The Charge of the Light Brigade
Publisher: Thought Audio
Date: October 2007
Duration: 0 hours 3 minutes
The Charge of the Light Brigade is a famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whose lines "Theirs not to reason why / Theirs but to do and die" have made the charge a symbol of warfare at its most reckless.
The actual cavalry charge, led by Lord Cardigan, was most possibly based on a misunderstood order which occurred during the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854 during the Crimean War. The command from the army commander Lord Raglan directed the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy and try to prevent them from carrying away the guns. It appears that the order was understood by Cardigan to refer to the mass of Russian guns at the end of the valley, when Raglan had in fact been referring to a set on the reverse slope of the hill forming the left side of the valley which were not visible from the view of the Light Brigade on the floor of the valley.
The brigade was not completely destroyed, but after regrouping, only 195 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." ("It is magnificent, but it is not war.")
The charge of the Light Brigade became a subject of considerable controversy and public dispute throughout England. It 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.