15 DECEMBER 1855, Page 25


WOODS'S CAMPAIGN IN TICE CRIMEA.* THESE volumes form a revised and very extended edition of Mr. Woods's correspondence in the Iformng Herald newspaper from the beginning of May 1854 to the end of May 1855, when he was invalided by an attack of the Crimean fever. To his own observa- tions he has added some letters of Captain Christie in reference to the charges against him at Balaklava, and a journal of the siege of Silistria, kept by its gallant defender the late Major Butler, even for two days after his fatal wound. Both these sets of docu- ments have been supplied by the families of the respective officers.

The time which has elapsed since Mr. Woods left the Crimea has had no effect in inducing him to modify his opinions as to the mismanagement of matters in general. The perpetual character of his fault-finding equals that of the Times in extent if not in degree. There is, too, a strong party feeling peeping out, which the Times was free from, expressed with the weak virulence which often characterizes the writers of the Tory or Conservative party. How far the particular observations or the collected camp-talk of the writer may be literally true, we have no means of knowing; that the conclusions drawn from the general pictures should be re- ceived with some reservation, we think highly probable; and that the broad sweeping judgments upon almost everybody in authority are erroneous, seems likely, from the fact that wherever these judgments can be tested they seem to be either extreme or wrong. In order to enable a man to pass any judgment upon the ha- bits, arts, or institutions of a people, or even of a class, practical knowledge is absolutely necessary. Perfect freshness—that is, perfect ignorance—no doubt best qualifies a writer to portray in a striking manner the external peculiarities around him. A. man who has not got his sea-legs, and is moreover physically discom- posed by the want of them, is not exactly the person to comment on the management of the ship, or the pleasures of " life on the ocean wave," though well enough qualified to paint its miseries to a novice. The civilian is far less fit than even a feather-bed sol- dier to import a judgment into his description ; and how rarely does a newspaper correspondent refrain from judging ! In fact, where conduct comes into question, the impression itself conveys a conclusion, just as mere description will contain the writer's opin- ion of a landscape. Mr. Woods seems to have too little experience of war, or even such experience as could be gained at second-hand, to give a trustworthy character to his opinions; while he evidently looks upon " number one as the greatest number." The move- ments of the army are suspended for the troubles connected with his own pack-horses " that can't be got to go," and when they move of their own accord, scatter his property on the road.

" The tentless rest beneath the humid sky,"

and all the other evils of a campaign which the poet enumerates as breaking down the novice in war, come upon Mr. Woods as something strange, or as grievances to be complained of. A dusty road, a country without water, or at least sufficient water, a hot day, a cold day, a wet day, anything which causes discomfort, seem chargeable upon somebody as an offence. The necessary manceuvering becomes " tiresome" !—as if actual war with the enemy in front were like a spectacle at a play, where the audience are aggrieved if kept waiting. On the day of the battle of the Alma, he writes—" Both armies were formed up in marching order at about six o'clock, and moved obliquely towards the sea for about a mile. They had then reached the summit of a steep hill, and a long and tiresome halt took place, while the French shifted ground still closer to us." We do not mention these traits as a reflection upon Mr. Woods, but as showing how unsafe it is to trust to express or implied conclusions upon the details of war by any man who is not a veteran campaigner, and able to discrimi- nate between what is customary or necessary and what is merely unpleasant to undergo or painful to the feelings of an observer. When the nature of the subject admits of a definite question be- ing raised, and there is original evidence to be had, the matter does not support the general tone of Mr. Woods, or the conclusions of sheer incapacity or blundering neglect, that have been bandied about so freely. The celebrated loss of the Prince transport is an example. During the battle of Balaklava, and for some time after, there was a strong apprehension that the Russian force under Li- prandi might get possession of the place, and of course destroy all the shipping in the harbour. During the action, a message was sent by Lord Raglan to Captain Tatham, the Harbour-Master, the pith of which as communicated to Captain Christie, Transport- Superintendent, was "to get up steam."

" Captain Tatham at once gave orders for all vessels to prepare to leave ; and at the same time the drums beat to quarters on board the Wasp and • The Put Campaign: a Sketch of the War in the East, from the Departure of Lord Raglan to the Capture of SebastopoL By N. A. Woods, late Special Corre- spondent of the Mortung herald at the Seat of War. In two volumes. Published by Longman and Co.

