War in the East

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War in the East – 1854

Sebastopol – The Progress of the Siege – 2nd November 1854

by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper

Thursday – 2nd November 1854

At four this morning we were awakened by a cannonade, which shook the very earth on which we lay.  The Russians have received some information respecting the change and relief of the various covering and working parties, and the result is, that they try their utmost, by flights of cannon shot and shell, to cut up the men and wagons as they go to and fro between the camp and trenches.  We did not reply, and the French contented themselves with a few rounds.  We hear the “distressing intelligence” that 3000 workmen are building huts at Constantinople for the army to winter in, and that they are also fabricating sheds for horses. A “winter” here is a truly dismal prospect.  All that has been written about the beauty of this district and of its fertility is utter rubbish.  There are magnificent mountain ranges over Balaklava, but the country between that town and Sebastopol is a waste, covered with thistles and stones, and intersected by rocky ravines, once full of stumpy brushwood, now full of stumps only.

The weather has been so severe that, for nearly two days, the French could not communicate with their ships.  What would it be with us, who are fed from hand to mouth from Balaklava, if it were taken from us?  The “Emeu,”  which came in yesterday, landed 700 French infantry, of the 3rd Regiment of Foot, to-day, from Constantinople.  There is a great demand for winter clothing just now.  The sales of the deceased officers’ effects are scenes of warm competition for old rugs, greatcoats, cloaks, and horse clothing. A tattered rug fetches 45s. or 50s., a pot of meat 15s., an india-rubber tub 5l., a sponge ll. 5s., a half-worn-out old currycomb and brush may be seen handed over, after a warm contest, for 20s.  Officers perhaps do not know what to do with their money.

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

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil