Context: Until the middle of 19th century Russia has extended to the Black Sea, but Crimeea was still inhabited by tartars, and they was subjects of Turks.
The Crimean War.—War now began and the Turks, who when aroused are brave soldiers, defeated the Russians near the Danube. France and England, in 1854, came to the aid of the Turks, for England feared Russia’s influence in Asia, and the Emperor Napoleon thought a successful war would make the French forget the loss of their freedom. England had not taken part in a great war for nearly forty years, and she was wholly unprepared for such a conflict as she was now entering upon. Lord Aberdeen, the Prime Minister, was a lover of peace, and not fitted to manage affairs at such a time. The chief seat of the war was the Crimea, on the Black Sea, although the Baltic, the White Sea, and Russian Armenia were the scenes of strife. Kars, a fortress in Armenia, was bravely defended by the Turks under General Williams (afterwards the commander of the British troops in Canada), but at last surrendered with honorable terms near the close of the war.
It was the beginning of September when the Allies reached the Crimea, and not long after, September 20, they defeated the Russians at the River Alma. The Russians now retreated to Sebastopol, a strong fortress in the Crimea, and the delay of the Allies gave them time to strengthen its defences. The French were commanded by Marshal St. Arnaud, and the English by Lord Raglan. Both commanders died before the war ended, and were replaced by General Pélissier and General Simpson. The siege of Sebastopol began, but it was found that the Russian engineer, Todleben, had done his work well, and the Allies were for nearly a year held at bay. At times the Russians strove to drive the Allies back, and at Balaclava a fierce contest took place, which served to bring out the heroic qualities of the British soldier. Lord Cardigan, the commander of the Light Brigade, was ordered to charge the enemy and retake some guns which had fallen into their hands, but he mistook the order, and, instead, commanded his men to charge the main body of the Russian army. His men knew it was almost certain death, but not a man hesitated. Six hundred men rode head-long into the midst of the Russian army, cutting down the Russian gunners on their way, and then rode back amid a deadly hail from Russian muskets and artillery. Six hundred went into that “valley of death,” less than two hundred returned to the ranks of the British army. This was on the 25th October, and on the 5th November a bloody battle was fought at Inkermann, in which the British private showed that his intelligence was more than a match for the brute force of the brave but ignorant Russian soldiery.
The siege of Sebastopol went on throughout the winter in spite of the terrible sufferings of the British soldiers. Mismanagement at home and in the Crimea left the soldiers without proper clothing shelter, and food. Shiploads of food were sent, which never reached the men. A cargo of boots did reach the half-shod men, but the boots were found to be all for one foot. These are but illustrations of the management of the war. The soldiers fell sick and could not be properly nursed and cared for. The result was that many died whose lives might have been saved under proper care. At last, Miss Florence Nightingale and a band of devoted women went out to nurse the sick and wounded. Very soon there was a marked change for the better in the condition of the patients, and from that time the value of women in army hospitals has been fully recognized. As time passed the war was better managed; there was less sickness among the soldiers, and better means were found of providing them with the necessary food, clothing, and shelter. In England, the discontent with the way things were going on led to Lord Aberdeen resigning, and to Lord Palmerston becoming Prime Minister. The siege of Sebastopol still went on, and at length attempts were made to carry it by storm. The first assault failed; the second was more successful. The French carried the Malakoff Tower, and although the English were repulsed at the Redan, the Russians blew up the forts, and left Sebastopol to the Allies, September, 1855. Soon after, in March, 1856, peace was made, and Russia, in the Treaty of Paris, agreed not to rebuild the fortifications of Sebastopol, and not to keep a fleet on the Black Sea.