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Title: Forty-one years in India: from subaltern to commander-in-chief

Author: Earl Frederick Sleigh Roberts Roberts

Release date: August 14, 2005 [eBook #16528]
Most recently updated: December 12, 2020

Language: English

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First Edition (before publication), two volumes, demy octavo, 36s. January 2, 1897.
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[plate 1]

Field-Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar


a Photograph by Messrs. Bourne and Shepherd.



Subaltern to Commander-in-Chief







Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen
All rights reserved









[page vii]


I would never have ventured to intrude upon the public with my personal reminiscences had I not been urged to do so by friends who, being interested themselves in what I was able to tell them of India as my father knew it, and as I found it and left it, persuaded me that my experiences of the many and various aspects under which I have known the wonderful land of my adoption and its interesting peoples would be useful to my countrymen. It was thought that I might thus contribute towards a more intimate knowledge of the glorious heritage our forefathers have bequeathed to us, than the greater number of them possess, and towards helping them to understand the characteristics and requirements of the numerous and widely different races by whom India is inhabited.

It is difficult for people who know nothing of Natives to understand and appreciate the value they set on cherished customs, peculiar idiosyncrasies, and fixed prejudices, all of which must be carefully studied by those who are placed in the position of their Rulers, if the suzerain Power is to keep their respect and gain their gratitude and affection.

The Natives of India are particularly observant of character, and intelligent in gauging the capabilities of those who govern them; and it is because the English Government is trusted that a mere handful of Englishmen are able to direct the administration of a country with nearly three hundred millions of inhabitants, differing in race, religion, and manners of life. Throughout all the changes which India has [page viii] undergone, political and social, during the present century, this feeling has been maintained, and it will last so long as the services are filled by honourable men who sympathize with the Natives, respect their prejudices, and do not interfere unnecessarily with their habits and customs.

My father and I spent between us nearly ninety years in India. The most wonderful of the many changes that took place during that time may be said to date from the Mutiny. I have endeavoured in the following pages to explain the causes which, I believe, brought about that terrible event—an event which for a while produced a much-to-be-regretted feeling of racial antagonism. Happily, this feeling did not last long; even when things looked blackest for us, it was softened by acts of kindness shown to Europeans in distress, and by the knowledge that, but for the assistance afforded by the Natives themselves, the restoration of order, and the suppression of a fierce military insurrection, would have been a far more arduous task. Delhi could not have been taken without Sikhs and Gurkhas; Lucknow could not have been defended without the Hindustani soldiers who so nobly responded to Sir Henry Lawrence's call; and nothing that Sir John Lawrence might have done could have prevented our losing, for a time, the whole of the country north of Calcutta, had not the men of the Punjab and the Derajat* remained true to our cause.

[Note *: Tracts beyond the Indus.]

It has been suggested that all outward signs of the Mutiny should be obliterated, that the monument on the Ridge at Delhi should be levelled, and the picturesque Residency at Lucknow allowed to fall into decay. This view does not commend itself to me. These relics of that tremendous struggle are memorials of heroic services performed by Her Majesty's soldiers, Native as well as British; and by the civilians who shared the duties and dangers of the army. They are valuable as reminders that we must never again allow ourselves to be lulled into fancied security; and above all, they stand as warnings that we should never do anything that can possibly be interpreted by[page ix] the Natives into disregard for their various forms of religion.

The Mutiny was not an unmitigated evil, for to it we owe the consolidation of our power in India, as it hastened on the construction of the roads, railways, and telegraphs, so wisely and thoughtfully planned by the Marquis of Dalhousie, and which have done more than anything to increase the prosperity of the people and preserve order throughout the country. It was the Mutiny which brought Lord Canning into closer communication with the Princes of India, and paved the way for Lord Lytton's brilliant conception of the Imperial Assemblage—a great political success which laid the foundation of that feeling of confidence which now, happily, exists between the Ruling Chiefs and the Queen-Empress. And it was the Mutiny which compelled us to reorganize our Indian Army and make it the admirable fighting machine it now is.

