Crimean War

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Crimean War
Most important scenes of the Crimean War: Crimea, the coast of southern Russia, the north coast of Turkey and the Danube principalities
Most important scenes of the Crimean War: Crimea, the coast of southern Russia , the north coast of Turkey and the Danube principalities
date 1853 to 1856
place Crimea , Balkans , Black Sea , Baltic Sea , Pacific
exit Allied victory
Peace agreement Paris Peace
Parties to the conflict

Second empireSecond empire France Ottoman Empire United Kingdom Kingdom of Sardinia
Ottoman Empire 1844Ottoman Empire 
United Kingdom 1801United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 
Italy 1861Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946)

Russian Empire 1721Russian Empire Russia

The Crimean War (also East war , Russian Восточная война, Крымская война Vostochnaya wojna, Krymskaja wojna or 9th Turkish-Russian War ) was a 1853 permanent and 1856 military conflict between Russia on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire and its allies France , Britain and since 1855 also Sardinia-Piedmont on the other hand. It began as the ninth Russo-Turkish War , in which the Western European powers intervened to prevent Russia from expanding at the expense of the weakened Ottoman Empire.


Calling the Roll After An Engagement, Crimea, known as The Roll Call, 1874, oil on canvas by Elizabeth Thompson . It became one of the most famous British paintings of the 19th century, never before had the plight of ordinary soldiers been so realistically depicted. Painting part of the Royal Collection .

The Crimean War is seen as the first “modern” and the first “industrial” war. During the siege of Sevastopol came the first trench warfare of the modern and the first grave war on a grand scale. It was more of a war of machines, logistics and industrial potential and less of general art. Before Sevastopol, those involved fought the first material battle in history. As a result of new technical developments, this military conflict was particularly costly, with most of the victims dying from hunger, thirst, epidemics, diseases and improper wound treatment on the one hand, and from mechanization and modernized weapon systems on the other. The Crimean War is closely linked to the incipient reform of the British hospital system and, in this context, to the world-famous nurse Florence Nightingale , due to the poor supply that became apparent at the time . Since telegraphy made it possible for the first time to transmit messages from remote theaters of war to the capitals of Western Europe within a few hours, and because the new visual media such as the newly emerged printing technology (lithography) and press illustrations made it possible to report on the events of the war in real time, the Crimean War applies as the hour of birth of modern war reporting . Photography, which was still in its infancy, was a useful source of information for the military and the wealthy for the first time. In spite of the new telegraphy technology, most of the communications continued to be in paper form.

War was not waged with huge armies and national enthusiasm, as had become customary after the French Revolution, but in the style of the Ancien Régime , with limited military expeditions of manageable dimensions, comparable to a cabinet war of the 18th century, albeit that Characteristic of non-participation of the public, since it was the first European “media war”, does not apply and elements of a national war were present. Soldiers fought without uniforms, and so there was still a colorful war that continued the image of war as an adventure. Battles continued to be overlooked and directed by the commanders' hills. The war had not yet lost the character of the play with prominent actors, which was so important for battle painting. There was no national enthusiasm and mass participation, as became common for modern warfare after the French Revolution. At the same time, the educated classes of the tsarist empire felt their side's defeat as a “national disgrace” and the Allied populations felt a strong identification of fighting troops and homeland. With the conquest of Sevastopol in September 1855, the war was in fact decided. All the powers involved, with the exception of the Kingdom of Sardinia, had used only small parts of their military power directly.

The war was of paramount importance in Europe between the Napoleonic Wars (until 1815) and the First World War (from 1914) and significantly disrupted the European equilibrium of the pentarchy , although on the surface it confirmed the status quo . Russia was largely isolated, while France could clearly see itself again as a great power on an equal footing with the others. The diplomacy of the Habsburg monarchy, which was deliberately opaque, but securing its livelihood, led to political isolation and lastingly damaged its good relations with Russia.

All the names found for this war are - if you look closely - too short for him. The western term “Crimean War” - based on its main theater of war on the Crimean peninsula - does not do justice to its global dimensions and its great importance for Europe, Russia and the Orient. The name "Oriental War" used in Russia connects it at least with the Oriental question, which can be localized in the areas of the Balkans to Jerusalem and Constantinople to the Caucasus. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire created international problems. The title as another "Turkish-Russian War", as found in many Turkish sources, does not take into account the massive involvement of the West. The Crimean War was something of a preliminary form of the First World War and it is likely that a similar conflagration would have occurred through a more active participation by Prussia and Austria. There were comparable pre-forms in weapon technology, industrialization and motivations in this war. Global dimensions of the struggles were also present. These began in the Balkans, shifted to the Caucasus and from there to the other Black Sea regions. When Russia threatened a hostile alliance between Austria and Great Britain and France, the fighting shifted to the Crimea. In addition, there was a war in the Baltic Sea right from the start, right up to plans by the Royal Navy to bomb the capital Saint Petersburg , the White Sea as a war zone, on the coast of which the Solovetsky Monastery was shelled and the Pacific coast of Siberia as another scene. In contrast to the five main parties, Austria and Prussia, countries that remained neutral, such as Sweden, Greece, Spain, Portugal and the German Confederation, were more or less indirectly involved in the war.

The type of warfare already took on a partially industrialized form and for the first time comprehensively exploited all social resources. HE shells, steamships, underwater mines with remote ignition, rifles with rifled barrel were used. The British built a railway for purely military purposes. The fighting in the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Crimea was also accompanied by organized ethnic persecution and massacres of civilians. Against this background, there is talk of a first “ total war ”. Despite all the mass deaths, this war was no more bloody than others before it, but in its course it for the first time tore all branches of human and state existence to itself, through ever more systematic and total use of all intellectual, economic and technical means of power.


Lord Palmerston, 1855

Between the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853, Europe experienced a unique period of peace in which the great powers Russia, Great Britain, France, Austria and Prussia avoided waging war against each other. Rather, they formed an association described as a “ European concert of powers ”.

According to the historian Jürgen Osterhammel , the Crimean War emerged less determinedly than later the Sardinian War or the German Wars of Unification after a chain of diplomatic errors, misunderstandings and hostility. In the most varied of systems, both in autocratic Russia and in the more liberal Great Britain, war promoters were at work, for example in Russia a “poorly informed” tsar and in France “a political gambler ”. However, there was also “a logic of geopolitical and economic interests”. In essence, it was a conflict between the two powers Great Britain and Russia, which had interests in Asia, and it revealed the military weaknesses of both. "For the first time since 1815, war was accepted to the point that it actually happened."

Several independence movements, including in Egypt under Muhammad Ali Pasha , weakened the Ottoman Empire in the 1830s. In 1833, Egyptian troops under Ali Pasha had conquered Syria and threatened Constantinople. Thereupon the Russian tsar formed an alliance with the Turkish sultan and dispatched troops, which alarmed Great Britain, since from their point of view this represented an attempt by the land power Russia to gain strategic military access to the Mediterranean.

The Egyptian troops had to withdraw to Syria. The Middle East problem became acute again in 1839 when the Sultan made his claims in Syria and attacked the Egyptian forces there. France sided with Egypt, while the then British Foreign Minister Palmerston arranged for Austria, Russia and Prussia to intervene in favor of the Sultan. The Orient Crisis occurred , in which European powers interfered in the conflict between the Ottoman Empire and Egypt, which formally belonged to the Ottoman Empire, from 1839 to 1841. The Egyptian military leader gave up Syria, which limited France's ambitions in the Orient. With the Dardanelles Treaty of 1841, the Ottoman Empire undertook to close the straits to warships during peacetime. This reduced the influence of Russia, which had previously threatened British access from the Middle East to India.

Protectorate of the tsar over the Holy Land

Church of the Holy Sepulcher 1864
Nicholas I (1796–1855)

A major cause of the war were religious conflicts over the use of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem . Until then, adherents of the various Christian denominations shared the claim to ownership of this site, which was considered sacred to Christianity . From the beginning of the 19th century, however, the Greek Orthodox Christians had expanded their position in the use of the church. The Catholics tried now, with the support of Napoléon III, who was proclaimed Emperor of France in December 1852 . to change this situation.

The decisive incident was the removal of the silver star in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 1847 . The High Porte under Sultan Abdülmecid I replaced the star in 1852, but could not prevent the Russian Tsar Nicholas I from taking over the protectorate of all Christians in the Holy Land (the Palestine region ) to protect the Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire. demanded, so the sole patronage. The Ottoman sultan as the political representative of Islam and the French emperor - representing the interests of Catholicism - did not want to agree to Russian hegemony over the Christians in Palestine.

France was very determined to oppose further Russian expansion. However, only superficially the holy places offered conflict with the government in St. Petersburg. Jerusalem and other cities in the Holy Land were predominantly inhabited by Muslims and Jews , who at that time still coexisted peacefully. There, of all places, the Christian minorities were at odds. Especially at Easter there were violent arguments between the Greek Orthodox monks and the Catholic Franciscans . Even then, the term “monk bickering” was used for it. It was about things like who was allowed to repair the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or who was allowed to keep the key to the Church of the Nativity and the grotto. Russia stood behind the claims of the Orthodox, while France and Napoleon III distinguished themselves as advocates for the Catholics. tried to continue to rely on his support from the Catholics in his own country and his weak regime . The mobilization of society for the Crimean War was intended to help the French revolutionary supporters to reconcile themselves with their Catholic despisers, who are equally represented in the population.

For Britain's elites, apart from pretended religious motivation, there was no doubt that a war against the tsar was generally a war for English values ​​of fair play and the values ​​of the free world, such as separation of powers and free trade.

In the later course of the war there was a widespread opinion in the public perception that the two Christian nations France and Great Britain, allegedly out of concern for the holy places, had allied themselves with a Muslim state against Christian Russia.

The Russia connoisseur Orlando Figes calls this war the “last crusade” in connection with the long series of military conflicts of this kind, which certainly have parallels to this one. All crusades by the “ Christian West ” were without exception strategically, religiously and economically motivated wars between 1095/99 and the 13th century. In a narrower sense, however, only the Orient Crusades carried out at this time are considered to be those directed against the Muslim states in the Middle East . Even after the First Crusade , the term “crusade” was expanded to include other military conflicts whose goal was not the Holy Land , and until modern times it was used, among other things, for very different military actions.

The "sick man on the Bosporus"

One of the real and deeper causes of the war, however, was the internal disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, which many media of the time described as the " Sick Man on the Bosporus ". Russia saw this as an opportunity to expand its power in Europe and, in particular, to gain access to the Mediterranean and the Balkans . Ottoman rule in the Balkans appeared to be in jeopardy, and Russia pushed for control of the important straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles . The Russian tsar had previously tried in vain to win the governments of Austria and Great Britain over to the division of the Ottoman Empire. Great Britain and France resisted this Russian expansion . They did not want the key positions to fall into Russian hands and supported the Ottomans in order to maintain the status quo and thus secure their own power in south-eastern Europe on the Ottoman borders. In the so-called Oriental question about the continued existence of the empire, they were of the opinion that the Ottoman Empire, which at that time was still vast and stretched from the Balkans to the foot of the Arabian Peninsula, from Mesopotamia in the east to Tunisia in the west , in principle must be preserved. Its collapse would have created a power vacuum. For Great Britain, the most important trading partner of the Ottoman Empire at the time, it was also a matter of securing the routes to India and preventing Russian hegemony in Asia ( The Great Game ). Economically, the Ottoman Empire sank to the level of a semi-colonial raw material supplier and became increasingly dependent on the economically highly developed countries of Western Europe. British exports to Turkey had increased eightfold in 1825-1852. In the meantime the great empire was the main importer of English industrial products. The tsarist empire, on the other hand, had become the most dangerous opponent of the Ottoman empire.

An overthrow of the European order created at the Congress of Vienna - which was perceived as disadvantageous - as a result of a congress that ended the foreseeable war was Napoleon III. War and peace goal. A favorable moment for Napoleon III to set the lever on the construction of this order of 1815. in the explosive situation of 1853 in the Orient. His later policy in the Crimean War, and especially his attitude after the fall of Sevastopol, were closely related to the overriding aspect of his grand plan. The oriental crisis and the fate of the Ottoman Empire interested him only in the context of their usefulness in realizing his idea of ​​re-establishing France as a major European power. However, it was not the only attempt to implement his ideas and the Crimean War was only a desirable, but not a necessary war for the realization. He hesitated for a long time, considering the risks and victims of war.

