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Thread: Correspondence

  1. #21
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    To All: I know I said it would be slow updating, but I took these first few days of the holiday off from revision, so I wrote another update that, for once, I am happy with. There might be one more update before things really begin to slow down, but we shall see.

    Snugglie: I thought it would make a nice change As for characters, there will be around 20ish mainish characters, though only about 10 of those will play a really big role. I hope it won't be too overwhelming.

    canonized: I have never, as you might know, ever write about women in my AARs, so it is not a bad start having one in the first update Thank you for the compliment, and I hope that as this continues my writing will mature yet further.

    AlexanderPrimus, demokratickid: Thanks

    phargle: Thank you. The straw hat was very popular among all ranks of British society and army/navy and was not frowned upon at all, at least while in tropical theatres, and the experience was well learnt from India. One time, the British sent over a unit of Dragoons, I forget the Regiment, too india wearing the traditional brass helmets. Almost 60% of the unit suffered heat stroke and many died. Generals to the lowliest sailors would wear it, though Soldiers, at least while on parade, had to wear their shakos, though the forage cap was beggining to take a larger role.

    comagoosie: For the British Army, the Minié Rifle changed the way a battle was thought out. The British soldier was now a much more independant being, and the slow path from tight formations too skirmish patterns began with its introduction into the regular line infantry. You yanks obviously were not using it properly. It was an important revolution for the British army, and it gave them a massive advantage of the Russians, as will be seen.

    Capibara: And he has other reasons to survive, as we shall soon see.

    IamWhoa: well make the most of the peace while it is here, for once they leave the pleasant shores of Malta they won't get much of it. Did I describe the music that well?

    update too follow...


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  2. #22
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    Chapter II: The Man of our Times



    William Howard Russell looked down the beach from his position just below the small dunes that undulated behind the beach. The morning rays of sunlight glittered off the shimmering sea as if the Gods themselves had sprinkled down onto the glorious island some sweet ambrosia and let if shift in the waves. At the far end of the sand a cliff arose sharply for about thirty feet, tapering off at the bottom a little. At the top, looking out over the whole scene was a small church tower. Lord knows what the tower would have seen in its time, as it looked out over the entire bay that it lay beside. Some Guardsmen, made several feet taller by their Bearskins, were milling about at the top of the cliff watch the same thing as Russell.

    Whilst some locals took the calm ambience of the Saturday to refresh themselves in the sea, on the beach the redcoats were out early to begin further practise with their Miniés. The troops were a company of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, and they looked superb even if a little out of place. The company was listening attentively as their Captain, a Captain H. Jones, ordered his lieutenants off along the beach, and was showing the men certain spacing for where best to fire a round at an advancing enemy. All the men watched intently, eager to learn their new tactics.


    The Beach in question


    Russell watched in delight as the men took in turns, in pairs, to skirmish their way along the shore. The idea was that one man was supposed to be keeping the enemy pinned down, from cover, while the other one reloaded his rifle. The first few pairs took a bit of time to work out what to do and the Captain shouted in a loud Irish accent for the lieutenants to sort them out where they went wrong. But, after a few tries the men were beginning to get the hang of the new tactics. As soon as the Captain was happy with all the pairs, the lieutenants set up targets and the men prepared to work on their marksmanship skills. From above, the Guardsmen snickered to themselves about mistakes the Fusiliers were making. Despite the cliff onlookers, the men seemed good enough shots, and Russell followed the improvements through his glass.

    As much as he would have liked to be writing about real fighting, rather than men shooting at paper targets, Russell was content. Malta was stunning, and he knew that as soon as they arrived in Bulgaria, there would be little time for sitting and laughing. There was something very relaxed about the men of the ‘Army of the East’ while they were on this little stop-off station, probably for the same reasons. For now, they could enjoy extra rations, swimming in the sea, if they could swim of course, light drill and pacified officers. It was true enough that, as Russell looked down upon the men in red, he noticed just how warm many of them looked, and felt rather glad with the fact that he, being only a reporter, could lounge in a chair with a frock coat, loose shirt, baggy trousers and peaked forage cap. It was not the only privilege he felt. He was, as far as anyone could say, the world’s first correspondent from an independent newspaper to have accompanied any army on a campaign. He smiled, somewhat smugly as the thought warmed his heart, even though there was no particular person or people to be smug at. It was, still though, a pity that for now and the foreseeable future that the army would be staying on Malta until the cogs of parliament in London got their head around the diplomacy and entered the conflict with Russia, just like everyone on the island was confident would happen, ultimately. Everyone knew that both Lord Aberdeen and the Duke of Newcastle would dither as long as they could over clear facts and hope the Turks beat the Russians, but this was an army ready for war, and a war it would have.

