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.
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.
Further Reading and External Links
Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War
William Howard Russell on BikWil