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THE BATTLE OF THE ALMA (1854).
Strategic Operations - The River Alma - Position and Force of the
Russians-Earthwork Batteries to defend the Heights—The French Charge-Advance of the British Line–Gallantry of Lord RaglanPassage of the River, and Brilliant Charge up the HeightsSanguinary Struggle-The Russian Battery taken, and Retreat of the Enemy.
HEIGHTS OF THE ALMA, September 21. THE order in which our army advanced was in columns of brigades in deploying distance, our left protected by a line of skirmishers, of cavalry, and of horse artillery. The advantage of the formation was, that our army, in case of a strong attack from cavalry and infantry on the left or rear, could assume the form of a hollow square, with the baggage in the centre. Our great object was to gain the right of the position, so that our attacking parties 6 could be sheltered by the vertical fire of the fleets.
We had, in fact, altered our base of operations. As we marched forward to Barljanak, we allowed the enemy to deprive us of our old basis of operations, in order that we might' get a new one. For this purpose the baggage was brought up and covered by the 4th Division, and the Cossacks were allowed to sweep the country in our rear far behind us. 10 Our new principle, in fact, was to open communication with our fleets, and as farll as possible obtain their material and moral aid. In advancing towards the sea obliquely, on the morning of the 19th, we were
I d des distances qui permettaient within (but not into), a square.' de se déployer.
5 L'essentiel était de. % that.'
nos troupes (or, colonnes) d'atou sur les derrières,
taque ; ; or, simply, nos attaques. * se former en un carré, dans
par le fait. lequel elle enfèrmerait son bagage. 8 ancienne (fem. here),-in this Notice this difference between en and dans : en (not dans) must al- 9 See page 7, note 7. ways be used to indicate a change 10 “in our rear far,' &c. ; sinuof form, the conversion of a thing ply, à une grande distance derinto another ; thus, se former dans rière nous.-- were allowed ;' see un carré would mean 'to form page 21, note 9.
11 autant. Y
met by seventeen squadrons of cavalry, deployed to meet 1 our handful of horse, and it was necessary to make a demonstration of artillery and infantry to extricate our men from the difficulty into which they had been plunged by advancing too far in front of their supports.? However, the enemy were driven back 3 by our guns, which made beautiful practice, and the cavalry maintained their ground, having retired in splendido order before a force which refused to meet them when they might have done so,? by a charge down from 8 the elevated position they occupied, with a fair chance of an encounter artillery could come up. Our line of march on the 20th, as I have said, was toward the right of our former base, and brought us in contact with the French left, under 10 Prince Napoleon, it being understood 11 that Sir De Lacy Evans's division on the extreme right should act in concert with that of his Royal Highness the Prince, which was of course furthest from the sea. As soon as we had ascertained the position of our allies accurately, the whole line, extending itself across the champaign country 12 for some five or six miles, advanced.13
The scheme of operations concerted between the generals, was, that the French and Turks on our right were to force the passage of 14 the river, a rivulet of the Alma, and establish themselves on the heights over the stream at the
1 'to meet,' pour barrer le che- 8 'down from,' du haut de. min (or passage) d.-' squadrons
9 et cela avec
assez belle of cavalry;" simply, escadrons: this chance pour lui ; and a comma word is said only of cavalry, in after lui.--'to come up ;' simply, French (a squadron of infantry is arriver. called bataillon).
10 et nous relia à la gauche des en s'aventurant trop loin en Français.—'under; turn, 'under avant de leurs appuis.
the orders of,' and see page 4, 3 éto drive back,' repousser, or refouler.
car il avait été convenu ; it *4 qui jouèrent admirablement (or, being, &c., is not any more a à ravir). 5 Şee p. 299, n. French turn than ‘its being,' &c. 6 admirable ;
page 25, (page 21, note 3). note 16.
iš la plaine.
some,' in this 7 refused the combat when sense ; see page 308, note 2. (page 57, note ?) it might have en- 13 to advance,' or 'to move,' gaged (page 44, note 2) it; and no or 'begin to move,' in a military comma after it.'— sorce,' corps sense, s'ébranler, de troupes.
passer de force.
opposite side, so that they could enfilade the position to their right and opposite to our left and centre. The Alma is a tortuous little stream, which has worked its way down through a red clay soil, deepening its course as it proceeds seawards, and which drains the steppe-like lands3 on its right bank, making at times pools and eddies too deep to be forded, though it can generally be crossed by waders who do not fear to wet their knees. It need not be said that the high banks formed by the action of the stream in cutting5 through the soil are sometimes at one side, sometimes at another, according to the sweep of the stream.
At the place where the bulk? of the British army crossed, the banks are generally at the right side, and vary from two and three to six or eight feet in depth to the water; where the French attacked the banks are generally formed by the unvaried curve of the river on the left-hand side. Along the right or the north bank of the Alma are a number of Tartar houses, at times numerous and close enough to form a cluster of habitations deserving the name of a 9 hamlet, at times scattered wide apart amid little vineyards, surrounded by walls of mud and stone of three feet in height. The bridge over which the post road 10 passes from Bouljinanak to Sebastopol runs close
one of these hamlets—a village, in fact, of some fifty houses. This village is approached from the north by a road winding through a plain nearly level till it comes near to the village, where the ground dips,12 so that at the distance of three hundred yards 13 a man on horseback can hardly see the tops of the nearer and more elevated
? See page 7, note 7.
ment de va-et-vient ; or, simply, le 2 s'est frayé (p. 244, n. 2) un che- va-et-vient. — sometimes,' repeatmin; or, better, s'est creusé un lit. ed ; translate as at p. 289, n. 7
3 fait écouler les eaux des espèces de steppes qui sont.
