8 Facts About the Crimean War

8 Facts About the Crimean War

1. Religious tensions helped trigger the war.

While it’s remembered as a clash of empires, the Crimean War was sparked by a seemingly minor religious dispute. For years, Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics had squabbled over access to holy sites within the borders of the majority-Muslim Ottoman Empire. Both France and Russia purported to be the defenders of these Ottoman Christians—France supported the Catholics and Russia the Orthodox—and in 1852 they began jockeying for recognition by the Ottoman government. When the Turks ignored some of his demands, the Russian Czar Nicholas I mobilized his army and occupied the Ottoman territories in what is now Romania.

Fearing that the Czar was looking to dismantle the Ottoman Empire—a weak regime he called the “sick man of Europe”—France and Britain cast their lot with the Turks and declared war on Russia in March 1854. The Crimean War soon transformed into an imperial struggle for influence over the ailing Ottoman Empire, but it never lost its religious overtones. British and French Christians roundly denounced the Russian Orthodox Church in the press, and many Russians and Turks came to view the conflict as a holy war between Eastern Christianity and Islam.

2. It wasn’t fought exclusively in Crimea.

Its name notwithstanding, the Crimean War was a global conflict that featured several different theaters of battle. Early clashes occurred in the Balkans and in Turkey, and the focus only shifted to Crimea after the Allies launched an invasion of the peninsula in September 1854.

While most of the war’s most famous battles would eventually take place in Crimea, naval actions and intermittent fighting also erupted in such far flung places as the Caucasus, the Black Sea, the Baltic and the White Sea on the Northwest coast of Russia. In August 1854, French and British forces even launched an unsuccessful attack on Petropavlovsk, a port city on Russia’s Pacific coastline near Siberia.

3. The Allied forces weren’t very fond of one another.

Though ostensibly united against Russia, the forces of Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire were not natural allies. The British and the French were ancient enemies who had tangled during the Napoleonic Wars a few decades earlier, and they spent most of the Crimean campaign quarreling over strategy and field tactics.

British commander-in-chief Lord Raglan, who had lost an arm at the Battle of Waterloo, was even known to refer to the French—not the Russians—as the “enemy.” Meanwhile, colonial prejudices ensured that both the French and the British mistreated their Ottoman allies, who were branded as unreliable and often beaten, ridiculed or relegated to manual labor. According to one account by a British interpreter, some of the European troops even forced the Turks to carry them on their shoulders whenever they marched across muddy roads or streams.

4. Most of the war was spent in an 11-month siege.

After invading the Crimean Peninsula in the autumn of 1854, the Allied forces scored a victory at the Battle of the Alma and then besieged the vital Russian naval hub at Sevastopol. They believed the city would fall in a matter of weeks, but following a series of bloody Russian counterattacks at the Battles of Balaclava and Inkerman, the war settled into a stalemate.

In what became a preview of World War I’s Western Front, both sides dug extensive trench lines around Sevastopol. Soldiers were forced to suffer through a brutal Russian winter, and many fell victim to “trench madness,” or shell shock, from the constant artillery bombardments and threat of enemy raids. It would eventually take 11 months before a French assault forced the Russians to evacuate Sevastopol. The city’s fall was the symbolic end of the Crimean War, but scattered fighting continued until Russia finally admitted defeat the following year.

5. It was the first war to feature news correspondents and battlefield photographers.

Thanks to new technologies such as the steamship and the electric telegraph, the Crimean War was the first major conflict where civilian journalists sent dispatches from the battlefield.

The most notable war correspondent was William Howard Russell, a Times of London reporter who won legions of readers—and the hatred of many generals—for his descriptions of British military blunders and the appalling conditions of the army’s camps and hospitals. Russell’s reports helped convince the British government to allow nurses such as Florence Nightingale to join in the war effort, and his coverage of the disastrous “Charge of the Light Brigade” at the Battle of Balaclava inspired Alfred Tennyson to pen his poem of the same name.

The war was also brought to life by photographers such as Roger Fenton and James Robertson, who produced hundreds of wet-plate images of battlefields and soldiers in uniform. While their pictures were often staged—Fenton famously moved cannonballs into a road for a photo titled “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”—they became hugely popular on the home front.

6. The war launched Leo Tolstoy’s literary career.

Along with dashing their hopes of victory in Crimea, the Siege of Sevastopol also introduced the Russians to one of their most legendary authors. Leo Tolstoy spent several months serving in defense of the city as an artillery officer, and was one of the last people to evacuate during its fall on September 9, 1855—which also happened to be his 27th birthday.

In between skirmishes and bombardments, the young writer penned a series of unflinching accounts of the siege that were published under the title “Sevastopol Sketches.” Though partially censored by the government, the gritty dispatches gave readers a firsthand glimpse of the horrors of combat, and their popularity helped vault Tolstoy to literary stardom after the war ended. A decade later, the great author would once again draw on his Crimean War experiences while writing one of his most famous works—the epic novel War and Peace.

7. Florence Nightingale wasn’t the war’s only famous nurse.

British nurse Florence Nightingale is famous for pioneering sanitary and administrative techniques in the Crimean War’s disease-ridden hospitals, but she wasn’t the conflict’s only notable medical figure. Allied soldiers also received aid from Mary Seacole, a Jamaican-born woman who traveled to Crimea and divided her time between selling supplies, food and medicine and treating the wounded on the front lines.

Newspapers later nicknamed her “The Creole with the Tea Mug” for her work in providing battle-weary troops with the comforts of home. On the Russian side, a woman named Daria Mikhailova became known as “Dasha from Sevastopol” for dressing soldiers’ wounds using supplies purchased on her own dime, and doctor Nikolai Pirogov helped introduce field surgery and the use of anesthetics. Despite the best efforts of people like Nightingale and Pirogov, infectious disease still killed far more Crimean War soldiers than combat. The British alone suffered an estimated 16,000 deaths from illnesses compared to just 5,000 from battle.

8. The war helped convince Russia to sell Alaska to the United States.

Several factors were involved in Russia’s decision to offload its North American territories in Alaska, but the most pressing arose after its defeat in Crimea. The czarist government found itself in desperate need of gold to offset its crushing war debts, and there were concerns that Alaska might to be lost to the likes of Great Britain in a future war.

