War in the East – 10 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 – 10 Apr 1855

Tuesday 10 April 1855

It was nearly noon before the Russians recovered their surprise and manned the whole of their guns, and we gained a decided advantage by the secrecy with which the day of opening fire was kept, and by the excellence of our arrangements. In the extreme right Inkermann Battery, manned by our artillerymen, the guns, in consequence of a message from our allies that they were suffering from our silence, were opened before ail was quite in readiness, and the result was that the enemy inflicted some damage on us in consequence of their being able to concentrate their fire before it was taken off by the other batteries.

The casualties in the first day’s cannonade on our side were not numerous. In the Naval Brigade one most excellent and zealous young officer, Lieutenant Twyford, of the “London,” lost his life. He was killed on the spot, and a piece of stone knocked up by the same shot struck Lord John Hay on the face, cut his mouth, and knocked two of his teeth down his throat, besides wounding him in the shoulder.

The cannonade on both sides commenced at dawn to-day, and it was apparent that the Russians had quite recovered from the surprise of the preceding day, for they opened with tremendous salvoes from their batteries. Our gunners “gave them as good as they got,” and soon silenced several of their most troublesome guns. The practice from the left of the left attack and from the right of the right attack, which was more under observation than other parts of our works, was admirable, and at every shot the earth was knocked up out of the enemy’s parapets and embrasures. Our shell practice is not so good as it might be, all on account of bad fuses. If the fuse burns properly, the direction and flight of the shells are unerring, but a large proportion burst in the air. Some of our fuses were made in [1802] and subsequently. I have heard of some belonging to the last century, but they are not the least reliable, and some of very recent manufacture have turned out the worst of all. At twelve o’clock at noon the fire slackened. The French had silenced eight or nine of the guns of the Bastion du Mat (Flagstaff), and had inflicted great damage on the outworks and on the buildings inside the batteries in the western tower. They bad also almost shut up the Inkermann Batteries. On our side we had silenced half the guns in the Redan and Round Tower, and had in conjunction with the French left the Mamelon only one out of seven guns to reply to us, but the Garden Battery, the Road Battery, and the Barrack Battery were comparatively uninjured, and kept up a brisk fire against us all day.

Our guns were restricted to eight shots an hour each. The seaservice mortars fired only once in every thirty minutes. The Russians, with great sangfroid, repaired the batteries outside under the second bombardment fire, and appear to have acquired confidence and courage, but their fire was by no means so brisk as it was when the siege commenced last year. On our side six guns were disabled, including one large mortar. From two till four o’clock the firing was very heavy on both sides. It then slackened for half an hour, and at thirty minutes past four it recommenced, and there was one continuous roar of cannon and mortars till darkness set in. Then the French began to throw in shells by five and six at a time, and discharged quantities of rockets into the town, and our mortars kept up a steady fire at the Redan and Mamelon till daybreak. His Excellency Omar Pasha visited Lord Raglan to-day, and a council of war took place at our head-quarters, at which the French generals assisted. The day was dark, and drizzling mists fell at intervals; in the early morning it rained heavily.

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

Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Nature of Discipline

 

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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 eighth 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 – The Marlborough

The Nature of Discipline

Among the ship’s company were several negroes. At that time, it was often the case that the captain of the hold and the cooper were coloured men.

An instance of the rapidity and efficiency of the organisation of the Marlborough occurred upon the night before she sailed for the Mediterranean. She was newly commissioned, and she carried a large number of supernumeraries on passage. We took out 1500 all told, A fire broke out on the orlop deck; the drum beat to quarters; every man instantly went to his station, to which he had previously been told of; and the fire was speedily extinguished. The event was my first experience of discipline in a big ship.

The nature of the discipline which was then in force, I learned on the way out to the Mediterranean. In the modern sense of the word, discipline was exemplified by the Royal Marines alone. I cannot better convey an idea of the old system than by means of an illustration. Supposing that a Marine and a bluejacket had each committed an offence. The Marine was brought up on the quarter-deck before the commander, and the charge was read to him. The commander asked him what he had to say. The prisoner, standing rigidly to attention, embarked upon a long rambling explanation. If his defence were invalid, the commander cut him short, and the sergeant gave his order. “Right turn. Quick march.” The Marine, although continuing to protest, obeyed automatically, and away he went. He continued to talk until he was out of hearing, but he went. Not so the bluejacket. He did not stand to attention, not he. He shifted from one foot to the other, he hitched his breeches, fiddled with his cap, scratched his head.

