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).
Thursday 15th March 1855
We are blessed at last with all the genial influences of a glorious spring. Vegetation is struggling for existence beneath the tramp of armed men and the hoof of the war horse, and faint patches of green herbage dot the brown expanse in which the allied camps have now rested so long. The few fruit-trees which have been left standing near Balaklava are in blossom.
The stumps on the hillsides are throwing out green shoots as outlets for the welling sap; the sun shines brightly and warmly from blue skies streaked with clouds, which are borne rapidly along by the breeze that never ceases to blow from the high lands. Of course, the beneficial effects of this permanent fine weather on the health and spirits of the army are very great, and become more striking day after day. The voice of song is heard once more in the tents, and the men have commenced tuning up their pipes, and chanting their old familiar choruses once more.
Every token of improvement and change that I noticed about the camp and the army has been developed. The railway pushes its iron feelers up the hill-side to the camp. The wire ropes and rollers for the trains have been partially laid down. Every day the plains and hill-sides are streaked with columns of smoke, which mark the spots where fire is destroying heaps of filth and corrupt animal and vegetable matter as sacrifices on the altar of Health. The sanatorium is working in the most satisfactory manner, and has produced the best results. Watercourses are dammed in, and the waters of little streamlets are caught up in reservoirs to provide against drought. Provisions are abundant. Vegetables for the sick, and fresh meat several times a-week, have stopped the ravages of scorbutic disease.
Up to this date about 700 of the huts have been sent to camp and erected. The army, animated by the constant inspection of Lord Raglan, and by the supervision of the heads of the great military departments, is nearly restored, in all but numbers, to what it was six months ago. Balaklava is fast resolving itself into lines of huts. Bakeries, under the control of Government, are established in the town, and the troops will soon be fed on wholesome bread. The silence and gloom of despondency have passed away with the snows and rains and the deadly lethargy of our last terrible winter. The blessed sounds of labour = twice blessed, but that they speak of war and bloodshed – ring throughout the camp, from the crowded shore to the busy lines of batteries in front. It must not be forgotten, however, that the enemy will derive equal advantage from the improvement in the weather. Valley and plain are now as firm as the finest road, and the whole country is open to the march of artillery, cavalry, infantry, and commissariat wagons.
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 BikWil