OF THE CAMPAIGN IN THE CRIMEAN PENINSULA
IN 1854 AND 1855.
(From Voennyi Sbornik, 1874, Vol. 96, No. 4, pages 389-410.)
On 2 January 1854, our Archduke of Saxe-Weimars Ingermanland Hussar Regiment left its station at the village of Balaklei in Kharkov Province on the march to the Crimean Peninsula.
After many diversions, irritants, deprivations, and various adventures, in the beginning of March our regiments Leib-Squadron, in which I commanded the 1st Platoon, was directed to camp at the Tatar Village of Az, beyond the Perekop isthmus, where we not only did not encounter any attention or hospitality from the villages inhabitants, but even nature itself seemed to be angry with us. After having marched 25 miles through springtime vegetation, we were wet, cold, and hungry, but did not find anything there to satisfy lifes basic necessities. For the whole squadron, as well as all the villages inhabitants, there turned out to be only a single well, some 150 feet deep, which in just a half an hour was entirely drained until there was only mud. As a result of this, watering the horses lasted about 48 hours straight.
After our stay at Az, a place we were glad to leave, the regiment moved onward and passed through the peninsulas entire steppe region, through the villages of Yushun, Aibary, Trekh-Ablam, and Sarabuz, to finally reach Simferopol safely.
After three days we reached our cantonment quarters [kantonir-kvartiry] in the town of Karasubazar. Once everything was put in proper order here, we calmly awaited further orders, from time to time making moves from one part of the peninsula to another. We were in Staryi Krym near Theodosia, near Eupatoria, and on the Kacha and Belbek rivers, and in the first days of July we settled in the village of Sankt-Peterburgskie Mazanki, 11 miles from Simferopol in the direction of Theodosia. Here we remained until 31 August. On that day a cossack galloping from Eupatoria brought the ominous news to Simferopol that an enemy flotilla had come to the town and was already beginning to land the foe onto Russian shores. Upon receiving this news, our regiment was ordered to immediately move to that Simferopol, from where we were to go forth to meet the enemy. This was the moment that our new long-awaited life began for us.
From Simferopol we were ordered to move to the Alma River, to the village of Burlyuk. After setting off in this direction, we met infantry and artillery also going there. The night was exceedingly dark. Stretched out on the road in a long line, the troops did not know where they were or how far it was to the Alma River and Burlyuk. In anticipation of an enemy attack, silence was observed as much as possible during the march. It was still completely dark when our small force, whose composition was still not known to us, approached the place designated for it. Not really sure of where we were, we set up a picket line in front and sent out patrols. In this way, we were deployed on the left bank of the Alma River across from the village of Burlyuk. At dawn, the forces that had arrived were immediately placed into suitable positions in the areas they occupied.
From the night of 1 September to noon on the 7th, our force coming from Simferopol, consisting of the Borodino and Tarutino Jäger Regiments, the Kiev and Ingermanland Hussars with their artillery, and two Don cossack regiments, remained in place, only sending out forward posts and mounted patrols. On the morning of 7 September the Vladimir Infantry Regiment arrived to join the force, and on the 8th, just a quarter-hour before the beginning of the Battle of the Alma, the Moscow Regiment came from Theodosia, and entered an active battle right off the march.
Bivouac life and common interest unites all the service branches into one cordial family, so to speak, and the advance-post duties which lasted a whole week in one place acquainted all the officers with the area around us. In our circles of comrades we often analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of our position. In this, all the officers were of the same opinion that our weakest side was the left flank, that that was the only place where it was possible to outflank us. Therefor, everyone unanimously recognized that it was necessary to protect it better, either by building field fortifications or positioning a sufficient amount of artillery there. Subsequently it was said that during the fighting on the Alma, artillery was indeed sent to this point, but supposedly it was turned back along the way by some officer of the general staff, which made it possible for General Bosquet to come around our left flank.
At the orders of the commander-in-chief, Prince Aleksandr Sergeevich Menshikov, every night during the whole time were that were standing in this position we lit numerous campfires in the rear of our very small army (about 20,000 men), in the direction of Sevastopol. This gave the appearance of a bivouac of our main forces, and these fires could be seen from the enemy steamships and thus mislead them in regard to the size of our force.
After noon on 7 September, the Borodino and Tarutino Jäger Regiments and both hussar regiments with their artillery marched out under the command of General Kiryakov in order to carry out a reconnaissance. After crossing the Alma River, the troops moved beyond Burlyuk village in the following manner: the Ingermanland Hussars went to the village of Dzhavdzhurek, covered by Light No. 12 Horse Battery which on coming into position immediately opened fire on an enemy battery standing opposite it. The infantry with its artillery deployed behind the hussars and a little to the left. The Duke of Leuchtenbergs Kiev Hussar Regiment under the command of Major General Khaletskii moved a half turn to the left toward the sea.
The regiment descended into a wide ravine near Dzhavdzhurek and hoped to approach as close as possible to the enemy battery using the cover of the ravines zigzag edges, aiming to hit the battery in the flank. General Khaletskii calculated that the enemys attention would be distracted by our regiment and the 12th Battery and supposed that the plan would be crowned by complete success, but that is not what happened in the event.
The Kiev men, unfortunately, were dressed in white jackets [kurtki], the result of which was that General Kiryakov, who remained behind with our infantry regiments, mistook our hussars for enemy cuirassiers and sent forward our foot artillery with orders to fire on them.
I do not know how true was the widespread rumor of that time that this order was actually given out by General Kiryakov, but in any case the firing was done and about twenty Kiev men fell as its victims. However, this error was soon cleared up, but the enemys attention was already turned to our cavalry, and an attack by the Kiev Regiment became impossible.
After about an hour of exchanging shots with the enemy battery, the 12th Battery drew back to its position behind the Alma. The Ingermanland men who were covering it came after, and following behind them our whole force returned to its bivouac. Hardly had we returned when our regiments 1st Division was ordered to go out and set up advance posts. It was no use arguing, and regardless that we were very tired, we had to mount our horses again and ride forward to occupy the forward posts.
