Russia was a behemoth, a power just by virtue of its immense size, its immense army and the one seventh of the surface of the Earth it had purview over. While Russians battled over whether Russia would be a Tsarist monarchy or a Republic, or a Marxist state, the Tsar was land grabbing. In the early 1850’s Russia made an unannounced false flag invasion of the Crimean Peninsula all ostensibly to protect the sovereignty of the Coptic Christians. Of course Russia was scaring the hell out of Western imperialist powers. France, and England were both so unnerved, that for the first time in centuries, Napoleon III urged Lord Ragland to enter into a truce, and both forces fought on the same side. This is the law of unintended consequences. Not only did the West come to the aid of the Ottoman Turks, but they did so following a prediction by the Tsar that no Western nation would ever send an expeditionary force to defend a Muslim nation.
In October 1854, French English and Turkish troops landed on the shores of the decaying Ottoman Empire. Their fears were fueled by a millennium of invasions and military ruses and iniquitous deals designed to subjugate neighbors. If the Russians had access to the Crimean and the Black Sea in general, then next would come the grand prize of all time: Instanbul, formerly Constantinople. Once there, the Western powers would be challenged by the imperial ambitions of Nicholas I and would soon be defending some clod of European or central Asia turf from the Russians. To England, it was worth the effort. Once the Tsar had control of the Bosporus, he would have a tremendous tactical advantage in resupplying troops in the north of Europe.
The English who occupied Turkey and who often themselves were poor were still amazed at the widespread poverty, and how sometimes it was hard to separate the upper crust from the ruck. The Turks would be easy to usurp , or so thought the English, and then by right of might the Allied Western nations would rule the Bosporus. On November 30th, 1853, six Russia ships of the line, two frigates and three steamers cornered fourteen Turkish ships in a bay at Sinope in the Black Sea. Without mercy, the Russians destroyed each ship even though resistance had ended hours before the very end. The casus belli had been served up.
Afterwards, the Russians under Admiral Nakhimov systematically hammered shore batteries trying to aid the Ottoman fleet. The armored Russian ships made short work of the wooden Turkish ships and the military world took notice that the Sinope battle was the end of the wooden battleship. Britain’s mostly wooden fleet even came into question.
It was during the Crimean War that Florence Nightingale earned her angle wings. Here she made sure beds were clean and bandages were changed and fleas were shooed away. Few can even talk about the Crimean War it ranks as one of the largest in history and it ended six short years later with over a million total casualties.
The Charge of the Light Brigade