From Memoria Sobre el Viaje Militar a la Crimea, presentada por los oficiales del Cuerpo de Ingenieros nombrados en 1855 para seguir y estudiar las operaciones del guerra entre Rusia y las potencias occidentales Francia é Inglaterra auxiliando a la Turquía. Tomás ORyan y Vasquez, Andrés Villalon y Hechavarría. Madrid, Imprenta del Memorial de Ingenerios. 1858. Article 7, pages 234-242. Translated by Mark Conrad, 2002.
The authors were not in the Crimea at the time of the battle of Eupatoria, but cite 1) short relations told to us by different people who were witnesses to the events and 2) the following published sources: Bazancourt, Lexpedition de Crimée; du Casse, Précis historique des operations militaries en Orient; Der Feldzug in der Krimm von der Landung der Verbündeten bis zur Erstürmung Sebastopols; Anitschkoff, Der Feldzug in der Krim.
The Battle of Eupatoria.
Before going into the next phase of the siege of Sevastopol as occasioned by the right-wing attacks, let us interrupt the narrative in order to take a look at the events which took place in Eupatoria.
This places position on the flank of the Russian lines of communication and its other characteristics which could have made it a base for active campaign operation to be undertaken in the spring, made Eupatoria a point meriting vigilance and the protection of the troops from one unit or another which never would have the opportunity to prove their valor. On the one hand, this was because here were some unfortunate conditions for the allies such as the unhealthiness of the coastal region and the lack of drinking water, and on the other hand because the Russians at first could not muster sufficient forces to recapture the place. Finally, neither one side nor the other in this great struggle wanted to undertake large-scale operations, only limited tactical operations, because that would mean a division of effort. Eupatoria acted to distract the Russians concentration on Sevastopol, forcing them to retain observation forces in the northern Crimea to cover Perekop and the line of retreat along the Chongar Peninsula so that the allies would not initiate a war of active movement, having stockpiled in their base the supplies necessary for an army of 100 or 150 thousand men.
Eupatoria is north of Calamita Bay, being a town of about 1500 inhabitants on the bay of the same name, whose mouth opens to the south. On the east the town extends along a tongue of land between the sea and the salt-water Lake Sasik, which almost touches the built-up area. In the north is a flat region which after about 1600 meters ends in somewhat elevated hills which form a loose circle around the town. One reaches Eupatoria over the mentioned tongue of land by the roads from Simiferopol and Sevastopol merging into one. The part in the north is reached by a road from Perekop which avoids the heights by going through the Tip-Mamai defile, and after a half-hours travel after exiting here it crosses an arm of the lake over a permanent bridge. Various other secondary roads connect with villages in the interior and on the coast. Within the angle formed by the two main roads are the windmills utilized by the defenders, who integrated them into an encircling belt of defensive works.
A short overview of what occurred here, a scene of several small actions, will give an idea of the events leading to its conversion into a field of battle.
With the Russian governor of Eupatoria having been intimidated into surrender by the arrival of the allied squadrons in his bay, on 16 September the French commandant from the general staff, dOsmond, took possession of the town with two companies of the 39th Regiment of the Line. He left for the army headquarters after having established new authorities to replace the Russians who had fled along with the towns leading persons, and returned on the 19th with two companies of marine infantry to implement a definite occupation and take up the position of governor. On the 20th, he began the first defensive works against a sudden attack, covering the main streets with palisades and small earthworks, and using anything he could to enclose the town perimeter and defend it. DOsmond was also able to take advantage of the favorable attitude of the native Tatars and organized a mounted militia for scouting and patrolling the local area, as well as several infantry companies to carry out guard duties within the town. At the same time he gathered together a considerable quantity of grain and established the necessary organizational structure to manage everything related to food supplies.
At the beginning of October, some Tatar families came to Eupatoria from the neighboring villages due to the insecurity which the war was beginning to introduce in the country. On the 5th, a sizable force of Russian cavalry appeared before the town with some pieces of artillery. Its intent was to reconnoiter and make an attack, whose suddenness turned out to be equal to the energy with which it was repelled.
