Polarisation of attitudes in the Crimean War

  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 03-04-13 20:47

Glorification of the Charge of the Light Brigade

  • Lord Tennyson's 'Charge of the Light Brigade' glorifies the battle, calls for the deaths to be seen as noble sacrifices, to see the soldiers as heroes
  • However it does highlight human error through 'someone had blundered'
  • The courage of troops is also glorified in the poem; he uses emotive language to evoke and involve the readers and try to make them share his views.
  • He refers to the men as riding 'boldly', even though they knew it would result in almost certain death; he says to 'honour the charge they made', conveying how he has respect for the men who made the sacrifice; Tennyson refers to them as the 'noble 600' and as 'heroes'
  • Raglan wrote to Queen Victoria, in response to her concern for the welfare of the troops: 'eddeavouring to provide for the various wants of your Majesties troops' 'not in his power to lighten the burden of their duties'
  • William Russell sent a detailed account of the Charge of the Light Brigade, which was published in the Times on 14th November 1984. In this he referred to the charge as an 'exhibition of valour, courage, daring chivalry and yet a disaster'. He also describes the men as 'herioc...glitering...swept proudly'; the language used in this report glorifies the men and their actions.
  • However, as Russell wanted to embarrass Raglan's incompetence during the Charge his emphasis on the mens' selfless action may be over exaggerated.
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Suffering, disorder and incompetence of the Charge

  • as almost all the 600 men who were ordered to take part in the Charge died, due to the lack of competent leadership, many people were alarmed at how high the death toll was and how the men were ordered to run to their death
  • William Russell describes the men as 'scattered and broken', and Tennyson describes the men as riding into the 'jaws of death...the mouth of hell'.
  • Sergeant Bond, who was involved in the Charge describes the event as being chaotic, with men 'falling in every direction' and of the fallen soldiers 'brain partly laying on the ground'.
  • but this is a subjective view and he was emotionally involved as he watched his fellow soldiers die, which would be psychologically scarring.
  • blame of the horrific result of the Charge of the Light Brigade: between 4 main people involved; Raglan, Nolan, Lucan and Cardigan. Raglan: leader and therefore is held responsible as the verbal order he gave Nolan to give to Lucan was ambiguous; although he was the leader he had little immediate control over operations on the Sapoune Heights.
  • but Nolan can be held responsible as he offered no explanation to Raglan's vague order and didn't specify, when he was asked for more details he just offered a contemptious gesture.
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  • However, Lucan is held responsible by some as even though he realised the Charge would be suicidal he still carried on, instead of waiting for further, more specific instructures; Lucan's words were 'we have no choice but to obey.'
  • Finally, Cardigan can be held responsible as he gave the order to advance and was more concerned with Nolan riding ahead of him than the welfare of his soldiers.
  • Also, he left midway through the charge without seeing if his comrades needed him.
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Public reactions to poor conditions

  • Start to see alarm at the incompetence of the army
  • crowded + unorganised harbours in the Crimea meant: supplies very slow to reach troops
  • It was also a very harsh winter, warm winter clothes were in short supply and it took a long time for new supplies to reach troops
  • As a direct response, Sir Robert Peel gave £200 to comforts for the sick and wounded
  • This started off the Times Crimea fund; this ended up raising over £12000
  • Members of the public wrote letters to newspapers expressing their shock at the suffering the troops were facing (this put pressure on the government to change something)
  • Florence Nightingale offered to get a team of nurses together
  • Isambard Kindom Brunel (an engineer) sent a pre fabricated hospital to Crimea
  • Navies were sent out to build roads and huts in the Crimea
  • A gentlemen's club sent its chef over to do the army cooking.
  • Florence Nightingale: After seeing the poor conditions in the Crimea: set up training for nurses to go out to the Crimea. Went out to the Crimea with team of nurses to a hospital in Scutari. Seen as 'angel of mercy' by British Public, privided comfort and care for sick + dying
  • 'Lady with the Lamp' myth created.
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  • Mary Seacole: perhaps the real angel of mercy. She heard about the appalling conditions in the Crimea so decided she wanted to help
  • Travelled to London to try to be sent out as a nurse; she got rejected so she paid for her own passage out to the Crimea.
  • She set up the British hotel; it was right out on the front line and it provided provisions for the troops on the front line.
  • Widely supported by soldiers and ex-soldiers, they, along with the public paid for her to stay in England.
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  • Mary Seacole: perhaps the real angel of mercy. She heard about the appalling conditions in the Crimea so decided she wanted to help
  • Travelled to London to try to be sent out as a nurse; she got rejected so she paid for her own passage out to the Crimea.
  • She set up the British hotel; it was right out on the front line and it provided provisions for the troops on the front line.
  • Widely supported by soldiers and ex-soldiers, they, along with the public paid for her to stay in England.
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The winter of 1854-55 + effect on the British

The harsh winter highlighted the incompetence of the system and affected the British public's view of the Crimean war

  • problems with supply as only some of the vessels could be administered at one time in the harbour: meant there wasn't a sufficient amount of supplies being delivered to keep within the demands
  • due to two things: the storm which sank the steamship Prince which was carrying nearly all the supploies which had been ordered by the war office in August to provide the initial stocks of winter clothing for the army. 2 poor organisation of the operation, which meant that stock would go to waste as it would be waiting in the harbous and wouldn't get delivered in time.
  • inefficiency of Admiral Boxer meant consumables would be left to rot, due to congestion in the Balaklava harbour
  • due to harsh weather conditions and lack of tents and firewood: men were unable to cook, stay dry or stay warm
  • lack of supplies wasn't just beacuse of the problems of transport in the harbour but also the roads, as Russia controlled the Worontsov road initially; depriving the army of the only metalled road up the Sapoune Ridge
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  • administrative incompetence added to the problems as departmental jealousies meant that people didn't work together efficiently, as even when the appalling state of the army was common knowledge the Treasury did nothing as Colonel MacMurdo had independent spending power, spent too much, and Charles Trevelyan didn't want to give him any more money.
  • due to this lack of money the medical situation worsened as the hospital conditions were scarce: far too few hospital tents, food and medicine 
  • e.g. there were 1000 patients suffering from acute diarrhoea and only 20 chamber pots, there was no transport to move the sick and the floors were unscrubbed and crawling with vermin
  • this resulted in there being an increase in the spread of diseases such as cholera, scurvy, gangrene, typhus, typhoid, frostbite and dystentry.
  • at the end of January there were only 11,000 men left available to fight and the sick and wounded totalled 23,000
  • when the British public heard this news they were appealled as Britain was the richest country in the world, yet it couldn't provide its army with the basic necessities. 
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Reactions at the end of the Crimean War

  • general rejoicing
  • the regiments were reviewed, cannons fired, parties took place
  • music was composed, songs written
  • men wore balaclava helmets

The polarisation in views of the Crimean war, most specifically the Charge of the Light Brigade was mainly due to what people read in the papers or heard from men who returned home.

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How the Crimean War affected reputations

Lord Raglan: the leader of the British Army

Evidence they were to blame:

  • initally only sent a verbal message
  • gave vague orders (e.g. didn't specift where the Light Brigade should advance to, which guns they needed to reclaim etc.)

Evidence they weren't to blame:

  • Argued that Lucan/Cardgian should have used their initiative
  • the order was made even more unclear by Nolan's delivery of it

Impact upon their reputation

  • received great criticisms for his actions
  • was regarded as an incompetent leader
  • tried to place the blame on Lucan
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How the Crimean War affected the reputations

Lord Cardigan: Led the Light Brigade

Evidence they were to blame:

  • blindly accepted the order without questioning it
  • didn't care about his men
  • cared more that Nolan had tried to ride in front of him

Evidence they weren't to blame:

  • would have been punished for questioning Raglan's order - had no choice but to blindly accept
  • double chekced the other with Lucan (even if he didn't verify it with Raglan)

Impact on their reputation:

  • Left the Crimea of his own accord
  • Was welcomed home as a hero, considered brave for obeying orders
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How the Crimean War affected the reputations

Captain Nolan: Staff Officer chosen to deliver Raglan's orders

Evidence they were to blame:

  • was conceited and openly critical of Lucan and Cardigan (so not the ideal messenger)
  • assumed he knew which cannons Raglan reffered to - gave own interpretation of the command to Cardigan
  • gestured vaguely which direction they should advance in

Evidence they weren't to blame:

  • the order itself was vague so he couldn't have given a specific direction for the Light Brigade to advance in even if he'd wanted to
  • did try to stop the Light Brigade once he realised they were charging towards the wrong guns

Impact on their reputation:

  • Nolan was killed by shrapnel when trying to warn Cardigan that they were advancing towards the wrong guns
  • polarised public opinions - some blamed him whereas others defended him and his actions
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Leadership Issues

Poor leadership was a prominent problem that the British army faced in the Crimean War

The British had struggled with recruitment when war broke out, especially with Officers since they had to be both capable and experienced.

This resulted in:

  • only one of the British officers was under the age of 60
  • two of the officers had led nothing larger than a battalion
  • many officers had never seen active service (despite experience being a ket requirement)
  • Lord Raglan himself was 65, hadn't seen active service for nearly 40 years and had never led a force

This meant that most of the British Officers were old fashioned and used methods/tactics which were completely out-dated and inefficient in warfare at that time.Their inability to command forces was exacerbated by the fact that commissions were still being bought at this point, so high ranking officials were given their tital based upon their social status rather than actual ability. There were also a considerable number of officers who only joined the army because it was fashionable to do so, again adding to the inefficiency of leadership.

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