- "Three hosts combine to offer sacrifice, -
Three tongues prefer strange orisons on high, -
Three gaudy standards flout the pale blue sky."
TUESDAY, March, 20th. - Left the "Star of the South," and once more resumed our life in camp. A gleaming day, with lovely lights and shadows. Thanks to the kindness of Captain Buckley, of the Scots' Fusileer Guards, and Colonel Somerset, who lent us means of conveyance for our "impedimenta," I was able to move up in one day. Major Peel and Captain Cook, of the 11th Hussars, saved us from starving by most hospitably inviting us to dine. The dinner was enlivened by a perfect storm of musketry, which made us fancy something unusual was going on in front; but perhaps my being unaccustomed to be disturbed by musketry at night makes me fancy it worse than it is. I am writing at one o'clock, and am, oh, so tired!
Wednesday, March 21st. - In our saddles by half-past ten, riding towards Kamiesh. We were to have been joined by Colonel Somerset, who kindly undertook to be our guide; but by some fatality we missed him, and reached Kamiesh at last by a very circuitous route. Here we made purchases of chickens, carrots, petits pois verts, and various other necessaries of life; all of which we packed upon our saddles, and then cantered home. Henry decorated the pommel of his saddle with six fowls, slung three on each side, and "Bob," who had never been turned into a market-horse before, was alike frightened at their screams, and disgusted at the way they scratched him with their claws; so he wisely took the shortest and quickest way home, hardly breaking from his hand gallop the whole way. Poor chickens!
Thursday, 22nd. - The chickens are all walking about as if nothing had happened, except that one or two go a little stiff.
Colonel Shewell, Lord Killeen, Colonel Doherty, Major Peel, and Captain Cook called on me to-day. The French took, and held, four rifle-pits last night, which accounts for the tremendous firing that shook the hut. We hear that the loss was very great: they report here, 300 French, and eight English officers, names at present unknown.
Friday, March 23rd. - Our 93rd battery firing this morning, we ran to see what was the cause. A shell burst just at the foot of Canrobert's Hill; and with our glasses we saw two deserters running in, while three or four of our men went to meet them. Lord George Paget and Colonel Douglas called on us today. The former has promised to give me a little smooth terrier. The establishment only wants a dog to be complete; and I, who have never before been without a dog, look forward with great pleasure to having this little terrier to make a pet of.
Saturday, 24th. - Can this be a journal of a campaign? I think I must change its name to a new edition of the "Racing Calendar."
The French races to-day were very amusing. The course was crowded, the sun shone, and French officers were riding at full gallop everywhere, and making their horses go through all the tricks of the manège. The "steeple-chase" course, "avec huit obstacles," delightful: the hurdles were not sufficiently high to puzzle an intelligent and active poodle; the ditches were like the trenches in a celery bed; and the wall about two feet and a-half high.
But it was a very merry meeting. We rode up with Captain Lushington, Colonel Douglas, Colonel Somerset, Mr. Vansittart, and Major Peel, and afterwards lunched with le Comte Bertrand, on game pie and champagne.
Sunday, 25th. - A day reminding one of the great heats in Bulgaria. The men fell out in all directions from church parade. Late in the afternoon Henry and I rode up to hear the band of the 27ième de la ligne.
Monday, 26th. - Races at the Fourth Division; chiefly remarkable for the difference between the Englishman's and Frenchman's idea of a fence. To-day we had a formidable wall of four foot, built as firmly as possible, while the ground on either side was hard enough to make it anything but a tempting jump.
Wednesday, March 28th. - More races.
Count Bertrand, Mr. Foster, Captain Lushington, Colonel Somerset, and Mr. Vansittart came to luncheon, and we rode afterwards to the course. "Goodboy," ridden by Captain Thomas, came in an easy winner. The day was most lovely, but too hot for enjoyment. We fancied that summer was come, and that we had done with the cold weather.
Saturday, 31st. - Winter has returned. The very hills are blue with cold. A hard, frozen-looking haze covers the landscape, whilst a cruel north-east wind searches one throughout, filling the bones with rheumatism, and the lungs with cold. I did not move from my stove till evening, when we were engaged to dine with Major Peel. We did not return until rather late, which was fortunate, as, hearing groans coming from the stable as we passed, Henry went to see what was the matter, and found that my chestnut horse had had a kicking fit on him, and had kicked away at the principal post till he brought the whole roof, rafters and all, down about his ears. The weight fell on all the horses' backs, but chiefly on the poor pony, "Whisker," who was supporting all the heaviest rafters, and groaning with disgust Luckily, none of the horses were hurt.
Tuesday, April 3rd. - Went over with a large party to Kamiesh. We hear it is the general opinion that the fire on Sebastopol will recommence in a few days. The number of guns that it is supposed will be at work on that day, English, French, and Russian, are computed at between 1600 and 1700. Meanwhile our hut is shaken every night by the explosions of the heavy guns, and we ourselves are roused by the incessant rain of musketry. Some few are sanguine as to the result of this bombardment. I heard one person assert that in his opinion the place could not stand twenty-four hours against such a fire. The ships are to make a demonstration, as though they were going to attack the forts on the North side, but it is doubtful whether they will attack. War, horrid war! Why can we not ride in peace over this lovely country, abounding in flowers and coloured with tints, which, by their freshness and beauty, remind me perpetually of Copley Fielding's pictures. It is strange that, to express my admiration for nature, I am obliged to compare it with art; but I never saw elsewhere scenery so clear, so wondrously coloured, looking so warm, yet actually so cold. It impresses me as a picture would. I admire it, but it does not affect me. Perhaps the absence of trees takes away from the " home " feeling; and, by making the landscape appear like a picture, fails to excite any sympathetic feelings of admiration. The scenery and I may get on better when these cruel cold winds have passed, and the glorious sun throws some of his magnificent heat into it.