The United States, which had been friendly with Russia during the Crimean War, eventually emerged as an obvious buyer for the territory. In 1867, after a delay caused by the Civil War, Secretary of State William Seward inked a deal to purchase Alaska for the cut-rate price of $7.2 million—the equivalent of just two cents an acre. The deal proved to be a remarkable investment, but it was initially unpopular among American politicians, some of whom took to calling Alaska “Seward’s folly” and “Seward’s icebox.”


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At the end of the Napoleonic wars, the Great Powers assembled in Vienna to restore the European state system – a delicate balance between the various major and minor powers that restrained aggression by the mighty, and upheld the rights of the weak.

They hoped to build a permanent peace by suppressing revolutionary republics and upholding stable, orderly monarchies. Despite the divergent aims and ambitions of Russia, Prussia, Austria, Britain and France, a compromise was created, following the brief interruption of Napoleon’s ‘Hundred Days’ and the Battle of Waterloo.

Nicholas decided to settle the ‘sick man of Europe’ by carving up the European part of Turkey.

After the Treaty of Vienna the great powers enjoyed three decades of peace, years in which industrial, political, economic, social and nationalist pressures were suppressed or deflected. But eventually the Vienna system broke down. The initial problem was the weakness of the Ottoman-Turkish empire, and the opportunities this provided for European interference in support of the Christian populations.

The new president of France, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, exploited Turkish weakness to secure concessions for the Catholic church in Palestine, hoping to gain conservative support for his planned coup d’etat. When Tsar Nicholas I of Russia retaliated, sending a mission to recover Greek Orthodox rights, the Turks simply gave way to both parties, and hoped the issue would go away.

Having established the Second Empire, (Louis) Napoleon III lost interest, but Nicholas decided to settle the ‘sick man of Europe’ once and for all. Expecting support from Prussia, Austria and Britain, he planned to carve up the European part of Turkey.

He was mistaken, neither Britain nor Austria wanted to see Russia controlling the Dardanelles. Sensing an opening for a useful diplomatic success France joined Britain in support of Turkey, which rejected the Tsar’s outrageous terms.


The story of her life reveals a complex and private person, with a shrewd and analytical mind. Although her dedication during the Crimean War earned her a worldwide reputation, she only saw this as an opportunity for further work. Rejecting convention to follow what she believed was her calling, she devoted the rest of her life to reforming health care not just in the British army, but in all sections of society. Her social reforms include advocating better hunger relief in India, helping to abolish prostitution laws that were unfair to women and expanding the female participation in the workforce. Against a backdrop of family disapproval and recurring ill health, Florence wrote over 200 books, pamphlets and articles and advised on and oversaw the development of the nursing profession. Today her legacy can be found in nursing standards and hospital design principles and she remains an inspiration to healthcare professionals around the world and one of Britain’s greatest and most famous Victorians.

Here are eight things you (probably) didn’t already know about Florence Nightingale:

1. Florence’s parents named their children after the cities of their birth.

Florence was born in Italy on 12 May 1820, and was named after the city of her birth. She was the second daughter of wealthy English parents William and Frances Nightingale, who had been honeymooning abroad since their marriage in 1818. Their eldest child, Parthenope, also named after her birthplace in Naples, had been born a year earlier.

2. Florence’s father’s surname was originally Shore.

William, Florence’s father’s surname was originally Shore. He inherited his fortune from his mother’s uncle Peter Nightingale, and with it changed his name. Uncle Peter, nicknamed ‘Mad Peter’, was considered an eccentric and known as a wild gambler and heavy drinker.

3. Florence had a natural skill for analysing data.

Florence’s early letters – which often included lists and tables of information, meticulously catalogued flower specimens, transcriptions of poems, shell and coin collections – demonstrate that she had a natural skill for classifying, analysing and documenting data. It was a skill she would go on to develop and use further in her career. She was able to look at data, draw conclusions and create a picture in her mind of the results. She discovered that accurate statistics were the key to understanding how and why things happened. Working with Dr William Farr, a pioneering statistician, she created statistical diagrams to illustrate her findings in a clear and accessible way, calling them ‘coxcombes’ (the first pie charts). In 1860 she was elected the first woman Fellow of the Statistical Society.

4. Florence wrote a novel.

Florence wrote about the lives of women of her class, which evolved into her novel Cassandra. In it, she explored the oppression of the educated and privileged women of Britain, who, if allowed to use their intellect and talents, could contribute so much to life. Instead, they were confined to petty, boring duties within their families. Marriage was the only escape – but that brought it’s own confines. Years later the work was rediscovered and it has become an important feminist text.

5. Florence rescued and hand-reared an owl.

While in Athens in 1850, Florence saw some boys playing with a ball of fluff, which turned out to be a baby owl. She rescued the owlet, which she named Athena, and hand-reared her, carrying her around in her pocket. After Florence left for the Crimea, the poor creature was neglected and died. The bird was later stuffed.

6. Florence turned down several marriage proposals.

Once Florence decided what her calling in life was to be, she set out to secure an independent life for herself. Marriage was out of the question. She had several marriage proposals but refused them all, including her cousin Henry Nicholson, a young suitor called Marmaduke Wyville and Sir Henry Verney, who later married Florence’s sister, Parthemope. The man she came closest to accepting was the philanthropist and poet Richard Monckton Milnes, whom she met in 1842. She knew it was a match her mother would approve of and she thought he would be sympathetic to her interests. However, she eventually turned him down.

7. Florence was not impressed by the gift Queen Victoria offered the troops in the Crimea.

During the war the public at home began sending items to the Crimea to help the soldiers. People sent all sorts of things, sometimes useful and valuable, but some – although well intended – were useless. Florence listed and distributed all the free gifts that were sent and sometimes despaired of others that she had to store. When Queen Victoria offered to send the troops eau de cologne Florence responded that ‘a little gin would more popular’.

