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The Times 4.2.1875 p 7

REVIEW


THE INVASION OF THE CRIMEA*

THIRD NOTICE

(Continued from The Times of Feb. 1.)

The “Second Period” of Mr Kinglake’s Battle of Inkerman begins at 7.30 am and ends at 8,30 am, and 138 pages are devoted to the narrative of what occurred in that hour. If we were to estimate the pressure of the next phase of the conflict by the results of the previous combat, we might consider the task of the English less arduous, and, by the simple application of the Rule of Three sum, arrive at the conclusion that if 3,700 British foot and 18 guns had driven off the field upwards of 15,000 Russian infantry, supported by 38 guns, 4,700 British foot and 36 guns, reinforced by 1,000 French foot, would be able to make an example of the 10,000 fresh troops Dannenburg was launching against them, although the number of Russian guns was increased to 90. These 10,000 Russians seem, however, to have been made of tougher material than their fellows. They belonged to Pauloff’s corps, and they were supported by the 9,000 men of Soimonoff’s 16 reserve battalions which had not as yet been engaged. We have seen that no serious impression had been made by the attack of Soimonoff on their left, and the Russians probably found that the guns in the trenches in that direction could take too potent a part in the proceedings to make it pleasant ground to fight over. But though the English had not lost many in killed and wounded hitherto, they had “wasted” considerably. Pennefather’s organized bodies of infantry at the close of the “First Period” are put by Mr Kinglake at only 1,400 men, the rest, less the killed and wounded, being called “spent forces,” men disengaged from command and unable to take their share in the fight, and described “as a medley” from various regiments, which gathered between the camp and the Ridge, beyond which raged the battle. Now it was that the Sandbag Battery became the object of such savage and, as Mr Kinglake will have it, sterile fighting. First it was occupied by the enemy, who were driven out of it by Adams and the 41st. Next it was taken by the Russians, who overwhelmed Adams, and forced him back with great loss. This Mr Kinglake calls the third capture, though it can scarcely be said in strictness that on the first occasion there was such a resistance to the enemy’s occupation of the battery as to deserve the name of a fight, for there was only a sergeant with six English in the work. The Duke of Cambridge next led two battalions of the Guards over the brow of the hill, and the Grenadiers, in a dashing charge, drove out the enemy at the point of the bayonet. But the Russians were resolute, and although the dense oak scrub clothing the steep hillside up which they had to force their way broke their ranks, it offered facilities for escaping from fire, and the dip of the ground below the Sandbag Battery was so sheer that they could rally almost immediately with comparative impunity. The Scots Fusiliers and the Grenadiers had to resist repeated attacks from the north and from the east, and the Grenadiers, having come to the last of their cartridges, left the work, which was entered with triumphant hurrahs by the Russians. The fifth capture was effected by the Scots Fusilier Guards, who were, however, obliged to relinquish it, together with the Grenadiers, and retire to higher ground. For the sixth time the work changed owners, and the Russians, with exulting cheers, pressed up in swarming thousands till they got within a few yards of the “knotted line” of a few hundred Guardsmen, who plied them with musketry as long as they could find cartridges; but the combatants on both sides were short of ammunition. Then what our author calls “the Homeric resource” of hurling loose pieces of rock against each other was resorted to by the opposing forces. The seventh capture is thus described:—

