Retelling the Tale of the Light BrigadeA new book — out in time for the 150th anniversary of the bloody Crimean War battle — takes a look at the events that led to the ill-fated charge memorialized by the Tennyson poem "Charge of the Light Brigade."
On Oct. 25, 1854, during the Battle of Balaclava, the British army suffered staggering losses that were quickly etched in history — and myth. School children who have never heard of the Crimean War remember the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Detail: 'Charge of the Light Brigade, Balaclava, 25 October, 1854,' painted by Richard Caton II Woodville.
NPR marks the 150th anniversary of the event, memorialized in Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous poem. Tennyson, the British poet laureate at the time, described the battleground as "the Valley of Death."
But however brave it may have been, the charge was a military mistake. Following the wrong orders, a light cavalry brigade of 600 to 700 men attacked enemy forces despite being surrounded on three sides by heavy Russian artillery. In seven minutes, 110 men died.
A new book by historian Terry Brighton, Hell Riders: The True Story of the Charge of the Light Brigade, documents the events that led to the charge.
Voices from the Distant Past
Archival Recording of Alfred, Lord Tennyson Reading 'Charge of the Light Brigade'