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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;’ upon which he ordered the 11th Hussars back to support the 17th Lancers. After advancing about eighty yards, a shell fell within reach of my horse’s feet, and Captain Nolan, who was riding across the front retreated with his arm up through the intervals of the brigade. I led straight down to the battery without seeing anybody else in front of me. I had to restrain some of the officers, who got very much excited within eighty yards of the battery by the heavy fire. I led into the battery, a shot being fired from one of the largest guns close by my right leg. I led into the battery and through the Russian gun limber-carriages and ammunition-waggons in the rear. I rode within twenty yards of the line of Russian cavalry. I was attacked by two Cossacks, slightly wounded by their lances, and with difficulty got away from them, they trying to surround me. On arriving at the battery through which I had led, I found no part of the brigade. I rode slowly up the hill, and met General Scarlett. I said to him, ‘What do you think, General, of the aide-de-camp, after such an order being brought to us which has destroyed the Light Brigade, riding to the rear and screaming like a woman?’ Sir J. Scarlett replied, ‘Do not say any more, for I have ridden over his body.’ Lord Lucan was present at this conversation. I then rode to the place from which we had moved off, and found all my brigade there; and, upon
Vol. IV The Battle of Balaclava Appendix p. 363
having them counted, there then were 195 mounted men out of 670. I immediately rode to Lord Raglan to make my report; who said, in a very angry way, ‘What did you mean, sir, by attacking a battery in front, contrary to all the usages of warfare and the custom of the service?’ Upon which, I said: ‘My Lord, I hope you will not blame me, for I received the order to attack from my superior officer in front of the troops.’ I then narrated what I had done as described above.
Lord Lucan put in an affidavit upon oath that when I retreated I passed eighty yards from him. He was close by when I spoke to General Scarlett. I came up to General Scarlett quite slowly. I afterwards galloped to the remains of the brigade re-forming.