop them. Because the French would not join he could do nothing. Lord Raglan, however, was plainly master of the situation. He had a base of advance, convictions of what was right, cavalry, guns, and infantry. But Mr Kinglake, having expatiated on the wickedness of the refusal to pursue, on the part of the French, proceeds to show how unfit the army was for pursuit, and in doing so to display another quality on the part of our chief which we had rather not characterize. He says:—
“When the fighting on the banks of the Alma had ceased along the whole line, more than one of the English Generals prayed hard that their troops might be suffered to come down and bivouac near the bank of the stream, for the labour already undergone by the men had been so great that it was painful to have them distressed by the toll of going a long way for water, and fetching it up to the heights. But not choosing to lose his hold of ground carried at no small cost of life, Lord Raglan was steadfast in his resistance to all these entreaties, and ordered that his troops should bivouac on the heights they had won. . . . . On the night which followed the battle men were sickening and dying of cholera in numbers as great as before.”
A few hundred yards, and the army could have bivouacked by the river, out of the filth and blood and misery of what Mr Kinglake calls “the dignity of war.” And what was the result, as the eulogist of Lord Raglan allows himself to let slip? Here it is in his own words:—
“The sight was of a kind to press hurtfully upon the imagination of young soldiers. None can wonder if the survivors of the Light Division men who had stormed the redoubt were inclined to let their thoughts dwell upon the nature of the trial to which they had been exposed, and even in some regiments to comment and say, ‘We were sacrificed.’ In such questionings there is danger. . . . It could not but happen that regiments which had suffered great losses would be encouraged in the indulgence of a sinister criticism by keeping them long on the ground where their comrades lay maimed and slaughtered.”
And in a foot-note he adds, as if to clinch the nail he is driving:—
"Many will recognize the high authority which is my warrant for venturing this remark, and for insisting on the danger to which the morale (sic) of the Light Division was exposed by its experience on the day of the Alma. Over and over and over again Lord Clyde used to say that no troops in the world could be subjected to such a trial without undergoing a ruinous loss of soldierly confidence."
“Save us from our friends!” Having made this unfortunate selection of a camping ground, Lord Raglan went to dinner, and if we were not quite satisfied of Mr Kinglake’s loyalty to the memory of his host we should detect a most malevolent spirit in the account he now gives of what occurred close to the tent where his Lordship was dining. We give his own sentences, merely stating that by the words “On the day after the battle” he means probably, “In the evening of the day of the battle.”
“On the day after the battle the hundreds of Russians who lay wounded on the English part of the field had been brought to a sheltered spot of ground near the river. There they were laid down in even, parallel ranks, and in such manner that the surface they covered with their prostrate bodies was a large symmetrical oblong. The ground where they lay was at some short distance from the head-quarters’ camp, and but little exposed to view. From this and from other circumstances it happened that not only the wounded Russians, but also the English soldiers mounting guard at the spot were forgotten, and left without food for many hours.”
Mr Kinglake tells us of the “cares” which weighed on Lord Raglan, and this is the way they were met. Plainly we were in danger of incurring the anger of civilized humanity. We were saved! The British army was saved from deep disgrace, for —
“Happily there was a man at head-quarters whose sense of honour and duty was supported by a strong will, by resistless energy, and a soundness of judgment and command of temper rarely united with great activity. Romaine came to know that these poor wounded Russians were lying untended, and he judged that, unless they were cared for, there would be a lasting blot upon the honour of the English name.”
