The Russian War, 1854: Baltic and Black Sea

This volume reproduces the Cabinet Confidential print of January 1855, a time of crisis in British Government, when the Aberdeen Ministry, heavily defeated on a vote of confidence, was eventually replaced by Lord Palmerston’s Ministry. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir James Graham, survived the change and the print reflected his decision to use the Vice Admirals commanding the principal theatres of war, the Baltic and the Black sea, as scapegoats for the failure of his overly ambitious, under-funded strategy. While Sir James Dundas went quietly Sir Charles Napier fought back.

While the two collections provide a sound introduction to the key issues of the campaign, including the capture of Bomarsund, plans to attack other Baltic fortresses, the economic blockade, the bombardment of Odessa, the invasion of the Crimea and the disastrous loss of shipping of Balaklava in November 1854 this collection should be read in conjunction with the other official and private correspondence.

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About Bonner-Smith, Dewar

David Bonner-Smith was Admiralty Librarian, joining the library staff in March 1911. He was made deputy librarian on the death of W.G. Perrin in 1931, and appointed to the chief post in March 1932. He retired in May 1949 at the age of 60. It was said of him that he knew every one of the 100,000 books in the library, but was also familiar with all their contents. It is certain that he could direct students and enquirers to whatever reference they needed. He was editor of The Mariner’s Mirror from 1932 to 1939.

His publications include

  • The Letters of Earl St. Vincent, 2 volumes (Navy Records Society, 1921, 1926).
  • Letter and Papers of Admiral the Hon. Samuel Barrington 2 volumes (Navy Records Society, 1937, 1941).
  • Captain Boteler’s Recollections 1808 – 1830 (Navy Records Society, 1942).
  • The Russian War, 1855, Baltic (Navy Records Society, 1944).
  • The Second China War, 1856-1860 (Navy Records Society, 1954).

A.C. Dewar entered the Royal Navy and retired with the rank of Lieutenant in 1910, had been given the War Service rank of Commander in 1916 and retired for a second time as a Captain shortly after the Armistice. Both were serving in the Admiralty when Lord Beatty (then First Sea Lord) required an opposite view to the Harper Record (see The Jellicoe Papers, Volume 2, and The Beatty Papers, Volume 2). Their Naval Staff Appreciation is biased in favour of Beatty, and was never published, being suppressed by Beatty’s successor, Charles Madden.

His publications include

  • The Navy and the Conference (Quarterly Review, 1922).
  • Our Navy for a Thousand Years, with Sir S. Eardley-Wilmot (Sampson Low, 1932).
  • The Russian War, 1854: Baltic and Black Sea with D. Bonner-Smith (Navy Records Society, 1943).
  • The Russian War, 1855: The Black Sea (Navy Records Society, 1945).