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.

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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.


Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil