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 75

EIGHTEENTH DAY. - Saturday, April 7th.

COLONEL HODGE, Commanding Heavy Cavalry Brigade, examined.

p. 2.

Took the command of the brigade on the 18th February, 1855. Left Varna, in command of the 4th Dragoon Guards, but was too ill to land with them, and rejoined the regiment on the 21st October, 1854. At that time, being encamped in the vicinity of Balaklava, the regiment was well foraged. At that time heard no complaints as to the men's rations. In the last days of October moved within the barrier near the slope near the Turkish redoubt on the heights, and remained in that vicinity till the 5th December, when they moved to their present ground. There was a deficiency of hay, but probably, one day with another, received full rations of barley. The hay was carried up by the commissariat, and the barley by the troop, horses. For some time the hay supplied did not exceed two or three trusses per day for the regiment. Some days none was received. Cannot say whether or not there was then hay in Balaklava. Does not recollect having sent troop-horses from that encampment for hay, but they took up the whole of the chopped straw and of the barley for the regiment. The number of horses sent was double that of the loads brought up, as the laden horses were led by mounted Dragoons. While encamped on the heights the men were sometimes indifferently rationed. No record was at that time kept of deficiencies, but remembers, especially at one time, a deficiency of biscuit in December, and of sugar in the end of November. Since the beginning of January, a regular record has been kept of all deficiencies. In consequence of an order by Lord Lucan, since the 5th December, when the regiment moved to its present ground, the troop-horses have carried up all the forage of the regiment, and the rations of the men have been carried by the regimental bat horses. Since the date referred to the regiment has received no assistance in transport from the commissariat. Has no reason to complain of the manner in which the regiment has been foraged since it arrived on its present ground, and the men have received their full rations. For about four weeks from the 12th December, horses of the Heavy Brigade were employed in carrying biscuit to the divisions in front, while at the same time they were carrying their own forage from Balaklava, and furnishing pickets and guards. Since they ceased to carry biscuit they have been frequently employed in carrying sick; for the first fortnight daily. Handed in a return showing the number of horses and men employed on those duties, and the number of days. The first lot of horses were got under cover, he thinks, about the end of January. The hutting of the horses was delayed by the employment of the men on the other duties referred to. The horses were much benefited, first by the move from the heights to the more sheltered ground where they now are, and subsequently by being put under cover. While on the heights it was a common thing to find horses dead at the pickets in the morning, but for twelve days after moving down the 4th Dragoon Guards did not lose a horse. When they moved, the horses generally were greatly debilitated, but they rapidly improved, especially after getting under cover. This improvement was partly owing to the shelter, and partly to being better foraged, and having less labour in bringing forage, in consequence of the vicinity of the camp to Balaklava. Is of opinion, that although the men have generally received their regulated rations, and always since they have been on their present ground, they have still suffered seriously from the long use of salt meat and biscuit, and the deficiency of fresh meat and vegetables. Is also of opinion, that it would be beneficial to the men to have soft bread instead of biscuit several times a week. The hospital huts were put up on the 28th January, the first of the barrack huts on the 7th February, and about a

Evidence, page 76

month thereafter nearly the whole were hutted. The huts have added considerably to the comfort and much to the cleanliness and health of the men. At one time it was quite impossible for the men to keep themselves clean. And many of them could not take off their boots; others, who took them off, could not get them on again. The men landed without their valises, and had only the following articles in addition to what they wore, viz., One shirt, one pair of drawers, one flannel vest, and one pair of socks wrapped in the blanket. Until they received the warm clothing they were in a bad state. The blue pilot coats were an excellent serviceable article. Considers them the best outer covering for a cavalry soldier. Three men of the 4th Dragoon Guards were taken prisoners on out-picket, in consequence of being enveloped in their cloaks, on being suddenly attacked. From that time pickets were forbidden to cloak. In the event of the withdrawal of the extra spirit ration, is of opinion, that it would be advisable to put it in the power of the men to obtain porter as in Bulgaria. Desires to state, that the regiment suffered much from a deficiency of veterinary stores ever since leaving England, and even up to this time have hardly been able to obtain any supplies of that description, but have been chiefly dependent upon what they brought with them.

Home About Sources Topics Background