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CHOLERA AT VARNA-FRATERNITY OF THE TROOPS.
lake's account of the meeting of the cabinet, all its members except a small minority were asleep. At any rate, Lord Raglan regarded the message as little short of an absolute order from the secretary of state, and on that ground would have prepared to obey it.
He replied, indeed, that he intended to attack Sebastopol more in deference to the views of the British government, and to the known acquiescence of the Emperor Napoleon in those views, than to any information in the possession of the naval and military authorities, either as to the extent of the enemy's forces or their state of preparation. "The fact," he said, "must not be concealed, that neither the English nor the French admirals have been able to obtain any intelligence on which they can rely, with respect to the army which the Russians may destine for operations in the field, or to the number of men allotted for the defence of Sebastopol; and Marshal St. Arnaud and myself are equally deficient in information upon these all-important questions, and there would seem to be no chance of our acquiring it." The English commander would not take more than his share of so great a responsibility, and though he determined to proceed at once to move against Sebastopol, he afterwards received precise instructions to take that course.
Hostile preparations had gone almost too far now to be recalled, even if a reaction had set in, but there were no signs of reaction, and only a few people contended that arbitration might still be possible.
"Parliament," says Mr. Kinglake, was sitting, and it might be imagined that there was something to say against the plan for invading a province of Russia at a moment when all the main causes of dispute were vanishing. But parliament had shown that it did not consider, any more than did the country, that 'the main causes of the dispute were vanishing;' while the response awakened by Lord Lyndhurst's words showed conclusively enough how eager it was for the invasion of the Crimea. The destruction of Sebastopol, indeed, was the thought uppermost in men's minds, and between this time and the period when it was known that the
| expedition with that object had been decided upon, the press rang with reproaches on the supineness of the government in not hurling the allied forces at the great naval stronghold of the czar."
To the same end the Times insisted (and it represented the general voice of the country):
"We are now approaching the sixth month of actual hostilities, and as yet not a shot has been fired by the land forces of England. . . . The broad policy of the war consists in striking at the very heart of the Russian power in the East, and that heart is at Sebastopol. . . . To destroy Sebastopol is nothing less than to demolish the entire fabric of Russian ambition in those very regions where it is most dangerous to Europe. This feat, and this only, would have really promoted the solid and durable objects of the war."
But there was another powerful incentive to further action. The troops at Varna were dying of cholera, which was most fatal in the French camp, where it increased with such rapidity that it was said fifteen died out of every twenty-five who were attacked with the pestilence, and fatigue parties were constantly engaged in burying the dead. Varna, with environs lovely to the eye, was just the town which, when crowded with soldiery, was liable to such a fearful mortality. Standing in Bulgaria on the shores of the Black Sea, 160 miles north-west of Constantinople, and containing ordinarily about 14,000 inhabitants, it was about as ill calculated as any other Turkish fortified town to receive a large accession to the number of those who dwelt in its vicinity, or took up quarters in the ill-drained, irregular, and neglected streets. Forty thousand men were encamped around the walls, and those streets were crowded with soldiery in all the disorder of a camp where there is little space to move. The British troops had their camp at Aladyn amidst a beautiful landscape a few miles distant; but there was hearty fellowship between the forces. The English and French soldiers, as well as the officers, were always ready to show that they regarded each other as good comrades, and to prove by deeds of kindness and mutual help that they desired a lasting friendship. They had one common
grievance, which increased after the raising of the siege of Silistria till it almost overcame discipline. Why were they not led against the enemy? The impatience of some of the French regiments, like the Zouaves, those agile soldiers from Africa, who had been used to be foremost in active assaults, was extreme. It may be imagined what were the feelings of the men when the cholera was so thinning their ranks that they began to ask themselves how many of the army would be left to meet the foe when it pleased their governments and their generals to take them into action. The French hospital at Varna soon became incapable of receiving the number of sick, and the sufferers had to be treated in field hospitals. A dark cloud of gloom and depression fell upon the men. The change from their former gaiety and light-heartedness made the effects of the calamity more conspicuous than it was in the British camp. The English troops suffered less at first; but the malady increased, and fifteen to sixteen deaths a day were the hospital returns. Aladyn, where the camp had been pitched, was known (to the inhabitants) as a hotbed of malaria, and Devus, the neighbouring beautiful valley, where a number of the tents had been placed, had long been named by the Turks "the Valley of Death." This title had been too sadly justified before our decimated troops were removed and spread over a larger space in a wider encampment. The vicinity of the late encampment became a cemetery, so numerous were the graves; and the men who recovered, like those 600 of the 3000 guards, the flower of the army, who took two days to march ten miles into Varna, though they had their packs carried for them, moved about like sickly shadows of their former selves. It may easily be imagined how the ordinary men suffered; and the mortality and sickness was increased by the strange reckless excess which has so often followed the first terror of pestilence. Discipline was necessarily less strict, and many of the men, French and English, often clubbed together to procure extras, consisting too frequently of coarse and unwholesome stimulants, or of improper articles of food. The epidemic reached the fleet, and so increased
that the English and French ships in Baltchik Bay and the harbour of Varna stood out to sea. As is frequently the case fire followed plague, and Varna was threatened with destruction by the lighting of a spirit-shop near the French commissariat stores. For ten hours the sailors were using every effort to avert the progress of the flames which ran from street to street, and were not extinguished till a fourth part of the town and a very large quantity of military rations and stores were consumed. Had the fire not been suppressed the whole place might have been burned, and the armies left to famine. The catastrophe was attributed to the Greeks, one of whom was seen to set light to the spirits with a torch as they flowed into the streets. He was cut down, and six or seven of his countrymen were bayoneted by the French soldiers.