The English race are really much indebted to “Romaine,” and are thankful for the accident by which “he came to know” that there were wounded prisoners about. But what a picture to draw of a vigilant, humane Commander-in-Chief! And yet, as if to brand not only his Lordship’s memory but the reputation of our army with the unworthy stigma of neglecting wounded prisoners, Mr Kinglake goes at great length into the whole story of these 700 and odd men as they lay “in a large symmetrical oblong.” Lord Raglan did not know; “Airey” did not care — his “swooping crest” was bending over his dinner; our officers did not stir, or even make a communication to a proper authority. In all that host there was but one individual, a civilian, who saved the honour of the English nation. The Russians would have remained starving and bleeding to death, and our sentries would have been left without food, but for that one man. Mr Kinglake continues:—
“An officer of the common stamp who had got to be possessed with such a feeling would have cheaply discharged his conscience by making a communication to Lord Raglan, or some other ‘proper authority.’ It was not so that the task was passed on and got rid of. Knowing the weight of the cares pressing upon the Chief, Romaine did not appeal to Lord Raglan, but began to act himself, giving no repose to any whose aid he needed, but disturbing nobody else. Under the power of his generous indignation and strong will all lethargy slowly gave way, and, having obtained 400 lb of biscuit, and the number of hands that were needed to aid him in the undertaking, he toiled at his good work until there was no one in all those prostrate ranks of wounded men who had not been tended with the offer of food and water. It was from 7 in the evening until half-past 11 at night that he thus laboured. At the time, his exceeding zeal made him seem to be acting for the honour of some great cause much more than tender pity; but what he felt he has owned and recorded:— ‘It was the most painful act,’ he says, ‘I ever had to perform. Some of the faces were terrible and ghastly from wounds, and hardly had mouths to eat or drink with. They were faces to haunt one in sleep.’ One young man in the centre of a rank of prostrate soldiers sat up, and succeeded in causing himself to be distinguished as an officer; and although there were few or none among the other sufferers who could speak any tongue but their own, there was a plaintive melody in the sound of the words they uttered which served to convey to a stranger an idea of their gentleness and gratitude. There were some who, in cheerful tones, declined to prolong life by eating, and asked instead for a light. Sankey, of the Quartermaster-General’s Department, entered into Romaine’s feeling with great warmth, and not only shared with him in the bodily labour of tending the sufferers, but helped to overcome the difficulty that there is in wringing new kinds of exertion from people who are over-much regulated. Of course the English sentries, who had been left for a time without food, were at once supplied with biscuit; but it did not at all delight them to have the mere staff of life without any of what they regarded as the more cheering part of their rations. There was no enemy’s force at hand to whom the care of these wounded Russians could be given up; and within the period of the halt on the Alma it was not practicable for the English to do more than get their own wounded men on board ship. So when, on the morning of the 23d, the Allies resumed their advance, the wounded Russians were left where they lay on the banks of the Alma, in charge of a medical officer. As soon as might be they were to be got on board ship and sent to some Russian port under a flag of truce.”
Certain it is, that if “Romaine,” into whose feelings “Sankey” entered with warmth, saved the poor creatures, as no doubt he did, much suffering that night, his generous energies could not continue the struggle with “the lethargy” which gave way so “slowly” at first. The Russians were left as they lay for several days, the victims of horrible neglect. As the army was marching away on the 23d of September, Dr Thompson, of the 44th Regiment, was ordered to take charge of these 700 men — the survivors — with his servant M’Grath alone to assist him. The naval officers who came on that ghastly bivouac afterwards were filled with disgust and indignation. Admiral Dundas, in his official despatch, scarcely concealed his feelings, but reminded Lord Raglan that the doctor and his man were left — the fleet close at hand — in an open country without food or shelter. Mr Kinglake — it is he who chronicles the fact — says that on the margin of that passage of the despatch are the words in Lord Raglan’s handwriting, “They had food!” Now, here is the picture of the men “who had food,” and of what their two devoted attendants had to do:—
“Of the 500 ghastly and prostrate forms which were left to this one surgeon and his one attendant for their only companions, all were so stricken as to be unable to help to lift a body; very many were shattered in limb; very many, still tortured by strong remains of life, were lying on their faces, with their vitals ploughed open by round shot; but some were dying more quickly, and others already lay dead. From time to time during those three days, and to the utmost of their bodily strength, Dr Thompson and his servant laboured to part the dead from the living, to heave corpses away, and get them more or less underground; but when at last succour came, our seamen had to lift out as many as 32 bodies, some in part decomposed, before they could get at the living.”
They lingered thus for six days! No wonder the Governor of Odessa may be excused by Mr Kinglake if he “angered” a little at the sight of the word “humanity” in Admiral Dundas’s letter, and thought himself almost mocked when he was asked to agree that these poor remains of what had once been soldiers might be considered as “non-combatants” till exchanged! There is a warmth of temper against his enemies which impels Mr Kinglake at times to burn like a coal of fire; but of all the accusations which burnt holes in Crimean reputations we do not think a fiercer cinder has been dropped than this. With the fleet at hand, as we have said, this was the state of things:—
“The wounded men carried on board ship were sent to Odessa under a flag of truce; and the number of those who lived to be thus delivered up to their fellow-countrymen was 342; but so utter a weakness had prostrated this suffering mass of human beings, that the Governor of Odessa declared it impossible, for the time, to make out by question and answer how many of them were non-commissioned officers and how many private soldiers.”
