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power,” and prevent Russia from gaining a footing at Constantinople and in the south of Europe, determined to assist Turkey.
The British contingent of the allied army furnished by Great Britain and France for the support and defence of the Sultan of Turkey, left London in February, 1854. It was at first believed by many persons—and the British Ministry shared in that belief —that Russia, alarmed at so formidable a demonstration, would withdraw her pretensions; and it was commonly said that our troops would never go farther than Malta. But the folly of a hope so sanguine eventually became manifest; and after wasting several months at Gallipoli and Scutari, the allied generals, Lord Raglan and Marshal St. Arnaud, resolved upon disembarking their army in the Crimea, and attempting the capture of Sebastopol—a fortress which, from its strength, resources, and position, was justly deemed a constant danger to Turkey.
The troops embarked at Varna on the 29th of August, and the vast flotilla which carried them sailed from Varna Bay in the course of the ensuing week. On the 14th it arrived off a point on the Crimean coast near Eupatoria. Under the superintendence of Admiral Sir E. Lyons, the disembarkation was effected with admirable 'ease.
On Monday morning, September 19th, the allied armies commenced their march upon Sebastopol, and moved along the coast, with their flank covered by England's glorious fleet, “ darkening the air with innumerable columns of smoke, ready to shell the enemy should they attack the right, and commanding the land for nearly two miles from the shore."
The Russians had occupied the heights of the river Alma in force, with the view of disputing the advance of the allies, who prepared to force this formidable position on Tuesday, September the 20th. The movements of the English were made dependent upon those of the French, who were to attack the Russian left, and in conjunction with one British division the centre also, while the rest of the British forces hurled themselves against the Russian right. The allies mustered about 55,000 men; the Russians, 40,000 but the latter were placed in a defensive position of remarkable strength. The hills which rise beyond the Alma vary in height from 100 to 600 feet, and this formidable ridge had been strongly fortified by the Russians, with batteries, redoubts (or outworks) and deep trenches, so that it seemed doubtful whether in the teeth of a determined foe it could ever be carried. The French commenced the attack; and when they had gained some slight success against the Russian left, the British, who could no longer be restrained, rushed, with loud cheers, into the fight. The Guards advanced under a terrible fire with all the precision of a movement on parade; and our troops, though swept down by hundreds, would not be beaten. They scaled the heights, and drove the Russians from them at the point of the bayonet. Equally impetuous was now the French attack; and before evening, the Russian army abandoned their almost impregnable position, and retreated in the utmost disorder, with a loss of from 6000 to 7000 men. The English lost in killed and wounded about 1800; the French, 1600.
It is to be regretted that the allied generals were ignorant of the full extent of the victory they had won at the Alma. There can be little doubt but that, had the whole army moved at once upon Sebastopol, that city would have surrendered, so great was the disorganization and so complete the panic which pervaded the Russian forces.
The Light Cavalry Charge at Balaklava.—The 25th of October will always be famous in the annals of the British army as the day whereon occurred the “light cavalry charge” of Balaklava. A fierce attack had been made by the Russians on the Turkish position, and Lord Raglan, the English general, ordered up the first and fourth divisions to defeat it. General Canrobert, of the French army, also despatched a considerable body of troops for the same purpose. The British cavalry were on the scene of action, burning with impatience to launch themselves at the foe. Sir Colin Campbell, who was in command of the little port of Balaklava, had drawn up the 93rd Highlanders on the Balaklava Road, so as to defend the town. The Turks, after a few rounds, having retreated, the brunt of the battle, it was evident, must fall on the English.
The Turks, indeed, formed into companies on the flanks of the Highlanders,-prepared to receive the Russian cavalry, 3500 in number, with resolute courage, but after firing a volley at 800 yards they again took to flight. The Highlanders were drawn up in the ordinary British line (two deep); for, said Sir Colin Campbell, “I did not think it worth while to form them even four deep!” But against that “thin red streak tipped with a line of steel,” the Russian horsemen were hopelessly brought up.
A large body of the Russian cavalry was now seen riding towards our position. The British heavy cavalry brigade, though wofully inferior in number, prepared to attack them. Right at their centre, with a cheer and a shout, dashed the Scots Greys and the Enniskilleners.
Their onset made a terrible impression on the Russians, who gave way in all directions, and in doing so drew down the English cavalry upon their infantry. General Scarlett, however, succeeded in keeping his men together, and, having effected the object of his charge by dispersing the enemy, regained successfully his original position.
