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poison gases is even of an earlier origin than and try his plan. If it succeeds, it will, as you this article claims.
say, save a great number of English and French The first recorded effort to overcome
lives; if it fails in his hands, we shall be exempt enemy by the generation of poisonous and
from blame, and if we come in for a small share
of the ridicule, we can bear it, and the greater suffocating gases seems to have been in the
part will fall on him. You had best, therefore, wars of the Athenians and Spartans (431-404
make arrangement with him without delay, and B.C.) when, besieging the cities of Platea and
with as much secrecy as the nature of things will Belium, the Spartans saturated wood with admit of.' pitch and sulphur and burned it under the Inasmuch as Lord Dundonald's plans have alwalls of these cities in the hope of choking ready been deliberately published by the two perthe defenders and rendering the assault less sons above named, there can no harm in now redifficult. Similar uses of poisonous gases are
publishing them. They will be found in the first recorded during the Middle Ages. In effect
volume of “The Panmure Papers” (pp. 340–342)
and are as follows: they were like our modern stink balls, but were projected by squirts or in bottles after
(ENCLOSURE) the manner of a hand grenade. The legend is
"BRIEF PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS told of Prester John (about the eleventh
“It was observed when viewing the Sulphur century), that he stuffed copper figures with
Kilns, in July, 1811, that the fumes which escaped explosives and combustible materials which,
in the rude process of extracting the material, emitted from the mouths and nostrils of the though first elevated by heat, soon fell to the effigies, played great havoc.
ground, destroying all vegetation, and endanger. The idea referred to by the writer in the
ing animal life to a great distance, as it was asCandid is from the pen of the English Lord
serted that an ordinance existed prohibiting perDundonald, which appeared in the publication
sons from sleeping within the distance of three
miles during the melting season. entitled “The Panmure Papers." This is an
“An application of these facts was immediately extremely dull record of an extremely dull
made to Military and Naval purposes, and after person, only rendered interesting by the one
mature consideration, a Memorial was presented portion, concerned with the use of poison on the subject to His Royal Highness the Prince gases, which, it is said, “should never have Regent on the 12th of April, 1812, who was been published at all."
graciously pleased to lay it before a Commission, The great Admiral Lord Dundonald-perhaps
consisting of Lord Keith, Lord Exmouth and Genthe ablest sea captain ever known, not even ex
eral and Colonel Congreve (afterwards Sir Wilcluding Lord Nelson—was also a man of wide ob
liam), by whom a favorable report having been servation, and no mean chemist. He had been
given, His Royal Highness was pleased to order struck in 1811 by the deadly character of the
that secrecy should be maintained by all parties. fumes of sulphur in Sicily; and, when the Crimean
“(Signed) DUNDONALD War was being waged, he communicated to the
"7th August, 1855" English government, then presided over by Lord
"MEMORANDUM Palmerston, a plan for the reduction of Sebastopol by sulphur fumes. The plan was imparted to Lord
“Materials required for the expulsion of the Panmure and Lord Palmerston, and the way in
Russians from Sebastopol: Experimental trials which it was received is so illustrative of the
have shown that about five parts of coke effectutrickery and treachery of the politician that it is
ally vaporize one part of sulphur. Mixtures for worth while to quote Lord Palmerston's private
land service, where weight is of importance, may, communication upon it to Lord Panmure:
however, probably be suggested by Professor
Faraday, as to operations on shore I have paid LORD PALMERSTON TO LORD PANMURE
little attention. Four or five hundred tons of sul. “HOUSE OF COMMONS, 7th August, 1855 phur and two thousand tons of coke would be “I agree with you that if Dundonald will go sufficient. out himself to superintend and direct the execu- “Besides these materials, it would be necessary tion of his scheme, we ought to accept his offer to have, say, as much bituminous coal, and a couple
Lord Dundonald himself was certainly no party to their publication.
Thus it will be seen that the plan which England had rejected as being too horrible for use in war. fare has been, through the deplorable conduct of those who somehow obtained and published it, stolen from us by the Germans, and first used against us. That having been done, we cannot choose but retaliate in kind; for when such methods of warfare are used against us we must, for our own protection and that of our soldiers, our selves use means similar and as efficacious. Such means lie ready to our hand in Admiral Lord Dundonald's plans; and it is to be presumed that they are now worked out and perhaps improved upon by the modern chemists so as to enable us effectually to give back to the Germans as good a gas as they send us.
One of the early, if not the earliest suggestion as to the use of poison gas in shell is found in an article of " Greek Fire,” by B. W. Richardson.1
of thousand barrels of gas or other tar, for the purpose of masking fortifications to be attacked, or others that flank the assailing positions.
