Date: 26 May 1855
Recipient: Letter to Grace Fenton
Book: Joseph Fenton letter-book, Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin

May 26h Yenikale, Sea of Azoph

Just look at the date of this letter & then at your map to find out exactly where Yenikale is & then set youself into your easy chair & read the story that I am going to write to you about the life of the last few days led by the British, French & Turkish forces under the command of Sir George Brown [sic] & especially about the adventures of that important portion of it represented by the Editor of this letter. I think in my last I told you that I had left Genl Bosquets & was at Genl Barnards hill, I staid there 2 days on one of which I set off with Capt Barnard & had a ride to the sea side & got a delicious bath before breakfast, Having done there I moved to Sir R Englands at 5 in the morning of the 22nd intending to remain a day there & then go on to Head Quarters I worked till breakfast time & then heard that the expedition to Kertch was about to be renewed[.] Having been again ill with diarhea [sic] though not so badly as at first I decided that it would do me good to have a little change so galloped off to Head Quarters got an order from Lord Raglan to go as an engineer officer on Col Gordons staff no civilian being allowed to accompany the expedition. I took my fur wrapper, carpet bag, & the case of my bed to lay on the ground at night & set off to Balaclava got on board the Bahania a steamer on which officers of the staff were to Embark & then set my self to watch what was going on, immense excitement & confusion people getting into the wrong ship & being knocked out, horses being hoisted on board & stowed in the hold & on deck officers servants arranging their masters luggage Commisariat drivers mules [sic] drivers, soldiers & sailors tumbling over one another along the deck we had a jolly dinner at 4, Hock, Port, sherry & champagne all the while this was going on overboard Hallewell , [sic] Col Airey & Col More [sic] of my acquaintance were of the party next morning we got out of the harbor waited outside for a ship we were to tow & then set off with it along the south coast of the Crimea we passed first along a succession of precipitous rocks without any houses or pathways till about noon when we came to a slope on which were a number of farm houses & villas & a little later we passed Prince Woronzoffs Mansion near Yalta we did not see it well for the heat fogs came on at sunrise, next morning we were off cape Takli, with a great number of transports, Steamers, Gun boats, 2 French Men of war & 3 English one of which was the Royal Albert it was a beautiful sight, the sea had been as smooth as a pond all the way, the sky without a cloud & as the fleet went round the Cape & steered on towards the straits it formed a beautiful perspective, we went down slowly the steam gun boats leading the way towards the entrance of the straits. As we got near the land we could see a great lot of vessels making off up the straits & then 2 of our steamers & 1 of the French went off after them apparently but when the first which was an English vessel came opposite the point a battery opened upon her & she returned the fire by this time the fleet was near the land & boats were laid out with troops in ready for landing. We were as you may imagine all looking out with our telescopes to see what resistance would be opposed to the landing & great excitement arose when a cloud of dust was seen on the brow of a hill in front & a body of cavalry was seen galloping down towards the landing place as they were coming near one of the gunboats (which by this time had got into the little nook C. where there was a village & a beautiful flat beach) fired a shell right into the middle of them on which they scattered into small groups & kept riding about watching not attempting resistance. As the boats with the troops approached the beach there suddently shot up from the fort on the point a great column of smoke with a loud explosion the Russians had blown it up & very soon there followed several other explosions one of which caused a tremendous concussion, we saw the garrison going away up the hill side there was a great cheer through the fleet, it was evident that the Russians were not strong enough to resist the landing, the French landed first in beautiful style & then our men, marching away as they landed to get on to the ridge of the high land above the flat beach, This beach served only a narrow strip from the ship but it was above a mile wide, Halliwell [sic] & Airy [sic] went off as soon as the first lot of troops landed to superintend the disembarkation of the rest & of the horses & transport corps I stopped on board till dinner time 4 P.M. Thinking it wise to stow as much good vituals as I could before starting. Every man had been ordered to take two days provisions. Halliwells [sic] servant drew mine, but I took a fair supply internally & then accompanied [blank] of our ship in his own boat ashore. What a sight, a beautiful beach covered with long rough grass & wild flowers, two or three fishing boats with their nets a couple of stone cottages with thatched roofs & a low sandy plain stretching to a ridge of high gound behind in the morning had formed the whole of the picture[.] Now, the beach was strewn with baggage of every description horses were splashing through the water on to the shore men dressed in every kind of garment that was ever worn, were walking about, scrambling, swearing, shouting & laughing a vast deal of the latter, servants were keeping guard over their masters baggage horses, my bag & bed were thrown on the shore I sat down on them & began to calculate my chances of getting any further. I had brought no horse being told that we should go right to Kertch & that a horse would only be in the way. I saw that all my advisers had brought both horses & servants the Medical profession came to my aid Dr Alexander deputy Inspector general had got 4 horses & told his servant to hoist my baggage on to a pack saddle with his, offering me at the same time a corner of his tent till we could get somewhere, you may be sure I did not refuse, After wandering about enjoying the odd scenes that met one on every side & being scandalised by the burning of the poor time servers