Saturday, 7th. - Light Division races. The day was perfect; the races well attended; and, had it not been for an accident, the sight of which seemed to stun me, and stop every pulse in my body, we should have had an enjoyable day. In the steeple-chase course they had built a wall, over four foot, and as firm as it could be built, turfed over at the top, and as solid as an alderman's wit. Captain Thomas, R.H.A., and Captain Shiffner, two of our best riders, were in the race. The crowd collected round the wall to see the jump, and I shoved my horse in as close as I could. After a moment's suspense, they are off - three noble horses, all well ridden. Mr. Wilkins's horse takes the wall easily, and rushes on; Captain Shiffner's horse strikes it with his chest, and, after one effort, rolls over headlong, falling on his rider; Captain Thomas's horse clears the wall, but lands on the man and horse already down.
At first, neither was supposed to have survived; but at last Captain Thomas moved, and presently they found that poor Captain Shiffner was not dead; but the doctors pronounced him so much injured internally as to leave no hope of his surviving the night. They were both carried from the ground. About an hour after we rode to inquire for Captain Thomas, who was lying in a hut close by, and found that he was conscious. His first words were, "Who won the race?" Of poor Captain Shiffner we hear there is no hope. I think this has rather made me lose my liking for steeple-chasing.
Sunday, 8th. - I heard this morning that poor Captain Shiffner died during the night. What little comfort for the mourners at home to reflect that his life was lost in such a way! - with neither glory nor honour to assuage the bitterness of death. Such an accident, coming in the midst of strong excitement, seems to make a pause, a stillness, in one's own life. I am so shocked, so nervous by what I have seen, that I am fit for nothing; and yet, if he had been shot in the trenches, he would have had, most probably, no other requiem than, "Poor Shiffner was killed last night." "Dear me! was he? Poor fellow!" instead of forming the subject for thought and conversation to all.
Six o'clock. - Colonel Somerset has just called, and tells me the report of Shiffner's death is false; that he lives, and they have hopes of him.
Monday, 9th. - Torrents of rain; incessant, soaking, unrelenting rain, in the midst of which the roar of the sullen guns came down to us with a sort of muffled sound; and no wonder, coming through so dense and sodden an atmosphere. Of course, everybody who was not absolutely on duty in the trenches staid at home, except, I believe, one or two soldiers, too red hot to be affected by the rain. We hear that our opening fire took the Russians so much by surprise, that each of our guns fired seven rounds before they returned a single shot.
The report is (as usual) that our fire is doing great damage to the enemy's works; but we hear that always, as a matter of course.
Tuesday, 10th. - Rode up ourselves to the front to watch the firing. We saw it to great advantage (it being a very clear day) from a point opposite to Sir Richard England's division. I have not been to the front for some time; not, at least, far enough to observe the works before the town; they therefore strike me as being about twice as extended as when I saw them last, in, I think, December. The Mamelon and Malakoff batteries, both new, have opened a most formidable fire; while the Redan appears, to my eyes, much better furnished with guns in and about it than before. We did not remain long in the Quarry, but went to the Mortar Battery, on our right, to watch the practice of the Sea-service mortars. Somehow I never felt less interested in any transaction of the war. I cannot believe that this bombardment will be productive of the slightest effect on a position which we have allowed to become so strong.
When Sir Richard England asked me, whilst we were watching from the Quarries, whether I was interested, I gave him two answers, equally truthful - "Yes," and "No." If we could see any point on which to build a hope - any gun dismounted - any embrasure knocked in, we could find something upon which to fasten and feed an interest; but it seems to me very like a bombardment in a picture - blue sky overhead, a town, and innumerable puffs of smoke all round it.
Wednesday, 11th. - Rode up again, but this time to the French left attack, and took up our position near the Maison d'Eau. I was much pleased by obtaining a better view of the town than I had hitherto been able to discover. We were almost over the harbour. We saw steamers and little boats pulling between the forts. We saw people moving in the town. The sea and the sky, all God's part of the picture, looked so blue and calm; while all man's part of the picture was noise, smoke, and confusion. I could not but reflect, though perhaps such thoughts are inappropriate here, upon the vastness of that Rest, which enwraps, as with an infinite mantle, all the fretfulness and vain effort of this world; and I must confess, that instead of attending to the statistics of my companions, I lost myself in a wondrous reverie, inspired by the contrast of the scene before me, on that most blessed of all theories - "There remaineth, therefore, a rest."
Sunday, 15th. - Captain Lushington called, and seemed in despair.
It appears that his battery* had knocked a breach in some particular spot at which they had been hammering with that wonderful energy and inconceivably careless courage which has characterised them so especially throughout the war, and had made an opening sufficiently wide for troops to storm, but "the French were not ready." Captain Lushington's brigade has suffered severely during this last bombardment, both in guns and men; above a hundred of the latter are killed and wounded.
We endeavoured to "administer to the mind diseased" a little of the tonic wherewith we have often refreshed ourselves during the last twelvemonth, and which we have found most serviceable. It is composed chiefly of one ingredient - namely, the contents of an old proverb:- " Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they will not be disappointed." Leaving Captain Lushington to try the efficacy of my cure, Henry and I rode up to the French band playing on the hill.
Tuesday, 17th. - Put up a large Turkish tent outside the hut, to serve as a drawing-room, and later as a dining-room; for we find it inconvenient to have only a room of twelve foot square in which to eat, sleep, and receive company.
This tent, large, hexagonal, double lined with dark blue, and open at both ends, is a great addition to one's comfort. We have it matted, carpetted, and furnished with a table and an armchair - luxuries which were to us, when in Bulgaria, but a dream of our youth. There is a great stir in Balaklava, owing to the arrival and disembarkation of the 10th Hussars, who have come from India, and are reported to be 680 strong, and mounted on the finest Arabs in the world (at least, so says Colonel Parlby, who commands them). Every one is anxious to see this new regiment; and it is most amusing to hear the various speculations regarding these same horses - some declaring that there is nothing like an Arab horse; he is up to any weight, can endure any fatigue, live without food, and never sleeps: whereas others remember the mud of last winter, and how the vast thews and sinews of the most powerful English horses were only strong enough to pull them into it - and then leave them there to die.
