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It may be doubted whether if such formal | should then have depots of four companies in
England for recruiting and instruction; depots at Malta as a reserve to the army in the field, and for further training; and battalions of eight companies in the field, always kept complete, while the invalids might join the reserves, and a great deal of shipping would thus be saved. Without reserves for the army, between it and the home depots it could not be carried on. Lord Raglan could have his reserves within command, and the knowledge of what he had, and what he had to expect, would be his safest guide in regulating his operations.
reports had come at the earlier date of the occupation of the Crimea, the organization here would have been capable of responding to it in any proportion to the representations which they contained. However, it was clearly the duty of the commander-in-chief to send explicit information, and now that it was furnished, it was fortunate that the authorities here had so far reformed their ways as to be able more promptly and efficiently to respond to it. This was one of the important improvements which did much to relieve the troops now pursuing the siege with more vigour; but it had been preceded by two others of immediate and practical advantage. The first of them had also been pointed out by the prince consort, who had written in his diary on the 26th of November (1854), the words, "The army must be increased," and two days afterwards wrote to Mr. Sidney Herbert, saying that the step which had previously been taken of bringing each regiment up to twelve companies, though the right one, had failed in supplying with sufficient quickness the tremendous expenditure of men in the Crimea, and particularly in supplying the army of Lord Raglan on account of the distance of 3000 miles between the basis and the field of battle. A mere reference home in writing and its answer required six weeks, and the time for providing troops increased it to two months under the most favourable circumstances, during which the whole state of things might be altered. What was imperatively demanded was an intermediate depot upon which Lord Raglan would draw at pleasure, and which would be kept supplied from home. The prince contended that for every four companies in depot at home there should be an equal depot established at Malta-these depots to be united in provisional battalions like the provisional battalions at home. They would form at the same time the whole garrison, and would require all the accommodation at that place, setting free all the regiments now there. If Malta would not hold sufficient depots the system might be further extended to Gibraltar. Our present depots might go out at once, and fresh ones be formed at home. We
This appeared to be sound enough, and probably had occurred to others, when it was found that, instead of being taken by a coup de main, Sebastopol would have to be invested, and that the fortifications and earthworks by which the Russian military engineer, General Todleben, had protected it, would be a hard nut to crack. The subject was at all events discussed on the very next day; the plan was submitted to the cabinet with the approval of Lord Hardinge and Mr. Sidney Herbert, and on the 1st of December Lord Aberdeen informed the queen that it had been adopted. An army of reserve amounting to 16,000 men was to be formed at Malta, and one half of this force, it was hoped, would soon be completed. But the same letter also mentioned another, or rather two other practical and really intelligent advances that were now made towards successfully remedying the errors which had caused such irretrievable loss. It announced that a contract had been sanctioned for a railroad from Balaklava to the camp before Sebastopol, "principally in order to spare the incredible labour necessary to drag the artillery from the coast, which had hitherto been performed by the seamen of the fleet," and that a contract was also entered into for laying a telegraphic cable at the joint expense of France and England between Cape Kalerga, near Varna, and the monastery of St. George between Balaklava and Kamiesch Bay.
The prospect of these two undertakings may have helped to raise the spirits of the men, who with invincible courage prepared
THE NAVVIES IN THE CRIMEA.
to spend an English Christmas in the trenches and the camp. Some stores, and even a few seasonable luxuries, reached them in time to give them a reminder that in the general celebration of the national holiday, they had an abiding-place in the hearts of men and women who would willingly have shared with them their own good cheer. The queen and the royal household had held them constantly in remembrance, and the anxiety of her majesty, and her earnest desire to relieve their distress, had been conveyed to them by many gracious and affectionate messages, and by not a few gifts which bore tribute to the loyalty and courage of the recipients.