“All at once, men who chanced to look southward saw a new line of Bearskins fast cropping up over the brushwood. In a moment, many knew that the Coldstream was near. Far from resting content (as less fiery troops might have done) to await the support thus approaching, the Grenadiers were seized with desire to recapture the work before the Coldstream could come up. Colonel Henry Percy, observing that the enemy’s masses were writhing under the fire they had met, ran forward in front of his men, as also did Colonel Charles Lindsay; and, the right flank company under Captain Burnaby breaking out to the front with a cry of ‘Charge again, Grenadiers!’ the battalion uttered its will in a burst of hurrahs, sprang forward with bayonets down, and drove straight at the hapless crowd of soldiery who, instead of attacking, had submitted to be attacked where they stood, with the parapet of the Battery in their rear. They broke and fled; but this was not all that resulted, for the enemy’s forces on the north front, bending under the force put upon them by the Scots Fusiliers, were involved in the common overthrow. Of the men falling back into the gorge of the Battery very many were obstructed in their flight by its parapet; and, some of these standing at bay, it was not without hand-to-hand fighting and slaughter that the Grenadiers put down all resistance and resumed their hold of the work. Our men were not in so orderly a state that at the will of a commander they could be brought back from the false position of the reconquered battery to better ground in its rear; but, for the present, at least, their officers were able once more to withhold them from a ruinous pursuit down the steeps; and the enemy, understanding the impunity this conceded to him, soon stayed his flight. His retreating masses dropped no further down the hillside than was needed for the attainment of shelter, and the ground close outside the battery, if ever abandoned at all, was quickly repeopled by troops crowding under its parapet. Soon again, as had happened before, there were Russians firing into the work through its two embrasures or over the parts of the parapet which sloped away low at each flank. Before long, there came venturesome men, who not only climbed up the parapet, but stood for a while on its top overlooking our people below, and beginning to fire down upon them. Colonel Percy, not brooking the sight of this trespass, clambered up from his side of the parapet in order to drive off the intruders, but was himself thrown down backwards by the weight of a stone heaved against him while turning to give an order; and when, in spite of his hurt, he again climbed the parapet, he was so heavily struck on the brow by a fragment of rock from the hand of some Russian Ajax that again, as before, he fell down backwards, and this time the blow laid him senseless.”

The Russians got into the Sandbag Battery again. They were driven out by the Grenadiers, aided by the 20th and 95th, and then there was an ill-advised but gallant charge with the bayonet, which led to a great deal of fighting, and which leads to an immense deal of description on Mr Kinglake’s part of what he calls “A False Victory” and the rout of the left wing of the Russian army. “False” indeed! For the Russians, sweeping onwards, not only got into the Sandbag Battery again, but cut off the fractional detachments of English soldiery from the plateau and nearly captured the colours of the Grenadiers and the Duke of Cambridge himself, who was with Major Macdonald in the thick of the fray. For what Mr Kinglake supposes to have happened then we must refer the reader to the book, and if he has robust faith and can believe that all the precise accounts therein given of that most “heady fight” are of perfect coherence and authenticity, we can only say he has very agreeable and exciting reading before him. But we must, in the interest of history, make one remark respecting the episodes the author thinks fit to introduce. Without the slightest intention to disparage Colonel Burnaby and his gallant soldiers of the 3d Battalion of Grenadier Guards, we may point out that if Sir C Russell or any captain of any Guards Battalion engaged at the Sandbag Battery, or if any officer of the 20th, 95th, or Rifle Brigade, had done as Colonel Burnaby, and written a narrative of what he and his immediate followers did, and added the rude personal experiences of his non-commissioned officers and men, it is probable, to say the least of it, that there would be instances of courage as conspicuous, fighting as hard, and escapes as remarkable to be dealt with as those which, taken from the brochure in question, fill several pages of Mr Kinglake’s book. But would that be history? Would it teach anything? We think not. When the Guards, broken up and falling back in desperate straits, were abandoning that for which so many of them had laid down their lives, the position of the English right looked gloomy indeed. They had lost all formation and order. Coldstream, Fusiliers, Grenadiers, and men of the different regiments which had been sent to their aid were all mixed up together. The Russians occupied the Sandbag Battery, and were pressing up the slopes on each side of it towards the edge of the plateau, where they would probably have been able to deploy and threaten the rear of the English. Not only were they in the battery, not only had they cut off many of the Guards, but they were rushing straight on after the colours when they were checked by the French, who saved the colours and allowed the Guards to pass through their ranks as they advanced against the retreating Russians. The historian gives himself one dose of comfort in his tribulation, and swears boldly that it was “Captain Armstrong, an able young officer accustomed to wield authority,” who adjured the faltering Frenchmen to advance and induced them to make the eighth and final capture of the Sandbag Battery, which was not again attacked by the enemy, and was subsequently left unoccupied.

