THE uncertainty between peace and war which had characterised the previous month was prolonged through February. For, on the one hand, negotiations on the basis of the Austrian proposals were being carried on — as the outcome of which, on February 25th, Plenipotentiaries met at Paris to treat.
Yet, on the other hand, even as late as this, Lord Panmure, with characteristic caution, was warning Codrington of the uncertainty of all such Congresses — from whence he drew the moral that ‘our duty is to keep everything in full swing and activity,’ at the same time charging him to reinforce his ranks, to organise his troops for Eupatoria, and to arrange for getting his Cavalry from their winter-quarters to the front.
In commending such exhortations, Palmerston had written (February 3rd), ‘Your active preparations will be as persuasive as the eloquence of our negotiations.’ It was only in the contracts of the Commissary-General that the prospect of peace was allowed to make any difference.
The first act of the Congress, however, was to draw up the conditions of an armistice, which was to last till March 31st; so that, as by that date peace was already signed, the end of February may be said to all intents and purposes to have seen the conclusion of the war.
But, notwithstanding that they were never carried out, a certain interest still attaches to the plans made for the spring campaign, and these will be found discussed in detail in the correspondence for this month.
The campaign was to be opened by the advance of an army, chiefly composed of French troops, from Eupatoria against the Russians; whilst an army of British, under Codrington, was to avail itself of opportunity in moving against the enemy from the plateau.
On the score of the numbers involved, this plan was criticised by the Queen in her letter of February 3rd, and it will be observed that Her Majesty’s criticism is adopted by Lord Panmure (February 4th). On the ground that the opportunities afforded by it to British arms were poor, Codrington also criticised it unfavourably. But, in addition to the above campaign, the memorandum adopted by the Cabinet, and forwarded to Paris for the approval of the Emperor, provided for the expedition to Asia by a portion of the British Army, which has been already referred to, and which, as was now decided, was to follow the clearing of the Crimea.
Meantime the destruction of the captured forts and barracks was being continued, and was turned to account as a means of experimenting with explosives. Codrington’s letter of February 4th contains a striking picture of the blowing up of Fort Nicholas; whilst that of February 26th describes a review of the British Infantry by Pélissier and himself, designed to produce ‘a mutual conviction of power.’
At home, means of checking the indiscretions of war correspondents were still engaging attention, but were, for the time, of secondary interest to the ferment raised by the latest Report of the Tulloch-M’Neill Commission.
This Commission had been sent to the Crimea a year before, to inquire into certain allegations affecting the Commissariat.
Its second Report had been placed in Lord Panmure’s hands on January 20th, and, having been submitted to Parliament, had suggested to Mr. Layard the ntroduction in the House of Commons of a Motion hostile to the Government. But the whole question of the relation of the Army to the Crown and to Parliament was involved, and, as the War Minister held that Parliament was no fitting tribunal before which to discuss the conduct of military officers, it was decided to appoint a Board of such officers, of high standing, who should in their turn report upon the Tulloch-M’Neill Report, and on the statements of those who considered themselves to have been thereby aggrieved.
The questions of the composition of this Commission, and as to whether its proceedings should be open or closed, are discussed in the following letters.
Also an important statement made by Lord Panmure in this connection in the House of Lords will be found in the form of a note appended to the letters of February 21st. An Appendix to the unprinted correspondence for the month supplies State Papers giving full details of the plan of campaign for the ensuing spring.
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 1, 1856.
The Queen wishes to invest General La Marmora herself to-morrow (in the closet) with the G.C. of the Bath, and would therefore wish Lord Panmure to send it down, with a silver star, by two o’clock to-morrow. In several of Sir William Codrington’s last telegrams and letters he speaks of the decided insecurity of our position in case of embarkation, but never talks of doing anything. Should he not be forthwith directed to make the necessary work to ensure security? He has plenty of men and nothing to do. The Queen thought this had been ordered as far back as the end of December.
She will be anxious to see the List of Trophies, which she greatly fears may be our last in this war.
The Queen hopes Lord Panmure continues improving in health?
WAR DEPARTMENT, February 1, 1856.
The Government here have considered the reports with the members of the Council of War, and on Monday I shall be able to send you an official intimation on the subject. I am glad to learn by your letters to-day that you have so effectually destroyed the docks.
Should the projects of peace fall through, on which I at present give no opinion, you will have, as far as English will goes, an active campaign. It will be opened by an army under a French General moving from Eupatoria, and you will be at the head of another army lying on the plateau, and moving against the enemy as opportunity presents itself.
As to clearing the Crimea.
The intention is to clear the Crimea, and the more effectually and more speedily done the better. There are so many complications that I cannot give you any assurance of action, but as soon as I can you shall have the plan, and I shall do no more than give you such orders as I consider necessary for the general purpose of its execution, leaving you as much discretion in carrying them out as you will like as a Commander-in-Chief. I like your scheme for your Land Transport Corps much, though it will excite commotion, I suspect, in M’Murdo’s mind! I have sent it on to Lord Hardinge; when you send home printed documents always send two, for I have been obliged to part with your Army General Order to Lord Hardinge. I hope the little cloud of Vivian’s having commented to me on one of your despatches will disperse. It was more my fault than his, and it will not occur again. I don’t know why you wished your despatch to go to the Commander-in-Chief, but it is gone.
In regard to General Grey’s communication, all you have to do is to note the document as a private communication sent through me. It is not to bias your judgment in any way, and must remain among your private papers.
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 2, 1856.
The Queen approves of the recommendations for the Bath submitted to her by Lord Panmure, and has signed the submission. She wishes, however, the name of General Wetherall to be added to the List of K.C.B.’s; considering the responsible duties which the Queen’s Adjutant-General has performed during the whole war, he fully deserves such a reward, being already a C.B. and a distinguished officer, particularly as the services of the Deputy Secretary at War are to be so recognised.
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 2, 1856.
Codrington to be urged to act.
The Queen acknowledges Lord Panmure’s letter and the copies of despatches from Sir William Codrington. He speaks of all that ought to be done, but does not seem to intend doing anything. The Queen thinks he ought without delay to be directed to do what he says is requisite.
Has Lord Panmure settled to send Sir R. Airey to the Crimea with the instructions for Sir William Codrington?
February 2, 1856.
Memorandum adopted by the Cabinet on the subject of the ensuing campaign.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to forward to Your Majesty a copy of the memorandum adopted by the Cabinet on the subject of the ensuing campaign, and which has been forwarded to Paris by to-night’s messenger.
Lord Panmure trusts that Your Majesty will forgive the hurry in which the copy has been made.
Your Majesty will perceive that the Cabinet have so far departed from the views of the Emperor as to introduce prominently into their plan an expedition to Asia, to be undertaken by a portion of the English Army, and, while Omar Pasha moves from Erzeroum to recover Kars, we shall move on Tiflis, and so place the Russian Army between two fires.
The Cabinet came to a clear conclusion that, if no operation were undertaken in Asia, the campaign would turn out certainly a disappointment to Your Majesty’s people, and any credit to be gained would be more likely to accrue to the Army commanded by the French General than to that under the English.
Lord Panmure does not expect a candid co-operation in the plan now sent over on the part of the Emperor, nevertheless he thinks that a general assent will be afforded to it, partly in the hope that peace may override any operations at all, and partly because, if His Majesty’s calculations of the number of his troops be correct, it is in reality the only rational mode of employing the force. 1
Lord Panmure has communicated with Sir Richard Airey, and he will be ready to start on Thursday next for the Crimea should the Emperor send an answer in time for us to instruct Sir Richard as fully as it will be necessary.
February 2, 1856.
We are now with a white ground again from snow, and very heavy squalls of sleet and hail from the south.
Prognostics of peace.
Your letters, and particularly the last account I had from Marshal Pélissier of the proposed immediate arrangement at Paris of the terms of peace and an armistice, all tend to a peaceable solution. The point on which I want a decision in England — perhaps the only one — is the stopping the purchase of horses and mules for the Land Transport Corps: and the decision of Government about peace or war, or its probability even, affects the giving commissions to non-commissioned officers from regiment(s) to that Corps. I have thought it right to put in orders, subject to Her Majesty’s pleasure, those non-commissioned officers and officers who have been probationary, as it were, with Colonel Wetherall, and who are essential men for the proper maintenance of the regiments now lately formed as the Land Transport of the Divisions of the Army.
How the Land Transport Corps is affected.
I see that on a prospect of peace, some officers withdraw their volunteering for the Land Transport Corps; I am not surprised at it: if it is meant to continue the Corps as a future and permanent portion of the Army, you must let me know it; officers and non-commissioned officers will want to know on what footing their continuance in the Corps is likely to stand.
I shall probably put in orders that all officers for the present, those now volunteering on probation, should only be ‘attached’ and do duty with, not transferred from their regiments permanently to the Corps. (This is done.)
As to destruction of docks, quay, and forts.
You will see by my public letter that the docks are destroyed: I am going on with the large barracks, but shall still hold off the destruction of the quay to Fort Paul, and the storehouses upon it, hoping that you may gain advantages by holding their preservation up as a return. If you wish to do the thing handsomely, why not let even small Russian vessels of war show their flag afloat on their side of the harbour, and we on ours? We can escort them from Nicolaieff. But I would insist on no limit on our power of removal or destruction of everything in our hands, or under the water on our side of the harbour.
Fort Nicholas, that essential part of the ‘standing menace,’ will be blown down by the French on Monday; and I presume the other sea forts will share a similar fate. When I see Fort Constantine a heap of ruins, and Forts Catherine and Michael blown into a mass of débris, I shall think that there is real and practical sincerity; it will be a tangible result. Not that such destruction would prevent the command of the harbour, and the sea approach to it, by other earthworks; of course not, but it would be an apparent European proof of acquiescence in the principle; it would be carrying that principle into practice — the only way in which principles are valuable.
Asks instructions as to captured guns.
I should be glad to know the opinion about guns, Russian guns. I propose sending home several from the Redan, wounded and damaged, with their carriages, and many good ones from the gun wharf. You know the French are moving any number for the purpose of making a ‘Boulevard Sebastopol,’ as a pendant to the French guns at Moscow. We have now about forty guns up on the plateau, which I wished to have ready for possible ulterior purposes here near Balaclava: these can go home if there is peace. I can get the whole, carronades and all sorts which are of no artillery value; but it will be a long job, and somewhat tear the horses about, which are of more value than the guns. If you wish no gun to be left on the ground, I can do so: if you prefer their destruction, and throwing into the water, I can do so — the policy thereof depending on the power of entrance of boats to our side of the harbour. As yet I have not sanctioned the risk of hurting Artillery horses of the field-batteries for all the old iron under the sun. The weather at this moment is impracticable almost for moving weights.
