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

Royal NavyCampaigns’Crimean' War (3/4)

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


August 1, 1855. Heavy fall of rain. Whole country as in winter. Trenches under water.

August 2. Bought a beautiful Arab from an officer going home, of 10th Hussars. Lord Rokeby and Bob Lindsay to dine at our mess.

August 3. An attempt at a sortie made last night. Russians driven back easily. Breakfasted with Hugh Rose, French headquarters. Minute inspection of Mamelon with Lord Rokeby, troops marching past. Curious custom: the French dig large holes as burial-places in sight of those going to the trenches.

August 4. Rode to Monastery to arrange for Warde's going afloat. Wenny Coke wounded last night in trenches. We have advanced our batteries and trenches nearer the enemy's guns without thickening them in proportion. A shot has no business to pass through a parapet. I had a man turned over yesterday by a round shot; he was not killed, as the strength of the shot was expended before it got through the parapet. One of the stones gave me a clip in the back; but the Russians had been riled by our cutting a cart in two just before.

August 1. Sunday, muster and divine service. On visiting the hospital I found one of my poor fellows carving a heart on a ring, part of his own thigh-bone, which had been amputated. On asking him what he was going to do with it, he replied, "To send it to my girl, sir". Another was busy securing the sides of his hat into the shape of a Greenwich pensioner's: a curtain hung round his jacket to look like a long-tailed coat. He had only one leg.

A day or two ago I rode with Lord Rokeby to see a division French lines - 3000 Chasseurs d'Afrique, cream of French cavalry. Saw a Russian lady in Sevastopol flying a kite; the wind was in the direction of the Mamelon. I pointed it out to the French General Linois, who ordered his riflemen to fire; they cut the string and down came the kite just inside the trenches. He gave it to Lord Rokeby, who sent it home. The French general raised his cap by way of apologising to the lady, and ordered the riflemen to raise theirs on the points of their bayonets. A round of Russian grape shot sent one cap flying and broke two muskets. A broiling day - face burnt cruel.

August 6. Dined with Lord Rokeby. George Goldsmith up to breakfast. Visited Right Attack. Saw, the other day, feeding together in the trenches, Wilbraham Oates Lennox, Royal Engineers, V.C., Captain John Maitland Lennox, R.M.L.I., and Augustus Frederick, Captain Royal Artillery, sons of my friend Lord George Lennox. Dined with General Codrington.

August 7. Called on Chief of Artillery. Rode with Lord Rokeby to Cossack Bay and hospital to see poor D'Aeth, first lieutenant Sidon, dying of cholera. He was a youngster with me in the Dido; a more gallant fellow there could not be. He was taken ill at one this morning, having been dining at Kamiesch, and was given over five hours afterwards. He had a locket containing the miniature of a pretty Portuguese girl at Lisbon, and requested it might be buried with him. Went on board Leander.

August 8. Visited Left Attack. Both Admirals up; met at headquarters. Stopped to luncheon. While in Right Attack trenches received directions from headquarters to show the Duke of Newcastle the Quarries. His Grace following with attendants, I explained the impossibility of such a staff: the feathers alone would bring on us the whole Russian fire. We were three or four only. Although shot and shell passed over our heads we were right enough, until near the Quarries, when a shell burst, sending fragments close to us: one so near that it almost touched the Duke, and lodged in a gabion on my side. His Grace expressed a wish to have the piece; a soldier dislodged it with his bayonet. I held it out to the Duke, but it was so hot that he dropped it. I believe it is now at Clumber, with two empty thirteen-inch Russian shells picked up close to our Brigade batteries. General Barnard and staff dined at naval mess.

August 9. Threatening, heavy-looking weather, which came down in a deluge.

August 10. Visited St. George, my Chief of Artillery. Rode over to Balaklava to see Freemantle after his fall. Wenny Coke and other friends to dinner.

August 11. Visited all Right Attack with General Jones. Wenny Coke, E. Somerset, Curzon, and other friends to dinner.

August 12. Broiling hot. Artillery under orders to be ready at daylight following morning in the field.

Enclosed is a specimen of the notices I so often received in the batteries, worth all the foolscap that could be written:

DEAR UNCLE HARRY - In case you have not been warned, I am desired by the General to give you notice that an attack from the enemy is expected upon our trenches at 3 A.M. to-morrow. The covering parties in the trenches have been doubled, first division in the Right Attack. -Yours sincerely, ROBERT J. LINDSAY.

August 13. Poor Hughie Drummond, Adjutant of Scots Fusilier Guards, killed in trenches.

August 1. Prince Victor, Thomas, and self rode to Balaclava. I to see Admiral; they to get material for a stable.

One of my horses, "Vladimir", was an "everlasting". He had been captured on Balaclava day from Prince Vladimir's regiment. He was savage, and one foreleg was held up to enable me to mount. He would jump anything I asked him. Prince Victor often had difficulty in keeping me in sight. He shod his own horses, and I think was sorry when the war was over.

August 16 (Battle of Tchernaya). Orders from headquarters to be prepared for a sortie, which, not coming off, enabled me to ride with Prince Victor to the Tchernaya, where a desperate attack was being made by the Russians on the Italians, the French going to their assistance. On the high ground on our way we met the dead and dying being brought up on mules, stretchers, and backs of men, then laid out in subdivided areas as most convenient for the French and English surgeons to get at. We descended to the river; the Russians, who had retreated to the high ground, continued to fire shot and shell on those who were helping the dying and wounded. The Tchernaya is a small river, but required a bridge to get over it. One of the painful sights was the badly wounded trying to drag themselves to the river, calling for drink. While contemplating the body of a young Russian officer (judging from his uniform and spurs), whose upper jaw had been shot clean away, the lower had an uninjured row of white teeth, heard a voice over my shoulder, remarking, "Il ne mange plus". Further on a Russian soldier had his left arm stretched out straight. Thought he must be alive and rode up, to find him stiff and dead. On a finger was a large ring. Without dismounting, drew it off, thinking I had a memento of the battle, but finding it was only brass, I was very near giving it back.

August 17. Notice from headquarters to be prepared for a determined assault on our Right Attack batteries. On my way met my late shipmate, Lieutenant Oldfield, weeping: a round shot had just taken his artillery brother's head off! Our batteries, not having been formed at the same time, were somewhat irregular, and it had been necessary to prevent the men rushing from one battery to the assistance of another: a friendly hint was given from headquarters that our men should leave their muskets and side arms behind! We had a large battery, with three or four smaller, on each side. In the main battery I selected and made a pile of empty shell cases, forming a platform for self to stand on. Returning after final inspection, found Captain Hammett in possession of my pile. Caused him to dismount, though he seemed to object, but having learned which of the Russian batteries could bear on our own, I took possession. The ball had commenced. After a few minutes I called from the position, "Look out, a round shot direct for our battery". Hammett gave the notice to the men, who sprang from either side, but did not move himself. The shot touched the muzzle of the gun, and doubled up poor Hammett. There was a youngster bending over; I hoped there were not two down. Found the poor lad was sick at the sight of Hammett's wounds. My gig's crew bore him to our camp, some three miles off. Some one in camp with a telescope, seeing a gold lace cuff from under the stretcher borne by the Captain's gig's crew, announced my end. Total: five killed, nineteen wounded.

Plan of Sevastopol.

August 18 (In Naval Brigade). Continued vigorous bombardment on our side, but enemy nearly shut up. Whole day on Right Attack. Six men only were wounded on Left Attack. Dined with Charlie Windham, the almost too plucky Brigadier General of Second Division. Met Duke of Newcastle.

August 19. Sunday. - Bombardment continuing. Getting used to narrow escapes; had two on Left Attack. Dog killed on Right Attack in afternoon. Redan much cut up, also Malakoff. General Barnard, staff and Steele to dinner.

August 20. Visit from Bob Stopford. Returned to usual routine of firing. Visited Left Attack. Sir Thomas Pasley and son coming there. Young Pasley just made a Commander to take Hammett's place. Generals Barnard and Bentick to dine.

August 21. Threatened sortie. Troops out. Visited Right Attack; fired some long range near the Russian three-decker and bridge, etc.

August 22. Accompanied Lord Rokeby to show him our long range practice on Right Attack. But little time to go elsewhere. Dined with General Sir William Eyre to meet the Duke of Newcastle.

August 23. Introduced Pasley to Right Attack. Not much going on. Threw several shot round, if not into Russian ship. Mail arrived. Wynyard, Wenny, Connell, and others to dine.

August 24. To headquarters and Balaklava and hospital, Cossack Bay. Lieutenant Everett, severe wound in battery. General Sir William Eyre to dine.

August 25. Turned out at 2.30 A.M. to meet expected sortie. No go. Lord Rokeby and Wenny to dine.

Inside the Naval Brigade Battery.

August 26. In batteries at an early hour (3 A.M.). Billy Fyler and Fitzroy to dinner.

August 27. Grand meeting at headquarters to invest certain parties with order of G. and K.C.B. Visited Right Attack and demolished new works on the salient of Redan.

August 28. Lord Rokeby, who was, I might say, "all over the place", had visited the French lines that extended from the Malakoff in the direction of Inkerman. The officers complained how annoyed they had been by a hole made by the Russians at the foot of the Malakoff, through which, on a dark night, they managed to creep, and having but the sky for a background, themselves unseen, managed to pick off the French sentries. Rokeby having spotted where the hole was, thought it was within range of our Naval Brigade batteries, and having found me, pointed out the fresh stopped hole. To make sure, I decided on visiting the place myself. Mounted my pony, found the French lines and tried to explain in bad French what I had come for. They assisted me through the stopped embrasure, at right angles with the Malakoff. I had not been there more than a minute than a "pat, pat" noise struck the bushes. It was a noise I had heard before, and thinking I had seen quite enough, struggled to get back, but found that instead of help, I was detained from within by pressure on the soles of my boots. I reserved the best French that I could think of until I got back, and then let out at my then comrades in the foulest French I could muster. They laughed good-humouredly! It being late I rode across an open space and was as near as possible spotted by a Russian round shot. I got back in time to point such guns as would bear on the spot; if it had not been for the good Rokeby I felt inclined to lay the guns in another direction.


September 1 (Extract from letter home). Our allies are not yet ready for the next and, I trust, final assault; their sap appears to touch the edge of the Malakoff. We, too, are not ready, being in want of ammunition. We are all anxious that something should be done, as we know not when to prepare for winter quarters. If the Malakoff falls, it must naturally be followed by that of the remaining works of the enemy. On the south side we shall advance somewhat nearer to our work. The Russians, too, appear to be preparing for a move. They have established a bridge across the harbour and are fast removing their goods and chattels. Everything leads us to suppose that the winter will not find us in our present position. The enemy will contest every inch of ground. We do not, on our side, grow wiser from experience. The other night our working party on the Right Attack was surprised and some taken prisoners by a small body of Russians who made a sortie. Officers have over and over again been surprised and taken prisoners while planting their advanced sentries at night by Russians lying concealed in the shrubs and grass. A little more care would have prevented this. My silly fellows unnecessarily expose themselves in spite of warnings and examples.

We have two casualties; besides, an amateur youngster from the Curacoa must mount the parapet and borrow a sergeant's musket, to take a shot at a Russian. This young Gambier mounted on the top of the parapet, had a Minie ball through his thigh in a moment. One of my "Rodneys" got shot through the head yesterday, having gone outside the embrasure to pick up sticks to cook his dinner. Yesterday our bluejackets acted a play in the open air. Stage, the side of a hill; a ballet dancer did Taglioni to perfection. The Duke of Newcastle dined at our mess. Never enjoyed better health: lots of excitement and plenty to do. In fact I have knocked up in succession all my staff, viz. my A.D.C., secretary, and the stout Padre, "Thomas". But I must not crow till out of the wood.

September 4. Dined with Rokeby, meeting John Dugdale Astley, Scots Fusilier Guards, returned with wound cured, and others. Was going to write a line; an unusual rattle of musketry announced a sortie. Galloped to our batteries, found them blazing away. The attack was on our right on the French, who, being well prepared, gave the Russians a dressing. I have not heard to what amount.

