The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854, in the Crimean War. Lord Raglan, overall commander of the British forces, had intended to send the Light Brigade to pursue and harry a retreating Russian artillery battery, a task well-suited to light cavalry. However, due to miscommunication in the chain of command, the Light Brigade was instead sent on a frontal assault against a different artillery battery, one well-prepared with excellent fields of defensive fire.
Although the Light Brigade reached the battery under withering direct fire and scattered some of the gunners, the badly mauled brigade was forced to retreat immediately. Thus, the assault ended with very high British casualties and no decisive gains.
The events are best remembered as the subject of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's narrative poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1854). Published just six weeks after the event, its lines emphasize the valour of the cavalry in bravely carrying out their orders, regardless of the obvious outcome. Blame for the miscommunication has remained controversial, as the original order itself was vague, and the officer who delivered the written orders, with some verbal interpretation, died in the first minute of the assault.