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.

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