Object #1026960 from MS-Papers-0032-0332

3 pages written 23 Jun 1871 by James Hawthorne in Auckland Region

From: Inward letters - James Hawthorne, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0332 (47 digitised items). 39 letters, memos and reports written from Napier and Auckland

A transcription/translation of this document (by ATL) appears below.

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English (ATL)


23rd. June, 1871.

Dear Sir,

For 10 years Auckland volunteers bought ammunition in small quantities at the Colonial store.

There were no restrictions, except identification of buyers, and cash payments - names of purchasers were regularly transmitted to Wellington and no irregularities ever occurred.

Last week the Inspector of Stores issued an order forbidding the sale of powder to volunteers other than Captains of Corps and only by keg contaning 700 rounds and costing £2-2.

Already Captains of Corps decline to purchase on such terms - some Captains are not wealthy and object to invest two guineas in powder which might lie long on hand. Others say possession of so much powder would subject them to domicilliary police visits.

For several days past private volunteers have called at the Colonial Store as heretofore to buy practice ammunition - some came very long distances on foot - all went away sadly disappointed.

For miles around Auckland volunteers have ceased practice for want of ammunition and volunteering which lately received such a great impetus through the generous encouragement of government is sorely discouraged by Col. Gorton's new regulation - it is generally believed that the order first emanated from the Defence Minister - and as far as I have heard it appears that Col. Gorton sanctions that impression.

He has taken it into his head that every Auckland volunteer sells or is inclined to sell Government ammunition to Hau-Haus and this I take to be the sole reason for a privilege long enjoyed being so arbitrarily withdrawn. Moreover, Col. Gorton is a gentleman of exceedingly narrow views and of a very suspicious disposition. As a proof of what is here stated, I think it right that you should know that during his late visit here Col. Gorton accused Major Tisdall to his face of writing disparaging letters about him (Col. Gorton) to the Hon. Defence Minister - in reply Major Tisdall indignantly repelled the charge. I beg most respectfully To assure you Sir that what I here tell you is simple fact without the slightest exaggeration.

It appears to be the impression of most people here who come into contact with Col. Gorton that he burns to distinguish himself as a great economiser for Government. If this is so, proofs can be multiplied to demonstrate that his views of economy are sometimes anything but profitable - for instance, 8000 towels, now in the Col. Store, Auckland, are going to auction - simply because Col. Gorton has rendered them unsaleable to the Armed Constabulary by adding 50% to a price reckoned fair to Government after liberal allowance for charges - freight from England, etc. The A. C. formerly bought towels freely at 9d. each, but notone has been sold since the 50% was added - it is supposed at the highest computation they will fetch at auction only 4d. each. It is the same with socks, combs, brushes etc., etc. - no one will now buy at the Col. Store because those articles can be purchased in town for half the prices charged by Col. Gorton.

About 3 weeks back, blasting powder ran out at the Thames. At that time there was a quantity of damaged powder in the magazine - it was considered worth, 4d. lb. Mr. Morrin, powder contractor for the goldmines at Thames offered 8d. lb. (Govt. cost price) for this damaged powder. Col. Gorton immediately demanded 9d. and firmly refused to sell for less. Mr. Morrin, highly indignant, declared that sooner than submit to extortion he would see the Gold mines stop work. Ultimately Dr. Pollen over-rode the Inspector of Stores and the gold revenue did not suffer.

I carefully submit the above facts only, after ample verification - and because it appears to me that they may perhaps prevent future mischief. Col. Gorton has never been popular with volunteers since he harshly drove some Auckland volunteers off to the front immediately on their landing at Patea after a stormy passage from Manukau, and without allowing them to take breakfast previous to a long march. I often hear the circumstance referred to, and it is not long since Col. Lyon, twitted Col. Gorton with it in the Col. Store before more than one witness. Finally, earnestly desiring to speak candidly as an unpredjudised onlooker, I am of the opinion that Col Gorton is incapable of understanding those generous sentiments uttered by the Hon. Defence Minister when speaking of our Colonial forces in 1869 - and as I saw those sentiments reported in September's Hansard of that year - doubtless discipline is very essential but I respectfully submit that the arbitrary system found necessary in the imperial army would be utterly misplaced amongst New Zealand volunteers, however much it is admired by Col. Gorton.

If have the honor tobe, Dear Sir, Your most obedient servt.,
James Hawthorne.

Part of:
Inward letters - James Hawthorne, Reference Number MS-Papers-0032-0332 (47 digitised items)
Series 1 Inward letters (English), Reference Number Series 1 Inward letters (English) (14501 digitised items)
McLean Papers, Reference Number MS-Group-1551 (30238 digitised items)

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