Wednesday, 11 July 2012

More on Inkermann

Letters in the Journal de Toulouse, 24 November 1854


From an anonymous officer

"The 4th, before the battle, the besieged having received about 50,000 reinforcements, it was decided by the Russian generals, would, the next day, sally forth, supported by an attack that would be directed against the besiegers by the Russian army in the country.
The fifth, in the morning, the Russians favoured by the fog that prevailed, marched in consiberable numbers against us and fell on  a British division, before they could be recognised, even before the sentinels could have given the alarm signal. It seems that this is the second division  of the British army, who first received the shock of the attack, All other [British] divisions ran immediately to their aid and joined battle. The struggle was well supported by 8-10, 000 English against fifty thousand Russians, until nine o'clock morning.

Right at that point, General Canrobert, bringing reinforcements arrived on the battlefield and,
putting himself at the head of a regiment of Zouaves, he burst with real French impetuosity upon the Russians. It would be difficult to give an idea of ​​the fury, the fury with which both sides fought until two o'clock in the afternoon.

Around this time, the Russians began to retreat, leaving the battlefield littered corpses. Part of the French troops pursued the Russians to the walls of Sebastopol and entered in the same city. But the were not enough, and this small  column withdrew and regained its position.

From correspondance we have analysed, approximately 5,000 Russians were killed."

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Battle of Inkerman

Two accounts publised in  the Journal de Toulouse, 23 November 1854.

Letter from a French Doctor at Constantinople.

Constantinople, November 10.

Ships arrived yesterday, from the Black Sea bringing news of a great battle fought on  the 5 on the walls of Sebastopol. The Russians, taking advantage a thick fog, attacked the English troops through a postern, while the Russian Field Army outside the City attacked on another point the division of General Bosquet. The French, who had come to the aid of British troops have repulsed the Russian column, while those of General Bosquet overthrew the troops of Admiral Mentschikoff. Thus the armies Anglo-française fought, so to speak, back to back and forced the Russians to reatret after they had suffered huge losses. 

General Lourmel pursued an  enemy column right back in to Sevastopol, was shot by a bullet in the chest and the severity of his injury did not allow taking him to Constantinople; t is  said that if his division, which drove the back Russians in the city, thad been supported would have taken it. But it  had been supposed that had no enemy troops were held in the rear, and they entered in Sevastopol, the bayonet in the kidneys of the enemy.

 A wounded Zouave from whom I got these details, said, in his expressive language: “nous leur avons fourré une tatouée, their army was much stronger than that at the Alma. On our return, we have a market of cadavers, and the British in their trenches as well.”

He estimated, probably with exaggeration, the dead and wounded Russians to 15,000 men. The allies, whose loss is not officially known, have little injured, because this fight has held almost constantly with the bayonet, and with a mutual eagerness.

The wounded, arrived yesterday here at Constantinople, after remaining in the Crimea for two days after the combat.  They said that the day after this affair, not one Russian has shown his face, that the siege works were taken with the greatest activity; that the morale of the allied army is excellent, and the health of troops also.

We were told that during the fight, Russians, boasting by travelling by carriages in the boulevards and walking on the ramparts of Sebastopol. As for me I suppose they could send their carriages, but they took care not to get in it.

Letter from an anonymous officer describing the battle of Inkerman.

6 November

Here, today, a great battle! Rhe Russians had received their reinforcements over three days: 15,000 men, said to be added to an equal number who had previously joined. The came at dawn to attack us in
our lines between Sebastopol and Balaklara and made a vigorous sortie. I write to tell you that they were turned back over the entire line with great loss. We have also suffered and lost a number of officers, but our loss is little compared to theirs.

The besieged fell unexpectedly upon our two batteries nearest to the sea; they were manned
by sailors but they were not equipped for such an attack. The men were forced back into the infantry. The Russians have spiked seven pieces, but we got in on them; then we  repulsed them, pushed them right back into the City where they were met by two battalions. With the fugitives, the retreat was sounded by the order of the general, we were not not able to, and without doubt to push on to the end.

For the duration of the battle, which was very hot, we had many officers wounded, and General de Lourmel grievously hurt by a bullet in the chest.

To the north of the City, the Russian army fell on the rear of the English, who had two generals killed and five injured. Then we emerged and the Russians were put to flight. One of our horse artillery pieces was sent in hard pursuit of the enemy when they entered a solid wood, enemy skirmishers were there, which made them suffer.

We talk about 3,400 men out of action in the two allied armies, of which around 1,600 are ours. The ship Panama will carry the wounded to Constantinople. The Russians have left, we hear, more than 6,000 cadavres on the battlefield. We evaluate their total loss has been at least ten thousand men. We had the advantage of a position and had about 40,000 men against around 70,000.  The  Russians Wanted revenge for the Alma, but I do not think they will get it very soon. They are reported to be in  the rear the positions we occupied in the preceeding days.

8 November.

I get some new details.
Russian corpses are piled in a certain gorge to the height of a man.
It seems that our 1st Division arrived and bought the rescue of English, which, with 8,000men stood head to head with more than 30,000 men.

We took the offensive and repulsed the enemy. The Zouaves, the Tirailleurs Algérien, the 7th Legere and 6th Line covered themselves with glory: they made veritable holes with the bayonet. Our troops were fierce, they made few prisoners.

Nothing new from the siege. I do not know what day the assault will be.

Letter from Danjou

Letter from Sous-Lieutenant Danjou. Journal de Toulouse, 6 November 1854.

Before Sevastopol 20 September 1854

The fire of our artillery caused huge damage in the city, and  many times fire broke out.
Sevastopol is almost all built of wood, and it will be very difficult, despite the formal intention
have been expressed by General Canrobert and Lord Raglan, to spare the unfortunate city and its people. One of these fires took terrible proportions; and it was seen a considerable distance by the
Sultan, an  English steamer, whith arrived on the morning of the 19th.

The Russian deserters, who come in large numbers our outposts, are a sad picture, and show the state of the garrison. They suffers greatly from the lack of drinking water. The stone canal [i.e. the Aquaduct] which supplied the city was cut by our soldiers uponcommencement of operations of the siege. A number of women and children presentedthemselves several times outside the city to pick up water in the neighboring sources. Our humane soldiers saw how brave they are and went themselves often fill the jugs and gourds of these unfortunates. The commander in chief, informed of this fact, gave orders to let them move up every morning to the sources of water, at agreed times. General Canrobert also reported to the Governor of Sevastopol he would leave free passage for women and children who would wish to go out of town.  This will happen once we have taken measures necessary to ensure that women can not transmit any notice to the outside. These precautions were unnecessary, because we found on one of them, who went into the South, a hidden letter addressed to the Greeks of Balaklava in which instructions were given for the city to be set on fire and  for the destruction of supplies of the allied army. This woman has was released after being questioned. But, to avert any untoward occurrence, Lord Raglan ordered that all Greeks should quit Balaklava in a period of a few hours.The orders were to be strictly executed.

It said that the taking of Sebastopol is a matter of  thebig guns. Private inquiries tend to confirm this assertion. If we do not take Sevastopol, we will destroy  it, totally; we will leave no stone upon another, if the garrison did not surrender totime. There would therefore not assault; but the walls, forts, public buildings are  mined, and an explosion could cause death of several thousand men, without profit to
the army. Is it not wiser to keep these troops the end of the campaign? Should we not meet the garrison in battle? If  not we will  have to fight him incessenatly if we want to expel the Russians in the Crimea?

Here we lack accurate information about the position of the Russians and the troops of Mentchikof
and his field army. We evaluated the Russians to be around 20,000 men, supported on Simpheropol and Batch-Serai; but he had to call to him the small garrisons that were on different points. In addition, reinforcements that he sent the Front should not be long now in arriving, and it may have, in the first
day of November, a large army under his orders will descend upon us. It will therefore be prudent to avoid any circumstance which could decrease the number of  the Allied hosts.
The prince's army corps is monitored without Mensehikoff stop by the army corps assigned to observation manded by General Bosquet. This army, consisting of 40,000 men,  called the Army of Observation, covers the north of Seveastopol, in communication with the fleet in the Bay of Belbek
and that of the Katcha, and connects right to the  besiegin army. The city is closed on all sides. all
which tries to enter or leave inevitably falls the hands of our soldiers. General Bosquet  has under him most of the horse artillery and cavalry. It is thrown out fairly advanced, and knows
all movements of the enemy. The bulk of his army is composed of two French divisions and
two British divisions.

It has often spoken of  that the Prince Menschikoff would rater blow upSevastopol and sink the
fleet rather than let them fall to hisenemies. The reports of spies confirm these fears. It is claimed that at a summons by our commander in chief, before opening fire against the city, he invited the governor of Sevastopol to surrendor. Instead the governor replied that he would reduce Sevastopol in ashes, if he could not stand againstthe attack of the allied armies.
General Canrobert sent him a new parley, to make him understand the enormity of such an act of savagery and declare that he would put the garrison to the sword if the threats
were realized. I give you all these noises, suchthey circulate in Pera.

I must also mention the new one: out of the besiegers, numbering 1,800, and accompanied
six pieces of cannon attacked us at night. This sortie, which was intended to destroy part of our work,
would have failed, and the Russians have left 600 men on the ground.

6 O’clock.
One French and one English ship arriving from the Crimea in two days.
The artillery barrage lasted for forty-eight hours without interruption, by land and sea
By land, it was discovered that the city was protected with a double wall. The Russians retaliated

They replied with all their big guns and blew up two batteries and one of our magazines. The explosion of
one of them killed  and wounded all the gunners, less 10, the and two officers were wounded.
The attack on Fort Constantine was expensive. For two days, twenty ships, including two Turks, have
cannonaded tirelessly at 1.800 meters! Almost all have suffered serious damage and several are
dismasted. The stern and grand gallery of one of our  men-of-war, the admirals Flagship
was partially removed. Admiral Hamelin, was blown off his quarter-deck, fell without injury.
At last, thestrong always answered.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Les Freres Minart

Charles Minart was born in Bergues, 19th September 1824 and entered the Ecole Militaire on 10th November 1841; promoted Sous-Lieutenant in the 27e Ligne 1st October 1843; Lieutenant in 27e 3rd May 1848; Captain 13th August 1852; Capitain-Adjutant-Major in the 27e 23rd September 1855; Chef de Bataillon 2e Regiment Tirailleurs Algerien 27th December 1861; Lieutenant Colonel 72e Ligne 1869. He commanded the 72e at Sedan (1st September 1870) and retired in 1871. He died in 1902.

Alfred Minart was born in Bergues 21st December 1828; engaged as a volunteer in the 26e Ligne 16th June 1848; passed into the 27e Ligne as corporal 18 September 1849; promoted to sergeant major 7th June 1852; Sous-Lieutenant and Porte-Drapeau 20th December 1855; Lieutenant 25th November 1857; Captain 20th June 1866. He was killed at the Battle of Sedan, 1st September 1870.

Edouard Minart was born in Bergues 19th November 1833 and engaged as a volunteer in the
64e Ligne 27th December 1850; promoted to corporal 11th September 1851; transferred to the 1e Regiment Zouaves 1st March 1852; promoted to sergeant 26th March 1855; Sous-Lieutenant in 1e Zouaves 20th June 1859. He was killed at Solferino four days later.

Letter from Captain Charles Minart, 27e Infanterie de Ligne, to his mother.


The Camp of Balaklava, one league from Sebastopol, 29 September 1854.

My dear mother,
…The 20th the entire army marched to stain the gravel of the heights of the Alma. The Russian Army, a force of 42,000 men, is on the summit of the heights under the General Menchikoff, and he flattered himself that he could hold us for fifteen days before his position. At two o'clock we were on the banks of Alma. I assure you that at first the position was very formidable.
  Here is a small description of the terrain. The Alma is a small river very hemmed in, steep banks, its width is about three to four meters, its depth of one meter. On the right bank where we were, there were vineyards and orchards, fences and dry stone walls; beyond, it was the plain. The  left bank is formed of very steep hills and  ridges. They  were all filled artillery of Russian troops. The position was very well chosen, well defended and by other troops, it would have taken longer to capture.
  The Marshal with his army, in trying to take this position, developed the following plan: The English were to effect a turning movement on the Russian right. The 2nd  French Division with the Turks must proceed along the sea and fall on the Russian left, while the rest of the army was to attack Russians in the front.
  At two o'clock the action began with the  tirailleurs fighting in the vineyards at the foot of Alma. When we heard the cannon of the English and the 2nd Division, we dropped out knapsacks and we went running up to the river. There, we each crossed the river: we climb the slope and we found oursevles on the plateau, in the beard of the Russians.
  When all the troops were reformed, we pushed the Russians over. The English gave them a terrible beating. The retreat of the enemy was in great disorder. What a pity we did not have cavalry! The English captured two cannons and two flags. Battle of the Alma is really a lucky shot, nothing can resist an army like ours. The English are good troops, with allies like these, nothing is impossible. The fleet was powerless, they enjoyed looking on, it seems that it was magical.
 While the battle lasted two hours, it gives us an immense moral and material advantage; the Russian army is demoralized and yet half of the army no longer takes a shot. The battlefield is covered with the dead of the wounded, this is a painful spectacle, but one had to close the heart and go forward. Our battalion was our all time behind or near a battery, so he received bullets and shells a-plenty. All these shots don’t make much of an effect, we salute them despite ourselves. Finally, all three of us are healthy. Edward has had his baggy pants torn by a shell-splinter but without any harm to him, and a ball grazed the thigh, but without harm.
  The Russian army is has lost 5,000 or 7,000 men killed or wounded. The English 2,000 to 2,500; the French 1,500 to 1,800… General Canrobert was very lightly wounded by a shell-splinter but he is good.
   I have had a beautiful anniversary of my birth, because you do not doubt, dear mother, putting myself in the world, thirty years ago, that for the thirtieth anniversary of my birth, I would be in the middle of the scrap. Later, of course, we take to bury the woundedon the battlefield and to aide to the wounded men. I saw many wounded Russians, almost all of whom were wounded in the head. In the beginning, when we wanted the help them, they thought we were going to finish them.

Letter from Sergeant-Major Alfred Minart 27e Infanterie de Ligne, to his mother.

At the camp of Balaklava, 24 September 1854,

My dearest Mother,
I had written you a long letter of five pages, and awaited the courier; at the moment when I had finished it, a drunk Chasseur d’Afrique lays down at the door of my tent, I put the nose out to see what is happening, at the same time, the wind blows my letter that falls dan the fue. I well-cursed this cavalryman!.
  Charles is constantly on the division for council of war which he is secretary so I do not see him. Edward is ten minutes from here. I do not see him often because he is so high perched...
  We had a terrible storm the night before last, the wind begins to batter the three tents of Colonel. He crieslike hell for someone to come to his assistance, but no one could go outside without the risk of being blown away by the storm. Luckly, the sappers had pity on him and gave him a small tent where he could spend the day.  The tents of other officers had the same fate and were blown away. Only that of Charles survived, and was quickly invaded by other officers who came to seek asylum. Other refugees went to Balaklava, hoping that myladies would let themselves be seduced by the piteous of our officers: but the ladies do not have the heart as sensitive as ours, and the conquerors returned crestfallen. I laughed comic scenes caused by the hurricane. Thecantinieres who had taken refuge in their wagons, they took the position without horses and descended into the ravines.
  On the morrow, the wind ceased and they could rebuild their homes. We are making barriers to stop the wind, and making underground houses. The government has just sent us the sheepskin overcoats, we look like vertiable Eskimos. I have a victim  of a big deception, I was proposed for promotion to second lieutenant with the number 2, because we had three vacancies, most of the rewards of Alma just arrived. I well hoped be named  a place in the depot in France. But the man proposed: indeed, if Colonel favours him, he will go far with a commission, he did appoint, but from two noncommissioned officers of the Zouaves, Division of Prince Napoleon. One of the newly promoted arrived a few days ago, they made him welcome, but he disappeared. The next day we learned that he was found dead,  from a gunshot to the heart. We do not know the motives of his act of despaire.


