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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE,
THE WAR IN THE CRIMEA. The district of the Crimea which has been lately the scene of so many glorious combats—the theatre of feats of arms and exploits of gallantry so honourable to all concerned—comprises essentially the country of the Goths and that of the Greeks, renowned in olden times as the Heracleontic Chersonesus, often we observe confounded in the papers with the Tauric Chersonesus.
The first containing within its somewhat limited confines the valleys of Baljanak, the Alma, the Katcha, the Balbek, the Salghir, and the Tchernaya, or Black River, comprises land as fertile as it is beautiful. across these valleys that Justinian I. built walls and fortresses which proved of great service to the Goths in a defensive point of view.
The second is a peninsula within a peninsula, and was once divided from the rest of the Crimea by a wall which stretched from Balaklavathe Portus Symbolorum and Genoese Cimbalo-to Sebastopol, ancient Ctenus, the remains of which still exist, and whose boundaries have been the scene of many a sanguinary conflict. Here arose that colony of the Greeks of Heraclea, which gave her name not only to the Heracleontic Chersonesus, but by extension to the Tauric Chersonesus, or the whole of that larger peninsula now called the Crimea. Here also stood the temple of the Tauric Diana, at which all intruders were sacrificed; and above ancient Ctenus and Inkerman—the caverned city of the Tauro-Scythes—was the Pontic Eupatorion and the Theodori of the Low Empire.
The movements of the allies, as well as the combats they have been engaged in in these classic and picturesque lands, have been replete with striking incidents. The fleet attending upon the progress of troops, every man of whom could be almost counted by the enemy, must have presented an unus
usually imposing array of force. The deer-like activity of the French Chasseurs and of the Zouaves in ascending the heights on the extreme left of the enemy was witnessed with feelings of admiration from every ship in Kalamita Bay. The difficulties and obstructions of every kind and description encompassed by the light division of the British army-trenches, heights, and redoubts centred around the strongest position of the Russians-assailed by the same division, and finally carried by the overwhelming weight of the Guards and Highlanders, the latter mistaken by the Muscovites for cavalry, and received in squares—the welltimed fire of the couple of guns so gallantly conveyed to the heights by Captain Turner, spreading consternation in the hostile ranks, and the batteries of the French sweeping them down on their left flank in their hasty retreat-ladies invited to see a review, hurried away by their Aying
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countrymen to the signal discomfiture of their apparel-presented altogether a scene of bustle, struggle, fire, noise, and slaughter well calculated to leave a lasting impression on all who witnessed it. Then, again, in the after scene, amid the groans and shrieks of the wounded and the dying-men regaining their positions through avenues of dead-the
and their aids on their boundless errand of succour —and the dying barbarians striking the hand held out to relieve their torments—there were also strange things enacted. There were jolly tars, who had danced with glee on landing at the victory won by their gallant countrymen, now busy measuring their capacious feet against the leather soles of the slain, there were men collecting breastplates, helmets, arms, and accoutrements which were as yet new to them
trophies of the battle they had been engaged in there were others busy in more abject, yet excusable riffing; while the few men, still held in hand, were hurrying the dead of all nations into that deep trench which had so obstructed their onward progress; and over that fearful array of bodies they now heaped the raised earthworks above.
Scarcely recovered from their toil and excitement, there was a long march, past the Katcha, to the beautiful and fertile valley of the Balbek, where the fruit and vegetables of luxuriant gardens and orchards, the contents of the poultry-yard, the dairy, and the kitchen, and in many instances the resources of the parlour and the cellar, were alike quickly made to contribute to the comforts of the wearied and the exhausted soldiery. That night many a fortunate fellow in advance of his comrades slept on a mattress or a sofa, and quaffed his fill of Crimean winethe worst in the world.
Then there was a still longer and more difficult march through dense woods and scrub, out of which—as if they had been laying in wait for them—those first in advance came upon a Russian convoy, which fled almost at the very sound of the British guns, and before the swords of the Scots Greys—unsheathed for the first time in Russian land—could be well brought to bear upon them. The whole affair was more like an event skilfully arranged on the boards of the Hippodrome than reality ; miles of plunder strewed in every direction, and still remaining there when the French came up at night, attested, however, to the actuality of the thing.
Then there was the night bivouac in the deep glen of the Black River, not very far from Inkerman—that strange city of caves, which opens upon the Bay of Sebastopol. From hence Lieutenant-now happily Commander–Maxse made his lonely and adventurous night journey back to the fleet.
