In 1854, Britain, France, and Turkey were at war with Russia in Crimea. And, on October 25, they fought valiantly to keep the Russians from capturing the strategically valuable port of Balaclava. The battle was going pretty well, too, even though the Russians had just overrun some Turkish positions. Lord Raglan, commander of the British forces, ordered the Light Brigade to prevent the Russians from carrying away the Turkish artillery pieces. The Light Brigade, made of lancers, light dragoons, and hussars, was well suited to such a task. Unfortunately, the orders that Lord Raglan sent were not exactly the orders the Light Brigade received.
Lord Raglan's message to "advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy from carrying away the guns" got shortened to "advance rapidly."
Trapped by the valley slopes, the Light Brigade quickly realized it would have little room to maneuver. They would be fired upon not only by the powerful battery in front of them, but by soldiers on both valley slopes. It was, in other words, a suicide run. However, the members of the Brigade were good soldiers. They believed that if that's what their orders were, then that's what they were going to do, no matter what the cost. So they charged.
Lord Raglan, watching from a distance, quickly realized something was wrong. However, he could not send in more troops to the slaughter and pulled the Heavy Brigade, which was supposed to provide backup. The Light Brigade was quickly surrounded, and within twenty minutes, nearly half of them died. In addition to the human loss, about 375 horses were either killed or captured.
Because of their utmost courage and loyalty, the Light Brigade is regarded as heroes and celebrated in English history.