The Crimean War – 1853-1856
THE greatest war in which Great Britain has been engaged since Waterloo was the Crimean War, which arose chiefly from the following causes. Centuries ago a fierce and warlike people called the Turks had crossed from Asia into the land which we call Turkey. They conquered the Christian peoples there, and were for a long time the terror of Europe. Gradually their power waned, and in the early years of this century they were twice conquered by the Russians. Russia hated the Turks because they were Mohammedans, and oppressed the Christian peoples of Turkey, who were of the same religion as the Russians. In 1853 the powerful Czar of Russia claimed the right to interfere between Turkey and her Christian subjects; and when Turkey refused to grant his claim, he sent troops into her territory. France and England began to take sides with Turkey, because they did not want Russia to become master of the Turkish lands. In 1854 they declared war against Russia, and sent out great fleets and armies to Varna, a Turkish port on the Black Sea. But the Turks had already beaten the Russians on the Danube, and had caused them to withdraw from Turkish territory.
The allies were not satisfied with this, but said that the time had come to prevent Russia from becoming mistress of the Black Sea. So the English and French forces were landed in the Crimea, in order that they might destroy the great Russian port and fortress, Sevastopol. The allies marched to the south of the city, so as to get supplies from their ships in the harbor of Balaclava. After some delays they began to attack Sevastopol and its forts. But by this time the Russians were strong enough to try to cut off the British army from its ships, and this led to the battle of Balaclava.
Excerpt from taken from Stories from English History by Henry Pitt Warren – 1908
To honour acts of valor during the Crimean War Queen Victoria introduced the Victoria Cross in 1856.