So many false statements have appeared respecting the condition of Balaclava during the late winter [1854/55 - DracoBooks], that it is necessary they should be refuted.
It has been stated by witnesses before the Committee, that there was no regulated authority.
The senior naval officer present had, however, supreme authority in berthing the transports and other vessels entering the port. He also arranged all matters of detail in landing cargoes at the requisition of the commissariat and military authorities, and facilitated the movements of transports in compliance with the wishes of the principal agent.
On the 26th of October, 1854, the military authorities had pronounced Balaclava to be untenable, and it was only late in the evening of that day that this decision was annulled, and H.M.S. Sanspareil was ordered to protect the port. On the morning of the 27th October we moored in Balaclava, but so great was the apprehension of an attack, that several transports were ordered to remain outside. The Resolute, containing 500 tons of ammunition, was one of these vessels, whilst, the Shaftesbury and Star of the South, with similar cargoes, remained inside. It was on purely military grounds that these transports were ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to remain outside, and the principal agent of transports carried the orders into effect. To land 500 tons of gunpowder in face of an expected attack would have been simply ridiculous; and as late as the 10th of November, Sir Colin Campbell sent an aide-de-camp in the middle of the night to hold all the ships in readiness for a start.
It will scarcely be credited, that in the pursuit of their inquiry the Sevastopol Committee trusted entirely to the vague opinions of various witnesses for the size and capabilities of Balaclava, instead of being guided by the Admiralty survey of that port, which had been published as far back as the 18th of December, 1854. If the latter course had been pursued, the Committee would have perceived that there was no truth in the evidence of those who stated that there were no wharfs or landing-places. It would also have been easy to compare the size of Balaclava with that of Kamieseh. I annex a copy of the Admiralty plan of Balaclava, by which it appears that the available space for mooring transports was included between A and C, an extent of 750 yards by an average breadth of about 140 yards, and including the necessary passage for vessels of the largest size.
Sketch of the Balaclava Harbour
The extent of shore adapted for landing from boats was, on the east side 750 yards, and on the west 290 yards. The rest was unavailable, being precipitous rock, or having no inland communication.
The extent, of Kamiesch Bay available for mooring vessels was more than double that of Balaclava, whilst, from the nature of the ground, the whole extent of its shore was available, if required, for landing from boats, or at least three times greater than that of Balaclava.
But, in addition to Kamieseh, the French had full occupation of Strelitska Bay for the purpose of landing stores, and likewise Kazatch Bay, each of which was at least half as large again as Balaclava. The French transports were much smaller than the English, and therefore easier moored.
It has been falsely stated before the Committee, that there were no piers at Balaclava. Thus, to Question 134, Mr. G. Dundas says, "No attempt at piers, the best were trusses of hay;" and (138-9), "All the guns were landed and no shears observed." Lord Cardigan states (5845), "There were no quays for landing horses at Balaclava."
The truth is as follows:—Between the points A and B there, is a shelving beach, with deep water close to the shore. At this point a projecting pier was constructed soon after the Sanspareil's arrival; and at this wharf, in the months of November, December, and January, hundreds of cattle and horses walked ashore from vessels laying alongside, and more than one battalion disembarked in a similar manner. Between the point B and O, the Harbinger was moored parallel to the shore; and in answer to 2391, Mr. Vaux states, "The shore was convenient for landing, and we made a small pier for ourselves”. At O there was a good-sized wharf, where many of ordonance stores were landed, including the heaviest guns and mortars; which I beg to inform Mr. Dundas was accomplished under my superintendance, without the aid of, or necessity for, shears.
Between the points G and F, however, the great bulk of the siege-guns and mortars were landed; and here a pair of shears had been erected for that purpose directly after the harbour was occupied. A good pier was likewise formed at this place, where regiments were often disembarked.
At H there was a small valley, off which H.M.S. Vesuvius was moored; and here was the naval depot for various stores, and where the artificers worked.
Between the points C and F no boat could approach the shore: but from C to 0 there were a number of small landing-places, at which boats were constantly discharging their cargoes.
