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The difficulties of
cases from exposure. The hurricane was accompanied in the early hours by driving rain, and as the day wore on by driving
Sick and wounded, as well as strong and healthy, had no shelter from the weather. Nor was their exposure the only evil. Twenty-one vessels were wrecked during the storm. Clothing for men, hay for horses, ammunition for rifles, were thus destroyed by the tempest. A second Inkerman would have been more tolerable than the consequences of this storm.
And there was one other consequence, still to be told, more fatal than all the foregoing. The English camp was situated some eight or nine miles from Balaklava. At the commencement of the siege two roads connected the port and the army. One, a metalled causeway, passed through the redoubts which the Russians had seized on the 25th, and was consequently no longer available. The other, a cart track, wound its way
over the plain. While the weather remained fine,
stores were easily transported over this road. The transport.
storm of the 14th of November converted it into an impassable morass. At first, indeed, strong teams were able with difficulty to draw waggons from the port to the camp. Soon no teams, however strong, could effect the purpose, and the beasts were taken out of the waggons and their loads placed on their backs. A horse can only carry on its back one-third of the load which it can draw in a waggon. The capacity of the transport was therefore at once reduced by two-thirds. Sorely overtaxed beasts dropped down and died; they died the more rapidly because the hay, their food, had been destroyed in the storm. The commander of the British army did not venture to ask for more horses, because there was no more hay.
Thus, when the winter was beginning, and more food, more clothing, more fuel, were requisite, communication between port and camp was broken, and men were forced to submit to less
food, less clothing, and less fuel. Sickness, in such
circumstances, naturally attacked the camp. Cholera, in the previous summer, had broken out in Varna, and delayed the sailing of the expedition. Sporadic cases of the disease
Disease in camp.
had occurred throughout the campaign, and the men who had been free from it had rarely enjoyed their usual health, Cholera again attacked the camp after the storm of November, and it was accompanied by scurvy, dysentery, and fever. Between the beginning of November and the end of February, 8898 British soldiers perished in hospital. At the last of these dates, 13,608 men were still in hospital. In other words, the sick during the four months outnumbered the whole strength of the British army after Inkerman, and, except for the rein. forcements constantly received from home, the army would have ceased to exist.
It may, perhaps, be thought that in hospital, at any rate, the men obtained relief from their sufferings. But, unhappily, the reverse was the case. In the camp hospitals, men were laid and died on the cold ground, with only one blanket to cover them. The British, however, had established hospitals at Scutari, the beautiful town which looks tion of the
hospitals. upon Constantinople from the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. But there were no ambulances to carry the wounded or invalided soldier from camp to port; there were no proper arrangements on board ship for his comfort ; and, when he reached Scutari, he found a hospital in which dirt and confusion prevailed, and in which the plainest sanitary laws were ignored. It is not, therefore, surprising that men died in hospital even more rapidly than they died in camp. In one great hospital, during February 1855, more than onehalf of all the patients died.2
If these things had happened in the commencement of the nineteenth century, months, perhaps years, would have passed without their attracting attention in England. In the autumn of 1854 the sufferings of the army were almost immediately known in London. The English newspapers had correspondents in the Crimea ; and one of these men, Mr. Russell, who represented the Times, became widely famous for the extent of his information and for the vigour of his graphic narratives. The Times naturally enforced in its articles the lessons Kinglake, vol, vii. p. 177.
2 Ibid., p. 189.
of Parlia. ment,
which its correspondent was teaching in his letters. Men Indignation meeting in street and office, club and drawingin London.
room, repeated one to another the verdict of the Times ; and a whole people, awestruck and angry at the story of suffering and mismanagement, called loudly for the punishment of those who were to blame.
When Parliament, indeed, met on the 12th of December 1854, the whole story was not known. The queen, instead The meeting
of speaking of the sufferings of her army, was able to dwell on the bright pages which its victories had
added to history; and Lords and Commons, after giving the Crown the power which it sought of enlisting a foreign legion,? separated for the Christmas holidays. But it had hardly separated before the truth became known, and a storm of indignation arose. When Parliament reassembled on the 23rd of January, Roebuck gave notice that he would move for a Committee to inquire into the condition of the army and into the conduct of the department whose duty it had been to administer to its wants. Russell, who had threatened to resign in 1853, who had wished to resign in the summer of 1854,2 and who in the autumn had urged the supercession of Newcastle and the reorganisation of the War Office 3 under a strong minister like Palmerston,4 at once declared it The fall of impossible for him to resist Roebuck's motion, and
resigned his office. His decision naturally made
the position of the ministry indefensible. After two nights' debate, Roebuck's motion was carried by a large
1 Cf. Martin's Prince Consort, vol. iii. p. 146. This measure, as well as one empowering the militia to serve abroad, were suggested by the Prince Consort. For the debate on this bill, see Hansard, vol. cxxxvi. pp. 253, 507.
