The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1804

Malta Garrison

On 1 Sep 1804, the Malta garrison consisted of a total of 5,915 officers and men. There were: 246 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 385 Non Commissioned Officers, 4,759 Rank and File fit for duty. 57 Commissioned and Warrant Officers were absent and 468 Rank and File were sick.

In Oct 1804, a severe epidemic of Yellow Fever struck Gibraltar, which in four months decimated a quarter of the garrison. Every port of the Mediterranean enforced quarantine against all the other ports, which caused a temporary rise in the cost of consumables.

Fever, however, remained the predominant cause of high morbidity and mortality in the Malta Garrison. On 26 Nov, Gen Villettes reported to Earl Camden that: the fever which more or less prevails here every year during the hot months was this year rather more fatal than usual.

Royal Warrant 22 May 1804

The Royal Warrant of 22 May 1804 swept away the ranks of Field Inspector, Assistant Inspector, Inspector General, Deputy Inspector General and substituted them with two new ranks of Inspector of Hospitals, and Deputy Inspector of Hospitals.

The Royal Warrant also created two separate classes of Hospital Mates: a commissioned class for General Service, called Commissioned Hospital Mates, and a warrant class or Warrant Hospital Mates for Temporary Service.

The first commissions did not appear in the London Gazette until 25 July 1809. The last officers to be gazetted to this rank received their commission on 20 April 1813, as on 8 June 1813 the rank changed to Hospital Assistant to the Forces.

Hospital Mates for General Service were appointed by commission at 6s 5d a day net while employed at home, and 7s 5d a day net when employed on foreign stations, with half pay on reduction of 2s daily. Widows of Commissioned Hospital Mates who had served abroad, and who died while on full-pay received a pension of £15 a year. Their children and the widows and children of those who died on half pay were eligible to allowances from the compassionate fund according to the rules established for the distribution of that bounty.

Hospital Mates for Temporary and Local Service did not receive a commission and were not entitled to any of the other above mentioned advantages. They were encouraged by the Army Medical Department to qualify themselves for admission as commissioned officers.

The Royal Warrant established new rates of pay for regimental and staff medical officers, and removed the disparity which had existed between the pay of the medical staff officers and the regimental surgeons. The Royal Warrant of 1796 had fixed the daily rates of pay at 5s for a surgeon's mate and 7s 6d for the regimental surgeon. The terms of the new Royal Warrant were:

1. The pay of regimental surgeons of regular infantry was to be the same as for a cavalry surgeons, that is 11s 4d a day. In the infantry as well as cavalry, the surgeon was required to keep a horse at his own expense to enable him to better perform his regimental duties.

2. Every regimental surgeon after 7 years service, or 10 years' service with the army in a medical capacity on full pay, had his pay augmented to 14s 1d a day, but was not entitled to any additional half pay when reduced.

3. Every regimental surgeon after 20 years' service with the army on full pay had his pay augmented to 18s 10d a day, and was allowed to retire on half pay of 6s a day. However, if the cause of his retirement was ill health contracted in the service, as certified by the Army Medical Department, the part of his half-pay on retiring after the above length of service was increased to 10s a day. The widows of regimental surgeons permitted to retire after 20 years service on full-pay were not precluded from the pension on account of the retirement of their husbands.

4. Every regimental surgeon after 30 years service on full pay had the unqualified right of retiring on half pay at the rate of 15s a day.

5. Assistant Surgeons of Dragoon Guards, Foot Guards and Infantry of the line, irrespective as to whether they had served at home or abroad, received the full pay of 7s 5d a day, with half-pay when reduced at 3s a day. The assistant surgeon of Dragoon Guards and Dragoons while on full pay received a further allowance of 1s a day for a horse.

6. Apothecaries and surgeons attached to recruiting districts in Great Britain received a full-pay of 10s a day, with half-pay of 5s a day.

7. The full-pay on appointment of an Inspector of Hospitals was £2 a day, with half pay of £1 a day. After 20 years service on full-pay a Deputy Inspector of Hospitals was entitled to a full-pay of 30 shillings a day and half-pay of 15s a day.

6. The full-pay on appointment of a Deputy Inspector of Hospitals was 25s a day with half-pay of 12s 5d. After 20 years service on full-pay, a Deputy Inspector of Hospitals was entitled to a full-pay of 30 s a day and half-pay of 15s a day.

Dress Regulations

Infantry Surgeon 1798 by E. V. Howell Nov 1927.
(Courtesy AMS archives).

In 1797, Horse Guards directed Regimental Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons to wear a plain scarlet coat with the uniform buttons of their respective regiments but without epaulettes and lapels, a plain round red cuff and collar, white waist coat and breeches and a plain cocked hat with the regimental button.

On 29 March 1803, Hospital Staff were to wear a plain scarlet coat lapelled, with yellow buttons with the words Hospital Staff round a crown in the center, a white waist coat and breeches, military boots, plain cocked hat and a sword and knot as worn by the infantry. There were no feathers or epaulettes.

Regt Surgeon
Regimental Surgeon 1815 by E. V. Howell Nov 1927.
(Courtesy AMS archives).

A cocked hat with black feather was introduced after 11 April 1804, but the black feather was abolished in 1822.

A General Order dated Horse Guards 19 Feb 1810, ordered surgeons and assistant surgeons not to wear epaulettes. In addition they were to substitute a waist belt instead of the shoulder belt and not to wear a sash. The wearing of epaulettes by surgeons and assistant surgeons, of a similar pattern to the ones worn by captain and subaltern officers of the corps to which they belong, was allowed by General Order No 245 dated Horse Guards 10 May 1813.

Medical Staff Officers were only allowed to wear epaulettes after 16 Feb 1830.

Staff Surgeon
Staff Surgeon 1866 by E. V. Howell Nov 1927.
(Courtesy AMS archives).

Dress Regulations for the Staff of the Army Medical Department as issued in General Orders Horse Guards dated 11 Apr 1804 directed them to wear a scarlet coat, single breasted, with black velvet collar and cuffs, slashed sleeves and skirts and yellow hospital staff buttons. Head dress consisted of a cocked hat with black feather, black button and black silk loop. They wore blue pantaloons and half boots and a black waist sword belt, regulation sword, sword knot as approved for officers of infantry.

Inspectors of Hospitals wore two epaulettes embroidered with gold on black velvet, with two gold embroidered button holes on the collar, two buttons on each cuff, and two plain on the sleeves.

Physicians and Deputy Inspectors had only one embroidered button-hole on the collar, one on each cuff and two plain on the sleeves.

Apothecaries wore one epaulette on the right shoulder, one button on the collar, one on the black cuff and one on the sleeves.

Purveyors and Deputy Purveyors wore a similar uniform as that of the Physician and Apothecary with the exception of silver epaulettes and buttons for gold.

Staff Surgeons wore one epaulette on the right shoulder embroidered with gold on black velvet, one button on the collar, one on the cuffs, and two on the sleeves.

Hospital Mates wore an epaulette on the right shoulder with one button on the collar and two buttons on the sleeves.