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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. ii p. iii p. iv p. v p. vi

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL THE EARL OF LUCAN'S CASE.

[Page ii of the Report]

 The Earl of Lucan called our attention to the following passages in the Report of the Commissioners, pp. 20-21:-
  
Loss of horses during the winter."With reference to the effect of the deficiency of forage and the other privations to which the horses of the army were exposed, we have ascertained the loss among them from various causes in the Cavalry and Artillery. A summary of the returns obtained on that head will be found at page 193 of Appendix, which shows the loss attributable to sickness to be as follows, for the six months from October to March inclusive:-
 
  Strength. Died by Sickness. Ratio per cent of Deaths.
Heavy Cavalry1,05549347
Light Cavalry1,16143938
Artillery2,8321,19042
Total5,0482,12242
  
 "On referring to the loss sustained by the commissariat animals during the same period, it will be found rather less than in the cavalry or artillery; ...

[Page iii of the Report]

... the deaths among them having, according to a return furnished by Deputy Commissary-General Adams, amounted to about 889 out of 2,329, originally imported into the Crimea, or in the proportion of 38 per cent., a result which could scarcely have been expected, considering the advantages which cavalry horses might be supposed to have over hard-worked baggage animals, to whom little attention could be paid at such a period."
  
Shelter for Horses.Pp. 36, 37. - "The date at which the hutting of the cavalry commenced was in no case earlier than the end of January or beginning of February, and it was not completed before the middle of March, by which time the severity of the season had so far abated that this shelter was of comparatively little importance. Considering that these men were within about a mile of the store where the wood might be obtained, that they had no work in the trenches, and that the only duties likely to interfere with the application both of horses and men to this important object was the carrying up of their own forage from Balaklava, and furnishing parties occasionally to bring down sick, and carry up provisions to the front (which seems never to have occupied more than about a fifth part of the whole), it appears strange that more rapid progress was not made in obtaining the advantage of hut accommodation, particularly when they are described as having suffered so much in their tents.
  
 "Considering, also, the suffering and severe loss of horses from exposure to the weather in the commencement of the winter, there appears to have been a want of promptitude or ingenuity in devising for them some means of temporary shelter, such as saved the baggage horses of the sappers and miners at Balaklava. Experience has now proved that even a very moderate degree of shelter would have been sufficient to save the lives of many of the horses, if not to maintain them in serviceable condition: and it must be presumed that such measures were considered practicable, for a proposal to erect, with the assistance of his men, some sort of cover for the horses of the corps, appears to have been made by the officer commanding the Scots Greys, but the manner in which it is stated to have been received by the Lieutenant-General commanding the cavalry was calculated to deter other officers from making any similar proposal."
  
 With reference to these passages the Earl of Lucan proposed to show, that they contained animadversions on him as commander of the cavalry, and that they were unfounded (pp. 8, 21); and his Lordship objected, in particular -
 
  1. To the calculation of the Commissioners with respect to the deaths of the cavalry horses (Proceedings, p. 8);
  2. To the comparison instituted between the loss of horses sustained by the cavalry relatively with that of the commissariat (p. 9);
  3. To the statement respecting the period of the hutting the horses (p. 11);
  4. To the statement respecting the nature and amount of the duties to be performed by the cavalry soldiers (p. 17);
  5. To the statement respecting the hutting of the men (p. 19);
  6. To the statement respecting the providing temporary shelter for the horses (p. 21);
  7. To the statement respecting a proposal made to the Earl of Lucan by the officer commanding the Scots Greys to erect temporary shelter for his horses (p. 20).

[Page iv of the Report]

  
 In reply to these objections on the part of the Earl of Lucan, Colonel Tulloch alleged:-
 That the Commissioners had not animadverted on Lord Lucan's conduct (see Proceedings, pp. 48, 53, 54, 108, 109, 110, 113, 130, 139, 141, 165);
 That the statements alleged by Lord Lucan to be erroneous, were correct, - (see Proceedings, pp. 49, 50, 51, 54, 55); and that, if in some instances the statements were incorrect, it was owing to the Commissioners having been furnished with incorrect information by the officers in the Crimea, and that for this the Commissioners were not responsible. - See Proceedings, pp. 111, 140, 173.
  
 With regard to the passages above mentioned, we are of opinion that the remarks of the Commissioners therein contained amount to animadversions upon the conduct of the Earl of Lucan as commander of the cavalry.
 With regard to so much of those passages as is referred to in Objection 1, we are of opinion that the mode in which the per-centage of deaths has been stated by the Commissioners is calculated to convey an erroneous impression, inasmuch as, though the figures are perfectly accurate, neither the rate per-centage of deaths (contained in the table given at page 21 of the Report), nor the per-centage of deaths according to the average strength given in the summary subsequently furnished by Colonel Tulloch, give the actual per-centage of mortality.
 With regard to so much of those passages as is referred to in Objection 2, we are not enabled to offer an opinion thereon, as, on examining the returns which were furnished to us bye the Audit Office relative to the matter in question, we found that the difficulties of ascertaining the periods at which the commissariat animals arrived in the Crimea, and of distinguishing between those lost or stolen, and those that died, were so great as to render any comparison of deaths between them and the cavalry impossible.
 With regard to so much of those passages as is referred to in Objection 3, it appeared that the words "Shelter for Horses", as entered in the margin of the passage above set forth (page 36 of the Commissioner's Report), had inadvertently been annexed thereto, instead of to the following paragraph, to which they properly belonged.
 This was explained by Colonel Tulloch, and the Earl of Lucan's objection appeared to be thereby obviated (page 112).
  
