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Chapter XVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 3


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In the afternoon the Caradoc, bearing a flag of truce, ran in towards the beach, and Colonel Steele and Colonel Trochu put off in a boat and summoned the garrison to surrender. As no one dreamed of resistance, the allies quietly landed - a body of French, Turks, and British marines - and took possession of Eupatoria. But it is said, the officer in command was so rigidly built up in official forms, that he told the officers of the allies who carried the summons, that when the troops landed, they must consider themselves in quarantine! The acquisition of Eupatoria proved to be of great value, for as the people were justly treated, and as supplies were paid for, and the country rich in corn and cattle, they brought them in to the market throughout the campaign. The bay also afforded a tolerable anchorage, in case of a reverse; but, happily, it was not needed.

In the bay of Eupatoria the armada remained at anchor for the rest of the day, in order to give the stragglers time to come up. At the sight of land, and cheered by the prospect of service, St. Arnaud had suddenly improved in health. Off Eupatoria he saw Lord Raglan, and his cheerful firmness of heart may have helped to give strength to the invalid. Marshal St. Arnaud had been much troubled touching his successor. He felt that his life was ebbing away, and he had written to the Minister of War, saying that though he might, by " a supreme effort," reach Sebastopol, yet that then he must resign. At this moment, learning that, in case of accident, St. Arnaud would direct General Morris to take command, General Canrobert produced a letter from the Emperor, appointing him to succeed the marshal, thus relieving the mind of St. Arnaud of what he in his ardent language called a " cruel torment." Before the sun set on the 13th, General Canrobert and General Martimprey steamed away in the Primauguet, accompanied by the Mouette, to indicate, as De Bazancourt records, the exact position to be occupied on the following morning by the French transports and war-ships. The night was calm and fine, the stars shone brightly, and the breeze was soft and gentle. No English ship went with them, and what they were disposed to do, they had full opportunity of doing. It is to be supposed they did nothing but reconnoitre, for it was not until the following morning, very early, as we learn from the same author, that three light French steamers repaired to the beach off Old Fort, and there laid down three buoys of different colours, to indicate the spaces within which the three French columns were to anchor.

Before dawn on the 14th the huge squadrons were in motion, the British nearest the shore, the French next, the Turks on their right, and the British men-of-war keeping watch and ward over all. The place selected for a landing is a low shore, barely two feet above the level of the sea. There were two good landing-places; one in front of the Lake Kamishli, a narrow strip of land, through which ran the high road from Eupatoria to Sebastopol. At its southern extremity the coast rose into cliffs of red clay and sandstone, forming a plateau. Beyond this short range of cliff, the shore fell almost to a level with the sea. Another strip of land between the sea and a small lake intervened, and then the coast rose again into cliffs, and extended, broken only where the four rivers entered the sea, as far as Sebastopol. The morning was bright and calm, and the sea smooth. The ships of the allies came racing on, the men-of-war cleared for action, but there was no enemy in sight. Only a few Cossacks kept pace with the fleet from Eupatoria; then part of them galloped off towards Sebastopol; while some, lying flat on the high ground, watched the ships; and an officer was seen, almost at the last moment, sketching the spectacle before him. It was evident that the debarkation would not be opposed.