I must beg allowance of my readers for difference of expression in the "Right" and "Left" Attack. Naval Brigade batteries faced Sevastopol, while the military maps faced inland.

The moon was rising, and the outlines of hills, forts, and figures showing. In each trench, standing up with musket in hand, were several rows of our soldiers ready to jump at a call in support of those further in advance, or to attack should the French have driven the Russians back in that direction. But their attack had been on the Mamelon from the Malakoff. We were expecting and ready to repel a similar sortie from the Redan, but none came. When I reached the front Captain Pechell, only son of Sir George, Bart., R.N., had just been shot down with six men of the 77th. It is customary at night for each side to throw out sentries in advance directly it is dark enough to cover the persons so advancing. Just between the foot of the ditch outside the Redan and our advanced trenches there is a cave, the mouth of which faces towards the works on our right. Directly it is dark the object between the Russians and ourselves is to try which can first get possession of it. We have generally succeeded, but last night the officer of the 88th, who went to take possession, mistook his way. Pechell, who had been in it before, volunteered, but it was then too late, the Russians being in possession, and at same time entirely hid by the darkness of the cave; they allowed Pechell and his six men to approach near enough to make sure, and then potted them all.

September 8. A bombardment, in earnest, commenced at 6 this morning; at 11.30, the usual resting-time of the Russians, the French surprised and carried the Malakoff. Our attempt on the Redan was to follow the hoisting of the French flag on the Malakoff, which was too late for any further surprises. We could now see clearly what our Naval Brigade had to do. Leaving the higher batteries, I went down to our extreme left, on the real Right Attack, and found a fresh battery had been made during the night by engineers, and in charge of a young artillery officer. I had already been advised at headquarters that our men should leave their small arms behind. General Simpson may have heard that on a previous occasion, when the Naval Brigade were told off to carry the scaling ladders under the gallant Peel, directly they observed the slope of the Redan fortification they proposed to drop the ladders, saying they could get in better without them. After visiting the main batteries, where my most experienced hands were, I joined our later, extended battery. We made a bad beginning, inasmuch as our magazine was blown up, which rendered eight guns less effective.

The rush for the Redan had now commenced, and in the excitement our men wanted to draw the stakes out of the gabions, and to rush in. I noticed, on high ground to my left, the two Generals, Simpson and Gascoigne, one wounded in the head. Directly opposite, within 300 yards, was a Russian battery playing on our men; half the effect of our battery was spoilt by being unable to fire, except by dropping shots into the Russians opposite. Shortly after an A.D.C. came galloping, giving me an order to "cease firing". Our soldiers were being mowed down, chiefly by grape shot. The young artillery officer had ceased firing. I ran to his small battery and inquired the reason. He, too, had received orders, same effect. I told him I had received the same, but on no account to cease firing, and offered to send as many spare hands as he could employ, which he accepted. The Russians used grape shot, which came hopping along, many of them stopping in the ditch in front of our battery. The bombardment was kept up till sunset. Augustus Fitzroy, whose battery was on our left, on returning to camp joined two of our officers who preferred the open. Before reaching his tent he was knocked over by a bullet, which must have come from the Redan; the Russians having returned to that end, which the gallant Windham had held.

Windham was one of my oldest friends; we were boys together and remained friends till his death, February 2, 1870, at the early age of fifty-nine. He was properly called the Hero of the Redan, for by his gallant bearing on that day he did much to retrieve our good name. Dead against the first attack himself, its numbers, place, etc. etc., he nevertheless led it in the most gallant manner, being first in the work - and after his three messengers had been disabled had the moral courage to go back himself and solicit reinforcements.

"Redan" Windham.

September 9. Early this morning visited Sir Colin Campbell; a few Highlanders had during the night crept into the Redan and found it deserted. On Sir Colin's invitation we rode into the Redan by the salient angle. Horrors met us at every step. Two instances of faithful, but half-starved dogs were sitting on bodies, from which no coaxing could draw them. In a small hut on a table, leaning against the wall, was a Russian officer, looking smart in his uniform; on my speaking to him I found that he was dead. In the higher part noticed excavations and could trace wires for explosions. Sevastopol had been evacuated during the night - magazines blown up - town blazing - ships sank - others on fire. The Russians had put themselves on the safe side of the harbour by blowing up the east end of the floating bridge. Strolling about I found myself close to the ground floor of a hospital. On entering I was between two long rows of Russian soldiers, dead and dying, on broad wooden stretchers. I will not attempt to describe the horrors, but each body was in a position as if trying to escape. At the further end I found a young English officer in uniform who said he had been expecting us some time - he was wandering in his mind. A flag of truce was hoisted about noon. The Russians sent steamers to remove their dead and dying. One, the Vladimir, was commanded, I think, by Captain Etholin, who had done a gallant thing earlier in the war by capturing and taking into the harbour an English transport that had grounded in sight of our combined fleets. While the truce flag was up I moved three guns down to the edge of the harbour. When the Russian steamers had landed their dead and dying and returned to their moorings, in front of where we stood in a sort of hostile parade, one of the three Naval Brigade guns went off and smashed Vladimir's quarter boat. That same night we were building a screen, from behind which we could destroy any attempt at landing to interfere with our newly appointed Governor, Charles Windham. At midnight, superintending the work, I observed the Vladimir make a move in our direction. Not a sound from on board. When she got near mid-channel, she stopped and gradually turned with her head up the harbour. When broadside on I gave the order to lie down behind our newly made screen, whereupon Vladimir quietly settled herself at the bottom of the harbour, leaving nothing but the upper masts. It was from the foremast of that ship that all flags of truce and communications were made.

September 10. Word was sent to me that poor Augustus Fitzroy's wound was considered mortal. Wrote to prepare his father for the sad event, and then to receive his last instructions. Poor dear, unlucky, gallant fellow. I had known the whole family from the time I had landed, as a skeleton boy, at the Cape of Good Hope in 1827. In pain I took down the items as he wished them to be disposed of: poor boy! They were but few. He was buried on Cathcart's Hill with full military honours, in the grave next to Sir Robert Newman, which I had made big enough to hold two.