“Well, sir,” said he , “it was like this here, sir,” … and he began to spin an interminable yarn.  “That’ll do, my man,” quoth the commander. But, not at all. “No, sir, look here, sir, what I wants to say is this” – and so on, until the commander had to order a file of Marines to march him below.

But both Marine and bluejacket had this in common: each would ask the commander to settle the matter rather than let it go before the captain; and the captain, to sentence him rather than hold a court-martial.

The explanation of the difference between the old system of discipline and the new is that in the sailing days it was of the first importance that the seaman should be capable of instant independent action. The soldier’s uniformity and military precision were wholly unsuited to the sailor, who, at any moment, might have to tackle an emergency on his own initiative. If a seaman of the old days noticed anything wrong aloft, up he would run to put it right, without waiting for orders. Life and death often hung upon his promptitude of resource.

In the old days, we would often overhear such a conversation as the following:-

Officer: “Why the blank dash didn’t you blank well do so-and-so when I told you?”

Man: “Why didn’t I? Because if I had I should have been blank well killed and so would you.”

Officer: “Damn you, sir, don’t you answer me! I shall put you in the report”

Man: “Put me in the ruddy report, then.”

And the next day the commander, having heard both sides, would say to the officer,

“Why, the man was quite right” And to the man,”You had no right to argue with the officer. Don’t do it again. Now get away with you to hell.”

And everyone would part the best of friends.

The change came with the improvement and progress in gunnery, which involved, first, the better drilling of the smallarm companies.

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

Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – Manning the Ships

 

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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 seventh 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 – The Marlborough     

HMS Marlborough

Manning the Ships

Ships in those days were manned according to the number of guns they carried. The theory was that if the boats’ crews were absent from the ship, there should always be sufficient men on board to work the sails and the guns. The watch-bills were made out upon this principle, the men being distributed among what were called the “parts of the ship.”

In the case of a newly commissioned ship, the making out of the watch-bills and assigning his place to each man, was the first thing to be done. It was no small task, especially as no printed forms were supplied for the purpose. The watch-bills were ruled and entered by the officers on paper supplied by themselves, and were arranged upon the tradition handed down for centuries. Even the signalmen supplied their own pencils and paper. Each ship made its own arrangement. It was not until [1860] that uniform watch-bills, quarter-bills and station-bills were instituted.

The men were classed in the following categories, each “part of the ship” being divided into port watch and starboard watch.

The Forecastlemen
The Foretopmen
The Maintopmen
The Mizentopmen
The Gunners
The Afterguard
The Royal Marines
The Idlers

The Forecastlemen were most experienced seamen. They wore their caps a little differently from the others. They manned the foreyard, and worked the foresail, staysail, jib, flying jib, jibboom, flying jibboom and lower studdingsails.

The Foretopmen worked the foretopsail, foretopgallant and foreroyal yards, foretopgallantmast, foretopmast and topgallant studding-sails.

The Maintopmen worked the maintopsail, maintopgallant and main-royal yards and maintopgallantmast, maintopmast and topgallant studding-sails.

The Mizentopmen worked the mizentopsail, mizentopgallant and mizen-royal yards, and mizentopgallantmast, mizentopmast and mizencourse (if there was one), also the driver.

The upper-yard men were the smartest in the ship, whose character largely depended upon them.

The Gunners, assisted by the Afterguard, worked the mainsail and mainyard. These were generally old and steady men, who were not very quick aloft. The gunners were also responsible for the care and maintenance of the gun gear, side tackles, train tackles and the ammunition. The senior warrant officer was the gunner.

There were only three warrant officers:- gunner, boatswain and carpenter.

The Royal Marines were divided between fore and aft, working on forecastle and quarterdeck. I remember seeing a detachment of Marines, upon coming aboard, fallen in while the blacksmith, lifting up each man’s foot behind him, wrenched off and dropped into a bucket the metal on the heel of his boot, lest it should mark the deck.

The Afterguard worked on the quarterdeck and helped with the mainyard. They were the less efficient men and were therefore employed under the eye of the commander.

