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Updated 04/03/2020


The Highland Brigades March
to the Battle of Alma
Pipe Major William Ross

The Battle of the Alma was a battle in the Crimean War between an allied expeditionary force (made up of French, British, and Turkish forces) and Russian forces defending the Crimean Peninsula on September 20, 1854. The allies had made a surprise landing in Crimea on September 14. The allied commanders, Maréchal Jacques Leroy de Saint-Arnaud and Lord Raglan, then marched toward the strategically important port city of Sevastapol, 28 miles away. Russian commander Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov rushed his available forces to the last natural defensive position before the city, the Alma Heights, south of the Alma River.

The allies made a series of disjointed attacks. The French turned the Russian left flank with an attack up cliffs that the Russians had considered unscalable. The British initially waited to see the outcome of the French attack, then twice unsuccessfully assaulted the Russians' main position on their right. Eventually, superior British rifle fire forced the Russians to retreat. With both flanks turned, the Russian position collapsed and they fled. The lack of cavalry meant that little pursuit occurred.

The battle cost the French roughly 1,600 casualties, the British 2,000, the Egyptians 503, and the Russians some 5,000.