Saturday, February 11, 2006

18May1855, Crimean Heroes

LONDON, May 18th, 1855.
—I, only think what a privilege ! went with Aunt Wenlock to see the medals given to the Crimean heroes by the Queen, bless her ! It was in the open part of the Mall, just before the Horse Guards. We went into a gallery placed here where several were erected, one above the other. We arrived before Her Majesty came, so saw the troops arriving, manoeuvring, passaging, and all the rest. Then, punctually at 11 a.m. through the Horse Guards swept a whole troop of Life Guards, who wheeling to the left joined another body, of Blues and Cuirassiers, stationed nearly just under our gallery. Then up came the Royal carriage, drew up at a sort of low platform placed here,(Illustration in original) with two gilt chairs and a flag­staff ; out stepped the little Queen, while loudly echoed the reports of cannon, and the National Anthem crashed from cymbal and drum. Everyone stood up, and inexpressibly grand it seemed to me. Then it began. The long file of wounded passed before the Queen, and as each received the medal from her own gracious hands, he passed on, and joined the other soldiers. Thus.(Illustration in original.) There were the noble grenadiers who fought at Inkermann, and the glorious few remaining from the Balaclava Light Cavalry charge. There were three wounded officers drawn in Bath chairs and seven on crutches, both men and officers. There were several hundreds, and the giving away lasted two hours. There were present Lord Cardigan and the Duke of Cam­bridge, both of whom received medals. The Duke of C. has large white whiskers, and Lord Cardigan large yellow ones. [FN: The Duke was only thirty-six at this time ; so his white whiskers are even more inexplicable than Lord Cardigan's yellow ones.] All the while the bands played different tunes, Scotch ones when the Highlanders passed, " Rule Britannia," " Hearts of Oak," etc., when the sailors came, and " The Grenadiers," etc., when the Bearskins and others passed. When all was over, the Grenadiers defiled before the Queen, to the tune of " The British Grenadier." There was but little cheering, people felt it in a different manner to what would be expressed by that. The Royal carriage came up and Her beloved Majesty drove away to the same crash as before, guns firing, bands playing " God save the Queen."

No comments: