The Russian ("Crimean") War of 1854 - 1856 
The Russian ("Crimean") War of 1854 - 1856 

Royal NavyCampaigns’Crimean' War (1/4) ◄► (3/4)

Sir Henry Keppel on the Russian War (2/4)


1855. Before Bomarsund was regularly invested there were places where our wardroom officers could land by twos and threes for exercise, when it was not worth while for the Russian Circular Towers to expend ammunition.

On one occasion, when the officers had taken my nephew, Harry Stephenson, a round shot buried itself within a few yards of them. They dispersed in haste, all but young Harry, who picked up a pointed stick and commenced digging at his first trophy.

The St. Jean d' Acre and the Cumberland were, with many others, at Ledsund, five-and-twenty miles from Bomarsund; but Seymour and I thought, for the good of the Service, we should be eye-witnesses of the preparations. The troops left for Bomarsund on the afternoon of the 7th. Late in the evening Henry Seymour and I started in my gig, sailing or pulling easily.

In a thick fog, about 3 A.M., we landed on a wooden pier to cook an early coffee. While this was going on we heard three heavy explosions. Seymour thought it must be the Admirals' daylight guns. But there were only two Admirals!

Although in a dense fog, with our boat's compass we knew pretty well where we ought to be, and found ourselves alongside the Blenheim, 60, Captain Hon. Fred Pelham, who gave us all the information we required.

The ball was to open at daylight, by the French steamer Phlegethon and English frigate Amphion, who had ascertained the exact range of the Russian fort that was intended to destroy any force that might attempt a landing.

After a while we found ourselves close to the very fort on which the frigates were to open fire. Neither seeing anything nor hearing the slightest noise we entered by one of the embrasures. It was deserted, but before doing so the Russians had attempted to burst the guns, and had only partially succeeded. One gun had the muzzle blown off; one only had completely burst; a third had gone off, but half-buried itself in the earth. There were in all five heavy eight-inch guns. These three explosions were what Seymour and myself had heard while drinking our coffee on the wooden pier.

It was now about the appointed time that the frigates were to open fire on the fort we were in; they had taken the exact range the previous evening. We lay off, the fog as dense as ever. We were none too soon. The Amphion and Phlegethon fired shell, which, bursting in the fort, had the appearance in the fog of a return fire.

After a while there was a lull. Presently we heard distant cheering. This was from the crews coming to take possession of the fort they had silenced. The fog continued, and it was high time we took care of ourselves. On the south-eastern end of the anchorage, in Lumpar Bay, was the Odin steamer, 16 guns, commanded by our young old friend, Frank Scott. Here we were well taken care of and jolly, narrating our adventures. Wilfrid Seymour had joined us from the Sphynx.

It was between 2 and 3 P.M. when the officer of the watch reported the Admiral coming. What were we to do? Frank Scott had a lumber cabin in which he kept spare furniture when clear for action. In this we hid. When he and Sir Charles had sat down to the usual grog, the Chief said to Scott:-"That was a dom'd fine thing of the frigates this morning." Scott replied, without thinking, "Why, I hear there was no one in the fort!" To which the old Chief replied, "Who has been telling you a dom'd lie? Why, Chads saw, from the masthead, at least five hundred soldiers rush out!"

On the morning of the 10th the disembarkation of the guns commenced. Each ship had been ordered to prepare two sledges, made according to a pattern by Captain Ramsay of the Hogue.

Amongst the officers so employed was H.S.H. Prince Victor of Hohenlohe, mate of the Cumberland, who was put in charge of a 12-pounder field-piece, with which he kept one of the circular forts employed. He was very happy, pounding away at the fort, all the while puffing at his pet meerschaum "peep".

It is not my intention to trouble my readers with a sailor's opinion of the capture of Bomarsund. Experienced officers, both French and English, worked well together.

