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Report of the Board of General Officers

This presentation of the report (sometimes referred to as the Chelsea Board, or the "Whitewash" Board)is based on transcripts by Megan Stevens, and includes the page numbers of the original publication in order to maintain the validity of page references. It is arranged in the following sections:-

Title page
and
table of
contents
First
Report
(pp i-xxix)
Second
Report
(pp xxix-xxx)
Preliminary
Meeting
(p xxxi-xxxii)
Minutes
(parts
only)
Appendices
(parts
only)
Introduction Lord Lucan Lord Cardigan General Airey Colonel Gordon Commissary General Filder
p. vi p. vii p. viii

[Page vi of the Report]

MAJOR-GENERAL THE EARL OF CARDIGAN'S CASE.

 The Earl of Cardigan called our attention to the following passages of the Report of the Commissioners, as containing the statements of which he complained (p. 198):-
  
Pp. 19, 20."There is one case, however, from which such serious consequences have arisen, that it requires some special notice.
Want of forage in Light Cavalry Brigade."The Light Cavalry Brigade, which had for some time previously been stationed in the valley adjacent to Balaklava, was removed, first to the vicinity of head-quarters for two or three days, and thereafter on the 1st or 2nd of November to Inkermann, where it was stationed near the Windmill, a distance of at least seven or eight miles from Balaklava. This change, at a time when the roads were in an extremely bad state, and where there was great difficulty in obtaining the means of transport, created very serious obstacles to a proper supply of forage being obtained.
  
 "It is alleged by Deputy Assistant Commissary-General Crookshanks that there was a certain quantity of hay at Balaklava, but not the means of carrying it to the front; occasionally he managed to bring up a little, till the 14th November, when the supply failed entirely. After that date, the want of transport affected the supply of barley also, which on several days did not exceed 1 1/2 lb. to 2lbs. daily per horse, being all that they had to keep them alive. The returns of one of the regiments show that, for the last four days they were on the ground, the average was only about 2 1/2 lbs. for each horse, previously exhausted as they had been by the want of hay or straw during the early part of the month.

[Page vii of the Report]

"When the supply began to fail, the Commissariat Officer referred to, who appears to have done everything in his power to meet the difficulties of the case, proposed - as he knew there was plenty of barley at Balaklava - that if a detachment of the horses were allowed to go down daily he would engage to bring up enough for the rest of the brigade.
  
 "This proposition appears to have been brought specially under the notice of Lord Cardigan by Lieutenant-Colonel Mayou, Assistant Quartermaster-General of Cavalry, who states that his Lordship declined to accede to it, as he had previously done when a similar proposition was made to him to send the horses down for hay before that supply failed.
  
 "The whole brigade remained in this state till the 2d of December, when it was directed to return to its previous position, but by that time the horses were reduced to such a state from starvation, that they could no longer bear the weight of their riders; they had to be led down many were left on the ground in a dying state, and of the remainder, seventeen died on the road before they could reach their former station, a distance of only about six miles.
  
 "It is no part of our duty to enter into the military reasons which may have led to the detention of this brigade on a spot where the horses could not be foraged by the Commissariat, or which may have induced a refusal to adopt the only measure by which apparently they could be subsisted; we merely call attention to the fact, as one of the instances of a deficiency of supply which formed the special subject of an inquiry."
  
 His Lordship's complaint was -
  
 That the Commissioners had here charged him with having contributed to the ultimate inefficiency of the Light Brigade by his refusal to adopt a suggestion which, in the opinion of the Commissioners, was calculated to improve the condition of the brigade, viz., the sending of troop horses down to Balaklava for forage (p. 198).
  
 He contended that, in not adopting that suggestion, he had exercised a sound discretion, and one which was calculated to enable the brigade, so far as the difficulties permitted, to continue to discharge its various duties (p. 198).
  
 Inasmuch as had the horses been sent down, he thought it very uncertain whether they could have obtained supplies (p. 204).
  
 And further, because such a journey, in the then state of the roads, would in his opinion have caused a greater loss of horses than actually occurred from the insufficiency of the supplies (p. 205).
  
