Battle of Inkerman

The Battle of Inkerman was fought during the Crimean War on 5 November 1854 between the allied armies of Britain, France and Ottoman Empire against the Imperial Russian Army. The battle broke the will of the Russian Army to defeat the allies in the field, and was followed by the Siege of Sevastopol. The role of troops fighting mostly on their own initiative due to the foggy conditions during the battle has earned the engagement the name "The Soldier's Battle".[1]

Prelude to the battle

The allied armies of Britain, France, Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire had landed on the west coast of Crimea on 14 September 1854, intending to capture the Russian naval base at Sevastopol.[2] The allied armies fought off and defeated the Russian Army at the Battle of Alma, forcing them to retreat in some confusion toward the River Kacha.[3] While the allies could have taken this opportunity to attack Sevastopol before Sevastopol could be put into a proper state of defence, the allied commanders, British general FitzRoy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan and the French commander François Certain Canrobert could not agree on a plan of attack.[4]

Instead, they resolved to march around the city, and put Sevastopol under siege. Toward this end the allies marched to the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula and established a supply port at the city of Balaclava.[5] However, before the siege of Sevastopol began, the Russian commander Prince Menshikov evacuated Sevastopol with the major portion of his field army, leaving only a garrison to defend the city.[6] On 25 October 1854, a superior Russian force attacked the British base at Balaclava, and although the Russian attack was foiled before it could reach the base, the Russians were left holding a strong position north of the British line. Balaclava revealed the allied weakness; their siege lines were so long they did not have sufficient troops to man them. Realising this, Menshikov launched an attack across the Tchernaya River on 4 November 1854.[7]



On 5 November 1854, the Russian 10th Division, under Lt. General F. I. Soymonov, launched a heavy attack on the allied right flank atop Home Hill east from the Russian position on Shell Hill.[8] The assault was made by two columns of 35,000 men and 134 field artillery guns[9] of the Russian 10th Division. When combined with other Russian forces in the area, the Russian attacking force would form a formidable army of some 42,000 men. The initial Russian assault was to be received by the British Second Division dug in on Home Hill with only 2,700 men and 12 guns. Both Russian columns moved in a flanking fashion east towards the British. They hoped to overwhelm this portion of the Allied army before reinforcements could arrive. The fog of the early morning hours aided the Russians by hiding their approach.[10] Not all the Russian troops could fit on the narrow 300-meter-wide heights of Shell Hill.[9] Accordingly, General Soymonov had followed Prince Alexander Menshikov's directive and deployed some of his force around the Careenage Ravine. Furthermore, on the night before the attack, Soymonov was ordered by General Peter A. Dannenberg to send part of his force north and east to the Inkerman Bridge to cover the crossing of Russian troop reinforcements under Lt. General P. Ya. Pavlov.[9] Thus, Soymonov could not effectively employ all of his troops in the attack.

When dawn broke, Soymonov attacked the British positions on Home Hill with 6,300 men from the Kolyvansky, Ekaterinburg and Tomsky regiments.[11] Soymonov also had a further 9,000 in reserve. The British had strong pickets and had ample warning of the Russian attack despite the early morning fog. The pickets, some of them at company strength, engaged the Russians as they moved to attack. The firing in the valley also gave warning to the rest of the Second Division, who rushed to their defensive positions. De Lacy Evans, commander of the British Second Division, had been injured in a fall from his horse so command of the Second Division was taken up by Major-General John Pennefather, a highly aggressive officer. Pennefather did not know that he was facing a superior Russian force. Thus he abandoned Evans' plan of falling back to draw the Russians within range of the British field artillery which was hidden behind Home Hill.[11] Instead, Pennefather ordered his 2,700 strong division to attack. When they did so, the Second Division faced some 15,300 Russian soldiers. Russian guns bombarded Home Hill, but there were no troops on the crest at this point.

The Second Division in action; the Russians in the valley

Battle of Inkerman map
A British map of the positions of the forces after the initial assault