Diamond frigates; and as most of their crews were serving in the trenches, men were sent on board to work the guns, and, incase of the enemy appearing, defend the head of the harbour till the transport vessels had put to sea." • •

"The night following the battle of Balaklava was an anxious one inside the little harbour. All night long the vessels were slipping their cables, and the tugs towed them out as fast as they cast off. The Commissariat shipped all their money, and the stores were reimharked from the Ordnance and Quartermaster-General's departments. At each trifling alarm the Russians were looked for, as it was thought certain they would take advan- tage of the night to recommence their attack. Had they done so, their suc- cess would have been almost certain ; but, fortunately for the English, Li- prandi commanded."

As this apprehension continued after the battle, Captain Dacres, the successor of Captain Tatham, appears to have received orders, or at least acted as if he had received orders, to admit no more ves- sels into the harbour than was actually necessary under the circum- stances. Application was twice made to him about the Prince ; and his answers were, first, " While this wind lasts, it will be impossible for the Prince to discharge her cargo" ; second, "The Prince cannot come in till the Victoria goes out." Speaking after the event, it is easy for men to censure the caution of the military order, and the strict manner in which Captain Dacres carried it out; though it is also easy to imagine the clamour that would have ensued had Liprandi got even a temporary possession of Balaklava and de- stroyed vessels and crews by his guns. But even if it were an error in judgment, a mistaken choice of two equally-balanced courses is a very different thing from the stupidity, folly, ob- stinacy, and so forth, to which it was the fashion to attribute the loss of the Prince. It must also be remembered, that the storm itself was wholly exceptionaL There seems to be no distinct account of such another either in tradition or record ; and a general might as well shape his proceedings in Portugal with reference to an earth- quake as for a man in the Crimea to go upon the plan of disregard- ing dangers from the enemy, to provide against exceptional natural phenomena. After all, it admits of doubt whether nearly as much material loss might not have been incurred had the vessels been all crowded into port, as actually took place. This is the picture of tho effects of the hurricane inside the harbour acting upon only twenty ships.

"Within the actual port of Balaklava, the gale was almost equally violent. The vessels were in calm water, but the hurricane, sweeping inland between the narrow walls of rock, came with a force which nothing could withstand. Outside the harbour the tremendous sea caused nearly all the wrecks, but inside it was the sheer force of the wind. Though in perfectly still water, the gale tore several ships from their moorings, and drove them down upon the Sanspareil ; the cables of that ship parted, and her stern went two feet up on the steep shore. As the morning wore on, the gusts attained the vio- lence which swept everything before them, and which, to those not present on that awful day, may seem utterly incredible. Many ships heeled over with the force of the blasts, almost to their beam-ends. Their topmasts snapped like reeds. The vessels drove down on one another, smashing their bulwarks, and grinding themselves almost to pieces. Houses in Balaklava were unroofed and blown almost completely away. At the head of the har- bour, the trees of thirty and forty years' growth were uprooted, and some even torn to pieces. The iron paddle-box-boat of the Trent, weighing over seven tons, was lifted into the air and almost smashed in its fall. Other smeller wooden boats were whirled up the harbour, and carried a considerable dis- tance inland towards the plain. The gig of the Bride was at the water's edge near shore, and there were two men in it. The wind caught it up ; the men were thrown out and severely bruised, and the boat itself was carried over some of the houses of Balaklava, till it struck against Mr. Filder's quarters, crushing itself and the wall of the Chief Commissary's bedroom at the same time. The iron paddle-boxes of the Minna and Brenda troop-tugs were torn off and carried far away. All the vessels in the port were more or less se- verely injured."

However, the loss of the Prince had little effect upon the well- being of the troops. Mr. Woods writes—" As I have the mani-

fest of the cargo of the vessel now in my possession, I know that only a few bales [of clothing], not half sufficient to supply the army, were lost on that melancholy occasion "-' and he makes the alleged fact the ground for a mammon "Lord Aberdeen's Govern- ment."

The great superiority of the French in everything from first to last, save perhaps in mere bull-dog fighting, is a fertile topic of declamation. Mr. Woods is not backward in this patriotic em- ployment, though his own scattered facts throw some doubt on the conclusions. At Scutari, on his first arrival, ho describes the deficiency of the British troops in cavalry and artillery ; but he adds, "in this respect our allies also were as deficient as ourselves." The greater losses of the French at Varna and in the Dobrudsoha from cholera and other diseases is known; but no one has reached the gloomy picture of Mr. Woods.