8. As Florence’s fame grew, her sister Parthenope acted as her manager.

The first image of Florence as ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ was published in the Illustrated London News on 24 February 1855. It launched her to an iconic status, one which still remains today. The legend of ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ gripped the world and her fame impacted dramatically on her family. Parthenope became her manager at home, collecting cuttings of her sister, and circulating information and reports to family, friends and acquaintances. Knowing that Florence would demand her privacy to be respected, Parthenope refused to consent to the release of photographs and pictures of her. Only two portraits, which had been drawn from life, were published with the family’s authorisation, but they were expensive and not intended for the mass market. This meant demand for portraits of Florence became insatiable and had to be created from the imagination. Many depictions of her were romantic and idealised, and looked nothing like her. She appeared on inexpensive products like paper bags, and a series of affordable Staffordshire figurines was created in 1855.


10 Incredible Facts About The Crimean War

Spanning from October 1853 until February 1856, the Crimean War was a three year long struggle for the acquisition of complete and total power over the command of the Ottoman Empire between the allies Britain, France, Turkey, as well as Sardinia, against Russia. A dispute between the British and the Russians over control of the channel connecting the Augean and Marmara seas, another dispute between Russia and this time France over control of the holy sites in Palestine, and lastly the vehement objection of Turkey to the demands imposed by Russia gave birth to the first ever modern war we now know as the Crimean War.

Russia seems like the big, bad wolf huh? Well, to learn more about the Crimean War, here are 10 incredible facts all about it! Enjoy.

Fact 1: Thousands of soldiers were able to survive the Crimean War because of a team of dedicated nurses, and one nurse in particular, who rose to fame as The Lady With The Lamp. Her name was Florence Nightingale, who found it in her heart to treat the soldiers wounded in the Crimean war despite unsavory conditions and poor medical equipment and administration. Assisted by fellow nurse Mary Seacole and Secretary of War Sidney Herbert, she and a team of nurses were able to properly address the wounded and dying. She was given the nickname Lady With A Lamp, because every night she would take a lamp with her and check on the soldiers to see if they were alright.

Fact 2: The last to survive the great Crimean War? Why, a tortoise named Timothy! Timothy the Tortoise, who was actually a female, was at the old and tender age of 165 when he died back in 2004. She had served as the HMS Queen’s mascot, on aboard the ship throughout most of her life. She was even present during the attack of Sevastopol!

Fact 3: Great Britain took an even greater fall during the time of the Crimean War. It was believed that the country had deployed 21,097 men to fight for the cause, but 16,000out of the estimated 12,097 had died from harsh weather and environmental concerns, as well as disease.

Fact 4: Items such as Raglan sleeves, cardigans, as well as Balaclava helmets, all got their start from the Crimean War. You may even buy them at your local Forever21 or H&M today.

Fact 5: During 1856, murmurings about a possible truce were on the rise. Peace talks were in the works, and at long last, the grueling war had come to an end with the Treaty of Paris coming under wraps. The Black Sea was then named an area of neutral territory. Strictly no warships were allowed to be within perimeter. Building defenses alongside the coast was also prohibited.

Fact 6: Diseases such as typhoid, cholera, infection, as well as dysentery were rampant among barracks and camp sites during the war. Due to the poor conditions plaguing the men, they often died before the next round of machine guns were fired. The nasty barrack hospital that was located in Scutari in Turkey was so bad, the soldiers had to lie on bare floors for nights on end. There were no toilets either, and food was very scarce. The soldiers were only able to eat once a day, often having to stomach rotten or stale food.

Fact 7: Did the beanie make a cameo years before its time? Well, during the war, in order to keep their faces and ears warm from the bitter cold, soldiers resorted to wearing knit-fashioned helmets called Bacalava helmets.

Fact 8: The Crimean War is revered as the first “modern war”, due to the war tactics and weaponry used that has been the start, and has since revolutionized, the face of wars for the coming generations.

Fact 9: The war got its namesake from the land Crimea, because Turkey, as well as Britain and France, were at war on the Crimean Peninsula, which is right by the Black Sea.

Fact 10: After the Crimean War, Russia and Turkey rammed horns again, though the second time around France and Britain opted to stay out of it.


3. He was only 5 feet tall

Despite his achievements, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was known for being visibly self-conscious about his height. He often tried to appear taller by sitting up straigt when on horseback or by wearing a very tall top hat.

‘I often do the most silly useless things to appear to advantage before or attract the attention of those I shall never see again or whom I care nothing about.’ – Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Many have dubbed his incredible engineering feats to have been a result of his “short man syndrome”.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel only stood at a meagre 5 feet tall. Image Credit: Public Domain


Primary Sources

(1) Mary Seacole wrote about the rejection of her offer of help during the Crimean War in her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole (1857).

In my country, where people know our use, it would have been different but here (England) it was natural enough that they should laugh, good-naturedly enough, at my offer. Once again I tried, and had an interview this time with one of Miss Nightingale's companions. She gave me the same reply, and I read in her face the fact, that had there been a vacancy, I should not have been chosen to fill it. Was it possible that American prejudices against colour had some root here? Did these ladies shrink from accepting my aid because my blood flowed beneath a somewhat duskier skin than theirs?

(2) The Morning Advertiser (19 January, 1855)

She (Mary Seacole) is often seen riding out to the front with baskets of medicines of her own preparation, and this is particularly the case after an engagement with the enemy.

(3) Letter written by Sir John Hall, Inspector-General of Hospitals (30 June, 1856)

She (Mary Seacole) not only, from the knowledge she had acquired in the West Indies, was enabled to administer appropriate remedies for their ailments, but, what was of as much importance, she charitably furnished them with proper nourishment, which they had no means of obtaining except in hospital, and most of that class had an objection to go into hospital.

(4) Illustrated London News (24th February, 1855)

Although the public have been presented with several portrait-sketches of the lady who has so generously left this country to attend to the sufferings of the sick and wounded at Constantinople, we have assurance that these pictures are "singularly and painfully unlike". We have, therefore, taken the most direct means of obtaining a sketch of this excellent lady, in the dress she now wears, in one of "the corridors of the sick".

(5) Letter in The Times on the activities of Florence Nightingale at Scutari (February, 1855)

Wherever there is disease in its most dangerous form, and the hand of the spoiler distressingly nigh, there is that incomparable woman sure to be seen her benignant presence is an influence for good comfort even amid the struggles of expiring nature. She is a 'ministering angel' without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and, as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every fellow's face softens with gratitude at the sight of her.