The Russian infantry, advancing through the fog, were met by the advancing Second Division, who opened fire with their Pattern 1853 Enfield rifles, whereas the Russians were still armed with smoothbore muskets.[12] The Russians were forced into a bottleneck owing to the shape of the valley, and came out on the Second Division's left flank. The rifled Minié balls of the British rifles proved deadly accurate against the Russian attack.[13] Those Russian troops that survived were pushed back at bayonet point. Eventually, the Russian infantry were pushed all the way back to their own artillery positions. The Russians launched a second attack, also on the Second Division's left flank, but this time in much larger numbers and led by Soymonov himself. Captain Hugh Rowlands, in charge of the British pickets, reported that the Russians charged "with the most fiendish yells you can imagine."[14] At this point, after the second attack, the British position was incredibly weak. If Soymonov had known the condition of the British, he would have ordered a third attack before the British reinforcements arrived.[13] Such a third attack might well have succeeded, but Soymonov could not see in the fog and thus did not know of the desperate situation of the British. Instead, he awaited the arrival of his own reinforcements—General Pavlov's men who were making their way toward the Inkerman battlefield in four different prong attacks from the north.[15] However, the British reinforcements arrived in the form of the Light Division which came up and immediately launched a counterattack along the left flank of the Russian front, forcing the Russians back. During this fighting Soymonov was killed by a British rifleman.[13] Russian command was immediately taken up by Colonel Pristovoitov, who was himself shot a few minutes later. Colonel Uvazhnov-Aleksandrov assumed command of the Russian forces. Shortly after, Uvazhnov-Aleksandrov was also killed in the withering British fire. At this point, no officer seemed keen to take up command and Captain Andrianov was sent off on his horse to consult with various generals about the problem.[13]

The rest of the Russian column proceeded down to the valley where they were attacked by British artillery and pickets, eventually being driven off. The resistance of the British troops here had blunted all of the initial Russian attacks. General Paulov, leading the Russian second column of some 15,000, attacked the British positions on Sandbag Battery. As they approached, the 300 British defenders vaulted the wall and charged with the bayonet, driving off the leading Russian battalions. Five Russian battalions were assailed in the flanks by the British 41st Regiment, who drove them back to the River Chernaya.

Home Hill

Crimean War 1854-56 Q71166
The Field of Inkermann, with the trenches

General Peter A Dannenberg took command of the Russian Army, and together with the uncommitted 9,000 men from the initial attacks, launched an assault on the British positions on Home Hill, held by the Second Division. The Guards Brigade and the Fourth Division were already marching to support the Second Division, but the British troops holding the Barrier withdrew, before it was re-taken by men from the 21st, 63rd Regiments and The Rifle Brigade. This position remained in British hands for the rest of the battle, despite determined attempts to take it back. The Russians launched 7,000 men against the Sandbag Battery, which was defended by 2,000 British soldiers. So began a ferocious struggle which saw the battery change hands repeatedly.

Fourth Division in action

When the British Fourth Division arrived under General George Cathcart, they were finally able to go on the offensive. They launched a renewed attack against the Russians and on their flanks. The courage of Cathcart and his men had the unexpected effect of encouraging other British units to charge the Russians. However, the flanking troops were caught in the rear by an unexpected Russian counter-attack and Cathcart was shot from his horse and killed, leaving his troops disorganized and the attack was broken up. This gave the Russian army an opportunity to gain a crest on the ridge. However, as the Russian troops were coming up, they were attacked and driven off by newly arrived soldiers from the French camps. The French, with marvelous rapidity, brought up a division from five miles away and poured reinforcements into the entire line, reducing the Russians' advantage in numbers.[16]:433

Adolphe Bayot - Bataille d'Inkerman - Arrivée de la division Bosquet
Arrival of Bosquet's division
C. Faure - Bataille d'Inkerman - Charge du 26e de ligne britannique
Death of general Cathcart

Defence of Home Hill by the British and French forces

At this point in the battle the Russians launched another assault on the Second Division's positions on Home Hill, but the timely arrival of the French Army and further reinforcements from the British Army repelled the Russian attacks. The Russians had now committed all of their troops and had no fresh reserves with which to act. Two British 18-pounder guns along with field artillery bombarded the 100-gun strong Russian positions on Shell Hill in counter-battery fire. With their batteries on Shell Hill taking withering fire from the British guns, their attacks rebuffed at all points, and lacking fresh infantry, the Russians began to withdraw. The allies made no attempt to pursue them. Following the battle, the allied regiments stood down and returned to their siege positions.


Despite being severely outnumbered, the allied troops held their ground, becoming a marvel of each regiment's tradition and tenacity. The amount of fog during the battle led to many of the troops on both sides being cut off, in battalion-sized groups or less. Thus, the battle became known as "The Soldier's Battle". The Russian attack, although unsuccessful, had denied the allies any attempt at gaining a quick victory in the Siege of Sevastopol and condemned the allied armies to two terrible winters on the heights. Following this battle, the Russians made no further large-scale attempts to defeat the allies in the field.

