Battle of Balaklava 25th October 1854

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Ozgerbobble, Oct 25, 2004.

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  1. Hard to believe it was 150 years ago.....................

    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.

    'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
    Was there a man dismayed?
    Not though the soldier knew
    Some one had blundered:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them
    Cannon in front of them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the six hundred.

    Flashed all their sabres bare,
    Flashed as they turned in air
    Sabring the gunners there,
    Charging an army, while
    All the world wondered:
    Plunged in the battery-smoke
    Right through the line they broke;
    Cossack and Russian
    Reeled from the sabre-stroke
    Shattered and sundered.
    Then they rode back, but not
    Not the six hundred.

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them
    Volleyed and thundered;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    While horse and hero fell,
    They that had fought so well
    Came through the jaws of Death,
    Back from the mouth of Hell,
    All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.

    When can their glory fade?
    O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wondered.
    Honour the charge they made!
    Honour the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred!

    Alfred Lord Tennyson

    RIP brave lads one and all.....and for all those enjoying a splash of gunfire tea today ...get it down you !!
  2. Funny how we remember the Light Brigade and overlook the Heavy Brigade charge which was a success. (Not that I'm knocking the Light Brigade)

    Anything to do with the Heavy brigade charge being mainly Scots Greys and Inniskillens do you think? And no, I'm not a celt.

    Yes, RIP brave lads. To think the modern day bean counting *rseholes would have all these cap badges merged into one super cap badge.


    October 25, 1854


    The charge of the gallant three hundred, the Heavy Brigade!
    Down the hill, down the hill, thousands of Russians,
    Thousands of horsemen, drew to the valley–and stay’d;
    For Scarlett and Scarlett’s three hundred were riding by
    When the points of the Russian lances arose in the sky;
    And he call’d, ‘Left wheel into line!’ and they wheel’d and obey’d.
    Then he look’d at the host that had halted he knew not why,
    And he turn’d half round, and he bade his trumpeter sound
    To the charge, and he rode on ahead, as he waved his blade
    To the gallant three hundred whose glory will never die–
    ‘Follow,’ and up the hill, up the hill, up the hill,
    Follow’d the Heavy Brigade.


    The trumpet, the gallop, the charge, and the might of the fight!
    Thousands of horsemen had gather’d there on the height,
    With a wing push’d out to the left and a wing to the right,
    And who shall escape if they close? but he dash’d up alone
    Thro’ the great gray slope of men,
    Sway’d his sabre, and held his own
    Like an Englishman there and then.
    All in a moment follow’d with force
    Three that were next in their fiery course,
    Wedged themselves in between horse and horse,
    Fought for their lives in the narrow gap they had made–
    Four amid thousands! and up the hill, up the hill,
    Gallopt the gallant three hundred, the Heavy Brigade.


    Fell like a cannon-shot,
    Burst like a thunderbolt,
    Crash’d like a hurricane,
    Broke thro’ the mass from below,
    Drove thro’ the midst of the foe,
    Plunged up and down, to and fro,
    Rode flashing blow upon blow,
    Brave Inniskillens and Greys
    Whirling their sabres in circles of light!
    And some of us, all in amaze,
    Who were held for a while from the fight,
    And were only standing at gaze,
    When the dark-muffled Russian crowd
    Folded its wings from the left and the right,
    And roll’d them around like a cloud,–
    O, mad for the charge and the battle were we,
    When our own good redcoats sank from sight,
    Like drops of blood in a dark-gray sea,
    And we turn’d to each other, whispering, all dismay’d,
    ‘Lost are the gallant three hundred of Scarlett’s Brigade!’


    ‘Lost one and all’ were the words
    Mutter’d in our dismay;
    But they rode like victors and lords
    Thro’ the forest of lances and swords
    In the heart of the Russian hordes,
    They rode, or they stood at bay–
    Struck with the sword-hand and slew,
    Down with the bridle-hand drew
    The foe from the saddle and threw
    Underfoot there in the fray–
    Ranged like a storm or stood like a rock
    In the wave of a stormy day;
    Till suddenly shock upon shock
    Stagger’d the mass from without,
    Drove it in wild disarray,
    For our men gallopt up with a cheer and a shout,
    And the foeman surged, and waver’d, and reel’d
    Up the hill, up the hill, up the hill, out of the field,
    And over the brow and away.