I was like the boy that was sent to a French school, who, on inquiry of his parents when he got home for the holidays, said, "We had nothing to do, and we did it". But with my friend Henry Seymour, who had his younger brother (now General Lord William Seymour, in command of our troops in Canada), we had great fun; with a tent between us and our ships' gigs we really enjoyed ourselves. On one occasion, when camped under a hill, the Russian shot passed over our heads into the country beyond. The next morning Henry felt a little nervous on account of the young brother, and proposed shifting our tent nearer the hill; the change was only just completed, when a round shot dropped into the site of our former position.

Circular Fort, Bomarsund.


1854 (Ledsund). Ships and steamers coming from Bomarsund.

August 17. Launches employed in conveying prisoners from steamers to troop-ships. The lately promoted Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour hoisted his flag in Duke of Wellington.

August 19. Plumridge sailed in Leopard to relieve Henry Martin, in command of the reserve division at Nargen.

August 20. Sailed Hannibal, Commodore Hon. Frederick Grey, Algiers, St. Vincent, Royal William, Termagant, Sphynx, and Gladiator with Russian prisoners. Several pleasure steamers from Stockholm passed on their way to Bomarsund.

August 22. Three block-ships, with Bulldog, bearing flag of Commander-in-Chief, came down from Bomarsund.

August 26. Dressed ship with masthead flags, and at noon fired a royal salute in commemoration of Prince Albert's birthday.

September 1. Cuckoo arrived from Bomarsund with flag of Rear-Admiral Seymour, which was transferred to the Duke.

September 2. All the paddle-steamers went up to assist in towing transports with French troops; they, as well as the French men-of-war, preparing to quit Bomarsund on the destruction of the forts. It was a grand sight, the blowing up of the forts: expensive as well.

September 3. Heard that my old shipmate of Dido, Jim Hunt, now in command of Pigmy, had gone wrong side of the red buoy and was on shore. Went in gig to ascertain amount of assistance required. Found that anchor had been laid out, but the crew were tired or else too lazy to work. It was evident that they had been observed by Russians on the high ground beyond the Narrows, and shortly two pieces of artillery hove in sight.

My boat's crew were ready to help, when Jim Hunt thus addressed his crew:
"The enemy in sight with guns! We shall be made prisoners. You, - you lazy blackguards, will be marched off to Siberia, fed on sour krout and tallow candles; while I shall be feted and fed on shore in the best society!"

Ledsund. The speech told. Pigmy arrived at Ledsund. Field-Marshal Barraguay d'Hilliers came down from Bomarsund in a French war steamer. Both fleets manned yards, the flagships saluting, and at 3 P.M. he sailed for France.

September 12. Arrived La Reine Hortense, bringing a Field-Marshal's baton for General Barraguay d'Hilliers.

September 14. Leopard, with flag of Rear-Admiral Martin, came from Bomarsund, having remained to witness destruction of all the works completed.

September 19. Fleet weighed per signal and proceeded under steam. French fleet in company. Formed order of sailing in two columns. French Admiral saluted. On his salute being returned by the Duke, fleet hoisted French colours. Parted company with French fleet.

September 20. Arrived Russian steamer with flag of truce, and communicated with Commander-in-Chief. Fleet weighed, proceeding under steam. Formed order of sailing in two columns.

September 21. Euryalus joined company. Came to, per signal, off Nargen Island.

October 10 (Nargen Island). 2 P.M. - Arrived Bulldog with mail. Dressed ship with masthead flags, and fired a royal salute in commemoration of the victory gained by the Allied Army at Alma on September 20 in the Crimea.

October 23. Came to in Kiel Harbour. Received the following interesting letter from my nephew, Augustus Stephenson:-


ROOKSBURY, October 12, 1854.

