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Crimean texts


The Maxse Letter - an Appendix

The documents and statements compared

The relevant parts of the documents and statements cited in the topic The Maxse Letter are here set out more fully, and are then analysed by the events which they describe.


List of the Statements

RefItemDate
MLMaxse Letter28.10.1854
LHLucan House of Lords19.3.1855
CHCardigan House of Lords19.3.1855
LPLucan PamphletMarch or April 1855
CLCardigan Letter6.4.1855
CACardigan Affidavit1863
LKLucan Statement to Kinglake1863-1868
CKCardigan Statement to Kinglake1863-1868
OMOlley Memorandum29.7.1897

List of the Events

  1. Lucan receives order no. 4 from Raglan via Nolan.
  2. Lucan orders the cavalry division to mount.
  3. Cardigan sends message to Lucan via Maxse.
  4. Lucan replies to Maxse’s message.
  5. Lucan orders Cardigan to advance with the Light Brigade
  6. Cardigan’s response.
  7. Lucan’s reply.

The Statements

(All the parts not in italics are repeated in the Concordance below.)

ML (Maxse Letter 28.10.1854)
An order was sent to Lord Lucan for Lord C to attack with Light Brigade. He sent me to Lord Lucan to say that the spot was three quarters of a mile off, and that there were batteries on each side and a heavy battery in front, also that the hills were lined with riflemen. Lord Lucan said he could not help it and we must attack.
LH (Lucan House of Lords 19.3.1855)
But Lord Raglan goes on to say,- ‘So little had he sought to do as he had been directed that he had no men in advance of his main body.’ Now the fact is that Lord Cardigan’s brigade was so much in advance that I received a communication from his lordship, through his aide-de-camp, objecting to stand where he was, because he was so much in advance that he expected the batteries on the left to open upon him.
CH (Cardigan House of Lords 19.3.1855)
When the noble earl, in his address, said I sent my aide-de-camp to state that the force of the enemy were so numerous in front of the Light Brigade that I felt it difficult to hold my ground — (Cries of ‘No.’) yes; those were his very words, I sent no such message whatever. In the message I sent I said, observing a movement was going to be made, that the hills on both sides of the valley, leading down the valley at right angles with it, on which was the Russian battery, with the cavalry behind it, were occupied by Russian riflemen and artillery. I sent this message; and when the lieutenant-general came in front and ordered me to attack the battery in the valley, behind which was placed the large force of Russian cavalry — which had been perfectly perceptible to myself and to the whole of the Light Brigade for at least 20 minutes — my reply was, ‘Certainly, Sir, but before I go I must be allowed to point out that the hills in both valleys are covered with Russian artillery and riflemen.’ The answer I received was, ‘They are Lord Raglan’s positive orders.’
LP (Lucan Pamphlet March or April 1855)
The communication received by Lord Lucan from Captain Maxse, Aide-de-Camp, was that Lord Cardigan objected to his brigade being placed where it was, as there were batteries of the enemy on the left which would open upon it. Lord Lucan, who was at this time riding up to the right flank of the Light Cavalry Brigade, replied,— ‘Tell Lord Cardigan that he is placed there by Lord Raglan’s orders, but that I will take care of him.’
CL (Cardigan Letter 6.4.1855)
I have only to repeat what I have stated in my place in Parliament, that the only message I ever sent was, that the hills on each flank were covered with Russian riflemen and artillery leading to the Russian force stationed in the valley below, and the answer was, ‘We were about to attack immediately.’
CA (Cardigan Affidavit 1863)
After a time, the Light Cavalry Brigade was suddenly ordered to mount; and Lord Lucan then came to our front and ordered me to attack the Russians in the valley — I replied ‘Certainly Sir but allow me to point out to you that the Russians have a Battery in the Valley in our front and Batteries and Riflemen on each flank’ — Lord Lucan said ‘I cannot help that, it is Lord Raglan’s positive order that the Light Brigade attacks immediately.’
LK (Lucan Statement to Kinglake 1863-1868)
With General Airey’s order in my hand, I trotted up to Lord Cardigan, and gave him distinctly its contents so far as they concerned him. I would not on my oath say that I did not read the order to him. He at once objected, on the ground that he would be exposed to a flanking battery. When ordered to take up his then position, he had expressed, through his aide-de-camp, the same apprehensions. I told him that I was aware of it. ‘I know it,’ but that ‘Lord Raglan would have it,’ and that we had no choice but to obey.
CK (Cardigan Statement to Kinglake 1863-1868)
The brigade was suddenly ordered to mount, upon which I sent one of my aides-de-camp to reconnoitre the ground.

Lord Lucan then came in front of my brigade and said, ‘Lord Cardigan, you will attack the Russians in the valley.’ I said, ‘Certainly, my lord,’ dropping my sword at the same time; ‘but allow me to point out to you that there is a battery in front, a battery on each flank, and the ground is covered with Russian riflemen.’

