Fanny Duberly who travelled along with British troops throughout the Crimean War, is seen here with her husband Captain Henry Duberly in Crimea; 1855
Frances Isabella (“Fanny”) Duberly (27 September 1829 – January 1903) was an English soldier’s wife who published a journal of her experiences on campaign in the Crimean War and the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Her husband, Captain Henry Duberly, was paymaster to the 8th Royal Irish Hussars, part of the British light cavalry that took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade. Duberley’s journal of her time in the Crimea was published as Journal Kept During the Russian War. It not only includes eye-witness accounts, but is also a record of gossip and rumours circulating in the British Army.
Duberly’s adventures did not always sit well with society. She was pointedly snubbed at the Royal review of her husband’s regiment after the war. The journal she published after the war had originally been intended to have a dedication to Queen Victoria, but this was refused, much to her dismay. Nonetheless she was popular with the troops (who nicknamed her “Mrs. Jubilee”) and many people in England. Her published journal met with some success and prints of a photo of her taken by Roger Fenton sold quite well. (Wikipedia)
An interesting article about her in The Telegraph: She wanted to cause a stir… and she did.
The Charge of the Light Brigade was just the pinnacle of idiocy in the mismanaged affair that was the Crimean War.
(The Light Brigade charged the wrong artillery position due to a miscomminication in the chain of command. They were supposed to charge a different artillery position that didn’t have good defenses. Instead the line they charged had beefed up defenses, and they got butchered.)
Major General James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, led the charge. Here is his firsthand account:
We advanced down a gradual descent of more than three-quarters of a mile, with the batteries vomiting forth upon us shells and shot, round and grape, with one battery on our right flank and another on the left, and all the intermediate ground covered with the Russian riflemen; so that when we came to within a distance of fifty yards from the mouths of the artillery which had been hurling destruction upon us, we were, in fact, surrounded and encircled by a blaze of fire, in addition to the fire of the riflemen upon our flanks.
As we ascended the hill, the oblique fire of the artillery poured upon our rear, so that we had thus a strong fire upon our front, our flank, and our rear. We entered the battery—we went through the battery—the two leading regiments cutting down a great number of the Russian gunners in their onset. In the two regiments which I had the honour to lead, every officer, with one exception, was either killed or wounded, or had his horse shot under him or injured. Those regiments proceeded, followed by the second line, consisting of two more regiments of cavalry, which continued to perform the duty of cutting down the Russian gunners.
Then came the third line, formed of another regiment, which endeavoured to complete the duty assigned to our brigade. I believe that this was achieved with great success, and the result was that this body, composed of only about 670 men, succeeded in passing through the mass of Russian cavalry of—as we have since learned—5,240 strong; and having broken through that mass, they went, according to our technical military expression, “threes about,” and retired in the same manner, doing as much execution in their course as they possibly could upon the enemy’s cavalry. Upon our returning up the hill which we had descended in the attack, we had to run the same gauntlet and to incur the same risk from the flank fire of the Tirailleur as we had encountered before. Numbers of our men were shot down—men and horses were killed, and many of the soldiers who had lost their horses were also shot down while endeavouring to escape.
But what, my Lord, was the feeling and what the bearing of those brave men who returned to the position. Of each of these regiments there returned but a small detachment, two-thirds of the men engaged having been destroyed? I think that every man who was engaged in that disastrous affair at Balaklava, and who was fortunate enough to come out of it alive, must feel that it was only by a merciful decree of Almighty Providence that he escaped from the greatest apparent certainty of death which could possibly be conceived.