September 11. The inspection of the evacuated forts showed how destructive had been the fire of our batteries and how great a share the Naval Brigade had in the Fall of Sevastopol. It is an immense place, but there was not a spot where our shot had not penetrated. It was a sad spectacle; so precipitate had been the Russian retreat that they had cut off the communication by their bridge and left some 2000 wounded in barracks. Looking at the mastheads of their line-of-battle ships, and the still smoking ruins of their public buildings, I was in hopes that this would bring the war to a conclusion.

Naval Brigade ordered to prepare for re-embarking. Was frequently in the artillery camp arranging details. One morning, in the Colonel's marquee, we noticed a sailor coming from the town. As he was steering wildly, I thought it best to retire into the shade. The Colonel asked where he was from: if he had any loot. He replied he had not, and added, "Tomorrow, I intends to ewacuate the Crimea."


September 16 (Sevastopol). The breaking up for embarkation of our Brigade was a curious scene. First started off 160 mules, with baggage, etc. Such a collection! Then came our men, divided into three divisions, according to their destinations. I go to the Rodney at Kazatch, and officers to the different ships at Balaklava. Two regiments kindly sent their bands: the 14th, in which my brother was at Waterloo, and the 18th Royal Irish with ours. The Naval Brigade went with flags of all descriptions flying, and no end of cheering -with "one more for Captain Kaple".

September 17. The more I visit the Russian works and town of Sevastopol, the more wonderful does everything connected with the siege appear. One hardly knows which is the most extraordinary - the perfect destruction of every building in the town by shot and shell, or the stupendous works erected by the Russians for their defence. The Redan and Malakoff are nothing compared to the Flagstaff and Garden Batteries. The latter were impregnable, and might have held out any length of time. The Malakoff was taken by surprise by the French, as they had done the Mamelon. Of all, the Redan appeared the least difficult to assault - but that is'a subject we all try to forget. Of our generals, Colonel, now Brigadier-General Charles Windham, comes out the best. The Russians have left vast stores of guns, etc., they could not, in their haste, carry away.

September 22. Little Harry (Stephenson), with symptoms of fever, on board Rodney, despatched at once with Thompson to Serapia Hospital. Dined with Windham as Governor in city of Sevastopol. A shell burst within ten yards as I mounted pony to go home.

September 23. Visited with General Barnard, La Marmora's lookout houses over the Tchernaya and adjacent country. On Saturday pitched my tent near General Barnard.

September 24. Hugh Rose sent me from French headquarters the two last captured Cossack spears. (The last I saw of them was at Sir Thomas Whichcote's, Ashwerby Park, to which I afterwards added a link of the chain that formed the slings of the main yard of the Twelve Apostles.)

September 28. Having exchanged with Moorsom, Council found an artillery waggon for my traps, rode down to Balaclava, taking up quarters on board Leander. My servant, having left Bury's much-valued clock in tent, sent him back.

September 29. Like my Admiral [Rear-Admiral Charles Howe Fremantle, Leander was his flagship], and like having work to do.

September 30. Took Washington and his son a ride on to Balaclava Plain, and round by headquarters.

October 1. Commenced duties as Flag Captain. Dockyard affording amusement, especially erection of stables.

October 3. Sid Skipwith and I dining with Methven, commanding P. and O. Colombo.

October 5. Busy embarking Royal Marines, the finest body of men now in the Crimea.

October 7. Embarking troops. Rode in afternoon with the Duberlys, 8th Hussars, to Baidar to hear the Sardinian Band.

October 8. Cavalry and horse artillery embarking for Eupatoria. Lady Paulet on board Oscar. Lord William Paulet to stay with Admiral.

October 13. Put box with poor Augustus Fitzroy's bequests on board Ripon for conveyance to his sister, Hon. Mrs. Keith Stewart.

October 14. Rode over to Kazatch to ascertain means for embarkation of Highland Brigade.

October 15. Dined with the Duberlys, Windham and St. George Foley.

October 19. Dinner at a Kamiesch restaurant - Duberlys, Vansittart, St. George Foley, Charlie Windham, and Lewis and Earle, A.D.C.'s, Prince Victor and Thompson, Sir William Gordon and Lord Dunkellin.

October 23. Dined on board Belgravia with Lady Paulet, Mrs. Mitchell and Lady Manson.

October 24. Review of cavalry and horse artillery: none like them in the world: near 3000 strong.

October 28. Picnic at Baidar - Belgravian ladies, Prince Victor, T. Duberly, etc. Former lost their way coming back.

October 29. Started with Thompson for Kazatch. My "Rajah" kicking him in play, had him carried off on stretcher to Council's camp.

November 3. We formed a cheery party for a ride towards Bilbek, consisting of Prince Victor, the Duberlys, Mark Kerr, Coleraine, Vansittart, and self, about 13 miles distant. The country hilly, grassy, and bushy; weather perfect. The attendants had arranged our picnic on a flat space on a hilly point. We had arranged ourselves to feed, when one of our party found we had disturbed a cavalry vedette of our own countrymen on an adjacent point. A ravine between, they could not conveniently get at us.

While things were getting ready rode to the western edge of our selected spot and found we had likewise disturbed a nest of Cossacks. Our small party were not long in packing up this nice little Picnic. Being well mounted, I waited to take a farewell peep, and from my position saw a greasy Cossack, about 30 feet below me, looking about with his carbine across his saddle, I suppose for something to eat. Being hungry myself, I overtook our party about to picnic a quarter of a mile off, Mark Kerr riding, as usual, without his hat.

A Vedette of Cosacks.

November 4. Accompanied Lady Paulet to breakfast with Windham. Rode afterwards to Kazatch; dined with Beauchamp Seymour.

November 5. Breakfast with Sir E. Lyons. Transacted business, rode back to Balaclava, putting up a large covey of partridges by the way.

November 6. 8th Hussars embarking. Shall miss them and Mrs. Duberly.

November 8. With Wenny Coke to look after covey of partridges seen by me. While preparing luncheon, observed a French soldier stalking a bird that flew from bush to bush. Asked Wenny to shoot the bird for him while I prepared luncheon. When he came back I asked if the man was pleased. He replied, "I don't know! I have the bird in my pocket". I said "What a brute you are", when he produced a woodcock, which we at once cooked.