2 The particulars will be found in Martin's Prince Consort, vol. iii. p. 91.
3 Up to the summer of 1854 the Colonial Secretary was Secretary of State for War, and this office, under Aberdeen, had been entrusted to Newcastle, In the July of 1854 the War Office was separated from the Colonial Office, and Newcastle was given his choice of the two offices. He chose the War Office. But the War Office, into which he entered, had not the entire control of the military departments. The Ordnance was still a distinct office. Army finance was under Sidney Herbert as Secretary at War, and the commissariat was a branch of the Treasury. Cf. on these points Kinglake's Crimea, vol. vii.
4 Hansard, vol. cxxxvi. p. 965; Ashley's Palmerston, vol. ii. p. 301.
majority, and, on the last day of January 1855, Aberdeen placed his resignation in the queen's hands. 2
The fall of the great coalition ministry was, in one sense, both desirable and inevitable. Whatever influence its indi. vidual members owed to their ability, they failed to exhibit the agreement one with another which can alone give consistency and strength to national policy. The public, too, believed, and with reason, that one section of its members disliked the war, and was anxious to obtain some reasonable pretext for terminating it. The authority of the Cabinet was thus impaired by the opinions of some of its members, and the distrust which it consequently incurred was not removed by any confidence in its chief. The famous apothegm of Tacitus was applicable to Aberdeen, and the best Foreign Secretary of the century might have been regarded as worthy of rule if he had not, in an evil hour for his reputation, become Prime Minister. Forced by the strong men under him into a policy which he disapproved, he was never able to throw his heart into the war in which he had reluctantly engaged. Yet a fair critic, instead of condemning the minister, will perhaps applaud the man. The faults which Aberdeen committed as a statesman were not far removed from the virtues of private life. In other times he might have done his country good service. The troublous period in which he stood at the helm without guiding the vessel required a sterner and more resolute pilot.
And such a pilot England found. After a vain appeal to Derby, to Lansdowne, and Russell, the queen applied to the man for whom the nation had already pronounced, and asked Palmerston to become Prime Minister. forms a
ministry. In the first instance the remaining members of the ministry agreed to serve under their new chief, and hardly any alteration became necessary in the composition of the Cabinet. But when, a few days afterwards, Roebuck announced his in
1 By 305 votes to 148. Hansard, vol. cxxxvi. p. 1230.
2 Malmesbury's Memoirs of an ex-Minister, pp. 345-348; Martin's Prince Consort, vol. iii. pp. 195-208,
provement of affairs in
tention to persevere with the appointment of his Committee, and Palmerston saw the impossibility of resisting his motion, the three statesmen who agreed most closely with Aberdeen retired from office, and radical changes were consequently effected in the composition of the Cabinet.
Much had been done, before the Aberdeen Ministry was overthrown, to repair the errors which had caused so mucii The im- suffering in the Crimea. The road which ought
to have been made in October was made at last. the Crimea
Materials for a railway, and navvies for making it, and at Scutari.
were sent out; and so well did the men work, that the same correspondent who, on the 6th of February, sneered at the undertaking, on the 19th of February chronicled its approaching completion.2 Fresh men and fresh stores were hurriedly despatched, and despondency vanished as health returned. Nor was it in the Crimea alone that the measures of the defeated Government were restoring affairs. At Sidney Herbert's solicitation, Miss Nightingale undertook to bring such help as woman alone can give to the sick and wounded at Scutari. By her efforts and those of a noble band of ladies, cleanliness and order were restored to the hospitals. Skilled engineers remedied the sanitary defects of the buildings. These reforms had their immediate effect; the deathrate rapidly decreased, till, at the close of the war, the same places in which in February two men out of every five who entered them were doomed to die, became as healthy as wellmanaged hospitals at home.
Thus the path of Palmerston had been already smoothed by the measures of his predecessor, and the new ministry had little more to do than to follow up the steps which the old
i Palmerston, of course, succeeded Aberdeen at the Treasury; and Lord Panmure was appointed to the offices of Secretary for War and Secretary at War, which were now amalgamated. Sir George Grey, who had been Colonial Secretary, was transferred to the Home Office in succession to Palmerston, and was replaced a few weeks afterwards at the Colonial Office by Russell, who re-entered the Cabinet, Sir G. C. Lewis succeeded Mr. Gladstone at the Exchequer ; Sir C. Wood, Sir J. Graham at the Admiralty. Ashley's Palmerston, vol. ii. p. 309; Martin's Prince Consort, vol. iii. p. 212.
2 Cf. Mr. Russell's letters in The War, pp. 334, 349.