8 'to, jusqu'à la surface de. 4 mais on peut la traverser pres
9 Leave out 'aa' que partout en ayant de l'eau jus- 10 route postale, or, route de poste qu'aux genour.
(and see page 6, note 3). 5'to cut,' here, pénétrer, or ercer:
12 s'abaisse brusquement.
est proche de. 6 «the sweep,' here, le mouve- 13 See p. 96, n. 2, and p. 226, n. %.
houses, and can only ascertain the position of the stream by the willows and verdure along its banks. At the left or south side of the Alma the ground assumes a very different character-smooth where the bank is deep, and greatly elevated where the shelve of the bank occurs, it recedes for a few yards at a moderate height above the stream, pierced here and there by the course of the winter's torrents, so as to form small ravines, comma
manded, however, by the heights above. It was on these upper heights that the strength of the Russian position consisted. A remarkable ridge of mountain, varying in height from 500 to 700 feet, runs 4 along the course of the Alma on the left or south side with the course of the stream, and assuming the form of cliffs when close to the sea. This ridge is marked all along its course by deep gullies, which run towards the river at various angles, and serve no doubt to carry off the floods produced by the rains, and the melting of the winter snows on the hills and tablelands above. If the reader will place himself on the top of Richmond-hill, dwarf the Thames in imagination to the sizes of a Hampshire rivulet, and imagine the lovely hill itself to be deprived of all vegetation and protracted for about four miles along the stream, he may form some notion 10 of the position occupied by the Russians, while the plains on the north or left bank of the Thames will hear no inapt similitude toll the land over which the British and French armies advanced, barring only the verdure and freshness. 12 At the top of the ridges, between the gullies, the Russians had erected earthwork batteries, mounted with 321b. and 241b. brass guns, supported by numerous field-pieces and howitzers. These
i là ou (page 254, note 15) la 10 se faire quelque idée.—'may; berge est pic.
use the future (of pouvoir). the bank shelves' ("to shelve,' 11 représenteront assez bien. aller en pente).
12 la verdure et la fraîcheur seules 3 to command, in this sense, exceptées ; or, excepté—à l'exception dominer.—'above,' voisines (lit., de-la verdure et—de–la fraicheur neighbouring '). 4 extends.' seules ; or, a la seule verdure et d
5 sur la rive gauche ou côté du la fraicheur près. See page 61, sud, suivant le lit du courant (page note 14. When excepté precedes 95, note 12). 6 See p. 29, n.9. the noun or nouns, it is a prepo
1 'in all its length (or, extent).' sition, and consequently invari.
8 rapetisser la Tamise, par la able; when it follows, it agrees pensée, jusqu'aux dimensions. as being a past participle.- Bri
9 See page 7, note ? ; leave out tish,' &c. ; see p. 138, n. to be,' here.
also, if you choose, p. 314, n. 15).
11 (and 9 This battery.' 4 carabine à deux rainures (or 10 s'élevait encore derrière elle à cannelures).-throwing,' lançant. la hauteur de cinquante pieds (i.e.,
enfiladed the tops of the ravines parallel to them, or swept them to the base, while the whole of the sides up which an enemy, unable to stand 3 the direct fire of the batteries, would be forced to ascend, were filled with masses of skirmishers armed with an excellent two-groove rifle,4 throwing a large solid conical ball with force at 700 or 800 yards, as the French learnt to their cost.5 The principal battery consisted of an earthwork of the form of two sides of a triangle, with the apex pointed 6 towards the bridge, and the sides covering both sides of the stream, corresponding with the bend in the river below it, at the distance of 1000 yards, while, with a fair elevation, the 32-pounders threw,8 as we saw very often, beyond the houses of the village to the distance of 1,400 and 1,500 yards. This 9 was constructed on the brow of a hill about 600 feet above the river, but the hill rose behind it for another fifty feet before it dipped away towards 10 the road. The ascent of this hill was enfiladed by the fire of three batteries of earthwork on the right, and by another on the left, and these batteries were equally capable of covering the village, the stream, and the slopes which led up the hill to their position. In the first battery were thirteen 32-pounder brass guns of exquisite workmanship, 11 which only told too well.12
In the other batteries were some twenty-five
It was said the Russians had 100 guns on the hills, and 40,000 men (forty battalions of infantry,
guns in all.
1 avaient érigé (or dressé — or said, in French, to be en potence. établi - - or construit-or élevé) des 7 le coude de.-' below it;' simbatteries en terre.
ply, au-dessous. 2 de canons d'airain de trente- o les pièces de 32 (or, les bouches deux et de vingt-quatre.
à feu du calibre de 32) portaient. 3 soutenir.
5 dépens (this word has no sin- pieds anglais) avant de (or, avant gular).
que de) redescendre du côté de. 6 tourné.-Such a figure as is 11 travaillés dans la (or, à lahere described (whether in a bat- or, en) perfection. tery or in the ranks of an army) is 12 et qui ne firent que trop d'eti'et.