Date: 28 to 30 May 1855
Recipient: Letter to Grace Fenton
Book: Joseph Fenton letter-book, Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin

Kertch May 28th, 1855

I hope you will have received my last letter for this is only a continuation of it, I think at the end of it Sir G Brown & I were marching into Kertch, we passed round a bit of marshy water we then came to some large enclosed buildings one of which I was informed by Col Gordon was a manufactory of shot & would be destroyed immediately we entered the town between two handsome buildings of Greek Architecture & whitewashed like all Russian buildings no body was to be seen at first & the shutters of the houses were closed, but as we got in groups of Tarters [were?] standing by the side of the streets, taking off their hats & smiling nost obsequiesly on any one whose eye rested upon them & a few Russians, Greeks, & Jews making up the rest of the spectators, There was a halt in the Town during which some of our officers managed to get asquainted [sic] with some of the inhabitants who could speak French & have been told since that they managed to make themselves much at home though quite in a respectable manner none of the men were allowed to break the ranks & they got nothing but a little water which the people brought out to them it was amusing to watch the struggle when a bucket of water was brought out it was emptied in no time Kertch is a beautiful place the Town modern & very regularly built the situation is very beautiful reminding one of the pictures of Napes, in the rear a projecting shoulder of one of the hills behind, almost cut the place in two & half way up is a structure built like a greek Temple while above is a tomb called the tomb of Mithradites [sic] which appears most suspiciously of modern construction. After half an hours halt we marched on, along a good road by the sead side till we came to a mass of buildings on the point of land which terminates Kertch bay & which was used by the Russians as a Quarentine station it was quite deserted, some of the building [sic] were blown up thus show[ing?] marks of the shot of our gun boats I hoped that we were going to stop here for the heat was oppressive, the men were parched with thirst & cloaked with dust, but after a short halt we marched along the high ground the line of coast round [?] point making us bend somewhat to the left, After a bit we reached a high piece of ground from which could be seen the whole of the Army in advance, the country itself is beautiful for it was a vast extent of grassy slopes covered with long coarse herbage which in itself was a delightful prospect to eyes accustomed so long to the bare [b?] red earth of the camep at Sebastipol the descent to the sea was bordered with fine houses & villa’s in the midst of [?] plantations our Army was marching in Columns in beautiful order scarcely a man falling out fm the ranks, on each side & in front as far as we could see the country was ccovered with stragglers Turkish & French but principally the latter intent on plunder, we could see the French rushing thro’ the plantations into the houses & coming out again, laden with fowls gees, looking glasses, chairs, ladies dresses & every thing useful or useless that they could lay their hands on, as they got to the contents of the wine cushs they got more outrageous discharging their muskets right & left at fowls pigs & birds shots came whistling amongst us & of course remonstrances with half drunken men were useless their own officers never attempted to interfere, on the left a lot of French soldiers were driving along a herd of milk cows & mares which they had captured I could hear them speculating as to whether those cursed English were to share wit hthem in the sport, if any Russian fire have [sic] come down upon us, they would have punished the French pretty [cleanly?] for the lust of plunder had destroyed all appearance of discipline among them some delay occurred here & while we were all lying on the grass, roasting in the tortuese heat there came aup a poor woman, with her old Mother wringing her hands & complaining that the soldiers were carrying off her only cow The General was near & he at once ordered Hallewell [sic] to go with the poor people & try to recover their worldly good s for them. In a short time she came back driving the cow with meantime as the herd was obliged to stop we set to work to milk the cows – While I held Dr Alexanders horse & procured a cup, he milked the cows & each time the cup was half filled [?] & filled up with water & we shared it. This was repeated several times to the great disgust of the French soldiers in charge who swore awfully but not hard enough to stop us in the last dose we mixed a little brandy on condition of sharing the tipple with the owner of the brandy. This seasonable supply set me up again as I had no provisions Halliwells servant who was some miles in the rear having mine in his care just as the milk was done the poor woman came up, but when she tried to pass throught he lin eof French soldiers they refused to let the cow pass threatening the womwn with their bayonets we got savage at this & turned on them & being very much in earnest made them see that it was safer not to molest the poor creatures The youngest of the woman terrified & overcome with fatigue & excitement went into hysterics & fainted & when the Dr had brought her round I could not help laughing in spite of my anger at seeing them such at their deliverers & attempt to kiss our feet The Embarassment of the kisses was very droll. To ensure their not being plundered after we left Dr Alexander wrote out a pass for them in French & English & signed it with a magnificent flourish of ‘Inspector General’ after his name, as we got on the disorder became greater the stragglers were more drunk the cries & shouts more savage. The firing of muskets the fizing of shot past our ears more continual & it was evident that all control over the French Army was gone & that we shoul dhave a terrible night. The Army halted on some heights on the other side of which was said to be the Town of the Gerihali though nothing was to be seen of it from where we were except some Tartar cotteges, whose inhabitants had to look on quietly while the soldiers French, Turks, & English went in & helped themselves to every thing they wanted, there were 4 windmills just behind these cottages built of wood in ten minutes these were in ruins & nothing left but the stone bases on which they were built As the troops were taking up their quarters I began to think of looking for mine, It was near 4 & I had nothing to eat since 5 in the morning I was quite faint & would have given anything for the bit of an old crust Halliwell [sic] was off with the General Col Jorden to whom I was attached was no where to be found Dr Alexander upon whom I relied for supplies & whom I had kept in sight during the day helping him when called to the assistance of one threatened with sun stroke of which several cases occurred during the day, was no where to be found or heard of I resolved to enter the Town & look for Genl Browns head Quarters as the surest way of finding my own Accompanying a