Crimean War, Charge of the Light Brigade
Historical paintings by renowned military artist Mark Churms of the 17th Lancers and the battle of Balaclava including the charge of the Light Brigade.
Military artist Mark Churms was born in Wales in 1967. He gained his degree in Architectural Studies at Oxford Polytechnic in 1989, but soon his interest in drawing buildings was surpassed by his love of painting horses and in 1991 he began work as a freelance artist. His first commissions were for sporting subjects, Polo, Racing and Hunting. However his consuming passion for military history, particularly of the Napoleonic era, quickly became his dominant theme, with the invaluable counsel of French military experts (accuracy in uniform and terrain of the various battles takes a great deal of time and consultation with many experts across Europe). Mark Churms joined Cranston Fine Arts in 1991 and for a period of 8 years, was commissioned for several series and special commissions. His series of the Zulu War, and of the Battle of Waterloo were the highlights during this period. Mark Churms' deep understanding and detailed knowledge of the period made Mark at that time one of the most prolific and successful artists for Cranston Fine Arts. Cranston Fine Arts are proud with their series of superb art prints and original paintings painted by Mark Churms in this period. We now offer Mark Churms art prints in special 2 and 4 print packs with great discounts as well as a number of selected original paintings at upto half price.
The Light Brigade were being kept in reserve, after the successful charge of the heavy brigade, but the slow advance of the British Infantry to take advantage of the heavy brigades success had given the Russian forces time to take away Artillery pieces from captured redoubts. Raglan, after seeing this ordered the light brigade "to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. This message taken by Captain Nolan, to Lord Lucan, the cavalry Commander.
One of the Officers of raglan's Staff, urged Lucan, who could only see the main Russian Artillery Position at the head of a valley. Lord Lucan rode over to Cardigan and ordered him to attack these guns. So the Light Brigade charged these Russian guns, and not the guns being taken away by Russian forces from the redoubts.
The Carnage was great, from the 673 men who started the charge, 113 men were killed and many others wounded. The Light Brigade was made up of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 8th and 11th Hussars and the 17th Lancers. A Spectating French Officer General Pierre Bosquet proclaimed "It is magnificent but it is not war".
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Battle of Balaclava October 25th 1854. A Russian Force under the command of Prince Aleksandr Menshikov attacked the Port of Balaclava, which was the allied supply base for the siege of Sabastopol. This attack caught the British by Surprise, and the commander Lord Raglan ordered Sir Colin Campbell to for the 93rd Highlanders into a "Thin red Line" to stop the advance of the Russian Force. He then commanded Lord Lucan commander of the cavalry Division to counter attack. The heavy Brigade under the command of Sir James Scarlet, pushed the Russian force of 3,000 cavalry. But Lord Lucan did not follow up this advantage. This gave the Russians time to re group and reform. Lord Lucan had commanded the Light Division to clear the Balaclava Causeway. But instead due to an error of a staff Officer Captain Nolan. The Light Brigade charged the Heavily defended valley to the North. This Famous charge of the light Brigade lead by General Lord cardigan with a Brigade strength of 673. supported by French Chasseurs d'Afrique charged the Russian Guns at the head of the valley, they managed to get to the Guns only to be turned back. The losses were very high. 113 killed, and 134 wounded. General Pierre Bosquet after witnessing the charge remarked "It is magnificent but it is not war". The battle of Balaclava, finally ended leaving Balalcava still in British Hands.
In the Spring of 1854 the Seventeenth lancers, the " Death or Glory Boys" )a nickname derived from the regiments dashingly sinister skull and crossbones badge) received orders to make ready for the Crimea. The Seventeenth was to be brigaded with the 8th and 11th Hussars and the 4th and 13th Light dragoons to comprise what was said at the time to be "The finest Brigade of Light cavalry ever to leave the shores of England" Prior to departure for the front. The seventeenth is reviewed by its Colonel in Chief, the Duke of Cambridge wearing scarlet full dress in contrast to the dark blue of the seventeenth. A bit of swagger before the Charge which would secure the regiments place in history.
Occupying the right of the line is the regimental Band, headed by the drum horse "Old Pompey" The Kettledrums of the regiment carry banners of dark velvet which proudly display the Death's head Regimental Badge. the bandsmen were distinctive red plumes on their Lance caps to distinguish them from the Officers and Lancers, who normally were black plums.
Scots Greys During the Battle of Balaclava
Across the valley of Balaclava there stretched a chain of hillocks four in number, upon which the Turks had constructed redoubts armed with a few heavy ship's guns. With the object of attacking our position, the Russians detached a strong body of horse, together with some guns and several battalions of infantry. These troops, at about seven in the morning, attacked the redoubts, and in spite of the efforts of some of our artillery and cavalry, succeeded in storming and carrying one after the other, the Turks bolting like hares towards the Highlanders' position. A little later a strong body of Russian infantry moved down to the valley, preparatory to an attack in force, their front covered by a line of artillery. The second redoubt fell; again was seen the spectacle of Cossack chasing Moslem; and then the third little fort was attacked.
The Highlanders, meanwhile, were drawn up at a distance of about half a mile from the Russians, who halting to enable the rear squadrons to close up, prepared to charge and annihilate the gallant 93rd. Brave old Colin Campbell never altered their formation, but received that tremendous onslaught in line, to use the world famous phrase "with that thin red line tipped with steel". The Russians were simply mown down, and the survivors fled. Another body of Russian cavalry, pursuing the flying Turks, surged up to the ridge which concealed our cavalry. The Heavy Brigade was drawn up in two lines. The first consisted of the Scots Greys with the Inniskillings; the second was composed of the 4th Royal Irish, 5th Dragoon Guards, and 1st Dragoons. As the Heavies were moving from their position in order to cover the approaches, the enemy's cavalry came after them over the ridge. Lord Lucan saw the danger, galloped after his men, wheeled them round, and ordered them to advance. The first Russian line was composed evidently of some corps d'elite, clothed in a gorgeous light blue uniform glistening with silver. A large body of Lancers came up behind them, and the rear was brought up by a body of Dragoons in grey.
The trumpets of the Heavies rang out successively the advance, the trot, and the charge. Like a thunderbolt the Greys and Inniskillings went straight at the centre of the enemy. Wheeling slightly to the left the Greys swept on with a tremendous force and loud shouts. On they went, gathering force and pace at every stride. There came a terrific crash as the opposing forces met. Through and through their ranks the gallant Heavies charged. By sheer weight and strength and indomitable courage the stalwart troops and their weighty grey horses pierced rank after rank, until they were again seen far among the rearmost squadrons of the Russians. The rest of the Heavies followed on in no less gallant a manner, until the whole mass was writhing beneath the irresistible onslaught of our men.
In the midst of the sanguinary struggle the tall, stalwart form of the adjutant of the Greys, Lieutenant Miller, was seen standing in his stirrups, and yelling with all his strength - "Rally - the Greys!". All those who were able fought their way towards him panting, wounded and covered with dust and blood, and cleared a space round him. As many of the regiment as could be collected were formed up, and once more charged. Just then a squadron of the Inniskillings dashed in on the left of the Russians. The Charge of the Heavy Brigade was over. The encounter was won. Again the unflinching Dragoons were victorious, and more than ever entitled to the motto "Nulli Secundus."
Fine old Sir Colin Campbell rode up later on, and uncovering cried : "Greys! Gallant Greys! I am sixty-one years old, and if I were young again I should be proud to sever in your ranks!"
The enthusiasm of the troops who witnessed this glorious charge of the Heavies was unbounded. Officers and men raised their caps and shouted and cheered as the effects of the charge was apparent in the rout of the Russians which ensued. Lord Raglan, who with his staff, occupied a commanding position on a ridge, overlooking the scene of the struggle, sent one of his aides-de-camp to General Scarlett who had led the charge with unfaltering courage. "His Lordship bids me say, Sir," said that officer, "that the charge was admirably executed."
The Russian cavalry retired in much confusion after this heavy blow, while shot after shot from the batteries plunged through their disordered ranks. After the charge the Heavy Brigade moved up to the neck of the valley just about the time the Light Cavalry had been ordered to charge the Russian guns. The Greys who, together with their old Waterloo comrades the Royals, were in the first line, where exposed to a tremendous crossfire from the guns and from the musketry of the Russian infantry who had then occupied in force the captured redoubts, but they escaped fairly well.
Despite the tremendous fighting, the loss of the Greys was very slight. Their total casualties were two men and 14 horses killed, and four officers, five sergeants and 48 men wounded. Sergeant-Major Grieve when he rescued an officer who was in imminent danger of being killed in the melee. He was cut off and surrounded by the enemy, when Grieve caught sight of him. Charging up to the spot, the Sergeant-Major cut down one Russian, and disabled and dispersed the others. For this conspicuous bravery Grieve was one of the proud band of 62 sailors and soldiers paraded before Her Majesty on June 26th 1857, in Hyde Park, when the most highly prized decoration in the British Army, the Victoria Cross, was pinned to his breast by the Queen's own hand. Another non-commissioned officer of the regiment also signally distinguished himself on that historic occasion, and for his bravery received the much coveted Victoria Cross. Sergeant Ramage first of all saved the life of a wounded comrade; then he rescued another from no less than seven Russians, whom he dispersed; and wound up the day dismounting in the valley and taking a Russian prisoner, whom he brought off in triumph. Excerpt from the Navy and Army Illustrated January 15th 1897 by G F Bacon
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