Wednesday, 18th. - We rode up - Henry, Colonel Somerset, Mr. Calvert, and I - to look at such of these "wondrous winged steeds with manes of gold" as had landed. We found them perfect in shape, so purely bred that each horse might have been a crowned king; clothed in coats of sheeny satin, that seemed defiant even of the rays of the blessed sun himself when he looked at them; their small heads never resting, and their eyes like outlets for the burning fire within. But I will write down my first impression, and then see if time proves it correct. These horses are not in one respect suited for their work here, and they will fail at the commencement of winter - too small, too light, too excitable. This is merely what strikes me, and I merely write it as a speculation, knowing of this country what I do.
Thursday, April 19th. - A strong reconnaissance went out this morning, commanded by Omar Pasha, to Kamara, to inspect the Russian force, and with the intention of ultimately pushing forward, and allowing the Turks to occupy their old position in the plain from which they ran with such a cheerful alacrity at "Balaklava." Omar Pasha is very anxious to impress us favourably with the Turkish force that he has brought with him from Eupatoria, and which is composed of the same men who fought so well at Silistria. We hear, also, that the soldiers themselves are most anxious to give proof of their courage and steadiness under fire. They assert that the Turks who formed part of our force in the winter were only militia, and not regular troops; and I should fancy that by this time all those poor creatures had died of the plague.
I had arranged to accompany the reconnaissance, but Henry was unfortunately so far from well as to be unable to go, and of course I remained also.
I seldom like writing from report; and as I was not present, am unwilling to say anything about this reconnaissance, save that the Russian force appears to be by no means numerous.
Saturday, April 21st. - Rode with Henry and Colonel Poulett Somerset to the headquarters of the Turkish force, as Omar Pasha had done us the honour to ask us to luncheon. We found him sitting in a small but very light and convenient tent, which opened towards Sebastopol; and being on high ground, we had a very good bird's-eye view of the position of the English and French armies. The band, a remarkably good one, was soon after sent for, and played for some time with a great deal of precision. They played, amongst other morceaux, "Il Rigoletto," and some marches composed by Madame, the wife of Omar Pasha, for His Highness's band.
Madame is, I believe, either German or Wallachian, and evidently possesses a know" ledge both of the science and esprit de la musique. The pieces played by the band, and written by her, evinced both taste and power.
Luncheon, consisting of champagne and sweetmeats, was going on at the same time as the music; and when both were finished, His Highness ordered his horse, and we accompanied him to General Bosquet's, and afterwards to the brow of a hill opposite the Russian camp, where one of the mountain guns used in the Turkish army was placed and fired, to show General Bosquet its enormous range.
These guns are small - made precisely like the barrel of a Minié rifle, about five feet in length, and firing a conical leaden ball of four and a half pounds' weight. It is mounted on a very small carriage, and drawn by a single mule. Omar Pasha said it would carry 4000 yards. This fact, however, I am unable to vouch for from personal observation, as I never saw the ball after it was put in at the muzzle of the gun - I mean to say, my eyes were too much unaccustomed to follow the shot, nor did we see it strike. But, like true believers, we admitted that it struck wherever we were told it had done so; and, as far as I was concerned, I was quite satisfied. We then re-mounted, and returned to General Bosquet's tent. Our order of march was somewhat as follows: -
Omar Pasha, on a chestnut Arab, which he made go through every evolution that a horse's brain was capable of remembering, or his legs of executing; a group of attendant pashas and effendis, amongst whom we were mixed up; Lieutenant-Colonel Simmonds, English engineer, attached to the Turkish staff; General Bosquet, and one or two French officers belonging to his staff; and an escort of Turkish lancers on small horses, very dirty, very slovenly, and diffusing a fragrance of onions which made one's eyes fill with tears.
We took leave of our host at General Bosquet's camp, and rode slowly home in the dusk.
Omar Pasha impressed me as being shrewd, decided, energetic, as well as an amusing companion, and a man capable of appreciating more of the refinements of life than I should have thought he would have found amongst the Turks; though he tells me he hopes, after the war is over, to be made Minister of War at Constantinople, and, - very probably, be bowstrung!
May 1st. - Captain Christie died this day at Kamiesh, where he was awaiting a court-martial, to consider his conduct with reference to the ships left outside Balaklava Harbour on the 14th November. The decision of trying him by court martial, the worry and grief consequent upon so cruel an interpretation having been put upon the conduct of a man distinguished for gentleness, kindly feeling; and a desire to act rightly towards all parties, doubtless caused his illness and his death.
Captain Christie was beloved and regretted by all over whom he had control. The masters of transports, I think eighty-three in number, had subscribed for the purpose of presenting him with a testimonial of their affectionate esteem. I hear many of them have determined on going over to Kamiesh, to show a last mark of their respect for him by attending his funeral.
May 3rd. - Expedition started to Kertch - 7,000 French, and about 2,600 English, with a few Cavalry; the object being to take and destroy Kertch, and to intercept the conveyance of provisions and stores into Sebastopol. We had ridden over to Kamiesh in the morning, and when we returned, we saw from over the hills the ships silently stretching out from Kamiesh and Kasatch to sea. We all hope much from this expedition.
May 6th. - The expedition to Kertch is returned, and, at the moment that I write, it is off Balaklava harbour. It was recalled by an express messenger. I suppose we shall hear about this to-morrow, - at present, the simple fact is as much as we can digest.
The sun is come to visit us once more in all his magnificence; and we should be able to give ourselves up to perfect enjoyment of the, to me, delicious warmth, were it not for the violent gusts of wind, which deprive us of all comfort and all satisfaction in our otherwise delightful Turkish tent, which is always, except when the wind blows hard, a charming place of refuge from the sun.
Yesterday, Henry and I rode into the plain as far as the Woronzow Road, - the extreme limit that prudence would allow. We let our horses graze for an hour on the thick, rich grass, which covers these most marvellously fertile valleys and plains, and then covered the dear old horse's head with branches of white May and dog roses, with a wreath of mignonette and larkspur. The mignonette grows in these plains in far finer specimens than are usually found in English gardens.