Mr. Owen, mate of the Resolute, is asked (1599), "Were any quays constructed at Balaclava for landing? —Yes, the Ordnance-wharf; a very fair place." 1600. " Any other?—And little wharf's built out with stakes."
Various incompetent witnesses have recorded their opinions, that the ships in Balaclava were moored on a wrong system ; others, who were gifted with common sense, pronounced a contrary opinion ; and the Committee appear to have formed their judgment without consulting a plan. Some thought the ships should have been all moored fore and aft—others the reverse. The fact, however, is, that both systems were adopted.
At the entrance of the harbour between A and B, where it was narrow, and where few cargoes were landed, the vessels were moored fore and aft. Between B and C the largest vessels were moored across, with their heads pointed out, and ready for a move without disturbing the rest, and leaving a clear passage under their sterns for the boats to discharge cargoes along the line of wharfs. Any other method, with so many enormous steamers, would have been impossible. Mr. Owen, in answer to 1488, says, "Balaclava would hold fifty ships if properly stowed " It happens, however, that two clays before the hurricane a witness (3651) counted sixty vessels in the harbour. The Master of the Himalaya (Mr. Kelloch, 5178), "would have anchored the vessels fore and aft. Under proper arrangements, Balaclava would contain fifty large vessels....would not have allowed his vessel in.’'
Mr. Kellock, it appears, bargains for fifty large vessels on his system ; but, on the system actually pursued, the harbour contained more than eighty vessels, of which at least fifty were large ones. Mr. Vellacott (chief officer of Harbinger), in answer to 3705-6, says, "At the head of the harbour the vessels lay athwart, at the entrance, where it narrowed fore and aft. I think as good a way as they could be anchored." « The Shaftesbury, which lay fore and aft at the entrance, broke adrift in the hurricane."
The evidence of Mr. Clay on this point seems quite conclusive In answer to 3089-90 he says, " The method at Balaclava of anchoring athwart was a good one. It does not take up more room, and admits of a passage in and out better." 3218. The same witness says, "The duties of harbour-master were very efficiently performed."
The Committee have reported that "numerous witnesses testify to the want of arrangement in the harbour of Balaclava, and to the disorder of the shore for the want of sufficient landing-places and wharfs." I have already shown how the Committee were imposed upon with regard to the want of wharf's, and I now assert, that the statements respecting the want of arrangement and want of authority were equally false and without foundation.
They have been circulated by persons who were too blind to observe what really was done, and too ignorant to know what was required ; and their absurdity is proved by the fact, that no complaint has ever been made by either the Commissariat, Ordnance, or Quarter-Master-General's department, of a deficiency in the landing of any supplies required for the use of the army. If, instead of the evidence of incompetent wit¬nesses, the explanatory despatches of Mr. Filder are turned to, it will be seen that the great difficulty of supply depended upon the want of roads to the camp, and store-houses at Balaclava.
The witnesses examined had very confused ideas of the identity of the harbour-master. One witness (146) believed "Captain Powell to be harbour-master under Captain Christie !" &c.
The truth is as follows:—From the 17th of November to the 1st of February, the Captain of the Sanspareil was senior officer and harbour-master. Under him, Captain Powell of the Vesuvius conducted the active duties of piloting and berthing the vessels which entered the port. The crews of the Sanspareil, Vesuvius, Diamond, and Wasp, were employed under their commanding officers in clearing transports, landing-stores, and obeying any requisitions that might be made by the authorities ashore, or the principal agent of transports. This officer being guided by instructions from head-quarters, directed the movements of the transports, and his divisional lieutenants superintended the embarcation of sick and wounded, and other duties which the boats of the transports performed. The private vessels in the harbour were entirely under the control of the senior officer, who could order them out of harbour when he thought fit. In defiance of the truth, the “Times” Correspondent thought proper, on the 25th of November, to write from before Sevastopol the following base calumnies respecting Balaclava. He asks,-" Will it be credited that, with all our naval officers in Balaclava, with nothing else to do, &c, there is no more care taken for the vessels in Balaclava than if they were colliers in a gale off Newcastle ?"
