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CHAPTER XXIV.-ASSAULT OF THE MAMMELON AND QUARRIES.
Notwithstanding the extent of our force, great part of which was necessarily idle, our strategical operations seemed to be limited to the expedition to Kertsch, as the preparations for a renewal of the cannonade on Sebastopol, to be followed by an assault, were actively continued. We erected new batteries, accumulated great stores of ammunition, and augmented the number of mortars in the trenches. On the 6th June, at three o'clock in the afternoon, the batteries opened, and after a short space the Russians replied with a fire heavier than in former attacks, but by no means so well directed, owing, perhaps, to the want of reinforcements of good artillerymen. All that after noon and all night our fire continued, and the next morning that of the Russians, which had begun so spiritedly, was much subdued. The Mammelon, which on the previous afternoon had fired salvos, was reduced to two or three guns, and its parapets, as well as those of the Redan, and the face of the Malakoff looking towards our batteries, were little more than a shapeless heap of earth, testifying to the excellence of our artillery fire, which was probably unequalled for precision and effect. The practice of our mortars was admirable-scarcely the smallest interval elapsed without a huge shell bursting in the midst of the Mammelon, and the loss of its garrison must have been very severe-of which, indeed, we shortly had proof.
It had been arranged, before open ing the fire, that on the second day an assault should be made; by the French on the Mammelon and the smaller works towards Careening Bay-by us on a work known as the Quarries, in front of the Redan. Up to our last cannonade the ground there had been occupied merely by heaps of loose stones and rubbish, where marksmen were posted; but since then the enemy had thrown up an intrenchment surrounding the Redan at about four hundred yards in front of it, and had filled it with riflemen- and it was this work which, though quite regular in form,
retained the old name of the Quarries. As soon as the French had secured the Mammelon we were to attack this point, and establish ourselves; but our attack was for the present to terminate with the success of this operation, because the Redan, if carried, would be untenable so long as the Russians retained possession of the Malakoff. The time chosen was half-past six in the evening, and for this reason, that as men advance with much more spirit and confidence when they see what is before them than in night-attacks, the assailants would have day light enough to secure possession of the work, while darkness would descend in time to enable them to throw up the necessary cover against the fire which the Malakoff (looking on the rear of the Mammelon) would otherwise pour in so hotly as, perhaps, to render the occupation of it difficult and attended with heavy loss.
At half-past five the French columns of attack were formed at the mouth of the ravine which divides the English right from the left of the French at Inkermann, and to each battalion General Bosquet addressed a few words of encouragement, to which they responded with cheers, and straightway plunged, in rather more tumultuous array than English discipline permits, into the ravine. A most conspicuous personage was a vivandiere, who, well mounted, and wearing a white hat and feather, rode at the head of the column with a little keg slung at her saddle. First went the Algerine Zouaves, tall, lithe, swarthy, and with African features; next the French Zouaves, who, having obtained precedence over the Green Chasseurs, greeted these latter braves as they passed them with screams, howls, and derisive expressions, which were received in silence by the Chasseurs, who followed next, attended by their vivandière, a very pretty and smartlydressed girl, who seemed to possess great control over her feelings; for, whereas a woman can scarcely be expected to see with indifference even
a single lover going to battle, this young lady beheld with equanimity a whole regiment of admirers advancing to deadly conflict. Several regiments of the line followed, and the whole array swept down the ravine to the trenches.
The English light and second divisions were destined to attack the Quarries. Two bodies, each of two hundred men, issuing from the foremost trench of our right attack, were to turn the extremities of the work, drive out the occupants, and, advancing towards the Redan, and lying down there, keep up a fire to cover the operations of eight hundred workmen, who, with pickaxe and shovel, were to throw up a parapet towards the enemy. Besides the guards of the trenches, other detachments were to remain at convenient points, ready to support them against all attempts of the enemy.