As regards the part in the battle which our Allies now played, there are wide differences of opinion between Mr Kinglake and others who have written of it. There is no dispute about one point. At the very first sound of musketry, Bosquet, who had been always apprehensive of an attack where it actually was about to be made, turned out his corps to watch the Russians under Liprandi (over whom Prince Gortschakoff was now placed), in the valley, and, having speedily satisfied himself as to their object, moved about 2,000 men and 16 guns towards the Second Division, and, galloping on with his Staff to the British Camp, met, in what Mr Kinglake calls an “unfortunate encounter,” Sir G Brown and Sir G Cathcart, to whom he said that these troops were coming up and would be followed by others. These officers declined his proffered aid very much as if they were “two superb sergeants or privates who had found themselves asked to acknowledge that the English wanted help from a Frenchman.” But his help was soon needed. Lord Raglan sent to ask for it, and so did others of our hard-pressed Generals. The two battalions Bosquet despatched to the field had no very edifying or encouraging spectacle when they came to the English camp. They found there Mr Kinglake’s “spent forces” — in other words, a medley of men who were unfit to fight — “a populace” who at first cheered them, and then, if we understand his words, covered them with coarse abuse. Still, it was one battalion of these French troops which saved the Guards’ colours and retook the Sandbag Battery from the Russians. This was the 6th of the Line.

In the narrative of Colonel Burnaby, from which the author extracts so much information, the men who give a clear account of the way in which they escaped when they were cut off, and of the mode in which the colours were got away, speak of the agency of these allies as their salvation. Sergeant Minor says, “The French came up and drove the enemy back.” Private Bancroft says, “We should have been lost had not the French regiments come up.” Private Archer says, “The French had come up.” Private Troy says, “We were all about being taken prisoners, when suddenly the French came up.”

The Battalion of the 7th Léger, which De Bazancourt makes so much of, does not shine with lustre in Kinglake. The Russians, having surprised and overwhelmed a party of the 55th, under Warren, and forced Turner’s unsupported guns, against “the case” of which they advanced gallantly, to retire, were confronted by this young French battalion. They both halted. The French battalion visibly faltered. There was a low murmur in their ranks. “The murmur, perhaps, meant no more than a protest against fighting in line”! An English Staff officer, in an oration in their own tongue, in which he asked “if they were indeed of that nation which had so nobly contended with ours in the Peninsula,” urged the French to advance, but it would not do. They retreated — indeed, the impression conveyed is that they ran away right into the English camp, and were not stayed in their flight by another British officer, who took a French officer by the collar, and whose remonstrance was met by the exclamation, “Mais, Monsieur, voilà les Russes!” Now, Colonel Calthorpe, though he had the Head-Quarters feeling towards the Allies pretty strongly developed, gives rather a different account. He says the French advanced in good order in line four deep, but

“The moment they reached the crest of the hill they came under the direct fire of the Russian guns and lost in the first minute a number of men. This threw them partially into confusion; they were seized with a panic, and the large majority retired down the hill, in spite of the bugles sounding and the drums beating the pas de charge. The French officers, under these trying circumstances, behaved remarkably well, begged, entreated, and swore at their men, to induce them to return; but for the moment it was of no avail: they did not run far, as a short distance back they were formed again by their officers, and led up into action. This time, however (if I recollect right), they were in columns of companies, instead of a line four deep as before. On regaining once more the crest of the hill they were received by a most murderous discharge from the enemy’s artillery, and, for a second, there appeared to be some wavering in the ranks, when two English Staff officers went in front of them, and, taking off their caps, cheered them on into action. Our allies, when once face to face with the enemy, seemed to recover their steadiness, and remained, giving their support to our troops, and fighting with them, until the Russians retreated.”

The General who proffered his aid so early and was so snubbed for it falls under Mr Kinglake’s lash when he does come on the scene of action, which he did, by the by, sooner than from this history would appear to be the case. “Hankering after flank movements,” Bosquet, who is supposed “apparently” not to know the ground, “apparently” did not suffer himself to be disquieted, because he imagined his left flank in the position he took up was covered by English troops; but to prove that Bosquet was not quite such a fool as our author would make him out, he had not well drawn up his men before the Russians, issuing out of the Quarry Ravine, swarmed up his left front, captured one of his guns, and at the same time executed a turning movement against his right rear. Suppose that Bosquet had not posted his troops in the position which Mr Kinglake covers with such obloquy, the Russian columns which engaged him would have come on without any obstruction to the rear of the English, for they were driving the 20th, under Colonel Horn, before them. “A Chinese metaphysician” might be amused at the contrast between the French as drawn by Kinglake and the French as drawn by themselves. We fear he might conclude that we had a Bazancourt too. Where Kinglake represents Bosquet quite bowed down by the weight of care and cheered by Lord Raglan, we are told by Bazancourt that it was Milord who was anxious. “Je crois,” he says, according to the Frenchman, “que nous sommes très malades.” The gay riposte of Canrobert, according to the same authority, is, “Pas trop, cependant, milord, il faut l’espérer!” What says Mr Kinglake?

