The Army Medical Department
And the Malta Garrison

The Malta Garrison – 1821

Malta Garrison 1821

Effective Strength Malta Garrison 25 Jan 1821
Col –
Surg Assist
Sgt Drm Rank
& File
55 2 1 2 3 80 46 1520
Returns of the Adjutant General's Office showing the Effective Strength of the Garrison including Colonial Corps, Artillery and Engineers.

In the autumn quarter (21 Sep to 20 Dec 1821), the average strength of the garrison was 2081 men. During this period, a total of 835 men were treated in the hospitals, of whom 10 died.

Ophthalmia Hospital

Valletta Hospital
Plan of the General Hospital Valletta showing the Ophthalmia Hospital, the Artillery Hospital, and the hospital for the infantry regiment at Lower St Elmo. (TNA:MPH 1/912)

Ophthalmia was attributed to excessive heat acting on a constitution accustomed to a colder clime. Other factors were involved to explain why battalions exposed to similar conditions had varying number of sick. Among these were exposure to night dew and the rays of the sun, lack of cleanliness, intemperance and drunkenness from the availability of cheap wine and spirits and low morality.

In Oct 1821, Deputy Inspector of Hospitals J. Hennen reorganised the care of ophthalmia patients. Soldiers were previously admitted to two wards of the regimental hospital located in the General Hospital under the care of Staff Assistant Surgeon James Kennedy, while women and children were treated in their barracks. Hennen relocated the regimental hospital to another part of the General Hospital and used its two wards to create a large ward of 20 beds. A room at one end of a terrace reached up 20 stairs housed 18 patients while another on the opposite end had 14 beds for women and children. The ophthalmia hospital with a total of 52 beds was under the exclusive care and supervision of J Hennen.

Most mild cases of ophthalmia were managed with leeches and cupping followed by blisters behind the ear and on the nape of the neck. Those with severe symptoms were bled up to 20 to 30 ounces (600 to 900 mls) followed by an emetic to reduce the force of the circulation.

Commissariat Department

In 1821, the Commissariat Department provided stores for both Malta and the Greek Islands. In 1824 Malta and the Ionian Islands became two separate commands. Malta had on its establishment: a Deputy Commissary General, an Assistant Commissary General, four Deputy Assistant Commissaries General, a Principal Storekeeper, a Deputy Storekeeper and an Under Storekeeper.

The four DACG had their separate duties which included the keeping of complex accounts. One was employed on the Military Chest, one on the Army Bakery, one on General Stores and the fourth on Departmental Correspondence.

The Deputy Commissary General contracted out the supply of fresh provisions. Local contractors brought live cattle from Africa or Sicily for victualling the garrison. The Commissariat issued the troops with fresh produce on six days a week and salt provisions one day a week. It did this to recycle its large reserve of salt provisions and biscuits which it kept in case of emergency. Salt provisions which had been kept longest in store were issued to the garrison to prevent them deteriorating.

The Navy and the Army had their own separate bakeries. They obtained their corn for baking bread from Government. Corn was shipped to Malta from Odessa or Taganrog in southern Russia by Government which held a monopoly on its import.

The Army Bakery gave employment to a Head Baker, a Head Miller, A Wheel and Mill Wright, 1 Porter, 2 Oveners, 3 Flour Dressers, 8 Kneaders, 2 Millers, 3 Corn Dressers, 1 stable Keeper, 1 Cooper, 6 Labourers 1 Head Carter, 12 Carters and 4 Boatman.

Baptisms 1821

  • 15 May Emily Abbott born 15 April 1821, daughter of Susan and John Abbott, servant in the family of Lt Col George Edward Raitt Deputy Assistant Commissariat General.
  • 25 May Edward Blanekley Fauquier born 21 April 1821, son of Katharine Roselia and Deputy Assistant Commissariat General Charles Fauquier. DACG C Fauquier had been on half-pay since 27 March 1815.
  • 23 Dec Jemima Susan Hay Ward born on 20 July 1821, daughter of Elizabeth and Deputy Paymaster General George Ward.