The night of 7/8 September passed quietly. Around dawn we perceived distant notes being played by the enemys bands, as if promising something bad. At 8 oclock in the morning we were relieved by the 2nd Division of our regiment and went into back into our positions. Hardly had our hussars set to cooking kasha gruel for themselves when the regimental commanders order rang out: "Saddle up!" ["Sedlai!"]. After a quick decision, the kettles of kasha were overturned bottom up, and work began at full speed. In seven minutes the regiment was already mounted on its horses. Masses of advancing enemy troops appeared on the horizon opposite our position, and on the sea, keeping to the shore, an innumerable host of ships was moving toward Sevastopol, leaving behind it an endless line of smoke. On coming even with our position, the steamships halted opposite our forces flank. On land the enemy moved forward, pushing in our advance posts which while they retreated set fire to everything encountered on the way. At the end, the village of Burlyuk was also aflame.
The Ingermanland Hussar Regiment, standing on a hill behind of a ravine occupied by our infantry and artillery, was directed to the left toward the sea in columns from the right by sixes [kolonna sprava po shesti].
Hardly had we moved from place when one of the steamers opened up low-angle ricochet fire [nastilno-rikoshetnyi ogon] on us. I was the flank officer [flagovyi ofitser] setting the direction for the entire regiment, and it was easy for me to determine how the enemy was directing his shots by the dust raised by the projectiles as they ricocheted. Once I saw this, I was constantly changing my course in order to bring the regiment to its assigned position with the least loss, going now to the right and now the left, warning beforehand the squadrons following behind me. After going in this way about 1 ½ miles under fire from the steamship, we arrived in place with the loss of four or five men in all. Then when we formed into close column [gustaya kolonna] at the very edge of the sea, the enemy ceased his firing. What prompted him to do this, to this day I do not understand, but I can speak of this since it was a true and done fact. Meanwhile, in the center of the position a heated battle had already begun: the enemy charged through burning Burlyuk, the artillery fire became more intense, and the musket firing turned into an uninterrupted drum roll. It was impossible for us to actually see what was occurring on the battlefield due to the smoke and fire.
The hussars stood motionless during the battle, and only when the troops began to withdraw did both hussar regiments move to cover their retreat. But fortunately the enemy did not pursue us and the retreat could not have been done better, but woe to us if St. Arnaud had been more decisive. The great many dead and the large numbers of wounded stragglers significantly hindered our movement and made it hard to maintain our necessary order. Even now I can see the whole train of supply wagons which went past our regiment with the seriously wounded who had been picked up off the battlefield. On each of our wagons were about fifteen men, many of whom could not sit but lay pressed against each other. In general, at that time the medical services in the forces left much to be desired. There was a terrible shortage of bandages and lint for dressings even though at the same time the storerooms of the Simferopol post office were overflowing with them due to huge amounts having been sent from all corners of Russia. Lint and bandages were only in the lazaret wagons and were treated as precious. Among the soldiers, though, no one had any.
When it began to get dark, both hussar regiments were halted to allow stragglers and walking wounded to pass. After standing still for about two hours, we moved forward and halted at the Kacha River, where Lizard [Lizard]a horse belonging to one of the Leib-Squadrons hussarscollapsed. (Although Lizard was dead, she would still do us a great service, as we shall see later.) On the morning of the 9th we safely reached the south side of Sevastopol. We stayed there for three days, and on the 12th the whole force, under the command of General Zhabokritskii, moved across the MacKenzie Heights toward the town of Bakhchisarai. Ascending to the top of the MacKenzie Heights, we stopped to rest on a flat upland surrounded on all sides by woods, out of which issued very bad, narrow, and uneven forest roads. However, the columns baggage train had not yet come up and was stretched out in a long line along the heights and the valley leading to the Chernaya Stream.
Not half an hour had passed when the columns rest was interrupted by a cossack galloping up with a report that enemy movement was seen to the left along the Sevastopol main road, and that they had sent part of their forces along the forest road leading to our columns resting place. On receiving this news, the column quickly got up from its halt and after safely crossing over the Kacha River, stood facing it with the town of Bakhchisarai in the rear. The columns supply train with an appropriate covering force, though, was still moving over the hills in the direction of the town.
A short time after we arrived in the above-mentioned place, the drawn-out echo of cannon fire reverberated down from the hilltop, and our train, which had been moving at a walk, now came down the slope at full speed, heedless of obstacles. It became clear to us that the enemy had seen our train and put artillery out on the road to open fire on it. An unbelievable confusion ensued in the supply train from these cannon shots: broken wagons, killed and wounded men and horses, blown-up ammunition caissons, and smashed wheels impeded the galloping wagons the whole way. All these barricades, sprung up in an instant, were as quick as lightning thrown into the ravine by the train personnel, officers servants, and train escort.
There was no chance to help the train in time, as it was going along the crown of a hill covered with woods, with a steep ravine on the right. The enemy kept up a heavy fire along the entire road and increased the disorder.
At the very start of this catastrophe, however, a division of the Kiev Hussar Regiment was sent to the place of attack, but it did not have a clear route and had to move forward in single file along wooded upland paths between pieces of wreckage from the train. The enemy was already gone when the division just managed to reach the top of the hill, so they turned around and returned to their own position, not having rendered any help to the train. As a result of this incident with the supply train, many of our regiments officers were left with only what they were carrying on their horses and in their pockets.
Our column camped in the valley of the Kacha River, near Bakhchisarai. It stayed in the same place four or five days with no knowledge of where the enemy was heading or how large his forces were. Finally, to find this out, our whole column moved out to find the enemy. We ascended the Duvankoi heights and halted for a rest. The space we spread out in was a rather wide flat upland with sheer edges on the side towards the uninhabited native village of Duvankoi, located right on the bank of the Kacha. This village, in direct distance, was so close to the place in which we were resting that a person standing at the river could hear everything said in the column halted on the hilltop. However, in order to go from the column to the river, one had to make a detour of 2½ miles.