Alexander Kinglake obtained the official casualty returns for the battle. By his account allied casualties were: 2,573 British, of whom 635 were killed, and 1,800 French, of whom 175 were killed. Russia lost 3,286 killed within a total (including men taken prisoner) of 11,959 casualties.[17]

The battle popularised the use of the name Inkerman in placenames in Victorian England, including Inkerman Road in Kentish Town, London; Inkerman Road, St Albans, and Inkerman Way in Knaphill.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History (Picador Publishing: New York, 2010) p. 203.
  3. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, pp. 215-216.
  4. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, p. 222.
  5. ^ Orlando, The Crimean War: A History, p. 225.
  6. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, p. 241.
  7. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History (Picador Publishing: New York, 2010) p. 258.
  8. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, pp. 257-259.
  9. ^ a b c Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, p. 257.
  10. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, p. 258.
  11. ^ a b Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, p. 259.
  12. ^ Myatt, F. (1979): The illustrated encyclopedia of 19th century firearms. Salamander books, New York, page 50
  13. ^ a b c d Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, p. 260.
  14. ^ Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History, p. 259
  15. ^ See the map on page XXX of Orlando Figes, The Crimean War.
  16. ^ Porter, Maj Gen Whitworth (1889). History of the Corps of Royal Engineers Vol I. Chatham: The Institution of Royal Engineers.
  17. ^ Kinglake Vol 5, "Battle of Inkerman", page 458: "From the general engagement of the 5th November, including the fight on Mount Inkerman, there resulted, it seems, to the Russians a loss of 11,959 in killed, wounded, and prisoners [of which 3,286 killed]; to the English a loss of 2,573, of whom 635 were killed...Official return[s]".

Further reading

  • Figes, Orlando (2010) The Crimean War: A History. New York: Picador Publishing, 2010
  • Kinglake, A. W. (1863) Invasion of the Crimea. 8 vols. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1863–1887

External links

Coordinates: 44°35′06″N 33°35′31″E / 44.585°N 33.592°E

1854 in France

Events from the year 1854 in France.

Anthony Palmer

Anthony Palmer VC (10 March 1819 – 12 December 1892) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

He was about 35 years old, and a private in the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, British Army during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 5 November 1854 at the Battle of Inkerman, Crimea, Private Palmer, with two other men were the first to volunteer to go with Brevet Major Sir Charles Russell to dislodge a party of Russians from the Sandbag Battery. The attack succeeded. During this action Private Palmer shot down an assailant who was in the act of bayoneting Russell, and so saved his life. He was also one of a small band which, by a desperate charge against overwhelming numbers, saved the Colours of the battalion from capture.In 1874, Palmer was commissioned as a captain in the part-time 5th (Plaistow and Victoria Docks) Essex Rifle Volunteer Corps.His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Guards Regimental Headquarters (Grenadier Guards RHQ), Wellington Barracks, London, England.


Fillingham is a village and civil parish in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England. It is situated 9 miles (14.5 km) north from the city and county town of Lincoln, and just over 1 mile (1.6 km) west from the A15 road.

Fillingham Grade II* listed Anglican church is dedicated to St Andrew. Originally a building in Early English and Decorated style, it was largely rebuilt in 1777 with a new chancel and tower. It was further restored in 1866. The earliest element is a c.1200 round-headed doorway in the west transept. In the churchyard is a cross, 30 feet (9 m) high, dedicated to Major Thomas N. Dalton, killed in the Battle of Inkerman in 1854. John Wycliffe was rector of the village from 1361 to 1368.There is evidence of a Roman camp in the village and Anglo Saxon pottery has also been found. Archaeological excavations have also found evidence of an Anglo Saxon cemetery which may have been associated with a second church in the village.Fillingham Castle is a castellated mansion built in 1760 by Sir Cecil Wray. A nearby stone manor house was built about a century before.Fillingham Lake is one of the sources of the River Till, a small river whose lower reaches form the Fossdyke Navigation.

FitzRoy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan

Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan, (30 September 1788 – 28 June 1855), known before 1852 as Lord FitzRoy Somerset, was a British Army officer. As a junior officer he served in the Peninsular War and the Hundred Days, latterly as military secretary to the Duke of Wellington. He also took part in politics as Tory Member of Parliament for Truro before becoming Master-General of the Ordnance. He became commander of the British troops sent to the Crimea in 1854: while his primary objective was to defend Constantinople he was ordered to besiege the Russian Port of Sevastopol. After an early success at the Battle of Alma, a failure to deliver orders with sufficient clarity caused the fateful Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava. Despite further success at the Battle of Inkerman, a piecemeal allied assault on Sevastopol in June 1855 was a complete failure. Raglan died later that month, while suffering with dysentery and depression.

