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death might be certainly known. At this very day, men are returned as missing, who must have died during that winter. A great number too died, and were buried at sea, either on their passage to Scutari, or thence to England. Under such circumstances, it may easily be imagined that the difficulties in the way of an exact settlement were quite insurmountable. It may be said, truly, that such difficulties are not likely to occur again--but this, like all the remedies proposed by the Commissioners, is of general application, and will tend to the improvement of our military system.
The Report takes up but a small portion of the large volume of which it is indeed the essence. is followed by a mass of evidence collected from nearly all those in authority, and in great measure authenticated by official documents; and the reader will be repaid for the perusal of the volume and appendix by a much clearer idea of the perplexities of the campaign than he before possessed. Take, for instance, this letter, one of many, from the Deputy-Assistant Commissary of the Light Cavalry Brigade. It is dated Balaklava, Nov. 21, the time when the distresses were beginning to press heavily :
"BALAKLAVA, November 21, 1854. "My Lord, I must again bring to your Lordship's notice the state of the Light Cavalry Brigade with regard to forage.
"In my last letter I informed your Lordship that one and a half day's corn and some hay was due to the brigade, but instead of my having been able to make good any part of that, I have fallen into further arrears. The weather is in part the cause, but it is chiefly to be attributed to the want of transport. On the 19th I had only 10 extra mule-carts
"Yesterday, the 20th, none whatever until so late an hour (and then only 15 pack animals) as to be of no use.
"It is now mid-day, and as the transport has not yet come into Balaklava from its own camp, have only been able to despatch 30 sacks of barley on my own carts, each only carrying three sacks on the
present roads. "I would wish further to bring to your Lordship's notice that the Light Brigade
suffers in another respect. Even when I have transport on the beach, and a boat-load of barley arrives, a dozen or more Heavy Dragoons, or as many Ar tillerymen, jump in, carry out the sacks, load their transport, my few wretched Turks or Maltese having a very poor chance in the melée.
* Several letters and documents are this is one of them.
"Whilst writing this, Deputy-Assistant Commissary-General Goold, the officer in charge of the depôt transport, has come in, and assures me the mules are nearly done up- almost incapable of further work. I have, &c.
(Signed) "A. CROOKSHANK, "Deputy Assistant Commissary General, "Light Cavalry Brigade. Lieut.-General the Earl of Cardigan, Commanding Cavalry."
The publication of the Report was anxiously looked for. There was a general expectation that, as Mrs Quickly says, Sir John would make it a bloody day to somebody, and the public were eager for the signal to fall on. January, and, naturally enough, callIt appeared in ed forth loud complaints from those who were, or imagined themselves to be, impugned. Shortly afterwards a Court of Inquiry was ordered, the reason for convening which was for a long time the subject of much controversy and speculation, for while Lord Panmure said it was to inquire into the Report, thereby certainly seeming to cast a reflection on the Commissioners, Lord Palmerston, with many compliments on the manner in which they had executed their task, represented the object of the inquiry to be to afford certain officers, who imagined their characters to be assailed, the opportunity of vindication. These little discrepancies in the accounts of the Ministers might well excuse some confusion in the ideas of the public; and accordingly the Inquiry was variously regarded as an impeachment of the Commissioners, as a tribunal for bringing to justice the accused officers, and as a post-mortem examination on the remains of the
Meanwhile the Commissary-General, who, as we have seen, was the only person blamed in the first Report, and against whom the accusations were of the gravest, did not
erroneously dated 1855 instead of 1854
quietly submit, but saying, with Falstaff, "My lord, I will not underthis sneap without reply," he laid before the House a counter-statement, which we will compare with the inculpatory matter of the first Report.
