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DESTRUCTION OF KERTCH AND RUSSIAN DEPOTS.
the wings of the angel of death could almost be heard, and throughout England many houses were in mourning; but the dead were buried out there in the dreary cemetery at Scutari or on the wind-swept plain of Balaklava; the maimed and the wounded could still make some warlike show when they hobbled or crept to parade that they might receive the medal for valour from the royal hand. It was on the 18th of May that this ceremony took place. A great dais was erected in the centre of the parade between the Horse Guards and St. James's Park, and the public offices by which it is surrounded were fitted up with galleries for spectators. The recipients of the honours were drawn up in the rear of the foot-guards who kept the ground. An immense assemblage had gathered to witness the presentation. Soon after ten o'clock the queen and the prince took their places on the dais. After a march past the line formed three sides of a square facing the dais. Each officer and man of the Crimean invalids had a card on which had been inscribed his name and rank, in what manner he had been wounded, and in which battles he had fought. As each approached he handed the card to an officer, who read it to the queen, and her majesty then with tenderness and sympathy presented to him his appropriate medal, which she had received from Lord Panmure. It was her majesty's own suggestion that these medals should be given by her own hands, for she desired to manifest her personal interest in the brave fellows, to whom she had sent messages of regard while they were in the Crimea. It was a grand, a touching, and yet to the thoughtful mind a saddening spectacle. The queen afterwards wrote to the King of the Belgians, "Ernest will have told you what a beautiful and touching sight and ceremony (the first of the kind ever witnessed in England) the distribution of the medals was. From the highest prince of the blood to the lowest private, all received the same distinction for the bravest conduct in the severest actions, and the rough hand of the brave and honest private soldier came for the first time in contact with that of their sovereign and their queen. Noble fellows! I own I feel as
if they were my own children; my heart beats for them as for my nearest and dearest! They were so touched, so pleased-many, I hear, cried; and they won't hear of giving up their medals to have their names engraved upon them, for fear they should not receive the identical one put into their hands by me! Several came by in a sadly mutilated state. None created more interest or is more gallant than young Sir Thomas Troubridge, who had at Inkerman one leg and the foot of the other carried away by a round shot, and continued commanding his battery till the battle was over, refusing to be carried away, only desiring his shattered limbs to be raised in order to prevent too great a hæmorrhage! He was dragged by in a Bath-chair, and when I gave him his medal I told him I should make him one of my aides-de-camp for his very gallant conduct; to which he replied, 'I am amply repaid for everything.' One must revere and love such soldiers as these."
Operations in the Crimea were not only pushed forward, but preparations were made for attacking the foe in another quarter than at Sebastopol by means of an expedition for destroying the depot from which stores were supplied to the besieged fortress. It was believed that a large portion of these supplies were derived by a circuitous route from Kertch, and it was determined to organize a force which should be conveyed to that place, and the straits of Yenikale, which lead into the Sea of Azoff. An expedition of the same kind had been previously organized, but had been recalled in consequence of a telegram from the Emperor of the French; but now (on the 21st of May) it again sailed with a large body of troops, English, French, and Turkish, under the direction of Sir George Brown. On disembarking at Kertch it was found that the Russians had retreated, having first blown up all their works along the coast, spiked all their guns, and, before evacuating Kertch, destroyed immense stores of provisions. Advancing into the Sea of Azoff with his squadron of steamers on the 25th of May, Captain Lyons (son of Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, a young officer who afterwards died of wounds received at a later period of the war)
found that four Russian war-steamers, which had escaped from Kertch, had been run ashore and burned to the water's edge at Berdiansk. Here many vessels and extensive corn stores were taken and destroyed. At Genitchi four days later the expedition also burned many corn stores and vessels laden with corn, and these injuries were inflicted without loss of life and with scarcely a casualty.
