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Book Review - The Crimean War - By Orlando Figes - The New York Times

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Why the Crimean War Matters

Inkerman The Soldiers' Battle Campaign. Patrick Mercer. Publisher: Osprey Publishing , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:.

Inkerman 1854: The Soldiers' Battle

In the Battle of Alma River that followed an Anglo- French force made a frontal attack on the Russian lines, whilst the Turks and the remainder of the French executed a wide flanking movement and took the enemy by surprise. As a result the Russians pulled back their artillery and, coming under further attacks, were forced to fall back on Sevastopol. Total losses amounted to 9,, two- thirds of which were suffered by the Russians. Because of the lack of transport, much equipment, including tents and clothing, had to be left at Eupatoria, the port of embarkation, whilst in the battle itself, confused orders almost ended in disaster for the British during their frontal attack.

Furthermore, because of disagreements between the impetuous Lord Raglan and the more cautious Saint Arnaud, the allied forces failed to pursue the Russians from the battlefield and capture Sevastopol with comparative ease.

As a result, by the time the allies reached the city, its defences had been strengthened and they were obliged to lay a siege. This lasted close on a year, during which time the besieging forces were subject to a number of costly attacks.

He saved many lives while serving in the Crimean War regardless of their nationality. The conflict which followed - the famous Battle of Balaclava - was fought in two valleys divided by a range of low hills.

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As they retreated they began to take with them guns which had been abandoned by the Turks in their earlier engagement. Totally misunderstanding what was, in itself, a vague despatch, Lucan ordered the Earl of Cardigan , commander of the Light Brigade, to attack the Russian guns entrenched a mile or so at the head of the North Valley. Casualties were understandably heavy. Of the men who took part in the charge, were either killed or wounded, 45 were taken prisoner, and horses never returned.

But at the end of the day the Russians were left in charge of the battlefield, and the British had lost thereby their major supply route from Balaclava to the heights above Sevastopol. Two verses are quoted below:. On his return he was feted as a hero, but he was later obliged to refute allegations that he had fled from the field. Yet another Russian attempt to relieve the siege of Sevastopol, it proved unsuccessful, but both sides suffered heavy loses. The major event of the battle was the Russian attack upon the Inkerman Ridge on November 5th.

Under cover of fog the Russians managed to reach the British lines and seize the height, but their artillery was hampered by the thick mist, and they lost their position following a British counterattack. In , as we shall see, this brought even greater hardship, death and disease to the poorly fed and badly clothed army which continued to lay siege to Sevastopol until the September.

And it was on the very day that the Battle of Inkerman was fought that the English nurse Florence Nightingale arrived to take charge of the nursing in the barrack hospital at Scutari, near Constantinople, an event which was to introduce new standards in the care of the sick and wounded. The prints they produced in the back of a horse- drawn van made up the first photographic documentary of a war.

However, they portrayed the conflict in a favourable light, and showed nothing of the hardships and suffering endured by the fighting men.


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  • Indeed, Fenton was specifically sent to the Crimea in order to counter the severe criticism of the campaign contained in the dispatches of William Howard Russell, the war correspondent for The Times.