Englands Oldest Handicrafts

 

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ENGLANDS OLDEST HANDICRAFTS

 Below is an article from The Antiquary Volume 35 by  Edward Walford, John Charles Cox and George Latimer Apperson – published in 1899.  It covers the early English Handicraft trade and the beginning of working in precious metals.

WORKING IN PRECIOUS METALS.  by ISABEL SUART ROBSON.

Alfred’s Jewel – BackWorking in precious metals and in bronze was one of the earliest and most important industries practised by our forefathers in this country. Many antiquaries have questioned whether the production of decorative objects actually preceded the Roman invasion. According to Holinshed’s Chronicle “collars of gold and silver wrought for women’s necks” were a part of the tribute which the Emperor Augustus laid upon this island, and it is scarcely probable that ores would have been sought here by other nations if ornaments of metal made in this country had not been carried abroad.

The earliest settlements of Saxons undoubtedly included goldsmiths and bronzeworkers, for as a race they were accustomed to wearing ornaments of precious metal, made with a skill and artistic taste which do credit to their handicraft. The monasteries, in Saxon times no less than in later ages, were the schools and cradles of arts and industries. Alcuin, who was living at the close of the eighth century, and founded several monasteries, is especially mentioned in medieval chronicles as the patron of handicrafts. He was the friend of Charlemagne, and went on one occasion to Parma to confer with that monarch on matters connected with the goldsmith’s craft, and to discuss means for improving the making of crosses, shrines, and vessels for the churches. The results of this conference Alcuin confided to the monks in England, and richly chased, hammered and enamelled gold, silver, and bronze vessels made by his instructions long enriched the great abbeys of St. Albans, and Gloucester. St. Dunstan more than any other exerted himself to encourage handicrafts, and at the school founded by him at Glastonbury pupils were taught, among other things, working in precious metals and bronze. Later he was taken as the patron saint of goldsmiths, and the records of city companies abound in notices of the ceremonies which took place in his honour on special occasions. Many of the abbots were themselves noted artists. Bishop Bernward, who lived at the close of the tenth century, executed some beautiful Sticks (which are now in Kensington Museum) for the abbey where he learnt his art. Another Bishop-artist was Brithnodus of Ely, whose four images, covered with silver-gilt and precious stones, the glory of the abbey, had to go, with many other ornaments, to appease the resentment of William the Conqueror against this last stronghold of saxons.

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Further Reading and External Links

Bishop Bernward on Wikipedia

Matthew Boulton – Working in Precious Metals – 1773

Matthew Boulton and James Watt formed a partnership in 1773 after Boulton took a share in Watts engine as settlement of a debt.  Today they are honoured for their work in superior coinage with them both featuring on the new £50 banknote.  Below is an article from The Antiquary Volume 35 by  Edward Walford, John Charles Cox, George Latimer Apperson and published in 1899 – featuring Matthew Boulton.

Matthew Boulton – Working in Precious Metals – 1773

Portrait Medal of Matthew BoultonThe “Industrial Revolution,” as the struggle between handicraft and machinery has been called, largely changed the aspect of the gold and silversmiths’ work, though methods remained little different for many years. The picturesque in the old life became stern reality; the mediaeval workshop became the factory.

A representative worker in metal under these new conditions was Matthew Boulton, a native of that “ancient town of smiths,” Birmingham. He came to the craft as the potter’s son comes to the wheel, his father being the owner of a prosperous manufactory for stamping and piercing silver. To this business Matthew Boulton succeeded in [1759], resolved to still further extend it, and openly announcing his determination to adopt every invention which promised as good work at a quicker rate and diminishing labour.

When extended premises became a necessity, he purchased a tract of barren heath, near Birmingham, named Soho, where he started a factory for the production of “honest and artistic articles,” in gold and silver, steel, tortoiseshell and various compositions. One of his first inventions was a new way of inlaying steel, followed by many novel methods of decorating buttons, trinkets, buckles and ornaments. It is, however, for what he accomplished in the improvement of our coinage that Boulton’s name will be longest remembered. After assiduous experiments at his own factory at Soho he produced an improved coinage machinery, and also a perfected coinage which was introduced by him to the Mint of London, and also to the Russian, Spanish, Danish, and Indian Mints. It was only in [1882] that a Boulton Press, at the Mint, Tower Hill, was finally discarded.

