British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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The Light Cavalry Brigade in the Crimea: 1856

Extracts from the Letters and Journal of General Lord George Paget

These edited extracts are from Paget's own account, The Light Cavalry Brigade in the Crimea Extracts from the Letters and Journal of General Lord George Paget (John Murray, 1881). This document has been taken from its primary location on The Victorian Web

Scutari, Jan. 11, 1856. - After spending a happy fortnight at the Embassy, we returned to-day to our cold, comfortless home, when of course the fine weather changed to a piercing north wind. However much we may have enjoyed the affectionate kindness of our hosts, the daily life at Pera is hardly worth recording, in a journal.

On the 27th December a squadron of the 12th Lancers came over from Scutari to occupy the Galata Serai Barracks, the only military "pied à terre" we have got on this side of the water. It was with much difficulty that this little spot was grasped from the clutches of the French, and in its selection, strategical objects were certainly kept in sight, for it commands the mouths of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus.

Jan. 14. - Snow again deep on the ground.

Jan. 17. - We got the good news to-day of the Ultimatum being accepted, and peace consequently certain. It was made known to us by a letter from Lord Stratford. He is a wonderful man, in truth. At 75 he can knock up his whole Corps of Chancellerie at their hard work. The other day he commenced work at 7 a.m. (his usual hour), went on at it till 2 ; attended a conference till 7 p.m.; got to work again at 10 at night, worked till 6 a.m., and, after a couple of hours sleep, worked till 7 in the evening, and then felt annoyed at being forced to go to bed at 11.

Feb. 2. - Another heavy fall of snow. A fire occurred this morning in the building occupied by the 13th Light Dragoons, fortunately a detached one, or the consequences would have been serious.

British Embassy, Feb. 4. - A ball at the French Embassy last night to the Sultan. He is short, slight, mean-looking, and marked slightly with small-pox, his dull countenance, however, leaving a favourable impression, as that of a kind-hearted man. He has a horror of taking human life, a signal proof of which is that he allows his brother to live (the first case, I believe, of the kind), and he is on good terms with him. His simple dress consisted of a brown sort of cloak, under which peeps the riband of the Légion d'Honneur, while a solitary diamond cross hung from his neck; the top of his fez, however, his sword, and the collar and cuffs of his coat were a mass of diamonds of great value. He left about 10.

March 31. - Telegram announcing that peace was signed.

April 24. - Another and more serious fire at Hyder Pasha Barracks.

May 4. - Commencement of break-up, Assistance sailing with 13th Light Dragoons, and a squadron of 4th Light Dragoons.

May 5. - W. S. Lindsay sailed with 4th Light Dragoons.

May 7. - 10th Hussars, which were now attached to my brigade, marched in from a distant quarter, where the Hussar Brigade had wintered. We have lately been busy selecting our horses for sale. They have been divided into three lots -

  1. Serviceable, to be taken home.
  2. Such as were worth it, to be sold by auction.
  3. Some few, shot.

May 13. - Our last day here, after an agreeable winter, thanks to the affectionate kindness of friends, such kindness as I never met with before, and the relation of which cannot, alas 1 find place in such a journal, though it is self-denying to refrain from the outburst of an overflowing heart.

Simla, May 14. - We embarked in the evening on board my old friend the Simla (this being the fifth voyage I have made in her), in which were the Carabineers.

Simla, Malta, May 17. - After a beautiful sail of three days we got in here at 8 p.m., and got rooms at an hotel.

Simla, May 26. - After leaving Malta on the 19th we passed through the Straits on the morning of the 23rd without stopping, the only incidents in these days being the loss of one of the 5th Dragoon Guards overboard, and that this morning we sighted at daybreak a headland within a few yards of us, and had to back our engines, a current having taken us out of our course.

Portsmouth, May 27. - A thick fog prevented us all the morning exceeding four miles an hour, which delayed our making the Needles till 3 o'clock. We anchored at Spithead about 5 p.m., and before the anchor was let go we heard a welcome voice cry out, "Is Lord George Paget on board? " and ere two more minutes were passed, Jem Drummond was on board, who took us off in his tender, bag and baggage to the Admiral's house, where we found Sir George Seymour and all his family with a kind welcome, and with them we passed our first pleasant evening in our native land.

London, May 28. - It did not take me, long to clear my forty-six boxes through the Custom House, and after lunching, with the Seymours we went with them to London.

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