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Excursions

Charge of the Light Brigade

Balaclava Battlefield Charge Brigade

THE CAUSES OF THE CRIMEAN WAR

 

The Crimean War of 1854-56 resulted from imperial Russia's attempts to gain unfettered access to the Mediterranean. It lost the war, but within 20 years was breathing down the back of the Balkans again. Russia initially wanted control over parts of the decaying Ottoman Empire (particularly Moldavia and Walachia) to secure a route from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Britain and France opposed the move as it was a threat to their routes to India and their North African colonies. The first skirmishes were in Turkey in 1853, from which the Russians quickly withdrew. However, the allies were now fired up and joined the Turks in sending a punitive invasion force to Crimea the following year. The fighting centred on Sevastopol, Russia's main Black Sea port, which the allies surrounded for 349 days. Each side lost an estimated 250,000 during the war. Many allied soldiers died from disease, bad hospitals and poor supplies, all conditions to which British nurse Florence Nightingale drew attention.