    Above the piercing sounds of Minié fire going off before of him, Russell heard the thud of footsteps on the sand behind him. He twisted his torso to face the sandbank, and over the top came a face that Russell could only struggle to put a name too. It must be…

    “Sir George Brown, at your service, Mr. Russell” the approaching man announced, before halting and saluting the reporter jovially and informally. The man was tall, though that was assisted by the General’s hat he bore on his head, with wispy grey hair, a long straight nose, though he had nothing on Wellington, and brooding, but greying eyebrows. Russell arose from his chair, returned the grin that hailed from Sir George’s lips, and then put his hand out forwards, to which a firm handshake was applied.

    “Ah, Sir George” Russell began; “These are the men of your division I am watching, yes?” he turned towards the beach and pointed to the men, giving the rhetorical question, though Sir George, who stepped up to Russell’s flank as he turned, answered anyway.

    “Indeed they are, sir, and a fine body of men. I must go and thank Captain Jones for his efforts, but I have a little business with yourself first” the General said reluctantly. Lieutenant-General Sir George Brown was commander of the Light Division. Although there was no difference in organization between the Light and numbered Divisions, the Light was known for the hard training and élan they supplied to the army. “Now I understand that from Spithead, you were posted with the First Division, and were hoping to accompany them to war” Sir George said repeating what Russell already knew, “but His Royal Highness seems not quite so confident in handling a member of the newspapers. While I see what little trouble you, as an admirable reporter of a newspaper as well placed as ‘The Times’ could possibly cause to His Royal Highness, we cannot bring a word against the wishes of the Queens’ beloved.” By ‘His Royal Highness’, Sir George was referring to the Duke of Cambridge, the favourite cousin of Queen Victoria, and commander of the First Division.

    “So where am I to go in the meantime?” Russell’s Irish accent sounded somewhat frantic as he turned his frame to face Sir George’s again and he pierced straight into the others eyes with a worried stare. “I cannot be attached to none of the divisions, and I pray not to the Field Marshal.”

    Sir George smiled showing more confidence than before, his clean shaved face hiding no emotions. “Well for the meantime, you have the bad luck of being attached to the Light Division, though if you want to go and talk with His Royal Highness, by all means I will not stop you” he finished sarcastically. Russell immediately leapt into motion. His apprehensive face, concealed by a thick beard, struck a smile from side to side and a firm hand grabbed Sir George’s cuff and shook it rapidly.

    “No, sir!” exclaimed Russell eagerly, still grappling the General’s sleeve, “I wouldn’t consider that an option at all, no sir!” He let the grip from Sir George’s wrist loosen and the General gave a one sided smiled, gave Russell an acknowledging tap on the shoulder, laughed heartedly and then tumbled off down the rest of the dune shouting congratulations at Captain Jones for his good work. It would be at least two happy Irishmen on the beach that morning.


    William Howard Russell, 'The Times' Correspondent


    Last edited by robou; 19-12-2008 at 15:35.

  3. #23
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Hmm . Not only do we have a beautiful scene to delight our senses , but also a little tickling of journalistic perspective to be had . More setup for what seems to be a powerful drama ! Excellent foreshadowing !
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  4. #24

  5. #25
    Field Marshal phargle's Avatar
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    Delightful language that builds in your account of this reporter's holiday. I really like the language of the general himself, even if it sounds like you're channelling Stephen Fry in Blackadder III and IV - no, especially because it sounds like you're channelling Stephen Fry. I also get a kick out of seeing the dreaded minie ball rifles in action. Those things can tear a man's arm off. The civil war accounts of them are pretty grisly, full of amputations handled by a doctor - and those handled by the bullets.