Our regiment watered its horses beginning with the 8th Squadron, and the others followed from the halting place down to the river in descending numerical order. The 1st Squadron, which I was in, had to go to the watering point last. Hardly had we reached the river and started to take the bits out of the horses mouths when there was a cry to us from the hilltop, "1st Squadron, return at once! The column is leaving the halting place!" Not having satisfactorily finished watering the horses, we hurried to return to the column. But on coming to the place where it had been, we found not a single person, and even in the distance no one could be seen. Meanwhile, evening began to fall, and we went forward at random. After going about 1½ miles in this manner, we met a noncommissioned officer of the 2nd Squadron standing in a field. He relayed orders to us from the regimental commander to go to the post station on the Belbek. Just where this station was located, and what was the way to get there, neither we nor the hussar who had met us knew. What to do? Again we went forward by feel, not knowing where we were going.
Complete darkness fell. The road along which we were making our way led us into the narrow valley of the Kacha River. Heights covered with woods and gardens stretched along both sides of the valley. In the deep darkness of the southern night, the squadron moved forward with all precautions: a vanguard, rearguard, and flank patrols. Anything that appeared in our path got the most careful scrutiny. As a result, the keen-eyed hussars, regardless of the darkness, soon found an enemy kepi and canteen in the road during our descent into the valley. These items clearly showed that the enemy had passed along this way, so precautionary measures for a squadron on the move were increased: the squadron commander, Captain Matveevskii, halted his command and had the junior officers take turns going ahead about two miles with five hussars to see if the enemy was on the road, either in ambush or in bivouac. He only moved the squadron forward when a hussar sent by us reported that the way was clear. We covered seven miles in this manner. Finally, gently swaying lights appeared, which we immediately recognized as the lights on enemy ships. After looking around, we were sure that we were not far from the village of Mamashai, and to be exactthe place where our horse Lizard collapsed during the halt after the Battle of the Alma. Therefor, to our left there had to be the road going uphill to Sevastopol. Soon we even found Lizards dead body, which definitely confirmed our guesses.
After Captain Matveevskii was convinced that his squadron had arrived on familiar ground, he ordered Lieutenant Naumov to go with five hussars along the road to Sevastopol. The squadron itself began to slowly go uphill. Not half an hour had passed when a hussar sent by Naumov brought us the good news that our regiments bivouac site had been found. We headed in the direction pointed out to us and around sunrise came up to our regiment.
After resting no more than two hours, the column again moved forward. It came upon a ravine overgrown with small trees, near Sevastopols north side, and halted in it. We had no idea where the enemy was and whether or not he had occupied the north side. To find this out, the commander-in-chief sent Lieutenant Lintvarev of our regiment with one hussar and a Tatar scout as guide to Sevastopol with a written message to Admiral Kornilov, who was aboard the steamship Vladimir. The message was rolled into a little ball and given to Lintvarev with the instructions that if he reached Admiral Kornilov safely, he was to give him the message, but if he was captured, he was to swallow it. What this message contained remained a mystery for us. Thanks be to God, Lintvarev carried out his assigned mission with complete success. He delivered the message as directed and in no more than an hour and a half returned to the column with the news that the north side was clear.
The column immediately came out of the ravine to occupy the north side and establish communications with the city across the bay. On this same day town residents and all the sick military personnel and horses which had been sent here before the fight on the Alma began to be ferried out of the city. Up until this day, all advance-post duties in Sevastopol had been carried out by sick men on horses from the supply train, including a sixteen-year old cornet from our regiment named Sekerin who, when sick, had to be forced by our officers to leave the Alma position.
When our column arrived at Sevastopols north side, the infantry and its artillery stayed there after sending part of their forces into the city, and on the next day the cavalry with its artillery returned again to their previous position at Bakhchisarai. The cavalry stayed at that place until 25 September, sending only small detachments to the heights of Sevastopols north side to carry out advance-post duty.
On 25 September, the entire cavalry, under the command of General Ryzhev [sic, should be Ryzhov - M.C.], carried out a reconnaissance on Sevastopols south side which determined, firstly, what position the enemy was occupying on the south side, and then the numbers of allied troops. After the reconnaissance we again returned to the position at Bakhchisarai, where we stayed until 12 October. Remaining here for some time, we were witnesses to how after the first furious bombardment of Sevastopol on 5 October from land and sea, wagon trains came winding out of the city with wounded men who sometimes had not yet received the medical attention they should have gotten while on the battlefield. We stopped many of these on the road to bandage them and give them what supplies we could. These maimed heroes, with their courage and fortitude when enduring suffering, unconsciously acquired the greatest respect from all who saw them.
On the day of the first bombardment of Sevastopol the regiment was ten miles from the city. The bombardment was so heavy that it was impossible to make out individual cannons firing or even the salvos from whole batteries. It was an interrupted roar of siege guns, sounding forth so clear that they could have been thundering from our own position.
On 11 October there arrived at our position: the 12th Infantry Division with its artillery, a combined lancer regiment, a regiment of Ural cossacks, and one Don heavy battery. These camped near us on the Kacha River. On the 12th the whole force, consisting of the newly arrived troops and the two hussar regiments, moved between the hills to the village of Chorgun, where it arrived around dusk. Immediately upon our arrival at Chorgun, we received an order not to set up campfires so as to prevent us being observed by enemy advance posts some two miles away from us on the Balaklava heights, and regimental commanders were summoned to General Liprandi. After receiving instructions from the force commander, they returned to their regiments and relayed these to their officers, who in their turn explained them to the soldiers.
As we heard at the time, on 13 October, according to the deployment orders, it was proposed to take from the Turks four redoubts built on the Balaklava heights and drive them out of the village of Komary. Then we were to send the Kiev and Ingermanland Hussar Regiments across the already-occupied Balaklava heights to the enemy artillery park located to the right of the village of Kadykioi. Once the hussars had put the parks wagons out of order, they were to retreat. After this, artillery fire was supposed to blow up the park, the enemy already having been deprived of the means to move it away.