This is the first time the story of the wounded at the Alma has been so fully told. It was a forecast of what was to come on ourselves in the winter. And yet there is a great cackling still going on whenever a word is said of the events Mr Kinglake is now forcing on our attention so vividly. And there are critics, honest forsooth, who do not venture to point out what underlies almost every statement in Mr Kinglake’s terrible satire, who are content to reiterate all his statements, swallow all his adulation, and accept all his invective without a moment’s hesitation or scruple!
We find the Allies, on the 21st of September, still halting on the scene of the victory of the previous day. Mr Kinglake undertakes to show that the delay was due to the French. The French have asserted that Lord Raglan was the cause of it, and as Mr Kinglake advocates the theory that the Allies should have advanced at once against the north side, and that Lord Raglan desired to follow that course, he sets himself to prove that the French were alone to blame for whatever occurred at this time. For this purpose he has recourse to some new materials. In the month of February 1856, Mr George Loch, it seems, held a conversation with Sir Edmund Lyons (apparently in an English country house), of which he made a memorandum the same day. Mr Loch showed the paper to Sir Edmund Lyons, who returned it after reading it, “confirming its correctness.” To further authenticate this “piece” a private note is given from the late Duke of Newcastle, dated January 1863. His Grace says,—“I was so often on board his flagship off Sebastopol that you will easily suppose there is little in it” (the memorandum) “which is new to me; indeed, I can corroborate it from other sources of information.” His Grace adds that what is related in page 20 — we do not know what that is — was done “under secret instructions from himself without the knowledge of his colleagues.” Before going further, let us fall down on our knees and return thanks that we ever got a man out of the Crimea alive! Reflect on this. The British Ambassador at Constantinople and the British Admiral were hardly the best friends in the world to begin with! The English Commander-in-Chief made a point of deceiving the French Commander-in-Chief! The Second in Command of the English Navy made a point of setting aside the authority of his Commander-in-Chief by the express suggestion of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army! The Commander-in-Chief of the Army made it a point not to give any account of his opinions to the Home Government! The Duke of Newcastle sent secret instructions without the knowledge of his colleagues to the Second in Command of the Fleet! The Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General would not speak to each other! All intercourse between the Chief of the Cavalry and his General of the Light Brigade was in writing! It was a crowning mercy we got through it all. Well, this “memorandum” relates that on the 20th of September Lord Raglan sent a note to Lord Lyons, requesting him to call at 8 am on the 21st of September. Sir Edmund would have gone, but that he was engaged (in pursuance of secret instructions, perhaps) in a row with Admiral Dundas. “Seven Russian men-of-war,” said the Chief, “have got out and run for Odessa. Go after them!” “Nonsense,” replied Sir Edmund, “Go yourself. They’re not out, and if they are, you are to blame.” The row lasted so long that Sir Edmund did not get up to head-quarters till after noon on the 21st of September. Then Lord Raglan showed him Sir John Burgoyne’s paper, recommending the flank march, against which Sir Edmund at once “urged strong reasons,” and represented that the best chance of success was to try and take the north forts by a coup de main. Lord Raglan “concurred and told Sir Edmund he had already proposed to St Arnaud to advance on the Belbec against the Forts,” but St Arnaud answered that “the troops were tired,” an answer “he could not understand,” and which disappointed him. Sir Edmund went away. On the 22d (“next day”) he returned and saw Lord Raglan, whom he found “in low spirits.” On asking him the cause, his Lordship said the French General had met his proposal to advance across the Belbec by stating that the Russians had thrown up strong earthworks on the banks, and that the Allies could not afford the loss of forcing them. Sir Edmund Lyons went on board a small steamer, reconnoitred the works, and found they were not armed. He reported this (to whom?), “but the French General replied he had already given his officers orders to commence the march round the harbour to the south side.” “It is now (1856) known,” adds Sir Edmund’s reporter, “the Russians had not left 2,000 men in the place, believing it to be untenable.”
