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About The Crimean War (1853-1856)

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Printed Date: 20-Oct-2014 at 22:10


Topic: About The Crimean War (1853-1856)
Posted By: tauska
Subject: About The Crimean War (1853-1856)
Date Posted: 23-Jan-2006 at 16:49

Hello toAll Empires Community,

 

This is my first message in AE site. I am a new member from Turkey who enjoys reading history. Also, I watched many documentary serials on the History Channel and Discovery Channels. I enjoy watching the old movies having stories based on history. So far, I read about Ottoman, Turkish history, and something pertain to other regions around Turkey, USA.

 

I always wondered more about the Crimean War, it was barely covered in Turkish high school history curriculum. So, Iíve recently bought and read a book about Crimea War. There is also an old classical movie based on that war: The Light Horse Brigade released in 1938. I remember the blunder, the charge of the Light brigade cavalry in front of the Russian artillery salvos of 8 minutes, after 20 minutes it was not a brigade any more.

I donít know if this subject is covered a lot, but I couldnít find the Author of this book, I am summarizing-reviewing if ever mentioned on AE pages. So, I wanted to include this text in my first message on AE.

 

Here is my review of a book and a few comments at the end.  

 

--------------------

ďThe Crimean War: The truth behind the mythĒ by Clive Ponting

The Crimean War was waged between Britain-France-Ottoman Empire-Piedmont of Italy, and Russia. That war was ostensibly stemmed from the East Church issue which was raised by Russia for going war against Ottoman Empire and to extend her territory to the South. However, the Russians despite the British and France support to Ottomans considered to start war in the principalities-north of Danube. So, the dispute of Eastern Church beginning 1850s escalated and France with British sided for Ottoman Turks. French Emperor-Napoleonís motives were to break the 1815 Vienna Conference resolution: containment of France in Europe by Austria-Prussia-Russia, and to stop Russia gaining more territory from Ottomans. Allies, the British and the French, pledged Ottomans for their protection, and fulfilled their words. Since the war was also took place in Baltic, Caucasia North Seas and Pacific by navies, the Crimean War naming was not true, but Crimea was the place where the allied  and Russian armies confronted each other.

Firstly, the Russians started war in Principalities and made siege of Silistre but retreated in June 1854 because of an Austrian ultimatum. Then, Allied armies, comprising %80 French and 20 % British, landed their troops by navy (comprising %80 French and %20 British) to Crimea without any opposition by Russians. Afterwards, along the way to Sevastapol, thanks to French forces allied army defeated the defending Russian army using muskets against allied superior rifles. But when allies come near to Sevastapol they didnít bother to attack at once and lost a chance of capturing a poorly defended city. Afterwards the battle escalated, Sevastapol defence was improved, and Russian field army attacked the allied positions but didnít obtain any decisive result. During the ostensible siege (the supply lines were not cut to Sevastapol until the stalemate) of Sevastapol. Due to the incompetence of British and indetermination of French high command, by passing time the war turned into an attrition war, then in September 1855 Russians evacuated South of Sevastal then there came a stalemate until the peace settlement. There was also disharmony between allied powers. On Caucasia Russians captured poorly supplied Kars city and withdrawn there after the peace in 6 August 1856.

 

This book points out many things which were considered myth nowadays. It covers tthe incompetence of British army officers which were mainly promoted and assigned to the posts by personal and noble, court contacts, decayed promoting system of British army, the lack of trained personal for expanding navy, the lack of enough army personal, and the incompetence of the noble Lords in the army, and the bad conditions of sanitary and medication systems. The 80 percent of death rate were because of poor medicaiton and diseases. Ponting declares the fact that, Florence Nightingale was not a hero in nursery, in comparison other sister nurses who also served and improved the medication conditions during that war. Nightingale was a person who was not liked by subordinates and bossy and did not run the places better than the others of then. The British before 1850s did a little to reform their army system, the reform need postponed and their army was originally designed for colonial purposed, so were not able to inflict Russia a decisive major defeat, even with the great French support. Duke Wellington stayed in power too long after Waterloo. 

During the 1854/55 winter, there was a logistical disaster for the British and they suffered too much because of their unpreparedness to the climate in such a theatre of war. But the book hardly mentions and ottoman participation in the war; their soldiers were disdained by British and French; Messier the last French commander consider 50 thousand Ottoman troops in Crimea symbolicly present. Before the suicide charge of the Light Horse Brigade, Turks defended their position with heavy casualties, and then retreated. Clive Ponting gives credit to Turks for their resistance against Russian charge. But, Lord Raglan, commander of British army, comes to the field two hours after the beginning of Russian attack (starting 06:00 am), Lord Cardiagan-commander of the Light Brigade arrives  from his yacht in Balaklava Horbour (09:0 am). He also incompetently gives the order of Light Horse Brigade charge then denies the responsibility by blaming his general.  

 

Ponting transcripts many witness accounts and letters to support his judgements about the mythes. He also complains about the poor military archive records of Russians and Ottomans.

Perhaps because of his objective Ponting hardly mentions involment of Ottomans in Crimea, he praises the system and quality of French army, thanks to Algeir expeditions' experiences. Until the end of the war the French sends 600 thousands soldiers to Crimea by rotating its forces, at the end they had 300 thousand man there. They had the biggest army then and the French troops were partially professional.

One thing Clive misses out was the good press Ottoman attracted from the European public before 1850s, due to their stance not to send back the Polish refugees fleeing from Russian army after their revolt against Russian Empire.

 

***********************

Since Iíve recently read that book, if anyone is interested in, I can elaborate some subjects covered in this particular book.




Replies:
Posted By: Paul
Date Posted: 23-Jan-2006 at 18:59
Originally posted by tauska

Afterwards along the way to Sevastapol, thanks to French forces allied army defeated the defending Russian army using muskets against allied superior rifles. But when allies come near to Sevastapol they didnít bothered to attack at once and lost a chance of capturing a poorly defended city.

 

The faliure to send the cavalry by Raglan is seen as the greatest disaster of the war. Sevastapol would probably have fallen that day, instead it had to be seiged for a year. However I think it was the Britsh infantry assault on the central redoubt under withering fire that won Alma, not the French who attacked from the flank. Raglan of course messed up by not lauching cavalry in pursuit of the routed Russians.

 

 

Originally posted by tauska

The 80 percent of death rate were because of poor medicaiton and diseases.

During the 1854/55 winter, there was a logistical disaster for the British and they suffered too much because of their unpreparedness to the climate in such a theatre of war.

 

It's also worth pointing out, better logistical planning meant the larger French army avoided much of this.

 

 

Originally posted by tauska

But the book hardly mentions and ottoman participation in the war; their soldiers were disdained by British and French; Messier the last French commander consider 50 thousand Ottoman troops in Crimea symbolicly present. Before the suicide charge of the Light Horse Brigade, Turks defended their position with heavy casualties, and then retreated. Clive Ponting gives credit to Turks for their resistance against Russian charge. But, Lord Raglan, commander of British army, comes to the field two hours after the beginning of Russian attack from his yacht.

 

 

It's now thought that Raglan faked the report, saying the battle started two hours after it did, meaning the Turks held out for 30 mins not 2 hours 30 mins, so looked cowardly and were responcible for the loss of the flank.

 

 

 

Originally posted by tauska

Perhaps because of his objective Ponting hardly mentions involment of Ottomans in Crimea, he praises the system and quality of French army, thanks to Algeir expeditions' experiences. Until the end of the war the French sends 600 thousands soldiers to Crimea by rotating its forces, at the end they had 3000 thousand man there. They had the biggest army then and the French troops were partially professional.

 

 

Still amazes me just how obsessive Napoleon became over this war, then again he went to Mexico too.



-------------
Light blue touch paper and stand well back

http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk - http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk

http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk - http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk


Posted By: tauska
Date Posted: 24-Jan-2006 at 10:24

In Danube front there were 130 thousands allied-British-French-Ottoman troops. After the Russian retreat because of an Austrian ultimatom to do so, allies looks for a new confrontation venue to inflict a defeat to Russians. Therefore, 60 thousands of allied troops were landed to Alma without any Russian resistance. Menhcikof, commander of Russian army, prefers a field defence by taking the advantage of Alma river venue with his 3 division-30 thousands troops. Thus he uses his chance with the available army division at his convenience. Clive Ponting points out that an irregular resistance of Russians by attacking the left flank-the British of the allied army could have been more detrimental. 

Originally posted by Paul

Originally posted by tauska

Afterwards along the way to Sevastapol, thanks to French forces allied army defeated the defending Russian army using muskets against allied superior rifles. But when allies come near to Sevastapol they didnít bothered to attack at once and lost a chance of capturing a poorly defended city.

The faliure to send the cavalry by Raglan is seen as the greatest disaster of the war. Sevastapol would probably have fallen that day, instead it had to be seiged for a year. However I think it was the Britsh infantry assault on the central redoubt under withering fire that won Alma, not the French who attacked from the flank. Raglan of course messed up by not lauching cavalry in pursuit of the routed Russians.

Yes, the failure to launch cavalry attack after the withdrawing Russians is important; Raglan refuses to send cavalary without artillery support (20 September 1854). At 10:30 the allied attack begins after 5 hours of British delay; the French attacks the left flank of Russians with the allied fleet's considered support, the British makes front attack to Russians. But, after the succes of French, passing the Alma and reaching the plataue and firing their artillery brings the decisive success , so their pressure coerces the Russians to retreat against advancing British infantary capturing the 'Great Redoubt' second time.

