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Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Charge of the Light Brigade

The  Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry against Russian forces on October 25, 1854. It was made by the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, under the command of Major General the Earl of Cardigan during the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854.

The Battle of Balaclava was a battle during the Crimean War fought by an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the French Empire, and the United Kingdom against the Russian Empire. The battle ended with a Russian victory.

Casualty figures vary but at least 664 men took part in the Charge with at least 110 killed.
The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava by William Simpson (1855)

The Russians initially thought the Light Brigade troopers were drunk to charge as they did. They were amazed to find them sober.

After the Charge, flocks of vultures collected to feed on the corpses of soldiers and horses.

Tennyson composed his poem of the same name while walking near his Isle of Wight home after reading a newspaper report of the carnage three weeks later.

Tennyson's poem ensured that a disastrous event would actually achieve legendary status. Generations of children memorized it in school.

The woolen jacket worn by Cardigan in the Crimea became known as a cardigan, while Raglan gave his name to a type of sleeve.

Marechal Bosquet (1810-1861) said of the Charge of the Light Brigade, “C’est magnifique-mais ce n’est pas la guerre”. (It is magnificent but it is not war).

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