HC Deb 02 February 1855 vol 136 cc1263-8

Lieutenant General Sir De Lacy Evans, Knight Commander of the Most honourable Order of the Bath, being come to the House, Mr. Speaker (sitting, and uncovered) acquainted him with the Resolution of the House of the 15th day of December last, which he read, as followeth—

Resolved, Nemine ContradicenteThat the Thanks of this House be given to Lieutenant General Sir De Lacy Evans, Knight Commander of the Most honourable Order of the Bath, and to the several other Officers therein named, for their zeal, intrepidity, and distinguished exertions in the several Actions in which Her Majesty's Forces have been engaged with the Enemy. And then MR. SPEAKER gave him the Thanks of the House accordingly, as followeth— Sir De Lacy Evans—I have to inform you that on the 15th December last the House agreed, Nemine Contradicente, to the following Resolution, 'That the Thanks of this House be given to Lieutenant General Sir De Lacy Evans, Knight Commander of the Most honourable Order of the Bath, and to the several other officers therein named, for their zeal, intrepidity, and distinguished exertions in the several Actions in which Her Majesty's Forces have been engaged with the Enemy.' Lieutenant General Sir De Lacy Evans, it is with feelings of pride and satisfaction that this House welcomes the return of one who has borne so conspicuous a part in the brilliant achievements which have characterised the present War. At the Battle of the Alma you encountered and overcame with admirable coolness and judgment the most insuperable difficulties which opposed the advance of the gallant Second Division against the position of the Enemy. Your repulse of the formidable attack of the Russians on the 26th of October, and the energy and valour with which you led the Troops upon that occasion, have been honourably recognised by Lord Raglan. But it was on the Heights of Inkerman that you displayed that undaunted courage and chivalrous generosity which have called forth the admiration of your Country, when, rising from a bed of sickness, you hastened to assist with your counsel and experience the gallant Officer in temporary command of your Division; and you refused to withhold from him the honours, whilst you shared with him the dangers, of that Battle Field. Your conduct throughout this memorable Campaign has been marked by the same intrepid gallantry which distinguished your early military career, and has justly earned for you the highest honour which it is in the power of this House to confer. It is therefore my agreeable duty, in the name and by the command of the Commons of the United Kingdom, to deliver to you their unanimous Thanks for your zeal, intrepidity, and distinguished exertions in the several Actions in which Her Majesty's Forces have been engaged with the enemy.


Mr. Speaker, I beg to assure you, Sir, and this House, that I appreciate most deeply the very high honour which has now been conferred upon me. I am quite aware, and deeply impressed with the conviction, that there is no honour to which a British Subject can look with more ardent desire or be more proud of than the recognition of his services, whatever they may be, by the Representatives of his fellow-subjects in this Kingdom.

Sir, I hope I shall be pardoned if l very imperfectly express my feelings on this occasion. It is almost a novelty to me to be received in this manner in this House, with reference to my Military Services.

Sir, I am equally and indeed still more grateful to you for the reference which you Lave made to the Second Division, which I had the honour to command. I should not have had the most remote chance of obtaining the kind and honourable distinction which I have this day received at the hands of this House, had it not been for the noble gallantry of that Division, from the first Officer under my command to the humblest Soldier in its ranks.

I know well, Sir, that my position here at this moment is almost exclusively attributable to the noble conduct and devotion to their duty of that Division.

