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 Winter turmoil

In the immediate aftermath of victory, Pennefather exclaimed: 'I tell you, we gave 'em a hell of a towelling.' A cooler appreciation of the allied position was, however, required. A Council of War the following day acknowledged that Sevastopol would not fall before winter. De Lacy Evans was among those who favoured raising the siege and withdrawal from the Crimea.

Raglan realised that this would signal abject failure, successful re-invasion of the peninsula being highly unlikely. He persuaded the doubters that the siege must continue. Frantic requests now went to England for building material to construct 'sheds', more entrenching tools, sandbags, engineers and artillery. In the short term, Dundas agreed to off-load further naval guns and bring up heavy mortars from Malta. Despite the doubts and disputes, the Battle of Inkerman was heralded as another allied victory; and in its wake Raglan became a field marshal.

 

A 'fearful gale' (to many 'a hurricane') on 14 November swept away tents and equipment and sank 21 British vessels from the Katcha to Sevastopol, including several like Prince carrying much-needed supplies. In the words of Corporal W. McMillan, it was 'one of the roughest days that ever man was out in'. Continuing losses of horses and men through disease and wounds made matters infinitely worse. It was totally unrealistic for a new arrival, Captain Hedley Viccars, to write: 'We are anxiously waiting for Lord Raglan to storm Sebastopol [sic]; for, though we must lose many in doing it, yet anything would be better than seeing our soldiers dying there daily.' Raglan did not have enough men to storm the port, and disagreement between the allies over the focal points of the Russian defences did not help either. Burgoyne argued that the Malakov on the allied right was the key fortification; the French, the Flagstaff Bastion west of Man of War Harbour.
So weak was the British situation that Raglan pleaded for not only more men but also urgent replacement of officers: three generals had been killed at Inkerman, three invalided home and three more seriously wounded, numbers that included four divisional commanders (Cathcart, Cambridge, Evans and Brown). Cardigan went home sick to a hero's welcome, while still at the front Lucan erupted in a welter of self-righteousness when Raglan's dispatch on Balaclava became known. In it Raglan criticised the Cavalry Division commander for believing that he must 'attack at all hazards' and further pointed out to Lucan that 'attack' appeared nowhere in the relevant order. The acrimonious dispute between field marshal and lieutenant-general would rumble on until February 1855, when Lucan was recalled by the government to preserve military discipline.

 

 

 
Meanwhile, towards the end of January, the French with their superior numbers had taken over the extreme right of the line in front of the Malakov and Mamelon defence works, while the British concentrated on the Great Redan. At least this solved the strategic problem: the area east of Man War Harbour was now recognised as th critical point.

Raglan had insufficient men to mak adequate roads, and supplies were sadl deficient: 'such roads ... such ground ..a depth of mud,' Estcourt exclaimed. During the bitterly cold days of December, the fuel ration was reduced and, although more food reached Balaclava, the means to convey it to the siege lines was lacking; the land transport system virtually non-existent. On 14 December, Raglan tersely wrote to Commissary-General William Filder: 'Something must really be done to place the supply of the army upon a more satisfactory footing or the worst consequences may follow.' But Raglan had no direct control over Filder and the Commissariat, even when responsibility for that department passed from the Treasury to the Secretary of State for War ten days later.

Raglan suffered similar frustration with the medical services, which owed allegiance to the Army and Ordnance Medical Department in London. Dr J. (later Sir John) Hall blandly rejected Raglan's complaints about lack of hospital orderlies: 'I considered them sufficient ... and I do still.' Florence Nightingale, who had arrived at Scutari on 4 November 1854 with 38 female nurses due to public and political dismay at reported medical shortcomings, penned a furious letter to Sidney Herbert, Secretary at War in London, about lack of hygiene: 'The vermin might, if they had but "unity of purpose", carry off the four miles of beds on their backs and march with them into the War Office and Horse Guards.' Like Raglan, she was facing the inbuilt inertia and vested interests engrained in a long-standing administrative system. In January 1855, Miss Nightingale gauged that over 50 per cent of the British troops in the Crimea were sick. Captain C. F. Campbell recorded that on one day in that month, the 63rd Foot could parade only seven fit men.

 

 

 

 

 

  Battle of Inkerman

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