(6) Lady Alicia Blackwood, A Narrative of Personal Experiences and Impressions during a Residence on the Bosphorous throughout the Crimean War (1881)

She (Mary Seacole) had, during the time of battle, and in the time of fearful distress, personally spared no pains and no exertion to visit the field of woe, and minister with her own hands such things as she could comfort, or alleviate the sufferings of those around her freely giving to such as could not pay, and to many whose eyes were closing in death, from whom payment could never be expected.

(7) Report in The Times newspaper on the Royal Guards Regimental Dinner (26 August, 1856)

Among the visitors was Mrs Seacole, whose appearance awakened the most rapturous enthusiasm. The soldiers not only cheered her, but chaired her around the gardens, and she might have suffered from the oppressive attentions of her admirers, were it not that two sergeants of extraordinary stature gallantly undertook to protect her from the pressure of the crowd. However, the excellent lady did not appear in the least alarmed, but, on the contrary, smiled most graciously and seemed highly gratified.


Timeline of the Crimean War

The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire against an alliance of French, British, Ottoman and Sardinian troops. The war broke out in the autumn of 1853 and came to a conclusion in March 1856 with the Treaty of Paris. The Crimean War was a conflict resulting in a large death toll and for many had far-reaching consequences.

February 1853- Prime Minister Lord Aberdeen appoints Stratford Canning as British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

2nd March 1853- Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov is sent on a special mission and travels to Constantinople with demands.

April 1853- Lord Stratford sails to Constantinople where he seeks the Sultan’s rejection of a Russian proposed treaty which he claims would be a slight on the independent status of the Turks.

21st May 1853- Menshikov leaves Constantinople, thus breaking off relations.

31st May 1853- The Russians give ultimatum to Turkey.

June 1853- Following the breakdown in diplomatic discussions between the Ottomans and the Russians, the Tsar decides to send an army to the Danubian Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia.

July 1853- Escalating tensions leads to Britain sending a fleet to the Dardanelles, linking up with a similar fleet sent by the French.

July 1853- Turkish troops stand up against Russian army who have occupied what is now modern-day Romania, along the Russo-Turkish border. The Turks are supported in their action by the British.

23rd September 1853- The orders are given for the British fleet to sail to Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul.

4th October 1853- The Turks declare war on Russia.

October 1853- The conflict ensues with the Turks leading an offensive against the Russians in the disputed Danubian territories.

30th November 1853- The Battle of Sinope, a Russian naval victory which sees the destruction of a squadron of Ottoman ships anchored in the harbour. The Russian victory prompts retaliation from the Western forces.

3rd January 1854- The Ottomans receive back-up in the Black Sea as French and British fleets enter the waters.

28th March 1854- Britain and France declare war on Russia.

August 1854- Austria, which remains neutral in the war, occupies the Danubian principalities which Russia had evacuated some months previously.

7th September 1854- The Allied troops led by French commander Maréchal Jacques Leroy de Saint-Arnaud and British commander Lord Fitzroy Somerset Raglan set sail from the Ottoman port of Varna with around 400 ships. They leave Ottoman territory with no obvious plan of attack, a lack of planning that would characterise much of the conflict.

14th September 1854- The Allied troops arrive in Crimea.

19th September 1854- Initial encounter at River Bulganek.

20th September 1854- The Battle of Alma takes place, named after the River Alma. The frenetic and ill-conceived attack is fought between Allied troops against the Russian forces.

The Allies march towards Sevastapol which they deem to be strategically significant whilst the Russians go to the Alma Heights, a position offering some defensive protection, led by their commander Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov.

The French pursue the Russians up the cliffs whilst the British eventually force the Russians back with their rifle power. The Russians are forced to retreat. The bloodshed is already amounting to the thousands, with around 10,000 in total, almost half of them Russian.

17th October 1854- The Siege of Sevastapol is marked by the Allied navy bombarding the city six times. During the besieging of the city many important battles will ensue.

The city is strategically important because it is the location of the Tsar’s Black Sea Fleet, seen as a threat to the Mediterranean.

The port would remain vitally important throughout the war, with Allied forces managing to encircle Sevastapol only after the Russian army withdrew. The siege would only reach its conclusion almost a year after the first moves had been made.

23rd October 1854- Florence Nightingale and around 38 other nurses travel from England to help tend to the wounded.

25th October 1854- The Battle of Balaclava forms part of the wider conflict involving the siege of Sevastapol.

In October the Russian forces gather together reinforcements, greatly outnumbering their Allied opponents. The Russians subsequently launch their assault against the British base, initially gaining control of important ridges surrounding the port. Despite this, the Allies manage to hold onto Balaklava.

As the Russians are held off, the Allied forces make the crucial decision to recover some of their guns, a fateful choice that led to the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade.

The resulting chaos and miscommunication between officers results in around six hundred men led by Lord Cardigan riding straight into a doomed mile-and-a-quarter-long charge, facing shots from three different directions. This fateful moment in the war was memorialised by Alfred Lord Tennyson in his famous poem.

Charge of the Light Brigade

26th October 1854- The Battle of Little Inkerman

5th November 1854- The Battle of Inkerman results in the British and French holding the field and forcing a Russian withdrawal.

January 1855- Benjamin Disraeli, Leader of the Opposition, blames Lord Aberdeen and the British ambassador Stratford for their role in instigating the conflict, inevitably leading to a series of events, a subsequent enquiry and the resignation of Aberdeen.

10th January 1855- The Russians abort attack at Balaklava.

26th January 1855- The Sardinians enter the war and send 10,000 troops to assist Allied forces.

17th February 1855- The Battle of Eupatoria, an important port city in western Crimea. The Russians led by General Khrulev attempt to launch a surprise attack on Ottoman garrison, which ultimately fails as the Ottomans and Allied fleet respond forcefully, leaving Khrulev no alternative but to retreat.

20th February 1855- The aborted attack by Allied forces at Chernaya.

22nd February 1855- Russian army assault successfully seizes and manages to fortify the Mamelon (a strategic hillock).

24th February 1855- French launch assault on the “White Works” which proves to be unsuccessful.

