Home About Sources Topics Background

Crimean texts

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 31

EIGHTH DAY. - Monday, March 26.

J.B. St. C. CROSSE, Surgeon 11th Hussars, examined.

Has been with the regiment ever since it landed in the Crimea. The sick have been accommodated in bell tents till the 1st February. Has always obtained whatever he wanted for the purposes of diet from the purveyor, by going for it himself. During November and December, the hospital had very little fresh meat. Not being able to feed the men on fresh meat, fed them on extras obtained from the purveyor. The requisitions for extras were not always complied with, but when he went himself was able to obtain some substitute. Cannot say that the sick have ever suffered from want of proper diet, because when the proper articles could not be obtained elsewhere, he used his own, or obtained what he wanted from the officers of the regiment. The officers were always ready to give whatever he required when they had it. During the time the sick were in bell tents, they had to lie upon the ground on blankets or a sack, and covered with their cloaks. In February, however, ten buffalo robes were issued for the hospital, there being at that time from 20 to 25 men in hospital. The prevailing diseases since landing in the Crimea were bowel complaints, sore legs, and fever. During September and October the bowel complaints were of a choleraic character. Thereafter sore legs became frequent; these he attributes to want of cleanliness, the lines being over the men's ankles in mud, and no means of removing it, and a deficiency of boots, socks, and drawers; several of the men were absolutely without either boots, flannels, socks, or shoes; in fact nothing to change when wet. In the latter end of November saw a man mounted with a boot on one foot only, and a part of a stocking on the other. There was a general deficiency at that time of boots in the regiment. The men had landed with their valises, but they were returned on board the transport, and the men came on with only the boots and clothes they stood in. They did not get back any of their valises till after the 14th November, many have not yet got them, and many of those recovered had been plundered of a great part of their contents. The hospital marquee and three stretchers, also private baggage containing pack-saddle, horse-clothing, boots, indiarubber bed, tub, basin, lantern, and other articles were left on board the "Trent", steamer, and though he has frequently been on board since, has been unable to recover any of those articles. Saw them placed in the mail-room, and made out two lists of his own baggage placed there, for which he asked a receipt, but was refused. The hospital canteens, left on board the same ship, were broken open, and several articles, tea, sugar, &c, abstracted. The sick are now in an hospital hut. They are much more comfortable there than in the tents; it is a comparative luxury. There have been several cases of scurvy since October. Attributes the scurvy to the long-continued use of salt meat, exposure, and fatigue. Is decidedly of opinion, that if the men had been more abundantly supplied with fresh meat and vegetables, they would have been more capable of resisting the other influences tending to produce disease. This has reference not merely to scorbutic diseases, but to the health of the men generally. The men of the 11th have been in the habit of throwing away large lumps of their salt meat ration, and had occasion to complain of it frequently. Is decidedly of opinion, that the quality of the salt meat, biscuit, and rum issued is good. Knows from personal experience, that after a certain time the stomach revolts against salt meat. Is decidedly of opinion, that for the purpose of restoring the men to a sound state of health, it would be absolutely necessary that they should have a more abundant supply of fresh meat, and a constant supply of vegetables. Fresh meat has

Evidence, page 33

been issued to the hospital four days a week upon an average during the present month. No soft bread has been issued to the sick since landing in the Crimea. The bread can only be got hot, and in that state he has found it so injurious to some of the sick that he has thought it necessary to forbid their buying it at all; but is of opinion, that bread a day old would be beneficial to the sick. There are, however, no means of keeping the bread for a day in camp, and consequently the sick are deprived of it altogether. Gets whatever he wants from the purveyor on requisition; is therefore satisfied with the manner in which the hospital is supplied. The result of his medical treatment was most unsatisfactory while the men were in tents, but since they have been in the hut the diseases have been much more amenable to treatment. Since the 10th of March, there have been several cases of fever of a typhoid character, rather aggravated, but they are all recovering. For the last five or six days has admitted only one cases of sickness, and that was rheumatism. The health of the men generally has much improved of late; the number of sick has been reduced to about half what it was in January. Has been able on all occasions to obtain the proper medicines for the hospital. Was in the habit always of going to the store himself, and when he could not get the medicine noted on his requisition, obtained a substitute which answered the purpose. Has nothing further to state, except that he experiences great difficulty from the restriction of the number of hospital orderlies to one man for every ten sick. The number of his being only ten, he is allowed by regulation only one orderly, who is called upon to attend the sick, constantly night and day, having typhoid fever, to get fuel, to carry water, to go to Balaklava for medicines and medical comforts, &c., which one man cannot accomplish; it has therefore been necessary to employ a second man, who is not an orderly, but a fatigue man. If the number of sick were reduced to five, the fatigue man would be sent to duty. To enable him to carry on the duties of the hospital, he is therefore obliged to keep up the present number of sick, and employ men convalescing from sickness. The quantity of wood supplied to the hospital is scarcely sufficient to cook one meal. The sickness in the Crimea is not to be attributed to excessive intemperance; only two cases can be traced to this cause. Attributes the sickness and mortality in the army not to climate, but to other causes. Has great cause of complaint to make respecting the want of transport for the sick.

