Inkerman: The Battle Field by Moonlight

Original Text: 
Mrs. Alfred Hayward, The Battles of the Crimea (Port Hope, Canada West: J. C. Ansley, 1855), pp. 44-46. B-11 5919 Fisher Library.
2Calmly the moon's rays fell,
3Revealing as by light of day,
4That deep and lonely dell;
6Of silver graceful flowed,
7But who can paint the ghastly scene,
8Which those bright rays disclosed!
9Thickly as leaves around the path
10Through copse and brush-wood dense,
11Lay piles of dead and wounded men,
12Slain in that fierce defense.
13The fearful moan, the struggles fierce,
14The hoarse and gurgling cry
15Comes on the night wind sweeping past,
16Of mortal agony!
17Around were groups of comrades true,
18To succour those who still
19From bloody contest breathing lay,
20Upon that fatal hill.
21Their slippery fearful way they take
22Through paths beslimed with gore,
23Ne'er on those Crimean hills had moon
24Such sight revealed before.
25But who are these with noiseless tread,
26Who hurry fearful by,
27Now fling them down beside the dead,
28With soul-despairing cry,
29As trembling, with wild eager gaze,
30They search with sickening dread,
31And the moon's rays too sure reveal,
32Their husband with the dead!
33Yet one redeeming feature still
34Those moonbeams yet displayed,
35Of men who with their British hearts
36Their enemies forgave.
37And tended gently, lovingly,
38Their cruel bitter foe,
39Who never yet had quarter given
41For even then, above their heads,
42Came murd'rous bullets sent
43Among our brave and gallant men,
44On mercy's errand bent;
45And some there were who fiendish slew,
46With their last parting breath,
47The very hand which tended them,
48Upon that field of death.


1] The Allies defeated the Russians at the battle of Inkerman on November 5, 1854, losing 3,300 men. The war ended March 30,1856, and both sides neutralized the Black Sea. Back to Line
5] Tchernaya: On the river Chernaya, which forms the estuary of Sevastopol, the town of Inkerman is found. Back to Line
40] "On this spot the Russians kept dropping shells the whole night; but their vindictive efforts were in vain; all who lay in reach of their missiles had suffered the last which they were to endure on earth." Hayward. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.