None but weak-minded individuals and the "Times" Correspondent would dream of believing such nonsense, or that "ships come in and anchor where they like, go out when they like, and are permitted to perform whatever vagaries they like, in accordance with the old rule of' higgledy-piggledy, ‘rough-and-tumble,’ combined with happy-go-lucky.’’ After all this twaddle comes the unadorned falsehood,—" Captain Powell, .... a most active and indefatigable officer, is beach-master, but he has no power of interference in such matters," &c.
The truth is, that Captain Powell and his officers were employed from morning till night in getting vessels in and out of harbour and mooring them in their proper berths. This correspondent then proceeds to state, that the vessels in Kamiesch were about tenfold more numerous than in Balaclava. If this were true, there must have been 700 vessels in Kamiesch!!
One more specimen of ornamental fiction from the "Times" Correspondent is as follows. After the usual dose of penny-a-line information respecting some heavy guns in a transport, he says,—" When the Gertrude arrived at Old Fort, had Hercules been set to clear the guns he could not have done it." I am not aware of the precise strength of Hercules, but about seventy of the Sanspareil's crew not only " cleared the guns," but landed five heavy 68-pound iron howitzers before nine o'clock in the morning of the 9th November, having set to work about five o'clock.
I will now give two examples of the care bestowed upon the transports in Balaclava by H.M.S. Sanspareil. On the day after our arrival (October 28th) we commenced as follows: At 4h 30m A.M., in consequence of a sharp cannonading- prepared to leave the harbour. All day the men were employed in different working parties. At 6 P.M. a strong party was sent on board an empty transport to get her out of harbour. Her anchors being foul, a stronger party, with the Commander of Sanspareil and Captain Tatham, went on board at 9 P.M., succeeded in towing her out of harbour at 12 p.M., and did not get on board the ship again till 1 o clock in the morning, when a fresh gale had just sprung up, and all hands were employed till the forenoon in securing the ship. On another occasion, in January, a steam transport ran nto harbour after dark and stuck on the beach. The whole of the crew of Sanspareil were employed from that time till three o'clock in the morning in clearing her and getting her off.
Another correspondent of a morning newspaper, in reference to the gale on the 14th of November, had the impudence to write as follows :—" The officers and crews of the merchant vessels rendered most effective assistance, and succeeded in saving above fifty persons. The credit of having rescued these survivors has been given at head-quarters to the officers and crews of the ship-of-war stationed in the harbour. For the sake of truth, I must deny this statement. The whole credit of the act lies with the crews of the transport ships, and with them alone. Not that I wish to deny the willingness of Sanspareil and other men-of-war to render every assistance possible, but, owing to their crews being actively engaged in the naval batteries, no hands could be spared from the vessels in question. As it is, all the merit lies with the mercantile vessels."
This abominable falsehood is written with an air of the greatest candour ; it is, moreover, "a lie with a circumstance." The truth is, that a lieutenant, boatswain, and a strong party of men, were immediately sent with tackling to the cliffs from H.M.S. Sanspareil, and before night had saved thirty-two persons who were thrown on the rocks, the total number saved being fifty-four. A lieutenant and eight men, moreover, remained on the rocks all night, and in the morning had the satisfaction of saving the sole survivors, a man and a boy, from the Wildwave, who had passed the night in a cleft of the rocks.
The tissue of newspaper fabrication could not, of course, be complete without some allusion to the sick. Thus, another correspondent has falsely stated that there were "no boats to take off the sick. Her Majesty's vessels in Balaclava have such a number of boats that those of Sanspareil could have taken off any number. Here were 500 men suffering and dying within twenty yards of a row of English vessels, bur honest Jack turned his back," &c. There was certainly no duty that was so strictly attended to in the Sanspareil as that ot looking after the sick; and it is scarcely necessary to explain, that there were always more boats employed on this service than could be of any real use. The delay occurred in getting the invalids up the steep sides of the transports, and thus the boats were loaded much faster then they could be cleared. I have heard of a staff-officer making the same complaint in ignorance, having rifdden down from head-quarters and observed the invalids waiting for their turn on the beach.
