The Crimean War was, along with the 1851 Great Exhibition and the Indian Mutiny of 1857-9, a key public event that preoccupied Dickens throughout the 1850s, and which came to represent for him all that was wrong with his country, both in foreign and domestic terms. The war was perhaps one of the most anomalous military campaigns of the nineteenth century, in that what was undoubtedly a military and administrative disaster was rapidly reinvented as a national triumph once Britain had finally defeated Russia. In 1898, the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, Leslie Stephen commented on a 'curious delusion of the time.. .that the Crimean War implied the moral regeneration of the country'.3 Writers like Charles Kingsley or Alfred, Lord Tennyson, as Poet Laureate, were certainly complicit in propounding a positive view of the war as a time of spiritual revivification. However, Stephen's observation does not account for the resistance of many public figures-including George Eliot, William Gladstone and, perhaps most defiantly of all, Dickens-who refused to succumb to what was almost a national impulse to gloss over or rationalize what had been, at root, a total catastrophe. While Eliot and Gladstone were clearly extremely distressed at this glorification of the fighting, for Dickens the mismanagement in the Crimea contributed to a rising anger that was not to be fully played out until the end of the 1850s.