Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Crimean War

Crimean War, The, between Russia on the one side, and England, France, and Turkey, and later Sardinia, on the other, broke out in 1854, and lasted until the final evacuation on July 12th, 1856. There can be no injustice in saying that the real cause of the war was Russian ambition, though the ostensible motive on Russia's part was the protection of the Christians who were under Turkish rule. As far back as 1844 the Czar Nicholas had proposed to enter upon the "sick man's" possessions and divide them. When the English and French declared war on the 28th March, 1854, Osman Pasha had been holding out bravely on the Danube, and when the allied troops had lain for a time at Varna, where they suffered greatly from cholera, it was concluded that there was no real need for their presence there, and, in accordance with a resolution to carry the war into the Crimea, a landing was made on the 14th of December by an army of 25,000 English troops under Lord Raglan, about the same number of French troops under Marshal St. Arnaud, and a Turkish contingent of 8,000, which army was increased in 1855 by the arrival of the Sardinian force. After forcing the passage of the Alma, the attacking army made a flank march, and were met by the Russians in force at Balaklava, an English fleet following the march along the coast. The battle of Balaklava is chiefly notable for the brilliant but disastrous Light Cavalry charge, which, by its mistaken object and untoward result, quite put into the shade an equally brilliant Heavy Cavalry charge earlier in the day. After the battle of Balaklava, the allies proceeded to invest the strongly fortified town of Sebastopol from the land side, while the English fleet blockaded and attacked it from the sea, the Russian fleet in the meantime finding shelter in the harbour, the entrance to which was blocked by the sinking of some stone-laden ships across the mouth. While the war was in this way carried on in the south, a fleet had been sent into the Baltic in the spring of 1854. The Russian fleet did not venture to give battle, but sought shelter behind the fortresses of Cronstadt and Sveaborg. The only work accomplished by the British fleet was the storming and taking of Bomarsund and of the Aland Islands. A second campaign in 1855 in this direction resulted in the bombardment and partial destruction of Sveaborg. A third battle in the south - Inkerman - was fought upon the 5th of November, 1854, in which the British eventually, aided by the French, held their own for some time against and finally repulsed a greatly outnumbering force of Russians, who had made a determined sally under cover of the dark November morning. Then followed a terrible winter of privation and suffering for the besiegers, who returned from severe work in the trenches to find a camp ill-provided with the simplest necessaries of life, and a totally inadequate organisation for the treatment of the sick and wounded. Private enterprise did much to make up for official shortcomings, and many a Crimean soldier had reason to thank the thoughtfulness that provided him with warm clothing and a few simple luxuries, and the devotion of Florence Nightingale and her heroic band of nurses. The siege lingered on till September, 1855, when the storming of the Malakoff fort by the French, and the not altogether well-managed attack upon the Redan by the British, led to the retreat of the Russians from the town. The peace of Paris was concluded on the 30th of March, 1855. Upon the Russian side the most important result achieved was the surrender of Kars after a noble defence by General Williams and a Turkish force. The present British occupation of Cyprus has for one of the conditions of its cessation the restoration of Kars. One condition imposed upon the Russians by the peace of Paris was that they should not construct a Black Sea fleet, but this condition Russia, in 1871, declared her intention of repudiating. The Crimean War has been considered by some a huge political blunder from beginning to end; but it had, at any rate, some good results - it showed how utterly a peace of forty years had thrown our military supply organisation out of gear, and so led the way to those improvements which, all inadequate as they are, have put us upon a somewhat better footing for facing a European foe; it led to a total revolution in hospital arrangements - a change much needed, for the great majority of deaths in the Crimean War were the result of deficient hospital arrangements; and it put us in a better condition for coping with the Sepoy mutiny which followed immediately upon the Crimean War. The most elaborate history of the war is that of Kinglake, but it is much too cumbrous to give a comprehensive view, since it is not till the fifth volume that Inkermann is reached, and one reads 100 pages before reaching- 8 o'clock in the morning of that eventful November day.