G. A. Henty
Part 5 out of 6
found Austrian sentries, who accosted them in German. As, however, the
Austrian Government offered no obstacle to Polish fugitives entering
the frontier, the lads were conducted to the officer of the troops at
the little village which faced that on the Russian bank. Here they
were questioned, first in Polish and then in German, but upon the boys
repeating the word "English," the officer, who spoke a little French,
addressed them in that language, and Dick explained that they were
English naval officers taken prisoners at Sebastopol, and making their
escape through Poland. He then asked if there was a surgeon who could
dress his wound, but was told that none was procurable nearer than a
town fifteen miles away. A country cart was speedily procured and
filled with straw, and upon this Dick lay down, while Jack took his
seat by the peasant who was to drive the cart.
It was eleven o'clock in the day when they entered the town, and the
peasant drew up, in accordance with the instructions he had received,
at the best hotel, the landlord of which was in no slight degree
surprised at such an arrival, and was disposed to refuse them
admittance. Jack, however, produced a bundle of Russian notes, at
which sight the landlord's hesitation vanished at once, and in half an
hour a surgeon stood by Dick's bedside dressing his wound. It was a
severe one, the bone being broken between the elbow and shoulder.
The next day Dick was in a state of high fever, due more to the
hardship and exposure through which he bad passed than to the wound,
and for a week lay between life and death. Then he began to mend, but
the doctor said that it would be long before he could use his arm
again, and that rest and quiet were absolutely necessary to restore
A week later, therefore, the midshipmen left the town, Dick having
determined that he would travel home by easy stages, while Jack, of
course, would journey direct to join his ship.
He had written immediately upon his arrival to acquaint his family,
and that of Dick, that both were alive and had escaped from Russia.
The tailors had been set to work, and the midshipmen presented a
respectable appearance. Dick was still so weak that he could scarcely
stand, and Jack tried hard to persuade him to stay for another week.
But Dick was pining to be home, and would not hear of delay. A day's
travel in a diligence brought them to a railway station, and twelve
hours later they arrived at Vienna.
Here they stopped for a day in luxurious quarters, and then Jack,
after seeing his friend into the train on his way home, started to
travel over the Semmering pass down to Trieste, where he knew he
should find no difficulty in obtaining a steamer to Constantinople.
After forty-eight hours' diligence travelling, Jack reached the pretty
seaport on the northern shore of the Adriatic. He found to his
satisfaction that one of the Austrian Lloyd's steamers would sail for
Constantinople on the following morning. He spent the evening in
buying a great stock of such articles as he had most found the want of
in camp, and had accumulated quite a respectable stock of baggage by
the time he went on board ship. After six days' steaming, during which
they were never out of sight of land, they cast anchor opposite
Jack did not report himself to the naval authorities here, as he
thought it quite possible that the "Falcon" had been recalled or sent
on other service, and he hoped that in that case he would, upon
reaching the front, be appointed to some other ship.
There was no difficulty in obtaining a passage to Balaklava, for two
or three transports, or merchantmen laden with stores, were going up
every day. He paused, however, for three days, as it was absolutely
necessary for him to obtain a fit-out of fresh uniforms before
rejoining, and at Galata he found European tailors perfectly capable
of turning out such articles.
Jack felt uncommonly pleased as he surveyed himself in a glass in his
new equipment; for it was now eight months since he had landed in the
Crimea, and the dilapidation of his garments had from that time been
rapid. The difficulties of toilet had, too, been great, and white
shirts were things absolutely unknown; so that Jack had never felt
really presentable from the time when he landed.
The day he had obtained his outfit he took a passage in a ship laden
with stores, and sailed for the Crimea. He had already learned that
the "Falcon" was still there, and when the vessel entered the harbor
he was delighted at seeing her lying as one of the guard-ships there.
An hour later, one of the ship's boats conveyed him and his baggage to
the side of the "Falcon." The first person he saw on reaching the deck
was Mr. Hethcote. The officer stared when Jack saluted and reported
himself in the usual words, "Come aboard, sir," and fell back a pace
"What, Jack! Jack Archer!" he exclaimed. "My dear boy, is it really
"It's me, sure enough, sir," Jack said, and the next moment Mr.
Hethcote was shaking his hand as if he would have wrung it off.
"Why, my dear Jack," he exclaimed, "the men all reported that both you
and poor Hawtry were killed. They said they saw him shot, and, looking
back, saw you killed over his body. It was never doubted a moment, and
your names appeared in the list of the killed."
"Well, sir, we are alive nevertheless, and Dick is by this time at
home with his people. He would have come on and joined with me at
once, sir, only he got his arm broken, and was laid up with fever
after some fighting we had among the Polish insurgents."
"Among what!" Mr. Hethcote exclaimed, astonished. "But never mind that
now; I am glad indeed to hear that Hawtry also is alive, but you must
tell me all about it presently. There are your other friends waiting
to speak to you."
By this time the news of Jack's return had spread through the ship.
The midshipmen had all run on deck, and the men crowded the waist, or,
regardless of discipline, stood on the bulwarks. Jack had been a
general favorite. The gallantry which he and his comrade had displayed
on the night of the storm had greatly endeared them to the crew, and
the men had bitterly regretted that they had not stood with him over
Hawtry's body; but, indeed, it was not until they had passed on, and
it was too late to return, that they had noticed his absence.
As Jack turned from Mr. Hethcote, his messmates crowded round him, and
the men broke into a hearty cheer, again and again repeated. Jack,
gratified and touched by this hearty welcome, could scarce reply to
the questions which his comrades poured upon him, and was speedily
dragged below to the midshipmen's berth, where he gave a very brief
outline of what had happened since he saw them, a story which filled
them with astonishment and some little envy.
"I will tell you all about it fully, later on," Jack said, "but it
would take me till night to give you the full yarn now. But first you
must tell me what has happened here. You know I have heard nothing,
and only know that Sebastopol is not yet taken."
The recital was a long one, and Jack was fain to admit that the
hardships which he had gone through were as nothing to those which had
been borne by our soldiers in the Crimea during the six months he had
been away from them. The trials and discomforts of the great storm had
been but a sample of what was to be undergone. After Inkerman, it had
been plain to the generals in command that all idea of taking
Sebastopol must be abandoned until the spring, and that at the utmost
they could do no more than hold their position before it. This had
been rendered still more difficult by the storm, in which enormous
quantities of stores, warm clothing, and other necessaries had been
It was now too late to think of making a road from Balaklava to the
front, a work which, had the authorities in the first place dreamt
that the army would have to pass the winter on the plateau, was of all
others the most necessary. The consequence of this omission was that
the sufferings of the troops were terrible.
While Balaklava harbor was crowded with ships full of huts, clothing,
and fuel, the men at the front were dying in hundreds from wet, cold,
and insufficient food. Between them and abundance extended an almost
impassable quagmire, in which horses and bullocks sank and died in
thousands, although laden only with weights which a donkey in ordinary
times could carry. Had the strength of the regiments in front been
sufficient, the soldiers might have been marched down, when off duty,
to Balaklava, to carry up the necessaries they required. But so
reduced were they by over-work and fatigue, that those fit for duty
had often to spend five nights out of seven in the trenches, and were
physically too exhausted and worn-out to go down to Balaklava for
necessaries, even of the most urgent kind. Many of the regiments were
almost annihilated. Large numbers of fresh troops had come out, and
drafts for those already there, but the new-comers, mostly raw lads,
broke down under the strain almost as fast as they arrived, and in
spite of the number sent out, the total available strength did not
increase. One regiment could only muster nine men fit for duty. Many
were reduced to the strength of a company. The few survivors of one
regiment were sent down to Scutari until fresh drafts should arrive
and the regiment could be reorganized, and yet this regiment had not
been engaged in any of the battles. Scarce a general of those who had
commanded divisions and brigades at the Alma now remained, and the
regimental officers had suffered proportionally. The regiments which
had won the Alma still remained before Sebastopol, but their
constituents had almost entirely changed, and the proportion of those
who had first landed in the Crimea that still remained there when Jack
returned was small indeed.
The sufferings of the French, although great, had not been nearly so
severe as our own. Their camps were much nearer to their port, the
organization of their services was far better and more complete, and
as in the first place the siege work had been equally divided between
them, the numbers at that time being nearly the same, the work of our
men had become increasingly hard as their numbers diminished, while
that of the French grew lighter, for their strength had been trebled
by reinforcements from home. Thus, while our men were often five
nights out of the seven on duty in the cold and wet, the French had
five nights out of seven in bed. This gave them far greater time to
forage for fuel, which was principally obtained by digging up the
roots of the vines and brushwood--every twig above the surface having
long since been cleared away--to dig deep holes under their tents, to
dry their clothes and to make life comfortable.
At last the strength of the English diminished to such a point that
they were at length incapable of holding the long line of trenches,
and they were obliged to ask the French to relieve them, which they
did by taking over the right of our attack, a measure which placed
them opposite to the two Russian positions of the Mamelon and Malakoff
batteries, which proved to be the keys of Sebastopol.
As spring came on matters brightened fast. English contractors sent
out large bodies of navvies, and began to lay down a railway from
Balaklava to the front, reinforcements poured in, and the health of
the troops began to improve. Troops of transport animals from every
country on the Mediterranean were landed. A village of shops, set up
by enterprising settlers, was started two miles out of Balaklava. Huts
sprang up in all directions, and all sorts of comforts purchased by
the subscriptions of the English people when they heard of the
sufferings of their soldiers, were landed and distributed.
The work of getting up siege guns and storing ammunition for a
re-opening of the bombardment in earnest, went on merrily, and the
arrival of 15,000 Turkish troops, and of nearly 20,000 Sardinians, who
pitched their camps on the plain, rendered the allies secure from an
attack in that direction, and enabled them to concentrate all their
efforts on the siege.
So far the success had lain wholly with the Russians. For every
earthwork and battery raised and armed by the allies, the Russians
threw up two, and whereas when our armies arrived before it on 25th
September, Sebastopol was little more than an open town, which could
have been carried by the first assault, it was now a fortified place,
bristling with batteries in every direction, of immense strength, and
constructed upon the most scientific principles. Many of their works,
especially the Mamelon, Malakoff, and Tower batteries, were fortresses
in themselves, with refuges dug deeply in the earth, where the
garrison slept, secure from the heaviest fire of our guns, and
surrounded by works on every side.
In the trenches it was the Russians who were always the aggressors.
Sortie after sortie was made throughout the winter, and in these the
Russians often obtained possession for a time of portions of our
trenches or those of the French. Along in front of their works the
ground was studded with rifle-pits, sometimes so close to our works
that it was impossible for a man to show his head above them, and the
artillerymen were frequently unable to work their guns, owing to the
storm of bullets which the Russians sent through the embrasures
whenever a sign of movement was discerned. In the desperate fights in
darkness in the trenches we lost more men than in either of the
pitched battles of the campaign; and it was only the dogged courage of
our soldiers and the devotion of the officers which enabled us to
maintain our footing in the trenches before the city which we were
supposed to be besieging.
Throughout the winter the fleet had lain inactive, although why they
should have done so none knew, when they had it in their power, by
attacking the Russian forts in the Sea of Azof, to destroy the
granaries upon which the besieged depended for their supplies.
The midshipmen, however, were able to tell Jack that they had not been
altogether idle, as the fleet had at last, on the 22d of May, been set
in motion, and they had but two days before returned from their
expedition. All the light vessels of the English and French fleets had
taken part in it. The fort of Yenikale which commanded the entrance of
the Bay of Kertch had been captured, the batteries silenced, and the
town occupied, and in four days after the squadron had entered the
straits of Kertch they had destroyed 245 Russian vessels employed in
carrying provisions to the Russian army in the Crimea. Besides this,
enormous magazines of corn and flour were destroyed at Berdiansk,
Genitchi and Kertch, and at the latter place immense quantities of
military and naval stores also fell into our hands. Had this
expedition taken place in October instead of May, it is probable that
the Russians would have been unable to maintain their hold of
A portion of the fleet had remained in possession of the Sea of Azof,
and thenceforth the Russians had to depend upon land carriage. This,
however, mattered comparatively little, as the country was now firm
and dry, and all the roads from Russia to the Crimea were available.
All their comrades had taken share in the work in the batteries and
Jack learned to his surprise that Captain Stuart had been transferred
to a larger ship, and that Mr. Hethcote had got his promotion, and now
commanded the "Falcon," Jack, in the first excitement of meeting him,
not having noticed the changes in uniform which marked his advance.
After two hours' conversation with his friends, Jack received a
message that Captain Hethcote invited him to dine in his cabin, and
here a quarter of an hour later he found not only the captain, but the
first and second lieutenants.
After dinner was over, Jack was requested to give a full narrative of
his adventures, which greatly astonished his auditors, and was not
concluded until late in the evening. The lieutenants then retired, and
Jack was left alone with the captain, who signified that he wished to
speak further with him.
"Well, Jack," he said, when they were alone, "I did not think when I
offered my uncle to get you a midshipman's berth, that I was going to
put you in the way of passing through such a wonderful series of
adventures. They have been sadly cut up at home at the news of your
death. I hope that you wrote to them as soon as you had a chance."
"I wrote on the very day I crossed the frontier, sir," Jack said.
"Besides I wrote twice from Russia, but I don't suppose they ever got
"And so you speak Russian fluently now, Jack?"
"I speak it quite well enough to get on with, sir," Jack said. "You
see, I was speaking nothing else for five months. I expect my grammar
is very shaky, as I picked it all up entirely by ear, and no doubt I
make awful mistakes, but I can get on fast enough."
"I shall report your return to-morrow to the Admiral," Captain
Hethcote said. "It is not improbable that he will at once attach you
to the battery in front again. The bombardment is to re-open next
week, and the generals expect to carry the town by assault; though,
between ourselves, I have no belief that our batteries will be able to
silence the enemy's guns sufficiently to make an assault upon such a
tremendous position possible. However, as they expect to do it, it is
probable that they will like having an officer who can speak Russian
at the front, as interpreters would, of course, be useful. I suppose
you would rather stay on board for a bit."
"Yes, sir; I have had such a lot of knocking about since I left
Breslau, that I should certainly have liked a month's quiet; but of
course, I am ready to do as ordered, and, indeed, as the fun seems
about to begin at last, I should like to be in it."
The next morning the captain sent his report to the Admiral, and
received in reply a message that the Admiral would be glad if Captain
Hethcote would dine with him that day, and would bring Mr. Archer with
Admiral Lyons was very kind to the young midshipman, and insisted upon
his giving him an account in full of all his adventures. He confirmed
Captain Hethcote's opinion as to Jack's movements, by saying, as he
bade him good-bye, that in the morning he would receive a written
order to go up to the front and to report himself to the officer in
command of the naval brigade there.
The next morning, being that of the 5th June, Jack received his order,
and an hour later he started for the front, with two sailors to carry
his baggage. He was astonished at the change which had been wrought at
Balaklava. A perfect town of wooden huts had sprung up. The principal
portion of these was devoted to the general hospital, the others were
crammed with stores. The greater part of the old Tartar village had
been completely cleared away, the streets and roads were levelled, and
in good order.
Such troops as were about had received new uniforms, and looked clean
and tidy. Everywhere gangs of laborers were at work, and the whole
place wore a bright and cheerful aspect. Just outside the town an
engine with a number of laden wagons was upon the point of starting.
The sun was blazing fiercely down, and at the suggestion of one of the
sailors, who, though ready enough for a spree on shore, were viewing
with some apprehension the prospect of the long trudge along the dusty
road to Sebastopol, Jack asked the officer in charge of the train for
permission to ride up. This was at once granted, and Jack, his trunk
and the sailors, were soon perched on the top of a truck-load of
barrels of salt pork.
Jack could scarcely believe that the place was the same which he had
last seen, just when winter was setting in. A large village had grown
up near the mouth of the valley, wooden huts for the numerous gangs of
navvies and laborers stood by the side of the railway. Officers
trotted past on ponies, numbers of soldiers, English, French, Turkish,
and Sardinian, trudged along the road on their way to or from
Balaklava. The wide plain across which our cavalry had charged was
bright with flowers, and dotted with the tents of the Turks and
Sardinians. Nature wore a holiday aspect. Every one seemed cheerful
and in high spirits, and it needed the dull boom of the guns around
Sebastopol to recall the fact that the work upon which they were
engaged was one of grim earnest.
Upon arriving at the camp, Jack found that its aspect was not less
changed than that of the surrounding country. Many of the regiments
were already in huts. The roads and the streets between the tents were
scrupulously clean and neat, and before many of the officers' tents,
clumps of flowers brought up from the plain had been planted. The
railway was not yet completed quite to the front, and the last two
miles had to be traversed on foot.
Upon presenting his written orders to the officer in command of the
naval brigade, Jack was at once told off to a tent with two other
midshipmen, and was told that he would not, for the present, be placed
upon regular duty, but that he would be employed as aide-de-camp to
the commander, and as interpreter, should his services in that way be
THE REPULSE AT THE REDAN
The first impulse of Jack, after having stowed his traps in the tent
and introduced himself to his new mess-mates, was to make his way to
the lines of the 33d. Here he found that Harry had been sent home sick
in January, but that he had sailed from England again with a draft,
and was expected to arrive in the course of a few days. Jack found but
few of the officers still there whom he had before known. Several,
however, were expected shortly back either from England or from the
hospitals at Scutari.
Greatly relieved to find that his brother was alive and well, Jack
returned to the naval camp, where he speedily made himself at home.
When he first mentioned to his messmates, two lads about his own age,
that he had been a prisoner in Russia, the statement was received with
incredulity, and when, at their request, he proceeded to tell some of
his adventures, they regarded him with admiration as the most
stupendous liar they had ever met. It was long indeed before his
statements were in any way believed, and it was only when, upon the
occasion of one day dining with the officer in command of the brigade,
Jack, at his request, related in the presence of several officers his
adventures in Russia, that his statements were really accepted as
facts; for it was agreed that whatever yarns a fellow might invent to
astonish his comrades, he would not venture upon relating them as
facts to a post-captain. This, however, was later on.
On the morning after his arrival all was expectation, for it was known
that the bombardment was about to recommence. At half-past two o'clock
the roar of 157 guns and mortars in the British batteries, and over
800 in those of the French, broke the silence, answered a minute or
two later by that of the Russian guns along their whole line of
batteries. The day was hot and almost without a breeze, and the smoke
from so vast a number of guns hung heavily on the hill-side, and
nothing could be seen as to the effect which the cannonade was
producing. It was not until next morning that the effect of the fire
was visible. The faces of the Russian batteries were pitted and
scarred, but no injury of importance had been inflicted upon them. All
day the fire continued with unabated fury on the side of the allies,
the Russians replying intermittently. Presently the news circulated
through the camp that an assault would be made at six o'clock, and all
officers and men of duty thronged the brow of the plateau, looking
down upon the town.
At half-past six a body of French troops were observed to leave their
trenches, and, in skirmishing order, to make their way towards the
Mamelon. The guns of the Russian fort roared out, but already the
assailants were too close for these to have much effect. Soon a great
shout from the spectators on the hill proclaimed that the Zouaves, who
always led the French attacks, had gained the parapet. Then, from
within, a host of figures surged up against the sky, and a curious
conflict raged on the very summit of the work. Soon, however, the
increasing mass of the French, as they streamed up, enabled them to
maintain the footing they had gained, and pouring down into the fort,
they drove the Russians from it, the French pouring out in their rear.
Twice fresh bodies of Russian reserves, coming up, attempted to roll
back the French attack; but these, exultant with success, pressed
forward, and, in spite of the fire which the guns of the Round Tower
fort poured upon them, drove their enemies down the hill. It was
growing dark now, and it could with difficulty be seen how the fight
was going. Fresh masses of French troops poured from their advance
trenches into the Mamelon, and there was no question that that point
was decidedly gained.
Still however, the battle raged around it. The Zouaves, flushed with
success, attempted to carry the Round Tower with a rush, and swept up
to the abattis surrounding it. The Russians brought up fresh supports,
and the whole hill-side was alive with the flicker of musketry. The
Russian guns of all the batteries bearing upon the scene of action
opened it, while those of our right attack, which were close to the
French, opened their fire to aid our allies. Had the Zouaves been
supported, it is probable that they would have carried the Round Tower
with their rush, but this was not in the plan of operations, and,
after fighting heroically for some time, they fell back to the
The fight on the British side had been less exciting. With a sudden
rush our men had leaped on the advance trenches and driven the
Russians from their position in the quarries. Then, rapidly turning
the gabions of the trenches, they prepared to hold the ground they had
taken. They were not to maintain their conquest unmolested, for soon
the Russians poured down masses of troops to retake it. All night long
the flash of fire flickered round the position, and six times the
Russian officers led up their troops to the attack.
Our assaulting force was over 1000 men, and out of these 365 men and
thirty-five officers were killed or wounded. Had a stronger body been
detailed, there is no doubt that the Redan, which was near the
quarries, could have been taken, for it was almost empty of troops,
and our men, in the impetuosity of their first assault, arrived close
to it. Great discontent was felt that measures should not have been
taken to follow up the success, and both our allies and our own troops
felt that a great opportunity had been missed, owing to the want of
forethought of their generals.
The next day there was an armistice, from one till six, to collect and
bury the dead, and the officers and men of the contending parties
moved over the ground which had been the scene of conflict, chatting
freely together, exchanging cigars and other little articles. Jack,
who had gone down with his commanding officer, created no slight
astonishment among the Russians by conversing with them in their own
language. In answer to their questions, he told them that he had been
a prisoner among them, and begged them to forward a note which he had
that morning written to Count Preskoff at Berislav, acquainting him
that he had made his escape across the Russian frontier, and had
rejoined the army, for he thought it probable that the letter which he
had given to Count Stanislaus to post, after he left him, might never
have come to hand.
At six o'clock the guns again re-opened; the Russians having made good
use of their time in arming fresh batteries to counteract the effect
of the works we had carried. We had indeed hard work in maintaining
our hold of the quarries, which were commanded by several batteries,
whose position placed them outside the range of our guns. Our loss was
very heavy, as also was that of the French in the Mamelon, which was
made a centre for the Russian fire.
On the nights of the 16th and 17th some of the British and French
ships stood in close to Sebastopol, and kept up a heavy fire upon the
town. On the 16th it was decided by Marshal Pelissier and Lord Raglan
that the assault should take place on the morning of the 18th of June,
and every arrangement was made for the attack. The British force told
off for the work consisted of detachments of the light, second, and
third divisions, and was divided into three columns. Sir John Campbell
had charge of the left, Colonel Shadforth of the right, and Colonel
Lacy Yea of the centre column. General Barnard was directed to take
his brigade of the third division down to a ravine near the quarries,
while General Eyre moved his brigade of the same division still
farther along. His orders were that in case of the assault on the
Redan being successful, he should attack the works on its right.
On the French left, three columns, each 6000 strong, under General De
Salles, were to attack three of the Russian bastions; while on their
right, three columns of equal force were to attack the Russian
positions: General D'Autemarre assailing the Gervais battery and the
right flank of the Malakoff, General Brunet to fall upon the left
flank of the Malakoff and the little Redan from the Mamelon, while
General Mayrau was to carry the Russian battery near the careening
Thus the French were to assault in six columns, numbering in all
36,000 men, with reserves of 25,000. Our assaulting columns contained
only 1200 men, while 10,000 were in reserve. The attack was to
commence at day-break, but by some mistake the column of General
Mayrau attacked before the signal was given. In a few minutes they
were repulsed with great loss, their general being mortally wounded.
Four thousand of the Imperial Guard were sent to their assistance, and
three rockets being fired as a signal, the assault was made all along
the line. The Russians, however, had been prepared for what was coming
by the assault on their left. Their reserves were brought up, the
Redan was crowded with troops, the guns were loaded with grape, and as
the little English columns leaped from their trenches and rushed to
the assault, they were received with tremendous fire.
The inevitable result of sending 1000 men to attack a tremendously
strong position, held by ten times their own strength, and across a
ground swept by half a dozen batteries, followed. The handful of
British struggled nobly forward, broken up into groups by the
irregularity of the ground and by the gaps made by the enemy's fire.
Parties of brave men struggled up to the very abattis of the Redan,
and there, unsupported and powerless, were shot down. Nothing could
exceed the bravery which our soldiers manifested. But their bravery
was in vain. The three officers in command of the columns, Sir John
Campbell, Colonel Shadforth, and Colonel Yea, were all killed. In vain
the officers strove to lead their men to an attack. There were indeed
scarce any to lead, and the Russians, in mockery of the foolishness of
such an attack, stood upon their parapets and asked our men why they
did not come in. At last, the remnants of the shattered columns were
called off. Upon the left, the brigade under General Eyre carried the
cemetery by a sudden attack. But so hot a fire was opened upon him
that it was with difficulty the position could be held.
This, however, was the sole success of the day. Both, the French
columns were repulsed with heavy loss from the Malakoff, and although
Gervais battery was carried, it could not be maintained.
The naval brigade furnished four parties of sixty men to carry
scaling-ladders and wool-bags. Two of these parties were held in
reserve, and did not advance. Captain Peel was in command, and was
wounded, as was Mr. Wood, a midshipman of H.M.S. "Queen," who acted as
his aide-de-camp. The three officers of one detachment were all
wounded, and of the other one was killed, and one wounded.
Jack had in the morning regretted that he was not in orders for the
service, but when at night the loss which those who bad taken part in
it had suffered was known, he could not but congratulate himself that
he had not been detailed for the duty. The total British loss was
twenty-two officers and 247 men killed, seventy-eight officers and
1207 men wounded. The French lost thirty-nine officers killed, and
ninety-three wounded, 1600 men killed or taken prisoners and about the
same number wounded; so that our losses were enormously greater than
those of the French in proportion to our numbers. The Russians
admitted a loss of 5800 killed and wounded.
Jack was with many others a spectator of this scene from Cathcart
Hill; but it must not be imagined that even a vague idea of what was
passing could be gleaned by the lookers-on. The Redan, which was the
point of view immediately opposite, was fully a mile away. In a few
minutes from the commencement of the fight the air was thick with
smoke, and the din of battle along so extended a front was so
continuous and overpowering that it was impossible to judge by the
sound of firing how the fight was going on at any particular point.
Upon the night before there was a general sanguine feeling as to the
success of the attack, and many a laughing invitation was given to
future dinners in the hotels of Sebastopol. Great, then, was the
disappointment when, an hour after its opening, the tremendous roll of
musketry gradually died away, while the fire of the allied batteries
angrily opened, telling the tale that all along the line the allies
had been defeated, save only for the slight success at the cemetery.
Eagerly were the wounded questioned, as, carried on stretchers, or
slowly and painfully making their way upon foot, they ascended the
hill. In most of them regret at their defeat or anger at the
incompetence of those who had rendered defeat certain, predominated
over the pain of the wounds.
"Be jabers," said a little Irishman, "but it was cruel work entirely.
There was myself and six others and the captain made our way up to a
lot of high stakes stuck in the ground before the place. We looked
round, and divil another soul was there near. We couldn't climb over
the stakes, and if we had got over 'em there was a deep ditch beyond,
and no way of getting in or out. And what would have been the good if
we had, when there were about 50,000 Russians inside a-shouting and
yelling at the top of their voices, and a-firing away tons of
ammunition? We stopped there five minutes, it may be, waiting to see
if any one else was coming, and then when four of us was killed and
the captain wounded, I thought it time to be laving; so I lifted him
up and carried him in, and got an ugly baste of a Russian bullet into
my shoulder as I did so. Ye may call it fightin', but it's just murder
I call it meself."
Something like this was the tale told by scores of wounded men, and it
is little wonder that, sore with defeat and disappointment, and
heart-sick at the loss which had been suffered, the feelings of the
army found vent in deep grumblings at the generals who had sent out a
handful of men to assault a fortress.
The next day there was another truce to allow of the burial of the
dead and the collection of the wounded who lay thickly on the ground
between the rival trenches. It did not take place, however, till four
in the afternoon, by which time the wounded had been lying for thirty
hours without water or aid, the greater portion of the time exposed to
the heat of a burning sun.
Ten days later Lord Raglan died. He was a brave soldier, an honorable
man, a most courteous and perfect English gentleman, but he was most
certainly not a great general. He was succeeded by General Simpson,
who appears to have been chosen solely because he had, as a lad,
served in the Peninsula; the authorities seeming to forget that for
the work upon which the army was engaged, no school of war could
compare with that of the Crimea itself, and that generals who had
received their training there were incomparably fitter for the task
than any others could be.
Two days after the repulse at the Redan, Jack was delighted by the
entry of his brother into his tent. Harry had of course left England
before the receipt of Jack's letter written when he had crossed the
frontier, and was overwhelmed with delight at the news which he had
received ten minutes before, on arriving at the camp, that his brother
was alive, and was again with the naval brigade close by. Jack's
tent-mates were fortunately absent, and the brothers were therefore
able to enjoy the delight of their meeting alone, and, when the first
rapture was over, to sit down for a long talk. Jack was eager to learn
what had happened at home, of which he had heard nothing for six
months, and which Harry had so lately left. He was delighted to hear
that all were well; that his elder sister was engaged to be married;
and that although the shock of the news of his death had greatly
affected his mother she had regained her strength, and would, Harry
was sure, be as bright and cheerful as ever when she heard of his
safety. Not till he had received answers to every question about home
would Jack satisfy his brother's curiosity as to his own adventures,
and then he astonished him indeed with an account of what he had gone
"Well, Jack, you are a lucky fellow!" Harry said, when he had
finished. "To think of your having gone through all those adventures
and living to tell of them. Why, it will be something to talk about
all your life."
"And you, Harry, are you quite recovered?"
"I am as well as ever," Harry said. "It was a case of typhus and
frost-bite mixed. I lost two of my toes, and they were afraid that I
should be lame in consequence. However, I can march well enough for
all practical purposes, though I do limp a little. As to the typhus,
it left me very weak; but I soon picked up when the wind from England
was blowing in my face. Only to think that all the time I was grieving
for you as dead and buried by the Russians among the hills over there
that you were larking about with those jolly Russian girls."
"Oh, yes, that's all very well," Jack said. "But you must remember
that all that pretty nearly led to my being hung or shot; and it was a
hot time among those Poles, too, I can tell you."
The next few days passed quietly. On the 12th of July Jack rode out
with his commanding officer, who, with many others, accompanied the
reconnaissance made by the Turks and French, on a foraging and
reconnoitring party, towards Baidar, but they did not come in contact
with the Russians.
Both parties still worked steadily at their trenches. The French were
fortunate in having soft ground before them, and were rapidly pushing
their advances up towards the Malakoff. This position, which could
without difficulty have been seized by the allies at the commencement
was in reality the key of the Russian position. Its guns completely
commanded the Redan, and its position would render that post
untenable, while the whole of the south side of Sebastopol would lay
at our mercy. In front of the English the ground was hard and stony,
and it was next to impossible to advance our trenches towards the
Redan, and the greater portion of the earth indeed had to be carried
in sacks on men's backs from points in the rear.
The working parties were also exposed to a cross-fire, and large
numbers of men were killed every day.
On the 31st a tremendous storm broke upon the camp, but the soldiers
were now accustomed to such occurrences, the tents were well secured,
and but little damage was suffered. Save for a few sorties by the
Russians, the next fortnight passed quietly.
The cavalry were now pushed some distance inland, and the officers
made up parties to ride through the pretty valleys and visit the
villas and country houses scattered along the shores.
THE BATTLE OF THE TCHERNAYA
On the evening of the 15th of August several Tartars brought in news
that the Russians were preparing for an attack; but so often had
similar rumors been received that little attention was paid to their
statements. It was known indeed that they had received very large
reinforcements, and the troops had been several times called under
arms to resist their repeated attacks. These, however, had all passed
off quietly, and when the troops retired to rest none thought that a
great battle was going to take place on the morrow.
The Tchernaya, after leaving the valley of Baidar, flows between a
number of low swells of ground, and formed the front of the allied
armies on the plains. On the extreme right the Turks were stationed.
Next them came the Sardinians, whose position extended from a stream
flowing into the Tchernaya at right angles to an eminence known as
Mount Hasfort. In front, and divided from it by an aqueduct which,
too, ran parallel to the river, was another hillock accessible from
the first by a stone bridge at which the Sardinians had a breastwork.
Their outposts extended some distance on the other side of the
Tchernaya. The French occupied a series of hillocks to the left of the
Sardinians, guarding the road leading from Balaklava to McKenzie's
farm. The river and aqueduct both flowed along their front. The road
crossed the former by a bridge known as the Traktia Bridge, the latter
by a stone bridge. In front of the Traktia Bridge was a breastwork.
At dawn a strong body of Russians were seen upon the heights opposite
to those occupied by the Sardinians, and thence, being on ground
higher than that upon our side of the river, they commanded both the
Sardinian and French positions. The bridge was held by a company of
infantry and a company of Bersaglieri, and General Della Marmora at
once despatched another company of Bersaglieri to enable the advance
to hold their post until the army got under arms. They mounted the
opposite plateau, but this was so swept by the Russian guns, that they
were forced at once to retire to the bridge.
Soon the artillery opened along the whole line on both sides. The
French outposts had also been driven in, and before the troops were
fairly under arms, the Russians had crossed the bridge, and were
charging forward. The aqueduct, which was nine or ten feet wide and
several feet deep, now formed the front of the French defence. It ran
along on the face of the hill, with a very steep slope facing the
In spite of the fire of the French artillery in front, and of the
Sardinian artillery which swept them in flank, the Russian soldiers
pressed most gallantly forward, crossed the aqueduct, and tried to
storm the height. The Sardinian fire, however, was too severe, and
after ten minutes the Russians fell back. It met another column
advancing at the double, and uniting, they again rushed forward. While
they forded the river, two guns crossed by the bridge and another by a
ford, and opened upon the French. The infantry, rushing breast deep
through the water, began to scale the heights. But the French met them
boldly, and after a fierce fight drove them down and across the
bridge. On their left another column had attacked the French right,
and in spite of the Sardinian guns which ploughed long lanes in their
ranks, crossed the aqueduct and scaled the heights. But as they
reached the plateau so terrible a storm of grape and musket-balls
swept upon them, that the bead of the column melted away as it
surmounted the crest. Fresh men took the place of those that fell, but
when the French infantry, with a mighty cheer, rushed upon them, the
Russians broke and ran. So great was the crowd that they could not
pass the river in time, and 200 prisoners were taken, while the French
and Sardinian artillery swept the remains of the column, as it
retreated, with a terrible cross fire.
At the bridge, however, the Russians made one more effort. The
reserves were brought up, and they again crossed the river and
aqueduct. The French, however, were now thoroughly prepared, and the
attack was, like the preceding one, beaten back with terrible
slaughter. The Russians fell back along their whole line, covered by
the fire of their artillery, while five regiments of cavalry took post
to oppose that of the allies, should they attempt to harass the
The loss of the French was nine officers killed and fifty-three
wounded, 172 men killed and 1163 wounded. The Sardinians had two
officers killed and eight wounded; sixty-two men killed, and 135
wounded. The Russian loss was twenty-seven officers killed, and
eighty-five wounded; 3329 men killed, 4785 wounded. Never were the
advantages of position more clearly shown, for the Russians lost
fifteen times as many killed as the allies, four times as many
wounded, although they had all the advantages of a surprise on their
side. The English had only a battery of heavy guns under Captain
Mowbray engaged. These did good service.
Jack Archer saw but little of this battle. It commenced at daybreak
and lasted little over an hour, and when Jack, with hundreds of other
officers and soldiers, reached points from which a view of the plain
could be commanded, a thick cloud of smoke was drifting across it,
through which nothing could be seen until the heavy masses of Russians
were observed making their way back covered by their cavalry, and the
dying away of the cannonade told that the battle was over.
Life in camp was very cheery now. The troops were in splendid health
and high spirits. Races were got up in each division, for almost all
officers possessed ponies of some kind or other, and great amusement
was caused by these events. Some of the lately-arrived regiments had
brought their regimental bands with them, and these added to the
liveliness of the camps. A good supply of eatables and wine could be
obtained from the sutlers, and dinner-parties were constantly taking
place. Altogether life in camp was very enjoyable.
The French, who during the winter had fared much better than
ourselves, were now in a very inferior condition. The full publicity
which had been given to the sufferings of our troops had so roused the
British public, that not only had they insisted that Government should
take all measures for the comfort of the soldiers, but very large sums
had been collected, and ships laden with comforts and luxuries of all
kinds despatched to the seat of war. Consequently our troops were now
in every respect well fed and comfortable. Upon the other hand, the
details of the sufferings of the French troops had been carefully
concealed from the French people. Consequently nothing was done for
them, and their food was the same now as it had been at Varna in the
previous year. They were consequently exposed to the attacks of the
same illness, and while the British army was enjoying perfect health,
the French hospitals were crowded, and many thousands died of cholera
After the Tchernaya, as there was no probability of a renewal of the
bombardment for a short time, Jack asked leave to spend a few days on
board ship, as his services as interpreter were not likely to be
required. This was readily granted. Here he had perfect rest. Captain
Hethcote did not put him in a watch, and every day, with some of his
messmates, he rowed out of the harbor, and coasted along at the foot
of the lofty cliffs, sometimes fishing, sometimes taking a bath in the
cool waters. This week's rest and change did Jack a great deal of
good, for he had been feeling the effects of the long strain of
excitement. He had had several slight touches of fever, and the naval
doctor had begun to speak of the probability of sending him down to
the hospital-ship at Constantinople. The week's rest, however,
completely set him up, and he was delighted with the receipt of a
budget of letters from home, written upon the receipt of his letter
announcing his safety.
None but those who have gone through a long and tedious campaign, or
who may be living a struggling life in some young colony, can know how
great is the delight afforded by letters from home. For a time the
readers forget their surroundings, and all the toil and struggle of
their existence, and are again in thought among the dear ones at home.
Retiring to some quiet place apart from their comrades, they read
through their letters again and again, and it is not till every little
item is got by heart, that the letters are folded up and put away, to
be re-read over and over again until the next batch arrive.
Jack, of course, had heard much of his family from his brother, but
the long letters of his father and mother, the large, scrawling
handwriting of his little brothers and sisters, brought them before
him far more vividly than any account could have done. Enclosed in his
father's letter was one with a Russian postmark, and this Jack found
was from Count Preskoff. It had been written six weeks after he had
left them, and had, curiously enough, arrived in England on the very
day after his own letter had reached home. The count wrote expressing
their anxiety regarding him, and their earnest hopes that he had
effected his escape. He said that his wife and daughters diligently
read every paper they could get from end to end, but having seen no
notice of the capture of two young Englishmen in disguise, they
entertained strong hopes that their friends had effected their escape.
The count said he was sure that Jack would be glad to hear that things
in Russia looked brighter; that it was rumored that the Emperor
Alexander intended on the occasion of his coronation to proclaim a
general emancipation of the serfs, and that other measures of reform
would follow. The party of progress were strong in the councils of the
new monarch. The decree for his own banishment from court had been
cancelled, and he was on the point of starting for St. Petersburg with
his wife and daughters. A personal friend of his own had been
appointed commandant of Berislav, and the late deputy commandant had
been sent to join his regiment in the Crimea. The countess and his
daughters were well, and Olga was studying English. He said that when
the war was over he intended with his family to make a tour through
the capitals of Europe, and hoped that they should see Jack in
England. This was very welcome news, and Jack returned to the naval
camp at the front in high glee.
One morning a lieutenant named Myers, asked Jack if he would like to
accompany him on a reconnaissance, which he heard that a party of the
Sardinian cavalry were going to push some little distance up the Baida
Valley. Jack said that he would like it very much if he could borrow a
pony. Mr. Myers said that he could manage this for him, and at once
went and obtained the loan of a pony from another officer who was just
going down into the battery. A quarter of an hour afterwards, having
taken the precaution to put some biscuits and cold meat into their
haversacks, and to fill their flasks with rum and water, they started
and rode across the plain to the Sardinian camp.
The lieutenant had obtained the news of the proposed reconnaissance
from an officer with whom he was acquainted on the Sardinian staff.
The news, however, had been kept secret, as upon previous occasions so
many officers off duty had accompanied these reconnaissances as to
constitute an inconvenience. On the present occasion the secret had
been so well kept that only some four or five pleasure-seekers had
assembled when the column, consisting of 400 cavalry, started.
Jack, accustomed only to the flat plains of southern and western
Russia, was delighted with the beauty of the valley through which they
now rode. It was beautifully wooded, and here and there Tartar
villages nestled among the trees. These had long since been deserted
by the inhabitants, and had been looted by successive parties of
friends and foes, of everything portable.
Presently they turned out of the valley they had first passed through
and followed a road over a slope into another valley, similar to the
first. For an hour they rode on, and then some distance ahead of the
column they heard the report of a shot.
"The Cossacks have got sight of us," Mr. Myers said. "We shall soon
learn if the Russians have any troops in the neighborhood."
Presently a scattered fire was opened from the walls of a country
house, standing embowered in trees on an eminence near what appeared
to be the mouth of the valley. The officer in command of the party
dismounted one of the squadrons, and sent the men up in skirmishing
order against the house. Two other squadrons trotted down the valley,
and the rest remained in reserve. A sharp musketry conflict went on
for a short time around the chateau. Then the Sardinians made a rush,
and their shouts of triumph and the cessation of musketry proclaimed
At the same moment a soldier rode back from the cavalry that had gone
up the valley, to say that a strong body of the enemy's horse were
approaching across the plain. The order was given for a general
advance, and the cavalry trotted down the valley to join the party in
"Now, Mr. Archer," Lieutenant Myers said, "the best thing for us to do
will be to ride forward to that house up there. See, the attacking
party are coming back to their horses. We ought to have a good view
over the plain, and shall see the fight between the Sardinians and the
enemy. Besides, we may pick up some loot."
They soon reached the house, and, tying up their horses, entered. It
was a fine chateau, handsomely furnished, but short as was the time
that the Sardinians had held possession, they had already tumbled
everything into confusion in their search for plunder. Tables and
couches had been upset, closets and chiffoniers burst open with the
butt-ends of the swords or with the discharge of a pistol into the
lock. Looking-glasses had been smashed, valuable vases lay in
fragments on the floor, bottles of wine whose necks had been hastily
knocked off stood on the table. In the courtyard were signs of strife.
Three or four Cossacks and two Sardinian horsemen lay dead.
"We will go out to the terrace in front of the house," Mr. Myers said.
"From that we ought to have a view over the country."
Owing, however, to the trees which grew around, they were obliged to
advance 100 yards or so from the house before they could see the
plain. Then some half-mile out they saw the blue mass of Sardinian
cavalry advancing by squadrons. Still farther two bodies of Russian
horse, each nearly equal in strength to the Italians, were seen. There
was a movement among the Sardinian horse. They formed into two bodies
and dashed at the Russians. There was a cloud of dust, swords could be
seen flashing in the sun, a confused melee for a minute or two, and
then the Russians broke and rode across the plain, pursued by the
"A very pretty charge," Mr. Myers said. "Now we'll go in and look at
the house. It will be fully half an hour before they return again."
They went in and wandered from room to room. The place had evidently
been tenanted until quite lately. Articles of woman's work lay upon
the table. A canary bird was singing in his cage. A fire burnt in the
kitchen, and a meal was evidently in course of preparation when the
first alarm had been given. The officers wandered from room to room,
and collected a number of little trifles to take home as remembrances,
small pictures of the Greek saints, such as are found in every Russian
house, a little bronze statuette, two or three small but handsomely
bound books, a couple of curious old plates; and Jack took possession,
as a present for his elder sister, of a small work-box beautifully
fitted up. Having made two bundles of their plunder, they prepared to
go out again to see if the Sardinians were returning, when Jack,
looking out of the window, uttered an exclamation of surprise and
alarm. One of the thick fogs which are so common in the Black Sea, and
on the surrounding coasts, had suddenly rolled down upon them, and it
was difficult to see five yards from the window. Jack's exclamation
was echoed by Mr. Myers.
"This is a nice business!" the latter exclaimed. "We had better find
our ponies and make our way down into the valley at once. Seeing how
thick the fog has come on, the Sardinians may not return here at all."
So saying, they hurried to the spot where they had tied up their
ponies, and, leading them by the reins, descended into the valley.
"The fog is getting thicker and thicker," Mr. Myers said. "I cannot
see three yards before me. We must listen for them as they pass, and
then join them, although it's by no means impossible that we may be
received with a shot."
Half an hour passed, and they grew more and more anxious. Another
half-hour, and still no sound was heard.
"I do not think they can possibly have passed without our seeing them,
Mr. Archer. The valley is a quarter of a mile wide, but we should be
sure to hear the trampling of the horses and the jingling of the
"Yes, sir, I'm sure they have not passed since we got here. But they
may possibly have seen the fog coming on and have ridden rapidly back,
and passed before we came down, or they may have gone round by the
mouth of the valley parallel to this, which we left to cross into this
"That is just what I have been thinking." Mr. Myers said. "What do you
think we had better do? It is quite impossible that we can find our
way back through such a fog as this."
"Quite impossible, sir," Jack said. "If we were to move from where we
are, we should lose all idea of our bearings in three minutes, and
should be as likely to go into the plain as up the valley."
"It's a most awkward position," Mr. Myers said anxiously. "Now, Mr.
Archer, you have had some sort of experience of this kind before. Tell
me frankly what you think is the best thing to be done."
"I have been thinking it over, sir, for the last half, hour," Jack
said, "and it appears to me that the best thing to do would be for me
to find my way up to the house again. I can't well miss that, as we
came straight down hill. I will bring back two of those Cossacks'
cloaks and lances. Then we had better move about till we come on a
clump of trees, and make ourselves as comfortable there as we can.
These fogs last, as you know, sometimes for two or three days. When it
gets clear, whether it is to-day or to-morrow, we will look out and
see whether there are any of the enemy about. Of course, as they know
the way, they can come back in the fog. If we see any of them, we must
put on the Cossack's cloaks, take their lances, and boldly ride off.
They are always galloping about in pairs all over the country; so that
we shall attract no attention."
"But if they catch us," the lieutenant said, "we shall be liable to be
shot as spies."
"I suppose we shall, sir," Jack answered; "but I would rather run the
risk of being shot as a spy than the certainty of being caught as a
naval officer, and imprisoned till the war is over."
"Well, Mr Archer, I certainly can suggest nothing better," the
lieutenant said. "Will you go up, then, and, get the cloaks you speak
Leaving his pony with the lieutenant, Jack made his way up the hill.
Fortunately, in their descent they had followed a small track worn by
persons going to and from the chateau from the valley, and he had,
therefore, but little difficulty in finding the house. He paused when
he reached the courtyard, for he heard voices in the chateau.
Listening attentively, he discovered that they were Russians, no doubt
some of the party who had been driven thence by the Sardinians, and
who had, upon the retirement of the latter, ridden straight back from
the plain. Fortunately, the fog was so thick that there was no
probability whatever of his movements being discovered, and he
therefore proceeded to strip off two of the long coats, reaching
almost down to the heels, which form the distinctive Cossack dress,
from the dead men. He took possession also of their caps, their
bandoliers for cartridges, worn over one shoulder, and of their
carbines and lances, and then retraced his steps down the hill to his
companion. Leading their ponies, they wandered aimlessly through the
fog for a considerable time before they came to some trees.
"If you will hold my horse, sir," Jack said, "I will just look round,
and see if this is a small wood. I shall lose you before I have gone a
yard, so when you hear me whistle, please whistle back, but not loud,
for there may be enemies close by for aught I know. I thought I heard
voices just now."
Searching about, Jack found that the clump of trees extended for some
little distance. Returning to the lieutenant, they entered the wood,
and moved a little way among the trees, so as to be out of sight if
the fog lifted suddenly. Then they loosened the saddle-girths,
gathered some sticks and lit a fire, and using the Cossack coats for
rugs, began to discuss the meal they had brought with them.
"If the Russians really advance again, and get between us and
Balaklava, I do not see how on earth we are to pass through them," Mr.
"No, sir, I don't think we could," Jack answered. "I should propose
that we make a wide sweep round so as to come down upon the shore some
distance away. As you know, boats from the ships often land at some of
the deserted places along there in search of loot; so that we ought to
be able to be taken off. If, when we are riding, we come upon any
Russian troops suddenly, so that we cannot move away in any other
direction without exciting suspicion, you must put a good face on it.
My Russian is good enough to pass muster as a Cossack. All we have to
do is to avoid any of these fellows, for they would detect at once
that I did not belong to them."
"Well, Mr. Archer, you take things very coolly, and I hope you will
get us out of the scrape we have got into. If I had been by myself, I
should have ridden up and surrendered to the first Russians I saw."
"That would have been the best way, sir, had it not been for those
poor beggars having been killed up above there; for in our naval dress
we could not have hoped to have escaped. As it is, if we have any
luck, we shall soon be back at Balaklava again."
A FORTUNATE STORM
The fog seemed to get thicker and thicker as the day went on. At
nightfall, when it became evident that no move could be made before
morning, they gave a biscuit to each of their ponies, cut some grass
and laid it before them, and then, wrapping themselves in the Cossack
cloaks to keep off the damp fog, were soon asleep. At day-break the
fog was still thick, but as the sun rose it gradually dispersed it,
and they were shortly able to see up the valley. They found that in
their wandering in the mist they must have moved partly in a circle,
for they were still little more than a quarter of a mile from the
point where they had left it to ascend to the chateau. Round this they
could see many soldiers moving about. Looking up the valley, they
perceived lines of horses, picqueted by a village but a few hundred
"Those were the voices I thought I heard, no doubt, when we first came
here," Jack said. "It's lucky we found these trees, for if we had
wandered about a little longer, we might have stumbled into the middle
of them. Now, sir, we had better finish the biscuits we put aside for
breakfast, and be off. It is quite evident the direct way to the camp
is close to us."
Saddling up their horses, and putting on the Cossack black sheepskin
caps and long coats, and taking the lances and carbines, the latter of
which were carried across the saddle before them, they mounted their
ponies and rode off, quitting the wood at such a point that it formed
a screen between them and the cavalry in the distance, until they had
gone well down the valley. They were unnoticed, or at any rate,
unchallenged by the party at the chateau, and, issuing from the
valley, rode out into the open country.
Far out in the plain they saw several Russians moving about, and
judged that these were occupied in searching those who had fallen in
the cavalry fight of the preceding day. They did not approach them,
but turning to the right, trotted briskly along, skirting the foot of
the hills. They passed through two or three Tartar villages whose
inhabitants scarcely glanced at them, so accustomed were they to the
sight of small parties of Cossacks riding hither and thither.
In one, which stood just at the mouth of the valley which they had
determined to enter, as a road running up it seemed to indicate that
it led to some place, perhaps upon the sea-shore, they found several
Russian soldiers loitering about. Lieutenant Myers would have checked
his pony, but Jack rode unhesitatingly forward. An officer came out of
one of the cottages.
"Any news?" he asked.
"None," Jack said. "The enemy's horse came out yesterday, through the
Baida valley, but we beat them back again."
"Where are you going?" the Russian asked.
"Down towards the sea," Jack answered, "to pick up stragglers who land
to plunder. A whole sotina is coming down. They will be here
presently," so saying, with a wave of his hand, he resumed his way up
the valley, Lieutenant Myers having ridden on, lest any questions
should be addressed to him. The road mounted steadily, and after some
hours' riding they crossed a brow, and found themselves at the head of
a valley opening before them, and between the cliffs at its end they
could see the sea.
They could scarcely restrain a shout of joy, and, quickening their
speed, rode rapidly down the valley. Presently they perceived before
them a small village lying on the sea-shore, to the left of which
stood a large chateau, half hidden among trees.
"Do you think it's safe to ride in?" Mr. Myers asked.
"Most of these villages have been found deserted, sir," Jack said, "by
our fellows when they landed. I'm afraid we are beyond the point to
which they come, for I should think we must be twenty miles from
Balaklava. However, there are not likely to be any troops here, and we
needn't mind the Tartars."
They found, as they expected, that the village was wholly deserted,
and, riding through it, they dismounted at the chateau. The doors were
fastened, but, walking round it, they perceived no signs of life, and,
breaking a window, they soon effected an entrance.
They found that the house, which was of great size and evidently
belonged to a Russian magnate, was splendidly furnished, and that it
had so far not been visited by any parties from the ships. Some fine
pictures hung on the walls, choice pieces of statuary were scattered
here and there, tables of malachite and other rare stones stood about,
and Eastern carpets covered the floors.
"We are in clover now, sir," Jack said, "and if we could but charter a
ship, we should be able to make a rich prize. But as our ponies can
only carry us, I'm afraid that all these valuables are worthless to
"I'd give the whole lot of them," the lieutenant said, "for a good
meal. At any rate, we are sure to find something for the ponies."
In the stables behind the house were great quantities of forage and
the ponies soon had their fill.
The officers, taking some corn, of which also there was an abundance,
hammered a quantity between two flat stones, and moistening the rough
flour so obtained, with water, made two flat cakes, with which, baked
over a wood fire, they satisfied their hunger. A consultation was held
while they ate their meal, and it was agreed that as the place was
evidently beyond the range of boats from Balaklava, they had better
ride along the cliffs till they reached some village, where, as they
would find from the state of the houses, parties were in the habit of
After a couple of hours' stay to give the horses time to rest, they
again saddled up and took the road along the coast. After riding two
miles along the edge of the cliffs, they simultaneously checked their
horses, as, upon mounting a slight rise, they saw before them the
tents of a considerable party of Russian soldiers. As they had paused
the moment their heads came above the level, they were themselves
unobserved, and turning, they rode back to the chateau they had
quitted, where, having made their ponies comfortable, they prepared to
pass the night. There were plenty of luxurious beds, and they slept
profoundly all night. In the morning they went down to the sea. Not a
vestige of a boat was to be seen, and they began to question whether
it would not be possible to make a small raft, and to paddle along the
foot of the cliffs.
"We need not trouble about that now," Lieutenant Myers said, "for,
unless I am mistaken, we're going to have a regular Black Sea gale in
an hour or two. The wind is freshening fast, and the clouds banking
The lieutenant was not mistaken. In an hour the wind was blowing in
furious gusts, and the sea breaking heavily in the little bay.
Having nothing to do, they sat under the shelter of a rock, and
watched the progress of the gale. The wind was blowing dead along the
shore, and grew fiercer and fiercer. Three hours passed, and then
Lieutenant Myers leaped to his feet.
"See," he said, "there is a boat coming round the point!"
It was so. Driving before the gale was a ship's boat, a rag of sail
was set, and they could see figures on board.
"She is making in here!" the lieutenant exclaimed. "Let us run down
and signal to them to beach her at that level spot just in front of
the village. No doubt it is some ship's boat which came out to picnic
at one of the villages near Balaklava, and they have been blown along
the coast and have been unable to effect a landing."
The boat's head was now turned towards shore, the sail lowered, and
the oars got out. So high was the sea already, that the spectators
feared every moment she would be swamped, but she was well handled,
and once in the little bay the water grew smoother, and she soon made
her way to the spot where the officers were standing. The latter were
astonished when the men leaped out instantly, and, without a word,
rushed at them, and in a moment both were levelled to the ground by
blows of stretchers. When they recovered from the shock and
astonishment, they found the sailors grouped round them.
"Hallo!" Jack exclaimed in astonishment, "Mr. Simmonds, is that you?
What on earth are you knocking us about like that for?"
"Why, Jack Archer!" exclaimed the officer addressed, "where on earth
did you come from? and what are you masquerading as a Cossack for? We
saw you here, and of course took you for an enemy. I thought you were
up at the front."
"So we were," Jack replied, "but, as you see, we are here now. This is
Lieutenant Myers, of the 'Tartar.'"
"I'm awfully sorry!" Mr. Simmonds said, holding out his hand, and
helping them to their feet.
"It was not your fault," Mr. Myers answered. "We forgot all about our
Cossack dresses. Of course you supposed that we were enemies. It is
fortunate indeed for us that you came here. But I fear you must put to
sea again. There is a Russian camp two miles off on the hill, and the
boat is sure to have been seen."
"It will be awkward," Lieutenant Simmonds said, looking at the sky,
"for it is blowing tremendously. I think, though, that it is breaking
already. These Black Sea gales do not often last long. At any rate, it
would be better to take our chance there than to see the inside of a
"If you send a man along the road to that crest," Lieutenant Myers
suggested, "he will see them coming, and if we all keep close to the
boat, we may get out of gunshot in time."
A sailor was accordingly despatched up the hill. The instant he
reached the top he was seen to turn hastily, and to come running back
at full speed.
"Now, lads," Mr. Simmonds said, "put your shoulders to her. Now, all
together, get her into the water, and be ready to jump in and push off
when Atkins arrives."
When the sailor was still a hundred yards away the head of a column of
Russian infantry appeared over the crest. When they saw the boat they
gave a shout, and breaking, ran down the hill at full speed. Before
they reached the village, however, Atkins had leaped into the boat,
and with a cheer the men ran her out into the surf, and scrambled in.
"Out oars, lads, and row for your lives!" Mr. Simmonds said, and, with
steady strokes the sailors drove their boat through the waves.
The Russians opened fire the instant they reached the beach, but the
boat was already 150 yards away, and although the bullets fell thickly
round, no one was hit.
"I think, Mr. Myers," Lieutenant Simmonds said, "we had better lay-to,
before we get quite out of shelter of the bay. With steady rowing we
can keep her there, and we shall be out of range of the Russians."
Mr. Myers assented, and for two hours the men, rowing their utmost,
kept the boat stationary, partly sheltered by the cliffs at the mouth
of the bay. The Russians continued to fire, but although the boat was
not wholly beyond their range, and the bullets sometimes fell near,
these were for the most part carried to leeward by the wind, and not a
single casualty occurred.
"The wind is falling fast," Lieutenant Simmonds said. "We could show a
rag of canvas outside now. We had best make a long leg out to sea, and
then, when the wind goes down, we can make Balaklava."
For four or five hours the boat was buffeted in the tremendous seas,
but gradually, as the wind went down, these abated, and after running
twenty miles off the land, the boat's head was turned, and she began
to beat back to Balaklava. It was eleven o'clock that night before
they reached the "Falcon," officers and men completely worn out with
Jack found to his satisfaction that no report of his being missing had
been received by the captain, and next morning at daybreak he and
Lieutenant Myers walked up to camp, regretting the loss of their
ponies, which would, however, they were sure, be found by the Russians
long ere they finished the stores of provender within their reach.
Upon reaching camp they found that their absence had not been noticed
until the afternoon of the second day of their absence. They had been
seen to ride away together, and when in the evening they were found to
be absent, it was supposed that they had gone down to Balaklava and
slept there. When upon the following day they were still missing, it
was supposed that the admiral had retained them for duty on board
ship. The storm, which had scattered everything, had put them out of
the thoughts of the commanding officer, and it was only that morning
that, no letter respecting them having been received, he was about to
write to their respective captains to inquire the cause of their
absence. This was now explained, and as they had been detained by
circumstances altogether beyond their control, they escaped without a
reprimand, and were indeed warmly congratulated upon the adventures
they had passed through.
In the meantime the cannonade had been going on very heavily in front.
The Russian outworks were showing signs of weakness after the
tremendous pounding they were receiving. The French were pushing their
trenches close up to the Malakoff, and upon both sides the soldiers
were busy with pick and shovel. On the night of the 30th August a
tremendous explosion took place, a Russian shell exploding in a French
ammunition wagon, which blew up, killing and wounding 150 officers and
On the following night the naval brigade astonished the camp by giving
private theatricals. The bill was headed "Theatre Royal, Naval
Brigade. On Friday evening, 31st August, will be performed, 'Deaf as a
Post,' to be followed by 'The Silent Woman,' the whole to conclude
with a laughable farce, entitled 'Slasher and Crasher.' Seats to be
taken at seven o'clock. Performance to commence precisely at eight.
God save the Queen. Rule Britannia." The scenes were furnished from
H.M.S. "London." The actors were all sailors of the brigade, the
ladies' parts being taken by young boatswains' mates. Two thousand
spectators closely packed were present, and the performance was
immensely enjoyed in spite of the fact that the shell from the Russian
long-range guns occasionally burst in the neighborhood of the theatre.
The French had now pushed forward their trenches so far that from
their front sap they could absolutely touch the abattis of the
Malakoff. On the 3d the Russians made a sortie, and some heavy
fighting took place in the trenches. The time was now at hand when the
last bombardment was to commence. The French began it early on the
morning of the 5th. They had now got no less than 627 guns in
position, while the English had 202. The news that it was to commence
was kept a profound secret, and few of the English officers knew what
was about to take place. Our own trenches were comparatively empty,
while those of the French were crowded with men who kept carefully out
of sight of the enemy.
Suddenly three jets of earth and dust sprung into the air. The French
had exploded three mines, and at the signal a stream of fire three
miles in length ran from battery to battery, as the whole of their
guns opened fire. The effect of this stupendous volley was terrible.
The iron shower ploughed up the batteries and entrenchments of the
Russians, and crashed among the houses far behind. In a moment the
hillside was wreathed with smoke. With the greatest energy the French
worked their guns, and the roar was continuous and terrible.
For a time the Russians seemed paralyzed by this tremendous fire;
lying quietly in their sheltered subterranean caves, they had no
thought of what was preparing for them, and the storm which burst upon
them took them wholly by surprise. Soon, however, they recovered from
their astonishment, and steadily opened fire in return. The English
guns now joined their voices to the concert, and for two hours the
storm of fire continued unabating on both sides.
After two hours and a half the din ceased, the French artillery-men
waiting to allow their guns to cool. At ten o'clock the French again
exploded some mines, and for two hours renewed their cannonade as
hotly as ever. The Russians could be seen pouring troops across the
bridge over the harbor from their camps on the north side, to resist
the expected attack. From twelve to five the firing was slack. At that
hour the French again began their cannonade as vigorously as before.
When darkness came on, and accurate firing at the enemy's batteries
was no longer possible, the mortars and heavy guns opened fire on the
place. The sky was streaked with lines of fire as the heavy shells
described their curves, bursting with heavy explosions over the town.
Presently a cheer rose from the spectators who thronged the crest of
the bill, for flames were seen bursting out from one of the Russian
frigates. Higher and higher they rose, although by their light the
Russians could be perceived working vigorously to extinguish them. At
last they were seen to be leaving the ship. Soon the flames caught the
mast and rigging, and the pillar of fire lit up the whole town and
surrounding country. Not a moment did our fire slacken, but no
answering flash now shot out from the Russian lines of defence. All
night the fire continued, to prevent the enemy from repairing damages.
The next morning the English played the principal part in the attack,
our batteries commencing at daylight, and continuing their fire all
day. The Russians could be seen to be extremely busy. Hitherto they
had believed that the allies would never be able to take the town; but
the tremendous fire which the allies had now opened, and the close
approach of the French to the Malakoff, had clearly shaken their
confidence at last.
Large quantities of stores were transported during the day to the
north side, and on the heights there great numbers of men were seen to
be laboring at fortifications. The Russian army in the field was
observed to be moving towards Inkerman, and it was believed that it
was about to repeat the experiment of the Tchernaya and to make a
desperate effort to relieve the town by defeating the allied armies in
All that night the bombardment continued without intermission, the
troops in the trenches keeping up a heavy musketry fire upon the
enemy's works, to prevent them from repairing damages in the dark.
The next day was a repetition of those which had gone before it. The
Russians replied but seldom, and occasionally when the smoke blew
aside, it could be seen that terrible damage was being inflicted on
the Russian batteries. At dusk the cannonade ceased, the shell
bombardment took place, and at eleven a tremendous explosion occurred
in the town.
The Russians from time to time lit up the works with fire-balls and
carcasses, evidently fearing a sudden night attack. During the day a
great council of war was held; and as orders were sent to the surgeons
to send all the patients in the hospital down to Balaklava, and to
prepare for the reception of wounded, it was known that the attack
would take place next day.
Although the Russian fire in reply to the bombardment had been
comparatively slight, from the 3d to the 6th we had three officers and
forty-three men killed; three officers and 189 men wounded.
During these days Jack had been on duty in the batteries, and the
sailors had taken their full part in the work.
There was some disappointment that night in the naval camp when it was
known by the issue of the divisional orders that the sailors were not
to be engaged in the assault. Jack, however, aroused the indignation
of his tent-mates by saying frankly that he was glad that they were
not going to share in the attack.
"It is all very well," he said, "to fight when you have some chance of
hitting back, but to rush across ground swept by a couple of hundred
guns is no joke; and to be potted at by thousands of fellows in
shelter behind trenches. One knows what it was last time. The French
send 12,000 men to attack a battery, we try to carry an equally strong
place with 1000. If I were ordered, of course I should go; but I tell
you fairly, I don't care about being murdered, and I call it nothing
short of murder to send 1000 men to attack such a position as that. We
used to say that an Englishman could lick three Frenchmen, but we
never did it in any battle I ever heard of. Our general seems to think
that an Englishman can lick ten Russians, although he's in the open,
and they're behind shelter, and covered by the fire of any number of
pieces of artillery."
"But we're certain to get in to-morrow, Jack."
"Are we?" Jack questioned; "so every one said last time. It's all very
well for the French, who are already right under the guns of the
Malakoff, and have only twenty yards to run. When they get in and
drive the Russians out, there they are in a big circular fort, just as
they were in the Mamelon, and can hold their own, no matter how many
men the Russians bring up to retake it. We've 300 yards to run to get
into the Redan, and when we get in where are we? Nowhere. Just in an
open work where the Russians can bring their whole strength down upon
us. I don't feel at all sure we're going to take the place to-morrow."
"Why, Archer, you're a regular croaker!" one of the others said. "We
shall have a laugh at you to-morrow evening."
"I hope you will," Jack said; "but I have my doubts. I wish to-morrow
was over, I can tell you. The light division are, as usual, to bear
the brunt of it, and the 33d will do their share. Harry has had good
luck so far, but it will be a hotter thing to-morrow than anything he
has gone into yet, unless indeed the bombardment of the last three
days has taken all heart out of the Russians. Well, let's turn in, for
its bitterly cold to-night, and I for one don't feel disposed for
THE CAPTURE OF SEBASTOPOL
The morning of the 8th of September was bitterly cold, and a keen wind
blowing from the town raised clouds of dust.
The storming parties were to be furnished by the light and second
divisions. The first storming party of the light division was to
consist of 160 men of the 97th regiment, who were to form in rear of a
covering party of 100 men, furnished by the second battalion, Rifle
brigade. They were to carry ladders for descending into the ditch of
the Redan. Behind them were to come 200 men of the 97th and 300 of the
90th. The supports consisted of 750 men of the 19th and 88th
Therefore the assault was to be made by about 750 men, with an equal
body in support, the remainder of the light division being in reserve.
The covering party of the second division consisted of 100 men of the
3d Buffs; the storming party, with ladders, of 160 of the 3d Buffs,
supported by 260 of the 3d Buffs, 300 of the 41st, with 200 of the
62d, and 100 of the 41st. The rest of the second division were in
The first and Highland divisions were to be formed in the third
The orders were that the British attack was not to commence until the
French had gained possession of the Malakoff. This they did with but
slight loss. The storming columns were immensely strong, as 30,000 men
were gathered in their trenches for the attack upon the Malakoff. This
was effected almost instantaneously.
Upon the signal being given, they leaped in crowds from the advanced
trench, climbed over the abattis, descended the ditch and swarmed up
the rugged slope in hundreds.
The Russians, taken wholly by surprise, vainly fired their cannon, but
ere the men could come out from their underground caves, the French
were already leaping down upon them. It was a slaughter rather than a
fight, and in an incredibly short time the Malakoff was completely in
the possession of the French. In less than a minute from the time they
leaped from the trenches their flag floated on the parapet.
The Russians, recovered from their first surprise, soon made
tremendous attempts to regain their lost position, and five minutes
after the French had entered, great masses of Russians moved forward
to dispute its possession. For seven hours, from twelve to dusk, the
Russians strove obstinately to recover the Malakoff, but the masses of
men which the French poured in as soon as it was captured, enabled
them to resist the assaults.
At length, when night came on, the Russian general, seeing that the
tremendous slaughter which his troops were suffering availed nothing,
withdrew them from the attack.
As the French flag appeared on the Malakoff, the English covering
parties leaped from the trenches, and rushed forward. As they did so a
storm of shot and shell swept upon them, and a great number of men and
officers were killed as they crossed the 250 yards between the
trenches and the Redan. This work was a salient, that is to say a work
whose centre is advanced, the two sides meeting there at an angle. In
case of the Redan it was a very obtuse angle, and the attacks should
have been delivered far up the sides, as men entering at the angle
itself would be exposed to the concentrated fire of the enemy behind
the breastworks which ran across the broad base of the triangle. The
projecting angle was, however, of course the point nearest to the
English lines, and, exposed as they were to the sweeping fire of the
enemy while crossing the open, both columns of assault naturally made
for this point.
The Russian resistance was slight, and the stormers burst into the
work. The abattis had been torn to pieces by the cannonade, and the
men did not wait for the ladders, but leapt into the ditch and
scrambled up on the other side.
The Russians within ran back, and opened a fire from their traverses
and works in the rear. As the English troops entered, they halted to
fire upon the enemy, instead of advancing upon them. The consequence
was that the Russians, who were rapidly reinforced, were soon able to
open a tremendous concentrated fire upon the mass of men in the angle,
and these, pressed upon by their comrades who flocked in behind them,
impeded by the numerous internal works, mixed up in confusion, all
regimental order being lost, were unable either to advance or to use
their arms with effect. In vain the officers strove by example and
shouts to induce them to advance. The men had an idea that the place
was mined, and that if they went forward they would be blown into the
air. They remained stationary, holding their ground, but refusing to
Every minute the Russians brought up fresh reserves, and a terrific
fire was concentrated upon the British. The officers, showing
themselves in front, were soon shot down in numbers, and success,
which had been in their hands at first, was now impossible.
For an hour and a half the slaughter continued, and then, as the
Russian masses poured forward to attack them, the remnant who remained
of the storming parties leaped from the parapet and made their way as
best they could through the storm of bullet and shot, back to the
The fight had lasted an hour and three quarters, and in that time we
had lost more men than at Inkerman. Our loss was 24 officers and 119
men killed; 134 officers, and 1897 men wounded. Had the regiments
engaged been composed of the same materials as those who won the
heights of the Alma, the result might have been different, although
even in that case it is questionable whether the small force told off
for the assault would have finally maintained itself against the
masses which the Russians brought up against them. But composed as
they were of young troops, many being lads sent off to the front a few
weeks after being recruited, the success of such an attack, so
managed, was well-nigh impossible from the first.
It was a gloomy evening in the British camps. We were defeated, while
the French were victorious. The fact, too, that the attack had failed
in some degree owing to the misconduct of the men added to the effect
of the failure. It was said that the attack was to be renewed next
morning, and that the Guards and Highland Brigade were to take part in
it. Very gloomy was the talk over the tremendous loss which had taken
place among the officers. From the manner in which these had exposed
themselves to induce their men to follow them, their casualties had
been nearly four times as large as they should have been in proportion
to their numbers.
Jack Archer was in deep grief, for his brother had been severely
wounded, and the doctors gave no strong hopes of his life. He had been
shot in the hip, as he strove to get the men of his company together,
and had been carried to the rear just before the Russian advance drove
the last remnants of the assailants from the salient.
Jack had, with the permission of his commanding officer, gone to sit
by his brother's bedside, and to give his services generally as a
nurse to the wounded.
At eleven o'clock the hut was shaken by a tremendous explosion,
followed a few minutes afterwards by another. Several of the wounded
officers begged Jack to go to Cathcart's Hill, to see what was doing.
Jack willingly complied, and found numbers of officers and men
hastening in the same direction. A lurid light hung over Sebastopol,
and it was evident that something altogether unusual was taking place.
When he reached the spot from which he could obtain a view of
Sebastopol, a wonderful sight met his eye. In a score of places the
town was on fire. Explosion after explosion followed, and by their
light, crowds of soldiers could be seen crossing the bridge. Hour
after hour the grandeur of the scene increased, as fort after fort was
blown up by the Russians. At four o'clock the whole camp was shaken by
a tremendous explosion behind the Redan, and a little later the
magazines of the Flagstaff and Garden batteries were blown up, and the
whole of the Russian fleet, with the exception of the steamers, had
disappeared under the water, scuttled by their late owners. At
half-past five two of the great southern forts, the Quarantine and
Alexander, were blown up, and soon flames began to ascend from Fort
The Russian steamers were all night busy towing boats laden with
stores, from the south to the north side, and when their work was
done, dense columns of smoke were seen rising from the decks. At seven
o'clock in the morning the whole of the Russian troops were safely
across the bridge, which was then dismembered and the boats which
composed it taken over to the north side. By this time Sebastopol was,
from end to end, a mass of flames, and by nightfall nothing save a
heap of smoking ruins, surrounded by shattered batteries, remained of
the city which had, for so many months, kept at bay the armies of
England and France.
All through the night Jack Archer had travelled backwards and forwards
between the crest of the hill and the hospital; for so great was the
interest of the wounded in what was taking place that he could not
resist their entreaties, especially as he could do nothing for his
brother, who was lying in a quiet, half-dreamy state.
The delight of the English army at the fall of the south side of
Sebastopol was greatly tempered by the knowledge that it was due to
the capture of the Malakoff by the French. Their own share in the
attack having terminated by a defeat, and the feeling which had been
excited by the fact that the Guards and Highlanders, who had taken no
part whatever in the trench-work during the winter, and who were in a
high state of efficiency, should have been kept in reserve, while the
boy battalions bore the whole brunt of the attack, found angry
expression among the men.
All that day the allied armies remained quiescent. It was useless to
attempt to occupy the burning town, and the troops might have been
injured by the explosions which took place from time to time of stores
The Zouaves, however, and our own sailors made their way down in
considerable numbers, and returned laden with loot from houses which
had so far escaped the conflagration.
Happily the success of the French, and our own failure, did not create
any feeling of unpleasantness between the troops of the two nations.
As the remnants of the French regiments, engaged in the Malakoff,
marched in the morning to their camps, the second division was drawn
up on parade. As the leading regiment of Zouaves came along, the
English regiment nearest to them burst into a hearty cheer, which was
taken up by the other regiments as the French came along, and as they
passed, the English presented arms to their brave allies and the
officers on both sides saluted with their swords.
The next day the officers thronged down to see the ground where the
fighting had taken place. Around the Malakoff the ground was heaped
with dead. Not less had been the slaughter outside the work known as
the Little Redan, where the French attack had been repulsed with
The houses of the portion of the town nearest the batteries were found
full of dead men who had crawled in when wounded in front. As a
considerable number of the Russian steamers of war were still floating
under the guns of their batteries on the north side, preparations were
made at once to mount two heavy guns by the water-side; but the
Russians, seeing that the last remains of their fleet would speedily
be destroyed, took matters in their own hands, and on the night of the
11th the six steamers that remained were burnt by the Russians.
After the din which had raged so fiercely for the previous four days,
and the dropping fire which had gone on for a year, the silence which
reigned was strange and almost oppressive. There was nothing to be
done. No turn in the trenches or batteries to be served, nothing to do
but to rest and to prepare for the next winter, which was now almost
A week after the fall of Sebastopol the anniversary of the battle of
Alma was celebrated. What great events had taken place since that
None of those who had rested that night on the vine-clad hill they had
won, dreamed of what was before them, or that they were soon to take
part in the greatest siege which the world has ever known. Small
indeed was the proportion of those who had fought at the Alma now
present with the army at Sebastopol. The fight of Inkerman, the mighty
wear and tear in the trenches, the deadly repulses at the Redan, and
above all, the hardships of that terrible winter, had swept away the
noble armies which had landed in the Crimea, and scarcely one in ten
of those who heard the first gun in the Alma was present at the fall
The naval camp was now broken up, the sailors returned on board ship,
and the army prepared to go into winter quarters, that is to say, to
dig deep holes under their tents, to erect sheltering walls, and in
some instances to dig complete subterranean rooms.
A week after the assault Harry Archer was carried down to Balaklava
and put on board ship. The surgeons had in vain endeavored to extract
the bullet, and were unable to give any cheering reply to Jack's
His brother might live; but they owned that his chances were slight.
It was a question of general health and constitution. If mortification
did not set in the wound might heal, and he might recover and carry
the bullet about with him all his life. Of course he had youth and
health on his side, and Jack must hope for the best. The report was
not reassuring, but they could say no more.
Weeks passed on, and the two armies lay watching each other from the
heights they occupied. At last it was determined to utilize the
magnificent fleet which had hitherto done so little. Accordingly an
expedition was prepared, whose object was to destroy the forts at
Kinburn and occupy that place, and so further reduce the sources from
which the Russians drew their food.
The sight was an imposing one, as the allied squadrons in two long
lines steamed north past the harbor of Sebastopol. The British
contingent consisted of six line-of-battle ships, seventeen steam
frigates and sloops, ten gun-boats, six mortar vessels, and nine
On board the men-of-war were 8340 infantry, and 1350 marines. The
transports carried the Royal Artillery, the medical commissariat and
transport corps, stores of all kinds, and the reserve of ammunition.
The French fleet was nearly equal in number to our own.
Steaming slowly, the great squadrons kept their course towards Odessa,
and cast anchor three miles off the town. Odessa is one of the most
stately cities of the sea; broad esplanades lined with trees, with a
background of stately mansions; terrace after terrace of fine houses
rising behind, with numbers of public buildings, barracks, palaces and
churches; stretching away on the flanks, woods dotted with villas and
Odessa possessed forts and batteries capable of defending it against
the attack of any small naval force; but these could have made no
defence whatever against so tremendous an armament as that collected
before it. With telescopes those on board were able to make out large
numbers of people walking about or driving on the promenade. Long
lines of dust along the roads showed that many of the inhabitants were
hastily leaving or were sending away valuables, while on the other
hand the glimmer of bayonets among the dust, told of the coming of
troops who were hurrying in all directions to prevent our landing.
Odessa was, however, clearly at our mercy, and considerable
controversy took place at the time as to whether the allies should not
have captured it. Being defended by batteries, it ranked as a
fortified town, and we should have been clearly justified in
destroying these, and in putting the town under a heavy contribution,
which the wealthy city could readily have paid. However, it was for
some reason decided not to do so, and after lying at anchor for five
days, the greater portion of which was passed in a thick fog, the
great fleet steamed away towards Kinburn. The entrance to the gulf
into which the Dneiper and Bug discharge themselves, is guarded by
Fort Kinburn on the one side and by Fort Nikolaev on the other, the
passage between them being about a mile across.
On the 17th fire was opened on Fort Kinburn, and although the Russians
fought bravely, they were unable to withstand the tremendous fire
poured upon them. Twenty-nine out of their seventy-one guns and
mortars were disabled, and the two supporting batteries also suffered
heavily. The barracks were set on fire, and the whole place was soon
in flames. Gradually the Russian fire ceased, and for some time only
one gun was able to answer the tremendous fire poured in upon them.
At last, finding the impossibility of further resistance, the officer
in command hoisted the white flag. The fort on the opposite shore was
blown up by the Russians, and the fleet entered the channel. The
troops were landed, and Kinburn occupied, and held until the end of
the war, and the fleet, after a reconnaissance made by a few gun-boats
up the Dneiper, returned to Sebastopol.
The winter was very dull. Exchanges of shots continued daily between
the north and south side, but with this exception hostilities were
virtually suspended; the chief incident being a tremendous explosion
of a magazine in the centre of the camp, shaking the country for miles
away, and causing a loss to the French of six officers killed and
thirteen wounded, and sixty-five men killed and 170 wounded, while
seventeen English were killed, and sixty-nine wounded. No less than
250,000 pounds of gunpowder exploded, together with mounds of shells,
carcasses and small ammunition. Hundreds of rockets rushed through the
air, shells burst in all directions over the camp, and boxes of small
ammunition exploded in every direction. The ships in the harbors of
Balaklava and Kamiesch rocked under the explosion. Mules and horses
seven or eight miles away broke loose and galloped across the country
wild with fright, while a shower of fragments fell over a circle six
miles in diameter.
On the last day of February the news came that an armistice had been
concluded. The negotiations continued for some time before peace was
finally signed. But the war was at an end, and a few days after the
armistice was signed the "Falcon" was ordered to England, to the great
delight of all on board, who were heartily sick of the long period of
The "Falcon" experienced pleasant weather until passing the Straits of
Gibraltar. Then a heavy gale set in, and for many days she struggled
with the tempest, whose fury was so great that for several hours she
was in imminent danger of foundering.
At last, however, the weather cleared, and two days later the "Falcon"
cast anchor at Spithead. The next day the crew were paid off, and the
vessel taken into dock for much-needed repairs.
Jack's father had already come down to Portsmouth, on the receipt of
his letter announcing his arrival. The day after the ship was paid off
they returned home, and Jack received a joyful greeting from his
family. They found him wonderfully grown and aged during the two years
of his absence. Whereas before he had promised to be short, he was now
above middle height. His shoulders were broad and square, his face
bronzed by sun and wind, and it was not till they heard his merry
laugh that they quite recognized the Jack who had left them.
He soon went down to the town and looked up his former schoolfellows,
and even called upon his old class-master, and ended a long chat by
expressing his earnest hope that the boys at present in his form were
better at their verses than he had been.
A month later Harry, who had quite recovered, joined the circle,
having obtained leave, and the two young fellows were the heroes of a
number of balls and parties given by the major and his friends to
celebrate their return.
Six months later Jack was again appointed to a berth in a fine
frigate, commanded by his cousin. The ship was ordered to the China
seas, where she remained until, at the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny,
she was sent to Calcutta. On their arrival there Jack found that
Captain Peel, under whom he had served before Sebastopol, was
organizing a naval brigade for service ashore. Jack at once waited
upon him, and begged to be allowed to join the brigade. His request
was complied with, and as he had now nearly served his time and passed
his examination he received an appointment as acting lieutenant,
obtaining the full rank after the fight in which the brigade were
engaged on their march up to Cawnpore. He was present at the
tremendous struggle when the relieving force under Lord Clyde burst
its way into Lucknow and carried off the garrison, and also at the
final crushing out of the rebellion at that spot.
At the conclusion of the war he rejoined his ship, and returned with
her when she finally left the station for England, after an absence of
five years. He was now three-and-twenty, and having been twice
mentioned in despatches, was looked upon as a rising young officer.
A month or two after his return he received a letter from Count
Preskoff, with whom he had, at intervals corresponded ever since his
escape from captivity. The count said that he, with the countess and
his youngest daughter, Olga, were at present in Paris. The two elder
girls had been for some years married. The count said that he
intended, after making a stay for some time in Paris, to visit
England, but invited Jack to come over to pay them a visit in Paris.
Jack gladly assented, and a few days later joined his Russian friends
at the Hotel Meurice, in the Rue Rivoli. They received him with the
greatest warmth, and he was soon upon his old terms of familiarity
with them. He found, to his great pleasure, that Olga could now speak
English fluently, and as he had forgotten a good deal of his Russian,
and had learned no French, she often acted as interpreter between him
and her parents. Jack's Russian, however, soon returned to him, and at
the end of a fortnight he was able to converse fluently in it again.
He found Olga very little altered, but she, on her part, protested
that she should not have known him again. He had thought very often of
her during the years which had passed, but although he had steadfastly
clung to the determination he had expressed to his friend Hawtry, of
some day marrying her if she would have him, he was now more alive
than before to the difference between her position and his. The
splendid apartments occupied by the count, his unlimited expenditure,
the beauty of his carriages and horses, all showed Jack the difference
between a great Russian seigneur and a lieutenant on half-pay. Feeling
that he was becoming more and more in love with Olga, he determined to
make some excuse to leave Paris, intending upon his return to apply at
once to be sent on active service.
One morning, accordingly, when alone with the count, he said to him
that he feared he should have to leave for England in a few days, and
it was probable he should shortly join his ship.
The count looked keenly at him.
"My young friend," he said, "have we been making a mistake? The
countess and I have thought that you were attached to our daughter."
"I am so, assuredly," Jack said. "I love your daughter with all my
heart, and have loved her ever since I left her in Russia. But I am
older now. I recognize the difference of position between a penniless
English lieutenant and a great Russian heiress, and it is because I
feel this so strongly that I am thinking that it is best for my own
peace of mind to leave Paris at once, and to return to England and to
embark on service again as soon as possible."
"But how about Olga's happiness?" the count said, smiling.
"I dare not think, sir," Jack said, "that it is concerned in the
"I fear, my young friend, that it is concerned, and seriously. When
you left us in Russia, Olga announced to her mother that she intended
to marry you some day, if you ever came back to ask her. Although I
would, I confess, have rather that she had married a Russian, I had so
great an esteem and affection for you, and owed you so much, that her
mother and myself determined not to thwart her inclination, but to
leave the matter to time. Olga devoted herself to the study of
English. She has, since she grew up, refused many excellent offers,
and when her mother has spoken to her on the subject, her only answer
has been, 'Mamma, you know I chose long ago.' It was to see whether
you also remained true to the affection which Olga believed you gave
her, that we have travelled west, and now that I find you are both of
one mind, you are talking of leaving us and going to sea."
"Oh, sir," Jack exclaimed, delighted, "do you really mean that you
give me permission to ask for your daughter's hand!"
"Certainly I do, Jack," the count replied. "I am quite sure that I can
trust her happiness implicitly to you. The fact that you have nothing
but your pay, matters very little. Olga will have abundance for both,
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