THE FALL OF SEBASTOPOL
THE battle of Balaklava had been fought and won. The siege of Sebastopol was yet going on, and the Russians were
receiving constant reinforcements. Two of the Tsar's own sons had joined the forces, expecting soon to
overthrow the enemy. A determined attack was now made by the Russians on the allies in trenches.
It was Sunday morning, November 5. A thick fog lay over the country, wrapping the valleys in heavy darkness.
Under cover of this, masses of grey-coated Russians crept unnoticed out of Sebastopol and attacked the allies
on the plains of Inkermann. For a while the battle raged almost in the dark, and
 through the drizzling rain great confusion prevailed. No command was possible. The battle of Inkermann was
just a hand-to-hand struggle, and has been called the "soldiers' battle ". Men of all ranks distinguished
themselves, and after many hours of fierce fighting, the Russians were obliged to retreat. The battle was won,
but at fearful cost. Of the 14,000 men who had been engaged on the side of the allies, 4,000 lay dead on the
field, while a yet greater number of Russians had perished. No further fighting on either side was possible
now for a time, and the terrible winter in the desolate Crimea had to be faced by the allies.
Nine days later their sufferings began with a fearful storm of wind and rain. The hurricane tempest of
November 14 is memorable for its wholesale destruction of life. Early in the morning a fierce wind arose, with
heavy squalls of pelting rain. In a few minutes every tent was torn from its pegs and blown away, the wooden
huts in which lay the sick and wounded from Inkermann collapsed, and heavy snowstorms added to the desolation
of the scene.
Outside the port of Balaklava, ship after ship went down, and among others was one filled with warm clothing
for the soldiers. The battle of Inkermann of November 5 had proved that the army of the allies must pass the
winter in the barren Crimea; the storm of the 14th showed that they must face that winter without adequate
supplies. Blankets, boots, rugs, socks, biscuits, rum, rice, meat, coffee—all were lost in the sunken
 So the hard Crimean winter set in, and the sufferings of the men in the trenches around Sebastopol were
intensified by the appearance of cholera in their midst. Their hands and feet were often frostbitten by the
cold, their clothes were in rags, and the food was insufficient. It was little wonder that they died by
On the eve of Inkermann a band of trained nurses, under Florence Nightingale, had made their way to
Constantinople, and thence to Scutari, where the great Turkish barracks had been turned into a hospital for
the sick. The condition of things when they arrived was indescribable. The orderlies, who were in charge of
the sick, were well-meaning, but often quite ignorant and very rough. For the first time in history, women
undertook the nursing, and the change was immense. Soon chaos gave way to order, dirt to cleanliness,
ignorance to knowledge, misery to some degree of comfort.
MISS FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE.
 True indeed were the words of the poet Longfellow as he pictured the "dreary hospitals of pain", the
"glimmering gloom", and the English lady, with her lamp, softly passing from bed to bed, while the speechless
sufferer "turned to kiss her shadow as it fell on the darkened walls.
The agony of that time has become a matter of history, and no war since the Crimea has been without its Red
Cross band of trained nurses.
The siege of Sebastopol dragged heavily on. Peace negotiations had failed, the Tsar Nicholas had
died—men said of a broken heart—but his son carried on the war with undiminished zeal.
Three months later—it was the anniversary of Waterloo—the allies made a combined attack on the two
strong forts of Sebastopol, the Malakoff and the Redan. But the whole affair was mismanaged; there was
splendid energy and terrible loss of life, but the assault failed.
Lord Raglan was now an old man, and this defeat crushed him; he became an easy prey to cholera, and died ten
days later. Things within Sebastopol were fast going from bad to worse. The constant bombardment of the allies
was telling; over 200 Russians perished daily from one cause or another. Even Todleben, the famous commander
of the Russian troops, was renouncing hope.
On September 5 the allies were ready for another assault on the Malakoff and Redan. It was arranged that the
French troops should storm the former, and when the flag of the French empire floated from the
 parapets, then the British should advance on the Redan.
But the Redan once more proved too strong, and evening found many a brave life laid down in an unsuccessful
attempt. The British were determined to renew the attack on the morrow. But on the morrow there was no Redan
to attack. That night the Russians blew up their magazines, beginning with the Redan. Then they sank their
remaining ships in the harbour and set fire to the city, after which, by means of a floating bridge, they beat
a sad retreat.
"It is not Sebastopol we have left to them, but the burning ruins of the town, to which we ourselves have set
fire," they said, "having maintained the honour of the defence in such a manner that our great-grandchildren
may recall with pride the remembrance of it and send it on to all posterity."
It was true. Sebastopol had fallen at last, after its 349 days of siege, but not into the hands of the allies.
It had simply ceased to exist.
Peace was now possible. Glad indeed were officers and men to return home after their triumphs and their
sufferings. No fewer than 22,000 had perished in the Crimea.
Many had been the individual acts of heroism, to reward which the Queen instituted the medal known as the
Victoria Cross. This decoration is in the form of a Maltese cross, wrought in gun-metal, with the royal crest
in the middle, and beneath it the words "For Valour". On the back
 is inscribed the date of the act of heroism. The Victoria Cross carries with it a small pension of £10 a year.
It has been said that this cross links all men together: "It stands as a symbol of the highest that man as man
can attain, it places the hearts and the generous impulses of all men on a common level, and the words 'For
Valour' are as dear to the noble duke as to the humblest private."
THE VICTORIA CROSS.
The Queen herself fastened the decoration on to the coats of sixty-two Crimean heroes who had earned it well,
while the enthusiastic cheering of the thousands who had assembled in Hyde Park for the occasion, testified
to the high approval of Britain's sons and daughters.