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October 25 is the 150th anniversary of the "Charge of the Light Brigade"

Tomorrow, October 25, is the 150th anniversary of the "Charge of the Light Brigade" where by a "misunderstood" order sent more than 400 cavalrymen - of a brigade of approx. 600 - thundering to their deaths galloping straight towards Russian cannons in the Crimean War. And against the cannons they rode horses and carried sabres.
One of the strange points of being educated in the UK was the way in which they taught the kids about the hilights of British colonial stupidity.

In the absence of movies, paintings were painted to depict the carnage - take a look at the pix. at
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/04/uk_charge_of_the_light_brigade/html/1.stm

More to the point, the poet Tennyson (Alfred, Lord Tennyson no less) composed six educational stanzas which had to be memorized by the kids.

Part of the baggage I carry around are whole phrases like these -- the CAPS are mine because I parrot them whenever I hear the Washington warlords doing their stupid worst.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
NOT THO' THE SOLDIER KNEW
SOMEONE HAD BLUNDER'D:
THEIR'S NOT TO MAKE REPLY,
THEIR'S NOT TO REASON WHY,
THEIR'S BUT TO DO AND DIE:
INTO THE VALLEY OF DEATH
RODE THE SIX HUNDRED.

It doesn't get better than that - the Brits continued (and continue) to talk about "Death OR Glory" when they are having fits of patriotic fervour.

Full Text:

The Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

1.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

2.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

3.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

4.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

5.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

6.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Copied from Poems of Alfred Tennyson,
J. E. Tilton and Company, Boston, 1870

homepage: homepage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/04/uk_charge_of_the_light_brigade/html/1.stm

Oddly enough... 25.Oct.2004 12:49

Bison Boy

October 25 is also St. Crispin's day, the day of the battle of Agincourt in 1415. Also, the climax of the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944 was on October 25. The US invaded Grenada on October 25, and the Berlin-Rome Axis was formed in 1936. The Frigate USS United States captured HMS Macedonian in 1812, the Chinese attacked the UN forces in Korea in 1950, and photographic evidence of Soviet missile bases in Cuba was presented to the U.N. Security council by U.S. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson.

Busy day in miltary history, eh?

PS: On a lighter note, happy birthday to Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson!

their's not to reason why their's but to do and die... 25.Oct.2004 13:28

this thing here

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


this is a part of history which should not keep repeating, as it so clearly has as of late...

July 3rd, 1863 25.Oct.2004 20:28

R E Lee

When the Confederates charged the Union lines at Gettysberg on the afternoon of July 3rd, 1863, the total casualties were 6467, that figure including 1125 killed, 4550 wounded and 792 captured, for a percentage of 62%. All between 1:10 PM and 3:50 PM.
Americans vs. Americans. Do today's rebels have the stomach?

Dissertation topic 27.Oct.2004 13:47

Elizabeth Cawns, PhD student, Louisana State University ecawns@yahoo.com

I am actually writing my dissertation on military disasters that have been theatricalized into icons of national identity, using especially the Charge of the Light Brigade. I am pleased that there is discussion going on about our continuing blindness to what such actions mean. Anyone interested in corresponding with me on this subject, please email!

 ecawns@yahoo.com