Mrs. Duberly's War: Journal and Letters from the Crimea, 1854-6

By Frances Isabella Duberly; Christine Kelly | Go to book overview

APPENDIX I
How the War Began

In 1854 the lands surrounding the Black Sea were dominated by the empires of Turkey and Russia. The Ottoman [Turkish] empire stretched from the Adriatic to the Persian Gulf, encompassing the southern shore of the Black Sea and extending on the west to the principalities north of the Danube. But the Turkish borders were fragile. Memorably described as 'the sick man of Europe' by the autocratic Tsar Nicholas I, Turkey was a constant temptation to Russian imperial ambitions. In 1828, the Russians had crossed the Danube into the Balkans and fought their way south. Nicholas, as champion of the Greek Orthodox religion, claimed he was guaranteeing the rights of the fourteen thousand Christians living under Turkish rule but it became clear that his aim was to seize Constantinople, which controlled entry to and from the Mediterranean. His armies were alarmingly close to their goal before intense international diplomatic pressure forced them to stop and withdraw.

However, if Russia was to survive as a world power, unimpeded entry to the Mediterranean was vital. Every winter her northern fleet was frozen into the Baltic ports, leaving her reliant on the ships based at the newly built warm water dockyards at Sebastopol. Control of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles therefore remained of vital concern. In 1833 Turkey agreed to close the Straits to foreign warships at Russia's request. Nine years later her exclusive control was removed when it was agreed that the Straits would be closed to all warships in peacetime. Thus the Russian fleet remained locked into the Black Sea, separated from those of the other European powers by the Sea of Marmara.

But the threat remained. Even though Nicholas might protest to Prince Albert that he did not want an inch of Turkish soil, Russia's designs were clear and her growing naval power and the campaigns in Asia Minor (always a potential threat to the northwest frontier of India), alarmed Britain. The Eastern Question loomed large in political debates, fuelled by fears that the perhaps imminent seizure of Turkish territory by Russia would upset the fragile balance of power in Europe. In addition, liberal opinion was outraged when Nicholas gave military help to Franz-Josef, Emperor of Austria, in crushing the uprising by Hungarian nationalists in 1848-9.

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Mrs. Duberly's War: Journal and Letters from the Crimea, 1854-6
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Maps and Illustrations ix
  • Notes on Endpapers x
  • Chapter 1 - The Voyage 1
  • Chapter 2 - Embarkation and Encampment at Varna 17
  • Chapter 3 - The Expedition to the Crimea 54
  • Chapter 4 - Balaklava October-November 1854 75
  • Chapter 5 - Balaklava December 1854– March 1855 113
  • Chapter 6 - The Camp 154
  • Chapter 7 - The Fall of Sebastopol 200
  • Notes and Commentary 263
  • Biographical Notes 307
  • Appendix I - How the War Began 327
  • Appendix 2 - The Battle of Balaklava 334
  • Books Referred to and Further Reading 343
  • Acknowledgements 345
  • Index 347
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