A note to the author's introduction to his multi-part essay, "Mark Twain on the Crimean War." In-text citations refer to items in the bibliography. [Click on the preceding link to return to the main text.]

Though often overlooked in summaries of this tale, of equal importance to the mix-up between right and left is the decision to advance rather than retire. Curiously enough, a similar incident occurred during the American Civil War. At Gettysburg, Union general Dan Sickles threw forward his corps beyond the line of battle in the Peach Orchard. When, years later, his fellow general Phillip Sheridan was asked if this had not been a blunder on Sickles' part, Sheridan replied:

"If it was a blunder . . . it was a blunder in the right direction."

"How General? A blunder in the right direction? How's that?"

"Yes," said General Sheridan; "a blunder in the right direction. My experience and reading teach me that military blunders on the field of battle are usually made by commanding officers falling back, or in some other way keeping their troops out of action." [Sickles, 7-8]

Like Sickles, Scoresby avoided the usual blunder of falling back (as he had been ordered to do) and instead made the fortunate blunder of falling forward, thus saving the day.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Last modified 16 August 2005