September 9, 1855: The Siege of Sevastopol comes to an end. The siege was part of the Crimean War, which was itself part of the Ottoman Wars of Europe. The Crimean War pitted the Russian Empire against an alliance formed between the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. Many European nations were vying for control of the once vast Ottoman Empire as that entity declined. Most of the Crimean War was waged on the Crimean Pennisula, although some battles were seen farther afield.
Sevastopol (also sometimes written as Sebastopol) is located in present-day Ukraine. It is a port city on the Black Sea. It was home to the Tsar’s Black Sea Fleet which was a threat on the Mediterranean Sea, as well as on the Black Sea. In October 1854, French and British engineers began to build siege lines from their base at Balaclava. The Russian commander, Prince Menshikov, and his army had left the city’s defense to Vice Admirals Vladimir Kornilov and Pavel Nakhimov. They were in charge of 4,500 militia, 2,700 gunners, 4,400 marines, 18,500 seamen, and 5,000 workmen.
The first order of defense for the port city was to begin scuttling ships to make the harbor unnavigable. About 15 ships were sent to the bottom of the sea. Their armaments were removed before the intentional sinkings and the crews were then available to fight elsewhere. As the sides lined up in October 1854, the Allies had about 120 guns while the Russians had about 350. On October 17, 1854 (Old Style of dating or October 20 in the New Style), the artillery battle began. During the first day of battle, Admiral Kornilov was killed. The Russians were able to hold off the French and British troops who had hoped to land and carry out an infantry attack which they assumed would lead to a quick victory.
Instead, it took nearly a year for the siege to end. On this date (New Style), the Russians abandoned the city four days after the Allies began their sixth and most aggressive bombardment. In all, the Allies lost 128,387 men. The French had 10,240 die in battle with another 95,000 dying of wounds or disease. The British numbers were similar in ratio with 2,755 killed in battle and 18,342 succumbing to their wounds or dying of disease. Both had far greater numbers of men dying from disease than any other or all other factors combined. The Russians lost 102,000 from all causes. The Crimean War as a whole took the lives of over 500,000 before the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1856.
I can stand out the war with any man. – Florence Nightengale
The scenes on this field would have cured anybody of war. – William Tecumseh Sherman
There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare. – Sun Tzu
War is a series of catastrophes which result in victory. – Albert Pike
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