Welsford-Parker Monument

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Welsford-Parker Monument, Halifax, Nova Scotia by George Lang (builder) (1860)
Inauguration of the Welsford-Parker Monument, 17 July 1860

The Welsford-Parker Monument (also known as the Crimean War monument or Sevastopol Monument) is a triumphal arch that is located in the Old Burial Ground, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. This is the 2nd oldest war monument in Canada (1860) (Montcalm-Wolfe Monument in Québec City erected in 1828) and the only monument to the Crimean War in North America. The arch and lion were built in 1860 by stone sculptor George Lang to commemorate British victory in the Crimean war and the Nova Scotians who had fought in the war.

Britain and France invaded the Crimea and decided to destroy the Russian naval base at the capital 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. To traverse the 35 miles, the British forces fought for a year against the Russians. Inscribed on the monument are names of the battles the British army fought to reach the capital: "Alma" (September 1854), "Balaklava" (October 1854), "Inkerman" (November 1854), "Tchernaya" (August 1855), "Redan" (September 1855), and, finally, "Sebastopol" (September 1855). (During the siege, the British navy made six bombardments of the capital: October 17, 1854; April 9, June 6, June 17, August 17, and September 5, 1855.) Sebastopol is one of the classic sieges of all time.[1] The culminating struggle for the strategic Russian port in 1854-5 was the final bloody episode in the costly Crimean War.

During the Victorian Era, these battles were repeatedly memorialized. The Siege of Sevastopol was the subject of Crimean soldier Leo Tolstoy's Sebastopol Sketches and the subject of the first Russian feature film, Defence of Sevastopol. The Battle of Balaklava was made famous by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and Robert Gibb's painting Thin Red Line. (Treating the wounded from these battles was celebrated English nurse Florence Nightingale.)

The Nova Scotia memorial is named after two Haligonians, Major Augustus F. Welsford of the 97th Regiment and Captain William B.C.A. Parker of the 77 Regiment, who both died in the Battle of the Great Redan in 1855 during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855), in present-day Ukraine. The monument was unvieled on 17 July 1860.

During March and April 1855, Nova Scotian Joseph Howe worked tiredlessly to recruit troops for the war effort.[2]

Battle at the Great Redan[edit]

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Attack on the Great Redan by Robert Alexander Hillingford

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.

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. The Allied troops were easily driven back to their fortification where they stayed for the next two and a half months.

During the second siege, the Battle at the Redan, Nova Scotians Welsford and Parker were on the frontline. The attack was directed against the Redan in two columns. General Sir John Campbell led the left attack with 500 men of the 4th Division and a reserve of 800 under Colonel Lord West; Cornel Yea with a smilar 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.

Under the command of Brigadier Charles Ash Windham,[3] on 8 Sept. 1855, Welsford commanded a ladder party in the initial wave the assault on the Great Redan. He crossed a broad open space of 400 meters 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.[4] The other Nova Scotian officer, William Buck Carthew Augustus Parker also crossed the 400 meter 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.[5]

Major Welsford[edit]

Major Augustus Welsford was a native of Halifax. He attended the Halifax Grammar School. He afterwards went to the University of King's College, Windsor. On leaving college he purchased a commission and was gazetted as Ensign to the Ninety-fifth Regiment in February, 1832, became Lieutenant in 1834, obtained his Company in 1838, and was promoted to a Majority in 1850. On the return of the regiment from Corfu about 1848, Major Welsford resumed his acquaintance with his old friends. He was a member of the St. George's Society of Halifax and equally esteemed.

When the 97th Regiment was ordered to England he accompanied the regiment, and after having spent some little time at Chobham camp went to Greece, in the latter part of the year 1854. Colonel Lockyer having been suddenly promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General, the command of the regiment devolved on Major Welsford for some time during the trying winter before Sevastopol.

The Ninety-seventh had furnished three hundred and sixty men — one hundred and sixty for the ladder, and two hundred for the storming party. The former were under the command of Major Welsford, who had always been ambitious to take a foremost part in the assault. As early as six o'clock a.m. the regiment paraded, and each party marched to their respective stations. Eight men were told off to each ladder, and they had orders only to leave the trench when the appointed signal was given from the Malakolff.

Major Welsford waited six hours before the French were victorious. He ordered "ladders to the front." The troops rushed toward the Redan, and reaching the deep ditch, placed their ladders and scaled the parapets in the face of a murderous fire. The storming column followed on. As Welsford led his men, and was endeavoring to enter the ranks, his head was severed from his body. "It was a bitter hour for us all" wrote one of the Sergeants of his regiment," when the poor Major's body was brought back to us. Had he lived he would have been crowned with laurels. Let us hope he has won a brighter crown now." [6]

Captain Parker[edit]

Storming of The Great Redan, Sevastopol 1855

Captain Parker was born in Lawrencetown, Halifax County, Nova Scotia, was educated at the Horton Academy, and obtained a commission in October 1839. He was gazetted as Ensign to the same regiment in which his father had obtained his company, and was for a short time stationed at Halifax. He was a member of the Saint George's Society.[7] In February 1843, Parker became Lieutenant, and was transferred to the Seventy-eighth Highlanders. For twelve years he served in India, and was promoted as Captain to the Seventy-seventh Regiment in January 1855. He enjoyed this rank for only a few months.

