The Crimean War actually began in the Balkans, as did World War I. Fighting began when the Russians insisted on protecting the rights of Orthodox Christians in the Balkan territories of the Ottoman Empire. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia demanded the right to protect Christian shrines in Jerusalem . Palestine at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Russians delivered an ultimatum to the Ottoman Sultan (May 1853). The Sultan rejected the Russian demands and was supported by the British. The Russians launched military operations by launching an offensive into the Ottoman-controlled Balkans. The Allied (British and French) military effort was the war unfolded was largely conducted on the Crimean Peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Units of Sardinia-Piedmont (the soon to be Kingdom of Italy) etered the War (January 1855). The siege of Sevastopol was finally ended when the French assaulted and seized the Malakhov fortress (September 8, 1855), a key strongpoint in the Russian defenses. The Russians 3 days later the Russians codeeded defeat (September 11). They blew up the forts, sank their ships, and evacuated Sevastopol. Some minor Allied operations were conducted in the Caucasus and in the Baltic Sea. Russia finally sued for peace after Austria threatened to join the Allies.
Fighting began when the Russians insisted on protecting the rights of Orthodox Christians subjects of the Ottoman Sultan. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia demanded the right to protect Christian shrines in Jerusalem . Palestine at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire. The Russians delivered an ultimatum to the Ottoman Sultan (May 1853). The Sultan rejected the Russian demands in part because the British supported him. The Russians began military operations by launching an offensive into the Ottoman-controlled Balkans. The Balkans had a largely Christian populatiion and was becoming increasinly restive with the Balkan populaion incresingly insisting on independence. The Russians occupied Danubian principalities (area of modern Romania) on the Russo-Turkish border (July 1853). The British were concerned about expading Russian power and te possibility that Russia could makre major territorial gains. The British fleet was ordered to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) (September 23). Bolstered by the British fleet, the Ottomans declared war on Russia (October 4) and proceeded to launch an offensive in the Danubian principalities. The Russian Black Sea fleet attacked and destroyed a Turkish squadron at Sinope. The Ottomans launched a counter-offensive against the Russians in the Danubian principalities.
The British fleet bolstered with French elements entered the Black Sea (January 3, 1854), primarily to protect Turkish transports supporting their offensive in the Danubian principalities. Britain and France formally declared war on Russia (March 28). Russia evacuated the Danubian principalities it had seized in the first stages of the War to placate Austria which threatened to enter the War on the Allied side. Austria was critical because unlike the British and French who were deploying an expeditionary force, Austria which bordered Russia could have brought the full weight of its substantial army to bear against the Russians. Thus the Russians decided to placate the Austrians. Austria then moved into and occupied the Danubian principalities (August 1854). While avoiding war, the Russians were embittered. The Russians abnd Austrians had been allies in the Napoleonic Wars. And just a few years earklier (1848-49) they had intervened to save the Austrian Empire which was desitegrating as a result of the Revolutions of 1848. Russian-Austrian relations would never be the same. The Allies (Britain and France) commenced landing troops in the Crimean Peninsula (September 1854). The Crimean was chosen because the Russian fortress of Sevastopol was the primary Russian stronghold in the Black Sea and their principal naval base. Without Sevastopol, Russia would have difficuty projecting naval power against the Ottomans. In addition, the Crimea as a peninsula distant from the Russian heartland was the most area most vulnerable to Allied attack with their superior naval forces. The Allies initiated a siege of the Russian fortress at Sevastopol which lasted more than a year. British commander Fitzroy Raglan commanded 20,000 troops and French commander Matshal Armand Saint-Arnaud commanded 50,000 troops. There were important battles after the Allied landings at the Alma River (September 20), at Balaklava (October 25), and Inkerman (November 5). Losses required the landings of additional men. After these engagements the War turned into a protracted investment and siege of Sevastopol. One wonders why the Allies carried out their landings so late in the year. The result was that soon after the landings, the men were exposed to the extremes of the Russian winter for which they were not prepared. The severity of the winter weather precluded major offensive operations by the Allies and the troops suffered greviously.
The Allies were bolstered with additional forces when Sardinia-Piedmont (Italians) entered the war (January 26, 1855). The Italian envolvement had more to do with the upcoming unification of Italy than real concern over Russian expansionism.
Tey contributed 10,000 troops to the alliance. The Allies resumed offensive operations under new commannders after the Spring thaw (April). A Russian relief army was turned back at Tchernaya (August 16). The siege was finally ended when the French assaulted and seized the Malakhov (September 8), a key strongpoint in the Russian defenses. The Russians 3 days later the Russians codeeded defeat (September 11). They blew up the forts, sank their ships, and evacuated Sevastopol. Some minor Allied operations were conducted in the Caucasus and in the Baltic Sea. Russia finally sued for peace after Austria threatened to join the Allies.
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