Drake Letters Index 98. General Orders 19 March 1856 ◄ ● ► 100. Louisa to Maria Drake 7 April 1856
The Drake Letters
Louisa Drake (Balaklava) - Maria Drake (London), 24 March 1856
  Balaklava 1
March 24th [1856] 2
My dear Mrs. Drake,
I must not allow the mail to leave without a few lines, but we are all tired out tonight, we have had such a day of it, at the great Races on the Tchernaya; I have never seen such a sight before, and suppose never shall again, thousands of people, with all kinds of uniform and thousands of Horses, of every description; the Races were pretty good – & the two first won by Frenchmen. I did not care for the Races I wished to see the people, we were disappointed at none of the Russians being allowed to come over the Tchernaya, though there were some on the other side, but not General Lüders, 3 or any great people I fancy, but we did not ride so far as that, as it was we could scarcely get our horses to stand at all, they were so frisky and excited; I saw the Steeple chase pretty well, thanks to Lord Rokeby’s 4 kindness in giving me his front place, but my Animal was so determined to back out, that I feared his Lordship would not see at all; after such a  day I am not sorry to be quiet at home again; you will be glad to hear Miss Lou has mustered Courage to ride Mr. De Lisle’s 5 pony; which is now at her service in our stable, he really carried her very nicely, and I only wish mine would have stood as quietly; Henry is quite knocked up tonight, his old Horse has shaken him so; we joined in getting up a sort of Pic Nic, and had a Tent and plenty to eat & drink, and men to take charge of horses, &c., you may be sure we had plenty of visitors, it was a Commissariat arrangement, Mr. Sale 6 and his friends, taking much trouble, I made chicken Pie Sweets &c., the Admiral 7 and party were some of our visitors, but I suppose Louisa will tell you more about it than I. All our great people were there; I had a talk with Sir Colin Campbell, 8 (the first time I have seen him, since his return) also with General Barnard, 9 who pointed out some of those I did not know, General la Marmora 10 is a very fine looking man, and such a very pretty Uniform; they were all at General Pelessiers [sic] 11 grand stand, where there were innumerable French Officers in Splendid Uniform and many beautiful Orders, I thought it a very great sight. We were much astonished in Church yesterday by hearing tremendous firing, it turned out to be salutes of 101 Guns from French & English, in honor of the birth of the young Emperor: 12 but you will see all the news in the Times, from the pen [written across the page] of Mr. Russell, 13 I saw him today, looking quite English in a hat, a thing you very seldom see here, but we were not near enough to speak. Poor John’s 14 letters we think very satisfactory, I am glad he is so well and happy, I think he is pretty well paid, considering he is a beginner, and then I hope living with my brother, 15 he will escape the queer Society of Sydney especially in the Evenings, but it is of no use fretting about the dear boy. 16 I sewed Henry’s Red Ribbon 17 on his Coat this morning, to make a respectable appearance among the great of the land, I thought it looked very well, and I am not a little proud of it, I agree with you in thinking he is a very lucky fellow and now more than all, in being in charge of this immense Army, if he gets the C.G.’s pay, 18 it will not be a sum to be despised, even for a week or two: 19 he bought Sir George’s 20 Charger 21 when he left a bargain a fine large horse (English) just fit to carry him. I did not see Sir George before he left, but all say he was looking ill and very much changed, 22 I hope to hear the voyage has been of benefit. I must close this hasty scrawl, Henry is rather complaining, with his back, and I am going now to rub it with “Opodeldoc”, 23 & I dare say he will be better in the morning. We only received your letters of the 5th yesterday (Sunday) they were due last Thursday, and there is another mail due today, I hope we may get it tomorrow. Louisa looks very well in your present, I think it one of the prettiest hats here, and we see plenty of ladies Riding now. 24 With kind love to all believe me ever

Your Affect. Daughter
Louisa Drake

WH Drake Journal
April 1st. Dull & Cloudy. At 7 a.m. went to Mazetti’s Van with Mrs. Mazetti, Mrs. White, Mrs. Comyn & several gentlemen to a French Ball at the 1st Division Woronzoff Road, stayed an hour – a regular romp & got home at midnight. 25
April 5th. Fine, wind shifted to S. Wrote to Mr. Filder in reply to his note about limejuice, to Mr. Petrie in reply to his about Bakery. Several Russian officers riding & walking in Balaclava. We took a short ride. Sir W. Codrington & Col. McMurdo at the Cottage. Bowen came in to dinner. Mail of 21st March received. Only C. A. D.’s 26 short letter. Alls well.
April 6, Sunday. Fine. Wind strong from S. We all dined on board “Ottawa” excellent dinner. Col. de Bathe, 27 Meyrick, Major Neville S.F.G., Capt. Cornell R.A. etc. 22 in all, home at 10½ p.m.” At 2 a.m. our stable was on fire, burnt to the ground. Horses all safe.

Louisa Maria Drake

Louisa Maria Drake (1836-1876).
(Photo: Danie Ackermann, from the original owned by George and Nova Coetzee).

