INDEX

Letter From David Moore July 1855

Letter From David Moore November 1855

Letter From John Hesford October 1855

Letter From James Ramsdale October 1855

Letter From Harry Lumley November 1855

Anniversary of the Balaclava 600 1875

Death of a Veteran of Balaclava 1876

A Westleigh Soldier at the Crimea and Balaclava

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The writer of the following two letter's formerly resided in Kirkhall Lane and was employed at the mill of Messrs. Isherwood & Hayes

No 3 Company 88th Regiment Camp before Sebastopol

9 July 1855

Dear Mother

I write these few lines to you hoping they will find you in good health. I am well at present, thanks be to God who has kept me safe so far, although we are in great danger for we may be killed at any moment, unless we keep our eyes open. I must tell you there are many strange things in the Crimea, Sebastopol was once a very fine town but is now nearly blown to pieces for there is not a building in the town but what is more or less injured. We have plenty of good meat and warm clothes here. We have only had one engagement since I arrived in the Crimea on the 17th June and that was on the 18th. Lord Raglan is dead. He died in a few days after the engagement. We don't know the hour we will be called upon for another attack. We all think that at the next attack Sebastopol will fall. For there are great preparations making. I think a great deal about home since I came here, for we have but little to pass the time away in the Crimea. But dear mother, I pray to God every night that I may return safe home once more, although I am doing well here. Give my kind love to all my companions and friends and accept the same from your affectionate son

 David Moore

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No 3 Company 88th Regiment Camp before Sebastopol

10th November 1855

Dear Mother

I received your letter on the 9th this month and was glad to hear you are all in good health. You wished me to send word something about the attack on the Redan, I will tell you a little about it. The first of the scaling ladders went in, with 10 men in each ladder and one sapper, These were nearly all killed and wounded, for there were grape shot and round shot and shell.flying in all directions, and hundreds of men were falling for about three hours. The French had taken the Malakoff, and then the Russians retired to the Redan, and we poor English had to face them all. We had only 3000 men to attack 50000 Russians; however we fought them from 12 o'clock noon to until 5 in the afternoon, and then we retired from the Redan into the trenches, while we were retiring we lost a great deal of men. We had an awful fight that day. When the Russians found that the French had got the Malakoff all safe, they retired out of the town during the night. For they knew very well that if they had remained the French would have blown them into the elements from the Malakoff Tower. We found the town of Sebastopol nearly all knocked to pieces - almost every house was destroyed. Such a strongly fortified town you never saw. There is no fortified town in England at all like it, for there were guns in every street and every corner of the place. I have now told you all about it and must close the letter. Give my love to all my relations and tell the lads in the card room that I hope to have a little sport with them before long.So no more at present from your affectionate son.

David Moore

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The writer of this letter is a native of Croft with Southworth

Light Company 56th Regiment Camp before Sebastopol October 8th 1855

My Dearest Brother

I have this day received your welcome letter and am most happy to hear that you are all well. I am in good health thank God. I am happy that my dear parents are the same, with the exception of the infirmities incident to old age. I am glad to inform you that I have got over all danger up to the present time, although I was present at the fall of Sebastopol and was engaged in the trenches from the time of my arrival, where shot and shell were flying about in all directions, and my comrades of all regiments, killed and wounded by my side. It was heart rending, but it was the will of God. My regiment was in the trenches 48 hours previous to the attack, being more than 24 hours in ordinary times , which was the cause of us not being actually engaged in the attack. We were relieved from the trenches about an hour before noon, on the 8th ult. which was the time fixed for the assault; and as we met the gallant fellows who relieved us, lightly did they tread the ground that many were never to tread again. After evening to our tents we were allowed half an hour to get ready in for anything we might be called to. However in consequence of our heavy fatigues in the trenches and lost rest, we were formed into ranks, but happily were not required. Happily I say, because had we been engaged, I might not have had the opportunity of writing to you. I am glad to hear you had great rejoicing, and truly you may say that this was a great blow to the power of the Russians. We are sending great reinforcements Eupatoria , in order to cut off the Russian supplies, and make them lay down their arms. I hear that a party of Sardinian and British took a 14 gun battery from them on the 6th of the month. It is certain we will drive them out of the Crimea, please God. Before the winter sets in, there are a great many huts arrived, but not sufficient to supply the wants of the army. I do not think we shall all be supplied. Our tents are single at the present, and when wet weather comes we shall all be drenched.I am entitled to the Crimea medal and a clasp for Sebastopol and I may have opportunity of earning another clasp or two before coming home. I thank you for the stamps and paper for they are hard to come by over here.There are no prayer meeting here, nor any time to attend them, as when we are off military duties we are employed making roads to Balaclava, and from there to Sebastapol Give my kind love to all the family, and my respects to all enquiring friends.

