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.