In terms of politics, the bloody and wasteful Crimean War achieved little, but at least it helped give the British public a healthy distaste for warfare, which through mass-produced newspapers they now experienced at close quarters for the first time.
ON 31st May, 1853, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia dispatched troops to Moldavia and Wallachia, long a matter of dispute with the Ottoman Empire, ostensibly to bolster Orthodox Christians there.*
After the Russians sank Turkish ships at Sinope on the Black Sea, Britain, Austria and France, fearing Russian expansion into the West, declared war on 28th March, 1854.
That September, British soldiers reached the Crimea and laid siege to the port of Sebastopol.
A Russian relief force was rebuffed at Balaclava, but at enormous cost, including a suicidal charge by the Light Brigade later immortalised by poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Back home, the public learnt of the horrors of Balaclava and then Inkerman through the first ever ‘war correspondent’ embedded with the troops, W. H. Russell of the Times, and through the spotlight that nurse Florence Nightingale turned onto the miserable field hospitals.
The outcry cost Prime Minister Lord Aberdeen his position, and the opposing sides made peace at Paris on 30th March, 1856.
* Under Ottoman rule since 1417, after the war Wallachia and Moldavia united to become Romania in 1866, and then the Kingdom of Romania in 1881.