    A few points:

    “No, sir!” exclaimed Russell eagerly, still grappling the General’s sleeve, “I wouldn’t consider that an option at all, no sir!” He let the grip from Sir George’s wrist loosen and the General gave a one sided smiled, gave Russell an acknowledging tap on the shoulder, laughed heartedly and then tumbled off down the rest of the dune shouting congratulations at Captain Jones for his good work. It would be at least two happy Irishmen on the beach that morning.
    I love the general's one-sided smile - the way this is described conveys it well, although it may be my own bias since this is how I smile. ;-)

    I also dig this:

    Everyone knew that both Lord Aberdeen and the Duke of Newcastle would dither as long as they could over clear facts and hope the Turks beat the Russians, but this was an army ready for war, and a war it would have.
    Perfect summation of politics in one sentence. Bravo.

  6. #26
    Compulsive CommentatAAR stnylan's Avatar
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    One almost suspects the reporter had engineered things to be posted to the Light Division.
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  7. #27
    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    Nice beard...

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  8. #28
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    War without jingo?
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    Bulgaria?

    30-50 years earlier Russia was Europes last hope against peace. Now it is an enemy like everyone else.

  9. #29
    Roman LibrAARian comagoosie's Avatar
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    I have seen the word correspondent many times throughout this AAR, is there a trend, methinks?

    Anyways, enjoy the peace, war is sweet to those who have never tasted it
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  10. #30
    Zealous Firebrand Snugglie's Avatar
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    Journalists in a war can always make things interesting -- if kept a little detached, they can provide an interesting perspective on any war or happening.
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  11. #31
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    To All: I will next post a small update on the structure of the British 'Army of the East' to give a better idea about what is going on.

    canonized: I'm glad you enjoy the foreshadowing, because there is still quite a few chapters of it too come. But thank you

    AlexanderPrimus: Indeed, I will not veer from History, I will merely put words to fact. Though brilliantly of course

    phargle: Hah, I do really see where you are coming from with the Stephen Fry thing, and that is in a way what I want him to be portrayed like. One look at Sir George Brown's hair and you know he really is a mad scotsman However, you will see another side of Sir George Brown yet. As for the smile, I could actually find a way to describe it well, but if you liked it, thats a plus point. And about the politics, its how it always works... except with Palmerstone, as we shall see.

    stnylan: It is quite out of control, but he has a much more competent and friendly leader in Sir George, and one of the finest bodies of infantry in the world. The Guards are... overrated.

    demokratickid: Hah, that picture was taken in 1855, after the first winter in the Crimea, so everyone had grown big beards to protect themselves from the bitter Russian cold.

    Enewald: Bulgaria indeed, as we shall see. Not exactly a war of jingo, but it was a war for British intrests. If the Russians were able to split the Ottoman Empire, India would be under direct threat. And anyone who disrupts the status quo is a enemy of the British.

    comagoosie: Indeed, correspondent has a lot to do with it, as you might have guessed it being in the title.

    Snugglie: A very interesting touch; I have just read through all the dispatches sent back from the Crimea by Russell and they do give a great insight into what was going on. Interestingly, he doesn't pay great attention to the large set battles, yes a few more pages than normal, but is far more interested in the life of the soldier, and also in describing scenery, hence why I put so much detail into the scenery last time.
    Last edited by robou; 22-12-2008 at 14:05.


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  12. #32
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    Chapter III: An Army to Fight



    Malta, March 26

    The Army is in a brilliant shape, as so far we have had no man down with any tropical illnesses. We will use the good times well, but when we move out to the City of Constantine and beyond, there will no doubt be a great need for medicines and surgeons, and reports we have from a number of British officers, most notable among them Sir John Burgoyne, is that the Russian armies at Silistra are torn apart by pestilence, Cholera and dysentery, as well as by Turkish shot and shell. I do fear that, with the army is such a state of inaction that the listlessness and despondency* that accompanies inaction will only heighten the risk that our soldiers do suffer badly when they reach the shores of the Black Sea.

