Date: 5 May 1855
Recipient: Grace Fenton
Book: Joseph Fenton letter-book, Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin

May 5th 1855 – [dated 6 May by Annie Grace Fenton]

Yesterday was may day & a lovely day we had[.] I got old Sir G Brown to sit to me, he was very amiable put on his uniform & a cocked hat & did just as I wished him. he asked me to dine with him at 7– In the afternoon I rode with Hallewell to Inkerman, got halfway down the slope took the bridles off our horses let them graze & we lay basking in the sun & looking through the glass at a piquet of Cossacks along the Tchernaya & a regt of infantry being drilld [sic] about 6 miles off in front of the lines which the Russians have made across the country where the Mackenzie road comes down. Wherever the ground is not quite safe to go on (where it is commanded by Russian batteries) it is quite surprising to see the mass of wild flowers with which the ground is covered all over the steep sides of the Inkerman the grass & flowers are gradually budding, the pieces of torn cloth ragged caps shoes not with soling which now form the principal indications of the struggle which took place there I have been with 3 people there now 3 times & with people who were in the battles none of them can tell me where any of the principal incidents took place[.] Every body was busy about what immediately concerned there own corps or department & saw nothing of the general action I was told a new version of the French attack on the Russian flank it was said that a French regt mounted the hill to meet the Russians was observed at once when on the top, to turn right about face & come down again[.] An A.D.C. rode up to the Col & said Mais Monsieur are you retreating” the answ was Voila les Russè, On our return just before dinner Sir Georges Brown sent for Halliwell [sic] & told him something that made him come home dancing & kicking & emptying a tumbler of champagne[.] he gew able to inform us that an expedition was to start off the next day by sea somewhere or other & he had been chosen to go with it as deputy adjutant General[.] At dinner the Genl was very silent about the matter merely telling us that he was to have 4000 English & 800 [sic] Turks under his orders & that he meant to take some of his own staff with him[.] That night & this morning there has been such a scene of packing & rejoicing among those chosen for the Expedition & sulking & trying to look as if they did not care among those going to stay here, that you would have thought they were all school boys, no one knows where they are going, some say Eupatoria to join the grand attack of the Russian rear, others Kertch & some Odessa, Halliwell [sic] is off & is now on ship board leaving me heir to his tent & servant. last night there was some small firing between the French & Russians it was said the former took a bank from the Russians & actually kept it. we have had a good deal of rain the last few days with a cold wind. Yesterday & today it has been perfectly delightful sufficient cloud has been floating about, to give a beautiful variety to the outline of the distant hills & all the place is changing its dull brown into a delicate green[.] Have you seen that picture in the Illustrated London News of Sebastapol from the sea. It has caused a great deal of astonishment & amusement here as it is a regular fraud Resp [sic]

May 6th The day before yesterday I moved my van to Genl Bosquets quarters. I did not stop there that night, as I had engaged to dine with Sir John Campbell & to sleep at his quarters[.] After breakfast yesterday I went thence to Genl. Bosquets I soon got all the staff round me waiting a trial of my skill I made a group with Gen Crissy Chief of the staff in the centre we were soon called to breakfast & though I had done very well at Sir John’s at 8½ I was ready again for a French spread at 10½ Genl Bosquet made me sit close to him & was very kind I like him much after breakfast the officers got together a quantity of soldiers of different corps Zouaves Chasseurs &c I made several fine pictures of them In the afternoon a cantinere [sic] was brought up I made first a picture of her by herself & then a group in which she is giving relief to a wounded soldier. I took a view or two with my newly arrived Rosses Lenses with which I am delighted & then walked to the edge of the hill overlooking the plain & lay down to rest for ½ an hour before dinner for the day had been a hard one. When I got back I found a tent pitched for me. Sparling had brought up my bed & mat fur wrapper the blankets are stolen I had the Mattress on the ground & the wrapper over it got some thread & patched up my old coat which is nearly in tatters & by the time this was done was called to dinner. The dinner was not bad but less comfortable than at our English Officers quarters but I enjoyed it immensely for the Genl was very chatty he talked about England & France asked me a good deal about Russia & the causes of the want of success hitherto. It was very interesting When he rose we all got up & I was about to take my leave when he made me go with him out into the starlight & began to tell me about his first interview with Napoleon. When the expidition [sic] was first thought of there he got to the battles of Alma & Inkerman describing them & pointing out what in his opinion ought to have been done & what result might have been obtained after each of these battles if the Army had been under one head[.] He talked much of the horror which he felt at all the terrible scenes of suffering & death which he had witnessed here & said it was not possible for any one to have a greater dislike of war than a soldier like him whose life for the last 20 years had been spent in burying his friends. He then got upon politics English & French upon which I enlarged in a way that would have made Stephen’s hair stand on end for I have grown more Radical since I got here[.] I could not help now & then thinking what a queer Tableau vivant I was forming part of tête a tête under the stars with one of the most celebrated men of their day discussing the conduct & capacity of the great guns of our acquaintance. With much more freedom than if I formed part of a special commission I see & hear many things here, which I should never have known had I been placed in any official position Fortunately I know how to forget things which it would be mischevious to repeat Genl Bosquet is very good to take resembling much the portrait of Napoleon when he began to grow stout, only there is an expression of frankness & good temper which does not exist in Napoleon’s portrait he has promised me horses to convey my van & all that I need while I am staying with him. his staff are very nice fellows I have heard nothing of the expedition yet, no one knows where it is gone. so far the augury of its success is good