The 11th Hussars were in the advance guard of the Allied Armies, and the first to be fired upon at the Battle of Alma 20th September 1854. After a decisive victory, the 11th captured Russian Prince Menshikov’s wax seal.
On 14th September 1854 the Allied Armies landed in the Crimea. These consisted of 30,000 French, 26,000 British and 4,500 Turks. They soon started to march south towards Sevastopol. On 20th September they arrived at the River Alma. Facing them was a Russian force of 35,000, under Prince Alexander Sergeyevich Menshikov, which occupied a strong position four miles long on the hills and ridges above the river. This was known as the ‘Alma Heights’.
The British cavalry were held back during the battle and had a relatively minor role. The 11th Hussars, who were in the advance guard, were the first to be fired upon by Russian riflemen posted in the village of Bourliouk.
The Allied armies made a series of disjointed and confused attacks but, often due to individual courage, they were successful. The French managed to turn the Russian left flank, which Prince Menshikov had thought impossible. The British made two unsuccessful attacks but eventually rifle fire forced the Russians to retreat. With both flanks defeated the Russian position collapsed and they retreated having lost 5,000 men. The Allies had lost 4,000. Despite the Allied Armies facing a numerically superior Russian Army in a strong defensive position, the battle was a decisive victory. As the Russians retreated the 11th Hussars joined the pursuit, taking a few prisoners. The regiment were then the first British cavalry to cross the River Alma.
After the battle, an officer of the 11th Hussars took Prince Menshikov’s wax seal from his carriage which had been captured. Wax impressions of this seal were later sold to raise money for the Crimean Fund.