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"The Crimean War’s North Pacific Theatre:.Petropavlovsk," Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Aug 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

… August 1854.

"The most common image of the Crimean War (1854 – 56) is of Britain's Light Brigade charging to death and glory against Russian guns at Balaclava. Almost equally well known are the epics of the "Thin Red Line" and of the Storming of the Redan, both in the Crimea itself. The more nautically- minded may think of the enormous and costly expedition to the Baltic that earned such scanty returns. Few have however heard of the most remote operation of the war, the Anglo-French assault on Petropavlovsk, Russia's Northern Pacific port on the Kamchatka peninsula.

Even for Russians the word "Kamchatka" signified the back of beyond, difficult to the point of near impossibility to reach by land from European Russia. The Trans-Siberian railway had not yet been thought of and would not to be completed for another five decades and the only realistic way of supplying the settlements there was by sea. Kamchatka is a vast peninsula – almost 100,000 square miles – and contains some 160 volcanoes, 29 of them active today – and it is all but cut off from the rest of Siberia by the Sea of Okhotsk. In 1854 Russian presence there was scarcely a century old and the town of Petropavlovsk, founded by the navigator Vitus Bering (of "Strait" fame) in 1740, was important not only as an ice-free port but as a transit point for contact with Russian Alaska. Russia's interest in Alaska was however never more than lukewarm and its potential was never recognised. It was to be sold to the United States at a knock-down price some thirteen years later…"
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