Following the Napoleonic Wars, France was defeated, Germany all but ruined, and Italy remained divided, quarreling for another fifty years. Once the smoke of Waterloo had cleared, only two states emerged as true victors: Great Britain and Czarist Russia. The fledgling United States was still another century from world prominence and less than half of its post-Civil War size. British policy during the 19th Century was essentially focused around the Great Game, keeping Russian expansion in check and keeping an edge on the other European empires. Three major campaigns defined the Victorian Empire, though one or more conflicts of small size were occuring in every single year between 1937-1901.
In 1853, the Russian Czar sent troops to protect Christians living within the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Eventually, parts were occupied by Russian forces and Turkey declared war. Britain, France, and Sardinia saw the blatant Russian expansion as a threat and joined the Turks in the Crimean War of 1854-1856. At the conclusion, the Russians were expelled from Sebastopol (temporarily) and the allies declared a victory. News, however, was picking up during this time and people at home learned of the horrific, appalling conditions which Allied forces suffered. Britain, always behind the times in terms of military science, had not only fought the war along obsolete Napoleonic lines, but with immensely poor supply. Britain lost 4,600 dead in battle, 13,000 wounded, and a stunning 17,500 died of disease. The Royal Sussex was not sent to the Crimea.
One year later in1857, Muslim and Hindu soldiers were outraged that Enfield cartridged had been greased with pig and cow fat (contrary to the traditions of the people), and were expected to bite open the paper in the loading process. They interpreted this logistical blunder as an attempt by the British to undermine their cultures and further subjugate them and used it to fuel their anti-British agenda. What happened was a series of army mutinies throughout India (though never as one, large, organized insurrection). The British East India Company was joined by nearly half of the British Army, including the Royal Sussex, in a lengthy, hard-fought campaign to restore order and secure India. The Mutiny finally came to a general end on June 20, 1858. At the conclusion of the Indian Mutiny, the British East India Company was dissolved and the British Raj was instituted, whereby direct British rule now existed through the person of the Viceroy. It also brought on the collapse of the Muslim Mughal Empire which had dominated much of India for centuries. "We could subdue the mutiny of 1857, formidable as it was, because it spread through only a part of the army, because people did not actively sympathize with it, and because it was possible to find native Indian races who would fight on our side. But the moment a mutiny is but threatened, which shall be no mere mutiny, but the expression of a universal feeling of nationality, at that moment all hope is at an end, as all desire should be at an end, of our preserving our Empire." -- Sir John Seeley.
The Boer War of 1900-1902 was the third and last major conflict to define Queen Victoria's reign. Three battalions of the Royal Sussex were sent along with the British Army in a poorly conducted attempt by the British to conquer the Dutch republics of the Transvaal and Orange Free State. Was resulted was to set a grim precident for future 20th and 21st Century wars. When the Boers had resorted to commando raids and guerilla tactics to defeat the technologically and numerically superior British, the frustrated British adopted a vicious scorched-earth policy to starve out the enemy and established concentration camps to detain the Boer population where many died of sickness and disease. Queen Victoria did not live to see the result of the Boer War, but along with her, also died the notion of civilized warfare in favor of total war. From South Africa, some 13 years later, the horrors of the Boer War would come to the Continent, magnified on an enormous industrialized scale, and bring about the ruin of all the great empires and many of Victoria's descendants royal courts of Europe.