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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:-

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Constantinople, June 10, 1855

My Lord,

WE have the honour to report that, in pursuance of your Lordship's instructions, we set out from London on the 23rd February, and arrived at Constantinople on the 6th March. We proceeded at once to Scutari, and, having visited the Barrack and General Hospitals, examined the Purveyor and the Principal Medical Officer. As the condition and arrangements of those hospitals have been the subjects of a separate inquiry and report, we shall not trouble your Lordship with any details in regard to them.

The information which we obtained at Scutari and at Constantinople was of great importance to our future proceedings. We ascertained that the sick arriving from the Crimea were nearly all suffering from diseases chiefly attributable to diet, and that the food supplied to the army during the winter, consisting principally of salt meat and biscuit, with a very insufficient proportion of vegetables, was calculated, in the circumstances in which the troops were placed, to produce those diseases.

It was, therefore, evidently desirable to increase the supplies of fresh meat and vegetables, and to substitute fresh bread for biscuit. On this subject we had the advantage of a conversation with Dr. Sutherland, of the Sanitary Commission, who confirmed, from the results of his professional investigations, the information we had obtained as to the causes of the prevailing diseases, and entirely concurred in the necessity of substituting fresh meat for salt, and fresh bread for biscuit, as well as of increasing the supply of fresh or preserved vegetables. Colonel Tulloch had acquired experience in such matters from having been chiefly instrumental in providing a supply of fresh bread for his regiment when stationed in the ceded provinces after the first Burmese War, and, therefore, it was arranged that he should direct his special attention to that subject from the moment of our arrival in the Crimea.

We entered the harbour of Balaklava upon the 12th March, and the following day proceeded to head-quarters to wait upon Lord Raglan, and to arrange our proceedings in conducting the inquiry intrusted to us. The course which we proposed to pursue was explained in the letter of the 13th March, of which a copy is annexed; his Lordship's entire concurrence in that course is conveyed to us in his letter of the 15th March, of which a copy is also annexed; and on the following day we commenced the examination of the regimental officers stationed in the vicinity of Balaklava.

Following out that course, we have seen and personally examined, either separately or collectively, the Commanding Officer, Surgeon, and Quartermaster of every corps in the Crimea, who was not prevented by illness from attending; and from them have obtained evidence of such deficiencies as have occurred in the supplies to each corps, and of the consequences of those deficiencies. We next

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examined the Officers commanding Brigades and Divisions, with the exception of Sir George Brown, who was absent at Kertch; together with the Staff Officers, the Principal Medical Officers, and the Commissariat Officers attached to Brigades and Divisions; finally we examined the Quartermaster-General, and the Senior Assistant Quartermaster-General, the Commissary General, and the two Deputy Commissaries-General who are present with the army. The personal examination of the Quartermaster-General, however, having repeatedly been interrupted or prevented by his being called upon to attend to more pressing duties, and finding ourselves unable from illness to postpone our departure till he should be sufficiently disengaged, a series of written questions was sent to him to be answered.

The notes of the examinations taken down in presence of the witnesses, without the assistance of a shorthand writer, were in all cases subsequently sent to them for correction and signature. Printed Queries were also addressed to the Commanding Officer and to the Surgeon of each corps, and the answers returned were signed by them. These documents have not been subjected by us to any correction beyond what was necessary to rectify mere verbal errors or omissions obviously arising from inadvertence. It would have been easy to relieve them of many repetitions, and otherwise to dress and polish them, without materially altering their import; but we have thought it better to submit them without erasing the rough original stamp of authenticity, than to change in any respect the form in which they were returned to us, corrected and signed by the witnesses.

It is a great satisfaction to us to find, on most of the important points, a remarkable concurrence in the testimony as to matters of fact.

The sufferings of the army in the course of the winter, and especially during the months of December and January, must have been intense. We have not noted all the particulars related to us, many of which were unconnected with out inquiry; but we many state, that it has been only by slow degrees, and after the frequent repetition of similar details, as one witness after another revealed the facts that had come under his own observation, that we have been able to form any adequate conception of the distress and misery undergone by the troops, or fully to appreciate the unparalleled courage and constancy with which they have endured their sufferings. Great Britain has often had reason to be proud of her army, but it is doubtful whether the whole range of military history furnishes an example of an army exhibiting, throughout a long campaign, qualities as high as have distinguished the forces under Lord Raglan's command. The strength of the men gave way under excessive labour, watching, exposure, and privation; but they never murmured, their spirit never failed, and the enemy, though far outnumbering them, never detected in those whom he encountered any signs of weakness. Their numbers were reduced by disease and by casualties to a handful of men, compared with the great extent of the lines which they constructed and defended, yet the army never abated its confidence in itself, and never descended from its acknowledged military pre-eminence.

Both men and officers, when so reduced that they were hardly fit for the lighter duties of the camp, scorned to be excused the severe and perilous work of the trenches, lest they should throw an undue amount of duty upon their comrades; yet they maintained every foot of ground against all the efforts of the enemy, and with numbers so small that, perhaps, no other troops would even have made the effort.

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Suffering and privation have frequently led to crime, in armies as in other communities, but offences of a serious character have been unknown in the British army in the Crimea. Not one capital offence has been committed, or even alleged to have been committed, by a soldier, and intemperance has been rare.

Everyone who knows anything of the constitution of the army must feel that, when troops so conduct themselves throughout a long campaign, the officers must have done their duty, and set the example. The conduct of the men, therefore, implies the highest encomium that can be passed upon their officers. They have not only shared all the danger and exposure, and most of the privations which the men had to undergo, but we everywhere found indications of their solicitude for the welfare of those who were under their command, and of their constant readiness to employ their private means in promoting the comfort of their men. Doubtless there has been, as there always must be, better management in some regiments than in others, but amongst much that was painful in the evidence that we have heard, it was always gratifying to observe the community of feelings and of interests that appeared everywhere to subsist between the men and their officers, and which the regimental system of the British army seems almost always to produce.

We hope to be excused for venturing to offer these general observations upon the conduct of the army. It was impossible to refrain from expressing, however, inadequately, the admiration which a careful investigation of the circumstances cannot fail to produce.

It was inevitable that the operations of a siege, carried on throughout the winter in the Crimea, should involve be very considerable amount of hardship and sickness. These are consequences of such operations, as certain as losses in action when a battle is fought. The sickness and consequent mortality in the British army in the Crimea have, however, been very great. The deaths, including those at Scutari and elsewhere, appear to amount to about 35 per cent. of the average strength of the army present in the Crimea from the 1st of October, 1854, to the 30th of April, 1855, and it seems to be clearly established that this excessive mortality is not to be attributed to anything peculiarly unfavourable in the climate, but to overwork, exposure to wet and cold, improper food, insufficient clothing during part of the winter, and insufficient shelter from inclement weather.

To determine the limits beyond which we should decline to pursue our investigations, demanded careful deliberation. The influence of overwork and exposure on the health of the troops might appear to be foreign to the objects of an inquiry which had reference exclusively to the supply of the army and the arrangements of the Commissariat; but much of the labour and exposure which the troops had to undergo was a consequence of the want of sufficient land transport, which it was the duty of the Commissariat to provide. The effects of overwork and exposure could not, therefore, be excluded from our consideration. In like manner, the injurious consequences of defective cooking, which are not obviously connected with the subjects of our inquiry, were in a great measure attributable to a deficiency of fuel, or of transport to convey it from Balaklava to the camp, both of which are matters affecting the Commissariat. It may be right here to state that, in doubtful cases, we have preferred running the risk of pushing our inquiries beyond what might have been contemplated, to incurring the hazard of falling short of what was intended. At the same time, we have

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not pursued our investigations into matters unconnected with the supply of the army.

p. 13.

