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Attitude of the German Powers page 3


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On the Black Sea the combined fleet had ridden triumphant. In a cruise of twenty days they met no foe, but picked up prizes in considerable numbers. One incident had occurred which added to the wrath and mortification of the Czar. The Furious was sent to Odessa to bring away the English consul. As her boat, bearing a flag of truce, was returning to the ship, she was fired upon; and no satisfactory explanation being given, the Admirals Dundas and Hamelin appeared off Odessa on the 21st April, with a combined squadron, and demanded redress. General Osten-Sacken having refused to grant any redress, the admirals sent in a steam squadron the next morning, and bombarded the war-port, but tried to spare the town. In twelve hours they had blown up a powder magazine, destroyed, by shot and shell, a goodly number of ships, and many buildings containing stores. The loss of the allies was three killed and twelve wounded. After inflicting this chastisement for a breach of the usages of war, the squadron cruised off Sebastopol, but met no enemy; and on the 5th of May, Sir Edmund Lyons, with a squadron, steamed away for the Circassian coast, where his presence caused the Russians to abandon all their forts, except those of Anapa and Sujak Kaleh, lying at the northern end of the coast, near the straits of Kertch. The Circassians took immediate advantage of this, and confined the garrisons of the two forts within the walls; while the Turks occupied Redut Kaleh and Sukhum Kaleh, in Mingrelia and Abasia.

During the spring, the troops of the allies gradually assembled in the dominions of the Sultan; and in the month of March, and for many subsequent months, the blue waters of the Mediterranean were ploughed by the fleets of transports, under steam and sail, all bound eastward; while the straits which divide Europe from Asia were almost as crowded as the Thames. The first soldiers of the allies to land in Turkey were six Sappers and Miners, under Captain Chapman, who arrived at Constantinople on the 29th of January, and were employed in surveying the defences of the Bosphorus and the site for the lines at Boulair. The first French detachment left Marseilles on the 19th, and landed at Gallipoli on the 31st of March; with these went Generals Bosquet and Canrobert. At the same time convoys were departing from the ports of Algiers, and fresh divisions were assembling near Toulon and Marseilles. The British Guards, and some line regiments, had been sent on to Malta, and thence at the end of March, and also from the ports of England, they began to embark for Turkey. Part of the Light Division, under Sir George Brown, reached Gallipoli on the 6th of April, and encamped on the north flank of the lines of Boulair. The soldiers of the two armies now met together; they had greeted each other cordially at sea, and they were not less friendly ashore. Once embarked in the same cause, and the two nations, as well as the two armies, became the heartiest of allies. Day by day, and week by week, the huge English transports, and the French vessels, of smaller tonnage, came labouring up the Dardanelles - the French to discharge their living freight at Gallipoli, the English to land theirs at Scutari, on the Asiatic shore opposite Constantinople. Lord Raglan arrived there on the 29th of April, and Marshal St. Arnaud on the 7th of May. The Duke of Cambridge, coming in with the French marshal, completed the British staff. On the 7th of May, there were about 17,500 British troops at Scutari and Kululi, near by, and 4,000 at Gallipoli. The cavalry and more infantry were still at sea. By the end of May, the French had concentrated 37,000 men and 5,500 horses at Gallipoli. Thus, the allied forces, some of whom had quitted England for Malta in February, gradually, and somewhat slowly, brought their hosts into masses in the dominions of the Sultan.

