Date: 4 June 1855
Recipient: Grace Fenton
Book: Annie Grace Fenton letter-book, Royal Photographic Society Collection, National Media Museum, Bradford

Head quarters
June 4th 1855

Dear Grace

I wrote you a short note by the last mail to tell you that I had got back from Yenicale all safe, After posting it I went down to Balaclava, & got 250£ in gold changed into a treasury bill for the sake of avoiding risk in bringing it home. I then varnished a lot of negatives & went in a boat to the sea outside Balaclava for a bathe. Most glorious it is taking a header out of a boat into that clear deep water. Lots of people go towards evening & the sea is quite studded over with boats of bathers, & anglers. In coming back I passed a steamer with soldiers on board & seeing 88 marked on some of their caps, I asked if Capt Maynard was on board. “To be sure he is,” was the answer, so I climbed up & soon found him in the cabin sitting over his wine. He did not know me for I am rather feirce looking just now, my face as red as a soldiers jacket, my nose gradually peeling off (it will soon I hope be a fine grecian one, only rather high coloured) & my linen shirt having been succeeded by a red flannel one. Edmund is very pleased at getting out & so am I for he will just come in for the taking of the town, & will get the medal. You will have heard that poor Major Horton has died of cholera. I took his likeness in a group about a week before. Did I tell you on my last, that when I dined with Lord Raglan the other night, he spoke very highly of Hallewell, & said thatSir George Brown calls him “his eyes”, & places the greatest confidence in him.

Yesterday being Sunday I went to morning service at a little wooden church. There was one lady present Mrs Escourt General Escourt’s wife. it was quite a refreshing sight her white bonnet & muslin full among the warlike dresses round: I enjoyed much listening to the church service once more what a contrast its peaceful spirit is to the harsh scenes of violence, and suffering one sees all round. After service I set off with Angell [sic] & Capt Chetwood for a ride. We went beyond Camera [Kamara] for a mile or so to a little chapel on a hill, & then turned away to the right till we reached a fountain we had noticed 2 days before[.] There we rested, & let our horses get their fill of the long rich grass in wh they were nearly hidden [ – ] we watched with our glasses the French returning from a reconnaisance on wh they had started in the middle of the night. The Woronzoff road along wh they were coming goes along the opposite side of the valley where we were, & though it seemed so near as if 20 minutes walk wd take us there it must have been some miles across for we cd not with the naked eye distinguish infantry from cavalry. In an hour or so we went down towards the Tchernaya

I tried to cross the ford, and had nearly got over when a sentry shouted to me to come back. I did not hear him for the rush of the water, but Angell shouted out my name, & on looking round I saw the man had snatched up his musket & was pointing it at me. I have had many rows with the French sentries, they are brutal to every one, their own people not excepted. Being in civilians dress I am much exposed to their rudeness, but as yet I am happy to say have always been able to set them down.

The Sardinians are quite a pleasant contrast in their behaviour to the French. After a very nice bathe we were riding along the bank, just ready to start when we saw a struggle in the water, we hurried up & saw one fellow struggling to the bank & another disappearing in the water. The first was hauled out, he had gone in to help the first [sic]. While the Sardinians were calling out for help, several of us were off our horses & getting rid of clothes, but Donald Campbell of the next hut to ours, jumped in with all his clothes on & without taking his spectacles off. Another officer jumped in horse & all but Campbell caught him by the head & pulled the poor fellow out, he was nearly gone but we got him round at last. It was rather a droll sight when we saw that the man was recovering. One Englishman who was bathing on the other side swam over & was bustling about stalk stark naked[.] I had nothing on but boots & shirt, Campbell had stripped & was wringing his clothes, the other officer the same & the Sardes vocifirating. When the man had quite got round, they brought him to thank Campbell wh as neither spoke the other language was not a very lucid thanksgiving, however wishing to speak in intelligible language, the man pulled out his purse & wanted Campbell to take it.

Tuesday. Yesterday morning I went to breakfast with Pellisier, the horse I am riding, one of Hallewell’s broke loose in the night. Sparling having been drunk, & not having fastened him properly. Three men went out to hunt him, but I saw no more of him that day & had to borrow a sorry nag with patched up saddle & stirrups too short [ – ] a mile to go to the French head quarters of the French army. We were 20 at breakfast in a darkened hut 2 other Englishmen General Rose & Capt Foley being of the party. It was rather stupid General kept all the conversation to himself & his conversation is not brilliant[.] He is a very good inpersonation of the French army, for he is rough in his manners though not without a certain bonhomie he cares nothing for the sacrifice of life & does not seem troubled with scruples of any kind. His face has an expression of brutal boldness, something like that of a wild boar. however he is coming tomorrow at 5. am to have his likeness taken, & I mean to have a good one of him. I could not get out afterwards for want of a horse, so stopped & wrote letters one to Agnew, & another to your mother.

In the evening I & Angell were invited to dine with Lord Raglan. Lady George Paget was there, she is very pretty and is at present the belle of the Crimea, she wears beautiful eyes. Lord George was there too and for once very chatty. Champagne had something to do with it. I was on Lord R’s right and Lady George on his left thus [referring to original sketch] so that I had a good sight and plenty of talk with her. Prince Edward of Saxe Weimar was there too, he is a very nice quiet fellow plain but a good figure, & seems a great favorite here. In honour of the Lady’s presence we had rather a swell dinner. While at table a telegraphic message came to say that poor admiral Bruce was very ill of the cholera & not expected to recover, he died at midnight & no one was ever more regretted, for he was a universal favorite & has done an immense deal for the improvement of Balaclava. I have got Lord Raglan’s portrait now[.] If successful tomorrow with Pelissier I have no one to take but Omar Pasha, & I am going now to ride over to his camp to ask him to come. I shd like Canroberts but he is such a way of [sic],

I am afraid of the preparations for coming away, remembering the trouble I had in disembarking I do not like the prospect of going through it all again & in such bad weather too. I shall sell every thing I can so as to have as little baggage as possible, but the van will bother me very much. Sparling is gone down to day to pack up boxes of negatives, & as soon as these few pictures are done I shall advertise the sale of any goods & try to get an order for a free passage. The difficulty is that there are very few vessels going straight to England & I must get one that does to send the men & luggage by even if I come home myself by Marseilles wh I shall try to do

Give many kisses from me to my dear girls & tell them I hope soon to see them. take care of yourself for my sake, have the best nursing you can get. I hope you have received the £ 200 I sent, shd Capt Pender not have called, you can hear of him by applying at Montgomerie & Greenhorne 17 Gracehurch St. I have changed also another £ 250 for a treasury bill so that I shall not come home empty handed.

R F.