British Army in the Crimean War

Sources 2 and 3 both agree with each other as they are giving a similar impression that the officers commanding the British Army were being unfairly criticised throughout the Crimean War. Source 2 was part of a judges summing case supporting the Earl of Cardigan who had commanded the Light Brigade at Balaclava. The source states that any criticism of Cardigan should be ‘generous and sympathetic’ and gives the impression that he was a courageous officer as the judge stated ‘not one that should seek to cast a stain upon his courage and his personal honour as an officer’.

Source 3 supports Source 2 as it suggests that the staff were being ‘unfairly criticised’ and that there is ‘no staff officer to whom I would object’. As Source 2 states that Cardigan has ‘courage and personal honour’ this is similar in Source 3 as he describes the Army with a high ‘sense of duty’. Source 1 completely opposes the impressions given in Sources 2 and 3 as this source is giving the impression that the officers commanding the British Army during the Crimean War were not suited to their positions as he describes them as ‘uneducated’ and ‘unfit for the positions’.

The source also criticises many of the officers as they had secured their positions through ‘family and political interest’. This is criticising Source 2 as Cardigan bought his position through the sale of commissions and this is what may have led Source 1 to believe the officers were ‘unfit for the positions’ as they were unaware of what they were doing. Source 3 challenges the impression given in Source 1 as it is stating the complete opposite, that in fact the staff were being ‘unfairly criticised’ and that ‘not one of them is incompetent’.

Source 2 also challenges Source 1 as it states that nobody should ‘cast a stain upon his courage and personal honour’. This is suggesting that the officers should be talked about and remembered highly whereas Source 1 disagrees labelling them as untrustworthy as it states ‘They were not men whom I would have entrusted with a junior officer’s sentry duty in the field’. Source 1 could be seen as inaccurate as it was book that was published in 1903 by Wolseley who went on to become a Commander-in-Chief of the British Army and serves as a Captain in the Royal Engineers during the Crimean War.

Although Wolseley was there during the time period it could be seen as biased as it is only one man’s version of events. It was also published 47 years after the Crimean war had ended so what was written was simply memoirs which may have been inaccurate as they were written such a long time after the event, the author could have got some things incorrect or forgotten specific things. Source 1 is also taken from a book, which could have been created for a purpose such as to entertain which means it could be unreliable.

Similarly to Source 1, Source 2 was after the Crimean War. Source 2 was a judge’s speech in which Cardigan had sued an author for criticising him, however this was 7 years after the Crimean War had ended so some details may again have been inaccurate. The judge in Source 2 was also not present at the Crimean War so this is another factor which would show the source may be inaccurate as he would not have known the exact events. Source 3 could be seen as a reliable source as it was written in 1855 which was during the Crimean War.

However, Source 2 could also be seen as biased as it was a report from General Simpson who was sent to the Crimea to investigate the growing press criticism of the Army so it could be biased as it is only one persons version of events. General Simpson was also appointed by the British Government which could also be seen as unreliable as they may have had an influence as to what he was reporting about as they would not want the British Army to have a bad reputation.

To conclude, Sources 2 and 3 strongly challenge the view given in Source 1 that the officers commanding the British Army during the Crimean War were unfit for position as they both suggest that the officers were being ‘unfairly criticised’ whereas Source 1 states that they were ‘unfit for the positions’. Although Source 1 was written after the given time period, I believe it is the most useful as from my own knowledge I know that sales of commissions was a big issue during the Crimean War as it allowed people to be appointed to positions without relevant experience.

I also know that there were many problems with the officers during the Crimean War and Sir Garnet Wolseley was there to witness these events. Although General Simpson from Source 3 was present at the time, he may have been told by the British Government not to report badly about the Army as it would further the bad press about them, which makes the source not as useful as Source 1. Source 2 is the least useful source out of the three as it is a judge’s speech, who was not there at the time and would have not had an accurate view of the officers during the Crimean War.