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.

21 Sep 1855   By a General order of this day we were gratified with the news that Field allowance of 6d per day was granted to all Non Comd Officers and Privates in the British Army when engaged in active operations from 1st July 1855. Viz: to the Royal Artillery, Royal Sappers & Miners, Cavalry and Infantry of the line. But soldiers in hospital not allowed it. Further that Officers commanding Regiments were empowered to stop it for 7 days for a proved case of drunkenness, and soldiers who were unlucky enough to forfeit any portion of his pay either for absence or habitual drunkenness forfeited also their Field allowance for the number of days they so forfeited their pay or portions of pay. And in a subsequent order Comd. Officers could stop the field allowance of any soldier for the period of punishments of any offence.

Tho' this order was cheering yet it only affected them who had the good fortune of retaining their health and had the good luck to escape the enemy's bayonets or missiles, for so long as they were wounded or by reason of hard duty fell sick thereby obliging them to go into hospital to get cured they nevertheless forfeited this allowance. A more flagrant and cruel piece of officialness could not have been concocted; oft have I heard from the lips of the dying men maltreated as they had been in the execution of their duty with the loss of a leg or some lesser fracture grieving over this cruel order which deprived them of the benefit which others were enjoying and which only added another blot to the miserable provisions made by the War Department for the care of the soldiers.

During the remainder of Sept & Oct. up to the 14 Nov 1855, the troops were more particularly engaged in housing themselves and had more leisure on hand tho' discipline was kept up, the enemy in the meantime being very busy in strengthening their position on the opposite side and daily annoying the garrison by shelling.

Of course, now that the Docks, the White buildings, the Government places and several stone casemated fortresses had fallen into the hands of the Allies they determined to have them destroyed rather than they should again be given up on the termination of the War and to effect which they were blown up.

Having seen what I desired the other day of the Karabelnaia, I wished very much to visit the town side which had been opposed to the French left attack, so moving off myself one morning I passed along quietly towards the Redan, intending to pass the Barrack battery thence through the narrow streets that lead the way on to the bridge of boats which crossed the creek or merchant harbour and thence to view what kind of a town Sebastopol had been.

On reaching the gateway that enters into the docks I had to run for shelter from the hissing pieces of a broken shell which had just exploded high in the air and perpendicular with the large doors, a piece of which in descending striking the heavy post with as heavy a thud, Feeling myself not altogether safe just here I hurried on till I reached the bridge over which I crossed and mounting the steep road on the other side found myself in the town where I amused my curiosity for a while   Not wishing to stay long I had not time to notice much but what I did struck me forcibly with the idea of the havoc the bombardment had done.   The streets too the principal of which were becoming or bad become grown over with grass, scarcely a house could be seen but had had some damage more or less done to it and of the majority they were roofless or else so damaged as to be counted as such; going further I walked into what I suppose had been a theatre or some public building built after the Grecian style of architecture whose walls were standing minus a roof or anything else, bearing as it did every appearance of having been gutted by fire.   Having satisfied myself so far I wished to gratify my curiosity further and therefore betook myself to the main street and which led to the batteries that had once defied the French power to take.

Continuing my progress I soon merged on to the Black and Garden batteries and having had a good view of the trenches made by the French and which in my opinion were considerably lower in point of position to the enemy's, I scrambled down the side of the steep declivity into the ravine at the head of the Creek made my way past the Magazines under the Rocks and on to the Woronzoff Road thence to my own camp a little if any the worse for wear for my trip.

15 Nov 1855   A most tremendous explosion occurred this afternoon at the Right Siege Train and at the French Magazine near to it, frightening as it were the very senses out of all in camp and giving rise to no end of conjecture as to what was then happening.

