This clash was something of a dress rehearsal for a much more serious clash on 5 November. The north-eastern corner of the plateau occupied by the allies before Sevastopol featured an area of high ground about 1.5 by 0.75 miles (2.4 by 1.2km). It was known to the British as Mount Inkerman and the Russians as Cossack Mountain, was bordered on the west deep Careenage Ravine, and to the east the escarpment of Sapoune Ridge.
Roughly in the middle of Mount Inkerman and 2,000yds (1,830m) south-east of Sevastopol stood Shell Hill, approximately 600ft (180m) above sea level, with two extensions, East and West Gut. About a quarter of a mile (0.4km) from the southern end of the Quarry Ravine, 1,200yds (1,100m) from Shell Hill and 30ft (9m) higher than it, was the L-shaped Home Ridge. This would be the focal point of the forthcoming battle and was where 6,500 'muffin caps' of Russian infantry with four field guns had been repulsed during the skirmish on 26 October.
On Mount Inkerman, which comprised rocky scrubland, were two small defence works. Just north-east of Home Ridge was the Sandbag Battery - an empty 9ft-high (3m) position with embrasures cut for two guns to cover the Tchernaya river below, but no banquette for small arms. In front of Home Ridge, where the old post road emerged from the Quarry Ravine on to the plateau, stood a 4ft-high (1.2m) heap of stones known as The Barrier. Another 2ft-high (0.6m) rampart, called Herbert's Folly, on Home Ridge offered some protection for gunners. There were no entrenchments, only these meagre protective walls.
In this area, the British 2nd Division, commanded by Major-General J. L. Pennefather in place of the sick de Lacy Evans, deployed approximately 3,000 men either south of Home Ridge or thrown forward in pickets. About a mile (1.6km) to the south, the Brigade of Guards was encamped with a troop of horse artillery, but also had a forward picket overlooking the Careenage Ravine. Bosquet's Corps of Observation was yet a further mile south on Pennefather in an emergency would not, therefore, be easy.
For Prince A. S. Menshikov, the Russian commander, the episode of Little Inkerman had been no more than a reconnaissance in force. On the basis of what he learnt, he drew up a plan to drive the British from Mount Inkerman and disrupt their communication with Balaclava. General P. D. Gorchakov, with 22,000 troops and
88 guns, would advance across the Tchernaya towards the Fedioukine Hills, 'to support the general attack, distracting the enemy forces. trying to secure the approach to the Sapoune, the dragoons being ready to scale the heights at the first opportunity'. Lieutenant-General F. I. Soimonov, with 19,000 men and 38 guns, was to emerge from Sevastopol at 6 am to cross the Careenage Ravine and advance along the two gullies on to the plateau. Lieutenant-General P. Ia. Pavlov, leading 16,000 men and 96 guns, would leave the Mackenzie Heights at 5 am, descend to the Tchernaya and cross Tractir Bridge and the aqueduct to attain the heights from the north-east via the three ravines.
These two columns were to meet in the area of Shell Hill at 7 am, where the 4 Corps commander, General P. A. Dannenberg, would take tactical charge of the operation. Lieutenant-General F. F. von Moeller, commanding the land forces in Sevastopol, was to cover the attackers with his batteries and make a demonstration on the allied left to discourage the French from reinforcing Mount Inkerman. The attacking force that was ordered to 'seize and occupy the heights', exclusive of Moeller's troops, therefore totalled 57,000 men and 222 guns, with another 4,000 men and 36 guns in reserve on Mackenzie Heights.
Fortunately for the British, Pavlov and Soimonov did not achieve the required co-ordination, Pavlov being delayed for two hours at the Tchernaya by bridge repairs. Perhaps, even more fortunately, Dannenberg's plan for Soimonov to keep west of Careenage Ravine to clear Victoria Ridge on Pavlov's flank was not followed. Still more galling for the Russians, Gorchakov inexplicably left the bulk of his force east of the Tchernaya, and Bosquet quickly realised that his threat was not dangerous. This allowed the French corps commander readily to support Pennefather.
Battle of Inkerman, 5 November 1854. Major-General J. L Pennefather (mounted centre), temporarily leading the British 2nd Division in place of its sick commander Lieutentant-General Sir Geory de Lacy Evans, watches British infantry repulse Russians (right), as reinforcements approach (left). (Author's collection)