By Robert Edgerton
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Additional resources for Death Or Glory: The Legacy Of The Crimean War
Although seventy years old, she carried a saber and two pistols. Aged from sixteen to well over sixty, the Bashi-Bazouks sported all sorts of weapons, including bamboo spears, and sometimes played kettledrums as they marched. A French officer who described them as "hideously dirty" wrote that "they had truly a vile air that inspired all in the army to a profound distaste. Everyone knew that T I X EA R M I E S : M E N R E A D YFOR W A R ? "i7 Like their Russian counterparts, the Cossacks, the Bashi-Bazouks were superb horsemen, but they would not fight against regular cavalry, nor would they attack anything more formidable than stragglers.
In Russia, the recognition by the tsar and many nobles that a serf-dominated economy was too inefficient to compete with the West led to radical reform. ~' of French troops as the war dragged on, France emerged from the conflict as the leading power in Europe, and Britain still ruled the seas as well as the world's greatest empire. Few accounts of the Crimean War mention the involvement of the United States, but American interest in the war was intense. M a ~ o r newspapers throughout the country carried hundreds of articles about the generals involved, the details of the battles, and the war's diplomatic implications for the United States.
Some well-equipped regular army cavalry units, well led by a Pole named Skender Bey, fought with valor and discipline, but they were few in number. Other cavalry units proved almost useless, with their small, old horses; short, dull sabers; nonfunctioning carbines; clumsy lances; tattered saddles; ragged uniforms; and rusty spurs-all this before they had done any campaigning. 2hEven kss egective as a military force was the Turkish irregular cavalry, the notorious Bashi-Bazouks (meaning "spoiled head" in Turkish, because they possessed no nlilitary disciplixle at all).