The English were at this time much annoyed by a few Russian guns. Lord Raglan (it is said) resolved to drive them from the field, and for this purpose to employ both his heavy and light cavalry. The latter, some 700 strong, under the Earls of Lucan and Cardigan, were drawn up in battle array, when Captain Nolan-an enthusiastic cavalry officer, who entertained, it is known, an exaggerated opinion of what could be done by cavalry—bore to them a message from the Commanderin-Chief. The Earl of Lucan could scarcely believe that his general designed to throw his small body of horsemen against the strongest point of the Russian line, and looked round in vain for the promised support. He was about to despatch a remonstrance to Lord Raglan, but Captain Nolan intimated that a direct order had been given, and must be obeyed. Lord Lucan then gave the necessary directions to Lord Cardigan, who, in his turn, complained that certain destruction lay before his scanty squadrons, if they were complied with. But English soldiers are jealous lest any suspicion of want of courage should attach to them; and therefore Cardigan gave his men the word, and they charged!
Yes, these 600 or 700 bold riders dashed through a fearful fire upon the Russian artillery, and actually sabred the gunners at their guns. But, meanwhile, they found themselves completely surrounded by the Russian hosts. Already terribly weakened, Captain Nolan, by the way, was the first who fell,—they drew rein, faced about, and coolly rode once more against their enemies. Nearly every saddle was emptied; and the few who escaped were only saved by a daring rush most opportunely attempted by the heavy brigade.
In this memorable cavalry fight the total killed, wounded, and missing was 426. Well might the French officers, in one pithy phrase, praise the gallantry as well as blame the impolicy of the attack: “It was magnificent, it was heroic, but it was not war!”
“Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Volleyed and thundered ;
Left of six hundred !
All the world wondered.
Noble six hundred!”-TENNYSON,
The Conclusion of Peace. It is not our business to write the history of the siege of Sebastopol; to tell of the horrors of that fearful winter of 1854-5, when our brave troops were smitten down by disease and famine, owing in no slight measure to our defective military system; when English charity came to the rescue with such a lavish outpouring of stores and money as the world had never seen; when Florence Nightingale smoothed the sick soldiers' pillow, and watched by the bed of death, and England and her Government learnt a fearful lesson at the cost of half an army. It is not for us to trace the varying fortunes of that famous siege, the steps by which the allies drew nearer and nearer to the doomed fortress, nor the improved condition of the troops, effected by national liberality and unceasing exertions. It is some satisfaction to know that England soon made up fully for all shortcomings, and that the conclusion of the war found her just preparing to bring all her immense resources into action: a noble army, recruited, refreshed, admirably equipped and provided, and two such mighty fleets in the Baltic and the Black Sea as never before had quitted her island harbours. The attacks on the Mamelon, the Redan, and the Malakhoff, the three most strongly fortified batteries of the Russians, are still familiar to English memories, and our brief sketch of the Crimean war may be terminated by the statement that the ruined city of Sebastopol fell into the hands of the allies on the oth of September, 1855. The Malakhoff was captured on the previous day, and the Russians immediately retreated.
Both armies passed the ensuing winter in the Crimea, and vast preparations were made for the next campaign. But Russia was incapable of prolonging the war. She had lost army after army in the Crimea, her resources were exhausted, her troops dispirited, her military credit was rudely shaken. The Emperor Nicholas had gone to his grave, broken hearted, and his successor, Alexander, eagerly seized an opportunity of concluding peace. This was effected on the 2nd of April, 1856, and the allied armies shortly afterwards left the Crimea.— Adapted. from Adams's 'Memorable Battles in English History.'
THE GREAT EXHIBITION IN A.D. 1851.
INDUSTRIAL EXHIBITIONS began among the French, their Expositions, as they are termed, having been eleven in number up to the year 1849. In England the first exhibition of the same kind was the National Repository, opened under royal patronage in 1828, near Charing Cross, London, but it was not successful. Other exhibitions were opened at Manchester in 1837, at Leeds in 1839, and at Birmingham in 1849. Mr. Haydn, in his
Dictionary of Dates,' tells us that the original idea of a National Exhibition, or rather of a Universal Exhibition, is attributed to Mr. F. Whishaw, the Secretary of the Society of Arts, in 1844. It was not taken up until 1849, when His Royal Highness Prince Albert, the Consort of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and then president of the Society of Arts, used these memorable words: “Now is the time to prepare for a great exhibition, an exhibition worthy of the greatness of this country, not merely national in its scope and benefits, but comprehensive of the whole world ; and I offer myself to the public as their leader, if they are willing to assist in the undertaking.” A Royal Commission was appointed in January, 1850, to give effect to His Royal Highness's proposal, and a subscription list was opened, which the Queen headed by contributing the sum of a thousand pounds. The palace, which was open altogether during one hundred and fortyfour days, was visited within that period by 6,170,000 persons. The greatest number of visitors in one day was 109,760, and at one time (namely, at two o'clock on the 7th of October, 1851) as many as 93,000 persons were present. This vast concourse was assembled at one time, not in an open area like a Roman amphitheatre, but, it should be recollected, within a windowed, and