15 SEPTEMBER 1855, Page 1


AFTER the perusal of the first page of last week's Spectator, our readers could scarcely have been surprised at the reopening of the bombardment of Sebastopol, though they may have been as little prepared as we were to learn that it had commenced so soon, and still less to expect so speedy a success. The movement appears to have been accelerated by incidents passing within the observa- tion of our commanders on the spot. And the result has justified the move ; for although Sebastopol has not yet fallen, the South side has been abandoned, and the enemy has been reduced by far more than the half of the strength of his position. The bombardment com- menced on the 5th, point after point took fire, till on the 8th the town was blazing in its centre ; on that day the Malakoff was in the hands of the Allies, and on the 9th the Southern half of the town was evacuated. The plan of the assault was that which high authorities have recommended—a simultaneous attack on various points, with the calculation that one at least should succeed ; and thus, though the French were repulsed at the Central Bastion, and the English were unable to hold the Great Redan in the ceaseless storm of grape, the French made good their possession of the Malakoft; and the key to the whole place was secured. Gortscha- koff, who had written home to his sovereign that the bombard- ment had from time to time slackened, now saw that the South side of the town at least was untenable, and he retreated to the North. He had already begun to burn his ships or sink them ; and at last not a Russian timber floated on the waters. Even this success" in retreating from the South side was less than he boastfully represented it to be ; for he did not destroy a consider- able store of materiel which fell into the hands of General Pelissier. Neither is it consistent with probability, or with the tenour of his language touching the Mackenzie heights, that he should be able to maintain himself long shut up in the narrow circle of the citadel, with a small entourage of outworks and scanty supplies. The cost at which this advantage has been purchased has been very heavy. The long list of our own officers killed and wounded comprises men well known in the army and in society—known and esteemed. That of the French, who have to deplore three general officers, including General Niel, is yet more severe. The heaviest loss incurred by the British appears to have been at the Great Redan, constantly swept by a storm of grape. It is unneces- sary to say that not a shadow of blame can fall on any one, officers or men, for the absence of success at that point: if the slightest excuse were needed, we might point to the generous terms in which General Pelissier alludes to the action. The Eng- lish had left their mark on the Great Redan in the previous attack; the Russians, of course, had thrown all possible strength into the defence ; and in sober truth, the English succeeded in engaging a large part of the Russian force at the spot. Thus, in common with the admirable attacks on the Central Bastion and the other points, the assailants of the Great Redan contributed their share of that glorious success in which our allies the French unquestionably had the lead. Nor is it to be regretted that the balance of fortune lay with the French. If we must put in any special claim for our own countrymen, lot us say that they can perhaps sustain an ad- verse comparison with a more even temper and without being dis- heartened. If we have boasted somewhat ton much in days by- gone about Waterloo and the Peninsula, this success of our allies redresses the balance. How happy for both nations, that we are arrayed, not opposite to each other, but side by side ; and in that conviction which now so heartily unites the two armies is Napo- leon the Third's vow consummated and "Waterloo" is avenged!

Everything indicates that the siege of Sebastopol' will now be followed up by operations in the open field. Released from the irksome duties of the trenches, the hitherto besieged besiegers will assume the offensive. The weary twelvemonth has not been wasted. Every event has contributed to strengthen our convic- tion, that a sudden success last autumn would have been the parent of worse mistakes and worse disasters than any yet incur- red. If we had marched vaunting into Sebastopol, with all our deficiencies unexposed, we should have carried with us the seeds of military disease to blossom in many a reverse. We were impri- soned to be tried as in the fire, tempered, and hardened; by the obstruction, all our difficult progress is made solid, real, and effec- tual. We have also been made to know our enemy ; and if we have confirmed our belief that the Russian soldier is a slave, an animal, a machine, we have been made to confess that Russia possesses officers who have heads, art, courage, zeal, perseverance —men full of resource, ruses, and not to be broken down by adversity. Russia had cultivated the arts of war, which we had neglected; this siege was our apprenticeship, during which we were kept in school; and we have happily been forced to gain that wholesome knowledge before the war, which really opens now. Besides their habitual and still manifest reliance on a fighting re- treat, it is apparent from the course of Gortschakoff that the Rus- sians calculate on keeping us in play on the Mackenzie heights. But our troops are well prepared for any campaign. If the original stipulations between France and England have not literally been fulfilled, the departure from the compact here and there has only sufficed to prove the generous construction which each side is pre- pared to allow, and the more than good faith with which both sides virtually exceed their promise. If France gives us more than her proportion of infantry, we are exceeding our proportion in artillery and cavalry. To the 4000 cavalry of the French we can now add 6000 of our own; and the squadrons whom General La Marmora saw manceuvering on the Mackenzie heights will find their match. The Piedmontese have brought to the field, not many in number, but a noble spirit, which establishes a third standard of emulation among the Allies, untainted by the slight- est tinge of envy. Thus the Allied armies are amply prepared, in numbers, supplies, spirit, and instructions, for any opportunities that the enemy may afford them.