The Crimean War
The Crimean War started because France and Russia wanted control over the Middle East and surrounding areas. The war lasted from 1856 to 1858, just under two years. The more important parts of the war are the causes and events that led up to it, the battle of the Alma, the naval wars of various seas and Sevastopol, the heavily fortified base of the Russian fleet.MLV Ffrench Blake states that the main cause of the war was “Russia’s desire for territorial expansion, particularly towards a port in the Mediterranean.” (Blake 1). He also believes that the inevitable drift into the war was aggravated by the back and forth nature of the rulers of the opposing countries and bad diplomacy. The immediate excuses of the war were for protection of oppressed minorities and retaliation against the death of nationalists in religious riots. Philip Warner believes that the main cause of the war was that Britain and Russia were both large countries and only one of them would be able to prevail. At the time, Britain was a country that stretched all the way to India and they couldn’t afford to have line of communication through the Middle East cut. Russia spanned an entire eight million square miles. “However, the looseness and backwardness of their territories did not stop the Russians from wishing to extend their influence.” (Warner 5). Albert Seaton believes that the Tsar Nicholas did not want war, but it was part of his political strategy to bring Europe to the brink of hostilities in order to intimidate those who opposed him. “He would undoubtedly have taken even greater risks if only France and Turkey had been involved, but he was worried by the close interest taken by the British in the Middle East, for the islanders were already openly assessing the armed strengths there and did not conceal their low opinion of the value of the Black Sea Fleet.” (Seaton 42).Philip Warner believes that the battle of the Alma occurred because Sebastopol, Russia’s heavily fortified base, had no proper defences and it was decided that the part of the Russian army would be sent to completely stop or at least slow down the Allied Army at Alma. The Russians and the Allies both set up very planned out and strategic formations, but they just ended up attacking each other head on. For some reason, Menschikov, the commander of the Russian army, didn’t bring in his reserves. Perhaps this is this the reason why Raglan, the commander of the Allied army, neglected to involve the French. Warner states that “Had the French been brought into the battle they might have secured a swift victory; as it was they were not brought into the battle. If they had been it would have been impossible to have restrained them from the pursuit, and the campaign could well have been over within weeks.” (Warner 30). Perhaps the largest mistake in the battle was when the Welsh Fusiliers were ordered to retreat. This wasn’t a bad idea, but at the same time there were Scot Fusiliers heading right in the direction of the Welsh Fusiliers. To make matters worse, the advancing Vladimir Regiment was mistaken for the French and not fired upon. The result was that the Welsh and Scot Fusiliers ran into each other, causing major confusion and the Vladimir Regiment easily picked them off. The turning point of the battle was probably when the Scottish Highland Brigade had been awaiting the order to advance and, “Kcame, pressed forward with the energy of men long held back.” (Blake 54). They and three other regiments mowed down the Russian cavalry. The finishing touch was clinched by Lucan’s horse artillery which galloped with six guns, giving the impression that there were plenty more where those came from. One flaw of the Russians was how Gortschakoff, commander of the Russian right wing, allowed himself to become too involved. He had behaved with astonishing courage, leading one of his columns personally, “but a commander is scarcely in a position to make decisions about the best use of his troops when he is fighting desperately for his life or a piece of ground.” (Warner 34). Total Russian losses were said to have amounted to six thousand and British losses were given as two thousand. Raglan made many bad decisions. He crowded together his initial dispositions way too much. He ordered his main force over a river, up a slope and into a heavily defended position. He also isolated himself from his force and put himself in a highly vulnerable position.The naval campaign by the British was a short one. Under new commander Sir RS Dundas, they performed really well. The fleet consisted of nineteen screw and one sailing ship of the line, fourteen frigates, twelve small steamers, twenty-one steam gunboats and fifteen mortar boats. To this, the French added three ships of the line, three frigates and ten other smaller gunboats. One thing the fleet was lacking were