When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

The Charge of the Light Brigade,
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Charge of the Light Brigade
The 13th at Balaclava

From: C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1911.


STATE OF THE REGIMENT ON OCTOBER 25, 1854.

Lieutenant Percy Smith, who was acting adjutant, in a letter, writes, "the number of horses on parade was 108, exclusive of officers."

The Regimental Record gives the strength of the regiment, including officers, as 128.

The History of the 11th Hussars gives the parade state of the 13th on that day as 130.

Trumpeter Powell, on the authority of Corporal Nagle (both of the 13th), places the strength as low as 103.

From a letter to Colonel Anstruther-Thomson, written by Captain Jenyns, we get yet another figure: "We had 110 horses and eight officers when we went into action (young Goad's horse, the one he jumped the timber on, was knocked over by a round-shot early in the day, and the young 'un hurt in the fall)."

The total strength of the Light Brigade when it started on the charge is usually accepted as 673.

Of the officers of the 13th, the following were present at Balaclava:—

Captains Oldham, Goad, Jenyns, and Tremayne; Lieutenants Jervis and Smith; Cornets Montgomery and Chamberlayne.

Lieut.-Colonel Charles Edmund Doherty was not present. Major Richard Ormsby Gore (afterwards Lord Harlech) was invalided, as also were Lieutenants Purcell and King. Cornet G. Maxwell Goad was injured early in the battle. Of Cornet Maclean there is no information, but he belonged to B Troop. It is, however, certain that he was not in the charge.

Hart's Army List states that Captain Jenyns commanded the regiment in the battle of Balaclava. But he was junior both to Captain Oldham and Captain Goad.

The History of the 11th Hussars states that the 13th Light Dragoons were commanded at Balaclava by "Colonel" Oldham, which is obviously incorrect. The fact is that Captain Jenyns succeeded to the command after the deaths of Captains Oldham and Goad. From the Regimental Records of the 13th no information on this point is to be obtained, nor even is an accurate or any list indeed of the officers at Balaclava given. It is only by sifting evidence that the above names have been arrived at. Lieutenant Percy Smith happened to be acting adjutant because no successor had yet been appointed to the late adjutant, Lieutenant Irwin. Eventually, the Regimental Sergeant-Major George Gardner was gazetted cornet and adjutant.

The officers with the depot troops in England were Captains Holden and the Hon. John Hely Hutchinson; Lieutenants Clayton and Davis; and Cornets Dearden and Fielden.

These troops were lettered C and F. Consequently at Balaclava the A, B, D, and E troops were engaged, and were officered as follows:—

A Troop—Captain Oldham and Cornet Montgomery.
B Troop—Captain Jenyns and Lieutenant Jervis.
D Troop—Captain Goad and (for a time) Cornet Goad.
E Troop—Captain Tremayne, Lieutenant Percy Smith, and Cornet Chamberlayne.

The A and B troops formed one squadron, the A troop being on the extreme right of the line.

The D and E troops formed the other, E troop being on the left of the other squadron.

From the above it will be understood that any attempt to fix with accuracy the exact number of officers and men of the 13th who were actually engaged in the charge of the Light Brigade is not likely to succeed. We know that there were eight officers, but no amount of consideration will enable us to reconcile the other numbers.

When the second written message was delivered to Lord Lucan by Captain Lewis Edward Nolan of the 15th Hussars and aide-de-camp to the Quartermaster-General, his lordship entertained some doubt as to its interpretation. He inquired of Captain Nolan, and it is stated received a verbal communication coupled with a gesture to the effect that the Russian battery at the end of the valley was the desired object of attack. Lord Cardigan was then summoned, and the order was communicated to him. Lord Lucan always averred that he considered Captain Nolan's manner of speech to be somewhat disrespectful. On receipt of the order from Lord Lucan the reply of Lord Cardigan was, "Very good, sir." To the Light Brigade he then gave the word of command, "The Brigade will advance." The balance of evidence goes to show that no trumpet call was used. The men were dismounted when the order came, and were immediately in the saddle when the command was given.

The first line consisted of the 13th Light Dragoons on the right and the 17th Lancers on the left. Lord Cardigan placed himself alone in front of the line, a little on the left of the centre.

The 13th and 17th then moved off, and when they had covered rather more than 100 yards the 11th Hussars, who were in the second line, moved off also. In due course, and at about the same interval, came the 4th and the 8th. During the day the 11th had been on the left of the first line, but the narrowing of the valley and the width of front occupied by the Cossack battery at the east end necessitated a contraction in the first line.

