War in the East – 24 Jan 1855

We continue our series on the Crimean War of 1855, with excerpts from the daily accounts of war events from the Times Newspaper correspondent – William Howard Russell.  Lord Raglan is visiting Balaklava today for a council of war.

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Lord Ragan Visits Balaklava – 24th January 1855

by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper

Wednesday – 24th January 1855

It froze hard last night.  To-day the thermometer is forty-five degrees. There was very smart fighting in the trenches and advanced works between the French and Russians last night and this morning.

About midday Lord Raglan, attended by Major-General Airey and a few staff officers, rode over to Balaklava.  He then went on board the “Caradoc,” and had a long interview with Sir E. Lyons alone, previous to which there was a kind of council of war, at which several officers were present.  Lord Raglan did not return from the town to head-quarters till it was nearly dusk.

I had a long reconnaissance of Sebastopol to-day, in company with an officer of the Horse Artillery.  It was a beautifully clear day, and at times it was almost warm.  We went up to the mound in advance and on the left of the French white picquet-house, and for a long time we swept every inch of ground visible under the glass.  The aspect of the place itself has changed very little, considering the hundreds of tons’ weight of shot and shell thrown into it; but the suburbs, of low whitewashed houses, roofed with tiles, and at most two stories high, are in ruins.  

The enemy have dismantled them as much as we have done.  All the streets of such houses are broken down and blocked up with masses of rubbish.  The roofs, doors, and windows of the houses are all off, but the puffs of smoke from the empty frames showed that the shells were used as covers for the Russian riflemen.  In front of us, and to our left, lay a most intricate and complicated-looking series of covered ways, traverses, zigzags, and parallels thrown from the seaside, close to the Quarantine Battery, and advancing gradually over the undulating land from the first lines, where the French fire was so cruelly snuffed out on the 17th of October, to the distance of sixty five metres from the outer works of the Russians.

The French works are admirably made – very solid and thick, and formed of abundance of strong gabions and sapperoles.  Swarms of Francstireurs lined the advanced parallel, and kept up a continual pop, pop, pop, in reply to the sprits of white smoke from the Russian riflemen behind their advanced works.

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