The Decembrists were driven by ideals of constitutionalism, liberal reforms, and a desire for a more participatory government but were defeated when Nicholas I ordered a cavalry charge and subsequent artillery attack using grapeshot.

Due to miscommunication and a lack of clear orders Lord Cardigan led the Light Brigade, a cavalry unit consisting of approximately 670 horsemen, in a frontal assault against a fortified Russian artillery position at the end of the valley.