Category Archives: War

Lloyd’s Coffee House

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We discovered this interesting article on the history of the Lloyd’s Coffee Houses – its from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

Read other posts in the London series

Lloyd’s Coffee House

It is difficult to decide whether Lloyd’s Coffee-House is more to be admired for its commercial importance, or for the many acts of benevolence with which its name and its subscribers are associated. This coffeehouse, which derives its name from the individual who first kept it, is over the northern piazza of the Royal Exchange; and though presenting none of those attractions which would allure the gentleman who loves “to take his ease at his inn,” is more frequented than all the other coffee-houses in London. It is indeed the centre of British commerce; the point where it concentrates, and whence it diverges over the globe. A bank post-bill does not obtain a readier currency than an article of intelligence from Lloyd’s, and to name this house as an authority is quite decisive  with every person who knows the means of information it possesses, and its accuracy.

Lloyd’s Coffee-House is the great mart for maritime insurance, and in order to obtain correct information it has agents in almost every port in Christendom, who are in regular communication with it, announcing every event that can in the most remote degree affect the political or commercial interests of the country. It was by these means, that during the late war government was often apprized of events, of which they had received no official intelligence, the arrival and sailing of vessels, a list of captures, accidents, and every thing relating to the shipping interests being regularly kept. One room in this coffee-house is appropriated to subscribers, who pay £25 on being admitted, and four guineas a year. No person, however, can be admitted without being recommended by six members, and approved by the committee of management.

The subscribers to Lloyd’s Coffee-House have been as much distinguished for their patriotic benevolence as for the extent of their commercial relations, and it was with this body that the PATRIOTIC FUND originated. This noble charity, the object of which was to provide relief for the widows and orphans of such as die in their country’s service, as well as to remunerate the wounded, was commenced on the 28th July [1803] with a donation of £20,000. three per cents, by the subscribers to Lloyd’s, independently of their contributions as individuals; and so liberally was their example seconded, that in the course of twelve years the fund amounted to £543,450 18s. 11d., out of which eighteen thousand persons had been relieved. Previous to the formation of the Patriotic fond, “Lloyd’s” had been the source and centre of many liberal subscriptions, particularly in [1794] and [1798]; in the former year upwards of £21,000 was raised tor the sufferers in Lord Howe’s victory, and in the latter £32,000 for the widows, orphans, etc. of the battle of the Nile.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Lloyds Coffee House on Wikipedia

Lloyds of London

The London Stock Exchange – Principal Stock

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We had a ‘dig’ around in our library on the history of the London Stock Exchange and discovered this interesting article which we will publish in several parts over the next few days – its from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

Read other posts in this series on the Stock Exchange

Read other posts in the London series

The London Stock Exchange – Principal Stock

In the Stock Exchange great pains are taken to exclude improper persons, and no one is allowed to transact business there unless admitted a member by ballot. Four days a week the commissioners for the redemption of the national debt attend to purchase stock.

The principal stock is the three per cent, consols, which amount to upwards of 365 millions. The  price of this stock has fluctuated in a singular manner during the last ninety years. In the month of July 1736, it was at 113; in February 1746, at 75; in 1752, at 106; and it continued at various prices, from 70 to 100, until the year 1778. The greatest and most sudden depression that the stocks ever experienced was in the early period of the French revolutionary war. In the month of March [1792] the three per cents, were at 96, and in 1797 they were as low as 48, which is the minimum. Although they had gradually declined every year from the commencement of the war, yet this great depression was owing to the Bank suspending its cash-payments.

