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(1857) The Illustrated History of the War Against Russia

(1857) The Illustrated History of the War Against Russia

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1857 - Edward Henry Nolan
1857 - Edward Henry Nolan

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Published by: Herbert Hillary Booker 2nd on Sep 04, 2010
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the allied artillery engaged that of the enemy

after the retreat, and here the sight was sick-

ening indeed. There is nothing so awful as

the spectacle of the hodies of those who have

heen struck down by round-shot or shell. One

poor fellow of the 95th had been struck by
two round-shot in the head and body. A

shell afterwards burst on him and tore him to

pieces, and it was only by the fragments of

cloth, with the regimental buttons adhering,

that you could tell that the rough bloody mass

which lay in the road had ever been a human

being."

The aspect of the field after the battle was

perhaps more terrible than that of any other,

not excepting Waterloo. Many of the British
had perished of bayonet wounds, and it was

remarkable that very few seemed to have fallen

by a single thrust. The number of English or
French who had died by musket or rifle-balls
was very small, and the Erenoh fell victims to

the bayonet in a smaller proportion than their

allies. The artillery, however, made sad havoc

of both—taking off heads, cutting bodies nearly

in two ; some had a leg carried completely

away, others had an arm, and some both legs

or both arms, or legs and arms together. The

most heart-chiUing sights of mutilation were

presented where the Russian shells fell, or the

round and case-shut tore through the thin line

of the English or advancing columns of the

Prench. Where the Guards had been compelled

to retire from the defence of the wall above

the Inkerman Valley, the British had suffered

terribly:—"Across the path, side by side, lay

five guardsmen, all killed by one round-shot.
They lay on their faces in the same attitude,

with their muskets tightly grasped in both

hands, and all had the same grim, painful

frown upon their faces, like men who were

struck down in the act of closing with their

foes. Beyond this, the Russians, guardsmen,

and line regiments, lay thick as leaves, inter-
mixed with dead and wounded horses. The

latter, with fractured limbs, were now and

then rising, and after staggering a few steps,

rolling over among the corpses, snorting and

plunging fearfully." Erom the wall just
named to the two-gun battery through the

brushwood, the trampled track was slippery

with blood. Erom the battery the sight was

such as no pen, however graphic, could describe,

and no mind, however familiar with fields of

carnage, could conceive. More than 2000 dead

bodies were stretched in their gore, and stiffen-

ing in the cold night air, around the parapets

of that contested earthwork. The wounded

were also numerous, and their groans were

pitiful in the ears of those who offered their

assistance, which for many came, alas ! too late,

The cries of the wounded horses were pain-

fully expressive of suffering ; and for hours

during that dreadful night of woe and vic-

tory, above all sounds, the wailing of a faith-

ful dog—which had followed its master's

fortunes in march, by bivouac, and through

the tide of battle—arose ; crouching by the

prostrate form of its master, or standing up-

right over him, the animal raised its head, and

pierced the night with its lamentations. It was

horrible to witness the contortions and writh-

ings of those, who, dying of punctured wounds,

were frightfully convulsed. All these sights

could be witnessed, for the moon rose resplen-

dently over the valley ofInkerman, and from the

English heights the opposite heights could be

distinctly seen, and the slopes far down into

the vale, and the Tchernaya, reflecting the

silver moonlight, gliding peacefully between

the over-frowning hiUs. The slopes of Inker-
man .sparkled with the scattered weapons,
which flung around, by reflection, the strong

moonlight. Every sound, as well as every

sight, appealed with distinctness to its appro-

priate sense. So serene and still was the

evening, that the gurgling in the throat of

the dying, and the faint moans of those ex-

hausted by loss of blood, smote the ear with

painful perspicacity. Some of the dying

seemed to forget their own condition, and to

think only of the loved ones far away; their

last words were the dear names of those who

fostered their childhood, whose parting tokens,

blood-stained, were now clasped to their breast.

'

A poor Irish youth, a mere boy, called, in
the rich and sorrowful tone so peculiar to his

native land, upon his mother ; and up through

the listening night the pitiful words cams from

his lips, faintly and still more faintly, "

My

mother—oh, my mother!" until his spirit

passed from the scene of strife and anguish.

Another soldier, also an Irishman, articulated

with a singular distinctness, as if his very soul

spoke, while a comrade bent over him, "

Mary

shall I see you no more, Mary!" Whether

thiswas to wife, or sister, or love, his dyingheart

was true to her, and uttering the fond name,

his lips ceased to speak for ever. A tall

guardsman called aloud upon his father, until

the bearers of the wounded, attracted by his

cries, carried him off the field. Some of the

prostrate lost reason, and seemed as if they had

a preternatural strength, although the injuries

they had received prevented their rising; they

called out to charge the Russians, challenged

comrades to come on, vowed dreadful vengeance,

shouted wild hurrahs, and recounted, incohe-

rently, the events that had befallen themselves

or others during the hour of carnage. One

sergeant swore by St. Patrick he had only

killed four, and seemed in his frenzied or

bewildered state bitterly to accuse himself of

such remissness. Many of the wounded lay

calmly and quietly awaiting help, or resigned

Chap. XLY.]

