Camp before Sebastopol

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This record is held by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies

Details of Camp before Sebastopol
Title: Camp before Sebastopol
Reference: DHB/57
Description:

"I hope you will like the photograph. It represents your brother, with his mind in a state of repose and his stomach distended with salt pork. Johnny Russo (?) is done for and we now look something like a besieging army. Last night we made a new trench beyond the Quarries and close under the embrasures of the Redan without being discovered which will be filled with sharp shooters who will prevent the gunners from standing near their guns in the Redan and we are so close that their guns cannot be depressed so as to fire into us. You may imagine the noise there is all day in our ears. A great gun going off within six feet of one's head ... These wretched Russians have discovered a new system of annoyance which would be well worthy of invention by Franky [their brother] and which consists of a series of small mines or barrels of gunpowder let into the ground between our works and theirs, and a little tin tube running along the ground a few inches above it, two or three feet long, which tube is filled with some composition which explodes immediately on being touched, so that any unfortunate meandering along the grass without knowing why, suddenly finds himself going up in the air like a squib with his legs and arms flying in different directions. We have had many men blown up by these things and the grass being so long one cannot see the tube at all. The technical name is "Fougasse". Franky will know what they are I daresay. The ground between our old trenches, and the Russian ones that we took the other day is full of them. At night you hear a sudden explosion and you know that some wretched fellow has been crossing from one trench to another, on private speculation to see what he could get, has trod on the tube and been blown up. I often think how the Russians must laugh when they hear these things going up at night in all directions, they must know well what it is. Sebastopol will soon be ours now, in a few days the French will take the Malakoff tower and we shall storm the Redan. It will be a fine thing and we all long to do it so sick are we of our present works, for as we get closer and more towards a finale the work gets harder in preparation. How delighted the English will be when the place is taken. They will forget the sacrifice and what the survivors of the army that left England 15 months ago have gone through. It will give you an idea of the work there is in a siege when I tell you that the French have upwards of 30 miles of trenches in their two attacks and as they were about 2 miles from the town when they started you may fancy what an operation it is and how the ground must be cut up with angles and parallels to make such a length. The trenches are quite like a great labyrinth out of which I defy any one to get out if they do not know the way. We have almost 10 miles of trench in our two attacks of course. I include every angle and turn. Perhaps you are not aware of it, but the place where Caesar said Veni Vidi Vici was Kertch, it is rather an odd coincidence. Sir G. Brown (Lt. General Sir George Brown, KCB (1790-1865) Commander of the Light Division and the British Expeditionary Force to Kertch] may say the same if he likes ... "They say the Russians sometimes get our letter bags by treachery. How they would like view of this letter."

Date: 14 Jun. 1855
Held by: Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

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