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Soldiers, Strategy and Sebastopol

  • Hew Strachan (a1)
Extract

The Crimean war has been the victim of much conceptualization. For modern historians, drawn to the phenomenon of a European conflict conveniently sited in the middle of a century of comparative peace, much can be made to hang on it. Whether it is an aberration, or the expression of suppressed feelings, or indeed the beginning of a current that is to grow stronger until 1914, diplomats, soldiers, politicians and economists have taken it as a dividing line. It is simultaneously the continuance of the Peninsular tradition in warfare and an array of technological novelties tempting the variously applied title, ‘the first modern war’. But while its impact on domestic politics and European diplomacy has been scrutinized, and while Captain Nolan has failed to convey his breathless order to the Light Brigade correctly on innumerable occasions, the bridge between the two, between – at its most banal – politics and tactics, has not been so closely examined.

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1 An exception is Gooch, Brison D., The new Bonapartist generals in the Crimean War (The Hague, 1959), which however is primarily concerned with French motives. This article is an attempt to analyse British strategy: the division is no more than a reflexion of the scant attention paid to each other's plans by the allies.

2 ‘It might be a complex task to prove that the rule of the English in Hindostan is connected with the stability of the Sultan's dominions in a far distant region of the world’, Kinglake, A. W., The invasion of the Crimea (8 vols., Edinburgh, 18631888), 1, 34.

3 Fortescue, J. W., The last post, (Edinburgh, 1934), p. 43.

4 Hoskins, H. L., British routes to India (London, 1928), 323; for similar views, see Robinson, Ronald and Gallagher, John, Africa and the Victorians (London, 1961), pp. 76–9.

5 Memorandum by Palmerston, , 6 05 1854, Newcastle papers, Nottingham University Library, NeC 10143.

6 Wellington to Fitzroy Somerset, 5 Jan. 1838, on the occasion of the rebellion in Canada, Wellington papers.

7 Bell, H. C. F., Lord Palmerston (2 vols., London, 1936), 1, 179; Ashley, Evelyn, The Life and correspondence of Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston (2 vols., London, 1879), 11, 36–7.

8 Bell, , Palmerston, 11, 84.

9 Memorandum by Palmerston, , 6 05 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10143; Palmerston to Newcastle, 16 July 1854, NeC 10039.

10 Ellenborough to Newcastle, 8 Apr. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10468.

11 Chesney, F. R., The Russo-Turkish campaigns of 1828 and 1829 (1st edn, London, 1854), pp. 344–6.

12 Martin, Kingsley, The triumph of Lord Palmerston (London, 1963), pp. 16, 166.

13 Hart, B. H. Liddell, The British way in warfare (London, 1933), p. 37.

14 Howard, Michael, The British way in warfare. A reappraisal (London, 1975).

15 Corbett, Julian S., Some principles of maritime strategy (London, 1972), with a foreword by Ranft, Bryan, p. xii; on Mahan, see Sprout, Margaret T., ‘Mahan: evangelist of sea power’, in Earle, Edward Meade, Makers of modern strategy (Princeton, 1943).

16 Hamley, E. B., The operations of war (1st edn, Edinburgh, 1866), pp. 4950. This judgement continued in Hamley until the 7th and last edition of 1922, pp. 58–9.

17 Henderson, G. F. R., The science of war (London, 1905), p. 28.

18 Callwell, C. E., Military operations and maritime preponderance (Edinburgh, 1905), p. 167.

19 Aide-mémoire to the military sciences (edited by a committee of the Corps of Royal Engineers, 3 vols., London, 1846–1852), 1, 2.

20 Ibid. 1, 2.

21 Ibid. 1, 10.

22 Ibid. 1, 11.

23 On Woolwich, see Guggisberg, F. G., The Shop (London, 1900); on Sandhurst, , Report from the select committee on Sandhurst Royal Military College (Parl. Papers, 18541855, XII).

24 Lendy, A. F., The principles of war (London, 1853), iii, refuting statements by Mitchell, John in United Service Journal, 1838, 11, 51, and United Service Gazette, 13 Oct. 1838, p. 4.

25 Edinburgh Review, XXXV, 1821, p. 378.

26 Smith to Sir Benjamin D'Urban, 8 Aug. 1844 (copy), Smith papers, Public Record Office, W.O. 135/3.

27 Napier, William's review of the Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Edinburgh Review, XXXV, 377409, is an excellent example of the heresy; see also Howard, Michael, ‘Jomini and the classical tradition in military thought’, in The theory and practice of war (London, 1965), and Chandler, David G., The campaigns of Napoleon (London, 1967), ch. 111.