9th April 1855- 2nd bombardment by Allied forces against Sevastapol.

19th April 1855- Successful British assault on the rifle pits.

6th June 1855- 3rd bombardment of the city of Sevastapol.

8th-9th June 1855- The Allied forces successfully assault the “White Works”, Mamelon and “The Quarries” (8-9 June 1855)

17th June 1855- 4th bombardment of the capital, Sevastapol.

Siege of Sevastapol

18th June 1855- Allied assault proves unsuccessful against Malakoff and Great Redan.

16th August 1855- Battle of Chernaya. Fought on the outskirts of Sevastapol, the battle is a Russian offensive acting on the orders of Tsar Alexander II. The plan is to push back Allied forces and end the siege of the city. The result is an Allied victory forcing a Russian retreat.

17th August 1855- 5th bombardment of the besieged city of Sevastapol.

5th September 1855- 6th and final bombardment of Sevastapol by Allied forces, the conclusion of the year-long siege of the city.

8th September 1855- Allies assault the Malakoff, Little Redan, Bastion du Mat and the Great Redan. The French make strategic gains in Russia’s defences.

9th September 1855- Russians retreat from Sevastopol bringing the siege to a conclusion.

11th September 1855- The Siege of Sevastapol ends. The Russians evacuate the city and blow up forts as well as sink their ships.

The war enters another phase.

29th September 1855- The Russians attack on Kars is brutal and lasts seven hours. They are unsuccessful.

October 1855- The Ottomans are in desperate need of reserves in Kars as they are running out of supplies. Due to treacherous weather conditions, reinforcements are unable to reach the garrison.

25th November 1855- The surrender of Kars to General Muravyov. The Russians are shocked by the conditions.

16th January 1856- The Tsar accepts the Austrian demands.

1st February 1856- Russia feels pressurised by the threat of Austria joining the Allies, forcing a preliminary discussion on peaceful terms and conditions.

24th February 1856- The Paris Peace Conference opens.

29th February 1856- Armistice in the Crimea.

Treaty of Paris

30th March 1856- The Treaty of Paris is signed.

The treaty addresses the issue of territorial disputes and redraws the boundaries once more.

Issues of Russian expansionism and the importance of the Ottoman Empire would however continue to be a feature in geopolitical events.

Jessica Brain is a freelance writer specialising in history. Based in Kent and a lover of all things historical.


Your 60-second guide to the Crimean War

A major European conflict of the 19th century, the Crimean War (1853–6) saw an alliance led by Britain and France challenge Russian expansion. Why did the Crimean War break out? And where was the conflict fought? What were the major battles of the Crimean War? Was the war on the Crimean peninsula the first 'modern war'? Here are the need-to-know facts about the Crimean War, from the religious tensions which spurred the conflict to the battle of Balaclava in October 1854…

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Published: November 26, 2018 at 10:43 am

Dr David Murphy, a lecturer at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, brings you some need-to-know facts on why, when and where the Crimean War happened…

Q: What was the Crimean War, and when was it fought?

A: It was fought by an alliance of Britain, France, Turkey and Sardinia against Russia. It broke out in October 1853 – although Britain and France only became involved in 1854 – and ended in February 1856.

Q: Why did it break out?

A: In short, Russia was expanding into the Danube region – Romania today. This was under Turkish control. Therefore, Turkey and Russia went to war in 1853, and the following year Britain and France – fearful of Russian expansion – became involved.

Britain and France did not like to see Russia pushing down into the Danube region. They feared Russia would continue pushing down, and eventually come into British India through Afghanistan.

Religious tensions also played a part. Russia made an issue of the fact that the holiest sites in Christianity – Jerusalem, Bethlehem etc – were under Turkish control.

Q: Where was the war fought?

A: It was fought on the Crimean peninsula, and also on the Black Sea. It was supposed to play out in the Danubian Principalities (Moldavia and Walachia), but successful Turkish military action and political pressure from Britain, France and Austria forced Russia to withdraw.

The new target for France and Britain became the Russian naval base at Sevastopol – they wanted to destroy Russian naval power in the Black Sea.

There were three main battles: the battle of the Alma on 20 September 1854, the battle of Balaclava on 24 October, and a major Russian attack at the Inkerman, in November.

After the battle of the Alma, the city was besieged by British, French, and later Sardinian troops. The Russians came out in October and November and tried to push the allies back. But these were not decisive, and the siege dragged on until September 1855.

This was trench warfare, with British and French troops trying to push into certain Russian positions. There were heavy casualties. More than 200,000 were killed. That is for all armies, including the Russians.

Q: How did the war come to an end?

A: In September 1855 the Russians evacuated Sevastopol following the storming of the vital Malakhov bastion by French troops. In short, Russia gave in, and there began a move towards peace talks. The Treaty of Paris was signed on 30 March 1856.

Q: What were the outcomes of the war?

A: As part of the treaty, the Russian naval base was supposed to have been run down, to reduce Russian power in the Black Sea, but it never happened. Britain and France were soon no longer strong enough to make it happen, and there emerged increasing tensions between them.

But not all of the problems went away. Turkey and Russia went to war once again in 1877, but this time Britain and France stayed out.

Q: There have been suggestions that the Crimean War was one of the first ‘modern’ wars. Is this true?

A: Yes, we can recognise a number of trends. There was a level of international alliance – major powers coming together – that we would recognise today. There was also public hysteria to get involved in the war, as in the First World War.

Weapons were also more modern, and it prophesied the trench warfare that would later be seen in the American Civil War.

Q: And didn’t Florence Nightingale rise to fame during the war?

A: Yes. This was the first war in which you saw letters being sent home, and many of them were published in newspapers.

Florence Nightingale heard about the poor medical conditions in the Crimea region, and went there as a civilian to help. She became a big news story. The Crimean War was arguably the first media-driven war.

Dr David Murphy is a lecturer at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, specialising in military history.

This article was first published by HistoryExtra in March 2014.


5 Key Facts About Crimea

In the ongoing international showdown between Russia and Ukraine, the region known as Crimea has emerged as the top prize — a position it has held, for better or worse, for millennia.