Monday, May 7th. - Stretched out again into the plain; this time, underneath the hill occupied by our Rifles. We crept up the green ravine between the Rifle hill and the hill in occupation of the enemy. But the Rifles were amusing themselves with target-practice far over our heads; and the whistle of the balls, as they flew over us, made us remember that we were very much in the position of a brace of partridges on the 1st of September; so we turned, and reached home just in time to change horses, and canter over to the Guards' encampment, where we dined with Lord Adolphus Vane.
Wednesday } Three days of incessant rain.
Oh, how miserable everybody was! the ground ankle-deep in swamp, - a slippery, sticky sort of wet clay, which sends you sliding as though you walked on ice; while, at every step, it closes over your horse's fetlock-joint. Added to this, towards nightfall came occasional gleams of rheumatism glancing through the bones.
I feel myself like St. Simeon of the Pillar, Tennyson describes him, -
And all this cold, damp, rain; wind, and sleet have come to make memorable this tenth day of May, 1855.
Saturday, 12th.- Rode up the hill to see how the 10th and 12th had prospered during the wet weather. Poor little brilliant Arab horses, they looked like rats that had been drawn through wet mud and hung up in the sun to dry. They were living cakes of mud; their long tails reminded us of ropes of sea sand. Poor little gay creatures, all draggled and besmirched! Vicious to a degree beyond words are these fairy horses; and if they once let loose, they fly at, fasten on to, and tear each other with a tenacity and venom that I should have supposed only to have existed amongst women.
Saturday, l9th. - The first arrival of the Sardinian troops in Balaklava harbour.
Sunday, 20th. - Omar Pasha, who has returned from Eupatoria, whither he took flight the day after the one I have previously described, in consequence of a reported augmentation of the Russian force before that town, called on me this morning.
He gave us a very pressing invitation to accompany him to Eupatoria, where he intends to go on Tuesday, and offered us accommodation on board the "Valorous."
Monday, 21st.- A match for 50 l., between Colonel Poulett Somerset's chestnut, "Goodboy," and General Barnard's brown horse, "Coxcomb" - "Goodboy," ridden by Captain Townley, who had the reputation of being the best race-rider in India (he came over with the 10th Hussars, to which regiment he belongs), and who certainly rides like a professional jockey, and looks like a gentleman rider; and "Coxcomb," ridden by Mr. Morgan, of the Rifle Brigade, son of Sir Charles Morgan, of Tredegar. "Coxcomb" was an easy winner - at least, so I was told; for the match I was not destined to see, as General Airey had very kindly lent me a very pretty horse of his own to ride; and which horse, never having been accustomed to a habit, fancied that by dint of galloping he could run away from it. This he found was a fallacy; but I could not bring him to the course until after the race had been run.
Tuesday, 22nd. - Leave refused to Henry to go to Eupatoria. 500 Cavalry horses went over from; our camp to Kamiesh, to bring back convalescents, who had arrived there from Scutari.
The Sardinians were disembarked in great numbers to day; and, as we rode towards Kadikoi in the evening, we met two or three regiments marching up. Omar Pasha took a considerable Turkish force away with him today to Eupatoria; and those who were left behind, near Kadikoi, were changing their ground, and marching, with their frightful and discordant music, at the same time that the Sardinian troops were coming up the road. The dust, noise, confusion, and heat may be imagined, but I cannot describe it. The appearance of 4h. Sardinian troops gives general satisfaction. The Rifle corps, which we met today, is most picturesque. They are dressed in a dark tunic and trowsers, with a broad-brimmed glazed hat, with a bugle stamped in gold on the front, and long massive plumes of black and green cock's hackle flowing over the left side of the hat, reaching to the shoulder. Their baggage transport is also well arranged. They are large covered carts, on two wheels, made entirely of wood, and painted light-blue, drawn by one, or sometimes two or three, magnificent mules.
Wednesday, 23rd. - A day entirely occupied with receiving morning visitors. Whilst we were at dinner, we heard some of the heaviest firing that we have listened to for months. Captain Lushington, who was with us, was at first anxious to go to his own battery, being alarmed lest the firing should be on the English, but after listening some time, we found that it came entirely from the French on the left.
Thursday, 24th. - The morning, till five o'clock, spent in the same busy idleness; but at five o'clock we ordered the horses, and rode down to our old grazing ground, near the Woronzow Road. As we were sauntering home, flower-laden, we met a second regiment of Sardinian Rides, and rode by the side of the regiment until we reached our camp. As soon as they came in sight of the Cavalry camp the men began to cheer them; and as they passed, regiment after regiment took it up, and such a storm of shouts filled the air as must have frightened the pale young crescent moon looking shyly down from the serene, calm, evening sky - such cheers as only Englishmen know how to give.
I have been much amused to-day by hearing of the theatre which the Zouaves have established at the front, and where they perform, greatly to their own satisfaction, "Les Anglais pour rire."
This morning brought us news. Twelve hundred French were killed and wounded, besides many officers. One company went in 100 men, and came back - 3. They had attempted to storm and take the Flagstaff Battery, and had failed. General Pelissier, who has succeeded to General Canrobert in the command of the French army, will doubtless fight it out again, as his chief characteristic seems to be most resolute determination, and disregard of all that interferes between him and his object. I think that General Canrobert's resignation of his post as commander-in-chief has given rise to many an expression of respect and kindly feeling, which would most necessarily have been withheld from him so long as he continued to hold a position for which it was obvious to himself and others that he was incompetent.
This evening we made up a party, and rode to Karani, to hear the band of the Sardinian Guards. There was a crowd of Englishmen and Frenchmen already assembled. Perhaps it was because one fancies that every Italian must necessarily be a musician; but I certainly waited for the commencement of the music with an impatient interest with which no military band ever inspired me before. But to-day at least I was disappointed. Beautifully they played, each instrument weaving its own peculiar harmony, with a truth and expression, such as could only be produced by genuine artists; but for to day they contented themselves by looking round at their audience, and - playing to them Valse and Polka, Galop and Quadrille. I fancied, as I watched the handsome swarthy faces of the band, that there was a proud look of concealed scorn as they regarded the waggling heads and beating; hands of the admiring crowd. To me it seemed a derision, a mockery of music. We left early.