    Glory to each and to all, and the charge that they made!
    Glory to all the three hundred, and all the Brigade!

    Note.–The ‘three hundred’ of the ‘Heavy Brigade’ who made
    this famous charge were the Scots Greys and the 2d squadron
    of Inniskillens; the remainder of the ‘Heavy Brigade’ subsequently
    dashing up to their support.
    The ‘three’ were Scarlett’s aide-de-camp, Elliot, and the trumpeter,
    and Shegog the orderly, who had been close behind him.
  3. and lets not forget the 'thin red line' of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (or 93rd foot as they were then). All on the same day.

    Also the anniversary of Agincourt. Back in the good old days of state sponsored Frog beating!
  4. Is it any harm to ask why there do not appear to have been any documentaries or even showings of some of the 'Light Brigade' films on television, not to mention radio programmes? (granted, I may have missed something). Bad show really. No doubt this episode has been deemed to be 'at odds with modern day values' (God help us).
  5. Heard Lord cardigan (sp?) on Radio 4 this morning: he was planning to walk the route.


    Now that gave me goosebumps.
  6. I heard a theory that the Light Brigade action was not the fiasco it has been widely assumed to be, because the missing horses were counted rather than the riders.

    Any thoughts? I believe that the Russians got their own guns back which were not the intended target in any case - abandoned Turkish guns.

    Whatever the sense of the action, it stands alongside that of the the few hundred Spartans at Thermopylae.

    The Turks apparently get a bad press in the "accepted" version of the history of Balaklava - like the "natives" depicted doing a runner in the film "Zulu" - when in fact they apparently fought with outstanding bravery.
  7. Did the Duke of Edinburgh try to have a "quiet word" with Harry?

    From the BBC website:

  8. The Crimean war makes for depressingly familiar reading as far as the powers that be go. :roll:
  9. Ah yes the Argyle and Bolton Wanderers...............the smudge of red tipped with steel

    Unfortunately the frogs were on our side at Balaklava. Not sure if that was a blessing or a curse :wink:
  10. I've heard a very crackly remastered recording of THE bugler who sounded the advance on THE bugle. That was spooky 8O
  11. The whole thing is a classic of spin. Each player touted his own version of events and in the years since the myths have become accepted as truth.

    The Turks stood their ground and did not do a runner despite ferocious and murderous artillery barrages

    Cavalry had taken guns despite the high cost and subsequent investigations have suggested thatNolan my have deliberately pointed them in the direction of the guns to prove his theory that cavalry could charge guns successfully 8O He was smashed out of his saddle before they broke into the charge
  12. The controversy that arose almost immediately after the charge lasted for some years. Among other things, it became widely accepted that Lord Cardigan was not even present at the charge, allegedly being on his yacht.

    Exactly what Capt. Lew Nolan was trying to do at the start of the charge remains unclear. One theory has it that he was trying to redirect the brigade's advance, having realised that the order he had conveyed had been misunderstood. Another has it that he was simply an utter cavalry fanatic, which appears to have been somewhat the contemporary view.

    At the charge itself the Light Brigade was some 673 strong, of which 195 officers and troopers were killed during the engagement. About 500 horses were killed. Therefore, somewhere in the region of 28% of the attacking force were killed. Added to this are those cavalrymen captured or wounded, and a figure of 35 - 40% casualties/losses is probably a reasonable figure.

