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George Frederick 'Fred' Dallas wrote 137 letters to his family and friends while on active service in the Crimea. A company commander in the 46th Foot, his first letters reflect a soldier's enthusiasm for the 'brilliant affair' that awaits the British Army overseas. Within weeks of arriving, excitement turns to disbelief at the continual misjudgement of his leaders. Poor preparation and divided command exposed the troops to surprise attacks from 'The Russe', and to the appalling conditions of the Crimean winter. By contrast, Dallas' reports on the casual bravery of his comrades recognise the true heroes of a mismanaged campaign.
Through these letters we relive the terrible perils of combat and siege warfare: the author's almost miraculous escape from serious injury, whilst continually witnessing his comrades' slaughter; the monotony of being entrenched in Sebastopol; the 'utter confusion' surrounding instructions to attack; the mistakes at Inkermann and the Redan; the wearying cold. We also get an insight into the quieter moments in camp and the friendships forged between the men.
Supplemented by the editor's excellent footnotes and detailed biographical index, this is a revealing and intimate history of all those involved in the Crimean War.
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