The Commissariat have furnished returns of the quantities in store, at various dates, of a great number of articles, as they appear upon the books, but as no cargo is credited in those books till the whole has been discharged, these returns do not show the quantity afloat. On the other hand, as issues were necessarily made, occasionally, from cargoes still afloat, and which therefore, had not yet been credited, the cargo, when credited, might, in fact, have already been issued, wholly or in part.

in Store.

The Commissary-General has, therefore, been unable to furnish a return of the smallest quantity at any time in store of any of the articles constituting the rations of the troops, as regulated by general orders. In regard to all of those articles, we must rely upon the general statements of the officers of that Department as to the sufficiency at all times of the supplies in store. From those statements, however, the accuracy of which we do not question, it appears that, including what was afloat in the harbour, the Commissariat has never been without a supply, at Balaklava, of the articles issued as rations to the men.

p. 10.

But the ration of biscuit having, on the 15th October, been increased by General Order to 1 1/3lb., in consideration of the severe labour to which the troops were subjected, it was reduced, on the 7th November, to 1lb., on the express ground of "the supply of biscuit being insufficient to furnish the increased ration lately authorized.

p. 11.

Having heard that there had been such a deficiency, or apprehended deficiency, of salt meat, as to make it necessary to apply, on the 21st of January, to the navy for assistance, we inquired into the circumstances.

p. 158.

From the returns handed to us by the Commissary-General, and from his statements, it appears that, although the Commissariat had, at that time, in store sufficient for several days' consumption, there was still, in consequence of some mistake, it is stated, on the part of the Commissariat officers at Constantinople, cause for considerable anxiety lest the whole army should be left without salt meat, at a time when no other articles of food were available, except biscuit, rum, and the ordinary groceries. The arrival of a vessel, with a supply of salt meat, before that which had been obtained from the navy was issued, relieved the Commissary-General from the anxiety which he had previously felt upon that subject.


The evidence of the Commanding Officers and Quartermasters showed, what, indeed, was admitted by the Commissariat, that on several occasions, especially in the month of December, some of the Divisions did not receive full rations. For the purpose of ascertaining the precise amount of these deficiencies, returns were called for from each corps, but in many cases, owing to the difficulty experienced in keeping or preserving records of any kind, the regimental officers were unable to vouch for the accuracy of the details. An abstract of these returns has, however, been printed in the Appendix.[1]

p. 45.

It appears that, in the Cavalry and 1st Divisions, and in the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, the deficiencies were merely fractional; and that even in the 3rd Division and the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, where they were somewhat

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greater, they were not as could, in ordinary circumstances, materially affect the health of the troops.

p. 45.

In the 4th and Light Divisions, the deficiencies in the rations were not only greater in amount, but also much more continuous. In those Divisions the men were frequently on three quarters, two-thirds, and sometimes on half rations of meat and of rum; on two occasions they had only quarter rations, and on one day they had none at all. In the other items the defalcations were not very important, except in rice, of which the 4th Division did not get any for the first ten days in January, nor for three other days, in that month, while a Brigade of the Light Division received for six days in that month only half the usual quantity.

With reference to the probable effects of such deficiencies, it may be proper to state that, prior to December 1850, the rations of salt pork, then issued twice a-week to the British troops on several foreign stations, was only 12 oz., with 1 lb. of beef, fresh or salt, on the other five days, and that prior to 1837, the ration of pork was only 9 oz. on three days in the week, with 1 lb. of beef, fresh or salt, on the other four days, which is less than the average quantity actually issued, even in those Divisions in which the deficiencies were greatest. On those stations, however, in addition to 1 lb. of soft bread, the troops had at all times either 4 oz. of rice or half-a-pint of pease daily, besides which a portion of their pay was expended in purchasing vegetable in the market, whereas, in the Crimea, during the greater part of November and December, and also in great measure during January and part of February, the soldier was confined exclusively to biscuit, in addition to his salt meat.

The French troops, it is understood, had only 12 oz. of beef, or 10 oz. of pork daily, when salt meat was issued; but besides being always able to use their coffee and sugar with advantage, they had 2 1/4 oz. of rice, or dried vegetables, and 27 oz. of soft bread, or 20 oz. of biscuit daily.

In considering the probable effects of the deficiencies referred to, it may be presumed, from the facts above stated, that it was not so much from default in the rations of salt meat and biscuit that the diet of the troops affected their health, as from the insufficiency of other descriptions of food. At the same time, there can be no doubt that the short rations were considered an additional hardship and privation by those who could use them, and that any diminution in the nutritive value of the diet, which, even when issued in full was insufficient to maintain the strength of men undergoing hard labour and much exposure, must have been injurious to all who could have consumed it. Many of the men, however, did not eat the salt meat, especially the salt beef, when full rations were issued. The prevailing diseases were, at that time, affections of the bowels, in most cases connected with scorbutic tendency in the system; and not only the men, but the medical officers also, believed that those diseases were aggravated, and that tendency increased, by the continued use of salt meat. In many cases, the aversion to that description, of food seems to have amounted to absolute loathing. Several of the officers who had lived for a considerable time upon their rations, experienced similar sensations, and ultimately found it impossible to eat the salt meat, especially the salt beef, although it is admitted that both beef and pork were quite sound, and of good quality. It was remarked that, while whole pieces of salt beef were frequently left unconsumed, sometimes to the extent of hundreds of pounds weight in a day by a single regiment, nearly all the pork was eaten, except by some of the Scotch regiments.

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The deficiencies in the supplies provided by the Commissariat, from which the army, and especially that part of it which was encamped upon the heights before Sebastopol suffered most, were, a deficiency of fresh meat, a deficiency of vegetables, a deficiency of fresh bread, particularly for the sick, and more especially for those whose gums were affected with scurvy, a deficiency of fuel, a deficiency of hay and straw, to such an extent that enough could not be procured to fill the paillasses [sic] of the sick, and, above all, a deficiency of land transport, to which many of the other deficiencies are mainly to be attributed.

Fresh Meat.

The army appears to have been supplied with a sufficient proportion of fresh meat whilst in Bulgaria; and, during the latter days of September, and nearly the whole of October, the cattle obtained in the Crimea, either by capture or purchase, furnished the troops with considerable proportion, but after the beginning of November, they were dependent upon the cattle imported. From that time till the month of March the supply of fresh meat was not sufficient to maintain the health of the troops. During the interval they suffered to an alarming extent from diseases of the bowels, to which there was a general predisposition; and the medical officers, of all ranks, are of opinion, with hardly one exception, that the continued use of salt meat aggravated those diseases and increased that predisposition.

p. 56.
p. 55.

With reference to this subject, we have obtained returns from all the regiments employed in the Crimea, showing the quantity of salt and fresh meat issued to each of them respectively during the winter, an abstract of which has been submitted in the Appendix. A return was also furnished, at our request, by the Commissary-General, from which it appears that the average quantity of fresh meat issued to each man of the five divisions composing the army, including the sick in camp, was in December 6 lbs. 4 oz., in January about 9 lbs., in February 8 lbs. 2 oz.; but several of the issues which go to make up this amount were in small quantities, for the use of the sick only, to whom a preference was given in almost all instances; and it is probable that the men for duty did not actually receive more than 3 lbs. in December, 5 lbs. in January, and 4 lbs. in February. Some of the corps received even less than that quantity, and there is hardly any difference of opinion as to the evil consequences.


