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Significance of Songs and Poems Sung in the Crimean War

When The Irish Country Four released their self-titled Topic album in 1971, they included the song “The Heights of Alma” by Trevor Stewart and Jess Harpur. The deadly battle of Alma in the Crimean in 1854 claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of soldiers. It was a good win for the men but a catastrophic defeat for the generals because of their inadequate management and incompetent staff. This song was popular with street ballad vendors throughout Britain, Edinburgh, and Dublin during and after the Crimean War. Many country performers have a fondness for it, and it lives on in their memories.

During the Crimean War, the British and the French won the Battle of Alma. This triumph left the Russian military port at Sevastopol exposed and threatened Russia’s whole military strategy. The Crimean War’s opening fight is widely regarded as the Battle of Sevastopol.

By command of Prince Aleksandr Menshikov, the Russians took control of the area just above Alma River in Crimea, thereby prohibiting the enemy from getting to the city of Sevastopol via this route. French and British armies cooperated to conquer. On that date, 35 miles (56 kilometres) north of Sevastopol, the allies made landfall on the Crimean Peninsula. After six days of struggling from diarrhoea and cholera, the army would begin their journey to the south. As of September 20, the Russians had an excellent tactical stance along the Alma River, which runs north of Sevastopol, and opted to hold their positions there. (Pemberton, 2017)

Version Sung by Cyril O Brien of Trepassey:

An ode to the English/French and Russian forces fighting on the Alma River in September 1854 is sung here. The September 18th arrival date is mentioned in this cover version rather than the September 14 landing date. Aside from the storm and lack of affordable housing for the British soldiers ahead of their march, this edition corrects other accounts. The Historic Ballad Archive credits James Maxwell as the songwriter of this tune, first published in 1904.

Significance of Tennyson’s Poem The Charge of Light Brigade:

In the Crimean War, among both British and Russia, the “Charge of the Light Brigade” references a military campaign that went wrong (1854-56). It tells the storey of a 600-strong brigade that braved the “valley of death” on white horses for half an alliance at the moment being bombarded by cannon fire from both sides. It was the bravery and patriotism of every soldier who heeded the command, no matter the incidence, that reflected on their nation.(GONZALES & EDEN REGALA FLORES)


Nic Jones with Pete and Chris Coe “Heights of Alma.” (2022, January 16). YouTube.

The Heights of Alma (Roud 830; Laws J10; G/D 1:158; Henry H123). (2021, February 6). Mainlynorfolk.

GONZALES, W. D. W., & EDEN REGALA FLORES, P. Analyzing and Teaching Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade: A Stylistic Approach.

Pemberton, W. B. (2017). Battles of the Crimean War: Pickle Partners Publishing.



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