As the funds are necessarily much affected by political events, individuals who possess prior or exclusive intelligence will at any time be enabled to speculate with great success. A broker, who, by means of an intelligent Frenchman, with whom he became casually acquainted, obtained the first information of the failure of Lord Macartney’s negotiation with the French Directory, made £16,000 while breakfasting at Batson’s coffee-house, and had he not been timid might have gained half a million; so great was the fluctuation owing to the intelligence being quite unexpected. As real events affect the funds, many efforts have been made to produce the same result by false rumours, and that with great success. The most memorable instance of this was on the 21st of Feb 1815, when a Mr. Random de Berenger, in concert with some stock-jobbing gentlemen, played a singular hoax on the Stock Exchange. Mr. De Berenger had gone to Dover, and personated a French officer just landed with despatches, announcing that in a late action Bonaparte had been killed. After writing to Admiral Foley at Deal, who would have telegraphed the Admiralty had not the foggy weather prevented it, De Berenger set off in a post-chaise to town, drove rapidly past the Royal Exchange spreading the news, which had such an effect that Omnium rose nearly five per cent. The trick was afterwards discovered, and Lord Cochrane, Mr. Butt, and De Berenger were indicted for a conspiracy. They were found guilty; when Lord Cochrane and Mr. Butt were sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, and to pay a fine of £1000 each. De Berenger and some others were sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, and the Hon. Cochrane Johnstone, who was also indicted, quitted the country. This severe example has not been without benefit, as it is the last great attempt at fabricating false news that has been made, though minor rumours are circulated daily.

A singular custom, worthy only of the cupidity and intolerance of a barbarous age, is connected with the Stock Exchange. The number of Jew brokers admitted is limited to twelve, and these only on condition of purchasing the privilege by a liberal gratuity to the lord mayor for the time being. During the mayoralty of Wilkes, one of the Jew brokers was taken seriously ill, and his lordship is said to have calculated pretty openly on the advantage he would derive from filling up the expected vacancy. The son of the broker meeting the lord mayor, reproached him with wishing his father’s death. “My dear fellow” said Wilkes, with that sarcastic humour which was peculiar to him, “you are completely in error, for I would rather all the Jew-brokers were dead? than your father.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The London Stock Exchange on Wikipedia

The London Stock Exchange Website

The London Stock Exchange – 1801

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We had a ‘dig’ around in our library on the history of the London Stock Exchange and discovered this interesting article which we will publish in several parts over the next few days – its from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

Read other posts in this series on the Stock Exchange

Read other posts in the London series

The London Stock Exchange – 1801

Of all the means of making a great fortune, there is none so rapid as by speculating in the public funds. Much has often been gained by bonefide purchases and sales of stock, but the speculation is not thus limited. Individuals who never had a shilling in the funds, or the means of purchasing £100 in the three per cents, will speculate in thousands. The risk is, however, small, and the danger still less, for as they are gambling transactions they are not recoverable in law. A jobber purchases or sells a certain quantity of stock to be received or delivered on such a day. When the time comes, he is not called on for any transfer; all that is required is that he shall pay or receive the difference in the price of that particular stock on the day fixed from that on which the bargain was made; if he has lost, and cannot or will not pay the deficiency, he becomes a defaulter, or, to use the jargon of the Stock Brokers, “is a lame duck,” and is not allowed to enter the Stock Exchange again.

By means of speculating in the funds, we have seen persons who began the world in a humble walk of life, amassing fortunes of nearly a million of money in a few years; and there is the instance of Mr. Rothschild, who a few years ago was a dealer in cloth at Manchester, and now deals in millions contracting for and supplying loans to all the powers of Europe. To the honour of this gentleman it must, however, be said, that although a member of that persecuted people, the Jews, he possesses a heart which does honour to human nature, and that to him every increase of wealth is but an additional means of doing good.

The amount of the national debt, which, during the long war with France, rendered new loans continually necessary, increased the business of the funds so much that the house in Change Alley, where it was transacted, became too limited, and in [1801] it was determined to build a more commodious house for the purpose. Capel-court, once the residence of Sir William Capel, lord mayor in 1504, was fixed upon as a convenient situation for the purpose.

