THE few letters of this month are chiefly concerned with the German Legion, whose continuance in this country had given rise to troubles and disturbances, and with the selection of a Lieutenant-Governor for Chelsea Hospital and of a General to go to India.
The retention in the service of the Supernumerary Lieutenants is decided on, and the means for absorbing them considered. In submitting a Memorandum on arrangements for bringing the Militia into closer touch with the Army, the Duke of Cambridge observes that ‘the great thing we want in this country is a Reserve Force for the Army, whence the latter can be easily and quickly recruited in time of war’ (October 25th).
Perhaps the most interesting letters of the month are those in which the Queen expresses her regret for the loss of Lord Hardinge, and Codrington pleads for consideration for Crimean trophies.
The Shah of Persia having transgressed the terms of a treaty made with Great Britain in 1853, by marching an army on Herat, the Governor-General of India had declared war, and was fitting out an expedition against him at Bombay.
BALMORAL, October 4, 1856.
The Queen has to thank Lord Panmure for his letter, with the very interesting medical reports.
Lord Panmure’s kind and true eulogy on the death of our valued friend, poor dear Lord Hardinge, was gratifying to her feelings. A nobler, braver, more loyal, or more fearless public servant never served his Sovereign and Country. These qualities, as well as his great experience in all military matters, are an irreparable loss in all times, but particularly in these. The Queen thinks that he may like to read this beautiful letter from poor Lady Hardinge, to whom this blow must indeed be a fearful one.
Lord Panmure will be much gratified and struck with Miss Nightingale — her powerful, clear head, and simple, modest manner.
BALMORAL, October 6, 1856.
As Lord Panmure did not appear to know the particulars of poor Lord Hardinge’s death, the Queen sends him, for his perusal, a letter from his eldest son and Colonel Phipps, which gives the sad and touching details.
F.O., October 6, 1856.
Murkiness of the Political Horizon.
. . . The political horizon is almost as murky as the aspect of London to-day, and there are many breakers ahead. Our great Ally, or rather his entourage, is so completely Russianised that we no longer get on well together. 1
It gave me heartfelt pleasure to read what you said about Newcastle the other day, and you made use of exactly the right word, ‘clamour,’ at which I see the Times takes offence, but you won’t mind that.
October 6, 1856.
As to the Crimean trophies.
In the answer sent to Sir C. Yorke from the War Department about the guns, and of which a copy is sent to me, it is mentioned that the Queen has selected two large bells, and ‘that none of the other trophies are of much value.’
This does not portend much consideration for them; and, as I have had so much free communication with you, I hesitate not in putting in a word as to the value of these trophies. We who were engaged in the Crimea may naturally feel that they were of value — that they are not lumbering old stores — and that there is something more in them than the metal of which they are composed. There must have been more than 30 brass pieces of ordnance — our share of what was taken at the fall of Sebastopol; and there were besides 12 field-pieces and their carriages recovered from below the water. Although these were not taken in the actual field of battle, they are, at all events, trophies of the successful siege.
Capture of guns at the Alma.
But there are — or there were — two brass pieces of a very different character, viz., a long 16 pounder gun, and a 32 pounder howitzer, both of which were taken in fair fight in the Battle of the Alma. They formed part of the armament of the 12 gun battery which the Light Division attacked. I remember riding in by the embrasure of the howitzer myself, and I then saw the long gun towards the further end of the battery, limbered up, horsed, and a Russian mounting in order to move it off, when he was threatened or shot by an officer of the 23rd, the horses’ heads were turned by him down and round the flank of the breastwork beyond our line, and the gun secured.
At the time of our not being able to maintain our hold of the battery, the brigade of Guards came up in support, and passing over and round this breastwork, secured the ground in their position, and the howitzer with it.
These two fine pieces of brass ordnance were part of those which swept the vineyard and ground on both sides of the river as we advanced to the attack, and they were taken in fair and direct fight. I saw them in front of Lord Raglan’s quarters the day after the battle, though I do not see that he mentions them in his despatch. Every soldier must hope that these at all events will not be classed with old stores, and got rid of or melted. We may feel pretty sure that the Russians will cherish the possession of the seven English siege guns 2 — although of iron — which they took in the Redoubts of Balaclava.
Some of the Russian Officers — and intelligent ones, too, of their staff, and long in the Crimea — denied to me that they had any guns of position at the Alma, and were quite incredulous of our having taken any at all, till I mentioned the fact of having them in our possession.
Let us at all events keep — we might even honour — these tangible trophies of the first and brilliant fight of the campaign; nor, indeed, need we be ashamed to park the guns and carriages of the others, as long as the wood and green paint will hold together.
True value of the Crimean trophies.