After the orders were received, there began the usual preparations for battle. The first business, of course, was to hear prayer services. Then each officer gave his men instructions in case of his death and all his money. Letters were written to relatives. In the column all became noticeably quieter. Here or there was only a small candle glowing under a bush where some officer, lying on a rug, was finishing his letter.
Soon everyone in the force got busy and began getting ready to march forth. At about two oclock at night the column was already strung out in the narrow ways between the hills. In front marched the infantry, in the middle was the artillery, and the cavalry came behind. In spite of the short distance we had to go to reach the enemy, we only reached the Chernaya Stream at dawn. The artillery and infantry forded the stream and crossed a bridge over a small canal. They were in the valley of the Chernaya Stream opposite the Balaklava heights where the enemy redoubts were. The cavalry, under General Ryzhevs command, along with the artillery park, halted at the bridge without crossing the canal. At the same time we were doing all this, General Zhabokritskiis division arrived from Sevastopols north side and occupied the Fedyukhin Heights.
The weather was beautiful. With the first rays of the rising sun, the opening shot from our cannons reverberated between the hills, beginning a bombardment of the Turkish artillery in the redoubts on the Balaklava heights. In no more than an hour the Turkish artillery began to slacken noticeably. General Liprandi judged this moment to be the most suitable for the attack, and personally took the battalions of the Azov and Dnieper Regiments into battle while sending General Gribbe to take Komary with two jäger regiments.
It was wonderful to see the fine infantry fellows, showered with a storm of bullets and canister, go bravely into the attack. At about six oclock the soldiers "Ura!" shook the air. In a single moment the Turks were forced out of their fortifications and Russian flags were planted on the redoubts of the Balaklava heights. The impression made by this magnificent attack was extraordinarily strong. Tears of joy and emotion at this great moment flowed from the eyes of those who were observing the course of the battle. Even now I can see Colonel Klunnikovs agile and proficient Don battery driving past our regiment. It was going to the artillery park to refill its caissons after this glorious victory, having shot off all its ammunition at the enemy. The forage caps of the brave Don artillerymen flew high into the air, and with one voice a "Ura!" joyously spread through the ranks of our forces which had taken up their positions.
After the redoubts were taken, at General Liprandis orders the 5th and 6th Squadrons of our regiment were sent to the right flank, to the Chernaya Stream beyond the Fedyukhin Heights. The 7th Squadron stayed behind covering the artillery while our remaining five squadrons and the whole of the Kiev Hussar Regiment were sent toward the supposed artillery park located at the bend in the enemys line of troop positions.
Before relating the cavalrys actions, I consider it necessary to describe the terrain which we had to traverse. Immediately beyond the bridge over the canal, between the Fedyukhin Heights on the right and the Balaklava heights on the left, there spread the level and rather narrow valley of the Chernaya Stream. Right behind the Balaklava heights on the left there began a wide plain, gradually sloping down and then rising again to the position of the enemy. To the right of our intended route rose Sapun Hill, crowned with French guns. In front of us the angle in the enemy dispositions, toward which we were to go, was manned by the English. Turkish soldiers were positioned to the left on the heights between the town of Balaklava and the village of Kadykioi, also protected by artillery. In a word, the enemy position, relative to our movement, was in the form of a huge lunette with its throat facing toward us, whose flanks were Sapun Hill and heights next to Balaklava. The angle of the lunette was in the direction of the St. George Monastery. From the fortified heights, the enemy could freely fire upon the whole plain which we had to cross.
Hardly had the hussars, moving in attack columns [v kolonnakh k atake], crossed over the crest of the Balaklava heights and at an accelerated trot begun to approach the described angle in the enemy position, when a fierce crossfire opened up on them from all the guns on the enemys flanks. Thus, to reach the artillery park as intended we had to pass through enemy fire for a further mile or two. The closer we approached our assigned objective, the more noticeably intense the bombardment became. To the fire of the artillery was added fire from riflemen who had descended on all sides along the slopes of the heights occupied by the enemy. We were literally advancing under fire. The hussar ranks grew thinner each second, but the squadrons pressed on undiscouraged. While still on the move we saw that we would not have to deal with an artillery park, as supposed in our battle orders, but with English cavalry fully ready for battle. Between us and the English we could see their horse lines and serving tables [konovyazi i servirovannye stoly].
In fine fashion the hussars deployed our front almost in front of the Englishmens noses, and with cries of "Ura!" we skillfully charged into the attack. The horse lines and tables were overturned, and we fell upon the English. Our regiment had to fight with Queen Victorias Regiment of Dragoon Guards in their red coats. The firing at us immediately ceased, and in its place there began a hand-to-hand fight. Neither we nor the English wanted to give way to the other. In the general mêlée, which lasted eight or ten minutes, one could hear neither shouted commands nor the bugle due to the cries of "Ura!" Our hussars were, so to speak, grappled with the English. Finally, the latter turned around. We charged after them, but were turned back by General Ryzhov and went back to our force.
As I already said, we were facing Queen Victorias Regiment of Dragoon Guards, the flower of the whole English cavalry. I do not know why they received us standing in place, not moving forward a single step. This considerate favor on their part gave us greatly improved odds in the attack. Had they struck us at full speed with the well-formed mass of their big horses, in all likelihood our own horses would not have had the strength to withstand them. All the more so since before our attack made contact with the English, we had to overcome two obstaclestables and horse lines which could not help but prevent us from maintaining a tight formation. Besides this, we were already weakened by significant casualties from being shot at and had to attack the enemy uphill. When two masses of cavalry attack each other, it often happens that one of them gives way even before the actual impact. However, as explained above, here the actual clash occurred under conditions which were completely unfavorable for our hussars, and then there began a furious slashing away while standing in place. Taking all this into account, one may venture to say that our regiments attack must be counted among the most noteworthy of cavalry actions, and that our hussars honorably carried out their duty in battle with the enemy.
