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McNeill/Tulloch Commission of Enquiry

This presentation of the McNeill/Tulloch Commission of Enquiry 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:-


page 23

SECOND REPORT.

London, January, 1856.

My Lord,

BEFORE entering upon the next branch of our Report, which relates to the supplies of clothing, blankets, &c., it may be proper to advert to the condition of the troops in that respect when they arrived before Sebastopol, in the last days of September.

Separation
from
knapsacks.

The British soldier usually carries in his knapsack clothing sufficient to admit of at least one change, but on landing in the Crimea, so great was the anxiety to advance rapidly upon Sebastopol, that authority was given to leave the knapsacks in the transports, and of this permission most of the corps appear to have availed themselves. Generally, therefore, each soldier had only a shirt, a pair of boots, and a pair of socks, loosely rolled up in his blanket; and even of these a great part was lost at the battle of the Alma, or during the march. This separation from the knapsacks could have produced but little inconvenience had it terminated with the march; but, unfortunately, they were left on board of the different vessels from which the men had disembarked, and these, being urgently required to bring reinforcements and supplies, were sent to the opposite coast, carrying the knapsacks with them. It appears from the evidence that, on the average, more than six weeks elapsed before they were recovered, and then, in many cases, only after they had been plundered of a great part of their contents. The valises of the Cavalry, which were likewise left behind, shared the same fate, and the great majority of the troops were thus deprived for a considerable time, of a change of clothing.


See p. 46.

Had the whole of the knapsacks and valises been collected, under a proper guard, in one or two vessels selected for the purpose, and instructed to proceed along the coast till the army arrived before Sebastopol, no bad effects would probably have resulted from an arrangement which enabled the men to lighten the fatigue of the march; but for want of this precaution, the troops, with few exceptions, had to commence the siege operations in the beginning of October with hardly any clothing beyond what they had on. The work in trenches is peculiarly destructive, and the soldier's uniform was soon reduced to a thread-bare and tattered condition. This separation from their knapsacks not merely affected the comfort of the soldier, but was in a great measure the cause of the wretched and destitute state in which the sick and wounded arrived at Scutari, as referred to in the Report on the State of the Hospitals of the Army in the East.


In such a place as Balaklava, nothing could be purchased for the re-equipment of the soldier; he could neither wash nor change his clothes. His person consequently became covered with vermin, and where affections of the bowels prevailed, as was almost universal, the shirt rotted from filth, and had generally to be cut off his back when taken into hospital at Scutari.

As a soldier usually takes into hospital, in his knapsack, everything that is required for keeping his person in a state of cleanliness, no sufficient preparations had been made at Scutari to meet the demands for shirts and under-clothing of the thousands who arrived in this destitute condition. There was also a great want of knives, forks, and spoons, as it was the usual practice for the soldier to bring these along with him.

page 24

It is necessary to trace this accidental destitution to its true cause, viz. the separation of the men from their knapsacks, otherwise it might be supposed of an event of ordinary occurrence, arising from defective equipment, whereas no troops can be better provided in this respect than the British army.

Evidence,
p. 177.

It will be seen from the evidence of Colonel Gordon, then Assistant Quartermaster-General, that he attributes the non-recovery of the knapsacks at an early period to the General Officers of Divisions, with the exception of the Duke of Cambridge, preferring not to receive them. Or referring, however, to two of the officers who commanded Divisions on that occasion, one of them states positively that no such offer was made to him, another that he has no recollection of it, though it may have been so; the third being absent, we have had no opportunity of communicating with him on the subject.


Appendix,
p. 187.

Most of the knapsacks, with such of their contents as could be recovered, were restored to the troops by the middle of November. In a meteorological register kept at Balaklava, it is stated that till then the weather was generally fine, with little rain, but that, during the latter part of that month and a considerable portion of December, there were heavy rains, with cold nights. From the time of his landing in the Crimea, the soldier had the ordinary field equipment of a great-coat and blanket, which up to December appears to have been sufficient for warmth; but he suffered much discomfort from remaining constantly, for more than six weeks, in the same clothes, occasionally wet, without the means of changing them; and it is not improbable that the seeds of disease may thus, in some cases, have been sown. What he principally suffered from, however, during the early part of the winter, appears to have been the want of something, besides his blanket, to lay under him on the ground of his tent, which, after heavy rains, was damp or muddy.


Warm
clothing
from
England.

Exclusive of the Artillery, for whom separate warm clothing was provided, the whole force in the Crimea, at the end of November, appears to have been about 23,000 or 24,000, and the supplies which had arrived from England in the end of November and beginning of December, for the purpose of equipping them with clothing suitable for the winter, were as under:-


By Prince,
arrived
7th Nov.
By Jura,[1]
arrived
21st Nov.
By Ottawa,
arrived
28 Nov.
By Brandon,
arrived
7th Dec.
Total
Frocks, woollen and flannel 53,000 21,800 1,500 4,100 80,400
Drawers, do. do. 17,000 18,500 -- -- 35,500
Stockings and socks 35,700 16,200 17,156 -- 69,056
Militia trousers -- -- 6,000 -- 6,000
Militia coats -- -- 5,934 -- 5,934
Great-coats, line pattern -- -- 7,225 1,075 8,300
Watch-cloaks or coats 2,500 2, 350 225 -- 5,075
Blankets 16,100 4,100 350 3,475 24,025
Rugs 3,700 7,975 1,475 825 13,975
Paillasses 10,000 5,000 5,000 -- 20,000
Bolster cases -- 4,000 -- -- 4,000
Ammunition boots 12,880 13,680 3,280 -- 29,840
Shoes 6,800 2,940 1,080 -- 5,820

Had all these supplies come safely to hand, they would have furnished about three woollen frocks and three pairs of socks or stockings, as well as half that proportion of drawers, and an extra blanket to each man. There were also

page 25

enough of rugs, paillasses, and great-coats, or watch-cloaks, to have furnished, about one of each for every two men, which would have been sufficient; because, owing to the duty to be performed, only a proportion of the men could be in their tents at the same time.

App. p. 112,
113.

Unfortunately, the "Prince" was lost on 14th of November with all her supplies, but an officer was immediately dispatched by Lord Raglan to Constantinople for the purpose of making purchases to replace them, who succeeded in obtaining the quantities specified in a list given in the Appendix.


Warm
clothing
from
Constantinople.

Of these, a portion was sent over immediately by the "Brandon", "Valorous", and "Sydney". The "Queen of the South" also arrived from Malta on the 18th November with further supplies, so that there was available for distribution in the end of November and beginning of December (by which time the thermometer had not fallen below the freezing point) the following articles:-


  Per
Brandon,
arrived
6 Dec.
Per
Valorous,
arrived
27 Nov.
Per
Sydney,
arrived
6 Dec.
Per
Queen of
the South,
arrived
18 Nov.
Total
in these
four
vessels.
Per Jura,
Ottawa,
and
Brandon,
as above.
General
Total
available
for
distribution.
Frocks, woollen and flannel -- 8,082 200 -- 8,282 27,400 35,682
Drawers, do. do. 1,960 204 917 900 3,981 18,500 20,481
Stockings and socks 5,115 4,800 28,131 1,200 39,246 33,356 72,602
Great-coats -- -- -- 3,875 3,875 8,300 12,175
Watch-coats or cloaks -- -- -- 25 25 2,575 2,600
Blankets 1,266 12 2,464 2,700 6,442 7,925 14,387
Rugs -- -- -- 50 50 10,275 10,325
Paillasses -- -- -- 1,450 1,450 10,000 11,450
Ammunition boots 345 1,295 -- -- 1,640 16,960 18,600
Shoes -- -- -- -- -- 4,020 4,020
Capotes and gregoes 581 467 -- -- 998 -- 998
Comforters 1,416 672 9,955 -- 12,043 -- 12,043
Mitts 1,968 132 6,624 -- 8,724 -- 8,724
Militia Trowsers -- -- -- -- -- 6,000 6,630
[sic]
Do. Coats -- -- -- -- -- 5,934 5,934

The quantity lost in the "Prince", however, was so great, as to leave the supply very inadequate for the wants of the force till the end of December, by which time numerous vessels arrived with large quantities of warm clothing both from England and Constantinople. In the meanwhile the supplies which had come to hand might have been applied to the protection of the troops, and we shall, proceed to inquire whether steps were taken for that purpose.

Distribution
of warm
clothing.

With the exception of some articles given out to two or three regiments in the end of November, the issue of the under-clothing, consisting of woollen frocks, flannel drawers, and stockings or socks, as well as about one-half of the trousers, commenced from the Quartermaster-General's store in the first week of December, and at the same time a distribution of blankets also took place. These supplies, which were assigned to the regiments in quantities proportioned to their numbers, afforded about one suit of under-clothing, including a pair of socks, to each man, with a blanket to every two men. On the arrival of fresh supplies, in the beginning of January, each man was completed with two suits of under-clothing and socks, as well as one extra blanket. During the month of December the severity of the winter had much increased, and the medical officers describe the sufferings of the troops, for want of proper bedding, warm covering and clothing, as very serious. No circumstance was more dilated


page 26

upon by those gentlemen than the condition of the men lying on the muddy floors of their tents, with nothing under or over them except a blanket or great-coat, often quite wet. From this condition even the sick were not at that time exempt.


Rugs.

Appendix,
p. 89.

