At the Battle of Inkerman 5th November 1854 a surprise dawn attack by the Russian Army of 40,000 men was defeated by a much smaller British and French force, which broke the will of the Russian Army.
On 2nd November 1854 the 11th Hussars, with the remnant of the Light Cavalry Brigade, moved up from Balaclava to the plateau, encamping on the right of the windmill at Inkerman. By now, like most of the Light Brigade, the 11th were reduced to just a single squadron and many men were mounted on Russian horses.
On the morning of 5th November 1854 the Russians launched a surprise dawn attack on the British positions at Inkerman, with a force of over 40,000 men. The 11th Hussars were in the rear of General Sir George de Lacy Evans’s Second Division. Moving to the front, the regiment were exposed to the Russian artillery. Troop Sergeant Major George Loy Smith recalls the devastating effect of the round shot: “Shortly after a man reined back out of the ranks saying, ‘Sergeant-Major, I have lost the use of my arm.’ His left arm was hanging down by his side, a cannonball had passed close by it. I ordered him to return his sword and go to the rear. Another cannonball struck a man’s leg just above the knee, taking it clean off, and passing through his horse”.
Lord Cardigan then took command of the Light Brigade and ordered them to retire. They remained in the rear where many wounded British infantry passed through. The 11th Hussars tried to provide what help they could to their injured comrades.
The battle was fought in thick fog and many groups of men were forced to fight on their own initiative. By midday the battle was virtually won, due mostly to the determination of the British Infantry, who were supported by French reinforcements, but fighting continued for hours afterwards. In total the British suffered 2,500 killed and the French 1,700. Russians losses amounted to about 12,000.
The Battle of Inkerman broke the will of the Russian Army to fight in the field. Due to the individual courage displayed throughout, it became known as ‘The Soldier’s Battle’.