This material graciously had been shared with the Victorian Web by the Green Howards. Thanks are due to the Green Howards Regimental Museum, Richmond, North Yorkshire and to Mr. Kenneth Usherwood, the living relative of Charles Usherwood. Added by Marjie Bloy, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore
12 July. Weather very hot and in addition to which sickness began to be observed as by the subjoined General order of the 19th July 1854 will illustrate —
Bowel complaints having become prevalent 2 oz of Scotch Barley or Rice and a ¼ oz of tea extra is authorized to be issued daily and in the same order Turkish Soldiers attached to the Commissariat Transport of the British Army were allowed the following per diem:
Captains, — one shilling
Subalterns, — sixpence
Non Comd Officers & Privates, — threepence with free rations of provisions.
Let it be known in reference to the above that a British Soldier had to pay for his own rations out of his daily pay.
21 July 1854 Coming home from bathing in the evening I passed a number of Turkish labourers who it appears were on their way from work. After they had passed me which was from the direction of the marshy part of the valley and reached away at only a few yards distance, an old man with grey beard and hair suddenly became ill, who falling upon the ground rolled about in extreme agony of pain and vomiting very much. I stood by and watched his companions who did all in their power to relieve him but not being able to speak the language and having never seen such an occurrence before I wondered to myself of what could it be, as in a very short time only a few minutes the Turk died.
22nd July 1854, Sunday. Early this morning I got up, went down to the river to bathe and on my way passed the corpse of the old man who died yesterday evening and who was now lying upon the top of an Araba, or native conveyance. On reaching camp from bathing loaded as I was with milk and eggs, I learned that the cholera had suddenly attacked the Division, several men being in hospital at the time with scarcely any hopes of recovery. In 8 days from today 92 men of the Division died of this scourge.
23 July 1854. In consequence of the rapid prevalence of cholera among the regiments of the Division the whole of the troops comprising the Division were ordered to march and take up a new encampment at Monestue about 5 or 6 miles away. The Division moved and arrived at its new encampment in the course of the afternoon of same day where Serg. Murphy, Sergeant of the Guard was taken ill and died.
After the arrival of the Division the two Brigades were separated at about a mile from each other and the Corps placed so as not to be too near each other. Here a Bazaar was established and the natives were induced to bring in produce of every description. Water too was plentiful and good, and which always seemed to be plentiful in this country. The houses of the inhabitants were constructed of mud and wood work and were generally encircled by a high mud wall. Within the enclosure they kept their cattle and from what I have observed found in general the interior of the dwellings of the Bulgarians very trim and clean that is to say according to their means.
During this month July the Regiment received a notification to take effect from 10 May 1854 which gave me promotion to Sergeant from that date.
On 26 July a Draft came out for 19 Foot consisting of 1 Sub. Goren, 1 Asst. Surgeon Hifferman, and 102 Rank and file.
By a general order of 30 July one gill of spirits free the Commander of the Forces authorised to be issued to each man per day and also recommends coffee be given to the men before going on parade in the morning as recommended by the Medical Officers. Too as well in General orders of 1 August 1854 the ration of meat per diem for each man is to be increased to 1½ lb to be without additional stoppage and in consequence of the inclemency or unhealthy seasons.
Up to the 6 August 1854 cholera was still prevalent tho' not so frequent and serious in its attacks, but as a substitute debility and fever made their joint appearances which tho' few deaths occurred was short and severe, myself having felt the effects of the fever. About this time the weather was hot and sultry.
7th Aug. 1854 a Circular Memo bearing date 21 July 1854 was promulgated announcing that moustaches were authorized to be worn.
24 Aug. Weather has become morning and evenings cold tho' at midday the sun is very warm. The Corps has lost since it left England by deaths 2 Serjeants, Murphy and Patterson, and 16 Privates. About this time we began to learn the news of the intended invasion of the Crimea.
While at Monestue each Corps of the Army were allowed to choose one Sergeant for recommendation to a Commission as Ensign. In the 19th the choice fell on Colour Sergeant Thompson whom prior to his receiving his commission became Quarter Master Sergeant in room of Patterson died of cholera.
With regard to the mode of burials while the Army occupied Bulgaria, there being no wooden coffin for the corpses, shells constructed of twigs and small branches of trees were used as substitutes and which answered very well.
At this place Monestue we became very much infested with lice, and which we found were impossible to be got rid of, taking possession on the inside seams of our trousers these vermin deposited their eggs and tho' in spite of every contrivance such as lining the seams with soap, brushing etc etc nothing would remove them. The filthy creatures stuck to us as they always do to the wretched Ottomen who seem to be satisfied with them as a natural consequence. Times upon times have I like others from the Generals downwards sat mourning over our circumstances endeavouring to rid myself of these pests, whom yet still could not be induced to quit. The only remedy was to burn our apparel and which at these times we could not well part with as we had none too many.
