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Old November 6th, 2012, 07:09 AM   #1

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Death Ride, the Charge of the Light Brigade


A famous event of the Crimean war, the destruction of 3 regiments of Britains finest cavalry, Accident or deliberate ?
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Old November 6th, 2012, 07:16 AM   #2

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A famous event of the Crimean war, the destruction of 3 regiments of Britains finest cavalry, Accident or deliberate ?
Accidental. Although a string of miscommunications caused the Brigade to set off, with Captain Louis Nolan's vague gestures while relaying Raglan's orders to capture the guns leading Cardigan to believe that the guns in question were the only ones he could see, at the end of the valley, Nolan himself was seemingly trying to correct the charge by riding to its head to clarify the orders.

However, he was killed by shrapnel before he could do so. I don't think he planned that.

Incidently, the brigade comprised elements from 5 different regiments (4th, 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers and 8th and 11th Hussars).
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Old November 6th, 2012, 07:20 AM   #3

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Accidental. Although a string of miscommunications caused the Brigade to set off, with Captain Louis Nolan's vague gestures while relaying Raglan's orders to capture the guns leading Cardigan to believe that the guns in question were the only ones he could see, at the end of the valley, Nolan himself was seemingly trying to correct the charge by riding to its head to clarify the orders.

However, he was killed by shrapnel before he could do so. I don't think he planned that.
Some histories blame Cardigan as arrogant and ignorant, and the resulting devastation as his fault, what are your views?
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Old November 6th, 2012, 07:32 AM   #4

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Some histories blame Cardigan as arrogant and ignorant, and the resulting devastation as his fault, what are your views?
I think Cardigan was anxious to prove what the Light Brigade could do but this applies far more to Nolan, who had written a book on cavalry tactics.

His hot-headedness might have led him to not question the orders as closely as he should have done, but ultimately, he did receive orders to stop the guns from being taken away, and he did as he was told. He may also not have wanted Lucan (in command of the Heavy Brigade) to get one over him, as they couldn't stand each other.

I can't set too much blame on Cardigan - he thought he was following orders.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 07:47 AM   #5

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Accidental. Although a string of miscommunications caused the Brigade to set off, with Captain Louis Nolan's vague gestures while relaying Raglan's orders to capture the guns leading Cardigan to believe that the guns in question were the only ones he could see, at the end of the valley, Nolan himself was seemingly trying to correct the charge by riding to its head to clarify the orders.

However, he was killed by shrapnel before he could do so. I don't think he planned that.

Incidently, the brigade comprised elements from 5 different regiments (4th, 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers and 8th and 11th Hussars).
Yes, you are correct, some regiments suffering more casualties than others. It would seem that the misadventure was purely a mistake through a combination of erronious misinterpretation of orders.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 08:12 AM   #6

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Scarlett Commanded the Heavy Brigade while Lucan was in Command of the Cavalry ie The Light and Heavy Brigades.

Raglan issued a poorly worded order that was misinterpreted by Lucan and Cardigan (who hated each other) to be fair Cardigan questioned the orders at this point Lucan as the senior should have asked for clarification but instead told Cardigan to obey orders, which he did.

The Light Brigade Charged into the Valley of Death.


As this was going on in the Guard a tent trooper Veigh fom Donegal woke with a hangover, h
, ‘Butcher Jack’ as he was known usually a hard drinking illiterate ‘old sweat’ from Donegal volunteered to butcher the cattle for the regiment
. A few steaks would go astray and swapped for ‘grog’ from the local sutler . Vahey and his mate , Paddy Heffernan of the Royals ,then got drunk and woke in the guard tent. There was no guard as he had joined their regiment about to charge . After a swift ‘hair of the dog’ Vahey decides that he must join ‘the lads’ in the attack. At that moment a rider less Russian officer’s horse comes by sticky with the blood of the previous rider; he also grabs the only weapon he can find a large axe used to slaughter the cattle and rides to rejoin the Lancers.

He joins a formation of cavalry but a sergeant comes over and abuses him for being a ‘filthy drunken Irishman who isn’t in his regiment’.
Butcher Jack takes offence at this until it’s pointed out to him that he is still in his apron and clothes used to butcher the cattle, he is filthy. He reeks of rum ,no doubt due to his thick Donegal accent he’s Irish and he’s asked to look around him
‘Whys you lot wearing Red?’ , it’s not his regiment off Butcher Jack sets for the Lancers who are about to charge shouting ‘Hang on lad wait for me!’ .

John Vahey charges into the’ valley of death’ slightly behind his regiment that may well have saved him but he has caught up with them by the time they reach the guns. Enraged by seeing so many of his friends dead in the valley the big blood-soaked Irishman goes berserk with his axe hacking into the midst of the counter attacking Russian cavalry.


His time comes to escape and he falls in with a young English trooper from another regiment. They evade Russian cavalry but are then chased by Cossacks, with a cry the young Englishman’s mount is shot from under him. Butcher Jack is able to escape but he turns to see the young Englishman bravely standing facing his death, “Jesus even I ‘ad a mother once”
Hhe turns his horses and yelling the best curses Donegal can muster charges the Cossacks. They check for a moment allowing the young trooper to grab the horse’s neck and make a run for it.
The game Russian horse was able to carry both of them away from the pursuers (good horse flesh that must have come from Meath).

Jack makes it back to the British lines and goes off to finish off his rum, in need of a drink after all that excitement and to tell Paddy about his adventures and a drinking session that lasts three days.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 08:19 AM   #7

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Scarlett of the Heavies was a bit mad as well. Apparently, he was so short-sighted, he could barely make out his own men right in front of his horse, and that may have contributed to his decision to advance, because he couldn't see the Russians. He also held off the charge of the Heavy Brigade (which happened earlier on the same day as the Charge of the Light Brigade) until his men were in absolutely perfect parade ground order, despite Lucan sounding the charge.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 08:27 AM   #8

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A famous event of the Crimean war, the destruction of 3 regiments of Britains finest cavalry, Accident or deliberate ?

Incompetence. Lucan and Cardiagan were barely speaking.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 08:28 AM   #9

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Scarlett of the Heavies was a bit mad as well. Apparently, he was so short-sighted, he could barely make out his own men right in front of his horse, and that may have contributed to his decision to advance, because he couldn't see the Russians. He also held off the charge of the Heavy Brigade until his men were in absolutely perfect parade ground order, despite Lucan sounding the charge.

Perhaps but he also was the only officer who made sure his staff were actually battle trained.

'Indian' officers who had been fighting in Indian (as opposed to most British senior officers who had done little other than support the 'civil power' --police duties) with large formations of cavalry. They returned home to fight with the British army but could not find employment -- not 'gentlemen' you see, funny habits as well, eating that damn smelly stuff called curry all the time---except Scarlett employed them.

When in horror someone questioned him and stated they wouldn't look right in a Ball, he announced he was going to fight the Russians not dance with them, also that he'd never 'hunted Russikie' before but his granpa ,the General, had told him when hunting new game always 'take a couple of damn good gamekeepers with you!'

His staff were experienced.
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Old November 6th, 2012, 08:29 AM   #10

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Well God looks out for a certain type of lunatic. Regardless of how and why Scarlett won, the Light Brigade might have actually won (they took the guns the were after even if they were the wrong guns) but they failed to destroy or capture them and they paid a terrible price for no gains excapt media copy. they lost!
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