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Chapters 1-27 Contents
This history could not have been written without patient guidance from colleagues and friends from the Crimean War Research Society, whose help has been invaluable in gently steering my opinions away from rasher judgements towards more viable and sustainable conclusions.
The late Mr Ken Horton of the Crimean War Research Society, who sadly passed away suddenly several years ago, guided me through my apprenticeship into the major aspects of the war, in particular providing me with an authoritative background to the medical scene, born of his exhaustive research. Major Colin Robins has been my oracle on artillery matters, Mr Bill Curtis on the technical aspects of all manner of weaponry. I have a particular affinity with Mr Tony Margrave whose interest in the French forces is equal to my own, but whose depth of knowledge well exceeds mine. Whenever I have been faced with a problem all these Gentlemen have freely given me their time and the benefit of their expertise and I am indebted to them.
I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Dr. Douglas Austin for his detailed examination of my chapter on the Battle of Balaklava. Thanks to his help I was able to correct and enhance my version of events, and to highlight and discuss a few unresolved aspects of the Battle where we amicably agree to differ in our interpretations.
I laughingly gave Mr Herman Van Meir the task of producing a series of articles on the Sardinians for me, little expecting that he would take me up and produce such a detailed account, taken from various sources written in the original Italian. They form the unique basis for my account of their participation in the war — without Herman, the coverage of their activities would have been as scanty as in other histories of the war.
I am never happier when visiting London than when I have time to head for that island of tranquility, the Reading Room of the National Army Museum, to sit down with a pile of letters written by some articulate young officer such as Lt Earle. The warm welcome and ready smiles from the staff really do help when the missing link to prove a pet theory remains elusive! A glance at the Sources section will show that Alastair Massie's The National Army Museum Book of the Crimean War — The Untold Stories figures largely — a treasure of first–hand quotes which represent many hours of research by Alastair and which I have shamelessly plundered.
To mention one more favourite book, I am indebted to Mr Michael Hargreave Mawson for having assembled the Crimean War Letters of Lt Col George Frederick Dallas (Eyewitness in the Crimea). Had I been present in the Crimea with him as a young Captain, I am sure that I would have shared his opinions and attitudes, and I would have hugely enjoyed a yarn over a bottle of wine.
Without the guiding hand of Mr Tom Muir, the webmaster of the Crimean War Research Society, my work would never have seen the light of day. Tom's patient explanations showed not the slightest sign of the exasperation that my ignorance of the most basic web–wisdom must surely have engendered, and I am most grateful for his generous helpings of advice and time which he freely offered me.
Finally, a salute to the patience and encouragement of my wife Françoise, who has borne my monkish isolation between meals for so long with the sometimes faltering hope that it would all be over one day. Well it is now!

Viewed through 21st Century eyes, the Crimean War seems remote indeed. For the English-speaking world, it commonly translates into dramatic but sparse images of the dashing but foolhardy Charge of the Light Brigade, following which the few survivors lay on straw in a makeshift hospital, to gaze with admiration at Florence Nightingale as she made her nightly rounds by lamplight. It is seen as a war won by Britain, with some French participation. For the French, it means little more than a few street names in major cities. The Turks show similar disinterest in the decades of decay leading to the break-up of the Pre-Attaturk Ottoman Empire. The Russians encapsulate the war as a heroic defence of Sevastopol, in tandem with their defence of the same city during World War 2. The Italians recognise their modest participation as an early small step on the way to creating their nation.
These are generalities of course, but they do accurately reflect widespread dismissal of the war as insignificant in the 19th Century history of the combatants. This view is fuelled by the oft accepted political wisdom that the war started almost by accident, was unspectacular in its conduct, and drifted to a close in a peace treaty which achieved nothing. Perception of the scale of the hostilities has also shrunk with age, by comparison with the global bloodbaths of the 20th Century.
