“A war that stood out for its ‘notoriously incompetent international butchery’”

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

That’s from The Charge of the Light Brigade, a reminder for those of you with a classical education. That was based on an event during the Crimean War, the previous one. So what was that all about?

The Crimean War was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russia lost to an alliance of France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom and Piedmont-Sardinia. The immediate cause of the war involved the rights of Christian minorities in Palestine, which was part of the Ottoman Empire. The French promoted the rights of Roman Catholics, and Russia promoted those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Longer-term causes involved the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the expansion of the Russian Empire in the preceding Russo-Turkish Wars, and the British and French preference to preserve the Ottoman Empire to maintain the balance of power in the Concert of Europe. It has widely been noted that the causes, in one case involving an argument over a key, had never revealed a “greater confusion of purpose” but led to a war that stood out for its “notoriously incompetent international butchery”.

History does seem to repeat but in such insane sorts of ways. You do have to wonder about this: Joe Biden Tells US Troops in Poland They’re Going to Ukraine (Video) …Update: White House Corrects Biden.

And now who is going to correct the White House?

13 responses to ““A war that stood out for its ‘notoriously incompetent international butchery’””

  1. dover0beach Avatar

    This is a fascinating part of European history with which I’m not well-acquainted. It’s interesting that GB and France sided with the failing Ottoman’s against Russia in order to maintain the ‘Concert of Europe’. Amazing to think that the Russians might have otherwise gained Constantinople as a consequence. As a simple counterfactual, had Constantinople been in Russian hands, the Gallipoli campaign would have been unnecessary. Russia would have been able to maintain its supply lines from the West, and Austro-Hungary and Germany much less likely to launch a continental war. This is what meddling gets you though.

  2. Katzenjammer Avatar

    In Sydney –

    The Russian success in repulsing an Anglo-French force in the Siege of Petropavlovsk, in the northern Pacific during the Crimean War (1854–56), raised concerns that the Russian Pacific Fleet would attack Sydney. At the time New South Wales was undergoing an economic boom following the discovery of gold. The colonial government enlarged Fort Macquarie and Dawes Point, constructed further fortifications at Kirribilli and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, and finished Fort Denison. Dawes Point received additional subterranean powder magazines and the Royal Artillery provided a garrison. Dawes Point Battery also became the command post for the fortifications around the inner harbor.


  3. bemused Avatar

    All proves is that the world has always been run by idiots.

  4. Ed Case Avatar
    Ed Case

    It was a big deal at the time.
    Balaclava in Melbourne is named for it, as well as Crimea and Sedan Streets in East St. Kilda, Inkerman St. and likely many other streets and roads.

  5. Bluey Avatar

    A fine example, much like today, of great powers playing a game for petty reasons with tragic cost to the people ruled over.

  6. Frogger Avatar

    And the game repeats itself again, once a century so the Russians say. If it’s not a Napoleon, it’s a Hitler. Now a senile puppet with a rotten cabal following the wolfowitz doctrine are attempting to keep an emerging power down if not in check. This time that power has a backup force of 1.7 billion to assist and who realise who’s next.
    After getting their arses kicked by a bunch of goat herders and rice farmers before that, they now want to up the ante when in hock over their necks and put a knee into the groin of a bunch of vodka swillers to keep the dollar as the global mooching currency.
    Somehow I doubt if the pig farmers will stop until they get to Paris and kick the yanks off the continent to be left in peace from the incessant and repetitive western antagonism this time around. They lost 26 million the last time a western firebrand came knocking, like they said it’s not going to happen again and fun things are going to happen on the aggressors home front so they can share in some pain for a change.

  7. bemused Avatar

    I swear I typed ‘All this proves’, whatever. I Googled ‘Petropavlovsk’ and discovered that it’s ostensibly on the other side of the planet. In the 1850s, the Australian government believed that a Russian fleet would travel across the planet to invade Sydney? Maybe far north Queensland for the beaches and sunshine, but Shitney?

  8. Ed Case Avatar
    Ed Case

    There wasn’t any Australian Government in the 1850s.
    Where you from, boy?

  9. bemused Avatar

    There wasn’t any Australian Government in the 1850s.

    There was. It was called the British government, but there was also the Australian Constitutions Act 1850.

    Where are you from boy?

  10. Roger Avatar

    All proves is that the world has always been run by idiots.

    Pretty much.

    And those countries that maintain a heavily armed neutrality are very smart.

  11. Zulu Kilo Two Alpha Avatar
    Zulu Kilo Two Alpha

    That’s from The Charge of the Light Brigade, a reminder for those of you with a classical education

    I’ve seen the order that launched that charge, in the Imperial War Museum, in London. I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody could decipher the staff officer’s handwriting…

  12. Louis Litt Avatar
    Louis Litt

    I find the preservation of the Ottoman empire disgusting. The genocide . Constantinople is Greek.

  13. Fair Shake Avatar
    Fair Shake

    Well said Bemused. The world is run by idiots. Am reading Churchill by Andrew Roberts. The number of times Churchill called out Hitler and the need for the British to prepare for war fell on deaf ears was appalling. Yet here we are again. …and yes the number of times Churchill got it wrong illustrating even the best don’t know.

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