remained in the possession of those who had so gallantly and skilfully won it. With regard to the final retreat to the north side, it can only be said that a personal examination of the locality merely confirms its necessity, and the impression so generally entertained that it was the finest operation of the war: so admirably was it carried out that not a straggler remained behind; a few men so severely wounded as to be unfit for rough and hurried transportation were the sole ghastly human trophies that remained to the allies. The retreat, being a more difficult operation than the assault, may be worthy of a higher admiration; but the Russian retreat to the north side and the French assault upon the Malakoff must each be regarded as a masterpiece of its kind, deserving the closest study. It is difficult to imagine what point in either can be criticized; for both evinced consummate skill, discipline, coolness, and courage. With regard to the artillery, I would merely remark that the Russian guns were not of unusual calibre, consisting chiefly of twenty-four-, thirty-two-, and forty-two-pounders, and that the termination of the siege was mainly due to the extensive use of mortars finally resorted to by the allies. If they had been employed in the beginning as the main reliance, the siege would have been of shorter duration. The causes of the unusual duration of this siege naturally resolve themselves into three classes: the skilful disposition of the Russians, the faults of the allies, and natural causes beyond the control of either party. Among the latter may be mentioned the natural strength of the position and the severity of the winter. In the first class there may be alluded to:--the skill with which the Russian engineers availed themselves of the nature of the ground; the moral courage which induced them to undertake the defence of an open town with a weak garrison; the constant use they made of sorties, among which
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.