The Crimean War was the first ‘modern’ war for the British forces: journalists reported home via the telegraph, a device that also tempted the government to micro-manage the war from the comfort of Whitehall. It is most famous for the charge of the Light Brigade, celebrated in poetry and film as a classic British military disaster. It also gave us ‘The Thin Red Line’, when a handful of British infantry saw off a horde of Russian cavalry.
It was the first war in which ordinary British soldiers recorded their experiences – and Julian Spilsbury brings their story to life, together with the very different world of their officers and assorted mistresses. The army in the Crimea was a microcosm of Victorian society with all its strengths and weaknesses.