    Since the charge - misdirected though it was - reached and seized its objective, namely the Russian battery, can it therefore be said to have failed? As a cavalry charge in the mid-19th century it was a success. Tactically it achieved little, apart from perhaps making the Russians wary of British cavalry. The reason the charge has received the level of attention it has - both at the time and since - is because it was quite obvious to those there that it was a colossal error. It was for many the embodiement of the catalogue of blunders that characterised the conduct of the Crimean campaign. The British public were kept aware of what was happening throug the uncensored reporting of such journalists as William Howard Russell of The Times. I do not think it was the series of blunders beforehand nor the charge itself that are the cause of the status this episode has received, but the fact that people became aware of it.

    The following article from yesterday's Irish Times may interest people (I have highlighted particular points):

    The Valley of Death

    A fifth of the cavalrymen in the Charge of the Light Brigade, 150 years ago today, were Irish. David Murphy remembers their efforts.

    Most people now remember the Crimean War only for the medical mission of Florence Nightingale or the disastrous charge, 150 years ago today, of the Light Brigade. More than 660 men, 114 of them Irish, took part in the Battle of Balaclava's foolhardy cavalry charge. When the roll was taken after their ride through the Valley of Death, later commemorated in Tennyson's epic poem, at least 21 of the Irishmen were dead; others were "missing", wounded or captured.

    In 1854 Irish soldiers made up about a third of the British army; it is estimated that more than 30,000 served in the Crimea, a peninsula between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, in southern Ukraine. This was the first war in which the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest medal for bravery, was awarded; Irish-born soldiers and seamen won 28. Master's Mate Charles Davis Lucas, from Poyntzpass, in Co Armagh, was awarded the first Victoria Cross, for throwing overboard a live shell that landed on the deck of HMS Hecla during a bombardment of the Bomarsund fortress, in the Baltic, in June 1854.

    Many Irish civilians were also in the Crimea. When the war broke out a call was made for volunteers for the supply service (the Commissariat) and the medical services. Several Irish doctors offered to work in hospitals in Scutari, in Istanbul, where Nightingale was based, and Balaclava; Irish nurses and nursing sisters worked in them too. Several priests, including two Dublin-based Jesuits, Father William Ronan and Father Patrick Duffy, also served in the Crimea, to help alleviate a lack of Roman Catholic chaplains. Irish engineers and navvies built roads and railways on the Crimean peninsula, led by two Irish chief engineers, William Doyne and James Beatty.

    One of the most unusual aspects of Irish civilian involvement was the participation of members of the Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police, who worked as military police with the Mounted Staff Corps and with the Commissariat. Hundreds of Irishwomen also travelled to the Crimea, as each regiment allowed a small number of wives to accompany their husbands. They washed and cooked for the men and, after each battle, helped with the wounded.

    The Crimean War was the first conflict to be covered by war correspondents, the most prominent being the Dublin-born William Howard Russell. It is unique in the history of war reporting, as the correspondents operated without censorship. Russell's reports in the London Times, which often told of shambolic supply and medical systems, resulted in severe public criticism for Lord Aberdeen's administration and for military commanders.

    For the first time the public was given regular information on the management, or in this case mismanagement, of a war. Russell's despatches destroyed the reputation of the British commander, Lord Raglan, and played a part in the fall of Lord Aberdeen's administration, in January 1855. Among the few war correspondents in the Crimea were two other Irishmen: Edwin Lawrence Godkin, born in Moyne in Co Wicklow, and James Carlile McCoan, born in Dunlow, in Co Tyrone. Both wrote for the Daily News.

    Irish families followed the war with great interest, as many had relations serving in the Crimea. There were street celebrations every time the newspapers reported a success. When the south side of the city of Sebastapol, home to a key naval base, was captured, in September 1855, there were celebrations around Ireland. These were repeated when an armistice was signed in Paris in February 1856.

    Perhaps the most extravagant public celebration was the Grand Crimean Banquet held in Dublin in 1856. On October 22nd that year 4,000 veterans of the war and 1,000 members of the public gathered in Stack A at Custom House Docks for what must have been the largest formal dinner in Ireland. The guests ate three tons of potatoes, 250 hams, 200 turkeys, 200 geese and 250 joints of beef. Each soldier was given a quart of porter and a pint of port or sherry. Such a conspicuous display seems incredible: just 10 years earlier Ireland was being ravaged by famine.

