Category Archives: Reports

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Buah Ryah

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Buah Ryah

As dinner was over, we removed to a short distance from our chiefs to have our meal in quiet, and to express to each other our indignation at the decision to which our naval commander had come. Some others joined us, equally disappointed. Towards the end of the meal, I could not help raising my glass and saying aloud, ‘Oh, for one hour of bonnie Keppel’ Captain Farquhar sprang up and came over to us to inquire what I meant. We told him why we considered his determination very detrimental to the cause, as we were approaching Buah Ryah’s stronghold. He urged, however, the fatigue of his men, who had been pulling many days in succession against a strong current. We proposed a day’s rest, but on a hint from Sir James I gave up the discussion. He thought as I did, that Buah Ryah would, with some reason, proclaim that we were afraid to attack him, and would be thus encouraged to hold out. This actually happened, and thus the pacification of these districts was delayed for many years.

There is no doubt that the English sailors were really tired, and possibly also dissatisfied, as all the skirmishing was done by our native contingent, who forged ahead of the slow-pulling men-of-war’s boats. How we missed the special boats of the Meander. The sailors, however, might have been sure that had there been any real fighting ahead, all would have waited for them. As we gloomily fell down the river we met thousands of natives who were coming to join our expedition, and who were desperately disappointed that Buah Ryah had not been punished. When near the mouth of the Kanowit we were hailed by the inhabitants of the villages we had destroyed. A conference ensued; they showed their faith in the white man by boldly pulling out to our prahus. They did not attempt to deny their piracies, but promised amendment; and most of these chiefs kept their word.

As we returned towards Sarawak the native chiefs of all the trading towns on the coast came to express their unbounded thanks to the English Rajah and to the Queen’s forces for the punishment they had inflicted on the pirates, and the prospect it held out of trade being carried on free from danger of pillage and death.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Sulu Sultan

James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Sulu Sultan

The Meander soon sailed from Sulu, and after calling at Samboangan, the Spanish penal settlement in the island of Mindanau, we returned to our colony of Labuan, where we were pleased to find that all the officers were well, and that they had removed from the swampy plain to the higher land behind it. There was, however, but little progress visible, as the fever panic still prevailed. We did not stay long here, as the Rajah was anxious to begin operations against the Seribas and Sakarang pirates, who had again commenced to ravage the coast. We reached Sarawak on the 16th February. A daring attack of the Seribas Dyaks on the Sadong district, when they captured over a hundred heads, made us move out with our native fleet to pursue them, but a return of the north-east monsoon drove us to shelter. Later on, accompanied by the boats of the steamer Nemesis, we destroyed some of their inland villages, and thus kept them quiet for a time.

To crush these pirates, however, we required a stronger force, and had to wait for the arrival of one of Her Majesty’s ships. In the meantime, in order to save the independence of Sulu, threatened both by the Dutch and the Spaniards, Sir James determined to proceed there in the steamer Nemesis and negotiate a treaty. After calling in at Labuan, we continued our course to the Sulu seas. We were received by the Sultan and nobles in the most friendly manner, and Sir James had no difficulty in negotiating a treaty which, had it been ratified and supported, would have effectually preserved the independence of the Sultan. Our intercourse with these people was most interesting. Preceded by his fame, Sir James soon made himself trusted by the brave islanders, and one proof was that the Sultan asked him to visit him in a small cottage, where he was then staying with a young bride. I was among those who accompanied our Rajah, and on the darkest of dark nights we groped our way there. The Sultan was almost alone, and he soon began to converse about his troublesome neighbours, the Dutch and the Spaniards, expressing a strong hope that the English would support him.

Sir James explained to him our position in Labuan, and cordially invited his people to come and trade there, assuring him that the English had no designs on the independence of their neighbours, but that they only wanted peace and the cessation of piracy. One or two nobles dropped in, and the conversation turned on the subject of hunting, and our hosts proved themselves eager sportsmen, and invited us to return when the rice crop was over and they would show us how they hunted the deer, both on horseback and on foot. The Sultan, during the evening, took a few whiffs of opium, whilst the rest of the company smoked tobacco in various forms. The women were not rigidly excluded, as they came and looked at us whenever they pleased; but we could not see much of them, and it is a form of politeness to pretend not to notice their presence. After a very enjoyable evening, we bade farewell to the Sultan, as we were to sail the following day.

