War with Russia - Alliance of England, France and Turkey

At three o'clock next morning, the camp was roused by the reveille, and all the 30,000 sleepers woke into active life. Of Turkish infantry, 7,000 under Suleiman Pacha moved along by the sea side; next came the divisions of Generals Bosquet, Canrobert, Forey, and Prince Napoleon. The order of march of the English army was about four miles to the ri g ht of their left wing, and as many behind them. The right of the allied forces was covered by the fleet, which moved along with it in magnificent order, darkening the air with innumerable columns of smoke, ready to shell the enemy should they attack the right, and commanding the land for nearly two miles from the shore.

The troops presented a splendid appearance. The effect of these grand masses of soldiery descending the ridges of the hills, rank after rank, with the sun playing over forests of glittering steel, can never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. Onward the torrent of war swept, wave after wave, huge stately billows of armed men; while the rumbling of the artillery, and the tramp of cavalry, accompanied their progress. A halt took place about three o'clock, at a muddy stream, of which the men drank with avidity. At this stage they passed the Imperial post-house, twenty miles from Sebastopol.

Orders were given to halt and bivouac for the night, which was cold and damp, but the men were in excellent spirits, looking forward to the probability of an engagement with the enemy with perfect confidence as to the result.

On the morning of the 20th, ere daybreak, the whole force was under arms. They were marshaled silently; no bugles or drums broke the stillness; but the hum of thousands of voices rose loudly from the ranks, and the watchfires lighted up the lines of the camp as though it were a great town. When dawn broke it was discovered that the Russians had retired from the heights. It was known that the Russians had been busy fortifying the heights over the valley through which rims the little river Alma, and that they had resolved to try their strength with the allied army in a position giving them vast advantages of ground, which they had used every means in their power to improve to the utmost. The advance of the armies this great day was a sight which must ever stand out like a landmark of the spectator's life. Early in the morning, the troops were ordered to get in readiness, and at half-past six o'clock they were in motion. It was a lovely day; the heat of the sun was tempered by a sea breeze. The fleet was visible at a distance of four miles, covering the ocean as it was seen between the hills, and steamers could be seen as close to the shore as possible. The Generals, St Arnaud, Bosquet, and Forey, attended by their staff, rode along the lines, with Lord Raglan and his Generals at second halt, and were received with tremendous cheering.

The order in which the army advanced was in columns of brigades in deploying distance; the left protected by a line of skirmishers of cavalry and of horse artillery. The advantage of the formation was, that the army, in case of a strong attack from cavalry and infantry on the left or rear, could assume the form of a hollow square, with the baggage in the centre. The great object was to gain the right of the position, so that the attacking parties could be sheltered by the vertical fire of the fleets. As soon as the position of the allies could be accurately ascertained, the whole line, extending itself across the champaign country for some five or six miles, advanced. At the distance of two miles the English army halted to obtain a little time to gather up the rear; and then the troops steadily advanced in grand lines, like the waves of the ocean.

The French occupied the high road, nearest the beach, with the Turks and the English marched to the left. At about one o'clock in the afternoon, the Light Division of the French army came in sight of the village of Almatamak, and the British Light Division descried that of Burliuk, both situated on the right bank of the river Alma.