War in the East – 26 Feb 1855


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Below 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).

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The Zouaves

Monday 26th February 1855


The Zouaves were under arms and in readiness to attack the Russian work in front of us last night, but for some reason or other they did not carry out their project.

Very heavy firing took place all night. The Russian batteries were scarcely ever silent for a minute, and the firing of small arms was incessant all along the front, but more especially on the French, on our right and left. A strong sortie took place on the left, but was quickly repulsed without loss. The Russian riflemen showed in front with uncommon boldness, and in great numbers, and some sharp struggles occurred between them and the allied riflemen for superiority, but, on the whole, the advantage rested with our men, notwithstanding that the Russians fired under cover of their enormous batteries.

The French soldiers, it is said, grow impatient, and demand to be led to the assault. They certainly might begin the work by driving the Russians out of their new trench. The Zouaves are chiefly anxious for the pillage, and they are difficult gentry to deal with. They are exceedingly irritated against the marine infantry, whom they threaten in detail with exceedingly unpleasant “quarters of an hour” at some time to come for their alleged retreat on the morning of the 24th. “Ces sacres matelots” come in for hard language, for the Zouaves have got it into their heads not only that the marines bolted, but that they fired into those before them, who were the Zouaves aforesaid.

In their excessive anger and energy they are as unjust to their comrades, perhaps, as they are complimentary to ourselves, and I have heard more than two of them exclaim, “Ah, if we had had a few hundred of your English we should have done the trick; but these marines – bah!”

General Monet has quite lost one hand, and the other is much mutilated, but he is not so dangerously wounded as was imagined. The Zouaves are said to have lost nine officers killed and missing, and eight officers wounded.


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