Sir James Brooke had intended to return there, establish himself on shore for a month, and join the nobles in their sports, and thus acquire a personal influence over them. He thought he could wean them from intercourse with the pirates and turn them into honest traders. It must be confessed that when we were there we had abundant evidence that the Balignini and Lanun pirates did frequent the port to sell their slaves and booty and lay in a stock of arms and ammunition. Sir James was, however, persuaded that if British war steamers showed themselves every now and then in Sulu waters, the pirates would abandon these seas. The moment was propitious; the Spaniards had just destroyed the haunts of Balignini, capturing many and dispersing the rest. The sanguinary defeat of eleven of their vessels in [1847], by the Nemesis, was not forgotten, and it required but a little steady patrolling to disgust the nobles with this pursuit; in fact, many had sold their war vessels and guns, saying, that now the English steamers were after them, it was no longer the profession of a gentleman. I never met natives who pleased me more; the young chiefs were frank, manly fellows, fond of riding and hunting, and our intercourse with them was very pleasant. It was always a matter of regret with me that I never had an opportunity of visiting them again.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Labuan

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Labuan

In the first days of October we embarked on board the Meander and sailed for Labuan, where we arrived on the 7th. Labuan lies, as I have stated, off a large bay, into which flow the Brunei, the Limbang, the Trusan, and many other rivers, and seemed well adapted for a commercial and naval station. It has a fine harbour and plenty of coal, and as we arrived on a bright day, the place looked very attractive. A broad grassy plain, which skirted the harbour, was about three quarters of a mile deep, then it met the low hills and thick jungle. Our houses had all been constructed near the sea, with the plain behind us, and their neat appearance, although only of native materials, quite delighted us. Keppel soon sailed to tow down to Singapore H.M.S. Royalist which had been dismasted by a sudden squall, and we were left to the care of a few marines and blue-jackets.

The south-west monsoon was now blowing fiercely, and brought up with it heavy clouds and drenching rain, and our plain speedily became a fetid swamp, which laid many low with fever and ague. In an interval of fine weather we proceeded to Brunei in the Jolly Bachelor, a vessel belonging to the Rajah, but manned by blue-jackets, the steam tender Ranee and some other boats, to ratify our treaty with the Sultan, and found prepared for us a long, low shed of a house, in which we all took up our quarters. Brunei was in truth a Venice of hovels, or rather huts, perched on posts driven into the mud banks found in the broad river. Everything looked as though it were falling to decay the palace, the mosque, the houses of the pangerans, in fact, the whole city of perhaps 20,000 inhabitants. The wretched Sultan was even then suffering from a disease cancer on the lip which carried him off a few years subsequently. He was a mean-looking creature, and his previous atrocities had earned for him the description, ‘the head of an idiot and the heart of a pirate.’ After finishing our business we returned to Labuan.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

War in the East – 26 Jun 1855

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We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper.

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

 

War in the East – 26 Jun 1855

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.

– In the days before news of the death of Lord Raglan breaks, our correspondent writes:

Tuesday 26th June 1855

The losses in the Land Transport Corps by death would be extraordinary did we not find a parallel to them in the Sardinian army of Tchorgoun, which has lost in three weeks nearly 1000 men by cholera, dysentery, and diarrhoea. The Turks and French encamped in the valley suffer somewhat from the same diseases, but it is observable that the men who die are recruits and old men who are mostly unacclimatized.

At Yenikale the detachment of Land Transport Corps lost in a fortnight fifty men, of whom twenty-five were English and twenty-five native drivers. In its present state it cannot supply all the wants of our army. We could not advance any body of troops without running risks of starvation, and even the 10th Hussars are said to have been unable to keep their horses so far from Balaklava, owing to the want of forage, and their retreat from their advanced position is attributed to that cause rather than to the field-pieces which the Russians brought to bear upon them from an adjoining height.