In the account I have given of our relations with Afghanistan and the border tribes, I have endeavoured to bring before my readers the change of our position in India that has been the inevitable consequence of the propinquity upon our North-West Frontier of a first-class European Power. The change has come about so gradually, and has been so repeatedly pronounced to be chimerical by authorities in whom the people of Great Britain had every reason to feel confidence, that until recently it had attracted little public attention, and even now a great majority of my countrymen may scarcely have realized the probability of England and Russia ever being near enough to each other in Asia to come into actual conflict. I impute no blame to the Russians for their advance towards India. The force of circumstances—the inevitable result of the contact of civilization with barbarism—impelled them to cross the Jaxartes and extend their territories to the Khanates of Turkestan and the banks of the Oxus, just as the same uncontrollable force carried us across the Sutlej and extended our territories to the valley of the Indus. The object I have at heart is to make my fellow-subjects recognize that, under these altered conditions, Great Britain now occupies in Asia the position of a Continental Power, and that her[page x] interests in that part of the globe must be protected by Continental means of defence.

The few who have carefully and steadily watched the course of events, entertained no doubt from the first as to the soundness of these views; and their aim has always been, as mine is now, not to sound an alarm, but to give a warning, and to show the danger of shutting our eyes to plain facts and their probable consequences.

Whatever may be the future course of events, I have no fear of the result if we are only true to ourselves and to India. Thinking Natives thoroughly understand the situation; they believe that the time must come when the territories of Great Britain and Russia in their part of Asia will be separated only by a common boundary line, and they would consider that we were wanting in the most essential attributes of Rulers if we did not take all possible precautions, and make every possible preparation to meet such an eventuality.

I send out this book in the earnest hope that the friendly anticipations of those who advised me to write it may not be seriously disappointed; and that those who care to read a plain, unvarnished tale of Indian life and adventure, will bear in mind that the writer is a soldier, not a man of letters, and will therefore forgive all faults of style or language.


30th September, 1896.

[page xi]

[plate 2]

Kashmir Gate at Delhi.




Voyage to India—Life in Calcutta—A destructive cyclone—Home-sickness


Bengal Horse Artillery—Incidents of the journey—New Friends


With my father at Peshawar—Peshawar in 1852—Excitements of a frontier station—A flogging parade—Mackeson's assassination—The Jowaki expedition—A strange dream—A typical frontier fight


A trip to Khagan—The Vale of Kashmir—With the Horse Artillery—My first visit to Simla—Life at Peshawar—A staff appointment—The bump of locality


Lord Dalhousie's Afghan policy—Treaty with Dost Mahomed—War with Persia—The advantage of the Amir's friendship—John Nicholson—'A pillar of strength on the frontier'


First tidings of the mutiny—Prompt action at Peshawar—A bold policy—The Movable Column—An annoying occurrence—I leave Peshawar

[page xii] CHAPTER VII

First symptoms of disaffection—Outbreak at Berhampur—Mangal Pandy—Court-Martial at Meerut—Mutiny at Meerut—The work of destruction—Want of energy—Hugh Gough's experiences—Nothing could arrest the mutiny


General Anson—The news reaches Simla—Anson loses no time—A long list of troubles—John Lawrence —The Phulkian family—Death of General Anson


John Lawrence's wise measures—Disarmament at Peshawar—Salutary effect in the valley


Neville Chamberlain's presence of mind—The command of the Column—Robert Montgomery—Disarmament at Mian Mir—A Drum-Head Court-Martial—Swift retribution


Ferozepore—Crawford Chamberlain at Multan—Chamberlain's masterly conduct—Nicholson succeeds Neville Chamberlain—Irresolution at Jullundur—General Mehtab Sing—Nicholson's soldierly instincts—More disarmaments


George Ricketts at Ludhiana—Pushing on to Delhi—In the camp before Delhi


The first victory—Enthusiasm amongst the troops—Barnard's success at Badli-ki-Serai—The Flagstaff Tower—Position on the Ridge—Quintin Battye—The gallant little Gurkhas—Proposed assault—The besiegers besieged—Hard fighting—The centenary of Plassy


A new appointment


Reinforcements begin to arrive—An assault again proposed—The attack on Alipur—Death of General Barnard—General Reed assumes command—Two V.C.'s—Treachery in camp—Fighting close up to the city walls—Sufferings of the sick and wounded—General Reed's health fails

[page xiii] CHAPTER XVI

Archdale Wilson assumes command—Enemy baffled in the Sabzi Mandi—Efforts to exterminate the Feringhis—A letter from General Havelock—News of Henry Lawrence's death—Arrival of the Movable Column—The 61st Foot at Najafgarh


Wilson's difficulties—Nicholson's resolve—Arrangements for the assault—Construction of breaching batteries—Nicholson expresses his satisfaction—Orders for the assault issued—Composition of the attacking columns