MY DEAR UNCLE - We have this day received your letter of October 3, and are delighted at so good an account of yourself.
We hope before you receive this that little Harry will have rejoined you.
By your letter I suppose you have heard of the false news we received here in England of the taking of Sevastopol.
The news was false at the time; though I believe it was only premature, as before now, I trust, we are in the possession of it.
The papers of to-day say that the bombardment commenced at 5 P.M. on the 4th of this month.
You say you now receive no newspapers, though before you receive this you will no doubt have heard of the glorious victory of the Alma, on the 20th.
The despatches are too large to put into this letter, and, moreover, you must get them before you receive this.
It seems to have been a wonderful affair.
Menschikoff, whose private papers, carriage, etc., were taken by the French, had written to the Emperor to say he could hold the position for three weeks at least.
It was stormed in three hours!
Poor Wenny (Coke), after all his trouble to be in time, was left in charge of the baggage at Varna!
We had a letter from him, written in the highest spirits; he was to have embarked (as he then thought) on the following day.
Our friends in the Fusilier Guards have been sadly knocked about. Chewton is reported as having died since. That report is now contradicted, but he is fearfully wounded. He was bayonetted on the ground and has eleven wounds.
Haygarth was lying with his leg broken, and a Russian, attempting to blow his head off, shot away the upper part of his shoulder.
He, however, has got as far as Malta on his way home.
Astley, I hear, has written home for all his friends in hospital. He himself is shot through the neck, but says he would not have been altogether missed on any account!
Buckley very badly shot. Eumismore many wounds. Black Dal, but slightly wounded in the knee. Hepburn lost an arm. Bulwer hit in the head only.
I believe you know most of these men. You remember Hugh Drummond at Woolmer; he is reported to have bagged three Russians, who came at him after his horse was shot, with his revolvers!
Burghersh, who brought home the despatches, says that the pluck of our troops was perfectly wonderful.
The only Guardsman killed was Cust: leg carried off by a cannon ball. He died after undergoing amputation. As for family news, we are all well. I am off to-morrow on my sessions and hope to come to you when you arrive to welcome you back all safe.
Love from all to you and the young 'un. - Ever your most affectionate nephew,



The Battle of the Alma.

November 9 (Kiel). Dressed with masthead flags, and at noon fired a royal salute in commemoration of the birth of the Prince of Wales.

November 22. Signal to Princess Royal and Acre to "Prepare for sea."

My vanity may be excused in inserting the following paragraph from a book published recently by my friend Clarence Paget:-

At last came the joyful day when we were to return to England.
We were to hoist Seymour's flag and take St. Jean d' Acre with us. I know not why we were always sent in couples; perhaps it may be that we were known by the authorities to be what is called "chummy ships," but we are always in company, and very good company she is with her jolly, cheerful skipper, Harry Keppel, brave as a lion, gentle as a lamb.

November 14. Rear-Admiral Michael Seymour hoisted his flag on board Princess Royal and exchanged salutes with Commander-in-Chief, Acre being placed under his orders.

November 25. Daylight. - Weighed under steam. Exchanged cheers from rigging with James Watt, George Elliott's ship, which was disapproved of by signal from Commander-in-Chief, Princess Royal in company.

November 30. Weighed and proceeded under easy steam in wake of flag.

December 2. 2 P.M. - Furled sails. Came to at 4.30 in West Port, Christiansund. Landed and bought in market twelve brace of capercailzie. Country covered with frozen snow, over which we drove in carriages.

December 3. Being the Sabbath, coals not to be obtained until the afternoon, when Princess Royal took in some from lighters sent alongside, containing about fifteen tons each.

December 4. Decks covered with 5 or 6 inches of snow. Weighed and followed Princess Royal.

December 8. Westerly wind and dirty weather. Asked permission, per signal, to stand in under shelter of Yarmouth. Answer, "Rendezvous, Plymouth," in case of parting company. At 7 lost sight of flag.

December 9. 6.15. - Came to in the Downs. Landed Baltic pilot, he having been on board nine months, at fifteen shillings a day, without being of the slightest use.