The Idlers were not idlers. They were so called because (theoretically) they had their nights in, although actually they turned out at four o’clock a.m. They were artificers, such as carpenters, caulkers, plumbers, blacksmiths, etc. They worked all day at their several trades until their suppertime. They were nearly all old petty officers, steady and respectable. It was part of their duty to man the pumps every morning for washing decks. I made up my mind that, if ever I was in a position to do so, I would relieve them of an irksome and an inappropriate duty.

In action, the carpenters worked below decks, stopping holes with shot-plugs, while many of the other Idlers worked in the magazines. Among the Idlers was the ship’s musician; unless the ship carried a band; who was a fiddler. He used to play to the men on the forecastle after working hours and when they manned the capstan. Personally I always considered the name of Idlers to be anomalous. They are now called Daymen.

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

Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Marlborough

 

Search the Library for more like this

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 sixth 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 – The Marlborough

The Ship of Happiest Memory

HMS Marlborough 1861ON the 28th of March, [1861], I was appointed naval cadet in the Marlborough. As I climbed up her side by the hand-rungs, while my chest was being hoisted in over all, I perceived two huge men looking down upon me, and I heard one say to the other:-

              “That white-faced little beggar ain’t long for this world, Dick.”

The speaker was John Glanville (called Clamfy Glanville), boatswain’s mate (of whom more anon), and he addressed this lugubrious remark to Dicky Home, the quartermaster, a very fat man. It was a far from encouraging welcome to the sea; but the fact was that I had been ill, and was feeling very cold as I climbed up the side of the ship. At first, I was much disappointed at having been sent to a large ship, for we youngsters had a notion that there were more freedom and independence in a small ship; and besides, I wanted to go to China. But I went to China all in good time.

The Marlborough was the flagship of the Mediterranean station. She was a wooden line of battleship, three-decker, launched in [1835], 4000 tons burthen old measure, 6390 displacement new measure, fitted with single screw horizontal Maudslay engines. The length of her gundeck was 245 feet 6 inches, her extreme beam was 61 feet, her maximum draught was 26 feet Her complement was 950, and she always carried 100 or more supernumeraries. She was pierced for 131 guns and she carried 121 guns. She was one of the first ships to be fitted with wire lower rigging. In the Marlborough the old 24-inch hemp cable was used for laying out anchor at drill. It was the same class of cable as that which was used in Nelson’s time; it was superseded by the chain cable.

The vice-admiral in command of the Mediterranean station was Sir William Fanshawe Martin (called “Fly” Martin); the captain, William H. Stewart; the commander, Thomas Brandreth: three of the finest officers that ever lived. The captain of the Fleet was Rear-Admiral Sydney C. Dacres, C.B. His duties were those of what we should now call a chief of staff. The office was subsequently abolished; and it was always my desire to see it restored.

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

Mungo Park the Explorer – 1804

 

 

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Below is a piece about Mungo Park the Scottish explorer, explorer of the African continent – including Timbuktu.

Excerpt from Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott Volume 1 – 1837 by John Gibson Lockhart

Mungo Park the Explorer – 1804

During this autumn Scott formed the personal acquaintance of Mungo Park, the celebrated victim of African discovery. On his return from his first expedition, Park endeavoured to establish himself as a medical practitioner in the town of Hawick; but the drudgeries of that calling in such a district soon exhausted his ardent temper, and he was now living in seclusion in his native cottage at Fowlsheils on the Yarrow, nearly opposite Newark Castle.

His brother, Archibald Park, a man remarkable for strength both of mind and body, was the sheriffs-officer of that district, and introduced the traveller to his principal. They soon became much attached to each other; and Scott supplied some interesting anecdotes of their brief intercourse, to the late Mr. Wishaw, the editor of Park’s posthumous Journal, with which I shall blend a few minor circumstances which I gathered from him in conversation long afterwards. “On one occasion,” he says, “the traveller communicated to him some very remarkable adventures which had befallen him in Africa, but which he had not recorded in his book.” On Scott’s asking the cause of this silence, Mungo answered, “that in all cases where he had information to communicate, which he thought of importance to the public, he had stated the facts boldly, leaving it to his readers to give such credit to his statements as they might appear justly to deserve; but that he would not shock their faith, or render his travels more marvellous, by introducing circumstances, which, however true, were of little or no moment, as they related solely to his own personal adventures and escapes.” This reply struck Scott as highly characteristic of the man; and though strongly tempted to set down some of these marvels for Mr. Wishaw’s use, he on reflection abstained from doing so, holding it unfair to record what the adventurer had deliberately chosen to suppress in his own narrative.