Delhi stormed—The scene at the Kashmir Gate—Bold front by Artillery and Cavalry—Nicholson wounded—The last I saw of Nicholson—Wilson wavers—Holding on to the walls of Delhi


Capture of the Burn bastion—The 60th Rifles storm the palace—Hodson captures the King of Delhi—Nicholson's death—Gallantry of the troops—Praise from Lord Canning


Necessity for further action—Departure from Delhi—Action at Bulandshahr—Lieutenant Home's death—Knights-errant—Fight at Aligarh—Appeals from Agra—Collapse of the administration—Taken by surprise—The fight at Agra—An exciting chase—The Taj Mahal


Infatuation of the authorities at Agra—A series of Mishaps—Result of indecision and incapacity


Advantage of being a good horseman—News from Lucknow—Cawnpore—Heart-rending scenes—Start for Lucknow—An exciting Adventure—Arrival of Sir Colin Campbell—Plans for the advance


Sir Colin's preparations—The Alambagh—The Dilkusha and Martinière—Mayne's death—A tall-talk story—Ammunition required—A night march—The advance on Lucknow—Sir Colin wounded—The attack on the Sikandarbagh—Heroic deeds—The 4th Punjab Infantry


Henry Norman—The Shah Najaf—The mess-house—Planting the flag—A memorable meeting—The Residency

[page xiv] CHAPTER XXV

Sir Colin's wise decision—Robert Napier—Impressions on visiting the Residency—Henry Lawrence—Lawrence as Statesman and Ruler—Lawrence's friendliness for Natives—A hazardous duty


Death of General Havelock—Appeals from Cawnpore—General Windham—The passage of the Ganges


The fight at Cawnpore—Unexpected visitors—A long chase—Unjur Tiwari—Bithur—Windham at Cawnpore


The Fight at Khudaganj—A mêlée—Oudh or Rohilkand?


Mianganj—Curious effect of a mirage—The Dilkusha revisited—Passage of the Gumti—Capture of the Chakar Kothi—Capture of the iron bridge—Hodson mortally wounded—Outram's soldierly instinct—A lost opportunity—Sam Browne—Start for England—Death of Sir William Peel


What brought about the Mutiny?—Religious fears of the people—The land question—The annexation of Oudh—Fulfilment of Malcolm's prophecy—The Delhi royal family—The Nana Sahib—The Native army—Greased cartridges—Limited number of British troops—Objection to foreign service—Excessive age of the British officers


Discontent of the Natives—Successful administrators—Paternal despotism—Money-lenders and the Press—Faddists—Cardinal points


Home again—Back in India—Allahabad and Cawnpore—The Viceroy's camp—State entry into Lucknow—The Talukdars of Oudh—Loyalty of the Talukdars—Cawnpore and Fatehgarh—The Agra Durbar


Delhi under a different aspect—Lord Clyde—Umritsar and Lahore—The Lahore Durbar—Simla—Life at Simla


The Staff Corps—With the Viceroy's camp again—The marble rocks—Lady Canning's death—Pig-sticking at Jamu—Lord Canning—Another cold-weather march—Gwalior and Jhansi—Departmental promotion


The Umbeyla expedition—The Akhund of Swat—The 'Eagle's Nest' and 'Crag piquet'—The death of Lord Elgin—Loyalty of our Pathan soldiers—Bunerwals show signs of submission—The conical hill—Umbeyla in flames—Bunerwals agree to our terms—Malka destroyed


A voyage round the Cape—Cholera camps—The Abyssinian expedition—Landed at Zula


Sir Robert Napier to command—Defective transport—King Theodore commits suicide—First A.Q.M.G.


Afzal Khan ousts Sher Ali—Sher Ali regains the Amirship—Foresight of Sir Henry Rawlinson—The Umballa Durbar


The Lushais—The Lushai expedition—Defective transport again—Practice versus theory—A severe march—Lushais foiled by Gurkhas—A successful turning movement—Murder of Lord Mayo


Lord Napier's care for the soldier—Negotiations with Sher Ali renewed—Sher Ali's demands


A trip in the Himalayas—The famine in Behar—The Prince of Wales in India—Farewell to Lord Napier


Lord Lytton becomes Viceroy—Difficulties with Sher Ali—Imperial assemblage at Delhi—Reception of the Ruling Chiefs—Queen proclaimed Empress of India—Political importance of the assemblage—Sher Ali proclaims a 'Jahad'—A journey under difficulties