December 10. 2.30 A.M. - Came to in Plymouth Sound. Found Princess Royal, Caesar, and Monarch. Saluted flag of Admiral Sir William Parker, K.G.C.B.

December 13 (Plymouth) Steamed into harbour; ship's company turned over to Bellona hulk. Ship taken into Keyham Dock.

December 18. Orders to prepare ship for reception of troops, and proceed to the Crimea. Seeing no other chance I started for London before their arrival, and was followed by a most kind letter from the First Lord to dine en famille and so meet his son on Christmas Day.

What could have been more agreeable? But I had to take leave of a dear shipmate, Fred Horton, of whom the doctors gave a bad account, to prepare to receive a General and Staff, and embark 1200 troops at Cork for the Crimea.

December 26. Slipped moorings and proceeded under steam into the Sound.

December 30. Received the following from Admiralty:-


MY DEAR KEPPEL - Make haste or you will be too late for the fun.
Admiral Lyons writes in high spirits, date 13th inst.
Admiral Seymour, to whom I have written, will do all that is right about cabins for your passengers.
Lyons is not the man I take him for if he does not find you something to occupy you, even if you are not in time to charge the barrier across Sevastopol Harbour. -Yours sincerely,

(Signed) M. F. H. BERKELEY.



January 1, 1855 (Plymouth Sound). 2 P.M. - Slipped moorings. Came to in the Sound. Obliged to close lower deck ports to prevent watermen pitching parcels on board for the Crimea. New Year's dinner with Admiral Sir William Parker, my old Chief in China.

January 2 (Plymouth). Glad to meet again, residing here, Mrs. Keith Stewart; accompanied her to lunch with Lord Mount Edgcumbe. Dinner with the Charles Edens to meet my passengers, Generals Barnard and Lord Rokeby.

January 3. Lord George Lennox down to sail to Cork with us. 3 P.M. - Crimean Generals came alongside in a steamer. Was obliged to leave young Graham, Birch, and George Wodehouse to follow.

January 4 (Cork). Arrived in afternoon at Cove of Cork, saluting flag of Admiral Carrol. Generals and I dined with him; Miss Carrol managing her father's house.

Received 645 troops, drafts for different regiments in the Crimea, consisting of the following:-
63rd Regt., 51 men, Lieuts. Hunt and Hand.
30th Regt., 51 men, Capt. Robertson, Lieut. Hill.
33rd Regt., 97 men, Capt. Ellis, Lieut. Wallis, Ensign Ellis.
47th Regt., 67 men, Capt. Elgee.
41st Regt., 109 men, Capt. Bertram, Lieuts. Lambert and Nowlan.
17th Regt., 122 men, Capt. Colthurst, Lieut. Thompson, Ensigns Travis and Disbourne.
50th Regt., 17 men.
68th Regt., 17 men.
55th Regt.,39 men, Lieut. Hannay.
49th Regt., 67 men, Lieut. Eustace.
57th Regt., 9 men, Capt. Brown, Lieut. Ashwin.

Not sorry to receive telegram to wait for Graham. So need not sail on Friday.

January 5. Shifted berth into Fairway. [John Christian] Schetky [1778-1874], late drawing master of Royal Naval College, breakfasted with me.

January 6. Got fairly away by 8 A.M., George Lennox leaving with the pilot. We exchanged binoculars by mistake. My guests, Generals Barnard and Lord Rokeby, Colonels Warde and Arthur Lowry Cole, A.D.C's. Wellesley and Barnard, all good fellows. Lord Rokeby, a soldier of Waterloo, the cheeriest of all; but he, poor fellow, had lately lost a promising young and only son. I was admitted to his confidence. Bright and cheery as he was in company, it was a sad consolation for him to describe in private the loss he had sustained; outside, no one could have detected that he had a trouble in the world.

It was the depth of winter. On the way out I had made for my Generals and Colonels canvas bags, impervious to wet or cold, in which they could lie down with uniforms on. ...

