British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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Voice from the Ranks: preface

Sergeant Timothy Gowing, Royal Fusiliers

Taken from Timothy Gowing's Voice from the Ranks: a personal narrative of the Crimean Campaign (Nottingham: 1895). This document has been copied from its primary location on The Victorian Web.

Some may regard this work as of a very mixed character, nevertheless I am in hopes that it will both interest and entertain. And here I must beg my readers to remember that the book is submitted to their judgement as a record of facts, and not as an attempt at fine writing; I have confined myself strictly to a narrative of facts, whether the incidents related came under my own observation or otherwise.

I took part in some of the most desperate scenes in the Crimea - at the Alma I was one of those who led the way up the fatal Heights; at Inkerman I was in the thick of the fight and was wounded. I was beside that Christian hero Captain Hedley Vicars when he fell in his country's cause with the words on his lips, 'For England's home and glory, follow me!'.

I was also engaged in those memorable struggles that were carried on night after night, and day after day, before Sevastopol, and was wounded a second time in that bloody attack on Redan in which a Norfolk man - the late General (then Colonel) Windham - gained an immortal name. In giving my experiences during that campaign I may in some respects be repeating an 'oft-told-tale', yet, as a personal narrative, it will, I think, be new to many and will afford information not elsewhere to be found.

The letters to my parents from the seat of war in the Crimea I have ventured to publish, trusting they will prove of more than passing interest and set more than one thinking, 'Where is my boy tonight?' Many of them were written under great difficulty in a bleak tent or hut with the thermometer far below freezing point, with my wet rags frozen on my back; often my overcoat stiff with frost.

With confidence I now submit my work to my fellow-countrymen, trusting that none will criticise too harshly the humble literary efforts of one who has tried to do his duty upon many a hard-fought field, and who is ready to do it again rather than see that flag we love so well trampled in the dust.

T. Gowing
late Sergeant-Major, Royal Fusiliers

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