General Sir William Codrington's final despatches
to Lord Panmure

Transcribed and annotated
by Mike Hinton


Between the 10 November 1855 and 30 July 1856 General Sir William John Codrington, KCB, the third commander of the British Army of the East, sent 338 despatches to Lord Panmure, the Secretary of State for War. [1] Two of the last five despatches (Nos 334 and 336) were concerned the final evacuation of the Crimean peninsular and Sir William's journey home, while in his final despatch (No. 338) he took the opportunity to record formally his thanks to the officers and other ranks who had assisted him during his time as Commander of the Forces.
The text of the three despatches are reproduced below, the first of which was also published in The Times on 31 July 1856.
Despatch Number 334
Constantinople, July 16 1856
My Lord,
Finding that all arrangements would be completed for evacuating the Crimea on the 12th inst., I wrote the previous day to the officer in command of the Russian troops, a Colonel of the Gendarmerie, at Kamiesch, that I should be ready to hand over the dockyard of Sebastopol and the port of Balaklava on that day.
Her Majesty's ship Algiers had entered the port of Balaklava on the 7th inst.; the 56th Regiment embarked in that ship on the evening of the 11th; the only troops remaining were one wing of the 50th, which formed the guard of the town that night.
The following day, the 12th, at 1 p.m., all the remaining stores and establishments having been embarked, a company of the 56th was posted outside the town to receive the Russian troops, and on their approach marched in with the Russian Guard, composed of about 50 mounted Cossacks and a similar number of infantry Cossacks.
The usual form of salutes took place, the Russians placed sentries where they wished, and the four companies of the 50th marched on board the Algiers. I embarked with my personal staff at the same time.
Although the weather was unfavourable we were enabled to quit the harbour of Balaklava that evening.
Admiral Sir H. Stewart and Admiral Fremantle [2] were at anchor outside the harbour; they weighed, and we all sailed for this place, where I arrived today.
Annotated in pencil: Publish in papers.  
Despatch Number 336
H.M.S. Caradoc, at sea, July 25 1856 [3]
My Lord,
On the 12th inst. the last of the British Army quitted the Crimea in H.M.S. Algiers and I embarked in the same ship with my personal staff and sailed from Balaklava that evening. [4]
The dockyard at Sebastopol held by a guard of English marines, from H.M.S. Gladiator, was given into Russian possession that morning. Admiral Sir H. Stuart with several ships of war which were anchored outside the port of Balaklava also sailed on the evening of the 12th inst. for Constantinople.
The Algiers did not arrive in Constantinople in time for me to be present at a dinner given on the 15th inst by the Sultan, in his new palace, to which he had invited Marshal Pelissier and myself, as well as the admirals and many other officers. [5]
On the 16th inst I went to Scutari. The embarkation of the troops and stores in the Bosphorus is nearly completed under the direction of Rear Admiral the Hon. F. Grey [6] and Major General Storks; [7] there were but 400 troops remaining whose services are still required, but probably the evacuation by all the military might be completed in a fortnight. The large Turkish hospital had been restored to the Turks and the fine building which formed our main hospital was ready to be again delivered over to the Turkish authorities for their usual employment of it as barracks.
A great part of the ground on which the English Army had first encamped was now occupied by huts many of which had also been delivered over to the Turks for barracks, and your Lordship will have had a full account from General Storks as to the disposal of the remainder. [8]
The Commission of Arbitration which was have its members named in accordance with a wish expressed by Lord Stratford, [9] is likely to have many serious and difficult questions before it. General Storks proposed Mr Dickson, his interpreter, as a member. I mentioned my opinion that if the committee were to have a final power of decision, a person of higher rank should be named, but if reference was to be made for General Storks's decision on important points then Mr Dickson would be a very eligible person for it.
Mr Adams, the Commissary General, [10] told me of the probability of many questions being re-opened of loss by difference of exchange and other questions on former contracts. I gave my opinion to him that no such discussion on completed bargains should be permitted, and perhaps this had better be made a positive instruction to the committee.