There was a bell belonging to the 77th regiment, of which I had (to their great disgust) to order the surrender, that it might be sent home with the others; it was obtained by them from the French, and, if possible, I myself would willingly pay the value of it, could I have the pleasure of restoring it; indeed there is not a regiment, or a corps, that would not gladly have, or buy, some such trophy, if there is any idea of their being melted or disregarded.
You may feel that all this is none of my business now, and possibly the expression which I have quoted may mean only a money value; I risk writing to you, however, in the hope that you may agree with me, and with many others, that they have much more than a money value, and are worth retaining in their present shape.
BALMORAL, October 10, 1856.
The term ‘value,’ as applied to the Trophies, referred to their ‘money value,’ and not their ‘national’ value, which is beyond my computation.
As the proofs of the valour of our troops they shall be duly cared for, and you need be under no apprehension of their being treated ‘as old stores’ or ‘melted down.’
I am averse to follow the French fashion and to parade the fruits of our conquest, and so keep open the sores of war after the healing hand of peace has been applied.
On the other hand, no trophies should be destroyed, but carefully preserved as National Mementos. The Alma 16 pounder and the howitzer were both in the Arsenal at Woolwich when I was last there, and the place of their capture inscribed on them.
The Queen desired the two large bells to be sent, the one to Osborne and the other to Windsor, and she graciously gave Lord Hardinge and myself permission to select a small one each. The rest are in the Arsenal, and I dare say if you could point out which belonged to the 77th, it could be restored to them.
The final disposal, either in the Tower or Woolwich, or some public place, of all our guns is yet to be determined, but rely on no dishonour falling on what has cost the Army such exertions to earn.
HORSE GUARDS, October 11, 1856.
Your letter from Balmoral has just reached me, and I am extremely glad to find that you share my views on the points I brought to your notice in my letters from the country, especially in regard to the appointment of our friend Brown to the appointment now vacant at Chelsea. By to-night’s post I have written privately to the Queen on the subject, recommending Brown, and should you have an opportunity of putting in a word in his favour I hope you will do so.
The Queen will probably have told you that Windham has, for private reasons connected with his late brother’s property, of which he has been left the manager under his will, requested to decline the appointment intended for him on the Staff in India. I do not know what Her Majesty will say to it, but he seems very positive about not going out, so I do not see how he can be positively ordered out against his will.
Recommends General Knollys for an appointment in India.
Should the Queen, therefore, consent to his relinquishment of the post, we must select another General Officer for India, and it occurs to me that the best selection I could make would be that of Major-General Knollys at present at Aldershot. He is intelligent and deserves to get on in his profession, and a turn of foreign service would be very useful to him, the more so as his present position at Aldershot is somewhat difficult, from the fact of all the troops composing the command having seen much service in the field, an advantage of which he has been most unfortunately for his own sake deprived. In India he has a great opening, and being a poor man, and the appointment on the Indian Staff a good one, I think he might be desirous to go, though I have in no respect named the subject to him. Should this arrangement be acceptable, I should propose that Sir Frederick Lowe 3 should succeed General Knollys in the command at Aldershot. He is a first-rate officer, most active, most energetic, of great experience and a perfect gentleman; in fact, he is the very man for the post, and depend upon it he would do it to perfection. I would further suggest that Major-General Eden, recently deprived of the Kilkenny District, which he had only held for a very short period, should succeed Sir Frederick Lowe at Jersey. Eden is an excellent man, but would do better in a quiet place than for active command. He is, moreover, a very poor man with a large family, so that Jersey would be the very thing for him, and his loss of the Kilkenny district has been very seriously felt by him. If you could, during your stay at Balmoral, assist me a little in these views, I should feel very much obliged to you. At present I have not named the subject to the Queen further than informing her of Windham’s determination not to go to India.
Inquiry as to Persian expedition.
What about this expedition to Persia which is fitting out at Bombay? I never heard from you one word about it. I shall be very glad to see you back in town, as there are many questions that remain to be settled and that must await your return.
HORSE GUARDS, October 17, 1856.
Brown declines offer of Lieut.-Governorship of Chelsea.
The Queen gave a very gracious assent to the Lieut.-Governorship being offered to Brown, but our friend, who I saw yesterday, has respectfully declined the offer thus made. He was much pleased at the consideration shown him, and moved to hear of it, and evidently felt that it was a very high compliment, but he said that as a matter of personal feeling he could not bring himself to say that his career was over, which would be the case, according to his views, if he were ever to lay down his head within the precincts of Chelsea Hospital. He has written a very proper letter, which I have sent to the Queen, who I hope will be satisfied with it. Who shall we now select? . . .
ST. JAMES’S PALACE, October 25, 1856.