As it was, the 17th Lancers overlapped the right of the battery, and the 11th Hussars, in support, just brushed the guns with their right flank. The 11th it will thus be seen, did not actually cover the 17th but charged down the valley nearer to the Fedioukine Hills. The 11th the 4th, and the 8th were in echelon. Consequently the 4th came into the battery full front, while the course of the 8th was as against the Russian left. Captain Nolan started to ride with the charge, and it is believed took up a position in the interval between the two squadrons of the 17th At any rate, it would appear that thence he darted out when he rode obliquely across the front of the advancing line.

The Charge of the Light Brigade, Balaclava
(Inserted to show the ground)

(From Simpson's "Seat of War in the East," 1855-1856)

It was not long before the 13th and 17th came under the guns of the enemy; but before a shot was fired Captain Nolan, as has been mentioned, darted out. He was seen to be wildly waving his sword, and, as it were, endeavouring to make some communication to Lord Cardigan. It is certain that he was pointing in the direction of the Causeway Heights, as if to indicate the true intention of the order which he had conveyed. Whether he would have succeeded in this, if such was his intention, can never be known, for at this moment the first gun from the Russian battery was fired. Nolan was struck by a fragment of a shell which killed him instantly. His sword fell from his hand, but his arm remained erect, and the grip of his knees kept him in the saddle. It chanced that he was mounted on a troop horse of the 13th The horse with its dead burden wheeled round and passed through the interval between the squadrons. Nolan's body fell in the rear. By this time the Russian battery on the Fedioukine Hills had opened fire, and the masses of infantry on either side the valley poured in a heavy discharge of musketry. Now, too, the Cossack battery in the front joined in, but yet, with men and horses dropping singly, or by twos or threes, on swept the Light Brigade. On and on they rode, each instant finding gap after gap in the ranks. Riderless horses, as the men dropped, still kept their places in the line; but there was neither pause nor hesitation. "Close in," "close in," was the word as death and destruction was dealt among them. At about 80 yards from the Cossack guns a discharge wrought fearful havoc, but after that those guns spoke no more. Ahead of his men Lord Cardigan dashed into the battery, crushing his knee and receiving a slight wound. Nor were the 13th and 17th far behind. The two squadrons of the former and the right squadron of the latter were speedily among the guns, and were cutting down the artillerymen that remained at their posts. Through the guns they went, and were soon engaged in a hand-to-hand encounter with the enemy that was endeavouring to surround them by closing in on either flank.

Meanwhile, thanks to the dashing attack on the battery and infantry posted on the Fedioukine Hills, which was so gallantly executed by the 4th Chasseurs D'Afrique under General D'Allonville, the line of retirement—one cannot call it retreat—was cleared on one flank for the survivors of the charge. Nothing, however, was attempted by Lord Lucan against the enemy which thronged the Causeway Heights. He advanced down the valley far ahead of his brigade, and penetrated for a distance of more than half a mile on the side of the Woronzoff Road. His brigade came under fire, was halted, and then retired after sustaining some little loss. Lord Lucan considered that the Light Brigade had been wantonly sacrificed, and determined that the Heavy Brigade should not so be destroyed if he could help it.

It will be remembered that the left squadron of the 17th brushed the right flank of the battery, and continuing its course it dashed against the Russian cavalry in the rear.

The 11th in its progress having passed the guns, found a strong body of Russian lancers in its front. Charging these, the enemy did not await the attack, but wheeled round and retreated in confusion far along the valley into the gorge near the aqueduct. The 11th followed in pursuit, and chased them till they halted on the side of a hill with their backs to their pursuers, at whom they looked over their shoulders. Finding the 11th were but few in numbers, an attempt was made by the Russian officers to get their men to attack, but without avail. Matters remained thus for a short time, perhaps not more than a few moments, while pursuers and pursued were in close juxtaposition. Then Cossacks were observed working round in the rear of the 11th and there was nothing for it but to cut their way back along the valley and past the guns which the Russians were now attempting to remove.

On the road the 11th were pursued by Russian hussars, and nearly cut off by some of Jeropkine's lancers that issued from the horse-shoe. Meanwhile, the fragments of the 13th and 17th having passed through and over the guns found themselves without orders.

What to do next nobody could tell them. Lord Cardigan had already returned along the valley for some distance alone, and had then galloped back towards the Russians, only to retire again.

On his first return he spoke to Sergeant Mitchell, from whose Reminiscences extracts have already been made. After that he met Sir John Ewart and Sir George Cathcart, to whom he said, "I have lost my brigade." They did not understand him, knowing nothing of the charge, and stared without speaking. Lord Cardigan then turned his horse, and, as has been said, galloped back towards the Russians. And so it came about that the "wretched remnant," as Captain Jenyns calls it, when they had got to the guns, "went with such a right good cheer, bang through their cavalry, which cut right and left like sheep; on rallying back there were the guns, four hundred yards in the rear, all clear, and no one, worse luck, to carry them off,—the worst part of all, as a very strong regiment of lancers came on our rear, and we had to cut our way through them. Lord Lucan never supported us; the Scots Greys, the nearest, at least a mile in our rear." And so, over the ground strewn with dead and wounded men and horses who were not half an hour previously in full vigour, passed the "wretched remnant," and even then not permitted to escape unscathed.

Parties of the enemy's cavalry, regular or Cossack, were ready to beset any stragglers, and there is no doubt that the death-roll of the Balaclava charge was greatly increased by the butchery of wounded men on the field itself, and the spearing of armed or unarmed dismounted officers and privates of the Light Brigade.

Eventually what was left of the five light cavalry regiments arrived in the rear of the Heavy Brigade and were re-formed.

Lieutenant Percy Smith, who, by the way, was the only officer who rode through the charge and came back on his original horse, states that when he formed up the remains of the regiment, after the charge, he "could only get hold of fourteen mounted men; and one of them was on a Russian horse which he caught after losing his own. Possibly a few horses had got back before me, and had attached themselves to other regiments, but for the moment the effective [?] strength of the 13th was one officer [myself] and fourteen rank and file."

THE BALACLAVA GROUP.

(From a Photograph taken the day after the Battle)


KEY TO BALACLAVA GROUP

1. Cornet F. L. Michael.
2. Cornet & Adjt. G. Gardener.
3. Capt. P. S. Smith.
4. Regt. Sergt.-Maj. Johnson.
5. Lieut.-Col. C. E. Doherty.
6. Cornet D. T. Chamberlayne.
7. Pte. Morrisey.
8. Pte. Dearlove.
9. Sergt. J. Malone (V C.).
10. Tpr. Sergt. Maj. Hunt.
11. Sergt. Mulcahy.
12. Capt. S. G. Jenyns.
13. Pte. Long.
14. Tpr. Sergt.-Maj. Linkon (died 1910).
15. Pte. Gardner.
16. Unknown.

The total loss of the regiment was three officers killed—Captains Oldham and Goad and Cornet Montgomery; Troop Sergeant-Major Weston, and ten rank and file were also killed. Thirty rank and file were wounded, and two Troop Sergeant-Majors, while ten rank and file were taken prisoners.

Captain Percy Smith was also wounded by a lance-thrust.

These numbers are elsewhere stated thus: killed and missing, 69; roll call, 61.

From Sir Fitzroy Donald Maclean some interesting particulars regarding Captain Oldham's death have been obtained and are here given.

Captain Oldham at the time of the Balaclava charge was second captain in the regiment. How he came to lead the regiment in the charge is as follows:—

Colonel C. E. Doherty was sick; Major Ormsby Gore was in Bulgaria, or had been invalided home; and Captain Holden, the senior captain, was in command of the depot at home.

On the day of the battle Captain Oldham rode his second charger —a white mare, his first charger being unfit for work. This white mare was notoriously a brute, and on the occasion of the charge bolted—luckily, straight at the Russian guns. Captain Oldham fell, and was last seen wounded and bleeding with his sword in one hand and his pistol in the other. As a matter of fact, he was the first man to get among the guns. His dead body was never found, and his grave is therefore unknown.

Captain J. A. Oldham
Killed at Balaclava

(From a Picture lent by Colonel Sir Fitzroy Maclean, Bart., K.C.B.)

Shortly after the battle a Russian officer came in under a flag of truce to arrange about the burial of the dead. In the presence of Sir Fitzroy Maclean, who was standing close by, he asked, "Who was the officer who rode a white horse and led the charge of Balaclava?" He was told that the officer was Captain Oldham, and at once replied, "a brave man." It may be mentioned that the brother of Captain Oldham fell in New Zealand in an attack on one of the "pahns "; he was wounded, but persisted in pressing on in spite of all suggestions that his wound should be attended to; a few minutes later a second shot killed him.

Lieutenant Chamberlayne, whose horse "Pimento" was shot in the charge, escaped the fate of so many on the return journey in what is stated to be a curious way. Lieutenant Percy Smith on his way back passed him seated by the side of his dead horse—a very favourite horse. Lieutenant Chamberlayne asked what he should better do, and was advised to take off the saddle and bridle and make the best of his way back, for, said Lieutenant Smith, "another horse you can get, but you will not get another saddle and bridle so easily." Lieutenant Chamberlayne took his advice, and placing the saddle on his head returned along the valley, threading his way among the Cossacks who were busily engaged in pillage and killing dismounted and wounded men. He was probably taken for a pillager, and to this, no doubt, owed his life.

From letters home, written by officers of the regiment, it is to be gathered that the death of Captain Goad was a great grief to all.