That evil was aggravated by a deficiency of vegetable food. The issue of two ounces of rice daily to each man, which had been ordered by Lord Raglan, in Bulgaria, to be continued till the 30th of September, in consequence of the prevalence of bowel complaints, was extended at the suggestion, it appears, of the Commissary-General, till the 15th November, when it unfortunately ceased, the order not having been renewed.

p. 13.

The Commissary-General states, and the returns show, that the supply of rice in store was such as would have enabled him to continue the issue; but he also states that, from the deficiency of land transport, it was impossible to carry that additional weight to the front. The troops were then as completely dependent upon the Commissariat as if they had been on board of ship, and were subsisting almost exclusively upon salt meat and biscuit. It was therefore most unfortunate that the issue of an article of diet, so valuable, in those circumstances, as rice, should have been suspended in consequence of the want of transport, just at the time when it was most needed.

When the original order for the issue of 2 ounces of rice per man expired, on the 30th September, the Commissary-General states, that finding there was a sufficient quantity in store, and that bowel complaints still continued to

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prevail, he suggested as a measure beneficial to the health of the army, the extension of the order to the 15th November. It is much regretted that, when he subsequently found himself unable, from want of transport, to carry the 2 ounces of rice, in addition to the salt meat, he was not induced by the same motives to inform the General Commanding that he had still enough of rice in store to continue the issue, which had become even more necessary than on the 30th September, and that he did not call for a decision as to whether the army then suffering, not only from bowel complaints, but also from scurvy, should be deprived of the only vegetable food, besides biscuit, which was immediately available, or should submit to a reduction of 2 ounces in the daily supply of salt meat, which a large proportion of the men did not consume. The troops felt the loss of the rice severely, many of them declaring that they would rather have lost their rum; but they submitted without remonstrance, because the belief appears to have been general, that the issue of rice had ceased in consequence of the supply being exhausted.

p. 159

It appears from the evidence of the Commissary-General, that it has not been the practice of the British army to keep the General Commanding informed of the amount of provisions in depôt, or available for the use of the troops, but only of such as may be in the possession of the troops, and in the charge of the Commissariat officers of Divisions. It was not until the latter end of January, when circumstances forced upon Lord Raglan's attention the necessity for his being kept personally informed of the actual amount of the supplies on which he could rely for the maintenance of the troops, that periodical returns of the quantities in store at Balaklava were ordered to be submitted to him.

It appears to us, not only that periodical returns of the supplies in store, and available, ought regularly to be submitted, but that it ought to be the duty of some officer to call the attention of the General Commanding to such as are likely, in special circumstance, to prove beneficial. Had Lord Raglan's attention been called to the stores of rice, and other farinaceous and vegetable food at his command,[2] or had there been any officer on his Staff who could be held responsible for the proper application of the available supplies, there can be no reasonable doubt that the men would have received in lieu of 2 ounces of the salt meat, which many of them could not eat, an equal weight of food that would have been both more acceptable, and infinitely more beneficial.

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The deficiency of transport, which is assigned as the reason why these supplies were not conveyed to the front, need not have affected the corps in and around Balaklava, which were suffering from the same diseases, though not to the same extent.


A more unaccountable, and still more unfortunate, failure to apply to the use of the army stores of which it stood in the most urgent need, occurred in regard to lime-juice. On the 10th December, 278 cases, containing nearly 20,000 lbs, arrived by the "Esk", for the purpose of being issued generally to the troops. Small quantities obtained from the Purveyor, and also, it is understood, from the navy, had been issued to the hospitals for the cure of scurvy, during the previous month, but no measures had been taken to counteract the tendency to that disease which was rapidly spreading. The necessity for issuing lime-juice as a prophylactic had been stated in many of the medical reports to the Inspector-General, and had been especially pointed out in those which he transmitted to the Adjutant-General for the months of November and December.

p. 159.

In these he anticipated the speedy arrival of a supply that would admit of the issue generally to the troops of what they so much needed. Yet, from the 10th of December, the lime-juice brought by the "Esk" was lying in the Commissariat stores at Balaklava, and none of it was issued till the first week in February, an interval during which the sufferings of the army from scurvy were, probably, at their height. Had the General Commanding been informed of the arrival of that supply, it cannot be doubted that it would have been issued to that part of the army which most required it nearly two months earlier.

It is somewhat remarkable that the regulations require the issue of lime-juice to troops on board of ship, when salt meat is issued for a certain number of days, but that there is not any similar provision for the protection of troops on shore, though the necessity may be equally urgent, as it has been in the Crimea, and would be in a fortress that was invested or blockaded. It appears to us, after careful examination of the facts that have come to our knowledge, that it would be expedient, whenever salt meat is issued to troops, to assimilate their diet to that which is used so successfully in the navy.

p. 41.

This has been strongly recommended by several officers, and especially by Dr. Walsh, the naval surgeon in charge of the Marines on shore, who states, in his evidence, that during a service of seventeen years he has never seen scurvy in the navy.

Fresh and

The health of the army also suffered from a deficiency of fresh or preserved vegetables. Lord Raglan seems to have been urgent to supply this deficiency; but it appears that, according to the regulations, vegetables do not constitute a part of the soldier's rations, and it is, therefore, no part of the ordinary duty of the Commissariat to issue or even to provide them. This arrangement, which leaves the soldier to purchase vegetables in the market, may be an advantage to him where such a market exists, but it is obviously inapplicable where, as in the Crimea, there was none. The first attempts to import green vegetables were not successful, and some time elapsed before the defects in the arrangements could be so far remedied as to secure a regular supply. In the meantime scurvy in its ordinary form, and scorbutic diseases in various forms, extended rapidly, till, in several regiments, hardly a man was free from the taint.

The advantages attending the use of preserved and compressed vegetables, more especially when the army is in motion, are so great and obvious, and the man have now become acquainted with the manner of using them, and relish them so fully, that we venture strongly to recommend that they should

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be regularly issued to the troops, when fresh vegetables, in sufficient quantity and in good condition cannot be provided, and that a specified quantity of the one or of the other should constitute a part of the regulated rations of troops in the field.

Fresh Bread.

The only bread issued to the troops, till the month of April, was biscuit, which appears, however, to have been of excellent quality. The sick complained much of the want of soft bread, and the men who were affected with scurvy, many of whom continued to perform their duties, were often unable, from the state of their gums, to eat the hard biscuit, or could eat it only with much pain. At length some private establishments for baking bread, in Russian ovens which had been found there, were set on foot by private enterprise at Balaklava; and the men, especially the sick, eagerly purchased the loaf of the nominal weight of two pounds, at two shillings, and even at two shillings and sixpence or three shillings. The most urgent craving of the sick was made with those establishments, by Lord Raglan's directions, by which they engaged to supply the Purveyor with a certain quantity daily for the use of the hospitals, to be issued, on requisition, as a medical comfort.

We are not aware of any sufficient reason why soft bread might not have been baked at any time for the use of the sick, and also for the whole army. The French army has been regularly supplied with fresh bread; and the erection of a sufficient number of ovens was not an operation involving any great expense, or requiring much skill or much time, if it had been undertaken by the proper public departments. There were bakers enough in the regiments to have worked many more ovens than were required to supply the whole army; and if these could not be sparred from their military duties, there was no difficulty in procuring bakers from Constantinople. But there appears to have been an indisposition to make the attempt (see Colonel Tulloch's Memorandum, Appendix, page 20). The Commissary-General understood that a floating bakery had, for several months, been in preparation in England, and it was considered unnecessary, or impossible, to do anything till it arrived.