One more short march-their thirst slaked in the dark waters of the Tchernaya—and the staff turning a corner, were saluted by a shell from the old Genoese fort of Balaklava—the beautiful port; another minute and all the heights were commanded by the victorious soldiery of Albion, and at that very moment, by another strange coup de théâtre-one which must have struck awe into the small garrison, as well as into the pirate Greeks, dwellers in the town below—the great man-of-war of ancient Greece, represented in the nineteenth century by a British manof-war--the Agamemnon-swept round the “sacred promontory," as if still in search of his daughter Iphigenia, now represented by the “Virgin's Rock.”
But we must fain leave the picturesque part of the campaign to take up the pen of the equable historian. The whole of the allies moved forward from their encampment on the shores of Kalamita Bay on the 19th of September, and after a wearisome march under a burning sun, and suffering much from want of water, they reached the insignificant but welcome stream of the Baljanak, some five or six miles from the Alma, upon whose banks, and more especially upon the heights above, the Russians had taken up their position, commanding the advance of the allies by redoubts and formidable batteries, which were so placed as to sweep the principal fords of the river and the ascent of the hills, thus rendered doubly difficult of access.
Lord Raglan describes the position taken up by the Russians in the most graphic language :
The bold and almost precipitous range of heights -of from 350 to 400 feet --that from the sea closely border the left bank of the river, here ceases, and formed their left, and, turning thence round a great amphitheatre or wide valley, terminates at a salient pinnacle, where their right rested, and whence the descent to the plain was more gradual. The front was about two miles in extent.
Across the month of this great opening is a lower ridge at different heights, varying from 60 to 150 feet, parallel to the river, and at distances from it of from 600 to 800 yards.
The river itself is generally fordable for troops, but its banks are extremely rugged, and in most parts steep ; the willows along it bad been cut down, in order to prevent them from affording cover to the attacking party, and in fact everything had been done to deprive an assailant of any species of shelter.
In front of the position on the right bank, at about 200 yards from the Alma, is the village of Bouliouk, and near it a timber bridge, which had been partly destroyed by the enemy.
The high pinnacle and ridge before alluded to were the key of the position, and, consequently, there the greatest preparations had been made for defence.
Half-way down the height and across its front was a trench of the extent of some hundred yards, to afford cover against an advance up the even steep slope of the hill. On the right, and a little retired, was a powerful covered battery, armed with heavy guns, which flanked the whole of the right of the position.
Artillery, at the same time, was posted at the points that best commanded the passage of the river and its approaches generally.
On the slopes of these hills (forming a sort of table-land) were placed dense masses of the enemy's infantry, wbile on the heights above was his great reserve, the whole amounting, it is supposed, to between 45,000 and 50,000 men.
A casual correspondent to the Times, understood to be Mr. Layard, who witnessed the battle from the maintop of the Agamemnon, also describes the Russian position as “ enormously strong.' writes our active compatriot, “a gradually sloping country, without a single object to protect advancing troops, ending in a river sweeping round high cliffs of earth, in the centre of which, about three miles from the sea, was an amphitheatre of hills ; this amphitheatre commanded the principal fords over the river and the open country beyond ; it was strengthened by an earthwork with ten or twelve guns, and a permanent battery of twelve more."
The same day a part of Lord Cardigan's brigade of light cavalry, consisting of about 500 men, of the 8th Hussars, the 11th Hussars, and
13th Light Dragoons, pushed on in front, after the passage of the Baljanak, and threw out skirmishers in line. The Cossacks advanced to meet them in like order, the steel of their long lances glittering in the
As the British advanced, dark columns of cavalry came into view in the recesses of the hills, and the skirmishers were ordered to halt, seeing which the Cossacks opened fire, while the main body slowly descended the slope in three solid squares. As our men were retiring, slowly answering at the same time the fire of the videttes, one of the Russian cavalry squares opened, a spirt of white smoke rose out of the gap, and a round shot, followed by another and another, came tearing through the ranks of the cavalry, who had four men severely wounded and six horses killed. Captain Maude's battery coming up to the support of the cavalry, the enemy was obliged to retire before its well-directed fire, and a French battery came up in time to complete their discomfiture.
