17 NOVEMBER 1855, Page 16


Lesketh How, ilmBleside, 12th November 18.5,5.

Bra—I have to thank you for your attention to my last letter relative to the grievances of the Regimental Medical Officers serving with the Army in the East; and, believing those grievances to be real, and not only oppressive to the individuals but also detrimental to the public service, I would beg permission to resume the subject. The Regimental Surgeons, under the second head of their grievances, state (I quote from a MS. copy of their memorial, which I have received, trans- mitted to me by their desire)—" We consider it to be a grievance that civil practitioners should have been introduced to hold some of the higher ap- pointments, which might have been in the first instance offered to us as their more legitimate claimants. While we frankly admit the necessity which re- cently existed for a large augmentation in the numbers of Medical Officers, and the value of the civil aid offered, we respectfully submit that we (the working members) were not implicated in the failure of the administrative management of the various Staff departments, and, if equally competent, ought to have been preferred to the civilians, having dedicated ourselves to the service of the State and freely given our health and talents in all cli- mates. Had we been promoted aria appointed to the charge of those hos- pitals which have been intrusted to civilians, the civil element cooperating with but subordinate to us, we should have had no ground of grievance, but have cheerfully worked together. As it is, a reflection has been cast upon our competency ; and men in most cases younger in years, junior to us in the profession, inexperienced in the habits and diseases of soldiers, and unused to maintaining discipline, have been preferred to us, who, in this campaign alone, have acquired an amount of practical knowledge which could only have lieen amassed after many years of civil practice, and whose devotion to the soldier amid the ravages of the cholera, the havoc of the battlefield, and the rigours of a Crimean winter, led us to expect that we should have been the recipients of any bonus the Government had it in its power to confer. Our vacancies would have been ably filled up by the seniors in the list of Assist- ant-Surgeons." In the whole of this statement I am satisfied that there is not the slightest deviation from truth, nor any exaggeration arising from wounded feeling?. The gravamen, the burden of the complaint of the Regimental Surgeons, is expressed in the parts which I have marked with italics. What, it may be asked, would the feeling be in the corps of Royal Engineers had its officers been treated in the same manner,—civilians called in to supply their place, at least nominally ; high appointments, with high pay, given to the latter in preference, and at the same time all the hard duties of the siege and war thrown on the former, the regular Engineer officers ? Could they have failed to have considered themselves as pointedly slighted and their corps as signally disgraced ? And can the Regimental Surgeons view such conduct towards them in any other light ? The words of the memorial strongly testify that they do not ; and I know, from communications I have received, that this is frequently the case, and to a withering degree. To show that I am not using too strong expressions, and if possible to bring out their case more clearly, I beg to be allowed to give some extracts from letters I have received from the Buffering party, and which seem to me to paint to the very life the fallen condition of the neglected Medical Officers. ' You would hardly credit (writes a Regimental Surgeon) the amount of discontent which exists among the Regimental Surgeons, especially amongst those who without quitting their posts have done their work honestly and well. I hear around me but one feeling expreased,—a desire to quit the service at the earliest opportunity when anything like com- pensation for past services can be obtained." The same officer adds —and I cannot but think this is most melancholy of all, as showing the mental depression produced—" I once had—[to which I can bear 'witness, he having served with me abroad]—I once had a strong de- sire to seAr distinction in the service aa a medical officer, and was anxious to defend the merits and claims of the department. I confess, now I chiefly look forward to a favourable opportunity of retiring from it. Since the commencement of the campaign I have never met with one circum- stance to encourage an opposite feeling • I have constantly met with circum- stances to discourage it. I most seriously regret that I can write with truth what I have written, and should imagine that the canker was in myself if I did not hear similar feelings expressed by nearly all with whom I hold con- verse." Then, as to the class of civilians who have been brought into the service, preferred to these experienced surgeons, I find in private letters statements more than bearing out the charge in the memorial; as the following ex- tracts will show.