I am your affectionate brother

John Hesford

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The following letter is from a Leigh Soldier in the Crimea to his father in Welsh Hill

5 Camp, 6th Battalion, British Artillery Crimea

October 15th 1855

After a time I now answer your kind and affectionate letter, and I hope it will find you in good health, as I thank God it leaves me at present, and I hope to continue so as I remain in the Crimea. The reason I did not write to you before is that we had been on the march day and night before Sebastopol was taken, and now we have a little rest. I will assure you that we have had a great deal to do since we came out here, but the Russians are getting very weak now in the parts, and the sooner the better. We are waiting for the army that is marching round them, and then we will soon give them some English metal. They have not got stone walls to fight behind now, the same as when in Sebastopol. The town is a very ragged looking place, and to see the shot and shell which was thrown into it would surprise all of you in England. It was a very sharp struggle indeed in taking Sebastopol. The 23rd Regiment of Foot was the first that entered the Redan. They went in 500 men strong and came out reduced to 50. It was a very strong battery, and the English were driven out three times. A medal and two clasps are due to me, and 5 months sixpences a day. I hope they will not give it to me until we come home, for £3 or £4 pounds is not much here. Porter is 4p a pot, and cheese 2/- a pound. We had a very sharp battle on the 16th August, about a mile from our camp. The Russians came out, and thought they were coming down to our stores in Balaclava to get their breakfast, but they thought wrong, for as soon as they saw the English army they retreated, but we killed, wounded and took prisoner about a 1000 of them. Had the French moved their stores quicker we should had many more of them. So they have not tried that game again at Balaclava stores. It was heart aching to she the wounded after the battle, some having lost their arms, others their legs, and crying for water. Since I began the letter yesterday there has been another battle. It took place this morning on Inkerman heights. It was mostly between the French and Sardinians and the Russians. We got ready but were not engaged. When we commence writing a letter here we cannot make sure of finishing it, for we do not know the minute we have to turn out. We have heard we are going to Campartice very soon, it is about a day and nights sail from here. I should expect we should have wooden huts to go into. It will be very bad camping here all the winter.

I remain your affectionate son

James Ramsdale

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This letter was received by a friend from a soldier formerly living in Bedford

Headquarters Sebastopol

November 12th 1855

My Dear Friend 

You will certainly be surprised that I have not written to you before, but I trust you will not attribute my silence to inadvertency, but admit my own excuses to which is exposure to danger and unaccustomed hardship, so that I almost lost though of any acquaintances in old England. My dear Richard, you can have but a very slender idea of the horrors of war, unless you were on the spot, or actually engaged, it is a most fearful sight to see your comrades writhing in the agonies of death, and I can assure you, it requires a strong nerve and a stout heart to face the enemy again after witnessing an engagement, ore seeing a battlefield. My dear friend I never thought for a moment that I should ever fire at a Russian, but I have been present at three attacks:- The Quarries, the first and last attack on the Redan, that is on the 18th June and 11th September, we lost a great may men at the Quarries, which we took, but both our attacks on the Redan as you have heard, have failed; I sent a letter to you after the Quarries, by a comrade going home, tell me if you received it, which I doubt, On the 8th of September we marched into the trenches after a short speech from the General, enjoining us to keep silent, saying that we should then stand a better chance of walking into the Russians; although we all know too well, the fearful odds against us, and that we had an insufficient storming party, notwithstanding this our brave fellows gave three cheers, and the order was given to advance, and the command of our own brave Colonel who joined us that morning on purpose, he told us that great things were required of us, and he knew we would not deceive him. My dear friend when the words 47th advance were given many a heart beat quick, we all thought there would be an empty hut, but providence ordained it otherwise, we only lost 10 men and 20 wounded, but none of our company killed; before we got to the first parallel, the word ran amongst the ranks that one was gone, and as each company came up they passed him lying across the trench, shot through the head with grapeshot, this was disheartening, but in we went, halting at intervals to escape the shower of grape and canister poured down on us, after each discharge, if none were hit, the word's "all right" was passed through the ranks, and on we went again; bye and bye the word was "look out for a shell" down we all went, perhaps some of the pieces barely missed some of us, perhaps it fell short, or the shout was "over", then would the cry be "the happy family" that is, a number of small shells called grenades fired from a large mortar, perhaps 50 of them spreading in all directions, rendering escape impossible, by that discharge we had 3 killed; and not withstanding shot shell and grape were being showered around in all directions, our fellows could not be prevented from climbing up the parapet to see what was going on in front, careless of the dead and wounded passing constantly on stretchers to the rear, some mortally wounded with greatcoats covering their faces to disguise their distorted features: at the same time the roar of the cannons and rolling musketry was deafening, rendering it impossible to converse at all, and still amidst all this, when we came to the advance trench from every moment we expected to rush to our death, the men might be seen smoking, drinking their grog, and I am sorry to say, cursing and swearing, as if unconscious of the near approach to eternity. Our regiment was the next to charge the Russians, what prevented us I cannot say, although our Colonel begged and requested our General, again and again to lead on the 47th, and had we done so, England's honour and the bravery of our sons would never have been doubted, that is, with the Buffs and the Highlanders to assist, who were close to the rear of us; but perhaps it is better, for many a brave fellow would have fallen. I have sent you a Russian book, taken the next morning from Sebastopol. Excuse my rambling letter, I have little paper and less time, so God bless you