He confirms the account given by Park’s biographer of his cold and reserved manners to strangers; and, in particular, of his disgust with the indirect questions which curious visitors would often put to him upon the subject of his travels. “This practice,” said Mungo, “exposes me to two risks; either that I may not understand the questions meant to be put, or that my answers to them may be misconstrued;” and he contrasted such conduct with the frankness of Scott’s revered friend, Dr. Adam Ferguson, who, the very first day the traveller dined with him at Hallyards, spread a large map of Africa on the table, and made him trace out his progress thereupon, inch by inch, questioning him minutely as to every step he had taken. “Here, however,” says Scott, “Dr. F. was using a privilege to which he was well entitled by his venerable age and high literary character, but which could not have been exercised with propriety by any common stranger.”

Excerpt from Memoirs of the life of Sir Walter Scott Volume 1 – 1837 by John Gibson Lockhart

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Further Reading and External Links

Mungo Park the Explorer on Wikipedia

Rene Auguste Caillie and Timbuktu – 1828

 

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Excerpt from The Encyclopaedia Britannica

Rene Auguste Caillie and Timbuktu – 1828

CAILLIE (or CAILLE), RENE AUGUSTE (1799-1838), French explorer, was born at Mauze, Poitou, in 1799, the son of a baker. The reading of Robinson Crusoe kindled in him a love of travel and adventure, and at the age of sixteen he made a voyage to Senegal whence he went to Guadeloupe.

Returning to Senegal in 1818 he made a journey to Bondu to carry supplies to a British expedition then in that country. Ill with fever he was obliged to go back to France, but in 1824 was again in Senegal with the fixed idea of penetrating to Timbuktu. He spent eight months with the Brakna “Moors” living north of Senegal river, learning Arabic and being taught, as a convert, the laws and customs of Islam. He laid his project of reaching Timbuktu before the governor of Senegal, but receiving no encouragement went to Sierra Leone where the British authorities made him superintendent of an indigo plantation. Having saved L80 he joined a Mandingo caravan going inland. He was dressed as a Mussulman, and gave out that he was an Arab from Egypt who had been carried off by the French to Senegal and was desirous of regaining his own country. Starting from Kakundi near Boke on the Rio Nunez on 19th of April 1827, he travelled east along the hills of Futa Jallon, passing the head streams of the Senegal and crossing the Upper Niger at Kurussa. Still going east he came to the Kong highlands, where at a place called Time he was detained five months by illness.

Resuming his journey [v.04 p.0949] in January 1828 he went north-east and gained the city of Jenne, whence he continued his journey to Timbuktu by water. After spending a fortnight (20th April-4th May) in Timbuktu he joined a caravan crossing the Sahara to Morocco, reaching Fez on the 12th of August. From Tangier he returned to France. He had been preceded at Timbuktu by a British officer, Major Gordon Laing, but Laing had been murdered (1826) on leaving the city and Caillie was the first to accomplish the journey in safety. He was awarded the prize of L400 offered by the Geographical Society of Paris to the first traveller who should gain exact information of Timbuktu, to be compared with that given by Mungo Park. He also received the order of the Legion of Honour, a pension, and other distinctions, and it was at the public expense that his “Journal d’un voyage a Temboctou et a Jenne dans l’Afrique Centrale“, etc. (edited by E.F. Jomard) was published in three volumes in 1830.

Caillie died at Badere in 1838 of a malady contracted during his African travels. For the greater part of his life he spelt his name Caillie, afterwards omitting the second “i.

See Dr Robert Brown’s “The Story of Africa“, vol. i. chap. xii. (London, 1892); Goepp and Cordier, “Les Grands Hommes de France, voyageurs: Rene Caille” (Paris, 1885); E.F. Jomard, “Notice historique sur la vie et les voyages de R. Caillie” (Paris, 1839). An English version of Caillie’s “Journal” was published in London in 1830 in two volumes under the title of “Travels through Central Africa to Timbuctoo“.

