War in the East – 10 Mar 1855

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Below is another excerpt from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, its a daily account from the battlelines during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

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Our Siege Works

Saturday 10th March 1855

THE weather has continued to be so mild and fine, that it is scarcely generous to notice the few Black Sea fogs which have swept over us now and then like shadows and so departed. Our siege works are a kind of Penelope’s web. They are always approaching completion, and never (or at least very slowly) attaining it.

The matter is in this wise: Our engineers now and then see a certain point to be gained by the erection of a work or battery at a particular place. The plans are made, and the working parties are sent down, and after a few casualties the particular work is executed? but, as it generally happens that the enemy are quite alive to our proceedings, without waiting for their copies of The Times, we find that the Russians have, by the time the work is finished, thrown up another work to enfilade or to meet our guns with a direct or angular fire. Then it becomes necessary to do something to destroy the advantageous position of the enemy, and fresh plans are drawn up, and more trenches are dug and parapets erected. The same thing takes place as before, and the process may be almost indefinite but for the space of soil. The front of Sebastopol, between English, French, and Russians, looks like a huge graveyard, covered with freshly-made mounds of dark earth in all directions. Every week one hears some such gossip as this “The Russians have thrown up another battery over Inkermann;” “Yes, the French are busy making another new battery in front of the redoubt;” and so on, day after day, till all confidence in the power of artillery and batteries is destroyed, and the strenuous assurances that “Our fire will most positively open about the end of next week” are received with an incredulous smile. We are overdoing our “positively last nights.”

The French have constructed two new batteries on the right of the position, and are pushing forward the works on their own left and centre. The first “mining” operation occurred the other day, although months have passed since it was alleged that one of the English correspondents had done some mischief by giving to “airy nothing a local habitation,” and talking about a mine which never existed. Yesterday was the day generally assigned for the complete armament of our batteries being concluded, but the artillery were busily engaged in getting up some large sea-service mortars to the front all day, and that labour is to be renewed to-day; so that I do not see much likelihood of our batteries being opened for a short time, even if the French were quite ready. In fact, all speculation with respect to future operations is hazardous, and will be most likely falsified by events.

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