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Balaklava, Battle of

A Dictionary of World History
Edmund WrightEdmund Wright

Balaklava, Battle of 

(25 October 1854)

An inconclusive battle during the Crimean War. Following their defeat on the River Alma, the Russians retreated to Sevastopol, which was then besieged by British, French, and Turkish troops, supplied from the small port of Balaklava. Russian forces moved down into the Balaklava plain, where they were met by the British cavalry division under Lord Lucan. Lord Raglan, British commander-in-chief, sent orders to the Light Brigade under Lord Cardigan to “prevent the enemy carrying away the guns”. It is assumed this order referred to guns on the Vorontsov Heights, but Cardigan understood it to require a direct frontal charge down the valley. Fired on by guns from both flanks and to the front, he and a few dragoons reached the Russian line before retreating. In this “Charge of the Light Brigade” 247 men were killed out of a force of 673. The Russians failed to capture Balaklava, but they held on to the Vorontsov Heights and thus cut the paved supply‐road from the port to the besieging allied forces above Sevastopol.