§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
moved for a Return of the mode of Shipment to the East of horses intended for Military Purposes. His object in moving for these returns was to endeavour to persuade his noble Friend the Minister of War, if not to abandon the present mode of shipping horses to the East, at least to give a fair trial to the system of transport adopted at Hull. Although he could hardly expect to imbue his noble Friend with the objections he entertained to the Government system, he hoped to persuade him that it was productive of great and unnecessary cruelty to the horses and cost to the country. There were two material points of difference between the Government system and the Hull system. In the first place, the Government allowed the cavalry horses a width of only two feet "in the clear," while the horses in private trade were allowed a width sometimes of three feet, sometimes of three and a half feet, and even of four feet. He would here anticipate an objection that would naturally suggest itself—namely, that the effect of doubling the space would be to double the expense; but he thought he should be able to prove satisfactorily that the expense of the Hull system was considerably — perhaps onethird—less than that of the plan now adopted by the Government. The other important point of difference between the two systems was, that the cavalry horses were not allowed to lie down, no matter what might be the length of the voyage. Let their Lordships consider the expense of the system now practised by the transport department. First of all a platform must be provided for the horses to stand upon, besides a number of pillars, posts, and rails, as each horse was so wedged in between four pillars that he was hardly able to move. In order to prevent the effects of the great friction which must take place, Government went to a great expense in sheepskins, and each horse was also provided with a set of slings to keep him upon 625 his legs in bad weather. He would ask any noble Lord who was at all acquainted with the management of horses what was likely to be the result of breaking the rest of a horse for five or six weeks together, and what would be the state of its sinews and tendons when it had been placed in a constrained position for so long a period? The Hull merchants were perfectly aware of the antiquated system of the Government, and had been so for forty-five years—ever since it had been adopted—and if there had been anything worth a farthing in it they would naturally have adopted it. They had not, however, adopted it, because they knew it too well; they knew the evils that had arisen from it during the last war and the injury it had inflicted upon the cavalry horses, and they were, therefore, too wise to allow their valuable cargoes to incur so much risk. The cargoes they had to deal with were frequently of the most valuable description, some horses costing as much as from 3,000l. to 4,000l., being the best blood that could be purchased for money. He would relate one anecdote in illustration of the opinion which practical men entertained of the Government plan, not only in 1854 and 1855, but as far back as 1814, when the allied Sovereigns visited this country. The late Emperor of Russia, then the Grand Duke Nicholas, having purchased fifteen valuable horses, intrusted them for shipment to Russia to Mr. Thomas Kirby, who was well known in the trade, to which he had now belonged for fifty years—at that, as at the present time, being one of the principal exporters of horses from England, and, of course, a man of thorough experience. The Government of that period placed a transport at the disposal of His Imperial Highness, and the Grand Duke told Mr. Kirby that if he would take out the horses to St. Petersburg all the spare room in the ship should be at his disposal. Mr. Kirby went to Deptford with Mr. Goodwin, a gentleman who belonged to the Royal establishment in 1814, and served under a near and dear relative of his (the Earl of Albemarle's), who, in the reign of King William IV., and in the early part of the reign of Her present Majesty, held the office of the Master of the Horse, and was much benefited by Mr. Goodwin's advice in all matters connected with horses. At Deptford they saw Captain Young, who was the officer appointed to receive the horses, and found a magnificent vessel fitted up with what he could 626 not help calling the Government instruments of torture. Mr. Kirby objected to this mode of fitting up, and said that if he were not allowed to break down all the posts and pillars he would not accept the offer which had been made him, as he never allowed any horses to go a great distance without lying down. The officer refused to alter the arrangements, and Mr. Kirby refused the gratuitous transport, and chartered a vessel for 500l., in which he carried the horses in perfect safety upon the Hull plan. He must express some little astonishment at the course which had been pursued by his noble Friend's predecessors in the War Department; because he should have supposed that, when a prospect arose of war breaking out and a necessity occurred of shipping horses to a great distance from this country, the Government would have obtained the latest intelligence upon the subject, particularly when that intelligence could be obtained at Hull at not more than a few hours' journey from London. If Her Majesty's advisers would not adopt the plan pursued there, they might, at least, have made themselves masters of it, instead of which they immediately adopted the antiquated system of forty-five years ago, a system under which a transport so far as