The French army consisted of four divisions of infantry, under the orders of General Canrobert, General Bosquet, Prince Napoleon, and General Forey - an officer who served his master on the 2nd of December, 1851, and who, in 1863, won his marshal's baton in Mexico. There were besides, eight batteries of artillery, or sixty-four guns. The British army consisted of four divisions. The first, under the Duke of Cambridge, was composed of the Guards and the Highland Brigade; the second, commanded by Sir De Lacy Evans, consisted of the 30th, 41st, 47th, 49th, and 95th regiments; the third division, under Sir Richard England, was composed of the 1st, 4th, 29th, 38th, 44th, and 50th; the Light Division, with Sir George Brown for its chief, was made up of the 7th, 19th, 23rd, 33rd, 77th, 88th, and the 2nd battalion of the Rifle Brigade. At the end of May, only two regiments of British horse had been landed at Scutari - the 8th Hussars and 17th Lancers. There were probably at this time about fifty guns in the parks at Kululi. Every day, however, augmented the forces of the allies; and two months later we shall see that each army had been increased in the interval by the arrival of fresh divisions from the West. The pressing question at the beginning of May was to organise the military machine; to put it into fighting and marching order; to provide more for its future than its present wants; to lay up stores of provisions and depots of ammunition; and, above all, to gather together the means of setting the military machine in motion when it was completed. This was no easy task. The French, by habit, were better prepared for war than the English, but the French found it difficult to give legs to their transport corps. As to the English, they had been hurried into action almost totally unprepared. They had neither a military train nor even the nucleus of such a corps; they had no effective medical staff; they had an inexperienced and undermanned commissariat. They had magnificent regiments, individually perfect; but they had no army. Everything had to be done on the spot; and being done in a hurry, and by men not accustomed to the work, it was imperfectly done. The British had not been a week in Turkey before there was an outcry for transport. Lord Raglan had a splendid collection of soldiers; but he could not have marched them fifty miles. Let those who have read the letters of St. Arnaud say whether it was far different with the French.

Pending this interval, employed in organising the army, there were balls, and banquets, and reviews to strengthen the alliance, and make it patent to all the world. The Sultan did two noticeable acts: he galloped his horse twice in public; and he spoke to a Christian woman - Madame de St. Arnaud! But this was the showy part of the business; the real work was done quietly, in the chambers of the embassy, in the quarters of the generals, and in the councils of war and consultation. The reader is aware that at this time the Russians were hurling column after column upon the outworks of Silistria. Not a man in the allied army believed the place could resist beyond a given time, say six weeks. By the end of June, then, it was calculated that Prince Paskiewitch would have established himself in Silistria, and would be able from that base to act offensively against the line of the Balkan. What were the means and modes of opposing him? This was the question which occupied the thoughts of the allied commanders. Marshal St. Arnaud was, to judge from his letters, in a state of feverish impatience for action; but, according to the statements of Mr. Kinglake, he was also in a disturbed as well as ambitious frame of mind. It is said that he tried first, to obtain the command of the Turkish army, next to effect an arrangement which would have given him a control over that of England. These vagaries of a vain and ambitious man were frustrated by Lord Stratford and Lord Raglan, and they did not meet with the approval of the Emperor. But events pressed. The Russians were certain not to wait until the allies had devised some plan. It became imperative to see the facts a little more clearly than they could be seen at Constantinople; and, in the middle of May, Lord Raglan and the Marshal went to Varna, to meet the Turkish general, and hear from Omer Pasha his view of the situation, and his conception of its requirements. Omer Pasha told them he had 45,000 in Shumla, and with these he could defend it. He had 18,000 in Silistria; but these, he believed, could not hold the place longer than six weeks, that is, to the end of June. He had about 20,000 at Kalafat. The rest of his forces were scattered in detachments. He naturally suggested Varna as the point of concentration for the allies. The two generals agreed to bring up their troops to Varna. After the conference broke up, they drove to Shumla, inspected the troops and the field works forming the camp, and found both better than they expected. They saw that with a Turkish force in Shumla, and an allied force in Varna, the Russian general, even if he captured Silistria, would hesitate to plunge into the rough country leading to the Balkan with an enemy on each flank. Lord Raglan and Marshal St. Arnaud returned to Constantinople on the 23rd of May, to execute the measures they had undertaken in concert with Omer Pasha.