Enumeration of some captured articles.
There are an engine of 30-horse-power, 3 steam-engine boilers, some old copper bolts, 4 cranes, 4 windlasses, large fire-bricks for steam purposes, 46 blocks of lignum vitæ, a very large quantity of new iron in bars and pigs; the Navy want these moved by land to Kasatch — a heavy job I know, but said to be of use there, and at our works at Constantinople (as I understood).
Some heavy firing from the batteries of the North Side a few nights ago reminded us, by the constant flashes in the sky, but almost without sound from contrary wind, of the siege time. It arose from some French boats employed on a previous night, and then some Russian boats on that night. No harm was done at all.
It was good to publish that letter about drunkenness: perhaps some extracts from a former official one might have helped it well. . . .
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 3, 1856.
The Queen has received Lord Panmure’s letter, with the copy of his despatch to Paris agreed upon in the Cabinet. Although the general principle of not allowing Russia free scope to invade the Asiatic provinces has the Queen’s entire approval, she is afraid that the calculation upon which the division of forces is to be based assumes a larger force than will in reality be found to exist. The Queen, moreover, misses that more detailed consideration of the plan of operation from Eupatoria, which the Emperor will have thought himself entitled to look forward to.
Plan of campaign for current year.
This Emperor’s plan was a detailed one, marching 60,000 French from Eupatoria with 20,000 in reserve, forming entrenched camps on given spots, landing 20,000 Sardinians at Old Fort, and finally 40,000 English at the Bulganak, and thus completing the line which is to take the Russian Army in flank, and thus obliging it to retreat. The answer of the Queen’s Government returns again to more general principles, and considers 120,000 men enough for the Eupatoria movement, without giving any reasons upon which this opinion is based, or any counter project, how this force is to be composed, or how it is to operate. It remains silent upon the question of command and the composition of the Sebastopol Army, says nothing of Kertch and the Turkish Contingent. These are all omissions which will strike the Emperor.
The Queen presumes that Sir Charles Wood’s plan for the Baltic is also gone to Paris. The Queen has not yet seen it, and wishes Lord Panmure to cause it to be sent to her.
Lord Palmerston has also written to the Queen upon the result of the Cabinet, but in order not to repeat herself, she asks Lord Panmure to communicate this letter to him.
PICCADILLY, February 3, 1856.
Disposal of guns, barracks, forts captured at Sebastopol.
I quite agree with you about these guns. The few that may be worth sending home might come, or they might be used at Malta or Gibraltar if wanted there. The rest should be burst up by being fired into, and then thrown into the harbour or into the ruins of the docks, or left where they are.
The great range of barracks ought, I think, to be destroyed, as far as may be practicable, if not wanted for our use. The forts should also be blown up.
PICCADILLY, February 3, 1856.
Panmure right to go on doing everything as if there were no prospect of peace.
You are quite right to go on doing everything just as if there was no prospect of peace; your active preparations will be as persuasive as the eloquence of our negotiations.
I return the Queen’s letter, 2 — our calculations were founded upon the Emperor’s numbers, and our knowledge of what our own force would be — of course we assumed that the army for Georgia would be English.
Russian losses estimated at 400,000, or two-thirds of the original army.
The Russians are supposed to have lost 400,000 out of the 600,000 they had at the beginning of the war, 3 and their battalions, nominally 1000 strong, are said scarcely to muster 500. Their Crimea army will be reduced by the severity, the exposure and the diseases of the winter, and the deuce is in it if they will not find 120,000 in their rear and 70,000 in their front more than they will like to deal with. They must keep a large force in the north, and they must try to send reinforcements to Mouravieff. We did not pretend to point out to the Emperor how the 120,000 men from Eupatoria under a French General were to be manoeuvred. He must be the best judge of that.
G.C., February 4, 1856.
Information derived from letter of a female listener.
I return your female listener’s letter, 4 which is very interesting. I shall so far make use of its contents as to warn our Minister at Berlin and Vienna about the iron which is to be exported for the defences at Cronstadt. . . .
February 4, 1856.
Importance of a campaign in Asia.
I send you a secret and confidential despatch, containing a sketch of a plan of campaign which embraces a plan of (advance) from Eupatoria, a descent on Asia, and the defence of the lines before Sebastopol by an army to act eventually in co-operation with that which moves from Eupatoria. I am afraid, however, the Emperor will never consent to the contemporaneous move in the Crimea and Asia, because I am pretty well convinced he has overstated his means in men, and that he relies in the second [place] on the support of the English Army, as I learn that his regiments are frightfully shabby, a state in which the French line regiments have been left by the practice of so many picked corps. People are so determined, however, to see something done in Asia that I am convinced we are right in pressing it, and I see just credit to be gained by either entrapping Mouravieff, or forcing him to fall back on his line of retreat beyond the Caucasus.
I have sent you, as I said, the sketch. I send you with this, and in still greater confidence if possible, the proceedings of the Council of War at Paris. This you may study, and avail yourself of the knowledge you will derive from it, but you must keep it a profound secret and let no one know — not even Sir R. Airey, who comes out to you by next mail — that such a document is in your possession. It will enable you to know the opinions of many officers of the French Army, and compare what Martimprez may say at Sebastopol with what he said at Paris.
I have not yet confidence in Peace. I see many rocks ahead which it is difficult to describe, and, whatever our Allies may do, you must go on preparing for offensive operations until you receive positive orders to hold your hand. I have sent a telegram to you to strengthen yourself to the west of Balaclava. The Queen and Prince give me no rest on this point, and it seems to me will have no rest themselves till they hear of something being done. I have got home your brass trophies; in regard to the others, I have telegraphed to you to destroy them and throw them into the harbour. If you can save any of the best you may, but it is of no great consequence.
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 5, 1856.
The Queen has to acknowledge the receipt of two letters from Lord Panmure, one on the plan of campaign, the other on the ‘Victoria Cross.’
She is glad to hear that it is intended to work out a more detailed and precise plan before it be sent to the Crimea.
Calculation as to force available.
As to our force, the Queen is afraid that it is overestimated as much as the French. The last Morning State of the Eastern Army, inclusive of the German and Swiss Legions and the Cavalry at Scutari, shows 58,000 men of all arms; from these must be deducted 4892 Land Transport Corps and 6960 sick — together 11,852, say 12,000 men, which will leave 46,000. If the whole 10,000 said to be at Malta be added in the spring, this would give 56,000 men of all arms, batmen and staff corps included. Of these, 50,000 are to go to Asia Minor, 20,000 are to co-operate with the French from Eupatoria, and the rest to form the body of the Sebastopol Army.
It becomes, then, quite clear that the whole of the British Army is to go to Asia Minor, leaving a Contingent of about 5000 men at the disposal of the French. But if this is so, it ought to be stated to the Emperor.
Has Sir Edmund Lyons been asked whether the Navy can carry on both expeditions at the same time? Is the Sardinian Army to be permanently attached to the French?
Design for V.C.
The Cross looks very well in form, but the metal is ugly; it is copper and not bronze, and will look very heavy on a red coat with the Crimean Ribbon. Bronze is, properly speaking, gun-metal; this has a rich colour and is very hard; copper would wear very ill and would soon look like an old penny. Lord Panmure should have one prepared in real bronze, and the Queen is inclined to think that it ought to have a greenish varnish to protect it; the raised parts would then burnish up bright and show the design and inscription. The reverse ought not to be quite flat, but should be finished as much as the front.
The Queen has to thank Lord Panmure for the Quarterly Reports; the only one now remaining in arrear is that of the Barrack Department.
February 5, 1856.
Energetic protest against excessive communicativeness of the Press.
I have written a public despatch about the information given by our correspondents and our newspapers: no details are omitted by these gentlemen present in camp, and I am not sure that in the articles written in England there are not seen details evidently obtained from an authentic source and published without hesitation. I do not know if you can bring public opinion to bear upon this point: I have written my letter to you with the view of publication if you think it could do good; but it is quite necessary that some one should be able to check the abuse, the utter want of common prudence and consideration which exists: it is specially necessary at this time, when preparations might be making which it is an object to conceal. As I say, it is not pleasant to put one’s fingers into any such hornet’s nest, of which the inhabitants will be brought about my ears; but somebody should tackle the question, and perhaps it falls more properly to my lot to bear the brunt of it. I have no objection to do so, but I think that the publication of my letter may help me if it becomes necessary to interfere hereafter.
Destruction of Fort Nicholas.
I have also written to you about the blowing up of Fort Nicholas yesterday: perhaps the mere mention of the fort being destroyed would have given the Government sufficient information, without entering into any description of the scene of great interest then before our eyes; but other people have not the information, or the plans or the descriptions of these places, and I have therefore written several of my letters in order to give others a better idea of it, perhaps, than the mere formality of a despatch. I never saw anything more beautiful than the clouds of smoke from the nearly simultaneous explosions gathering together as a shroud of darkness over the fort which it concealed, gradually expanding high into the air, caught by the sunlight, and, being slowly wafted away, betrayed the complete disappearance of the long line of casemates, the familiar object of our acquaintance during the whole siege. I went to the large white barrack buildings afterwards and to the docks: about 100 feet of wall of the roofless barrack was blown down a day or two ago, completely and easily, with one lb. of powder per foot: it is a very eligible opportunity for the engineers trying some experiments as to the best means of doing such things. I hope to be able to let them mine the whole facade and tumble it down in one mass together in a short time hence. On the destruction of Fort Nicholas, the preparations for which seem not to have been suspected, the men on the North Side showed themselves out of huts and behind parapets — not very numerous, or looking like large garrisons; but still a good sprinkling all about, and many working at a large and complete redoubt on a hill commanding a side valley of approach on the Inkerman front. A cluster of officers came to the telegraph at the North fort, Severnaya, 5 and were signalling with flags, answered from the redoubt above mentioned.
An armistice — its principle and limitation.