In the Report on the Hospitals of the East, by the Government Commissioners, certain questions were addressed by them to the surgeons in charge of invalids between the Crimea am Scutari. To the question of, Whether any unnecessary delay took place in the embarkation of sick at Balaclava between the 28th of October and the 1st of February? thirty-six surgeons" whose names will be found in the Report, have answered in the negative.
The evidence of Mr. Clay on the state of the harbour is quite conclusive.
In answer to various questions he said :—
2770-1. "There were several harbour-masters very active indeed, and praiseworthy."
2774. "They did all in their power certainly."
2775. " I am not aware they could have done more than they did."
2935. "The first person on board was the Port-master."
2961. "The carcases and offal could not have been removed easily; there would have been a vast deal of difficulty, there was such a want of labour."
2966. " Does not know how the offal could have been cleared out .... not an engineer."
2967. " It was inevitable that the offal should have been there. There was such a scarcity that labour could not have been found."
3016-7. "Did not see much confusion. There was order and regularity."
3215. "The landing of bullocks from the Emperor was done quickly and well."
3218. "The duties of harbour-master were very efficiently performed."
3271. "The merchant captains were treated by naval and military authorities very well."
3272. "They had no difficulty in carrying on their affairs."
As a specimen of the general duties carried on by the Sanspareil, I will give the night orders of November 8th. :
— "The gunner and twenty of his crew to fill cartridges from Turkish ammunition. The gunner of the Wasp to be employed with a party of the Retribution's men for the sanie purpose, at Diamond wharf. Every exertion to be used for landing the howitzers from the Gertrude. The embarking of wounded to be ready to commence at 7 A.M. ; our flat boats to be sent. A lump to be sent with a party to clear the Italian brig of provisions and shot. A party from Wasp to land hay, and from Diamond to land oats. Parties to assist in landing cargoes from Minna and Brenda. Notice to be given to all private traders that they will be towed out after four days anchorage in this port. Shark to be assisted in coaling Brenda ; when clear, to be sent to cattle-vessels. Minna to proceed to the Prince for the purpose of landing her cargo."
Besides this, all the marines had been landed, together with two lieutenants and forty men, for the service of the batteries. Out of the rest of the crew, thirty men were employed as entries: boats' crews had to be provided ; sailmakers constantly repairing tents. Engineers, stokers, and blacksmiths had to keep in repair three tug-steamers and two iron steamers, besides being hard at work making coffee-roasters, and constantly repairing gun-gear from the camp.'
The carpenters were always at work repairing transport including the spring-beams of two of the largest steamers in less time than it would have taken at Constantinople. Latterly the boatswain and forty men were employed for three weeks in the worst weather, in erecting stabling for 240 mules; and this work was ably accomplished without the aid of carpenters Mr. Murdoch, the chief engineer, revented the heavy guns whilst in position and under fire. The Commissariat were chiefly dependent on the Sanspareil's boats for landing daily the provisions and forage for the whole army.
A great deal of nonsense was talked about the coaling at Balaclava : the facts are these :—
After the bad weather set in, the few colliers which were necessary for the fleet were moored in Balaclava ; and when a vessel was in want of coals, a collier went alongside and delivered the required supply. The large transports naturally coaled at Constantinople, and very seldom required any supply at Balaclava. Mr. Clay complains that the Emperor only procured thirty-five tons a-day. The Indiana, however, was able to hoist in upwards of 100 tons a-day from a vessel alongside. To have landed the cargoes, simply for the purpose of re-embarking them, would have been ridiculous, even if it had been practicable. To have adopted the Maltese system, of keeping several hundred tons afloat upon the decks of immense lighters, would have been impossible.
Mr. Macdonald,in reply to question 6179, stated as follows:
—" The harbour was so frightfully filthy, that the water, which ought to have been dark-coloured, was a bright green mixed with gray, and stunk like a drain ; in fact, was a cesspool—a sewer."