By 10 and 11 October, the number of Tatar refugees had grown to more than 12,000 persons bringing as much as the could with them. In this manner there entered into the town a large quantity of cattle with more than 100,000 head of sheep, even though they were harried and being overtaken by a regiment of Russian cavalry which at noon on the second of these two dates approached until met with very accurate salvos from the French artillery. With such an augmentation of hands for labor and keeping in mind the governors planned size for the garrison, a more extensive belt of defensive lines was begun. On the 15th, the principle battery positions were established and immediately provided with artillery pieces. Without any pause in labor, in a short time after this the batteries flanks were enclosed on the quarantine and north sides by extended lines, with the northwest part of the town protected by an easily defended ravine. Lacking the forces necessary to make a serious attack, the Russians limited themselves to imposing a strict blockade, establishing their headquarters en Oraz (or Aras)a little over 9.5 kilometers from Eupatoria, ravaging the countryside, burning villages, and laying out a cordon of manned posts very close to the town. On the 18th, they tried to seize a herd which was grazing outside of cannon shot from the lines, but they were repulsed by the garrison which by now had grown to 300 French soldiers, 400 Englishmen, and 500 Turks, or 1200 men in all, not counting the Tatar militia which stayed within the defense works. The Russians did not desist in their efforts, and threatened a new attack on the 23rd with sufficient cavalry, but it was dispersed by rockets. The attack was made again on 3 November and managed to capture part of the livestock. However, they were pursued by a column under Commandant dOsmond and deprived of the booty with which they had begun their retreat. On the 7th they renewed their attempts, and this time there were 2000 Russians with 4 pieces of artillery. The whole garrison sallied out to meet them, and the fighting lasted about an hour, with the Russians retiring with some loss, and that of the defenders being very small.
Small but continuous batches of reinforcements arrived for the Russians, and on 14 November they took advantage of the confusion caused by the hurricane to send a large cavalry force with fourteen guns to attack the heights on the northeast between the lake and Perekop road. The fighting was in earnest and lasted for more than an hour. At this point the French ship Henri IV, almost lost in the storm and stranded on the beach, directed some broadsides against the assailants flanks, who were at this time attacked by a column in front and decided to retreat with all haste. The Pluton was not able to take part in the fray.
This affair drew the attention of the allied chiefs, who on the 20th sent a captain of engineers to direct work on the defenses, and on the 25th and 26th two battalions of Turks were sent from those encamped at Kamiesh. The work on the defensive lines began more seriously, and the effectiveness was proven in a new Russian attack on 6 December which cost them about 30 men.
It was decided to transfer the Turkish army on the Danube to Eupatoria, and already on 9 December the first of Omer-Pashas troops arrived, disembarking in four hours, although with much difficulty. In the whole of this month 12,000 men arrived to join the garrison, and in January of 1855 the pace accelerated so that at the beginning of February there were some 30,000, consisting of an Egyptian division, three Turkish infantry divisions commanded Medmet-Bey, Ismail-Bey, and Sali-Bey, and one cavalry division under Halim-Bey. The cavalrys horses were arriving only a few at a time due to lack of suitably prepared transport ships.
The encircling works begun in November with the aim of providing immediate defenses and meeting other objectives which the allies may have kept in mind were in general lacking in depth, with a large redoubt in the north, a large ditch 15 meters wide and 5 deep, and parapets following the line of this excavation. These were for dominating the adjoining plain, defilading from the nearest heights, and, finally, providing wide embankments which could be vigorously defended. The work was begun somewhat late and with few laborers, so that it was interrupted by the arrival of winter when much of the lines was still open, mostly in the east and west, and with the sections that had been hurriedly constructed unable to withstand the continual cycles of rains, freezes, and thaws. From the time he arrived, Omer-Bey set to repairing deterioration and finishing enclosing the 400-meter long encircling works, which needed a garrison of eight to ten thousand soldiers to defend them. Judging them insufficient to contain 30,000 men, the Turkish generalissimo proposed to build around them an entrenched camp which sheltered his troops and would serve to receive a large army intended to undertake an offensive. Thus, even when Eupatorias defenses were at a comfortable distance from the towns houses, the town was too small, being founded by Tatars, without open squares, with narrow crooked streets, and almost without any of the open space for storehouses which a base of operations was required to have, along with the garrison to defend it. In spite of his intention, Omer-Bey was not able to realize his project since the effort to finish the interior line while being hindered by the bad weather absorbed the labors of his 30,000 men, almost all of whom were encamped outside the encircling works. Thus, when 17 February arrived neither the exterior works were being started nor the interior belt finished.
