A catalogue of errors and a military failure, Balaclava is notable for containing three iconic episodes in the history of British warfare. The undoubted heroism was burnished by the prose of Times journalist Sir William Howard Russell and poetry of Lord Tennyson. In the lead-up to battle, which took place on 25 October 1854, the British forces under Lord Raglan were moving to join their French allies in preparation for the siege of the key Crimean port of Sevastopol. Noting the gap between the allies, the Russian command resolved to make a pre-emptive strike. Ryzhov’s cavalry split, part charging the infantry who repulsed them with their ‘Thin Red Line’. His main body of cavalry, cresting Causeway Heights, were hit by the uphill ‘Charge of the Heavy Brigade’, and began a disorderly retreat. This is when the Light Brigade should have charged; instead, through vacillation and poor communication, they charged too late, in the wrong direction, ‘into the Valley of Death’ and everlasting glory.
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