HC Deb 24 February 1854 vol 130 cc1252-4

said, he wished to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty or the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary at War, why the horses of the cavalry and horse artillery are to be embarked in sail- ing transports, at the risk of a protracted sea voyage, and whether any good and substantial reasons exist to prevent their accommodation on board of steam-vessels?


Sir, in answer to the question put by my hon. and gallant Friend, I shall be most happy to state, as shortly as I can, the reasons which decided the Government to employ sailing ships instead of steam-vessels for the conveyance of horses on this occasion. I am sure the experience of my hon. and gallant Friend will lead him to the conclusion that the course adopted by Her Majesty's Government is right. All the experience that we have hitherto had in removing forces by steam has been for short distances; and for short distances the horses may safely remain on deck without any danger. But on embarking for a distant part of the Levant, I think my hon. and gallant Friend will come to the same conclusion that I have—that it would be extremely detrimental, if not dangerous, to the horses if they should remain on deck during so long a voyage. If it were considered requisite to put them under hatches, it would be absolutely necessary to consider the immense amount of tonnage that would be required. You would require a space equal to ten tons; and I think, when the House considers the vast space occupied in the hull of each steam ship by the machinery, the quantity of coal which it would be necessary to carry for so long a voyage, and the quantity of water and of provender for each horse, the difficulty of the operation will be seen to be insuperable. For the conveyance of the troops, amounting to about 11,000, I think fourteen steamers will be provided; and the entire force will be removed in this way from hence to Malta in the course of the next fortnight. The consumption of coal for such an operation will be no less than 6,000 tons; and if, for 1,500 horses, you are to provide 15,000 tons of steam transport—each horse requiring, as I have said, ten tons—it would be necessary that we should have a collier in attendance on each steamer. Besides the tonnage for the provender of the horses, you would have to supply an extra tonnage for coals. I do speak of the expense, which would be enormous. My right hon. Friend at the head of the War Department has given the most careful attention to the subject which he could bestow; we were most desirous that the horses, as well as the infantry, should be conveyed by steamers; but, after having considered the subject, we came to the conclusion that the difficulties were so great that it would not be wise to incur them; and I think my hon. and gallant Friend will consider that that was the wisest decision we could come to.