Gone are the days when every properly educated British school
boy could recite this by heart. Why is (arguably) one of the most famous poems in British literature
about the most disastrous military defeat in British history? Because the Light Brigade was told to charge a position, and followed orders despite the obvious outcome. Tennyson
portrays this as the ultimate sacrifice of life for the greater glory
of the empire
. Compare how Saddam Hussein
still paints his defeat in the Gulf War
as noble resistance to the American oppressor. Historically, this says volumes about societal beliefs of England
at the time.
It should be noted that the British had all but won the battle of Balaclava; the guns to be taken were a retreating Russian division of cannon whose lines had been decimated by the heavy cavalry, rather than the well-entrenched positions flanking the valley.