Constantinople had never been contemplated; for it must be remembered that the plan, bad as it was, had never been intended for the shipment of horses beyond the coast of Spain. It might, perhaps, have done very well for horses during a voyage of four or five days to be "cabined, cribbed, confined," in this manner; but it never could have been contemplated that they should be put to such torture for four or five weeks together. It was very difficult to obtain a correct list of the casualties that took place in the army or navy. He had been in the profession for forty years, and he knew that men who looked for honourable employment were cautious in giving any intelligence that might be injurious to them; but he would refer to matters of common notoriety. He would take the case of the 17th Lancers. A gentleman, well acquainted with horses, had seen the 17th Lancers, 250 in number, just before they left England, and he said that horses in better condition or better fitted for the journey it would have been impossible to find. They went in a variety of ships but out of that number twenty-three troopers and two chargers had died upon the passage, and seventy or eighty more, 627 as he understood, soon after landing. He would venture to say that nothing like that number of casualties had occurred in the whole horse trade of Hull during the last fifty years. He would not go into the evidence which his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Lucan) had given the other day before a Committee; but was not the horrible mortality that had taken place upon the occasions to which he had referred notorious and appalling? Under the Hull system it would have been impossible, for the horses would have been between instead of on the decks. He was told if he got these returns that they would not prove much, as some said that the loss had been 5, and others 2 per cent; but he wished to know why there should be any percentage when no such allowance was made for casualties in the Hull trade? He thought, however, that the most important question, and it was one of vital importance, was, whether the horses were fit for use on landing, and did they come to hand in that sound state in which the horses were universally acknowledged to do that were conveyed under the Hull system? Here was a question that was easy of solution, for he saw opposite the noble Earl (the Earl of Lucan) who had lately commanded the cavalry in the East, and he should like to ask him in what condition were the horses when they were disembarked in Turkey—were they fit for immediate duty? and had he not found it necessary to employ horses that had been some time on shore to do the work of the new arrivals? He now wished to state that in the year 1819 Mr. Goodwin, from whom he had got his information, was sent for professionally by some person connected with the Royal establishment at St. Petersburg to perform some nice operation on a horse belonging to the late Emperor. Mr. Goodwin was accompanied by a Russian officer, and took his passage from Hull; and be then, for the first time, saw the mode in which the Hull shippers conveyed their horses. The mode might simply be described by saying that it was not the Government plan, and that no posts, rails, platforms, slings, sheepskins, or any such expensive or useless paraphernalia, were employed. The ship in which Mr. Goodwin went over was of only 300 tons. The horses were placed in the hold, and stood on shingle and sand mixed, being only separated by rails bound over with spun yarn, and the hold presented the appearance of a stable on shore in which there 628 was a pressure for room. After a stormy passage of five weeks these horses were landed in as good condition as when they started. Mr. Goodwin remained in St. Petersburg for two years, and saw the unshipping of a variety of cargoes of horses, but during the whole of that time he never witnessed a single accident. Last year, when the war broke out, Mr. Goodwin was anxious to press the subject on the Government, and he first made some inquiries as to the practices of the Hull shippers, and he received a letter from Mr. Thomas Kirby, aged eighty-four years, who had for fifty years been engaged in the horse export trade, and who had been for twenty two years in the habit of conveying horses to St. Petersburg; his letter was written on the 14th of March, 1854, and was as follows—I know that the way that Government has of shipping the transport horses is shocking, for I remember well, some years ago, when I was returning from St. Petersburg, we had to wait some time at Elsinore for the convoy, and, at the same time, there were some English ships there with some Government horses, which they were bringing from Hanover. By some way or other they got to know of my being there, and they sent for me to go on board, and then they told me what a quantity of horses they had that died; which I did not wonder at, seeing the horses jammed together as they were, with their heads in midships, and their tails to the ship's sides, and their legs swelled as big as their bodies, with all the filth and dirt behind them. You have been told if they lie down they cannot get up again. I am sure you yourself are aware that a horse may drop in a three-feet standing, but I defy him to rise in that room. I then set the carpenters on board to work to pull down the stalls and put the mangers to the ship's sides, and to get all the dirt and filth out of the ship; gave the horses more room in the stalls, so that they could lie down and get up, and, after that, I heard no more of any horses dying. Now, if horses in a short voyage like that would drop, what would