January 7. People and luggage beginning to shake down into their places. Officers, determined to be pleased, made no complaints. Among the passengers were some for whom it was difficult to find a berth. The good Chaplain "Thomas" spotted one (Lord Dangan, Coldstream Guards) so situated, and ascertaining that he knew not where to sleep, put him into his, the Chaplain's cabin, making for himself a bed under the wardroom mess-table.

January 11. Soldiers are naturally fond of lounging about the boom-boats. Discovered afterwards our cheery Irish recruits had devoured half a ton of raw turnips that had been sent on board for the sheep.

January 12 (Gibraltar). At sunset we were off the entrance of the Straits of Gibraltar. Strong easterly wind, and the usual inrush of sea; but as it was about our dinner time, I had sails furled, and left the Master to steer by the well-lighted Spanish coast. When I came on the poop-deck, shortly followed by my guests, a bright light, broad on the port bow, made me inquire of the Master what it was. He informed me it was Tarifa Point. Having ascertained the bearings, I saw at once that it must be Europa Point, some twenty miles in advance, and ordered " Starboard the helm."


Twenty years had elapsed since, when in command of Childers brig, I had made almost monthly visits to meet the English mail at Gibraltar. My poor nervous Master, who could not have reckoned on the rush of sea into the Mediterranean, exclaimed, before my Generals and other guests: "You forget, sir, that you have on board 1200 men in addition to the ship's company." Ordered him to his cabin under arrest!

What my guests in charge of the 1200 troops must have thought I know not, but they behaved like the noble fellows they were. I was younger than most of them, and there must have been many persons on that deck who can still corroborate what I write. The angle formed in our wake caused the propelling screw to cut the lead lines, which were also cut as soon as replaced. However, in a few minutes we had the full blaze of lights on the Rock itself; the harbour was a mass of shipping. We could only obtain proper anchorage by passing under the stern of the largest transport I could find. We had fortunately here about the most promising of our young Captains, George Grey, in charge of the dockyard. His perfect arrangements for coaling made the work easy.

January 13. Self and party dined with the Governor, Sir Robert Gardiner.

January 14. After church visited Pagets; Mrs. Paget, of the charming Williams family, having just returned. Early dinner with George Grey. 320 tons of coal on board. Made another start at 11 P.M.

January 15. The General harangued the troops, while I pitched into sundry delinquents: effects of coaling!

January 19 (Malta). At 4 A.M. lights were reported. We entered Malta Harbour at 12.30. Steamed in and secured to a buoy.

Commenced coaling, watering, etc. Met H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge. The same kind manner, but looking reduced and low in spirits. He seemed unprepared for the kind and hearty reception that awaited him on his return home. Put up at Durnford's Hotel. Saw many old friends: Pocklington, Fred Arkwright, and others. Stores, horses, cases, etc., sent on board without mercy. Dined with Admiral Houston Stewart.

January 20. 5 P.M. - Slipped from buoy - steamed and made sail.

January 23. Entered the Dardanelles.

January 25. At daylight found ourselves in the Sea of Marmora. Kept the northern coast to avoid current. 10 A.M. - Came to in the entrance to the Golden Horn, off that wonderful city, Constantinople.


January 26. Found Rear-Admiral Boxer the senior officer. Frederick Grey, as Commodore, ready to relieve him. Visited the hospital at Scutari, and had an interview with Miss Nightingale. Put up at Misseri's Hotel. Dined at the Embassy, meeting there Mrs. Ives and Miss Stanley.

January 27. After breakfast joined Lady Stratford de Redcliffe's party, and visited bazaars, etc., on Constantinople side. Interview and long chat with Mrs. Ives, Emma Maynard that was. Dined at Embassy in thin boots; a filthy walk back to hotel.

St. Jean d'Acre off Balaclava.

January 28. Weighed at 8 A.M., having slept on shore.

