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Title: History of the Royal Sappers and Miners, Vol. 2 (of 2) - From the Formation of the Corps in March 1712 to the date - when its designation was changed to that of Royal Engineers
Author: Connolly, T.W.J.
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Footnotes have been moved to follow the chapters in which they are
referenced. In the printed text, the numbering of footnotes began again
at ‘1’ for each chapter. In this version, footnotes have been
re-sequenced across the text for uniqueness of reference.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
the handling of any textual issues encountered during its preparation.



                   Royal Sappers & Miners                     Plate XVI.
                            Uniform 1854.      Printed by M & N Hanhart.



                                 OF THE
                       ROYAL SAPPERS AND MINERS,

                            ROYAL ENGINEERS,
                            IN OCTOBER 1856.


                           T. W. J. CONNOLLY,

              “Of most disastrous chances,
  Of moving accidents, by flood and field;
  Of hair-breadth scapes i' the imminent deadly breach.”—_Shakspeare._

  “There is a corps which is often about him, unseen and unsuspected,
  and which is labouring as hard for him in peace as others do in
  war.”—_The Times._

            =With Seventeen Coloured Illustrations.=


                        IN TWO VOLUMES.—VOL. II.



                          CONTENTS OF VOL. II.




 Staff appointments—Survey of London—Colour-sergeant
   Smith—Sergeant Bay—Trigonometrical operations—Opposition to the
   military survey—Observatory above St. Paul’s; the
   scaffolding—Privates Pemble and Porteous—Sergeant
   Steel—Industry and conduct of the Sappers in the Metropolitan
   survey—Preliminary arrangements of the Arctic
   expedition—Privates Waddell and Sulter—Corporal
   Mackie—Expedition starts; corporal McLaren—Coasting journeys
   and services—Overland march—Winter at Fort Confidence—Party
   detached to Great Bear Lake—Close of the search for Sir John
   Franklin and his crews                                              1


 Augmentation to corps—A calculating prodigy—Company removed from
   Portsmouth to Ireland—Chartist demonstration and services of
   the sappers in London—Road-making in Zetland—Company to the
   Mauritius—Major Sandham—Sergeant Anderson—Sergeant Ross—Sir
   Harry Smith’s frontier tour at the Cape—Passage of the Mooi;
   corporal Pringle—Passage of the Konap; sergeant McLeod; also of
   the Orange River—Boem Plaatz—Spirited conduct of a party in
   removing an ammunition tumbril, which had upset in some burning
   grass—Peace—Inspection at Gibraltar by Sir Robert Wilson—Also
   at Hong-Kong by Major-General Stavely—Company at Corfu—Return
   of party to England from the Falkland Islands—Sergeant Hearnden    16


 Breach in the sea embankment at Foulness—Company to
   Portsmouth—Augmentation to corps—Homeward journey of the Arctic
   expedition—Private Brodie—Great Slave Lake party—Expedition
   arrives in England—South Australia—Sergeant R.
   Gardiner—Road-making in Zetland—Survey of Dover—Wreck of the
   ‘Richard Dart’—Miserable condition of the survivors on Prince
   Edward’s Island—Found, and taken to the Cape—Remeasurement of
   the base-line on Salisbury Plain—Shoeburyness—Eulogium by the
   Marquis of Anglesey—Fatal accident at Sandhurst College            27


 Sir Robert Gardiner’s opinion of the corps—Party to the penal
   settlement at Swan River—Detachment to New Zealand—Draft to
   Hong-Kong—Mining operations at Seaford Bay—Determinations of
   the latitudes of various trigonometrical stations—Sergeant
   James Steel—Professor Airy—The leisure of the sergeant—New
   method of acquiring a knowledge of chess—Hardships of a party
   landed at Rona                                                     42


 Malta—Portsmouth—Swan River—Brown Down batteries—Kaffir
   war—Strength of sappers at the Cape—Corporal Castledine—Attack
   on Fort Beaufort—Whittlesea, &c.—Skirmish near Grass Kop
   Tower—Also in Seyolo’s Country—Patrol—Fight at Fort
   Brown—Patrol—Storming Fort Wiltshire—Patrols—Action at
   Committy’s Hill—Gallantry of corporal James Wilson at Fort
   Cox—Patrols—Increase to the Cape by withdrawal of Company from
   the Mauritius—Sir Harry Smith’s opinion of the sappers—Eulogies
   concerning them by Lieutenant-Colonel Cole and Captain Stace,
   R.E.                                                               56


                            GREAT EXHIBITION.

 Sappers attached to it—Opening—Distribution of the force
   employed—Duties; general superintendence—Clerks and
   draughtsmen—Charge of stationery—Robert Marshall—Testing
   iron-work of building—Workshops—Marking building—Receiving and
   removing goods—Customhouse examination—Fire
   arrangements—Ventilation—Classmen—Private R. Dunlop—Clearing
   arrangements—Miscellaneous services—Bribery—Working-pay—Close
   of the Exhibition—Encomium by Colonel Reid—Also by Prince
   Albert and the Royal Commissioners—Honours and rewards—Their
   distribution—Statistical particulars—Lance-corporal
   Noon—Removing the goods—Return of companies to
   Woolwich—Contributors to the Exhibition—The Ordnance survey—And
   Mr. Forbes, late sergeant-major                                    68


                            SHETLAND ISLANDS.

 Observations—Road from Lerwick to Mossbank—To the western
   districts—and southwards—Between Olnafirth and Doura Voe—Voe to
   Hillswick; corporal Andrew Ramsay—Island of Yell; sergeant John
   F. Read—Intrepid bearing of corporal Ramsay—Conduct and
   usefulness of the party employed on the roads                      88


 Party attached to the Commissioners for the Great
   Exhibition—Mount Alexander—Corporal John McLaren—Spike
   Island—Brown Down—Hurst Castle—Holmfirth
   Reservoir—Alderney—Cambridge Asylum—Tidal observations, river
   Dee—Van Diemen’s Land—Channel Islands—Kaffir war—Passage of the
   Kei—Patrols—Party benighted in the bush—Action at the Konap
   pass—Patrol—Fort White—Patrols—Expedition against
   Moshesh—Orange River—Passage of the Caledon—The Lieuw—Battle of
   Berea—Return of the expedition; crossing the drift at the
   Lieuw—Repassage of the Caledon—Perils of the “sick-waggon” in
   crossing—Thanks of General Cathcart—Conduct of the sappers
   during the campaign                                                93


 Expedition to Central Africa—Private E. Swenny—Journey to
   Beni-Olid—Hospitality of the natives at Sokna—Black
   Mountains—Privations and exertions—Private John
   Maguire—Gatrone—Sufferings of the slaves in their march across
   the desert—Evidences of the number that perish—Trials of the
   expedition; halts at Kouka—Party with the department of
   Practical Art—Sanitary survey of Woolwich—Detachment for survey
   of Van Diemen’s Land—Additional commissions to the
   corps—Company at Alderney—Corporal James S. Taylor at New
   York—Company recalled from the Cape—Company to the
   Mauritius—Party to Melbourne—Inconvenience of its
   popularity—Epidemic at Bermuda—Detachment for the Mint at
   Sydney—Greatcoats                                                 114


                              CHOBHAM CAMP.

 Nature of the ground—Position of the sappers—Their
   strength—Quarters and cantonments—Equipment—Duties and
   services—The survey—Marking out the encampment—Forming
   tanks—Wells—Lakes—Construction of
   stables—Camp-kitchen—Oven—Incidental employments; Royal
   pavilion; Queen’s road—Sentry-boxes—Post-office and postal
   statistics—Intrenchments—Submarine mining—Passage of Virginia
   Water—Her Majesty’s gracious acknowledgments of the conduct of
   the sappers in the operation—The second passage of the
   lake—Also of the Thames at Runnymead—Field-days—Inspections by
   the Queen—Breaking up the camp—Satisfaction of Colonel Vicars
   and Lord Seaton                                                   126


 Staff appointments—Party to Melbourne—Mint detachment to
   Sydney—Survey of Aldershot heath—Department of Practical
   Science and Art—Staff ranks to the survey companies—Dress—Party
   detached to Heligoland—Also to Paris for the
   Exhibition—Corporal Mack’s services in testing woods—A
   foreigner’s surprise at the varied employments of the
   sappers—Sergeant Jenkins’ interview with the Emperor—Fire at
   the Manutention du Commerce—Radical change in the dress—Arms
   and accoutrements—Costume of the quartermasters—Supernumerary
   sergeants—Additional staff appointments—Exhibition at the
   Mauritius—Arrival of company from Bermuda, and removal to
   Aldershot—Chatham becomes the head-quarters—Rejection of the
   services of Van Diemen’s Land detachment by the Legislative
   Council, which are accepted by the Governor of New South
   Wales—Organization and pay of driver troop—Additions to the
   corps and various incidental alterations—Detail of
   establishment of corps—The band—Its costume—Dress of the
   bandmaster—Party recalled from Purfleet—Detachment to Hythe for
   rifle practice, &c.; the system pursued there becomes a leading
   feature in the instruction at Chatham                             147



 War with Russia—Detachment attached to Baltic fleet—Second
   company to the Aland Islands—Landing—Brigadier—General
   Jones—Preliminary services—Operations—Fort Nottich
   attacked—Adventure at Fort Tzee and escape from it—Bomarsund
   captured—Destruction of the forts—Conduct of the
   company—Sickness; it returns to England—Detachment to
   Turkey—Augmentation to the corps—Seventh company withdrawn from
   Hurst Castle—Eleventh and seventh companies to
   Turkey—Odessa—Services of the first detachment in
   Turkey—Corporal Cray—Gallipoli; Boulair; Ibridgi—Commendation
   by Sir George Brown—Tenth and eighth companies to
   Scutari—Redoubt Kaleh—Works
   there—Circassia—Working-pay—Companies attached to divisions of
   the army—Buyuk Tchekmedjie—First detachment to Varna—Followed
   by the tenth company—Also by the eleventh—Complimentary order
   for services of the latter—Contrast between the French and
   English sappers—Works at Varna—Also at Devno—Encampments at
   Aladyn and Varna—Works at Gallipoli and Boulair—Eighth company
   to Varna—Gallantry of corporal Swann and private
   Anderson—Sappers join at Varna from the fleet—Coast of
   Circassia—Photographers—Detachment to Rustchuk—Trestle bridge
   at Slobedzie—Bridge of boats over the Danube—Return to Varna of
   a portion of the sappers from Rustchuk—Misconduct of the
   detachment; also of the seventh company—Spirited conduct of
   corporal Cray—Major Bent and party of sappers to
   Bucharest—Private Anderson and the Austrian Dragoons—Fourth
   company to Varna—The Somerset Fund—The Central Association        171


                         September—18th October.

 Instructional operations—Embarkation for the Crimea—The
   landing—The sappers sink wells—Attempt to erect a pier for
   landing the horses—Bed of the Bulganak improved with reeds for
   the passage of artillery—The Alma—Services of the sappers
   during the battle—They repair the Buliack timber bridge—March
   to Balaklava; Sir John Burgoyne; services of the third
   company—The corps encamps at Balaklava—Then removes to the
   heights before Sebastopol; misery for want of tents—Parties
   assist to reconnoitre the positions and trace the lines—An
   instance given—Two sappers carrying the mail miss their way,
   are wounded and benighted—Destruction of Upton’s
   aqueduct—Positions on the heights; staff engineers—The attacks;
   parks—Sapper brigades—Reliefs—Breaking ground—Duties of the
   sappers—Their deficiency of tact in working the skilled
   portions of the batteries—Progress of the works; a party
   wanders from the trace—Sergeant Morant misses his way, and only
   discovers his mistake when encountered by a Russian guard—A
   mistrusted guide restores confidence by his conduct—State of
   the works on the night before the first bombardment—The
   batteries and parallels—Siege operations—Restoration of the
   works—Sir John Burgoyne’s remarks on them                         196

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.
                       18th October—31st December.

 A corporal guides the field officer to the 21-gun battery in open
   day—The last shot—Two sappers mend a gap of some magnitude in a
   mortar battery—Scarcity of soil and materials for carrying on
   the works—Picket-house battery—Mishap to a tracing
   party—Platforms—Magazines—A detachment with arabas moves from
   the valley during the battle of Balaklava—Private Lancaster the
   only sapper engaged in it—Steady conduct of the sappers at the
   platforms during Sir De Lacy Evans’s combat—Battle of
   Inkermann—A corporal gallantly alters the splay of an embrasure
   while the fight rages—Sappers trench the road leading to the
   heights from the harbour—Two privates repair an embrasure under
   a severe fire—Submarine divers—Progress of the works—Hurricane
   of the 14th November; wreck of the ‘Prince’—and the ‘Rip Van
   Winkle’—Effects of the storm on shore—Lines of Inkermann—Mode
   of proceeding with the construction of the general
   works—Strength of corps at the siege and detached—Field
   electric telegraph—Sergeant Anderson—Casualties—Sergeant
   Drew—Arrival of second company; its colour-sergeant taken for a
   Pacha—Incentives to induce the Turks to work—The Navvies—Army
   Works Corps—The sappers, though under a seeming cloud, are
   upheld by a vigorous vindication in Parliament                    214

                         1st January-8th April.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 Sanitary state of companies—Warm clothing—Collecting detachments
   in England to forward to the siege—Services of party with Omar
   Pasha’s army—Granted medals by the Sultan—Mishap on the
   Tchernaya—Destruction of the village of Inkermann—Exertions of
   sappers in the trenches during snow-storms—Anecdote, Corrigan’s
   charcoal—Obstructions to the trenches by mud—Arrival of first
   company—Hut stables for the cavalry horses—French build No. 9
   battery; right attack—Conduct of Corporal Lendrim—Sappers’
   share of the work—The parallels—Huts—French sappers entertained
   at Southampton—Casualties—Reforming works to counteract
   enfilade fire—Nos. 7 and 8 batteries, left attack—Moving guns
   to the front—International parallel; zeal of non-commissioned
   officers—Destroying a rifle-screen—Completion of the
   parallel—Death of captain Craigie—Sir John Burgoyne’s farewell
   address—Sorties—Bearing in a wounded Russian—Augmentation to
   corps—Driver troop—Efforts to obtain recruits;
   militia-men—Sergeant Docherty captured on suspicion of being a
   Russian spy—Countermine under cave magazine—Casualties—Zigzag
   from right rifle-pit in advance of second parallel; wound
   sustained by a singular agent—Death of Lieutenant
   Bainbrigge—Third parallel, right attack—Progress of the
   works—Faultless energy of sappers in building a two-gun battery
   in the third parallel, left attack—Two corporals singularly
   escape from a shell which destroyed the magazine they were
   erecting—Embrasures of No. 7 battery opened—Preparations for a
   bombardment—The weather                                           233

                           9th to 19th April.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 Second bombardment—Gallant exertions of individual
   sappers—Repairing a magazine—Assistance to a comrade in an
   embrasure—Fatal meeting of schoolfellows—Cheerfulness in
   suffering—Slippery platforms—Repairing telegraph
   wire—Resistance of the magazines—Inkermann lighthouse
   battery—Progress of the siege—Mud in the trenches—Battery for
   two light field-pieces—Magazine on fire—Burning sand-bag on a
   merlon—Fixing mantlets—Unshrinking labours of sappers—Damages
   and repairs—Progress of the siege and works—Gallantry of two
   sappers—and two linesmen—Noble perseverance in an
   embrasure—Exertions at the batteries—Explosion of a
   magazine—No. 9 battery, left attack—Gallant extension of left
   advance sap, right attack—Firmness of the last leading sapper
   in it—Progress of the works—Capture of the rifle-pits—Gallantry
   of sergeant McDonald—Casualties—Corporal Coles—Acknowledgment
   of services of sappers in the attack                              263

                          20th April-15th May.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 First day’s work in the lodgment—Improviséd grenades—Polish
   fusilier—Capture of the third rifle-pit—Preliminary incidents
   connected with it—Saps issuing from the pits—No. 13 sand-bag
   battery—No. 9 battery, left attack—Building a magazine in
   day-time—Constancy of sappers in the trenches—But little relief
   afforded them—Apparent want of ingenuity in their camp
   arrangements—Reason why so few sappers die—Their miserable
   condition—Regimen; its effects—Care of the baggage animals—The
   means employed to preserve them becomes a vexed
   question—Rifle-holes—No. 11 battery, left attack—Generals’ and
   engineers’ huts—Diversified engagements of the sappers—Death of
   Lieutenant Carter—Progress of the works—Wells—Repairing the
   advance saps after a sortie—Expedition to the sea of
   Azoff—Storms of rain, and consequent difficulties in carrying
   on the works—Sortie—Effects of the rain—Endurance of the men
   exposed to it—Casualties                                          285

                           16th May-7th June.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 The batteries—Stoical tranquillity in blasting rock—Round-hill or
   fourth parallel—State of the works—Siege materials and
   expedients—Corporal William Swann—Expedition to Kertch—Second
   international communication—No. 15 battery on the right—Rope
   mantlets—Hospital caves—Companies reviewed by General
   Jones—French officers’ opinion of the corps—Repairing right
   rifle-pit—Arrival of ninth company—Progress of the works—Third
   bombardment—Bravery in the embrasures—Corporal Stanton in the
   batteries of the second parallel on the right
   attack—Casualties—First appearance of ninth company in the
   trenches trenches—The sailors—Voluntary resolution of Corporal
   Lockwood and his sappers—The engineers—Inobtrusive devotion in
   an embrasure—Adam McKechnie—Death of Captain Dawson—Selection
   of old sappers for front duty; their sterling exertions—Labours
   in the batteries; platforms—Magazine blown up—Russian plan of
   extending their trenches—Capture of the quarries and white
   works—The lodgment—Death of Lieutenant Lowry; bravery of
   corporal Stanton—Casualties—Lord Raglan’s approbation of the
   sappers—Infernal machines in the quarries                         305

                           8th June-18th June.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 Repairs to the works—Death of corporal Fraser—Conduct of private
   Orr—Improviséd church—Perseverance in the quarries—Segmental
   trench in front of them—Successful exertions of the
   miners—Yenikale—Cape St. Paul—Detail of sappers furnished for
   the trenches—Completion of defences in the lodgment—Casualties
   in a party mending a trench bridge—State of the
   works—Platforms—What is an embrasure?—Destruction of one—Its
   repair—Casualties—A tolerated grumbler—Generous conduct of
   corporal Lockwood—Fourth bombardment; preparations for
   assault—Vigorous conduct of sergeant Anderson in repairing the
   electric wires—And of corporal Borbidge in renewing a platform
   for a sea-service mortar—First storming of the Redan—Chivalric
   behaviour of private Head—Casualties—Conduct of the sappers in
   the assault—Volunteer services of sergeant Drew and corporal
   Jenkins—They rescue some of the wounded—So also does private
   Ramsay—Brigadier-General Eyre’s column in the cemetery
   grounds—Valiant behaviour of corporal Baker—General
   casualties—Death of Lord Raglan                                   327

                          18th June-16th July.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 Condition of the batteries; their repair—Alarm of a sortie—Noble
   intention of four comrades to recover the body of corporal
   Baker—Strategic occupation of the rifle redoubt behind the
   cemetery—Interchange of civilities between the Russian and
   English truces—Capture of a memento—Escape of Lieutenant
   Donnelly and lance-corporal Veal—Lodgment in the cemetery—A
   sortie frustrated—Destruction of the rifle redoubt—No. 18
   battery, right attack—Perils in the saps in advance of the
   quarries—Progress of the works—Reoccupation of the cemetery—The
   stone double sap; corporal J. T. Collins—The two
   Dromios—Industry of the miners—Progress of the works and
   repairs—even during a storm—Advance of the chevaux-de-frise up
   the Woronzoff ravine—Sappers annoyed by light
   balls—Difficulties in executing the works—Demolitions in the
   rear parallels—The Picket-house—Approach to the cemetery—Wooden
   bridge—General officers’ hut—Abstraction of gabions by the
   French—Gallantry in pushing the sap from left advanced
   parallel, right attack—Night details—No. 15 battery, left
   attack—Obstacles to success in commencing the fifth parallel,
   right attack—Trenches in the cemetery—Progress of the
   works—Conduct and exertions of the engineers and sappers          357

                         17th July-25th August.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 Trials in carrying on the works—Fifth parallel, right
   attack—Detachments and statistics—Spirited conduct of corporal
   Ross—Neglect of non-commissioned officers—Trench dress of the
   line—Shifts of the miners to form the parallels and
   approaches—Siege minutiæ—Trenches flooded—A sergeant, in the
   absence of an engineer officer, in charge of the
   lines—Casualties—Sortie by the Russians—Sergeant Docherty
   examines the chevaux-de-frise—Overseers of the miners—The
   carpenters—Renewal of the chevaux-de-frise demolished in the
   sortie—Casualties during a moonlight night—Exertions of
   sergeant Jarvis and party; the sailors—Strange sensation
   produced by the blow of a shell splinter—Resources for
   field-work purposes—Progress of the trenches and
   batteries—Removal of the right attack sappers to the camp of
   the left attack—They thus escape a subsequent catastrophe—Fifth
   bombardment—Cost of a whiff of tobacco—Activity of the sappers
   in the batteries and works—Anecdote of a new-comer visiting the
   works—No. 17 battery, left attack—Corporal Jenkins, the master
   carpenter of the left attack—The white-banded cap—Fifth
   parallel, right attack—Breaking ground from it for the last
   approach to the Redan—Workmanlike industry and vigour of
   corporal Ross in the sap—Corporal William Baker, 7th
   company—Progress in the advanced trenches; sergeant Hale of the
   guards; corporal Stanton—Prolongation of fifth parallel, right
   attack—Effects of wounds.                                         380

                       26th August-5th September.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 State of the works—Russian floating-bridge across the
   harbour—Gallantry of corporal McMurphy and his sappers—The
   sailors—Advance from fifth parallel on salient of Redan—and on
   its extreme left flank—Defection of the workmen in the latter
   sap and firmness of the two sappers in charge—Valour of
   sergeant Castledine and private McKellar—Intrepid continuance
   of the right sap—The double sap, left attack—Fifth parallel of
   the same attack; corporal Paul its overseer—Experienced hands
   selected for the front; charge of the non-commissioned
   officers—Casualties—Fresh details—Trench from fifth parallel to
   cemetery—Unsuccessful attempt to open a screen in advance of
   white rifle-pit—Notice of corporal Phillips—A sapper guides his
   party along the open or part of fifth parallel in preference to
   taking a longer route though a covered one—Perseverance of
   sappers in the front saps—Sixth bombardment—The works and
   repairs proceed steadily—Results of the cannonading—Fatal
   meeting of friends—Siege career of sergeant Wilson                405

                      6th September-9th September.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

 State of the batteries—The foremost saps—Repairs to embrasures
   while opposed by blinding dust driven through the trenches by a
   fierce wind—Distribution in the trenches—No. 22 battery—Final
   attack of the Redan and the Malakoff—Names of the sapper
   storming party—Their brave and steady demeanour and
   exertions—Escapes of corporal Baker—Valour of private
   Bowman—Casualties—Continuation of the foremost saps—Daring
   adventure of corporal Ross—His report leads to the bloodless
   occupation of the Redan—Conduct of the corps in the
   siege—Captain Ewart—Reflections                                   423


                 9th September, 1855-28th January, 1856.

 Statistics—Andrew Anderson—Misconduct of the
   sappers—Non-commissioned officers and men who received honours,
   appointments, or commissions for their gallantry or useful
   services—Sergeant Samuel Cole—Field electric telegraph—Private
   Fox taken prisoner—Exploring the batteries for machines and
   electric wires—Commence batteries near Fort Paul—Sappers
   removed to the Karabelnaia—Reinforcements from Gibraltar and
   England—Driver troop to Scutari—Sapper quarters in the
   docks—Huts—Companies attached to divisions of the
   army—Expedition to Kinbourn—Marshal Pelissier’s acknowledgment
   of services of the sappers attached to it—Sir William
   Codrington assumes the command of the army—Explosion of the
   great French magazine—Exertions of tenth company in arresting
   the fire—Gallantry in preserving the Inkermann magazine
   mill—And removing live shells from the vicinity of the
   flames—Construction of a magazine for small-arm
   ammunition—Stone bridge over the middle ravine—Barrel causeway
   across its swampy bottom—Another reinforcement from England       439

                        13th September-1st March.

                       DEMOLITIONS AT SEBASTOPOL.

 Testing the authenticity of some Russian plans concerning the
   docks—Force employed in the demolitions—Situation of the
   docks—Their magnitude and strength—The operations—Difficulties
   encountered in their execution by storms and frosts—Labours and
   hardships of the miners—The explosions—Destruction of the
   docks—Accidents; intrepid exertions of corporal Cray—Poisonous
   gas in a gallery; prompt efforts to rescue the
   sufferers—Shelling the docks while the demolitions were
   proceeding—Sir William Codrington’s despatch reporting the
   success of the operations—Also Colonel Lloyd’s report—The White
   Barracks—Their destruction—Death of Major Ranken; notice of
   conduct of second-corporal Baker                                  462



 Surveys, &c.—Casemates in the Redan and contiguous
   works—Roads—injuries sustained by men in their execution—Huts
   and stables—Wharfs at Balaklava—Company to Cossack
   Bay—Peace—Bridge across the Tchernaya—Reinforcements to the
   East—Barrel-floats for the embarkation of the army—Graveyards
   and monuments—Parting Order by Lord Paulet to tenth
   company—Final services; Miss Nightingale—Order of leaving the
   Crimea and Turkey—Reviews at Aldershot; inspections by the
   Queen—Names of the distinguished men specially paraded before
   her Majesty—Wreck of the Clarendon—Last detachment from the
   East—Statistics since the fall of Sebastopol—Surveys near
   Erzeroum—Parties detached for employment in the ratification of
   the Moldavian and Danubian boundaries—Company added to the Cape
   of Good Hope command—Corporal Mack present at the coronation of
   the Emperor of Russia at Moscow—A company to Portsmouth—Another
   to Aldershot—Removal of the museum from Marlborough House to
   Kensington Gore—A company moved to Devonport—Augmentation—A
   party embarks for Ceylon—Another for Mitylene—Corporal
   Pennington wins the “Champion’s Belt” at the foot races on
   Chatham Lines—Corps incorporated with the royal engineers—Grade
   of private changed to that of sapper—History of the royal
   sappers and miners closed                                         476


                           CONCLUDING CHAPTER.

 Establishment of the corps—Organization of
   companies—Distribution—Establishment at Chatham—The Ordnance
   Survey—Its divisional districts—and military
   character—Qualifications of the observers—List of the
   non-commissioned officers employed as such—Greatest distances
   observed by them—Importance of the services of the
   non-commissioned officers, as proved by the reduction of the
   officers—Situations of trust filled by them—Strength of the
   companies—Average distribution in the United Kingdom—Division
   of labour—Great triangulation—Private James Weir—Secondary and
   minor triangulations—Other general survey duties—Perambulation
   of boundaries—Sergeant Robert Meade—Pay and allowances—Skilful
   and distinguished talents and usefulness of eleven
   non-commissioned officers; and of quartermaster William
   Young—Merits and services of the survey companies                 494

 APPENDIX                                                            529

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

                                VOL. II.
    XVI. Uniform                   1854   }
   XVII. Working-dress             1854   }    _To face Title._



                   Royal Sappers & Miners                    Plate XVII.
                      Working Dress 1854.      Printed by M & N Hanhart.




                                 OF THE

                       ROYAL SAPPERS AND MINERS.



Staff appointments—Survey of London—Colour-sergeant Smith—Sergeant
  Bay—Trigonometrical operations—Opposition to the military
  survey—Observatory above St. Paul’s; the scaffolding—Privates Pemble
  and Porteous—Sergeant Steel—Industry and conduct of the Sappers in the
  Metropolitan survey—Preliminary arrangements of the Arctic
  expedition—Privates Waddell and Sulter—Corporal Mackie—Expedition
  starts; corporal McLaren—Coasting journeys and services—Overland
  march—Winter at Fort Confidence—Party detached to Great Bear
  Lake—Close of the search for Sir John Franklin and his crews.

Sergeant-major Jenkin Jones was commissioned to be quartermaster to the
corps on the 11th January, 1848, _vice_ Hilton retired. These pages
amply testify to the merits of Mr. Jones. A more indefatigable
non-commissioned officer never served his country, nor one more worthy
of the honours conferred upon him. Colour-sergeant Michael Bradford, a
good soldier and foreman, succeeded him as sergeant-major at Woolwich.

With a view to establish a system for the sanitary improvement of the
drainage of London, a survey of the metropolis, under the auspices of
the Commissioners of Sewers, was commenced in January, 1848, and
continued with a fluctuating detachment—once as many as forty-three
strong, and as few as two men only—until January, 1850. Captain Yolland,
R.E., had the direction of the work, and colour-sergeant Joseph Smith[1]
was first appointed to the executive charge, but he being soon
afterwards discharged, it then fell upon sergeant Andrew Bay,[2]
sergeant Doherty, and others. With this survey was connected the
determination of the relative levels of all parts of London.

The great triangulation was the first point attended to. “That wonderful
specimen of skill, the scaffolding on and around the cross of St.
Paul’s, put up in the spring, was the main station for observations. The
summits of Primrose and other hills, the towers,” steeples, “and roofs
of churches, the parapets or terraces of public buildings or houses,”
were made “available as the sites for signal-staffs, visible from each
other and from St. Paul’s.”[3] By these observations, “the relative
angular positions” of the several points were obtained, from which, as
the bases of the work, a detailed survey was made, embracing not only
the principal streets and squares, but the minutiæ of alleys and single
buildings. Of every street the slope or ascent was ascertained, and also
the exact height of every spot above the assumed datum or base-line.[4]
The benchmarks to show the permanent points of the survey and levels
were cut in stone, or on the most prominent objects, by the sappers,
who, though not brought up to that work, became very expert in the use
of the mallet and chisel. At least twelve parties with twelve-inch
instruments were scattered to the most conspicuous places in the
metropolis and its vicinage, to complete the observations; and sergeant
James Donelan, with the great three-feet instrument, visited some of the
old stations celebrated by the labours of General Roy and other
officers, to check the smaller triangles formed by the operation of the
twelve-inch instruments. Some of those stations were at Hanger’s Hill
near Twyford, Banstead Downs, Severndroog Castle on Shooter’s Hill, &c.
The survey, including the city, extended to a distance of eight miles in
every direction from St. Paul’s.[5]

London was unaccustomed to see soldiers employed in so important a work
as the metropolitan survey, and much excitement was caused by their
unobtrusive and peaceful operations. The jealousy of a class of
surveyors was at once called into angry activity, and under the name of
the “Associated Civil Surveyors,” they formed themselves into a body,
and opposed by meeting, petition, and remonstrance, the continuance of
the sappers on the duty.[6] The Metropolitan Commissioners did the
Association the honour calmly to investigate their grievance; but from
the lucid and truthful statements of Mr. Edwin Chadwick and others, the
continuance of the sappers on the duty was confirmed and justified, not
only on the score of competency, but of policy, from the disciplined
experience of the men, and the perfection of the Ordnance system of
responsibility and resource.[7]

The particular objects which elicited from the public the most attention
were the observatories on the summit of the north-west tower of
Westminster Abbey, and above the cross of St. Paul’s. The latter, from
the dexterity with which the construction of the cradle at that dizzy
height was pursued, supported only by the architectural ornaments of the
structure, excited much curiosity and wonder. The scaffolding was of
rough poles; the stage, ten feet square, formed of planks, which
supported the observatory, rested on the golden gallery on the top of
the great cone. “The four lower posts, twenty-nine feet long, stood upon
short planks bedded on the stone footway; and the top supported the
angles of four horizontal planks, each twenty-three feet long, bolted
together at the angles. From these planks a screen of boards was erected
to prevent materials, &c., from falling. The base of the four upper
posts, fifty-three feet long, rested on the angles of the above planks;
and the scaffold, in addition to these posts, consisted of four sets of
horizontal and four sets of transverse, braces on each of the four
sides, the whole being fastened together with spikes and ropes.
Fifty-six of the uprights were double poles, placed base and point, and
bound together with hoop iron and wedges, and with bolts and hoop iron
at the splices. The height from base to floor was eighty-two feet, and
to the extreme top of the observatory, ninety-two feet.”[8] A railing,
roughly but securely put up, surrounded the “crow’s-nest.” “The ascent
was by the inside of the tower or lantern to the circular openings, then
to the outside of the foot-ladders set at the north-east corner,
parallel to the north-east principal post inside the scaffold. The whole
of the materials were drawn up from the floor by a permanent windlass
erected in the tower, to the golden gallery, and thence passed to the
outside, horizontally, through an aperture thirty-two inches wide, and
finally were drawn up and put into position by purchase erected for the
purpose.”[9] The whole construction weighed about five tons, and though
designed by sergeant James Steel, was erected by sergeant James Beaton,
the most successful builder of these aerial fabrics, assisted by
privates Richard Pemble and John Porteous,[10] and some civil labourers,
under the direction of Captain Yolland.[11] The time occupied in going
up the ladder was about seven minutes, but the descent required only
four or five.[12] On the 2nd November the last piece of the scaffolding
was removed and carted away. In the hazardous and intricate operations
of building and dismantling it, not the slightest accident to human life
or limb—not even the breaking of a single pane of glass—occurred.[13]

The observations were taken by sergeant James Steel with an
eighteen-inch theodolite, both at Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s.
When not prevented by haze, the sergeant attended to his duty,
frequently when the breeze shook his small location to a perilous
degree, with a coolness, perseverance, and accuracy that were highly
praiseworthy. Sometimes he and his assistant sapper—private John
Wotherspoon[14]—ascended to the observatory at St. Paul’s as often as
three times a-day, and this carried through a period of four
months—between the 17th June and 16th October—with unflinching
resolution and assiduity, made the sergeant and the sappers objects of
much interest and of curious and anxious inquiry. The observations
taken from this height comprised between 8,000 and 10,000. In many
instances the same subject was gone over as many as six times, none
less than three or four, and the utmost distance obtained was
twenty-six miles.[15] The points thus trigonometrically fixed were
2,140, a vast number being church towers, spires, conspicuous public
buildings, and manufactories.

To carry on the survey during the day in crowded streets, with an
unbroken stream of vehicles in double transit, was an extremely
difficult and irksome operation; but to be free as much as possible from
this interruption, the sappers went to work every morning as soon as day
broke, and pushed the survey while the metropolis was still at rest. The
survey was completed in January, 1850, and the mapping finished at
Southampton. For the merit and talent with which the work was conducted,
the periodical press frequently expressed its admiration; and Sir Henry
de la Beche and Mr. Edwin Chadwick—two of the Commissioners of the
highest authority—praised the survey as being one of extreme
success.[16] At another time the former gentleman observed at a special
court of the Commissioners, that “the Ordnance undertook the work of the
surface. A triangulation of no common order, but such as they might have
expected from that distinguished service, was undertaken and executed;
and upon that triangulation was founded a block plan of extreme
efficiency and completeness; and it was also no common map, for it
always had reference to that great triangulation to which he had already

The arctic expedition, which halted in October, 1847, for the winter,
detached in the spring of 1848 a party of sappers to Cedar Lake to
repair the boats, first cutting the wood for the purpose. When this
preliminary service was accomplished, six of the party were selected to
drag three planks each to Cedar Lake. Each man took with him ten days’
provisions; but from the weary labour and fatigue of carrying such heavy
burdens, and the snow-blindness that affected the men, the journey was
not completed under sixteen days. The party consequently suffered great
privation. After the boats were made thoroughly seaworthy, the sappers
brought them and the stores up to Cumberland House on the first opening
of the Saskatchewan.[18]

Privates James Waddell and John Sulter afterwards started from
Cumberland House without a guide, considering the half-disclosed tracts
of a previous party to be sufficient for their purpose. They were going
to Cedar Lake. At Point Partridge, however, the snow having fallen
heavily, the track was missed and they lost their way. For several days
they continued to travel, and were wholly without food for more than
seventy-two hours. Hunger pressed them to resort to expedients to
mitigate their cravings. In this extremity Waddell, who had a spare pair
of mocassins and a morsel of buffalo grease, consigned both to the
canteen. When boiled, the old boots were speedily devoured, and the soup
equally divided among the famished adventurers, formed a novel but
refreshing repast. Onwards the party went, winding through the woods and
trending through the deep snow, when after a journey of about four miles
they gained an Indian encampment, where the natives provided them with
musk-rats to eat, and one of their number guided them to the lake.

It is right also to record another little adventure in which
lance-corporal Robert Mackie was the actor. He strayed in the winter on
Cedar Lake. Overpowered by exertion and weariness he laid down on his
planks and fell asleep. When he awoke two of his toes were frozen.
Nothing dismayed by this untoward affliction, he started off to seek a
retreat from his difficulties. A native sent to search for him, found
the wanderer “contentedly steering for the moon, which being near the
horizon and gleaming red through the forest, was mistaken by him for the
fire of the men’s bivouac. The snow which covered the ground at the time
fortunately enabled the Indian who went in pursuit of him to trace his
steps before he had gone many miles.”[19]

Reinforced by the party from Cedar Lake, the expedition started in May,
1848, from Cumberland House, with boats fully laden, leaving two sappers
behind “who were unequal to the labours of the voyage.” One had received
an injury in the hand by which he lost a joint of one of his fingers,
and the other suffered from scurvy and pains in the bones. Both were
sent to England by the first conveyance after their arrival at York
Factory; and the expedition thus lost the services of second-corporal
James McLaren, a man of enlarged intelligence and experience, and active

Very prosperously the expedition now moved on, crossing rivers, lakes,
and streams, pulling the boats over difficult and rugged portages, and
bearing heavy burdens. For three days they were delayed by ice in Beaver
Lake, and then pressing on anew, tracked the course to Methy Lake, where
on the 27th June, Sir John Richardson reached his men. They had encamped
at the landing-place the previous day, and were advanced one stage of
different lengths according to the physical capabilities of the
respective individuals. “On visiting the men, Sir John found two of the
sappers lame from the fatigue of crossing the numerous carrying places
on Churchill River, and unfit for any labour on the long Methy

The baggage, which it was indispensable to carry with the expedition,
was equally distributed, which gave to each man a burden of 450lbs.,
exclusive of his clothing and bedding, all of which he shouldered over
the portages in three or more trips according to the measure of his
strength. This was an enormous load, and was borne day after day under
constantly-varying circumstances of trial and fatigue. The boats with
their masts, sails, anchors, &c., were also carried by the whole party
at every portage.[21]

“On the 3rd July the baggage and the boats were brought to the banks of
the Little Lake; and on the 6th, everything having been taken over to
Clear-water River, the expedition descended from the Cockscomb, where
they had been encamped for two days,” and in nine days more completed
the laborious passage of the Methy portage. “The transport of the four
boats was made on the men’s shoulders, and occupied two days and a

On the 7th two of the boats were broken in crossing the portage of the
woods, but, being repaired with some dexterity by the sappers, they were
ready for proceeding the following morning. Athabasca Lake was entered
on the 11th July, but two of the boats taking a more easterly branch of
the river in the night, delayed the arrival at Fort Chipewyan. In the
misguided craft were the chief artificers of the sappers, and the
accident prevented the boats being completely repaired and furnished
with false keels, to contend with the difficulties inseparable from
adventure. All leaks, however, were stopped, and some damaged planks
replaced, which enabled the party to start again on the 12th July.[23]

Many days were now spent in effecting the clearance of numerous portages
over broken and rocky prominences, and driving on through narrow and
tortuous channels made picturesque by the presence of frosted cascades,
dashing over ledges, or rushing past blocks of trees and drift
timber—the accumulation of ages. A boat was upset in one of the portages
by lowering it down a narrow channel, when several articles of marine
importance were lost or damaged, among which were the indispensable
oars, which, however, were soon replaced by the assiduity of the
sappers. Fort Resolution was gained on the 17th July, from which, by
rapid marches, laboured boat journeys, and toilsome industry, they made,
on the 24th, the first range of the Rocky Mountains. Hurried stages,
through intricate courses and over rocky chasms, with gales blowing and
heavy rains falling, brought them on the 2nd August to Point Encounter,
where they encamped for the night; and on the 3rd they reached the
estuary of the Mackenzie River, where a horde of Esquimaux visited the
boats. The interview on the part of the natives was characterised by a
spirit of intrigue and hostility, but terminated without serious
consequences; and, striking out from the shore, the boats pushed on to
Copland Hutchison Inlet, Cape Bathurst, Point Deas Thomson, and Cape
Young, where the expedition went ashore to repair the boats, which had
been rendered unseaworthy by the ice tearing the planks into leaks. The
damage was repaired by the sappers in the evening.

Near Point Cockburn, on the 22nd August, a storm overtook the party. The
sky was dark and lowering, heavy showers fell, and a waterspout was seen
on shore. Sir John Richardson thus alludes to it. “Ice-floes lying close
off Cape Hope caused us no little trouble, the passages among them being
very intricate, and the perpendicular walls of the masses being too high
to allow of landing or seeing over them. In the afternoon we passed Cape
Bexley, running before a stiff breeze, and at 5 P.M. a storm suddenly
coming on we were compelled to reduce our canvas to the goosewing of the
mainsail, under which we scudded for an hour, and then entering among
large masses of ice, about two miles from Point Cockburn, found shelter
under some pieces that had grounded.” To encamp was impracticable, for
the shore was flat, and they passed a bitter night in the open boats.
“The ice-cold sea-water chilled the men as they waded to and fro;” and,
as the wind was too strong to admit of the employment of any expedient
to shelter or warm them, no protection could be afforded against the
biting bleakness of the storm.[24]

On the 26th August the expedition was at Lambert Island. A frosty night
covered the sea and ponds with young ice, and glued all the floes
immoveably together so that the rise of the tide was no longer of
service. “Assisted by the seamen, the sappers launched the boats and
carried the cargo ashore, devoting the greater part of the day to the
operation of cutting through tongues of ice, dragging the boats over the
floes, moving large stones” that intersected the route, and resorting to
every conceivable expedient to make progress. Two more rugged portages
were also crossed; and in that day of severe toil and unremitted zeal a
journey of five miles only was accomplished. Heavy snow-storms now
succeeded, the cold became intense, and the surface of the pools of
sea-water was converted into a consistency like paste, which demanded
great physical exertion in pushing on the boats. On the 28th, three
hours were spent in moving forward an inconsiderable distance—about one
hundred yards—owing to the benumbing coldness paralysing the physical
energies of the men.[25]

With little incentive to spirit and none to amusement, save what the
incidents of arctic travel were calculated to produce, the men relaxed
no effort, and avoided no danger, in their endeavour to achieve the
great purpose of the enterprise. Against obstacles both by land and sea,
from wind and storm, they bore an undismayed front, and, driving on day
by day, they gained Basil Hall Bay, and encamped about eight miles from
Cape Kendall. In dragging the boats over the floes in these parts they
were greatly shattered, the planks being torn and broken, although they
had been strengthened by the sappers “on the water-line with sheets of
tin beat out from the pemican cases.”[26]

Here terminated the coasting voyage, some distance from the Coppermine
River, on account of the ice having, from the severity of the weather,
become too thick and firm to admit the continuance of the ascent,
without jeopardising the safety of the expedition, in the few frail
boats employed in their along-shore adventures. An overland journey in
quest of Sir John Franklin and his missing crews was therefore decided
upon, and arrangements for the march were at once entered into. Thirteen
days’ provisions were packed up for the party, with cooking utensils,
bedding, snow-shoes, fowling-pieces, a portable boat, &c. The burdens
were apportioned by lot, each load weighing about 70lbs.[27] The boats,
tents, stores, &c., that could not be taken on were abandoned on the
coast; and on the 3rd September, after breakfast, prayers being read to
propitiate guidance and protection from a gracious Providence, the march
commenced. With few exceptions, the men trudged on with so indifferent a
pace, that to keep up they lightened their loads by leaving their
carbines behind. About seven-miles from Cape Kendall a halt was made,
and the men slept at night in the cold air, under the miserable shelter
of some towering blocks of basalt 200 feet high. Private Donald Fraser
this day sprained his knee, and on the next he was so unfit for his task
that his burden was eased by throwing away his large hatchet, and
distributing, for carriage, a portion of his pemican among the other
travellers. Several of the men straggled and made but slow progress.
Rae’s and Richardson’s Rivers being crossed—the latter by a portable
boat fastened to a hawser—the expedition reached, on the 5th September,
the Coppermine River and bivouacked about three miles above a dreary
spot bearing the tragic designation of the Bloody Fall.[28]

On the 6th the weather was clear, with a hard frost, but the sun, which
had been a stranger for more than a fortnight, now shone brilliantly.
Generally the party walked briskly, protected in some degree from
frostbite by an addition to their cumbersome apparel of warm seal-skin
boots; “but three of the seamen and two of the sappers and miners were
so lame it was necessary to make long and frequent halts to allow them
to close in;” so much so, that they “were unable to accomplish two
geographical miles in the hour.” To give respite to their sufferings and
time to gather strength, a camp was formed which greatly refreshed them;
and next day they resumed the march in the face of a snowstorm,
heightened by a piercing northerly wind.[29] Two rapid torrents, full of
boulders, were forded in the course of the day’s journey, and “the
discomfort of the march was greatly augmented by the men’s clothes,
which had been saturated in crossing the streams, freezing on their
backs.” In the vicinity of some narrow lakes by the side of a cluster of
low, naked, but wide spreading spruce trees the expedition encamped, and
here, as in other places, they arranged a “bivouac by placing small
branches between the frozen ground and their blankets.” The following
day found them resting near the Copper Mountains, crossing which, they
walked onwards in snow-shoes, not without much difficulty and fatigue;
and those of the travellers who lagged were assisted on their way by
easing them “of everything but their blankets, spare clothing, and a few
pounds of pemican.”[30]

The Kendall River was crossed on the 11th by a raft made on the spot of
dry timber assisted by the sappers. It supported in its transit three at
a time. A fresh disposition of the burdens was made here, and the
carriage of some books and dried plants relinquished. The log raft was
also broken up to recover the cordage by which the timbers were lashed
together. This done the course of the party was shaped across the
country for Dease’s River. They started in a fog, which became denser as
they proceeded, so that at length an object three yards in advance could
not be seen. The compass was necessarily used to steer by; all wended
onwards in Indian file, and though the pace was brisk none fell back.
The lakes which barred their way had a dreary aspect, for they were not
seen until the travellers “came suddenly to the brink of the rocks which
bounded them, when the contrast of the dark surface of their waters with
the unbroken snow of their borders, combined with the loss of all
definite outline in the fog, caused them to resemble hideous pits
sinking to an unknown depth.” The intersection of their track by these
lakes was very hazardous, and it was a wonder none of the straggling
explorers fell into the abysses and met their fate. At night they spread
their blankets on an isolated rock, and without supper, or the cheering
gleams of a fire to give solace to their spirits, sought to snatch some
repose. Snow fell on their exposed bodies as they lay. Many groaned
bitterly with pain, and but few could sleep. Next morning, however, all
were early afoot, and before the day fairly opened, they had marched
three hours, and forded, up to their waists, a tributary of the Kendall,
by which they “were all more or less benumbed.”[31]

In a country like the arctic region much is uncertain, and extremes may
be experienced with almost incredible rapidity. Here a supperless night
was succeeded by one which gave a sumptuous meal of venison, and a sound
night’s rest in a snug encampment. With light loads, full stomachs, and
a long halt in prospect, the spirits of the party received a
barometrical rise that indicated alike their satisfaction and
cheerfulness. Hill after hill they mounted; and traversed, with unusual
alacrity and ardour, stretches of undulated country. Now they were
wading through a swamp, now trending a rough hummocky tract of land, now
scaling a difficult height, and then forcing across an expanse of deep
snow. The journey was trying and harassing, and each night, the party,
jaded, lame and footsore, sought repose in open bivouac; but on the
morning of the 15th of September, after fording the Dease, the
travellers arrived at Fort Confidence—the haven appointed to recruit
their wasted energies, and to shelter them from the storms and tempests
of the coming winter. The overland journey had occupied thirteen days.

Three days subsequently, Sir John Richardson, finding he could dispense
with the services of eighteen persons, sent them on to the fishery
location of Big Island on Great Slave Lake. Ten of the detached party
were sappers, leaving only three of the corps with the chief, viz:
lance-corporals James Mitchell and Robert Mackie, and private David
Brodie. The two latter fitted up the meagre establishment with tables
and chairs, and such other social commodities as were considered to be
requisite to give the fort a character of domestication, and to afford
facilities of comfort to the adventurers. The fort was about three miles
from the mouth of the Dease River and near to Fishery Island.

As far as the European contingent was concerned, the expedition was
brought to a close; and the search, prosecuted under very trying
circumstances, amid perils, hardships, and want, failed to discover any
trace of the whereabouts of Sir John Franklin and his crews. The shores
of Wollaston and Victoria could not be examined as had originally been
intended, as Sir John Richardson had no means of carrying out the
project, his craft having, unavoidably, been abandoned in September,
1848. With the only boat, however, taken up to Fort Confidence, Mr. Rae,
with a party of natives, essayed unsuccessfully to pass to Wollaston
land. Had this been achieved, a defined clue, in all probability, would
have been presented to the track of the missing adventurers. It was in
the vicinity of this region, a few years after, that the mournful relics
of the fated explorers, found by some Esquimaux, passed into the
possession of Mr. Rae, and confirmed in this country the certainty of
the appalling destiny of the expedition.


Footnote 1:

  For some twenty years he was in charge of office and field parties on
  the detail survey and plan drawing. He had the local superintendence
  and direction, under Captain Williams, R.E., of the survey of the
  property belonging to the duchy of Lancaster at Langeinor, in South
  Wales, and of the Royal domain of Windsor Castle, under Major Tucker,
  R.E. His qualifications, as displayed in the direction of these
  surveys, led to his selection for the charge of the London survey, but
  his connection with it on the part of the Ordnance, was early broken,
  by his receiving, in July, 1848, the appointment of surveyor to the
  Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers, at 200_l._ a-year, which salary
  has since been considerably increased. On leaving the corps he
  received a silver medal and gratuity for his long services and
  exemplary conduct. Ever since his discharge he has had the
  superintendence of a large staff of draughtsmen and men surveying
  underground in the sewers. In February, 1851, seven hundred miles of
  sewers had been thoroughly examined, and the levels of the different
  parts minutely ascertained. “The result of this,” observed Sir Henry
  de la Beche, “is that they had documents connected with the condition
  of these seven hundred miles of sewerage, such as were not possessed
  by any metropolis in Europe. It was but justice,“ adds Sir Henry, “in
  referring to the work as examined, to call attention to the officer
  who had charge of it—Mr. Joseph Smith, who had executed his task with
  an ability, a zeal, and perseverance, deserving the highest eulogiums
  both of that court and the inhabitants of the whole metropolis.”—‘The
  Times,’ 1st February, 1851. Mr. Smith afterwards became conspicuous
  for his report condemning the construction of the Victoria Sewer,
  which was nullified by an entirely antagonistic report from Mr.
  Forster, the engineer, and gave rise to some little discussion in the
  House of Commons between Sir Benjamin Hall and Lord Ebrington.—‘The
  Times,’ July 30, 1851.

Footnote 2:

  Remarkable for his great endurance of fatigue and exertion, and as
  being one of the best and quickest surveyors in the Ordnance. In his
  early career in Ireland, it is said, he once walked twenty-two miles
  to work, surveyed twelve miles of lines, and returned the same
  evening—twenty-two miles—to his quarters! This was considered at the
  time to be fair progress for six days; indeed, it was facetiously said
  of him that he carried on his work by _moonlight_. He was also clever
  as an observer with the two-feet theodolite, and the accuracy of his
  arcs was so rigidly faithful, that an officer visited him specially to
  watch his work, and test the value of his services. More than
  twenty-one years he took part in the national surveys, and had the
  local superintendence for many years of large parties dispersed over
  extensive districts. He also assisted with much credit in the survey
  of the disputed territory in North America; and, receiving for his
  good conduct and long services a gratuity and silver medal, was
  discharged from the corps in January, 1851. Soon afterwards he
  emigrated to Canada.

Footnote 3:

  ‘Companion to Almanac,’ 1849, p. 37.

Footnote 4:

  Ibid., p. 38.

Footnote 5:


Footnote 6:

  ‘The Observer,’ April 9, and June 4, 1848; ‘Civil Engineer and
  Architectural Journal,’ and some of the London press.

Footnote 7:

  The ‘Times,’ June 10, 1848. “The example of the employment of this
  corps,” said Mr. Chadwick, “on beneficial public works, qualifying
  them for civil employment, was worthy of public note, for in their
  case, the discharge from the military service was not, as he had in
  Poor Law administration too frequent occasion to observe, the creation
  of paupers, or mendicants, or worse. There was no class of persons who
  so soon got into productive civil service.”—Ibid.

Footnote 8:

  ‘Illustrated London News,’ June 24, 1848.

Footnote 9:


Footnote 10:

  The privates here named have died under rather singular circumstances;
  Porteous _suddenly_, in September, 1853, when encamped on
  Brandon-hill; Pemble in June, 1854, at Elvanfoot, in Lanarkshire, from
  exhaustion and exposure to stormy weather. The latter had been sent
  from the camp to build a pile for trigonometrical purposes, and next
  evening, after a fatiguing day’s work, he was returning to the
  station, when he lay down to rest himself by the side of a mountain
  stream, and perished. Both these soldiers were the chief practical
  workmen in the formation of the structures for the observatories. At
  lofty heights, where the senses of most men would paralyze, borne up
  on shaking props or slender supports, they calmly carried on their
  dangerous operations with spirit, activity, and ingenuity.

Footnote 11:

  ‘Illust. Lond. News,’ June 24, 1848; ‘Historic Times,’ January 19,
  1849. In both of which are spirited cuts of the scaffolding, &c.

Footnote 12:

  The ‘Times,’ November 4, 1848.

Footnote 13:

  Ibid. Here, however, it should be noted, that a pole about four feet
  long, on being let down into the boarded screen below, struck on a
  moulding and went down whirling. In its descent it struck the great
  dome, where it received a shell-like range, and dashed off, at a sharp
  angle, to the North Transept, where it made a hole through the lead of
  the roof, similar to what a ball of the same diameter would have done
  if let fall from the same height. In taking down the scaffolding, an
  eight-feet plank fell on its flat side from the lantern to the
  pavement in the area of the Cathedral, and the report was like the
  booming of a piece of ordnance from the deck of a ship of war.

Footnote 14:

  Distinguished himself by his gallantry in the storming of the Redan on
  the 8th September, 1855.

Footnote 15:

  The ‘Times,’ November 4, 1848.

Footnote 16:

  ‘Builder,’ 7th April, 1849, p. 165.

Footnote 17:

  The ‘Times,’ February 1, 1851.

Footnote 18:

  Sir John Richardson’s ‘Boat Voyage,’ i., p. 53.

Footnote 19:

  Sir John Richardson, ii., p. 141.

Footnote 20:

  Sir John Richardson, i., p. 110.

Footnote 21:

  Ibid., i., pp. 110, 111.

Footnote 22:

  Ibid., i., p. 115.

Footnote 23:

  Ibid., pp. 119-131.

Footnote 24:

  Sir John Richardson, i., p. 289.

Footnote 25:

  Ibid., i., p. 294.

Footnote 26:

  Ibid., p. 299.

Footnote 27:

  Sir John Richardson, p. 308.

Footnote 28:

  Ibid., i., pp. 309-318.

Footnote 29:

  Sir John Richardson, i., p. 321.

Footnote 30:

  Ibid., p. 326.

Footnote 31:

  Sir John Richardson, i., p. 331.


Augmentation to corps—A calculating prodigy—Company removed from
  Portsmouth to Ireland—Chartist demonstration and services of the
  sappers in London—Road-making in Zetland—Company to the
  Mauritius—Major Sandham—Sergeant Anderson—Sergeant Ross—Sir
  Harry Smith’s frontier tour at the Cape—Passage of the Mooi;
  corporal Pringle—Passage of the Konap; sergeant McLeod; also of
  the Orange River—Boem Plaatz—Spirited conduct of a party in
  removing an ammunition tumbril, which had upset in some burning
  grass—Peace—Inspection at Gibraltar by Sir Robert Wilson—Also at
  Hong-Kong by Major-General Stavely—Company at Corfu—Return of
  party to England from the Falkland Islands—Sergeant Hearnden.

The nineteenth company was formed on the 1st of April and appropriated
for the duties of the survey.[32] On the 1st of September, another
company, numbered the 20th, was organized, which increased the
establishment from 1,800 to 2,000 of all ranks. The detachment of one
sergeant, one corporal and twelve privates, formed by royal warrant in
July, 1839, for service in South Australia, merged into the
establishment in December, by an order dated 15th of that month, and
thus reduced the corps from 2,000 to 1,985 of all ranks. This measure
was effected to simplify details and to make the detachment form part of
a company, without removing it from the province. Its expense still
continued to be borne by the colonial government.

The company at Portsmouth, ninety-eight strong, under Captain Robertson,
R.E., was sent by rapid conveyances to Dublin, and arrived there on the
2nd of April, to assist in quelling the rebellion in Ireland. Late in
July, Lieutenant Akers, R.E., with one sergeant and fifteen rank and
file, accompanied the troops under the command of Major-General
Macdonald to Thurles, and encamped about a mile from the town, and
returned to Dublin in September, without any necessity for their
services arising. The meditated revolt was crushed, and Smith O’Brien
with some other demagogues, convicted of traitorous designs, were
expatriated. The company on being withdrawn from Ireland, removed to
Woolwich, where it arrived on the 19th of February, 1849.

A rising of the Chartists being anticipated, measures were taken to
thwart their designs. Troops were collected with rapidity from all
quarters and appointed to various posts in London, to act if occasion
required. Late in the evening of Saturday the 8th of April, a company of
100 strong with sergeant-major Bradford, under the command of Captain
Tylee, R.E., was detached from Woolwich to the Tower of London. Each man
took with him forty rounds of ammunition. The company slept in the Tower
that night, but early next morning, two sergeants and thirty-two rank
and file, under Lieutenant Sedley, R.E., were sent to the Ordnance
Office, Pall Mall, to oppose any attempt at possession by the Chartists.
Another party with sergeant-major Bradford under Lieutenant Wilkinson,
R.E., was removed to the Bank of England. On the roof of this edifice
were built platforms; and at certain places, massive timbers with
loop-holes were run up as positions for defence. Several thousand
sand-bags filled the upper tier of windows facing the Royal Exchange,
and others as high as a man were piled upon the parapet of the roof,
with apertures between them for musketry. Over the entrance of the
building, a strong wooden machicouli, resting upon ponderous beams,
projected into the street, which held a party of the corps ready to open
a volley on the rabble, had an attempt been made to force an entrance.
In the yard leading to the workshops, &c., the sappers also erected an
enormous barricade of casks, handcarts, &c.

The detachment at the Tower was no less zealous. At the Byward tower,
the face—overlooking the entrance to the fortress from the Thames by the
bridge—was loop-holed, as also a building to command the other entrance.
About thirty yards inside—from the gate of the Byward tower—a strong
intrenched stockade was erected; and on the wharf near the Traitor’s
tower, two barricades were constructed of crates with bricks in them,
iron coal boxes, &c., which were loop-holed for musketry. Along the
Traitor’s wall was an erection of sand-bags with openings for firing,
and on the roof of the barracks, banquettes, to enable the troops to
play on the mob in the rear near to the Mint, were formed of scaffolding
and military forms. The old bricked-up embrasures facing Tower Hill were
also rendered ready for the reception of guns by picking out the bricks
and clearing away the debris, which for years had been accumulating
there. Fortunately no outbreak occurred, and the company returned to
Woolwich on the 14th of April.

There happened at the time to be a handful of the corps in London
employed in the metropolitan survey, who, as the occasion was ominous
and pressing, were relieved from their professional operations to assist
in those of defence. So well did they discharge the duties intrusted to
them in barricading the entrances to the high offices of the State, that
their conduct was acknowledged in a communication from Lieut.-Colonel
Alderson of the engineers in these terms. “I have been requested by Mr.
Trevelyan, on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other
authorities of the government, to express their satisfaction at the good
conduct of the detachment of royal sappers and miners, under the command
of colour-sergeant Smith, during their employment under me at the
Treasury and government-offices on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday last; also
in the efficient professional aid they afforded, in putting the
Treasury-buildings and Downing-street in a state of defence.”

In May, Captain Webb, R.E., with one sergeant and one private, both
surveyors, proceeded to Zetland by an order from the Commissioners of
the Treasury, and laid out and surveyed nearly ninety miles of road,
upon which the poor of the islands were employed to afford them relief.
In September, the party returned to Woolwich, where Captain Webb and the
sergeant completed the plans of the work for the Home Office. The
conduct and zeal of sergeant R. Forsyth were specially brought to the
notice of the Treasury, and in a letter from Sir Charles Trevelyan to
Captain Webb, dated 26th of December, 1848, it is stated, “that my lords
have received with satisfaction your report of the zeal and intelligence
displayed by sergeant Forsyth in assisting in this service; and that if
his exertions shall continue to be equally useful, they will be prepared
to grant him some moderate additional remuneration when these operations
have been brought to a close.”[33]

A new station was opened for the corps this year, by detaching to the
Mauritius a company of 100 strong, under the command of Captain J.
Fenwick, R.E., which embarked at Gravesend on the 2nd of May, and landed
from the ‘Edmundsbury’ on the 19th of August. A half company had
previously been employed there, but on the completion of the citadel in
1840, it was removed to the Cape of Good Hope.

Captain John Walpole, R.E., was commissioned as brigade-major to the
corps on the 1st of June, 1848, _vice_ Major Sandham removed to the
ordnance office as second inspector-general. With the sappers, Major
Sandham had served for many years, and the great interest he took in
their concerns is well known. Strict impartiality and a penetrating
discrimination marked his whole conduct; and his attention to the
discipline and drill, raised the character of the corps for military
appearance and efficiency. The ready testimony of Lord Bloomfield, the
commandant of Woolwich garrison, was frequently awarded to Major Sandham
for his success in these particulars, and never was the corps present at
a garrison parade, but his lordship called the attention of his staff to
its correct marching and manœuvring. A sterling friend to the
sappers, Major Sandham, with hearty goodwill, provided many
non-commissioned officers and men with comfortable and lucrative
situations in civil life, although in doing so, he laid himself under
many and deep obligations to those from whom he obtained the

At the Cape of Good Hope, the companies were still dispersed to about
fifteen stations on the eastern frontier and at Pieter Maritzburg. In
February, corporal George Pringle, having under him twelve men of the
45th regiment, threw a raft of casks for the passage of his Excellency
Sir Harry Smith and his guard, over the rivers Umgani, Mooi, Bushman’s,
and the two Tugelas. Sir Harry was taking a peaceful tour of the colony
from the frontier to Natal, during which he inquired into the
disaffection of the Boers, and settled matters with Pretorius relative
to the sovereignty of some territory north of the Orange river, and
eastward as far as the Draakenberg mountains.[35] Corporal George
Pringle and party, under Lieutenant Gibb, R.E., went from Pieter
Maritzburg to the foot of the Draakenberg range, about 120 miles, to
meet him. His Excellency noticed corporal Pringle for the activity and
intelligence he displayed on this service. When crossing the Mooi, in
consequence of the strain on the hawser which had been previously
fastened to the opposite bank, the raft capsized, and threw the pontoon
party and fifteen men of the Cape mounted rifles into the stream.
Corporal Pringle and a man of the 45th regiment, alone clung to the
raft; and as it swept along with the rapid current, whirling round and
round with the eddy, the corporal dexterously seized the end of a
breast-line, jumped into the stream, and swimming to the shore, moored
the raft to a clump of bush, by which it swung in safety. All the
saddles and carbines, the waggon, and Sir Harry Smith’s horse, which
were on the pontoon at the time, were thrown into the river. The horse,
by means of a lasso, was soon rescued; and the waggon, about five feet
under water, was recovered by the coolness of the corporal, who swam to
the spot, and lashing it to the boom, hauled it, with the assistance of
his party, to the bank. All the soldiers were saved. The corporal now
adopted another method to take his Excellency and the guard across, and
the passage of the Mooi, more than fifty yards wide, was eventually
effected without accident to the troops or injury to the baggage.

Six privates, under sergeant Alexander M. M‘Leod, left King William’s
Town on the 2nd August with a division commanded by Sir Harry Smith, to
chastise the rebel Boers at Boem Plaatz. On nearing the Konap, the party
was sent in advance to discover the ford. All night was spent in the
tedious search, but by daylight next morning it was effectually traced
and the march across the Konap commenced. The train, however, was soon
stopped in its progress, as the leading waggon, unskilfully conducted by
the vorlooper in charge of it, got off a ledge of rock upon which it was
proceeding safely, and sinking into the water, the gunpowder it
contained was destroyed. At the same time the vorlooper, young and weak,
unable to stand against the current, was swept off his legs. In this
emergency Colonel Buller directed the sergeant to assist the train in
crossing. Standing in the centre of the stream, he controlled the
refractory oxen and drove them to the opposite shore. There, however,
fresh difficulties arose, for, as the soil was greasy and the bank
steep, the oxen could not draw the waggons out of the river. Instantly
the party of sappers reduced the bank, and throwing the excavated earth
on the slippery beach, the waggons were at length dragged to the shore.

Arriving at the Great Fish River, the troops, guns, and baggage were
ferried across on the India-rubber raft taken with the sappers, while
the empty waggons were drawn over by means of a hawser. On the 20th the
Orange River was reached; next day four other sappers were added to the
party, and on the 22nd, at day-light, the India-rubber float was
launched for the passage of the division. The river was 250 yards wide
and a very rapid tide was running, when, having stretched a sheer line
across the stream fastened on either shore to a tree, the operation was
successfully carried out. Forty men were ferried across at a time, the
expedient of the guiding hawser considerably lessening the labours of
the party. Three guns and several waggons were also taken over. The
latter were simply rolled on the raft without disturbing their loads,
and were deprived of any dangerous motion by blocking their wheels. Not
a single accident occurred; and in compliment to the unfailing zeal and
efficiency of the men, Sir Harry Smith took occasion, on a general
parade at Graham’s Town in October, 1848, to acknowledge that to the
royal sappers and miners he was “greatly indebted for the means with
which he had been enabled to make the passage of the Orange River, many
of the men swimming in the river like dolphins in getting across the
baggage and material.”[36]

Marching for Boem Plaatz the detachment was present in an engagement
with the Boers, remaining for a time in the rear in charge of ten
ammunition tumbrils, and four engineer waggons, containing engineer
tools and stores; but ordered to the front by the Governor’s
aide-de-camp, Captain Holdich, they pressed forward with four ammunition
waggons, and did good service, during the remainder of the action, by
serving out the cartridges to the troops.

It was not long before the Boers were beaten, and the column advanced,
followed by the sappers and the train of waggons. The grass was on fire
on either side of the road. Just at this time the fore-skean or
linch-pin of the leading waggon broke, the near fore-wheel came off, and
the tumbril upset. Another minute and the burning grass would have blown
it up; but there were resolute spirits in the party, who, undaunted by
the danger, rushed to the spot, raised the dismembered waggon from the
fire, and replacing the wheel, fastened it by the drag-chain through the
spokes to the tessel-boom. The expedient answered its purpose for twelve
miles, when, by Sir Harry Smith’s orders, the ammunition was removed to
a commissariat waggon.

On the 30th August, at Bloem Fontein, the Sovereignty was proclaimed to
be British territory. A few days after, marching for Wynberg, the
sappers cut a road up the steep and rugged banks of the river they
crossed on the route, and repaired a drift for the waggons at Wynberg.
There a review was held by Sir Harry Smith. Moshes, the paramount chief
of the Sovereignty, and his sons were present, attended by a cortege of
800 armed horsemen clothed in European garb, and 1,500 foot warriors in
their war costume and accoutrements. When the display terminated, the
Kaffirs formed a circle round Sir Harry Smith and the chief Moshes, and
performed a frantic war-dance to serve as an additional proof of the
re-establishment of peace. The sappers with the other troops witnessed
this barbaric demonstration, and afterwards returned to Bloem Fontein.

The companies at Gibraltar, brought to a strength of 197 men by the
arrival of a reinforcement of 53 rank and file, were inspected by the
Governor, Sir Robert Wilson, in May, and his report complimented them on
their efficiency, zeal, and capacity. “Under arms,” Sir Robert added,
“their appearance is soldier-like, and their exercises were creditably
performed.” His Excellency, however, had to regret “that the vice of
drunkenness should exist in a corps otherwise so respectable.”

In October, Major-General Stavely inspected the half company at Hong
Kong, but while he commended the men for their “fine looks” and “being
well dressed,” he censured the irregularity which had recently marked
their conduct. Intoxication, the greatest bane of the colony, was the
chief predisposing cause of disease; and the sappers, who from the
nature of their service were continually employed and often much exposed
to the sun, carried the propensity to an extent which produced much
sickness, and justly called for the Major-General’s animadversion.

Very different, however, was the conduct of the seventh company at
Corfu, which, having completed its tour of foreign duty, was relieved
early in the year and returned to Woolwich. The Lieutenant-General spoke
of their constant good conduct and exertions during the period they had
been under his command, and commended them for the excellency of their
services. In parting with the company he expressed his good wishes for
their welfare, and a vast concourse of the inhabitants cheered them
through the streets to the point of embarkation. Since 1824, the
companies successively sent to Corfu were chiefly employed in the works
of the citadel, and the defences of Vido. Fort Neuf and the church in
the citadel, as well as Fort George, Lunette Wellington, and the
Maitland Tower at Vido, attest the skilful workmanship of the sappers.
Individuals or small parties were at different times detached on
particular duty to Santa Maura, Zante, Paxo, and Cephalonia. Of this
special duty some idea may be formed, from the nature of the employment
of a corporal, who being sent to Santa Maura in December, 1845, by order
of the Lord High Commissioner, superintended the workmen engaged in
opening a new channel into the port, to render the inner passage once
more practicable for ships sailing either up or down the coast.

The detachment at the Falkland Islands was removed from that settlement
on the recall of Governor Captain Moody, and landed at Woolwich the 29th
November, 1848. For more than six years the party had discharged all the
duties of soldiers and artificers, assisted by about forty civilians
chiefly labourers; and in that short period a considerable improvement
had been made in the colony. Several buildings had been erected,
including the Government-house and offices; also a school-house and
barracks, and cottages for emigrants and workmen, with houses for boats
and stores. Jetties were also constructed, sea-walls made, roads traced
and formed, bridges thrown, weirs made for fishing, and kraals for
cattle, with numerous ditches, drains, sod walls, and sod huts. To these
must be added the performance of an endless variety of services, which
the wants and contingencies of a new and inhospitable colony rendered
indispensable. Four of the detachment were discharged in the settlement,
and the remaining four, soon after reaching England, left the corps by
purchase or on pension.[37]


Footnote 32:

  This year was enlisted a calculating youth named Alexander Gwin, a
  native of Londonderry, who had a brother and an uncle in the corps.
  When only eight years of age, he had “committed to memory the
  logarithms of all the natural numbers from one to a thousand.” Two
  years later, his fame having spread, his precocity was tested at
  Limerick “in the presence of Colonel Colby, Lord Adare, and several
  other gentlemen of distinction,” to whom he repeated the whole series,
  without a mistake, taking up two hours and a half to deliver himself
  of that gigantic mental effort! “His rapidity and correctness in
  calculating trigonometrical distances, triangles, &c.” were equally
  remarkable. “In less than one minute, he could make a return in acres,
  roods, perches, &c., of any quantity of land, by giving him the
  surveyor’s chained distances; while,” it is added, “the greatest
  mathematician with all his knowledge would certainly take nearly an
  hour to do the same, and not be sure of truth in the end.”—‘Year-Book
  of Facts,’ 1842. ‘Boys’ Own Book,’ p. 381, published by Bogue. This
  calculating boy, making allowance for the hyperbole of his admirers,
  was without doubt a youthful prodigy. He is now a corporal on the
  survey, useful and energetic in his duties; but as the opportunities
  for improving his faculty for figures have been considerably lessened
  by the nature of his employments, he has not become what his infantine
  capabilities promised—another Bidder.

Footnote 33:

  He never received any additional remuneration at the close of the
  work, but his high rate of working-pay may have been considered a
  sufficient equivalent for his services.

Footnote 34:

  Sergeant James Anderson was one of those who was thus favoured. On
  obtaining his discharge, with a pension of 1_s._ 10_d._ a day, in
  August, 1845, he received an appointment in Worsley-yard, belonging to
  the estate of Lord Ellesmere, as superintendent and storekeeper of the
  yard, at a salary of 120_l._ a-year, with a residence. Since then,
  such has been his scrupulous character for honesty and careful
  supervision, that a very handsome addition has been made to his
  income, and the utmost confidence is reposed in him.

  Another was colour-sergeant John Ross, a very ingenious mechanic, who
  after his discharge, in April, 1848, was appointed engineer at
  Runcorn, to attend to a small steam fleet in the canal, under the
  Bridgewater Trust. He invented the drawbridge at the entrance of Fort
  Albert, Bermuda, the largest of its class in any military
  fortification, and which can be easily worked by two men, either in
  throwing it across the ditch, or pulling it in. Many years of his life
  had been spent in perfecting a new system of locomotion for ships. His
  great idea was the construction of a vessel which should ride above
  the control of the waves, resting upon an arrangement of large
  cylinders, to serve, like the piers of a bridge, as the natural
  supports of the ship, and within which should be placed his revolving
  paddle-wheels, to be moved by steam appliances. By a very ingenious
  contrivance he provided that the sea, which should come in contact
  with the paddles, should not only be deprived of its resistance, but
  made to assist in the propulsion of the vessel. The speed he
  calculated to obtain by his system was almost incredible. Personal
  trials of an imperfect model, in the waters at Bermuda, convinced him
  of the practicability of his bold scheme. After quitting Runcorn,
  ambitious of higher employment, he emigrated to Canada, where he is
  pursuing the study and development of his novel notions of
  shipbuilding and locomotion. He received a gratuity and medal for his
  services in the corps, and might have been promoted to the rank of
  sergeant-major, but, restless and speculative, he preferred to try
  what his mechanical genius would yield him in civil life.

Footnote 35:

  ‘Cape and the Kaffirs,’ by Mrs. Captain Ward. Bohn’s edit. 1851, p.

Footnote 36:

  ‘Graham’s Town Journal,’ October 14, 1848.

Footnote 37:

  Sergeant Hearnden, so frequently spoken of in these pages, purchased
  his discharge and emigrated with his savings, nearly a thousand
  pounds, to North America, where, from his enterprising spirit and
  commercial tact, he is realizing a fortune. Throughout his service of
  twelve years in the corps he was constantly employed on particular
  duty. In the practical instruction of the Cadets at Sandhurst and
  Woolwich, and in one of the early expeditions to the disputed
  territory in the state of Maine, he showed much talent and energy, and
  obtained great credit. For his services at the Falkland Islands no
  higher testimony could be afforded to a soldier than the repeated warm
  acknowledgments of Governor Moody. A word may also be given about his
  horse. Blanco was brought from South America; was perfectly white, and
  exhibited signs of good breeding. Hearnden purchased him at a rather
  high figure; but his subsequent usefulness and hardihood in a trying
  climate gave him ample reason to be satisfied with his bargain. On the
  7th January, 1847, at the Falkland Island races, Blanco had the good
  fortune to win the Governor’s cup, worth 50l. The cup, made of silver,
  by Hunt and Roskill, stood about eighteen inches high, and was richly
  ornamented and chased. On one side the sergeant was represented
  mounted, with sword, sabre-tache, and gauntlets. In another panel was
  the inscription. The cover was very massive, and both cover and cup
  were lined with silver gilt.


Breach in the sea embankment at Foulness—Company to
  Portsmouth—Augmentation to corps—Homeward journey of the Arctic
  expedition—Private Brodie—Great Slave Lake party—Expedition arrives in
  England—South Australia—Sergeant R. Gardiner—Road-making in
  Zetland—Survey of Dover—Wreck of the ‘Richard Dart’—Miserable
  condition of the survivors on Prince Edward’s Island—Found, and taken
  to the Cape—Remeasurement of the base-line on Salisbury
  Plain—Shoeburyness—Eulogium by the Marquis of Anglesey—Fatal accident
  at Sandhurst College.

On the 10th January fifty-five men, under Captain Tylee of the
engineers, were sent by express conveyances from Chatham to Foulness
Island, near the entrance of the river Burnham on the coast of Essex, to
repair the sea embankment which for about 200 feet had been forced away
by a heavy sea. The detachment took with it a quantity of intrenching
tools, water-boots, and stores, including 300 fascines and 3,000
sand-bags, which were made and filled in about three hours. In less than
twelve hours from the commencement of the work, the breach was
effectually mended by an ingenious placement of fascines and sand-bags,
at an expense not exceeding 6_l._ 10_s._ The party worked in two
divisions. The day was extremely wet, but the men laboured with the
utmost zeal, and their conduct both on sea and land was exemplary.[38]

A company was sent from Woolwich to Portsmouth in January to supply the
place of the one removed from that garrison to Dublin in February, 1848.
The return of a company to Portsmouth induced much opposition to its
employment on the part of the civil workmen, and disparaging remarks,
with respect both to its conduct and its mechanical abilities, appeared
in the provincial journals of the time.

One company, the twenty-first, was raised 1st February, and another, the
twenty-second, on the 1st March, thereby increasing the establishment of
the corps from 1,985 to 2,185 of all ranks. The royal warrant,
authorizing the formation of the last eight companies, is dated 22nd
August, 1849, and on its authority the companies were organized as

                                Ser-     Ser-    Cor-    2nd         Pri-           General
                               geant.   geants. porals. Corp. Bugl. vates. Total.    Total.
  17 Companies, Service, each     1        4       5      5     2     83      100 =   1,700
   1 Company, Corfu               1        2       3      3     2     51       62 =      62
   3 Companies, Survey, each      1        6       7      7     2     82      105 =     315
   1 Company, Survey              1        4       5      5     2     83      100 =     100
 Staff—1 Brigade-Major, 1 Adjutant, 1 Quartermaster, 2 Sergeant-majors,    }              8
   2 Quartermaster-sergeants, and 1 Bugle-major,
                                         Total                                        2,185

When the summer fairly set in, the arctic expedition under Sir John
Richardson commenced its return. The van, with corporal Mackie, started
about a week before Sir John, who followed on the 7th May with Mitchell,
Brodie, and three seamen. In five and a half days the journey over the
ice was completed, and on the 12th they encamped at Cape Macdonald,
clearing away for the purpose snow to the depth of five feet. They then
moved on to Fort Franklin, where the advance division had arrived with a
good supply of provisions for the voyage. Soon afterwards a detached
party was commissioned to Fort Norman for a barge and stores, for which
Sir John Richardson waited nearly a month, having with him Mitchell and
Brodie and two fishermen, who, in the mean time, lived on trout,
whitefish, herrings, and geese, and “bivouacked under the shelter of a
boat’s sail as a substitute for a tent.” In time they quitted the
vicinity of the fishing-hut, and moved to the banks of the Bear Lake
river, where they encamped until the 9th June, when the descent of the
river commenced. In the fishing coble brought from Fort Norman, Sir John
Richardson with three of the party embarked, whilst Mitchell, Brodie,
and a fisherman named Morrison, walked along the bank of the river, each
of them carrying his own bedding and clothing. Narcisse, another
fisherman, was left behind in charge of some stores. Half an hour after
setting out, the party in the coble put ashore, “and in a short time
Corporal Mitchell and Morrison joined them, but private Brodie, having
struck into the woods with the view of making a straighter course, did
not arrive in the hour that the chief waited for him;” and expecting
that he had gone past, the voyage was resumed with Mitchell and Morrison
added to the party in the boat.[39]

Fourteen miles from the lake a _cache_ was reached; and as Brodie had
not arrived in the course of the day, it was evident he had lost
himself, and therefore corporal Mitchell and Morrison were sent “back to
the lake to acquaint Narcisse with what had happened, and to engage an
Indian living at the fishery to go in quest of Brodie. In the meantime
the party at intervals fired their fowling-pieces, and set fire to some
trees, that the smoke might be seen by the strayed wayfarer at a

Next day the men came back from the lake. “After placing written
directions for Brodie in the _cache_, the expedition re-embarked, and in
a short time came to the influx of the Black River, then flooded. There
another paper of instructions was left for Brodie, directing him to the
_cache_ for provisions, and to remain with Narcisse until the barge came
for him.” “The incident,” writes Sir John Richardson, “of Brodie’s
straying gave me much uneasiness, as I feared he would experience some
suffering, though I did not apprehend he would lose his life. He was a
man of much personal activity and considerable intelligence. When he
discovered he was walking in a wrong direction, he began to mend his
pace, and to run, as is usual in such cases, but took an inland course,
and at length came to the borders of an extensive swamp. Here the woods
being more open he obtained a distant view of the ‘hill at the rapid,’
which he recognized, from having seen it on his former journey to the
_cache_; and as he knew that he must pass it in descending the river, he
resolved on walking straight for it, in the hope of arriving there
before us. After this he came to the Black River,” a rapid, unfordable
stream, scarcely passable by a raft; but, continues Sir John Richardson,
“being a fearless swimmer, he swam across it carrying his clothes on his
head. The stream being very tortuous, came again in his way, when he
crossed it a second and a third time in the same manner; but on the last
occasion, his bundle slipping off, floated away, and he regained the
bank with difficulty in a state of perfect nudity. After a moment’s
reflection, he came to the conclusion that without clothes he must
perish, and that he might as well be drowned in trying to recover them
as to attempt proceeding naked. On which he plunged in again, and
fortunately landed this time safely with his habiliments. He now
refreshed himself with a part of a small piece of dried meat, which in
his anxiety he had hitherto left untouched, and forthwith decided on
finding the _cache_ and returning from thence to the lake. On the third
day (11th June) he found my note, together with some provisions which
had been suspended to a pole for his use, but he had so husbanded his
own small supply, that he had still a morsel of dried meat remaining. He
had no difficulty afterwards in joining Narcisse, by keeping sight of
the river the whole way;”[41] and in due course he joined the expedition
at Fort Simpson, in a barge sent to receive him.

At this fort also joined the ten sappers who had wintered on the Great
Slave Lake; and on the 25th June Sir John started again on his
homeward journey, encountering a succession of hardships, until he
arrived at Norway House on the 13th August. The services of the
mission were now wholly ended, and of the sappers, Sir John Richardson
thus recorded his opinion: “During the time these men were under my
command, not a single act of disobedience occurred. Crews better
fitted for heavy portage work and for the ordinary duties of a
winter’s residence in the north, might doubtless have been selected
_in the country_, but none that I could have depended upon with so
much confidence in adverse circumstances.”[42]

The arctic travellers arrived in England in November 1849, when three or
four, in recognition of their usefulness, received gratuities of 15_l._
each, and the remainder 10_l._ each.

Captain Freeling, R.E., appointed surveyor-general in South Australia,
with a party of five surveyors—sappers and miners—sailed for Port
Adelaide on the 6th March, and landed there the 21st June. These men
were forwarded to the colony to fill the vacancies occasioned by men
discharged. Captain Frome, R.E., who had commanded the detachment in
that province since 1839, was recalled to the corps in consequence of
his period on the seconded list having expired.[43]

Early in March one sergeant and five rank and file under the orders of
Captain Webb, R.E., returned to Zetland to lay out and superintend the
construction of the roads surveyed in the two previous years. Up to this
time, there was nothing in the island that could be called a road,
except from Lerwick to Scallaway, a distance of about six miles, which,
though not finished, was passable for riders, &c. Captain Craigie, R.N.,
the commissioner for Zetland, accorded them high credit for their
exertions in directing the work, and controlling the poor employed upon
it; and in a report to the Edinburgh section of the Central Board, he
thus wrote of their usefulness and merits: “I cannot close this report
without bearing my humble testimony to the invaluable services of
Captain Webb, R.E., sergeant Forsyth and the staff of royal sappers and
miners, and recording the gratitude felt towards Government by the whole
community, for their consideration in granting an officer so eminently
fitted to conduct and carry out to completion, works of such public and
permanent utility. But great and most important as these works
unquestionably are, they fall into comparative insignificance as
compared to the social regeneration now in progress, in the industrious
habits of the people, and to which their efforts have mainly
contributed. The patience, forbearance, the tact and temper with which
Captain Webb and his staff have led the people on, step by step, to a
knowledge of their physical powers; their indefatigable industry and
disregard of difficulties of no ordinary kind in such a climate and
country; but above all, their being looked up to as the organ and
representatives of government in this remote region, have invested them
with a moral influence among all classes which can scarcely be

In April eight rank and file from Chatham were employed under the
direction of Lieutenant Stotherd, R.E., in completing the survey and
contouring of Dover.

A detachment of one sergeant, one corporal, and twenty-six privates,
with four women and nine children, embarked at Woolwich on the 3rd
April, 1849, on board the brig ‘Richard Dart,’ for New Zealand, under
the command of Lieutenant Liddell, R.E. The ship sailed from Gravesend
on the 5th April, and made a pleasant voyage until the 15th June, when,
to the southward of the Cape of Good Hope, foggy and rainy weather set
in, which continuing till the 19th, the ship was carried to the north
side of Prince Edward’s Island and struck on the rocks. The waves at the
time ran high, and within a few short minutes, the stern cabin-windows
were stove in, the boats were filled and torn from the quarter, and
while the vessel, beaten by a raging sea fell to pieces, wave after wave
swept the decks and rigging and carried forty-seven of the crew and
passengers into the deep. Of this number twenty-four men belonged to the
detachment of sappers, who, with all their wives and children, and
Lieutenant Liddell, perished.

Eleven souls only out of sixty-three were saved. Among those who escaped
were the captain of the ship—Samuel Potter—and four sappers, named
Thomas Inglis, Owen Devany, James Reid and William Goldsmith. They took
refuge in the mainmast rigging; and the wreck, having been driven
broadside to the shore, the mainmast went by the board, falling
fortunately upon the rock, and the survivors crawled along the shaking
spar to the shore. The rocks being exceedingly steep and difficult of
access, the men had to undergo much labour and fatigue in reaching the
summit of the cliff, occasionally hanging on by fragile sea-weeds and
every now and then throwing themselves into crevices to prevent the
receding surge drawing them into the sea. Most of the party were
barefoot and thinly clad. The night was cold; the snow fell fast and
thick, and beating upon their drenched and shivering frames, their
sufferings may possibly be imagined but never adequately described.

The island was a mass of black rocks, torn by volcanic violence, and
wore an aspect of wild and sterile desolation. Selecting a small green
spot where fresh water was found, they made it a temporary residence,
and built with the wood recovered from the wreck and some sods, a small
hut, which sheltered them in a measure from the bitter wind and frost. A
few sperm candles and some blankets, washed from the wreck, were all
that could be found to reward their anxious exertions. No provisions of
any kind could be picked up; but at length, when forced by hunger, they
killed some young albatrosses and fed sparingly on the raw flesh. The
candles in this extremity became savoury morsels and were devoured with
considerable relish. As they were without fire, or the means of
procuring any to assuage the bitterness of their distress, they
determined, on the seventh day of their deliverance, to explore the
island and see what Providence might turn up to their hopes.

Two of the men, from being frostbitten and cut in the feet, were unable
to walk. The remaining nine, therefore, started, leaving a stock of raw
meat with the two sick sappers, who laid themselves down on the cold
ground only to feel the increase of pangs which the presence even of a
spark of fire would have helped to soften. Without a cheering ray to
palliate their wretchedness, with the nipping frost gnawing their
reeking wounds, they gave themselves up to the destiny which seemed to
await them. Hourly the toils and miseries of the adventurers increased.
After travelling all day, sometimes over high hills covered with sharp
vitrified cinders, sometimes on marshy ground up to their hips in bog,
they stopped for the night by the side of a frowning rock. The rain
poured in torrents; shelter could not be found; no expedient for
kindling a flame succeeded; and in this deplorable condition they sat
down on the charred ground, huddled together to preserve some little
warmth among them, exposed throughout the night to the drenching storm,
covered only by their blankets.

Next morning, resuming their travels, they gained a beach where four
sea-elephants were lying basking in the sun, for the day opened with a
cheering summer’s warmth. Two of the monsters they killed, but made no
use of them. Here the travellers waited for a few days to recruit their
strength. The place was called “Double Beach,” but no fissure or cavity
could be found to hide them from the winds and rains; and so night after
night, rolling themselves up in their blankets, they slept in the open
air. After a few days, private Reid, with some others, returned to the
first location to visit the invalids. Private Goldsmith—a mere lad, slim
and weakly by nature—was much worse; his frame was frightfully
emaciated, his agony intense, and his toes were sloughing with gangrene;
but private Devany—constitutionally stout and strong—was improving
though unable to walk. Three days they remained with their sick comrades
to encourage and cheer them with a narrative of their proceedings and a
recital of their hopes; and on the 1st July they again repaired to
Double Beach, leaving with the sick men the raw flesh of six birds,
equal to a week’s provisions. Devany was most assiduous in his
attentions to the dying man, and to save his poor mouth from the
exertion of mastication, tore up the uncooked flesh into small pieces,
and fed him. But the time came when he was no longer able to receive the
morsels—the last struggle was upon him—and he closed his eyes for ever.

A snow-storm now set in, which lasted all night and throughout the day
of the 2nd. Raw flesh was their only repast, and of this, from the want
of powder and gun, they could not obtain a sufficiency to sustain their
strength. Weak and attenuated, and completely benumbed by exposure to
frost and snow, but little could be done in the way of exploration.
Nevertheless they lagged on in their desperate mission, like men
contending against some crushing adversity, determined to win. Crusoes
they could not hope to be in such a clime and such a barren sea-holm;
but whatever was practicable to their ingenuity and strength, they
adapted to their use to support life till deliverance gave them succour.

The night of the 2nd July was still more severe in its effects upon the
spirits and constitutions of the party, and the rain poured on them
incessantly. Miserable nights were these to spend their vigils. Up,
however, they rose with the returning dawn—stiff and aching in every
limb; then wringing the wet from their stanched blankets, and feasting
upon the raw breast of an albatross, journeyed on to seek a retreat from
the recurring storms. On the 3rd, private Inglis discovered a cave close
to the shore, whither the party joyfully repaired; and as the day was
fine, they dried their dripping clothes and blankets. Meanwhile,
watching from their lairs upon the passing birds, they brought down
eighteen from the wing to replenish their impoverished game store.
Stones they threw as if fired from rifles and used sticks with an
address not inferior to Kaffirs. Necessity indeed was indulgent to give
certainty to the primitive means they employed to secure their prey.
Next day, from the return of a severe frost, all power of feeling and
motion left their feet and fingers, and confined them to the dreary cave
for a full week.

Until the 26th July, the cave afforded them a partial retreat from the
severe inclemencies of the weather. On that day, private Inglis, the
most successful of the adventurers, discovered a small hut about three
miles away, in which a number of men’s names were carved. Under the last
name was cut the words, “On a journey round the island, 27th May, 1849.”
This unlooked for intimation gave rise to strange emotions and
speculations, and the last cloud of despair vanished before the sudden
hope which sprung up in his breast. How intensely did he gaze upon the
portentous words! and how often did he read them to assure himself that
the passage was not the insane impression of a diseased mind! Satisfied
that the inscription was not a mental caprice, he started off to
announce to his fellow-sufferers the purport of his discovery. All
received the intelligence with wondering doubt. “Where! where!” burst
from every lip, and hastening forward, they followed Inglis to the hut.
There indeed was the “handwriting on the wall;” and seeing in that
ominous sentence, the legacy of their lives bequeathed to them by
Providence, each voice was swelled in thankful ascriptions to that
gracious Power, which, hitherto, had so marvellously preserved them.

It was now resolved that the captain, one seaman, and privates Reid and
Inglis, should take a circuit of the sea-girt isle, until they regained
the cave, to see whether any one was near to help them. Having started,
they reached the hut early in the morning; but as, at the time, it was
blowing a heavy gale and snowing hard, they waited a day or two for the
weather to moderate. During this interval they consulted together as to
their future movements; and private Reid having volunteered to remain
alone at the hut, the others commenced, on the 30th July, to make the
special tour. Next day two of the party returned to the hut, so that on
the 31st July the adventurers were thus dispersed—three on the search,
three at the hut, two at the cave, and one of the two sailors in charge
of the two sappers at the sick dêpot. The explorers made a long march
the first day, examining every nook and every cliff for fresh evidences
of habitation. The rain pelted on them; the snow sat in flakes on their
gaunt frames; and wearied and foot-sore they dropped at night on the
spot where the last speck of twilight left them in darkness. Next
morning they were early afoot, and onward they travelled in pursuit of
what, so far, seemed an ignis fatuus. Resolved to win their spurs, they
would not suffer despondency or gloom to cheat them of their
expectations; and another morning had scarcely opened upon them when the
reward of their endurance and exertion was within their grasp. It was on
the 1st August, when, after rambling about the island for no less than
six weeks, shaken and enfeebled by hunger, pain, toil, and frost, they
fell in with a party of twelve seafaring men in the service of Mr. Geary
of Cape Town. The meeting was one in which mutual amazement and
happiness were keenly felt; and for the following thirty-two days, no
vessel having touched at the island, the Cape seamen generously shared
with the adventurers their scanty stock of farina. Poor Goldsmith was
still alive. The strangers carried him more than thirty miles to the
cave on the south beach of the island in which they resided. One by one
his toes dropped from his feet, and he perished on the 24th August. With
every feeling of affection and sorrow for his unhappy fate, his comrades
interred his remains on the spot where he ceased the mortal struggle.

The schooner ‘Courier,’ of Cape Town, at length brought up at the island
with a supply of provisions; and the survivors of the wreck, after
seventy-two days’ sojourn in that bleak and desolate region, having
embarked on board of her, landed at Table Bay on the 10th November,
where they were gratefully welcomed and entertained by a party of the

A party of sixteen non-commissioned officers and men, afterwards
increased to nineteen of all ranks, under sergeant James Steel, was
detached on the 1st May with sufficient camp-houses, equipage, and
stores, to carry out the remeasurement of the base line on Salisbury
Plain, by means of the compensation bars invented by General Colby.[45]
No man or officer on the survey had ever seen the apparatus in position
before; and sergeant Steel, therefore, has the credit of acquiring a
full knowledge of the adaptation and uses of the various instruments
belonging to the apparatus, unassisted by the teaching of any
practician. This he achieved by more than three months’ unwearied study
of some manuscript records on the subject, and by closely observing the
results of a series of experiments which he conducted.

During the first fortnight, the line, six miles and three-quarters in
length as the crow flies, was three times measured with the chain,
marked off, cleared of wood, furze, and other obstacles, and again
roughly surveyed. The little wooden encampment of the detachment was by
this time in excellent order; and, after three days’ tedious work in
testing the apparatus by comparison with the standard bar, the first
compensation bar in the remeasurement was laid at Beacon-hill. Owing to
the steepness of the ground, and other causes, progress over the hill
was both slow and wearisome; but having once mastered the descent, the
operation throughout its length presented less difficulties than were at
first encountered. From time to time the sergeant communicated to the
ordnance map office at Southampton the obstacles, both physical and
instrumental, he met with in his progress, and the contrivances he
resorted to, to overcome them. The journal so sent was full of practical
instruction, of a kind to be easily acquired on future reference, and
was replete with interesting information.

The distribution of the party gave ample employment to every man, and
the division of labour was adapted to the attainments of the men and the
necessities of the duty. Corporal William Jenkins assisted the sergeant
at the bars and microscopes. The latter compared the microscopes with
the standard on Sundays; and frequently, after a severe day’s work, the
same process was necessarily gone through, and other adjustments of the
instruments effected. Corporal Edward Harkin constantly attended to the
aligning instrument, whilst one man assisted him in preparing the
stations, &c.; two privates levelled the triangles for the feet of the
supporting stools for the bars; two attended to the adjustment of the
stools on the triangles, levelled the camels on them, and moved forward
the microscopes, &c.; two carried forward the bars and point-carriers,
and levelled the former and fixed the latter; one registered the bars
and microscopes, and otherwise aided in moving them forward and
adjusting them; one, a carpenter, made the pickets, and repaired the
mallets, tents, &c.; four attended to the shifting and placement of the
tents; one was sentry over the bars at the dinner hour and during the
night, to prevent any disturbance in the apparatus; and two attended to
the domestic and miscellaneous duties of the huts.

The camp occupied three different positions on the line. It was thus
moved twice forward. On each occasion, for a few days, no progress was
made in the remeasurement, and sergeant Steel with two privates, filled
up the interval in comparing the bars and microscopes with the
standards. In the meantime, the remainder of the detachment fitted up
the portable huts in the position selected for them.

Great nicety and precision were required in the placement of the bars;
and so rigidly did the sergeant enforce the strictest exactness in their
alignment and contiguity, that he would not order the “move forward”
until he satisfied himself that the possibility of an error in the
operation was not likely to exceed the 10,000th part of an inch. In this
way the work was continued till the 16th October, 1848, when the 3,484th
bar shot over the old Sarum terminus of the line. This was followed by a
spontaneous cheer, hearty and sustained, from the assembled party who
thus commemorated the successful accomplishment of the operation. By
previous computations from the Lough Foyle base, the perfect accuracy of
the remeasurement was proved; for, not only did the predetermined bar
reach the gun, but the very inch of it entered the muzzle.

To ascertain by the usual computations whether any error by the omission
in the registry of a bar or microscope could be detected, the line was
divided into three parts, and each part was used as a base for a minor
triangulation. Very great care was taken in executing this
triangulation, but it failed to discover any inaccuracy in the
measurement. Sergeant James Donelan and corporal William Jenkins, with
the two 3-feet instruments, carried out this special service.

The results of the two measurements stand on record as under:—

 By General Mudge with Ramsden’s steel-chains in 1794       36575·64 feet.
 By sergeant Steel, with Colby’s compensation-bars, in 1849 36577·95   ”
 Computed from Lough Foyle base                             36577·34   ”

The precision of the two operations by such different instruments is
strikingly close and beautiful, and not only illustrates the excellence
of the instruments, but the perfection of the work.

On the completion of the service, corporal Jenkins was intrusted with
one of the great theodolites, and removed with a camp party from the
base detachment to a mountain station. The remainder were soon dispersed
on the general duties of the survey, and sergeant Steel, after again
comparing the bars and microscopes with the standard measures, returned
with the compensation apparatus, &c., to Southampton.[46]

On the 7th June, one sergeant and twenty-five rank and file were removed
from Woolwich to Shoeburyness to erect temporary barracks, &c., for the
royal artillery, and also to lay platforms, build batteries, and to
execute the varied works which a new station might call for, both for
the convenience of the ordnance troops and the interests of the service.
The party was increased to thirty of all ranks in July, but in October
following was reduced to six non-commissioned officers and privates.
Ever since this period, a small detachment has been retained at the
station to carry on the current repairs and improvements, and its
strength has fluctuated from time to time, in accordance with the
prevailing emergencies.

The convicts had been working for a time in repairing the main-sewer in
the royal arsenal at Woolwich, but in consequence of the unhealthiness
of the duty, were withdrawn from it. As the work was one of considerable
importance to the locality in a sanitary point of view, volunteers to
finish the drain were therefore demanded from the royal sappers and
miners. One sergeant and eight privates at once undertook the work,
continuing at it during a portion of the month of August, and its
execution was effected without the slightest injury to any one engaged.
This led the Marquis of Anglesey, then Master-General, on the 5th
September to extol the labours of the party in these words: “I desire to
mark my high approbation and admiration of the gallant conduct of the
corps of royal sappers and miners, in volunteering an unpleasant and
even dangerous service in the cause of humanity. Such self-devotion,
wholly devoid as it is of the stimulus of public honour and of glory,
far exceeds the renown gained in the battle-field. I offer my thanks to
all the individuals concerned.”[47]

On the 6th October an experiment was made at the Royal Military College
at Sandhurst, to blow in the barrier-gate of the bastion-fort, which
cost the lives of the sergeant and one of the privates employed.
Sergeant John Cameron under Major Adams, had the conduct of the
arrangements and the preparation of the fuse. Nine pounds of powder were
placed in a sand-bag having a canvas tube joining into the middle of the
powder. In this canvas tube was fixed a grenade fuse with a piece of
cotton in it, calculated to burn a sufficient time after the cotton
should burst into flame. The bag of powder placed against the barrier,
was covered over with a curved iron shield with a hole in it to permit
the fuse to come through, and then four sand-bags were lodged against
the shield. The arrangements being completed, all the sappers retired
except the sergeant and a private to ignite the fuse. Suddenly the
explosion took place, and at once the sergeant was blown into the wet
ditch, and the private knocked down on the berm. Both were mutilated in
a frightful manner and in a few days expired. The accident is supposed
to have arisen from some defect in the fuse which was made by the
sergeant. Sergeant Cameron was a zealous and talented non-commissioned
officer, had several seasons been employed with great advantage at the
college, and presented the institution with some interesting military
models. His widow was granted a pension of 10_l._ a-year.


Footnote 38:

  The ‘Times,’ 12th January, 1849. ‘Corps Papers,’ i., pp. 415, 416.

Footnote 39:

  Sir John Richardson, ii., p. 138.

Footnote 40:


Footnote 41:

  Sir John Richardson, ii., pp. 138-141.

Footnote 42:

  Ibid. ii., p. 144.

Footnote 43:

  Sergeant Robert Gardiner, the senior non-commissioned officer of the
  party, by great assiduity and application so improved his attainments,
  that he was recommended for the appointment of clerk of works in the
  royal engineer department. His drawings of the Supreme Court of
  Adelaide gained him much credit, and his services were marked by
  skill, zeal, and usefulness up to the period of his discharge, in
  February, 1854. Military men, particularly in the distant south, have
  every means of improving their condition; and if they possess a
  commercial bias, may, with tact, accumulate wealth. Gardiner has not
  been unmindful of his interests in this respect, and he is in a fair
  way of making his fortune. Offered for his good services to the public
  the situation of foreman of works to the department at Hobart Town, he
  declined it, and he now fills an advantageous appointment in the
  survey department of the colony of South Australia.

Footnote 44:

  ‘Cape Town Mail,’ November 17, 1849.

Footnote 45:

  General Mudge measured the line in 1794.

Footnote 46:

  While on Salisbury Plain he was visited by Lieutenant-General Sir
  Charles Pasley, frequently by Colonel Hall and Captain Yolland, and by
  about fifty other officers of the royal engineers; also by Professors
  Airy, Sheepshanks, and Cape. The last gentleman was very free in his
  inquiries. The mode of aligning the instrument did not, at first,
  satisfy him, but eventually the process having been minutely explained
  by the sergeant, he went away convinced and gratified. Captain Gosset
  was present at the laying of the first bar and Captain Hawkins at the

Footnote 47:

  In the reign of Tarquin I., 606 B.C., a force of Roman soldiers,
  ordered to construct common sewers, considered the employment an
  indignity and destroyed themselves. The self-esteem of the Roman
  soldier which led to so fatal a result, had a different effect on the
  modern; for the pride of the latter, tempered by a consideration of
  duty, urged him into the midst of danger and for the sake of humanity
  to seek it. Reflecting too, that the service, though paramount, was
  too objectionable for even convicts to perform, the warm eulogy of the
  Marquis may not be regarded as undeserved by those on whom it was


Sir Robert Gardiner’s opinion of the corps—Party to the penal settlement
  at Swan River—Detachment to New Zealand—Draft to Hong-Kong—Mining
  operations at Seaford Bay—Determinations of the latitudes of various
  trigonometrical stations—Sergeant James Steel—Professor Airy—The
  leisure of the sergeant—New method of acquiring a knowledge of
  chess—Hardships of a party landed at Rona.

Early in the year, Sir Robert Gardiner, the governor at Gibraltar, wrote
a complimentary letter to Sir John Burgoyne, relative to the companies
of the corps under his Excellency’s command. “My opinion of the
sappers,” he says, “is everything that you, in your personal, natural,
and official station would desire; their movements surprise me, and are
proofs of the care and attention of the officers, who must be good
tacticians, as well as good engineers.”

On the 15th February, five rank and file embarked at Deptford in the
‘Scindian’ convict ship, under Captain E. Y. W. Henderson, R.E., for the
Swan River settlement, and landed at Freemantle on the 11th June. The
captain had been appointed comptroller-general of prisons, and obtained
the authority of Earl Grey, then Secretary of State for the colonies, to
take with him this small detachment. The men were experienced as
soldiers and tradesmen: one of their number was a competent draughtsman
and architect, and another was acquainted with surveying, camp-duty, and
the mode of blasting rock. On their arrival in the colony, they were
appointed warders over the convicts, as well to keep them in discipline
as to direct them in the execution of the various works that might be
undertaken for the establishment of a penal settlement and the
development of the colony. The party was also intended to superintend
the submarine operations required in the removal of the bar at the mouth
of the harbour. The rates of working-pay granted to them, ranged between
1_s._ 3_d._ and 2_s._ a-day. A full company has since been added to the
command on the recommendation of Captain Henderson, R.E.

Late in March one sergeant and twenty-six rank and file embarked for New
Zealand, under Lieut. F. R. Chesney, R.E., and landed at Auckland on the
26th August, increasing the detachment there to a half-company of
forty-one strong. The removal of this party from Woolwich was occasioned
by the loss by shipwreck, near the Cape of Good Hope, of the detachment
which sailed for that colony in April, 1849.

Fifteen rank and file embarked on the 15th May for China, and landed at
Victoria on the 18th October. This was the fifth detachment sent to that
country. Two men sent from Woolwich in April, to superintend the laying
of asphalte on the government works, arrived at Hong Kong on the 17th

At Seaford Bay, on the coast of Sussex, the sea had made considerable
encroachment, so as to jeopardise much of the adjacent property, and
also the defences and martello-tower in its vicinity. Large sums of
money had been expended in the construction of wood groins and clay
embankments, with only partial success; and as an effectual remedy, it
was proposed to throw down by mining a portion of the chalk rock itself,
in the direction of the tidal current, and thus cause it to accumulate
the shingle and protect the land and contiguous property. The cliff was
high, bold, and bare, and worn at the base into hollows and long
perpendicular crevices by the lashing of the waves, which, at high
water, rushed up its aged and craggy face. With the view to efficiency
and economy, the Master-General approved of the operations being carried
out by a detachment of sappers and miners; and accordingly two sergeants
and forty-four rank and file of the fourth company left Portsmouth at
the end of July under Lieutenant E. W. Ward, R.E., who, on arriving at
Seaford, lost no time in commencing the interesting undertaking. Late in
August, the party was increased by ten rank and file under Captain
Craigie, to assist in completing the final arrangements, and to take the
military duty consequent upon the anticipated explosion.

The works were conducted under the direction of Colonel G. G. Lewis,
R.E., with Captain E. C. Frome as his executive officer. In the face of
the cliff, about thirty-five feet above high-water mark, a nearly
horizontal gallery was cut a considerable distance into the chalk. The
mouth of this gallery was approached by a ladder and platform, supported
by scaffolding. Inside the opening a cave was formed for spare tools and
materials, and another also was excavated at the end of the gallery for
a similar purpose. At right angles from this gallery, extending
fifty-five feet to the right and sixty-five to the left, were
corresponding galleries, at the extremities of which were two chambers
of about seven feet cube, containing 12,000 lbs. of powder each. Two
wires, respectively in connexion with two of Grove’s batteries,
completed the arrangements for exploding these charges simultaneously.
The chambers of powder were about seventy feet from the face of the
cliff, and were intended to drive out its under portions and roll them
towards the sea. Upon the surface of the rock, eighty-four feet from its
edge, were sunk five vertical shafts, at the bottom of which other
chambers were excavated, containing, in three of them, each 600 lbs. of
powder, to be fired simultaneously with the two great charges. The two
other chambers were not loaded, from the non-arrival of a sufficient
quantity of powder. The shaft chambers were connected by wires to a
Smee’s battery, placed in a wooden shed erected about 180 feet from the
edge of the cliff. The wires to convey the electric fluid to each
chamber were covered with tape and varnished or tarred over. The
galleries were tamped with sand and chalk, in bags, to within fifty feet
of the mouth, both branches being tamped up, and twenty feet down the
large gallery. “The men worked in reliefs for the whole twenty-four
hours. For the gallery three reliefs of four men each, were appointed;
and subsequently for the branches three reliefs of six men for the
two.... The relieving hours were 6 A.M., 6 P.M., and midnight, except at
periods when the high spring tides prevented the relief passing a
projecting part of the cliff at the proper hours, when arrangements were
made to equalize the extra time the men were so employed.... The work
was hardly ever interrupted in its progress, for by compelling each
relief to be in barracks six hours before their turn came for work, the
men were invariably fresh at the commencement of their time; and as the
working pay was good and the best miners were always employed, the
average amount of work performed by night equalled that accomplished by

All the necessary operations being completed, the great explosion, on a
signal from the galvanic battery by sergeant Edward Wright took place on
the 19th September, under the immediate orders of Colonel Lewis. The
effect of firing the two great chambers was to throw out the under
portions of the rock, which, from the downward pressure of the
superincumbent masses, rolled with a convulsive heaving towards the sea,
carrying with them the three smaller chambers unexploded, and causing
deep fissures in the chalk as far back as the very foundation of the
battery shed. The undertaking, so far as dislocating an immense mass of
chalk from the cliff was concerned, was thus perfectly successful; but
subsequent experience has thrown doubts upon its utility as a
breakwater, for the chalk is gradually being washed away, and if some
natural intervention does not take place to conglomerate the mass into a
compact resisting body, time will remove the headland altogether, and
expose as before the land and its defences to the gradual invasion of
the sea.

The explosion was one of the largest that had ever occurred, and passed
off without accident, delay, confusion, or inconvenience to any one of
the detachment engaged, or to the thousands of spectators who witnessed
the operation.[48] The quantity of chalk displaced was about 200,000
cubic yards, or about 292,000 tons. The distance the debris was hurled
in front of the original line of cliff was more than 300 feet. The
average breadth of the mound formed was about 360 feet, and its mean
height about 50 feet.

Much of the expense of the service was paid by Mr. Catt, jun., a miller,
to whom the surrounding property belonged, and who, as well for his own
interest as for the welfare of Newhaven and its harbour, undertook a
large share in the liability. The total cost of the work was 907_l._
12_s._ 11½_d._ Of this sum only 92_l._ 3_s._ 1_d._ was spent on sapper
labour, which included their services for levelling the ground, and
other preliminary duties, excavating the galleries, shafts, and
chambers, digging a trench above the cliff, loading and tamping the
mines, making surveys and sections of the cliff and the works, preparing
and laying wires, clearing away the debris, and various other
miscellaneous duties, which the extensive and peculiar character of the
operations rendered essential.

Lieutenant-General Sir John Burgoyne, the inspector-general of
fortifications, Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Pasley, and a number of
officers of royal engineers, were present to witness the explosion.
Later in the day the non-commissioned officers and privates commemorated
the success of their exertions with an excellent dinner. “Night and
day,” wrote Colonel Lewis, “the detachment worked with great zeal and
alacrity, exposed to colds from draughts and alternations of
temperature, and to injury from falling masses. Nevertheless, no
material accident occurred to any one, and all gained the praise of
their officers, and the respect of the inhabitants of Seaford for their
courteous behaviour and good conduct.”[49]

The observations made with Airy’s zenith sector for the determination of
the latitudes of various trigonometrical stations used in the ordnance
survey of the British Isles, which commenced in 1842, terminated in
December 1850, and the results have become the subject of an important
volume from the pen of Captain Yolland, R.E. The instrument at first was
in charge of officers of the corps, but in course of time, from a
paucity in their number, it devolved upon corporal, afterwards sergeant,
James Steel. The first man of the sappers honoured with the use of the
instrument was private Benjamin Keen Spencer,[50] who was employed with
the earliest parties in carrying on the observations; and it is not a
little curious to add, that General Colby directed his own personal
observations, the work of his most able days to be tested by sergeant
Steel. This is a striking proof both of the greatness of his mind, and
his freedom from those petty jealousies which sometimes mar the
superiority of distinguished characters.[51]

The following table (p. 48), taken from Captain Yolland’s Sector Volume,
“shows in a condensed form the stations observed from, the period during
which the observations were in progress, the officer of royal engineers,
or non-commissioned officer of royal sappers and miners in charge of the
instrument, and the strength of the party; also the number of nights on
which observations were made, and the number of observations registered
at each station.”[52]

                 │             │             │   Officer or            Number of    Number
                 │Observations in progress.  │non-commissioned         Nights on      of
     Stations    │——————-      │——————-      │    Officer      Strength which Ob-    Single
                 │             │             │  in charge of   of the  servations   Obser-
                 │From         │To           │the Instrument.  Sappers. were made.  vations.
 South Barule,   │11 Oct., 1842│12 Oct., 1842│ Lieuts. Hornby     6        2         113
   Isle of Man.  │             │             │    and Gosset
                 │             │             │
 Blackdown,      │26 Nov.    ” │1 Jan., 1843 │     Ditto          7        20      1087[53]
 Dorset          │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Precelly        │11 Apr., 1843│10 May     ” │ Lieuts. Hornby     5        17      674[53]
   Mountain,     │             │             │    and Luyken
 Wales           │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Forth Mountain, │29 May    ”  │17 June     ”│ Lieut. Hornby      7        12        659
   Wexford       │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Hungry Hill, Co.│30 June    ” │31 July   ”  │     Ditto          7        9       295[53]
   Cork          │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Feaghmann, Co.  │14 Aug.    ” │26 Aug.    ” │     Ditto          7        9       395[53]
   Kerry         │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Tawnymore, Co.  │ 2 Oct.    ” │14 Oct.    ” │     Ditto          2        7         294
   Mayo          │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 S. End of L.    │ 8 Nov.    ” │15 Nov.    ” │     Ditto          2        6         335
   Foyle Base    │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Monach,         │16 June, 1844│3 July, 1844 │ Lieut. Gosset      5        10        180
 Stornoway       │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Ben Hutich,     │ 5 Nov.    ” │24 Nov.    ” │     Ditto          6        10        480
  Sutherlandshire│             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Hensbarrow,     │ 9 June, 1845│14 June, 1845│ Corporal Steel     4        6         290
   Cornwall      │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 South Barule,   │21 July    ” │5 Aug.    ”  │     Ditto          3        2         114
   Isle of Man   │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Ben Lomond      │ 2 Sept.   ” │4 Oct.    ”  │     Ditto          4        11        635
                 │             │             │
 Ben Heynish,    │11 Nov.    ” │28 Dec.   ”  │     Ditto          4        10        267
   Isle of Tiree │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Week Down, Isle │26 Apr., 1846│17 May, 1846 │     Ditto          4        11        556
   of Wight      │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Dunnose, ditto  │24 May     ” │6 June    ”  │     Ditto          4        13        643
                 │             │             │
 Boniface Down,  │13 June    ” │21 June    ” │     Ditto          4        7         356
   ditto         │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Port Valley,    │28 June   ”  │14 July   ”  │     Ditto          4        10        411
   ditto         │             │             │
 Saxavord, Unst, │ 3 Oct.   ”  │26 Jan., 1847│     Ditto          4        20        566
 Shetland        │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Gerth of Scaw,  │16 Feb., 1847│10 Apr.    ” │     Ditto          4        21        581
   ditto         │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Balta, in       │30 Apr.   ”  │13 July    ” │     Ditto          4        20      732[54]
   Shetland Isles│             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Cowhythe,       │ 7 Aug.    ” │27 Sept.  ”  │     Ditto          4        18        641
   Banffshire    │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Southampton     │21 Oct.    ” │4 Sept., 1848│Sergt. Steel and    2       180        8730
                 │             │             │Corp. W. Jenkins
                 │             │             │
 St. Agnes,      │13 May, 1850 │1 June, 1850 │ Sergeant Steel     4        11        418
 Scilly          │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Goonhilly Down  │25 June    ” │28 July    ” │     Ditto          4        9         442
 Cornwall        │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 North Rona,     │11 Sept.    ”│16 Sept   ”  │     Ditto          4        5         428
   Co. of Ross   │             │             │
                 │             │             │
 Great Stirling, │14 Nov.     ”│6 Dec.    ”  │     Ditto          4        9         439
   Aberdeenshire │             │             │

“The list of stars,” says Captain Yolland, “selected for observation
fell within the parallels of declination of 37° 38´ and 69° 54´. About
two-thirds of this number were originally chosen, so as to admit of a
continuous series of observations being made when the weather proved
favourable throughout the night, and two observers were for some time
employed with the instrument, who relieved each other after an interval
of several hours’ work. The observations were frequently carried on
continuously for upwards of eight hours, but six hours’ constant
observing was reckoned a good night’s work for one person, in
consequence of the fatigue caused by his having to ascend twice to the
table to make each complete or double observation.”[55] In the course of
the service additional stars, not originally selected for observation,
were occasionally observed, some of which were not found in the works of
the best authorities.[56] Two men, ready penmen, were also employed in
booking, and afterwards copying, the observations on the skeleton forms,
for transmission to the map office at Southampton, where the necessary
computations in connection with the observations, were carried out and
completed under the direction of Captain Yolland, R.E.

It would be out of place here to make any copious detail of the
employment of the sappers on this special duty, belonging as it properly
does to the history of the operation, and being so amply recorded in
Captain Yolland’s Sector Volume; but exception may fairly be taken to a
few particulars in the personal services of the sergeant, which may
prove interesting to the reader, and induce other non-commissioned
officers in the corps to render themselves not only useful to their
officers, but to deserve, in executing any important duty for which they
may be selected, their confidence and approbation.

Sergeant Steel’s first station was at Hensbarrow,[57] from which he was
removed to South Barule, and after completing his observations there, he
was stationed for a time on the wild and romantic hill of Ben Lomond.
There he witnessed a phenomenon which, perhaps, had never before been
seen by any one. He had frequently been _above_ the clouds, and at
Hensbarrow, of a low altitude compared with Ben Lomond, he had observed
the stars a whole night when the clouds _beneath him_ were saturating
with their vapour the little village of Roach below; but on Ben Lomond
he saw extensive masses of cloud settle down into a level wide-spread
stratum, the upper surface of which was at least 500 feet beneath the
camp. This was after sunset, on the 10th September, 1845, with a
beautiful moon and a clear blue sky above, altogether presenting an
impressive _coup d’œil_. Such was the depth and density of the mass,
that it required the powerful influence of the sun’s rays for the two
following days to dispel it. The whiteness of snow was grey, contrasted
with the silver hoar of the heavy cloud when the sun rose on the 11th,
and it offered, said Steel, in his forcible language, “a strong
temptation to a lover of nature’s wildest grandeur, to treat himself to
a celestial walk on its upper surface to the peak on the neighbouring
hill.” Some tourists ascended the mountain on the 11th and 12th of
September in the true spirit of enthusiastic enterprise, wishing to
connect their names in history with this startling, yet truly
magnificent phenomenon, but their amazement was indeed great, when,
after penetrating the cloud, they saw above them an encampment of
soldiers carrying on the official services of the station, with all the
activity and fearlessness of men accustomed to such extraordinary

At Ben Heynish, in Tiree, one of the westerly isles of Scotland, the
sergeant had to struggle in watching and taking a few observations
between the almost incessant storms. Next he was employed in the
remeasurement of the latitude of Dunnose, the southern extremity of a
British arc of meridian, to verify its result as determined with
Ramsden’s zenith sector in 1802, and also to test the value of Professor
Airy’s sector. The observations for this purpose were carried on both at
Week Down and Dunnose. “The near agreement in the results of the
comparison proved very satisfactory as regards the work performed with
both instruments; but to endeavour to trace the extent and amount of the
disturbance that evidently affected the inclination of the plumbline at
Dunnose,” the sergeant afterwards made observations both at Boniface
Down and Port Valley, in the Isle of Wight, by which “the difference in
the geodetic and astronomical amplitudes between Greenwich and Port
Valley were found to be almost insensible, and the comparison with
Boniface Down and Week Down tolerably good.” The discovery, however, of
singular disagreements in the observations at “one of the stations in
the Isle of Wight, which had hitherto been looked on as the southern
extremity of the longest of the British arcs of meridian, and where no
sensible deviation could _à priori_ have been anticipated, led to the
re-examination of the northern extremity of the same arc, situated in
Balta Island, by revisiting it, and by observing also from two other
stations in the Shetland Islands contiguous to it, viz., Gerth of Scaw
and Saxavord.”[58] The disturbance alluded to—the effect of local
attraction—caused the plumbline and level to be deflected or acted upon,
as a loadstone would influence the needle of a mariner’s compass, and
thus, when the levels indicated that the instrument was pointed at
zenith, it was in fact directed to a point nearly four seconds to the
north of it.

To Unst, in Shetland, the northern extremity of the arc just mentioned,
sergeant Steel now repaired, and ascertained the existence of a
disturbance at Saxavord, but in the contrary direction. This was fully
established by taking a similar series of observations at the Gerth of
Scaw, near Lambaness, and on the small uninhabited island of Balta. The
relative position of these stations he fixed astronomically as to
latitude, and geodetically by triangulation and levelling from the mean
level of the sea, which involved observations with regard to the ebb and
flow of the tides. By the series of observations so far made, it was
clearly proved, that the latitude of a place could not be measured with
the degree of certainty formerly supposed, and that though astronomers
may profess to give seconds, tenths, and even hundredths of a second of
their latitude, yet the real truth is, that the record may often be
_several whole seconds in error_. The discovery, now confirmed by
sergeant Steel’s inflexible accuracy, is likely to produce some
interesting discussion in the scientific world, and has already been
made the subject of an article in the ‘Philosophical Journal of Science’
for April, 1853, embraced in a review of Captain Yolland’s Sector

After passing a station at Cowhythe Hill, in Banffshire, to verify the
sector operations of 1813, and which object was satisfactorily attained,
the sergeant fixed his observatory at Southampton, where, in carrying on
the duty, he made various experiments to ascertain the cause of apparent
errors. In taking the usual readings of the telescope micrometers, the
value of the zenith point, derived from each double observation of a
star, varied sensibly. To determine this more accurately, by
ascertaining the true value of the divisions of the screw, and
correcting the error involved in the reduction of the whole of the
observation, he adopted the method of making two distinct observations
of the same star without reversal of the revolving frame, in the manner
described in the Sector Volume, page xxvii, and so excellent was this
method considered, that the value of the screw thus obtained, was
finally applied to all the observations.

In prosecuting the work, it was also evident, that the most northerly
stars furnished the greatest, and the most southerly the least resulting
latitudes. To arrive at the cause of this anomaly, sergeant Steel
devoted much of his time to careful investigation, and his efforts and
experiments were both ingenious and interesting. These embraced
comparisons of the arc with Simms’ dividing engine, by which the
non-existence of any sensible error in the divisions of the limb that
would account for the observed errors was proved; but it was at the same
time clearly ascertained, after a patient examination of the micrometer
screws, the levels, the lenses, and the fullest consideration of the law
of expansion by heat or contraction either by cold or pressure, that the
immediate cause of the disparity arose from the compression of the
divided limb by the downward pressure of the upper screw pivot, which,
at each station, varied in proportion to the degree of pressure
supplied. This was, ever after, a special point of attention with the
sergeant, and as, from the construction of the instrument, no absolutely
permanent and uniform pressure could be insured at all times, he
regulated its extent as well by his judgment as his recollection.

It was a rule with him, notwithstanding the apparent errors that might
be the result, to register his observations with the strictest
exactness. Experience had taught him to expect them as well from local
as from indefinable causes. He considered, moreover, that the more
perfectly an instrument was constructed, the more honestly would it
report the discrepancies of both maker and observer, and that although
the conclusions would seem to be a volume of errors, more credit and
merit were due to the observer for ascertaining, instead of concealing
or covering his errors. Influenced by this novel consideration, he threw
an amount of earnestness, care, and faithfulness into his work, that
rendered his observations of the highest class for accuracy, and
deserving of the fullest confidence.

At Southampton he was assisted in the sector service for nearly twelve
months by corporal William Jenkins: the one observed from sunset till
midnight, and the other from midnight till sunrise. His final
observations were at St. Agnes in Scilly, Goonhilly Down near the Lizard
Point, North Rona, and Great Stirling—the north-east peak of Scotland.
By this series of observations, the arc of meridian, which before
terminated at Forth Mountain in the county of Wexford, and Monach in
Lewis, was extended to St. Agnes in the south, and to Rona in the north,
a small, unknown, and stormy island, about 100 miles west of Orkney.

At Stirling, according to instructions, he examined the promontory to
select for his observations a spot, which would be probably free from
unequal attraction, and fix its position by triangulation. In this he
was quite successful. The point was “so far to the east as to be out of
the direct meridional line of attraction of the hills lying south of
Cowhythe,” and by this series of observations it was ascertained, “that
the deflection existing at Cowhythe, is not general in those latitudes,
and that the discrepancy between its observed and calculated latitude,
is not due to an error in the figure used in computing the geodetic
result, but to local attraction affecting the astronomical
latitude.”[60] The fact of local attraction was now fully established;
but from some peculiarities of its influence in particular districts,
the inference derivable from it is, notwithstanding the skilful
conclusions of scientific men, that the figure of the earth is
_different_ to the commonly-received opinion of its form.

In these later services he and his party were alike exposed to dangers
at sea, and to trials and privations on land; and besides encountering
many perils in difficult boat service, and in landing on almost
inaccessible coasts and islets, they were on several occasions nearly

A small party at Rona was subjected to severe hardships. Its number
consisted of corporal Michael Hayes and ten civil labourers, who
embarked with sergeant Steel’s party on the 29th of August, 1850, to
survey the island. On the following day, by a desperate effort, the
corporal and his labourers pushed into the boat, and taking with them a
little provisions scrambled amid the surf on shore; but as the weather
was boisterous, and there was no harbour or anchorage in which the
schooner could lie-to, she was compelled to return that evening to
Stornoway with sergeant Steel and the sector party. Several days were
now spent in intrepid attempts to regain the island, but such was the
roughness of the sea, and such the fury of the wind, that all efforts to
do so proved fruitless; thereupon, the master of the vessel considering
the undertaking to be impracticable threw up his contract, and it was
not until the 7th of September, when another vessel had been engaged for
the service, that Rona was approached, and a landing effected. All this
time, seven days and eight nights, corporal Hayes and his party were
pent up in Rona upon a very scanty allowance of food, and exposed
without shelter of tent or hut, or even the comfort of warm clothing, to
the cold and tempestuous storms of that dreary and desolate island.


Footnote 48:

  The accidental destruction of the three smaller chambers was
  providential, for had they exploded, the battery-shed, with Captain
  Frome and his assistant, would inevitably have been carried away, and
  crushed among the falling masses: as it was “the electricity of the
  two Grove’s batteries, on igniting the powder in the larger chambers,
  caused an instantaneous disconnection of the Smee’s battery from the
  smaller chambers, and, at the same time, the table on which they stood
  was jerked violently forward between two and three feet, upsetting the
  Smee’s battery on the floor, and throwing out from the others also a
  quantity of the acids.”—‘Illust. Lond. News,’ September 28, 1850.

Footnote 49:

  ‘Professional Papers,’ i., N. S., 68-86. Colonel Lewis’s Paper in
  ‘Jones’s Journal,’ November, 1850.

Footnote 50:

  Now a quartermaster-sergeant. In his early career he was employed in
  the chronometrical determination of the longitude of Valentia, and for
  many years rendered very useful services in filling in the railways on
  the one-inch map. His talents and energy have singled him out at
  different times for the execution of particular duties. He was
  intrusted with the local superintendence of the survey, &c., of Her
  Majesty’s domain at Osborne, in the Isle of Wight; and as a mark of
  approbation for the “attention and care” he exercised in discharging
  the duty, His Royal Highness Prince Albert presented him with a cheque
  for ten pounds. He also had subordinate charge of the survey made for
  the military encampment at Chobham Common.

Footnote 51:

  ‘Professional Papers, R. E.,’ iii., N. S., p. xxiii.

Footnote 52:

  Captain Yolland, ‘Sector Volume,’ p. xiii.

Footnote 53:

  Private B. K. Spencer took a few observations at these stations.

Footnote 54:

  A few observations were taken at this station by Corporal Jenkins.

Footnote 55:

  Captain Yolland, ‘Sector Volume,’ xiii.

Footnote 56:

  Ibid., xiv.

Footnote 57:

  On journeying from Roach, in Cornwall, to Exeter, he sat by the side
  of the Astronomer Royal, who made various inquiries concerning the
  survey. At length, he asked, “What _instrument_ have _you_ been
  using?” “Professor Airy’s zenith sector,” was the reply. “Indeed, _I_
  am Professor Airy!” The surprise and pleasure of the sergeant, before
  unconscious of the presence of the eminent astronomer, may be left to
  the imagination of the reader to conceive. The incident is memorable,
  on account of the introduction, thus singularly obtained by sergeant
  Steel, and of the information he received from the Professor in the
  efficient use of the instrument, as well as in some salient points
  connected with astronomy.

Footnote 58:

  Captain Yolland’s ‘Sector Volume,’ pp. xi. xii.

Footnote 59:

  When oppressed by the monotony of his employments sergeant Steel
  sometimes resorted to the study of extraneous subjects to hold his
  mind fresh for his public duties. In this way he learned phonography
  and the grave game of chess. The latter he acquired, not by the
  teaching of any interested instructor, but by an examination of a
  series of numbers of the “Illustrated London News.”

  It may be allowed to expatiate a little on this matter. A gentleman,
  who had visited the Shetland group, being kindly entertained by Mr.
  Spence of Haroldswick in Unst, quitted the country favourably
  impressed with the homestead of that good man. Shortly after, “The
  Illustrated London News” was sent to Mr. Spence, and has ever since
  been regularly forwarded to him, either by the unknown visitor or the
  proprietor himself. The mystery which Still hangs over the generous
  transaction is not without interest in Unst. From Mr. Spence the
  illustrated journal was weekly supplied for the perusal of the
  sergeant, then encamped on the lonely island of Balta, who, after
  devouring its contents, turned his attention to the study of chess.

  Discovering no analogy between the powers of the puppets and their
  forms or designations, he first applied himself to manufacture a suite
  of men, which should at least have the merit of corresponding in
  character with the authority they possessed. Eschewing those fantastic
  shapes in which chessmen are usually carved, and which, indeed, seem
  as ancient as the grotesque figures on the court cards of a genuine
  pack, he devised a simple scheme to remind him of their powers.
  Thirty-two cubes of wood, sixteen stained white and sixteen black,
  were marked with lines on all their faces, agreeably to the ranks of
  the warriors, and the liberty they possessed in moving over the board.
  The definitions were shown by black lines on the white cubes, and
  white on the black. The bishop having power to roam, under certain
  restrictions, in diagonal directions, a piece was assigned to his
  reverence with diagonal lines marked across the square. The rook
  having a rectangular motion was indicated by a rectangular figure,
  while the redoubtable knight, always moving obliquely, was reticulated
  with lines which pointed out the avenues of his march in quest of the
  enemy. The queen, combining in her will, the power of motion exercised
  both by the rook and knight, exhibited on her royal square the
  necessary lines to make plain the extent of her liberty. Just so with
  the king, who, in this respect had equal power with his consort; but
  as the queen had authority to move forward or backward as far as the
  chequers were open, and the king could only plant his royal foot in
  one check at a time, Steel, to show the curious difference between
  their majesties, introduced into the king’s escutcheon, a pellet
  between each pair of lines to mark the limit of his government and
  distinguish him from his royal spouse. The pawn—the common soldier of
  the board—permitted only to move forward perpendicularly, and to
  capture like his knight obliquely, was singled out from the other
  puppets by three lines issuing from a common centre—one directed
  upwards to the edge of the square and the other two diverging
  obliquely to the angles. By this facile application of geometrical
  combinations he never required to charge his memory with the relative
  powers and movements of the several pieces, and thus became a fair
  player at the game of chess.

Footnote 60:

  Captain Yolland’s ‘Sector Volume,’ p. xii.


Malta—Portsmouth—Swan River—Brown Down batteries—Kaffir war—Strength of
  sappers at the Cape—Corporal Castledine—Attack on Fort
  Beaufort—Whittlesea, &c.—Skirmish near Grass Kop Tower—Also in
  Seyolo’s Country—Patrol—Fight at Fort Brown—Patrol—Storming Fort
  Wiltshire—Patrols—Action at Committy’s Hill—Gallantry of corporal
  James Wilson at Fort Cox—Patrols—Increase to the Cape by withdrawal of
  Company from the Mauritius—Sir Harry Smith’s opinion of the
  sappers—Eulogies concerning them by Lieutenant-Colonel Cole and
  Captain Stace, R.E.

The fourth company under the command of Captain Craigie, R.E., was
removed from Portsmouth on the 3rd January, and sailed from Southampton
for Malta, where it landed on the 17th of that month. This was a new
station for the corps, and its employment there was recommended on the
ground that its services would be of great advantage in the erection of
the proposed fortifications, and in providing an efficient force for the
purpose of defence, in the event of the contingencies of the times
rendering its co-operation desirable. Head-quarters were established at
Valetta, and a large detachment was sent to St. Clement’s to build new
barracks. Much opposition was shown by the working people to the
employment of the company for months after its landing, and even
violence in some instances was resorted to. The press of the island also
entered into the controversy, and the ‘Mediterraneo’ used its agency in
strong editorial articles against the company to effect if possible its
removal from the island; but the ‘Malta Times’ ably defended it, and
successfully exposed the statements of its contemporary. Malignant as
the ‘Mediterraneo’ was, it nevertheless concluded one of its articles
thus:—“The sappers and miners are, we admit, a most efficient and
therefore highly useful body of men everywhere.”

Immediately on the removal of the company to Malta another from Chatham
succeeded it on the works of the royal engineer department in the
Portsmouth district.

The small party of five men at Freemantle, Western Australia, was this
year increased to a company by the arrival of ninety-five
non-commissioned officers and men under Lieutenant Wray, R.E. The
additional force was sent out to superintend the convicts in the
erection and repair of the various public works and buildings, and to
afford military protection to the colonists in the event of any
demonstration of the convicts against authority or the settlers. The
first detachment of sixty-five non-commissioned officers and privates
embarked at Woolwich 10th September, 1851, under Lieutenant Wray, and
anchored in Gage’s Roads 17th December, 1851. The second, under
Lieutenants Crossman and E. F. Du Cane, R.E., of two sergeants and
twenty-eight rank and file, embarked as a convict guard 21st October,
1851, and landed 2nd February, 1852. The number of women and children
that accompanied the parties were seventy-one of the former and ninety
of the latter, and ten children were born on the voyage. Located for a
time as a sanitary expedient on a slip of land running into the sea,
called Woodman’s Point, the company was removed, as soon as the
restriction was rescinded, to Freemantle, where the projected works for
the formation of the convict establishment at once commenced. Many of
the men were appointed instructing-warders, with working pay at 2_s._
a-day each. The company was soon after distributed in small sections
through the penal district, superintending the formation of labour
depôts for ticket-of-leave men, or working at their trades at the
different convict buildings, bridges, &c., and also in the making of
roads. One man for many months assisted in the duty of exploring and
surveying a portion of the colony under the Surveyor-General; and
another—private John Cameron—did good service as a diver in recovering
from the wrecks of vessels on the coast, treasure and valuable property.

An additional company was added to the Portsmouth district by the
arrival at Gosport from Woolwich on the 10th December, of the second
company under the command of Captain J. H. Freeth, R.E. The object of
this reinforcement was to enable the commanding royal engineer to
construct two large earthen batteries on the sea-shore at Brown Down,
some two or three miles below Gosport. As soon as the works were
completed, the company, early in April, 1852, was removed to Chatham for
instruction in the field duties of the corps.

Hostile irruptions had occasionally been made on the frontiers of the
Cape of Good Hope by the Kaffirs from the adjacent territories, and
murders of peaceable subjects perpetrated, which rendered it essential
to check by force of arms their incursions and their crimes. With that
intention the first movement of troops took place in December, 1850. The
opposition of the enemy was determined and furious, and there was every
appearance in the onslaught to induce the belief that the contest would
be severe and protracted.

At the period of the outbreak the total of the sappers in the colony,
scattered to fifteen posts and forts on the frontiers, was about 200 of
all ranks, and notwithstanding that their services were much required in
carrying on the temporary defences in the several localities, they were,
in this war, called upon for a more general co-operation than in any
previous struggle in the colony.

From the unexpected firing of a field-piece from the tower of Fort
Beaufort on the 20th January, 1851, it was feared that the enemy by some
means had entered the place unobserved. Corporal Benjamin Castledine of
the corps, without any delay, reported the circumstance to Colonel
Sutton, Cape mounted rifles, and received his orders to assemble the
troops under arms at their several posts. The order was promptly obeyed;
but scarcely had it been effected when a reinforcement of the Graaf
Reinet levy rode up, and the tumult was readily explained. The firing
was given as a salute to the reinforcement by some imprudent civilians
who had not communicated their intentions to the authorities. The people
who had thus so alarmed the fort were arrested, so that the affair might
be fully sifted; but while measures were being taken with this object by
Captain Pennington and a detachment of the 91st regiment to secure the
persons of the offenders, a concourse of people assembled at Colonel
Sutton’s quarters, where his lady was alone and unprotected, and there
deported themselves with gross outrage, at the same time demanding an
entrance. Corporal Castledine arrived at the moment, threw himself
between the garden-gate and the excited people, and effectually
prevented, by his firmness and military bearing, the ingress they so
valorously sought. The party then made off, but all concerned were
afterwards arrested to await the result of a full inquiry into their
conduct. At this investigation, the explanations given being
sufficiently satisfactory to exonerate them from the perpetration of
intentional alarm or of complicity with the enemy, the Colonel at once
released them from restraint. The “Graham’s Town Journal” of the 8th
February, contained some animadversions on the conduct of corporal
Castledine in this matter, which led Colonel Sutton, in the impression
of that Journal for the 22nd February, to vindicate in every particular
the corporal’s conduct, and added “Corporal Castledine is one of those
well-educated, respectable, and efficient soldiers which are only at
present occasionally met with.... During twenty-four years’ service as a
regimental officer I have never met corporal Castledine’s superior in
his position—seldom his equal.”

In the attack on Fort Beaufort in which Hermanus was killed, corporal
Castledine was posted with seven sappers in charge of a tower where the
ammunition was kept, and commanded a 24-pounder howitzer mounted on it.
The post of honour was given to this trustworthy non-commissioned
officer in anticipation of an attack from Sandilli, who showed in force
on the opposite side of the town. At the commencement of the action
corporal Castledine was nominated to be garrison sergeant-major, and
held the appointment until ill health compelled him to resign. This
occurred in February, 1852, when Major-General Somerset, in a division
order, acknowledged that “corporal Castledine had performed its arduous
duties with the highest credit.” Colonel Sutton, for many months, was
the only officer at Fort Beaufort, and on many occasions, when the
nature of the service required his presence elsewhere, corporal
Castledine commanded the garrison in his absence. Often he had to send
escorts of provisions and ammunition to supply General Somerset’s
division, which service was always so satisfactorily performed that both
the General and Colonel Sutton repeatedly commended him for his
judgment, promptitude, and zeal.

Five rank and file attached to Captain Tylden, R.E., employed surveying
in the territory of the chief Mapassa, being interrupted in the duty,
were now necessarily occupied in adopting expedients for protection.
Early in the year they assisted the inhabitants of Whittlesea in
strengthening their houses against attack, and in converting the village
into a strong defensible position. Afterwards they constructed a small
musket-proof redoubt of dry stones, twelve feet square, with walls three
feet thick and seven high, round their own camp, to protect the field
guns, military stores, and equipment. The waggons were also brought into
requisition, and stone walls were built up under them to render them
defensible. By the evening of the second day everything was completed.
Into this miserable post the Captain with his five sappers, one officer,
a sergeant of police and his wife and four children, took refuge. The
sappers worked so hard during the day that the Captain had to take his
turn at sentry during the night.[61] Soon after these precautionary
services, repeated actions took place between the garrison with the
levied troops raised by Captain Tylden, and the neighbouring tribes, in
every one of which, though attacked by an immensely-superior force, the
little band beat off their assailants with severe loss, and gained for
it the admiration and thanks of the General commanding-in-chief. The
desperation and difficulties of their isolation, coupled with the
paucity of their numbers, whetted their spirit of enterprise, and though
their endurance and heroism might be equalled, they could never be
excelled. In all the operations at Whittlesea, and in the actions with
the tribes at adjacent places, as many of the few sappers as could be
spared from the redoubt and the village were engaged, who participated
with credit in the frequent desperate attacks, exceeding twenty in
number, which it fell to the good fortune of Captain Tylden to repel,
and to his strategical tact and prowess to win.

Sergeant John Poole accompanied a patrol of fifteen mounted men on the
18th February, under Ensign Gill of the Cape mounted rifles, in pursuit
of Kaffirs. Near Grass Kop Tower the spoor of cattle was discovered and
followed up to within sight of Double Drift, where some cattle were seen
in charge of about twenty of the enemy. Taking at once to the bush, half
the detachment advanced, unperceived, until within a few yards of the
kraal, where the Kaffirs fought for a short time, and then fled to the
river. In crossing the stream, sergeant Poole shot one of the rebel
Kaffir police, and one of the two other Kaffirs who were killed on the
occasion. In this gallant affair the patrol captured 106 head of cattle,
2 guns, 3 horses, &c., and received the approbation of Sir Harry Smith.
Sergeant Poole was second in command of the party.

One sergeant and twenty rank and file were attached, on the 28th March,
to a patrol of 900 men under Major Wilmot, R.A., and assisted in the
devastation of Seyolo’s country until the 31st March. With a detachment
of the 6th regiment the sappers remained in charge of the pack-horses
and ammunition, and when attacked, vigorously dispersed the enemy.
Private George Wilson killed two Kaffirs in this skirmish, and private
Charles Jarvis was wounded, the ball striking the fore-finger and thumb,
and lodging in the stock of his carbine.

Two rank and file under Lieutenant Jesse, R.E., were present in the
field with Major-General Somerset’s division from the 27th March to 9th
April. During this patrol the country was scoured near the old Tyumie
Post, Hertzog, Eland’s Post, and the adjacent highlands. The two men
were found very useful in repairing the numerous bad drifts through
which the guns and waggons had to pass, and in the execution of various
incidental services of a professional character.

Sergeant John Poole and one corporal of the corps were present in
repulsing a midnight attack on Fort Brown on the 9th April. The enemy
consisted of ninety-three Hottentots and fifteen Kaffirs. Robert Dunlop
of the corps was the corporal of the guard that night. Hearing the dogs
barking more than usual, he went out to see that the sentries were on
the alert; but finding the Hottentot posted over the cattle, away from
his post in a cloak, he was satisfied of the existence of some
traitorous design, and discovered that the enemy was already in the
kraal. Giving the alarm, the guard and the military in the fort were
quickly assembled, and, under the command of Ensign Gill of the Cape
mounted rifles, a sharp action for two hours was maintained, when the
enemy was driven from the fort with great loss. The rebels attacked both
the tower and the kraal; but from the latter they succeeded in carrying
off about 200 head of cattle.[62]

From the 20th to the 24th April, four sergeants and seventy-six rank and
file under Lieutenant Pasley, R.A., were despatched, with Major Wilmot’s
patrol, into the country of Stock and Seyolo. Near the Keiskama the
sappers and artillery were placed in ambush to attack the flank and rear
of the enemy, while the main body of the patrol engaged the Kaffirs in
front. The country through which the division passed was very perilous,
consisting of high kloofs and dense bush, broken by precipices. In this
march the sappers assisted in destroying about 100 huts, several large
gardens of the enemy, and capturing some large granaries of corn. In
returning, the detachment, acting with the 6th regiment as skirmishers,
kept the enemy at bay and desolated their crops.

On the 30th April, two sergeants and forty-eight rank and file, in
burgher jackets, and laden with provisions and the usual war equipment,
were engaged with the Kaffirs on the march from the Chumie junction to
Fort Wiltshire, and shared in storming and driving them from the
heights, where they had occupied a strong position, under cover of the
ruins of an old tower and a detached outwork. On the 1st May the party
was again in action on the Keiskama; and after five days’ patrolling
through the territories of Seyolo, Stock, Sonto, Tola, and Botman,
regained King William’s Town on the 2nd May. The troops were reported to
have conducted themselves admirably. As the sappers re-entered King
William’s Town, Sir Harry Smith welcomed them by saying, with
characteristic cordiality, “Well done, my lads; you can both build works
and storm them!”

Two sergeants and sixty-nine rank and file, from the 9th to the 13th
May, were employed with Major Wilmot’s patrol in the Amatola Mountains.
In carrying out the service, the division penetrated difficult and
precipitous fastnesses, surprised several of the enemy, and captured
some cattle. The sappers were reported to have conducted themselves on
this duty with willingness and zeal.

From the 17th to the 22nd May, one sergeant and twenty-one rank and file
accompanied a patrol of 800 men under Major Wilmot to Seyolo’s country
as far as Fort Peddie, and returned with a convoy of waggons, cattle,
&c. A similar patrol of two sergeants and forty-one men scoured the
Amatola range, was once engaged with the enemy near Bailie’s Grave, and
returned to King William’s Town, after a harassing march of seven days,
on the 31st May. One sergeant and twenty men were out with another
detachment under Major Wilmot as far as Fort Peddie. The march extended
over ten days, and the patrol returned to King’s William’s Town on the
14th June. Again from the 19th to 21st July two sergeants and forty-nine
men were detached with Colonel Eyre’s patrol, and assisted in clearing
the rebels out of the Buffalo Poorts and Mount Kempt. The marching was
very heavy, being for the most part, between eighty and ninety miles,
through dense bush.

Under Captain Robertson, R.E., four sergeants and seventy-seven rank and
file quitted King William’s Town, with the force, about 400 strong,
under Lieutenant-Colonel Burns of the 2nd Queen’s on the 30th August. A
body of Kaffirs and Hottentots being at Committy’s Hill, the troops
marched on the 1st September from their bivouac at Fort Montgomery
Williams by Breakfast Vley to the hill. One division of the sappers was
extended as flankers on each side of the advancing column, and upon them
a galling fire was soon opened from the bush. The sappers readily
charged into it, and where the thicket could be penetrated drove the
enemy back; but the denseness of the kloof in rear afforded the Kaffirs
much security in retreating. Having ascended the summit of the hill, the
sappers faced right about, and made a rapid charge down the hill on the
enemy, who were gradually collecting in the bush from which they had
just been driven, and inflicted considerable loss upon them. The charge
was made with cheering, yet not in a hurry; the men stopped at each
kloof and fired volleys into it, and then dashed after the fugitives.
“It is most gratifying,” writes Captain Robertson, “to report the
admirable and gallant conduct of the men under my command during this
conflict which lasted nearly three hours, and of the readiness with
which they advanced to carry off the wounded of their own and of other
corps under a heavy fire.” The officers of the 2nd Queen’s spoke in
terms of high commendation of the spirited manner in which the sappers
acted, and of their cheerfulness in obeying their officers. Private
James Murray behaved with great courage in exciting the men both of the
2nd and his own corps to follow him. Running forward like one whose life
depended on the action of the moment, he was followed by several who
lined the bush to which he drew them, and some fell in their gallant
exertions. Among them was private James Fergus, whose arm was pierced by
a ball which passed through the left breast and out near the spine below
the heart. He died in camp soon after the action. Private Patrick
Conroy, a cool and brave soldier, fired at a Kaffir more than 300 yards
away and killed him. Private John Arthur came in contact with one in
passing round a bush, and in a personal conflict laid him dead at his
feet; and private Robert M‘Intosh, whilst in the act of ramming home a
cartridge, saw a Hottentot about to fire at him, but not having time to
withdraw the ramrod capped and fired, and the ramrod passed through his
opponent’s body. Lance-corporal Hosick Cowen and privates Charles Foot
and Thomas Brooking were wounded; the last severely.

At Fort Cox, on the 28th September, second-corporal James Wilson behaved
with intrepidity in repulsing a meditated attack on the cattle-guard. A
body of Kaffirs intended to drive the cattle from the post unperceived,
and then to massacre the guard. Two civilians and the corporal happened
to go out at the time for recreation to an unfrequented spot, and were
unconsciously directing their steps to the bush where the enemy were
concealed in ambush. Fortunately one of the two in advance fired a
random shot, and suddenly more than 200 Kaffirs made their appearance.
The civilians were in front, and the corporal considerably in rear
followed in support. A sharp fire now opened on the corporal, and the
enemy made a disposition to surround him; but the corporal stealthily
retired, and took up a favourable position, from which he kept up an
unerring fire on his adversaries, who fortunately for him seemed more
bent on capturing the cattle than spending their efforts in beating down
a single opponent. Taking advantage of their predatory activity, the
corporal shot down five of the Kaffirs before any assistance was
rendered by the military cattle-guard. On being apprised of the approach
of the enemy, the guard lost no time in collecting and driving off the
cattle to a place of security, but in the attempt two soldiers of the
45th were shot dead. The Kaffirs at once stripped them, and placing
their red jackets on their own bodies, danced frantically at their
triumph. While this scene of exultation was going on, corporal Wilson,
through the intricate windings of the bush, cautiously neared the group,
and firing, one of the savages received the ball from his carbine and
fell dead. On the troops advancing, the corporal at once joined them,
and assisted in driving the enemy from the post.[63]

From the 14th to the 31st October, two sergeants and thirty-one rank and
file served in the field operations with Major-General Somerset’s
division in the Water Kloof, Fuller’s Hoek, Blinkwater, and Kat river.
Again, from the 4th to the 7th November, two sergeants and forty rank
and file were on patrol in Seyolo’s country; and again, from the 1st
December until the 18th January, nine rank and file were present in the
long marches and difficult services of the division under Colonel Eyre.
This party was intended to cut loop-holes in the missionary station at
Butterworth. The India-rubber pontoon raft taken with the party, was
used in the passage of the Kei. This service occupied two days, and the
sappers worked with much ardour in its accomplishment.

With the exception of two or three patrols, in which the sappers were
commanded by the officers already named, it was the good fortune of the
corps in every instance during the campaign to be under the orders of
Captain C. D. Robertson, R.E.

The cessation of the works at the Mauritius made the services of the
company there available for duty at other stations. Accordingly, with
the sanction of Earl Grey, the seventeenth company, under Captain
Fenwick, R.E., quitted the island on the 25th October, and landed at the
Cape of Good Hope on the 19th November. The force of sappers on the
Eastern frontier now consisted of three companies, and counted 276 men
of all ranks.

Speaking of the reinforcement Sir Harry Smith thus wrote to Earl Grey,
under date the 4th October, “I assure your Lordship that I very much
appreciate the value of this reinforcement. No officers and soldiers in
Her Majesty’s army do their duty in a more gallant and exemplary
manner.”[64] On the same date, Sir Harry thus wrote to Sir John
Burgoyne, the inspector-general of fortifications, “I have 120 sappers
here now, under as gallant a fellow as ever lived—Captain Robertson.
These men are the finest soldiers I almost ever saw, and have taken
their tour of most arduous patrol duty heart and soul.”

“From being employed on the works,” wrote Lieutenant-Colonel Cole, the
commanding royal engineer, “and their usual industrious habits, the men
were generally found to endure long marches and fatigues better than the
line, particularly in the commencement of the war.” “Besides,” said
Captain W. C. Stace, R.E., “the performance of garrison, patrols, and
escort duties in the field at most of the posts on the frontier, the
works provided for in the annual estimates, and several special and
numerous incidental services, many of them contingent on the war, were
executed by the sappers and miners, and their important and valuable
services have been duly acknowledged to me verbally by different
officers. The want of such a body of men would have been seriously felt
on many urgent occasions during the war, in consequence of the
difficulty at all times, and sometimes impracticability, to obtain
artificers when required.”


Footnote 61:

  Letter from Captain Tylden in the ‘Times,’ April 23, 1851.

Footnote 62:

  ‘Parliamentary Papers,’ Cape of Good Hope, June, 1851, p. 47.

Footnote 63:

  The incidents of this affair, for the most part, are taken from a Cape
  paper. One day this corporal was fishing in the Keiskama, armed with a
  loaded carbine, when he was approached from behind by a Kaffir. The
  latter fired, and corporal Wilson, who was untouched, fell as if
  killed. Warily the Kaffir neared the spot; but the corporal, watching
  his opportunity, jumped up and shot his opponent. The wound was not
  fatal, but a blow from the butt end of his carbine sealed the Kaffir’s
  fate, and the corporal took home his head as a trophy.

Footnote 64:

  ‘Parliamentary Papers,’ Cape of Good Hope, presented February 3rd,
  1852, p. 164.

                           GREAT EXHIBITION.

Sappers attached to it—Opening—Distribution of the force
  employed—Duties; general superintendence—Clerks and
  draughtsmen—Charge of stationery—Robert Marshall—Testing
  iron-work of building—Workshops—Marking building—Receiving and
  removing goods—Custom-house examination—Fire
  arrangements—Ventilation—Classmen—Private R. Dunlop—Clearing
  arrangements—Miscellaneous services—Bribery—Working-pay—Close of
  the Exhibition—Encomium by Colonel Reid—Also by Prince Albert
  and the Royal Commissioners—Honours and rewards—Their
  distribution—Statistical particulars—Lance-corporal
  Noon—Removing the goods—Return of companies to
  Woolwich—Contributors to the Exhibition—The Ordnance survey—And
  Mr. Forbes, late sergeant-major.

It was the good fortune of the royal sappers and miners this year to be
associated with the Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations, by
which its name and character, its acquirements and usefulness, became
more extensively known, appreciated, and commended. For this honour, the
corps is indebted to Lieutenant-Colonel Reid, the Chairman of the
Executive Committee. Receiving the cordial concurrence of his civil
colleagues, he represented to Prince Albert and the Royal Commissioners,
the desirableness of military co-operation for carrying out the
subordinate details of the work. The measure—at once approved of—was
ordered to be carried into effect, and accordingly, three
lance-corporals—Richard Rice Lindsay, Thomas Baker, and Charles
Fear—were attached on the 11th September, 1850, to the executive
committee. The two former were clerks and draughtsmen, and the latter an
ingenious mechanic and modeller. Their first duty was to execute a plan
and model of the proposed arrangements for the Exhibition. By the end of
the year, fifteen rank and file, clerks and draughtsmen, including a
founder and an engineer, were added to the party, who for a time were
quartered in Kensington cavalry barracks. By degrees the force continued
to augment, and at last by the arrival of the fifth and twenty-second
companies, under Captains Owen and Gibb, R.E., and a strong detachment
under Lieutenant Stopford, R.E., who was appointed acting-adjutant, the
corps, on the 21st April, 1851, counted 200 non-commissioned officers
and men. This was the greatest number of the sappers ever employed at
the Exhibition. The enlarged force was furnished on the ground that as
the corps was composed of artizans, its services would be especially
useful, particularly in the mechanical part of the arrangements. As soon
as the small cavalry barrack was full, the subsequent arrivals at the
Exhibition were quartered in the royal palace at Kensington, and
ultimately the detachment in the former barrack was also removed to the

Just prior to the opening of the Exhibition on the 1st May, parties of
the corps placed barriers across the various entrances into the building
and also at some of the naves leading into the transept. At each outer
barrier a small section of men was posted to prevent its removal, or the
ingress of persons not authorized to view or take part in the state
ceremonial. Within the area of the transept a strong detachment was
stationed near Her Majesty, to attend to any orders which Prince Albert
or the Royal Commissioners might see necessary to enforce. As the crowd
kept flowing in, the “temporary barriers to protect the space round the
throne were in part swept away” by the excusable impetuosity of the
throng, “and the entire space of the nave seemed to be permanently in
possession of the spectators. In this emergency Colonel Reid called out
a party of sappers who soon restored order, and thus,” wrote ‘The
Times,’ to whose columns these pages are indebted for the above
description—“added one additional service to the many others which they
had contributed for months within the walls of the Exhibition.” With
temper and management the confusion soon subsided, and by ten o’clock
order was established, “and reasonable facility afforded for the royal
progress round the nave of the building.”[65] Immediately the Queen
proclaimed the Exhibition opened, the sappers removed the barriers, and
the avenues of the building were at once rendered free for the
unrestrained passage of the people. For the temperate, quiet, and
efficient conduct of the sappers on the occasion, they received the
thanks of Colonel Reid, Sir George Grey, the Home Secretary, and Sir
Richard Mayne, the Chief Commissioner of Police.[69]

The subjoined table shows the strength of the corps at the Exhibition at
the beginning of each month from October, 1850, to December, 1851, and
also illustrates the divisions of labour in which the several parties
were occupied.[70]

                          │     1850      │                     1851
    RANKS—DISTRIBUTION    │Sep│Oct│Nov│Dec│Jan│Feb│Mar│Apr│May│Jun│Jul│Aug│Sep│Oct│Nov│Dec
 Strength:—               │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
   Colour-Sergeants       │   │   │   │   │   │   │  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│
   Sergeants              │   │   │   │   │   │  2│  4│  6│  4│  6│  5│  6│  4│  3│  2│  1
   Corporals              │   │   │   │   │   │  1│  7│ 10│  7│ 10│  6│ 10│ 10│  9│  9│  2
   Second Corporals       │  1│  1│  2│  2│  2│  3│ 10│ 13│  8│ 14│ 10│ 13│ 10│  9│  8│  3
   Privates               │  6│  5│  5│  9│ 11│ 31│142│158│160│155│137│144│142│132│154│ 17
   Buglers                │   │   │   │   │   │   │  2│  4│  4│  4│  4│  4│  4│  4│  4│  1
 Total Strength           │  7│  6│  7│ 11│ 13│ 37│167│193│185│191│164│179│172│159│179│ 24
 Distribution:—           │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 General superintendence  │   │   │   │   │   │   │  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│
 Clerks, draughtsmen,     │  4│  3│  4│  8│  9│ 15│ 13│ 25│ 17│ 17│ 17│ 22│ 22│ 17│  7│  7
   autographic press, &c. │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Charge of stationery, &c.│   │   │   │   │   │   │  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2
 Testing iron-work        │  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│  2│   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Modellers—workshops      │  1│  1│  1│  1│  1│  1│  1│  2│ 10│ 10│ 10│ 10│  8│  7│  2│  1
 Lettering and laying out │   │   │   │   │   │ 18│ 18│ 10│   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
   passages               │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Receiving, arranging,    │   │   │   │   │   │   │ 44│ 46│ 23│ 28│   │ 12│  3│  5│121│  4
   unpacking, and removing│   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
   goods                  │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Custom-house examinations│   │   │   │   │   │   │ 24│ 24│  6│  6│  4│  4│  2│  2│ 10│  2
 Charge of gates          │   │   │   │   │   │   │  2│  2│   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Charge of fire-engines,  │   │   │   │   │   │   │ 14│  9│ 20│ 20│ 20│ 22│ 20│ 12│  3│  3
   &c.                    │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Ventilation              │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │  2│  2│  2│  2│  1│  1│   │
 Class superintendents    │   │   │   │   │   │   │ 21│ 48│ 46│ 46│ 49│ 50│ 41│ 42│  3│
 Cleaning British side of │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │ 38│ 38│ 38│ 38│ 37│ 39│   │
   building[66]           │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Collecting and arranging │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │ 13│  4│  4│  4
   specimens              │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 On guard                 │   │   │   │   │   │   │  4│  4│  4│  4│  5│  5│  5│  5│  5│
 Cooks and cooks’ mates   │   │   │   │  1│  1│  1│ 10│  8│  9│  9│  6│  6│  8│  8│ 10│  1
 Sick                     │   │   │   │   │   │   │  7│  9│  3│  5│  3│  2│  1│  1│  2│
 Absent from various      │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │  1│  3│  1│  2│   │  4│  3│  3│
   causes[67]             │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │
 Tailors                  │   │   │   │   │   │   │  3│  1│   │  1│  2│  2│  3│  8│  4│
 On command[68]           │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │   │  1│  1│
 Total                    │  7│  6│  7│ 12│ 13│ 37│167│193│185│191│162│179│172│159│179│ 24

Footnote 66:

  Part of day only.

Footnote 67:

  Duty, furlough, pass, &c.

Footnote 68:

  Clerk, Royal Engineers’ Department, Glasgow.


A brief but more extended exposition of their duties than the above
detail adduces, is here given to show the general nature of the
connection of the sappers with the Exhibition, and the availability of
the men to discharge onerous duty and varied occupation.[71]

One of the colour-sergeants during the arrangements superintended the
sappers on the British side, and the other on the foreign side. After
the opening of the Exhibition, colour-sergeant Thomas Harding acted as
sergeant-major; and colour-sergeant Noah Deary as foreman of works, in
the repair of damages which accidents and the pressure of the crowd were
continually causing to the railings, counters, &c. On two or three
occasions when there was a press for money-takers, colour-sergeant Deary
and sergeant Thomas P. Cook and William Jamieson did duty as collectors.

The clerks were employed under the various officers, military and civil,
of the Executive Committee; the draughtsmen, partly under Sir W. Cubitt
and Mr. M. Digby Wyatt, when they found such assistance necessary in the
superintendence and record of the progress of the building; but
principally under the Executive Committee, in making the numerous plans
which were necessary during the preliminary arrangements. It was from
their surveys and drawings that the plans in the Commissioners’ First
Report were made. The men employed as clerks and draughtsmen varied at
different times from three to forty in number. One of the men,
lance-corporal John Pendered, was also employed in working an
autographic press, which was useful when a few circulars were required
at a short notice. The facility with which he acquired a knowledge of
the apparatus was creditable to his aptitude, and the simple method he
adopted to throw off the copies with rapidity and clearness proved him
to be intelligent and skilful. The most distinguished of the draughtsmen
were lance-corporals James Mack, Thomas Baker, and Nicholas Clabby,
corporal Archibald Gardner, and lance-corporals Richard R. Lindsay and
John Venner. The large plans, both of the ground and galleries, made for
the convenience of the visitors, to enable them to find their way more
easily to the parts likely most to engage their curiosity, and which
were displayed at the south side of the transept during the later months
of the Exhibition, were prepared by corporals Mack, Baker, Gardner, and
Gabby. Both were considered to be highly-creditable specimens of
drawing, combining boldness and skill with perspicuity. A daily journal,
after noticing one of the drawings, thus wrote of the sappers, “Indeed
that body have rendered invaluable services, not only in the general
arrangements of the interior, but more especially in making those nice
measurements which were essential with reference to the question of
space.” It then concluded its notice by making some flattering allusions
to the proficiency of the sappers employed on the national surveys.[72]
The plans were each twenty-one feet long by six feet wide. Similar
drawings on a very reduced scale, from which the plans in the first
report were engraved, were executed by corporals Gardner, Mack, Clabby,
Venner, and Lindsay, but the principal and most effective part of the
work devolved on corporal Mack. The ground plan was drawn by the three
first-named non-commissioned officers, and the galleries by corporals
Mack and Venner. The interesting coloured diagram to show the
fluctuations in the number of visitors, and other characteristic
details, was wholly drawn by corporal Mack. The plan of the exhibition
building to illustrate the water-supply, and measures for security
against fire, was drawn by corporal Lindsay. These four drawings
comprised the plans in the First Report.

The chart exhibited in the transept on the 6th October, to show by
diagrams the fluctuations in the number of visitors to the building, was
prepared by corporals Gardner and Mack, under the direction of Captain
Owen. ‘The Times,’[73] said it was “a production of great merit and of
much public interest, and resembled those scales of mountain elevations
which are usually prefixed to atlasses. The shilling days were the
Himalayas and Andes of the chart; while the half-crown and five shilling
days were represented by heights of much lower altitude.” With the
permission of the Executive Committee, these two non-commissioned
officers compiled, on the same principle, a similar diagram with more
copious general information, for the proprietors of the ‘Weekly
Dispatch,’ from which an engraving was made, and copies in immense
numbers were thrown off and issued on two stated occasions to the
purchasers of that newspaper. Referring to the great chart shown in the
Exhibition, the ‘Weekly Dispatch’ thus wrote: “This chart, which is
beautifully executed, and is altogether a production of very great
merit, reflects the utmost credit upon the authors—corporals Gardner and
Mack of the royal sappers and miners, a corps which has rendered most
intelligent and valuable service to the Exhibition.”[74]

Corporal Baker, under Mr. Henry Cole, had the honour of preparing a
coloured plan of the arrangements for Her Majesty, another for Prince
Albert, one for the Duchess of Kent, and several for the members of the
Royal Commission. He also surveyed the whole of the arrangements on the
ground floor. In an instructive article in ‘Chambers’ Journal,’ on the
‘Crystal Palace,’ allusion is popularly made to this portion of the
sappers’ duty, and it is justly added, that “the men were found very
useful. All our surveying and planning have been done by them.”[75]

During the latter months of the Exhibition, corporal Clabby recorded
hourly the number of visitors who had entered the building up to the
time of making the registry. This he did on a large sheet of paper fixed
in the transept, at a sufficient elevation for the public to consult it.
The rush at the moment of making the record was always great, and the
interest with which the corporal was greeted and questioned by the
curious, was accompanied by many honourable indications of kindness and
good will.[76]

Two men were in permanent charge of the receipt and issue of printed
forms, and all articles of stationery to the various officers.
Second-corporal John Vercoe was in chief charge. He also assisted as a
clerk, and was pay-sergeant for Lieutenant Stopford’s detachment. From
the 2nd October, 1850, to 23rd January, 1851, he had the charge of the
party then at the Exhibition, and for his courteous deportment and
address, was well spoken of by those with whom he was brought in

Two men were employed during the erection of the building in testing the
cast-iron girders and columns with an hydraulic press, &c., and in
ascertaining that all the bolts were sufficiently screwed up; also in
keeping a record of the ironwork fixed each day. This duty was intrusted
to lance-corporals Robert Fleming and Joseph Barrow; the former tested
the girders, and the latter the proper adjustment of the fitments and
bolts. In cases of dispute about the practicable application of some
defective columns and girders, the opinion of corporal Fleming was, on
three or four occasions, sought for; and he gave it in so clear and
manly a manner, that his views were readily followed by the contractors.
It is not a little remarkable that this non-commissioned officer was the
only sapper recommended by Sir William Reid for promotion, during the
period that the Colonel commanded the corps at the Exhibition. Corporal
Barrow, when not employed in examining the fitments, took his place in
the drawing-room, and notwithstanding the rough occupation he had been
accustomed to, was found efficient. For the successful stability of the
building, some little credit is at least due to these two humble
officials. Their exertions were very great, and their vigilance in the
important work intrusted to them was fully equal to the responsibility.

Soon after the building was constructed, and before the goods began to
be deposited, it was considered desirable to ascertain the effect of
regular oscillation in the galleries. Experiments of different kinds
were tried, but to carry out that which was regarded as the most trying,
a strong detachment of the corps in close columns, keeping military time
and step, was marched several times up and down, and round, and finally
were made to mark time. With the result of this last test the eminent
scientific men present expressed themselves highly gratified, and the
incident was considered to be sufficiently interesting to become the
subject of illustration in a popular journal.[78]

Lance-corporal Charles W. Fear made, in the early part of the
arrangements, a model of a portion of the building for the information
of the Royal Commissioners, and afterwards was employed in making small
models of counters of various parts of the building and other things of
the kind required during the progress of the work. After the opening of
the Exhibition a party was employed in repairing damages caused to the
railings, counters, &c., and in copying, in model, some of the simplest
and most instructive mechanical inventions and appliances for provincial
institutions. The better to carry out the new style of constructing
models, four of the party attended lectures on the subject delivered by
Professor Cowper at King’s College, Somerset House.

A party, varying from five to twenty-five men, all painters, was
employed during the arrangements in numbering and lettering the columns,
and laying down on the floor of the building the plan of the proposed
passages and counters. Lance-corporal John Venner, who also worked as a
clerk and draughtsman, was conspicuous in this division of duty.
Corporal Archibald Gardner, also a draughtsman, was in great request for
printing. The facility with which he lettered notices, labels, &c.,
required in _an instant_, brought him greatly into favour with the
officials. The amount of work he had to execute rendered it
indispensable that some more convenient substance than Indian ink, which
took an immense time to grind, should be found. This he effectually
provided, and thereby caused a considerable saving of expense.
Gas-stoves were used in the Exhibition offices, in which he observed a
very available description of soot to accumulate; and carefully
collecting the material and mixing it with common ink and a little glue,
he manufactured an abundance of a fine jet black preparation, which was
always ready for emergencies.

The number available for unloading the goods when they were coming in
varied from twenty to fifty men, and was not sufficient without the
assistance of considerable numbers of porters from the docks. As the
waggons containing the packages arrived within the building, they were
driven to the centre of the transept and there unloaded and marked by a
Custom-house officer. From the transept relays of sappers conveyed the
packages in trucks to the compartment of the foreign country from which
they had been consigned, where another band of Custom-house officers was
ready to receive them. There was always a fresh supply of sappers with
chisels and other implements to break open lids or other coverings, and
who, with military determination, swept everything before them until the
goods were revealed. This was the usual course of the reception
arrangements.[79] “We have here,” writes a London Journal, “to commend
the aptitude and intelligence with which the force of sappers execute
the duties intrusted to them. So quietly and precisely do they obey
instructions, that their assistance is properly considered of material
consequence to the punctual fulfilment of the arrangements in which they
are concerned.”[80] Another thus writes, “The sappers and miners form
prominent objects in the animated scene. Their work is principally to
facilitate the reception of goods, and they get through all they have to
do with great energy, and with a certain observance of military
precision which is not without its interest to the looker on.”[81]

From ten to twenty men were employed during the receipt of goods in
opening the cases, and in assisting the Custom-house examination. Both
in this duty and in removing the goods the greatest care was taken; so
much so indeed, that only two or three accidents by breakage occurred to
the exhibitors’ property.

As early as January, 1851, while the building was still under the
control of the contractors, a party of four men of the royal sappers and
miners patrolled the building and its workshops every evening after
work, remaining until they had seen every fire and light properly
extinguished except those in the offices, where the great press of work
rendered it necessary to allow fires and lights to be kept up during the
night. With the addition of a party of the London fire brigade, this
arrangement remained in force until the opening of the building, when a
picquet of twenty-four men of the corps was mounted in the building at
eight P.M.; this party on arriving at the Exhibition was marched round
it to all the stations where the different fire-engines, fire-cocks,
tanks, buckets, &c., were placed; thus every individual ascertained that
all the stores were correct and ready for use. The whole of the men of
the corps at the Exhibition had been drilled to the fire-engines, and
made acquainted with all the arrangements undertaken to provide for the
immediate extinction of any fire. The twenty-four men slept in the
building every night, one man remained on sentry to be in readiness to
rouse the men in case of alarm, and a non-commissioned officer and two
men patrolled the building every two hours. The picquet came off duty at
six A.M., when another party of the sappers relieved them for the usual
daily duty. This arrangement continued until the 4th November, 1851. The
number was then reduced to twelve, and on the 11th November to two men,
who remained all night in the building until it was again given over to
the control of the contractors, Messrs. Fox and Henderson, in December,

By day two non-commissioned officers were selected, one for each side of
the building, Foreign and British, whose sole duty it was to take charge
of the men who belonged to the fire-party, and in conjunction with the
men of the London fire brigade on duty at the building, they were held
responsible for all the stores connected with the fire department, that
everything was in its proper place and ready for immediate use, and also
that the water was on, and the pressure not less than sixty feet. When
the body of sappers was marched to work in the building each day, a
party of twelve or fifteen men was allotted for each side of the
Exhibition, and placed under these two non-commissioned officers, who
distributed them to the various fire stations, and visited them during
the day to see that they were at their posts, and alert.[82] The
promptitude with which this service was attended to was exemplified on
an occasion when a fire, in the southern part of the Colonial
collection, raised an alarm. The flue attached to a stove in one of the
offices of the contractors having become heated, ignited a piece of wood
with bunting attached to it. A piece of the burning cloth fell into an
open cask of Indian corn, but the drapery of the counter concealed for a
time what had happened. Eventually the smoke began to break forth, and
as soon as the existence of fire was ascertained, it was extinguished
before it had time to do more than slightly char one plank of wood. The
stores in charge of the non-commissioned officers were 8 engines
complete, 40 cisterns, 16 hydrants, 410 spare buckets, 16 spare hose, 16
axes, 18 hand-pumps, and 15 fire annihilators.

Opening and closing the louvre-boards for ventilation, and keeping a
register of the temperature in the building, were attended to by a few
of the men. The register was kept from 19th May to the 11th October, and
the indications of fourteen thermometers were taken three times
a-day.[83] Corporal Thomas Noon was the chief at this duty, and was
found very intelligent and attentive.

There were one or more men, termed classmen, attached to each class on
the British side, who carried out the orders of the class and district
superintendents during the arrangements, and also during the time of the
Exhibition. The number of classmen appointed to the thirty divisions of
the arrangements during the progress of the building, &c., was
fifty-seven; and the number included in the organization for assisting
in the classes during the exhibition, was sixty-one of all ranks. Five
or six men also assisted on the foreign side, of whom two were attached
to the Chinese court. The classmen afforded material help to the
exhibitors and their assistants in displaying their property to
advantage, and in protecting it.[84] They likewise were often found very
useful in giving information to the public, and in conducting
individuals through the masses, to those parts of the building which
they were the most anxious to visit. Their courteous demeanour and
intelligence were rewarded with repeated expressions of thanks and
satisfaction, and the exhibitors were desirous to mark, in a substantial
form, their appreciation of the services of the classmen, but it was
declined on military considerations. Private tokens of respect, however,
were frequently presented by some of the superintendents and class
assistants to their military subordinates.

A party of about forty men came early in the morning during the
Exhibition, and superintended a force of boys in sweeping the British
side of the building. The arrangement was systematic, simple, and
effective. Six hours—from four o’clock in the morning until ten—were
dedicated to this purpose. Had it not been for the peculiarity of the
structure, the duty of sweeping would have been insurmountable, but
fortunately both floors and roof assisted very greatly to carry off much
of the dust and dirt.[85] After finishing the service each morning, the
detachment was either kept as a reserve, or returned to the barracks.

In addition to the above they on several occasions assisted the police
in their duties, especially on the opening and closing days;
occasionally a few trustworthy non-commissioned officers issued tickets
during the arrangements,[86] and some of the privates rung the bells at
the time the building closed each day. In assisting the police, corporal
George Pearson detected an official personage, holding a lucrative
situation at the Exhibition, taking money from the place in which it was
deposited. The corporal for a long time watched his proceedings, and
making known the case to the superintendent of police, the delinquency
of the official was fully proved, and his dismissal from employment
forthwith ordered.

During the preliminary arrangements the non-commissioned officers who
issued tickets, and took charge of the gates and private entrances, were
frequently besought by bribes to permit individuals the privilege of
entering the building, &c., but no man of the corps was so wanting in a
right sense of his duty as in this way to break the trust reposed in
him. An instance of another kind was brought to the notice of Colonel
Reid by sergeant Thomas P. Cook, who had a party under him employed
removing goods from the hoarding to their destination in the building.
Many of the exhibitors, wishing to insure a priority of attention in the
removal of their property, offered considerations to effect it, but they
were justly exposed, and the Colonel made it the occasion of
complimenting the sergeant for his integrity.

The working-pay of the non-commissioned officers and men was 1_s._ 3_d._
a-day each; but from twenty-five to thirty of the most useful
draughtsmen and others received 2_s._ a-day.

The Exhibition was closed on the 15th October, on which occasion small
parties of sappers were posted at the barriers, and in the various
passages leading to the transept, to assist the police in preventing the
rush of the crowd. They were also placed around three sides of the dais
from which the ceremony took place, and from which Prince Albert “took
leave of all those who had given their assistance towards conducting the
Exhibition to its prosperous issue.”[87] The sappers were engaged the
whole of the previous night in removing obstacles likely to interfere
with the arrangements for the ceremonial. They also constructed the
platform, or dais; and while attending, on the morning of the
ceremonial, to the preliminary arrangements for the temporary
accommodation of the Prince and the Commissioners, a sustained cheer was
given by the visitors for the sappers, as a parting token of thanks and
satisfaction for their past services.

Colonel Reid, now Sir William, on being appointed Governor of Malta,
resigned on the 27th October, 1851, his charge in London, and the
command of the corps at the Exhibition consequently devolved on Captain
H. C. Owen, R.E. “I have,” said Sir William on leaving, “the most
perfect confidence that they will continue to the end of this service,
to perform their duties with the same zeal which they have hitherto
invariably shown, and with the same considerate and forbearing conduct
towards all with whom they have been connected in this arduous

The crowning testimony to the useful services of the corps was
graciously given by Prince Albert and the Royal Commissioners in a
letter to the Marquis of Anglesey, the Master-General of the Ordnance.
In promulgating the letter,[88] a copy of which follows, his Lordship
expressed his confidence that this high testimonial in approbation of
the valuable services of those immediately concerned, would be received
with feelings of pride and gratitude by the whole corps of ordnance.


                                        “WINDSOR CASTLE, _Oct. 29th_

      “I have the honour, as President of the Royal Commission for the
Exhibition of 1851, to convey to your Lordship, both in my own name, and
in that of the Commission, our thanks for the cordial aid you lent us in
allowing several of the corps of royal engineers, and two companies of
royal sappers and miners to assist the executive committee in the
arrangement and management of the Exhibition.

“Her Majesty’s Commissioners consider it due to the officers of royal
engineers, and to the non-commissioned officers and privates of the
royal sappers and miners, who have been thus employed, to express to
your Lordship, in strong terms, the sense which they entertain of the
admirable conduct of the whole body while engaged in this novel,
delicate, and responsible duty.

“The officers of engineers have, in the able assistance rendered by
them, afforded another instance of the useful manner in which a military
body may be employed in civil services during a time of peace.

“The Royal Commissioners, being desirous of marking their sense of the
share which the different persons employed in connexion with the
Exhibition have had in bringing it to a successful issue, have requested
the various civilians so employed to accept a certain sum of money in
recognition of their services. We have ascertained from Colonel Reid,
that such a course would not be agreeable to the feelings of the
engineer-officers who have similarly given their assistance, and to whom
we could have wished to offer a similar token.

“With regard to the non-commissioned officers and privates, it gives me
much pleasure to state, that at the period of the preliminary
arrangements, when the labour required was sometimes excessive, their
exertions were always cheerfully made. During the course of the
Exhibition, they practically demonstrated the great value of their
schools of instruction by the many useful plans which they drew; and by
carefully acting always in subordination to the civil police force, they
established for themselves a character for good conduct and attention to
the exhibitors and visitors, greatly to the credit of the corps to which
they belong.

“The Royal Commissioners have therefore thought fit to award a sum of
600_l._, to be laid out either in drawing or mathematical instruments,
or in other suitable lasting memorial of their connection with the
Exhibition, for the non-commissioned officers and privates of the royal
sappers and miners, to be distributed by the officers in such manner as
your Lordship and the Inspector-General of Fortifications may approve;
and we trust that you will give your sanction to the acceptance of these
testimonials of their good conduct.

                       “I have, &c.,
                                “ALBERT, President Royal Commission.

“_Field Marshal the Marquis of Anglesey,
  “Master-General of the Ordnance._”

In the first report of the Commissioners to the Right Honourable the
Home Secretary, the corps of sappers and miners was thus alluded to: “In
many parts of these arrangements, both before and after the opening of
the Exhibition, the Commissioners derived the most important benefit
from the co-operation and assistance of the corps of royal engineers and
royal sappers and miners, who had been placed at their disposal.”[89]

To carry out the intentions of the Commissioners with respect to the
disposal of the 600_l._ according to individual merit, a board of
officers of royal engineers—Captains Owen and Gibb, and Lieutenant
Stopford—laid down rules to guide them in the distribution. The cardinal
grounds for exclusion were, that none should participate in the rewards
who had been less than a month at the Exhibition, or who had been sent
to head-quarters in consequence of irregularity, or who had been
notoriously idle and useless. Of this character it is satisfactory to
add, that among the whole body employed, from the very beginning to the
close, only two privates had earned the unenviable distinction.

The distribution of the grant was arranged into sums considered to be
equivalent to the criteria of five specific classes of qualification and
utility. On this principle therefore, the first class comprised men
only, who in situations of considerable responsibility, drew public
attention for their steadiness and general ability.

The second and third classes embraced men, who in various degrees called
for favourable mention, and who displayed considerable aptitude and

The fourth class contained men, who not having the same opportunities of
distinguishing themselves as the men in the previous classes, gained the
commendation of their officers and others for attention to duty, and
cheerfulness and exertion in its execution.

The fifth class comprised men who had only been a short time at the
Exhibition, but who, nevertheless, rendered themselves, by their conduct
and zeal, deserving of a slight memento of their services.

According to this classification, the prizes distributed were in value
and number as follows:—

                        Class.      Value. Number.

                        1st. each 10_l._      13
                        2nd.       5_l._      41
                        3rd.       3_l._      41
                        4th.       1_l._      97
                        5th.      10_s._      14
                                   Total     206

The prizes embraced a selection of gold and silver watches, cases of
instruments, portable writing-cases, and such other articles as would
tend to increase the professional efficiency of the men, and at the same
time form a suitable and handsome memorial of their services. Every
article was suitably inscribed with the owner’s name, and the source
from whence it was obtained.

In addition to these rewards, each non-commissioned officer and soldier,
to the extent of the above number, received a bronze medal inscribed
with his name, in a morocco case, to be kept as a token of useful
services rendered, and also a pictorial certificate signed by Prince

The number of men sent to the Exhibition from September 1850 to December
1851, reached a total of 274 of all ranks. Sixty-eight of the number
reaped no advantage from the grant. Of these, twenty-four had been
removed to head-quarters for slight irregularity, two deserted, two did
not participate on account of indolence, thirty-three were only three
weeks at the Exhibition before it closed, and the remainder, seven men,
were removed after short periods of employment, in consequence of

Only one casualty occurred in the companies during their service under
the Royal Commissioners. Lance-corporal Thomas W. Noon had obtained
leave to visit his friends at Oxford, and was killed by a railway
accident at the Bicester station on the 6th September. Liberally
educated, and brought up to the profession of an architect and builder,
he promised to be very useful both as a non-commissioned officer and
foreman. In several situations of responsibility, he proved the
superiority of his attainments, and was consequently one of the first
men selected for duty in London. Mr. Wiltshire, under whom he was
employed at the Exhibition, bore testimony to the value of his services.
Much esteemed by his comrades, his melancholy end was deeply deplored,
and his remains, interred in the cemetery of St. Sepulchre, at Oxford,
were followed to the grave by a large concourse of mourners, among whom
were seven non-commissioned officers of the corps from the Exhibition.
In a funeral sermon, preached by the Rev. W. Mitchell, M.A., in
Hornton-Street Chapel, Kensington, was given a review of the history and
character of the deceased, which awakened interesting sympathies in the
crowded congregation.

The removal of the goods commenced immediately after the closing of the
Exhibition, and all the available sappers were for some weeks employed
in assisting the exhibitors and their assistants to pack their property,
and remove it from the building. Soon these duties, from the rapidity
with which the clearance was carried on, permitted a large force of the
corps to be withdrawn, and accordingly, the 22nd company quitted for
Woolwich on the 4th November, and the 5th company with the greater part
of Lieutenant Stopford’s detachment on the 11th November. Of the number
left, a few were employed in collecting and arranging specimens
presented to the Commissioners for the formation of a trade museum, and
gradually the numbers were reduced to twenty-four, and by the end of the
year to nine men only.

Among the contributors to the Exhibition were the Ordnance Survey, and
Mr. Forbes, late sergeant-major of the corps. The Survey sent a number
of artistic specimens of maps, one of which, Lancashire, was fifty feet
in height and twenty-seven feet in width. A plan of the city of Dublin,
on a scale of sixty inches to the mile, was the finest specimen of map
engraving ever produced in the United Kingdom.[90] With this plan was
associated the name of colour-sergeant John West, late of the corps,
whose services have already received honourable mention in these pages.
Among the other maps exhibited, which especially attracted attention,
was one of the borough of Southampton, on a scale of six inches to a
mile. For finished beauty of execution and truthful delineation of the
various features of the ground, it was regarded as unrivalled. This
specimen was executed by Charles Holland, formerly second-corporal in
the corps, and who is still the leading draughtsman at the Ordnance Map
office, Southampton. As already noticed in these pages, he received a
case of instruments from Prince Albert for his talent in drawing a
similar plan of Windsor. Six or seven specimens of electrotype, to
illustrate the different stages of the process of engraving the
copper-plates, were also exhibited. Sergeant Donald Geddes assisted in
mounting the maps, which from the colossal dimensions of one of them,
was found very difficult; and he also arranged the various specimens in
the space assigned to them at the end of the western gallery. “The
Council gold medal was granted to the Ordnance Department who exhibited
the maps, as a just and honourable tribute to the meritorious and
scientific officers of that department who prepared them.”[91] “For the
copper-plate etchings, and for the use of the electrotype process in
reproducing the plates, our eulogium,” say the Jurors, “is justly due to
the establishment at Southampton, where they are executed.”[92] Sergeant
Geddes had from the first the charge of the electrotype branch at
Southampton, under the executive officers of royal engineers, Captain
Yolland, and afterwards Captain W. D. Gosset; and by his skill and
acquaintance with chemical science, attained that perfection in the art
which, but a few years past, it would have been thought chimerical to

Mr. Forbes exhibited a beautiful model of his spherangular pontoon in
raft, with all its stores complete, and waggon for carriage. He also
contributed the model of an apparatus for the ventilation of mines. Both
objects were inventions of his own, and the former, though not adopted
in the service, gained for him the present of one hundred guineas from
the Board of Ordnance. Mr. Forbes was very late in submitting the
articles, and they have therefore not been included in the official


Footnote 65:

  ‘Times,’ May 2, 1851.

Footnote 69:

  First Report of Royal Commissioners, Exhibition, App. xxv., p. 128.

Footnote 70:

  Ibid., App. vi., p. 50.

Footnote 71:

  Chiefly from the First Report, Royal Commissioners, Exhibition, 1851,
  App. vi., p. 48.

Footnote 72:

  The ‘Times,’ July 2, 1851. The reference is too good to be omitted.
  “The training—which,” proceeds the ‘Times,’ “under Sir C. Pasley’s
  system they undergo, admirably prepares them for this description of
  work, and they have brought to it the practical experience acquired
  during the Irish, Scotch, and English surveys, which it will be
  recollected they were employed upon in compliance with a most valuable
  suggestion to that effect made by Colonel Reid. The plan to which we
  allude is a highly creditable specimen of the skill which the sappers
  have attained in the art of surveying.”

Footnote 73:

  October 7, 1851.

Footnote 74:

  October 12, 1851.

Footnote 75:

  March 1, 1851, p. 130.

Footnote 76:

  Apprehensive of accidents, the _public_ registry of the numbers was, a
  few days before the closing of the Exhibition, abandoned at the
  instigation of the police authorities.

Footnote 77:

  Robert Marshall, formerly a private in the corps, was also attached to
  the stationery department. From this he was promoted to be collector
  from the money-takers. After the Exhibition closed, he received a
  gratifying testimonial from Earl Granville, and a gratuity of one
  month’s pay from the Royal Commissioners as a recognition of his
  services. In consequence of his industry and honesty, he was one of
  two or three retained for employment under the Commissioners, from
  whom he was transferred to the Department of Practical Art, to assist
  in superintending the reception and classified organization of the
  Trade Museum of specimens presented to it from all countries. In this
  duty his disciplined habits of order and arrangement made his services
  of great utility and value. He now holds a lucrative appointment as
  superintendent to a boarding establishment in London, under the
  Electric Telegraph Company, obtained for him, in consequence of his
  creditable conduct at the Exhibition, by Major-General Wylde.

Footnote 78:

  ‘Illustrated London News,’ March 1, 1851.

Footnote 79:

  The ‘Times,’ February 19, 1851.

Footnote 80:

  ‘Illustrated London News,’ February 22, 1851.

Footnote 81:

  The ‘Times,’ February 26, 1851.

Footnote 82:

  First Report, App. xxvi., p. 130.

Footnote 83:

  First Report, App. x., p. 67.

Footnote 84:

  One man, private Alexander Dunlop, in the machinery department, was
  the operator of an interesting experiment with an article of
  manufacture in which both England and France were concerned. The
  incident was related by Mr. Overend, at a public dinner, given at the
  Cutlers’-hall, Sheffield, to the Great Exhibition Local Commissioners
  for that town. Among the jurors there was a French Gentleman, who very
  properly showed great zeal in protecting the interests of his
  countrymen. He admitted that Sheffield had made the best files, but he
  maintained that there was a house in France that could make them
  incontestibly superior. He challenged Sheffield to the trial, and
  selecting the house with which he would make the test, it happened to
  be that of the Mayor of Sheffield, Mr. Turton, who accepted it. From
  France files were brought over for the purpose, and a French engineer
  was despatched across the Channel to use them. Messrs. Turton did not
  send to Sheffield to have files made specially for the occasion, but
  merely went to a London customer, whom they supplied with files, and
  took a few, indiscriminately, from his stock. Private Dunlop was
  chosen to use the English file against the French engineer and the
  French files made for the occasion. Two pieces of steel being selected
  upon which to try the files, they were fixed in two vices. The
  Frenchman was stripped to his work, with sleeves turned up, and all
  encumbrances likely to affect his strength and freedom of action, were
  removed. Dunlop was very differently garbed; his coat was buttoned up
  to the throat, and he was, in all respects, going, as it were, to
  parade. Both now, by a signal, began to work simultaneously, but
  Dunlop, a very powerful blacksmith, had filed the steel down to the
  vice before the French engineer had got one-third through. When the
  files were examined, that of Messrs. Turton was found to be as good as
  ever, while the French one was nearly worn out. The French juror then
  said no doubt he was beaten in that trial; but Messrs. Turton’s file
  must have been made to cut steel only, whereas the French file was
  better adapted for iron. A new trial then took place upon the iron,
  and the result was still more in favour of the English file.

Footnote 85:

  ‘Fraser’s Magazine.’

Footnote 86:

  This gave offence to one London periodical—the ‘Builder’ (April 5,
  1851, p. 212). Its antagonism, however, is consistent, for it has
  always advocated that the services of the sappers should be confined
  purely to military duties, and that the national surveys, &c., should
  be wholly controlled and regulated by civil energy and operation.
  Still, with all its opposition, it spoke of the sappers at the
  Exhibition, in a qualified sense, as intelligent and efficient.

Footnote 87:

  ‘First Report,’ p. xxxvii.

Footnote 88:

  ‘First Report,’ App., vi., p. 49.

Footnote 89:

  ‘First Report,’ p. xxi. It may be worth remarking, that Mr. Cobden,
  the persevering enemy of naval and military establishments, was so
  satisfied with the conduct and services of the corps, that he was
  heard to say, he would never in his advocacy for military
  retrenchment, seek to reduce the numbers of the sappers.

Footnote 90:

  ‘Hampshire Advocate,’ May 10, 1851.

Footnote 91:

  ‘Juries Reports,’ Exhibition, 1851, p. 222.

Footnote 92:


                           SHETLAND ISLANDS.

Observations—Road from Lerwick to Mossbank—To the western districts—And
  southwards—Between Olnafirth and Doura Voe—Voe to Hillswick; corporal
  Andrew Ramsay—Island of Yell; sergeant John F. Read—Intrepid bearing
  of corporal Ramsay—Conduct and usefulness of the party employed on the

For nearly four years one sergeant and five men of the corps had been
employed in Zetland constructing some trunk lines of roads, with the
view of relieving the wants of the poor of the islands, who, from the
failure of their fisheries and other dreadful visitations, were
threatened with starvation. Captain T. Webb, R.E., directed the
operations of the party for three years, but throughout the fourth year,
sergeant Robert Forsyth was alone responsible for its discipline and
conduct. With respect, however, to the execution of the works he
received instructions from Captain Craigie, R.N.

The roads constructed under the superintendence of the sappers were,
considering the character of the country, its frequent storms, heavy
rains, and bleak winds, and the utter inexperience of the peasantry in
land labour and the use of implements, very extensive and difficult.

In 1849 there was scarcely a practicable road in Zetland, except a few
isolated portions in bad condition. But on the removal of the party in
January, 1852, more than 100 miles of excellent road, including the
island of Yell, had been made practicable both for pedestrians and wheel

From Lerwick to Mossbank, twenty-five and a half miles of good road were
cut through a mountainous country intersected with large plots of deep
bog. It was fifteen feet wide clear of the water-tables. All through the
line it was properly drained and gravelled to a depth of between
fourteen and eighteen inches. The undulations of the country and the
occurrence of streams called for considerable engineering skill. At
different parts of this road were built two stone bridges, the first of
fifteen feet span and twenty feet high, and the second of ten feet span.
Both were of the best rubble masonry. In different parts of the line
there were twenty-four large culverts built of dry masonry as
substitutes for bridges. A number of cross drains were also laid and
properly paved. About eight miles of the road ran along the side of a
high hill, and here an embankment and wall were raised on the lower
side, and a cutting made on the upper.

The road from Lerwick to the western districts was constructed over the
steep and rugged heights of Wormiedale, for one mile of which a cutting
was made from the upper side, which assisted in forming an embankment of
five feet average on the lower. From thence to the head of Weesdale Voe
the road ran comparatively easy. A large stone causeway, however, had to
be built over the point of a sheet of water which communicated with the
sea. In this causeway were six openings of two and a half feet by four
feet for the free passage of the tide. From the head of Weesdale Voe to
the Scord of Tresta, one mile, a cutting was made on the upper side, and
a retaining wall built on the lower side of the road. To Gruting Voe,
six miles, the road was easily prepared. On this line two bridges were
erected: one at Bixter with piers of rubble masonry and the
superstructure of stout oak, with a span of ten feet; the other at
Tumlin of dry masonry with three openings. At the head of Gruting Voe, a
causeway of stones, six feet high by thirteen feet broad, with seven
openings of two and a half feet wide each, was constructed, crossing a
part of the Voe for 120 yards, and thereby shortening the distance to
Walls by three quarters of a mile.

From Lerwick, southwards, a road of twenty-three miles was formed to
Dunrossness, and portions of the Test road were also improved. Four
stone bridges and a wooden one were constructed on this line over heavy
and sometimes impassable streams.

From the bridge at Fitch, four miles from Lerwick, a road of one and a
half mile long was made, which joined the Scalloway road and the trunk
line together.

From the main line at the Olnafirth branch another road was cut for
three and a quarter miles, connecting Olnafirth and Doura Voe, whence
there is an easy access by boat to Lerwick. One stone bridge of twelve
feet span and nine feet high was erected on this line.

From Voe to Hillswick fifteen miles of bridle road were made, and two
substantial stone bridges thrown over deep and rapid burns. The ground
was very difficult, and in many places the red granite was so hard that
blasting the rock was necessarily resorted to. This road passed through
part of the parish of Delting, connecting it with North Mavine by a
narrow isthmus about sixty yards wide from sea to sea. On the south of
this the hills rose to a height of about 700 feet above the level of the
sea, and terminated on the shore in very high precipitous cliffs. To
surmount such a barrier with anything like tolerable gradients, it would
have been necessary to make a detour of at least one mile and
three-quarters over uneven and rough ground. To obviate this, a road was
cut along the base of the bold cliffs of Cliva for 590 yards, which,
considering the description of labour employed, was an undertaking of no
ordinary kind. The method adopted was to blast the face of the cliff, in
which only 250 lbs. of powder were expended, and this removed more than
10,000 tons of rock. With the dislodged fragments a retaining wall was
built, which formed a rampart of thirteen feet broad and twelve feet
average height. Some of the stones used in the wall were two tons
weight.[93] Corporal Andrew Ramsay was intrusted with the execution of
the work, and the fact that 1,700 blasts had been fired by him among a
people unused to these operations, and without a single accident
occurring, affords sufficient proof of his caution, discretion, and

In the island of Yell a road of twenty miles, nine feet wide, was cut
between the two principal harbours—Cullivoe and Burravoe. The line was
through a rugged country, with peat morasses, rapid streams, and mica
and silicious rocks. In some places deep excavations were made before
gravel could be obtained to form the surface of the road; and from the
swampy nature of the ground much draining was required to render the
foundation solid and the line durable. The danger of sinking in boggy
ground for gravel was often felt. Once in particular when the party had
dug to the depth of fourteen feet in a broken morass, the sergeant
(Read) observed the whole mass of moss in motion. Instantly he ordered
the workmen to leave the pit. Scarcely had they done so when the sides
began to close in, and, as a rush of water at the same time came from
beneath, the bog was quickly dislocated, and toppling over, filled the
pit.[95] Owing to the inequalities of the surface it was difficult to
carry on the line with easy gradients, and from Bastavoe and Mid Yell
Voe, running far inland, its course was therefore circuitous. A bridge
was constructed over the burn of Dalsetter in North Yell, ten feet span
and nine feet high, with piers of strong masonry, while the cross beams,
planking, and handrail were of substantial oak. A similar bridge was
erected over Laxo burn, Mid Yell, and five large culverts, locally
termed sivars, with heavy embankments, between that and Burravoe in
South Yell. To accommodate South Yell, and to remove a serious
obstruction to the conveyance of the mail and the passage of travellers
in the winter season, bridges of ten feet span and seven feet high were
erected over the dangerous streams of Hamnavoe and Arrisdale. In
building that over Arrisdale a middle pier was erected, the span of the
arch being otherwise too great to make it a sound work.[96] Sergeant
John F. Read was intrusted with the construction of this road. His
conduct throughout his service in Shetland was correct and
soldierlike.[97] His report on the character of his operations in Yell,
detailing the difficulties he surmounted and the improvements effected
in the industrial habits of the people, is highly creditable to his

On one occasion while assisting the making of the Yell road, the conduct
of corporal Ramsay, under peculiar and trying circumstances, elicited
the praise of his officers.[99] An outbreak occurred in his party, and
being unarmed he was placed in a critical position. He was, however,
cool and determined, and resisted in a manly but forbearing manner the
demands of his labourers. By persuasion and command the angry feelings
of the labourers were eventually allayed, and they were induced to
resume with a more contented spirit the employment they so unsparingly

In accordance with arrangements made by the Secretary of State for the
Home Department, the connection of the party with the Highland
Destitution Board closed early this year, and the men arrived at
Woolwich on the 27th January. In parting with the detachment Captain
Craigie, R.N., spoke highly of its efficient and creditable services and
its excellent conduct. Privates Alexander Smith and David Muir executed
all the masonry work on the roads. Sergeant Forsyth, in his character of
superintendent, evinced considerable ability, zeal, and intelligence in
the discharge of his duties, and was unremitting in his efforts to
render Captain Webb’s absence as little felt as possible.[100]


Footnote 93:

  The particulars taken from sergeant Forsyth’s statements in ‘Report of
  Committee of Manage. High. Dest., 1852,’ pp. 15-18, 35-37.

Footnote 94:

  ‘Report of Committee of Manage. High. Dest., 1852,’ p. 41.

Footnote 95:

  Ibid., p. 19.

Footnote 96:

  Ibid., pp. 18-21.

Footnote 97:

  ‘Report of Committee of Manage. High. Dest., 1852,’ p. 41.

Footnote 98:


Footnote 99:


Footnote 100:



Party attached to the Commissioners for the Great Exhibition—Mount
  Alexander—Corporal John McLaren—Spike Island—Brown Down—Hurst
  Castle—Holmfirth Reservoir—Alderney—Cambridge Asylum—Tidal
  observations, river Dee—Van Diemen’s Land—Channel Islands—Kaffir
  war—Passage of the Kei—Patrols—Party benighted in the bush—Action at
  the Konap pass—Patrol—Fort White—Patrols—Expedition against
  Moshesh—Orange River—Passage of the Caledon—The Lieuw—Battle of
  Berea—Return of the expedition; crossing the drift at the
  Lieuw—Repassage of the Caledon—Perils of the “sick-waggon” in
  crossing—Thanks of General Cathcart—Conduct of the sappers during the

The detachment in London under Captain Owen was throughout the year,
attached to the Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851. Four of the
party were generally in the office performing the duty of clerks and
draughtsmen. Among the services executed by them was the organization
and classification, for historic and scientific purposes, of the
voluminous correspondence, documents, and tabulated forms and returns of
the department, previous to their deposit in the royal archives. To this
was added the duty of preparing the various certificates with the
signature of Prince Albert, and forwarding them, with the exhibitors’
and jurors’ medals, and juries’ reports, to the different local and
foreign committees throughout the world. To corporal Gardner was
intrusted the office of stamping the Prince’s signature. Before he
commenced the task he made some experiments to ascertain the best mode
of transferring the royal name from the block to the paper. His object
was to make the impression a perfect resemblance of the original, to
accomplish which the use of common ink was a desideratum. Observation
and ingenuity soon led him to adopt an expedient that proved to be very
successful. About 20,000 of these certificates he prepared, and many of
the transfers were such faithful fac-similes of the original, that the
minutest examination of their details failed to discover the slightest
deviation from the character of the royal autograph. For two or three
months when the men were not employed on more pressing services, they
were advantageously occupied in collecting and arranging specimens
received from the exhibitors, now composing the trade collection at
Kensington palace. They also examined and took charge of the Exhibition
photographs, executed in Paris, 18,000 in number, after their return by
Messrs. De la Rue and Co. who mounted them. In the evening after the
day’s labour had ended, five of the party attended for four months the
Government school of design at Somerset House, and received instruction
in free-hand drawing. The privilege thus conceded was not only
unprecedented but greatly enhanced by an instant departure from the rule
of the institution, which required candidates to avail themselves of its
benefits in their turn. By the end of the year the sappers with Captain
Owen were reduced to four non-commissioned officers.

In January and February two non-commissioned officers with six civilians
as labourers, under Mr. John McLaren,[101] the deputy surveyor-general
of South Australia, were employed in establishing an overland route from
Adelaide to Mount Alexander. They laid out a line of road between these
points through the wilderness, removed all striking obstructions, and
formed at every practicable locality convenient wells of water for the
use of travellers. The object of laying down this line of communication
was principally to assist the transit of the “gold diggers” of the Mount
and the contiguous country into Adelaide.

Twelve rank and file were sent from Woolwich in April to Spike Island,
to superintend the convict mechanical skill and labour placed at the
disposal of the Ordnance, in carrying on the defences of the island and
other posts in Cork harbour. This measure was strongly urged by Colonel
Oldfield, the commanding royal engineer in Ireland, on the score both of
utility and economy; and the services of the party in directing the
convicts in the quarries, the excavations, and at their trades, were
followed by results, indisputably advantageous to the public.

The seventh company, employed first at Portsmouth and then at Gosport,
in conjunction with the second company, in constructing the batteries at
Brown Down, was removed in June from Fort Monckton to Hurst Castle, to
repair its defences and construct new batteries. The men, not quartered
in the castle, were provided with accommodation in a detached shed,
which was converted into a barrack for the purpose.

Early in the year, under orders from the Home Government, four men of
the corps under lance-corporal James S. Taylor, made surveys and plans
of the Holmfirth reservoir and the country in its neighbourhood, to
assist Captain R. C. Moody, R.E., in his inquiries to ascertain the
cause of the bursting of its embankment and the consequent destruction
of life and property. On the completion of the work the men were
commended for the active and able manner in which it had been executed,
and received a liberal allowance for their services.

A new station was opened for the corps this year at Alderney, one of the
Channel Islands, whither the eleventh company, under the command of
Captain W. F. D. Jervois, R.E., repaired from Woolwich, and arrived at
the island on the 30th June. Some four weeks after the men commenced the
construction of the permanent works considered necessary in those
precarious days, to enable the garrison to resist any attempt at
invasion by the enemy. There being but little accommodation in the
island for troops, unused as it had been to have soldiers quartered on
it, the company was necessarily divided into two portions, and domiciled
more than a mile apart, at Longy and Corblets. The “Nunnery” was
constituted an hospital for the sick.

An appeal was made to the corps in June to subscribe towards the
erection of an asylum for soldiers’ widows in memory of the late Duke of
Cambridge. From most of the companies it was met by contributions, which
in the aggregate amounted to 101_l._ 17_s._, and thus insured to the
corps a permanent interest in the institution to the extent of nine
votes at every election of a widow. The gift from the non-commissioned
officers and men of the sappers was the most liberal that had been
received from any regiment in the service.

Sergeant John Berry and one private, both surveyors, were employed under
Captain Vetch, late R.E., from June to August, in conducting a series of
tidal observations in the River Dee at Chester, for the harbour
department of the Admiralty, and to carry out also the provisions of the
“Dee Standard Restoration Act.” The observations were to extend over a
period of twelve months, but the service was concluded in a fourth of
the time. The duty was very carefully attended to, and the registrations
were always accurately made by the sergeant and his assistant.

One sergeant and fourteen rank and file embarked for Van Diemen’s Land
on the 19th July on board the ‘Lady Montagu,’ as a guard over convicts,
in conjunction with a detachment of the line under the command of
Captain J. S. Hawkins, R.E., and landed at Hobart Town on the 11th
December. The Lieutenant-Governor of the colony applied for the
assistance of the sappers to constitute, in the first instance, the
nucleus of an efficient survey body, and to carry on, both in the city
and the distant bush, the trigonometrical and detail survey of the
settlement. The men, eleven of whom were married and had families, were
selected from the survey companies, and were all competent for the duty
both as surveyors and draughtsmen. A change in the designation of the
settlement caused the party to be denominated the “Tasmanian
Detachment.” Very early after its arrival, the legislative council of
the colony showed much hostility to the employment of the sappers, and
at last gained the point for which it had pertinaciously worked. After a
service of nearly four years in the triangulation and survey of
Tasmania, the detachment quitted Hobart Town on the 9th February, 1856,
and landed at Sydney, for similar duty, on the 13th following.

A party of six men from Chatham was employed under Captain G. Bent,
R.E., from 24th September to 13th December, in surveying and levelling
the ground in the neighbourhood of St. Helier’s, Jersey, to the extent
of about ten square miles; and afterwards the same party was removed to
Alderney, where, under Lieutenant Martin and Captain Jervois, it
completed for military purposes a special survey of the island, in May,

Hostilities at the Cape were this year continued in the same desultory
and unsatisfactory manner as in the previous year. The attempts for a
fair open fight were quite unsuccessful, and the patrols undertaken to
drive the enemy into action were equally as harassing and arduous as in
any former war. In these operations the sappers participated to the
extent of their numerical means, not without, in one particular
instance, suffering greatly both in loss of life and property. The
following detail embraces the active services of the corps on the Cape
frontier this year.

A party of two sergeants and sixty-five rank and file, under Captain H.
C. B. Moody, R.E., returned to King William’s Town on the 1st January,
1852, after three days’ march in escorting supplies to Forts White and

One sergeant and thirty rank and file accompanied a patrol of nearly 500
troops from King William’s Town, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Skipwith, 43rd regiment, on the 3rd January. Captain Moody with
Lieutenant Fowler, R.E., commanded the sappers. The American pontoon was
carried with the party. The division crossed the Kei on foot, at a
drift, on the 7th and 8th. On the 14th Colonel Eyre’s division appeared
in sight, but as the Kei had then risen considerably, the pontoon was
used with effect to cross the stream. About one mile and a half above
the drift, at a point where the water was smooth though the current was
strong, the raft was employed. The river was about 100 yards wide, with
a muddy bottom; the bank was easily accessible by infantry, but not by
cavalry or artillery. To form the communication a strong hawser was
passed over to the opposite bank, and the pontoon, attached to it by two
short lines with running loops, was passed from shore to shore, carrying
forty men at each trip. On the first day, seven companies of the 73rd
and 60th regiments were in this manner ferried across, as also about 100
Fingoe women and children. During the day the tide again rapidly fell,
and the waggons, &c., crossed the stream at the main drift. Captain
Moody, in reporting upon the conduct of his detachment, said, “Nothing
could exceed the energy and willingness with which they all worked.”

From the 31st January to 2nd February one sergeant and forty rank and
file, under Lieutenant Fowler, R.E., accompanied the patrol under the
command of Captain Campbell, Cape mounted rifles, and, supplied with
sickles, assisted in devastating the crops of the enemy in the
neighbourhood of Perie and cutting off their supplies. On the Mangoka
river a like razzia was effected, and after a night’s bivouac on the
Gwokkobi, several huts were burnt and fifty acres of corn cut down.
Further destruction was carried on up the Gwokkobi and Umnaza rivers to
the Perie station, to the extent of eighty acres. After a slight
skirmish with about 200 Kaffirs in the Perie bush, the patrol returned
to King William’s Town, laying waste in its route the gardens in the
vicinity of Fort Beresford and down the Umtabini to the point of its
junction with the Buffalo river, comprising another area of about eighty
acres of thriving corn.

Captain Fenwick, R.E., with twenty rank and file, formed the European
part of an escort of 100 strong, which conveyed supplies in five bullock
waggons, in addition to seventy head of cattle, to Major Kyle’s column
in the Tomacha—a distance of seventeen miles from King William’s Town,
to which place the detachment returned on the 5th February after two
days’ patrolling.

From 27th January to 28th February ten rank and file, under
second-corporal William Roberts, were attached to Lieutenant-Colonel
Eyre’s column, and during the operations on the march to the Keiskama,
and beyond it, were employed in making drifts practicable for waggons,
throwing temporary bridges for the passage of the troops, and assisting
in the destruction of the enemy’s crops.

A similar party during the same period, under corporal George Grubb,
accompanied Major Kyle’s division to Seyolo’s country; and, in addition
to the ordinary duties of the camp, assisted in devastating the crops of
the Kaffirs, and improved the drifts for the passage of the waggons and
the fording of the troops. This detachment also formed part of the
waggon escort which conveyed provisions to the column from Fort White.

On the 22nd and 23rd February one sergeant and sixty rank and file were
on patrol to Fort White, with supplies for the columns of Colonel
Mitchell and Major Kyle. Ten waggons were in charge of the party, five
of which were delivered to an escort from Major Kyle’s patrol, and the
remainder were unloaded at the Fort. The party then returned to King
William’s Town, capturing on the road two Kaffirs and six horses.

From 5th to 27th March nine rank and file under Captain Robertson, were
present in the operations of the force under his Excellency the
Commander-in-Chief, in driving the enemy from the Waterkloof and
adjacent fastnesses, and finally from the Amatola mountains. The
sappers, commanded by Captain Fenwick, R.E., were most useful in
rendering the drifts injured by heavy rains practicable for the passage
of waggons. On this service four men of each regiment accompanied the
head-quarters as the Commander-in-Chiefs escort. The party of sappers
also shared in the honour, by being permitted to add five men to his
Excellency’s body guard. One corporal was also attached to the division
under Colonel Eyre, and was present in all its operations from 5th March
to 27th April. To this patrol were added seven rank and file on the 20th
April, who assisted in the concluding services of the division.

Sixty sappers formed part of a patrol of 150 men, under the command of
Captain Moody, R.E., sent out on the 27th March to co-operate with
Colonel Eyre’s division, and also to intercept fugitives, cattle, &c.,
flying from him in the direction of the Isili range. That day Captain
Moody formed a junction with Colonel Eyre’s force under Murray’s
Kraantz, and in working up by Kaffir tracks to the high ground burnt
several of the enemy’s huts. The service required that the party should
descend again: this was done in a different direction over shelving
rocks and through dense underwood. It then crossed one of the sources of
the Buffalo, scoured the country in its vicinage, and returned again
through the bush under the Buffalo range towards Colonel Eyre’s camp.
The paths were most intricate and rocky, and the detachment consequently
marched in Indian file. While in the heart of the bush night came on.
The darkness was so intense that the men were obliged to trail on by
feeling and calling to each other. It was with the greatest difficulty
that the path was kept, but at last it was lost altogether, and halting
near a stream the men lay down on the wet ground, without fires, and
passed the night in a comfortless bivouac. At grey light next morning
the patrol was in motion, and the sappers emerged from the bush after
about four hours’ exertion. One man missed his way in the jungle, and
spent eighteen hours in endeavouring to gain the detachment. He had
nearly exhausted his energies in extricating himself from the steep and
broken rocks that lay in his track, when luckily he was rescued by some
of his comrades who were sent in quest of him. After renewed efforts to
clear the bush of prowling Kaffirs, and driving them and their cattle in
the direction of Colonel Eyre’s division, the detachment on the 29th
March returned to King William’s Town, laying waste on the route three
Kaffir gardens. “As usual,” wrote Captain Moody, “the sappers behaved in
an excellent manner.” Their conduct also met with the approval of
Colonel Eyre.

With a patrol of about 240 troops, commanded by Captain Robertson, R.E.,
was sent a party of one sergeant and forty rank and file, under
Lieutenant Siborne, R.E. The patrol left King William’s Town on the 30th
March. The sappers, broken up into small sections, aided in scouring the
Isili Berg. On the 1st April the patrol quitted the bivouac at the
source of the Yellow Wood river, destroyed a few huts and several fields
of corn, and reached head-quarters on the 2nd April.

A patrol of 300 men, under Captain Moody, R.E., conveyed supplies of
cattle and provisions to Fort Cox for the divisions working in the
Amatolas, and returned with the empty waggons without opposition from
the enemy. The escort was out three days, from 5th to 7th April, and 100
sergeants and rank and file of the corps, under Lieutenant Siborne,
R.E., formed a part of the force.

Sergeant John Mealey and ten rank and file accompanied, on the 7th
April, a small escort under Lieutenant Broke, 60th rifles, with
provisions in waggons to the Green river for Colonel Percival’s
division, and returned the next day to King William’s Town.

Soon after this, a detachment of thirty-one men, under Lieutenant
Siborne, R.E., built a defensible tower in the Keiskama Hoek, for the
purpose of making a demonstration of a fixed purpose permanently to
eject the Gaika tribe from that territory and to occupy the Amatolas.

The head-quarters of the ninth company was removed from King William’s
Town on the 28th May by Graham’s Town and Fort Brown to Beaufort, at
which fort it arrived on the 19th June. Previously to its arrival it was
overtaken in the Konap pass on the 13th June by a body of 200 rebel
Hottentots, under Ian Cornelis and Damon Kuhn, and at noon was suddenly
brought into action. The small force under Captain H. C. B. Moody, R.E.,
consisted of two sergeants, thirty-one rank and file, and one bugler, in
charge of five waggons containing baggage, arms, engineer stores, and
30,000 rounds of musket-ball ammunition, with four women and ten
children. The Pass—a long and dangerous one—has a serpentine direction,
accommodating itself to the tortuous ravine through which it ascends. On
the left, the whole way is a rocky precipice some forty feet high,
scarped either by manual labour to form a road or by descending torrents
in bygone ages, the summit of which is covered with bush. On the right
rises a steep hill, inaccessible, and thickly wooded to the brim; a
better position adapted to a lurking foe could not well be imagined,
affording the means of enfilade fire at every turn of the road.[102]
Acquainted by spies with the movements of the convoy, the rebel
Hottentots had before its approach concealed themselves in an
impenetrable ambuscade, and as the sappers ascended the hill, the
advanced guard was met with a volley which killed three of the mules in
the leading waggon and stopped the progress of the train, the road being
too narrow to turn it. So sudden and fierce a beginning did not appal
the detachment, for instantly, without disorder, they joined issue with
the enemy though far superior in force and almost unassailable in
position. Some of the party soon tried to push into the bush above them,
but the rebels already occupied it close to the edge of the road; and as
the thicket was too dense to work in, the men were compelled to retire.
At this moment one of the leading drivers showed unmistakeable symptoms
of treachery and fraternization with the rebels, and he was instantly
shot down by a sapper.[103] In a few seconds the firing was general for
more than 150 yards on both sides of the Pass, but the detachment,
careful of its ammunition, only fired when the enemy could be seen and
picked off. At length the advance men fell back and took cover under the
bank, and between it and the leading waggon, where they received a
reinforcement of a few men from the rear. Each waggon was now defended
with great determination and intrepidity, and each man fought his way
through fearful straits. The firing was chiefly within five yards and
less of their antagonists. Sometimes in venturing from their shelter to
fire upon the rebels in the kloof, they were opposed by a deadly fire
from behind, which always lessened the number that returned. At the head
of the road a force of the enemy occupied a position which enfiladed the
detachment, but the rebels there were held in check by the steady firing
of a few men who kept a vigilant look out for them. Without diminishing
his fire in the parts he already occupied, the enemy rapidly increased
the extent of his flanks and was trying to surround the little band, but
to prevent this, and as the men had been driven to the last stand and
were fast falling, Captain Moody gave the reluctant order for the women
and children to leave the waggons, and all to commence a retreat. Not a
move was made to the rear until the order was given; and, with as many
of the wounded as could assist themselves, and the women and
children—the retreat towards the old Konap post was conducted with
steadiness and without precipitation under a spirited fire from the
rebels. On clearing the gorge, a section of the men was extended into
the bush to keep the advancing enemy in check, and under its cover the
detachment gained an abandoned inn, which was soon converted into a post
of defence by barricades and loopholes. Here a final stand was to be
made, but the Hottentots, although they were aware of the weakness of
the party, dared not renew the attack. The action lasted an hour;
three-fourths of the time being spent in defending the waggons, which
were riddled with balls. The casualties were——

 Killed           7— Lance-corporal John Hitchings; bugler David
                       Brotherston; privates John Crilly, John Gillies,
                       James Marr, Edward Phillips, and William
                     Also the wife of private Thomas Hayward, and three
                       or four of the drivers, including young Webb, a
                       lad of eighteen years of age, who was shot dead
                       while receiving some caps from a sapper.[104]
 Died of wounds   2— Privates William Forgie and John Arthur.
 Wounded          6— Corporal Edward Wilmore; second-corporal William
 severely              Marshall, and privates Henry Scott, John
                       Cloggie, Philip Gould, and James Reynolds.
 Wounded          1— Private Thomas Seaman.
      Total       16

The enemy, though ensconced in the thicket, had many killed.[105] All
the spare arms, Minié rifles, ammunition, oxen, baggage, and equipments
were captured by the rebels, but the waggons, engineer stores, and some
minor articles were recovered.[106] The Minié rifles luckily had been
“rendered useless by the precaution of removing the nipples.”[107]

Captain Moody’s conduct throughout commanded the confidence of his men.
Of their coolness and courage he reported in the highest terms.
Colour-sergeant Alexander Spalding who commanded the rear-guard, and
sergeant William King, who had charge of the advance, were favourably
noticed in the Captain’s despatch. Sergeant John Davis of the 12th
regiment, was also highly spoken of, as well for his coolness and
courage, as for his offer to proceed with four volunteer sappers to Fort
Brown for assistance. While Captain Moody was assisting the men in their
charges, one of the rebels took a steady aim at him by resting his gun
on the branch of a tree, but his piece snapped, and before he could
re-cap he was shot down by private John Murphy.[108] Three times
sergeant King collected his men, and bravely headed them in their
fruitless charges on the rebels.[109] Private Thomas Hayward volunteered
to go to Fort Brown alone, in disguise, after dusk for assistance, but
the firing having been heard at that fort, a detachment of the 12th
regiment soon appeared, and rendered the hazardous enterprise of the
private unnecessary. The arrival of the reinforcement, however, put the
men again on their mettle, and Captain Moody and his sappers returned
with the party to the scene of the disaster. On both sides of the road
they scoured the jungle, but the rebels had decamped with as much booty
as they could carry off.[110] “The little band of sappers,” wrote a
London journal, “were noble fellows, who often before, under another of
their officers, had fought bravely in a fairer field.”[111] In the
Government notice of the Commander-in-Chief, dated June 16th, 1852, the
conduct of the men “in defending the waggons to the last,” and their
“steady and good order in retreat after inflicting a severe loss on the
enemy,” were much lauded. The notice then added, that “the greatest
credit is due to Captain Moody and his small party of sappers for their
soldier-like and gallant bearing on the occasion.” Even the rebel
Hottentots themselves in speaking of the massacre said, that “the
sappers fought like men.”[112]

The remnant of the party, taking with it the killed and wounded, and the
women and children, reached Fort Brown at dusk on the 14th June. There
the brave men who lost their lives were interred. A subscription was
forthwith made among the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of
the royal artillery and 12th regiment to meet the urgent wants of the
party, and the necessities of the motherless children of private
Hayward. A further sum of 100l. was collected among the benevolent
citizens of Graham’s Town for the same purpose, and the amount was
distributed to the sufferers in proportion to their losses and wants.

A visit to the fatal spot a day or two after afforded unmistakeable
evidence of the obstinate nature of the conflict. Dead horses, oxen and
mules, shot in the fray, blocked up the road. Two of the Hottentots lay
stanched in their blood, and wells of gore were scattered about the path
in sickening frequency. Two waggons, speckled with shot-holes, had been
overturned; and further on, in the line of retreat, were strewn
quantities of torn uniform, broken muskets, blood-stained linen, and
commissariat supplies.[113]

Captain Moody, having under him thirteen rank and file, was out on
patrol with the force under General the Honourable George Cathcart, from
the 6th to 15th July. The sappers kept with the guns. They carried with
them a proportion of tools to improve the roads, and assisted in some of
the operations for driving the enemy from the Kroome range and the

On the 25th July sergeant John Mealey and nine men of the corps at Fort
White were present with about 100 men of the 12th Lancers, 2nd Queens,
and Cape Corps in repulsing an attack on the cattle guard. The
Hottentots, about 200 in number, under Uithaalder were on the plain in
front of the fort in good skirmishing order. After crossing a drift they
stood for a time, and kept up a smart fire on the garrison. They then
retreated with the loss of six men to Slambie Kop, to the foot of which
they were pursued. The British casualties only counted two slightly
wounded. The sappers turned out with great promptitude, not waiting to
cover themselves with their jackets, and conducted themselves as good
soldiers. Captain Robertson, R.E., was also present, and two of the
sappers were near to him in the hottest of the fire. The rebels had a
bugler among them who was proficient in his duty. The bugle on which he
sounded had been captured by the Hottentots in the Konap Pass a month
before from bugler Brotherston, who was killed in the action.

Again Captain Moody, in command of twenty-eight rank and file of the
corps, was attached to the troops under his Excellency, which operated
from the 29th July to the 29th August across the Kei, by Aland’s Post
and Whittlesea. On the 6th August the party was increased by the arrival
of nine men at Brome Neck, with the patrol from King William’s Town
under Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell. This party brought up the
India-rubber pontoons, but the low state of the tides rendered their use
unnecessary. The detachment more immediately with Captain Moody was
employed on the journey in repairing the defective drifts, and
establishing a defensible kraal on the Kei at the standing camp. The
conduct of the sappers was well spoken of by the Captain, and his
Excellency expressed his satisfaction with all that had been done by

A detachment of twenty-seven non-commissioned officers and men landed at
the Cape from England on the 11th September, which increased the corps
in the colony from 268 to 285 of all ranks.

Eight rank and file left Fort Beaufort, under Captain Moody, on the 11th
September, and were attached to the division under his Excellency, to
make a demonstration in the Waterkloof. At Nelle’s Farm, under the
direction of Captain Jesse, R.E., they constructed an intrenched camp,
assisted by the rifle brigade, and formed a similar one in the valley of
the Waterkloof near Brown’s Farm. These services were rapidly and
creditably executed.

Four rank and file were present in the field services of the column
under Colonel Eyre, from 30th September to 30th October. Four also
served in the various operations with Major-General York’s division from
the 12th to 28th October.

To the expedition against Moshesh commanded by his Excellency
Lieutenant-General the Honourable George Cathcart, were attached, on the
7th November, serjeant Joseph Ireland and 13 privates of the corps under
Lieutenant Siborne of the engineers. In the column of route, the sappers
marched in front of the leading waggon, which carried the intrenching
tools; and on several occasions preceded the force, clearing away
impediments in the drifts to prevent delay in the progress of the
troops. Lieutenant Siborne, aided by Lieutenant Smith of the Kat river
levy, directed the sappers in these hurried interstitial labours.

Streams and rivers abounding in the country, the India-rubber floats
were necessarily resorted to, to push on the army. The first water of
any magnitude on the line of march, was the Orange River, which, having
sunk to an accessible depth, the troops breasted it; but to free them
from hazard in crossing, their arms, appointments, knapsacks, and
personal war equipment were ferried over on the raft by the party of

Traversing an open country for about 34 miles the army reached the
Caledon, which offered the first serious obstruction to the march. The
troops luckily had passed on foot, but by the time the waggons arrived
the river had risen fifteen feet. Now the current was fierce, surging,
and full of eddies; and the trunks of old trees, which, for years,
perhaps, had floated with the changing tide, up and down the stream,
materially interfered with the operations of the pontoon; but it
nevertheless was made to do its work, and the waggons with the supplies
were rapidly passed to the opposite bank.[114] Captain Tylden and
Lieutenants Stanton and Siborne—the last in charge of the raft—were
thanked for their “aid and exertions” in effecting the passage.

A journey of more than seventy miles brought the expedition to the
Lieuw—a narrow fordable water, with a dashing tide confined within steep
banks. Before however the waggons could cross, both shores had to be cut
away to a convenient level by the whole force of sappers assisted by a
fatigue party. Still, so difficult was the passage, that five hours were
spent in taking over about one-half the train; and then only by the
sturdy exertions of a double team of oxen whipped into extra activity by
rows of persevering men occupying positions in the river up to their
waists in water.[115]

Continuing the march, the Caledon River—which swept round from the level
in which it was first encountered—was a second time approached, but as
the stream was fordable, the operation of crossing was unattended by the
exercise of more than ordinary energy. The troops then moved on to the
Berea mountain and fought a battle with the well-equipped horsemen of
Moshesh, in which the British casualties were severe. Corporal Edward A.
Henderson was the only sapper present in the action, he being at the
time with the rocket section of artillery, attached to Dr. Fasson, the
Ordnance surgeon, in the capacity of medical orderly. The pontoneers
were left in camp at the Caledon with the raft.

Having made the chief aware of the political consequences of his defeat,
and obtained his subscription to a treaty, the victorious troops
retraced their steps to the colony. The Caledon was easily passed, and
after a march of about fifty miles, the Lieuw was gained. Recollecting
the difficulty of the previous operation, Colonel Eyre ordered that some
efforts should be employed to discover a really practicable drift. A few
of the waggons crossed at the old ford, but in the mean time sergeant
Ireland—a man who had received praise for his boat services and
usefulness in the demolition of the wreck of the ‘Royal
George’—discovered a diagonal drift so convenient, as to render the
passage one of maximum facility. The bottom was rocky the whole
distance, with a shallow flow trippling over the stones; while the
general stream escaped through fissures and cavities in the rock, and
merged into the river at the other side of the bar. The trickling,
however, at the drift, caused it to be very slippery, but to make the
footing sure, the defect was remedied by scattering along its surface a
quantity of sand, which brought the new ford into favour, and the old
one was abandoned.

Crossing the Caledon, a second time, without difficulty, the march was
sustained to the Orange River. Its passage, however, was a tedious and
protracted operation. The rains had increased the height of the stream,
and expanded it to 225 yards. The current was resistless and the weather
squally. A heavy flat-bottomed punt and the India-rubber cylinders were
the only means within reach to achieve the movement. Such an
organization, to throw over an army of some strength with guns and
troops of horses, attended by a cumbersome train of waggons of unusual
magnitude for number was ridiculously small. Five sappers with
Lieutenant Siborne manned the raft, and a like number of the troops
oared the punt, each working its course, from bank to bank, on a
separate hawser stretched across the stream. Thirty-five men, armed and
fully accoutred, were taken over at each trip and landed every ten
minutes. Indeed the passage across only occupied a third of the time,
owing to a skilful use of sheaves—instead of thimbles and eyes—running
on the warps, to which short lines were attached issuing from the raft.
The latter again was placed obliquely to the warp, by which one of the
angles or shoulders of the float was pressed forward to the hawser. All
this is probably too technical to be generally understood. The current
just suited the arrangement, and lashing against the cylinders—which
were broadside to it—drove the raft onward at a rapid rate. Not needing
to help in its propulsion, the men, looking to their equilibrium, simply
balanced themselves on the deck. Until sergeant Ireland hit upon this
expedient, the iron thimbles worked but idly on the rough hawsers, and
the raft was necessarily hauled across by the manual dexterity of the
pontoneers. Horses, mules, oxen, howitzers, guns, and all sorts of
military equipment were passed over on the pontoons; whilst the punt,
which could only bear one waggon at a time, and one or two struggling
horses, was in constant requisition to take over the baggage and
material of the army. Fortunately the evenings were moonlight, which
graced the operation with a charm that influenced the ardour and
exertions of the men. Under this sombre aspect, the rush of the stream,
the splash of the wave, the dip of the paddles, and the gliding of the
raft, gave the exploit a feature as romantic as martial. On two or three
occasions the hawsers stretched to their utmost tension, by the
increasing height of the river, snapt at their weakest points. To renew
them was a labour of some eight hours’ toil; and then, such was the
strength of the flow, they could not be safely used. The pontoons too,
being light and inflated, danced like corks on the troubled water, and
were nearly torn at times from under their superstructure. Still, the
men accustomed to such perils were only the more daring and energetic,
and the passage was prosecuted without accident. Under the altered
circumstances of wind and current, the punt would have lain idle for the
want of a tow-line by which to work its way from side to side, but
Lieutenant Siborne, enlarging his sphere of action, had the boat pulled
down on either bank to a good offing and made to do its share of hard
duty. It was however a wearying and exhausting process, for each trip
was not performed under three-quarters of an hour.

The conveyance of the “sick waggon” claimed especial care, but untoward
mishaps made its short career eventful. When about half way across, one
of its sweeps or long oars broke, and the boat with its living freight
was at the mercy of the impetuous torrent. Drifting with the current it
at length plunged among some willow trees below the landing-place, where
a rope, passed from tree to tree, being quickly fastened to the punt, a
party on shore hauled it to an opening in the bank. The hawser, however,
unable to bear the strain, gave way, and the boat whirled off furiously
towards a rapid in the middle of the stream. Recovered again, it was
pulled up to the trees with so much force, that the overhanging branches
became entangled with the waggon and nearly capsized it into the river.
In this dilemma, some four or five sappers, under the direction of
Lieutenant Stanton, nimbly vaulted into the willows, and with axes,
promptly cut down the impeding branches, whilst others of the
pontoneers, “swimming about in the boiling flood,” assisted to clear
them away. All the obstacles being thus removed, the punt was
successfully pulled to the sand-drift, and biding a prudent opportunity,
was safely passed to the other bank.[116]

No less than eight days were consumed in this exciting operation, and
the detachment, which had been left behind its division, to complete
some necessary details, were now in full route for head-quarters. By
forced marches, in forty-eight hours it overtook the column under
Colonel Eyre, which had taken five days to travel the same distance. The
subsequent rivers in the journey, being as shallow as rivulets, were
easily forded, and no necessity occurred for employing the resources
which the sappers had at command. The detachment arrived at King
William’s Town on the 29th January. Four other sappers despatched from
Bloom fontein and attached to the division under Colonel Napier, were
also engaged as pontoneers, and completed the concluding operations for
crossing the column. On arriving at Graham’s Town they joined a
detachment of the corps there.[117] On the following muster parade, a
letter was read, in which his Excellency commended the zeal and activity
of the sappers as displayed in the passage of the Orange river by the
divisions under Colonels Eyre and Napier, and justly attributed the
success of the manœuvre to the able manner in which it had been
conducted by Lieutenant Siborne.

Lieutenant-Colonel Cole, the commanding royal engineer, in his final
report, dated 1st March, 1853, to Brigade-Major Walpole, communicating
the termination of the war, thus wrote of the services and conduct of
the corps:—“I cannot conclude what is probably my last report to you,
without conveying the gratification I have experienced throughout by the
value which has been attached to the services of the non-commissioned
officers and men of the royal sappers and miners, not only in public
dispatches, but from the opinion expressed to me by the late commander
of the forces especially, and the officers under whose command they have
served, and who have in many instances shown their confidence

“I am enabled to add that from the reports I have received and my own
observation, the non-commissioned officers and men have in all instances
throughout this arduous struggle shown a zeal and determination to
further the service in which they were engaged, and have displayed their
usual gallantry and discipline whenever they have been in the presence
of the enemy.”


Footnote 101:

  Was formerly in the sappers, from which he was discharged a corporal
  in January, 1838, on a pension of 1_s._ 7_d._ a-day, after a service
  of twenty-three years. Most of his military career was spent on the
  survey of Ireland, in which he was found a zealous and correct
  surveyor. Soon after quitting the corps he emigrated to South
  Australia, and was hired by the Commissioners for the colony as a
  draughtsman in the land office. He was one of the first race of
  surveyors in the settlement, and his duties, carried on through an
  unexplored intricate wilderness, were extremely toilsome and trying.
  At one time the survey department was thrown into great difficulty by
  the resignation of the original survey staff, which was the more
  embarrassing as emigrants were pouring into the colony by thousands,
  and land was rapidly purchased. In this extremity corporal McLaren, to
  meet the great and pressing wants of the colonists, exerted himself
  with untiring energy. The Governor, Colonel Gawler, in writing of his
  services (‘Times,’ November 7, 1846), said, “Corporal McLaren was a
  fine fellow, who would have answered all my purposes if I could have
  cut him up into ten or twenty living portions, but who, unhappily for
  me, was not thus divisible.” He was afterwards attached to the
  department of the surveyor-general, and ultimately, by his commendable
  labours, his experience, and valuable co-operation, received the
  appointment of deputy surveyor-general, which he now fills. His income
  is about 700_l._ a-year. A report by him (‘Times,’ September 20,
  1852), on the overland route from Adelaide to Mount Alexander, is a
  fair specimen of his literary attainments and business-like habits.

Footnote 102:

  ‘Naval and Military Gazette,’ 21st August, 1852.

Footnote 103:

  Ibid., September 18, 1852.

Footnote 104:

  ‘Naval and Military Gazette,’ September 18, 1852.

Footnote 105:

  King’s ‘Campaigning in Kaffirland,’ 2nd edit., p. 237.

Footnote 106:

  After this disaster, arms or ammunition were forbidden to be conveyed
  from one post to another, except by the express orders of the
  Major-Generals or officers commanding divisions, who were held
  responsible that sufficient escorts were provided to defend the

Footnote 107:

  King’s ‘Campaigning in Kaffirland,’ 2nd edit., p. 237.

Footnote 108:

  Said to be young Webb, a driver (in ‘Naval and Military Gazette,’
  August 21, 1852); but Captain Moody has recorded, that the service was
  performed by private Murphy.

Footnote 109:

  The praise due to him was unjustly given both in the colonial and
  metropolitan press to sergeant Davis, of the 12th regiment: but it was
  claimed for sergeant King, in a very soldier-like manner, by corporal
  Wilmore of the party, who was present and wounded in the action.
  Without attempting to disparage the conduct of the sergeant of the
  12th, the corporal explained that at the period the charges took
  place, sergeant Davis was in the rear at the Old Post, with four
  volunteer sappers, awaiting orders to proceed to Fort Brown for a
  military reinforcement.—‘Graham’s Town Journal,’ October 23, 1852.

Footnote 110:

  King’s ‘Campaigning in Kaffirland,’ 2nd edit., p. 237.

Footnote 111:

  ‘Naval and Military Gazette,’ August 21, 1852.

Footnote 112:

  ‘Graham’s Town Journal,’ October 22, 1853.

Footnote 113:

  King’s ‘Campaigning in Kaffirland,’ 2nd edit., p. 236.

Footnote 114:

  King’s ‘Campaigning in Kaffirland,’ 2nd edit., p. 301.

Footnote 115:

  King’s ‘Campaigning in Kaffirland,’ 2nd edit., p. 309.

Footnote 116:

  King’s ‘Campaigning in Kaffirland,’ 2nd edit., p. 328.

Footnote 117:

  Much of the information afforded of the expedition is gleaned from an
  official report by Lieutenant Siborne, and the “Order Book” of the


Expedition to Central Africa—Private E. Swenny—Journey to
  Beni-Olid—Hospitality of the natives at Sokna—Black
  Mountains—Privations and exertions—Private John
  Maguire—Gatrone—Sufferings of the slaves in their march across the
  desert—Evidences of the number that perish—Trials of the expedition;
  halts at Kouka—Party with the department of Practical Art—Sanitary
  survey of Woolwich—Detachment for survey of Van Diemen’s
  Land—Additional commissions to the corps—Company at Alderney—Corporal
  James S. Taylor at New York—Company recalled from the Cape—Company to
  the Mauritius—Party to Melbourne—Inconvenience of its
  popularity—Epidemic at Bermuda—Detachment for the Mint at

Corporal James F. Church and private Edward Swenny, energetic and
intelligent men, were appointed on the 19th February to join the
expedition to Central Africa under Dr. Barth. The former was a
carpenter, and the latter a surveyor and draughtsman acquainted with the
management of philosophical instruments, and had, previously to his
enlistment, travelled in Belgium, France, Algiers, and Milan. From
political considerations they quitted in the character of civilians, but
were armed each with a Colt’s revolver, a rifle, a double-barrel
fowling-piece, a bowie knife, and an axe.

On the 20th February they embarked at Southampton, under Dr. Vogel, a
young German astronomer attached to the expedition, and after a short
stay on shore at Malta, proceeded to Tripoli, where they tarried for
some months, devoting their leisure to learning the Arabic dialect, and
familiarizing themselves with the mode of riding on camel-back. Corporal
Church also mastered the use of the sextant, mountain barometer, azimuth
compass, &c., so as to make ready observations with them.

From a dangerous illness private Swenny could not go on with the
expedition, and was sent to England with high testimonials for zeal and
ability from Dr. Vogel and Colonel Herman, the Tripoline consul. The ill
chance which deprived the enterprise of his valuable services was much
regretted by Lord Clarendon, who granted the invalid in addition to his
salary a gratuity of 15_l._ His place was supplied by private John
Maguire, a fine soldier and skilful mechanic, who was selected from
among thirty-six volunteers of the company of the corps at Malta.

The caravan under Dr. Vogel was a large one of thirty-seven camels,
carrying upwards of four tons of baggage and presents for the sultan of
Bornou and other chiefs. The organization of the force, with the packing
and distribution of the baggage, was chiefly confided to corporal
Church, who in consequence of the temporary indisposition of Dr. Vogel
set out in charge of the expedition on the 19th June, in company with
Mr. F. Warrington, a gentleman well known in Tripoli, to Beni-olid,
where he arrived on the 26th. There Dr. Vogel joined on the 2nd July,
and a day or two afterwards the caravan was again in motion.

At Sokna, midway between Tripoli and Moorzuk, a number of the natives
approached them with greeting, and conducted them to an ample residence
already prepared for their accommodation. A supply of provisions,
consisting of melons, green figs, dates, two sheep, two large dishes of
bazeen, and three dishes of some other compound, owning a name more
curious than intelligible, was placed at their disposal. In the evening
a similar presentation was made to them, and the like extravagant proofs
of generosity were continued to the travellers for four days more.
Presents were made in return to compensate for this hospitality; but the
natives would only accept a few specimens of English cutlery in the
shape of knives and razors. On quitting Sokna the governor and the
people accompanied the caravan a short distance on the road, and took
their leave of the adventurers with unequivocal demonstrations of
sympathy and good will.

Next day the expedition entered the pass of Gible Asswaa, or Black
Mountains, a region of dreariness and desolation. In every direction
masses of basalt seemed to have been upheaved by some convulsion of
nature, whilst in some places the rock had all the semblance of iron
suddenly cooled after leaving the furnace. Much of the road was of the
worst character for travelling, for it was not only hard and broken, but
ridged with knife-like edges, which gashed the camels’ feet and lamed
them. This sterile region extended for more than fifty miles without
even a shrub or an insect to invite observation. To add to their trials,
the travellers were four days and a-half without water save that carried
by the camels, which from being constantly acted upon by the sun was
always more than tepid and lost much of its relish. In these mountains
the heat was excessive. When exposed to the full blaze of the sun the
mercury in the thermometer rushed up speedily to 150°; and afterwards,
when corporal Church withdrew the instrument from the sand in which he
had buried it about six inches deep, the indication was 130°. After
passing the Black Mountains, the corporal counted in one day nine
skeletons of camels which had fallen in the waste from exhaustion.

The expedition now traversed a far-spreading plain, and being short of
water, pushed on night and day by long marches for the well called
Omhul-obid, or the Mother of Slaves. Before gaining it, they were
wearied with sixty-six hours’ exertion in the saddle out of eighty, and
the camel which Church had ridden from Tripoli, fell dead at Erfad from

In a few days afterwards—5th August, 1853—the expedition reached
Moorzuk, where private Maguire joined it on the 31st of the same month.
This soldier, cool and confident, journeyed from Tripoli with three or
four Arabs who were unable to speak a word of English. He was equally
unable to exchange with them a word of Arabic. Gesture and grimace,
therefore, were the means employed by him to communicate his orders and
to express his feelings of satisfaction or discontent; but
notwithstanding this impediment, he gallantly drove on, and in
thirty-four days accomplished the journey under a fierce sun, without
casualty and with credit.

On the 16th October the adventurers left Moorzuk, and had a toilsome
journey as far as Gatrone, where they arrived on the 24th of the same
month. Seven days Dr. Vogel and his sappers remained at this place to
await the arrival of the rest of the lagging camels and stores. In that
time they were joined by a caravan of merchants with about fourteen
Arabs from Egypt, going to Bornou to purchase slaves.

While at Gatrone a batch of more than 700 slaves, nearly all women and
children, passed through the place. The grown-up men in the drove did
not seem to exceed twenty in number. All were in a miserably withered
state, and many were panting and dying from fatigue and want. Already
they had been driven across a desert between 600 and 700 miles, and had
yet to go to Tripoli, nearly 700 miles more. Every step of the journey
was to be tramped, and most of them had burdens to bear on their heads,
of from fifteen to twenty pounds or more in weight, according to their
strength. The slave-masters were very cruel to the wretched creatures,
for, if they showed signs of lassitude or fell exhausted on the sand,
the whip was applied with unmeasured severity to their naked bodies; and
if the horrid scourging failed to move them on, they were abandoned to
their fate, perhaps three days from the next well, to perish from raging

The expedition reached Teghery on the 3rd November, and resting for a
few days, after collecting dates for the use of the camels, moved on the
7th into the Great Desert. In the first three days no less than 250
skeletons of slaves were passed, and fragments of bones were scattered
about in such vast numbers on the route, that one could traverse the
wilderness unguided, without much chance of missing the track. At the
wells of Meshroo, about two days’ journey from Teghery, the ground had
the appearance of an excavated cemetery, or the site of a well-contested
battle; and to be free from these sickening relics of mortality, the
doctor and his sappers pitched their tents for the night at a distance.

The travelling was carried on at the rate of twelve or thirteen hours
a-day, without halting, which was equal to a journey of from twenty-five
to thirty miles. This was reckoned to be very fair work, as camels
usually only go over two miles and a half of ground in an hour. The
average heat of the sun ranged from 125° to 130°, and beamed upon the
wayfarers with so oppressive an intensity that their substance and their
strength were wasted in excessive perspiration. In the evening they
halted, spread canvas, and lay down for the night. The two sappers
posted themselves in turn as sentries over the caravan, to protect it
from injury or surprise. During the night, owing to the state of the
atmosphere falling from its fiery day heat to a temperature sometimes as
low as 45°, the men suffered from a feeling of extreme cold.

In this way the expedition journeyed for sixteen days without seeing a
single native. For ten marches of the period they looked in vain for the
slightest trace of herbage, but at a Waddy called Ekaba, a not very
luxuriant oasis, they found a little coarse grass that afforded an
acceptable change to the camels after feeding for ten days upon dry
dates. On the 27th November the expedition was at Ashanumra, in the
country of the tribes of Tibboo.

In due time the expedition reached Kouka where it remained for a while,
as Dr. Barth had gone on to Timbuctoo. The return of the chief being
uncertain Dr. Vogel explored the country in the vicinity of the lake,
taking with him corporal Maguire. Corporal Church was left to carry on
the meteorological observations. Contrary to expectation, Dr. Barth, who
had been reported dead, returned to Kouka, and soon after, corporal
Church accompanied him home. Whatever services may since have been
conducted by Dr. Vogel—of which no account has been communicated to the
corps, it is proper, nevertheless, to record to the credit of the
corporal the very kind terms in which, under date the 4th December,
1855, the doctor wrote of him to the Consul-General at Tripoli:—

“I beg to recommend to your special notice my faithful companion John
Maguire, royal sappers and miners, who has, notwithstanding a serious
indisposition under which he suffered in the beginning of our journey,
used every exertion to promote the object of the expedition, and behaved
in the most praiseworthy manner.” For his services corporal Church
received a gift of 15_l._ from the foreign minister and a silver watch
from the Royal Geographical Society.

The small party under Captain Owen, R.E., at Marlborough House, was
increased in February to five rank and file. On the completion of the
referential arrangement of the correspondence and documents connected
with the Great Exhibition, they were attached in May to the department
of practical science and art, under the superintendence of Mr. Henry
Cole. Since the transfer they have been engaged in services of a very
miscellaneous character, embracing the distribution to national and
public schools of examples and models for teaching elementary knowledge,
form, and colour, mounting and tinting examples and prints, preparing
models, &c., and officiating as clerks and draughtsmen in the offices at
Marlborough House. Corporal Mack, in addition to his ordinary duties,
produced two or three plans of an interesting character. In arranging
some dietary tables Dr. Lyon Playfair engaged the assistance of the
corporal. The ingredients used as food, extending to twenty-three
substances, having been subjected by the professor to analysis, required
to be classified into a simple and consistent arrangement. This the
corporal effected by means of an ingenious diagram in colours. Dr.
Playfair was well pleased with the illustration, and when at a meeting
of the Royal Society, to which the corporal had the honour of being
invited, the professor announced his intention of publishing it for the
use of schools, the promise was received with applause. True to his
intention, Professor Playfair afterwards produced the plan in colours on
a very large scale, and gave it a distribution as wide as the United
Kingdom. On the 8th June, 1853, the diagram was exhibited at the
Mansion-house, and attracted much attention. A reduced plan of the
illustration was also made for the Dean of Hereford, which forms the
frontispiece to the sixth edition of his work on ‘Secular Education.’
Corporal Mack constructed another elementary diagram, commencing with
the diet of an agricultural labourer and _ascending_ to that of a
convict. Singular to add, by this scale it appears that good diet is
increased in the same ratio as crime; and the industrious husbandman
fares worse than the felon!

Corporal Gardner, with an assistant sapper, had charge of the decorative
furniture of cabinetry, silk tapestry, and drawings, exhibited at Gore
House. He received the various specimens, assisted to arrange them, and
was intrusted with the responsible duty of securing their safety. On his
removal to the royal mint, to receive instructions in the process of
coining, he was succeeded by second-corporal John Pendered, who retained
the charge of the cabinetry until the close of the exhibition in
September, 1853. He also had the care of Gore House estate and the
adjoining grounds, purchased by the Royal Commissioners. Second-corporal
Frederick Key, the foreman of carpenters at Marlborough and Gore Houses,
superintended the construction of the fitments for the exhibition of
cabinetry, and the necessary repairs to the interior of Gore House. The
working pay of the party, in addition to their regimental allowances,
was 2_s._ each a-day, but corporal Pendered was allowed 3_s._ a-day, in
consideration of the extra charge confided to him in the care of Gore
House estate.

On the 15th February was commenced the sanitary survey of Woolwich for
the Local Board of Health by corporal James Macdonald, having under him
a small variable party of sappers and civil assistants. The survey
comprised that part of Woolwich lying south of the river Thames, and was
finished in October, the work having been delayed for a few months by
the withdrawal of the party for the military survey of Chobham. Corporal
Macdonald was provided with outline tracings from the 5-feet initial
plan of the metropolitan survey, enlarged to ten feet to a mile. These
he carefully corrected, and filled in the details, embodying such other
minutiæ as were necessary to assist the local authorities in effecting
improvements in the drainage, &c. The whole work, so creditable to
corporal Macdonald, mapped on about twenty full sheets, was done at the
expense of the Woolwich Board of Health for 450_l._

Under the authority of a royal warrant dated 24th February, a detachment
of one sergeant, two corporals, and twelve privates was raised for the
survey of Van Diemen’s Land, which brought the establishment of the
corps to a force of 2,200 officers and men. In anticipation of this
sanction, the party had been organized and sent to Hobart Town in 1852.

On the 1st April two Quartermasters were added to the corps by the
Master-General—Lord Raglan. One was attached to the royal engineer
establishment at Chatham, and the other to the companies employed on the
ordnance survey. Major Walpole originated the former, Lieutenant-Colonel
Hall the latter, and Sir John Burgoyne, the inspector-general of
fortifications, ably supported the suggestions by his recommendation.
These commissions were bestowed to reward merit, and to place the corps
on an equal footing of advantage with the royal artillery, which
regiment, taking its published force at the time as a datum, gave one
commission from the ranks for every 700 men.

The eleventh company was removed from Alderney to Woolwich on the 2nd
June, owing to the diminished strength of the corps there and at
Chatham, rendering the withdrawal expedient. For twelve months it had
been stationed on the island, and during that period its services were
confined principally to the construction of the Longy lines and to
scarping the rock in front of them, with the view of making the place
less accessible to invasion. The masons always had full employment, but
the greater part of the company, failing work at their own trades, took
service in the quarries, and furnished the stones for the
fortifications. Private Simon Williams was noticed as the best and most
successful cutter and builder. On the removal of the company, a small
party was left for special duties as foremen and clerks.

An incident occurred in July which from its novelty is deserving of
record. Private William Calder committed forgery and theft, and deserted
from the corps. His movements being traced and his assumed name
discovered, second-corporal James S. Taylor, fully acquainted with his
delinquencies, was sent to the United States, provided with a warrant
from the Foreign Secretary, to demand, under the Convention, the
apprehension and extradition of the culprit. He had embarked at a
Scottish port on board the ‘Dirigo,’ and as she was sailing up to New
York, corporal Taylor, who had arrived in a steamer before her, boarded
the trader, captured the thief, and found in his possession all the
property he had stolen from his comrades and the Ordnance. The case was
taken before Judge Edmonds—notable for his eccentric decisions—and,
contrary to the clearest evidence, he discharged the offender, and
insinuated, from some extraordinary reasoning he employed, that the
corporal himself had committed the forgery. Protesting against the
inference, with soldier-like forbearance and respect, he induced the
judge to make a promise to cancel his unjust remarks, but his Honour,
regardless of his word, afterwards published them without modification.
The unmerited accusation, however, did not discourage the corporal from
following up his duty; and he made two other attempts to secure the
person of the deserter, by asking a remand until direct evidence could
be adduced from England, but the partisan judge, proof against proof,
ordered the unconditional dismissal of the thief, and thus afforded an
asylum to a fugitive, whose character is a reflection on the verdict
that shielded him from justice. The exemplary conduct of second-corporal
Taylor, eulogized by Sir John Burgoyne and Lord Raglan, gained for him
promotion to the rank of corporal. ‘The Albion,’ a New York Paper, of
3rd September, 1853, gave a spirited leader in vindication of the
“soldierly honour” of the corporal; and added, that he “gave his
testimony with an air and tone manly, direct, and irreproachable.” On
the other hand, the forensic turpitude of Judge Edmonds was strongly
condemned, for treating the prisoner as the victim of government
persecution instead of a renegade charged with heinous and multiplied
crime. The prompt measures taken in the case were intended not merely to
punish the offender but to deter others of the corps intrusted with
responsibility, money, and property, from the commission of similar
offences; and though it failed to secure the delinquent, it opened up
for future guidance a sure line of proceeding, which it is hoped there
may never be occasion to resort to.

Soon after the close of the Kaffir war the ninth company was withdrawn
from the Cape, and landed at Woolwich the 19th September. During its
service in the colony, its casualties in action were ten men killed and
eleven wounded.

On the representation of Lieutenant-Colonel Waters, commanding royal
engineer at the Mauritius, a company was detached from head-quarters in
May, which disembarked there on the 25th September. On landing, the fine
appearance of the men, their size and soldierlike bearing, attracted the
attention of the staff officers and officers of the garrison. In the
afternoon they were entertained with a substantial repast, furnished by
the spontaneous generosity of the company of royal artillery there. On
the following day they were inspected by Major-General Sutherland, who
complimented Colonel Waters by observing, “that they were the finest
company of soldiers he had for a long time seen.” A testimony like this
from the Major-General, who is known not to be satisfied with even
mediocrity, was certainly flattering.

A party of three men embarked under Captain A. P. G. Ross, R.E., for the
colony of Victoria, landed at Melbourne on the 14th October. Selected as
they were with reference to their qualifications as mechanics and
general intelligence, they had been appointed to oversee the skill and
labour employed in the construction of works for the defence of the
harbour, and the rapidly-increasing towns in its vicinity. The defence
of the bay by the contemplated fortifications was reported by the
Captain to be impracticable, and the party awaited for a time the
decision of the provisional government on the point. Meanwhile the
sappers were efficiently employed in carrying out some subordinate
details connected with the Melbourne Exhibition. It was also proposed by
the Harbour commission that works should at once be commenced for the
extension of the wharfage on the river Yarra, to give importance and
vitality to the shipping and commercial aspects of the colony. Tenders
were even called for to carry out the work, but, difficult to satisfy
the antagonistic views of a capricious legislature, the suggestion was
indefinitely postponed. Thereupon the Captain and his three sappers
returned to England, arriving at Woolwich in the summer of 1855.[118]

The yellow fever, so frequently the scourge of the Bermuda islands was
prevalent at St. George’s from August to November, and carried off its
victims in greater numbers than in the fatal epidemics of 1819 and 1843.
It commenced among the convicts in the ‘Thames’ hulk, and spread with
frightful rapidity, first to the military and civil establishments, and
then to the residences of the native population. The first soldier who
died was a sapper, and before the sickness had ceased, no less than
twenty-five men of the corps, out of a detachment of forty-seven of all
ranks, became its victims. Three women and one child of the party also
died. Colonel Phillpotts, the commanding royal engineer, and Lieutenant
Greatorex, R.E., were among the dead, as also the wife of Lieutenant
Whitmore, R.E. All the men of the detachment except three were attacked
with the fever, and many suffered relapses. To relieve them as much as
possible from the influence of infection, they were early removed from
their quarters to an encampment on the north side of the island, near
the naval tanks, and finally to Prospect Hill and Port’s Island. “Those
who were able,” reports Captain White, R.E., “showed themselves to great
advantage by the cheerful way in which they attended to the sick. Their
exertions were above all praise.” Several opinions have been ventured
relative to the exciting cause of the epidemic, but the general belief
was, that from some disturbance in the position of the hulk by the
pressure of strong winds and agitated tides, the atmosphere became
impregnated with mephitic gases emitted from the accumulation of
impurities around her bottom. Ireland Island, where a half company of
sappers was stationed, was not visited by the calamity.

A warrant dated 15th of August, sanctioned the formation of a detachment
of one sergeant, one corporal, three second-corporals and eleven
privates, for service in the mint at New South Wales, which increased
the corps to a total of 2,218 of all ranks. To fit them for the duty,
they were quartered for several months within the royal mint, near the
Tower, where the departments of the establishment were thrown open for
their instruction. From a desire to monopolize the craft of the mintage
to themselves and their families, the moneyers viewed the employment of
the sappers in this confidential work with jealousy and opposition, and
just imparted to their military pupils as much knowledge of the art as
they cared to divulge. The party, however, made up by attention and
observation for what was withheld from them, and promptly acquired full
information with respect to the working of the machinery, and the
various processes used in coining. Two or three of the smiths were also
initiated in the method of adjusting weights and scales, and in the
construction of balances and patent locks and safes. Instruction in
these mechanical expedients was given them by Mr. Hobbs, celebrated for
his exploits in picking locks before considered invulnerable. The first
instalment of the detachment, consisting of sergeant Archibald Gardner
and nine rank and file, embarked at the London Docks on board the ‘Maid
of Judah,’ on the 3rd of December, 1853, and landed at Sydney in March,

The grey greatcoat, which for nearly half a century had been worn by the
corps without improvement, was in November of this year superseded by a
blue cloth greatcoat of the same cut and fashion as its predecessor,
except that the cuffs for all ranks were abolished, the capes
diminished, and the sergeants’ collars were of scarlet, instead of blue


Footnote 118:

  The sappers were very popular with the good people of Melbourne.
  Wherever their red-coats were seen, all sorts of inconvenient
  invitations followed. He must have been more than Bacchus to have
  accepted a tithe of their overflowing attentions. Luckily the men were
  impregnably temperate. To escape from the extravagant compliments of
  the citizens, Captain Ross, on the representation of corporal Goodear,
  permitted his sappers to appear in plain clothes. They were thus lost
  among the people, and saved from the friendly annoyances to which
  their bright uniform had honourably exposed them.

                             CHOBHAM CAMP.

Nature of the ground—Position of the sappers—Their strength—Quarters and
  cantonments—Equipment—Duties and services—The survey—Marking out
  the encampment—Forming tanks—Wells—Lakes—Construction of
  stables—Camp-kitchen—Oven—Incidental employments; Royal
  pavilion; Queen’s road—Sentry-boxes—Post-office and postal
  statistics—Intrenchments—Submarine mining—Passage of Virginia
  Water—Her Majesty’s gracious acknowledgments of the conduct of the
  sappers in the operation—The second passage of the lake—Also of the
  Thames at Runnymead—Field-days—Inspections by the Queen—Breaking up
  the camp—Satisfaction of Colonel Vicars and Lord Seaton.

In common with the army, the royal sappers and miners furnished
detachments for the camp at Chobham about four miles from Chertsey. The
common where the encampment was formed was an extensive tract of waste,
varied with hill and dale. The amplitude of the district, its freedom
from enclosures, from wood or bush, or from barriers or hedges to mark
the boundaries of individual or corporate properties, and its succession
of swelling heights, well adapted it for the purposes of an
instructional encampment, and for the campaigning evolutions of a
concentrated force, assembled less for military parade and display than
to realize in degree some of the chequered difficulties and vicissitudes
which fill up the hard and comfortless career of an army engaged in the
active operations of war.

The camp was established on the concave edge of the ridge. Each end was
advanced, while the centre with a sweep receded, giving to the position
a curved line approaching the segment of a circle. The detachment of
sappers was tented south of the ‘Magnet,’ the name given to the hill
where the head-quarters were established, and next to the left of the
Coldstream guards, close to the road leading across the common to
Bagshot. The line regiments which succeeded, fell back from the
detachment. To be regimentally correct, the sappers should have been on
the right of the Grenadier guards, but the position was chosen for the
corps because it was central, prominent, and easily accessible to the
troops requiring the use of entrenching tools and field implements. The
division, consisting of a due proportion of cavalry, artillery and
infantry, was under the orders of Lieutenant-General Lord Seaton, G.C.B.
The sappers were among the first troops on the ground. As soon as it was
determined to form the camp, the party at Sandhurst—one sergeant and
twelve rank and file—was directed to suspend its services at the
college, and remove to the encamping district. It commenced work on the
21st of April and ceased on the 7th of May, when it returned to the
royal military college to carry out the concluding operations of the
term. Lieut. Drake, R.E., commanded this party.

To make a hurried survey of the ground one sergeant and eighteen rank
and file were detached from Southampton between the 27th of April and
the first of May, who, as the service permitted, returned in sections to
the ordnance survey. A small party detained at Windlesham for special
purposes, in connexion with the military survey, did not quit the
district till late in July. Lieutenant Stotherd, R.E., directed the

Colour-sergeant Henry Brown and twenty rank and file from Chatham,
reached the encamping ground on the 9th of May. On the 13th following,
this detachment was increased to a company (numbered the 2nd) of three
sergeants and eighty-seven rank and file from the royal engineer
establishment, under the command of Captain Lovell, R.E. Lieutenant and
Adjutant Somerset from Woolwich, joined the company on the 14th of June.
The whole were under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Vicars, R.E.

To diversify the operations, a pontoon train was ordered to be attached
to the division; and on the 20th of June, the sappers appointed for this
duty commenced to move in detachments. The force consisted of drafts
from the first, fifth, and eleventh companies detached from Chatham, and
reached a total of

                     1 quartermaster—George Allan,
                     1 sergeant-major—William Read,
                    12 sergeants,
                    16 corporals,
                     3 buglers, and
                   156 privates.
                   189 Total

under the command of Colonel Harry D. Jones, assisted by Captains H. St.
George Ord, G. Ross, and W. M. Inglis, and ten subalterns of the royal
engineers. The great bulk of the men arrived at Wellington camp on the
22nd of June, on which date the totals of the combined force of sappers
counted 297 of all ranks.

A day or two after the pontoon operations at Virginia Water were
concluded, the first company, with a detachment of the eleventh, quitted
Wellington camp, and returned to Chatham the same day.

The second company at Chobham camp was relieved on the 22nd of July by
the fifth company, with the greater part of the eleventh from the
Wellington camp, and repaired that day to Chatham. The company was
played from the ground by the band of the 79th Highlanders, who, from
good feeling, volunteered to confer the honour; and as it passed the
tents of the 79th three cheers from the assembled regiment testified its
esteem and friendship for the departing company.[119] The total force
then left for the field duties of the camp, exclusive of the surveyors,
numbered 100 men of all ranks.

As some further pontoon operations were ordered to be executed, and the
force at the camp was considered to be numerically inadequate for the
duty, sixty-five non-commissioned officers and men were sent to the
field from Chatham on the 25th of July, and after the completion of the
work, they returned on the 28th to their destination.

The party from Sandhurst and colour-sergeant Brown’s detachment were
billeted at Sunning-hill and Sunning-dale. On Captain Lovell arriving
with his company at Shrub’s-hill, finding no billets or tents he stayed
for three days in a barn at Bagshot Park House. On the 16th of May the
company was for the first time tented on the skirts of Colonel
Challoner’s wood, then on Sheep’s-hill, and lastly on the
Oystershell-hill near the “Magnet.” The division under Lord Seaton
reached the encampment on the 14th of June, when in allusion to the
appearance and exertions of the troops as they took up their ground, a
leading journal of the day observed, “that the sappers and miners,
probably the most intelligent and best-educated men in our army, make
the least external show.”[120] The pontoon train was encamped about one
and a half miles from Virginia Water, near the Wellington Bridge, from
which the camp took its name. The detachment of sixty-five men furnished
to assist in the formation of the bridge across the Thames at Runnymede,
was billeted during its short stay at Egham.

The camp equipment for the Chobham company embraced five marquees,
fourteen circular tents, one hospital tent for officers’ mess, one for
orderly room, one guard tent, and one store and ammunition tent, besides
fourteen Flanders’ kettles. For the pontoon train there were four
marquees, thirty-four circular tents, two hospital tents for workshops
and stores, one laboratory tent, and twenty-five camp kettles. Each man
was supplied with a wooden canteen, haversack and blanket, but no
bedding. Straw was afforded in abundance to sleep on. The men were
distributed in parties of nine and ten to each tent, which permitted the
senior non-commissioned officers to be provided with ample canvas
accommodation, and some spare tents to be used for various incidental
military purposes.

A detail of the duties and services performed by the sappers and miners
in connexion with the encampment follows. In some of them they were
assisted by small levies from the guards and the line. The senior
non-commissioned officers were colour-sergeants Henry Brown, Noah Deary,
and Timothy Sillifant, who throughout the service were indefatigable in
their exertions, and their skill and contrivances were on many occasions
found very useful.[121] In the early stage of the preparations, Viscount
Hardinge inspected the camp on Sheep’s-hill, and expressed in a few
pointed sentences his satisfaction of the appearance of the field, and
the steps taken to render the accommodation of the troops as comfortable
as the resources of the district would admit.

It was deemed indispensable that a map should be provided of the country
for several miles round the encampment, to guide the Generals in the
choice of positions, manœuvres, marches, &c. The district had been
surveyed sixty years before, in common with the general survey of the
south of England, and was drawn on a scale of two inches to a mile. The
better to meet the present requirement, the plans were enlarged and
drawn to a scale of four inches to a mile. All the improvements which
had arisen within the last half century were also supplied, and the
original work corrected where necessary. This was done by taking
magnetic bearings with a prismatic compass and pacing the ground. The
distance examined and corrected, included an area of about 220 square
miles, the cardinal angles of which were Chertsey, Wokingham, Farnham,
and Guildford. All was carried out and completed between the 1st May and
14th June. The principal part of the hills were sketched by Lieutenant
Stotherd, assisted by four non-commissioned officers of the corps, who,
although heretofore wholly employed in the operations of a civil survey,
were, without any previous practice in the art, made to turn their
talents to account in military sketching. The survey—comprised on four
large sheets—was compiled, lithographed, and coloured under the
direction of Captain W. D. Gosset, R.E. Corporal Sinnett drew the
12-inch plan of the encampment furnished for the use of Colonel Vicars.
A special survey of the ground at Aldershot Heath was also made and
plotted on a scale of six inches to a mile, by sergeant Spencer and
corporal Macdonald. The soldiers most conspicuous for their usefulness
in the Chobham survey were—

  Sergeant Benjamin Keen Spencer; for surveying, levelling, and hill

  Corporal William Jenkins; trigonometrical observations, levelling, and

  Second-corporal James Macdonald; traversing and surveying.

  Lance-corporals John Erskine Daveran and Valentine Sinnett; hill
    sketching, surveying, &c.

Marking out the encampment was done by the sappers under Colonel
Torrens, assistant quartermaster-general, by driving pickets into the
ground in the places selected to mark the salient points of the
boundaries, to be occupied by the several regiments.

The springs and watercourses were sought for and collected into small
reservoirs or basins, at sites as convenient for access as practicable.
In some places small trenches were excavated, to afford easy channels
for conveying the water to the terraces. These tanks were for domestic
uses. Attached to them were larger ones for washing purposes, which were
filled by the surplus water from the drinking reservoirs through the
agency of small troughs, fixed near the top of the partitional

From the dipping and trawling of so many utensils of different kinds
into the tanks, and the constant washing of the water against the sides
of the embankments, it became very dirty and disagreeable. To obviate
this, pumps were fixed in the tanks, large wooden troughs being added to
them to convey the water to the recipients, and sentries being posted
over the reservoirs to compel all parties to take the water from the
approved contrivances instead of resorting to the objectionable mode
which had been attended with so much discomfort.

Where springs could not be found in sufficient number, wells were sunk
to afford water for the troops. Some of these answered excellently, and
yielded a good supply. In several instances the men were interrupted in
the service by the presence of moving quicksand, which prevented them
digging to the depth they otherwise would have done. These wells,
nevertheless, were ultimately made available for use. To keep the ground
from being undermined by the sand, rough sap rollers were at first
constructed and sunk, but as these were found inadequate to meet the
difficulty, on account of the sand oozing through the interstices of the
brushwood, some barrels were securely fixed at the bottom, which at once
offered an effectual resistance to any encroachment, and secured a
serviceable quantity of good clean water. Into several of the wells two
or three bushels of pebbles and shells were thrown to purify the water
in its infiltration. Wells cased or lined with fir poles—an expedient
first resorted to—were found not to answer, as the water collected in
them tasted disagreeably of an impregnation of turpentine. Many failures
in seeking for water occurred. Three or four in elevated parts of the
field were sunk through a stratum of sand and clay to the depth of
thirty-five feet without success. Two artesian wells were also bored
late in July, one to a depth of sixty feet and the other to thirty-five
feet, without any beneficial result.

Tradition or experience was of little avail in selecting places to sink
the wells with anything like certainty of finding water. Nor were any
men present who possessed the occult and mysterious faculty of using the
divining rod to discover it. Several ingenious suggestions were made and
acted on with no better result. All depended upon chance; and to make up
for the deficiency from this source, greater attention was paid to
gathering the nests of springs, and opening up courses and channels for
their unfettered issue into reservoirs. Commonly, depths beyond thirty
feet were obtained without the use of the windlass, or the application
of materials to support the sides. Many of the sappers in these
experiments turned out expert well-diggers, and executed the heavy duty
with energy and coolness.

The formation of lakes was effected by damming up some small brooks and
rivulets, in the valleys which emptied themselves into Virginia Water.
The dams were raised on piles formed from the ends of fir poles, which,
to make a firm foundation, were driven into the ground about ten or
fifteen feet wider at the base than the road was at the top. The sides
were built with good sods, and filled in with the best soil that could
be gathered on the spot. Where the bog was unstable, it was replaced by
stiff clay, which was puddled. In this way two or three fine expansive
sheets of water were formed, which were extremely useful for the cavalry
horses; and a safe and ready passage was also afforded for the troops
across some valleys and morasses over the roadway of the dam. One sheet
was behind the cavalry stabling on Egham Common, and the others, named
“The Great Arm” and “The Little Arm,” were at the base of Black-hill and
of Sheep’s-hill.

The stables were constructed of a uniform width, but the length varied
according to circumstances. For a stable of six horses, the dimensions
were twenty-seven feet by thirteen feet six inches. The uprights or
stanchions were nine feet long, three feet of which were driven into
the ground and well rammed. A wall-plate was then fixed to the
stanchions at the height of six feet from the ground. The rafters were
made of rough poles, secured by a collar-beam four feet from the top,
and then nailed firmly down on the wall-plates, every alternate one
being strapped with hoop-iron. The centre was supported by a king-post
rammed three feet into the ground, and besides being nailed to the
collar-beam, was tied for steadiness and stability at the top with
rope-yarn. Poles were also fixed and secured on either side and at the
ends, which, with the doors, were thatched or wickered with fir
branches, compactly intertwined. The whole was roofed with canvas, and
stayed by guy-ropes. The canvas was made under contract, in pieces to
cover a stable for six horses, but after a few days’ rain the pieces
shrunk about sixteen inches, and caused throughout the period of the
camp much inconvenience to the horses. The stabling was made to
accommodate 1,800 horses at an expense of nearly 1,000_l._ An
experimental stable of the above form was run up in two hours and a
quarter by twelve men, under sergeant George Pringle, directed by
Lieutenant Drake, in the presence of the Commander-in-Chief—Viscount
Hardinge—who expressed his satisfaction both with the exertions of the
men and the suitability of the construction.

The camp-kitchen for the sappers was built six feet wide and ten feet
long, and was approached by a ramp. The flues were ten feet long and one
foot wide, with a space intervening through the entire length of twenty
inches, which was six inches deep in front and lessened to nothing as it
neared the neck of the chimney, for the purpose of facilitating the
action of the air and producing a rapid draught. Its sides were built up
with sods to the height of fourteen inches, and the top was covered over
with the blades of broken shovels. Intervals of nine inches were left to
receive the camp-kettles. A trench was dug round the kitchen from which
at one end rose, to the height of above six feet, a mud stack containing
two distinct chimneys shaped into ornamental pots. At the other end, the
two fires were lighted. The flues were kept independently of each other,
and, with the chimney-stack, were plastered both inside and out with
clay. This expedient gave to the kitchen a neat appearance, and
sufficient durability to stand the wear and tear of constant use.
Sometimes it was converted into an oven by removing the kettles, and
temporarily closing the open spaces with sods. The kitchen cooked for
100 men. Though somewhat troublesome to inexperienced men to construct,
compared with the old Peninsular _range_ adopted by some regiments in
camp, it was a decided improvement both in form and utility, inasmuch as
it economised fuel, received with readiness the few appliances used in
military cooking, and enabled the culinary art to be carried on with
more alacrity and on a larger scale.

An oven was also constructed after the model of the kitchen with one
flue and chimney only. It was built with bricks made on the spot, from
clay in the vicinity of the camp. Amid so much rusticity and so many
rude campaigning inventions, this oven, from its neatness and success,
was much admired. Sergeant Timothy Sillifant, an ingenious mechanic,
designed both the kitchen and the oven, and superintended their

Some incidental services executed by the sappers were of a character
which it may not be considered inappropriate to notice. So various were
their duties and so frequent the calls for their assistance, that the
encomiums passed upon them after a full test of their usefulness were
not extravagant when it was said “that in all their capacities, from the
driving of a nail to the marking out of a fortification, they seemed to
be equally as _au fait_ as if each service was their special and sole
vocation.”[122] They repaired and adapted the poor-house at Burrow Hill
for a general hospital; erected a flag-staff for displaying the royal
standard; enclosed a large area of ground with a canvas wall seven feet
high, within which were pitched marquees and different tented
conveniences for the use of the Queen and Her Majesty’s Consort and
guests; and watched and managed the tent-ropes of the royal pavilion,
&c., within the compound. Here likewise they erected a cookhouse of
brick, after the form of their own kitchen, and cut a road about two
miles long, from Colonel Challoner’s plantation to the “Magnet,” as a
carriage drive for Her Majesty. The road led across one of the
artificial sheets of water, and at either side of this causeway was
fixed a temporary railing, which gave it an appearance of strength and
completeness. Contrivances were also adopted for permitting the water to
run freely through the embankment so as to insure the stream rising to
the same level at both sides of the bridge. The road was, moreover, a
useful one, for in manœuvring the troops it was sometimes employed to
accelerate their movements, and the passage across it formed a grand
feature in the reviews. It was called the “Queen’s Road,” and the dam
across the sheet of water was dignified with the name of the “Queen’s
Bridge.” The sappers also attended to the pitching and adjusting of the
marquees of some of the staff officers; drained the camp ground; taught
soldiers of the line the readiest methods of effecting these duties, and
built several sentry-boxes. One was erected under the superintendence of
a French captain, of rough poles driven into the ground in a circle,
after the manner of the initial gabion. In front, one stake was omitted
for the entrance. The box was built to the usual height, was covered in
with a conical top, and the whole was thatched with, straw in courses,
which gave it in the distance, when the sun was shining upon it, the
semblance of a richly-flounced dress. Another box of this kind revolved
on a pivot at pleasure, to screen the sentry from wind or rain; and
after the camp was broken up, it was given a place in the grounds of
Colonel Challoner. A third was run up by private James Queen,[123]
which, from its mechanical pretensions, was applauded as a work of
taste, but could never be successfully imitated unless by talented
workmen accustomed to build with neatness and exactness. The structure
was of a mural character and defensible, having loopholes in its sides
and rear. An heroic bust, made of clay by the private, who had shown
some aptitude as a sculptor, was to have surmounted the box, but it was
unfortunately destroyed by some of his comrades, during an excited
criticism upon its merits.

“Much as we admired,” wrote a London daily journal, “the universal
utility of the corps, we thought we had seen the extent of their
capacities, but when looking a little more into the variety of their
employment we found them in a new sphere, and discovered that corporal
Richard J. Letton had been, under Mr. Smith, discharging the details
connected with the Post-office with the usual off-hand success which
seems to pertain to the corps.”[124] The receiving-office at the
“Magnet,” was a sub one to the post at Chertsey. The number of letters
sent to and from the camp, as detailed below, from the first day of
opening the office to the day of closing it on the removal of the
troops, shows that it transacted a fair amount of business.

                _First division_—from 13th June to 13th
                        Inwards            33,783
                       Outwards            29,614
                                              ———  63,397

               _Second division_—from 14th July to 20th
                        Inwards            42,105
                       Outwards            37,500
                                              ———  79,605
                         Total                    143,002

Of these the number of registered letters were 257, and the
postage-stamps sold realized the sum of 123_l._ 17_s._ 3_d._ The number
of letters to the camp showed but little variation through the course of
the month, but those despatched _from_ it were much affected by the
field days, and on one occasion they fell from 1,526 to 601. The
management of the postal arrangements was highly satisfactory, and
reflected great credit upon Mr. Smith and the corporal.[125] The latter,
in a testimonial from his chief, was eulogized for having performed his
duty with the greatest zeal, integrity, and attention.

To give an additional warlike feature to the evolutions of the division,
some temporary field-works were thrown up. These consisted of three
redoubts, two irregular, with faces of very unequal length, on
Oystershell and Catton hills, and one regular, on Sheep’s-hill. The one
on Oystershell-hill was revetted on one of its faces with brushwood and
fir-branches woven upon pickets, while its remaining sides were cased
with sods. The other redoubts were revetted wholly with sods.
Sheep’s-hill redoubt was a square work, with two platforms for one
field-piece each, and its sides in the interior were each sixty feet
long. Four shafts of six feet deep were sunk under its right face, and
the charges, in boxes containing each 100 lbs. of gunpowder, were laid
and tamped ready for explosion on the 6th August. The Queen was present
on that day and witnessed the manœuvres, which were closed by blowing
up the redoubt. At the appointed time, the wires were applied to the
voltaic battery, but from some mismanagement, supposed from the
communication becoming disconnected, the mines did not go off. Two
sappers immediately repaired to the spot where the charges were
chambered, and after removing the earth which covered them, and affixing
in the ordinary way the powder-hose to form the train, Captain Inglis
fired it with portfire, and a successful explosion was the result. The
whole face was blown up. The field-works were completed early in August,
and were only on three or four occasions used in the general operations.
Contingents of men from the guards and the line threw them up. Some of
the sappers acted as overseers, and others took part in the trenches.
The shafts for the mines were dug and the powder placed in them in the

A series of seven or eight sub-aqueous mines, fired by voltaic
electricity, were made in Virginia Water, to show the effect of such
expedients if the service rendered recourse to them desirable. The
largest charge fired contained 35 lbs. of powder. The charges were fixed
in tin cans of sizes to suit the bulk of the powder, and fired from the
shore. Sergeant Entwistle and one private had the preparation of the
charges, &c., and Captain Inglis, R.E., invariably fired them. One on
the 12th July was exploded in the presence of the Prince of Wales, and
was successful, a column of water being thrown into the air to a
considerable height.

As soon as the pontoon train and equipment arrived, the corps commenced
and continued for several days to carry out such instructional practice
as was considered essential to render the contemplated bridging perfect.
The train consisted of—

                      30 cylindrical pontoons,
                       4 india-rubber ditto,
                       1 demi india-rubber ditto,
                       6 carriages,

and the requisite stores, forge, &c., and all were packed on the margin
of Virginia Water on the 25th June, 1853.

In accordance with appointed arrangements, a military display took place
on the 5th July, in the presence of Prince Albert and Her Majesty. Early
in the morning about 8,000 troops were marched to the Water, on the
north side of which an enemy was supposed to have established himself,
represented by the second company of sappers and detachments of the
Grenadier guards and 23rd fusiliers. While a sharp and prolonged attack
was being made upon the brigade of Sir De Lacy Evans at Blacknest
Bridge, a body of sappers 125 strong, directed by a captain and five
subalterns of royal engineers, began to form the pontoon bridge, and to
carry out other subsidiary means for effecting the passage of the lake.
The six carriages of the train, packed with twelve pontoons and their
superstructure, were horsed by the royal artillery, and moved down to
the water’s edge, where they were unloaded. The remaining pontoons,
eighteen in number, had already been stored on the margin of the lake in
readiness for the service. The moment the order was given, the sappers
in fatigue-dress launched the pontoons, and with the greatest silence,
precision, and diligence, formed in forty-five minutes a bridge of
thirty cylinders with two bays across an arm of the lake 324 feet broad.
The pontoons were lashed in intermediate intervals of eight feet apart,
which is considered to be the proper adjustment of buoyancy for the
transport of the varied weights of artillery. While the bridge was
booming out, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness Prince Albert, with
their illustrious guests, embarked in a royally-decorated barge, drew
near the bridge and watched with evident interest the movements and
exertions of the men.

During the operation a party of twenty-one non-commissioned officers and
men, under three subalterns of the royal engineers, formed two rafts and
one demi-raft of the India-rubber pontoons, and rapidly ferried across
the lake four companies of the rifle brigade, who took shelter in the
woods close to the edge of the water. This service was executed in
exactly the same time that was occupied in forming the bridge.

About noon, the cannonade on the left at Blacknest Bridge ceased, and
the supposed enemy, having discovered Lord Seaton’s real intention,
advanced to dispute his passage over the pontoons. Not a moment was now
lost on either side. One wing of the rifles was thrown across, and
forming line on the opposite bank, opened a spirited fire on their
opponents. The batteries also boomed from the south side of the water,
and under cover of the cannonade—for the whole woodland for some minutes
was shrouded in the smoke it occasioned—a battalion of the Grenadier
guards defiled over the bridge. Scarcely had they concealed themselves
in the embowering woods when the sappers, who had left the pontoons for
an interstitial duty, suddenly returned with bundles of fern and brake,
which they strewed over the superstructure to render the passage as
secure as practicable for the batteries and the cavalry. Now followed
two 6-pounder batteries and a 9-pounder battery of 6 guns each, the 6th
Dragoon guards, and a battalion of the Coldstream guards and of the 42nd
Highlanders, with all the staff.

The remainder of Major-General Fane’s brigade of cavalry proceeded by
the iron gate to the high ground on the north side of the lake, whilst
the brigade of Sir De Lacy Evans, now unopposed by the enemy, marched by
Blacknest Bridge to Smith’s lawn, where the troops were reviewed by Her
Majesty. The second company only of the corps was present at the review;
the other companies being necessarily detained with the pontoons.

To provide as much as possible for the safety of the horses in crossing,
the sappers, with an oar extended from man to man, lined the bridge at
each side, by which a kind of railing or balustrade was formed from one
end of the bridge to the other. The plan had unquestionable advantages
in encouraging the horses and retaining them in their places, but it was
somewhat dangerous to the men. As the second battery approached the
middle of the stream, the floating motion of the bridge caused some of
the horses to become restive, and in the efforts made to control their
progress, five of the sappers were thrown into the lake. No casualty,
however, happened, and the men, after a little swimming, resumed their
stations on the bridge.

In testimony of the services of the corps on this occasion, Lord Seaton
published the following order from Her Majesty:—

                                      “Horse Guards, 5th July, 1853.

  “GENERAL VISCOUNT HARDINGE has received the Queen’s commands to
  express Her Majesty’s satisfaction in having witnessed this day the
  laying down of the cylindrical pontoon bridge, which was completed in
  less than one hour, for the passage of the artillery, cavalry, and

  “Her Majesty did not fail to remark the order, the silence, and the
  perfect acquaintance with every detail, which prevailed throughout all
  ranks of the sappers and miners.

  “Her Majesty highly appreciates the service of this portion of her

  “From the date of its original formation this corps has been
  remarkable in the annals of the British army for the scientific
  attainments of its officers and the practical knowledge of its men,
  and has justly acquired the confidence and esteem of the army by its
  skilful arrangements, and by being at all times foremost in the
  perilous duties of war. In peace upholding its high reputation by the
  useful labours which it so cheerfully performs.

  “Viscount Hardinge requests Lord Seaton will convey to Colonel Jones,
  of the Royal Engineers, who directed the pontoon train, and to Colonel
  Vicars, in charge of the engineer duties in the camp, and to the
  officers and men of all ranks of the Royal Sappers and Miners, the
  Queen’s approbation of their state of discipline and conduct.

            “By command of General Viscount Hardinge.

                                    “(Signed)     G. BROWN, _A. G._”

The 11th July was another day of field manœuvring appointed expressly
to experimentalize with the pontoons. Before the arrival of the troops
at the lake, a bridge was quickly formed with twenty-four pontoons, on
the same site as that occupied on the 5th instant, and by the same
detachment. At eleven o’clock a part of the division under Major-General
His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge passed over it in the order of
movement detailed below:—

                4 companies of the 93rd Highlanders,
               13th Light Dragoons,
                6 companies of the 93rd,
               38th regiment,
               17th Lancers,
                1st Life Guards,
                1 troop of Royal Horse Artillery—six guns,
                2 nine-pounder guns; and
                4 small ammunition waggons.

The time occupied in the passage of the troops was fifty minutes, and on
its completion, the bridge was speedily broken up into rafts. These,
with the assistance of the India-rubber rafts, manned by the same
detachment as on the 5th July, were afterwards employed in ferrying back
the 38th and 93rd regiments at a spot 150 yards wide, below where the
bridge had been constructed. This duty was also completed in fifty
minutes. In all the operations, there appears to have been a remarkable
coincidence of duration, which, had the facts not been carefully
ascertained and recorded, would seem to be the errors of carelessness or

In crossing the bridge, many of the horses of the Life Guards became
unmanageable. Not a few of them got into a gallop and started off,
sometimes as many as three abreast. Several of the artillery horses also
were restive. Among so much violence and disorder, the sappers, who
lined the bridge as before, had to bear their full share of accident and
danger, and before the passage was effected, as many as twenty-five
sergeants and rank and file were thrust overboard. All fortunately could
swim, and soon made good their places on their respective rafts.

This day’s bridging closed the operations on Virginia Water. With the
exception of seven rafts and the six carriages, the remainder of the
pontoons and stores were packed up and removed to their original
stations at Woolwich and Chatham. The seven rafts, &c., were soon
afterwards conveyed to Staines, in readiness for ulterior service over
the Thames.

On the 27th July another pontoon bridge was thrown, this time across the
Thames, at Runnymede, celebrated alike for its historic claims and
attractions, and for the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The point
chosen was an angle of the river about a mile from the town of Egham,
opposite Ankerwycke House. The operation bore some resemblance to that
which took place on Virginia Lake on the 5th July. The sappers commenced
their march at eight o’clock in the morning, and, proceeding with the
pontoons along the Windsor and Staines roads, halted on the banks of the
river at Runnymede at a quarter to eleven. At once the men set to work,
and under the more natural circumstances of steep banks and a strong
tidal current, unfelt at Virginia Water, threw in thirty-five minutes a
bridge consisting of six rafts of twelve cylindrical pontoons in open
order, twelve feet apart, and two half bays. To allow the operation to
be conducted without interruption, a mimic battle was fiercely carried
on some distance higher up the river, and to afford protection to the
bridge as it approached the Ankerwycke shore, parties of the 79th
Highlanders were rapidly rowed across in punts, which at the time were
lying unemployed and captured for the occasion. Soon the combat was
removed to the pontoons, and a heavy fusillade was for a long time kept
up. Under cover of the guns of the horse artillery, fired from a
commanding position, the troops poured over the bridge in a continuous
stream, and followed the retreating enemy, with all the impetuosity of
enthusiastic pursuit into Magna Charta Island. There the fight was hotly
maintained, and ultimately won by the little band of mixed troops under
the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Vicars.

The troops that crossed the bridge were a battalion of the Guards, 4th
Light Dragoons, the other battalion of Guards, 79th Highlanders, the
Horse Guards Blue, and some batteries of horse and foot artillery.

An accident took place just as the last battery was crossing the bridge.
The vertical motion of the rafts was such as to startle the horses, and
some, from the dull reverberating noise produced by their tramp, coupled
with the booming roll of the heavy wheels on the superstructure, became
ungovernable, and six horses tumbled into the stream dragging with them
a gun with its carriage and limber. As usual, the sappers lined the
bridge with extended oars, and in the struggling of the horses, four of
the men were swept into the current. Three of them were injured—two
severely. These were privates John Piper and William Swann,[126] who
were also nearly drowned. The latter was entangled with the horses in
the water, and it was with great difficulty he succeeded in getting on
the back of one of them, when he was picked up by the crew of a boat
quickly manned for the purpose. Four of the horses were cleverly rescued
by colour-sergeant William Jamieson and private Henry Collins, who
dexterously cut the traces; but the two wheel-horses, borne down by the
carriage, could not be saved. Privates Daniel Port, Henry Collins,[127]
and Elias Garratt conducted themselves with intrepidity on the occasion
by plunging from the bridge into the river to rescue the men and save
the horses.

After the operation the sappers bivouacked on the ground, and dined on
the day’s ration taken with them from the camp. The bridge was
afterwards dismantled, packed on the waggons, and then accompanied the
troops to Staines. The company belonging to the Chobham force did not
reach its tents till eight o’clock in the evening.

On field days the sappers, together with a company of the Guards, on
several occasions under Captain the Prince Edward of Saxe Weimar, and a
company of the 23rd fusiliers, represented the enemy under the command
of Colonel Vicars, R.E. All acted as skirmishers; and when pressed by
charges of the troops, formed squares, or resorted to such other simple
manœuvres as were best adapted to their position and circumstances.
On these days the expenditure of ammunition by the company was enormous;
100 rounds per man at least were consumed. On the first day of the
pontooning at Virginia Water, the sappers, who were posted to prevent
the passage of the troops by Blacknest Bridge, fired in an hour and
a-quarter about 120 rounds a man. The firing of the main body of the
division was always comparatively trifling. From the hard nature of the
duties that devolved upon the enemy, the men composing it gained in camp
the familiar designation of “The Kaffirs.” The last field day at Chobham
was one of labour and fatigue to the men. They fired more than an
average quantity of ammunition, and at its close the sappers marched at
the head of the line in review, before the Duke of Cambridge and Lord
Seaton. Their blackened faces, dingy accoutrements, and well-worn
apparel afforded a striking contrast to the clean appearance, unsoiled
appointments, and bright uniform of the passing squadrons and
battalions; and it was no inappropriate commendation to say on this,
their last camp inspection, that in their endurance, their hardihood,
their wearied but dauntless aspect, they looked like “Polish
patriots—few, but undismayed.”

On the 21st June and 5th July the Queen inspected the second company in
common with the rest of the troops at the camp. The Prince Albert and
Lord Hardinge accompanied Her Majesty. The King and Queen of Hanover
were present on the first day. The fifth company and a detachment of the
eleventh were also reviewed by the Queen and the Prince Consort on the
4th and 6th August. On the latter date Her Majesty did not personally
inspect the troops. On all occasions of the royal presence at the camp,
the sappers were in full notice of Her Majesty, for they possessed the
advantage of occupying a position close to the Bagshot road, and next to
one of the special entrances, which led the Queen and the royal cortege
immediately past their tents to the “Magnet.”

After the breaking up of the camp, the sappers remained for four days to
dismantle the stables and collect the stores. All the canvas was
stripped off the stables, and packed in two days and a half, throughout
which time the men were exposed to a ceaseless rain, which fell in
torrents. The pontoons and carriages were conveyed to Chertsey, and
embarked for Chatham. After completing these duties, the fifth company
and the detachment of the eleventh, under Captain W. M. Inglis and
Lieutenant W. C. Anderson, R.E., arrived respectively at Chatham and
Woolwich on the 24th August. On that day Lord Seaton finally gave up his
command. A party of one sergeant and eight privates—_the last troops at
the camp_—detained for the closing duties of clearing the ground, and
collecting and packing the Ordnance and Commissariat stores, joined at
head-quarters on the 27th August. Novel and memorable was the
reappearance of these companies with the corps, for both officers and
men had doffed their plumes, and substituted for them bunches of
blooming heather, gathered from the ridges and valleys of the now famous
Chobham. On their route to Chertsey they were met by Colonel Vicars, who
complimented them for their excellent conduct and exertions during the
period of their encampment, and expressed to them the satisfaction of
Lord Seaton for their alacrity and readiness at all times to meet the
wants of the service. This testimony was afterwards corroborated in a
letter dated Hyam’s, 25th August, 1853, to Lieutenant-General Sir John
Burgoyne, in which his lordship, after alluding to the active assistance
of the officers of royal engineers, and the detachment of the corps of
sappers under the command of Colonel Vicars, added “that their conduct
and exertions on all occasions have been most satisfactory.”


Footnote 119:

  ‘Morning Chronicle,’ June 27, 1853.

Footnote 120:

  ‘The Times,’ June 15, 1853.

Footnote 121:

  Sergeant Brown has served twice in Gibraltar and also a campaign in
  Syria. He was present at the capture of Tyre, Sidon, and Beirout, and
  the defensive occupation of D’Junie and Jaffa. Has since gained credit
  for his services at the capture and destruction of Bomarsund and the
  siege of Sebastopol. Removed in a dangerous state of illness from the
  trenches, he was sent to the hospital at Smyrna, from which, being
  invalided, he arrived at Woolwich in July, 1855, and is now
  quartermaster-sergeant at Chatham.

  Sergeant Sillifant distinguished himself at Gibraltar as a first-class
  artificer and foreman of works. Has since served at Bermuda, and
  returned to England on the recall of his company.

Footnote 122:

  ‘Morning Herald,’ July 19, 1853.

Footnote 123:

  Killed in the trenches before Sebastopol by a rifle-bullet, April 18,

Footnote 124:

  ‘Morning Herald,’ July 19, 1853.

Footnote 125:

  ‘Morning Herald,’ July 19, 1853. It is not a little strange that among
  the unclaimed letters was one addressed to “His Eminence Cardinal
  Antonelli, Secretary to His Holiness the Pope.” The correct epithets
  of distinction in the superscription, made it evident that the missive
  was written by a well-informed person. As however the Cardinal had not
  pitched his tent among our troops, the letter which was directed “to
  be left till called for,” formed one of the spoils of the camp.

Footnote 126:

  Served in Turkey, Bulgaria, Wallachia, and the Crimea. Was promoted
  for his gallantry at the battle of Giurgevo, and died of wounds
  received in the trenches before Sebastopol, in May, 1855.

Footnote 127:

  An accident occurred to this soldier at Virginia Lake, which but for
  his presence of mind was likely to have terminated fatally. The
  waggons were parked on the slopes of the water, and it being desired
  to pack the stores on them, private Collins with three other privates
  rushed to the spot, and put a waggon in motion. Collins laid hold of
  the shafts,—the others pushed in the rear. By some mistake the men in
  rear quitted their hold, and the waggon thus left to itself rolled
  with great velocity down the slope, forcing Collins on with it. His
  situation was now very critical; but seeing at once the danger and the
  way to escape, he plunged from between the shafts, in an oblique
  direction into the lake, and saved himself by swimming, while the
  waggon with its own impetus dashed onwards, until its speed was spent
  by the resistance of the water. Had he not thus extricated himself, he
  would have been tumbled over by the waggon, and most likely drowned
  under its body. Served afterwards in Turkey, Circassia, Bulgaria, and
  the Crimea. Was present at the bombardment of Odessa, capture of
  Redoubt Kaleh, and at the siege of Sebastopol, and bore the character
  of being a good sapper and a first-rate man in bridge-making and boat
  services. By his comrades he was respected for his wit and spirit. His
  constitution giving way in the trenches, he died at Kululee on the 2nd
  April, 1855.


Staff appointments—Party to Melbourne—Mint detachment to Sydney—Survey
  of Aldershot heath—Department of Practical Science and Art—Staff ranks
  to the survey companies—Dress—Party detached to Heligoland—Also to
  Paris for the Exhibition—Corporal Mack’s services in testing woods—A
  foreigner’s surprise at the varied employments of the sappers—Sergeant
  Jenkins’ interview with the Emperor—Fire at the Manutention du
  Commerce—Radical change in the dress—Arms and accoutrements—Costume of
  the quartermasters—Supernumerary sergeants—Additional staff
  appointments—Exhibition at the Mauritius—Arrival of company from
  Bermuda, and removal to Aldershot—Chatham becomes the
  head-quarters—Rejection of the services of Van Diemen’s Land
  detachment by the Legislative Council, which are accepted by the
  Governor of New South Wales—Organization and pay of driver
  troop—Additions to the corps and various incidental alterations—Detail
  of establishment of corps—The band—Its costume—Dress of the
  bandmaster—Party recalled from Purfleet—Detachment to Hythe for rifle
  practice, &c.; the system pursued there becomes a leading feature in
  the instruction at Chatham.

Major Walpole, on his promotion to be lieutenant-colonel, was removed
from the appointment of brigade-major to the corps, and succeeded by
Captain Frederick A. Yorke, R.E., on the 17th February.
Lieutenant-Colonel Walpole had been commissioned to the office from the
Cape of Good Hope, where he had served for many years in command of the
tenth company, and been twice dangerously wounded in action with the
Kaffirs at Fort Peddie. During the six years he had held the appointment
he carried out in all respects its requirements with a diligence,
consideration, and success, that were of great advantage to the corps,
and enhanced in public estimation its services and merits.

In Major Yorke, now Lieutenant-Colonel, the corps has the good fortune
to have for its chief executive an officer who, for the greater part of
his military career, has been much employed with it both at home and
abroad. Under Major-General Matson, when brigade-major, he was the
acting-adjutant at head-quarters, and thus early became acquainted with
the organization, character, services, and resources of the royal
sappers and miners.

On the 3rd March one sergeant and five rank and file sailed from
Southampton for Melbourne to reinforce the civil staff employed in the
survey of the waste districts of the Crown, and landed on the 24th July.
This addition was made to the colonial establishment, as applications
for land by the emigrants were increasing and urgent, and could not be
met by any resources to be engaged in the colony.

In April a party, hutted on the bleak heath of Aldershot, commenced a
series of surveys, having reference to the use of the moor as a military
camp for periodical evolution and exercise. The detachment mustered at
one time as many as twenty-four non-commissioned officers and men, and
dwindled down to an initial party of a few choice hands to finish the
operation. Captain Cameron, R.E., had the direction of the service; and
corporal James Macdonald, now sergeant, a non-commissioned officer of
tried ability and indefatigable activity, was its local superintendent.
In ten months the detachment, after being instructed by the corporal,
completed a survey of a selected district of about 800 acres for the
Commander-in-Chief; another of some 1,500 acres for the professional use
of Major-General Sir Frederic Smith; and a general one for the Ordnance,
including the ground specially surveyed, extending over an area of
13,000 acres. Each survey provided its contours to suit particular
requirements; and the whole range of duties for providing data for the
plans, usually performed by different parties, with qualifications
adapted to each particular service, were wholly carried out by corporal
Macdonald[128] and his party. The work has since been engraved on the
6-inch scale.

Six rank and file to complete the mint detachment at Sydney, embarked in
two parties on the 8th April and 19th June, taking with them the
portable houses, shops, machinery, and stores necessary for the
formation of the establishment. The men had all been instructed prior to
leaving the royal mint in London in the art of coining, and were taught
by Messrs. Walker, of Millwall, the method of fitting together the iron
roofing, cisterns, girders, &c., to form the mint buildings. One man had
also been instructed by Messrs. Whitworth and Co. at Manchester, in the
manipulation and action of the several lathes to be used in the coining
processes. They respectively reached Sydney on the 10th July and 24th

Three men were withdrawn from the department of science and art in the
summer for service in the East, viz., two for employment as
photographers, and one—corporal Dickson—as conductor of the pontoon
equipment and stores. One of the photographers—corporal Pendered—had,
while in that department the care of the students’ drawings sent from
the various local schools of art, in competition for prizes offered by
the commissioners. Corporal Dickson, who until his removal had acted as
a clerk at Marlborough House, received from the Board of Trade a
gratuity of 5_l._ in recognition of his usefulness. The non-commissioned
officers who remained under Captain Owen, R.E., were corporals Frederic
Key and James Mack; the former, stated to be full of invention and
intelligence, continued throughout the year to act as overseer of the
civil carpenters employed at Gore and Marlborough Houses; and the
latter, remarkable for his good information and acquirements, was found
a most useful clerk and draughtsman. It should also be noted that one or
other of these non-commissioned officers travelled during the autumn to
several provincial towns in England and Scotland, such as Nottingham,
Coventry, Sheffield, Warrington, York, &c., and exhibited to local
institutions in connection with the central school of design at Somerset
House, a collection of students’ drawings for which prizes had been
awarded at the spring examination at Gore House. The exhibition was so
arranged as to be packed and conveyed from town to town with readiness
and facility, and wherever they itinerated with their charge, were
treated with attention and courtesy.

As a reward for undoubted merit two staff ranks—sergeant-major and
quartermaster-sergeant—were given to the survey companies on the 28th
July by Sir Hew Ross, Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance. Similar
appointments had been held by the companies for many years with only
modified advantages, but now they were constituted permanent ranks and
carried with them all the benefits prescribed by the rules of the

This year the moustache, under certain restrictions, was permitted to be
worn; and the Kilmarnock bonnet, discarded in 1837, was revived. Its
dimensions, however, were of a more reasonable measurement than in olden
times, and suitable for campaigning. A yellow band was added, also a
plain yellow ornament on the crown, and the scanty peak worn for nearly
forty years, was replaced by one familiarly termed the war peak,
sufficiently large to offer an efficient shade to the face from the sun.

Leaving the great events which occurred about this period, to be treated
without interruption in subsequent chapters, the more ordinary incidents
of the corps will first be disposed of.

Unable to obtain British troops to furnish contingents of sufficient
magnitude for the East, parliament voted the formation of regiments of
foreigners to meet the pressure. Depôts for their enrolment were fixed
at different places, but the principal station was at Heligoland, a
small rocky island in the North Sea. As however the embodiment could not
take place without the means of sheltering the force, the island itself
having only accommodation for the native population, Lieutenant A. R.
Lempriere of the engineers, with three sapper carpenters, were sent
there in March, in the steamer ‘Hamburg.’ Towards the end of the month
the party landed, and with the assistance of some broad-backed women—the
men being too indolent to work—the huts brought out were carried up the
stairs—a stupendous flight exceeding 200 steps formed in the face of the
steep cliff—to the position where the cantonment was to be established.
Hopeless to complete them within the time required, twelve other
sappers, mostly carpenters, under sergeant Goodear, sailed from Woolwich
on the 28th July. In a few days they were deep in the work. Rows of huts
covered with Croggan’s asphalted felt, built in streets, were always
ready by the time the troops arrived to occupy them. It took one hundred
and four of these portable houses to accommodate the legion. Tanks were
also built to supply water in case of fire, and an apparatus was erected
for distilling sea-water so that it might be used for domestic purposes
by the troops. When all these services were completed, the sappers no
longer needed in Heligoland were shipped for England, landing at
Folkestone on the 29th December. Lieutenant Lempriere remained, as did
also sergeant Goodear, to oversee the native workmen in the formation of
roads and in executing repairs to the huts. At the conclusion of the war
they returned home. The efficiency and usefulness of the party were
warmly acknowledged by Colonel Steinbach, commanding the legion.

At the instance of the Royal Society, a sergeant and three rank and file
were sent to Paris in April to exhibit, at the Palais de l’Industrie,
several specimen maps and some of the chief instruments used in the
trigonometrical surveys of the United Kingdom. The two non-commissioned
officers employed under the Board of Trade at the department of
Practical Science and Art also accompanied Captain Fowke and Mr. Henry
Cole, to assist in the British section of the Exhibition. The sappers

 ● Sergeant—William Jenkins.
 ● Corporals—Frederick Key and James Mack.
 ● Second-corporal—Nicholas Clabby.
 ● Privates—Ludovico Hart and James Kelly.

Besides arranging spaces for the exhibitors, opening the cases as they
arrived, and arranging the articles for exhibition, the sappers turned
their hands to a hundred different duties, making themselves generally
useful and sustaining the character which the corps had received for its
services at the Great Exhibition of 1851. The British department was
surveyed by them and corporals Mack[129] and Clabby drew the plans. Key
was the overseer of skilled labour and likewise superintended the
hanging of the paintings at the Palace des Beaux Arts. The remainder had
the care of the professional instruments. Of these Hart was instructed
at Paris in the process of photography by Mr. Thurston Thompson, and the
proficiency he attained there in the art, has introduced him to a
similar duty at Southampton, in which the progress he has made promises
to be a great saving to the public by reducing plans photographically,
and thus superseding the hand-labour of draughtsmen.[130]

The Emperor in one of his visits to the Palace examined the maps and
instruments, and sergeant Jenkins had the singular distinction of
explaining their nature to His Imperial Majesty.[131] This was the first
party of English soldiers that had been in Paris since the army of
occupation quitted the suburbs of the French metropolis in 1815.
Appearing invariably in the uniform of the corps they were regarded with
peculiar interest, and from all quarters were received with a
friendliness more than ordinarily debonair and cordial. For their
assistance in extinguishing a fire at the Manutention du Commerce, the
press of Paris handsomely acknowledged their services.[132] Individuals
left for England at different times, and on the return of the last two
in January, 1856, the Board of Trade honoured the whole party with
presents. Sergeant Jenkins received a silver watch with the most
approved compensation arrangements for use in connexion with
astronomical observation; Key a gold one; Mack an expensive photographic
apparatus; and the other three each a case of beautifully finished
mathematical instruments. The gifts bore an inscription to the effect
that they were given “for services at the Paris Exhibition, 1855.” The
French Commissioners also gave them bronze medals.

An agitation which for more than a quarter of a century had exposed the
inappropriateness of the old costume, at last succeeded in effecting its
abandonment. Involved in the change the royal sappers and miners adopted
an uniform under royal sanction, which has the credit of being the
neatest in the service.

Late in the summer the coatee with its double breast, short body, garish
trimmings, and narrow skirts gave place to a scarlet single-breasted
tunic with facings and edgings of dark blue plush. Falling back with a
curve, the collar is bound all round with yellow cord while the pointed
cuffs are embellished with an Austrian knot of yellow cord which,
stretching over the plush rises with a flowing involution more than
seven inches up the sleeve. Plain skirts measuring about twelve inches
long, lined with white shalloon, are broken in their plainness by two
upright pocket slashes with plush edgings having three points and as
many buttons. Double cords take the place of the huge epaulettes of
former days, and the buttons unaltered in shape and device, are sewn two
inches asunder down the breast as low as the waist, and two smaller ones
add to the ornamentation of the cuff. All ranks wear the same
description of tunic. That for the drivers is shorter in the skirts for

Corresponding with their grades the sergeants and staff-sergeants have
finer cloth and wear royal gold cord on those parts where the rank and
file display yellow worsted cord only. Rank is shown by chevrons of gold
lace worn above the elbow, but the badges to denote the staff-sergeants
occur just above the sleeve knot with the points upward. Lance-corporals
have one stripe on the right arm; other ranks have the marks on both
arms. Second corporals one on each arm; corporals two; sergeants three
and an embroidered crown; colour-sergeants an equal number of chevrons
surmounted by an open banner and based by a couple of crossed swords;
and the staff-sergeants four badges of broader lace and an embroidered
crown. The last, in addition, have facings of garter blue silk velvet,
shoulder knots of treble twisted gold cord with blue eyes bearing silver
embroidered grenades; sleeve knots traced in and out with Russia gold
braid and the skirts lined with white kerseymere. The bugle-major’s
rank, in addition to the chevrons and crown, is indicated by a musical
device with banners, which must have puzzled the professors of
embroidery to make it sufficiently characteristic, elaborated with cross
trumpets, rams’ horns, tambourines, and other insignia, around a lyre
and grenade.

The artificers of the driver troop—farriers, shoeing smiths, wheelers,
and collar-makers—are distinguished by the usual devices, worn above the

The buglers wear worsted embroidered cross trumpets on both arms, and
the good conduct men are distinguished by badges of narrow gold lace on
the right arm just above the knot.

No better colour for trowsers than dark Oxford mixture cloth could be
introduced. They have therefore been retained, as also the red stripes
down the outer seams. The working trowsers are of the same colour, and
similarly striped, but a few shades coarser in texture. The driver troop
wear strapped trowsers of the regimental quality, of which each man
receives two pairs annually.

In the midst of a variety of conflicting ideas as to what constitutes
the best head-dress, the uncomfortable chaco still holds its unsightly
place as a component of sapper uniform. Top-heavy for the drivers in
riding, the chaco forms no part of their uniform, and so the forage-cap
is made to do double duty.

The fatigue jacket is of red cloth. Loose and suitable for working it
descends as low as the hips, but is militarized by blue cloth pointed
cuffs, single twisted shoulder-cords of yellow worsted, and a blue cloth
rounded collar. As before, the buttons are small and convex, bearing the
garter device, and worn about an inch apart, evincing less coxcombry
than in the defunct days of close buttons. All the non-commissioned
officers wear gold chevrons and gold single twisted shoulder-cords.

Scarlet jackets, after the fashion of the fatigue ones, are worn by all
ranks on drill parades and in walking. In addition to their chevrons the
sergeants and colour-sergeants wear embroidered crowns, the latter rank
being distinguished from the former by a fourth chevron. Besides the
plain single-breasted blue surtout, modernized with a rounded collar,
the staff-sergeants appear, on parade occasions, in scarlet jackets with
the badge of their rank, gold studs down the front, and dark blue silk
velvet cuffs and collar, both trimmed with Russia gold braid, and
finished with what the tailors, in the poetry of their trade, term
crowsfeet. There are no buttons on the jacket, except two on each cuff
and two to sustain the double shoulder-cord. The fronts are closed by
hooks and eyes.

The cloth forage-cap—a delicate institution of peaceable times—was set
aside by the adoption of a small Kilmarnock bonnet and chin-strap, well
suited for the rough usages of war. Worn with a dragoonish air in the
day, it offers itself as a substitute for a pillow at night without the
fear of spoiling its shape. It is of dark blue wool banded with a yellow
stripe manufactured in the web and decorated with a brass boss in the
centre of the crown. The buglers wear the distinction of a pair of
crossed trumpets on the front of the cap, while the sergeants and
staff-sergeants have small dark-blue cloth caps with large projecting
peaks, trimmed with scarlet piping and gold lace bands. The crown of the
cap, à la cavalry, is formed of eight pieces—a curious fancy—radiating
from the centre and covered at the point of union with a gold netted
convex boss. The band of the staff-sergeants is wider and richer than
that of the sergeants.

That important article of dress, “the ammunition boot,” has been much
improved in these late days. Before railways were invented the laced-up
boot was a favourite among soldiers, particularly those who could boast
of having performed long marches in the Peninsula and France; but when
travelling by rail began to be the fashion of the service, it was
discovered that the laced-up boot was not only odious in regimentals and
uncomfortable, but not water-tight. So by degrees the Blucher boot was
introduced in the army, and the sappers, the last troops, perhaps, to
adopt it, received Bluchers this year for the first time. The troop of
drivers wear half Wellingtons.

The carbine introduced in 1843 being discarded, the Lancaster
percussion-musket was given to the corps late in the year. Bored
elliptically without groove, and carrying an elongated bullet, its range
exceeds 1,000 yards: that of the carbine, even in extravagant instances
of flight, scarcely ever struck a mark at 300 yards and was uncertain at
200. After a few rounds had been fired it was inefficient, and impromptu
expedients had to be resorted to, when the bore fouled with the powder,
to ram the cartridge home. Many a man broke the ranks to find a brickbat
or other rude assistance to hammer the ramrod into the barrel. These
primitive severities are now at an end. The bayonet can be used in the
double capacity of a sword or bayonet. With a hilt partly of black skin
cross-pressed, and partly brass, with a transverse brass bar guard, it
is fixed to the musket by a suture and spring. The blade, about two feet
long, has a rounded back and runs on with a spine to the point, from
whence a return stretches with a slight swell up its back, and then
loses itself in the spine about ten inches from the tip. Thus the sword
for a certain distance is two-edged, and when fixed, the length of the
musket, prepared for a charge, is shorter by one inch than the abandoned
carbine and sword bayonet.

The accoutrements remain as formerly; but the appointments of the
staff-sergeants, now of white patent buff, consist of a waist-belt with
slings and gilt waist-plate bearing the royal arms, and a pouch-belt,
both plain and two inches broad. To the latter is attached a black
leather pouch carried by gilt rings and mountings, having on the flap
the device of the royal arms and supporters with the corps motto. Swords
hilted like those of the quartermasters, but of a peculiar metal,
sheathed in steel scabbards and tasselled with gold acorns, complete the
improvements of this period.

The drivers have no rifles or muskets, but are armed with light Prussian
swords having half basket-hilts and buff leather tassels. The gripe is
partly of black japanned wood, ridged; all else, with the scabbard, are
steel. The narrow buff waist-belt, with slings which suspend the sword,
have a plain brass waist-plate. In addition, the non-commissioned
officers have a buff pouch-belt carrying a small plain black leather
pouch. The former bears a brass slide at the breast as a substitute for
a buckle. All ranks wear swan-necked spurs with spiked rowels.

Of the dress of the quartermasters nothing has yet been recorded in
these pages. Their costume is similar to that of the subalterns of
engineers, with the exception of the appointments. The tunic harmonizes
with that of the staff-sergeants, except that the sleeves bear no device
beyond the Austrian knot, and the gold cord is larger.

The jacket is also similar to the staff-sergeants, deviating only by the
addition of gold Russian braid down the fronts and round the girth,
finished at the centre of the waist and collar seam with crowsfeet.

A waistcoat is also worn of scarlet cloth, single-breasted, with gilt
studs crowded down the front. Hooks and eyes serve the place of buttons.
Collar, pockets, and edges are trimmed with gold braid and graced with
crowsfeet at the centre of the collar, and at each end and centre of the

A surtout is permitted as a lounging appendage to the costume, but it
would require the professional assistance of a Buckmaster to describe
without fault the man-millinery of this military frock. It is of
dark-blue cloth, single-breasted, opening five inches down the breast to
show the waistcoat, up to which from the waist the fronts are closed by
hooks and eyes. Eight loops of braid nearly two inches broad, with two
rows of netted barrels or olives on each side—two on each loop—descend
from the shoulders in lessening lines to the waist. The ends of the
loops inwards have flys three inches long which fall down like tags,
covering the inner row of barrels. The front edges, rolling collar, and
pointed cuffs, hind arm and back seams are trimmed with braid
seven-eighths of an inch broad traced in and out and finished on the
cuffs and centre of collar with crowsfeet. From the back seams flow two
streamers eight inches long on each skirt of the same width of braid as
that which covers the seams; and the tracing on both edges terminates in
two crowsfeet. All the trimming and traceries are of mohair braid.

The trowsers are the same as the uniform of the corps, but with gold
lace stripes one inch and three-quarters wide for dress occasions. The
cloak is of blue cloth, riding length, with sleeves. Lined with scarlet
shalloon, and amassed with a cape, make it waterproof in a storm. An
upright collar of scarlet cloth with gilt fuming grenades, chains,
hooks, and buttons, make up the sum of its ornaments.

Every non-commissioned officer, as he ascends the weary ladder of
preferment, keeps his eye steadily on the cocked-hat. It would therefore
be unpardonable to omit the description of a badge which has given rise
to more ambition in the ordnance corps than can possibly be satisfied.
It is the _only_ commission open to them, and the struggle to gain it is
far more difficult than for born gentlemen to attain the rank of
General. If life be spared this comes as a matter of course, but only
one in thousands can hope to be invested with the latter. The cocked-hat
then is a small one compared with the Kelvenhuller, and though as
confined in its dimensions as the Ramilies, is very unlike it. It seems
to be a sort of compromise between the two. The right leaf stands six
inches and three-quarters high, while the fan, its fellow leaf, tops it
by nearly an inch. The former bears a cockade of black watered ribbon
and a gold-laced loop two inches broad, which is stayed by a regimental
button. The corners or shoots are nearly five inches long and two and a
half broad, bearing tassels of small gold and crimson bullion affixed to
gold netted pads which lie snugly in the recesses formed by the
overlapping of the fan. The ribbon worn on the sides of the left leaf is
of plain black silk. Surmounting all is the plume, five inches and a
half long, made of cock-tail feathers, which fall over the crown of the
hat in the shape of a mushroom.

The forage-cap is assimilated to that worn by the staff-sergeants; the
gold-laced band being broader and richer.

Coming to the appointments, they consist of waist and pouch belts of
white patent leather, respectively one inch and a half and two inches
wide, the former having narrow slings, gilt buckles, rings, and
waist-plate with the corps’ device in silver, and the latter a gilt
engraved buckle and mountings to correspond with the hilt of the sword.
These ornaments are worn on a fly of the belt just above the pouch,
which is small, of black patent leather, bearing the regimental badge of
the royal arms and supporters with the corps’ motto, and attached to the
belt by rings issuing from gilt leaves. The sword is thirty-two inches
and a half long by one inch and a half wide. Its gripe, of black
fish-skin, is ribbed with treble gold wire, sustained by a plain gilt
back, the lower half grated to assist the grasp. The hilt is of the
half-basket kind, formed of rolled gilt metal, scrolled, pierced, and
engine-turned, embellished with a gold acorn attached to a length of
royal gold cord, which after ramifying the perforations, evolves in a
tassel. To complete the details, let it be added, that the scabbard
which sheathes the blade—proof against any amount of hard work and
figured with military insignia—is of burnished steel.

Some important augmentations had been made to the corps, which will be
found among the services out of which they in great part arose. Other
desirable additions followed, which, belonging more to the incidents of
home, will follow in this chapter. A number of sergeants usually
employed as clerks, drill-masters, and instructors in the schools,
always kept the companies to which they belonged more or less
impoverished; so to end a system that could not be avoided, but which
operated injuriously, Lord Panmure gave authority, on the 9th October,
for the removal of fourteen specially employed sergeants from the
companies, bearing them on the rolls of the corps as supernumeraries.
Two of the number were appointed staff-sergeants.

Widening daily into unwieldy dimensions, with a meagre controlling
staff, gave rise to other essential appointments in the corps. On the
17th December, an Adjutant (Captain F. E. Cox, R.E.) and a Quartermaster
(Michael Bradford, from the rank of sergeant-major) were
commissioned.[133] The appointment of Brigade-Major, long felt to be an
inadequate staff rank, was changed to that of Assistant
Adjutant-General. Heretofore the chief executive of the royal sappers
and miners held no higher regimental rank than that of Captain, with the
staff commission of Brigade-Major. Under the same authority a
sergeant-major and a quartermaster-sergeant were added to the corps.

There was an Exhibition at Fort George, Mauritius, in December, 1855, of
a collection of productions indigenous to the island, and subjects of a
constructive nature, to represent the industrial habits of the community
in that distant region. Indebted for the idea to its great prototype in
London, the Exhibition originated with the 22nd company of the corps
stationed there, and most of the articles—such as models of inventions
and objects of mechanical interest in the island—were contributed by
non-commissioned officers and privates of the company, of whom sergeant
Frederick Hibling was the chief exhibitor. The exposition was open for a
week. Each day had its appointed charge varying from 3_d._ to 2_s._, and
the surplus receipts were applied to charitable purposes.

From Bermuda the 21st company arrived on the 22nd December, leaving a
small detachment of invalids to carry on the works. Its removal was
accompanied by a representation which told of the loss the colony would
sustain by the step; but the urgency of affairs in the East admitted of
no consideration interfering with the resolve of sending the company to
the Crimea, constituted as it was of climatized men and competent
artificers. At the time of their landing, however, there were strong
indications of diplomatic negociations putting an end to existing
differences; but to prepare the company for the worst, it was forwarded
to Aldershot on the 8th January, 1856, under the command of Lieutenant
J. H. Wilson, to be trained in camp to the discipline and usages of war.

Another of the changes which resulted from the incorporation of the
ordnance service with the army was the removal of the head-quarters from
Woolwich to Chatham. Successive Directors of the establishment at
Chatham had shown the benefits probably to accrue to the corps by the
measure, but forty years’ representation were insufficient to dispose of
the counter-advantages which were considered to be the effect of
instruction carried out at two stations—one for forming the soldier, the
other for working up the soldier into a sapper. At a time when the
country was expecting changes, and those changes promised a return to
the State more beneficial than an adherence to old systems was likely to
yield, nothing was permitted to stand in the way of making the trial.
Accordingly the fiat was issued by Lord Panmure; and Chatham from the
10th January became the head-quarters of the corps. On that day,
Lieutenant-Colonel Yorke, Assistant Adjutant-General, marched into
Brompton Barracks at the head of the sappers, leaving for the works at
Woolwich a strong company quartered in temporary huts erected in Mill
Hill road.

A detachment had been sent to Van Diemen’s Land in 1852 at the request
of the Colonial Legislature to carry on the surveys of the settlement,
but it had barely entered on its duties when a feeling of hostility was
shown to its employment. Whenever a chance offered of presenting it in
an unfavourable aspect, the Legislative Council greedily accepted it,
and gave the imperial party the full weight of its opposition. In
August, 1855, the Governor-General sent a message to the Council
recommending Captain Hawkins who commanded the surveyors, for the
appointment of Surveyor-General, but between a select committee
nominated to inquire into its necessity and the Legislative Council, the
office was never conferred. Matters went on coldly enough; the Council
had grown stubborn in its sentiments; and to show that the colony had a
will of its own, notwithstanding a royal warrant had been issued to form
the detachment in accordance with the warm wishes of those who had
authority to represent the wants of the province, the colonial secretary
coolly intimated to Captain Hawkins, on the 16th October following, that
himself and detachment were at the disposal of the Governor of New South
Wales! The men composing the party were volunteers, had made sacrifices
to emigrate, had purchased land in the vicinity of their labours, and
were collecting about them members of their families, who, by ones and
twos, had struggled to leave their English homes and were on their way
to distant Tasmania. In revoking the service, the conduct of the rulers
was as heartless and supercilious as absolute; and in beguiling men, by
fair promises, to volunteer to serve them; then discountenancing their
efficient exertions, and finally, without consulting their wishes,
arranging for their transfer to any colony which might be in need of
such a detachment, was a feature in colonial management strongly
savouring of exceptional faith. The end of all was, that a few of the
party, sooner than break up their new homes, took their discharges, and
the remainder leaving Hobart Town on the 9th February, arrived in five
days after at Sydney, to renew in that colony, under the auspices of Sir
William Denison, those services so little appreciated by the censors of
Van Diemen’s Land. Captain Hawkins, still in command of the detachment,
fixed his head-quarters at Paramatta.

Under the authority of Lord Hardinge, the Commander-in-Chief, dated 2nd
April, several increases and alterations took place in the corps. The
23rd company being composed of drivers was thrown out of the numeral
roll of the companies and designated the A troop of the royal engineer
field equipment. Its constitution and pay was fixed as under:—

                                                 _s._ _d._
           1 troop sergeant-major                  3   9 a-day.
           1 troop quartermaster-sergeant          3   9   ”
           4 sergeants                      each   2  10   ”
           6 corporals                       ”     2   4   ”
           6 second-corporals                ”     2   2   ”
           1 farrier                               3   4   ”
           4 shoeing smiths                 each   2   0   ”
           2 collar-makers                   ”     2   0   ”
           2 wheelers                        ”     2   0   ”
         100 drivers                         ”     1   9   ”
           2 buglers                         ”     1   9   ”

To fill up the gap occasioned by its withdrawal, another company,
numbered the 23rd, was formed in April. The Corfu company which held a
distinct organization, had its establishment risen from 82 to 120, so
that it might take its place among the general service companies. A Band
was also formed, consisting of one sergeant, one corporal, one second
corporal, and thirty private musicians. The detachments raised by
special royal warrants for service in Van Diemen’s Land and Sydney were
absorbed in the 20th company. The result of all was that the corps
gained a clear augmentation of 169 non-commissioned officers and men,
and its organization was established according to the following detail:—

                                 Ser-   Ser-    Cor-    2nd         Pri-           General
                                geant. geants. porals. Corp. Bugl. vates. Total.    Total.
  22 general service companies,   1       5       6      6     2    100      120 =    2640
   1 survey company               1       5       6      6     2    100      120 =     120
   3 survey companies, each       1       7       8      8     2     99      125 =     375
     The band                             1       1      1           33                 33
               Sergt.  Q.-mast.-                 2nd   Artif-
               Major.   Sergt.  Sergts. Corpls. Corpls. icers. Bugl. Drivers. Total.
 Driver troop    1        1       4       6       6      9     2    100      129 =     129

     Staff—Supernumerary sergeants with the rank of colour-sergeant                     12
     4 sergeant-majors; 4 quartermaster-sergeants; 1 bugle-major, and 2                 11
     1 assistant adjutant-general; 2 adjutants to corps, 1 adjutant of field             8
       equipment, and 4 quartermasters
                                                                General Total         3328

This establishment was far greater than had been allowed even during the
oppressive years of the Peninsular war, and the number of companies,
long in its teens, had swept on by successive augmentations to 27—one
being a driver troop.

Without any increase of pay from state sources, the band is supported by
an annual subscription from the officers of engineers managed by a
committee, of which the assistant adjutant-general is president. Though
never recognised, a brass band had been in existence for many years, but
when the new order of things was sanctioned, a reed band was established
as more in keeping with the refinements of a distinguished corps. The
accomplished features of an operatic orchestra were also introduced
combined with the sacred musical accessories of the church; and the bald
services of a garrison chapel which, until the arrival of the
head-quarters at Chatham, was conducted without singing, has recently
been varied and made additionally grateful by the use of chants,
glorias, psalms, &c.[134]

The costume of the band, approved by Prince Albert, is perhaps the
handsomest in the service though the contrasts are extreme. A black
bear-skin head-dress, scarlet cloth trousers, and white cloth tunic
constitute the uniform. The first is free of embellishment and without
feather or plume, but has a gilt curb chain for the chin. The trousers
have a stripe of gold lace five-eighths of an inch broad down the outer
seams, a distinction never before, it is believed, conferred on any band
in the service. After the Hungarian fashion, but less picturesque, the
tunic is tastefully trimmed with gold lace, gold traceries, and gold
square untwisted cords for the shoulders. All the lacing is half an inch
wide and the tracing is worked with Russian braid. Cut on the model of
the corps’ tunic, except that the skirts have no slashes and the fronts
are curved, its facings and edgings, of silk plush, are of a bright
blue, and agreeably harmonize with the white cloth, giving it an
appearance of ultra delicacy. Let but a storm soak it, and its elegance
departs. The collar is laced all round and traced on the inner edges,
enlivened by eyes in the angles, and a crowsfoot at the centre. The
cuffs are similarly laced, and traced on both edges with a series of
eyes and finished with crowsfeet. Down the front edges and back seams to
the bottoms of the skirts both in front and rear, the lace again occurs
traced in and out and figured at the terminations with a play of
artistic fancy developed into highly florid crowsfeet. Simpler
configurations crown the lacing of the back seams, which is relieved at
the waist by ornithological devices resembling, with greater truth, a
sprig of shamrock than the object to which the tailors have so strangely
likened them. Down each breast are five bars compressed in length as
they reach the waist, traced on both edges, having eyes at the corners
and terminating at the points, with the ever-present crowsfeet. Except
the two shoulder buttons, the tunic possesses no adornment of this kind,
the fronts being closed by hooks and eyes.

The waist-belt is of white patent leather; the plate the same as that
worn by the staff sergeants, the sword has for its hilt an ornamental
Maltese cross bearing the device of a buglehorn, and sheathed in a black
leather scabbard with brasses ornamentally shaped. It is shorter than
the one worn by the buglers. The forage cap is similar to the sergeants;
but the jacket and trousers are like the drill dress of the privates
with an addition to the jacket of twisted gold shoulder cords, blue
cloth edgings, and blue cloth piping down the hind arms and back seams
terminating with blue cloth cushions as substitutes for buttons.

A very pleasing uniform has been adopted for the bandmaster, of scarlet
cloth without breast bars. In all other essential particulars it is
laced, traced, and figured like the tunics of the musicians. The facings
and edgings are of garter blue silk velvet. The collar is traced with a
series of eyes on the inner edges of the lace; and the shoulder-cords
trebly twisted are ornamented with embroidered grenades. The trousers,
for bandmaster and bugle-major, are of dark Oxford mixture with a stripe
of rich gold lace, one inch and three quarters wide, down each outer
seam. In undress is worn a dark-blue cloth surtout, single-breasted,
hooked up to the neck, with upright rounded collar, and five loops two
inches wide of mohair braid down the front, which are further ornamented
by the addition of a row of netted barrels, and flys. All the rest of
the trimming is similar to that on the surtout of the quartermasters.
The forage cap and trousers are also similar, but the accoutrements of
the bandmaster with one exception correspond with those of the staff

Instead of a sword he wears an elegant scimitar, short and light, in a
brass scabbard, the hilt being composed of masks and foliage of the
“cinque-cento” period. The curve of the gripe issues in a lion’s head,
with ring attached, bearing a flowing treble twisted fretwork chain
united to a ring at the guard.

Considered advisable to add to the system of instruction at Chatham the
art of photography, four non-commissioned officers were sent to
Kensington Palace on the 6th March to learn the process; and after being
taught at Gore House by Mr. Thurston Thompson, returned to Chatham on
the 5th May; since which date photography has formed an interesting item
in the instructional proceedings of the establishment.

Akin with this is the system introduced by Captain Du Cane on his return
from the Crimea for teaching non-commissioned officers and men the
method of using the electric telegraph for military purposes. So
successfully had the schooling of the men in this department of field
usefulness been conducted, that in June a small force of sapper
telegraphists was sent to Aldershot to establish the field telegraph.
Three stations were soon in action, one at each of the camps, and one at
Farnborough close to the electric telegraph company’s office. Double
needle instruments were used at each of the stations and double wires
connected with them stretched over the roofs of the huts and borne over
the open spaces by poles rising between twenty and thirty feet high. A
non-commissioned officer or more acted at each station and two always at
Farnborough. Line orderlies attended the sappers to carry the messages.

Purfleet, attached from time immemorial to the Woolwich district, was,
under the new order of things, combined with the created district of
Waltham, and the small party of six sappers, which for many years had
been employed in the Ordnance repairs at the station, was removed to
Woolwich in May.

To add to the military efficiency of the corps, one sergeant and eight
rank and file, commanded by Lieutenant G. R. Lempriere, were sent to
Hythe in May to learn under Colonel Hay the approved method of rifle
practice and judging distances. Their success was looked upon as very
satisfactory. Though less time at drill than other detachments they
stood well in the comparison, and one of their number, lance-corporal
John Yelland, bore away the prize pen and certificate awarded by Colonel
Hay. He was the best shot out of 164 men of different regiments who had
for some months been contending for the honour. The sappers returned to
Chatham on the 5th August, and the information obtained at Hythe has
become one of the leading features of instruction at the royal engineer
establishment. Lieutenant Lempriere is the instructor; and some of the
men who have passed through his hands have proved themselves better
shots and better in judging distances than the Hythe prizeman.


Footnote 128:

  Under an officer, he has charge of the preparation of the 10·56 feet
  plans of Plymouth, Stonehouse, and Devonport, and of the office for
  the examination of plans and documents antecedent to the engraving of
  the work.

Footnote 129:

  He also assisted Captain Fowke, R.E., in testing the comparative
  qualities of various woods, products of New South Wales, British
  Guiana, and Jamaica, which had been exhibited at the Palais de
  l’Industrie. “In conducting and registering these experiments,” wrote
  Captain Fowke, “I was assisted by corporal James Mack, of the royal
  sappers and miners, who displayed the greatest zeal, intelligence, and
  ability throughout.”—‘Reports on the Paris Universal Exhibition.’ Part
  i. 1856, p. 407.

Footnote 130:

  Of the connection of the sappers with a service so interesting, the
  following anecdote is an illustration. A “foreigner of distinction”
  paid a visit to the Palais de l’Industrie. With Captain Fowke he
  rambled over the courts, and while the Captain was explaining to him,
  among other matters, his experiments on the strength of woods, they
  reached the spot where corporal Mack, in the Captain’s temporary
  absence, was carrying them on with all the intelligence of a
  scientific man. A little further on was another sapper. This was
  sergeant Jenkins, who, for the visitor’s information, cleverly
  expatiated on some philosophical apparatus in his charge. A red-coat
  in the building was an object of decided attraction, and the foreigner
  looked with no little satisfaction at corporal Clabby, who was then
  making a minute and accurate survey of the position of the cases and
  objects in the Exhibition. He had scarcely withdrawn his attention
  from the draughtsman, when a fourth sapper in the person of corporal
  Key, the indefatigable overseer, came in for a share of the
  foreigner’s approbation, and he expressed to Captain Fowke his
  amazement that so many difficult and important duties could, with such
  efficient results, be intrusted to them. But the measure of his
  astonishment was not yet full. There was a magnificent organ, built by
  Bevington and Son, of Greek-street, Soho, in the Palais, which had
  gained the first-class prize, on which, while the distinguished
  foreigner was taking his tour, an amateur with a small body and a
  young and pleasing countenance was performing. Drawn by the power and
  grandeur of its tones, the Captain and his friend repaired to the
  compartment where it had a locâle, but on turning the corner, instead
  of finding, as was expected, a “Maestro,” or “un professeur anglais,”
  seated before the instrument disporting himself with the hauteur of a
  musical genius, the foreigner was struck by seeing another sapper,
  complacently playing with the proficiency and grace of a modest
  professional. “Mon Dieu!” he cried, as if the varied employments of
  the British sappers were too exuberant to merit a less startling
  exclamation, “Encore un sapeur du genie!” And the foreigner went away
  with a most excited opinion of the talents and attainments of the
  corps, of which the men above named were the creditable
  representatives. The military Mozart on this occasion, who strangely
  enough was named after that “divine composer,” was Ludovico Amedius
  Woolfgang Hart!—a name due less to his English than his German
  extraction. As young Hart had opportunity, he applied himself to the
  great organ with its three rows of keys, pedals, and accessory
  movements, containing also eighteen hundred and eleven pipes and
  forty-two stops. His performances comprised selections from Handel’s
  Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, and other oratorios. Once when Her Majesty
  was passing through the English department he took his place at the
  instrument, and made the Palais swell with “God save the Queen;” and
  on another eventful day, when the Emperor of the French was visiting
  the Exposition, he struck up the national anthem of France—“Partant
  pour le Syrie.”

Footnote 131:

  The first time the Emperor visited the portion of the gallery allotted
  to Great Britain, he condescended to scan the survey contributions. As
  he approached the compartment, sergeant Jenkins saluted him. In return
  the Emperor took off his hat and bowed; and, as if to make the
  sergeant feel perfectly at home in his presence, smiled and seemed in
  delightful humour. After glancing at the six-inch map of Edinburgh,
  over which was written in conspicuous letters, “Ordnance survey of
  Scotland,” His Majesty exclaimed, “Ordnance survey of Scotland! but
  where is the map of England?” Jenkins explained that he had several
  specimens of the one-inch map of England, and invited the illustrious
  Monarch to inspect them. “O! certainly;” and His Majesty graciously
  accompanied the sergeant to the interior of the little court taken up
  by the survey specimens, where, in a measure, His Majesty was isolated
  from the crowd, which, with straining curiosity and awe, followed the
  imperial footsteps. When examining the one-inch map of North Wales,
  the Emperor traced his finger over the neighbourhood of Snowdon, and
  observed, “the shading of the hills is beautifully executed.” The
  sergeant then directed the Emperor’s attention to the plan of St.
  Andrews on the five-feet scale—a map very much commended for its
  finish by all the eminent engineers who had examined it. His Majesty
  appeared highly pleased with it, and then succeeded a string of
  questions which the sergeant—a stranger to the parasitical language of
  the courtier—answered with the honest pertinence and refinement of a
  man of good common sense. Among the interrogatories was one in which
  the Emperor enquired,—“Has the whole of England been surveyed on the
  six-inch scale?” In looking at the great theodolite, the Emperor
  evinced unequivocal interest; more so, when the sergeant informed him
  it had been in use above sixty years, and had operated on the summits
  of the highest mountains and most of the important trigonometrical
  stations in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Of its action, adjustment,
  and peculiarities the Emperor asked several questions, and called a
  scientific attendant, to whom His Majesty explained, in French, what
  the sergeant had communicated to him. The Emperor then examined the
  models of Arthur’s seat and the Merrick hills, and also that of the
  zenith sector, with all of which His Majesty was well satisfied.
  Surrounded by a vast assembly, with heads uncovered and in breathless
  admiration of the magnanimity of the incident, thus was passed an
  interview of about a quarter of an hour, between the Emperor of the
  French and a British soldier!

Footnote 132:

  Of the party, Clabby, Hart, and Kelly only were at the fire. They
  attached themselves to the engine nearest the building; so close was
  it, that Kelly was struck on the shoulder with a piece of burning
  timber. At one time the pipe burst, spirting the water over the
  workmen. One of the Zouaves was up to his knees in water trying to
  mend the fracture, when corporal Clabby went to his assistance, and
  taking the handkerchief from his neck bound it round the pipe, and
  partially removed the annoyance. This little act, so gracefully and
  promptly performed, met with a shout of applause from the multitude,
  and before the ringing of the acclamations had subsided, an officer
  from the Marshal of the “Garde de Paris” made a note of their names;
  with what object, perhaps, the future may tell.

Footnote 133:

  The ancestry of the Bradfords can be traced, traditionally, to a very
  remote period. It commenced, as far as the family information extends,
  with Ranulph de Broade Forde—since contracted into Bradford—who in
  1191 served under Richard I. in the Holy War, and fought at the siege
  of Ascalon in the third crusade. Apparently, the patronymic of the
  Broade Fordes was derived from a fortress held by Ranulph as the heir
  of his race, which defended a ford at the confluence of two streams
  important in border warfare on the marches of Wales.

  Without attempting to renew the links in the broken chain of
  genealogical succession, it seems that in the direct line from Ranulph
  sprang John Bradford, who was born at Manchester about 1522. At an
  early age, under Sir John Harington, Knight of Exton in Rutland,
  “treasurer of the King’s camps and buildings,” and chief engineer at
  Boulogne, he served as paymaster at the siege of Montreuil in 1544.
  Three years later he was a student of common law at the Inner Temple,
  where he became a convert to Protestantism; and relinquishing, in
  1548, his secular intentions, became a student at Cambridge, and soon
  after a Fellow of Pembroke College. Ridley, Bishop of London, ordained
  him deacon in 1550, and next year he was installed as a prebendary of
  St. Paul’s, and appointed one of the six chaplains of Edward VI. to
  preach in the distant parts of the kingdom. In 1553, a month after the
  king’s death, and the accession of Queen Mary, Bradford was a State
  prisoner. The truthfulness of his preaching, his great popularity as a
  minister, and Christian firmness in promoting the reformed doctrines,
  did not suit the religious régime which, under the bigoted intolerance
  of the Queen, had commenced to disturb the fabric of the reformation.
  On a trumped-up charge of sedition and heresy he suffered two years
  incarceration in the Tower and King’s Bench, and, at length, refusing
  to retract his pious convictions, was martyred, by burning, at
  Smithfield, 1st July, 1555.

  From a brother of this “champion of the faith” lineally descended the
  Rev. Edward Bradford, rector of Buckland Filleigh.

  John, a son of the rector, married Gertrude Coham, of Coham.
  Considerable landed property was held by the family from the Earl of
  Oxford and his successors, the Lords Clinton; but the estates having
  been placed in chancery, leases without the possibility of renewing
  them, and an extensive fire having consumed a great part of the
  market-town of Sheepwash, laid the foundation of a series of
  calamities from which the family have never recovered.

  Among the offspring of John, were John, William, and Michael. The two
  first were surgeons in the royal navy, William perished in the
  foundering of the “Royal George” at Spithead, June, 1782. Michael was
  likely to have retrieved the fortunes of the family by his success as
  a surgeon, but he died young, leaving, among other children—

  Michael, an orphan of four years of age. There was enough for the son
  when he arrived at man’s estate to pass comfortably through life, and
  he married well. His wife was Mary Tamlyn, daughter of Bamfylde
  Tamlyn, by Mary, second daughter of Richard Somers, Esq., of
  Northtawton, Devon, and sister of the wife of Robert Harrington, Esq.,
  of Worden. The father of Bamfylde Tamlyn, was the Rev. Gregory Tamlyn,
  rector of Bradford. In the Will of John Bamfylde of Arlington, the
  relationship of Rector Tamlyn with the family is acknowledged in a
  passage which affectionately styles him “my beloved cousin.” The
  pedigree of the Bamfyldes is of undoubted antiquity, and this branch
  of it is a shoot from the stem to which cling the Baronets and Lords
  of Poltimore. Young Michael, who had increased by his marriage, his
  pecuniary competence and standing in society, was not remarkable for
  the economy of his pursuits. He was fond of sporting in all its
  phases, and indulged in other expensive habits, which ended in his

  From this marriage sprang five sons and a daughter. Michael the
  quartermaster is the second son. He is thus a collateral descendant of
  Bradford the martyr, and a “poor relation” of a few families of repute
  and distinction at the present day.

Footnote 134:

  Mr. William G. Collins was appointed master 1st August, 1856. He
  joined the royal artillery band at ten years of age. When he had
  established his name as a performer, he turned his attention to
  composition, and was instructed as a theoretical musician by James
  Harris, Esq. Mus. Bac. of Oxon. When quite a young man he was promoted
  to be master of the band on the recommendation of Sir Henry Bishop and
  the President of the Royal Academy of Music—Cipriani Potter.
  Subsequently he held a similar situation in the Royal Bucks Militia
  Band, which, from his peculiar fitness and attainments, became one of
  the best bands among the regular troops or militia in the kingdom. On
  the disembodiment of the regiment, his engagement with Lord Carington
  having ceased, his well-known reputation led to his instant
  appointment as master of the Royal Engineer Band.


War with Russia—Detachment attached to Baltic fleet—Second company to
  the Aland Islands—Landing—Brigadier—General Jones—Preliminary
  services—Operations—Fort Nottich attacked—Adventure at Fort Tzee and
  escape from it—Bomarsund captured—Destruction of the forts—Conduct of
  the company—Sickness; it returns to England—Detachment to
  Turkey—Augmentation to the corps—Seventh company withdrawn from Hurst
  Castle—Eleventh and seventh companies to Turkey—Odessa—Services of the
  first detachment in Turkey—Corporal Cray—Gallipoli; Boulair;
  Ibridgi—Commendation by Sir George Brown—Tenth and eighth companies to
  Scutari—Redoubt Kaleh—Works there—Circassia—Working-pay—Companies
  attached to divisions of the army—Buyuk Tchekmedjie—First
  detachment to Varna—Followed by the tenth company—Also by the
  eleventh—Complimentary order for services of the latter—Contrast
  between the French and English sappers—Works at Varna—Also at
  Devno—Encampments at Aladyn and Varna—Works at Gallipoli and
  Boulair—Eighth company to Varna—Gallantry of corporal Swann and
  private Anderson—Sappers join at Varna from the fleet—Coast of
  Circassia—Photographers—Detachment to Rustchuk—Trestle bridge at
  Slobedzie—Bridge of boats over the Danube—Return to Varna of a portion
  of the sappers from Rustchuk—Misconduct of the detachment; also of the
  seventh company—Spirited conduct of corporal Cray—Major Bent and party
  of sappers to Bucharest—Private Anderson and the Austrian
  Dragoons—Fourth company to Varna—The Somerset Fund—The Central

To obtain a religious protectorate in Turkey, Russia menaced the
independence of the Sultan, which led to a long diplomatic negotiation
between the Western powers and the Czar; but as the Emperor Nicholas
persisted in interfering with the rule of the Sultan, and attempted to
enforce his pretensions by occupying with a belligerent army the
Danubian principalities, Great Britain and France declared war against
Russia. Measures were instantly taken to give effect to the declaration
by despatching powerful expeditions to the East and the Baltic.

To the Baltic fleet were attached, on the 9th March, one sergeant and
nineteen rank and file of the second company, under the command of
Lieutenant Nugent of the engineers, which embarked at Portsmouth on
board the ‘Duke of Wellington,’ flag-ship of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles
Napier, and accompanied it in its reconnaissance of the Baltic Sea and
the Gulf of Finland as far up as Cronstadt. The object of sending the
party with the fleet was, that it might take the lead of the seamen and
marines in any escalading operations ashore; but the nature of the
service was such that no occasion offered for resorting to the
expedient. During the time that the cholera was rife in the fleet,
several of the detachment were seized with the malady, and three died.

When it was resolved to make a descent upon the Aland Islands, a
division of the French army was despatched from Calais to carry out the
enterprise. The second company, of eighty strong, under Captain F. W.
King, royal engineers, was added to the force, and sailing from Deptford
in the ‘Julia’ transport on the 15th July, with every conceivable
engineering requirement, arrived at Calais on the 17th, and took on
board 225 officers, non-commissioned officers, and rank and file of the
51st infantry of the line. The sappers were the only troops that
accompanied the French contingent.

Before daylight on the 8th August, the second company, 600 of the royal
marines, and 2000 French troops landed at a small cove a few miles N.E.
of Bomarsund, and taking a winding route by the village of Monkstetta,
encamped about 1,200 yards from Fort Tzee, sheltered by a hill on which
the breaching battery was afterwards constructed. The advance of the van
was formed by the sappers from the flag-ship, carrying besides their
carbines an assortment of bill-hooks, hand-saws, axes, and hatchets, and
the column was closed in rear by the second company under Captain King.

The British operations were wholly carried out under the direction of
Brigadier-General Jones, R.E., an officer of matured judgment and
experience, gained by hard service in the Peninsular War, and by some
forty years of after study and experiment. He was assisted by Captain H.
St. George Ord, and four other officers of the corps.

Nearly five days were employed in collecting the tools and stores,
cutting roads, effecting preliminary reconnaissances, preparing an
hospital, and in providing domiciles for the temporary accommodation of
the company, by making huts of the branches of fir trees; while a strong
party, about 400 yards from the hill, worked with unflagging industry in
making fascines and filling sand-bags, which, when finished, were
carried by the seamen and marines to the depôt near the site of the
intended battery.

Meanwhile two or three attempts had been made by some officers of the
corps, attended by a few intrepid sappers, to trace the battery; but the
enemy opened so heavy a fire upon the parties, that a suspension of
their exertions necessarily followed. Determination and tact, however,
got over the difficulty. No trace was used, but a simple alignment
struck, from which, on the 13th August, under shade of the evening,
sergeant John Jones and twenty-four rank and file, began to construct
the battery, under the orders of Captain Ord. Without the chance of
digging a shovel-full of earth to give solidity and strength to the
cover, the battery was built on the bare rock entirely of fascines and
sand-bags. The sappers reared it unassisted, except that the royal
marines carried the material from the engineer’s park to the hill.
Sergeant John Jones had the honour of laying the first sand-bag. In ten
hours, the detachment, unrelieved, nearly completed the battery, which
would soon have opened upon Fort Tzee; but the French having forestalled
the arrangement by obtaining the surrender of its commandant, the
battery was free for other employment, and its direction was
consequently changed against Fort Nottich. Speedily the epaulement which
flanked the battery was prolonged, the platforms promptly laid, and
three 32-pounders having been placed in position, the embrasures were
unmasked by some daring sappers, and the firing, which lasted about nine
hours, ended at the fall of the day in the capture of the garrison. It
was surrendered to Captain Ord, R.E., who had with him to receive the
formal capitulation, a force of 100 of the royal marines and five rank
and file of the sappers.

The added work was partly constructed in the day, under fire, as was
also the laying of the platforms. Corporal Peter Leitch,[135] a
first-class carpenter with some handy men of the company, attended to
this service. The working party was relieved every four hours day and
night, until the battery was completed, and also during the siege, to
throw fatigue and danger equally upon all. The guns fired by the seamen
and marine artillery were first drawn by them to the battery on sledges
of a novel construction, over steep and rugged ascents. When they
reached the camp, however, their labours were considerably diminished,
as a road to assist them had been cut by the sappers, up the hill to the
breaching battery, under the orders of Captain King. Corporal George
Luke acted as overseer in this duty. Two of the men were allotted to
each of the guns to keep the embrasures in good order. This they usually
attended to while the gun was loading, and not a few displayed a stoical
coolness and intrepidity in repairing the damaged merlons, and clearing
away the debris occasioned by the enemy’s cannonade. Though the fire
upon the battery was warm at times, the casualties only embraced two
killed, of whom one was the Hon. Lieutenant Cameron Wrottesley, R.E.,
and one wounded. None of the sappers were even touched; and this good
fortune, as well for them as the seamen and marines, was attributed to
the prudence of Brigadier-General Jones, who had men appointed to look
out and warn the battery when the enemy’s guns were fired. These
“look-out” men were sappers—alert spirits with quick eyes and stout
hearts—who gave the alarm the instant a flash was seen at the fort. The
better to enable them to give the intimation they took ground in advance
of the battery in some chasms of the rock, where, although partially
screened by the natural cover of their hiding places, it was a wonder
that they escaped unhurt. Privates James Moncur[136] and Thomas
Ross[137] were most conspicuous in this hazardous duty.

When the French had captured Fort Tzee the Brigadier-General gave an
order for sergeant John Jones to make a plan of it. He had a note to the
officer commanding the garrison requesting the service to be permitted.
Taking with him privates John S. Rowley and George Peters to assist, he
started on the morning of the 15th, but contrary to expectation found
the French had abandoned the work and taken shelter in an advanced
trench. Presenting the request to the French Commandant, the sergeant
awaited authority to proceed. The fort was on fire, having been shelled
by the Russians the previous evening. The Commandant and several French
officers advised Jones not to venture into the place, but with
soldier-like firmness he persevered in urging the performance of the
duty; and permission being granted, he and his assistants went on. Going
through one of the embrasures, which was on fire, and the gun-carriage
burning, they pushed into the tower. Loose powder, broken cartridges,
and five shells were lying about; the flames had nearly spread to the
principal magazine, the remainder of the building had more or less fire
in every casemate, and the smoke in thick columns was streaming from the
crackling apertures. With difficulty they gained the first floor, and
then, finding the stairs, penetrated to the roof, not without being
almost suffocated, and losing, for a time, private Rowley in the smoke.
From floor to floor and embrasure to embrasure they moved, in hopes of
stealing the barest chance of taking even a few measurements, but their
efforts were unavailing; and so, compelled to quit the tower, they had
scarcely reached their own camp, about 1,200 yards away, when the flames
having communicated with the magazine, it exploded, and the fort blew

Without attempting to chronicle the different incidents of the campaign,
in which the fleet and the French troops so gallantly participated, it
will be sufficient to note that Bomarsund, the principal fort of the
Aland Islands, capitulated without material opposition, and the Russians
were marched out prisoners of war. The sappers and miners and royal
marines formed in line, faced by a force of the French infantry; and
through their divided ranks, the Russians moved pensively away to the
point arranged for their departure.

No sooner were the forts in possession of the allies than measures were
taken to disable the guns and dismantle the works. The sappers only were
employed in carrying out the mining operations under the direction of
their officers. In this duty they worked with so much energy, that their
exertions were scarcely checked by the fatigues to which they were
necessarily subjected. Forts Prasto, Nottich, and Bomarsund all fell in
turn—blown up by mines skilfully laid and fired. The magazines also were
exploded, the shot and shell removed, and stores of timber, prepared for
use in the contemplated fortifications, were burnt. The work of
destruction extended even to the garrison chapel; it was sacked and then
destroyed, and all the unfinished forts and buildings, rising from
foundations which marked the extent of a stupendous engineering design,
were torn up by mines and thrown down. The stone landing-pier was
likewise demolished, and not a slab of granite which promised to be of
service in future works was left unbroken. But a few weeks, and what a
change! This proud maritime position—this formidable outport of the yet
impregnable Cronstadt, studded with forts and bristling with ordnance,
was one widespread area of ruin and desolation!

Brigadier-General Jones and the officers of the corps were well pleased
with the military bearing and exertions of the company, and commended
the “cheerful and willing manner in which they performed the laborious
duties” assigned to them. Besides the non-commissioned officers and men
named above, there were others noted for their services. Privates John
Williams,[138] John Veitch,[139] and Francis Enright, for their
boldness, resolution, and zeal. Corporal George Luke,[140] for his
ability and usefulness as a miner in the demolition of Bomarsund.
Sergeant John Jones,[141] for his assistance as a draughtsman; and
sergeant Richard P. Jones,[142] for his general diligence and
intelligence, as well in the general operations as in the special one of
diving. The ‘Penelope’ having run ashore on an unknown rock off
Bomarsund, was compelled to throw fifteen of her guns overboard to float
and save her. Several naval divers attached to the fleet were afterwards
employed to bring them up; but as some submarine difficulties prevented
as speedy an accomplishment of the undertaking as was desired, the
co-operation of sergeant Richard Jones was found to be an acquisition,
inasmuch as he recovered five 8-inch guns and one 10-inch.

There was much sickness among the sappers during the brief campaign, and
on one day no less than forty-seven men out of a company not a hundred
strong, were on the sick-list with choleraic symptoms; but owing to the
attention of the naval surgeons, only two died. Quitting the Baltic Sea
in the ‘Cumberland,’ the company rejoined the corps at Woolwich on the
16th October, and before two months had intervened, was despatched in
all haste to Turkey.

It is now time to turn to the East, to trace the movements and services
of the corps in that interesting quarter. The van of the army sent
thither under the command of Lord Raglan, was a small party of six rank
and file of the sappers and miners under Captain Chapman of the
engineers. They belonged to the fourth company, at Malta, whence they
sailed in the ‘Banshee’ on the 25th January, and having arrived four
days after in Beicos Bay, were the first British soldiers landed on the
Ottoman shores.

To meet the calls for its services in the coming struggle, the corps, by
order of Lord Raglan under date the 23rd February, was augmented from an
establishment of 2,218 of all ranks to 2,658 officers and men, by
enlarging the organization of each of the twenty-two companies with one
sergeant, one corporal, one second-corporal, and seventeen privates. The
corps was now fixed according to the following details:—

                           Colour    Ser-   Cor-    2nd          Pri-           General
                         Sergeant.  geants. porals. Corp. Bugl.  vates. Total.    Total.
 17 general service          1        5       6      6     2     100      120 =    2040
      companies, each
  1 company for Corfu        1        3       4      4     2      68       82 =      82
  3 survey companies,        1        7       8      8     2      99      125 =     375
  1 survey company           1        5       6      6     2     100      120 =     120
    Sydney mint              .        1       1      3     .      11       16 =      16
    Van Diemen’s Land        .        1       2      .     .      12       15 =      15
    Staff—1 brigade-major, 1 adjutant, 3 quartermasters, 2 sergeant-majors, 2        10
      quartermaster-sergeants, and 1 bugle-major
                                                                Total              2658

To concentrate the available force for active duty, the seventh company,
employed in services of a secondary character only, was withdrawn from
Hurst Castle, and removed to Woolwich. While at the castle the company
had assisted in strengthening the place by constructing two batteries
for ten and twelve guns respectively, and also three loopholed
caponniers, built of brick and cement in the moat of the castle.
Quartered as it was upon an exposed shore, in a spot that was isolated
and dreary, the conduct of the company was anything but satisfactory,
and in the short space of eighteen months, out of a strength that
scarcely exceeded ninety non-commissioned officers and men, no fewer
than twenty-three privates deserted.

On the 24th February the eleventh company, under Captain Hassard,
embarked at Southampton for Turkey on board the ‘Himalaya’ steamer, in
which was shipped a store of intrenching tools for field operations. At
Malta they landed on the 8th March, and were temporarily quartered at
Floriana. The seventh company—Captain Gibb’s—joined them on the 27th
March, and brought with them a further supply of tools and implements.
Two days later both companies embarked in the ‘Golden Fleece,’ and
steamed off with the rifle brigade to Gallipoli, where they landed with
Lieutenant-General Sir George Brown on the 8th April. About forty
non-commissioned officers and men of the corps were left at Gallipoli,
and the remainder, marching nearly nine miles, took up a position not
far from the village of Boulair, from which the camp derived its name.

On the 17th April twelve rank and file of the eleventh company, detached
to Constantinople, joined the ‘Fury’ steamer for service in the Black
Sea, and were present at the bombardment of Odessa. The squadron was
hotly engaged when the ‘Fury’ arrived, and after firing a few rounds,
was signalled from the action by the Admiral. On the 23rd April she was
again in the fight for two hours, but her presence in the action is not
noticed in the official despatches.

Meanwhile the six men with Captain Chapman, R.E., who in the course of a
few months had been in six different vessels, were, during the
intervals, employed under their officers, surveying Fort St. Nicholas,
on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles, and the country from thence as
far as the gulf of Saros. A few weeks later they assisted in a similar
service at Boulair and Gallipoli, and then sailing again up the
Bosphorus to Beicos Bay, landed at Therapia, from whence seven days
after they removed to Constantinople, pushing out a party of four men
under Lieutenant De Vere to survey Buyuk Tchekmedjie, a district some
twenty miles from the port.

When Sir John Burgoyne was in the country prior to the arrival of the
troops, private James Cray was his orderly, and accompanied him to Varna
and Shumla. Majors Dickson and Wellesley, with Lieutenants Burke and the
Honourable George Wrottesley and lady, were of the party. From rough
roads and inclement weather the journey was not without its trials; and
at night the little expedition rested by the road-side in any nook or
hovel where they could find shelter.

Subsequently private Cray was orderly to the heroic Lieutenant Burke,
R.E. With him he passed a few days at Silistria, and then took horse to
a small town on the banks of the Danube nine miles from Rustchuk. Major
Wellesley had given him a sword, but this was not considered sufficient
for his defence, and he was provided from the Turkish armoury with a
Minié rifle and revolver. Thus armed, he joined the Ottoman forces in an
action against the Russians, who under cover of a fusillade from a
strong body of riflemen, were endeavouring to cross the river. Met by a
fire it was impossible to stand against, they faced about and retreated
in their boats to land. Cray was thus the first soldier of the British
army engaged in the common cause, and for his conduct on the occasion
was presented by Lieutenant Burke to Omar Pacha. His next ride was to
Sistova. At the time the party entered the town an engagement was going
on, and the Turks were again victorious. Journeying onwards they crossed
to an island, where Lieutenant Burke and his orderly at imminent risk
laid out new works, and traced batteries to complete the defences of the
place. On that occasion private Cray exchanged between twenty and thirty
shots with the enemy, who kept up a sharp fire upon the party from the
opposite bank. In all his tours of inspection and survey, from the
Danube, across the Balkan chain to Adrianople, and back again by another
route to Constantinople, private Cray accompanied Lieutenant Burke, and
for his usefulness and spirited conduct was made lance-corporal and
afterwards attached as orderly to the Brigade-Major.

The detachment at Gallipoli erected piers at the port, for landing
stores, guns, &c., and prepared hospitals for the sick. The companies at
Boulair assisted to form the lines on the left of the position allotted
to the British troops to execute. About 1,500 men of the infantry were
daily distributed for some months to the trenches and roads, and
performed their tasks with ardour and cheerfulness. One man detached to
Ibridgi, about fifty miles distant on the north side of the gulf of
Saros, superintended the Greeks in felling and collecting brushwood and
timber, for the construction of magazines, platforms, log-huts, &c. A
fluctuating party, numbering at one time nine men under a corporal, was
afterwards detached on this duty.

When Sir George Brown, who commanded the division, took his departure
for the frontier, he communicated in orders of the 6th May “his entire
approbation of the general conduct, zeal, and industry of the royal
sappers and miners on the works, both at Gallipoli and the camp at

Two other companies were quickly reorganised to reinforce the corps in
the East. These were the tenth under Captain Bent, to form the pontoon
train, and the eighth from Gibraltar, under Captain Bourchier. The
former embarked at Woolwich in the ‘City of London’ steamer, on board of
which was Lieutenant-General Sir De Lacy Evans and staff, and the staff
of the Duke of Cambridge. Sir De Lacy Evans was well pleased with the
conduct and services of the company on board, for they had much to
attend to in strengthening the horse-boxes. Landing at Constantinople on
the 24th April, the company was quartered in Scutari barracks, as was
also the eighth on debarking from the ‘Albatross,’ on the 9th May. The
pontoons sent out in the ‘Melbourne’ in charge of corporal William
Dickson, an able and intelligent non-commissioned officer, reached
Constantinople on the 13th May.

The sappers attached to Her Majesty’s ship ‘Fury’ being transshipped to
the ‘Agamemnon,’ bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Lyons, served with the
squadron in a obsolete’ on the coasts of Circassia, Georgia, and
Anatolia, and were present on the 19th May in the reduction of Redout

Next morning the party landed, and were employed for two days as
overseers in the defensive occupation of the place, under the orders of
Lieutenant H. Cox and H. B. Roberts, of the royal marine artillery.
Parties from all the ships were ashore at the works. The Turks, utterly
unacquainted with the mode of protecting themselves by intrenchments,
were instructed by the sappers. A Russian barrack was speedily
loopholed, a stone building in a commanding situation was converted by
massive planks into a block-house as an outwork, and a parapet was
formed, flanked by a deep marsh. Houses, too, that could not aid in the
defence were thrown down, whilst others, well sited, were turned into
points of security and resistance. The old fort on the land side was
also strengthened with additional works. When these services were
sufficiently advanced, the Turks with two sappers were left to complete
the defences, and the Anglo-French working parties, with the remainder
of the sappers, returned to their ships.

Renewing its cruise, the squadron anchored off Bardan. Landing Captain
Brock, R.N., Captain Stanton, R.E., a doctor, and four sappers, they
started, guided by an escort of Circassians commanded by Ismail Bey,
over the mountains, to communicate with the prophet-warrior Schamyl.

Late in May, Lord Raglan ordered the sappers, when employed as
artificers “in repairing tools, constructing wharves, and the like,” to
receive working pay; the non-commissioned officers at the rate of 1_s._
a-day, and the privates 6_d._ to 1_s._ a-day each, according to conduct
and ability. The non-commissioned officers appointed conductors of
stores, photographers, electricians, &c., were granted 2_s._ a-day each.

To form a connexion between the sappers and miners and the army, the
four companies with the expedition were attached to the divisions as

            1st division. 11th  company  Captain Hassard.
            2nd     ”      8th     ”     Captain Bourchier.
            3rd     ”      7th     ”     Captain Gibb.
          Light     ”     10th     ”     Captain Bent.

Four men employed for a few weeks with Captain Chapman, R.E., in the
survey of Buyuk Tchekmedjie, were recalled to Constantinople late in
May, as the intention of forming that district into an encampment had
been abandoned, owing to the altered character of events.

While the carpenters of the companies at Scutari were fitting up
horse-boxes for the cavalry on board the transports, a forward movement
was commenced by a detachment of one sergeant—John F. Read—and
twenty-seven rank and file of the tenth company, commanded by
Lieutenants E. C. A. Gordon and Pratt, which landed at Varna from the
‘Caradoc’ on the 22nd of May. Precedence was given to this party for the
purpose of erecting jetties to land the troops, horses, and ordnance, on
the arrival of the army.

On the 26th of May, the remainder of the company under Captain Bent,
disembarked at Varna with the pontoons, from the ‘Cyclops’ steamer. The
removal of the company was an expeditious operation, for in less than
ten hours from the time of receiving orders, the pontoons, stores,
horses, and all the miscellaneous gear attending a war company of
sappers, were stowed into one vessel, and then transshipped into another
when subsequent orders rendered such an arrangement imperative. In
allusion to the company’s departure, the corps was spoken of in the
‘Times,’ as a “most indefatigable and invaluable body of men.”[143]

Simultaneously with this movement, Captain Hassard’s company sailed from
Gallipoli, when their exertions elicited the following complimentary
order from the officer of Royal Engineers in command.

                              “_On board the ‘Emu,’ 25th May, 1854._

“Captain Gordon thanks the eleventh company for the zealous and willing
manner with which they worked during the whole of last night, and till
six o’clock this morning, embarking intrenching tools and stores,
immediately after their march in from the camp at Boulahar. This
exertion, so cheerfully performed, as to enable the company to proceed
without loss of time on active service, will be brought to the notice of
the Brigadier-General.” It was so and received his hearty

The company disembarked at Varna on the 27th, and the scene at the quay
was strikingly interesting and animated. About 250 French sappers had
also landed from the ‘Cacique,’ and working as they did some twenty
yards from the British sappers, a good opportunity was afforded for
contrasting the temperament and military habits of the two nations. The
French, gay, volatile, and impulsive, stirred about with elated spirits
and elastic activity, that gave a cheerful, though an impetuous aspect
to their exertions; whilst the English sappers, grave, impassible, and
taciturn, wheeled off scaling ladders and stores so devoid of bustle and
joyousness, and with so much attention to order and composure, that an
air of stern and serious necessity was impressed on their labours.
Nevertheless, the work was done with a business-like energy and
earnestness that seemed more than adequate for any task or

Varna for a few months was the principal frontier station and depot for
engineer stores and pontoons, from whence parties were thrown out to
Devno, Aladyn, Monister, Rustchuk, &c. At Varna the companies built a
stone pier of some pretensions, and a wooden one at the south side of
the bay, run out into deep water 140 feet from the beach. They also
banked up the shore, deepened the little harbour, and improved the
almost trackless roads beyond and within the vicinity of Aladyn, making
them passable for heavy wheeled conveyances. Much of the work was
carried on in bog and water, which, however, was ultimately
discontinued, as it was found that some of the men who were so employed,
died from cholera, traceable to their exertions and exposure.

About seventy men of the tenth company marched to Devno on the 29th May,
who repaired the roads, removed the accumulations of years from deserted
fountains, rendering them again useful for thirsty wayfarers, built
ovens for baking bread, raised dams to collect water for the troops, and
constructed a bridge across the lake. From a lonely burial-ground,
filled with blocks of unhewn and unsculptured granite, marking
nevertheless the sites of numerous graves, the sappers took the largest
stones, and used them in erecting a bridge over one of the narrow
channels which joined the lakes of Aladyn and Devno. The men worked very
hard, at times up to their breasts in water. The correspondent of the
‘Times,’ in speaking of this work—June 29th—termed the sappers “a most
utilitarian corps while Captain Gordon, in a letter to a brother
officer, remarked with respect to its general services, “that the men
work well and behave well. To be with them is a pleasure.”

A party of twelve men with sergeant Thomas Dumvill, under Lieutenant
Creyke of the engineers, was employed for three days at Carra-Houssan;
and having placed the several wells in order, and rendered the neglected
fountains available for use, it returned to Devno. It was expected that
the light division would march through the village of Shumla, but the
intention was afterwards abandoned. The sappers therefore were the only
British troops at this advanced frontier station.

At Aladyn, the sappers were encamped in a valley covered with the
thickest foliage, and its many rural accessories of creepers, clematis,
wild vines, &c., made the scene as picturesque as grateful.[145] At
Varna, the companies were tented as nearly as possible to their work,
while a detachment was quartered for a time, close by the city walls, to
be ready for any emergency:[146] but when the cholera had to some extent
decimated the camp, the sappers were removed, to improve their sanitary
condition, to a healthier location on the south side of the bay.

The seventh company at Gallipoli and Boulair, in addition to their
duties on the lines, constructed a number of log-huts, stores, and
stables for the cantonment of a regiment, in the event of the army being
compelled to fall back to the isthmus, as to another Torres Vedras, for
succour and safety.

The eighth company from Scutari landed at Varna on the 19th of June from
the ‘Golden Fleece’ steamer, and joined the frontier companies.

Lance-corporal William Swann and private Andrew Anderson accompanied
Captain Bent and Lieutenant Burke to the beleaguered fortress of
Silistria, starting on the 17th of June. Arriving too late to share in
its defence, they shortly afterwards repaired to Rustchuk, where a
hazardous attack upon the Russians holding the opposite bank of the
Danube, was undertaken on the 7th of July by Hassan Haki Pacha, the
commander of the Turkish force at that fortress. The attack was made on
three points, Captain Bent leading one of the divisions. Lieutenant
Burke also led a detached party of Turkish troops across the river in
boats. The two sappers were attached to him, and it is of their conduct
particularly, and not the general incidents of the battle, that the
following record will give an account. Gaining the island, the party of
Turks jumped on shore, and forming in line, gallantly pushed on, and
were met by superior numbers. A fierce hand to hand struggle ensued, and
Lieutenant Burke, with desperate valour, slew with his own strong arm
six of his opponents, falling early on the strand covered with frightful
wounds. The sappers stood by their officer, and fought “well and
bravely.” In the midst of the conflict, private Anderson, a stalwart
soldier, tried to save the heroic young man whose spirit inspired all
with courage; but though the attempt unhappily failed, he dealt out
slaughter among the Russians with incredible effect. It was not long
before the little band of Turks, overpowered by numbers, retreated to
the boats. Mindful of the sacred duty that devolved upon him, Anderson,
with daring devotion, three times threw himself into the ranks of the
enemy, and at last rescued the bleeding body of his officer. Though
encumbered with his carbine and other arms, he endeavoured to bear it
away on his back, but such was its weight—for the lieutenant was a
powerful man, and of robust stature—and such the heaviness of the fire
upon him, he was obliged to relinquish his purpose, leaving the body
concealed in some long grass. Taking the dead man’s sword to save it
from falling as a trophy into the hands of the enemy, he made good his
retreat to the river. Scrambling down its sedgy bank, which varied from
three to six feet in height, the party renewed the conflict, and
improved their cover by a hasty entrenchment, in the formation of which
the Turks used their hands and bayonets, and the sappers their swords.
Corporal Swann was here soon disabled; and, wounded in the head by a
blow from the butt end of a musket, he was falling, when, a second blow
across the shoulder-blade, threw him into the water. There for four
hours he lay insensible, and was providentially saved from drowning by a
thick woollen shirt he wore.[147] Anderson, now the only British soldier
with the little batch, acted as became his manly character, and
encouraging the Turks by his prowess and endurance, the brave detachment
maintained the unequal contest with veteran firmness, and only recrossed
the Danube when the necessity for their services had ceased. In that
hard-contested battle, private Anderson killed no less than fourteen
Russians, himself escaping miraculously without wound or hurt. Next
morning, though it was uncertain whether the enemy was in ambush or not,
he pushed over to the island again, and recovered the body of his
officer, but what a sad spectacle did it present! It was headless;
thirty wounds from bullet, sabre, and bayonet, riddled his remains, and
his fingers had been chopped off to secure the rings he wore! The battle
of Giurgevo ended in a victory for the Turks. Ten hours the fight
lasted, and the loss on both sides was considerable. For their gallantry
Swann was promoted to be second corporal,[148] and private Anderson
decorated, by Omar Pacha, with the order of the Medjidie. His highness
himself placed the star on the brave man’s breast, and then, in
friendship, warmly shook his hand. In the ‘London Gazette’ of January
12, 1855, appeared the following gratifying announcement. “The Queen has
been pleased to grant unto private Andrew Anderson of the Sappers and
Miners, her royal license and permission that he may accept and wear the
order of the Medjidie, which the Sultan has been pleased to confer upon
him, in approbation of his distinguished bravery and good conduct at the
passage of the Danube on the 7th of July last, and subsequently in
rescuing the body of his commanding officer, Lieutenant Burke, after he
had fallen; and that he may enjoy all the rights and privileges
thereunto annexed.”—“And also to command that Her Majesty’s said
concession and especial mark of her royal favour be registered, together
with the relative documents, in Her Majesty’s College of Arms.”

The four sappers landed from the ‘Agamemnon’ in May, were for six weeks
in Circassia with Captain Brock, R.N. In returning to the ship, they,
with six other men of the detachment on board of her, accompanied the
fleet in its subsequent cruises along the coast, and in the Black Sea.
No longer required for service afloat, the party landed at Baltschik,
and marching to Varna, rejoined their companies on the 16th and 18th

Early in July, Lieutenant Lempriere left Varna for Circassia in the
French steamer ‘Vauban’ with orders to place in a state of defence, some
of the towns along the coast, which, having been wrested from the
Russians were now being menaced by them. Sergeant Marshall and private
Richards accompanied him. On the 11th the party landed at Churuksu, the
Turkish head-quarters on that frontier, and soon completed a survey of
the place and its vicinity. Obliged to remain there a few days, three or
four officers of the ‘Vauban’ and Lieutenant Lempriere visited some of
the Turkish outposts and detached forts. With the party were some French
sailors and private Richards. When about to return, two of the sailors
and the sapper were missing. Nothing could be heard of them, and it was
concluded they had strayed into the hands of the Russians. Skirmishers
were sent out to scour the country. Wood, wild, and mountain were
threaded in quest of the wanderers, and all hope of tracking them had
wellnigh been given up, when a quick eye observed them in the
bush—apparently unconscious of the concern they had created or of the
chances there were of the enemy capturing them—coolly stuffing
themselves with blackberries! Stocked with a good supply of the fruit,
they were guided back to the party, who, no longer uneasy about the
safety of their attendants, shared with the wayfarers the contents of
their wallets and enjoyed an agreeable dessert.

At Redoubt Kaleh a small body of Russian cavalry closely approached the
Turkish works to reconnoitre the position, but a few rounds from the
batteries quickly dispersed them. Information had reached the enemy of
the arrival of some English troops, which, in all probability, was more
than corroborated, by the glimpse they must have caught of one of the
four red-coated sappers constituting, at that time, the entire British
contingent on the coast of Circassia. Whether this was or was not enough
to excite the fears of the Russians, certain it is, that a considerable
body of them in anticipation of an attack, threw up some earthworks on
the banks of the river about five miles away.

Cruising along the coast, now in the ‘Vauban,’ now in the ‘Wasp,’
Lieutenant Lempriere and his men landed for short intervals at Pitsunda,
Soukum Kaleh, Redoubt Kaleh, Anacrea, Churuksu, Batoum, and lastly, all
went up to Trebizonde. The two Kalehs were the fortresses at which the
services of the sappers were chiefly given. At Redoubt Kaleh two men who
had been left by Captain Stanton as overseers to the Turks joined
Lieutenant Lempriere’s little force. In addition to instructing the
Ottoman soldiers in the mode of forming fieldworks, the sappers
superintended the restoration of some old batteries and revetments, the
construction of various new defences, and assisted Lieutenant Lempriere
in the surveys be found it necessary to make for professional purposes.
While they were thus busy, the Crimean Expedition had been determined
on, and as every sapper was wanted for the enterprise, the party was
recalled and rejoined the corps just as the siege was about to open.

Corporal John Pendered and lance-corporal John Hammond arrived at Varna
on the 24th July, and were attached as photographers, under Captain
Hackett, 77th regiment, to the head-quarters of the army. Previously to
leaving London they had been instructed in the art by Mr. Thompson, and
had practically tested their efficiency at Chatham, where patches of
broken ground, and military scenes and fortifications, gave them a
variety of subjects to portray. Many of their photographic sketches,
taken under circumstances of difficulty and disadvantage, were exhibited
at Gore House during the summer months; but without having the chance of
proving their usefulness and skill, these two young men, promising and
enterprising, perished in a storm.

At the request of Omar Pacha a detachment of the corps, under Captain
Gage, R.A. and Lieutenant Pratt, R.E., started from Aladyn for Rustchuk
on the 8th July, to form a bridge over the Danube for the passage of the
Ottoman troops. It consisted of sergeant John F. Read, one bugler, and
thirty-two rank and file, accompanied by fifteen French pontoneers, and
thirty-five English seamen from the fleet, under Lieutenant Glynn and
Prince Leiningen, R.N., twenty of whom led the way, and fifteen covered
the rear. With characteristic pride, the seamen gave importance to the
honour accorded them by carrying unfurled, both in front and rear, a
large union jack. All were on horseback. Next to the advance sailors
were the sappers, unskilled in equitation, in every conceivable
attitude, mounted on young horses. Each led a second horse loaded with
intrenching tools, &c. Behind them followed about 150 horses ridden by
native grooms and guides, bearing tools, baggage, and forage; and then
came the party of French pontoneers. The expedition went from twenty to
thirty miles in twelve hours, killing three horses in the first two
days. Many of the animals, unaccustomed to the rattling of picks and
shovels against their flanks, were difficult to manage, and in their
fright and restiveness, frequently dashed away from the cavalcade.
Considerable delay occurred in recovering and restraining them, and what
with unavoidable halts at Schumla and Rasgradt, the party did not reach
Rustchuk until the 13th July, though the distance travelled was only 120
miles. This novel equestrian journey was accomplished without any
material mishap, except a few almost harmless falls, and the occasional
diversion of a horse and his rider rolling together on the road. Hard
riding, however, on ill-formed and broken tracks, made the men so sore
and stiff, that when the time for rest arrived, they found it preferable
to sleep standing!

On the 15th, the sappers were sent over to Giurgevo, and for a few days
assisted to intrench the position of the Turks; when, on the 19th, at
the desire of Omar Pacha, they moved up to Slobedsie, and under the
superintendence of Captain Bent and Lieutenant Pratt constructed, in a
very creditable manner, a trestle bridge over the Slobedsie Creek, which
was 450 feet across, to a small island in the Danube. Notwithstanding
that several of the men, as many as fifteen in one day, had been ill
during the operation, the work was finished on the 25th.

Next day the sappers joined the French pontoneers and English sailors,
in throwing a bridge of boats across the main stream, at a place some
890 yards wide. A few boats had been laid when the sappers commenced.
The pontoneers worked from one shore, the sappers from the other; whilst
the sailors rowed up the boats and assisted to secure them in position.
The boats, fixed with a clear bay of twenty feet between, gave for each
of the series about forty feet of bridge. The breadth for the roadway
was eighteen feet six inches. Wood was scarce at the spot, and the
timbers for the superstructure in great part were obtained from Sistova
and Widdin. Intended for heavy service the bridge was made of massive
baulks and stout oak planking, strongly bolted, cramped, and racked.
Much “difficulty was experienced in securing some of the boats in the
more rapid part of the stream, but by mooring them with four anchors
each, and the aid of heavy ordnance sunk above the boats and securely
fastened to them,” they stood against wind and surge, firm and
unbroken.[149] “It was completed on the 4th August, and on the 5th
received some damage from the first Austrian steamer that passed during
the war. This was soon repaired,”[150] and to obviate a similar
casualty, an opening was contrived to permit the navigation to continue,
which, when not required, was closed up again by a moveable raft to make
good the bridge. In appearance it was as artistic and elegant as useful.
The longest boats occupied the centre, from which the smaller craft
gradually fell away to the two shores. Like ancient galleys they were
shaped with stems and prows curving gracefully upwards from the
water.[151] The bridge was no unworthy rival of the celebrated one
formed by Xerxes, in his passage of the Hellespont at Abydos. “On the
10th, Omar Pacha opened it in person, and complimented the officers and
men for the zeal and ability they had shown in its construction. Captain
Bent was in command of the sappers.”[152] For the ceremony two triumphal
arches of evergreens were run up, one at each end of the bridge, and
above them proudly waved the allied banners of England, France, and
Turkey. To crown the service, both French and English met in unmixed
cordiality and friendship, at a costly repast provided by Omar Pacha.

No longer required for service with the force of his highness, eighteen
of the detachment returned, on horseback, to Varna, under Lieutenant
Pratt, R.E., passing through Turtukai and Silistria, where joining the
English seamen, they quitted it again on the 15th August. At night,
after a march of twenty miles, the party halted at Kinarjik. On the next
day a further march of thirty miles found them encamped at Karapelt;
another thirty took them to Karayal, where a sapper who had died on the
route was buried. A beautiful spot was selected for the encampment, and
at sunset the deceased was interred in a hastily-excavated grave,
beneath the sombre shade of a wild pear-tree.[153] All the officers and
men were present, and from the absence of all display, and the fatigued,
rusty, and travel-stained aspect of the men, the ceremony was impressive
and mournful. On the 18th August, travelling fifteen miles that morning,
the sappers reached head-quarters, and rejoined the tenth company.
Corporal Swann, who had been appointed by Lord Raglan provost-sergeant
to the mule-drivers at Rustchuk with a salary of 4_s._ 6_d._ a-day,
returned to Varna with the party.

Not without mortification it is necessary to introduce in this place a
record relative to the misconduct of the Rustchuk detachment. Honoured
as they were by being the only British soldiers selected for an advanced
frontier duty, much was expected from their conduct and exertions; but
their extreme irregularity and drunkenness, with few exceptions,[154]
offered a striking contrast to the behaviour of the party of sailors and
the Turkish garrison. To mark therefore the displeasure of
Brigadier-General Tylden, he subjected the detachment to a course of
severe discipline, and stopped the promotion of some of the
non-commissioned officers. Several men of the seventh company also, who
had commenced a career of intemperance at Hurst Castle, behaved with
equal discredit, and disgusted their officers. It is a pity in a corps
possessing the advantages of education, skill, and mechanical
attainments, that there should exist anything to tarnish the fame the
well-intentioned are striving to brighten.

As a set-off against this censure, it is well there is occasion to give
place to an instance of individual good conduct, as honourable as
meritorious. Varna was set on fire by some Greek incendiaries,
instigated by Russian agents, and was only extinguished after much of
the city had been laid waste, and considerable munitions destroyed.
Brigadier-General Tylden directed the operations for saving the town.
The companies of sappers, being on the south side of the bay, were not
present, but lance-corporal James Cray, whose services under Lieutenant
Burke have been already noticed, acting as the Brigadier’s orderly, lent
material aid by his intrepidity in arresting the flames. “When the
danger was greatest,” says the official report, “and the spreading
flames threatened to reach the large Turkish powder-magazine, corporal
Cray laboured voluntarily and incessantly, by mounting scaling-ladders
and closing the openings with blankets, thus not only largely
contributing to the safety of the magazine, but setting an example to
the sailors and others assisting, which was of the greatest service.” He
was promoted to be second-corporal for his conduct.

Captain Bent, with fifteen non-commissioned officers and men left at
Rustchuk under Omar Pacha, accompanied the Ottoman troops into the
Wallachian principality, entering the capital on the 22nd August.
Corporal Harding, a zealous and able sapper and pontoneer, died that day
from cholera on the line of march, and was buried in the graveyard of a
small country Greek church. His remains, covered with a union jack, were
attended to their final resting-place by all the Englishmen in
Bucharest, and the service was read by Mr. Meyer, a missionary
clergyman. A private was attacked by the grave of his comrade, and
returning to his tent, soon afterwards died. He was buried in the
Lutheran churchyard. Several other choleraic seizures occurred in the
detachment, which were ascribed to the intemperance of the men, and
their imprudent use of fruits. No British soldiers, save this small
party, served during the campaign in the Wallachian capital.

The occupation of Bucharest by the Austrians was followed by many
ungracious acts which it was never anticipated a chivalric nation would
impose on a defenceless people. These were chiefly felt in the forcible
possession of the houses of the citizens without the courtesy of seeing
whether they could be accommodated. No excuse could be offered for such
ungallant proceedings, as the police had provided the Austrian troops
with suitable billets. The same inconsiderate demeanour was paraded
before the few British sappers quartered in the capital, who, to prevent
the possibility of a pretext for collision, were all pent up with their
Captain-Bent-in one domicile.[155] In their activity to find comfortable
stabling, some Austrians, commanded by a sergeant, ordered the horses
belonging to Captain Bent to be taken out to make room for three lively
steeds which the pirating party had brought with them. It was not to be
borne that they should attempt to encroach upon premises already too
limited for the reasonable wants of the Captain and his sappers; and
private Andrew Anderson, who happened to be on the spot at the time, met
their demands with courageous sternness. This unexpected resistance
caused the sergeant valorously to motion with his sabre, and to
threaten, among other desperate penalties, to hang the Englishman; but
Anderson, indisposed to yield his trust—though the odds were against
him—made so imposing a demonstration of physical determination, that the
dragoons, taken somewhat aback at his boldness, quickly decamped, and
abandoned the intention of quartering themselves or their horses in the
British billets.

The fourth company from Malta, under Captain Craigie, reinforced the
corps at Varna on the 14th August, and a detachment of the third company
at Corfu was also sent thither, arriving at the head-quarters on the
25th August. They were ordered from their respective stations to the
seat of war by Lord Raglan.[156]


Footnote 135:

  Promoted to be sergeant. Was the principal non-commissioned officer in
  charge of the huts sent from this country to the Crimea; and was
  wounded severely in the assault on the Redan on the 8th September,

Footnote 136:

  A man of unsteady propensities from a long residence at the Cape of
  Good Hope, where liquor is cheap. He is, however, a first-rate soldier
  and sapper, and his intrepid bearing in the trenches before
  Sebastopol, gained him a special medal “for distinguished service in
  the field,” and a gratuity of five pounds. Such notice accorded to him
  as one of sixteen out of a fighting force of about 900 men, may well
  excite his pride; and if there be a tide in the affairs of men, surely
  this proud incident will cause that turn, and so fashion his future
  career that it will be as remarkable in peace for temperance and good
  behaviour, as in battle for heroism.

Footnote 137:

  Died in camp before Sebastopol, in January, 1855.

Footnote 138:

  Sent to the Crimea as a submarine diver, and died in camp before
  Sebastopol, April, 1855.

Footnote 139:

  Died in December, 1854, before Sebastopol of cholera.

Footnote 140:

  Killed in the trenches at the siege of Sebastopol, July 17, 1855.

Footnote 141:

  Now second sergeant-major of the corps at the Royal Engineer
  Establishment, Brompton.

Footnote 142:

  Has been frequently noticed in these pages for his labours in the
  demolition of the ‘Royal George’ and ‘Edgar’ at Spithead.

Footnote 143:

  June 12, 1854.

Footnote 144:

  ‘United Service Gazette,’ June 17, 1854.

Footnote 145:

  The ‘Times,’ June 29, 1854.

Footnote 146:


Footnote 147:

  ‘Illustrated London News,’ August 5, 1854.

Footnote 148:

  Soon after was advanced to the rank of corporal for his conduct at the
  siege of Sebastopol, and died of wounds received in the trenches, in
  May, 1855. One of his legs was amputated, from which, though he bore
  up for a few days, his exhausted strength did not permit him to rally.

Footnote 149:

  The ‘Times,’ Sept. 15, 1854.

Footnote 150:


Footnote 151:


Footnote 152:

  The ‘Times,’ Sept. 15, 1854.

Footnote 153:


Footnote 154:

  Sergeant John F. Read, corporals William Harding, William Swann, and
  privates Robert M. Rylatt, Michael Westacott, and John Piper.

Footnote 155:

  The ‘Times,’ Oct. 26, 1854, by the Author of ‘The Russian Empire.’

Footnote 156:

  A few weeks before the Central Association commenced its humane
  operations, a fund was raised by Captain and Adjutant Somerset to aid
  the wives and children of men of the corps ordered to the East. The
  Central Association took its rise from a letter which appeared in the
  ‘Times’ on the 22nd February, 1854, on which date, singularly enough,
  Captain Somerset received the first subscriptions for his fund. As the
  working of this regimental charity could not but be limited, Captain
  Somerset did his best to lessen the chances of its being too soon
  exhausted. He therefore personally advised every married man before
  embarking, as to the course he ought to pursue during his absence from
  England, and obtained from him an agreement to make a monthly
  remittance, suitable to his means, for the support of his wife and
  family. This was not a difficult interference, for the men were only
  too anxious to make the utmost provision it was in their power to
  arrange. Of this regimental fund Captain Somerset had the entire
  charge. By his exertions it reached the sum of 240_l._; of which
  72_l._ were subscribed by the four survey companies. The rest was
  added by officers of the corps at home, a few companies of sappers,
  and the personal friends of the Adjutant. Its plan was to make
  advances—obtaining repayment of them by remittances from the seat of
  war; also to award donations, and to provide, in unforeseen
  circumstances, domestic troubles, sickness and death, such relief as
  the several cases needed, and which could only be met in this way.
  “The Somerset Fund,” so quiet and unpretending in its exercise, was of
  great benefit to the corps; and of about sixty women and nearly one
  hundred children who, by loans and grants, drew support from its
  means, not one ever had occasion to seek the cold shelter of a
  workhouse. With one or two exceptions, the wives of the sappers
  behaved with virtuous propriety during the absence of their husbands,
  and were a credit both to them and the corps.

  The Central Association was a national undertaking, in which the wives
  and families of the corps, equally with those of the rest of the army,
  shared to the full extent of its numbers. It properly does not belong
  to this history to notice the gigantic operations of the Association,
  and the extraordinary good it achieved; but it may nevertheless be
  permitted to say, that the royal sappers and miners will ever retain a
  warm recollection of its beneficence, and cherish the name of Major
  the Hon. Henry Littleton Powys—the untiring advocate of protection to
  the soldier’s wife and family, and the gratuitous Honorary Secretary
  of the Association—with feelings of lasting gratitude.

                        September—18th October.

Instructional operations—Embarkation for the Crimea—The landing—The
  sappers sink wells—Attempt to erect a pier for landing the horses—Bed
  of the Bulganak improved with reeds for the passage of artillery—The
  Alma—Services of the sappers during the battle—They repair the Buliack
  timber bridge—March to Balaklava; Sir John Burgoyne; services of the
  third company—The corps encamps at Balaklava—Then removes to the
  heights before Sebastopol; misery for want of tents—Parties assist to
  reconnoitre the positions and trace the lines—An instance given—Two
  sappers carrying the mail miss their way, are wounded and
  benighted—Destruction of Upton’s aqueduct—Positions on the heights;
  staff engineers—The attacks; parks—Sapper brigades—Reliefs—Breaking
  ground—Duties of the sappers—Their deficiency of tact in working the
  skilled portions of the batteries—Progress of the works; a party
  wanders from the trace—Sergeant Morant misses his way, and only
  discovers his mistake when encountered by a Russian guard—A mistrusted
  guide restores confidence by his conduct—State of the works on the
  night before the first bombardment—The batteries and parallels—Siege
  operations—Restoration of the works—Sir John Burgoyne’s remarks on

Preliminary to active operations in the Crimea, the companies of the
corps at Varna superintended contingents of the line in preparing a park
of gabions, fascines, sand-bags, and platforms for siege purposes. Each
sapper at the duty had charge of fifteen men of the line, divided into
three squads of five in a squad. The troops were also practised in the
hasty formation of field-works; and these instructional services were
not without profit to the men of the corps, who, as overseers,
superintended their execution.

Early in September the allied forces embarked for the Crimea, and the
naval arrangements for the occasion, though vast and complicated, were
comprehensive and perfect. To each of the British divisions was attached
a body of sappers and miners, bearing with them intrenching tools. Up to
this time there had landed in Turkey six companies of the corps,
mustering a force of 513 non-commissioned officers and men, which had
been reduced to 492 men by the decease of 21 non-commissioned officers
and privates, chiefly from cholera and exposure. Leaving the seventh
company at Gallipoli, also detachments at Varna, Redout Kaleh, and
Bucharest, and the sick on board the transports and at Scutari, the
force of sappers and miners that landed near Lake Tuzla in Kalamita Bay
on the 14th and 16th September counted a total of 308 of all ranks.

Under a teeming rain, two of the companies debarked, and without tents
or covering, took up a miserable bivouac with their divisions. In the
night they lay huddled together for warmth, while the storm beat
ceaselessly upon them, and turned their selected resting-places into
pools and quagmires. The returning day found them drenched, stiff, and
comfortless; but in none, except those poor enfeebled fellows still
suffering from the pest that had proved so fatal to the troops at Varna,
was there wanting a cheerfulness to work, a spirit to master hardship,
and a determination to endure. Unsheltered as they were, that fearful
weather brought on many aggravated cases of cholera.

Water, the first want felt after landing at Lake Tuzla, caused several
wells to be sunk by the sappers on the strip of land which stretched
between the lake and the Black Sea. The supply thus obtained was too
brackish for human use, and the duty of furnishing the troops,
therefore, depended on the fleet.

At noon on the 15th, a detachment of the fourth company commenced to
erect a temporary pier for landing the horses, with timbers furnished by
the fleet. For a considerable distance to seaward, the water was
shallow, but it swelled to the beach, and broke there with great
violence. Trestles fixed and braced were held for a time in their places
by sturdy men, but the driving breakers rushed to the shore with so
resistless a force it was impracticable to proceed; and men and timbers
borne away in the surge, only escaped by grasping at ropes which were
laid conveniently to the site in anticipation of such accidents.

When the army was put in motion, and the Bulganak stream was reached,
its bed was found to be too muddy for the passage of the artillery with
the 4th division. Early in the morning of the 20th a portion of the
fourth company was told off to make a track through the water for the
guns. Collecting the reeds which grew there in abundance, the sappers
tied them faggot fashion into long bundles, and placing them in the bed
of the stream from bank to bank, the artillery, in twenty-two minutes
from the time of commencing, was crossing the river with clean wheels in
comparative ease.

On the 20th was fought the battle of the Alma, which was gained in three
hours by the allies, with a loss to the British exceeding 2,000 killed
and wounded; whilst the carnage amongst the Russians was even greater.
The sappers and miners during the action were thus distributed:—

                    Head-quarters.   3rd company  36
                    Light division, 10th    ”     62
                    1st    ”        11th    ”     62
                    2nd    ”         8th    ”     77
                    3rd    ”         4th    ”     34
                    4th    ”         4th    ”     35

The fourth division was not engaged, being in reserve; but the sappers
with the other divisions, though not called upon to participate to an
extent that placed them in much danger, were under fire. The companies
were held back, ready with their intrenching tools, to perform any
service for which they might suddenly be required; but the daring
advance and overpowering prowess of the British rendered a resort to
field-works as a means of defence wholly unnecessary. The tenth company
crossed the river by the ford and bridge while the battle raged. The
eighth company, attached for the moment to one of the field-batteries,
assisted in dragging through the river some field-carriages belonging to
the royal artillery, one of which, having become disabled, capsized in
the stream.

The eleventh company, under the direction of Captain Montagu of the
engineers, rapidly repaired the broken timber bridge of Buliack, part of
the sheeting of which had been removed by the Russians, leaving the end
on the side of the British untouched. Had this artful contrivance not
been discovered, the troops would doubtless have suffered fearfully in
their attempt to pass over the bridge. Its restoration was of great
service, as it enabled the whole of the baggage to be up with the army
the same evening. For six hours there was an uninterrupted stream of
well-laden carts and other vehicles crossing it, which tested to the
utmost the efficiency of its renewal, and corroborated in part the
encomium of Captain Montagu that it was “done right well and very
quickly.” The fourth company was stationed about a quarter of a mile
away from the Alma, and the third was with the baggage in rear.

On the night of the 20th the companies bivouacked on the site of the
battle, where one of the privates, worn out by disease and fatigue,
covered himself with his blanket and died. Resuming the march, the
allies passed the Katscha on the 23rd September, on which day the third
company, attached to the head-quarters of the army, was reinforced by
the arrival from Woolwich of 66 non-commissioned officers and men under
Captain W. M. Inglis of the royal engineers. Two days later the march
was continued across the Belbec, and on the 26th to Balaklava by a bold
flank movement through a difficult and thickly-wooded country. Sir John
Burgoyne passed a night in bivouac with the company, and all that could
be got for him to rest upon was an old door. Upon that the aged warrior
stretched himself with a composure and satisfaction that showed how well
he had braced himself to the vicissitudes and hardships of war. On the
way the baggage of a Russian division, spreading over a vast extent of
road, fell a prize to the British army. The third company was hurried to
the front with artillery to remove it, and tumbling the waggons over the
hill they broke in fragments in the valley. When the army pushed
forward, the third company remained, blew up a magazine of thirteen
barrels of gunpowder which was found with the train of baggage, and then
hastened to Balaklava. All the companies arrived there on the 27th
September, and were at once disposed of in making roads, sinking wells,
and repairing shattered waggons, while the third company made good a
rough pier at Balaklava, at which were landed the heavy ordnance,
ammunition, and siege stores.

The royal engineers formed their encampment on the S.S.E. of the harbour
of Balaklava, whither the siege material was conveyed. With great
promptitude, guns and ammunition, gabions, fascines, sand-bags, and
tools of all descriptions, unsurpassed in magnitude, were collected, and
then despatched to the depôt about four miles nearer to the scene of

By the 30th September a strong force of sappers moved to the ground, and
soon commenced those services which the public, too enthusiastic in its
anticipations, expected would reduce a fortress of unexampled strength
in a few days. Full twenty days the company were without tents, their
camp equipage having been left in the ships which conveyed the sappers
from the shores of Bulgaria; and, exposed as they were in bivouac to the
damp and chills of night, many robust and able men fell a prey to
cholera at Balaklava, or predisposed, by these early trials and rigours,
to disease, were struck down by suffering and exhaustion in the camp
before Sebastopol.

Next night some sappers, pushed forward under their officers, assisted
to examine the ground in front of the fortress towards Chersonese Bay;
and although at times within rifle-range of the walls, were unmolested
by the Russians. It was at first intended that the English troops should
occupy this position, but in consequence of the tools of our allies
being too light to carry out the heavy intrenchments assigned to them on
the right, the disposition of the forces was altered to adapt them to
the situations for which their material seemed to render them adequate.
This change in the arrangements was followed by the preliminary duty of
tracing the sites of the required trenches and batteries inland, in
which some sappers were permitted to participate.

Among those who first left the camp to reconnoitre were lance-corporal
McKimm and private Jenkins, in whose resolution and discipline reliance
could be placed. They were apt men and sufficiently acute in
comprehending orders not to worry their officers with strings of
fatiguing questions about small details; and such was their stamp and
bearing, they were not likely, in danger, to leave their officer
unshielded. To Captain Montagu’s party of six sappers they were
attached. In the darkness of the morning of the 1st October, the whole
moved on in advance of the outlying pickets for nearly a mile and
a-half, and quietly and in whispers, wandered over a country guarded by
pickets in ambuscades as yet unknown. On their way they passed some
posts which were alive with Cossacks, one of which they unwittingly
approached so closely, that a couple of shots were fired at them. This
was simply tendered as a warning to depart, for the Cossacks made no
attempt to follow the explorers, and so continuing to give the points of
ground and intersections to the Captain to enable him to form his sketch
of the position of the left attack, the delineation was, in three or
four hours, finished. With a careful pace yielding no perceptible sound,
and a sharp look out, the party in returning crossed hill and ravine and
passed pickets and sentries, reaching the camp safely at six o’clock in
the morning.

It being necessary to despatch the mail from the first division at
Balaklava to that of General Cathcart’s on the heights S.W. of
Sebastopol, corporal John McQueen and private James Brennan volunteered
for the duty. Cheerfully they jogged along the lonely road, and having
delivered the letters at the camp commenced to return with that easy
_abandon_ so becoming soldiers. McQueen had been out on a coasting
expedition, and prided himself with the belief that because he knew
Sebastopol from the sea, he must as a consequence know every step of the
road to Balaklava. He, however, soon found out his mistake. Losing their
way, the letter-carriers struck on a road which took them into the
Picket House ravine, up which they strode at a steady pace, straining
their eyes through the darkness to discover a clue which should
enlighten them as to their situation. Presently they were hounded by
some dogs led on by a horseman with a glimmering lamp attached to his
girdle. Luckily a cavern was near, and the sappers bounding into it, the
dogs and the Cossack passed on. Allowing sufficient time to elapse to
confuse the rider and his canine attendants, the comrades emerged from
the cave, and regaining the road, turned in the direction of Sebastopol,
impressed with the conviction that they had taken the correct route for
the port. Allured by a fire which was burning on the hill to the left of
the ravine, they began to ascend the slope to join the picket—supposed
to be a Turkish one—who, grouped around the blazing sticks, were
enjoying their pipes—an enviable pastime in which McQueen was anxious to
participate. The night was still black; nothing could be seen,
especially in the valley, for the picket-fire spread its capricious
illumination over so small an area, that beyond the guard, the faint
outline of objects only could be traced, and a little further on the
dimness thickened into impenetrable darkness. So, suddenly coming on a
pair of sentries concealed under some overhanging rocks, the sappers as
suddenly stopped without losing their coolness. “Give me light, Turco?”
said McQueen, placing a pipe between his teeth and pressing its bowl
near the sentry’s chibouk. The sentry shrunk back: he was a Russian; and
without word or challenge, in a moment the bayonet flashed, and the next
it was plunged through the corporal’s body, while the companion sentry
stabbed Brennan in the left shoulder. At the instant McQueen shot up in
the air, then fell; but deadly wounded as he was, his entrails bursting
through the puncture, he started from the ground, and, accompanied by
Brennan, both ran at a furious speed pursued by the swift-footed
sentinels. A wide ditch interrupted their course, into which McQueen and
Brennan tumbled, but the cowardly Russians—for such they were to attack
two unarmed men—gave up the pursuit.

McQueen moved not from the spot where he fell, for the shock he had
received had doubled him up, and though his agonies were deep, he
retained his consciousness. Brennan, suffering himself, set to work to
alleviate, if possible, those mortal pains which at times made the
corporal writhe and groan. His hand came on a well of blood, which told
him, if the flow were not immediately stopped, the closing scene would
soon be over. His plan of action in this extremity was quickly fixed,
and taking off his shirt he tore it in strips, and tying them into one
length bound it round his comrade. This, however, was not enough, for
the blood still oozed through the bandage, and tearing away as much as
he could of the corporal’s shirt without increasing his pangs, he
knotted this also, as he added shred to shred, and plied it over the
wound. This was the most he could do, except to encourage his spirit to
bear the trial with the manliness his comrades would expect to hear he
had exercised. “My head feels cold,” said he faintly. Both had lost
their caps in the violent run they made to the ditch. Brennan instantly
took off his coatee and turbaned it round the poor fellow’s head. “Here
is a little bag with fourteen shillings in it,” said the corporal, as he
released it from his neck. “Give it to my wife. It will never be my
happiness to see her or the children.” This he said with an affectionate
but choked utterance. “Tell her,” he added in a stronger voice, “I’m
sorry I shall not see Sebastopol fall.”

“Why not? there’s plenty of skill in the camp to cure you,” returned
Brennan in a tone of mingled sympathy and confidence.

But McQueen had become absorbed in his thoughts, and his agonies giving
him but little disposition and energy to hear with attention anything
that Brennan might say, the latter proposed to reconnoitre in the hope
of discovering some means of bringing in succour or of escaping. The
corporal assented, and Brennan stole away bare to the waist with a
streaming wound bitten by the cold of a raw night. The battery above
them was an earthen one well armed, but no gunners were in it. From its
ditch he proceeded by a sort of ramp towards the Garden batteries, and
came upon a strong structure built, as it seemed, out of a ship’s side.
It was near the Flag-staff battery, and mounted many guns, forty-five of
which he counted—some of very large calibre. Clear it was that he was in
the heart of the Russian outworks. In that direction there was no
escape, and as every step towards the creek bore the aspect of seeking
danger when there was still a chance of evading it, he returned to the
ditch, and threw himself by the side of the corporal. Time wore on
sluggishly; moments were minutes, minutes hours. At length the morning
broke; still he waited till it had sufficiently opened, to guide
himself, to the best of his reason, aright; when, gathering up the
wounded man, he bore him in his arms to a broken wall in front of a
wine-press where had lived a Scotchman for more than twenty years before
the war had driven him from his chosen homestead. Here Brennan,
overpowered, laid down his comrade, for he was a massive man and deadly
heavy. Concealing him in a secure place, and binding up his head with a
handkerchief, Brennan dressed himself again in his worn coatee, and
darted off for assistance, keeping well under the rocks which, overgrown
with broom and wild vegetation, helped to cover him from observation. At
last he made the bend of the ravine, and climbing up the steep, gained
the top, where, crawling onwards among the heather and scrub he saw at
the back of the hill the red points of six English tents—distant about
fifty yards. It was a grateful sight, but he had not time fully to enjoy
it; and so dashing up to the encampment, breathlessly demanded help for
his suffering comrade. A few words to explain the nature of the painful
adventure which had occasioned his unexpected appearance was more than
enough for the officer of the 60th rifles in command. With two men of
his regiment bearing a stretcher they hastened along the ravine guided
by Brennan, now running, now walking to recover breath. It was a bright
morning; hazard was in every step, but the errand was one of humanity,
and they pushed on. At length they made the broken wall, from whence
they carried the corporal for more than two miles to the tents of the
rifle guard. In a few minutes medical aid was doing its best for the
sufferer, but though his wounds were laved and dressed, the air had
caught his torn bowels and gangrene was irretrievably at work. He was
now borne to the camp at Balaklava, where, gradually sinking, he was the
first of the siege army to die by the hand of the enemy before

Meanwhile a party of twelve armed sappers, with sergeant James H. Drew,
directed by Lieutenant Ravenhill of the royal engineers, repaired to the
Inkermann ravine, and cut off the main aqueduct which supplied the docks
in the Karabelnaia with water. This was known as Upton’s aqueduct. It
was situated in a hollow of the plain which stretched onwards, and at
its extremity were some well-appointed horsemen or Cossacks watching for
chances to display their prowess. When they retired, the sappers,
concealed by some bushes which clothed the slopes of the valley, crept
from the underwood and stole on to the reservoir, advancing two sentries
to look out from among some trees to give warning of impending peril.
The sluice of the aqueduct was arched with stone. All the machinery by
which it was manipulated was destroyed; the gate driven into the channel
to stop the supply, and coping-stones, key-bricks, and earth jammed into
the well and against the now useless gate. Without opposition the
demolition was effected, and the little party returned to camp after
being out seven hours in this preliminary adventure.

Charged with the right attack, the British held the position which
approached the Tchernaya valley, while the French spread in a curve to
the left, as far almost as Chersonese Bay. The ground was a sterile
waste, wild, rocky, and undulated; bleak in winter, burning in summer.
Sir John Burgoyne conducted the British portion of the siege, supported
by Colonel Alexander, Major J. W. Gordon, and many officers of the
corps. Colonel Alexander, from overwork and anxiety, soon died, and the
executive direction of the works devolved on Major Gordon. In time the
veteran engineer Sir John Burgoyne, recalled to England to discharge the
responsible duties of his home appointment, was succeeded by
Major-General Jones, who had received honour and promotion for his
distinguished services in the capture and destruction of Bomarsund.
Major, now Colonel, Gordon commanded the companies in the Crimea as a
regiment; Captain, now Major, C. B. Ewart filled the appointment of
adjutant, and Lieutenant A. Leahy that of quartermaster, afterwards that
of Deputy-Assistant Quartermaster-General.

The British force was divided into two attacks, called “right”[157] and
“left,”[158] their contiguity being broken by a deep ravine through
which passed the Woronzoff road. The right abutted on the heights
overlooking the middle ravine, and the left leaned away to the position
of the allies, but separated from it by the precipitous sides of the
Picket House ravine, which debouched on the head of the inner harbour.
No longer attached to divisions, the fourth, eighth, and tenth companies
of sappers were appointed to the right, and the third and eleventh
companies to the left. The united strength of the companies amounted to
a force of about 386 non-commissioned officers and men, 32 of whom were
sick and 21 at Balaklava. On the high road leading from Sebastopol, and
near the windmill, was stationed the engineer depôt for the right
attack; while that for the left occupied an area in rear of the third
division, on a plateau adjacent to the artillery depôt. At both the
parks, the carpenters, sawyers, and blacksmiths of the companies carried
on the mechanical requirements of the operation unprotected from the
weather, or at best in scanty sheds of the most primitive character. In
order that the sappers might be easily distinguished in the trenches,
they were ordered to wear a band of white tracing tape round the

The strength of the brigades of sappers altogether depended upon the
exigencies of the duty, and the numbers available for work. As a general
rule, however, each brigade of sappers comprised a non-commissioned
officer and eight privates; and each brigade of carpenters a
non-commissioned officer and three privates. Whatever may have been the
changes in the distribution of the men, there were seldom less at work,
on the right, than three brigades of sappers and two of carpenters by
day; and two of sappers and one of carpenters by night; while on the
left, where a diminished force was employed, the arrangements only
permitted for the daily routine two brigades of sappers and one of
carpenters; and, for the night duty, one brigade of each.

Usually, the brigade remained twelve hours in the trenches, being
relieved at daybreak and soon after dusk; but this period of duty, on
many occasions, was necessarily prolonged, when any pressure required
particular works to be completed in haste. Some of the most reliable men
were on duty in the front eight nights out of nine. Fatigue and sickness
caused very inconvenient fluctuations in the numbers disposable for the
operation; but when less vigour was demanded in the formation of the
lines, the men were relieved from duty in the trenches for three or four
days at a time—the interval being filled up with labours in the camp,
and in the performance of a variety of services subsidiary to the siege.

At nightfall, on the 8th October, ground was broken before Sebastopol.
It commenced at the Greenhill battery left attack; and on the right
attack at the 5-gun battery in front of Victoria hill, and at the
picket-house for the right Lancaster-gun. By order of Lord Raglan, the
working-parties, after receiving the necessary tools and instructions,
were marched from the park, guided by engineer officers and sappers, to
the trenches. This proceeding was followed throughout the siege; and it
was also a practice to send both sappers and operatives into the
batteries unarmed, to prevent the paramount work of the lines being
neglected for the more natural one of resorting, on any slight instance
of alarm, to measures of personal defence.

Acting as overseers, it was the province of the sappers and miners to
instruct the line and the Turks in forming the trenches and batteries,
attending themselves to the more constructive portions of the works
requiring art and skill;—such as laying the gabions, fascines,
sand-bags, and platforms; erecting the splinter-proof magazines, and
sloping and lining the embrasures. Formidable obstacles occasionally
offered serious impediments to the progress of the excavations, for the
soil was rocky: to overcome the difficulties, the sappers led the way
with an earnestness and zeal that stimulated the workmen to activity and
exertion; but such was the sacrifice of useful energy, that many a brave
fellow, already enfeebled by overwork, scanty rations, and hard weather,
faltered from the trenches never more to return.

Singular as it may appear, the sappers at first were somewhat at a loss
in carrying out their more ordinary duties. The details were easy enough
in peaceful practice; but in a siege where every effort required the
utmost care and caution to make the work strong and durable and to avoid
danger, it was much more difficult. A little earnest experience however
in actual conflict, taught them the secrets of their art, gave them
confidence and cunning, and rendered them, as far as their numbers
permitted, quite equal to the emergencies of the enterprise.

Everywhere the lines continued to be prosecuted with commendable
rapidity, and to claim even the fastidious attention of the sappers with
regard to the smoothness and accuracy of the slopes of the interior
revetments and the sharpness of the angles. The Madras platforms, to
which a high reputation was attached, were quickly laid for the general
siege-pieces, and common ones were fixed for the naval guns. There were
times, however, when, from the guiding sappers missing their way to the
appointed hill, the works were somewhat retarded in their execution. An
instance of this kind occurred on the 10th October, when some sappers,
sent to throw up a battery in front of the right of the light division,
could not discover the position. The night was densely dark, foggy, and
close. For more than two hours they endeavoured to find the points
marked previously by Major Gordon, but finally seeing the fruitlessness
of their efforts, they quitted the front and returned to camp. The
working parties were retained in rear under cover; the only men exposed
on the hill-top that night were two captains of engineers, and sergeant
Coppin and lance-corporals Stupple and Kerr.

A more serious mistake occurred, the next night. Ground had been broken
at eight o’clock by a working party of 400 men on the brow of a hill to
the left of the light division. Sergeant Joseph Morant, who had received
instructions as to the direction he was to take to reach the work,
started at midnight with seventeen sappers to relieve the men of the
corps whose tour of night-duty had expired. Marching along the Woronzoff
ravine, he passed a huge boulder on which was carved a cross, and
shortly after reached a large shell which had stuck in the middle of the
road. These, for want of better indications, were two of the points on
which he relied for the accuracy of his course. Having still to press on
for another half-mile and more, and the night being dark, he missed the
hollow up which he was to move to the site of the parallel. On he went
with his men, when, seeing at length on either height a picquet, he
hesitated under an impression he had gone too far; but private George
Harvey, apparently priding himself upon his knowledge of the locality,
persisted in saying that the picquets were British. Unable to trust to
his own sight, for his vision was defective, the sergeant, thus assured,
pushed forward steadily with the party, till he observed a few yards in
his front, an outpost drawn up across the road. The sappers now halted,
and the two parties strained their eyes in surprise at this unexpected
proximity. Morant, who was intently looking about him, struck against a
wooden pillar of some altitude, streaked with painted bands of alternate
black and white-supposed to be a milestone. By this his conviction was
settled that the Russians were facing him. Alarmed at the visit, the
enemy’s picquet fell back on the main body, and Morant just then gave
orders for his men, who were unarmed, to retire stealthily. This was
done for a short distance, when turning about, the whole batch, as if
winged for the occasion, run the gauntlet for their lives between the
two hill picquets, relieving themselves as they fled of such
encumbrances as were likely to impede their haste. In this way their
greatcoats and wooden canteens, in part, were left behind; and as the
distance between the parties was inconsiderable, and the fire from the
different picquets sharp upon the sappers, it is somewhat extraordinary,
that not a man was wounded so as to draw blood, Several had their
greatcoats, trousers and jackets perforated or torn by bullets, and a
few were grazed on the legs and arms, while the sergeant had a choice
lock of his hair clipped off, and a slight touch in the cartilage of the
left ear.[159]

This mishap was not without advantage, for it frustrated the execution
of a sortie which was then preparing. From the flashes of the Russian
fire, strong battalions of infantry could be seen moving towards our
works, to repel which the second and light divisions at once turned out;
the riflemen too, always ready, poured a destructive fusillade into the
advancing battalions, and the artillery, never from their posts, saluted
them with volleys of shot and shell. For nearly an hour the combat
lasted, when the enemy, flying before the rush and cheer of the 88th,
took shelter under the walls of the fortress, keeping up, however, for
the rest of the night, a desultory fire upon the works. The loss in the
trenches was trifling, and our batteries, which were much exposed,
remained intact.

Notwithstanding this attack, the new battery was considerably advanced
in its construction before the morning, for no less than 840 gabions had
been laid in it during the night by lance-corporal George H. Collins.

A few nights after the mishap stated above, the non-commissioned officer
just named was selected to conduct a working party to the 21-gun
battery. It was exceedingly dark, and the men moved on cautiously. The
“valley of the shadow of death” had been crossed; the picket-house
passed; indeed the greater part of the journey had been marched when the
field-officer in charge expressed his doubts that the proper track had
been taken. To remove the officer’s misgivings and to prove the
correctness of his own conduct, the corporal offered to go alone to the
battery, which, regarded as the wiser course, was at once approved of.
Off started the guide, and having reassured himself by a visit to the
work, that his direction was right, returned to the officer within a
quarter of an hour. To regain the party was more difficult than he
anticipated. He knew not the relative position of the point where the
halt was called, and on coming back bore away to the right about 200
yards. He judged by the time he was absent that he must be near the
workmen, and so hailing them by whistling signals, which were recognized
and answered, he was extricated from a dilemma it would probably have
taken the night to solve. Satisfied with the integrity of his guide, the
field-officer now readily moved on the column as Collins led, and soon
reached the battery. The work was afterwards known by the name of the
“Gordon Battery.”

By the 16th October the vigilance of the working parties had placed the
lines in so forward a state that, on the following evening, orders were
issued to the troops respecting the bombardment. No exertions were
spared throughout the night to complete the works in every detail, and
the sappers, being told off into storming parties of twenty men each
under an officer of the corps, were attached to the several divisions of
the army to lead the way in any enterprise in which their professional
services might be demanded. For this purpose they were furnished with
picks and shovels to form lodgments; crowbars, felling-axes, and
sledge-hammers to remove impediments; bags of gunpowder for blowing in
gates; and scaling ladders with which to storm walls and towers.

Eight or more distinct works had been erected, mounting above sixty
guns, including Lancasters, which, during the siege, were increased or
diminished according to circumstances. They were connected with a line
of excavations exceeding a mile in length on the right, and 1,200 yards
on the left, including deviations offered for acceptance by the
undulations of the hills. The chief batteries—named after the officers
of engineers who superintended their construction, held a position on
the heights at a distance exceeding 1,350 yards from the Russian lines,
while the French, working in easy soil, pushed up much nearer to the
fortress by the usual process of sapping and mining. On the part of the
English the plan of attack was necessarily a departure from recognized
rules, owing to the rocky character of the ground and the deep glens
which separated the works.

On the morning of the 17th, there were, including the sick, 351
non-commissioned officers and men in camp and in the trenches. As many
as could possibly be collected were sent to the batteries to share in
the first day’s bombardment. Under cover of the darkness, the embrasures
of the batteries, blinded with gabions, were quickly unmasked by the
sappers, and before the dawn had fairly opened, sixty-three guns belched
their fire upon the fortress. By a preconcerted signal the French,
hurling destruction from fifty-six pieces of ordnance, commenced the
siege simultaneously with the English, and the allied navies took part
in the contest. This was the first day’s firing on the part of the
besiegers; and although the garrison kept up a warm cannonade upon the
allies from the moment that any show was made in the construction of the
trenches, the Anglo-French never once attempted, by the discharge of a
single piece of ordnance, to lessen the interference of the enemy, or to
interrupt the progress of their defences.

From both sides the cannonade was continued with more or less vigour
according to the nature of events, and the result evidenced only too
plainly the devastating effect of the firing. Our batteries were much
damaged; those of the allies were scattered, whilst two of their
magazines blew up with mournful results. The works of the enemy were in
some places almost demolished: their firing varied as they found cover
to stand to the guns; but the day’s fury was at length terminated by the
terrific explosion of a magazine behind an earthen redoubt, which threw
a feeling of awe even among the besiegers. There was much skill,
however, in the Russian engineers, and before morning, by extraordinary
exertion, the works were restored and replaced with guns. No less
energetic were the English sappers in strengthening the lines and
repairing the batteries; for although erected with admirable solidity,
the shells from the fortress ploughed up the works and tore down the
embrasures. In all such cases, if the restoration could not be deferred
till night, the sappers, with a daring equal to their usefulness, would
spring into the openings, and while exposed to the hottest of the fire,
make good the breaches. One of the bravest and best in this exposed
service was corporal John Paul. Fortunately, in the early stages of the
siege, repairs in open day were seldom imperative. The damages done in
the day by the cannonading of 155 guns were expeditiously made good at
night; and so efficiently, that each morning the batteries stood up as
compact and bold as they did before the firing opened on the 17th

After the first day’s firing, Sir John Burgoyne thus wrote to the
Commander-in-chief. “I would call Lord Raglan’s attention to the great
and successful exertions of the royal engineers and sappers under very
trying circumstances. The very rocky soil presents the extreme of
difficulties to the establishment of trenches and batteries; the very
act of obtaining cover in one night in such soil, which was done on
every occasion, requires a great effort, and to construct in it
substantial batteries, still more.

“The proportion of good platforms and stuff for magazines embarked, was
too insignificant to be worthy of notice: these objects had to be
prepared (and for a very heavy description of ordnance) from the
irregular masses of timber and plank that could be procured from
buildings pulled down. Notwithstanding all these difficulties, the work
has been pushed on with rapidity, the substantial nature of the parapet
has been proved by the few casualties incurred, and the embrasures and
platforms have required, during the very heavy cannonade of yesterday,
less repairs and adjustment than I have ever been witness to on similar
occasions; and no accident has occurred to any magazine, although some
shells have been observed to explode on them, all proving the
substantial goodness of the works performed.”


Footnote 157:

  Familiarly and indiscriminately called “Gordon’s battery or parallel,”
  “21-gun battery,” or “Frenchman’s Hill.”

Footnote 158:

  Called “Chapman’s battery or parallel,” or “Green-hill.”

Footnote 159:

  On the 18th October a 15-inch shell, termed “Whistling Dick,” struck
  the roof of a magazine in the 21-gun battery, and, in exploding,
  knocked down sergeant Morant and corporal George Pearson, burying them
  under a heap of sand-bags. The corporal soon struggled to his feet,
  but the sergeant, more severely stunned, was pulled from the mass by
  Lieutenant Murray of the engineers.

                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.
                      18th October-31st December.

A corporal guides the field officer to the 21-gun battery in open
  day—The last shot—Two sappers mend a gap of some magnitude in a
  mortar battery—Scarcity of soil and materials for carrying
  on the works—Picket-house battery—Mishap to a tracing
  party—Platforms—Magazines—A detachment with arabas moves from the
  valley during the battle of Balaklava—Private Lancaster the only
  sapper engaged in it—Steady conduct of the sappers at the platforms
  during Sir De Lacy Evans’s combat—Battle of Inkermann—A corporal
  gallantly alters the splay of an embrasure while the fight
  rages—Sappers trench the road leading to the heights from the
  harbour—Two privates repair an embrasure under a severe fire—Submarine
  divers—Progress of the works—Hurricane of the 14th November; wreck of
  the ‘Prince’—and the ‘Rip Van Winkle’—Effects of the storm on
  shore—Lines of Inkermann—Mode of proceeding with the construction of
  the general works—Strength of corps at the siege and detached—Field
  electric telegraph—Sergeant Anderson—Casualties—Sergeant Drew—Arrival
  of second company; its colour-sergeant taken for a Pacha—Incentives to
  induce the Turks to work—The Navvies—Army Works Corps—The sappers,
  though under a seeming cloud, are upheld by a vigorous vindication in

Next day the bombardment continued to rage, and Colonel Hood of the
Grenadier Guards, the field-officer of the trenches on the right attack,
was killed. He was succeeded by Colonel Walker of the Scots’ Fusilier
Guards. Corporal George H. Collins, chosen as a sure guide, went off
with the colonel, passing from the engineer park by the sailor’s camp
into the ravine. They then took the Woronzoff road at a run for nearly
half-a-mile, and arrived at the foot of a rocky watercourse leading to
the hill on which was situated the 21-gun battery, where the colonel
dismissed the corporal, and dashed on alone into the work. In going,
shot and shell fell furiously into the valley, requiring a sharp
look-out to keep clear of splinters. It was even worse in returning; for
as the corporal’s back was turned to the fire, he barely allowed himself
time to see what were his chances of life and death. Considering that
his risks increased by delay, he bounded along the tortuous and broken
road, stopping now and then to take breath and cover under some low
rocks which jutted from the hill side; and then, pushing up the other
slope of the ravine, marched into the camp unhurt. One might have
thought that a service of this nature would have excused the corporal
from a tour in the trenches; but such was the pressure for sappers, it
could not be. At night he was on duty in the Gordon parallel, and four
days later was grazed in the back by a shot, which, after striking the
earth, rushed past him, and knocked him senseless.[160] He was
superintending at the time a party working in the right Lancaster
battery, clearing away the rock for a platform.

Lance-corporal Rinhy, a ready and spirited sapper, was in No. 3 battery
of the left attack on the 19th. Well had he worked that day in the
embrasures; and at dusk, as the order was given to cease the cannonade,
he went up to No. 6 gun to see the _last_ shot fired. The sailors manned
the gun, loading it with a Russian 26-pounder ball, which had hopped
among the shot piled in rear of the parapet. The ball stuck in the
muzzle, and while Rinhy and the seamen were vainly trying to withdraw
it, another shot whisked through the embrasure, cut the man-o’-war’s man
in two, and striking the trunnion from the gun, the 24-pounder fell and
smashed the sailor underneath it. The same shot passed so close to
Rinhy, that it rasped a button from his jacket, and the ferocity of its
wind knocked him against a traverse some five yards away. In the same
battery, two or three days later, he repaired an embrasure no less than
twenty-one times during his tour of duty, and kept the cheeks in such
serviceable order, that the 68-pounder which fired there, discharged
before nightfall as many as 198 shells and 84 shot into the Russian
works, dismounting, according to nautical calculation, no less than six
guns in the Redan.

Private William Denham was killed this day, while repairing a platform
in the 21-gun battery. A shot carried away the back of his head.

Among the instances of well employed zeal that occurred in this
bombardment, was one in which privates Jenkins and John Wallace
signalized themselves under the eye of Major Biddulph, of the artillery,
assistant engineer. They were stationed on the 22nd in No. 3 battery
left attack, against which the fire of several guns was concentrated
with so ruinous an effect, that about fourteen feet of the parapet was
broken down before ten o’clock in the morning. To venture into so
exposed a gap in broad day, under a frightful fire, needed a courage
which few men could prevail on themselves to exercise; but with a
willing promptitude which spoke of their resolution and daring, these
two stern sappers passed into the breach, each working for a quarter of
an hour at a spell, with the strength of a giant. In seven hours the
damage was mended, during which the battery continued in action, though
a mortar or two was necessarily silent until sufficient cover was
obtained to shield the seamen fighting there.

Everywhere the soil was scanty, and the materials for gaining cover
scarce. The few houses that existed in the vicinity of the camp had
early been demolished, and the old timbers borne away for fuel.
Brushwood and young trees, wherever they could be found, were also taken
away; and when the cold became extreme, and the ration wood reduced to a
few sticks, the ground was turned over in every direction, by perishing
men, to collect the roots for firing. Earth was brought from the rear,
in baskets, to fill the gabions; and sand-bags, ready for use, were also
brought from the park, or wherever the earth could readily be obtained.
As they frequently caught fire and burst on the explosion of the guns, a
substitute was found for a time by making the bags from the skins of
sheep and from bullocks’ hides, which stood remarkably well, but they
could not be procured in sufficient quantity for the work. The inner
necks of the embrasures were revetted with sand-bags and the cheeks
lined with fascines. The basis of all the works was the gabion. In
places not opposed by artillery, stones were used for lining the
trenches, which gave them the appearance of ancient walls. The traverses
were revetted with old gabions, discarded casks, worn biscuit-bags from
the fleet, and ammunition cases. Indeed every material was pressed into
the siege that could be turned by ingenuity to any useful purpose. On
all sides the works exhibited a curious employment of rude expedients
and adaptations to meet the straits and difficulties of an unexampled

With all these shifts, from the inadequacy of material resources to
carry on the works, such was the recklessness of the soldiers in seeking
means to afford them a modicum of comfort, that the sand-bags were
constantly abstracted from the trenches to line their trousers and
gaiter their legs; and when wood could not be readily procured, they
made no scruple in frosty weather, of purloining fascines and gabions to
light their fires. Mandates against such practices were disregarded, and
vigilance was no match for men driven by cold to such extremities.

On the 24th October, a battery for three guns and a 10-inch mortar was
opened on the left above the picket-house to destroy a two-decker lying
snugly in the inner harbour. A few red-hot shot being sent into her, she
hastily moved off, and the battery was quickly turned to swell the
general armament against the enemy’s land works.

The same night two privates were out in some advanced works tracing a
battery under Major Gordon. When returning by a whistle-signal from the
Major, they were mistaken for Russians, and fired upon by a party of the
79th Highlanders. The result was that private James Bland, a good
sapper, was struck down by a rifle-shot which passed through both his

It was not long before the Madras traversing platform, considered to be
the specific for a great siege, was shown to be a failure. From the hard
and uneven bottom of the trench the platforms were, to save them from
injury and secure their efficiency, laid upon sand-bags well tamped, but
the violent and sudden action of the guns in their recoil shivered the
platforms to pieces. A rude substitute was expeditiously furnished by
tearing down some dilapidated wooden houses in the neighbourhood of the
camp; and resorting to the old expedient of sleepers and floors, the
platforms, so prepared by the sapper carpenters, were found to be far
less liable to derangement than the engineering-exotic from Madras.

While the Russians and our allies experienced very heavy losses in the
destruction of their magazines, no accident whatever occurred to the
English powder-magazines, “although more than once exposed to the test
of the fall and explosion of a 12-inch shell.”[161] Offering, as the
record does, a tribute of credit to the efficiency of the contrivance,
it is no less a testimonial to the skill of the sappers, who, in
consequence of the special nature of the service, constructed the
magazines themselves. The magazines on the left were constructed on the
established model, in places assigned to them by the old engineers, but
on the right the ammunition was dispersed in sheltered spots in small
receptacles attached to the parapets of the different batteries. The
large depôts of ammunition were formed in the caves of the neighbouring
ravine; and all the magazines were well protected by sand-bags.

On the 25th October was fought the memorable cavalry combat at
Balaklava. Sergeant Joseph Morant and six privates, having in charge
thirty Turkish arabas drawn by sixty bullocks, had nearly passed the
valley with the train when the fight commenced. The escort was moving to
the port for stores, and several of the waggons still within the
boundary of the battlefield, were swept and pierced by shots from the
Russian artillery. As this was no place for a cumbersome train of
conveyances, Morant and his men goaded and whooped on the oxen to
Balaklava; and speedily loading the arabas, returned, after the action,
to the engineer park in front of Sebastopol. These seven sappers and
eleven others who were in the vicinity of the battle, were honoured with
the distinction of the Balaklava clasp.

There was only one sapper actually engaged in the battle. Sir Colin
Campbell, anticipating an attack, ordered an able sapper to be sent to
the Turkish redoubts to superintend any repairs that might be needed.
Sergeant Dickson despatched private James Lancaster for the duty. At
five o’clock on the evening of the 24th, he arrived at No. 4 redoubt,
situated close under the hills of the plateau where the corps
d’observation of General Bosquet was encamped. All night Lancaster
worked with the Turks in strengthening the faces of the redoubt; and in
the morning stretched himself in a shallow trench to take a little
sleep. He had not long covered himself with a tarpaulin—a cold
substitute for a blanket—when the Russians attacked No. 1 redoubt, which
was a considerable distance from No. 4. Instantly awakened by some
Turks, who seemingly wanted an Englishman to keep alive in them the
little valour they possessed, he was quickly among them. There was also
a British artilleryman in the redoubt, with whom the sapper, sharing the
kin of country, behaved as became their national prestige. While the
cannonading was doing its work on No. 1, a Russian battery pushed up to
a height opposite No. 4, and opened its guns on No. 3. The attack was
sharp, but the Turks wanting spirit and firmness, made a weak defence,
and flew from the fort. In time Nos. 1, 2, and 3 were taken. When the
guns in No. 3 were silenced, the Russian battery increased its fire on
No. 4, which answering with an energy probably emboldened by the
nearness of supports, checked the enemy in his career of success; and
though No. 4 might easily have been captured, it escaped the fate which
sealed the others. It is due to the gallantry of the Turks in No. 4 to
acknowledge that while many of the infantry vaulted in alarm over the
parapet at the first blush of the fight, and ran from the opportunity to
cover themselves with honour, there were not wanting stanch
artillerists, firm and courageous, to stand to the guns; and, as
instructed by the British gunner, to work them manfully. The Pasha in
command was an old but a brave officer, and his worst trouble was to
beat back the flying Turks to join in the defence. The enemy now
commenced another movement by collecting on the heights overlooking the
plain between the redoubts, the whole strength of his cavalry—a solid
menacing body, which in its heaviness threatened that day to strike a
decisive blow. Meanwhile the Turks in No. 4, regarding any display of
courage on their part as useless, and their position untenable, withdrew
the two guns to the rear, halting them on the crest of a slope; and
after spiking the ordnance and breaking the spokes of the wheels and the
shafts of the carriages, tumbled them into the valley. The garrison then
retired to the position where the Highlanders were drawn up. The
artilleryman and sapper stood by the Turks to the last, but in the
retreat each took a different direction. While sitting in the valley a
short distance from the redoubt, Lords Lucan and Cardigan with their
staff galloped up to the sapper, and grouped round him. Learning the
cause of his presence there, he was asked what he knew of the attack.
Lancaster answered to the effect that two of the forts had already been
taken, and the others, having been abandoned, would, he feared, soon
follow. Away rode the commanders and the staff; the trumpets sounded,
and removing the cavalry behind a mound, soon after occurred those
cavalry dispositions, and that extraordinary conflict, which prevented
the Russians from pouring into Balaklava, and capturing the great base
of the allied operations. Private Lancaster succeeded in making good his
retreat, under a heavy fire, without mischance.

Neglecting to erect earth-works to defend the right of the position
towards Inkermann led to an attack by the Russians, which was met and
repulsed with vigour on the 26th October, by the division under the
command of Sir De Lacy Evans. The sappers turned out and marched to
Victoria Hill, in readiness, if required, to take part in the action. A
portion of them was posted behind a rubble wall in “Water” Valley, which
was loopholed during the fight; and four men were in the 5-gun battery.
The usual parties were also distributed to the trenches, working away in
the different batteries as if the combat were at a distance. The fire on
the 21-gun battery was very sharp, but under its fierceness a brigade of
carpenters, directed by corporal Kester Knight, repaired a platform no
less than five times in the course of two hours. It was broken each time
by the heavy recoil of the gun. Once, while mending it, a shot plunged
through the embrasure and shattered a wheel of the carriage; but looking
upon the incident almost as one of the civilities of the siege, the
carpenters continued to work vigorously till they had obtained something
like the desired solidity.

Another attack followed on the 5th November, in which the English and
French, numbering about 14,000 bayonets, were opposed by an army of
nearly 60,000 fighting men. For upwards of ten hours the conflict
lasted, and ended in a victory to the allies, while the Russians, driven
from the hills at all points, took refuge in flight. The losses in the
Anglo-French ranks were very severe, but those of the enemy, incredible
as it may seem, far exceeded the total force of the allies engaged. This
splendid achievement, in which the soldiers stood against overwhelming
odds with unconquerable firmness and bravery, will ever rank in the
annals of war as one of the most remarkable struggles of modern times.
Occupied in the trenches, and forming a guard over the engineer park,
the sappers and miners did not fire a shot in either of the engagements.
They were, however, drawn up while the fight at Inkermann was raging,
prepared to defend the siege depôt had the Russians penetrated to the
engineer plateau. Being in position during the battle, the sappers and
miners have been considered entitled to the Inkermann decoration, and
341 non-commissioned officers and men of the corps present on the
occasion had the honour of receiving the clasp.

Though the night was thick and foggy, the Russian columns were seen
surging towards Inkermann from the Mamelon. None of our siege guns could
be brought to bear on them; and as it was considered an object of the
first moment to rake the masses, orders were given to alter the
embrasure of a gun in the old right Lancaster battery, beyond the right
of the first parallel. Lance-corporal Trimble, a young and agile
soldier, had charge of the two embrasures in the battery, and had with
him four men of the 47th regiment to assist in the repairs. No sooner
was the decision communicated to the corporal, than he leaped into the
opening, followed by his party. Gabions, barrels, fascines, and
sand-bags, quickly disappeared; all were thrown or pushed into the ditch
in front of the battery, as the readiest means of performing a service
from which so much was expected. Then commenced the reformation of the
splay by cutting away full half of the merlon on the right cheek, which
separated the 24-pounder from the Lancaster gun. When finished, the
embrasure had a skew form, with a widened mouth; but as the service was
pressing, and the artillerymen impatient—for twice did they stop the
work to try the effect of a few rounds—it could not be revetted, and the
parapet was necessarily left without a gabion to bank up the earth. The
47th men took a bold and active part in the service, and within an hour,
under a fire that would have made many a head reel, the corporal and his
men completed the alteration. Barely had they jumped from the opening,
when the gunners recommenced a cannonade from the Lancaster which made
deadly gaps in the Russian battalions, as in winding round the Mamelon
they retreated to their own lines. For their assistance in this hurried
duty, one or two of the linesmen were made corporals and decorated with
medals; and Trimble, though his rewards were deferred, was promoted to
be second-corporal, and honoured with a special gratuity of ten pounds
and medal for gallant conduct.

From the stern grandeur of the battle, it was not improbable the attack
would be repeated, when, in some degree, the Russians had recovered from
the shock. To render an approach less likely to succeed, Lieutenant
Ravenhill and a party of sappers repaired to the heights to destroy the
road winding from the head of Sebastopol harbour up the ravine to
Inkermann. This was simply as a first defensive resource, to be followed
by regularly planned works. The hill-top and its slopes were covered
with killed and wounded, among whom perhaps the sappers might have
performed any amount of duty without accident; but possessing a settled
distrust of the honour of the Russians, they first collected all the
arms they could see within sixty yards of their work, and broke them in
pieces. Thus relieved from a temptation to which the vanquished in their
hatred have been known treacherously to yield, the sappers moved to the
site of their work, and in eight hours dug a trench across the road
eight feet deep and twelve broad.

A few nights later, privates Charles Harris and Nicholas Garrett
revetted an embrasure in the 21-gun battery, which had been torn to
pieces in the early part of the morning. Shot and shell frequently fell
into the work, but the sappers swerved not from the peril it seemed
impossible to escape. Lieutenant Murray stood himself in the aperture to
relieve the men of the necessity for watching, and warned the two
gallant fellows when projectiles were approaching. In such instances, to
lessen the chances of risk, all three threw themselves on the sole of
the work, and, when the danger passed, resumed the revetment, quitting
it only when the embrasure was finished.

When the Russians learnt that a descent was to be made on the Crimean
coast, they sank several of their large war vessels and blocked up the
passage into the harbour of Sebastopol. Since nautical skill and
manœuvring were confessedly unequal to master the difficulty,
submarine blasting was proposed as the readiest and most effectual
method, and four sapper divers, selected from volunteers at Chatham,
accompanied by the necessary apparatus and stores, sailed in the
‘Prince’ on the 27th October, and arrived in the harbour of Balaklava on
the 7th November. Several other sappers, then before Sebastopol, who had
been practically trained in the art by actual service in the demolition
of the wreck of the ‘Royal George,’ were to have been engaged in the
perilous duty.

On the 11th November was commenced the second parallel on the left
attack, 360 yards in advance of Chapman’s battery. The ground presented
a surface of interminable rock, which caused the soil, as before, to be
brought from a distance to form the parapets. The labours of the sappers
were confined chiefly to mining the hill and blasting the rock, and also
placing the gabions in position. Some 350 yards in front of the new
parallel a row of Russian riflemen was established, who picked off the
guard of the trenches with fatal rapidity. A dash was made for the pits
on the 20th, which, after a smart little combat, were captured and
occupied by our light troops. The holes were afterwards connected by
boyaux to the second parallel. On the right attack a place of arms was
formed to shelter the troops when drawn up for assault. A long boyau was
run out half way to the intended spot, and the centre portion of the
parallel was thrown up by flying sap. Communications being also effected
with the rear by means of a double set of approaches, guns and cohorns
were mounted in the batteries to defend the stormers and play on the
works. This new formation afterwards took its place in the series of
trenches for the second parallel.

For two or three weeks the weather had been unpropitious. Snow was upon
the ground, and sometimes rain, sleet, and hail varied the inclemency,
while frost intervening, nipped the men with its cold grasp, and added
to their sufferings. The prevailing aspect of the clouds was gloomy and
lowering, but there was nothing to indicate the approach of that
memorable storm, which on the 14th November, swept over the Black Sea
and the Crimea. Early in the morning the hurricane began its portentous
howling, and it was not long before it committed terrific havoc at sea.
Ingenuity and precaution did much to save the ships from disaster, but
many of the transports, too soon becoming unmanageable, were engulfed as
by a spell in the raging surf, or broken to pieces on the shore. Among
these was the ‘Prince,’ a magnificent steamer of heavy tonnage,
freighted with winter clothing for the army and the diving machinery.
For two hours she stood bravely against the storm, but at length driven
against the rocks at Balaklava, her timbers were rent in every
direction, and she went down. The four sapper divers on board of her,
sergeant William Carne, and privates Samuel Lewis, Thomas Price, and
Thomas Toohey, sank in the wreck, as also Captain W. M. Inglis, who had
been observed on a spar struggling to gain the shore, when a wave of
foam broke over him, and he was seen no more.

A like fate attended the ‘Rip Van Winkle;’ and the two sapper
photographers—corporal John Pendered, and lance-corporal John
Hammond—well educated and trained at great expense in the art, perished
in the foundered vessel. The knapsacks and kits of the eighth company
were also lost.

On shore the hurricane was not so calamitous, but the tents were all
torn up and blown to a distance. Only one solitary marquee remained to
mark the site of the encampment. In common with the army the sappers and
miners felt the shock of the storm, and were left shivering on the
heights, unclad and comfortless. Those in the trenches experienced equal
misery, but their zeal in the prosecution of the works was only checked
by the fury of the raging wind and the deluging rain. The road to
Balaklava soon became one long morass, and both man and horse, in
travelling to the port, had to wade the distance up to their knees in
mud. From this time the suffering and privations of the troops
considerably increased in extent and severity; but, borne with
uncomplaining endurance and fortitude, earned for them the abiding
admiration and sympathies of their countrymen.

Two days after the conflict at Inkermann, parties of the corps were
allotted for the duty of raising appropriate field-works to protect the
right, which, shortly after, were increased by the fourth company
encamped on the heights. Ill able to spare the men from the general
works, the seventh company under Captain Gibb was removed from Gallipoli
to take part in the operation. Arriving at Balaklava on the 28th
November, the company reinforced the camp before Sebastopol on the 2nd
December. Until the 17th, it was employed in the work of the trenches
forming the ‘right attack,’ but on the following day it moved to the
heights of Inkermann to complete the approaches against the town, and to
erect batteries to oppose those of the enemy on the side of the
Tchernaya. The fourth company being relieved, was returned to the
operations of the right attack. At these lines the sappers, whose
numbers varied between 58 and 31, worked only by day, except in a few
special instances when the firing of the enemy was too hot and accurate
to admit of day labour being carried on with any chance of success. The
chief of their work was performed in the parallel, Redoubte du 5me
Novembre, and the Mortar and St. Laurent’s batteries. They also laid the
platforms, formed the embrasures and traverses, and restored them when
injured. Two magazines in the St. Laurent’s battery, constructed by the
French of indifferent rubble, were so damaged by shells that both were
rebuilt by the English sappers in a serviceable style, with a roof of
sand-bags and fascines, covered with a thick substratum of well-tamped
earth. Relieved from duty one afternoon, the party was thrown into the
trenches at night to level the top of the parapet. Though few in number,
they worked with so much energy, that the object of their employment was
fully accomplished in the darkness. Another night they crept down into
the glen on the right, and tearing down some Russian houses, the timber
brought away with them was afterwards turned to account for platforms,
&c. In the general business of the trenches they were much impeded by
the severity of the weather. The depth of the snow almost baffled them;
but by removing it day after day from the interior of the lines, they
made commendable progress in the batteries. Blasting rock was one of
their ordinary duties; and after the 21st January, when the line troops
were wholly withdrawn, the sappers were the only British soldiers
working in concert with the allies. A 24 lb. shot struck one of the
tents of the seventh company on the 4th February, and, singularly
enough, glanced off the canvas without occasioning any casualty. After
completing the Mortar battery and perfecting the details of the St.
Laurent, the company, on the 7th, quitted the heights, leaving the works
solely to the French.

As the siege wore on, it was found advantageous to make each relief
commence its allotted labour at the most advanced point, and work
backwards. The infantry parties usually opened ground as far as
practicable, using straw baskets to gather earth for cover in places
where it was insufficient. Wherever the pick was used it struck upon
rock, which offered an unfailing obstruction to the progress of the
lines. The sappers invariably followed these surface pioneers, and
blasted or removed the stony portions. “In this service,” it is
recorded, “these men’s exertions have been altogether invaluable, and
such as could not be supplied from any other part of the army.”

On the 1st December the strength of the corps in the East was as

                Present at the siege and effective   401
                Sick in field hospitals               40
                Balaklava                             23
                Bucharest                             14
                Varna                                 17
                Gallipoli                             11
                Constantinople and Scutari            18
                              Total   524

A feeble force compared with the extreme exigencies of the period.

Two sappers in charge of the field electric telegraph for service in the
Crimea, arrived at Balaklava on the 7th December, and repaired to the
camp on the 19th, taking with them the instruments, batteries, insulated
wire, and appliances, packed in two waggons. Twenty-four coils of wire,
each a mile long, were packed in them, as also a subsoil plough,
appropriate tools, and boats. The apparatus, only available for short
distances, was worked by six or eight men. To establish a communication
between any two points, the wire, which uncoiled from a drum, revolving
horizontally in a carriage drawn in advance, was laid in a shallow
trough made by the plough, which served the double purpose of cutting
the furrow and depositing the line. The trough was just deep enough to
protect the wire from ordinary accidents. Equally effective was the
apparatus for communicating with vessels at sea. The two sappers were
specially instructed in the electric telegraph establishment at Lothbury
in the mode of working the instruments, laying the wire, and in the
ingenious manipulation required to give effect to the process. Such,
however, was the state of the weather from snow storms, hard frosts, and
heavy rains, it was some weeks before the telegraph could be employed.
Meanwhile, as the instrument was regarded as an important appendage to
the army, sergeants James Anderson[162] and Montgomery, with several
non-commissioned officers and privates, were educated in the art by
corporal Peter Fraser; so that when the time arrived for using it, there
was an adequate staff of operators to attend to its scientific details
and requirements.

Up to this period, in addition to the casualties already mentioned, the
following men were put hors de combat:—

        Private James Dilling—killed, by the bursting of a gun.

The wounded were—

Private John McLean—slightly, in the head, by the bursting of a shell.

   ”    James Wheeler—severely, in back of head and right shoulder, by
          splinters of shells.

   ”    William Haines—severely, in back, by a spent 32 lb. shot rolling
          over the parapet on him.

   ”    John Hutton—slightly, in the head.

   ”    John Giles—severely, in left clavicle, and collar-bone broken,
          by grape-shot. After returning to England had a severe attack
          of small-pox, from which he recovered, but lost his right eye.

   ”    Robert McFarlane—dangerously, in the thigh, by splinter of

Sergeant James H. Drew—dangerously, in the left shoulder and
          collar-bone, by a shot.[163]

Private Samuel Coles—killed by a round shot, which struck his left
          shoulder, and carried away his arm.

Lance-corporal William Eastley—severely, in left leg, by splinter of

The second company of 113 strong, under Captain King, reinforced the
corps in the Crimea on the 20th December. As the weather was severe and
the road to the camp almost impassable, the company was attached to the
invalid battalion at the port. Considerations for its convenience did
not, however, long prevail, for the want of sappers at the siege brought
an order from Lord Raglan to remove the company on Christmas-day with
its camp equipage and stores to the right attack. To assist the men on
the march his lordship sent 150 Turks to meet them at the French barrier
near Kadikoi, guided by sergeant Ramsay and another sapper who had
reached the rendezvous before the company. The arrival of the new
sappers elicited no concern from the stolid Turks, who, seated on the
ground, smoking their fuming chibouks, declined to attend to any orders
which should impose on them the labour of carrying the stores. Captain
King did his best to beguile their obedience, but without effect. It so
happened that colour-sergeant Brown of the company, who had been in
Syria, had picked up a smattering of Arabic and knew something of the
native idiosyncracy. Permitted by his captain, he tried to win the
acquiescence of the Turks by appealing gestures and the stammering out
of a few imperfect words, which must have grated on their ears as so
much jargon; but his best arts, either to force or delude them, failed
to dissipate their obstinacy. In the meantime he told off the officers
and men to their duties. Brown wore on his breast three medals, one of
which he had received from the Sultan for services in Syria. On its
reverse was an Ottoman inscription, similar to the standard impression
on the Turkish money. Curious to know the history of the medals, a young
officer of the detachment stepped up to the sergeant, and handling the
decorations, was surprised to find that one of them was the gift of the
Sultan. Naming the fact to a group of his brother-officers, it quickly
spread among the men, who, thinking that Brown was invested with
authority from his Majesty, bounded to their feet, loaded themselves
like mules with the equipage, and paced away with their burdens at a
warm and earnest rate, stopping not, though fatigued, till their arrival
at the sapper camp before Sebastopol. What was more remarkable in the
affair, was the refusal of the Turks, though indisposed to give their
labour without adequate compensation, to take tickets for working pay.
Lieutenant Ewart, at a loss to conjecture the reason, whether to ascribe
it to disaffection or disinterestedness, was not a little tickled when
informed, that the demonstration arose from the Turks regarding the
sergeant as a pacha.

In the early part of the siege, from the afflictions of a hard campaign,
great difficulty was found in procuring a sufficiently strong party from
the line for trench duty; and to make up for the deficiency a regiment
of Turks, quartered at Balaklava, was appointed to the front. From their
idle habits and indulgences, seldom could more than 400 men be brought
together for work, which number was still further frittered away by
disease and death to about 200. From the lack of land transport this
force was usually absorbed in the carriage of stores to the batteries.
To stimulate them to exertion, the sappers who superintended them were
empowered to give such of their parties as deserved it, a ticket for
pay, or even two, if their zeal were conspicuous; but to withhold the
recognition, if from indolence they did but little to further the
service. A sergeant of sappers—who was cashier and paymaster—always gave
a day’s pay for every authorized ticket presented to him; and this
system, acting like the prick of a spur on the sides of a sulky hack,
moved them to the exercise of an amount of effort which it would have
been next to impossible to have wrung from them by any other scheme.

Reduced when hostilities commenced to the minimum of peace requirement,
the sappers, whose duty it was to execute any description of work which
war or the elements might originate, were unable to spare a man from the
trenches for the pressing services of the rear. The troops of the line,
decimated and exhausted, were utterly inadequate to meet any extra
contingency; and thus arose a crisis in the affairs of the campaign
which led to the gravest considerations and misgivings at home. So
terrible had been the weather, so destructive the storms, so complete
the disruption of the communication between Balaklava and the camp—in
consequence of the road having become a swamp—that no resource was left
to the War Minister but to seek for remedies by the employment of novel
establishments. At his call a corps of hardy navvies sprung up in a day,
and controlled by civil superintendents, untrammelled by the rigours and
nice exactions of military discipline, the Balaklava railway was
commenced and carried through with so much despatch, that no one
regretted the temporary creation of a force which in its wonderful zeal
relieved the overworked and perishing troops of one of the most
appalling miseries of the campaign.

So obvious were the benefits evolved from this experiment, that when the
engagement of the navvies had ceased, the idea of perpetuating the
existence of so useful a body in an altered character assumed a
permanent form. Though ready, the navvies were rough and undisciplined,
bearing no connection with the great military expedition of which they
formed a part. This gave rise to the Army Works Corps, for the execution
of all extra services not properly belonging to the battle-field, the
trenches, or the operations of an army. It was arranged, it would seem,
that their duties should embrace the construction of roads and drains,
preparation of sites for encampment, erection of huts, &c. The pecuniary
advantages offered to candidates were of such a high standard that an
enthusiastic recruitment was the consequence. A few weeks were more than
enough to embody the corps, which consisted principally of navigators,
and about a fifth of mechanics of various crafts. Overseers were engaged
to superintend the gangs, with designations suitable to their
avocations, and a civil engineer commanded the whole, with the relative
rank of colonel. Later the force formed an important branch of the army.
Fostered and shielded by the ministry, it was equipped with gear and
working accessories of the most perfect and costly kind; and before the
close of the war, it had grown into an authorized body of 3,470 officers
and men, requiring for its sustenance in strength and efficiency no less
a sum for one year than 408,595_l._

In time, the formation of this working force was much commented on in
the House of Commons. While it was regarded—with insufficient reason
perhaps—as a reflection on the efficiency of the royal sappers and
miners, there were not wanting advocates—and none more earnest than
members of the ministry, particularly Mr. Monsell—to vindicate the
character of the corps, and to compliment it, in terms full of
appreciation and praise for its usefulness at the siege, and its
capability, with augmented numbers, of performing any amount of work
which the terrible exigencies of storm or war might render


Footnote 160:

  This corporal completed the tombstone placed over the remains of
  Colonel Hood and Captain Rowley; the latter was killed on the 16th. It
  consisted of a flat slab, which enclosed both graves; and a monumental
  cross at the head bore a well-cut inscription, which told of the
  melancholy fate of these noble officers.

Footnote 161:

  ‘Quarterly Review,’ vol. xcv., p. 239.

Footnote 162:

   This non-commissioned officer wrote some graphic and interesting
  letters about the siege, in one of which he says,—“After setting my
  working party to their task in the trenches, I went to the front to
  show corporal Kirkwood—a new arrival—the extent of our works, and to
  give him an introduction to Sebastopol. The trench in some places not
  being deep enough to cover us, we sometimes had to run along the top,
  and whenever we did so, the enemy peppered us well with grape and
  rifle bullets at about 300 yards. So I borrowed a Minié rifle from the
  38th, and returned the compliment. This was the first time I had ever
  fired at a human being. Two 38th men loaded for me as fast as I could
  fire, and we soon cleared the embrasures of the Russian gunners; but
  they shot my comrade—a sergeant of the 38th—at my side. I bound up his
  wound with my handkerchief, and fired away again with his rifle. I
  have had many narrow escapes and much hard work, but I feel truly
  thankful to the Almighty for having brought me through all without a
  scratch. I hope soon to write to you from the imperial barracks
  _inside_ Sebastopol. I hope,” says he, again, “we shall soon be
  allowed to storm. I could lead a party in by a short cut that I know
  of, and I think it would soon be over and the place ours.” The letters
  from which these extracts are taken were kindly lent for my perusal by
  an officer of the corps.

Footnote 163:

   Was a well-educated and an active non-commissioned officer. For many
  years he was the confidential clerk of Sir Frederic Smith at Chatham,
  where, associating himself with a temperance society, he became an
  able advocate of its principles, and received from its members a
  silver medallion in testimony of his talented lectures on the subject.
  After serving a few years at Malta, he was sent to the Crimea; and in
  the trenches before Sebastopol, earned the good opinion of his
  officers for fearlessness, ability, and success as an overseer. At
  that time he was considered the ablest and readiest sergeant of
  sappers in the front. On the 10th of November he was wounded at the
  siege by a shot striking his shoulder, and breaking his collar-bone.
  The wound was an eccentric one. It did not draw blood, but made an
  insignificant contusion on the shoulder, from which it was expected
  that the injury was slight. It turned out otherwise. Removed on board
  the ‘Avon,’ he was much shaken in the storm of the 14th, and died of
  his wounds on the 22nd of November, off Scutari.

Footnote 164:

  See Debates of 3rd March and 8th April, 1855. Also leaders in the
  ‘Times’ of 2nd and 23rd June, 1855. The leading article of the 23rd,
  while it vindicated the formation of the Army Works Corps as the
  readiest and best expedient under the circumstances of the pressure,
  and afforded reasons for assuming its superiority as a working force
  to the sappers, nevertheless made admissions which were highly
  commendatory to the latter.

                         1st January-8th April.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

Sanitary state of companies—Warm clothing—Collecting detachments in
  England to forward to the siege—Services of party with Omar Pasha’s
  army—Granted medals by the Sultan—Mishap on the Tchernaya—Destruction
  of the village of Inkermann—Exertions of sappers in the trenches
  during snow storms—Anecdote, Corrigan’s charcoal—Obstructions to the
  trenches by mud—Arrival of first company—Hut stables for the cavalry
  horses—French build No. 9 battery; right attack—Conduct of corporal
  Lendrim—Sappers share of the work—The parallels-Huts—French sappers
  entertained at Southampton—Casualties—Reforming works to counteract
  enfilade fire—Nos. 7 and 8 batteries, left attack—Moving guns to the
  front—International parallel; zeal of non-commissioned
  officers—Destroying a rifle screen—Completion of the parallel—Death of
  captain Craigie—Sir John Burgoyne’s farewell address—Sorties—Bearing
  in a wounded Russian—Augmentation to corps—Driver troop—Efforts to
  obtain recruits; militia men—Sergeant Docherty captured on
  suspicion of being a Russian spy—Countermine under cave
  magazine—Casualties—Zigzag from right rifle pit in advance of second
  parallel; wound sustained by a singular agent—Death of Lieutenant
  Bainbrigge—Third parallel, right attack—Progress of the
  works—Faultless energy of sappers in building a two-gun battery in the
  third parallel, left attack—Two corporals singularly escape from a
  shell which destroyed the magazine they were erecting—Embrasures of
  No. 7 battery opened—Preparations for a bombardment—The weather.

From the laborious nature of the duties in the trenches, the sappers
were absolutely ragged, and as the frost had set in, late in December,
with unusual rigour, it is surprising they possessed stamina and spirit
enough to bear up against the exposure to which they were subjected.
Nevertheless the sickness was trifling compared with the appalling
details of casualties reported in other corps; for on the 1st January,
out of a strength of 639 non-commissioned officers and men, only
ninety-two were in the field hospitals and at Scutari. Diarrhœa,
fever, and frostbite were, however, very prevalent during the month, and
the increase in the sick was considerable. In that period no less a
number than 273 had been under treatment, exclusive of the invalids sent
to the hospitals on the Bosphorus. The number available for the siege,
including the sick present, was 519. The remainder were detached to
Balaklava, the Monastery of St. George, Gallipoli, Scutari,
Constantinople, and Bucharest.

As soon as it was determined to provide the troops with winter clothing,
an ample supply was furnished for the sappers and miners at an expense
of 4,260_l._, which enabled the following articles to be issued to each

 2 pairs of worsted stockings.
 2 pairs of woollen drawers.
 2 pairs of woollen mitts.
 2 woollen guernseys.
 1 woollen neck-comforter.
 1 blanket-cover.
 1 railway-wrapper.
 1 fur cap.
 1 overcoat.
 1 pair of long boots.

All the articles were excellent in quality, strong, warm, and adapted to
the Crimean climate. Previous to the supply arriving, the sappers, to a
certain extent, were furnished with buffalo skins for beds, heavy
Turkish gregos with hoods for trench duty, rugs, Jerseys, &c.

Driven for men to send to the war, some of the stations by degrees were
either wholly denuded of their forces or considerably reduced. The half
company at Hong Kong was first removed, landing at Woolwich on the 3rd
January. During its service in China its character was so uniformly
exemplary that Sir John Burgoyne complimented the men in a general
order. On embarking for England Captain Whittingham, the commanding
royal engineer, made a flattering report of their conduct. “The proofs,”
he wrote, “are patent in the few deaths, in the few cases of
intermittent or other climatal diseases, and in the absolute cessation
of courts-martial, although the ratio of exposure to a tropical sun—the
engendering cause of disease and drunkenness—has been far greater than
those of other troops and has almost exhausted the stamina of the men.”
“Their extreme good conduct” was also the subject of a report from
Lieutenant and Adjutant Lloyd, 59th regiment, who commanded the troops
on board. A few years ago three privates superintended under the
colonial clerk of works the erection of the Government offices. From
December, 1852, three other men were employed under Mr. Cleverley, the
surveyor-general, as overseers in building the Government-house; and on
quitting the island, he testified to the very great benefit that had
been derived from their supervision of the works. For more than eleven
years a small force of the corps had served in China, the first party
having landed in October, 1843. The total number which had been sent
there amounted to 113, of whom 33 died, 27 were invalided, 1 was
discharged in the colony and died, 7 deserted, 23 returned to England by
reliefs, and 22 reached home on the final removal of the detachment from
Hong Kong.

The small party at Spike Island was withdrawn the same month. Four
months later the Melbourne detachment returned to England; then followed
the seventeenth company from the Cape in July; and gradually Gibraltar,
Corfu, and Bermuda were left with only invalid nuclei unfitted for the
stern vicissitudes of campaigning but able for the works of the
stations. A detachment of unmarried men was also ordered from the remote
settlement of the Swan River, but arrived too late to share in the
glories of the siege. This shearing, however, furnished but a unit of
accessible sappers—for it brought to this country a number of men who
required to be physically renewed before sending them on a hard service,
where the trials of weather alone were likely to break them up without
subjecting them to the severities of the trenches.

Two sapper divers landed at Balaklava from the ‘Robert Lowe,’ on the 4th
January, under the command of Captain De Moleyns, having in charge Mr.
Rendel’s loaded cylinders to be applied for blasting the sunken ships at
the mouth of the harbour.[165]

The small detachment under Major Bent, of the engineers, joined at the
camp about this time from Bucharest, marching with the Turkish army; and
the following dispatch from his Highness Omar Pasha, so complimentary to
its efficiency, was communicated by Lord Raglan to the Minister of War:—

                                          “_Varna, January 8, 1855._


  “His Highness Omar Pasha has requested me to write to your Lordship,
  to return his best thanks for the services rendered to his army by
  Major Bent, of the royal engineers, and the detachment of sappers
  under his command.

  “His Highness desires me to express his regret at the losses which
  have been sustained by this small detachment, who, under the direction
  of Major Bent, have well sustained the character of the British army.

  “His Highness has already expressed to your Lordship his regret at the
  loss of Lieutenant Burke, of the royal engineers, whom His Highness
  considers to have been an officer of much merit.

  “His Highness desires me to inform your Lordship, that he has done
  himself the honour to write to the Turkish Ambassador at the Court of
  St. James’s expressing the desire of His Majesty the Sultan that
  private Andrew Anderson, of the royal sappers and miners, may receive
  and wear the decoration of the fourth class of the order of Medjidie,
  in commemoration of his gallantry in recovering the body of Lieutenant
  Burke, after he was killed at the passing of the Danube on the 7th of
  July last. In the meantime he has presented private Anderson with the
  decoration, and trusts your Lordship will allow him to wear it until
  the commands of Her Majesty may be received.[166]

  “His Highness further desires me to express to your Lordship his
  entire approbation of the manner in which Major Bent has conducted his

  “He desires me to inform your Lordship that this officer showed great
  energy in his endeavours to enter Silistria before the siege was
  raised; that he subsequently showed great gallantry at the passage of
  the Danube, when he was the first to land on the left bank, and
  covered the landing of the Turkish troops with a detachment of
  riflemen, who maintained their ground under a heavy fire until the
  disembarkation of the supports was effected.

  “Major Bent and his sappers were subsequently of great service in
  throwing up the tête de pont at Giurgevo, and in the construction of
  the bridge across the Danube.

  “His Highness desires to take this opportunity of expressing to your
  Lordship his high sense of the services rendered by Lieutenant Glyn,
  R.N., and H. S. H. Prince Ernest of Saxe Leiningen, with the
  detachment of sailors of Her Majesty’s fleet under their command, in
  the construction of the bridge across the Danube.

  “His Highness considers that the success of the construction of this
  bridge is in great measure attributable to their well-planned
  dispositions, which, although executed with limited means, proved
  fully effective to resist the storms and strong currents of the

  “He desires me to say that he is fully satisfied with the zeal and
  energy of this detachment of Her Majesty’s fleet under the able
  direction of Lieutenant Glyn, whom he considers a very promising
  officer, and entirely worthy of the confidence of your Lordship.

  “His Highness desires me to add, that it would be very gratifying to
  him if Her Majesty could in any way reward these officers for the able
  services they have rendered to the Ottoman army and the common cause.

           “I am, &c.
   (Signed)            “J. L. A. SIMMONS,
   “Field-Marshal Lord Raglan, G.C.B., &c.          Lieut.-Colonel.”

This encomiastic testimonial was apparently insufficient to mark the
appreciation of their military services, and decorations were added to
commemorate the campaign. In the brigade orders of the 23rd July, 1855,
the Sultan’s gift was thus alluded to:—“The Turkish government having
awarded a certain number of medals to the officers of royal engineers
and the royal sappers and miners who were engaged in the campaign of
1854 on the Danube, the Major-General commanding has much pleasure in
publishing the following extract from a letter addressed by his Highness
Omar Pasha to Lieut.-Colonel Simmons, Her Majesty’s Commissioner with
the Turkish forces.”

“I beg you will distribute these medals amongst the officers and men
according to the accompanying list, as a mark of the great satisfaction
my Sovereign has always experienced from the manner in which they
conducted themselves whilst sharing the dangers and fatigues of the
campaign of 1854 against our common enemy.”

The non-commissioned officers and men who received the medals were—

               Colour-sergeant  John F. Read.
               Corporal         James Curgenven.
                  ”             James Cray.
                  ”             Joseph J. Stanton.
               2nd corporal     Robert M. Rylatt.
               Lance-corporal   Michael Westacott.
               Private          John Boyles.
                  ”             John Bramley.
                  ”             John Doran.
                  ”             William Henderson.
                  ”             Alexander McCaughey.
                  ”             William Morrison.
                  ”             George Scown.
                  ”             William Allen.
                  ”             James Bland.
                  ”             John Piper.

These sixteen sappers were the only British soldiers honoured with the

There existed an intention for a time of attacking the enemy across the
Tchernaya; but as the bridge which spanned it, stript of its planking,
was impassable, it was necessary, before providing an expedient for the
passage of the troops, to ascertain the characteristics of the river and
take its soundings. A portion of the seventh company had constructed a
raft of four common sized beer barrels, lashed together in pairs and
overlaid with an ordinary superstructure of balks and chesses. Early in
January, in the dusk of the evening, twelve sappers under Lieutenant
Drake, R.E., left the Inkermann camp with the small float, carried
shoulder high by four men at a spell. Though the moon had risen, it was
heavily beclouded, and the party was covered from Russian observation by
the hills which, on either side of the winding road, rose sometimes
sloping, sometimes abruptly, to their summits. The stream was nearly two
miles away, and the carriage of the raft, over a broken country, where
every step was fraught with danger and the supports distant, was no
light enterprise. At length the bank was reached. It was then dark; but
an occasional gleam of the moon, lit up the men and threw a pale streak
across the water, which though it assisted to add a pleasing feature to
the picture, was altogether unsuited to the secrecy of the service.
Another long black cloud now spread itself over the meek orb, and no
sooner was the little raft launched, than Lieutenant Drake, followed by
corporal Ramsay, leaped upon it, and booming out took the required
soundings and measured the breadth of the river. This done Lieutenant
Drake landed on the opposite side and went forward to reconnoitre. Not
long had he been away when one of the leaky barrels, becoming filled
with water, drew the head of the float under the stream. Feeling that in
all probability the whole raft would sink, Ramsay called lustily for
Lieutenant Drake to return. If he came instantly there was a chance of
recrossing in safety. Ramsay’s voice was powerful; and ringing among the
hills and over the quiet stream, it was loud enough to collect a swarm
of Russians at the spot, but none fortunately were seen. Lieutenant
Drake, hearing the summons, quickly reappeared, and bounding from the
bank to the sinking raft it capsized, pitching both into the river among
the piles of the old bridge. It was excessively cold, snow was on the
ground, and the water—though not iced over—was freezing. The officer
swam ashore, but Ramsay, entangled among the guys of the raft could not
strike out. On gaining the bank Lieutenant Drake asked whether his
partner in adversity wanted help, and was about to re-enter the river to
afford it, when the party hauled on the ropes, and Ramsay holding on
with a benumbed grip to the raft, was pulled to land. Theirs was a
miserable march to camp, but cold and frozen as they were, their
unfailing spirits sustained them, and the corporal was more than
compensated for his mishap by the reception he met with from a subaltern
of the corps, who throwing aside the conventionalities which separate
the soldier from the officer, gave him a place in his tent and
entertained him hospitably. Three months after, this non-commissioned
officer was killed at the Inkermann light-house battery.

A few nights later, the seventh company quitted the heights under an
assistant engineer—Mr. Newsome, who afterwards got a commission in the
corps—to collect timber to be used for magazines and platforms in the
mortar battery at Inkermann. Reaching the village unperceived, several
of the men ascended the housetops, and throwing down the tiles,
dislodged the beams and sheeting, whilst others ript up the floors and
removed everything capable of serving the wants of an insatiable siege.
Bearing loads far greater than under ordinary circumstances would have
been allotted for carriage, the sappers turned their backs upon that
desolate homestead; and, as if driven into the earth, bent under the
pressure of their burdens. It was a severe night, and the nipping air so
braced up the men that their power to bear was redoubled, but their
progress with such weights was necessarily slow. Soon they reached a
steep hill up which they clambered with a lagging tread and hard breath,
retaining with difficulty their footing, for the slope was slippery.
Nevertheless they gradually pushed up, till a heavy shot made them drop
their loads, to seek, by prostration, a possible escape. Every one was
down in an instant, and the hissing projectile plunged into the hill
side two or three feet above the head of private A. Grant. Another such
a shot was aimed at them before they reached the summit of the hill, but
it soared far too high to do any injury. Quickened by the danger of
their situation, and thus feeling less the heaviness of their burdens,
the party jogged on at a greatly accelerated pace, and reached the camp
unharmed. This was the only instance, it is said, of the Russians firing
at night while the Inkermann works were in progress, and was no doubt
due to the noise occasioned by the rattling of tiles and timbers in
devastating the village.

For some period in the new year, the weather continued so inclement that
very little progress was made in the works. On several occasions the
line parties could not be employed, for necessity more than
commiseration returned them freezing to their tents. Directed by their
officers, the sappers, only, held their posts and laboured as best they
could against the stinging storms and winds which swept over the frosted
hills. Many were frostbitten, several acutely; a few lost their limbs,
and one man fell never to rise more. Yet amid all this severity they
blasted the rock in many places to obtain cover, made loop-holes,
erected gabion revetment, and where the drift had piled the snow in the
more important excavations, removed it with almost impossible

On the 16th January, there were furnished for the right attack a minimum
party of twenty-eight linesmen and two brigades of sappers under Captain
Craigie and Lieutenant De Vere of the engineers. Bitter weeks of hard
weather had already been experienced, but it required no uncommon spirit
and fortitude to bear up against the trials of this day. By employing
only a few men and constantly relieving them, it was hoped that the
batteries might be kept clear. The men could scarcely feel their tools;
their clothes in a few minutes became frozen; and a mass of ice covering
those hirsute arrangements to which the dire necessities of war had
given rise, all that could be seen of the countenance was a couple of
patches of cadaverous skin drawn tightly over protruding bones. With the
line the attempt to make way against the elements was given up; but the
sappers stood boldly to their work though the drift fell in quite as
fast as they shovelled it out, and the snow in heavy flakes beat against
them. At length, however, they abandoned, not before they were ordered,
a task in which no amount of human exertion could succeed. Hobbling home
benumbed in every limb with curdled blood and almost lifeless hearts,
they appeared at the tents covered from head to heel in a panoply of
ice. What misery followed their return few can imagine. From their great
coats they shook the snow in cakes, and tore it from their beards and
moustaches; then throwing themselves on their wretched pallets undressed
and unbooted, sought repose in a rest that was as cold as comfortless.

Equal suffering was felt on the same day by 56 sappers and 104 men of
the infantry dispersed in the trenches on the Inkermann ridge. The
latter attended in chief to the removal of the snow, which heaped up in
pyramids to the crests of the works, choked every angle of the
batteries. The former tore down the walls of a damaged magazine,
revetted embrasures, and heightened the parapets. In these services
their exertions were much impeded by the storm, and when withdrawn,
after six hours’ exposure and labour, they waded to the camp like so
many icebergs.

The night of the 25th opened very mildly. Lieutenant De Vere was the
officer of engineers on duty on the right attack. He had under him a
sergeant and four sappers who superintended forty-eight Turks, as also
forty men of the line during the first relief, and thirty the second.
The former relief worked five hours; the latter four; the sappers and
Turks were on duty the whole period. Sturdy attempts were made to
improve some of the slopes in the second parallel, but with a return
altogether incommensurate with the labour bestowed, for the frost had so
firm a hold of the ground that the pickaxes flew from it as from a rock.
Beyond bringing up some hurters for platforms and clearing the drains in
the 21-gun battery and boyau leading to the work in advance, very little
was effected. By degrees the night fell peculiarly dark, increasing in
blackness, till, at one time, it was suffocatingly dense. A man could
scarcely discern his uplifted hand. While this phenomenon brooded over
the trenches, the cold was intense; it nipt deeply, and the feeling was
quite as painful as if the skin were peeling from the face. Work was out
of the question. It was as much as the men could do to save themselves
from frostbite and numbness, by chafing the face and hands and briskly
exercising the lower limbs. In this way the party continued until
relieved at four o’clock in the morning, at which hour all were fatigued
and worn by their exertions to keep the vital stream within them from

Up to the 3rd February, the staple work in the trenches was the removal
of snow, and then followed an interval during which the men were mid-leg
in mud. To remove this obstruction the draining was improved and
otherwise facilitated by making additional openings in the parapets to
carry off the water and convey it by natural channels down the slopes of
the hills into the ravines. These impediments, though they greatly
interfered with the general progress, did not slacken the exertions of
the sappers, who were everywhere seen building magazines, making
traverses, blasting rock, and fulfilling the multifarious details
essential to constitute the batteries and their field appurtenances,
efficient and complete. So far it was found impracticable to do more
than keep the current constructions in tolerable repair. To advance was
out of the question. Some French officers of engineers who had observed,
from the beginning, the firm and laborious activity of the sappers,
spoke of them with admiration. “_Des braves soldats, et des bon sapeurs
et travailleurs_,” was their constant commendation.[169]

The first company, 101 strong, under the command of Captain J. M. F.
Browne of the engineers, landed at Balaklava on the 7th, where it was
retained for engineer services, chiefly in the removal and erection of
the huts which had already arrived in great numbers. Its employment at
that port was considered sufficient for its wants, and the detachments
hitherto cantoned there were recalled to their companies at the siege.
Such however was the demand for sappers in front, that the company
itself was soon moved to the camp for trench duty.

Corporal James Hawes and private William Pettit had been sent to Lord
Lucan’s division to build stabling for the horses. It was intended that
Lieut. Lennox should superintend the service, but such was the pressure
in front for engineer officers he was removed the next day, and Major
Hall of the Bengal engineers, was made responsible for its execution.
The sappers commenced work on the 9th December, 1854, and finished on
the 11th February following.[170] Daily the corporal had under him
eighteen troopers—carpenters, masons, and bricklayers, and a force of
Turks, for a fortnight, sometimes as many as 200, digging foundations
and bringing up stones from an old wall which enclosed a large
building—a well—to-do farm-house and grounds—known as Lord Lucan’s
depôt. Anxious for its speedy erection Lord Lucan was constantly moving
among the workmen, and encouraging the corporal in his exertions and
supervision. Wood for a time was with difficulty procured, but when
ready, it was brought from Balaklava by the ablest of the cavalry
horses, the timbers and planks being slung on both sides of their
saddles with the ends trailing through the mud and snow. The first
stable constructed was that for the depôt near Kadikoi. It was completed
about the 20th December; the stabling then swept in a curve round the
slope of the hill, the foot of which run into the basin where the famous
battle of Balaklava was fought, and terminated at the road leading
towards the Sebastopol camp. The length of stabling and the number of
horses hutted when the work was finished were as follows:—

                             Length of Stabling     Number of
                                occupied by           Horses
                               each Regiment.     accommodated.
       Lord Lucan’s depôt            430               106
       6th Inniskillings             330                92
       2nd Greys                     455               130
       5th Dragoon Guards            270                78
       1st Royal Dragoons            390               108
       11th Hussars                   90                26
       4th Light Dragoons            120                28
       13th Light Dragoons           153                34
       8th Hussars                   129                26
       4th Dragoon Guards            488               122
                                     ———               ———
                                    2855               750
                                     ———               ———

This quantity of stabling was about 150 yards less than half-a-mile
long. The regiments were brigaded in the above order; the depôt being on
the right; the 4th Dragoon Guards on the left. The stabling was not
turned out of hand in this consecutive manner; but after the depôt for
the sick horses was finished, the hutting for the cavalry was commenced
simultaneously for each regiment in proportion to the number of
artificers each could furnish. As the work progressed—not waiting for
the actual completion of each hut—horses were daily added to the general
number accommodated, protected at night by loosely boarding up the open
ends to screen the animals from the frost and snow drift. In this way
sometimes eleven, sometimes twelve horses were every day picketed under
cover. Considering the small force of mechanics employed, the extreme
cold of the season, and the dread frost which pinched the men as they
laboured, the construction of the stabling was really a masterpiece of
rapidity; and Lord Lucan who had just then been recalled, was so well
satisfied of the thorough zeal and exertions of corporal Hawes, that one
of his Lordship’s last acts before leaving the Crimea, was to send for
him on shipboard, and present him, in writing, a testimonial which spoke
of the corporal’s qualities and his Lordship’s admiration of them.

On the 13th February, an 8-gun battery, No. 9, was commenced in rear of
the right advanced parallel. This was occasioned by the intended
occupation of the Mamelon as an emplacement for a battery to be used by
the French against the Malakoff. Scarce in linesmen, and Turkish
co-operation having dwindled to a few files, the allies undertook to
rear the work. Guided by the sappers to the site, 200 Zouaves broke
ground, and the cover obtained by them in the night was excellent. Their
recklessness of toil displayed a strong contrast to the conduct of the
English working party who, disregarding the orders of the officer in
charge, did little, on relieving the French, to add to the extension of
the works. The duty of the latter simply included the carrying of
gabions, which, “chiefly by the exertions of the sappers,” were lodged
in front of the battery as a temporary screen to the men shovelling in
front of the parapet. Without this screen the workmen could not have
stood their ground in the day-time.

Next morning, lance-corporal William J. Lendrim was selected as the
sapper superintendent of the battery by Lieutenant Anderson, R.E., who
directed the service. One hundred and fifty chasseurs were told off to
it. A vigorous firing on the work for more than an hour knocked over
several of the gabions, and to fill up the breaches was a species of
forlorn hope, as two of the Frenchmen were killed and four others
wounded in the trench. Corporal Lendrim, an intrepid and skilful man,
accustomed to lead, zealously pushed on from gap to gap, and by his
exertions every gabion was firmly replaced. The French officer in charge
of the chasseurs witnessed with admiration the corporal’s “coolness and
good example,” and applauded them to the British engineer.

There were other obstacles to contend with in the construction of this
battery from the presence of rock, the stubborness of which required the
aid of sappers to blast it; and on the 15th it is recorded, “that
considering the darkness of the night, they worked very satisfactorily
in mining.” On the 19th the initial part of the battery being completed,
the French were withdrawn, taking with them an enviable character for
their well-directed efforts and good behaviour. For the sappers were
reserved the dress and finish of the battery, the formation of the
embrasures, the construction of the magazines, and the general drainage;
and as time wore on, when fitted up with its armament, it played an
active part in the subsequent siege.

Already the right attack had finished its second line of trenches. The
approaches and cuttings between the parallels, bore, in their
_ensemble_, the appearance of a leaning tower with a battlemented crown.
The left attack broke ground, on the 14th of February, for its third
parallel. Approached by regular zigzags, the works exhibited none of
that intricacy which, on the right was unavoidable, from the ever
changing enfilade of the enemy’s constructions.

When it was decided the army was to winter in the Crimea, no delay
occurred in obtaining wood for housing the troops. Bell tents were
considered unsuited to a region subject to heavy storms of rain and snow
and high freezing winds. Accordingly on the 9th November, 1854,
Lieutenant De Vere and four sappers were sent to Sinope to procure
boards and scantling for huts. Timber grew in abundance along the shores
of the Black Sea, and quantities of it were shipped for Balaklava. As
the troops were absorbed in trench and other duties, and hired labour
could not be had, there existed insuperable difficulties to constructing
the huts. When this was known at home the Government entered into
contracts to provide a large number of wooden buildings cut into planks
and complete in fitments, which, with printed instructions and a few
sappers conversant with the mode of putting them together, might readily
be erected by unskilled workmen. Thirteen sapper carpenters were
selected for the service, who, for a time, were stationed at Portsmouth
and Southampton; and after making themselves acquainted with all the
details of the structures, embarked singly or in twos, in some of the
vessels which conveyed the prepared timbers to the Crimea. The first
parties left about the 5th December, 1854; the last arrived at Balaklava
on the 22nd February following; and those men were distributed through
the camp to aid the building of the huts, which, from the utter failure
of the means of transport and the want of strength in the men to bear
them to the front, progressed at so tardy a rate, that the spring was
far advanced before the whole of the troops were hutted.[171]

On the 27th February, the sappers had laid some platforms, opened
embrasures, and drained a portion of the magazine in the 8-gun battery
on the right attack, when some accurate firing into it, killed one man
and wounded six others, two of whom were sappers. These were privates
David Cuthbert severely in the right arm by the explosion of a shell,
and Thomas Gilchrist slightly in the left hand by a rifle bullet. The
majority of the line quitted and several hours’ progress in the work
were lost in consequence. The sapper brigades in no degree deterred by
the casualties, continued, with their usual good luck, to exert
themselves at the revetments without further accident.

Many portions of the right being enfiladed by the enemy’s riflemen
posted on the spur leading to the Mamelon, a new trace was adopted to
counterbalance its effects. It was begun on the night of the 27th, and
before the morning seventy yards of ground were opened, and a dead mound
of earth more than four feet high faced the enemy. With the same object
parapets were heightened and those in advance thickened, whilst a zigzag
leading to the advanced parallel was changed in its direction. In this
zigzag, to suit the changed character of the trench, the parapet close
to the _well_—for there were wells in the excavations—was pulled down
and a drain built through it. Stones also were placed at easy distances,
as in an Irish bog or shallow stream, to enable the men going for water
to keep their feet dry and prevent the destruction of the sewer.

In the night of the 2nd March the sapper brigades made a road for the
passage of ordnance into the eight-gun battery, and two were brought in
and mounted by the artillery. At daybreak the opening was blinded with
gabions and fascines, and continued so masked till the time for passing
the remaining armament into the battery. Next night, with a line party,
they commenced in front of the third parallel on the left attack an
elevated sand-bag battery, technically termed No. 7, for six guns.
Captain Hassard directed the work. The approach to it was by flying sap.
About 10,000 sand-bags were laid during the darkness on open ground
without shelter. The cover exceeded five feet, and its thickness at
bottom six feet. Earth was thrown among the layers of bags by a strong
force of shovellers from the outside. The soil was of a clayey nature,
and made the work compact. Three traverses were built and two magazines
well advanced. The embrasures, formed as the work proceeded, were
blinded just before the relief, so that at daylight the battery seemed
like a common mound only. It, however, told its tale to the enemy. The
first relief gave 165 men of the line, but only 90 for the second. The
number of sappers in the battery were about 120. The 17th, 57th, and
Rifles worked very well, but the contingents from other regiments left
with discredit. “The sappers worked admirably throughout the night
without being relieved.” One regiment in the following night, though
remonstrated with by General Barnard, laboured very indifferently. By
the 7th the parapet of the battery had attained an average width of 16
feet, and the right epaulment had risen to an altitude which afforded
excellent cover to the sappers constructing the magazines during the

Four days after was commenced No. 8 battery of the same attack for eight
guns. The strength of the sappers employed at it varied each relief, but
at one time there were 40 of the corps engaged in its construction. It
was traced by Major Bent and Lieutenant Graham on a shoulder of the
right of the third parallel. Lance-corporal George H. Collins, a very
apt sapper, was very ready in measuring the distances, and afterwards in
distributing and superintending the working party. When finished, the
battery was an excellent field structure, and seemed furbished up like a
model for the inspection of the curious. Its slopes, levels, and angles
were true, its magazines well built and strong, and the genouillères
were revetted in a way to admit the guns being run well up the
embrasures, the cheeks of which were protected by hide bags. This, as
well as No. 7 battery, were completed by the mutual co-operation of the
line and sappers, the latter taking those portions which demanded art
and dexterity. The rolling of heavy ordnance into these batteries on
ponderous carriages, down narrow trenches deep in mud and mended with
fascines and stones, was a very difficult operation. Now and then the
ropes broke, and the strong iron hooks which connected them to the
wheels of the carriage, yielding their tension to the strain, became
straightened like bars, and jerked from the eyes in which they were
locked. To make sure of the cut through which to pass the gun and its
carriage in the dark was a masterpiece of dexterity; and in one instance
a 68-pounder was pulled so wide of the mark that the sappers were
obliged to enlarge the gap in the parapet. This was a far easier
expedient than backing the gun to make another run for the opening. It
took about eighty artillerymen, and no end of assistants, to man the
drag-ropes and pass the great siege gun in question to its platform in
No. 7 battery.

Meanwhile the brigades on the right attack were no less zealously
occupied in furthering the general works. Among a wearying number of
incidental services, they made magazines, platforms, and sand-bag
traverses. They also formed rifle-pits on a knoll 130 yards in advance
of the right mortar-battery, where, the ground being rocky, protection
for the light troops was procured by stones and sand-bags built on the
crest of the pit. On the night of the tenth the sappers toiled for ten
hours unrelieved, and quitted the works with the commendation of their
officers for having worked “remarkably well.”

Next day the trenches were visited by Major-General Jones in company
with Generals Niel and Bizot of the French engineers. It was then
determined to open a new approach on the right of the advanced
mortar-battery in the third parallel to run into the middle ravine, and
there connect with the French parallel from the Inkermann attack. In the
following night the work was commenced with a force of 28 superintending
sappers, some of whom were early dismissed from day duty to keep their
energies intact for the new work. The line furnished two reliefs of 285
and 211 men, for each of which the duration of work was about five and a
half hours, but for the sappers eleven. As if by the touch of a
magician’s wand, though the night was excessively dark, 444 gabions were
lodged along the outstretched arm of the parallel. The sappers led the
way, leaving the line to seek the cover; and in this also the former
afforded active assistance when they had completed the deposition of the
gabions. In some parts the cover was very inadequate, owing to the rocky
nature of the ground, and the work was somewhat interrupted by an alarm
which drove the working parties to their arms. With all this obstruction
the progress was surprising, and corporal Alexander Ramsay of the
corps—a man of cultivated ideas and daring demeanour—was particularly
useful during the night in leading and instructing the men. Two other
corporals—William Wilson and Kester Knight—displayed so much “zeal and
capacity” in the operations that, noticed by Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden,
they were promoted to be sergeants, and a like advancement would have
been conferred on corporal Ramsay, but he early fell an example of
bravery and devotion.

Before commencing the work, Majors Gordon and Tylden went out to trace
it, taking with them lance-corporal Evans[172] and private William
Harvey, as also a man of the 34th as a sentry. Having gone as far as
they intended, the Majors went away alone to reconnoitre, leaving the
men lying on the alert at the end of the tape. In a few minutes the
officers returned, and all went forward some distance to a semi-circular
rifle-screen built of loose stones about six feet high. This was to be
destroyed with all possible haste and the utmost quietness. Pushing into
the screen, the sappers disintegrated the stones and handed them to the
officers outside, who laid them gently on the ground. Not one was
permitted to drop. So went on the demolition till about three feet of
the wall had been taken down, when, some Russians having crept up to
occupy the screen, and finding from the grating of the stones, which
they could distinctly hear, that strangers were present, fired a volley
and killed the sentry, who was shot in three places. At the instant, the
unarmed sappers vaulted over the masonry, but Harvey having leaped
against Major Tylden, both rolled into a stony hollow which had been
broken by quarrying. Beyond a bruise or two they felt no inconvenience
from the fall. Quickly regaining their feet, they bounded swiftly
onwards with Major Gordon and the corporal, and returned to the trenches
followed by a stream of fire which miraculously missed them. Of Harvey
the official record runs thus:—“He has done good service on different
occasions, particularly in assisting to trace works near the enemy’s

In the succeeding night the ground was further opened for 200 yards, but
a sortie obstructed the operation; and on the return of the Russians
they coolly bore away with them, as trophies of their boldness, between
forty and fifty unwieldy gabions to embody in their own defences. On the
13th the enemy’s fire on the extended parallel was so annoying the
linesmen were withdrawn, leaving two brigades of sappers to continue the
work, but they, too, were eventually recalled to save them from
unnecessary danger. Night after night the work on this long lean arm of
the parallel was pushed forward, and as much accomplished in daylight as
the Russian fire permitted. Much blasting was required to deepen and
widen the trench, and on several occasions none but sappers could be
allotted for the work. Once, when so disposed—the sappers being
concealed behind a bend of the revetment—some Russian riflemen stole up
in daylight to the head of the trench and rolled from the trace several
baskets, which they bore away as far as they were able. Nothing could
have been more tantalizing than this audacious proceeding, but there was
no help for it, as the sappers were unarmed. Gabions being scarce, cover
was obtained by building strong stone rubble walls. With entire success
and without material loss, though close to the enemy’s riflemen and
exposed to shot, shells, and grape, the Anglo-French parallels were
connected on the 17th March.

A few days prior to the union of the international trenches, Captain
Craigie of the Engineers was killed. He was returning with his sappers
from the 21-gun battery, and had reached the middle ravine, when a shell
from the Malakoff burst in the air, and a splinter striking him in the
back he fell dead. He was preceded by his bugler—Armstrong—and followed
by corporals Kester Knight and John Rowley. When the shell burst, the
two non-commissioned officers, seeing the splinter coming, moved on
either side, and it passed between their heads, fatally alighting on the
Captain. His party carried his body to the camp, and he was mourned by
the men as an officer whose kindness had been shown to them in a
thousand inobtrusive ways. Just before he dropped he had been conversing
with his non-commissioned officers on the best mode of avoiding an
exploded shell, but a bursting missile defies all theory and experience,
and makes the escape of life depend not on the adroitness of poor
humanity, but the will of Providence. The fourth company, which the
captain had commanded for several years, and over whose interests he had
watched as a friend and father, erected a small monumental cross to his
memory at the spot where his remains were interred.[173]

Private Henry Masters was wounded on the 14th.

Sir John Burgoyne, who held a consultative appointment, and shared in
degree with Lord Raglan the responsibility of the siege, was, though an
aged General, ever present to direct the various works, and on resigning
his connection with the army, he issued the following parting address to
the corps:—

                                  “_Head-quarters before Sebastopol,
                                       “21st March, 1855._

  “The Inspector-General of Fortifications cannot quit this army without
  expressing his strong testimony to the exemplary manner in which the
  officers of royal engineers, and non-commissioned officers and
  privates of royal sappers and miners have performed, under his own
  eye, their arduous duties before Sebastopol.

  “The I. G. F. is not aware of any siege which has been carried on
  under more trying and difficult circumstances, and he has had great
  pleasure in repeatedly pointing out to the Commander-in-Chief how
  gallantly and creditably every operation by the engineer department
  has been conducted.

  “In now taking leave of his comrades of all ranks he thinks he cannot
  wish them better fortune than that finally in this enterprise they may
  meet with success, that as far as depends upon them is so well

To this was added the following remark:—

               “I entirely concur in the sentiments above expressed.
                                           (Signed)     \“RAGLAN.”

A sortie was made on the night of the 22nd March against Nos. 7 and 8
batteries of the left third parallel, in which Captain Montagu of the
Engineers was taken prisoner. For half an hour the batteries were held
by the Russians, whose impetuosity had given them a footing there.
Driven out at length at the point of the bayonet, led by Captain
Chapman, 20th regiment, assistant engineer, they took with them in their
flight 70 pickaxes and 50 shovels. There were only eleven sappers in the
trenches at the time, who, being unarmed and dispersed over the
different works, were unprepared for the fight. A few of them, however,
joined in the repulse with arms taken from the grasp of some slain
linesmen, whilst others did their best in bludgeoning the Russians with
pick-helves and sticks.

A like sortie rushed into the advance parallel and mortar-battery on the
right attack, but was repulsed with loss. Three British officers were
killed and two wounded. Of the latter one was Major Gordon of the
Engineers, severely in the right arm. Of colossal height, he was
observed on the top of the parapet with no better defence than a swish
whipping the Russians from the works. Under his orders there were five
brigades of sappers scattered to various points of the chequered
operations, who escaped that night without casualty.

After the sortie had failed, corporal Lendrim, led by the groans of a
wounded man about thirty yards in front of the battery, clambered over
the parapet, and followed by two linesmen, moved to the spot where the
sufferer was lying. He was a Russian. No lack of bullets were flying at
the time to warn the corporal and his comrades of the risk they
incurred, but holding to the task they had humanely undertaken, they
carried him to the parapet. Gently laying him down, they were about to
renew their lift, when the last struggle seized the poor Russian, and in
a few seconds he was no more.

Too weak to afford an adequate force for the emergencies of the siege,
irrespective of the demands which had been fruitlessly made for its
services in the rear, it was considered of moment to augment the corps.
Accordingly, on the 22nd March, an authority was given for forming four
new companies of 120 sergeants and rank and file each, by which the
royal sappers and miners were swollen from a strength of 2,658 officers
and men to one of 3,140 of all ranks. The new companies were designated
the 23rd, 24th, 25th, and 26th. The first two were raised on the 1st
April; the others were not embodied before September and October.

The 23rd company was constituted a driver troop for the conveyance of
the royal engineer field equipment. Hitherto the engineers had to depend
in great measure for the movement of its stores on the resources of
other departments, which too frequently accorded insufficient
assistance. To be at the mercy of any caprice or department was
undesirable in a service whose success, in degree, depended upon the
prompt transport of its materials; and the suggestions on this question,
derived from the experience of the Peninsular engineers, meeting with
the approbation of Lord Panmure, the troop was called into existence.
Very readily was it formed, for the standard to recruit ostlers and
others of that genus, was reduced so low that a lad of ordinary growth
could easily command the admitted altitude. In a few days the necessary
number had been enlisted; but this troop of dwarfs, accustomed though
they had been to horses and driving, required some time to throw them
into shape and order, and this could only be done by discipline and
imparting to them as much of the art of military equitation and
manœuvring as was consistent with their organization and intended
services. One hundred and twenty round-bodied cobs, purchased at an
expense of 36_l._ each, formed the complement of horses for this novel
troop. Captain Siborne was its commanding officer. A few months after
its formation, Sir John Burgoyne inspected the corps at Woolwich, and he
was more than surprised at the smartness of the company and the
expertness with which the young troopers managed their horses. A
sergeant from the royal artillery—William Handyside—was promoted into
the company with the rank of Lieutenant and Adjutant, but before the
appointment reached him, having obtained a commission in the Land
Transport Corps, he declined the Adjutancy. It proved a wise resignation
for him, as soon after, he was promoted in his own corps to the rank of
Captain. Another sergeant—Henry Saville—from the artillery in the
Crimea, was commissioned into the troop on the 22nd October, 1855, with
the pay of 9_s._ 10_d._ a-day.

To supply the general increase, several new recruiting stations were
opened, and the militias were canvassed for candidates. The old stations
sent in batches with their usual steadiness, scarcely accelerated by the
popularity of the war; but the new ones, opening with a sort of burst,
detailing the advantages of enlistment on gorgeous bills, offering high
bounties, and lecturing the applicants with that hyperbolical eloquence
which, though unfair, is tolerated as a necessary evil in military life,
were very successful. Strong instalments of militia-men constantly
arrived, but recruited as many of them were by line officers appointed
to canvas particular districts, who knew nothing of the qualifications
required of the candidates, not a few were useless for the general
duties of the corps. But those were not times to stand opposed to the
reception of men who, though they lacked the antecedents so uniformly
exacted from recruits by officers of the royal engineers, might yet be
made to perform serviceable duties in the trenches. In this way a vast
number of militia-men—too many of them undersized, unseemly, and
professionally incapable, of an entirely different stamp in character
and impress to the genuine craftsman and sapper—fell into the ranks of
the corps, who in less pressing times would have been regarded as not
worth the trouble of a negotiation. In the course of nine months from
the date of the increase no less than 500 militia-men and about 800
other recruits joined the royal sappers and miners.

At night on the 27th, sergeant Docherty accompanied Lieutenant Penn,
R.A., to a point in the ravine near the cemetery where some rifle pits
were to be established. After acquainting himself with the locality, he
was directed by the officer to return to the trenches and visit the
workmen. The night was very dark, and danger was apprehended from some
Russian screens near the garden wall. Docherty picked his way as best he
could, without a track to guide him, over broken ground and by detached
blocks of rock and precipitous cliffs, till he clambered up a beetling
brow to the crest of the valley, where, lying down, he applied his ear
to discover if any one was astir in his vicinity. There were footsteps
not far from him—the measured pace of a sentinel, towards whom he
cautiously moved; but as he went nearer, he saw, through the darkness,
the shadowy outline of two men whom he suspected belonged to a Russian
picket. Wishing, as he was still unobserved, to be assured of his
position before proceeding further, he used the faint whistle which the
English sentries knew how to acknowledge, and his signal was returned by
a purling sound equally faint. No longer in doubt of his safety he
advanced to the two men, one of whom was a sergeant; but as Docherty,
approaching them from the front, was looked upon as a spy, he was
marched to the field officer of the trenches. Speaking English, and
making known his corps and rank, were only so many proofs to the
sergeant that his prisoner was a clever Russian. The field officer
examined him, and receiving accurate replies to his interrogatories on
subjects which a sapper only could have become acquainted with,
dismissed him—to the surprise of the sergeant, who was thus deprived of
the chance of recording, among the incidents of his trench life, the
capture of a Russian spy.

Fears were expressed on the 29th March that the enemy was mining under
one of the cave magazines on the right attack. A sapper acquainted with
the methods of detecting subterranean noises volunteered to enter the
cave to ascertain if any work was being carried on beneath it. In this
hole, with enough gunpowder in it to excite alarm, he coolly immured
himself for more than two hours; but hearing nothing to convince him of
the existence of a countermine, quitted his concealment and allayed by
his report the apprehension.

On the 31st March, private William Relf was severely wounded in the
knee, and second-corporal Richard Bridgman was hit slightly in the face
and shoulder. Both were struck by splinters from the same shell. For
months this non-commissioned officer was daily and nightly in the
trenches serving out the tools on the right attack, and on three or four
occasions the helves of axes and shovels have been shattered in his hand
while passing them to the workmen.

During the night of the 2nd April, a zig-zag was opened from the right
rifle pit in front of the advanced parallel right attack by flying sap.
One hundred and twenty yards were trenched, and the cover thrown up was
very tolerable. The moon being bright, the “flying” nature of the
operation was reduced to one of tardy but impulsive efforts. As the
light, however, gave but a dim outline of the sap to the enemy, the
Russian fire from two field-pieces was delivered indifferently; but when
the morning began to break, greater accuracy was obtained, and a few men
were struck down. Among them were privates Robert Russell killed, and
Thomas McNeil severely wounded. The former had his head smashed by a
round shot, and, singularly enough, a fragment of his quivering jaw flew
off and wedged into the jaw of his comrade—McNeil—and broke it.

Early in the morning of the 4th April, Lieutenant Bainbrigge of the
engineers was killed. He had given directions to corporal William Baker
of the seventh company, relative to strengthening the parapet of a
battery to the left of No. 9, in the second parallel right attack, when
a shell was observed coming towards them from the Redan. Roth were on
the open without the remotest chance of taking cover. To avoid the
danger the corporal started to the right, the young subaltern to the
left, as if to allow the missile to pass between them. At that instant
it plunged at the feet of the officer, and bursting, blew his body to
atoms. The corporal was untouched. There were, at the time, fifteen of a
working party in a shallow trench, throwing earth from the front to the
merlon of the battery, but not a man was struck.

Next night corporal J. J. Stanton, with four sappers, was entrusted with
the extension of the third parallel, right attack. He was a daring man
was the corporal, and flying on with the work, he laid himself no less
than 170 gabions. His four overseers filled them with bags of sand,
handed forward by a working party of 200 men, who also broke the ground
and improved the cover, despite an annoying fire from the rifle-pits
about fifty yards in front. The soil fortunately was easy, and the men
worked so well that, when the morning relief arrived, the parapet had
risen to a height sufficient for a working party to improve the trench
by day. The corporal was named in brigade orders for his spirited
example and successful superintendence.

Increased exertions were turning to deadly account all the means
necessary for giving magnitude and certainty to the operations.
Everywhere the works were rising in different forms, menacing in aspect,
which, only for the wide area of stony clay and rock which covered the
hills, would, by this time, have almost intermingled with the advanced
positions of the Russians. Impenetrable by pickaxe, mining was the
common process of dislodging the stones. At particularly hard or exposed
works it was impossible to employ any but sappers. The 21-gun battery,
insatiable in its wants, commanded the zeal of strong parties. Rifle
screens were begun, deepened, or improved far away in advance to pioneer
the enterprise. That system of hostile espionage had been so successful,
it was enlarged to lessen the fire of the enemy’s tirailleurs. An
advanced excavation had been formed across the Woronzoff road in the
middle ravine; but this not affording sufficient security against a
surreptitious sortie, was further defended by a stout chevaux-de-frise
fixed some distance in its front. Splinter-proof surgeries were also
constructed, intimating an impending struggle. Limestone caverns in the
sides of the hills were converted into receptacles for ammunition,
shells, &c., and their rude entrances were protected by walls of
sand-bags and dry stones. Other magazines were also made by driving
galleries under the super-incumbent rock into a bed of clay resting on a
vein of shells. Scooping out the earth between, artificial caves were
thus formed with rocky roofs and testaceous floors. To provide against
the chances of the arches falling in, by the concussion of heavy mortars
in the batteries, strong props were fixed in those grottoes, and the
powder deposited within them was preserved by the usual contrivances.
All the revetments were put into fighting trim, and embrasures cut or
masked as events dictated. The merlons, too, were thickened, so also
were the traverses and parapets, more particularly in the parts where
the works standing on the crests of the hills in advance were the most
exposed. On the right attack, the sappers were driving on vigorously in
advance of the second parallel. The first night’s work for this object
was given on the 3rd April. In a short time the zig-zag was run out to
the intended point, and turning off like a shepherd’s crook, it seemed
as if it were ambitious to hook on to the Redan.

Three days later, seventy men were employed on the left attack, forming,
on the right extremity of the third parallel, a work for two 9-pounders.
Four hours they had laboured at it, when daylight having exposed them,
the field officer refused to permit the continuance of their services.
As, however, it was important to push the work, Major Chapman, of the
20th regiment, the assistant engineer on duty, ordered ten sappers under
lance-corporal Robert Hanson, to repair to the trench. It was a clear
morning and the work exciting. Gabions and fascines had been laid by a
previous party, so that the sappers were covered from musketry, though
not from heavier missiles. As they were strengthening the parapet, the
earth thrown up being seen by the enemy, a fire of every description of
projectile, even links of chain, was hurled against it. In some measure
to prevent accident, a “look-out man,” in turn, took his station at the
head of the trench to peep round the hot corner. Sweeping with a quick
eye the cordon of ordnance in front, the caution to “look out” came
thick and fast. In time it was so rapidly reiterated, occasioning
interruptions which did not coincide with the men’s notions of progress,
that, preferring to toil without this species of questionable
assistance, the “look out man” was withdrawn, and made to unite his
strength with the shovellers. With faultless energy and confidence, they
persevered in the work though harassed by an incessant fire, with grape
in clusters, blown from mortars, dropping into the trench. Presently a
shot crashed against the revetment, capsized three gabions and two
fascines, wounded lance-corporal James Veal in the neck, and knocking
down corporal Hanson, buried him beneath the rubbish. There was great
reason to fear that the smash was fatal, and Major Chapman, who happened
to be in the work at the moment, called out in the forlorn hope of
receiving a reply, “Are you hurt, corporal?” Unexpectedly there was a
movement in the mass; the gabions rolled lazily aside as the corporal
struggled from the debris; and in springing to his feet he cheerfully
exclaimed, “All right, sir!” The perils of the battery were of a nature
to induce Major Chapman instantly to withdraw the sappers. Two nights
after, the work was finished and its embrasures were opened.

On the day of the 7th, lance-corporals Rinhy and Jenkins were building a
magazine in No. 8 battery of the left attack. The timbers were just
rising when, seeing a 13-inch shell approaching from the Flagstaff, the
latter dashed between the uprights and screened himself behind a
traverse. Rinhy, less fortunate, had to endure all the horrors of
anticipated annihilation, for the shell, plunging towards him, passed
with the swiftness of a meteor an inch or two from his back, and in
bursting carried away the frame, without touching the carpenter.

During the next night the mouths of No. 7 battery, on the left attack,
were cut by a strong party of sappers, but the deep mud in the
excavations did not admit of the guns being moved into position, so that
in the interim the openings were blinded with sand-bag screens.

Extra exertions were made in every work for an impending bombardment.
All the sappers available for duty, including those even who had been
relieved from the front at six o’clock in the morning, were dispersed
through the batteries, mending the soaked embrasures and parapets.

The weather had been tempestuous, and the rain, which fell as in a
storm, flooded the trenches. The winds were howling and driving, and the
cold very great. To work under such disadvantages was exceedingly hard.
“Man or beast,” says ‘The Times,’[174] “could not remain without some
shelter. Not a man is now out, except the shivering camp sentinels and
the men employed in the batteries.”


Footnote 165:

  The siege passed and peace returned without the chance of using them.
  Mr. Deane, the subaqueous engineer, was sent to the Crimea to carry
  out services in connection with his profession. After Sebastopol had
  fallen he recovered about thirteen guns sunk in the inner harbour.
  Private John Williams, an excellent diver, who had been employed at
  the ‘Royal George,’ under Sir Charles Pasley, pushed into the idle
  dress one day when Mr. Deane was away and dived, bringing up, as the
  fruit of his exertions, a brass 8-pounder field-piece and a
  gun-carriage, with harness for horses attached. This was the only
  opportunity, and a stolen one it was, that he, or any sapper, had of
  proving his efficiency in submarine operations.

Footnote 166:

  Granted by the Queen under authority, dated 12th January, 1855. See
  ante, pp. 185-187.

Footnote 167:

  The bridge was thrown, under the direction of Major Bent, by the
  sappers and miners, and a party of French pontoneers. The duty of the
  seamen was confined to the nautical arrangements for the undertaking,
  which comprised the labour of bringing the boats and securing them
  stem and stern.

Footnote 168:

  During a night of searching cold, some sappers made a blaze with a few
  bits of broken gabions and fascines in the tool store in rear of No. 2
  battery. It had nearly burnt out when private Corrigan going in for a
  warm, chided the men for not keeping up a better fire. “I know where
  some good charcoal can be found,” said he, and off he went to collect
  it, bringing in with him, soon after, a number of _nice_ little balls,
  firmly compacted and crisped with the frost. “Now for it,” said the
  firemaster, impressed with the importance of his success, and speaking
  contemptuously of the discrimination of his comrades, “we shall soon
  have a fire worth looking at.” With the confidence of one proud of his
  discovery he stirred up the sticks, and throwing a few pieces of the
  compound on the expiring embers, they soon ignited, and to the
  unutterable amazement of the group, exploded! Corrigan had perhaps the
  greatest reason to be astonished at the treacherous behaviour of his
  “patent fuel,” for besides having the hair of his head, moustache, and
  beard burnt to the roots, his face was so scorched and scarified, it
  took three weeks to cure him of an injury which the Doctors had
  latinized into “Ambustio.” The ingredient with which Corrigan hoped to
  make a roaring bivouac fire, consisted of some damaged powder which,
  removed from the magazine of No. 2 battery, had been thrown loosely
  over the ground, and, in mingling with the mud, had in time solidified
  into lumps wearing those pleasing characteristics which, in intense
  cold weather, was so apt to deceive a poor shivering soul. Ever after,
  whatever expedients the sappers employed to light their trench fires,
  they took care not to be beguiled into the use of “Corrigan’s

Footnote 169:

  Letter from Sir John Burgoyne, dated 5th February, 1855.

Footnote 170:

  The Commissioners, sent to the Crimea to inquire into certain matters
  of mismanagement, in their Second Report, dated January, 1856, stated,
  that “the date at which the hutting commenced was in no case earlier
  than the end of January or beginning of February, and it was not
  completed before the end of March.” This information, obtained from
  evidences, who no doubt spoke from recollection, is certainly

Footnote 171:

  A party of French sappers arrived at Southampton early in December,
  1854, to superintend the embarkation of huts for the Imperial army in
  the Crimea. From the moment of their landing they were shown every
  respect by the British sappers in that city, and, moreover, provided
  by them with a generous entertainment at the Floating House Tavern.
  The meeting was one of unmixed friendship, as if there never had been,
  between the nations, any differences or dissimilar sympathies to mar
  its cordiality. Two corps of neighbouring nations, bearing
  corresponding names, socially joined at the same feast, is perhaps a
  unique incident. The guests were represented by Mons. Von Doyson and
  sergeant Tagnier, whose speeches, with those of sergeant-major Steel,
  quartermaster-sergeant Simpson, and colour-sergeant Spencer, were warm
  and fraternal. The toasts were such as might have been expected in so
  loyal a gathering. After shipping no less than 1,850 huts to
  accommodate 45,000 men, the French sappers sailed for Sebastopol in
  January, 1855.

Footnote 172:

  Killed at the assault of the Rifle-pits 19th April.

Footnote 173:

  The cross bore this simple epitaph:—“To the memory of a Captain, a
  Comrade, and a Friend; Captain A. D. Craigie, Royal Engineers, killed
  by the bursting of a shell, March 13, 1855.” Corporal Geo. H. Collins
  fashioned the cross and cut the inscription.

Footnote 174:

  April 24, 1855.

                           9th to 19th April.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

Second bombardment—Gallant exertions of individual sappers—Repairing a
  magazine—Assistance to a comrade in an embrasure—Fatal meeting of
  schoolfellows—Cheerfulness in suffering—Slippery platforms—Repairing
  telegraph wire—Resistance of the magazines—Inkermann lighthouse
  battery—Progress of the siege—Mud in the trenches—Battery for two
  light field-pieces—Magazine on fire—Burning sand-bag on a
  merlon—Fixing mantlets—Unshrinking labours of sappers—Damages and
  repairs—Progress of the siege and works—Gallantry of two sappers—and
  two linesmen—Noble perseverance in an embrasure—Exertions at the
  batteries—Explosion of a magazine—No. 9 battery, left attack—Gallant
  extension of left advance sap, right attack—Devotion and firmness of
  the last leading sapper in it—Progress of the works—Capture of the
  rifle-pits—Gallantry of sergeant McDonald—Casualties—Devotion of
  corporal Coles—Acknowledgment of services of sappers in the attack.

As most of the works were ready it was considered advisable not to delay
the second bombardment, which, on the morning of the 9th April,
commenced on our side from 101 guns and mortars. Nearly all our
batteries were in full play, whilst the Russians, opening by degrees a
powerful array of ordnance from their extensive defences, checked the
otherwise irresistible vigour of our well-served armaments. On the left
attack, after blocking up a gap made for the passage of artillery, the
workmen were withdrawn to the first parallel to place them out of
immediate danger, leaving thirteen sappers with Captain Belson to attend
to the urgent details of the fighting batteries. On the right attack
there were 28 men of the corps dressed like their comrades on the left,
in waterproofs and long boots. During the cannonading, 90 soldiers of
the line fed the sappers with sand-bags for the 21-gun battery, and
assisted them in covering the roof of a magazine in 12-mortar battery.
Other sappers worked in No. 10 battery in providing channels for
clearing away the mud which obstructed the artillerymen at the guns. The
damage done by the enemy’s fire was comparatively trifling, and the
breaches, in all vital cases, were promptly restored. Iron gabions made
of the hoops of barrels and the bands of trusses of compressed hay,
were, for the first time, opposed to discharges of heavy metal, and
proved their excellence for defence. The Madras platform, still in use,
only added to the cumulative facts of its inutility. The Russians fired
about one shot to the besiegers’ three; yet the result of this battering
fell marvellously short of what was expected. “The sappers behaved
remarkably well” this day, and second-corporal James Edward McKimm and
private Neil McInnes, of the corps, were mentioned in brigade orders for
their energy and ardour in repairing the works in exposed situations.