they do in a long voyage to Constantinople? I have often thought within myself that, should these horses be alive when landed, they would be of no use. I have myself been in the habit of taking horses to St. Petersburg on my own speculation, and of sending horses to the Russian Government for the last fifty years. I once took forty over in a merchant ship, and landed them all as fresh as when they were put on board for the voyage. We take as many rum puncheons for water casks as we have horses, which will last three weeks; the casks were buried in the ballast in midships, where we could get to them when wanted; as for corn and hay, you may calculate for the length of voyage they are going to take.In a second letter, written on the 17th of March, 1854, Mr. Kirby stated—I was myself in the habit of going with horses to St. Petersburg on my own speculation, for twenty-two years, both in war time and in peace, 629 and never had but one horse die on board—but one in the whole time—and mostly landed them as well or better than when they were shipped, and always allowed each horse four feet, so that he could lie down and get up again. The manger was fastened to the ship's side, a ring and staple driven into the ship's side to fasten the horse to, as he would be as if in a stable. Nothing was put behind the horse, but to let him have full liberty, for after the horse had been on board two or three days he will get the movements of the ship; and the horses to windward, when the ship is rolling, will have their hind legs sometimes a yard behind them, and the horses to leeward will have their fore legs a yard before them. In bad weather I should prevent the horses lying down as much as I could, for the motion of the ship keeps their limbs in action. Horses shipped and treated as above, after a voyage of a month or six weeks, will be fit to go into any use required. Since I gave over going to St. Petersburg with horses I have bought horses and shipped them for the Russian Government, for which I have paid 33,000l., and never lost one of them.Mr. Goodwin received a letter from Captain Jackson, who was born at Moscow, and had for twenty-six years been engaged in the horse export trade; his name was well known in Russia from the fame acquired by the horses he had exported into that country. In his letter, written on the 15th of March, 1854, Captain Jackson said—In sailing vessels the horses are stowed in the hold (the ship being previously ballasted with casks filled with fresh water for the use of the horses) made level with sand, &c. They stand, without slinging, on each side of the ship in separate stalls, as in a stable, leaving a passage in the centre for the grooms. My horses have always had sufficient room to lie down when disposed, and have never suffered any injury, however valuable; but, on the contrary, have been much benefited. I have been as long as twenty-eight days at sea. My father and myself have shipped considerably more than 1,000 in this manner. Hay and straw are stowed on rafters in the hold, above the horses; corn at each end. The watercasks, as emptied, are filled with salt water to keep the ship ballasted. The size of the stalls in sailing vessels is eight feet in length by four in width. No upright stalling required.A third letter had also been received from Captain Keghly, who had for sixteen years conveyed horses to St. Petersburg, and be confirmed the statements made in the two former letters. The sailing vessels employed by the Government only conveyed sixty horses, if they were of 600 tons burden, and thirty-two if they were of 300 tons burden, while vessels of 900 tons and upwards took out no more animals than those of 600 tons. It was obvious, therefore, that there had been a great waste of tonnage and an unnecessary degree of expense. At present the horses 630 were embarked at Woolwich, and occasionally at Portsmouth, instead of being shipped, as they should be, at Plymouth or Falmouth, in order to abridge the length of the sea voyage, and to avoid the detention that frequently occurred in the river and in the Channel. Surely, on the ground of expense it would be better to embark them at the latter ports, seeing that three or four weeks were now often lost in getting as far as the Land's End, causing great wear and tear of horse flesh as well as unnecessarily prolonging the employment of ships' tonnage. The noble Earl concluded by moving—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, for Return of the Number of Horses shipped to the Seat of War by Her Majesty's Government in Sailing or Steam Transports for Military Purposes during the Year 1854, the Amount of the Tonnage of and the Number of Horses conveyed in each Vessel, the Number of Horses that died on the Passage or were rendered unserviceable in each Vessel, the Average Duration of Voyage of each Steam or Sailing Vessel, and the Average Expense of the Transport of each Horse.
THE EARL OF LUCAN
quite agreed with the noble Earl who had just sat down, that all horses which were shipped for so distant a place as Constantinople ought to have the sea voyage as short as possible. Indeed, there could not be two opinions on the question. He was perfectly ignorant of the Hull system, as it was called, and he, in point of fact, never heard of it until two or three days ago. He did not quite understand the noble Earl with respect to the number of horses embarked in each transport.
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE
explained that according to the Government plan from 17 tons to 20 tons were required for each horse; whilst under the Hull plan not more than 10 tons and a fraction were required.