Excerpt from The Encyclopaedia Britannica

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Further Reading and External Links

Rene Caillie on Wikipedia

Timbuktu – Then and Now – BBC Magazine

James ‘Rajah’ Brooke – 1844 – The Batang Lapur

 

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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 – 1844 – The Batang Lapur

James Rajah Brooke

The Batang Lupar for the first twenty miles looks a noble stream. About that distance from the mouth occurs the Linga, the first branch of the river which leads to the Balow villages, inhabited by Dyaks under the influence of Sherif Jaffer the same Dyaks who had joined Keppel’s expedition against the Seribas pirates; they were warlike but not piratical. The next branch on the left bank of the river was the Undup, and then on the right bank the Sakarang, a stream inhabited by a dense population of piratical Dyaks; and about fifteen miles below the mouth of that branch was built the town of Patusin, strongly defended by forts and stockades.

As the arrival of the Dido had been fully expected, the Sarawak preparations for the expedition were well advanced, and in view of Keppel’s triumphs in the previous year, there was no holding back, but all were eager for the fray. Even Pangeran Budrudin was permitted to join the Sarawak contingent something quite new in the annals of the royal family.

On the 5th of August [1844] the expedition started, and on the 6th was well within the river Batang Lupar. By the 8th all was ready for the attack, and on the rising flood tide the steamer and boats were carried up stream at a bewildering pace, and soon found themselves in face of the town and forts of Patusin. The English boats formed up alongside of the steamer, and pulled to the shore under a very hot fire; but nothing could daunt their crews, and they carried the forts by assault, with the loss of only one English sailor killed and a few wounded. Nor were the natives behindhand; they vied with their white comrades, and were soon in full pursuit of the flying enemy.

In the afternoon the force marched to the attack of a neighbouring town where the chief Sherif Sahib had his residence; but there was no resistance, and the place was soon plundered and destroyed by our native allies. Amongst the spoil captured at Patusin were sixty-four brass guns and a smaller number of iron ones; the latter were thrown into the river. Having completely destroyed these Malay pirate settlements, not forgetting that which had been formed by Pangeran Makota, and handed over to the natives those war boats which would be useful to them, while the remainder were hacked to pieces and burnt, the force prepared for an assault on the Sakarang pirates.

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 – 2 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 – 2 Apr 1855

Monday 2 April 1855

The belief that our batteries will open on Wednesday or Thursday next is very general. To those who recollect how often they have been disappointed in similar expectations there are large suspicions respecting any day this week, next week, or next month, being the exact time for commencing operations.

There are now four heavy guns in the face of the Mamelon, opposite the right attack. The French, who have hitherto enjoyed comparative repose, are now very hardly worked. They have three night out of seven in the trenches, and take twenty-four hours at a time, as our men do. In proportion as they are employed our overwork diminishes. We have now three nights out of seven in bed as a fair average. The most harassing part of the duties of the French is marching considerable distances to the trenches. Many of the men come from the rear of Lord Raglan’s quarters to the right attack. Our allies send down very large parties and reserves. Not less than 12,000 or 14,000 men are marched on duty for the right alone every night, and the French mass large bodies of men in rear of all their working and covering parties. We cannot afford to send the full complement of men to our batteries, and the engineers and the officers in command of the trenches have frequent difficulties respecting the disposal of the troops, and complaints and reports are not unfrequent in consequence.

Our approaches almost lead us to the advanced Russian works. On Sunday the English engineers threw up a trench within 550 yards of the Garden Battery. The sentries posted along its front entered into that kind of rough joking with the Russians which is popularly called “chaffing,” and the picquets were not more than sixty yards from each other. Although the Russians had a line of double sentries in front of this work, numbering at least 200 men, they did not attempt to disturb our operations. Their principal efforts for the last two days have been directed to the French works on the right, which they shell incessantly. Our allies do not care to return the fire. They are busied in making their approaches and preparing their batteries. The Russians sometimes use very heavy charges of powder, and propel their shot with extraordinary force. As an instance of this I may mention that the day before yesterday a 68-pound shot from the Redan passed right through the parapet of our battery, where it was from eighteen to twenty feet thick, and struck down, but did not kill, a gunner inside the work. They have some excellent artillerymen, and their practice with different charges of powder is very good; but their shell-firing is indifferent, principally owing to their bad fusees.

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