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48

THE FRENCH CAMP.

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hands.' We then rode across a large ravine, and came to the French camp. They occupy the extreme left or south side of the town, while the English hold the position to the right and north. The French have advanced much nearer the walls with their trenches than the English, and say they will be the first to make the assault and enter the town, and that they will even go in alone if the English are not ready to join them. From this point we had a fine view of the allied fleet lying off Cape Chersonese, watching the movements of the Russians, though they do not venture to enter the harbour, and risk a hand-to-hand engagement with them.

“So I set out alone to cross the valley and ascend the hill; and then I saw another hill beyond, where a still better view might be obtained, and having gained this, I could see the Russian fleet, Fort Constantine, the narrow entrance of the harbour, where they have sunk their ships, the walls and fortifications of the town, with perfect distinctness. Yet I saw another height beyond, still nearer, and was advancing towards it when I suddenly came upon a dead Russian lying beside his horse upon the field, and then another pear by—and cannon-balls and shells were now scattered thick around—and the dogs, preying upon the dead horses, began to bark at me--and the battery opened its fire, sending large shells whizzing through the air. Just then, too, I looked down into the ravine below, and saw a suspicious-looking party of men, and all at once it flashed upon me that I had probably gone beyond the English lines. I immediately beat a retreat, and hastened back to the camp, where I related the adventure to my friend. It was wise that I had returned, for, said he, the enemy's advance battery is just

VIEW OF THE ENCAMPMENT.

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there, and the Cossacks frequently come over the hill, in reconnoitring parties.

“It is now evening and quite too late to return to-night to Balaklava, seven miles distant. I therefore accepted my friend's kind invitation to spend the night in his tent. We have very plain fare-cold salt pork, hard sea-biscuit, and coffee that is picked green, and roasted, and pounded fine with large stones—and this at the table of a commissioned officer in the English army; yet I relished it well, since it was most heartily given. As it is clear moonlight, I spend an hour in visiting the soldiers in their tents. I found one or more sick and suffering in almost every tent, wrapped in blankets, and lying on the cold, damp ground. They complained of want of warm winter clothing and suitable provisions, having nothing but salt meat and no wood to cook it, stale pilot-biscuit, and green coffee, and no fire to roast it, and no medical attendance whatever; and yet they are obliged to lie out in the trenches at night exposed to the wet and cold, and in constant fear of attack from the enemy. The night before, six had been frozen to death there, and the night before that, the Russians had made a sortie upon them, and bayoneted ten others. Our sufferings are very great,' said they, but we are ready to meet the Cossacks at any moment, and die for the glory of our country. I could not but have a great sympathy for the poor, brave fellows. I spoke a kind word of encouragement, and distributed a few Bibles and Testaments to them, which they received with much gratitude and thankfulness of heart.

As I returned home to my tent, the view of the encampment, stretching for miles along the hillsides and in the valleys around, and the watchfires blazing upon the

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50

CALLS ON LORD RAGLAN.

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heights afar, were picturesque and beautiful. My worthy host meets me at the door of his tent. 'Do you see,' said he, 'that smoke curling in the distance? You see, then, how near we are to our enemies. That is the smoke of the Russian camp. They have a battery just across the ravine, and they frequently open their fire upon us, though they have been silent for some time past. Their men and ours often go down to this stream and water their horses on opposite sides.'

“I then proceeded to head-quarters, and called upon Lord Raglan in behalf of the American Bible Society. He received me very kindly, and invited me to dine with him on the following day. At his table I had the pleasure of meeting the officers of his staff, and an English lady, the Hon: Miss Derryman, who had come to the Crimea to visit her brother, a young officer wounded at Inkerman. His lordship asked me many questions about America, and was much interested, as they all were, to know the feelings of Americans in reference to the war.

“ His lordship lives in a large house appropriated to the purpose, about two miles from the front camp, and maintains grand style with his suite of apartments, and silver plate and service. The houses and stables for his grooms and horses, the large marquees of his officers, and the guard-tents pitched around, with flags floating from them, form quite a military settlement, and a gay scene.

“But it was now getting late, and his lordship inquired, 'If we certainly knew the road to Balaklava, five miles distant,' saying, 'the path was quite uncertain at night.' We replied with some degree of assurance, took leave of his lordship, and set out on our way. But we had not proceeded far before a thick fog arose, and soon darkness

LOSING THE WAY.

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closed around us. My friend, who assumed to be the guide of our party, said it was now all confused to him. He knew not whether we were going right towards, or right from, our point of destination, and we were beyond the line of tents, and saw camp-fires far in the distance. As we rode on, however, we saw an object just before us that appeared like a sentinel at his post. We knew not whether he was Cossack or friend, yet we ventured to hail him with the watchwords, · Who goes there?' ('Qui vive?') and no answer was returned; but as we advanced still nearer, we found he was a stray horse, and could, therefore, give us no direction in the road. We rode on another half-hour, and then saw a company of men on the hill above us, yet were in doubt whether they were friends or Cossacks; we slowly drew near and listened to their voices, and could not distinguish whether they were speaking Turkish or Russian. But we had lost our way, and must summon up courage to hail them. Happily they proved to be French on their road to the camp, and, with the politeness of Frenchmen, directed us in the right path. We had not proceeded a half-hour, however, before we found ourselves again in the brushwood, quite out of the path; but fortunately we once more heard voices in the ravine below, and this was a little company of Irish soldiers, who had lost their way, and were pitching their tent for the night. Said I, Can you direct me the way to

‘ Balaklava? One of them at once accompanied me up

the hill, and said, “This is the road, sir. ‘Are you quite sure?' I asked. “An' faith, I am certain, sir, for I have just come it myself.' Thus encouraged, we rode on with lightsome hearts; presently the moon shone out in clear sky to cheer us on our way, and then we saw the High

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land camp in the valley below to guide us forward, and in one hour more we reached Balaklava and our good ship in safety, with much rejoicing and gratitude of heart.

"It is impossible to describe the state of the roads and country trodden and trampled down in every directionthe work of war. The landmarks are removed, the trees cut down, the houses torn down, and the furniture, even chairs, pianos, and sofas, everything consumable, has been used for fuel by the army. It was indeed a beautiful country when the Allies first landed, abounding in vineyards, cultivated fields, and lovely country residences; now it is a waste of perfect desolation. The heavy rains and dragging of artillery have made the mud half-knee deep, and the horses, by being overworked, are dying by hundreds in the fields, and even the men are sinking down by the roadside, and dying under their heavy burdens; for as the horses have failed, they are obliged to transport their provisions, and even their heavy fifty-six pound shot and shell, to the camp on the backs of men.

There is great suffering too in the front camp, for want of stores and warm clothing. They are dying there at the rate of sixty per day, and coming down sick to the hospital at Balaklava more than a hundred a-day. And with the Turks it is still worse.

It even amounts to a plague among them. They are dying by fifties, emaciated and loathsome in the extreme. You see them lying dead and borne on litters in every direction for burial; cast in pits, and loose dirt or stones thrown upon them. It is dreadful to behold.

"The French, on the contrary, are better furnished with clothing, provisions, and medical attendance; they have fresh bread every other day in their camp, warm tents and fires, yet such is the severity of the season here, and

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