Battle of the Great Redan

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Battle of the Great Redan
Part of the Crimean War
AttackOnRedanByRobertHillingford1899.jpg
'Attack on the Great Redan by Robert Alexander Hillingford
Date 8 September 1855
Location Sevastopol, Russia
Result Russian victory
Belligerents
British Empire British Empire Russia Russian Empire
Flag of the First Bulgarian Legion, 1862 Bulgarian Legion
Commanders and leaders
British Empire James Simpson
British Empire General Sir John Campbell  
British Empire Colonel Lord West
British Empire Colonel Lacy Yea 
Russia Mikhail Dmitrievich Gorchakov
Strength
35,000 men 12,000 men
Casualties and losses
6,000 killed and wounded 1,500 killed and wounded

The Battle of the Great Redan was a major battle during the Crimean War, fought between British forces against Russia on 18 June and 8 September 1855 as a part of the Siege of Sevastopol. The French army successfully stormed the Malakoff redoubt, whereas a simultaneous British attack on the Great Redan to the south of the Malakoff was repulsed. Contemporary commentators have suggested that, although the Redan became so important to the Victorians, it was probably not vital to the taking of Sebastopol. The fort at Malakhov was much more important and it was in the French sphere of influence. It was when the French stormed it after an eleven-month siege that the final, somewhat unnecessary attack on the Redan was made.[1]

Background[edit]

Britain, France and Ottomans invaded the Crimea and decided to destroy the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. They landed at Eupatoria on 14 September 1854, intending to make a 35 mile triumphal march to Sevastopol the capital of the Crimea, with 50,000 men. The Great Russian Redan (Bastion #3) was one of the large Russian fortifications that ringed the city of Sebastopol. The Redan was the centre of the defences the British forces were attacking. It became a symbol of the attempt to capture the city and eventually a symbol of its fall.

First Siege[edit]

The British made two unsuccessful attacks on the Redan. The first attack was on 18 June when a massive assault was made on the Redan, but failed. 2,000 British soldiers reported killed, including General Sir John Campbell. The Allied troops were easily driven back to their fortification where they stayed for the next two and a half months.

Second Siege[edit]

British attack the Great Redan

During the second siege, the attack was directed against the Redan in two columns. General Campbell led the left attack with 500 men of the 4th Division and a reserve of 800 under Colonel Lord West; Colonel Yea with a similar force from the Light Division led the right. General Campbell on the left was killed before he could get a few yards beyond the parapet of the forward trench.

The charge was under the command of Brigadier Charles Ash Windham (known as the Hero of the Redan). In the face of devastating Russian fire, he was the only officer to penetrate the battery. For 'his distinguished conduct in having with the greatest intrepidity and coolness headed the column of attack which assaulted the enemy's defences', he was made a major-general.[2]

Major Augusta Welsford commanded a ladder party in the initial wave the assault on the Great Redan. He crossed a broad open space of 400 metres while against a hail of bullets. He made it to a ditch in front of the work and proceeded to climb one of the ladders which had been placed against the counterscarp. As he rose above the lip of an embrasure at the top, a gun was fired from within which blew his head off. Welsford was highly regarded in his regiment.[3]

The other Nova Scotian officer, William Buck Carthew Augustus Parker also crossed the 400 metres field under fire, successfully scaled the counterscarp, got inside the work, and made a vain attempt to stem the mounting British retreat before a hail of bullets swept him into the ditch.[4]

Another hero of this attack was Lieutenant-General William Godfrey Dunham Massy, C.B. "Redan Massy" - to give the gallant colonel of the 5th Lancers the sobriquet by which the British Army best knows him - entered the service in October 1854. Going out to the Crimea he joined the troops before Sebastopol, and was under fire at the battle of Tchernaya. He commanded the Grenadiers of the 19th Foot at the assault on the Redan on 8 September 1855, where his extreme gallantry won him the admiration of all England. In the attack he was dangerously wounded by a bullet which shattered his left thigh, received other less serious wounds, and was left wounded on the field, with the result that the night after the assault he fell into the hands of the Russians. They, however, believing him mortally wounded, did not trouble to remove him. Brought back some hours later to the British camp, Lieutenant Massy, as the gallant general then was, for nearly six months was confined to his camp stretcher, his fortitude and patient endurance, coupled with the splendid heroism he had shown at the attack on the Redan, winning him recommendation from the Commander in Chief in a special despatch and promotion to Captain

Legacy[edit]

Welsford-Parker Monument, Halifax, Nova Scotia - a monument to the soldiers who died in the Battle of the Great Redan
  • namesake of the vessel "Hero of the Redan"
  • namesake of redan holes in golf course architecture;
  • The Redan Inn (now The Quarterdeck) in North Berwick
  • Redan Inn in Chilcompton, Somerset
  • Redan Street, Shepherd's Bush, London
  • The Redan [Pub], corner of Queensway and Westbourne Grove, London W2; its sign carries an illustration of the battle
  • The Redan public house on Thorpe Road in Norwich was originally named The Hero of the Redan, in reference to Major-General Charles Ashe Windham
  • The Redan, an area of Maryhill, Glasgow former pub called 'The Redan' on Maryhill Road, Glasgow
  • The monument to the British soldiers that was erected on site of the battle field the following year was destroyed in WW2[5]

Also see[edit]

British Monument on the site of the Battle of the Great Redan - built 1856; destroyed in WW2

Links[edit]

References[edit]

Endnotes

Literature

  • Charles Ashe Windham: A Norfolk Soldier (1810-1870) by H.O. Mansfield
  • Attack on the Redan by Garry Kilworth