It will be observed, that amongst the supplies received as early as the 21st November, there were nearly 8,000 rugs, and that the number in store or on board of ships in the harbour, on the 7th December, exceeded 10,000 - irrespective of 3,750 lost in the "Prince". These rugs were nearly as well calculated as blankets to give protection from the cold, and were perhaps better suited to resist wet; yet, when the supply of blankets fell short, it does not appear to have occurred to any one that the rugs were available as a substitute. They continued to arrive by different vessels during the month of January, till the number amounted to 25,000; but, while the men are stated to have suffered severely for want of sufficient clothing, the return of clothing received and issued from the Quartermaster-General's store, shows that the troops were supplied with only 800 out of 24,000.


This circumstance is the more unaccountable, because, on the 18th November, Major Wetherall was directed to purchase, at Constantinople, 22,000 blankets, "or rugs".

Evidence,
p. 165.

The only explanation that has been offered to account for the non-issue of these rugs, is the statement of Major Wetherall, that he occasionally mentioned to the Quartermasters of different corps that there were such things in store, and that they declined taking them. We could not learn, however, from any of the Quartermasters whom we questioned on the subject, or even from their superior officers, that they were aware of the existence of these rugs; and certainly it is not usual to leave it to the Quartermaster of a corps to determine what amount of covering the soldiers shall have. He acts merely as the authorized receiver of the stores for the corps; and it is not easy to conceive on what grounds any officer could decline to receive these supplies, which were of the best description, at a time when the men were suffering seriously from the cold, and had no means of keeping themselves warm except by using additional coverings.


Blankets.

Appendix,
p. 62.

When the intelligence of the loss of the "Prince", and of the increasing severity of the climate in the Crimea, was received in England, additional supplies of blankets were sent out. On the 24th and 27th December, two vessels arrived at Balaklava, bringing 25,000, a number which was more than sufficient to have given a third blanket to every man. This would have enabled him to have two dry blankets in his tent, besides the one which he generally brought in wet from the trenches, an arrangement which had been found very beneficial in the Naval Brigade.


Evidence,
p. 169.

It will be observed, that Colonel Gordon in his evidence, assigns as a reason for the non-issue of many of these supplies, that he conceived the men had enough, and he enumerates a long list of articles supplied to them; but he overlooks the fact, that the greater number of these were not issued till about the end of January, or beginning of February, whereas the period during which the men principally suffered, was in the months of December and January, when it appears that there were supplies enough in hand to have averted much of that suffering.


The vessels before referred to, which arrived about the middle and end of November, had also brought 21,450 paillasses, to protect the soldiers from the moisture of the ground, of which, however, 10,000

page 27

were lost in the Prince. It was intended that they should be stuffed with hay or straw, but at that time these were deficient in the camp, and no effort seems to have been made to provide a substitute, though wool, from the opposite coast, might probably have been procured, if proper measures had been taken for that purpose. Had even the paillass-sack, together with one of the rugs in store, been issued, it would have afforded the solder some protection from the moisture of the ground, till a better bed could be procured for him; none of the paillasses, however, were issued to the troops, and of a subsequent supply of 6,000, only about one-half were used for the hospitals: the whole of the rest remained in store.

It was not necessary that there should be a paillasse for each man, and, indeed, a tent could not have contained that number; one to every two men would have been sufficient, for nearly one-half were out on duty at night; and even in the end of November the number in store would have afforded that proportion.

Great-coats.

By the end of November, or beginning of December, about 12,000 great-coats also had arrived in Balaklava. Of these, there remained in store, during the months of December and January, when they were most urgently required by the men, upwards of 9,000, besides nearly 2,000 watch-cloaks. These numbers would have furnished one to every two men, and, supposing one-half to be on duty, would have afforded to each man a dry great-coat or cloak to put on when he returned to his tent from the trenches, instead of lying down, as he often did, in one that was wet and muddy.


Appendix,
p. 19.



Appendix,
p. 113.

But it was not necessary to have waited even so late as the end of November to have commenced an extensive issue of additional great-coats, for in order that there might be a proper reserve in store of so essential an article of equipment, 10,000 had been sent from England to Scutari so early as the month of July; of these 3,325 only were sent to Varna, and the remainder lay in store at Scutari till the middle of December. These seems to be no reason why these should not have been at Balaklava whenever the approach of cold weather required additional clothing; and with the 11,000 which arrived in the end of November they would have afforded ample covering at a comparatively early period for all the men exposed on night duty; and on the arrival, in the end of December, of the gregoes, or hooded great-coats, purchased by Major Wetherall at Constantinople, every man might have been supplied either with one of these or a great-coat.


One of the reasons assigned for not issuing the regimental great-coats, was, that the regulations of the service, as established by the Queen's warrant, did not authorize such issue more frequently than once in three years. The proportion of corps in the Crimea entitled to them in terms of that warrant was very limited, and it does not appear that any instructions dispensing with its restrictions were received there, or that any intimation was given of the intention with which they were sent out. Had an application been made, however, it is not probable that the General commanding would have refused to authorize, on his own responsibility, the distribution of articles of clothing which were likely to contribute to the health and efficiency of the troops, and if the Quartermaster-General doubted his own powers in this matter, it appears to us that he ought to have applied for that authority.

Appendix,
p. 114.

We have referred to the Ordnance Department, through which these supplies were sent to the Crimea, in order to ascertain whether any restriction was placed upon their issue. From the reply there appears to have been none,


page 28

and that the whole were forwarded for the use of the army, without any limitation or instruction on that head.

It does not seem to have occurred to the officers who were charged with the distribution of this clothing, that so large a quantity of great-coats, could hardly have been sent at one time for the mere purpose of replacing such as were worn out. Used only for that purpose, the number amounting ultimately to 37,000, would have been sufficient for nearly five years: and the quantity constantly arriving, might have convinced them that it was not intended to assign any other limit to the distribution than the wants of the troops. No corps was likely to require the renewal of its great-coats so unexpectedly, as not to admit of their being sent from England, if the stores in Balaklava could not furnish them.

It might, however, be expedient, when supplies, the issue of which is regulated by royal warrant, are sent out to be otherwise distributed, that some intimation to that effect should be given, in order that officers may not be subjected to any risk of personal and pecuniary responsibility by setting aside the authority of the warrant.

Coatees
and
Trousers.

On the 28th of November the "Ottawa" had arrived at Balaklava, bringing 6,000 militia coatees and 6,000 trousers which had been dispatched from England on receipt of intelligence that the clothing of the troops had suffered greatly from the operations of the siege. It might have been expected that these would be distributed immediately, but the whole of the coatees, and one-half of the trousers, were still in store six months after their arrival. The reason assigned was, that the Secretary-at-War's letter of the 9th November, 1854, announced "the immediate shipment" of an extra suit of clothing for each soldier, but it is understood, that for some of the corps, this clothing did not arrive in the Crimea till March, 1855.


We are desirous to direct attention to the circumstance, that the preceding observations, relating to the non-issue of warm or winter clothing, which was available in the Crimea, refer exclusively to the interval between the end of November, 1854, when the first supplies of that description arrived, and the middle of January, 1855, a period of about six weeks. After the latter date, clothing and covering of every description arrived in such quantities, that in the course of a few weeks the men had more than enough; - buffalo robes, to protect them from the moisture of the ground, sheep-skin coats, fur caps, waterproof coats and leggings, were all issued in profusion, as well as a more limited supply of long boots suited to the muddy roads and soil of that country; but between the beginning of December and the middle of January, they received nothing except the warm under-clothing previously mentioned, and about 3,000 pairs of trousers. It was during this period that the sufferings of the men were greatest; and the liberal issues of the subsequent period could not repair the evil.

Boots and
Shoes.

Throughout the greater part of the winter, the troops suffered much from the want of proper boots and shoes, not because there was any deficiency of them in store, but because, in a cold climate, the men required to wear more than one pair of socks or stockings, and because their feet had swollen so much from the effects of the cold, and from rarely taking off their boots and shoes, lest they should be unable to get them on again, that comparatively few were large enough. This was a difficulty which had not been anticipated, in preparing these supplies in England many months previously, when it was uncertain where the troops might winter. They are generally made of certain

page 29

specified sizes, which, under ordinary circumstances, are sufficiently large, and as no suggestion was received from officers commanding corps to have the sizes altered, the expediency of any deviation from the ordinary standard does not appear to have been considered when supplies were forwarded to the Crimea.


It must not be assumed, however, because the sizes of the boots had not been adapted to the exigences [sic] of the peculiar service and climate in which the men were employed, that the majority were unserviceable. Boots are usually issued from the Ordnance Department in five sizes, as under, and the following numbers of each size are sent in every packet of 80 -

Measurement of each size. No. of each size sent out.
No. 6 - 10¼ inches. 2 of the smallest, No. 6.
" 7 - 10 5/8 " 25 of No. 7.
" 8 - 11 " 25 of No. 8.
" 9 - 11 [2½]/8 " 20 of No. 9.
" 10 - 11 5/8 " 8 of No. 10.
Appendix,
p. 99.

As the difference between the smallest size and that of No. 8, is ¾ of an inch in length, with a corresponding enlargement in the other parts, there can be little doubt that about 2/3 at least of all the boots sent out must have been available for the smaller and middle sized men: this view is confirmed by the fact, that of all that were issued in December, January, and February, only about five thousand pairs were returned into store as being too small; consequently, if a proper application had been made of these supplies on hand, it was the larger sized men only, who were likely to have suffered from a deficiency, owing to the sizes Nos. 9 and 10, intended for them, having been given up to the others.


For the men who could not be fitted otherwise, supplies of Turkish boots and Frank boots were brought over to the number of 1,404 in December, and 1,625 in January, these quantities were, very probably, too limited, but to find ready-made boots of an unusual size, must, no doubt, have been a difficult matter even at Constantinople.

With this exception, the supply of boots and shoes appears to have been sufficient to meet the demand, notwithstanding the loss of 12,880 of the former, and 1,800 of the latter in the "Prince", but it is possible that difficulties may have occurred at first in the distribution, owing to some of the casks not having been packed in the usual manner.

On the 2nd December, being the earliest date at which we have any returns of the Quartermaster-General's Stores, there were on hand 15,382 pairs of ammunition boots; from 2,000 to 3,000 more were received into store in that month, while the number issued was only 10,329. In January, upwards of 12,000 more were received; we cannot state exactly the number issued, owing to the difficulty of distinguishing between those sent to regiments and those which were merely transferred to the department at Kadikoi, though entered as issues in the Quartermaster-General's returns; but the large supply on hand is not likely to have been exhausted in the course of that month, and the quantity received into store in February and the succeeding months, was so great as to prevent the probability of any scarcity being experienced afterwards.

It seems to be doubtful, whether any individual can be held responsible for the proper adaptation of such supplies to the particular service on which troops are engaged, or for the exercise of the foresight required to insure such

page 30

adaptation. Nominally, that responsibility may rest with the Secretary of State for War, but, practically, it is impossible that he should attend to every such detail.

Appendix,
p. 196.

So long as the men had to pay for their boots and shoes, there was a disinclination to purchase them from the public store, on account of their alleged inferiority in quality. Like all articles obtained by contract from the lowest bidder, the workmanship was bad, and totally unfit for endurance in the tenacious soil of the trenches, or for travelling along the muddy roads, in which the men were often half-leg deep. It is stated, that even when sufficiently large, they were altogether unsuited to resist the wet, and that the soles frequently came off in a few days. It was not until the arrival of boots coming up to the knee, and of superior materials and workmanship, that the condition of the soldier appears to have been materially improved in this respect, or that he was able to do his duty without the discomfort arising from being ill shod in such a soil.


Similar complaints were made by the commanding officers regarding the quality and workmanship of the clothing. It is described as extremely spongy in its texture, badly put together, and quite unfit to stand the tear and wear of the rough work of the trenches. Some of the officers who had examined the clothing of the French soldiers, stated that it was greatly superior in texture to that which was supplied to the British troops.

The experience gained in the Crimea appears to establish the expediency of improving the quality and workmanship of every part of the soldier's clothing. But it would be vain to look for improvement, so long as it is procured from the man who offers it the cheapest, instead of from him who manufactures it of the best quality.

Evidence,
p. 164.

The arrangements relating to the issues of the supplies from the Quartermaster-General's stores appear to have been of questionable expediency. The officers commanding regiments, brigades, or divisions, were not made aware what articles were available for the use of the men, and were informed that they need not send in requisitions for what they wanted, because, whenever there were supplies for distribution, approved requisitions would be sent to them for the proportions appropriated to their respective commands. The special wants of each corps were not, therefore, brought to the notice of the head of the Department, as they would have been if requisitions had been sent in for what was required; and it appears that rugs, paillasses, blankets, great-coats, and uniforms, remained undistributed, for which requisitions would undoubtedly have been made, if the commanding officers had known that they were in store. On these grounds, Colonel Gordon acquits commanding officers of all responsibility in this respect.


We would venture to suggest, that the commanding officers of brigades, or divisions, should be informed, at least once a month, of the contents of the Quartermaster-General's store, and that they should be held responsible for the transmission to head-quarters of requisitions for whatever articles they consider essential to the welfare of their men, whether these articles may be in store or not. Commanding officers would then know how far the stores were capable of supplying the wants of their men, and the Quartermaster-General would know what those wants were which his stores were unable to supply.

See p. 61.
See pp. 94
to 103.

In the Appendix, we have given returns of the quantities on hand in the Quartermaster-General's store at Balaklava, on the 2nd December, and the daily receipts and issues from that date to the end of March. In the course


page 31


Appendix,
p. 8.




App. pp.
90-93.

of this investigation, however, it came to our knowledge, that but little reliance could be placed upon the accuracy of the returns subsequent to the 25th January. On comparing them with the quantities in store and issued, according to the Quartermaster-General's books, it was found that the two accounts did not correspond, in some important items, by several thousands. From the evidence of Major Wetherall, and of Colonel Gordon, it appears, that while, by the returns of Mr. Archer (the Commissariat officer in charge of the Quartermaster-General's store at Balaklava), 36,231 great-coats had been received into that store, the Quartermaster-General's books show as in store and issued, no more than 23,880. A still greater discrepancy is observable in the blankets, of which Mr. Arches states nearly 75,000 to have been received into store between the 5th December and the 28th February, whereas the Quartermaster-General's books show only 56,950. These discrepancies, as well as others in regard to different items, had given rise to much correspondence between the Quartermaster-General's Department and the Commissariat, which did not result in any satisfactory rectification of the accounts. The difference appears, in some measure to have arisen from Mr. Archer's being in the habit of writing off, as issues, numerous supplies which had not been distributed to the troops, but which had merely been transferred from the store at Balaklava to the reserve store at Kadikoi, or to store ships in the harbour; because he had pointed out, in the end of January, when it became necessary to occupy additional storehouses, that he could only be responsible for such as were in his own custody at Balaklava.


Before submitting these returns in the Appendix, we endeavoured to reconcile them so far as the explanations we received would permit, but the discrepancies are still too great to warrant much reliance upon the returns, of either Department, of a date subsequent to the end of January. A great accumulation of stores then began to take place, and, by the end of March, had so much increased as to be almost unmanageable.

App. p.
94-99.

From the receipts of the different descriptions of clothing and equipment, as given in the returns, it will be seen that, however, much the troops may have suffered in the early part of the winter, there was not at any time subsequent to the end of November, any actual deficiency in the Crimea, of articles which might have been made conducive to their health and comfort, and that, at a later period, the supplies were so profuse as to cause some embarrassment besides entailing a considerable expense for the hire of store-ships, which, under a better regulated system of supply, would have been unnecessary.


App. pp.
116-121.

With the view of procuring further information in regard to these issues, we have obtained from officers commanding corps a return, showing the dates on which the different articles of warm and extra clothing, were received at each corps. From these it must be inferred, that, in many cases, the supplies did not reach the men for a considerable time after they appear, from the Quartermaster-General's returns, to have been issued. But there is no reason to believe that the delay was in any degree attributable to that department. Owing to the deficiency of transport, these supplies may have remained in Balaklava for a considerable time before they could be conveyed to the front, or in any other way be made available for the use of the men.


There is a similar discrepancy between the Regimental and the Quartermaster-General's returns, in regard to the quantity issued to each corps, and to which we were at first disposed to attach considerable importance; but we

page 32

found that the Quartermaster-General's store-keeper entered as issued every-thing that had been apportioned to the troops, and for which an authorized requisition had been produced; whereas many of the Quartermasters of the corps, owing to the reduction in the numbers of their men by death, sickness, and absence, after the supplies had been authorized, did not find it necessary to draw all that the requisitions authorized. A series of errors has thus arisen which it is impossible to rectify.

The Quartermaster-General's returns, however, upon which we have founded our conclusions, show the amounts and the dates of the authorized requisitions, and, therefore, the largest quantity that could have been issued to the troops, and the earliest date at which the supplies could have gone out of the store.

Tents.

Numerous complaints were made regarding the tents, principally that many of them were old, thin, and worn out, and that a sufficient number of marquees had not been available for the hospitals. It may, therefore, be necessary briefly to advert to this supply, although our information in regard to it is very imperfect, owing to the interruption of our inquiries in the Quartermaster-General's department, from the causes previously referred to.


See p. 480.

It appears from a return, printed in the Appendix to the third Report of the "Committee on the Army before Sebastopol", that the total number of tents issued to the army, up to the 31st March 1855, was - Hospital Marquees, 194; Officers' Marquees, 223; and Circular Tents, 10,736. Of these, it is there stated that none had been previously issued, except 65 Hospital Marquees, 101 Officers' Marquees, and 1,238 Circular Tents, which had been employed only during the temporary encampment at Chobham; 122 of the Circular Tents had also been used elsewhere. Considering that the ordinary duration of a tent is generally from two to three campaigns, and that those in question were examined, and all requisite repairs effected, before they were again issued, it is improbable that they could have been in an insufficient state. It is more likely that complaints on this head have arisen from the insufficiency of any tents, of the ordinary structure, to afford shelter against the inclemency of the winter in the Crimea.


The scale on which the Circular Tents were issued was, -

To Officers of Infantry and Cavalry ( 2 Circular Tents to each field-officer.
(1 Do. to each other officer.
To Infantry Regiments. ( 1 Do. to every 15 men.
( 4 Do. extra for guards.
To Cavalry Regiments. ( 1 Do. to every 12 men.
( 4 Do. extra for guards.