"Among the French its ravages were ten times greater. Their cholera camp was almost as big as that for a division. On the 6th of August the French expeditionary force which had been detached into the Dobrudja returned by land and sea to Varna ; and the whole town was soon filled with awful rumours as to the sufferings and losses of the troops during the ex- pedition. Bad as these rumours were, they did not realize the sufferings sus- tained by our gallant allies. Upwards of eight hundred were brought back in the vessels which had arrived at Varna, and of this number one hundred and thirty were buried the same night. • • • "The whole reconnaissance lasted exactly twelve days, and I think it would be impossible to name another expedition of the kind in which mere sickness committed such fearful ravages in so short a space of time. "The real loss of men sustained by our allies in this fatal reconnaissance will never be accurately known till the French Government think fit to dis- close it ; but from various sources it can easily be seen that it was something unparalleled in the annals of modern warfare. Horace Vernet, who was with the troops during their march, said, that exclusive of Bashi-Basouks, (of whom nearly one thousand perished,) upwards of five thousand French soldiers, infantry and Zouaves, died. Nearly a month after the expedition had re- turned, H.M.S. Spitfire was at Koatendjie, and the officers of the ship even then saw appalling traces of the calamity which had overtaken the corps d'armee. Round Koatendjie the ground was strewed in all directions with muskets, cross-belts, ammunition-pouches, and side-arms, all belonging to be French, and all evidently thrown away on the march by the men as they became too sick and feeble to carry them. In some oases even the tents had been left standing with their occupants evidently dead inside. The new- made graves, or rather the pits in which the dead had been interred, covered the ground. To very many corpses even this last sad office had not been rendered, and they lay,just as they had breathed their last, a prey to the wild dogs, which were then the only inhabitants of the town. These raven- ous brutes had even scratched away the shallow covering of earth from over the pits, and dragged forth the corpses on to the bare ground. In one large barn-shaped out-house outside Kostendjie, nearly three hundred corpses were left literally stacked one upon another, just as they had died."

Had the French been accompanied by a " graphic " correspondent without a sense of prudence or patriotism to restrain his pen, it is easy to fancy the horrible pictures which would have been pre- sented to the world.

As regards the transport service, the British superiority, is ad- mitted ; and it is needless to quote passages upon that : but our siege-train was the best and moat numerous at starting.

"The English Government persisted in believing that there were only 40,000 troops in the Crimea ; yet, even for encountering that number, the expedilionary force was most inadequately provided with everything but courage. For the reduction of Sevastopol, an united siege-train of ninety- four guns was considered sufficient. Of these ninety-four pieces of ordnance the English possessed sixty, all long eighteens or thirty-two pounders, and therefore all of too light a calibre. The French had fifty-four [thirty- four ?] guns, but theirs were still worse than ours, as nearly all were eighteen, and not one above a twenty-four pounder. In neither French nor English siege-train, at this time, as far as I could ever ascertain, were there any mortars, though each had five or six cohorns for throwing small shell at a close range."

The French landing has been praised, but it would seem that part of it was display, the easiest work being done first : not a riskful display, for no enemy was present, but a bit of telling management.

"In the afternoon, Brigadier-General Rose, English Commissioner, with Marshal St. Arnaud, came over and informed Lord Raglan that the whole of the French infantry, 20,000 strong, were landed. At that time (about three p. m.) only 12,000 of the English had disembarked. The French statement was quite true as regarded their infantry, and the really wonder- ful rapidity and good order with which they landed them was deserving of the highest praise. But the French, with their 20,000 men, had only landed nine guns, nine ammunition-waggons, and 140 artillery-horses ; whereas, with the 12,000 British troops, 16 guns, 16 ammunition-waggons, and 260 artillery-horses, were ashore. The French had landed more men than we, but in the same time we had landed seven guns and waggon' and 180 horses more than they ; and it does not require a military reader to appreciate the vast difference between landing guns and horses and landing men."

