Swordswoman wrote: the Light Brigade had already confronted the counter-attack from the Cossacks and Uhlan Lancers, and that with the support of the Heavies they'd have beaten them off.
H'm. Now that's an interesting point. I think it's fair to say the remnants of the Light Brigade managed, miraculously, to survive the presence of Rhyzhov's cavalry, whose morale appears to have been so shaken by repeated British refusal to accept imminent destruction that, for the second time that day, they allowed themselves to be driven back by an inferior force of British cavalry.
The Heavy Brigade coming up in support might well have compounded that success, even though presumably they too would have been in a fairly battered state, despite being spared the enemy fire from the Fedioukine Heights and, of course, from the Don Cossack battery.
Would their added presence have been enough to deter or even defeat a counter-attack by the Russian cavalry? A wargamer's question, I think. Somebody somewhere must have fought that scenario. It seems the Russians began to recover from whatever hypnotic effect the attack of the Light Brigade had upon them when they realised how few of the enemy were left. Perhaps they were influenced by pity or admiration. If so, that sentiment might well have dissipated once the need to drive the British cavalry back became clear, in order to prevent their comrades at the redoubts from being isolated and defeated in detail. There were about 20 squadrons in reserve available to do the job, if they could be concentrated, and the guns withdrawn in the face of the French attack up Fedioukine were still in play.
This is all wildly speculative but it does mean considering each of the pieces in play to help clarify what might have been in the minds of protagonists; their expectations and assumptions.
Certainly, one could speculate about the effect of the Cavalry Division tying up the Russian reserves while the 1st and 4th Infantry Divisions advance to re-take the redoubts. But that didn't happen either!
Swordswoman wrote: The British gunners left with the Turks to man them were certainly from the Naval Brigade.
I read that the guns in question were 12-pounders from HMS Diamond. So, yes, how was it observers on the Sapoune Heights thought the guns were being removed when the logical thing would have been to turn them around to face Balaklava? Was that the movement observed?
Of course, that observers on the Sapoune Heights could make such an assumption supports the possibility that, from Raglan's point of view, having failed to capture Balaklava, the Russians appeared to be withdrawing rather than remaining to consolidate their hold on the Causeway and the Woronzoff Road. Was that wishful thinking?
Raglan's order "Cavalry to advance and take advantage of any opportunity to recover the Heights. They will be supported by infantry which have been ordered.
does suggest a strange mix of complacency and wits-end. By then, the time for the Light Brigade to exploit the success of the Heavy Brigade had passed.
As far as 'carried away' is concerned, it is indeed that sense of appropriation or theft that leads me to doubt the order as it was written could have indicated anything other than captured guns. Presumably
, Nolan was aware of the belief that the guns were being removed. If so, then that is where I have difficulty in accepting that he thought the Cossack battery was the objective Raglan intended.
However, if there is ambiguity on that point, then the possibility of his having misunderstood comes into play and, given that Nolan passionately felt the Cavalry should move in some
direction and may have been sanguine as to the ability of the Light Brigade to execute such a task, then indeed, it may have seemed to him that "There were our guns, there were our enemy."
Swordswoman wrote: a Victorian gentleman more familiar with the drawing room than the realities of a battlefield.
By the way, is that not possibly being a little harsh on the good Lord Raglan? It may have been almost forty years before but the empty sleeve did indicate some
experience of the battlefield- although not of actual command!
Swordswoman wrote: In sum - Nolan MIGHT have accidentally pointed the wrong way, but it's extraordinarily unlikely, as anyone who's stood at the head of the North valley can testify. The London public might have swallowed it - but only in the same way as a Russian might think it credible for a man to stand at Charing Cross and indicate Whitehall when he meant the Mall.
Nolan MIGHT have done it deliberately as Adkin suggests, but he'd have also known the consequences of such an unprecedented act of disobedience, and (unlike us) could NOT know he would never live to face them.
Or Nolan might have misunderstood - which is my own contention.
A vivid comparison. Yes. In the end, one must always go back to the ground and, yes, it is easy to get caught up in some notion of romantic self-immolation on the part of the real Nolan (unlike Errol Flynn's 'Vickers') who may have been quite satisfied at the thought of dying in the saddle but presumably would have preferred to survive.
For all the reasons you state, I agree with you absolutely that the idea of Nolan deliberately misdirecting the Light Brigade is not credible.
There is, though, the question of how Nolan was standing - or sitting- in relation to the objectives. A right arm carelessly flung back-hand is not as accurate as a penetrating forehand thrust. I seem to remember the 1968 film hedged their bets.
The idea of Nolan having misunderstood the order and then, perhaps, realising his error and inarticulately, incompletely, endeavouring to redress the situation is certainly the more convincing interpretation of that final spurring on.
To me, it is the mix of splendid regimental soldiering and inept, bumbling generalship that makes Balaklava, as the epitome of the Crimean debacle, such an extraordinary event. As is often said of soldiers, it may be that there was no place many of the men of the Light Brigade would rather have been that day than charging with their regiments. Perhaps for some, as for their mounts, it was stoic, courageous acceptance of their duty. Either way, it is the waste of such spirit that seems so tragic.
This is fun. After my own heart:http://www.silverwhistle.co.uk/crimea/films.html