I cannot tell you how we do miss him, or what a blow it is to us all [writes Captain Jenyns]. The last I saw of poor Goad was about 150 yards from the guns, when the smoke was so thick we could see no one [at the guns]. Some men saw him lying on the ground wounded, but, of course, having to fight our way back, could not help him. Oldham I saw killed by a shell which burst under his horse and knocked over two or three others. It blew his mare's hind-legs off, and he jumped up himself not hit, when next moment he threw up his hands and fell dead on his face. Montgomery was my right troop leader [first squadron], and I saw him safe into the guns; after that on returning, he was seen dead on his face, poor fellow.

Captain Jenyns writes further—

Seventy-six troopers' and seven officers' horses killed on the spot, ten shot afterwards, and eight wounded still alive. I only brought nine mounted men back! Poor old "Moses" [his charger] was shot through his shoulder and through the hip into his guts, but just got me back. I had some narrow shaves, as indeed we all had. My cloak rolled in front had three canister-shot through it, besides a piece of shell knocking off the end of it, and catching me on the knee, but only a severe bruise. Percy Smith's horse was the only one not killed. Although so cut up you [Colonel Anstruther-Thomson] will be glad to hear the old corps got tremendous kudos from all. It was a fine sight to see the fellows sit down and put their heads straight at the guns.

In his Crimean Notes Colonel Tremayne writes—

The men behaved splendidly. The last thing I heard before I went down [his horse was shot] was one man saying to his neighbour, "Come on; don't let those—[the 17th Lancers] get ahead of us." Neither did they. Nolan was struck by a shot from the battery on our left, immediately we began to advance. This battery was driven off by some Chasseurs D'Afrique.

Elsewhere it is stated that this battery was on the right.

Oldham's death was not witnessed [a mistake apparently], nor was Goad's. Montgomery was cut in two by a round-shot. Jenyns went right through the guns, and he told me he shot two wheel horses with his revolver in retiring, feeling sure we should be supported. If we had been French, nous sommes trahis would have been the cry; as it was, the men seemed to be glad they had not let the Heavies have all the day to themselves.

Captain Percy Smith writes—

You have, of course, seen all the accounts of our charge in the papers, so I will not try to tell you anything more about it, except that "Jenks " [Jenyns] was worth his weight in gold. He was everywhere, and kept his head as well as if he had been at a common field-day. He was on "Moses." The good old horse got shot in four places, and was only just able to get back to the Heavies, behind whom we formed up.

Another reference to the death of Captain Goad is as follows—

The last I saw of poor Goad was just going into the guns on my left. He was killed dead, as the Russians sent back a bill of exchange found on his body.

Cornet C. W. Goad, the younger brother of Captain Goad, who was wounded early in the battle, made most anxious inquiries into the fate of his brother before he left the Crimea He states—

I left on the 13th of November. As soon as I heard that my poor brother was missing, I made every inquiry there. The only thing certain is that a man of the 13th of the name of Farringdon [of Captain Goad's own troop], who, from some cause, was one of the last in the retreat, saw him at the Russian end of the valley half sitting up, with his revolver in his hand. He was then wounded in the lower part of his face or neck, but might also have been elsewhere; even then it is certain that he was either then or afterwards wounded in the chest, for the paper which he had in his breast pocket, and which the Russians sent back, was covered with blood. There are other stories about other men having seen him, but I could not make out that there was any truth in them.

Colonel Tremayne pays a high tribute to the soldierly qualities of Lieutenant Percy Smith, who, he says, "gave us all an example of steadiness." Lieutenant Smith "lost a part of his right hand from a gun accident before the war, and could not draw his sword. He had an iron guard made to slip over his wrist. In the dark that morning he could not find it in the tent, and turned out without it. He went to the end of the charge, and was the only officer who came out on the same horse he went in on; he was not wounded [note—this is wrong; he got a lance prod in the ribs, but would not report it]. He was a good, cool-headed soldier, and when he left was a great loss to the regiment."

As a matter of fact, Lieutenant Smith, unarmed as he was, found himself separated from his men and brought to a standstill by three Russian lancers, one on each side and one in front. He was defenceless, and apparently in a pretty warm corner. The lancer on his right hesitated for a moment and left him with only two to look after. The man on his left attacked first, but he contrived to turn his point off with the upper part of his bridle arm at the cost of a mere scratch from the side of his lance-blade. At the same moment almost, the man in front gave point at his chest. Lieutenant Smith saw he couldn't guard himself without dropping his reins, so instead of that, as he was mounted on a good hunter, he jumped right on to his assailant. The lance-point luckily hit on a bone and came out as the Russian went down, and before the other two could renew the attack a party of the 11th Hussars came to the rescue, and the lancers had something else to occupy their attention.

Balaclava--Sergt. Joseph Malone gains the V.C.

(From a painting by Henry Payne)

The honour of the Victoria Cross came to the 13th Light Dragoons, being awarded to Lance-Sergeant Joseph Malone of the E Troop, commanded by Captain Tremayne.

