The Charge of the Heavy Brigade (Hardback)
Scarlett’s 300 in the Crimea
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‘Glory to each and to all, and the charge that they made! Glory to all three hundred, and all the Brigade!’
Everyone has heard of the charge of the Light Brigade, a suicidal cavalry attack caused by confused orders which somehow sums up the Crimean War (1854-6). Far less well known is what happened an hour earlier, when General Scarlett’s Heavy Brigade charged a Russian army at least three times its size. That ‘fight of heroes’, to use the phrase of William Russell, the world’s first war correspondent, was a brilliant success, whereas the Light Brigade’s action resulted in huge casualties and achieved nothing.
This is the first book by a military historian to study the men of the Heavy Brigade, from James Scarlett, who led it, to the enlisted men who had joined for the ‘queen’s shilling’ and a new life away from the hard grind of Victorian poverty. It charts the perils of travelling by sea, in cramped conditions with horses panicking in rough seas. It tells the story, through the men who were there, of the charge itself, where it was every man for himself and survival was down to the random luck of shot and shell.
It looks, too, at the women of the Crimea, the wives who accompanied their menfolk. Best known were Florence Nightingale, the ‘lady with the lamp’ and Mary Seacole, the Creole woman who was ‘doctress and mother’ to the men. But there were others, like Fanny Duberly who wrote a graphic journal and Mrs Rogers, who dutifully cooked and cleaned for the men of her husband’s regiment, the 4th Dragoon Guards.
A fascinating book about a little-known British cavalry unit, the Heavy Brigade, during the Crimean War. They fought alongside the ill-fated Light Brigade, fighting the Russian army.NetGalley, Peter Coxall
Apart from mainly incompetent leadership, the brigade had to endure dreadful diseases, virtually no training, lack of food, no Winter clothing, poor communications, and primitive/non-existent housing. Their horses suffered as badly as their human masters. through lack of fodder and frightful living conditions.
I really enjoyed reading the tales from the various participants, particularly the women who stood back as spectators to the battles as though they were sporting events. Indeed, the political machinations between Russia and Britain are often referred to as the 'Great Game'!... I can recommend this book to those who enjoy military history or who are merely curious about the Crimean War.
The book concentrates on the lesser known action that took place prior to the charge - the heavy brigade. Explained in great detail, the author explains both the make-up of the unit an interesting-dealing. A good history read.NetGalley, Ron Baumer