The stores destroyed at Kertch and in the Sea of Azoff were alone computed to be equal to the rations of 100,000 men for four months, and it was now apparent that the available forces of the Russians were by no means so numerous as had been represented, otherwise they would never have allowed so formidable a blow to be struck without some show of resistance. This conclusion was confirmed by an intercepted letter from Prince Gortschakoff, from which it appeared that General Wrangel, who commanded the troops in the peninsula of Yenikale, and had repeatedly asked for reinforcements in anticipation of an attack by the allied forces, had been told in reply that none could be sent. It was viewed by the English troops as a good omen that the successful descent upon Kertch was made on the queen's birthday, the 24th of May. It had, indeed, struck the enemy in his weakest point -his supplies of food and the means of transport-and the results were not long in making themselves felt.
A success of equal or more than equal importance before Sebastopol made the taking of Kertch still more significant. We have seen that Canrobert, who had hesitated to take the Mamelon, had resigned the command to Pelissier, and petitioned to be made a general of division. He was, however, placed in command of the first corps of the army. Pelissier soon set to work in his usual persistent manner, and at the same time reinforcements began to arrive, which brought the French force up to 120,000, and the English to its former number of 30,000, while the Sardinian contingent of 15,000 and the Turkish contingent made a total of above 200,000 effective men, an army, as it was believed, amply sufficient to carry on the siege and protect the men in the trenches. Now that the transport of rein
forcements and supplies was provided for the allied troops, and the Russians in Sebastopol had increasing difficulties in conveying their stores for long distances by land carriage and marching their men over great tracts of country, it was felt that the contest, however prolonged, would end in our favour. But it was necessary to take prompt and active measures, and on the 9th of June the French and English artillery commenced a tremendous bombardment of the town, to which the Russians replied with scarcely less vigour. Our cannonade, however, was intended to cover a simultaneous attack against the three important defences of the Russians, the Sapone or White Redoubts, the Mamelon, and the Quarries which lay between the British position and the Redan. The assaults on the two former were made by the French, that on the latter by the British, while the Turks were left to defend the positions from which the allied forces had withdrawn. The three points of attack were separated from each other by two ravines, which served as shelters for the British and French reserves. The Quarries, the assault against which had been assigned to our men, had been converted by the Russians into rifle-pits, and formed a kind of outwork to the Redan, so that it was necessary to capture them before that fort could be attacked. On our troops arriving there they found that the Quarries were undefended, and therefore immediately took possession of them, and converted them into a sheltered position from which to carry on the attack on the fortress. About a thousand of our troops were able to hold them against the repeated efforts of five thousand of the enemy to retake them, for the parapets were reversed, and the fire from our batteries so kept the Russians in check that some of our officers actually made their way into the Redan itself, and afterwards declared that had the English general known of its condition and given the order, it might easily have been taken, and the siege would have been considerably shortened. General Bosquet commanded the French attack on the Mamelon, and it was taken in brilliant fashion by the Zouaves, who clambered up the hill like cats, and carried battery after battery at the
DEATH OF LORD RAGLAN.
point of the bayonet in a succession of fierce | unfortunately its success greatly depended and impetuous assaults which carried them
at last into the redoubt. So successful were they, that they forgot discipline, and in disobedience to the orders they had received, rushed precipitately towards the Malakoff battery in a wild courageous effort to carry that also, but they were met with a tornado of artillery which compelled them to pause and then to retreat. It was a critical moment. The Russian reserves bore down upon them, driving them back in confusion (but fighting still), and retook the Mamelon, but only to be swept out of it again by the French reserves of General Brunet, who in their turn came on with an irresistible rush, and soon were masters of the position, which a large body of engineers rapidly converted into a fortress of attack against the place of which it had been one of the most formidable defences. Thus the allies won, at great cost of life, a position which might have been occupied without resistance at an earlier date. The Sapone or White Works were taken with equal élan and daring, but the cost of that day's work altogether to the allies was 5000 men killed and wounded.
