No. 51, Military
8 August 1861
I had the honor, in a Despatch, No 19 of the 19th of February last, to address Your Grace on the subject of forming Volunteer Rifle Corps inthisManuscript image this Colony, as suggested in Sir G.C. Lewis' Despatch No 40 of the 17th of October 1860.
2. I therein informed Your Grace, that the most respectable of the white inhabitants were fully prepared to enrol themselves into a Volunteer Force; and that a Corps, entirely composed of the coloured population, was actually under training, and had built a hall, and were paying a Drill Sergeant,EntirelyManuscript image Entirely at their own Expense. I also mentioned that they had applied to me for Fire arms, which they are greatly in want of, and that I was unable to render them that assistance at present, as the smallness of the Colonial revenue, and the infant state of the Colony will not admit of the necessary fire arms being procured by the Colony, and that had I been able to supply efficient arms, a most valuable CorpswouldManuscript image would have been formed at the time of the American occupation of San Juan, and lastly I engaged to form a Volunteer Force that would be no discredit to the Empire, provided Her Majesty's Government would extend their assistance in that matter, and furnish me with 500 stand of Arms.
3. I have now the satisfaction of communicating for Your Graces information on that subject, that upwardsofManuscript image of 200 of the white residents of Victoria have come forward, and in the most patriotic manner formed themselves into a Volunteer Corps for the purpose of protecting property, and, in case of need, defending the integrity of Her Majesty's Dominions.
4. Another Corps, composed of 77 Members, being nearly the whole white male population of Nanaimo, has been enrolled at that place.
5. These two Corps with the Corps of coloured peoplenumberingManuscript image numbering 80 men, before alluded to in this Despatch, form altogether a force of 357 effective men.
6. I have given the fullest encouragement to this movement, and have authorized the several Corps to select their own officers, submitting their names for my approval, which, I believe, is the course usually followed in Her Majesty's Colonies.
7. I have to acknowledge the great assistance receivedfromManuscript image from Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Maitland, who has kindly furnished a Drill Sergeant from the Force under his command, and has temporarily placed at my disposal, a light Field Piece, which is to be attached to, and form part of the armament of the Victoria Rifle Corps.
8. Victoria has now assumed the appearance of a military encampment; and I can justly observe that the same degree ofassiduityManuscript image assiduity and attention to the various drills now exhibited by the Volunteers, if continued, will ere long render them a highly serviceable and efficient body of citizen soldiers.
9. The only drawback to their efficiency is the want of proper arms and ammunition, which I have before stated to Your Grace I cannot furnish; but I have assured the several Corps that Her Majesty's Government fully appreciatetheirManuscript image their services, and will not fail to provide them with proper arms.
10. I have now therefore to repeat my former application for 500 Stand of Arms, and that Your Grace will cause them to be shipped for this Colony by some Early conveyance, as they are immediately wanted.
11. I would further take the liberty of suggesting whether it would not be advisable, instead oflimitingManuscript image limiting the number to 500, to send out 1000 Stand of Arms at once, as, in addition to the supply of British Columbia, where Arms will soon be wanted, the existing Corps will be continually increasing in number.
12. I would also beg Your Grace to give instructions that four light Field Pieces with their furniture, be sent at the same time, and also that the arms be selected with care, and that the best Enfield Rifles only should be sent—withaManuscript image a full supply of ammunition.
13. I have to inform Your Grace that there is not a single piece of Artillery belonging to the public in Either of the Colonies under my Government; and that neither for the defence of the Country, nor for loyal and patriotic celebrations, have I the means and appliances allowed, I believe, without exception, to all Her Majesty's other Colonial Possessions.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Sir F. Rogers
Apply to the War Office. Will His Grace endorse the Governor's application in it's full extent?
ABd 1 Oct
Duke of Newcastle
500 stand of arms are to be (or have been) sent out free of cost [including?] ammunition (5112—Vancouvers I.). The Govr now wants 500 more and 4 light Field Pieces.
FR 2/10
Recommend the loan of 500 more Rifles as lately in the case of (I think) P.E. Island.
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to Under-Secretary of State, War Office, 14 October 1861, forwarding copies of this and a subsequent despatch on the same subject (No. 57), and recommending Douglas's application for favourable consideration.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 8 August 1861, CO 305:17, no. 8772, 412. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/V61051.html.

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