In the 19th century, the oriental question found its way onto an international stage. The armed conflict between the strengthened Russian and the weakened Ottoman empire did not automatically mean the entry of the war by the other major European powers, although additional pressure arose to this end due to the different degrees of nationalism emerging everywhere. In the wake of the French Revolution, national sentiments also arose among the local peoples of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, and this became a factor of its own in the complex of the question. The worsening of the question alone did not cause the Crimean War, because the Russo-Turkish war of 1827/28 and that of 1877 did not expand into a European war like this one. The role of the element of public opinion here suggests other contributory causes.

Ideologies and enemy images

Russia's motive for smashing the Ottoman Empire was not based solely on geopolitical interests. It was also based on Pan-Slavism , which had spread in parts of Russian society since the beginning of the 19th century, and the desire to liberate the Orthodox Slavic peoples of the Balkans from Ottoman rule. Reports of bloody crackdowns on the Balkan Slavs' freedom struggles that flared up regularly outraged the Russian public and caused calls for intervention. Russia saw itself as the protective power of the Orthodox Christians and claimed for itself to represent both the Orthodox living in its own country and those of the Ottoman Empire. At the same time, it was about preventing an impending Islamic and nationalist revolution in the Ottoman Empire.

In Great Britain, France and other countries in Western Europe, on the other hand, there were Russophobic and Turkophile ideas that sometimes gripped larger sections of the population. Russia was hated by many as a European gendarme who not only oppressed the peoples in Russia, but also fought freedom movements in the rest of Europe. They considered the suppression of the Polish uprising in 1830/1831 and the invasion of Hungary in 1849 as examples .

Some intellectuals, on the other hand, were of the opinion - with regard to the Ottoman Empire - that it could definitely reform itself in a liberal sense. The many ideological resentments in the West gave rise to aggression, but during this period these were not directed against Islam, but against Russian Orthodoxy. Clericals and newspaper makers in England feared its expansion into the Balkans more than the religious supremacy of the Muslims in this region, which had been opposed for centuries. Anglican clerics in Britain, which at that time liked to think of himself as something of the moral spearhead of mankind, did not shy away from their pulpits Islam as a beneficent supremacy for the oriental Christianity to praise his alleged tolerance in contrast to the orthodox despotism to praise. Liberal politicians such as Anthony Cooper , the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, for example, assessed the Tanzimat reforms , which were controversial in the Ottoman Empire, as Turkey's dawning into an age of progress and tolerance. The massacre of Chios (1822) carried out by the Ottoman side, for example, which Eugène Delacroix depicted in a painting, has been faded out. At that time, hundreds of apostates were still executed annually in the Ottoman Empire under Islamic law. The most modern and technologically advanced empire in the world at the time, Great Britain, went to war against its former Christian ally Russia, alongside a Muslim empire on European soil.

Menshikov's mission

Prince Menshikov (1787–1869)
Kladderadatsch , caricature about the diplomacy of Menshikov, 1853

The trigger for the war was the appearance of Prince Menshikov at the end of February and March 1853. The Tsar had sent the military to Constantinople to bring a number of demands to the Ottoman Empire. Thus the continuation of the privilege of Orthodox Christians in the holy places of Christianity and the repair of the dome over the Christ tomb were demanded without the participation of the Catholics. The Sultan was initially ready to meet some of these demands. But Menshikov had brought a second, very far-reaching demand: the Ottoman Empire should recognize Russia's patronage over the Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire, who made up a third of its population, by means of a treaty. Menshikov's appearance broke off the negotiations. It did not help him to extend his ultimatum several times by a few days: the Sultan, supported by the British ambassador, rejected the Russian demands. This gave Russia a pretext for the military escalation of the conflict. Menshikov left on May 21, 1853 amid great scandal. Russia broke off diplomatic relations with the Ottoman Empire.

Just three weeks later, France and Great Britain sent a clear signal: their Mediterranean fleets anchored in Besika Bay near the Dardanelles entrance. Charles John Napier was appointed Commander in Chief of the British Fleet in the Baltic Sea. He ran his warships into the Baltic Sea on March 11, 1854, 17 days before the British declaration of war, in order to block Russian ports. Since the Russian fleet did not take part in combat, Russian shipyards and ports in Finland were attacked or shot at in the following weeks.

The Russian tsar was then ready to go to war against the Ottoman Empire and its possible allies France and Great Britain. Ivan Fyodorowitsch Paskewitsch , the tsar's most important military advisor, was not sure of Austrian support in such a war. He therefore recommended that the tsar occupy the Danube principalities , if necessary for several years. This and the Russian propaganda would lead to 50,000 Balkan Christians making themselves available as soldiers for the tsar. This would deter the Western powers from intervening and force Austria to be neutral.

The autocrat Nicholas I at the military head of the "steamroller Russia" did not strive for supremacy in Europe by blowing up the strategically important Dardanelle bar. The tsar felt genuinely committed to the rules and norms of behavior that the “European concert”, embedded in the treaty system of the Congress of Vienna, demanded from its participants. Against his original will he was forced into the later war with France and Great Britain.


Russo-Turkish conflict

Omar Pasha (1806–1871)

At the end of June 1853, the Tsar ordered his two armies in Bessarabia to invade the neighboring Principality of Moldova and the Principality of Wallachia . Prince Mikhail Dmitrijewitsch Gorchakov crossed the Prut with 80,000 men and set up his headquarters in Bucharest. The population was told that the Tsar was only interested in a pledge to force the gate to respect religious rights.

The Ottoman Empire - again encouraged by the British - declared war on Russia on October 16, 1853, after several diplomatic attempts to resolve the conflict had failed. The Ottoman general Omar Pascha then advanced against the Imperial Russian Army on the Danube and won the first victory in the Battle of Oltenița on November 4th. At this point in time, the Russian campaign can already be viewed as a failure, as more than two thirds of the tsarist soldiers died within a few weeks from epidemics, epidemics and wounds and the losses could not be compensated for later.

The Battle of Sinope,
painting by Ivan Aivazovsky

On November 30 of the same year, the Russian Black Sea Fleet attacked the Ottoman port of Sinope with six ships of the line , two frigates and three steamers under Vice Admiral Nakhimov . With HE shells fired from bomb cannons , the Russians set fire to all the ships of the Ottoman Vice Admiral Osman Pascha with 4,000 marines on board in the sea ​​battle near Sinope . Of the seven Ottoman frigates and five corvettes, only one fleeing to Constantinople survived the battle. A British-French fleet then entered the Black Sea a few weeks later. Nikolaus now made compromise proposals. England and France then did not enter into real negotiations.

Napoleon III made a final attempt at mediation on January 29, 1854, with a letter to the Tsar in his own hand. Nicholas I rejected it, however, with a provocative reference to the defeat of Napoléon Bonaparte in the Russian campaign in 1812 for France . The mood of the population in France then turned against Russia. On March 12, 1854, France and Great Britain signed a war aid treaty with the Ottoman Empire.

In the long chain of causes of war, the battle of Sinope was the decisive reason for the Western powers to enter the war. The news of the battle, in which 3,000 Turkish sailors were killed by the technically superior Russian HE shells within a few hours, so angry public opinion in Western Europe - especially in Great Britain - against Russia that all attempts to resolve the crisis diplomatically , have been discredited.

France and Great Britain enter the war

The Allies , mansion alliance (from right: Napoleon III., Victoria and Abdülmecid I. )

On 27./28. In March 1854, France and Great Britain declared war on Russia to prevent Russia from expanding in power. Both countries had already sent their Mediterranean fleets into the entrance to the Dardanelles in June 1853 and into the Black Sea on January 3, 1854 . In April 1854 the Allies landed their expeditionary troops at Gallipoli to prevent a possible Russian advance into Constantinople. On April 22, Allied ships fired at port batteries off Odessa for ten hours , destroyed them and then withdrew. This was of little military importance.

In May it was decided to assemble the French and British troops that had first landed at Constantinople and Gallipoli at Varna . Since this was to be done by sea as much as possible, the transport of troops became an essential task of the Navy, which it retained during the further course of the war. However, the fleet's own resources were insufficient, so that numerous merchant ships had to be chartered. Almost the entire transport between home and depot points in the Orient was done with rented ships. These included many sailing ships that were towed by steamers for reasons of safety and time. The deployment of troops in the Crimea took place on the assumption that the opposing side would not carry out major disruptive actions either on land or on land. As with the armies' first landings on Gallipoli, far from the front, the transfer of troops to the Crimea was largely haphazard and without adequate preparation.

At the express request of Nicholas I, Ivan Paskewitsch took over command of the Danube in April 1854. It began on April 14th with the siege of the strategically important fortress Silistra . Omar Pascha brought up a relief army on June 10 and was again victorious in the fighting off Silistra. Paskevich was injured and again replaced by Gorchakov. The Ottoman army fought much more successfully than in the Russo-Turkish War from 1828 to 1829 , not least because of the reforms by Prussian officers such as Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke . The Russians had to give up the siege of Silistra after 55 days, on June 23rd. Omar Pasha entered Bucharest on August 22nd .

Politics of Austria and Prussia

Invasion of the Austrians in Bucharest , September 1854. The city was previously occupied by Russian and Turkish troops

Austria had been supported by Russia against the rebels in the revolution of 1848/1849 , but on June 3, 1854 threatened Russia to withdraw from the Danube principalities and occupied them after the Russian withdrawal. In October 1854 Austria drew 300,000 Man together on the Russian border, which tied up considerable Russian forces. In this way, Austria played an important role in the Crimean War, even though it did not take an active part in the war, and ultimately angered both parties.

Prussia , on the other hand, was the only major power to remain neutral. The king had promised this. Because of its neutrality, there were even doubts as to whether Prussia was still a great power at all. In public opinion, the influence of the extremely conservative pro-Russian Kreuzzeitung party and the liberal-conservative pro-western weekly newspaper party were balanced. The Prussian ruling class, like that in Austria, was extremely divided in its political stance into a pro-Western and a pro-Russian parliamentary group. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV wavered between the two groups, which prompted the angry tsar to comment: "My dear brother-in-law goes to bed every evening as a Russian and gets up every morning as an Englishman." As early as the spring of 1854, the king dismissed some of her most important sympathizers, generally having the upper hand. The British and the French were considering getting the Prussians on their side. Palmerston presented the following proposals to the cabinet: Prussia should receive the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire and Austria large parts of the region up to the mouth of the Danube for its participation as a war partner. Sweden should be offered to Finland and the Aland region. The French also insisted on the creation of an independent Polish kingdom.

Ultimately, the rulers in Vienna and Berlin shied away from actively participating in the war, not least because they should have shouldered the brunt of the war. Prussia's neutrality and Austria's only indirect war intervention made a Franco-British campaign against the Russian heartland impossible.

Allied deployment

On May 31, 1854, the first French-British troops landed near Varna (now lying in Bulgaria ). The French contingent consisted of four infantry divisions , 8.5 field batteries and Chasseurs d'Afrique ( hunters on horseback ). In total, the French army consisted of around 30,000 men and 68 artillery pieces.

Baron Raglan (1855, Crimea). At his advanced age he had spent most of his military service in staff and had never commanded a unit larger than a battalion . Also the editor of The Times Delane criticized him: In an editorial the same time his staff incompetence, was lethargic bureaucracy and nepotism accused (five of his nephew acted in it as his aides).

The British contingent consisted of five infantry and one cavalry division with about 26,000 men and 60 guns.

Shortly after the arrival of the troops in Varna, the Allies suffered their first illnesses. The Allies suffered from poor medical conditions throughout the war. The recommendations of the Commission of the Royal Army Medical Department ( British Medical Services ) previously sent by Director General Andrew Smith to set up sanitary facilities and army hospitals were largely ignored by the army command. As a result, more than 20 percent of British soldiers developed cholera, dysentery and other diarrheal diseases. More than 1,000 British soldiers died before their units became involved in combat.

On June 25th, Lord Raglan instructed the chief of the light cavalry, Lord Cardigan, to march inland to explore the Russian positions. On June 29th, these troops reached Karasu to find that the Russians had begun their retreat behind the Danube and later the Prut . Cardigan then returned to Varna, which he reached on July 11th.

The Russian withdrawal disappointed the Western powers because it made their reason for war obsolete. But Napoléon III. was looking for a military success to meet his great power ambitions. And George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen , Prime Minister of the United Kingdom , expected the war to gain the sympathy of the anti-Russian British public. France and the United Kingdom therefore refused to conclude a ceasefire without a clear victory over Russia. Since a march into the interior of the Russian Empire seemed hopeless, the Allies decided to attack the Russian fortress Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula .

Although the attack on the Crimea had already been decided, three French divisions marched into Dobruja in the Balkans at the end of July to attack a Russian corps supposedly stationed there . This expedition turned into a debacle. After the French lost 7,000 men to cholera , they returned to Varna. On September 7th, the Allies finally embarked to attack the Crimea.

