The First Pacific War

January 2008
5 line illustrations
224 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843833543
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

The First Pacific War

Britain and Russia, 1854-56

John D. Grainger

out of stock

Survey of the neglected naval campaign of the Crimean War highlights its impact on international relations with China and Japan as well as Russia.
The `Crimean War' was much more than a series of battles in the Crimea. One of the most neglected aspects has been the naval campaign in the Pacific Ocean - as highlighted in this full-scale survey, which brings out the involvement of China and Japan.

The campaign took a joint British and French squadron from Chile to Kamchatka, to be defeated in battle at Petropavlovsk - where the British Admiral committed suicide. Despite their victory, the Russians withdrew from all their Pacific coastal settlements, and the British and French concentrated on searching for the mouth of the Amur River, thought to be a Russian base. The Russians in turn also concentrated there, in order to build a base, sending repeated expeditions along the river.
Both China, who claimed to rule along the Amur, and Japan, only just `opened up' by Commodore Perry's expedition, were involved - indeed, the British used a Japanese port as their advanced base. The United States had only recently reached the Pacific coast and several Americans had their eyes on Russian Alaska and Hawaii as territories for future acquisitions. All this meant the Allies had to tread very delicately in Pacific waters.
The war in Europe ended before a decisive action could take place in the Pacific. Ironically, having lost in the fighting, the Russians ended with a great advance in their territory.

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Table of Contents

The Royal Navy in the Pacific
The Pursuit to Petropavlosk
Japan, China, the Amur River
Petropavlosk Again
The Gulf of Tartary
The Sea of Okhotsk
The Amur Estuary
The Victims


The present volume is the first attempt to present a coherent account of the whole episode and is thus to be warmly welcomed. THE JOURNAL OF POLAR RECORD

A useful addition to the literature on the Crimean War. It will be of interest to naval historians and scholars of the Pacific region. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
[Grainger] writes in a provocative and engrossing style and orders and arranges his account in a way that makes sense out of what was a confusing and complex situation. His command of the available sources is excellent. [The book] is an exceptional study worthy of the widest readership. It will enlighten not only all those interested in the naval, imperial, and diplomatic history of the mid-nineteenth-century but also should be read by those interested in the wider Pacific region and why it is the way it is now. VICTORIAN STUDIES
An original, fresh look at an aspect of the Crimean War that is too often overlooked or deliberately ignored by historians. A very useful study not only for those interested in a detailed account of the Royal Navy's Pacific campaign, but also for anyone interested in the wider context and consequences of the unfortunately named "Crimean" War. JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES
A detailed narrative account of events leading up to and unfolding during the war and their effects. A detailed study of a war previously neglected by naval historians. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MARITIME HISTORY
[Does] a good job examining this neglected aspect of the Crimean War. This fine book should be in the library of everyone interested in the Crimean War, or British or Russian naval history. NAUTICAL RESEARCH JOURNAL

A welcome book-length account of little-known events in a distant theatre of the Crimean War. THE NORTHERN MARINER

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