Hammond to Rogers (Permanent Under-Secretary)
21 January 1861
I have laid before Lord John Russell your Letter of the 14th instant, enclosing Copies of a correspondence with the War Department, respecting the Question of detaching a Regiment from the China Expeditionary Force to Vancouver's Island.
I am to request that you will state to the Duke of Newcastle, in reply,thatManuscript image that Lord John Russell continues to be of opinion that advantage would result from replacing the detachment of Marines, now doing duty on San Juan, by a similar Detachment from a Line Regiment; but that, independently of this consideration, His Lordship cannot but think that, a Battalion might be usefully stationed in Vancouver's Island, where, and in the adjoining ColonyofManuscript image of British Columbia, we have large interests at stake, while, on the other hand, the neighbouring provinces of the United States abound in a squatter population only too ready to create disturbance, but against which, if directed towards the British Provinces, such a force might exercise a very salutary check.
I am, accordingly, to suggest, for the Duke of Newcastle's consideration,thatManuscript image that a further Letter should be addressed to the War Office, requesting that whenever another Regiment is removed from China, it should be sent to Vancouver's Island.
I am etc.
E. Hammond
Minutes by CO staff
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ABd 22/1/61
FR 23/1
See Minute annexed.
TFE 25 Jany
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The origin of this question, it must be borne in mind, was a letter from the Admiralty last October, telling us that the party of Marines at San Juan had completed their term of service abroad and ought to be relieved. This point will require a practical decision, whatever view may be adopted on the more general topics which have since been started.
The Foreign Office suggested that one of the Regiments set free from China should be stationed in Vancouver's Island. The War Office have answered that such Regiments as could be spared from China have already been removed, and that the remainder are likely to be required there for at least a year. The Foreign Office in their present letter recommend that when another of them is released from China it should go to Vancouver's Island.
No one can really know how long the force will be wanted in China; but if the War Office anticipation be realized, it would probably be far on in 1862 before a Regiment from thence could be established at Vancouver's Island.
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I would submit that the matter is needlessly complicated by bringing in the subject of China at all. Is it or is it not, advisable to station a Regiment at Vancouver's Island? This seems to me the real question. If unadvisable, there is an end of the matter; if advisable, the Regiment should be furnished from the most conveniently disposable part of the British Army, a subject of which the War Department and Commander in Chief could best judge.
There certainly would be some advantages in getting a different kind of force at Vancouver's Island. The Marines ought at all events to be released immediately. The Sappers & Miners have proved very costly, as well as a failure for the purpose for which they were intended, and their Officers, not having enough to do, are rather discontented spectators and critics of the Government. On the other hand I have accidentally heard from General Foster today that the Horse Guards are in great need of Engineers for service elsewhere.
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In case of it's being wished to withdraw the Sappers, I annex a Memo. by Mr Henry Irving which shows how far any of them were led to expect that they would have any permanent employment or settlement there.
Should the conclusion be not to send out a Regiment, it strikes me that as regards the Marines, the only available course will be to ascertain from the Admiralty whether it would be too great a deviation from the proper duties of the Corps to send out another (and in that case probably a stronger) detachment to replace the one which has been so long abroad.
For brevity's sake, I have mentioned only Vancouver's Island, but I look to the service both of that Island and of British Columbia.
TFE 25 Jany
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I presume the Secy for War will bring this matter before the Cabinet and to enable him to do so I would send copy of the F.O. letter.
N 27
Other documents included in the file
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Elliot to Under-Secretary of State, War Office, 2 February 1861, forwarding copy of the letter.