Date: 29 April 1855
Recipient: Letter to Grace Fenton
Book: Joseph Fenton letter-book, Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin

I am still at Hallewells Quarters after leaving the valley where the shots are so thick I took the van round to the head of the next ravine & up the hill to the rear of the Mortar Valley & as this spot is forbidden to every one but staff officers & people on duty I had a little quiet for a few hours each day having hard work however in carrying my Collodion plate backwards & forwards from the van to the Camera[.] the views here were not very good as no body being in front I could make no foreground & the town is so far off that in itself it is no picture[.] all the sketches seen at home seem to err in making it much too near & in making the details too large in order to obtain distinctness. There has been little firing going on the last week an occasional shot from advanced batteries & several shells well aimed from a mortar battery & from a ship in the Second Creek have formed the principal part of the days amusement at night the firing has generally been brisk but with little result except with great waste of French Powder[.] Every morning sees some fresh work commenced or finished by the Russians sometimes a new rifle pit is made in the night sometimes 2 or more are connected together by a trench so as to form a kind of advanced battery, sometimes one detects the beginning of new works on the other side of the harbour – The hills beyond are getting dotted over with white tents & the sides of the hills roughened with the burrows in which they live. Their principal burying ground too is getting rapidly peopled, They do not bury as we do in single graves but make large pits which they fill with bodies & then heap over with earth, our sick are I believe on the increase there have been several cases of Cholera last week principally in the light division, which seems to be placed in rather an unfavourable position. The English forces have been Augmented by the arrival of Lady G. Paget Lady Stratford & the 2 daughters I met them yesterday riding with a very large escort of light dragoon officers & staff swells, along the heights overlooking the plains where the Cavalry charge took place. There have also arrived several new regts & lots of horses for the Artillery & Cavalry our [fame?] must be getting much more numerous all seem to be expecting the order to advance into the interior the expectations of peace having grown small As for taking the town on the present system it is a perfect farce. The Mamelon the most advanced of the Russian earthworks is as neat in its external finish as if a ball or shell had never touched it. The French make much fuss & seem to attack every night but one generally finds each morning that the Russians have made some slight advance towards them instead of being gradually driven into the Town, our men keep what they make & waste no powder, but they cannot advance until the French have delivered them from the danger of being taken in the flank, were it not for the great longing I have now to be off & the too great fatigue which I go through in consequence my time passes pleasantly; I have dined at Sir Richard Englands enjoyed my visit dined the next day with Genl Pennefather, & his staff & the day after with Col Baxter [Borton] & Wilkinson at Hallewells I found with him Col Airey the Brother of Genl Airey. We got on uncommonly well Col Airy [sic] I like much he was one of the hostages given by the British just before the massacre of Cabul & has told me some very interesting things about his life as a captive. Today Sunday it has been wet, cold & dismal after Hallewell or Ben as Sir G Brown calls him, or burster as he is generally designated had mounted his old Gloucestershire horse to go up the hill I lay trying to get an extra snooze but I could not[.] After repeated trials find out which was the softest part of the boards so began to read[.] After breakfast today I walked over to Genl Bosquets. I had left my letter with him the night before[.] he was at breakfast with his staff the Genrl received me very kindly & invited me to mess with himself & staff when I go to his camp which I intend to do in a couple of days he is a fine looking man with a broad face full of good temper[.] Afterwards I rode down to Balaclava, there was no church Parade on account of the rain. Instead of finding William there he had gone up to the camp to amuse himself thinking I suppose that as it was Sunday he was at liberty to leave his post[.] Hallewell was in Town too & called for me to ride back with him but I had fallen asleep quite worn out with hard work & when roused felt very loath to ride 8 miles through the mud & rain so turned in till tea time since which I have written this note which by its rambling incoherence must bear the marks of being written by a man only half awake[.] I am sorry to say the Hecla leaves this week, it has been quite a home to me & I shall be very sorry to say good bye to her Capt He has promised me to call at No 2 The Officers of the 88h came up the other day[.] I told Col Shirley that I would do anything for that regt that he wished & he got them together & some of the soldiers & I grouped them as well as I could where every body wanted his own portrait to be taken in full Two days since Ismael Pasha commander of the Egyptian troops came to me I made some good groups of him & his suite. There was a Nubian slave & a cofit pipe bearer I have their images I am getting surfeited with good pictures now & want sadly to go back, tell Annie there are two Russian boys here who would both like to come to England Alma & Inkermann such are their names one is an orphan the other has or had his parents in the Town they went out nutting last Autumn & were taken they cried sadly but now would cry to go back