Having described the overall course of the attack, I will now relate some individual episodes from the affair. When we rushed onto the dragoons, our regiments 2nd Squadron, being pressed from the left side, veered to the right at full gallop, pushed on the 1st Squadron and forced it to unwittingly do the same. As a result, the Leib-Squadrons 1st Platoon, which I commanded, did not have any enemy facing it at the moment we collided with the English, since the foes left flank ended opposite the right flank of our squadrons 2nd Platoon. Taking advantage of this, with my platoon I immediately struck the English squadrons left flank and rear, hewed into it, and seriously disorganized its alignment. I am embarrassed that I cannot give an account of what exactly I did there. I only remember that I struck one dragoon in the shoulder, and my saber bit so deep into him, that I only drew it out with difficulty. Now the cut-up dragoon fell from his horse and his spurs caught my horses bit reins [mundshtuchnye povodya] and tore them, so that my horse reared up and almost fell over.
The commander of the 3rd Squadron, Captain Petr Pavlovich Marin (now commander of the reserve squadron of the Sumy Hussar Regiment), was some distance in front of his command when it struck the enemy and was knocked off his horse. This brave officer did not panic, but again mounted his horse and cut his way back through the enemy front to reach his squadron. During this, he received three head wounds, of which one cleaved the bone. In spite of this, after reaching his squadron he again took his place at its head and paid no attention to the blood streaming from his wounds. The sight of the brave commander, without his shako on his head and with blood clotting on his long moustache, inspired his hussars even more.
The commander of the 2nd Division, Colonel Mikhail Konstantinovich Dekinlein, who was a venerable 70 years old, was splattered with the blood and brains of his trumpeter when that man was killed beside him, but he urged his horse to its utmost speed and boldly tore into the enemy ranks. He was unusually strong and the whole division saw him as he straightaway cut a path for himself in the enemy formation. Before this action, Dekinlein and Marin had long been on bad terms with each other, but after the attack, the brave men gave each other his due recognition and after kissing heartily, became friends. They both served as best examples for their subordinates.
Major General Ivan Albertovich Khaletskii, the commander of His Imperial Highness the Duke of Leuchtenbergs Kiev Hussar Regiment, commanded our brigade in this action as the brigade commander, General Velichko, was sick. At the first clash with the enemy, General Khaletskii discharged his pistol and in the mêlée was wounded in the ear and neck. Then his saber was knocked from his hand and he was completely unarmed. The orderly who was with him, 65-year old Karp Antonovich Pivenko, a non-commissioned officer from our regiment, gave him his own saber. Pivenko then slid from his horse, picked up the saber that had been knocked from the generals hand, jumped back onto his horse, and then managed to deflect a blow that just then was being aimed at General Khaletskii. For this deed Pivenko received his second St.-George Cross.
(Note: He received his first for an attack on an enemy square during the Hungarian campaign while serving in Captain Radens squadron of Her Royal Majesty Olga Nikolaevnas Hussar Regiment. This is the same Pivenko who was known to Emperor Nicholas Pavlovich, and whom the emperor personally invited during a review at Chuguev to join the Palace Company [of Grenadiers]. Pivenko answered the Sovereign that he was ready to serve anywhere His Imperial Majesty pleased, but requested that as a favor, he be allowed to die a hussar. The old fellows wish came true. In the spring of 1855, when we were bivouacked in the Crimea near the village of Petrovskoe, we buried the old warrior with due honor after he was felled to typhoid fever.)
Here is yet another interesting event. Non-commissioned Officer Samoshchenko of the 1st Squadron took part in the attack on the English while mounted on an English horse. It happened this way: Samoshchenkos horse was killed at the very beginning of the attack. Left unharmed on the field, he followed after the regiment on foot. But after the attack began, and horses from slain English dragoons were starting to wander over the field, Samoshchenko caught one of them, mounted it, and charged into an enemy squadron. This incident shows how lengthy and prolonged our attack was.
In the fury of the hand-to-hand fight Captain Matveevskii was seriously wounded in the eye, the bone of the orbit being split, after which I took over the squadron at the order of the regimental commander, Major General Butovich.
After we separated from the English and began to withdraw, I wanted to see my squadron better and bring it to good order, so I fell behind it and saw that instead of a whole squadron I only had no more than three platoons. All the rest had been either wounded or killed. During our retreat, enemy rounds again began to shower on us, and with each step the ranks of the squadron became thinner and thinner. By the time we came out of the cannon fire, the Leib-Squadron had become a half-squadron. It had only five or six files remaining in each platoon, when it had gone into action with twelve. Our 2nd Division suffered most of all. On coming out of action it had four or fewer files left in each platoon. Almost all the officers of our regiments five squadrons that had been in the action were wounded. Especially seriously injured were squadron commanders Matveevskii (1st), Svechin (2nd), Marin (3rd), and Aleshchenko (4th), and platoon commanders Lieutenant Khamzaev (a Circassian) and Cornet Belyavskii. I have already spoken of Matveevskiis and Marins wounds. Svechin was seriously contused in the chest when a cannonball tore off his horses head. Aleshchenko and Belyavskii had their heads cut up in many places, and Khamzaev received several saber blows in the face. The commander of the 8th Squadron, Captain Khitrovo, Lieutenant Stavitskii, and Cornet Gorelov were all cut up.
The late Khitrovo seemed to have foreseen his own death, and took the trouble to give his commander a sum of money he owed to the treasury. (Note: Some twelve years before this, when Khitrovo was still a junker [officer candidate] in His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Constantine Nikolaevichs Hussar Regiment, the regimental cash box was robbed while he was on guard duty. As a result, Khitrovo and the regiments duty officer were fined the missing sum, which by 25 October was still about 1500 roubles. In order to keep his old father from having to pay this money in his place, just before the fight Khitrovo hastened to give his due share to the commander of the regiment.) This brave officer, died as a result of his hot-headedness. He had an excellent jumper for a horse and while we were beginning to deploy from attack columns in order to strike the English, he commanded "Form front!", and without waiting for the squadron to form up, he charged forward alone and immediately disappeared into the enemy ranks in front of the eyes of his squadron. Mortally wounded, Khitrovo was picked up by the English after the battle and carried onto a steamship, where he was with captured Lieutenant Obukhov of the Kiev Hussar Regiment. After his return from captivity, Obukhov told how Khitrovo had died no more than six hours after being carried onboard the steamer. In this affair the magnificent hussars showed how they could die with honor and glory on the field of battle.