Russian-allied troops in Crimea have taken hold of key targets — including airports, government offices and military bases — and Russian military leaders demanded the complete surrender of all Ukrainian forces in Crimea on Monday (March 3).

What is it about this peninsula that makes it so desirable as a geopolitical trophy? The answer lies in Crimea's unique climate, diverse culture, geography and often-troubled history. [The 10 Epic Battles That Changed History]

1. Crimea is semi-autonomous

Crimea has been a part of Ukraine since 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev "gave" it to Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991. Since that time, Crimea has existed as a semi-autonomous region of the Ukrainian nation, with strong political bonds to Ukraine — and equally strong cultural ties to Russia.

Crimea has its own legislative body — the 100-member Supreme Council of Crimea — and executive power is held by a Council of Ministers, which is headed by a chairman who serves with the approval of the president of Ukraine. The courts, however, are part of the judicial system of Ukraine and have no autonomous authority.

2. Crimea's climate and geography

Crimea is surrounded almost completely by the Black Sea, and encompasses an area of about 10,000 square miles (26,000 square kilometers), roughly the size of the state of Maryland. The peninsula is connected to the Ukrainian mainland by the narrow Isthmus of Perekop.

And Crimea — which rests about 200 miles (322 km) northwest of Sochi, Russia — enjoys the same mild, year-round climate as the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The climate is a big reason why Russian leaders are so adamant about keeping Crimea within their sphere: The Black Sea is home to Russia's only warm-water ports.

Though Crimea is recognized worldwide as a part of Ukraine, the Russian Navy has kept its Black Sea Fleet stationed at a naval base in Sevastopol (in southern Crimea) since the late 1700s. In 2010, Russia negotiated an agreement that allows the country to share the all-important Sevastopol naval base through 2042, in exchange for deep discounts of about $40 billion on natural gas from Russia.

3. Guns, gas and grains

Beyond the strategic importance of Crimea and Ukraine, the situation in the region is complicated by both the abundance and scarcity of certain natural resources.

Ukraine has been called "the breadbasket of Russia" for centuries, since the region produced much of the grain needed to feed the country's vast czarist empire. Even today, Ukraine is one of the world's largest producers of corn and wheat, and much of that passes through Crimean ports. (More than 50 percent of the Crimean economy is devoted to food production and distribution industries, according to Ukrainian government figures.)

But the semiarid climate that makes Crimea such a popular tourist destination also makes the peninsula largely dependent on Ukraine for water, as well as about 70 percent of its food, according to Slate.

The energy picture in Crimea and Ukraine is also tricky: Crimea relies on Ukraine for much of its electricity, and Europe relies on Russia for about 25 percent of its natural gas, according to CNN. Furthermore, the natural gas that Russia sends to Europe travels largely through pipelines that snake across the Ukrainian landscape.

That's why any instability in the region is bound to send shock waves through international energy markets: Crude-oil prices jumped by $2.33 a barrel on Monday (March 3), due in large part to jitters over the Russian aggression in Crimea, according to the Associated Press.

4. The Crimean War

If you're looking for a time when the geopolitical scene in Crimea was stable, you won't have much luck. The peninsula has, throughout its long history, been occupied by ancient Greeks, Romans, Goths, Huns, Ottomans, Mongols, Venetians and Nazi Germans. [In Photos: Amazing Ruins of the Ancient World]

From 1853 to 1856, the Crimean War roiled the area, as France, England and the Ottoman Empire fought the Russians for control of Crimea and the Black Sea. Russia eventually lost and ceded its claim to the peninsula, but not before the cities and villages of Crimea were ravaged.

Despite its devastation, the Crimean War was noteworthy for several advances: Florence Nightingale and Russian surgeons introduced modern methods of nursing and battlefield care that are still in use today the Russians soon abolished their medieval system of serfdom (in which peasants were bound to serve landowners, even as soldiers) and the use of photography and the telegraph gave the war a distinctly modern cast.

5. Crimean Tatars wield influence

For proof that the past is never really gone, you need look no further than Crimea, home to an ancient ethnic group known as the Tatars, who still wield considerable influence.

Primarily Muslim, the Tatars of Crimea were instrumental in making the peninsula one of the centers of Islamic culture. They were also known as slave traders who raided lands as far north as modern-day Poland.

The Tatars didn't fare well in the Crimean War or in later conflicts, and many fled the region. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin may have dealt the Tatars their cruelest blow: By shipping food out of Crimea to central Russia in the 1920s, Stalin starved hundreds of thousands of Tatars.

During World War II, Crimean Tatars were deported by the thousands to serve as laborers and other menial workers in Russia under inhuman conditions — about half the Tatar population reportedly died as a result. [Video - World War II Underwater Graveyard Discovered]

After the fall of the Soviet empire, Tatars began to return to their ancestral Crimean homeland, where they now number about 250,000 — roughly 12 percent of the Crimean population.

For obvious reasons, the Crimean Tatars take a dim view of renewed Russian incursions into their homeland, and are likely to put up some resistance. "If there is a conflict, as the minority, we will be the first to suffer," Usein Sarano, a Crimean Tatar, told Reuters. "We are scared for our families, for our children."

They may be outnumbered, however: While much of western Ukraine favors a greater political, economic and cultural alliance with Western Europe and the United States, the majority of those in eastern Ukraine and Crimea — where many residents are ethnic Russians — look to Moscow for leadership and support.


Grenadier Guards during WW2

WW2 Battalions of the Grenadier Guards

1st Battalion:
03 September 1939: The Battalion was based at Pirbright, Surrey, and part of the 7th Brigade.
September 1939: It became part of the BEF serving in France & Belgium. They were attached to 3rd Infantry Division.
June 1940: Evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK.
September 1941: It then served as a Motor Battalion with the Guards Armoured Division.
06 June 1944: It took part in the Normandy landings. From here carried on fighting in North Western Europe.

2nd Battalion:
03 September 1939: The Battalion was based at Pirbright, Surrey, and part of the 7th Brigade
September 1939: It became part of the BEF serving in France & Belgium. They were attached to 3rd Infantry Division.
June 1940: Evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK.
21 October 1941: It converted to tanks and served with the Guards Armoured Division.
15 January 1943: Became 2nd (Tank) Battalion.
06 June 1944: It took part in the Normandy landings in the same Division. From here carried on fighting in North Western Europe.
11 June 1945: The Battalion converted back to infantry.