From the information we have obtained, we are satisfied that it is of great importance to the health of the troops, that they should be regularly supplied with a proportion of soft bread, and in standing camp, where flour can be obtained, there is rarely any difficulty in providing it.


We need not revert to the issue of green coffee, which has been alluded to by nearly all the witnesses whom we examined. That subject had already been so fully discussed that we did not consider it necessary to investigate it. But there is reason to believe that being imperfectly roasted and pounded by the men, it became injurious to their health. This is not only their opinion, but is also that of those medical officers upon whose judgment we should be most disposed to rely, and it is much to be regretted that the simple expedient of assembling a board of officers, as had been done at Varna, was not resorted to, as they could have recommended tea to be substituted for coffee.

When the difficulty about fuel to roast the coffee began to be seriously felt in December, there were 2,705 lbs. of tea (equal to 173,000 rations) lying in the Commissariat store at Balaklava. This would have afforded the usual quantity of a quarter of an ounce per man daily to the corps in front, where the greatest difficulty was experienced in making use of the coffee, till a supply could be obtained from Constantinople, or other quarters, sufficient to make the issue a general one. A temporary supply, too, might probably have been

page 10

obtained from the navy, as there are generally large stores of tea on board. Nothing of this kind, however, appears to have been attempted, and the coffee continued to be issued in a green state to the men in front till the month of February, though much of it was not used in consequence of the difficulty of preparing it.

It appears to us, from the statements of a great majority of the medical and other officers examined, that tea would, on the whole, be preferable to coffee, especially on a march, provided the ration of sugar were increased by one quarter of an ounce, that is from 1¾ to 2 ounces. That change would somewhat diminish the weight to be carried, always an important consideration, and would materially diminish the cost of the ration. It was objected by the Commissary-General, that tea is more likely to be damaged than coffee, especially on a march; but as the whole of the tea used in Russia, and in some countries of Asia, where it is largely consumed, is carried overland from China, there can hardly be any serious difficulty in carrying a supply with an army.

Defective Cooking.

One of the causes of sickness in the army, to which all the witnesses refer, is defective cooking. On the march from Old Fort to the Alma, and during the battle, most of the men threw away or lost their camp kettles. Some Divisions did not preserve even one in ten of the regulated number, viz., one to every five men. When the army arrived before Sebastopol it was, therefore, impossible to organize the established regimental system of cooking, which is by companies, telling off a certain number of men per company as cooks. Each man had to cook for himself in his small mess-tin or canteen, to procure his own fuel, and to light his own fire.


For a time there was little difficulty in procuring firewood; but after the brushwood in the vicinity of the camp was consumed, fuel could not be obtained except by digging up roots, an operation which, to unskilled hands, involved great labour, and, in bad weather, much exposure. When there was snow upon the ground, and during frost, the men, who were inadequately supplied with tools, and who, from want of skill in using them, soon spoiled or broke such as they had, often found it impossible to procure enough of fuel. In wet weather the inexperienced, who composed the great majority, had much difficulty in getting the green or wet wood to burn. Men who had been all night in the trenches, up to their ankles in mud, and who returned to the camp exhausted and benumbed, could not cook food for themselves without first grubbing up roots for fuel, which, in many cases, were to be found only at a considerable distance. Many of them wanted either energy or strength enough to undergo that labour, and contented themselves with their biscuit and rum, adding, in some cases, a bit of raw pork. Many more made the attempt to cook their meat; but in consequence of the difficulties just referred to, the process was often very imperfectly performed, and the meat was eaten half-raw. Even after kettles had been procured, which in most regiments was not until some time in January, and after men had been told off to cook for companies, the labour and exposure undergone by the fatigue parties sent out to obtain fuel was a serious addition to the other severe and harassing duties which they had to perform.

p. 77.

The Commissariat maintained that it was not the practice of the service to issue fuel to troops in the field; that soldier was not entitled to a ration of fuel unless in barracks. Lord Raglan, however, on the 11th of November, instructed the Commissary-General to provide a sufficient supply of fuel for the ensuing winter; and by a general order, dated the 4th December, directed the issue of rations of fuel to the troops. But although it appeared that, even long

page 11

before the 11th of November, the Commissary-General had provided a depôt of fuel at Scutari for the use of the army when in barracks, he was not prepared to issue fuel in the field when it was ordered on the 4th December.

To provide and issue fuel was no doubt a considerable addition to the duties of the Commissariat, and the difficulties arising from the deficient state of the land transport, the narrow space for landing stores at Balaklava, and the great amount of labour which the other duties of the department involved, in the peculiar circumstances of the army, may have led the Commissary-General to insist upon the alleged previous practice in the Peninsula and elsewhere, of leaving troops in the field to find their own fuel. But the circumstances of the army before Sebastopol were obviously exceptional, and an appeal to precedent was out of place. In consequence of the representations of the Commissary-General, however, the order of the 4th December appears to have been modified, and it was not until the 29th December that the troops in and near Balaklava received rations of fuel.

This apparent want of alacrity on the part of the Commissariat to provide fuel for the army in the field, could not have arisen from any difficulty in procuring firewood. The southern coast of the Black Sea is wooded down to the shore for hundreds of miles; firewood could have been procured there in unlimited quantity; but the resources of that coast had not then been explored. Wood has more recently been obtained from thence at little more than one-fourth of the price paid for it during the winter at Scutari and Constantinople. Unfortunately, after fuel had been provided at Balaklava, the want of land transport made it impossible to carry it to the front, except in small quantities for the use of the hospitals; and, being issued only in the vicinity of Balaklava, it was of no use to the soldier on the heights, unless he could find the means of carrying it to the regimental camp.

Improper Diet.

From what has been stated, it appears that the diet provided for the troops was not well calculated to preserve their health in any circumstances, and that, instead of tending to counteract the other causes of disease to which they were exposed, it tended rather to aggravate those evils. And the same unvarying diet of salt meat and biscuit, without a sufficient supply of vegetables, acting upon constitutions debilitated by the other causes previously referred to, produced scurvy, which, there is reason to believe, complicated and rendered more fatal almost every other disease by which the troops were attacked in December and January.

Abundance of Cattle.

The Commissary-General states, that he considers the issue of fresh meat the rule, and of salt meat the exception; but he has not explained, in a manner that we can consider satisfactory, the reason why this order was reversed. In the countries subject to Turkey, which were easily accessible, there is not, and there never has been, any difficulty in procuring a sufficient number of cattle to supply the army with fresh meat. In December, when scarcely any but salt meat was issued, the Commissary-General says that he had eight thousand head of cattle secured. He attributes the deficiency in the camp to the want of sea transport, the difficulties of the winter navigation, and the delays caused by the use of Balaklava as the port of the army.

