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On 25th October 1854, during the Battle of Balaclava, 670 British soldiers under the command of Lord Cardigan, launched an ill-fated attack upon a well-defended Russian artillery battery and sustained 40 percent casualties in the form of approximately 120 killed, and at least 160 wounded. Fifty were taken prisoner. Also killed were 375 horses. The carnage must have been unimaginable. For most of us, anyway.
The circumstances surrounding the “blunder” which caused the troops to engage, not in a series of quick forays to deter the Russians from making off with Ottoman guns, but in a full-on frontal assault on a well dug-in position, are still unclear, and revolve around personal antipathies among the commanders (Lord Cardigan, Lord Lucan and Lord Raglan), vague and unverified orders, and misunderstandings (and perhaps some ill-feeling) among the aides-de-camps communicating them. The ADC who took the initial order from Lord Raglan (whatever that order was) was killed in the first few minutes of fighting, and was therefore unavailable to help sort out the mess afterwards. Not that there was much sorting outdone, no-one being eager to accept responsibility for the SNAFU.