Annie Grace Transcripts

Annie Grace Fenton’s letter–book does not contain this letter

Joseph Fenton Transcripts

Date: 28 March 1855
Recipient: Grace Fenton
Book: Joseph Fenton letter-book, Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin

Balaclava March 28th

I have got some jolly pictures of Balaclava with my big lenses having given up working the small cameras until I receive my Ross lenses [ – ] two days ago I went up to the Generals Camp outside Balaclava between here & Kadikoi [.] Captn Holden invited me & promised to get me a dark room contrived if I wd take the view from the Camp so I put up my Cameras &c on a pack saddle on one of my horses & went there[.] By the way the day before I began to break in my horses to draught, borrowed an artillery cart to train them in & began with the bay horse [ – ] we went on capitally for an hour till it got its leg over the shaft & came down. Just at the moment a sour looking fellow in uniform came up “Who gave you permission to take that cart? Major MacGilavey [MacGillavray?] – oh! You’ve nearly broken my horses leg said I – My friend said no more but rode off I finding it wd be a tremendous task to break in these horses I went to Major Andersons to apply for draught horses & found there my acquaintance, who turned out to be the Col. Commanding the Artillery & rating Major Anderson & MacGillavray [sic] for letting me have this waggon for a break, I have now got a promise of horses both from the railway staff & from head quarters.

On going up to the gaurds [sic] I made the acquaintance of Lord Rokeby, to whom I gave the parcel entrusted to my care, he introduced me to Col. De Ballie a young man about my own age, who was busy putting a padlock on a fowl house he had just constructed grumbling away all the time at the Crimea, at the Army, & at his own particular hardships, he made me a very liberal offer, of his commission, medals, & other advantages if I would only get him safe back to Pall Mall [ – ] he had just got up a Maltese hut & has papered it with prints cut out of the Illustrated News, they are getting quite a farmyard at the gaurds [sic] camp, sheep with Lambs following them, turkeys geese, chickens, are abundant.

I dined with Capt Holden Col. Mansen [Monson?] half brother of your Mothers cousin being the only guest[.] we had gravy soup, fresh fish caught in the Bay, Liver & Bacon fried, a shoulder of mutton pancakes with quince preserves, cheese, stout, sherry & cigars. My tent which I brought up on horse back was put in a spare tent whose owner was away & at 10.30 I made my first essay at camp life [ – ] it was windy but I slept well till 4.30 when Cocks & hens, sheep & lambs began there [sic] morning hymns [ – ] then the Turks in the valley below began to make an awful noise which they supposed to be music, shortly after the different bands of the Gaurds [sic] struck up & the row was so great that sleep was impossible [ – ] at 7 Capt Holdens servant brought me a cup of Chocolate & I got up & went to the top of the hill & strolled about till 9 when we breakfasted (Col Monsn [sic] joining us again) on potted Tongue tea, toast, fish & Marmalade[.] Col Seymour promised to let me have his tent which is a double one & very dark to work in & when he had turned out which was not before 10.30 we set to work to fit it up succeeded after an hours work & took a picture [ – ] when I came to develop it I found that my tent was not light proof so went with all my traps further up the hill to a hut where the owner was away [ – ] here Sparling & I made a capitol [sic] place but just as all was ready the wind which had been freshening became a gale the sky darkened the tents were stretching & straining as if they would burst & matters looked hopless[.] I waited some hours tried 4 times to take pictures when a gleam of light burst out. I succeeded once but as the storm increased gave it up, very much in the dismals.

I then went down to the town made arrangements for the next days work & walked up the hill again to dine with Capt. Fromer of the Grenadier Gaurds [sic] [ – ] there were two other officers there & we had a very pleasant evening except that the storm was so boisterous that we might as well have had no tent at all, In Col Seymours tent my bed had been set up & I turned in & in spite of the storm slept soundly till 4 when I awoke & found my tent making convulsive starts leaping from the ground & striking down again[.] On getting up & peeping through the doorway the whole Camp seemed to be alive tho’ no one was about for the tents were making strange contortions in the moonlight. Inside, my coverlet was lifted up by every gust I could not wrap it round me so that the wind could be kept out & so I lay trying to calculate the direction in which the tent would fall when the crash came & having found my head was to leeward, was kept in a state of wakeful suspense, A few tents were blown down & a good many huts, there was nothing to be done but print so I went down to the town & set to work at that & as the prints came out of the frames there was soon an admiring crowd around us [ – ] it becomes a great bore because one must give a civil answer to every one.

Col Hardinge came & told me to ask him for every thing that I might want to complete my establishment here. I shall soon try him for there is always something wanting, I dined with him in the evening in a house formerly occupied by the Russian Commandant of the Town. I had a very agreeable evening. There have been for the last fortnight a succession of fierce encounters at night principally between the French & Russians for the possession of some Rifle pits which annoy our lives very much[.] The French have repeatedly taken them but are regularly driven out again with great loss the dont care for than [sic] the Zouaves get on well but are not properly supported by the other French Troops. The night before (last Thursday the 23rd there was an awful row, the accounts were so conflicting that we cannot be sure of the matter but it seems that there was first a fight between the Russian & French in which the latter were hard pressed, that the English went to help them & that while our men were thus occupied the Russians attacked our Trenches, overpowered the men left in them & held them for 20 minutes till driven out [ – ] the loss was great on both sides[.] 10 of our officers were hit one killed & one missing [ – ] the bodies lay unburied all the next day, two men from our ships were up there & saw them lying in heaps, The Russians & French in lines with their feet almost touching one Zouave was lying by himself almost in the Russian batteries [ – ] yesterday there was a truce to bury them & the officers of the 2 army’s met & chatted. An officer of the gaurds [sic] who was present told me that the Russian officers chaffed ours asking them when our army was going away. He told me that the Russian dead were lying in heaps, this was an unusually hot affair but it is going on in this way nearly every night without any result to either party except that the Russians have maintained the positions to which they advanced a short time since & that the French sinking in general opinion as wanting pluck, however matters must alter soon for Col Hardinge tells me that the English alone have got 470 guns up & will in a day or two have 500 rounds of Ammunition to each gun[.] Firing goes on day & night I have ceased to notice it[.] I do not think however that the town will ever be taken till the North side is invested[.] Most people say it never will be taken at all. The soldiers seem very comfortable & look in splendid condition, now the railway is finished at work they have not nearly so much to do. The daily supplies needed at the camp account to 112 tons weight & used to require nearly 2000 horses to convey it this & a great deal more is now done by railway

Monday) I heard today that at the time a Russian Officer told ours that the Lancaster gun was doing them a great deal of mischief but said they “wait till tomorrow morning & you’ll see something” The morning came & with it the fire of a 63-pounder on the Mamelon battery [ – ] the news was telegraphed up to head quartors [sic] with an enquiry of what was to be done the answer was “Fight it” so at it they went & instead of shell loaded the guns with round shot, the first discharge hit the Russian gun in the muzzle & splintered it to pieces[.] In the Afternoon I was up at the generals to take the splendid view from their camp it was very windy & several pictures were spoilt [ – ] the wind was a siroco [sic], thermometer 32 in the shade, my camera slides in one hours work, warped & split with the dry heat Afterwards I dined with my former host Col Monson & Capt Hilder[.] Soup fish cutlets & boilded [sic] Turkey [ – ] rice pudding & preserves, while smoking an order came for them to turn out at 3 next morning & during the subsequent grumbling we were alarmed by a succession of shots on the slope of the hill below [ – ] as soon as it was seen that it was not the Cossacks, we went on again –

Half an hour after I left them & in walking down the hill came upon the whole body of Croats drawn up in 2 lines at the end of which I found a picket of gaurds [sic] who told me that the firing must have been among these men who were now under arrest 6 of them were lying dead on the ground. Life seems to be squandered here like everything else[.] Among the prisoners was an old man whose portrait I took the other day [ – ] he grunted out his satisfaction at seeing me in return for which I gave him a lecture of the “No bono Johnny” they will be tried tomorrow & probably some shot others flogged & the whole disarmed, however much this may impair their picturesque looks it must be allowed [ – ] this is a very necessary step as they are armed up to the teeth & you will see by their portraits not mild mannered men

Col Hardinge asked me to dine again today to meet Armitage but being engaged could not go[.] I got on very slowly with my work here [ – ] the labour in itself is great & many pictures are spoilt by the dust & heat still more by the crowds of all sorts who flock round[.] I am afriad I shall not get away so soon as I expected[.] I dread the hot weather & shall do my best to get away before it comes but the distances are so great & the difficulty of getting the people together whose portraits one wanted that it will take me much time

I send you a portrait of some Croats [ – ] let Dr Becker see it & take care no publisher sees it[.] Could I write what I see as I see it my letters would be very amusing but it is stupid work writing when the excitement of the day is over & one [sic] eyes are heavy[.] I do not however forget to indulge in a little quiet meditation about home & its dear inhabitants even when too tired to write