24 NOVEMBER 1855, Page 14

COLONEL HANLEY'S CAMPAIGN OF SEBASTOPOL. * Tins narrative by an eye-witness

and an actor of the Turkish and Crimean campaigns of 1854.'55 was originally published in Black- wood's Magazine. Unlike the generality of accounts of passing events written at the time and collected after the occasion, Colonel Hamley's sketches possess an enduring interest, and furnish the means of taking a summary review of the whole. This value .orifinates in twosourees —the professional knowledge of the writer, and his opportunities of obtaining information ; the cau- tion and reserve which his position imposed upon him in reference to the utterance of rash opinions. His situation on the staff of the Artillery till the battle of Inkerman, and subsequently as Aide-de- camp to Sir Richard Deems, and his presence "in all the actions great and small of the campaign," not only enabled him to see things, but to judge of reasons. This position also rendered him

chary of needless comment.

'When it is considered that men in authority do not always look with a very friendly eye on the mere possession of opinions on their conduct of pub- lic affairs, it may. be supposed that to express them critically might, espe- cially when they implied censure, be anything but an assistance to the critic in ins military career. Moreover, there are many cases in which it is the bounden duty. of an officer to refrain from publishing facts or opinions which _might be prejudicial to the prestige or success of our arms. To a great ex- tent, therefore, the reader is left to make his own comments on facts which I have been careful to verify and combine in a sequence which should ex- hibit only the significant features of the campaign."

Colonel Hamley appears to have joined the army at Scutari. He accompanied it to Varna, landed with it at Eupatoria, was at the battle of Alma, in the advance with the celebrated flank march, present at all the actions during the siege, and, with the ex- ception of a voyage to Constantinople on military business, through all its monotonous hardships and privations, from the opening of the trenches till the abandonment of the place. Of the features, occurrences, and feelings of this long and eventful period, Colonel • Hamley presents a rapid coup d'ceil, mingled with pictures of

• daily camp life, and information touching strategy and sieges. There is not such strongly-marked outlines, such flaring colours, so mneh slapdash in the style of handling, as the pictures of "our own correspondent" display; neither is the Colonel so free and easy in his judgments. But his narrative is clear and forcible ; it often brings a stronger sense of the reality before the mind than the " graphic " paintings of the "correspondent," and combines with the story of action an idea of purpose and of the causes of success or failure.

It is indeed, in the information which it conveys as to the siege in general, and the light it throws upon several points which have been disputed or misrepresented, that the great value of the book consists. Thus, the alleged inferiority of the English army in everything except mere bull-dog fighting, at the best, and not al- ways that, which has been spread about by " graphic " reports —or the little that the English have accomplished towards the downfall of Sebastopol—is unconsciously shown to be untrue. The reader who would be at the trouble to go over all the opera- tions of the siege, and collect them together' weuld find that the British failures do not at least predominate. Either from nu- merical inferiority of force, John .Bull's indifference to display, or some other cause, our allies have had the most telling opportuni- ties, while we have taken secondary places where sometimes diver- sion not success was intended, or where we contributed to the ulti- mate result without its redounding to our own credit. Take an instance. Throughout, the English guns swept part of the Ma- lakoff; and in the first assault on that fortress, on the 18th June,

did further good service to our allies.

"The musketry still continued to rattle around the Malakoff ; and, from the eight-gun battery in our third parallel, which now began to fire, I saw

• The Story of the Campaign of Sebastopol, written in the Camp. By Lieutenant- Colonel E. Bruce Hamley, Captain Royal Artillery, With Illustrations drawn in Camp by the Author. Published by Blackwood and Sons. several hundreds of the French clinging to scarped spots in the ground be- fore the Malakoff, and firing on the parapets, which were lined with Rus- sians. The French guns in the Mamelon (where General Laboussiniere, of the artillery, had been killed) were silent while our artillery now opened both on the Redan and the Malakoff, principally on the latter. The practice was admirable. The Russians speedily left their parapets, where whole sections of them must have been swept away ; and our shells, bursting just after grazing the edge of the work, must have been most destructive to the troops drawn up in its defence. A couple of the guns of the Malakoff were directed on the French still clinging to the hill, and the grape rattling among them put them to flight; but the vigour of our artillery fire enabled them to retreat with but little loss from the enemy's guns, which, in their own defence, were now directed on our batteries."