Harry Lumley

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Anniversary of the Balaclava 600

The 21st anniversary of the Balaclava 600 was celebrated on the 21 October 1875 at the Willis Rooms, London under the precedency of Lord Lucan. Among the veterans of that great charge were two from this district. Mr. Williams late master of the Workhouse at Patricroft and Sergeant Major R. Williams of Worsley. The former belonged to the 11th Hussars, and the latter was one of the death or glory boys the 17th Lancers in which regiment he passed 25 years, during 14 of which he was Sergeant Major. Mr R. Williams was appointed, some half dozen years ago, as successor to Sergeant Major Adams, as Sergeant Major of the Duke of Lancasters Own Yeomanry which he still holds with the greatest credit and respect. The Worsley troop also own to the oldest soldier in the British Service Regimental Sergeant Major John Adams now fast approaching his hundredth year. He served his full time in the service, and has now been connected with the Worsley Yeomanry for nearly 50 years. He was at the annual training camp at Lancaster in June.

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Death of a Veteran of Balaclava

James McNeil of Doctors Nook, Leigh passed away January 1876 aged 45 years, he had been suffering from consumption. His father had a large grocery business in Bradshawgate, so it followed that James was apprenticed to the firm of Benyon & Robinson to learn the trade. The grocery business was not to his taste an he longed to see the world, so James travelled to London and enlisted in the 4th Light Dragoons, finding they were to stay in England he exchanged to the 5th Light Dragoons. He was posted to India, then on his return he was sent to the Crimea just after the war had broken out. He was present at the battle of Balaclava, and was one of the 600 who rode into "the jaws of death" on that terrible 25th October. During the charge he was wounded by a Russian Hussar, whilst attacked by two of them, and defending himself on one side  he received a sabre slash across the face which divided his nose. He succeeded in slashing the bridle of one of his adversaries, which left his opponent entirely at his mercy. He was then wounded in the leg, and was subsequently taken prisoner by the Russians. he was however kept only a short duration as he was exchanged and gained his liberty. he had a good education and served as a corporal then a sergeant. After the war he could not settle in one place, so he re-enlisted in the army till his discharge.

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A Westleigh Soldier at Crimea and the Indian Mutiny

 