By some means the news had got abroad that an assault was to be made, and crowds assembled at different commanding points before the camps. As the hour approached, and the number of the spectators augmented, the greatest excitement prevailed. We could see the French lining their trenches, and the English filing into theirs. The fire from our batteries was hotter than ever, and shells were showered more thickly into the devoted Mammelon. At length three rockets were fired from the Victoria redoubt, which General Pelissier had just entered, and every glass was turned towards the French trenches, from which the assailants were seen to issue and swarm up the slope. Led by one man, who kept considerably in advance of the rest, they passed the line of intrenchment which the enemy had drawn round the front of the work, and in a few minutes were seen at the edge of the ditch, firing into the embrasures. Presently some climbed the parapet - large columns pressed in at the left and, almost without a struggle, the Russians hurried off towards the Malakoff, while the tricolor was hoisted in the captured work. The smaller works towards Careening Bay had been simultaneously assaulted, though the conflict there was disregarded in the absorbing interest of the attack on the Mammelon,
and they also were carried after a short struggle; but the one nearest the sea, being exposed to the fire of batteries on the north side of the harbour, was found too hot to remain in, and the French quitted it,
Possession of the Mammelon being obtained, it was necessary to cover the operations of the workmen by a further advance, and the foremost assailants dashed out in pursuit of the Russians who made for the Malakoff. Flushed with their casy success, the French did not content themselves with a demonstration against this formidable work, but actually assailed it. It immediately became a hornet's nest-every gun opened-its parapets sparkled with musketry - and the garrison of the Redan, not yet assailed by the English, were seen leaving their post, probably to succour the Malakoff.
The French pressed on gallantly till stopped by a belt of abattis-an obstacle composed of trees with the branches pointed and sharp stakes. A few men penetrated through this, and, advancing to the edge of the ditch, fired on the defenders. At this time the Malakoff became wrapt in smoke, which, drifting across the scene, dimmed the view of the struggle. The guns fired wildly; shells exploded in all parts of the ground, and shot came bounding up among the spectators, one of which, later in the evening, killed an unfortunate civilian who was looking on. After the lapse of about a quarter of an hour, during which the French, unable to penetrate into the Malakoff, gallantly held their ground on the slope before it, the Russians, reinforced by several battalions, drove them back amidst a tremendous uproar of musketry and cannon, and they retired into the Mammelon, behind which a considerable body of their comrades were drawn up. Here they made a stand against the enemy, and commenced a struggle which wore an unpromising aspectfor while some of the French supporting force held their ground, others retired to the intrenchment midway down the slope, and began to fire from thence. At length the French gave way, and ran down the face of the hill to their own trenches, where their reserves were drawn up. Upon
these they rallied, and, after a breathing space, were again led to the assault, and successfully. Again they rushed into the Mammelon, drove out its defenders, and pursued them to the Malakoff, around which their musketry continued to crackle long after dark ness set in, while their comrades intrenched themselves in the Mammelon, which was found strewn with dead from the effect of our shells.
Meantime our men, issuing from their trenches, had entered the Quarries, which they found unoccupied, and advanced towards the Redan to cover the operations of the working party. Their movements were not so plainly visible from the rear as those of the French, owing partly to the nature of the ground, partly to the dense smoke which overhung the scene; but Lord Raglan, who remained at a point about half-way between the ridge before our camps and the batteries of our left attack, received occasional notices of the state of affairs. Some of our men had entered the Redan and found it empty, the garrison having, as before said, probably gone to reinforce the Malakoff; but they speedily returned in force, and our reserves advanced to support the assailants. When darkness set in, the line of musketry marked the disputed points, but the artillery fire had almost ceased, except from our mortars, which threw shells into the Redan and Malakoff. The latter work seemed to be still assailed by the French; the former was silent. All was darkness, except where the sparks of musketry were scattered as from a forge-then, with a flash and roar, a shell would climb the sky, passing the ridge of clouds lying on the horizon, mingling confusedly amid the stars, and then rotating downwards, when, as it disappeared behind the parapet aimed at, for a moment all was dark, till the explosion lit up the work, making it stand out in transient red relief from the surrounding blackness; or a shell from a gun would traverse the ground at a low angle, the burning fuse rising and falling in graceful curves as it bounded on, till its course ended in a burst of flame. Sometimes a bugle sounded shrilly in the still night-once
or twice there was a cheer-and these sounds and the rattle of the small arms showed the chief part of the combat, in which so many of our comrades and friends were darkly engaged, to be in the ravine of the Woronzoff road. Sometimes the sound of strife died almost away, and then was renewed with great warmth. These sudden outbursts marked the onsets of the Russians, who made vigorous efforts to retake the work, and even drove our men out of it, but were again repulsed. Towards morning they advanced on our trenches, and penetrated into some of the approaches, but were driven back with loss.