cottages by the French & the wrecking of another, the question was started, where are we to camp for the night, the Dr objected to the present site as feverish looking in spite of its agreeable aspect, Enquiring for Sir G Brownes [sic] head quarters we were directed by Halliwell [sic] to some houses on the ridge about a mile off, we resolved to go there as it was getting dusk, there was not time to lose, so the baggage was hurried on to the horses backs, we set off the Dr & I riding we two got on ahead till turning round the Dr missed his followers D– the fellows they will be getting lost off he set I waited on the spot till it got quite dark & watched through the gloom every group that passed, helping now & then drivers whose mules had kicked off their loads & thinking now & then what I should do if my friends were to take another route, when at last they came up & we trudged along the base of the ridge the ascent was so steep that the loads of two of the pack Horses broke down, lots of others French & English were in the same plight every body entreating his neighbours assistance & abusing his own horses & mules who resented the insults by kicking at the baggage as it lay about we got it of course up at last & I unpacked & prepared for bivouacking the house we were directed to was close by & we congratulated ourselves on being in a good situation for an early start next morning, I had picked up a lot of barrel staves to make a fire with, before pitching the tents we enquired if the Genl was at the house indicated & were told that the English were away along the ridge to the right every body telling the same story we had nothing to do but to load the horse [sic] again & set off, this was done better or worse, but generally worse for every 100 yds something or other dropped off & the whole load turned round (it was not pleasant nothing like so jolly as our landing on the beach had been all sunshine & fun had been) We went along slowly through long tangled grass & thistles guided by the light of a large hay rick burning feircely, shewing as figures passed between us & the flame that others were going in the same direction, there was a light a long way off, towards which we steered making very slow progress from the constant brake downs [sic] of our baggage, we met people now & then who told us to go towards the light & we should find the English quarters, As we got near the light became a series of watch fires & the sounds rising from them told me that they were French we were then directed on to another light far off in the same line which as we approached turned out to be another French regt, it was 12 o’clock we were too tired to speak to one another it was evident we had lost our way so the Dr & I took council & resolved to stay where we were the baggage was soon down & the horses pisquited [sic] & while the tent was being pitched I lay down with my head on a pack saddle & fell fast asleep when they had got it up & made the Drs [sic] bed they woke me & I unrolled my bedcase laid it on the ground in my tent wrapped my fur blanket round me put my carpet bag for a pillow & in a moment was fast asleep, At ½ past 3. before the sun was fairly up we were roused by the noise of the French near us getting ready to march, we got up, with a very ill grace though, & the Dr set off on horseback to find the whereabouts of our men, meanwhile I rolled up my bed & the men struck the tents lest we should have to go on at once I eat [sic] a bit of biscuit & drank some water, but the Dr came back soon & said we were come to the extreme right of the line & that the march would be in that direction we should have time to make a fire & got some tea the wood I had carried was soon split up & the kettle on with the tea in it, half a chicken was produced & as the sun got up & we got fed we recovered our jollity all but the horses for we had no water for them having only got by a long walk by one of the men enough water to make tea meanwhile one of the staff came up & told us that we had been quite right at first & that Sir G Brown & they did sleep in the very house at which we had at first stopped[.] I should tell you that not a soul of the inhabitants were to be seen, all had left we saw some of the latest with my glasses in the morning from the ships going away in carts & one group left the village while the French were firing shells into it to protect the disembarcation while we were pushing up (more carefully this time) the French had marched up in the van followed by the Turks & the 79th 48th, 93rd & 71st highland regts brought up the rear they had all disappeared behind some low hills before we started however we soon overtook our men & a beautiful sight it was to see them marching down the reverse of the hills on which we stood there were no Russians in sight & it was evident by the blowing up of their forts that they did not think themselves in force enough to resist in about 4 miles we came to Kertch a very pretty town beautifully situated along the bay all the Authorities were gone & the best houses had their shutters closed but there were lots of Tartars, who bowed & smiled in high glee a good many of Russian smaller shop keepers were still there & many greeks they all looked very frightened & with good reason so far as the French & Turks were concerned, a good many women stood in the doors & peeped out of the windows, By Sir G Browns orders no one was allowed to break the ranks sentries were placed at the doors of their principal houses & public buildings & the Army marched through the town without stopping except for a few minutes when something ahead obstructed the march people brought out water for the soldiers who were overcome with thirst & heat, As the Army did not stop it was evident that it was intended to go on to the sea of Azoph where in the night we had seen heavy firing in the distance returned by some of our steamers but the mail is just leaving so I must defer the rest I slept last night on the bare ground I have been twice in the sea this morning & shall probably dip again tonight, we expect to return to Balaclava within the week, I am writing this in a house the windows mostly smashed Turks & French putting in their heads to look for plunder & breaking the rest of the windows when they see there is nothing for them –