On November 14th 1854 The Times newspaper reported on a minor cavalry skirmish in the Crimean War:
“They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war... At the distance of 1200 yards the whole line of the enemy belched forth, from thirty iron mouths, a flood of smoke and flame through which hissed the deadly balls. Their flight was marked by instant gaps in our ranks, by dead men and horses, by steeds flying wounded or riderless across the plain”.
This is the Charge of the Light Brigade, an event of no military significance that has become iconic in the British imagination. It helped to provoke the resignation of a Prime Minister, it profoundly changed British attitudes to war and the soldiers who fought in them and it inspired Alfred, Lord Tennyson to sit down and write “All in the Valley of Death rode the six hundred”.
This and other historical subjects including:
THE ART OF WAR
THE SASSANIAN EMPIRE
ALFRED AND THE BATTLE OF EDINGTON
THE JACOBITE REBELLION
THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR
THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE
Are discussed on BBC Radio 4's programme IN OUR TIME. You can listen again to these programmes by going to the link below. Well worth a visit.