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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 39

TENTH DAY. - Wednesday, 28th March.

DR. LINTON, Deputy Inspector General of Hospital, examined.

Is in charge of the 1st Division. Has been with the division during the whole period since it landed in the Crimea. Up to the beginning of March remained on the heights with that part of the division which was encamped there; viz., the Guards, 97th Regiment and A and B Batteries of Artillery, but visited weekly the hospitals of the Highland Brigade, which have been at Balaklava since the beginning of October. Is not aware, that it has been necessary since the beginning of February, to give salt meat in hospital to any man to whose proper treatment fresh meat was indispensable; but on this point the Regiment Surgeons would be able to speak more accurately. On many occasions, however, there was a deficiency of supplies, arising partly from want of transport to carry them to the front, and partly from the articles required not being in store when the requisition was sent, or from their not being in sufficient quantity; at the same time, he believes, that his division was, at least, as well supplied as any other. There has been a good deal of scurvy in all the regiments of the 1st Division. Attributes the prevalence of that disease to the long course of salt meat, and the want of fresh vegetables. Lime-juice has for some time been supplied to the hospital, but it was not till about the beginning of March that it was issued to the men for duty. Had recommended, both in writing and verbally, the issue of lime-juice to the men for duty long before it could be obtained.

The diarrhoea and dysentery that have prevailed in the army have been connected with scorbutic tendency since the army landed. Symptoms of scurvy were distinctly observed in the 79th Regiment as early as the 20th September, or perhaps earlier.

Attributes this appearance of scurvy to diet, especially the deficiency of fresh vegetables. Scurvy has been diminished in the division since the beginning of March: attributes this favourable change to improved diet. The health of the men generally has much improved during the same time. Considers it of the greatest importance to the health of the men, that they should have a continuous supply of fresh meat for at least five or six days in the week during the hot weather, and would look with great apprehension to a return to salt rations for any considerable time at that season; also considers it important to have as large a supply as possible of fresh vegetables; and, in case at any time these could not be obtained, thinks it would be advisable to issue preserved potatoes and compressed vegetables. Within the last three days there has been an issue of soft bread for the hospital of the division: no issue of soft bread had previously been made to the division hospital. Is decidedly of opinion, that it would be highly beneficial to the men that they should have rations of soft bread at least four days in the week. Many of them have taken so great a disgust to the biscuit that they cannot eat it. Without having positive proof of the fact, has still a strong impression that the continued use of biscuit has tended to promote scurvy. Notwithstanding the improvement which has already taken place in the health of the men, is of opinion, that some time must yet elapse before they are in their normal state; and to bring them to that state considers it essential that they should be sufficiently supplied with fresh meat, fresh vegetables, and soft bread. Is of opinion, that one ration of rum and a pint of porter, either issued by the Government or purchased by the men, would be more beneficial to their health, especially during the hot weather, than two rations of rum. Is of opinion, that it would be both acceptable and beneficial to the soldier that the coffee should be issued ground. Is of opinion, that tea and coffee on alternate days

Evidence, page 40

would be acceptable, and if it were resolved to issue cocoa occasionally thinks it would not answer unless it were the prepared cocoa, which only requires boiling water to be poured over it; the men have not time or means to cook any other.

Desires to state, that when the troops landed in the Crimea the hospital marquees and equipments were left in the transports; a great part of these have not been recovered, and there has consequently been an unavoidable deficiency of hospital equipment: only the other day, when the guards moved down from the front, an application was made for a marquee and stretchers which had previously been supplied, and which was then in their camp on the heights, but which could not be brought down for want of transport.

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