This 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). It makes for grim reading with food, shelter and warm clothing in short supply.
Lord Raglan Visits Balaklava and the Cavalry Camp – 18th January 1855
Thursday – 18th January 1855
Lord Raglan came down to-day to Balaklava. General Airey also came down and inspected an attempt to prepare sleighs for carrying up shot to the front. Lord Raglan visited Lord Lucan, and went over the cavalry camp, which he had not seen since it was formed here. Lord Raglan gave several orders calculated to promote the comfort of the troops, and his unusual presence among the officers and men has been attended with the best effects, and has stimulated every branch of the service at Balaklava and at the depots.
A thaw has set in. There is a great want of fuel and charcoal, and regiments which have sent down for charcoal have not been able to get any.
Friday – 19th January 1855
There have been severe and sudden alternations of temperature within these last few days, but the frost and snow have enabled the men to get up considerable supplies of warm clothing, though the means at our disposal do not permit of the wood for huts being got up to the front. Men have been frozen in their tents, and several soldiers on duty in the trenches have been removed to hospital with severe frost bites, and suffering from the effects of the bitter cold winds and frost. When a path has once been trodden through the snow, men and horses can get along much more easily than if they had to wade through mud or across a country in a state of semi-solution; but temperature in such weather is very trying in a tent, particularly when there is a scanty supply of charcoal and no wood. Many thousands of fine coats, lined with fur and skins, of long boots, and of gloves, mits, and socks have been served out to the men, but I know of regimental hospitals in the front where the sick men in wet marquees have now only one blanket to lie upon at this very date, if the word of the regimental surgeons and the evidence of one’s eyesight are to be believed.
For myself, I must say one of the most melancholy subjects for reflection in the world is the sight of our present army.
Saturday – 20th January 1855
The visit of Lord Raglan to Balaklava last Thursday seems to have had considerable effect in improving the state of the place. Men are at work throwing stones down into the most Curtius-like gulfs in the streets.
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