Naval and Military Intelligence.The Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1121, p. 608.
December 14, 1861
In consequence of the possibility of a rupture between this country and the Federal States of North America the war authorities have exerted themselves with extraordinary vigour to send reinforcements promptly to Canada. The Globe tells us that by to-day (Saturday) 2200 additional troops will be on their way to Canada. This will bring up the strength of the regular forces in the colony to between 7000 and 8000, and we have at home a reserve which, if the necessity should be forced upon us, would enable up[sic] to bring 30,000 highly disciplined men at once into the field. At all the dockyards the greatest activity prevails in getting ships of war ready for sea—the number destined for service on the West India and North American station being roughly estimated at about sixty.
Yesterday week the officers, non-commissioned officers, gunners, and drivers, comprising Captain Vesey's E battery of the 4th brigade Royal Field Artillery, assembled on parade at Woolwich, and after inspection proceeded in marching order from the garrison to the Royal Arsenal, for embarkation on board the screw steam-vessel Melbourne, for Canada. The streets in the line of march were crowded with spectators, and the force, which was preceded by the full band of the regiment and numerous field officers, was repeatedly cheered by the public, and especially on entering the main gate of the Royal Arsenal, where a multitude had assembled. The force immediately embarked from the Royal Arsenal jetty on board the Melbourne, which has shipped during the week the following amount of war stores—viz., two complete batteries of Armstrong guns, several howitzers, 30,000 stand of arms and accoutrements, 2,500,000 rounds of Minié rifle balls and smallarms ammunition, 1500 rounds of Armstrong-gun ammunition, cartridges, &c. She also takes out military clothing and a quantity of stores peculiarly adapted for Canada, including a number of snow-sleighs, which the wheelers and carpenters of the Royal carriage department were working day and night to manufacture during the week. The Melbourne was under orders to sail in the evening, but an order was received to increase by a large number the supply of sleighs for the transport of guns, &c., and an additional number of workmen were consequently employed during the night. The embarkation scene is depicted on p 607.... The Melbourne sailed on Saturday at half-past two p.m. The long and spacious platform of the Royal Arsenal Pier was thronged during the process of getting under way by officers of the garrison and their families. As soon as the ship had veered round from her moorings and was fairly on her course the spectators gave a hearty "God speed!" which was immediately followed by the waving of caps and handkerchiefs and shouts of applause. The shouts then commenced on board, and were repeatedly heard when the Melbourne was far down the Thames, testifying in a perfectly unmistakable manner to the feelings of the troops. Besides the ordinary warm clothing which was sent out in the Melbourne, each man will be provided with the following articles:—A fur (sealskin) cap, two flannel waistcoats, a pair of fur gloves, six pair of Canada boots, two pair of woollen stockings, a comforter, and a chamois leather jacket. Some 3000 moccasins and snowshoes will also be sent as soon as they can be procured. The 30,000 Enfield rifles conveyed by the Melbourne are intended for the Canadian militia. This excellent force, numbering now some 30,000, and capable of being increased to 200,000, was organised during the Crimean War. The volunteer movement has also taken deep root in Canada, and, as almost every village contains an old military officer, their drilling and organisation have been well looked after.
Other ships will speedily follow the Melbourne with similar freights. In addition to the Persia and Australasian, each of which will take out about 1200 men, the Government have decided upon chartering six large steamers for the purpose of carrying troops and stores to Jamaica, Bermuda, and Halifax. The Persia and Australasian are being rapidly fitted for the conveyance of troops, stores, and ammunition, and it is expected they will be ready to sail about the 14th or 15th inst. Each of them is to carry out a complement of 1100 soldiers, 5000 stand of arms, and 300 tons of stores. Besides these each is to take out a field battery and a large quantity of ammunition.
It has been determined to send out a considerable number of non-commissioned officers to assist in the organisation of the Canadian militia—each regiment at Aldershott having been called to furnish three volunteers for this duty. It is stated that in some regiments as many as thirty sergeants have volunteered.
Colonel Napier, Deputy Quartermaster-General in Canada, is placed on the Staff in that colony, with the rank of Major-General. He is succeeded as Deputy Quartermaster-Genera1 by Colonel Mackenzie, C.B., who was on the China Staff. Colonel Lysons will be the Adjutant-General of Militia for the colony.