Object of the first Afghan war—Excitement caused by Russia's advances

[page xvi] CHAPTER XLIV

Effect of the Berlin Treaty at Kabul—Sher Ali decides against England—A meeting of portentous moment—Preparations for war—Letter from Sher Ali


Shortcomings of my column—Attitude of the Border tribes


The Kuram valley—Conflicting news of the enemy—An apparently impregnable position—Spingawi route decided on—Disposition of the force—A night attack—Advantages of a night attack—Devotion of my orderlies—Threatening the enemy's rear—The Peiwar Kotal


Alikhel—Treachery of the tribesmen—Transport difficulties—Sher Ali looks to Russia for aid—Khost—An attack on our camp—An unsuccessful experiment—An unpleasant incident—Punjab Chiefs' Contingent


Sher Ali's death—Premature negotiations—The treaty of Gandamak—Making friends with the tribesmen—Gloomy forebodings—Good-bye to Cavagnari


Massacre of the Embassy—The Kabul Field Force—Lord Lytton's foresightedness—Start for Kabul—Letter to the Amir—Proclamation to the people of Kabul—Yakub Khan's agents—Reasons for remaining at Alikhel


Hector Macdonald and Sher Mahomed—Yakub Khan—A Proclamation and an Order—The maliks of Logar—Attack on the Shutargardan—Reconnoitring roads leading to Kabul


The Afghan position—The fight at Charasia—Highlanders, Gurkhas, and Punjabis—Defeat of the Afghans—Kabul in sight—Deh-i-Mazang gorge—The enemy give us the slip


Guiding instructions—Visit to the Bala Hissar—Yakub Khan abdicates—The Proclamation—Administrative measures—Explosions in the Bala Hissar

[page xvii] CHAPTER LIII

Afghans afraid to befriend us—Kabul Russianized—Yakub Khan's abdication accepted—State treasury taken over


The amnesty Proclamation—Strength of the Kabul Field Force—Yakub Khan despatched to India


Political situation at Kabul—Serious trouble ahead—Macpherson attacks the Kohistanis—Combined movements—The uncertainty of war—The fight in the Chardeh valley—Forced to retire—Padre Adams earns the V.C.—Macpherson's column arrives—The captured guns recovered—Melancholy reflections


Attack on the Takht-i-Shah—City people join the tribesmen—Increasing numbers of the enemy—Loss of the conical hill—Captain Vousden's gallantry—The retirement to Sherpur


Sherpur—Defence of Sherpur—Arrest of Daud Shah—Rumours of an assault—Attack and counter-attack—Communication with India re-opened—Sherpur made safe


Two important questions—A Ruler required—News of Abdur Rahman Khan—Abdur Rahman in Afghan-Turkestan—Overtures made to Abdur Rahman


Jenkins attacked near Charasia—Sir Donald Stewart reaches Kabul—Difficulties with Abdur Rahman—Abdur Rahman proclaimed Amir


Affairs at Kandahar—The Maiwand disaster—Relief from Kabul suggested—A force ordered from Kabul—Preparations for the march—The Kabul-Kandahar Field Force—Commissariat and Transport


The order of marching—Ghazni and Kelat-i-Ghilzai—Food required daily for the force—A letter from General Phayre—Kandahar—Reconnoitring the enemy's position—A turning movement

[page xviii] CHAPTER LXII

Commencement of the fight—72nd Highlanders and 2nd Sikhs—92nd Highlanders and 2nd Gurkhas—Ayub Khan's camp—Difficulties about supplies—Parting with the troops—A pleasing memory


Reception in England—A fruitless journey—Andaman Isles and Burma—The Madras Army—Measures for improving the Madras Army—Memories of Madras—An allegory


Disturbing action of Russia—Abdur Rahman Khan
—The Rawal Pindi Durbar
—Unmistakable loyalty of the Natives


The Burma expedition—The Camp of Exercise at Delhi—Defence of the North-West Frontier—Quetta and Peshawar—Communications versus fortifications—Sir George Chesney


Nursing for the soldier—Pacification of Burma considered—Measures recommended—The Buddhist priesthood—The Regimental Institute—The Army Temperance Association


Defence and Mobilization Committees—The Transport Department—Utilization of Native States' armies—Marquis of Lansdowne becomes Viceroy—Rajputana and Kashmir—Musketry instruction—Artillery and Cavalry training


Extension of command—Efficiency of the Native Army—Concessions to the Native Army—Officering of the Native Army—The Hunza-Naga campaign—Visit to Nepal—A Nepalese entertainment—Proposed mission to the Amir—A last tour—Farewell entertainments—Last days in India



[page xix]

[plate 3] Piewar Kotal.





