Crimean War

Winter of 1854
1854 Dec 1

Winter of 1854


Winter weather and a deteriorating supply of troops and materiel on both sides led to a halt in ground operations. Sevastopol remained invested by the allies, whose armies were hemmed in by the Russian Army in the interior. On 14 November, the "Balaklava Storm," a major weather event, sank 30 allied transport ships, including HMS Prince, which was carrying a cargo of winter clothing.

The storm and the heavy traffic caused the road from the coast to the troops to disintegrate into a quagmire, which required engineers to devote most of their time to its repair, including by quarrying stone. A tramway was ordered and arrived in January with a civilian engineering crew, but it took until March before it had become sufficiently advanced to be of any appreciable value. An electrical telegraph was also ordered, but the frozen ground delayed its installation until March, when communications from the base port of Balaklava to the British HQ was established. The pipe-and-cable-laying plough failed because of the hard frozen soil, but nevertheless 21 miles (34 km) of cable were laid. The troops suffered greatly from cold and sickness, and the shortage of fuel led them to start dismantling their defensive gabions and fascines.