Preparations were made for employing a staff of navvies who had been organized under the direction of Sir Morton Peto, the well-known contractor, and in January, 1855, they were equipped and sent out to construct a railroad from Balaklava to the trenches before the heights round Sebastopol. One of the firm of Sir Morton Peto had already arranged with Sir de Lacy Evans the plan of operations. Every navvy, besides his pay and rations, was provided with complete suits of clothing, adapted to the variation of the weather and the work on which he was to be employed, and capable of resisting the cold and wet to which he would certainly be exposed. Before the end of the following month there were nearly 900 men employed on the work, including some who had been sent from Constantinople. The whole distance over which they had to construct the line was nearly seven miles, and a mile and a half had been completed by the 16th of February, the first four miles being the most important. There were of course a number of horses employed, and these had to be sent from England as well as the fodder for their consumption; but the promptitude and completeness of the preparations and the manner in which they were carried out by the practical staff of the "navvy commission" offered a marked contrast to the bungling of the government officials. The comfort of the men was also well cared for; they had proper huts, good rations, and were superintended by their own foremen and officers, while a chaplain and a surgeon were
also engaged for the navvy corps, which on the whole behaved admirably and accomplished its work in a very praiseworthy manner. was no light labour that these sturdy fellows had to perform, and before they had been on the ground many weeks, such were the vicissitudes of the climate that they were obliged to discard much of their winter clothing and resort to the change of costume which had been provided for them. Balaklava and its surrounding approaches were in a frightful condition. The roads were mere quagmires, the men often working up to their middles in mud, while dead horses strewed the ground in every direction. This was all the more dangerous because of the change of weather, which before the end of February had become comparatively sultry, the temperature having reached 58 degrees, though a few days previously the thermometer had registered 16 degrees below freezing-point. It may easily be understood what invaluable service was rendered by the "excavators," who, acting as scavengers, cleared the place, and afterwards under direction of their officers took measures for improving its sanitary condition. For some time the "navvy" and the "naval" brigades, the jovial handy sailors of our fleet, who had their own camp with its tents before Sebastopol, were among the most popular of the forces in the Crimea; the Zouaves and the men of the French navy being also held in great estimation.
Before long there was an extraordinary representation of various nationalities before the walls of the beleaguered fortress. In June (1855) a company of Spanish muleteers, with their animals, arrived from Vigo in one of the Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamships (the Iberia) at Gibraltar, whence they were taken to the Crimea in the ordinary transport vessels. There were thus inside and outside the city Russians, Finns, Cossacks, and people of the various nations of the Black and White Seas, and the Caspian, and perhaps as far as the borders of China itself; while outside were French, English, Turks, Africans, Egyptians, Tunisians, Arabs, Tartars, and various examples of the Moslem races, a Sardinian contingent, sundry Teutonic addi
tions to the army, Swiss officers of the AngloFrench legion, Corsicans, Maltese, and Ionians, and beside these a few were hourly expected from Roumelia and Anatolia.
In addition to the railway there was, as we have mentioned, the new electric telegraph. The cable, 400 miles in length, was connected with a telegraph from Varna to Rustchuk, from which place a complete system of communication with England already existed. In this way direct and secret communication was established between the offices of the war department in England and Paris and the headquarters of the English and French commanders-in-chief. The first telegram transmitted was on the 4th of May, 1855. Hitherto the first news of what was passing in the Crimea had reached us through St. Petersburg. From this time St. Petersburg got its earliest news through London and Paris.
With these vigorous measures for prosecuting the war, and the advent of warm weather, the condition of the camp soon began to improve, and while the operations of the allies settled down into a regular and completely ordered siege the soldiers were able to enjoy greater comfort than can usually be secured during a campaign. Indeed life at the camp, apart from the losses sustained from the fire of the enemy, was far from intolerable. This, however, was not until the late spring of the year. An eye-witness who visited Balaklava at the beginning of February wrote:
"The morning was bitterly cold; wind and snow, and twelve degrees of frost. The sight that met our eyes when we went on deck in the morning was really quite sickening. The stern of our vessel was about twenty yards from the shore, and there we saw scores of miserable, half-clothed, half-starved objects shivering on the wharfs, or trying in vain to keep their blood in circulation by shambling up and down; no workhouse could have shown a more abject set of paupers than did Balaklava that morning. Good heavens! was one's first thought, can these miserable objects, with scanty ragged coats, clothes in tatters, and boots in holes, or with none at all, be British soldiers, whom the country is informed by their rulers are at this moment actually
borne down with warm clothing, and furnished with every luxury that the mind of the soldier can conceive? How fearfully have the government been deceived, or how cruelly have they deceived the people of England?