First, Mr Filder enumerates the duties of the Commissariat, duties which "embrace all the civil administration of the army, excepting the hospitals, and have since been divided among three separate departments." Here we may call attention to the fact, proving the difficulties the Commissariat laboured under, that after the land-transport became a separate service under selected officers, who had every means placed at their disposal for rendering it speedily effective, so great were the obstacles to the formation of a transport-corps on a large scale, that we believe the entire army could at no period have advanced into the country for want of sufficient means of conveyance. He then shows how utterly inexperienced his subordinates were in their field duties. "None of the subordinate establishments absolutenecessary to the efficiency of a field-commissariat existed at the outbreak of the war, and even the officers had to be collected from the most distant parts of the empire, Sierra Leone, the Cape of Good Hope, and New South Wales, and of course by slow degrees. In the mean time I had to carry on the duties with the temporary assistance of gentlemen furnished from other departments, and wholly without experience in commissariat service." Next he alludes to the uncertainty as to where the army would spend the winter, showing that until the 12th of October he received no orders whatever from Lord Raglan on the subject of making provision for it. Now, on these pleas alone-viz. the extensive duties of the Commissariat, the total inexperience of his officers, the absence of necessary establishments, the want of definite information as to the winter-quarters, and lastly, the unprecedented difficulties of the campaign-Mr Filder would have been entitled to a full and honourable acquittal, even had all the charges of the Report been proved
These, however, he
First, he shows that the average monthly quantity of fresh meat which he provided from November to March was 10 lb. per man, while that of the French army was but 64 lb., although our allies did not suffer the same losses as we did on the 14th November, and that the low average in December was due to the hurricane which had damaged many of his cattle-vessels. In the month of February it appears by returns that the issue of vegetables averaged 17 lb. per man, besides regular rations of rice. At this time, therefore, the diet of the army was, considering the circumstances, wonderfully good.
The lime-juice adverted to by the Commissioners was, he says, sent out by the medical department, and intended for the hospitals. If demanded, it would have been issued ; but the chief Commissary is certainly not to blame for not volunteering the issue, having in truth no more to do with the health of the army than the chief engineer. When, shortly afterwards, it was ordered that limejuice should form part of the ration, the issue at once became regular.
"When the difficulty about fuel to roast the coffee," says the Report, began to be seriously felt in December, there were 2705 lb. of tea, equal to 173,000 rations, lying in the commissariat stores at Balaklava." To this Mr Filder replies: "This quantity of tea was reserved for the use of the hospitals; and considering the vast number of sick, it was not more than it was prudent to keep on hand for that purpose." He received no orders for its issue for some time after the practice of keeping Lord Raglan informed of the quantities of commissariat supplies in store had been commenced. When he did receive the order to issue tea on alternate days, it was at once complied with.
As to the porter, its bulk precluded it from being sent even to the troops around Balaklava, while no order was ever received to issue it to fatigue parties. The defence to this count is, however, less satisfactory than to the others, because the porter had originally been sent out for the
know vot's o'clock, sir-ven ve don't, ve'll ask you, sir."
use of the troops, and, therefore, should not have been left at Scutari. No medical knowledge was needed to be aware how advantageous its issue would have been.
Mr Filder denies having quoted previous practice in the Peninsula as an argument against providing fuel; no such opinion, he says, is to be found in his evidence. "I have never maintained that the troops were not to be supplied with fuel by the Commissariat, if they were so circumstanced that they could not provide themselves with it." It had, it seems, been settled early in November, "that the Commissariat was to supply the troops with fuel when they could no longer provide themselves with it, and we were quite prepared to commence the issues whenever ordered. . . . There was never, at any time, a want of fuel at Balaklava. The only difficulty was to find the means of conveying it to the front." And as this brings us to the primary question of forage, we will proceed at once to that.
The Commissary-General had, it seems, made ample provision for supplying forage, in the form of loose hay and chopped straw, to the army, had it remained in Turkey. When it was ordered to the Crimea, he prevailed on the contractors in Constantinople to have 500 tons of the hay pressed for shipment, and when he found they were likely to fail in their agreement, he wrote to England for 2000 tons. "Of this demand only about one-tenth was forwarded." This 200 tons, which was intended for a two months' supply only, was all he received from England in six months. "Had my requisitions for hay been complied with, the deficiency in this respect which was felt throughout the winter would have been prevented, and I should have been able to maintain a sufficient transport establishment." To the suggestions thrown out by the Commissioners, already quoted, respecting the best method of drawing forth the resources of Turkey, Mr Filder's reply is somewhat in the spirit of Mr Weller's to Solomon Pell, when that legal friend volunteered some advice respecting the probate of Mrs Weller's will," Ve
"The Commissioners have here as
sumed that I obtained no supplies, except by means of contracts and tenders, and that I had only followed the beaten track. I am unable to say whence they have derived the opinion; but however derived, it is inconsistent with the fact. I obtained supplies by every variety of mode in which it was possible to procure them; that is, by means of agents having a knowledge of the resources of the country, and of the language and habits of the people; by direct purchases made by Commissariat officers from the parties holding the supplies, without either written tender or agreement; by public competition and by special tender; and, when necessary, by requisition on England."
