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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. xv p. xvi p. xvii p. xviii p. xix

[Page xv of the Report]

THE HONOURABLE COLONEL GORDON'S CASE.

 Colonel Gordon called the attention of the Board, in the first instance, to the following statements, which had been made by Colonel Tulloch during the course of the proceedings before the Board; and which statements he considered to be incorrect as regarded himself, and prejudicial to him if left unchallenged:-
  
 I. - A statement to the effect that all the originals of the evidence given by the officers in the Crimea were sent to them for correction.
  
 Colonel Gordon said that this was not done in certain instances with his evidence; and that the evidence that was submitted to him, and which purported to be an original, was materially different from the actual original (pp. 343-4).
  
 II. - A statement with regard to Colonel Wetherall's evidence, viz.:-
  
Commissioners'
Report, p. 210.
"Those notes were never introduced into the body of the evidence, because the marked difference between what was received in the one case, and acknowledged in the other, showed that the inquiry would lead to no beneficial result, and I therefore struck out the whole of the latter part of the memorandum, and in that state it was subsequently sent to Colonel Gordon for Colonel Wetherall, along with his evidence, to save the trouble of re-copying it."
 

[Page xvi of the Report]

 Colonel Gordon said that the memorandum there mentioned was never sent to him, and that he never saw it till he saw it printed in this country (p. 344-5).
  
 III. - Colonel Gordon also complained of Query 7, . 200, of the Commissioners' Report (Evidence), as attributing to him a statement which he had never made, and containing assertions which were entirely incorrect (p. 346.).
 
"7. You state (page 169 of your evidence) as a reason for not making these issues that you thought 'when the men had two blankets, a sheepskin coat, a fur cap, a pair of leggings, a waterproof hood, one-third of a buffalo robe, two guernsey frocks, two pair of winter boots, a comforter, and two pairs of gloves, as well as an extra suit of uniform, &c', that they were not so badly off. Were you aware, when you made this statement, that the returns received from the Quartermaster-General's Department show that the articles, of which the non-issue is complained of, arrived at Balaklava between the 21st and 28th of November, while those to which you refer (with the exception of the blankets) were not received till near the middle of January? How, then, could the issue of the latter have operated as a reason for the non-issue of the former, when they were not available for at least six weeks after the 28th November, during which period the sufferings of the men from want of sufficient clothing were at their greatest height?" 7. This question assumes as a fact that which I have not stated, and contains assertions which I believe to be entirely incorrect; I must, therefore, decline entering on a question founded in error.
 IV. - Also of the following paragraph, p. 26 of the Report, the accuracy of which he unequivocally denied (p. 348-9):-
  
 "it will be observed, that Colonel Gordon in his evidence, assigns as a reason for the non-issue of many of these supplies, that he conceived the men had enough, and he enumerates a long list of articles supplied to them; but he overlooks the fact, that the greater number of these were not issued till about the end of February, whereas the period during which the men principally suffered, was in the months of December and January, when it appears that there were supplies enough in hand to have averted much of that suffering."
  
 V. - Also of the following paragraph (p. 27 of Report), which he considered to be wholly unsupported by the evidence (p. 349-50):-
 

[Page xvii of the Report]

 "One of the reasons assigned for not issuing the regimental great-coats, was, that the regulations of the service, as established by the Queen's Warrant, did not authorize such issue more frequently than once in three years. The proportion of corps in the Crimea entitled to them in terms of that Warrant was very limited, and it does not appear that any instructions dispensing with its restrictions were received there, or that any intimation was given of the intention with which they were sent out. Had an application been made, however, it is not probable that the General commanding would have refused to authorize, on his own responsibility, the distribution of articles of clothing which were likely to contribute to the health and efficiency of the troops; and if the Quartermaster-General doubted his own powers in this matter, it appears to us that he ought to have applied for that authority." -
  
 VI. - Colonel Gordon also complained of the following paragraph, in p. 24 of the Report, as implying that he had not sufficient grounds for the statements which he had made to the Commissioners as a witness (p. 347-8):
  
 "It will be seen from the evidence of Colonel Gordon, then Assistant Quartermaster-General, that he attributes the non-recovery of the knapsacks at an early period to the General Officer of Divisions, with the exception of the Duke of Cambridge, preferring not to receive them. On referring, however, to two of the officers who commanded divisions on that occasion, one of them states positively that no such offer was made to him; another, that he has no recollection of it, though it may have been so; the third being absent, we have had no opportunity of communicating with him on the subject.
  
 VII. - Colonel Gordon also said -
  
 "A point upon which I think I have some reason to complain, is the fact that after having obtained from Major Wetherall and myself, and from numerous other officers, the materials from which these portions of their Report to which I have been adverting were drawn up, the Commissioners should not have put to Sir Richard Airey, the Quartermaster-General, in justice to himself, as well as to his subordinate officers, a single question upon the subject, either of the knapsacks, or the issue of clothing, which had unquestionably formed in their minds, from an early period, so important a feature of the inquiry. I was shown by Sir Richard Airey the questions (sixty-three in number) which were sent to him, as containing the points upon which the Commissioners required information, and finding that there was not one relative to the issue, or non-issue, of clothing, or to the knapsacks, I had every right to conclude that the evidence of Major Wetherall and myself had on the subjects been deemed satisfactory." (p. 351.)
  
