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The Panmure Papers, Vol II

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Chapter XX

August 1856

THE letters of this month are almost exclusively concerned with questions as to the Peace Establishment of the Army and the details of its administration.

The newly appointed Commander-in-Chief zealously opposes any large reduction of the army, which he declares to be at present in ‘a most efficient state,’ towards the realisation of which much money has been spent. ‘It would be a pity to throw this efficiency away hastily’ (August 15th). In particular he is opposed to Lord Panmure’s proposed reduction of two troops in each regiment of cavalry. He likewise states his opinion that, in every separate command, there should be a senior Staff Officer in addition to the General Commanding, and urges the desirability of keeping up an efficient staff, ‘for if we have not a very efficient staff during peace, we cannot have a really good one during war. The staff must learn their duty, and how can this be done if the staff is too much reduced or kept at too low a mark?’

In reference to the organisation of the Land Transport Corps, he recommends that the Colonies be included, arguing that at the Cape, in Canada, and at Malta, the corps might be made of great use.

In addition to the formation and organisation of this corps, and of the Army Works, Medical Staff, and Ambulance Corps, other questions touched on are those of the quartering of Garrison Artillery, numbering of Divisions, of an Inspector-General of Infantry and his duties, of the appointment of a Superintending General Officer for the Guards, and of the attendance of British officers at Foreign reviews, for the sake of instruction, and to report on Foreign armies.

The disposal of the German and Italian Legions is further discussed, with a proposal to provide for the Italians by sending them to the Argentine Republic.


OSBORNE, August 3, 1856.

The Queen on the submission for the distribution and utilisation of the Army at home.

The Queen has received and approved the submission for the distribution and organisation of the Army at home, which she trusts will be of lasting utility to the Service.

She only wishes to remark that she thinks there ought to be a battery of Field Artillery in the Camp at the Curragh, and that, with the exception of Aldershot, she sees no Sappers and Miners attached to the other Stations. The Queen misses likewise an account of the Distribution of the Artillery at home, which is told off for garrison duty or may be left in depôt at Woolwich, and the same with regard to the Sappers and Miners. These omissions should be supplied to make the whole Scheme and Record complete.

When complete, the Queen would wish to have a fair copy sent to her to keep. The Distribution and Organisation being decided on, the Queen now expects to receive a complete scheme for the Staff appointments and commands of these different Corps. She supposes that the two Divisions at Aldershot will have their Generals, besides the Brigades of which they are composed.

The Queen suggests the propriety of numbering the Divisions now to be established, which would tend to impress the public mind with the permanency of the arrangement.

The Land Transport Corps, being under consideration cannot of course yet be attached to the Divisions, but the Queen trusts that this may soon be the case.

The Medical Staff and Medical Staff Corps ought at once to be so attached and form part of the Scheme. It would likewise be necessary to apportion the Commissariat.

Unless all these things be done, and be done now, we shall never rise to the possession of an Army.

The Queen confidently recommends these subjects to the particular care of the Duke of Cambridge.


HORSE GUARDS, August 5, 1856.

Having yesterday received a reply from the Queen on the suggestion I made to her, relative to the future quartering of the Army, I deem it right to send you a copy of Her Majesty’s observations, in order that you may see yourself what the Queen says, and assist me in the ultimate reply that I am to make to some of the points alluded to.

As to future quartering of Garrison Artillery Companies.

As regards the quartering of the dismounted or Garrison Artillery Companies, I have sent to Osborne a rough sketch of what I propose to do, but much must depend on the establishment upon which you decide, and upon which at present I have not got any positive orders from you.

Engineers, Land Transport Corps, Medical Staff Corps.

The same answer I must give relative to the Sappers and Miners. 1 Undoubtedly some portion of this force ought to be attached to all the Divisions of Troops about to be formed, but at the present moment we know not what your establishment is fixed at, and the men are in general so lately raised that they have not as yet completed their training at Chatham, and then very few are actually available for the purpose of detachment. Should this force be intended to be kept up at the establishment proposed by my predecessor, as many as 1000 men will have to be raised, the force being incomplete to that extent. There are great facilities at this moment for obtaining this amount of men from the number disposable, not alone of the Army, but some probably from the discharged Land Transport men, etc. I quite agree with Her Majesty that it would be very desirable to settle the formation of the Land Transport Corps at once, as well as the Medical Staff Corps, and attaching portions of both to the various Divisions and Brigades of the Army. As regards the Medical Staff Corps, I shall with your permission make some proposals to you of my own as to its future formation, and I certainly think it ought to be placed on a very different footing from what it is at present. The same is to be said for the future Land Transport Corps. This should be composed of men to be allowed to volunteer from the Army, and I really think it would be well to consider the question of employing portions of it in the Arsenal and various Dockyards, in addition to such portion as can be employed with the several Divisions of the Troops.

