TA0033: Charge of the Light Brigade

Charge of the Light Brigade

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Michael Scott

The Charge of the Light Brigade is a famous poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, whose lines “Theirs not to reason why / Theirs but to do and die” have made the charge a symbol of warfare at its most reckless. The actual cavalry charge, led by Lord Cardigan, was most possibly based on a misunderstood order which occurred during the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854 during the Crimean War. The brigade was not completely destroyed, but after regrouping, only 195 men were still with horses. The charge of the Light Brigade became a subject of considerable controversy and public dispute throughout England. It continues to be studied by modern military historians and students as an example of what can go wrong when accurate military intelligence is lacking and orders are unclear.


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Lord Alfred Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1850 until his death in 1892 and is one of the most popular English poets in literature.

Much of his verse was based on classical or mythological themes. Tennyson’s most famous work is Idylls of the King, a series of narrative poems based entirely on King Arthur and the Arthurian tales. During his career, Lord Tennyson attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success even in his lifetime. He continued writing into his eighties and upon his death in 1892 was buried at Westminster Abbey. He was succeeded as 2nd Baron Tennyson by his son, Hallam, who produced an authorized biography of his father in 1897, and was later the second Governor-General of Australia.