Each regiment took out a sufficient number of tents on this scale for the full establishment, though many were considerably below it, and the drafts subsequently forwarded to the Crimea also took out tents proportioned to their strength. There must, therefore, have been enough, beyond what was really necessary for the accommodation of the troops, to replace any that might have become unserviceable, either from wear and tear or from accident, but a reserve of some 500 tents was also sent out in the course of the summer, expressly to provide for any wants. It would be superfluous to go further into the particulars of this supply. That the number of tents

page 33

furnished to the army much exceeded what they were ever likely to require, is sufficiently established by the fact of its having, at the beginning of December, been more than equal to one-fourth of the numerical force then present.

Hospital
marquees.

In order to provide against any want of Hospital Marquees, each regiment whether of Cavalry or Infantry, too out at least one with it; a few went out in the waggons of the Ambulance Corps, and a reserve of 70 were sent out at the request of Dr. Smith, on the 29th April, 1854, and reached Varna in August, where they were distributed, as stated in page 115 of Appendix.

Altogether there could not have been fewer than 120 hospital marquees in possession when the force left for the Crimea, yet, in the end of that year, it appears from the Report of the Medical Commissioners (page 9), that there were only 37 marquees with the whole force. The regiments, it is understood, left their marquees with their heavy baggage at Varna, beyond which we have been unable to trace them. It is said that a large quantity of stores was lost or abandoned there after the removal of the troops, of which these may have formed a part; but we are without any decided evidence to that effect.

Hut accommo
dation.

When it became necessary, in consequence of the advanced state of the season, to provide some better shelter than tents for the troops, great difficulties presented themselves. The whole of the country, within the narrow limits occupied by the army, had already been denuded of wood for the sake of fuel; most of the houses of the former inhabitants had been destroyed for the same object; and even the loose surface stones had, in most places, been used up in building low walls to afford a slight shelter for the regimental horses, or for cooking places: consequently, few materials of any kind were available, except what could be imported.

No scarcity of wood existed along the shores of the Black Sea, but the difficulty was to provide it at the Camp in sufficient quantities for building purposes. Hired labour could not be obtained, and the demands for the services in the trenches, and for other military duties, were such that they could not be spared to prepare it, even had they been capable of doing so.

As soon as it was decided, therefore, that the army was to winter in the Crimea, vessels were despatched by Lord Raglan to several of the ports in the Black Sea, in the hope of obtaining boarding and scantling of such dimensions as to admit of being cut into the required lengths, to afford shelter. Contracts were also entered into in England, about the middle of November, for wooden huts, of which the parts were so fitted that, with the aid of the printed directions and lithographed plans, which accompanied them, the whole might be put together, even by unskilled workmen.

These huts were framed of the lightest material that could with safety be used, the boards being only about three-quarters of an inch in thickness; they were 28 feet long, 16 feet wide, and from 11 to 12 feet in height to the ridge pole, with a gradual slope to about 6 feet at the side, and calculated to contain from twenty to twenty-five persons, though, under ordinary circumstances, they would scarcely have been considered sufficient for half that number. The men were raised from the ground by sloping floors, on each side, of inch-plank, leaving an unfloored space of about three feet wide down the centre, in which there was a stove for the purpose of cooking and warmth. The total weight of each hut, including the iron work, was about two and a-half tons. Of these nearly 1,400 were sent out. Another description of wooden hut, but less complete, and formed of heavier timber,

page 34

was obtained from Trieste, to the number it is understood, of nearly 100, consequently, there can be no doubt that a sufficiency of hut accommodation, or building materials, was provided for all, had it only been practicable to make it available.

The difficulties which subsequently arose in regard to land transport do not appear to have been contemplated when these huts were ordered; otherwise it must have occurred to the authorities, that when the whole land transport of the army was insufficient to carry to the front the supplies necessary for the subsistence of the men, the arrival of 2,500 tons of building material was more likely to add to the confusion of a crowded harbour, and crowded wharfs, than to diminish the sufferings of the troops. Even now it is doubtful whether the labour undergone by the men in carrying those huts to the heights, during the months of January and February, was compensated by the advantages derived from them, though these were admitted to be great. Some of the commanding officers declined to employ their men on that duty, believing that the evils were greater than the advantages.

The first arrival of the loose boarding and scantling from ports in the Black Sea took place on the 15th November, and the distribution commenced on the 2nd December, when Major Hall was appointed to superintend it, whose evidence, in regard to the mode of distribution and the extent to which it was carried, will be found at page 190.

Boarding
and
scantling.

The quantities received and the vessels by which they were brought, as well as the dates of their arrival, are as follow:-


Date of Arrival. Names of
Vessels.
Number of
Boards and
Planks.
Number of
Pieces of
Scantling.
Remarks.
1854        
November 25th. Cottingham 14,431 1,699  
1855        
January 1st. Paramatta 10,560 3,793  
" 6th. Sea Nymph 22,738    
February 3rd Surinam 1,255 760  
" 9th Charity 436 217  
" 10th Niagara 1,518    
" 12th Blundell 12,761 6,894  
March 1st Herefordshire 675 498  
" 3rd Lion 1,030 5,578 These boards were lent to the Department by
the Commissary-General at a time of scarcity.
"8th St. Hilda 5,640    
"13th William Hutt 6,628    
  Total 77,672 19,434  

Though this supply was estimated to provide shelter for 10,000 men and 3,500 horses, it could be of little use during the winter, even if there had been opportunities of conveying it to the front; for, owing to a want of proportion in the quantities which arrived of scantling for rafters and uprights

page 35

as compared with planks and boarding, most of the latter received by the "Sea Nymph", on the 6th January, were of little or no use till the arrival of the "Blundell", with a large quantity of scantling, on the 12th February; so that, for upwards of six weeks, the supply available for building purposes was limited to the cargoes of the first two ships. It is probable that this circumstance may have given rise to the complaints of wood having been refused during this period, though there was abundance in store. There was plenty, certainly; but not of a suitable description for building purposes, as boards from an inch to an inch-and-a-half thick, could not be made to serve the purpose of uprights, particularly where tempestuous weather was to be expected.

Efforts were made by scarping the sides of hills to obtain cover with a very limited quantity of scantling, particularly for horses and baggage-animals; but this expedient only afforded a very partial remedy.

The supply obtained by the vessels before referred to, was chiefly used by the Royal Artillery, the Cavalry, the 71st and 93rd Regiments at Balaklava, and two or three of the corps in front; but it must be borne in mind, that, for the reasons before specified, comparatively few of the buildings for those regiments could be erected till the severest part of the winter was over.

A detailed statement of the quantity distributed to each regiment up to 30th April, handed in by Major Hall, will be found in p. 124 of Appendix, of which the following is a summary:-

  Boards and planks. Scantling pieces.
The total was 59,890 11,829
And there remained on hand at that date, as shown at page 125 of Appendix 641 1,500
Total accounted for 60,531 13,328
The total quantity received originally was 77,672 19,434
Unaccounted for according to the returns furnished 17,141 6,105

It is stated by Major Hall, that great difficulty was experienced during the winter in the custody of the timber, in consequence of the want of space near the wharfs to stack it properly, and that a considerable loss was also sustained in conveying it to its destination by fatigue parties; both of which circumstances may no doubt have contributed to so large a proportion being unaccounted for, as appears in the above summary.

Huts from
Trieste.

The Trieste huts were not received by the Engineer's department, and, therefore, we are unable to furnish any particulars in regard to the distribution of them: it is understood that they were principally used for stores, civil establishments, and the accommodation of some of the labourers and followers attached to the army, as the boarding and scantling was of too heavy a description to admit of being readily moved to the localities occupied by the troops.


Huts from
England.

The huts constructed in England were ready within a very short period, but considerable difficulty arose in obtaining transport, so that the first cargo did not arrive at Balaklava till the 25th December. Three more arrived in the course of that month, five in the first week of January, three at the end of that


page 36

month, and the remainder in February. Before the first vessel arrived however, the troops had to be employed in carrying provisions to the front, and so much had their strength been reduced by their sufferings, and such was the state of the roads, that a weight of from 20 lb. to 25 lb. was as much as a man could bring up from Balaklava. Indeed, it is stated in evidence, that men could not have carried their arms, accoutrements, and ammunition from the Heights to Balaklava and back in a day, through such mud as it was necessary to traverse. It consequently required from 250 to 300 men to carry up a single hut sufficient to accommodate, at the utmost 25 men; and as, at this rate, it was impossible to spare a sufficient number from their other duties, the attempt had to be abandoned, although that accommodation, if there had been transport, would have been of the utmost advantage during the rest of the winter.

It appears from the evidence of the Commissary-General, that 270 Spanish mules were appropriated by Lord Raglan to the conveyance of these huts; but when we arrived, early in March, although they had been erected for a considerable portion of the corps in the immediate vicinity of Balaklava, only two or three of those in front were hutted; by great exertion a few huts had also been got up there for hospitals.

A summary of the information received from officers commanding corps, in reply to No. 20 of the printed queries, shows, that by the end of April or beginning of May, the Guards, Cavalry, Royal Horse Artillery, and nine Infantry Corps, with the Artillery of two Divisions, had been completely hutted; that eight Infantry Corps were still without any huts; that twelve Infantry Corps, the Artillery of three Divisions, Naval Brigade, and Siege Train, had huts for their hospitals only; and that eleven Infantry Corps, with the Royal Marines, were partially hutted, to the extent from one-fourth to one-half of the men.

Evidence,
p. 182.

The annexed letter from Captain Keane of the Royal Engineers, the officer in charge of the wooden huts sent from England, shows generally the state of the supply, and the reason why it was not sooner made applicable to the accommodation of the men.


