[ A Royal Navy midshipman in the Crimean War. ] Autograph Log Book of George Tate Medd, compiled during wartime service on HMS Rodney and HMS Sidon, and including an eyewitness account of the Battle of Alma.

George Tate Medd (1837-1907), Royal Navy officer, later Vicar of Whitchurch [ Crimean War; Royal Navy; naval; maritime; HMS Rodney; HMS Sidon ]
Publication details: 
14 March 1853 to 31 December 1854. Service in the Mediterranean (Malta, Turkey), the Black Sea (the Crimea).
SKU: 19376

The first part of the volume, with entries from 14 March 1853 to 19 March 1854, describes Medd's service, under Captain (later Rear-Admiral) Charles Graham (1792-1857), on HMS Rodney (90 guns), which, as Medd states, travels 'with the combined Fleets, from Bosphorus to Sinope and back'; the second part, 20 March to 31 December 1854 , covers his time on the paddle frigate HMS Sidon, under his cousin and godfather Captain (later Admiral) George Goldsmith (1806-1888), the ship blockading (from April 1854) the coastline around the mouths of the Danube, assisting French troop transports during the Allied invasion of the Crimea (including an eyewitness account of the Battle of Alma), observing Russian troop movements around Odessa (during which, 4 October 1854, she is hit in the funnel), transporting troops and searching vessels in the Black Sea. Besides the mass of statistical information the present item contains, the journal clearly shows the build up of hostilities before the declaration of the war by the British and French on 3 January 1854, and continues to the pause in ground operations at the end of the same year. It is an extraordinarily mature production for a young boy, the author being only fifteen at its commencement, having enlisted as a naval cadet, in his own words, 'at the age of 12¾ years', on 11 June 1850. (The previous volume, dealing with Medd's earliest training and experiences as naval cadet and midshipman, is offered separately.) 170pp., large 8vo (32 x 20 cm). In fair condition, on aged and worn paper, with the top half of one leaf torn away. Ownership inscription on front pastedown: 'G. T. Medd.' In binding over which Medd has sewn a cover of rough oat cloth. Around a dozen items have been inserted by Medd in the volume, including three full-page illustrations by him (for which see the end of this description), as well as a cutting of a newspaper article of 'extracts from a private letter from the seat of war', dated 'Eupatoria, 30 miles from Sebastopol, Sept. 18 [and 20, 22 and 24], 1854', the authorship of which Medd avows in manuscript at the foot 'from, George Tate Medd | Midshipman of HMS. Sidon'. Each page of the journal has been ruled by Medd into entries of between five and eight columns, for date, winds, weather, course, remarks, navigation ('Lat DR', 'Lat obs', 'Long Chron.'). Each of the two sections of the journal has its own title-page. The upper part of the leaf bearing the title for the HMS Rodney part has been torn away, leaving: '<...> | Charles Graham C.B. Captain. | Kept by George S. Medd. Mdn. | Commencing 14th. March /53. | Ending [blank]'. The title page for HMS Rodney reads: 'Log of the proceedings of Her Majesty's Steam Frigate “Sidon” 22 Guns | George Goldsmith Esqre Captain, | kept by George Tate Medd Midn. | Commencing 20th. March 1854 | Ending [blank]'. As the journal begins, 14 March 1853, HMS Rodney is 'Moored in Malta harbour'; on 8 June it is 'at sea with Squadron'; by 15 June, has reached Turkey and is 'Single Anchor in Bashika Bay'; on 29 October the Rodney is 'Beating up the Dardanelles'; on 30 October it is 'off Chanak Kalessi, Dardanelles'; after a few days 'Moored in the Dardanelles' the Rodney is, on 13 November, in 'Beikos Bay [Bosphorus] Constantinople'; on 7 January 1854, it is 'Moored with the English and Turkish Fleets' in 'Sinope Bay. Black Sea'; around 29 February it is back at Beikos Bay. On 20 March 1854 Medd transfers to HMS Sidon, and is 'Moored in Beikos Bay in Co[mpan]y. with Fleets'; a few days later it is 'Cruising in the Black Sea in