I must at the same time confess that I am under the necessity of saying that when the Vote of Thanks which I am now here to receive at your hands was moved by the noble Lord lately representing the Government in this House, the noble Lord's official statement made on that occasion very much astonished me, because he appeared to take a totally different view of the operations of the army, or, at all events, of the particular part acted by the Division I had the honour to command, from that taken by the Commander of the Forces. I am sorry to be obliged on the present occasion to allude to this subject, but when nearly one-half of that division has perished from the chances of battle, or by other causes, I think I should be wanting in gratitude to them if upon this occasion I did not endeavour to place the matter upon a more just footing. The noble Lord gave a sort of theatrical description of the battle of the Alma, which reminded one of the opinion of the witty Sydney Smith, who we all know said that the noble Lord considered himself capable of commanding the Channel fleet. Now, it is evident that the noble Lord considered himself a better judge of the transactions of the battle of the Alma than Lord Raglan. The noble Lord described this battle rather minutely, and seemed to imply that the battle was exclusively won by the First and Light Divisions, for he omitted all notice of the conduct of the Second Division. Now, the fact is, that Lord Raglan has represented in his despatch that the two leading divisions on that occasion were the First and Second. It is quite clear that the noble Lord passed the Second Division by from a total obliviousness of its services, and thus caused inferences to be drawn, perhaps, which might reflect most grievously upon it. The noble Lord then went on to speak of the two lesser actions of the 25th and 26th of October. He gave all due credit and honour to the gallantry displayed on the 25th of October, but he entirely passed over the much more successful action which took place on the subsequent day—all action that was deemed worthy of the highest approbation by Her Majesty, and by the Commander of the Forces, and also deserving of notice in a despatch from the General in Chief of the French army. The noble Lord, however, in his official statement to this House, took no notice of that action. With respect also to the battle of Inkerman, in which the Second Division was engaged as much as in any other of the battles, in which, too, it suffered so severely, and where it had to stand for some time the brunt of an attack from about 20,000 men, not the slightest reference was made by the noble Lord in his speech to the conduct of that division on that occasion, though it was the only division prominently engaged in three general actions. I, therefore, think that that division and myself have some reason to complain of an official statement of that kind coming from the noble Lord. I beg pardon for this unpleasant digression, but I think I have some claim to indulgence. It is not on my own account that I have done so, but on account of the men whom I had the honour to command.

I feel deeply grateful for the honour which has been now conferred upon me. I should certainly like to say a few words, but I think this is not the proper time for it, as regards the position of those who are still struggling gloriously in this contest. I do hope that, although I am not completely prepared perhaps to take an arduous and constant part in the transactions of this House, I may have some opportunity of expressing my feelings on that subject. I will only further say, that I am deeply convinced that the manifestation of the approbation of the House upon this occasion to so humble an individual of the army as I am will have a considerable effect upon the feelings which animate my brother soldiers. I again say, Sir, that I am most deeply grateful for the kind expressions which you have used towards me.


I rise, Sir, to perform an office in respect to which I am satisfied I shall receive the unanimous and cheerful concurrence of this House. Sir, there is no function belonging to the individual who fills the Chair which you so worthily occupy that can be more agreeable or more honourable in its discharge than that which you have just performed —namely, the function of conveying the thanks of Parliament to men who have distinguished themselves by noble exploits in the field, and who have earned by a long career of military services the gratitude and admiration of their country; and I will venture to say that there never was a Speaker who had the opportunity of being more completely the faithful organ of the feelings and opinions, not only of this House, but of the nation at large, than it has been your good fortune to be on the present occasion. Sir, the eloquent and feeling in which you have conveyed to the hon. and gallant officer the thanks of this House ought to remain a perpetual record for the encouragement of others to pursue the same career as my hon. and gallant Friend has nobly followed, and for the satisfaction of those brave comrades in arms whom he has so ably headed on the field of battle. I beg, therefore, to move that the words spoken by Mr. Speaker, in conveying to Lieutenant General Sir De Lacy Evans the thanks of this House, together with so much of the observations which have fallen from the hon. and gallant Member as contains his expression of gratefulness for those thanks, be printed in the Votes of the House.


Mr. Speaker, in seconding the Motion of the noble Lord, I do so in the heartiest desire to concur with him in every word which he has said; and also in the words used by you, Sir, in conveying the vote of thanks to the hon. and gallant officer whom we are so happy to see amongst us again. I feel, Sir, that I can add nothing more to what has been said than my cordial concurrence.


My hon. and gallant Friend (Sir De Lacy Evans) adverted to topics not immediately connected with the occasion. The Motion I would wish to make is, that so much of his speech as related to the vote of thanks passed to him should be printed in the Votes.

Ordered, Nemine ContradicenteThat what has been now said by Mr. Speaker in giving the Thanks of this House to Lieutenant General Sir De Lacy Evans, together with so much of his answer thereto as relates to such Thanks, be printed in the Votes of this day. The House adjourned at Five o'clock till Monday next.

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