November 11. With my Admiral to headquarters. Took leave of General Sir James Simpson, also Willy Colville, who accompanies him to England. Mark Kerr was there. Admiral and I dined with Dupuis.

November 15. A fearful explosion between 3 and 4 P.M. in French Artillery Park, near the Mill. Rode over, sad sight. Loaded shells bursting, contents flying in a horizontal direction about seven feet from the ground, killing almost every horse that was on its legs. It being dinner hour most officers escaped. There was a large windmill used as a powder magazine. It was a sight to see the gallant engineers mounting ladders with wet blankets to nail on the outside of the Mill, to prevent falling fire igniting powder. I got so excited that I found myself letting go the reins to clasp my hands over my cap, as if that could preserve my brain box from falling fragments of shell. There was no distinction of nationality. It is fortunate that the first horizontal explosion took place while officers were dining. I was still looking on, when a working party of the 18th Royal Irish came rushing and formed up. I asked the sergeant what they were waiting for. He answered "Orders". I said, "That was not your form when we were in China, and danger in sight". They were off at once, officers and all, into the igniting shells. Nearly the last wounded I saw was a young officer carried on a stretcher, the boots on his legs heels uppermost. I think his name was Dashwood: a more painful sight than any fight. Thirty tons of powder lately arrived from England were destroyed.

November 18. Rode with my Admiral over to Kazatch to visit Commander-in-Chief; with him to take last look at Sevastopol Docks before destruction. Russians still numerous on north side.

November 24. Took leave of Wenny Coke. - homeward bound. Party to dine: Steele and Rose.

November 28. Vansittart, taking his departure, leaves me his horse to forward to his mother.

November 30. Young Dalyell makes his appearance from Constantinople.

From prisoners that had been exchanged, it appeared that the Russians made a difference in their treatment of those they took prisoners and those who allowed themselves to be taken. They treated the latter with great contempt, and used them ill. The Times paid a just tribute to the manly bearing of the officers of the Russian army. The naval officers - some of them - were fine fellows.

December 3. Dirty appearance of weather. My Admiral agreeing to remain on shore another day, took two youngsters, Wellesley and Molyneux, to see steeple chase. Weather turning fine. Sport very good. Rode back with boys to dine with Sir Edmund Lyons.

December 8. Accompanied my Admiral to headquarters, then to Kazatch to stay with Sir E. Lyons, and meet Curzon and St. George Foley and Beauchamp Seymour. Jolly dinner.

St. George Foley, Lord Raglan's A.D.C., died whilst Governor of Gibraltar.

December 10. Function on board French ships in memory of Admiral Bruat, Royal Albert firing 59 guns.

December 11. Visit from Cecil Rice - 6 feet 2.

December 12. Rode to front. Young Willy Barnard ill. Mail in. Sir E. Lyons a full Admiral: am so glad. Confidential despatch summoning him to a conference in Paris, also Pellissier and La Marmora.

December 14. Accompanied my Admiral to headquarters. Admiral and I dined with Hardinge, meeting Generals Barnard and Dupuis.

December 15. My Admiral, Prince Victor, and self to Kazatch, on a visit to Sir E. Lyons. Brigadier Spencer and large party to dinner.

December 16. Across to Kaimesch to see Inglefield's sketches and walk with him. Hugh Rose joined dinner party.

December 17. Snow and frost, slippery riding. Returned to Balaklava.

December 19. Thousands upon thousands of that beautiful bird the bustard (there are two sorts, one much larger), continually passing over to the northward. Several of them shot from the heights in time for Christmas.

December 23. Rode to headquarters. George Cadogan and I to Kazatch on visit to Beauchamp Seymour. Found Fitz Berkeley. We making jolly quartette on board Meteor.

December 25. Ate my Christmas dinner with Charlie Windham: jolly party. Letter from Sir Charles Wood, offering me division of gunboats: the thing of all others I most coveted! Took passage in Orinoco.

December 27. Rode up with my Admiral to headquarters to take leave: uncommon good luncheon.

December 28. Mail in from England. My name in papers as Commodore!

December 29. Took leave of my kind chief and Seymour, the latter agreeing to go as my captain in case of my being a real Commodore. Embarked on board Orinoco at 1 P.M. from Balaklava.

December 30. Came to, in afternoon, in the entrance to the Golden Horn. Dined with Borlase on board Melampus, 42, to meet the Admiral, Sir Houston-Stewart.

December 31 (Constantinople). No end of friends going both ways. Misseri's full; H. de Bathe on way to Crimea. At Embassy found Lady George Paget; Lady Powlett at Misseri's. Dined with Admiral on board Hannibal. Met there the Turkish Admiral, our Adolphus Slade.


January 1, 1856 (Constantinople). - Put up at Misseri's Hotel, when Dalrymple Hay, of Flagship, announced that Orinoco only waited for Captain Keppel. Adieu to Constantinople.

January 5 (Malta).Arrived early in Malta. Found Lady Talbot, Lady Victoria looking beautiful, but, I fear, not long for this world. Charlie Talbot dining with me. To opera, and re-embarked.

January 6. Steamed at an early hour.

January 17 (England). Passed through the Needles passage a little before 8 A.M. Landed at Southampton and started for London by train. Dined with Stephenson, felt there was "no place like home".

January 18 (London). First visit to the Admiralty; well received. Found myself appointed to Colossus and division of gunboats. Relieving old schoolfellow, Captain Robinson. Dined with Sir Maurice Berkeley.

January 19. Business at Admiralty, carpet-bag full of letters, no rest. Dined with First Lord; Lords Lansdowne and Stanley there.

January 20. By 'bus to visit Dowager Lady Albemarle at Twickenham; met Edwards, her trainer.

January 21. Visited Georgie Kennedy at Northbank. Jolly family dinner at Stephenson's.

January 22. Called on Lady Fremantle and Lady William Paget, Arundels and Sir Edmund Lyons. By rail to Portsmouth. Lodgings at Chambers on the Hard.

