The Charge, involving 673 cavalrymen, took place near Balaclava in the Crimea on 25th October 1854 and resulted in 110 killed, 130 wounded and 58 captured.
British and French forces were based at the harbour at Kamiesch, south-west of Balaclava, and there were British forces at Balaclava to the south-east. Between the British positions on the edge of Sevastopol and their base at Balaclava were a number of Turkish and French troops.
The terrain in the Battle of Balaclava was a crucial factor, involving two valleys separated by a ridge. There were three phases to the battle: two cavalry charges and the famous infantry defence - afterwards immortalised as The Thin Red Line - of the 93rd Highlanders (who with the 91st later formed the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders).
The ridge was to play a significant part in the disastrous Charge in that it obscured the action taking place in the north valley from its commander, Lord Raglan.
Following the heroic defence of the 93rd Highlanders, the Russians regrouped and moved more of their cavalry into the south valley. Here the Heavy Brigade, under Major-General Sir Colin Campbell, attacked uphill and dispersed some 2,000 Russian horsemen, forcing the enemy back into the north valley.
Meanwhile the Light Brigade under Major-General the Earl of Cardigan, comprising the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, 8th and 11th Hussars, awaited their orders.
The Light and Heavy Brigades comprised the cavalry division with Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan in overall command. The supreme commander was Lord Raglan. It was his message for the Light Brigade that began the confusion. It read: Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry 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 cavalry is on your left. R. Airey. Immediate.
Brigadier-General Airey was the Quarter-Master General, and his order from Lord Raglan was brought to Lord Lucan by Airey's aide-de-camp, Captain Nolan.
Lucan passed the order to Cardigan who, mistaking the instructions, charged the Russian guns about a mile away up the north valley, in error.
The battle ended with the Russians keeping their guns, but the British line held.
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