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Chapter XVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 4


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In the afternoon the wind began to rise, and the rain to fall. The surf increased, and the operation of landing artillery and horses became first dangerous, and then impracticable. Some horses went overboard in spite of the assiduity of the seamen, and some boats laden with guns were obliged to return to the first ship that would receive them on board. The British army landed without tents; but the space devoted to the French was white with the little tents d'abri which the French soldiers carry wherever they go. Towards sunset the rain fell continuously, and soon the earth was soaked with water, and the hollows filled, with it. Lord Raglan landed in the afternoon, and/ immediately rode forth to inspect the whole position /and its outposts on all sides, and he did not return from this duty till eight o'clock. When night fell, the troops lay down upon the deluged ground, and passed their first night with rain streaming on them from above, and mud around them below. Officers were not better sheltered than men, and he thought himself lucky who found a bed under a country cart. It was a severe trial for our troops, and its effects were visible on the sick list next morning.

Indeed, the fatal cholera had not been left behind at Varna. The white sheet and slung shot were seen on the sides of many a transport during the voyage; and the soldier who had come so far to fight and endure, perhaps to die in battle, met another doom, and swathed in

"His heavy-shotted hammock shroud,
Dropped in his vast and wandering grave."

Some hundreds, as the ships drew up opposite Lake Kamishli, were too ill to be moved from their berths; and ere sunset, those who had landed were bearing back to the boats new victims to cholera, or interring corpses on the Crimean sands. We have already seen how defective was the land transport. That deprived the men of their tents. But there was another branch of military service equally uncared for. The medical men were few, the medical stores were scanty, and there was not a single ship suitably fitted for the reception of the sick. It was a dreadful oversight. The sick were carried to the beach, where, as no arrangements had been made, they lay for hours on the damp sand, and then were packed in one transport. The Kangaroo received 1,500 men in all stages of disorder. All day on the 15th she lay off the shore with this painful freight; and as her captain declined to proceed, at the last moment some were transferred to other ships going to Scutari. This was the first trial and the first failure of the medical department, not from any fault of its own, but because the service was stinted, and the sad contingency of sickness had been overlooked. It was the first, but not the last. There were many more in reserve.

The armies lay four days in position off the points of debarkation. Each day there was work enough to be done in completing the operation of landing. On the 15th the wind blew heavily on shore, and sent a rough surf dashing over the shingle and sand. But, later in the day, the wind went down a little, and the British were enabled to put on shore more guns and the greater part of the cavalry; and the French landed more guns and their 4th division. Lord Raglan also went on shore, and established his head-quarters on a rising ground, and rode round the outposts as before. The men and officers slept once more in the open air. They made beds of fern and lavender; but, although the rain did not descend in steady streams, a heavy dew saturated beds, and blankets, and kits. On the 16th the tents were landed, in the hope that transport for them could be found in the country. It was not found, and all the tents were taken on shipboard before the army marched.

And why could not transport be found P When the allies first landed, the country people, simple farmers and shepherds, quiet and inoffensive, came into the camp; and, as they had done at Eupatoria, brought fowls, and eggs, and sheep, and were glad to sell them. They also were willing to let out their carts and bullocks. According to the British system, these men were well treated and well paid. Wellington, even in France, could always secure a well-supplied market, and even transport, by treating the people civilly and paying them well. So it would have been here. But the French act on a different system. If they do not permit, they connive at plundering; not only plundering by marauders for their own individual behoof, but plundering by armed and authorised bodies. It is allowed in all countries that stores belonging to the Government of your enemy are good prize. You may, by the strict rules of war, take private property, if you need it. Yet, as a general rule, it is prudent to respect private property; or, if you take it, to pay for it. The French took both alike. On going his rounds on the evening of the 16th, Lord Raglan learned that a body of Zouaves had entered and plundered the village of Baigaili, within the British lines, and had even abused the villagers, men and women. Of course a speedy end was put to such brutalities. At the same time, Captain de Moleyns, with a squadron of Spahis, went out of the French camp, and returned driving before him flocks of sheep and cattle, a few camels, a number of arabas, or country carts, and a group of natives, the captives of his spearmen. The effect of these predatory forays was to reduce to a minimum the supplies of all kinds, animate and inanimate, to be derived from the country. It is true that the Cossacks, now in greater force, were hovering around the army, and that by day and night the signs of their handiwork were visible in blazing ricks and homesteads; but they could not have prevented the Tartars from coming in, nor did they prevent our soldiers from seizing the stores of Government grain at Sak. They served, however, to scare the people and cut off our supplies. While these Zouaves and Spahis were ravaging the villages, it was remarked that the Turks, who had landed on the 15th and 16th, " the much-abused Turks, remained quietly in their well- ordered camp, living contentedly on the slender rations supplied from their fleet." Nevertheless, the Commissary-General, by aid of military force and money, managed to get together about 350 country wagons, with bullocks and drivers, for the supply of the British section of the invading army.

The operation of landing occupied four entire days, and the fifth was spent in terminating the preparations for the march. The 4th British division, under Sir George Cathcart, except two battalions, arrived and were put ashore. The French landed 26,500 men, 72 guns, and a few Spahis. The Turks landed 7,000 men, all infantry, and no mention is made of their field artillery. The British landed 26,800 men, including 2,100 artillerymen, 60 guns, and 1,100 horsemen. The total force was, therefore, in round numbers, 61,000 men and 132 guns. The French force consisted of four divisions, under Canrobert, Bosquet, Prince Napoleon, and Forey. The Turks were under Selim Pasha. The English army was composed as follows: -

Light Division, Sir George Brown. - 1st Brigade, 7th, 33rd, 23rd, Brigadier Codrington; 2nd Brigade, 19th, 88th, 77th, Brigadier Buller; 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade.
1st Division, The Duke of Cambridge. - 1st Brigade, Grenadier, Fusilier, and Coldstream Guards, Brigadier Bentinck; 2nd Brigade, 42nd, 93rd, 79th Highlanders, Brigadier Colin Campbell.
2nd Division, Sir de Lacy Evans. - 1st Brigade, 41st, 47th, 49th, Brigadier Adams; 2nd Brigade, 30th, 55th, 95th, Brigadier J. Pennefather.
3rd Division, Sir R. England. - 1st Brigade, 4th, 50th, 38th, Brigadier J. Campbell; 2nd Brigade, 1st, 44th, 28th, Brigadier Eyre.
4th Division, Sir G. Cathcart. - 1st Brigade, 20th, 57th, Rifle Brigade 1st Battalion, 50th, Brigadier Goldie (who, with 57th, had not arrived); 2nd Brigade, 21st, 63rd, 46th, Brigadier Torrens.
Cavalry, The Earl of Lucan. - 4th Light Dragoons, 8th and 11th Hussars, 13th Light Dragoons, and 17th Lancers, Brigadier the Earl of Cardigan. Artillery, Colonel Strangways. Engineers, Brigadier Tylden. Adjutant - General, Estcourt; Quartermaster-General, Airey; Commander-in-Chief, Lord Raglan. [Sir John Burgoyne seems to have been a sort of adviser to the Commander-in-Chief.]

The French preparations were completed by the morning of the 18th. They had far less to land than the British. The weather was no real obstacle to the landing of infantry, or even of stores; but it materially delayed the debarkation of the horses; and independently of the artillery and baggage animals, and chargers for the staff of all the divisions and brigades, the English had to land 1,100 troop horses. In spite of his knowledge of all these facts, Marshal St. Arnaud grew impatient of the delay. He hoped to be able to start on the 17th, but his own preparations were not then complete, and he next fixed on the 18th, regulating his views solely by his ability to move, and taking no account of the hindrances necessarily besetting the English army. No doubt it was important to hasten onwards, but more important to move in such a condition as would preserve both armies from disaster. On the 18th, Marshal St. Arnaud took one of the most extraordinary steps he had yet taken. He uttered a threat. He had sailed from Baljik without consulting or waiting for Lord Raglan. On the 18th he says, in a letter to his wife - " I have just written to Lord Raglan to say that I cannot wait any longer, and that I shall issue my orders for marching at seven o'clock to-morrow morning - nothing shall stop me any more." This was a very arrogant thing to do. Marshal St. Arnaud, if the English had not been ready, could not have fulfilled his threat, as he had no cavalry, and the Russians had numerous squadrons. But it so happened that the English devoted the 18th to preparations for marching the next morning. Lord Raglan had ordered, with reluctance - transport not being forthcoming - the embarkation of the tents, and even of the knapsacks of the infantry. Small portions of the kit of each man were rolled in his great coat and blanket, and strapped on to his back. This was done to lighten his load, as the whole of the troops were sickly and weak. But it may be questioned whether the men did not suffer more from want of their full kits than they would have suffered from the weight of the burden. Had the English not been ready, Marshal St. Arnaud's resolution would have been tested. But they were, and the order was issued.

