The Charge of the Heavy Brigade (Hardback)
Scarlett’s 300 in the Crimea
‘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.