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Drake Letters Index 11. Drake to Louisa 4 August 1854 ◄ ● ► 13. Drake to Louisa 19 August 1854
The Drake Letters
 
William Henry Drake (Varna) № 2 - Louisa Drake (London), 10 - 14 August 1854
№ 2 Varna 10th August 1854 1
 
My dear Lu,
 
        Yesterday I wrote to my Father had not time for any other, but as all my letters are Family Letters it is not of much consequence 2 I was desirous of writing him a Letter he could show apart from Family Matters – I today applied for a Ty. Bill for £100 which I shall send with this for you as I do not wish to keep much money by me it is only a temptation to Servants to rob – My best Servant 3 deserted me at Constantinople   I have got one now that is neither groom Cook, Valet, or body servant, in fact is & is fit for nothing – I shall have to get a better when I can in the mean time, I pay him £3.10. a month & feed him –
 
The money I send is not savings – but I had 3 mos. pay at starting in Greece to get & they advance £40 to every officer to buy Horses. – It is to be refunded by Instalments   I wish they may get it!! – In the mean time they give us 1/6 per day for a Servant which adds just so much to our Pay while in Turkey
 
I am doing what I always told you I would do for my Promotion – I work early & late from 6 A.M. to 7 & 8 P.M. – & really work very hard both actively & in writing & I assure you it is no joke as you we have no comfortable home to fall back on – bare Walls – I have neither bedstead Washstand Chair or table – Bed on the Floor (no sheets, Bugs, Fleas, Flies & Cockroaches) my Seat a box my Table a larger box my Wash stand, a nitch in the wall – much glass broken in the Windows – Carpenter, 4 Routh, 5 Hawkins 6 & I live together – Uniacke 7 will probably join us as he is coming in from his Division – replaced by Power 8 – We have a table to eat on & Knives forks Spoons & plates (those I brought principally & some Routh has – We generally get tea sugar Eggs & sometimes meat for Breakfast – Milk sometimes, butter never – Dinner we have boiled macaroni (no cheese) meat bread and sometimes Potatoes. – Seldom touch wine & little Brandy but console ourselves with a Cask of Ale one out of the Store sent for officers at 4d p. qt.
 
Cholera has abated, but diarrhoa & dysentery with some few Cases of Fever Temain 9 – all are very bad & unpleasant, but great care will I hope steer most of us clear of them – I shall be very happy to get my Step & rejoin you I can assure you but when that happy day will come who shall say – If all hands get tired of the War it may end but I confess I see no present prospect of it – The Russians have evacuated Bucharest & the Turks have occupied it – The former say they left it on account of the position taken by the Allied Army – Where we are to Winter will depend on the Scene of Operations for which we are slowly preparing & also on its Success especially if it is against Sebastopol – I myself think Odessa will be the place they will attempt the others seem to be too much for them to dream of.
 
List of Casualties, Commt. Dept. Varna from 1st to 8th Augt. 1854 – those marked X sick   Gone to Constantinople [marked] XX.
 
X D.C.G. Ramsay 10 – D.C.G. Cowan 11 XX – Home on Sick leave
 
A.C.G. X Routh 12 better again 13 – X Strickland 14    X Clark 15    XX Gardiner 16    Knowles 17 (Sick leave) gone home 18    Watt 19 XX (Sick leave)
 
D.A.C.G. XX Gem 20    X Swain 21    X Palmer, 22    X Murray 23    XX Smith 24    X Brownrigg 25 – Probyn 26 sick leave home
 
Actg. D.A.C.G. Du Bordieu, 27 dead,    X Anderson – dead 12th. 28    XX Brew. 29
 
C.C. 30 X Le Maitre 31    XX Fletcher 32    X Baynes, 33    XX Lewis 34
 
Storekeepers Warren 35 dead - Hayes 36 & XX Power 37 resigned
 
Actg. “ Stuckey 38 dead – Rolls, 39 Gee, 40 Sims 41 resd.   X Sheehan 42    X Mallin [sic] 43 X Mossman 44 better 45
 
