This detail from Barker's famous painting of The Charge of The Light Brigade depicts Lord Cardigan amongst the Russian guns with the 13th Light Dragoons and 17th Lancers.
On 25 October 1854 during the Battle of Balaclava Lord Raglan issued an order to the Earl of Lucan to prevent the Russians from removing their guns. The order was delivered by Captain Louis Edward Nolan, who carried the further oral instruction to attack immediately. Lucan's position meant he was unable to see the redoubts on the reverse side of the Causeway Heights to which Raglan was referring. When questioned as to their location, Nolan is said to have to have indicated the Russian guns in the redoubt at the end of the valley.
Raglan unwittingly ordered Lord Cardigan to lead the Light Brigade in a charge of the Russian positions through a crossfire from three sides. Despite withering fire the Light Brigade reached the Russian guns and forced the redoubt, but heavy casualties led to a swift withdrawal. Of 671 men, 118 were killed and 127 wounded. Immortalised in Tennyson's famous poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade remains an excellent example of what may go wrong when accurate military intelligence is lacking and orders are unclear.
Thomas Jones Barker (1813-1882) studied under the French military painter Horace Vernet and is now regarded as one of the leading battle scene painters of the Nineteenth Century. Contemporary critics did not favour his paintings and he was overshadowed by Lady Butler whose originality and role as the pioneer of Victorian battle painting, it has been suggested, has been greatly exaggerated. Taking the Russian Guns at Balaclava was one of his last paintings, being first exhibited in Borgen's Danish Gallery in 1877. It was later found in a London garage where it had been stored for many years and subsequently presented to the Army Staff College, Camberley by the students of 1957 ASC.