A statement from a Westleigh soldier who withheld his name, gave the following narrative relating to his service in the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny. He entered a foot regiment in Dublin in 1851 for a term of 14 years. In 1854 he was sent from Cork to Gibraltar and was quartered at the barracks at RossHarbour, where a number of convicts were at work. On one occasion he saw the son of a keeper of the convicts accidently fall into the water, he jumped into theharbour at great risk and danger to himself and succeeded in rescuing him but unfortunately the lad was dead; for this he received a recommendation for bravery from the Humane Society. Shortly after, the Crimean War broke out, and in the same year his regiment was sent out to that seat of war, and they landed at Balaclava. He was present at the charge of the 600 when a message was received from Lord Lucan from Captain Lewis Edward Nolan one of the bravest officers in the allied army to the effect that the Light Brigade, consisting of Light Dragoons, Hussars and Lancers ought to carry the 30 guns used by the Russians in front of them. Lord Cardigan aquiest in what he believed to be an order from Lord Raglan and the brigade was ordered to advance. The brigade only amounted to 673 men, and in front of them waiting for the attack was 25,000 Russians supported by the 30 guns. As soon as the brigade got within firing distance, the whole of the guns poured out their charges of shot, shell and grape, and a perfect tempest of bullets were discharged from the muskets of the soldiers slaughtering the British cavalry in scores. A shell burst in front of Lord Cardigan a portion of which struck Captain Nolan in the chest penetrating his heart. He fell dead from the saddle but the headlong career of the rest continued while each one of them became familiar to that most dreadful sound of all – the sound of the moist plunge of a bullet when it buries itself in the body of a man or stead. When the brigade rode back all that remained of the 763 lives were 195. There were 472 horses killed and 42 wounded, Lord Cardigan received a lance thrust through his uniform in the charge, and one young Dragoon was found lying dead with 13 lance thrusts through his body. One of the Lancers received 6 lance thrusts through the body, 5 bullets in his saddle, 2 through his cap and 1 in the shaft of his lance. After the evacuation of Sevastopol he was ordered with his regiment to Agra in India, in consequence of the revolt of the Sepoys in Delhi where a very spirited deed was performed by Lieutenant Cockburn of the Gwalior contingent. Seeing that a large amount of mutineers were rousing the people of the district, he procured a curtained bullock cart, the kind that the ladies used to travel up country. Having disguised four troopers as ladies and placed them in the cart, with their carbines loaded, he sent the cart at night, followed at a short distance by 40 troopers, who were concealed under the shadows of the trees. When the cart arrived a short distance from the bivouac of the Sepoys they made a rush at the cart, but had hardly laid hands on the supposed ladies when four of them dropped, as the many carbines flashed in their faces. The rest were immediately attacked by Cockburn and his 40 followers. He was present at the terrible retribution, which met the rebels after their interrupted flight, at a ferry across the Ganges a short distance from Cawnpore. It had always been the practice to fire mutineers from a cannon mouth, and on this occasion a great number were ordered to meet this fate. The punishment was of the most awful description and caused many of the English soldiers who had to witness it greater terror than the dangerous horrors of their most sanguinary encounters. Three sides of a hollow square facing inwards were formed, and on the fourth side of the square were draw up the nine pounders. The prisoners who were strongly guarded were then marched solemnly into the square and their crimes read over, with the dread sentence that was to be carried out on them. They were then marched round the square and up to the guns. The first ten to suffer were picked out at random from the crowd and their eyes were quickly bandaged. They were then bound with their backs to the cannons and their arms to the wheels. All was then sickening expectation and many of the soldiers who were inured to the scenes of bloodshed shuddered in the brief period after those miserable men had been bound to the guns and before the order to fire was given by the major to the gunners. At last the word of command was given and the fatal match applied. A puff of smoke was then seen to emerge from the mouth of the guns, and the body which before stood erect in front of it was blown to a hundred pieces and the fragments covered the ground in all directions. Several times these ten guns were used, till it was impossible to go a step without meeting human remains, which fell in perfect showers. Ghastly heads with the hair singed partly or completely away, were found mixed up with other remains of the miserable men, and in a few instances the hideous things struck some of the soldiers who were drawn up to see the executions. In most instances the Sepoys exhibited remarkable courage and met their death with firmness and resignation. On retiring from the military still works for the government and wears several medals assouvenirsof the engagements he had passed through.

Thomas Vickerstaff Crimean War Veteran

 

Thomas Vickerstaff father of Messrs. T & G Vickerstaff timber merchants Leigh died November 1904. He enlisted in the old 39th Regiment in 1843 and became a member of the regimental band, and in that capacity accompanied King Edward, then Prince of Wales on his tour through Canada. He served with the Royal Canadian Rifles in the Crimean War and took part in the siege of Sebastopol. He also fought in the Sikh Campaign during his seven year service in India. He was awarded three medals and a clasp. Vickerstaff passed away at Belgrave near Leicester

 

P. Wilkinson Crimean War Veteran

 

Mr. P. Wilkinson and Leigh’s oldest soldier of 22 Bedford Square, Bedford died in May 1911, his funeral on the 5th of that month as a Crimean veteran was held with full military honours. He was buried in Leigh Cemetery