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"A Counterfactual Study of the Charge of the Light Brigade" Topic

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611 hits since 3 Apr 2017
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Martin from Canada03 Apr 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

A Counterfactual Study of the Charge of the Light Brigade
David Connors, Michael J. Armstrong & John Bonnett
Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History Vol. 48 , Iss. 2,2015

Researchers use a mathematical model to perform a counterfactual study of the 1854 Charge of the Light Brigade. They first calibrate the model with historical data so that it reproduces the actual charge's outcome. They then adjust the model to see how that outcome might have changed if the Heavy Brigade had joined the charge and/or if the charge had targeted the Russian forces on the heights instead of those in the valley. The results suggest that all the counterfactual attacks would have led to heavier British casualties. However, a charge by both brigades along the valley might plausibly have yielded a British victory.

I came across this paper at work today, and I thought I'd share it.

willlucv03 Apr 2017 1:57 p.m. PST

Is there any version of the facts that doesn't result in massive loss of life for the British?

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP03 Apr 2017 2:47 p.m. PST

Remember though, the Heavy brigade had fought off a massive Russian cavalry force a few hours earlier, and were not at full combat efficiency.
I wonder if an Light Brigade had charged the Russians on the Causeway heights would have worked if brigaded with the Chasseurs d'Afrique?

advocate04 Apr 2017 2:40 a.m. PST

Having read the article, it doesn't seem like rocket-science – or something that couldn't have been thought through using a board or figure game.
- reinforcing the charge might have given them a chance of success against the cavalry at the end of the valley;
- charging uphill against combined arms would likely have been even less successful.
And like the games, the analysis of what might-have-happened benefits enormously from hindsight and the all-knowing general.

Smokey Roan Inactive Member18 Apr 2017 8:55 p.m. PST

Neat stuff, Martin!

Considering everything, the British casualties were kinda light, IMO. The Heavy Brigade may have caused a general Russian route, I'd think?

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