It happens that on the morning after the battle of the Alma, before it was yet daybreak, an officer of high rank went over to the British headquarters to ask for orders for the force under his command. He was there told that “the army would not move that day.” Naturally surprised, he asked the reason. The answer (which also pointed out a doubt whether the army would move “the day after” or the “next day after that”) was that Mr Fidler, the Commissary-General, had informed Lord Raglan he could not undertake to feed the army for a day without further preparation. The officer who is here referred to is alive. It so happens, also, that on the 21st of September a British officer of high rank was sent by the French General to Lord Raglan to ask him to move; his Lordship refused on the plea that he must remove his wounded. The officer here referred to is alive. Again, it is a matter of record that St Arnaud and Colonel, now General, Trochu stated that on the day after the battle the English were not ready to move. Lord Lyons, Lord Raglan, and Marshal St Arnaud are no more, and here we have a report by a fourth person of a conversation between himself and one of the three dead men, in which Lord Lyons is made to state what he had said to Lord Raglan and what Lord Raglan stated to have passed between himself and St Arnaud. Even that “memorandum” does not pretend that Lord Raglan was ready to move on the 21st of September. But what are we to think when we find Mr Kinglake deliberately turning on his own “memorandum,” and declaring it is quite wrong in a most important point? “It was not on the evening of the 20th that Lord Raglan sent for Lord Lyons, it was on the 21st.” “It was not on the 21st that Lord Lyons came over to the English head-quarters, it was on the 22d.”
Mr Kinglake having found Mr Loch’s “memorandum” very useful for his purpose adopts its statements, but gets himself into a most extraordinary position by contradicting the dates given in the document on which he relies. There is a day lost between Mr Kinglake and Mr Loch. The former fixes on the 22d as the day of the interview between Lord Raglan and Sir Edmund, and says Sir Edmund’s notes to Lord Raglan prove it. Sir Edmund shows how he could not get up till late in the day “after the battle,” but Mr Kinglake says it was a day later — viz, on the 21st — that Lord Raglan sent for Sir Edmund, and, therefore, it could not have been till the 22d that Lyons saw Lord Raglan. Now, on the 22d, confessedly, the English army was not ready to move, and Mr Kinglake at great length explains how that came to pass, and reviles St Arnaud. Imagine St Arnaud saying on the 22d of September to Lord Raglan that “his men are tired,” while he is writing angrily against our delay! Mr Kinglake, who never lets go his hold of St Arnaud till he is fairly dead, avers that the Marshal was the “hinderer” of the pursuit on the 20th and of the advance on the 21st; but he has just insisted that it was not till the 21st Lord Raglan himself took steps to give effect to his desire to make an advance, which could not be carried out before the 22d. Mr Kinglake is conscious that a keen investigation of his statements must come through the rifts in his clouds of words on the feebleness of Lord Raglan’s military character. He therefore throws up mounds of surmises, conjectures, and hypotheses, and, when these fail, does not hesitate to cast in front of his hero a perfect Redan of myth. Give him time, and he works like Todleben. “Pray pursue,” says Lord Raglan on the 20th. “I can’t,” replies St Arnaud. “My men have left their knapsacks.” “Will you go on now?” asks Lord Raglan on the 21st of September. “No! my men are tired,” rejoins St Arnaud. (Mr Kinglake puts this answer on the 22d by his correction of the memorandum.) “Very well,” retorts the British General, “as you would not go on when I wanted you, I’ll take my time now, so I’ll ship my sick and wounded.” Then, on the 22d St Arnaud (it is Mr Kinglake who is responsible for this tremendous jumble of dates) desires to go on, and Lord Raglan is not prepared, and St Arnaud “suffers himself to write:” — “The English are not ready, and I am kept back just as at Baltchick and just as at Old Fort. It is true they have more wounded than I have and that they are further from the sea. What slowness in our movements! War can hardly be carried on in this way — I rage.” We know what St Arnaud says of the delay, for his opinions are in print. We have no record of these transactions from Lord Raglan himself. And why? Because Lord Raglan never gave any account of his opinions or doings. Mr Kinglake says:—
“Although it is true that in his despatches and private letters he omitted — nay, studiously omitted — to disclose his opinion, he nevertheless often wrote in language which could hardly have come from him unless he had been one of those few who perceived the peril of delay, and lamented the irresistible concurrence of opinion which was inducing the Allies to forego the prompt seizure of their prize.”
