The superb Crimean War Battle of Balaclava Heavy Brigade Casualty and long service group awarded to Troop Sergeant Major James Dearden, 2nd Royal North British Dragoons - the Scots Greys, later Earl of Chester’s Yeomanry Cavalry, who was present on operations in the Crimea from 1st October 1854, and was slightly wounded in action during his regiment’s double Victoria Cross winning part in the famous charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava on 25th October 1854, when importantly, the Scots Greys during a savage ten minute sabre battle, helped
The superb Crimean War Battle of Balaclava Heavy Brigade Casualty and long service group awarded to Troop Sergeant Major James Dearden, 2nd Royal North British Dragoons - the Scots Greys, later Earl of Chester’s Yeomanry Cavalry , who was present on operations in the Crimea from 1st October 1854, and was slightly wounded in action during his regiment’s double Victoria Cross winning part in the famous charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava on 25th October 1854, when importantly, the Scots Greys during a savage ten minute sabre battle, helped rout a Russian cavalry division, which was threatening to overwhelm Campbell's Highlanders, and with it thwart a threat the British supply base. Dearden was himself wounded in action during the charge by Grape Shot, but went on to play further role at Inkermann and Sebastopol, despite a period of sickness aboard a hospital ship and at Scutari.
Group of 3: Crimea Medal 1854-1856, 3 Clasps: Balaklava, Inkermann, Sebastopol, officially impressed naming; (SERJT. J. DEARDEN. 2ND. DRAGOONS.); Turkish Crimea Medal 1855, Sardinian issue, engraved naming; (TROOP SERGT MAJOR J. DEARDEN. 2ND DRAGOONS.); Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, Victoria small letter reverse; (1040 TP. SERGT. MJR. JAS. DEARDEN 2ND DRAGOONS), all three are fitted with attractive silver two and three pronged ribbon buckles for wearing.
Condition: light contact wear, Good Very Fine.
James Dearden was born in 1823 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and enlisted into the British Army at Dublin on 23rd January 1841 as a Private with the 18th Hussars. Promoted to Corporal on 30th December 1845, he then transferred as a Private (No.1040) to the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons - the Scots Greys on 1st September 1848, and was promoted to Corporal on 18th October 1849, and to Sergeant on 21st November 1852, followed by Trooper Sergeant Major on 16th July 1854.
The decades of peaceful home service were broken with the outbreak of war with Russia. Trying to prop up the Ottoman Empire, Britain, France, and Sardinia, mobilised forces to fight in the Black Sea. The allied nations agreed that the target of the expedition would be Sevastopol in the Crimea. Assigned to Brigadier-General Sir James Scarlett’s Heavy Brigade of the Cavalry Division, the Scots Greys, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Griffith arrived in the Crimea in 1854.
On 25 October 1854, the Heavy Brigade was part of a British force supporting the siege operations around Sevastopol. The British on the right flank of the siege lines were over extended, giving the Russian forces under General Pavel Petrovich Liprandi an opportunity to disrupt the British siege works and possible destroy their supply base at Balaclava. With nearly 25,000 men, including 3,000 cavalry troopers formed in 20 squadrons and 78 artillery pieces, General Liprandi attacked the British positions. To defend its supply base and siege lines, the British could counter with approximately 4,500 men and 26 artillery pieces.
As the Russian's attacked, the Scots Greys watched as the redoubts protecting the supply lines and Balaclava were overrun by the Russians. They watched as the Russian force charge the 93rd Highlanders, only to be turned back by the “thin red streak tipped with a line of steel”. Leading men into battle for the first time ever, Scarlett ordered his brigade to form two columns. The left column contained a squadron of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, followed by the two squadrons of the Scots Greys. As they trotted to the assistance of the Campell's Highlanders, Scarlett was informed of additional Russian cavalry threatening his flank. Ordering the brigade to wheel about, the Scots Greys ended up in line with the Inniskilling Dragoons in the front row supported by the 5th Dragoon Guards. Even with the Russian cavalry approaching, Scarlett waited patiently for his dragoons to be brought into formation rather than move in a disorganised formation.
The approaching Russian cavalry was on the heights and numbered about 3,000 sabres. The Scots Greys and the rest of the British dragoons were waiting at the base of the heights, and totalled about 800 men. Satisfied that his brigade was ready, Scarlett finally sounded the advance. Although Scarlett had spent precious minutes ordering his line, it soon proved to be unwieldy, especially in the sector occupied by the Scots Greys, who had to pick their way through the abandoned camp of the Light Brigade. The Scots Greys, once clear of the Light Brigade's camp, had to speed up to catch Scarlett and his aides, who were more than 50 yards ahead of them. For some reason, the Russian cavalry commander chose to halt up slope of the Heavy Brigade, choosing to receive the charge at a halt.
Scarlett and his command group, two aides and a trumpeter, were the first to reach the Russian cavalry. The rest of the brigade followed closely. As they neared the Russian line, they started to take carbine fire, which killed the Scots Greys' commander and took the hat off of its executive officer. The Scots Greys finally came abreast of the Inniskillings just short of the Russians and the two regiments finally were able to gallop. As the Inniskillings shouted their battle cry, Faugh A Ballagh, observers reported that the Scots Greys made an eerie, growling moan. The Scots Greys charged through the Russian cavalry, along with the Inniskilings, and disappeared into the melee among the mass of Russian cavalry. With both forces disordered by the charge, it became clear to the regimental adjutant of the Scots Greys that, to avoid be overwhelmed by Russian numbers, the Scots Greys had to reform. Pushed back from the centre of the mass, the Scots Greys reformed around the adjutant and drove again into the Russian cavalry. Seeing that the Scots Greys were again cut off, the Royal Dragoons, finally arriving to the fight after disobeying Scarlett's order to remain with the Light Brigade, charged to their assistance, helping to push the Russians back. Amid the hacking and slashing of the sabre battle, the Russian cavalry had had enough, and retreated back up the hill, pursued for a short time by the Scots Greys and the rest of the regiments.
The entire encounter lasted approximately 10 minutes, starting at 9:15 and ending by 9:30 am. In that time, in exchange for 78 total casualties, the Heavy Brigade inflicted 270 casualties on the Russian cavalry, including Major-General Khaletski. More importantly, the Scots Greys helped rout a Russian cavalry division, ending the threat to Campbell's Highlanders, and with it the threat to the British supply base. With the rest of the Heavy Brigade, the Scots Greys could only look on as Lord Cardigan lead the Light Brigade on their ill-fated charge. As the Scots Greys returned to the British lines, they passed Colonel Campbell and the 93rd Highlanders. Campbell called out to the Scots Greys, "Greys, gallant Greys, I am sixty-one years of age, but were I young again, I should be proud to serve in your ranks.” Not only did Campbell recognise their achievement, so did the Crown. Two members of the Scots Greys, Regimental Sergeant Major John Grieve and Private Henry Ramage, were among the first to be awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions on 25th October. For the rest of the war, the Heavy Cavalry, including the Scots Greys, had little to do,
For his part, Troop Sergeant Major James Dearden was ‘effective’ on operations out in the Crimea from 1st October 1854 with his regiment, and was then present in the charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava on 25th October 1854, and was wounded in action during the charge, one of the 78 casualties suffered by the Heavy Brigade, he having, according to his service records, been “wounded in the left thumb by Grape Shot received in action at Balaclava 25th October 1854”.
Dearden’s wound was only minor, he being sent to Scutari Hospital on 26th October, he must then have returned to service with his regiment when it played a small roll in action at Inkermann on 5th November 1854, and during the ongoing siege of Sebastopol, but he is noted as being sick on the Scutari Roll from January to March 1855, he having been specifically placed aboard a hospital ship from the 1st to 28th January 1855, and then sent to recover at Abydos during February and March 1855. Having presumably returned to operations in and around Sebastopol, Dearden reverted to Sergeant on 24th July 1855, but was once again promoted to Troop Sergeant Major on 23rd January 1856, and returned home with his regiment.
Dearden, who went on to be awarded the Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, was discharged from the 2nd Dragoons in the rank of Troop Sergeant Major at Aldershot on 21st March 1865, after 24 years and 39 days with the Colours, of which 1 year and 11 months had been on overseas service with the army in the Crimea and Turkey. Dearden however then appears to have been posted for the next fifteen years to the Permanent Staff of the Earl of Chester’s Yeomanry Cavalry, as well as working as a gardener. As of 1881 he is shown as living with his wife Mary, at 29 Parkfield Terrace, Witton Cum Twambrooks, near Northwich, Cheshire, he being shown as an Army Pensioner Unemployed,