Co[mpan]y. with Magellan & Firebrand'; on 30 March the Sidon is 'In the Black Sea'; on 10 April it is 'Anchored off Kustengeh [also Costengeh, i.e. Kustanje]'; on 15 April the Sidon is again 'Cruising in the Black Sea'; 17 April at 'Serpents Island'; on 30 May at 'Soulineh'; on 7 April 'Steaming for the Italian mouth of the Danube'; on 5 June the Sidonia is at Constantinople, 'Anchored off Golden Horn'; 13 June, 'Off Balgick'; 14 June, 'Single Anchor Varna'; 15 June, 'Varna to Balgick', 17 June, 'In Varna Bay'; 20 June, 'Anchored off Balgick', 23 June, 'off the town of Balgick'; 15 July, 'Anchored off Kustengeh'; 27 July, 'In the Black Sea'; 2 August, 'Off Odessa'; 24 August, 'Varna Bay'; 5 September, 'Cruising'; 20 September, is an eyewitness of the Battle of Alma ('Almeh'); 28 September, Odessa; 30 September, 'Anchored off Odessa'; 3 October, 'Off the mouth of the Dnieper'; 5 October, 'Steaming along the land for Odessa'; 12 October, 'off Odessa'; 14 October, 'Cruising in Co. with Cacique & Inflexible'; 15 October, 'Anchored off Odessa'; 25 October, 'Anchored off Tendre Island'; 5 November, 'Anchored off Point Adjick; 10 November, 'Single Anchor off Tendra Id. Lighthouse. Black Sea'; 6 December, 'Single Anchor. Eupatoria'; 9 December, 'Single Anchor in Karatch Bay'; and as the journal closes, from 21 December 1854, the Sidon is at 'Single Anchor off Sebastopol'. Early entries, written at Malta, describe Medd's duties on board, before the Rodney sets sail with its squadron on 8 June 1853, the entry for which indicates the arduous nature of a midshipman's work: 'AM | 4 Employed preparing for sea. 6.30 Slipped bridles and made all plain sail on port tack. Up royal yards. 7 Shortened sail to double reefed topsails Jib and Spanker Vengeance Albion and Bellerophon in Co[mpan]y. 7.10 Observed the Arethusa 8 lgs S. 8 Obsd. The flag ship in tow of Tiger. 8.40 Stowed <?> 12 Squadron in Company. | P.M. 1.20 Squared yards. Down Jib. Let spanker and Royals 3.30 In Royals. 4 Admiral ahead ¼ of a mile. 4. 4 0 Let Royals Exchanged colours with a Greek brig. Lowered royals & keep station 7 Let Royals. 8 Flag ship ahead 800 yards. 8.50 Let port Corner and <?> studd sail. 12 midnight Squadron in Coy.' The rising tension is indicated a few days later (12 June), with Medd noting that he 'Read articles of war.' A long entry for 29 October 1853 begins: 'AM | Tried to communicate with the admiral but could not, the weather being dark and misty. And on 31 February 1854: 'Punished Rd. Owen with 36 lashes for drunkenness on shore'. It is with Medd's transfer to the Sidon that he begins to see active service. In April 1854, working with HMS Firebrand, the ship mounts a blockade of the coast around the mouths of the Danube. On 1 April 1854, 'At Anchor off the Town of Costengeh': 'Captain went on shore to visit the Town found the place deserted & houses pillaged. A few Tuyrkish Irregulars had been wounding some of the people.' On 8 April, 'At Anchor off the Soulineh mouth of the Danube', '7 [am] Sent a boat on shore for the Russian Consul, the boat was met by a Russian gun boat & obliged to anchor | 10 [am] Boat returned with Mr Lloyd vice consul'. On 10 April 1854 he writes: 'Obs[erve]d. A large body of cossacks on the heights surrounding Kastenjeh | Fired a blank Gun and hoisted the General Recall. 11.40 Fired another gun | P.M Observed Cossacks dismounting stealing towards he boats. Fired a shell to check them. The cossacks having now opened fire on the French & English boats. Fired another shell to check them. Boats returned without accident. Fired shot & shell occasionally.' In a later signed note Medd writes: 'I was in one of the boats with Frank Inglis (a 2nd master) and about 12 men.' On 9 June 1854: 'Received 13 Officers & 174 Rank & file Russian Prisoners & 15 invalids.' On 14 June the troops are disembarking at Varna: '8.15 [am] Arrived the Emperor [of the French] with his Royal Highness Duke of Cambridge | Samson and several other transports arrived with troops. […] Sent boats to disembark troops & munitions