The Ottoman Empire administered important Greek settlement areas and even its capital, Constantinople, had a large Greek community. When the Russian Empire opened the fighting, the Greeks seemed to have the chance to inherit the Ottoman Empire territorially. King Otto took a strongly pro-Russian course. After the Crimean War began, a British-French fleet quickly occupied the important and largest Greek port of Piraeus . In addition, the capital Athens was occupied and the Greek fleet was confiscated by the Western powers. Otto was thus demonstrated his powerlessness in foreign policy. If he had already lost influence domestically, he was now also shown boundaries in terms of foreign policy. Great Britain saw a kind of protectorate in the Greek Empire. While it was officially independent, the British politically kept it on their leash. Since Otto had taken the Russian side, Britain understood him to be no longer reliable enough. From then on, measures were taken to politically eliminate him altogether.

Bombardment of Bomarsund.jpg
Shelling of Bomarsund
Suomenlinna from the seaside

Fight in the Baltic region

As early as March 11, 1854, the first British warships under Admiral Charles John Napier sailed into the Baltic Sea to block Russian ports (and to forestall a possible Nordic alliance that might block access to the Baltic Sea as part of armed neutrality to protect its trade with Russia would have). Since the Russian fleet did not fight, Russian shipyards and ports in Finland were attacked or shelled in the following weeks .

In August 1854 the Allies attacked the Bomarsund fortress on Åland with around 12,000 landing troops under General Baraguay d'Hilliers . The fort's garrison had hundreds of guns, but the land side defense was weak. In addition, the fortress was not yet completely finished. The Russians under General Bodisco surrendered on August 16; over 2,200 Russians were taken prisoner. After the islands were occupied, the forts of the fortress were blown up. The Russian admiral Pyotr Ivanovich Rikord successfully defended Kronstadt and St. Petersburg. In 1855 the Allies bombed the docks in Suomenlinna near Helsinki for two days .

Karl Marx saw the diplomatic efforts of Russia at the beginning of the Crimean War as a continuation of the Tsarist policy before Alexander I to politically isolate Great Britain through armed neutrality , at least to militarily neutralize the Baltic Sea and thus to protect Saint Petersburg . While Russia was facing an alliance made up of France, Great Britain, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire, in 1855 Prussia, Sweden and Denmark again declared armed neutrality to protect their trade with Russia and thus in fact adopted a benevolent stance towards Russia. They did not prevent British warships from entering the Baltic Sea and shelling Russian ports.

Fight in the Far East

On August 18, 1854, a British-French ship formation consisting of three frigates , two corvettes and a steamship launched an attack on the Russian city of Petropavlovsk on Kamchatka . However, the city had been fortified in previous years thanks to the foresight of the Far East Governor Nikolai Muravyov-Amursky . The Russians had only a small garrison of several hundred men and 67 cannons. They faced numerically superior Allied landing forces and 218 ship cannons. After long bombardment, around 600 soldiers landed south of the city, but after heavy fighting they were repulsed by 230 defenders and forced to retreat. On August 24, another 970 allies landed east of the city, but were also unable to prevail against 360 Russians. After that, the ships left Russian waters. The losses of the Russians were about 100 men, those of the British and French were about five times as much.

War in the Crimea

Landing in the Crimea

British infantry soldier 1855

On September 12, 1854, the allied British and French reached the Bay of Yevpatoria north of Sevastopol in the Crimea. From 14th to 19th September they landed their troops and 50,000 British, French and Ottoman soldiers disembarked in the Bay of Eupatoria . When the Allied fleet arrived, it began to rain and soon it was pouring down. As an accompanying and sole journalist with the troops, posted by The Times newspaper , William Howard Russell wrote : "Seldom or never did 27,000 English find themselves in a more dire situation." The British military leadership had not brought tents, blankets, and land for the troops The soldiers' coats were soaked, and most of the men slept in puddles or in streams. The French troops, however, were well armed. He noticed, for example, hospitals , bread and biscuit bakeries, covered wagon trains for the transport of supplies and baggage. "Our great naval state was represented by a single steamer owned by a private company." Such accusatory tone was to be heard often in The Times in the months that followed, with far worse accounts. Russell's reporting brought the glorious British Empire to the public and the assessment of the Crimean War and its sometimes catastrophic circumstances were generally decisively shaped by him. Since then he has been considered the first modern war correspondent.

Battle of the Alma

On September 19, the Allies marched inland, where they were expected on the Alma River by the Russians under Prince Menshikov, who had meanwhile become commander in chief of the Russian troops. Menshikov had taken up a well-developed position. After difficulties coordinating the Allied attack between Commander-in-Chief Marshal Arnaud and Lord Raglan, the Allies were able to achieve their first victory in the Battle of the Alma on September 20. The war correspondent Thomas Chenery of The Times reported after the Battle of the troubling poor sanitary conditions in the British military hospital in Scutari . The performance of the medical service quickly collapsed due to the mass of sick and injured soldiers. Unlike the French troops, there were no stretchers or wagons to transport the wounded from the battlefield. Wounded and sick people who reached the disembarkation port waited here for days or weeks for ships to take them to the military hospital set up in Scutari. This transfer took between 2 and 7 days, depending on the type of ship and weather conditions. Survivors were again faced with a poorly organized transport to the central military hospital on a hill above the port. The Selimiye barracks was built at the beginning of the century and made available to the British as a central military hospital. But it was unsuitable simply because of the lack of water supply. Press reports on these conditions had an enormous effect in England and revealed that not only the cabinet in London and the local plumbing, but also the British army in general were insufficiently prepared for the Crimean War. The care of the sick and injured was probably no worse than during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the last major battle in which the British Army was involved. For the first time, however, there were newspaper reporters who quickly informed the British public of the events. Drastic reports by Times correspondents Russell and Chenery shocked British newspaper readers. Chenery asked why the French army was able to organize care for its wounded and sick with the help of nuns, while the British army was unable to provide such good care.

View of the war damage in the city of Sevastopol around 1854

On October 9th, the Allied forces began to encircle Sevastopol . The Russian Black Sea Fleet had sunk in the city's port, preventing a sea-supported attack by the Allies. The fortifications were oriented mainly to the north on the seaside. For this reason the Allies decided to besiege Sevastopol from the south, but never succeeded in completely enclosing the city. The northern flank beyond the Chernaya Bay ( Great Bay ) was not used for the attrition strategy. Through this corridor, the besieged were able to supply themselves with essentials via ship bridges and transport ships. A railway line from the center of Russia to the south did not yet exist, so the supply of Sevastopol became increasingly inadequate.

The Baltic German engineer officer and later Russian general Eduard Totleben had a system of field entrenchments, battery positions and trenches built at short notice, which enabled the fortress to be defended for almost a year.

The siege was marked by catastrophic medical conditions among the Allies. Shortly after the siege began, the French commander-in-chief Saint-Arnaud fell ill with cholera, whereupon he had to surrender his post to General Canrobert . He died three days later on September 29, 1854 on board the Bertholet that was to bring him back to France. This should not remain an isolated case even among senior officers, because the causes of the bacterial infections could not be eliminated. Lord Raglan succumbed to dysentery in June 1855, and the commander of the French fleet Armand Joseph Bruat died of cholera in November of the same year .

Battle of Balaklava

Army camp at Balaklava ( James Robertson and Felice Beato 1855)

An attempt by the Russians to end the siege led to the Battle of Balaklava on October 25, 1854. During the siege of Sevastopol, the British had established their base in the port city of Balaklava . The Russians had brought in a relief army from Bessarabia and assembled about 8 kilometers away with 25,000 men and 78 cannons under their commander, Count Liprandi . Liprandi occupied the heights and the way to the port seemed clear. However, the Russians hesitated, so Lord Raglan had time to bring his troops up.

After the successful deployment of the heavy cavalry brigade, the light brigade (English Charge of the Light Brigade ) went to death . The debacle would later become a myth of British history. The British Light Brigade's attack on a valley - which was trapped on three sides by Russian artillery - became tragically famous for its heavy casualties and confusion in the transmission of orders. In this fatal attack, which is a central event of the Crimean War in British literature to this day, 156 men of the 673-strong cavalry brigade died from Russian gunfire within 20 minutes and 122 were wounded. However, this battle did not lead to the lifting of the siege.

Battle of Inkerman

Newspaper illustration 1855: Battle of Inkerman

The day after the Battle of Balaklava, the Russians attacked the position of the British 2nd Division at Inkerman , but were driven back by heavy artillery fire. The Russians lost 270 men, the British 100. The fighting went down in history as Little Inkerman because a few days later a major battle was to be fought at the same place.

On November 5, 1854, the trapped Russians attempted a sortie against British troops, which led to the Battle of Inkerman . The Russians advanced in three divisions. While General Gorchakov was supposed to bind the French with 22,000 men, General Sojmonow and General Pavlov attacked the British with a total of 35,000 men. The Russians tried to flank the British by occupying the hills at the northern end of the British position. For about three hours, around 8,000 British defended their position against around 30,000 Russians in bitter fighting. Then French Zouaves and Foreign Legionaries attacked the Russians again in the flank and forced them to retreat.

Siege of Sevastopol

Kamiesch: The French supply port with warehouse
Totleben (1818-1884) achieved great fame among European military during the battle.
Overview of the fortifications in Sevastopol, 1854
Contemporary map of the Siege of Sevastopol

When the fortress was built, an attack from the land side was not expected, so the fortifications of Sevastopol were much more developed on the sea side. After the Allies had defeated the Russian field army on the Crimean peninsula on September 20 in an extremely disorderly battle on the Alma, it would have been entirely possible to take Sevastopol in a single stroke from the movement . The Russian side had also positioned their rather small contingents of soldiers there for coastal defense. Even so, the British and French generals decided to besiege the fortress and city according to the classical rules. As a result, Totleben had a system of field entrenchments, battery positions and trenches that was difficult to detect for the attackers and, as it later turned out, an efficient system, which also enabled flexible defense, to be built at an enormous pace in front of the fortress. Admiral Menshikov ordered the Black Sea Fleet to be disarmed and made their marines and cannons available. The Allies, for their part, dug entrenchments and slowly drove their trenches towards the fortress. The British obtained supplies from the port of Balaklava. At the rear, threatened by attacks by the Russian Crimean Army, they were forced to build fortifications there too. They waged a positional war on two sides. From October the warring parties fired at the enemy positions with previously unknown use of ammunition.

The ships of the Allied fleet had no safe anchorage either in the port of Balaklava they used, or in Kamiesch Bay . A large number of transport ships, heavily loaded with food, horse fodder and storage needs, received orders on November 14, 1854, in front of the port of Balaklava - on an unsuitable rocky seabed 35-40 fathoms deep (about 64 to 73 meters) and from Surrounded by 1200 foot (about 365 meters) high rocks - anchor. This happened despite the fact that it was known that violent storms raged there at this time of the year. A later investigation by Urbain Le Verrier into the upcoming November storm showed that a storm field had spread across Europe and that the then new telegraph could have been used to predict the storm for the Crimea in good time. At that time there was no daily published weather forecast. In the hurricane, numerous ships with many crews went down or crashed on cliffs. Five English and two Turkish warships sank at the mouths of the Katscha and Belbek rivers , no fewer than eleven in Balaklawa, and the French lost the ship of the line " Henry IV " at Eupatoria .

There was a shortage of food and animal feed in the Balaklava camp. While order still prevailed under the war and transport navy in Kamiesch Bay, the French disembarkation point, confusion and arbitrariness spread in the British supply port of Balaklava. The November hurricane showed the poor organization of the Balaklava army camp. The torrential rain had turned the whole area from Balaklava to the front into a swamp and devastated it. Of all the tents, which were already extremely poorly constructed, only three remained in the whole camp. The hospitals were also housed in tents. Around noon there was a snowstorm. Many soldiers perished in the cold and wet by the next morning. In the middle of the night, during all the horrors of nature, a violent cannonade began on the upstream front from the batteries of the Sevastopol fortress. On the night of November 28th, cholera broke out. As early as the beginning of December, an average of 80 to 90 soldiers per day died in the English camp. Scurvy and fever epidemics also raged.

On April 9, 1855, the city was bombed particularly intensely. British chief engineer John Fox Burgoyne saw the center of the Russian position in Fort Malakov and concentrated the Allied fire there. In May 1855 there were 35,000 British and 100,000 French in the Crimea. At the end of May, 14,000 Italians from the Kingdom of Sardinia also arrived. In addition, tens of thousands of Ottoman soldiers were involved in varying numbers in the Crimea. The Sardinian expeditionary force was commanded by Alfonso La Marmora . Sardinia had signed a military convention with the two western powers in Turin on January 26, 1855. It sent 15,000 soldiers to the Crimea to support Great Britain. The goal of Prime Minister Camillo Cavour was to promote the Italian unification movement and to fight Russia (and with it the Holy Alliance ). As a result, the map of Europe should be redrawn in a liberal-national sense. It was also about showing that Sardinia could be more valuable to the Western powers than Austria. These in turn avoided making official promises to the Italian cause, since Austria should at least be kept neutral. France even signed a secret agreement with Austria on December 22nd that the status quo in Italy should be maintained for the duration of an alliance against Russia.