“General Canrobert had been struck in the arm by a shrapnel, but happily without being disabled, and before long he was conversing once more with Lord Raglan. No two men could be easily found more unlike one another in temperament than the French and English commanders, now again side by side on Home Ridge — the one consumed by anxiety, the other enshrouded by some mysterious quality of his nature which seemed to keep troubles aloof from him. Not unwilling, perhaps, to do something which might divert General Canrobert from his anxious thoughts, Lord Raglan chose this time for directing an aide-de-camp to learn how it fared with General Pennefather on the part of the Ridge where he was , and to find out, besides, whether all was still well on the left. Captain Somerset Calthorpe — the aide-de-camp despatched on this mission — has never ceased to remember the joyous glow of Pennefather’s countenance while giving and enforcing his answer. The answer imported that all was going on well, but Pennefather added that at that very time he saw an opportunity opening, and that, if reinforced, he felt sure he could bring the fight to an end. He had declared that he did not adorn his actual message to Lord Raglan with any rough expletives, but to the aide-de-camp he spoke, as was natural, in a free, conversational way. So, when Calthorpe came back into the presence of Lord Raglan and Canrobert, he conveyed the full import of the answer meant for Lord Raglan, and added, besides, the assurance which Pennefather had addressed to himself — an assurance that if he, General Pennefather, were now reinforced, he could end this fight with the Russians, and ‘lick them,’ as he said, ‘to the devil.’ Lord Raglan archly rendered all this into literal French, and Canrobert, enchanted, cried out,— ‘What a brave fellow! what a brave man! what a good General!’”

There are several “perhaps” in this, but no one will deny that it is a very pleasant piece of writing.

One more quotation and we have done with this point. There was a great trunk column of Russians before whom a French battalion was running away in spite of the efforts of Pennefather and a knot of English officers in a violently excited condition and the Russians were pressing on with triumphant hurrahs, when all at once the enemy’s column stopped dead. Why? Because Colonel Daubeney, with 30 men (just thirty) of the 55th, delivered what the author calls a singular charge:—

“Daubeney sprang at its flank with the thirty men he was leading: and along with his people he not only wedged himself in between the 2d and 3d companies of the riven battalion, but tore his way on and on into the centre of the mass. There, at one time, the assailants and the assailed stood so densely locked together that their power to hurt one another was, during some instants, suspended. With one Russian officer thus pinioned as he was himself by the weight of the crowd, Colonel Daubeney exchanged a smiling acknowledgement of the duress suffered by each. But at length the men worked their way on. Some were wounded, some slain, and some — one or two — taken prisoners; but the rest of them still held their course, still went on forcing their way betwixt the howling ranks of the enemy; and this singular charge did not end until Daubeney with the remains of his ‘thirty’ had cleft a path through the battalion from flank to flank, and come out at last into open air on the east of the great trunk column.”

Whenever there is occasion to speak of a brave Frenchman — an exceptional person in these pages — he is ludicrous, like the fat officer whose gallantry is grotesque, or he is under English inspiration, like a wandering body of 60 disorderly Zouaves under the Captain “Heaven-sent,” which we are almost inclined to think the historian invented as a foil to the general poltroonery of the French — and, indeed, he “slyly” insinuates that the courage of these Zouaves was due to the presence of a Briton in their ranks. We need not argue seriously against this monomania; for it is nothing else. There is no necessity for us to follow Mr Kinglake through the extraordinary variety of ways in which he allows his craze to pervert his judgment and distort his views. The despatches of the British Generals bear the best testimony to the conduct of our Allies, and if the French faltered, as it is said they did at first, it must be admitted that they did yeoman’s service before the day was over. Contemporary evidence is full of praise and gratitude for their aid. In our number of November 27, 1854, there is a letter from an officer of Turner’s Battery, in which there is this passage:—

“The Russians are within 150 yards of the guns. Our infantry has retired behind us. Two rounds of case are fired into them, but the gaps are filled up. We are obliged to limber up and retire. Now is the critical moment. The Russians are at the top of the hill, within 100 yards of the tents of our infantry, when up come our gallant allies, the French! ‘En avant!’ This was about half past 9 am. The French troops are quite fresh. They charge the enemy and drive them over the ridge.”