Shelter for
horses.

The date at which the hutting of the Cavalry commenced was in no case earlier than the end of January or beginning of February, and it was not completed before the middle of March, by which time the severity of the season had so far abated, that this shelter was of comparatively little importance. Considering that these men were within about a mile of the store where the wood might be obtained, that they had no work in the trenches, and that the only duties likely to interfere with the application both of horses and men to this important object was the carrying up of their own forage from Balaklava, and furnishing parties occasionally to bring down sick and carry up provisions to the front, (which seems never to have occupied more than about a fifth part of the whole,) it appears strange that more rapid progress was not made in obtaining the advantage of hut accommodation, particularly when they are described as having suffered so much in their tents.


Evidence,
p. 10.

Considering, also, the suffering and severe loss of horses from exposure to the weather in the commencement of the winter, there appears to have been a want of promptitude or ingenuity in devising for them some means of temporary shelter, such as saved the baggage-horses of the Sappers and Miners at Balaklava. Experience has now proved that even a very moderate degree of shelter would have been sufficient to save the lives of many of the horses, if not


page 37

to maintain them in serviceable condition; and it must be presumed that such measures were considered practicable, for a proposal to erect, with the assistance of his men, some sort of cover for the horses of the corps, appears to have been made by the officer commanding the Scots Greys, but the manner in which it is stated to have been received by the Lieutenant-General commanding the Cavalry was calculated to deter other officers from making any similar proposal.

Causes of
Mortality.

The returns of sickness and mortality, furnished by the medical officers, relate to matters which are beyond the limits assigned to this inquiry, and therefore have not been submitted on this occasion; but the mortality in the Crimea has been to remarkable not to excite a strong desire to ascertain, if possible, its causes. The medical evidence appears to be conclusive against attributing it to anything peculiarly unfavourable in the climate, and all the officers, of whatever rank or profession, whom we examined, referred to overwork, improper diet, exposure to cold and moisture, with deficient shelter, inadequate clothing, and defective boots, as the causes of disease. Some of the witnesses appeared to attribute greater influence to one of these causes, some to another, but there can be no doubt that the mortality was really the effect, not of any one cause apart from the others, but of a combination of the whole. It was greatest amongst the infantry corps employed in front, upon whom the duty fell most severely; but those corps were also more exposed to the other causes of disease. The harbour of Balaklava was the source of all supplies, and these corps necessarily suffered more than the rest of the army from the deficiency of transport. When the men were compelled, in consequence, to carry up their own stores of every sort, they suffered in proportion to the distance to be traversed in the mud and the length of time they were exposed to the weather.


The corps stationed in front also suffered more from the deficiency of everything that was necessary to the proper treatment of the sick; they could not even get their share of such supplies as could be procured at Balaklava. Men who were struck down by disease in the camp in front had thus less chance of recovering than those of other corps, and the proportion of deaths to admissions into hospital is accordingly much greater than in the rest of the army. But that is not all: when patients were to be sent to Scutari the difficulty of removing them from the front to the harbour was sometimes found to be insuperable, in consequence of the want of transport, while the corps stationed near Balaklava removed them with comparative facility. Even when the means of conveyance were provided, it was a formidable demand upon a sick man's remaining strength, to require him to sit, exposed to the weather, upon a cavalry horse or a pack mule, floundering through deep mud, for the two or three hours which the journey from the front to Balaklava occupied during a great part of the winter. His chance of recovery was then further diminished by the delay, the exposure, and the fatigue attending his removal.

The mortality in the whole army was further increased by the diseases which broke out at Scutari, and carried off many men who had entered the hospital with a prospect of speedy recovery, or who had actually recovered from the diseases for which they were admitted. Had the sanitary condition of those establishments been from the first what it afterwards became, there can be little doubt that the mortality would have been perceptibly reduced.

page 38

Medical
Supplies.

The supplies and arrangements connected with the Medical Department of the army in the Crimea have been investigated by a Medical Commission, whose report supersedes the necessity for any detailed consideration by us of those subjects; but as much of the evidence we have received relates to a period subsequent to the date of that report, we think it right to state shortly the results of the information we have obtained.


The army landed in the Crimea without hospital marquees conveyance for the sick, or any other supplies for the hospitals than were contained in the pair of panniers belonging to each corps, and the supplies of almost every description required for the proper accommodation and treatment of the sick in camp seem to have been very deficient till the middle of February. There was also a scarcity of cots, or of any substitute, such as boards and trestles; but this was not much complained of, because they could not have been used in the tents in which most of the sick were placed. There was a great deficiency of mattresses; and straw, or other materials to fill paillasses, could not be supplied; and even as late as the month of April many of the sick in front had no other bedding than blankets of buffalo robes, the latter of which were not issued till the end of January. They suffered still more, perhaps, from the want of adequate shelter, and sufficient space to admit of their being properly attended to; as, owing to the want of hospital marquees in the camp, the greater part of the sick lay in circular tents,[2] which are altogether unfitted for the purposes of an hospital, and it was not until the huts sent out from England were erected, in February and March, that the accommodation was such as to admit of proper medical treatment.

Nearly all the medical officers of the Infantry Corps in front complained of the want of transport to bring up from Balaklava even the most indispensable supplies to the hospital. Major-General Codrington, commanding the first Brigade of the Light Division, says:

The hospitals suffered terribly from this want of transport. Their state was frightful, from the increasing number of sick, the diminishing means of transport, and the consequent impossibility of doing anything for the sick.

During the month of February the supplies of medicines and medical comforts began to improve, and by the middle of March they seem to have been generally ample. The issues of blankets, and the supply of buffalo robes in the end of January, had previously provided a tolerable substitute for bedding, and, when the hospital huts were erected, these, together with such marquees as the corps had previously possessed, afforded sufficient and comfortable accommodation. In the month of April when fresh bread was issued, the medical officers generally declared that they were perfectly satisfied with the supplies and the accommodation provided for their patients.

Even after the supplies of medicines had become generally abundant, it occasionally happened that some of those which were most employed by the

page 39

medical officers could not be supplied from the general store. Thus there had been a deficiency of opium and of some other medicines much employed during the prevalence of diseases of the bowels, and after the store had been amply replenished with those remedies, the decrease of that class of ailments and the increase of fevers caused a demand for quinine which the stores were not always able to satisfy.

The proportion of deaths to admissions in some of the diseases bears painful evidence, particularly in the month of December, to the absence of those remedies on which reliance could best be placed for relief. In cholera, for instance, the usual loss has, in our army, been about 1 in 3 at home, or on foreign stations where this epidemic has prevailed; but in the Crimea, during the period under observation, it was 2 in every 3 attacked.

Appendix,
pp. 130,
140, 147.

As instances of the difficulty of procuring medicines, we have given the requisitions made by several of the medical officers, with the quantities received; but it must not be supposed, because no deficiency appears in the requisitions of others, that they received all they wanted. Most of the officers, finding it useless to send for medicines and medical comforts not in store, limited their requisitions to such as they knew could be given, and did the best they could with them.

The circumstances in which the Medical Officers were placed, owing to the want of those supplies, as well as of every description of diet, accommodation, or comfort, essential to the recovery of the sick, were the most painful that can be conceived. We prefer leaving it to be described in their own words, and shall confine ourselves to the expression of our conviction that if they were unsuccessful in their treatment to an extent which has seldom occurred in the annals of medical practice, it has not been for want of constant attention and unceasing and energetic efforts on behalf of their patients. The appeals of some of them to those authorities whom they, perhaps erroneously, conceived had the power of assisting them, were most forcible and pathetic; and if all did not make such appeals, it was because they found that when made by others they produced no result.

The Inspector-General states that the deficiencies in the general store at Balaklava arose partly from a failure in the depôt at Scutari to comply with his requisitions and the tardiness with which the supplies from thence were sometimes forwarded, as well as from the omission, on some occasions, of any notice of their shipment, in consequence of which they were not landed. Difficulty and delay were also sometimes caused by their being stowed under a great part of the cargo which it was necessary to discharge before they could be got at.

Though the correspondence at pp. 164 and 172 of Appendix no doubt shows that repeated applications were made by the Inspector General to the reserve depôt at Scutari for medicines and medical comforts, to meet the wants of the hospitals in the Crimea, we feel bound to express our opinion, that at a time when the existence of a great portion of the sick was imperilled by the absence of these supplies, something more than the mere transmission of the usual official demand on the Purveyor or the Apothecary at Scutari was necessary, to relieve the Inspector General of his responsibility; and when he found the inattention to these applications causing a delay of nearly two months in the arrival of supplies for which the demand was urgent, it appears to us that he ought to have taken some more decided steps to insure attention to his requisitions. A proper officer might have been sent to Scutari, with instructions to bring back whatever was most urgently required for the hospital.

page 40

In some cases, however, the deficiency appears to have arisen from imperfect arrangements in the Crimea. The storekeeper in charge of the medical stores at Balaklava had instructions to intimate when any drugs were running short, and the sufficiency of the supply seems to have depended chiefly upon his vigilance and foresight; but as he was not informed of changes in the prevailing diseases, he could not anticipate the demand to which that change would give rise, and it was only from the extent of the requisitions for particular remedies, which perhaps exhausted the supply in store, that he became aware of the necessity of replenishing his stock.


Appendix,
p. 153.

Appendix,
p. 154.

