Decorative Initial England entered this war between Russia and Turkey on the side of the Turks because Russia was seeking to control the Dardanelles and thus threaten England's Mediterranean sea routes. The country might not have gone to war had it not been so popular, patriotism being inflamed by such works as Charles Kingsley's Westward Ho!

The misunderstood order that lead to the suicidal Charge of the Light Brigade (by a brigade of light cavalry over open terrain against well-defended heavy artillery) was unfortunately symptomatic of the ineptness of the British command. The army's problems were made public by the first real war correspondent, William Russell of the London Times. (Other outrages included the inability of the supply corps to get food to starving soldiers six miles away.) The exposure lead to reform. As the enemy killed fewer British soldiers than starvation and cholera, so the gallantry of the Light Brigade was less consequential than the actions of Florence Nightingale, who reformed the way the hospitals were being run and invented the nursing profession.

Last modified 1987