The successive arrivals of Russian reinforcements in the northern Crimea and near Eupatoria made it possible in January of 1855 to concentrate in front of the town General Korfs whole lancer division (made up of four regiments), a brigade of two dragoon regiments belonging to General Wrangels division, about 1000 cossacks, and 32 guns. These forces, quartered in Oraz, Treablan, Sak, and Chiban, were all under the command of this latter general, while the first was only commander of the blockading troops.
The repeated reports which Prince Menshikov received about the continuous arrivals of Turkish reinforcements in Eupatoria led him to decide to have a reconnaissance made to acquire exact information about the enemy force and capture the position, if possible. To this end, he put the blockading force under the orders of General Khrulev, reinforced with four infantry regiments taken from the 12th Division in Simferopol and from the 3rd Army Corps located at Perekop. These forces came together on 16 February on the Tip-Mamai heights and during the night they advanced with cavalry on their flanks to attack the town on the north side where the defenses had not yet been finished. Before dawn on the 17th, the Russians began a lively cannonade from a distance of 1200 to 1300 meters against the Turks who had been posted under arms on the parapets since the 4th. Indeed, the Turks had knowledge of the enemys intent since the 15th and consequently had withdrawn the troops encamped outside back into the interior line, leaving only some advanced posts. At first, General Khrulev wanted to attack the Turks left wing where the fortifications were more imperfect, but he had to desist because of the uninterrupted flanking fire which his columns were receiving from the ships which Omer-Bey had put at appropriate points in the bay. Consequently, Khrulev reinforced his own left flank and concentrated his artillery fire on the redoubt in the Turkish center; at which time he advanced his guns to within 500 meters of the defenses that he was attacking. The Turkish generalissimo responded to this movement by the artillery by placing a gunboat at the entrance of the lake next to the town.
After an hour of bombarding the defensive lines with 26 pieces of artillery, the Russians advanced five battalions from their left flank. These reached the ruins of a cemetery 400 meters from the ditch but which had not been leveled or integrated into the defensive belt, though this should have been an obvious and necessary thing to do. Using the cemetery as cover, a column was formed from two battalions of the Dnieper and Azov regiments, equipped with scaling ladders, fascines, and other items. At six oclock in the morning, it marched against the right of the defensive works in a final assault, and in spite of the crossfire from the redoubt, gunboat, and attacked parapets, it reached to within 20 meters of the counterscarp. After being reinforced here, the attacking force advanced to the ditch but did not cross it, and in the end retreated with the greatest haste to again seek shelter within the walls of the cemetery. The Turks took advantage of this moment and launched a battalion supported by two squadrons to increase the enemys disorder while he retreated. Likewise futile were the energy and resolve with which a new assault was prepared later, which did not even get as far as the first one. General Khrulev therefore desisted in attempting any more attacks, convinced of the impossibility of these having happy results in view of the state of the defensive works and the large garrison defending them. He also had to think of withdrawing his troops to the encampments, since the infantry had no more rations than what each soldier carried for the few days of this expedition. He was forced to retreat in spite of not having found out the approximate composition of the force in Eupatoria that the Turks could send into the interior. Khrulev also found the Russian troops to be in a bad state for undertaking a new attack that would have any effect, and at ten oclock in the morning he formed them into three columns and sent them to take up positions on the hills and Tip-Mamai pass, at an appropriate distance from the town to hopefully take advantage of events. He soon achieved his goal, as Omer-Pasha sallied out of Eupatoria with all his available forces and deployed them in front of the Russians, but limiting himself to just keeping the enemy under observation due to, he said, the lack of enough cavalry and artillery to confront him if he began to act hostile. Once the Turkish forces facing him had been counted, on that same day General Khrulev sent the Russian infantry marching to their encampments, and the Turkish generalissimo turned back without having employed his troops except to satisfy his enemys desires.
Allied losses amounted to some 400 men, of whom 100 were killed and whose number included the valiant Egyptian division general Selim-Pasha and his colonels Busten-Bey and Ali-Bey. Russian casualties were more than twice this, having more than 400 dead, these being for the most part from the two battalions which marched into the assault.
This probing attack appeared to precede as serious assault on Eupatoria, which thus would be partly fulfilling its object of dividing the Russian armys attentions, as the positions possibilities were well known to the commanders-in-chief. But only a few skirmishes took place between outposts and do not merit mention, except for that of 5 March between two cavalry detachments which had each been sent out to reconnoiter enemy positions.
End of translation.