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Roger Fenton's Letters from the Crimea
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Letter number 15

Date: 18-20 May 1855
Recipient: William Agnew
Letter book: Joseph Fenton letter-book, Gernsheim Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin

Letters to Mr Agnew

May 18th & 20th

Dear Sir,

I send you herewith a few portraits which are worth engraving & will serve to keep up the attention of the public until my return. I make very slow progress though as far as lies in my power no time is lost[.] I am very anxious to return home as my interests are suffering in my absence but I cant make up my mind to leave untill I have secured pictures of the persons & subjects likely to be historically interesting

I am at present living with General Bosquet who treats me as one of his own family [ — ] unfortunately the tents in which he placed me are in a damp low place & when the late storm of rain came on, sleeping on the ground I was attacked with dysentry & obliged to leave & go down to the hut at Kadekoi for quiet & medical aid. I am now perfectly cured. They have given me a tent in a better situation & yesterday & today I have been at work at Inkerman, where my waggon is placed so that it can be seen by only one of the Russian batteries. We have had several shells & cannon balls close past us today, only one of which was so far as I could tell aimed at us & that did not come within 20 yds. It is not amusing at all hearing the whirr of cannon balls approaching.

I was today in front of one of the French batteries when they were relieving Guard [sic] [ — ] the Russians can see the relief coming & always fire across the valley at these times[.] I saw the flash of a battery in front & stood still to wait for the shot[.] I heard it coming through the air right towards us & waited in some anxiety to know how near it would be [ — ] as it approached it was with great satisfaction that I heard it pass over my head instead of making a nearer acquaintance with my person[.] In the afternoon I make [sic] a slight sketch of colour of the valley of Inkerman & had nearly finished it when some riflemen down below saw me & their 4h shot came so near that I thought I best to decamp. Generally they are very civil & the greater part of the day leave me alone.

Tomorrow morning I move the van to the rear of the battery where the gaurds [sic] sustained such severe losses. I have got splendid stereoscopic views of the ruins of Inkerman & the valley I go in a few days to head quarters & thence to General Canroberts. There is far more here than I could do in six months[.] I am sorry that I am obliged to return so soon but I shall bring back after all a very good selection of subjects

Yours truly,

Roger Fenton —

Sunday May 20h /55.

I have left Bosquets & am now with Genl Barnard for a couple of days, It is so hot now that nothing can be done after 9 in the morning. The officers of the 10th who have just come from India complain very much & say that the sun burns much more here

Genl Canrobert has given up the command of the Army to Pelisier [sic] & resumes the command of a division. This is at his own request as he says that he feels himself unequal to the task of directing so large an army[.] Pelissier is a good kind fellow not very intelectual [sic] but energetic & unscrupulous he will not be long without setting the army in movement & he wont care about a few thousand lives if he has an object to gain

I rode over this morning to the sea side 7 miles off with Genl Barnards son at 6 in the morning to bathe — it was very delightful[.] I shall come back now as soon as ever I have got Lord Raglans portrait as my time is being wasted[.] I can see no sketches worth buying here[.] Major Halliwell [sic] sent his panorama to the Queen if you can obtain that it will be worth having[.] Simpson only makes pencil sketches on the spot & colors them at home[.] The only French artist I have seen does the same. I am sitting in one of Genl Barnards Marquees they are double tents &ce much cooler than the others it is open to the air on every side & there is a nice breeze but the perspiration is pouring down my face as if I had been riding for a cup[.] I am afraid when the army moves they will suffer dreadfully from the heat & from thirst —



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