In the official report of that day, I do not know why nothing was said about this noteworthy attack. In all justice it should occupy an honored place not only in the history of our regiment, but in the history of the whole Russian cavalry. (Note: In the report of our brigade commander, General Sukhotin, who took over the brigade the day after the battle, the facts I have related were all laid out in detail.)
After returning from the English camp to the position occupied by Russian troops, we were put in the valley of the Chernaya Stream between the Balaklava and Fedyukhin heights. In our rear was the canal and the bridge over it, and in front was Sapun Hill. In this position we were deployed in the following manner: in front of everyone, across the whole width of the valley, were placed Light No. 12 Horse Battery, the Don cossack heavy battery, and a heavy foot battery; forty paces from the artillery, in the first line, was the Ural Cossack Regiment with an extended front; in the second line, at the same distance [i.e. forty paces] from the first line, was the Kiev Hussar Regiment in attack columns; forty paces from them, in the third line, in an extended front, were deployed five badly hurt squadrons of our Ingermanland Hussar Regiment. Behind us in the bushes, a little to the left, stood the combined regiment of Lancers, which had not been in the fighting, under the command of Colonel Yeropkin; on the Ural cossacks right flank, at a right angle both to them and to the attacking enemy, was placed our regiments 7th Squadron.
About an hour after taking up these positions, we saw the entire English cavalry coming toward us between the Balaklava Heights and Sapun Hill. The English came out into the valley of the Chernaya Stream, turned to the front, and in magnificent style came at us at full speed in several compact columns, one after the other.
While it was being attacked by the English, our artillery did not inflict the least damage to them in spite of heavy firing: all the canister flew over their heads, and they set upon the guns and began to cut down the crews. Encouraged by their success, the English tore through the intervals between the guns and immediately attacked our regiments 7th Squadron in the flank, overturning it and then hitting the Ural men. The Ural cossacks were shaken and galloped back to fly right into the Kiev troopers. The Kiev hussars, who had suffered heavily in the first attack, did not have the strength to withstand the fierce assault of such a large mass of cavalry and turned on our five squadrons followed closely by the Ural cossacks and the pursuing enemy.
When this mass of cavalry raced into us, we were overturned since we were standing with an extended front and so forced to retreat to the canal whether we wanted to or not. With no breeze blowing at all, between the hills there was a dense cloud of gunpowder smoke and dust raised by the galloping cavalry, so impenetrable that nothing could be observed even at close distances to oneself. At this time Colonel Yeropkins Combined Lancer Regiment, which had not yet taken part in the fighting and was standing off from our left in the bushes, struck the enemy in the right flank, while the Ural men and hussars turned around and charged the English from the front. As a result, they were pushed off to their left into the infantry drawn up in battalion squares by General Zhabokritskii along the slope of the Fedyukhin Heights, and which received the Englishmen with crossfire. These then threw themselves to their right toward the Balaklava Heights, but there General Liprandi gave them the same rebuff as had General Zhabokritskii. In this way, the remnants of the English cavalry, with our infantry on either side and pressed by cavalry from behind, had to go back on the same route by which they came to us, i.e. through the intervals between our artillery pieces. The enemy horsemen, accompanied by the effective firing of our artillery, were almost all hit, and no more than ten or twelve men were able to return back and save themselves. Among them was Lord Cardigan, who owed his life to the speed of his horse.
The results of the battle of 13 October were magnificent: four redoubts were captured as well as twelve guns and many Turkish arms and entrenching tools, and almost all the English cavalry was destroyed. But since the hussars are reproached for retreating during the English attack upon us, I consider it necessary while describing the affair of 13 October 1854 to quickly look at the situation preceding this attack. We were positioned with very short distances between lines, and furthermore our regiment in the fourth line was formed with an extended front and not in a compact column. It is understandable that under such conditions our squadrons could not let the retreating Leuchtenbergers and Ural men through and then charge the enemy, but rather had to yield to the force of the whole mass of cavalry coming down on their front.
Along with this it must be remembered that these five squadrons of the Weimar Regiment were already exhausted by their previous actions and much weakened by the casualties it had incurred. Taking all this into account, it must be agreed that hardly any other cavalry could have done anything more in this situation in which we found ourselves.
At about 8 oclock on the night of 13 October, three dragoon regiments came to us under the command of General Wrangel: the Moscow, Kargopol, and Kinburn Regiments. The dragoons were placed in front of the canal, while the hussars with horse and cossack batteries and the artillery park were brought back behind the canal, though our regiments 5th and 6th Squadrons were sent out to advance posts. The dragoons deployed in their assigned positions in close regimental columns [gustye polkovye kolonny], dismounted, and held their horses by hand because the carts carrying their camp equipment [artelnye povozki], including rope for the horse lines, had not yet come up. At nightfall, tired from their forced march, the men and horses of the dragoon regiments slumbered. We ourselves, who had hardly been off our horses for almost 24 hours and were completely exhausted, settled down to rest. We built campfires, put the horses in their lines, and busied ourselves around our kettles to cook some kasha porridge. In a word, at our position everything acquired the appearance of the bivouac life long familiar to us.
Suddenly, at 10 oclock at night, the command "Saddle up!" was shouted through our camp. Everyone was startled awake and at work in an instant. In the distance was heard the rumble of cavalry and then came the sound of heavy cannon fire from the Fedyukhin and Balaklava heights. We mounted our horses and went forward over the canal, while the artillery with its park stayed in place. Due to the pitch dark night, we could see nothing of what was going on in front of us. In the meantime, the artillery fire grew in intensity.
