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LANDING AT EUPATORIA.
that to take it would be the likeliest means of bringing the war to a close. On the 29th of June he wrote to Lord Raglan, requesting him on the part of her Majesty's government, to concert measures with his colleague for the siege of Sebastopol, unless, with the information in Lord Raglan's possession, but unknown in this country, he should be decidedly of opinion that it could not be undertaken with a reasonable prospect of success. Neither the English general nor his French colleague possessed any trustworthy information on this subject, and nearly all the knowledge they were able to obtain before their actual arrival in the
Crimea was communicated to them by the governments at home. They, however, decided on carrying out the instructions received by Lord Raglan, which were in full accordance with those which St. Arnaud had received from his
government. Had they been aware of the obstacles and difficulties with which they would have to contend, they would probably have hesitated longer. But both the minister who gave the order, and the generals who carried it out, hoped that by a sudden assault, by land and sea, on Sebastopol, before the Russians had time to strengthen its exterior fortifications, the allies would gain possession of the town, the harbour, and the Black Sea fleet, and thus put an effectual check on the supposed projects of the Russian government. How far they were justified in forming these expectations we shall have occasion to see presently. But it is evident to any one who considers the position of the different powers, that if the objects for which the war was commenced were to be attained, the next move was to attack the place where the Black Sea fleet was sheltered. The decision to do so having been made, measures were promptly taken to transport the allied forces from Varna, where they were now assembled, to a point in the Crimea whence they could most conveniently march on Sebastopol. After many deliberations and much reconnoitring, it was determined that the landing should be effected at a part of the coast called the Old Fort, near the town of Eupatoria. Here accordingly 27,000 English, 22,000 French, and 5000 Turks were landed; the remainder of the French force, being left behind for the present, for want of a sufficient number of transports to convey the whole of it over, was to follow as soon as possible. The allies then marched sonthwards along the coast, meeting with no resistance till they approached the banks of the river Alma, on the other side of which a Russian army, commanded by Prince Mentschikoff, was strongly posted and entrenched on the heights overlooking the river from that side. After a long and deadly attack, bravely sustained by the Russians, the
allies forced their way into the Russian entrenchments, compelling the Russian army to retreat, after having suffered heavy losses. But the allied troops were too much fatigued, and too weak in cavalry, to be able to follow up immediately the advantage they had gained. After resting on the field of battle, they marched on, still keeping near the sea, without meeting with any serious resistance; and there seems to be little reason for doubting that if the fleet had, immediately after the landing of our troops, proceeded to force its way into the harbour of Sebastopol, and our troops had assaulted the north-west side of the town, which at that time was very slightly fortified, as an attack from the land side was an event on which the Russian government had not calculated, Sebastopol would have fallen at once into the hands of the allies.
A young and daring general would undoubtedly have done this. Lord Raglan, though he had reached an age at which the spirit of caution and calculation generally predominates over the spirit of audacious enterprise, was nevertheless willing to make the attempt; and we may be sure that he would not have consented to it if he had not felt tolerably certain of succeeding. But his colleague St. Arnaud, who possessed the élan and daring necessary for such an enterprise, was at the moment suffering from a severe and agonising illness, which carried him off only a few days after. He refused his concurrence, and his refusal was the cause of the long and wholly unforeseen protraction of the siege. The allied army continued its march southwards past Sebastopol to Balaclava, pitching their camp near the coast, from which they must now draw their supplies of provisions, ammunition, and other things necessary for carrying on the siege of the town in regular form. Before his death, Marshal St. Arnaud, acting on sealed orders he had brought out with him, transferred the command of the French army to General Canrobert.
