Thursday, January 7, 2010

The town of Balaklava

The town of Balaklava, Crimea. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855.

In the early months of the Crimean War Balaklava was in a dreadful state. ‘The Times’ reporter William Howard Russell described the insanitary conditions of Balaklava in lurid terms: "As to the Town itself, words could not describe its filth, its horrors, its hospitals, its burials, its dead and dying Turks, its crowded lanes, its noisome sheds, its beastly purlieus, or its decay. All the pictures ever drawn of plague and pestilence, from the work of the inspired writer who chronicled the woes of infidel Egypt, down to the narratives of Boccacio, Defoe, or Moltke, fall short of individual 'bits' of disease and death, which anyone might see in half-a-dozen places during half an hour’s walk in Balaklava".

location of Balaklava.

Balaklava became the site of some of the most famous actions of the Crimea. When the Russians assaulted the town on 25 October 1854 in the hope of severing the British from their only supply port, they were thrown back by the famous thin red line of the 93rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot. The battle also saw the disastrous misunderstanding of orders that resulted in the tragic and futile heroics of the charge of the Light Brigade.

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