The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a military event that occurred on the 25th of October, 1854. Lord Cardigan led a British light cavalry against Russian forces in the Battle of Balaclava, which resulted in a tragic number of deaths and causalities, with 110 men killed and 161 wounded. Lord Raglan, the commander of British forces during the Crimean War, had ‘intended to send the Light Brigade to prevent the Russians removing captured guns from overrun Turkish positions’. However, unfortunately as a result of poor miscommunication throughout the hierarchy of commanders, the Light Brigade was misdirected into a direct line of fire which no escape in which they were unprepared, meaning the brigade was forced to retreat immediately. The event, therefore, resulted in no war gains but ended up with a substantial number of British casualties, that could have been avoided.

The Light Brigade set off, led by Cardigan, and engaged with Russian forces at the end of the valley. The mass of guns and forces waiting for them offered mass panic, and the remaining troops were forced to retreat, realising their fatal mistake. Cardigan, the leader of the Brigade, became renowned for his role. Although when news of the tragic event first surfaced, Cardigan was renowned as a courageous and brave leader, it soon became common knowledge that he abandoned his troops. Cardigan rode forward, refusing to look behind and realise what was happening, took part in the fight, and then rode back up the valley alone, without bothering to find out what happened to the survivors or helping any of the wounded.

When Lord Cardigan returned home, he was greeted with mass recognition and hero status with his remaining brigade. News of the event in mass media provoked Victorian feelings of patriotism and pride, and the brigade was seen as brave heroes who sacrificed their lives for their country out of sheer courage. However, eventually, when news of the scandal and miscommunication spread, Lord Cardigan became detested by nineteenth-century society. Therefore, the event of the Charge of the Light Brigade highlighted the lack of technology available in the era and furthermore reinforced the strong feelings of patriotism that the Victorian’s held, strengthened by the sheer size of the British Empire.

The event of the Charge of the Light Brigade was most famously renowned for its role in literature, in which poet laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote a poem in 1854, named ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’.

From, The Victorian Blogger


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