HISTOEY OE THE WAR AGAINST EUSSIA.

609

to the will of heaven, and some less severely-

stricken than their fellows, soothed them with

words of hope, placing their heads or persons in

less painful attitudes. "Keep up a good heart,

Peter," said one poor fellow as he adjusted

the head of another upon a shako that was

near, " keep up a good heart, Peter ; we'll see

the old people at home yet, and Peggy will be

waitin' for you, you know." The accounts given

by gentlemen, both officers and civilians, pub-

lished and unpublished, of what they saw and

heard while the wounded were being assisted

that night, and while they sought for friends
who were missing and supposed to have fallen,
would constitute a large and painfully inter-

esting volume.

It was a trying task for those who, with

lanterns, turned up the faces of the slain to

look for officers or comrades. The conduct of

the soldiery to the wounded was exceedingly

tender and humane—removing them with the

greatest care and softness of manner, although

, they had been themselves engaged all day in

the exhausting strife. These men were kind

also to their wounded enemies, who requited
them with looks of fierce resentment, muttered

curses, or efforts of impotent rage. Our men

could be easily distinguished by the ambulance

parties, although generally in their grey great-

coats ; for their superior stature and better

figures, and their more open and manly coun-

tenances, as they often lay with their faces

upturned to the moonlight, did not easily

admit of mistake. One of the most distressing

scenes of that sorrowful night, was the efforts

of the English women, the wives of soldiers,

to find the bodies of their husbands who had

not returned when the fight was over. "With

a sudden jerk they would drop the head of

some dead soldier, whose figure and uniform

led them at first to apprehend that it was the

loved one they sought. Sometimes their sus-

picions would be confirmed, and then the hill-

side rang vnth the shrill lamentations of their

grief. Oh ! what cries of despair burst from the

hearts of these poor English soldiers' wives as

they found, thousands of miles from home,

their only friends and protectors on earth

perhaps the father of their children—stark,

cold, and bloody, by the hill-side of Inkerman!
Some found their wounded and still living

husbands, and brought them timely solace and

succour ; others laid them down amidst the

dripping brushwood, and clasped their dead in

a last and wild embrace, until some generous

hands separated it, and bore them wailing or

swooning away to the camp.
The appearance of the dead was as various

as the causes of their fall:—'"Some lay as if

asleep ;

others were horribly contorted, and

with distended eyes and swollen features ap-

peared to have died in agony, but defying to

the last. Some lay as if prepared for burial,

and as though the hands of relatives had

arranged their mangled limbs; while others

again were in almost startling positions, half

standing or kneeling, clutching their weapons

or drawing a cartridge. Many lay with both

their hands extended towards the sky, as if to

avert a blow or utter a prayer ; while others

had a malignant scowl of mingled fear and

hatred, as if indeed they died despairing. The

moonlight imparted an aspect of unnatural

paleness to their features, and as the cold damp

wind swept round the hills and waved the

boughs above their upturned faces, the shadows

gave a horrible appearance of vitality ; and it
seemed as if the dead were laughing, and
moving to rise. The Eussian soldiers were in-

ferior in appearance to those at Alma. In all

that relates to discipline and courage our late

antagonists were far superior. They were all

clean, but ragged in the extreme. None had

knapsacks, but merely a little canvas bag of

that disgusting, nauseous-looking stuff they

call their bread. No other provisions were

found on any. The knapsacks, I presume,

were left behind, in order that they might

scale the heights on our right with greater

facility. Every man wore strong, well-made

"Wellington boots, of a stout but rough-looking
brown leather. On none that I have heard of
were found either money or books. On many

were miniatures of women and looks of hair.
They appear to have been veteran troops, as a

large number bore the scars of previous wounds.
The dead officers, as at Alma, were with diffi-

culty to be distinguished from the men. They

behaved very well indeed.' Trenches were dug

on the side of the hill for the Russians, as they

lay. Into them, till they were full quite to

the surface, the enemy's dead were thrown in

ghastly heaps, sixty or seventy in each pit.
As fast as they filled, shovelsful of earth were

loosely scattered over them, and that was all.

Before the winter was over, the heavy rains had
washed the scanty covering from the dead, and

disclosed them fully to our view, with their

features undistinguishable from corruption, hut

withtheir hands still clenched upon the tattered

flesh, and their arms still pointing to the sky.

The English and French lay side by side in

deep graves by themselves. In the ravine in

the side of Shell Hill was a large limekiln, this

was used as a vault, and filled to its summit
with Russians."
The whole of the night of the 5th and
morning of the 6th was expended in convey-

ing the wounded to the hospital tents; by
noon this sad work was accomplished, but the

whole day was consumed in carrying them in

Erench ambulances, Turkish arabas, Tartar

waggons, and English stretchers to Balaklava.
The work of burial now engaged the British
4i

610

HISTOllY OF THE WAR AGAINST EUSSIA.

[Chap. XLV.

and Frenoli, and a number of lives of the allies
was lost in its performance, as well as in carrj'-

ing the wounded off the field. The Eussian

ships in the harbour ^veTe careened, and flung

shot and shell over the heights upon the slopes

where the battle had raged. Great havoc was
made among the llussian wounded who still

lay upon the field, and the unburied dead of

all the contending armies were mutilated

horriblv. The indignation of French and

English was great, and it is marvellous that

the poor soldiers exposed to this galling fire,

should continue to show such kindness to the
wounded Russians, and to the few prisoners

takeil under such ferocious and cowardly pro-

vocation. Lord Raglan sent a flag of truce to

Prince ilenschikoff, inquiring in indignant

terms whether the war was to be conducted

with lionour and on civilised principles, or

with the barbarity of savages. Lord Raglan

also called the attention of the prince to the

fact that, as at Alma and Balaklava, the Rus-

sian wounded were seen ferociously stabbing

the wounded French and English, contrary to

everything previously known in warfare.•'
The reply of the Russian commander-in-chief
was evasive and dishonourable. lie doubted
whether the wounded were killed, except

perhaps in some cases where provocation had

been given, and that he would punish those
who did the like, if proof were afforded to him

of their guilt. The firing, he said, was not

directed against the burjdng parties, but

against the Turks, who were intrenching the

position. The prince must have presumed

that the allies would set about that necessary

operation, for in fact they did not begin to

intrench until the 7th. He excused the bar-

barities of both acts, by alleging that the

Russian soldieiy were much incensed by the

French pickets having plundered the Church

of St. Vladimir, which was situated outside

the Russian lines. This church was erected

on the site of one of the most anciently erected

Greek churches, and was a sort of sanctum

sanctorum for the Russians in the Crimea. It

was supposed by them that the French in

stripping it were actuated not merely by the

love of plunder, but by the envy which they

supposed inflamed the Latin Church against the

orthodox. The French appreciation of Prince

Mensehikoff's complaint was shown in their

afterwards gutting the church of all its furni-

ture, and tliey even took down the timbers of

the roof for firewood.
The sincerity of the brutal and bigoted

Mensohikoff may be judged by the fact, that

no Russian soldier was subsequently punished

for slaying the wounded, altliough they who

had done so made a boast of it in the garrison;

* This likewise occurred in Inilia, where the Avounded

soldiers of Tippoo Saib stabbed the wounded Sepoys.

and the shelling of the burying parties from

the ships went on after the return of the flag

of truce from Sebastopol, as it had done before.

Throughout the whole campaign the Russians

stained their arms with dislionour, by the most

cruel, vindictive, and cowardly practices. IVo

advantage was too small to take, even although

dearly paid for,—and they were always willing

to fling death among their own troops,—if there

were the smallest chance of thereby injuring

an encmj'. It became necessary, in order to

save our men from the fire of the ships, to

withdraw the ambulance as well as burying

detachments, and numbers of wounded Rus-

sians were therefore of necessity left; to a

miserable end upon the cold heath. That tliis

would be the probable consequence of his con-

duct was well known to Mensohikoff; but reck-

less of human life, amongst countrymen or

strangers, this heartless apostle of the orthodox

church scattered the brands of death every-

where, though only one heretic soldier might

perchance be stricken.
On the 7th of November, the attention of

the opposing armies was concentrated on the

siege ; and the battle of Inkerman, and the

scenes which were witnessed on its field of

slaughter, when the events of the battle had

passed away, were matter of history. Few

pages have been set apart to war, by the muse

of history, over which fame sheds so bright a

halo of glory, or pity weeps such compassionate

tears.

This is an appropriate place in which to

present to our readers a very curious and

somewhat instructive account of the battle,

wliioh appeared in a German paper, and which

was written obviously under Russian influ-

ence. The account was published in Berlin.
" The plan of the battle of Inkerman was thus

devised. Soimonoff, who was with the tenth

division in the town, was, supported by some

regiments of the sixteenth and seventeenth

divisions, to break up from there, to march

along the left of the Malakoff Hill, proceed

along the west side of the ravine running into

Careening Bay, and fall upon the left wing of

the English army; while General PaulofiF,

with the eleventh division, from the northern
camp at Inkerman, was to cross the Tchernaj"a

bridge, mount to the plateau at the side, after

passing along the defile, and attack the English

on their right flank. For the purpose of de-

taining the French, and preventing them from

coming to the assistance of the English, there
was to be, in addition to a general cannonade

from the ramparts, a sham attack made on

their left wing by General Timofegen. General

Gortschakoff was to operate against the Sapoune

Heights, for the purpose either of fettering

General Bosquet to that position, or of enticing
him down to the vallej'."

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