Surgeon James Mouat
VC (1858) KCB (1894) FRCS (Eng 1852)
14 Apr 1815 [Chatham] – 4 Jan 1899 [Kensington]
Surgeon James Mouat was the elder son of Surgeon James Mouat King's Hussars. He received his medical education at University College Hospital London and University College Hospital obtaining the MRCS in 1837 and the FRCS in 1852. He entered the Army Medical Department as an assistant surgeon in 1838.
Surgeon J Mouat served throughout in the regimental system in the 44th, 4th and 9th regiments. He was with the 6th Dragoon Guards from 15 August 1854 and on the medical staff in the Crimea where he was in medical charge of the Field Hospital of the 3rd Division until the fall of Sebastopol. He was present at the Battles of Balaclava, Inkerman and Tchernaya, and at the night attack on the Russian outposts on on 19 February 1855. He received the Crimea Medal with three clasps the Legion of Honour and was the first medical officer to be awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette 2nd June 1858).
Surgeon J Mouat also served in the New Zealand Campaign of 1860–1865; initially under General Pratt in 1860-61 when he was twice mentioned in despatches and as PMO in the field throughout 1863–1865 under Sir D Cameron. He received the thanks of the New Zealand Government for his valuable services he rendered to the colony.
14 Dec 1838 Commissioned Assistant Surgeon 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot. The death of Staff Surgeon Morrice Alexander at Chelsea on 26 Nov 1838, initiated a chain reaction, which saw Surgeon Samuel Jeyes 15th Light Dragoons, becoming Staff Surgeon vice Alexander, Surgeon John Chambers 22nd Foot moving to 15th Light Dragoons vice Jeyes, Staff Assistant Surgeon James Steele Huston being promoted Surgeon 22nd Foot vice Chambers, and Assistant Surgeon John Ferguson 44th Foot, appointed to the Staff, vice Huston, thus creating a vacancy in 44th Foot which was occupied by the commissioning of Gentleman James Mouat.
9 Aug 1839 Appointed Assistant Surgeon 4th (The King's Own Regiment), vice Assistant Surgeon Charles William Flint Hunter, who died at Bellary Bengal on 6 May 1839. The vacancy in 44th Foot was filled by Gentleman William Primrose. Primrose was amongst those killed at the Khyber Pass on 13 Jan 1842 during the withdrawal of the army from Kabul, Afghanistan.
Mouat served in India for ten years. He fell ill shortly after the regiment returned to England from India. Although the senior assistant surgeon on the army list, Mouat was passed over for promotion when a vacancy arose, as the Director General did not advance those who were unfit for duty, until they were declared fit by a Medical Board.
3 Nov 1848 Surgeon 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot.
1852 Surgeon 9th Regiment at Galway. The regiment was quartered in the centre of the crowded sea post of Galway. Mouat felt he could not perform surgical operations in the barrack hospital, as the sanitation was so bad, that the life of his patients would be jeopardised. Mouat obtained the approval of his commanding officer and the Inspector of Hospitals to rent a house for forty pounds a year. However, the Barrack Department who were responsible for providing hospital accommodation rejected the proposal.
23 Feb 1854 Arrived in Malta.
15 Aug 1854 Surgeon 6th Dragoons. Served in the Crimea with the 6th Dragoons. He was made a Commander of the Bath (CB) for his services in Turkey.
Surgeons and Veterinary Surgeons in the Dragoon Guards wore the same uniform as combatant officers except that they were to wear a cocked hat instead of a helmet. This was to be distinguished by a feather of a black cock's tail. Surgeons were also to wear a black leather morocco shoulder belt with a small case for medical instruments instead of the regimental pouch and belt.
16 Sep 1854 Left Malta for Turkey. He was in medical charge of the Field Hospital 3rd Division throughout the siege and fall of Sebastopol. He served as PMO Balaclava until the final evacuation of the Crimea on 12 June 1856. He was present at the Battles of Balaclava, Inkermann, the attack on the Tchernaya and the night reconnaissance and attack of the Russian outposts on 19 February 1845. He was specially recommended for promotion for distinguished conduct, zeal and efficiency.
26 Oct 1854 Surgeon James Mouat was the first Medical Officer to gain the Victoria Cross, when
on 26 October 1854 he voluntarily proceeded to the assistance of Lieutenant Colonel Morris 17th Lancers who was lying dangerously wounded in an exposed position after the retreat of the Light Cavalry at the Battle of Balaclava and having dressed the officer's wounds in the presence of heavy fire of the enemy. Thus, by stopping a severe haemorrhage he assisted in saving that officer's life (London Gazette 4 June 1858).
9 Feb 1855 Promoted Staff Surgeon of the 1st Class.
25 Jan–14 Dec 1856 Granted Local rank of Deputy Inspector General in Turkey. Was Principal Medical Officer at Balaclava, until the final evacuation of the Crimea on 12 June 1856.
