Monday, April 21, 2014

Crimean War Pt 2: The Battle of Balaclava

In my last post I wrote about the causes ofthe Crimean War. In this post rather than try and summarise the entire war in one blog post, I thought I would look particularly at the Battle of Balaclava (famous for the Charge of the Light Brigade) … and what went wrong.

You may recall war had been declared by Britain and France on 28 March 1854, after Russia had ignored their ultimatum to withdraw from the Danube region (following Turkey’s declaration of war on Russia in October 1853). Initial hostilities took place in the Danube area, with Russia forced to withdraw from Wallachia and the other principalities by July 1854. The war might have (should have?) ended there but war fever had gripped Britain and France and troops were landed on the Crimean peninsula in September 1854 with the intention of besieging Sevastopol, the home port of Russia’s Black Sea fleet and prevent Russian access to the Meditteranean (through the Dardanelles).

The British forces under the command of Lord Raglan and the French by Marechal Canrobet landed north of Sevastapol and began a march southward. An early decision to launch an outright attack on the city changed and the allied forces circled around the city, choosing to lay in siege lines to the south and east. This allowed Menshikov to move his forces out of the city to the north.

It is important to understand the geography of the city and its surrounds. Sevastapol lies on the south bank of a tributary of the River Tchernya, which flows in a curve around the city. some 4 miles inland along the waterway guarded at its mouth by 2 forts. The Chersonese plateau overlooks the city and is to the east cut by a number of deep ravines (to the scene of the later Battle of Inkerman). The water approaches were well defended with forts and sunken ships but the southern defence works of the Russians were incomplete.

The allied bombardment of the city began on 17th October 1854 but was soon brought to an end by a well placed Russian shell which hit the French magazine.

Lord Raglan
On 25th October Menshikov launched an attack across the river with the aim of attacking the British base. Most at risk was the British main line of communication, the Woronzoff road which ran across the top of the plateau. Raglan saw the threat. The only troops between the Russian forces and the port were the Heavy and Light Brigades of Horse, the 93rd Regiment of Highlanders and a small contingent of marines.  The Turkish troops fled in advance of the Russians, leaving their half constructed redoubts and guns.

From his vantage point, Raglan, seeing two large contingents of Russian cavalry converging, ordered the Heavy Brigade to meet the Russian cavalry in the “south Valley”. Under the command of General Scarlett the Heavy Brigade charged. A short brutal engagement followed, before the Russians broke and fled.

The Battle of Balaclava

In the meantime, a smaller contingent of Russians came up against the 93rd Regiment of Highlanders who formed a “thin red line”. They only fired one volley at extreme range before the Russians turned tail.


Over in the north valley, the Light Brigade under the Command of Lord Cardigan, was waiting. Raglan issued the following order: “Cavalry to advance and take advantage of any opportunity to recover the Heights. They will be supported by infantry which have been ordered. Advance on two fronts.”  

The Russians, fleeing for the Heavy Brigade’s attack, presented on flank to the British troops and all it needed was for the Light Brigade to attack them while they were vulnerable and it would all be over but Lord Lucan, commanding the cavalry, hesitated. His equivocation in earlier engagements had already earned him the soubriquet “Lord LookOn”. Lucan was later to argue that he had interpreted the order as a command to wait.
Lord Raglan's last order
A frustrated Raglan, seeing the Russians occupying the positions abandoned by the Turks and beginning to carry away the allied naval guns installed there, issued the following order:  “Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front – follow the enemy and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns – Troop Horse Artillery may accompany – French cavalry is on your left. R Airey. Immediate”.

Captain Nolan
The order was carried by the hotheaded ADC, Captain Nolan and as the ADC departed, Raglan shouted after him: “Tell Lord Lucan the cavalry is to attack immediately.”
When Lucan questioned the order an excited Nolan told him he was to attack immediately.
"Attack, sir!"
"Attack what? What guns, sir?"
"There, my Lord, is your enemy!" Nolan is reported to have said, vaguely waving his arm eastwards in the direction of the far end of the valley. "There are your guns!"

Lord Lucan
An irritated Lucan was left to assume that Raglan meant the Russian cavalry force, now behind a battery of 8 guns at the far end of the valley.   What Lucan could not see were the Russians up on the ridge above the valley, positioned with infantry, cavalry and guns  and on the Causeway Heights on the south side of the valley, Russian infantry, cavalry and guns in the redoubts abandoned by the Turks.

Lucan ordered Lord Cardigan, Commander of the Light Brigade to take the guns at the far end of the valley. Captain Nolan joining in the fray, realised that the Light Brigade was charging down the valley and not ascending the heights to take the Turkish guns as was intended by Raglan.  He rode in front of Cardigan waving his sword in a vain attempt to stop the charge but was killed. The Light Brigade continued its vain glorious one and a quarter mile charge down the valley with heavy fire raining down from the heights above them.  By the time it reached the guns at the far end of the valley, half its number had fallen but after a token resistance, the Russians had fled.

Lord Cardigan survived unscathed and on his return is reported to have said. “I have lost my brigade.” He had. On its return the Light Brigade had a mounted strength of 195 officers and men from an original strength of 673. 247 men were killed and wounded. 475 horses were killed and 42 wounded. The 13th Light Dragoons mustered 10 mounted men.

However the Charge of the Light Brigade achieved at least one objective. Between the actions of the Heavy and Light Brigade on that day, even the Russians were forced to admit that the Russian cavalry had been taken out of the war.

No further action was taken and the Woronzoff Road was lost, cutting off the route between the allied forces - a disaster for the coming winter. The Russians celebrated the Battle of Balaclava as a victory. By seizing the outer line of defences, they boxed the allies in between Balaclava and Sevastapol.  A victory by the allies at the Battle of Inkerman a few months later failed to change the situation and a miserable war of attrition was waged for a further twelve months before Sevastapol fell on 9 September 1855.

I will conclude my write up on the Crimean War in a future Historical Hearts article. In the meantime I will leave you with this summary of the Battle of Balaclava from my friends at Horrible Histories...

 Alison's latest book, a regency romantic suspense, LORD SOMERTON'S HEIR, will be released by Escape Publishing on 1 May. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

May release from Janet Woods: Different Tides

                     May release from Janet Woods and Severn House UK. Different Tides.

 Zachariah Fleet hires Clementine to look after two traumatized orphans in the English countryside, supposedly his niece and nephew. There is a legacy, claimed by another young woman who becomes Clementine's rival for both the money and for Zachariah's affections. With both resolved, Zachariah departs, heading for London. But a chance glimpse at a face on wanted poster alerts him to danger. With only Clementine there to defend the children, and the servants attending a deliberately lit fire, do they hide from the danger threatening them, or do they run? Zachariah gets there just in time.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Looking at Grosvenor Square, London, with Suzi Love

Looking at Grosvenor Square, London, with Suzi Love

As some of my historical romance books are set in a house in Grosvenor Square, 
the history of the square fascinates me. How about you? 
Do you love the reading about Mayfair and other elite areas of London? 

Grosvenor Square - Pronounced ˈɡrovna', is a large garden square in the exclusive Mayfair district and the centrepiece of the Mayfair property of the Duke of Westminster and takes its name from their surname, "Grosvenor".

Grosvenor Square, City of  Westminster, London. 

The Grosvenor family - 
  • 1761 Sir Richard Grosvenor, the 7th Baronet, was created Baron Grosvenor of Eaton in the County of Chester
  • 1784 - Became Viscount Belgrave and Earl Grosvenor under George III.  
  • 1831- At coronation of William IV, Robert Grosvenor, the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, became Marquess of Westminster
  • 1874 - Queen Victoria created the title Duke of Westminster and bestowed it upon Hugh Grosvenor, 3rd Marquess of Westminster.
  • The Dukedom and Marquessate are in the Peerage of the United Kingdom
  • The rest are in the Peerage of Great Britain. 
  • The courtesy title of the eldest son and heir to the Duke is Earl Grosvenor.

Grosvenor Square History Plaque.
History of Grosvenor Square 

  • In 1710, Sir Richard Grosvenor obtained a licence to develop Grosvenor Square and the surrounding streets and development started around 1721. 
  • Grosvenor Square became one of the most fashionable residential addresses in London from its construction until the Second World War. 
  • Numerous leading members of the aristocracy have resided here. 
  • The early houses had five or seven bays, basement, three main stories, and an attic. 
  • Colen Campbell produced a design for a palatial east side to the square featuring thirty Corinthian columns but this was not carried out. 
  • In the end most of the houses were built to individual designs. 
  • There were mews behind all four sides. 
  • Many houses were rebuilt later and acquired an extra storey.
  • Number 23 (later 26) was rebuilt in 177374 for the 11th Earl of Derby by Robert Adam and shows how grandeur of effect and sophisticated planning might be achieved on a confined site. 
  • It was demolished and rebuilt again in the 1860s. 
  • Nearly all of the older houses were demolished during the 20th century and replaced with blocks of flats in a neo-Georgian style, hotels and embassies. 
  • The central garden was originally reserved for the occupants of the houses but is now a public park managed by The Royal Parks.

Grosvenor Square Park.
  • Grosvenor Square has been the traditional home of the official American presence in London since John Adams established the first American mission to the Court of St. James's in 1785. 
  • Adams lived, from 1785 to 1788, in the house which still stands on the corner of Brook and Duke Streets. 
  • During World War II, Eisenhower established a military headquarters at 20 Grosvenor Square, and during this time the square was nicknamed "Eisenhower Platz".
  • The former American Embassy of 19381960 on the square was purchased by the Canadian government and renamed Macdonald House. 
  • In 1960, a modern USA Embassy was built on the western side of Grosvenor Square and caused controversy in the mainly Georgian and neo-Georgian area. 
  • In 2008, the United States Government chose a site for a new embassy in the Nine Elms area, south of the River Thames with with relocation completed by 2016 or 2017. 
  • In October, 2009, English Heritage granted Grade II listed status to the building which means new owners will not be allowed to change the facade.

Typical Grosvenor Square House.
Grosvenor Square in Literature
  • In Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens the Barnacles are said to live at "four Mews Street Grosvenor" which "was not absolutely Grosvenor Square itself but it was very near it".
  • Caroline Bingley makes a comment regarding the local dance in Pride and Prejudice "We are a long way from Grosvenor Square, are we not, Mr Darcy".
  • It appears in the title of several novels including The Lonely Lady of Grosvenor Square by Mrs. Henry De La Pasture (1907) and The House in Grosvenor Square by Linore Rose Burkard (2009)

  • In Oscar Wilde's play Lady Windermere's Fan, the Duchess of Berwick says, "I think on the whole that Grosvenor Square would be a more healthy place to reside in. There are lots of vulgar people live in Grosvenor Square, but at any rate there are no horrid kangaroos crawling about."

Derby House, Grosvenor Square,
3rd drawing room by Adams

In my Scandalous Siblings Series of historical romances, the Jamison family lives in one of the older houses in Grosvenor Square. In Embracing Scandal, Becca secretly invests in railway expansion to save the family's finances and save their Grosvenor Square house. In Scenting Scandal, Laura battles the madwoman who starts an illegal investment syndicate to save the Jamison family's own investments. And when things are dire, the five siblings and the people who help them gather in Grosvenor Square to plan their next moves.     
Embracing Scandal 
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

HH Review - Claiming the Rebel's Heart by Alison Stuart

Title: Claiming the Rebel's Heart
Author: Alison Stuart
Publisher: Oportet Publishing
Language: English

Claiming the Rebel’s Heart is a fast paced, gripping romance set during the English Civil War. On the side of the Parliamentarians is the family of Sir John Felton, including his spirited daughter Deliverance. Having successfully defended Kinton Lacey from one raid made by the King’s forces, she is frustrated to discover her absent father has sent a man to take over the defence of her family’s castle.
Captain Luke Collyer is a tried and tested soldier with little time to deal with a mere female and her hurt feelings. A second and more powerful force is about to lay siege to the castle.
As the castle and its inhabitants deal with the dire situation of living with cannon fire slowly but surely destroying their home, Deliverance and Luke are forced to work together to hold out until reinforcements can arrive.
A slow, burning passion develops between them. They fight to keep their feelings for one another secret, determined to save as many lives as they possibly can.
With a traitor in their midst, and the stakes constantly getting higher, Claiming the Rebel’s Heart had me on the edge of my seat. Would they finally give into their desire for each other before the castle walls crumbled around them?
The thread of divided loyalties within families was well written, and like many American Civil War novels, you feel the constant pain that families torn apart must have known. Luke fears that one day he will have to face his brother across the battlefield.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was well written. I loved the characters; and at times I felt I was living within the castle walls of Kinton Lacey waiting for the next time the cannons of the enemy spoke.

Countess of Jersey