Crimea War Summary

Basically, I roughly wrote up everything in my book so I could record myself saying it to listen as a podcast. You can do the same or just turn this into notes. Hope it's helpful :)

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  • Created on: 07-04-12 12:07
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So what caused the Crimean war? For a start the Russian expansion scared Britain. Particularly, their
desire to add turkey to their empire because of its strategic position controlling the exit from the
black sea to the Mediterranean which Britain needed to maintain. Additionally, there were religious
quarrels between France who supported the Catholics and Russians who supported the orthodox
monks. Additionally, the Russian empire was slowly advancing towards the jewel of Britain's empire,
India. Therefore, France, Britain and Turkey all allied against Russia.
Was the British army ready in 1854? The purchase of commission started in 1863 and meant that the
sons of the wealthy could buy a place in whatever regiment they wanted whether they had the skills
or not. Those who earned their commissions from courses were often looked down upon over the
wealthy who had brought their place. The commissions were sold for many reasons. They ensured
officers had private means and were less likely to steal. They prevented the poor from becoming
officers reinforcing the class system and thought that the wealthy were more likely to support the
monarchy. Overall the British Army was not particularly healthy, it had bad leaders an uneducated
army, bad pay for its soldiers, the dregs of society, a lack of supplies, disease and a lack of
communication.
Reporting the Crimean were two particular men; Roger Fenton and William Russell. Roger Fenton took
photographs of the war. William Russell wrote for newspapers on the war. The pair were similar in
many ways, for example they were both employed to report on the war and their work shocked
Britain. However they were both not very reliable because although Fenton was present through
most of the war he could not take pictures of moving images or dead bodies, and Russell was very
anti Turkish and anti French, plus he was absent from the crimea for much of the war and relied on
sources. Russell generally reported bad things while Fenton reported good things.
The Battle of Alma, although won by the British, was a shambles. It had bad leadership, no battle plan
and no preparation. Furthermore, the British had a language barrier problem with the French and a
huge wave of cholera. The won left the British feeling victorious and patriotic. Jingoistic songs and
poetry were released.
Then the Battle of Balaclava came on the 25th October 1854, this brought with it the charge of the
light brigade. 673 men fought and fewer than 200 died but as this was the first war properly
covered by the press people were outraged. The Charge of the light brigade was always blamed on
Captain Nolan, who took orders from a general which he then passed on to Lord Lucan. Lord Lucan
misinterpreted the order but passed them on to Lord Cardigan and although Cardigan saw it was
dangerous he charged the cavalry straight into the Russian Army. The Charge of the Light Brigade
shocked many particularly after the successes at Alma and newspapers reporting it exaggerated the
event grossly.
Just after the Battle of Balaclava, came the Russian winter. Reaching it's height in 1855. Many died in
this as they had a lack of suitable clothing, decent accommodation and little food. However the
Russians were prepared and this left them weak for attack.
Another problem with the war was the failings of the commissariat ­ a military department which
supplies food and equipment. The main problems with supply were that it took several months to get
them to the crimea, the horses had no shelter and no food and often died, only a proportion of
vessels were allowed in the harbour at a time, roads were badly constructed and worse in the
winter, and that boats were often hit by storms and ships sank meaning a loss of supplies.

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Particularly, The Great Storm of 1854 meant over £3 million worth of stores were destroyed by the
sinking of 30 ships on the 14th November. This happened because the boats were not let into the
harbour. The men also became increasingly angry that throughout the storm, Lord Cardigan was
safely away on his yacht and not experiencing how bad the war was.…read more

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Mary Seacole arrived at the crimea much later in May 1855 and set up a hotel where she successfully
treated cholera victims. She learned her nursing skills from her mother and took a lot of inspiration
from her. She was born in Jamaica, where she cured yellow fever in 1853, but was often turned away
because she was black despite the need for good nurses. She offered her nursing services to Britain
but they rejected her so she paid her own way to the crimea.…read more

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