 Complaints I.-II. - With respect to the subjects referred to in complaints I. and II., after giving due consideration to the reasons set forth by Colonel Tulloch in his paper marked B, in explanation thereof, we entirely acquit the Commissioners of being actuated by any improper motives in adopting the course complained of by Colonel Gordon; inasmuch as, with respect to the evidence given to the Commissioners by Colonel Gordon, we think that the Commissioners were under the impression that that officer had sufficient opportunity of correcting it.
 

[Page xviii of the Report]

P. 344.But as that impression does not appear to have been correct, we are of opinion that Colonel Gordon's complaint, in this respect, is not without foundation.
  
 With respect to Colonel Wetherall's evidence -
  
P. 344.The Commissioners refer to the fact of Colonel Wetherall's absence from the Crimea in explanation of the circumstance of his evidence not having been signed by that officer. They forwarded it to Colonel Gordon on the 4th June, 1855, apparently with the intention of procuring its signature and revisal by Colonell [sic] Wetherall, overlooking, however, the circumstance of Colonel Wetherall being at that time in Constantinople; for it appears that after Colonel Wetherall's examination was finished, viz. on the 28th May, he applied to the Commissioners to know whether he might leave the Crimea, and the Commissioners, having consulted together, stated that they had nothing further to ask from him; that they had ascertained all they wished as to the clothing, and he was perfectly at liberty to go to Constantinople. He accordingly left Balaklava, either on the 31st May or the 1st June (p. 281, Question 1,288.)
  
 His evidence was returned to the Commissioners by Colonel Gordon without alteration.
  
Pp. 375-6.The Commissioners state that they were led to believe, in consequence, that its correctness was admitted, even though Colonel Wetherall's signature was not appended.
  
P. 249.The value, however, of the evidence given by the officer who was charged with the apportionment of the articles in store, and the importance of that portion of Colonel Wetherall's evidence which was omitted when the other portion was forwarded to Colonel Gordon for correction, both bearing upon the delays and omissions supposed to have occurred in supplying the troops with comforts that were available, induce us to express our regret that Colonel Wetherall's attention had not been particularly called by the Commissioners to these points, and to the absence of his own signature; especially as, with reference to the non-issue of various articles of clothing, the Commissioners appear to have formed conclusions which subsequent explanations, and a comparison of returns, do not warrant.
  
 Complaint III. - Colonel Gordon's complaint of Query 7, page 200 of the Commissioners' Report, as founded upon incorrect assumptions of what he had said, appears to be borne out by a reference to page 169 of the Commissioners' Evidence, where Colonel Gordon gives, as a reason for not issuing a rug, a third blanket, and second great-coat to the men, that there was not a sufficient quantity in store previous to the arrival of other warm clothing, "and not to his considering they were not so badly off".
  
See
Commissioners'
Report,
Appendix,
pp. 100-101.
The supplies of the articles enumerated in the following list, are shown to have been authorized as soon as possible after they were landed and received into store:-
  
  First Arrivals
 Sheepskin coatDecember 28.
 Fur capJanuary 20.
 Pair of leggingsFebruary 9.
 Waterproof hoodFebruary 9.
 Buffalo robeDecember 25.
  

[Page xix of the Report]

 Guernsey frockNovember 21.
 DrawersDitto.
See Appendix to Commissioners' Report, p. 62.SocksDitto.
 Winter bootsJanuary 30.
 ComforterDecember 24.
 GlovesJanuary 6.
 CoateeNovember 28.
 TrousersDitto
Commissioners'
Report,
Appendix,
p. 117.
The first of these supplies, consisting of the articles most wanted, namely, Guernsey frocks, drawers, and socks, commenced before the end of November, they having arrived on the 21st of that month; and the assertion that the greater number of them were not issued till about the end of January or beginning of February, appears to be disproved by the returns above referred to.
  
P. 850,
Commissioners'
Report.
Evidence,
p. 163.
Complaints IV.-V. - In our observations on Complaint No. III, we have commented by anticipation on Complaints Nos. IV. and V., and we may here add, that so far from the Quartermaster-General having doubted his own authority, or delayed making an application to the Commander-in-Chief, as supposed by the Commissioners (Report, p. 27), it appears that Lord Raglan at once dispensed with the forms that interferred [sic] with the issue of great-coats, and of any other articles that were required for the use of the troops.
  


P. 348.
Complaint VI. - With regard to Complaint No. VI., Colonel Gordon called our attention to the evidence which he had given to the Commissioners, and intimated that it contained a correct statement of the matter. He then said, "As the Commissioners have not thought it necessary to state the names of the two Generals to whom they applied, or to insert the correspondence which passed on the occasion, so neither do I wish to introduce into this explanation any matter of a mere personal nature between the Generals of Division and myself; I will, therefore, merely repeat the steps taken by the Quartermaster-General to enable them to obtain the knapsacks of their men."
  
 With respect to the recovery of the knapsacks, we have given our opinion thereon in our report on Sir Richard Airey's case.
  
 Complaint VII. - With regard to complaint No. VII, we think that Colonel Gordon might reasonably infer, from the circumstances therein detailed, that the evidence of himself and Colonel Wetherall had been deemed satisfactory by the Commissioners.
  

p. xv p. xvi p. xvii p. xviii p. xix
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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