Tempy. Clks. X Blap [Blades?] 46 – Biancardi 47 resigned   X Thompson 48
 

 
but 7 more are ill today – 13th Augt
 
5½ A.M. 11 August 1854
 
At about 8 OCk. last night a fire broke out in the vicinity of the Turkish Powder Magazine it raged furiously burning all before it Thousands of Troops out, the crews of every Ship in the Bay – it was stopped near the Magazine by our Sappers blowing up a house which should have been done much earlier it then burnt away towards the French Magazine where a large quantity of Powder & Shells are and for three hours or so it was doubtful whether Varna would be a heap of ruins or not – at last it was turned rather than got under & we were not blown up Half the Town is burnt all the business part of our forage Corn Store with some millions pounds Barley, & some biscuit – We have plenty Barley but Biscuit we cannot afford to lose Loss of course not yet ascertained – The [Commissariat] Money was Carted out to a Camp about 2 miles out   I went out & returned – A St. John 49 fire was not to be compared with this especially with the idea of being blown up – I met several French Officers with whom I was acquainted hard at work in fact every Officer worked hard & men too – About 30 lives were lost, many from men getting drunk & falling into the fire – Some Greeks were taken actually setting light to bundles of rags [sp?] with Matches in the Neighbourhood of the Magazine   The 38th brought one to me having just caught him, he was taken to the Main Guard. The French Zouaves stabbed two or three they caught under similar circumstances – A Sous Officer French told me my lost Portmanteau was safe –   12. Today I found my lost Portmanteau – untouched. I have to thank my civility to some unfortunate Seasick officers on board the “Nil” for it – I have been all day Knocking about in the Sun & heat & am knocked up, so good night dear Lu, my exposure has today been much increased by the death of an Acting D.A.C.G. 50 & Sickness of several others of the Dept. Carpenter 51 & I made arrangements for burying the poor man & Shipped several off to Constantinople for a trip.
 
2   13th August.> Sunday. Better today for going quietly to bed & Keeping as quiet as possible – Carpenter & I attended Divine Service at ½ p. 10 at Lord Raglan’s 52 – I saw Col: Alexander Rl. Engr. 53 Boyle’s 54 father-in-law & spoke to him about Boyle – The Rev. Mr. Wright 55 performed the Service & gave a good Sermon – Yesterday we shipped A.C.G. Gardiner, D.A.C.G. Gem, Smith, Brew & C.C. Fletcher & Lewis to Const: for a trip they return by same Vessels in a few days
 
Mr. Lewis Father 56 is in Paymaster Genl. Office. I know him & did all I could for his boy a nice young lad, he will I think be all right after the cruise but if you see him [the father] you may say I will do all I can for him – he [the son] is empd. as Clerk in Mr. Filder’s Office
 
I am afraid Carpenter & I impinged much on the usual routine of Varna duty by going to church   D.C.G. Adams face presenting a queer mixture of horror, dismay, & surprise when on his asking me where I was going – I quietly replied “to Church” A. Why, I wanted you to get me some Way Bills of such & such Vessels – I said – You can take any you wish off the table in my Office – but I am now going as I shall otherwise be late for Church – He said nothing   He is a sad rough brusque sort of fellow & quarrels with many – We however get on very well together – The fact is on my arrival here I found a great many such & I at once gave out that I submitted to no abuse or dictatorial language from any one, that if personal I knew how to take care of myself, if official I would at once carry it direct to Lord Raglan for a Court of Inquiry – So I have had Civility on all hands as yet & as I am not myself quarrelsome & carry with my opinion the good & sensible men of The Dept. I trust my coming may have tended to improve matters a little – The mail is due from England & I hope to be able to acknowledge a letter from you. Several steamers have come in – All matters are kept profoundly Secret here & you know them generally from the Times as early as we do – One thing is certain Up to this day neither English or French regulars have crossed Swords or fire with the Russians – The Bashi Bazooks of the French have & suffered severely too, Eight large Vessels of the Fleet are cruising about in sight, & I expect the 20 [August] will see us embarked for Sebastopol, there to succeed or not as may be –
 
Horrible paper & shocking pen. –
 
Monday 14th Augt. Nothing very new this morning – The Fleet is cruising about because Cholera has appeared on board, On shore the Doctors say it is diminishing but dysentery is still very prevalent – This is really causing one’s pay & promotion but of the latter I am far from certain   What will our new Masters do & what system adopt 57 – Mr. Petrie 58 is a sad anti-promotion man – but the disease of no promotion will cure itself as Officers if they see no prospect of it will not work as we do, they may remember that as we have none of the Glory of War so no disgrace will attach to us if we leave them in the lurch while fighting & go home Sick which has been & will continue to be the case when no stimulant is applied to sustain us –
 
Just recd. all yr. Letters 26 & 27th July [written across the page] I assure you they are most acceptable in fact nearly my only comfort here –
 
I have only had time just to skim them & see alls well    thank Maria 59 for hers.
 