Though co-operation enters largely into all work done by gold and silversmiths to-day, all really good productions are handwork, and the labour in many instances is as costly as the material used. The work differs from mediaeval handicraft in possessing less originality and individual flavour, whilst the workman is more a mechanical agent fulfilling another’s design than in olden days. In some cases the worker and designer are one, and a harmony of form and decoration is then gained, often missing in work which passes through several hands. The mediaeval smithing naturally forms the model with which modern workers compare their work, and it is their pride to acknowledge that, given time, they could produce plate equal in every point. To quote the words of a well-known metalworker of to-day, “the desire of the public to buy cheaply too frequently compels workers to send out articles much below the degree of excellence they could easily achieve.”

Much elaborate and beautiful work is done in Birmingham and Sheffield by means of the lathe or wheel upon which the metal is “spun,” and with the die with which metal is stamped in order to shape the article required. A vessel made by the latter process would have two completed halves, fashioned first, and the soldering of these together would form a second process. In point of durability and intrinsic value, such a piece of plate would fall far short of the handmade vessel beaten out of one piece of metal until the requisite shape was gained.

English artificers have always been quick to adopt new styles of work and the method of foreign workers.

Excerpt from The Antiquary Volume 35 by  Edward Walford, John Charles Cox, George Latimer Apperson and published in 1899

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Further Reading and External Links

BBC News – New £50 banknote – featuring Matthew Boulton and James Watt

War in the East – 18 Apr 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 – 18 Apr 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.

Tuesday 18 April 1855

FOURTH DIVISION CAMP

OUR fire is very much diminished to-day. The Russian fire is also slackened just in proportion as they find our guns do not play on them. The French batteries have also relaxed a little in their energies. Even were there no considerations connected with the state of the siege and of our supplies of ammunition involved in this diminution of the weight of our bombardment and cannonade, it must be remembered that, unless with constant reliefs, four hour spells at working heavy guns in the heat, dust, and blood of the trenches will wear out the strongest men.

At present the men are employed in repairing damages, in replacing injured guns and platforms, etc. There was exceedingly heavy firing last night and this morning. 

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 – Brookes Intentions

 

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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 or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – Brookes Intentions

James Rajah Brooke

Hearing that some members of Sir Robert Peel’s Government had stated that they did not understand Brooke’s intentions, the Rajah wrote rather indignantly – “December 31, [1844]…. I am surprised, however, that they say they do not  understand my intentions. Independently of my published letter, I thought they had had my intentions and wishes dinned into them. My intention, my wish, is to develop the island of Borneo. How to develop Borneo is not for me to say, but for them to judge. I have, both by precept and example, shown what can be done; but it is for the Government to judge what means, if any, they will place at my disposal. My intention, my wish, is to extirpate piracy by attacking and breaking up the pirate towns; not only pirates direct, but pirates indirect. Here again the Government must judge. I wish to correct the native character, to gain and hold an influence in Borneo proper, to introduce gradually a better system of government, to open the interior, to encourage the poorer natives, to remove the clogs on trade, to develop new sources of commerce. I wish to make Borneo a second Java. I intend to influence and amend the entire Archipelago, if the Government will afford me means and power. I wish to prevent any foreign nation coming on this field; but I might as well war against France individually, as to attempt all I wish without any means.

Was this policy not clear enough? Had it been followed, the independent portion of the Eastern Archipelago would have been completely under our influence, and would have ended by becoming practically ours. We should have had New Guinea and the islands adjacent, and thus given the Australians a free hand to develop what certainly should be considered as within their sphere of influence. How the English Rajah’s policy was wrecked, I must explain later on; at this time [1845] all seemed advancing to its fulfilment.

