Home About Sources Topics Background

Crimean texts


[Transcribed by Megan Stevens]

The Times 20.2.1857 p 10


TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES

Sir, Colonel Wetherall1 again assails Colonel Tulloch2 in your impression of this day. He now attempts to show that Colonel Tulloch’s suggestion, that the clothing of the army, for want of which the troops were perishing in December, 1854, might have been carried to the front by fatigue parties from the various regiments, was absurd. In order to prove this Colonel Wetherall more absurdly assumes that Colonel Tulloch’s idea was that every regiment in the Crimea should have performed this operation on the same day and at the same moment. Had they done so, says Colonel Wetherall, the entire position of the British army would have been denuded of troops.

Very likely. But Colonel Tulloch never proposed anything of the kind. The operation which he suggested would doubtless have been a very laborious one; many lives might have been expended in carrying it out, but certainly not so many as were nightly sacrificed for want of clothing and shoes in the December and January of that terrible winter campaign. Moreover, the Highlands, the Guards, and some other regiments were not at that time worked with such fatal severity as the troops more immediately employed in the trenches. They are shown to have carried up daily quantities of heavy munitions of war. Important as it might be to have plenty of ammunition in front, it was surely no less important to have plenty of live men to use it; and it is not unreasonable to suppose that if at that time the army had had more clothing there would have been less disease and fewer deaths.

It is curious to observe how silently and patiently the officers whose characters are chiefly impugned by Colonel Tulloch’s pamphlet bear themselves; while Colonel Wetherall, who was himself in no degree assailed by the report of the Crimean Commissioners, pushes himself forward to pick up these small holes in his statements with, I am happy to show, very indifferent success.

It must not be forgotten, too, that Colonel Wetherall is the very officer who was but a few days ago complaining that his own evidence had been too closely sifted, and who observed that he would much prefer that it should be taken “as a whole!” He does not, however, appear disposed to concede to others the unusual and convenient privilege which he claims for himself.

His attempt to raise up a shelter for Crimean delinquency behind “Lord Raglan’s3 memory” is not a new trick. It had already been worn threadbare by General Airey.4

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
H.

Feb. 19.


[Transcriber’s notes]

  1. Col. E.R. Wetherall succeeded Sir Richard Airey as Quartermaster-General in the Crimea.. See also letters 1857/02/17 ERW London Times, 1857/02/20 JF London Times, and 1857/02/24 WHD London Times for reaction to the tabling of the Tulloch report.
  2. Sir J. McNeill and Col. Alexander Tulloch went to the Crimea to conduct a Commission of Enquiry into the Commissariat.
  3. FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan (1788-1855). He took part in the Peninsular War under Wellington, and lost his right arm at Waterloo. He commanded the British forces in the Crimean war from 1854. The raglan sleeve, cut right up to the neckline with no shoulder seam, is named after him. [The Wordsworth Dictionary of Biography, Ware, Herts., 1994, p.356.]
  4. The Quartermaster-General Lord de Ros was invalided home from Varna. He was replaced by Sir Richard Airey, aged 51. [R.L.V. ffrench Black, The Crimean War, London, 1971, p.40.] Airey was later replaced by Col. Wetherall.

[M.S.]


Home About Sources Topics Background