To understand the difficulties in the way of what is called at home “taking the field” one must come out and stay out here. It would be much easier to take Sebastopol than to take the field. There are only three accessible passes, up the precipitous wall of rock which rises on the north side of the Tchernaya, to the plateau on which the Russians are encamped, and the precipice runs round to the Belbek. These passes are so steep that an army would have some difficulty in ascending them at its leisure, without resistance from any enemy. But they are occupied wherever engineering eyes detect the smallest weakness they are commanded by batteries, intersected by positions threatened by overhanging cliffs all ready for the lever. March round and turn them! Where, and how? We have no transport even if we could march, and we cannot march, because Napoleon himself would never lead an army into such defiles as guard the Russian position. Whether we are not strong enough to detach a great corps of 40,000 or 50,000 men to operate against the Russians north of Sebastopol is not for me to say; but it is certain that the base of operation for any such corps must be the sea, till ample transport is provided.

The Crimea is to all intents and purports a desert – a Sahara, waterless and foodless before an invading army. There is no news of importance to-day.

The mail is closing.  There is no firing or anything of any consequence in the front.

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

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Sarawak Flag

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James Brooke became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in 1841 after inheriting £30,000 and investing it in the schooner ‘The Royalist’ and sailing for Borneo. 

We are publishing a blog series that covers his adventures – taken from one of the books in our library called Rajah Brooke by Sir Spenser St John published in 1899.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1848 – Sarawak Flag

About three weeks after our arrival, the surveyor, the late Mr Scott, afterwards Sir John Scott, and Captain Hoskins, harbour-master, were sent ahead to prepare the necessary buildings for the officers that were to follow. This was our first mistake. Neither of these gentlemen knew anything about tropical countries, nor even the language of Borneo, and fixed the site of the settlement on a grassy plain, that turned into a swamp as soon as the rainy season commenced. Had the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr Napier, been sent ahead, or had Mr Low (now Sir Hugh Low), the Colonial Secretary, accompanied the advance party, their special knowledge of the Tropics would have saved us the consequences of this disastrous error. After a long and apparently unnecessary delay of three months and a half at Singapore, we sailed in the Meander for Sarawak. Before our departure, however, news arrived that Her Majesty had been pleased to name Mr Brooke a K.C.B., and he was duly installed before we left that British settlement.

On September 4, [1848], the Meander anchored off the Muaratabas entrance of the Sarawak river, and the reception accorded to their Rajah by the native inhabitants made a deep impression, not only on me, but on all who witnessed it. The whole population turned out to meet him, and the river, as far as the eye could reach, was thronged with boats. Everything that could float was put into requisition the trading vessels, the war boats carrying their crews of a hundred, a few unwieldy Chinese junks, and every canoe in the capital. All were gaily dressed, and the chiefs crowded on board the frigate. At 1 p.m. we left under a royal salute, with yards manned and hearty cheers from the crew, and started for a six hours’ pull to the capital. We arrived after sunset and found every house brilliantly illuminated. The Rajah’s reception at Government House, where all the English were assembled, was naturally very hearty, and soon the whole place was crowded with natives.

Finding that during his absence the piratical tribes had recommenced their raids on the neighbouring towns, the Rajah thought of forming a league of the well-disposed districts, and therefore introduced a flag, which was not only a Sarawak flag, but might be used by any member of the league. This flag was hoisted, with great ceremony, on the staff in front of the Government House, and it is now used along the whole coast as far as, and in a place or two beyond, the Sultan’s capital.

About this time a mission, under the auspices of the Church of England, was established in Sarawak, and great hopes were entertained of its success. I may as well mention who were the members of the Rajah’s staff. While we were at Kuching, his nephew, Captain Brooke of the 88th, joined him as A.D.C., but as he was to be the Rajah’s heir in Sarawak it was thought he would soon retire from the army; then Arthur Crookshank, who had hitherto represented him in Borneo; Charles Grant, his private secretary; Brereton, at that moment unattached; and myself, secretary to the Commissioner.

Excerpt from Rajah Brooke, published in 1899 by Sir Spenser St John

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Further Reading and External Links

James Rajah Brooke on Wikipedia

The Royalist Schooner

War in the East – 20 Jun 1855

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We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper -giving 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.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 20 Jun 1855

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.