In the meantime the British Government were acting in their usual cautious, half-hearted way. They did not really care a rush about Borneo or the Eastern Archipelago, and I have no doubt that the subordinate members of the Government offices looked with disgust on those who were urging them to intervene in Borneo. They hated any new thing, as it forced them to study and find out what it was all about. But as they could not stand still, they sent out Captain Bethune to inquire. He arrived in February, in H.M.S. Driver and brought with him the temporary appointment of Brooke as Her Majesty’s confidential agent. This was a distinct advance, as he had now to proceed to the capital to deliver officially a letter from the Queen to the Sultan and the Government of Brunei. With Captain Bethune came Mr Wise, the Rajah’s agent in England.

In Brunei they did not find Muda Hassim’s Government very firmly established, as they were threatened not only by Pangeran Usop, a connection of the Sultan’s and a pretender to the throne, but by the pirates of the north, with whom Usop was in league. During their stay in Brunei, both Brooke and Captain Bethune examined the coal seams near the capital, but they do not appear to have been considered workable, as no one has ever attempted to open a mine there. The quality of the coal has been pronounced good, and as the seams crop out of rather lofty hills it cannot be considered as surface coal.

 

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

A Diary of Two Parliaments – 16 April 1874

Over the coming weeks and months we are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.

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

The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880

The Conservative Budget

Thursday 16th April 1874

Houses of ParliamentProbably on no occasion has the House of Conservative Commons been more crowded than it was tonight, when Stafford Northcote rose to disclose the financial proposals of the Conservative Government. Every seat in the body of the House was occupied, and a little throng stood at the bar. Members filled the double row of seats in the gallery opposite the Treasury bench, some, for lack of better accommodation, sitting on the steps of the gangway. The only place where seats were unoccupied was the back bench in the gallery opposite, and here an additional score of members would have filled it to overflowing.

The various galleries over the clock devoted to the accommodation of strangers more or less distinguished were early filled to their utmost capacity. Amongst other members of the Upper House present were the Earl of Airlie, Lord Stafford, Lord Annesley, Lord Carlingford, and the Earl of Devon, a country neighbour of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gladstone, who had not been present in the House throughout the week, prolonged his absence over to-night; but Bright was there, taking his seat on the front Opposition bench for the first time this Session. Lowe, Goschen, Childers, Forster, and Stansfeld were amongst the ex-Ministers present.

The full strength of the Ministry was displayed on the Treasury bench, Disraeli with his left hand swathed in a black silk bandage, suffering, it was said, from an attack of gout.

When the questions had been put and answered, the Premier rose, and Walking down the House faced about at the cross benches on the right-hand side, and stood there a moment or two whilst Stafford Northcote occupied the attention of the Speaker.

“Mr. Disraeli!” said the Speaker, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had resumed his seat.

“A Message from the Queen” responded the right hon. gentleman, advancing, bowing to the chair, and handing in the document.

As he passed up the House all the members uncovered, and remained with bared heads whilst the Speaker read how the Queen, taking into consideration the momentous services rendered by Sir Garnet Wolseley in planning and conducting the Ashantee campaign, recommended her faithful Commons to grant him a sum of £25,000. Disraeli moved that the Message be referred to the Committee of Supply, and amid a buzz of conversation hats were with one consent replaced.

The buzz of conversation deepened into a cheer and then died away into profound silence, when, just on the stroke of five o’clock, the House having resolved itself into Committee of Supply, Stafford Northcote rose to make his speech.

Sir Stafford resumed his seat at twenty minutes to eight, after having spoken two hours and forty minutes. For the greater part of that time he, contenting himself with a plain business style of talking, managed to engross the attention of the Committee, though his hold was once or twice imperilled by a tendency to entertain the Committee with those replies to the arguments of deputations on the Budget, which he took credit to himself for refraining from delivering in the presence of the deputations themselves. During one of these somewhat frequent interludes, when he was replying at length to the arguments of the promoters of the repeal of brewers’ licences, the House began rapidly to thin. But, on the whole, he succeeded in maintaining the interest of his hearers; and the loud cheers that burst forth as he sat down did not all come from the Conservative benches.

Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885

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Further Reading and External Links

The Author – Henry W Lucy on Wikipedia

Benjamin Disraeli on Wikipedia

 

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – The Attack on the Sakarangs

 

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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 or search our library here.

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke –  The Attack on the Sakarangs

James Rajah BrookThe attack on the Sakarangs was similar in its incidents to that on the Seribas. The river was staked, but nothing could stop the onset of the invaders. The town was taken without much opposition; but the greatest loss on the British side was incurred from the imprudence of a scouting party. Brave old Patingi Ali had been sent ahead to reconnoitre, when, probably urged on by a Mr Stewart, who had been concealed in his boat, he proceeded too far; and when a large force rowed down the river to attack him, he found his retreat cut off by long rafts which had been pushed off from the banks and completely closed the river. He and his party were overwhelmed, and out of seventeen men only one escaped; Mr Stewart was among the killed.

Having completed their work, Captain Keppel and Brooke pulled back to Patusin, where they were joined by Sir Edward Belcher and the boats of the Samarang. They now all returned to Sarawak, but within a few days after their arrival the news came that the Arab chiefs and their followers were collecting at Banting on the Linga, the chief village of the Balow Dyaks, under the protection of Sherif Jaffer. The expedition immediately returned, and drove off the intruders; and Pangeran Budrudin, in the name of the Bornean Government, deposed Sherif Jaffer, and so settled the country, under the advice of Brooke, that comparative peace reigned there for nearly five years.

At this time it was calculated that Sarawak had received an increase of five thousand families, or, more probably, individuals; it was a genuine proof of the confidence of the people of the coast in the only spot where peace and security could be obtained, but it was also a sign of the terror inspired by the piratical fleets, and the general bad government of the districts under the rule of the native chiefs.

The greatest service Sir Edward Belcher ever did for Sarawak was the removal of Muda Hassim to Brunei. He had been long anxious to leave, but he would not do so, except in state. So Sir Edward arranged that not only the rajah and his immense family should be received on board the Company’s steamer the Phlegethon, but as many of his rascally followers as possible; and then, with Brooke on board, the Samarang set sail for Brunei. The expedition was received with some suspicion, but ultimately Muda Hassim and the Sultan were to all appearance reconciled, and the former was restored to his position as prime minister. An offer was made by the Sultan to cede Labuan to England as a British settlement, and that offer was transmitted to the English Government. Labuan is an island off the mouth of the Brunei and neighbouring rivers, which appeared admirably adapted for a commercial and naval post, and the discovery of coal there settled the point.

As soon as Muda Hassim had departed from Sarawak, and Brooke was left, de facto as well as de jure the only governor, confidence in his remaining in the country grew rapidly, and trade improved. But the negotiations which his friends were carrying on with the British Government moved slowly and drew forth some impatient remarks from him. Henceforth I may occasionally call him the Rajah, par excellence as he now was in truth the only rajah in Sarawak.

Catch-up with earlier posts in the James Rajah Brooke series here or search our library here.

Catch-up with our series on Henry Keppel here.

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

Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – Bare Feet

 

 

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  This is the ninth installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

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

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – Bare Feet

In my early days, the small-arm companies used to drill with bare feet. Indeed, boots were never worn on board. It was of course impossible to wear boots going aloft, for a sailor going aloft in boots would injure the heads and hands of his topmates. Occasionally the midshipmen went aloft barefooted like the men. So indurated did the feet of the sailors become, that they were unable to wear boots without discomfort, and often carried them when they were ashore.

A sailor’s offences were hardly ever crimes against honour. They rather arose from the character induced by his calling. Its conditions were hard, dangerous and often intensely exciting. The sailor’s view was devil-may-care. He was free with his language, handy with his fists and afraid of nothing. A smart man might receive four dozen for some violence, and be rated petty officer six months afterwards. Condemnation was then the rule. Personally, I endeavoured to substitute for it, commendation. For if there are two men, one of whom takes a pride in (say) keeping his rifle clean, and the other neglects it, to ignore the efficiency of the one is both to discourage him and to encourage the other.

