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appear to hail this weather with delight, as, at any rate, they have no difficulty in making fires, and thus are able to cook their fare, which, Heaven knows, is not too luxurious, poor fellows! Another great advantage of frosty weather is, that we are enabled to bring up large supplies of warm clothing and provisions and huts from Balaklava, so that I am glad to say that our men are better off now than they have been for the last month.
Yesterday the 18th regiment, 1100 strong, arrived at Balaklava direct from Dublin. They are all dressed in the new winter clothing, with fur caps and high boots; so I hope they will not suffer from going into camp at this time of the year, which must be very trying to men who have been accustomed to warm, comfortable habitations. The sickness in the army, I regret to say, continues very great. As an instance I may quote that this month the 3rd division has lost over 400 men: the other divisions have suffered in proportion almost as much, but it can scarcely be wondered at when you consider the hardships the men have to encounter. A man is said to have died of the cold in the trenches on Christmas night; this was the first really severe frost that we have had. It killed many animals; 26 horses in the heavy cavalry brigade and 3 (?) in the light and some 6 or 7 in the Royal Artillery were found dead in the morning, and I understand upwards of 50 baggage-animals.
The mail which arrived on the 26th brought us out the promotions and rewards for the campaign. The fortunate ones are of course delighted, but there are numbers who grumble at not being remembered. I have read with great interest the speeches in both Houses of Parliament upon the "carrying on the war." The Government proposal to engage foreigners, as soldiers to serve in the British army, will be, I should think, a most unpopular movement. We see daily how little faith can be placed in the services of men who have no other interest than their pay to make them fight. The French have here two battalions of their Légion Etrangère, which is a corps they raised some years ago for service in Algeria. I remember when travelling there, this time two years, hearing some of their officers say that the authorities had so little confidence in their foreign corps, that they were only used to garrison the unhealthy stations; and certainly I recollect myself finding them in two of the most out-of-the-way and least agreeable localities in the whole country. I also hear from French officers that numbers have deserted over to the enemy; two were caught in the act, and have been shot: and I was told the other day by one of their staff-officers, a man of considerable rank and standing, that it had been a question whether it would not be wiser to send these two battalions back to Algeria, and that General Canrobert
would have done so had not the want of troops been so great.
On the 28th I had rather an interesting interview with a Russian officer. I received orders in the morning to go with a flag of truce to Inkermann to give over some letters and money from Russian prisoners, and also letters and money to some English officers who are in the hands of the enemy. there is no trumpeter attached to the escort at Headquarters, and the cavalry are some way off near Balaklava, I was directed to take a trumpeter from one of the batteries of artillery nearest Inkermann, and to manufacture a flag as best I could. Accordingly, I started, mounted on my best horse, and in my best attire: I got a trumpet-boy from Major Morris's battery; he also lent me a towel, which we fastened to the end of the side of a stretcher: this the trumpet-boy carried, and we started together down the Inkermann road. Directly we got up to our advanced sentries, I told the boy to sound, upon which he favoured us with the "stable-call," and, no notice being taken of us by the Russian sharpshooters at the ruins of Inkermann, we trotted on down the road, which takes a winding course to the bridge over the Tchernaya, sounding several times on our way. I had hardly arrived there before I observed two horsemen approaching me from the other side of the valley along the causeway; they proved to be
two Russian officers, and, when a few yards off, one advanced alone. I did the same, and we continued approaching one another, until we each stood on the opposite sides of the river (for the Russians had broken down the bridge after they had retreated over it on the 5th of November). We both made profound bows, and I then stated in French the object of my coming, and, as it was not possible to throw either the letters or money across, the Russian officer said it would be necessary to send for a boat from one of their ships-of-war in the harbour, which would come up the river to where we stood. He accordingly despatched the other officer with orders to that effect: he told me that I should have to wait for nearly an hour before a boat could arrive; we therefore both dismounted, and sat on the edge of the broken bridge, holding our horses. We looked at one another for some minutes without speaking; but it struck me that this was an unsociable way of spending an hour, and I thought I might as well try and get into conversation; so I began by making the truly British remark that it was a fine day; to which he replied, "Thanks to God, it is." Then a long pause ensued, which I again tried to break by telling him that I had the pleasure of knowing several Russian officers, whom I named and asked after. This rather thawed him ; he appeared a good deal astonished that I had any
Russian acquaintances, and we were soon in animated conversation. He told me he was a colonel of cavalry on the staff, and had command of the outposts, and had been present at all the battles. He said he admired the English troops very much, that he thought the Guards were the finest infantry in the world, but that the Russian artillery was superior to the English. This, of course, I could hardly admit, although in the scientific part of that arm I think they are quite equal, if not superior to us. I should tell you that during this time a pretty brisk fire was going on from the Russian battery close to the lighthouse above the end of the harbour, against a work which the French are constructing to counteract the effects of this very battery. It so happened that, just after my Russian friend had been extolling his artillery, two shells were fired and both exploded far short of the mark. We were both watching the flight of these missiles during our conversation, so when I saw this bad firing I laughed, and asked my friend if that was a specimen of their practice. He took it very good-naturedly, and said we often made quite as bad shots from our batteries. He spoke in anything but praise of our allies; laughed at the Turks, and said the French infantry were inferior to the Russian. Possibly this may have been said to please me, or try and get my opinion. Shortly after we descried a boat in the distance pulling towards