This is entirely false; for the decks ofH.M.S. Sanspareil were washed with the water in question every day ; and 1 can state from experience that it bwas perfectly clean. The “bright green” colour mixed with grey “depended upon the quantity of rain fallen, and consequent state of the streams which discharged their contents in to the harbour. After very heavy rains, or a thaw, the whole harbour was the colour of a turbid river. As late as the 19th of June, Dr. Sutherland, the chief sanitary Commissioner, wrote to Lord Shaftesbury as follows: - “Balaclava harbour is much sweeter than the Thames. Liverpool dock basins smell worse every day than Balaclava harbour did at the worst.
In conclusion, I give a direct contradiction to those who have stated that no means were taken for clearing away the carcases. 1 Ins was invariably done when boats could be spared for the purpose. It is also false to state that the wreck wood was not collected, or that its appropriation to the wants of the army was prevented.
With regard to the management of the transport service, the calumnies against the late Captain Christie have now been disproved. One of the most ridiculous was, that he had prevented certain bags of charcoal from being landed from the Himalaya before leaving Balaclava, on the 28th of October. The facts are these:
—The Himalaya, on the occasion in question, landed the bat horses and ambulance corps from Varna ; she then received orders to return immediately to Varna for the remainder of the medical staff, stores, and troops: all the above being urgently required, which the charcoal was not, and would have been discharged on her return, after Varna had been finally cleared out. The Himalaya accordingly started with these orders on the 28th of October'—her return being, of course, anxiously expected. In the meantime the Sea Nymph, Captain Tallan, discharged charcoal at Balaclava on the 3d of November, quite as early as it could be required.
The anxiety of the master of the Himalaya to get rid of his charcoal is easily explained. It appears (from 5119). that Mr. Kelloch had applied to be superseded from his command on account of ill-health, and probably did not wish to make another trip to the Crimea: he had, moreover (5119), four times previously reported that his ship was defective. The distance from Balaclava to Varna is only 296 miles, or little more than a day's passage; but on arriving at Varna, charged with an important commission, instead of performing it, he proceeded to Constantinople, and from thence to Malta, for repairs. If the Himalaya could make the passage from Varna to Malta —a distance of more than 1000 miles—in safety, it is clear that she would have been capable of returning to the Crimea according to her instructions; but at Constantinople Mr. Kelloch found the officer who was to supersede him, which sufficiently explains the whole proceeding: and the penny-a-liners abused Captain Christie for not landing the charcoal!
I will now give a specimen of Mr. Layard's attempts to get up evidence against Captain Christie, in putting the following , questions to Mr. Clay :—Thus, 2941. "Were Captain Christies orders very definite or very distinct?—A. Generally, very distinct." 3273- " The only person you had to complain of was Captain Christie?—A. No. I do not complain of him at all" Not satisfied with this, Mr. Layard again asks :—3274. "You have no reason to complain of him ?—A. Not at all. He was a very gentlemanly man." Some of Mr. Layard's questions were purely ridiculous, such as inquiring whether any means were taken to cover the pits at Col de Balaclava with boards, to enable the horses to get over them; the said pits being, in fact, trous de loup outside the ditch of the line of fortification, and of course, not made in the road at all. Lord Cardigan is asked more than once if he remembered horses falling into a well!- the wells at Balaclava being very narrow and surrounded with high stone rims. Lord Cardigan replies that he remembered some falling into the water during the disembarkation of the staff-corps. Having been myself present on the occasion, I can give a satisfactory explanation of the occurrence. It was late one evening in the winter that the Brenda came alongside the wharf with about twenty-five horses, and the staff-corps, their owners, were anxious that they should be landed before dark. Mr. Williams, the energetic commander of the Brenda, prepared a means of landing them by laying several planks from the steamer to the shore, and himself led the horses across; but three or four of them slipped and fell in the water, about two feet deep, and then reached the shore. I then ordered him not to land any more till I had sent a carpenter from the Sanspareil to nail battens for the horses' feet. It is a pity that this dreadful accident has been so long confined to the knowledge of only Lord Cardigan, the staff-corps, Mr. Williams, and myself: it would have told well at a public dinner, and would have been invaluable to a penny-a liner. At question 3057, Mr. Layard asks if " the horses eat their own tails or those of their neighbours?" (!) To which the witness naturally replies,—" I should think you could judge of that yourself: how could the horses eat their own tails?" Another absurd idea of Mr. Layard's was, that many of the tents had been used in the Peninsula and were rotten. This, of course, goes the usual round of foolish gossip; but how few in number are those who will see the refutation printed in the Appendix, as follows:—
* New tents issued to 31st March, 1855 - 11,500.
