written and compiled by Jim Garrison

Richard McCormick compiled A Visit to the Camp before Sevastopol from a collection of his Crimean War correspondence. The book details his journey from Constantinople to the village of Balaklava, his observations of the troops and their trenches, the city of Sevastopol, the battles he watched, and the state of the other towns in Crimea. Throughout his time in Crimea, he comes across several notable people and locations. He met the Upton family, visited the site of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade shortly after Alfred Loyd Tennyson published his famous poem, and saw Florence Nightingale while visiting the hospital in Scutari.[1]

The 1855 article from the New York Evening Post “Condition of the British Troops in the Crimea” comes from Constantinople just a few weeks after McCormick returned after his time in Balaklava. While the Evening Post’s correspondent remains unnamed in the article it is safe to assume that the article was written by McCormick due to the timeframe, location, and subject the article is written about. McCormick criticizes Lord Raglan for not marching on Sevastopol by February of 1855 and points out the drastic number of casualties the British forces suffered. “Of the 54,000 English troops which left England for the Orient,” he wrote, “only 11,000 are left to her army in the Crimea.” McCormack attributes this incredible loss of life to Lord Raglan’s inability to plan for the winter conditions. Shoes and winter clothes had arrived at Balaklava but no orders had been given to distribute them. Meanwhile, the French army only grew stronger, gaining the admiration of the Turkish army. [2]

Sevastopol Sketches by Tolstoy provides an excellent narrative depiction of the state of Sevastopol and the Russian front during the December that McCormick arrived at Balaklava. The first “sketch” titled December 1854 is told through a second-hand point of view of a Russian soldier in Sevastopol. The scenes Tolstoy describes jump from taking in the beauty of the city in the morning to walking over rotting corpses of the horses laying in the street. Along with William Howard Russell’s The British Expedition to the Crimea, the work provides great additional context to the state of the Crimean front before McCormick’s arrival. Richard McCormick himself even recognized the impact of Russell’s work and referenced it in A Visit to the Camp before Sevastopol.

A few weeks after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, McCormick published an article in the New York Evening Post reminiscing about the friendship he had with the late President which began in 1860 when Lincoln was running for the Republican nomination. After Lincoln’s inauguration, McCormick had become good friends with Lincoln’s Private Secretaries and would stay late at the White House chatting with the President and his advisors. McCormick remained loyal to the President despite the harm it did to his run for Congress in 1862.[3] McCormick was rewarded for his loyalty when he was appointed Territorial Secretary of Arizona. In 1864 during his time as Secretary, he wrote to John Nicolay, President Lincoln’s Private Secretary, about the upcoming Congressional election as well as Governor Goodwin’s political opponent, Charles Leib. The letter goes on to discuss the rich minerals and resources in the Arizona Territory.[4]

Richard McCormick married his first wife Margaret Griffiths Hunt on September 27, 1865, in New Jersey.[5] The journal and letters written by Margret McCormick provide excellent insight into their personal lives during their time in Arizona together. The Arizona Archives Online Collection also contains a wide range of other documents, letters, and photos of McCormick and his wife. The dates of all the items in their collection range between 1857 and 1899.[6]


[1] McCormick, Richard Cunningham. A Visit to the Camp before Sevastopol. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1855.

[2] “Condition of the British Troops in the Crimea” New York Evening Post, March 15,1855

[3]Richard McCormick, “Interesting Reminiscences,” New York Evening Post, May 3, 1865 (accessed 4/30/21)

[4] Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln papers: Series 2. General Correspondence, 1858 to 1864: Richard C. McCormick to John G. Nicolay, Friday, Affairs in Arizona Territory, 1864. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

[5] Tessman, “The personal journal and Arizona letters of Margaret Hunt McCormick.”

[6] Richard and Margaret McCormick Papers, SHM MS-35 Arizona Archives Online. Sharlot Hall Museum Library and Archives. Accessed April 12, 2021.


Primary Documents

Richard Cunningham McCormick, “Condition of the British Troops in the Crimea” New York Evening Post, March 15,1855

—– “Interesting Reminiscences,” New York Evening Post, May 3, 1865

—– A Visit to the Camp before Sevastopol. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1855.

Russell, William H. The British Expedition to the Crimea. London: George Routledge and Sons, 1877.

Tolstoy, Leo. Sevastopol Sketches. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1888.

About McCormick and Arizona

Biographical Note. Arizona Archives Online. Sharlot Hall Museum Library and Archives. Accessed April 12, 2021.

Tessman, Norm. “The personal journal and Arizona letters of Margaret Hunt McCormick.” The Journal of Arizona History 26, no. 1 (1985): 41-52. Accessed April 30, 2021.

Williams, Eugene E. “The Territorial Governors Of Arizona-Richard Cunningham McCormick.” Arizona Historical Review, n.d. The University of Arizona with the cooperation of Arizona Pioneers Historical Society (Tucson, AZ).

About The Crimean War

Bektas, Yakup. “The Crimean War as a Technological Enterprise.” Notes and records of the Royal Society of London. The Royal Society, September 20, 2017.

Golder, Frank A. “Russian-American Relations During the Crimean War.” The American Historical Review 31, no. 3 (1926): 462-76. Accessed March 17, 2021. doi:10.2307/1840986.

McClellan, George. “The Armies of Europe: Comprising Descriptions in Detail of the Military Systems of England, France, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sardinia, Adapting Their Advantages to All Arms of the United States Service; and Embodying the Report of Observations in Europe during the Crimean War, as Military Commissioner from the United States Government in 1855-56.” Atlantic Monthly 8, no. 50 (December 1861): 770-71.

About Journalism and War Reporting

Cross, Anthony. “The Crimean War and the Caricature War.” The Slavonic and East European Review 84, no. 3 (2006): 460-80. Accessed March 17, 2021.

Folkerts, Jean. “American Journalism History: A Bibliographic Essay.” American Studies International 29, no. 2 (1991): 4-27. Accessed March 17, 2021.

Markovits, Stefanie. “Rushing into Print: “Participatory Journalism” during the Crimean War.” Victorian Studies 50, no. 4 (2008): 559-86. Accessed March 17, 2021.

Risso, Linda. “Reporting from the Front: First-hand Experiences, Dilemmas and Open Questions.” Media, War & Conflict 10, no. 1 (2017): 59-68. Accessed March 17, 2021. doi:10.2307/26077357.

Matthews, Joseph J. “The Father of War Correspondents.” The Virginia Quarterly Review 21, no. 1 (1945): 111-27. Accessed March 17, 2021.

Harris, Brayton. In War News: Blue & Gray in Black & White: Newspapers in the Civil War. (Charleston, SC: Brassey’s, 2010).