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Drake Letters Index 73. Hampshire Telegraph 9 June 1855 ◄ ● ► 75. Department Memo 20 June 1855
The Drake Letters
 
The Times (London), 16 June 1855: The Kertch Expedition
THE KERTCH EXPEDITION.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)
 
YENIKALE, SATURDAY MORNING, MAY 26.
 
At 5 o’clock last night Sir Edmund Lyons returned in the Banshee, Lieutenant Reynolds, from a short cruise in the Sea of Azoff, towards Arabat, the Ardent, the Caradoc, and several small steamers returning with them, but the gunboats, the Malacoa, the Vesuvius, &c., still remain in this inland sea, exploring the haunts of the enemy, and destroying and burning their stores, boats, coast stations, and Government establishments. Sir Edmund Lyons returned to the fleet in the evening, and Sir George Brown went on shore, where he has taken up his quarters in a very humble house in Yenikale. It was expected that the Russians might return and attack us in force, and I fear that a portion of the army after its excesses would have been but little fit to repel them. Yenikale was set on fire in two places yesterday, and it required all the exertions of the authorities to prevent the flames spreading and devastating the whole place. The houses are smashed open, the furniture broken to pieces, and “looting” and plundering are the order or the disorder of the day. Two of the 42nd Highlanders, who were in a crowd which was assembled round a house yesterday, were shot in a very extraordinary manner. A French soldier struck at the closed door, to break it with the butt of his musket. The concussion discharged the piece, and the ball killed one of the men on the spot, and wounded the other severely. The quantity of bedding, clothes, looking-glasses, coarse furniture, household chattels, and useful implements of all kinds carried off by the sailors to the ships off Yenikale was enormous, and the work of transfer from the houses to the vessels still continues briskly. The enemy have not been seen in the neighbourhood, and, as the cavalry were left on board ship with a portion of the artillery yesterday, we have no means of making very extended reconnaissances behind us; but, should they come back to Yeniklae, they will find some difficulty in knowing it again. The English have placed sentries over such buildings as they can protect, and the French also have established order to a certain extent among their men; but our soldiers are much more amenable to discipline on such occasions than troops accustomed to African warfare, and familiar with the traditions of conquest. The French have also an old grudge against the Russians, and perhaps feel a more bitter personal animosity against them than we do. Sir George Brown gave orders last night that any person found in the town after dark should be put in the guardhouse, and that any one in the guardhouse in the morning should be flogged. There was, however, an alarm of fire renewed this morning, and some difficulty was experienced in suppressing the flames. Kertch, which we can see in the distance, is described by all our people who marched through it as a beautiful town, full of fine buildings, with clean wide streets, and excellent houses, quays, promenades, and Government institutions – worthy, in fact, of a well-ordered European State. The only injury inflicted on Kertch was the destruction of a large granary by the Russians, and the demolition by fire of a manufactory of rifle balls and munitions of war, belonging to an Englishman, which was found in full play by our troops. The proprietor, as well as two other countrymen of ours, who have been long settled in Kertch, was seized. All the people are still in the town. They were well-dressed and respectable, nor did they differ in appearance from the inhabitants of a Belgian or German town. As our troops marched through the inhabitants came out to look at them and offered them bread and salt, the tokens of submission and friendship. One of our officers who went into a chymist’s [sic] shop and asked for something to drink was agreeably surprised at receiving a bottle of excellent sodawater with a dash of liqueur in it. A great number of vessels fell into our hands here, and all the Government stores and many guns, some of which were found loaded and shotted. The corn which the enemy failed to burn was sprinkled by them with lime and water, to render it unfit for use, and it is feared that the poorer part of the population of Kertch, which is sufficiently numerous, will be reduced to great straits for want of food, as the public granaries are laid waste and ruined. A small force of men has been left to guard it, or rather to protect the inhabitants from marauders of the army. The Austrian Consul, whose flag is flying on the principal quay, has exerted himself to procure protection for life and property. In a strategical point of view it is objected by some that we have relied too much on the ignorance and cowardice of the enemy in leaving such an important position as Kertch open to a sudden assault, the success of which would expose our transports in the absence of the smaller men-of-war to considerable risk and damage. The guns at Paulovskaya, at Ak-Bournon, and in battery at Kertch have not been destroyed – they are spiked, and that is all; but several explosions which took place along the coast last night, and which were at first attributed to an attack by the enemy, may have arisen from their being burst by our men, in order to prevent the enemy making use of them, in case they succeed in again establishing themselves on the coast below us; of course, such a step on their part would lead to the destruction of Kertch, which is now intact. There is a merchant there at present from whom we can get supplies of corn at cost price; but it is likely enough that he will be relieved of it as a spoil of war.