Here is an example of the loose manner in which military terms are used, or rather misused, by popular writers.

"Amidst the many loose assertions and incorrect statements which have appeared in the public prints respecting the operations of the campaign, there is one frequently-recurring error which deserves notice, as it is calcu- lated to mislead military readers in forming their estimate of the different actions. Every species of intrenchment which appears on a position is talked of as a redoubt.' At the Alma the English force has been repeatedly described as storming intrenchments, and the battery where the great strug- gle took place is always mentioned as the redoubt.' The two-gun battery where the Guards fought at Inkerman is also a redoubt' ; and one writer describes it as equipped with 'a breastwork at least seven feet high.' A re- markable breastwork certainly, since the defenders, to make use of it as such, must needs be about ten feet in stature !

"There were no intrenchments, nor any works intended as obstacles, in the Russian position at Alma. The only works of any kind were two long low banks of earth, over which the guns fired—intended, not to prevent our advance, but to protect the guns and gunners from our fire. The battery at the Inkerman was a high wall of earth, revetted with gabions and sand-bags, eloping at the extremities, and having two embrasures cut in it for the guns to fire through : from end to end it was about twelve paces long."

Still, notwithstanding much ignorance, and its result, into- lerance—much retailing of second-hand information, very probably by persons biased or interested in imparting it—as well as by ex- aggeration for purposes of effect, or by substitution of the parti- cular for the general—this Story of the Campaign of Sebastopol confirms the general conclusions of the journals. From the bad weather that followed the storm of the 14th November, till the arrangements as regards clothing, huts, and the railway, began more or less to take effect at the beginning of the year, the suffer- ings, privations, and losses of the army, were great. In December and January, "the sick returns showed the astounding number of 14,000 men ineffective in the British army." Whether this was owing, as the newspapers said, to the inefficiency of particular de- partments, or of all put together, or whether, as Colonel Hamley maintains, to the public demand for retrenchment which deprived the army of several things essential to its action and support, there stand the facts of sickness, deaths, and burials. Perhaps, however, enough has not been allowed for the previous sickly state of the army, which unfitted men to endure illness or the outward con- ditions that induce it. The cholera pursued the armies to the Crimea, accompanied them through the battles, and only left them when the wintry weather set in to be replaced by a sort of cholera- dysentery. Men in such circumstances were ill-fitted to resist disease and the inevitable hardships of a winter campaign. Our author enters very fully into the whole subject in the seventeenth chapter, headed "Exculpatory "; which those who wish to hear both sides would do well to read.

Colonel Hamley considers that the retention of so large a por tion of the army in idleness during the spring and early summer was an error. The difficulty of operating from Eupatoria, owing to the want of water, has within the last fortnight been clearly shown. Whether difficulties of some other kind may not interfere with operations from the Southward, we do not know. The at- tempts made even after the fall of Sebastopol have not been fol- lowed up. So it is possible that there may be obstacles which justified the prudence of inaction. Or, after all, there may be the deeper reason, with which the Colonel concludes his work.

"It must occur to every one, that a man like the French Emperor does not require to be told that, in a military point of view, it is better to attack the flank of an enemy's line of operations than its extremity. The eager interest with which his attention has for so long been riveted on the theatre of war must have rendered him at least as capable of judging of the merits of an obvious plan as any of the critics. In a former chapter I have said, that had we, in 1854, succeeded in a coup de main against Sebastopol, it would have been fortunate for Russia. Soldiers naturally look to military successes as all-important in war, but the glance of a ruler comprehends other considerations. Louis Napoleon is a far-seeing genius, capable of dis- tinguishing between the interests of the army and those of the alliance—of separating military from national success. I can imagine such a man saying, 'It is true I can take the Crimea, and with it Sebastopol, when I please ; but, besides the loss of town and territory, I will drain Russia of whole armies. Pride will not allow her to abandon a contest which it is ruin to her to maintain, and I will not do her the favour to precipitate its termina- tion.' To those who reckon up the losses of Russia since the siege com- menced, and compare them with those of the Allies, such language will not seem unreasonable, nor inconsistent with the character of a man so calcu- lating in his aims, Bo persevering in pursuing them."