Date: 18 June 1855
Recipient: Grace Fenton
Book: Joseph Fenton letter-book, Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin

June 18h

We have just passed through what seems to be a hideous dream, last night after a continuous & apparently successful bombardment of 24 hours it was resolved that the assault on the Malakoff should be made by the French & on the Malakoff by the English early in the morning[.] Every one seemed to be certain of success, stop over tomorrow I heard every one say & you will see at last the inside of Sebastepol[.] We had a merry evening every one anticipating a short through perhaps sharp struggle & a triumphant close to this terrible siege[.] Those who ventured to hint that the place was strong its defenders have men & that they might give us some trouble yet, were few & unheard[.] The attack was to be made with the first blush of dawn few of us went to bed[.] I slept for a couple of hours but rose at ½ past 1 got a cup of tea with 2 others set off on horseback in the dark across to Cathcarts hill where an excellent view of the attack on the Redan was to be obtained[.] Lord Raglan was out at 2 & went down into the advanced trenches when we got to the ground twilight was just appearing we went down the hill towards the batteries & found a few more spectators sitting on the grass looking through the mist to make out the outlines of the Town as the light began to dawn the dark mass of the Redan began to show dimly above the fog the batteries were firing hard the Town was on fire in three places a lurid smoke rose curling above the white cloud that envelloped [sic] all the batteries[.] The Mamalon could scarcely be seen but its place was indicated by the flashes rising from it & the Malakoff was quite invisible but shells continually bursting in & over it shewed us where it was[.] Before sunrise a rocket rose perpendicularly from Fort Victoria & instantly there began a rattle of musketry which rolled round the base of the base of [sic] the Malakoff now seeming to climb its side & again receding but growing louder every minute. We could see nothing not even the outline of the hill & could only judge of the progress of the contest by the sound of the musketry meanwhile our batteries kept up a very sharp fire of shell & every 2 min a rocket rushed up behind us with a roar & glided through the sky into the Town, the sun rose & began to dissipate the mist & the Mamelon came out pretty clear & by degrees the Malakoff, battered, ruined furrowed with the crater where shell had burst but spitting out fire from every aperture the French were hidden by one of our batteries intervening & every eye was strained to catch a glimpse of them swarming up the steep sides of the Malakoff when they did succeed in getting high enough up for us to see them, Russian officers we could see standing on the parapet & braving the fire & pointing to their men where to aim there [sic] guns after a while in front of us rose another rattle of musketry, indicating that our troops were attacking the Redan[.] It became difficult to us to distinguish how matters were going on for the musketry became incessant & as it became faint on one side it became louder on the other another but still we could see flashes from both the forts shewing that the Russians were still in possession[.] The first onset of the French evidently failed for their fire diminished then it renewed again & thro the smoke a flag was unfurled on the top of the Malakoff & we all cried out there in at last now for the Redan but we were soon undeceived the flag was hoisted by the Russians either as a defiance or more probably to let our their batteries know that they were still in possession & so prevent them from firing into it, the attack seemed to be several times renewed but each time the musketry was fainter[.] By this time the it was 8 o’clock the wind had risen & cleared away the mist & in the clean morning sun we could see every thing that stirred[.] I could see with my glass our storming party clustering like bees in the quarries & lying in long black lines under the shelter of the trenches taken from the Russians last week, nearer behind our batteries lay a double line of Redcoats ready to join as a reserve when it was evident that both we & the French had been beaten back the Gaurds [sic] & Highlanders were marched to act as a reserve for a final attack[.] While waiting to see the result of this, sad rumours began to speed among the crowd of officers & spectators gathered in the large crowds along the edge of Cathcarts hill, Sir J. Campbell my kind host of 6 weeks was said to be killed as well as the Col of the 57th Col Shadforth, Soon the rumours became a certainty & gloom was seen on every face for no man was more beloved by the whole army than Sir John, Bye & bye slightly wounded men came up supported by the other soldiers & the tale they told confirmed all our fears, our men had attacked twice & been driven back each time by a frightful fire of grape next an officer was borne up on a litter they had spread green boughs over his face to keep the sun from him his foot was broken, It was a Capt Lee (?) I think of the 57h Soon the wounded men came up in numbers[.] After waiting an hour & there being no signs of an immediate renewal of the attack I accepted an invite to breakfast from Gough Lieut of the Naval brigade on the way to his hut an Ambulance came up & in it a Naval Officer named Cave shot through the thigh[.] He said to Gough it had been a disgraceful attack mismanagement no orders we saw him to his tent & sat down to breakfast[.] Litter after litter came pouring in bringing wounded men to the hospital one poor fellow a seaman was brought in dead[.] Gough spoke of him as one of his best men so I went to look at him, One could scarcely believe he was dead he seemed just to be resting a little besides [sic] him lay sewn up in a blanket a sailor killed yesterday in my sight by a fragment of shell[.] I went into the Hospital[.] It was an awful sight but I will not shock you with the description[.] Returning to breakfast & it is an odd thing that in the midst of all these horrors no one loses his appetite[.] News kept dropping in first of one officer then of another of the Naval brigade being wounded[.] We had scarcely heard of the escape of one named Kidd when he was brought in mortally wounded by a shot through the chest[.] He had got through the fight & was quite happy & elated at his escape when he saw some of our men lying outside the Trench & in the attempt to drag them in got his death wound we went into the Hospital where he lay poor fellow he turned his glazing eyes upon us & then closed them, panting hardly for breath he died in a few minutes out of 60 of the Naval Brigade only 12 came out intact[.] News kept coming up of well known names that were henceforth to be only memories Col Yea was killed by the same shot that took off poor Sir John Campells [sic] head[.] Col Tylden was shot through both thighs & several Regts suffered terribly in their officers[.] Going back to Cathcarts hill there came up a terrible storm of wind sweeping up a cloud of dust that darkened the whole air[.] The crowd of spectators had disappeared & we heard that there was to be no further attack, I went on to see Halliwell [sic] found him lying in his tent trying to keep up his spirits with a bottle of Champagne he was taken with bad spasms in a few minutes & we had to rub his limbs hard for some time before he came round[.] It was the effect of hard work & no sleep he is not hurt[.] I then went to Edmund he is up & getting on nicely & would soon be well but that his wound runs very much & keeps him weak[.] It is said that the fine old Col Shirly [sic] is missing I hope it is not true 19h he has turned up wounded in the hand such is our anniversary of the 18h of June[.] In our confidence of success we had chosen this day it is said, that on the Anniversary of Waterloo a victory common to both nations might efface from the minds of one the recollection of their former defeat but we reckoned too proudly & now the 18h of June will be a glorious day to the Russians

