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starter activity This painting of the 93rd Highlanders facing a Russian cavalry charge was painted 17 years after the event and so can tell us nothing useful or reliable, how far do you agree?
How was the battle of Balaclava, the charge of the Light Brigade & the Russian winter campaign reported ? To investigate the accuracy of evidence concerning key events of the war. To determine how the reporting of these events affected public opinion in Britain
Your Task Film Clip “charge of the Light Brigade”. • Read through pages 11 – 13 about the Battle of Balaclava & charge of the Light Brigade. • Read the account by William Russell in Source L of the charge of the Light Brigade: • How accurate is Russell’s account likely to be considering he watched the charge from a hill overlooking the valley in which the charge occurred? • What was Russell’s attitude to the charge? How do you know this? • Why do you think the Times published Russell’s dispatch?
Your Task • How far does William Pearson’s account (Source M) support what Russell reported about the charge? • Do you consider Source K or L to be the more reliable account? • Why would Pearson’s family have sent his letter to the local newspaper?
Your Task • Read Source N on page 15. • What message do you think Tennyson was trying to get across? • How far is his message different to that of Russell’s account in Source J? • Can you suggest reasons for the difference in views?
Your Task • Read about the Russian Winter of 1855 on pages 15 & 16. • How far do Sources P and Q support what Clive Ponting is saying about the effects of the Russian Winter in Source O?
Supports • P confirms Ponting s claims about food, clothing and accommodation “Tents frozen stiff as boards”, “Cold pork for breakfast”, “Blankets frozen on us”. Also supports claims that British resistance would fade if Russians were able to attack. • Q offers details on the deaths of British soldiers as hinted at in O saying “Many of these men were all but dead”.
Opposes • Pontings claims of lack of foresight and gross incompetence by the army leadership cannot be validated by either P or Q. However Godman (source P, is an officer and would not necessarily have full awareness of the reasons for logistical failures that Ponting as a historian does). • Russell’s emphasis on the horrible conditions seem to suggest a far harsher picture than O paints of conditions. However it seems clear that Russell is focusing on this aspect and sensationalises the effects of the winter for the purpose of readers back in Britain.
Your Task • Look at key examples of William Russell’s reporting of the Crimean War in sources F, G, I, L,Q and R and re-read his biography. • Would you consider him to be a biased reporter? • Discuss this with others and record your points.
How useful is Fenton’s photography? How useful is this photograph to a historian studying the conditions British soldiers faced in the Crimean War?
Homework • How far do Sources X and Y challenge Source W about the effective supplying of the army? • Use the sources on p21 & 22 to write a detailed exam style answer to this question. • Don’t forget to read the Exam Tips box to get ideas on constructing an effective answer.
Plenary • What should the role of a war correspondent be? • “To report factually and without emotion” • Discuss this view with others in the group and come up with points for both sides of the argument.