While we were listening to the Sardinian music, the French were repairing their last night's work: they succeeded to-night in driving back the Russians, and there is nothing now between them and the town.
To-day has been kept as the Queen's birthday, with a Cavalry review, at which Lord Raglan, General Pelissier, and Omar Pasha were present, with a very brilliant staff.
Omar Pasha's dress was to my idea perfection. His dark-blue frock-coat, magnificently embroidered in gold, was fastened at the waist by a sword belt, the buckle of which, as well as the hilt of his sword, blazed with diamonds; a crimson ribbon across the shoulder bore the French order of Napoleon, while his crimson fez, instead of the usual tassel, was embroidered in front with diamonds and gold. The review was satisfactory enough. It was very hot, and rather dusty. The Staff in scarlet must have paid dearly in discomfort for the brilliancy they gave to the "tout ensemble." The 10th Hussars and 12th Lancers made a numerous, but I cannot think an imposing, show. The remains of our Heavy Cavalry looked to my eyes far more soldierlike, more English, more solid.
Declining an invitation from Omar Pasha to take luncheon in his tent, we rode straight to head quarters, where Henry saw, tried, and purchased a horse; and then we went to the plain below Kamara, where the Guards had games and footraces, and Lord Adolphus Vane an illumination in the evening, in honour of the day. We remained until about eleven o'clock; and then, to quote the words of the famous Mr. Pepys, "with great content, but much weariness, home to bed."
Friday, 25th. - In our saddles by five, ready to accompany the Sardinian and Turkish armies, together with a strong force of French and some English Cavalry, who were to take Tchergoum, a village on the banks of the Tchernaya, and to establish themselves in the plain lately occupied by the Russians.
The troops began to march at midnight; and consequently, when we reached the foot of Canrobert's Hill, we found the French Cavalry returning from Tchergoum, from which, after some sharp firing, the Russians had fled.
The French destroyed some of the houses, and plundered others, and then left the village. Seeing that it was useless to go to Tchergoum until later in the day, we followed some French Artillery until we came to a very handsome stone bridge over the Tchernaya. Here the Russians opened fire on us from a battery on the Inkermann heights; but though they fired several shots, it was at long range, and they did no damage. One or two passed over our heads as we were watering our horses in the clear stream of the Tchernaya; and several more annoyed the French, who were destroying an earth-work from which the Russians had removed their guns. We ascended the hill, and had a good view of the valley and ruins of Inkermann; and soon after, finding the heat on the hillside becoming intolerable, we turned our horses, and proceeded, a party of five, along the winding banks of the Tchernaya.
To us, who had not seen a river, and scarcely a tree, since our arrival in the Crimea, the shady windings of the Tchernaya appeared to possess greater beauty than, perhaps, actually belonged to them; though none but ourselves can know the wondrous luxury of riding through the tall and flowering grass, under the shade of oak and ash, creeping clematis, and climbing vine. We crossed the ford, and let our horses graze, while we sat underneath a spreading tree. Some more adventurous members of the party found two fish-traps, full of fish, which we carefully put into a haversack, and then rode over the hill and along a lane, until we carne to the height overlooking Tchergoum. Here we found various parties of English officers, all exploring, like ourselves. We descended into the valley, but were presently warned that the Cossacks were behind us, and we must lose no time in getting away, which we did in as dignified a manner as we could. A few shots followed us, but not sufficiently near to excite any apprehension; and, clambering up a perpendicular hill, through thick masses of underwood, we got once more into our own country, and rode home in peace.
Saturday, May 26th. - This evening must always keep its place in my memory. We rode to hear the Sardinian band. Owing to a large number of their army having arrived, their audience was mostly composed of their own people. Then they played!
Amongst other pieces selected for our enjoyment, was one with solos on the cornet-à-piston, which the maestro played himself. I listened with closed eyes, to shut out all this outer world of camps and trumpet-calls, round-shot, dust, and noise, that I might be alone with the clear voice now speaking to my heart. The music was so sad! it rose and fell like the sighs and aspirations of a soul shut out from Paradise, yet striving to enter in. Now there was an agony of wild, impassioned anguish; - now the notes fell soft, low, clear, and calm, as though angels had come to minister to the distracted soul. Each tone spoke, - not to my ears, or to my heart, but to the innermost depths of my soul; - those depths that lie far down, as much out of human knowledge as the depths of the deep, deep sea!
Sunday, May 27th. - Rode this evening all over the valley of the Balaklava charge, -"The valley of death," as Tennyson calls it. but it reminded me more of another expression of his, "Oh, death in life!" The ground lay gaudy with flowers, and warm and golden in the rays of the setting sun. It was literally covered with flowers; there was hardly any grass, - in places, none, - nothing but dwarf-roses, mignonette, larkspur, and forget-me-nots.
Here and there we passed the carcass of a horse; - we saw five, with 8. H. on the hoof. Six-pound shot lay strewn about thickly enough, and pieces of shell. I did not see it, but was told that a skull had been found quite blanched and clean, with most wonderfully beautiful and regular teeth. We saw to-day no traces of unburied human bodies, - the horses had all been lightly covered over, but many of them were half-exposed.
We gathered handsful of flowers, and thought, - oh, how sadly! - of the flowers of English chivalry that had there been reaped and mown away!
News came this morning of the expedition to Kertch. It was put into general orders, and read to the troops. Kertch was taken, without difficulty, the moment the allies appeared before it, as the Russians blew up their forts and retired. We also became possessed of sixty guns of large calibre, and many ships of transport, laden with grain and stores. The Russian steam gun-boats attempted some resistance, but the "Snake" went at them in the most gallant manner, and very soon drove them back. General orders went on to say, that the Russians had sunk several steamships, and that our fleet is in possession of the Sea of Azov. The plunder, we hear, has been enormous. No casualty up to this time had occurred in the allied force.
We hear most distressing reports of the sickness among the Russians. Fifteen thousand are supposed to have been sent from Sebastopol to Kertch, Yenicali, &c. These, of course, are now (such as were not blown up with the forts at Kertch) distributed amongst the various villages, to be abandoned again as we advance.
