Frustration in the Pacific, Shifts along the Amur

  • Andrew C. Rath


Britain’s and France’s 1855 campaign in the Pacific highlighted the futility of their efforts to frustrate Russian designs in the Pacific. Despite massive reinforcements, new commanders, and specific orders to coordinate the efforts of squadrons based in Chinese and South American waters, Allied forces utterly failed to accomplish their goals for the campaign. Russian forces successfully evacuated Petropavlovsk and escaped patrolling British warships, leaving a deserted provincial town instead of an attractive target. Allied forces were also unable to intercept and destroy heavily laden Russian warships and transports even after briefly locating them at De Castries Bay (De Kastri Bay). Finally, and in spite of their massive naval superiority and the shipwreck of the Russian frigate Diana, British and French warships were powerless to prevent the successful conclusion of Russo-Japanese negotiations or locate and breach Russian defenses at the Amur River’s entrance. The same “apparently aimless movements and ill success of our naval forces on the north-eastern shores of Asia”1 that marred the previous year’s campaign again characterized the Allied powers’ experiences in 1855. The game of military hide-and-seek on a grand scale played throughout the Western Pacific during that year represented a significant victory for the Russian Empire, which otherwise gained little from the Crimean conflict.


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© Andrew C. Rath 2015

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