The demonstration of the Russians on the right of the line of the allies near Zambruk was still more formidable. A strong column of cavalry, supported by a brigade of infantry, marched down to the plain. The cavalry deployed, skirmishing began, several volleys of artillery were exchanged, and the Russian infantry formed in squares. The same evening General Canrobert's division was also very hotly attacked. The Russian squadrons deployed on the right, and forming a great circle, charged directly down upon the French. The latter halted, formed three squares, and flanked by their artillery awaited the attack. A body of some 3000 dragoons were received with a terrible fire of cannon and musketry, and the whole mass was driven back in the utmost disorder to re-form behind the infantry. The Russian dragoons advanced, however, again to the charge, and once more were they ignobly driven back; and the second time, it is said that the general who commanded the infantry was so enraged at seeing the fine cavalry of the Guard disbanding themselves in so disgraceful a fashion under the eyes of both armies, that he received them with a general discharge, which, says an eye-witness among the allies, “surprised us much, and I own made us laugh heartily.” But evening overtook the two armies now face to face and foot to foot, and both withdrew to their own encampments to await the eventful morrow.
The next morning, the 20th, the allies moved towards the Alma, from which they were only some five or six miles distant. General Bosquet was despatched at the head of a division of French troops, reinforced by eight Turkish battalions under Sulaiman Pasha, as early as six in the morning, to assail the enemy's left, by crossing the river at its junction with the sea and immediately above it. The remainder of the French divisions were to move up the heights in the front, while the English army had to attack the right and centre of the enemy's position. In doing this, the second division, under Sir De Lacy Evans, formed the right, and touched the left of the French army under Prince Napoleon ; while the light division, under Sir George Brown, formed the left. The second division and the light division were supported—the first by the third division under Sir R. England ; the second by the first division of Guards and Highlanders, under the Duke of Cambridge. The fourth division, under Sir George Cathcart, and the cavalry, under Majorgeneral the Earl of Lucan, were held in reserve to protect the left flank
and rear against large bodies of the enemy's cavalry, which hovered like a cloud over the advancing troops from that direction.
General Bosquet mancuvred with as much intelligence as bravery. Marshal St. Arnaud attributes, indeed, to this first movement the success of the day. At half-past twelve the line of the allied army, occupying an extent of more than a league, arrived on the Alma, and was received by a terrible fire from the Russian Tirailleurs,
At this very moment the head of the column of General Bosquet appeared on the heights to the extreme left, and Marshal St. Arnaud gave the signal for a general attack in support of that movement. Prince Napoleon, at the head of his division, took possession of the large village of Alma, under the fire of the Russian batteries. The whole line advanced at the same time to the foot of the heights, under the fire of the Russian batteries. Then commenced, in the words of the lamented French marshal, who survived his victory so brief a time, “a real battle along all the line-a battle with its episodes of brilliant feats of valour.”
The English were not so fortunate in their advance upon Burliuk as the French had been upon Alma. Before they could reach the village, it was fired by the enemy at all points, creating a continuous blaze for 300 yards, obscuring their position, and rendering a passage through it impracticable.
Two regiments of Brigadier-general Adams's brigade, part of Sir De Lacy Evans's division, had, in consequence, to pass the river at a deep and difficult ford to the right, under a sharp fire, whilst his first brigade, under Major-general Pennefather, and the remaining regiment of Brigadier-general Adams, crossed to the left of the conflagration, opposed by the enemy's artillery from the heights above, and pressed on towards the left of their position with the utmost gallantry and steadiness.
In the mean while, the light division, under Sir George Brown, had effected the passage of the Alma in its immediate front. The banks of the river itself presented, from their rugged and broken nature, most serious obstacles, and the vineyards through which the troops had to pass, and the trees which the enemy had felled, created additional impediments ; add to which, their progress thus impeded had to be effected under a galling fire from the enemy: “ Lieutenant-general Sir George Brown,” Lord Raglan writes, emphatically, “advanced against the enemy under great disadvantages.”
The gallant light division and its zealous commander nevertheless persevered, and the first brigade, under Major-general Codrington, succeeded in carrying the redoubt, or formidable intrenched battery on the heights, and in this operation he was materially aided by the judicious and steady manner in which Brigadier-general Buller moved on the left flank, and by the advance of four companies of the Rifle Brigade, under Major Norcott. The heavy fire of grape and musketry, however, to which the troops were exposed, and the losses sustained by the 7th, 23rd, and 33rd Regiments, obliged this brigade “partially to relinquish its hold.”
At this critical moment the first division, which, under the Duke of Cambridge, had succeeded in crossing the river in support of the light division, came up, and a brilliant advance of the brigade of Foot Guards, under Major-general Bentinck, drove the enemy back and secured the