It is rumoured that General Espinassi 60 of the French Service has committed Suicide – he proposed it is said the late expedition under Genl. Canrobert 61 & the Bashi Bazooks which terminated in the loss of some 2000 of them by the Sword & disease – With this he is said to have been troubled<
 
The French have lost nearly 10000 men by this Expedition, Cholera & other disease – The English loss is said to be from 500 to 600 men –
 
Treasury Bill No. 74 of 10 Augt. 1854 for £100 sent herewith –
 

 
Last Despatch
 
Nice cool day – & all well so far as I am personally concerned
 
W. H. D.
 

 
WH Drake Journal
 
Augt 11th. Up at ½ past 5. Went to see the ruins, especially of our Storehouse &c. More than 30 people are said to have lost their lives. Nearly all our establishment completey knocked up. Actg. D.A.C.G. Brew 62 ill, diarrhea. He calls it cholera, & expects to die. He is the last, but one, of 7 Acting officers, & a host of Asst. Storekeepers from the Irish Constabulary. One died. From what we have seen of this body of men, & previous experience, I am satisfied that, though they would be valuable at a station where they could, after work, obtain their comfort & relaxation, are totally unfit for the Dept. in time of War, &, being under the disadvantage of being at an age where they have long entered life, to begin to learn the rudiments & forms of their new service, in the present case, they have found innumerable difficulties, & great privations & hardships, in common with all of us, & they have given way in the proportion of 6 out of 7, while only 3 of ours have actually succumbed. Old age in one case, & previous weak constitutions in the other, 2 having induced them to go home, while several have really knocked up in harness, & have suffered from severe illness. It is a very difficult case to decide, as to where others are to be obtgained, if the Department is not kept on a war footing, or something resembling the Medical, Regimental, & Staff Officers be adopted. I went with Carpenter 63 to see D.A.C.G. Brew and Anderson, 64 both very ill, the latter I fear for most.
 
Augt 12. Up at 6. This day, 23 years ago, I left London from Gravesend with J. Lewis, 65 H.A. & Ned White to join the Egyptian [Ship] for Swan River, a boy, & thinking as a boy. Went with Carpenter to the sick bay again. Mr. Anderson said he was better. I do not think so. Today recovered my lost Portmaneau, by the kindness of Capt. Chaper, Corps du Genie, lost 26 July. Mr. Anderson died, & Mr. Brew sent to a ship.
 
Aug 19. Up at 5. Post day. Commenced letter to Lu, finished it, enclosed 2nd of Treasury Bill for £100 No. 74. Worked at office. Sale of late D.A.C.G. Anderson’s things.
 
 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Footnotes
 
1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
 
2. It seems, however, from Henry’s Journal that he wrote “Private Letters” to Louisa. This commenced on 30 August 1854, and he noted these letters in the margin with the abbreviation “LL”.
 
3. Henry hired Constantine Christo on 17 July 1854 at 10 dollars a month.
 
4. ACG Frederick Stanley Carpenter.
 
5. ACG Leonce Routh.
 
6. DACG Villiers William Cæsar Hawkins.
 
7. DACG Redmond C. Uniacke.
 
8. DACG William James Tyrone Power.
 
9. Ptomaine: Any class of basic nitrogenous substances, some of them very poisonous, produced during putrefaction of animal or plant proteins. Ptomaine poisoning: A toxic condition cased by the consumption of ptomaines; foot poisoning. [The budget Macquarie dictionary, (McMahons Point, NSW, 1982), p. 542.]
 
