After the battle of Alma (Battle of Alma) Allies did not hurry to Sevastopol. Victory was hard. From the seashore at Alma, from Kamyshevaya Bay, where the French base was, and from Balaklava - the English base, transports departed full of seriously wounded, crippled soldiers. They went to Constantinople, where large military hospitals were hastily built. Given the shortage of doctors (the Allies had as few doctors as in the Russian army), there was no medicine, no normal conditions for transporting the wounded, and mortality was terrible. At the same time, the cholera epidemic worsened again.
Therefore, the Allied army was not in the best condition. Only 10 (22) September allied army moved on. Before that, she had to put in order the frustrated parts, clean the wounded and bury the dead. The Allies moved to the Belbek River and in the evening saw Sevastopol, its North side.
It must be said that the intelligence of both the allies and Menshikov was equally disgusting. At night and at dawn 13 (25) September, Menshikov's troops passed through Sapun Mountain, Black River, approached the Mekenziyeva Mountain, and moved further to Bakhchisarai. On the way, when the Russian soldiers left the Mekenziyev Hill, they saw behind the enemy a long column behind and away from their rear guard. Fight was avoided. At the same time, the Russian command could not understand what the enemies were doing and where they were going. In the evening, Menshikov and his headquarters were waiting for the news of the fall of Sevastopol, since the enemy already September 10 (22) reached the North side, which had extremely weak fortifications.
The Allied Command also knew nothing about the departure of Menshikov's troops from Sevastopol. If the Russian army had the best intelligence and the decisive commander of the Suvorov type, this meeting could have ended badly for the allies. The sprawling columns of the Allied army were an excellent target and could be in a critical situation. On the other hand, if the Allies were more agile and decisive and rushed to the Russian rear guards, they could capture not only a few straggly wagons, but the entire Russian artillery fleet.
In the evening of September 13 (25), the British came to Balaclava. However, they were able to enter the city only in the morning of September 26, after a shootout with one company of the Greek battalion in Balaclava. The company fired while the ammunition was fired, and moved away, losing 40 people. On the same day, after the difficult transition from Belbek to the Black River, the actual commander-in-chief of the Allied army, Marshal St. Arnaud realized that his time was over (he was mortally ill). He reported to Paris that he was handing over the command of divisional general Francois Canrobert. September 27 Marshal moved to Balaclava and from there he went to Constantinople. St. Arnaud died on the ship "Bertholle", 29 September.
Kanrober ordered the French troops to camp between Streletskaya and Kamyshovaya bays. The British became in Balaclava and its surroundings. In Balaklava and Kamyshovaya Bay, transports and ships began to approach, unloading siege weapons, ammunition and other goods. Kanrober was a good commander, honest and direct, but did not have the determination and adventurous character of Saint-Arnaud. Therefore, the Allied command did not dare to go on the assault on Sevastopol, not knowing what to expect from the enemy.
Allies doubted their strength. Thus, divisional general Pierre Bosquet, who distinguished himself in the battle of Alma, where he commanded the right wing of the allied army, demanded that Canrober immediately write a letter to Napoleon III and ask for reinforcements. It was decided to strengthen the camps, dig trenches, install batteries and, by bombing, force the fortress to surrender or prepare a future assault. By mid-October 1854, preparations for the bombing were completed. She was appointed to October 17.
Anglo-French bombing reflection fleet by the Alexander Battery October 5, 1854. Artist F. A. Rubo
The first bombing of Sevastopol
Late in the evening of October 4 (16), Kornilov gave the last instructions on the defense of Sevastopol. Thanks to the titanic work of Kornilov, Nakhimov, Istomin, Totleben, and thousands of sailors, soldiers and citizens, Sevastopol was ready for defense (Sevastopol defense). On September 15, Kornilov appeared before the garrison and ordered to stand to the death. All the defenders of the city remembered the words of the admiral: “Comrades! .. we have the honor to protect Sevastopol, to protect our native fleet! We will fight to the last! We have nowhere to retreat, the sea is behind us. I forbid all heads of the units to beat the all-in, drummers must forget this fight! If one of the chiefs orders to beat the rebound, kill, brothers, such a superior, kill the drummer who dares to beat the disgraceful rebound! Comrades, if I had ordered to strike the line, do not listen, and that of you will be a scoundrel who will not kill me! .. " Russian soldiers and sailors answered these words with shouts of delight.