The Jeniche Fortress covers 2.5 hectares and guarded the strategically important Kerch Strait with powerful artillery
Fenton's photo idyll : Council of war of the three Allied commanders ... (from right: Pélissier, Pasha, Raglan).

The Russian commander-in-chief Menshikov was replaced by Prince Michael Gorchakov, who had already led the attack on the Danube principalities and Silistra in 1853. In the field camp near Sevastopol, great importance was attached to the capture of the port city of Kerch and the rulership of the Sea of Azov , because the Russian army in the Crimea obtained a large part of its food from there. That is why preparations began at the end of April. At the beginning of May the Allies undertook this expedition to Kerch in the south-east of the Crimea. The British Highland Brigade , the Rifle Brigade , the Royal Marines and 8,500 French soldiers were embarked under the command of Sir George Brown but returned without attacking the city. The reason for this was a telegraphic order from the French emperor to collect the reserves from Constantinople. The French ships were needed for this. The relationship between the Allies had suffered when the expedition was broken off. Canrobert, since he could not achieve any decisive successes despite all his efforts and could not come to an understanding with the British, resigned command on May 16, 1855 to make way for General Aimable Pélissier , and took over command of the 1st Corps again. In order to improve relations with the British again, Pélissier agreed to a second expedition to Kerch. The expedition started on May 24th with 60 ships, 7,000 French, 5,000 Turkish and 3,000 British soldiers. This destroyed the Kerch arsenal and several Russian ports on the Kerch Strait . Kerch was occupied after the slight resistance had been put down. The Allies also seized the Jenikal fortress , which lies on a promontory north of the city, and thus gained entry into the Sea of ​​Azov. In the days that followed, the Allied light ships entered these waters. In the individual Russian supply points such as Berdjansk , Mariupol , Taganrog landed and stored supplies were partly taken over and partly destroyed. From then on, Kerch remained permanently occupied by the Allies for the duration of the war. As a result of the appearance of the Alliance's fleet, the Russians also cleared the last two points that they had previously held on the Caucasian coast: Anapa and Sudschukkale. This success was easily achieved, but of great importance. The Russian side found this defeat very painful.

On June 28, 1855, Lord Raglan died of dysentery , his successor was Sir James Simpson and, after his resignation on November 11, William John Codrington . On July 12, Admiral Nakhimov, who had been fatally wounded by a sniper and had been in charge of the defense of the city and its port , died on July 12th .

French floating batteries at the Battle of Kinburn, 1855
French icebreakers in the Liman of the Dnieper and Bug
French floating battery: Lave , 1854

The Allied fleets ruled the Black Sea, sank transport ships and shot at military objects such as Kinburn Fortress as well as civil objects on the coast. When the ship formation appeared in front of the fortress on October 14th, it was in poor condition and was taken after a short resistance. For this purpose, 4,000 soldiers of the Anglo-French troops were landed on the Kinburn Peninsula on the 15th . These first cut off the fortress on the land side. After a brief resistance, the fort's garrison surrendered on October 17, 1855. The attack on the fortification posed no particular difficulty in terms of the means of defense available to the defenders. This was the first time in history that armored floating batteries were used brought into use. The French fleet had recently been reinforced by three such ships: Lave , Tonnante and Dévastation. The first appearances of an armor system - which was consistently equipped with cast-iron plates - were used on these vehicles. These protected against projectiles of the normal caliber of the time. High hopes were placed in the batteries, especially for the option of an attack on the Russian fortifications of Sweaborg and Kronstadt on the Baltic coast, which so far had nothing to be worn and which were to be fired on again next spring. To enable the floating batteries to pass, icebreakers had to be used before they were deployed in the Dnepr-Bug-Liman . When the fort was bombarded, the armored batteries developed by France showed that ships with iron armor were able to withstand heavy cannon fire. Although the crew members were killed by projectiles that penetrated the gun ports, the iron armor was not penetrated despite many hits.

The gazebo : " Position of the Allies in front of the Malakoff Tower and the Redan " (1855)

On August 16, the Russians attempted the only sortie from the siege of Sevastopol under the command of Gorchakov in the Battle of Chernaya . The outnumbered but poorly armed Russian infantry attempted to cross the Chorna River without the support of cavalry or artillery to take the heights beyond. The attempt ended in a bloody massacre in which they suffered casualties between 8,000 and 9,000 soldiers.

The struggle for the Sevastopol fortress reached its climax after almost a year of siege and ended with the storming of the Malakov fort . After three days of bombardment of the city by 775 British and French guns, three French and two British divisions attacked the fortress in several places. After the conquest of Malakov by the French under the command of Generals Patrice de Mac-Mahon and Pierre Bosquet on September 8, 1855, Gorchakov decided - in view of the great losses of his own - to vacate the city of Sevastopol. On the night of September 9th, Russian pioneers blew up most of the fortifications as the fort allowed control of the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. The remaining 40,000 defenders withdrew across Chernaya Bay. The wrestling of the fortress led to the first material battle in history and was characterized by the massive use of weapons and war material. The warring parties threw enormous amounts of troops, military equipment and ammunition into the battle. In the process, an extensive strategic conception of the campaign against Russia was lost. The main goal became to overwhelm the opponent by means of quantitative and qualitative superiority.

Russian gun emplacement with braided rope curtains against sniper projectiles and shrapnel

The British troops suffered a heavy defeat in the storming of Sevastopol. While the defenders were thrown out of the Malachov bastion by the waves of attack by the French troops, the simultaneously undertaken attack by the English on the Redan - Sevastopol's second important fortress - got stuck in the trenches. The British leadership was dissatisfied and angry about the failure at Redan, especially in view of the militarily glorious French victory. The Queen's statement that she could not bear the thought "that 'the failure on the Redan' should be our last fait d 'Armes" expresses the widespread mood in Britain. This is one of the reasons for the unbroken belligerence there.

Although the Russian army had a total of 1.2 million soldiers, it was never able to concentrate 200,000 soldiers in the Crimea. Because they had to secure the Baltic provinces and the Baltic coast against possible landing operations by the British and French, they stood with troops in rebellious Poland as a precaution, in the south there was danger from Austria and the Caucasian front against the Turks also tied 100,000 soldiers. The Allies won the battle mainly because of their great material superiority. With their bombardments they almost completely destroyed the city of Sevastopol. Generals on both sides ruthlessly sacrificed thousands of their soldiers. As the battle progressed, the French armed forces increasingly bore the brunt of the battle.

The Russian side could not generally count on the support of the native Crimean population. Eighty percent of them were Tatars. When the Allied fleet showed itself off the Crimean coast, large parts of the Russian and Greek population fled and various groups of Tatars rose up against their Russian masters. These formed armed gangs to help the Western powers. On the way to the Isthmus of Perekop , many Russians fleeing the war zone were robbed and killed by these gangs of Tatars. It was alleged, among other things, that seizures would be carried out for a newly established “Turkish government” in Evpatoria .

Richard von Stutterheim, Commander of the British-German Legion.

Although mercenaries like something out of date had gone out of fashion in Europe as a result of the Napoleonic wars, Great Britain in particular immediately began to look for such support in the fight against the Russian mass armies. At the same time, British diplomacy tried to get Prussia, Austria and even Sweden to their side with the help of subsidy payments . However, these countries could not be persuaded to get involved in the war with the gigantic Russian empire for the promised funds. At the same time, the first war reports arrived: the soldiers died en masse in the camps in the Crimea from epidemics and diseases, and the Russians fought doggedly defensively. In contrast to the land powers, England relied on a poorly paid volunteer army, which also had a huge colonial empire to support. As an alternative, the up-and-coming industry offered sufficient job offers and the British press reported extensively on the misery of the sick and wounded on the peninsula, making it difficult to recruit. England was now falling behind on this point in times when it had fought many of its wars with the help of foreign mercenaries. Small states that did not have to fear the effects of diplomatic entanglements with Russia, such as Switzerland, Italy and German principalities, were particularly suitable for recruitment. Immediately the British press and people - driven by national pride - were in an outcry. But more pay for the British soldiers would have led to higher wage demands from the domestic workers. The later legionnaire Rodowicz von Oswiecinski wrote: “One counted with certainty on the Poles, who found the opportunity here to legitimately attack their mortal enemy, the Russian. You counted on the Swiss, who from time immemorial were always men with the syringe when there was a fire somewhere (...) You counted on Italians and Americans, but above all on the German mercenaries. "

Mercenary recruitment was now banned in large parts of Europe. For this reason, among other things, Great Britain limited itself to three foreign legions, one German, one Swiss and one Italian. The formation of the Italian Legion made slow progress. The king of Sardinia had taken over the patronage, hoping to strengthen his own army at English expense. But his subjects showed little interest in being recruited for his political goals.

A recruited contingent of German volunteers on the British side as the German Legion (British-German Legion) was brought to Constantinople, but was no longer used because the fighting had ended. Mercenary recruitment had long been banned in Germany. Nevertheless, the British government appointed Richard von Stutterheim Major General and then entrusted him with the heavily disguised recruitment and organization, as he already had relevant experience. At the end of 1855 the Legion numbered almost 9,000 men and shipments from Great Britain began. Most of them were agricultural workers and artisans, only about half had military training or equivalent experience.

In 1855, Great Britain recruited 3,338 soldiers for the Crimean War without having negotiated a military service agreement with Switzerland. A law had already existed since 1851 which forbade the recruiting of conscripts on the territory of the Confederation and was extended to all Swiss residents in 1853. Even before the British Swiss Legion (BSL) could take action against the Russian troops, the hostilities ceased.

France and Great Britain, encouraged by Adam Jerzy Czartoryski and the political faction within the Polish emigration Hôtel Lambert , encouraged the establishment of a Polish legion. It consisted of 1,500 exiles , prisoners of war and deserters from the tsarist army, was equipped by western powers and was given the cover name "Cossacks of the Sultan". Since the spring of 1855, the question of whether the Western powers would recognize the Legion as a national armed force and whether they would indirectly promote the restoration of a Polish nation-state has been discussed for a very long time. According to statements about the service, a large part was pressed. The Legion did not enter service until the fall.

War in Transcaucasia

Nikolai Muravyov (1794–1866)
Battle of Kars (Fyodor Baikow, 1855)

The Russians fought more successfully in the Asian theater of war, to which the western allies of the Ottoman Empire had sent only a few military advisers. To defend the Armenian highlands, the Ottomans had concentrated the army corps from Asia Minor , Mesopotamia and part of the Syrian corps in the border area. On November 26, 1853, General Ivan Andronikashvili and 10,000 men routed the Turkish main corps at Suplis . General Bebutov , at the head of a corps of the Caucasian army, won the Battle of Basgedikler over Abdi Pasha on December 1, 1853 , which thwarted the intended Turkish invasion of Russian Armenia . The Turkish commander in Eastern Anatolia, Abdi Pascha, was then deposed and brought before a military tribunal. He was succeeded by Akhmet Pasha. On June 16, 1854 Andronikashvili was again successful against 30,000 Turks at Osurgeti and was able to secure Mingrelia for Russia.

In July 1854, the Russian general Wrangel invaded Turkish Armenia. On July 29th, he defeated a Turkish division at Bajesid . The Turkish commander Zarif Mustafa Pasha attacked the Russians in August with more than 40,000 men. At Kurukdere he came across Prince Bebutow on August 5, 1854. In a five-hour battle, the Russians were able to defeat the Turkish army, but due to their own heavy losses, they were unable to take advantage of the victory and take the important fortress of Kars .

In 1855 General Muravyov was appointed commander in chief of the Caucasian army. He marched into the Ottoman part of Armenia in June 1855 and was greeted with joy by the people there. With 40,000 men he reached Kars in northeastern Anatolia . The 30,000 defenders under the British officer William Fenwick Williams were initially able to repel the attack by the Russians. Thereupon Muravyov led the siege of the fortress from the beginning of June to the end of November 1855. Omar Pasha , who was so successful in the Danube principalities, informed the Allies on July 11th that he would move his troops from the Crimea to Asia Minor. The Allies were against this decision and only approved the plan in September. Omar Pasha's diversionary attack on Kutaisi was eventually foiled by General Bebutov. On November 29, the Ottoman occupation in Kars finally had to capitulate because of the poor supply situation and Muravyov was able to take the city. This success allowed Russia, despite the loss of Sevastopol, to conduct moderate peace negotiations.

Although the warring parties and historiography were certainly unaware of it, after the fall of Kars the Russian army occupied more square miles of enemy territory than, conversely, the naval powers. The conquest of the fortress made the Russian government more inclined to explore peace. This victory seemed to make up for the defeat of Sevastopol, in keeping with the military concept of honor of the time. The fact that the fall of Kars was viewed as a disgrace among the Allies proves this. Queen Victoria described the defeat as "a disgrace to the Allies". The 200,000-strong troops were inactive or only used to build roads remained in the Crimea without having sent a relief army to Kars in Asia Minor. For Napoleon and the French public, the events in this theater of war meant little, as its security had been tacitly left to the British. For the French side, their honor, which had been discredited since the Battle of Waterloo, was restored by the conquest of the Malachov bastion Sevastopol, which dominated the Black Sea region. This removed an important obstacle to peace. Thinking in terms of military honor and shame, which has lost its effectiveness with the change in the image of war, was dominant in the Crimean War - in the forms it was fought until 1855 - for the political calculation of all warring parties and must be taken into account for the assessment of events .

End of war

March 1856: Envoy to the Paris Congress that led to the Peace of Paris
Alexander II was Emperor of Russia from 1855 to 1881.

After the conquest of Sevastopol, Napoléon III wanted. advance inland to step out of the shadow of his uncle Napoléon Bonaparte through the expected success . But his generals advised against such an adventure. The mood in France had also changed because of the length of the campaign and the high losses. Prince Napoléon , the emperor's cousin, had also left the troops, which led to discussions among the French public. Napoleon III in the face of all this, found himself ready to negotiate peace. While the French war preparations, which were much better than the British (also based on the experience of the Russian campaign in 1812 ), ensured that their troops were relatively well supplied in the first winter of the war in 1854/55, the following winter hit them when it fell the fortress of Sevastopol the war had already been decided, all the harder. Although Sevastopol only had to be kept occupied in the second winter of the war, massive losses occurred in the French army camps, which were also huge, due to the damp and disease-promoting accommodation of soldiers in holes in the ground.

In November 1855 the new Russian tsar Alexander II visited the Crimea. There he convinced himself of the need to make peace. In addition, Austria had meanwhile threatened to fully enter the war against the Tsarist empire and Russia had found itself completely in a politically isolated situation. On March 30, 1856, Russia concluded the Third Peace of Paris with its war opponents - the Ottoman Empire, Great Britain, France and Sardinia as well as the non-belligerent states Prussia and Austria . It declared the integrity and independence of the Ottoman Empire. Russia had to cede the southeast of Bessarabia : the Budschak , between the Black Sea and the Prut . The strategically important Danube Delta, conquered by Russia in 1812, fell to the Ottoman Empire. The northern part, with the fortress city of Ismail , went to the Principality of Moldova . The lost territories, but not the Danube Delta, were given back to Russia at the Berlin Congress in 1878.

Navigation on the Danube was released, the Commission of the Danube Shore States was established and the Black Sea was declared a neutral area.

Political Consequences

The Crimean War shook the previous equilibrium between the five great powers of Europe ( pentarchy ). The “concert of the powers” ​​no longer worked. Power politicians could now use their chance to establish large nation states (Italy and Germany), even at the risk of international tensions or even wars.

The political system created at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 finally disintegrated as a result of the Crimean War . As a result of Austria's stance in the Crimean War, the solidarity of the “Holy Alliance” - under the three conservative eastern great powers - was dropped. Russia had also played out its role as a major military power and “European gendarme”. Its defeat in Crimea revealed to the world how backward Russia actually was in many areas.

The Crimean War showed contemporaries that a war between great powers could be fought in a “limited” manner. It changed the character of international diplomacy. Generally speaking, its aim was to maintain peace, and alliances were more of a defensive nature: revolutions and hegemony were to be prevented. After the war, on the other hand, the alliances became offensive and diplomacy served as preparation for war. However, the time before the Crimean War should not be portrayed too positively, and with the Berlin Congress (1878) the concert of the powers returned, albeit in a weakened manner.

In England there was a loss of confidence in the British aristocracy due to the carelessness of the noble officers in the Crimean War. In Russia, the tsarist government also lost its reputation, and in France there was euphoria at the glossed over victory and prestige gained through the peace negotiations in Paris . In 1870, in the run-up to the Franco-Prussian War , this resulted in overconfidence.


The Crimean War ended the strong role that Russia had played in Europe after the coalition wars. Russia's defeat revealed how backward the country was in technology and in its entire social structure. Tsar Alexander II undertook far-reaching reforms in administration, education and in the tsarist army .

For example, there was a lot of catching up to do in industrialization, for example because of the continued serfdom of small farmers, which resulted in a shortage of workers. The most important elements since 1861 were the abolition of serfdom and the renewal of the military organization. Alexander pushed through these reforms against great resistance in the Russian aristocracy. The agriculture of the tsarist empire, which was based on serfdom, could only be maintained if no more than five to six men per thousand of the able-bodied population were drafted into the military, because after their 25 years of service the soldiers gained social freedom. One of the effects was the need to maintain a standing professional army with a high level of peacekeeping, as there was no way to fall back on trained reservists as with a conscript army . Due to the military failures in the Crimean War, the new tsar and his advisors recognized that the serfdom of farm workers was the main obstacle to the creation of an army on par with the western armies. Milyutin , who later became Minister of War and the driving force behind the Russian army reform of the 1870s, had already pointed out this issue very clearly in his memorandum of spring 1856. His plan envisaged the introduction of a conscript army. The age of recruitment was then set at 20, and the mostly rural conscripts were given the opportunity to catch up on primary school education.

Before the Crimean War, the Russian government shrank from the high costs of extensive expansion of the railway network, but modernization has now taken place in the Tsarist empire, for which the later construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway became one of the synonyms. The project of connecting Siberia with European Russia by a rail line dates back to this time.

Before the beginning of the war, the tsarist empire only had a rail network of 1065 kilometers in total. This circumstance led to noticeable logistical problems on the Russian side during the military conflict. The defeat of the tsarist army on its own territory, which was not least a consequence of these logistical problems during the Crimean War, led to a new transport policy. Initially, however, expansion considerations focused on European Russia. But voices were quickly heard calling for a connection to Siberia with the burgeoning Russian rail network on the European side.

When, after the victory of the Allies, at the Paris peace negotiations, the great powers tried to cast the result of these meetings into a treaty under international law, France had the say and had significant influence on peace conditions. Many points were tough for Russia and the Habsburg Monarchy has remained the “traitor” for Alexander II ever since. He claimed that his predecessor and father died just before the end of the war because of grief over Austria's infidelity.

The Crimean War and the reforms that followed were very expensive for Russia. There was also a new feeling of being vulnerable. This contributed to the decision to sell Alaska, which had been Russian until then, to the USA in 1867 .

Ottoman Empire

In the Peace of Paris the territorial independence and inviolability of the Ottoman Empire was guaranteed. In the peace treaty it was formulated that every act and every event that calls the integrity of the Ottoman Empire into question should be seen as a question of European interest . The conquests made were mutually released, but Russia had to admit under the name of "border rectification" that part of Bessarabia with the fortress Ismail was reunited with the Principality of Moldova. The Danube Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia were assured that their old privileges and immunities would be maintained and these were placed under the guarantee of the treaty powers.

Apart from the brief involvement of the Ottomans in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, it was the first European conflict in which the empire was involved. Through him, the Muslim world of the Ottoman Empire opened up to western technologies and armies. In addition, it pushed its integration into the global capitalist economy. At the same time, however, the war triggered an Islamic defensive stance against the West, which continues to this day.


Caricature, Kladderadatsch 1859: “The European Congress and what's behind it.” Napoleon III. tries to make the treaties of 1815 forgotten.

Since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, France was considered the defeated country that had to be guarded by the other great powers so that a new Napoleon would not wreak war on Europe. Soon, however, France again belonged to the great powers and played a role in the pentarchy. Nevertheless, there were diplomatic regressions and during the revolution of 1848 France fell into a certain isolation. Napoleon III also met with suspicion, especially after he made himself emperor in 1852.

However, the Crimean War valued Napoleon III's France. considerably on. It was able to cope with a major conflict, fought alongside Great Britain and the peace negotiations took place in Paris under Napoleon's leadership. That being said, the status quo persisted while France had tried in the past to distinguish itself at Constantinople's expense.

Great Britain

The Crimean War showed that there was significant maladministration in the British military. As a result, the Aberdeen government lost its reputation. In February 1855 she was forced to resign and Palmerston took over the formation of a new cabinet. The future British Prime Minister Disraeli declared the war to be an “Indian war” from a South Asian perspective, as there had previously been (unreal) fears that Russia could endanger British India by expanding south. The relationship between Great Britain and Russia remained tense until the 20th century for reasons of ideology and world power politics.

The war resulted in the formation of a modern national myth in Britain of the "common" soldier defending the nation's honor, instead of the aristocrat of earlier wars. In the middle class, there was a new sense of self-confidence in connection with ideas such as professional ability and the principle of achievement. The middle class recognized themselves in a Florence Nightingale who rose to become a national heroine. The Queen donated the Victoria Cross in 1857 , with which non-officers could be awarded for the first time.


The Kingdom of Sardinia saw itself upgraded through its participation in the Crimean War. It was able to put the Italian question on the French political agenda with the aim of uniting Italy. In addition to the rapprochement with France, it was important for Sardinia that Austria had been diplomatically weakened. In July 1858 it concluded with Napoléon III. signed a secret treaty in Plombières-les-Bains . In the alliance with France, the unification of Italy under the leadership of Sardinia against Austria after the Sardinian War was finally achieved until 1861 and the Italian nation-state was founded as a constitutional monarchy (see Kingdom of Italy ).

German Confederation

Austria had been the supreme power in the German Confederation since 1815 , and this position was now gradually faltering. Russia was disappointed in Austria, but so were the Western powers, who found themselves inadequately supported. This foreign policy weakened position of Austria was later to prove fatal in the Sardinian War (1859) and then in the German War (1866). Prussia's relationship with Russia, on the other hand, improved.

The effort involved in mobilizing the troops sent to demonstrate their power against Russia brought Austria to the brink of financial ruin. This led to lasting savings in the army. Austria lost the war of 1866 not least because of the savings made earlier. The German Confederation was dissolved and Prussia significantly increased its territory and power. The Crimean War thus paved the way for German unity in 1871 under Prussian leadership and Prussia can thus be seen as the only beneficiary of this war.

Today the accusation, which goes back to contemporaries, can no longer be upheld that Austria wavered back and forth between the ally of the Holy Alliance Russia and the Western powers England and France and thereby caused her later political isolation among the powers themselves. The main members of Austria's policy, which was unwaveringly aimed at the rapid termination of war and peace, were the alliance of protection and defiance with Prussia of April 20, 1854; in the various calls to the German Confederation to participate in the Austrian policy of gradually moving away from Russia and finally to provide troops for any necessary intervention in the war; in mobilizing one's own troops; in the request to Russia of June 3, 1854, to evacuate the occupied Danube principalities; in the subsequent occupation of these principalities by Austrian troops; in the formulation of the Four Points on August 8, 1854, the joint war target program of the two Western powers and Austria (international declaration of protection for the Danube principalities, freedom of navigation on the Danube, revision of the Straits Treaty of 1841, Russia renouncing its protectorate over the Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman Empire) ; in the alliance treaty between Austria and the Western powers of December 2, 1854, which was only apparently entered into as a war alliance; and finally in the Austrian ultimatum to Russia of December 16, 1855 - the non-acceptance of which was expected - which in turn would entail Austria's entry into the war.

Karl Ferdinand von Buol-Schauenstein (1797–1865). Lithograph by Josef Kriehuber , 1854

Austria did not want to allow any party to dictate its war and peace policy . The Metternich's Austria had played the role of a junior partner in the Holy Alliance. Like his predecessor Schwarzenberg , Count Buol , Minister of Foreign Affairs, was looking for ways to free himself from the pressure of Russian guardianship in European politics. In the course of the Crimean War the opportunity came and was used by him.

The fear of revolution weighed heavier on the leadership of the multiethnic state than the fear of Russia's overwhelming power. In connection with this war, this runs like a red thread through Austrian politics. In the wake of the revolutionary years 1848/49 , for example, the state of siege over Vienna and Prague lasted until September 1853, in the outer regions of the empire, such as Lombardy-Venetia , Galicia and Transylvania , until the middle / end of 1854. The extensive service obligation of Austrian (Hungarian , Polish) deserters from 1848/49 in the Turkish occupation army on the Danube front gave rise to diplomatic presentations at the Sublime Porte in Constantinople, just as the formation of an Anglo-Italian legion in Sardinia prompted corresponding diplomatic steps towards the seat of government in London.

