1 2 s.x. APRILS, 1922.] NOTES AND QUERIES. 265 Every possible means were employed to get the ship off, by passing overboard guns, shot, anchors and other heavy materials ; one anchor was laid out to seaward and the cable brought to the capstan, at which as many men as could find room employed their utmost strength, aided at the same time by the reversed action of the paddle- wheels moved by the full steam power. Feeling sure that little time would elapse before our posi- tion became known to the enemy, on whose coast we were thus unfortunately thrown, I quietly proceeded to prepare for the reception of wounded men and got all things ready as for general action, and it was not long before my anticipations were effectually realized, as about 9 o'clock a sharp fire of musketry was opened upon us from the cliff and the rattle of the small arms was soon intermingled with the louder report of the more destructive heavy ordnance, every one of which was attended by a simul- taneous crash on board, as shot or shell came tearing through the spars and rigging or plunging through our decks. The first few shots were directed towards the masts, but on obtaining a better range a dis- charge of shell upon our almost defenceless decks was kept up so vigorously that the ship was shortly on fire in two places, and the Captain and four others brought below, dangerously wounded, from the forecastle, where an endeavour was being made to repel this attack with a solitary gun ; the others having been thrown overboard, or in positions unavailable for the defence of the ship. As the Captain was being carried below he gave the order to discontinue firing and the men to retire to the shelter of the main deck, also that the Russian flag should be hoisted in token of surrender and that one of the Lieutenants should go on shore to inform the Officer in command of the troops : any further resistance would only have entailed a greater effusion of blood without any possible advantage accruing. Having de- livered these orders he requested to know the nature and extent of his wounds, and on hearing he must lose one leg, he only suggested the use of chloroform. Before I had completed these latter operations the cannonade had ceased and I felt able to breathe with more freedom. . . . After a short interval, during which those operated on had in a great measure rallied from the imme- diate shock, a peremptory order from the shore warned us to leave the ship : this command was accompanied by a hint to make haste or the firing would recommence, a very unnecessary admonition as the ship was already on fire in two places and the instant removal of everybody was but too evident. The last boat that left the ship conveyed our wounded Captain, who expressed a wish that all the others should be landed before him. On reaching the beach, a scene of indescribable confusion presented itself ; besides the soldiers, there was a vast multitude who had assembled from the town of Odessa to witness the action, and among these were a number of ruffianly Greek sailors who seized upon the boats as the crew landed from them and went off to the burning ship for the sake of plunder. This, however, was more fortunate for us than otherwise, for many articles of plunder that these rascals had obtained from the wreck were afterwards re- stored to us by the police authorities, who marched them all off to 14 days' Quarantine as they re- landed, and made them disgorge their ill-gotten, booty. The fog now cleared off sufficiently to expose to view the two steamers that had sailed in our company on the previous day ; but their appear- ance at this moment was the cause of still further misfortune to us. They opened a heavy fire upon the shore as soon as they got within range, and both friends and foes were for a time exposed to equal danger. Finding an Officer to whom I could make known my wishes, through the medium of the French language, that the wounded might be permitted to proceed with the rest of the crew, I was told that every attention would be shewn them and carriages provided to convey them at once to the Hospital. I was obliged to leave them to their fate and rejoined the Captain, who was borne upon the shoulders of his own boat's crew who had brought him ashore, and by whom he was carried up to the town ; the other wounded were left for some time xipon the beach as the men who brought them on shore were driven away up the cliff immediately on landing. After some delay in unpleasant proximity to the bursting of occa- sional shells from the Vesuvius we were marched off under escort towards the town, having first to make a long detour inland to avoid the bom- bardment from the two ships in the offing. The distance to Odessa being about five miles, it was nearly 5 o'clock before the journey was accomplished, though a waggon was procured on which the Captain was conveyed a part of the way, but the jolting being too painful to bear, he was again taken on the men's shoulders and in this manner conveyed into the town, where commodious quarters were allotted in the Quaran- tine establishment. Here he was visited by General Osten-Sacken, who assured him that nothing should be wanting to render his position as comfortable as possible, and that further, that whatever might be wanted in the way of medi- cines or necessaries, that a requisition from me would be immediately attended to, and this attention was carried out to the very smallest article, so that in the course of the evening wax candles were substituted for others of a more humble quality. By the time I had got the Captain to bed . . . the rest of the wounded arrived, and from Tanner, who was the least injured, I learnt that they had remained upon the beach a long time without any assistance or a drop of water to assuage their parching thirst, aggravated as it was by a hot sun to which they had been exposed from the time of their landing. Mr. Giffard and Trainer had both died from exhaustion, and the sufferings of poor Hood had been intense, but though his wounds were of a mortal nature he survived till the following day. There was nothing in the character or gravity of Captain Giffard's wounds to lead me to anticipate any other but a favourable result, had his health at the time not been impaired by an attack of Ague as recent as two days previous to their infliction ; to this was added an extreme depression of spirits that no efforts of myself or his friends could arouse, aided as we were by
Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 10.djvu/327
This page needs to be proofread.