[Transcribed by Megan Stevens]
Sir, — I venture to transmit to you the following suggestions respecting Commissariat arrangements in the East, in the hope that they may, through you, catch the eye of those whom they most concern.
The northern portions of Asia Minor, although in parts neglected, are still generally rich, fertile, and productive, and have not as yet, like Turkey in Europe and Armenia, been scathed by the presence of large armies and predatory irregulars.
The resources of three districts might be made available by a very simple plan, which would be to station an officer of the Commissariat at certain undernamed ports on the Black Sea, to collect supplies both from the immediate neighbourhood and from the interior, and to ship the same in native or other boats for the fleet to Varna, the Crimea, or wherever it might be desirable.
There would be no staff of commissaries and assistant commissaries requisite; one officer, if acquainted, even to a small extent, with the Turkish language, would suffice; for his agents in the interior, as well as his freight carriers, may be natives.
The chief points for such Commissariat establishments would be Harakli, Bartin, and Samsun. The country around Harakli is well-populated and cultivated, and its resources are considerable. The existence of coal in the same neighbourhood gives to it additional importance. The Commissariat’s agents would be directed hence to the rich valley of Boli, to that of the Sakkeriya river, and that of the Filiyas. These are all most productive agricultural and pastoral regions. Fine turkeys, rather a rarity in the East, could be obtained in former times in the neighbourhood of Harakli at 5 piastres, or 1s. each.
Bartin, although a bustling, thriving, inland port, was like Zaffaran Boli, a commercial town of considerable importance, almost unknown till my travels in 1839. One of my instructions from the Royal Geographical Society was to ascertain if a commercial town which had been heard of under the name of "the city of Saffron" really existed. Bartin is a goodly town, and there are always plenty of them for the proposed purposes. The native agents might extend their operations hence to Zaffaran Boli, and even to Angora. The neighbouring uplands of what was ancient Paphlagonia have ever been the most productive corn countries of Asia Minor.
At Samsun there is already a vice-consul, who, no doubt, would undertake the duties of a commissary. The districts which could be made to contribute their supplies to this point are most extensive, and as productive as any portions of Europe. They comprise — first, the valley of the Gok Irmak, with the towns and districts of Kastamuni and Tash Kupri; secondly, the valley of the Halys, including the towns and districts of Vizir Kupri, Osmanjik, Iskilub, and Changri; thirdly, the upper corn country of Churum, Marzioan, Amasiah, and Tckat; and, lastly, the valley of Yashil Irmak, including Tcherchembah and Niksar.
Thus, by these simple means, the produce of most extensive regions, the resources and fertility of which it would be really impossible to speak of in too high or too eulogistic terms, would be brought within reach of the auxiliary fleets and armies. Further extension might ultimately be given to the system by including the ports of Ineboli, Sinope, Bafra, Karasun, and Tireboli. The prices of produce, whether pastoral or agricultural, would naturally be very different from what is now obtaining in the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus, and in Turkey in Europe. Varna and its neighbourhood I know, from personal observation, is to be peculiarly deficient in Commissariat resources.
I have the honour to be, yours obediently,
WILIAM FRANCIS AINSWORTH,
F.R.G.S., F.G.S., &c.
Thames Villa, Hammersmith.