The Crimean War

NCMW

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