And he goes on:—
“Now, a mere disputer, no doubt, may well enough fence and say that these despatches and letters yield no actual proof of the opinion Lord Raglan had formed upon the question of giving the enemy time instead of assaulting at once.”
Assuredly a mere disputer may say much more. But how was it Lord Raglan’s opinion was of so little weight? What had become of his personal “ascendancy?” Where was now the influence of his so-called “severity,” so powerful when the “man Leroy” was still vigorous and eager, with the dying French Marshal? He was afraid of imperilling our relations with France by pressing his views. Afraid of injuring the alliance! Why Mr Kinglake has written hundreds of pages to show how vital the alliance was to the Emperor and to France. He has dwelt again and again on Lord Raglan’s moral supremacy, and yet he shows him to us — most unjustly, as we believe — perpetually giving way on every point when he should have stood firm.
So far we follow the “memorandum” on which Mr Kinglake builds a lofty tower of assertion. He asserts that it had always been taken for granted the Allies would attack the north side. But the “memorandum” says that Lord Raglan had by him on the 21st of September a report by Sir John Burgoyne, prepared, we believe, on the night of the 20th of September, in which the flank march was recommended. Sir John had been in communication with the French Marshal and Engineers by order of Lord Raglan, and they had approved the plan suggested. Therefore, there is no ground whatever for saying that up to September 22d it had been taken for granted that the Allies must march to the north side, and that no alternative had presented itself. Mr Kinglake exerts much ingenuity and expends much verbiage to prove the contrary, but in vain.
The army, on September 23rd, only crept on to the Katcha. Lord Lucan was ordered by Lord Raglan to put his cavalry into a hole called Duvankoi, where it was “exposed to destruction.” Lord Lucan got out of the hole at dusk, and was recalled just as he might have brought some useful information. On the 24th of September it became known through the French that the Russians had blocked up the entrance to Sebastopol by sinking a number of men-of-war. St Arnaud sent the news to Lord Raglan by Colonel Trochu, and added that the Russians had constructed a battery commanding the mouth of the Belbec. Therefore, there was a new crisis, as to which St Arnaud desired Trochu to consult with Lord Raglan, and the march was delayed for three hours while the Allies reconnoitred and decided. It must not be supposed Lord Raglan left any record of what occurred then or on any other occasion when he held conferences with his ally. Mr Kinglake is only able to say, “it seems to have been ultimately agreed to continue the march.” An inspection of the north towards the Belbec confirmed the intelligence that there were works on the left bank of the river. Mr Kinglake now ventures to make a most astounding statement. It is that St Arnaud refused to go on with the campaign — that he had no alternative for a direct attack, and that for a while “the enterprise stopped!” — “the expedition was in danger of coming to an end!” Why, his own “memorandum” states that not only was the flank march mentioned as a matter under consideration, but that when Sir E Lyons returned from his reconnaissance “the French General” had already given orders for the march of his troops to the south side in pursuance of that plan!
“Our General,” Mr Kinglake says, “was
not accustomed to ponder over warlike devices in such a way as to be likely to conceive a violent predilection for one plan or a violent dislike of another.”
But, in defiance of his own judgment, he could engage on a movement described as at once weak and rash, which Mr Kinglake depicts in pitiless scorn. If Mr Kinglake could excite surprise by any vagary of assertion or theory, it would come on us when we find him striving to make Lord Raglan the author of a plan he is said to have struggled against, and then going on to show that Lord Raglan had always approved the object the plan was formed to attain:—
“Apparently he was not much impressed with the hazardous character of the flank march; and, on the other hand, he certainly thought that if once the Allies should be established on the south coast, they would there be on the best ground for attacking Sebastopol.”†
* The Invasion of the Crimea: its Origin, and an Account of its Progress down to the Death of Lord Raglan. By Alexander William Kinglake. William Blackwood and Sons: Edinburgh and London.
† I have always been disposed to consider that Sebastopol should be “attacked on the south side, and Sir John Burgoyne leant strongly to the same opinion.” — Private letter from Lord Raglan to the Duke of Newcastle, September 28th 1854.