As to numbering of Divisions.

With reference to the numbering of the Divisions. 2 I am rather doubtful as to the possibility of such a measure. Militarily I see no objection to it, but I fear the number might attract public notice, and make it more difficult to keep up the force of troops we are desirous to maintain.

As to maintaining two Divisional Generals at Aldershot.

The question of the two Divisional Generals at Aldershot is one that must rest chiefly with you, as it is a matter of finance. Militarily I can have no objection, but I do not see any positive necessity for two Generals as stated, as I hold that the troops at Aldershot will always fluctuate as to numbers. At the same time the difficulty might be met, and be settled satisfactorily for all parties, if, during the dull season and summer months, the General Officer in charge of the Guards in London were to be ordered down to Aldershot, and assume the command of one of the Divisions there, which would include the Brigade of the Guards detached from London to that station. The question of the Commissariat Officer is a very large and a very important one; I agree with the Queen as to the principle of the answer, but as this department is entirely in your hands, I must leave it to you to give the necessary reply to Her Majesty’s suggestion. I think I have now touched upon all the subjects entered by the Queen in the paper as enclosed. Some other points require your decision, which I must now request of you to give.   .  .  .  I am sure you will permit me to remark that it is really essential to the new formation that we should have a thoroughly efficient staff, for it was in this point we formerly failed so much, and it is necessary that Staff Officers should have opportunities for studying their professional duties, and how can they do so if a certain increased number to the old establishment be not appointed?

As to an Inspector-General of Infantry and his duties.

An official letter shall be written to you on the subject of the Inspector-General of Infantry. Such an officer will be quite indispensable. He will have the entire organisation and management of the new Consolidated depôt both in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and I understand from you that, in addition, you would call upon him to look after the Militia Staff when disembodied, and possibly he might further inspect portions of the Militia Regiments when out for their usual training. Sir Colin Campbell is just the man for such a post, and I have reason to think would delight in having the appointment. He must have an assistant Adjutant-General, as it would be impossible for him to get through his work without such an officer, and would naturally be a Lieut.-General on the Staff with two Aide-de-Camps.   .  .  . 

Proposal that British officers shall attend foreign reviews.

The Queen has expressed a wish that some of our officers should attend all large foreign reviews for the sake of instruction, and in order to report upon other armies. I approve highly of the idea, and hope to have your sanction for the expense to be incurred. I have privately written to Clarendon to request him to find out what reviews are likely to take place this year.


HORSE GUARDS, August 6, 1856.

  .  .  .  The news from the Cape is again not good. The 85th have gone there from the Mauritius. Would it not be well to send out the German Cavalry Regiment at once, as one Corps to be permanently kept up if found useful and required as the guardian of the Frontier? I wish you would think of this and do it at once, for no time should be lost about it.


INVERMARK, August 7, 1856.

Her Majesty’s views on the Memo for the organisation and distribution of the troops.

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of Your Royal Highness’s letter of the 5th inst., in which you transmit to me H.M.’s views on the memo for the organisation and distribution of the troops.

Notes on the Memo for organisation and distribution of the troops.

1. As regards the quartering of the Garrison Artillery, I observe in the papers which accompany Your Royal Highness’s note that there is a scheme for such a distribution of these Companies as appears to me to be well defined. The Cabinet have decided to maintain all the present number of Battalions and Companies in the Artillery, and, though the latter may vary a little from time to time in Rank and File, the organisation will remain the same and the distribution will not be much affected.

2. In reference to Sappers and Miners, I propose to maintain a considerable body of this Corps, and eventually would like to see them divided into two classes, one of skilled artificers of all kinds, and the other of good stout workmen, versed in the use of the spade and more ordinary departments of labour.

I am not aware what the present numbers are, but I have submitted to the Queen a Peace Establishment of 365 Officers, 303 Non-Commissioned Officers, 3724 Rank and File. I would have both officers and men well trained at Chatham before you allowed them to go on detachment, but, as soon as they are fit, then each of the great Camps of Aldershot and Curragh should have a strong detachment for instruction of the Troops in field works, and our extensive works will I think absorb most of those not under instructions.