"A quantity of dry firewood, chips, shavings, straw, hay or other such combustible materiais, would also be requisite quickly to kindle the fires, which ought to be kept in readiness for the first favourable and steady breeze.
"DUNDONALD "7th August, 1855."
“Note.—The objects to be accomplished being specially stated the responsibility of their accomplishment ought to rest on those who direct their execution.
“Suppose that the Malakoff and Redan are the objects to be assailed it might be judicious merely to obscure the Redan (by the smoke of coal and tar kindled in 'The Quarries'), so that it could not annoy the Mamelon, where the sulphur fire would be placed to expel the garrison from the Malakoff, which ought to have all the cannon that can be turned towards its ramparts employed in overthrowing its undefended ramparts.
"There is no doubt but that the fumes will envelop all the defenses from the Malakoff to the Barracks, and even to the line of battleship, the Twelve Apostles, at anchor in the harbour.
"The two outer batteries, on each side of the Port, ought to be smoked, sulphured, and blown down by explosion vessels, and their destruction completed by a few ships of war anchored under cover of the smoke.''
That was Lord Dundonald's plan in 1855, improperly published in 1908, and by the Germans, who thus learnt it, ruthlessly put into practise in 1915.
Lord Dundonald's memoranda, together with further elucidatory notes, were submitted by the English government of that day to a committee and subsequently to another committee in which Lord Playfair took leading part. These committees, with Lord Dundonald's plans fully and in detail before them, both reported that the plans were perfectly feasible; that the effects expected from them would undoubtedly be produced; but that those effects were so horrible that no honorable combatant could use the means required to produce them. The committee therefore recommended that the scheme should not be adopted; that Lord Dundonald's account of it should be de. stroyed. How the records were obtained and preserved by those who so improperly published them in 1908 we do not know. Presumably they were found among Lord Panmure's papers. Admiral
I feel it a duty to state openly and boldly, that if science were to be allowed her full swing, if society would really allow that “all is fair in war," war might be banished at once from the earth as a game which neither subject nor king dare play at. Globes that could distribute liquid fire could distribute also lethal agents, within the breath of which no man, however puissant, could stand and live. From the summit of Primrose Hill, a few hundred engineers, properly prepared, could render Regent's Park, in an incredibly short space of time, utterly uninhabitable; or could make an army of men, that should even fill that space, fall with their arms in their hands, prostrate and helpless as the host of Sennacherib.
The question is, shall these things be? I do not see that humanity should revolt, for would it not be better to destroy a host in Regent's Park by making the men fall as in a mystical sleep, than to let down on them another host to break their bones, tear their limbs asunder and gouge out their entrails with three-cornered pikes; leaving a vast majority undead, and writhing for hours in torments of the damned? I conceive, for one, that science would be blessed in spreading her wings on the blast, and breathing into the face of a desperate horde of men prolonged sleep-for it need not necessarily be a death-which they could not
i Popular Science Review, 3, 176, 1864.
grapple with, and which would yield them up with It is expressly forbidden (a), to employ poisons their implements of murder to an enemy that in or poisonous weapons. the immensity of its power could afford to be
Before the war suffocating cartridges were merciful as Heaven. The question is, shall these things be! I think
shot from the cartridge-throwing rifle of 26 they must be. By what compact can they be
mm. These cartridges were charged with stopped? It were improbable that any congress of ethyl bromoacetate, a slightly suffocating and nations could agree on any code regulating means non-toxic lachrymator. They were intended of destruction: but if it did, it were useless; for for attack on the flanking works of permanent science becomes more powerful as she concentrates fortifications, flanking casements or caponiers, her forces in the hands of units, so that a nation into which they tried to make these cartridges could only act, by the absolute and individual
penetrate by the narrow slits of the loopholes. assent of each of her representatives. Assume,
The men who were serving the machine guns then, that France shall lay war to England, and by superior force of men should place immense hosts,
or the cannon of the flanking works would well armed, on English soil. Is it probable that
have been bothered by the vapor from the the units would rest in peace and allow sheer brute
ethyl bromoacetate, and the assailant would force to win its way to empire? Or put English
have profited by their disturbance to get past troops on French soil, and reverse the question the obstacle presented by the fortification.
To conclude. War has, at this moment, reached, The employment of these devices, not entailin its details, such an extravagance of horror and
ing death, did not contravene the Hague concruelty, that it can not be made worse by any art,
ventions, and can only be made more merciful by being
The only memorable operations in the course rendered more terribly energetic. Who that had to
of which these devices were used before the die from a blow would not rather place his head under Nasmyth's hammer, than submit it to a
war was the attack on the Bonnet gang at drummer-boy armed with a ferrule?
