Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


This is coolbert:

"Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."

- - Tennyson.

Good program on TV last night. An episode from the “History Project”

In this case: “The Charge of the Light Brigade” is the subject. A TV program very well done.

No melodrama as would be seen in a Hollywood movie dealing with the same subject.

Errol Flynn [1930’s] and David Hemmings [1960’s] both starred in movies of the same title. But that was Hollywood, based to a certain extent on facts, but of course, with a lot of license as is the norm for the silver screen.

This particular “History Project” production is much more accurate and comports to what really “went down”. At least one would assume so!

British light cavalry unit in suicidal charge against Russian artillery during the Crimean War. At Balaclava. Catastrophic casualties and foolhardy heroism that was WELL RECEIVED BY THE SENTIMENTAL BRITISH VICTORIANS!! In death and defeat, the troops of the Light Brigade and their commander behaved gloriously and achieved everlasting fame!!

Major participants in the catastrophe were:

* Lord Raglan. Overall English commander. Aristocrat of advanced age, had only one arm, [had lost the other at Waterloo] Had not seen combat in forty years!

* Lord Lucan. Overall English cavalry commander. Aristocrat.

* Lord Cardigan. Commander of the Light Brigade. Playboy. One of the richest men in England. Aristocrat. Brother-in-law of Lord Lucan, BUT NOT ON SPEAKING TERMS WITH HIS IMMEDIATE COMMANDER!!

* Captain Nolan. Cavalry advisor to Lord Raglan. Impetuous professional soldier and advocate of massed cavalry charges.

Observations regarding the “Charge”.

* The Crimea consists of treeless, arid, short-grass steppe-land. Excellent terrain for using cavalry. In this regard, Lord Raglan, standing on high ground, could see the entire battlefield at a single glance, as would a commander of the Napoleonic era.

* The Light Brigade DID run a gauntlet of Russian cannon. The Russians cannoneers employing solid shot, shrapnel, and canister as appropriate. Strangely enough, solid shot was [“pitched”] BOUNCED on the ground toward the approaching English horsemen. Solid shot striking the ground at a grazing angle and behaving as if it was a rubber ball!!

* Roughly six hundred horsemen charged the Russian guns. Tactical success WAS achieved, the guns [a battery of eight cannon] being captured. Counter-attack by Cossacks and a lack of support compelled the Light Brigade to withdraw, leaving about half of the brigade casualties.

Lord Cardigan HAD SPENT THE NIGHT PREVIOUS TO THE ATTACK ABOARD HIS PERSONAL YACHT HE HAD BROUGHT TO THE CRIMEA FOR HIS OWN PLEASURE WHEN “OFF DUTY”. Recall my recent blog entry on the amount of baggage by regulation a British officer was allowed to bring with him while on campaign! [“rank hath its privileges”]

It WAS the intention of Lord Raglan for the Light Brigade to attack at Balaclava! But NOT to run a gauntlet of Russian artillery and be annihilated! Attack and “charge” a Russian force that was carrying off CAPTURED ENGLISH ARTILLERY! English cannon captured by the Russians during an engagement fought earlier that very same day!

So! The disaster of the Light Brigade at Balaclava was MERELY the result of a miscommunication!? Imprecise and inexact orders!? AND allegedly, perhaps, a deliberate and willful misdirection by that impetuous cavalry officer, Captain Nolan? The truth will NEVER be known with exact certitude.




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