We have now gone briefly through the whole of the charges brought against the Commissariat, by men sent expressly to make inquiries on the subject, and well qualified for the task. Let us request the imaginative reader to place himself for a moment in the Commissary-General's place. Let him fancy himself suddenly apprised after Inkermann that the army is to winter on the plateau, destitute of shelter, at a distance from its port, and encircled by the enemy. Let him fancy his first efforts to procure supplies defeated by the hurricane which disables his cattle - vessels. Let him see his transport - horses daily dying, the roads daily disappearing, the harbour daily more crowded, and still the never-ceasing demand for daily food. Let him remember that the duties of the Commissariat know of no relaxation, that whether the siege progressed or languished, its efforts were the same,
that the subaltern officers of the Commissariat, though men of great capacity, energy, and intelligence, were all untrained to their work; let him hear for his encouragement the echoes of the minatory clamour at home; and then let him say whether greater shortcomings than have been proved against Mr Filder might not easily be forgiven. And let him say, too, whether, considering all the direct obloquy and ndirect censure to which Mr Filder has so long been exposed, he is not entitled to some tardy reparation.
On the 4th of April the Board of Inquiry began its sittings. A large wooden edifice had been constructed at Chelsea, calculated to accommodate 1200 spectators, and here the general officers constituting the Court assembled to receive evidence, their proceedings being regulated by the Judge-Advocate General. A letter from the Minister-of-War informed the Court that they had been convened "for the purpose of taking into consideration so much of the Reports on the supplies to the British army in the Crimea,' as animadverts upon the conduct of certain officers upon Her Majesty's General Staff, and in Her Majesty's army;" and they were commanded "not only to report an opinion upon the matters referred to them, but also to submit to Her Majesty what may be in their judgment best to be done thereon. In compliance with the President's desire that the Court might be informed of the names of the officers referred to, a letter from General Yorke was read, naming them as Lord Lucan, Lord Cardigan, Sir Richard Airey, and Colonel Gordon. We have already seen that the Quartermaster-General's department had been directly inculpated by the second Report, therefore the demand of the two last-named officers to be heard in defence was intelligible. Not so Lord Lucan's and Lord Cardigan's appeal; for, after careful perusal of the Report, we were ourselves unable to detect any passage which could be construed into an imputation on the commander of the cavalry sufficiently explicit to call for formal refutation. The offence to Lord Lucan lay, it seems, in a passage of the second Report relating to the hutting of the army, where, under the head of "Shelter of Horses," the losses of the cavalry are partly ascribed to "a want of promptitude and ingenuity." Now, as a want of promptitude and ingenuity is not a military crime (if it were, God help the wicked!), many persons in Lord Lucan's position would probably have sat quietly down under the imputation, conscious that no overt act of promptitude or ingenuity could be quoted in defence, and that the less that was said on the subject, the
sooner would any disfavour, with which the public might regard those inculpated, fade away. But the blood of the Absolutes was always impatient," and his lordship burned to wipe the stigma from his scutcheon, by breaking a lance with the Commissioners before the world. "Shall dunghill curs confront the Helicon ? Then, Pistol, lay thy head in furies' lap!" During the whole of April the Court sat gravely to hear discussed the question of whether Lord Lucan had or had not shown promptitude and ingenuity; and at the end of that time it may still be fairly doubted whether his lordship is either prompt or ingenious.
First, Lord Lucan proved that some of the Commissioners' figures were incorrect. Had this incorrectness told against him, the exposure of the error would have been pertinent enough, as conducting to the inference of "a malignant animus" on their part. But as the error consisted in putting the losses of the cavalry at a per-centage much below the reality, the implication of animus fails, the thrust parries itself, and Tulloch, who has somewhat indiscreetly thrown his hat into the ring, draws first blood in the encounter.
