Letter addressed to Joseph Cuthbert's wife and parents, located in the Leicestershire Records Office.
It was first published in May 1995 `For the Record' No 22 by Robin Jenkins.
Originally deposited as 16056, it was subsequently withdrawn by the depositor.
The letter now survives as a photocopy just as it was written by Farrier Cuthbert
4th Light Dragoons, Joseph Cuthbert’s Letter.
`By Your kind wish, I now sit down to write a few lines to you sincerely hoping they will find you all quite well, as regards myself, l have been very unwell for some time with diarhoea which is very prevalent with us I can assure you, Now in the first place I received a letter from Brother Andrew some time ago also I received a letter from my Brother John on the 17th of November I thought of you all on my Birthday and wish’d you many returns of the Day.
Now I will Commence my long ramble in the first place when we landed on the Crimea we proceeded hence in fighting Order for Sebastopol, after a few days March we Arriv’d at Alma this was Our first Obstacle we had to Contend with, the Russians had taken up a beautiful position, we could discern them some two miles distance before we came under the range of the Guns we still went on without thought or care of what our End might be, the Enemy kept pouring shot and shell in us in abundance, we still advancing and never stop’d until we outflank’d them, and Charg’d them. Even to the very mouth of their Guns, took them and they retired in great disorder, the loss of the allies 1500 men, killed and wounded, the Russians loss 6000 Killed and wounded
and Prisoners, the Cavalry did nothing worthy of notice, but was on the ground, only one part of the Army was Engaged.
I will now proceed again leaving Alma Strewn with the Dead, we continued our route without being Molested for some days short of Every thing Thousands of times I long’d for a drink of Newton water. I would almost have sacrificed my life for a piece of dry bread and clear water now at the present moment the water we get is thick and muddy, such that the People of England Could not drink, but I forget I am running away from my story at last we arrived at Sebastopol within range of their Guns, their 68 pounders used to drop in our lines amongst the Horses which Kept us moving our Camp nearly Every day and we never fired a shot until! the 17th of October, we commenced laying siege to Sebastopol and we arrived in front of the Town on the 23d of September 24 days we lay doing nothing but getting up the siege train and they have been battering at the Town Ever since with
On the 25th of October the Russians sallied forth with vigour took two batteries of Guns from the Turks and advanced right into our lines (the Cavalry) we had to retire at a Gallop, these where a body of Cossacks after retiring we collected together, and the Heavy Brigade of Cavalry Charged them and slew them in numbers we had no Artillery with us or we would have killed them all, we had only one Infantry Reight. 93rd. Highlanders we drove them back and retook the batteries, two men Killed in that Charge and about Twenty wounded, during this Charge they attacked us in another point the Enemy 20 to one against us, the light brigade of Cavalry was then brought into action, and a serious Conflict took place, there was very bad Generalship attending it, the light Cavalry was completely cutt up Our Regt. lost 80 Horses and a great many men in fact the light Regts. were all alike, there was five light Regts. we all made a Charge down a Valley and Russian batteries of Artillery playing from both sides upon us, besides Columns of Infantry pouring volleys Into us, My Assistant was the first man fell in Our Regt., l Escaped thank God, my Horse was shot Dead with a Six Pound shot, fifteen men Killed and wounded out of my Troop, the whole of the light Cavalry can muster more than one whole Reg. now.
So I will leave you to guess the state of Affairs I came out with 62 Horses in my Troop, I have now 32 we remained quiet again up till the 5th of Novr. which happen’d on a Sunday at 4A.M. they rush’d on our outline picquet, which happen'd to be the foot Guards (the Coldstreams) the Russians came out 60,000 strong, 9000 with Artillery, had to face them the Guards lost 350 men the hardest fight Ever known a dreadful slaughter, after 6 Hours fighting they were driven back with a loss of 12,000 men, the Allies 2000 we lost a great many Generals, Dear Friends I have given you an Outline of the Engagements, I have not had a scratch yet and sincerely hope the Almighty will protect me in Every respect for without his Aid we can do nothing for his hand reacheth all the Corners of the Earth.
Dear Parents I must now reverse my subject in the first place My Dear Wife let her see this letter for I know she is anxiously waiting to hear from me, and as I mention’d before I wanted to send her some Money for I know she must think it very strange - I dont send, but the Regt. is in such Confusion. I have not receiv’d one fraction since August, nor either can I get any, I have not a farthing in the world to bless myself with nor dont Expect I shall before I get into winter quarters the weather is dreadfull cold nor I have no Change of linnen I have no socks and ragged and filthy as Possible sometimes I cannot get a wash for a week together this is Soldiering in Earnest, Salt Beef and dry Biscuit but fear not trust in the Lord, for he is the ruler of all good things, l heard a Beautiful sermon yesterday, the text (?) were in the 8th. Chapr. of Romans 28th. Verse - the rain is pouring in torrents no Covering for the Horses, I think of drawing to a Close one wish more dear Parents look to my Dear Wife, l do not now when we come to England again, she must keep up her spirits, for I do although in misery, I must conclude with my love to my Dear Wife and accept the same Yourselves yes from Your Affectionate Son.
Remember me to Mr. Kent & Mr. Crashaw & Enquiring friends
Now write soon be sure
Roberts send his love to his wife and wants her to write
Farrier Jos Cuthbert, 4 Light Dragoons Serving with the Army in Turkey.'
Thanks to Roy Mills of The Lives of the Light Brigade for passing this item on to me
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