(From a Photograph by Bourne and Shepherd, Simla, engraved upon wood by W. Cheshire)


Over List of Contents

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[Page 1]



Forty years ago the departure of a cadet for India was a much more1852 serious affair than it is at present. Under the regulations then in force, leave, except on medical certificate, could only be obtained once during the whole of an officer's service, and ten years had to be spent in India before that leave could be taken. Small wonder, then, that I felt as if I were bidding England farewell for ever when, on the 20th February, 1852, I set sail from Southampton with Calcutta for my destination. Steamers in those days ran to and from India but once a month, and the fleet employed was only capable of transporting some 2,400 passengers in the course of a year. This does not include the Cape route; but even taking that into consideration, I should doubt whether there were then as many travellers to India in a year as there are now in a fortnight at the busy season.

My ship was the Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamer Ripon, commanded by Captain Moresby, an ex-officer of the Indian Navy, in which he had earned distinction by his survey of the Red Sea. A few Addiscombe friends were on board, leaving England under the same depressing circumstances as myself, and what with wind and weather, and the thought that at the best we were bidding farewell to home and relations for ten long years, we were anything but a cheerful party for the first few days of the voyage. Youth and high spirits had, however, re-asserted themselves long before Alexandria, which place we reached without incident beyond the customary halts for coaling at Gibraltar and Malta. At Alexandria we bade adieu to Captain Moresby, who had been most kind and attentive, and whose graphic accounts of the difficulties he had had to overcome whilst mastering the navigation of the Red Sea served to while away many a tedious hour.

On landing at Alexandria, we were hurried on board a large mast-less canal boat, shaped like a Nile dahabeah. In this we were towed[Page 2] up the Mahmoudieh canal for ten hours, until we arrived at Atfieh, on the Nile; thence we proceeded by steamer, reaching Cairo in about sixteen hours. Here we put up at Shepherd's Hotel for a couple of days, which were most enjoyable, especially to those of the party who, like myself, saw an eastern city and its picturesque and curious bazaars for the first time. From Cairo the route lay across the desert for ninety miles, the road being merely a cutting in the sand, quite undistinguishable at night. The journey was performed in a conveyance closely resembling a bathing-machine, which accommodated six people, and was drawn by four mules. My five fellow-travellers were all cadets, only one of whom (Colonel John Stewart, of Ardvorlich, Perthshire) is now alive. The transit took some eighteen hours, with an occasional halt for refreshments. Our baggage was carried on camels, as were the mails, cargo, and even the coal for the Red Sea steamers.

On arrival at Suez we found awaiting us the Oriental, commanded by Captain Powell. A number of people met us there who had left England a month before we did; but their steamer having broken down, they had now to be accommodated on board ours. We were thus very inconveniently crowded until we arrived at Aden, where several of the passengers left us for Bombay. We were not, however, much inclined to complain, as some of our new associates proved themselves decided acquisitions. Amongst them was Mr. (afterwards Sir Barnes) Peacock, an immense favourite with all on board, and more particularly with us lads. He was full of fun, and although then forty-seven years old, and on his way to Calcutta to join the Governor-General's Council, he took part in our amusements as if he were of the same age as ourselves. His career in India was brilliant, and on the expiration of his term of office as member of Council he was made Chief Justice of Bengal. Another of the passengers was Colonel (afterwards Sir John Bloomfield) Gough, who died not long ago in Ireland, and was then on his way to take up his appointment as Quartermaster-General of Queen's troops. He had served in the 3rd Light Dragoons and on the staff of his cousin, Lord Gough, during the Sutlej and Punjab campaigns, and was naturally an object of the deepest veneration to all the youngsters on board.

At Madras we stopped to land passengers, and I took this opportunity of going on shore to see some old Addiscombe friends, most of whom were greatly excited at the prospect of a war in Burma. The transports were then actually lying in the Madras roads, and a few days later this portion of the expedition started for Rangoon.

At last, on the 1st April, we reached Calcutta, and I had to say good-bye to the friends I had made during the six weeks' voyage, most of whom I was never to meet again.