If the Corps is below the Establishment I have named, it had better be made up from the Army or those Corps in process of disembodiment.

3. Land Transport Corps is a question for discussion.

4. Medical Staff Corps we must arrange to suit the Hospitals which are permanent Establishments, and likewise the Divisions and Brigades of the Army; but I think this will not press for some little time, and I should like Your Royal Highness to see Dr. Smith on the subject, and make him prepare a scheme of distribution of this Corps.

5. I quite agree with Your Royal Highness that, though numbering Divisions would be a more regular course of proceeding, it would give a handle for the ignorant to pull at, and it will be prudent to avoid it.

6. I trust that Her Majesty will agree to have only one Divisional General at Aldershot, as it will show our desire to study economy, and it is really not necessary. The General of the Division of Guards could repair to the Camp in the drill season and take a division.

7. I shall see to the maintenance of a proper Commissariat, but the supplies for the Army at home will have to be obtained in the most economical manner in order to keep John Bull in good humour.

8. [Refers to the position to be occupied by the General in command of the Guards.]

9. Inspector General of Infantry. I shall be prepared to admit this arrangement as soon as Your Royal Highness writes on the subject. I presume he will be Lieutenant-General on the Staff, with two A.D.C.’s and an Assistant Adjutant. His duties will be severe, and my opinion is that he will be obliged to live more in the centre of England than London.

11. [sic] I think that H.M.’s views in regard to some of our Officers seeing Foreign Reviews are quite right. They should be Officers of rank, and in actual command at home, so that they might apply any improvements that struck them.


OSBORNE, August 9, 1856.

Proposed Peace Establishment (remarks on).

The Queen wishes to remind Lord Panmure that she has not yet received the paper on the Peace Establishment, with the reasons in support of the proposed arrangements, and she hopes that the organisation of the Land Transport Corps, Army Works Corps, and Ambulance Corps will not be lost sight of.

She understands that the discharging of these Corps is going on uninterruptedly. Now some of the best will have to be retained, and the position of the officers requires consideration.


ST. JAMES’S PALACE, August 15, 1856.

I have to thank you for your letter. I have not yet heard from your Secretary, but will give the subject of the new establishments my best attention whenever I get it.

Inadvisability of reducing much at the present moment.

I trust you will have been moderate in your reduction, for, depend upon it, we must not reduce much at the present moment, and until we see our way more clearly as to the state of Europe, which at present still appears very unsettled and uncomfortable in many quarters. At present the Army is in a most efficient state, and much has been spent on arriving at that point. It would be a pity to throw this efficiency away hastily, and I doubt not you have given the subject your most serious attention.

Various appointments.

I have heard from Her Majesty to-night, She approves privately of Sir Colin Campbell’s appointment as Inspector-General of Infantry, and I shall therefore proceed with it officially.   .  .  .  She expresses a wish that Sir William Codrington should have the offer of the Dover Division in succession to Sir Colin.   .  .  . 

We have a Regiment vacant at this moment by the death of General Gordon of the 54th. I intend submitting the name of Sir William Codrington for the vacancy, as I think him fully entitled to a Regiment from the services he has performed and the position he has filled.   .  .  . 


August 24, 1856.

  .  .  .  Codrington having expressed a wish not to be immediately employed, on account of much private business he has on hand, I sent for Barnard, who has accepted the Dover command.

Recommends a Senior Staff officer in addition to a General in command.

I regret you could not accede to my request to allow the Staff Officer at Corfu to have the rank hitherto held by him as a Deputy Q.M.G., for I think there ought in every separate command to be a senior Staff Officer in addition to the General Officer commanding the troops. It gives an Officer thus situated more right and authority to have the higher grade, and in a military point of view this is a great advantage, and it is absolutely necessary that we should have such gradation in the Staff appointments, that we may at all times have the means of putting forward those men who do well in the inferior grades of the several Departments.   .  .  . 


PICCADILLY, August 25, 1856.

Disposal of the German and Italian Legions.

