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Charge Of The Light Brigade

Updated on September 12, 2015

The Charge Of The Light Brigade was a heroic incident in the Battle of Balaklava in the Crimean War. The charge took place on October 25, 1854. During the siege of Sevastopol a Russian force attacked the British wing of the Allied army, whose supply base was the small seaport of Balaklava. The main attack by General Ryzhov's cavalry division was checked by the well-directed uphill charge of General Sir James Y. Scarlett's Heavy Brigade- which was outnumbered four to one by the Russians.

At the beginning of the action some Turkish batteries commanding a valley between two ridges had been overrun by the Russians. Lord Raglan, the British commander in chief, ordered that the guns be retaken, but faulty reconnaissance and muddled orders resulted in the launching of the Light Brigade of Lord Cardigan in a frontal instead of a flanking attack. The doomed squadrons, raked by head-on fire as well as cannon and infantry fire from the flanking ridges, actually rode down the Russian gunners. But the charge was not supported, and less than a third of the light brigade rode back, covered by the intervention of Algerian infantry.

Of the 673 cavalrymen in the attack, only 195 answered the next muster, but many were absent because their horses were casualties. There were actually 113 killed and 134 wounded; 475 horses were killed.

Alfred Lord Tennyson's ballad The Charge of the Light Brigade immortalized the action.


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