The troops arose from their damp beds at an early hour on the 19th, and paraded in marching order. Much time was still spent in accommodating the baggage and stores of so many thousands to the limited number of carts at the disposal of the Commissariat. Everything not indispensable in a military point of view was left behind. There was so much scattered on the beach, that Sir George Cathcart had to part with his only brigadier, Torrens - for Goldie had not arrived - and also part of his division; and Lord Lucan had to detach the 4th Light Dragoons from his weak brigade of cavalry to guard the beach, and see all the stores, and tents, and baggage safely on ship-board. Time wore on, the sun was high in the cloudless heavens before the word was given to move. It was about nine o'clock. Marshal St. Arnaud, according to the French writers, had then been two hours on the march.

The positions taken up by the allies at Old Fort determined their positions on the line of march. The French, by landing to the south, were of necessity next to the sea; that is, on the right - the place of honour in the line. It had probably been arranged beforehand that in the march to Sebastopol they should derive all the protection they could from the sea, because they had no cavalry. Be that as it may, they took up a position with their right resting on the sea, and their left on the right of the English army. Lord Raglan's force took the left, or outermost flank, probably because he could dispose of a brigade of light horse. His outposts, as a matter of course, extended far inland, and the front of his division was bent towards the north-east. The limit of the march was the Bulganāk, seven or eight miles distant. But whereas, in order to reach it, the French moved along the inner or shortest line, the English marched on the outer or longest line, having to start from a point not less than a mile in rear of the French left, and having at least a mile in addition at the other extremity to march before they could range up in line. So that, as will be seen, by starting first, as well as moving on the shortest line, the French were able to be first again in position on the Bulganāk.

The nature of the operation determined the order of march. In warfare, an army about to act on the offensive selects what is called a base of operations; that is, a fortified or otherwise secure spot, where its magazines of all sorts can be formed, whence it derives its stores, upon which, in case of reverse, it can fall back. The line from this base to the object aimed at is called the line of operation. As the army advances from its base, it is usually obliged to guard its communications with that base, or occupy and subdue so much of the country on each side as leaves the great roads free from molestation. But on landing in the Crimea, the allies had no base except Constantinople, communication with which lay safe and secure across the Black Sea. The shipping formed an intermediate base, and a movable one; so that the generals did not need to create, at this stage of the invasion, a place of arms and supplies in the Crimea. When they left Kamishli, they left it absolutely never to return, unless driven back. The fleet moving parallel with the armies, supplied and supported them, and provided them with means of re-embarking, and retreating over the sea from any point on the coast accessible to boats. This being so, the allies in the march towards their object, Sebastopol, had no fears for their communications, and had only to move in such an order as gave full security for the time being. They therefore marched in a formation which would have enabled them to fight at any moment.

The French adopted a formation derived from Marshal Bugeaud. They name it a lozenge or diamond échelon, somewhat like this sketch: (See fig) The 1st division formed the point, the 2nd and 3rd the two sides, and the Turks and 4th the rear. The 1st and 4th were in themselves arranged in lozenge shape; the 2nd and 3rd in two parallel columns of brigades. The artillery of each division marched in the space enclosed by the columns, and the large space in the centre of the formation was devoted to the reserve artillery, the baggage, and other impediments. Thus, the warlike machine was complete and self-sustaining, and able to form a front of battle in any direction. Around all marched the skirmishers. In this order the French army, flanked by the fleet, approached the Bulganāk.

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Pictures for Chapter XVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 4

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

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