Drake Letters Index 99. Louisa to Maria Drake 24 March 1856 ◄ ● ► 101. Louisa to Maria Drake 26 April 1856
The Drake Letters
Louisa Drake (Balaklava) - Maria Drake (London), 7 April 1856
April 7th [1856] 1
My dear Mrs. Drake,
        I begin my letters very late, but fear to leave it till the morning, as I promise myself a good night’s rest, and may not be up as early as I could wish, having had such a disturbed night, I am very thankful that it was not worse, all our poor animals being quite safe, though so accustomed to the fires in St. John, 2 it was rather awful to be awake [sic] by a bright light in your bed room &, on looking out, to find it was our own premises on fire; it began in the stable, and that and the cow house are no more. I do not know our premises today all looks so desolate, but how thankful we ought to be that the house escaped, it was such a blustery, blowing night, the wind coming in such gusts, we imagine the fire originated in a spark blowing in the roof of the stables (it is the custom here to burn the manure, and our neighbor’s [sic] heap is closer to our stables), our mare sleeps at this end, and the first fierce fire was in poor Jack’s 3 stalls at the other end, I wonder the dear old beast was saved, but he is so gentle, came out so quietly.
All this happened a little after two, when we were all fast asleep, the first we heard of it was Sardinian voices, our neighbor [sic], the Sardinian Commandant, 4 who had been reading very late, and just put out his light, was disturbed by the cry of a horse, and hearing it more than once, he got up to look, and there saw our stable in flames, the dear old gentleman rushed down at once and, I believe, was the first that awoke the Maltese who sleeps in the stables; as soon as the cry of fire spread, you can fancy that our yard was crammed with friends and men to do all in their power to help us, they were not long in pulling the place down, and almost everything was saved, fortunately, we keep all the best Saddles, Bridles, &c., in the house, as we might have lost them, the poor Maltese was so terribly frightened. I made my first appearance in night cap, and morning dress over my night one. I found him wringing his hands, sitting on the ground in the greatest despair, hearing the horses were safe & the house not been touched, I retired to take off my cap, and put on a few more things, none of us are the worse for it today, excepting want of sleep, [written across the page] dear old Jack’s old back is singed in many places, but nothing serious, the Horses, cows, sheep & lamb were all taken away in the night by different parties, and well taken care of, men have been busy today, cleaning away the ruins, but we shall not put up another stable, it is not worth while. Henry still complains of his Rheumatism, but has been to Head Quarters today & to visit one of the Divisions, I rode with Mr. De Lisle 5 to meet him coming home, nothing is yet known of how or when the Army is to move.
The Russians swarm over on our side now; we saw many in our ride today, as we shall now be allowed to go over the Tchernaya, I do hope to see some of their parts of the world, before we leave this, it is such a pity that Henry will be so engaged that we cannot hope that he will be able to go with us anywhere, he imagines another week will decide if any one is to come here to take charge. Sir William Codrington 6 called here with Colonel McMurdo 7 on Saturday Evening to see Henry on business, so we had a good look at the Commander in Chief. Colonel McMurdo called on me today. He is a tall fine looking man. We were at a large dinner party yesterday on board the Ottawa, a very pleasant party, 8 Captn. Bowen, of course, had his most select friends near him, mostly Officers of the Coldstream Guards, such clever amusing people, Colonel De Bathe, 9 &c, &c., Soyer 10 was one of the party (he and his suite live on board), he is a well informed clever man, and afforded us much amusement, he showed us some of Madame Soyer’s painting in oils, which are very excellent. I believe Miss Nightingale is still here, but I have never yet seen her, I am ashamed to call on her now, she has been here so long, but I should like to have a look at her. I hope you will excuse this miserable scrawl, but I [have] been writing in a great hurry, Pietro brought in a kettle of water for my feet more than an hour ago, so it must be almost cold, Henry is fast asleep long since, after my giving him a good rubbing: you see, I give you all the domestic details, and so will say good night, and
Believe me ever, Your Affect Daughter,
Louisa Drake

