Sir William Howard Russell - Encyclopedia

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SIR WILLIAM HOWARD RUSSELL (1821-1907), English war correspondent, was born at Lilyvale, near Tallaght, in the county of Dublin, on the 28th of March 1821, being one of the Russells of Limerick, whose settlement in Ireland dates from the time of Richard II. He entered Trinity College in 1838. Three years later he was thrown very much on his own resources, but a relative, Mr R. W. Russell, who had been sent to Ireland by The Times, deputed him to report the Irish elections at Longford, and his success definitely turned his attention to journalism. Coming to London in 1842, he went to Cambridge, but left before taking a degree. In the following year he was sent by The Times to Ireland to report the O'Connell meetings. In 1845 he was appointed to superintend the reports on the Irish railways, and was shortly afterwards sent by The Times to inspect the O'Connell property in S.W. Ireland, when his plain speaking drew forth a characteristic tirade from the "Liberator." For a short period in 1847 his services were temporarily transferred to the Morning Chronicle, but with that exception he remained permanently connected with The Times. He was sent as special correspondent to Denmark in the war of 1849-50. He did not, however, at once relinquish a legal career, and was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1851. On the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 he went out as special correspondent, and, accompanying the light division to Gallipoli, proceeded with the first detachment to Varna. On the embarkation for the Crimea he was attached to the second division, and landed with it on the 14th of September. He was present at the battle of the Alma on the 20th of September, at the investment of Sevastopol, at Balaclava on the 25th of October and Inkerman on the 5th of November.

Towards the end of May 1855 he accompanied the expedition to Kertch, and did not return to the Crimea until the following August. In September and October he described the attacks on the Malakoff and Redan, the occupation of Sevastopol and the capture of Fort Kinburn. The popularity of The Times Crimea correspondence led to its republication in two volumes under the title of The War, 1855-56. Russell's letters to The Times were mainly responsible for the enlightenment of the public at home as to the conduct of affairs at the scene of action, and his exposure of the mismanagement during the winter of 1854 did more than anything else to cause the downfall of Lord Aberdeen's ministry. In 1856 Russell was sent to Moscow to describe the coronation of the tsar, and in the following year was attached to the headquarters of Lord Clyde in India. He was present at the siege and capture of Lucknow in 1858, the operations in Oude, the battle of Bareilly and the actions in Rohilkhand, and he received the Indian war medal with the Lucknow clasp. The events of those stirring times are vividly recorded in My Diary in India in 1858-59. Next year he was sent to Italy, but arrived on the eve of the armistice at Villafranca. On the 7th of January 1860 appeared the first number of the Army and Navy Gazette, which he founded, and of which he was editor and principal proprietor. In 1861 Russell proceeded to Washington, and reached M`Dowell's headquarters just before the first battle of Bull Run, and his account of the Federal retreat drew much hostile criticism. He published a full account of the war, in so far as he had witnessed it, in My Diary, North and South, during the Civil War in America, 1862. Returning to England in 1863, he remained at home until 1866, when he proceeded to the headquarters of General Benedek and witnessed the battle of Kdniggratz, 3rd of July.

XXIII. 28 During the interval of peace that followed he accompanied the prince of Wales to the Nile, Constantinople, the Crimea and Greece in 1868, and published an account of the tour in the following year, when he also contested the borough of Chelsea unsuccessfully in the Conservative interest. On the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Russell was with the crown prince from the battle of Worth, 6th of August, and Sedan, 12th of September, till the capitulation of Paris. His account appeared in 1874 under the title of My Diary during the Last Great War. His description of the burning of Paris by; the Communards was not the least of his journalistic triumphs. In 1875-76 he was honorary private secretary to the prince of Wales during his tour through India, of which he published an account in 1877. When Lord Wolseley was sent to quell the Zulu rebellion in 1879, Russell was attached to his staff as correspondent. In 1881 he went with the duke of Sutherland's party for a tour in the United States and Canada, described in Hesperothen, and in 1882 he was again with Lord Wolseley in the Egyptian campaign. In 1895 he published a personal retrospect entitled The Great War with Russia. Russell was knighted in May 1895, and was the recipient of numerous war medals and various foreign orders. He married twice, first in 1846 Miss Burrowes, who died not long afterwards, and secondly in 1884 the Countess A. Malvezzi. He died on the 1th of February 1907.

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