The immediate cause it would seem originated by a mystery and perhaps to the present moment is still so. However be how it may have been its effects were certainly beyond conception for so powerful was the force from the quantity of matter brought in contact with the fatal agent of gunpowder that it not only shook the earth around but rent asunder the boards of the huts recently erected for the soldiers' habitations in the various camps within its scope besides displacing the roofs, snapping asunder tent cords and collapsing the canvas houses to the general consternation of their occupants, in addition to which lifting from the ground high in the air, numbers of live shells and bursting in many pieces killing and wounding those on whom they happened to fall.   Being in my tent at the time I was thrown from off my feet and in scrambling out received a sharp rap in the hand from some missile which caused the blood to flow, at the same time no less than 4 or 5 pieces of shell falling close to my tent door one piece of which weighing about 5 lbs fell within a yard of where I was crouched.

To enumerate the various narrow escapes of individuals would be to overtask myself.   One piece of a shell falling through the roof of the Hospital dispensary, another through the tent of the Pay Master while that functionary was at work on pounds, shillings and pence, another through a tent close by the head of a sleeping soldier and another striking the window sash of the Sergeants Mess rendering the whole of the various occupants terrified to such a degree that they bolted as it were for their lives.   Of the accidents that occurred in the addition to the above in the 19th Foot no less than 7 men were wounded and of whom one died.

Luckily the small arm magazine and which stood near to the conflagration escaped by the united efforts of various men with wet blankets, who mounting the top of the Windmill placed the blankets over the woodwork. Fortunately also the greater part of the men of the Corps near to the accident being on fatigue away from the camps saved numbers whom doubtless might have suffered. Of the greatest sufferers, the French were the worst, tho' one Siege Train suffered considerably both in men and property, their camp being almost demolished by fire.

19 Nov 1855   The Commander of the Forces in General orders of today notified to the troops that the flotilla of gunboats in the Sea of Azof destroyed 6 rows of cornstacks two miles long near Gheisk, tho' defended by 3000 Russian troops. In same orders it was also notified that such Non Comd Officers promoted at the Depot without the approval of the Commanding officer of the Service Companies such promotion may be cancelled.   So intolerable had this nuisance and injustice become of men being promoted at the Depots that it was desirable it should be stopped as it often occurred that recruits of only a few months service joined the service companies with the full rank of Corporal and even Serjeant over the heads of old Non Comd. Officers, and in many cases being entirely unfit to hold the rank thrust upon them by the snug berthed Depot commanders and their Adjutants.

On the retirement of General Sir James Simpson the command of the Army devolved upon Lt General Sir W. Codrington and the command of the Light Division being assumed by -----

Omitting at a previous stage of my diary to give an illustration of French justice, owing to particularly not knowing the date of the circumstance, I will here refer to it, and describe the transaction so far as what myself saw.

On the afternoon of a somewhat beautiful day and when nothing of any importance connecting with the Siege was transpiring an ordinary guard to the trenches consisting of a good round number of French troops wended their way from their own lines proceeded by their Drummers and Trumpeters to their position in the French Right attack.   Their line of route lying through the middle ravine brought them to pass close by the camp of the 19th Foot which when they had passed and entered the Ravine was startled by the report of musketry proceeding as it did from the party who on the instant had halted.   Curiosity drawing our attention to the commotion going on among them I among a number hurried into the ravine to learn what had happened and in doing so were met by a number of French soldiers bearing the dying form of an Officer and immediately following in custody of a number of others, a French soldier.

From the facts of the case it appeared that as soon as the party entered the Ravine the soldier in question suddenly stepped out of the ranks and shot his officer through the lungs, whereupon the party halted and seized the culprit.   A few minutes after they had lain the dying officer in one of our hospital tents to where they had carried him he died, after which and when it was ascertained that the officer was dead a few superior French officers consulted together and having decided to execute the Murderer at once, ordered him to be taken back to the party that were still waiting at the mouth of the ravine.   On his arrival there, a few of the men were placed at a particular spot and the culprit made to kneel before them tho' at only a few paces distant when at a given signal each presented his piece and fired completely riddling the body of the man and killing him on the spot. Leaving a few men to gather up the remains of the corpse the party moved on to their destination while the men left for this purpose brought the body into camp and buried him with his face downwards in a hole near to a latrine. From the first to the last of this singular tragedy scarcely an hour elapsed so prompt was the murder committed and as promptly the murderer executed.