It therefore happened, that from the 30th of March to the 20th of April, when fever most prevailed, and quinine was extensively used as a remedy, and, in some corps, still more extensively as a prophylactic, there was none of that medicine in the general store at Balaklava, though a large supply was lying at Scutari. There was, indeed, a certain quantity in most of the divisional stores, but in one there was none, and several corps which had been using it extensively, were thus suddenly deprived of the remedy on which their medical officers had chiefly relied. This deficiency was partial and temporary, but its occurrence after so much of public attention had been directed to the subject, indicated a defect in the system, which was pointed out to Lord Raglan in a letter of the 27th April.


Hospital
Orderlies
and
Attendants.

Numerous complaints were made by the medical officers of the difficulty of obtaining suitable persons to perform the duties of Hospital Serjeants, Hospital Orderlies, and personal Attendants. Where the pressure of military duty was so great, it was, perhaps, natural that there should be some reluctance to part with efficient non-commissioned officers or men from the ranks; but it may be doubted whether persons well qualified for situations in the hospital would not contribute more to the relief of their effective comrades by promoting the recovery of the sick, than by taking their tour of duty under arms and leaving the sick with less efficient attendance; whatever view may be taken of that question, there seems to be no doubt that the arrangements have proved insufficient, and that adequate hospital attendance in camp has yet to be provided. It is understood that this defect is in course of being remedied; but, as it was much animadverted upon at the commencement of the campaign, we may briefly notice the previous practice in the army, and the course adopted to meet the difficulties as they arose.


The British army has hitherto, during peace, been kept on so limited an establishment, that it was necessary to resort to every expedient in order to economise its numbers. This, no doubt, originated the long established practice of having the hospital duties performed by men from the ranks, instead of by persons specially enlisted for that duty. The former, when no great pressure of sickness requires their presence in hospital, can be made available for military duty, while the latter are a permanent source of expense without any such contingent advantage. That system had worked moderately well for a long series of years, but, when the army was required for service in Turkey, its numbers were so limited, that it because necessary to add to the effective strength by every possible expedient, and one of the readiest which presented itself was, to restore to the ranks the men usually withdrawn for hospital service, and to replace them from some other source.

Nations whose armies are raised by conscription are never likely to encounter any difficulty in providing attendants on the sick. Out of the large number of conscripts annually placed at the disposal of the Government, there will always be many who, from their particular aptitude for that service

page 41

or on account of their being less fitted for more active military duty, can be selected with advantage; but an army which has to depend entirely upon voluntary enlistment possesses no such facilities; the strictness with which all military obligations are interpreted in this country, renders it necessary, if he is to be employed exclusively as an hospital attendant, that the recruit should be enlisted specially for that particular duty; and, among men in the vigour of youth, who are inclined to enter the army, few are disposed to place themselves in the position of nurses, at a time when the operations of active warfare are going on. Although recruiting for this particular service has now been carried on for nearly a year, with pay, pension, and other advantages, much exceeding what is granted to the private soldier, the number required is understood still to be incomplete, notwithstanding that recruits have been taken at a much more advanced age than they could be received into any other branch of the service.

But when the war broke out there was not time to obtain the necessary attendants for the hospital by the slow process of recruiting; the demand for their services was immediate, and it was desirable, especially at the commencement of a campaign, that they should have some military experience, lest they might prove an incumbrance; recourse was, therefore, had to a selection from the military pensioners, till some more suitable body of men could be obtained.

The employment of this class, even for the more onerous occupation of garrison duty at home and abroad, was not an innovation; it has always been the practice, on the commencement of a war, to call back into the service the pensioners who may have recovered from their disabilities, or are still of an age to perform garrison duty, and they hold their pensions expressly on condition of attending to such calls. During the Peninsular War, upwards of 10,000 pensioners were employed in veteran and garrison battalions at home and abroad, and immediately on the breaking out of the present war, all those belonging to the navy and marines were re-examined, and about 2,000 sent on shipboard, or into the coast guard, where they have since been constantly employed. No such call was made for the services of the military pensioners because it was conceived that they would be equally useful as an enrolled force in their respective districts; but, as they are a younger body than the Greenwich pensioners, their average age being only between forty and fifty, it was not an unreasonable supposition, considering their previous military experience and habits, that they might be usefully employed in the hospital and ambulance duties, for which soldiers from the ranks could no longer be spared.

Appendix,
p. 194.

The measures taken to obtain these men, the conditions of their engagement, and the precautions adopted in regard to their qualification are detailed by Colonel Tulloch in a memorandum which is annexed; and as the various objections which have been taken to their employment are there inquired into, it appears unnecessary to enter upon them here, beyond stating that, if old and inefficient, as is understood to have been alleged of them, they appear by the statement noted below[3] to have been


page 42

singularly fortunate as compared with the youngest and most effective part of the force; the deaths between October and April having been only 53, out of a strength which averaged 270, or under 20 per cent.; while the mortality in the infantry during the same period was nearly double that proportion. It is true that these men escaped much of the hard work in the trenches, but the must have sustained a heavy loss by their attendance on the sick, particularly during the prevalence of fever which in so many instances proved fatal to the Orderlies.

Sea
transport.

As the regular supply of the army in the Crimea, must, in a great measure, depend upon a proper arrangement, distribution, and supervision of the sea transport, we think it right to make a few observations on the subject.


Even when the supply is sufficiently provided for, the cost at which it can be maintained, will be greater or less in proportion to the skill and efficiency with which the transport system is conducted. This may be illustrated by a reference to the work performed by the steam-ships placed at the disposal of the Commissary-General, and no longer under the supervision of the naval authorities. They consisted of six or seven employed in the conveyance of cattle, and two for the carriage of other stores.

Cattle
ships.

On inquiry, we found that the cattle ships were performing on an average only two voyages per month, the mean distance from Balaklava of the ports to which they were plying was about 230 or 240 miles, the most distant 290, and the nearest 170 miles. Those vessels, appropriated exclusively to that service, were then employed at a charge of about £2,000 each per month, besides being supplied with coals; and if four vessels could land the same number of cargoes, the saving would be £4,000 per month, or £48,000 per annum on the freight of cattle.


Having some knowledge of the work done by vessels employed in a traffic somewhat similar on the West Coast of Scotland, it appeared to us that there was no sufficient reason why each of those vessels should not, on the average, deliver three cargoes per month at Balaklava, instead of two. On stating that opinion to the naval officer in charge of the transport service at Balaklava, and to other naval authorities in the Crimea, we found that they entirely concurred with it. A similar opinion is expressed by Admiral Grey, in his answers to a series of queries which were subsequently addressed to him with reference to this subject.

The master of a steam-transport, with a view to the interests of his owner, may desire to do no more work than is necessary to entitle him to the monthly freight, and it can hardly be expected that the Commissary-General should be able, by the examination of the ship's log, or otherwise, to determine whether there has been undue delay, or that the master will be disposed to acknowledge the competency of any Commissariat officer to decide a question which is purely nautical. It would probably, therefore, be advisable that all the transports should be under the supervision of the naval authorities, who could then be held responsible for the performance of a proper amount of work by each, and who could decide the question whether there had been any such undue delay as could fairly be held to forfeit a proportion of the freight.

Even three trips per month to ports at an average distance of 240 miles, may appear to be less than under proper regulations might be performed, but the time occupied in coaling and watering, as well as in shipping the cattle, is unavoidably greater than is necessary in the ports of this country; and the

page 43

deficiency of wharfage at Balaklava, together with the generally crowded state of that harbour, frequently causes delay in landing them.

It appeared to us that, during the fine weather, arrangements might be made for landing apart, at least, of the cattle at Kazatch Bay, where there is abundance of room; but the Commissary-General objected that, to land them there would compel him to have an officer and establishment at that port. This did not appear to us to be a sufficient reason for rejecting the plan proposed; but, during the winter, it would be difficult to drive the cattle through the deep soil of that country from Kazatch to the British camp, and in that case the delay in landing the cattle could not be reduced unless by extending the wharfs at Balaklava, diminishing the crowd of shipping in that harbour, and regulating the voyages of the cattle ships.

Expense
of
steam
ships.

For a considerable time after the army occupied its present position, it was not considered advisable to accumulate large quantities of stores on shore, or to dispense with the services of a great number of the sailing transports which were not usually employed in bringing supplies. Many of these vessels were, therefore, employed as floating stores, and so long as it was considered necessary to retain them in attendance upon the army for other purposes, no additional expense was incurred. But when they cease to be required for other purposes, a vessel, of 1,000 or 1,2000 tons, retained at a freight of nearly £1 a ton per month, becomes a storehouse at a rent of £12,000 per annum.

There may have been sufficient military reasons for retaining these vessels in attendance upon the army, even if they had no stores on board, but we have thought it our duty to direct attention on the subject as one which is intimately connected with the arrangements of the Commissariat.

It appears to us, that the more nearly the arrangements for the supply of the army approach to the ordinary commercial arrangements for the supply of a fixed population, the more economically and successfully will it be effected. In the ordinary course of such traffic, certain vessels ply regularly at stated intervals to certain ports. The time of their arrival is known, preparations are accordingly made, and much time is saved. With such steam transports as are employed in the Black Sea, great regularity might be expected under efficient management and control. The arrival of the vessels at Balaklava might probably admit of being regulated in such a manner as to facilitate the successive discharge of their cargoes, and the coaling and watering could be arranged in like manner, but this could be effected only upon a predetermined plan, which would not be interfered with unless to meet some pressing emergency.