In the morning of October 5 (17), a cannonade began. The defenders of Sevastopol responded to firing the enemy with powerful artillery fire from 250 guns. The main burden of the struggle fell on the shoulders of Sevastopol gunners, who, under a hail of enemy shells, delivered retaliatory blows at the enemy and were in constant readiness to repel a possible assault. During the day, Russian gunners made 20 thousand shots. As a direct participant in the battle of Slavoni wrote: “A terrible battle began to boil: the earth groaned, the surrounding mountains began to tremble, the sea began to roar ... and at the same time hellfire broke out from our batteries. ... bombs, red-hot kernels, grapesheets, brandgugeli ... rained down hail; crashes and explosions were ubiquitous; it all merged into a terrible and wild hum; no shots could be discerned, only wild and terrifying gurgling was heard; the earth seemed to be shaken under the weight of the fighting ... "
Kornilov and Nakhimov at the first shots arrived at the defensive line of the fortress. Kornilov arrived at the fourth bastion. Here, the enemy was confronted not only by the guns of the bastion, but also by two artillery batteries located behind it. Kornilov went from gun to gun, encouraged soldiers and sailors. Then Kornilov moved to the fifth bastion, where Nakhimov was already. Both naval commanders began to lead the guns. Kornilov and Nakhimov showed high courage, keeping calm and morally supporting others. After all, the artillery servants on this day suffered great losses from enemy shells and grapeshot. Some guns calculations on this day were changed several times.
Around 9 hours Kornilov wrote the last report to Menshikov. It noted the strong enemy fire in the area of the fourth bastion, where the French and the British fired simultaneously. The enemy fired on Russian defensive positions, but many bombs fell in the city.
I must say that the officers surrounding Kornilov asked him to look after him. Everyone loved him and wanted to save the admiral. The officers knew that the death of Kornilov could affect the spirit of the soldiers, and especially the sailors. They were afraid of losing the commander in the midst of battle. However, Vladimir Alekseevich did not pay attention to their requests, considering it his duty to be at the forefront.
After the fifth bastion, Kornilov visited the sixth. From there he returned home briefly to listen to reports from other places and give orders. Then he said that he wanted to visit Malakhov Kurgan. Flag officer Krudner, who had just visited the Malakhov Kurgan, told Kornilov that Istomin, the commander of this area, said that everything was normal and asked him not to go there in any case. Kornilov again went to the fourth bastion. He believed that a strong fire in this area suggests that the enemy is preparing an assault here.
Flag officer Gendre drew Kornilov’s attention to the third bastion in order to distract the admiral from the fourth bastion, where the enemy had developed a lot of activity. Kornilov and Totleben examined the third redoubt and gave some tips. Then Kornilov again expressed a desire to visit Malakhov Kurgan. The officers of the third bastion were embarrassed and expressed their fears and regrets. They especially discouraged Kornilov from driving along the trench, and not along a relatively safe road through the Hospital Village. Vladimir Alekseevich, grinning, said that you can’t hide from the core.
At about 11 in the morning Kornilov climbed Malakhov Mound. He wanted to climb the Malakhov Tower, but Istomin found an excuse not to let him in there. He himself was under fire all day. Against the tower - the center of defense of the mound, there were three British batteries. The upper part of the tower was destroyed, and its defenders died. The admiral noted the need to bring down enemy batteries. Kornilov began to be persuaded to return to the city, but he decided to visit the beam of Ushakov, where Butyrsky and Borodinsky regiments were. When the admiral headed for the horse, several nuclei flew over his head, and one projectile struck him in the lower abdomen and upper leg, crushing it. Kornilov said: “Defend Sevastopol!” - and lost consciousness. At the dressing room at the hospital, Kornilov came to his senses, said goodbye to Istomin, who immediately ran to the position. Even in this terrible moment, he was not able to stay with a dying comrade for even a few minutes. Before his death, Kornilov was informed that the British batteries had been shot down, and only two guns continued shelling. Kornilov, having collected his last strength, twice whispered: “Hurray, hurray” and went to the heavenly squad. So the great Russian naval commander and real man died.
In the 12 hour, when Kornilov died, the battle was in full swing. Nakhimov, having received the fatal news, could not even leave the position, and said goodbye to his colleague only in the evening. Around the same time, the Anglo-French-Turkish fleet joined the battle. The first to join the battle was the French fleet, the English began the battle later. Despite the overwhelming superiority in artillery (more than one 1300 guns of one side against Russian coastal guns 115), the enemy did not succeed in the sea direction either. The ships of the allied fleet, fearing Russian batteries, fired from long distances, which greatly weakened the impact of the shells on the Russian positions.