6 Dec 1855   By General orders the following were the rations for all Mahometans attached to the Army, Eupatorians or Croats:

1 lb biscuit
5 oz rice per man
and 1 lb of Turkish butter per 30 men, or
1 lb Biscuit - 2 oz rice - 8 oz fresh meat per man, in addition to groceries and vegetables at present issued; and bread when issued to the troops.

On the same day news came of Omar Pasha having with a Turkish force successfully forced the passage of the river Ingour in Asia in face of the Russian troops.

21 Dec 1855   From this day the working pay hitherto granted to parties was discontinued.

Now that winter had finally set in and there being no likelihood of offensive operations in the field till Spring and the army being comfortably housed every preparation for the coming campaigns were vigorously proceeded with throughout the various departments connected with the command while at the same time the Troops were exercised in their different evolutions continual reinforcements in the meanwhile arriving to fill up the gaps among the Corps that had suffered the most.

With regard to our Allies the French who by the by like ourselves had had no less than three successive Commanders, viz: St.Arnaud, Canroberts, and lastly Pellisier, this winter suffered severely from disease and in respect to their wants were badly off, while we as it would be to make up for last season, had sufficient and to spare, deaths being but seldom among us.

Of the Sardinians smart, clean, well dressed and healthy looking men, little or no complaints were heard their little Army being in vigorous circumstances.

Alluding to the winter it would be well to observe that of the two which came upon us while located in the Crimea there were heavier falls of snow during 1855 than in the previous one and in point of temperature much the same as that during 1854, the evil being from want of accommodation, provisions, clothing, transit and of medical stores which had caused such sad havoc among the troops of the British Army during that unfortunate season, aided as the evil was by exposure, hard duty and the ravages of disease.   Tho' the temperature would be about the same there was nevertheless more rain and sleet in the winter of l854 than in the year alluded to and which in our pitiable condition was worse to us than snow, as we never had any means of drying our ragged and mud stained garments except when providence put forth the rays of a warm sun, besides which fuel which we obtained in abundance in 1855 from the town, could not be gathered anywhere in that of the previous winter.

Taking the climate as a rule scarce any difference would be observed to that of a South English one tho' the summer may be of a greater degree of heat, yet not injurious or inconvenient to an Englishman.

With regard to the continuance of hostilities a constant interchange of shot and shell took place between the belligerents, that of the enemy from their entrenched positions on the North side of the harbour as well from the McKenzies heights and that of the Allies from such batteries as were opposed to them until the 2nd of March 1856 when in General after orders the following appeared:

Pending discussions for the establishment of an Armistice by land with the Russian Forces until 31st March there will be no firing on the part of the English Army upon the enemy and on the following day the 3rd March 1856, the line of demarcation was fixed from the line of the Aqueduct running along the left bank of the Tchermaya River, but which on the 15 March 1856, was extended to the left bank of the river itself.

As soon as the above appeared in orders the men of the Armies anxious to have a view of each other were found at the demarcation line and especially when extended to the river, a narrow and fordable piece of water where on the one side stood the Russians while on the other gathered the Allies, curiosity bringing them there of course urged upon them especially the British to extend their veracity by an interchanging of sundry articles such as old pipes, wooden spoons, odd looking religious tokens of saints in brass, usually worn near their skin by a string from the neck, the Russians being of the Greek persuasion and many other frivolous articles too numerous to mention for which the simpleton John Bull would bargain for as they stood on either side the brook, rolling up the price in a ball of mud and jerking it over to the seller, who pocketing the amount saluted the buyer with bono Angleese and a grin, this sort of thing being more less kept up each day till the 6th April 1856 when passes were allowed to the Army to go over to the Russian lines by the Tracktic Bridge and on the 9th of the same month all restriction being removed in the English Army from passing the Tehernaya, subject however to Regimental rules as regards leave from camp.

2 April 1856  The field allowance of 6d a day so liberally allowed from July last, today died a natural death, as it was discontinued from this date.

