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The Charge of the Light Brigade

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The Charge of the Light Brigade is one of the most famous poems of war in the English language.

The doomed Charge of the Light Brigade took place on 25th October 1854 during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War.  About 600 lightly armed cavalry troops charged bravely to their death against 25,000 Russians because of a mistake of their commanders. Only 195 came back.

William Howard Russell was a journalist on The Times and one the earliest examples of an ‘embedded’ reporter.  He despatched an article published in the second edition of The Times on 13th November, 1854 and then again the following day.  

Alfred Tennyson read the report, saw the line ‘Someone had blundered,’ and was inspired to write the poem straight away. It was changed about twenty times and published in The Examiner on Saturday 9th December, 1854.   

Alfred Tennyson was the Poet Laureate and so was meant to write about nationally significant events.  It is interesting that he wrote a poem suggesting criticism of military leadership.  The poem was published first in a national periodical, The Examiner, then in a book and then in single sheets. .

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Last updated: 2 February 2021

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