During the charge, and before reaching the guns, Captain Webb of the 17th Lancers was mortally wounded. To his assistance came Troop Sergeant-Major Berryman of his regiment. He, finding that Captain Webb could no longer keep in the saddle, endeavoured to lift him out,—Lieutenant Percy Smith of the 13th holding the horse in the meantime, and then riding off for a stretcher. Berryman remained with Captain Webb, although that officer besought him to save himself.

Presently Sergeant Farrell, also of the 17th came to them, and the two remained by Captain Webb till they were joined by Lance Sergeant Malone of the 13th Light Dragoons. The three remained by the wounded officer under a heavy fire for a considerable time, and finally between them endeavoured to carry him off.

Troop Sergeant-Major Berryman, Sergeant Farrell, and Lance Sergeant Malone were all subsequently decorated with the Victoria Cross.

About a month before Balaclava Sergeant Malone had done a smart bit of work. At daybreak on September 24, when marching on Balaclava, he volunteered with three others (privates of the 13th Light Dragoons), and captured an escort of the enemy's cavalry and also the baggage which they were taking to Sebastopol.

Lance-Sergeant Malone received a commission in the 6th Dragoons (Inniskillings) on September 7, 1858. A brief notice of his career may be added.

He enlisted on the 31st March 1851, and was later promoted to lance-sergeant without being corporal previously. In the Crimea he was present at the Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman, Tchernaya, and the Siege of Sebastopol. He was also engaged on the expedition to Eupatoria under General D'Allonville. He wore the Crimean Medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Sebastopol, and Inkerman, the Turkish Medal, and the Victoria Cross.

On receiving his commission, as the 6th were in India, Riding-Master Malone proceeded thither, and remained there till April 1867.

He obtained his promotion as Captain on July 1, 1881, and served in South Africa from November 1882 till his death at Pinetown in June 1883.

Captain Joseph Malone, V.C.
(Uniform is that of the 6th Dragoons)

From Kinglake's Invasion of the Crimea but little information as to the 13th at Balaclava is to be gathered. That historian mentions that 195 was the number of the first muster after the charge, and that the total casualties amounted to 247, out of which 13 were killed and 134 wounded. Of the horses, 475 were killed and 42 wounded, and 43 shot later, as unserviceable through wounds. How many horses were lost in the battle by the 13th Light Dragoons is nowhere stated in the Regimental Records. Sergeant Mitchell, however, gives the following information:—

On that morning the brigade had mounted, I believe, six hundred and seven sabres and lances, our regiment numbering one hundred and ten, or thereabouts, and by noon ours alone had lost eighty-six horses and upwards of fifty men in killed, wounded, and missing.

Of course for 607 we must read 673, and noon should be afternoon, as the charge did not take place till after 2 P.M.

One or two extracts from Sergeant Mitchell's account of the charge may well be quoted—

In a few minutes several casualties occurred, for by this time the guns on our front were playing on us with round-shot and shell, so the number of men and horses falling increased every moment. I rode near the right of the line. A corporal who rode on the right was struck by a shot or shell full in the face, completely smashing it, his blood and brains bespattering us who rode near. (Note on May 11, 1911. The name of the corporal mentioned as being killed at Balaclava has just been ascertained. It was E. W. Aubrey Smith. He was the son of a Major Smith. To his memory quite recently a tablet, grille, and mural paintings have been erected in a church at Hammersmith.).

His horse still went on with us. By this time the ranks being continually broken it caused some confusion. Oaths and imprecations might be heard between the report of the guns and the bursting of the shells as the men crowded and jostled each other in their endeavour to close to the centre. This was unavoidable at times, especially when a shell burst in the ranks, sometimes bringing down three or four men and horses, which made it difficult to avoid an unpleasant crush in the ranks.

