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


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Their exact loss at Inkermann is not stated, but is roughly put at 900 men. Among the wounded was Canrobert. No one can tell the Russian loss. The allies state that they buried 4,500 men on the field, and took 900 wounded. The French think the Russians lost 10,000 men; but, if the wounded bore the usual proportion to the killed, the whole loss must have been nearer 20,000. Prince Menschikoff was slightly hurt. The field of battle presented a more than usually horrible spectacle, for the dead and wounded lay within a space about a mile and a half long and half a mile deep, while about the sandbag battery the corpses were piled in heaps. It is a stain on the memory of the Russians that they killed many of our wounded officers and men, and deserted even their own wounded; so that the two Commanders-in-Chief were compelled to adopt the unusual course of remonstrating against this barbaric mode of carrying on war.

No one alive on that bloody field, except Lord Raglan, had ever seen so sad a spectacle. The Duke of Cambridge was so deeply affected by the loss of the Guards alone that he fell sick, and shortly afterwards went home. Sir De Lacy Evans, ill though he was, had come up from Balaclava in time to see the crisis and the close of the fight; and he is said to have taken the gloomiest views of the prospects of the allies, and even to have advised the abandonment of the whole enterprise. And, indeed, the allies were in a dreadful plight. They had won a victory, but at a cost which forbade all further progress with the siege for some time.

Their first object was to guard against any recurrence of hostilities on the right flank. On the 6th a council of war was held, attended by all the principal officers of both armies. The questions were - Should advantage be taken of the defeat inflicted on the enemy to re-open fire and assault the place, or should the project of assault be given up, and the attention of the allies be directed to maintaining the security of the position? The French were decidedly opposed to any immediate active prosecution of the siege with a view to an assault, and it is said Lord Raglan reluctantly consented. That being so, it became necessary to consider whether the allies should give up the siege altogether, and some generals favoured that proposal; but the generals-in- chief would not hear of it. Lord Raglan determined to hold fast to the place, wherefore provision had to be made for wintering in the Crimea, and for defending Inkermann. The upshot of the deliberations of the council were, that " the assault should be postponed until the arrival of fresh reinforcements; that works for the defence of the Inkermann position should be at once commenced; and that a French division should be moved to the right to assist in the construction of these works and in protecting the right flank." These resolutions were at once put in execution. The French division encamped on the right. The engineers traced the works, and the French and Turks began to construct them; but the labourers were few, the ground rocky, and the distance great; and these works were not really finished for two months.

It has been said that the position should have been entrenched from the beginning; but those who make this charge seem to lose sight of the facts. The principal and conclusive fact was the weakness of the allied army compared with the work to be done. Had the Inkermann position been entrenched, armed, and occupied in strength sufficient for the protection of the guns alone, active siege operations must have been suspended, and the ground occupied by the allies have been converted simply into an entrenched camp. It is an open Question whether the French general could not have spared a division from the siege corps to reinforce the 2nd Division; but it does not admit of doubt that, unless work in the trenches ceased altogether, the English could not have furnished any men to entrench the Inkermann position. After the battle it was less difficult to do so. Then the strength of the enemy had been broken in the field. He had received a lesson he was not likely to forget. Ho could not renew the combat. But, more important than this, the allies found themselves compelled to suspend the siege, and, of course, they could the better spare men for the occupation of the right. Before the 5th of November the main object was the projected assault; after the 5th the main object was the defence of the position, so as to render it secure all the winter through.

Considering the smallness of his force, the distance from England, the great extent of his lines, the climate, the length and character of the road from Balaclava to the front, the unprovided state in which this army was, the certainty of over-work and trying exposure, Lord Raglan's determination to maintain his position was one of his most creditable acts. It is true that it entailed unexampled suffering on the British troops, that it gave rise to scenes all would willingly forget, that it convulsed a Parliament and ousted a Ministry, and insured for Lord Raglan himself endless abuse and reckless calumny; but it saved the military honour of England. By the devotion of those men who fought the battle of Inkermann, by their endurance, the British nation was able to see its cherished policy executed, and Sebastopol destroyed. There are few more noble things in the military history of England than the resolve of Lord Raglan to hold on, when he knew so well that his means were utterly inadequate; that weeks - -months must elapse before effectual succour could reach him; and that he and all his men would have to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their country. "When the shortcomings and faults of Lord Raglan are summed up, this act should not be forgotten. And when the sufferings of the soldiers are remembered, it must be remembered also that the principal cause was the honourable resolve not to yield an inch of what it had cost so much to win, and what must be held tenaciously, at all risks, if the "standing menace" to the ' Sultan's capital and the peace of Europe was to be destroyed.

But now we must quit the Black Sea and its shores for a space, and narrate the proceedings of the fleet in the Baltic; and then proceed to blend together the winter incidents in the Crimea and the astonishing proceedings of the British Parliament and the British nation.

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

The Valley of Inkermann
The Valley of Inkermann >>>>
General Bosquet
General Bosquet >>>>

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