Before the system of silence was introduced by the Marlborough the tumult on deck during an evolution or exercise was tremendous. The shouting in the ships in Malta Harbour could be heard all over Valetta.

The Marlborough introduced the “Still” bugle-call. At the bugle-call “Still” every man stood motionless and looked at the officer. For in order to have an order understood, the men must be looking at the officer who gives it.

During the Soudan war, I used the “Still” at several critical moments. Silence and attention are the first necessities for discipline. About this time the bugle superseded the drum in many ships for routine orders.

There were few punishments, the chief punishment being the cat. The first time I saw the cat applied, I fainted. But men were constantly being flogged. I have seen six men flogged in one morning. Even upon these painful occasions, the crew were not fallen in. They were merely summoned aft “for punishment” – “clear lower deck lay aft for punishment” was piped – and grouped themselves as they would, sitting in the boats and standing about, nor did they even keep silence while the flogging was being inflicted. The officers stood within three sides of a square formed by the Marines. Another punishment was “putting the admiral in his barge and the general in his helmet,” when one man was stood in a bucket and the other had a bucket on his head.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

War in the East – 13 Apr 1855

 

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Below is todays excerpt 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).

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

War in the East – 13 Apr 1855

Friday 13 April 1855

At four o’clock, a.m., the Russians opened a powerful and destructive fire on our six-gun advanced battery, which was in a very imperfect state, and by concentrating the fire of twenty guns on it, dismounted some of the pieces and injured the works severely, so as to render the battery useless for the day. Our working party only succeeded in getting one gun into the new battery this morning, owing to causes I have already mentioned, although they worked till it was nearly dawn. Our mules were lost, fifty of them at least, by the Land Transport Corps, returning from the trenches last night, as the officers could not find their way, and the animals got loose. On every side I hear loud complaints against the ramrods of the Enfield rifles, or rather against the mode in which they are fixed in the weapon. The least rain or damp so swells the wooden stock into which the steel ramrod runs, that it is impossible to draw the latter, and it has been also said that the locks are become wood-bound, in which state, of course, they will not act.

Friday Noon.

The Sailors’ Brigade have again suffered very severely. Although they only work thirty-five guns in the various batteries, they have lost more men than all our siege train-working and covering parties put together, and up to half-past three o’clock they had had seventy-three men killed and wounded, two officers killed, one wounded, and two or three contused. The sailors in No. 2 Battery, in Chapman’s attack, silenced three of the best guns in the Redan yesterday, but the Russians replaced them during the day, and actually opened fire at five p.m. from the very embrasures which had been knocked to pieces. The reports of injury done to our batteries have been greatly exaggerated. In addition to the 13-inch mortar, which was burst, and the Lancaster destroyed by a shot, there have been only four guns disabled by the enemy’s fire, and one of our 9-pounders, directed against the Rifle-pits, has been “dinted” by a shot. One of our 24-pounders was burst by a shot which entered right at the muzzle as the gun was being discharged. Another gun was struck by a shot in the muzzle, split up to the trunnions, the ball then sprung up into the air, and, falling at the breech, knocked off the button. There are only three guns firing from the Round Tower this morning, but the enemy has mounted a heavy gun in the Mamelon, at which we are at present directing our fire. The Redan is very much damaged on the right face and front already, and three of the embrasures, at least, are knocked to pieces. It is impossible to deny to the Russian engineers great credit for the coolness with which they set about repairing damages under fire; but words cannot do more than justice to the exertions of our own men, and to the Engineer officers and Sappers engaged in this most perilous duty.

