Drake Letters Index 37. Drake to Louisa 13 December 1854 ◄ ● ► 39. Drake to Louisa 22 December 1854
The Drake Letters
William Henry Drake (Balaklava) № 29 - Louisa Drake (London), 18 December 1854
№ 29 Balaklava 18 Decr. 54 1
My dear Lu,
        Nothing in the Public line has happened since my last   Our roads become worse   More horses & mules died & then Ld. Raglan ordered the Cavalry to furnish us with 500 horses daily these 500 carry 240 bags bread 240 privates to lead them & the rest Officers & Non Coms.
I sent you Treasury Bill for £100 in my last of which I now send the 2nd   for myself I have been rather seedy & rheumatic but not ill or laid up as most people are I have kept my legs, & done my work.   The 16th I completed 9 years as an A.C.G. & the evening before or rather in the very early morning of the 16 had a Singular piece of luck it was this; I dined with a large party on board a large Steamer some 20 people besides the Officers of the Ship   After dinner they commenced playing Rouge & Noir 2 as you know I never do play these games in fact I don’t understand R. & Noir so I sat chatting & otherwise amused myself – this went on for a long time when a Light Dragoon who was dealing offered a bet on some part of the Game of 50 to 1 in Sovs. all laughed at him & said the odds were much more. he turned to me, (I was standing near) & said Drake what odds will you take? I said what will you give – he said 55 to 1. I sd. very well – he evidently saw he had caught a tiger; post the Cash Said he – I laid £1 on the table & he made great show & laughed much at me as he put 55 Sovs. on it, all laughed at my throwing away a Sovereign but lo! the thing turned out for me & I won the bet & coolly pocketed his Cash – He is a Dragoon with 10 or 12000 a year so I did not pity him – After this we supped & then had some singing   I put my Pea Coat 3 on & was quietly retiring, but some of the Cardplayers were making what they called a Sweepstakes – we call it fright of 5 Sovs. each & they halloo’d at me to give up my odd £5 for the purpose, I did on condition that my Friend the Dragoon drew for me as I was going to bed & I slipped off plus £50 but what was my astonishment next morning while at breakfast to see the Capt. of the Steamer come in & lay on the table £65 I having won or rather the Dragoon for me – only think £115 – which I litterally [sic] have at this moment – if I were a young fellow this wd. make a gambler of me for life but all I can say is I don’t regret it I am not likely to be injured by it, I do not send it home as my Lords wd. think me too rich if I took a Ty. Bill & I cannot get another I like, after the end of the month I shall be able to get some Navy Pay Bills – I intend to appropriate £100 to buy Silver to replace!!! what we sold at St John 4 & a Silver Breakfast & Tea Set for you when we go to a decent Station, as D.C.G. in Charge, do you agree to this – one does not often catch a Dragoon asleep. –
The 89 & 17 Regt. 5 have arrived with some Artillery – today being St Nicholas’ Day an attack was anticipated but as yet none has been made, we made great preparation for it – The French have an addition of 10000 men & some 15000 Turks & some say Omer Pacha 6 are landed at Eupatoria & are to be reinforced to 28 or 30,000. Seven of our large Steamers are employed in taking them there from Varna
Surely all these troops must do something I hope so at all events for all are tired of doing nothing here but getting sick. We are a queer looking set I have not touched a razor for above a month & have a great mind not to until you see what a beauty your old Hub is with a long red beard & moustache – the most ridiculous thing is to see so many officers with very grey [written across the page] Whiskers & beards who hitherto have them of glossy black, but no doubt this is the effect of Climate
Today the weather is beautiful, a bright sun clean air & healthy but our roads are as muddy as they can be nearly Knee deep
With best love & kisses to all believe me

Your ever affectionate Hub
W. H. Drake

1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
2. Rouge et noit: (Literally, red and black). A game at cards in which persons play against the owner of the table or banker – so called because the table is divided into small compartments coloured red and black. [The household dictionary of the English language, p. 652.]
3. Pea-jacket: A thick woollen jacket worn by seamen, &c. [The household dictionary of the English language, p. 532.]
4. St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Henry and Louisa had been stationed at St. John from 1850 to 1854.
5. 17th Leicestershire Regiment of Foot.
6. Omar Pasha, born Michael Lattas, supreme commander of the Turkish army.

Drake Letters Index 37. Drake to Louisa 13 December 1854 ◄ ● ► 39. Drake to Louisa 22 December 1854