This firing lasted about fifteen minutes. When everything had quieted down, it was explained that the paymaster [kaznachei] of the Kargopol Dragoon Regiment had gone to the regimental cash box and accidentally broke it while opening its lid. A piece of the lid fell and startled the horses. As a result, in the Kargopol Dragoon Regiment the horses of all ten squadrons 4th Platoons, standing near the box, tore loose from the hands of the persons holding them and ran at top speed toward the enemy lines. Generals Liprandi and Zhabokritskii heard the cavalry galloping, and supposing that the enemy was making a night attack, had all the guns with them on the heights open fire. The enemy in turn, thinking that this was an attack from our side, also opened up a very heavy artillery bombardment from Sapun Hill.
When the dragoon horses, heedless of the firing, ran to Sapun Hill and appeared among the French batteries, the French were fully convinced that it was our cavalry attacking, spiked their guns, and ran off. The horses penetrated through all the enemy batteries and trenches facing Sevastopol, and galloped into the city itself. On the morning of the 14th, we found out that many of the 250 stampeded horses were killed or wounded. One by one, the unharmed or lightly wounded ones were brought out of Sevastopol to us at our positions. Thus, without having been in action, from this accident the Kargopol Dragoon Regiment lost two and a half squadrons of horses.
From 13 to 24 October to 5 November there were no actions of any kind. We only stood in the positions we had occupied, holding on to them and going out on advance-post duty. But at dawn on 24 October, a fierce battle began at Inkerman. Our infantry advanced on the enemy from the direction of Inkerman while the cavalry, along with the 12th Infantry Division, made a demonstration from the valley of the Chernaya Stream.
We behind the heights were unable to see what exactly was happening where our infantry was fighting. However, the sound of musket fire gradually came closer to us, though it had been barely audible in the distance at the start of the action on the right flank, and subsequently was coming right opposite us on Sapun Hill, giving us the happy news of the success of Russian arms. Our joy, as it turned out later, was premature. The Russian soldiers did indeed force the enemy from all the English trenches and fortifications built against Sevastopol, but unfortunately they were unable to hold on to their gains due to heavy losses. Everyone is familiar with the outcome of the battle: General Bosquet hurried to his allies with fresh troops and soon regained all that our infantry had taken. The cavalry and 12th Infantry Division stood inactive for the whole course of the fighting, the former in the Chernaya Stream valley and the latter on the neighboring heights, and they only exchanged infrequent cannon shots with the enemy.
Enduring every possible kind of deprivation, we remained in the position we had occupied on 13 October, right up to the time frosts began. Since there were no warm barracks [teplye baraki], with the onset of cold weather all the troops were brought into winter quarters [zimnye kvartiry] except for a small part of the infantry and cossacks, left to keep watch on the enemy. These same Fedyukhin Heights, abandoned by us in 1854, were occupied by the enemy in the spring of 1855 without firing a shot. On 4 August 1855, when Russian troops tried to take them back, they cost us much spilled blood to no avail.
Until leaving for winter quarters, provisions for men and horses were pitiful in the extreme. Sometimes there was no straw or oats for three days straight. Rusk and groats were issued irregularly, and no vodka was seen for more than two months. The sutlers with the troops sold food items at fabulously high prices. Because there was no fodder, I fed my horse rolls and paid 45 and 50 kopecks apiece for them.
The horses became so gaunt that on none of them could the surcingle be drawn tight, since they became too long so that the horse harness hung loose and swung round as soon as the soldiers tried to mount by putting their feet into the stirrups. Without the men helping one another it would have been impossible to mount a horse in the normal manner. The saddle immediately turned over on the side, so that mounting the men on their horses came to be a rather long and serious operation.
When our regiment went into winter quarters, six of its squadrons were sent to the neighborhood of the Rozental colony, while the 1st and 2nd Squadrons were quartered in the deserted native villages of Aksheikh and Otarkoi in case any need arose for cavalry. On the 20-mile march between Bakhchisarai and Simferopol, our regiments six squadrons lost some 25 horses from exhaustion. The hussars took the saddle harness and bridles from their fallen comrades and, sinking up to their knees in mud, carried them on their shoulders to Simferopol. In Aksheikh, where the Leib-Squadron stayed three weeks, all the straw and rush roofs in the hamlet were devoured by the horses with great appetite. There were also instances when the horses chewed on each others tails and manes.
After three weeks we were relieved by the 2nd Division of our regiment and moved from Aksheikh to Rozental.
Soon after this, Major General Gechevich of His Imperial Majestys Suite was sent to inspect our regiment [Note. Major General Lev Vikentevich Gechevich of the light cavalry, sent out from St. Petersburg in December 1854. He was commissioned in 1827, promoted to major general in 1851, and was an expert on cavalry matters, being at this time a member of a special committee for rewriting the manual on cavalry drill and tactics. M.C.] He was very dissatisfied with the condition of the horses and suggested on the spot that the regiment be turned over to Colonel Dekinlein, who remained its commander until he retired. Early in the spring of 1855 we departed the neighborhood of Rozental and together with the 4th Reserve Don Cossack Battery, which was under the command of Voiskovoi Starshina [cossack major] Klunnikov, settled into bivouac near the village of Petrovskoe, about four miles from the Sultanovka post station. In front of us on the other side of Sultanovka were Colonel Zhilinskiis Black-Sea Cossack Regiment and Colonel Popovs Don Cossack Regiment. All this cavalry along with the battery was placed under Major General Nikolai Nikolaevich Sukhotin, while this force combined with the infantry and artillery at Kerch-Yenikale, Theodosia, and the Arabat Spit was under the command of the hero of Bayazet, Lieutenant General Baron Wrangel. [On 29 July 1854, General Wrangel had smashed the Turkish Bayazet corps on the Chingilsk Heights on the Transcaucasian front. M.C.]
