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"His Royal Highness is pleased to observe, that the behaviour of the Fifty-fourth Regiment during the course of this distressing occurrence, was most praiseworthy, and by its result must render manifest to all the advantages of subordination and strict obedience. to orders, under the most alarming and dangerous circumstances in which soldiers can be placed.
"By order of his Royal Highness,
"The General Commanding-in-chief,
Another instance recently occurred of fire at sea namely, the burning of the "Eastern Monarch" at Spithead, on the 2nd of June, 1859, which vessel was conveying invalids home from India. Brevet Lieut.Colonel Allan's report is as follows: :
"Portsmouth, June 3rd, 1859.
SIR,-I have the honour to report to you, for the information of his Royal Highness the Commanderin-chief, that the ship 'Eastern Monarch,' on board of which were embarked the detachments of invalids from Bengal, under my command, was this morning totally destroyed by fire, which fire can only be attributed to a spontaneous combustion of saltpetre.*
"In consequence of a scarcity of provisions the ship put into Spithead about one o'clock. A little after two A.M., when everybody was in bed, a heavy explosion took place under the after portion of the
* The Court of Inquiry found that the fire was not caused by spontaneous combustion, but from the carelessness of the steward.
troop deck, blowing up that part of both decks immediately above it, destroying the whole of the cuddy, which it filled with a suffocating volume of smoke.
"The troops were immediately ordered to parade -the pumps were manned-the fire-hose brought to bear, and every other step that I considered necessary and feasible taken to subdue the fire, which broke out in fierce flames almost immediately after.
"Seeing there was no chance of saving the ship, I, in conjunction with Captain Morriss, the commander of the vessel, at once took steps to save life. The boats were loosed, and the ladies, women, and children, as far as possible, passed down into them. The rapidity with which the flames spread, forced us very shortly to the forecastle. A number of man-of-war's boats assembled beneath the bows, and every effort was made to get the men into them. In this, I am happy to state, I was completely successful, owing very much to the very gallant and able assistance I received from two ballast lighters, as well as from the excellent conduct of the men themselves. This frightful scene was enacted in less than one hour of the night.
"I regret to state that one man, one woman, and five children have perished; the former by drowning, the latter by the explosion. Several have received very severe contusions and injuries, from which a few may probably die.
"It now only remains for me to beg you to bring to the notice of his Royal Highness the Commander-inchief, the very excellent behaviour of the troops, and the great assistance I received from every individual officer under my command; so cool, collected, and energetic were they all, that I feel it is only due to them
to bring their names respectively before his Royal Highness.
"They are Captain Molesworth, Twenty-seventh Regiment (my second in command); Captain Ussher, Eighty-seventh Regiment; Captain Munnings, Twentyfourth Regiment; Captain Stopford, Fifty-second Regiment; Lieutenant the Hon. G. Clive, Fifty-second Regiment; Lieutenant Gresson, Twenty-seventh Regiment; Quartermaster Nevell, Seventieth Regiment ; and Assistant-Surgeon Kidd, Twenty-seventh Regiment; this latter officer, the moment the fire broke out, got his sick on to the forecastle and they were all passed out.
"Lieutenant-Colonel Muter, of the Sixtieth Rifles, a private passenger, rendered me the greatest assistance, as did Lieutenant Wish, of the Bombay Artillery; and I am deeply indebted to Captain Morriss and the whole of his officers for their spirited exertions and gallant conduct on this very trying occasion. Everything has been totally destroyed, no person landing with anything but what they rose from their beds in. "I have, etc.
"ANDREW TRINBULL ALLAN,
"Lieut.-Col. 81st Regt.
Commanding Detachments Bengal Invalids. Major-Gen. Hon. Sir J. Y. Scarlett, K.C.B., etc., etc., Portsmouth."
This report drew forth the following communication from head-quarters.
"Horse Guards, 13th June, 1859.
"SIR,-Having had the honour to lay before the General Commanding-in-chief your letter of the 3rd instant (addressed to the Quartermaster-General),
with its enclosure from Lieutenant-Colonel Allan, of the Eighty-first Regiment, reporting the destruction, by fire, at Spithead, on the morning of the 3rd instant, of the ship Eastern Monarch,' having on board a detachment of invalids from Bengal; I have it in command to request that you will be pleased to convey to Lieutenant-Colonel Allan the gratification felt by his Royal Highness at the exemplary conduct of himself
and of the officers and men under his command on that trying occasion.
'To their discipline and coolness in danger may be attributed the preservation of the lives of those on board, and it is impossible to give too much praise to such examples of soldierlike resolution and steadiness.
"You will be pleased to furnish a copy of this letter to Lieutenant-Colonel Allan, and to publish the subject of it in your district orders.
"I have, etc.,
"G. A. WETHERALL, Adjt.-Gen. "Major-Gen. the Hon. Sir J. Y. Scarlett, K.C.B., "Commanding South-western District, "Portsmouth.”
The Times devoted the accompanying eloquent article on the subject, in which is forcibly illustrated the lesson that has been attempted in these selections; its perusal must ever serve to stimulate all (if such urging be necessary) never to forfeit the noble character acquired by the military in similar hours of trial. It appeared in the edition published on Monday, June 6th, 1859:
"The burning of the Eastern Monarch' at Spithead, on the morning of Thursday last, will add yet
another chapter to the naval history of our country. What English seamen can do in action we know; but, heroic as their achievements have been when called upon to maintain their country's honour amid the deadly turmoil of a naval engagement, it is not, perhaps, even then that they display the full extent of their patient courage. The sea has mischances in store which are more trying to human fortitude than the crashing of the shot or the glance of the cutlass. Worse than any weapon wielded by human arm— worse than any missile propelled by human skill, is the deadly animosity of the great sea itself; worse again than this is it when fire and water are struggling for the mastery, and men stand by, all but helpless, the victims of this or that element which may conquer in the strife.
"Of all forms of destruction to which human beings are exposed that of a fire at sea is the worst. The torture is prolonged, the resistance all but hopeless, the alternative of death by fire or death by water more dreadful than if no choice were offered. The escape is from death to death, but still the choice is allowed. Within the last few years it has been our painful duty to lay many stories of this kind before our readers, and now another must be added to the list. Fortunately the 'Eastern Monarch' had completed her voyage to the British shores, and had anchored temporarily at Spithead when the calamity occurred. If it was to be, the misfortune could scarcely have happened at a better spot, for at Spithead prompt and effective assistance was forthcoming. All the assistance the British Navy could have rendered to the burning ship would, however, have been but of