Letter from an Irish Officer at Balaklava

Letter from an Irish Officer at Balaklava

Southport Visiter

1st Feb 1855

An Irish Officer writes on the 7th

“Our army is melting away like a snow-wreath on a river. The 46th have now but 70 men left. Where is it all to end, I don’t know. The Minie and it alone, has saved us. It is in the mouth of every prisoner,

“We cannot touch you, what is the use of fighting against you? You will kill us before we get to you.”

I don’t mean to say a syllable against the grave and solid Englishmen out there, or against the gallant and steady Scots, but, as, N------ will tell you, for the rush of the battle, for the wild of the struggle, the terrible conflict, the stern murderous charge, there is no one comes out like poor Paddy.

If ever I get the fair fling of the pen, I’ll do them justice as far as I can. They are the only cheerful, jolly soldiers in camp.

When the Guards heard the despatch read about the Crimean medal they said not a word, when the Light Dragoons heard it, they yelled like demons till the drums beat in Sebastopol. Just look at the names of the killed. The Guards fought with strength and majesty indeed, but they retired, twenty to one down on them at Inkermann, but the 77th and 30th, though broken in two, never turned their backs, and retook the guns, which “others” had abandoned, and long ere the Guards charged at Alma, the Light Division had driven the majority of the Russian guns and other defenders up the hill.

As to English and Scotch officers, no words can do them justice whatever regiment they command. Sir Thomas TOWBRIDGE is the grandest soldier in the world, I think, and no one can excel old GORDON, of the Royal Engineers.

I’m getting diffusive, but with the sentinel’s cries of, “Nomber sivin all’s will,” in my ears, I cannot but tell of two stories which amused me and are quite true.

The day before Inkermann a naval officer was with poor CONOLLY of the 30th, and left some things in his tent. On the 6th he went to claim them, and found a serjeant of the 30th cleaning his Minie near the place where the tent once stood, and the following dialogue took place, the serjeant all the time oiling his lock and barrel, and scarcely looking up.

“Can you tell me where Capt CONOLLY is?”

“Begora, I can’t say for surtin sir, but I think he’s in hiven. We borried his corpse today, anyhow, for he was kilt yesterday.”

“Good God!” after a pause, “Do you think I could find some things I left in his tent the night before last?”

“Well, railly, Sir, I think not, for the tent was knocked into babby rags by a shill.”

“Where is his servant?”

“Is it his soger servint, CASSIDY, a red-headed man, Sir?” “I don’t know where he is Sir.”

“Is he killed?”

“Well, indid, I can’t say Sir, but he’s missing.”

“Where do you think he is, a prisoner?”

“Well Sir, it’s hard to say, he went off in purshoot of the Roosians yesterday.”

“And where do you think he is now?”

“Begorra, Sir, I think he’s in purshoot of them yit.”

The other is, I can’t tell it at length, of an officer who saw four fellows going to bury a Russian. As the body passed it groaned, and the officer abused the men for their atrocity.

One of the fellows looked up and said, very coolly,

“Why, Sir, DEMPSEY and I consulted over him, and we agreed it was a hopeless case.!”


Copyright 2002 / To date