For the remainder of the month the trying labour of getting close to the Malakoff and Little Redan went on in the usual way. The French laboured most assiduously, not only in strengthening their parallels in this quarter but in providing spaces, as large as they could contrive to make them, to contain the troops destined for the assault, which could not be much longer delayed. They had reached the living rock in front of the Little Redan, just as we had reached it in front of the Great Redan; and the fire maintained against the head of the sap at both points absolutely forbad much further progress through such ground. On the French extreme right the Careening Bay stopped all further advance. The works here were so belaboured by the guns on the north side, and by the guns in the northern face of the Malakoff, that they were called by the French Vabbatoir, or slaughter-house, so fearful were the daily losses. The British left attack was stopped by the precipice which led into the Woronzoff and South Ravines. The French left attack was as close to the enemy's line as it could be pushed; the nearest trenches being a few yards from the Flagstaff and Central Bastions, the Quarantine Ravine forming an effectual barrier to any nearer approach from the Cemetery. This was the state of affairs at the end of August. The Russians were making good use of their great bridge over the harbour, and were beginning another. Their war-steamers and some two or three sailing ships were still afloat. As if they were conscious that the first line must soon fall, yet resolute to defend the place to the last, they were beginning a new interior line behind the outer line of defences, and arming it with the guns of the forts. But beyond these signs of yielding there were none other. The frowning earthworks, much battered and defaced, were still able to use their guns, and the occasional bright and heavy fire of musketry maintained by night from the parapets showed that the garrison was as devoted as ever. But the service was a terrible one. Whenever it was known that the Russian lines at any point were full of men, whenever they displayed their strength, then the heavy mortars in our batteries were heard, and the screaming shells were seen soaring upwards to descend surely into the Russian batteries. At these times the enemy's troops nestled close to traverse and parapet, or sought the securer shelter of the deep bomb-proof stifling caves dug in the immediate rear of the ramparts, or excavated in the very centre of the work. The interior of the Russian batteries was like a rabbit warren.
But the crisis of the long siege had now come. Neither side could bear much longer the horrible losses inflicted by this deadly strife. The Russians might endure, hoping against hope, to hold out until the winter once more became their keen ally; but the French and English felt that they must risk an assault or raise the siege.