Our washing of course was done by each Individual himself and many a time have I stood up to my knees in a pond or stream of water cleansing the apparel I usually wore. During our stay here a most ludicrous circumstance occurred to Armstrong the Armourer Sergeant of the Regiment, who for the use of conveyance of his Regimental Tool Boxes was allowed one Bat. horse. These horses in general were uncommonly curious generally doing what was not required of them rather than the duty for which they were intended, which very often the Bat. horsemen found to their great annoyance tho' caused much merriment to the men at large by their tossing their loads etc. etc. Armstrong, who was certainly not the very best jockey in Turkey one evening as usual lead his animal to water or rather, that is, rode upon his back, minus a saddle. On his return to camp and whilst trying a gentle trot preliminary to cantering, which latter suited Armstrong's horsemanship the best, he Armstrong managed by some means or another to swerve on one side overbalancing himself in his equilibrium, and by the time he had again righted himself away went the horse, so to speak, at full gallop, caring evidently very little for the object on his back whose antics bore him out more of a monkey in appearance than a human being. Hard and fast stuck Armstrong nevertheless tho' at times his seat of honour being upon the animal's' neck, then nearer his tail and sometimes neither on the animal's back or anywhere else except in the direction of the earth or sky, so changeable was Armstrong in his performances much to the excessive amusement of pedestrians who happened to be passing that way and who saluted him with roars of laughter mixed now and then with exhortations at the top of their voices to hold on, and go it that he entirely lost all control over the brute creation which was bearing him onwards to his own stabling and which byway led through a narrow and crooked lane up part of which were quietly jaunting alongside each other two sons of the Emerald Isle clothed in Red coats and bearing the facings and number of the 88th Connaught Rangers whom it appears had been watering their Masters' horses and were returning quietly to camp. Unperceived and unheard by them, Armstrong endeavoured to pass, that is to say the horse with Armstrong upon his back, and as there was scarcely room enough for three abreast in an ordinary pace the animal of Armstrong shot between the two, his rider holding on by main force to his flowing mane, the upshot being the capsizing of the two Connaught men into the ditch on the right and left sides of the road, their horses following train after Armstrong's animal's tail to the utter discomfiture of the flocks of geese etc. that had been assembled by the Mess Sergeant at the Officers' Mess, followed as he was by the enraged shipwrecked Irishmen whose horses bolted to their own camp, leaving Armstrong white with fright and exhaustion to settle the difference of damages done to the tempers and bones of the Connaught men, and which I believe he did amicably by an explanation and a quart of wine at the canteen.
Armstrong afterwards used to relate this exploit with great glee tho' he owned that he expected every moment to fall and break his neck.
25 Aug 1854. 250 Arabas were required in Division order to carry the men's knapsacks and 200 to carry the sick, each Araba not to carry more than 6 cwt expecting as we were now to move towards Varna. These Arabas are Turkish waggons rudely made with 4 wheels and drawn by black buffalos whose pace is very tedious. Great inconvenience we experienced in obtaining these numbers and the Turks were obliged to be pressed 'ere they would furnish them tho' well paid for the journey. Some time this month I think it was when a great fire occurred at Varna and altho' we were more than 30 miles distant we distinctly saw the flames.
26 Aug 1854 The 1st Brigade of the Light Division with the 2nd Battalion. Rifles marched from Monestue for Varna whose knapsacks were carried in Arabas and on pack horses. On the next day the 2nd Brigade marched also and encamped at Youksacouly one night.
In General orders of today the 5th Dragoon Guards were attached to the 4th Dragoon Guards owing to the former having suffered severely in officials and men by cholera.
28 Aug 1854 The Brigade marched to Karagul and encamped.
29 Aug 1854 Again moved and arrived in the afternoon at Varna where we encamped.
30 Aug 1854 Embarked with the rest of the Army for the Crimea, the 19th Regiment. in the sailing transport Courier No. 50.
In general orders of this day the 1st Sept. Major General William Codrington is placed on the staff of the Army until Her Majesty's pleasure is known, as a temporary measure and will take command of Br. Genl. Airey's Brigade, Light Division, which was of course the 1st.
On the 5 Sep 1854, the Courier set sail for Baljak Bay where all the fleet and transports were to assemble, and anchored there on the 6th.
By Division orders of today the 5th, and which I took myself, having to go in a boat to the Medusa steam frigate for them, Officers commanding Brigades and Regiments of the Light Division were requested to understand that the several Corps are to land in the order in which they have been placed in Naval Programme viz: -
Reckoning from the right 7th. - 23rd - 33rd -77th - 88th and 19th Regiments, afterwards if thought necessary the Regiments to resume their proper places in their respective Brigades; — any attempt to land otherwise in the 1st instance would only lead to confusion.