We were now fully exposed to the fire from all three batteries, front, right, and left, as also from the infantry on our right, who were now able to reach us. As we drew nearer, the guns in the front plied us liberally with grape and cannister, which brought down men and horses in heaps.... I missed my left hand man from my side.... We were now very close to the guns, for we were entering the smoke which hung in clouds in front. I could see some of the gunners running from the guns to the rear, when just at that moment a shell from the battery on the right struck my horse, carrying away the shoulder and part of the chest, and exploding a few yards off. Fortunately I was on the ground when it exploded, or some of the fragments would most likely have reached me. On my recovery from the shock, I found my horse was lying on his near side, my left leg was beneath him, and my right above him. I tried to move, but just at that moment I heard the second line come galloping on to where I lay, and fully expecting to be trampled on I looked up and saw it was the 4th Light Dragoons quite close. I called out, "For God's sake, don't ride over me." Whether they heard me or not I shall never know.... After they had passed I tried to extricate my leg, which after a short time I succeeded in doing and stood upright, finding myself unhurt, except my leg, which was a little painful from the crush. I still had my sword in my hand, and soon found there were numberless bullets flying around me, which came from the infantry on the flank of their battery, who fired at any of us who were dismounted. Just at this moment a man of my troop named Pollard [Captain Oldham's troop] came to me, and throwing himself down beside the carcass of my horse for shelter from the bullets, called to me saying: "Come here, Mitchell, this is good cover." I said: "No, we had better make our way back as quick as possible, or we shall soon be taken prisoners, if not killed, if we remain here." Upon this he jumped up, and we both started to get back, but had not gone many yards when a poor fellow called to us to help him. He was in a similar position to mine, and he belonged to our regiment. I took him beneath the arms, and Pollard raised the horse's forepart a little, so that I managed to draw his leg from under the horse; but his thigh was broken, and besides, he had a severe wound on his head which covered him with blood. On seeing his injuries we laid him gently down. He said: "You can do no more for me; I thought my thigh was broken before you pulled me out. Look out for yourselves! "Now this incident had only been the work of a very short time, during which our brigade had passed beyond the guns. The smoke had cleared away, for the guns were silent enough now—that is, the guns we had charged—so that we could see a number of men making their way back the same as ourselves. The number of horses lying about was something fearful. As we went along we somehow got separated, and I got mixed up with some of the 8th and 11th Hussars, and then in another minute found myself alone. Just then Lord Cardigan came galloping up from the direction of the guns, passing me at a short distance, when he turned about again, and meeting me, pulled up and said: "Where is your horse?" I answered: "Killed, my lord." He then said, in his usually stern hoarse voice: "You had better make the best of your way back as fast as you can, or you will be taken prisoner." I needed no telling, for I was doing so as fast as I was able. He then rode a little farther down, and in a few minutes returned past me at a gallop. By this time the mounted were making their way back as fast as they could, some singly, and some in parties of two or three, but whenever the battery on our left could see anything like a party together they would be sure to send a shell at them. In this way many men were killed on their return. There were several riderless horses galloping about the plain. I tried very hard to get one, but could not. I saw two officers' horses belonging to my own regiment. I could tell them by the binding of the sheepskins on the saddles. They appeared almost mad. I would have given a trifle just then to have had my legs across one of them, for I was getting tired, for we had been out since 4 A.M. and had nothing to eat since the day before, and to make it still worse there was a piece of ground that lay in my way which had been cultivated and was very loose, which made it heavy travelling. I looked up to try to measure the distance, when to my dismay I saw the Scotch [Scots] Greys, who had come part of the way down the valley to our support, where they were halted, and were now about five hundred yards from me, in the act of retiring at a trot. I thought there was no chance now, when our support was retiring at a trot at that distance ahead of us. Presently a captain of ours came past me, and shortly after he got up behind a mounted man of ours, and they both rode back together on one horse. I could now see some Cossacks showing themselves in swarms on our right, thinking to cut some of us dismounted men off. As soon as I saw them approaching, I bore more away to my left front, and a party of Chasseurs D'Afrique (who, I had almost forgotten to state, had charged the battery on our left going down), and who had lost many men and horses. These having showed themselves menacingly, it had the desired effect of turning the Cossacks from their purpose.

Sergeant Mitchell now fell in with a man of the Scots Greys who was standing, but blinded by a shell wound, whom he tried to lead into safety, binding up his head with a handkerchief. He now found the man who had ridden on his left Lying at the point of death, but a good bit lower down the valley than where he first missed him. Probably the man's horse was shot, and he had tried to make his way back dismounted.

Arriving near No. 4 redoubt, then held by the 68th Light Infantry, who had seized it, Mitchell and his blind companion approached and asked for water. An officer to whom they applied gave them some rum, and they started off again. Very shortly after the pair arrived at the ambulances. The Scots Grey's wound was dressed. He was afterwards discharged from the army with a pension, being temporarily blind, but Sergeant Mitchell, who never saw the man again, understood that eventually his sight was restored.

After this I went down to our camp which was close by, and finding my own tent soon dived into the biscuit bag, and putting two or three handfuls into my havresack, began to make up for lost time, for I was hungry indeed, so, eating as I went, made my way over the ridge again to the ground from whence we had started, and joined the remnant of the brigade, who had by this time nearly all straggled back. I counted thirteen mounted men of my own regiment, but I think there was very little difference, each regiment's losses then appearing to be about equal. I don't mean to say that thirteen was all that came back, but that was all that were mounted and fit for duty. Some had got back as I had done, and in the course of the day and evening several horses found their way back.... During the action several batteries of Field Artillery and two divisions of infantry, the 1st and 4th, were marched down from the front to take part in the affair, but the enemy did not attempt another advance, so both parties remained watching each other till night.

