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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

At Eupatoria on the west coast of the peninsula


soldiers, of whom 6,000 were

Turks, was landed, on September 14, at Eupatoria on the west coast of the peninsula. To the south of Eupatoria the sea forms a bay which receives the waters of the River Tchernaya, flowing past the ruins of Inkermann. Upon the southern side is the fortified city of Sebastopol. On the northern side fortifications had been built to protect the fleet anchored in the bay. Upon the heights overlooking the river Alma, Prince Menzikov, Governor of the Crimea, had stationed his army of 39,000 men with 106 guns. Although the heights overhanging the Alma are more than five miles long, the Russian troops by which they were defended formed a front of but three miles. This left the extreme left of the Russians open to an attack by a ford opposite the village of Almatack. Against Menzikov, Marshal St. Arnaud and Lord Raglan could oppose 63,000 men and 128 guns. The weakness of the undefended left flank of the Russian army was discovered from the French ships. St. Arnaud laid his plans accordingly. On the morning of September 20, the attack was begun. The warships steamed up the river and opened fire on the enemy. Bosquet, in command of a French division and a Turkish contingent, was assigned to attack Menzikov's left. He pushed his way through the village of Almatack and forded the river. His Zouaves nimbly climbed the heights and reached the feebly defended plateau. Menzikov, busily engaged in resisting the advance of the English against his right, at first refused to believe the unwelcome
tidings. He endeavored to shift a part of his force from right to left. Meantime the English, under Lord Raglan, were subjected to so fierce a fire from the Russian main position that they could make no headway. They lay passive upon the ground waiting for the French under Canrobert and Louis Napoleon to begin the attack in front, and thus divert the attention of Menzikov. Weary of their long delay, Lord Raglan took matters into his own hands. The English infantry rose from the field, advanced upon the Russian main position, and, under a hot fire, stormed the Russian redoubt with dreadful loss. Attacked on the one side by the English and on the other by the French, Menzikov was compelled to beat a retreat.

[Sidenote: War artists and correspondents]

The battle of the Alma was one of the first modern engagements described by special war correspondents in the field. The news of the victory was despatched to London with a rapidity prophetic of the feats performed by latter-day correspondents. Besides the war correspondents, several artists of note followed the armies of the allies. Among the French painters who have perpetuated some of the well-known episodes of the Crimean War were Horace Vernet, who painted a "Battle of Alma," and Paul Alexandre Protais, a pupil of Desmoulins, who first came into note about that time. Another artist who made his early reputation in the war of the Crimea was Adolphe Schreyer.

[Sidenote: Tolstoi]

On the Russian side, Count Lyof Tolstoi served at the front, together with his namesake and fellow writer, Count Alexander Tolstoi. There he gathered impressions for his stories on the siege of Sebastopol, and for his subsequent great novel of the Napoleonic invasion, "War and Peace."

[Sidenote: Cholera]

Besides the news of victory, the Crimean War correspondents told of the sore plight of the English army, of the ravages of cholera, and of the wretchedly organized hospital system. No preparations had been made for a very long campaign. The taking of Sebastopol, it was thought by the English, would present no grave difficulties.


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