1 Oct 1856 Placed on half pay.
16 Mar 1858 Recalled from half-pay and appointed Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, with local rank while serving in Great Britain.
1 Oct 1858 Promoted Deputy Inspector General.
1859 Served at Dublin.
1860 On duty in New South Wales.
1860–1861 Served in the war in New Zealand throughout the operations under General Pratt, and was twice mentioned in despatches
for valuable services rendered at all times and in all positions.
1863–1865 Served in New Zealand in the Maori Wars. Present in the field as Principal Medical Officers throughout the operations in Waikato, Taranaki, and Tauranga Districts, under Sir D. Cameron, and repeatedly mentioned in despatches. He received the thanks of the New Zealand Government for special and valuable services rendered to the Colony.
1863 Published On the sanitary condition of troops serving in New Zealand, AMD report volume five (1863) page 347 and The New Zealand War of 1864–65, AMD report volume seven (1865) page 473.
18 Oct 1864 Promoted Surgeon General Army Medical Department.
1866–67 On duty in Aldershot.
1867 On duty in Dublin.
4 Mar 1868 Reduced to half pay. Was granted the Good Service Pension which fell vacant on the death of Inspector General Montagu Martin Mahony.
1875 Printed but not published a pamphlet on the
Proposals for re-introduction of the regimental system in a modified form.
Mouat was a strong opponent of Sir William Muir's "Unification Scheme" in its entirety, and when the pamphlet was printed he carried with him no inconsiderable number in his own department, and almost all military commanding officers. Nevertheless, the arguments in favour of the "Unification System" as expounded in a comparative examination of the regimental and departmental systems by Surgeon-Major Evatt MD AMD carried the day.
Sir William Muir became a strong advocate of unification from his visit to the American armies on the Potomac, and from what he saw there of the military medical arrangements. Surgeon–General Mouat appreciated the strong discontent which the introduction of the system in 1873 caused in the medical service, due in no small degree, to the sudden high handed manner in which medical officers were severed from their regiments.
In his pamphlet, Mouat discussed how the undoubted advantages of general and station hospitals may be retained, without altogether foregoing the advantages of the regimental system. His plan was not to remove medical officers from regiments in peace, but simply to increase on the outbreak of war the medical staff and the medical officers of regiments to a war footing, giving the Principal Medical Officer full power to move medical officers wherever their services were required. The combined medical officers of regiments and corps constituting a brigade or division would, on the outbreak of war, fall in and arrange themselves to form the staff of divisional and field hospitals. Such a system would give medical officers all the advantages of regimental life during peace, and only entail temporary severance in war. Mouat advocated the posting of young medical officers to regiments so that they may learn, not only routine duties, but habits and discipline, and intended to man Station Hospitals by regimental medical officers.1
Mouat argued for an amalgamation of the regimental system with the Army Hospital Corps. He favoured the retention of at least one medical officer permanently attached to each regiment, and a certain proportion of field equipment, so that each regiment could act independently when detached on field service or on board ship. The equipment was to consist of field panniers, A and B canteens, bell tents and stretchers with a certain number of orderlies of the Army Hospital Corps.
Mouat criticised Surgeon General Sir W Muir's administration of the Army Medical Department, stating that Muir had
induced the War Office to abolish the regimental system on the score of economy, whereas the result was to so completely deplete the Department of executive medical officers as to render it totally inefficient, and to drive all the capable experienced administrative officers out of the service, while his boasted economy added something like £25,000 a year to the Army estimates, and I fail to see in what way the service has been improved, either way for peace or war by it.2
23 Apr 1870 Recalled from half-pay.
1870–72 Served in Bombay.
1872–76 On duty in Portsmouth.
28 Apr 1876 Retired to half-pay, having completed 34 years service on full pay.
Feb 1888 Appointed Honorary Surgeon to the Queen, vice Deputy Inspector–General E. Bradford, deceased.
1894 Became a Knight Commander of the Bath.
4 Jan 1899 Died at his residence, 108 Palace Gate Gardens, Kensington London, aged 83 years. He left a widow, Dame Adela Rose Ellen, daughter of the Rev Nicholas Tindal vicar of Sandhurst Gloucestershire.
- Drew R., 1968. Entry No: 4530. Medical Officers in the British Army 1660 – 1960. Volume 1: 1660 – 1898. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.
- Biographical details of Medical Officers of the British Army on full pay (1826–1840).
- TNA:WO 25/3902, Records of Service – Officers of the Medical Department (1790–1847).
- 1Naval and Military Medical Services Br Med J (1889), 808 (Published 6 April 1889).
- 2Mouat J, 1882. The Army Medical Department and its critic. Br Med J (1882), 919 (Published 4 November 1882).
- Naval and Military Medical Services Br Med J (1888), 326 (Published 11 February 1888).
- Woodward G C., The first medical man to win the Victoria Cross. University College Magazine 188–189.