Hamley and others write in the warmest terms of their artillery, and the Chasseurs d’Afrique, whom Mr Kinglake covers with opprobrium, were the very men who charged on the left of our Light Brigade so gallantly at Balaclava, and gave us such essential assistance.

But enough and too much of this ungracious business. The vehemence of the Russian attack, whatever Mr Kinglake may say, passed after the British had received French reinforcements. General Dannenburg says distinctly in his report that the Irkoutsk Regiment, which had gained a success and taken some guns, was repulsed by French troops, and mentions the fresh troops brought up by the French as mainly influencing the fate of the day in obliging him to retreat.

It is generally understood that the battle was over about 1 o’clock or a little earlier, but our historian’s “6th Period,” from 11 am to 1 pm, is followed by a “7th Period,” from 1 pm to 8 pm, in which our allies receive a tremendous chastisement (from Mr Kinglake). They would not and we could not move; but Haines, it seems, threw forward a few scores of Riflemen, and Lieutenant Acton, with some 50 or 60 of the 77th, advanced against a battery still on Shell-hill and forced it to retreat. The movement was pressed by Armstrong and Horsford with 300 men, and the 18-pounders sent their shot “whanging” over their heads into the Russian guns.

“Succeeding, as it did, to a long train of ills already suffered by Dannenburg, the spectacle of this hapless battery under the mercies of the 18-pounder shot may well have inflicted upon him the final, the conquering pang which at length subdued his will. What he says himself is that he was brought to his decisive resolve — not by any mere notion that the continuance of the struggle would be fruitless — but by the actual stress of battle as felt at the moment — by the ‘murderous’ — so he expresses it — the ‘murderous fire of artillery.’ ”

The English General, though he had no desire to keep the enemy on the defensive, was eager to press their retreat, and in order to accelerate the withdrawal of their batteries from Shell-hill he ordered Dickson to cease the fire of his 18-pounders, and was “gratified by seeing the last two of the enemy’s batteries limber up and retire;” but there is certainly every reason to believe that the French General, conceiving that the action was over at this time, was remiss in pressing the enemy. But the battle was won. It was a great victory! Let us admit every virtue that the mist and pulver-dampf could confer, let us make every allowance for the happy union of conditions in our favour, the results of a fight in which less than 8,000 British infantry and the same number of French utterly routed 40,000 Russians, and with an immense superiority of artillery, still remain in all their astounding magnitude, and Mr Kinglake deserves credit for doing justice to the officers and men of the regiments of the Light and of the Second and Fourth Divisions, whose deeds have been almost eclipsed in the glare and glory of the combat of the Guards around the Sandbag Battery for their share in the battle. The Russian loss was 11,959; that of the British 2,573; that of the French 1,800; but, as a fact which bears upon the bayonet charges so frequent in this volume, we may remark that of the Russian wounded very few were touched by that weapon, and it was remarked of their dead that the vast majority were killed by rifle fire.

In arguing against the presumption that if Soimonoff had delivered his attack from the other side of the Careening Creek Ravine there would have been a different result to the day, Mr Kinglake “apparently,” to use his favourite adverb, neglects to take into account the influence which must have been exercised over the English troops in front of Pauloff’s columns. It is true that there would have been on Soimonoff’s right a portion of the trenches of the Left Attack and an isolated battery, but the effect of a strong demonstration made under the guns of the Malakhoff and adjacent works would have held back the reinforcements which were so grateful to the Second Division and to the Guards. It is obvious that Dannenburg’s plan was precisely that which would have hurt the Allies most, and that he had fair reason to consider the failure of Soimonoff the main cause of the loss of the battle. Pauloff gained “Mount” Inkerman with his 97 guns and 16,000 foot almost without a shot, and he had a right to expect that he would have found Soimonoff with 20,000 infantry and 38 guns on his right, able to take part with him in the attack on Pennefather. The command of the head of the Ravine by our men could not have been held, and once the two great columns had debouched on the plateau there would have been no “interposed chasm” at all between Pauloff and Soimonoff. Of course, some heaven-sent Captain or miraculous Subaltern with a dozen men might have cut through the Russian columns and set them all running away. Ridiculing “the diligent men of Berlin comparing numbers with maps,” who condemned “the excessive conglomeration caused by heaping 40,000 men on Mount Inkerman alone,” our author forgets his own description of the effect of artillery and rifle fire on these “gross formations,” and the distinct statements of all eyewitnesses that the Russians came on with such a confined front that their rear battalions could not deliver their fire at all.

