Below is todays excerpt 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).
War in the East – 2 Apr 1855
Monday 2 April 1855
The belief that our batteries will open on Wednesday or Thursday next is very general. To those who recollect how often they have been disappointed in similar expectations there are large suspicions respecting any day this week, next week, or next month, being the exact time for commencing operations.
There are now four heavy guns in the face of the Mamelon, opposite the right attack. The French, who have hitherto enjoyed comparative repose, are now very hardly worked. They have three night out of seven in the trenches, and take twenty-four hours at a time, as our men do. In proportion as they are employed our overwork diminishes. We have now three nights out of seven in bed as a fair average. The most harassing part of the duties of the French is marching considerable distances to the trenches. Many of the men come from the rear of Lord Raglan’s quarters to the right attack. Our allies send down very large parties and reserves. Not less than 12,000 or 14,000 men are marched on duty for the right alone every night, and the French mass large bodies of men in rear of all their working and covering parties. We cannot afford to send the full complement of men to our batteries, and the engineers and the officers in command of the trenches have frequent difficulties respecting the disposal of the troops, and complaints and reports are not unfrequent in consequence.
Our approaches almost lead us to the advanced Russian works. On Sunday the English engineers threw up a trench within 550 yards of the Garden Battery. The sentries posted along its front entered into that kind of rough joking with the Russians which is popularly called “chaffing,” and the picquets were not more than sixty yards from each other. Although the Russians had a line of double sentries in front of this work, numbering at least 200 men, they did not attempt to disturb our operations. Their principal efforts for the last two days have been directed to the French works on the right, which they shell incessantly. Our allies do not care to return the fire. They are busied in making their approaches and preparing their batteries. The Russians sometimes use very heavy charges of powder, and propel their shot with extraordinary force. As an instance of this I may mention that the day before yesterday a 68-pound shot from the Redan passed right through the parapet of our battery, where it was from eighteen to twenty feet thick, and struck down, but did not kill, a gunner inside the work. They have some excellent artillerymen, and their practice with different charges of powder is very good; but their shell-firing is indifferent, principally owing to their bad fusees.
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