This account as given by Sergeant Mitchell is by far the clearest and most level-headed narrative of the retirement given by any member of the 13th Light Dragoons that the writer has been able to discover. He has quoted from it freely, but desires to most fully acknowledge its source.

The Manuscript Regimental Record is as follows:—

The Regiment turned out as usual with the remainder of the Brigade about an hour before daybreak. As daylight appeared the Russians were seen advancing steadily towards the Village of Kamara, and shortly after opened a brisk fire on the entrenchments thrown up and defended bv about 30,000 Turks. These earthworks were intended to form a check to the enemy in the event of an attack upon Balaclava, or on the rear of the Allied Armies who were now besieging Sebastopol, and they were mounted with six of the "Diamond's" guns. The enemy came on with such force (30,000) that the Turks gave way and the enemy got possession of the entrenchments. The 2000 Turks, British Cavalry, and one Regiment of Highlanders was all the Force at the disposal of Sir Colin Campbell for the defence of Balaclava, which was quite unequal for the defence of the entrenchments against the overwhelming forces of the Enemy, and the Cavalry being so few could only act to cover the retreat of the Turks. The Russians had been in possession of the entrenchments about an hour when the whole Cavalry force was brought into the plain between the Earthworks and made for the Regiment of Highlanders at full speed. But the Highlanders brought them so fast from their saddles that the whole body turned about and fled. Shortly after the whole force of the enemy's Cavalry re-formed and then to the number of about 3000 came down upon the Heavy Brigade of British Cavalry, who numbered no more than 700. The Heavy Brigade met them in gallant style and cut through the whole force, then turned about and cut their way back. The Russians would not again turn about as they got sight of the Light Brigade coming to the assistance of the Heavy Brigade, but fled in great disorder and never pulled up until they got well behind their own guns and infantry.

About 2 P.M. on the same day Lord Cardigan received an order to charge with the Light Brigade, which was at this time formed in Line across the second plain from Balaclava. Lord Cardigan formed the Brigade

Into two Lines as follows:—

1st Line.— 13th Light Dragoons on the Right, I 7th Lancers in the Centre and I 11th Hussars on the Left.

2nd Line or Support.— 8th Hussars on the Right, and 4th Light Dragoons

The first Line advanced at a trot, closely followed by the 2nd Line.

The first Line had not advanced many hundred yards before a Russian Battery of guns placed on a hill on the Right opened fire, immediately followed by another Russian Battery on a hill on the Left. The first Line broke into a gallop, and immediately after a Battery, extending right across the plain (which had become so narrow by this time that Lord Cardigan doubled back the 11th Hussars for the purpose of forming a second line), opened fire, thus exposing the whole Brigade to a sharp fire in front and from the right and left, all at the same time. But on went the Brigade, cutting their way through the Battery in front and through the whole force of the Russian Cavalry and Infantry, who were formed up in rear of the guns.

Independently of the Batteries mentioned above the whole line of Russian Infantry opened fire upon the Brigade, by which means a great number of men of the Regiment were killed or wounded, and many were dismounted, their Horses having been shot from under them. But few as they were they completely routed the Russians, whose number was estimated at between 25,000 and 30,000. By the time that the Brigade had arrived at the Centre Battery there could not have been more than 200 of them left mounted.

The distance the Regiment had to go on this Charge was more than a mile, the whole way under a severe fire from the enemy. The Regiment numbered when it advanced 128 of all Ranks, and in re-forming after the charge it could only number (mounted) nine of all ranks, exclusive of officers. The loss of the Regiment in the Charge was 3 officers killed—viz., Captains Oldham and Goad and Cornet Montgomery; Troop Sergeant-Major Weston and IO Rank and File Killed, and 30 Rank and File Wounded; and a Troop Sergeant-Majors and IO Rank and File taken prisoners.

It may be treading on dangerous ground to touch even lightly upon the Lucan-Cardigan-Nolan controversy.

Kinglake (vol. iv., chap. v., pp. 228-230) sums up the military character and ambitions of the gallant but unfortunate Captain Nolan. The historian bases his conclusions on the diary of the deceased officer, which, written up to October 12, 1854, had been placed at his disposal.

But on the private writings of a man—and writings, too, which were meant probably for no other eye than his own—can a just estimate be formed of the public execution by that man of a public duty? This would be a dangerous doctrine indeed. Now where Kinglake's pages seem to the writer to be hard on Captain Nolan is this,—he gives no clue to the antecedents of the officer in question. His military training and experience are unmentioned.

It is a strange fact, but apparently no life of Nolan exists except that which is to be found in the pages of the 'Dictionary of National Biography.' It will be but fair to put it briefly here.

