Campaigns in the White Sea, 1854
Sixty years after the Crimean War’s first naval campaigns, an unusual token of goodwill arrived in northern Russia. This icon of St. Michael the Archangel was Britain’s to return after its seizure during the 1854 Anglo-French effort against Russia’s northern coasts.1 Contemporary participants and subsequent authors alike noted the considerable distance separating the White Sea and Murman Coast from the Crimean conflict’s ostensible focal point around the Black Sea, albeit for markedly different reasons. A special issue of the Journal de St. Petersbourg for example, featured Nicholas I’s emphasis on the Allied decision to direct “their blows on such points as were more or less accessible to them” in the Baltic, White Sea, and the “far distant coasts of the Pacific Ocean.”2 The Czar astutely perceived that these campaigns demonstrated that Britain and France were not simply fighting to protect the Ottoman Empire, but this point was lost on some subsequent historians who incorrectly argued that such efforts were not “what Britain and France had gone to war for.”3 The primary Allied motive for dispatching warships to the White Sea was the same one that had initially attracted English merchant vessels during the sixteenth century—controlling trade.
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