light brigade
25th October 1854: The Charge of the Light Brigade during the battle of Balaklava Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A newly discovered document about the Charge of the Light Brigade has shed light on one of Britain's biggest military blunders.

For years, it was thought Lord Raglan was responsible for the 1854 charge into the Valley of Death, which saw 107 men killed, 187 wounded, 50 captured and 400 horses slaughtered.

However, a letter written by Lieutenant Frederick Maxse recently discovered in the British Library shows that a more junior officer was to blame, reported the Telegraph.

It was during the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War in which Raglan ordered the Light Brigade to go and prevent the Russians from removing captured guns.

The message was delivered to Lord Lucan, who led the ill-fated charge, after a miscommunication meant he led the assault against a different artillery battery.

The new information reveals Captain Louis Nolan exaggerated Raglan's orders.

Capt Nolan told Lord Lucan: "Lord Raglan's orders are that the cavalry should attack immediately.

"There, my Lord! There is your enemy! There are your guns!"

But Capt Nolan was one of the first men to die after being struck by shrapnel from an exploding shell.

In his letter, Maxse wrote: "On looking to the left, saw poor Nolan lying dead who 10 minutes before I had seen eager and full of life, galloping down to Lord Lucan, anxious and determined to make him do something with the cavalry (of which he is a member)."

He records Nolan's apparent resentment at the behaviour of the cavalry until then. "He was always very indignant at the little they had done in this campaign and bitter against Lord L," Maxse wrote.

"All the cavalry lay this disastrous charge on his soldiers and say that he left no option to Lord L to whom they say his tone was almost taunting on delivering the message – if he was to blame he has paid the penalty."