Evidence, page 34

JOHN WYATT, Assistant-Surgeon, Coldstream Guards, examined.

Has been with the regiment since it landed in the Crimea. During the latter part of November, and in December and January, experienced at all times difficulty in procuring medical comforts for the hospital Made frequent requisitions for medical comforts and medicines, which were not complied with, on the ground that there were none in store: these requisitions were made on the divisional stores in front. During the prevalence of cholera could not obtain any brandy, and reported the circumstance through the Colonel of the regiment, who immediately purchased an abundant supply at Balaklava, which proved of the greatest benefit to the sick. Since the regiment came down here from the front, about three weeks ago, has experienced less difficulty in obtaining medical comforts; but for the first five days had great difficulty in obtaining the necessary medicines, and made a special report, through the Colonel, to the Brigadier on the subject. That difficulty has now almost ceased. Will furnish a return of some of the requisitions he made on the purveyor and medical store-keeper, showing the quantities furnished and the deficiencies. The sick, since the regiment has been at Balaklava, have been in huts. The huts answer very well as hospitals when side windows are constructed in them; the sickness is diminishing; the mortality is even more remarkably on the decrease.

There has been much scurvy in the regiment in various forms. This disease first showed itself in the beginning of December. It then appeared in the usual form; complicated with dysenteric affections, which, on post-mortem examination, were ascertained to proceed from scurvy. Attributes the disease to the long use of salt meat and biscuit, and the want of vegetables, as the exciting causes acting on constitutions depressed by exposure and fatigue. Is of opinion, that if the men had been more abundantly supplied with fresh meat and vegetables they would have been better able to resist the other causes of disease.

Is of opinion, that it is of great importance to the future health of the men, that they should now have fresh meat and soft bread as frequently as possible.

Is of opinion, that a recurrence to a diet of salt meat and biscuit during the hot weather would be highly deleterious to the health of the troops; entertains no doubt on this subject.

There has been very little intemperance in the regiment since it has been in the Crimea; in fact, the men have not had the means of obtaining intoxicating drinks.

Desires to state, that he attaches the greatest importance to the continuous supply of fresh vegetables for the men and of soft bread for the sick, many of whom can neither eat meat nor biscuit. Desires also to state, that he attributes a considerable proportion of the mortality that has occurred to the necessity in which he was placed of treating acute diseases in hospital tents, the sick for a long period being placed on the ground without any substitute for beds, and to

Evidence, page 35

the want of transport to remove the sick at the proper time. Requisitions were frequently made for boards and tressels for the hospital, but up to the month of February only sic could be obtained. Thinks that the substitution of porter for one of the rum rations would have a beneficial effect on the men. Is not of opinion, that the use of a limited quantity of porter would be objectionable, even if symptoms of cholera should unfortunately appear amongst the troops.

Mr. Wyatt, Assistant-Surgeon, Coldstream Guards, in forwarding the inclosed copy of his evidence corrected, desires to add the following remarks, which escaped him during his examination:-

1. That when it has become necessary to remove officers from the camp, during the past winter, on account of sickness, very great delay has occurred in procuring the necessary official leave: a case in point can be illustrated: Lieutenant-Colonel Strong, of Coldstream Guards, being affected with frost-bitten feet, it became absolutely necessary that he should be removed from the camp. On the 10th of January an application was made, through the proper official channels, for a medical board to assemble, and report on his case; on the evening of the 11th the usual notification appeared in General Orders. No authority was transmitted by the chief medical officer to the Inspector-General of this division, but still the Medical Board did assemble on the 14th upon the strength of the General Order; and upon the 16th, just six days after the application had been made, this officer was enabled to leave the camp for Balaklava, en route to Malta, having suffered considerably by the delay, as it was during the coldest weather.

2. That after repeated applications had been made for a marquee, for the use of the sick, two were furnished us, at different periods, from the stores of the Quartermaster-General's Department at Balaklava, one having no ropes to sustain it; and the other, at a subsequent date, without either ropes or sidewalls.

Home About Sources Topics Background