His Majesty the Sultan appointed the 19th July for the reception of Admiral Lord Lyons [11] and myself. His Excellency Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe introduced us, and accompanied by several officers of H.M. Navy and Army, we were graciously received by his Majesty. His Excellency Fuad Pacha, Minister of Foreign Affairs presented us to the Sultan, who expressed his wish to make known to her Majesty and the English Government, his high sense of the assistance which had been afforded to the Turkish nation by the Fleet and Army of England.
I subsequently paid my respects to the several ministers of the Porte at the Seraglio, as well as Seraskia Pacha, and Omer Pacha; these officers having previously done me the honour of calling upon me at the Embassy.
His Majesty the Sultan desired H.E. Fuad Pacha to preside at a breakfast given by his Majesty in the Seraglio Palace to which Lord and Lady Stratford, Admiral Lord Lyons and myself, with several officers and the Navy and Army, were honored with an invitation, and this took place on the 20th inst.
I saw Count Zamoyski, commanding the Polish Cossacks of the Sultan — the disagreeable disturbance in the corps seems to have arisen from the wild and improper conduct of Colonel Kraimski, who was at once displaced from the force by Count Zamoyski, and is since gone to England. [12]
General Storks very properly went himself to Buyuk Tchecmedjev [13] and explained, with courtesy, but with decision, to the men, their situation with regard to discharge, and was thereby able to prevent any unpleasant occurrence. Count Zamoyski has applied to your Lordship for an increase to the year's pay on discharge. The amount of a year's pay seems to be only £2. 8 [14] which if increased to an amount somewhat similar to that offered to the Swiss, [15] might induce many to remain elsewhere without the Government being put to the expense of passage to America.
Count Zamoyski also wished there could be an extension of time given for the choice of the men going to the America and remaining. [16] This might be a question of some expense and possibly inconvenience. I should therefore preferably suggest an increase to the year's pay on discharge.
On the 20th I proceeded in H.M.S. Caradoc to the Dardanelles, and the hospital at Renkioi, this hospital is now empty – only 25 of the Land Transport Corps being present as an internal guard – whilst the Turkish authorities have sent a detachment of their troops to guard the outside, pending the disposal of the property.
I visited the Land Transport Establishment at the Dardanelles. There remain about 800 animals, principally fine mules, for the sale of which however arrangements have been made, and Mr Crawford, the superintendent, will soon be able to report to Colonel McMurdo [17] the dispersion of the whole by sale, and consequent breaking up of the establishment.
On the 22nd I arrived at Smyrna; the last of the Swiss Legion embarked that day; and the Turkish barracks, formerly the hospital in our charge and lately used as barracks for the Swiss Legion, were given over to the Turkish authorities.
I visited Soleyman Pacha, the Governor of Smyrna, and received from him, as from all those in authority at Constantinople with whom I had communication the expression of gratitude towards the English Govt for the great assistance rendered to Turkey in her difficulties.
I sailed from Smyrna yesterday for Malta [18] and shall continue in H.M.S. Caradoc to Marseilles [19] proceeding overland to England where I will do myself the honor of waiting upon your Lordship. [20]
Despatch Number 338
H.M.S. Caradoc, at sea, July 30th 1856
My Lord,
Having closed my command of the Army in the East, [21] it is gratifying to me to report to your Lordship the assistance that has been given me by general officers in superior commands, as well as by the staff and regimental officers of the Army, and civil departments connected with it.
I have written more in detail of it to the Commander in Chief, [22] but I repeat to your Lordship that the willing obedience and general good conduct of the men have so well seconded the attention of the non commissioned officers, and the supervision of officers of all ranks, that I trust your Lordship has been able to report to Her Majesty the Queen the good health and efficiency of the Army that quitted the Crimea. [23]

1. The National Archive:  WO 1/380-1/384 . General Codrington replaced General Sir James Simpson who assumed command of the Army following the death of Lord Raglan on 28 June 1855, and who resignation was announced in a General After Order dated 10 November 1855. [  WO 28/130  ]
2. Admiral Sir Houston Stewart was second in command of the Black Sea fleet and Admiral Fremantle the port admiral of Balaklava.
3. HMS Caradoc had been made available to the Lord Raglan by the Admiralty during the months before the invasion of the Crimea. She also carried Lord Burghersh to Marseilles when he took the Alma despatch to London and then conveyed Lord Raglan's body back to Bristol following his death on 28 June 1855.
4. HMS Algiers was commanded by General Codrington's younger brother, Captain Henry John Codrington, RN. The vessel did not remain in Constantinople but continued to England where her arrival at Spithead was reported in The Times, 13 August 1856.
5. General Codrington's non-arrival in time for the banquet was referred to in a report dated 14 July and published in The Times, 24 July 1856.
6. Rear Admiral Frederick Grey was the naval commander in the Bosphorus.
7. Major General Henry Knight Storks was the commandant of the British forces in Turkey, being based at Scutari.
8. The Times correspondent in Constantinople reported that General Storks and Captain MacDonald sailed for England aboard HMS Harpy on 13 August. [The Times, 27 August 1856]
9. Stratford Canning, Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe was the British ambassador in Constantinople.
10. Commissary General George Adams had previously served in the Crimea. See Megan Stevens' spreadsheet entitled “Commissariat Officers, extracted from various Army Lists covering the war years”, which can be found elsewhere in our 'Resources' pages.
11. Admiral Edmund Lyons, 1st Baronet Lyons, commanded the Black Sea fleet.
12. The Times correspondent wrote on 21 July: “Orders have come to break up the Polish Legion, which is still at Kutschuk Tchekmedji. It seems the Turks did not enter into the idea of keeping up this legion as a military colony on the Danube. The negotiations were dragged on in this respect, and the Legion had in the meantime an amphibious existence, half one thing, half another – or, rather, neither on thing nor the other.” [The Times, 1 August 1856]
13. Other spellings include Tchekmedji, Tcheckmedje, and Tchekmedge.
14. Approx. £162 at today's prices.
15. In December 1854 the British Parliament passed the Foreign Enlistment Act and as a consequence the British Swiss, German, and Italian Legions were raised in order to provide reinforcements for the allied armies if the War with Russia were to continue. These troops were never employed on active service, and, with the Polish soldiers, were disbanded following the signing of the Peace Treaty.
16. At least 150 Poles elected to remain in Turkey and were eventually provided with land in the estates of Redshid Pasha in Thessaly. [Report from Constantinople dated 6 April 1857; The Times, 17 April 1857]
17. Colonel William Montagu Scott McMurdo commanded the Land Transport Corps.
18. General Codrington arrived in Malta on 27 July 1856 where he was met by the Governor, Sir William Reid. His party included Colonel Blane, Military Secretary, and his ADCs, the Hon. A. Ponsonby, Captain the Hon. H. Campbell, and Captain Hall. [The Times, 4 August 1856]
19. General Codrington arrived in Marseilles on 30 July 1856. [The Times, 1 August 1856]
20. General Codrington crossed the channel from Calais on the South Eastern Company's steamer Princess Maude on 1 August, and, after a brief stop at the Imperial Lord Warden Hotel in Dover, travelled to London by train. He subsequently visited the Queen, who was staying at Osborne on the Isle of Wight, arriving on 6 August. [The Times, 2 and 7August 1856]
21. The official title of the Army was “The Army of the East”.
22. Field Marshal Henry Hardinge, 1st Viscount Hardinge of Lahore and Kings Newton.
23. Lord Panmure was already aware of the good state of the Army for on the 8 May 1856 he had made the following statement in the House of Lords on its sanitary state: “I am happy to be able to state that, although the Army is at a considerable distance from home, and is subjected to the risks of encampment in the field, the results of a comparison between its health and that of troops at home are truly remarkable.” [Hansard, 8 May 1856]
Transcribed and annotated by Mike Hinton, August 2010.