The stomach at war
The 1860s wars were battles of economies as well as of weapons.
Keeping soldiers fed and adequately supplied involved huge expenditure. Troops fighting for the Crown were supported by the Imperial Treasury and resources of the colonial government while Maori were sustaining livelihoods, crops and stock at the same time as campaigning.
Over the 2015/16 summer Angus Crowe worked on a Summer Scholarship investigating the scale and economic impact of provisioning the thousands of British soldiers stationed in New Zealand.
Each man was entitled to 1 pound of bread (around half a kilo), 1 pound of fresh meat and a quarter pint of rum per day. Supplying these rations meant big business. Auckland’s economy boomed with huge spikes in the quantities of supplies landed and traded.
Cattle, wheat and rum came in from New South Wales and Victoria, and further afield. Local merchants vied for lucrative contracts from the Commissariat; bakers and butchers had their hands full. Rivalry and rumour as to who got the best price was rife. And in the field, men complained often about the quality and quantity of food they received.
Getting food supplies from Auckland wharves to inland redoubts and camps was also a major undertaking.
In the StoryMaps that follow Angus has provided an overview of ‘the stomach at war’. ‘The role of the Commissariat during the Waikato Campaign, 1863 – 1864’ contains links to full statistical tables of some of the economic patterns in evidence in wartime New Zealand of the 1860s.
When the majority of British troops departed in 1866 Auckland fell into sharp economic recession.
Tēnā koutou, welcome to the blog for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Settler – our research project on garrison and empire in the nineteenth century.
Here we’ll be sharing discoveries from the archives, stories from our networks, and news of what is going on in the project.
The summer months have seen work on 4 strands of the project. We have gone ahead in leaps and bounds with the wonderful work of 3 VUW Summer Scholars and a summer research assistant. More on these strands in future posts, but in short: Fiona Cliff has been making connections between men who served in Crimea, India, and in New Zealand; Samantha Hunt has been busily indexing and analysing the New Plymouth Garrison Order book for January to October 1864 at Puke Ariki; John McLellan has been transcribing the 1863-1864 diary of Ensign Spencer Perceval T. Nicholl and developing it into a digital narrative at the Alexander Turnbull Library; and Angus Crowe has been investigating bread, meat and rum and the economic impact of the war in the early 1860s.
Rebecca spent much of February transcribing WO100/18 files – War Office files recording who received the New Zealand Medal. With just a few regiments left to go we’re almost in possession of a list of the 12,000 or so men who served with the imperial regiments in the 1860s.
Charlotte worked across all aspects of the project over the summer. She spoke at the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists at the end of January, and with Samantha Hunt at Puke Ariki in New Plymouth at the end of February. Two of her articles appeared in the latest issues of the Journal of New Zealand Literature: ‘The First World War and the Making of Colonial Memory’ (33:2), and Law & History. Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Law & History Society: ‘People of the Land, Voting Citizens in the Nation, Subjects of the Crown’ (2015: 2).
Charlotte and Rebecca presented papers at the New Zealand Historical Association Conference at the University of Canterbury in early December 2015 in a session ‘Rethinking New Zealand in the ‘redcoat’ empire.
A visitor via the Peninsula War
Dr Huw Davies, (Defence Studies, Kings College London) dropped by for a visit on 7 and 8 February. A scholar of, among other things, the Wellington our Wellington is named after, Huw had been in Sydney and Canberra for research and the ‘New Directions in War and History’ conference. He made a detour to see us in Wellington, arriving at our offices via the Peninsula War (or, at least, Talavera, Clifton, and Salamanca on the Wellington Cable Car).
His research focuses on 19th and 20th century warfare and in particular on military thinking, innovation, knowledge transfer and networks, so our several hours of discussion on various topics passed by all too quickly. Huw contributes to ‘Defence-in-Depth’, the research blog of the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London, and you can see his post about his trip Down Under here.