The French have a passion to be first, and where there are no pains taken to disappoint them, the passion is easily gratified. On this occasion they were first on shore. Perhaps, although no pains had been taken to deprive them of a little triumph they set so much store by, they would not have been first to land on the 14th of September, but for a very singular incident. As we have said, there were two bays or landing-places. From the motions of Admiral Lyons, who had charge of the debarkation, one would conclude that the arrangement made contemplated the landing of the whole of the allied force in the southern bay. For Admiral Lyons, in the Agamemnon, the guide on that day, ran down towards the southern bay. All the transports were following. Suddenly, the consequences of that night visit paid to the scene by Canrobert and Martimprey, and of the visit to the same spot by the three French steamers that same morning, were visible. Coloured buoys marked the limits which the French had assigned to themselves, and those limits took in the whole of the southern bay. Admiral Lyons stopped his ship short, and looked around. While he was meditating, up came Admiral Bruat, with the van of the French, calling out that Lyons was too far southward. Then came a French officer repeating the same thing. " During this short suspense," writes Captain Mends, of the Agamemnon, "I called the attention of Sir Edmund to the approach of the transports, and pointed out that they would fall into confusion, if he did not quickly decide upon his anchorage, as the Spitfire and Triton, the two steamers told off to anchor as the points within which our flotilla had been instructed to bring up, were looking to the Agamemnon for position." It is clear from this, either that there had been a misunderstanding touching the division of the landing-place, or that the French, with their accustomed arrogance, had taken as much of the space as they thought fit. That they did lay down buoys is manifest from the statement of De Bazancourt; and that these buoys, or one of them, trenched upon the intended landing-place of the English, is plain from Captain Mends' letter, and from a letter written by Lord Raglan to the Duke of Newcastle, and published by Mr. Kinglake. Lord Raglan says that it was settled the landing should be in Old Fort Bay, that is, the southern bay; and "that a buoy should be placed in the centre of it to mark the left of the French and the right of the English; " but that Sir Edmund Lyons found a buoy placed at the northern extremity, and that the whole bay was thus engrossed by the French. " This occasioned considerable confusion and delay," writes Lord Raglan; "the English convoy having followed closely on the steps of their leader, and got mixed with the French transports; but Sir Edmund Lyons wisely resolved to make the best of it, and at once ordered the troops to land in the bay next to the northward." Captain Mends declares that no inconvenience or delay resulted from this French proceeding. But any one who reads the letters, written at the time from the Crimea, will see that there was great confusion and considerable delay - delay enough to enable a French boat with a flag to run ashore, and thus gratify the national and individual vanity of the Gauls. We do not believe that any motive other than a resolve to have enough room, led to this placing of the buoy at the north end of the bay. But whatever the motive, the effect was the same. Although the British convoy had been obliged to drag along over the sea at a slow rate, because the French were slow and behind; although the British were the quickest in running down the coast, yet when it came to actual landing, they were thrown to the rear, because the unexpected appearance of the French sea-mark compelled Admiral Lyons to improvise new arrangements. This is the mystery of the " buoy."

The French having made these separate arrangements for themselves, came down to the landing-place in beautiful order. Every one was in his place, because the place had been pointed out. The men-of-war ranged up nearest the beach, for they were full of troops, and the transports anchored outside. Their lines lapped over both ends of the bay they had appropriated, thus edging off the British convoy to the northward, and restricting its share of the space near to its own bay. The consequence was, as Lord Raglan wrote, confusion and delay; for, although the British convoy was first at the point of debarkation, more than three hours were spent in rectifying the disorder caused by the course the French adopted. The transports had steered for one point. While they should have been disembarking the troops, they had to be moved up to another, and rearranged as best they could. It was of no use to bring down the boats until the ships were freshly arranged. Nor was it found possible to place them exactly in the order assigned to them by Captain Mends. The order of sailing had been deranged. " The ships were scattered here and there," says an eye-witness, "till the whole affair reminded one of the arrangement of a midshipman's chest, 'everything uppermost, and nothing at hand.' The rules and regulations laid down for anchoring off the enemy's coast were upset and disregarded by all." The cause of this we have seen; but mere spectators were, at the time, ignorant of that cause, and they laid the blame on the wrong shoulders. It is, however, impossible wholly to acquit the naval authorities. In dealing with the French, and perhaps with any other allied nation, but with them certainly, it is not only necessary to make the most precise and definite arrangements on paper, but to see that these arrangements cannot be departed from on any pretence whatever. Nothing should be taken on trust, or left to a liberal interpretation; for your Frenchman is certain to interpret an arrangement so as to give him the lion's share of its advantages. Admiral Lyons placed too much confidence in the chivalrous feelings of his Gallic coadjutors. Had he sent a steamer to reconnoitre in company with the French steamers, the mischief would have been avoided, for it would have been easy to adjust the claims to the sea space; and once adjusted and properly marked out, the fleets and convoys would have been brought up in order within their assigned limits.

