Victory over Disease

Resolving the Medical Crisis in the Crimean War, 1854-1856

Michael Hinton

Detailed analyses of primary documents associated with the medical aspects of the Crimean campaign indicate that the catastrophic collapse in the health of the British Army during the winter of 1854/55 was followed by a gradual improvement starting early in the New Year. This was not the result any major advances in medical science. Mainly, this wa
Date Published :
October 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
From Musket to Maxim 1815-1914
Illustration :
2 maps, 23 ills, 47 tables, 23 graphs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781911628316
Pages : 308
Dimensions : 9.75 X 7 inches
Stock Status : Available


This book presents fresh analyses of unpublished, published and significant primary source material relevant to the medical aspects on the Eastern campaign of 1854-1856 – commonly called the Crimean War. The aim has been to produce an account based on robust evidence. The project began with no preconceptions but came to seriously question the contributions made by the talented and well-connected Florence Nightingale and the suitably qualified Sanitary Commissioners. The latter had been sent by the government to investigate matters on the spot. This may prove an unexpected and possibly unsympathetic conclusion for some of Nightingale’s many admirers. Rigorously weighing the evidence, it is unmistakably clear that there is very little proof that Nightingale and the Sanitary Commissioners significantly influenced the improvement in the health of the main Army in the Crimea. The principal problems were at the front, not in Turkey, and it was there that matters were gradually rectified, with the health of the troops beginning to improve during the early weeks of 1855.

The historiography of the campaign has tended to concentrate on the catastrophic deterioration in the health of the Army during the first winter and the perceived incompetence of the heads of department. The contributions made by Nightingale and the Sanitary Commissioners have been greatly overemphasized. As a consequence, the medical aspects of the war have been inaccurately portrayed in both academic works and popular culture.

The author’s analyses should alter existing preconceptions or prejudices about what happened in Crimea and Turkey during those fateful war years. The ‘Victory over Disease’ took place in the Crimea, and not at Scutari – and this was not due to the contributions of any one person, or even a group of individuals. Rather it represented the involvement of many people in many walks of life who worked, possibly unwittingly, for a common purpose, and with such a gratifying result.

About The Author

Following his graduation in Veterinary Science from Bristol University (1966) and forty years working as an academic and a civil servant Michael Hinton retired in 2006. His fascination with the Crimean campaign was kindled during the 1990s when he discovered that one of his two times great grandfathers served though out the war. He turned to the topic he was a Reader in Veterinary Public Health with a principal research interest in infectious diseases. After retirement he studied for a second PhD degree under Professor Andrew Lambert at King’s College London. The contents of the thesis (on the medical aspects of the war) form the basis of this book, to which has been added some further analyses. The author has visited the Crimea on four occasions as well as other locations which played a prominent role in the conflict, particularly Constantinople and Malta. He is a member of the Crimean War Research Society, Victorian Military Society, Society of Genealogists, and the Veterinary History Society. The author has previously published over fifty articles on various aspects of the Crimean War in the journals of these, and other societies, and his research now concentrates on the family relationships of participants and the memorials, surviving or otherwise, to their memory in churches, cemeteries and public places.

More from this publisher