All of these circumstances, doubtless, increased the difficulty of bringing forward a sufficient number of cattle; but, looking to the amount of sea transport at his command after the 11th of December, when the sailing horse-transports were placed at his disposal, for another purpose to which they were not applied, and could have been made available for the conveyance of cattle, in addition to

page 12

p. 43.

the steam-vessels already at his disposal, and considering the vicinity of Samsoon and other ports on the southern shore of the Black Sea, where cattle could not only have been procured, but were actually tendered to him in December and rejected, we are forced to the conclusion that the Commissary-General was not then sufficiently alive to the importance of that article of food; and that the quantity might have been considerably increased during the months of December, January, and February, if proper measures had been taken for that purpose. The time is not very remote when armies depended upon sailing vessels for all the supplies transported by sea, but the Commissary-General was deterred from using such vessels for the conveyance of cattle, by what he describes as the "frightful" proportion of casualties. This does not appear to us to be a sufficient reason. Three thousand additional bullocks, in the three months above mentioned, would, on the average, have given the whole army fresh meat every alternate day; and we cannot persuade ourselves that three or four of the sailing horse-transports could not have landed that number in three months, in addition to all that were brought by steam-vessels, chiefly from the Bosphorus. If there was difficulty in bringing the additional cattle alive, they might have been slaughtered, and, at that season of the year the meat might have been carried without much loss. In short, it appears to us that fresh meat, in much larger quantities, might have been, and ought to have been, supplied to the army.

The common belief that, in the navy, the seaman are fed upon salt meat and biscuit, may, perhaps, have misled persons who did not sufficiently attend to the precautions which it has been found necessary to adopt in that branch of the service, for the purpose of insuring variety of diet, and of counteracting the effects of a diet consisting of the two articles in question. It is also right to keep in view that we are judging after the event, when the importance of a sufficient supply of fresh meat has been proved, though not by any means for the first time, by the consequences resulting from the want of it.

Importance of Fresh Meat.

Wherever large armies have been collected, a tendency to diseases of the bowels has been manifested. These are emphatically the diseases of the camp, and it is of the utmost importance that every precaution should be taken to counteract that tendency. But experience has proved on many former, and some comparatively recent occasions, that the long use of salt meat increases both the number attacked and the proportion of fatal cases. The influence of improper diet is augmented in proportion to the constitutional depression and predisposition to disease produced by other causes, and in circumstances so unfavourable to health as those in which the army in the Crimea was placed, by the nature of the service, the season at which it was carried on, and the unusual disproportion of the numbers to the amount of work to be done, no practicable means ought to have been left untried to protect the troops from the injurious effects of diet - one of the few conditions of the soldiers' existence which were absolutely within control.

Regarded merely in a pecuniary point of view, irrespective of higher considerations, moral and political, the most wasteful of all expenditure is the expenditure of men. There is hardly any conceivable price that it may be necessary to pay for what is required to preserve the health and efficiency of the soldier, that is not advantageously laid out. Every soldier has cost a large sum before he is landed in the Crimea fit for duty, and it costs a like sum to replace him. The value of the other considerations cannot be estimated in money, for they are above all price. But the highest price that has been paid,

page 13

per pound for fresh meat, including freight and casualties, was 5d. or 6d., and therefore less than the lowest price at which salt meat has been put into store in the Crimea; and if the casualties which, in the winter voyage from the Bosphorus, in steam vessels, are variously stated at from fourteen to twenty per cent., had been double that amount, or even a larger proportion, that would not have been a sufficient reason for leaving the army without an adequate supply of what was necessary to preserve the health of the troops.

Considering the preference which has been shown, not only in the present but in other campaigns, particularly those in the Burmese and Chinese empires, for issuing to the troops salt meat and biscuit instead of fresh meat and bread, notwithstanding the alarming extension of diseases of the bowels which usually manifests itself in military operations, there seems reason to apprehend that the facility of obtaining and distributing the former description of supplies may, not unfrequently, have had an influence in causing too extensive a use of them.

The duties of the Commissariat are then in a great measure confined to maintaining an ample store of these in the general depôt by shipments from home, which involves little trouble; and the distribution of this supply according to the numbers in each division, merely involves the simplest operation of arithmetic; but when cattle have to be sought out and purchases, often in remote provinces - have to be fed and cared for, and kept in condition before shipment; when transport has to be provided, forage obtained for the voyage, and subsistence thereafter till they are given over to the troops - the measure, however useful, is one which must necessarily be attended with much extra trouble, great complication of accounts, and no small personal exertion. The preparation of soft bread, in like measure - involving, as it does, the purchase of wheat, its conversion into flour, the building of ovens, the hiring of bakers, and extensive superintendence - requires a very different amount of trouble and responsibility from what would be created by the receipt and issue of a certain number of bags of biscuit daily. It is, perhaps, but natural under such circumstances, that those who have the charge of supplying the troops should cling to a system which tends so materially to relieve their difficulties, during a protracted campaign; but as experience has shown that this saving of trouble in the first instance can only be effected at the risk of great suffering, vast expense, and ten-fold trouble in the end, the dependence on a diet of salt meat and biscuit only should, in future, be confined to cases in which the General Officer in command has satisfied himself as to the impossibility of procuring other supplies, and, therefore, directs, in general orders, the issue of that description of food. The restriction to this ration should then be communicated immediately to the Home Authorities, in order that they may send out supplies of preserved meats and vegetables, to counteract its sameness and in nutritious quality.

Supplies of
should be

The deficiency in the supply of vegetables is even more objectionable and more unaccountable than that of the fresh meat. If the army was to be fed on salt meat, a sufficient supply of vegetable food was known to be indispensable to the maintenance of health. The Turkish provinces could have furnished, and at a later and more unfavourable season did furnish, a considerable amount. There are several varieties which can safely be carried by sea, and which will keep several months, of which potatoes and onions are perhaps the best, and the different varieties of preserved vegetables are available at all seasons, and at a moderate cost.

At the time when the army was suffering in consequence of the want of vegetables, there was in store, at Balaklava, a considerable supply of vegetable

page 14

p. 18.

food, both peas and preserved potatoes, which were not issued. The greater part of the peas were not split, but whole, and the men, experiencing great difficulty in boiling them, became unwilling to take them. They did not know, and do not appear to have been informed, that the addition of a small quantity of soda would have made the process comparatively easy; but for this omission the Commissariat cannot be considered responsible. As a reason for not issuing the preserved potatoes during the winter, when they would have been so useful in preventing scurvy, the Commissary-General states that the men rejected them, and returned into store several cases that had been issued. On investigating the circumstances, however, it appeared that they had been returned into store at a time when the troops had a sufficient supply of fresh meat, and when they understood that they were to pay for one pound of the preserved the price of four or five pounds of the fresh potatoes. When they were afterwards issued gratis, and the men had learned how to cook them, they became exceedingly popular.[3]

No one
for diet,
or for the
of the
to the whole
of the army.

It seems to be a defect in the system of the British army, that no one is specially responsible for the fitness of the diet supplied to the troops, or for the most advantageous adaptation of the resources of the countries in which military operations are carried on, to the requirements, in this respect, of the army. Supplies of the utmost value to health may thus be lying within reach, without being made available, because they are not specified in the scale of rations, and because there is no one whose especial duty is to find them out and to suggest their employment. A Commander-in-chief may be a man of consummate genius, capable of attending to everything great or small, but a nation cannot safely ground its system upon the assumption that it can at all times command the services of such men; and it may be worthy of consideration whether there ought not to be upon the staff of an army in the field an officer, holding high military rank, whose duty it should be to devote his attention to the supply of the army, who should be responsible for everything connected with the receipt and issue of supplies and stores of every description, in the same manner as the Quartermaster-General and the Adjutant General are responsible for the manner in which their Departments are conducted, and who should be selected with reference to his special qualifications.

of Porter
for Rum.

