British Inadequacies in Crimea

  • Created by: lwilson23
  • Created on: 21-02-19 14:33

The Weather

- one of the biggest enemies in Crimea - one of the worst Crimean winters in living memory. 

- freezing wind, rain and snow showed just how inadequate the living conditions in trenches were.

- The Duke of Cambridge proposed a withdrawal to Balaclava where at least the men could be suitably housed - Raglan refused - 'a criminal decision' according to historian Orlando Figes.

- the cold also led to horses dying - men had to carry supplies themselves. 

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Supply and Logistics

- supply in Crimea was not decided by military - the Commissariat - a government branch consisting of members of public - decided which supplies were sent, when, and where. Detached.

- the hardest part of supply was not getting the provisions from Britain to the Crimea, but the seven miles from Balaclava to the front. 

- storms also impacted supply massively - storm in November 1854 sunk 35 ships in Balaclava Harbour, including the Prince (carrying 40,000 winter uniforms) and the Progress (carrying hay to feed horses for three weeks). Devastating impact on morale. 

- horse deaths meant men had to carry supplies themselves

- Eventually by Spring 1855 - railway track laid from Balaclava to Sevastapol - too late. 

- British navy crucial to ensuring good supply. 

- the French did pretty much everything better than us (improved paved road between their port Kamiesh and Sevastapol, better accommodation, food, winter clothing etc.). Britain envious.

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Medical Situation in Crimea

- medical knowledge limited due to the time. 

- 1854 - Dr Andrew Smith forced to create a 'war-ready' Ordnance Medical Department from scratch after the medical service was reduced in Feb 1853 to save money. Impossible. 

- few medical assistants (4/100 men) shipped to Crimea - Raglan wanted more troops. 

- Commissariat also affected medical supplies, Doctors were recurited voluntarily and the main field hospital (capacity of 6000) was at Scutari - across the Black Sea. 

- disease was extremely common - out of 18,000 casualties only 2000 were killed in action.

- Florence Nightingale implored by Sidney Herbert to go to Crimea as head of team of nurses at Scutari who reported to Dr Menzies - undermined him for the greater good - organised. Better admin than nurse - tidied hospital and improved conditions - reduced death rate to 2/100 after her arrival - could be equated to no battles after Nov 1854 however. 

- Mary Seacole provided hotel for frontline soldiers - less of a legacy than Flo however.  

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The McNeill-Tulloch Report

- Feb 1855 - sanitary commission headed by John McNeill and Alexander Tulloch aimed to review the conditions at Scutari - report criticised Raglan's staff - triggered public backlash.

- focussed especially on supplies and medicine - condition of the soldier also.

- exposed great inadequecies - poor health due to lack of fresh food, disease etc. 

- sparked Royal Warrant in October 1858 which ensured the army would be responsible for their own supply rather than the Commissariat. 

- also led to discussion about reform to the army (despite the fact it didn't happen until 1868).

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Other Miscellaneous Issues

- issues with disposal of dead/extraction of wounded. 

- desertion rates increased - hundreds surrendered to the Russians. 

- PM Lord Aberdeen resigned in January of 1855.

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