January 23 (Portsmouth). No uniform to hand, nevertheless visited privately Admiral Sir George Seymour and Admiral-Superintendent W.F. Martin. On board Colossus and Rodney.

January 25. Took up commission for Colossus. Seven gunboats defective. Dined with Admiral-Superintendent.

January 28. Got through two courts-martial on engineer and assistant-paymaster, both pleading guilty, thereby saving our time, but not their sentences. D'Eyncourt, Bowyear, Moorsom, and Clifford taking chop with me.

January 31. Early telegraph from Lord Arundel, that Sir E. Lyons dined at home. But post brought order to dine with Her Majesty at Windsor! Just saved my bacon, buying a pair of shoes as I passed through London.

February 1 (Windsor Castle). Invited by H.R.H. Prince Albert to shoot. Borrowed coat of Colonel Bowater. Shooting perfect. Back by 2 P.M. Visited Duchess of Kent at Frogmore. Went over Castle armoury, etc. Took Mrs. Phipps into dinner. Prince Albert taking leave over night.

February 2. By 10 o'clock train to London. Attended John Robb's wedding and breakfast.

February 3. Long chat with Sir James Graham. At Harry Stephenson's, another family gathering. Leicester and his brothers there. Edward Coke and wife, Archie Macdonald and wife, all jolly and happy.

February 6 (London). Dined with Duke of Cambridge. All Crimean men. Have seldom seen a meeting of twelve men so well satisfied with their dinner as well as with one another.

February 7. Dined with Baldwin Walker.

February 8 (London). Ascertained by this day's Gazette that I was to have the C.B.

February 9 (Portsmouth). By 5 P.M. train to Portsmouth. In same carriage as George Lennox; dined with him.

February 12. Handsome mention made of me by Sir Charles Wood in house last night.

February 16. By train to London.

February 18. Dined with First Lord.

I must now take my readers back fourteen years, when the decorations on the conclusion of the China war came out. My good father, not understanding the rules of the Service, seeing that I was the only captain not to receive the C.B., wrote privately to the then First Lord, Lord Haddington. A correspondence ensued admitting the hardness of my case, Lord Haddington informing my father that I should have the first vacancy. On my arrival from the East Indian Station (which then included China) in 1845, my father gave me this correspondence. On leaving England in the Meander for the same station, without keeping any copy, I respectfully enclosed the letters to Lord Auckland, and have no doubt they were transferred to the Private Secretary's Clerk's office, and may be there now.

But to return to the present. My predecessor in command of the Naval Brigade in the Crimea, on his promotion, received the K.C.B. and returned to England. Sir Edmund Lyons appointed me to succeed Lushington. I felt that my command of the Brigade having terminated successfully I might receive a similar distinction.

Early to see my friend Berkeley at the Admiralty, who, having well considered the case, took me into the presence of the First Lord, Sir Charles Wood. With him was his brother-in-law Sir Frederick Grey. Admiral Berkeley having clearly stated my case, the First Lord, rather excited, addressed me.

"Perhaps, Captain Keppel, you would like me to explain to Her Majesty that you would rather decline the C.B".

I replied, "Exactly, sir, I feel more distinguished as I am".

Admiral Berkeley here interfered, saying, "Keppel, we are old friends. The order comes so directly from Her Majesty that you cannot decline it without offence".

I replied, "Many thanks, sir, that is the last thing I would do". Made my bow and retired.

February 20. Attended levee. Dined with De Cliffords. Dance at Lady John Russell's. Evening party at Lady Mary Woods: everybody there!

February 22. Attended Installation of the Order of the Bath at Buckingham Palace; was decorated with the Companionship by Her Majesty!

March 8 (London). Dined with brother George to meet my new, pretty niece Sophy Bury.

March 9. By train to Portsmouth.

March 11. Inspected gunboats at Motherbank. Dined with Fred Pelham to meet Admiral Hon. Sir R. Dundas. Getting Colossus cabin ready. Mid-day visit to Motherbank.

March 12 (Portsmouth). On usual morning attendance on the Commander-in-Chief. Sir George, looking unusually serious, said: "I am afraid I must address you as 'Captain Keppel'. I have repeatedly spoken about the carelessness of officers in command of gunboats, and now I find that one of your Division has been trying to break through Ryde Pier. Now the damage done by them, chiefly at night, averages £85 per week."I was sorry, and ventured to ask how he knew the culprit belonged to my Division? He replied, "By the number on the bow." To which I said, "I beg your pardon, sir, the most mischievous of these young scamps, when going at night where they ought not, carry spare boards with any number on them but their own". He rang the bell and sent for the board, which luckily proved to be that of the only gunboat that was, and had been fitting alongside the Colossus! I think the Admiral was as pleased as myself at the mistake. Clifford and I dined with Hope to meet Sir Richard Dundas, now our Baltic Chief.

March 14. On a visit to my kinsman H. H. Lindsay at West Dean, a charming place in Sussex.

March 16. Palm Sunday. Afternoon walked to Goodwood, Duke and Duchess out. Lady Cecilia looking lovely! Lady William Paget charming. Got drenched walking back.

March 17. Early train, via Chichester, to Portsmouth. Of course, plenty to attend to. Pelter, commanded by Lieutenant H. Round, my gunboat for the week.

March 18. Shifted shore quarters to Portland Hotel. Dined with Commander-in-Chief.

March 20. To the Motherbank. Got Division under weigh round the Nab. Some successful manoeuvring.

March 22. By afternoon train to Chichester. Met at station by George Lennox. With him to Goodwood. So kindly received. Most enjoyable.

March 23 (Goodwood). Easter Sunday. To morning service. Walk after church to West Dean to luncheon. Walked back, having taken another pleasanter walk with the excellent Duchess.

March 24. Lords March and George Lennox returning with me for a cruise in gunboats. Flotilla under weigh. They much pleased. Dined with Commander-in-Chief. First Lord and Admiral Berkeley there.

March 25. Admiralty Lords in Black Eagle. Colossus and gunboats under weigh by signal, and proceeded in company to Portland. Lord Mulgrave, H. Corry, and party on board. Dined on board Black Eagle.

March 26 (Portland). Breakfasted on board Black Eagle. Inspected with First Lord the works in progress. Easterly wind, too strong for gunboats to return with Black Eagle. Dined with Lord Mulgrave on board Titania yacht. Slept where I dined.

March 27. On board Colossus to breakfast.

Luncheon with Lady Hastings. Montagu Thomas taking me to Dorchester. By rail to Southampton and Portsmouth.

(Portsmouth) Luncheon with Cousin Cecilia Yorke. Colossus with gunboats arriving in afternoon from Portland. Reported them and self to Admiral.

March 30. Peace proclaimed at Paris; great illuminations and rejoicings.

April 1. Took up quarters on board Colossus in harbour.

April 3. Stanley Graham joined ship and dined with me.

April 8. My White Division giving a ball at Ryde. The best that had been given, so they all said!

April 9. Slept at Ryde Pier Hotel for a few hours. Went to Lady Hastings with cousin Cecilia.

April 11. Arrived Conqueror, Exmouth, and Dee. Commander-in-Chief came out in Fire Queen, and inspected position of gunboats.

April 14 (Spithead). 11 A.M. - Weighed, and proceeded to Spithead to take station in line with the fleet in Port Division.

April 15. Imperieuse and Desperate arrived and took station.

April 16. Arrived Euryalus and Falcon. Division of gunboats under weigh exercising.

April 17. Arrived Pylades, Amphion, and Centurion, 1 P.M. -

April 18. Fleet weighed to exercise. Sir George Seymour's flag flying in Arrogant. Stood round pivot-ship, and returned to station in line at Spithead.

April 19. Rodney and London, took station as pivot-ships off the Nab.

April 20. Sea-horse arrived. Gunboats arriving daily.

April 23 (Spithead). Grand Review of the whole Fleet. Noon, fired Royal Salute as Her Majesty passed up between the two lines, followed by the four Divisions of gunboats. First and Second Division leading with two gunboats each, making four abreast. As soon as the gunboats had passed through and divided to starboard and port round the headmost ships of the Line, the whole Fleet weighed and stood to the southward, and so round the pivot-ships. The gunboats having taken position in front of Southsea beach afterwards opened fire on a signal from Royal Yacht. Her Majesty returned into harbour under a second Royal Salute from the whole Fleet, the ships coming to an anchor in prescribed order. 9 P.M. - The whole Fleet illuminated and burnt rockets.

April 29. 4.30 P.M. - Weighed with the White Division, ran down to Spithead for orders. 5.30. - Proceeded to eastward.

April 30. Communicated in gunboats with Dover. 10.40. -Rounded to in the Downs and received pilot. Ran through Princes Channel. 8.10. - Came to off the Little Nore. White Division in company.

May 1. 6.20 A.M. - Weighed with White Division. Saluted flag of Rear-Admiral Honourable William Gordon, and proceeded into harbour. Moored on north side. Proceeded by permission to London.

May 2 (Boulogne). The proclamation of peace affected movements of Division of gunboats, which had been destined to take part in operations in the Baltic. After breakfast to Admiralty. Offer of Broad Pennant in India. Would a duck like a swim! By steamer to Boulogne. Friend Admiral Julien de Graviere on board. We lunched on board Sir John Bayley's yacht Nymph.

May 5. 9 A.M. steamer to Folkestone. By train to Shoreditch, so to Romford; met by Mark Wood, with him to his place, Bishop's Hall, and his charming wife, Miss Williams that was. Lady Thorold too, from Lincolnshire, so sorry could not stay longer.

May 12. To Sheerness, dined with the Vice-Admiral, Sir William Gordon, a dear steady old gentleman: at table, good for five hours. He had invited Frank Scott and Henry Yorke to dinner. Usual routine with division of gunboats.

May 29. On arriving at St. George's Place, Harry Stephenson informed me that Colossus had sailed for Crimea. At Admiralty, ascertained that Royal George and Colossus had passed the Downs. I being on leave, Captain Robinson had been reappointed to Colossus. Telegraphed to detain Centurion or Royal George for me at Plymouth.

May 30. By 1 P.M. train, arriving 2 A.M. at Morshead's, Plymouth.

May 31. Daylight brought in Royal George, Colossus having passed on. Found that my telegraph to Torquay had effected what I wanted. At 8 sailed in Royal George from Plymouth.

June 2 (At sea). Making a fine weather passage. An idler I.

June 6. Once more the Rock of Gibraltar in sight. 9 A.M. - Came to in the Bay. Went on shore to the good George Greys. 10 P.M. - Colossus arrived.

June 7. Stewart Paget coming on board for a cruise. 7 P.M. - Weighed and steamed out of the Bay.

June 14 (Malta). Arrived in Malta. Ship coaled and ready before dark, but a little rest for stokers necessary.

June 15. Cast off from buoy, 4 A.M.

June 18. Once again in the Archipelago, having passed Cape St. Angelo in middle watch. Should have been at Queen's Ball to-night "if not otherwise engaged".

June 19. Entered the Dardanelles. Met Queen full of troops in tow of Terrible.

June 20. In the Sea of Marmora, 1 P.M. - Anchored in the Golden Horn.

June 21. 3 P.M. - Weighed; ordered by Rear-Admiral Sir F. Grey to tow transport up the Bosphorus!

June 23 (Crimea). Anchored off Kazatch. In Comber's steamer Viper to Sevastopol Harbour. Visited north side, from maintop of Twelve Apostles, brought away slings of main yard. Went over fortifications, docks, Malakoff and Redan. Rode to Cathcart's Hill. Visited graves of my two friends.

June 24. Luncheon at headquarters. With Charlie Windham to Balaclava. Dined with Freemantle, and slept on board Leander.

June 25. Colossus off the harbour by 7.30. Embarked 754 officers and men of the 44th Regiment. Old friend Colonel Charles Stanley in command. Out and away at 10.30. Percy Herbert and Romaine on board.

June 26. Ran past Constantinople during the afternoon, telegraphing to Flag, without stopping, the regiment and number of troops on board. Clear away without a trooper in tow!