The Rifle Brigade which is dispersed in several Artillery transports will probably be marched a little in advance of the boats containing the Corps of Infantry, so as to occupy the beach above the landing.
The flag of the Light Division in sailing order being a chequered one we kept on the left of the fleet in sailing order.
7th Sept. The whole of the Fleet together with the French and Turks sailed from Baljak Bay the two vessels containing the 19th & 88 Regiments towed by H. M. Steam Frigate Fury. - by some means or other the Courier went foul of the Transport with the 88th on board but no damage done.
8th Sept 1854. At sea, nothing of any consequence occurring excepting the issuing of these orders:
Light Division to land first then the 1st Division; the 2nd, the 3rd and lastly the 4th. The 2nd Bt. Rifle Brigade to be attached by Wings to the 1st and 2nd Brigades of Lt. Division and to form the advance - Regiments not to load till landed, and not then without a special order: great silence and steadiness to be observed and the men to take their knapsacks with them but not to put them on without an order. The men to land as they stand in the ranks, and the blankets etc to be left on board.* 3 days provisions to be carried ready cooked by each man and officer.
Regiments on landing will form in contiguous columns at quarter distance.
* The order about knapsacks and blankets was altered — the knapsacks were left on board ticketed and each soldier took a blanket and a slight portion of his kit wrapped in the blanket which were slung on the back.
On the 9th Sep.1854, the fleet anchored tho' we could not perceive the land being rather hazy. At midnight the Transport No 32 ran foul of the Courier damaging the latter a good deal as the wind was blowing fresh, and took some considerable time 'ere both could be separated the rigging having become entangled: morning shewed the havoc done as the Courier had the whole of her upper portion of the poop carried away besides other damages and a boat smashed to atoms. The Transport No 32 lost her Bowsprit and Jib boom and sustained other repairs.
10 Sept A Private 19th died and was thrown overboard. Still at anchor and under orders to land at 4 am on Monday.
11 Sept. Monday sailed again
12 Sep 1854 Land ahead seen, hail stones in the morning but after day fine; orders issued to land.
14th Sept 1854 The Fleet drew up their anchors, and bore landwards drawing their broad sides towards the shore, the French extending to the right and the British the left.
Received orders to land at 8½ a.m. and which was commenced in the boats of the various shipping; the Light Division landing first preceded by the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade on a space of sand that ran along the shore separating the sea from a lake which received the name of Tongle. No enemy appeared at this point to dispute our debarkation. After landing a portion of Artillery the Light Division moved off by fours from the right of companies preceded by the Rifle Brigade in skirmishing order this Corps taking possession of a village some 5 miles or so inward. While marching a little rain fell sufficient to damp our clothes. After a short march the Division halted and forming into contiguous Brigade order at quarter distance by companies bivouacked for the night the tents all being left on board ship. The French who in the meantime had landed formed on the right of the British and as night was approaching picquets were detached to the front and as the remainder of the British Divisions came up formed into their respective positions.
During the night the rain came down pretty smartly and as myself, John Thompson and Nicholas Hopkins had made what we thought a comfortable shelter from quantities of dried grass which we had gathered, we ensconced ourselves thereunder placing over the top my blanket for a roof. Tho' of course we had better shelter than others from our timely exertions in procuring the stubble nevertheless like the remainder were saturated to the skin although not so dirty as they who both men and officers had to sleep on the mud that had been created by the tramp of many feet assisted by the deluge of rain. Poor sorry creatures they did look when daylight broke upon them and many were the long faces that greeted the rising sun.
Orders having been given that the men were to take their knapsacks with them yet as it appeared more advisable not to do but to substitute the blanket in which should be folded one pair of boots, 1 shirt, 1 pair of stockings and 1 towel the blanket and greatcoat were folded separately and slung on the back, leaving the knapsacks on board ship with the greater portion of their kits labelled with the owner's name but which to the utter disgrace of them with whom they were left in charge were found months afterwards to have been ransacked and many articles stolen and in many cases entirely gone.
Having provided myself prior to disembarking with about 3 lbs of tea and 4 or 5 lbs of sugar and which by way of favouritism I had obtained from the steward on board the Courier and having been joined by I. Thompson and N. Hopkins as companions in my mess who between them brought about 14 lbs of rice in a bag, we fared sumptuously every day in comparison to others who had on the 2nd day finished their whole stock of the 3 days cooked provisions. We of course kept our own counsel and managed our affairs admirably and invariably could have tea in a morning so long as our stock lasted.