    We still have physical reminders of the war, in the shape of monuments and even trophy guns. More than 20 Russian cannons were placed around Ireland after the war, including on the steps of the courthouse in Tralee and on the East Pier in Dún Laoghaire.

    Yet although the government hailed the end of the war as a great victory, the Irish had become fully aware of the inadequacies of the army's commanders and organisation. Most of the British army's 21,097 deaths had been caused by disease; only 4,774 soldiers were killed in action or died of wounds. Irish names feature prominently on the casualty lists, more than 7,000 Irishmen dying during the campaign.

    Towards the end of the war Irish newspaper reports began to sound war weary, as it became increasingly obvious that thousands of Irishmen had paid for the army's lack of organisation with their lives. Many communities, urban and rural, had been destroyed. The parish of Whitegate in Cork, for example, lost 110 men. Thousands of casualties also returned to Ireland, in many cases to be cared for by their families. In others they were reduced to begging.

    The Crimean War was, therefore, more than a footnote in our history: from an Irish perspective it was one of the most important and traumatic events of the 19th century.

    David Murphy is author of Ireland And The Crimean War, published by Four Courts Press, €19.95.

    The charge of the Heavy Brigade

    The charge of the Heavy Brigade during the Crimean War of 1854-6 was successful but tends to be forgotten. Its leader, General James Yorke Scarlett, is buried at Holme Chapel near Burnley, Lancashire, and some of his weapons are in the local museum, Towneley Hall. In the charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaklava, 600 men led by Scarlett routed around 2,000 of the Russian cavalry. Casualty figures were very low and the Russians in the end did not follow up the disaster which later that day - 25 October 1854 - befell the Light Brigade.

    The British and French forces had begun the siege of Sebastopol on 17 October, and the attack on the British-held port of Balaklava was part of the Russian attempt to relieve the siege. There were three main actions in the Battle of Balaklava: the unsuccessful Russian cavalry charge against the 'thin red line' of British Highlanders, the successful charge of the British Heavy Brigade into the Russian cavalry, and the disastrous charge of the British Light Brigade. Julian Humphries of the National Army Museum explained that the Heavy Brigade was a grouping of cavalry units. It had six squadrons from the Royal Scots Greys, the Inniskilling Dragoons and the Dragoon Guards. The job of the Heavy Brigade was to smash through enemy lines and that is what they achieved.

    North of Balaklava harbour is a ridge of hills, the Causeway Heights. These were defended by Turkish soldiers in six redoubts. On the morning of 25 October a huge Russian force attacked the Turks. Initially the attack was successful, the Russians captured some redoubts and pressed on. However, they were held up by the 93rd Highlanders under the command of Sir Colin Campbell. William Howard Russell, the Times correspondent described them as a 'thin red streak tipped with a line of steel' - later shortened to 'the thin red line'. The Highlanders drove off the Russian cavalry on their front, but 2,000 or so Russians came down the hill towards the British headquarters and the Heavy Brigade with its 600 men. Although heavily outnumbered, the Heavy Brigade made a charge uphill 8O and within a matter of minutes had cut their way through the Russian forces who turned and fled.

    Sir James Yorke Scarlett was the hero of the hour. He had been in the thick of the action and survived it with little more than a dented brass helmet. After the war he was made Adjutant-General and then Commander of the Aldershot Garrison. Later he moved to Lancashire where his wife's family lived. He became involved, not very successfully, in politics - he stood for Parliament but was beaten by the Liberal candidate. General Scarlett died in 1871, aged 72, and is buried in the churchyard at Holme Chapel. There is a story that his ghost, on horseback, rides in the grounds of his old home in what is now Thompson Park.

    Tennyson wrote a poem about the Charge of the Heavy Brigade, as he had with the Charge of the Light Brigade. It was published 7 years after Scarlett's death.
  14. Gallowglass wrote:

    Perhaps this (erroneous) story of military leadership inspired TCH!