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Chapter XVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 5


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The English array was far simpler. Two regiments of cavalry, the 11th and 13th, under Lord Cardigan, followed by rifle skirmishers and their supports, led the way. Then came the main body in two grand columns, with the guns on the right of the divisions to which they belonged. These columns consisted of the Light and 1st Divisions on the left, and the 2nd and 3rd on the right. They Were formed in what is called a double column of companies from the centre of divisions; that is, the left company of the right brigade and the right company of the left brigade formed the head of the column, the other companies taking the same order in succession; so that, as the object was to secure the left or exposed flank of the combined army, by simply wheeling the companies of the left brigade to the left, a line of battle could be instantly formed to that flank. The baggage and reserve ammunition followed the 3rd division, that is in rear of the right column, while the 4th division closed the line of march. One regiment of cavalry rode on the left flank, on a line with the head of the Light Division, and one in rear, on a line with the 4th Division; while the rivulet of skirmishers covering the front trickled along the left flank, and brought up the rear. Thus (see fig).

In this order the English army moved on. Spectators (and there were some) were filled with admiration as the deep red columns, tipped with a shimmer of light, reflected from the bayonets, swept over the grassy plains. The day was bright and hot, the breeze fresh and soft, and it is recorded that the trampling of tens of thousands on the Crimean steppe so bruised the herbage that a delicious fragrance filled the air. In spite of the piteous sights that haunted the rear - wearied men, and men in the agonies of death, and corpses lying by the way - the spectacle from the little hills was one most grand and imposing. Some there were, among the chiefs, who had of yore seen such a mass of power; but none of the younger generations had ever before beheld upwards of 20,000 bayonets gleaming in the sun, and not collected for parade, but for the actual and dread business of war. So over the undulating steppe, becoming less and less as it moved altogether, but remaining still mighty, the British army closed up to the Bulganāk, and found themselves in the presence of the enemy.

The French, as we have said, were the first to cross the Bulganāk. When our troops came up, the French had halted in position and were at rest. But it was our lot to fire the first gun. The divisions were crossing the river when the Cossacks showed themselves on the slope which ascends from its bank. The cavalry were ordered to look after them; and as they retired over the ridge, Lord Cardigan followed. As he descended into the next valley, he found himself face to face with a tolerably strong force of horsemen. The skirmishers on each side began firing; but, as the Cossacks did not come on, Lord Lucan ordered our squadrons to retire alternately. Suddenly the enemy opened fire from horse-artillery, and kept it up pretty smartly upon the British, now halted - waiting for the guns. They had not to wait long, for over the ridge came bounding Maude's troop of horse-artillery. Famous for rapidity, our gunners instantly came into action, and replied to the enemy with such spirit and accuracy that the Russians quickly ceased firing, and sheered off over the next ridge. By this time the Rifles and part of the leading divisions had crowned the ridge in rear of our cavalry; and our horsemen, with a loss of five wounded, and the guns together with the Infantry, returned to the position on the Bulganāk, where they rested for the night. The Russians were a reconnoitring party, strong in infantry, which kept out of sight. The cavalry present could not. have been less than 2,000. Some of them visited the French, but were driven off by the artillery. So ended the first day's march. The allies bivouacked on the south bank of the Bulganāk; and, in order to guard against a flank attack, the English divisions again faced to the eastward, that is, nearly at right angles to their line of march. Vedettes and sentries were out, and fires lighted, and within the guardian circle slept the wearied troops.

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Pictures for Chapter XVI, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 8 page 5

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

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