28 Aide-mémoire to the military sciences, 1, 1; MajorJackson, Basil in United Service Magazine, 1844, 11, 419; Napier, William in Edinburgh Review, XXXV, 377.

29 Marshman, J. C., Memoirs of Major-General Sir Henry Havelock (London, 1876), p. 9.

30 W.O. 99/19; the book was called An exposition of the first principles of grand military combinations and movements (London, 1825).

31 Edinburgh Review, XXXV, 377409.

32 Bruce, H. A. (ed.), Life of General Sir William Napier (London, 1864), 11, 277–8.

33 Mitchell, J., Thoughts on tactics (London, 1838), p. 7; Luvaas, Jay, The education of an army (London, 1965), 42, 48, 62; United Service Gazette, 3 June 1854, p. 4; Naval and Military Gazette, 28 May 1842, p. 346, urged Mitchell to translate Clausewitz.

34 Aide-mémoire to the military sciences, 1, 1.

35 Liverpool to Wellington, 10 Sept. 1840, Wellington papers, in the possession of the duke of Wellington.

36 Gurwood to Wellington, 22 Sept. 1840, Wellington papers.

37 United Service Magazine, 1854, 1, 26, 68.

38 Wellington to Grey, 13 Nov. 1851, 3rd Earl Grey papers, Department of Palaeography and Diplomatic, Durham University.

39 Ibid. 29 June 1849.

40 Hardinge to Airey, 2 Feb. 1855, Airey papers, Hereford County Record Office, G/IV/A/412; Hardinge to Prince Albert, 28 Dec. 1854, Hardinge papers, McGill University Library.

41 For example, Grey to Sir Charles Grey, 13 Dec. 1851, condemning advice from the Horse Guards; Grey's evidence in the Report of the select committee on military organization (Parl. Papers, 1860, VII), dismissing the role of soldiers in army reform; memorandum by Sir George Brown, referring to Grey's attitude, 28 Jan. 1852, Wellington papers.

42 Wellington to Lord John Russell, 30 Nov. 1849, Wellington papers.

43 Wellington to Stanley, 1 Aug. 1845, Wellington papers.

44 Wellington to Graham, 5 Nov. 1845, Wellington papers.

45 Conacher, J. B., The Aberdeen coalition 1852–1855 (Cambridge, 1968), pp. 234–5; Gooch, Brison D., ‘A century of historiography on the origins of the Crimean war’, American Historical Review, LXII (1956), 57.

46 Eardley-Wilmot, S., Life of Vice-Admiral Edmund, Lord Lyons (London, 1898), p. 135.

47 Memorandum by Graham, 22 Jan. 1854, Graham papers, in possession of Sir Fergus Graham, Bt., microfilm in Cambridge University Library.

48 Graham to Clarendon, 1 Mar. 1854, Graham papers.

49 Russell to Graham, 19 Jan. 1854, Graham papers.

50 Newcastle to Graham, 20 Jan. 1854, Graham papers; Newcastle to Queen Victoria, 10 and 11 Feb. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9785, fos. 41, 43.

51 Palmerston to Graham, 19 Jan. 1854, Graham papers.

52 Memorandum by Graham, 22 Jan. 1854, Graham papers.

53 Clarendon to Graham, 22 Jan. 1854, Graham papers.

54 Newcastle to Raglan, 21 Mar. 1854, forwarding letter to de Ros, the quartermaster general of the force, Raglan papers, National Army Museum, 6807/283; for the letter to de Ros, see Newcastle to de Ros, 13 Mar. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10775a.

55 Newcastle to Raglan, 10 Apr. 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/281.

56 Newcastle to Raglan, 21 Mar. 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/283.

57 Newcastle to Raglan, 13 Apr. 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/283.

58 Palmerston to Newcastle, 31 Mar. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10035.

59 Russell to Aberdeen, 27 Apr. 1854, quoted in Gooch, G. P. (ed.), The later correspondence of Lord John Russell (2 vols., London, 1925), 11, 163–4.

60 Memorandum by SirWood, Charles, 1 05 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10139.

61 Memorandum by Palmerston, , 6 05 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10143.

62 Conacher, , The Aberdeen coalition, pp. 160–1.

63 Gooch, , Later correspondence of Russell, 11, 164.

64 Newcastle to Raglan, , 9 05 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/283.

65 Newcastle to Raglan, , 8 and 17 06 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9973, fos. 45, 53. Although Newcastle refers to Anassa, Anapa must be meant. See also the naval instructions, Newcastle to the lords commissioners of the admiralty, 29 Mar. 1854, and Dundas to Lyons, 1 May 1854, quoted in Bonner-Smith, D. and Dewar, A. C., Russian War, 1854 (Navy Records Society, 1943), pp. 247, 249.

