Steadily, under a storm of fire, the Guards advanced. Grape, canister, round shot, shell, and shot, swept through them but they kept forward till nigh crossing bayonets with the Russian infantry.
At this moment, however, two British guns mounted on a knoll opened upon the Russians, the victorious French threatened their flank, the Russian gunners limbered up and retired, and their infantry suddenly fell back.
On the right of the Light Division, General Sir De Lacy Evans had also been fighting sternly. The second division had advanced side by side with that of Prince Napoleon. The resistance which he encountered was obstinate, but more skilled in actual warfare than his brother generals, he covered his advance with the fire of eighteen guns, and so bore forward, suffering far less than the division on his left. He had, however, very heavy fighting before he gained the river. The village had been set on fire by the Russians, and the smoke and flames greatly incommoded the men as they fought their way through it. The 95th, however, dashed across the bridge under a storm of missiles, while the 55th and 30th waded through the river, and step by step won their way up the hill. Then the firing ceased, and the battle of Alma was won.
The force under the Russians consisted of some 37,000 men, of whom 3500 were cavalry. They had eighty guns, besides two light batteries of horse artillery. Inferior in number as they were, the discrepancy was more than outbalanced by the advantage of position, and had the troops on both sides been of equally good material, the honor of the day should have rested with the defenders.
The British loss consisted of 26 officers killed and 73 wounded, 327 men killed and 1557 wounded. The French had only 3 officers killed and 54 wounded, 253 men killed and 1033 wounded. The Turks were not engaged. The Russians lost 45 officers killed and 101 wounded, 1762 men killed and 2720 wounded. The Allied Army had 126 guns against 96 of the Russians; but the former, owing to the nature of the ground, played but a small part in the fight.
The whole of the loss fell upon a comparatively small number of the English regiments, and as the French had 9000 men in reserve who had not fired a shot, there was no season why the greater portion of the army, with all the cavalry, should not at once have followed on the track of the beaten Russians. Had they done so, the war in the Crimea would have been over in three days. That time, however, elapsed before a move was made. The reason assigned was the necessity of caring for the wounded and burying the dead. But this might have been committed to the hands of sailors and marines, of whom 5000 might have been landed at night; in which case the whole Allied Army could have marched at day break.