Cheered Queen and Vengeance on passing them in Beicos Bay. 10. - Entered the Black Sea. Two more friends added to my mess in Hugh Drummond of Fusilier Guards, and Colonel Norcott of Rifles.

January 29. Wardroom officers gave a dinner to our Generals and staff. Sat down sixty-three: some speeches made and much harmony.

January 30. 1 A.M. - Made the Khersonesia Light. 2. - Came to between the Algiers and Agamemnon, the latter flying the flag of Sir Edmund Lyons, off Sevastopol Harbour. Went on board; found Admiral in bed. At 8, Generals and self breakfasted with him, and then shifted round to Balaclava.

January 31. Generals disembarked this morning. I also landed, and picked up Wenny Coke, who had a bad cold. Put him on our sick list. The Generals returned on board to dinner. I had brought some Southdown sheep, knowing how welcome they would be.

February 1. After breakfast guests off to their respective posts. On landing near the head of the harbour, found the snow a foot deep, with the exception of the foot-trodden paths.

The Royal Marines occupied the lower ground. To the north, above them, were the Guards, and on higher land were the 93rd Highlanders. I was looking for Sir Colin Campbell.

The first person I came up with was a long soldier, without coat or jacket, braces hanging down his back, carrying a bucket of water in one hand, and lugging a goat up with the other. He accosted me with, "How are you, Keppel?" I replied, "All right, thanks," and passed on. On arriving at the Guards' ground, the first person I saw standing at his tent door was friend Mark Wood. While chatting, the soldier with braces down passed. I asked, "Who is that soldier? he seems to know me." Wood said, "Of course he does; that is Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar."

I found Sir Colin Campbell on the high ground, his jacket flying open as if it were summer. Our meeting was cordial. I asked him whether he would have his Southdown cut up, or whole. He preferred it home fashion, with the saddle.

I got him to tell me whether it was true he had refused to form square to resist the Russian Cavalry at Balaclava. He said a double line of Highlanders was enough, and if I did not mind the snow he would show me the Russian horses. Seeing the carcases lying in the snow, I remarked I was not aware that the Russians docked their horses so close; he said it was done by the French, who took them to make bouillon soup.

When I got down I was anxious to write my name in Lord Raglan's book, and inquired my way to headquarters. A soldier informed me that at the next bend on the right I should find "a dead horse and a nasty stink on the left. The same all the way up." As "all the way up" was four miles, I preferred returning to the ship.

I was flattered to find my Generals preferred sleeping on board; however, hearing heavy firing in the night, they landed prepared to fight. Wenny Coke was much amused when he found the Generals went off so suddenly; he said, if they had only awoke him he could have informed them the same thing happened every night. Was struck yesterday with the cheeri-ness of officers and men. Visited the post-office; observed in one corner an ominous-looking bag, which appeared full, marked "Dead".

The troops, both officers and men, form a motley mixture. It is difficult to recognise any one by his dress. They have now, when too late, warm clothing: fur caps, sheep-skin coats, and brown boots.

February 3. Sharp frost, with cold cutting wind, it having snowed hard during the night. Rokeby in his canvas bag, his moustache frozen white. Bromley, Colonel Carlton, Sir James Dunlop and nephew, Henry Hill, on board to dine and sleep. Landed Henry with stock of brandy, poultry, and tongue. Thermometer below 19°.

"All the way up."

February 4. Carlton and Bromley landed after breakfast, Dunlop and Wenny remaining. Weighed in afternoon. Anchored off Sevastopol.

(The Guards Camp) While the ship was at Balaclava I met on shore no end of old friends. In the Guards' camp, although they, what was left of them, were bright and cheery, I avoided inquiring about the many I missed.

I dined quietly one afternoon with my kinsman, Bob Lindsay, but it was difficult to draw from him what his thoughts and feelings were on the occasion when he so gallantly carried the Guards' colours at the Alma.