Submitting a Memo, on arrangements for bringing the Army into closer relations with the Militia.
I have been waiting in the hope of seeing you here, and myself handing to you the enclosed memo., which I have drawn up on the general state of the Army, and the future arrangements necessary for bringing it more immediately in connection with the Militia. As, however, I do not yet hear of your coming southwards, 4 I will send this paper for your consideration, and hope you will generally agree with me in the views I have taken on the subject. I think it well to send it in now, as, if adopted, it may to some extent influence the estimates which you will have to prepare for the Militia services of the year, and you may also like to let Palmerston see it before your Cabinets meet, which they generally do during the month of November. Something of the sort I have proposed must be done if the Militia force is to be made really useful, and the great thing we want in this country is a Reserve force for the army, whence the latter can be easily and quickly recruited in time of war.
Retention of Supernumerary Lieutenants decided on Appointments.
I hear that the case of the Supernumerary Lieutenants 5 has been decided upon, and that they are to be retained. I am very glad of it, but I am at the same time very anxious to know what you will decide as to the mode for absorbing them. Pray bear in mind that it will be necessary to give some commissions from time to time, otherwise I fear the efficiency of the Army may in time suffer by a total stop being put to all first appointments, and a large list of candidates for commissions will be altogether disappointed in their hopes of ever getting into the service. What I should be disposed to suggest would be that every alternate appointment should be given to a candidate, and by this means we should be going on appointing and absorbing at the same time.
Trouble with the German Legion.
. . . I shall be very glad to see you in London, for I fear matters are not going on very well with the German Legion for the Cape, and I fear our friend the Baron has made rather a mess of it and disobliged all parties. Your presence is, therefore, much wanted to put matters right, and I hope you will do your utmost to hurry the departure of these Colonists, who are becoming daily more turbulent and disagreeable, and if this state of transition is to last much longer, I confess, I fear serious mischief may come of it. Stütterheim has managed to offend the officers I am afraid, and they have consequently not worked kindly for him. Had he got them on his side in the first instance, which he might have done with a very little management, I am certain all would have done well, and many men here would have accompanied him to the Cape. There has been much rioting at Colchester, which has now passed away, but at Brown Down there has been a most unpleasant occurrence, and hence my great anxiety to get the Colonists away and the rest of the Legion disbanded. Pray press this matter on. I want Colchester sadly for the Depots.
ST. JAMES’S PALACE, October 31, 1856.
Our friend Knollys has been sounded, with the Queen’s permission, as to going to India, and Yorke has this day received a letter from him to say that he declines going, and prefers remaining at his present post. This is very unfortunate, I think, but we must make the best of it, I fear.
Choice of a General to go to India.
We have been looking over the list to-day, and find it no easy matter to make a good selection. However, the following General Officers have occurred to me as the most eligible, Major-General Arbuthnot, Sir Hugh Rose, Sir Henry Barnard, or Major-General Gascoigne. . . . Would you let me know, as soon as possible, which of these you are most for, as certainly somebody ought to be sent out without loss of time, the post having already been kept too long vacant, from circumstances which could not be avoided? . . .
ST. JAMES’S PALACE, October 31, 1856.
Troubles of Officers of the German Legion.
The German Officers of the Legion are inundating me with letters and petitions. I have just had one, signed by a very numerous body of officers, representing to me their hard fate in very respectful terms. I forwarded this petition, as I do all those I get, to Kinloch, and I enclose his reply and some remarks from Stütterheim on the same subject. There can be no doubt that legally these men have no claim on the Government, but certainly the whole thing has turned out most unfortunately for them, the peace having come upon us before the Legion had an opportunity of doing anything. Had the war lasted, I doubt not the Legion would have done good service, and in that case the country would doubtless have done something permanent for the officers. It was with this hope and prospect that so many were induced to come, and now these poor devils are literally starving. I am afraid they will be a constant source of annoyance to us, unless they can be somehow got rid of. The three months’ gratuity is not sufficient to draw many of them from debt, and get them out of the country.
Do you not think that this gratuity might be somewhat increased to meet the circumstances of the case, and in order to get rid of all claims, or would you give a larger proportion of these men a free passage to the Cape, even though they cannot go out as Military Colonists? I think it would be well worthy of your serious consideration. The sooner we can get the Military Colonists off the better, for the long delay in their shipment is most inconvenient, and only gives rise to more discontent, as all sorts of agents are at work to prevent the men from going to the Cape, and to induce them to enlist in other services. I trust your gout is better, and I shall be glad to see you in London, when I hope you will resume your duties, arduous though they be, and will not think of retiring into private life as you hint in your note to me, as we cannot spare you from the important post you fill, and I should be personally very much grieved to see any change.