When the Crimean War broke out he offered his services to the emperor Nicholas, by whom he was appointed general of the VI army corps in the Crimea. He commanded the corps in the battles of Alma and Inkerman. He retired in 1855 and died at Moscow, on March 18 1868.
Prince Mikhail Dmitrievich (1795–1861), brother of the last named, was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian troops which occupied Moldavia and Wallachia after the outbreak of the Crimean War. In 1854 he crossed the Danube and besieged Silistria, but was superseded in April by Prince Ivan Paskevich, who, however, resigned on June 8, when Gorchakov resumed the command.
In 1855 Gorchakov was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian forces in the Crimea in place of the disgraced Prince Menshikov. Gorchakov's defence of Sevastopol, and final retreat to the northern part of the town, which he continued to defend till peace was signed in Paris, were conducted with lack of energy. In 1856 he was appointed governor-general of Poland in succession to Prince Paskevich. He died at Warsaw on May 30 1861, and was buried, in accordance with his own wish, at Sevastopol.
Gorchakov was appointed Foreign Minister when the Crimean War was drawing to a close and represented the Tsar at the Paris Congress of 1856. His main objective was to restore Russia's international prestige after the bitter defeat. At first he steered the country towards an alliance with Napoleon III, but, rebuffed by the latter's support of the January Uprising, joined his archrival Otto von Bismarck in setting up the League of the Three Emperors. Following France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, Gorchakov succeeded in his long-term goal or revising the key clauses of the Paris Treaty, especially those containing Russia's interests in the Black Sea.
The aged chancellor was so disgusted by the modification of the Treaty of San Stefano at the Berlin Congress of 1878 that he laid down all his offices and settled into retirement. He died several years later.