In 1854, during the Crimean War, the ill-fated British Light Brigade performed an amazing act of bravery that was also the result of a miscommunication. They were ordered to recapture a British artillery position from the Russians, but when the time came for them to make their now famous charge, they mistakenly attacked what turned out to be essentially the entire Russian artillery line. Though they were eventuallly repelled with heavy casualties, they managed to actually engage the Russian position in melee. The battle was immortalized in Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Charley Elsden of Brooklyn and Roger Kennedy of Manhattan collaborated to paint four plastic 54mm units that were present in the Light Brigade. The figures were newly available from Armies in Plastic, which specializes in historically accurate 54mm plastic figures. Charley has a Masters of History from Stony Brook University on Long Island, and Roger Kennedy is an expert on military music. Both are long-time wargamers.
The units they painted are the 17th Lancers, the 11th Hussars, the 13 Light Dragoons and the 4th Light Dragoons. Not represented are the 8th Hussars who were also present in the Light Brigade. The Lancers were famous for their long spears with which the riders could reach infantry without leaving their saddle and even outreach other horsemen. The fighting style was developed in Poland. The 11th Hussars, known as the “Cherry Bums” for their red pants, were used to scout and to run quick raids on disorganized units. They wore a fur hat called a busby. The Dragoons were known for riding into combat range and then dismounting – using carbines on foot.
Charley and Roger intend to use these units for various 19th Century battles, not restricting themselves to the Crimean War. However, they were painted to accurately reflect the Crimean War uniforms.
Charley has a collection of over 20,000 54mm figures, plus all sorts of vehicles and terrain. Charley is a member of the Little Wars website which is concerned with 54mm wargaming, collecting and painting. There are a lot of historical experts on the Little Wars site as well as leaders in the toy soldier hobby. Roger has a vast collection of military music and regularly attends East Coast military band events from Canada to Washington, D.C. Roger also collects 54mm military band figures.