Wednesday 20th June 1855

In my former letter*, written hastily and under the depression of our ill success, I could not do more than give a very meagre sketch of the failure of the attack of the allies on the principal points of the Russian defences, and I am not now able to entirely amend my defects.

*A previous letter, communicating the failure of the attack upon the Malakoff and Redan, was not received. The present letter, however, contains full particulars of the assault.

The plan of attack originally proposed was that the allies were to open a cannonade for three hours on the Malakoff and Redan after dawn on the morning of the 18th; that the French were to assault the Malakoff, and that when they had gained possession of it we were to attack the Redan. As the latter work is commanded by the former, it would not be possible to carry or to hold it till the Malakoff was taken.

The fire which we opened on Sunday morning (the 17th) preliminary to the assault was marked by great energy, weight, and destructiveness. In the first relief the Quarry Battery, commanded by Major Strange, threw no less than 300 8-inch shells into the Redan, which is only 400 yards distant, and the place must have been nearly cleared by the incessant storm of iron splinters which flew through it. Throughout Sunday our artillery fired 12,000 rounds of the heaviest ordnance into the enemy’s lines, and on the following day we fired 11,946 rounds of shot and shell. The Russian fire was weak and wild. Had the three hours’ cannonade and bombardment which Lord Raglan decided on administering to the Russian batteries before we assaulted been delivered to them, it is very probable that we should have found but a small body of troops prepared to receive us at the parapets; and it must be esteemed a very unfortunate circumstance that his Lordship was induced to abandon his intention in deference to the wishes of General Pelissier. General Pelissier, in requesting the English General to change the original plan of attack and to forestall the hour which was at first agreed upon, is not stated to have assigned any specific reason for the alteration, but it is reported that he wished to anticipate the enemy, who were about, as he was informed, to make an assault on the Mamelon. He felt, too, that the masses of French whom he had prepared could not be concealed from the Russians for any length of time, and that they would soon be revealed by the noise which always attends the movements of large bodies of men. 

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

War in the East – 13 Jun 1855






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Below is another compelling installment 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.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 13 Jun 1855

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.

Wednesday 13th June 1855

KERTCH,

The mission of the fleet and army having been accomplished, the force is on its way homewards. Sir George Brown and his staff are embarked. The Admirals are at Ambalaki. The troops are on board, with the exception of those who are ordered to remain in garrison at Yenikale and Pavlovskaya, and we leave the roadsteads this afternoon for Balaklava and Kamiesch. The streaks of smoke which rise from Kertch, from the Quarantine station, and from the very face of the waters, where the worthless prizes lie burning on the sandbanks, speak for our success. It has keen decided to occupy Pavlovskaya, because it is in a fine position to command the entrance to Kertch and Yenikale, at a place where the channel is narrowed by one of the sandbanks from Taman to the breadth of a mile and a half. The lines which have been thrown up around Yenikale are extremely strong; they are of the most massive and durable character, and reflect great credit on the engineers who designed and superintended their construction. They enclose the ramparts of the old town, and present on every side towards the land a broad ditch, a steep parapet, defended by redoubts, and broken into batteries, which are aided by the fire of the pieces on the walls. In fact, the place is lost to Russia so long as we like to keep it.

