illustration of a soldier in traditional nineteenth century military garb

The Charge of the Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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How many soldiers participated in "The Charge of the Light Brigade"?

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The answer to this question is going to depend on a few variables. The wording of the question could indicate that it is asking for the number of soldiers in the brigade and the number of soldiers that they were attacking. I don't believe that this is the question's intent. I believe that the question is asking for the number of men that made up the soldiers in this particular designated unit. If that is the case, then the variable is the source of information. Tennyson's poem states and restates that the number is 600 soldiers.

Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Other sources put the number at "approximately 600 horsemen." states the number as "roughly 670" soldiers. Regardless of the source, the charge ended in failure. The soldiers advanced on an enemy position that was ringed by 20 battalions of Russian infantry and artillery. The result was a roughly 40 percent casualty rate. About 110 men were killed, 160 were wounded, and about 375 horses were killed.
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The answer to this all depends on which soldiers you are referring to. If you are just referring to the soldiers within the brigade itself, Tennyson states in every stanza that there are 600 soldiers within the regiment. If you are asking how many soldiers total were involved in the battle that Tennyson is describing, that is a much more difficult question to answer. We know that there were 600 soldiers in the light brigade, but Tennyson never mentions a number for the Russian and Cossack soldiers that are attacking them. He only mentions that the light brigade is completely surrounded with "cannon to the left of them, cannon to the right of them, cannon in front of them."

If you were to ask how many soldiers survived the battle, this is another tough question to answer because Tennyson never gives a clear number. Most of the men are slaughtered, but it is clear that some of them survive because they are seen retreating; "they rode back, but not, not the six hundred." Obviously, some of the light brigade made it out of the battle, but not all of them. 

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