15 Sept 1854 At daybreak and which always was the case the Army was ready formed under Arms and in reference to this the subjoined Brigade order emanated from General Buller.
to be formed into Brigade every morning at daybreak ready to march; on arrival of the Brigade on the ground for halting for the night, each Battalion of the Brigade will detach 300 yards to the front one Company as an outlying picquet; these companies will send out a sufficient number of sentries to complete the chain of communication of the several picquets and of the Brigade or Troops on either flank. On the day of halt and during the day companies by turns of the Brigade will furnish a day piquet, this picquet will detach sentries to the front and keep up communications with the picquets furnished by other Brigades.
16th Sept. Today for the first time since landing, the tents were pitched having been bought from off board ship temporarily In the evening after dark and at the time of tattoo when many of the men had quietly ensconced themselves comfortably within according as circumstances admitted the cry of "stand to your arms" ran through the various camps with the quietness of electricity proceeding as it did from the outlying picquet of the 19 Foot, all of a moment everything was in confusion for from the darkness of the night added to the uncertainty of the position where the arms were piled owing to the tents having been just pitched which confused the men and the condition in which they were, members having divested themselves not only of accoutrements but coats, trousers and boots rendered the scene not only ludicrous but dangerous, supposing the enemy were approaching but which happily was not the case as shortly afterwards it was ascertain that the alarm was false. How it originated none could tell or at least none came forward whose explanation was satisfactory.
17 Sept. In consequence of last evening's occurrence the following Brigade order to the 2nd Brigade Lt. Division was issued.
When the Brigade is bivouacked without tents, the Battalions will there form as halted as the arms for security and dryness will probably be with the men and not the place of assembly. The position of the front company or pile of arms of each Battalion should be clearly known and marked in order that all the other Companies may know their own situation in Quarter distance columns. No Battalion, or Company or any body of men is to load without the orders of its Commanding Officer. Exceptions to this rule can only be made in the case of sudden attack upon advance sentries but at all times firing at night should be avoided as leading only to confusion, and doing more mischief to friends then enemies. If an officer has reason to think that any enemy may be advancing upon him, he should send back immediate information to the officer on duty, and if suddenly attacked will retire gradually upon the columns, if he has no orders to maintain his post until relieved or reinforced.
During the day sentries should be placed on the tops of rising ground near the Picquets, and during the night on the inner descent as, at that time light may be more easily discerned against the sky.
18 Sep 1854 The tents landed as a temporary measure on the 16th were struck and sent on board ships again on this day. From the day we disembarked until today the 18th there was nothing doing except that of landing troops, artillery, horses and munitions of war. Our friends the French soon began to pillage whatever they could lay their hands upon and without payment too, for on passing through their lines evident traces were discernible from the quantity of offal strewed about such as heads of geese, skins and entrails of sheep, hairs and feet of pigs etc.etc. in quantities and description too numerous to mention. Tho' we were strictly forbidden to take anything except by payment.
In General orders of the day the extra allowance of ½ lb of meat allowed to the men when at Monestue was dicontinued in consequence of the scarcity of live cattle. About the time we were for moving an old man made his appearance with a load of ripe apples drawn by a pair of bullocks on his way to Eupatoria and as carts at this time were very scarce we seized upon him, buried his apples in the ground and quietly ensconced him as driver of his own vehicle until we reached Sebastopol when we let him go.
With the breaking of morning on the 19 Sept 1854 might have been observed to our yet non troublesome enemy the whole of the British and French Army formed up in the order of battle, ready at any moment to move but as there appeared no enemy in sight were ordered to pile arms and cook their breakfasts. It will be well to mention, that that the word breakfast was often uttered after the daylight parade, yet as the rations of the men consisted only of 1 lb of salt meat and 1 lb of biscuit breakfast was certainly out of the question, in the sense conveyed to the old and fat homestead epicures of England, who while munching hot toast and muffins overloaded with butter, delighted themselves with following the movements of the Army as described by the none scrupled self designated correspondents of newspapers attached to the Army.
However breakfast or no breakfast I had mine, after nearly burning all the hair off my head together with half frizzling my face even as was always the case at these bivouacks of the absence of fuel and the non appearance of a hedge or tree, or bush or stick, nothing in fact save the long dry grass, which I took up by handfuls placing a heap together and the camp kettle on the top half filled with mud and the remainder half with water I blew away at the fire with my mouth causing every now and then the fire to flare up spontaneously and which almost as soon died away. However after great exertion and much patience I got the kettle boiled and with Thompson and Hopkins sat down to our morning repast on which a sorrying eye cast its reflecting glance and so mournfully depictured. 8 o'clock having arrived, the two Armies began to move or it may have been ½ past 8. The Light Division leading the British advance covered by the 2nd Battalion. Rifle Brigade, the French having the right and the British the left of the Allies.
Last modified 21 May 2002