The corporal was in charge of eight sappers and a detachment of the line
in the 21-gun battery, and, by his example, excited so strong an
emulation among his men, that the repairs were executed with beautiful
rapidity. Late in the day, when his parties—which had toiled for many
hours with scarcely a minute’s rest—began to show signs of exhaustion,
his conduct was marked by an energy which seemingly rekindled with his
straits. Moving from embrasure to embrasure, he worked upon the tired
powers of the men by his own manly labours, aiding them, when, from lack
of strength or spirit, they were unable to cope with the
quickly-recurring damages. McInnes and John Harris, his most willing
assistants, kept up to the last, but McInnes was the most distinguished
sapper of the day. He had charge of the repairs of three embrasures; two
of them did not require much attention, but the one numbered 17 was
pressing in its wants. The firing upon it was very hot, and while
McInnes occupied the opening, building its cheeks with sand-bags, six
men were killed, and several wounded. Captain Crofton witnessing his
extreme exposure, desired him to suspend work, but the solid man with a
calm smile declined, observing, “I want to make a good job of it.” He
was, however, not permitted to do this, for Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden
soon after appeared, and ordered him from the embrasure. A private of
the 47th helped McInnes as long as he needed sand-bags, bravely
persisting in the duty, though he had been wounded in the head.

In the course of the day a shell entered a magazine in the vicinity of
McInnes’s work, which sheared away a portion of the roof. To wait for
adventitious chances to apply his skill in such cases was not his maxim,
and so walking up to the point of danger, commenced the repair, assisted
by private Patrick Nelles and two or three men of the 47th regiment; and
though another shell struck the roof, and threw the sand with violence
in his face, he gave himself up to the work with so noble a pertinacity
that Captain Peel of the navy, eulogized his exertions to Captain
Crofton; and when the time arrived for showing the estimate made of his
soldier-like bearing and activity, he was awarded a medal for
distinguished service accompanied by a gratuity of five pounds.

“The country,” wrote Lord Raglan, “was covered with water, and the
ground was again very deep. The trenches were likewise extremely muddy,
and their condition added greatly to the labours of the men employed in
the batteries, chiefly of sailors, artillerymen, and sappers. They
conducted their duties admirably.”[175]

In the 21-gun battery the revetment of an embrasure had tumbled down and
covered the muzzle of a gun. Corporal McGinn at once jumped into the
aperture to remove the debris. Seeing him unassisted sergeant Joseph
Morant forced among the rubbish, and while the corporal laid the bags,
the sergeant shovelled up the earth and packed it to give firmness to
the structure. The day was very wet, and the earth which had fallen on
the sole of the embrasure, had become so muddy and greasy, they found it
difficult to prevent themselves slipping into the ditch. Trying and
hazardous as was the duty, the orifice was restored before the
adventurers quitted it.

In the same battery, Morant was speaking of by-gone times to two seamen,
one of whom, named Soper, had been “a school and form fellow” of the
sergeant. “This,” said he to Morant, “is not such a cricket-match as we
used to have at Portsmouth, and I’d advise you to look well to your
stumps.” Scarcely had he uttered the caution when a shot carried away
his head, and scattered his brains over the breast of his old

One sapper—private Thomas Muir—was dangerously wounded in the calf of
the right leg, while mending the embrasure of the right 68-pounder gun
in the 21-gun battery. As sergeant Morant was marching the party down
the middle ravine, he jocosely remarked to Muir, that one or the other
would be struck that day. Two hours after, Muir passed on a stretcher,
and seeing Morant, he called out with unmistakeable cheerfulness, “You
see, sergeant, I’m the first struck;” and onwards he was borne to the
camp, singing all the way, as if for the entertainment of his bearers,
some of those inspiriting Scotch airs which connected his heart with
home. Amputation was resorted to to save his life, but gradually
sinking, he died on the 15th May.

Towards the close of the day the sappers busied themselves in draining
the trenches, wretchedly deep in water and mud. Sawdust was scattered on
the platforms to relieve them from slipperiness. Sliding about in every
direction on the unctuous soil, the heavy mortars were unmanageable, and
so to help the gunners in moving them, they were supplied with iron-shod
handspikes from the engineer park. At night 58 sappers were thrown into
the left attack, and about 28 into the right, and through the darkness
and storm, though miserably wet and cold, completed all the essential
restorations by the following morning. “The officers of engineers,”
writes Major-General Jones, “and sappers and miners continue active and
zealous; the duty in this weather is very hard and severe upon them.”

For some time the field electric telegraph had been in operation under
Lieutenant Stopford. It was worked by several sappers, sergeant Anderson
being the chief executive non-commissioned officer. By the 8th April,
lines of communication were open to the stations of divisions, to the
trenches, and to head-quarters. That night the wire was laid to a cave
near the first parallel on the right attack. It was no sooner completed
than the sergeant received an order from Lieutenant Stopford to fix an
instrument and battery in the cave, to obtain two orderlies from the
covering party in the trenches, and apprise head-quarters as soon as the
service was accomplished. This done, Anderson was directed to remain and
work the instrument. Pleased with this the first appointment to the
station—a dismally picturesque spot it was—he sent and received several
messages. Among the latter was one to the general in command of the
trenches, “to open fire from every gun at daylight.” The bombardment
commenced at daybreak, but in the midst of the din, at ten o’clock in
the morning, an orderly, in breathless haste, delivered a note to the
sergeant announcing the rather startling news that no communication
could be sent to him from head-quarters, as it was supposed the wire was
cut. He was, therefore, directed to examine and repair it. With some of
the party, off he started, in a drenching rain, driving through sheets
of water and swamp, and sinking at every step midleg in mud. He did not
require to use the galvanometer to test the wire, for after bounding
over the 21-gun battery, he soon found the spot where the current was
interrupted. It was in the Woronzoff ravine, near the road, and in rear
of the battery. A Russian 68-pounder had cut the line and laid about
five feet of it bare. The duty was not devoid of danger. Shells burst
around and shots flew by, but none of the manipulators were hurt.
Removing the damaged wire, the sergeant replaced it with an approved
piece, securing the connection by two joints; and after covering it with
gutta-percha, relaid it in the furrow. It was a delicate operation to be
performed under fire and required a cool head and a steady hand to
effect it. On returning to the cave his situation was extremely
disagreeable. Driven by a cutting wind, the rain beat into the chamber,
and pattered against the faces of the operators. At whatever cost, the
sergeant was determined to maintain the instrument in working order,
and, accordingly, without any consideration for his own comfort, took
off his mackintosh, and with it hooded the instrument which was yet to
carry out important correspondences. There was no rest in the cave; the
mind was anxious, the eye on the stretch; and in that miserable hole,
for more than thirty hours, the sergeant was at his post. When relieved,
he again passed along the communication to mend it, if necessary; but in
all parts it was efficient, although he found six shot holes and several
cannon balls lying on the line. His two orderlies belonged to the 47th
regiment, intelligent and willing men, who exerted themselves creditably
in conveying the various messages to the trenches of both attacks.

Next day the bombardment was renewed. There were 36 sappers in the right
works, and 30 in the left. The ordnance organized to play on the Russian
works were about 94 pieces. Much injury was done to the magazines,
embrasures, and parapets, chiefly by the heavy rains causing the
sand-bag revetments to yield in several places. Though struck by several
shot, the magazines on the whole stood well. One in the 21-gun battery
bore up against the shock of a 13-inch shell. It was nevertheless much
riven, but rapidly repaired. A 10-inch shell exploded on a magazine
close to General Jones, simply disturbing a few sand-bags and the
superincumbent earth.

The casualties were very few. Among them was Lieutenant Graves of the
engineers, who received a contusion from stones thrown up by a shot
striking a damaged embrasure, the repair of which by a sapper he was
superintending. Private John Baston was also severely wounded and
lance-corporal Peter Towell slightly. “The sappers behaved very well in
repairing the embrasures, and even reconstructing them under fire;” and
the coolness and soldier-like conduct in this service of privates George
Harris, second company, and William Bruce of the seventh, were brought
to the attention of Lord Raglan, and also communicated to the corps in
general orders.

Early in the morning a corporal and five sappers were sent to the
Inkermann light-house battery on the extreme right of the French
position, to open embrasures and fit the work to share in the
bombardment. It was manned at the time by British artillerymen, and the
sappers were despatched to the battery at the instance of the adjutant
of the siege-train. Two embrasures only were cut through, when the eager
gunners opened fire on the enemy. So weak an armament brought upon it a
crushing cannonade, which effected considerable mischief before the
Russian fire could be drawn off to other batteries. Corporal Ramsay—“a
valuable man”[176]—“one of the best corporals at the right attack, and a
most efficient sapper”[177]—was killed by a round shot, which made a
trough in his chest and tore out his heart. Of this non-commissioned
officer Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden thus wrote: “This morning corporal
Ramsay was killed while at his duty in charge of a detachment opening
embrasures of the battery opposite to the light-house at Inkermann; and
such is the high character this non-commissioned officer bore, and such
the very high opinion entertained of his merits and services since he
joined the siege, that I am inclined to submit to the major-general
commanding royal engineer, that some recognition of his merit be
recorded in corps orders.” Impressed with the justice of this
suggestion, Lord Raglan gave directions that his name and deeds be
recorded at Chatham. Private William Taylor was severely wounded in the
right hand. Two casualties out of this weak brigade induced the
artillery adjutant to relinquish the employment of the men by day in so
fatal a spot. At night the work was completed by four sappers under the
foremanship of corporal George Cann.

During the night of the 10th there were allotted to the engineers
seventy-three sappers, who were so disposed that the repairs were
executed with promptitude. The trenches were knee-deep in mud; the night
was foggy, and the wind and rain, though heightening the miseries of the
men, scarcely interrupted their exertions. Of the 9-pounder battery on
the left attack, the revetments of one of its epaulments, penetrated by
wet, subsidized and partially tumbled down. Efforts were made to restore
it, but the morning broke before the desired solidity was attained. In
every battery of the first parallel the embrasures were rebuilt and
several magazines repaired and strengthened. Three embrasures were also
reconstructed in the Picket House battery, and several gun and mortar
platforms mended in different places. Among the numerous works on the
right, the 21-gun battery and those bearing the numbers 8 and 11 claimed
especial attention. When the working party had been removed at three
o’clock in the morning three brigades of sappers were retained to finish
the repairs. By daylight the embrasures, merlons, and parapets were all
squared, even to their crests, and ready again for action.

Sixty-six fresh sappers were at work on the 11th. With the assistance of
strong parties of the line all essential repairs were made to the
batteries, traverses, &c. Sand-bags were filled in great numbers, and a
magazine cave on the left of the second parallel of the Chapman attack
was completed. The mud was cleared away in several places to the depth
of eight inches. Pools standing in hollows or rocky localities were
drained off and a flooded magazine was relieved of the storm water by
baling. Difficulties like these added vastly to the fatigues of the
workmen, and now and then, as a shell with its roaring fuze plunged near
them, their only resource for safety was to dive into the turbid soil,
from which, when the danger passed, they arose more picturesque than
comfortable. The Major-General commanding made known in orders his
appreciation of the good conduct of the companies in performing the
laborious duties required of them in the siege.

Corporal William Hollis and private Joseph Finch were this day
distinguished among their comrades for quickness and cleverness in the
batteries, imperilled as were their lives by the enemy’s fire. It
occurred in this way. The parapet on the right of No. 8 battery in the
third parallel of the left attack had been washed down by the storm for
several yards. It was an object of great moment to restore it, with a
view to protect from enfilade a two-gun battery on its right. The ground
was so muddy the two sappers were obliged to undermine the low parapet
by drawing from it some dry earth and spreading it in the direction of
their exertions to render their task less heavy. No sooner had they
repaired the revetment with sand-bags and thickened the work as far as
an elbow of the trench, than they were appointed to clear the embrasures
of the new battery on the right for two light field-pieces to play on
the quarries, which, harbouring a nest of expert marksmen, picked off
our artillerymen at the guns. Wanted in a hurry, it was impossible to
provide platforms in the time named, and a couple of boards for one gun
having been laid to assist the recoil, in a few minutes a 9-pounder was
run up to the aperture and fired on the quarries. At every discharge the
boards sank deeper into the soil; now one, then the other was depressed
so much that the gun heeled on either side and threw it out of the line
of aim. Energetic attempts were made by the sappers to rectify the
defect by forcing earth under the plank which happened to be lower; but
the next discharge driving the boards still deeper in the mud and
tilting the gun it was evidently useless to persevere in a service which
demanded labour altogether disproportioned to its questionable
advantages. Both embrasures were finished and supplied with temporary
platforms in the night, and afterwards the battery swelled into a
formidable structure—No. 14—armed with 32-pounders.

Larger contingents of men were sent to the attacks the following night,
among whom were 90 sappers and miners. This was rather an effective
party, and the weakened works were reproduced in as strong a condition
as practicable. A new mortar-battery—No. 12 on the right—was also
completed, and the great 21-gun work, with its ragged revetments, worn
platforms, and disfigured magazines and traverses, was adjusted in a
manner that, however dexterous were the men who wearied themselves in
patching up its breaches, still bore the rugged features of its stern

The dawn of the 12th opened with the customary firing, but its results
were far more serious than for the few days previous. The enemy had
ascertained the range of the 21-gun battery with so much exactness that
every shot or shell, falling true at the work, tore up its embrasures
and parapets. Two 13-inch shells, however, fell upon magazines without
breaking through them. From splinters of shells the casualties were
many. In the naval brigade alone about twelve men were killed and
wounded. Captain Crofton of the Engineers was severely injured and died
of his wounds. Private Alfred Jarratt was killed; both of his legs were
carried away: and three privates were wounded. One—Donald McArthur—died
a few days after the amputation of one of his legs, and James Bayne had
his jaw fractured and his left cheek wounded.

A live shell having struck the roof of the magazine near the right
68-pounder gun in the 21-gun battery, some of the sandbags took fire.
Apprehending danger, Captain Peel of the navy begged some soldiers near
him to quench it, who, indisposed to risk an enterprise so perilous,
refused compliance. Two sappers superintending the man-o’-war’s men,
though busy in repairing the embrasures, were then called on by the
Captain to extinguish the burning bags. Without hesitation, corporal
James Wright and lance-corporal William J. Lendrim leaped on the roof,
and, under fire from the enemy, quickly removed them, refilling the
chasm with fresh sand-bags. Captain Peel himself assisted in the work.
The delay of a few seconds might have seen the magazine in the air and
the ground strewed with lifeless artillerymen. In descending, Captain
Peel thanked the sappers for their exertions; but they had scarcely time
to reflect on the service they had accomplished when a ball tearing
through the battery covered them with earth. At this addendum to their
labours the sailors chuckled with their accustomed mirth, and swore that
was the fulsome way in which the Russians always bespattered the British
with praise.

The same day Lendrim was about to enter an embrasure to remove a
sand-bag which was burning on the sole, when the petty officer in charge
of the gun mounted there requested him not to do so until he had fired,
as the piece was already loaded. While waiting, a very young naval
officer approached, and asked Lendrim why he delayed the service. He
soon explained, but the midshipman as quick as thought leaped into the
opening and threw the bag on the merlon. Piqued at this interference,
Lendrim told the officer he did not thank any one for doing a duty for
which he was responsible; and added, “Since you have done so much you
had better finish the job.” With as much good sense as good nature, the
officer, seeing the chafed spirit of the sapper, did not attempt to
supplant him, and so Lendrim sprang into the embrasure. With some water
brought to him by an assistant line soldier he quenched the smoking
sand-bag and patched up the breach in the stricken check. Witnessing the
corporal’s coolness and celerity the officer observed, evidently to
dissipate the unpleasant feeling which his daring had induced, “I would
not have touched the bag had I known you were one of the old sappers.”
Lendrim was more than satisfied with this complimentary apology.

Sixteen extra sappers were sent to the left in the afternoon for exposed
duty, and in two or three hours fixed mantlets across the gaping mouths
of No. 7 battery. Under fire all the time the operation was necessarily
hurried, and did not admit of those nice attentions which unopposed
exertions would have permitted. The mantlets were simply suspended
across the openings on a piece of wood jambed into the parapets of the
embrasures. Four guns of the battery did good service against the
Boulevard works. In the course of the evening two of the mantlets were
blown away, but the battery stood up firmly.

In allusion to the officers and men under this date ‘The Times’ thus
speaks of their unshrinking labours:—“It is impossible to deny to the
Russian engineers great credit for the coolness with which they set
about repairing damages under fire; but words cannot do more than
justice to the exertions of our own men and to the engineer officers and
sappers engaged in this most perilous duty. When an embrasure is struck
and injured it is the business of the sappers to get into the vacant
space and repair the damage, removing the gabions, &c., under fire, and
without the least cover from shot, shell, or riflemen. Our engineer
officers have frequently set the example to their men in exposing
themselves when not called upon to do so; and I believe that, as yet,
there has not been a single instance in which a gun has been silent
owing to damage done to an embrasure. The officers and men charged with
this dangerous work have not waited for the cover of night to effect
repairs, but have carried them on in the face of the enemy.”[178] This
eulogium is corroborated by a conversation held between two officers of
the engineers, in which one exclaimed to the other, “How admirably and
cool these sappers behave under fire. They are really good men and brave

As the night crept on 900 of the line and 89 sappers marched into the
trenches, who, scattered among the batteries, left no point
unstrengthened, no embrasure unequal to its wonted work. Everywhere the
platforms obtained fixity, and the gaps which had been made in the
parapets for the passage of cumbersome guns were filled up before the
darkness sped. Much shattered was the Gordon battery, and its fascines,
broken at the bands, were strewn in waste about the gorges, while the
sand-bags were ripped up and disembowelled by every telling shot and
tearing splinter. Iron gabions and fresh sand-bags were pressed into the
embrasures to patch up their furrowed cheeks, and the shot-holes behind
were plugged up with earth. A new sand-bag battery for four guns on the
right attack was founded this night in rear of the left communication
from the 8-gun battery to the left boyau. Much would have been done to
raise it, but the night was dismally dark, and as rain was falling the
men straggled on the road and loitered in their tasks. With fruitless
effect the engineers and sappers tried to awaken in the workmen
something like passable animation. Nevertheless 1,600 sand-bags reached
the site and the sappers tossed and packed them in their places with
nonchalant dexterity. Though much annoyed by fire from opposing
rifle-screens, four men, superintending 100 of the infantry, made good
progress in rendering defensible the advanced works on the left of the
second parallel across the Woronzoff road, and six sappers in the 8-gun
battery first relieved it of the debris which choked up the embrasures
and then masked them. Early in the morning private Joseph McAsh was

The fifth day’s bombardment commenced on the 13th April, and No. 9
battery on the right attack opened for the first time on the Malakoff
and Mamelon. Until ready to fire its embrasures were blinded with hide
bags filled with hay, which effectually answered the intention of their
employment. No. 7 battery on the left was silenced by overpowering
discharges upon it from the Upper Garden batteries. It was, moreover,
much broken and its salients knocked into grotesque forms. Ninety-four
sappers were in the trenches eleven hours giving heed to the
quickly-recurring urgencies of the siege. In the following night No. 7
battery was again in battle order, and No. 8, which had been delayed
from untoward vicissitudes in weather, was also provided with its
equipment of heavy guns. About this time the scaling-ladders at the
parks were prepared and held in readiness with selected parties of
sappers to take advantage of any event that might turn up by tactics or
strategy to render an assault desirable.

In a despatch dated 14th April Lord Raglan remarked:—“Our parapets and
batteries continue to stand remarkably well, notwithstanding the very
unfavourable state of the weather. Although the duties have been
unusually severe and arduous both by night and day during the week they
have been carried out with the utmost cheerfulness and zeal, reflecting
much credit both on officers and men.” The necessity for these repairs
and exertions were constant, and never more so than on the date of the

Captain Burnett of the navy, who narrowly watched the efforts made to
execute the repairs in the 21-gun battery, was impressed with the
steadiness and intelligent activity of privates Robert Crawford Cowan
and William Baker, seventh company, while working at the embrasure for
the Lancaster gun. It was mended with gabions, fascines, and sand-bags.
Completing the restoration before quitting the opening, their gallant
perseverance, despite the bursting of shells and the flight of Miniés,
was recorded by Major-General Jones in brigade orders. Indeed the cheeks
were thrice patched up during the day by these intrepid men who also
attended to the lesser damages in Nos. 15 and 16 embrasures. With No. 17
embrasure, these three constituted, in the homely phraseology of the
sailors, “the slaughter-house.” Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden also observed
that he could mention other sappers who were zealous and unflinching
under fire; “but,” he proceeds, “I am glad to be able to report that the
men generally do their duty so well that there are few who can be named
as exceptions.” Private William Smale was severely wounded this day in
the right leg by the splinter of a shell while repairing a platform in
the 21-gun battery.

It will not, perhaps, be misplaced to mention here the names of privates
Samuel Evans and James Callaghan of the 19th regiment. Seeing a
sapper—private Alexander McCaughey—toiling by himself in the difficult
repair of a broken embrasure—No. 17 of the 21-gun battery—the former
voluntarily went into the opening and shared with the overseer the duty
of removing the debris. The latter received a blow on the head from a
stone sufficient to draw blood, and certainly sufficient for ninety-nine
men out of a hundred to get excused from a working party, but he
nevertheless remained steadily at work.[179] These instances of devotion
were noticed in general orders and praised by Lord Raglan.

After the embrasure spoken of was cleared Evans quitted it; and private
David Thompson, who had just finished the repair of a neighbouring one,
came to the assistance of McCaughey. Both were robust men, immovable in
danger, and nobly stood the fire of two guns from the Redan, the
accurate aim of which sent several missiles into the work. Of one cheek
they had replaced the gabions and partly filled them, when a 68-pounder
shot swept four of them from the row, and shortly after another whizzed
closely over Thompson’s head as he was springing from the sole to avoid
the threatened blow. In another instant both were at work again, but as
the firing became still warmer, their labour was obviously as fruitless
as that of Sisyphus. “You cannot do impossibilities, men,” said Captain
Owen, who witnessed their perseverance, and ordered them from the
aperture, which, on leaving, they blinded with a gabion. The gun mounted
in rear of the opening was a 68-pounder, and a black sailor, considered
to be one of the best artillerists in the battery, usually fired it.
McCaughey was “considered an able and active sapper for difficult duty
in the trenches;” a character he well sustained throughout the siege.

Throughout the following night spirited efforts were made to mend the
breaches sustained in the day. There were nearly 700 of the line and 82
of the corps given up to these midnight labours. Great as the force was
it scarcely fulfilled the immediate requirements of an exacting siege.
Mist and rain fell through the darkness, the men were drenched, and the
wind swept with unfriendly chills over the hills; but before the morning
the damages were nearly all made good in battery and trench to prolong a
contest the end of which was still far distant.

As the morning arose with renewed demands and dangers the engineers for
the day were early astir, and the works so gravely handled by the
enemy’s fire still looked haughty and imposing. To a working party of
480 linesmen there were 50 sappers, who, for the most part, were
detailed to the 21-gun battery, upon which the fire from the Redan had a
mischievous effect. Worn and battered as it was the embrasures were
repaired without any appreciable interruption of the besiegers’ fire.
Between the rounds the sappers leaped into the apertures and built up as
much of their cratered faces as the activity they could command
permitted. Those working in the left advanced approach towards the crest
of the hill overlooking the Woronzoff road were much impeded by
discharges of round shot and musketry from the Redan, during which,
flying on with the sap, private John Lethbridge and one of the working
party were killed. “The conduct of the officers and men,” wrote
Major-General Jones, “has been such as to merit the warmest approbation
of the Major-General commanding; the duties on which they have been
employed being most arduous and requiring the greatest steadiness.”

Next night 87 sappers were in the trenches, and in the succeeding day
60. The 21-gun battery, cleared of its old gabions and fascines, was
resuscitated by the morning and fired well in the day’s struggle.
Advantages always seem to be chased away or ridden over by catastrophes,
for a magazine in the centre of the work, visited by a shell which
obtruded at the door, blew up and killed a gunner and wounded eight or
nine more. Out of about thirty magazines on the right attack this was
the only one, after eight days’ firing, which broke up and collapsed.

Fifty-five sappers were allotted to the left attack, where No. 9
battery, commenced on the 14th April, was in course of completion. It
was cut for six pieces of ordnance; the rock cropping up to the surface
was blasted by some miners of the corps and the broken stones were built
into the parapet. Soil to fill the gabions was brought in basket-loads
from a sand cave on the left of the second parallel, which subsequently
was converted into a magazine for ammunition. Alderson platforms were
laid in the battery by the sapper carpenters on the 16th with so much
expedition that their usefulness and skill were noticed with encouraging
commendation. The battery was completed and armed by the 23rd.

Passing on to the night of the 17th, when 80 sappers were in the
lines—28 being on the right and 52 on the left—corporal Joseph J.
Stanton and four leading men, with 200 of the infantry, were detailed
for the extension of the left demi-parallel situated between the third
parallel and Egerton’s rifle-pit under Captain King of the engineers.
The little brigade crept silently to the head of the sap, and after
placing the gabions crammed them with sand-bags passed from hand to
hand. As the sappers steadily moved on, the working party broke the
ground and increased the cover. In this way, though the soil was very
rocky, about a hundred gabions obtained a footing before morning. It was
hot work to advance even the length of a yard, and gabion after gabion
torn from the row was gallantly replaced. Constant volleys from the
rifle-pit in front compelled the men to proceed with the greatest
caution and silence. Persevering in this way till reaching the brow of
the hill, they were stopped by an old Russian rifle-screen, which was
immediately reversed by transferring the large gabions and sand-bags
forming the original revetment to the opposite side. During the
operation Captain King was severely wounded in the thigh and expired a
few days after. Three of the sappers were also wounded—privates
Alexander McCaughey, John Limming, and George Hobson: the last was
wounded in the arm, had three or four bullets through his greatcoat, and
the frog of his waist-belt carried away. Among the workmen there were
five injured. Best able to judge of the exertions of the party,
Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden thus wrote of them:—“The conduct of the
sappers under Captain King and the working party under Major Welsford,
97th regiment, exposed the whole time to a most galling and dangerous
fire, was admirable.”

Private Boyland carried Captain King from the trench to the 21-gun
battery, and though such an act might fairly have excused him from
further duty that night, he returned with all haste to his post. There
were still between fifty and sixty gabions to place. Hobson was at the
head of the sap, and the firing was close and destructive, for the
enemy’s ambuscades were only about twenty yards in front. In time Hobson
was disabled, and it became Boyland’s turn to lead. He was pushing on
very successfully, when Colonel Tylden appeared, and seeing that the
opposition to progress was excessively sharp, he ordered Boyland to
place six gabions at a right angle to keep the enemy’s fire from
enfilading the new piece of trench. Ready and fearless, he commenced the
work; but, in order that it might be finished with greater expedition,
he begged, as all the sappers save the corporal who was superintending
had been wounded, to have the assistance of any men of the 88th who
would volunteer to join him. One was speedily at his service. The
gabions were quickly planted despite an unceasing fusillade; but while
filling them with sand-bags, the poor 88th man was shot through the
side. Calling for help, an officer sprang up to the gorge, and Boyland
and he bore the spirited volunteer under cover. Colonel Tylden, who was
never disposed to relinquish a moment’s work if he thought it could be
employed to advantage, would not permit the sapper, who had escaped so
many perils and whose firmness and exertions received his praise, to
return again that night to the head of the sap.

Day and night the companies furnished parties equivalent to their
strength for the inexhaustible wants of the siege. Batteries misshapen
and tottering, put on stubborn and threatening aspects after a few
hours’ toil. New armaments were made up, new batteries opened; and to
ensure their stedfastness, one at least boasted of a parapet 26 feet
thick. This was No. 13, a sand-bag battery on the right attack.
Approaches by the stealthy boyau were cautiously cut, but invariably
opposed by vigilant sharpshooters who held positions in screened
defences. For any one work, few only of the sappers could be spared.
Half a brigade was in this sap, half in that; two or three were in the
right rifle-pits, two or more in the left; nine in the most advanced
trenches placing gabions and protecting themselves by heaping up earth
from the tops of barren rocks; four at the communication between the
caves at the advanced post, and others deputed to an infinite variety of
field employment. So passed on the siege to the 19th April; and taking
the interval from the 17th, only one sapper, private James Queen, was
killed. He was shot through the head by a rifle-bullet. “Up to this
time,” says the record, “the repairs to the batteries injured by the
enemy’s fire have throughout been performed in a very satisfactory
manner by the sappers, many of whom have been particularly active and
zealous.” To the list of names already honourably mentioned, must be
added that of private James Lancaster of the 3rd company. Being a
powerful man, whom no amount of exertion could tire, he was conspicuous
for his very good work and coolness in forming a communication from the
left of No. 7 battery to the “Ovens.” He was the leading sapper in
scarping the rock under corporal Joseph T. Collins, and continued with
abiding zeal at this heavy service, though a constant rifle firing was
maintained on the work.

The rifle-pits on the left advance sap of the right attack had fatally
annoyed the besiegers in their foremost works, and it was determined
either to destroy or seize them. With this object they were attacked at
half-past nine o’clock in the evening of the 19th April. There were 600
bayonets of the 77th regiment engaged in this nocturnal assault,
commanded by Colonel Egerton. When the orders were given, the troops
rushed forward, and after a warm engagement for about half an hour, were
masters of the pits, with a loss of two officers and several men.
Colonel Egerton also sustained a contusion of the thigh. As soon as the
covering sentries were posted, Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden advanced with
the working party of 150 men, headed by colour-sergeant Henry McDonald
and six sappers, under the personal orders of Captain H. C. C. Owen and
Lieutenant Baynes of the engineers. The Russian gabions were quickly
faced about, the sand-bags thrown down, and after reducing the earth,
the enemy’s pits were incorporated with a communication which led to the
boyau in rear. The lodgment was achieved in about two hours, under a
roar of missiles from rifles and ordnance, with so little confusion and
so much gallantry, that the affair deserves to be characterized as a
dashing exploit.

Colour-sergeant McDonald took the lead in the sap, followed by private
Thomas Ewen and other sappers who planted the gabions as fast as they
could be handed up. The officers of engineers assisted pressing in their
turn to the very head. At intervals they and the sergeant moved among
the workmen, instructing them how to fill the gabions and where to lodge
the sand-bags. As the sergeant was pushing up the trench, he stumbled
over a prostrate officer; and on inquiring, found that Captain Owen was
at his feet, dangerously wounded. McDonald proposed to bear him from
danger on his back, but the captain, preferring a stretcher for the
purpose, one, after a little time, was brought by the sergeant. On this
field convenience Lieutenant Baynes and McDonald carried the wounded
officer bleeding from the pit. His left leg was afterwards amputated and
he lived to obtain the honours due to his heroic efforts. Finding some
sappers in the old trench sending up the gabions, Lieutenant Baynes
relieved the sergeant and sent him again to the pits, following himself
as soon as he had despatched the captain to the camp; but in forcing to
the front, this young officer was mortally wounded in the chest and arm.
In retracing his steps, McDonald was astonished to find the working
party running from the lodgment. Asking the reason, he was informed that
the Russians, in some strength, had driven up to the work and forced
them back. At once McDonald ordered them to stand, and after facing them
to the right-about, drew his sword and placed himself at their head.
Ewen was there ready to second his authority with any amount of daring
he might find it necessary to command. Seeing the Russians still
creeping over the works, the sergeant desired the workmen to kneel, and
after firing a volley, to charge. Strictly obeyed were the orders; the
charge was gallantly made, and the enemy having vanished before the cool
volley and the bayonet point, the pits were reoccupied and the lodgment
resumed. The commanding officer and Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden now
appeared, the covering party being about 200 yards away; and on learning
what had happened, Colonel Egerton praised the sergeant for his energy
and valour. To protect the linesmen from further molestation, the
colonel distributed a portion of the covering party in front of the
lodgment. Next in command of the workmen, McDonald aided
Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden in directing the new trench. Moving to the
gorge, still followed by Ewen, he quickly fixed the gabions one after
another, intermixing with them the Russian baskets and sand-bags. Just
as he had completed the curve at the vent of the sap, Colonel Tylden
again appeared, and laid with his own hands the last gabion. The steady
and zealous demeanour of the sergeant attracted the notice of Colonel
Egerton, who, standing over him, encouraged his exertions by
commendations and promises; but he too at last fell back severely
wounded by a grape-shot in the right side. Colonel Egerton was near at
the time and administered his brandy-flask to sustain, in a measure, the
drooping head of that brave soldier.

Three hours after the pits had been captured the enemy in strong force
made a sortie to recover them. So far had they succeeded, that the
sentries and workmen occupying the further screen were driven back into
the nearest trench; but the lodgment there had been so well managed and
its details so well carried out, that the troops holding it made sure
work of the defence, and the Russians, pressed at all points, hastily
retreated. Now it was that the valiant Colonel Egerton was killed. His
promises, however, were caught up by Colonel Tylden, who failed not to
make such a representation of sergeant McDonald’s conduct as earned for
him substantial reward and honour. After the hopeless abandonment of the
pits, the enemy, from the furthest screen, which was still in his
possession, kept up a constant rifle fire on the sappers and line in the
lodgment. Lieutenant James, royal engineers, directed them in their
final efforts till daylight, and received, as a sign of his presence, a
ball through his cap. He arrived just as McDonald fell; and himself,
with that good and constant man Ewen, assisted to bear the sergeant to
the rear.

The casualties in the assault were 6 officers and about 40 men. Of
these, three were sappers—the colour-sergeant before named,
lance-corporals John Evans, killed, and Peter Towell, dangerously
wounded. The right arm of the latter was broken, and the amputation
which followed ended in his death. This non-commissioned officer had
only been wounded a few nights before.

It should be noted to show the ardour of the man, though perhaps in many
cases such conduct would be imprudent, that corporal Samuel Cole left
his post at the sand-bag battery without orders and pitched into the
thick of the fight. In reversing the trench he laboured with great zeal,
and while endeavouring to place a gabion in a difficult spot, Evans, a
fearless soldier, not to be outdone in prowess, leaped outside the
trench and pressed the basket in the line. In this act of devotion he
fell by the blow of a grape-shot.

The following complimentary order was promulgated to the corps relative
to the assault:—

                  “Brigade orders before Sebastopol, April 23, 1855.

  “It was with much satisfaction that the Major-General Commanding
  received Lieut.-Colonel Tylden’s report of the able manner in which,
  on the night of the 19th instant, a lodgment was effected in the
  enemy’s rifle pit immediately in front of the left advance, ‘right
  attack,’ under Captain Owen and Lieutenant Baynes, R.E., whose zeal
  and gallantry were most conspicuous, while the conduct of
  colour-sergeant McDonald, royal sappers and miners, on the same
  occasion, when, in consequence of the above-named officers being
  severely wounded, he was left in charge of the working party, was not
  only highly creditable to that non-commissioned officer, but so
  distinguished as to attract the notice of the field officer commanding
  in the trenches; and the Major-General is glad to find, that the
  sappers engaged, exerted themselves with their accustomed energy.”


Footnote 175:

  Dispatch, 10th April, 1855.

Footnote 176:

  ‘Times,’ April 26, 1855.

Footnote 177:

  Captain, now Major Ewart, R.E., the sapper Adjutant in the Crimea.

Footnote 178:

  ‘Times,’ April 26, 1855.

Footnote 179:

  Light Division orders by Lieut.-General Sir George Brown, dated 16th
  April, 1855, taken from Captain Owen’s report to Major-General Jones
  two days earlier.

                          20th April-15th May.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

First day’s work in the lodgment—Improviséd grenades—Polish
  fusilier—Capture of the third rifle pit—Preliminary incidents
  connected with it—Saps issuing from the pits—No. 13 sand-bag
  battery—No. 9 battery, left attack—Building a magazine in
  day-time—Constancy of sappers in the trenches—But little relief
  afforded them—Apparent want of ingenuity in their camp
  arrangements—Reason why so few sappers die—Their miserable
  condition—Regimen; its effects—Care of the baggage animals—The means
  employed to preserve them becomes a vexed question—Rifle holes—No. 11
  battery, left attack—Generals’ and engineers’ huts—Diversified
  engagements of the sappers—Death of Lieutenant Carter—Progress of the
  works—Wells—Repairing the advance saps after a sortie—Expedition to
  the sea of Azoff—Storms of rain, and consequent difficulties in
  carrying on the works—Sortie—Effects of the rain—Endurance of the men
  exposed to it—Casualties.

Twenty armed men from the 7th foot were appointed to labour in the
captured pits on the 20th April, into which for about thirty yards they
crawled on their hands and knees. Sergeant Joseph Morant was with them,
so also was Lieutenant Sheehy, of the 64th, assistant-engineer, who
directed their exertions. Many of the gabions had only been partly
filled the previous night, and spaces of a few inches occurred here and
there between the baskets. Barely had the linesmen placed their muskets
at the back of the trench, when a provoking fire from the near pit and
quarries, knocked over four or five of their number. Unaccustomed to
work in such slight cover, very little progress was made in improving
the trench, and Lieutenant Sheehy withdrew the men. Waiting a short
time, twelve sappers arrived; and with four or six volunteers from the
7th regiment, the work in the approach was resumed. In four hours much
had been done to strengthen it, and the parapet, in great part, was made
defensible with banquettes. Finding that the trenchmen pertinaciously
held to their work, the Russians tried the effect on them of a couple of
great guns. The first rounds pitched high; but the next, better aimed,
hurled the gabions from the trace, and dividing the parapet by an ugly
chasm, separated the workmen into two parts. Those in the left of the
pit, struck with stones and half blinded with sand, not seeing their
danger, were about to join the main body by crossing the gap; but the
warning of their comrades stopped their precipitation and confined them
for a time behind a few feet of insecure revetment. Had they attempted
to move, not a man would have escaped, for the muzzles of the Russian
rifles, only a few yards off, would have struck them down. Hot as was
the place, the sappers and volunteers continued to work, and the breach
quickly filled up with sand-bags, soon extricated the men at the end of
the zigzag from hazards to which less alacrity and courage would have
committed them. So jealous was the enemy of any progress in this
quarter, it was not an easy, matter to throw a few shovels-full of earth
over the parapet without a visit from a pair of round shot. That so
little harm was done to the workmen was due to the nearness of a Russian
screen to the captured pit. Generally the practice was high. To have
struck the new approach and not the Russian pit, would have been a nice
achievement in gunnery. At last Captain Browne of the engineers, removed
the line party, but left the sappers at the end of the trench with
orders not to throw anything over the parapet. No exertion being now
visible to the enemy, the fire from screen, quarry, and fortress was, in
great part, discontinued, and the sappers quietly improved the revetment
till nightfall, when another party relieved them.[180]

Before daylight on the morning of the 21st, the furthest screen in the
Russian series, about fourteen yards in front of the captured pits, was
taken by a detachment of 100 men from the guard of the trenches, under
an adjutant, accompanied by a small band of twelve volunteers as a
working party consisting of four men of the 19th regiment, four of the
90th, and three of the sappers, under the direction of corporal George
Cann of the 7th company. The covering party was directed not to fire but
to use the bayonet. All having mustered on the open, the adjutant gave
the word to advance. On went the stormers at the charge, and jumping
into the screen, which fortunately had been vacated, they took
possession of it unassailed by a single shot. Quietly the destroying
party set to work, and before returning to the trenches, completely
uprooted the ambuscade. The parapet had been formed of discarded casks,
crested with large sand-bags made of old sails, specimens of which were
brought away by the men to show the expedients adopted for Russian
protection. The names of the sappers who shared in the sortie were
lance-corporal William J. Lendrim, and privates William Harvey and
Alexander Hosie.

This service will bear a little elucidation. At dusk the previous
evening, the four sappers went into the trench issuing from the first
captured pit, to reconnoitre. Each selected his own place to look out,
but Harvey having crawled round the head of the sap on all fours,
watched for a few minutes the operations in front. The Russians were
busy in the screen, and seeing one more bold than the rest strengthening
the parapet, Harvey remarked, as he returned to the trench, it was
strange that the sentry, a man of the 88th, did not pick him off. He was
a Milesian was the 88th man, and a good deal irate to think that, though
he felt sure he could lessen the number in the pit by at least the head
which dared now and then to overlook the parapet, he was under orders
not to fire: but when he learned from Harvey that the pit was to be
captured in the morning, the sentry, forgetting his orders, discharged a
bullet at the Russian, and thus brought on a fire which produced a
number of casualties. Taking up the arms of a wounded man, Harvey,
mounting the parapet with others, blazed away till he was called from
the summit by Lieut.-Colonel Tylden to answer for his conduct in
bringing an unnecessary fire of musketry on the sap. He had been
reported by the officer of the line on duty there as the cause of it;
but a few words of explanation made clear the misunderstanding, and
Harvey, the first to volunteer for the assault, was so conspicuous in
his exertions to raze the screen, that he was subsequently distinguished
by a medal for gallant behaviour, and received a gratuity of five
pounds. It was well that the firing took place as it did, for to its
warmth is no doubt attributable the evacuation of the pit without a
hand-to-hand encounter.

It was not long before these pits were incorporated with the besiegers’
works by communications hastily thrown up and revetted despite the
accurate firing of the enemy’s riflemen; and they held so prominent a
place in the tactics of the engineers, that in an after period they
formed the outlet for a sortie upon the celebrated quarries. A flying
sap from the screens was early extended to the left as far as the rim of
the hill overlooking the Woronzoff road, and again to the right, in line
with a row of pits still possessed by the Russians, and which run along
the whole extent of the quarries. The cover in the lodgment was almost
made impenetrable by the sappers who erected a wall of gabions,
sand-bags and stones intermixed, as far as the very edge of the ridge.

On the right attack, No. 13 battery for four guns was finished and armed
on the night of the 21st April. It was situated to the left of the
second parallel near the Woronzoff ravine. Between eight and ten
thousand sand-bags swelled its dimensions into a noble field
construction. The men of the corps who gave it form from the engineer’s
trace, finished it off with something like artistic neatness. The
defences of the battery were improved by the addition of lock traverses
across the boyau on its left. This was perhaps the first battery built
during the siege entirely of sand-bags; and though well ploughed with
shot and shell, it made a fair resistance. Its bags frequently burst,
and gaps were often made in its puffed-up features, while the pent-up
sand was showered over the battery as if winnowed by the wind. There was
no lack of the reliable sand-bag, however, and the damages sustained
were always expeditiously repaired.

During the same night the embrasures of No. 9 battery on the left attack
were nearly all cut through by the sappers and the openings covered up
again with masks before daylight. By the 23rd, at night, the remaining
mouths were opened and the cheeks of all were flattened by a few parting
plashes of the spade. Grim guns occupied the spaces, and at the proper
moment No. 9 co-operated with the other works in shelling the enemy’s
defences. In the formation of the battery, corporal Robert Hanson of the
7th company, displayed great zeal and ability in superintending a
detachment of the 50th regiment, of whose exertions more than once
creditable mention was made.

So well in range was No. 10 battery on the left attack it was hazardous
to venture into it. Still it was necessary to furnish it quickly with a
magazine. To obtain the chance of executing the work in day-time, a
temporary blind of sand-bags was thrown up in front of the site during
the night, and the sapper carpenters and miners took their stations
behind the screen at dawn. The delving and blasting for a durable
foundation were done in broad daylight; then up went the frame, and the
sheeting followed, covered for a roof with timbers, sand-bags, and
earth; and in a few days, without casualty among the builders, the
magazine was completed.

Whatever accidents or failures in arrangements took place with the line
contingents by which they were late for the trenches or not provided,
the sappers always appeared in the lines and turned to the work with
great ardour. As an instance, it may be mentioned, that the trench party
of twenty-eight sappers were, on the 22nd April, three hours in the
batteries before the morning relief arrived, during which, besides
attending to various matters of essential detail, they levelled two
crumbling embrasures in the 21-gun battery, and rebuilt them for action
with stout revetments in little more than two hours.

Too inexorable was the siege to allow any relaxation in the development
of the lines, and every day added to the accumulation of posts and
duties which called for the anxious attention and valorous exertions of
the engineers. The officers were severely wrought and the casualties
among them spoke of their labours and exposure. The sappers likewise
were greatly overtasked. Some nights they were in the trenches as long
as the darkness lasted, and then only left to repeat their long vigils
the ensuing night. Next day, perhaps, they would be permitted to rest
for a few hours, when at noon some camp duty, some hutting or draining,
the making of fascines, or the execution of a tedious round of et
cetera, absorbed the remaining portion of the day. The approaching night
or the next, again saw them at work in the far-spreading trenches. For
several months this was their constant routine, when, happily,
reinforcements arriving, they were, in degree, relieved from an excess
of fatigue and watchfulness which, were it not for their hardihood,
would have considerably diminished their weak files.

It has been remarked that the sappers exhibited less ingenuity and
application of resource in their camp arrangements than many regiments
in the Crimea. Much skill was shown by some corps in the use of
contrivances and rural expedients for rendering their locations
comfortable within, and pleasing and picturesque without. All these
devices were strangely absent among the sappers. Oddly enough this
seems; but it is easily accounted for by the fact, that the men, more
constantly at work than other troops, were too tired to seek for
superfluous comforts when ordinary ones satisfied their few wants.
Indeed they had no leisure to busy themselves about extraneous

Overworked as the linesmen were, the regiments possessed facilities for
carrying out domestic minutiæ which wore off the rougher asperities of a
trying campaign. To most of them washermen were appointed who attended
to the concerns of the regimental laundry and ensured to the men the
comfort of wearing clean linen. Such was not the good fortune of the
sappers. Every man was wanted for some absolutely pressing duty, and it
was only when the caprices of chance threw in their way a vagrant
interval that they could seek to afford themselves the companionship of
a well-washed shirt. From this cause it can occasion no wonder that the
men were often foul and distressed by vermin. In this condition there
were not a few who would steal at times into some cave to relieve
themselves in silence of the loathsome brood. No perseverance, however,
was sufficient to free them from the creeping things which swarmed in
every seam and around every fretted hole of their threadbare clothes. So
extreme was this discomfort felt by many poor fellows, that a general
officer of the corps, who took great interest in the feeble and
attenuated invalids as they landed at Portsmouth from the Crimea, was
constrained officially to represent the pitiable state in which he found
them. Comparatively of all the troops they were the most miserable and
sympathising with their misfortunes, the general and his benevolent lady
generously supplied the sufferers with clean linen and apparel.

Then, again, though sufficient food was afforded them, it was not of
that description and variety to give the pioneer adequate strength and
cheerfulness to bear up against his depressing toils. Hard biscuit, salt
beef and pork formed the staff of the military regimen. Now and then
they enjoyed the luxury of tasting fresh meat. None of the sappers at
this time could command sufficient relief from front duty to master the
mysteries of the _cuisine_ so as to manufacture anything like a
relishable meal. This was left as an achievement for after times when
the inimitable Soyer superintended the military kitchens. Many hardy men
at last broke up; and one hale fellow—the type of many more—in alluding
to his trials on account of the rations, observed, “My teeth are the
only parts that are failing me!” Hardship was unequal to make an inroad
upon that strong man’s frame, but flinty biscuit and tough beef spoiled
the efficiency of an apparatus which, under other circumstances, might
have stood his need for half a century. He then added, “all the money I
can get goes for soft bread to ease my teeth and mitigate the aching of
my jaws. The French come round with it almost every day, and we give
2_s._ 6_d._ and sometimes 3_s._ for a three-pound loaf!” Those indeed
were hard times and the prices such as would be excessive in a famine.

If there were reason to complain of the want of fresh meat none could be
alleged against the quantities of rations supplied. While the troops
were suffering great privations, the sappers always had full provisions
and “when warm clothing was available for them it was brought up without
delay.” This arose from the mules furnished for the engineer field
service having been planked up in sheds at Balaklava in the early
campaign and carefully attended to.[182] In the fatal winter that
followed, the engineer mules were thus protected from its rigours, while
the unsheltered baggage animals of different corps, and even the troop
horses, fell dead in frightful numbers at their tethers. The great storm
of November, 1854, rendered the animals almost powerless and the little
strength they possessed wholly gave way when the slightest pressure was
applied to derive from their employment any urgent assistance. Nothing
on the other hand baffled the few mules attached to the engineer
department but the conveyance of the huts; and this was a service so
extremely heavy, it was utterly beyond their capabilities. To corporal
Matthew Stevens was attributed the preservation of the engineer
transport stud. He had with him a small party of sappers who soon turned
themselves into efficient drivers, and emulating the energy and care of
the corporal, assisted to produce a result which became a striking
incident of the campaign.[183]

So effective an adjunct of the siege was the rifle screen, that on the
left attack four pits commanding the Woronzoff ravine were commenced in
front of the second parallel on the night of the 22nd April and daily
additions were made to the number. A fortnight later other pits in the
same attack were made extending from the right of the second parallel to
the front of the third, and also from the right flank of No. 8 battery.
The chain consisted of forty holes spotting the ground with light troops
in snug and commanding positions. These were commenced by Lieutenant C.
G. Gordon of the engineers, with a force of 180 linesmen and a
proportion of 24 sappers who were that night allotted for the works. In
time the pits became an enlarged item in the system of attack, and
formed, occasionally, the starting points from which new zigzags or
parallels were struck out. Old pits, moreover, which had been abandoned
by the Russians—as the besiegers’ works compressed their
circumvallation—were taken advantage of and turned against them.

Corporal John Landrey, a very good sapper, was noticed for his zeal and
intelligence in leading and instructing the working parties on the 24th,
and sergeant Benjamin Castledine, while visiting a working party in the
extended parallel to the right of the mortar battery on Gordon’s attack,
received a bullet wound in the hand.

Battery No. 11 for seven guns was begun in the night of the 27th on a
rocky eminence, somewhat isolated though imposing, to the left of the
second parallel. Ground was broken by 300 of the line and 50 seamen with
as many sappers as could be taken out of 35 detailed that night for the
trenches of the left attack. Captain Porter had the direction of the
work. All his arrangements were so admirably carried out, that the
parapet—256 long—was risen to a height of six feet, and the two right
gun portions and epaulment, worked as a half sunken battery, had a
parapet nearly twelve feet thick revetted with sand-bags. Nor was this
all; the remaining portion of the battery, shaped after the elevated
form, was revetted partly with casks and partly with gabions, and
obtained a thickness varying from seven to nine feet. Receiving no
little access of spirit from the joyous exertions of the happy sailors,
the men worked hard and excellently, but at the period of relief they
left the battery jaded and exhausted. Sergeant Jarvis, and
lance-corporals Hanson, J. T. Collins, and Jenkins of the sappers,
acquired the credit of having laboured splendidly, which was recorded to
their honour in the orders of Major-General Jones. A constant and
irritating fire was directed against the workmen the greater part of the
night, but the result when summed up, was one slight wound, and the
smashing of six stands of arms.

A few nights later Captain Armit gave orders for the earth of the
battery to be thrown well to the front. With a manner less absolute than
persuasive, Sergeant Drew, who was in charge, requested the workmen to
go on the parapet for the purpose, but they refused, alleging, “it was
sappers’ work.” The moon was shining bright in the rear, baring the
battery to Russian fire and rendering the duty anything but inviting.
Taking Rowland Hill’s plan of doing the work himself when his servants
quarrelled about their legitimate portions, the sergeant laid aside his
jacket and pushing on the merlon toiled away like a navvy. Distributed
to various details of the battery, the sappers hearing that the working
party had declined to assist, left their several tasks and joined the
sergeant. This was more than a brave rifleman could well bear, and with
an example that none of the workmen cared to imitate, he attempted to
take his place with the shovellers; but a sapper who happened to be
below, altogether averse to accepting any services which seemed to
spring from other considerations than duty, pulled the rifleman down,
observing, in tones of sarcastic resentment, “that, as the work was,
according to the opinions of the party, purely sappers’ work, none but
sappers ought to share in the credit of its execution.” The
strengthening of the merlon, therefore, that night, with heavy
discharges of shot and some shell directed against it, was wholly
carried out by sergeant Drew and his sappers.

Before the end of April, a few men of the corps assisted by working
parties completed a hut for the general officer of the trenches on the
right attack with stout timbers and sheeting and gave it as much proof
with sand-bags and earth as practicable. A similar chamber was reared
soon after for the general on the left. Considering its position it was
a cozy quarter in the storm, and its social character was enhanced by
the introduction of an old door and a glazed window screened from fire
by a traverse. All that it wanted was a stove and the wreathing smoke
from a chimney-pot to make it a palace for a peasant.

The engineer hovel of the left attack—used as an office by each
succeeding engineer as he took possession of the trenches—exhibited some
points of needy refinement; for it not only possessed a door and a
glazed sash, but a stove with a pipe leading through the splinter proof
roof which boasted a covering of asphalted felt! From a sunken
foundation the hut rose up under a broad parapet in the first parallel
between Nos. 1 and 2 batteries, and was built chiefly of sand-bags with
an interior nearly ten feet square fitted with the bare conveniences of
seats and a desk—all, however, sufficiently rough to identify the
structure with the rigours of a stern siege. In the area in front of the
hut was a sort of engineer depôt from whence the tools and materials
were distributed to the working parties.

Meanwhile the sappers in small batches or in ones and twos were lost
among the military operatives, distinguished by the badge of a piece of
tracing tape around their caps. Usually in the 21-gun battery were found
the greatest number and half a brigade or so of selected men could be
counted in each of the new batteries on the right attack. These run from
10 to 14. On Greenhill the works also claimed a share of sapper labour,
but in the batteries numbered 10 and 11 on the left, the parties, as far
as strength was concerned, were more ostentatious.

To be a little precise, let a survey of their engagements be undertaken.
Look first among the embrasures, and there, ant-like, is seen an
isolated red-coat coolly pegging up hides or fixing gabions, while two
or three carpenters, with upturned sleeves, are discovered crouching
low, fixing platforms or renewing sleepers and fighting bolts. Go next
to the caves and call—“Sapper?” One immediately emerges from its
murkiness, spade in hand, with begrimed face and dishevelled beard, to
show the quality of his exertions. Step to the saps right and left, and
in each on bended knee with whirling pick and cap well down is traced
the sapper. To his sturdy efforts the earth yields and the gabion soon
is filled. Watch him as he goes ahead with cautious crawl and daringly
places another basket on the line. How many rifle balls, how many shots
fly past, few can tell; but on he urges as if nothing had occurred, and
perhaps the next discharge kills him. Steal now along the trench to its
advanced limit, and there is seen a group of busy miners black with
gunpowder in shallow depths, blasting the rock to deepen the approach
and strengthen the cover. How well they know their art. Not a head is
seen above the young parapet and scarcely that of a hammer; but when a
strong blow is required, up it goes and the sun sparkling on the
burnished steel gives a mark to the enemy. Bullets from the screens are
quickly fired and an occasional shot trundles in among them, but
undauntedly they proceed, watchful as dogs, till at last the mine
explodes. A volume of vapour affords another indication of their
activity to the enemy. Shot and shell plunge on and tear up the ground,
but the miners have flown to a distance and quietly await the cessation
of the fire to resume their tasks. Walk over to the sailors’ battery
where surely none but seamen may be seen. There, in truth, the blue
jackets are in droves with their droll sayings and unsteady gait; but
press forward. “Is that a marine?” “No, it’s a sapper trimming the
parapet.” There, too, is another tricing up the flaccid cheeks of an
embrasure; and beyond is a third giving position to platforms for
sea-service mortars or naval guns. Go round that traverse: the universal
man is there completing it; another is strengthening the parapet;
another repairing the merlon; a fourth is in the right epaulment; a
fifth in the left; a sixth is elsewhere constructing loopholes with
barrels; others are revetting the works with tubs, casks, gabions, and
hide-bags, while a couple of broad-backed miners are burrowing
underground and driving a tunnel into the jaws of some convenient
cavern. The tour is incomplete without a visit to the pits. Come with
the night relief and see them. Jump into that screen; there again is the
sapper enlarging loopholes or picking the rock to sink the pit. Plunge
into the next one: there too is the military Tonson improving the cover
with stones while the eager riflemen jostle him as they press forward to
get a chance shot at some unwary Russian. Enter now the 21-gun battery
where four magazines are rebuilding. The sappers are quite at home
raising the frames by the sickly beams of a feeble siege lamp; but look,
a flying stone has just broken the horn and the wind has extinguished
the flame. Yet, undiscouraged, the sappers work away by feeling the
points and bases of their timbers. Go where you will, in battery,
trench, or mine, a sapper is the centre of each party toiling at his
hazardous vocation through the long dark night. Daylight has returned.
“What can that moaning noise be?” A 13-inch shell has dashed against a
magazine and blown it up! The gunners are maimed, suffocated, or killed!
and the timbers are either carried away or left charred and tottering on
the rock. Run and see the effect. The magazine is a ruin, the ground
smokes and burns, and the dead and mutilated are being borne away; but
there again are the sappers tearing through the smouldering frames and
fallen planks, examining the extent of the disaster and preparing for
the restoration. “These men tho’ few in number seem everywhere and in
everything. What can be their motto?” “Ubique quo fas et gloria ducunt!”
“That accounts for it.”

At midnight on the 2nd May, a sapper was putting a new face to the
embrasure of the flank gun in No. 8 battery, on the left attack, when a
round shot ploughed the crest of the parapet on its right flank and
struck down Lieutenant Carter of the engineers, killing at the same
moment Lieutenant Curtis of the 46th regiment. The flying sand
bespattered the workman but he was else unhurt. Quitting the embrasure,
he sought by his attention to lighten, if possible, the mortal throes of
his officer. In a few moments all was over, and the sapper, with grave
sympathy, bore away the body of that brave young man to the camp.

With the morning relief of the 3rd, 60 sappers were sent to the
trenches, who in addition to the duty of overseers laid platforms in No.
14 and the 21-gun batteries. Sergeant Philip Morant, while
superintending on the right, was slightly wounded in the shoulder by a
rifle bullet, which, being almost spent, bounded back after delivering
the blow. This was his first day in the trenches. No. 1 battery on the
left attack, which was much cut up, was completely renovated by thirteen
sappers; and four miners performed good service in blasting a
communication to the ammunition caves. In the ensuing night the advance
boyau to rifle-pit on the right attack was prolonged and strengthened,
and a strong party of the corps worked with acknowledged energy in
constructing No. 12 mortar battery on the left. Some also were with a
line party adding solidity to the broad parapet of No. 8 battery, who,
however, were subsequently removed, as the clear moon, shining in a
cerulean sky, exposed the men to an annoying fire of grape from the
Redan. Two nights later, there were forty-three of the corps in the
trenches; twenty being scattered in the right works, and twenty-three in
the left. A sortie on the left sap of the Gordon attack interrupted the
operations, but the enemy was driven back without effecting any serious
detriment to the works. A heavy fire of shells was also directed against
the 21-gun battery, and though the casualties for the night amounted to
4 killed, 18 wounded, and 2 missing, none of the sappers were touched.
At the time of the attack eight rank and file of the corps were in No.
14 battery repairing embrasures, 1 in the second parallel making
loop-holes and patching up the parapet, 2 in No. 8 battery replacing
dislodged sand-bags, and 2 in the 21-gun battery filling up the chasms
in the fourteenth embrasure and altering the features of the twentieth.

About an hour after midnight on the 8th, sergeant Drew had dismissed a
working party under charge of second-corporal Fraser employed in forming
rifle-pits in advance of the third parallel. Retiring together, they
resolved to visit the caves known by the name of the “Ovens,” then the
post of the advanced picquet, to see a communication, which had been
much talked of by the sappers, cut through the solid rock by private
Simon Williams, by which an unexposed track was open from cave to cave.
They were dressed at the time in Mackintoshes, fur caps, and long boots.
The officer in charge of the picquet at the “Ovens,” apparently unaware
that works were in progress in his front, was struck with the intrusion
of the visitors and captured them as spies. Speaking good English was no
proof they were not Russians, and accordingly they were sent to the
field-officer of the trenches, Lord West, under a strong sergeant’s
escort. Trying to guide it by a nearer way than the one it was taking,
was received as a certain indication of their character, for the guard
fancied “the spies” were planning to beguile them into Sebastopol.
Indeed they had some misgiving that the two sappers were a couple of
clever desperadoes, ready for any cruel work that their evil natures
might prompt them to perpetrate. The escort therefore marched, brimful
of caution, with the prisoners, and were only too glad, on reaching the
goal, to be rid of such a pair of suspicious adventurers. On being
confronted with his lordship, he asked them many searching queries, to
which they gave remarkably accurate replies; but the question of their
identity was at length settled by Captain Armit, the engineer officer on
duty for the night who had just returned from the rifle-pits by another
route. Of course they were at once released, and many a good laugh was
enjoyed at the pardonable blunder of capturing two honest sappers as
Russian spies.

Water in the trenches had now become scarce; indeed, the cisterns in the
21-gun battery, formed of barrels, were dry. This gave rise to the
prudent precaution of sending the working parties to the lines with full
canteens. New wells were immediately sunk by the sappers in the quarries
of the 21-gun battery, and cans, barrels, and metal powder cases
deposited in promising spots along the parallels, to allure the springs
to the desired outlets. Very limited was the area for exploring, and the
water therefore was never sufficiently plentiful to relieve the workmen
from the necessity of filling their water-bottles prior to entering the
batteries. About a fortnight later, the well in the second parallel on
the right attack yielded a fair supply. It was a sort of pool of Siloam
for the weary and thirsty, and to shield them from casualty in their
pilgrimage to it, the assiduous efforts of 4 sappers and 20 linesmen
threw up a parapet with sufficient altitude, to afford them convenient

During the darkness of the 9th, a sortie was made by the Russians which
was gallantly repulsed by the guard of the trenches on the right. The
Russians left many dead on the field, while the casualties among the
besiegers did not exceed 13 wounded. There were 20 sappers in the right
works at the time, who, as soon as the sortie terminated, were doubled
up to the left advance saps, and before the coming relief, replaced the
gabions and sand-bags which had been capsized and plugged up all the
gaps and shot-holes in the parapets. That night a new communication was
begun from the second parallel to the right advanced trench. Eight
sappers were employed in heading the sap and lodging the gabions, of
which no less than 150 were firmly fixed; and the cover obtained was
such that the exertions of the workmen were justly praised. The work was
on the slope of a hill exposed to an oblique fire; and though difficult
to form the parapet at the extremity from the presence of rock, it
yielded at length to perseverance which was as constant as intrepid.

The tenth company under Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon and Major Stanton of
the engineers, were afloat in the ‘William Jackson,’ with the expedition
to the Sea of Azof from the 3rd to the 8th of May. Without attempting
operations, the troops were suddenly recalled, and landing at Balaklava
on the 8th, the sapper contingent marched two days later to their old
places in the trenches.

Rain set in on the night of the 10th and turned the lines into wet
ditches. Working parties, furnished as usual, persevered in vain to make
way against the drenching storm and the strong wind that blew. Every
step buried them over their shoe-tops. Returning to camp, wet and
miserable, with soaked beards swabbing their breasts, not a few seemed
by their bemired appearance, as if some catastrophe had rolled them in a
marsh. Throughout the day of the 11th the rain continued to pour; the
mud had much increased, and sheets of water stood in the batteries and
parallels at places where hollows or uneven ground favoured such
accumulations. The soles of the embrasures were ankle deep, and seams
were made in the merlons and roofs of the magazines by the wearing flow
of the rain. The sappers and working parties again held their places in
the batteries, for nothing excused them as long as there was a chance of
making progress, however trivial. Much was attempted, but little
succeeded beyond replacing some overturned gabions and patching up rifts
in some of the more important constructions. Sergeant Kester Knight, and
a small force of carpenters on the right attack, toiled with exemplary
zeal at one of the magazines of No. 14 battery; but their progress was
at length interrupted by a considerable portion of the timber prepared
for the work having been abstracted. Some of the beef barrels, likewise,
wanted for revetments in other parts of the trenches, were unhooped, and
the staves captured for camp uses by the working party. Strange that men
should sacrifice to personal objects the very means provided to give
efficiency and success to the operations for defending them!

On the night of the 11th no working party was provided the weather being
fearfully stormy. There were, however, 24 sappers, heavily clothed in
long boots, overcoats, and waterproofs, dispersed in the right trenches
under Lieutenant Graves of the engineers, who worked through the
darkness unsheltered from the rain. One brigade was extended in the new
communication on the right, in front of No. 8 mortar battery, blasting
the rock and building the loosened boulders into the parapet; another
brigade was in No. 14 battery, attending to the magazines and embrasures
and clearing the choked-up channels for the passage of the water into
the ravine. Eight carpenters were engaged for awhile in laying platforms
in No. 12 battery, but the rain fell with such heaviness, that the
spaces prepared to receive the sleepers were soon inundated. In this
extremity the men made furrows in the sloughy ground, and thus drained
the sites to permit them, when the storm should abate, to resume their

Nothing, it would seem, was enough to induce the Russians to seek
repose; rather, indeed, the presence of storms, the more angry the
better, whetted their spirit for activity and assault. Two hours before
midnight they opened a sharp fire of musketry, accompanied by a
cannonading of shells upon our works, which was stoutly met by incessant
volleys from the guard of the trenches and five guns in the 21-gun
battery. On the left attack, where Captain Hassard was on duty, there
were only four sappers to carry out his orders. But little could be
expected from such initial means in such a supremely dismal night. In
about two hours, however, under a constant torrent, they altered the
flank embrasure of No. 8 battery, to enable its gun to play into the
extreme Russian rifle-pit on the right. Just as they had finished,
corporal Thomas Kirkwood, who had subordinate charge of the party, heard
the bustle of an approaching sortie. Communicating the intelligence to
his officer, Captain Hassard flew through the zig-zags and parallels and
had the guard of the trenches in readiness to meet it. This was barely
accomplished when the enemy tore up the hill from the rifle-screens in
the Woronzoff ravine. Now they were near the parapet, and about to enter
at its most accessible points; but so close and prompt was the
resistance they received from the works that a hasty retreat was the
consequence. Light balls, thrown from a Cohorn mortar in No. 7 battery,
discovered a second column pressing to the centre of the advanced
parallel. A few, more daring than the rest, even jumped into the
trenches; but the vigour of the besiegers pushed back the assault with
severe loss to the enemy. No. 1 battery opened on the quarries, No. 2 on
the Redan, and some effective rounds were fired from the flank gun of
No. 8 battery by Captain Collingwood Dickson of the artillery. The loss
sustained by the British was 1 officer and 5 men killed; 1 officer and
about 30 men wounded. The four sappers being unarmed, were withdrawn to
preserve them from danger.

Where sand-bag revetments had been used, the havoc committed by the
tempest was general. Want of slope was the cause. Being early
constructions, they had not shared in the improvements which experience
had subsequently introduced. Some of the works, loosened by degrees,
fell down and encumbered the trench. The surgeon’s hut was a ruin.
Sixty-four sappers were appointed to the trenches on the 12th May, to
make good the damages. In a day or two the medical quarter in No. 2
battery on the left was rebuilt by 17 sappers; the huts for the generals
were repaired and strengthened; the embrasures and magazines mended, and
all the revetments strongly bolstered up and properly battered. The
draining, moreover, was enlarged and considerable advancement made in
all the details of the new batteries. Blasting rock on the left was a
special feature in the day’s labour. Twelve sappers were employed in the
duty in No. 11 battery, and in front of the inner ammunition cave, from
which they also constructed a ladder to the shaft leading to the trench

Showers were frequent during the day and heavier in the following night.
No working party was provided, but 20 sappers under Lieutenant Drake,
who seemed to be invulnerable against inclemency, were far away in
advance draining the approach to the right rifle-pit in the Gordon
attack. Against the darkness and rain they endured with commendable
resolution, and though restricted by the storm in their exertions,
nevertheless afforded an instalment of relief to the screen. A few of
the most energetic and skilful also rebuilt, in the 21-gun battery, an
embrasure which had been washed down by the rain.

So went on the works to the 15th, when private Reuben Wiles, one of a
few miners employed in cutting rock at the caves on the left attack, in
connection with the left boyau, was wounded. During the preceding night,
the heavy firing from the Creek batteries had upset several of the
gabions and made a wide breach in the parapet. It was when passing this
gap, bearing gunpowder and fuses for blasting purposes, that a round
shot, striking the broken angle of the trench, tore away a sand-bag, and
threw it full at the chest of the miner. Wiles, who was knocked down by
the blow, was also covered with a shower of stones; which, besides
bruising him in different places, made a gash across his nose, contused
one of his eyes, and wounded him in the right knee. A similar accident,
the following night, wounded private Edward R. Hodgkinson severely in
the head.


Footnote 180:

  Some young officers—sportive yet enterprising—hearing of the nearness
  of the Russians to our works, paid a visit to the lodgment, bringing
  with them loaded soda-water bottles prepared with fuzes. As occasion
  served they lighted these improviséd grenades, and threw them among
  the enemy’s riflemen in the pit. The effect was to increase the fire
  on the sappers and retard the work. In self-defence the sergeant was
  compelled to report the annoyance, and the General of the trenches
  gave orders that none should enter the pits except on duty.

  A Polish refugee, belonging to a fusilier regiment, also came to the
  screen under the auspices of the young officers aforesaid. A hole was
  made for him to speak through, and addressing the Russians in their
  own language, his jargon was discourteously treated with laughter and
  a few angry shots. Renewing the interview the fusilier, after saying
  some extravagant things to induce the riflemen to desert, concluded by
  intimating “they were great fools to remain where they were.” Another
  volley was the result of this candid but indiscreet communication; and
  of course the Pole was forthwith expelled from the trench.

Footnote 181:

  This suggests the mention of a brief conversation which occurred one
  day between Colonel Shadforth and lance-corporal Jenkins. “How is it,”
  asked the Colonel, “that so few sappers die?” “They hav’nt time,”
  replied the corporal; “there’s too much work for them to do in the
  trenches!” A stiff glass of grog from the officer’s canteen was the
  result of Jenkins’s rejoinder, which would have been strictly true,
  had the question been asked with respect to the primitive state of the
  sapper camp.

Footnote 182:

  Sir John Burgoyne in letter to the ‘Times,’ May, 1855.

Footnote 183:

  The means taken to preserve the engineer mules was referred to in the
  Second Report of Sir John McNeill and Colonel Tulloch to the War
  Minister, as an instance of what other troops might have done had they
  exercised common “promptitude or ingenuity.” It afterwards became a
  vexed question, and a Court of Enquiry, conducted by seven
  distinguished General Officers, sat for many weeks at Chelsea
  Hospital, to ascertain, among other matters, whether any blame was
  fairly attributable to the officers in chief command for neglecting
  the use of expedients to save the horses. The enquiry terminated fully
  exculpating the officers.

                           16th May-7th June.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

The batteries—Stoical tranquillity in blasting rock—Round-hill or fourth
  parallel—State of the works—Siege materials and expedients—Corporal
  William Swann—Expedition to Kertch—Second international
  communication—No. 15 battery on the right—Rope mantlets—Hospital
  caves—Companies reviewed by General Jones—French officers’ opinion of
  the corps—Repairing right rifle pit—Arrival of ninth company—Progress
  of the works—Third bombardment—Bravery in the embrasures—Corporal
  Stanton in the batteries of the second parallel on the right
  attack—Casualties—First appearance of ninth company in the
  trenches—The sailors—Voluntary resolution of Corporal Lockwood and his
  sappers—The engineers—Inobtrusive devotion in an embrasure—Adam
  McKechnie—Death of Captain Dawson—Selection of old sappers for front
  duty; their sterling exertions—Labours in the batteries;
  platforms—Magazine blown up—Russian plan of extending their
  trenches—Capture of the quarries and white works—-The lodgment—Death
  of Lieutenant Lowry; bravery of corporal Stanton—Casualties—Lord
  Raglan’s approbation of the sappers—Infernal machines in the quarries.

By the 16th May all the batteries as far as No. 14 on the right, and
Nos. 10 and 11 on the left, were finished and provided with pieces of
heavy artillery. No. 14, founded on a bed of rock, was strongly built in
the centre of the second parallel, and the cheeks of its embrasures,
formed in the ordinary way with gabions and sand-bags, were lined with
hide-bags. No. 10 was partly revetted with stones; and No. 11, from the
hard nature of the ground, occasioned considerable difficulty in its
construction, inasmuch as mining—a tedious operation under fire—was
constantly resorted to to procure cover. It was chiefly revetted with
casks and gabions. The two latter batteries were also built in the
second parallel, the former to fight the barrack battery, and the
latter, rising from a trench which run out at right angles from a
backward bend of the parallel to the crest of a precipitous cliff, raked
the Picket-House ravine and the cemetery, and plunged its shells into
the works at the dock-yard creek.

Soon after commencing No. 11, the firing into it was very hot one
morning. Corporal Hollis had charge of 200 men engaged in various
details connected with its progress, the bulk of the workmen being
scattered over the shelving rocks of the ravine in rear, collecting
earth from the nooks and hollows to fill the sand-bags. Shells played on
them from the bastion du Mât and an unseen battery near the creek, which
killed three men and wounded four others. Grumbling at an exposure which
was considered to be uncalled for, 150 of them were withdrawn; and as
the 50 that remained scarcely cared to prolong a stay which cost them
now and then a casualty, it was pleasant, amid so much hesitation, to
see one cool fellow doing his duty. Private Clubb, who was drilling a
hole to blast the foundation for a platform, was sitting behind a full
gabion that blinded the neck of a partly-cut embrasure, and being
intended for a sea-service gun, it had a genoullère only about a foot in
height. Presently he was covered with earth by a shot which struck the
gabion and passed a few inches over his head into the ravine in rear.
“That’s close shaving, Hollis,” said he, looking up with a calm smile
without losing his hold of the jumper; and thinking the incident
undeserving of any further notice, he retained his seat and resumed the
boring with as much unconcern as if he knew nothing of fear.

A batch of rifle-pits on the left attack, commenced in front of Nos. 7
and 8 batteries, subsequently became an extended series of screens,
spotting the ridge on its very brow, each connected with the other by an
approach, which, in time, encircled the hill and formed a continuous
line of intrenchment for musketry fire within fair range of the enemy’s
batteries and quarries. As the nights were bright, a heavy cross fire of
shells and grape was constantly poured upon the sappers and workmen,
that rendered the operation as trying as perilous; but it well repaid
the trouble and courage exercised in its construction, as the riflemen
picked off the Russian gunners, and thus silenced some of the ordnance
which cannonaded the trenches from the Redan and barrack batteries. The
round-hill trench—an astonishing achievement of persevering skill and
courage, formed, for the most part, through rock at an extraordinary
outlay of labour, under very adverse circumstances and interruptions
from the galling play of musketry and artillery—was designated the
fourth parallel, and though it was at no time armed with a battery, it
was mailed at all points with selected light troops.

Every hour made obvious the necessity of hastening the termination of a
struggle which had swallowed up an army in its checkered events. The
secret of success in a siege, next to good generalship, is expedition in
the construction of essential works and attention to their efficiency.
This was ever borne in mind; and though opposed by astounding obstacles,
never a day passed but a sensible addition was made to the vast network
of trenches. Parallels and approaches now covered the hills, and saps
daringly progressed in front. Dingy pits filled with groups of prying
and fatal marksmen studded the advances and flanks. Caves were augmented
in size and number in the sides of the ravines to give safety to the
gunpowder, and shell-rooms were constructed to hold the combustibles.
All existing batteries were maintained intact and new works by degrees
were thrown up in front to grapple with the sturdy formations of the
Russians. As they were finished, the masks which blinded the apertures
were removed, and heavy guns, peering through them, flashed on the
enemy’s works. One hundred and sixty-five guns and mortars of all
weights and calibres were in position, and the average distance of the
advanced batteries from the Russian lines was, on the right, for 11 guns
and 5 mortars, 360 yards; and on the left, for 20 guns and 3 mortars,
about 460 yards.

Many were the expedients introduced to supply the absence or deficiency
of the usual siege materials, or to take the place of established
contrivances which had now proved their comparative uselessness. The
Madras platform fully gave place to the Alderson invention. Iron-hooped
gabions were resorted to with increased favour for revetments, but as it
was found that the earth—when its moisture had dispersed—riddled through
the hoops and lessened the amount of protection they were calculated to
afford, the precaution was taken of packing them with bags filled with
sand or small stones. Wicker baskets, which had held an immemorial
reputation, still maintained their fame, but the constant drain on them
had wholly impoverished the parks. Not a stick could be gathered in the
vicinity to augment the supply, and Balaklava and the neighbouring
heights and hollows were hopelessly explored for brushwood. Saplings for
the purpose were therefore brought from Karani and even from
Constantinople and Sinope. Hide-bags now seemed to outvie with the
canvas ones, and sheets of tough bull’s skin were picketed to the cheeks
of the embrasures to save the gabions and fascines from taking fire.
Nevertheless, the sand-bag—the ancient ally of the brushwood
gabion—stood its ground, and to economize its expenditure, beef and
powder barrels, casks, and tubs were used in the shady parts of the
works. Fragile things, too, were the sand-bags, for they frequently
burst by concussion or the influence of the weather, and, moreover,
required nice adjustment to make them lie effectively. From the pressure
behind they sometimes tumbled down. The doctor’s hut, from this cause,
fell with a crash and more than astonished the busy occupants; and to
obviate the recurrence of similar disasters, a greater slope was
imparted to the parapets and walls. Two guns were spread over the space
allotted to three, which greatly enlarged the mass of the batteries. The
magazines were formed of a triangular shape as being less liable to
injury than the quadrangular ones. Splinter proofs were raised in all
the works to protect the artillerymen when not working at the guns and
afford them shelter from the burning sun or pelting rain. Parados were
erected in the batteries to shield the workmen and others from splinters
and flying stones set in motion by bounding shot or bursting shells. A
crusade was also entered against banquettes except where indispensable
for defensive positions. In other situations they reduced the amount of
cover which a safe parallel or communication should possess and
subjected the besiegers to unnecessary casualty. Copying the Russians,
loop-holes were made to the rifle-screens in the body of the parapet,
and the simple but hazardous employment of sand-bags for this purpose
was in great part abandoned. Other refinements were also introduced by
this time. Sun-shades and _tentes d’abris_ were scattered in profusion
through the works; but however excellent were the conveniences thus
afforded, they did not escape an occasional removal, to convert the
props into firewood, and the canvas into long under-gaiters, waistcoats,
or towels.

Corporal William Swann, who had distinguished himself at the battle of
Giurgevo, was severely wounded on the 20th by a grape-shot while in the
trenches of the left attack. His right leg being amputated, his stamina
went with it and he expired. He had just been promoted to the rank of
corporal for his activity and usefulness in the batteries. At the same
attack in the third parallel private Neil Campbell was killed on the
21st May by a round shot, which carried away a portion of his head,
while building an abutment on the left of the traverse in No. 14
battery. Private Joseph Finch working by his side, with a bared breast,
was hit by a fragment of his comrade’s skull, which stuck like an arrow
in his neck.

A division of the army sent to the Sea of Azof, under the command of
Lieutenant-General Sir George Brown, to reduce the Russian strongholds
on the coast, took with it 43 men of the seventh company, who embarked
in the ‘Bahiana’ at Balaklava on the 22nd May and landed at Kimish-Corum
in the neighbourhood of Kertch on the 24th. Captain Hassard commanded
the sappers, with whom were Captain Stanton and Lieutenants Murray and
Drake. Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon directed the engineering arrangements.
After assisting the Land Transport corps in landing and removing the
stores and horses, in which their services were most useful, they burnt
down the bullet manufactory in the suburbs of Kertch; threw up, with the
infantry, a line of intrenchments from the sea to the centre of the
position, the French constructing the other moiety; demolished several
sea batteries commanding the channel of the Sea of Azof, and made
preparations by collecting stores and materials for an attack on Anapa.

On the 23rd, at night, was begun on the right attack a trench along the
track which interposed between our right and the French Inkermann left.
The old arm which some time before had been made to grasp the works of
the allies, was now enfiladed from the Russian trenches in front of the
Mamelon, and many men having been picked off by musketry in passing, it
was regarded as too unsafe for future use. The work was divided into two
portions. Eight sappers were allotted to the first, and one hundred of
the infantry, with eight other sappers, to the second. It was a very
exposed quarter, and the men selected to take the lead, accustomed to
foremost duty, knew well how to force the work with the least amount of
danger. The excavations were pushed on rapidly, re-using from the old
communication the gabions which revetted it. A field-piece from the
enemy constantly fired on the party, without, however, interrupting the
work or occasioning any casualty.

Next night eight fresh sappers and one hundred linesmen were distributed
in the communication, who were exposed to so harassing a fire from the
Mamelon and other batteries, that Lieutenant James of the engineers had
some difficulty in inducing the working party to go on steadily. The
sappers, however, urged a-head, dropping gabion after gabion, checked
ever and anon by an excess of fire, which caused them to stoop for
shelter under the securer parapet. In about an hour, the workmen
becoming cool, they handled their tools with unexpected earnestness.
Sixty-three gabions—all that were brought from the abandoned
parallel—were staked. Thirty-eight of them were filled, for which
distance tolerable cover was thrown up. Great as was the cannonading it
was singularly harmless; but just as the party were about to leave the
trenches, a shell from a howitzer mounted in the works at the left of
the round tower, fell into the communication, killing private Richard
Walsh and wounding private George Wood and another sapper, as also two
of the workmen. Each succeeding relief gave itself to the work with
activity, preserving the strictest discipline. Rock had often to be
removed to deepen and widen the trench, and it required at times more
than usual caution and judgment in placing the gabions. Seldom were
fewer than sixty fixed in prolongation of the work, but as this was
always done by the flying method, the sappers were necessarily exposed
during the whole distance. In returning from the head of the work, it
was not an uncommon occurrence to find several of the gabions thrown
down by projectiles from the Mamelon. Here, then, was the greatest
danger, but not less expert than resolute, the capsized baskets were
speedily reset by the overseers and adjusted to the trace. So went on
the trench till the night of the 28th May, when the sappers, with
admirable coolness, running along the remaining trace planted sixty-six
gabions. The last gabion entered a cutting through the old international
communication—a part of it free from enfilade fire. It was thus embodied
with the new work and that night the confederate parallel was

On the 24th was commenced No. 15 battery on the right attack for three
mortars, by a brigade of sappers and 100 men. It was traced on the crest
of the Woronzoff ravine among some quarries, by Lieutenant James of the
engineers, 50 feet of which offered a natural revetment. The remainder
of the trace was marked by a lodgment of fifteen gabions. Good work was
performed though the site was rocky, and before daylight the parapet was
well risen. Heaps of stones, which were contiguous, were built into it
and both epaulments. Vigilant as was the enemy, he did not discover the
battery and it proceeded that night without molestation. By the 2nd June
it was ready to join issue in the struggle. It was a solid construction;
the communication to it, through an indurated soil, was very strong; and
situated on the extreme left of the second parallel, it was the only
battery which, for a while, watched the road and ravine. It, moreover,
fired into the Redan.

In numbers 7 and 8 batteries on the left, mantlets of tarred cordage
were suspended across the necks of the embrasures to mask them from the
enemy. This was, apparently, the first time of their employment in the
British batteries. Simple as they were, they fulfilled the object of
their use. Each of the mats had a narrow cut at the bottom to allow the
gun to run out and also a small opening for the artillerymen to take
aim. Where all is rough and dependent in some measure upon experience
acquired in hazardous situations, and the quick adaptation of the
commonest means to different ends, the application of the rope mantlets
was forcibly in keeping with the grim and rugged character of the

One of the hospital caves was in No. 7 battery which had been deepened
and widened by the miners’ art into a chamber of approved dimensions.
Other huts there were in the trenches in no case exceeding seven feet in
height, but the capacity of one or more gave measurements of six by
fifteen feet. They were built after the fashion of magazines, but so
arranged as to admit more light for the surgeons on duty to carry out
those primary remedies which the injuries of the wounded imperatively

Major-General Jones reviewed the corps in the Crimea on the 25th May.
Seven companies passed under his inspection. One, at the time, was with
the Kertch expedition. Thinned by the casualty of war, sickness, death,
and invalids, the sapper force then paraded, scarcely exceeded 400
bayonets. The major-general’s impressions of the inspection and his
opinion of the services and character of the sappers were eulogized in a
report to Sir John Burgoyne. “It affords me,” writes the general, “great
pleasure to be enabled to state, that the appearance of the men was most
satisfactory, and more so than might have been expected after the severe
trials they had to undergo during the severity of the winter, and their
constant and very laborious duties in the trenches since October last,
and which they have performed with a zeal and readiness which reflects
the highest credit upon them. Their conduct has, with few exceptions,
been exemplary. The officers attached to the several companies evince a
strong desire to have them in the best state of efficiency, and pay the
greatest attention to the interior economy, &c. It is surprising that
the discipline of the companies should be so good as it is, considering
the disadvantages the men labour under from the frequent change of
officers attached to them. The eleventh company has had seven commanding
officers within a few months.

“No medals,” concludes the general, “have been sent out for the royal
sappers and miners for distinguished conduct. The strength of the corps
serving with the army is equal to any regiment of the line, and,
therefore, the sappers and miners should be considered entitled to the
same number, at least, as have been sent out for a regiment; and by the
conduct of so many men who have distinguished themselves, there will not
be any difficulty of finding men entitled to them under the terms of the
royal warrant.”

A French officer of high rank who had served before Sebastopol and
possessed opportunities of studying the organization and soldierly
attributes of the British army, communicated his opinions of the service
to a brother officer at Paris. Publicity was given to his views in a
free translation by a retired British officer in the ‘Daily News.’ That
concerning the engineers and sappers appeared in its columns—strangely
enough—on the very day the inspection just noticed was made, and forms
an apposite counterpart to the handsome acknowledgment of Major-General
Jones. “I will begin,” says the writer, “with the English engineers, a
corps which, from what I have seen of its working, can never have been
excelled and seldom equalled in any army in the world. The education of
the officers, the training and intelligence of the men, the activity of
the whole corps, and the manner in which they carry on their works, are
fully equal to the same qualifications in our own regiments of
engineers. Of the courage of these troops I need not speak—they are like
the rest of the English, brave almost to a fault. If ever there was a
corps of which a nation should be proud it is that of the English
engineers, or sappers and miners as the men are called, whilst the
regiment itself and the officers are called the royal engineers.”

On the 31st at night the sappers on the right were thus dispersed. Eight
in No. 15 battery; six in the 21-gun battery taking down one of the
naval magazines injured by a shell bursting on it; and four in the new
right boyau. After the working party had left the trenches, the sappers,
sent in advance to the right rifle pit, restored before day-break, the
parapet which had been thrown down by the fire of the enemy, and also
effected indispensable repairs in the communication leading to the
field-gun emplacement.

Between the 24th and 31st only one casualty had occurred—private George
Clubb wounded in the right hand by a round shot when repairing an

June, the ninth month of the siege, had arrived, but the end of the
struggle was still distant. Many a hard day’s work and many a furious
fight was in store for the antagonists. Difficult and harassing as was
the enterprise and frightful the carnage that month after month had
occurred, there was no ground for the confederates to be dismayed, no
reason for lessening that ardour, which, if steadily persevered in, was
sure to win the game.

As the works were spreading, it was clear that to carry them on with
expedition and success a reinforcement of sappers was essential.
Appeals, not without anxiety, were made for them, which were met by
efforts of corresponding solicitude. The ninth company, almost
reorganized, sailed from Liverpool in the ‘Resolute’ steamer on the 9th
May and landed at Balaklava, 118 bayonets strong, on the 4th June.
Captain Dawson, of the engineers, commanded it. Several men were in it
who had served through the Kaffir war and were present in that murderous
razzia which swept off half the detachment in the Konap Pass. The kind
of warfare suited to contend with a barbaric race and to which they had
been accustomed, was ill adapted for the scientific and open field
hostilities practised by civilized nations. The sapping attainments,
therefore, of the company fell short for a time of the requirements of
the siege. Added to the right attack it passed a day or two in camp and
then defiled into the trenches.

Considerable advancement had been made in the British works, in which an
average of about sixty sappers for the day duties and forty for the
night accompanied the several reliefs to the trenches. On the 1st while
laying gabions in the left advance sap on the right attack private John
Wright was killed by the explosion of a shell. A magazine in the 21-gun
battery being damaged by the enemy’s fire six zealous men were turned
into it to render it serviceable. This they achieved in the open day
amid the bursting of shells; and the powder was replaced before
nightfall. A couple of sappers also assisted to make good the repairs to
the picket-house battery; others improved the tub revetment round the
shaft of the ammunition caves; others fixed additional chevaux-de-frise
across the Woronzoff road to block up the ravine; and a moving force
repaired by night the breaches which daily were made in the various
batteries. These were cleared of broken gabions, shattered bags and
loose earth, and the embrasures were again finished with visages so
stern and solid they seemed as if no harm had ever befallen them. Nos.
12, 13, and 14 batteries were hourly growing into the required stature.
No. 12 was on the curve of the second parallel at a point from whence
issued a rocky communication to No. 11. Nos. 13 and 14, with No. 8
between, were situated on the crescent of the third parallel, and
communicated with No. 15 on the right and 7 on the left. The circuitous
trench or fourth parallel was strengthened in parts by a double
gabionade, and everywhere the sappers and line miners were blasting the
rock to obtain stones for cover. On the 5th at night a solitary sapper
mounted the roof of the magazine in No. 14 battery on the right attack,
cleared away some superabundant earth, and after he had completed the
service proceeded to one more dangerous. It was the right rifle pit in
advance of the third parallel. The parapet had only just been thrown
down by a round shot and wounded a man. The next shot might have wounded
him, for the screen was accurately in range, but no consideration was so
paramount as the execution at all hazards of a necessary restoration.
Warily, and by degrees, he filled up the gap while the fire was upon
him, and before day-break finished his fatiguing task.

It was arranged among the generals to make another assault preceded by
an uninterrupted cannonade of some hours’ duration. Accordingly at three
o’clock on the afternoon of the 6th began the third bombardment. The
French opened with a crashing array of ordnance, and the British had 158
pieces of artillery in vigorous play, to which the Russians replied from
more powerful armaments in the Mamelon, Redan, the barrack and upper
garden batteries, and those also from the town and creek. Admirably was
the fire maintained. Projectiles of every weight crossed in showers, but
so dense was the smoke—resting like storm-clouds on the terrible
scene—that neither side could take better aim than what the flashes of
the guns afforded. At dusk the cannonading waned on both sides, at which
time the enemy confined his demonstration to a few guns only. All the
Russian works were much injured, the batteries broken up, and parapets
and embrasures, in part, demolished. Those of the British, on the
contrary, presented effects so disproportionate as to make the contrast
between them and those of the besieged almost marvellous. Nos. 9 and 14,
two contiguous batteries, seated on the swell of the second parallel on
the right attack, however, fared less fortunately than the rest: they
were knocked into strange shapes and three of their guns were disabled.
Shot and shell flew into them so accurately that the revetments fell as
if shaken by an earthquake into hopeless ruins. All else stood nobly up,
escaping with only trivial injuries, which a little sagacity and
expertness in the sappers soon made sound and efficient.

There were told off for the batteries and trenches this day twenty-eight
sappers for the right attack and sixty-one for the left, who gave
attention to the damages as they occurred, and also in blowing up the
rock in the new advanced trenches. Even while the bombardment was at its
highest the miners were busy in the approaches to the fourth parallel,
turning with tedious process the jumper in the rock, loading the holes
which had been sufficiently deepened, and firing them one after another
in open day. Eight other sappers were employed in rebuilding the
electric telegraph station in one of the dismal caves on the right
attack. All the men behaved with steadiness in their several duties, and
some showed so much confidence and daring in re-forming the shattered
embrasures, despite the firing, that their names were brought to the
notice of Lord Raglan. These were corporal Joseph J. Stanton, second
corporal Samuel Cole, and private Alexander McCaughey, to whom was
presented by his lordship’s order, a donation of two pounds each in
acknowledgment of their gallantry; and subsequently each was honoured
with the badge of a silver medal for “distinguished service in the
field,” accompanied by gratuities of ten pounds each to the two former
and five to the last.[184]

Corporal Stanton had to look after the batteries of the second parallel
on the right attack, having under him a small party of the Buffs and two
sappers of the ninth company, none of whom had been in the trenches
before. His superintendence was therefore irksome and laborious. By his
steadfastness and the vigour of his actions, he gradually dissipated
their hesitation, and following where he led, they assisted to remove
obstructions from the embrasures, particularly the broken hide mantlets
stuffed with wool, which, with their fastenings, had dropped across the
openings and choked up the gorges. Moving from battery to battery,
Stanton was repeatedly in the embrasures and even where the mantlets
were sound, cut them down with a strong arm—for he was a powerful man—as
the advantage of their retention as shields was far outweighed by the
terrible hazards of clearing them away should they fall in the
embrasures. While these deeds were in progress, showers of grape and
groups of shot and shell poured into the batteries causing accidents of
a very singular character. A shell came over into No. 13 battery, and
striking another shell which was being loaded, an explosion took place
wounding the captain and the sergeant of artillery engaged in the
service. The right gun of the battery had become useless from one of its
trunnions breaking; and so to prevent unnecessary casualty one of the
sappers filled up the neck of the embrasure with a mask of sand-bags.
While so employed a shot just passed over his head and entered the
disabled gun sticking fast in the muzzle. Narrowly, on two occasions, he
escaped during the day, but his comrade was severely wounded in the head
by the bursting of a 10-inch shell.

Among the troops the casualties were considerable, but in the sappers
three only were wounded:—

Colour-sergeant Alexander M. McLeod—slightly, in the head, by a shell

Private John Peterson—slightly, in the face and head, while blasting.

   ”    John Patterson—severely.

For the two attacks there were fifty sappers provided at dusk to shore
up the works and mend the breaches in the parapets during the night.
Some of the troops who occupied a dangerous post in front to guard the
trenches fell asleep, and thus failed to fire into the embrasures of the
Redan. This arose from a misconception of orders. It is worthy of
record, nevertheless, to show how cool were those brave men who, only a
bow-shot from danger, as if in undisturbed possession of an English
barrack-room and unaffected by care, reposed on the banquettes. The
working party on the right attack in No. 9 battery evinced great want of
spirit in the measures necessary to repair it. A ruinous fire had broken
it up and knocked down its embrasures. Much exertion was needed to make
it equal to the struggle, and the party quitted at the time for relief,
without having made that progress which it was calculated would result
from the number of men appointed to make good the damages. The corporal
of sappers in charge of the workmen who was consequently involved in
their inactivity, was subjected to the penalty he merited. Lieutenants
James and Somerville were the engineers responsible for the restorations
on the right, and they had under their orders thirty-two sappers. Half
of the number had been taken from the ninth company newly arrived from
England. This being their first time in the trenches they scarcely
understood their duty in the impromptu way in which war teaches it; but
yet, they left the advance that night with approbation. Corporal David
Simpson of the ninth company, was conspicuous for his tact and coolness
in mending an embrasure at grey light in the morning, while shells fell
wide of the devoted man who filled up the gap. Lord Raglan awarded him
two sovereigns in token of his satisfaction. Throughout the night the
cannonading was continued principally by vertical fire and additional
damage was done to the works; but, with few exceptions, the injuries
were repaired, and all the embrasures supplied with sound gabions and
sand-bags before daybreak. Even the batteries which kept up their fire
were attended to, and the shattered baskets and tubs, and the torn hides
and sand-bags, were replaced during the intervals of the several rounds.
No time was lost, no exertion withheld, to give an appearance to the
general works of freshness and strength. The sapper carpenters repaired
the various platforms in the 21-gun battery and the roof of the right
magazine of No. 9 battery, which, struck by a shell, was much shaken.
Alexander Montgomery, the sergeant in executive charge of the sappers on
the right—who had served in many a fight as a military adventurer in
maintaining the royal cause both of Portugal and Spain against
insurgents ranked on the side of powerful pretenders—was commended by
Major-General Jones for his zealous conduct and intelligent assistance
to his officers.

A party of sailors thrown into the trenches worked exceedingly well.
Indeed, without their help the repairs to the 21-gun battery could not
have been completed. The man-o’-war’s-man labours in his own way, and
does it with so much heartiness that, however singular and incautious
may be his modes of proceeding, he achieves his end in time. Five of the
seamen were wounded, but none of the sappers, though equally exposed,
were hurt.

Just as the sappers were paraded at the engineer hut in the first
parallel to return to camp, an artillery officer appeared and
represented that the embrasures of No. 11 battery—the only work which
raked the picket-house ravine—needed immediate attention. The news was
not pleasant to men who had performed a fatiguing night’s labour.
Feeling the hardship of this extra duty, the engineer officer was
disinclined to order any of his sappers to undertake the repairs, and
so, calling for volunteers, his wishes were instantly met by several
willing men offering for the service. Such unhesitating renunciation of
themselves was deservedly applauded. Corporal Joseph Lockwood,
lance-corporal Samuel Varren, and privates John Jaffray and Charles
Carlin, passing from No. 5 by the trench which rounded No. 9, pushed
onwards by the continued communication into No. 11, and leaped into the
embrasures. In about two hours, with such old materials as they could
find, they patched up the shapeless cheeks in as solid a form as the
urgency of the occasion permitted. The repairs were necessarily of a
rustic character, for wooden and iron gabions, sandbags, fascines,
earth, and loose stones—the available litter of the battery, in
fact—were all employed in tinkering the breaches. From the moment the
Russians perceived the sappers in the openings, a steady fire of Miniés
was maintained against them, and a couple of furious shells burst in
their rear; but they passed untouched from the trenches, and their
exertions and resource were acknowledged by Major-General Jones in
brigade orders.

The works of the adversary which had been uprooted by the fierceness of
the besiegers’ fire were rebuilt and rearmed in the night. There were
some, however, which seemed to totter on their bases. Wondrous must have
been the energy employed to give completeness to such a series of
extensive formations as comprised their defences. There was, let it be
acknowledged, a Vauban in the fortress. Todleben was he, an ardent and
skilful general and engineer, whose genius made him equal to any
pressure and capable of compassing any amount of devastation. We, too,
had Vaubans, disciples of the most approved military masters; and the
solid field structures founded by their talent and directed by their
skill and sleepless industry, prove their worthiness to rank with the
best engineers of any country. It only wanted this unprecedented siege
to make clear that which, for forty years, was an open question.

No working party was furnished for the left attack on the 7th. There
were, however, 54 sappers in the trenches who mended the embrasures and
threw up the rock by mining in different places in the third parallel.
Private Walter Conning, a delicate man but of robust purpose, was
noticed by Major Bent for his calm activity while mending an embrasure
in No. 4 battery on the left attack. His duty was to attend to the
repairs of the platforms; but as these were in a serviceable state and
he did not choose to remain idle, he leaped into an embrasure and
assisted his comrades to rebuild it. While doing so he was struck down
by a spent shot which knocked him from the aperture against the
traverse. This self-imposed employment, an instance of unobtrusive
devotion, coupled with his uniform steadiness and zeal in working the
advanced trenches, gained for him promotion and the decoration of the
Military War Medal of France.

Adam McKechnie—a private—was no less conspicuous in No. 9 battery
repairing with sand-bags two embrasures which had been knocked to
pieces. A blaze of fire was upon him during the whole time, but he
continued his exertions for more than two hours with a bearing so manly,
that Lieutenant Oldfield of the royal navy and his seamen, looked on
with as much admiration as surprise.

Among those who were the most praised was private Andrew Fairservice. He
is stated to have been “exceedingly active in repairing embrasures under
heavy fire;” so much so, indeed, that his valour and perseverance gained
him the honour of a “distinguished service” medal and a gratuity of five

For the right attack the numbers detailed—about forty—were told off to
their posts by sergeant Donald McFarlane. Captain Dawson of the
engineers, the officer on duty, was killed early in the morning in the
21-gun battery. He was the captain of the ninth company and this was his
maiden tour in the trenches. In little more than two hours after leaving
the camp he was borne back dead, his head having been shattered by a
round shot. Incessant repairs to the embrasures and parapets kept the
sappers constantly exposed, and they toiled with all the ardour for
which they had now become famous.

Some men of the ninth company in the 21-gun battery were unequal to the
hard work of the embrasures, and Captain Peel of the navy urged the
necessity of sending some _old_ sappers—meaning men who had been at the
siege from the commencement—to be allotted to the duty. Second-corporal
George H. Collins and a brigade of eight men were at once sent to the
front, and so incessant were their labours, they were never clear of the
embrasures for five minutes during the ten hours they served in the
battery. All day long the sun was hot and burning, the sky clear, and
not a man that thrust himself into the shattered apertures could reckon
for an instant on his safety. Not a shadow was thrown to conceal him
from observation, and he trusted to his agility to escape, when the
“look-out man” warning him of approaching shot or shell, gave him the
chance of making a desperate leap from the opening.

Most assiduous were the carpenters in strengthening the platforms, for
the continued friction of the guns in their heavy and irresistible
recoil injured not a few of them. A platform on the right of the 21-gun
battery required in haste for an effective piece of ordnance was rapidly
refitted; but before the mortar could be shifted on it, a 13-inch shell
from a battery in rear of the Redan struck the flooring and broke it in

In the afternoon, the strongest and most secure magazine on the right
attack was blown up. It was on the left of the 8-gun battery. A shell
plunged through the roof and bursting, all that remained of the magazine
was a smoking ruin. Private John Heaton who was returning to his party
after mending a platform at a distance, was killed by the explosion and
not an atom of his remains was ever discovered. Privates George Wright
and Stephen Gossage were wounded by fragments of the scattered timber.
On hearing the report—ominous of loss both of material and life—the
Russians jumped on their batteries and parapets, and, intimating their
joy at the calamity by a fiendish yell, quickly disappeared behind their

Wherever the Russians had established screens, they opened
communications to them, and then connecting each with the other, so
formed a parallel. One of this kind stretched its length 150 yards in
front of the British trenches which was nightly strengthened, widened,
and improved. The line, extending from the Mamelon to the Quarries,
formed the enemy’s exterior defence, beyond which except the rifle-pits
he was never able to advance. As the besiegers flung out their boyeaux
and breasted them with batteries or filled them with sharp-shooters, the
Russians, equally pushing, spent their arts and energies in rendering
their works both formidable and inaccessible. This advanced parallel
having greatly annoyed the besiegers and laid many a brave section low,
a combined attack was determined on,—the French to assault the _Ouvrage
Blancs_ and the Mamelon; the English, the Quarries and its appended
works facing the left of the right attack.