Letter from Corporal Edouard Minart, 1e Regiment des Zouaves, to his mother

Before the walls of Sebastopol 10th October 1854

My dearest and best mother,
 …On the 19th, after a long and very fatiguing march in grass and scrub that was waist-high, we saw Russian sharpshooters. Immediately we have put ashore bag and Nouse are in scope to cover before the main guard was going to install. In the evening, the enemy Cavalry wanted to spend, but the cannon began to shoot and it was dspersee. Le Marechal Saint-Arnaud came to see the artillery, then my battalion that supported. We started to shout "Vive le Maréchal" but the brave men told us: "Go and rest, my children, because tomorrow we will have to play a good battle, and shoutLong live the Zouaves, instead of "Vive le Maréchal! "
  Indeed, the next day, after two hours of walking, we were greeted by bullets: our sharpshooters have declined by advancing Russians. in this case, a wretch who was next to me was shot in the mouth, which broke his jaw. Another was struck in the chest and died.
  We dropped out knapsacks and we were told to lie down on our bellies behind a low rise. Bullets whistled above our heads, but I stooped not, something told me that I would not be reached. Finally, after fifteen or twenty minutes, we stood up and we were given orders to clear the enemy position. It was great struggle, and well defended with 10,000 Frenchmanagainst100,000 Russians. Finally forty-eight minutes after we reached the heights, the Russians retreated before our bayonets, and we planted the flag of the regiment on a ruined tower which dominated heights. The Marshal came to us and said "My children, we never saw anthing like it, taking sucha position in forty-eight minutes" We drew up the tents and we have two days rest. I forgot to tell you that on reaching the top, a shell splinter ripped my pants and brushed my left thigh but did not split the skin.
  Since that day, we approached Sebastopol, marching with precuation, a small journey in the bush. We have been twenty-seven hours without eating or drinking. Food is scarce, it is hoped that it will get better in two o three days, when we take Sebastopol.

Commandant Henri-Victor-Alpin Adrien

 Letter from Comamandant Henri-Victor-Alpin Adrien 6e Infanterie de Ligne, to Captain E. Joppé


Field of the Battle of the Alma

20 September

The Alma is a small river whose meridional slope is high and deeply ravine. The heights command the road to Sebastopol. The Enemy play the wind Nouse. This is to seize it. The movement consists of turning the Russian left, near the sea, the lar 2nd Division and the division of Turkey, and at the same time, their right by the English army, while the 1st and 3rd divisions french attack head on. The 4th division and division English Evans will form the reserve. The divisions should work round the flanks of the enemy will turn on at daybreak. The rest of the army left its bivouac at eleven o'clock. Towards half-past twelve the battle began on the right. The 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division has a serious struggle has support on the heights. A very lively cannonade is heard. The fue strength of our frigates Russian cavalry has Abandoner the plain. The turning movement is completed, and the left wing of the Russians is forced to fall back. During this movement, the 1st and the 3rd Division attacked the enemy's centre.
  Musketry ceded it’s main role to the artillery. The English flanking columns began their movement.The Russian artillery are engaged by a fire more deadly. The English retire and form again and fearlessly mount the assault of the battery.  Three guns remain in their power as well as a Russian General. On all sides, the Russians are forced to retreat. Covered by their artillery, they retreat by echelons. They cannot be pursued  for lack of cavalry. This is a succinct analysis of this battle, or our soldiers were admirable in elan and courage. Their fearlessness had them climb the heights over the scarps, the protection which the Russians relied heavily upon, not just contibuted to disconcert them but their precipitate retreat.
  A very sharp struggle of four hours had been necessary to come to the end. They were only about 30.000 but admirably protected by the field. Allied  army had about 50,000 men. There were 3, 410 men killed and wounded, including 1,340 French, including 70 officers, and 2,070 English. Three standard-bearers were killed, including those of the 7th and 20th Line. The four brave men who succeeded each othe carry the standard of th the 7e Line all were killed our wounded. The Finnish Riflemen, have a Tige-rifle like our do, and  have demonstrated their marksmanship too.
   To all probability, the Russians have made considerable losses more than ours, because they hurt us a lot of abandonment, a General of Division, and three of their 30-pounder guns have fallen into the hands of English. A secretary of Menchikoff was taken prisoner. The army bivouacked on the field of battle among the dead and wounded of the enemy. Bellies as they are ours, and I myself aided the transportation of a few. The regiment gathered up  over a hundred muskets abandoned by the Russians. Examination of clothing, and their equipement  and weapons of wounded proves that their army is well organized. Their clothing was coarse, but solid. Their muskets and ours are similar, yet their cartridges are protected by and contained in a strong cardboard box, which is placed in the pouch; their knapsack straps are made from buffalo leather and are four fingers wide.

