On the 5th November 1854 a smaller British and (yes) French army beat off an assault by the Russians at Inkerman in the Crimea. It was known as “The Soldier’s Battle” as men fought small engagements due to poor visibility in dense fog.
The Russians had massed 32000 men on the Allied flank and headed for the 2700 man 2nd Division, commanded today by the aggressive Pennefather. Instead of falling back in the face of superior numbers, he advanced. The British had their rifles to thank this day as they took a terrible toll on the musket armed Russian Infantry, who were hemmed in by the valley’s bottle neck shape. The British 2nd Division pushed the Russians back onto their reinforcements and should have been routed by the Russians’ numbers, but the fog and the British Light Division saved them. Three successive Russian commanders were killed in this engagement.
The Russians other 15000 men approached and assailed the Sandbag Battery, but they were routed by 300 British defenders vaulting the wall, blunting the lead Battalions, who were then attacked in the flank. More Russian attacks ensured the Battery exchanged hands several times.
The British 4th Division was not as lucky. Arriving on the field, its flanking move was itself flanked and its commander, Cathcart, killed. This enabled the Russians to advance, but not for long. They were soon driven off by French units arriving from their camps and made no more headway.
The battle was lost and they had to withdraw.
This was the last time the Russians tried to defeat the Allied troops in the field. Despite this reverse, however, the Russian attack had seriously stalled the Allies from capturing Sevastopol. They had to instead, spend one harsh winter on the heights overlooking the city, before it fell in September of 1855.
The British suffered 2573 casualties, the French 1800 and the Russians 11959.
Borodino fought today, the 7th September, in 1812.
Napoleon won the battle of Borodino today in 1812.
It was to prove an empty victory. He had entered Russia in June with an army of half a million, 1000 guns, 30000 supply wagons and 28 million bottles of wine. Today he fought Kutuzov with 130000 men, losing 30000. Despite losing more men, 45000, the Russian commander, retreating and abandoning his Capital to Napoleon was to end up the victor.
Russia was Napoleon’s graveyard and he was only able to cross the Polish border with 10000 men after the ravages of Winter and Cossack and Guerilla attacks.
His Russian campaign cost him his Empire.
ABWorsham4 last edited by
One bloody battle, I believe it was the bloodiest battle of the century.
I was unaware of the casualties until last night. You are right to say it was the bloodiest one day battle.
Only Leipzig was bloodier, but that was a 3 day battle.
Thank you for the reminder.
Thanks Witt! Always a pleasure to read your factoids on ‘Today’s date’!
56 bottles of wine a man, wow!
He planned for a long partynight of victory the little one, huh?!?
Maybe if the french had some cheese with their whine, they wouldn’t have come home in caskets.
The snow destroyed Le Grande Armee, not fighting Russians.
However, Kutuzov did somewhat lure Napoleon into Russia knowing about the reality of Russian winters.