19th I have just got news of the Orinoco being about to return & going to try to get by her There is no talk of a fresh assault, It is said now that both French & English will have to cont their way by sap into two forts[.] The 38h & two other regts it seems carried the part of the enemy’s position for which they were appointed but the rest having been ruined they could not move forward & would have been annihilated had they tried to return in day light[.] They got back to our Trenches last night at 10, having sheltered themselves during the day as well as they could among the ruined houses that cover the slope on the left of the Redan[.] Our loss is not yet known but the 18h 38h 57h & 44h have suffered very severely it is supposed that we have lost near 1500 men & the French 5,000 they always attack in much greater numbers than we do & so suffer more, our Engineers say that the defect was owing more to Genl Pellisier’s [sic] advancing the attack by 2 hours thus preventing our batteries from silencing the guns which the Russians had got into the Redan during the night, so that our men when they advanced from the trenches were met with a tremendous fire of grape[.] I incline to think that the facture of the attack was not owing to Genl Pellisier [sic], but to our own presumption in undervaluing the resistance to be expected[.] What’s to be done now no one can guess except that it will now be a long time before the town is taken[.] Engineer Officers say that we must go at it, again other officers say that we shall never take it till the last Engineer officer is hanged & that the proper way is to lick the enemy at Scimpheropol & then invade the town[.] Capt Peel who was wounded yesterday close to the ditch of the Redan says that it cannot be taken[.] Last night a soldier of the 89h came up & asked to see Lord Raglan[.] Col Steell [sic] asked what he wanted & was told that the privates of the Regt had him to offer on their part to storm the Redan if he would give them a regt as support[.] The men generally do not seem discouraged but their loss has been small in comparison with that of the officers[.] It is awfully hot again now, one drinks like a fish I reckoned yesterday that I took 17 tumblers of liquid 9 of which were tea 2 Champagne & the rest beer[.] If this army is distinguished by any character from all others we read of in history it is that it is a perspiring one our clothes are always wringing wet & we are obliged to wash all over twice a day[.] Well I shall be able I hope in a very short time to tell you all these things instead of writing them so good bye