Commissa-
riat
Accounts.

The system upon which the Commissariat accounts of receipts and issues have for some years been kept, appears to be well adapted for service in the field, and hardly to admit of being made more simple. The accounts of the Commissariat officers attached to Divisions and Brigades consist, in the first instance, merely of consecutive entries, or jottings, of all receipts and issues, at their dates, accompanied by the requisite vouchers. The materials from which accounts in any form that may be desired, can afterwards be prepared, are thus secured. These materials are put into the hands of an experienced officer of the Department, stationed near the scene of operations, and, in the present instance, at Constantinople, whose duty it is to subject them to


page 44

preliminary audit, for which purpose he has a sufficient number of officers attached to him. This arrangement appears to be highly advantageous, if not indispensable to the adjustment of the accounts. Explanations can be demanded and furnished, defective vouchers supplied, and mistakes or misapprehensions rectified, which the contingencies of war might render impossible, if the accounts were at once sent home to be audited. But, independent of this advantage, the person al and local information which officers residing in the vicinity of the scene of operations, and in almost daily communication with the army, bring to bear upon the examination of the accounts, enables them to execute that duty much more easily, speedily, and effectually than it could otherwise be performed. There are also advantages attending the facility for personal communication, in the event of any complication or entanglement in the accounts; and the officers employed on the audit constitute a corps of reserve in the vicinity of the army, ready to supply the place of such as, from sickness or other causes, may have to leave the camp.

Appendix,
p. 19.





Receipts
for rations.

There appears, however, to be something defective in the practice regarding the receipts for rations issued to the troops, to which our attention was first directed by Colonel Gordon, Assistant Quartermaster-General. Rations are generally received upon production of a return for three days, signed by the Quartermaster and the Commanding Officer of the corps. On the back of this return is a receipt for the full amount, which the Quartermaster is usually required to sign before the rations are issued, but on many occasions during the last winter, the full amount was not issued, though the receipt for that amount was retained as a voucher by the Commissariat officer. This occurred extensively not only in regard to the rations of meat, but also, and probably to a still greater extent, in regard to forage and fuel, both when the issues were short, and when, from deficiency of transport, the whole quantity could not be carried away.


It did not appear that any improper use had been made of those receipts; but the system is obviously questionable, both because it affords facilities for malversation, and because it destroys the value of the receipt, which ceases to be a genuine voucher. In fact, during the time of short issues, there was no security, under that system, for the proper application of a large amount of stores, except what was afforded by the integrity of the Commissariat. For example, had the officers of that Department been capable of asserting that full rations of every description had at all times been issued to the army, they could probably have produced the receipts of almost every Regimental Quartermaster to prove the truth of the assertion. But when returns were called for, those furnished by the former acknowledged a larger deficiency than was claimed by the latter. The integrity of the Commissariat Officers, in this respect, cannot therefore be impeached, but it is, notwithstanding, desirable that the receipts for rations should always represent the quantity really issued.

Ration
stoppages.

There are other accounts between the Commissariat and the Pay-masters of corps, which, under the present intricate system, involve complications that frequently become inextricable. That cumbrous system might almost seem to have been ingeniously contrived for the purpose of producing delay and confusion, and is the more objectionable, because, while it often subjects the soldier to great inconvenience, by impeding or rendering impossible the settlement of his accounts, it produces no saving to the public, but the reverse.


page 45

When a soldier is enlisted, the country undertakes to pay him a shilling or upwards a day; out of which, however, he has to pay for his messing. This is made up partly of a ration issued to him at a fixed rate, partly of various supplies which he purchases in the market. Prior to 1850, the ration consisted in some colonies of a pound of bread and a pound of meat only, while in others, particularly those within or near the tropics, there was an addition of tea or coffee, sugar, rice, and peas; in either case the stoppage for these supplies was fivepence a-day. Much discontent arose, however, in some of the colonies where the lesser ration only was supplied, in consequence of a pound of bread and a pound of meat being charged at fivepence, though its value, according to the current price in the market, was only about threepence halfpenny, and a warrant, dated 25th December, 1850, was therefore issued fixing the latter amount as the uniform stoppage, but limiting the ration under all circumstances, to a pound of meat and a pound of bread, or three-quarters of a pound of biscuit, except in the field, when the quantity was to be increased to one pound and a-half of bread, or one pound of biscuit.

In order, however, to provide for the contingency of there being no means of purchasing at a station the small groceries, such as sugar or tea, coffee, and rice, to which the soldier had been accustomed, the Commissariat officers abroad were directed, on the requisition of the officer commanding the forces, to "use their best efforts" to provide these by contract, or otherwise, on the understanding that the price was to be paid by the soldier; and in compliance with this part of the arrangement, when the army took the field in Bulgaria, the following supplies were placed by the Treasury at the disposal of the Commissariat for this purpose, to be issued at the prices there stated.[4]

When these came to be issued to the troops by the Commissariat, however, it was found that the demand was very irregular, in some cases much exceeding the usual portion formerly issued to the troops as a ration; the difficulty of keeping the accounts was also much increased as compared with what it would be if the quantity to each soldier and the stoppage made for it had been fixed. In short, this mode of providing indispensable supplies for an army dispersed in a country that was almost depopulated did not answer the purpose, and a Board of Officers was therefore assembled by Lord Raglan, who reported in favour of allowing 1 oz. of coffee and 1¾ oz. of sugar daily to each man, for which stoppage was directed to be made of 1d. A General Order to that effect was issued at Varna on the 28th of June, and the ration stoppage thus became, provisionally,4½ d. Subsequently, in consequence of the prevalence of bowel complaints, the Commissariat were directed by General Order, dated 19th July, to issue 2 oz. of rice or Scotch barley per man daily, till the 30th September, at which date it was to cease. The soldier was not charged for this; but it appears that the penny stopped for his coffee and sugar was an overcharge and more than sufficient to cover the cost not only of two

page 46

ounces of rice, but also of two ounces of Scotch barley. No further innovation was made upon the system, which left the men to buy where they could, not only salt, spices, and other such articles, but the whole of the vegetables which they required. The consequence was, that the troops did not obtain them, and their diet was therefore defective. The regulations did not require the Commissariat to furnish these supplies, the country in which the troops were encamped did not furnish them, and therefore the army was deprived of them. It is to be regretted that a warrant, intended to provide for a state of things altogether different, should not before the commencement of the campaign, have been replaced by regulations better suited to the circumstances. But the proper regulation of the soldier's rations in the field still remains to be effected.

The rations stoppages, however, are not only different at different times, but they also differ in different circumstances at the same time. It has been stated that since coffee and sugar have been regularly issued, the stoppage has been 4½ d.; but if the man who is subject to that charge while doing duty on shore is ordered on ship-board, his ration stoppage becomes 5d. or 6d., according to circumstances. Again, if the same man goes into hospital sick or wounded, the stoppage is 3½ d.; thus, before his account can be settled for the month, it must be ascertained how many days he was doing duty on shore, and therefore subject to a stoppage of 4½ d.; how many on board of ship receiving rations of spirits, and therefore, subject to a stoppage of 6d.; how many on board not receiving spirits, and therefore subject to a stoppage of 5d.; and how many in hospital, and therefore subject to a stoppage of 3½ d. During the last campaign every man in the army was part of the time on duty on shore, and part of the time on board ship; nearly all were part of the time in hospital - most of them two or three times; and about half the army went sick to Scutari, and were, therefore, part of the time on ship board sick, besides the other occasions on which they embarked; yet for each of these men it is necessary, to the settlement of his account, that the precise amount of stoppage to which he is subject on each day should be ascertained. This, however, in a vast number of cases, is impossible; and therefore the soldier cannot get a settlement of his account; neither can the Regimental Paymaster, nor the Commissariat, nor the Purveyor. At length, after an amount of labour and correspondence which is almost incredible, the inextricable knot has probably to be cut by an arbitrary settlement, as being the only one practicable.

Accumu-
lation of
vouchers.

Even where the whole details of the various stoppages can be traced and established, the amount of labour and the extent of the accounts is enormous. The Commissariat, which has charge of the Military chest, ought to settle accounts with each regiment monthly, taking care that in all cases the proper amount of ration stoppages is paid into the chest, and that the vouchers are complete. Mr. Williams, the Commissariat officer charged with the superintendence of that branch of the Department, produced to us vouchers for ration stoppages amounting to 348 half-sheets of foolscap paper, and which it occupied one person fully a week to compile and examine. These were the vouchers for only one corps, the Artillery, and for only one month. The memorandums furnished by Mr. Leahy, Acting Quartermaster of the Sappers and Miners, by Mr. Dares, Paymaster of the 23rd Fusiliers, and by Mr. Williams, Assistant Commissary-General, explain very clearly the difficulties and embarrassments arising in their several departments from the present


page 47

system, and they all point to one uniform rate of stoppage in the field as the appropriate remedy.

By reducing the charge to one uniform rate, whether the soldier be doing duty on shore, or be in hospital, or on shipboard, and making the balance of his pay the only matter of account, the whole of these difficulties would at once be removed, and an immense amount of labour saved. The system of accounting, as between the public, the Paymaster, and the Commissariat, would thus be placed upon a footing so simple and satisfactory, that there could never, at any time, or under any circumstances, be the slightest difficulty in settling a soldier's accounts, so far as regards any period during which he is considered to have been on field service. The daily stoppage being always the same, the balance of pay would never vary, and it would only be necessary to establish the number of days he was entitled to receive it to admit of his accounts being settled at once.