The Stock Exchange, the first stone of which was laid on the 18th of May, [1801], was raised by subscription: the plate which has been placed in the first stone bears an inscription, which after ages may consider as a questionable proof of national prosperity, although evidently intended to record it. Of national good faith it is certainly an indisputable memorial. It states that the public funded debt was then upwards of five hundred millions. There is nothing in the building itself to excite particular attention, although it is conveniently and handsomely fitted up; but there is no place in the world where money transactions are carried on to such an extent, an assertion which will scarcely be doubted by those who consider the fluctuations which must occur in a funded property, which, on the 5th of January [1823], amounted to £796,530,144 15s 4d.

Although the number of persons, among whom this sum is subdivided, is varying almost every day, so as to render any calculation uncertain, yet, in a recent investigation, it was found that there were 283,958 persons who had shares of various amounts in the public funds; and that it requires upwards of twentysix millions yearly to pay the dividends. Of the various fundholders more than 90,000 receive a dividend not exceeding £10 a year; nearly 100,000 more a sum not exceeding £100 per annum; and there are 215 persons who receive an annual income of £4000 and upwards from the funds. This statement is exclusive of those persons who have deposited money in the savings’ banks, the number of which is immense.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The London Stock Exchange on Wikipedia

The London Stock Exchange Website

War in the East – 29 Jun 1855

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This the final installment of our series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper which gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

War in the East – 29 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

 

Friday 29th June 1855

Among the general Orders promulgated yesterday afternoon was the following:-

“The Field-Marshal has the satisfaction of Publishing to the army the following extract from a telegraphic despatch from Lord Panmure, dated the 22nd of June.

” ‘I have Her Majesty’s commands to express her grief that so much bravery should not have been rewarded with merited success, and to assure her brave troops that Her Magesty’s confidence in them is entire.’ “

Within a very few hours after this order had appeared, the electric telegraph brought the melancholy and startling intelligence from head-quarters to the various divisions that the Field Marshal was dead. The cause of his death is stated to have been diarrhoea terminating in cholera. It would appear that he has lately – no doubt from the constant strain on his mental and bodily energies – been far from well, and the death of General Estcourt, to whom he was much attached, the unsatisfactory result of the attack on the 18th inst., and the unhealthy weather since, broke down a constitution already enfeebled by age and long service. The following tells its own melancholy story:

” MORNING GENERAL ORDERS”.

“Head-quarters before Sebastopol, June 29th.

“No. 1. It becomes my most painful duty to announce to the army the death of its beloved Commander, Field-Marshal Lord Raglan, G.C.B., which melancholy event took place last night about nine o’clock.

“No. 2. In the absence of Lieutenant-General Sir George Brown, the command of the troops devolves on me, as the next senior officer present, until further orders are received from England.

“No. 3. Generals of Divisions and heads of departments will be pleased to conduct their respective duties as heretofore.

“J. SIMPSON, Lieutenant-General.”

There is great feeling of regret evinced throughout the camp at the loss of Lord Raglan. His death appears to have at once stilled every other feeling but that of respect for his memory and remembrance of the many long years he faithfully and untiringly served his country.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 26 Jun 1855

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We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper.

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

 

War in the East – 26 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

– In the days before news of the death of Lord Raglan breaks, our correspondent writes:

Tuesday 26th June 1855

The losses in the Land Transport Corps by death would be extraordinary did we not find a parallel to them in the Sardinian army of Tchorgoun, which has lost in three weeks nearly 1000 men by cholera, dysentery, and diarrhoea. The Turks and French encamped in the valley suffer somewhat from the same diseases, but it is observable that the men who die are recruits and old men who are mostly unacclimatized.

At Yenikale the detachment of Land Transport Corps lost in a fortnight fifty men, of whom twenty-five were English and twenty-five native drivers. In its present state it cannot supply all the wants of our army. We could not advance any body of troops without running risks of starvation, and even the 10th Hussars are said to have been unable to keep their horses so far from Balaklava, owing to the want of forage, and their retreat from their advanced position is attributed to that cause rather than to the field-pieces which the Russians brought to bear upon them from an adjoining height.