There was Billy Russell [the Times journalist], ever bright and cheery, but never seemed inclined to be pumped as to what he had seen and knew.

I had repeated gallops with one or other of the Inkerman heroes. When that ride was proposed I never admitted I had been over the field before, and delighted to hear over and over again answers to my questions. The most melancholy spectacle was the wretched condition of the horses, ten and twelve being harnessed to an ammunition waggon that on other occasions would be drawn by four.

The painful subject everywhere was the thinned ranks of infantry regiments. The Guards were reduced from 4100 to 500. Poor Lord Rokeby tried to hide his tears when he saw the remnant of the Brigade. It will take from fifteen to twenty years to make them what they were a year ago.

After a while no one knew the whole country better than Lord Rokeby. I enjoyed my rides with him; always as fast as his good mounts could carry us.

The barrier of sunken ships across the harbour of Sevastopol I do not think much of, but there is a mysterious-looking line about two cables' length inside the sunken ships that I cannot make out, leading about two-thirds of the way across. Carlton and Bromley landed after breakfast, Dunlop and Wenny Coke remaining. Up screw, weighed in afternoon, and worked round to anchorage off Kamiesch Bay.

February 5 (Kamiesch). Accompanied Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons on horseback to Lord Raglan's headquarters. Very interesting conversation by the way, giving me a clear insight into state of things.

February 6. Princess Royal, Captain Lord Clarence Paget, arrived, bringing General Sir Harry Jones. Received a letter from Lady Wilmot announcing sad death of my poor Fred Wilmot Horton. Too down to dine with Admiral.

February 7. Accompanied Admiral in Terrible to see entrance to the harbour. Ugly and formidable-looking batteries. Barriers of sunken ships' bars, spars, and cables across; some tempting-looking liners inside. Dined with Sir Edmund. Right man in right place.

February 8. George Goldsmith of Sidon, 22, paddle wheel, came to a quiet dinner.

February 9. Thompson to dinner; he had visited the muddy camp. More snow falling.

February 10. Admiral Houston Stewart arrived from Malta in Spiteful. Captain Ryder and young Yorke to dinner.

February 12. The enemy keeping pace with us in forming defences against our increase of batteries, likewise in their reinforcements of supplies and troops. Sevastopol likely to hold out until completely invested. Dined with Commander-in-Chief. Breeze blowing up, stopped the night.

February 14. Telegraph by Admiral; change of Ministry. Lord Palmerston, Premier, and Sir James Graham still at Admiralty, which I like.

February 16. Visited our worthy Chief. Flag shifted to the Royal Albert.

February 17. Charlie Talbot to dine, also Oldfield from the trenches, and Commander Willie Partridge.

Ship looking clear and clean; herself again. Being near, commenced building a stable: a weakness I have long had.

Thermometer 7 degrees below freezing. French ship on shore, must go to pieces. (Which she did with a cargo of horses and bullocks. Seven horses saved out of forty. No human lives lost.)

How the Guards looked.

February 23. Mail in. F. Johnson promoted. Good fellow - a loss to us.

February 24. Carpenters while on shore erecting stables, discovered a small French town, which smelt so strongly of brandy that my building was delayed.

February 25. Dined with the Admiral. Rodney laid up near, crew had landed with Naval Brigade, she having no steam power.

February 27. Walk on shore with Talbot. Stable progressing. Sad quantity of dead horses about. Of a fresh heap of eighteen, several appeared in good condition. Dined with Talbot. The horses were French.

February 28. Mail in during the night. Harry Stephenson has entered the navy, his brother Sussex in the Fusilier Guards.

March 1. Another "no communication" day. My company, young Stanley Graham, recovering from chickenpox.

March 2. Went in with portmanteau to dine with Admiral. Put up by Mends.

March 3. After breakfast went to see Jack Lyons in Miranda, and then outside to George Goldsmith, Sidon; with him paid an interesting visit to the extreme left of the French lines and into the ruins of Khersonese. Dined with Admiral and slept on board.

