Allied Prewar Planning: The “Nelson Touch” That Never Materialized

  • Andrew C. Rath


German statesman Otto von Bismarck once envisioned nineteenth-century Anglo-Russian conflict as a duel between an elephant (Russia) and a whale (Britain). Although the German chancellor’s metaphor did not include France or smaller powers, it aptly described much of the Crimean War. When Britain and France joined the Ottoman Empire in this struggle against Russia in 1854, a unique example of a geographically expansive yet strategically limited conflict ensued among vast empires at different stages of economic and technological development. The British and Czarist Empires were already concerned with ruling on a transcontinental scale by the 1850s, though neither had yet reached its territorial apogee. Outside of Africa, in fact, an adversarial Anglo-Russian relationship prevailed everywhere in the world, albeit often at a distance. The vast distances that still separated Czarist and British territory instead ensured that Anglo-Russian conflict during the mid-nineteenth century manifested itself in conflict over so-called intermediate areas in the Baltic, Ottoman Empire, Caucasus, and Pacific. These areas became especially important during the Crimean War, when circumstances challenged Britain and France to attack the Czarist Empire outside Central Europe.


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© Andrew C. Rath 2015

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  • Andrew C. Rath

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