 

 

image 1. The Battle of the Alma

 

Given that the French supplied of most of the allied troops, their far fewer casulties confirms the French succes they had in the Alma Battle.  Also, one day affter the Alma battle the French  becomes ready to march to Sevastapol, but it takes two more days for the British army to move. By the way, Menchikof also organizes a covered orderly retreat (until Kachka river) supported with guns. After arriving Sevastapol, they sank Russian navy in the harbour and deploys the navy guns and forces in Sevastapol. Then, Menshikof withdraws with most of the main army from Sevastapol, expecting the fall that night (24 September 1854).

After the prolonged siege Russians prepares an attack to the support line of the British, that was between the siege front and logistic harbour of Balaklava.

 

 

image 2. The south-west of Crimea

 

 

 

image 3. The battle of Balaklava

 

Originally posted by Paul

Originally posted by tauska

But the book hardly mentions and ottoman participation in the war; their soldiers were disdained by British and French; Messier the last French commander consider 50 thousand Ottoman troops in Crimea symbolicly present. Before the suicide charge of the Light Horse Brigade, Turks defended their position with heavy casualties, and then retreated. Clive Ponting gives credit to Turks for their resistance against Russian charge. But, Lord Raglan, commander of British army, comes to the field two hours after the beginning of Russian attack from his yacht.

It's now thought that Raglan faked the report, saying the battle started two hours after it did, meaning the Turks held out for 30 mins not 2 hours 30 mins, so looked cowardly and were responcible for the loss of the flank.

 

Since the distance between siege forces of the British and their logistic-support road (they construct railways in that road by the 1855/56 winter) to Harbour Balaklava was long and poorly protected the Russians prepares an attack to them. But Menshikof starts the attack before two reinforcement divisions arrives. The French considers this attack as diversion from the siege.

Menshikof prepares an attack to capture three surrounding fronts of the North Valley: Fedyukhin Hills and Causeway Heights, end of valley , to be started in 25 October 1854.

The British having information about an upcoming attack, to defend the South Valley-the road to Balaklava, prepares redoubts in the Causeway Heights and deployes there 2800 troops of which more than one third were Ottoman troops. Rustem Pasha, the Ottoman General in Balaklava, informs Raglan upon a report by his spy in Russian army that, Russian would attack the next day; again Raglan does nothing. So, before dawn in 25 October the Russian passes the Chernoya river and captures the undefended Fedyukhin Hills, deploys its guns and then, around 06:00 am the Russian attacks the Redoubt 1 defended by 500 Ottomans. Defending Ottomans, outnumbered by15 to 1, retreats after giving 178 casulty during their struggle. Once capturing the redoubt 1, Russians deploys their guns, guns the other redoubts; but the British doesn not help Ottomans, but they withdraw from the other near redoubts. Those redoubts would be captured again after the Balaklava battle by Ottomans.

Even though he is informed about a Russian attack, Raglan arrives Battlefield 2 hours later (08:00 am) and the head of Light Brigade Cardigan 1 hour later than Raglan. There was even a documentary on ITV (I guess), covering the Light Brigade charge.

If that Light Brigade had not attacked in front of the artillery, that Balaklava battle would be remembered with a few skirmishes, says Ponting in his book.



Posted By: Paul
Date Posted: 24-Jan-2006 at 11:21
Originally posted by tauska

Given that the French supplied of most of the allied troops, their far fewer casulties confirms the succes they had in the Alma Battle. 

 

I think the numbers were 28,000 French, 27,000 British.

 

Clive Ponting seems to have a very different interpretation of the word 'most' to me.



-------------
Light blue touch paper and stand well back

http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk - http://www.maquahuitl.co.uk

http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk - http://www.toltecitztli.co.uk


Posted By: tauska
Date Posted: 24-Jan-2006 at 13:15
Originally posted by Paul

Originally posted by tauska

Given that the French supplied of most of the allied troops, their far fewer casulties confirms the success they had in the Alma Battle. 

 

I think the numbers were 28,000 French, 27,000 British.

 

Clive Ponting seems to have a very different interpretation of the word 'most' to me.

There is no major conflict with your figure and Ponting's interpretation. 

While the Russians expecting allies not capable of redeploying more than 30 thousands troops, they nearly transports more than 60 thousands.

The British lands from Varna to Alma:22.000 infantry + 1.000 cavalry + 3.000 engineers and field guns. =  26.000 total 

The French lands troops (mostly carried on British ships, leaving 11.000 behind to be transported as soon as the ships come back) from Varna to Alma: 25.000 infantry + 2.800 engineers and sixty-eight field guns = 27.800; in addition 7.000 Ottoman forces.