MAY 27, 1 O’CLOCK P.M.
It has since been ascertained that the explosions mentioned there occasioned by the French firing the shells which were left in Paulovskaya Battery, and in the forts about it. The fire in the morning was caused by the destruction of the Russian boat-house and ferry station opposite Yenikale, which was protected by a battery of eight guns. The Snake or Viper destroyed the battery, and cut off a portion of the garrison, but she could not stay to take them prisoners, as her presence was required in the Sea of Azoff. Nearly every light steamer we have, our gunboats, and two French steamers, are now cruising along the Russian coast, and it is probable we shall soon hear of the demolition of the fortress of Arabat. As soon as that has been accomplished the military road along the isthmus may be rendered useless to the Russians by stationing one gunboat at Genitchi and another off Arabat, for the road is too long to be traversed in one day, and any supplies or bodies of men can consequently be very readily intercepted. The importance of our acquisition and of the great blow which has been struck appears more striking every day. It would seem that Russia, aware of her real weakness in these seas, or ignorant of the truth, allowed the most extraordinary statements to go forth respecting the completeness and magnitude of her preparations for defence. It was imagined that the channel was blocked up at Kertch, or below it, and for some time back it was sedulously stated that the passage had been obstructed by sunken ships, heaps of stones, piles of timber, and artificial banks; but our vessels got up easily in 2½ fathoms of water, at the very lowest, along a channel laid down and buoyed by the Spitfire. If any of these obstructions really do exist, they will no doubt be encountered in the old channel, to the eastward and nearer to Taman, which is still marked with Russian buoys. We did not use that channel, but sailed close to the land from Ambalaki to Paulovskaya, and then stood across the entrance to Kertch, and got 4 fathoms to 2½ fathoms of water all the way to Yenikale. There is a pretty strong current running at the rate of about three miles an hour over the flats off the town, and the water is almost as turbid as that of the Thames, and of a more yellow hue, as it rushes from the Sea of Azoff. Two gunboats, carrying 12 small pieces each, are moored off the forts of Yenikale, and there is a floating battery close to them armed with two very heavy guns, the floor being flush with the water, and the guns being quite uncovered. Two barks, armed on the maindeck with guns, and used as transports, are resting on the sand, where they were sucnk by our ships as they attempted to escape to the Sea of Azoff. It is suspected that there were few regular troops in proportion to the numbers in and about Kertch and Yenikale, and that there was a large proportion of invalids, local militiamen, and pensioners among the soldiers, who made such a feeble and inglorious defence. The appearance of our armadea as it approached must have been most formidable. The sky above it was rendered as dark as night with the pall of black smoke which rose from the funnels of the steamers, and the narrow straits must have seemed to the enemy as though they were bridged voer by the great armament which was advancing against them. They might well be excused for thinking we had 40,000 troops on board, and that resistance would be hopeless. A decent force of cavalry landed at Ambalaki would probably have enabled us to boast of several thousand prisoners, for the lfight of the Russians was disorderly, and, for the first time, they were seen to retreat without discipline or creditable steadiness. Their loss could not have been great. One man was found dead in the battery at Yenikale, lying, as he fell, with the match in his hand, close to the gun he was about to fire, and two more Russians were found dead on the beach, but they looked as if they had been killed by the explosion of the magazine. The guns in Yenikale are new and fine. Some of them are mounted on a curious kind of swivel – the platforms are on the American principle. One brass piece, which is lying near the guardhouse, is said to have been taken from the Turks at Sinope. Our shot did comparatively little damage. One of our shells has smashed the carriage of a gun to pieces, and one of our round shot knocked a gun clean over and broke the trunnions, but there is no other actual proof of the severity or accuracy of our fire. The hospital, which is in excellent order, contains sick and wounded soldiers, the former suffering from rheumatism, the latter sent here from Sebastopol. The enemy fired the magazine close at hand without the smallest care for these unfortunate fellows, and every pane of glass in the windows was shattered to pieces by the explosition. The total number o fguns taken at Yenikale is about 25, of which 10 were in battery inside the old Genoese ramparts, four in a detached battery, and 11 lying partially dismounted about the works. As there is a convenient ridge outside the town, the troops will advance their line to-morrow or next day, and they will probably throw up intrenchments, which will be defended by the Turks. The troops are in good health, in spite of the bad water. [“The Kertch Expedition.” Times [London, England] 16 June 1855: 12. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 23 July 2013.]



