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‘Trenches before the Redan’ by Robertson/Beato

As a follow-on from yesterday’s post, blog readers may be interested in another James Robertson/Felice Beato (see Beato’s portrait right) Crimean War photograph that was taken in the same vicinity as 8 Gun Battery and most likely on the same day. The image in the Royal Collection is entitled The Trenches before the Redan (see below) and its description is: -

Photograph of the trenches in front of the Redan after the fall of Sevastopol. In the foreground there is a grassy hill with several large piles of stones. Trenches can faintly be seen in the valley behind. The British made two unsuccessful attacks on the Redan fortification, a Russian stronghold, during the Siege of Sevastopol. The siege eventually ended on 8th September 1855 when the French captured the nearby Malakoff redoubt, forcing the Russians to abandon the city.

The Trenches before the Redan shows the view north-northwest along the west-facing slope of the Vorontsov Ridge on the British Right Attack. It looks towards the Sevastopol district of Karabelnaya where the military barracks seen in 8-Gun Battery were located. These barracks are visible in the distance on the far left with Sevastopol’s roadstead and the north shore beyond. As in 8 Gun Battery, the Black Sea is on the skyline. The Redan itself is not in view. However, the curtain wall that climbs up the slope to the bastion from the Middle/Karabelnaya Ravine is on the far left to the immediate left of the barracks. The Malahkov bastion is in view in the distance on the far right with its dark-coloured earth walls protecting batteries stretching along its relatively flat summit.

Closer to the camera, the line of the British 3rd Parallel trench line runs along the brow of a ridge on the left as it did in 8 Gun Battery. This trench continues further to the right where it disappears behind a much closer earth wall with embrasures that shows it is a gun battery. Military maps tell us that this is the seven-gun ‘Battery No 14’ on the British 2nd Parallel. This battery merged with the eight-gun ‘Battery No. 9’ to its northeast. Lower down the slope from ‘Battery No 14’ in the centre of the picture is the four-gun ‘Battery No. 13’, the subject of the 8 Gun Battery. Lower down still on the far left is ‘Battery No. 12’, which carried mortars. Between ‘Battery No. 12’ and ‘Battery No.13’, the communication trench also seen in 8 Gun Battery connects the 2nd Parallel with the 3rd Parallel. Even closer to the camera at centre, military maps show us that this trench divides after passing through the 2nd Parallel with the two sections re-joining after a short distance. The course of the divided trench is revealed by the lines of earth walls. The large mound of earth on the right beyond the long pile of stones that stretches up the slope from Robertson’s signature at lower left is associated with ‘Battery No. 7’ which contained two mortars. It was here that Robertson/Beato most likely took 8 Gun Battery.

Again, it is significant what historical information can be gleaned from Crimean War photographs with the aid of military maps and a knowledge of the topography. The section of a French map (see below) shows the location of all the batteries and trenches mentioned above with the red line indicating the probable location of the camera and the direction it was pointing when taking 8 Gun Battery.

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