McNeill/Tulloch Commission of Enquiry
Evidence, page 65
FIFTEENTH DAY. - Tuesday, 3rd April.
- How are you occupied here?
- - I am in charge of Quartermaster-General's stores.
- That, I presume, includes the supplies of warm clothing which have been sent out by the Government?
- - Yes.
- Could you furnish me with information of the date of arrival of the different ships which have arrived with warm clothing, and the dates of the distribution of their cargoes?
- - Not with the dates of their arrival.[Appendix, p. 61.]
- Can you tell us when the first cargo of warm clothing for the troops was landed?
- - Can furnish the information from the 5th December, 1854, when I took charge.
- Who was in charge before?
- - Assistant-Storekeeper Hunter of the Commissariat.
- What was the first cargo or consignment of warm clothing that was landed after you took charge?
- - The "Ottawa", on the 5th December.
- After you took charge of the store, when did you begin to distribute such articles?
- - On the same day.
- Can you furnish a return of the articles in store when you took charge?
- - Yes, I can.
- After the "Ottawa", which was the next arrival?
- - The "Queen of the South".
- What was the date of her arrival?
- - The date of landing her stores was the 7th and 8th December, 1854. Cannot state the date of her arrival in the harbour.
- Do you consider yourself called upon to take charge of any stores that may be afloat in the harbour for your department?
- - There are stores afloat in the harbour consigned to the care of the Commissary-General which are nominally in my charge, but which I never see. These are regimental necessaries, the bills of lading for which are delivered to me, and which cannot be issued without my order. The bills of lading state only the number of bales or packages, and not their contents. The captain of the ship delivers the bales to my order, taking a receipt, and makes me a return vouched by these receipts and my orders; the return being compared with the bill of lading shows how much of the cargo has been issued, but of the contents of the bales I know nothing. The "Orient", transport No. 78, is the receiving ship for these articles, and the captain of that ship has been appointed to take charge of them, and issue them in the manner referred to.
- What are the stores of which you especially take charge?
- - Quartermaster-General's stores; such as warm clothing and camp equipments; and commissariat stores, such as saddlery and other articles consigned to me for the use of the commissariat and transport branch of that establishment.
- You have said, that you can furnish a return of the Quartermaster-General's stores which you found in store on taking charge; can you also furnish a return of the stores of the same description since received?
- - Yes; the stores originally handed over to me were received as corresponding with the return of "remaining in store" furnished by the storekeeper, but there were no means for want of time and space to verify that return.[Appendix, p. 91 to p. 99.]
- Can you also furnish a return of the daily issues from your store?
- - Yes, I can.[Appendix, p. 100 [?] to [?] p. 108.]
- Is it consistent with your personal knowledge that there was often, from various causes, great delay in landing stores of that description?
- - Yes, there was.
Evidence, page 66
- Can you state any of the causes of that delay?
- - In some instances it may have occurred from there not being sufficient boats to land the stores; in others, the captains stated to me, that the stores were stowed under other articles which could not at the time be landed; it has also occurred, that the stores could not be landed for want of space to receive them; it has occurred frequently in consequence of the withdrawal of the fatigue parties attached to my store. This last, I think, was the most frequent cause.
- Did you make any representations of the delay caused by the withdrawal of the military fatigue parties?
- - Yes; on more than one occasion.
- Can you furnish copies of those representations?
- - I can.
- You have stated that one of the causes of delay in landing the warm clothing for the troops was the difficulty of obtaining boats?
- - That was stated to me by the captains of the transports.
- What did you do in that case?
- - Referred them to the agent for transports, for the means of landing the stores.
- Did you make any communication to the agent for transports?
- - None; I represented it personally to the officers of the Quartermaster-General's Department.
- Who were they?
- - Major McKenzie, Major Wetherall, and Captain Ross.
- Did you make any representations on the same subject to the Quartermaster-General's Department?
- - Personally, I did; but not officially. I was not in official communication with the Quartermaster-General's Department.
- Seeing that such difficulties existed in regard to storage ashore, and the conveyance of the clothing from the ship to the landing-place, do you see any difficulty in a certain number of men of each regiment being sent by detachments to the ship, where the bales could have been opened, and as many blankets assigned to each as he could carry up for himself and comrades?
- - I do not see any difficulty as far as my own particular duties are concerned, but I do not consider myself competent to determine what other difficulties there might have been.
Balaklava, December 6, 1854.
I have to bring under your notice that the stowage provided for the reception of Quartermaster-General's stores here is quite inadequate, and that unless immediate steps to be taken to allot to this service considerable additional storeroom the landing of more stores must of necessity be suspended.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W.S. ARCHER,
Balaklava, December 7, 1854.
I have the honour to transmit for your perusal and information the accompanying report, which I have received from the commissariat officer in charge of Quartermaster-General's stores at Balaklava, representing that unless steps are immediately taken to provide considerable additional storeroom the landing of any further quantities of the stores in question will have to be suspended.
I have, &c.
(Signed) WILLIAM FILDER,
Balaklava, December 7, 1854.
I beg most urgently to bring under your notice, that the service of this Department has, throughout the day, been seriously impeded by the withdrawal
Evidence, page 67
of the usual fatigue labour necessary to the storing of goods landed from vessels in harbour.
In consequence of this, regiments and divisions have had their applications neglected, although what they have required might have been available throughout the day but for the absence of the means to receive them into store.
Our operations have been so impeded, that unless immediate steps be taken to secure to us the necessary assistance without interruption, the efficiency of this branch of service will be much impaired.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W.S. ARCHER,
Balaklava, December 19, 1854.
I beg most urgently to bring under your notice, that the operations of this Department are almost entirely suspended from the continual withdrawal of the usual fatigue labour attached to this service.
This is now the sixth day that vessels with stores are unable to land them in the absence of the fatigue parties appointed for the purpose, and unless immediate steps be taken to ensure uninterruptedly the necessary assistance, I apprehend considerable difficulty in maintaining a proper efficiency in this branch of the service.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W.S. ARCHER,
Commissary-General Filder, C.B.,
Balaklava, January 24, 1855.
Upon my representation of the crowded state of this yard, and the impossibility of receiving stores now accumulated at the wharf here, the Quartermaster-General has directed that a portion of the stores should be lodged in huts about a mile outside town, and this has been carried into effect.
As it is desirable that I should be relieved from responsibility for stores so far removed from my immediate custody, I have the honour to submit for your consideration, whether in this case, as has been done in that of stores forwarded to head quarters, I should be furnished with a covering requisition of the Quartermaster-General as for stores removed from my charge by that Department.
I have, &c.
(Signed) W.S. ARCHER,
- How long have you been employed in your present duties?
- - Since the landing of the troops in the Crimea.
- I understand your duties to be more especially connected with the outdoor duties of the Commissariat Department?
- - It has been so.
- Have you had occasion especially to be acquainted with the disposal of the transport of the army?
- - I have.
- At what time did you find that the transport was insufficient to perform, or begun to be insufficient to perform, the duties required of it?
- - After the hurricane; I think not before.
Evidence, page 68
- Could you state the time at which your transport power was at its lowest?
- - Between the 10th and 16th December.
- When you began to import a part of the reserve cattle left at Constantinople, were the importations more than sufficient to replace the casualties that occurred before the reinforcements arrived?
- - They would have been quite equal to the wants of the service if they had arrived in due time.
- My question had reference to the relative amount of transport before and after the reinforcements began to arrive, not to the positive adequacy of its amount?
- - It was in a better relative position after the arrival of the reinforcements; the transport power was increased.
- What weight were you transporting in the shape of rations daily?
- - Probably about 130,000 lbs., exclusive of forage.
- When the roads were at their worst and impassable for carriages, what weight could be put upon your pack animals?
- - From 160 to 224 lbs.
- What time did they then take to get to the front?
- - At the worst time I should say, they have sometimes been from 24 to 36 hours in reaching their respective divisions.
- Do you attribute their occupying that length of time in any degree to neglect or mismanagement on the part of the persons in charge of them?
- - Sometimes I have no doubt to the neglect of the parties in charge of them, but generally to the impassable state of the roads.
- Were the casualties at that time among the animals very numerous?
- - They were, according to the severity of the weather.
- Can you state, or could you furnish me with a statement of the amount of commissariat transport employed for other than commissariat purposes, during the time the army has been before Sebastopol?
- - I think it can be furnished partially, but not completely; from the circumstances in which we were placed, it was impossible to keep notes of all these transactions.
- Was any attempt made to form a commissariat depôt in front?
- - Yes, near Lord Raglan's.
- When did that operation commence?
- - I think early October.
- How long was it carried on?
- - Till about the 26th October, and there after as far as far as practicable.
- What progress was made in forming this depôt?
- - There was at one time about ten days supply of biscuit, and five or six of salt meat, rum, and groceries, such as coffee, sugar, and rice.
- What prevented your proceeding further with the formation of this depôt?
- - An order from Lord Raglan to convey shot, shell, and ammunition, for siege purposes.
- Do you not consider it the duty of the commissariat to provide animals for siege purposes?
