Added by Marjie Bloy, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore. Christopher Hibbert, who used parts of these letters in his Destruction of Lord Raglan acknowledges Richard Dyer-Bennet, Snr. Cynthia Dyer-Bennet, his granddaughter, has graciously granted permission to include the correspondence in the Victorian Web, and according to her, her grandfather typed the transcriptions in 1961.

My dearest Mother,

I had intended writing to you by last Mail, but as usual it left at six o'clock on Friday night instead of six o'clock on Saturday morning, so when I came back from a dinner party I found I was sold, luckily I had written four letters before I went out, so it did not so much matter. My correspondence has now mounted up to seven or eight regulars besides occasionals and as you people in England are so greedy, and expect a letter every Mail, it is no joke. I had a very kind letter the mail before last, from my old friend Mrs. Seymour, announcing the engagement of one of her daughters, and begging I would write and let her know how I was, and how I got on. Her daughter is engaged to an officer in the 93rd out here, who I know, a very nice fellow. It is the youngest of the three, she was in the school-room when I stayed with them at Devonport.

I received your box, which was sent by the Black Prince a few days since, for which very many thanks. The eatables were very acceptable, but the clothing is now not of much use, as we have received lately a lot of things from the Government, these together with a lot of things I bought at sales of deceased Officers, things have accumulated and completely built me up, however they will do just as well for me when I return, which I hope is not now far distant. I was in a desperate funk for a day or two, thinking I fell to the siege train, which I should have done, if everything had been carried out fairly, but luckily Dyneley wanted to come out here, so made interest, and got appointed to Gregory's Jacket, although Taswell (who got Newton's) is the senior, and therefore ought to have had the first, however, this is very lucky for me, I shall now go to the Company of the man who gets Dyneley's Adjutancy, who is sure to be somewhere in England or some of the outstations, this will bring me home, in fact as soon as Collingwood, who is promoted out in my place, puts in an appearance, I expect I shall be ordered to make the best of my way to England. I like this much, but at the same time, I do not like leaving until this place is taken, and I think I shall volunteer to remain as Second Captain of this Battery, until Twiss who is at Bermuda, and who is appointed to this Company in place of Barstow, (who has got R.H.A.) comes out, this will not be for 3 or 4 months, as they have to write to Bermuda for him. He has then to go to England, and from thence out here, by that time Sebastopol will have fallen.

We are getting on slowly at present, and the weather impedes us much, it is the most variable climate, I should think in the world, for the last week we have had comparatively warm weather, with bright sunshine, and the ground was beginning to dry, and the roads improving, but today we have had rain, wind, snow, and it is now freezing hard, but I hope it will not continue.

I will now look over your letter and answer your questions, and then finish off with any news I can scrape together. In the first place, I was at Balaklava, for which I see in the papers we are to get a clasp, and very properly too, in the second place I do not know if Lord Raglan knows my name as having taken the General, but he must know it was an R.A., and as I gave him over to Lord Raglan himself after the action. In the third place, as regards the Guns, the point has never been mooted, and I think there would be some trouble to prove that mine, or any others, were those particular Guns, although in our own Battery there is no doubt of it.

Poor Harry Dashwood has fallen to the Siege Train, to a Company at Balaklava, so is for the present out of harm's way, I would not have anything happen to him for the world, it would finish his poor sisters and Mrs. Eyre, and they will want someone to support them in the event of Mr. Eyre's death. Give my best love to them all, and thank Mrs. Eyre for her kindness in thinking of me in all her trouble, particularly for the prayer. This War has made me a wiser, and I hope a better man, than I used to be. One cannot help feeling, when one sees men dying by hundreds, and being killed in Action by thousands, that it might be our turn the next minute, and how ill prepared most of us are.

I have nothing wanting at present in my tent, so will not trouble Charles Gascoigne not only that, as I do not know how soon I may leave this, it would be of no use.

And now my dear Mammy, pray do not trouble yourself about my health as I am as well, if not better, than ever I was in my life, and as hard as nails. All the fellows here say I am made of cast iron, as nothing seems to affect me, if I should have an attack of anything, you may depend I will make no end of Halloobellow.

As regards the papers, I think I do not get all you send, but that is of no consequence, as we now take five papers between us, the only paper I care about from you is the Bristol one. You should put via Marseilles on them as you do on your letters.

I will get Lady Young the sketch of poor Young's grave, or rather of the field in which he is buried, as there are a great many hundred alongside him now. As regards his illness, he was unwell for some time, and then got better and returned to his duty, was taken ill again shortly afterwards, and died very suddenly, as indeed all do, who are taken with Cholera out here. I have seen men in perfect health carried off in three or four hours. He was well attended, in fact everything was done for him that could be done and being much liked, had every attention that one could pay him. One of us sat with him by turns, night and day, and I was with him when he died.

I intend if I possibly can to bring my Russian Pony, the only difficulty will be getting him to Constantinople. Tell Eliza I will answer hers by next Mail, as there is so little going on here now, it is impossible to fill two letters such as this, written to the same family.

I cannot tell you how delighted we (that is the Army), are at the Ministry being turned out, as it is through their stupidity and want of foresight, that all we have had to undergo, has been occasioned, not only that everybody feels out here, that if the conduct of negotiations were left in their hands, they would patch up a disgraceful peace, and then all our hard won victories, and hardships, would go for nothing. They should never stop until Sebastopol is utterly destroyed, because so long as the Russians have this place, so long will they have the command of the Black Sea and Constantinople, and, unless we take it now, we shall never get another opportunity.

Tell Aunt we have got some of Finis and Fisher still, we have been living like fighting cocks, thanks to her. The Crimean Army fund affair has turned out all humbug, as they have made such a mess of it that no one will take the trouble to go through half the formulas they require. Besides, they will not let you take what, or as much as you like, but have divided it into shares, and require requisition signed by half the Authorities in the place before they will sell you anything.

Pray remember me to the Woolcombes, &c., &c. I wrote to Fanny Knowlys last mail, which I suppose you will have heard of, e'er you receive this. I have nothing more to tell you just at present, so will wind up. On the other side I have written out a list for Mr. Franklen of what his son will require. I have copied it from the list I made of what I brought out with me, and left out those things I found to be useless. He had better bring out about £20 or £30 in case. He will then not require to draw on Cox for six or seven months.

With best love to all at home, and Laleston when you believe me dearest

W.P.R. CAPTAIN


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Last modified 23 April 2002