 
WH Drake Journal
 
May 27. Sunday. Ordered by Sir G. Brown to see French Intendant 1 & arrange matters to prevent soldiers pulling down houses for Fuel. Council of War. Admiral Bruat, Genl. D’Autmar, Sir E. Lyons, Sir G. Brown, Admiral R. [sic] Stewart. 2 I arranged to go to Kertch. Cavalry came up. Lt.-Col. De Salis 3 & 8 Hussars. Bowen’s wedding day. 4
 
May 28. Went on board Spynx [sic]. A.C.G. Cumming, D.A.C.G. Moore & Booth landed at 11½ a.m. Started in the Hope for Kertch, landed there; called on Mr. Platts an Englishman in Russia 13 years. Mrs. P. there 23 years, 8 children. 5 Sister married to Captain Russian Navy. Went over the city. Good wide streets. Market Place etc. looked deserted. On board to dinner after which Mrs. D., 6 Mrs. B., 7 Miss Lu 8 went on shore. Museum etc.
 
May 29. Kertch. Landed. Dockyard, Church, Market. House of Staff Captain. At 5 p.m. started for Enikale [sic], went on shore. Saw Sir G. Brown & Lord Burghersh. 9 Went on board Spynx [sic] Capt. Wilmot. 10
 
May 30. Hope at Enikale [sic]. Landed. Saw Sir G. Brown who ordered me to buy up the flour at Kertch from Mr. Platts & try to get off the grain from there & to give Mr. Platts Sir Geo’s name. Went through the camps, inspected Cattle & sheep. Went on board Spynx [sic].
 
May 31. On board Hope. Prepared to start for Kertch. Lt. Irwin R.N. 11 & Mr. Ashby 12 Paymr., Spynx [sic] came on board. Lord Burghersh 13 came to ask me about lending money to Turkish Pacha. Lord Balfour S.F. Gds. 14 & Mr. Simpson, an artist, 15 came from on board ‘Orient’. Dr. MacAndrew 16 etc. they left. We started for Kertch, tried to arrange about Flour & Corn. Mr. Platts gone to Admiral who had seized his Flour. I could not make out who had taken it. Saw Capt. Loring R.N. 17
 
June 1. At Kertch. Laura’s birthday. 18 On shore. Saw Capt. Loring about things, got Mr. Cleeve’s 19 letter about bags & ship for Grain & Flour. Received some bags & left Mr. Thompson 20 at Kertch to get them filled & search for Grain. Got sufficient firewood for the Troops, raft of good deals. Got adrift. Screw cut one of Spynx’s [sic] Paddlebox boats. Went on board Orient & left 3 boats of Flour with orders to take this in & send the boats back to Kertch as soon as possible. Got some Ice at Kertch out of Governor’s house. Returned to Entikale [sic] at dark.
 
