Storks to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary)
2 October 1858
I am directed by the Secretary of State for War to request that you will acquaint Secretary Sir E.B. Lytton that a communication has been made to the Admiralty to the effect suggested in your Letter of yesterday's date 1 regarding the proposed extended employment of the freight ships "Thames City" and Briseis.
With respect to the surprize expressed in your Letter that these Vessels have not been chartered to proceed beyond Vancouver's Island, I am to observe that M. General Peel is not aware that this Office ever received any official notification or request that the Ships to be taken up for this service, were to convey the detachment ofManuscript image Royal Engineers to the Frazer's River. On the contrary he always understood that in accordance with the design announced in your Letter of the 15th July, 2 the detachment was to proceed to Vancouvers Island and there form a depôt and make the necessary arrangements connected with their duties inland under the directions of the Governor. I am to add that it is scarcely possible to conceive that Colonel Moody who is known to have been in constant communication with the Shipowners and other parties engaged in the service, was not perfectly aware that the Ships were only chartered for Vancouver's Island.
M. General Peel much regrets to find that there should have occurred any such misapprehension on the subject; but he must repudiate the mistake, if mistake there be, being attributed to any want of care or attention in this dept.
I have etc.
H.K. Storks
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
You will see that in the letter addressed to the War Office on the 1st instant, whatever the inference to be drawn from it may be, we carefully abstained from imparting blame to that Department for not having taken up freight to Frazer's River. It appears to me however for the following reasons that this blame is justly attributable to the War Office and to no one else. You will notice that when, on the 13th July, 3 we first wrote to the War Office to order the despatch of a Military force, it was stated that that force was to aid the Civil power in Vancouver's Island, and "on the opposite coast of North America," to "march inland if required to prevent collisions between the Diggers and Indians". On the 20th of July 4 we directed the War Office to hold a Party of Engineers in readiness to repair to New Caledonia, as the Colony was at that date called; Vancouver's Island was not mentioned.YouManuscript image You will observe that between the 13th and 20th July a difference in our policy had taken place. The Soldiers were abandoned, and Royal Engineers, as a more reliable set of men, substituted for them. Therefore the orders were really given to the War Office on the 20th July for forwarding Engineers to the new Colony. But those orders were precise and distinct.
The Act of Parliament constituting the Colony of British Columbia was passed on the 30th July last. On the 3rd August 5 we wrote to the War Office directing them to take up freight for the conveyance of these Engineers to the New Settlement. Vancouver's Island was again not mentioned in the letter, and I, for one, was never more thoroughly astonished than when Colonel Moody's letter of the 24th Ultimo 6 represented that the freight Vessels were not to go beyond Victoria. It was in view of these circumstances that Lord Carnarvon and I agreed that it would be proper to write our letterManuscript image of the 1st instant. I cannot myself see that the War Office has successfully defended itself from great misapprehension.
These facts can if it is wished be stated to the War Office, though for the sake of peace between Public Departments and if no advantage is sacrificed by silence I would scarcely advise that step. It is sufficient I think that we should have done the best that we could to remedy the effects of the inattention of the War Office. If the correspondence should be laid before Parliament, it will be apparent that the Colonial Office is exempt from blame.
ABd 5 Octr
Manuscript image
Mr Blackwood
I return this for the present with 10184: 7 it had better be circulated again with the draft on that letter.
HM O 6
Returned to Dt 8th.
Sir Edward Lytton
Mr Blackwood suggests a complete answer to the W.O. letter, who are I think really chargeableManuscript image with the mistake wh has taken place: but I doubt the desirability of prolonging a controversy between two public departments where neither will own themselves in the wrong. I believe on the whole that it had better be allowed to drop. If however you wish it the W.O. may be privately reminded of what Mr Blackwood has minuted: but I hardly think that further official correspondence can serve any purpose.
C Oct 12
I think a courteous reply as to the facts & dates will be desirable. Draft it & let me see. It may be wanted for Parlt.
EBL Oct 12
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, with revisions, Colonial Office to Under-Secretary, War Office, no date, marked "not sent," explaining in detail the course of events which led to the contracting of the ships.

Minutes by CO staff
[Minute on above:]
Lord Carnarvon
See Sir Edward Lytton's Minute on 10081. 8
  1. I.e., Storks to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary), 1 October 1858, 9977, CO 60/2, p. 372.
  2. = CO-WO, 15 Jul 58, REs to BC FIND?? Merivale to War Office, 15 July 1858, re Royal Engineers to BC.
  3. = Military force, 1st ordered FIND?? Colonial Office to War Office, 13 July 1858, dispatch military force to BC.
  4. = REs to BC FIND?? Colonial Office to War Office, 20 July 1858, to send REs to BC.
  5. = CO-WO, REs to BC FIND?? Colonial Office to War Office, 3 August 1858, re freight for REs.
  6. I.e, Moody to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary), 24 September 1858, 9808, CO 60/3, p. 289.
  7. Corry to Merivale (Permanent Under-Secretary), 5 October 1858, 10184, CO 60/2, p. 21.
  8. I.e, letter in this file.
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Carnarvon, Earl

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Merivale, Herman

Moody, Richard Clement

Peel, Jonathan

Storks, Henry Knight

Organizations in this document

Colonial Office

Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty

War Office

Vessels in this document


Thames City, 1856

Places in this document

British Columbia

Fraser River

New Caledonia

Vancouver Island