Friday, 8 February 2013

Lord Lucan - a disaster waiting to happen?

In a letter to his sister, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Yorke of the  1st Royal Dragoons describes his commanding officer, Lord Lucan as "hot-headed" and a "nit-wit" and predicts that something "serious" will occur from his "want of temper and judgement" three days before the Battle of Balaklava. In previous letters, Yorke extolled the virtues of General Scarlett ("we like him and he likes us: we are a United Brigade of Heavies") and also damned the Earl of Cardigan as "the greatest of Swells". Make of the letter what you will, but Lucan's actions at Balaklava in not questioning the orders given to him and then 1. trying to take all the praise for the Charge of the Heavy Brigade and 2. trying to lay the blame on everyone and anyone for the disaster of the Light Brigade charge does rather marry-up with this description of Lucan.

'Our next misfortune is Lord Lucan. When there is the least appearance of alarm he being excited to madness, and abuses everybody, and in the most uncourteous [sic] manner. The last night he sent round an A.D.C. to say we were to remain stationary during the night, and, as if the doubted our obedience to his orders his message added that (in the presence of the men) that he would send any officer home under arrest who left his post as well as the Commanding Officer who permitted it. Poor General Scarlett can do nothing got his Brigade – Lord L. by nature opposed everything he does not think of himself and we are consequently fearing his want of temper and judgement should anything serious occur. He is known to do something and then throw the blame on others. He is very unfit man to Command such a Brigade; a hot-headed, nit-wit, Irish man. I believe he shines on the Bench at Castlebar as he can put down the Almighty.'

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