The French Palace of Industry was opened in Paris on the 17th of May. We have already noted the return visit of the queen and the prince consort to the emperor and empress in the following August. In his address on the inauguration of the Exhibition the emperor said, “In inviting all nations hither, it has been my desire to open a temple of concord." On the same day the attack on the Russian fortresses before Sebastopol was renewed by another tremendous bombardment. The English had advanced their "zigzags" from the Quarries considerably beyond the Redan, of which they were now to attempt to take possession. French holding the Mamelon and the White Forts were to endeavour to seize the Malakhoff, and as this was the more important, it was agreed that the advance of the English troops in the Redan should be regulated by the progress made by their allies in their assault on the Malakhoff. The plan which was subsequently adopted may have been good, but
upon the prompt response to a given signal. The Russians fought bravely and offered a stubborn resistance, which it would have required the united effort of the French troops to overcome. Through an unfortunate mistake that effort was divided. The firing of a rocket was to be the signal for a simultaneous attack of the two French divisions. General Meyran mistook an exploding shell for the rocket, and gave the word for his division to advance before that of General Brunet was ready. The consequence was, that the tremendous fire of the Malakhoff and all its subsidiary batteries was concentrated on his division, which, after the fall of the general himself, was thrown into confusion and retreated; so that when the signal rocket was really fired, General Brunet, who was to have advanced against another side of the Malakhoff at the same moment that General Meyran made his attack, found his division exposed as the other had been to the whole fire of the Russian batteries, and was also obliged to retire. The consequence of these failures extended to the British operations,. and though Major-general Eyre, leading his men gallantly onward, actually forced his way into a large suburb of the town and for seventeen hours held the position he had gained, till he was obliged to withdraw his troops for want of a reinforcement which never came,the repulse was complete, and the Russians made the most of their triumph. This serious, though only temporary check, added to the physical weakness and the great mental anxiety which he had endured, probably hastened the fatal effects of the sickness from which Lord Raglan had for so long been suffering. He had borne much blame, had gone out to besiege Sebastopol in a manner which he had not personally accepted as wise or advisable, and he must have felt that he was unable to cope with the difficulties by which he was at first surrounded, while he was unsupported by practical administrative ability at home. On the 8th of June, ten days after the unsuccessful attack on the Malakhoff and the Redan, he died. His death was attributed to cholera, but the disease had doubtless been aggravated
by overwork and anxiety. General Simpson, a man who was also broken in health, succeeded him by right of seniority, and he was confirmed in the command by the appointment of the government, but only subsequently to make way for Sir William Codrington.
This then was the position of the army in the Crimea, and at home the government was already beginning to feel some embarrassment because of the increasing number of its previous supporters as well as of its opponents, who were now desirous of continuing negotiations, on the basis of the proposed four points, for the purpose of obtaining peace. The failure of the conference at Vienna had caused a great deal of excitement in the country, and, as we have seen, the ministry was sharply attacked in both houses. Earl Grey had proposed that an humble address be presented to her majesty "to thank her for having ordered the protocols of the recent negotiations at Vienna to be laid before us; to inform her majesty that this house deeply deplores the failure of the attempt to put an end by these negotiations to the calamities of the war in which the country is now engaged; and to express an opinion that the proposals of Russia were such as to afford a fair prospect of concluding a peace by which all the original objects of the war might have been gained, and by which her majesty and her allies might have obtained all the advantages which can reasonably be demanded of Russia." The debate which followed ended in negativing the motion without a division. But the opposition from another point of view was equally vigorous. While, on one side, there were expressions of a decided hope that the negotiations, which Lord Palmerston had declared had not been absolutely closed, would be continued and conducted to such an issue as to obtain peace; on the other, severe strictures were passed on the government for not having more effectually prosecuted the war. On the 24th of May, just before the Whitsuntide recess, Mr. Disraeli brought forward a resolution as follows:"That this house cannot adjourn for the recess without expressing its dissatisfaction with the ambiguous language and uncertain conduct of her majesty's government in refer
ence to the great question of peace or war, and that under these circumstances the house feels it a duty to declare that it will continue to give every support to her majesty in the prosecution of the war until her majesty shall, in conjunction with her allies, obtain for the country a safe and honourable peace."
Besides this motion there was one by Mr. Milner Gibson for an address to the crown, expressing regret that the opportunity offered by the Vienna conferences for bringing the negotiations to a pacific issue had not been improved, and asserting that the interpretation of the third point conceded by Russia furnished the elements for renewed conferences and a good basis for a just and satisfactory peace. It was understood that this motion was to be supported by Mr. Gladstone, Sir James Graham, and Mr. Sidney Herbert; but on being assured by Lord Palmerston, in answer to a question from Mr. Sidney Herbert, that the conferences were not yet closed, and that Austria was still charged with propositions for peace, these gentlemen brought their influence to bear on Mr. Milner Gibson, who consented to postpone his motion until after the Whitsuntide recess.
