LORD RAGLAN'S REPORT OF THE ATTACK ON BALAKLAVA.
(Lord Raglan's despatch No. 85 addressed to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. From The Times, Monday, 13 November 1854, as reprinted from the London Gazette Extraordinary of Sunday, 12 November.)
Before Sevastopol, Oct. 28.
My Lord Duke,I have the honor to acquaint your Grace that the enemy attacked the position in the front of Balaklava at an early hour on the morning of the 25th inst.
The low range of heights that runs across the plain at the bottom of which the town is placed was protected by four small redoubts hastily constructed. Three of these had guns in them; an on a higher hill, in front of the village of Camara, in advance of our right flank, was established a work of somewhat more importance.
The several redoubts were garrisoned by Turkish troops, no other forces being at my disposal for their occupation.
The 93d Highlanders was only British regiment in the plain, with the exception of a part of a battalion of detachments composed of weakly men, and a battery of artillery belonging to the Third Division; and on the heights behind our right were placed the Marines, obligingly landed from the fleet by Vice-Admiral Dundas. All these, including the Turkish troops, were under the immediate orders of Major-General Colin Sir Campbell, whom I had taken from the First Division with the 93d.
As soon as I was apprised of this movement of the enemy, I felt compelled to withdraw from before Sevastopol the First and Fourth Divisions, commanded by Lieutenant-Generals his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge and the Hon. Sir George Cathcart, and bring them down into the plain; and General Canrobert subsequently reinforced these with the First Division of French infantry and the Chasseurs dAfrique.
The enemy commenced their operations by attacking the work in our side of the village of Camara, and after very little resistance carried it.
They likewise got in possession of the three others in contiguity to it yet, but opposed only in one, and that but for a very sort space of time.
The furthest of the three they did not retain, but the immediate abandonment of the others enabled them to take possession of the guns in them, amounting in the whole to seven. Those in the three lesser forts were spiked by the one English artilleryman who was in each.
The Russian cavalry at once advanced, supported by artillery, in very great strength. One portion of them assailed the front and right flank of the 93d, and were instantly driven back by the vigorous and steady fire of that distinguished regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Ainslie.
The other and larger mass turned towards Her Majestys heavy cavalry, and afforded Brigadier-General Scarlett, under the guidance of the Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan, the opportunity of inflicting upon them a most signal defeat. The ground was very unfavorable for the attack of our Dragoons, but no obstacle was sufficient to check their advance, and they charged into the Russian column, which soon sought safety in flight, although far superior in numbers.
The charge of this brigade was one of the most successful I ever witnessed, was never for a moment doubtful, and is in the highest degree creditable to Brigadier-General Scarlett and the officers and men engaged in it.
As the enemy withdrew from the ground which they had momentarily occupied, I directed the cavalry, supported by the Fourth Division, under Lieutenant-General Sir George Cathcart, to move forward, and take advantage of any opportunity to regain the heights; and, not having been able to accomplish this immediately, and it appearing that an attempt was making to remove the captured guns, the Earl of Lucan was desired to advance rapidly, follow the enemy in their retreat, and try to prevent them from effecting their objects.
In the meanwhile the Russians had time to reform on their own ground, with artillery in front and upon their flanks.
From some misconception of the instruction to advance, the Lieutenant-General considered that he was bound to attack at all hazards, and he accordingly ordered Major-General the Earl of Cardigan to move forward with the Light Brigade.
This order was obeyed in a most spirited and gallant manner. Lord Cardigan charged with the utmost vigour, attacked a battery which was firing upon the advancing squadrons, and, having passed beyond it, engaged the Russian cavalry in its rear; but there his troops were assailed by artillery and infantry as well as cavalry, and necessarily retired, after having committed much havoc upon the enemy.
They effected this movement without haste or confusion; but the loss they have sustained has, I deeply lament, been very severe in officers, men, and horses, only counterbalanced by the brilliancy of the attack and the gallantry, order, and discipline which distinguished it, forming a striking contrast to the conduct of the enemys cavalry which had previously been engaged with the heavy brigade.
The Chasseurs dAfrique advanced on our left and gallantly charged a Russian battery, which checked its fire for a time, and thus rendered the British cavalry an essential service.
I have the honor to enclose copies of Sir Colin Campbells and the Earl of Lucans reports.
I beg to draw your Graces attention to the terms in which Sir Colin Campbell speaks of Lieutenant Colonel Ainslie, of the 93d, a Captain Barker, of the Royal Artillery; and also to the praise bestowed by the Earl of Lucan on Major-General the Earl of Cardigan and Brigadier-General Scarlett, which they most fully deserve.
The Earl of Lucan not having sent me the names of the other officers who distinguished themselves, I propose to forward them by the next opportunity.
The enemy made no further movement in advance, at the close of the day the brigade of Guards of the First Division and the Fourth Division returned to their original encampment, has did the French troops, with the exception of one brigade of the First Division, which General Canrobert was so good as to leave in support of Sir Colin Campbell.
The remaining regiments of the Highland Brigade also remained in the valley.
The Fourth Division had advanced close to the heights, and Sir George Cathcart caused one of the redoubts to be occupied by the Turks, affording them his support, and he availed himself of the opportunity to assist with his riflemen in silencing two of the enemys guns.
The means of defending the extensive position which had been occupied by the Turkish troops in the morning having proved wholly inadequate, I deemed it necessary, in concurrence with General Canrobert, to withdraw from the lower range of heights, and to concentrate our forces, which will be increased by a considerable body of seamen, to be landed from the ships under the authority of Admiral Dundas, immediately in front of the narrow valley leading into Balaklava, and upon the precipitous heights on our right, thus affording a narrower line of defense.
I have, &c., RAGLAN.
His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, &c.
[Transcribed by Mark Conrad, 2003.]