The Charge of the Pendleton Guards

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"The Charge of the Pendleton Guards"

This is a parody of "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, an 1854 narrative poem about the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War (October 1853-February 1856) fought between the Russian Empire on one side and an alliance of the British Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia on the other. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire. Most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula, but there were smaller campaigns in western Turkey, the Baltic Sea, the Pacific Ocean and the White Sea. The conflict saw an alliance blocking Russian attempts to gain a port on the Mediterranean.

Tennyson's poem, published December 9, 1854 in The Examiner, commemorates the disastrous charge of between 607 and 673 soldiers of the Light Brigade of the British cavalry, consisting of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, under the command of Major General the Earl of Cardigan, on October 25, 1854, into a valley surrounded by some 20 battalions of Russian soldiers and fifty artillery pieces. The brigade was not completely destroyed, but did suffer terribly, with 118 men killed, 127 wounded. After regrouping, only 195 men were still with horses. The futility of the action and its reckless bravery prompted the French Marshal Pierre Bosquet to state "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." ("It is magnificent, but it is not war.") He continued, in a rarely quoted phrase: "C'est de la folie"- "it is madness." The Russian commanders are said to have initially believed that the British soldiers must have been drunk.

"The Charge of the Pendleton Guards", penned by an anonymous cadet, and published in TAPS 1909 on page 175, compares the foolhardy actions of 306 Clemson students who cut classes on April Fools' Day 1908 and marched off to Pendleton to lark about the town square, after they had been warned not to repeat a similar act committed in 1907. They were subsequently all suspended, although many would be readmitted later.

Everyone, everyone,
Everyone onward!
Out past the commandant,

Streaked the three hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!
On to Pendleton!" he said:
Into that valley of sleep,

Strode the three hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not though the cadet knew

Someone had blundered:

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to skiddoo by:
Into that valley of sleep,

Strode the three hundred.

Flash'd all their nickels bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air,
Buying cheese and crackers there,
Tired and hungry,

While all the world wonder'd:

Wreath'd in tobacco smoke,
Until every man was broke,
"Dope" and soda bottles
Fell neath their eager stroke,

Shattered and sundered:

Then they "hiked" back; but not,

Not the three hundred.

"Profs." to the right of them,
"Profs." to the left of them,
"Profs." in front of them,

Look'd wise and grumbled:

Stormed at with questions well,
Each erstwhile hero fell:
Those who had charged so well
Went through the jaws of Minus,

Into the mouth of Mell;

Every darned one of them,

Entire three hundred.

When can their class be made,
Lost by this ------ parade!

All the world wonder'd.

Honor the Light Brigade!
Honor the classes they made,

Reinstated three hundred!

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