Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Letter (March 1914) from Thomas Miller, late 28th Regt.

3 Freestone Row, Dalkeith Place, Kettering, Northants, 27th Jan. 1914.

Dear Sir,

You requested me in your letter to give a short account of my experiences in the Crimea. I cannot give you a long one, so I must be brief, considering so many years ago and my memory, caused through blindness and age, becoming very leaky indeed.

After enlisting into the 28th Regt. I was then sent to the Isle of Wight, where I stayed a few weeks, then I was drafted out to Malta, thence to the Crimea; landed at Balaclava, distance of about 4 miles from where the 28th was encamped. On arriving at the camp, we were soon met by Colonel Adams, the Commander of the 28th, and he gave us a some encouraging words of advice and told us he hoped we should prove ourselves good soldiers and patriots to our country. In repsonse we gave the brave old gentleman three cheers, then we went off to our respective companies. In the tent I and my comrade was ordered to join there happened to be an old soldier who had been all through the campaign, so we were soon at home with him, and got all the information concerning the use of the Minnie Rifles, for we had to give in the fire arms - the old Brown Bess - and take in place of it the rifle we did not know anything about. Our position soon taught us something about it. I took every opportunity to make myself acquainted with the use of it. Soon I became proficient and classed with the first-class shots. We found the duties very heavy upon us. Before the fall of Sebastopol, night after night, either on the trenches or working, often when we thought we should get a night off, we warned either to go on fatigue, to go to Balaclava to fetch biscuits for the stores, then the day following warned for guard or some other duty. Often cold and hungry and thirsty, not much time to think about our dear friends and the comforts we left behind in the dear old country we loved so much.

The day before Sebastopol, after nearly a fortnight of heavy sieging, we then had to make an attack upon the town to take it by force. The 28th had to be the reserve while the other regiments of the 3rd Division under the command of General Eyre. On the morrow, we - the 28th - had to become the storming party. We lay under arms all day waiting for orders; during the day the French took Malakof and a round tower called the Crow's Nest. Then the English was able to take the Redan, a very strong fort indeed the key to the whole town. The Russians spiked all the guns before they retreated from the Redan. The fore-mentioned forts, belonging to the French lines, had to be retaken before the English could hold our position. When that was done the Russians soon had to vacate the town, which they did during the night. They blew up their magazines, set fire to the shipping in the docks, and sank the rest in the harbour, between the town and the north side, where another very strong fortified place, to our annoyance, which commanded the town. The Commander could see what was being done and what was the intention of the French and our army to destroy the docks. It was accomplished with great difficulty and loss of life. After the town was taken we had not quite such times to endure, but the weather became very severe. I had many narrow escapes at times. On one occasion, working in Sebastopol, getting firewood out of the houses, we were seen by the Russians from the north side, which opened fire upon us, we were compelled to make preparations to leave the town at once having no rifles with us. While the officer in command was numbering us off with our loads upon our shoulders to march away, I saw the smoke from one of their guns. Knowing it was meant for us I gave the alarm and had just time enough to step aside. It passed by me and struck the next man, cutting off both legs. On another occasion leaving the trenches one evening, a shell was fired from the enemy. It blew off a man's head standing by me, of our regiment, the blood and brains flew on my face and on my belts. To relate all the scenes I had to witness memory fails me to tell, but I assure you we had much to endure, more especially the 28th Regiment and other Regiments that passed through the campaign. From the time I joined the 28th Regt in the Crimea, I never left it until I left at Davenport; never had a pass or leave all the 10 years and 98 days. At one time before the fall of Sebastopol, we were all very lousy, could not be avoided. Officers as well as men were affected with lice, which kept us all well awake when on duty. We were glad when we were able to overcome the nuisance by the help of the dear friends at home. Towards the close of the war, by the help of of the friends in England, we had plenty to eat and clothing and wooden huts to live in. Soon after peace was restored our brave General Eyre left us with the 9th Regiment; our Regiment did not leave until the following Spring, May 20th 1857. We lost more from sickness and frost bites, caused by the privation that had to be endured, than by fair fighting.
In passing through the Dardanelles we passed by on the left Scutari, where many of the sick and wounded were. That benevolent lady was Miss Nightingale, whose name will never be forgotten by the army. Dear Sir, I must curtail this account for my blindness and age and ill health will not permit me to say more; I hope it will suffice.

I remain, yours respectfully and obedient,
Thos. Miller