Previously unseen 1854 Charge of the Light Brigade diary sells for £8,500

A war diary from 1854 documenting the Charge of the Light Brigade has sold at Cheffins Fine Art Auctioneers for £8,500.

The previously unseen diary was handwritten by Captain Michael Stocks of the Royal Dragoons.

Charge of the Light Brigade diary sold at Cheffins.
Image: Cheffins Fine Art Auctioneers


In it Captain stocks gives his first hand account of his life as a military officer in the Crimean War.

He has documented his experiences of the Charge of The Light Brigade in which 118 British cavalrymen died in a charge against Russian forces at the Battle of Balaclava on 25th October 1854.

The charge was later immortalised by Alfred Tennyson in his poem The Charge of the Light Brigade, during his tenure as Poet Laureate.

Captain stocks describes the unsuccesful charge as "the greatest trap that ever was made" as miscommunication in the chain of command led the cavalrymen to a frontal assault and huge losses.

Captain Stocks also writes in the diary: “we and the Greys (Royal Scots Greys) advanced first and then somebody said let the light cavalry go on, and on they went ... to take some guns in front, we followed at a trot, they went at a gallop and we saw nothing more of them until we saw them coming back by ones and twos some mounted but mostly dis-mounted, such a smash never was seen , they were murdered it seems they got & took - killed the gunners at the guns but could not keep them, the infantry played on them and when they looked round they found their way stopped by cossacks, then they cut their way through and about 40 came back in a body, the French Cavalry came down at this time and cleared the opposite hills of the guns but for us now we got about three parts of the way and the shot & shells & bullets came down on us like hail, every second I expected to get one, when luckily Scarlett gave the word Halt."

Captain Stock's final words on the days events are written as  "..Thank God I am here to write this, we all as usual turned out half an hour before day break, and when it got light the guns on the advanced field works thrown up by the turks began to fire, an aide de camp came galloping in to us to say we were to advance, as the enemy were approaching in large numbers, so on we went near the field works, the enemy still continued to move on & the round shot came into us (spent balls) but still with sufficient force to do damage, one ball came rolling down the hill straight where I stood, I saw it was coming right to me, so put the spurs into my horse and only just in time, for it went close behind me and broke the legs of two horses, the next took a long hop and hit a man on the head and he never moved more.”

The Lot also included a Russian medal and Captain Stocks' Crimean War medal and clasps, plus a portait of Captain Stocks.


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