Frederick Haines

Field Marshal Sir Frederick Paul Haines (10 August 1819 – 11 June 1909) was a British Army officer. He fought in the First Anglo-Sikh War, in the Second Anglo-Sikh War and then in the Crimean War: during the latter conflict at the Battle of Inkerman, he held an important barrier on the post road guarding the approach to the 2nd Division camp for six hours. He served in India during the Indian Rebellion before becoming Commanding Officer of the 8th Regiment of Foot in the United Kingdom and then Commander of a Brigade in Ireland. He went on to be General Officer Commanding the Mysore Division of the Madras Army and then Quartermaster-General to the Forces in the United Kingdom. He returned to India to become Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army in May 1871 and then Commander-in-Chief, India in April 1876: he commanded the forces in India during the Second Anglo-Afghan War and successfully argued for a large force being made available before mobilisation occurred, but once the war started the Governor-General of India, Lord Lytton, was inclined to by-pass Haines and deal direct with commanders in the field, causing friction between the two men.

Gustavus Hume (soldier)

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Gustavus Hume (25 February 1826 – 16 June 1891) was a soldier in the British Army who served during the Crimean War (1854–56) and the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He took part in the Battle of the Alma, during which he was wounded, the Battle of Inkerman, the Siege of Sebastopol, and others. He was present at the Siege of Lucknow during the mutiny. He was later adjutant and lieutenant of the Queen's Body Guard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1880.

Horace Seymour

Colonel Sir Horace Beauchamp Seymour KCH (22 November 1791 – 23 November 1851) was a Peelite Member of Parliament for Lisburn 1819–26, Orford (1820), Bodmin (1826–32), Midhurst (1841–45), Antrim (1845–47), and Lisburn 1847–51. He was an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Horace Seymour was the son of Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour (son of Francis Seymour-Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford) and Lady Anne Horatia Waldegrave. He married, firstly, Elizabeth Malet Palk, daughter of Sir Lawrence Palk, 2nd Baronet and granddaughter of Robert Palk, on 15 May 1818. He married, secondly, Frances Selina Isabella Poyntz, daughter of William Stephen Poyntz and Hon. Elizabeth Mary Browne, in July 1835.

By his first wife he had three children;

Lt.-Col. Charles Francis Seymour (13 September 1819 – 5 November 1854), killed at the Battle of Inkerman

Frederick Beauchamp Paget Seymour, 1st Baron Alcester (12 April 1821 – 30 March 1895)

Adelaide Horatia Elizabeth Seymour (27 January 1825 – 29 October 1877), who married Frederick Spencer, 4th Earl Spencer, and was an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Hundred of Inkerman

The Hundred of Inkerman is a cadastral unit of hundred located on the northern Adelaide Plains in South Australia and bounded on the north by the Wakefield River. It is one of the eight hundreds of the County of Gawler. It was named in 1856 by Governor Richard MacDonnell after the Crimean War Battle of Inkerman.The following localities and towns of the Wakefield Council area are situated inside (or largely inside) the bounds of the Hundred of Inkerman:

Wild Horse Plains (northern half)


Kallora (western half)

Proof Range

Port Wakefield

Bowmans (southern half)

Inkerman, County Durham

Inkerman was a village in County Durham, England. It was situated a short distance to the north-west of Tow Law. Originated as a village of ironstone miners, it was built in 1854-1855 and named after the victorious Battle of Inkerman of the Crimean War, similarly to Balaclava, another County Durham village. In 1930s the mining in the area went into liquidation, and the village was demolished in 1938.

Inkerman, South Australia

Inkerman is a locality in South Australia beside Port Wakefield Road between Port Wakefield and Dublin. The town is named for the Hundred of Inkerman, the cadastral unit at the centre of which the town lies. The hundred was named in 1856 by proclamation of Governor Richard MacDonnell after the Crimean War Battle of Inkerman.

Inkerman Parish, New Brunswick

Inkerman is a Canadian parish in Gloucester County, New Brunswick. The local service district of the same name, which included only part of the parish, was incorporated into the Regional Municipality of Grand Tracadie–Sheila on July 1, 2014, causing some misunderstanding of its status.

The parish is named after the Battle of Inkerman in the Crimean War.

