The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861 - Vol. 3

The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861 - Vol. 3

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The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861 - Vol. 3

The Letters of Queen Victoria: A Selection from Her Majesty's Correspondence between the Years 1837 and 1861 - Vol. 3

Read FREE!

Excerpt

At the meeting of Parliament, on the 31st of January 1854, the Ministry were able triumphantly to refute the charge of illegitimate interference in State affairs which had been made by a section of the Press against Prince Albert; they were, however, severely attacked for not acting with greater vigour in Eastern affairs. In February, the Russian Ambassador left London, the Guards were despatched to the East, and the Russian Government was peremptorily called upon by Great Britain and France to evacuate the Principalities. The Peace Party, Bright, Cobden, and others, were active, but unheeded; the Society of Friends sending a pacific but futile deputation to the Czar. In March, the demand for evacuation being disregarded, war was declared, and a treaty of alliance signed between England and France; Lord Raglan and Marshal St Arnaud were appointed to command the respective armies, Vice-Admiral Sir James Dundas and Sir Charles Napier having command of the Mediterranean and Baltic Fleets respectively. The attitude of Austria was ambiguous, and, after England and France were committed to war, she contracted an offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia, each country engaging to make limited preparations for war. At home, with a view to greater efficiency, the duties of the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, till then united in a single Secretaryship, were divided, the Duke of Newcastle assuming the former office, while Sir George Grey became Colonial Secretary; Lord John Russell also resumed office as President of the Council. The Russians were unsuccessful in their operations against the Turks, notably at Silistria and Giurgevo, while, as the summer advanced, public opinion in support of an invasion of the Crimea rose steadily, the Times indicated the taking of Sebastopol as indispensable, and Lord Aberdeen's hand was forced. On the 28th of June, the Cabinet sanctioned a despatch to Lord Raglan, urging (almost to the point of directing) an immediate attack upon Sebastopol; the French Emperor was in favour of the plan, though both Commanders-in-Chief entertained doubt as to whether it was immediately feasible. On the 7th of September, the allied forces (58,000 strong) sailed from Varna, a landing being effected a few days later at Old Fort, near Eupatoria; at about the same time an important interview took place at Boulogne between Prince Albert and the Emperor Napoleon. The signal victory at the Alma, on the 20th of September, was followed by the death of St Arnaud, and the appointment of Canrobert as his suc-

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