Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote "The Charge of the Light Brigade" on December 2, 1854, and published it in the December 9, 1854 volume of The Examiner. The subject of the poem is a charge by a brigade of light cavalry (thus the "light brigade") during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854. The charge was actually due to a miscommunication, as light cavalry was completely unsuitable for a frontal assault on a heavily defended position. As might be expected, the brigade suffered very high casualties.
The poem consists of six stanzas with a dramatic rhythmic pattern that suggests the sound of hoof beats and the drama and intensity of the desperate charge of lightly armored horsemen straight into the awaiting canons. The poet describes the British charging the cannoneers with swords with great bravery, but both men and horses dying to the canon fire. The poem concludes with the retreat of the small number of British survivors.
Perhaps the most scathing denunciation of the tactical mistake that commanded the light brigade is in these lines from the second stanza:
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.