The point or bank of Tchechka, opposite Yenikale, is one of the many extraordinary spits of land which abound in this part of the world, and which are, as far as I know, without example in any other country. Of all these, the Spit of Arabat, which is a bank but a few feet above the water, and is in some places only a furlong in breadth, is the most remarkable. It is nearly 70 miles in length, and its average width is less than half-a-mile from sea to sea. The bank of Tchechka (or Szavernaia Rosa), which runs for nearly eight miles in a south-westerly direction from Cape Kammenoi past Yenikale, closes up the Bay of Kertch on the west, and the Gulf of Taman on the east, is a type of these formations, and is sufficiently interesting to deserve a visit. It only differs from Arabat in size, and in the absence of the fresh water wells, which are to be found at long intervals on the great road from Arabat to Genitchi. It is so low, that it is barely six feet above the level of the sea into which it runs. A bank of sand on both sides of the spit, piled up three or four feet in height, marks the boundary of the beach. The latter, which is a bank of shingle, shells, and fine sand, is only a few yards broad, and is terminated by the sand and rank grass and rushes of the spit, which rise up a foot or two above the beach. In the interior or on the body of the bank there are numerous lagunes – narrow strips of water much more salt than that of the adjacent sea. Some of these are only a few yards in length and a few feet in breadth, others extend for a quarter of a mile, and are about 100 yards broad. They are all bounded alike by thick high grass and rushes. The bottom, which is found at the depth of a few feet – often at two or three inches – consists of hard sand covered with slimy green vegetable matter. The water abounds in small flounders and dabs, and in shrimps, which leap about in wild commotion at an approaching footstep. Every lagune is covered with mallards and ducks, in pairs, and the fringes of the spit are the resort of pelicans and cormorants innumerable. The silence, the dreary solitude of the scene, is beyond description. Even the birds, mute as they are at this season, appear to be preternaturally quiet and voiceless. Multitudes of odd, crustaceous-looking polypous plants spring up through the reeds; and bright-coloured nycatchers, with orange breasts and black wings, poise over their nests below them. The first day I went over we landed on the beach close to the battery which the Russians placed on the spit at the Ferry station. It consisted of a quadrangular work of sandbags, constructed in a very durable manner, and evidently  not long made. In the centre of the square there was a whitewashed house, which served as a barrack for the garrison. The walls only were left, and the smoke rose from the ashes of the roof and rafters inside the shell. Our men had fired it when they landed. A pool of brackish water was enclosed by the battery, which must have been the head-quarters of ague and misery. The sailors said the house swarmed with vermin, and had a horrible odour. Nothing was found in it but the universal black bread and some salt fish. The garrison, some 30 or 40 men probably, had employed themselves in a rude kind of agriculture, and farming or pasturage. Patches of ground were cleared here and there, and gave feeble indications that young potatoes were struggling for lite beneath. Large ricks of reeds and coarse grass had been gathered round the battery, but were now reduced to ashes. At the distance of 100 yards from the battery there was another whitewashed house, or the shell of it, with similar signs of rural life about it, and an unhappy-looking cat trod gingerly among the hot embers, and mewed piteously in the course of her fruitless search for her old corner. The traces of herds of cattle, which were probably drivaen down from the mainland to feed on the grass round the salt marshes, were abundant.

 

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

War in the East – 11 Jun 1855

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Below is another compelling installment 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.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

War in the East – 11 Jun 1855

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.

Monday 11th June 1855

OFF YENIKALE,

HAD I been aware that this expedition would have been so barren in everything but considerable strategical and great political results, I certainly would have hesitated before I abandoned the camp before Sebastopol. The mode of defence adopted by the Russians has left one nothing to write about. Corn ricks blazing. batteries and forts blown up, and stores and magazines gutted and burnt, offer but little variety of detail. We have inflicted great ruin on the enemy, but they have emulated our best efforts in destroying their own Settlements. Our haste to attack has not exceeded their precipitation to retreat.

The intelligence of the destruction of Anapa has had rather a perplexing effect on the authorities, who do not seem well prepared for the enemy anticipating their intentions, and for such eccentric operations of war as those of the Russians, who delight to do the work of hostile fleets and armies, and to burn and blow up their own forts and settlements. However, the embarkation of the troops goes on as usual. The Turks have been reinforced by 2000 men, who were landed yesterday. The French force is all embarked, except about 2500 men. The news of the destruction of Anapa was brought by Mr. Hughes, who sailed over in an open boat from the coast near Anapa to the Admiral, who lay off Ambalaki.

Two o’clock, P.M.

The whole expedition will return to Balaklava forthwith, with the exception of the 71st Regiment, which has been ordered to disembark again from the “Valorous” and “Sidon.”

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

Llanrwst – Davydd ap Siencyn – Carreg y Gwalch – 1461

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Below is an excerpt from Archaeologia Cambrensis Volume 6 published in 1860 – The Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Association.  It mentions the freebooter (outlaw) Davydd ap Siencyn and his hideout at the Llanrwst cave Carregygwalch – recently an ancient spear was unearthed at Carregygwalch with the story featuring in the North Wales Weekly News.


