New book of soldier's letters
Letters sent home from Wakefield Soldiers during the Crimean WarA collection of letters sent home from Wakefield men to their friends and families from the Siege of Sebastopol, from both the Army and Navy.
Oddly this collection includes no letters from Yorkshire Regiments, such as the 19th (Green Howards) or 33rd (Duke of Wellington's). There are also only two sets of correspondance from an Officer, which contradicts the assumed levels of literacy of the Other Ranks, that they did not or could not write home and also challenges the assumption that it was largely the officers who wrote home. This collection of letters from Wakefield and a cursory study of letters published in the Leeds Mercury and the Huddersfield Chronicle suggests that the ORs (from Private to Colour Sergeant) were frequently writing home to their families, detailing their daily lives and experiences in often graphic detail as well as criticisng their officers and also newspapers such as The Times, often coming to the defence of Lord Raglan (whom The Times portrayed as hauty and out of touch with his men). Uniquely there are letters from a bandsman.
The scope of the letters includes the army in Bulgaria, accounts of the battles of the Alma and Inkerman, the winter 1854-1855 and also the fall of Sebastopol. The letters of the Barnsley-born Sergeant James Wallis cover his arrival in the Crimea, the Alma, Winter 1854-1855, the first attack (18 June 1855), the final assault and mopping up during winter 1855-1856; the letters of 'An anonymous young [Naval] officer' give a fascinating insight into the daily life of a naval officer and how officers of differant services viewed each other.
Below are the details of the men, their units and place of residence in this collection:
|John Ainsley||Private||68th Durham Light Infantry||Wakefield|
|William Baines||Private||30th (East Devonshire)||Wakefield|
|John Burgoyne||Private||23d (Royal Welch Fusiliers)||Wakefield|
|Robert Crawford||Private||28th (North Gloucester)||Wakefield|
|James Evans||?||Rifle Brigade||Barnsley|
|Samuel Evans||Private||Scots Fusilier Guards(1st Battn)||Wakefield|
|George Firth||Private||4th (Kings Own)|
|James Greenwood||Bandsman||34th (Cumberland)||Barnsley|
|Hincliffe||Sergeant||2nd Battn. Rifle Brigade||Wakefield|
|William Hamlet Floyd||Private||23rd (Royal Welch Fusiliers)||Wakefield|
|George Haigh||Bombardier||Royal Artillery||Wakefield|
|William Leache||Private||Royal Sappers and Miners||Barnsley|
|John Murray||Private||23rd (Royal Welch Fusiliers)||Wakefield|
|Edwin Peat||Gunner||Royal Artillery||Barnsley|
|William Pegman||Private||54th (West Norfolk)||Barnsley|
|William Shelley||Corporal||34th (Cumberland), Light Company||Wakefield|
|John Sidebottom||Private||Royal Marines||Wakefield|
|John Swift||Corporal||34th (Cumberland)||Barnsley|
|James Wallis||Sergeant||2nd Battn. Rifle Brigade||Barnsley|
|Samuel Weale||Corporal||30th (Cambridgeshire)||Wakefield|
|Anon||Officer||21st (Royal North British Fusiliers)||Wakefield|
There appears to be strong recruiting links between Wakefield and the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment and Barnsley.
I hope to follow up this volume with "White Roses Before Sebastopol: letters fromWest Yorkshire men in the Crimean War" based on letters in the Leeds Mercury, Huddersfield Chronicle, Sheffiled Independent and the York Herald.