When an embrasure is struck and injured, it is the business of the Sappers to get up into the vacant space and repair the damage, removing the gabions, etc., under fire, and without the least cover from shot, shell, or riflemen. Our Engineer officers have frequently set the example to their men in exposing themselves when not called upon to do so, and I believe that, as yet, there has not been a single instance in which a gun has been silent owing to damage done to an embrasure. Poor Jack pays the penalty of his excessive courage in the loss which he sustains. The sailors will not keep under cover. When they fire a gun they crowd about the embrasures and get upon the parapets to watch the effect of the shot, and the result is that they are exposed to many more casualties than the artillerymen, who are kept under cover by their officers. Yesterday, under the very heat of the fire, a Russian walked through one of the embrasures of the Round Tower, coolly descended the parapet, took a view of the profile of the work, and sauntered back again a piece of bravado which very nearly cost him his life, as a round shot struck within a yard of him, and a shell burst near the embrasure as he re-entered it.

Two divisions of Turkish Infantry have just marched from Kamiesch, past the head-quarters’ camp, towards Balaklava. They mustered about 15,000 men, and finer young fellows than some of the soldiers of the crack regiments I never saw. Very few of the privates wore decorations or medals, but many of the officers had them, and had evidently seen service against the Muscovite. They had had a long march, and their sandal shoon afforded sorry protection against the stony ground; and yet it was astonishing that so few men fell out of the ranks or straggled behind. One regiment had a good brass band, which almost alarmed the bystanders by striking up a quick step (waltz) as they marched past, and playing it in very excellent style, but the majority of the regiments were preceded by musicians with drums, fifes, and semicircular thin brass tubes, with wide mouths, such as those which may have tumbled the walls of Jericho, or are seen on the sculptured monuments of primaeval kings.

The colonel and his two majors rode at the head of each regiment, richly dressed, on small but spirited horses, covered with rich saddle-cloths, and followed by pipe-bearers and servants. The mules, with the tents, marched on the right, the artillery marched on the left. The two batteries I saw consisted each of four 24lb. brass howitzers, and two 9lb. brass field-pieces, and the carriages and horses were in a very serviceable state. Each gun was drawn by six horses. The ammunition boxes were rather coarse and heavy. The baggage animals of the division marched in the rear, and the regiments marched in columns of companies three deep, each company on an average with a front of twenty rank and file. One of the regiments had Minie rifles of English make, the majority, however, were only armed with flint firelocks, but they were very clean and bright. They all displayed rich standards, blazing with cloth of gold, and many-coloured flags with the crescent and star embroidered on them. All the men carried their blankets, squares of carpet for prayer and sitting upon, and cooking utensils, and their packs were of various sizes and substances.

As they marched along in the sunlight over the undulating ground, they presented a very picturesque and warlike spectacle, the stern reality of which was enhanced by the thunder of the guns at Sebastopol, and the smoke-wreaths from shells bursting high in the air. On ascend
ing the range of hills towards Balaklava, they must have been seen by the Russian army over the Tchernaya, and by the Cossacks on Canrobert’s Hill.

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 – 12 Apr 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.

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.

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

War in the East – 12 Apr 1855

Thursday 12 April 1855

At dawn this morning, the allied batteries and the Russians recommenced their terrible combat as usual, and it was evident that the enemy had exerted themselves greatly to repair damages during the night, and that they had replaced four or five damaged guns, mended broken embrasures and injured parapets, and were, in fact, nearly as ready to meet our fire as they had been at any time for the last six months.

On our side, four of the guns for the advanced parallel, which for the previous two nights we had failed to get into position, were at last brought down after dark, and it is expected that material results will be produced by their fire when they are in position. Broken platforms were removed and damaged guns replaced by others. The morning was hazy, and the rain fell at times, but towards the afternoon the weather cleared up again, and the heights were crowded with spectators, many of whom were Turkish officers recently arrived from Eupatoria. An English lady on horseback, who rode up to Cathcart’s Hill, attracted nearly as much attention from these gentlemen as the cannonade. Our batteries throughout the day fired steadily, and if their cannonade was less imposing in appearance than when they sent forth salvoes and irregular bursts of fire and smoke, it was probably more effective. Orders were sent to all the batteries to restrict the firing to 120 rounds per gun each day. The vivacity of the sailors’ batteries has been diminished by that order, but their practice is splendid, and the enemy have directed their heaviest fire on them in reply.

