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.


Letter 3: Outside Sabastopol, October 7, 1854

My Dearest Mother,

I wrote Aunt Robe by the last mail telling her all we had done, which I suppose you have read e'er this. Since then we have done nothing particular excepting getting up stores, the siege train etc., etc. We expect the Trenches will open tonight and the Batteries about Monday and the storming a very few days after, as it is not a very strong place, on the side we are attacking it, there are several reports as to what is to be done afterwards, one is that we winter here, the other that we go to Constantinople, a third that we go to Malta and Corfu, at least the Infantry part of the Army, in fact I do not think any plan is yet decided upon, at any rate I will write directly after the siege is over, that is if I get safe through it.

I have no news to tell you, we are still losing a great many men and officers, but the mortality is daily decreasing and the cholera nearly gone, we that is, the English army, have lost nearly 9,000 men, killed, wounded, dead and sick on board ships, since we landed in the Crimea. I have myself enjoyed the best of health, in fact they say I am like iron. I heard by the last mail from old Sam Batcheller, who tells me of four more vacancies. I am now 21st for promotion, and I also hear that five Generals are going to retire and six more General Officers, also that there is to be a Battalion about November, if this is true, I shall get my promotion this year, if not about April. If I am well I intend when the Army goes into winter quarters to apply for five months leave of absence to England, as I do not see the fun of wintering here which is far from healthy, and I should like to be home for a short time.

I wrote by the last mail to Cox about what I mentioned in my last letter to you, so I hope by the time you receive this, the affair will be settled. I told them to pay it into the West of England Bank as I forget the one you bank with, so you had better enquire after you receive this, though I told them to inform you of it. If you should have a stray Clifton Chronicle or Merthyr Guardian that you do not want, pray send it occasionally as we have nothing on earth to read, and we look forward to the papers, in the same manner as a shipwrecked seaman on a desert island looks out for a sail. Will you also get me The Times containing the account of the Battle of Alma and any others that contain dispatches, and send them me. Provisions (that is to say anything besides our rations, which are very small) are very dear. I paid £5/14/- for two hams the other day. I should send to England for a lot of things of this sort, but one does not know where one may be in a month hence, or if one would want them then, I have found out about Aunt Robe's arrowroot.

Major Young had it for me, but put it into a box which he has lost, this is a great loss as it would have been of great service, and is so easily prepared. I have nothing more to tell you at present. With best love to all I remain dearest Mother,

Your affectionate son, W.P.R.

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