OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

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

Pages: 1 2 3 <4> 5

It was determined to send home the remains of Lord Raglan, that his ashes might rest with his fathers. The body was placed in coffins of lead and iron, and these were enclosed in a wooden shell. The 3rd of July was fixed on for the embarkation of the corpse on board the Caradoc; and the scene then presented was one of the most splendid as well as most touching. In the afternoon of that day there stood, extending from the British head-quarters to Kazatch, a double line of infantry. Every British regiment in the Crimea sent fifty men and three officers, and the red-coats extended a mile over the plateau. At the French head-quarters the French troops took up the line. They were men of the Imperial Guard and the 1st Corps, and they stretched away to Kazatch Bay. Before Lord Raglan 's house stood a nine-pounder gun, drawn by eight bay horses, and bearing a platform for the coffin. The Grenadier Guards, forming the guard of honour, were drawn up in the court-yard, which was crowded with officers of the four armies, in full uniform. When the body was brought out the Grenadiers saluted, and as the procession began to move, and the gun bearing the dead soldier left the garden and wheeled into the plateau, two batteries of artillery fired a salute of nineteen guns, and the united bands of three regiments played the "Dead March" from Saul. Escorted by cavalry from each army, and by French and English artillery, between the ranks of British soldiers, between brilliant Zouaves and solemn-looking Imperial Guardsmen, and the less striking regiments of the French line, drawing forth at intervals salutes from French field- guns, and waking up here and there strains of pathetic music, the sad procession wound over the dusty plains. At the wheels of the gun-carriage and limber rode General Simpson, General Pélissier, General La Marmora, and Omer Pasha. Over the coffin was the British flag, and on the flag a wreath of immortelles, placed there by the French general. Behind the coffin was led the favourite charger of the departed warrior; then came the relatives and personal staff of the Field Marshal, and after these hundreds of officers from all the allied armies. " When at sunset we reached Kazatch," writes Colonel Hamley, " the water of the harbour was almost hidden by the number of boats thronged with seamen in their white frocks, whose uplifted oars looked like a grove." Admiral Bruat and Admiral Houston Stewart (grief kept away Sir Edmund Lyons) received charge of the coffin. " At the end of one of the wooden piers a crane had been erected, under which the gun-carriage was drawn; bareheaded sailors slung the coffin to the crane, hoisted it, and lowered it into the launch of the Royal Albert, destined to take it to the Caradoc, the steamer in which Lord Raglan had come from England, and which was now to take home his remains. A parting salute was fired as the boat left the pier, and we had seen the last of our kind and gallant old chief." The Caradoc then steamed away, with the touching signal " Farewell! " flying at her masthead. She arrived at Bristol on the 24th of July, and landed her sad burden, which was conveyed through a town in mourning to Badminton; and there, on the 26th, in a quiet village church, surrounded by a group of living comrades, who had fought beside him under the Great Duke more than half a century before, the remains of Lord Raglan found their last resting-place.

In the language of Lord Panmure to General Simpson, the country had been deprived of a brave and accomplished soldier, and a true and devoted patriot. The Queen heard of Lord Raglan 's death with the deepest sorrow, and deplored with the troops the great misfortune which had befallen her and them. The French commander-in-chief issued a " general order," expressed with striking felicity, and stamped with sincerity. " Death," it said, " has suddenly taken away, while in full exercise of his command, Field Marshal Lord Raglan , and has plunged the British in mourning. We all share the regret of our brave allies. Those who knew Lord Raglan , who know the history of his life - so noble, so pure, so replete with service rendered to his country - those who witnessed his fearless demeanour at Alma and Inkermann, who recall the calm and stoic greatness of his character throughout this rude and memorable campaign - every generous heart, indeed, will deplore the loss of such a man. The sentiments here expressed by the General-in-Chief are those of the whole army. He has himself been cruelly struck by this unlooked-for blow. The public grief only increases his sorrow at being for ever separated from a companion in arms whose genial spirit he loved, whose virtues he admired, and from whom he has always received the most loyal and hearty co-operation." General La Marmora, in his order, did not fail to note among other things, " the exemplary constancy with which, together with his army, Lord Raglan endured the hard trials and privations of a winter campaign." Some day, no doubt, the fact will be recognised, that this sturdy constancy of the British chief and of the British troops was, after the battle of Inkermann, the most solid and noble service rendered by both in the Crimea. In the British Parliament, on the very day when the Caradoc received his remains, members of both Houses and all parties, save the Peace party, concurred in speaking his eulogy; and the House of Commons agreed to resolutions conferring £1,000 a year upon Lady Raglan , and £2,000 a year upon Richard Henry Somerset, who succeeded to the title - resolutions which subsequently were embodied in an Act of Parliament. The first Lord Raglan had served his country for half a century, yet he died poor.

