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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Had been manoeuvring to protect Balaklava


[Sidenote:

Todleben]

But Sebastopol was better prepared to meet an attack than England knew. True it is that early in the war the city might have been taken by a dash from the land and sea. But the chance was now gone. Three days after the defeat of Alma, Menzikov sank seven vessels of the Russian Black Sea fleet in the mouth of the harbor. On all sides the city was strongly fortified in accordance with the suggestion of Todleben, an ingenious artillery officer.

[Sidenote: Allies beaten off]

Instead of moving directly upon Sebastopol the allies first marched to Balaklava, further to the south, where they would be in constant communication with the ships and could establish a base of supplies. On October 17, an unsuccessful attack was made on Sebastopol.

[Sidenote: Russian success]

At dawn on October 25, the Russians crossed the Tchernaya and stole rapidly on until their vanguard had reached a position from which they could cannonade Canrobert's Hill, the post most distant from the forces of the allies and nearest the village of Kamara. The main Russian army under Liprandi soon came up and began to fire upon Canrobert's Hill and the adjacent works. The English replied with the assistance of a troop of horse artillery and of a field battery. Two English divisions and two French brigades were sent to the aid of the garrison

on the hills. The Russians succeeded in storming Canrobert's Hill and in capturing the next and smaller fortification. Threatened by overwhelming numbers, the troops on the remaining hills withdrew.

[Sidenote: Balaklava]

Two English cavalry brigades--the Light and the Heavy--commanded by Lord Lucan, had been manoeuvring to protect Balaklava. The Light Brigade, under Lord Cardigan, faced the Tchernaya; the Heavy Brigade, under Scarlett, was on the Balaklava side of the ridge. A great body of Russian cavalry swept down the slope upon the Heavy Brigade, and for a moment threw it into disorder. But Scarlett's men charged the Russians. The two opposing bodies of cavalry clashed and seemed to melt one within the other. Then the Russian horsemen yielded, and fled over the ridge whence they had first appeared five minutes before.

[Sidenote: The charge of the Light Brigade]

A disposition on the Russian side to carry off the captured guns induced Lord Raglan to send Lord Lucan an order "to advance rapidly to the front and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns." The order was carried by Captain Nolan, who found Lucan between his two brigades, with the Light Brigade beyond Woronzov road. Whose "front" was meant Lucan did not know. Nolan conjectured that "the guns" in question were those which had retired with the retreating Russian cavalry. Already the Russian cavalry had taken protection behind its works toward the Tchernaya, and was supported by Liprandi's troops posted along the Woronzov road, and by Russian guns bearing on the valley from the ridge and from Fedioukin heights. Nolan, Lord Lucan reported later, insisted that these very guns must be regained. Although Lord Cardigan of the Light Brigade shared Lucan's misgivings he obeyed the command. With the order, "The Brigade will advance!" the famous charge of the Six Hundred began. Nolan galloped obliquely across the Brigade as it started. He was killed by the first shell fired from a Russian gun. Into the thick of the Russians Cardigan rode with his men. The forlorn exploit has been immortalized by Alfred Tennyson:


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