A letter home from a youth of 18, on HMS Magicienne

Southport Visiter

The crew in the Baltic

A letter home from a youth of 18, one of many volunteers who joined the fleet on the commencement of the war:-

“HMS Magicienne, off Copenhagen, April 7th 1854.

Dear parents,

I well know the joy that will arise at the receipt of this. I am quite well, and in good cheer, anxiously looking forward to next Thursday on that day, ‘tis said, the fleet shall proceed and endeavour to take some islands.

We joined the Baltic Fleet after suffering from the cold and some squalls. But, father, even a coward’s heart would gain courage by beholding the many large and beautiful ships anchored her –

Duke of Wellington, Neptune, Royal George, Jean D’Acre, La Hogue, etc upwards of 15, all splendid ones.

To quote what Sir Charles Napier said the other day, “War, boys, war is proclaimed by England, and if Russia does not come out we must only go in and drag them out!” ‘Slice the main brace,” that is double the allowance of grog – three cheers.

I hope my mother is not uneasy, for I am as happy here as pelting snowballs in the H. F. H, yard.

This is no place for Joe, as the snow and hail often makes us blow our fingers, but perhaps the blazing away of ours guns will warm the air. I have now a rifle, bayonet and cutlass.

I am in the 2nd division of boarders, and also belong to a storming party, so if anything is doing I shall have my part of it.

We expect fine weather shortly – the sooner it comes the sooner comes the struggle.

Everything is prepared, everything to defeat the many plans of ‘Jack Roosh’ as he is styled by the tars. It is said they are sinking rocks, but we have buoys to place there to show all who come after us where they are.

A nice job to place them, under the fire of the batteries. But we all won’t be killed – some will escape, and perhaps I shall be one, and if not, why, father, you may safely say I died endeavouring to do my duty, I am quite reconciled myself on either side, to gain or die.

It is my first trial, but I shall put forth all my courage and calmness, and when I am leaping down mid heaps of pointed spikes and cutlasses.

May God’s blessings and yours protect me.

When I join my hands in prayer, often do I imagine that you are also at that moment praying for me.

May God hear our prayers.


Copyright 2002 / To date