The siege of Sebastopol (or Sevastopol), September 1854 to September 1855, was central to the Crimean War, the conflict between Russian and an alliance of France, Britain and the Ottoman Empire over control of the Black Sea area. The war is known both as the start of modern warfare, as it made use of railways and telegraphs, and as the conflict during which Florence Nightingale revolutionised nursing.
Sebastopol lies on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula. In the autumn of 1854 British, French and Turkish forces attacked the Russian-held town, though they made little progress until April 1855 when they were able to bring in reinforcements. By summer 1855 the Russians were suffering losses of up to 3,000 a day under the Allied bombardment. Towards the end of August, the French General Mac-Mahon captured a vital redoubt, leaving the Russians unable to defend themselves. They were forced to withdraw from the city, paving the way for an Allied victory. More than 200,000 men died during the siege.
Tolstoy fought at Sebastopol during the siege, and recorded his experiences in the Sebastopol Sketches, published in 1855.