Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava by William Simpson (1855), illustrating the Light Brigade's charge into the "Valley of Death" from the Russian perspective

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 in the Crimean War. Lord Raglan, overall commander, had intended to send the Light Brigade to pursue and harry a retreating Russian artillery battery near the front line, a task well suited to light cavalry. Due to miscommunication at some level in the chain of command, the sabre-armed Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault into a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire. Although reaching the battery under withering direct fire and scattering some of the gunners, the badly mauled brigade was forced to retreat immediately, producing no decisive gains and very high British casualties. It is best remembered as the subject of the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whose lines emphasize the valor of the cavalry in carrying out their orders. Blame for the miscommunication has remained controversial, as the original order from Raglan itself was vague.

“Commenced raining soon after midnight and rained until nearly nine this morning quite hard.  And another hard shower about noon.  I husked corn until half past four and cleared out the barn.  Then we picked up what we had and drew it to the crib. About 45 bu. And about 10 or 12 soft corn besides.”

“I commenced picking up a load of potatoes about 9 o’clock.  Got my load picked up about 2 o’clock and took them up and we picked up another load.  Has looked like rain some but no rain today.”

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