"I may mention (writes a Regimental Surgeon) that in nearly every in- stance they (the Civil Surgeons) arejunior in years and professional studies to the Regimental Surgeons ; and it has been ascertained that in no one in- stance has a lucrative practice or appointment been given up for service in the East." Adding, that a friend of his, a Civil Surgeon, " informed me privately that some of the surgeons who had come out as Civil Surgeons were certainly not men of experience or of professional character sufficient to warrant their being placed in charge in hospitals."

In another letter in which mention is made of the slight put on Regimental Surgeons by sending out Civil Surgeons, young men with comparatively exorbitant salaries,: my correspondent states a case in illustration,—that of one young surgeon " who honestly told me he had only come out to see some practice; yet he is receiving 21. 2s. a day, and field-officer's allowances, and to have a year's salary as a bonus when he leaves. His; situation in the * * * is reserved for him."

It would occupy too much of your valuable space were I to enter much more into details,—which might be easily done, for there are ample mate- rials. I will only mention at present in confirmation of the hopeless condi- tion to which the Regimental Medical Officers are reduced by the treatment they have received,—that many of the Assistant-Surgeons are forsaking their profession, and are considering themselves fortunate in getting appointments as Ensigns. Persons not acquainted with the public service—and how few are cor- rectly—may perhaps say, Surely the Government would not intentionally in- jure such a department as the Medical and diminish its usefulness ? surely the Surgeons and Assistant-Surgeons in their memorials are labouring under misconceptions? The inferences are reasonable and natural, but are not borne out by facts ; as what has been stated, I trust, is sufficient to prove. My belief is that the Medical Department in the East has been made the scapegoat of the real- administrators there and at home ; and on the logical premises of failure of the regular department, a new civil department has been organized,—not, the organizers may say, as desirable, but as a measure of absolute necessity. To this I would reply, let the evidence collected by Sir John M'Neill be pub- lished, and the truth will appear ; and that logical inference, I apprehend, will prove most fallacious. " I trust (writes a correspondent from the camp) the evidence will be published, 'chiefly on account of its intrinsic interest to history and science ; but, secondly, because I believe the public will see that the Medical Officers had no power to resist the terrible evils which visited the army, and that they did all they could to avert them." In another let- ter, speaking of this evidence, he says—" If it be published, it will comprise one of the most startling histories the world has ever seen, and will exhibit powers of endurance existing in the human frame beyond what I believe has ever been suspected." In my former letter I expressed the hope that some just and patriotic man, a member of either House, would give the cause of the suffering Medical Offi- cers consideration, and bring it before Parliament. May I be allowed to express the further hope that the evidence referred to be published, if likely to be instructive as a record, and beneficial in the way of example to the public service ; and that returns be required of all the civilians who have hitherto been employed in the East in a medical capacity, their ages, by whom selected, their several pays and allowances, and the duties they have hitherto performed. What is right will always bear examination and exposure, and vice versa.

P.S.—Since writing the above, I have received a letter from the Crimea in- forming me that further favour, strongly marking " favouritism," to use the word of the writer, has been shown to the Civil Medical Officers in a grant to them of a large field-allowance ; an allowance, taking a corresponding grade, double that of the Regimental Surgeon. Whilst the total pay of the latter, including his field-allowance of 2s. 6d., is 15s. 6d., (after thirteen years' ser- vice,) that of the former, including an allowance for servants of 3s. and an additional field-allowance of 6s., is 2/. lls. per diem. The General Order authorizing this grant is the following-

" Head-Quarters, Sebastopol, 20th October 1855.

" In consideration of the expenses to which Civil Medical Officers are put, when obliged to take the field, the Secretary-at-War has consented to grant to them, when in that situation, daily allowances as follows, to commencefrom the 1st of September.

Inspector-General, 14s. a day ; Deputy-Inspector-General, 8s. 6d. ; First-Class Staff-Surgeon, 7s. ; Second-Class Staff-Surgeon, 6s. ; Assistant-Surgeon, 5s. ; Acting Assistant-Surgeon, 4s. 6d.

" The usual rations for officers may also be issued at the regulated stoppage. " Civil Medical Officers are permitted to wear uniform.

" By order, (Signed,)

"H. W. Baasann, Chief of the Staff."