3rd Battalion:
1937: The Battalion was stationed at Chelsea Barracks, London
September 1939: It became part of the BEF serving in France & Belgium. They were attached to the 1st Guards Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
June 1940: Evacuated from Dunkirk and returned to the UK.
June 1942: The Battalion, still in the UK and same Brigade but by now transferred to the 78 Infantry Division.
November1942: Serving in Tunisia, North Africa.
February 1943: It had transferred to 6 Armoured Division, still part of same Brigade.
March 1944: Battalion serving in Italy.
May 1945: Entered Austria.
September 1945: Deployed to Palestine in attempt to keep the peace.

4th Battalion:
1940: The Battalion was raised and served with the 6th Guards Tank Brigade
06 June 1944: It took part in the Normandy landings. From here carried on fighting in North Western Europe.
1947: It disbanded.

5th Battalion:
1941: The Battalion was raised and served in North Africa and Italy where it fought significant battles in the Medjez-El-Bab and along the Mareth Line and in Italy at Salerno, Monte Camino, Salerno and along the Gothic Line .
1945: It disbanded.

6th Battalion:
1941: The Battalion was raised in Caterham, Surrey.
June 1942: It set sail from Liverpool to Syria where they became part of 201st Guards Brigade. They had to guard the border and protect the oil pipelines at Kirkuk.
March 1943: Moved to North Africa to join 8th Army under General Montgomery and trained as "Motorised Infantry" in desert warfare.
16 March 1943: A few days after arrival the Battalion was engaged in the first battle at the Mareth Line, known as "The Battle of the Horseshoe". The Battalion suffered a high loss in casualties.
09 September 1943: They landed at Salerno in Italy attached to the 5th Army, 201st Guards Brigade and part of the 'Black Cats' 56 Division under the American General, Mark Clark.
08 November 1943: Where in action on the Monte Camino for 4 days and suffered greatly.
12 November 1943: The Battalion had moved down from the mountain with only 260 men for duty. They were never committed to a major battle again.
The Battalion, after Monte Camino, continued action on the River Garigliano and at Minturno.
04 December 1944: The battalion was disbanded.


The daughter of Newson Garrett, a one-time broker turned prosperous businessman, Elizabeth, in enduring and overcoming vast amounts of prejudice and hostility towards her ambitions, clearly had indomitable determination and did not suffer fools gladly. However, she was also described as having a ‘superior mind’, ‘great calmness of demeanour’, ‘a large amount of firmness’ and ‘fairness and coolness in an argument’.

She was inspired to become a doctor after making the acquaintance of Elizabeth Blackwell, an English woman who had emigrated with her parents to the United States and had qualified as a physician from the University of Geneva after many fruitless attempts to be accepted into American medical schools. However, female doctors were unheard of in nineteenth-century Britain and her attempts to study at a number of medical schools were denied. Despite these setbacks, Elizabeth doggedly pursued her dream, enrolling as nursing student at Middlesex Hospital and attending classes intended for male students, studying Latin, Greek and materia medica privately, gaining a certificate in anatomy and physiology from the Society of Apothecaries and establishing her own practice and dispensary for women in London.

Not long after graduating from the University of Sorbonne, Elizabeth was elected to the first London School Board and was made one of the visiting physicians of the East London Hospital for Children. In 1871 she married James Skelton Anderson, co-owner of the Orient Steamship Company and financial adviser to the East London Hospital. Two years later she gained membership of the British Medical Association (BMA) and the following year co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women with Sophia Jex-Blake, lecturing at what was the only teaching hospital in Britain to offer courses for women and becoming dean of the school in 1883. In November 1908 she was elected mayor of Aldeburgh, the first female mayor in England.

As the first woman to secure a medical diploma in Britain, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson paved the way for other women, setting a precedent for aspiring female physicians and championing women’s rights. Here are 11 things you (probably) didn’t know about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson:

1. Elizabeth was one of 12 children of a pawnbroker

Born on 9 June 1836 in Whitechapel, London, Elizabeth Garrett was the second of twelve children of Newson Garrett, a pawnbroker from Suffolk and his wife, Louisa (nee Dunnell) from London. The Garretts had their first three children - Louie, Elizabeth and Newson (who died aged 6 months) - in quick succession whilst living in a Whitechapel pawnbroker’s shop. Working his way up in the world, her father became the manager of larger pawnbrokers and a silversmith, so the family moved to 142 Long Acre, London and three more children were born. At the age of 29, Newson moved his family back to Aldeburgh, Suffolk where he bought a barley and coal merchants and constructed Snape Maltings, a range of buildings for malting barley. As the business expanded, five more children were born and by 1850 Newson was prosperous businessman, able to build Alde House a mansion on a hill behind Aldeburgh.

2. Elizabeth didn’t attend school until her teens

There was no school in Aldeburgh, so Elizabeth learned the three Rs from her mother and at the age of 10 a governess, Miss Edgeworth, was employed to educate Elizabeth and her sister. When Elizabeth was 13 she was sent to a private boarding school in Blackheath, London, which was run by the step aunts of poet Robert Browning. Here she was taught English literature, French, Italian and German as well as deportment, but Elizabeth was dissatisfied with the lack of science and mathematics instruction. Outside of formal schooling, Elizabeth’s parents encouraged all their children to pursue their ambitions and to take an interest in local politics. Contrary to practices at the time, Elizabeth and her siblings were allowed the freedom to explore the local area and to encouraged to travel - when Elizabeth finished school in 1850 she was sent on a short tour abroad, which ended with a visit to the Great Exhibition in London. After completing her formal education, Elizabeth spent the next nine years tending to domestic duties, but continued to study Latin and arithmetic and read widely.