The next morning the Russian works, beaten into uneven heaps, were almost silent, firing only an occasional shot. The French had intrenched themselves in the Mammelon, and had placed some small mortars there, while we had made good our footing in the Quarries. Both the English divisions had suffered severely; in the second, the report up to ten o'clock in the morning showed 50 killed and 270 wounded; while, in the light, the 7th and 88th had suffered severely. In the afternoon several Russian mortars were directed on the Mammelon, and must have caused loss to the French in it.
Before and during the assault no feint or demonstration was made at any other point of the line to mislead or distract the enemy, who took advantage of the directness of the attack to collect their troops in the Malakoff in sufficient numbers to drive back the French, as before described, from that work, and even temporarily to retake the Mammelon. Our allies attacked with great gallantry, and the Russians, taken as they were by surprise, and having already suffered much from our heavy fire, showed more stubbornness in the defence than was generally anticipated. Next day the expectation was very strong, in the English camp, that the attack was to be renewed in the course of the day, and that this time the whole south side would be ours, but the sun went down without any preparations for a second assault.
TWO YEARS OF THE CONDEMNED CABINET.
THE House of Commons has grown accustomed of late to strange sights. The Parliamentary history of the last two years is without a parallel in our annals. As a consequence of the recent revelations of Ministerial duplicity, faith in our public men is vanishing; and the National Representatives, foiled and duped by the Executive, have become skeptical and apathetic, and view each new turn in the Parliamentary drama with sarcasm or levity. The fall of a Ministry, the vapid effrontery of a Premier, or the inane termination of a six nights' debate, is alike received with laughter; and the majority of the House now seem to regard their lengthy debates
as mere fencing matches, wherein they who make the cleverest feints are to be the most applauded. Earnestness is disappearing, and an idle mocking spirit is taking its place. Athens of old once witnessed a similar scene. Themis tocles, Pisistratus, Pericles-the master-spirits of their nation-the Cromwells, Chathams, and Pitts of the Athenian state, had passed away; and in their room had arisen a race of elever talkers,-men who prided themselves on their ability to prove right wrong and wrong right by turns, as best suited their interests, who sneered at honesty when it gave an advantage to an adversary, and worshipped falsehood as a means to outwit, and whose sole study it was to find how they could best blindfold and lead the public into their plans. These things were not done in a corner, but in the forum and the market-place. It was the affairs of the state that the Sophists made the subject of their game; and all Athens, looking on, grew faithless, callous, mocking. Athens in those days laughed at its leaders, laughed at itself, laughed at its gods. The people, a mere handful, laughed with their betters, and the disease deepened into death. The British nation, thank God, are neither fickle nor few,-they can neither be corrupted nor coerced by example; and unlike the sparkling boasters of the city of Pallas, the
sight of Ministerial shamelessness and duplicity only arouses them to earnestness and indignation. The country is at war, and has no need of enemies at home; and the political leaders who have at length unmasked themselves as renegades to patriotism and to their pledges, must henceforth be notably branded as if on their foreheads, and banished from the offended presence of the nation.
"Our constitutional government,” said the Prince-Consort lately, "is now undergoing a heavy trial.” The words were true; but whence has arisen the main source of that discredit which is now attaching itself to institutions around which the heart of the nation has so often rallied,—
institutions not more venerable for their antiquity than they are cherished for their consonance with the national feelings? We have already indicated the cause. The Constitution is weakened, because the statesmen who of late have held the chief places have shown how well falsehood to the country can lurk within its precincts, and under the very shadow of the Throne. It is not that there has been official mismanagement: it is not that millions of money have been wasted, or-what touches the heart of the nation far more-that thousands of our gallant soldiers, men whom twice their number would hardly face in the field, have been doomed by Ministerial neglect to inglorious death. It is because that neglect itself was but a symptom of still deeper guilt. Ministers did not prepare to assail Russia because they did not wish to assail her, did not support our gallant army in the East, because they were ever striving secretly to patch up an unsafe and discreditable peace at Vienna. It is because the suspicions of the nation, ebbing and flowing for the last two years, have now culminated in a dread certainty; and be cause, by an éclaircissement forced upon the ex-Ministers, it is now known that these men-calling themselves "Peelites,"-have from first to last been playing us false. They have been false
to the country, and false to their own words. Their policy has been Russian, and their speeches prevarications. Hence the distrust and apathy of Parliament. It has felt itself befooled and blinded every time it attempted to obtain explanations. It struggled in vain with a jesuitry that was too strong for it, because the Legislature, split up, debauched and emasculated by Coalition tacties, had no longer any faith in itself, and no courage to call its suspected leaders to account. And, thus at its wits' end, it has of late taken to mere talking and farniente: it makes long speeches in its sleep. And yet it will rise up again, we feel assured, even as it awoke suddenly from its torpor five months ago; and the old British spirit will flash out steadily in opposition to all Peelite cant and Russianism, and in support of any Ministry that will heart and soul support the honour and interests of our country. We have no desire that the Legislature should usurp the powers of the Executive; but the truth cannot be too vividly impressed on the public mind that the remedy for our present embarrassments is not more confidence on the part of Parliament, but more straightforwardness in our Ministers.
proficients; and on Lord Palmerston, thus invoked, stating (what his ques tioners knew full well) that the Vienna Conferences were not concluded, Mr. Gibson was prevailed upon to withdraw his motion. The collusion was transparent, and the House by murmurs testified its indignation. The Conservative leader did more. Apprised of the secret treachery at work, and the contemplated acceptance of the Austrian proposals by the Government, Mr. Disraeli resolved to bring matters to a crisis by moving a vote of want of confidence in the Ministry. The Premier instantly took the alarm. No subterfuge or jocularity, he knew, could rid him of this motion. A meeting of the Ministerialists was accordingly summoned, at which the Premier found that nothing would do but either to resign or adopt a more resolute policy. Here the split with the Peelites began. The tremendous castigation bestowed by Mr. Disraeli upon Lord John Russell for his blunders and inadequate proposals at Vienna, and the cheers with which it was received by the House, gave fresh proof to the "peace" party in the Cabinet that their game was up. Their speeches grew more warlike, and the breach with their late The House of Commons will not colleagues was completed. Then at soon forget the week in which the length up rose Mr. Gladstone, Mr. long-latent Russianism of the ex- Sidney Herbert, Sir James Graham, Ministers was openly divulged. There and the Duke of Newcastle in the had been rumours of another Austrian Lords, to unbosom themselves of that proposition, which a majority in the tenderness for Russia which they had Cabinet was disposed to accept; and on so long and too well concealed when a day immediately previous the Peelite in office. The House sat silent as the chiefs, invited by the Premier, had ex-Ministers gave damning proofs of dined with their quondam colleagues their former duplicity. The country, at the Royal table. On Monday came less used to such scenes, less in the on Mr. Milner Gibson's "peace mo- secret, and unwilling to the last to tion. It was disagreeable to the Minis- believe so much evil of statesmen try, as exciting discussion and sug- whom they had trusted, broke into gesting explanations;-it was not less vehement and indignant denunciaso to the Peelites, who were unwilling tion when the hateful truth was to publish their Russian leanings when forced upon them; and the Press, everything seemed so near a final settle- unanimous for once, opened its many ment, and when peace, they thought, voices to upbraid. The worst charges would have to be accepted by Par- against the Aberdeen Cabinet were liament and the country as a fait now justified,-suspicions, apparently accompli. Therefore a mock scene the most improbable, were now seen of question and answer was got up to have been truth. A mist rolled between Messrs. Herbert and Glad- away from before the eyes of the stone and the Premier, conducted nation, and a horrid light broke over with that sanctimonious jesuitry the events of the last two years. We in which the former gentlemen are had, then, been duped after all!