[Transcribed by Megan Stevens]
Sir, — Mr. Dundas is reported to have stated in his evidence before Mr. Roebuck’s committee, that on the 26th of December the Third Division of this army received no rations.
I was in charge of the commissariat of the Third Division at the time quoted, and I beg to give the most unqualified contradiction to that statement.
From the first landing of the army in the Crimea to this date the Third Division was never for a day without rations, though on some few occasions, owing to extraordinary circumstances, such as the great hurricane in November, the troops did not receive their full allowance. On the 25th of December the guards allowed the cattle intended for next day’s consumption to escape during the night — an offence of which they were convicted by court-martial — and the division could only receive a half ration of meat in consequence; in all other respects they drew their full allowance.
The reports of the boards of inquiry recently held throughout the army prove how greatly the commissariat deficiencies had been exaggerated. Further inquiry will show that the calamities which have befallen our army are but very remotely connected with the arrangements of this department.
In those instances in which the blame can justly be laid at our door, the fault did not lie with the Commissary-General Filder, of whose sagacity and foresight the proof will yet transpire; but to the false position which the Commissariat Department holds in the army, and which, while it imposes immense responsibility and duties of the highest importance, entirely wants the power and influence to give weight to its opinions and efficacy to its acts.
Had Mr. Filder been armed with the necessary powers, he would have acted instead of urging; we should have had roads long since; but a civilian has no voice in army councils. As long as the Commissariat remains a civil member of the military body it must be insufficient.
I am, sir, your very obedient servant,
Camp, Third Division, March 21.