of war'. Two days later (16 June): 'Arrived Caradoc with Lord Raglan on board and a Turkish steamer with transports'. The following day the articles of war are read again. On 8 July 1854: 'arrived Firebrand with the body of Captain Hyde Parker he having been killed by a Cossack at the Soulineh Mouth of the Danube on the 7th. Inst.' In the entry for 20 September, Medd describes the Battle of Alma ('Battle of Almeh'): 'AM | 6. Obsd. the allied & Russian Armies drawn up about 3 miles from each other. The Russian army in a strong position on the heights, south of the river Almeh. Exercised main deck quarter of the Watch. The Allied army making preparations for the attack on the Russians. | P:M | 1.15 Observed the advance guard of the French engage the enemy by firing at the heights of Cape Houkosh. Steamers in shore firing shot & shell occasionally to keep the enemy in check. 2.20 Observed the English line further in shore attack the enemy's main body strongly posted & supported by batteries on a hill south of the river Almeh 3. Action became general. 4.30 The Russians began to pull back and at 4.45 Retreat became general on the part of the Russians. The Allied army took up their positions on the height.' On 26 September, the Rodney is 'At Anchor off Town of Achinetchek': 'Russian authorities had left the village only the Tartar population left'. On 29 September: 'Arrived Inflexible with a Russian logger | Obsd. French landing wounded Russians at Odessa'. The following day (30 September): 'Obsd. A Russian encampment on shore'. 2 October 1854, 'At Anchor N.E. Of Odessa': '6 [am] Obsd. A large body of artillery and infantry crossing the beach. Weighed and proceeded. Fired shot and shell at Russian troops, they returned the fire but made away. Proceeded to Adjakik. [...] Enemy quitted the road and went inshore. [...] Inflexible opened fire. Fired several shot at troops on the beach [...] 5 [pm] Obsd. troops and guns cross the low land. 5.20 Troops encamped outside the Lake'. Two days later (4 October): 'Opened fire on [Fort Nicolaef, at mouth of Southern Bug, now Ukraine] shot and shell [F]ort & 3 gun boats returned the fire 8. [am] A Rocket or shot having struck the after funnel and a number falling thick round the ship, shifted out to the extreme range of pivot guns. Inflexible joined Co. – do. opened fire on fort' And on 6 December 1854, at 'Single Anchor in Eupatoria Bay': 'Obs[erve]d. a large body of Russian cavalry carrying off a large flock of sheep. Several shell and rocks were fired at them on shore and from the French wrecked line of battle ship Henri Quatre'. On 10 December 1854: '7.15 [am] Found Samuel House (ord) dead he had been placed under the sentry's charge for being inebriated the night before'. And in a final entry of interest, on 21 December 1854: 'From 2 to 4 am heard very heavy & quick firing of great guns followed by successive peals of musketry on shore near Sebastopol. 8. Hoisted the “Red Ensign.” Among a number of items inserted in the volume are three full-page illustrations by Medd, all neat and clear (Medd being a capable artist, see the coloured drawing of a bird also inserted in the volume). The first of the three illustrations is a diagram of 'HMS “Bellerophon” getting her bowsprit in | by George Tate Medd | Midshipman on board', dated 20 February 1854. This depicts the bow of the ship with its rigging, together with a lettered key ('Explanation'). The second illustration is a map showing the 'Track of HMS “Rodney” in Co[mpan]y. with the combined Fleets, from Bosphorus to Sinope and back'. The third illustration is a coloured map of 'Beikos Bay | With the allied Fleets | March 1854', with key of 'Ships Names'. Rising to the rank of Lieutenant, Medd served in the Crimea and the China War, 1857-58 (medals with 2 clasps). He retired in 1861 invalided. Turning to the church he was made a deacon in 1868 and a priest in 1870. He was Curate of Rotherfield, Sussex, 1868-70; Curate of Harrietsham, Kent, 1870-76; and Vicar of Whitchurch, near Aylesbury, from 1876 to his death.