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The Thin Red Line - Portrait of an Officer, 1854
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The Thin Red Line - Portrait of an Officer, 1854

Measurements: Overall: 47cm (18in) x 39cm (15in)

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Oil on canvas. Full length study of a Crimean War period officer of the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders). Framed.

On 25 October 1854 the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders formed the last line of defence between before the British base port in the Crimea and a major Russian attack. While part of the enemy force was checked by the uphill charge of the Heavy Cavalry Brigade under Sir James Scarlett, the rest , encouraged by the sight of the British artillery park and mountains of stores at Balaklava headed straight for the 93rd. The Highland Brigade commander Brigadier-General Colin Campbell told the men, ‘There is no retreat from here,...you must die where you stand.’ Whereupon the Times war correspondent William Howard Russell’s reportage gave rise to the expression the The Thin Red Line - , ‘The Russians dash at the Highlanders. The ground flies beneath their horses' feet; gathering speed at every stride, they dash on towards that thin red streak topped with a line of steel.’ A tearaway group of Cossacks encouraged by the prize of the British artillery park and mountains of supplies led an impetuous charge, followed by hussars encouraged by a line of infantry that generally proved vulnerable to horsemen. But it proved otherwise as a line charged directly has exactly the same stolidity as a single face of a square. The Highlanders of the 93rd supported by rallied Turks, who had been fleeing the Cossacks checked the advance with three measured volley’s sending the Russians back the way they had come.
 

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