[Transcribed by Megan Stevens]
Sir, I observe, on reading the speech of Mr. H. Drummond, the member for West Surrey, in your paper of the 27th ult.,1 that that gentleman, while speaking of the army of the Crimea, says, — “Upon inquiry, I find that Mr. Filder is still at the head of the Commissariat at Sebastopol, who was the man that Sir Thomas Picton wanted to hang.”2
I apprehend that Mr. Drummond, in applying this anecdote to Mr. Filder, is in error. I was at the time, and for many years afterwards, present in the army of the Peninsula and in the same department, and I can venture to assure you that it was not Mr. Filder to whom General Picton addressed those insulting words, but to deputy Commissary General Lutchens, a gentleman far his senior in age, and consequently in rank and experience at that time. Mr. Lutchens lost no time in reporting the words of Picton to Commissary-General Kennedy, an officer very jealous of the honour and efficiency of the department under his direction, who advised him to report the language of General Picton to the Commander-in-Chief, and to demand a court of inquiry. Mr. Lutchens acted accordingly, but Picton, finding that he had gone too far, prevailed on Mr. Lutchens to accept an ample, though private apology, for this gross affront, which, being reported to Commissary-General Kennedy, was regarded by him with great disapprobation, as not being commensurate with the due public reparation for the affront offered. It was under the Duke of Wellington that the duties of the Commissariat Department came to be perfectly understood, and it was then, for the first time, that the troops on a march were intrusted [sic] with the custody of their own provisions for three days in advance. Had this been practiced at the time that General Picton made use of his intemperate and insolent menace, he need not have been exposed to the necessity of exhibiting his want of temper in insulting an officer, who doubtless, from his experience, was one of the most efficient commissaries in the army. Trusting to the courtesy and sense of justice of The Times for the insertion of these remarks.
I am, Sir your obedient servant,
J. WALTER WILKINSON.
Hants., Feb. 3.