Not only the men but many officers were suffering from the effects of cholera or dysentery. Marshal St. Arnaud was himself among the number, and his condition was serious. But the order to leave Varna and embark for the Crimea was heard with delight by the soldiers. Their comrades had been falling around them attacked by a foe against whom they seemed to be powerless. Now orders came to move forward to assault a tangible enemy. They had not all been inactive. Lord Cardigan with the light cavalry had been sent to ascertain the position of the Russian army; but though he had explored the country as far as Trajan's Wall on the border of the Dorbrudscha, he had only learned that the siege of Silistria was raised and the Russian army in retreat towards Bessarabia. Sir George Brown, General Canrobert, and several French and English officers had been on board the Fury to explore the Crimean coast and search for a proper landing-place for the army near Sebastopol; but they were discovered and fired upon from the ramparts. Then Marshal St. Arnaud sent a division under Canrobert for another expedition to the Dorbrudscha, expecting that they would meet with a Russian force; but nothing came of it except a slight cavalry skirmish and an alarming number of deaths by cholera, which the troops took with them on their march, and
BATTLE OF THE ALMA.
turn the enemy's left flank. The Agamemnon took up a position at the mouth of the Alma, and General Bosquet's men with a contingent of Turks descended from the heights of Bouljavak, followed and supported further inland by the divisions of Prince Napoleon and Generals Canrobert and Forey.
of which seven thousand of them perished. | along the sea-shore, force the heights, and No large force of the Russians was encountered, and it was afterwards known that the Emperor of the French was exceedingly displeased at so fruitless an expedition having been undertaken. The voyage to the Crimea could not and need not be any longer delayed. On the 7th of September the allied forces, consisting of 24,000 English, 22,000 French, and 8000 Turks, sailed from Varna, and on the evening of the 14th were landed at the "Old Fort," some distance from the town of Eupatoria. It was a tremendous movement, in which 600 vessels were employed, protected by a fleet carrying 3000 cannon. Some blunders and a good deal of confusion would have been excusable, and there were more than could well be excused; but once landed, the troops recovered their spirits, military discipline and efficiency were restored, and the two armies were ready to act in concert. No enemy opposed them. The town of Eupatoria, formidable as it appeared from the sea, surrendered at the first summons. It would appear from the fact of the armies being suffered to land, and then meeting with no resistance, that the czar and his generals thought they could keep them in the Crimea like rats in a trap, and so allow them to come on, only to annihilate them as they approached. A Russian officer and four mounted Cossacks were seen, the officer taking notes of the debarkation of the troops; but the reconnoitering steamvessels reported that the Russian army was encamped on the heights to the south of the river Alma. Thither the two armies commenced their march on the 19th of September, 1854. During the night bivouac the allied commanders arranged the plan of the engagement. On the morning of the 20th a thick mist obscured the heights and nothing could be seen. It was thought that the Russians had retired; but a breeze stirred, the haze lifted like a curtain, and there were the Muscovite troops with formidable batteries and strong natural ramparts of rock and ravine. The allied inshore squadron of vessels, headed by the Agamemnon, were to keep close to the coast and cover an advance and attack by Bosquet's division, which was to advance
General Bosquet's division crossed the river near the mouth about 11:30, the Turkish battalion passing at the same time close to the bar and within musket-range of the beach. This movement was unopposed. With inconceivable rapidity the Zouaves swarmed up the cliff, and it was not till they formed on the height and deployed from behind a mound there that the Russian batteries opened upon them. Waiting the development of the French attack, Lord Raglan caused our infantry for a time to lie down and remain quite passive; but, wearying of this inactivity and anticipating a little in a military point of view the crisis of action, he gave orders for our whole line to advance. "Up rose those serried masses," wrote the Times' correspondent, "and, passing through a fearful shower of round caseshot and shell, they dashed into the Alma and floundered through the waters, which were literally torn into foam by the deadly hail. At the other side of the river were a number of vineyards occupied by Russian riflemen. Three of the staff were here shot down; but, led by Lord Raglan in person, they advanced, cheering on the men. And now came the turning-point of the battle, in which Lord Raglan, by his sagacity and military skill, probably secured the victory at a smaller sacrifice than would have been otherwise the case. He dashed over the bridge followed by his staff. Then commenced one of the most bloody and determined struggles in the annals of war. The 2d division, led by Sir De Lacy Evans, in the most dashing manner crossed the stream on the right. The 7th Fusiliers, led by Colonel Yea, were swept down by fifties. The 55th, 30th, and 95th, led by Brigadier Pennefather (who was in the thickest of the fight cheering on his men), again and again were checked, indeed, but never drew back in their onward progress, which was marked by