About a month and a half after we arrived at Petrovskoe, we received news that an enemy fleet with a landing force was approaching the town of Kerch and the Pavlovsk Battery, and consequently General Sukhotins whole force moved at a trot toward Kerch. We had not gone seven miles in the direction of the town when we saw rising plumes of black smoke and then heard shots being fired. Moving forward three more miles, we met the Kerch and Pavlovsk garrisons, who declared to us that the town and battery were already occupied by the enemy, and that they blew up their powder magazines on General Wrangels orders and withdrew in the face of greatly superior numbers of enemy troops. General Wrangel also came riding out of Kerch soon after these men. We joined with these garrisons and waited for the Yenikale garrison to also arrive. We stayed in this spot for three days, after which our regiments 1st Division with two guns, under the command of Major Nikolai Mikhailovich Markov, was sent to the Tatar village of Kiteni to protect laborers moving provisions and coal from the Sea of Azovs coastline. Of the rest of the troops, the cavalry with a cossack battery withdrew to Petrovskoe, while the infantry went to Theodosia, Parpach, and the Arabat Spit. After the coast had been cleared of provisions and coal, the 1st Division, along with the two guns, returned to its column located at the village of Petrovskoe. After staying here for about two months, the small force then left for the Tatar village of Agib-Eli. From the day the enemy occupied Kerch up to the conclusion of peace, General Sukhotin continuously sent mounted patrols along the coastlines of the Black and Azov seas, and also along the Arabat Spit as far as Genichesk. While patrolling in these areas, we met with similar patrols from the enemy.
There was no especially important fighting for us, but small cavalry skirmishes were not infrequent. Of these, two were of somewhat greater significance: one with a squadron of Turkish hussars, and another with a French squadron of chasseurs dAfrique. In the first skirmish almost the entire Turkish squadron was taken prisoner. They were following after a retreating sotnia of Black Sea cossacks when two other sotnias previously hidden behind a hill came around their flank and rear. Especially noteworthy in this skirmish was a duel between a Black Sea khorunzhii [cossack ensign] and an English captain of the general staff named Sherwood. The Black Sea cossack somehow became separated from his sotnia, and Sherwood went after him, firing six shots from his revolver. As long as Sherwood had not fired all six of his rounds, the Black Sea cossack galloped away from him and in dzhigitovka trick-riding fashion presented only his legs and horse as a target. After counting Sherwoods firing, the cossack sat properly on his horse and charged at his opponent, who was fatally wound in the side and spine by a successful shot from a single-shot pistol. When the wounded Sherwood was brought to Petrovskoe to the house used by Sukhotin, the Black Sea khorunzhii was the first to give aid to his erstwhile enemy and cared for him as if he were his closest relative. Sherwood lived no longer than 24 hours. Before his death he asked for General Sukhotin, expressed his respect for him, and made his last confession as if to a priest, in which he asked the general to send his mother a gold medallion with her portrait, which he was wearing over his breast. This last request of a dying man was carried out exactly and the portrait was delivered as directed through the general staff, for which Mrs. Sherwood, as a sign of gratitude, sent a fine pair of military binoculars to General Sukhotin.
[Note: An obituary notice for Richard Surtees Sherwood, Captain in the Anglo-Turkish contingent cavalry, was published in the Gentleman's Magazine (Feb 1856 page 210). He died on 19 December 1855 in the Cossack camp, near Kerch, from wounds received during a skirmish on 16 December. He had previously been a lieutenant in the 1st Bombay Lancers. There is also a reference to his fate in the Foreign News section of the same issue of the Gentleman's Magazine (on page 174): "Capt. Sherwood and five men of the Turkish cavalry killed near Kertch while foraging on 16 December 1855. His name also appears in Colborne and Brines Memorials of the Brave, Appendix 16: "Captain (local rank) in the Turkish Contingent. He arrived in the East during October 1855 and died of wounds at Kertch on 19 December 1855 whilst a prisoner of war." I thank Mr. Michael Hinton for this information. M.C.]
In the second skirmish of note, with the squadron of chasseurs dAfrique, forty of their men were taken prisoner, of whom about thirty were seriously wounded. On the day after this affair a truce officer, Captain Bon, rode over to us bringing money, underwear, and clothing for the prisoners.
While staying at Agib-Eli, we no longer lacked for provisions; there was even a lavish abundance of them. Our soldiers ate cabbage soup with fresh sturgeon that we bought in Kiteni at 1 rouble 20 kopecks a pood [36 pounds]. But in regard to water we suffered a great shortage. For the whole regiment and battery, there were only four wells half a mile from the bivouac, and those had barely tolerable water which could not be given to the men except with vinegar, due to the threat of scurvy.
On 26 March 1856, after the conclusion of peace, we left the Crimea
Retired Staff-Captain Yevgenii Arbuzov.
Note to the article
"Reminiscences of the Campaign in the Crimean Peninsula in 1854 and 1855."
(From Voennyi Sbornik, 1874, Vol. 96, No. 6, page 396.)
After reading the article "Reminiscences of the Campaign in the Crimean Peninsula in 1854 and 1855" in the April issue of this years Voennyi Sbornik, I consider it necessary to point out an error hidden in this piece.
Without going into a critical analysis of the article, I turn directly to the part where the affair of 13 October 1854 is described. On page 398, the 12th line from the bottom, it is said: "General Liprandi judged this moment to be the most suitable for the attack, and personally took the battalions of the Azov and Dnieper Regiments into battle," etc. General Liprandis name is placed here erroneously; it should be General Semyakin, since the regiments of the 1st Brigade of the 12th Infantry Division were personally led into the assault on the Turkish redoubts by the brigade commander, Major General Semyakin, who at the head of his brigade went up into the redoubt and planted in it the flag of the Azov Regiment. For this deed, and for the battle of 13 October in general, which he directed and for which he wrote the battle plan and deployment, General Semyakin was decorated with the order of St. George 3rd class.
General Liprandi was not with the 1st Brigade during the storming of the redoubts, but at the end of the affair came to thank the troops who took part in the assault.
A Sevastopol veteran.
Translated by Mark Conrad, 2000.