66 Eardley-Wilmot, , Life of Lord Lyons, pp. 161–2, 165–8, 176–7.

67 Raglan to Graham, 23 Jan. 1854, Graham papers.

68 Palmerston to Newcastle 16 July 1854, Newcastle papers NeC 10039; reflected in Newcastle to Raglan, 29 Aug. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9973, fo. 123.

69 Ellenborough to Newcastle, 8 Apr. 1854, Newcastle papers NeC 10468.

70 Baddeley, John F., The Russian conquest of the Caucasus (London, 1908), pp. 447–50; Curtiss, John S., The Russian army under Nicholas I 1825–1855 (Durham N.C., 1965), pp. 315–20.

71 Kinglake, , The invasion of the Crimea, 11, 93–5, 517–8.

72 Newcastle to Raglan, 28 June 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9973, fo. 57.

73 Newcastle to Raglan, 29 June 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/281.

74 5th report from the select committee on the army before Sebastopol (Parl. Papers, 1854–1855, IX–part III), 5.

75 Newcastle to Raglan, 3 Aug. 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/283.

76 For a discussion of Burgoyne, see Luvaas, Jay, The education of an army (London, 1965).

77 Wrottesley, George (ed.), The military opinions of General Sir J. F. Burgoyne (London, 1859), pp. 169–79; Burgoyne to Col. Matson, 12 February 1854, quoted in Wrottesley, George, Life and correspondence of Field Marshal Sir John Burgoyne (2 vols., London, 1873), 11, 1213; Burgoyne to Raglan, 30 Mar. 1854, ibid. 11, 29; memorandum by Burgoyne, 6 Mar. 1854, Newcastle papers NeC 10665.

78 Burgoyne to Graham, 22 Jan. 1854, in Wrottesley, , Life and correspondence of Burgoyne, 11, 6.

79 Burgoyne to Raglan, 30 Mar. and 10 Mar. 1854, ibid. 11, 29, 41.

80 Memorandum by Burgoyne for Stratford de Redcliffe, 22 Mar. 1854, ibid. 11, 25–7.

81 Gooch, , New Bonapartist generals, p. 68.

82 Newcastle to Raglan, 3 May 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9973, fo. 31.

83 Wrottesley, , Life and correspondence of Burgoyne, 11, 13, 6.

84 Burgoyne to Graham, 20 Jan. 1854, Graham papers; Burgoyne to Raglan, 10 Apr. 1854, quoted in Wrottesley, , Life and correspondence of Burgoyne, 11, 40–1, and copy in Newcastle papers, NeC 10667.

85 Burgoyne to Col. Sandham, 22 Aug. 1854, in Wrottesley, , Life and correspondence of Burgoyne, 11, 64–6.

86 Memoranda by Burgoyne, 29 Aug. 1854, and 8 Sept. 1854, ibid. 11, 69–73, 79–81.

87 Burgoyne to Hardinge, 7 Sept. 1854, Hardinge papers.

88 Kinglake, , The invasion of the Crimea, 11, 113–15; Brown to Raglan, 27 July 1854, quoted in Martineau, John, Life of Henry Pelham, 5th duke of Newcastle (London, 1908), p. 140.

89 Cathcart to his wife, 9 Sept. 1854, Sir George Cathcart papers, in the possession of the Earl Cathcart.

90 Col. du Plat to Newcastle, 22 July 1854, reporting a conversation with the duchess of Cambridge, Newcastle papers, NeC 10390.

91 Airey to Brown, 14 Aug. 1854, Sir George Brown papers, National Library of Scotland, MS 1849, fo. 229.

92 Airey to Wetherall, 22 July 1854, Wetherall papers, National Army Museum, 6210/94/1.

93 Tylden to Burgoyne, 19 July 1854, quoted in Wrottesley, , Life and correspondence of Burgoyne, 11, 50–2.

94 Tylden to Raglan, 10 Aug. 1854, ibid. 11, 56.

95 Tylden to Col. Matson, 20 Aug. 1854, ibid. 11, 54–5.

96 Curtiss, , Russian army, 326.

97 Napier was ill for much of 1854. He expressed his doubts regarding the whole expedition, Napier to Hardinge, 17 Apr. 1854, Hardinge papers. He summarized his views for Lt. Gen. Shaw Kennedy in January 1855, saying they were formed before the events, Bruce, H. A. (ed.), Life of General Sir William Napier (2 vols., London, 1864), 11, 383–4, 396.

98 Newcastle to Raglan 4 May 1854, forwarding letter of Shaw Kennedy to Sir Roderick Murchison, 14 Mar. 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/281/14.