June 2nd. Entikale [sic]. Arranged about Supplies. By order of Sir G. Brown, I advanced £1000 stg. to Reschid Pasha. 21 Louisa 22 sent letter home unsigned to C. A. D. D. 23 Heavy thunder 8 a.m.
 
June 3rd Sunday. Enikale [sic]. Conference of General & Admirals etc. Mr. Corbet to be put under arrest for absenting himself & taking 2 Govt. horses away.
 
June 4. Left Enikale [sic] at 7, at Kertch at 8.15. Landed, arranged with Mr. Thompson about grain for the St. Hilda. Alster [sic] arrived with supplies & letters fr. home & Mr. Filder. Revd. Mr. Watson 24 on shore in the Evening. Booth 25 got a Chair. In the morning I got home.
 
June 5. Kertch. Mr. Whittall 26 from Constantinople brought me a note from Mr. Filder. Lt. Sullivan 27 came on board at about 3 p.m. Got under weigh & went to the Fleet. I went on board Royal Albert & saw Sir Edmund Lyons, Mr. Cleeve, 28 Adml. Stewart etc. Went over Royal Albert, saw the trophies taken from the barge of Prince Gargarin [sic], 29 late Governor of Kertch. Sullivan sent Lu & Lu Junr. some of the things. At night 8 p.m. got to Enikale [sic] & went on shore & on to Spynx [sic].
 

Dainty lace jacket


Dainty lace jacket

A dainty lace coat, said to have been found by Louisa Drake in a deserted Russian palace. 30
(Photos: Megan Stevens.)



 
June 6. Enikale [sic]. On shore. Saw Sir G. Brown, The Admirals & had lunch with them. Markhams mixture!! 31 Plenty of ice.
 
June 7. Enikale [sic]. Ashore. Dined on board the Spynx [sic] with Mr. Ashby, Paymr. who came on board Hope & slept. Gale of Wind from 5 p.m.
 
June 8. Hope at Enicale [sic]. Gale continues. French steamer, English Gunboat, St. Hetton, aground. Brig, one of those taken in the Sea of Azoff, nearly foul of us. Wrote letter to Mr. Petrie 32 on Russian Papers. Sent some with L. 76. Wrote to Mr. Filder about £6000 per Colombo. Gale all day.
 
June 9. Hope at Enicale [sic]. Gale abated but still blowing hard & very rapid current. I went ashore, got wet. At Sir G. Brown’s, a long palaver, the argument as to burning grain at Kertch. Sir G. B. about Lord Raglan’s opinion. Tiff between General & Admiral. Admiral H. Stewart’s good management of it. Sir Thos. Pasley 33 & Lord Clarence Paget, 34 Capt. Spratt of Spitfire, 35 Admiral Bruat, Mons. Julyans decision to save the city if possible but corn must be burnt. Corn men [sp?] a tout prix. 36 Sent Mr. Thompson 37 to Kertch by Banshee with the order. Evening went on board Spynx [sic] & captured barque Cleo. Lt. Foster R.N. Back late at night.
 
June 10. Sunday. Enicale. Under weigh at the Quarantine Station at 1 p.m. Report of Anapa being abandoned.
 
June 11. Hope at Encale [sic]. A.C.G. Cumming 38 & D.A.C.G. Turner 39 & Booth 40 came on board. Troops all on board, except 79th at Quarantine Station. Sir G. Brown ordered me to leave an officer at Encale [sic] & money. Ladies went on shore & saw church & trenches. In the Evening, party went on shore to get papers. Mosquitos. Smith, Foster, Ashby 41 came on board.
 
June 12. Hope Encale [sic]. D.A.C.G. Moore 42 ordered to remain. At 3 we left Encale [sic] for Kertch towing prize Barque. Foster landed at Kertch in the Evening. Russian Uniform etc.
 
June 13. Hope at Kerch [sic]. Fire still raging. Left about 4 p.m. for Balaclava. Passed near the Fleet.
 