* Used - 1,520"
They had been used at Chobham (not in the Peninsula) where they were quite new, and strictly examined, and repaired before their re-issue.
A great deal of senseless clamour has been raised because Lord Raglan did not employ his army in making roads To tins Sir De Lacy Evans states, that "No road was attempted because all the men, and more than could and ought to have been spared, were at the trenches." We have seen that, in fact, until the siege was over, no road could be attempted and even then it has taken 10 000 men for more than six weeks to complete it only from Kadikoi. A witness stated before the Committee that the French had as far to go with supplies for a certain portion of their army as the English had. This was not the fact during the depth of winter; for at that period, and before the French took the extreme right attack, Bosquet's corps had no trench duty to perform, and therefore their distance from the point of supply was comparatively of no consequence. In fact, the main body of the French army was only one mile from Strelitzka, and tivo and a half from Kamiesch Bay. The extreme point of their trenches was only four miles from Kamiesch Bay, while the English trenches were eight miles from Balaclava, and on a worse line of road.
On the whole, the English army had at least a double distance to perform for transport. From Colonel M'Murdo's report it appears that 14,000 animals, in conjunction with the railway, are only just sufficient to supply the army in its present position, and we know from Colonel Simmonds, that the Russian army in the Principalities employed no less than 140,000 waggons. Much has been said of the deficiency of food for the army. The real truth has at last appeared in the returns on that point, duly certified by the commanding officers. They are as follows :—
First Division, in November, December, and January, was deficient half-a-gill of rum per man for one day, and two days' allowance of sugar for the same period in one regiment.
Second Division.—The only deficiency occurred in November and December, and amounted to half-a-pound of meat for each man, for one day, in the course of two months. Fuel and candles always procurable at Balaclava.
Third Division.—From 1st of December to 26th of January, 2| pounds of meat and one pound of biscuit deficient to each man.
Fourth Division.—For December, 9 pounds of meat, 4 ounces of biscuit, lj ounce coffee, 2? ounces of sugar, 6 gills of rum deficient. For January, 4 ounces meat, 5 ounces biscuit, 2 ounces sugar, 2i gills of rum deficient.
In the cavalry" there were no deficiencies of provisions. On November 8th, the Correspondent of the "Times, says :—" Mr Filder deserves the greatest praise for his exertions in supplying the men with food. The stories circulated respecting insufficiency and irregularity are base calumnies. No 14 army was ever fed with more punctuality, and no armv was ever so well fed in such circumstances." Then on DECEMBER 1ST, he says : "The army is suffering greatly ; suddenly reduced to short allowance, and the ample rations they have hitherto enjoyed cut off or miserably reduced. For nine days there has been, with very few exceptions, no issue of tea, coffee, or sugar. These, however, are luxuries, not necessaries."
On November 2d, he writes: "We hear the distressing intelligence that 3000 workmen are building huts at Consttinople for wintering." In spite of this testimony from their Correspondent, the writers in the "Times" have the impudence to assert — and have gulled all weak-minded persons into believing—that they alone were aware of the sufferings of the army ; and that if they had not induced the Government to send huts, warm clothing, and reinforcements, none of them would have been sent!
The General who had the resolution to determine, and the army which had the constancy and bravery to undergo the sufferings consequent on maintaining their position throughout that fearful winter, performed the noblest duty that an English army ever fulfilled ; and the men who necessarily perished by that stern resolve, had as much glory in their death as those more fortunate ones had who died in action. This will be the judgment of posterity when the calumnies of anonymous writers are forgotten.