Llanrwst – Davydd ap Siencyn – Carreg y Gwalch – 1461

Owen Glyndwr’s wars, which continued during the first fifteen years of the fifteenth century, had so desolated the country that deer grazed in Llanrwst church-yard, and the marketplace was green with grass. Before the ravaged country could be restored, the wars of York and Lancaster occurred, when an outlaw, called Davydd ap Siencyn, had full sway over Nan Conwy. Several fruitless expeditions were directed against the stronghold of this freebooter, at Carregygwalch. “All the whole country,” says Sir J. Wynne, “was then but a forest, waste of inhabitants, and all overgrown with woods.”

What these locusts had left, the canker-worm at Yspytty Ifan was fast consuming, when Meredith ap Ifan removed his residence to the neighbourhood, saying he “should find elbow room in that vast country among the bondmen.” He picked out a hundred and forty of the strongest and bravest yeoman he could find, and armed them as bowmen, with sword, dagger, steel cap and armolet coat. Of these he placed one or two in each tenement of his, at convenient distances, for mutual assistance in case of alarm. They soon provided themselves with “chasing-slaves,” probably scouts on foot, to watch and harass their adversaries. By the aid of this active tenantry, thus judiciously posted, and devoted to his interests, Meredydd ap Ifan soon subdued the sanctuary of robbers at Yspytty, and gave rest to the troubled land.

It appears that there were above a hundred of these banditti at that place, well horsed and appointed. They had friends and accomplices to harbour them and their plunder in several of the adjoining counties. It is probable that, upon the expulsion of these villains, they, or some of them, fixed themselves at Dinas Mowddwy, which the depredations of a gang of robbers, called “gwylliaid cochion,” soon afterwards made as notorious as Yspytty had been. Their last act of violence was the murder of Baron Owen, when going to the assizes in 1555, which caused their speedy extirpation.

Excerpt from Archaeologia Cambrensis Volume 6 published in 1860 – The Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Association.

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Further Reading and Useful Links

Ancient Spear found in Llanrwst – North Wales Weekly News Story

War in the East – 7 Jun 1855






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Below is another compelling installment 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.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

War in the East – 7 Jun 1855

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.

Thursday 7th June 1855

At four o’clock this morning a still and sluggish atmosphere, half mist, half the result of gunpowder, hung about the town, and, the Sun enfilading, as it were, all the points of view from his low level in the horizon, telescopes were put out of joint for the moment. The Redan, however, which stands up boldly in front of the hills that slope from Cathcart’s Mound, gave some evidence of having yielded to rough treatment, the jaws of its embrasures gaping, and its fire being irregular and interrupted. Captain Peel came by, on his way up from the trenches, about five, very dusty and powdery. His reckless and dauntless seamen had been making beautiful practice, and had met with what must for them be considered a very moderate proportion of loss, having to record two deaths only and fourteen wounds during the fifteen hours, and, with one exception, the last were not very serious.

At nine a cool breeze, much stronger than usual, sprang up, and continued throughout the day, blowing the wreaths of smoke out of the batteries, and carrying off the solid little round nebulae extemporized by bursting shells, which can only be compared in their expansion to the genie who, in the Arabian Nights, comes out of the iron pot sealed with Solomon’s seal. The whole range of fire from right to left became visible in a bright sun, that for once was not a scorching one. On the extreme left, towards the Quarantine, there was very slight firing from the French. The perpetual hiss and crack of shells was still the chief point of contrast with the last bombardment in April. The enemy either could not or would not keep up a very vigorous reply. All the early part of the day we had the work very much to ourselves, but, since it has been very much the habit of the Russians to knock off work in the hotter part of the twenty-four hours, no very important disclosure was contained in this fact.

About eleven o’clock a shell from the Russians exploded a magazine in our eight-gun battery, and a yell of applause followed the report. Very slight harm happily resulted from the explosion – one man was killed, one wounded, and a few scorched a little.

 

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