To understand the difficulties in the way of what is called at home “taking the field” one must come out and stay out here. It would be much easier to take Sebastopol than to take the field. There are only three accessible passes, up the precipitous wall of rock which rises on the north side of the Tchernaya, to the plateau on which the Russians are encamped, and the precipice runs round to the Belbek. These passes are so steep that an army would have some difficulty in ascending them at its leisure, without resistance from any enemy. But they are occupied wherever engineering eyes detect the smallest weakness they are commanded by batteries, intersected by positions threatened by overhanging cliffs all ready for the lever. March round and turn them! Where, and how? We have no transport even if we could march, and we cannot march, because Napoleon himself would never lead an army into such defiles as guard the Russian position. Whether we are not strong enough to detach a great corps of 40,000 or 50,000 men to operate against the Russians north of Sebastopol is not for me to say; but it is certain that the base of operation for any such corps must be the sea, till ample transport is provided.

The Crimea is to all intents and purports a desert – a Sahara, waterless and foodless before an invading army. There is no news of importance to-day.

The mail is closing.  There is no firing or anything of any consequence in the front.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 25 Jun 1855

We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper -giving a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 25 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

 

Monday 25th June 1855

The storm which burst over the south-eastern portion of the Chersonese on Saturday night has done more damage than we could have anticipated. Men were drowncd in ravines converted by the tornado into angry watercourses, were carried off roads by mountain torrents, and dashed against hill sides; beasts were swept away into the harbour and borne to sea; huts were broken up and floated out into the ocean; the burial-grounds near Balaklava were swept bare, and disclosed their grim army of the dead in ghastly resurrection, washed into strange shapes from out their shallow graves; and, greatest calamity of all, the railway was in various places decomposed, ripped up and broken down so as to be unserviceable at our greatest need. Orders have been sent down to urge on the necessary repairs, for the demands of the batteries for shot and shell are pressing, and the electric telegraph has been repeatedly in use to-day to force on the attention of the authorities at Balaklava the necessity there is for their promptest exertions, and to order them to send up supplies of materiel for our fifth bombardment as speedily as possible.

The French say they are quite ready, and they have received from us [1500] 32-pound shot for their guns to-day. The railway fails at a critical period, but even if it were in its usual state we could not hope to be in a condition to begin a heavy fire for some time to come, and I believe it will be fully a fortnight or three weeks before the necessary supplies will be brought up to the front. The repairs to the railway will be effected in ten days. Mr. Beatty and Mr. Campbell are away at Heraclea surveying the coal district, but their representatives are men of energy, and the only obstructions to be dreaded will arise from the “navvies,” some of whom have been behaving very badly lately. They nearly all “struck work” a short time back, on the plea that they were not properly rationed or paid, or that, in other words, they were starved and cheated; but the Provost-Marshal brought some of them to a sense of their situation, and, indeed, the office of that active and worthy person and of his myrmidon sergeants has been by no means a sinecure between “navvies,” Greeks, and scoundrels of all sorts. The Croat insurrection is suppressed, but the Croat idleness has not been by any means stimulated into usefulness. How England is squandering her money broadcast all over this part of the world! The Eupatorians with their 2s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. a-aay, and the Croat with the same stipend, are indeed “beggars set on horseback,” and they fulfil the rest of the proverb.

The poor Turkish soldiers, who get scant pay, say that it would be mach better for them to be those dogs of Croats, who receive as much as their own bimbashis, or majors, than to march in the armies of the Sultan; but Lord Stratford’s hard bargain for us must be accomplished; and it was he who was the benevolent genius who deluged Croatian and Tartar hordes with this flood of wealth. No wonder Colonel M’Murdo finds it difficult to get men for the Land Transport Corps, although even he is obliged to pay 2s. 6d. and 3s. a-day to native suridjees, so completely have we ruined the market.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 24 Jun 1855

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The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

War in the East – 24 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

 

