Tuesday, 10 July 2012

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.

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