a fierce roll of Minié musketry; and Brigadier Adams, with the 41st, 47th, and 49th, bravely charged up the hill and aided them in the battle. Sir George Brown, conspicuous on a gray horse, rode in front of his light division, urging them with voice and gesture. The 7th, diminished by one half, fell back to reform their columns lost for the time; the 23d, with eight officers dead and four wounded, were still rushing to the front, aided by the 15th, 33d, 77th, and 88th. Down went Sir George in a cloud of dust in front of the battery. He was soon up, and shouted, '23d, I'm all right,' be sure I'll remember this day,' and led them on again; but in the shock produced by the fall of their chief the gallant regiment suffered terribly while paralysed for the moment. Meantime the guards on the right of the light division and the brigade of the Highlanders were storming the heights on the left. Their line was almost as regular as though they were in Hyde Park. Suddenly a tornado of round and grape rushed through from the terrible battery, and a roar of musketry from behind it thinned their front ranks by dozens. It was evident that our troops were just able to contend with the Russians, favoured as they were by a great position. At this very time an immense mass of Russian infantry were seen moving down towards the battery. They halted. It was the crisis of the day. Sharp, angular, and solid, they looked as if they were cut out of the solid rock. It was beyond all doubt that if our infantry, harassed and thinned as they were, got into the battery, they would have to encounter a formidable fire, which they were but ill calculated to bear. Lord Raglan saw the difficulties of the situation. He asked if it would be possible to get a couple of guns to bear on these masses. The reply was 'Yes;' and an artillery officer brought up two guns to fire on the Russian squares. The first shot missed, but the next, and the next, and the next cut through the ranks so cleanly, and so keenly, that a clear lane could be seen for a moment through the square. After a few rounds the columns of the square became broken, waved to and fro, broke, and fled over the brow of the hill, leaving behind them six or seven distinct lines
of dead lying as close as possible to each other, marking the passage of the fatal messengers. This act relieved our infantry of a great incubus, and they continued their magnificent and fearful progress. The Duke of Cambridge encouraged his men by voice and example, and proved himself worthy of his proud command, and of the royal race from whence he comes. 'Highlanders,' said Sir Colin Campbell, ere they came to the charge, I am going to ask a favour of you; it is, that you will act so as to justify me in asking permission of the queen for you to wear a bonnet! Don't pull a trigger till you're within a yard of the Russians!' They charged, and well they obeyed their chieftain's wish. Sir Colin had his horse shot under him; but he was up immediately and at the head of his men, shouting, 'We'll hae nane but Highland bonnets here!' but the guards passed on abreast, and claimed with the 33d the honour of capturing a cannon. They had stormed the right of the battery ere the Highlanders had got into the left, and it is said the Scots Fusilier Guards were the first to enter. The 2d and light division crowned the heights. The French turned the guns on the hill against the flying masses, which the cavalry in vain tried to cover. A few faint struggles from the scattered infantry, a few rounds of cannon and musketry, and the enemy fled to the southeast, leaving three generals, 700 prisoners, and 4000 killed and wounded behind them."
The allied loss was 619 killed and 2860 wounded. The Russian loss was reported to be about 8000. Soon after the commencement of the engagement it was evident that the battle would be decided by the energy and courage of our men rather than by any remarkable strategy on the part of the commanders, and this was the case throughout the Crimean campaign. It was fighting against a foe whose forces and dispositions were unknown, and of which little intelligence could be obtained. The chief orders that could be given were: "There is the enemy," or "There is the position"-"go and beat him," or "go and take it.” The officers were unable to do more than to give initial directions to lead and encourage, and to share the dangers and privations