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Who was to blame for The Charge of The Light Brigade?
Transcript of Who was to blame for The Charge of The Light Brigade?
"ATTACK, SIR!" said Lucan. "ATTACK WHAT? WHAT GUNS, SIR? WHERE AND WHAT TO DO"
Nolan waved his arm in a contemptuous gesture down the valley. "THERE, MY LORD. THERE IS THE ENEMY! THERE ARE YOUR GUNS!"
Lucan, who lacked Raglan's high vantage point, could not see the guns on the far side of the Causeway Heights. Nolan's angry wave gave Lucan the impression that he had been ordered to attack the mass of Russian guns at the far end of the valley 2000 metres away. Lucan, realising that such an attack would be suicidal, rode over to cardigan and ordered him to advance towards the main Russian army. Even Cardigan, who was spoiling for a fight, hesitated.
Captain Louis Nolan was the officer chosen to deliver Lord Raglan's message. he was probably selected because he was an excellent horseman and could ride rapidly down the steep descent into the valley below. Nolan handed Lucan the order and Lucan announced that such an attack would be 'useless'. Nolan replied that Raglan's orders were that the calvary should attack immediately.
Raglan, an Aristocratic commander, who was on the Sapoune Heights had little immediate control over operations. He was annoyed by the loss of initiative and sent a verbal message to Lord Lucan requesting him to occupy the ground the Russians were vacating. Lucan declined to regard the message as an order. The Russians had planned to remove the guns from the Turkish redoubts on the Causeway Heights that they had earlier overrun. the exasperated Raglan now composed a new order for Lucan.
'Lord Raglan wishes the Calvary to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop Horse Artillery may accompany. French Calvary is on your left. Immediate.'
Cardigan gave the order to advance. as the horsemen trotted down the valley, Nolan suddenly dashed before Cardigan who led the charge, waving his sword and shrieking at him. He had probably realised that the Calvary were heading in the wrong direction. At this very moment a splinter from an exploding Russian shell tore into his chest and killed him. The Light Bridgade continued its charge into the 'mouth of hell'.
Artillery and musket fire soon poured into its ranks from three sides, causing the leading men to break into a charge before they were ordered to do so. The whole incident lasted 20 minutes and 110 out of the 664 were killed.
Cardigan made no effort to rally or find out what had happened to his men. Instead he left the battlefield, went on board his private yacht and drank champagne.
Major General the Earl of Cardigan, head of the 664 man Light Brigade, watched the triumph of the Heavy Brigade with some envy. An arrogant snob, Cardigan was Lucan's brother-in-law. But the two men hated each other. Their long enmity had only intensified in the Crimea. Cardigan, having no orders from Lucan, refused to attack.