Buol and his emperor knew that entering the war on either the Russian or Western side was not a realistic option without triggering an escalating armed conflict. They also realized that there was no reasonable way to stay out of the conflict by declaring neutrality without losing power. For both of them there was only the very limited option of opposition to Russia - without being its military enemy - and friendship with the Western powers - without being their military ally. Austria was able to persistently evade the policy of threatening advertising by all major warring parties. The Habsburg monarchy followed a self-preservation drive in its diplomacy. Austria's borders with all neighbors were generally endangered.

Austria pursued a consistent peace policy during the Crimean War. For this purpose the Austrian government calculated the risk of a limited minor war (a military clash with Russia in the Danube principalities). Austria, however, found itself in the increasingly complicated position of gradually moving away from Russia from the standpoint of a wait-and-see armed neutrality and drawing closer to the Western powers through multiple ties. Austria has always made Russia feel the threat of entering the war in order to force it to the negotiating table. At the same time it gave the Western powers hope of an Austrian entry into the war in order to oblige them to the moderate Austrian war aims, but delayed it again and again in order to avoid the question of its existence for as long as possible in an unchecked war. In the course of the war, Austria deviated from a position of armed neutrality, deployed strong contingents of troops on the border with Russia and the contested Danube principalities and thus pursued a de facto anti-Russian policy of benevolent neutrality towards the Allies.

Entry into the war on the Russian side, as it seemed possible in 1853 or on the western side, as had been expected since 1854 - would have foreseeably brought about a European war and thus a First World War from the outset. As a result, the renewed outbreak of the revolution against the monarchy, from which the Habsburg Empire had not yet recovered and which would have jeopardized its very existence. This threat has restricted the scope of action of Austrian politics to the lowest possible level - that of a policy of de-escalation . The bait laid for Austria - initially by the Russian, then by the French - to expand south or south-east was seen through as an intention to drag it into the war. Plans to expand into the neighboring Ottoman territories existed in Austria, but were not shared by the political leadership. The Habsburg Empire was able to save its existence for many decades through its effectively veiled diplomacy and also not inconsiderable, open military threats.

Military consequences

Changes in the organization and military budgets

After 25 years in command of Wellington, there was stagnation in the training of the British Army ; this became clear in the Crimean War. In addition, officers' certificates were still sold for money , outdated military tactics were retained and they still disciplined their soldiers with flogging . The poor organization of the British Army led, among other things, to the fall of the Aberdeen government in February 1855. The new Commander in Chief of the British Army - Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge - was asked by Prince Albert to improve the training of the British Army. This is how the Aldershot garrison (The Home of the British Army) was established. In Victorian Great Britain, Aldershot was synonymous with the training of the British Army.

Overall, the Crimean War led to increased military spending in all states. Russia procured cannons with rifled barrels and rifled breech-loading rifles for the first time, also from the USA (Remington rifle from 1867). Austria became so indebted through armaments as a result of the Crimean War that austerity programs led to the dissolution of entire units, which ultimately led to defeats in later wars, among other things.

Strategic consequences

The Black Sea region was to become something of a militarily neutral zone on the basis of the Third Peace of Paris . From then on Russia was not allowed to maintain a war fleet or fortresses there.

In the two wars only between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, 1828–1829 and 1877–1878, the Russians captured Edirne and marched right up to Constantinople. In 1878 there was again the prospect of a Russian conquest of the straits, Russia had already conquered practically the entire European part of the Ottoman Empire. The British sent their fleet to the Bosphorus and threatened Russia with another war with them. Weakened by the course of the war, Russia could not afford a continuation war against Great Britain and stopped its offensive in San Stefano (today Yeşilköy , a western suburb of Istanbul on the Marmara Sea ). The Peace of San Stefano ended the tenth and last of the Russo-Turkish Wars .


Port of Balaklawa 1855: sailing and steamship technology side by side. Above all, the armored steamers of the French fleet were technically far ahead of the Russian navy. The tsarist empire could not keep pace with the industrialization of England and France.
The cramped starting point of the strategic railway line in the port of Balaklava
Strategic Railway routes
The consequences of cannon bombing on buildings.

With regard to the partly modern technology used, the Crimean War is regarded as the first “modern” war in world history. For the first time infantry units were used on the British side, which consistently used rifles with rifled barrels. These were the Enfield Rifled Musket , a muzzle-type minié rifle with 99 cm run length in caliber .577 inches (.577) and 14.66 mm, which was introduced in 1852 and had an effective range of 800 meters, in Mass fire up to 1000 meters. On the Russian side, however, smooth-running muskets were still used with an effective range of about 200 meters. The success of the British Enfield rifle meant that Prussia and all other great and central powers now consistently equip their entire infantry with rifled rifles, which had previously been reserved for the so-called hunter troops. The effect of this rifle was so impressive for the military that shortly after the war - which soon became obsolete - considerations were made to dispense with artillery altogether in the future.

The British military was generally still caught up in the ideas of the Napoleonic Wars and the British soldiers only received the new long-range Minié rifles (the last muzzle-loaders of this type of rifle) shortly before their departure for the Crimea ; very few soldiers had been trained on them. This was revealed in the Battle of the Alma. After having decimated itself in several nonsensical bayonet attacks, the infantry opened fire at an unusually large distance on the advancing enemy, contrary to the orders of their overtaxed officers. In doing so, they often brought the surprised Russian columns to a standstill.

The new weapon technologies led to social upheaval in the military. More far-reaching, more precise and more energetic rifles and artillery let traditional officers and generals fade away in splendid uniforms on horseback or decoratively on generals' hills. The higher social classes were meanwhile just as in the mud with the "simple soldiers" or hid in bulletproof shelters. As before, the war was based on land and water, but soldiers and technology increasingly moved underground. This war was also relocated under the water surface, especially in the Baltic Sea region, with sea mines on the Russian side. Explosive power and technology were still at the beginning of development, but electromagnetic remote ignition of underwater mines was already available. An air war has not yet been waged. Until the First World War, most of the military did not really understand what would have been possible with the existing tactical battlefield reconnaissance technology using reconnaissance balloons. The first air attack by means of balloons on a city (Venice) took place in the revolutionary years 1848/49 by Austrian troops under Field Marshal Radetzky. In the classic war of movement there was still little use for such a cumbersome device anyway. Only in the course of the World War were the advantages for trench warfare and trench warfare fully recognized and realized, this was mainly due to the lack of coordination and the low level of expertise of the upper command authorities or army offices.

In the eleven months of the siege of Sevastopol, all warring parties dug 120 kilometers of trenches. About 150 million rifle and 50 million artillery shots were fired. The real technical revolution of the firearms was still to come, so that the Crimean War still enjoyed a high level of public acceptance and the image of the war, which was largely transfigured by the population, could still be maintained. On the one hand, technical innovations were already being used militarily, on the other hand, this war was still partly characterized by colorful troop collisions, for example. Contemporary paintings, usually without much documentary accuracy, give a good idea of ​​the sometimes spectacular and colorful appearance of the war. Pictures show the commanders who directed their armies from the proverbial general hill by visual contact in the field battle and staged a colorful martial spectacle as their regiments advance - now completely inexpedient in terms of military tactics. Despite all the mass deaths, this war was probably the last time that extensive echoes of traditional soldiers' virtues , such as chivalry, were made . Parliamentaries with white flags, for example, regulated truces and evacuations of the wounded and dead on the battlefield to a greater extent . For the first time, steam warships armored with cast iron plates were used, which the French and British navies developed into so-called ironclads after the war . The steam drive enabled a higher speed and independence from the wind. Also new is the modern artillery with explosive grenades . During the siege of Sevastopol, the British were based in the port city of Balaklava . That is why they built the first strategic railway line in the history of the railway here in 1855 in order to transport their supplies from Balaklava to the camp of the British-French siege army in front of Sevastopol. Under Thomas Brasseys line "was established in September 1854 of the eleven-kilometer stretch of the Crimean Central Railway Great " (Great Crimean Central Railway) started. It was ready after just seven weeks and before the onset of winter.

The Crimean War was also the historically first trench and trench warfare . Furthermore, the Crimean War with the death ride of Balaklava called into question the use of the classic cavalry attack, as this could hardly prevail against the more modern, faster, more energetic, or more precisely firing weapons in connection with the changing field entrenchments. The cavalry retained an important function until the extensive motorization of the armies, which later emerged.

The electromagnetic telegraph was used for the first time in a large-scale strategic and tactical operation . On the Russian side there were already several opto-mechanical telegraph lines based on the Chappe system before the war . In addition to the Moscow - St. Petersburg - Warsaw route, there was also a connection from Moscow to Sevastopol in the Crimea, which meant that a simple message could be transmitted in about two days. In 1854 Russia began building much faster electromagnetic telegraph lines from Moscow, in turn to St. Petersburg and Warsaw, and south to Odessa and Sevastopol, which were completed in 1855. These lines allowed Russia to coordinate troop and material movements and to establish quick contact with Berlin to order war supplies.

On the Allied side, the existing electromagnetic telegraph network from London via Paris to Bucharest was extended to Varna on the Black Sea. In April 1855, the longest submarine cable to date, 550 kilometers long , made of iron wire insulated with gutta-percha , was laid from Varna to Balaklava in the Crimea in just 18 days. This shortened the time for a message from Paris to the Crimea from twelve days to three weeks to just 24 hours. In the Crimea, the French and British used field telegraphs for the first time, with the cables being laid in the ground by means of a wagon with a plow or by digging trenches. Submarine cables such as field telegraphs, however, proved to be short-lived; the lines of the field telegraphs often broke, and the submarine cable also broke in December 1855, shortly after the fall of Sevastopol, without it being able to be repaired. The significance of the then new means of communication for the course of the war has been little explored, but two aspects on the part of the Allies are emphasized: First, the news from the front reached the public in France and Great Britain within a very short time, which drew warfare into the arena of politics . Second, the chain of command extended to the headquarters in Paris and London.

This was viewed by commanders in the field as ambivalent progress. They believed that the efficiency of warfare had suffered because tactical decisions that had been made on the ground up to then had been interfered with by heads of state far from the theater of war . The British General Simpson is said to have said: "The telegraph has messed everything up!" The French General Canrobert, among other things, because of the telegraphic interference of Napoleon III. down in command of the Crimean campaign.

Despite all the influence that technical innovations had on the war, the most modern and technologically advanced country in the world at the time, Great Britain, failed to meet the tactical and logistical requirements of this first modern war.

The historian and publicist German Werth described the Crimean War in 1989 as "anticipating Verdun ". From now on, human life mattered less than ever, and just a few years after the Crimean events, 200,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War , 400,000 succumbed to their wounds, illnesses and privations.


Fenton's darkroom trolley with assistant Marcus Sparling 1855
The Battle of the Alma as "Hippodrama" in Astley's Amphitheater (London, 1854)

For the first time, war reporters were able to use telegraph to send reports to newspapers without wasting time , for example about the famous, transfigured attack of the Light Brigade. The newspaper The Times has already reported the same evening on the military senseless attack. The Briton William Howard Russell became famous for his reports from the Crimea. Some of Russell's reporting was so accurate that the tsar said he didn't need spies, he had the Times . A later consequence of his articles was the introduction of military censorship by Commander-in-Chief Codrington on February 25, 1856. In addition to the already existing censorship of all other countries in the military conflict, in the old world unwritten, but self-evident rules of the Takts, which forbade the visual display of war victims.

In 1854 Alfred Tennyson published his poem The Charge of the Light Brigade . The Light Brigade attack was later covered in several films, pieces of music, and books.

For the first time photo reports were made about a war. The misery and no longer just the heroic side of the war could be represented. However, Roger Fenton's recordings are mostly arranged photos, which can partly be explained by the long exposure times at the time. Unlike later war photographers, he was therefore unable to photograph combat operations. The photos are mostly portraits. Most of the people pictured are officers. The simple soldier was almost exclusively photographed as a marginal figure. His trip to Crimea is often viewed as a propaganda mission. The British Crown is said to have strictly forbidden him to take photos of the wounded or dead.

Valley of the shadow of death , version with cannonballs on the way.
Kladderadatsch front page May 15, 1855: Napoleon III. opens the Paris World Exhibition in the middle of the Crimean War.

