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McNeill/Tulloch Commission of Enquiry

This presentation 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:-

Evidence, page 1


FIRST DAY, Friday, March 16, 1855.

COLONEL CAMERON, commanding Highland Brigade, formerly commanding 42nd Foot, examined.

Is acquainted with the different articles supplied to his brigade by the Commissariat. The ration consists of coffee and sugar for breakfast and evening meal, with biscuit, the dinner of salt pork or beef with biscuit, and generally rice or barley, and at present peas in addition. There has never been an occasion, except on the day of the gale, when the men could not get their rations; this applies to the whole time since he has been quartered before Sebastopol. There was a deficiency of rice and barley for about ten days at the end of December, and in the month of November, after the gale, there were about nine days during which no sugar was issued. No issue of preserved meat has been made to the men. For the last month or five weeks there has been a daily supply of one pound per man of potatoes, and all along they have had onions. The quantity of onions supplied, was sufficient to flavour the food, but not to constitute an article of diet. Since the men have been getting vegetables and peas, they have been able to eat their rations of salt meat, but for some time previously it had become so nauseous to them, that in some cases it was thrown away. The vegetables, excepting the onions, have been supplied to the men free of expense.

The cooking is now carried on by three men per company, told off for that purpose; but for a considerable time the men were without camp-kettles, and were consequently obliged to cook their victuals, each for himself, in his own mess tin; the messing at that time was therefore very irregular.

The average number of sick present, out of a strength of 750 men, has been about 60, and of sick absent, nearly 150. The prevalent disease has been diarrhoea, attributed by the medical men to the continued use of salt provisions, and also to wet feet.

Is of opinion, that a supply of soft bread would be most acceptable to the men, and would tend to improve their health. An increased issue of fresh meat would also be most acceptable to the men.

The men have been completely hutted since about the 1st of February. The huts have contributed much to their comfort. The first hut was taken up on the 18th of January. The tents now pitched in the lines are intended for lavatories: a few are also used by the piquets.

For about two months from the 25th of October, while the Russians were on our front, the men had probably not two nights successively in bed; now they have about five.

From the middle of December to about the middle of January the men of the Highland Brigade had heavy fatigue duty, carrying provisions and

Evidence, page 2

ordnance to the front. The number employed on this duty for the time above-mentioned was from 200 to 250 daily from each regiment; the distance performed by the men every day was five miles with a burden, and five miles returning without it. This was at the time when the roads were in their worst state.

The men have also had to construct the lines in their own front, and were for some time obliged to drag up firewood from the beach outside the harbour of Balaklava.

The men have not, during the cold weather, had adequate means of washing themselves, or keeping themselves clear of vermin, from which they have suffered to some extent; but since they have had huts that evil has diminished.

The first issue of warm clothing was made to the 42nd Regiment on the 1st of December, when each man received one woollen Jersey, one pair of flannel drawers, and one pair of woollen socks; they also at the same time received 300 comforters, and 300 pairs of woollen mits; similar clothing was issued to the other regiments forming the Highland Brigade. Various other issues of warm clothing were made during the early part of January, of which the Quartermaster will furnish a memorandum.

The spirit ration has always been regularly issued, except once or twice; it consists at present of one gill per day.

The quality of the biscuit as well as the beef issued has been very good, but the pork has been too fat for the taste of the men.

On the whole Colonel Cameron is disposed to say, that the men have been well supplied with the rations which were issued. Has nothing further to state in regard to the subject of inquiry.

COLONEL ROLLO, commanding 42nd Regiment,

concurs entirely in what has been stated by Colonel Cameron.

MR. WILLIAM WOOD, Quartermaster, 42nd Regiment, examined.

Appendix, p. 45.
Appendix, p. 116.

Has been Quartermaster ever since the regiment was in the Crimea. It is his duty to receive all the rations for the regiment. Submits a return, showing every occasion on which there has been a deficiency of the regulated rations, the nature of such deficiency, and the date upon which it occurred. Also a return of the date and amount of each issue of warm clothing for the regiment.

Is of opinion, that the articles issued as rations to the troops have been of as good quality as at other stations of the army, except that when Turkish rice was issued, it required a great deal of cleaning, and the sugar is not so good as that issued at Bermuda and in Canada.

The only complaint that the men have made of their rations is, that they have been kept so long upon salt meat. Has frequently observed lying about the camp whole pieces of salt beef and pork thrown away by them, which it was his duty to get buried. The men would very much desire to have soft bread for several days in the week instead of biscuit. They are now buying from the bakers in Balaklava a loaf of about 1½ lb at 1s. per loaf as frequently as they can get it.

The daily ration at present consists of

On the 6th December vegetables, brought by the "Harbinger", and which it was understood were to be paid for, were supplied to such of the men as desired to purchase them; it was ultimately, however, determined, that the men were not to be charged for them. The first supply from this source lasted about three days. About two-thirds of the men participated in this supply,

Evidence, page 3

and then a supply was obtained by the men gratis from the same source, which lasted about a fortnight.

Is of opinion, that an issue of tea in place of coffee would be very acceptable to the men, and that it would desirable to have more frequent issues of fresh meat and soft bread.

Has nothing further to state in regard to the subject of inquiry.

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