Such views however are misguided. The war had considerable evolutionary importance, witnessing the birth of modern warfare. The rifled barrels of the Minie rifles increased effective small arms killing ranges out as far as 800 metres, compared to the 100 metres of the muskets of the previous era. Rifling also increased artillery ranges, and the advent of the percussion fuse gave much improved reliability and killing power to cannon shells. That these significant developments did not immediately see off the millennia-old tactic of mass advance in close column owed something to the slow rates of fire of the muzzle-loaded weapons. It also owed much to the actions of the commanders. Mainly of well-advanced years, their tactical thinking was firmly imbedded in the tenets of Frederick the Great, Napoleon and Wellington. The Siege of Sevastopol previsaged the 1914-18 War on the western front; static trench warfare across a narrow no-mans-land; week-long artillery barrages prior to mass infantry assaults; allied operations badly coordinated due to muddled planning and communication failures. The results in terms of fruitless slaughter and failure to achieve objectives were an accurate prediction of what was to come, but the lessons, though obvious enough, went unheeded.
For the participating Navies the lessons were too obvious to go unheeded. The first use in anger of exploding shells in the Battle of Sinope demonstrated their devastating effect against wooden-hulled sailing ships. Throughout the war their imminent demise was underlined by the demonstrated superior speed and manoevrability of steam-powered vessels in all weathers, and the first appearance of ironclad gunboats, invulnerable at that time. Entire national battle fleets had been shown to be obsolete in the space of a few limited actions.
Some other lessons were learnt, at least by the British. For the first (and I suspect the last) time, a war correspondent was allowed free rein to roam the camps at will, and to send uncensored despatches to a London newspaper. That the correspondent was William Russell and the newspaper the London Times was unfortunate for the military authorities. Especially in the months of the appalling privations and hardships suffered by the soldiery during the winter of 1854-55, Russell's graphic despatches ruthlessly depicted the plight of the army and exposed the shortcomings of the military administration to an indignant British public. They brought down a government, and in the years that followed the war, a series of reforms were passed which modernised the Army and recognised that the soldier had the right to be well fed, well quartered, well clothed, and well led. Florence Nightingale, whose responsibilities at the Scutari base hospitals had encompassed administration and welfare - the latter the reason for her nightly progress around the wards - had pofited from the press exposure she received and used her influence after the war to induce the government to establish an effective system of hygiene and medical care for the military, as well as her well-publicised reforms in the civilian hospital field.
There were other 'firsts' for the war. The first photographs taken in a war zone - not action pictures, alas, as the long exposure times did not allow them, but the somewhat strangulated posed portraits of military individuals and groups, and the landscapes, pictures of the camps and Balaklava harbour, and shots of the redoubts and Sevastopol Town abandoned by the Russians, brng the war to life for us. The direct telegraph link with London and Paris gave the politicians and French Emperor Napoleon III virtual instant access to the military commanders, and made their lives a misery.
Hopefully this background is tantalising enough to tempt the reader to test the water and ultimately to plunge into the almost 700 pages that it has taken me to give my version on the story of the war. This is not I trust because I have used ten words when a couple would suffice, but rather, freed from the tyranny of having to pack the writing between two covers on a shelf, because I have attempted to include subjects and interesting detail which do not appear in standard length histories. I have also afforded more extensive coverage to French participation than in standard English language histories.
In an attempt to gild the pill, I have broken the text down into easily digestible bites, with frequent paragraph headings, and the chapter contents lists are reasonably comprehensive in the old style. To promote a wider perception of simultaneous events, where possible I have dealt with different aspects in the same chapter - in some cases however the demands of continuity have outweighed those of conformity to a strict time frame across the board.
Where I have felt prior knowledge of an individual person or subject essential to obtain full value from an understanding of the motivation for subsequent events, I have included specific biographical or explanatory detail inserted into the narrative. The boundaries of these asides are well delineated, and can be bypassed to taste, without disruption to the narrative.
I have not set out to create a work of reference. There are no footnotes or numbers relating to reference material to interrupt the text. All direct quotes from individuals are credited with their originators name alongside them. Under 'sources' listed at the end of the last chapter I have attempted to provide a comprehensive list of the source material which I have consulted in arriving at my best assessment of an accurate depiction of events. No source is related to a single statement as this is not the way I work. To enable the reader to follow in my footsteps every source is listed in full in every chapter, with no ibids, so that each list of sources can be downloaded separately for each chapter if so required.
The progress of the war invites many different moods which my changes in style have attempted to emulate. I appreciate that these are individual interpretations and where I have failed to be more than trite, or even irritating, I humbly apologise.
  John Barham April 2014  

Chapters 1-27 Contents