War in the East – 5th Jan 1855


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Hard Frost – 5th January 1855

by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper

Friday – 5th January 1855

An extremely hard frost began at midnight, and the thermometer this morning at 21 degreees 10′, or more than 10 degrees of cold. The result may be imagined. The cavalry division lost about sixty horses during the night; and I dread to think of the number of our noble soldiers who will receive their coup de grace from this weather, if it lasts.  I am credibly informed that, out of one division alone 150 men were taken out of the trenches to the hospital tents, seized with cramp and half frozen, not so much perhaps from the cold as from the want of proper clothing and inability to move about to circulate the blood.

About 1600 French soldiers were sent down to-day to Balaklava to help us in carrying up provisions and ammunition.  Each man who is detached on this duty receives from our commissariat a ration of rum and biscuits.  

His Excellency Omar Pasha landed this morning at the Ordnance-wharf very quietly.  The only persons ready to receive him were an artillery officer superintending the landing of shot and shell, and Mr. Macgillivray, the Ordnance Commissariat officer; but the men who were on duty mustered up their strength, and gave the gallant general three hearty cheers in spite of the cold.  He chatted very affably with the officers on duty, rode through the town after short interviews with some of the Turkish officers in command of the poor fellows in the place, and then proceeded to head-quarters. There there was a reunion – shall we calL it a council of war? – at which the French General-in-Chief, the French Admiral, Sir E. Lyons, Sir John Burgoyne, and Lord Raglan, were present.  

The commissary officers are almost at their wits’ end. The transport is all but extinct. The mules and horses are fast going altogether, and the men seem likely to follow them.  It is now (4 p.m.) 23 Fahrenheit, with a bitter fierce wind, and the snow is several feet deep in some places among the vaileys.

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

William Howard Russell on BikWil