[Transcribed by Megan Stevens]
Sir, — You will, perhaps, kindly give insertion in The Times to a few remarks relative to the aspersions cast upon the officers of the Commissariat by Lord Palmerston, in his speech in the House of Commons on the 19th of February last.
His Lordship states that the officers of the Commissariat are not the sons of the gentry of England, but are persons belonging to other classes of the community.
Now, I consider it my duty, as an officer of that department, to repel that assertion, and I do contend that the officers of the Commissariat are, generally speaking, members of the class which his Lordship designates as the gentry, and that the exceptions are not greater than in other branches of the service.
One would have imagined that when Lord Palmerston brought before the notice of the public as important a branch of Her Majesty’s service, the duties of which are of the highest trust and responsibility, it would have been with a view of raising it to that high position in our army which it holds in the French service, where the commissariat system has worked so admirably, rather than of lowering it by using expressions so detrimental to it and offensive to the officers.
Where the failure has been which his Lordship speaks of will be determined by the commission now sitting, but I can conscientiously assert that the officers of the Commissariat have shown the most indefatigable zeal in the discharge of their onerous duties, which every unprejudiced person with this army must allow, and many are the instances where their health and constitution have broken down from over-taxation of mind and body. As regards myself, I can say that since the war commenced I have toiled from daylight in the morning until dark at night, not even allowing myself an hour on the Sabbath day to worship my Maker in His house of prayer.
The only acknowledgment we have received for our services are those invidious remarks of Lord Palmerston; and here let the subject rest, for I am sure it needs no further comment.
In conclusion, I will add that, so long as this stigma remains upon the department, there is but one alternative for the officers — either to retire on half-pay or a commuted allowance; and, although this would be to the majority a most serious sacrifice, after passing the best years of their lives in the service, still, for the sake of their families and the preservation of their own respectability, it is the only course left them to pursue.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
A COMMISSARY OFFICER.
Balaklava, Crimea, March 19.