However, during the battle, part of the enemy ships suffered greatly. Two hours after the start of the battle, the Jupiter ship left the battle line, followed by Albion and Aretusa (they had to be sent to Constantinople for repairs). "Albion" caught fire three times and almost drowned. Soon the King caught fire, who also retired from Sevastopol. He stopped the fire and the ship "Spytful", which received such severe damage that he almost drowned and kept afloat only thanks to the dedicated efforts of the crew. The ship "Rodney" ran aground. The Russian shelling caused strong fires on the ships "London" and "Agamemnon", they also came out of battle. At about 4 hours received orders to leave and the remaining ships of the allied fleet.
Thus, the Russian coastal batteries successfully stood the battle with superior enemy forces. Many enemy ships were seriously damaged. The Allied fleet lost several hundred people killed and wounded. The allies were so shocked that the fleet did not take an active part in the siege of Sevastopol until the end of hostilities.
In general, the outcome of the October 17 battle ended in favor of the Russian troops. The strenuous efforts of Kornilov, Nakhimov, Istomin and Totleben and the soldiers and sailor masses led by them were not in vain. Already after noon, the Allies were able to make sure that they miscalculated and Sevastopol was not taken only with the help of shelling. Allied commanders obtained data on new fortifications built in recent weeks, batteries with long-range guns, marksmanship of Russian artillerymen, and fearlessness of Russian garrisons. There was no 9 clock yet, as Russian gunners put down the French batteries on the right flank. The French powder warehouse was destroyed, and the French only fired from time to time. In 1 an hour of 25 minutes, another powder warehouse was destroyed by the French, and in 4 an hour the gunpowder warehouse flew into the air. The Allied fleet was also badly damaged. According to the French newspapers (under censorship), the 5 of the French battleships and frigates were damaged from the well-aimed Russian fire, and the British were hit by the 3 of the ship.
The allied army was unable to achieve its goals. British and French artillery could not seriously damage the Russian fortifications and suppress the batteries. The intended assault on Sevastopol had to be postponed. Attacking strong defensive positions and under the powerful fire of the Russian artillerymen, whose accuracy the allies saw on that day, was like suicide. High skill, self-control and courage of Sevastopol artillerymen decided the outcome of the case in favor of the Russian army and navy. The hopes of the Allied Command collapsed on an easy victory.
True, the joy of the first success was overshadowed by a heavy loss - the talented Russian naval commander, inspirer and organizer of the defense of Sevastopol, Vice Admiral Vladimir Alekseevich Kornilov, died. On that day, Russian troops lost about 1200 people, allies lost about 1 thousand people.
Sailors, soldiers, and townspeople worked hard all night from 17 to October 18, rebuilding damaged fortifications. To the amazement of the allied forces, by the morning of October 18, the defensive line of Sevastopol was restored and ready for a new battle. The defense of Sevastopol was now headed by Pavel Stepanovich Nakhimov. Under his direct supervision, the defenders of the city continued to strengthen the defensive line, erecting new fortifications and batteries. Formed new naval compounds to protect Sevastopol.
Nakhimov, who at the beginning of the defense showed some depression and was gloomy, did everything to replace the fallen comrade. The naval commander encouraged the defenders, he knew everything that was being done on the bastions, where shells and reinforcements were needed. Always on time to assist the threatened site. The admiral gave his apartment under the infirmary, slept where it was necessary. Pavel Stepanovich deserved genuine authority and enjoyed great love among the defenders of Sevastopol. The admiral was everywhere and everywhere, helping people in word and deed. The hero of Sinop has become the new soul of the heroic defense of Sevastopol.
The Allies fired at Sevastopol for a few more days. But they did not achieve much success. In the afternoon, the Russian artillerymen aptly answered the enemy. At night, the selfless garrison corrected everything that was destroyed in a day. So, thanks to the work of Rear Admiral Istomin and Russian engineer Polzikov, Malakhov Kurgan was turned into a powerful fortified area, which became the main stronghold of the Sevastopol defense. Simple sailors and soldiers showed mass heroism. On the fourth bastion, all the first hundred and two hundred sailors of the first stage refused to give way to another change of place in the guns, expressing a desire to die in their places, but not to leave their positions.
French officers noted the high level of Russian artillerymen: “Their fire was murderous and marks, their guns were beating for a long distance, and if the Russians were forced to stop firing for a moment under a hail of missiles that showered their embrasures, they immediately returned to their places and resumed the fight with a doubled fever. The tirelessness and stubborn resistance of the Russians proved that it was not as easy to triumph over them as they had predicted ... ”The French also noted that the Russians had positioned the batteries more skillfully, and they caused the Allies more damage than the batteries of the allies - the defenders of Sevastopol.
As a result, the British Lord Raglan and the French General Canrober decided to postpone the assault and proceed to a prolonged siege. A new assault on Sevastopol was postponed for two weeks.
A.F. Permyakov. Portrait of Admiral V.A. Kornilov, Hero of the Crimea