    For those that do not know the organisation of our army I will lay it out as clearly as is practicable ere** I continue. Most will know that our commanding officer, and leader of the ‘Army of the East’ is the veteran of the Peninsular War, Field Marshall the Lord Raglan. He is a noble gentleman, never forgets his manner in front of the men, officers and women folk. He is indeed a fine choice for leading this expedition, as I have no doubt in that his gentlemanly diplomacy will come into great use when cooperating with our noble French and Turkish allies. Under him is Brigadier-General Strangways, late Lt. Colonel of the Royal Horse Artillery but now commander of all Royal Artillery units in the Army after General Cator fell ill. Also in a similar position is General Escourt, the Adjutant-General, who has been recalled from an early retirement.

    We have five divisions in total, though the Cavalry Division, under Lord Lucan, is still en route and will, in the eventuality of war, miss out Malta and move straight to Bulgaria or Constantinople. From what I have seen of the Cavalry, they are fine, stately looking troops, with uniforms to match. The very core of British society is shown well in the Cavalry, and their noble presence is enough to terrify an enemy into submission. They are, however, small in number, but their flair and braveness will no doubt compensate.

    Then there is the First Division, of whom over the past week I was attached too. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge, commands this fine body of troops which consists, as does every British Division, of two brigades. The Brigade of Guards, General Bentinck commanding, which, as everyone already is aware, contains within the Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Fusilier Guards Regiments. In their bearskins and their neat scarlet, they look the envy of the armies of the world. They will no doubt prove themselves most competent and brave when fighting commences. The men of the Highland Brigade, under Sir Colin Campbell, are some what more rugged, though just as impressively dressed, their kilts and sporrans, the chequered white and red socks pulled up high and the well known headdress. They are tough soldiers, though, and their fighting abilities do not ever come into question. The Regiments of this brigade are the 42nd Royal Highlanders, the 79th Cameron Highlanders and the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders.

    The Second Division, under Sir George de Lacy Evans, is a very under-strength unit and is likely to be placed in reserve, but the troops themselves are of good quality, and the Second Division has a well experienced body of officers, and there is no doubt in this army that, bar the Field Marshal, Sir de Lacy Evans is the most experienced commander in the field. His subordinates are Sir John Pennefather, commanding the 1st Brigade, who is considered one of the most intelligent, if quietest of the staff. His brigade consists of the 30th Cambridgeshire, a regiment that has already been serving in the Mediterranean for some time now, the 55th Westmoreland and fabled 95th, previously the Rifles but now the Derbyshire Regiment. His equal is General Adams of the 2nd Brigade who has under him the 41st Welch, 47th Lancashire and 49th Hertfordshire Regiments.

    The Third Division is under a mostly unknown commander, Sir Richard England, but his division has many solid regiments in and will no doubt be of great service to this army. General Sir John Campbell commands the 1st Brigade of the 1st Royal, 38th Staffordshire and 50th Queen’s Own Regiments. Sir William Eyre commands the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Kings Own Royal, 28th North Glouctershire and 44th East Essex Regiments.

    The Fourth Division I have not yet had time to go and view, though I hear from Captain Jones, of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, that they are splendid troops, despite being still armed with musket and not rifle, though General Sir George Cathcart is said to be rather abrasive. I am sure it is not so, but I will take it into account when I do go to visit the Fourth. Apart from the famed Rifle Brigade, which as taken over the role of the 95th, I doubt this Division will have much to do if the others a worth their while. The 1st Brigade is General Goldie’s and consists of the 20th East Devon, 21st Royal North British Fusiliers and the 75th West Middlesex. General Torrens commands the 2nd Brigade which contains the 63rd West Suffolk, 68th Durham Light Infantry and the 1st Rifle Brigade.


    Questionable tactics Sir George?


    Finally, the Light Division, to which I am currently attached and will be for the foreseeable future, is the command of Sir George Brown. I am beginning to inquire about Sir George’s character, as when I met him he was most kind a jovial and I am beginning to have my doubts. The men are fine soldiers, but they look flogged and worn out. They still always wear the neck stock that constricts the neck tightly, as too keep their heads held high. I feel there are better ways to hold ones head up high. Since I have joined his divisions, I have heard many rumours from subalterns that he is very rude to the men and is very opposed to change, even though he seemed more than happy that his men were making such good practise with the Miniés. Still, no one stands against the fact that he is both a brave and well experienced soldier, and for that I respect him. I will, as I stated, make further inquiries. The 1st Brigade of his division is commanded by Brigadier-General William Codrington and consists of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, of which Captain Jones is a company commander, the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers and the 33rd Duke of Wellington’s, known to the army as the ‘Iron Dukes’. The 2nd Brigade, under Brigadier-General George Buller contains the 19th North Riding, 77th East Middlesex, 88th Connaught Rangers and the 2nd Rifle Brigade. Flogged soldiers or not, these are the finest in the army, a match, possibly, even to the Guards and Highlanders.

