War in the East – 2 Feb 1855



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Eagerness for the Assault – 2nd February 1855

by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper

Friday – 2nd February 1855

Nothing unusual last night. Many of the regiments were held in readiness for immediate action. The cavalry were under arms all night. About 200 sick came down and were sent on board the “Ripon.” Many of them were covered with vermin, and their blankets were not sent down with them.  The weather has changed. It is cloudy and overcast, and it blew hard at intervals last night, but the thermometer is still up to forty-two degrees.

The Kassians nave not moved. The “St. Jean d’Acre” is still outside the harbour. The roads are all covered with shakos and have been thrown away by men of the various draughts and regiments recently landed on their way to camp.

Saturday – 3rd February 1855

A very sudden change in the weather, quite characteristic of the climate and of its extreme variations, occurred about one o’clock this morning.  A bitter cold wind sprang up and blew with violence, and the thermometer fell to eighteen degrees.  A deep fall of snow took place, and the whole landscape is once more clothed in white.  It is now freezing intensely. This will put impediments in the way of our railroad making.  The navies are hard at work picking and growling and fighting among themselves.  There was a regular battle on board one of their ships last night, and the Provost-Marshal will have to give a few of them a taste of his quality ere they are brought to a sense of their responsibility in a state of martial law.

There was little firing on the trenches last night. The French had, as usual, a couple of smart fusillades.  Our third parallel, in front of Chapman’s battery, is to be strengthened at last. Every day strengthens the correctness of Sir John Burgoyne’s homely saying about Sebastopol “The more you look at it, the less you will like it.”  Three months ago that officer declared his opinion to be that the place ought to be assaulted.  Now General Niel comes, and we hear that he laughs at the notion of our reducing the place by the fire of artillery.

The French are extremely anxious for the assault. Our army has long been in a condition which induces it to prefer anything to the trenches. It may easily be imagined that General Canrobert is becoming less popular among his soldiers than he was. General Bosquot, who commanded the French movement at Inkermann, is rising in favour, as he is known to be in favour of the bayonet.

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.


Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia