“Why, Archer, you’re a regular croaker!” one of the others said. “We shall have a laugh at you to-morrow evening.”
“I hope you will,” Jack said; “but I have my doubts. I wish to-morrow was over, I can tell you. The light division are, as usual, to bear the brunt of it, and the 33d will do their share. Harry has had good luck so far, but it will be a hotter thing to-morrow than anything he has gone into yet, unless indeed the bombardment of the last three days has taken all heart out of the Russians. Well, let’s turn in, for its bitterly cold to-night, and I for one don’t feel disposed for talking.”
THE CAPTURE OF SEBASTOPOL
The morning of the 8th of September was bitterly cold, and a keen wind blowing from the town raised clouds of dust.
The storming parties were to be furnished by the light and second divisions. The first storming party of the light division was to consist of 160 men of the 97th regiment, who were to form in rear of a covering party of 100 men, furnished by the second battalion, Rifle brigade. They were to carry ladders for descending into the ditch of the Redan. Behind them were to come 200 men of the 97th and 300 of the 90th. The supports consisted of 750 men of the 19th and 88th regiments.
Therefore the assault was to be made by about 750 men, with an equal body in support, the remainder of the light division being in reserve.
The covering party of the second division consisted of 100 men of the 3d Buffs; the storming party, with ladders, of 160 of the 3d Buffs, supported by 260 of the 3d Buffs, 300 of the 41st, with 200 of the 62d, and 100 of the 41st. The rest of the second division were in reserve.
The first and Highland divisions were to be formed in the third parallel.
The orders were that the British attack was not to commence until the French had gained possession of the Malakoff. This they did with but slight loss. The storming columns were immensely strong, as 30,000 men were gathered in their trenches for the attack upon the Malakoff. This was effected almost instantaneously.
Upon the signal being given, they leaped in crowds from the advanced trench, climbed over the abattis, descended the ditch and swarmed up the rugged slope in hundreds.
The Russians, taken wholly by surprise, vainly fired their cannon, but ere the men could come out from their underground caves, the French were already leaping down upon them. It was a slaughter rather than a fight, and in an incredibly short time the Malakoff was completely in the possession of the French. In less than a minute from the time they leaped from the trenches their flag floated on the parapet.
The Russians, recovered from their first surprise, soon made tremendous attempts to regain their lost position, and five minutes after the French had entered, great masses of Russians moved forward to dispute its possession. For seven hours, from twelve to dusk, the Russians strove obstinately to recover the Malakoff, but the masses of men which the French poured in as soon as it was captured, enabled them to resist the assaults.