On Sunday week a large number of mechanics and labourers were employed at the Tower of London in packing firearms and every kind of article which is required for active service. Another order was received on Saturday last to prepare 25,000 more rifles, which were duly packed and conveyed in barges to the Government dépôt at Woolwich, where they were placed on board the several vessels which are about to depart for Canada. The large gunmakers at the east end of London are working night and day to execute large numbers of rifles, and each contractor has to supply a certain number daily, which are tested at the proofhouse and then sent to the Tower for exportation.
On Monday the first battalion of the Grenadier Guards were inspected at the Tower previous to their embarkation for Canada. The whole of the men have undergone medical examination, and those found unfit for active service have been rejected.
By order of the Lords of the Admiralty, Commodore Nicolson, of H.M.S. Fisgard, the guardship for the port of London, has issued notice that all members of the Royal Navy temporarily borne on the books of the Fisgard from ships that have been paid off, and who have been granted one month's leave of absence, are to rejoin immediately. Similar orders have been sent to all the outports, and all leave of absence is for the present suspended in the Royal Navy. The entry of able and ordinary seamen for her Majesty's service is being vigorously prosecuted, and the Royal Naval Rendezvous, Towerhill, which has been closed for some months, is to be reopened to receive men desirous of joining the service. From the returns recently made by Captain Brown, principal registrar of the Reserve of Naval Volunteers, it appears that the total strength of the corps is 7646 men. 180 of the number holding certificates of competency as masters and mates, and 1050 being competent to act as petty officers—all of whom are ready for any emergency.
The total number of men available in our naval reserve is estimated by the United Service Gazette at 21,231. The following is a detail of the several reserves on the lst instant:—Coastguard on ships' books for shore duty, 232 officers, 3386 men—3618. Ships' crews, 227 officers, 1763 men, and 719 boys—2709. Tenders' crews, 107 officers, 574 men, and 166 boys— 847; marines, 510. Total, 7174. Old reserve force: 26 officers, 1108 men. Naval coast volunteers, 7768. Naval reserve force, 7440.
Orders have been received at various military stations in Ireland for completing the strength of sixty-nine regiments of the Line. Recruiting for that purpose will commence immediately.
The Army and Navy Gazette says that we could quadruple the force now and about to be under Admiral Milne, on the North American station, without any apparent effort. We could, besides heavy line-of- battle ships, frigates, corvettes, sloops, and gun-vessels, spread over the seaboard of the Northern States no less than fifty screw gun-boats, each armed with heavy Armstrongs (they are all ready), to be followed by another hatch of fifty, if the first required support. The total force which we could place under Sir Alexander's orders wherewith he could open the ball would be, supposing the Mediterranean fleet furnished its quota, eleven line-of-battle ships, mounting 975 guns, manned by 9580 men; ten frigates, mounting 447 guns, manned by 5150 men; five heavy corvettes, mounting 105 guns, manned by 1360 men; and seventeen sloops and smaller vessels, mounting together 93 guns, manned by 1493 men; making a grand total of 1527 guns, and 12,436 men. In addition to the men now mentioned, the Donegal, Conqueror, and Sanspareil have on board a battalion of marines in the highest state of discipline.
The Globe of Wednesday has a brief leader to the following effect:—Various statements, all more or 1ess inaccurate, having been made respecting the reinforcements for the protection of our interests in North America, it may be well to mention the steps actually taken for that purpose. The following troops have been ordered to Canada in the Persia, the Australasian, and the Melbourne, of which the Melbourne has sailed:—Two battalions of infantry of the Line, two batteries of Field Artillery, one company of Royal Engineers. And we understand that arrangements are being made for forwarding to British North America at once two battalions of Guards, four battalions of infantry of the Line, three batteries of Field Artillery, five batteries of Garrison Artillery, two battalions of Military Train, and two companies of Royal Engineers. The two battalions of the Guards under orders are the first battalion of the Grenadier Guards, now at the Tower, and the second battalion Scots Fusilier Guards, at Wellington Barracks. The Rifle Brigade and first battalion of the l6th are in course of embarkation, and the following battalions are held in readiness—viz., the first of the 15th, 96th, and second of the 16th Regiments.