Life in Calcutta On landing, I received a letter from my father, who commanded the Lahore division, informing me that the proprietor of Spence's Hotel[Page 3] had been instructed to receive me, and that I had better put up there until I reported myself at the Head-Quarters of the Bengal Artillery at Dum-Dum. This was chilling news, for I was the only one of our party who had to go to a hotel on landing. The Infantry cadets had either been taken charge of by the Town Major, who provided them with quarters in Fort William, or had gone to stay with friends, and the only other Artilleryman (Stewart) went direct to Dum-Dum, where he had a brother, also a gunner, who, poor follow, was murdered with his young wife five years later by the mutineers at Gwalior. I was still more depressed later on by finding myself at dinner tête-à-tête with a first-class specimen of the results of an Indian climate. He belonged to my own regiment, and was going home on medical certificate, but did not look as if he could ever reach England. He gave me the not too pleasing news that by staying in that dreary hotel, instead of proceeding direct to Dum-Dum, I had lost a day's service and pay, so I took care to join early the following morning.

A few years before, Dum-Dum had been a large military station, but the annexation of the Punjab, and the necessity for maintaining a considerable force in northern India, had greatly reduced the garrison. Even the small force that remained had embarked for Burma before my arrival, so that, instead of a large, cheery mess party, to which I had been looking forward, I sat down to dinner with only one other subaltern.

No time was lost in appointing me to a Native Field Battery, and I was put through the usual laboratory course as a commencement to my duties. The life was dull in the extreme, the only variety being an occasional week in Fort William, where my sole duty was to superintend the firing of salutes. Nor was there much in my surroundings to compensate for the prosaic nature of my work. Fort William was not then what it has since become—one of the healthiest stations in India. Quite the contrary. The men were crowded into small badly-ventilated buildings, and the sanitary arrangements were as deplorable as the state of the water supply. The only efficient scavengers were the huge birds of prey called adjutants, and so great was the dependence placed upon the exertions of these unclean creatures, that the young cadets were warned that any injury done to them would be treated as gross misconduct. The inevitable result of this state of affairs was endemic sickness, and a death-rate of over ten per cent. per annum.1

Calcutta outside the Fort was but a dreary place to fall back upon.[Page 4] It was wretchedly lighted by smoky oil-lamps set at very rare intervals. The slow and cumbrous palankin was the ordinary means of conveyance, and, as far as I was concerned, the vaunted hospitality of the Anglo-Indian was conspicuous by its absence.

I must confess I was disappointed at being left so completely to myself, especially by the senior military officers, many of whom were personally known to my father, who had, I was aware, written to some of them on my behalf. Under these circumstances, I think it is hardly to be wondered at that I became terribly home-sick, and convinced that I could never be happy in India. Worst of all, the prospects of promotion seemed absolutely hopeless; I was a supernumerary Second Lieutenant, and nearly every officer in the list of the Bengal Artillery had served over fifteen years as a subaltern. This stagnation extended to every branch of the Indian Army.

A destructive cyclone There were singularly few incidents to enliven this unpromising stage of my career. I do, however, remember one rather notable experience which came to me at that time, in the form of a bad cyclone. I was dining out on the night in question. Gradually the wind grew higher and higher, and it became evident that we were in for a storm of no ordinary kind. Consequently, I left my friend's house early. A Native servant, carrying a lantern, accompanied me to light me on my way. At an angle of the road a sudden gust of wind extinguished the light. The servant, who, like most Natives, was quite at home in the dark, walked on, believing that I was following in his wake. I shouted to him as loudly as I could, but the uproar was so terrific that he could not hear a word, and there was nothing for it but to try and make my own way home. The darkness was profound. As I was walking carefully along, I suddenly came in contact with an object, which a timely flash of lightning showed me was a column, standing in exactly the opposite direction from my own house. I could now locate myself correctly, and the lightning becoming every moment more vivid, I was enabled to grope my way by slow degrees to the mess, where I expected to find someone to show me my way home, but the servants, who knew from experience the probable effects of a cyclone, had already closed the outside Venetian shutters and barred all the doors. I could just see them through the cracks engaged in making everything fast. In vain I banged at the door and called at the top of my voice—they heard nothing. Reluctantly I became convinced that there was no alternative but to leave my shelter and face the rapidly increasing storm once more. My bungalow was not more than half a mile away, but it took me an age to accomplish this short distance, as I was only able to move a few steps at a time whenever[Page 5] the lightning showed me the way. It was necessary to be careful, as the road was raised, with a deep ditch on either side; several trees had already been blown down, and lay across it, and huge branches were being driven through the air like thistle-down. I found extreme difficulty in keeping my feet, especially at the cross-roads, where I was more than once all but blown over. At last I reached my house, but even then my struggles were not quite at an end. It was a very long time before I could gain admittance. The servant who had been carrying the lantern had arrived, and, missing me, imagined that I must have returned to the house at which I had dined. The men with whom I chummed, thinking it unlikely that I should make a second attempt to return home, had carefully fastened all the doors, momentarily expecting the roof of the house to be blown off. I had to continue hammering and shouting for a long time before they heard and admitted me, thankful to be comparatively safe inside a house.