Of the losses sustained by the Corps 19th Foot to which I had the honour to belong from the time of leaving London on the 23 April 1854 to the 1st April 1856 the following is a correct statement and which when reviewed will show that the Regiment had its share of casualties.

 
Officers
Sergeants
Drummers
Rank & File
Killed
 
1
3
1
69
Wounded Severely
13
11
2
250
Wounded Slightly
7
17
1
207
Died of Wounds
3
3
1
61
Died of Disease
1
8
1
308
Total
25
42
6
895
Grand Total
968 all ranks
Number who suffered amputation 1 Officer, 3 Sergeants and 23 Rank & File
Number of men and officers who landed in the East
57
53
21
1479

=1610

17 April 1856   On this day a general Review of the French and British Armies took place before the Commander of the Russian Forces, General Luders, the French taking the morning part and the British the afternoon of the day.

Now that all restrictions was passed as to soldiers and officers of all Armies crossing the Tchermaya, of that of visiting the Russian camp, thousands awaited the opportunity and not only because of an excursion but also to satisfy their curiosity by inspecting the many and numerous spots of interest.   Being one among the number, I of course must go, and did so in company with I Thompson.

On arriving at the ruins where Fort Nicholos had but recently stood, we hired a boat manned by Russians to take across the harbour to the north side, and which on the way proved to be very leaky.   When we had reached the middle of the water and directly over one of the sunken line of battleships a most disagreeable row took place between several of the Muscovites owing to the sluggardly manner of rowing by one of them, and which, had it not been for Thompson and myself would have ended in the immersion of the culprit whom we protected tho' neither party could understand a word each other said.

Arriving at Fort Catherine we landed and after paying the boatmen for their trouble entered the fortress and viewed its interior the Russians being very affable and kind to us. From the fortress we wended our way to their entrenchments and were hospitably entertained by the Artillery with cold eggs, bacon, bread and liquor in one of their underground barrack rooms, after which were accompanied to a bazaar adjacent by one of them who made himself very agreeable even to a degree beyond our wishes.   After spending a very comfortable day we moved off by the road leading to the end of the Harbour intending to cross the bridge at the foot of the Inkerman heights thence to our own camp and 'ere we had reached the bridge passed through the premises of a small farmer where in the garden were two young Russian females swinging upon a swingswang accompanied by two young men.   We of course joined them and made ourselves very welcome, they in return inviting us to amuse ourselves for a time, but as it appeared that our company was not entirely approved of by the old matron of the house, we of course saluted them and jaunted off to our lines and which we gained by the time darkness had begun to clothe the earth.

Being also anxious to see more, and particularly this time in the direction of McKenzies heights myself and Sergt. Major Campion accompanied with an Italian mounted each a Bat horse and started for the Tracktin bridge, thence to the heights above and after spending a very agreeable day (tho' by the by the rain descended for a time) we returned in the evening much edified having in our trip visited several of their camps and bazaars the latter being pretty well stocked with all kinds of provisions and liquor both malt and spirits.

During the intermediate time of granting an armistice and the evacuation of the Crimea the Allies occupied themselves by getting up horse races and hunting (or rather chasing) the scent of the game being by means of small slips of paper distributed by the game himself to shew what course he had taken when some capital fun was thereby derived to alleviate the nothing to do monopoly.

In winding up the affairs of this long and tedious war we of course must means be degraded by an execution for murder, the culprit being a recently sent out recruit of the 77 Foot who beat out the brains of a poor wounded artillery man. It appeared the Artillery man received a bad wound at the explosion in Nov. at the light Siege Train and was put into one of the hospital huts of the 77th Regiment and at the time of his death was recovering.   In the same hut was also the murderer on hospital books, who having observed the Artillery man to be in possession of a few pennies, seized a bar of iron and in broad day beat out his brains while lying helpless in bed. The murderer it is needless to say was tried and hanged in front of the camp of the Light Division and in presence of the Division.


Victorian Web Overview Political History Crimean War The return home

Last modified 24 May 2002