June 27. Centurion full of fuel, and with a clean bottom, steamed past us this morning in an unpleasant manner. Clear of Dardanelles. Found a slashing north-easter blowing.

(At sea) I have often thought how easy it would have been with our united fleets to have stopped up the mouth of Sevastopol Harbour between Forts Nicholas and St. Michael. We had material enough in useless old ships to block the entrance assisted by the debris from the aforesaid Forts, where during the winter months, mud washed down from the rivers and adjacent streams would have formed a lake, to be continually renewed until it became arable, and in some future time the farmer's plough might strike the Vladimir's funnel or remove the head of the Twelve Apostles.

June 28. Passed through the Doro passage in middle watch and rounded Cape St. Angelo.

June 29. Fuel falling short: obliged to economize, always a bore! Was in too great a hurry passing Constantinople. Divine Service to troops and seamen.

4 P.M. - Fell in with a collier consigned to French Government, she not knowing of her whereabouts eased her of fifty tons.

July 1 (Malta). Arrived at Malta before 8 A.M. Admiral the Hon. Sir Montague Stopford in command. Coaled, and off by 4 P.M.

July 2. Rounded Cape Bon. Impatient I!

July 8. 6 A.M. - Anchored at Gibraltar. While coaling passed time pleasantly enough between George Grey and Pagets. Dined with the General. Got everybody on board by 11 P.M. Weighed at midnight.

July 18 (Spithead). At daylight passed the Needles, and at an early hour anchored at Spithead, within two hours of Centurion. George Lennox dined with me on board, returned his binoculars. Her Majesty passing through Spithead came close by Colossus. Great cheering.

July 19. Disembarked troops. No men could have behaved better than our 44th throughout the voyage. Dined with the good Admiral, Sir George Seymour.

July 21. Colossus coming into harbour, accompanied Admiral and family to Cowes. Wrote my name in lodge-book at Osborne.

July 23. By 2.30 train to London; put up with Harry Stephenson. To Haymarket, by appointment with Lord William Paget.

July 24. Edward Eyre to breakfast. Hack cab to Twickenham to dine with Dowager Lady Albemarle.

July 29. Letter from Sir Charles Wood announcing his intention of giving me a broad pennant in India. Started by train for Chichester. Thomas and I to Goodwood Races. Sent traps to West Dean, walked there from races.

July 30 (Goodwood). To Goodwood Races. Met many friends: George Payne, Admiral Rous, T. Whichcote, Crosbie, Joseph Hawley, Colonel Vansittart, etc. Dined at Goodwood. Found General Barnard on return to West Dean.

July 31. Cup Day. Sent traps to Goodwood and took up quarters which had been vacated by H.R.H. Duke of Cambridge. Dinner for sixty each day.

August 1. Another splendid day. After races went to West Dean to take leave. Duchess and party to Chichester Ball.

August 2. To Drayton Station by 8.30 train to London, Lost portmanteau. To club; met General Barnard. At Antrobus with Romaine to Jack Templer, and arranged the foundation of a reconciliation between Brooke and the Eastern Archipelago Company - a most desirable event. Back to London Bridge Station - no tidings of lost portmanteau - horrid bore! By 4.30 train to Snodlands and Leyburn Grange. Found Georgie and Sara Hawley, Coleraine and Diana coming afterwards. A love of a place this Grange. Everything in good taste and perfect order.

Interesting inspection of Hawley's extensive paddocks. Dinner and cooking in keeping with everything else in this cheery spot.

August 5. Visited Commander-in-Chief. Dined with Cashers. Portmanteau recovered by the good "Thomas" (The Rev. Josias Thompson) at Drayton Station.

August 8. To Cowes Regatta Ball with Lady Montagu and Miss Leeds. Good ball.

August 9. Started for Portsmouth. Went on board Royal George. Found Henry Yorke in sick bay with sprained ankle. Brought him on shore.

August 11. "Thomas" and I by steamer to Cowes Regatta. Sailed in Frankland's Stella.

August 12. Visited Admiral, who gave me his likeness.

August 16. With Admiral in Fire Queen to Spithead, he visiting Sardinian and Dutch frigates. To an afternoon dejeuner at Lord and Lady Downes at beautiful Binstead.

August 18. Made calls with Henry Seymour. Dined with Admiral Sir George Seymour to meet Dutch officers, he taking us all to Southsea rooms. Dancing!

August 21. Dined with Admiral. Letter from Torquay deciding that Henry Yorke's health will prevent his going to India.

August 24. Hired a fourwheeler and got kicked out, but succeeded in getting to Northlands before dinner was over.

August 26 (Osborne). Prince Victor and self were to dine at Osborne, he having a room there. We crossed early. Strolling by self in afternoon, came suddenly on Her Majesty and the Prince Consort. Tried to get behind a bush - too late! Was beckoned to by Her Majesty, who appeared in the best of spirits. The Queen asked me how I liked the change of uniform. Replied, "I like it very much, your Majesty, but this morning I was taken for a railway official". At this Her Majesty laughed heartily, giving His Royal Highness a little nudge, and added: "Have they not taken away your epaulettes?" Unfortunately I did not then know the improvement was His Royal Highness's idea. Took in Lady Caroline Harrington to dinner. Concert afterwards, it being Prince Albert's birthday; and a dance in servants' hall, which was attended by charming Lady Churchill, Miss Cathcart and household. English country dance, Roger de Coverley, etc.: great fun! Slept at Osborne.

August 27. Her Majesty and family off at 10 for London. Returned by 5 P.M. boat to Portsmouth.

August 28. Called on Sir George and Lady Seymour. Off Slaughter House Pier Thomas tried Francis' patent iron lifeboat, and was nearly drowned. We dined with George Lennox.

August 29. Board of Admiralty arrived.

August 30. Sir Charles Wood informed me that he had decided on my hoisting the broad pennant in the Raleigh for East Indies.

August 31. Went over Raleigh with Turnour: a magnificent frigate. Last of the sailers.

Source: Sir Henry Keppel G.C.B., D.C.L.: "A Sailor's Life under Four Sovereigns", Macmillan and Co., 1899, volume II, 288-324. 

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