The 13-inch mortar battery fires parsimoniously one round per mortar every thirty minutes, but it requires a long time to cool the great mass of iron heated by the explosion of 12lb. or 16lb. of powder. The English battery on the right at Inkermann has been very well served, and has caused great damage to the enemy, and the Round Tower has been almost shut up; nor did the Mamelon fire a shot for the four hours I was watching it.

The portion of the town opposite the French is a heap of ruins. The incessant shelling at night has done much mischief to the private houses. Our allies fire to-day with great energy. Their Inkermann and Tchernaya batteries are admirably served, and they have not only kept down the firing of the Mamelon, aided by Gordon’s Battery, but they have also answered the batteries on the north side of the harbour, the Inkermann Cave Batteries, and have silenced for the present the Lighthouse Battery No. 2.

Our fire from Gordon’s Battery and its advanced works has swept away the Rifle-pits, has damaged some six or seven guns in the Round Tower, and has kept under the fire from one face of the Redan, while the fire from Chapman’s Battery has been very successful against the Redan, the Barrack Battery, the Road Battery, and the Garden Battery. The French on the left have done great mischief to the Garden Battery also, and their fire has crushed the guns of the Flagstaff Battery (Batterie du Mat) completely, but they suffer considerably from the Quarantine Fort and its outworks, and from the Dockyard Harbour Battery. “We have quite destroyed the small but heavily-armed and destructive battery called that of “Careening Bay,” recently constructed by the Russians; but of course we have sustained considerable losses in a contest of artillery waged with a skilful and determined enemy.

The cannonade has never ceased all day, but it is not so heavy on the whole as it has been for the three previous days. At fifty minutes past four the batteries relaxed firing, but they renewed it at six, and the fire was very severe till nightfall, when the bombardment commenced and lasted till daybreak. Up to this date we have barely lost 100 men in killed and wounded, and we can see that the Russians suffer frightfully, judging by the wounded they send across to the north side.

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 Apr 1855

 

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Below is todays excerpt 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.

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.

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

 

War in the East – 11 Apr 1855

Wednesday 11 April 1855

The expectation which the outsiders entertained that the fleet would go in this morning, has not been realized. At daybreak I was up at Cathcart’s Hill to witness the opening of our fire, and with some hope that I might see, too, the first broadsides of our wooden walls. It was a thick morning, and the view was obscured by vapours and drizzling rain, but the dark hulls and rigging of the steamers and line-of-battle ships were visible through the mist; and, though clouds of steam were flying from the funnel-pipes, it was quite evident that the fleet were only off the port, and had no intention of taking part in the bombardment. Only one officer, Captain Norcott, of the Rifle Brigade, was up at that part of the front which is close to the lines of his regiment, and a few stragglers had crept out of the adjoining tents to look at the town and its long lines of battery.

Through the grey light the flashes of the guns lighted up the embrasures, and the shot cleft the air with a dull, hoarse roar, and struck with a heavy throb into the earthworks. Our shells were bursting right into and over the Mamelon, which the French were also plying from their Inkermann batteries. The Round Tower now and then fired one of the three or four heavy guns which are placed in the west angle works, but the Redan and Garden batteries were worked with vigour. On the left the whole of the outlines of the town and of the French batteries were obscured by the smoke from the guns, which hung in heavy white wreaths on the ground. The fire was very heavy and the riflemen in front of the batteries kept up a sharp fusillade on the embrasures, which was sometimes audible in the lulls of the cannonade. It was tolerably evident that the Russians had more than recovered from their surprise, and that they had laboured to recover the ground they had lost with all their might. Their batteries were fully manned; and. their fire, if not so precise as our own, was very quick. They occasionally resorted to their old practice of firing off six or seven guns in a salvo – a method also adopted by the French occasionally.

As the rain set in again soon after six o’clock nothing more was to be seen, and we returned to our tents. The cannonade continued all day uninterruptedly, but irregularly, and as soon as the rain ceased and the batteries were visible, I returned to Cathcart’s Hill. I could not see that any marked change had been made in the profile of the enemy’s 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