Crimean War

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1854 Oct 25

Battle of Balaclava

Balaclava, Sevastopol

The Allies decided against a slow assault on Sevastopol and instead prepared for a protracted siege. The British, under the command of Lord Raglan, and the French, under Canrobert, positioned their troops to the south of the port on the Chersonese Peninsula: the French Army occupied the bay of Kamiesch on the west coast whilst the British moved to the southern port of Balaclava. However, this position committed the British to the defence of the right flank of the Allied siege operations, for which Raglan had insufficient troops. Taking advantage of this exposure, the Russian General Liprandi, with some 25,000 men, prepared to attack the defences around Balaclava, hoping to disrupt the supply chain between the British base and their siege lines.

The Battle of Balaklava began with a Russian artillery and infantry attack on the Ottoman redoubts that formed Balaclava's first line of defence on the Vorontsov Heights. The Ottoman forces initially resisted the Russian assaults, but lacking support they were eventually forced to retreat. When the redoubts fell, the Russian cavalry moved to engage the second defensive line in the South Valley, held by the Ottoman and the British 93rd Highland Regiment in what came to be known as the "Thin Red Line". This line held and repelled the attack; as did General James Scarlett's British Heavy Brigade who charged and defeated the greater proportion of the cavalry advance, forcing the Russians onto the defensive. However, a final Allied cavalry charge, stemming from a misinterpreted order from Raglan, led to one of the most famous and ill-fated events in British military history – the Charge of the Light Brigade.

The loss of the Light Brigade had been such a traumatic event that the allies were incapable of further action that day. To the Russians the Battle of Balaclava was a victory and proved a welcome boost in morale—they had captured the Allied redoubts (from which seven guns were removed and taken to Sevastopol as trophies), and had gained control of the Worontsov Road.

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Last Updated: : Mon Sep 25 2023