At about six in the evening—just as the sun was setting—the assault was
made by half a battalion of infantry from the light and second divisions
headed by Lieutenant Lowry of the engineers and a small party of royal
sappers and miners. The whole were commanded by Colonel Shirley. Divided
into two columns of 200 each, the half battalion dashed on to the flanks
of the Quarries, and supported by a reserve of 600 men, fought nobly
against odds which threatened to overwhelm them. A tremendous cannonade
had swept the Quarries until a few minutes before the encounter, when
all the batteries turned their venom on the Russian lines and broke them
up one after another. Repelled once, the assailants soon recovered
themselves and drove the Russians before them; but, contending against
an enemy almost invincible, the stormers again and again were forced
back. At this moment, Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden of the engineers, who
had a working party of 800 men under his orders, let loose his armed
pioneers, and three-fourths of them rushed into the quarries—those
impregnable hollows, hemmed in by walls of rock and paved with broken
stones and boulders—to share in the contest. This timely help, giving
fresh vigour to the assault, the stormers, renewed in spirit, bravely
seconded the stern efforts of the reinforcements; and a withering
musketry, close and telling, struck down their antagonists to the earth,
leaving chasms in their masses which a stream of troops from the Redan
as quickly refilled. Swoop following swoop levelled section after
section, succeeded by a temporary wavering which augured a retreat. The
quivering, however, passed, and the enemy yet stood in the pits which so
long had shielded them and worried the assailants as if the last man
intended to die in the ambuscade. Already the immolation showed how
desperate was the strife; the Russians at length, were well nigh
exhausted; but a few minutes more, and the besiegers, struggling over
the debris of old explosions and amid rocky traverses and huge fragments
of stone, pressed the enemy’s columns at all points and drove them
bewildered into the Redan. The Ouvrage Blancs and the Mamelon by this
time were gallantly taken by the French.

As soon as the seizure had been accomplished, Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden
moved up from the right-ravine communication his working party of 200
eager men led by a few sappers with corporal Joseph J. Stanton. There
was no confusion; no complexity of detail; and at once, under Lieutenant
Elphinstone of the engineers, the lodgment was commenced, while the
zigzag from the quarries, to connect with the left advanced sap
adjoining Egerton’s rifle-pits, was opened under Captain Wolseley of the
90th regiment, assistant engineer. Every nerve was strained to perfect
the works before morning; the trenches were quickly reversed; and the
earth and stones belonging to the old revetment were built into the new
parapet which was faced with gabions, 200 of which, all that were
brought in by the working party, were laid by Lieutenant Elphinstone,
corporal Stanton, and the sappers. Bold efforts were ineffectually made
by the Russians to regain their loss, even carrying away, in their
desperate prowess, some of the lumbering gabions; but the victors,
indisposed to yield an inch, retook the baskets and held the ambuscade
with intrepid tenacity, while the working party, saved by the vigilance
of the stormers from material interruption in their exertions succeeded,
before the arrival of the new relief, in giving to the lodgment and
communication sufficient cover for immediate defence. All this being
effected in a dark night, with thick dangers around, was creditable to
the endurance and industry of the officers who directed and the soldiers
who toiled. Captain Browne of the engineers had the general
superintendence of the works under Colonel Tylden.

Lieutenant Lowry, a young officer, led the storming party most gallantly
and was killed while rallying the men after having been repulsed. He was
carried away by some sappers, who, working on the parapet of the
quarries saw him fall. His sword was delivered to corporal Stanton, of
which he made good use. A Russian was outside, behind a gabion, bent on
his knee. Observed while in the act of levelling his musket, Stanton
waved the sword, and with one blow struck him down. Lieutenant
Elphinstone and corporal Stanton were working side by side at the time,
but the former was unaware of his danger till the deadly act of the
latter had removed the cause.

Lieutenant Anderson of the 96th regiment, assistant engineer, was
wounded early in the night. The sappers present in the storming were
about 12, divided between the two assaulting columns; 40 were with the
reserve battalion and the working party, and other brigades were
distributed to the batteries. The casualties among the parties were
eight wounded:—

Second-corporal Peter Luxton—severely, in the head, by grape-shot.

Private William McDonald—dangerously, by fracture of skull, from
        gun-shot. He died of his wounds.

   ”    William R. Collings—dangerously, in left leg, by rifle-ball. He
        had crept up the open and was in the act of stretching the tape
        by which to place the line of gabions to connect the zigzag from
        the quarries to the left advanced approach, when the ball
        entered below the swell of his leg and issued at the knee. He
        died of his wounds.

Lance-corporal Robert Young—severely, in the right arm, in Greenhill

Private Walter Conning—slightly, in the hip.

   ”    Samuel Dines—slightly, in the head, by a rifle ball, while
        entering an embrasure of the 21-gun battery.

   ”    Alexander Hosie—severely, in the throat, by splinter of a shell,
        while in the 21-gun battery.

   ”    Peter Slade—severely, in the head, in No. 9 battery, left

“Notwithstanding,” wrote Lord Raglan, under date the 9th June, “the
frequency of the endeavours of the Russians to regain possession of the
quarries, and the interruptions to the work to which these attacks gave
rise, Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden was enabled to effect the lodgment, and
to establish the communication with the advanced parallel; and this
redounds greatly to his credit and that of the officers and men employed
as the working party; and I cannot omit this opportunity to express my
approbation of the conduct of the sappers throughout the operations.”

With remarkable skill the quarries had been entrenched by the Russians
and novel schemes adopted to render them successful against an assault.
About twenty yards in front of the works there were hidden dangers
intended to throw advancing columns into hopeless confusion. It was well
that the troops had no knowledge of their presence or they might have
shrunk from an attack which yielded them such important advantages.
Entering the quarries by the flanks, they were preserved from calamities
that awaited them had they made the attack direct. Cubical boxes, filled
with gunpowder, were buried in the ground with glass tubes attached to
them containing an explosive composition. Delicately adjusted, though
roughly constructed, these infernal machines only required the tread of
hasty feet to produce combustion and blow up the stormers. Luckily, no
accident occurred during the attack; and although forty or more of the
boxes had subsequently been extracted from the soil, only two or three,
bursting by pressure, occasioned any accident.


Footnote 184:

  Gunner Burke, of the royal artillery, also assisted in repairing an
  embrasure under the heaviest fire in No. 14 battery of the right
  attack, and Lord Raglan rewarded him, like the sappers, with a present
  of two sovereigns.

                          8th June-18th June.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

Repairs to the works—Death of corporal Fraser—Conduct of private
  Orr—Improviséd church—Perseverance in the quarries—Segmental trench in
  front of them—Successful exertions of the miners—Yenikale—Cape St.
  Paul—Detail of sappers furnished for the trenches—Completion of
  defences in the lodgment—Casualties in a party mending a trench
  bridge—State of the works—Platforms—What is an embrasure?—Destruction
  of one—Its repair—Casualties—A tolerated grumbler—Generous conduct of
  corporal Lockwood—Fourth bombardment; preparations for
  assault—Vigorous conduct of sergeant Anderson in repairing the
  electric wires—And of corporal Borbidge in renewing a platform for a
  sea-service mortar—First storming of the Redan—Chivalric behaviour of
  private Head—Casualties—Conduct of the sappers in the
  assault—Volunteer services of sergeant Drew and corporal
  Jenkins—They rescue some of the wounded—So also does private
  Ramsay—Brigadier-General Eyre’s column in the cemetery grounds—Valiant
  behaviour of corporal Baker—General casualties—Death of Lord Raglan.

No time was lost in making the most of the position won by the gallantry
of the besiegers; but on the 8th June, owing to the exhausted state of
the troops from the labours of the previous night, no working party
could be provided for the right attack. Fifty-two sappers, however, took
their places as usual in the lines, repairing embrasures, improving the
cover of the quarries, and deepening the communications to them. To
preserve their energies, they were employed in four reliefs of four
hours each throughout the day. Very heavy was the firing from the
Russian batteries during the first relief, occasioning many casualties
among the guard of the trenches and harassing though not interrupting
the workmen. On the left there were 150 linesmen and 38 sappers
scattered over the trenches, restoring demolished embrasures and
parapets, and re-roofing magazines torn up by shells.

While thus employed in No. 10 battery situated on a central projection
of the second parallel, second-corporal James Fraser—a fearless young
non-commissioned officer—was killed. Fraser was working in an
embrasure—a mere crag, so complete was its disruption—patching up the
left cheek with sandbags, while corporal McEachern was reconstructing
the right one. The firing on the battery was very fierce, but the two
corporals, stript to their trousers and shirts, toiled away with
dauntless perseverance. “Never mind the rascals,” said Fraser, with an
encouraging smile, “we’ll finish it in spite of them.” Such was his
determination; but a few moments after, he was blown from the embrasure
by a round shot, which carried away his right arm and the whole of his
breast and ribs, exposing his quivering heart. McEachern heard the shot
pass and felt the heat which its velocity imparted; and on turning round
to see how his comrade had fared, he saw him doubled up on a pile of
projectiles and the gunners and workmen gathering up his remains.
McEachern had seen too many such catastrophes to slacken his energies,
and so resuming the work as if nothing had happened he left it only when
the cheeks were finished.

Private John Malcolm, an hour after, was sent into the same embrasure to
clear the sole, as the gun in its rear could not be sufficiently
depressed to fire with advantage. Stripped to the work, he was
shovelling away the debris, when a splinter from a shell struck him
severely on the head. At the instant, he fell from the aperture to the
platform, and the next moment a shower of fierce stones fell on him,
fretting his flannel shirt as if a rasp had torn it up and wounding him
in both shoulders.

In the night following there were 59 sappers in the front, who were
succeeded next morning by 71 men. Many laboured at the different
batteries and privates John Sykes and William Orr, in charge of No. 10
battery, left attack, were named to Lord Raglan as having behaved with
conspicuous zeal and coolness in removing the debris of broken gabions
and split-bags from the disfigured embrasures and rebuilding the cheeks.
So heavy was the fire at the time, that one gun was disabled in the
battery and some of the artillery carriages injured. General Jones was
an eye-witness of the manly way in which Orr entered the embrasures
between the rounds of fire, and of his unruffled exertions to clear the
soles and mend the revetments; and when the general had it in his power
to mark, in a substantial manner, his appreciation of the private’s
intrepid demeanour, he obtained for him a “distinguished service” medal
and a gratuity of five pounds.

Before nightfall the lodgment was made completely defensible, and a
chevaux-de-frise was fixed, in the shape of a half moon, by a few sapper
blacksmiths, some distance in front, to protect the working parties from
sudden assaults.

It was about this time that the companies, in the midst of their
exertions and trials, eked out sufficient leisure from their camp duties
to show their reliance upon that religion which alone could sustain and
console them in vicissitude and peril. The _edifice_ they erected in
which to offer up their devotions was characteristic, and the following
account of it, transcribed from the ‘Daily News,’ gives a fair view of
the details of this improviséd and unique military cathedral:—

“One among the many interesting objects in the British camp before
Sebastopol is the Sappers’ church, ‘right attack,’ where the Rev. Mr.
Taylor officiates. Its structure affords an excellent example of the
adaptation of local circumstances to a particular object. It is built
wholly of siege apparatus; but these are neither injured nor rendered
unfit for their ultimate purpose; on the contrary, the materials are so
arranged that they are only in store, as it were, ready for use as soon
as required. The articles employed in the construction have been
scaling-ladders, gabions, fascines, timbers ready cut and shaped for
gun-platforms, a few planks, and some pieces of rope. Two
scaling-ladders locked into each other at the top, so as to give and
derive mutual support, form, at certain intervals, the columns which
separate the aisles from the body of the church, and bear the roof. The
framework of the outer wall is made by long upright timbers, which lean
against the summits of each set of ladders respectively, and are secured
by cords. Across these a few joist-beams are lashed, and the outer wall
of gabions, though thicker at the base than above, in a great degree
rest against these horizontal supports. To form the wall the gabions are
placed end to end, one above the other, until they reach the height of
the roof. Nothing can be more agreeable, during the heat of the day,
than the sensation produced by the air entering through this gauge-work
of twigs; it passes freely, but is so sprinkled, as it were, in its
passage—its force is so broken, that, however strong without, it fails
to cause any unpleasant disturbance within. The sun’s light is broken
with an equally pleasing effect, for the rays which find their way in
are so refracted and disturbed, that all glare and dazzle are prevented.
The roof is made by the platform timbers laid between the tops of the
ladders on each side, and at right angles to these the fascines are laid
in regular rows, until a complete covering is formed. The roof is light,
admits of course of free ventilation, and gives a perfect protection
against the direct rays of the sun. At the end opposite the entrance
into this truly military church, a semicircular sweep is given to the
gabion wall, and in the recess thus formed several sacks stuffed with
straw are arranged, to form a reading-desk and kneeling-cushion for the
preacher. Planks are laid on each side from ladder to ladder, resting at
a convenient height on the lower rails, and these benches are
appropriated for the use of the weak and convalescents from the
hospital; the other soldiers stand during the service.

“When the Union-Jack has been thrown over the primitive reading-desk
above mentioned, and the clergyman is in his usual robes, and the
engineers and sappers are filling the space in their military costume,
all seems so appropriate and in such harmony, that should a visitor be
among the number of the congregation, he soon ceases to feel the
peculiarity of the place, and forgets, while engaged in the service,
that he is not in one of the ordinary churches, with its stoned walls
and steepled roof, in his own mother-country. Now and then the attention
of the listener to the “mission of peace and good-will among men” may be
distracted for a moment by the heavy thunder of a gun, or the bursting
of a shell; for the Sappers’ church is on one side of the ravine leading
to Careening Bay, and since the Russian redoubts and French works have
been established on the heights above, such sounds have become frequent
on all days, and at all hours of the week. But the sappers themselves
know that their yard is out of range, though only just out of it, and
habit in this, as in other matters, produces its usual effect. The gun
is discharged, the shot whizzes through the air, and the shell explodes;
but the sounds, if heard, are not heeded, for the attention is otherwise

By the 10th June, on which date there were 94 sappers in the front, the
batteries were all in admirable order, another screen overlooking the
Woronzoff road was finished, and the lodgment and its communications
looked grim with details which promised to be formidable when completed.
On that day, fifty men of the line had been thrown into the quarries to
assist in converting them to the besiegers’ will; but after a while, so
accurate and fierce was the fire upon them from a mortar and a gun on
the right of the tower, that the party was necessarily withdrawn.
“Whistling Dick,” from the mortar alluded to, was doing its best to thin
the workmen; but luckily its terrific presence was unaccompanied by any
serious disaster. Still the sappers, twelve in number, were retained at
this dangerous spot; and working away amid descending shells bursting in
all directions and splinters driving even into obscure angles, they
strengthened the parapet by building stones into the revetment, made
loopholes, and continued the formation of the banquette. At three
o’clock in the afternoon, Captain Browne of the engineers, persevering
in his endeavours to work the lodgment, sent other fifty men into it who
laboured in the quarries till regularly relieved. More than fifty
casualties occurred in and about the quarries during the day; among
these was private William Lang who was dangerously wounded by a shell
which carried away his arm. A group of his comrades, who were near at
the time, threw themselves down to avoid its splinters. Awful moments
followed, each expecting, but hoping to escape the death that seemed
inevitable. Fortunately the shell buried itself in the earth, then
fizzed in paroxysms for a few seconds, when, grinding further into the
soil, the fuze providentially was smothered. Another sapper, name
unknown, was wounded in the left attack.

Seventy men of the corps were in the trenches during the night of the
10th scattered over the works of the two attacks. The lodgment, still
offering occasion for anxious solicitude, progressed with energy and a
new trench was formed on a segmental trace in front of the quarries,
taking the captured ambuscade as the base of the figure. The spring of
the bow issued from the right of the lodgment, then, bending away in an
arch, abutted on the left of the quarries. The trench was clear of the
salient of the Redan, but intersected the Malakoff abattis at a point
where a gap had recently been made by a round shot from the besiegers.
All the gabions, 180 in number, which lined the excavation, were staked
and filled before the morning. Not a shot or bullet came in the
direction during its progress. Twelve sappers were appointed to this new
trench, who, receiving the gabions from the line, placed them on the
sweep of the curve with a rapidity and sprightliness so marked, it
seemed as if the men were chasing each other to the goal. The workmen
were chiefly of the 19th regiment, by whom, and a party from the light
division, about 180 in all, the gabions were filled.

Next day there were 103 sappers in the lines, and 74 at night. At
daybreak on the 12th, there were 81 men in the front. Considerable
exertions had been made in mining on the left attack, principally in the
round-hill parallel, where, stopped by rock at every step, not a move
could be made ahead, till by great bodily exertion, and patient coolness
against inevitable personal risks, the obstruction was blown away.
Laborious and fatiguing as were these duties, they were executed with no
abatement of care; and it may be mentioned that from the first, out of
thousands of blasts fired successfully throughout the works, and many
more which failed in critical situations, only two accidents by mining
had occurred. A more striking proof of the proficiency of the men need
scarcely be adduced. The sufferers were private John Stancombe who lost
the sight of one of his eyes, and lance-corporal William Eastley who was
severely wounded by a stone of about 14 pounds weight striking him in
the back. The former was blown up, and receiving the blast full in his
face, blood poured from a hundred punctures, and when the wounds were
healed, his skin was thickly speckled with blue marks as if elaborately
tattooed by some unskilful mariner.

Leaving a party of fourteen rank and file at Yenikale, the remainder of
the company with Sir George Brown’s expedition re-embarked on the 11th
June under Captain Hassard and landed at Balaklava on the 14th.
Lieutenant Anderson was located at Yenikale with six sappers, and
Captain Stanton and Lieutenant Drake proceeded with the rest to Cape St.
Paul. The works to defend these captured positions were commenced
respectively on the 15th and 18th June, the French superintending one
portion, the English the other, both assisted by strong parties of
Turks, sometimes as many as a thousand a-day at each fort. At Yenikale
some old houses were pulled down which furnished timber for the works,
and when this source failed, planking and nails were obtained from some
stranded vessels in the channel. The lines consisted of a cordon of
trenches with a strong lunette in rear and a series of rifle-pits in
front. The stockades, platforms, and the folding loopholed gates of the
lunette were chiefly executed by the sappers, who, after the 14th July,
worked in concert with the French in continuing the covered way on the
right to the sea. On the 4th August, Lieutenant Anderson and his sappers
reappeared in the trenches before Sebastopol.

At Cape St. Paul the intrenchments, extending more than a thousand yards
inland, abutted on bold precipices overhanging the sea. Following the
contour of a broken country, the knolls embraced in the lines became so
many salients armed with one or more field-pieces. Strong works were
thrown up in advance of the main trenches to flank them, and
rifle-screens were constructed on eminences to command access to the
wells, which, situated about 1200 yards in front of the works, were open
to hostile interference. The hard nature of the soil in some places
prevented the digging of ditches, and to counteract the defect,
escarpments were erected about 12 feet high. A considerable portion of
the redoubt at the extreme inland angle of the trenches was built with
rough stones, faced by hewn blocks of a softer kind, accumulations of
which were found already dressed and fit for use. Around St. George’s
Hill huge boulders encumbered the trenches, which in time were borne up
by manual strength and built into the parapets. Thunderstorms frequently
occurring, the rains beat down portions of the earthen cover, which were
renewed, though at great labour, with less yielding expedients. A
mamelon, too, was wholly cut away to insure completeness in the
defences, and the isolated battery on the promontory of Akbornou,
standing up with a cold and truculent aspect, was levelled to the rock
out of which it sprang. At that point was thrown up a bastioned trench
by the 71st regiment to protect the right of the position. The sappers,
eight in all, first under Captain Stanton, then Lieutenant Drake,
superintended the construction of the several works, and returned to
Sebastopol in the middle of December. Corporal McKimm and lance-corporal
R. Crawford Cowan, two excellent sappers both of whom had been named
with honour for their gallantry at the siege, were with the party.

At night on the 12th, Lieutenants Elphinstone and Graham traced the
first portion of the fifth parallel facing the right flank of the Redan.
They had with them second corporal George H. Collins and private Moncur,
two smart and reliable sappers, to whom the executive superintendence of
the work was intrusted. After completing the trace, 7 other sappers and
120 of the line commenced a boyau from the most advanced trench in front
of the quarries. Fifty-six gabions were laid and filled in this
approach, and then the sappers run along the new parallel with fifty
other gabions, placing ten more at the extremity of the series, with a
short obtuse angle backwards, to screen the linesmen while filling the
baskets and forming the parapet of the new work. Alarms twice occurred
which caused the workmen to retire. Collins, indisposed to yield to a
questionable danger, went some distance to the front to ascertain if
there existed any reason for it; but seeing nothing to justify the
retreat, he encouraged the men to return and they readily resumed work.
The relief had been in the trench some time when the second interruption
took place. Again Collins restored confidence by mounting the parapet
and there remaining till the ill-founded fears of the linesmen had
subsided. Both parties, nevertheless, worked very well and obtained
excellent cover. The sappers were on duty at this new sap for seventeen
hours without relief.

The following detail shows the force of sappers furnished by night and
day for front duty during the period comprised in the table.
Ever-varying circumstances caused the number to fluctuate, so that with
each party it was hardly possible to afford a stronger contingent of
overseers than was marched at daybreak and at dusk into the trenches:—

                  Attacks.   No. of              Officers on Duty.
 Night 12th  June Right         48    Lieuts. Elphinstone and Graham.
                  Left          33    Capt. Belson and Lieut. Donnelly.
 Day   13th   ”   Right         40    Capt. Browne and Lieut. Darrah.
                  Left          63    Major Chapman, 20th regt., assist. eng.
 Night 13th   ”   Right         40    Lieut. Fisher.
                  Left          32    Captain Jesse and Lieut. Neville.
 Day   14th   ”   Right         44    Lieuts. James and Somerville.
                  Left          65    Capt. Penn, R.A., assistant engineer.
 Night 14th   ”   Right         40    Capt. De Moleyns and Capt. Wolseley,
                                      90th, assistant engineer.
                  Left          36    Capt. Armit and Lieut. C. G. Gordon.
 Day   15th   ”   Right         40    Lieuts. Graves and Graham.
                  Left          49    Lieut. Donnelly.
 Night 15th   ”   Right         40    Capt. Browne and Lieut. Darrah.
                  Left          34    Capt. Belson and Major Chapman, 20th.
 Day   16th   ”   Right         40    Lieut. Elphinstone and Major Campbell,
                                      46th, assistant engineer.
                  Left          42    Lieut. Neville.
 Night 16th   ”   Right         40    Lieuts. Murray and Fisher.
                  Left          35    Capt. Jesse and Capt. Penn, R.A.
 Day   17th   ”   Right       { 32    Lieuts. Murray and Fisher.
                              { 44    Lieuts. James and Somerville.
                  Left          24    Lieut. C. G. Gordon.
 Night 17th   ”   Right         12    Capt. Wolseley, 90th, assist. engineer.
                  Left          23    Capt. Armit.
 Day   18th   ”   Right         20    Capt. De Moleyns.
                  Left          24    Capt. Armit and Lieut. Jones, 46th,
                                      assistant engineer.

During these few days, as an assault was in contemplation, the line
workmen were active and pushing. Rather strong parties of sappers
superintended them, who also cut and formed the embrasures, and took the
lead in the new trenches where the skill of craftsmen was indispensable.
The lodgment was now wholly completed, communications to it were
perfected, and a boyau, issuing from the left of the quarries, had been
thrown up with almost daring impertinence for about 120 yards towards
the Redan. The gabions were lodged by some sappers in so ready and firm
a manner it seemed as if they possessed a genius for such enterprises.
Far from being reckless, they advanced, though diligently and coolly, by
prudential efforts; and thus effected, so to speak, their own
deliverance; while the line, less calculating the danger of their work
and less of course accustomed to it, were struck down in rather serious
numbers. A new battery, No. 16, for three 32-pounders, and one for four
mortars, No. 17, also rose up in the vicinity of the lodgment. Rapidly
they were completed with magazines, platforms, and traverses, and the
guns and mortars, drawn at night to their positions by the track from
Egerton’s rifle-pit, were promptly placed on their beds, armed with
gunners, and worked with more or less fury as occasion served against
the enemy. When all was done the half-moon chevaux-de-frise of spikes
was withdrawn from the front and piled up in the lodgment.

On one of these nights ten men of the infantry under a sapper were sent
to repair a bridge over which the ammunition was usually conveyed to the
batteries in the third parallel. The bridge spanned the fourth boyau a
little in rear of No. 13 battery of the left attack. Sergeant Drew set
the men to work; but as the shelling was warm on the spot the party
asked to be removed. It was of some moment to repair the smashed
timbers, and the sergeant urging the men by an appeal to their courage
to resume the work, said he would visit them again in ten minutes. He
reappeared within the time appointed, but the whole party had decamped.
Going in quest of them, he found that two of the men had been severely
wounded, and the rest were carrying them on stretchers to the rear.

Looking abroad on the works which now spread over many miles of ground,
meshed by cross-trenches in all directions, it was obvious that nothing
had been omitted which it was in the nature of foresight, resource, or
exertion to have executed. In every battery the revetments had been
strengthened or rebuilt; the gabionades improved or restored, and
cheeks, merlons, traverses, magazines, and every imaginable desiderata
attended to with spirited pertinacity. The usual expedients for field
constructions had long since began to fail, but now their deficiency was
largely felt. Still never at a loss for schemes, the engineers applied
all sorts of agencies, regarding nothing as crude or trivial, to perform
in emergencies effectual parts in the great siege. Iron and wooden
hurdles, powder-boxes and ammunition-cases, were thus pressed into the
service to do the work and stand the wear of better contrivances.
Frequently molested by riflemen and shelled from the batteries, the
sappers and pioneers held their posts with unflinching constancy, and
each succeeding night saw the restoration of the day’s havoc. Even in
the glaring sunlight the most essential repairs were executed, while
shot and shell were dropping around and Minié bullets were pinging over
the parapets and thugging into the slopes. A rifle-screen on the right
attack was erected in one night on the very edge of the cliff to sweep
the ravine, which harboured in its cavities the Russian sharpshooters.
It was difficult of access, but to lessen the danger of reaching it, a
species of approach was formed to protect the light troops while driving
into the pit. Ten men of the line prepared the screen superintended by a
sapper. The 21-gun battery, as of old, received material help to make
vigorous and solid its vast proportions and to mend its long inventory
of damages. It was the head-quarters for the right-attack, from whence
the working parties, guided by the sappers, filed off to their appointed
duties. The batteries on Greenhill, the picket-house, and those in the
foremost parallels, were also attended to with equal promptitude and
maintained in a state remarkably efficient.

None laid the platforms or built the magazines, splinter-proofs, &c.,
but the sappers. Everything, indeed, which came under the denomination
of artificers’ work, was executed by them. The fixing of platforms was
only second in importance, as far as hazard was concerned, to the
formation of the embrasures. Repeatedly the carpenters were called upon
in broad daylight to render them serviceable. Relaying sprung sleepers
or planks, and renewing cleets or bolts broken by the violence of the
fire or a tearing recoil, were frequently attended to whilst the siege
was at its highest; and the only protection which the carpenters
received under such circumstances was the scanty cover of a shallow
genouillère, with perhaps a sapper or two in the gorge busy mending the
cheeks of a shivered embrasure. In former sieges the laying of a
platform under fire was held to be an act of great personal daring; but
in this wonderful enterprise, it was so much a habit of the sappers to
see to this particular detail, that it passed among occurrences as a
common matter.

What is an embrasure? So much has been said about it, it needs the
question; and the answer may not be misplaced here. Look at one while
the battle rages. It is a formal cut in a mound of earth, taking the
shape of a wedge, with the broad end to the enemy, the narrow to the
platform. The narrow end is called “the neck,” and possesses just width
enough to admit a man or the muzzle of a gun. It then extends to the
front for more than twenty feet with a widening orifice, ten or twelve
feet broad at the greatest expansion, which is designated “the mouth.”

Bold men stand in rear of the opening and equally bold are they who
work. With some certainty the range is known and but few shots or shells
miss their mark. A ball of weighty metal strikes the embrasure, and
makes a crevice to its centre, scattering the sand as in a sirocco.
Another comes and gashes a well-formed cheek, blows away an angle or a
shoulder, and topples into the space below, broken hide-bags from the
crest and the earth that covers them. The concussion of our own guns
assists to loosen the work and the hot fire of the artillerymen dries up
the gabions rendering them less susceptible of resistance. These, ere
long, woven with so much compactness, are broken up and strewn as in a
wood-yard, and fascines unband and yield their bundles to choke up the
gorge. One slope after another loses form and splay, fissures appear,
stones rock and fall, and the structure totters on a few fragments.
Still it bravely holds up in its ruggedness against a storm of fire.
Another well-directed shell is delivered and its splinters knock
everything to pieces. The feeble props at length are torn away, and all
above, like an avalanche, slides upon the sole, which heaving with its
own weakness gives way, and in part crumbles into the ditch. Necks,
cheeks, and throat—all now have disappeared; and of the outline of that
stern formation, nothing remains but a distorted mouth, with the broken
wattle of gabions and the stakes of fascines sticking confusedly out
along its extended jaw; and there, too, is the remnant of a sand-bag,
caught upon a bending twig, waving lazily with the wind as if begging a

Who will dare stand among the ruins? Here comes a sapper followed by
another from behind a traverse to survey the desolation. Well is it that
night approaches to cover the adventure. It is more than dusk already.
Into the breach they vault with fluttering hearts, for no panoply guards
them; no helmet, no cuirass, protects them. Soon the emotion passes and
the calmness of extremity prepares them for the worst. Each has his cap
pressed down on his brow, and his greatcoat—pegged or pinned in front,
with perhaps a solitary button to connect the breasts—is girdled with a
couple of well-worn belchers or a piece of cordage. Removing the debris,
they build up the faces with fresh materials handed to them by some
constant linesmen. Now a gabion is fixed and others are forced into
position in quick succession. Sand-bags are crushed into the baskets
till they creak, and others, laid row on row, crown the work. Care is
taken to give the necessary slopes to the cheeks to prevent them
tumbling down. All the interstices and crests are made solid with rammed
earth and bags, and not a nook or chink occurs but something is found to
jam into it to make it whole. Upon the merlon toils another sapper
strengthening it with stones and earth handed to him by his assistants
in the battery. Perspiration drops like rain over his beard, and, driven
by his strong energy through every pore, moistens the rags which cover
him from the night damp. Some bales of hides being brought, feeling
makes up for the want of vision in so dark a night, and the cheeks are
at length covered with hairy skins. Prudence has adapted their use as
well to aid in preserving the embrasures, as to save them from flaming
during the rapidity of our own fire. Now the sole of the opening is
being improved and sloped. Up to the front the comrades push. So far are
they away you scarce can see them. Deadly missiles fly onward and around
and Minié bullets with a wheezing noise spend their force in the
parapet. Who’s touched? Neither. One however has had a ball through his
cap. Still on they work with strength somewhat abated, but no
deterioration of spirit, till a couple of gabions, struck behind by a
shell, are forced outwards and knock down the operators. The fall of one
is awkward, for his head overhangs the trench and the shelving slope of
the sole threatens to shoot him headlong into the ditch. Catching at a
stake he breaks his descent and wriggling back into the aperture, crawls
to the spot where his exertions were interrupted. Joined by his comrade
just rising from beneath a pile of broken sand-bags they recommence the
restoration. Fair excuse this for suspending the work but undismayed
they persevere. Eventually their toils end; their work is completed; and
after six hours’ exposure, they quit the scene uninjured. It is
otherwise in the next embrasure, for one is mown down by a shot and the
other badly wounded. Such is the fortune of war.

With all this danger, and though the fire from the Russians for the
period comprised in the above table was fierce and destructive, the
following men only were killed and wounded:—

June 14th—Private John McRoberts—wounded dangerously, died next day.

   ”       ”    John Murphy—wounded severely in the head, by rifle
                    bullet, while in the quarries.

  ”  15th—Lance-corporal George Peter—wounded in the head and ear.

  ”  15th—Lance-corporal Stephen Daft—wounded severely in the left arm
          by grape-shot.

  ”  16th—Private William Smale, wounded dangerously, died next day. He
          was struck when working in the advanced trench approaching the
          Redan. Tall, stalwart, and strong, few sappers were more
          active in the trench than he; few more skilful; and he bore
          the scar of a severe wound sustained by him at the siege on
          the 14th April.[185]

  ”  17th—Corporal William James—killed by a shell which struck him in
          the chest.

  ”  17th—Private Thomas Patterson—wounded severely in the right
          shoulder by gun-shot.

  ”  17th—Private James Clyde—wounded dangerously, died next day.

For several days each embrasure in the fighting batteries had its sapper
who was held responsible for its efficiency. It so happened, in No. 7
battery, on the 17th of June, a gabion had been knocked from the cheek
and fell across the mouth of the aperture. In other respects the
embrasure was sound enough. The artillery would not fire as long as the
obstruction remained, and called upon the sapper—a young one—to remove
it. Thinking the operation was needless, as it did not interfere with
the line of fire; and if it did, that a single discharge would blow it
out, he declined to incur the risk. Corporal Lockwood who was in charge
of the sappers in the battery, concurred in the propriety of the
refusal, but leaped himself into the embrasure and threw the gabion into
the ditch. The full blaze of day was on him, and as he bounded back to
the platform, he was followed by a string of rifle balls which whizzed
into the opening and harmlessly struck the cheeks.

Twelve days cannonading, sometimes warm, sometimes lessened to an
insignificant demonstration, had, it was considered, so weakened the
enemy’s works, it was decided to assault the Redan and the Malakoff on a
great anniversary day—the 18th of June. At one o’clock on the morning of
the 17th the fourth bombardment began, just prior to which a brigade of
carpenters had traversed the different batteries and examined and
repaired all the platforms, while the remainder in both attacks, filled
up holes and chasms in the parapets, and left every part in excellent
condition for the fight. At that hour there were 72 sappers in the
trenches, who were relieved at night by a small party of 35 men divided
between the two attacks superintending a force of 700 men. On the 18th
before a ray of light had broken the darkness, 44 sappers were in the
lines, with 100 men to assist them on the left, and six only on the
right. Whatever further repairs required were quickly executed, and the
necessary scaling ladders, pickaxes, and shovels, laid out in the first
parallel of the Gordon attack for the use of the columns then parading
for the assault.

During the night Captain Du Cane of the engineers, in charge of the
field electric telegraph, directed sergeant Anderson to sleep in the
office at head-quarters, and be ready by two in the morning to accompany
him and the staff to the trenches for the purpose of sending any
messages from the telegraph cave which Lord Raglan might wish to
despatch. He had barely turned in to take the little repose allowed him,
when a mounted hussar arrived from Sir George Brown in command of the
light division, bearing information to the effect, that the electric
wires were cut and no communication could be held with head-quarters.
Sergeant Anderson at once tried the instrument in the office and found
the line incompetent. It was about ten o’clock. Not a moment was to be
lost; but it was a question whether it was possible by the hour named
for the attack, to renew the lines. In an important point like this,
there was no room for speculation. Much depended upon tact and
quickness. The captain felt most anxious about it, and ordered the
serjeant to test the line and repair it immediately. Lamed by a fall
from a horse the sergeant was unequal to the exertion of running on
foot, and so mounting the hussar’s charger, he bounded off and arrived
at the light division camp just as the stormers were mustering for the
assault. Borrowing a lantern he threaded the line from the station,
carefully examined the wires, and at last came upon the breaks which had
occasioned the interruption. The wires had been cut accidentally by
round shot or shells. With corporal Truscott he finished the lines a few
minutes before the storming columns moved to the assault, and enabled
Captain Du Cane, who was well pleased with the prompt energy of the
sergeant, to report to Major-General Jones the re-establishment of the
required communication.

No. 13 battery of the left attack, armed with 13-inch mortars, had fired
on the Russian works with tremendous results, but its efficiency was, in
time, impaired, by the destruction of one of its platforms. It was of
great moment to renew it, and corporal Borbidge and six carpenters
commenced the work at four o’clock in the evening while the battery was
still in action. A naval mortar required a ponderous arrangement of
sleepers and planks to sustain it, for, with an ordinary charge of
gunpowder, it has been known to make a vertical jump some six inches
high and reach the stand again with a crushing jerk sufficient to shake
the structure in every part. To meet concussions of such violence the
platforms for sea-service mortars were invariably of the strongest kind.
That constructed by Borbidge and his sappers—the type of many more—had,
for its foundation, three transverse sleepers measuring ten inches deep
and eight broad. Above them were laid, longitudinally, six beams eight
inches wide and eight in depth, to which was spiked the covering
consisting of massive planks nine inches in breadth and four deep. At
the sides, ribands or stays of proportionate strength were bolted to the
flooring, and when all was completed the platform spread over an area
ten feet square. This however gives but a faint idea of the amount of
labour employed in producing it. After collecting the timber—principally
old joists and rafters from ruined houses—it took those seven men, using
their best skill and exertions, thirteen hours to complete it! The
darkness increased the difficulties of its construction, and prepared as
it was under a fire of some intensity with blazing shells dropping and
bursting around them, the service was advanced to the dignity of an
example for future imitation. It was ready for action at five o’clock on
the morning of the 18th of June. Corporal Borbidge had the reputation of
being a brave man. He was the tallest sapper at the siege, approaching
in height six feet four inches, and the doubled-up positions into which
he was forced by the peculiar exigencies of his work, did not in the
least affect a stature which was admitted to be perfect in straightness
and equipoise.[186]

To the French was assigned the attack on the Malakoff; to the British
that on the Redan. Four columns of the latter were formed up; the first
to enter the left face between the flanking batteries; the second the
salient angle of the work; the third the re-entering angle formed by the
face and flank; and the fourth, moving towards the Woronzoff ravine, to
enter the right flank of the Redan. To each column was added a brigade
of eight sappers and four carpenters laden with crowbars,
sledge-hammers, grapnels, axes, and powder-bags for removing abattis,
palisades, or any other obstacles which might oppose the onward dash of
the stormers, and also to blow down gates and barriers.

The right column to scale the re-entering angle was formed up in the
trench leading out of the right of the quarries in the following
succession under the command of Colonel Yea of the royal fusiliers:—

 100 rifles, 1st battalion—skirmishers        } Under Lieut. Fisher,
   8 sappers and miners                       }  R.E., with sergeant
   4 carpenters, carrying cutting tools,      }  John Landrey of the
       powder-bags, &c.                       }  royal sappers and
  50 rifles, each with a wool-bag             }  miners.

  60 rifles, carrying ladders                 } Under Lieut. Graves,
  60 seamen ditto                             } R.E.

 400 storming party                             Under Capt. Jesse, R.E.

 800 supports

   2 brigades of sappers for the lodgment     } Under Lieut. Somerville,
                                              } R.E.
 400 working party, carrying 200 pickaxes, 200 shovels, and as many

The other columns were marshalled in similar sequence in the foremost
trenches, but it may be well to add the names and duties of the officers
allotted to the left column, appointed under the command of
Major-General Sir J. Campbell to attack the right flank of the Redan.

  Lieutenant Murray, to lead skirmishers and sappers with sergeant John

  Lieutenant Graham, to lead the parties with wool-bags and ladders.

  Major Bent, to lead the storming party and supports.

  Lieutenant C. G. Gordon, to control the working party with two
    brigades of sappers.

Obedient to the signal, about half-past three o’clock in the morning the
right column debouched from the quarries, the skirmishers opening out in
good order and advancing steadily on the Redan. The spaces between the
files exposed the sappers to a heavy fire, but they pressed forward led
by Lieutenant Fisher, preserving their narrow rank compactly. Bravely
moved the rest of the column headed by Lieutenant Graves, but the weight
borne by the ladder parties did not admit of a dashing approach; the
more so, as the seamen and rifles had to cross with their burdens, two
old Russian trenches before they could lay hold of the skirts of the
wool-bag party. Lieutenant Fisher, nevertheless, strode on at a
confident pace, not too hurried, his sappers at his side, under a shower
of grape and musketry; and on gaining the abattis, halted to receive the
strength of the ladder party, as well as the stormers and supports.
Standing longer inactive than he expected, swept by grape from the
Redan, Lieutenant Fisher’s party threw themselves down to await the
moment when the column could rush forward, unclogged, to the assault.
Interrupted by ditches, the riflemen and sailors bearing the ladders
could only scramble forward. At every step they were smitten by unerring
volleys and with them fell the ladders. All this time Lieutenant Fisher
maintained his post with invincible command. To stand against a storm of
fire with a bared breast was not an easy virtue, yet his men wavered
not. Looking back with some anxiety to watch through the dim grey light
the progress of the seamen and rifles, he could not see a single ladder.
Minutes past and no help reached him; his men were falling fast and his
straits increasing. Emboldened by the apparent hesitation which had held
back the column, the enemy sprang upon their parapets and fired upon the
little force which had the temerity to reach the barricade. Crouched as
the men were under the boughs of the abattis and doubled up in
shell-holes, they were somewhat saved from its fierceness, but every
moment augmented the chances of their not returning. Cool and
lion-hearted, the young engineer was everywhere among his parties
commending their bravery and endurance; and sergeant Landrey, nobly
assisting his officer, encouraged by his conspicuous example and his
cheers the dislocated files of the forlorn hope. Still the ladders were
unseen; the stormers were yet in rear, and, at length, as no means for
scaling the ramparts were with the advance and its numbers were reduced
to a handful, Lieutenant Fisher, seeing no officer present senior to
himself, reluctantly, but wisely, retreated with his men to the

A beautiful instance of valiant humanity occurred in the retreat. Seeing
a wounded officer lying near the abattis with a shattered leg,
Lieutenant Fisher, assisted by a sailor, carried him some distance.
Already fatigued by his exertions at the storming, he was soon
exhausted, and private Jesse Head, pushing out from a piece of broken
ground in which he had sheltered himself, took charge of the helpless
grenadier and bore him into the trenches. So grateful was the officer
for the devotion shown to him, that he offered the gold watch he wore to
private Head, who, with the generous feeling of a chivalric soldier,
refused the gift. The officer was shot through the leg below the knee.
He was a very tall fine-looking man, belonging to a grenadier company
of, it is believed, the 33rd or 34th regiment.

Meanwhile, the left column, under the command of Sir John Campbell,
moved out of the trenches to attack the right flank of the Redan. The
skirmishers went boldly forward followed by Lieutenant Murray of the
engineers, leading the sappers and carpenters with destroying tools and
powder-bags. All edged well to the left taking a sort of cart-track
winding along the broken crest of the Woronzoff ravine. Close upon them
were the ladders under Lieutenant Graham, who had in his party two able
leaders, corporal Paul and private Perie. The sappers with this column
belonged to the left attack and were less acquainted with the
characteristics of the ground than those on the right. “Who of the
sappers here know anything of the ground?” asked Lieutenant Graham. “I
do, sir,” cried Perie, with an impatience that evidenced his desire for
selection, “I know every inch of it;” and he was accordingly appointed
to head the sailors with the ladders. The hindmost spur of the hill was
reached when tremendous peals of musketry and grape from the Redan,
flanks, and creek batteries, made the skirmishers falter. Here they
halted, lying down for a few minutes to spring onwards when the fire
should lessen. Lieutenant Murray early fell severely wounded. Though
agonising with pain he declined, after sergeant Coppin and private Mole
had bound up his shattered arm, to be borne away by his men, and so
alone and unaided he walked in a sinking state to the trench and soon
after expired. His place was instantly supplied by Lieutenant Graham.
Tall, commanding, and collected, vigourous in purpose and brave in
danger, he took the direction of the contingents. It was now that
Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden rushed to the front to impart by his presence,
spirit and confidence to the skirmishers. Barely had he approved of
Lieutenant Graham storming the salient instead of the flank of the Redan
than a grape-shot passed through his thighs and took from the crisis an
engineer, whose valour and exploits blazon history. The truly generous
neglect their own safety in the humane wish to administer relief to
those who suffer. Lieutenant Graham first on the spot, raised him from
the ground; and sergeant Coppin with private Ewen of the eighth company,
both of whom more than once had proved their devotion to their officers,
carried the colonel to a sheltered spot under a ledge of rock at the
side of the Woronzoff ravine and there laid him down. Faint as he was
from the loss of blood he would not retain the sergeant; and so
dismissing him to his party, Ewen remained to soothe the colonel by his
attentions, and later in the day to assist four or five sappers in
bearing him from the nook to the camp.

Seeing no chance of an opportunity to make the flank, the skirmishers
rose from the holes into which they had crushed themselves and retreated
to the advanced trenches in the quarries. Some time was spent in filling
up the blanks in the ladder men, who, as soon as the bearers were
paired, were impatient to proceed. Corporal Paul was now strictly
enjoined by Major Bent not to permit the ladder men to move a step
forward unless orders were given for renewing the assault. It was
difficult to fetter the impetuosity of eager men; but corporal Paul, an
imperturbable sapper, displayed so much cool discipline himself, that
gross indications of rashness were immediately restrained the moment his
measured voice was heard among them. Once indeed for the exactness with
which he carried out his orders, he was likely to have been bayoneted by
a brave but inconsiderate comrade. Paul was not the man to flinch from
any attack, or to repel one by a force as irrational as that which
threatened him; and so simply lifting his finger, as if that were
sufficient to ward off the thrust, the exasperated man, sobered by the
corporal’s composure, averted the weapon and both, at the proper moment,
went on with the ladders.

In the same order as before, the stormers again advanced—this time to
scale the salient of the Redan. When the ladders had passed to the front
of the advanced trench, the skirmishers had moved so much to the left,
that the sappers and escalading parties were much exposed. Lieutenant
Graham now halted the sailors and riflemen to allow the skirmishers to
rectify their position, and shelter in degree the sappers, woolsack men
and escalading parties; but the firing on them continued so terrific,
the skirmishers, valiant as they were, could not effect the movement;
and the whole, by order, after standing for ten minutes bared to a
ceaseless cannonade, were withdrawn into the advanced trench. Hopeless
as it was to push on with so small a front, the struggle nevertheless
could not be abandoned save on the gravest grounds; and arrangements
were again made by Lord West, who commanded the storming-party, to essay
the assault. Yet a third time the skirmishers re-formed with a front
increased by a detachment of the 57th regiment led out by one of its
captains, who soon fell. The sappers, too, were drawn up with their
axes, grapnels, and powder-bags, so also were the woolpack men, and the
seamen and riflemen with the ladders. Steadily and firmly they advanced
met by a crashing and annihilating fire. Every step onwards was retarded
by shocks which made the stormers desperate. A few more bounds were
attempted, succeeded by another halt that showed the enterprise was
impossible; and swept back by a continuous roll of musketry and shells
no troops could withstand, the daring men who thrice threw themselves
before the enemy, reeled back into the trenches defeated.

But few of the stormers succeeded in reaching the abattis. Of the
sappers, there were at least four or five who gained it, or nearly so.
Coppin and private Mole, belonging to the party with destroying tools,
made the barricade to the left, while corporal Paul and Perie went
directly to the front. All bent themselves behind knots of rock, or
dropping into shell-holes or hollows, fired away with all the coolness
of riflemen, such ammunition as they could collect from the pouches of
the killed and wounded. When it was evident the day was lost, sergeant
Coppin, directed by Lieutenant Graham, ran to the front to command the
skirmishers to retire. His mien was that of a calm man and a fearless
soldier. He first communicated the orders to the officer in command of
the rifles, and then to the sergeant of the 57th, as the captain who had
led them to the front was killed. Coppin was thus one of the last men to
return to the trenches. Paul and Perie were afterwards awarded
distinctions, which but a minimum of their comrades attained. Besides a
gratuity of ten pounds and a medal for distinguished service, Paul was
promoted to the rank of sergeant and received the Legion of Honour;
while Perie, an unlettered man but a first-class sapper and leader, was
decorated with the military war-medal of France “for valour and
discipline.” Coppin, though it was not his good fortune to obtain a
badge to show his merit, was, by the voice of his comrades, as brave and
ready a sapper as ever toiled in the trenches.

Among the sappers with the right column there were five casualties:—

 Private Thomas McNeil } killed.
    ”    Joseph Barnes }

 Lance-corporal Joseph Maycock, wounded in the head  { Both were struck by
 Private Samuel Spear, wounded in the left knee      { rifle-balls, and died
                                                     { of their wounds.

    ”    Edward Pearson, wounded in the hand.

Private McNeil, when found next day, was under the abattis riddled with
balls. He was a good and an ardent soldier, and his comrades spoke in
high terms of his bravery on all occasions. As already shown, he had his
jaw broken in a strange manner on the 3rd April.

Captain Jesse, who hastened to the front to ascertain the complexion of
affairs, was shot through the head while speaking to Lieutenant Fisher.
Lieutenant Graves was also killed.

Three sappers with the left column were put hors-de-combat:

  Private Robert Eadie—killed by a round shot which went through his
          chest and knocked him to pieces. He was with the Staff at the
          time bearing signal flags.

     ”   John Perie—wounded in right side, by rifle bullet.

     ”   William Preece—wounded slightly.

Two casualties occurred in the column under General Barnard, placed in
position on the right of the Woronzoff road, viz:—

  Private William Rollings—killed by the blow of a shot which rolled
          over a precipice on his neck and broke his spine. He was
          knocked a few yards down the hill, “where,” an observer has
          written, “he sat as if asleep with his face turned up, but he
          was stone dead.”

     ”   Aaron Tickell—wounded severely; leg amputated, and died
          December, 1855.

  Sergeant William Dobbie—wounded in the right shoulder by a spent 32
          lb. shot. He was the sergeant in charge of the sappers in

“I must not conclude,” wrote Lieutenant Fisher, “without bringing under
your notice the very gallant conduct of sergeant Landrey, whose
steadiness in the advance, and exertions in cheering on the men were
most praiseworthy.” Lieutenant-Colonel Tylden, being unable to report on
the operations of Lieutenant Fisher and his sappers, Colonel Gordon
supplied the omission. “The officers of engineers and men,” he wrote,
“attached to this column, performed their duty in a brave and devoted
manner. The non-commissioned officers and men bravely followed their
officers, and were foremost among the assailants. Sergeant Landrey
particularly distinguished himself.”

In awarding high praise to the naval brigade for their noble behaviour
with the ladders, Lieutenant Graham acknowledged “the steady conduct of
the party of sappers under sergeant Coppin of the fourth company,” and
drew attention to the valiant behaviour of private John Perie. Alluding
to the latter at another time, Lieutenant Graham wrote, “he was
invaluable to me on that day, as he followed me everywhere, and was
always ready when I wanted anything done.” His cool determination in
taking a message to Lieutenant Murray in front during the thick of the
fight, and returning with an answer, was one of the instances which
called for Lieutenant Graham’s special commendation. When the assault
was over, a naval officer, seeing a wounded man lying exposed in front,
asked for assistance. With his natural brusqueness, Perie said to
Lieutenant Graham, “I’ll follow you, sir!” All three bounded over the
parapet and brought in the injured man. Had further help of the kind
been needed they would have humanely exercised it. The front fortunately
was clear; and so, anxious to prevent the chance of anything falling
into the hands of the enemy, they threw themselves again over the
parapet, and lugged into the trench some ladders from the open. The
devotion of Perie to his brave leader was the more remarkable, as he had
already been wounded by a rifle-bullet in the side.

Major-General Jones also made this record to the credit of the corps:
“The royal sappers and miners continue to distinguish themselves by
their gallantry and good conduct.”

Under Lieutenant Neville of the engineers and Captain Penn, R.A.,
Sergeant Thomas R. Drew and 30 sappers, with destroying implements and
powder-bags, were detailed to act with Brigadier-General Barnard’s
division, which, having marched across the Woronzoff ravine and halted
under the cliffs, was to move forward and capture the Barrack Battery as
soon as the Redan and Malakoff had been taken; but the utter
discomfiture of the two columns placed this subsidiary attack in the
category of impossibilities. While the assault was still at its highest,
corporal Jenkins obtained permission to go to the front to watch its
desperate phases. He was accompanied by sergeant Drew. Keeping close
under the beetling rocks, which in a measure shielded them from the
gusts of fire that struck the steep and broken sides of the ravine, they
at length reached the left flank of the advance trench, where for a
while they looked at the doubtful strife, and returned to report its
progress. Again they moved to the quarries by the rough unbeaten track
they had previously traversed, guiding Lieutenant Neville and Captain
Penn. A short reconnaissance determined Lieutenant Neville to send
Jenkins with a message to General Barnard. Off he started, and
communicated to the General the information he had been commissioned to
convey. Colonel Waddy of the 50th regiment, who had been appointed to
lead the stormers of General Barnard’s column, expressed a wish to go to
the front to see the aspect of affairs, if any one would show him the
road. “Follow the sapper!” said Jenkins, using the phrase of the
trenches; and Colonel Waddy, glad of the offer, run along under the
brows of the rocks, whither the corporal conducted, and found himself in
less than ten minutes safe in the quarries. A few glances put him in
possession of intelligence he did not expect to learn; the attack was
failing; the scenes he witnessed were untoward and disheartening, but he
still had hope of doing some service to retrieve the fortunes of the
day. Placing himself again under the guidance of the corporal, the rough
route by the hill-side was speedily retraced; and the colonel, boiling
over with desire and anxiety, proposed to lead out the stormers at once
without waiting the accomplishment of those operations which were
considered essential before the secondary attacks should commence. But
the orders for the movement of the column were too explicit and
imperative to admit a deviation without special directions from the
ruling authority, and so Colonel Waddy had not the honour on this great
occasion to “do or die.”

Jenkins now rejoined the officers in the quarries. This was his third
march over that toppling hill-side, almost suffocated with dust and
fatigued with a restless foot, which for six hours and more had been in
active motion. Before this time the fate of the day was irrevocable; the
cannonade had ceased, the stormers had retired, the open was clear, but
a murderous crossfire of musketry still played on our works. Seeing a
wounded man of the 57th regiment struggling in front of the Quarry
batteries, Jenkins and Drew volunteered to bring him in. To this
Lieutenant Neville assented, and in broad daylight they bore him to the
trench, resigning their charge to a party of the 57th in the rear. The
poor fellow had been deeply struck in the right thigh and ankle and was
torn with stones and splinters. A little later they saw other men lying
exposed with bad wounds on the reverse of the advance trenches. With a
broken stretcher, the sergeant and Jenkins carried away one after
another into safe cover. This was a service of supreme risk, and many of
the defeated stormers who filled the trenches, pale with enervation and
panic, possessed nevertheless sufficient self-command to make their
surprise obvious. “Look at those mad sappers!” said they, envying the
courage they feared to exercise; but the humane non-commissioned
officers, heedless of the taunts that assailed them, never slackened
their hand till there was no longer a necessity for their exertions.
Again Jenkins pushed into the ravine by the old track. “A corporal of
sappers came along the hill-side from the direction of the Redan,” wrote
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir James Alexander, 14th regiment.[187] “I asked him
what was the news of the assault from the trenches of the right attack?
He said, ‘Bad news,’ and in a few words he told of the disastrous events
of the morning.” The corporal alluded to was Jenkins. Seeing a comrade,
private Rollings, killed and huddled up on the slope with a broken neck,
he begged Lieutenant Neville’s sanction to bear him away, as no sapper
had yet been buried in the trenches. His request being granted, he, with
the help of three volunteers, carried the dead sapper on a
scaling-ladder across the ravine to the first parallel of the left
attack, from whence he was removed to camp and honoured with a soldier’s

Equally conspicuous was private George Ramsey in his endeavours to
succour the wounded. He too belonged to Lieutenant Neville’s party, and
crept along under the rocks till he made the open. It was a wonder with
so hot a fire of musketry that he escaped. He first removed a wounded
sailor who had pushed himself into a rifle-pit; and afterwards, with the
assistance of Lieutenant Hallowes of the royal navy, then mate of the
‘Wasp’ steam-sloop, and a few men, he bore away on a scaling-ladder
softened with wool taken from the sacks of the stormers, a brave
rifleman who was struck down with severe wounds near the abattis.

The cool bravery of these three sappers was brought to the notice of
Major-General Jones by Lieutenant Neville, who recommended them for
distinguished medals. They “succeeded under a very heavy fire,” he
reported, “in rescuing the bodies of several wounded men of the 57th
regiment lying out in front of the Redan.”

The column under Brigadier-General Eyre was directed to push down the
picket-house ravine past the cemetery into the rear of the Barrack
Battery, and there co-operate with General Barnard in its capture. This
column bore on with an irresistible front into the grounds near the
graveyard, but were locked in among some houses of the suburb, beyond
which it would have been more than madness to proceed. As it was, they
held the position until evening under a harassing fire, and retreated
with the loss of no less than 31 officers killed and wounded, as also
the Brigadier struck in the head.

Of second-corporal William Baker, third company, who went forward with
this column, a more than passing notice may be permitted. He was on duty
in the third parallel, and left it without orders, declaring at all
hazards he would that day enter the town. But how brittle is human
intention! Armed with his carbine and a full pouch of ammunition, he
joined the 38th regiment; and losing sight of the fact that he was not
in charge of a working party in the saps, cheered on the men with the
inspiriting cry, “Now, my boys, follow the sapper!” In the excitement of
the moment he caught up the expression, because it had become a settled
by-word of the trenches. On went poor Baker, heedless of those who
followed, and he was killed in the ravine beyond the grave-yard.
Disembowelled, wounded in the breast, and with a broken leg, he lay for
a time in great pain. He was seen to wave his hand as if entreating
assistance, but so thick was the firing up the valley from the
crow’s-nest and garden batteries, none dared to pass into it to help the
corporal in his last agonies.

The casualties in the English troops this day were very great. Both
officers who led the columns on the Redan were killed. In addition to
the engineer officers already named, Major-General Jones was wounded in
the head by a grape-shot; and his Brigade-Major, Captain Bourchier,
received a slight contusion in the arm. The French, in their imposing
but unavailing attacks upon the Malakoff, lost 2 generals, 37 officers,
and 1544 men killed, wounded, and missing; while the Russians in their
sturdy defence, achieved a victory at a sacrifice which counted
thousands of killed and wounded. No less than 797 fell dead in the
various works, and 4979 were wounded.

It was a terrific struggle and a memorable failure. Already weakened by
disease, Lord Raglan, ill able to bear the defeat, survived it only a
few days. A warrior, trained under the Duke of Wellington, possessing in
the highest degree habits of calmness, patience, and controlling
perseverance, he was the fittest general in the English army at the time
to bear the responsibility of a great and critical command; and the
distinguished talent and bravery with which he conducted it, gaining
three brilliant battles and sustaining a violent siege for seven months
with only one drawback—that which cost him his noble life—his career as
a commander-in-chief in a great war, will, in after time, meet the
honourable reward it merits from impartial history.

General Simpson, the chief officer of his lordship’s staff, succeeded to
the command.


Footnote 185:

  Unexceptionable as a sapper and an Ajax in strength and stature, Smale
  was nevertheless a grumbler by nature. This trait in his character was
  well-known to both officers and non-commissioned officers; and as in
  this state he invariably worked the hardest, it became a habit with
  many to endeavour to provoke his indignation. One day Lieutenant
  Graves, who was afterwards killed at the siege, felt it no compromise
  of position—the intercourse between officers and subordinates in war
  being more easy and unrestrained than in peace—to question in a
  jesting manner the usefulness of the second company. This was a
  subject he knew would ruffle Smale’s plume. “Look here,” said he,
  addressing the growler, “I have heard you boasting of the sapper
  qualifications of the second company, but from what I have seen of the
  men belonging to it, I can’t say much in their favour.” “Eugh!”
  mumbled Smale, clutching his pick and shovel, “the second company took
  Bomarsund, and you couldn’t take Sebastopol without it.” So saying he
  walked into an embrasure, and with the coolest activity patched up its
  shattered cheeks. This was the way poor Smale dealt out repartee. His
  retorts were all harmless, but usefully demonstrative.

Footnote 186:

  Borbidge was never sick during the siege. For eight or ten days he was
  at Sinope collecting timber for huts. With this exception he was never
  from the front. But few sappers were oftener on duty than he, for his
  good health and usefulness passed him into the trenches seldom less
  than six times a week. It is melancholy to add, that this fine soldier
  was drowned on the 6th December, 1856, at Rochester, when employed in
  the demolition of the old bridge. The wind was squally, and while
  crossing a plank in a heavy French great coat, a sudden gust carried
  him into the eddying river among the shore piles. He was an excellent
  swimmer, and as soon as he had got his head above water, called
  lustily for a rope; but, before it could be thrown to him, or boats
  could push to his assistance, he was borne away by the current and
  sank about sixty yards from the bridge.

Footnote 187:

  ‘United Service Magazine,’ September 1856, p. 23.

                          18th June-16th July.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

Condition of the batteries; their repair—Alarm of a sortie—Noble
  intention of four comrades to recover the body of corporal
  Baker—Strategic occupation of the rifle redoubt behind the
  cemetery—Interchange of civilities between the Russian and English
  truces—Capture of a memento—Escape of Lieutenant Donnelly and
  lance-corporal Veal—Lodgment in the cemetery—A sortie
  frustrated—Destruction of the rifle redoubt—No. 18 battery, right
  attack—Perils in the saps in advance of the quarries—Progress of the
  works—Re-occupation of the cemetery—The stone double sap; corporal J.
  T. Collins—The two Dromios—Industry of the miners—Progress of the
  works and repairs—Even during a storm—Advance of the chevaux-de-frise
  up the Woronzoff ravine—Sappers annoyed by light balls—Difficulties in
  executing the works—Demolitions in the rear parallels—The
  Picket-house—Approach to the cemetery—Wooden bridge—General officers’
  hut—Abstraction of gabions by the French—Gallantry in pushing the sap
  from left advanced parallel, right attack—Night details—No. 15
  battery, left attack—Obstacles to success in commencing the fifth
  parallel, right attack—Trenches in the cemetery—Progress of the
  works—Conduct and exertions of the engineers and sappers.

By the enemy’s fire, a number of embrasures had been seriously damaged
or demolished, and their early fall was ascribed to the unsubstantial
manner in which they had been built under the superintendence of some
young and inexperienced sappers fresh from England. The works which bore
the brunt of the fight were the 21-gun battery and Nos. 13, 14, and 17
on the right attack. The first had ten embrasures in ruins, while the
remaining batteries scarcely retained a vestige of resemblance to their
original construction. At night there were 20 sappers on the right, and
22 on the left, assisted respectively by working parties of 100 and 273
men. Many of the damaged embrasures were rebuilt before morning; a
passage was widened round the traverse in Egerton’s pit for the passage
of guns, and a number of gabions which had been thrown down or fractured
during the bombardment were replaced in the zig-zags leading to the
quarries, and in the saps issuing from them. The platforms which had
been stoutly laid resisted with firmness the violence to which they had
been subjected, and the magazines withstood an exasperated cannonade
with remarkable success. Several scaling ladders which had fallen with
their intrepid bearers in the unavailing assault, and many of the
abandoned woolsacks were removed; and it was due to the endeavours of a
few spirited volunteers, that about twenty-five men, found on the field
disabled by frightful wounds, were carried to the trenches.

At midnight there was an alarm of a sortie among the French in front of
the Mamelon, which rapidly spread to the quarries. A brisk play of
projectiles took place on both sides, in which the men in the rear
trenches heartily joined. Without a real object to deserve such
warmth—for the Russians had not left their works—they necessarily fired
at random, and some of the workmen in the foremost trenches were wounded
from our own missiles.

A wounded sergeant of the 3rd division had crept into the lines next
day, and reported that a corporal of sappers was still alive in the
garden. Four of his comrades—corporals William Donald, John Medway,
Samuel Varren, and Robert J. Fitzgerald, all of the third company—with a
nobleness of feeling that did them infinite credit, agreed, though not
on duty, to go out and bring him to camp. Accordingly they pushed into
the trench in front of the caves, and seeing, by the aid of an opera
lorgnette, that Baker was motionless, they were desired by Lieut.
Donnelly to defer the attempt, as a truce would shortly take place,
which would enable them to recover the corporal without peril or

Major-General Eyre wanting support, was compelled to leave the cemetery
he had gallantly taken on the 18th. Conceiving that circumstances
favoured a bloodless appropriation of the rifle-pits near the cemetery,
Lieutenant Donnelly secured the services of these four men to accompany
him; and while he collected twenty volunteers from the 20th regiment,
private Fitzgerald was sent away to get ten riflemen. Communicating his
orders to the officer commanding the covering party of the rifle
brigade, the number of men were soon made up; but before Fitzgerald
arrived with the detachment, Lieutenant Donnelly had gone with his party
from the left of No. 11 battery down the ravine to the garden, where, as
the firing was hot, he and the volunteers were obliged to lie among the
grass and fruit trees till a momentary lull gave them an opportunity of
moving cautiously to some suburban houses, among which they dodged, and
then crept on all-fours to the wall of the cemetery, where they
concealed themselves. Meanwhile Fitzgerald leading the riflemen, started
from one of the boyaux behind No. 7 battery, and dashing down the hill
under a close fire—for all were exposed—they reached the garden wall
nearest to our trenches. It was some five or six feet high, built of dry
rubble stone, behind which, as they were blown by their fleetness, they
halted to take breath. Relieved by a brief stay, Fitzgerald, the first
to spring over the wall, was followed by the rifles, like bloodhounds in
full chase; and redoubling their speed, raced onwards under an incessant
rattle of musketry, stopping not till they had joined Lieutenant
Donnelly at the cemetery wall.

Another move was now made to the head of the ravine, where Lieutenant
Donnelly placed four men in the first pit, and pushed on to a more
commanding pit on a green knoll; but, unable to occupy it, he
distributed his volunteers, for safety, among some trees and old walls
in the neighbourhood. While these dispositions were being enacted a
truce was agreed upon, which turned the young officer loose on the
little Mamelon, around which he placed his detachment as sentries. The
Russians regarding the pits as in our possession, did not ascend the
mound, but an officer, disinclined to yield the spot, passed the
sentries; and after scrutinizing the locality with speculative
curiosity, returned to his men. The four sappers then went in quest of
Baker. When found, he was dead, and had been so for some hours. He was,
therefore, borne away to camp.[188]

At last the melancholy duty of giving a rough and unceremonious
sepulture to the many dead was accomplished, and Lieutenant Donnelly
descending the mound, moved to the nearest rifle-pit, as did also
lance-corporal James Veal, who bore the white flag. Whilst standing near
the pit, shrouded by the sacred truce, two rifle shots, and shortly
after, a score or two of Miniés were aimed at them. This angry attack
was no doubt occasioned by the report of the officer who forced the
sentries. It was useless now to wave the banner to seek protection under
colour of the truce, and as little hope for their lives was left them,
they depended upon the tact they could exercise to effect their escape.
Lieutenant Donnelly jumped over the parapet, and as he ran, a constant
fire, which would have appalled many an older head, neither made him
falter nor stay his course; and he reached the trenches, as if an egis
had shielded him, without a stroke. Veal remained in the pit, assailed
by an incessant shower of grape and Miniés, shot and shell, which made
gaps in the screen that covered him. There he stood till the darkness
fell; when stealing unperceived from the danger he had for so many hours
outlived, he scrambled ahead as best he could, and picking his way
through the suburbs and gardens, hastened up the hill-side to the 5-gun
battery in the first parallel, with the same scathless fortune as his

This strategic episode opened up new advantages which were instantly
turned to account by the besiegers. Strong parties were sent into the
cemetery grounds to extend the lodgment as far as the vineyard wall. A
communication was likewise opened to it, in part, from the fourth
parallel. Near the vineyard, however, the Russians burnt down some
houses, which enabled them to see into the position and worry the
workmen. In the night of the 19th, corporal Lockwood had with him a
party deputed to a portion of the duty. From the left of No. 7 battery,
which overhung the ravine in rear of the caves, he marched along the
side of the hill, and, diving into the valley, entered the cemetery
through a door-way in the stone boundary wall. His men threw up a
parapet from the wall to some rifle-pits; another party under corporal
William Donald, continued the trench from the pits, which afterwards
became the left portion of the fifth parallel; and a third party under
corporal George H. Collins, worked from the fourth parallel down the
hill to meet the trench opened by corporal Donald. These three parties
were superintended by sergeant Coppin. The firing on the cemetery and
the new trenches was fierce and constant; grape and shells fell in
incessant showers; and in corporal Lockwood’s party alone, no less than
fourteen men were killed and wounded before day-break. In the face of so
much hostile activity, with sheets of flames from the burning village
lighting up the work, it was not an easy matter to labour, but yet the
sappers and linesmen persevered for a time in placing and filling no
less than eighty gabions. At last the working party, among whom so many
casualties had occurred, decamped, leaving their tools behind them,
which were carried away by the sappers, who returned twice to the deadly
trenches to complete the removal of the stores and the muskets of the
killed and wounded.

For a few nights the work continued under circumstances of great peril.
Flights of bullets were levelled at the workmen from musketeers, who,
having crept up among the smouldering houses in the vineyard, and
sheltered themselves in unseen positions, calculated too truly—from
their previous occupation of the place and their foresight—where the
besiegers would be appointed to toil. In the night of the 21st it was
hardly possible, except at a prodigal loss, to employ more than twenty
men and three choice sappers in the lodgment. Covered by a party from
the 4th foot under the command of Captain Dowbiggen, who had judiciously
posted his guard to make the most of any sudden attack, the workmen
repaired the breaches in the trench, and filled as many gabions as it
was found practicable to stake. The linesmen and sappers were directed
by Lieutenant C. G. Gordon of the engineers. A body of Russians advanced
with a cheer towards the cemetery from the vineyard and threatened by
their strength to annihilate the little party; but their fire having
been returned with more warmth by the guard than was anticipated, the
Russians, doubtlessly possessing a delusive notion that the cemetery was
held by a powerful force, retired without personally contesting an
occupation which would have ended to their credit. That the gallant
bearing of the party had deceived the enemy is almost proved by the fury
with which it was plied. During the whole night four mortars played on
them from the garden batteries; and frequent shots and grape raked them
from the Creek and Barrack batteries causing among the steadfast
sentries and the industrious sappers and workmen about twenty-two

It behoved the engineers to proceed with caution in so fatal a spot, and
if they could not readily adapt the cemetery to their own purpose, to
make it inoperative to the enemy. At the time, the sacrifice of life in
working it was more than the advantage of its retention; and it was,
therefore, determined to destroy the position and evacuate it. Quietly
and quickly were the entrances from the Russian works into the pits
filled up, and other depredations committed to nullify communication
with the cemetery and little Mamelon behind. In the night of the 22nd,
in order to extend the demolition, five sappers under Lieutenant Neville
of the engineers, crept into the rifle redoubt above the cemetery with
destroying implements. It was a covered loop-holed ambuscade made up of
old doors and window-shutters. No time was lost, for the duty was one of
imminent risk. Mounting the work, the sappers threw down about
thirty-five feet of the splinter proofing, and, hurling it into the
ditch, concealed it from observation by a covering of earth. So hard and
zealously did the sappers work under a heavy fire of grape and shells,
that their names were recorded for the notice of Lord Raglan.
Second-corporal George Henry Collins, and privates David Muir, William
Goddard, John Ford, and William Eddy, were the men engaged in this
intrepid demolition.

The operation was repeated the next night by four sappers under
second-corporal Trimble, who worked for four hours filling up the old
Russian trenches, while a rattling musketry, intermingled with crashing
projectiles, scarcely checked the vigour of their exertions. Though not
wholly destroyed, the ambuscade was abandoned, marked only by one
trifling wound among the men and the breaking of a shovel helve in the
hand of the industrious man who was using it. When the night of the 25th
had well advanced, Captain Belson, unaware that the screen had been
relinquished, told off a working party to augment the ruins; but finding
it unoccupied by a guard, he distributed his men to the general
trenches, and went on with corporal Stredwick and a few cool sappers to
complete what human energy had not time as yet to accomplish. There was
no cover, except what the few standing grave-stones offered, and even
this was questionable from the many sharp-edged fragments which, chipped
from the slabs at every stroke of shot or shell, fell among the party. A
heavy fusillade from sharpshooters in the screens made the situation of
the sappers very critical. They worked, nevertheless, with a manliness
that gave a noble aspect to labour; parapets were thrown down, ditches
filled in, and timbers dislocated; but at length, as a sortie was
apprehended—of which there were unmistakeable indications, for the enemy
was seen moving up in broken bodies to the little Mamelon—the sappers
were withdrawn by Captain Belson from the enclosure without even a scar
to tell of their endurance and danger. It was a lucky escape, for a few
minutes after, the Russians were in the pit.

A new battery—No. 18—for six heavy guns was reared under many
difficulties, to rake the middle ravine and throw its metal into the
Redan and the Malakoff. It was built on the swell of a trench a little
in advance of a group of zig-zags and lateral excavations issuing from
the second parallel of the right attack. The work was commenced on the
23rd June, and does not appear to have been wholly completed till the
7th July. Strong parties worked in it at each relief, and when finished,
its revetments, standing up in the most solid and approved forms,
resisted with some tenacity the crashing cannonade brought to bear upon

In the advance trench on the right of the quarries, the sappers, for
three or four nights, had to watch with more than usual solicitude in
making way against the perils which threatened them. It was good work to
place as few as twenty-six gabions in this exposed situation, for the
moon shining brightly in the heavens discovered to the enemy the true
character of the progress effected; and being within about 300 yards of
the Russian batteries, it needed that the men entrusted with the
operation should be as collected and brave, as resolute and dexterous.
As the moon rose with its meek but tell-tale face, the four sappers were
obliged to quit the head of the sap and retire where the cover was
thick, to protect them from the projectiles, which frequently overturned
the baskets; but when the luminary was dimmed by a passing cloud, which
made the gabionade appear indistinct, the sappers rushed forward, reset
the overturned gabions, and staked as many more as the duration of the
obscurity permitted. In this way was completed a line of initial
revetment extending to about 45 feet. No pickaxe could be used or
blasting resorted to in the vicinity of the sap. The gabions were,
therefore, filled by fits and starts with earth gathered at a distance,
brought to the work by thirty linesmen.

On a subsequent night the sky was almost cloudless, and the moon gleamed
with so much clearness, that the danger of working the sap was as great
as if conducted at noon-day. There were four sappers in the advance and
fifty of a working party. When only a gauzy cloud moved between them and
the moon, the former, bounding as from a lair, leaped a-head with the
gabions and employed the transient intervals in giving them a place.
Their exertions were carried on in paroxysms, and a night’s vigilance
and ardour only counted the lodgment of nine gabions! So fearful was the
risk of achieving even this trivial progress, that none but sappers
could be confidently allotted to it. The line was, nevertheless,
beneficially tasked in strengthening the cover of less exposed works.

Activity was the order of the trenches. Proud instalments of progress in
every direction showed how well the men toiled, and how expeditiously
they converted the enemy’s formations into terrible constructions for
the future siege. On the right, the quarries, far in advance, were
turned into formidable defences. They were strong by nature but vastly
improved by art. The high gabions and flour barrels which faced the
enemy’s revetments, were made to serve similar purposes in the
besiegers’ works. Those quarries became the park for the front, in which
was erected the engineer hut—scarcely bullet-proof—from whence orders
were dispersed with cool despatch by the officers charged with the
execution of the several works. From thence issued the fourth
parallel—partly a Russian entrenchment—which cut up the hill and
extended as far as the middle ravine; while approaches shot out daringly
in front from the left of the old ambuscade in hazardous contiguity to
the Russian lines and pits. Against the incessant firing of
clear-sighted sharpshooters it was difficult to stand and persevere; yet
on went the sap, sneaking stealthily forward like a huge snake, till
branching off on either hand, it stretched its length in another
parallel in front of the Redan. Three boyaux, cut on the crest of the
hill in advance of the quarries, led to the fifth parallel; which,
pushed along by energetic men, joined an abandoned Russian trench that
breasted the left flank of the Redan, and run along ridge and glen to
the famed Mamelon. Old magazines evincing signs of decay were revived,
new ones constructed, and traverses, platforms, and the unending
appurtenances of a gigantic siege, were made, repaired, or reformed.
Instances of instability in the batteries had occurred, which caused the
embrasures, &c., to be rebuilt by experienced hands. The 21-gun battery
had past its day as a depôt. It was no longer the heart of the system,
communicating life by its supplies to the arteries of the hills.
Stupendous as it was, it lost everything but vitality, and the
importance it had once acquired was now possessed by the quarries.

The weather had settled with intolerable heat, and a blazing sun beaming
in a sky of unbroken blue, bronzed the lean faces of the workmen, and,
sweating their spare frames, affected the stamina of all. A thunderstorm
interposing, cooled the air and moistened the rock. It was an auspicious
visitation, for it lessened the oppression and parching to which the
workmen were subjected. The rain fell in torrents, and gushing down the
ravines in floods, tumbled over balls, fragments of shells, and clods
like so many cascades. Young trenches were inundated and older ones in
some places covered with water ankle deep. Fears were entertained for
the stability of the works and the efficiency of the drains, but when
the tempest had ceased, so little was the damage done to the batteries
that the necessary repairs were executed in a few hours. The water
channels, on the contrary, were much impaired and became one of the
chief difficulties in conducting the siege. At this period the number of
the corps available for trench duty was 351 only. The sick present were
110 and those at Scutari, &c., were 51. The force detached to different
places to carry out the multifarious services for which sappers were
constantly demanded was 160. The total strength in the Crimea and in
Turkey, as these details show, was 672 of all ranks.

On the left attack the Mamelon Vert above the Cemetery having been taken
by the French, the post in the graveyard which had been abandoned was
reoccupied in the night of the 27th by a British picquet to protect the
right of the allies. The works in it were speedily turned and traverses
constructed to ward off the firing from the Flagstaff batteries; while
the enemy, confined within the main line of his defences, scarcely dared
pit a rifleman beyond the chain. A brigade of sappers followed by a
working party descended the side of the ravine warily pushing on gabion
after gabion, and then trenching along its bottom and driving through
rocks and unsheltered ground, at length reached a wall through which a
breach being quickly made, on went the trench in the direction of a lone
house in the valley, and in time was extended by blasting to the

By the 27th of June, the covered-way, termed by the sappers the “stone
double sap,” to protect the two large caves or “ovens” where a strong
day picquet was posted, was completed. Like a terrace it run along the
slope of the picket-house ravine among steep and jutting rocks, for
about 300 feet, and was hollowed, every inch of it, by mining. Its face
was between three and four feet high of solid rock, and above was placed
a revetment of gabions, powder-cases and bread-bags filled and backed by
fragments of stone blown up in the blasts and macadamized. Sand-bags
were also used, and earth brought from the rear was shovelled among the
stones to make the mass compact. To protect the trench from enfilade,
six traverses of rock were formed as the work proceeded; but a bold one,
seven feet in altitude, facing the mouth of the first cave, pushed
across the trench for 22 feet, and possessed a breadth adapted to the
object it was intended to serve. A curved continuation of the trench,
stretching up the hill for 100 feet, rounded the second cave, whose
enlarged mouth opening on the Russian batteries required strong cover to
shield the chamber from the enemy’s fire. A parapet was therefore risen
like a butt, some 16 feet broad at the crown, which stood well against
grape and shot and averted dangers it seemed incapable of meeting. The
revetment started from a foundation of rock built up to the necessary
height with sand-bags. Subsequently it was thickened with earth and
stones six feet broad, and faced inwardly by a row of large beef barrels
crammed with rock and clay and crested by sand-bags. The caves
themselves were connected by a cutting effected by four hard-working
sappers under lance-corporal Simon Williams. Two cut from one cave, two
from the other, descending on either side into easy soil to avoid the
rock. Where the latter occurred, it was removed by points and hammers.
The passage, about 26 feet through, was five feet six inches high and
three feet three inches wide, and was completed in ten hours. A free
communication was thus open from one to the other without the necessity
of passing into the trench. Avenues were opened from the covered-way to
the rear, and forward by a long arm, which, joined to a succession of
saps like so many prodigious limbs or joints, skirted the ridge
overlooking the ravine, and then connected with the fourth parallel. The
approach from the caves to the communication leading to the parallel was
by a natural opening in the surface of the hill, widened into a man-hole
by the jumper and mining. At its base there were five or six stairs hewn
out of the rock, on which was super-added an oaken ladder slanting to
the top of the shaft; the entrance to which was screened by a
semicircular revetment of beef barrels loaded with stones. This
covered-way was of great importance, extremely difficult of execution,
and as hazardous as laborious in working it. When finished, it was so
perfect a cover, that the picquet quartered in it sustained a daily fire
with impunity. Corporal Joseph T. Collins under Major Bent, was its
plodding and steadfast overseer. He had with him six picked sappers and
three miners of the 68th regiment, who were specially allotted to the
task. More than three months were spent in its accomplishment, during
which, and the forming of the correlative communications, corporal
Collins was daily in the trenches. In that time many a bullet whizzed
near him, and many a shell burst, splintering the rock and tearing down
the barrels and sand-bags in his front and rear, but he neither dropped
his head nor slackened his hand. Ardent, cool, and efficient, his
example and exertions were of undisguised advantage in the prosecution
of the sap, and his resolution to be compassed by no obstacle had the
effect of establishing among his comrades a spirit to persevere and
succeed. Once only was he struck while driving the sap. A blast went off
unexpectedly, setting a shower of stones in motion, one of which hit him
above the eye, and another, of crushing size and weight, hurtled past
his breast. At last he was overtaken by a serious wound. On the 2nd of
July he was passing through No. 14 battery left attack, when a rifle
bullet pierced his thigh and took him from the trenches. Three months,
save one day, 18th June, when he was granted the luxury of a little
extra repose, he was daily under a fire of varying fierceness, and for
his intrepid conduct in the “stone double sap,” coupled with other
conspicuous acts of skill and fearlessness, he received two steps of
promotion, was granted a gratuity of five pounds, decorated with a
“distinguished service” medal, and also with the star of the French
Legion of Honour.[189]

Hourly the assailants encroached on the area which separated them from
the besieged, beset in their industry by strange and incessant
difficulties. Almost within hail of the Russians, the miners day and
night carried out their tedious labours. As many as forty sappers were
frequently thus employed in the advanced parallels and boyaux. A number
of the line, between 80 and 100—practical quarrymen—afterwards joined
them, who, directed by experienced corporals of the corps, worked with
unwearied exertion. In sets of threes they carried out the operations,
one turning the jumper while the others struck it blow for blow as in a
smithy with hammers of about seven pounds’ weight. The constant clashing
of these heavy tools, which could even be heard at the camp, made the
lines as alive with din and rattle as an arsenal, and brought on the
miners a fire at time so furious, that to see them, amid casualty and
death holding to their employments, was a scene not to be surpassed by
any spectacle of endurance in the trenches. Excavations cut by the
pickaxe or blown into trenches by blasting, completed, so far, a series
of communications which, like so many ligatures, tied together the
several works in front and rear. Elaborate with entrenchments and
batteries, the ground with its mammoth parallels, subordinate approaches
and passages, _places d’armes_, rifle pits and screens, appeared like a
vast labyrinth puzzling to the last degree; but to provide against
chances of miscarriage, the engineers and sappers, forming a corps of
guides, so led the workmen by night and by day, that few parties failed
to reach the sites where they were appointed to toil. Yet with all this
duty and peril, only two sappers were wounded between the 19th and 30th
June. These were sergeant Philip Morant severely in the right cheek, the
ball passing through his nose and escaping from the other cheek; and
corporal James Douglas slightly in the head. The former who was the
sergeant of the trenches on the right attack was working in the quarries
when struck; the latter had just told off a brigade of sappers and 200
of the line to the works.

July found the siege a fixed employment, increasing in magnitude and
approaching nearer to the Russian batteries. On the 1st, there were 24
sappers on the right and 57 on the left blasting in the fourth parallel,
as also in No. 15 battery and the reserve ammunition magazine. With
these they carried out various services in connection with batteries 13,
14, and 15, situated on the third parallel, which, from their
prominence, shared largely in the hostile attention of the Russians.
Their parapets which had been riven and loosened by the cannonade and
washed down by the rain, were raised and strengthened; and their cheeks
insufficiently sloped when originally built, were taken down and
reconstructed; terrepleins were also formed in them and new magazines
reared, with passages cut round the sites; while a strong body of miners
improved the old road communication from No. 5 battery in the first
parallel to No. 9—the left end battery—of the second parallel. On the
right, Nos. 14 and 18 batteries had large parties appointed to them. The
latter, a new formation, had no less than 160 men shovelling earth on
the parapet, and eight sappers fixed the frames and splinter-proofs to
its magazines. No. 14, occupying nearly a central position in the second
parallel, had two of its embrasures cut and formed by the sappers.
Others were widening approaches and communications, draining the second
parallel, making a rifle pit in front of it, constructing sea-service
mortar platforms on left of the 21-gun battery, repairing the parapet in
the left communication to No. 18 battery, and removing revetting stores
from No. 6 battery in the first parallel to the new works in front. The
working parties consisted of 600 men; and though shelled with some
briskness during portions of the day, all left the trenches unharmed.

Next day at dawn, 56 sappers, chiefly miners and carpenters, were sent
into the foremost trenches on the left to blast the rock and lay
platforms in the new batteries. They were unassisted by the line
workmen, for a drenching rain confined them to camp. As from waterspouts
the torrent fell, choking up the channels, inundating the works, and
beating down some of the more fragile batteries. In such weather it was
out of the question to continue the mining; but every man though wet and
smoking with heat, exerted himself in clearing the standing water from
the different formations. On the right attack there were 310 men in the
trenches during the storm with 28 sappers under Captain De Moleyns. The
second relief, at 3 o’clock, gave 200 men with 20 sappers, while the
numbers furnished for the left attack were 400 under Major Chapman,
assistant engineer.

In the following night 800 men, guided by 24 sappers, were sent into the
right attack, and 150 of the infantry and 25 sappers into the left. The
chevaux-de-frise in the Woronzoff ravine, which did good service in
checking the advance of the enemy’s riflemen, was now moved from its
original position to one in line with the memorable quarries, so that
the rear works were not likely to be attacked by Russian columns
stealing up the valley. A banquette was also made behind the iron
barricade for a row of sharpshooters to pick off the artillerymen
serving the Russian guns. The firing on various parts of the works was
heavy through the night, and bouquets of shells were discharged with no
better effect than slightly wounding three or four men, one of whom was
private Thomas Luscombe.

On the 4th at night, four sappers and fifty men in the right portion of
the trench in front of the quarries, pushed the sap to the right and
widened and deepened the passage that led to it. Two light balls sent
among them fell so near, one in front the other in rear, that, enclosed
for nearly a quarter of an hour within a blaze, they were compelled to
bend under the low parapet to save themselves from the effects of a
furious shelling. Relays of grape succeeded, intermingled with Miniés,
all striking the work but none injuring the workmen. Stout as was the
opposition no less than twelve gabions were fixed by the sappers, and
more would have followed, but the moon, appearing with a steady light
uneffaced by driving clouds, caused the party to be withdrawn from the

As cover could not be procured with sufficient expedition in the saps,
earth was brought in baskets from a distance to make screens for the
miners whilst blasting the rock. Excessive was the labour necessary to
form the foremost trenches, and the perils attending the exertions of
the miners, who made head against extraordinary difficulties, were only
mitigated by wiles which experience and vigilance had taught them to
employ. It was a subject of astonishment how the rock—that giant
obstacle which appeared in every trench—could, in the face of a keen
enemy, be thrown up and worked into solid mounds of parapet. A passage
was cut that night in a novel manner with as much design and
self-possession as on an English railway. One party descended the hill,
the other forced up from the valley; and though the labourers
encountered no end of trials from the obtrusion of rock, they effected a
junction, building as they proceeded, a parapet two feet six inches in
height. The miners were brawny fellows—each, in truth, a Hercules.
Nothing overmatched their strength and industry; every foot driven in
advance was full of interest; and in a few nights more, an uninterrupted
communication of 250 yards with sufficient cover was completed from the
left of the round hill parallel into the sombre graveyard. This parallel
was a wonderful work. Its most advanced point was a place of arms. From
its form and strength it was called by the sappers “the double elbow.”
Jealous of the gradual development of our colossal system of saps and
batteries, the enemy poured streams of grape and canister into the
advances, causing many casualties. Hand balls in groups of forty or
fifty thrown from mortars, were added to the roll of deadly agencies
employed to pick off the miners.

No longer of use, the old engineer hut in the first parallel was pulled
down and the barrels which made it splinter proof, were turned to
account in improving the revetments of Nos. 14 and 16 batteries on the
left attack. The picket-house battery, No. 6 armed with three heavy guns
and three 10-inch mortars, posted on the French side of the ravine, was
also demolished, and its serviceable materials used in the advanced
works. The battery took its name from a deserted residence that stood in
the glen a little below it, and which, from the commencement of the
siege was occupied by a picket. The picket-house, known as such, _par
excellence_, was situated on the crest of the Woronzoff ravine to the
rear of the 21-gun battery. It was first the look-out place of the
generals, and lastly the rendezvous of officers and amateurs of all
countries; but even that interesting quarter yielded to the devastating
necessities of the siege and was razed to the ground by some sappers.
Its rafters, planks, and doors, torn by many a shell, were converted
into platforms and splintering for magazines and huts. By degrees the
walls were removed, chiefly for building hospitals; and fragments of
wood, turned into articles of taste, were retained by the curious as
memorials of the picket-house. Nothing was left of that celebrated
structure, associated with so many exciting reminiscences, but the
crumbled vestiges of its humble stateliness designated by the French “La
ruine des Anglais.”

Corporal Lockwood on the 7th had charge of fifty men and three sappers
forming a parapet with stones in the communication leading from the
fourth parallel to the graveyard. The sappers attended to the building
of the wall and the line handed to them the blocks and fragments. In
time not a stone could be found not even as large as a walnut; and in
order to keep the builders at work, the corporal spread a few of his
party over the hill side in front to collect materiél. In this situation
they were uncovered. Just then a fire-ball dropped among them, and on
came discharges of grape and shells which struck down the corporal
wounding him severely in the right thigh by the splinter of a shell.

About this time the sapper carpenters built a wooden bridge across the
communication from the fourth boyau to No. 14 battery on the left
attack. The battery rose out of the centre of the third parallel, and
the approach stretched obliquely across the hill. This and one or two
other similar constructions were the only instances during the siege of
bridges being thrown under fire. The ramps formed out of the solid rock
were blasted and shaped by six miners. Indeed the entire communication,
about sixty feet, was driven through rock with no little skill.

On the right the sapper carpenters erected a splinter-proof hut for the
general of the trenches in the new zigzag from the left of the second
parallel. The struts and timbers were strong and braced, to resist, as
far as contrivance could ensure safety, the shocks of heavy projectiles.
Its roof was formed of fascines resting on rafters, thickened by three
layers of sand-bags with earth riddled in among them to fill up the
vacuities. The hut was nine feet six inches long by six feet broad and
about seven in height, with a passage into it just ample enough for a
good sized man to enter. There was no royal road to safety; no means of
isolating this interesting quarter from the chances of danger. Sunken as
it was, bringing its roof only a few feet above the level of the trench,
and protected by traverses and parapets, splinters of shells and large
shot were lying in its environs in dismal corroboration of the fact that
the siege was no respecter of persons nor recognised any spot as
entitled to the privilege of escape.

Seeing a collection of gabions idle, some French soldiers of the 20th
and 27th regiments of the line, carried off about a hundred from the
store and broke them up for firewood. Private Calderwood in charge of
them, failing to make his bad French understood, remonstrated with the
depredators by an extravagant display of gesture and grimace. The allies
were humourous and treated the appeal of the irate sapper with more
risibility than was agreeable. Lieutenant Darrah of the engineers
appearing, he spoke of the abstraction to one of their officers, telling
him the gabions were British property; and as if to add weight to his
assertion, pointed out the unarmed soldier who had charge of them.
Without attempting to excuse the appropriation, the French officer
shrugging his shoulders, merely observed, that as the sapper had no
carbine to show the nature of his authority, he could not be regarded as
a sentinel; and so the gabions were borne away to cook French soup!

Next night 2 privates and 50 of the line were deputed to the right
advance of the Gordon attack, who, in the face of light-balls and grape,
staked no less than 79 gabions. Under the circumstances this was a feat
in war. Nevertheless, from the briskness of the fire, there was an
unwillingness to continue the sap, and the private in charge withdrew
the party for a time to the left advanced trench, reporting the
arrangement to Lieutenant Graham, who indisposed to spare the labour of
a moment from the work, repaired himself to the spot. No sooner had he
and the sapper arrived, than a shot bounded before them, and scattering
the stones with great force, wounded Lieutenant Graham so severely that
the trenches for a while were deprived of his services. The fire on the
party in its new position, being still unrelaxed, the line-officer who
commanded felt it his duty to take his men away, telling the sapper left
in charge, that he regarded the place too perilous for line-men to work
in. Inferentially, it was not too dangerous for sappers; but as a
solitary individual could not hope to do much in so exposed a situation,
he was removed by the assistant-engineer, Captain Wolseley, 90th
regiment, to other work in the foremost trenches. Private Bernard Murray
was this night wounded in the right hand, and next day privates James
Mehan in the right ankle and Peter McNulty slightly by rifle bullets.
The last had done good service in repairing an embrasure under fire at
the request of a naval officer; and besides being in brigade orders for
his conduct was given a donation by Lord Raglan.

On the night of the 10th, 18 sappers provided for the Gordon attack were
told off to the following works under Captain Cooke of the engineers and
Major Campbell, 46th, assistant-engineer:—

 Sappers. Men.
    3     200— new trench in front of No. 18 battery; placed and filled
                 143 gabions.
    1      38— building 18 battery.
    1      41— building traverses in 19 battery, and trenching an
                 approach to it.
    1      21— carrying platforms.
    2      50— left advanced trench; placed and filled 14 gabions and
                 improved old part of trench.
    2      80— right advanced trench; placed and filled 42 gabions, and
                 connected the cutting with end of new wall.
    4      60— wall in continuation of right advanced trench; built it up
                 four feet high and two feet six inches thick, grape
    3      90— turning the advanced Russian trench into a parallel, in
                 which considerable progress was made.
    1      20— excavating for small arm ammunition magazine and engineer

The above detail, taken with all its precision from the diary of the
siege, may be regarded as the type of employment and distribution of the
sappers at this era of the struggle.

About this time was finished No. 15 mortar battery in the third
parallel. It was commenced on the 24th June, under the foremanship of
second-corporal James Hill, who since the middle of May had been
employed as one of Major Bent’s permanent day overseers. The way to it,
from No. 14 battery, was driven through rock when occurred a good stiff
clayey soil, upon which the new formation was founded. Wholly built of
earth accessible at the spot, without a single sand-bag to assist its
solidity, it was reckoned to be the boldest construction on the left
attack. Stretching along the trench for 200 feet, with a parapet about
10 feet deep and 26 to 30 broad, it covered an armament of twelve
10-inch mortars, which were fed from three strong magazines and a
shell-room. Free from the annoyance of cross-fires, there were no
traverses in the work; and it was remarkable that during its progress
only three shells pitched into it in day-time. One killed a line-man at
the mouth of a magazine, another burst in the distance, and the third
passed between Major Bent and the corporal. It was near enough to be
alarming, but both were instantly prostrate, and on exploding the
splinters flew high above them. When the battery opened fire, the earth
shook down in various places, especially at the angles; to remedy which
powder-barrels were added to the revetment. No work perhaps throughout
the siege cost less labour in repairs and less casualties than No. 15

On the 14th July was commenced the fifth parallel of the Gordon attack
on most intricate ground. The pioneers were horribly exposed to a
cannonading from the Redan, Garden batteries, and Bastion du Mât. Hours
of dogged labour failed to show an excavation which was worth the
trouble of calculating its dimensions. Earth was collected with as much
care as flour in a famine and brought on men’s shoulders from a distance
to give quality to the cover. Every stone dislodged by the miners,
treasured as if it possessed intrinsic value, was pitched into the
gabion or added to the parapet behind. Upon the tier of gabions forming
the revetment, sand-bags were laid in courses as fast as they could be
delivered by the line. The trials of this foremost work were
incalculable; the placement of every gabion was opposed, and every inch
of progress furnished its obstacles. On one occasion several of the
baskets were thrown down and not a few were broken and rendered useless.
Difficult to labour under such circumstances, most of the working party
were withdrawn; but all the breaches nevertheless were made good before
the morning at a cost of two sappers and six of the line wounded.

Blanched bones buried for years in the Russian cemetery turned up in the
excavations, took their places in the parapets with blocks of rock,
broken tombstones, shattered coffins, and consecrated earth. It was not
a time to care about memories, or removing marks fixed with hallowed
care to point out the sites of favoured remains, but an innate feeling
of reverence for the dead prevented the sappers and workmen, as much as
in them lay, from disturbing the dread repositories of the dead or
defacing the memorials, rude as many of them were, which filled the
graveyard with melancholy records of the departed. This consideration
for the relics of poor humanity did not produce among the workmen any
false sentiment with regard to the living; and on every side powerful
works and engineering stratagems were in operation to weaken the vigour
and hauteur of a brave but insolent enemy.

Ceaseless perseverance drove on the works and sustained valour kept the
men at their posts. One trench after another was added to the vast
net-work of defences, which, crowding on the edges of the hills,
descended the valleys as if pushed down by some capillary law. In this
way the glens were crossed more than twice with saps. New approaches
were thrown out in front like so many antennæ striving to clutch the
enemy’s works. Still the progress was slow, for the oolitic rocks out of
which the hills were formed obtruded everywhere, defying from their
hardness all arts but those of blasting. Rifle-pits on the right were
constructed on the very rim of the hill in front of the fourth parallel,
to which they were connected and each to the other by long zigzags and
passages. One built in a secluded nook or gorge commanded the
chevaux-de-frise which stretched across the Woronzoff road. About this
time the use of hay-band hurdles was resorted to with fair success as
screens to the embrasures, to cover the artillerists at the guns. The
pressure in front for materials caused some of the field-battlements in
the rear to be dismantled, and the stores and armaments to be employed
in the new works, while a few coopers augmented the stock by recovering
the staves of broken casks and rehooping, them with iron.

So well, indeed, were the extensive and complicated requirements of the
siege attended to, that Major-General Jones, a close observer of the
exertions of his force, commended it in these encouraging words on the
16th July. “The officers of engineers and the men of the royal sappers
and miners continue to perform their duties in a very zealous manner.”
None flinched, none evaded his allotted labour; but many, from the
“great heat of the trenches,” and the constant recurrence of a hard and
fatiguing duty, were worn out or laid up and consumed by fevers. Truly
wasting was the season, very light breezes only being astir to mitigate
its oppressiveness. Strong hot winds at times, and heavy thunderstorms
with frightful lightning playing above in angry forks or blazing sheets,
told of its sultriness. Genial showers, however, now and again occurred
to relieve it, which had the effect, in some degree, of refreshing the
men, and giving an inspiriting spur to the flagging energies of
overtasked industry.


Footnote 188:

  A Russian officer who could speak English fluently had charge of a
  searching party to collect the dead. Entering freely into conversation
  with an officer of the 14th foot, he expressed a hope that the day
  would soon come when the belligerents would again be cordial friends.
  Warming with the occasion he asked the officer and his men if they
  were disposed to make any exchanges with him as pledges of the
  interview and probably hereafter of recognition. Corporal R. Jasper
  Fitzgerald of the third company, was specially spoken to by the
  Russian; and feeling in his pockets to meet the wishes of the
  inquirer, mentioned his regret that he had nothing to offer except a
  penny. “Let me see it,” said he, and Fitzgerald at once presented it.
  “Ah!” exclaimed the Russian officer with evident pleasure, “It’s one
  of old George’s! If this is a fair exchange you are welcome to it.”
  And the good-natured officer handed Fitzgerald a handsome silver
  devotional cross. To the British officer he gave a silver snuff-box.

  In the peregrinations Fitzgerald felt it desirable to make to increase
  his acquaintance with the locality, thinking it not improbable he
  might soon have a “job” there, he entered a house near the cemetery,
  and not wishing to quit it without some memento of his visit, nothing
  apparently turned up for acceptance more valuable or less portable
  than a sofa! A burly sailor and he shouldered the huge piece of
  Russian furniture and stumped away with it wonderfully tickled with
  the idea of the fun it would occasion when they reached the trenches;
  but while jogging on, an alarm being given of the termination of the
  truce, the bearers instantly dropped the “family seat” and run for
  their lives. The alarm proved to be a false one, and Fitzgerald and
  the jolly Tar, having like coursers retraced their steps to recover
  the spoil, found that swifter feet than theirs had taken a fancy to
  the prize and vanished with it.

Footnote 189:

  The corporal belonged to Captain Brine’s company. With a warm
  appreciation of military merit, the lady of the Captain presented
  Collins with a miniature legion of honour, in order to impress the
  Queen, when she reviewed three of the Crimean companies at Aldershot,
  with a more adequate notion of his services than would have been
  conveyed to Her Majesty had he only worn the ribbon of a chevalier. At
  that time the French decorations had not been issued to the troops.

  He had a brother with him in the Crimea, so exactly like himself in
  face, figure, and speech, it was perplexing to say which was Joseph
  which George. The old story of the two Dromios, to a certain extent,
  was acted over again in their persons. Both were useful and brave;
  neither more so than the other. Joseph obtained all the honours which
  a gallant soldier could claim and to which he was fully entitled, but
  George seemed to have been totally eclipsed, no one could explain how,
  by his brother. Joseph, indeed, was considered to be George, and
  George the veritable Joseph; and so in this “Comedy of Errors,”
  George, by the misfortune of resemblance to his brother, was lost
  among the undecorated.

  It is almost a marvel to add, that Joseph, though a first corporal,
  wearing orders that none of his rank had obtained, deserted from the
  corps soon after landing in this country from Sebastopol.