. . . I have letters from Lord Stratford, telling of detailed arrangements in the view of peace and the probability of an immediate armistice. This certainly should take place at once. I look on the principle of an armistice as a prolonged truce — no further interchange or communication, a cessation of firing — that is all, and limits of neutral and not to be occupied ground marked out. I shall not consider myself precluded from destruction of everything within our lines: the cessation of fire from the opposite side is of no value to us to give up the advantage of destruction, or taking away of guns from any place above or below water; for there is some idea of some field-battery guns in the Dock Yard Creek. I hope you will not limit our powers in this respect. Do not understand that I have done anything about redoubts on the west side of Balaclava: nothing could be settled till the plan of operations is known, and you know my opinion as to the maintenance of our present position on the heights.
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 7, 1856.
The Queen has just received Lord Panmure’s letter, and is extremely sorry to see that Sir R. Airey cannot well go to the Crimea: she thinks the only way to make up for it would be to send him 6 a copy of all the papers which were printed of the Council of War at Paris, in order that he may be in possession of all that passed.
February 8, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to transmit to Your Majesty a copy of the memorandum which it is proposed to send to Lord Cowley for the information of H.M. the Emperor.
Although Lord Panmure feels the strongest repugnance to the command of the Eupatorian Army being entrusted to Marshal Pélissier, having no confidence in that General’s activity or vigour, the Ministers present at the meeting yesterday thought it prudent, under existing circumstances, not to press any objection in a public and official document.
As to plan for ensuing campaign.
The calculations of Your Majesty’s forces is the result of the examination of the means at disposal to reinforce the Army made by Lord Panmure and Sir R. Airey, and supposing the Infantry to be overrated by 5000 men, still there remains for the Army of Sebastopol 60,000 men of all arms.
It is somewhat singular how much Sir William Codrington in his last letter but one coincided with the Emperor in discouraging two operations at once.
Lord Panmure foresees some little difficulty in reconciling Sir William to the apparently sedentary duty to which the main body of his Army will be destined, but it is quite possible that, if the movement from Eupatoria is properly conducted, much glory may be achieved by the timely advance of Sir William’s army, and he may possibly assume the principal part in the closing scene of the Crimean campaign.
Lord Panmure has desired the Messenger to wait to bring back Your Majesty’s pleasures and the memorandum.
Lord Panmure quite agrees with Your Majesty that, as Sir R. Airey cannot go to the Crimea, more especially after the announced attack upon him by Mr. Layard, copies of all the confidential proceedings of the Council of War at Paris should be sent to Sir William Codrington, in whose discretion Lord Panmure has full reliance.
First object of next campaign to clear the Crimea.
Lord Panmure proposes to send to Sir William full instructions by the mail on Monday, and in the meantime to telegraph to him that the first and single object of the ensuing campaign will be to clear the Crimea, and to desire him to make all exertions to have his Army in a movable state.
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 7 [9th?], 1856.
The Queen returns to Lord Panmure the proposed memorandum for the Emperor, which she approves, and of which she would wish to have a copy. She entirely shares all the opinions expressed by Lord Panmure in his letter.
February 8, 1856.
I have to thank you for a long and a shorter private letter since I last wrote you. I see you are beginning to rouse yourself from your winter inaction, and barring the advent of peace, to speculate on the forthcoming campaign.
Efforts of the Allies to be concentrated on the Crimea.
You are quite right in your views as to one great and vigorous effort to sweep the Crimea, and although all may have entertained hopes that we could have done something in Asia, at the same time we have resolved to put our whole steam on the Crimea. The plan is settled to have two armies distinct and separate, and so get rid of the curse of divided command. The one army will proceed to act from Eupatoria, and will consist principally of French, aided by a portion of English and the Sardinians, and the other will be formed at Sebastopol, principally of English troops and those in English pay, and aided by French, the whole under your command. I see you already demur to the French having all the credit of the Eupatoria move, and you anticipate that all the laurels grow there and none are to be gathered elsewhere. I do not agree with you, or I should not have consented to [confine] you to the plateau. My opinion is that the Russians will not fight, and that you will have an early opportunity of signalising yourself and your Army by a move on the enemy. I thought to have sent out Sir R. Airey with full instructions to you, but Mr. Layard has given notice of an attack on him in the House of Commons, arising out of matters in Sir J. M’Neill’s and Colonel Tulloch’s report. I must therefore refer you to the document which I sent you out in strict confidence by last mail for the different views of the members of the Council of War, and by the mail of Monday I shall have prepared a despatch detailing the whole plan of the campaign, and giving you such instructions for carrying it out, as appear to me, to belong to the responsibility of my position, leaving you as far as possible free to carry out the instructions in your own way.
Clearing of the Crimea probably easier than is expected.
I don[’]t think Kertch has ever been in any danger of an attack. If the Russian army has been moving at all, it has had its face to the north. Private information leads me to believe this, and I suspect your clearing of the Crimea may not be as bloody an affair as you contemplate. The Russian resources are failing, and, having neither trade nor agriculture to fall back on, she must suffer the process of exhaustion long before the Allies. I have just completed the Army estimates, which include Army, Ordnance, and Commissariat and are to the tune of thirty-five millions. You shall have a copy for your amusement. My secretary has just brought me in print the memo which I have sent to the Emperor, on which our two armies are to be formed. I transmit it to you in strictest confidence, and will follow it by a secret and confidential despatch of instruction on Monday.
Your last public despatches were most interesting, and will all be answered in course of official routine.
SEBASTOPOL, February 9, 1856.
Protection of troops embarking from Balaclava.
I send you a secret official letter on the subject of the defending the remains of embarkation from Balaclava, if necessary. No doubt you will communicate it to Lord Hardinge; for, though mine is the responsibility, which I accept, of doing all that can be done in such circumstances, your Lordship will know from him whether I am right in the main principles, and their necessary consequences, that must guide the placing, the movements, and the withdrawal of troops.
We must remember always it is not the maintaining a fixed position, it is the embarkation in safety of the last Infantry.
The weather is fine — frosts at night, the sun and air melting the surface in the day, and making the ground as usual almost impracticable.
Experiments in destruction.
The opportunity of trying some experiments was so good that I sanctioned its being done on parts of the large walls of the barracks; when this has been done, the whole will be blown down together for a smash.
I think of making an exception of the long wall of them facing the North Side batteries, in order to hide any of our people working at the roof timber, which will be thrown down on the mass, and which I want to keep for future contingencies. If the whole is thrown down and laid open, they would of course see and fire at us at about eleven or twelve hundred yards distance — so that, although people will probably imagine it a failure, you will know the object. But if the newspapers get hold of the reason, the Russians will, as usual, know where to fire with the best effect from the ‘authorities’ within our own camp. . . .
I have your private letter about future movements. I only hope no part of this Army will have to play a small game.
February 10, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to transmit to Your Majesty a rough draft of a despatch which he proposes to send to Sir William Codrington by to-morrow’s mail. The Emperor of the French fully coincides in the last proposal of Your Majesty’s Government, and has with his usual good faith sent orders to commence this plan of campaign immediately. These demonstrations, besides placing the Allied troops in a proper attitude for commencing the campaign if War is to continue, cannot fail to have considerable effect in supporting our terms of peace in the Congress.
British opportunities in forthcoming campaign.
Sir William Codrington seemed to grudge the movement of Eupatoria to the French; Lord Panmure feels that Your Majesty’s Arms are by no means slighted in the proposed arrangements, and that they occupy, though in inferior numbers, the post of honour at Eupatoria, and may play a most prominent part from Sebastopol if occasion offer. Lord Panmure has the honour to forward to Your Majesty a printed copy of the last memorandum sent to the Emperor, and will forward to Your Majesty a complete set of these latter papers should it meet with Your Majesty’s approbation.
WINDSOR CASTLE, February 10, 1856.
The Queen returns the Draft to Sir William Codrington. The only suggestion she would wish to make is that Sir William ought to be informed that we expect the whole Campaign to be concluded within a month, at least as far as our Army is concerned, and that this is then at once to turn to Asia Minor. Unless this be stated from the beginning, the necessary preparations will not be made in the meantime, upon which the possibility of the second movement will depend. Sir William ought also to see, with respect to this question, what passed between us and the French Government, and receive copies of Lord Cowley’s despatches giving an account of his interviews with the Emperor.
PICCADILLY, February 11, 1856.
Your addition is very good. Perhaps you might mention the compelling the Russians to evacuate Turkish Territory, first, and the driving them over the Caucasus, second. It would be well to ask Charles Wood whether he could not get two or three river-going steamers of light draft of water for the ——. 7
Codrington might turn his attention to Trebizond and Erzeroum as an alternative instead of a landing in Mingrelia, if the season for going to either becomes so late that the fevers on the Mingrelian Coast would be an objection to a landing there.
WAR DEPARTMENT, February 11, 1856.
Detail of operations determined on forwarded.
The mail of this day carries out to you a secret and confidential despatch of some length and no ordinary importance. It contains our views in regard to the future and a detail of the operations which, in accordance with the calculations of the Emperor and the strong opinion expressed by you against having more irons in the fire than one at a time, we have determined to adopt. In that document I have endeavoured to show you that we have given the main body of the British Army no inglorious place, and you may rely on it that, had I had a suspicion that such chance might happen, I would never have consented to the arrangement.
Your weather seems to have become much improved, and I hope you may get your troops a little trotted about in Brigade Field days. I cannot understand what has alarmed you about the Land Transport. I do not mean to deviate from the carte blanche I have given you to organise it after your own way, as I am convinced that the gigantic schemes of Colonel M’Murdo are all of Indian and not of European dimensions. I cannot reconcile his immense requisitions for Carts, Harness, etc., with the moderate demands that I get from Colonel Wetherall. With these latter I will comply as soon as possible.
I can tell you nothing as to peace. Everybody hopes for it, but I cannot find many very sanguine of its security. One thing I am glad of, and that is that you have so well destroyed the docks and are still progressing in the work. We shall try and get our flag into the harbour if we can, but I doubt our succeeding in this unless we are disposed to give a longer armistice than we can afford to do.
SEBASTOPOL, February 12, 1856.
A day or two ago Marshal Pélissier mentioned to me that he had received directions from Paris to establish troops at Sak, a village to the south of Eupatoria. The Marshal mentioned the probability of his sending another Division of troops there, if this view is to be carried out, as well as from some sickness, as I understood him.
As to carrying out works to the westward of Balaclava.
Colonel Gordon, R.E., and an officer of Artillery will examine the ground for carrying out the detail of works and lines west of Balaclava. Your Lordship must expect that troops will not be as healthy encamped on the open in single tents at this time of year. It will be necessary to move and encamp the Divisions on the spot in turn; for, the distance from their present huts and camps being from the third Division and fourth Division about five or six miles, at least four hours’ work every day would be lost in going backwards and forwards; and we cannot expect the bad weather of the winter to be yet passed away. If, therefore, anything decisive happens to prevent the necessity of such works, I trust you will telegraph to me.
Are we to act as if the state of war were likely to continue?
The Land Transport must be thought of. I mentioned to Your Lordship that I had suspended the immediate purchase of 1000 horses; but if you really mean that everything is indiscriminately to go on as if we were at, and to continue, war, we must bring up the Land Transport numbers of horses and men very much. But as I have telegraphed about this, I shall have received your answer.
The weather is quite fine — inspections and ball firing going on well.
There is no truce here, or idea of it, in practice on the part of the Russians: they fire away.
February 15, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to forward to Your Majesty copies of the despatches which have arrived from the Crimea.
Your Majesty will perceive with satisfaction the continued good health of the Army, and officially announcing the final destruction of the docks. Lord Panmure does not coincide in Sir William Codrington’s opinion as to suspending the continuance of operations in the way of levelling the Russian public buildings in our possession, and has so signified his views to Sir William, whose ideas on this subject are somewhat chivalrous.
Lord Panmure transmits for Your Majesty’s use copies of all the documents of a secret nature consequent upon the proceedings of the Council of War. Your Majesty will perceive that, in accordance with Your Majesty’s views, Lord Panmure made an addition to the Secret and Confidential despatch of the 11th inst, on the subject of operations in Asia, after those which are to be executed from Eupatoria are concluded.
Lord Panmure has the honour of forwarding to Your Majesty a daily state from Scutari.
There likewise is forwarded to Your Majesty a series of interesting letters for Your Majesty’s use, showing the armaments in use and the material expended in the siege of Sebastopol.
Lord Panmure has the honour of transmitting to Your Majesty the last quarterly return from the Small Arm Department.
February 15, 1856.
I am much obliged by your letter which I received this morning. . . .
Effect of the Tulloch-M’Neill Report.
We are about to be involved in a serious difficulty by the ferment made by the report of Sir J. M’Neill and Colonel Tulloch. The four officers blamed especially in it for the disasters of 1854-1855 are indignant at the evidence given in the Crimea. The House of Commons are indignant against the officers. High personages are fearful lest this opportunity be seized to get the administration of the Army placed, as the Admiralty, under the control of Parliament! All is unhinged, and Layard has given notice of a motion for the 28th which will be full of difficulty. All mean to put in written defences against the report, and I shall lay them before Parliament.
Desire to avoid serious changes.
It is a pretty mess, but I have fought through worse, and hope to get over this without any serious change, or injury to the Queen’s authority, which I desire to see upheld. You will be duly instructed about guns. We have no desire to have a ‘boulevard Sebastopol,’ but a few reminiscences of our long siege will be acceptable.
The Docks seem to be in ruins, and all the public buildings of a military character should follow.
From all we can hear I think peace is in the ascendant, but, as the treaties approach, our allies, at least the Army, are not quite so clamorous for peace as they were. Here there is no desire to avoid it, but a general impression exists that they would have done something great had the campaign gone on. I must now stop as I am expected at the House of Lords to meet some observations of Ellenborough’s.
February 16, 1856.
. . . If the proceedings of the Council of War at Paris are printed, they will surely be known; a secret is not kept by so many people, and by those who print besides.
The writer withholds his own opinion.
I have your private letters mentioning the general outline of two armies: the fact is I need not give an opinion upon a point settled: whatever is so settled shall be carried out by me in the spirit in which such operations have been formed; and if I had a difference of opinion at all, that difference should be merged in the general view, for the success of which more considerations than mine must enter.
Disposing of the Russian guns.
We have had fine weather up to the present time — to-day a blowy fog; but for some time it has been very favourable, admitting of ground drying; I have taken advantage of it to put the Artillery strength upon the Russian guns, of which 125 are away from the town, 106 being on this plateau near the rail, 11 at Balaclava, and 8 embarked in the Edward.
I won’t leave an old English broken gun for a lamppost either. And with our strength of horses I hope to do much pretty soon in getting most of them up.
I keep many good guns (forty Russian good ones) for possible ulterior purposes round Balaclava.
The ground west of Balaclava is difficult, indeed, for the purpose of defence: never mind — it shall be done.
February 17, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to inform Your Majesty that at the Cabinet yesterday Your Majesty’s letter to Lord Palmerston was read.
The Commission of which Sir J. M’Neill and Colonel Tulloch were members was sent out in February 1855 — their instructions bear date 19th of that month — to inquire into matters purely connected with the Commissariat supplies to the Army, it being stated by the public accounts from the Army, confirmed too fearfully by the casualties there were occurring, that both men and beasts were starving, while over-work and want of shelter helped the havoc of the war. The instructions given by Lord Panmure touch in no way on the powers of the Commander-in-Chief, nor could he anticipate that even accidentally the report of the Commission would involve charges against any but some non-combatant officers of the Army.
Your Majesty will perhaps recollect that the appointment of that Commission was intimated to Parliament as one of the first acts of the Government, and the results of its inquiries were anxiously looked for after the miserable failure of the House of Commons’ Committee.
Reports of Tulloch-M’Neill Commission.
Lord Panmure received the first report of the Commissioners, dated from Constantinople, on 10th June, about the end of that month. With the exception of the Earl of Cardigan, to whom one paragraph at the top of page 20 refers, none of the officers subsequently alluded to are mentioned, except the Commissary-General, whose incapacity appeared to be so conspicuously proved that Lord Panmure recalled him.
The second report was not produced to Lord Panmure till the 20th January, and he was unaware of its contents till that period.
It appeared to Lord Panmure and his colleagues inexpedient to withhold these reports from Parliament, more especially as much had been built upon the Commission, and the result of its labours had been promised.
Lord Panmure read the report with a view to strike out inconvenient passages, but he found that he could not do so successfully unless he struck out or altered the evidence also, a step which Lord Panmure could not take, and of which Your Majesty would justly have expressed your condemnation.
Object of said report.
In presenting that report to Parliament Your Majesty’s servants do not constitute themselves the accusers of any one, and Lord Panmure stated in the House of Lords that the object of the Government in acting on that report was to avoid for the future the errors which had been pointed out, and not to assume a vindictive course against any individual.
Mr. Layard’s motion in the Commons.
Lord Panmure has troubled Your Majesty with this history of the report, but Mr. Layard’s motion implies, if it does not assert, that, while in possession of this report, the Government had concurred in the appointment of the four officers especially referred to in it to places of honour.
I cannot believe that any stress will be laid on the admission of these officers to the Order of the Bath, an act of grace emanating from Your Majesty and never conferred on braver or more loyal soldiers.
Appointments given to officers referred to in Report.
The motion evidently refers to the situations held by these officers under Your Majesty. The Earl of Lucan has been appointed Colonel of a Regiment, the Earl of Cardigan is Inspector of Cavalry, Sir R. Airey is Your Majesty’s Quartermaster-General, and Colonel Gordon Deputy Quartermaster-General.
That these officers still continue to hold these situations is perfectly true, and Lord Panmure is prepared to justify the fact. That they were appointed to them while Government was in possession of the report in which reference is made to them is not true, as a simple reference to dates will show.
In the first report reference is made only to Lord Cardigan. That report arrived at the end of June 1855, and Lord Cardigan, unless Lord Panmure’s memory fail him, had been long before appointed Inspector of Cavalry.
The second report was not placed in Lord Panmure’s hands till the 20th January, 1856, and Colonel Gordon received his appointment in August 1855, and Sir R. Airey in December, while Lord Lucan got his regiment in the latter months of the year.
Vindication of officers referred to in the Report.
These officers are naturally most desirous to make counter-statements in their vindication, and Lord Panmure at once admits the justice of their wishes. . . .
A Commission of Inquiry proposed.
The mode of dealing with these vindications has occupied the attention of Your Majesty’s servants, and they have come to the conclusion that Parliament is not the fit tribunal before which the conduct of Military officers ought to be discussed. They propose, with Your Majesty’s approbation, to advise Your Majesty to issue a Commission of high Military officers, to whom the report of the Commission and the replies of the officers shall be referred, and who shall report to Your Majesty their opinion as to the conduct of Your Majesty’s officers, and the extent of blame to be attached to them for the sufferings of Your Majesty’s Army.
Whether this course will disarm the keenness of Parliament on this question is yet to be seen, but it will maintain Your Majesty’s right as well as exhibit Your Majesty’s anxiety that the conduct of your officers should be fully investigated by competent tribunals.
Submits names of proposed members of Commission.
The names of the officers which have occurred to the Cabinet as fitting to constitute the Commission are:General Sir Howard Douglas, G.C.B., President.
General Lord Seaton, G.C.B.
Earl of Beauchamp.
Lieut.-General Sir John Bell, K.C.B.
Lieut.-General Sir De Lacy Evans, K.C.B.
Lieut.-General William Rowan.
Lieut.-General J. Peel.
Should Your Majesty approve of these names, Lord Panmure will more formally submit them to Your Majesty.
Lord Panmure regrets giving Your Majesty the trouble of perusing so long a letter, but he has felt it to be his duty to lay before Your Majesty the facts of this case as they stand.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, February 17, 1856.
Commission of Inquiry.
The Queen thanks Lord Panmure for his long explanation. She approves of the names for the proposed Commission of Inquiry with the exception of Sir De Lacy Evans, who, being an officer of the very Army of the Crimea, may very likely become a witness that ought not to sit in judgment.
The Queen thinks that no one from the Crimea ought to form part of the Commission.
She feels sure that Lord Panmure will be impressed with the importance of not losing any time.
February 18, 1856.
French war medal for English soldiers.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to acquaint Your Majesty that he has been informed by Lieut.-Colonel Claremont that Marshal Vaillant has signified the desire of the Emperor to confer the French war medal on Your Majesty’s troops, in proportion of ten for every 1000 men of the various arms engaged.
Should Your Majesty be graciously pleased to approve of such a gift being accepted, Lord Panmure will desire Lieut.-Colonel Claremont so to inform Marshal Vaillant and have the medals transmitted to this country.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, February 18, 1856.
The Queen has to thank Lord Panmure for the papers he has sent her; she returns General Storkes’s returns.
The Returns from the War Office Departments would be much improved for use if the numbers were summed up at the bottom of each page, and a gross total given at the end of the Return.
The Returns of the Barracks Department to the end of the year is still wanting.
February 18, 1856.
No departments paid by money voted by Parliament can be kept out of discussion in Parliament.
. . . The Queen has sent for me in consequence of the Times’ article to-day, I must try to explain to her that no Department paid by money voted by Parliament, and which performs functions important for the interests of the nation, can be kept out of discussion in Parliament. 8
February 18, 1856.
I have very little to say except that I have resolved to send off your reinforcement of Artillery and Infantry directly, in case anything should interrupt our negotiations, so that you may be ready to avail yourselves of the opportunity for immediate action. The first portion will consist of one troop Horse Artillery and four field-batteries; 5000 Infantry (4000 Regulars and 1000 Germans) will follow immediately. We shall have a good many Cavalry remounts to send you and some men, but these will follow hereafter.
As to Codrington’s despatch on the Press.
I have just got yours of the 4th, and read your despatch on the press. I agree in every word of it. But I will give no opinion on the prudence of publishing it till I consult with my colleagues. I do not think you can conceal a great movement, such as is contemplated by the expedition to Eupatoria, from the enemy. He will sniff the preparations, and a little exaggeration on the part of the press may terrify him; but it is in small and sudden affairs, in the detail of the strength of your force, in the statement of the number of your guns and such like, that the danger lies, and it is very difficult to see how these things can be checked unless we close the Camp against correspondents entirely. And what if you do? They will at once get your own officers to give the information, and if they refuse they will descend lower to obtain it. I have been meditating a despatch to you on the Press in event of your moving at the head of the Army into the field, and I would in such an event authorise you to exclude all followers on the part of the Press, but your despatch brings the thing home to me, and I will send you such reply to it as we shall in Council decide on.
Your description of the explosion of Fort Nicholas is quite a composition and shall adorn the Gazette. . . .
Peace rumours gain ground, but I am an infidel still.
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, February 19, 1856.
French war medal for English troops.
Though the Queen has seen Lord Panmure and mentioned to him her grateful acceptance of the Emperor of the French’s offer to confer his war medal on her troops, she thinks it is better that Lord Panmure should have a written record of this, and she therefore repeats it here.
Would Lord Panmure inquire to whom these medals are given in the French Army, and how the selection of the men is made, in order that we may conform to their regulations and not become answerable for the mode of distribution? It is only given to privates, the Queen believes. Will the sailors participate in it?
February 20, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to acknowledge Your Majesty’s note.
Lord Panmure will convey through Lord Clarendon Your Majesty’s gracious acceptance of the French war medal, and ascertain without loss of time from Colonel Claremont all the particulars which Your Majesty desires to know. . . .
Forthcoming parliamentary discussion as to duties of Secretary of State for War.
Lord Panmure has to inform Your Majesty that Lord Derby has given notice that he will ask a question on Thursday as to the duties of the Secretary of State for War, 9 which will involve the discussion of the whole question of Military administration. Lord Panmure does not know in what spirit Lord Derby will put his question, or what line he will take, but he does not regret that this matter is to be brought to an issue at once.
February 20, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty. He has telegraphed to Sir W. Codrington to take steps to carry out what he considers requisite on the West side of Balaclava to secure the embarkation of his troops in the face of an enemy.
The memorandum which went to Paris on Saturday evening was transmitted by Lord Clarendon in a despatch to Lord Cowley, and Lord Panmure has the honour to acknowledge Your Majesty’s note graciously acknowledging the copy.
Lord Panmure forwarded Your Majesty’s note immediately to Lord Palmerstone as Your Majesty desired.
Lord Panmure is glad to find that Your Majesty entirely approves of the principle of not allowing Russia to [have] free action against the Asiatic dominions of the Sultan.
The calculation of the forces disposable for operations in the East was made on the basis that the Emperor of the French was correct in his statements of numbers.
His Majesty knew the means at the command of Sir William Codrington, inclusive of the Sardinian Army, and Lord Panmure did not state those means without the concurrence of Lord Hardinge, and he is prepared to support his calculation by the practical production of the force stated to be forthcoming.
Doubt as to correctness of numbers counted on.
If any defalcation therefore ensues, it must be on the side of the French, and Lord Panmure is by no means sure that Your Majesty’s suspicion as to the non-existence of a part of that force may not be perfectly correct, but Your Majesty’s Government could not hint that state of things, and felt bound to treat the Emperor’s data as correct.
Details of memorandum approved by Cabinet.
Proceeding, therefore, on this basis, the memorandum first deals with the abandonment of the Crimea, which Your Majesty’s Government concur with the Emperor in opinion to be an impossibility. It next points out how, in the opinion of the Government, Sebastopol and the place d’armes of the two Armies may be efficiently protected, and sets aside 70,000 men as sufficient for this object. The Cabinet thought it unnecessary to the forward action of this Army, as sketched out in Lord Panmure’s original memorandum, reserving such details for future arrangement. The memorandum then went on to deal with the Eupatoria plan, and expresses concurrence in the proposal of the Emperor for an offensive movement on the rear of the Russians from that base. Your Majesty’s Government state their opinion that 120,000 will be sufficient, and assign 100,000 as movable force, and 20,000 as the Reserve.
They do not in the memorandum give any opinion as to the composition of this Army, but leave the Emperor to infer that its majority is to consist of French troops, and these are to be moved to their base as suggested by the Emperor.
The memorandum then goes on to impress on the Emperor the necessity of early action, and likewise the inexpediency of an armistice prolonged beyond the 31st March, suggesting the movement of a portion of the French Army to Eupatoria before the armistice commences.
Nothing being said in opposition to the plan of operations, suggested by the Emperor, of the Army of Eupatoria, His Majesty will infer that the details are not objected to. The Cabinet assumed, though the Emperor’s memorandum did not say so, that he concluded that a French General would command the Eupatorian Army, and left the strategy of the operations to him, — the numbers and description of force to be furnished by England can only be settled in consultation with Sir W. Codrington, and with a complete knowledge of his power to move.
The same observation as to the composition of the Army of Sebastopol must hold good. The contemporaneous movements in Asia is what will be indigestible by the Emperor, and yet, if this be not undertaken early, it must either be given up altogether, or Your Majesty will have to lament many a gallant soldier, the victim of disease engendered by a summer sun acting on a swampy soil, if the expedition be delayed.
Desirability of arresting Russian progress in Asia.
Unless some steps are taken to arrest Russian progress in Asia great discontent will prevail in this country, and therefore the Cabinet have thought it but due to Your Majesty’s interests, and due to objects of the engagements under treaty, to urge upon the Emperor such a line of operations.
Lord Panmure entreats Your Majesty’s forgiveness for this long note. He has the honour to enclose a copy of Sir Charles Wood’s memorandum on the plan of naval operations in the Baltic. . . .
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, February 20, 1856.
The Queen has just received Lord Panmure’s letter. She entirely approves of Lord Seaton as President of the Military Commission, and General Knollys as one of the members, which she thinks a very good arrangement. 10
The Queen would wish to see Lord Panmure at half-past five to-day in order to speak to him about Lord Derby’s Motion.
War correspondents to be controlled.
The Queen sees by Sir William Codrington’s letter that he has written a despatch upon the Press, which he wishes should be published, but she does not find it amongst those sent her, nor does she see it in the papers. The Queen hopes Lord Panmure will not hesitate to comply with Sir William Codrington’s request, as it will be quite impossible to let the reporters go on unchecked, and she feels sure that public opinion in this country would, at this moment, strongly express itself in the same sense, were a proper case to be laid before the nation.
G.C., February 20, 1856.
The Emperor approves of Panmure’s last memorandum.
. . . General Martimprez leaves Paris to-day for the Crimea with orders founded upon your last memorandum, of which the Emperor entirely approves. I hope you will also send out an officer immediately. . . .
BUCKINGHAM PALACE, February 21, 1856.
The Queen has read Sir William Codrington’s despatch, which she thinks is not altogether worded so as to be published with advantage, yet it would be important that the Press should receive a hint. The Prince has thrown hastily on paper what Sir William Codrington might have said instead of his verbose despatch. The Queen encloses it.
The Queen likewise returns the Victoria Cross, merely burnished up by rubbing, with a little green colour put on the sunken parts: something like this is what the Queen would wish to have prepared for inspection, but with bolder relief by sinking the die deeper.
February 21, 1856.
I suppose we may as well call it a Board of General Officers to enquire into the matters adverted to in the Report of the Commissioners, and to receive explanations from those officers whose conduct has been called in question by that Report.
PY., February 22, 1856.
The Queen is anxious to express her satisfaction to Lord Panmure at the manner in which the Debate in the House of Lords went off yesterday, and at the manner in which he explained and stated the position of the Commander-in-Chief and Secretary for War. 11 His speech and Lord Derby’s the Queen thinks very important, and she is sure, will do much good.
February 22, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and begs to tender to Your Majesty his grateful acknowledgment of Your Majesty’s approbation of the course which he took in the House of Lords last night. Lord Panmure thinks that this important question of the position of Your Majesty’s Commander-in-Chief will be set at rest and fully recognised for the future.
Lord Panmure has the honour to forward the despatches which arrived last night from the Crimea. Sir William Codrington’s conduct shows that he is a prudent administrator, and Lord Panmure feels some regret that his skill as a General will not probably be tested.
Submits draft of warrant for appointment of Board of Inquiry.
[This marginal note is included because it is present in the published work, but it is clearly an erroneous duplication of the note to letter dated 24 February below. — DK]
Had Sir W. Codrington written such a despatch as that drafted by H.R.H. the Prince, there would have been no difficulty in publishing it. Lord Panmure will consult the Cabinet on this point to-morrow.
Your Majesty’s commands in regard to the Victoria Cross shall be forthwith attended to. The alterations made by Your Majesty are very great improvements upon its appearance.
February 22, 1856.
I have received yours of the 9th inst, and I have scarcely a moment to write to you. Your public despatches are most satisfactory, and your prudent dealing in regard to your transport animals gives us just confidence in your administrative powers.
Peace assuming a definite shape.
The peace is assuming a definite shape, and, from all I hear from Paris, Russia is ready to yield all our points. Your despatch about the press I can scarcely publish, but as there will be time enough to do something to counteract the evils you mention before any new operation is undertaken, I will use it as a means of doing good.
You are quite right to restrain your doctors, and I hope if you catch them, or any other gents giving their opinions ultra crepidam, that you will pull them up.
I write in great haste to get down to the House, as the Estimates are on in the House of Commons. We had a discussion in the House of Lords last night as to whether the army was to be governed by the Queen or the House of Commons, and I think we have settled that question for some time.
SEBASTOPOL, February 23, 1856.
I received on the 19th inst. the printed copy of the proceedings; and on the 21st February your telegraph of not relaxing preparations for 25,000 men to Eupatoria; together with your private letters referring to the same subjects, and the single printed sheet of paper. I am not sorry to find, notwithstanding all that may somewhat inconsiderately be dashed off in England, that one business at a time is likely to be taken in hand. We shall probably find that the enemy has made, and will continue, preparations for retreat by the Tchongar bridge.
Were the Crimea to be evacuated, enemy would probably occupy it at once.
We may probably find also that his retreat will not be further carried than is necessary, and that he would put himself in a position to re-occupy the Crimea the moment we evacuate it.
This, however, leads to larger speculations than are at present necessary. In the plan of operations, however, I think two things are to be seen — one of which my letters will have referred to, and to which you have written in answer, and to this I will first refer.
Objections to the plan of operations from Eupatoria, and the part to be played in them by England.
The operations from Eupatoria are to be the vital ones against the Russian army in the Crimea: you give to France this, the high service, the culminating point of the war in the Crimea: the Commander-in-Chief of the French army is there; the Sardinian army is placed under his orders; the Sardinian Commander-in-Chief is also present at this, the main movement of the war.
England is to send a detachment of its army which, if small, is under the wing of others; if large, it becomes the main strength of the English army, and the Commander of the Forces is positively excluded from its command. According to this, any accident to me here should necessitate the withdrawal of the General Officer, probably the next senior, placed in command of those detached troops; for he would then become at once the Commander of the Forces. Circumstances might render even necessary the presence of the Commander of the Forces with that, perhaps the main, body of the army. What seems to be acquiesced in presupposes a want of cordiality, a want of unity, which, if truly to be attributed to the presence of the Commander of the Forces, must happen the moment the operation has become successful — for the armies will then join.
How Europe may view it.
I scarcely think the position, the positive limit, is one in which England ought to see her Commander, if his position is to represent the main body of her army; we are here in front of a wall, waiting for the Commanders-in-Chief of our Allies to open the way for us. This is the way in which Europe may look at our situation.
A small detachment of our army to the main point puts us nationally in inferiority vis-à-vis our Allies: a large one — mentioned by you as 25,000 — is, I presume, infantry with artillery; and the whole cavalry will be added — that is, it is the best part of the English army, and must probably be four divisions.
Personal feelings of the writer.
I need not conceal from you what my personal feelings might be, ‘cabin’d, cribb’d, confined’ by arrangements for which there can be no more reason now than during any previous part of the war. Still less, indeed, for there could be no question as to superiority of rank and service now.
Personal feelings may have to give way, should give way, to public duty; nevertheless they are entertained, though sacrificed, and they may be known as a fair subject for consideration.
But it is not from mere personal considerations these circumstances are mentioned — though in my position, with officers senior to me in this army, they are rendered peculiarly strong — it is in the fair consideration of higher things, and of the impolicy of fettering any Commander when events might change in a moment every condition which gave rise to arrangements insisted on from a distance.
Though in a position made difficult, as every military man can understand, you will find me ready to do my best for the Service — to disregard, if possible, hopes long cherished, peculiarly valuable, perhaps necessary, to me from what has happened to me before Sebastopol; and from the presence of senior officers, one particularly, made junior to me in rank, though long senior to me in the Service.
February 24, 1856.
Submits draft of warrant for appointment of Board of Inquiry.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and has the honour to forward for Your Majesty’s perusal and comments the drafts of the proposed Warrant, hereafter to be submitted to Your Majesty, for the appointment of the Board of General Officers to inquire into the matters contained (and complained of) in the Report of Sir J. M’Neill and Colonel Tulloch. Your Majesty may probably desire to retain the draft, in which case Your Majesty’s approval signified to Lord Panmure will enable him to have the drafts drawn up for Your Majesty’s signature.
The Cabinet went carefully over the wording of this important document, and care has been taken to recognise in it Your Majesty’s position as the Head of the Army.
No intimation has been given to any of the officers named as members of the Board, as the service is considered one of duty required by Your Majesty, which admits of no excuse except that of illness.
SEBASTOPOL, February 24 and 26, 1856.
Acknowledges opinions in last letter to have been expressed after insufficient perusal of last documents received.
Somehow or other I was in a hurry when I read your last private letter to me, which referred to the formation of the two armies, and l did not pay sufficient attention to the latter part of it, which mentioned the printed paper which you had just received from your Secretary, and which you enclosed to me. I took it into my head that it referred, or rather was similar, to the one previously sent, and did not look at the details until after the post was gone. Although I might have the same feelings about the policy of having the English Commander present, with the main part of the English army, in the place where the French and Sardinian armies are doing the vital business of the campaign with their Commanders, yet I do not know that I should have written so fully in the tone in my letter had I looked more into the details of the printed paper, and not taken my impression so entirely from your own letter and the telegraph received at the same time.
This will account to you for an apparent inattention of mine in overlooking things mentioned in the printed paper.
The whole of the proceedings of the Council are very interesting.
Parade of British Infantry.
February 26, 1856. — On Sunday afternoon at 1 o’clock, the weather being dry, but somewhat cool, the infantry of the army was paraded in marching order along the high brow overlooking the plain of Balaclava. I was very anxious to do this, and to do it almost in winter: you will understand many good reasons, not merely military, for this; but these reasons fitted in well with the purely military ones, — viz., that the officers and men should see and realise their own and their comrades’ health, strength, and efficiency; that the whole of them, side by side, should give a mutual conviction of power, that they should see and feel that ‘there they were,’ firelocks and bayonets, telling their own truth as to the care of the Government, the interest of England in them, and the present result of 20,000 men swinging along in high health and preparation. To none was the parade more at the right time and in the right place than to the men themselves.
Description of the Infantry parade.
Though it was to be a question of form and parade on my part, I was not going to lose the part of the greatest interest — the picturesque and fine movements of long thin lines, distant bands, open and quarter distance columns, the massive look and regular approach to their ground from the different camps. And it was very fine. There was no fuss — I had been with General Windham and some of the Staff the day before to point out the ground on the brow, to which the slightly-rounded and long valleys and hills lead from the camps. The Divisions took up their ground following the line of the brow, forming one obtuse angle about the centre, where there is a little rocky knoll; from right to left they were 1st Highland (one brigade), 2nd, 3rd, 4th Light, and in quarter distance contiguous columns of regiments. Marshal Pélissier came in his carriage, but did not come down the line; I had his carriage placed near the rocky knoll, where he got out. General Durando came with me. When the Divisions were all placed by the Staff, according to those previous arrangements which, on the ground, I left entirely to them, I went to the right, and banishing the usual forms of having this Staff officer here, and another there, I rode to the General in front of his Division and requested that the General officers would come with me, that Commander officers should place themselves between the intervals, and that we should see the whole front of the Division clear of every one. We then rode closely down the front. This happened with each Division in succession. One brigade only of the Highland Division was present — it had rained at the Varnoubtka Pass, the 2nd brigade was counter-ordered by Sir C. Campbell, but there being time to bring the 1st brigade, he ordered it. The brigade under General Warren at Balaclava was also absent. We forgot about its being Sunday, and that there was no work going on at Balaclava.
Inspection by Codrington and Pélissier.
After passing down the line of columns, the troops marched past in columns at half distance: it was beautiful to see the mass and succession of red coats and bayonets descending the inclined crest of the approach towards the centre point. All the space was cleared in front of Marshal Pélissier; the whole marched past with great steadiness, with good life and step, and showed them all in efficiency — and you may conclude it was a fine and gratifying sight to every Englishman there. It took exactly an hour.
They were formed, after marching past, on one of the long brows facing towards the camp, in a mass of columns each Division, but Divisions contiguous; and having again cleared a good space for the centre, at which Marshal Pélissier and General Durando were, they marched by in quarter-distance columns by Battalions: all again very good. And so they separated from this centre back to the various camps.
Far-reaching effect of the parade.
I think you will be glad to feel in England that, almost in the winter, your army can show itself in strength and efficiency; and, with many foreigners, and many accounts that are published, this trifling parade is, however, somewhat of a parade for other nations besides our own. I showed our Enfield rifle to Pélissier and Durando as the arm of the whole infantry except one brigade.
You may imagine a pretty large motley crowd of officers, of all the Sunday population of Balaclava and camp: the Russians will fancy we have a large body of cavalry, somewhat irregular in its movements.
Both Colonel Wetherall and myself imagined that Colonel M’Murdo, as Director-General in England, was directing the Land Transport; but we shall want extension, pray remember, for the Turkish contingent, the foreign troops, Sultan’s Cossacks, etc., and I have authorised Wetherall to increase his purchase of animals, and I have authorised General Vivian to buy or hire at Baltchick whatever he can for his purposes:
Defective supervision of Government contracts.
the supervision of contracts in England by Government seems defective; tools, waggon axles — how is it some one is not only called responsible, but made responsible for their examination, their goodness? It is better perhaps not to have a contract if it can’t be examined — let a tradesman be well paid and have an order direct — let his name be known, responsibly — or let the examination be strict, and by some one who knows the sort of thing.
Writer places himself unreservedly at disposal of Government.
Remember, notwithstanding what I have said in my letter to you last mail, that you will find me ready to put myself in the position which the Government settles for this army or any part of it. You may have more information, more motives, more necessities than I am aware of; and whether I might have differed in opinion or not, you may depend upon my acting with an ALLIED feeling.
A measure to prevent publication of details.
You will see I have given a general order about the publication in newspapers of details. It is not, as you will see, written angrily or disagreeably; but as it is sure to be published in the newspapers in England, I think it will do good there, whilst I consider something of the sort a positive necessity here. Hornets, wasps, and gnats will come about my ears doubtless: I must make up my mind to this, but I mean to carry out what I think necessary, I say again, NECESSARY, in stopping the publication of such details. Look at that about the ditch, etc., at Kertch; though I say ‘old and incorrect,’ I have little doubt it is a correct and, therefore, most vitally important piece of gratuitous information to an enemy.
The French army is suffering from sickness — scurvy a good deal.
February 25, 1856.
Peace progresses apace, and from all we hear from Paris Russia will make no difficulties in acceding to our demands in everything. The only thing that boggles it is the large slice of Bessarabia demanded by Austria, which has given her more annoyance than all the other proposals put to-together [sic].
Effect of peace prospects on Commissariat contracts.
Under these circumstances, although I cannot feel myself justified in giving you official instructions to discontinue any expenditure which, if the war were to go on, you would necessarily incur, nor shall desist from my own preparations in forwarding your reinforcements, still you may quietly so arrange with the Commissary-General that, in the event of peace, we may not find ourselves burdened with large or extensive contracts. The course you have so prudently pursued in regard to the Land Transport horses is an example of what I mean. It is possible that what now seems so fair at Paris may overcloud, and then we shall be in no worse position to open the campaign.
The report of M’Neill and Tulloch is giving us no end of trouble, and every attempt is being made to ruin Airey and Gordon; but I will uphold them as far as I can, for, though many things might have been better, I conscientiously believe they did their utmost to perform the arduous duties with which they were charged.
Sir E. Lyons will invest all those in the Crimea who have not yet got the order, both in our own service and in the French. Lord Stratford de Redcliffe will very likely apply to you for an officer to command at Erzeroum, should Omar not go there in person. You must give him the one who will maintain the credit of our name and arms, and you can do this without further reference home. He must be an administrator as well as capable of commanding men.
Opening of the conference.
The conferences open to-day, and by Friday I shall be able to tell you whether an armistice or a suspension of arms, or what, is agreed to. I send you confidentially the instructions sent to Pélissier, but you had better not let him know that you have them unless he is so informed by his own Government and informs you. I sent to Lord Clarendon my despatch to you of the 11th inst., in which I communicated to you the plan of operations. Probably the French Government to whom it was transmitted may have sent this to Pélissier. You will of course make all your own arrangements for carrying out your own part of the expedition, but it will be consequent on his completing his portion first.
You are, I imagine, getting up your reserves from Malta, and all arrangements should be ready for bringing the Cavalry from the Bosphorus as soon as you can put them up in the field. I mentioned to you formerly that the portion destined for the Eupatoria expedition should go direct to their destination when wanted. The Queen has seen your trophies and has already found place for the two great bells, which took her fancy amazingly. The guns are poor things, but they are valuable as spoils of war.
February 26, 1856.
The Conference not to relax warlike preparations.
I was in hopes to have had it in my power to give you some information on the state of things in Paris, but the Conference only sat yesterday, and we are not yet in possession of the results of its deliberations. You may rely on this, that, however probable peace may be, there are depths in these conferences in which the best formed expectations may founder in a moment. Our duty is, therefore, to keep everything in full vigour and activity, and you must reinforce your ranks from Malta, organise your troops for Eupatoria, and make arrangements for getting your cavalry once more to the front. I send you official despatches announcing the armistice, and intimating the early despatch of artillery. Unless I hear much more definitely from Paris, I shall despatch 5000 infantry reinforcements to Malta instantly, and in the course of March I hope to embark all the horses you require, and likewise some further regiments of Germans; there are from 2 to 3000 Italian legionaries will be ready for you very shortly, under British officers, and I hear a very good account of them. I have endeavoured to put the question of the Press on a proper basis in a despatch to you. We must leave it to the Commander of the Forces to deal with these gents, trusting to his discretion when to pull the strings tight or relax them. My own opinion is that it is quite possible to manage them, but impossible to ignore them. The public will go with you if the case is properly handled, and whether they do or not, the Government will stand by you.
February 26, 1856.
Disapproval of decision to have Court of Inquiry open.
The Queen has just received Lord Panmure’s note, and is certainly disappointed and annoyed at the decision of the Cabinet to have the Court of Inquiry open, as she apprehends that much mischief will result from it. She trusts Lord Hardinge and the Judge Advocate will be consulted upon the subject.
February 26, 1856.
Lord Panmure presents his humble duty to Your Majesty, and is sorry to learn Your Majesty’s annoyance at the course which the Cabinet have felt themselves constrained to take, in consequence of the certain conviction of not being able to withstand the pressure which, to their knowledge, is threatened on all sides should the precedent of 1809 12 not be followed. Lord Panmure has purposely avoided involving Lord Hardinge in the responsibility of this course.
As to the Court of Inquiry being an open one.
If the Court had been made close, and public opinion and a vote of Parliament, or even a menace of such a vote, had forced its doors, Your Majesty will perceive that great damage would have followed to its prestige and dignity, which may be maintained notwithstanding it has been thrown open to the public.
The members of the Council of War, who have been deputed to repair to Paris on the part of Her Majesty’s Government, having returned to England, were requested to attend at the War Department this morning, where they were met by Lord Palmerston and other members of the Government.
His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge stated briefly the proceedings of the Council at Paris, and the general impression made on his own mind, and on those of his colleagues, of the feelings of the Emperor and the French Generals in regard to the operations of the forthcoming campaign.
Lord Panmure laid before the meeting the various reports made by His Royal Highness of the proceedings at Paris, which contained the opinions of the Admirals and Generals, both English and French, on the character and direction of future operations, and concluded with a reasoned opinion of His Majesty the Emperor himself, founded upon a review of those above-mentioned.
After some general observations on the contents of these communications and documents, the meeting proceeded to discuss the project set forth in the memorandum of His Imperial Majesty, in the great principles of which they generally concurred.
They at once responded to His Imperial Majesty’s opinion, that to abandon the Crimea in the face of the enemy, was an operation perilous at all events to a portion of the Allied Army, and equivalent to the moral disgrace of a defeat.
The only way to leave the Crimea with honour is to drive the enemy from it first; then it may be abandoned with calmness and dignity, as circumstances may dictate, and if it be thought to be on political grounds expedient to do so.
The meeting concurred in the expediency of forming two distinct armies, under the command of two Generals-in-Chief, independent of each other, and acting from different bases.
They agreed in the formation of an army of 140,000 men of one nation, with Eupatoria for its base, and of another of 116,000 men, with its present base.
The former of these armies may consist of 80,000 French, 20,000 Sardinians, 40,000 English = 140,000.
Of these 20,000 would form a reserve, and the remainder move as suggested by the Emperor.
The meeting concurred in the expediency of moving the French force of 80,000 to Eupatoria by degrees, and as soon as they have established themselves, the Sardinians and English should be suddenly thrown on the respective points assigned to them.
While, on the one hand, precipitation is unnecessary, and would be a great mistake, the meeting was earnest in the expression of opinion that to defer the movement till the 15th of May would be a serious waste of time. One great object of the movement is that it should be sudden, and so strike greater terror into the enemy.
No armistice can be declared for three weeks. Why should not gradual movements of a portion of the French army be made before that? The remainder could be transported immediately on its conclusion, which should in no case be later than the 31st of March. The meeting saw no reason why all arrangements might not be made so as to commence this movement against the enemy by the middle of April at the latest, being convinced that the 15th of May is, as before stated, much too late.
They have several grounds upon which they rest this opinion. In the first place, by waiting till the 15th of May, the Allies give much unnecessary time to the enemy to make preparations for resistance, and even to move troops from a distance to reinforce their ranks. Vegetation will then have commenced, and they will thereby be relieved to a considerable extent from the heavy burden of carrying supplies of forage for their cavalry and artillery horses, and thus they will be able to bring into the field a much larger force of these their two favourite arms. Again, the progress of vegetation, which will so largely benefit the enemy, will not give corresponding advantages to the Allies, who can convey hay and barley by sea to the point nearest the army, and thence by land transport along its line. Then it is of immense importance that the blow which is looked for from this strategic movement should be immediate in its effect, whether it lead to a trial of strength in the field or to the forced retreat of the Russian army.
The sooner a battle is fought, if such is to be the issue of the movement, the better for the Allies, whose army is in good heart, having been well wintered, while that of the enemy has been lying out, and, with all their skill in encountering difficulties, cannot but have suffered much hardship.
If, however, a retreat is the consequence, the sooner this is forced the better, before the rigours of winter are absorbed in the approach of spring, and while supplies are more difficult of carriage to an army retreating in despair than they will be to one advancing with hope.
But, whether a battle precede a retreat or not, every day gained in driving the enemy from the Crimea will be of importance. It will leave the Allies at liberty to discuss and to execute at leisure any plan for a partial or a total abandonment of the Crimea, should such be deemed desirable. It will leave them at liberty to direct their forces against other portions of the enemy’s territory; and it will, above all, afford time before the heat of summer shall have rendered that country unhealthy to European troops for an English force to be thrown into Georgia, to act as a support to Omar Pasha, who might advance from Erzeroum to recover the fortress of Kars, and that portion of his Imperial Master’s territories now in the hands of the enemy.
The meeting felt even more strongly the necessity of early and decisive action on this great flank movement than I have been able to express, and desired me to impress their convictions upon your Lordship, in order that they may be conveyed to His Imperial Majesty, and meet with his cordial support.
Should this view be entertained by our Allies, it appeared to the meeting unnecessary to suggest, as they would otherwise have done, the consideration of a movement into Georgia, contemporaneously with the advance from Eupatoria, as the calculation of the number of available troops would leave a sufficient force disposable for this object.
By an early movement, however, as above urged, the whole object of the Crimean campaign would be secured, if not finally effected, by the middle of May, the period at first fixed for the commencement of the work.
Having stated their views with regard to the army of Eupatoria, the meeting turned their attention to that of Sebastopol, which, according to His Imperial Majesty’s calculation, would consist of 116,000 men.