Sunday, June 3rd. - Chiefly remarkable for a proposed ride to the Baidar Valley, which did not come off, and for a delightful diner à la belle étoile, which did. We sat on the summit of a rock, so perpendicular that one dreaded looking down its giddy height upon the quiet sea below. At length the glimmering twilight died away, and, one by one, the stars came out. As far as nature was concerned in it, never was a fitter evening to conclude a Sabbath day.
Wednesday, June 6th. - I was extremely unwell; overpowered with the terrible heat, and weak and languid to a degree that compelled me, as I thought, to remain perfectly quiet and still. We intended to give our saddles a rest-day, when suddenly, at three o'clock, the guns pealed out from the front, and announced, with their tremendous voices, that the third bombardment had begun.
We knew that this time the guns would not play an overture for another farce; so we ordered our horses, "Bob" and the pony, for I was unequal to riding any other horse than my "sweet pony," and we galloped to the front. The first point of observation was opposite Sir George Cathcart's grave; our second at the quarries, further on. At neither of these places could we see the least what was doing, owing to the dense smoke which hung over town and battery. Lady George Paget was sitting on the rock-work of the quarry, vainly endeavouring, as were many more, to trace the operations through the fog.
We, who came up at so much cost to ourselves, were determined to see if possible, and rode along the front until we came to a post of observation opposite the Maison d'Eau. Here we saw very well, as the breeze had risen, and left the French attack clear from smoke. Altogether, our observations to-day were very unsatisfactory, as the principal firing was on the Mamelon vert, which stands to the right of the Redan and Malakoff batteries. We were told that the storming of the Mamelon vert would take place to-morrow; and as we-were determined to see as much as possible of the working of the guns on that battery before the assault, we left the Maison d'Eau at seven o'clock, and, dining about eight, went to sleep earlier than usual.
Thursday, June 7th. - Rose at three. Started at four for the front, where we established ourselves in the piquet-house, exactly opposite the Mamelon vert. The firing at that time was tremendous. Gun after gun, shell after shell, pitched into, on, or near the fated battery. Most of the embrasures were knocked in, nearly every gun dismounted! The Russians, who had already begun to fire very wild, only replied with two guns, one at each corner of the battery. These guns worked till the last.
Presently a shot came bobbing up the hill, like a hare, to where we stood, though we were not in the line of any of our batteries; but it seems that, whenever the Russians saw a group of people, they fired into them.
The heat, for we had watched (I confess to having fallen asleep in the middle - but then I was very tired and weak) from half-past four till ten o'clock, was getting intolerable, so we mounted and rode home by the Fourth Division. On our way home we met a French officer, who told us on no account to omit being at the front by four o'clock this afternoon.
By three o'clock we ordered fresh horses and started once more. As we approached the French lines of General Bosquet's division we saw the storming party forming up - five-and-twenty thousand French They stood a dense and silent mass, looking, in their dark blue coats, grim and sombre enough. Presently we heard the clatter of horses behind us, and General Bosquet and staff galloped up. General Bosquet addressed them in companies; and as he finished each speech, he was responded to by cheers, shouts, and bursts of song. The men had more the air and animation of a party invited to a marriage than of a party going to fight for life or death. To me how sad a sight it seemed! The divisions begin to move and to file down the narrow ravine, past the French battery, opposite the Mamelon. General Bosquet turns to me, his eyes full of tears - my own I cannot restrain, as he says, "Madame, à Paris on a toujours l'Exposition, les bals, les fêtes; et - dans une heure et demie la moitié de ces braves seront morts!" But let us ride up the hill to the piquet-house and watch from thence for the third rocket - the signal of assault. Our stay at the piquet-house is short, for shots are coming up there fast. A navvy just below us has had his head taken off; and, besides, there is a place a little further back commanding a much better view. Here we can seat ourselves on the grass, and let our horses graze.
What a vehement fire! and all directed on the one spot. Two rockets in quick succession are gone up, and a moment after comes the third. Presently the slope of the Mamelon is covered with men, ascending separately and rapidly; not marching up in line, as our Infantry would have done, but scattered like a flock of sheep. Two guns, hitherto masked, in the Mamelon open quickly upon them; but they rush up, and form when they reach the entrenchment. For a time we can see nothing but clouds of smoke. The guns are all silent now, - nothing but the volley and file - firing of musketry. The Russians, standing on the fort, fire down on the advancing French; but presently some men are seen leaving the Mamelon and rushing towards the Malakoff. They are Russians, and the Mamelon vert is now in possession of the French. A momentary silence which succeeds enable us to distinguish musketry on our left. It is the English, who are attacking the quarries in front of the Redan; and an Artilleryman, who comes up soon after, informs us that the English have taken the quarries with but little loss, and, if let, will take the Redan.
But the noise in front commences again, and I see men in hundreds rushing from the Mamelon to the Malakoff. Per Dio! they are not satisfied with what they have gained, but are going to try for the Malakoff, with all its bristling guns. Under what a storm of fire they advance, supported by that impenetrable red line, which marks our own infantry! The fire from the Malakoff is tremendous - terrible; but all admit that the steadiness of the French under it is magnificent. On our left the sun is setting in all his glory, but looking lurid and angry through the smoky atmosphere, that is becoming dense and oppressive from perpetual firing. Presently the twilight deepens, and the light of rocket, mortar, and shell falls over the beleaguered town.
We cannot hope to hear any accurate report of what has been done to-night; and as it is now ten o'clock, and too dark to see anything, we catch our horses and ride slowly away.
Meantime cholera is come among us, and at Balaklava has asserted itself by stopping a career of much energy and usefulness. Poor Admiral Boxer has fallen a victim to its remorseless gripe, and is buried at the head of the harbour, where he worked so hard, early and late, to endeavour to rescue Balaklava from the plague-stricken wretchedness in which he found it a few months before.
