THE CRIMEAN WAR
middle passage1)." Between, and sometimes on the decks, the wounded, the sick, and the dying were crowded — men who had just undergone the amputation of limbs, men in the clutches of f ever or of f rostbite, men in the last stages of dysentery and cholera — without beds, sometimes without blankets, often hardly clothed. The one or two surgeons on board did what they could; but medical stores were lacking, and the only form of nursing available was that provided by a handful of invalid soldiers, who were usually themselves prostrate by the end of the voyage. There was no other food beside the ordinary salt rations of ship diet; and even the water was sometimes so stored that it was out of reach of the weak. For many months, the average of deaths during these voyages was 74 in the thousand; the corpses were shot out into the waters; and who shall say they were the most unfortunate? At Scutari, the landing-stage, constructed with all the perverseness of Oriental ingenuity, could only be approached with great difficulty, and, in rough weather, not at all. When it was reached, what remained of the men in the ships had first to be disembarked, and then conveyed up 3 steep slope of a quarter of a mile to the nearest of the hospitals. The most serious cases might be put upon stretchers — for there were far too few for all; the rest were carried or dragged up the hill by such convalescent soldiers as could be got together, who were not too obviously infirm for the work. At last the journey was accomplished; slowly, one by one, living or dying, the wounded were
1. the middle passage: name given in the time of the slave-trade to the voyage of the slaves across the Atlantic, during which great numbers of them died through the crowding and the neglect of all consideration for human life on board a slave-ship. The word middle refers to the beginning and end of the slave-journey being over land (in Africa and America respectively).