THE EARL OF LUCAN
Then in sailing transports more than 10 tons were allotted to each horse. He thought 10 tons were quite enough, and that there had been a great waste of money in not embarking as ninny horses as each transport would carry. The noble Earl, however, argued as if it were intended to continue the conveyance of horses in sailing vessels; but it was sincerely to be hoped that the Government did not mean to adhere to that plan. The serious losses that had been sustained from the employment of sailing vessels, and the successful voyages that had, on the other hand, been performed by 631 the steamers, conclusively showed the inferiority of the first-named mode of transport. The Himalaya arrived at Constantinople with the 7th Dragoon Guards and a detachment of artillery; and though she carried more than 400 horses on board she only lost one animal on the voyage. Again, the Jason, with a battery and a half of artillery, carried 237 horses, and only lost one of them. In the passage from Turkey to the Crimea he had no recollection of the horses having suffered any losses in the steam transports. In fact, nothing could be more perfect than the fitting up of the Government steam vessels which, during the last twelve months, had carried not only the English cavalry, but the French also, and rendered a very large amount of other transport service; and yet none of them had lost on an average more than one-half per cent of the whole number of animals conveyed. The system having thus worked so admirably, it would be most unwise and very hazardous to depart from it in order to resort to any other mode—although he certainly was not acquainted with the Hull system.
§ LORD PANMURE
said, as far as it was a question of transporting horses by steam vessels or by sailing vessels, he entirely concurred in the views of the noble Earl opposite. There could be no doubt, that, when steam vessels were at command, from their greater capacity between decks, the shortness of their voyages, and all the conveniences which existed, the suffering to the horses was much less than in sailing vessels, and that the fittings were much more complete. The noble Earl, however, seemed to think that Government had steam vessels at their command to send out all the horses which were required. He must beg very much to disabuse the noble Earl of that belief. A sufficient number of steam vessels for that purpose were not at the command of Government. Government had taken as many as they could obtain with reference to the necessities of the other services; but the greater number of the horses which had been shipped from this country had been conveyed in sailing vessels, and a vast proportion of the horses which still remained to be transported must of necessity find their way to the East in sailing vessels. Now, if they were to go in sailing vessels, the question would arise whether the Hull system should be adopted, or whether the system at present in use, adopted under the auspices and 632 direction of the best cavalry officers that could be found, was or was not the most economical and the easiest for meeting all the requirements of the case? He understood that the practice at Hull was to take a vessel of some 300 tons, strip her between decks from stem to stern, and fit her out solely with reference to the conveyance of horses, but without the slightest reference to the number of men who were to accompany the animals, or to the furniture with which each horse must be accompanied. At Hull the horses were shipped as a matter of traffic between dealers at home and purchasers abroad, and there were not above four or six men in attendance on 100 horses, who had the run of the deck, and nothing to impede them in the discharge of their duties to the animals under their charge. The case of the conveyance of a regiment of Dragoons was very different, for there must be a man and heavy furniture for each horse; and a ship which would carry thirty horses must not only carry them, but thirty men also belonging to the horses, and a number of others besides. The Hull system allowed four feet and a half to each horse, and in the Government system two feet and a half were allowed. He had inquired of cavalry officers what was the result of this practice of embarking horses when they were sent out to India from this country, and he was informed that the horses were never allowed to lie down—in fact, they were so close that it was impossible for them to lie down; but he understood that under each horse was a sling, as it was called, by which it was suspended. In bad weather, if proper care were taken —but in some instances losses occurred from a neglect of paying proper attention to the slings—the horses were kept in a position to prevent them from falling from perpendicular jerks, and they were then left to rely upon their own exertions to keep their footing. The moment the storm passed away, and the motion of the ship became less inconvenient, the slings were taken up, and the horse, with an instinct amounting to the reason of man, threw himself directly into the slings, and found instant relief, and a relief which was much greater than if he had been allowed to lie down. With reference to this system, he had had a return put into his hands, of which he would read a summary. Last year a total of 3,100 horses were embarked both in sailing and steam vessels on this system; out of that num- 633 ber ninety-two were lost; making the loss on the whole about 3 per cent. On that, total were embarked in sailing vessels 2,051, the average length of the passage was thirty-nine days, and the loss was 78, or about 3 4–5 per cent. In the steam vessels 1,049 were embarked, and fourteen horses were lost. The average length of the passage was sixteen days, and the loss was about 1 1–3 per cent. This return clearly showed that the system of carrying horses by steam vessels was certainly to be preferred to that of sailing vessels; but when steam vessels could not be obtained, recourse must be had to sailing vessels, to comply with the exigencies of the service. He was of opinion that no fault could be found with the present system, which, out of a total of 3,000, had landed them at a distance of 3,000 miles, after an average passage of thirty-nine days, with so small a loss as 3 per cent.