The duty of this army will be of a double character. At first it will maintain a defensive position, so as to cover the lines and place d’armes of both armies, and this position will probably be from the head of the harbour round by the Tchernaya to Kamara, and thrown back so as to cover Balaclava.
For this 70,000 men would be sufficient, leaving 46,000 for a reserve, or disposable for reconnaissance by Baidar, and as a threatening or even attacking force on the enemy’s left.
This army will, however, have to be especially vigilant of the movements of the enemy; for, should he weaken his force on the Mackenzie Heights, in order to meet the movements from Eupatoria, or show symptoms of retreat, the army of Sebastopol will then have to assume the offensive, and may very materially aid in converting the retirement of the enemy into a confused retreat.
Of the early success of the plan the meeting entertained no doubt, and desired me to convey their views to Your Lordship in this shape, for the purpose of being conveyed formally to the notice of His Majesty the Emperor and the French Government.
Should Her Majesty’s Government receive the concurrence of the French Government in these views, they will be prepared to send out orders by the 4th of February, to hasten all military arrangements to ensure their success; and Sir Edmund Lyons will be instructed to have every means made available for the speedy transport of the army.
In the House of Lords, on Thursday, February 21, 1856, the Earl of Derby moved:
‘That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for a copy of any Document in which the respective duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of State for the War Department and the Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty’s Forces are limited and defined.’
In the course of his reply, Lord Panmure said:—
‘My Lords, I now come to [a question] of far greater magnitude and far greater importance, namely, what are the relative positions of the Secretary of State for War, and the Commander-in-Chief.’
After reviewing the past relations between the Secretary of State and the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Panmure then passed on to a consideration of the relations which have been established between them since the creation of a Secretary of State for War, saying, —
‘When that office had first been constituted there was no intention, I believe, of carrying the duties attached to it further than to provide for the transference to the Secretary for War of all the powers relating to the Army previously vested in the other Secretaries of State. It was considered that the exercise of these powers would afford ample employment to the new War Minister. But in stating what the duties of the Secretary of State for War and the Colonies formerly were, I have omitted one of the highest importance which was likewise transferred to the new Minister. On all occasions of foreign war it was the duty of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to conduct the correspondence with the generals commanding the troops abroad, who all took their orders directly from him. So completely indeed was the Commander of the forces abroad, under the direction of the Secretary of State, that he did not correspond with the Commander-in-Chief at all. It is quite true, as stated by the noble Earl, that it was found from the very commencement of the war that difficulties and confusion arose in consequence of the collisions which took place between different departments, all conducting different branches of the military administration. At that time the Commissariat was under the direction of the Treasury; the Ordnance was a distinct department in itself; and the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary at War were two distinct and separate offices. Soon after my appointment as Secretary for War, having been previously six years Secretary at War, I saw no difficulty whatever in combining that office with the office of Secretary of State; and before long I found from experience that it was absolutely necessary to place the Ordnance Department, so far as the civil duties were concerned — the branches of stores, supplies, contracts and manufactures — under the entire and sole control of the Minister for War; and so strong were my convictions upon these points that, even in the midst of war, at a time when great changes could not be made without considerable inconvenience, I deemed it indispensable that those additional branches of military service should be brought within my immediate jurisdiction. Now, therefore, all the civil departments of the Army — all that relates to the Ordnance Department — all that relates to the clothing of the Army — all that relates to the Storekeeper’s Department — all that relates to the department which superintends the contracts for the supply of the Army, and all that relates to the manufacture of those supplies are under the control of the Secretary of State for War. And I may add that, since that control has been committed to my hands, I have been enabled, with the assistance of the gentlemen connected with each separate branch, to secure for the British Army abroad full and abundant supplies, not only of all the matériel of war, but also such supplies of the necessaries and even comforts of life as must render the condition of that army during the summer, and the condition in which it now is, matter of deep gratification to your Lordships and the country at large. After all the civil departments of the Army had been brought under one and the same control, I took care that all the military departments should be placed in their proper relative positions; and the result of the important changes that have been accomplished in that latter direction is that now, for the first time, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army is commander in fact as well as in name of every arm in the service — of the Artillery and the Engineers, not less than of the Cavalry and the troops of the Line. In carrying out these extensive reforms, it was impossible to lay down on paper any rules which should establish a distinct line of demarcation applicable to every case between the civil and military departments of the service. It is true that an attempt was made to lay down some such line of demarcation in a paper drawn up in the year 1812. A very long controversy had at that time arisen between the then Secretary at War and the Commander-in-Chief. . . . So warm became the controversy between the two functionaries, with regard to their respective jurisdictions, that the difficulty was solved by an Order in Council in the year 1812, which laid down to a certain extent a very broad line of demarcation between the War Office and the Horse Guards; and that line of demarcation has been observed ever since. But the line is not rigidly defined, and it was quite impossible that the Order in Council should draw a distinction in all respects, because questions arose every day in which points of discipline and points of administration are so nicely mixed up that it would be utterly out of the power of any man, however skilful, to determine precisely where one jurisdiction should commence and where the other should end. Many of these questions are settled by means of private communications between the Commander-in-Chief and myself. . . . Those questions are settled amicably between the two departments; and I cannot conceive that any such rupture can arise between the Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary for War as could lead to the necessity of having recourse to that appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury provided in the document of 1812 — an appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or to one of the Secretaries of State. But it is impossible that some difficulty should not occasionally arise in drawing the line of demarcation between the two offices. For instance, that difficulty presented itself in the very case of an Inspector General of Fortifications, to which the noble Earl has referred, for an Inspector of Fortifications has civil as well as military duties to perform — civil duties in the erection of barracks, and military duties in the erection of places of mere defence. How is it possible to distinguish accurately between them? Under these circumstances it appears to me that to attempt to lay down by any definition a strict line of demarcation between civil and military duties in the management of the Army would only be to attempt to frame a rule which must be revised from day to day.
Then, my Lords, with regard to the patronage of all those civil departments which have been placed under my charge as Secretary of State for War, it is extremely large, and if administered by me would lead to embarrassment. I hold myself responsible for all the appointments to those departments, but I leave many of the details to those gentlemen who have been placed at the head of them. I have the utmost confidence in their discretion. I am satisfied that no man should be introduced into any of the offices of those departments who is not so far fitted for them as to be able to pass the examination required by the Civil Service Commissioners; and I take care that, after he has so passed, he shall rely for promotion on his merits, and on his merits alone. Such is the state of things with regard to the civil departments of Secretary for War.
With regard to the present state of the Horse Guards, all that I have to say may be summed up in these few words — that the Commander-in-Chief still continues to administer the discipline of the Army uninterfered with and uncontrolled by the Secretary for War, further than that, in all the superior appointments, either regimental or on the staff, the Commander-in-Chief consults the Secretary for War before he takes the pleasure of the Crown with respect to them; and so far the Minister for War renders himself responsible for the acts of the Commander-in-Chief. The Secretary for War does not interfere in the first appointments to the Army; but at the same time I do not deny that I ought, perhaps, to be considered legally responsible for these appointments; because there is no act of the Commander-in-Chief, however small or however great, that does not constitutionally come within the revision of my department. That is the present state of these two departments.
My Lords, there is no document such as the noble Lord has moved for to be laid on the table of the House; and I have already said enough to show that I conceive it would be impossible for me to frame any document which should precisely define the respective duties of the Commander-in-Chief and of the Secretary for War. But I must say that, in all material points, the line of demarcation between the two departments is so great that no necessity can exist for attempting to draw up any such document.
There remains behind the important question raised by the noble Earl as to what are the intentions of Her Majesty’s Government with respect to the continuance of the present relative powers of the Secretary for War and the Commander-in-Chief. It would be quite useless for us now to attempt to shrink from a consideration of that question. We all know perfectly well that it largely occupies the public mind, and that it is much discussed in the public prints, and that opinions have been formed regarding it in both Houses of Parliament; I believe, therefore, that it is now high time for the Army and the country to be made acquainted with the views of Her Majesty’s Government upon the subject.
Hitherto the Crown has administered the patronage of the Army through the Commander-in-Chief; and through him the Crown has conducted the discipline of the Army. But the Crown would not be able either to administer the patronage of the Army or to conduct its discipline, unless Parliament in the first instance granted the money required for the maintenance of the Troops and passed the Mutiny Act, by which they are made amenable to military law. And while Parliament continues to possess the power of voting the supplies for the Army, and of passing the Mutiny Act, it is useless to say that its constitutional power over the Army is not ample and complete. But you would find that you would have to deal with a different state of circumstances if you were to determine that noble Lords and honourable Gentlemen, as well as Officers in the Army, should have to look to the Ministry of the day for the introduction of their sons to the service, and for their subsequent promotion. . . . I say that such an arrangement would be as fatal to the efficiency of the Army as it would ultimately be unsatisfactory to the people generally of this country. An idea has got abroad that the management of the patronage and discipline of the Army is in the hands of an officer not himself directly appointed by Parliament, and, therefore, that in his case no responsibility at all to Parliament exists. There never was a more erroneous impression. An idea has also got abroad that, because the patronage of the Army is in the hands of an officer in the position of the Commander-in-Chief, it is exercised unfairly, and even that it is exercised in obedience to some secret influence on the part of the Crown itself; but a greater mistake than this again was never made. It may be that, in dealing with this question, I am taking what is at present the unpopular side; but I am quite sure that, if I were to advocate a system which should place the patronage of the Army in the hands of the Minister of the Crown, we should have Parliament interfering from day to day in the administration of the discipline of the Troops. I believe we should then establish a practice which could not tend to promote the interests of the Nation, or to uphold the dignity of the Crown. Therefore, looking at all the circumstances of the case, and convinced as I am from experience that the present system is the one best calculated to give satisfaction in the end, it is my intention to support the authority of the Commander-in-Chief, and to maintain, as far as I can, the connection which the Crown at present holds through the Commander-in-Chief with the Army. I can see no constitutional objection to that course.’
— Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, Third Series, vol. cxl. pp. 1033, et seq.
In the above item I have shown a single quotation mark at the beginning and end of the quoted passage. I have not repeated the opening quotation mark at the start of each paragraph as the original printed text does. The original also contains a printer’s error, inasmuch that it ends the quoted passage after the word “course” with an exclamation mark (!) instead of with a full stop and a closing quotation mark (.’). I have corrected this. — DK