"The warm clothing was just now, on the 3d of February, being served out, slowly enough, heaven knows! and boots were being issued at the rate of six and seven pairs to each regiment. The distribution of warm clothing was not completed before the middle of February, and many officers' servants and bâtmen had not even received them by the 20th of the month!
"Miserable as the men were when I arrived, I was assured that their condition had wonderfully improved during the last three weeks. If that was true, in what a pitiable case must they have been during January!
"About nine or ten o'clock fatigue parties began to drop in from the front; gaunt, haggard, bearded men, with a reckless, desperate look that was indescribable. Many of these had sheep-skin coats; some of the artillery and cavalry good long blue great-coats, and even long boots; but the majority of the men, especially those of the line, were clothed in every imaginable patched-up, worn-out garment it is possible to conceive; there was not an atom of uniform visible amongst the lot of them."
In the trenches the condition of the poor fellows was still worse, but no one who visited them found them either cowed with their reverses or wishing for anything more earnestly than to have an opportunity for another decisive contest with the enemy.
As to the town of Balaklava itself there was nothing to be done but to destroy, and in a sense to rebuild it. Colonel Harding, who was sent out early in February, found the place hopelessly swamped with mud, impregnated with filth, and the very stones of the houses containing the germs of disease. He therefore determined to pull down one house after another, and to erect wooden houses in their places. The cellars were cleaned out, and the filth and rubbish brought to the light of day, heaped up in the open places, and burned, the evil-smelling smoke
IMPROVEMENTS IN THE BRITISH CAMP.
hanging in a cloud over the town. The stones
of the ruined houses were carried away, broken up, and used for the improvement of the roads. The places where the houses stood were levelled and large quantities of quicklime strewed over them. It was a curious and interesting sight to watch the fatigue parties of soldiers, in their uncouth and motley winter dresses, invading a doomed house. In they marched, with axes and picks, and in a few minutes out came from the windows and by the doors, abominations, old and new, foul straw, broken bottles, soiled rags, bits of biscuit, bones with the blackened and shrivelled flesh still sticking to them, mouldy cheese, piles of broken furniture covered with vermin, and whole heaps of unalloyed, indescribable,unmentionable dirt-were thrown up into a funeral pile-a matchbox was produced and a wisp of straw, the pile was properly lighted, and a dense cloud of smoke rising up proclaimed that another act of purification had commenced. Next came the work of the axe and the pick. Part of the fatigue party outside separated the wood from the rubbish and stones, and others at once carted away the stones and levelled the place. Where the morning sun shone on a house, there the evening sun shone on a smooth level place, whitened over with lime and prepared for house-building, in the sense of the camp. Holes were dug, posts fixed, the place was crowded and busy all day, and in the evening there stood a large wooden hut. Such huts sprang up between sunrise and sunset; and sheds, too, for stabling horses, as if by enchantment.
At last there seemed to be some prospect of real improvement, though the stores came slowly for some time afterwards and provisions were exorbitantly dear. Speculators made a great harvest. One of them bought a cargo of poultry at Sinope and Samsoun, the geese costing him sixpence and the turkeys a shilling a piece; and for these he charged at the camp, turkeys 15s. and geese 58., and the prices afterwards rose to 22s. for a goose, and for a skinny fowl 58.; other articles of consumption being equally unattainable except at real famine prices. These were the reports that came to England in private
letters, and while the army had lain inactive a considerable number of officers had returned to England on "urgent private affairs." Now there were great preparations for the siege; the Russians were accumulating enormous supplies of stores and ammunition at Sebastopol for a spring campaign, but soon there came news that the stronghold itself was being severely damaged by the tremendous fire which was launched upon it by the allies. Intelligence from Berlin announced that the south side side of the town had suffered very considerably; a number of houses were piles of ruins, of others only the external walls were distinguishable; the | theatre had ceased to exist. The northern portion of the town had not suffered so much, but yet there was hardly a house there the walls or roof of which had not been perforated by grenade, shell, ball, or rocket, or the window-panes and frames of which had not been destroyed by fragments of exploding shells. The inhabitants of Sebastopol had, however, by no means deserted the town; with few exceptions they continued to occupy their houses, even though battered. In the shops and warehouses traffic was said to be kept up with but little diminution; even the hotels were not shut. The only promenade left to the fashionable world in those parts was a new Boulevard, from which there was a fine view-on the one side the surrounding mountains, with the allied camp, its trenches, and its fortifications; on the other side the sea, with the allied fleets keeping ward and watch over the Crimea. On the northern side steamers and boats were seen all day and all night plying to and from the Catherine harbour, laden with gabions, fascines, balls, shells, powder, and matériel de guerre of all sorts; while on the landingplaces stores of cannon and carriages, mortars, beams, and other artillery materials were piled up.