In total, allied forces are comprised of (26.000 British + 27.800 French + 7.000 Ottomans) = 60.700 men against 30.000 Russian troops in Alma Battle.

As mentioned previously, the French provides most of the troops, but gives far fewer casulties than the British.  

Russian casulties : (1800 dead + 3900 wounded or missing = 5700 of 30.000 presence )

*********************

The British: (362 dead + 2500 wounded = 2852 of 26.000 presence)

The French: (200 killed + 1200 wounded = 1400 of 27.800 presence),

*********************

Ottoman forces do not take part  offensively in Alma Battle.

As the casulty number reveals, whilst the French casulty ratio results around %5, British happens to lose twice the ratio (% 10) of the French.

By the way Paul, your last quote is my sentence, Ponting elaborates these issues articulately. However, as it is obvious from the title of his book, Clive Ponting's objective is to pop the myth style success stories in the prevalent British view.  Apparently, Ponting happens to be  biased against British, thus he might give the French more credit.



Posted By: Kapikulu
Date Posted: 26-Jan-2006 at 18:54
Another thing to point out for this war is the Crimean War being the first war with such huge casualties like in the Trench Warfare of the future,with the artillery used very effectively...This much of casualties caused even nursery to be created as an official occupation.

-------------
We gave up your happiness
Your hope would be enough;
we couldn't find neither;
we made up sorrows for ourselves;
we couldn't be consoled;

A Strange Orhan Veli


Posted By: tauska
Date Posted: 26-Jan-2006 at 19:23

Originally posted by Kapikulu

Another thing to point out for this war is the Crimean War being the first war with such huge casualties like in the Trench Warfare of the future,with the artillery used very effectively...This much of casualties caused even nursery to be created as an official occupation.

Ponting in his book, blames the complacency and dominance of Duke of Wellington in power of British Army after the Waterloo for a long time. Wellington doesn't bother considering nursery enough importance.

At the end of Crimean War, Ponting gives an approximate figure for dead casualties as 650.000: 475.000 Russians(not certain due to the lack of Russian records), 95.000 French (75.000 dies because of illness), 22.000 British (4.000 of them actually dies because battle wounds), 50.000 Ottomans dead (probably, poor Ottoman records ), 2.000 Sardinian dead (only 28 of them dies due to battle wounds).

Artillery in Crimean war was one of the things the opponents have similar number of guns, but due to the abundance of ammunition in allied side, near the fall of Sevastopol, the Russian hardly fires their guns. 

After the disastrous 1854/55 winter with a very bad storm sinking many ships, the British suffers a lot because of the bad state of their supply road to the Balaclava harbour. The next year they build a railway by the winter to support their troops with abundant materials.



Posted By: Kapikulu
Date Posted: 29-Jan-2006 at 09:19

And, most of these soldiers hadn't died because of the continious battle, but because of heavy artillery bombardment and epidemic diseases...

Btw, a small detail but, I believe the official name of Sardinia at that time was Piedmont...



-------------
We gave up your happiness
Your hope would be enough;
we couldn't find neither;
we made up sorrows for ourselves;
we couldn't be consoled;

A Strange Orhan Veli


Posted By: tauska
Date Posted: 04-Feb-2006 at 10:37

During the Crimean War the British even resorted to recruit foreign mercenaries like its previous practices in 17. - 18. centuries. During the Napoleon wars and other continentals wars, it was a common by British, to hire fully equipped regiments from the poor European countries or principalities to fight for them. But after the 1815 conference in Vienna, it was not possible anymore to hire regiments or explicitly recruit foreign mercenaries from Europe.

Since the British army urgently lacked troops, they looked for other alternatives. Accordingly, Piedmont state of Italy were wooed by some loans and hopes for their future ambitions. Despite no being satisfied by allies, Piedmont provided the troops to fight with British. Although, it was not promised to them, the French emperor Napoleon helped Italians to unite and fight against Austria for their unity.  

Even Spain was asked to join the allied side, but they demanded too much from the British and then their offer to provide troops was turned down.

After the Crimean war, Austria became the Empire which was despised by all sides: French, English, and Russians. Shortly after Crimean war, Austrian empire lost its key influence on European issues; besides Italy and Germany unified against Austrian will. Prussia prevented Austria to involve in their unification process. Then, the Austrian Empire earned Hungarian support by making their state an Austrian-Hungarian Empire; then they allied to the new founded German Empire. However, the French also made a mistake by conflicting the Austrian policy about the status of German principalities. Shortly after the German unification, the French were inflicted upon a decisive defeat by the Germans. If Napoleon hadn't weakened Austrians that much, it would have been to French interest as well.  

The United States expelled the British ambassador because of trying to recruit mercenaries from their lands. But, the British unwillingly stayed quite against that reaction and avoided a new war.  




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