Lewis Edward Nolan was born about 1820. He was the son of Major Babington Nolan, sometime of the 70th Foot and afterwards Vice-Consul at Milan. Major Nolan had three sons, and all died in battle. Through the influence of one of the Austrian archdukes who was a friend of his father, Lewis Nolan obtained a commission in the Austrian cavalry. He served in the Hungarian Hussars, both in Hungary and on the Polish Frontier. Colonel Haas, the instructor of the Austrian Imperial Cavalry, was his military tutor.

Nolan must have entered the Austrian service at an early age, as he left it in 1839 for the British.

His first commission was that of ensign (by purchase), and is dated March 15, the regiment to which he was gazetted being the 4th King's Own.

On April 23rd of the same year he exchanged into the 15th Light Dragoons (King's Hussars), paying the difference between the price of an ensigncy and a cornetcy.

His new regiment was under orders for India at the time, and he embarked on July 11, 1839. Nolan became lieutenant (by purchase) on June 19, 1841, and captain (also by purchase) on March 8, 1850.

In India, where he mastered several native languages (he was also proficient in French, German, Italian, and Hungarian), Nolan acted for some time as aide-de-camp to Lieut.-General Sir G. F. Berkeley, who commanded the troops in Madras. He was afterwards extra aide-de-camp to Sir Henry Pottinger, the Governor of Madras.

When the 15th was ordered home in 1853, Nolan obtained leave to precede it to Europe. He then went to Russia, where he visited all the chief military stations and studied the Russian military system.

He was sent to Turkey on the outbreak of the Crimean War in advance of the British army, and charged with the double duty of making arrangements there for the reception of the British cavalry, and also with that of purchasing cavalry horses.

Nolan was a noted horseman and swordsman. He was also the author of a book on Breaking Cavalry Horses, and another entitled Organization, Drill, and Maneuvers of Cavalry Corps.

In the Crimea he was aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Airey, commanding an infantry brigade. Now, was this the kind of man who would be mad enough to garble verbally the intention of an order of a superior officer, knowing full well that if he did it merely meant the annihilation of the force employed and his own ruin if he survived.

Here was no tyro, no ignoramus in matters pertaining to his profession, but a most accomplished soldier of at least fifteen years' service in the British army, besides a preliminary training in a foreign land, the cavalry of which ever was, and still is, most highly esteemed. Yet that opinion, certainly among some of the surviving officers of the 13th, tended to blame Nolan is clear.

Captain Jenyns writes from Balaclava on November I8, 1854: "Never was such a mad order given. Nolan is the man to blame."

Colonel Tremayne in his Notes writes: "Nolan gave his message a few yards in front of where I was standing talking to poor old Goad. We were dismounted. There can be no doubt that Nolan gave the order to go where we did go. Cardigan told me this repeatedly afterwards. But I have no doubt Lord Raglan meant us to go along the southern valley and wheel to the left, to prevent the guns being taken out of the Turk's redoubts."

Assuredly the two written orders made this clear, or ought to have so done, to the recipient, Lord Lucan. Colonel Tremayne, however, it will be noticed, gives his opinion second-hand. Hideous the blunder was in its effects. Bitter indeed must have been the feelings of the survivors; but half a century and more has elapsed since the fatal ride, and, looking at the evidence now with calmness, the writer cannot but think that that gallant cavalry soldier, Lewis Edward Nolan, may be acquitted of either mad folly or willful perversion of the tenor of an order of the import of which he was fully aware.

Note of May 11, 1911. Since these lines were penned, the writer has obtained a number of hitherto unpublished details with regard to the life of Captain Nolan. Those interested are referred to his article Nolan appearing in the Cavalry Journal, No. 21 January 1911.

Trooper of the 13th Light Dragoons
after the Charge.

Detail from "All That Was Left of Them"
By Richard Caton Woodville


  "The 13th at Balaclava: Part One" The 13th Light Dragoons in the Charge of the Light Brigade before the Russian guns at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. From the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911. Part One describes events leading up to the Charge on October 25, 1854.
  The Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava has been immortalized in the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
  "The 13th at Waterloo" recounts the actions of the 13th Light Dragoons during the Waterloo Campaign of 1815. From the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911
  The 13th Hussars in India & Afghanistan, 1874-1884. From the Regimental History, C. R. B. Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911.
  Lessons from the Varsity of Life, Chapter III-Soldiering, "Early Days in India" relates B-P's adventures as a young officer with the 13th Hussars in India.
  The 13th Hussars is a cavalry regiment with a long tradition. They were perhaps best known for their part in the Charge of the Light Brigade before the guns at Balaclava in the Crimean War. The regiment continues today as part of The Light Dragoons, an armored regiment of the British Army that saw service in Desert Storm.
  Sir Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of the World Scout Movement served with distinction in the 13th Hussars. The Regiment always held a special place in his heart. The Baden-Powell Home Page brings together links relating to Baden-Powell on the Pine Tree Web and elsewhere.

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Last Modified: 6:30 AM on August 22, 1999