Friday, June 8th. - The French are in the Mamelon, where they found seven big guns, They have thrown up an 18 lb. battery, from which I saw them throw the first shot at the Malakoff. We should have taken the Malakoff but for a deep trench twenty feet wide and eighteen deep; and there was no reserve with trusses of hay to throw in, so the French could not cross it. We have nearly silenced the Malakoff guns with our fire to-day. They were burying in all directions. We lost thirty-three officers killed and wounded. I have not heard of any one I know being killed. No words can do justice to the gallant conduct of the 49th Regiment; and all are full of admiration of the French, and the way they rushed at the forts. A strong sortie is expected to-night.
Saturday, 9th. - Was again at the front, though the fire had considerably slackened, and there was nothing doing.
But who could keep away from a place where so many interests were at stake? Not I.
Monday, 11th. - Took such a lovely, quiet ride to the Sardinian outposts, through a country of massive foliage, green hedges, and deep mountain gorges, to where a little village peeped out at us from beneath its heavy crown of verdure. The little village looked gay and smiling enough at a distance; nearer, it was all deserted and desolate. The houses had been plundered, and terribly knocked about. I found a deer's foot, which I carried away as a memento of our pleasant ride, and which I shall have mounted as a riding-whip if I ever live to return.
Thursday, 14th. - The Kertch expedition has returned, and is in Balaklava Harbour.
The destruction of Anapa appears to afford the principal topic of camp conversation. We hear that the "Kertch heroes" have brought home lots of plunder, and we are rather curious for their disembarkation. The success attendant on the expedition seems to have put everybody in good spirits; and "We must have a try for Sebastopol now" is the cry from the General to the newly-arrived Ensign.
I was occupied principally with a private grievance of my own, which, although to me cause of very great annoyance and inconvenience, put me much in mind of the Old Lady in Albert Smith's ascent of Mont Blanc, who lost her favourite black box. This box (of mine) has been coming out to me ever since the latter end of February, and it is now the 14th of June! Disgusted by the delay which at first attended the delivery of goods viâ Hayter and Howell, this immortal box was sent out to me by what was to have been a shorter route; and after an expensive correspondence, an incalculable quantity of ill temper on my part, and a most vexatious delay, we heard this day that the ship in which this bête noire left England had arrived in Balaklava and had discharged her cargo. We sent down a man and pack horse to the agents of the ship, but received a message in reply denying all knowledge of the box. Next morning the same man and horse went down to Balaklava to the Parcels' Office. No box. Immediately on their return we sent them down a third time; this time desiring the servant to see the ship-master, and to go on board the "Odin" himself. He did so, and returned with a note saying that, in consequence of a stupid mistake on the address of the box, it had been left at Scutari, where it had been delivered on the 7th of May!! It contains my summer clothing.
Friday, 15th.- Breakfasted with Général Feray, who commands the Light Brigade (Chasseurs d'Afrique), and afterwards rode, accompanied by his staff and an escort of Chasseurs, to the Château Periouski, a Russian hunting-box about a mile from Baidar. The ride was through a country absolutely lovely - a country of hills and valleys, green trees, and fountains bright, clear, and cold. The château is evidently only just completed. It consists of a large dining room, with a beautiful parquet, and several smaller rooms on the ground floor, and a turret and gallery. Except near the stables, where were two large rooms, there seemed no accommodation for servants. There was a granary, a coach-house, a four-stalled stable - such narrow stalls! - and a cow-house, carefully floored with boards, but looking clean and comfortable nevertheless. A garden all run to waste, and a perfect wilderness of trees, completed the inventory of the place. After we had thoroughly explored it, we returned to the camp of French Heavv Cavalry, at a village about two miles in the rear (Vernutka), where le Marquis de Forton, the General commanding the Heavy Brigade of French Cavalry, gave us a most hospitable invitation to a déjeûner à la fourchette, arranged under large spreading trees, the branches of which had been interlaced to form an arbour, and ornamented with masses of flowers.
In this delicious shade we remained chatting as gaily as if we had all been old friends, until the sun went down behind the cliffs on the sea shore, when Général Forton and some of his officers accompanied our party back to the tent of le Général Feray, which we did not leave until near midnight, after having passed one of the most agreeable days of our Crimean experience.
Saturday, 16th. - The Brigade of Guards marched up to the front, to be in readiness for the storming, taking, and destruction of Sebastopol, which is announced to come off on Monday next.
Sunday, 17th. - The guns opened fire in their usual rattling style, and had a magnificent burst of about half an hour without a check. They then slackened for a little while, but soon recovered speed, and went on at best pace till the afternoon, when they got very slack. But people seemed everywhere in the highest spirits about to-morrow.
We remained at home till late in the evening, as several friends came down to see us, to say and to hear kind words, and to be wished good luck for to-morrow.
About six o'clock Henry and I rode up to the front, not so much to see the fire as to shake hands with many who we knew were going in to-morrow morning. A few amongst these were, Captain Agar, Colonel Wyndham, Major Hamilton, Captain Hume, Lord Adolphus Vane. It was eleven o'clock before we reached home, and at that hour we found le Capitaine Léon Müel awaiting us in the tent. We sent our horses to have a double feed of corn. I am sorry to say we have two horses out of four useless; "Bob" having hurt his heel, and the other, "Chestnut," his back. Ordered some tea for ourselves, and then, having listened as long as my weariness would permit to an elaborate account of the wonders about to be performed by the French Cavalry and Chasseurs d'Afrique to-morrow, I crawled into the hut, and lay down for two hours without taking off my habit.
Monday, 18th. - At two, A. M., we were drinking some coffee, and at three o'clock we were at the front, seated on the ground as far forward as the Light Cavalry (who have been made into special constables!) would permit. We were a few minutes late for the opening fire, but in time for such a storm of shot, grape, shell, and musketry as had never before annoyed the ears of Heaven. We could see no troops. The Malakoff is firing gun after gun, though as many as five of our shells burst in it at one moment. The answering fire of the Malakoff is tremendous, and they have run up an enormous flag. The heavy guns of the Redan play away like so much file firing: the whole western horizon is dense with their smoke. So long as these guns fire, it is evident these forts are in possession of the Russians. But the French sent down 25,000 men, and what with all our men told off for the storming party, such pertinacious resistance cannot last long; and if once we get in, the Russians will pay dearly for their obstinacy. The firing, however, grows less: there are no guns from the Malakoff now. The great flag which they hoisted there is hauled down; and the Mamelon has been silent for some time. They fire a stray gun or two from the Redan; and we, who are looking on and wondering, inquire, "What next?" Alas! we are soob told. The supports are seen moving. We fancy they are going down to the quarries to strengthen the force already there, for they disappear for moment in a ravine - but no, they are advancing towards us: they are coming away The firing is over; ambulance mules are going down. So, then, we have been beaten back.