A very general opinion is expressed, both by Commanding Officers and Surgeons, that to continue the extra rations of rum which the troops have been receiving, would be injurious both to their health and their habits; and there is a remarkable concurrence of testimony in favour of substituting porter of good quality for a part of the rations of rum, or even for the whole, as well as in favour of enabling the men to buy good porter, by providing a sufficient quantity to be supplied at a fixed and moderate price, while the army is in standing camp, under such regulations as may considered expedient.

page 15

It cannot, we fear, be doubted that many, especially of the young soldiers, who had no disposition to indulge in ardent spirits, or to whom the rum was at first even distasteful, have acquired a habit of dram-drinking by the use of the rations issued to them; and it is believed that the substitution of good porter, which is nutritious, antiscorbutic, and, in moderate quantities, on the whole beneficial, would also tend to correct or to prevent the formation of habits which are injurious both to health and to discipline.

of Food
now abundant.

At a future time we shall be prepared to submit some suggestions as to the rations of troops in the field,[4] meanwhile we have the honour and satisfaction to report that, before our departure, the supplies of food to the army in the Crimea were abundant, and the diet of the soldier, in the opinion of those who are best able to judge, better than any army in the field has, in any former campaign, been regularly supplied with. We are able to state that, in their entire satisfaction with the rations now issued, the men concur with their officers. The only objection, so far as we can ascertain, is to the inferior condition of the cattle; and the grounds of this objection are in course of being removed, as the animals are daily improving in condition upon the new grass, which is now abundant in the grazing countries. But as the natives of those countries are not in the habit of winter-feeding their cattle, they will begin to fall of after the month of October, unless arrangements are made by the Commissariat to have them properly fed and kept in condition. Such arrangements, instead of increasing the cost of the meat, would, probably, produce a considerable saving; for the oxen, if so attended to, would yield nearly double the quantity, and of better quality. We anticipate no difficulty in maintaining, or, if necessary, in largely increasing, the supplies of cattle, and also of vegetables, from the Turkish provinces.

Bât Horses
and Mules.

The most disastrous of the deficiencies to which we have referred was the deficiency of land transport. This was not confined to the transport more properly belonging to the Commissariat, but extended also to the public and private bât animals, the former being such as, previous to the formation of the Land Transport Corps, were provided by the Commissariat, and handed over to each corps in regulated proportions for the carriage of the field equipment, the latter being the private property of the officers, who are, however, authorized to draw rations for them. Public bât animals appear to have been provided for such corps as were in Bulgaria, and most of the officers of those corps also provided themselves; but when the army embarked for the Crimea, nearly all of both descriptions were left behind, and it was not till the end of October that about half the regulated number was landed in the Crimea. A second and smaller detachment arrived in January, but by that time a great part of those received in October were dead, or no longer effective, and, in consequence of the continued deficiency of forage, and the exposure and fatigue, most of those received in January shared the same fate. When the Commissariat transport failed, this deficiency of regimental transport, which otherwise would have been of comparatively little moment in a standing camp, was severely felt.


All the witnesses examined upon the subject are of opinion, that the duties which the men had to perform under arms, in the trenches, and on piquets and guards, involved an amount of labour and exposure as great or greater than they could bear, without injury to their health.

page 16

It was, therefore of the utmost importance that they should be saved all additional labour and exposure, but, owing to the deficiency of land transport, they had to perform a large amount of the work that ought to have been done by horses and mules. The roads, or tracks, were so deep in mud, that the journey which the men had to perform from the camp on the heights of Balaklava and back, carrying up rations, warm clothing, huts, or ammunition, frequently occupied twelve hours, during the whole of which time they were without food, shelter, or rest - unless standing in deep mud, drenched and cold, instead of struggling through it, can be called rest. It was in consequence of the want of transport that, even after firewood had been provided at Balaklava, the men had to undergo the labour and exposure of digging up roots to cook their food, without always being able to procure enough for that purpose. It was in consequence of the want of transport that the men were repeatedly on short rations, and that they were deprived, for about six or seven weeks, of their rations of rice, which would have been so beneficial at that precise time when hardly any vegetables were supplied to them, and hardly a man in the army escaped the prevailing diseases. The men were overworked in the trenches, and on picquets and guards; and they suffered in health from the excessive fatigue, watching, and exposure which those duties involved. To these, in consequence of the want of transport animals, were superadded other duties, involving an amount of fatigue and exposure which alone would have been trying to their constitutions. Several of the officers stated that the drafts for their corps, which were excused duty in the trenches for the first ten days after their arrival, were sent, during that interval, on fatigue to Balaklava, but that it became necessary to relinquish the practice, because a fatigue party to Balaklava sent so many of the young soldiers into hospital.

p. 66.

From the commencement of the campaign in the Crimea, the scale upon which the Commissary-General proposed to provide land transport for the army appears to us to have been dangerously small; yet the scale upon which it was actually provided fell far short of even what he had proposed. From a return prepared by the Commissariat, there appears the startling fact, that in January, 1855, the whole number of effective animals belonging to that Department was 333 pack-horses and mules, and 12 camels. The Commissary-General had considered it necessary, before the army should move from Varna, to have transport at his disposal equal to about 14,000 pack animals.

In the month of October, however, assuming that the whole army was fixed immovably in its position, the available transport may have been sufficient for purely Commissariat purposes, exclusive of the conveyance of fire-wood, - that is, for the carriage of the rations of food and forage from Balaklava to the camps of the different Divisions. But from the commencement of the operations, transport was required for siege purposes also.

p. 60.

From the evidence of the Commissary-General, it appears that this diversion of a part of his transport from Commissariat to siege purposes, prevented him from completing the formation of a depôt near head-quarters, which he had commenced, and which was a measure of great importance to the army, as subsequent events too clearly proved. He was, therefore, from the commencement of the operations against Sebastopol, aware that the transport he had collected was not all available for Commissariat purposes, and was not sufficient for all the purposes for which it was required.

p. 157.

In answer to the question, why, in those circumstances, he did not increase the transport in the Crimea, he states that he had as many animals as he could feed. The measure

page 17

of the amount of transport to be provided for the army in the Crimea was not, therefore, what was required, but what the Commissariat could feed. The reason for not increasing the amount of transport, was not that a greater number of animals was unnecessary, but that a greater number could not be fed in the Crimea. But if proper arrangements had been made to provide the army with forage for the winter, wherever it might be [?] that season, the forage would have been available for use in the Crimea.

of hay.

The Commissary-General had indeed concluded a contract for about 1,000,000 pounds, or about 800 tons of hay, to be made at Buyook Tchakmedge, on the Sea of Marmora; and hydraulic presses were sent out from England to compress it for shipment. The contractors failed, it is said, to complete their contract, and only about 600 or 700 tons of hay were made. They appear to have been men without capital, who borrowed money at a high rate of interest to carry out their various contracts with the Commissariat. Their credit was such that it was found necessary to make an arrangement by which the sums falling due to them by the Commissariat were to be paid into the hands of the banker who advanced the funds. The banker considered it hazardous to make large advances to enable them to carry out a contract for hay which was liable to be rejected on account of its quality, or because the whole quantity contracted for had not been prepared. Objections to receive delivery appear to have been raised on both of these grounds, and payment was in consequence withheld. The contractors having no means of discharging the debt they had incurred to the bankers until they received the price of the hay, and conceiving, as they assert, that it had been rejected by the Commissariat, entered into an arrangement to sell it to the French. The British Commissariat then claimed it as their property, and applications were made by both parties to the Porte, to compel delivery of the hay, which each asserted they had purchased. At length it was secured to the British Commissariat. But, in the meantime the hydraulic presses had been erected in the vicinity of Constantinople, more than fifteen miles from the place where it had been collected;

p. 157.

and it became necessary to carry the loose hay that distance, either by land or water, before it could be pressed. This operation could not be carried on in bad weather, and thus, by defective arrangements throughout the whole transaction, the only provision for supplying the army with hay which had been made in Turkey was rendered nugatory, at a time when 600 to 700 tons in the Crimea would have been invaluable.

p. 157.