Although Mr Kinglake discredits the idea that there was a surprise, short of the occupation of our camp none could have been more complete than that which he describes. There is distinct evidence that when the Guards, who slept in their great coats and cross belts, turned out about 6 am, the Russian shot and shell were already bounding and bursting in rear of the Second Division camp, where all was confusion — tents riddled, hospital marquees on fire; and the Russians were in the Sandbag Battery at the time the Grenadiers came in sight of it.

In the account of the circumstances under which the gallant Cathcart met his death there is an imputation on that officer in this book which it is sought to justify by reference to a matter which is, we think, made public for the first time. Before the description of the engagement there is a chapter, entitled “Sir George Cathcart and the Dormant Commission,” which incidentally reveals a defect — though our author may esteem it a merit — which bore bad fruit on previous occasions. Sir G Brown and Sir R Airey were alone consulted. De Lacy Evans, England, and Cathcart were treated as nonentities, and, except on siege matters, not much more favour was shown to Burgoyne. Sir G Cathcart held a dormant commission to succeed Lord Raglan, and, beyond those immediately interested, the fact was known only to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge; but, instead of this circumstance securing Sir G Cathcart some share in Lord Raglan’s confidence, he was so treated that on the 4th of October he wrote the following letter:—

“Camp above Sebastopol, Oct. 4, 1854.

My dear Lord Raglan, — Finding that I am not admitted to your confidence, and that Sir George Brown and M. G. Airey appear even to act in your name, without your knowledge, in the conduct and management of military details at this most serious crisis of the campaign in the Crimea; also that I have scarcely had an opportunity, except at Varna, on my landing, of an interview on business, or received a single communication, verbally or otherwise, on the subject of the state of affairs from you; considering also that the circumstances of my present position, known only to yourself, the Duke of Cambridge, and myself in this country, and to Her Majesty’s Government at home, my duty to my Sovereign demands that I should request an interview at the time most convenient to you, without delay, at your headquarters.

Your most sincere and devoted friend,
GEO. CATHCART”

“It was distressing” to Lord Raglan “to witness Brown’s touching ignorance” on the subject, and it is not at all unlikely that his Lordship’s influence had some share in the decision of the Home Government to cancel the dormant Commission; but why should Mr Kinglake infer that the grant of it had an ill effect on the temper and feelings of Cathcart, when his pleasure in resigning it was undisguised, and his conduct in reference to the transaction such that it drew warmer praise from the Commander-in-Chief than he often bestowed? Why should he with a marginal note, “the state of Cathcart’s temper in the Crimea,” go on to impute to him, in connexion with the dormant Commission, the resolution to make the attack in which he lost his life, instead of strictly obeying orders which he knew to have been issued without any knowledge on Lord Raglan’s part of the peculiar circumstances that led him to think he would achieve a signal success?

There is, indeed, in the present volume too much of “On dit” history. “Apparently,” and “men say,” and “it may be conjectured,” and “it is to be inferred,” used frequently, give us the measure of the growth of diffidence in the author’s mind as he tried to assimilate the mental nutriment with which he was furnished by his friends.

In order to account for many remarkable incidents, the quaintest hypotheses and surmises are put forth. When Hugh Clifford slaps into the flank of a column, it is “among the surmises” that the Russians fancied the one horseman represented a charge of cavalry. When the Tomsk battalions, 1,500 strong, “faltered” at the aspect of 259 men of the 77th, under Egerton, “it has been surmised that they took the line in front to represent the face of a column of equal depth.” The retreat of the two Catherinburg battalions, which had captured three of Townsend’s guns, is ascribed to the probable effect of the chase of the Tomsk battalions on their nerves.

This remark brings us to another matter connected with the conduct of the Russians at Inkerman. Their rapid way of disappearing before a few men and never again taking part in the fight has already been noticed. Another quality which they displayed seems to have been wondrous stupidity.

On the 26th of October Captain Goodlake and Sergeant Ashton are cut off by a column of 600 or 800 Russians in the Careening Creek Ravine. The Russians, close in, fire a number of shots which prove harmless.