The Brigade of Guards and Highlanders who have been waiting on our right are forming in column, and marching back to camp. We too turn away - blind with watching, and stupefied with the intense heat of the sun. We meet countless wounded coming down. Sir John Campbell is dead, Colonel Yea dead, and Colonel Shadforth; while many that we know are cruelly wounded: there seems no end to the ghastly train. Colonel Mundy, of the 33rd, shot through the thigh with a Minié rifle ball, walked into the mess hut of the 23rd, where we were sitting, as gaily as though he were untouched. Many soldiers, shot through arms and legs, walked up from the trenches, self-supported and alone; nor would any one have perceived their wounds but for the small hole in the coat or trousers.
How magnificent is such defiant courage!
Tuesday Evening. - We heard that poor Captain Agar is also dead! He was mortally wounded, and expired from exhaustion soon after he was carried back to camp. Poor Shiffner, who so nearly lost his life some time ago, is also killed.
Thursday, 21st. - The 10th Hussars are moved out into the plain with the Turkish and Sardinian force. The French talk of storming the Malakoff again in about twelve days; meantime, they are making regular approaches to it as to a town.
Friday, 22nd. - General Estcourt is taken ill with cholera. What a suppressed feeling of disgust and discontent runs through this army! It is no part of my business to enter on such a discussion, and I have hitherto carefully avoided doing so; but I cannot help sharing in the general interest and anticipation of a great and speedy change: men feel that their lives have been trifled with too long.
Saturday, 23rd. - General Estcourt is still alive, and the account to-day is more hopeful.
We rode to the monastery, and returned in one of the most tremendous thunderstorms I ever remember The lightning was continuous and dazzlingly vivid, while the rain poured down in such torrents as to detach pieces of rock of half-a-ton weight from the cliff, and send them headlong into the road. The waters too rose so rapidly that tents, saddles, and kits were all washed away; while near Balaklava eight Turks were this morning found drowned.
Sunday, 24th. - Poor General Estcourt died this morning. It strikes us that Death has taken the recall of those in authority into his own stern hands.
Thursday, June 28th. - We had heard that Lord Raglan was prevented by indisposition from attending General Estcourt's funeral, which was a strictly private one; and we heard yesterday that Lord Raglan's health was improving, and that nothing serious was apprehended. Our consternation was great, when one of his staff, who was with us at the monastery, received a hasty message that Lord Raglan was rapidly becoming worse. I can hardly imagine a greater misfortune to the army than his death at such a moment as the present. Now, when we may be about to lose them, we remember how valuable and necessary are his diplomatic powers in an army composed of so many nations. We are almost tempted to lose sight of the inefficient General, in the recollection of the kind-hearted, gentlemanly man, who had so hard a task, which he fulfilled so well, of keeping together and in check the heads of so many armies.
Friday Morning, June 29th. - Lord Raglan died last night!
It seems as though some pulse in this vast body had ceased to beat, the army is so quiet. Men speak in low voices words of regret. The body is to be conveyed to England for burial. There is a report that Baraguay D'Hilliers is coming out with 40,000 men to land at Eupatoria, and invest the north side of Sebastopol. A day or two ago, this might have caused some interest; now, for to-day at least, the thoughts of all meet in one darkened room, where lies he who a few hours ago was commander-in-chief.
Saturday, 30th. - The Russians, always aware of our movements almost before we are so ourselves, having heard of our loss, made an attack on our trenches last night, and were driven back with some loss on our side. I hear that thirteen of the Naval Brigade were killed, and sixteen of the Guards.
General Scarlett and Colonel Lawrenson arrived in Balaklava yesterday; the former takes command of the Cavalry Division, and Colonel Lawrenson of the Light Brigade. We are all glad to have General Scarlett in command of the Division, instead of the senior colonel, himself commanding a regiment, which is always objectionable, and indeed in the French service is not permitted.
I have been ill for some days, as, indeed, who has not? and would gladly avail myself of Captain King's kind offer of his cabins on board the "Rodney," in Kamiesh Bay; but Henry dares not apply for leave, as the troops have no money. The officers' field allowances are all due to-day, and for the last ten days there has not been any money in the Commissariat chest!
The report in camp is that Commissary General Filder has signified his inability to provide forage for the number of horses now in the Crimea.
Sunday, July 1st. - As we were riding yesterday along the banks of the Tchernaya, we could not but remark the vast herds of cattle grazing by the stream, and we compared them with our own starved, over-driven, cruelly used beasts, with broken tails, and bleeding from hard knocks and blows. The Transport Corps some days ago reported that they would not be in an efficient state until they had 22,000 baggage animals. At present they have between 8,000 and 9,000. If Commissary General Filder's report is correct, the poor horses already here, and the hundreds that are coming out, may look forward to a cheerful winter! The very idea of such another winter fills me with pain and dread.
July 2nd. - It is in orders this morning that the Cavalry Division moves out to the plain, in the direction of Baidar, on Wednesday next, to strengthen the position at the outposts held by the Sardinians, as two divisions of the Russian army have marched down within the last few days to the Crimea. This will disarrange us all very much, we have become so settled in our old camp. As for me, when I look at the number of things with which I have become surrounded in hut and tent, I confess I can only sit down and shrug my shoulders, for it is absurd to think of packing in this tremendous heat.
Lord Raglan's body is, I understand, to be escorted by ten squadrons of cavalry to-morrow to Kamiesh, where it will be put on board the "Caradoc," and so taken to England. Meanwhile General Simpson reigns in his stead.
*That of the Naval Brigade.