3. Elizabeth and Millicent Fawcett were sisters

In 1865, Elizabeth had joined forces with some of her feminist friends, to form a women’s discussion group called the Kensington Society, which organised a petition asking parliament to grant women the vote. Although the petition was rejected, it was supported by Liberals such as John Stuart Mill and Henry Fawcett. Henry, the blind MP for Brighton, and Elizabeth became friendly, but Elizabeth rejected his marriage proposal as she believed it may damage her career. Fawcett later married Elizabeth’s younger sister, Millicent, who went on to become a leader in the constitutional campaign for women’s suffrage. As a suffragist Millicent took a moderate line, but was a tireless campaigner and concentrated much of her energy on the struggle to improve women’s opportunities for higher education, co-founding Newnham College, Cambridge in 1871. Elizabeth acted as Henry’s medical adviser.

4. Elizabeth was a lifelong friend of the feminist Emily Davies

At the age of 18, Elizabeth and her sister visited their school friends, Jane and Anne Crow, in Gateshead, where they met Emily Davies, the early feminist and future co-founder of Girton College, Cambridge. Davies became a lifelong friend and confidante, who encouraged Elizabeth to become a career-woman.

5. Elizabeth’s radical ideas had the support of her father

Initially, Newson was opposed to the idea of his daughter becoming a physician, but he relented and did all he could both financially and otherwise to support her attempts to become Britain’s first female doctor. Her mother, on the other hand, was horrified. Accompanied by her father, Elizabeth visited leading doctors in Harley Street, but was unsuccessful and similarly applied to study in several medical schools, all of which refused to accept a female student. She therefore spent the first six months as a surgery nurse at Middlesex Hospital and attended lectures that were provided for the male doctors in the apothecary. She was unsuccessful in her attempt to enrol in the hospital’s medical school and employed a tutor to study anatomy and physiology three times a week until she was allowed into the dissecting room and chemistry lectures. After complaints from male students about her admittance, Elizabeth was obliged to leave the hospital, but did so with an honours certificate in chemistry and materia medica. She also privately obtained her certificate in anatomy and physiology.

Determined to secure a qualifying diploma in order to place her name on the Medical Register and, h aving been refused entry to medical schools, through a loophole Elizabeth was able to be admitted to p ursue the degree of Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (L.S.A.). Although less prestigious than an MD, or doctorate of medicine, it would entitle her to be a practising physician. After more years battling to be accepted whilst she studied, in 1865 she presented her credentials to the Society of Apothecaries, but they refused to administer the examination. Her father, Newson, threatened to sue so the apothecaries reversed their decision and Elizabeth obtained her licence to practice medicine and saw her name enrolled in the Medical Register one year later the first woman qualified in Britain to do so. As soon as Elizabeth was granted her diploma, the Society of Apothecaries immediately revised their charter to require graduation from an accredited medical school—all of which excluded women—as a prerequisite for the L.S.A. degree. Another woman’s name would not be added to the Medical Register for the next 12 years. Elizabeth was the first British woman to secure an English diploma in medicine, however the honour of being the first female put on the British Medical Register goes to her acquaintance, Elizabeth Blackwell (who had a foreign qualification).

Although licensed to practice medicine, Elizabeth could not take up a medical post in any hospital, so with her father’s financial backing opened her own practice at 20 Upper Berkeley Street, London and a little while later, St Mary’s Dispensary for Women and Children.

6. Elizabeth became involved in a dispute with Josephine Butler

After opening her practice, patients were scarce initially, reluctant to consult a female physician. However, when an outbreak of Cholera threatened, citizens, both rich and poor rushed to her clinic in desperation. In the first year she tended to 3,000 new patients, who made 9,3000 outpatient visits to the dispensary.

During this period, Elizabeth became involved in a dispute with Josephine Butler, the feminist and social reformer who campaigned for women’s suffrage , the right of women to better education and the abolition of child prostitution , and human trafficking. The contention was over the Contagious Diseases Acts, which Butler believed discriminated against women. Elizabeth took the view that the measures provided the only means of protecting innocent women and children.

7. Elizabeth taught herself French in order to gain her degree

Determined to obtain her medical degree, Elizabeth taught herself French so that she could go to university in Paris. She had that the Dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Sorbonne was more open towards admitting female medical students. In 1870 she obtained France’s first ever MD degree for a woman.

8. Elizabeth was the first woman to be appointed to a medical post in Britain

In 1870, Elizabeth was elected to the first London School Board, an office newly opened to women and received the highest vote amongst all the candidates. She was also made one of the visiting physicians of the East London Hospital for Children, becoming the first woman in Britain to be appointed to a medical post.

9. Elizabeth co-founded the first teaching hospital in Britain to offer courses for women

In 1872 Elizabeth’s dispensary was renamed the New Hospital for Women and Children and treated women from all over London for gynaecological conditions. It was staffed entirely by women and Elizabeth Blackwell, the woman who inspired Elizabeth to become a doctor, was appointed Professor of Gynaecology. The hospital moved to new premises in 1874, the same year that Elizabeth co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women, the only teaching hospital in Britain at the time to train women, with other pioneering female physicians and feminists, such as Sophia Jex-Blake, Emily Blackwell and Thomas Henry Huxley. Jex-Blake expected to be put in charge, but Elizabeth believed that her temperament made her unsuitable, so Isabel Thorne was appointed instead. Elizabeth was Dean of the school 1883 to 1902 Jex-Blake was the only member of the council who voted against the decision. The hospital was later called the Royal Free Hospital of Medicine and became part of what is now the medical school of University College London.

10. Elizabeth was the only female member of the British Medical Association for 19 years

Elizabeth gained membership of the British Medical Association (BMA) in 1873, but remained the only female for 19 years after Association voted against the admission of further women. In 1897 she was elected president of the East Anglian branch.

11. Garrett was active in politics and the women’s suffrage movement

Although not as active as her sister, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Elizabeth was active in the women’s suffrage movement. In 1866 she and Emily Davies presented petitions signed by more than 1,500 asking that female heads of household be given the vote and she also joined the British Women’s Suffrage Committee. In 1889 she became a member of the Central Committee of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage and became more active after her husband’s death in 1907. Continuing her interest in politics Elizabeth was elected mayor of Aldeburgh in 1908, the first woman mayor in England, and gave speeches for women’s suffrage. At the age of 72 she became a member of the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), storming the House of Commons and going on a lecture tour with Anne Kenny. However she withdrew from the WSPU in 1911 after the militant activity increased, objecting to their arson campaign.


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