Lord Raglan was a happy specimen of the finer kind of British officers. Born in 1788, he entered the army in 1804, and served for some time with the 4th Dragoons. Thence he exchanged into the 43rd Foot, a regiment afterwards destined to win so many laurels in the Old Light Division. It was the good fortune of Lord Raglan , then Lord Fitzroy Somerset, to be appointed to the staff of Sir Arthur Wellesley, when he was selected for a command in the Peninsula. It was the further good fortune of Lord Fitzroy never to quit his great master from that time forward. Wellesley was nineteen years older than his youthful secretary, but he saw in the young man those qualities which make up a firm friend and a good soldier, and he kept him near him always thenceforth. The young scion of the house of Somerset had not only the daring natural to the strain of which he came: he was also polished and courteous, and considerate for the feelings of others. It was his to lead, not to drive men. He worked not on their fears, but their better feelings. No man could approach him with a grievance, and go away without a kind word. His chief was just, but somewhat hard, abrupt, and rough. Lord Fitzroy was also just, but he was never hard. It was his business in the Peninsula, "and he made it his business, to keep up a close communication between the battalion chiefs and head-quarters. He knew them all and what they were worth, and, working on their higher passions and instincts, himself an example of all that is noble in a soldier, he fostered in them a zeal for their profession, and they were stimulated by a consciousness that when they did their duty the knowledge thereof found its way to head-quarters and was appreciated." Assiduous, indefatigable himself, he knew how to elicit similar qualities in others. Then he was a forward soldier in the field as well as an untiring worker at the desk. His coolness and courage were as conspicuous as his gracious bearing. His serenity and self-possession were contagious, and, as was said of him at a later period, men went to him perturbed and came away calm.

Throughout the Peninsular war, he was the trusted friend and confidant of his chief, and more than once he shone forth brilliantly among a crowd of brilliant men. When Phillipon, the dauntless governor of Badajoz, found that all was lost, he retired into San Christoval, one of the outworks. The next morning he " surrendered on the summons of Lord Fitzroy Somerset," writes Napier, "for that officer had with great readiness pushed through the town to the drawbridge ere the French had time to organise further resistance." Once more we catch a glimpse of Lord Fitzroy. When, in July, 1813, Soult made his brilliant irruption through the Pyrenees to raise the blockade of Pampeluna and the siege of San Sebastian, Wellington was tasked to the uttermost to counteract and check his formidable opponent. He had to draw his forces together in some position where they could fight and stem the torrent of French soldiers, directed with great skill by Soult upon Pampeluna. He was himself on his way from San Sebastian, which had just resisted an assault, when he heard of the movements of his rival, and Soult, thrusting back Cole and Picton, had actually pressed up close to Pampeluna ere Wellington's soldiers had got fairly into line at Sauroren. " While Soult was thus forming his line of battle, Wellington, who had quitted Hill's quarters in the Bastan early on the 27th, was descending the valley of Lanz, unable to learn anything of Picton's movements or position; and in this state of uncertainty he reached Ostiz, a few miles from Sauroren, where he found Long with the light cavalry which had furnished the posts of correspondence in the mountains. There, learning that Picton had abandoned Linzoain, and was moving on Huarte [near Pampeluna], he left his Quartermaster- General with instructions to stop all the troops coming down the valley of Lanz until the state of affairs at Huarte should be ascertained. But at racing speed he made for Sauroren himself, and entering that village, saw Clausel coming along the crest of the mountain, and knew the allied troops in the valley of Lanz were intercepted. Pulling up his horse, he wrote on the parapet of the bridge of Sauroren fresh instructions to turn everything from that valley on to a road which, through Lizasso and Maraclain, led behind the hills to Oricain, in rear of Cole's position. Lord Fitzroy Somerset, the only staff officer who had kept up with him, galloped with these orders out of Sauroren by one road, the French light cavalry dashed in by another, and the English general rode alone up the mountain to reach his troops." Such was the secretary of Wellington in the Peninsula. Prompt, active, tireless, always gracious and kind, and as serene in the fiercest moment of military life as he was in the quiet of cantonments.

