After 238 pages of the most excruciating build-up, the moment for the charge of the light brigade at Balaclava is at hand. Here it comes. The order is given by the Mutt & and Jeff of the British Army, Lord Cardigan and Lord Raglan. And the men are off!
While there’s no suspense about the events, the manner of telling is truly incredible. There were “watchers on the heights,” and what they saw was this: The lines of British horsemen in the plain below were “expanding and contracting with strange mechanical precision.”
This is how author Cecil Woodham-Smith explains it, in a sentence that is more than fitting for the honor of being the Sentence of the Day:
- “Death was coming fast, and the Light Brigade was meeting death in perfect order; as a man or horse dropped, the riders on each side of him opened out; as soon as they had ridden clear, the ranks closed again.”
A moment of silence, please, for the fallen.
The Russians were so incredulous at what the British cavalry had just done that, instead of pressing their advantage (and finishing off some seventy-odd survivors), they began to hesitate. Which is the only reason there were any survivors at all.