Fall of Sevastopol, 7 June- 8 September 1855
The Fedioukine Hills lay 1,000yds (915m) from Sapoune Ridge and comprised three separate features scarred by deep ravines, which impeded easy movement. To reach them from the Mackenzie Heights, the Russians needed to cross the Tchernaya, 25ft (8m) wide, 6ft (2m) deep and edged with treacherous marshland, besides negotiating in front of it an aqueduct (canal) with steep masonry sides. Defending the Fedioukine Hills, the French had 18,000 men with 48 guns under General Herbillon deployed each side of the road from Tractir Bridge across the Plain of Balaclava, and they established a bridgehead east of the Tchernaya protected by earthworks.
On the French right flank, some 2,000yds (1,830m) further south and 3,000yds (2,745m) from the escarpment, lay high ground at right angles to the Woronzov Heights, overlooking bridges across the Tchernaya and the aqueduct. This t and its vicinity were occupied by 9,000 Sardinians and 36 guns, with a infantry and artillery detachment o the river on Telegraph Hill. A further 50 squadrons of French and British were in the area between the Fedioukine Hills and Kadikoi; 20 squadrons of French cavalry, two infantry divisions and 12 guns in the Baidar Valley. Ten thousand Turkish infantry and 36 guns formed additional reserves.
The allies knew that Russians were constructing portable bridges for the river and aqueduct; in turn, Gorchakov was aware that the allies expected an attack. Nevertheless, he was committed to mounting one. On the Russian right, General-Adjutant N. A. Read with two infantry divisions was ordered 'to engage the Fediukin [sic] by artillery fire and prepare to cross the river' in the area of Tractir Bridge, but not to do so without Gorchakov's specific permission. On Read's left, Lieutenant-General P. P. Liprandi, also with two divisions, was similarly to seize Telegraph Hill with one division and await further orders. His second division would move towards Chorgun and the Baidar Valley.
Battle of the Tchernaya, 16 August 1855. Russian troops from the Mackenzie Heights (background) cross the Tractir Bridge (centre) and a narrow bridge over the aqueduct (foreground) to be driven back from the Fedioukine Hills by French units including Zouaves. (Author's collection)