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


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The losses of both sides were very great. Of the English there were 22 officers killed and 78 wounded; 244 men killed and 1,209 wounded. The French lost 33 officers killed, 257 were wounded, and 21 were missing. They also lost 1,340 men killed, 1,520 woundedj and 390 missing. The wounded men thus exceeded the dead by 180 only - an unusual proportion. The totals stand - for the English, 1,553; for the French, 3,553 killed, wounded, and missing. The Russian loss, as usual, is difficult to ascertain. Prince Gortschakoff's published despatch fixes the losses during the 17th and 18th at 16 officers killed and 153 wounded; 781 men killed and 4,826 wounded; giving a total of 5,776 as the amount of the Russian loss from the bombardment and the combat. The allied losses on the 18th were 5,106. On the 17th, 37 men "were killed or wounded in the British trenches. As the French placed more men in their batteries and parallels than we did, they may have lost 100. Adding 137 to the total of the allied loss in the two days, it still falls short of the loss of the enemy by 533 men.

Prince Gortschakoff was very proud of his victory. He issued an exulting order of the day. He told his soldiers they had defeated an "enemy in despair;" "Thanks be to you for it, comrades!" He stimulated their courage by telling them that large reinforcements were marching from all parts of sacred Russia; and he called upon them to die rather than break their oaths to preserve Sebastopol. "The time is at hand," he exclaimed, "when the pride of the enemy - the imperious enemy - will be overthrown; when his armies will be swept from our territory like straw before the wind. Until then have faith in God, and fight for Emperor and country!" These were stirring words, and much the stout defenders of Sebastopol stood in need of them. There was anguish, there was chagrin, in the camps of the allies, but there was no despair. The generals were as resolute as fate, and the soldiers were burning to go in again.

But there lay the dead and the Wounded, thick as leaves, on those bloody slopes. It became needful to bury the first and succour the second; and Prince Gortschakoff's boast seemed for a moment realised when, on the 19th, a boat bearing a flag of truce was seen coming in from the fleet by those who manned the forts and watched the mouth of the harbour; for the bearers of that flag of truce were instructed to present a request from the allied generals that Prince Gortschakoff would vouchsafe a short truce - the first and last request of that kind from the camp of the allies. The Commander-in-chief of Sebastopol must have felt a glow of pride when he received that message. Yet he could not have been 10th to grant the request it conveyed, for a truce, were it never so short, was time gained, and time gained to repair damages and get guns into the batteries without molestation.

Therefore, in the afternoon, one of those sad spectacles was seen, so full of strange contrasts - a burial truce. Bodies were thickly strewn near the abattis in front of the Redan. There lay the tall, manly form of Lacy Yea, a true soldier, beloved and feared by his men of the noble old 7th. There lay Sir John Campbell, a cheerful and gallant officer, as keen in fight as Yea. Both had been deprived of their boots, and Campbell's sword was gone; but this the enemy politely returned. Around them, mingled with the dead, were living men suffering from wounds. They lay, some of them, in the holes made by shells; and it is said that as they writhed in their agony, the Russians fired on them; probably mistaking them for sharpshooters, for some of the English wounded said that the Russians had treated them kindly, and had brought them water. Between the sentries, posted by both sides, passed and repassed the fatigue parties bearing the dead and wounded; and in the midst of the scene were groups of officers - the Russians in white kid gloves and patent leather boots, and clean shirts. The talk was of the usual politely defiant kind, but there were exceptions. Colonel Calthorpe states that he found the Russians cold, reserved, and melancholy, but others found them hopeful and sportive. " One Russian cadet with whom I was talking," writes Colonel Calthorpe, " in reply to a remark of mine as to our losses, said, with great bitterness of manner, and a voice choked with emotion, ' Losses! you do not know what the word means. You should see our batteries; the dead lie there in heaps and heaps! Troops cannot live under such a fire of hell as you poured upon us! ' " Very different was the tone of an officer whose remarks are recorded by Dr. Russell. " Another officer," he writes, " asked if we really thought, after our experience of the defence they could make, that we could take Sebastopol? 8 We must; France and England are determined to take it.' 'Ah! well,' said the other, ' Russia is determined France and England shall not have it; and we'll see who has the strongest will, and can lose most men.' " This was quite in the spirit of Prince Gortschakoff's triumphant order of the day. The French gathered up many wounded from the riven slopes of the Malakoff and the rough ground around the Careening Bay; and they were sad, and downcast, and thoughtful, as well they might be; but it was the sadness of genuine feeling for their comrades, and not the gloom of despair. In their camp, also, raged a fierce controversy, very bitter and prolonged. After a victory the faults of men are lost sight of in a halo of glory, but after a defeat men are prone to find fault, and each accuses another. General Pélissier was displeased, and he sent General Regnault de Saint Jean d'Angely back to his command of the Imperial Guards, and recalled the skilful Bosquet to his old post in the French right attacks. Bosquet was a real soldier, and owed his place in the army to his merit alone, and not to the influences at work in an Imperial court.

The assault on the 18th suggests many reflections. It was a day of errors. The primary fault lay in that change of plan at the eleventh hour which dispensed with a preliminary bombardment. The Russian works, and the barracks and buildings in rear of them, were full of troops. According to their own statements they had 14,500 men, exclusive of the sailors at the guns in the line of entrenchments between the Barrack Battery and No. 1 Bastion, at the mouth of the Careening Bay. The bulk of this force was in the Redan and the Malakoff; and, beside these, they had 4,000 men and eighteen field-guns in reserve. All these were under arms at the moment when the attack began. If, instead of columns of men, stumbling through the darkness, the allies had hurled shot and shell into the place, it would have made dreadful havoc in these masses. Before the Mamelon was stormed, the heaps of projectiles falling within it made it look like a volcano in action. The excuse of the French that they could not conceal their men, does not weigh down the advantage to be gained by a fierce bombardment from batteries far more powerful than they were on the 7th of June. In fact, the condition of the enemy, had the bombardment been continued as originally designed, would have been exactly the reverse of what it was. Instead of having not a gun dismounted, and hardly a man hurt, their artillery would have been silenced or withdrawn, and their ranks disordered and bleeding. Then the allies, having the advantage of light to see where they were going, might have broken in, and, it is possible, have carried the whole line.

The next fault was the unhappy mistake of General Mayran, which deprived the attacks of that unity so essential to success in operations of this kind. The consequence was that the assaults were delivered one after the other, by such small bodies as could struggle up to the foot of the enemy's works. The Russians, fairly roused by the tumult on their left, were actually standing to their guns and watching for the columns they knew to be coming on. The attack on the Malakoff was thus deprived of all chance of success, and the onset against the Redan was a mere waste of life, so weak were the columns, so dreadful the fire of grape- shot. What might have been done by a simultaneous rush, was shown by the charge of D'Autemarre's leading battalions. These brave fellows, well led, did not stop to fire, but went straight at the earthworks, and won their way in at the point of the bayonet. Had all the French columns moved together, some of them might have succeeded. Another mistake was the refusal of the French to assault from their left attacks, for the slightest success on their part would have enabled Eyre to lead a conquering column into the rear of the Flagstaff Bastion. After all, it was Eyre's men who made the conquest of the day. They won the Cemetery in the South Ravine. But, on the morning of the 19th, this post was held only by a picket. When an engineer officer reported the fact to Lord Raglan, he ordered the picket to be reinforced; and, in the evening, a strong force of English and French went down, and began works there, connecting the place with the British and French attacks. The errors of the day, then, were the fatal change which dispensed with the bombardment; the refusal of the French to assault on the left; the mistake of Mayran, and the consequent failure in the unity of the assault. To these it may be added, that the British assaulting columns, except that led by Eyre, were all too weak, and would probably have failed against the Redan, even had the French succeeded against the Malakoff. And, reviewing the whole operation carefully, there is some ground for the inference, that, although a preliminary bombardment would have given a chance of success, yet, at this stage, it is probable that failure would have been equally the result, because the distance which the stormers and supporters had to traverse to reach the enemy was so great, and also because the spirit of that enemy was still too high, and his losses, immense though they were, not enough to warrant that profound discouragement which precedes the final efforts of a desperate cause.