The Commissary-General admits, that if the presses had been erected at the place where the may was made, he could have fed more animals; and there can be little doubt that every addition to the transport in the Crimea saved the lives of men.

When the roads or tracks between Balaklava and the camp broke up about the 20th November, and became one great slough of deep and tenacious mud, impassable for Commissariat carts, the transport power of that Department was reduced to one-third of its former amount, for a horse or mule will draw in a cart three times the weight it can carry on a pack. Even so early as the 14th of November, the day of the hurricane, the roads had become difficult, and the transport animals began to suffer. The Commissary-General then resolved to bring up a part of the reserve transport which had been left at Varna, and had subsequently been ordered from thence to Constantinople. At this time, however, he only contemplated bringing up 150, and the Jason sailed for that purpose on the 26th of November, and returned to Balaklava on the 16th of December, having been absent twenty days. The average passage at that season, including coaling, watering, &c, appears to have been about fifteen days. The

page 18

Jason thus exceeded the average time by a few days, of which two may be accounted for by the time occupied in sending for and bringing in the mules from Tchakmedge, where they were recovering from the effects of the journey from Varna. They had been badly cared for, and many were utterly useless; a certain number, however, arrived at Constantinople, in very bad condition, about the end of November; 250 of the most serviceable were selected to be shipped in the "Jason", but even these appear to have hardly been considered effective by the Commissariat officers when they arrived at Balaklava.

p. 8.

On the 11th of December the sailing horse-transports of the army were placed at the disposal of the Commissary-General, to bring up transport animals, but were not employed for that purpose. On the 24th, he applied for a steam-vessel, which appears to have been immediately ordered. On the 28th he applied especially for the Jason, which had then discharged her cargo of animals, &c, and, in pursuance of orders given on the 24th, she was immediately placed at his disposal, and sailed on the 29th for Constantinople. He makes it a ground of complaint, with reference to the reinforcement of the transport in the Crimea that, having sick on board for Scutari, she was detained till the 7th of January, landing them; but, having been questioned on the subject, he admitted that after landing the sick at Scutari, she was sent by the Commissariat, though not by his orders, to the Sea of Marmora, to take in a cargo of fuel, and, he could not say that she might not have been absent a week or ten days for that purpose. The deficiency in the land transport of the army cannot, therefore, be accounted for, on the ground that he could not obtain sufficient sea transport to convey the animals he was desirous of bringing to the camp.

The want of a road from Balaklava to the front, passable for Commissariat carts, greatly increased the difficulty of supplying the army after the middle of November, but the officers commanding Divisions, who were examined upon the subject, are unanimous in their opinion that it would have been impossible to employ a sufficient number of men to make the road, and at the same time to carry on the military operations in which the army was engaged. The only remedy, therefore, was to increase the number of transport animals;

p. 182.

and Lord Raglan, it is stated by the Quartermaster-General, after unceasingly and urgently impressing upon the Commissary-General the necessity of preparing a sufficiency of transport, finally sent officers of the army to purchase animals at Eupatoria, Constantinople, Smyrna, Sicily, &c; this measure was, however, deprecated by the Commissary-General, who declared he had not the means of feeding them.

In answer to the question, Was the Commissary-General at any time urged to increase the amount of transport? the Quartermaster-General says, Unceasingly by the Commander of the forces, personally, and by myself.

p. 183.

The real cause of the deficiency of transport appears, therefore, to have been the want of forage, not the want of ships or of animals; and a similar failure to provide the requisite forage would again limit the number of animals available for the army in the Crimea, whatever might be the number in possession of the Land Transport Corps. It may be hoped that the formation of that corps will prevent the recurrence of any similar calamities from the same cause.

With respect to deficiencies of forage, which form the next branch of our report, there is very considerable difficulty in arriving at accurate conclusions, because, previous to the 1st of January, no account of such deficiencies was kept by the Quartermasters of Cavalry; but it is admitted, both by the Regimental

page 19

and Commissariat officers, that very large deficiencies did occur in the hay and chopped straw prior to that date. There appears always to have been enough of barley in store or in the harbour, though there was occasionally much difficulty in getting at it owing to the crowded state of the shipping, and it was at all times difficult to find conveyance for it to any considerable distance. The hay and straw began to fail about the 14th of November, after the gale in which so many vessels were lost off the coast; prior to that date no serious deficiencies have been established.

During the great scarcity of hay and straw, between the 14th of November and 1st of January, the Commissariat seem to have been in nearly the same difficulty as the Quartermasters in regard to furnishing any accurate statements of their issues. The forage had to be sent up on the regimental bât animals, there being no other means of transport. It was often late before they reached Balaklava, and they were in so weak a state that the men sent with them could only venture to carry up a portion of the forage due; what was left behind would probably be considered by the Quartermaster a short issue, while the Commissariat officer would, perhaps, hold that he had made an issue in full. It is admitted on all hands that there was a great irregularity in the arrangements at that time, which we hope will be considered a sufficient reason for our not attempting to enter into any details of the deficiencies at that period. It may suffice to state that they must have been very considerable indeed, and, coupled with exposure, were no doubt the cause of very heavy loss and inefficiency.[5] There is one case, however, from which such serious consequences have arisen that it requires some special notice.

Want of
forage in

The Light Cavalry Brigade, which had for some time previously been stationed in the valley adjacent to Balaklava, was removed, first to the vicinity of head-quarters for two or three days, and thereafter, on the 1st or 2nd of November, to Inkermann, where it was stationed near the Windmill, a distance of at least seven or eight miles from Balaklava. This change, at a time when the roads were in an extremely bad state, and when there was great difficulty in obtaining the means of transport, created very serious obstacles to a proper supply of forage being obtained.

p. 47.

It is alleged by Deputy-Assistant Commissary-General Crookshanks, that there was a certain quantity of hay at Balaklava, but not the means of carrying it to the front; occasionally he managed to bring up a little, till the 14th November, when the supplies failed entirely. After that date the want of transport affected the supply of barley also, which on several days did not exceed from 1½ lbs to 2lbs. daily per horse, being all that they had to keep them alive.

p. 19.

The returns of one of the regiments show that, for the last four days they were on the ground, the average was only about 2½ lbs. for each horse, previously exhausted as they had been by the want of hay or straw during the early part of the month.

p. 47.

When the supply began to fail, the Commissariat officer referred to, who appears to have done everything in his power to meet the difficulties of the case, proposed - as he knew there was plenty of barley at Balaklava - that if a

page 20

detachment of the horses were allowed to go down daily, he would engage to bring up enough for the rest of the Brigade.

p. 79.

This proposition appears to have been brought specially under the notice of Lord Cardigan by Lieutenant-Colonel Mayow, Assistant Quartermaster-General of Cavalry, who states that his Lordship declined to accede to it, as he had previously done when a similar proposition was made to him to send the horses down for hay before that supply failed.

p. 47.

The whole Brigade remained in this state till the 2nd of December, when it was directed to return to its previous position, but by that time the horses were reduced to such a state from starvation, that they could no longer bear the weight of their riders; they had to be led down; many were left on the ground in a dying state, and of the remainder seventeen died on the road before they could reach their former station, a distance of only about six miles.