Colonel Alexandre-Hippolyte le Breton

Letter from Colonel Alexandre-Hippolyte Le Breton, 74e Infanterie de Ligne, to his wife.


Camp of the Alma

21 September 1854

We have fought here our first battle. I do not have a scratch. I've only had two men wounded. The affair was very hot .We were on the right bank of the Alma. The Russians were on the left bank, a formidable position. They were about 45.000, the prisoners said they had one hundred pieces of cannon. The whole army combined  Franco-Anglo-Turkish fighters formed around 50.000.
The plan of the Marechal was to support a vigorous attack with his left, to turning movement with the 2nd Division on the right, then to place himself at the head of the 4th Division to halve the Russian army and crush one of his wings. The ardor of our troops has made these projects unncessary. No sooner was the flanking movement begining, our first Division cannonaded very vigorously, has rapidly crossed the river Alma. Zouaves and Tirailleurs Indigenes have flushed the enemy's
sharpshooters. Our last three Divisions and the British, left, have removed all the positions successively occupied by the Russians, although they held a certain obstinacy.
  I have few details to give you on this matter which was brilliant reports of trophies if we had some cavalry to collect straglers, and the guns during the retreat of the enemy, which resembled a route. The Marechal’s bulletin that he publishes today will be much more explicit than the rumors I poorly transmit to you, for in these great fights, everyone  only sees what is happening around him. As a far as my regiment, as we were to give the final blow with the rest of the division, under direct orders of Marechal, we crossed the river last, therefore without loss, although bursts of shells and many cannon balls aimed at out Chasseurs  à Pied which fell in large numbers around my battalions. The Marshal Saint-Arnaud sent me orders to carry me to the rescue of the English who had captured the position: the fire stops I stopped and to my right and I deployed my soldiers. The 39th Regiment had just engaged and occupied a blockhouse which the Zouaves had first attacked. I arrived beside it [the block house], and placed myself in the first line on his left. A battery fired on our two regiments stubbornly out of reach of musket-shot. They never ceased its fire for half an hour, a hail of bullets passed over our heads, thanks to an undulation in the terraince that made them ricochet.
  Well the 39th was well placed, with about forty killed and wounded; its standard-bearer was killed. Mine was a close call, a bullet brushed past me. Beuret had his horse injured by a shell-splinter. The lieutenant-colonel O'Rianne, had his horse killed while close to me. But then, the Russians were in full retreat, and the battle started at one o’lock, was over six o’clock. The Russians have left many more dead and wounded than we do. We cared for them them with the same solicitude as our own wounded. I saw over a hundred at the ambulance in our division; there were not forty of ours. The generals Canrobert and Thomas were injured but not fatally. D'Aurelle was lucky: a ball has crossed his pants behind the right calf, was amortized on pannels of his saddle and the ball went into his boot.
 We occupied the Russian camp, and each of my soldiers has been enriched by a Russian knapsack, because I did order my men to take off their  knapsacks to climb the blockhouse, a place where a Russian regiment had deposited its own  knapsacks to attack the first Division. Without cavalry, as I was sure, we could not complete our victory and we  perceived this morning the enemy rallied on strong positions, formed behind a small river, the Loukou, which is 7 or 8 kilometers distant. The victory gives such confidence to our troops that it ensures the success of subsequent commitments. Each of our soldiers is confident that he is equal to two Russians!