The course adopted by the allies had been rendered necessary by the measures that had been taken by Prince Mentschikoff, the Russian general. Profiting by the respite that the allies had given him, he determined to make one of those desperate but prudent and calculated sacrifices of which the history of Russia affords several instances. He gave orders that seven of his largest ships should be sunk across the entrance of the harbour of Sebastopol, in such a manner as to render it impossible for the allied navies to force their way into it. By this great sacrifice he put it out of the power of the allies to carry the place by a naval and military attack, and compelled them to prepare for a regular siege. The allies nevertheless clung to the hope that a severe bombardment, followed by a vigorous assault, would give them possession of the town; and in this hope they laboured hard to get up their artillery and ammunition. But while they were employed in making preparations for the attack, the Russian general was no less diligently providing for the defence; and the system of earthworks, now first brought into extensive use, enabled him speedily to render the defences of the place far more formidable than they were when the allies first marched on it. The prize was indeed well worthy of the efforts which the two contending armies were making for the possession of it. Besides the town and a great number of government works and buildings which were contained within its fortifications, there was an immense system of docks, constructed with great skill and at an enormous expense, of solid masonry, and supplied with fresh water by an aqueduct twelve miles long, formed of gigantic blocks of stone. The Russian fleet in Sebastopol at the time of the commencement of hostilities comprised eighteen line-of-battle ships, seven frigates, thirty-two steamers, thirty-six smaller war vessels, twenty-eight gunboats, and thirty transports.
An inlet of the sea at Balaclava served as a harbour for the English, and the Bay of Kamiesch for the French. But a long time was necessarily consumed in bringing up stores of various kinds required by the besieging army, and especially in getting the great siege guns into the position they were destined to occupy—a work which was farther impeded by the heavy and continued fire which the Russians kept up on the besiegers. At length, on the 17th
of October, the allies made a tremendous and simultaneous
difficult circumstances and against a very powerful garrison, continually supplied with all things that were needed. For the allies, being unable with the force at their disposal to occupy the roads leading from Russia to Sebastopol, could not invest the town. Their cannon had suffered so much from the effect of the discharges made during the bombardment, which was kept up for a few days longer, that many of the guns were nearly rendered unserviceable. On the other hand, the Russians had a garrison in Sebastopol sufficient for the defence of that town, and a far larger army outside, ready to attack any of the very extended positions which the allies were obliged to occupy.
Thus the allies were not only unable to invest Sebastopol, but were, to a certain extent, themselves besieged in that corner of the Crimean peninsula which they occupied, and were in some danger of being driven to make a precipitate, and perhaps even a disastrous retreat. However, they had, on the whole, the advantage, because supplies
CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.
and reinforcements could be brought up to them more easily by sea than by such roads as then existed in Russia, and over which the reinforcements of the Russian army had to be marched, and their supplies conveyed, at the cost of an immense number of lives and with ever-increasing difficulty.
The Russian general soon showed that he was determined not to allow the allies to carry on their operations against the town undisturbed. Large parties of Russian soldiers had for some time been reconnoitring in the direction of Balaclava, showing that an attack in that quarter ' was meditated. At length, on the 25th of October, an
army of 30,000 Russians advanced against the English position, hoping to get possession of the harbours and to cut the allies off from their supplies, or at any rate to destroy the stores which had already been landed. The part of the works on which the Russian troops first came was occupied by redoubts, defended by a body of Turkish recruits, recently arrived from Tunis, who, after offering a very feeble resistance, fled in confusion. But when the Russians, flushed with this first success, attempted to pursue the advantage they had gained, they soon encountered a very different foe in the Highlanders, commanded by Sir Colin Campbell, who bore the brunt of the Russian attack with great firmness. The British cavalry particularly distinguished themselves in this action, routing a far superior force of Russian cavalry. It was in the course of this engagement that the unfortunate blunder occurred, in consequence of which 607 men galloped forth against an army, and only 198 came back, the rest having been killed, wounded, or made prisoners. A long, unsatisfactory controversy was carried on some time after, having for its object to decide who was to blame for throwing away, in this foolish manner, the lives of so many gallant men. It seems that the orders were not very clearly expressed, and that the general-Lord Lucan—by whom they were received, misapprehended them more completely than a man in his position ought to have done. In the end, the Russians were forced to retire, without having effected their object; but as they retained some portion of the ground that had been occupied by the allies at the commencement of the battle, they too claimed the victory, and