Russell reported that the British officers acted as if they were on a picnic tour. Fenton involuntarily confirmed with his photos of a belittlingly staged landscape and camp idyll that Russell's criticism of the Crimean War was as a “picnic”, which was also used by other newspaper people, via The Times . Fenton's best-known picture, "The Valley of the Shadow of Death", which shows only the remaining cannonballs on and next to a path between hills, charges Fenton with such tension that the atrocities of war are no longer recognizable in the mind of the beholder relocate. Susan Sontag writes that it was a portrait of death without the dead. There is also a preserved photo version of Fenton, on which only cannonballs lie in the ditch next to the path.

Pictures from the Crimean campaign gave the British population at least a vague sense of the living conditions of the soldiers on site. Therefore, there also worked a war painter as the Scotsman William Simpson , who captured his impressions in watercolors, which were published in the UK as lithographs.

Wood engraving after Guys, The Illustrated London News : “ Carrying the Frostbitten to Balaclava. “March 3, 1855

The British press was not concerned with subjective impressions, but with impartial, incontestable photographic documents. Many drawings by Constantin Guys , which were quickly made by hand in the heat of the moment , and which showed his personal presence and eyewitnesses, fitted in with this . With the signature “ Taken on the spot ”, Guys certified the authenticity of a sketch depicting the wounded, cigar-smoking Canrobert at the Battle of Inkerman. It was precisely these reportage drawings and not Fenton's photos that suggested the historically new quality in the visual reporting of art and fiction-free factuality of the British population and came at least somewhat close to the reality of the war. For guys, war was a back and forth flow of peoples, battalions, and cables. This can be seen in his sketches when he depicts how the Crimean Tatars were expelled from Balaklava on the orders of Lord Raglan in November 1854 or how an apparently endless line of British soldiers threatened by freezing to death is evacuated on foot and on horseback. Unlike most of the reporters, the former soldier Guys also made his war pictures during the severe and loss-making winter of 1854/55. Months earlier there were plenty of, especially glorifying, depictions of battle episodes of this war.

The photographer Fenton left the Crimea before the end of the fighting. His work was continued by James Robertson and Felice Beato , whose 60 plates showed, among other things, the French trenches off Sevastopol, the safe shelters of the Russian generals and the indescribable chaos after the Russians had left.

For the interested newspaper reader, it became clear in the course of the Crimean War that more modern, illustrated, faster and more extensive reporting did not necessarily result in better reporting. After the British victory in the Battle of the Alma on October 2, 1854, The Times reported the fall of the Sevastopol fortress. Until October 4th, when the leading article called for a storming of Kronstadt and St. Petersburg. The premature announcement of victory for the central theater of war, which was fought over for almost a year later, was based on a rumor. In the absence of suitable sources of information, Russell invented a "Tatar courier" who carried the message of the storming of the Sevastopol fortress to Omar Pasha. The false report immediately reached the European and American stock exchanges via telegraph and triggered economic turmoil there. The British officers now found themselves exposed to increasing public pressure to succeed, making it more difficult for them that The Times changed their war-friendly reporting to war-critical shortly thereafter.

The term " Tatar report " goes back to the newspaper mishap and was soon used to describe false newspaper reports that spread general attention and unrest. Although it is now considered out of date, it is still used in the press and with a modified meaning. Basically, the ethnically derogatory term is an expression of the way people treated ethnic groups like, in this case, the Tatars .

Tolstoy 1854

Among the defenders of Sevastopol was the officer Lev Tolstoy , who recorded his experiences in diaries. In the years 1855/56 he published three short stories about the Crimean War, which - subsequently summarized under the title Sevastopol Stories - quickly established his popularity in Russia: Sevastopol in December , Sevastopol in May and Sevastopol in August. Their significance for Russian literature lies in the fact that they replace the heroic descriptions of war that have been customary up to now with realistic and detailed descriptions of everyday war life. The Sevastopol stories , together with stories such as The Raid (1852), Holzschlag (1855) and the novel The Cossacks (1863), form a uniform group of topics in which he literarily processes the impressions of his military service.

Wyld's Great Globe ( London News 1851)

From an art-historical point of view, the Crimean War coincided with a period of massive expansion in art consumption, which began in the late 18th century, and there was increased demand for entertainment. Obviously the topic of the Crimean War had a high entertainment value, because there were big-city show performances that ranged from panorama paintings to pyrotechnic bang effects. Painters of small cabinet pictures for individual customers switched to the production of giant canvases such as panoramas and dioramas , which were enlivened by theatrical performances and could be viewed by the hour for an admission fee. The London Great Globe, for example, featured a large relief model of the siege of Sevastopol, complete with original weapons and uniforms. In addition, there were theatrical battles that were fought nightly over the mock-ups of the Sevastopol bastions in amusement parks such as Surrey and Cremorne Gardens. Months before it actually happened, the fall of Sevastopol was anticipated here as a permanent spectacle. Authenticity was attempted, among other things, by the fact that valid criminals were available - for a tip - to show themselves every evening in the Surrey Zoo. The general enthusiasm for Crimea was also reflected in the British opera program. When, for example, Gaetano Donizetti'sLa fille du régiment ” was performed in London , the leading actress had to appear on stage in a crime costume inspired by Fenton's photo documentation. In Paris, the financially lucrative staging of war played a lesser role, although occasionally recreated war theater assumed colossal dimensions here. The siege of Silistra in the Danube phase at the beginning of the campaign, for example, was staged once on the Marsfeld there with the help of a one and a half kilometer wide backdrop and entire battalions of combatants who, according to a contemporary press comment: "... massacred themselves conscientiously to the bitter end." In the Paris hippodrome , cavalry battles from the Crimean campaign were celebrated like a ballet.

Admission of Cundall to Queen Victoria's Chatham Hospital visit
Idealized representation of the care of her queen for the Crimean returnees in the hospitals

In the winter of 1854/55, when the reputation of the British aristocracy sank and the Aberdeen cabinet overturned, Queen Victoria took countermeasures such as visits to the homeland military hospitals with effective population effects. Everyone was introduced to her and not only asked about his war experiences and cheered up with words, but also photographed by Joseph Cundall . A few of these recordings reached the press and were distributed using wood engraving. These express the personal interest that the queen showed her soldiers up to the simplest corporal. On the occasion, she donated - apparently generously - prosthetic legs. Your secretary, Sir Charles Beaumont Phipps , put together an extensive album of very detailed reports. Viktoria leafed through it again and again for decades and referred to the invalids as "my nearest and dearest" in emotionally charged letters. There is, however, great distance and sobriety in the documentation she arranged, and despite all the overflow of emotions, the social distance and strangeness were preserved. The whole thing appears to be a diversionary maneuver to the failure of their army, as a result of which two out of three invalids lost their legs not to Russian fire, but to frostbite off Sevastopol. In the photos they seem to be accommodated with plenty of blankets and well taken care of, but details illustrate an artificial arrangement in the barracks yard. In an earlier series of photos, Cundall had shown the inhospitable accommodation. The later euphemisms during the visits were probably caused by complaints that the Queen had submitted to the hospital management against the inadequate accommodation of the veterans. However, the recordings do not show any family, but rather a class view of the ruler towards her subjects. Neither Victoria nor her husband Albert could directly influence the war, which would certainly have corresponded to their understanding of sovereignty. The authority of the Crown was at least sufficient for its advice to be heeded and partially adopted by the Cabinet. Victoria discovered her maternal duty of care for the army, initiated military reform and supported the reorganization of the hospital system. From that time on, she was of the opinion that the troops should remain as far as possible from the influence of the politicians. On the other hand, through the Commander-in-Chief, they would have to be in direct contact with the Sovereign. She was generally uncomfortable with war as a means of politics; where she could not prevent it, she urged an early peace. She differed from other rulers of the time in one point in particular, that of showing compassion and personal concern for her soldiers. As an outward sign of this support, Victoria first took part in a maneuver in March 1856. On June 26, 1856, on the occasion of a troop parade in Hyde Park , the Queen bestowed the first of her Victoria Crosses on Crimean veterans. "Victorian" became a seal of approval in Great Britain for the "good old days", it saved the monarchy, which was ominously unpopular after the Crimean War, among other things, with such actions.

The Crimean War left hardly a trace in the collective memory , although it was represented not only by painting and graphics, but also by the new medium of photography and in newspapers and magazines. Among other things, the passivity of the great German powers Prussia and Austria contributed to this not insignificantly. The interpretation of Crimean war photography is controversial. In contrast to the image of the conventional war of the 19th century, it has been referred to as the First Media War. The innovations in war technology were accompanied by a "media history revolution".

The emerging modern visual media used new printing techniques ( lithography ) and illustrations on the basis of photographs in order to depict war events in real-time. The Crimean War is the first photographically documented war in the history of journalism . This view of the Crimean War is controversial. In contrast to the modernity thesis, it is emphasized that the designation as modern media war is a back projection. There were only a tiny number of professional photographers traveling to the battlefield. Photo technology was in its infancy, photojournalism developed 100 years later, and the public of modern media structure was not yet developed. A media landscape that half a century later provided the collective image of the First World War did not yet exist. Public opinion in European societies was therefore hardly involved. The use of cameras did not lead to the birth of modern war reporting. The few and difficult to transport cameras were unsuitable for the purpose of reporting. Photos were taken by the photographers for political clients. Roger Fenton, the most famous of the photographers in the Crimea, put together photos into elaborate albums which he was able to show personally to the rulers in Paris and London and which he sold at high prices to the nobility and wealthy citizens. The photography has been interpreted as an aestheticization of the war, which Ulrich Keller considers the “most modern aspect of the Crimean War”. But the photography and the media of their publication did not follow the demands of the modern media society, but the entertainment business of the Belle époque with panoramas, an art exhibition in Paris (which Baudelaire commented critically negative) and revues. Susan Sontag writes that the photography portrayed the Crimean War as a worthy group of men on an outing. In contrast to the photography of later wars, and already the American Civil War, the photographic image of the Crimean War was based on the image concept of the 19th century and, in particular, on the picturesque. For a long time, this war was not only neglected by science, but also overlooked by public discourse.

After all, this war still meets with a certain amount of interest today, as in many respects it is the first “modern” war in history. The early reception as a "pointless" and "unnecessary" war in British opinion, deriving from public disappointment with poor preparation, organization and limited results, had also had a detrimental impact on historical literature. For a long time this war was neglected by science and left to the British side, which shortened it to the attack of the Light Brigade, the failures of the British military leaders and the sister Nightingale.

In memory of the Crimean War, streets were named after them, including in Dortmund and Lünen .

The Crimean War in the cartoon

" The Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in the Crimea, " Paton, January 1855

The drawing on the left by the Scottish painter Joseph Noel Paton caricatures the supply problems of the British military expedition in the Crimea in a particularly sarcastic way. Illness and hunger follow the figure of death, which, with the help of a rolled up marching order labeled " Routine ", drives the attack like a marshal's baton. Unopened boxes with “winter clothing” and “medicines” as well as components labeled “Camp Hospital” lie in the mud and rot on the battlefield. This describes the logistical chaos of the Sevastopol battle. Paton did not publish the paper, however, because he feared that it could be viewed as an attack against the Commander-in-Chief, the British Armed Forces in the Crimean War, Lord Raglan. It was the Tennyson poem yet been published in 1854 Patons intention of The Charge of the Light Brigade (The Charge of the Light Brigade) and its euphemistic to hero worship satirize .


No. Original text translation
A. How Jack made the Turk useful at Balaclava. How Jack made the Turks useful at Balaclawa.
British officer. "Holloa, Jack! What are You about now? " British officer: "Hello Jack! What are you doing there?"
Jack. "Why, yer honor - You see riding's a deal pleasanter than walking about here, and when this chap's tired - I mounts t'other cove!" Jack: "Why do you ask Your Honor, as you can see, it is much nicer to ride than to walk around here - and when this guy is tired I mount the other guy."
B. Patient heroes Patient heroes
Well, Jack! here's good news from home. We're to have a medal. "Well, Jack! Here is good news from home. We get a medal of merit. "
That's very kind. Maybe one of these days we'll have a coat to stick it on! ! "That is very nice. Maybe one day we will have a coat to attach them to! "
C. Non fare il gradasso, Nicola:
guarda nelle vecchie istorie e vedrai come abbia finito Golia.
Don't be a tyrant, Nicholas:
look into the old stories and see how Goliath ended up.
Inesperto Piemontuccio!
Ai tempi nostri abbondano gli ebrei, ma scarseggiano i Daviddi.
Inexperienced little Piedmontese!
In our time there are Jews in abundance, but Davids are in short supply.

Medical service experience

Florence Nightingale (1850s)
Polar-Area Diagram : visualization of cyclically recurring phenomena. This type is traced back to Nightingale. In 1858 she reported the connection between deaths and hygiene conditions of her queen (mortality reduced from 42% to 5%).