Next, his lordship shows that he remonstrated against the position selected for the cavalry after the battle of Inkermann, as being so distant from the harbour as to endanger the supply of forage. The reason for selecting that position, as it subsequently appears from Sir R. Airey's evidence, was this, that General Canrobert, anticipating a second attack from the Russians at the same point, and thinking that the mere fact of the presence of cavalry there might, when told to the enemy by their spies, deter them from the attempt, had persuaded Lord Raglan to post them in that quarter. Lord Lucan's forebodings were quickly realised. fore the end of the month the neighbouring artillery-camps were invaded by ravenous cavalry horses galloping madly in at the sound of the feeding trumpet, and snatching, undeterred by stick or stones, the hay and barley from the very muzzles of the right owners. Painful it was to see the
frenzy of the creatures in their first pangs of hunger, more painful to see their quiet misery in the exhaustion which succeeded. Remedy there seemed none. The labour of toiling through the slough to Balaklava to fetch their own forage was so great that many horses sunk and died in each journey-every day saw them weaker and less fit for the effortevery night the cold of frost was succeeded in numbers by the cold of death. As for shelter-given the bare plain and some blunt pickaxes, and great indeed must be the promptitude and ingenuity that secures it. Therefore his lordship has the best of round the second.
The wary Tulloch now tries a cunning feint. He says that want of promptitude and ingenuity are not charged on Lord Lucan or any one particularly, but generally on those who might be in responsible positions -that Lord Raglan himself might be thus alluded to-that in their great desire to avoid attacking persons, the Commissioners worded their censure so cautiously as to render it ambiguous, and thus roused up a hornet's nest of possible culprits, when, by making the charge more direct, they would have had but the attack of one to meet. This skilful evasion, leaving his lordship to fight the air, makes the contest at this period look well for Tulloch.
time and such protracted discussion, as if it were an obvious and easily available shift that ought to have suggested itself at once. Sir Edmund Lyons, here making his appearance as a not very judicious bottle-holder, says there were neither sails nor carpenters to spare. The instance quoted against Lord Lucan of Captain Heath, who, by means of his ship's carpenters, succeeded in covering with canvass a number of horses in a short time, is not to the point, because Captain Heath's vessel was lying in Balaklava harbour, where both carpenters and canvass could be easily spared. And even supposing that such shelter could have been procured, we do not see how the commander of a cavalry force, himself a subordinate, could be expected to apply to the Admiral of the blockading fleet for part of his stores and seamen. It was not in his province to be aware of the number of spare sails or spare carpenters the ships might possess, nor, if he were, to make a demand for the use of them. Subsequently, we find an engineer officer giving it as his opinion that canvass would have been inapplicable for the purpose.
But this advantage is presently lost. While supposed to have withdrawn from the fight under cover of the before-mentioned cloud, we suddenly hear the Colonel shouting out, "Turn, recreant! I have yet another arrow for thee. Why didn't you get canvass from the fleet to cover your horses, and carpenters to put it up?" His lordship might well be puzzled at the manoeuvres of so Protean and shifty an antagonist, who one minute tells him he was aiming at somebody else, 'twas all a mistake, and the next brings a fresh charge against him. However, the parry, like that of the Smith of the Wynd when Norman of the Hammer leaps over his guard and aims the poniard at his back, is successful as we think. The idea of the spare sails is evidently an afterthought, and being such, it is certainly unfair to quote it, after such lapse of
Again, it was charged against Lord Lucan that he might have caused drains to be dug round his horses, and pits to be excavated for them to stand it. His reply was, that the digging of drains was to soldiers, especially English soldiers, when unaccustomed to such work, and compared with skilled workmen, a labour of five-fold effort, and as such, it was not expedient to incur it, when they did not know, from day to day, how soon the camp might be shifted, and all their pains rendered nugatory. The pits, he remarked, besides being difficult to excavate except on a hillside, had many disadvantages, being often after rain mere tanks. Indeed, the digging, draining, and paving of such a pit, however practicable for a groom who had nothing to do but look after his master's horse, was scarcely to be demanded of soldiers, who, besides the care of their horses, had to keep in order their arms and accoutrements, to be ready for action, to fetch forage, to find their camp in guards, and to convoy the sick.