Perhaps not much dependence could be placed on these reports at the time, but the news from the camp itself was more cheering, and before the end of March the aspect of the allied position was materially changed. A correspondent describing the camp, said:
"What a sad noisy place it is-such bargaining, quarrelling, I should fancy quite equal to the original Donnybrook. The French soldiers were all busy, some making roads, others carrying fascines, &c., and I was much struck with their cleanly appearance. I passed several 'vivandières,' looking really smart and pretty-a very small glass of good brandy they gave for 6d. I got early to 's tent, and was at once warmly received; would not hear of my going back till the following day; lunched and set out for a stroll, and to get a good view of Sebastopol, which I was surprised to see so very little damaged. It looked very pretty and very quiet; boats were plying in the harbour, and ladies walking about; it looked like anything but what I expected a besieged town would appear. We saw our besieging batteries and took a long turn through the various camps of several divisions. Met many I knew, and was surprised at the very healthy though rough appearance of them all; and they all seemed satisfied and happy. Hospitality is certainly one of the most distinguishing features of camp life: every one offered a welcome, and all had a something in the eating and drinking way to offer. We got back by five or half-past; had a wash in some freezing water; pulled off my boots, which were knee-deep in mud, put on another borrowed pair, and a dry, warm, coat, and at six dined. There were eight of us in all. We had mutton broth and sheep's head, salmon and lobster from preserved tins, roast mutton, fowls, ham, capital bread, cheese, loads of sauces, sherry, port, and porter; and all of us in capital spirits. The stove was troublesome; having no funnel, it was kept outside till the smoke was gone, and with the smoke went most of the heat in the men's tents; close to us we heard all sorts of jovial singing old familiar songs; and no set of men could to all appearance have been happier than those besieging Sebastopol, though it was blowing hard and snowing, and any moment their songs might have been stopped by war in its stern reality. We heard constant firing of heavy guns and musketry, which my companions. seemed insensible to the noise of. By ten p.m. the singing and fiddling among the men ceased,
but we sat chatting and talking till twelve. I had a tent to myself to sleep in, a camp bed, and plenty of warm clothing, and a very good fire. The tent pole was hung round with hams. It blew very hard, and the tent shook, so that I expected it would blow down; however, I suffered no misfortune beyond a few hams tumbling on me. Turned out and had
| a cold wash. Breakfasted at eight-coffee, mutton chops, fried potatoes. A Frenchman brought from the French camp some excellent bread, but dear-2s. for a small loaf. At nine I mounted and rode to headquarters. Near Lord Raglan's little bit of road; loads of carriages, carts, and all sorts of things piled up; plenty of turkeys and poultry strutting about -in fact his quarters have a good deal the appearance of a Dutch farmyard."
The famous M. Soyer, then chef de cuisine of the Reform Club, appeared on the scene in the Crimea at about this time. He had, it will be remembered, taken part in the relief of distress in Ireland by making a professional tour to give lessons in the preparation of cheap and nourishing food, and though some people were inclined to ridicule his pretensions it could scarcely be denied that he did some service in calling attention to the proper use of common food-materials and the best methods of converting them into palatable dishes. At all events, when he proposed to go out to Scutari and organize the hospital culinary service there, his offer was not refused, and he himself has left a more or less amusing account of the expedition. It is sufficient here to say that he effected some very useful reforms in the barrack hospital kitchen, that the rations for the sick were greatly improved under his regulations, and that he showed the staff, which he organized, how to utilize much good soup, which it had been the custom to throw away as mere "pot liquor." Considerable interest was manifested in his plans, and his success was rewarded with the recognition not only of the officers but of the medical staff, and the nurses, who acknowledged the value
1 Soyer's Culinary Campaign: being Historical Reminiscences of the Late War, with the Plain Art of Cookery for Military and Civil Institutions, the Army, Navy, Public, &c. &c. 1857.