The Crimean War became a great experience for the military medical services of the European states. Locked in for 349 days, the Sevastopol fortress was exposed to the heaviest artillery fire every day. In August 1855, after hours of bombardment of the positions with high-explosive shells, 200 and more wounded people arrived almost daily at individual dressing stations. The opponents of the Russians in particular were confronted with epidemics . In June 1854, shortly after their landing on the Black Sea coast near Varna, the troops of the allies were hit by a cholera epidemic and thus prevented from advancing towards the Romanian Silistra. In September, troops infected with cholera were transferred to the Crimea. In underestimating the fighting to be expected in the Crimea, the high command failed to provide the expeditionary corps with the necessary equipment for setting up first aid stations and field hospitals. For months the besiegers of Sevastopol had to live in the damp, cold gorges of the south-western Crimean coast completely inadequately clothed, fed and housed, bar of sanitary and hygienic facilities. The number of those suffering and dying from dysentery , scurvy , wartime nephritis, febrile colds, frostbite and malnutrition increased steadily. Soon cholera raged, a little later typhus and dysentery also raged in the camps. The besiegers could not set up hospitals and had to bring the sick to the hospital base on the Bosporus on poorly equipped ships. It was "worse equipped than the hospital of a British poor asylum" ( The Times ).

Drawing for the miasm theory from 1831.

Cholera diseases were unknown in Europe before the beginning of the 19th century. The 1855 final proof provided by the doctor John Snow that a cholera epidemic in the London borough of Soho was connected with contaminated drinking water is considered to be the birth of modern epidemiology . Despite many new findings, the miasm theory , which can be traced back to the age of the Greeks , was still widespread until around 1860 due to a lack of knowledge about bacteria and viruses . The theory was that epidemics like cholera were caused by bad smells spread through "miasms". With a makeshift fight against alleged miasms, through cleanliness and isolation, there was definitely the possibility of epidemics, even if only very indirectly.

As in almost all wars before, more soldiers died as a result of applied therapy or epidemics than directly from combat. The statistics of the British armed forces say: 2,755 soldiers died in combat in the Crimean War, died of their injuries (more precisely: after medical care) in 1761 and the umpteen times that number with 16,297 died of diseases, among which cholera was second only to the dysentery .

While the round musket balls mostly only caused flesh wounds, as they were often only distracted by the bones, the more energetic and pointed cylindrical projectiles of the Enfield rifles and Minié rifles of the Allies usually penetrated bones without any problems. This often led to amputation and was - with the many severe injuries to the limbs - the standard therapy for war surgeons in the Crimea. On average, eighty percent of those treated in all armies died as a result. Anton Christian von Hübbenet - who himself did this hundreds of times there - explained why so many such interventions were nevertheless carried out with this low survival rate , saying that the pain was unbearable for the wounded.

Almost every second patient died in the military hospital or hospital. After all, the anesthetic chloroform was generously used on the operating table for the first time in this war to relieve pain. Behind the fame that Florence Nightingale gained in the Crimean War, the work of doctors in that military conflict has faded somewhat into the background. These, too, suffered hardship: 52 of the 720 British surgeons who worked were killed, and almost twice as many among the French allies.

Mary Seacole, 1869. Portrait of Albert Charles Challen.

The Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole (1805–1881) also remained in the shadow of Florence Nightingale . After she was rejected by the British government and Nightingale's nurses, she traveled to Balaklava at her own expense and despite all the prejudice and discrimination she encountered. There she opened the "British Hotel" in 1855 between the port and the English camp, which she operated as a restaurant and officers' club. However, the accommodation essentially formed the basis for caring for sick or wounded soldiers. It was called "Black Nightingale", which, however, contributed to the fact that its name was soon forgotten and thus largely deprived it of adequate appreciation in posterity.

Florence Nightingale's care of the medical services is of historical importance . The nurse trained in Germany had become aware of the dire situation in the war zone in Great Britain. With 38 nurses, medical equipment and medication, she traveled to the Scutari military hospital (today Selimiye barracks (Cesme-i Kebir Cad.), Üsküdar in Istanbul , Turkey , where a museum is now housed in the north-east tower that Florence Nightingale lived in). The conditions Florence Nightingale found there were catastrophic. The wounded and sick lay in poorly ventilated, rat-infested rooms with almost no hygienic facilities. Above all, she concentrated on collecting very extensive data, processing and analyzing it in order to gain insights. Questionnaires were an essential tool for her, and she also made use of existing data. These included official government reports as well as statements from British authorities. Given the conditions, she was committed to the reform of the supply and hospital system, for which she was eventually commissioned by the British government. With the introduction of simple hygiene measures, she was able to significantly reduce the mortality rate in British hospitals. A few years after the war, Florence Nightingale founded her own nursing school in London, where she made nursing a teaching profession .

In December 1854, the Russian surgeon Nikolai Pirogov began working as a military doctor in Sevastopol. He saw a "traumatic epidemic" in every war. As with large epidemics, there is a lack of helping hands and even more of a thinking mind in war. Among other things, he introduced plaster casts to stabilize broken bones in surgery and developed the heel-conserving Pirogoff amputation of the foot. He also used anesthesia for the first time as a standard treatment for operations in the field. The graduated treatment of a large number of wounded, which is now known as triage, and is divided into five degrees of severity, also goes back to him. He also attached great importance to the training of nurses and, similar to the work of Florence Nightingale, campaigned for the formation of organized volunteer corps of nurses. When he described the rectal anesthesia he performed with ether as early as 1847 , he was way ahead of his time. His diary-like letters from Sevastopol (1854–1855) were also published in Germany.

Hübbenet (Gjubenet), professor of medicine at the University of Kiev , published the reports of his activities in Crimea as early as 1870 (printed in German in 1871). He wrote that one eighth of 2,839 Russian doctors died there, but only five of them from war injuries. Of the 3,759 auxiliary surgeons, almost half died or became incapacitated during the war.

At the very end of the preface to his book on the medical conditions in the Crimean War, Hübbenet writes: “... it may take even greater courage to uncover the wounds of society in order to heal them. Withholding the truth means hiding the evil and the wounds without healing them. The secret ravages of this silence are all the more dangerous as they all break open at the same time, namely when it is too late to remedy them! "

Transport of the sick and injured in the Crimean War

War victims

Balaklava, tombs at the harbor. Very few victims were buried, most were buried on site or given to the Black Sea.

There is very different information about the losses in the Crimean War.

“After the war, the historians and statisticians had the floor. As always, the numbers of victims were grossly exaggerated. There was talk of 100,000, 500,000, even 600,000 dead. There remained 165,000 victims, 104,000 of whom died not at the front, but from disease and disease: 50,000 French (out of 70,000 dead), 17,000 British (out of 22,000 dead), 37,500 Russians (out of 73,000 dead). "

Russian historians have corrected the losses significantly downwards over time. Orlando Figes believes the most accurate estimate by the War Department is that 450,015 Russian soldiers perished during the war. Despite the differences in the numbers, historians agree on two points: The Russians suffered the heaviest losses of all those involved in the war. The majority of the victims did not die in combat operations, but rather from a lack of care in general (water, food shortages, freezing) and deficiencies in medical care in particular (epidemics, wound infections). Around a third of the French and a fifth of the British forces did not return home. For example, in the parishes of Whitegate, Aghada and Farsid in County Cork, Ireland , where the British Army recruited large numbers of soldiers, nearly a third of the Crimean male population died.

The fallen on the Russian side include many soldiers from their fellow believers from Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. Nobody counted the civilian casualties. Many fell victim to bombings, hunger and diseases, epidemics and epidemics caused by the armed forces among the population. There were also casualties from massacres and organized ethnic persecution that accompanied the fighting in the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Crimea. In this context, there is talk of a first "total war", which for the first time also made extensive use of social resources, in particular for an already partially industrialized warfare.


Crimean Anglican Memorial Church in Istanbul

The south of the Crimean peninsula - with the port city of Sevastopol - is geographically located in one of the most beautiful regions in Europe. Wine is grown in the Mediterranean climate and many fruits only thrive here in the Russian Empire. Here the tsarist family and Russian nobility took cure in magnificent villas.

After the Crimean War, more and more Crimean Tatars emigrated to the Ottoman Empire, and from 1860 onwards more and more Russian and Ukrainian settlers poured into the country. As a result, the Muslim proportion of the population in Crimea fell. In 1885 there were only a good 100,000 Tatars of around one million inhabitants .

In 1855 “The Alliance quadrille ”, composed by August Manns , was performed at the Crystal Palace . The Anglican Church built the Crimean Memorial Church in Istanbul in 1860 .

The towers built in the Ruhr area for coal mining in the following years were named Malakow Tower after the towers of Fort Malakow near Sevastopol, around which the decisive battle of the Crimean War revolved. This name was chosen for the towers because of their massive brick construction and their architectural elements borrowed from fortress construction. The same is true of a tower that survived the razing of the fortress of Luxembourg , also known as the “Gibraltar of the North”. It is located in Clausen, a suburb of Luxembourg City, not far from the Alzette River near the area that houses the Mansfeld Castle, which today only has its foundations.

The French and British expedition fleets were hit hard by a storm. As a result of this event, the first state weather services were established.

According to legend, when the peace agreement between Great Britain and Russia, unlike the declaration of war, was forgotten to include the city ​​of Berwick-upon-Tweed , which had a special position in Great Britain, in the peace treaty. As a result, Berwick-upon-Tweed was formally at war with Russia for 113 years. In 1966 a Soviet envoy visited Mayor Robert Knox and signed a formal peace treaty with him. The mayor, however, with regard to international relations is not the legal successor of Queen Victoria , strictly speaking, so that the peace treaty is ineffective. However, a British television station was able to prove as early as the 1970s that Berwick was not on the declaration of war on Russia and exposed the "state of war" as a modern myth.

In the novels of the Welsh author Jasper Fforde about the protagonist Thursday Next , Great Britain has been waging the Crimean War against the still tsarist Russia for more than 100 years .

On board the HMS Queen , the British naval mascot Timothy the Tortoise took part in the bombing of Sevastopol. This means that the Moorish tortoise, who died on April 4, 2004, was the last survivor of the Crimean War.

The climatic conditions of the Russian winter left in English etymological traces of various types of knitwear : The name for balaclavas ( balaclava or balaclava helmet ) comes from lying on the theater of war place Balaklava. The cardigan cardigan was named after the Earl of Cardigan, and the raglan sleeves after Lord Raglan . Later these terms spread to other languages.

Chronological overview

French Zouaves and Russian soldiers in action in the storming of the Malakov fortification
  • July 3, 1853: occupation of the Danube principalities by Russian troops.
  • October 16, 1853: Declaration of war by the Ottoman Empire on Russia.
  • March 27 and 28, 1854: Declarations of war by Great Britain and France against Russia.
  • April 20, 1854: Defensive alliance between Prussia and Austria for the duration of the Crimean War.
  • From the end of July to September 1854: evacuation of the Danube principalities by Russia under Austrian pressure.
  • August 16, 1854: Temporary occupation of the Russian fortress Bomarsund on Åland in the Baltic Sea by British-French naval forces.
  • September 14, 1854: Landing of the Allies on the Crimean peninsula.
  • September 20, 1854: Battle of the Alma .
  • October 25, 1854: In the Battle of Balaklava it comes to the death ride of the Light Brigade .
  • November 5, 1854: The Russian defeat is repulsed at the Battle of Inkerman .
  • December 2, 1854: December alliance of Vienna between Great Britain, France and Austria against Russia.
  • January 16, 1855: Sardinia enters the war on the side of the Allies.
  • May 22, 1855: Unsuccessful war expedition by units of the British and French naval fleets into the Sea of ​​Azov .
  • September 8, 1855: Military decision to go to war through the Allied conquest of Sevastopol after a siege of 349 days ( Battle of Malakow ).
  • November 29, 1855: The Kars fortress is captured by the Russians.
  • March 30, 1856: Official end of the Crimean War in the Third Peace of Paris , signed by the representatives of the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Sardinia, France, Great Britain, Austria and Prussia. Return of the occupied territories by Russia. Except for the surrender of Bessarabia, however, the territory of Russia remains untouched. The integrity of the Ottoman Empire is guaranteed. The Black Sea is being demilitarized.



  • The Crimean War: A Clash of Empires. Documentary , USA 1996, director: Thomas Vaughan, 180 min.
  • The Crimean War. Three-part documentary, GB 1997, director: Mick Gold, a total of 150 min.
  • Crimean War - A Most Desperate Undertaking. Documentary, GB 2003, author: Toby Groom, 47 min.
  • The attack of the light brigade . Feature film , GB 1968, director: Tony Richardson , 139 min.

Web links

Commons : Crimean War  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Crimean War  - Sources and Full Texts
Wiktionary: Crimean War  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on September 13, 2006 .