Burning of buildings in Kertch

Burning of the Government Buildings at Kertch, by William Simpson.
from Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University
 
http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/eaa/id/1410/rec/1, accessed 27 April 2015.




June 14. Hope. Saw the Empress’ Palace, Oriana & Prince Woronzovs 43 Aloutka, Prince Nariskus &c [sp?] on S. coast of Crimea from Yalta towards Balaclava. Arrived at Balaclava at 4 p.m. Found most of the ships anchored outside. After dinner, landed; saw Mr. Filder, Routh, 44 Carpenter, 45 Osborn, 46 Lundy 47 etc.


Burning of buildings in Kertch

Prince Woronzoff’s Palace near Yalta on the South Coast of the Crimea, 15 June 1855, by William Simpson.
from Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University
 
http://digitalcollections.smu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/eaa/id/1396, accessed 27 April 2015.



 
June 15. Hope. Balaclava Bay. Landed & did business. Wrote letters.

© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Footnotes
 
1. Would this be Monsieur C. Blanchard, Intendant General?
 
2. This would be Admiral H. Stewart.
 
3. Lieutenant Colonel Rodolph de Salis.
 
4. Captain William Henry Bowen, Hope, married Emelia Catherine Anne Dundas on 27 May 1852.
 
5. Joseph Platts, and his wife, Sarah Haines (née Tandy).
 
6. Henry’s wife, Louisa Drake.
 
7. Emelia Catherine Anne Bowen.
 
8. Henry’s daughter, Louisa Maria Drake.
 
9. Francis William Henry Fane, 12th Earl of Westmorland. [Transcribed as Lord Burghearsh.]
 
10. Captain Arthur Parry Eardley-Wilmott, R.N. [Transcribed as Wimot.]
 
11. Lieutenant William F. Irwin, R.N.
 
12. James William Murray Ashby.
 
13. Francis William Henry Fane, 12th Earl of Westmorland.
 
14. I can’t find him.
 
15. William Simpson.
 
16. Dr. William MacAndrew.
 
17. Captain William Loring, R.N.
 
18. Laura Mary Drake 12th birthday. She was born on 1 June 1843.
 
19. Lieutenant Fredereick Cleeve, R.N.
 
20. CC Alfred Robert Thompson.
 
21. Reschid Pasha.
 
22. Henry’s wife, Louisa Drake.
 
23. Henry’s daughter, Charlotte Augusta Dring Drake.
 
24. Rev. Robert Boog Watson.
 
25. DACG Robert Booth.
 
26. Charlton Whittall.
 
27. Lieutenant Thomas Baker Martin Sullivan, R.N.
 
28. Lieutenant Frederick Cleeve, R.N. [Transcribed as Cleever.]
 
29. Prince Grigory Grigorievich Gagarin.
 
30. Described as being made of hand made lace and originally having a pink silk lining, in a letter dated 23 November 1961, to Maud Blain (née Ayliff), by Violet Burgess, granddaughter of Louisa Drake, by her daughter, Laura Mary Good (née Drake).
 
31. Unfortunately I don’t know what Markham’s mixture is.
 
32. DACG Samuel Petrie in London.
 
33. Captain Sir Thomas Sabine Pasley. [Transcribed as Sir Thos. Pailey.]
 
34. Lord Clarence Edward Paget.
 
35. Captain Thomas Abel Brimage Spratt.
 
36. At all costs.
 
37. CC Alfred Robert Thompson.
 
38. ACG Robert Cumming.
 
39. DACG Alexander Walter Turner.
 
40. DACG Robert Booth.
 
41. James William Murray Ashby, paymaster, Sphinx.
 
42. DACG Henry Moore.
 
43. Prince Michael Woronzoff.
 
44. ACG Leonce Routh.
 
45. ACG Frederick Stanley Carpenter.
 
46. ACG Kean Osborn. [Transcribed as Osborne.]
 
47. ACG James Bell Lundy.
 
 
 

 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Drake Letters Index 73. Hampshire Telegraph 9 June 1855 ◄ ● ► 75. Department Memo 20 June 1855