In the war of the trenches there has been The Army and Navy Register of May 29,
an abuse in the employment of these suffo1915, reports that
cating cartridges; an abuse because the small among the recommendations forwarded to the
quantity of liquid that they contain, about 19 Board of Ordnance and Fortifications there may
cubic centimeters, can produce no effect on a be found many suggestions in favor of the
terrain without cover. asphyxiation process, mostly by the employment
In connection with the suggested use of of gases contained in bombs to be thrown within the lines of the foe, with varying effects from sulphur dioxide by Lord Dundonald and the peaceful slumber to instant death. One ingenious proposed use of poisonous gases in shell, the person suggested a bomb laden to its full capacity following description of a charcoal respirator with snuff, which should be so evenly and thor- by Dr. J. Stanhouse, communicated by Dr. oughly distributed that the enemy would be con
George Wilson is of interest. vulsed with sneezing, and in this period of par
Dr. Wilson commenced by stating, that having oxysm it would be possible to creep up on him and
read with much interest the account of Dr. Stencapture him in the throes of the convulsion.
house's researches on the deodorizing and disinThat the use of poison gases was not new in
fecting properties of charcoal, and the application the minds of military men follows logically of these to the construction of a new and imfrom the fact that at the Hague Conference portant kind of respirator, he had requested the in 1899, the governments represented—and all accomplished chemist to send one of his instruthe warring powers of the present great con
ments for exhibition to the society, which he had flict were represented-pledged themselves not kindly done. Two of the instruments were now to use any projectiles whose only object was to
on the table, differing, however, so slightly in congive out suffocating or poisonous gases. At
struction, that it would be sufficient to exp the Congress of 1907, article 23 of the rules 2 Trans. Royal Scottish Soc. Arts, 4, Appendix adopted for war on land states:
O, 198, 1854.
the arrangement of one of them. Externally, it evolved. The deodorizing powers of charcoal are had the appearance of a small fencing-mask of thus established in a way they never have been wire gauze,. covering the face from the chin up- before; but at the same time it is shown that the wards to the bridge of the nose, but leaving the addition of charcoal to sewage refuse lessens its eyes and forehead free. It consisted, essentially, agricultural value contemporaneously with the of two plates of wire gauze, separated from each lessening of odor. From these observations, which other by a space of about one fourth or have been fully verified, it appears that by strew. eighth of an inch, so as to form a small cage filled ing charcoal coarsely powdered to the extent of a with small fragments of charcoal. The frame of few inches, over church-yards, or by placing it in. the cage was of copper, but the edges were made side the coffins of the dead, the escape of noisome of soft lead, and were lined with velvet, so as to and poisonous exhalations may be totally preadmit of their being made to fit the cheeks vented. The charcoal respirator embodies this tightly and inclose the mouth and nostrils. By important discovery. It is certain that many of this arrangement, no air could enter the lungs the miasma, malaria and infectious matters which without passing through the wire gauze and tra- propagate disease in the human subjects, enter versing the charcoal. An aperture is provided the body by the lungs, and impregnating the with a screw or sliding valve for the removal and blood there, are carried with it throughout the replenishment of the contents of the cage, which entire body, which they thus poison. These consist of the siftings or riddlings of the lighter miasma are either gases and vapors or bodies kinds of wood charcoal. The apparatus is at- which, like fine light dust, are readily carried tached to the face by an elastic band passing over through the air; moreover, they are readily dethe crown of the head and strings tying behind, stroyed by oxidizing agents, which convert them as in the case of the ordinary respirator. The im- into harmless, or at least non-poisonous subportant agent in this instrument is the charcoal, stances, such as water, carbonic acid and nitrogen. which has so remarkable a power of absorbing There is every reason, therefore, for believing that and destroying irritating and otherwise irrespira- charcoal will oxidize and destroy such miasma as ble and poisonous gases or vapors that, armed with effectually as it does sulphuretted hydrogen or the respirator, spirits of hartshorn, sulphuretted hydrosulphuret of ammonia, and thus prevent hydrogen, hydrosulphuret of ammonia and chlo- their reaching and poisoning the blood. The inrine may be breathed through it with impunity, tention accordingly is that those who are exposed though but slightly diluted with air. This result, to noxious vapors, or compelled to breathe infirst obtained by Dr. Stenhouse, has been verified fected atmospheres, shall wear the charcoal reby those who have repeated the trial, among spirator, with a view to arrest and destroy the others by Dr. Wilson, who has tried the vapors volatile poisons contained in these. Some of the named above on himself and four of his pupils, non-obvious applications of the respirator were who have breathed them with impunity. The ex- then referred to: planation of this remarkable property of charcoal 1. Certain of the large chemical manufacturers is two-fold. It has long been known to possess the in London are now supplying their workmen with power of condensing into its pores gases and the charcoal respirators as a protection against vapors, so that if freshly prepared and exposed the more irritating vapors to which they are ex. to these, it absorbs and retains them. But it has posed. scarcely been suspected till recently, when Dr. 2. Many deaths have occurred among those emStenhouse pointed out the fact, that if charcoal ployed to explore the large drains and sewers of be allowed to absorb simultaneously such gases as London from exposure to sulphuretted hydrogen, sulphuretted hydrogen and air, the oxygen of this etc. It may be asserted with confidence that fatal absorbed and condensed air rapidly oxidizes and results from exposure to the drainage gases will destroys the accompanying gas. So marked is this cease as soon as the respirator is brought into use. action, that if dead animals be imbedded in a 3. In districts such as the Campagna of Rome, layer of charcoal a few inches deep, instead of where malaria prevails and to travel during night being prevented from decaying as it has hitherto or to sleep in which is certainly followed by an been supposed that they would be by the sup- attack of dangerous and often fatal ague, the posed antiseptic powers of the charcoal, they are wearing of the respirator even for a few hours found by Dr. Stenhouse to decay much faster, may be expected to render the marsh poison harmwhilst at the same time, no offensive effluvia are less.
