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Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

The Crimean War and the Siege of Sevastopol

The Crimean War began in 1853, pitting Russia against France, England, and the Ottoman Empire.[1] On October 17th, 1854, the aforementioned allied forces lay siege to Sevastopol. During the siege, the attackers dug an extensive network of trenches, punctuated by gun batteries. These trenches contributed to the stalemate which defined the eleven-month-long siege of Sevastopol. While the allied armies were able to muster over 100 pieces of artillery at the start of the siege, they were still outgunned by the besieged Russians by a factor of 3:1.[2] The allied forces had also hoped to send their ships into Sevastopol harbor to bombard the city from behind its lines of defense, but the Russians, anticipating this, had sank several of their own ships at the mouth of the harbor, effectively blocking it off.[3] With this hope for a quick capitulation quashed, the allied armies resorted to regular bombardments of the city and its defenses. Over the course of the siege, hundreds of thousands of shells fell on the city.[4] The lucky break for the allied force came when one of their bombardments ignited the magazine in the Malakoff Redoubt, disabling most of the guns along this key portion of the city's defenses. The allied forces did not capitalize on this weakness right away. Their inaction allowed the Russian defenders to make repairs to the damaged fortress, and the siege wore on. It was not until September 8th, 1855, after a fierce bombardment, that the allied armies launched a coordinated attack during which the French assaulted and captured the Malakoff Redoubt.[5] The Russians, realizing that they could not resist any longer, sank their remaining ships, destroyed the city's defenses, and withdrew from Sevastopol, leaving the allies masters of a broken and burning city. The Crimean War continued until February of 1856, when Russia agreed to a truce.[6] During the relatively brief conflict, which had lasted from October 1853 to March 1856, Russia had lost over 400,000 men, as many as 100,000 of which are said to have perished during the defense of Sevastopol.[7] 
[1] “Crimean War | Map, Summary, Combatants, Causes, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed March 20, 2018.
[2] “Siege of Sevastopol.” Accessed March 20, 2018.
[3] Qualls, Karl D. "Traveling Today through Sevastopol's Past: Postcommunist Continuity in a 'Ukrainian' Cityscape." Cities After the Fall of Communism: Reshaping Cultural Landscapes and European Identity, pp. 167-194. Ed. Czaplicka, John, Nida Gelazis, and Blair A. Ruble. © 2009 Woodrow Wilson Center Press. Reprinted with the permission of the Johns Hopkins University Press.
[4] Melvin, Mungo. Sevastopol’s Wars: Crimea from Potemkin to Putin. Oxford New York, NY: Osprey Publishing, 2017.
[5] “Siege of Sevastopol.” Accessed March 20, 2018.
[6] “Crimean War | Map, Summary, Combatants, Causes, & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed March 20, 2018.
[7] Советская Военная Энциклопедия, М., Воениздат 1979, т.7, стр.280

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