Charge of the Light Brigade: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Charge of the Light Brigade.

  • The Charge of the Light Brigade was an attack by British light cavalry against Russian troops. It took place in the 1854 Crimean War, during the Battle of Balaclava.

  • The Battle of Balaclava was part of the siege of Sevastopol, which lasted from 1854 to 1855. The objective of the British army was to capture the port of Sevastopol from the Russians.
  • The Light Brigade had been ordered to chase a retreating Russian artillery company. Poor communication meant that they fought a larger and more prepared army, and suffered heavy losses.
  • Lord Raglan, the 7th Earl of Cardigan led the Charge of the Light Brigade. He is generally recognized for his bravery in leading the charge, despite little chance of succeeding.
  • About 107 of the 674 soldiers involved in the charge were killed. Other British troops later died in hospital, and many were taken prisoner by the Russians.

Charge of the Light Brigade

  • After receiving the order to charge, the brigade rode into a valley between two cliffs. This valley was described as the ‘valley of death’ in Alfred Lord Tennyson‘s poem about the event.
  • Tennyson’s famous poem of the same name describes the charge. It was written just a few weeks after the event and praises the men’s bravery, while emphasizing the futility.
  • The Charge of the Light Brigade has been the subject of several paintings and two major films. Errol Flynn starred in the 1936 film, while Trevor Howard played the Earl of Cardigan in a 1968 version.
  • Lord Raglan survived the charge and was called a hero. Soon after the battle, he went to his yacht which was moored nearby, to eat dinner and drink champagne.
  • In 1875, survivors of the charge met in London to celebrate the 21st anniversary, and reunions were held regularly after that. In 2004, a monument to the Crimean War was built near the spot.

Betsi Cadwaladr: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Betsi Cadwaldr, the famous Welsh nurse who treated the wounded of the Crimean War.

  • Elizabeth Cadwaladr was born in Llaycil in north Wales in 1789. She was commonly known as Betsi Cadwaladr, but she is sometimes referred to as Beti Cadwaladr or Elizabeth Davis.
  • As a child, she was employed as a maid in Wales. When she was fourteen she left Wales for England and became a maid to a household in Liverpool.

  • She moved to London and worked as a servant and as an assistant. She often travelled with her employers and she apparently witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo and was deeply moved by the injured soldiers.
  • In her 30s she became a maid to a ship’s captain. This gave her the opportunity to see more of the world. She spent time in South America, Africa and Australia.
  • Although she hadn’t received any formal training as a nurse, Betsi Cadwaladr often cared for the sick when she was on board the ship.

Betsi Cadwaladr

  • Betsi was moved by an article in The Times detailing the conditions facing those injured in the Battle of the Alma (one of the conflicts in the Crimean War). She decided to train as a nurse in London, and she joined the military nursing service.
  • Florence Nightingale, who came from a privileged background, did not want the Welsh working-class Betsi Cadwaladr to go to the Crimea, but Betsi, who was now in her 60s, went anyway.
  • She was posted to the hospital being run by Florence Nightingale in Scutari in Turkey. The two nurses didn’t get on. Florence Nightingale felt that strict rules and regulations should be in place, where as Betsi believed in a more instinctive and intuitive approach to caring for the sick.
  • Betsi Cadwaladr was moved to Balaclava. She worked twenty-hour days and made massive improvements to the hospital. Even Florence Nightingale was impressed by Betsi’s work in Balaclava.
  • Betsi Cadwaladr was forced to return to London in 1855. She had cholera and was suffering from dysentery.  She died in 1860.
  • In 2009 the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board was named in honour of the Welsh nurse.

What next? Discover more about the Crimean War and learn about Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole.