THE evacuation of the Crimea by the British proceeded slowly.
By May 7th the last of the regiments destined for Canada had been embarked, the arrangements for embarking them being found to work well and expeditiously. The Sardinians and the Turkish Contingent were also being repatriated. Yet, as late as May 31st, Codrington reports no less than 41,094 of all ranks of the troops under his command as still awaiting shipping.
‘You have missed a good opportunity of showing Europe your power,’ he writes, ‘I mean as to the removal of the Army in a body.’ And long ere this he had been urgent in representing the danger involved in detaining that army on an infected area whilst the hot season was fast approaching.
A prejudice, however, existed at the Admiralty against the use of warships for transport, and it was not until the eve of an outbreak of Asiatic cholera in camp that this prejudice was over-ruled, and that Sir Houston Stewart was instructed to use the ships of the fleet under his command for bringing the troops home, whilst several additional line-of-battle ships were sent out for the same purpose.
Ere this the Queen herself had intervened in the interest of her soldiers — a further instance of her gracious consideration for whom will be found in her letter of May 5th.
Circumstances had denied to Codrington an opportunity of justifying the choice which had placed him in command of the British army in the field; but his letters of this period display a magnanimity and self-abnegation which won the warm commendation of Panmure. For example: ‘Never mind about me,’ he writes, ‘and my turn coming. . . . I do not care much for the show — the reality has been here, and I am thankful and proud to have had to do with this latter part of it, though the work has not been as real as I hoped to see it, viz., in the field. I have had my turn here; it has given me much work, now and then some anxiety, a certain quantity of experience, and much pleasure in finding things go on well, and, still more, a fair feeling of pride in seeing myself associated in a high position with such an army. Therefore, in any arrangements for any fair possible compliment to others who have sacrificed position and feelings for me, I hope both you and Lord Hardinge will believe I shall be much more gratified by their being put in the most ostensible position than that I myself should be consulted or cared for.’
In the meantime the Balaclava railway had been sold to the Turkish Government, to whom it had also been decided to sell certain artillery horses — these being the only horses of good quality which were to be parted with.
Among other subjects alluded to in the month’s letters are, the division of war trophies, with special reference to the Turks and Sardinians; the consideration to be shown to officers who had commanded brigades or battalions during the war; the laying of the foundation-stone of Netley Hospital by the Queen; the fireworks in London in honour of the Peace, the case of the Tartar servant of a British officer who had been forcibly detained by the Russians, and the migration of Tartars from the Baidar district of the Crimea.
Before the end of the month the French war medal had been presented to those soldiers of the British Army who had been selected to receive it.
May 2, 1856.
I have just received your letter by the mail. We will drop our amicable discussion on the subject of publishing despatches, 1 as, having once ascertained your feeling, I took care that you should have no further cause of complaint.
Objection to selling horses to the Russians.
The Queen and the Government have a horror of our passing any of our animals into Russian hands. I confess I do not see the force of the arguments used against it, viz., that the said Russians would parade them through Russia as trophies of war. However, we must bow to this opinion, and I have telegraphed to you to sell as few as possible in the Crimea. The huts and Railway I can see no possible objection to letting them have.
I congratulate you on your exhibition of your troops.
I send you the Treaty and complimentary despatches.
May 3, 1856.
Evacuation of the Crimea.
The Russians are not very active in their answers. I suppose they wait for everything from St. Petersburgh. I have no answer about their taking huts, or bat animals. . . . I shall send a reminder in a day or two. I have telegraphed about your succession of bringing home Divisions — there will remain after the Canada and Mediterranean departures, 30 Battalions, which I understand are for England. . . .
Self-abnegation of the writer.
There are many senior officers to whom it would probably be considered a compliment to be put at the head of considerable portions of this army as they arrive, or are put together, in England. Never mind about me, and my turn coming. I consider my duty to be here. I do not care much for the show — the reality has been here, and I am thankful and proud to have had to do with this latter part of it, though the work has not been as real as I hoped to see it, viz., in the field. I have had my turn here; it has given me much work, now and then some anxiety, a certain quantity of experience, and much pleasure in finding things go on well; and, still more, a fair feeling of pride in seeing myself associated in a high position with such an army. Therefore, in any arrangements for any fair possible compliment to others, who have sacrificed position and feelings for me, I hope both you and Lord Hardinge will believe I shall be much more gratified by their being put in the most ostensible position than that I myself should be consulted or cared for. There is a very good reason for it too, for there will be plenty to arrange here to the last — even at Smyrna, perhaps, and at Scutari — and I shall not be the least indisposed to go quietly to my home when I get away.
As to Evacuation of Kertch.
Lord Stratford has sent up despatches intimating the desire of our Government for the evacuation of Kertch. . . . Although 2500 men of the contingent will go to Varna soon, yet I have desired General Michel not to evacuate Kertch districts entirely, without communication with me; and to take care that all those compromised by relations with us be facilitated in their departure; and that no hindrance is to be put in the way of others wishing to leave the district, though no encouragement is to be given by us to their removal.
Flitting of Tartars from the Baidar district.
The arrival of the Tartars from the Baidar district here was quite unexpected by us: it was necessary to get them away at once, and most of them are gone. It was apparently a complete ‘flitting,’ bag and baggage: the curious homely Arabas, in a line all along the street; heaps of beds, tables, cooking things, men, women, and children, covering the available space of our wharf, and gradually melting away on board: never were people more quiet and resigned-looking, many of them well to do: they packed all their women and children together in some native small vessels to be towed across. I shall not encourage them, or further assist them in their migration, than permitting them to come in and remain till they choose to embark in any vessels but those employed by our Government. You may, in case of Russian objection and complaint, consider the assistance given them yesterday by me as exceptional — it was necessary to get them away.
I suspect the Tartars have some good ground or fair suspicion of Russian intention to deport them into the interior of Russia; they must have so, to induce them to quit Baidar — a beautiful and rich valley. It is said that the Russians never have restored to them the original titles to their land, of which they obtained possession on some excuse of registration: I refer to long time ago. I have let the Bruiser, Commissariat vessel, take away some Russian black bread and meal, from the Sebastopol store in Dock Yard, to deliver to the Tartars at Baltchick. . . .
May 5, 1856.
The Queen has received Lord Panmure’s letter of this day’s date with the Victoria Cross. She would wish this Model of Sebastopol to be brought here on Wednesday morning at 10. . . .
Consideration for two Cavalry Regiments.
The Queen has been told that the two Cavalry Regiments now on their way to Ireland from the Crimea would be much hurt if they were not seen by the Queen, as all her other brave soldiers who return from the Crimea will be; the Queen does not know whether it would be possible, or at least easy, to enable them to land in England, so that the Queen might just see them. Will Lord Panmure perhaps just mention this to Lord Hardinge, and consider it with him?
PY., May 5, 1856.
The question of India not involved in the causes of the war.
. . . As to India, we began the war in conjunction with France to defend Turkey, and not to defend India. How could we have expected the French to go to war with Russia for the purpose of securing our Indian Territories from danger? If India is attacked or put in danger, we are quite able to defend it without help from any body else; but we should have been practising a fraud upon France if, after engaging with her in war for the defence of Turkey, we had left her to take charge of Turkey, and had gone ourselves upon a roving expedition for the future protection of India.
As to Circassia, what you say is unanswerable; moreover, it would have been unfair in us to have excited the Circassians to partial revolts as a diversion in our favour, and then to have left them to the resentment of the Russians, and this we must have done until the course of the war had enabled us, after driving the Russians out of Crimea, to make Georgia and Circassia the real seat of important operations.
A similar reasoning applies to the Forts on the east coast of the Black Sea. We had not military possession of that country, and could not therefore impose conditions about it. Moreover, those Forts are merely defensive Posts for small garrisons, and so [do] not, like the naval arsenal of Sebastopol, constitute a threatening danger to Turkey. Therefore, while on the one hand we had no right to insist on their demolition, on the other hand their demolition was in no degree necessary for accomplishing the objects of the war.
As to India, what would Ellenborough have said to a Protocol by France that we should go to war in order to protect French Algeria? Would the people of England pay for such a war, and would they not say, let France defend herself and her own possessions? So would the French naturally say, let England bear the charge of fighting for British India.
WAR DEPARTMENT, May 5, 1856.
Topics connected with evacuation.
We have some discussion on the Peace to-day, and as I am more than likely to be swept into its vortex, I write a few lines early and in a hurry before I go to the House. I find that we must pause as to parting with our Railway, as there is a Company forming to make a line to Jerusalem, and they may very likely not only take our plant, but some of the men who work on it may be induced to join the Company.
Ali Pasha is to be here to-morrow, and will in all probability decide the question of permission so far as to enable the Directors to make me a definite offer for the whole.
I have published your official despatch of your visit from Luders, and I am as proud of the Army you showed him as you can be yourself. I only trust we may get the greater part away before any epidemic gets in amongst them.
You will not relax your sanitary vigilance I trust, and the possession of the harbour of Sebastopol will greatly facilitate your operations in embarking.
I am glad to see the Turkish Contingent already beginning to disappear. It will give me infinite trouble to wind up all these various details, but the release from responsibility as to the prosecution of the War is an unspeakable relief. . . .
We have fixed no time for a vote of thanks to the Services, but I dare say it will be next week.
I see that you have got off some Regiments already for America. The storm is blown over there, if indeed it can be said ever to have threatened at all.
The Kars affair is nearly forgotten, all except the majority of 127, which was a great discomfiture to the Opposition.
May 6, 1856.
Your mail of the 21st April is just in. I think you will see we are doing all we can, and indeed have for some time been doing everything in accordance with your views in England.
Delay in embarkation and risk attending it.
The French all ask where are your ships? How is it you are not going? What prevents your embarkation? I suppose I must point to magnificent naval reviews at Spithead as an answer. You will see in Dr. Hall’s report to-day that we are all healthy; but as you have seen the wise remark in Lord Dalhousie’s answer to the Calcutta Address, that no one in that country can reckon with certainty on peace whilst surrounded with so many elements of war, so you may consider Dr. Hall’s remarks about disease in this climate, and with an army in the field, approaching the hot season, and on ground containing nearly as many bodies beneath as above it. The remaining regiments for Canada embark to-day and to-morrow, and will sail at once. I have not been able to send more than one million cartridges in all the vessels put together. Are you aware that a million cartridges weigh about 45 tons? There is not magazine room in the vessel for more, and I shall not think it necessary to take up a sailing vessel purposely for the conveyance of the remainder.
Partition of war trophies, etc.
The Sardinian and Turkish shares of the spoil.
The partition of the guns, trophies, etc., had been made, and the greater part carried out as between the French and English here, before the arrival of instructions as to the Sardinians and Turks to have a share. This depended, if I remember right, upon Treaty. . . . However, the brass guns, bells, etc., were all gone to England, if I remember right, before Sardinia joined that Treaty, though she subsequently became entitled to the back share from our stock. But that back share must now go from England, and so must the back share (our part of it) for Turkey. . . .
General La Marmora himself does not personally feel as the Ambassador does, for I think he is rather ashamed of the demands of his Government on this head. . . .
I think you will agree that our arrangements for embarking infantry — which were contemplated for war as well as peace — would have been tolerable; for the regiment to-day (about 600 strong) was on board, the ship ready to move away, and the men stowing their things in 19½ minutes. I am so sorry that the mail day prevented my seeing the practical carrying out of these earlier theories.
Consideration to officers having commanded Brigades and Battalions.
The 6d. a-day 2 has long been stopped, as you see. There ought to be some consideration shown for the General Officers who have commanded Divisions and Brigades. As a rule, for instance, General Garret would join his regiment, General Cameron would join his regiment, and I see Brigadiers are to do so; and really, without reward, or a good word, old officers who have served in high commands are almost ‘reduced to the rank and pay of a private’ Commanding Officer of a Battalion.
General Barnard I hear accepts Corfu: both he and Lord Rokeby will be delighted to hear of the K.C.B. for them. I hope for consideration of a similar kind to many, be they of the Guards or of the line, who have commanded Brigades and Battalions, whilst they have done the duty in the Trenches of Sebastopol, and had the responsibility there of General Officers.
You will of course have heard that our ships (or rather ship) are in Sebastopol harbour. I am making arrangements in readiness for walking Cavalry and Artillery horses on board at the Dockyard quay, if we find it advisable; but the Mediterranean reliefs will absorb, with their further voyage to England, a large quantity of transport: it cannot be less than six weeks from their time of leaving this that we shall have the pleasure of seeing them 3 again; and that six weeks is easily extended by accidents or repairs to two months — that is to the beginning of July.
I have given orders for selling the horses of the 10th and 12th.
You will also have seen by my letters that I had not intended to set up the Russian artillery in horses.
PY., May 8, 1856.
Thanks to the Militia.
I think the thanks to the Militia should be for their ‘zealous’ and meritorious services, instead of ‘prompt and meritorious,’ and that it should run ‘for the zealous and meritorious services which at home and abroad they have rendered to their Queen and Country.’
That is to say that ‘at home and abroad’ should follow ‘which’ and not ‘Queen and Country.’ 4
May 10, 1856.
In returning this paper relative to the removal of a Tower in Pevensey Bay, the Queen wishes to observe that, while she sanctions it, she would not wish the land itself to be parted with. The Queen hopes that Sir William Codrington has received very positive instructions not to part with any good Artillery and Cavalry horses, as she thought he was in great doubt about it in his last letter. However, in the one Lord Panmure sent the Queen last night, dated 26th, he says:-‘The Drafting down of the Artillery and Cavalry horses began some time ago. . . . I thought it would never do to set up the Russian Artillery by the disposal of our horses here, but, if we can give them, or any one else, the pick of them from the wrong end, that will do no harm.’
The Queen supposes by this that he will not get rid of the good ones.
May 10, 1856.
Lord Panmure has written to the Queen that whatever horses are fit to be brought home shall come.
May 10, 1856.
Change in order of embarkation of troops.
The telegraph of 4th May to Admiral Fremantle seemed to be so decided as to the removal of the Sardinians, coupled with some expressions in your letter to me received on the 8th May, that I have suspended the embarkation of the Mediterranean reliefs, except one Regiment, the 3rd Buffs, which was under orders for a particular vessel, and sails to-day. . . .
A plea for haste.
I repeat, however, my anxiety to see the main body of the Army away from this as soon as possible — stores can wait; they don’t get fever or cholera: animals can wait in preference to men, though they are a cost for forage and maintenance. But your men, in good health now, may be decimated by the first breeze of unaccountable malaria, or fever. Think what hurry of orders, what despatching of ships, even of the Navy, there would be if you got a telegraph of cholera or typhus in this camp, amongst 30,000 fine Infantry.
Do not think of saying anything about my going overland before the army is well away from this: there are many officers to whom it would be a compliment to show half the army together to the Queen. I beg you will not consider me for this, much as I should like to see the Light Division march past the Queen anywhere; but I repeat my duty is here, the Queen will allow me to stick to it — even though it were to gratify the little feeling of pride I might have in continuing the real duty, which it must be confessed is here, though not quite of an agreeable sort. But you have Sir C. Campbell, General Barnard, Lord Rokeby, each of whom might probably feel gratification in showing part of the army; and, by the bye, you must remember what just strikes me — that beyond the Dardanelles they all become my seniors at once. I shall do very well to bring up a rear-guard-place of honour in retreat; and you may be pretty sure that no time will be lost in getting it home if it depends upon my wish of quitting the East. . . .
Embarkation of Infantry and Artillery.
As soon as the Sardinians are completed and that we get back the steamers, the Mediterranean reliefs will go on; at the same time that these begin (being infantry only) the artillery will begin from hence, and probably from the Dock Yard quay of Sebastopol, by means of the horse transports from Spezia. The only horses of the Artillery sold here will be cripples and useless for our purposes: some that would be turned loose, as not worth their forage, will be given, if the Turkish employe chooses to transport them, to the Tartars at Baltchick.
I shall take all precaution about nothing happening at Kertch: General Michel assures me that he has no apprehension of anything happening. . . .
I think I mentioned to you that there will be about 1100 horses to be got rid of here from the Artillery; they will go in all sorts of ways, and to all sorts of places, and will not be trophies to the Russians, — at least, even in Parliament, a committee would probably agree that some of the very old cripples of animals might be left behind — they cannot be made lamp-posts of.
The cavalry now in the Bosphorus will be in one brigade, under Colonel Parlby of the 10th 5 — keeping, however, General Lawrenson as superintending the whole: they are now all together, with much to do in casting and embarkation.
We are rather amused here at the disasters attendant upon the sight-seeing journey of Lords and Commons from London to Spithead in peace, at Headquarters of the railway world, of the Navy of England, etc., etc. 6
A lesson in consideration to be learnt from experiences at home.
May it not teach some little consideration for Balaclava during a state of war, without appliances and means, and in an enemy’s country?
WAR DEPARTMENT, May 12, 1856.
Return of the Army Works Corps.
The Army Works Corps have begun to arrive and are being speedily absorbed in the labour market, which is as glad to get them back as you seem to be to get rid of them. Paxton is annoyed at your General Order, for, though they have in some respects given you trouble, still they have done service. . . .
I am glad to find that you are sending off your sick, as I have got 1900 beds ready for them, and shall have Haslar Barracks fitted up for them in case they come on me in any great numbers.
Your description of your Infantry field-day with 30,000 men throws all we can do here into the shade; one cannot help regretting that we had not opportunity to use them. Still you quit the field with great prestige, and we are all well pleased that Luders should have seen your efficiency. I have ordered an encampment for 4000 men to be prepared near Portsmouth, as a resting-place for the men on landing before we pass them on to Aldershot, where the Queen will see all the Army, I believe, at least all the Infantry, as soon after their arrival as possible. After that they must, I presume, have furlough to some extent. Lord Gough leaves on Thursday to invest the G.C.B. and K.C.B. in the Camp. You must give the old Veteran a warm reception, and help him out with ‘French,’ of which he says his stock is small.
May 13, 1856.
We all continue in good health, and I hope shall remain so. But I hear of three deaths, by typhus fever, of camp-followers in the General Hospital of Balaclava.
Haste urged on grounds of risk to health by delay.
I repeat again, do not risk the health of a large body of troops by any delay, or the omission of all disposable means of transport. I believe half the French Army is already embarked, and probably with less than half the means of transport that England has. The hot weather may begin at any moment — indeed the thermometer has been already at 70°, and to-day is a summer’s day of clear and powerful sun. Remember what is underground and close in the neighbourhood of our camps: we are very healthy still, but a breath in this country may convert prosperity into disaster in the way of disease. I cannot but feel anxious that you should avoid any chance of this, for the sake of the lives and efficiency of the army and the credit of England.
I am getting some horses, cast horses only, of Artillery sold here by the officers in command of batteries; and an auction is arranged to take place at Kadikoi under an officer of the Quartermaster-General’s Department, who will have the sole direction of the arrangements, and pay the money into Commissariat, where a separate account will be kept for future reference. 7
A letter from General Michel assures me he has no fear of anything improper happening as between the Turks of the Contingent and the Russians of the place. I have told him that I would send a brigade rather than risk any such discredit.
High-handed act of the Russian authorities.
The Russians have taken by force a Tartar inhabitant, who was with a Lieutenant of Engineers as servant, whilst he was travelling on the South coast — far out of our lines. The Tartar was from Eupatoria, had been a year and a half with the officer, was not a soldier or deserter, but simply a Tartar. I write about this. But if this is their policy, what wonder that the Tartar fears are well grounded?
Some more steamers are come, but I send off all the Sardinians I can, that that job may be completed first; and then we have the contingent from Kertch to arrange early, and I think you wish that carried on next. . . .
The railway — that part of it at least beyond the ‘forts’ — will be taken up now that all shot is pretty nearly gone down to Balaclava. That part of it to the ‘left siege train’ is already begun: I have kept part of the Army Works Corps for this purpose: the rails, etc., will remain in readiness for embarkation at Balaclava.
BROADLANDS, May 14, 1856.
. . . As Codrington has agreed with the Turkish Government about the Balaclava Railway, 8 Sir Culling Eardley and Co. must get theirs from England. I conclude the Turk gives a good price.
Officers who served at Kars.
We must consider what can be done for the Officers who served at Kars with Williams. The House of Commons and the public expect, naturally, that they shall not go unnoticed and unrewarded. Pray turn the matter over in your mind, and see what can be done for them without regard to rules or precedents. 9
OSBORNE, May 15, 1856.
. . . The Queen has received and signed several Warrants for sealing patterns of Military Accoutrements. She would wish for the future that the date on which the patterns had been submitted by the Commander-in-Chief to the Queen should be mentioned, as she otherwise cannot remember when she saw them and which they are.
In a despatch from Sir William Codrington which Lord Panmure forwarded her this morning, there is one relative to quarantine, in which he speaks of the wish of the Tartars to emigrate. Lord Panmure should consult with Lord Clarendon on this subject. These poor people should be allowed to do so, and Turkey should be urged to facilitate it. We ought not to abandon them.
When will the Légions d’honneur be at last given to the Queen’s Army? And what has Lord Panmure done with respect to the Emperor’s military medals? Have the men to receive it been selected?
May 16, 1856.
Recognition of Sir William’s self-abnegation.
I have received yours of the 3rd this morning, and I am sure if your comrades in arms could read the sentiments expressed therein, and the abnegation of self which they contain, IF any spark of jealousy still smoulders, it would be speedily extinguished. Whatever your own wishes may be, I could not do anything which is to throw you into the background, for there are too many who would be willing to seize on such an act and turn it to your disparagement; moreover, it would be base ingratitude on my part.
It will be for me to judge when you can leave your post, and be assured that I will neither hasten the moment from any desire to inflict an ovation on you, nor delay it till there remains only such work to do as your staff can fully accomplish.
You have done quite right with the poor Tartars, and, though of course you must not let them crowd inconveniently into your camp and outposts, any facility for emigration which you can afford them will be fully recognised on this side of the water.
It is abominable on the part of the Russians to begin with their vile quarantine again. It is a cloak for other designs, and I trust that this may not be permitted.
I will consult with Lord Hardinge as to a re-formation of the army into Divisions, etc., preparatory to its coming home, but my own impression is that it had better come home in regiments. When the new organisation is made in this country, you may be sure the Crimean officers will not be overlooked in the new arrangements.
May 17, 1856.
I have nothing particular to say, or much time to say it in.
But I beg you to send us out what steam transport you can, and as soon as you can. I shall be ashamed of the fleet if their objection to come out for us is to be allowed any value: it surely would have been a fine thing for twenty sail of the line to have come into Sebastopol harbour and got us away handsomely. You must not think that the fear of disease is merely liable to be imaginary: it may come at any moment.
Measures to ensure the release of a Tartar wrongfully seized.
I mean to insist, as you will have seen by my telegraph, upon the restoration of the Tartar servant of Lieut. Leahy; I am sure Kertch will frighten them into it, as it frightened away their quarantine. I think, from what I hear of Count Strogonoff, 10 he will settle that, as a Russian subject, he will not give up the Tartar; but he will be frightened out of it by my retention of Kertch.
General Michel tells me he means to hold as hostages liable to punishment the Turkish soldiers who committed some violent acts against Russians. He has no fear of anything disagreeable. The embarkation from Kertch is going on.
May 18, 1856.
Disposal of horses and mules in the Crimea.
With reference to Codrington’s private letters of the 22nd and 26th of April, I should be inclined to say that, rather than let the Russians have a great quantity of horses and mules at an almost nominal price, it would be good policy to give those animals to the Turkish Government as a present, if they were not disposed to buy them.
PS.— I see by Stratford’s Despatch of May 1, of which copy has been sent you, that the only reason why the Turkish Government objects to buy the horses and mules in the Crimea, which we do not mean to bring home, is that they have no means of conveying them to Turkey. If that is so, it would be better that we should take them across to Constantinople rather than hand them over to the Russians.
May 20, 1856.
Russia gives up the Tartar servant.
Last night, about half-past eleven, arrived a Cossack with his lance, and another Cossack with a Tartar with a rope round him, who probably had been towed all the way from Bakshi Serai to make sure of him, or to give him a little pleasant recollection of Cossack habits; he was the Tartar servant of Mr. Leahy of the Engineers. We put them all to bed in the stable, gave them something to eat, acknowledged the receipt ‘per bearer’; and thus ends the little characteristic episode by the safety of our protégé, after a certain quantity of bullying, which seems the usual practice of the under-officials of the Russian Government.
I think the ‘Kertch lever’ would have been a powerful one, had the use of it been necessary.
I need not repeat to you what I hear from General Storks, who telegraphs to you as he sends people home; but I write to him that Artillery horses from hence are of even more consequence to get home than Cavalry from Scutari, unless in occasional ships and from particular destinations. . . .
Speed in evacuation urged on sanitary grounds.
In return for your remark about Sanitary vigilance here, remember the sanitary vigilance from home for us — get us away from hence — no sanitary vigilance will prevent cholera or disease, which may overtake us at any moment, even in the freshest camp of this country. . . .
OSBORNE, May 23, 1856.
The Queen has received Lord Panmure’s letter of the 21st, and entirely approves of the allowance of the subaltern officers of Militia being increased on disembodiment from three to six months’ pay.
May 23, 1856.
You would be surprised to find a mail arrive and with it no bag from me, but I was called out of town to assist at a most interesting ceremony which the Queen performed with her own royal hands — viz., the laying the foundation-stone for a fine hospital on Southampton Water.
It is intended to move the whole establishment from Chatham, and to give up that place to the Corps of Royal Engineers. We had a fine day and everything went off very well, but I could not get back to London in time to write by the mail. The communications by telegraph can now make up for such omissions.
Six men-of-war to convey troops.
I am happy to say that the Admiralty have been persuaded to send out six men-of-war for troops, and you will do well to fill them as full as you can, for I quite agree with you that the sooner we fly from the chance of pestilence the better. I will try and induce Sir C. Wood to give me some more of his ships, though, with the prejudices that exist against carrying troops in men-of-war, it is not easy to do so. You must do exactly as you please as to coming home. All I will say upon the subject is that hitherto everything you have done has met my full approval, and I feel myself bound to take care that you are not laid on the shelf should you desire to be employed. You will be made a full Lieutenant-General, and as we mean in the new organisation of our peace establishment to have divisional commands, I hope one may suit you. You will consider this as confidential, of course.
Partition of spoils.
There is no fear of anything occurring at Kertch, but you have done quite right in leaving part of 71st regiment there to prevent accidents. The partition of spoils is a pretty affair. . . . Both Sardinians and Turks shall have what they want.
We shall take care of those who have commanded brigades, and means will be taken to prevent them falling back to their Corps. There is a brevet promotion in preparation, which will do something for your meritorious officers.
May 24, 1856.
As to men-of-war not having been employed to bring home the Army.
Sir H. Stewart arrived here on the 22nd, and came to camp yesterday. I do not know how it comes that you have all allowed England to miss so good an opportunity of showing her maritime power, both of mercantile and military marine. You have missed a good occasion of showing Europe what you could do. . . . I am afraid that you have all gone into the opposite extreme to the French, whose constant and habitual use of their men-of-war as transports may be unadvisable for us to copy, for we have a magnificent mercantile marine which they have not. But we certainly might gracefully, and perhaps gratefully to this army, have asked the Navy to descend from their high horse; for it is not every day that you have to evacuate a Crimea after a siege of Sebastopol, and it is not every day that you can show to Europe what power of hostile movement is within our means. Twenty screw line-of-battle ships in Sebastopol harbour, with 20,000 Infantry on board, with 30 or 40 magnificent merchant steamers under their convoy with a second 20,000 men, how came you to miss such an opportunity! I only hope the hot weather and its possible consequences may not give reason for greater regret; we are all well, however, as yet.
Desirability of strengthening authority at Kertch.
I send back the two companies of the 71st to Kertch. Letters from General Michel detail another murder of some 2 or 3 Russians; it is as well to strengthen his hands, particularly as having good excuse and convenience in assembling the whole Regiment for eventual and direct transfer to Malta by the Sidon, which Sir H. Stewart will place at my disposal for this purpose. I hope to go to Kertch before or at its evacuation.
We are getting on tolerably with our sales of cast horses and animals here: the huts you must put down as a dead loss most probably, though I move several down to Balaclava. I am just going to the assembly of the remaining part of the army before Balaclava, for salute, etc. on Queen’s birthday.
May 25, 1856.
Regarding suggested emigration of Tartars from Crimea.
I should think it not unlikely that the Russian Government would have no objection to the emigration of the Tartars from the Crimea. The departure of these people would render it more easy for the Russians to fill up the Crimea with thoroughbred Russians, who could be more relied upon than the Tartars in the event of any future invasion of the Crimea.
May 26, 1856.
The Queen has been reading Sir William Codrington’s three last letters, and must say that she thinks not another moment ought to be lost in sending out sufficient ships to bring home the troops. The Queen cannot allow the lives of her noble and gallant troops to be exposed to the risk of disease, and she cannot believe that the Admiralty would let the possible inconvenience arising from the conveyance of troops by ships of the Navy weigh against the possibility of the Army becoming attacked by illness. If anything were to happen after what Sir William Codrington writes, the Queen thinks the Government would incur a heavy responsibility if they lost another day in bringing the Army home. They would have to answer for lives, as much as the officers who have been so much attacked for the sufferings incurred from want of foresight in ’54.
As the Queen cannot write to Lord Palmerston, perhaps Lord Panmure will show him this letter.
May 26, 1856.
As to return of the troops.
I have received yours of [Blank in copy] inst. this morning, and I fully participate in all your anxiety to get the troops away before the hot weather sets in. I will urge Sir C. Wood to give me as much transport as he can, and, if you consider it urgent, I will give you authority to move troops directly home, instead of immediately relieving the Mediterranean garrisons. I hope, however, before you get this you will have got the Sardinians moved, and then use every available means of sending away your own gallant fellows. I trust Dr. Sutherland is using all his endeavours to keep up his sanitary system, and that you will find no inconvenience from the quantity of buried animal matter all around you.
I am glad to learn that General Michel anticipates no disagreeable consequences between the Turks of the Contingent and the Russians, but your precautions are nevertheless quite satisfactory. Your telegram has announced the return of the Tartar whose abstraction from his master was most unjustifiable. Should disease threaten your army, you have my full authority for exercising your discretion as to the expediency of giving the Contingent precedence in departure from Russian territory. We must not be made a prey to disease, either to gratify our late foes by a speedy evacuation of Kertch, nor to send back [Turks] immediately to their own ranks.
By the term holding troops in readiness to embark, I by no means imply that you are to await for orders so to do. Your instructions are to embark whenever you have an opportunity, and to be ready to avail yourself of opportunities whenever they arise. The lifting of the railway sounds like business and leave-taking, and you are quite right in keeping some of the Army Works Corps for this business. The Turks are to have it, and I hope they will transport it. We are to have our fireworks this week for the peace.
May 26, 1856.
Value of the Army Works Corps.
From what I hear you had a symptom of the good discipline of the Army Works Corps on their arrival at the Waterloo station. They have given me very little trouble — do not imagine that it is on that account that my opinion has been expressed about them. I do not pay their bill. But I certainly have my own opinion as to the work they have done for their money; and although I do not deny their having been of use, at least some portion of them, I utterly deny the idea of their having been of such advantage to the army, that it could not have done very nearly as well without them. I do not say that they have not done some work: I only say it is utterly out of proportion to their enormous cost, the inefficiency of many of them (sic), and I suspect to the trouble they have given to their more immediate employers. I cannot help Sir J. Paxton’s annoyance: they may work very well in England, where their wages depend on their work; and very possibly he may be able to quote the good conduct and hard work of many of them on railways in England, to show how wrong the General Order was in the Crimea. We have not the least doubt that, if it is put in print, it will all be believed — but that won’t alter facts here.
I hope and think there is latitude enough given as to horses; but, if I were to publish your mention of any officer having a favourite charger, there is not an animal in the Crimea that has been ridden off his legs that would not go home as a favourite charger, and many a baggage pony would go at Government expense to the quiet parsonages of England, or inundate your intended camp at Aldershot. I am preparing a little for Lord Gough; 11 but what a pity for any one to come for such a job as this and not speak French! Verandahs, flags, thrones, and all that sort of thing are beginning in the rear of this house; and we will do all we can for Pelissier and the other French Generals, as well as for our own: there are Rokeby, Barnard, Dacres, and Sir H. Rose, I think, also Sir Houston Stewart is all for doing what he can to help us, and his fleet here has no such feeling as that supposed by us to be held in England. He sends a steamer of war to-day to Kertch, to order another to assist with her in taking the Contingent to Constantinople, and this will help us considerably.
Sale of horses to Turks.
General Storks tells me he has sold a great many horses, and well, and that the Seraskir wants some of the really fine English Artillery horses, and I write to General Storks to suggest some Turkish officer coming up here, if he wishes to have some, in order that he may see them, and not have to take any out uselessly at Scutari. But they are not the class of horse to suit them, unless they want the mares, to give a greater size; but they will not be able to mix these big horses with their small ones.
Causes of failure of Army Works Corps.
The Army Works Corps have, I think, about 800 remaining here, and are employed in taking up the railroad, which I hear from Lord Stratford is bought positively by the Turks — the Saw mills at Sinope the same: I shall send away more of the Army Works Corps when I can. You must understand my remarks about them refer to the men of the Corps — not the officers, who seem, with Mr. Doyne himself, to have been always willing to exert themselves; but with little power in themselves, and absence of any particular inducements to the men, no wonder they did not come up to the mark which the imagination of many people in England had put upon their exertions. We have all of us some ‘motive’ for work, and you had not quite hit upon motive enough for the men of such a Corps, highly paid, certain of food and clothing and pay, and not having punishing power beyond a fine which they cared little about. I have told Mr. Doyne that, having received the new Mutiny Act, I can try any heavy faults now by District Court Martial, composed of the officers of the Army. The French have sent away about 56,000 men, their siege train, and almost all their artillery of the field. We have moved altogether about 32,000, including Sardinians. . . .
Presentation of medals by the French.
The French medals are done: we paraded on the 24th on a slope just below the Col Balaclava — a fine day — quarter distance columns in line, artillery on the right and left. At the signal of a gun, the different Divisions formed a square of their columns, the Generals giving the médaille and reading out loud the services in detail of each man. Marshal Pelissier came out with me to the First Division, to take part in it; after this the line was reformed — a salute from 21 guns from each flank — then the salute of the troops, Pelissier being in front and saluting with me. Then there were three cheers given. We rode to the right and went down the front — about 1000 yards; the troops then marched past, and so home. 44 guns and 26,000 men were out; all went very well and a good show; the ground was a slope of a hill and favourable. I say again you have missed a good opportunity of showing Europe your power — I mean as to the removal of the army in a body. However, it is somewhat of the same sort of thing as the removal of some Sikh guns — sent I think to be trophies for Windsor — by Pickford’s Van, or railway, instead of by Artillery horses and some sort of show.
May 30, 1856.
Writer’s high estimate of the Army.
I am obliged to employ another hand in writing to you by this mail, as the gout has laid hold of me and is persecuting me so that I cannot write comfortably. I see by the last telegraphic despatch from Marseilles that I have failed to give satisfaction to the Army in some speech which I have made, and which I presume to be that in which I proposed a vote of thanks to it. I am sorry for this, but don’t exactly know wherein I have sinned, as I am sure nobody has felt more proud of, nor spoken more highly of the Army, on any occasion on which I had to refer to it, than I have.
I am happy to say that the Admiralty is now fully alive to the necessity of bringing away the troops as quickly as possible. Sir Houston Stewart has received instructions to use any ships of the fleet in sending them home, and several line-of-battle ships and steamers are on their way out for the same purpose. I received your public despatch upon this subject this morning, and I highly approve of the manner in which you have written on this important subject, as it not only strengthens my hands, but sets yourself right before the public should any evil arise from unnecessary delay. You will see by the papers that our fireworks went off with great éclat, but our weather is cold and ungenial.
May 30, 1856.
Approval of the fireworks.
The Queen must write a line to Lord Panmure to tell him how very much we all admired and enjoyed the Fireworks, which were magnificent, and truly worthy of this country. The showers of rockets and the Bouquets and the finale were really the most beautiful things ever seen, and this was the opinion of those who had seen the celebrated Fireworks at Nantes (?), ‘the Girandola,’ etc.
Would Lord Panmure say all this to Captain Boxer, who has taken so much pains with them? She is now anxious to know that no accident occurred in letting off such multitudes of rockets. The Queen concludes that Artillery men let them off?
Nothing could be more successful. We were on the balcony the whole time.
May 31, 1856.
Occurrence of an undoubted case of cholera.
I thought it right that you should know in cypher, of the decided case of cholera in the army: as I mention in my official letter, there had been one or two somewhat suspicious cases, but in which were wanting some extreme symptoms of Asiatic cholera. But in this case Dr. Hall tells me there was no doubt; the man, however, is getting better. But — but — I need say no more of possibilities: I hope they are not even probabilities — they certainly are liabilities, and of a serious nature. Two regiments of the Mediterranean, the 31st and 2nd Battalion Royals, are the only ones remaining here: the 71st remains at Kertch till the final evacuation of the place: this regiment is provided for by the Admiral’s letting the Sidon take them to Malta when the time comes.
There remain now in the Crimea for embarkation:
1,852 Officers. 36,758 N. C. Officers and privates. 1,100 Army Works Corps. 1,384 Natives. Total, 41,094 500 Staff and Infantry Chargers. 7,934 Horses. 60 Guns. 1,048 Carriages.
Disposal of horses.
I have desired to have, and have begun with, two steamers, which take mules, etc., regularly to the South and East coast of the Black Sea for Colonel M’Murdo: I shall soon have some good, but not first class, steamer, to take the least valuable of the Artillery horses to Constantinople (after extracting and selling the cripples), landing them at once for sale, and returning for a similar cargo. I have suggested that the Turkish Government should send up an officer to choose and buy here, we conveying them if necessary, some horses and mules of the Artillery. I gave General Storks power to sell, as a whole, the heavy horses of the heavy batteries of 18 and 32 pounders; but not to sell them piecemeal, nor allow any delay by taking out a few. The sales of horses by auction here, which took place at Kadikoi, were almost entirely cast or inferior horses: those who bought them took them into the interior, and are not returned; consequently sales have languished, and the sending to Constantinople is my remedy for this.
You may consider still my line of conduct in sales to be, both here and at Kertch, that nothing of really warlike stores be sold; that provisions will be sold if a price can be got (but which cannot at Kertch); that the horses sold here will be none of the best, but will be only cast, and inferior; that I have sanctioned General Storks’ sale of some good animals of Artillery for good prices, but it must depend upon price. . . .
12 Mid-day, May 31.
Increased facilities for embarkation.
I have just received letters from Sir H. Stewart at Kasatch, with letter that 10 sail of the line are to leave England to help the embarkation of the Army; and that he has permission by telegraph to employ his own fleet and take out their lower deck guns for the purpose. You will not be surprised at my anxiety to get away the troops, as you will have learnt by a second telegraph from me to-day that another decided case of cholera has occurred. . . . Though a decided case, Dr. Mouatt says it is mild, and he hopes an accidental one. These two cases — this hot weather — for the thermometer is from 81° to 86° in the shade — are warnings. The Admiral is all anxiety to assist in every way. . . .
‘The sooner the troops are moved the better.’
I have had no hesitation in telling him to-day that we have had practical warning; that I do not hesitate to say the sooner the troops are moved the better; that it would not do to wait the possibility of any disease coming, the exposure to which would not then perhaps be fair to the ship’s companies; that the men were very healthy now, and that the more he could assist us the better. . . .