Varna, 24th August 1854.Given the war was during the 1850's when the vast majority of beer was still draught, it's surprising that there was bottled Porter in the hospitals. "Medical comfort" - what a wonderful way to describe booze.
I Have the honour to inform you that I have directed the Purveyor to put up and forward to you the medical comforts demanded in your requisitions of the 16th, 21st, and 22d instant.
It was an oversight of the Purveyor's that you did not receive the port wine which I directed him to forward along with the medicine's the other day in anticipation, as I thought of your wants.
I have sent the porter as you demanded it, but it has not been found to answer well by others who have tried it as a restorative after cholera.
I am, &c.
(Signed) J. Hall, Ins. Gen. of Hospitals.
"Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Regulations Affecting the Sanitary Condition of the Army, the Organization of Military Hospitals, and the Treatment of the Wounded, Appendix LXXIX", 1858 , page 146.
Staff Surgeon Alexander to Dr. Hall.
Camp Monastir, 22d August 1854.
As you will have seen, by the proceedings of the Board of Survey on Medical Comforts forwarded from this on the 19th instant, that the port wine had arrived, I have the honour to inform you that we have now only two bottles remaining, and will feel obliged by your desiring the requisition forwarded this day for the same to be sent out to us with as little delay as possible.
As medical officers have latterly been requiring bottled porter, and purchasing the same from the canteens at 2s. per bottle, would it not be advisable to have a supply sent out at once ?
I have accordingly desired Mr. Harrington to forward a requisition for the same, which is enclosed.
I have, &c.
(Signed) T. Alexander, Staff Surgeon, 1st Class.
P.S.—Enclosed is report of all the deaths from cholera up to 12 p.m. of the 21st instant.
(Signed) T. A.
"Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Regulations Affecting the Sanitary Condition of the Army, the Organization of Military Hospitals, and the Treatment of the Wounded, Appendix LXXIX", 1858 , page 146
Two shillings (24d) for a bottle of Porter seems awfully expensive. A pint of Porter in a London pub cost 1.5d (2d if you wanted it without added water or drugs). Nice the way he threw in the report of cholera fatalities. Giving such a specific cutoff date and time implies there were rather a lot of them.
It wasn't just the sick soldiers who were given Porter. Those looking after them got some, too.
Mr. Archer to Dr. Hanbury.
General Hospital, Balaklava, Sir, 16th March 1855.
. . . . .
I respectfully submit, that every private employed about the hospital as orderly should be furnished with a mattress, boards, and tressels. and huts and 'tents be erected on a considerable higher level than that of the hospital, in which every orderly during his night off duty may occupy a bed reserved for his own special use, and that facilities for washing be afforded, with a change of clothing; that the men be not required to sit up more frequently than every third night, and in case of extra hospital orderlies being required at night from illness or other cause, that men having been on duty during the preceding night or day be excused from such extra duty; that each man be allowed a pint of porter daily, and in lieu of salt provisions, half a pound of preserved meat with vegetables; that each orderly be allowed one hour's leave of absence daily. Hoping you will excuse me troubling you with these suggestions,
I have, &c.
(Signed) Edward Archer.
"Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Regulations Affecting the Sanitary Condition of the Army, the Organization of Military Hospitals, and the Treatment of the Wounded, Appendix LXXIX", 1858 , page 195.
The mortality rate amongst the orderlies was particularly high. I'm not sure an extra pint of Porter a day would be worth the risk.