“On the other hand, Goodlake and the Sergeant fired each of them once into the nearest clump of Russians, and then with the butt ends of their rifles knocked away the foremost of their assailants and ran down to the foot of the bank. There, however, they were in the midst of a mob of Russians advancing up the ravine. To their great surprise no one seized them, and it was evident that , owing to the gray cloaks and plain caps they both wore, the enemy was mistaking them for his own fellow-countrymen.”

As Archbishop Whately remarked when he was shown at St Kevin’s Bed a large slate on which the anchorite was reported to have crossed over from the Welsh coast to Ireland— “All I can say is, he was a very lucky fellow.” The flat caps of the Guards did not in the least resemble the muffin caps of the Russians, nor were their gray overcoats alike; but, supposing “a sudden look they did beguile,” what are we to think of soldiers who allowed the two Englishmen to move

“on unmolested in the midst of their foes; and, though strange, it is not the less true, that this singular march was continued along a distance of more than half a mile”

? (!)

When the column, “with its two interlopers,” came up to the 60 men from whom Goodlake and his Sergeant had been separated it halted, and

“Goodlake, with his trusty Sergeant, soon crossed the intervening space which divided the Russians from the English and found himself once more amongst his own people.”

The surprise of the 55th, under Warren, gives us another case of this crassness. The enemy were supposed to be English slowly retiring.

“Taken thus by surprise, the hundred men of the 55th were some of them enveloped and made prisoners and the rest driven back several paces, leaving all that part of the crestwork which had been in their charge to be held or overswept by the enemy  .  .  .  Colonel Warren, they say, would not stir in retreat till he saw his people reforming, and remained standing angry on the crest whilst the Russians flowed past him without staying to take his life.”

But they were not a whit less accommodating and kindly towards our Allies. At one time the Russians attacked an unsupported French battery and took a gun.

“At the moment when this gun was lost, General Bosquet, with his Staff, with his escort, and even with his pennon bearer, was within 50 yards of the Russians who had effected the capture, but from some unexplained cause those simple-minded soldiery rejected the opportunity of killing or taking a French General, and suffered him to ride off unmolested. The poor fellows had apparently been strongly schooled into the duty of never forgetting the respect due to a General officer, and did not at the moment comprehend that the circumstance of Bosquet’s being a hostile General might constitute an exception to the rule.”

The officers are just as stupid as their men, for when a great column finds itself in a splendid position to overwhelm Bosquet,

“One may infer that its commander was as thoroughly taken by surprise as the French General. He apparently could scarce understand that it had suddenly become possible for him to make Bosquet’s people his prisoners, or to roll them up fighting with their backs to a frightful precipice: and, whilst happily he stood losing time, the more lively intelligence of the French made them swift to acknowledge their peril and seize the best means for eluding it.”

There is an appendix, filled with French translations of the laborious “Orders of the Day” of all the General officers engaged in the great effort of the Russians; but so far as the language in which they are presented to English readers goes, — and for none other can this book be intended, — they might as well have been translated into our own tongue. The Orders of the Day were written in Russian. We are not aware that any of the English General Orders or official publications concerning the war have been translated by any of our friends or enemies. And, indeed, we may ask, “What were our orders?” and if we do we shall get no answer. There were none. That is, no General had any directions whatever for his conduct, either per se or in connexion with the Generals near him in case of attack. Our General-in-Chief knew the Russians were coming, but he never troubled the calm of his soul by any heating occupation concerning “Orders of the Day.”

We would commend to Mr Kinglake’s serious consideration the following extract from his own book:—

“On leaving the field of battle Lord Raglan went to General Pennefather to make the necessary arrangements for the better protection of our position on the right in case the Russians should attempt a renewal of the attack. It was determined that a parapet should be immediately constructed along the ridge which our troops had held throughout the day, and to effect this purpose large working parties of Turks, under the direction of some officers of the Royal Engineers, assisted by a party of Sappers and Miners, were ordered to set to work so as to complete it by the following morning.”

It is an admirable illustration of shutting the stable door after the horse has been stolen. It is a painful comment on the glorious story of the Battle of Inkerman.


* The Invasion of the Crimea: Its Origin, and an Account of its Progress down to the Death of Lord Raglan. By A W Kinglake. Vol. V.— Battle of Inkerman. William Blackwood and Sons. Edinburgh and London. 1875

(This concludes The Times’ reviews of Kinglake’s Invasion.)


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