 He further contended that had he thought it expedient to send his horses to Balaklava, he should not have considered himself at liberty to do so; since the absence of so many as would have been required to convey the forage from Balaklava (for an indefinite number of hours) would have been inconsistent with the positive orders of Lord Raglan, that the Light Brigade should, for military reasons, retain that position (pp. 206, 207, 213, 219, 229).
  
P. 197.It appears, by Lord Cardigan's statement, that his Lordship did not demand an inquiry into his conduct, but that he gladly availed himself of the opportunity of appearing before the Board in order to enter more fully into the consideration of the remarks of the Commissioners in their Report, which refer to his command whilst with the Light Brigade of Cavalry in the Crimea.
  




P. 199, 200.
It appears that on the 2nd of November, the Light Brigade was moved to the heights of Inkermann, under a special arrangement between Lord ...

[Page viii of the Report]

... Raglan and the Commander-in-Chief of the French army, and continued in that exposed situation, for military reasons, until the 2d of December, the Earl of Cardigan having resigned his command on the 29th of November.
  
P. 201.After the storm of the 14th November, the men and horses were exposed to inclement weather. The rations of forage, owing to the diminution of means of Commissariat transport, were reduced, and towards the end of November the supplies of hay failed entirely.
  
 The Commissioners have charged Lord Cardigan with having contributed to the ultimate inefficiency of the Light Brigade by his refusal to adopt a suggestion which, in the opinion of the Commissioners, was calculated to have preserved the Light Brigade from the destruction that threatened it, namely, the sending the troop horses to Balaklava for forage.
  
P. 219.It appears that at the latter end of November the greatest number of horses in the encampment of the Light Brigade was 330, of which, owing to so many men being sick and absent, only 286 could be mounted.
  
 From this number it would have required 120 horses to have brought up forage from Balaklava. And to have detached so large a proportion of the force would have diminished it to such an extent as to have rendered it virtually useless for the purpose for which it had been placed in the position it occupied.
  
See evidence
of Sir R. Airey,
p. 219,
Question 1,146.
With reference, therefore, to the military reasons noticed by the Commissioners, it appears to us, that Lord Raglan alone could judge of the fitness of a measure; and that it could not have been resorted to without his sanction.
  
 He appears to have been made acquainted by the Major-General commanding the brigade, by the Lieutenant-General commanding the division, and by Commissary-General Filder, with the hardships which the cavalry were suffering. But there is no evidence to show that Lord Raglan's attention was particularly called to the proposal of the Assistant Commissary-General, that the horses should be sent to bring forage from Balaklava. What steps, therefore, might have been taken by Lord Raglan had that proposal been distinctly brought to his notice, can now be only matter of conjecture. The military reasons for keeping a large proportion of the cavalry in the position which they then occupied, seem to have rendered the case peculiarly embarrassing; for these reasons appear in some degree to have been irrespective of considerations of forage.
  
P. 86, Appendix to Commissioners' Report.
Letter of
4th December 1854,
from Quartermaster-General Airey to Commissary-General Filder, p. 86,
Appendix to Commissioners' Report.
The opinion, however, expressed by Lord Cardigan, that to have sent the horses for that purpose to a place so distant as Balaklava would only have augmented the losses of the brigade, although not in entire accordance with some of the opinions offered in evidence before us, appears to be supported by a reference to the difficulties experienced by the Royal Artillery at the same period. For it is in evidence, that the horses in that force were, on two occasions between the 23rd and 27th November 1854, at great wear and tear, sent down to Balaklava for hay, at the urgent request of the Commissariat, and on their arrival there it was found that no hay was procurable.

p. vi p. vii p. viii
Introduction Lord Lucan Lord Cardigan General Airey Colonel Gordon Commissary General Filder
Title page
and
table of
contents
First
Report
(pp i-xxix)
Second
Report
(pp xxix-xxx)
Preliminary
Meeting
(p xxxi-xxxii)
Minutes
(parts
only)
Appendices
(parts
only)
Analysis
of Index
(not
available)

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