The First Pacific War: Britain and Russia, 1854-56
The `Crimean War' was much more than a series of battles in the Crimea. One of the most neglected aspects has been the naval campaign in the Pacific Ocean - as highlighted in this full-scale survey, which brings out the involvement of China and Japan. The campaign took a joint British and French squadron from Chile to Kamchatka, to be defeated in battle at Petropavlovsk - where the British Admiral committed suicide. Despite their victory, the Russians withdrew from all their Pacific coastal settlements, and the British and French concentrated on searching for the mouth of the Amur River, thought to be a Russian base. The Russians in turn also concentrated there, in order to build a base, sending repeated expeditions along the river. Both China, who claimed to rule along the Amur, and Japan, only just `opened up' by Commodore Perry's expedition, were involved - indeed, the British used a Japanese port as their advanced base. The United States had only recently reached the Pacific coast and several Americans had their eyes on Russian Alaska and Hawaii as territories for future acquisitions. All this meant the Allies had to tread very delicately in Pacific waters. The war in Europe ended before a decisive action could take place in the Pacific. Ironically, having lost in the fighting, the Russians ended with a great advance in their territory.
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