99 Letters of Mitchell to United Service Gazette, 21 Jan. 1854, p. 5; 6 May 1854, p. 5; 3 June 1854, p. 4; 9 Sept. 1854, p. 5.

100 Macintosh, A. F., A military tour in European Turkey, the Crimea, and on the eastern shores of the Black Sea (2 vols., London, 1854), 1, 15.

101 Ibid. 11, 223.

102 Ibid. 11, 240.

103 Ibid. 11, 225.

104 Ibid. 11, 254–265.

105 Higginson, George, 71 years of a guardsman's life (London, 1916), p. 135, refers to it in a letter of 27 Aug. 1854.

106 Chesney, F. R.;, The Russo-Turkish campaigns of 1828 and 1829 (1st edn.London, 1854), PP. 350378.

107 Ibid. (3rd edn., London, 1854), pp. 369, 373.

108 Graham to Raglan, 15 Jan. 1854, returning Williams' letter of 12 Jan. 1854, Graham papers; Raglan to Williams, 14 Jan. 1854, W.O. 46/91, pp. 223–4.

109 Raglan to Newcastle 19 Aug. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9810.

110 Raglan to Newcastle, 22 Mar. 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/283.

111 Kinglake, , The invasion of the Crimea, 11, 137–8.

112 Lucan to Newcastle, 10 June 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10485.

113 Raglan to Newcastle, 14 July 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/283; Raglan to Newcastle, 29 July 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9800.

114 Pasley, C. W., Rules for conducting the practical operations of a siege (London, 1842), pt. 11, 4; Colonel Jones quoted in Rait, R. S., The life and campaigns of Hugh, 1st Viscount Cough (2 vols., London, 1903), 11, 128.

115 Burgoyne, in Aide-mémoire to the military sciences, 1, 6877; see also Jebb, J., A flying shot at Fergusson (London, 1853), p. 33, which says a besieging army should always allow four reliefs of working parties and three reliefs of guards for trenches.

116 2nd report from the select committee on the army before Sebastopol (Parl. Papers, 1854–5, IX, part I), pp. 23, 38, 44, 45, 48, 65, 71, 104–6, 167, 205–6, 243, 251, 270–1.

117 Report of the select committee on army and ordnance expenditure (Parl. Papers 1850, X), pp. 240, 605–7; Burgoyne expressed similar views, Wrottesley, , Military opinions of Burgoyne, p. 6, and Life and correspondence of Burgoyne, 1, 501–2.

118 Brown to Raglan, 14 June 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/292; Raglan to Newcastle, 14 July 1854, Raglan papers, 6807/283.

119 Routh, R. I., Observations on commissariat field service (2nd edn, London, 1852), pp. 25, 33, 38

120 Earl Grey to Sir Charles Grey, 16 Nov. 1854, reporting a conversation with Raglan before his departure, Grey papers.

121 Hardinge told Sir Joseph Thackwell in February 1854, that the troops would be unlikely to go beyond Malta, Wylly, H. C., The military memoirs of Lt. Gen. Sir Joseph Thackwell (London, 1908), p. 353.

122 Memorandum by Ellenborough, 8–9 Aug. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10668.

123 Col. du Plat to Newcastle, 17 Aug. 1854, forwarding anonymous memorandum, Newcastle papers, NeC 10398.

124 Gooch, , New Bonapartist generals, 107–14; Raglan to Newcastle, 14 July 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9796; Airey to Hardinge, Hardinge papers, 12 Sept. 1854.

125 Lyons to Graham, 13 Sept. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10494; Kinglake, , The invasion of the Crimea, 11, 150–6.

126 Graham to Raglan, 8 May, 1854, Graham papers.

127 Eardley-Wilmot, , Life of Lord Lyons, p. 160.

128 Graham to Lyons, 8 May 1854, Graham papers.

129 Graham to Lyons, 2 July 1854, quoted in Parker, Charles Stuart, Life and letters of Sir James Graham (2 vols., London, 1907), 11, 244.

130 Graham to Gladstone, 6 Oct. 1854, ibid. 11, 253.

131 Graham to Lyons, 13 Sept. 1854, ibid. 11, 255; Graham to Lyons, 28 Sept. 1854, Graham papers; for Lyons' view of his role in the decision, Lyons to Graham, 13 Sept. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 10494.

132 Journal entry for 12 Sept. 1854, Jurien de la Gravière papers, Archives Nationales, Paris, BB4 1798 bis (Marine). See also entry for 1 Sept. I am most grateful to Dr C. I. Hamilton for this reference, and indeed for other comments.

133 Raglan to Newcastle, 23 Oct. 1854, Newcastle papers, NeC 9890.

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