As it happened, the French convoy and men-of-war came up, while ours were involved in confusion - a confusion which De Bazancourt, official historian, has the frankness to admit, was caused "by a change in the plans agreed upon." By half-past eight o'clock, on that brilliant morning, they had lowered a boat, in which General Canrobert and half a dozen soldiers entered, landed them, run up a flag, and saluted it with cries of " Vive l'Empereur! " In an hour and a half there were 6,000 Frenchmen on the strip of beach between the sea and a little salt lake. "Whereas, at ten o'clock we had landed Sir George Brown and General Airey (who had succeeded Lord de Ros as Quartermaster-General), Lieutenant Vesey, of the Britannia, and a company of the 7th, under Colonel Yea, or of the 23rd, under Colonel Lysons, for the honour is claimed for each. After this period the operation of landing went on with speed and regularity. The French skirmishers were already stretching away to the east and south, and the beach was alive with battalions, forming up and marching off to the table land above. During the process of landing a little dramatic incident occurred, which nearly ended in the capture of Sir George Brown. There was on the cliff, between the French and English, a look-out party of Cossacks, eagerly scanning the immense mass of ships and the shoals of boats now rushing towards the shore. The officer who commanded them sat on the edge of the red cliff, overlooking the sea, and he appeared to be sketching or making notes, while his men capered hither and thither on their shaggy ponies, and flourished their spears. Suddenly one of them caught sight of a cocked hat visible above the slope leading from the cliff to the beach. He pointed it out to the officer, who rose, mounted, and, with his men, stealthily approached the invisible owner of the hat - a tempting prize. It was Sir George Brown, who had come up from the beach to reconnoitre. The Cossacks saw him, but he did not see them. Luckily for him, some one had directed a picket of Fusiliers to follow the venturesome general, and when the Cossacks, who could not see the escort down the slope, made a dash at their prisoner, they no sooner saw him run than they saw also the Fusiliers, who opened fire and drove them off. All this, or nearly all of it, was visible from the ships, and added not a little to the excitement of the scene.

The operation of landing went on all day. When once begun, the ample supply of boats in the British fleet enabled the infantry to be put on shore with great rapidity. The sailors worked with such good-will that they won the admiration of all. They helped the men into the boats, they rowed them ashore, they tenderly assisted them from the boats to the beach. Some were half, some wholly, naked; and, standing in the surf, they handed, and sometimes carried, the men to the firm land. Ready for anything, if a gun stuck in the shingle, half a dozen tars seized the wheels and ran it up on to the hard sand. And so all day, with unflagging energy, they plied between the strand and the ships, and deserved the praise they won. As soon as a regiment had disembarked, they were formed; and as soon as an entire brigade had come ashore, it was arranged in what are called contiguous columns of battalions, that is, each battalion formed a column, with the front of a company, and each column stood six paces from its neighbour. The Rifles had gone early to the front, skirting and rounding Lake Kamishli, and occupying two villages on the edge of the plain - Bagaili, on the right front, that is, to the south-east of the lake; and Kamishli to the northeast. These were the guards of the whole, and under their protection the brigades and divisions formed on the beach, and marched upwards to the table land. At a safe distance from the outermost lines of the allies, Cossack outposts were visible, sitting motionless on their ponies, with uplifted spears, mere specks on the vast plain, like the countless tumuli and the windmills. The Cossacks were the sole evidence on shore that an enemy was near. But down the coast a few miles three steamers were shelling a small Russian camp, the sound of the great guns being audible on the beach at Kamishli, and the smoke and other signs being visible three or four miles out at sea.

Between one and two the French had put ashore their 1st and 2nd divisions of infantry, and had posted them on the plain; the 1st on the right next to the sea, the 2nd on its left, both to the south of the small salt lake which figures in the French, but not in the English maps. It was not until sunset that the 3rd division had reached the shore, and marched up on the left of the 2nd; while the 4th division, sent to make a demonstration off the mouth of the Katcha, was slowly ascending the coast towards Old Fort, where it arrived the next day. Yet, early in the afternoon, Marshal St. Arnaud, who had just landed, officially informed Lord Raglan that he had "the whole " of his infantry ashore. That was incorrect, as is evident from the official papers issued by the French War Department, on which we have based our statement. By three o'clock, although they began so late, the British had landed three complete divisions - the 1st, 2nd, and Light, two batteries in a state fit to go into action, and a squadron of Hussars. By sunset we had landed 23,700 men, and nineteen guns ready for action. The strength of the three French divisions landed on the 14th was, on the 1st of August, 25,135 men. Six weeks had elapsed; the cholera had been most destructive, especially during the march into the Dobrudscha. Fixing the loss from death and invaliding at the low figure of 5,000 men, we shall see that the force landed on the 14th could not have exceeded 20,000. The official report states that they landed fifty-nine guns, all horsed; but the reports at the time stated that the horses for those guns had only been partially landed.

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Pictures for Chapter XVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 3

Lord Raglan
Lord Raglan >>>>
Admiral Dundas
Admiral Dundas >>>>
Formation derived from Marshal Bugeaud
Formation derived from Marshal Bugeaud >>>>

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