Labouchere has just been with me, and his account of the arrival of Italians and approaching departure of Germans show that these important arrangements cannot be effected without your personal superintendence, and it is very essential that no time should be lost in determining where the Italians are to go, and in sending them thither, and also in making arrangements for the departure of the Germans for the Cape. Labouchere is much for your sending Stütterheim 3 with them to settle them, and I am inclined to think that Stutterheim as a German would have more influence over them, and be more likely to arrange matters satisfactorily for them than an English Officer would.

If you determine to come up, which I think it is desirable you should, you will probably settle with the Queen that George Grey should take next turn at Balmoral, and that you should relieve him as you would have settled the Two Legions before G. Grey’s turn would be over.


GORDON CASTLE, August 31, 1856.

Desirability of keeping up an efficient Staff.

  .  .  .  Your letter of the 27th has reached me. Parliament no doubt criticises all Staff Appointments severely, but it shall be my endeavour to give them as little chance for finding fault as possible in this respect, and though I quite feel with you the necessity for not having more Staff Officers than is absolutely necessary, I still hope you will not give in too much to the cry against the Staff, for, believe me, if we have not a very efficient Staff during peace, we cannot have a really good one during war. The Staff must learn their duty, and how can this be done if the Staff is too much reduced or kept at too low a mark? The great thing is to appoint good men, and it will be a matter for consideration before Parliament meets again as to how this can be best accomplished. I shall give the subject my best attention, and will confer with you upon it when we meet.

Recommends inclusion of the Colonies in forming the Land Transport Corps.

In forming the L. T. Corps I think we should not overlook the Colonies. At the Cape, in Canada, and at Malta, the Corps might be made of great use. I have had a private letter from Pennefather, who is very strong on this point, and I think him right. It would really not be any additional expense, for much money is at present spent for transport by the Commissariat Department, and even in the Engineer Department there are a thousand works that could well be supplied by the L. T. Corps. Pray turn your attention to this point.

Urges keeping up the numbers of the Cavalry.

I have read your paper about the future establishment of the Army. It is very satisfactory as a general whole, but I object to the great reduction in the Cavalry. I know how much the want of it was felt when the Army embarked for the East. The same thing would occur if we have another war. An Army cannot take the field efficiently without a due proportion of Cavalry, the numbers for which must be kept up in time of peace. The reduction of two troops will, I fear, prove a great misfortune, and as to the unfortunate officers of Cavalry, what is to become of them I do not know, for we shall never have a chance of bringing them back to full pay. I am glad you have not reduced the number of Regiments at all events, for it would have caused much inconvenience and great hardship upon many officers. Even now, if you cannot keep up 8 troops, I should be almost disposed to your trying 7. This would always keep three efficient squadrons and a depôt Troop, which would on the breaking out of war be easily converted into a fourth Squadron. By this means at all events some officers would be saved from reduction, and the 7th troop might be composed of dismounted men, or of young men and remount horses, to be in Barracks in these Regiments which are quartered in the various Camps and stations of exercise. I wish you would think the matter over again, if not too late. You have not told me what you intend to do with the supernumerary officers. Are they all to be placed on half-pay, or do you intend a certain number of the Subalterns to continue on with their Regiments with a view of being absorbed?   .  .  .  I hope, when you make the arrangements for the Cape, that you will make it worth Stutterheim’s while to accompany the Legion. I think that much of the success of the measure will depend upon his going out with the Legion.   .  .  . 



BALMORAL, August 31, 1856.

As to sending the Italian Legion to the Argentine.

  .  .  .  I was in hopes that an agreement had been come to about three weeks ago between Colonel Hudson and a certain M. Buschenthal, the agent of General Urquiza, the President of the Argentine Confederation, for sending the Italian Legion to that country. The men would be welcome there, which they would nowhere else it seems, the climate is beautiful, and they would get land assigned to them.

I encouraged Buschenthal not to lose a moment in procuring such excellent Colonists for the Republic, and if the agreement was concluded, the arrival of the men here won’t so much signify, as they can be shipped off more conveniently than from Malta, i.e., if [they] will go.   .  .  . 

I am already better for the delightful atmosphere of the Highlands, and much disposed to throw over foreign affairs, and not to resign my place 4 to you at the end of a fortnight.

Footnotes to Chapter 20

  1. The old designation of the Royal Engineers.
  2. The Duke, who was always opposed to the reduction of the Army, feared that the new arrangement of numbered Divisions would bring its magnitude too prominently before the public.
  3. Baron Stütterheim, commanding German Legion.
  4. As Minister in attendance on the Queen.
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