Marshal St. Arnaud went to Gallipoli with the full intention of fulfilling his engagements. " We have chosen Varna as the base of our operations," he wrote on the 25th. " We must get into line as early as possible. I have ordered the troops to embark. On the 2nd of June I shall have at Varna 12,000 men; on the 8th, 24,000; on the 18th, 40,000." This was written at Constantinople. When he reached Gallipoli, he suddenly changed his mind. He determined not to move his troops by sea, but to direct them by land upon the line of the Balkans. The reason assigned for this change was the defective organisation of the French army, its want of horses and guns. He determined not to put his forces in peril, and, without consulting Lord Raglan, he gave orders for the land march. One division, indeed, he sent by sea; but the remainder he directed to move in succession, two by Adrianople upon Aidos, the third by Rodosto and Constantinople upon Bourgas. Lord Raglan, when informed of these proceedings, could not fail to be astonished. He could not control the French army, he could not concur with its chief; but he could and did control the English army, and he steadily declined to take part in the movement. The plan of the French marshal was to occupy the southern slopes of the Balkans, to place his own troops next to the sea, and to placo the English on the extreme left flank among the hills. Lord Raglan demurred to the proposal. He would not employ or place any part of his army in Roumelia. Marshal St. Arnaud's project has been defended in a military point of view. It certainly provided for the safety of the allied army; but, as we conceive, it was neither sound in a military nor a political point of view; for, regarded from the first, it gave up the advantage of the sea route, and the combined position of Varna and Shumla; and, in the second, it left Omer Pasha to wage war alone against the whole Russian army, and offered no encouragement to the Austrian project of aiding by demonstrations, if not by arms, in the expulsion of the Russians from the Sultan's territory. Lord Raglan's opposition was fatal to the plan; but the unexpected proposal of such a scheme, and the hasty measures taken by St. Arnaud to execute it, delayed for many days the better movement of concentration upon Varna by sea; for General Bosquet was already painfully toiling along the road to Adrianople, and Prince Napoleon's division was marching to Rodosto. The consequence was that Lord Raglan, who had landed Sir George Brown's division at Varna on the 30th of May, had to keep his other divisions at Scutari? lest he should appear in greater force than the French. In fact, the time of concentration was now determined by the progress of the French divisions marching overland. Whether this arose from the passion of the Emperor Napoleon for strategy, we know not; but certain it is that he did strive, more than once, to direct military operations from Paris, and that the change in the mind of the marshal was coincident with the arrival of Colonel Trochu, a staff officer, from Paris.

Thus it happened that a movement on Varna, begun on the 29th of May, was not completed until the 4th of July, when the troops of General Bosquet emerged from the passes of the Balkan. It was not, in fact, until the 30th of July that the French had even three divisions at Varna. In the meantime Lord Raglan had sent up in succession his four divisions by sea, and had thrown forward the Light and 1st Divisions on the road to Shumla. The time had been occupied in making Varna a base of operations - that is, in heaping up vast stores of food, collecting ponies, mules, carts, placing ammunition in magazines, providing forage, building piers and wharves, making roads, and even sinking wells. The French divisions, when they came, lay on a wooded plateau above Varna to the northward, overlooking the sea. Marshal St. Arnaud kept them altogether camped in a military fashion. The British force was not massed. The Light Division and the 1st were thrown forward as far as Devna and Aladyn on the road to Shumla, with the 8th Hussars and 17th Lancers and four guns doing outpost duty. The other divisions lay nearer to Varna. The camp3 were pitched in beautiful places. The white tents crowned a green knoll, or extended along a sandy plateau, and looked out upon broad sweeps of turf broken by groups of fine trees, and overlooking a shining lake skirted by meadow lands, and backed by the rugged outlines of the Balkan. The woods were gay with birds of gaudy plumage, and the marshes streaked with lines of venerable storks. But the peculiarity of the country was the absence of inhabitants. Except those in the service of the commissariat, drivers of mule carts and bullock drays, and now and then a wandering Bulgarian, none were to be seen. Fear had driven them to desert their homes; and it was not one of the least disadvantages attending the armies of the allies that they had to operate in a country practically deserted. The want of transport, felt even at Scutari and Gallipoli, became a positive evil in Bulgaria. The porter and ale sent out for the consumption of the troops could not be carried inland for want of carts and horses; the water was bad, and the men drank the red wine of the country, and, in consequence, fell victims to disease. Diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, made their appearance in the camps, and the graveyards began to fill. Then the air was polluted with horrid exhalations, and in addition the men pined for action. So that, although the sites of the camps looked healthy, bad management, imperfect food and drink, intemperance, a burning sun by day and chilling dews by night, and ennui, soon reduced the physical and moral stamina of the troops.

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Pictures for Attitude of the German Powers page 3

Lord Stratford de Redcliffe
Lord Stratford de Redcliffe >>>>
Departure of the Guards
Departure of the Guards >>>>
Marshal St. Arnaud
Marshal St. Arnaud >>>>

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