1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
2. Henry’s Journal entry for 24 March 1856 reads: “Fine. Morning foggy. Went to the Races at the Tchernaya. Marshal Pelissier’s stand.” Dr. Douglas A. Reid describes the races as follows: “… [The day of the races] was a most beautiful day and the number of people present consequently very great; nearly 100,000, I believe. There were several thousand Russians as well but they were all (with one or two exceptions) on their own side of the Tchernaya and would not come across. Some of our men and not a few officers broke bounds and crossed over to the Russian side, for which they are likely to pay dear as General Codrington saw them and put them under arrest; one is to be tried by Courts Martial. Such a sight one will never see again perhaps. To the south of the race course is a small hill … which was covered with flags and arbours of evergreens. French and English bands were playing all day on it and the crowd of people was something enormous. There were eight ladies present and several vivandiéres and canteen women …” [Soldier-surgeon: The Crimean War letters of Dr. Douglas A. Reid 1855-1856, ed. J.O. Baylen & A. Conway, (Knoxville, Tennessee, 1968), pp. 134-5.
3. General Count Alexander Nikolajewitsch von Lüders.
4. Major General Henry Robinson-Montagu, 6th Baron Rokeby.
5. Surgeon Richard Francis Valpy De Lisle.
6. Acting ACG John Henry Sale.
7. Admiral Sir Charles Howe Fremantle.
8. Sir Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde.
9. Major General Henry William Barnard.
10. Alfonso Ferrero De la Marmora.
11. General Aimable Jean Jacques Pélissier.
12. Eugene Louis Jean Joseph Napoleon, Prince Imperial.
13. William Howard Russell.
14. Louisa and Henry’s son, John Drake.
15. Louisa’s brother, John Purkis.
16. John, though then 22 years old, had, to my knowledge, not lived with his parents since he had left Fremantle, WA per the “Champion” on 29 July 1847, when he had been 13 years old.
17. Henry’s red ribbon signified his elevation to Companion of the Bath.
18. In 1849 the rate of pay for a CG was put at £4/14/11, with extra war pay being £1/18/0. A DCG’s pay was £1/8/6, with 9/6 extra war pay, and £1/8/6 charge pay. [J. Wood (comp.), The Tasmanian royal kalendar, colonial register and almanack 1849, (Hobart Town, VDL, 1849), p. 98.] I presume that the rate of pay would not have changed that much, as inflation is a more modern phenomenon!
19. Henry says in his Journal entry of 18 March 1856 that “the commdr. of the Forces directed [him, Henry Drake] to act, until orders from England for the permanent arrangement of the Dept.”, and again on 19 March that it was “in orders to act for Sir G[eorge] M[aclean]”.
20. CG Sir George Maclean.
21. Henry’s Journal entry for 19 March 1856 notes that he “bought bay horse from Sir George Maclean”. Unfortunately he does not mention what he paid for the horse.
22. CG Sir George Maclean left Balaklava on the Steamer “Cape of Good Hope” on 19 March 1856. [Drake, Journal]
23. Opodeldoc. A saponaceous [resembling soap; having the qualities of soap; soapy] camphorated liniment. [The household dictionary of the English language, (London, [before 1893]), pp. 506, 665.]
24. In a previous letter, 88. Louisa Drake (Balaklava) - Maria Drake (London), 4 January 1856, Louisa writes about the hat her mother-in-law had sent her daughter, Louisa. She says: “I quite forgot to mention your pretty present to Louisa, the “bewitching hat”. I think it will do, so very becoming. Unfortunately just now, she has no chance of trying its effects, for there would be no pleasure in riding in the wind, snow and cold, but in a few weeks, we hope to ride again.”
25. Dr. Douglas A. Reid describes the scene: “On Tuesday night the French gave a Grand Ball near Kamara in honour of the birth of the Imperial Prince; all English ladies and English officers were invited. The ballroom was an immense hut erected for the purpose and was capable of accommodating three or four thousand people … We enjoyed ourselves tremendously. The room was beautifully got up and certainly the French deserve credit for it. There were about 8 English ladies there at the commencement; all married except one and she was a very pretty girl [Louisa Maria Drake] … Their sense of propriety was very soon shocked when they saw a lot of Vivandiéres coming in with scarlet trousers and shiny hats. There were a number of French butchers’ and bakers’ wives from Kamiesch and Kadikoi, so you will not be surprised when I tell you that the English ladies very soon departed. I need not tell you that I did not dance except with Grahame and Synge, the two fellows I went with. It was great fun looking on though for the Frenchmen made great apes of themselves. We had plenty to eat and drink and spent the time very pleasantly until 6 A.M. … and we walked back just as the sun was rising over the Inkerman Heights.” [Soldier-surgeon: The Crimean War letters of Dr. Douglas A. Reid 1855-1856, ed. J.O. Baylen & A. Conway, (Knoxville, Tennessee, 1968), pp. 135-6.]
26. Henry’s sister, Charlotte Augusta Drake.
27. Colonel Henry Percival de Bathe (1823-1907).

Drake Letters Index 98. General Orders 19 March 1856 ◄ ● ► 100. Louisa to Maria Drake 7 April 1856