10. DCG Thomas Wharton Ramsay.
 
11. DCG Edward Alphonso Frederick Cowan.
 
12. ACG Leonce Routh.
 
13. Henry noted that Routh was better on 13 August 1854.
 
14. ACG Edward Strickland.
 
15. ACG Henry Clarke.
 
16. ACG Robert May Gardiner.
 
17. ACG Francis Edward Knowles.
 
18. Henry noted that Knowles had gone home on 13 August 1854.
 
19. ACG Fitzjames Edward Watt.
 
20. DACG Thomas Gem.
 
21. DACG Charles O. Swain.
 
22. DACG Charles Palmer.
 
23. In December 1854 two DACs G Murray were listed as being stationed in Turkey, John and James William.
 
24. DACG Charles Bagot Smith.
 
25. DACG Henry John Broderick Brownrigg.
 
26. DACG Charles Edward Probyn.
 
27. Acting DACG George du Bordieu died at Varna on 6 August 1854.
 
28. Acting DACG Thomas C. Anderson died at Varna on 12 August 1854.
 
29. DACG Chartres Brew.
 
30. CC: Commissariat Clerk.
 
31. Acting CC A. W. Le Maitre joined the Eastern Army on 8 June 1854.
 
32. CC Jno. L. Fletcher joined the Eastern Army on 22 April 1854.
 
33. CC Arthur Stuart Baynes was listed as in the Eastern Army.
 
34. CC Henry Clutterbuck Lewis.
 
35. Storekeeper G. Warren.
 
36. Storekeeper Charles Hayes joined the Eastern Army on 9 May 1854.
 
37. Storekeeper John Power joined the Eastern Army on 8 May 1854.
 
38. Acting Storekeeper W. Stuckey joined the Eastern Army on 24 June 1854.
 
39. Acting Storekeeper Ralph Rolls joined the Eastern Army on 17 July 1854.
 
40. Acting Storekeeper Charles Gee joined the Eastern Army on 17 July 1854.
 
41. Acting Storekeeper John Sims.
 
42. Acting Storekeeper J. Sheehan joined the Eastern Army on 24 June 1854.
 
43. Storekeeper C. E. Mallain joined the Eastern Army on 19 May 1843.
 
44. Acting Storekeeper James Mossman joined the Eastern Army on 24 June 1854.
 
45. Henry noted that Mossman was better on 13 August 1854.
 
46. Temporary Clerk W. H. Blades joined the Eastern Army on 28 August 1854.
 
47. Assistant Storekeeper Richard Biancardi joined the Eastern Army on 1 June 1854.
 
48. Temporary Clerk Alfred Robert Thompson joined the Eastern Army on 17 July 1854.
 
49. St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Henry and his family were stationed there from 1850 to 1854.
 
50. Acting DACG Thomas C. Anderson died on 12 August 1854.
 
51. ACG Frederick Stanley Carpenter.
 
52. Lord Fitzroy James Henry Somerset Raglan, British Field-Marshal.
 
53. Colonel Charles Carson Alexander, Royal Engineers.
 
54. Lieutenant Colonel Cavendish Spencer Boyle, 72nd Highlanders?, married Rose Susan, daughter of Colonel Charles Garson Alexander, in 1844.
 
55. Rev. Henry Press Wright.
 
56. Frederick Lewis, of the Paymaster General’s Office.
 
57. Henry obviously knew about the changes that were taking place in London regarding the transfer of the Commissariat from the Treasury to the War Department, as these changes took place shortly after his letter, William Henry Drake (Balaklava) #25 – Louisa Drake (London) (25 November 1854), some months later.
 
58. Samuel Petrie, chief clerk of the Commissariat Department in London.
 
59. Henry’s sister, Maria Harriet White.
 
60. Gen. Espinasse commanded the 1st Brigade, 1st Division at Alma.
 
61. Gen. François Certain Canrobert took over command of the French Army after Saint-Arnaud’s death on 19 September 1854. [R. Parkinson, The encyclopedia of modern war, p. 48.]
 
62. Acting DACG Chartres Brew.
 
63. ACG Frederick Stanley Carpenter.
 
64. Acting DACG Thomas C. Anderson died at Varna on 12 August 1854.
 
65. The late John Lewis, formerly ACG in Western Australia.
 
 
 

 
© COPYRIGHT MEGAN STEVENS 2015 —
Drake Letters Index 11. Drake to Louisa 4 August 1854 ◄ ● ► 13. Drake to Louisa 19 August 1854