Terrible was the sight indeed. In many places the dead lay thickly piled on the ground, and the manner in which Englishmen, Russians, and Frenchmen lay mixed together showed how the tide of battle had ebbed and flowed, and how each patch of ground had been taken and retaken again and again. Here Russians and grenadiers lay stretched side by side, sometimes with their bayonets still locked in each other’s bodies. Here, where the shot and shell swept most fiercely, lay the dead, whose very nationality was scarcely distinguishable, so torn and mutilated were they.
Here a French Zouave, shot through the legs, was sitting up, supporting on his breast the head of his dying officer. A little way off, a private of the 88th, whose arm had been carried away, besought the searchers to fill and light his pipe for him, and to take the musket out of the hand of a wounded Russian near, who, he said, had three times tried to get it up to fire at him as he lay.
In other cases, Russians and Englishmen had already laid aside their enmity, and were exchanging drinks from their water-bottles.
Around the sand-bag battery, which the Guards had held, the dead lay thicker than elsewhere on the plateau; while down in the ravine where Cathcart had led his men, the bodies of the 63d lay heaped together. The sailors had, before starting, fill their bottles with grog, and this they administered to friend and foe indiscriminately, saving many a life ebbing fast with the flow of blood. The lads moved here and there, searching for the wounded among the dead, awed and sobered by the fearful spectacle. More than one dying message was breathed into their ears; more than one ring or watch given to them to send to dear ones at home. All through the short winter day they worked, aided by strong parties of the French who had not been engaged; and it was a satisfaction to know that, when night fell, the greater portion of the wounded, British and French, had been carried off the field. As for the Russians, those who fell on the plateau received equal care with the allies; but far down among the bushes that covered the hillside lay hundreds of wounded wretches whom no succor, that day at least, could be afforded.
The next day the work of bringing in the Russian wounded was continued, and strong fatigue parties were at work, digging great pits, in which the dead were laid those of each nationality being kept separate.
The British camps, on the night after Inkerman, afforded a strong contrast to the scene which they presented the night before. No merry laugh arose from the men crouched round the fires; no song sounded through the walls of the tents. There was none of the joy and triumph of victory; the losses which had been suffered were so tremendous as to overpower all other feeling. Of the regiments absolutely engaged, fully one-half had fallen; and the men and officers chatted in hushed voices over the good fellows who had gone, and of the chances of those who lay maimed and bleeding in the hospital tents.