Sunday 24th June 1855

General Estcourt, Adjutant-General of the Army, died this morning at half-past nine o’clock, after three days’ illness. His death has produced a profound impression of regret on all who knew him, for a kinder or more amiable man did not exist. He was unremitting in the discharge of his duties, and no officer ever applied himself to the labours of the desk, which constitute so large a portion of the business of the department over which he presided, with more assiduity and devotion. General Estcourt was taken ill with diarrhoea six days before he died, and at the end of the third day was attacked with cholera, which his strength of constitution and powerful frame enabled him to resist for three days more; but on Saturday night a crisis came on, a dangerous change supervened, and he expired in the morning, soothed by the presence of his wife and of a near female relative. Every care and attention were paid to him.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 23 Jun 1855






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We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper -giving a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 23 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

 

Saturday June 23rd 1855

There is no symptom of any activity on our part or on that of the enemy. They can, however, work without our seeing them. At eight o’clock this evening a thunderstorm, advancing from the mountain ranges over Balaklava and Mackenzie’s farm, burst on the valley of the Tchernaya and on the southern portion of the camp. I never beheld such incessant lightning. For two hours the sky was a blaze of fire. The rain fell like a great wall of water behind us. Not a drop descended over the camp in front, but we could see it in a steep glistening cascade, illuminated by the lightning, falling all across the camp from sea to land, just in front of Lord Raglan’s, and nearly in a straight line, as if marked out by a ruler. The rain is a great relief to our parched reservoirs.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 20 Jun 1855

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We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper -giving a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 20 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Wednesday 20th June 1855

In my former letter*, written hastily and under the depression of our ill success, I could not do more than give a very meagre sketch of the failure of the attack of the allies on the principal points of the Russian defences, and I am not now able to entirely amend my defects.

*A previous letter, communicating the failure of the attack upon the Malakoff and Redan, was not received. The present letter, however, contains full particulars of the assault.

The plan of attack originally proposed was that the allies were to open a cannonade for three hours on the Malakoff and Redan after dawn on the morning of the 18th; that the French were to assault the Malakoff, and that when they had gained possession of it we were to attack the Redan. As the latter work is commanded by the former, it would not be possible to carry or to hold it till the Malakoff was taken.

The fire which we opened on Sunday morning (the 17th) preliminary to the assault was marked by great energy, weight, and destructiveness. In the first relief the Quarry Battery, commanded by Major Strange, threw no less than 300 8-inch shells into the Redan, which is only 400 yards distant, and the place must have been nearly cleared by the incessant storm of iron splinters which flew through it. Throughout Sunday our artillery fired 12,000 rounds of the heaviest ordnance into the enemy’s lines, and on the following day we fired 11,946 rounds of shot and shell. The Russian fire was weak and wild. Had the three hours’ cannonade and bombardment which Lord Raglan decided on administering to the Russian batteries before we assaulted been delivered to them, it is very probable that we should have found but a small body of troops prepared to receive us at the parapets; and it must be esteemed a very unfortunate circumstance that his Lordship was induced to abandon his intention in deference to the wishes of General Pelissier. General Pelissier, in requesting the English General to change the original plan of attack and to forestall the hour which was at first agreed upon, is not stated to have assigned any specific reason for the alteration, but it is reported that he wished to anticipate the enemy, who were about, as he was informed, to make an assault on the Mamelon. He felt, too, that the masses of French whom he had prepared could not be concealed from the Russians for any length of time, and that they would soon be revealed by the noise which always attends the movements of large bodies of men. 