It was in those six years of varied warfare, living with one of its greatest masters, that he studied the art; and it is impossible that so keen a soldier should have seen so much of the art of war at its very source - should have been so thoroughly cognisant of its difficulties and its secrets, without coming out of the fiery school imbued with its soundest principles. In 1855, ignorant and presumptuous critics were heard to utter the ready sneer that we seemed never to get beyond the Peninsula. They were not aware how difficult it would be even now to do so. The principles of warfare are as fixed and unchangeable as their application is capable of almost indefinite extension. Hannibal and Cesar may have been equalled as masters, but they have never been surpassed. Wellington and Napoleon belonged to the same rank as these antique captains, and worked on the same principles. Napoleon founded himself upon a study of Csesar and Hannibal, of Marlborough and Frederick II. Except in the camp of Napoleon himself, there could be no school of war equal to that of Wellington in the Peninsula. That was the school of Lord Raglan. It is quite true that he never held a command, but it has yet to be shown that a quick officer on the staff, zealous, apt, and energetic, may not be as well placed to learn war in his youth as one who climbs up to command by the steep stair-way of regimental service. When the long sighed-for peace of Europe was broken by Napoleon in 1815, Lord Fitzroy joined the Duke of Wellington in Belgium, and lost an arm in the crowning victory of Waterloo. And so, throughout the long peace which succeeded that climax of a quarter of a century of war, wherever the Duke was, there near him was Lord Fitzroy - at Paris, at Vienna, Verona, St. Petersburg, at the Horse Guards - until death came and took the great soldier from us in the autumn of 1852.

When the two Emperors quarrelled, and England, being forced into the quarrel, resolved to send an army to Turkey, Lord Raglan was selected as the fittest for the arduous work in prospect. There was no man who, with so large an experience of rough and difficult campaigns, had so dignified a presence, manners so captivating, a knowledge of the French so profound, and the art of being firm without being repulsive. And these accomplishments, usually held to be more appropriate to diplomacy than warfare, were needed on this occasion; for Lord Raglan went to the East to share a divided command. He went to be one of a trio of generals, all equals, or supposed to be so, and these three had to carry on war against one, and that one the Emperor of all the Russias.

There are few tasks more difficult than that which was entrusted to the English commander. Lord Raglan conducted himself so discreetly and frankly, that he successively won the confidence and esteem of three Frenchmen so diverse, and yet so French, as St. Arnaud, Canrobert, and Pélissier. He had his failings and his prejudices, like other men, but no man who came in contact with him went away without having fallen under the spell of his high nature; and his bitterest enemies and most reckless assailants would, no doubt, have been the first to do him justice, had they been brought even into distant relations with him. It was want of knowledge of the man which made them speak so bitterly of what they called his hauteur, his apathy, his prejudices.

It was literally ignorance of his conduct which gave rise to the calumny that he kept apart from the army, saw nothing and cared nothing for the troops. "When he was said to be " invisible," he was out every day in the camp. Within two months he rode and walked forty-six times through the lines; and on the night of the great storm, while others were cowering under such shelter as was to be had, Lord Raglan was himself carrying much-needed comforts to the sick wife of a soldier. The moral splendour of the tenacity with which, scantily provided with men and means, he held on to the plateau through that terrible winter, was hidden by the tempest of accusations raised against him. He was always treated as if he were the Bole commander of the allied force, and he had to bear the burden of acts for which he was only in part responsible. It is to the lasting discredit of some that they wished to put upon him a Parliamentary censure without hearing from him one word in his own defence. Had he not been a man of the noblest mould, he never could have borne, without resentment, all that he had to bear.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 <4> 5

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

General La Marmora
General La Marmora >>>>
Waiting for the signal to advance
Waiting for the signal to advance >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About