Crimean War

Crimean War revision cards.

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The Crimean War

  • Britain declares war on Russia in 1854, with France.
  • The real reason was a British attempt to prevent Russian advances towards the Meditterranean, despite the spark being a dispute over the protection of religious sites in Palestine.
  • British forces were sent by sea to the eastern Balkans and then crossed to the Crimea landing near the Alma River.
  • Advancing south, they arrempted to surround Sevastopol, the main Russian base in the Crimea.
  • The British commander was Lord Raglan, who hadn't seen action since Waterloo in 1815. He had a habit of referring to the enemy as 'The French'.
  • Lord Cardgian commanded the Light Brigade; he purchased his commission, and designed his own uniform. He referred to his men as the 'cheery bums' because of the colour of their trousers. 
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The Crimean War

  • Cardigan brought his own yacht and lived on it away from the action. He is supposed to have invented the cardigan. 
  • Cardigan's divisional commander was Lord Lucan, they hated each other. 
  • Cardigan led the Charge of the Light Brigade after recieving orders frnom Lucan, (carried by Nolan) on 25th October 1854. Nolan was killed immediately after the charge started. 
  • The fighting was characterised by dismal generalship and remarkable courage and determination on the part of the British soldiers, who endured abysmal conditions. 
  • The term 'the thin red line' describes the bravery of the Guards in withstanding Russian attacks at the Battle of Inkermann on 5th November 1854 (and the Highlanders who defeated the Russian cavalry).
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William Howard Russell

  • In the last major European war, which ended in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, newspaper reports were often delayed by several weeks. 
  • Often being written by serving officers, they rarely carried graphics descriptions of conflict.
  • In 1854, the telegraph had been used in Britain since 1843 and it was used all over Europe by the time of the war. 
  • WHR was the war correspondent for the Times. He sent minute-specific reports that the government did not stop from being printed. 
  • WHR reported on the Battle of the Alma (20th September 1854) and sent a report the following day. He covered the siege of Sevastopol and made the term 'the thin red line'.
  • WHR was at first allowed free access to soldier and officers and was able to describe the conditions they served in. 
  • He wrote graphic accounts of the battlefield surgeons; in particular criticising the lack of ambulances to deal with the wounded. 
  • Raglan later banned officers from talking to Russell, but the damage was done, the public found out what the war was like (for the first time ever). The public did not show support.
  • When John Bright's son asked what Crimea referred to on a war memorial, he replied 'a crime'.
  • The Times became critical of the war effort, attracting the attention of the Queen was gained. 
  • Tennyson's poem was an attempt to whip up public support. 
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Roger Fenton

  • Fenton was a photographer who went to the Crimea in March 1855, and stayed until June. He took 350 photos; the first major photographic record of warfare. 
  • He was sent by Prince Albert as the first official war photographer, to counteract WHR.
  • Fenton avoided making pictures of dead, injured or mutilated soldiers, and was limited to static scenes by his equpment. 
  • He produced 'the Valley of Death'.
  • Fenton's deliberate decision not sto show the real horrors of the war won him the support of the military and the government. 
  • His photographs sparked interest in the war, but failed to counteract WHR's work.
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Medical and Nursing Developments

  • People in Britain were horrifed and this forced the government to act. This meant that a team of nurses, led by Florence Nightingale, went to the Crimea. 
  • During the first half of the 19th century mursing was unpopular and often disreputable. Many nurses were incompetent and had no true role to perform. 
  • At the military hoospital in Scutari in Turkey, there were no trained people to take care of the wounded, patients lay on the floor in appalling conditions. 
  • There were barely any military supplies so very little could be done to help the men. 
  • Many more soldiers died from disease than from their wounds. Cholera became widespread because of poor sanitation. 
  • Florence Nightingale volunteered to go to the Crimea, where she brought order and care to the British in Scutari. 
  • She became known as 'Lady with the Lamp' because she walked round the wards every night.
  • She insisted that wards were regularly cleaned and dressing was changed. Windows had to be kept open. 
  • She also seperated wounded mem from the sick. Her reforms reduced the death rate from 42% to 2%.
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Medical and Nursing Developments

  • Became a national hero and was given a government grant. Partly used this to set up the Nightingale School of Nursing at St Thomas' Hospital in 1860, made nursing a skilled respectable profession. 
  • Discovery of germs showed nurses were crucial for medical reasons. Nightingale wrote 'Notes for Nursing' standard textbook to train nurses. 
  • By the time of her death (1910) there were 64,000 trained nurses in Britain.
  • She emphasised cleanliness and fresh air at the expense of other techniques. 
  • Favoured routine and rigorous discipline and at time wasn't 'caring' enough for the sick. 
  • Mary Seacole had no support and made her way to the Crimea by herself. 
  • Seacole worked near the battlefield tending the sick and wounded. Famous for her teapot which she used to comfort soldiers. 
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Pressure for Army Reforms

  • Possible to buy commissions to the rank of colonel. Cardigan did this. Unqalified and inexperienced amateurs were able to take command of hundreds of men. 
  • Cardigan designed a uniform that was as tight as possible. His troops could not raise their arms above their shoulders, and could not wield their sabres well. 
  • Raglan didn't co-operate effectively with the French. He was 65 at the outbreak of the war and had never commanded in the field. 
  • Raglan was over cautious and missed an oppurtunity to capture Sevastopol in 1854 before it was reinforced and the defences were completed. This failure cost the lives of thousands of British. 
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1868-1874 Army Reforms

  • Did not take place until Liberals under Gladstone took office in 1868.
  • Under Secretary for War (Edward Cardwell) there was major reorganisation of the Army. 
  • Purchase of Commissions was abolished.
  • Service overseas reduced from 12 years to 6.
  • War Office reorganised.
  • Modern weapons introduced (The breech loading rifle).
  • This could be seen as an attack on privilege.
  • The measures promoted equalit of oppurtunity and cheaper, more efficient government. 
  • Civil Service Reforms and the abolition of purchase of commissions particularly upset the uppser classes, as this was the monopoly of their influence. 
  • Impacted on the Whigs who felt that, as a conscientious upper class, could rule in the best interest of the nation. 
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