    Supporting all this, of course, is the Artillery of General Strangways which is both attached in part to the divisions and the rest makes up the siege train. This is, as I have always stressed, an army ready to fight, and fight it will.


    Notes
    *: Fatigue and Depression
    **: Before
    Last edited by robou; 31-12-2008 at 18:08.

  13. #33
    Field Marshal phargle's Avatar
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    An excellent array of forces against the tsar there. I'm excited to follow the prince in battle. . . I dunno why, but the idea of the British royalty serving in the military always intrigued me, and I dig it. As for the Russians, it sounds like this correspondent feels pretty confident about the army's chances, what with the sickness hurting the enemy and with the high esteem he accords the army. Hopefully, George knows what he's doing with the uniforms he forces his boys to wear. . . it's hard to become an experienced and smart soldier while being an idiot, so maybe the Light Division can manage to keep its head held high for two reasons.

  14. #34
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    The british army is full of brave honourable gentlemen with huge moustaches?

  15. #35
    Roman LibrAARian comagoosie's Avatar
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    Muy intersante!

    I wonder if we shall she more of George's twin sided character later

    btw, are all these historical divisions that actually fought or are you making these up, as with the commander. No matter, both ways will be impressive.
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  16. #36
    Cisár všetkých Slovákov demokratickid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald View Post
    The british army is full of brave honourable gentlemen with huge moustaches?
    Exactly what I was thinking....
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  17. #37
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    Good overview of the army. Doesn't sound like our man is enjoying his billet all that much at the moment, or perhaps more accurately is concerned about it.
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  18. #38
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    I definitely have to echo Lewis's words : excellent job with the overview ! The numeral perspective really does help to frame the upcoming conflict very well !
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  19. #39
    Hijo de Santiago robou's Avatar
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    To All: Firstly, I hope you all had a lovely christmas, and continue to enjoy yourself for the next few days upto new year. I am quite tied up with work and travelling in the next couple of days so no update until 2009 is upon us.

    phargle: We've yet to see further into the Duke's character, which will be covered in the up-and-coming updates. The Russians indeed are suffering from epidemics, but the British Army, as Russell noted, is just as, if not more succeptible to those diseases if it is not careful.

    Enewald, demokratickid: Mostly clean shaven, preferably, though officers of substantial rank, due to their age, often sported beards or moustaches. The pictures are all from 1855, after the first winter in the Crimea, after Roger Fenton went to the Crimea and photographed a lot of it, so most peple were sporting beards to protect themselves from the cold.

    comagoosie: These are all historical divisions, brigades, regiments and commanders, though the characters of some of the commanders are unknown so I am making them up from what their conduct was like in the campaign. Sir George was known to be the most unpopular infantry commander at the time, due to his hardline discapline and rigidity, but his division was always immacualtely turned out and he was a brave soldier so they kept him as commander.

    stnylan: Concerned is, I think, a better word for what Russell is. He is attached to one of the best divisions in existence, so he doesn't need to be regretting his choice, but he will have to be careful about what he says in front of Sir George.

    canonized: What I didn't say, strangely, was the actual numbers. These regiments were generally all at peace-time strength; i.e. a single battaltion of around 800-900 men. So the actual strength of the army is not as large or daunting as it may seem, about 35,000 men including all Infantry, Royal Artillery, Engineers, Cavalry, Commisariat and General Staff. The French army, though we haven't yet met it, is somewhat larger between 45-50,000 men.


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  20. #40
    Zealous Firebrand Snugglie's Avatar
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    And so you've tried your hand at journalism, and I dare say it turned out very well. Hope to see a few more pieces from Russell within the close future.

    I also can't help but to reflect over his choice of wording. "Honourable", "fine", etc. Ah, the press and its conduct sure has changed the past century and a half.
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