the small powerful gunboats that were needed for work in shallow waters. The fleet sailed in March, establishing a blockade of the Russian Baltic ports. In May, reconnaissances were made to Revel, the Aland Islands, Hango, Sveaborg and Kronstadt. At Kronstadt, the defences were found to be much improved. The attack by large ships was out of the question. At Hango, a boat conveying ashore the crews of captured Finnish ships was fired on by the Russians; nearly every man was killed. “The Massacre of Hango was a clear case of not keeping to the rules of war.” (Blake 138). Elsewhere, a fleet of Russian coasters was destroyed at Nystad. The fort of Svastholm was captured, 122 guns removed and the fort blown up. In August, Dundas decided to bombard Sveaborg. Most of the dockyards, magazines and stores were destroyed, 23 small ships were burned and one ship of the line damaged and beached. The rest of the Baltic campaign was confined to attacks on merchant shipping, blockade duties and pinpricks against the Russian coastal defences. In June, a British squadron was sent to the White Sea. The remainder of the summer was spent harassing coastal shipping, burning stores of timber and destroying boat-building yards.According to the Russians, the thought of Sevastopol being under siege became somewhat unrealistic. By the end of January, only eleven thousand men were fit for duty and were thus hopelessly outnumbered by the men they were attempting to besiege. “Fortunately, the Russians were either unaware, or too lethargic to take advantage of this fact.” (Warner 159). Sevastopol contained a vast number of guns. Even in the closing days of the siege, there were still hundreds of brand new guns available and ammunition was never short. The siege lasted an entire 349 days. On February 22, “the Russians made a move which was to have a great influence on the siege.” (Blake 122-123). About 400 yards in front of the Malakov (a round tower under Russian control), was a small hill called the Mamelon Vert. The Russians had rapidly converted the Mamelon into a redoubt faced with stone. “It had become clear, in the course of the siege, that the Malakov was key to Sevastopol.” (Blake 129). Without taking Malakov, Redan could not be taken. It was necessary to stake all on the capture of Malakov. It was believed that a diversion against the Redan would be sufficient enough to distract Russians from the Malakov. The French were to attack Malakov and the British were given the job of taking Redan. Watches were carefully synchronized, however the British were not to begin their assault until the French flag had been hoisted on the Malakov. “The Russians were completely surprised, and in spite of desperate attempts to counter-attack, never regained their hold on the Malakov.” (Blake 130). At the Redan, the British had a much more difficult task. The ground was much too rocky, the troops inexperienced and the reserves got hopelessly jammed in the narrow trenches. A few brave men got inside, but they were routed and forced to retreat. During the night, the troops were roused by tremendous explosions in Sevastopol. Redan was found to be empty and some were sent in to remove the wounded. At 4 AM, Redan’s magazine blew up, followed by a huge explosion that destroyed the Flagstaff Battery. At daybreak, Russians were seen filing across the bridge of boats towards the north side. Further explosions destroyed Fort Paul and many buildings in the town. Sevastopol, which had defied the allies for the eleven months, was at last in their hands.The author of the Crimean War, RLV Ffrench Blake states that the main cause of the war was because of Russia’s desire for more territory, especially in the Middle East. The author of The Crimean War: A Russian Chronicle, Albert Seaton says the war started because Russia wanted more control in the Middle East and Britain wanted to maintain their control. The author of The Crimean War: A Reappraisal, Philip Warner states “Britain had an empire stretching around the world. If any country threatened the line of communication to through the Middle East, that country must be checked.” (Warner 5). He also goes on to say “However, the looseness and backwardness of their territories did not stop the Russians from wishing to extend their influence.” (Warner 5). The Columbia Concise Encyclopedia says “The Crimean War’s pretext was a quarrel between Russia and France over guardianship of Palestinian holy places.” (Levey 207). As you can see, all my authors agree that the war started because Russia and France wanted control over the Middle East and surrounding areas.As you can see, the Crimean War occurred over an argument between France and Russia over control of the Middle East. This is proven by the events that led up to the war, the battle of Alma, naval campaigns over various seas and the siege of Sevastopol.