Lord Lucan answered: ‘I cannot help that; it is Lord Raglan’s positive order that the Light Brigade is to attack the enemy;’ . . .

OM (Olley Memorandum 29.7.1897)
We then received orders to take our position at the mouth of the next Valley — After we had done so, we could see the Russians forming up at the other end of the Valley.

After a time Captain Nolan brought orders to the Earl of Lucan — I was within ten paces from the Earl and his Staff when the Order was brought in ‘We may advance but what can we do?’ said the Earl. ‘There is the Enemy and there are the Guns,’ cavalierly replied Nolan, pointing to the Russian Squadrons. The Earl of Lucan forwarded the Order by Captain Nolan to the Earl of Cardigan.


Concordance

Event 1. Lucan receives order no. 4 from Raglan via Nolan.

ML: An order was sent to Lord Lucan for Lord C to attack with Light Brigade.

OM: After a time Captain Nolan brought orders to the Earl of Lucan.

Event 2. Lucan orders the cavalry division to mount.

CA: After a time, the Light Cavalry Brigade was suddenly ordered to mount . . .

CK: The brigade was suddenly ordered to mount . . .

Event 3. Cardigan sends message to Lucan via Maxse

ML: He sent me to Lord Lucan to say that the spot was three quarters of a mile off, and that there were batteries on each side and a heavy battery in front, also that the hills were lined with riflemen.

LH: . . . I received a communication from his lordship, through his aide-de-camp, objecting to stand where he was, because he was so much in advance that he expected the batteries on the left to open upon him.

CH: When the noble earl, in his address, said I sent my aide-de-camp to state that the force of the enemy were so numerous in front of the Light Brigade that I felt it difficult to hold my ground — (Cries of ‘No.’) yes; those were his very words, I sent no such message whatever. In the message I sent I said, observing a movement was going to be made, that the hills on both sides of the valley, leading down the valley at right angles with it, on which was the Russian battery, with the cavalry behind it, were occupied by Russian riflemen and artillery. I sent this message . . .

LP: The communication received by Lord Lucan from Captain Maxse, Aide-de-Camp, was that Lord Cardigan objected to his brigade being placed where it was, as there were batteries of the enemy on the left which would open upon it.

CL: . . . the only message I ever sent was, that the hills on each flank were covered with Russian riflemen and artillery leading to the Russian force stationed in the valley below . . .

LK: When ordered to take up his then position, he had expressed, through his aide-de-camp, the same apprehensions.[ that he would be exposed to a flanking battery]

CK: . . . upon which I sent one of my aides-de-camp to reconnoitre the ground.

Event 4. Lucan replies to Maxse’s message

ML: Lord Lucan said he could not help it and we must attack.

LP: Lord Lucan, who was at this time riding up to the right flank of the Light Cavalry Brigade, replied,— ‘Tell Lord Cardigan that he is placed there by Lord Raglan’s orders, but that I will take care of him.’

CL: . . . and the answer was, "We were about to attack immediately."

Event 5. Lucan orders Cardigan to advance with the Light Brigade

CH: . . . and when the lieutenant-general came in front and ordered me to attack the battery in the valley, behind which was placed the large force of Russian cavalry — which had been perfectly perceptible to myself and to the whole of the Light Brigade for at least 20 minutes . . .

CA: . . . and Lord Lucan then came to our front and ordered me to attack the Russians in the valley.

LK: With General Airey’s order in my hand, I trotted up to Lord Cardigan, and gave him distinctly its contents so far as they concerned him. I would not on my oath say that I did not read the order to him.

CK: Lord Lucan then came in front of my brigade and said, ‘Lord Cardigan, you will attack the Russians in the valley.’

OM: The Earl of Lucan forwarded the Order by Captain Nolan to the Earl of Cardigan.

Event 6. Cardigan’s response.

CH: . . . my reply was, ‘Certainly, Sir, but before I go I must be allowed to point out that the hills in both valleys are covered with Russian artillery and riflemen.’

CA: I replied ‘Certainly Sir but allow me to point out to you that the Russians have a Battery in the Valley in our front and Batteries and Riflemen on each flank.’

LK: He at once objected, on the ground that he would be exposed to a flanking battery.

CK: I said, ‘Certainly, my lord,’ dropping my sword at the same time; ‘but allow me to point out to you that there is a battery in front, a battery on each flank, and the ground is covered with Russian riflemen.’

Event 7. Lucan’s reply.

CH: The answer I received was, ‘They are Lord Raglan’s positive orders.’

CA: Lord Lucan said ‘I cannot help that, it is Lord Raglan’s positive order that the Light Brigade attacks immediately.’

LK: I told him that I was aware of it. ‘I know it,’ but that ‘Lord Raglan would have it,’ and that we had no choice but to obey.

CK: Lord Lucan answered: ‘I cannot help that; it is Lord Raglan’s positive order that the Light Brigade is to attack the enemy’ . . .


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