On this day in 1854…

…The Crimean War began.

Tennyson’s message about the glamorous futility of warfare is still (and probably always will be) suitable for these lively modern times:

Half a league half a league
  Half a league onward
All in the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade
Charge for the guns’ he said
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

You can hear a recording of Tennyson reading the poem on the internet, thanks to the British Library. Curiously, Tennyson wrote a second poem entitled The Charge of the Heavy Brigade in 1882, commemorating their more successful attack – it never caught on.

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