WH Drake Journal
April 14. Fine. Wind S. Mail of 31st arrived. Official about Adams as C.G. Smith Act. Wrote Armstrong 11 about his Coat. Downes. 12
Apl. 19. Dull but fine. Went to Hd. Qrs. with my Letter about C.G.ship. Saw Genl. Windham, Col. Blane, 13 Col. Herbert & Col. Pakenham. 14 Sir W. C. at Sardinian review. Sent copy of letter to C.G. 15 Want Crimean Ribbon, Red not wide enough.
April 22. Sent Letter of 19th about Acting Rank to Mr. Petrie 16 & copy to C.G. 17 Received a note from Sir W. C. & replied about C.G. Adams. 18
April 23. Fine. Went to Head Qrs., saw Sir W. C., Genl. Windham & Sir W. C. went to Belbec [sp?]. Mrs. D & Lu went to McKenzie’s Farm. C.G. Adams arrived & dined with us.

Bill Curtis's Soyer Stove

A Soyer Stove.
(Photo: Bill Curtis.) 19

1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
2. St. John, New Brunswick (Canada).
3. Jack was Henry Drake’s horse. Louisa mentions Jack in a previous letter, 85. Louisa Drake (Balaklava) – Maria Drake (London), 7 December 1855. She says Henry had left “Jack to my tender mercies” when he had gone on a trip to Sozopolol, Bulgaria.
4. Alfonso Ferrero dd La Marmora.
5. Surgeon Richard Francis Valpy De Lisle.
6. General Sir William Codrington.
7. Colonel William Montagu Scott McMurdo.
8. Alexis Soyer describes this party as follows: “A rumour was circulated that we should not be allowed to enter at all, the Alar being a merchant vessel. This was our fate till about six o’clock, when signals were made for her to enter. We availed ourselves of this permission, and in twenty minutes the two large tables were set out à la mariniere. Everybody was glad to partake of the most welcome repast ever bestowed upon a party after the enjoyment of so charming a day of pleasure. The salade mayonnaise was voted excellent. Champaigne was gaily flowing in bowls, basins, teacups, goblets, &c. Healths were proposed; her Majesty’s first – next that of the Allied armies – then that of the Emperor of the French, Mr. Crockford’s and mine, in honour of the salade mayonnaise; and a vote of thanks was returned to the Rev. Mr. Parker, for the extremely pleasant day he had been the cause of our enjoying, especially the dinner in the harbour he had so well provided, which soon made us forget our nautical tribulations. I have almost forgotten the members of the fair sex, whose health was proposed in the first place. They had been very ill all day. About eleven, all, except myself, had left the Alar in the full conviction of having enjoyed themselves very much indeed. Among the party, which would have been far too numerous, had not circumstances prevented many of those invited form making their appearance, were Commissary Drake, lady and daughter; Mr. and Mrs. Burnett. Lady Seymour and friend, who were to accompany the party, did not come. This is the sum total of the ladies present, which for the Crimea was a very fair array of the beau sexe.” [Alexis Soyer, A culinary campaign, (Lewes, East Sussex, 1995), p. 261.]
9. Colonel Henry Percival de Bathe.
10. Alexis Benoist Soyer.
11. Dr. Lancelot Armstrong?
12. Acting ACG Arthur William Downes.
13. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blane.
14. Colonel the Hon William Lygon Pakenham.
15. Henry’s father, retired CG John Drake.
16. DACG Samuel Petrie.
17. Henry’s father, retired CG John Drake.
18. CG George Adams.
19. In an email dated 17 December 2008, Bill Curtis described it as follows: “Attached is a picture of my Soyer Stove made to his 1854 design in 1952 and still known as the Soyer Stove. We were using them in the 1950s when I was in the Army. I found it in an old scrap yard. Brand new, still with its wax preservative on the inside but suffering a little from prolonged exposure on the outside. Since I took these pictures it has been cleaned up and repainted and now has a place in my Crimean museum.”

Drake Letters Index 99. Louisa to Maria Drake 24 March 1856 ◄ ● ► 101. Louisa to Maria Drake 26 April 1856