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 13 Jun 1855






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Below is another compelling installment from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 13 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

Wednesday 13th June 1855

KERTCH,

The mission of the fleet and army having been accomplished, the force is on its way homewards. Sir George Brown and his staff are embarked. The Admirals are at Ambalaki. The troops are on board, with the exception of those who are ordered to remain in garrison at Yenikale and Pavlovskaya, and we leave the roadsteads this afternoon for Balaklava and Kamiesch. The streaks of smoke which rise from Kertch, from the Quarantine station, and from the very face of the waters, where the worthless prizes lie burning on the sandbanks, speak for our success. It has keen decided to occupy Pavlovskaya, because it is in a fine position to command the entrance to Kertch and Yenikale, at a place where the channel is narrowed by one of the sandbanks from Taman to the breadth of a mile and a half. The lines which have been thrown up around Yenikale are extremely strong; they are of the most massive and durable character, and reflect great credit on the engineers who designed and superintended their construction. They enclose the ramparts of the old town, and present on every side towards the land a broad ditch, a steep parapet, defended by redoubts, and broken into batteries, which are aided by the fire of the pieces on the walls. In fact, the place is lost to Russia so long as we like to keep it.

The point or bank of Tchechka, opposite Yenikale, is one of the many extraordinary spits of land which abound in this part of the world, and which are, as far as I know, without example in any other country. Of all these, the Spit of Arabat, which is a bank but a few feet above the water, and is in some places only a furlong in breadth, is the most remarkable. It is nearly 70 miles in length, and its average width is less than half-a-mile from sea to sea. The bank of Tchechka (or Szavernaia Rosa), which runs for nearly eight miles in a south-westerly direction from Cape Kammenoi past Yenikale, closes up the Bay of Kertch on the west, and the Gulf of Taman on the east, is a type of these formations, and is sufficiently interesting to deserve a visit. It only differs from Arabat in size, and in the absence of the fresh water wells, which are to be found at long intervals on the great road from Arabat to Genitchi. It is so low, that it is barely six feet above the level of the sea into which it runs. A bank of sand on both sides of the spit, piled up three or four feet in height, marks the boundary of the beach. The latter, which is a bank of shingle, shells, and fine sand, is only a few yards broad, and is terminated by the sand and rank grass and rushes of the spit, which rise up a foot or two above the beach. In the interior or on the body of the bank there are numerous lagunes – narrow strips of water much more salt than that of the adjacent sea. Some of these are only a few yards in length and a few feet in breadth, others extend for a quarter of a mile, and are about 100 yards broad. They are all bounded alike by thick high grass and rushes. The bottom, which is found at the depth of a few feet – often at two or three inches – consists of hard sand covered with slimy green vegetable matter. The water abounds in small flounders and dabs, and in shrimps, which leap about in wild commotion at an approaching footstep. Every lagune is covered with mallards and ducks, in pairs, and the fringes of the spit are the resort of pelicans and cormorants innumerable. The silence, the dreary solitude of the scene, is beyond description. Even the birds, mute as they are at this season, appear to be preternaturally quiet and voiceless. Multitudes of odd, crustaceous-looking polypous plants spring up through the reeds; and bright-coloured nycatchers, with orange breasts and black wings, poise over their nests below them. The first day I went over we landed on the beach close to the battery which the Russians placed on the spit at the Ferry station. It consisted of a quadrangular work of sandbags, constructed in a very durable manner, and evidently  not long made. In the centre of the square there was a whitewashed house, which served as a barrack for the garrison. The walls only were left, and the smoke rose from the ashes of the roof and rafters inside the shell. Our men had fired it when they landed. A pool of brackish water was enclosed by the battery, which must have been the head-quarters of ague and misery. The sailors said the house swarmed with vermin, and had a horrible odour. Nothing was found in it but the universal black bread and some salt fish. The garrison, some 30 or 40 men probably, had employed themselves in a rude kind of agriculture, and farming or pasturage. Patches of ground were cleared here and there, and gave feeble indications that young potatoes were struggling for lite beneath. Large ricks of reeds and coarse grass had been gathered round the battery, but were now reduced to ashes. At the distance of 100 yards from the battery there was another whitewashed house, or the shell of it, with similar signs of rural life about it, and an unhappy-looking cat trod gingerly among the hot embers, and mewed piteously in the course of her fruitless search for her old corner. The traces of herds of cattle, which were probably drivaen down from the mainland to feed on the grass round the salt marshes, were abundant.

 

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

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