- - Animals were provided for the transport of reserve ammunition, and handed over to the respective divisions; and those animals as well as the artillery horses and waggons, were in standing camp applicable to the purposes of the siege.
- Then am I to understand that the transport retained by the commissariat was not intended to be applied for siege purposes?
- - It was not.
- In determining the amount of transport for commissariat purposes, was the carriage of fuel contemplated?
- - It was not.
- When the army arrived here, was there in fact any difficulty in obtaining fuel in the vicinity of the camp?
- - Not for cooking purposes, when we first arrived.
- Are you able to state what number of men were employed, and for what time in carrying rations to the front?
- - I am not.
- Have the divisional officers at all times been able to carry the regulated ration to the front?
- - Not during the great severity of the weather and the almost impassable state of the roads.
- Are you able to state whether there were always in Balaklava the means of supplying those rations?
- - Including the ships in the harbour, there were always the means.
- Was it always possible to land from the ships the articles included in the ration, of which there was not a supply on shore?
- - By the attention given to land what was most wanted, I am disposed to think that there never was an absolute deficiency on shore of the articles required for the day, with the exception of sugar, which on one occasion, could not be landed for a day or two.
Evidence, page 69
- The difficulty then in supplying the rations, was the difficulty of conveying it to the front?
- - While the carts could be employed, the requisite quantity of biscuit and other articles could be laden on the wharf in a comparatively short time; but when the roads became impassable for carts, to load the same quantities on pack animals occupied at least six times as long. Also while the roads were good, the carts generally got to their divisions in from three to four hours, and returned the same day. When the roads became so bad that it was necessary to use only pack animals, those which set out early in the day generally occupied about seven hours to get to their divisions; those which set out late in the day, a much longer time frequently not returning until the following morning, and sometimes not until the lapse of another day.
- Did all the difficulties you have stated arise from the want of a road passable for carts?
- - Certainly.
- If there had been a road passable for carts, would the commissariat transport present here at that time have been sufficient for all commissariat purposes?
- - Quite ample I should think.
- If the road had at all times been fit for transport by carriages, could the commissariat have supplied the troops in front, notwithstanding the calls made upon them for siege operations?
- - I am of opinion that they could.
- Has the commissariat provided transport for fuel for the troops in front?
- - Not for the troops, but for the hospitals, as far as practicable.
- How have the troops in front been supplied with fuel?
- - By the regimental and private pack animals since fuel was issued, and by the reserve ammunition animals, I think.
- Are you of opinion, that if the plan of forming the depôt at head quarters had been carried out to the extent contemplated, it would have greatly diminished your difficulties, notwithstanding the bad state of the roads?
- - I think it would.
- You have stated, that the formation of the depôt was interrupted by an order to furnish transport for siege and other purposes; when you found, that transport for those purposes was required, would it not have been advisable to import additional transport for the purpose of completing your depôt?
- - The Commissary General will be better able to explain this.
- Has any portion of the commissariat transport been diverted to other purposes except what you have already stated?
- - Yes; an importation for commissariat purposes of 237 Spanish mules, have been, by the Field Marshal's directions, employed in carrying up huts almost constantly since their arrival.
- Were all the casualties that occurred in the transport to be attributed to disease or death, or were some stolen?
- - Many were stolen; some of which have been recovered.
- Do you attribute the fact of their being stolen to neglect on the part of the drivers, or to the difficulty in the then state of the roads of looking after them and keeping them together?
- - Partly to one and partly to the other.
- Were all the commissariat animals branded?
- - I believe all, but I am somewhat doubtful about one lot of some fifty or sixty horses from Eupatoria, the emergencies of the service not admitting of their being branded at the time of their arrival.
- Could an approximate return be furnished of the total number of transport animals brought to the Crimea for commissariat purposes?
- - I think it could.
|Transport imported into the Crimea since the landing of the army on the 14th September, 1854:-|
||Horses and mules
| ||Maltese carts||296|
|The transfer to the Land Transport Corps is not yet completed; the numbers will be about,|
| ||Horses and mules||1,200|
| ||Maltese carts||200|
Evidence, page 70
|Issued for regimental and other purposes:-|
|In possession of Commissariat Storekeepers, Conductors, Interpreters, and Orderlies, &c.:-|
|Died and shot at the Sick Depôt at Karani, since tnorulehe 1st January, 1855:-|
| ||Horses and mules||200|
|Died from the severity of the weather, fatigue, and exposure:|
| ||Horses and mules||689|
|Lost or destroyed:-|
(Signed ---. ADAMS.
Balaklava, April 5, 1855.
* Many of these are in the possession of regiments, notwithstanding the General Order, 30th November, 1854, No. 4.