§ LORD LYNDHURST
I wish to put a question to the War Minister which arises out of a statement reported to have been made in the other House of Parliament in reference to the summer clothing of our troops now serving in the Crimea. In answer to a question put to him on the subject, the Under Secretary for the War Department is understood to have stated that the patterns for the summer clothing had not yet been settled. Now, my Lords, I believe that early in the month of April, or at the latest, in the middle of that month, the climate of the Crimea is often extremely sultry; and I believe, also, that if all the summer clothing were ready at this moment, it would require at least four weeks to put it on board ship and, transmit it to the Crimea. Now, there are but five weeks from this to the beginning of the month of April, and I wish to know if any steps have been taken for the purpose of preparing summer 1739 clothing for the army in the Crimea; and, if so, whether it will soon be ready to be sent out? It would be extremely hard that our soldiers in the Crimea should perish from the want of proper clothing in the winter, and should be smothered by winter clothing in the summer. I also wish to know to what department it belongs to settle the patterns for the summer clothing?
§ LORD PANMURE
begged to state, in answer to the noble and learned Lord, that the question of clothing for the summer had not failed to engage his early attention. The usual clothing was supplied to the army in April. He had written to Lord Raglan to make a suggestion to him with respect to the clothing which should be used by the army in the Crimea, but, above all, to dissuade him from permitting the troops suddenly, when the warm weather commenced, to put off the worsted shirts which they had been wearing during the winter. He thought it would be a very great mistake if the army were suddenly to resort, labouring as they did both in the trenches and in the field, to any light species of summer dress, inasmuch as they would be liable to take cold immediately after their work for the day was done. He had written to Lord Raglan upon the whole question; and anything that was required in addition to the usual supply of clothing which was used in the army will be prepared and sent from hence. He had already taken steps to furnish a fatigue dress for the army for summer use, which he thought would promote the health and comfort of the soldiers, and enable them to discharge their duties easily. The question had engaged much of his attention, and he had endeavoured to do all that could be done for the comfort of the army, as well as for the convenience of the soldiers in any operation in which they may be engaged.
§ LORD VIVIAN
said, these questions with regard to the summer clothing naturally led to one of which he had himself given the noble Lord notice, and which he now begged leave to put to him—namely, what clothing had been supplied to the drafts sent out to marching regiments during the last four months, previously to their leaving this country? He held in his hand a letter from an officer in command of a regiment in the Crimea—a gentleman who had brought great honour upon himself—in which the writer said—In the last letter which I wrote to you, I fortto mention one fact, that I had sent out to me 1740 two drafts of men, one of 100 and one of fifty, one sailing the last week in October, the other the second week in November, and yet not one stitch of winter clothing was put on them. The consequence was that they arrived here in the worst weather, and immediately sickened, got disheartened, lay down in their tents, and died in disgust. I don't think thirty of them remain. Not one of them has been put hors de combat by the enemy.It was added that drafts were sent out to other regiments in the same condition; and that in the case of the 46th and 63rd, the entire regiment were situated alike, and were consequently hors de combat. His reason for putting this question was, that as great censure had fallen on several of the public departments, he thought it behoved Parliament to ascertain, as far as was in their power, where the blame really lay.
§ LORD PANMURE
said, the noble Lord had given him notice of his question only half an hour before he came down to the House, and he had made such inquiries as he had it in his power to make in so short a time. He found that previous to the middle of November some difficulties had arisen with regard to the supply of warm clothing to the troops. When it was ascertained beyond a doubt that the army were to pass the winter before Sebastopol, large supplies of warm clothing were contracted for, through Lord Westmoreland, at Vienna, which supplies were sent to the army from thence. The consequence was, that, previous to the middle of November, the regiments which sailed from this country left under the impression that they were to receive their warm clothing upon their arrival at the seat of war. Mistakes, however, occurred which were very much to be lamented, and some of the regiments did fail to some extent in obtaining their warm clothing. But those mistakes there was no possibility of preventing here. Ample provision had been made at home for meeting the necessities of the case, but it was impossible to foresee and control all that had occurred. He was sorry to say that some of the troops bad suffered from the want of warm clothing; but after the 25th of November all the detachments which sailed from this country were supplied with their warm clothing here, sailed with their warm clothing, and, he was informed, arrived with their winter clothing at the seat of war, and had enjoyed the benefit of it ever since they had been in the Crimea.
§ LORD LYNDHURST
said, the noble Baron had not answered the whole of his 1741 question. He wished to know what department settled the pattern of the clothing for the army?
§ LORD PANMURE
replied, that it was the business of the Board of General Officers to see and approve of every pattern of the clothing for the army.