The same equality, if nothing more than equality, was shown at the opening of the siege, though the French approaches were through clay, while the English had to work upon a rocky earth. The following extracts are from the first two days of the siege, and the superiority of the English batteries is evident throughout. This is the first day-

" Our batteries were evidently too far off and too lightly armed. The 68-

pounder guns in the five-gun battery were doing all the mischief. On the Mt the smoke concealed our allies and their antagonists ; but it was evi- dent from the weak cannonade of the former that they were only coming off second-best in the contest. Minute after minute their fire decreased. As the smoke cleared away, the 68-pounder battery redoubled its fire on the Mala- koff. Every shot told full upon the building, knocking its stones to pieces and scattering them like dust. At length, with a heavy crash, the upper part fell in. As it did so, there came a tremendous explosion, the nature of which was but too truly told by the mass of dense smoke which hung over the French works on the extreme left. The magazine of a ten-gun battery had exploded, killing many men, dismounting the guns, and almost com- pletely destroying the work. Thus, at the moment when its fire was most needed, an important battery was silenced. " The cheers of the enemy, as the battery exploded, could be heard even above the din of guns, and the Flagstaff put forth all its strength upon the remaining works of our allies. Their massive vollies were hurled against

them in an iron shower which carried all before it. The French earth- works flew into the air like spray. The men were killed as fast as they

manned their guns, and the guns themselves dismounted. Now and then they fired in reply, but such faint resistance only seemed to provoke the Russians into fresh efforts. By half-past nine in the morning nearly all the French works were levelled and their guns dismounted. From that time their land batteries took no further part in the contest of the day, though the enemy still continued to assail them with shot and shell.

" All the English batteries still continued hotly engaged, but the right attack was suffering heavily. The works were cut up by the fire from the earth-works of the Malakoff, and several of its guns were dismounted. The Malakoff itself was by no means unscathed. The long-range fire of the 68-pounders was telling severely, and five of its embrasures were silent. The Redan and Barrack batteries continued as vigorous as at the commence- ment."

The English batteries fell short of ammunition. It had to be brought up in the teeth of the enemy's fire ; and it was done suc- cessfully.

" As the waggons were descried approaching our works, all the Russian fire was directed upon them. Some of the men and several of the horses were killed, and shot and shell rushed round them on every side. As one waggon entered the left attack, a shell lodged in the spokes of the wheel and. exploded there, blowing away the side of the waggon and blackening the '

cases of powder, without igniting them. All the other supplies arrived safely, and the fire of our batteries was renewed. Soon after a shell blew up the powder of the shattered ammunition-waggon in the left attack, with a severe explosion, which killed and wounded some of our men. The Rus- sians, as usual, set up a loud cheer, and imagined that the battery was si- lenced. But this was very far from being the case, and the enemy's ex- ultation was soon turned to mourning. The left attack replied to the cheer with a volley of shells, and one lodged in the magazine in the centre of the Great Redan. The explosion which followed was fearful : beams, stones, masses of earth, and even guns, rose at the head of the fiery column high into the air like straws, and spread their ruin far and widelaround. The roar and its tremendous echoes were clear and distinct like one sound, over all the din of the bombardment. After the lapse of some five or ten minutes, during which the Russian earthwork scarcely returned a shot, the smoke and dust cleared away ; we could see that our most formidable opponent, the Great Redan, was silent and almost ruined. Only one gun was left service- able ; and though three others were afterwards mounted: its fire, compared with that of the morning, was harmless and disregarded.'

The opening of the second day-

" The enemy, who seemed to command an almost unlimited and inex- haustible amount of labour, remounted all their guns, even in the Great Re- den, repaired their works, and at dawn commenced an overpowering fire from nearly 200 pieces upon the English right and left attacks. " The French batteries were silent. What with the fire of the enemy and the destructive effects of their own explosions, their works were to- tally destroyed and almost level with the earth. This unfortunate repulse of our allies told considerably upon the English attacks, which had now to bear and answer alone the concentrated fire of all the enemy's batteries which could reach them. Our men stood splendidly to their guns, but produced but little effect ; and it was evident, even to the most prejudiced, that we should be unable to continue the unequal contest many days longer. As fast as a shot or shell struck the enemy's works, their men sprang over the para- pet and filled up the gap it made with small sand-bags ; so that at the close of the day their lines looked as well as ever, while ours, on the contrary, had suffered heavily. However, towards evening, the English were con- soled for their losses by blowing up the magazine in the works round the Malakoff. The shook and explosion were so terrific, that for a few minutes the enemy ceased firing ; then fresh troops ran into the battery, and after a short delay the whole of the guns in the work were fired in one tremendous volley, the men at the same time springing on the parapets and embrasures, with three loud cheers. They certainly put a good face on their misfortune, as the explosion at the least must have cost them some two hundred men killed and wounded."

