Continuing from my previous post about the Crimean War, the impact of the war was far-reaching in its consequences. All countries involved would suffer greatly in the later decades for their actions in the 1850s. Britain was no exception to the impact, however, the public discussions created by the conclusion of the war went nowhere another crisis known as the Sepoy Mutiny halfway around the world in India broke out in 1857 and had to be seen to right away.
A multitude of discussions was created by Britain’s performance in the Crimean War. A wanting for professionalization in the army and medical fields was the foremost discussion. As romanticized as the “Charge of the Light Brigade” was, it was an unmitigated disaster in terms of performance. No example was made of it until WWI when Britain suffered perhaps its greatest disaster. For example, in 1916, the titanic Battle of the Somme was launched in July with primarily the British attacking the Germans. In the 60 or so years, no significant change was made in how battlefield intel was obtained and the casualties on July first showed that lack of change. On the first day alone, the British suffered 60,000 casualties (killed, missing, taken prisoner) alone, 19,000 of which were killed.
To no one’s surprise, the care of the sick and wounded was close to nothing. In fact, when Florence Nightingale arrived at the British hospital in Constantinople (now Istanbul), “Although they had been warned of the horrid conditions there, nothing could have prepared Nightingale and her nurses for what they saw when they arrived at Scutari, the British base hospital in Constantinople. The hospital sat on top of a large cesspool, which contaminated the water and the hospital building itself. Patients lay on in their own excrement on stretchers strewn throughout the hallways. Rodents and bugs scurried past them. The most basic supplies, such as bandages and soap, grew increasingly scarce as the number of ill and wounded steadily increased. Even water needed to be rationed. More soldiers were dying from infectious diseases like typhoid and cholera than from injuries incurred in battle”. Nightingale quickly went to work to alleviate the situation by enacting changes that included scrubbing the hospital from top to bottom with help, laundry was done for the soldiers to have clean clothes, and classrooms to stimulate intellectual discussions and to keep people’s minds off the war for a brief time. By the conclusion of the war, her and her nurse’s work casualties were reduced by two-thirds. In fact, her work was, “Based on her observations in the Crimea, Nightingale wrote Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army, an 830-page report analyzing her experience and proposing reforms for other military hospitals operating under poor conditions. The book would spark a total restructuring of the War Office’s administrative department, including the establishment of a Royal Commission for the Health of the Army in 1857”. These changes and lack of, both influenced Britain’s future in the decades to come.