On the reassembling of parliament, Mr. Disraeli, in a speech of three hours' duration, vigorously attacked the government in introducing the motion of which he had given notice, but his sarcasms were chiefly levelled against Lord John Russell, who had, he said, first as foreign minister and again as plenipotentiary, compromised the interests of the nation. Nor were the government less to blame. They had been weak and vacillating in their action, appealing to Austria as a mediator, and vainly expecting her to be an ally. It was time to end these "morbid negotiations" for peace, which only inspired distrust in our allies, our generals, our officers, our aristocracy, and to close the conferences. "I am against this principle of 'leaving the door open," said Mr. Disraeli; "shut the door, and let those who want to come in knock at the door, and then we shall secure a safe and honourable peace."
A member for a great city, he continued, one of her majesty's privy council, placed on
MR. GLADSTONE ADVOCATES NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE.
the paper a notice of an address to the queen. He hoped that if the first minister had been enabled to screw up his courage to present an address to his royal mistress, it would have been of a different character from that proposed by the right honourable gentleman the member for Manchester-that it would have contained declarations of an entirely different character; and one of his objects was to extract from the government an intimation to that effect. He had no idea that the discussion on that motion would be abandoned. The country, and indeed all Europe, were, by a wellkept secret, baulked of a discussion in a matter of the most momentous importance since the peace of 1815. In reference to the conduct of her majesty's government as to the question of peace and war, he maintained that their language was ambiguous and their conduct uncertain; and he should call upon the house to arrest a course of policy which must, in its results, prove most disastrous to the country. Lord John Russell, he said, had been distinguished for his inflammatory denunciations of Russia, and was incompetent to negotiate a peace. Before he went to make peace he had signalized himself by tripping up the prime minister because he was not earnest enough in prosecuting the war.
Those portions of the speech which referred to the prosecution of the war were warmly cheered, and the debate seemed likely to be a long one, for there were two amendments. The first was by Mr. Lowe:-That this house having seen with regret that, owing to the refusal of Russia to restrict the strength of her navy in the Black Sea, the conferences of Vienna have not led to the cessation of hostilities, feels it to be its duty to declare that, by that refusal the means of coming to an arrangement on the third basis of negotiation having been exhausted, this house will give its best exertions to carry out the successful prosecution of the war.
the war, until her majesty shall, in conjunction with her allies, obtain for this country a safe and honourable peace.
In the evening debate it became evident that Mr. Gladstone was one of the strongest advocates for endeavouring to make such negotiations as should put an end to the war. For some time it had been well known that he was less inclined to support a policy which would make the prosecution of hostilities a measure of popularity, and Mr. Bright had already noted that he was averse to prolonging the bloodshed and cruelty with which all war is associated, and the horrible carnage for which this conflict had been distinguished. Mr. Gladstone was opposed both to the resolution and Sir F. Baring's amendment. He defended the expedition to the Crimea, and denied that it had been entirely unsuccessful, for while, in August, 1854, Russia refused to accept the four points, in the month of December following the emperor accepted those very propositions as a basis of negotiations which he had so strenuously refused before. Looking at the question at issue as one only of terms, how did it stand? Russia had agreed to the first and second points and part of the third poiut. The fourth would be agreed to at any time. The only matter to be settled now, was as to the limitation of the power of Russia in the Black Sea. He was of opinion that the Russian proposal to give to Turkey the power of opening and shutting the straits was one calculated to bring about a settlement. As regarded the position of Russia now, he challenged any person to show him a case in the whole history of the world, in which the political objects of war had been more completely gained, without the prostration of the adverse party. He felt that he would be incurring a fearful responsibility if he did not raise his voice to beseech the house to pause before they persevered in a war so bloody and so decimating, while there was a chance of returning to the condition of a happy and an honourable peace. If we now fought merely for military success, let the house look to this sentiment with the eye of reason, and it would appear immoral, inhuman, and unchristian. If the war