Proceedings, p. 11.
Proceedings, p. 187. Appendix to Commissioner's Report, p. 3. Appendix, p. 3.
With regard to so much of those passages as is referred to in Objections 4 and 5, it appeared that after the cavalry went to Kadikoi, the hutting was not carried out until January or February, owing to delays and difficulties which appear sufficiently to explain it; inasmuch as, in addition to the ordinary duties of a cavalry soldier in the field, the duties performed by the cavalry from the 12th December to the 19th January, in conveying stores to the front, and afterwards in transporting the sick, materially interfered with the operation of hutting the men and putting up stables for the horses.
  
Pp. 57, 65, 86.The insufficiency and bad quality of the intrenching tools added to this difficulty.
  
Page 318.With regard to so much of those passages as is referred to in Objection 6, it was stated in evidence by Colonel Chapman, R.E., that -

"The temporary shelter erected for the baggage horses and mules of the sappers and miners were merely formed by a house and three other walls; there ...

[Page v of the Report]

... were three dwarf walls forming an inclosure of a court-yard against the house, and one end of a sail was stretched, as it might be, against that wall (the witness pointed to the wall of the Court), and the other end was brought down, and with a rope fastened to the dwarf wall on the opposite side; that was all the covering that we used for the shelter of the baggage animals; but a shelter of that sort is totally different from what would have been required by the cavalry in a place like the plateau; it is not a parallel case at all; what can be done in one place where there are walls, cannot be done in another where there is nothing of the sort."

  
Proceedings, pp. 55, 149,185. We completely concur in this opinion; and with regard to the general charge of "want of promptitude or ingenuity", as attaching to the cavalry under the command of Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan, it appears by the statement made to us by Colonel Tulloch, and by the whole course of his examination of witnesses, to have been founded on the assumption that tools and materials (including canvas) and labour, were either at hand or might have been procured from the fleet, or from Constantinople - an assumption which does not appear to be borne out by the evidence.
  
 The uncertainty with regard to the occupation of the plateau by the cavalry appears to us to form a very difficult element in the consideration of this matter, added to which, the difficulty of transport to that place was such, that even if it had been possible to have procured the before-mentioned tools and materials (including canvas), they could not have been there made available.
  
Proceedings, p. 180.It further appears, that after the cavalry arrived at Kadikoi, the Earl of Lucan was unceasing in his endeavours to erect shelter for the horses.
  
 With regard to digging pits as a means of shelter for the cavalry horses, the Earl of Lucan stated -
P. 185."In that country, with that soil - a soil that puddles after three or four hours' rain, consisting chiefly, as it did on the plateau, of a strong brick clay, I say that without a roof, or unless you could pave, any such trench as is talked of would have been totally useless, and it would have been mischievous, because it would very much have obstructed you in what is far more essential, namely, the constant removal of your horses. When you talk of a pit, a pit is not only useless, but it is perhaps the most mischievous thing into which you can possibly put a horse. It was attempted - and there is an officer in this Court now who could establish the truth of what I say if he were examined upon the subject - with the Land Transport; they did make pits for their horses, and those pits were dug on the side of the hills. Still, it was found impossible to drain them sufficiently, and the horses suffered so much that the Turks, who had charge of them, could not be got to use the pits after they were dug. In short, a pit that is neither roofed nor paved would be more appropriately called a grave than a pit."
  
Pp. 65, 67, 68, 74.This is borne out to a certain extent by the evidence of other officers, and we are of opinion that, unless materials existed for paving or covering those pits, they would have been attended with no advantage to the cavalry.
  
Pp. 27, 29, 81.
P. 181.
With regard to so much of the passages as is referred to in Objection 7, the question therein raised seems to relate to the motive which induced the ...

[Page vi of the Report]

... Earl of Lucan to threaten to put the officer commanding the Scots Greys (Colonel Darby Griffiths) under arrest.
  
Proceedings, p. 103, 112, 113, 114, 115.We were informed by Colonel Tulloch, that the Commissioners did not consider it consistent with their instructions to examine any of the officers who were stated to have been present on the occasion referred to, and we have not had an opportunity of doing so.
  
 Colonel Griffiths, by his answer to Question 66, does not appear to have ever contemplated erecting any shelter for his horses, but merely the digging of a drain in front and rear of them, provided he could obtain a guarantee from the Earl of Lucan that his camp would not be moved.
  
 Whatever may have been the misunderstanding between the Earl of Lucan and Colonel Griffiths, it does not appear by the evidence adduced that any officers were influenced by it. It is therefore to be regretted that such an inference has been sought to be established reflecting on Lieutenant-General the Earl of Lucan.
  
 Upon the whole, we are satisfied by the evidence, documentary and oral, adduced before us, and by a perusal of the Earl of Lucan's divisional orders and correspondence, that his Lordship used every exertion to meet the peculiar difficulties which he had to contend with, and that he is therefore not chargeable with neglect in the performance of the important duties attached to his command.
  

p. ii p. iii p. iv p. v p. vi
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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