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The Charge of the Heavy Brigade (ePub)

Scarlett’s 300 in the Crimea 

Crimean War Pre WWI Military

By M J Trow
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 12.9 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 25 colour
ISBN: 9781399093019
eBook Released: 30th October 2021


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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.

So well done, M J Trow, for focusing on the Heavy Brigade which, an hour before the Light Brigade's suicidal charge, had succesfully taken on a Russian enemy three times its size. This will be a useful reference work.

Read the full review here

Paul Nixon

As featured in

History of War

This volume will appeal to a wide audience from medal collectors, modellers, academics and military historians. A huge amount of effort must have gone into researching and writing this exceptional tome. It has lots of details about the Charge and its participants which will make it interesting to read by both the general historian and the specialist in this field. It is highly enjoyable to read, and it comes highly commended.

Dr Stuart C Blank, Military Archive Research

This book will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the Crimean War. It brings a new perspective to the performance of the British
Cavalry Division at Balaklava and provides an authorative overview of the entire campaign. It also surfaces a wide range of first-hand accounts which provide'colour' and insight. Recommended.

Read the full review here

Phil Curme

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Not only does the author provide great operational detail of the battle, which is usually covered with a focus on the Light Brigade, but he expands the aperture of information and understanding to brilliantly inform the reader of operations by focusing on the Heavy Brigade as a contrast. The Heavy Brigade was intended as the primary British shock force, leading frontal charges to break enemy lines. Unlike the Lord Cardigan and his Light Brigade, Major General Scarlett and the Heavy Brigade successfully attacked its assigned objective.

The author’s well-researched focus on defense policy, organizational matters of the time, the British purchase (of officer commissions) system, the Red Cross and like efforts, and his exceptional coverage of things logistics and sustainment, and what we now call the Common Table of Allowances (TOA), makes this well-researched book the cardinal effort that it is. M. J. Trow’s “The Charge of the Heavy Brigade: Scarlett’s 300 in the Crimea” (ISBN 9781399093002) is a must read. Five stars.

NetGalley, Arthur Morrill

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.
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.

NetGalley, Peter Coxall

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

This is a really good narrative history of the events surrounding the service of the Heavy Cavalry Brigade in the Crimea. Of necessity it includes many aspects of the Light Brigade and Infantry actions and paints a vivid picture of the internal posturing and squabbling among the senior command that had a consequential impact on events. The author is very clear where he lays blame.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About M J Trow

M.J. Trow was educated as a military historian at King’s College, London, specialising in British cavalry. He is probably best known today for his true crime and crime fiction works, but his first book for Pen and Sword was The Pocket Hercules, a biography of William Morris who led the 17th Lancers in the Charge of the Light Brigade. Amongst other things, he collects cavalry uniforms and equipment and is never happier than when delving into the dark corners of antique shops. He divides his time between homes in the Isle of Wight and the Land of the Prince Bishops.

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