Crimean War

Battle of the Alma
The Coldstream Guards at the Alma, by Richard Caton Woodville 1896 ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1854 Sep 20

Battle of the Alma

Al'ma river

At the Alma, Prince Menshikov, commander-in-chief of Russian forces in the Crimea, decided to make his stand on the high ground south of the river. Although the Russian Army was numerically inferior to the combined Franco-British force (35,000 Russian troops as opposed to 60,000 Anglo-French-Ottoman troops), the heights they occupied were a natural defensive position, indeed, the last natural barrier to the allied armies on their approach to Sevastopol. Furthermore, the Russians had more than one hundred field guns on the heights they could employ with devastating effect from the elevated position; however, none were on the cliffs facing the sea, which were considered too steep for the enemy to climb.

The allies made a series of disjointed attacks. The French turned the Russian left flank with an attack up cliffs that the Russians had considered unscalable. The British initially waited to see the outcome of the French attack, then twice unsuccessfully assaulted the Russians' main position on their right. Eventually, superior British rifle fire forced the Russians to retreat. With both flanks turned, the Russian position collapsed and they fled. The lack of cavalry meant that little pursuit occurred.

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Last Updated: : Thu Dec 29 2022