THE EARL OF LUCAN
said, he must beg to observe that there had been no answer to the question; for after all the length of the voyage was the most important point. The condition of the horses which came in the sailing vessels, after they had been six weeks at sea, was such that they were not fit for service for a considerable time after landing. He was quite certain that horses would not be fit for duty on landing if they had been at sea for a longer period than three weeks. Many cases had occurred in the 8th Hussars and the 17th Lancers of the horses when put to work, being found to be with fever in the feet, and having foundered. He was sorry to hear that the Government had any serious intention of employing sailing vessels for the transport of cavalry, while there was an amount of steam power at their disposal which, if properly used, would enable them to dispense with sailing vessels. If there were none to be got in this country he was sure they would find a number of steamers lying idle in Balaklava Harbour, sufficient to carry a very large body of cavalry to Constantinople within the next six weeks. Though he could not say that there were quite sixty there, as had been stated in the course of the week, he believed there were constantly very nearly that number lying in or off the harbour, and he never could discover of what possible use they were there. Why did not the Government bring home the Jason, the Simla, or the Trent, vessels which were fitted up for the 634 conveyance of cattle, and which were not now wanted there at all? Certainly, the Government would incur great responsibility if they allowed these vessels to remain idle at Balaklava, and at the same time took up sailing vessels at home for the transport of cavalry to the seat of war.
§ THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
I entirely agree with my noble Friend (the Earl of Lucan) in condemning the conveyance of cavalry by sailing transports when steamers can be obtained, and I cannot help thinking, with him, that an arrangement might be devised by which some of the vessels which he named could be brought home and rendered available for the transport of horses from this country. No doubt there has been a great deal of time lost hitherto in this respect, and I am persuaded that if a system of transport by steamers were adopted it would enable the Government to despatch horses with greater facility and in greater efficiency than they can do by sailing vessels. Take the instance of the Himalaya; she was only a fortnight going from this country to Varna, while the average passage of sailing vessels was thirty-nine days. The Himalaya, therefore, would have made two or even three trips while a sailing vessel was making one, and, in addition to gaining time, you would have saved all that knocking about to which the horses, to their great detriment, are exposed in the sailing transports. I would, therefore, strongly impress upon my noble Friend the Minister of War the advantage which would be gained by establishing a service of steam transports, to be despatched regularly once a week, or once a fortnight, as the case might be, by each of which you would be able to send out 300 horses in the most simple and easy manner, At the period when the first horses sent out were despatched I was Inspector General of Cavalry, and I conceived it to be my duty to inspect the vessels prepared for their reception. I had the advantage at that time of having an interview with Mr. Goodwin, who has been referred to, who explained to me the Hull system—which I must say I have never seen—much in the same manner as it has been described by the noble Earl (the Earl of Albemarle) to-night. In my humble opinion, however, it would be extremely inconvenient that so large a space should be sacrificed in the Government transports as would be the case if the Hull system were adopted; for 635 you must remember that with the horses, you have to carry very nearly double the number of men. You have to carry Dragoons and their equipments, which are very heavy, and though I have no wish to express any opinion of the fitness of the Hull system for general mercantile purposes, I must say I do not think it well adapted for the transport of cavalry. The ships in which the first horses were sent out and which I inspected were as well fitted as any ships could be; the great fault was, that the deck under the horses' feet was not properly battened. For my part, I should prefer the substitution of shingle for those battens.
§ LORD PANMURE
said, he wished, with reference to one statement about the steam vessels and the impression which had gone abroad, to state that there was not one steamer lying idle at Balaklava—they were all either disposed of on some service for the benefit of Government, or engaged in doing duties which Government had undertaken to perform for others. There was not a steam vessel in the Black Sea which had not its duty assigned to it, and whenever it was possible to bring one home for the purpose of conveying cavalry it would be done. Not three days ago the Himalaya—the very steamer referred to by the illustrious Duke—had left this country with upwards of 300 horses on board. Whenever steam vessels could be got for this purpose they would be taken, but he trusted that the impression would not prevail that Government had any steam vessel either lying idle now, or likely to be idle at any time during the summer.
§ THE EARL OF ALBEMARLE,
in reply, expressed an opinion that, in the transport of horses, the advantages of the Hull and the Government system might be combined; so that, when a number of horses were conveyed on board a vessel, each horse might have an opportunity of lying down once in three days. He was, however, afraid, from what had fallen from the War Minister, that the exploded system of 1810 was to be continued without the adoption of improvements suggested by modern experience.
THE EARL OF LUCAN
said, he could not understand that, with our enormous fleet of steamers and sailing transports, there should not be some of the former at Balaklava to spare for the conveyance of horses.
§ Motion agreed to.