War in the East – 10 Apr 1855

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Below is todays excerpt from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper, it gives a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago). The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

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War in the East – 10 Apr 1855

Tuesday 10 April 1855

It was nearly noon before the Russians recovered their surprise and manned the whole of their guns, and we gained a decided advantage by the secrecy with which the day of opening fire was kept, and by the excellence of our arrangements. In the extreme right Inkermann Battery, manned by our artillerymen, the guns, in consequence of a message from our allies that they were suffering from our silence, were opened before ail was quite in readiness, and the result was that the enemy inflicted some damage on us in consequence of their being able to concentrate their fire before it was taken off by the other batteries.

The casualties in the first day’s cannonade on our side were not numerous. In the Naval Brigade one most excellent and zealous young officer, Lieutenant Twyford, of the “London,” lost his life. He was killed on the spot, and a piece of stone knocked up by the same shot struck Lord John Hay on the face, cut his mouth, and knocked two of his teeth down his throat, besides wounding him in the shoulder.

The cannonade on both sides commenced at dawn to-day, and it was apparent that the Russians had quite recovered from the surprise of the preceding day, for they opened with tremendous salvoes from their batteries. Our gunners “gave them as good as they got,” and soon silenced several of their most troublesome guns. The practice from the left of the left attack and from the right of the right attack, which was more under observation than other parts of our works, was admirable, and at every shot the earth was knocked up out of the enemy’s parapets and embrasures. Our shell practice is not so good as it might be, all on account of bad fuses. If the fuse burns properly, the direction and flight of the shells are unerring, but a large proportion burst in the air. Some of our fuses were made in [1802] and subsequently. I have heard of some belonging to the last century, but they are not the least reliable, and some of very recent manufacture have turned out the worst of all. At twelve o’clock at noon the fire slackened. The French had silenced eight or nine of the guns of the Bastion du Mat (Flagstaff), and had inflicted great damage on the outworks and on the buildings inside the batteries in the western tower. They bad also almost shut up the Inkermann Batteries. On our side we had silenced half the guns in the Redan and Round Tower, and had in conjunction with the French left the Mamelon only one out of seven guns to reply to us, but the Garden Battery, the Road Battery, and the Barrack Battery were comparatively uninjured, and kept up a brisk fire against us all day.

Our guns were restricted to eight shots an hour each. The seaservice mortars fired only once in every thirty minutes. The Russians, with great sangfroid, repaired the batteries outside under the second bombardment fire, and appear to have acquired confidence and courage, but their fire was by no means so brisk as it was when the siege commenced last year. On our side six guns were disabled, including one large mortar. From two till four o’clock the firing was very heavy on both sides. It then slackened for half an hour, and at thirty minutes past four it recommenced, and there was one continuous roar of cannon and mortars till darkness set in. Then the French began to throw in shells by five and six at a time, and discharged quantities of rockets into the town, and our mortars kept up a steady fire at the Redan and Mamelon till daybreak. His Excellency Omar Pasha visited Lord Raglan to-day, and a council of war took place at our head-quarters, at which the French generals assisted. The day was dark, and drizzling mists fell at intervals; in the early morning it rained heavily.

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