                         17th July-25th August.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

Trials in carrying on the works—Fifth parallel, right attack—Detachments
  and statistics—Spirited conduct of corporal Ross—Neglect of
  non-commissioned officers—Trench dress of the line—Shifts of the
  miners to form the parallels and approaches—Siege minutæ—Trenches
  flooded—A sergeant, in the absence of an engineer officer, in charge
  of the lines—Casualties—Sortie by the Russians—Sergeant Docherty
  examines the chevaux-de-frise—Overseers of the miners—The
  carpenters—Renewal of the chevaux-de-frise demolished in the
  sortie—Casualties during a moonlight night—Exertions of sergeant
  Jarvis and party; the sailors—Strange sensation produced by the blow
  of a shell splinter—Resources for field-work purposes—Progress of the
  trenches and batteries—Removal of the right attack sappers to the camp
  of the left attack—They thus escape a subsequent catastrophe—Fifth
  bombardment—Cost of a whiff of tobacco—Activity of the sappers in the
  batteries and works—Anecdote of a new comer visiting the works—No. 17
  battery, left attack—Corporal Jenkins, the master carpenter of the
  left attack—The white-banded cap—Fifth parallel, right attack—Breaking
  ground from it for the last approach to the Redan—Workmanlike industry
  and vigour of corporal Ross in the sap—Corporal William Baker, 7th
  company—Progress in the advanced trenches; sergeant Hale of the
  guards; corporal Stanton—Prolongation of fifth parallel, right
  attack—Effects of wounds.

In the trenches were distributed, on the 17th July, a working party of
550 men superintended by 97 sappers. Of the latter, 73 were on the left
where the mines demanded the skilled employment of men used to blasting.
Several carpenters were detailed to the platforms and magazines, and
others were sprinkled singly to the different works, embrasures and
traverses. The majority were in advance prolonging the parallels and
blowing up the rock. On the right attack, corporal George Luke was
killed. A first-class miner and sapper, he was of signal service in the
trenches, and his steady conduct throughout the siege added to the
credit he had received for his exertions at Bomarsund.

In the night an old Russian trench, which by degrees had been reversed,
was connected with the fifth parallel on the right attack by 11 sappers
and 200 men, while 4 of the corps and 100 linesmen joined the approach
from the left of No. 19 battery to the fourth parallel. These junctions
were both effected under Lieutenant Brine of the engineers. Of the fifth
parallel, a moiety was formed wholly of rubble masonry. Lacking gabions
and revetting materials, the stones thrown up in blasting were the
readiest means of forming the parapet. This rubble mound, forming a line
of trench for about 450 feet, and stretching along the brow of the hill
to the left of a hollow in the rock, which had acquired in official
description the designation of the “little ravine,” was completed and
backed in with earth by the 28th July. Being so near the enemy’s works,
and disturbed by daily showers of grape, shell, &c., the construction of
this stone parapet formed one of the curiosities of the siege.

Both attacks were hourly approaching nearer to those extraordinary
structures it was hoped every day to storm. It still required time to
render the preparations complete for the dénouement. The ever present
rock, covered only by a few inches of soil, greatly increased the trials
of the workmen. Sacrifices of energy and strength were made in its
removal that ended in casualties unknown in former wars. The siege was
one continuous battle; yet it was more than strange, considering the
ferocity of the cannonade, that comparatively so few casualties
occurred. Engines to destroy human life in the most approved methods
were complete among the Russians; still they did not scruple to resort
to the uncivilized use of horse-shoes and scrap-iron to mow down the
assailants. So close were the parallels to the enemy’s works, that, on a
clear day, a finger could easily be discovered above the parapet. Where
the cover was scanty, it was a virtue to double up one-self into a
cramped position and labour like a giant. The miners and sappers in
every contortion of body, wheedled themselves under cover and stole
onwards with insidious certainty; but to preserve a strict concealment
was not an easy matter. For ambitious men the times were tempting;
opportunities seemed to impel one forward, or to unbend one-self into an
erect posture in delivering a blow; for, intent on progress, the mind
forgot dangers, and it was just then that the ardent man let his head or
his arm appear above the parapet, or his leg stray beyond the last
pitched gabion, when he was struck down. It was different, however, at
night, when all were alike veiled by the darkness. Works then were
commonly prosecuted on the open in front of batteries, on the tops of
merlons and magazines, and the crests of parapets. Experienced sappers
after dusk seldom sought to shield themselves by the sap-roller or
mantlet. A check to their progress, it was almost always cast aside to
be used by men who feared to go ahead without it.

Private Rowland Nicholas was struck severely in the right foot while
working in the fifth parallel of the right attack, and died of his
wounds. The firing was more true than severe and eight casualties
occurred in this parallel during the night.

There were nine companies in the Crimea on the 21st July, each of
reduced strength, giving a total of 678 sergeants and rank and file. Of
these there were 97 detailed to the following places:—

                                   Sergts. Corporals. Bug. Privates. Total.
 St. Paul near Kertch.                0        2       0      12      14
 Scutari                              2        3       0      21      26
 Balaklava                            2        6       0      22      30
 The monastery                        0        0       0       2       2
 Telegraph stations                   1        1       2      10      14
 Head-quarters of the army            1        2       0       8      11
 Otherwise employed, and as batmen    5        0       1      33      39
                                                      Total           136

At St. Paul the detachment conjoined with the French and Turks in
raising defences for the protection of the post. The men at Scutari
attended to the artificers’ work in the hospitals and barracks, many
being foremen, and sergeant William Sargent overseer. This
non-commissioned officer was soon after discharged and appointed civil
foreman of works at that great invalid depôt. Corporal Rinhy was the
military foreman, and a most energetic and useful man he was found.
Other non-commissioned officers were detached to the hospital-stations
on the Bosphorus as overseers. Sergeant Barnard was at Pera, sergeant
Lynn at Kulalee, corporal Cann at Ismid,[190] and corporal J. T.
Collins, after leaving the trenches in consequence of his wound, was
appointed sapper superintendent in the island of Proti, where the
Russian prisoners were confined, and for whose accommodation huts were
erected and an old Greek monastery converted into an hospital. At
Balaklava the detachment superintended the removal and erection of the
huts at the camp and elsewhere, and fulfilled various duties in relation
to the stores, wharves, and defences; while the party at the monastery
and with the telegraph were busy in carrying out the details of that
interesting field adjunct. Those at headquarters were employed in
offices and as orderlies. Sappers were appointed bâtmen from the
impossibility of retaining civil servants with the officers, and thus a
rule had been broken, which for forty-four years had been adhered to
without infringement. Of the remaining number on the rolls, there were
90 men sick in camp, and 59 dispersed in invalid ships and in the
hospitals on the Bosphorus. Taking all these details into account, there
were only 393 fighting-men left for trench-work, which will at once show
how hard must have been the duties of that half-battalion. As, moreover,
there were other indispensable services in camp which could not be
relinquished, it followed that the usual routine of the companies
necessarily appointed the same men to the trenches every other day or
intervening night; and this, continued without intermission for months,
amid varying vicissitudes of weather, of fearful exposure and untold
hardships and suffering, gives an aspect of sapper character and
endurance which few will be slow to eulogize. Indeed several of the
non-commissioned officers charged with particular services, were every
day in the trenches and sometimes even at night. Nor should it be
omitted to observe that the extreme heat of the season had so enervated
the men, that none but the most acclimatized and inured to fatigue could
bear up against its exhausting influence. Thinned, therefore, by
disease, hard work, long vigils, and night damps in the trenches and
mines, the numbers of the sick fluctuated to such an extent, that the
proportion above stated was at times considerably overshot. The
reinforcements which arrived from England to fill up the places of
casualties almost to a man fell sick from these causes, and many wanting
sinew and hardihood were removed as invalids from the camp without
seeing the trenches.

There were some works in the advance which required a nice appreciation
of intention on the part of the operatives to carry them into effect. Of
these the connection of an approach with a parallel, and one trench with
another, were among those which called for particular circumspection.
Expert men were invariably selected for those duties, whose wariness
greatly mitigated their risks. Few appeared to be more skilful in these
employments than their comrades, but on the night of the 21st, corporal
John Ross, untiring, patient, and intrepid, pushed on like a master in
the sap, and connected, under showers of grape, enough to disturb the
equanimity of the sternest coolness, the fourth parallel with an old
Russian rifle-pit in front. It will help to elucidate the business of a
sapper to describe the process by which the corporal accomplished this
service. With 200 men and a couple of privates of his own corps, he was
sent forward, after dark, to trace and form an approach between the
fourth parallel and the Russian advanced trench. Halting his men in the
parallel, each bearing an intrenching tool and a gabion, he moved to the
front with his two sappers and traced the zig-zag. Without losing a
moment he returned to the party, and to prevent confusion, led them from
the trench in single file. As each man arrived at his place, one sapper
staked the gabion, and the other instructed the workman with respect to
the space to be left for a berm and how to act in forming the parapet.
So pushed on the line of gabions, till the end one touching the
rifle-pit, approached within forty yards of the Russian trench. All the
way the ground was solid rock. To make up for this disadvantage the
corporal sent to the depôt for baskets and had the earth brought up a
distance of sixty or seventy yards. So spiritedly was everything done
through his own laborious example, that the gabions were not only filled
but cover sufficient was obtained for the miners to work in the approach
the next day. To a brisk musketry fire the party was exposed the whole
time, but the darkness of the night favoured the exertions of the
corporal and his men, and they left the boyau without casualty. Corporal
Ross’s conduct in effecting the junction was noticed in brigade orders,
and considered so deserving of reward that General Simpson ordered him
to be paid a gratuity of two pounds. Private James Lacy of the ninth
company was also noticed for his zeal in the work.

Next day private Nathanial Gillard, a rough but hardy miner, was killed
in the advance trenches on the right attack.

While no instance of applause in which the merits of the men are
concerned have been omitted, it would be unfair to hide any
indiscretions which may have subjected any of them to censure. These
pages would be incomplete if commendable deeds only were paraded and the
objectionable ones suppressed. Well is it, however, that no case of
cowardice has occurred in our ranks, although instances of natural
timidity were sometimes discovered. Neglect in the trenches amount to
offences among the sappers which in other corps would not be entitled to
more than ordinary notice. A flagrant instance occurred on the night of
the 22nd July. Very little work was done though the party was large. A
sharp fire was maintained upon the linesmen which made it difficult to
keep them to their tasks. Greatly as this may have operated in retarding
the works, the indolence of the workmen was chiefly attributable to the
carelessness of the non-commissioned officers of sappers in charge, who
added to their heedlessness a disregard of orders repeatedly given them.
Lying down in the trenches, the parties idled away their hours under the
apparent sanction of the overseers, and the names of three
non-commissioned officers seemingly unimpressed with the importance of
their responsibility, were mentioned to General Simpson.

On the 25th the linesmen appeared in the trenches in a brown linen
fatigue suit, like so many storehousemen from a sugar refining
establishment. Unrestrained by stout cloth and tight sleeves they worked
with obvious energy. This novel dress had also the advantage of enabling
the engineer to distinguish the workmen at a glance from the guard of
the trenches, and of assisting the sappers to look after their parties
and prevent attempts at straying or shirking.

On the left three more rifle-pits were sunk in sheltered spots to
command positions from which danger threatened. In broad daylight the
blasters carried out their duties in the communication leading to the
French picket near the cemetery. Many sappers were pushed into the
foremost trenches of both attacks, who blew out the rock with a spirit
that suffered no abatement, though the same men for many successive days
had given their exertions in removing impediments which nothing but
mining could reduce. Impossible to get earth in those difficult
trenches, it was even scraped from the face of the rock, and picked out
of crevices and indentations in which the sweeping wind or the rushing
torrent had lodged it. Soil carried from the rear was husbanded in
diminutive heaps, and shovelled at night on the incipient works. Clay
also was gathered for the purpose and borne in baskets to the front.
Walls of loose stones were formed in short lengths along the different
traces to protect the sappers in their progress. Without this temporary
expedient they could not have advanced. Where their lives were
imminently imperilled, the trench was not thrown forward by day, but was
simply deepened or widened by numerous small explosions. The boulders
and stones thus loosened were worked unsquared into the parapets at
dark, and all vacuities stuffed with clay or earth. So effectual were
the efforts of the blasters, it was ascertained that one sapper in
daylight upheaved enough rock to occupy nine men for four hours at night
in giving it a lodgment in the parapet.

In the valleys the besiegers had penetrated to some old walls and crazy
structures, which formed the buildings of a wild and scattered suburb.
All these were made to serve their uses, either as parts of the
trenches, or in furnishing materials for platforms and magazines. A few
brigades of carpenters having the run of the batteries, took pride in
the efficiency of their labours. In the front parallels sand-bag
loop-holes, and others of wooden troughs after the Russian fashion, were
built to scour the ravines. The latter never obtained favour with the
British riflemen, because the smoke moved lazily from the tubes and
precluded the chances of seeing the effect of the fire. Shot-holes were
plugged up in all the parapets, and breaches mended in places of arms.
Unfinished works, and embrasures ruptured by the enemy’s shot and
shells, necessitated considerable attention; but as revetting materials
had reached their utmost limit of scarcity, the Turks and Sardinians
helped by their labours to meet the deficiency. Gabions made by the
former were slack and ricketty, fit only for secondary uses, while those
put out of hand by the Sardinians were everything that could be desired.
New batteries with ample magazines were formed on rocky sites and others
powerfully enlarged. No. 18 battery, on the right attack, was armed on
the morning of the 26th July with seven 13-inch mortars, three of them
being sea-service ones. The work spread out in great length in the first
demi-parallel, nearly to the crest of the middle ravine. Some of the
earliest batteries wore an appearance of age and even permanence, for
spots of scanty verdure grew upon their slopes, and rank herbelets
sprang from shot-rents and seams. The soil had solidified, and tearing
shells had less effect upon them than younger constructions; still the
repairs they needed were generally of some magnitude, because they were
assailed by the heaviest ordnance, of the largest calibres and
weightiest missiles. For several days heavy showers diversified the
obstacles of progress and attack. Fortunately the works suffered little,
but some of the low parts of the trenches were flooded. The increase of
mud, deep as it was, was barely regarded as a difficulty, although every
tramp buried the leg to the swell and played annoying pranks with boots
and shoes inadequately secured with thongs or laces. This was far from
pleasant, and consequently efforts to avoid the pools were carried to an
extravagant pitch by many, who, sooner than soil a badly-polished boot
or draggle in mire the legs of an old pair of trousers, risked their
lives by mounting the reverse of the trench in passing to their duties.
All these discomforts were however speedily relieved, and eventually in
great part removed, by cutting tunnels through the rock and forming
channels by chisel and jumper along its face.

On the 28th at night, Major Campbell of the 46th regiment, assistant
engineer, was wounded in the back and obliged to retire from the right
attack. Sergeant Philip Morant succeeding him, it fell to his lot to
distribute the working parties to their several duties and control their
services until the day relief. It also happened on the 30th, from some
miscarriage of arrangement, that sergeant Docherty, by order of Major
Bent, was placed in charge of the workmen on the left attack. For the
day he stood in the place of an engineer and kept his widely-spread
parties in full activity. These are the only instances during the siege
in which non-commissioned officers of the corps held positions of
unusual responsibility.

Casualties from splinters of shells and flying stones, from cohorns in
the Redan, and heavy shells and carcases discharged from the collateral
works were very great. Those which occurred among the sappers from the
23rd to the end of July were as follows:—

  Day 23rd—Colour-sergeant Alexander M. McLeod, slightly wounded in the
          right breast. This was his second wound, having been struck in
          the head on the 6th June.

  Day 25th—Private Alfred Rowlett—killed on the right attack.

  Night 25th—Private John Miller—killed on the left attack. Was struck
          by the splinter of a shell, which carried away part of his
          head when superintending 20 men employed in repairing damages
          done by the Russian fire to the central boyau leading to the
          fifth parallel.

  Day 26th—Lance-corporal Richard Pinch—slightly wounded by the bursting
          of a shell, while at work in the fourth parallel, left attack.

  Night 26th—Private James Drummond—dangerously wounded on the right. It
          was excessively light during the night. Grape and shell swept
          over the trenches, and one of the latter on bursting broke his
          thigh. He died of his wounds.

  Night 27th—Private Francis Collins—wounded in right thigh—right

  Night 27th—Private Roderick Stewart—wounded in right side—right

  Night 28th—Private Alexander Sparks—wounded slightly in the neck in
          the right advance trenches.

  Day 29th—Private Robert Sharp—severely wounded in right leg, by the
          splinter of a shell, while cutting the shell-room in No. 17
          battery, left attack.

Entertaining a predilection for sorties, the Russians attempted an
attack on the night of the 2nd August, sending forth a small force to
feel the way, intending, if access were readily attainable, to rush upon
the quarries with powerful columns. Driving up the Woronzoff ravine, the
enemy was brought to a stand by the iron chevaux-de-frise which crossed
the valley and blocked up the road. Confused movements and the clanging
of arms was heard by the British picket in the ravine, who, thus put on
their guard, opposed the assailants with volleys of musketry, from which
the Russians turned and ran into their works, leaving, however, the
impress of their perseverance in the partial destruction of the
chevaux-de-frise. During the sortie the fire by the besieged upon the
right demi-parallel was very fierce. Five sappers and 45 men, altering
its direction from a curvilinear trench to a straight one, held
unflinchingly by their tasks and acquired much credit for their labours.
Lance-corporal John Miller was killed on the right attack.

Sergeant Docherty went into the ravine after the Russians had retired to
ascertain the extent of the damage. He passed along the entire length of
the barricade. The centre was embedded in sand washed down by heavy
rains. As it could not be readily dislocated, its spikes were stricken
off by the enemy at the axis. Most of the chains which connected the
tubes were wrenched from their staples, the flank pieces drawn aside,
and gaps at intervals occurred along the line. There were only seven
portions of the chevaux-de-frise left in a serviceable state, and such
of the other tubes and spears as could not be borne away in the flight
were broken with sledge hammers and scattered in fragments to wide
distances over the ground. The sergeant’s little episode was not without
its risks; for the ground was dangerous and the enemy’s picket-house
near. While Docherty was busy ascertaining the extent of the demolition,
the moon rose brightly above and he was perceived. One bullet after
another whizzed in his direction and two of them perforated his
greatcoat, but he cleverly eluded the Russian riflemen by creeping up a
rut in the side of the ravine, which worn away by storm-flows, was
sufficiently deep to cover him. On returning to the trenches he reported
the result of his reconnaissance to the assistant engineer on duty,
Lieutenant Jones of the 46th regiment.

Next day there were 97 sappers in the trenches of the left attack
principally occupied in blasting hard ground in the advance saps. With
the aid of line quarrymen, there were turned into the parallels at least
80 blasters at every relief. The non-commissioned officers
superintending the miners on the 4th August were noticed in the official
journal. Their names are here preserved, having as overseers
superintended the formation of works which in after time, looking at the
danger and extreme difficulty of their execution, may doubtlessly be
held up as examples of extraordinary toil. These were second-corporals
Robert Hanson, John Paul, and James Hill, all of whom received promotion
for “conducting operations of the siege entrusted to them with ability
and perseverance whilst under a constant heavy fire.” Speaking of the
first Colonel Gordon of the engineers acknowledged, under date the 6th
December, that he was one of the “most distinguished in the corps for
bravery, and had just received a step of rank ”—that of corporal—“for
very distinguished service in the field.” This eulogium had reference to
his intrepid services on the left attack, from the beginning of May to
the end of the siege, in conducting the blasting operations for forming
the fourth and fifth parallels from the double sap to the cemetery.
Hanson was an indefatigable man, uniting to a strong frame vigour of
purpose and great energy, which led to his selection by Major Bent to be
one of his standing overseers. Boring rock was a tedious and
uninteresting sort of employment. It chafed many a brave spirit, who
would have preferred the rash hazards of assault to the plodding
exertions and quiet discretion of a resigned miner. Besides its hard
difficulties it was attended with perpetual risks. The ringing of
hammers on the jumpers boring the rock, and the rising clouds of smoke
from the blasts, gave indications so certain that projectiles of all
kinds, from the invisible Minié bullet to the raging shell, were
directed against the quarriers. So greatly exposed were these parallels,
especially on the crest of the ravine and in driving down its broken
side, that the casualties were excessive. Still, though the working of
them was one continued adventure, Hanson moving among his parties early
and late, day after day without missing a tour, was never touched!

So extensive now was the work for carpenters in the front it was found
necessary to break in upon the routine of the rollster and send them
irrespective of any assumed periods of relief to the trenches. Even
those of the corps employed in the parks were added to the skilled
resources of the engineers in both attacks. Magazines and platforms
required repairs in every battery and new huts were wanted for doctors.
Little clusters of these craftsmen were told off to every work, and
without making a marvel of their exertions it is not the less creditable
to say that their perseverance and quickness under the superintendence
of non-commissioned officers who were citizens of the trenches, were, if
not astonishing, highly satisfactory.

The chevaux-de-frise demolished on the 2nd, which left a clear passage
for a sortie of between 45 and 50 yards, was almost made good in one
night by a few sapper blacksmiths, under a direct fire of Miniés,
shells, and grape. More would have been accomplished, but it was found
an intricate matter in the dark to fellow the iron fitments. Next night
two of the men repaired to the ravine to finish the barricade, but
unable to procure help from the guard of the trenches, the moon rose
upon them before the gap was filled up, and it was left for a subsequent
night to complete the junction.

In the night of the 4th the moon again was up, and undimmed by mist or
cloud, shone brightly over the trenches, telling our secrets to the
Russians ensconced in concealed pits. Harassed in their work, the
workmen in the fifth parallel of the right attack were withdrawn to less
open trenches. The firing upon Nos. 17 and 20 batteries was very warm
and the casualties heavy. The line officer in charge was dangerously
injured, and between 20 and 30 other accidents occurred, among whom were
a corporal and two sappers slightly wounded.

On the 6th August sergeant George Jarvis, a useful and pushing overseer
and accredited to be one of the most competent, gallant, and go-ahead
sergeants of the left attack, held a roving superintendence with a party
of 54 men of the 68th regiment and 4 sappers. With broken stones they
filled up the shot holes and craters in the second, third, and fourth
parallels, and also collected loosened rock in heaps to be worked into
the parapets at night. Sand-bags and gabions at this time were very
scarce. In some works they could not be had. The latter, heavy with wet
and bulged and ricketty by pressure and hard service, were nevertheless
made to do duty in the front, intermixed with gabions woven with the
iron hoops of broken barrels. These, with beef casks, worn tubs, and
fascines tied with rope-yarn, strips of hide or iron bands, were the
staple of the new constructions; and bread or biscuit bags, laid with
gingerly care, formed faces to the revetments, backed by blocks of rock
rolled into the parapets by manual labour. Even coal-sacks, heavy as
they were when filled with earth, were found to be useful auxiliaries to
the sand-bags. With singular abnegation the stalwart sailors mended
their own embrasures, supervised by a few of the old sappers; and in
driving some new communications gave material help, overriding by their
strange but energetic combinations and procedure the more orderly but
less picturesque efforts of disciplined troops.

On the 8th, though a storm broke over the trenches, choking up the
channels and beating down the parapets, the men still worked. Many
casualties were counted in the advance saps that day, two of whom were
sappers—privates Matthew Hall wounded in the head, and John Fraser in
the face, both slightly.

In the following night, the play of cohorn shells was more grand and
vivid than hurtful. As many as sixteen of these missiles were screaming
in the air at one time, marking their vicious courses through the
darkness by a continuous burst of fire. Several of them pitched in the
unfinished portions of the fifth parallel of the right attack, where
parties of sappers and some men of the 31st regiment were busy reversing
an old Russian trench. Corporal Curgenven, who was in charge, seeing no
absolute shelter anywhere hugged the parapet closely, as did also a
sergeant and an officer of the 31st who fell in line behind the
corporal. Just then a shell burst above, scattering its splinters
without apparently touching any one. “Are you hit, corporal?” asked the
sergeant. “Not I,” said Curgenven, cheerfully. “Depend upon it you are,”
returned the sergeant, “for a fragment fell so near you, I wonder you
are alive to say you escaped.” When about to withdraw from the parapet,
the corporal felt so heavy a weight on his hand, he fancied a portion of
the revetment must be bearing on it. He was soon undeceived. A splinter
had struck him, benumbing the limb to such an extent that the sensation
produced was one of overpowering pressure. After satisfying himself that
no bones were broken, and binding up his hand which was bleeding and
much swoln, he resumed work as if nothing had transpired to cause him a
moment’s uneasiness.

It was a hard matter when grape showered among the parties to keep them
at their tasks. From this cause in the same night very little progress
was made. An unarmed detachment appointed to cut a drain to the front on
the left of the fourth parallel of the right attack wavered in its
performance notwithstanding the personal risks and labours of the sapper
in charge to win their firmness and zeal. At daybreak on the 11th
sergeant Jarvis was again the chief sapper superintendent on the left,
and with a force of sixty linesmen attended to the general drainage of
the trenches. In the following night forty men were employed clearing
loosened rock in the fifth parallel and building traverses. This party,
under corporal Cray, whose constant faithfulness and ardour secured him
many commendations, worked exceedingly well. On the 12th there were
ninety-eight sappers mostly miners, boring and blasting in the fourth
and fifth parallels. This was the largest force of sappers in the
trenches of either attack at one time, except on the 3rd March, the
first night of breaking ground for No. 7 battery of the left attack. At
midnight on the 14th, twenty-five men in charge of a corporal of
sappers, extending the fifth parallel of the right attack to the white
Russian rifle pit, were opposed by shells and shot, which breaking the
rock threw the stones into the gabions; but one striking more
effectually tore up the last-pitched gabion and dashing it at the
corporal knocked him down. Next day private Alexander Weir, a strong and
pushing miner, was killed on the left attack; and in the succeeding
night sergeant William Wilson on the right attack was entrusted with
raising from the trace a 2-gun battery (No. 21) to enfilade the right
face of the Redan. It was built on the right central boyau leading to
the fourth parallel.

By the middle of August the whole sapper force on the right was removed
to the royal engineer camp on the left attack. In the former camp they
held a forward position on the extreme right of the light division, and
next to them on their left were the rifles. From high elevations shot
and shells sometimes dropped in their vicinity, and one plunging
furiously into the tent of sergeant-major Pringle shattered the table at
which he was writing, and driving through a box of clothes and comforts
buried itself in the earth. The startled occupant escaped, but in the
violent overturning of his table and chair he was knocked down.[191]

On the morning of the 16th the Russians attempted a sortie, but before
they had proceeded far up the Woronzoff road were compelled to retire
followed by a sharp fire which accelerated their retreat. This was
succeeded on the 17th, as soon as day broke, by the English and French
opening their batteries for the fifth bombardment with a sweeping fire
upon the whole range of the enemy’s works. In the early part of the day
the cannonading was frightfully brisk: on both sides it was accurate;
but as the hours wore on, the Russian batteries, crumbling into useless
shapes, no longer able to cover the artillerymen at the guns, fell off
by degrees in fierceness till the intervals became so long, it seemed as
if the silence was the solemn consequence of the slaughter. In several
places the parapets were so ploughed up and shaken, that, tumbling into
the ditches, wide breaches were exhibited which clearly told of the
ravages committed by shot and shell. It would indeed have been
remarkable had not the destruction been excessive, for the guns and
mortars playing from the British batteries alone were 187. In the right
attack there were 20 batteries, but only 19 in action. The great 21-gun
battery, early the terror of the siege, now shorn of its strength, was
more than rivalled by No. 16 battery which had 14 pieces of artillery at
work. The first eight batteries too distant for a striking cannonade
only counted 18 pieces of artillery among them. On the left attack the
batteries were numbered up to 17, but of these 5 and 6 were defunct, the
materials composing them having been employed in more recent
constructions. In No. 1 battery there were 13 guns and mortars, and in
14 and 15, 11 each. The English formations suffered but little
comparatively and only five guns were disabled and a few carriages
shattered. From our own sharp fire many of the embrasures were injured
in the necks; and in the old batteries there was a general tottering
which occasioned much labour to prop them up for battle. Nos. 7 and 8
were the most unstable and beaten. The turgent sand-bags and the
worn-out gabions, alternately wet from violent rains and dry from the
charring heat of the sun, burst and broke up at every blow. A couple of
13-inch shells struck two platforms in No. 14 battery of the Chapman
attack and tore them from the sleepers. Shocks of shot and pieces of
shells shivered some timbers in different works, and in others drew the
bolts which held them in their places. Three shells one after another
exploded on a magazine in No. 8 battery left attack, breaking the roof
and starting the frame. The smoke still hovered over the spot when
lance-corporal Jenkins with that spirited readiness for which he was
remarkable, entered the place to ascertain the extent of the injury. It
was of a nature to require the instant removal of the powder, in which
Jenkins assisted, and by the next morning the damage was made good and
the powder replaced. On the right there were 28 sappers in the batteries
who were relieved in the afternoon by 36 of the corps. Their duties were
those which arose out of superintendence and the platforms. On No. 14
battery of the Gordon attack, the firing had told so destructively that
two of the embrasures were in ruins. As sappers could not be had in the
work to effect the restoration, the naval captain in command of the
seamen gunners telegraphed to the rear for a reinforcement. A few able
fellows were hurried to the battery, who at once commenced and continued
through the heat of the bombardment to remove the debris which choked up
the openings and to rebuild the cheeks with gabions and fascines handed
to them by the willing sailors. It was an exciting sight to watch the
firmness and exertions of privates David Boyd and George Harvey in one
of the embrasures, who remained at their posts till the renewal was
finished; and when, after risking perils with fearless indifference,
they leaped from the opening, the admiring seamen welcomed their escape
with cheers. Privates Allan Hay, Alexander Norval, and William
Robertson, also acted with firmness in mending the embrasures of No. 9
battery of the same attack; and Lieutenant Brine, the officer of
engineers on duty, reported that the five men just named “displayed
great courage and energy in repairing embrasures and clearing them out
under fire.” On the left no working party was employed, but three
sappers opened an embrasure in No. 1 battery; 20 posted in front of No.
7 improved its cover; 30 in No. 16 built the terreplein, and six
carpenters with saws, chisels, and bags of bolts and nails traversed the
batteries to make repairs wherever emergency called for their services.
The general casualties in the day’s bombardment were severe. Of the
sappers two were killed and five wounded, viz.:—

Left attack.—Private Henry Masters—killed; a round shot carried away the
              top of his head. He had been wounded in the trenches on
              the 14th March.

Right attack.—Private William R. Collings—killed.

2nd corporal Harry B. Smith—wounded severely in right leg.

Lance-corporal Edward McGinn—wounded severely in the back.

Lance-corporal Joseph Finch—wounded slightly in right knee.

Private John Delany—wounded slightly in the face.

Private John Lloyd—wounded slightly in right leg.

Collings, Smith, McGinn, Delany, and Finch, had been repairing platforms
on the left of the second parallel, which being in a serviceable
condition, they thought to relieve the suspense of the temporary leisure
with a whiff of tobacco. Lighting their pipes they had scarcely begun to
feel the comfort of the luxury when a shell bursting knocked down the
whole of them. Collings struck in the heart fell dead and a second shell
tearing through the parapet buried the lifeless man under a pile of
earth and stones. McGinn for a time was ignorant of the injury he had
received and was only made conscious of it by feeling a weight at his
back and strange sensations of fainting.

Next night the sappers were mainly employed repairing the different
batteries and filling up shot-holes and gaps in the parapets and
revetments. An incessant musketry fire followed them wherever they went,
but the shelling was unimportant. On the left attack, private Lancaster
had charge of the work in the double sap. He had with him seven men of
the 9th regiment, and another party was employed in the rear filling
sandbags to permit the advance to proceed unchecked. As these were
brought to the front, the linesmen assisted Lancaster to throw the earth
over the parapet and also to load some biscuit bags for the purpose of
superadding them to the revetment. While filling one of the bags a shell
plunged among the party and with its splinters killed two and wounded
five. Lancaster strangely enough escaped. He threw himself down at the
instant close to the half-filled bag, and when the shell burst he was
only stunned. As soon as he had recovered himself and saw the havoc
committed among his assistants, he went into the parallel for help; and
on returning received a slight bayonet thrust from one of a party of men
who in haste were retreating from the rear of the sap. The whole of the
workmen laboured through the darkness with praiseworthy activity,
especially the parties under corporals Cray[192] and McEachran, to whom
much credit was given for their exertions and example in coolly entering
the broken embrasures and replacing the damaged gabions and sandbags
with old powder barrels or any other means which could at the moment be
obtained. The stricken gabions, turned with their best sides to the
front to form the cheeks, were picketed down to insure their
steadfastness. Almost all the embrasures in No. 16 battery were mended
in this way, and McEachran not to be outdone in the work even gathered
some of the broken gabions from the open, and while the fire was warm on
the battery built them with much tact and as much exertion into the
cheeks. On the right the masked approach to No. 19 battery was thrown
down and a ramp rapidly formed for the passage of the guns. As soon as
they were hauled through, the gorge was remasked with gabions. One
sapper and ten men effected this operation. The succeeding day private
Michael McNamara, a firm soldier under fire, was killed by a round-shot
while eating his dinner. The ball carried away part of his head.

Immediately after completing No. 15 battery, corporal Hill was directed
to oversee by day the miners working in the right demi-parallel of the
left attack, which swept in a curve over the edge of the hill, and
dropping down its side crossed the Woronzoff road. Under his charge a
portion of this trench on the crest of the ravine was converted into No.
17 battery for two guns. As the principal materials for forming it were
obtained by quarrying, the construction was difficult and arduous. The
revetments were chiefly of stone. Large gabions filled with fragments of
rock faced the embrasures, and the soles were bevelled outwards from the
necks to admit the guns being sufficiently depressed to fire down the
ravine. A magazine for gunpowder and shot was hollowed out of the rock
under the parapet, and two traverses were built to protect the gunners
from the cross fire of the Malakoff. Constantly were the workmen annoyed
by musketry. Shells fell so truly at times that they even burst on the
platforms, but the steady miners, habituated to danger, never quitted
their labours. Just finished was the work when its overseer, losing the
use of his limbs from exertion and exposure, was relieved on the 20th
August from the fatigues he had sustained so well during the siege.

On the 21st lance-corporal William Jenkins was slightly wounded in the
right knee. Such however was his spirit he would not leave the front.
Exposed to so many hazards in “repairing embrasures and platforms under
the most severe fire of the enemy,” and present in so many sorties and
bombardments it was a wonder he escaped with so insignificant a
reminiscence of his exploits. At different times no less than four
furious shots have flown through his huge legs without affecting his
composure or staying the exertions of his strong arm.[193] Herculean in
stature and strength he was acknowledged by officers and men to be a
brave man and competent and quick in every work. Master carpenter of the
left attack he was _every day_ in the trenches from the 1st of May, and
was considered even by his comrades to be one of the most
unexceptionable sappers among the rank and file. As a recognition of his
useful and gallant exertions he was decorated with a “distinguished
service” medal, and granted a gratuity of 5_l._[194]

By this time the fifth parallel on the right was completed, lying in
almost a straight line across the hill from crest to crest, leaving an
opening in a fall of the ground near the small quarry next the middle
ravine. It was judged best not to touch the hollow as the sacrifice of
life in attempting it would then have been enormous. But even this
resolve was afterwards given up and the cavity trenched to finish the
parallel. In connection with this parallel was an abandoned Russian
white rifle pit, which was converted into a commanding post with
parapets and banquettes. Smart Minié practice was carried on from that
screen by lynx-eyed musketeers, who drew upon themselves showers of
grape and canister that considerably damaged the parapets and lessened
the number of the marksmen. All repairs however were rapidly executed,
which kept the post in constant efficiency.

On the night of the 22nd was commenced a new approach from the fifth
parallel on the right attack towards the salient of the Redan. It jutted
out from an angle about the centre of the trench. Four or five of the
old sappers, indomitable men, with a party of the 1st Royals, worked
remarkably well in its execution. Captain Cooke of the engineers had the
honour of opening this boyau, and eighty-seven gabions set by flying sap
were filled with earth brought from the remote rear in breadbags.
Partial cover was obtained without interruption for fifty-eight yards,
during which only one of the working party was wounded.

Next night one hundred men in two reliefs with four sappers under
corporal John Ross were pushed into this trench. The corporal marched
the working party into the fifth parallel and awaited orders. Captain
Wolseley of the 90th regiment, assistant engineer, was on duty in charge
of the advance works. From him the corporal received directions to
distribute the men to the best advantage. Half the party he detailed to
fill bags to be carried by the other half to the sap as required. After
these preliminary arrangements he sought the field officer of the
trenches and obtained a covering party of twenty men. Eight of the
number he kept as sentries in the approach and with the others crept
onwards, posting them individually a short distance apart in front of
the trace where the sap was to be extended. Having instructed them how
to act should the slightest movement of the Russians be heard, and
cautioned them, should a light-ball come over, to roll themselves up a
short distance from it and lie quiet, he reappeared among his men. With
his four sappers he moved to the vent of the zigzag. Gabions and earth
were carried to them by the fifty men. The corporal himself placed the
gabions and the sappers emptied the earth into them. Grape and musketry
from the Malakoff and the Redan made the task very laborious, for
frequently the staked gabions were capsized and had to be renewed.
However, they succeeded in placing and filling twenty-five, despite the
blazing of light-balls which pitched at times around them and exposed
their work. Thus far had the corporal proceeded when he moved the whole
party forward, and leading the way with lance-corporal William Baker in
opening a trench by the side of the newly-laid gabions, the work had
good cover before the morning, and that also which had been executed the
night before was strengthened and improved. So interesting and exciting
was the work that Captain Wolseley was constant in his visits to the sap
and encouraged its progress by his praises. The lance-corporal was
wounded a few minutes before the relief arrived. For the “extremely
creditable” manner in which corporal Ross performed his duty, he
received a present from General Simpson of three sovereigns. This was
the second instance of his being rewarded by the commander-in-chief for
distinguished services.

Four men of the 77th were wounded and two killed in this zigzag. Two
also of the five sappers were wounded, viz., lance-corporal William
Baker, seventh company, slightly in the head with stones thrown at him
by a round shot, and private James Colquhoun slightly in the right leg.
Spare in person like a lean boy, ready apparently to snap at any
pressure, Baker stood up in singular contrast to his comrade Jenkins;
but few possessed more spirit than Baker; few more of that solid dash
indispensable to the stormer. Signalised by his calmness and
qualifications in the open embrasures his name was once brought before
Lord Raglan, and promotion was given him in appreciation of his
soldierly merits.

During the night of the 24th, sergeant Benjamin Castledine was slightly
wounded in the head by a rifle ball—the second stroke he had received
during the siege. He was giving instructions at the time with respect to
the revetment of No. 21 battery, situated on the central boyau between
the third and fourth parallels of the right attack, and though the wound
was such as would have sent most men to the rear, he remained in the
trenches after receiving the blow for seven hours visiting his parties.

The new sap on the Redan was the absorbing work on the right attack.
Ninety men were told off for it this night; but as the moon had risen, a
portion of the men only were permitted to enter the zigzag, who toiled
by reliefs an hour at a time. A few experienced sappers acquainted with
the incidents and chances of advanced trench duty, pushed spiritedly
ahead, and placed eighteen gabions. These were filled in part by the
Grenadier Guards, and the former night’s work was strengthened by earth
thrown over the parapet from sacks passed from hand to hand. The
operation was a confined one, for the brightness of the night made it
hazardous to send them forward on the reverse of the trench. Sergeant
Hale of the Guards kept a small detachment of his regiment so well at
work and in such perfect discipline that he was rewarded by General
Simpson with a gift of three sovereigns, one of which he retained for
himself, generously distributing the remainder among his comrades.
Corporal Joseph J. Stanton was in charge of the front saps that night,
and amid defections in some of his parties, which it seemed impossible
by any amount of example and daring to overcome, the conduct of Hale and
his men was so marked that the corporal felt proud to name the sergeant
to the engineer officer on duty. Of Stanton, it may be added, that no
soldier in the army perhaps, quitted the Crimea with so many
decorations. He had medals for the Danube and Crimea with three clasps,
a medal for “distinguished service in the field,” and the French Legion
of Honour. He also became a colour sergeant and was offered a
commission, but the war, closing before it could be consummated, the
rank was consequently lost.

In the night of the 25th, was begun a prolongation of the fifth parallel
on the right, down a small ravine towards a screened wall where the
Russians had a picket in ambuscade. When the moon had gone down, the
ground was quickly opened and forty-seven gabions were planted and
tolerably filled by five sappers and one hundred men. Three sappers and
seventy men were also driving as far as they dare between the small
ravine and the white pit connected with the fifth parallel. By these
means the entrenched “hollow,” commenced with fatal anticipations, was
gradually united to the French line of works.

This day lance-corporal William Monds on the right attack was
dangerously wounded in the back by a rifle ball, while laying a bridge
of planks for the passage of artillery into Nos. 18 and 19 batteries.
Strangely enough he was struck a little above the same spot on the 7th
June by a sand-bag thrown at him by a shot; and though this injury did
not fall into the category of wounds, it caused him much more suffering
than the rifle wound which threatened his life.


Footnote 190:

  Corporal Cann continued at Ismid till May, 1856, when the troops were
  withdrawn. “He had for the last few months sole charge and direction
  of the various works required at that station, and fulfilled that
  charge in a most satisfactory manner.” Such was the report of Major E.
  C. A. Gordon, of the engineers.

Footnote 191:

  The concentration of the companies on the left, proved to be very
  fortunate, for they escaped a terrible catastrophe. The ground vacated
  by them was soon after occupied by the artillery and small arm
  brigade. When the explosion of the French magazines in the Ravin du
  Carénage took place in November, 1855, the shock, chiefly felt by the
  artillery, resulted in a loss to that regiment of 52 killed and
  wounded out of a roll of casualties numbering 146 of all ranks. The
  engineer park took fire at the time, but not a sapper was touched.

Footnote 192:

  When Cray arrived at the front, Jenkins, by order, took him round the
  trenches, so that when it should become his turn for duty he might
  know the several works and the points where danger most existed. They
  had gone into the fifth parallel by the left approach, and were
  leaving it by the right one, which had a parapet so low it would
  scarcely cover a crow. “You must look alive here,” said Jenkins, “or
  we shall get a knock.” Off Jenkins started, rushing down an enfiladed
  piece of the trench, and creeping on all-fours where the cover was
  insufficient. His movements were seen by the Russian riflemen, and a
  few unavailing shots told of their vigilance. It was now Cray’s turn
  to move, but declining to follow the crafty progress of his
  experienced cicerone, he preferred to make a rush into the completed
  boyau; but he had scarcely taken a step beyond the parallel, when a
  tempest of bullets overtook him. With alarming nearness they whistled
  about his head, and feeling the hot wind of a Minié brushing his nose,
  as if an iron feather had rasped it, he fancied that that prominent
  feature of his countenance had been shot off. The delusion was but
  momentary, for another mishap occurred to drive away the unpleasant
  sensation which the first had created. As he was bounding into deeper
  cover his foot tripped and down he fell with a crash, which quite
  upset the gravity of the guide and the blasters in the parallel.

  “I thought you were done for,” said Jenkins, as Cray crawled up to
  him, every muscle of his face in laughing activity.

  “Not yet,” replied Cray. “It was near enough though to make the escape
  a miracle.” He then added, with a significant smile,—“Some lucky
  Russian, no doubt, will be decorated with a distinguished service
  medal for killing me!”

Footnote 193:

  The most remarkable instance perhaps occurred on the 17th October. The
  second gabion from the neck of the left cheek of an embrasure in No. 2
  battery was injured by two shots, and pushed so far from the row as to
  interfere with the firing. Jenkins tried to remove it, but finding
  from the strong way in which it had been staked and the earth tamped
  on it, that more than extra exertion was needed to pull it out, he
  placed his broad back against the right cheek, and with his leg
  pressing against the left, hauled with all his might on the gabion.
  While doing so an 8-inch shot swept through his legs with a velocity
  so great that the wind of it struck him powerless for a few moments.
  On went the shot, and smashing one of the wheels of a gun-carriage,
  threw the gun out of action for the remainder of the day.

Footnote 194:

  From the second parallel of the left attack ran several boyaux to the
  third parallel. The angle of the trench where the fourth and fifth
  zigzags joined, was a very dangerous corner, and many a man in
  rounding it had been killed or wounded. Early in June when corporal
  Jenkins was passing with Major Chapman of the 20th regiment, this
  little “shadow of death,” a few rifle bullets whistled so near their
  ears that their escape was next to extraordinary. Looking up to
  ascertain the cause of this reception, the Major said, with a
  good-humoured smile, “I shall not come here again with you, Jenkins,
  if you wear that swell band on your cap.” The band was a white one.

                       26th August-5th September.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

State of the works—Russian floating-bridge across the harbour—Gallantry
  of corporal McMurphy and his sappers—The sailors—Advance from fifth
  parallel on salient of Redan—And on its extreme left flank—Defection
  of the workmen in the latter sap and firmness of the two sappers in
  charge—Valour of sergeant Castledine and private McKellar—Intrepid
  continuance of the right sap—The double sap, left attack—Fifth
  parallel of the same attack; corporal Paul its overseer—Experienced
  hands selected for the front; charge of the non-commissioned
  officers—Casualties—Fresh details—Trench from fifth parallel to
  cemetery—Unsuccessful attempt to open a screen in advance of white
  rifle-pit—Notice of corporal Phillips—A sapper guides his party along
  the open or part of fifth parallel in preference to taking a longer
  route though a covered one—Perseverance of sappers in the front
  saps—Sixth bombardment—The works and repairs proceed steadily—Results
  of the cannonading—Fatal meeting of friends—Siege career of sergeant

All the batteries were again fresh and capable, and trunnionless guns
and guns with broken muzzles or irreparable vents were in great part
replaced by serviceable ordnance. The magazines were firm and full,
platforms sufficient and steady, and the traverses stood with scarcely a
shot-hole unplugged. On the right the new field structures to rake the
Redan and collateral works were in clusters of threes. In front of the
famed quarry, and near the fourth parallel, were batteries 16, 17, and
20, facing the salient of the Redan; and 18, 19, and 21, were formed in
some trenches in advance of the second parallel, and in rear of the
small quarry contiguous to the middle ravine. All the rest of the
batteries rose up in natural positions in the parallels and zigzags.
Parapets were now formed in both attacks for rockets, which played with
brilliant effect on the Russian works, throwing into flames a building
in the Karabelnaia faubourg. A well with a clear spring in the third
parallel was protected by a stone wall and ditch, and the parched
trenchmen drew in safety from its depths. Bread-bags now almost wholly
supplanted the sand-bags. Though ill-adapted for hard service, exigency
regarded with favour any device that could be made to do duty in a siege
which had more than exhausted the trench materials of our parks and
arsenals. To save it from enfilade fire, the left of the fourth parallel
of the Chapman attack was altered by cuttings and traverses into the
form of a serpentine sap.

With vigour quite as conspicuous, the Russians were toiling. Their
immense lines of works, of unequalled strength, were in admirable
condition; and rising tier above tier were armed at all points with the
heaviest artillery, to bear with harassing results on all our most
imposing works and approaches. While fires gleamed from different
buildings, and others were breached and broken from base to coping, the
enemy, fully alive to the chances of defeat, employed all their
disposable tradesmen in constructing a wooden bridge of great length, to
span the harbour from Fort Catherine to Fort Nicholas. Signs of activity
for this undertaking were first perceived on the 29th July. The wharfs
were crowded with stores of all kinds, and many small craft were moored
along the quay to assist in the service. As by degrees the vast heaps of
timber disappeared, the floating bridge assumed proportions of
increasing vastness; and by this time—ponderous, like everything
Russian—the causeway was completed for the passage of the troops, when
the extremity should arrive to necessitate such an operation.

Extremely brilliant was the night of the 26th; nevertheless, an average
quantity of progress was made in the foremost trenches. Grape and shell
fell so truly into the saps, that the men were in frequent alarm; and of
the 90th regiment alone, 30 men were killed and wounded. Corporal
McMurphy was in charge of 130 men of different regiments scattered in
the advances. Thirty of the number, allotted to the approach from the
fifth parallel to a rifle-pit on the right, were under the foremanship
of privates Moncur and Joseph Fitzgerald. The work was about 200 yards
from the proper right of the domineering Malakoff, and the left of the
ambitious Redan. From the latter an active fire was opened on the little
batch of pioneers, and also from four embrasures on the right flank of
the Malakoff. For a time nothing touched them. Shells and grape whizzed
over the works, shaking many a nerve and swimming many a head. Few could
keep cool in such danger, and picks and shovels were used with timid
vigour; but the steadiness of the two overseers was the record of the
day. At length the range of the trench was so accurately obtained, that
the shells plunged into the very gabions the sappers were filling, and
broke them up in the explosions. The wavering of the party was now very
apparent, and corporal McMurphy, an old soldier who before had been in a
hot siege of thirty days at Natal, exerted himself manfully to keep the
men at their tasks. A few tardy efforts was the measure of their
reluctant obedience, when one of the party being killed by the
corporal’s side, the entire detachment ran from the trench, leaving the
three sappers ahead bent to their work. McMurphy followed, entreating
them, if they intended to abandon their posts, at least to return and
carry away the dead body of their comrade. Too craven to perform even
this touching duty, the corporal repaired with an undismayed pace to the
sap, and with the assistance of his two intrepid overseers, bore the
shattered corpse to the rear amid a tempest of fire, escaping without a
stroke. For their gallantry on this occasion the commander-in-chief
presented the privates with two sovereigns each and the corporal with
three, who, subsequently, was decorated with the French military war
medal. Private Moncur also obtained a “distinguished service” medal and
a gratuity of 5_l._, for throughout the siege he proved himself to be a
dauntless man under the heaviest fire, and one of the most efficient
sappers for conducting difficult work in the advances and in repairing

Two days later sergeant Jarvis was again in the trenches of the left
attack, having under him 3 sappers and 50 men draining the fourth
parallel and making banquettes for riflemen. Sailors were, for some
days, cutting a communication from the first parallel to No. 10 battery
in the second parallel, and sometimes, to carry on the approach
effectually, they turned miners and blew out patches of rock that
impeded them. Nothing was amiss to the men-o’-war’s men. In ship,
battery, and trench, they were alike English and welcome. Broad-backed,
mature, and potent, with beards that fell deep on their breasts, and
whiskers that nearly concealed their honest faces, it seemed as if some
difficulty would be felt in controlling their energies; but though they
defied in their exertions the set rules of procedure, none were more
easily led. Working for their own honour they were not jealous of any
fame which others might acquire; and knowing nothing of those bickerings
and rivallings which in other services often operate mischievously in
conducting an enterprise, they laid themselves out cordially to the
tasks, and toiled with as much interest and vigour under the engineers
and sappers as under their own officers. In ordinary works one sapper
was enough for their superintendence, and even when the boring and
blasting were in operation the number of overseers among them seldom
exceeded two. Indeed they were splendid fellows. Such is the testimony
of every sapper who had the pleasure to labour with them.

Going over to the right attack on the night of the 28th, the working
parties were seen pushing on in the advanced trenches so sedulously that
early developments were promised. Four sappers and forty men were in the
boyau stretching towards the Redan. Too light to approach by flying sap,
the overseers adopted the method of lodging one gabion and filling it
before staking another. In this way the trench was extended twelve
gabions. Next night the same number of workmen widened the trench and
improved its cover, while eight sappers fixed the gabions and reset
those which were occasionally capsized. Every step ahead was
treacherous, for the moon was high and clear, and constant vigilance was
needed to save the sappers from incautious exposure. To work in day-time
in so perilous a spot required bold spirits to make the venture. The
engineers would not order the linesmen into it: it was therefore left
for volunteers to choose the service. Only ten men offered, who at the
morning relief moved to the far front, and superintended by a sapper,
“worked well and steadily.” Passing on to the night of the 30th, eight
men of the corps were in the trench continuing it by flying sap. Fifteen
gabions were pitched and filled by them. Very hard was the soil: the
rock had to be split and rent from the ground for cover, while a heavy
fire of shot sometimes made gaps in the new parapet by overturning the
gabions. It was a night of toil to these ten sappers, and the result of
six hours’ patient perseverance only extended the boyau some thirty
feet. Eighty linesmen followed deepening and widening the trench. In the
night of the 31st eight sappers and ten of the line were again in the
Redan advance. So deadly was the approach considered, that the brave men
before entering it bade adieu to their comrades. Marvellous indeed it
seems that close as it was to the beleaguered defences so few casualties
were counted among the working parties. Ten gabions were that night
placed and filled by the brigade while the ten linesmen sunk the trench
and strengthened the parapet. This was recorded as very excellent

During the same period the new zigzag up the little ravine was steadily
advancing on the extreme left flank of the Redan. Major Campbell,
assistant engineer, had under his orders on the night of the 28th two
sappers and 30 men, who attended so well to their work, that besides
improving the trench 30 gabions were planted and made bullet-proof.
Fifty more were added the next night by four sappers; and 80 linesmen
filled them with stones, bread-bags, and loose earth, persisting in the
duty notwithstanding that two of their number were killed and four

The coolness of different detachments in the foremost trenches was
unaccountably dissimilar. Some, though in terrible danger, held by
particular enterprises with unrelaxed industry, while others at the
moment of alarm took refuge in flight. Many instances of both kinds have
been given; here follows another.

In the darkness of the 30th there was a mixed community of 62 linesmen
in the approach in charge of two sappers, who, as overseers, moved along
the exposed trace and staked nearly 50 gabions. The operation of filling
them was about to commence, when some twenty-five Russians, jumping in
at the head of the sap with a cheer, so terrified the working party and
sentries that they decamped in utter disorder, despite the efforts to
rally them of Captain Wolseley, assistant engineer. The trench, now left
to itself, was traversed in its whole length by the Russians, who
removed the unfilled gabions,threw down much of the finished sap, and
retreated, taking with them several muskets which had been left behind
by the timid workmen. “Shortly after this, Captain Pechell of the 77th,
at the head of a body of his men, rushed up the trench, drove the
Russians in from a small rifle-pit, and held it for the night.”[195] The
artillery fire from the Malakoff, and rattling discharges of musketry
from the ravine, occasioned twelve casualties among the workmen and
wounded Captain Wolseley severely in the face and leg. The two
sappers—privates B. Murray and Patrick Nelles—it is noted stood by their
captain to the last; but their steadiness behind the imperfect cover of
some overturned gabions—the one firing, the other working—had not the
effect of provoking the recreants to re-enter the trench.

It was an adventurous sap this, menaced at every point of its progress
by shells and Miniés, and checked by reiterated attacks of Russian
detachments, who, surging over the parapet, burst in the trench itself.
In the night of the 31st it was again assailed. Eight sappers and 50 men
of the line were allotted to extend the approach, with corporal Taylor
in charge. Sergeant Castledine was directed to superintend both
advances, but from necessity his exertions were chiefly confined to the
sap in question. He had been in this boyau before and knew its danger,
for he had seen as many as five shells blazing in it at one time.
Private John Bramley being the oldest sapper took the lead. He had to
place two gabions, and after filling them fall to the rear. Before,
however, completing his task, which was about half an hour after the
workmen had been distributed, the enemy—more than a company
strong—appeared on the high ground near some rifle-pits, and firing on
our sentries the latter hastily retired. As soon as they were calmed,
sergeant Castledine, by order of Captain Fraser of the 95th regiment,
who commanded in the sap, reposted them in the most desirable positions.
A desultory firing was kept up for a while without again alarming the
sentries or disturbing the labours of the trench; but when another
half-hour had elapsed the enemy suddenly pushed up the slope, attacked
the sentries, and driving them into the trench, the workmen and covering
party took fright and retreated in confusion. Castledine and private
McKellar of the ninth company, who were at the head of the sap, alone
stood firm; and before the enemy had approached too far, the sergeant
sent his steady assistant to recall the sappers from the fifth parallel,
into which they had hastened to recover their arms. At this moment a
sergeant of the 3rd Buffs, who had heard the firing, ran across the open
and voluntarily joined Castledine. In a few seconds the sapper brigade,
with that manly fellow McKellar in front, flew into the work, and with
this small force the sergeant bounded over the parapet, poured a volley
into the hesitating Russians, and then for two or three minutes, while
retiring to the sap, continued an independent discharge, which kept the
enemy at bay till the covering party, rallied by Captain Fraser,
returned and increased by its fire the efficiency of the defence. In the
struggle Captain Fraser, who had publicly acknowledged the valour of
sergeant Castledine, fell deeply wounded; the other officers were also
struck down, and the command of the parties now devolved on Castledine.
His force of character gained the noblest support from his brigade as
well as from the sergeant of the 3rd Buffs, and even held together the
young men who for the first time were entrusted with duty in so perilous
a sap. Though the fire of artillery and musketry was sharp enough to
make the stoutest hearts quiver, Castledine retained the trench and
resumed the work; but, as every missile that entered the sap drove the
workmen to their arms, very little resulted from energies so harassed
and so capriciously employed. Still, such was his high respect for
authority, the sergeant would not take on himself the responsibility of
ordering the workmen to retire, and so sending corporal Taylor to the
engineer officer—who was directing the progress of other works—he
requested permission to remove them. This was acceded to soon after
midnight, the party taking with them eleven of their comrades and three
of the four officers wounded. The sappers now had the run of the deadly
trench, and, undisturbed by the fears and clamours of timid men,
laboured with so much dexterity, that, by the hour of relief—two in the
morning—they had succeeded to admiration not only in strengthening a
portion of the old trench, but in resetting and filling sixteen of the
gabions capsized by the Russians the previous night.

Equally dangerous was the double sap forming the central communication
between the two foremost parallels on the left attack. Not without great
toil and watching was it completed. In aspect it bore a wild crenated
outline, as if the miners, in struggling to make a direct approach, were
so oppressed with difficulties that, defying the energy and capacity of
art, they were forced to make progress by running into sidings and
notches. The last gabion to connect the sap with the parallel was fixed
by corporal Lendrim. The whole way was broken up by mining, and the
planting of every gabion was attended with imminent risk. Stones blown
from the rock were built into the parapets and compacted with earth and
clay thrown among the blocks from sacks and bread-bags. So fierce at
times was the firing and so clear the moon, that the extension of the
trench throughout an anxious night was confined to the placement of only
four gabions. Some nights the sap was pushed ahead as much as ten yards,
which was regarded as an exemplary effort. “For every three gabions
fixed during the night two were knocked down at daylight by round shot;”
and not unfrequently one has been struck from the hands of the sapper
essaying to stake it. Such gaps and such violence sufficiently mark the
trials of the undertaking and account for its slow and wearying
progress. Up to the close of the siege the sap demanded the labour and
vigilance of small parties to patch up the broken revetments and replace
the shivered gabions. Never were there less than two sappers in this
zigzag; seldom fewer than 20 of the line.

Perhaps one of the hardest services during the whole operation was the
working of the fifth parallel on the left attack. Sweeping round the
brow of the hill, it dropped down the cliff towards the
_chevaux-de-frise_, and ended at a cave which served as a place of arms.
To the left it extended, with diminished cover, towards the direct
double sap. The boyau communicating with the right of the parallel was a
trench about forty yards long, and from the parallel itself issued
several small covered ways in advance, with pits at the extremities for
riflemen. No trace was followed in the execution of these lines; no
breadth, no width uniformly adhered to. All depended on the nature of
the obstacles encountered and the stern intricacies of the work, which,
giving rise to many deflexions to meet the broken contour of the ground,
resulted in a line of sap so irregular in form, as to require many stout
traverses and auxiliary cuttings and parapets to prevent certain parts
being raked and exposed to cross fires. The labour in executing it was
immense, for every inch of the way was driven through rock by the
irksome processes of boring and blasting. The hazards were unmitigated;
the firing at times terrific; but guided and managed by the experience
and judgment of corporal Paul—to whom was entrusted the superintendence
of the parallel and its branches—the casualties were so few as to excite
surprise. Only one man of the blasting party was killed in the parallel.
He was a brave and pushing miner of the 20th regiment. Seldom were less
than twenty mines fired in a day, frequently as many as forty. The
stones thus broken up were mostly worked into the parapets during the
night, but the facing of the work and the formation of the banquettes
were left for the miners to attend to in day-time. All the large stones
were employed for these purposes; and on one occasion, when building the
revetment in the portion of the parallel which descended the hill, one
huge block required the united strength of the overseer and the 20th man
to fix it firmly. It was a stubborn task, executed only by risking
danger; and at frequent intervals for nearly a quarter of an hour they
were exposed from the waist upwards in doing it. Immovably calm, always
fresh in vigour though constantly at work, a better overseer than Paul
could scarcely have been provided for difficult employment, and as a
consequence, his example—of zeal, perseverance, and coolness,
approaching even to placidity—had the best effect on his parties. So
wrapt up was he in the progress of the trench—indeed it was said he was
never happy out of it—that his comrades termed the work “Paul’s
parallel!” Let not this be an aggravation of the charge preferred in
jealousy and ill-feeling against the engineers, because certain works,
by common consent, were called after the names of engineer officers—now
memorable in history. In this case the application of the designation
was simply a sapper one; and if among his comrades who knew of his
soldierly qualities and exertions in that trench, which but for his care
would perhaps have become a human shambles, he was considered entitled
to this very natural honour, who will write an angry pamphlet and say
the distinction is unbecoming and should be borne by some one of another
corps? From the beginning of the siege he performed severe duties in the
front. Before his worth as a sterling sapper was known he was commonly
four or five nights in the trenches out of six, and was one of the
surest guides to the works when the positions and the roads to them were
as yet ill understood by the troops. Selected by Major Bent to be one of
his foremen of miners, he was daily in the saps from the middle of May.
His permanent duty commenced with the boyaux between the second and
third parallels and only terminated a day or two before the fall of
Sebastopol. So much for the bravery and spirit of a non-commissioned
officer, who, deserving great rewards, became a sergeant, received a
gratuity of 10_l._, a silver medal for “distinguished service in the
field,” and the proud decoration of the Legion of Honour.

Here it may be remarked that for all the foremost works only experienced
hands, upon whom reliance could be placed for qualification and
constancy, were selected to lead the work-men. Young soldiers lacking
strength and patience in toil and danger were unfitted for the hardships
and vicissitudes of the front. So scattered at times were the working
parties over the embarrassing meshes of trenches that a private of the
corps at different points of the works has been nominated to oversee two
small detachments of the line. Wanting rank as non-commissioned
officers, they were often resisted, and as supineness in the pioneers
sometimes followed, the service naturally suffered. In most cases,
however, the sapper privates gained the compliance of their men more by
their own earnest example and exertions than by any exercise of
authority. Corporals and sergeants frequently controlled the energies of
very heavy parties, but when they had any trying or dangerous works to
execute entailing the necessity of close observation and personal toil,
the workmen under them were usually limited in number. In the latest
weeks of the siege, sergeant Jarvis, who was almost daily in the
trenches, had with him a force of between forty and fifty men and three
or four sappers. His duties were then mostly confined to the fourth
parallel on the left, and included the drainage and repairs to
banquettes, traverses, and parapets. A firm soldierlike man, with strong
physical powers, his conduct throughout the siege in the execution of
hard and critical services attracted the notice of his officers, and his
bustling activity and usefulness, coupled with his bravery, gained him
the decoration of the Legion of Honour. Corporal Cray shared largely in
the concluding operations in mending and re-forming embrasures and
batteries, assisted sometimes by as many as eight sappers and fifty
workmen. His chief work in the trenches was overseeing the rebuilding of
No. 8 battery, left attack, so as to alter its line of fire; and the
creditable manner in which it was executed was recorded by Major Chapman
as one of the incidents of his brave and useful services in Bulgaria and
the Crimea. Corporal Hanson is also named in connection with services
discharged in 19 battery of the Chapman attack, in which, aided by two
sappers and fifty men, he mined the rock and thickened the parapet with
the stones thrown up in the blasts. These instances, officially
recorded, and, hence, here preserved, may be taken as the average
measure of command meted to non-commissioned officers of sappers in the
closing throes of this great struggle.

Between the 30th August and 2nd September the following casualties

 Left attack.—30th. Private Thomas A. Eccles—wounded severely in the
              31st. Private William Thompson—wounded slightly in right
 Right attack—2nd Sept. Lance-corporal Charles Bell } killed, while
              2nd   ”    Private John Morrison       } fixing the last
                           splinter proof timber to the magazine of No.
                           21 battery, by a shell—the first that
                           dropped there from the Malakoff. The former
                           was struck in the side; the latter in the
                           head, besides which a fragment shattered one
                           of his arms, and another exposed his bowels.
              2nd   ”   Private Joseph Fitzgerald—wounded dangerously;
                           his head was fractured by the blow of a
                           stone, which drove a portion of the peak of
                           his cap into his skull. Persevering and cool,
                           he was a man in whom dependence could be
                           placed for progress under difficulties; and
                           for his valiant conduct on the 26th August
                           was noticed in the orders of General Jones,
                           and rewarded by the Commander-in-Chief.

Early in September a small batch of sappers and linesmen fixed six
lengths of chevaux-de-frise in extension of the barricade across the
Woronzoff valley, and threw up a circular breastwork, issuing from the
trench on the right of No. 17 battery of the left attack to flank the
main road. An attempt was also spiritedly made to connect the two
attacks by running an arm across the ravine and up the hill from the
second parallel of the left attack to the right of the third. The
gabions laid for the purpose by the sappers were rapidly filled by the
line, and a few nights more would have witnessed the completion of the
communication, but ulterior events rendered further labour in that
trench unnecessary. In the fifth parallel, facing the Redan, two sappers
formed loop-holes, chiefly of bread-bags, at intervals along the entire
trench for light troops.

In the cemetery the gabionade being much shattered was quickly repaired.
A trench too was run out from that gloomy area, crested by a parapet
made up of the usual expedients; and the rude slabs and blocks which,
struck down and broken by shot and shell, lay confusedly over the
ground. Another was cleverly cut from the point where the double sap
joined the centre of the fifth parallel, and, descending the hill in a
backward sweep, connected with the approach from the cemetery. Two or
three brigades of sappers, working simultaneously at different parts of
the trench, fixed the gabions sometimes by the flying method, and at
others, when the firing was heavy, by the surer plan of completing the
cover before moving an inch in advance. One night at this sap corporal
Henry T. Stredwick had with him a half brigade of sappers who were
tasked to lodge and fill eighteen gabions, but the moment they began to
work a galling array of heavy projectiles opposed every foot of
progress. Repeatedly the gabions were capsized; full ones on two or
three occasions were blown from the trace, and the sappers knocked over
and buried under them. Even resolute men would have had ample excuse for
abandoning so murderous a spot; but regarding nothing as insuperable or
too hot, the sappers held obstinately to the work, and succeeded in
lengthening the trench by twelve gabions. A rifle-screen was partly
formed half way between the cemetery and the central communication to
the fifth parallel, and two old Russian pits, by a slight deviation,
were embodied in the sap. A gentle ridge being on the line of trace, the
sappers, too quick to calculate the inconvenience of their go-ahead
zeal, planted the gabions for the revetment nearly on its edge. Once
filled, the earth thrown up for the parapet fell down the slope, and no
end of bread-bags were emptied to gain cover. There was no remedy for
the defect but perseverance; and this being cheerfully yielded, a
tolerable mound in time had risen, which outvied in strength with the
contiguous parapets. The work was chiefly done at night; the darkness
was great, the firing incessant. Varied was the progress; sometimes as
few as nine or ten gabions were fixed, at others as many as twenty-four.
This was looked upon as excellent work, and St. Jacques of Monzon
himself might have been proud, to share in such success. Steadily was
the trench pushed on, and in a few days it was numbered among the
finished formations.

In the night of the 2nd it was intended to open a screen in advance of
the white rifle-pit on the right attack. Two officers of engineers
reconnoitred the ground, attended by a volunteer party carrying tools
and gabions. Being perceived, the enemy’s pickets plied them with so hot
a fire they were compelled to make a hurried retreat, while the men who
were struck bore on as best they could with gashing wounds; but one poor
fellow, more deeply injured than the rest, was left on the field.
Indisposed to yield their comrade, sergeant Newman of the 62nd led back
six men, one of whom was private McNamara of the sappers, to search for
the missing man and recover the abandoned tools; but another volley of
hissing bullets drove them in haste to the sap. Yet again did these men
offer their services to renew the search; but as the moon had newly
risen, rendering distant objects visible, the engineers wisely declined
to permit an exploit which in all probability would have sacrificed the
entire party. For his spirited conduct the sergeant received a present
of three sovereigns from General Simpson.

Passing on to the night of the 4th, there were 17 sappers in the
trenches on the left, and 32 on the right. Those on the left were
distributed in 17 and 19 batteries, and the circular breastwork,
flanking the Woronzoff ravine; a few also were in the cemetery, and
others in the excavation leading down the hill to it. Of this small
party two were wounded: private John Boyce severely in the eye, and
second-corporal Charles Phillips, “a most zealous and active
non-commissioned officer,” in both arms. The left was broken above the
elbow by a grape-shot, and though subsequently cured without amputation,
a frightful limb was left, withered, rigid, and useless. He had been
working during the early night in the double sap with Mooney and
Lancaster, two first-class sappers, from which he was removed by
Lieutenant Neville to complete the screen spotted half-way between the
cemetery and the sap to the fifth parallel. He had with him four men of
the 57th regiment. As the screen was small, and barely permitted the
little batch to move in it, the corporal jumped from the hole, and
directed their exertions on the open slope. He also withdrew one of the
privates, and soon after on came the grape, inflicting the injuries
described and striking the hilt from the bayonet of his comrade.

Boyce had missed his way and wandered with his men into the double sap.
Corporal Phillips happening to be there at the time, instructed him how
to rectify his course. The route was one of risk, for the trench down
the hill had only been cut in parts. Sooner than retrace his steps, and
thus obtain the cover necessary to protect him, he shot across the open
at the head of his men, and luckily reached the spot to which he had
been appointed without casualty. The injury to his eye occurred soon

The sappers on the right were chiefly in the advance works, extending
the trenches by flying saps. That on the Redan was prolonged 31 gabions,
which were all loaded with earth and stones; and the other up the little
ravine had 36 gabions staked, but only 16 filled. The moon now appearing
put an end to the onward flight of the sappers, who when withdrawn into
safer cover brought with them the body of Captain Anderson of the 31st
regiment, assistant engineer, who was killed while directing the
approach to the Redan. Few, indeed, left those perillous saps without a
scar, or a shot-hole in their garments. “From the heavy fire maintained
on the head of our sap,” wrote General Simpson, under this date, “the
progress made has been slow, and accompanied, as must be expected, by
several casualties among the sappers and working parties.”

At the morning relief of the 5th there were 53 sappers and 41 line
miners in the left trenches from five to nine o’clock, and 17 from three
to seven in the evening, who placed the batteries in substantial order
for the intended cannonade, and completed the splinter-proof hut for the
surgeons in the first parallel. To-day commenced the sixth bombardment,
very warmly by the French, less so by the English, who only discharged
periodical shells at the Redan and Garden batteries. Brisk as was the
fire from the Russians, only one man of the working party, out of about
three hundred men, was killed on the left, viz., lance-corporal Richard
Pinch—a very useful sapper, who had been wounded on the 26th July.

On the right there were 16 sappers employed all day in superintendence,
chiefly in the deadly saps. A few were also scattered singly to No. 18
and the batteries in the first and second parallels, restoring
embrasures and revetments. Two or three were finishing the doctors’ hut
in the quarries, a like number plugged up shot-holes in the parapets,
and three others were founding a new battery—No. 22, near Egerton’s
pit—to open on the left flank of the Redan. With singular good fortune,
only one casualty occurred among the workmen in the right attack,
although a fire of average steadiness dismounted a gun in No. 17;
knocked down the embrasures of No. 14, and damaged two or three

Night came on, and 32 sappers with 400 linesmen poured into the Gordon
trenches, and half the number were detailed for the Chapman lines. Both
parties were on duty for six hours, confining their exertions, in great
part, to the renovation of the embrasures, merlons, and magazines. The
front saps were still perseveringly advanced. Sixteen gabions were added
to that advancing towards the Redan; and the unfilled ones, lodged the
previous night near the little ravine, were crammed with earth in
sand-bags brought from the rear. What was most unusual, not a shot or
shell entered the saps during the darkness, and freed from this
annoyance the workmen added much to the solidity of the trench. No. 22
was rapidly rising amid the general restorations, and while the chasms
produced by driving shot and bursting shells were being filled up with
the readiest contrivances, the battered magazines stood up with stronger
roofs and stouter stanchions.

The effect of our fire was visible in the burning of a line-of-battle
ship in the harbour, which threw out sheets of flame of such breadth and
intensity, that the Russian works were wholly illuminated. Its magazines
blew up, one after another, its shotted guns exploded, and in time the
huge timbers which formed its ribs and walls were burnt to the water’s
edge. Some storehouses on the west side of the dockyard creek also took
fire, and blazed away till they had collapsed into ruins. These
calamities did not in the least check the vigour of the besieged; the
usual firing was kept up but with insignificant results. Not a man on
the left was injured; and this shows what an outlay of treasure,
endurance, and courage it costs to take at long ranges a single life.
Private James Chesterman, on the right attack, was wounded slightly.

Two old acquaintances who had not met for years chanced in the early
night, as the darkness was falling, to recognize each other in the
quarries. Each grasped the other’s hand, and while engaged in an
animated greeting, with the warm smile of welcome on their lips, a
round-shot struck off both their heads! The friends were sergeants
William Wilson of the corps and Morrison of the royal artillery. A
genuine Scotchman was Wilson, with an accent as provincial as a
Highlander. Thick-set, well knit, and athletic, he was formed for the
hardships of labour. His composure under fire was remarkable; of danger
he knew nothing. Among detachments of the corps he was the spirit of the
trench, and moved about the lines and batteries with the same air of
tranquillity as in a workshop. As a sapper few were more excellent, few
more apt and bold in situations of difficulty, peril, and surprise than
he. Throughout the siege he scarcely ever missed his turn in the front.
If counted up, it would be found there were not many in the corps who
had passed as many _months_ in the trenches as Wilson. Safe and
reliable, he was greatly in requisition by his officers. When new
approaches were to be opened or new batteries constructed, Wilson, if
not more importantly employed, was mostly deputed to start them. Indeed,
of the execution of many he had the charge, and the tact he exercised in
the arrangement of his working parties was something extraordinary. For
many weeks of the concluding operations he was rarely away from the
trenches, and had he lived, his brilliant services would have put him in
the possession of the highest honours it belonged to his class to wear.
That non-commissioned officer must have been a valuable public servant,
when testimonies like the following—written under feelings of sorrow and
sadness for his loss—became records of his merits:—

  “I regret much,” wrote Lieut.-Colonel Chapman to Sir Harry Jones, on
  the 6th, “to have to report that sergeant Wilson of the first company
  royal sappers and miners was killed in the quarries by a round-shot
  yesterday evening.

  “Frequently commended, and not long ago promoted for his distinguished
  conduct during the progress of the siege, this excellent sergeant of
  sappers has earned the esteem not only of three successive directors
  of the right attack, but also of every officer under whom he has done

  “Always ready for whatever he might be called upon in the severe
  weather of last winter; ever foremost at the point of danger, he has
  left to the young soldiers of the corps an example of devotion to the
  service which they may do well to emulate.”

This was the opinion of an officer who had a thousand opportunities, in
the different phases of the siege, of taking the measure of this
exemplary non-commissioned officer. A reflex of this commendation found
its place in the brigade-orders of the 6th September in these words:—

  “The corps of royal sappers and miners has lost in the late sergeant
  Wilson a non-commissioned officer distinguished for his conduct
  throughout the siege; ever foremost in danger and respected by the
  various officers of royal engineers under whom he served in the

  “Such an example is worthy of imitation by the young soldiers of the
  corps, whose reputation must always be increased while numbering among
  its members individuals like the late sergeant Wilson.

                                           “By order,
                                     (Signed)      “E.F. BOURCHIER.”

Such was Wilson.


Footnote 195:

  ‘Nav. and Mil. Gaz.,’ September 15, 1855.

                      6th September-9th September.
                          SIEGE OF SEBASTOPOL.

State of the batteries—The foremost saps—Repairs to embrasures while
  opposed by blinding dust driven through the trenches by a fierce
  wind—Distribution in the trenches—No. 22 battery—Final attack of the
  Redan and the Malakoff—Names of the sapper storming party—Their brave
  and steady demeanour and exertions—Escapes of corporal Baker—Valour of
  private Bowman—Casualties—Continuation of the foremost saps—Daring
  adventure of corporal Ross—His report leads to the bloodless
  occupation of the Redan—Conduct of the corps in the siege—Captain

With no abatement of activity the works progressed on the 6th. The sap
on the Redan had 60 men working in it, and extra efforts were given to
build No. 22 battery on the right. In both attacks there were 58
sappers, 32 of whom were carpenters. The embrasures were put in as fresh
a state as possible; the platforms were in good condition; the magazines
and traverses tolerably sound, and even the early batteries, whose age
and decrepitude gave reason to expect their fall, looked up with more
firmness than was warranted by their seared complexion and feebleness.
Broken and hollowed, as if water-courses had worn their faces, the best
that could be done was to bolster them up to stand a share of the fire
from day to day. Sand-bags were filled in great numbers during the
night, and eight sappers cut new embrasures in No. 13 battery, and
patched up its shivered parapets and merlons. Forty men of the 14th
regiment passed the materials to the sappers, and exerted themselves
with so much spirit that the work was nearly finished. “Great credit,”
says Captain Nicholson of the engineers, “is due to them and also to the
sappers who directed them.”

At eight in the evening 34 sappers were pushed into the right lines, and
16 into those of the left, who were generally employed in restoring the
bombarding batteries, several of which had been greatly injured during
the day; some of the merlons were also damaged, and there were gaps in
different parts of the revetments. Nearly all the repairs and reforms
had been executed before the parties quitted at two in the morning. The
few embrasures which could not be completed were masked, to protect the
sappers who might be allotted to the work next day.

In the fiery sap on the Redan there were 2 sappers and 40 of the 90th
regiment, by whose exertions twenty-five gabions were added to the
trench, which was, moreover, strengthened where necessary, and backed up
with earth. The approach now began to curve to the left, and thus to
form the starting-point of the sixth parallel. The head of the sap
turned into an indurated vein, which, from the difficulty of moving it,
augmented the fatigues of the men. Crowbars and picks driven into chinks
partially loosened the rock, which, broken up into fragments, was piled
into the parapet. All worked with so much zeal that notice was taken of
their services, and corporal John Wright and private Bernard Murray were
named to General Simpson for their personal labours and effective
superintendence. During its progress a light-ball fell very near the
sap, which exhibited its whole outline. Every head was sunk below the
revetment in an instant, and as the flaming compound was speedily
extinguished by earth thrown on it from the parapet, not a man was

In the right approach near the little ravine there were two sappers and
about 50 men. Its prolongation was by flying sap, but its progress was
exceedingly tedious. Eleven gabions were staked, but nine only filled.
So true was the work in range, that the party shelled out had to take
refuge in securer trenches, bringing with it four men wounded. Not only
had the workmen to bear a direct fire, and to be disturbed and
interrupted by light-balls, but to suffer from accidents arising from
shot and shell rebounding from the hill-side, and rolling in all their
fury into the sap beneath.

Six sappers in the 21-gun battery repaired each an embrasure, all of
which were in a very shattered state. Fierce and gusty was the wind at
midnight, collecting the dust and light sand in its vortex, and blowing
it in the faces of the workmen. The trenches were swept as if a
hurricane were passing. Difficult to hold up against an annoyance of
this kind, the progress made in every direction was, nevertheless,
satisfactory. “I may,” writes Lieutenant Ranken, who was the engineer on
duty for the right attack, “take this opportunity of reporting very
favourably of the manner in which the sappers and men employed in
repairing the embrasures of the batteries performed their work, in spite
of a high wind and blinding dust;” and Sir Harry Jones, in seconding the
commendation, thus wrote to the Commander-in-chief, “I should recommend
that notice be taken in general orders of the conduct of the sappers and
90th regiment.”

On the 7th, 55 sappers remained a long day of fourteen hours under fire.
On the right the linesmen were relieved four times; on the left twice in
the day. The carpenters, 16 in number, were chosen men under sergeant
Leitch, the master-carpenter of the right attack, who had been daily in
the trenches from the end of June. With energy never before surpassed
they laid four gun platforms in No. 22 battery and built there a
magazine, as well as one in the quarries for small-arm ammunition. In
the following night there was a similar force of sappers at work, who,
having had an ample supply of sand-bags and gabions, made good all the
breaches in the embrasures and parallels. Accustomed to encounter
danger, they worked steadily and manfully, as if the point of hazard and
duty were the place of safety. The distribution of the workmen on the
right attack was as follows:—

                                        Sappers. Line.
                   No. 22 battery           4     60
                   Magazine in quarries     1     10
                   Fifth parallel           6    160
                   Repairing embrasures    14     70
                   Sap on Redan             4     80
                                           ——    ———
                   Total                   29    380
                                           ——    ———

The working party and sappers on the left, were confined in great part
to the bombarding batteries.

No. 22 battery was completed during the night, its embrasures opened,
ramps cut and guns brought into it; but this formation, pushed on with
so much zeal, was never armed. Near Egerton’s pit it stood, the creation
of many hours’ strenuous toil, as impotent as a ruin.

The sap leading to the Redan was improved in cover by heaping sand-bags
on the gabions. It had been run out about 600 feet, and stopped 197
yards from the salient. As far as it went it was complete, and
banquettes were built along its length as also in the fifth parallel for
sharpshooters. A hundred men of the Highland brigade built the steps, of
old casks, broken gabions, and fascines, under private George Harvey,
whose spirit and steadiness never relaxed for the eighteen hours he was
on trench duty. Nothing was left undone to be ready for an attack, which
it was arranged should take place the following morning.

Next day—8th September—17 sappers and 50 men of the infantry were in the
left works, mending the breaches as they occurred in battery and trench;
and one man of the corps was wounded. No working party was given for the
night attack, as the assault on the Redan by the English, and the
Malakoff by the French, was ordered to take place at midday. A number of
scaling ladders had been carried to the sap approaching the salient
during the preceding night, and all the engineering details for the
storming were fully prepared by daybreak.

For the assault a column from the second and light division was formed
as under:—

 Covering party        200— to keep down the fire from the enemy’s
 Armed party           320— to carry and place ladders, with 21 sappers
                              under Lieut. Ranken, R.E.
 Main body of assault 1000
 Armed working party   200— with entrenching tools under Captain Sedley,
                              R.E., to follow when a lodgment had been
 Supports             1500
 Gunners                20— under an officer with spikes to spike guns,
                              or turn them if necessary.
 Additional supports  3000— drawn up in 3rd parallel, in communication
                              with the French right attack, and in the
                              middle ravine.

The whole were under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir William
Codrington and Major-General Markham, but the storming party was
directed by Brigadier-General Windham. Sir Harry Jones, the chief
engineer, though suffering from an attack of sciatica, and barely
recovered from his wound, was borne to the sap on a litter to witness
the assault.

Three days’ incessant firing had considerably injured the enemy’s works,
and loosened the whole fabric of the lines; but the guns of the Redan
and various batteries, peeping from beneath strong rope mantlets, triply
plied and tarred, were still serviceable. The apertures through which
the missiles were disgorged—small as possible for the purpose—were
further blinded by a tarred rope disc matted round the muzzle of the gun
just in front of the trunnions, which interposed between the sight of
the English riflemen in the trenches and the unseen gunners in the
Redan. Ragged and deformed as were the batteries, they, nevertheless,
bore up with veteran fronts, and as but few of the Russian artillery
were silent, it was expected that the resistance would be obstinate.

At twelve o’clock the French, emerging from their saps—which were about
20 yards from the edge of the Malakoff ditch—bounded into the tower and
the little Redan. With a display of heroism which befitted their ancient
prestige they captured the Malakoff; but though the little Redan was
penetrated by a portion of the column, it was met by a solid mass of the
enemy, which sprang on the allies with a fierceness so irresistible it
was in vain they contended; and a few minutes more saw them hastily
retreating to their lines. Meanwhile the attack on the tower proceeded
with desperate violence. Few struggles for triumph were more determined
and terrific. At last the Malakoff was won; but the achievement cost a
shuddering sacrifice of the best troops of the Emperor.

Now came the signal for the English to advance. When the column knew
that the French had conquered, excitement was at its highest, and eager
to show how the Redan could be captured, the skirmishers vaulted
unexpectedly over the parapet from the advance saps before the party
with the ladders had time to debouch from the head of the trench. This
was an anxious moment for Lieutenant Ranken. Equal, however, to the
difficulty, he run out the sappers, carrying crowbars, axes, and a few
intrenching tools, with all speed to the front, and flew on with the
foremost ladders under a close fire of musketry and grape. The distance
between the gorge of the sap and the ditch at the salient was 197 yards,
and in striding on with the ladders across the open slope many a brave
man fell. Nevertheless there was no halting, for the stormers were
selected for the duty on account of their approved courage; and the
column pressed on to the abbattis, which was instantly trodden down or
pulled aside by the foremost men with as much ease as if the boughs had
been faggots of sticks. Through the gaps the assailants pushed, followed
unswervingly by the leading ladders, each 24 feet long, which were
quickly planted against the counterscarp of the ditch, the height of
which was barely 15 feet. The first one was planted by sergeant Leitch
and private Harris, and the latter was the first man to descend by it
into the ditch. Scrambling down, many tumbling headlong from the surge
behind and many more in the heat of desire jumping into the moat, the
stormers quickly tossed the ladders across to the escarp, up which
ascended a stream of daring fellows into the body of the work. So
skilfully were the ladders placed around the salient, that the troops in
sinking into the ditch or climbing into the Redan were but little
exposed to the flanking fire of its faces. The first portions of the
column moved on steadily to the attack, but succeeding parties running
to the head of the sap were so blown, they waited for a few minutes to
recover breath. This done, they started in fitful batches, assailed by a
withering _mitraille_. No longer in the orderly formations which
characterize the battle-field, the troops in independent groups or
sections reached the ditch, where, swelling around the salient, they
dived into the fossé, and ascended or descended the ladders, as the
events in the Redan fed their courage or starved their ardour. General
Windham, whose valour and marvellous escapes on that day have astonished
Europe, made his way into the place with some 80 or 100 men, but such
was the virulence of the fire, such the carnage, a few only of the bold
men who had had the temerity to mount the parapet could be induced,
though the General himself walked amid the deadly storm, to rush from
the traverse behind which they had shielded themselves.

Meanwhile the sappers, one of whom was appointed to every two ladders,
after assisting to rear them in the most secure and advantageous
situations, were collected by Lieutenant Ranken and set to work to form
a practicable entrance into the Redan by means of a ramp. Wherever else
their discipline failed, here it was perfect; and not a pulse of fear
seemingly beat in any breast. Earth for the ascent was tumbled from the
parapet above by a few of the party. Harris was the foremost sapper.
Under a horrible fire he bravely tried to dig himself down behind the
escarp revetment in order to push the gabions into the ditch, but the
soil had been so strongly tamped, and was otherwise so solid with shot
and shell which had poured into it from the breaching batteries that he
gave up the attempt, and employed himself in efforts which, though they
promised less, were in the end more certain of success. At this time
there was only one shovel with the party; the few intended to come up
with it had failed through casualties and accident. The hulk of the
tools were with the lodgment party still in rear. Much depended on the
use of this one shovel, but it was soon shattered to atoms in the hands
of the workman, private Oldham.

The earth was now literally pushed from the parapet, and a rough incline
in a few minutes was executed. So easy indeed was the ascent by this
simple means, that the stormers rushed up the slope, steep and yielding
as it was, in preference to climbing the ladders. As the workmen,
waiting for the signal to advance had not yet come up, Lieutenant Ranken
now appointed his sappers, aided by a few men of the assaulting column,
to throw up a breastwork to the left of the salient across the ditch, to
counteract the raking fire of the enemy. Well was it that the moat was
only eight feet broad. Had it been a yard or two more the service might
have been attended with a sacrifice of life appalling to contemplate.
Gabions and fascines and boughs of trees and small rough timbers which
had been used as binders by the Russians, were torn by some strong and
impetuous sappers from the face and crest of the counterscarp to form
the caponnière. Earth too was thrown on the rising mound from the
parapets above, and the gabions, by extraordinary zeal, were loaded with
sand and stones dislodged from the revetment and grubbed up from the bed
of the ditch. In this way partial cove was obtained, but it was yet too
shallow to protect the troops from the sharp peals of musketry which
poured up the fossé. For about twenty minutes the work was persevered in
when the impossibility of proceeding, temporarily suspended its

By this time a working party of fifty men of the 77th regiment arrived.
No signal for advancing had been given to them, for the almost hopeless
state of affairs in the Redan did not warrant the step; but corporal
Baker, a trustworthy sapper of known intrepidity and judgment, properly
anticipating there would be occasion for the services of a working
party, led the detachment to the salient, and driving into the ditch was
soon engrossed in the construction of a caponnière across its bottom, a
little on the right of the salient. While these engineering details were
being stubbornly executed, the troops in the Redan, vainly waiting for
two hours to seize an opportunity to dash into the town, many falling in
the stand they had made around the traverse, commenced the retreat. With
it retired the working party, the ladder-men and sappers; and in passing
the open—till the gorge of the foremost sap was reached—so hot was the
fire upon the repulsed stormers, that the ground was covered with
slaughtered hundreds.

The names of the storming party of sappers were—

 Sergeant Peter Leitch               2nd —wounded severely in the head.
 Corporal James Curgenven           10th
 2nd corporal David S. Osment        1st
 Lance-corporal William Baker        7th
 Private John Stephens               1st
    ”    David Boyd                  1st
    ”    William Bennett             1st
    ”    Peter Delany                1st
    ”    Thomas Whyte                1st
    ”    David Carswell              1st —wounded dangerously in the head,
                                           died 18th September, 1855.
    ”    John T. Harris              2nd
    ”    Samuel Hammett              2nd —wounded by grape-shot in left
                                           leg, and while hobbling back to
                                           the 21-gun battery, was killed
                                           in the trenches by a round-shot,
                                           which carried away his head.
    ”    James Broad                 7th
    ”    James Aitcheson             7th —wounded slightly in the right
    ”    Christopher Digweed         9th
    ”    John Whitford               9th
    ”    William Clark               9th
    ”    John Oldham                 9th
    ”    John Wotherspoon           10th
    ”    Peter Ruthven              10th
    ”    Robert Garrett             10th

“The sappers,” writes Lieutenant Ranken, “all behaved well and exerted
themselves in carrying out my orders to the best of their power.” He
then proceeds, “I beg especially to call your attention to the conduct
of sergeant Leitch who was wounded, and corporal Curgenven who, with
privates Harris and Wotherspoon were up with the leading ladders and who
worked hard in pulling down gabions and placing and filling them
according to my instructions, and of lance-corporal Baker who came up
subsequently with the working party of the 77th, and who showed
coolness, zeal, and activity in executing my orders.”

Singular were the escapes of corporal Baker. A musket-ball passed
through his cap carrying it a few yards in his rear, and another bullet
knocking both heads out of his water-bottle struck him in the hip as if
a stone had been thrown at him. Had it not been that his canteen was
full of water, the ball in all probability would have inflicted a
dangerous wound.

It is not often that men who have but little hope of distinction before
them, voluntarily undertake a supererogatory service, in venturing which
is likely to subject them to the penalties of martial law. Such however
was the case with private John Bowman of the first company who was of
great height and strength, intrepid and useful. He had been sentry over
the tools in the quarries; but when the signal for the advance was given
he quitted his post without orders. In passing to the front he saw
Captain Sedley of the engineers in the fifth parallel severely wounded.
Tendering his assistance he placed his strong arm round the body of the
captain and holding him up by the waist-belt supported him to the rear,
where he left him in care of a few men who bore him to the camp.
Impatient to share in the assault, he now ran through the trenches, and
on his way to the Redan accoutred himself with the arms and appointments
of a slain linesman. With all haste he joined Lieutenant Ranken and
ascended the parapet, where, after firing for a time and throwing heavy
stones with his strong arm at any Russians who dared to show themselves;
he was killed. He fell on the crest of the work and then pitched
headlong into the ditch followed by a mass of earth which crushed him
beneath it.

That so few casualties occurred among the sappers of the storming party
is attributable to the manner in which Lieutenant Ranken directed the
placement of the ladders. More serious however were the casualties in
the batteries and parallels. Those struck in the trenches were—

Lance-corporal John Fulton[196]—wounded severely in the left hand by the
          splinter of a shell, whilst in the fifth parallel.

Private William Brine—killed in front of the 21-gun battery. Was struck
          in both arms, and also disembowelled.

   ”    Edward Lewis—right arm shot off—amputation was performed in the
          trenches, and repeated a few days after in the camp. Died 18th

   ”    John Gregory—wounded dangerously in the back. Died 17th Sept.

   ”     Jesse Head—wounded severely in the back.

The assault having failed, Captain Montagu, who was in command of the
royal engineer department for the day, employed in the afternoon the
sappers and working party at his disposal, in continuing the right
advance sap in the direction of a rifle pit which this day’s operations
had embraced in the British circumvallation. So wearied and stricken
were the Russians by their exertions and losses that they permitted the
approach to proceed unmolested.

In the night of the 8th no sappers were told off to the left attack, but
thirty-six non-commissioned officers and men were distributed to the
lines on the right. Three sappers in charge of one hundred men of the
42nd Highlanders were thrown into the right advanced sap and prolonged
it by staking and filling one hundred gabions, in which they were only
slightly interrupted by the enemy. The remainder of the brigades and
working parties bustling among the parallels and batteries, repaired the
embrasures, merlons, and platforms. Corporal John Ross was in charge of
a party mending the embrasures of the quarry battery.

While these services were in progress fires broke out in several places
in Sebastopol, and magazines blew up which cast at intervals over the
doomed fortress a dismal glare of illumination, which was again deadened
by clouds of thick smoke hanging heavily in the air. Conceiving that
these were the throes of a general wreck, indications in fact of the
desperation with which the enemy was resigning his stronghold, corporal
John Ross who has more than once been noticed for his bravery at the
siege, went forward to test the accuracy of his surmises and search for
two missing sappers who had been left behind in the retreat. It was a
beautiful night, mild and starlight. Four or five explosions had just
taken place, which in the corporal’s view were ominous of the grave
events transpiring in the fortress. As it was not usual to interfere
with the sappers in the trenches go where they would, Ross had no
trouble to pass the pickets and sentries in the fifth parallel, and a
few more paces found him in the last approach. An artillery officer was
there looking earnestly over the parapet, but the corporal moved
silently along stepping over the bodies of the wounded, who in numbers
had crawled into the trench after the failure. Inquiring hastily whether
they had observed any Russian pickets lately, he was told they had been
withdrawn early in the night. “Have you seen any wounded sapper lying
outside?” he asked. “One straight to the front under the abattis,” was
the reply of an infantry man who had witnessed his struggles. With this
information Ross went on. It was about a quarter-past twelve o’clock
when he issued from the outlet of the sap and directed his course to the
Redan. The dead were strewn thickly on the open, and the wounded were
writhing helplessly. When near the abattis another mine was sprung in
the fortress. Ross stopped, for the coolest minds in extreme danger
hesitate to make an useless venture. The bursting of magazines and the
blowing up of forts and fortifications impressed him with the necessity
of caution; and lying still in a momentary reverie, he was again shook
into activity by falling stones from the explosions. On his hands and
knees over torn ground, cannon balls, fragments of shells, and
decomposing remains, he crept noiselessly on. Under the abattis he found
his comrade private Carswell and a sergeant of the rifles. The meeting
in such a spot was hurried, but as cordial as friendship and imminent
hazard could make it. A few interrogatories and answers were
interchanged which verified the report relative to the withdrawal of the
Russian outposts. “That’s well,” said Ross, calmly. “I’m going into the
Redan, and if all goes right I shall be back directly and have you taken
to camp.” With them Ross left his flask of rum and water, and moved
away. “Thanks—God speed you!” reached his ears in whispers as he glided
ahead cheered by the hope that Providence, which had hitherto
miraculously saved him from hurt or harm, would extend to him in this
adventure the same gracious protection. As the distance between him and
the fortress lessened his daring increased, and without a tremor to
disturb the firmness of his purpose, he found himself at the brink of
the ditch. For a short time he lay and listened. Russians might have
been there plundering the dead and alarming the dying, but not a soul
was astir. Hearing nothing but the groans of the wounded, he slid into
the fossé, clambered up the escarp by the ramp made during the storming,
and entered the jaws of a broken embrasure on the right of the salient
of the Redan. The gun was there but no artillerymen. Yet he pressed his
ear in the direction of the interior to discover, if possible, the
footsteps of the gunners or the sound of voices. All was silent, and
with a burglar’s creep, soft and wary but determined, he gained the neck
of the aperture. At either side he looked, but nothing started up to
show that the batteries were occupied. He looked ahead with straining
eyes and onwards; still, nothing could he see but huge broken works, and
streams of light shooting from burning buildings. All indeed was quiet
save the crackling timbers in the distance, the booming of mines and the
falling of houses. The Redan, that furnace of the siege, was indeed
deserted and desolate! Being alone and unarmed Ross did not descend into
the place to invite a conflict with concealed prowlers; and so after
keeping watch for a few minutes in the withered embrasure, he quitted
the opening while tongues of lurid flame jetting from clouds of heavy
smoke, enabled him to pick his way from the battery without treading on
wounded men struggling in dissolution. Charged with the possession of
important intelligence he ran across the open, recovering himself with
strange celerity as he dropped into shell holes or tripped against
obstacles that encumbered the ground; and moving with almost winged
haste to the engineer hut, he reported, about a quarter to one o’clock,
the result of his self-imposed mission to Captain De Moleyns of the

The Redan evacuated! This was news indeed, and the captain with a young
subaltern, Lieutenant Dumaresq, strode away to authenticate by a
personal visit to the Redan the corporal’s report. He was also
accompanied by sergeant Landrey, corporal Ross and a few sappers, who
were joined in the fifth parallel by some men of the line. On the way
the corporal pointed out his wounded comrade and the rifleman. Over the
first Ross placed his greatcoat, and Lieutenant Dumaresq took off his
peacoat and spread it over the sergeant; at the same time a few of the
privates were despatched to the trenches for stretchers. The little band
now shot on briskly to the salient. Ross and a line sergeant were in
front. When the ditch was gained the party pushed into it, and quickly
ascending the escarp by the ramp, they drove through an embrasure into
the interior, where, seeing a Russian, the sergeant of the line sprang
on him, and seized him as his prisoner. No time was lost by the officers
in making a reconnaissance of the place; all sorts of dimensions were
taken and a mental inventory of its peculiarities treasured up. Between
five and ten minutes the adventurers were in the body of the work, and
as explosions were going off every few minutes, the debris from which
was falling on them, it was considered wise to return. Ross brought away
with him two Russian musquets, the first trophies from the Redan. With a
generosity equal to his bravery he gave one to Captain De Moleyns and
the other to Lieutenant Dumaresq. On the way back the party sought the
wounded men, and as the stretchers had not arrived, Ross bore away poor
Carswell and Landrey the rifle sergeant. Of the gallant demeanour of
these non-commissioned officers, Captain De Moleyns spoke commendably.
The corporal’s report, first received with incredulity, was now
satisfactorily affirmed, and General Simpson, who had intended to renew
the assault at daybreak, gave orders for the re-occupation of the place.
At the dawn of the 9th the troops marched unchecked into the Redan and
took possession of the two towns which the enemy had evacuated.[197]

“Throughout this long and arduous siege,” wrote Sir Harry Jones on the
9th, “the royal sappers and miners have invariably performed the duties
required of them in a highly satisfactory manner. Many have been
conspicuous for their bravery and coolness under fire. Their names I
brought under the notice of the Commander of the Forces, who was pleased
to reward them according to the nature of the case.

“The duties of the Adjutant to the royal sappers and miners,” adds the
General, “have been very efficiently performed by Captain Ewart, who has
devoted his best energies to the men.”

In the order issued by the Commander-in-Chief, when the occupation of
the Redan had become a settled event, occurs this passage:—

“General Simpson avails himself of this opportunity to congratulate and
convey his warmest thanks to the general officers, officers, and
soldiers of the several divisions, to the royal engineers and artillery,
for their cheerful endurance of almost unparalleled hardships and
sufferings, and for the unflinching courage and determination which, on
so many trying occasions, they have evinced.”

So ended a conflict carried through a period of 337 days made up of a
freezing winter and a wasting summer. The trenches were nearly nine
miles long, and counted 22 batteries on the right and 20 on the left,
which, for the final assault, were armed with 116 guns and 85 mortars.
In the formation of the works no less than 20,000 gabions, 4,000
fascines, 340,000 sand-bags, 7,413 bread-bags, and a hundred different
extemporized expedients had been employed to give them shape and
solidity. Some of them were of colossal magnitude and master-pieces of
field art. Rearing such formidable structures in rocky ground, amid
hardships and catastrophes, harassed by sorties, surprises, and alarms,
and opposed by tempests of shell and shot, grape, canister, and Miniés,
were exploits of toil and constancy, the lustre of which can never be
lessened by any example which history may offer as a parallel; and when
it is considered that the works were run up by men overworked and
wearied, oppressed by sickness, privation, and difficulties, and carried
on in the presence of an enemy teeming with numbers, inspired by
religious fanaticism, and protected by a stupendous array of works
backed by an arsenal exhaustless in siege appliances, in artillery, and
the engines of war, a day may come when it will be the fashion of the
world to speak less of the military achievements of old Greece and Rome,
but more of those of England and France.


Footnote 196:

  When lying wounded, sergeant-major Jamieson passed him. “Well,
  sergeant-major,” said he, holding up his shattered hand, “this will
  ruin Chelsea Hospital!” meaning, in a satirical sense, that the
  _extravagant_ pension he would receive would throw the hospital into a
  state of insolvency. He was discharged from the corps with a pension
  of eightpence a-day.

Footnote 197:

  Sir Harry Jones, in his report of the 9th September, thus wrote of the
  corporal’s exploit:—“General Simpson determined to renew the assault
  at daybreak the following morning, but during the night a corporal of
  sappers conceiving that the enemy had retired from the Redan, crept
  forward and ascertained such to be the case; as soon as this
  information was received, orders were sent to re-occupy the Redan.”

                9th September, 1855-28th January, 1856.

Statistics—Andrew Anderson—Misconduct of the sappers—Non-commissioned
  officers and men who received honours, appointments, or commissions
  for their gall