4. Those, who as clergymen, physicians or legal though there was demand enough, it was diffiadvisers, have to attend the sick-beds of sufferers
cult for a business to succeed in this country from infectious disorders, may, on occasion, avail
where labor is paid at a higher schedule than themselves of the protection afforded by Dr. Sten
abroad. Consequently, many lines of supplies house's instrument during their intercourse with
which were used in considerable quantities the sick. 5. The longing for a short and decisive war has
were almost exclusively imported from foreign led to the invention of "a suffocating bomb
countries. Of course, it is true that these which on bursting, spreads far and wide supplies, from a financial standpoint, were of an irrespirable or poisonous vapor; one of the very little importance as far as the country liquids proposed for the shell is the strongest am- at large is concerned, because the values conmonia, and against this it is believed that the cerned amount to only a few million dollars charcoal respirator may defend our soldiers. As
annually. likely to serve this end, it is at present before the
But it must be recognized that we learn to Board of Ordnance.
make things by actual experience, and if one Dr. Wilson stated, in conclusion, that Dr. Sten
produces scientific apparatus and produces it house had no interest but a scientific one in the
in an efficient and satisfactory manner, he is success of the respirators. He had declined to patent them, and desired only to apply his re
able consequently to produce a related thing markable discoveries to the abatement of disease for which there might be a critical need. For and death. Charcoal had long been used in filters instance: when the war broke out and the imto render poisonous water wholesome; it was now portations from the Central Powers ceased, to be employed to filter poisonous air.
this country found itself almost entirely withCLARENCE J. WEST
out optical glass. The optical glass used in CHEMICAL WARFARE SERVICE
scientific institutions had been imported and everything went along quite normally in peace
times but with the outbreak of the war DUTY FREE SUPPLIES
optical glass became a vital necessity, for one The interest in duty-free material has
might say there is no instrument of defense changed to some extent since 1914 because of
which is not connected in some way with the impossibility since that time of import- optical glass, ranging all the way from teleing materials from the Central Powers, the
scopes and field-glasses to eyeglasses. The former source of supply. During the war
country that can not produce such things some American firms have turned elsewhere, satisfactorily and cheaply in an emergency is because our European Allies were not in a
certainly greatly handicapped in providing position to meet the demand.
defense. We all know of the consternation When the duty-free law was passed, pro
caused in this country in April, 1917, as the vision was made for the importation without
seriousness of the situation dawned upon the tariff of materials for educational institutions
government and the public, when it was disand those engaged in scientific research. The
covered that no optical glass, broadly speakpurpose of this law, of course, was to give
ing, was available for war work, the supply of these institutions the advantage of anything
foreign glass having been exhausted. Perhaps that was made in foreign countries and thus
in a minor way this same state of affairs ocAmerican scientists and the country as curred in almost every other industry of sciwhole were enabled to receive the benefit of
entific nature in this country. One need only foreign endeavor as far as possible. This was consider the difficulty in securing such ina means of promoting knowledge and in the struments as polariscopes and microscopes to early days of scientific production was cer- realize the scarcity that is bound to exist tainly of great benefit to this country, but it where any one country is dependent upon analso had ill effects as by-products. Scientific other for absolutely necessary supplies. materials were used in large quantities and Therefore it is certainly true that the na