Drake Letters Index 54. Drake to Louisa 1 February 1855 ◄ ● ► 56. Drake to Louisa 8 February 1855
The Drake Letters
William Henry Drake (Balaklava) №45 - Louisa Drake (London), 5 February 1855
№ 45 Balaklava 5th Feby 1855 1
My dear Lu,
        Notwithstanding our expectations & the presence of the Grand Dukes Michael 2 & Constantine 3 the Russians have made no general attack – Several Strong Sorties have been made but with no success or result a few lives lost on both sides – Our weather continues very fine, Cold & frosty but dry & the Soldiers are improving in health, Rations are plentiful & regular, Guns are still being daily placed in position of large size & I think it may be said our Army is better than it was this time last month – The 71st 4 from Corfu arrived yesterday. Huts are being carried to the front & erected, Each Division has its Hospital Huts, which is a great Step – Our great trouble is Hay none has arrived from England since the 30th of November, we scrape up what we can in Turkey Bulgaria & elsewhere & Chopped Straw but it only carries us on badly – Pressed Hay is required for carrying to the Divisions in Front
The French are even worse off as to Forage having been without for a week – We have had large issues of Vegetables to make gratuitously to the Troops & I am just becoming a very respectable greengrocer Lundy as my apprentice   I have suggested to Mr. Filder the embodiment of a blue apron 5 in the new uniform. After I give a Soldier an Order for a bag of “praties” 6 & a few onions I have to turn to & sign certificates for Vessels covering many thousands of Pounds   never mind, let us sing out for Peace & then there is an end of all such pleasures – Chacun pour Soi 7 – I have got all I can from the War & of course shall be glad to see it finished and get the charge of a quiet Station there to live respectably!! I was really rejoiced to find the probability of it at last admitted   As to our taking Sevastopol we may take the Southern part of the City any day at a certain sacrifice of men but that does not give the North or as far as I can understand it the Command of the Ships of War now close up under the North Forts – and consequently it is yet an open question if we can hold it & these lines also – The Railway people are hard at work widening a road on which their tramway is to go – for after all it is only a tramway carriages drawn by horses no Steam power to be used at all
Lord Raglan has been very active actually looking at each Division they say – A large body some 3000 of the French Imperial Guard have landed they are said to be a fine body of men   all new comers of ours look so nastily clean   They make our old fellows look more beastly than before, they certainly are rather a dirty grubby set as little like Soldiers as it is possible to imagine – The Guards especially seem to delight in looking dirty   The Officers are not much cleaner than the men – Webb has just been here & desires his remembrances
James’ brother in law Mr. Seivright [sic] 8 I have seen two or three times   He seems a quiet gentlemanly person   Paymasters are generally living at Balaklava not being very useful in the front – It has turned out quite warm this afternoon, Somebody has counted the people coming to me on business since I began this they were 62! so no wonder if it is a wretched Disconnected Scrawl. I am very glad to hear the C.G. 9 is getting rid of his gout & is able to move about out of the house again that is the thing wanting always. Change of Scene & employment – I have no want of the latter though the other is rather Scant – Mr. Smith 10 at Pera continues very ill & will probably go to England or perhaps to Malta   A.C.G. Watt 11 goes to Malta he wishes to stay there   Give my best love to all & with plenty of Kisses believe me ever
Your affectionate Hub
W. H. Drake

1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
2. Grand Duke Michael (1832-1909), the fourth son of Tsar Nicholas I.
3. Grand Duke Constantine (1827-1892), the second son of Tsar Nicholas I.
4. The 71st Highland Regiment of Foot.
5. In December 1854, The Preston Guardian wrote of the “blue apron and well worn jacket of the humbler class of greengrocer and butcher, and the white apron and grey jacket of their compeers, the cheesemonger and chandler’s shop keeper.” [“METROPOLITAN MEMORANDA.” Preston Guardian etc [Preston, England] 9 December 1854: n.p. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 17 July 2013.]
6. Pratie, praty: A potato. [E. Partridge, A Dictionary of Historical Slang, (Harmondsworth, 1972), p. 721.]
7. Chacun pour soi: everybody for themselves. [The Collins paperback French dictionary: French-English English-French, (London, 1988), pp. 62, 285, 343.]
8. Paymaster Andrew Sievwright served with the 9th (The East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot.
9. Henry’s father, retired CG John Drake.
10. DCG John William Smith.
11. ACG Fitzjames Edward Watt.

Drake Letters Index 54. Drake to Louisa 1 February 1855 ◄ ● ► 56. Drake to Louisa 8 February 1855