To arrive at this desirable result, however, it is necessary that the ration in the field should be a fixed quantity and of determinate value.

The results of this inquiry having clearly demonstrated how indispensable it is to the soldier's efficiency, especially in the field, that he shall be supplied with a sufficient quantity of wholesome food, it cannot be desirable that a matter upon which the success of the whole army depends should be left to chance, or to the prudence, activity, and ingenuity of the soldiers individually, even in countries where supplies can be obtained. But in countries such as those in which the army has recently been employed, where no supplies could be procured, except such as were provided by the Commissariat, the troops are as completely dependent for their means of subsistence upon the rations issued to them as they were when on board ship on the voyage to their destination. There they were supplied with every description of food considered necessary to maintain their health and efficiency, because they could not buy any; but on shore, where they were equally unable to obtain supplies by purchase, no similar provision was made by the regulations for the subsistence. All that the soldier was then entitled to under the warrant of 1850 was one pound and a-half of bread, or a pound of biscuit, with one pound of meat, fresh or salt; to which was added, provisionally, by general order, one ounce of coffee, and 1¾ ounces of sugar. But even if he had at all times received these rations in full, they did not contain sufficient nourishment to sustain the strength or health of a man who was undergoing severe labour and exposure to inclement weather by night as well as day.

It appears, therefore, that some revision of the system hitherto pursued is desirable, and we proceed to submit the suggestions upon this important subject which in our former report we stated it was our intention to offer.

When the soldier is dependent for his subsistence upon the rations issued to him, it is desirable that their nutritive value should be determined according to a fixed standard, consisting of certain quantities of articles with which he is familiar, and that any deviation from that standard should be only to the extent of changing some of them for equivalents in nutritive value. It is likewise of great importance to his health that his food should be so far varied as to prevent the injurious effects of sameness of diet from which the army has suffered. The ordinary amount of nutriment ought to be proportioned to the average demands upon the physical powers of men, and it should be remembered that the food which may be sufficient to maintain a man's strength in a temperate climate, or when he is warmly clothed and well lodged,

page 48

may be quite insufficient when exposed to great cold, whether arising from a very low temperature or from deficient covering and shelter.

The average weight carried by a soldier on the march, including food and water for the day, is probably not less than from fifty to sixty pounds, and while carrying that burden he is frequently required not only to march considerable distances, but also to move rapidly, and make other great exertions. In the ordinary course of his duty he is called upon to watch during the night, at longer or shorter intervals, whatever may have been his previous exertions. He is exposed to every vicissitude of temperature, and often to the inclemency of the weather by night as well as by day, and must be ready to turn out when required at any hour, and under all circumstances. He must generally be content with the shelter of a tent, whatever the climate may be. When engaged in siege operations, he has to perform, mostly during the night, the work that a railway labourer performs by day - excavating and removing earth. When stores are to be landed, he is often required to do the work of a dockyard labourer. When employed on active service, the soldier, therefore, requires a diet as nutritious as that which is requisite to sustain the physical powers of any other man engaged in hard work, involving frequent watching and exposure.

Proposed
rations.

With reference to these considerations, it is proposed to fix the daily ration for a soldier in the field as follows, being very nearly the same that has been issued in the Crimea since last summer, and found to answer the purpose:-


Soft bread24oz.
Fresh vegetables8
Rice or barley2
Fresh meat16
Coffee (roasted and ground)1
Sugar2
lbs.35oz.
Spirits - 1/8 pint
He ought also to have weekly:
Mustard½oz.
Pepper¼
Salt½

Assuming this to be the standard ration of troops in the field by which the amount of nutriment is determined, certain equivalents may be substituted for some of the articles whenever economy of transport becomes important; for example, 16oz. of biscuit for 24oz. of soft bread; 2oz. of compressed or preserved vegetables for 8oz. of fresh vegetables; 1/3 oz. of tea for 1 oz. of coffee.

The standard ration, including soft bread and fresh vegetables, is, no doubt, preferable to that which supplies, instead of these, only biscuit and compressed or preserved vegetables; but when an army is in motion, economy of transport is of primary importance, and a weight of 3lbs. 5oz. per man daily might be found embarrassing. These substitutions, without deteriorating the nutritive value, would diminish the weight of a standard daily ration of food from 3lbs. 5 oz. to 2lbs. 4 1/3 oz., being a difference of 1lb. per man. For an army receiving 50,000 rations, this would reduce the weight to be transported daily by an amount equal to the loads of 250 pack-mules or horses. The issue of tea instead of coffee, besides diminishing the weight to be transported, would also be desirable on a march, because it is more quickly and easily prepared. The most advantageous

page 49

arrangement would perhaps be, that coffee should be issued frequently where its greater weight is not an important consideration, and that the change to tea should become general on occasions when the economy of transport must be more considered. If tea were substituted for coffee at all times, the men would certainly get weary of the same beverage day after day, and would long for a change.

Occasions will frequently occur when salt meat must be substituted for fresh, and it then becomes doubly necessary to maintain a sufficient supply of vegetable food. Meat is less nutritious when salted; but it does not follow that this deterioration in nutritive value is best compensated by increasing the quantity, as it also becomes less digestible, and promotes the tendency to diseases of the bowels, to which soldiers in camp are so liable. The experience of last winter shows that a majority of the men cannot continue for an indefinite length of time to consume 1lb. of salt meat daily; that, even when engaged in the hardest labour, the appetite fails, and the stomach loathes the constant repetition of that quantity. No doubt the excessive fatigue and exposure which some of the troops underwent, may have impaired their powers of digestion; but a similar sensation of loathing was induced where it cannot be so accounted for; the best mode of compensating the deterioration in the nutritive value of the ration caused by the substitution of salt meat for fresh would be to increase to a sufficient extent the vegetable food, selecting such as is best suited for the purpose. The ration of salt meat, like that of fresh, is 1lb.; but it may be well worthy of consideration, whether it would not be advantageous, at least in standing camp, to reduce it by 4oz., compensating the deterioration both in amount and in nutritive value by substituting for the 4oz. of pork half-a-pint (about 8oz.) of peas or peasmeal, and for the 4oz. of beef 6 oz. of flour, ½oz. of suet, and 1 oz. of currants or raisins.

The charge for the present ration of 1lb. of bread, and 1lb. of meat, is 3½d., and the cost of the proposed additions would not probably exceed 2½d., making in all 6d., the same as the ration stoppage for troops on board of ship, where everything necessary for their proper subsistence is provided.

App. pp.   
188-191.

The progress of science has now afforded the means of ascertaining with precision the nutritive value of a great variety of substances used as food, and we have thought it desirable to submit the ration which we have proposed to scientific investigation. The observations with which we have been favoured by Dr. Christison, than whom there is, perhaps no higher authority on such questions, contain much valuable information, and, together with his tables of nutritive value and of several different diets, bring the precision of science to bear upon matters of great national importance, to which it has hitherto been sparingly applied.


Having now completed our report upon the matters into which we were instructed to inquire, we are desirous to point out that, if we have directed attention chiefly to the defects which we have found in the system and arrangements of the departments to which our inquiries extended, it has been only because the circumstances which led to our especial duty to search out those defects with a view to their correction. No one can be more sensible than we are of the vast difference between judging before and after the event; between providing for the future and pronouncing an opinion upon the past;

page 50

but to have been deterred by that consideration from recording the errors which are now revealed by their results, would have been to disregard the lessons taught by experience.

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

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


Footnotes

 
[1] This vessel arrived at Kamiesch on the 15th, but did not proceed to Balaklava till the 21st November.

 
[2] The circular tent used in the British army, which is calculated to contain fifteen men, is altogether unsuited for an hospital in any climate. It affords very insufficient protection against cold, or rain, or heat. When there is much wind in wet weather, the rain beats through the canvas, and when it blows upon the door, which is continually opened for ingress and egress, the rain is driven to all parts of the tent. The pole, being in two pieces for the convenience of carriage, is weak at the joint, and in stormy weather is apt to give way. The side wall is too low to admit of the use of any kind of cot, if there be more than two or three men in the tent; the space is too confined to admit of proper attendance on the patients, even by the medical officer; and it is impossible, with safety, to use a stove or other means of warming it. In short, whatever may be the supposed advantages that have let to its adoption as a barrack tent it would be difficult to contrive anything much more unfit for the accommodation of the sick.

 
[3]

Strength.Died.Returned
home.
From 20th July to 30th September, 185431835-
" 1st October to 31st December, 1854283242
" 1st January to 31st March, 18552572927
" 1st April to 30th June, 1855201567
" 1st July to 30th September, 1855129-70
" 1st October to 31st December, 185559-31
93197

 
[4] On the 29th of May the troops were informed in General Orders that the following articles were consigned to the Commissary-General, and could be obtained, on requisition, at the prices specified:-

Porter64,800gallons,at3c.per quart.
Pale ale2,700"at4d."
Preserved potatoes50,000lbs.at5d.per lb.
Chocolate10,000lbs.at4d."
Coffee80,000lbs.at5½d."
Tea8,000lbs.at1s."
Sugar100,000lbs.at2d."
Rice200,000lbs.at3d.per lb. (subsequently reduced to ½d.)
Scotch barley10,000lbs.at1½d."


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