By morning the worst of the storm was over, but not before great damage had been done. The Native bazaar was completely wrecked, looking as if it had suffered a furious bombardment, and great havoc had been made amongst the European houses, not a single verandah or outside shutter being left in the station. As I walked to the mess, I found the road almost impassable from fallen trees; and dead birds, chiefly crows and kites, were so numerous that they had to be carried off in cartloads. How I had made my way to my bungalow without accident the night before was difficult to imagine. Even the column against which I had stumbled was levelled by the fury of the blast. This column had been raised a few years before to the memory of the officers and men of the 1st Troop, 1st Brigade, Bengal Horse Artillery, who were killed in the disastrous retreat from Kabul in 1841. It was afterwards rebuilt.

Dum-Dum in ruins was even more dreary than before the cyclone, and I felt as if I could not possibly continue to live there much longer. Accordingly I wrote to my father, begging him to try and get me sent to Burma; but he replied that he hoped soon to get command of the Peshawar division, and that he would then like me to join him. Thus, though my desire to quit Dum-Dum was not to be immediately gratified, I was buoyed up by the hope that a definite limit had now been placed to my service in that, to me, uninteresting part of India, and my restlessness and discontent disappeared as if by magic.

Home-sickness In time of peace, as in war, or during a cholera epidemic, a soldier's moral condition is infinitely more important than his physical surroundings, and it is in this respect, I think, that the subaltern of the present day has an advantage over the youngster of forty years ago. The life of a young officer during his first few months of exile, before he has fallen into the ways of his new life and made friends for himself, can never be very happy; but in these days he is encouraged by the feeling[Page 6] that, however distasteful, it need not necessarily last very long; and he can look forward to a rapid and easy return to England and friends at no very distant period. At the time I am writing of he could not but feel completely cut off from all that had hitherto formed his chief interests in life—his family and his friends—for ten years is an eternity to the young, and the feeling of loneliness and home-sickness was apt to become almost insupportable.

The climate added its depressing influence; there was no going to the hills then, and as the weary months dragged on, the young stranger became more and more dispirited and hopeless. Such was my case. I had only been four months in India, but it seemed like four years. My joy, therefore, was unbounded when at last my marching orders arrived. Indeed, the idea that I was about to proceed to that grand field of soldierly activity, the North-West Frontier, and there join my father, almost reconciled me to the disappointment of losing my chance of field service in Burma. My arrangements were soon made, and early in August I bade a glad good-bye to Dum-Dum.


When I went to India the mode of travelling was almost as primitive1852 as it had been a hundred, and probably five hundred, years before. Private individuals for the most part used palankins, while officers, regiments, and drafts were usually sent up country by the river route as far as Cawnpore. It was necessarily a slow mode of progression—how slow may be imagined from the fact that it took me nearly three months to get from Dum-Dum to Peshawar, a distance now traversed with the greatest ease and comfort in as many days. As far as Benares I travelled in a barge towed by a steamer—a performance which took the best part of a month to accomplish. From Benares to Allahabad it was a pleasant change to get upon wheels, a horse-dâk having been recently established between these two places. At Allahabad I was most kindly received by Mr. Lowther, the Commissioner, an old friend of my father's, in whose house I experienced for the first time that profuse hospitality for which Anglo-Indians are proverbial. I was much surprised and amused by the circumstance of my host smoking a hookah even at meals, for he was one of the few Englishmen who still indulged in that luxury, as it was then considered. The sole duty of one servant, called the hookah-bardar, was to prepare the pipe for his master, and to have it ready at all times.