It has been the common cant of the day to term the battle of Inkermann "the soldier's battle." And a Mr. Bennoch, at. one of the muddy meetings of Administrative Reformers, asserted the infamous falsehood that " if the officers had done their duty, the blood of the men would have been spared." If Mr. Bennoch had known what he was talking about, the returns of killed and wounded alone would have disproved his assertion. In the first battalion of Coldstream Guards eight officers were killed and nine privates. In all parts of the field the men fought with and under their officers ; all the force that could be spared from the trenches was brought to the point assailed ; and the gallant Sir George Cathcart led his division to turn the Russian flank. It might as well be stated that Waterloo was a soldier's battle, because the English only maintained their ground for several hours.
The anonymous writers in the " Times " and other newspapers had assumed that Sevastopol was to fall an easy prey to the invading army ; and accordingly, up to the first check on the 17th of October, all arrangements were praised. But when the hour of disappointment arrived, to save their own credit the newspaper writers basely attacked that army which had always been in the post of honour, and had clone the hardest work. From the landing at Knlarmta bay to the fall of Sebastopol the English army has only sustained a loss of 3000 men and officers killed in action – being about 1000 more than the number of Russians killed in one day at the assault of Kars. When it is considered that our operations included two pitched battles and two assaults, besides numerous skirmishes and eleven months’ service in th trenches, the very small comparative loss m action our army has sustained is the only true measure of the military skill which has been exercised.
Mr. Layard seems to have determined to misrepresent even the events of the first landing. He states at (2334), (2442) and (2464), that we had no flat-boats but paddle-boats, and were compelled to borrow from the French ; that there were only 400 cavalry ; and that there was not much sickness. He also thought it extraordinary that there were no troops in the liners; and that a Captain had told him he could stowaway a regiment without his knowing it. All these allegations and insinuations are untrue. The facts are as follows : All the French line-of-battle ships were crowded with troops. On board the Sanspareil and Bellerophon there were more than 200 in each, which left only eight sail of the line to cope with the Russian fleet of fourteen sail. It is absurd to suppose that a line-of-battle ship can fight when crowded with troops.
There was a vast deal of cholera in the fleet when coming across ; four or five men in each ship dying of cholera daily. And when the sick were sent to the Kangaroo on the 15th of September, her crew were literally employed during the night in throwing the dead overboard to clear the decks before weighing. Instead of only 400 cavalry we had 1000, whilst the French had none. If Mr. Layard had occupied at the landing as good a position as he did at the battle of Alma, he would have observed that, in addition to the paddle-boats of the steamers, every English line-of-battle ship carried outside her, hung to spars, from four to six immense boats of seventy feet in length. These boats at daylight on the 14th of September were lowered into the water, and strong platforms were secured across each pair, forming large pontoons, on which the English Cavalry and Artillery were landed. There were also large Maltese lumps and two river-steamers, which landed whole regiments at once on the beach. Our arrangements for the landing were, in fact, superior to those of the French.
The misstatements and absurdities which have been published in connexion with the shore operations are of the grossest I description; but few have surpassed what the writer of “A Month in the Camp, &c." has thought proper to assert respecting the proceedings of the Sanspareil on the 17th of October. The work in question states that the “Sanspareil being compelled to retire for twenty-six minutes, suffered proportionally far more injury during her temporary retreat than in her original position." This is entirely false. The Sanspareil never quitted her position till the action was over; but once owing to her too great proximity to the Agamemnon, was forced to steam round short in her own length and anchor afresh an operation which did not take up more than six or seven minutes, and during which not a man was touched. It has been the fashion to state that the action of the 17th of October proved that the closer a ship is to a battery the less damage she will receive. The truth is, however, that the Albion, Arethusa, and Sanspareil were the closest ships to the Wasp and Cliff batteries; and that the Albion and Arethusa were compelled to retire in the course of about an hour, whilst the Sanspareil suffered much loss—but not a gun from the principal face of Fort Constantine could bear on either these ships or the Agamemnon ; and the Agamemnon, though nearest to Fort Constantine, was further than any of the before-mentioned vessels from the Cliff and Wasp batteries.