It is no part of our duty to enter into the military reasons which may have led to the detention of this Brigade on a spot where the horses could not be foraged by the Commissariat, or which may have induced a refusal to adopt the only measure by which apparently they could be subsisted; we merely call attention to the fact, as one of the instances of a deficiency of supply which formed the special subject of our inquiry.

p. 58.

With regard to the period from the 1st of January to the 31st of March last, returns have been obtained from each Quartermaster, showing the quantities of forage required, and the quantities received and deficient, of which a summary is given in the Appendix. This does not establish any apparent deficiency of importance during that period, for it was the practice when hay was wanting, to make it up by double the weight of chopped straw, or sometimes by half the weight of barley; two pounds of bran were, in like manner, occasionally substituted for the usual issue of chopped straw, so that on the whole, the horses, during this period, seem not to have been badly rationed, though not with precisely the same description of forage as they had been accustomed to on home service. In comparing the Regimental and Commissariat statements and returns on this head, it is necessary however to keep in view, that owing to the difficulty of carrying chopped straw, the men often objected to take it, and much was in consequence left behind, when it could not be exchanged for any other description of forage, though it could obviously not be considered by the Commissariat in that light, or borne on the returns as such.

Loss of
during the

With reference to the effect of the deficiency of forage and the other privations to which the horses of the army were exposed, we have ascertained the loss among them from various causes in the Cavalry and Artillery. A summary of the returns obtained on that head will be found at page 193 of Appendix, which shows the loss attributable to sickness to be as follows, for the six months from October to March inclusive:-

Strength.Died by Sickness.Ratio per cent of Deaths.
Heavy Cavalry1,05549347
Light Cavalry1,16143938

page 21

p. 69.

On referring to the loss sustained by the Commissariat animals, during the same period, it will be found rather less than in the Cavalry or Artillery; the deaths among them having, according to a return furnished by Deputy-Commissary-General Adams, amounted to about 889 out of 2,329, originally imported into the Crimea, or in the proportion of 38 per cent., a result which could scarcely have been expected, considering the advantages which Cavalry horses might be supposed to have over hard-worked baggage animals, to whom little attention could be paid at such a period.

While we have considered it our duty to point out what appear to us to be serious defects in the arrangements of the Commissariat with the army in the Crimea, as well as the consequences that have resulted from these defects, we do not mean to infer that the Commissary-General, or the other officers of that Department, have failed to make any exertion of which they were capable to provide for the exigencies of the public service, according to the measure of their ability and foresight; and it is but just to direct attention to the unusual nature of the duties required of them, where a large army occupied, as it were, a barren island which furnishes nothing except water and a limited quantity of fire-wood. The Commissariat, which appears for some time to have been without a sufficient number of hands, had also serious difficulties to encounter which could not have been foreseen. The tempest of the 14th of November was a great disaster, and the peculiarities of the harbour of Balaklava, whatever may be its advantages, created constant difficulties, especially in landing the vast supplies required for the army. The breaking up of the road from Balaklava to the front, and the impossibility of sparing from their military duties a sufficient number of men to make it practicable for Commissariat carts, had not been anticipated or provided for, and the belief, apparently shared in by the Commissariat, that Sebastopol would speedily fall, and the campaign in the Crimea terminate, though not much insisted upon by the witnesses whom we examined, was unquestionably a most influential cause of many defects in the arrangements. It appears to have been assumed, till the beginning of November, that any present inconvenience could be but of short duration, and that any expedients by which the emergencies of the moment could be overcome, were sufficient for the occasion. A man of comprehensive views might probably have risen superior to these disadvantages, and created an organization suited to the circumstance. He would doubtless at once have perceived that the established practice of procuring all supplies by tenders and contracts is not calculated to draw forth the resources of Turkey, or to make them available when required. Finding that his supplies must be drawn from provinces of the resources of which he had little knowledge, and to the inhabitants of which he was unable even to communicate his wants in any language which they could understand, he would probably have turned to good account the knowledge of the country and its resources, possessed by a large and respectable body of public servants, Her Majesty's Consuls, and he would then have found those resources more ample and more easily available than till lately they were believed to be. But it is unreasonable to expect that every man who may rise to the head of so limited a department, even after a long course of meritorious service, is to display, whenever the occasion may demand it, inventive resources and administrative capacity of a very high order.

page 22

The purely executive duties of the department appear to be well performed. The officers attached to divisions and brigades are generally intelligent and efficient; several of them are men of considerable capacity. The Generals commanding divisions and brigades, with few exceptions, expressed their satisfaction with the exertions and services of those officers, and used terms of high commendation in speaking of some of them, especially of Mr. Power, attached to the Second Division, who was absent on duty, and whom we therefore did not see.

The evidence in regard to some of the subjects of our inquiry has not yet been corrected by the officers examined, to whom it was sent for that purpose only the day before our departure from Balaklava; and certain written queries were transmitted at the same time, the answers to which will be forwarded to us. When we have received those papers, and have had an opportunity of examining in a collected form the whole of the evidence, and other documents, we shall proceed to report upon the matters to which they relate, so far as they may fall within the limits assigned to our inquiry, by the instructions received from your Lordship.

We have the honour to be
Your Lordship's most obedient Servants,
ALEX. M. TULLOCH, Colonel.

The Right Honourable The Lord Panmure, G.C.B.


[1] Appendix, p. 46. Finding that similar returns from each Division, to the end of January, had been submitted to the Committee on the Army before Sebastopol, we have compiled Tables of the Deficiencies according to each of these sources of information, which are also given in the Appendix; and as the statement in the Report of that Committee shows a greater defalcation than the returns handed in to us, it may be assumed to exhibit the maximum amount.

[2] App. pp. 13 & 47. The following table, abstracted from the store accounts, will show the quantities of farinaceous and preserved vegetable food lying in the stores at Balaklava and Scutari, when the troops were suffering in health for want of them:-

Rice.Period available.Preserved and dried potatoes.Period available.Peas. Period available.Scotch barley.Period available.
At Balaklava74,57415 Nov.32,4681 Nov.51,200 16 Dec.23,1201 Jan.
And there were lying in store at Scutari, ready to be brought over as the above supplies became reduced296,001 Nov. 6,0101 Oct.Nil...42,796* 1 Dec.
And about half that quantity from 1st October.

* [Last 3 digits virtually illegible. - MS]

[3] Among the reserve supplies at Scutari which were not brought over to the Crimea, at a time when they might have been of the utmost service to troops labouring under scurvy and insufficient nourishment, were 147,088 gallons of porter which remained in store there from the 1st December, 1854, till April or May last. It might have been impossible, considering the inadequate means of transport, to have carried any portion of this porter to the Head-Quarter Camp, but there appears no reason why it should not have been issued to the troops in the vicinity of Balaklava, as well as the numerous parties sent there from camp on fatigue duties, which would be degrees have extended the supply throughout the force in front, without the problem of carriage. It was one of the hardest consequences of the fatigue duty to Balaklava, that the men had often to remain there for the greater part of the day without food; a pint of porter and a biscuit would have obviated this, and been of material benefit to their health; such a supply would also have been most valuable for the sick.

[4] See page 47.

[5] At this time several hundred quarters of buck wheat and a species of millet seed which had been taken at the capture of the town, were lying in a large stone building close to the cattle wharf under the castle, and might, it is presumed, have been made available for some of the horses or baggage animals when there was difficulty in landing corn from the ships, but it remained in this store during the whole winter, and was still there when we left Balaklava in June, thus unnecessarily occupying a building which might have been valuable as a store for other purposes besides allowing a most useful supply for horses or cattle to go to waste.

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