Charge of the Light Brigade

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HISTORY ESSAY

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
Who was to blame for the charge of the Light Brigade?

THE BACKGROUND

One of the most famous events of early modern warfare, The Charge of the Light Brigade is something that although most people have heard of, very little know of the true events and happenings of The Charge.

It was on October the 25th 1854, during the Crimean War; (October 1853 – February 1856) a three year-long confrontation between the Russian Empire and the eventual large grouped alliance of those of the British Empire, which at the point of Victoria’s reign included Britain itself, Canada, India, Cape Colony, Malaya, Australia sections of Africa and Asia, New Zealand and a notable amount of smaller islands, including the Caribbean. The coalition force also included the French Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Sardinian kingdom.

The war somewhat began when Russia attacked and attempted to take over Turkey, and many of the Empires that would eventually be involved in the opposing unison force to the Russians; namely the British and the French, saw this as a mammoth threat; for if Russia was to break through Turkey and gain access to the Mediterranean, Russia’s growth and expansion coupled with its highly proficient armed forces would be a great menace to all other Empires and countries. What could be seen as somewhat masking their true intentions of preserving the delicate intricacies of control and power, Britain decided to support Turkey and war was declared upon Russia. Russia itself was too immense a prospect to out rightly invade, even with the substantial forces gathered, so the British and French plotted to pick off, bit by bit, Russia’s invading services, such as their fleets, to destroy the threat of invasion to Turkey.

Later, in September 1854, British and French Forces marched southwards upon the Crimean coast with the plan of capturing and taking charge of the Crimean Port of Sebastopol (Sevastopol), but arrived to find the port was well fortified and again, too large a task to take up without any significant losses or a possibility of failure – deciding instead to put up a long-standing siege, which is seen by most as one of the deciding mistakes of the War.

It was not long before the Russians retreated within their fortified port and then launched attacks on the surrounding encampments of the British and French allied troops.

This is where the tale of the Charge begins.

The Russians attempted to capture the British supply base of the harbour of Balaclava in October 1854, but failed. Another significant event of the time was what we now refer to as the Thin Red Line, upon which an assemblage of Russian cavalry attempted to seize the harbour but retreated when opposed by the 93rd Highlanders, (The Thin Red Line) a British infantry unit led by General Scarlett and the 600 man strong Heavy Brigade. But in spite of the failure to capture the harbour, the Russians did manage to forcibly require the British-Turkish operated guns on the Causeway Heights and made to take them back to their own positions. It is important to point out that to have one’s guns captured by the enemy was seen as a great dishonour – part of the reason the Charge of the Light Brigade occurred.

THE CHARGE

Three of the main characters of the Charge of the Light Brigade – Lord Raglan, Lord Cardigan and Lord Lucan (left to right).

Three of the main people attached to the blame for the Charge were three of the lords who held positions of military leadership, and a young Captain – Nolan, acting as Raglan’s messengers. Lord Raglan, Commander in Chief, known for being rather unclear and vague in his orders, was a man who had came to a position of power due to his long active life and having outlived all those whom he had served with, despite not having seen war since his early years.

Coming to a position of military control and command simply owing to either paying your way...
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