Drake Letters Index 60. Drake to Louisa 19 February 1855 ◄ ● ► 62. Drake to Louisa 26 February 1855
The Drake Letters
William Henry Drake (Balaklava) № 50 - Louisa Drake (London), 23 February 1855
№ 50 Balaklava 23 Feby 55 1
My dear Lu,
        I recd. yours of the 4th yesterday & was glad to find the accounts of health rather improved at the Village 2 & still satisfactory in Gloucester Place 3
You seem to have had much trouble about the Coat – We have just had Buckmaster out here taking measures &c. 4 I have not heard that our new Uniform is decided on so I will have a Blue Cloth Tunic, Same Shape as the Rifle Tunic and braided lightly with Black braid – I will not have the Gold lace or embroidery except as far as any thing that distinguishes the ranks; having so far described my habiliment I leave it to Mr. Blamey 5 to go again to Whitehall Yard 6 for a general idea of Tunic & not to [sic] much braid   I would not order one from Buckmaster not because he is more expensive, tho’ I think him a do 7 – but because the other man is civil & takes pains to oblige –
I have not yet heard of Mr. Weir’s Arrival at Pera but Strickland 8 had landed in Greece a fortnight ago – Weir is to have the Cash & Correspondence at Pera & A.C.G. Turner 9 to have Acting rank & Superintend the Depots of Stores &c. That is Mr. Filders present plan but he is so undecided & Changeable it is impossible to say what he may do next week – He decides a thing one day & sends a Steamer off to notify it and the next sends another to set aside the previous order & gives one just the reverse   He certainly is not the man for this Service nor do I think any one Department better conducted – The Quarter Master Generals 10 is the worst by far –
Our weather is now clear & frosty but not very cold, thawing as the sun gets power during the day & freezing at night – I should myself prefer getting a Station to remaining here but it is a vain wish I fancy just now. Our great hope must rest on the Vienna peoples conference 11 which I trust may end in Peace. – Our Generals have been expecting an attack daily so much so that Lord Raglan would not allow Officers or men to leave Camp on two different occasions – The last was to have been this morning but we have not had any, nothing but a few Sorties of no consequence whatever & without any result
We are going to send the French 4 or 6 of our large 13 Inch Mortars as it appears they are in want of guns of Sufficient Calibre
The Railway is getting on well   They will in a few days get Shot & Shell up by it to Kadikoi the 1st Village some 1½ [miles] out of this   this will prevent a little of the crowding in the Small Space of Balaklava – The Fleet are getting Strong and much is hoped from their exertions being united to the Army but when they will open fire again is very doubtful   It seems as if a general apathy had fallen on our leaders & their time frittered away in complaints against the Commissariat wh. are mostly unfounded but by which they hope to avert blame from themselves – With love to all and plenty of Kisses believe me ever
Your affectionate Hub
W. H. Drake

4 P.M.
just recd. all your letters of 8th Feby. for which many many thanks!
[Written across the page.] 24th. If the dress Coat is £6.6. and you like it send that in lieu of the one I have described
W. H. D.
1. Private family manuscript (Judith Hall and Sally Mac, Auckland, New Zealand).
2. Henry’s parents, John & Maria Drake, and his sister Charlotte, lived at 27 Park Village East (NW1), London, situated near Regent’s Park. His father had been suffering from gout.
3. Henry’s wife, Louisa, and daughters, Louisa, Charlotte and Laura lived at 1 Gloucester Place (W1), London, not too far from his parents.
4. I could not find any reference to Buckmaster being at Balaklava, but found refence to him in another context: The 71st have arrived from Corfu, and are encamped in front and to the right of Balaclava; the men look remarkably well, and the officers are determined to make the best of it. One of the latter – a noble lord, clad in a full-dress coat, and evidently well defended by under garments – was busily engaged wearing out the useless bright production of Mr. Buckmaster amid the most unenviable body of mud. His great object appeared to be the elevation of a hut. … [“THE WAR IN THE EAST.” Morning Post [London, England] 2 March 1855: 5+. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 18 July 2013.]
5. In a previous letter, William Henry Drake (Balaklava) №35 to Louisa Drake (London) (4 January 1855), Henry asked Louisa to see Mr. Blamey of Charing Cross regarding a new coat.
6. The United Service Institution was situated in Whitehall Yard. [“Inspection Of Field-Marshals.” Times [London, England] 2 November 1855: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 18 July 2013.]
7. To do it on: To swindle, impose on; to forestall, anticipate; get the better of, outdo, be too good for. [E. Partridge, A Dictionary of Historial Slang, (Harmondsworth, 1972), p. 263.]
8. ACG Edward Strickland.
9. ACG Philip Turner.
10. The Quarter Master General was Gen. Richard Airey.
11. In April 1885 a conference was held in Vienna to see whether the warring parties could find acceptable terms of peace. The new Czar Alexander II (Czar Nicholas I had died in March 1855) agreed to all the Allies’ demands bar one – that Russian warships be kept out of the Black Sea. Viscount Palmerston insisted, and the Peace talks folded. [R.M. Rayner, Nineteenth century England, 2nd ed., (London, 1931), p. 185.]

Drake Letters Index 60. Drake to Louisa 19 February 1855 ◄ ● ► 62. Drake to Louisa 26 February 1855