picket of Highlanders I went over the hill & down towards the sea entering the gateway of the fort the pathway of which was choked with stones & fragments of timber caused by the explosion of a magazine which the Russians had set fire to before leaving Scrambling over this we got onto a platform of level ground on the right of which was a bank covered with the ruins of a great explosion. Seeing a large building before us, we went to it & found a hospital with the beds laid down & comfortable side by side on a raised platform like a double desk measuring the whole length of the building The pewter pots for the drink of the patients were ranged in order on a shelf quite bright I took one & went out to look for water & at the end of the Terrace I found a well of beautiful water & had a good pull at it without troubling myself whether it was personal of not There was a French picket & a couple of officers in the fort but with that exception all was perfectly solitary. The gouund was strewed with fragments of wood & stone & the windows over all broken by the explosion. Close by the well was another long building I did not enter it being on the look out for Sir Georges quarters but an officer who did soon after, told me that it was another hospital & that he found there 4 Russian soldiers wounded & unable to move, without food or drink, they held up their hands & made signs for help but it was night before in the confusion any one could be [apported] to attend upon them Going to the side next the sea I saw a new battery of 9 heavy guns 36 pounders beautifully made & pointed in the direction of our ships, They were spiked of course the platform on which they were placed was scarcely finished & it was evident that the Russians had been surprised in the midel [sic] of preparations caused by the countermanded expedition 3 weeks back, In front was a floating battery Altogether there were 32 guns captured in the place most of them quite new & of beautiful construction Going out of the fort I came to the Town itself which lies under the cliff & up its sides, There was a terrible scene French, Turks, & I am sorry to say a few Highlanders were breaking into the houses smashing the windows dragging out everything that was portable & breaking what they could not carry away. The Inhabitants had all fled with the exception of the Tartars & a few Russians amongst whom was the priest from the treatment of those that were left it was lucky that they had, Disgusted with the sight & unable to help it except by pitching into own own [sic] men I hunted for the Genl quarters but could not find them I now went back to the camp in search of Dr Alexander but could nto find him. He had been sent for to look at 2 of our men who had been shot by the stray French bullets, one of these was shot dead & the other was badly wounded in the head, I heard that he had got a room in the Town so after begging a bit of biscuit from some officers of the 42d & receiving from them an invite to take my dinner with them if I could nto find my own supplies I went down again & found Dr A’s quarters but not himself. They were at a house on the beach only one story high as are most of the houses here French & Turks were passing by thrusting their heads through the windows & trying to get into the courtyard which was defended by the Drs 3 servants I saw that the Dr would have quite enough to do to take care of himself so got my fur blanket & set off with it up the hill again On the way I met Halliwell [sic] who had lost his servant & looked somewhat bewildered so I thought it best to make sure of what quarters I could get & went up to my friends of the 42nd They had got dinner ready some soup that you woul dhave emptied into the slop pail but which was very greedily devoured, cold salt beef & a piece of cold chicken all diluted with [ration?] sauce & brackish water we had a good pot of hot tea made & as the sun set went down to the bottom of the cliff & had a good swim. There were no tents to sleep in & so we made a kind of canopy by stretching a plaid over a table top set on edge & fastening the 4 corners to sticks driven into the ground our blankets were laid on the ground & the ground under this & after some wine & water & a pipe we turned in. It was very comforatble except that we were overcome with ants & now & then a bullet whistled past I know that my slumbers were very sound. During the night the French set some houses in the Town on fire & a fatigue party of English had to go down & pu tit out which they did by pulling the houses down on each side of them, I got up & went down to the cliff & had another swim, then came back & got breakfast cold port & biscuit & essence of coffee, After breakfast I went down to the sea again to see the soldiers bathe they went in by regts when the officers with them thought they had been long enough they were called out by sound of trumpet & another regt took their places I then made my way to Dr Alexanders quarters, wrote you my first letter fm [benikale] interrupted by the French men stopping at the windows looking in & speculating as to whether I was a fit subject for the exercising of their plundering propensitions & by Turks who were even more difficult to get rid of. One of these last who sent a whole window frame in shivers into the room, I kicked out & hammered his stopid head & handed him over to the English general while I was writing the Dr came up & told me the same work had been going on all night & that he had been obliged to move to more sheltered quarters, I finished my letter to you & took it to head quarters to post Col Gordon was there & sent for me to say that they had arranged for me to live in the same room with himself Col Airey & Halliwell Asked me to take some sketches of the place for Lord Raglan. we 4 slept in the same room & Col Brownrigg in the next, It is decided that the Army stops here ten days to erect works for the defence of the place which the Turks are to remain & occupy The small steamers are all gone into the sea of Azoph looking out for information & for [?] of which sevearl have been already taken, The value of the place to the Allies is immense as they now cut off all supplies coming to the Russians fm Asia & down the sea of Azoph & can from here make attackes upon any part of the Asiasic coast of the Black sea on the ports of the sea of Azoph, It is possible they may send an expedition to Anapa but the uncertainty is so great 7amp; my anxiety to get home so strong that I have this morning applied for a passage back to Balaclava by the first steamer that leaves & one will have to go soon to carry dispatches

Kamish Bay May 30th 1855 – We have just dropped anchor here I left yesterday in a little steamer that took us down to the Royal Albert where I waited till 12 at night while Admiral Lyons wrote his despatches to government You will learn by the paper the result of the expedition so I will say nothing about it, I left Halliwell & all in high spirits looking forward to a cruise to Anapa He had just got 3 cases of wine & was lifted up accordingly for untill yesterday we had nothing but ration rum & salt port, but yesterday the Tartars brought in 500 sheep –