March 4. Visit from George Broke of Gladiator, also George Goldsmith. Webb from Australia and Dalyell.

March 5. Curious to see the temporary towns and shops established by the French.

March 6. On going on board to dine with Admiral, heard of the Emperor of Russia's death. On returning communicated same to Charlie Talbot and Clarence Paget. Curious the unsettled state of mind people are in, through the Czar's death. What strange surmises as to the future.

March 8. Early arrival of mail. News anything but cheery. Sir James Graham no longer First Lord. Kind letter from him. Bread riots. No Government. Well-earned good service pension to Milne.

March 9. Accompanied Admiral Houston Stewart in Beagle steamer to Balaklava. Found guards quartered close. Wenny Coke, Robert Lindsay, and other friends dined with Lord Rokeby. Put up on board Diamond with Peel. Great improvements in Balaklava. Harbour crowded. Dangerous quantity of powder afloat.

March 10. Peel and I, mounted by Sir Colin Campbell, rode to St. George's Monastery. Beautiful scenery, ditto weather. Peace and quiet. Strange contrast with encampments close by.

March 12. Omar Pasha arrived in Valourous. Cheered him in passing.

March 13. Maitland Lennox and his artillery brother to dine and stay the day on board.

March 14. Outside squadron dining with Houston-Stewart. Jolly!

March 15. Brisk exchange of shots between the front and Russians. No results. Dined with Clarence Paget.

March 20. Dined with Commander-in-Chief. Death of the Russian Admiral Istoma, one of the perpetrators of the Sinope tragedy.

March 21. A man died this morning from a virulent attack of smallpox. Dined with Commander-in-Chief, having previously taken Dalrymple Hay a walk.

March 22 (Off Sevastopol). Dined with Pasley on board Agamemnon: we had been messmates when I was a mid in Tweed. Play on board Algiers, C. Talbot. Acting good. Heavy firing. Town apparently on fire.

March 23. General Barnard having sent a horse, rode to the front. After luncheon walked into the trenches to see the effect of last night's attack on our lines.

March 24 (Camp). Flag of truce hoisted at noon for two hours to enable both sides to bury their dead. Extraordinary sight. Russians, French, and English mixed, looking for their respective dead. 500 corpses lying about. Walked at night with friend General Charles Windham.

March 25. Attended divine service in the open air. 4th Division of the army square formed. Parson with moustache! Ride with General Barnard to the site of the charge at Inkerman. Dined with the general, meeting Charles Windham, who agrees with me about employing the ships to draw fire off the trenches. Interesting view of the town, also the fortifications recently made by the Russians.

March 26. Attended races of 3rd Division. Curious and novel sight: soldiers and sailors only. Put up on board Gladiator, Captain Broke, now Sir George, and son of the famous Shannon and Chesapeke hero. Returned on board after inspecting stables and my new old pony.

March 27. Walk with Thompson: had to bob to a Russian shell, my gold lace cap having, they said, attracted attention. Two 10½-inch Russian shells not exploded, had them conveyed on board. Pasley, M'Cleverty, and Elphinstone to dine.

March 28. Another case of smallpox.

March 29. Admiral suggested our getting under weigh, by way of cutting off communication. Thought it advisable to have mids and youngsters vaccinated; having the necessary lymph on board, they were ordered to my cabin. Some, seeing the doctor's preparations, rather hesitated, on which I requested the surgeon to perform on me first, when all went on smoothly.

March 30. Weighed at daylight, running past the entrance of the harbour, and came to off Eupatoria. Hoisted quarantine flag. George Hastings came alongside. Omar Pasha's army is encamped in the town.

Source: Sir Henry Keppel G.C.B., D.C.L.: "A Sailor's Life under Four Sovereigns", Macmillan and Co., 1899, volume II, 233-260.

Top↑ (1/4) ◄► (3/4) 
Valid HTML 5.0