The subject might be pursued further; but these extracts are enough to show that, however deficient in some things, and above all in making a dexterous display, and quietly "washing our dirty linen at home," we are not yet degraded in fact, however we may look in the eyes of Europe and America. Indeed, but for the ne- glect in road-making, it is questionable whether the troops throughout the winter would have been worse off than our allies, or their losses greater, if indeed they were greater. These losses, however, must have been considerable under any circumstances. It was a sickly season. Cholera prevailed throughout those regions ; there is always the Crimean fever to the unacclimated, especially in the autumn ; and a large portion if not the whole of the troops were necessarily unused to war. It is generally admitted that up to November the troops were well supplied, and that they suffered no more hardship or exposure than must always take place under canvass—that is, in active ser- vice. Yet Mr. Woods gives this account of the army on the 1st November-

" Sickness was dreadfully prevalent, and now had been so long continued that our strength was seriously diminished. Since our arrival at Balaklava, up to this date, (let November,) we had sent away to Scutari and Malta no less than 2112 men invalided from sickness alone. In addition to this, about 2000 men were in the various regimental hospitals, and nearly 1000 had been

killed in actions and skirmishes with the enemy. * * • "Exclusive, therefore, of the numbers employed in guarding Balaklava, rear-guards, commissariat-guards, and all the waste of an army, the number of effective English troops was now under 16,000 bayonets. This was a bad prospect ; but taken with its accessories it was ten times worse. The drain from sickness threatened to become far greater as the winter advanced ; and our men, already overworked, would find their duties increase in exact pro- portion as their numbers diminished. The strength of the enemy daily aug- mented. Liprandi's force round Balaklava was doubled since the 25th ; and none knew from day to day when our little port, with all its stores and ship- ping, would be wrested from us."

Notwithstanding all the losses, sufferings, and croakings, and the errors unavoidable and avoidable, success came at last; and Mr, Woods's volumes enable the reader to measure the extent of that success. When he first arrived in Turkey, the defence of Constantinople was the primary object in men's minds, and of the tactics of the Allies. Neither the Danube, nor its fortresses, nor Shumla, nor the Balkan, seemed sufficient to arrest the march of the Russians. At Varna apprehension was shifted to Silistria. The deficiency of transport prevented the Allies, perhaps luckily, from marching into the pestiferous marshes of the Danube, and Silistria was saved without their aid. The invasion of the Crimea was undertaken not without gloomy forebodings from the more prudent or melancholy, owing to the lateness of the season, the in- sufficient force, and inadequate preparation; all, undoubtedly, en- titled to weight. Rashness, however, if rashness it were, was tri- umphant, where over-caution would not have failed only because it would have done nothing. Sebastopol as a city, harbour, and gi- gantic magazine, has fallen. The strongest strategic points of the Crimean coast are occupied by the Allies. The Sea of Azoff has been swept clean; the Black Sea coasts of Transcaucasia have been abandoned by the enemy ; and Omar Pasha, after assisting to compel the evacuation of the Principalities, and defeating the enemy at Eupatoria, has invaded Transcaucasia itself ; while the capture of Xinburn at least commands the outlet of the great navigable waters of Southern Russia, as Sheerness commands the Thames and the Medway, though not so closely. When the ac- tual position of affairs and the state of opinion as to the prospects of Russia eighteen months ago are compared with the present, there is nothing to warrant depreciation. We know of no Euro- pean war in which this country has engaged where so much was done in so short a time, or with such a steady continuance of mo- ose& Subject to the drawbacks noticed in the course of this review, Mr. Woods's Past Campaign will convey a vivid and in some sense a tolerably complete idea of the war, from the arrival at Scu- tari till illness overtook the writer, in May last. His "sun pic- tures" are as truthful as those of Mr. Russell of the Times, with- out so much struggle to be effective, or obtrusion of self. Mr. Woods is also a man of more solid observation, probably with a more cultivated taste. His book unavoidably suffers from being not a history but a series of partial descriptions and passing re- marks, mingled with a good deal of collected gossip on subjects which have already come before the public as "daily news," and of which the public has probably had enough. The great length at which the earlier portion of the narrative is dwelt upon is also a drawback to the interest ; Soutari and Varna being devoid of ac- tion and merely preliminary to the Crimea. This, however, gives greater completeness to the subject.