Added by Marjie Bloy, Ph.D., Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore. Christopher Hibbert, who used parts of these letters in his Destruction of Lord Raglan acknowledges Richard Dyer-Bennet, Snr. Cynthia Dyer-Bennet, his granddaughter, has graciously granted permission to include the correspondence in the Victorian Web, and according to her, her grandfather typed the transcriptions in 1961.
My dearest Mother,
Many thanks for your last letter dated Dec. 30th. I had intended writing two or three long letters tonight as the post usually leaves here on Tuesdays or Saturdays, but as they seem at Headquarters to take delight in throwing everybody out, they have just sent over to say it closes tonight, so I have only half an hour to write as much as I can.
We are going on much the same as usual, the weather has been the last week much milder, the snow has nearly disappeared, but the thaw has made the Camp like a very wet and deep ploughed field, at any rate this is better than the intense cold we have had lately. We are now reduced to 9,500 effective bayonets, inclusive of 3,000 at Balaklava under Sir Colin Campbell. It really makes one laugh to see the nonsense they put in the papers, about our now having 30,000 men etc., with every comfort, etc., etc.
I received a letter from Aunt (tell her I will answer it by next mail), by last Mail, in which she says the people are enraged at the falsehoods the Times tells about things out here. I can assure you that it is true every word of it, and that they do not state one half of the miseries going on here. There is a general feeling of dislike and hatred growing up rapidly in the Army against Lord Raglan, from his want of foresight, and total neglect of the officers, men and Horses. No doubt people will try to excuse him by saying he has not this, or that and has great difficulties to contend with. We allow all this, but still we who are here, see and know of fifty things he might have done with the greatest ease, if he had chosen, in Hutting, feeding, defences, visiting the sick, etc., etc., but not a thing has he done, is hardly ever seen, and if anyone proposes a measure to him he only pooh,pooh! and says impossible.
You may depend we shall be heard before long (as all are quite disgusted out here), from Sir De Lacy Evans, as it is from the Officers down to the smallest drummer boy. Half the officers have sent in their resignations, but he will not accept them. Not only this, the falsehoods that blackguard Government at home tell, are perfectly frightful, fancy saying the coffee was burnt and ground, it never has been and is at this moment issued raw. Little or no fuel, and stating that vegetables were issued to the troops free of expense is not true, two or three times, they have had some very bad pig's potatoes, for which the men had to pay 2/- for eight pounds of them.
I am very anxious about my step now, as I am afraid someone may die between me and my present vacancy. In that case I do not know where I should fall, at present I could not stand better, but I heard a report today that Heyman is dead, which would play the devil with me.
I have not yet received the parcel per Black Prince, as she has not yet arrived. Do not send anything more out, until you hear from me again, as they would only arrive after I left and would certainly be lost.
Sir W. Young's watch went home by Capt. Paynter, as also his rings etc. I shall bring home the remainder myself.
I have no time to write any more, as the orderly is come. I will write a long letter by the Mail which leaves in a day or two, and answer all questions, and tell you how and when I shall come home, that is if I fall as I calculate I shall. Tell the Knowlys that I will also write to them by the same mail. With best love to all at home believe me dearest Mammy,
Ever your affectionate Son. W.P.R.
Last modified 23 April 2002