James Gorman (VC)

James Gorman VC (21 August 1834 – 18 October 1882) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Gorman was 20 years old, and a seaman in the Naval Brigade of the Royal Navy during the Crimean War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 5 November 1854 at the Battle of Inkerman, Crimea, when the Right Lancaster Battery was attacked and many of the soldiers were wounded, Seaman Gorman, with two other seamen (Thomas Reeves and Mark Scholefield) and two others who were killed during the action, mounted the defence work banquette and, under withering attack from the enemy, kept up a rapid, repulsing fire. Their muskets were re-loaded for them by the wounded soldiers under the parapet and eventually the enemy fell back and gave no more trouble.He later served in the Second Anglo-Chinese War and achieved the rank of Captain of the AfterGuard. He is buried in the Old Balmain Cemetery, Norton Street, Leichhardt, New South Wales, Australia. Which in 1944 was closed and converted to a public park, "Pioneers Memorial Park". There is a plaque in his memory on the War Memorial in Loyalty Square, Balmain.

John Byrne (VC)

John Byrne, (September 1832 – 10 July 1879) was a British Army soldier and an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

John McDermond

John McDermond VC (1832 – 22 July 1868) was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

John Pennefather

For the Conservative politician, see Sir John Pennefather, 1st Baronet.General Sir John Lysaght Pennefather GCB (9 September 1798 – 9 May 1872) was a British soldier who won two very remarkable victories. First, at Meanee, India, where it was said that 500 British soldiers defeated 35,000 Indians. Secondly, at the Battle of Inkerman, 5 November 1854 during the Crimean War, where he commanded a division of 3,000 soldiers fighting in the fog were said to have defeated 35,000 Russians.

Lord William Paulet

Field Marshal Lord William Paulet, (7 July 1804 – 9 May 1893) was a senior British Army officer. During the Crimean War he served as Assistant Adjutant-General of the Cavalry Division, under Lord Lucan, at the Battle of Alma in September 1854, at the Battle of Balaklava in October 1854 and at the Battle of Inkerman in November 1854 as well as at the Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. He was then given command of the rear area, including the Bosphorus, Gallipoli and the Dardanelles before returning to England. He later became Commander of the 1st Brigade at Aldershot in 1856, General Officer Commanding South-West District in 1860 and finally Adjutant-General to the Forces in 1865.

Lourmel (Paris Métro)

Lourmel is a station on line 8 of the Paris Métro in the 15th arrondissement.

The station was opened on 27 July 1937 as part of the extension of line 8 from La Motte-Picquet - Grenelle to Balard. The station is named after the Rue de Lourmel, named after General Frédéric Henri Le Normand de Lourmel, who was killed at the Battle of Inkerman where the Franco-British armies defeated the Russian armies under Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov during the Crimean War.

Sir Robert Newman, 1st Baronet

Sir Robert William Newman, 1st Baronet (18 August 1776 – 24 January 1848) was a British Whig politician. He was elected as one of the two Members of Parliament (MPs) for Bletchingley at a by-election in December 1812.

He held that seat until the 1818 general election, when he was returned for Exeter,

and held the seat until the 1826 general election, which he did not contest.He was created a baronet of Stokeley and of Mamhead in the County of Devon in 1836. He died aged 71 and was succeeded by Sir Robert Lydston Newman, 2nd Baronet killed in action at the battle of Inkerman.

Vaughan Vaughan-Lee

Vaughan Hanning Vaughan-Lee (25 February 1836 – 7 July 1882) was an English Conservative Party politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1874 to 1882.

Vaughan-Lee was born Lee, the son of John Lee Lee of Dillington House, Ilminster and his first wife Jessy Edwards-Vaughan, daughter of John Edwards-Vaughan of Rheola. His father and maternal grandfather were MPs for Wells at the same time. (Vaughan-) Lee was educated at Eton College and joined the Royal Scots Fusiliers (21st) in 1854.

He took part in the Crimean War in 1854 to 1855 including the Battle of Alma, the Battle of Inkerman, the Siege of Sevastopol and the attack on the redan and Kinbourn. He was promoted to lieutenant in December 1854 and was wounded twice. In 1858, he became a captain and in 1859 retired from the army. He was a major in the Glamorganshire Light Infantry Militia, and a captain in the West Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry.

He was a J.P. and Deputy Lieutenant for Glamorgan and Somerset and was High Sheriff of Glamorgan in 1871. In 1874 he assumed the additional surname Vaughan.At the 1874 general election Vaughan-Lee was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for West Somerset. He held the seat until his death at the age of 46 in 1882.Vaughan-Lee married Clara Elizabeth Moore, daughter of George Moore of Appleby Hall, Leicestershire in 1861.

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