Photo of the Great Redan after abandoned by the Russians by James Robertson

On September 3 he accompanied Captain Pechell[8] of the same regiment to post some sentinels in the advanced trench near the Redan; the whole party, with the exception of Captain Parker and one man, was killed by the enemy. As he sent this man to report the circumstance, a number of Russians rushed out from the ranks to make him a prisoner, whereupon he ably defended himself, shooting two of them with his revolver, and eventually succeeding in bringing into the camp the body of his friend.

For his conduct on this occasion he is said to have received the thanks of General Raglan commanding the Light Division, and was recommended for the Victoria Cross. This brave soldier fell in the final attack on the Redan on September 8, in the thirty-fifth year of his age, leaving a widow and three infant children to lament his death.[9]

The Russians abandoned the Great Redan in the early morning of 9 September.

Nova Scotians in the Crimean War[edit]

Legacy[edit]

Sandstone lion sculpted by George Lang

The builder of the Welsford-Parker Monument George Lang also built the Federal Building in Halifax (what is now the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia). The larger than life twelve ton lion stands atop the Roman triumphal arch created from Albert County, New Brunswick sandstone. The arch and lion were carved by George Lang.[13]

The monument was unvieled on 17 July 1860. The ceremony was attended by all the Halifax and Dartmouth Volunteer Companies, particularly those of the Halifax Volunteer Battalion.,[14] a large number of the Masonic body, and various public officials. His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Mulgrave and Rev. George Hill, the Orator of the day. Major General Charles Trollope and Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet also made a few remarks.[15]

Major Welsford is also the namesake of Welsford, New Brunswick, Welsford in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Welsford in Kings County, Nova Scotia. (Alma, New Brunswick is named after the Crimean War Battle of Alma.) Welsford Street and Parker Street in Halifax (off Windsor St.) are both named in honour of these two men who died in the war.[16] Welsford was also the namesake of the Welsford Rangers (1860-1865) of River John (Welsford Village) in Pictou County, Nova Scotia.

At Kings College Welsford was a contributor to the incorporated association of the Alumni. His name is blended for the future with this seat of learning, by the foundation of a prize annually competed for by the students in their first year ; and as each anniversary of his death occurs his gallant and loyal deeds are commemorated in Latin, and in the same hall where his voice was once a familiar sound, the President of the University presents the successful candidate with the Welsford Testimonial Prize (now known as the The Almon-Welsford Testimonial Prize), founded by his old friend and classmate Dr. William Johnston Almon.[17]

References[edit]

Texts

Endnotes

  1. ^ H.C. Elphinstone .Siege OF SEBASTOPOL 1854-55: Journal of the Operations Conducted by the Corps of Royal Engineers. 2003
  2. ^ During March and April 1855 he engaged in a “recruiting” mission to the United States; according to him, he simply made known the conditions of acceptance to those who voluntarily offered their services and he did not break the American neutrality laws. But he himself admitted that, if ordered to violate the policy of any foreign state in order to assist “the gallant fellows in the Crimea . . . , I would have obeyed without a moment’s hesitation,” and there is evidence to suggest that he did commit such violations even without express instructions from his superiors.
  3. ^ Canadian Biography Online - Windham; 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 September 8th 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.
  4. ^ Augustus Welsford - Canadian Biography Online
  5. ^ Augustus Welsford - Canadian Biography Online
  6. ^ http://archive.org/stream/cihm_02016/cihm_02016_djvu.txt P. 391
  7. ^ See http://www.royalstgeorgessocietyhalifax.org/
  8. ^ See Captain Pechell
  9. ^ http://archive.org/stream/cihm_02016/cihm_02016_djvu.txt P. 391
  10. ^ States, p. 73-74
  11. ^ Robert Blackman. Bandmaster William Blackman: Soldier of the Queen. Nova Scotia Historical Review. 118-128
  12. ^ History of Nova Scotia
  13. ^ Old Burying Ground Foundation, The Restoration of the Old Burying Ground and the Welsford Parker Monument Fundraising Appeal 1988
  14. ^ For history of the volunteer companies see History of the Halifax volunteer battalion and volunteer companies: 1859–1887 By Thomas J. Egan
  15. ^ Acadian Recorder for 21 July 1860
  16. ^ Street Names of Halifax
  17. ^ "Nova Scotia in its historical, mercantile and industrial relations" p. 391

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 44°38′37″N 63°34′21″W / 44.64352°N 63.57248°W / 44.64352; -63.57248