British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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The Siege of Balaclava

Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Sterling, Highland Division

This document has been shared, most graciously, with the Victorian Web by David Stewart of Hillsdale College, Michigan; it has been taken from the College's website. Copyright, of course, remains with Dr Stewart. This document has been taken from its primary location on The Victorian Web

Balaclava, 10 January 1855

Yesterday I was obliged to go on duty to the Light Division. The ground was covered with melting snow, regular slush, with hard-frozen ground underneath; so that riding was a ticklish matter. I found sad misery among the men; they have next to no fuel, almost all the roots, even of the brushwood, being exhausted. They are entitled to rations of charcoal; but they have no means of drawing it, and their numbers are so reduced, that they cannot spare men enough to bring it from Balaclava. The consequence is, they cannot dry their stockings or shoes; they come in from the trenches with frost-bitten toes, swelled feet, chilblains, etc.; their shoes freeze, and they cannot put them on. Those who still, in spite of this misery, continue to do their duty, often go into the trenches without shoes or they cut away the heels to get them on. I heard of men on their knees crying with pain. Of course there are men, and plenty of them, who will never give in, but rather die on the spot for England and duty... Many of the frost-bitten men will lose their feet; the army is cruelly weakened. The French suffer little of all this: for they have plenty of organised transport.

A. Sterling. Highland Brigade in the Crimea (1895), p. 150.

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