And now a severe misfortune was impending over the British army. It was about to lose its beloved Commander-in-chief. On returning from his conference with General Pélissier, after the failure of the 18th of June, taking the hospitals on his way, Lord Raglan found at head-quarters his letters from England, and one of the first he opened announced the death of his sister, Lady Harriet Mitchell - a severe blow to one so affectionate as he was. This, coming on the heels of the disaster of the morning, affected him the more seriously, because he was about to lose the services of his old comrade, Sir George Brown, whom ill health had driven from the Crimea. General Codrington went upon the sick list, and he, with General Pennefather, was ordered to take ship and seek repose. General Buller had gone away afflicted with fever. General Jones and General Eyre were in hospital wounded. But more than all, the Adjutant-General, Estcourt, an old friend of the Field Marshal, was lying ill of cholera. On the 23rd of June a tempest broke over the allied camps, and the rain fell in such vast quantities that the cavalry stables at Kadikoi were destroyed, and five men were carried away by torrents in the ravines and drowned. The huts, the batteries, and the railway were seriously damaged. General Estcourt, suffering from cholera, was agitated by the storm, and sank and died the next day. Lord Raglan had been ailing for some days. On the 23rd, Colonel Calthorpe from head-quarters wrote to his friends in England, that every one was more or less out of spirits. " Lord Raglan is, perhaps, the most cheerful of any one, considering how much he has had lately to worry and annoy him. But at the same time, I fear that it [the failure of the 18th] has affected his health. He looks far from well, and has grown very much aged latterly." And well he might. Forty years before he had lost an arm in the climax of the greatest victory of the century, and it must have been painful, even to a mind so well disciplined as that of the Field Marshal, to fail on the anniversary of Waterloo. He felt more bitterly the death of his sister, and now of General Estcourt, one of the bravest and most amiable of men. Indeed, he felt his loss so keenly, that he was not able to be present at the old soldier's funeral. In the afternoon he mastered his great grief, and visited his comrade's grave in the vineyard, where his body lay. He must have remembered that little church at Waterloo, whose walls are covered with the names of the glorious dead, and his thoughts must have traversed the dark past, and alighted on many spots in Spain and Portugal, the resting-places of gallant friends who had fallen in battle. Nor was he alone in sorrow. Sir Edmund Lyons had lost his noble boy, and Lord Raglan could feel for the dauntless Admiral who had put his hand to the work entrusted to them by their country with a thoroughness equal to his own. All these calamities falling upon him within a few days, broke even his firm mind. The last despatch he wrote to the Minister of War informed him of the death of the Adjutant-General. This was written on the 26th of June. On the 28th the Field Marshal himself had ceased to live.

He fell ill seriously on the 26th, but no one, not even the doctors, thought that he was sick unto death. He grew no better, but he slept well, watched over by his staff and Dr. Prendergast. On the 28th he seemed so much better to some of the medical men, that they were about to quiet the anxiety in England by sending a message to that effect by telegraph; but Dr. Prendergast was doubtful, and a dubious message was sent. In the afternoon the Field Marshal became visibly worse, but it was not supposed that death was so near him. At four o'clock the truth burst upon all - he was dying. His staff, his nephew, Colonel Somerset, General Simpson, General Airey, and Colonel Lord George Paget gathered round his bed, and the principal chaplain came, and read and prayed. Gradually, quietly, in a holy calm, that noble spirit ebbed away, so peacefully that it was scarcely possible to tell the moment when he ceased to be. At five-and-twenty minutes to nine in the evening of the 28th of June, an end had come to the earthly career of the British Commander-in-chief. He died in his bed, but he died, like a knight of old, with his harness on.

The army was astonished and afflicted when the news flew from lip to lip that Lord Raglan lay dead in the little house at the head of the South Ravine. Not only the British generals went up to gaze upon his countenance, which still retained that expression of serenity and firmness they had seen alike in the heat of battle and in the calm intercourse of every-day life; the French generals also, the Turkish commander, the leader of the Italian army, and the admirals, arrived to look upon that image of a noble man. "It was a touching sight," writes one present at those scenes, " to see these old warriors, who had so often looked death in the face unmoved, shedding tears over the body of our late beloved commander. General Pélissier stood by the bedside for upwards of an hour, crying like a child. General Canrobert also testified the most profound grief on seeing the remains of him for whom he entertains a sincere affection." Canrobert remembered that Lord Raglan had visited him at his hut on the Tchernaya, when, from being commander-in-chief of a French army, he had become again the leader of a division. "Ah! milord," said the gallant Frenchman on that occasion, " you are very good to me, for you visit me in adversity, and treat me in the same manner as when I was in prosperity; that is not the case with most men." Pélissier, too, had found in him a colleague with a daring and decision of character equal to his own, resting on a basis of courtesy and gentleness which, though they formed no part of the French general's nature, yet excited in him profound esteem and admiration.

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