Into the Valley of Death


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I think that every man who was engaged in that disastrous affair at Balaklava, and who was fortunate enough to come out of it alive, must feel that it was only by a merciful decree of Almighty Providence that he escaped from the greatest apparent certainty of death which could possibly be conceived. A newspaper report on 11 December [13] [14] revealed another version of what happened when a letter was found in the British Library, written by Lieutenant Frederick Maxse who was on Lord Raglan's staff at Balaklava.

It said that Lord Raglan had sent an order for the Light Brigade to "follow the enemy and try to prevent the enemy from carrying away the guns", referring to some British artillery which were at risk. Raglan sent the order with 36 year-old Captain Louis Nolan , who passed it on to Lucan orally instead of handing over the written orders.

He said, "There, my lord, is your enemy! There are your guns! Nolan's version of the order and accompanying gesture were misunderstood, causing the disaster described above. Nolan rode with the charge and died in it. Maxse's letter said that Nolan was annoyed at how little the Light Brigade had done previously, and that he was angry against Lucan. Nigel Kingscote was another of Raglan's staff officers, and he agreed that the fault was Nolan's and said that Nolan would have been "broke by court martial" if he had survived.

The brigade was not completely destroyed, but did suffer terribly, with men killed, wounded, and about 60 taken prisoner. After regrouping, only men were still with horses. The futility of the action and its reckless bravery prompted the French Marshal Pierre Bosquet to state: " C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre.

He detailed casualty numbers but did not distinguish between those killed and those taken prisoner:. It has since been ascertained that the Russians made a good many prisoners; the exact number is not yet known. The reputation of the British cavalry was significantly enhanced as a result of the charge, though the same cannot be said for their commanders.

Slow communications meant that news of the disaster did not reach the British public until three weeks after the action. The British commanders' dispatches from the front were published in an extraordinary edition of the London Gazette of 12 November Raglan blamed Lucan for the charge, claiming that "from some misconception of the order to advance, the Lieutenant-General Lucan considered that he was bound to attack at all hazards, and he accordingly ordered Major-General the Earl of Cardigan to move forward with the Light Brigade.

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Cardigan, who had merely obeyed orders, blamed Lucan for giving those orders. He returned home a hero and was promoted to Inspector General of the Cavalry. Lucan attempted to publish a letter refuting point by point Raglan's London Gazette dispatch, but his criticism of his superior was not tolerated, and Lucan was recalled to England in March The Charge of the Light Brigade became a subject of considerable controversy and public dispute on his return.

He strongly rejected Raglan's version of events, calling it "an imputation reflecting seriously on my professional character. Lucan subsequently defended himself with a speech in the House of Lords on 19 March. Lucan evidently escaped blame for the charge, as he was made a member of the Order of the Bath in July of that same year. Although he never again saw active duty, he reached the rank of general in and was made a field marshal in the year before his death.

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The charge continues to be studied by modern military historians and students as an example of what can go wrong when accurate military intelligence is lacking and orders are unclear. Prime Minister Winston Churchill , who was a keen military historian and a former cavalryman, insisted on taking time out during the Yalta Conference in to see the battlefield for himself. One research project used a mathematical model to examine how the charge might have turned out if conducted differently. The analysis suggested that a charge toward the redoubt on the Causeway Heights, as Raglan had apparently intended, would have led to even higher British casualties.

By contrast, the charge might have succeeded if the Heavy Brigade had accompanied the Light Brigade along the valley, as Lucan had initially directed. According to Norman Dixon, 19th-century accounts of the charge tended to focus on the bravery and glory of the cavalrymen, much more than the military blunders involved, with the perverse effect that it "did much to strengthen those very forms of tradition which put such an incapacitating stranglehold on military endeavor for the next eighty or so years," i.

The fate of the surviving members of the charge was investigated by Edward James Boys , a military historian, who documented their lives from leaving the army to their deaths. His records are described as being the most definitive project of its kind ever undertaken. In October , survivors of the charge met at the Alexandra Palace in London to celebrate its 21st anniversary.

The celebrations were fully reported in the Illustrated London News of 30 October , [22] which included the recollections of several of the survivors, including those of Edward Richard Woodham , the Chairman of the Committee that organised the celebration. Tennyson was invited, but could not attend. Lucan, the senior commander surviving, was not present, but attended a separate celebration, held later in the day, with other senior officers at the fashionable Willis's Rooms, St James's Square.

On 2 August , trumpeter Martin Leonard Landfried, from the 17th Lancers, who may or may not [25] have sounded the bugle charge at Balaclava, made a recording on an Edison cylinder that can be heard here , with a bugle which had been used at Waterloo in In , on the th anniversary of the charge, a commemoration of the event was held at Balaklava. As part of the anniversary, a monument dedicated to the 25, British participants of the conflict was unveiled by Prince Michael of Kent.

A survivor, John Penn, who died in Dunbar in , left a personal account of his military career, including the Charge, written for a friend.

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This survives and is held by East Lothian Council Archives. A number of individuals who died during —17 were thought to be the 'last' survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade. For example, Sergeant James A. Mustard of the 17th Lancers, aged 85, had his funeral with military honours at Twickenham in early February In the Abergavenny Chronicle news report published on 11 February it was stated:.

He was one of thirty-eight men of the of the 17th Lancers that came out of the charge led by Cardigan, and was always of the opinion that no one sounded the charge at all. He was in the battles of Alma and Mackenzie's Farm, and the storming and taking of Sebastopol, and before leaving for Varna marched with his regiment from Hampton Court to Portsmouth. Hayes Fisher, M. His name was Thomas Warr. The last survivor was Edwin Hughes of the 13th Light Dragoons, who died on the 18th May , aged Tennyson's poem, written 2 December and published on 9 December , in The Examiner , praises the Brigade "When can their glory fade?

O the wild charge they made! Charging an army, while all the world wonder'd". Tennyson wrote the poem inside only a few minutes after reading an account of the battle in The Times , according to his grandson Sir Charles Tennyson. It immediately became hugely popular, and even reached the troops in the Crimea, where it was distributed in pamphlet form.

Nearly 36 years later Kipling wrote " The Last of the Light Brigade " , commemorating a visit by the last 20 survivors to Tennyson then aged 80 to reproach him gently for not writing a sequel about the way in which England was treating its old soldiers. See also Back to the Army Again for a poem by Rudyard Kipling about a discharged soldier who re-joins the army under a false name as the only way to get away from long-term unemployment.


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the military manoeuvre. For the poem, see The Charge of the Light Brigade poem. For other uses, see Charge of the Light Brigade disambiguation. United Kingdom. James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Main article: The Charge of the Light Brigade poem. The Charge of the Light Brigade. The Reason Why. The Times InfoDial Ltd. Lord Tredegar Interviewed". Retrieved 14 November History of war. Retrieved 29 December London: John Murray. The London Gazette. Historical Methods. On the Psychology of Military Incompetence. London: Jonathan Cape. Boys Archive online". Retrieved 24 August Illustrated London News.

Shoreham Fort. Friends of Shoreham Fort. Retrieved 3 May Later Landfried became famous as the man who sounded the charge of the Light Brigade but it is not clear whether this was his responsibility or not.

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Taking part in the charge were 17 men listed as trumpeters on the muster rolls Internet Archive. He left the army in [ The recording was made and distributed by the Light Brigade Relief Fund. The aim was to benefit the remaining veterans and inform the public about the bad times some of them had fallen on.

Landfried's name is misspelled as "Landfrey" at the beginning of the annotations to the recording; and the annotations refer to the instrument as a trumpet, but Landfried twice calls it a bugle.

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