British Foreign Policy 1815-65

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Letters from the Crimea

Captain WP Richards

I am grateful to Cynthia Dyer-Bennet for permission to reproduce these letters from her grandfather's transcripts. The spelling and grammar are exactly in the original letters.

Eliza, to whom this letter was written, was Elizabeth Jane Windsor Richards, third child and second daughter of Edward Windsor Richards (1789-1848) and Caroline, fourth child and third daughter of John Bennet of Laleston, Glamorgan (1761-1855), according to the notes that Ms Dyer-Bennet's paternal grandfather wrote on the back of the photo. The photograph to be found here was taken long after Captain Richards wrote this letter, since she's not the fairly young girl she'd have been in the 1850s.

Letter 16: Sebastopol February 23rd 1855

My dear Eliza

On looking over my list I see you are next on the list for a letter, so I will endeavour to fill this sheet, tho' I have not much to tell you. I received as you will see above Mammy's letter of the 4th, and as there is another mail in, and the letters sent for, I shall not close this until I see what comes for me. Most of the questions Mama asked me I have before answered in my letter of the 12th, and now I will inform you if you have not heard before, that I fall to Col. Adye's company in consequence of A. Gordon's getting Dyneley's Adjutancy so I get the Command of that Company, which is at Charlemont in Ireland, and expect to get my orders to join it by this Mail, so tell them all at home, and elsewhere, that it will be no use writing to me after you receive this, as by that time I hope to be on my way home. Any letters that do not arrive within a fortnight from this date, will have to be sent home again. I will before I start, write and let you know how I shall come home most likely by the Peninsular and Oriental Steamer, which will give me an opportunity of having another look at Gibraltar, Cadiz, and Oporto etc., etc., I shall bring Alma home with me, if I can get him conveyed to Constantinople.

As regards the siege, I have not much to tell you, we are getting on slowly, I expect we shall be ready to open fire in about three weeks. The Russians have been quiet of late, we hear from deserters that they are in a terrible state, both in the City and on the outside, as well. The Army outside has lost nearly half their men from cold and want of food, not only this the Turks under Omar Pasha at Eupatoria have given them two tremendous lickings, the first took place in consequence of their attacking Eupatoria with 45,000 troops and 100 guns. They were soon sent to the right about, and the second the same, but we have not heard to full account of the latter one.

The weather has improved lately, and is some days quite beautiful, like a Spring day in England, but then it changes in an hour, and snows, rains, blows and freezes all in the course of 24 hours. At any rate the health of the few men left is better and we have reduced their work a good deal, the French have taken it, it is very trying to our troops to see the way they laugh at our Generals, and heads of departments, but we cannot say anything because we know they deserve it and more too, we, that is the soldiers and officers get on capitally with them. They admire us very much, and say we are the best fighters in the World, but are looked after and commanded by old women.

We have some of the Imperial Guard out here now, they are all fine men, and magnificently dressed.

I received a long letter from Uncle Edwards by last mail, giving an account of all he has, and what he is doing, also a long account, or rather dissertation, upon the War. I have written to him by this Mail. Tell Aunt I took her parcel down to Balaklava yesterday, but had no time to take it to Capt. Powell. I have not seen him yet, and am not likely to do so, as I seldom get so far, being very busy in the Batteries.

Tell Mama I have heard from Sam Batchellor and it is all right about the things. I do not want anything now, having more than I know what to do with. I shall bring all my Campaigning traps home with me, as I see my Company is high up the list, and I think I may have to go to the Baltic with it in the Spring. The letters have just arrived, but there is nothing that I want to say more so must conclude for the present. With best love to all at home and elsewhere, and believe me dear Eliza

Your affectionate Brother, W.P.R.

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