My next resting-place was Cawnpore, my birthplace, where I remained a few days. The Cawnpore division was at that time commanded by an officer of the name of Palmer, who had only recently[Page 7] attained the rank of Brigadier-General, though he could not have been less than sixty-eight years of age, being of the same standing as my father.

Bengal Horse Artillery From Cawnpore I went to Meerut, and there came across, for the first time, the far-famed Bengal Horse Artillery, and made the acquaintance of a set of officers who more than realized my expectations regarding the wearers of the much-coveted jacket, association with whom created in me a fixed resolve to leave no stone unturned in the endeavour to become a horse gunner. Like the Cavalry and Infantry of the East India Company's service, the Artillery suffered somewhat from the employment of many of its best officers on the staff and in civil appointments; the officers selected were not seconded or replaced in their regiments. This was the case in a less degree, no doubt, in the Horse Artillery than in the other branches, for its esprit was great, and officers were proud to belong to this corps d'élite. It certainly was a splendid service; the men were the pick of those recruited by the East India Company, they were of magnificent physique, and their uniform was singularly handsome. The jacket was much the same as that now worn by the Royal Horse Artillery, but instead of the busby they had a brass helmet covered in front with leopard skin, surmounted by a long red plume which drooped over the back like that of a French Cuirassier. This, with white buckskin breeches and long boots, completed a uniform which was one of the most picturesque and effective I have ever seen on a parade-ground.

The metalled highway ended at Meerut, and I had to perform the remainder of my journey to Peshawar, a distance of 600 miles, in a palankin, or doolie.

Incidents of the Journey This manner of travelling was tedious in the extreme. Starting after dinner, the victim was carried throughout the night by eight men, divided into reliefs of four. The whole of the eight were changed at stages averaging from ten to twelve miles apart. The baggage was also conveyed by coolies, who kept up an incessant chatter, and the procession was lighted on its way by a torch-bearer, whose torch consisted of bits of rag tied round the end of a stick, upon which he continually poured the most malodorous of oils. If the palankin-bearers were very good, they shuffled along at the rate of about three miles an hour, and if there were no delays, forty or forty-five miles could be accomplished before it became necessary to seek shelter from the sun in one of the dâk-bungalows, or rest-houses, erected by Government at convenient intervals along all the principal routes. In these bungalows a bath could be obtained, and sorely it was needed after a journey of thirteen or fourteen hours at a level of only a few inches above an exceedingly dusty road. As to food, the khansamah, like 'mine host' in the old country, declared himself at the outset prepared to provide everything the heart of man could desire; when, however, the traveller[Page 8] was safely cornered for the rest of the day, the menu invariably dwindled down to the elementary and universal 'sudden death,' which meant a wretchedly thin chicken, caught, decapitated, grilled, and served up within twenty minutes of the meal being ordered. At dinner a variety was made by the chicken being curried, accompanied by an unlimited supply of rice and chutney.

I was glad to be able to break the monotony of this long journey by a visit to a half-sister of mine, who was then living at the hill-station of Mussoorie. The change to the delightful freshness of a Himalayan climate after the Turkish-bath-like atmosphere of the plains in September was most grateful, and I thoroughly enjoyed the few days I spent in the midst of the lovely mountain scenery.

My next station was Umballa. There I fell in with two other troops of Horse Artillery, and became more than ever enamoured with the idea of belonging to so splendid a service. From Umballa it was a two nights' journey to Ludhiana, where I rested for the day, and there met a cousin in the Survey Department, who had been suddenly ordered to Lahore, so we agreed to travel together.

The next halting-place was Jullundur. To make a change, we hired a buggy at this place, in which to drive the first stage, sending our palankins on ahead; when we overtook them, we found, to our surprise, that their number had increased to six. We were preparing for a start, when it struck us that we ought to make some inquiries about the additional four, which, from the luggage lying about, we assumed to be occupied, but which appeared to be stranded for want of bearers to carry them on. The doors were carefully closed, and it was some time before we could get an answer to our offers of assistance. Eventually a lady looked out, and told us that she and a friend, each accompanied by two children and an ayah,1 were on their way to Lahore; that the bearers who had brought them so far had run away, and that they were absolutely in despair as to how they were to proceed. It turned out that the bearers, who had been engaged to carry the ladies on the second stage towards Lahore, found it more amusing to attend the ceremony of the installation of the Raja of Kaparthala, then going on, than to fulfil their engagement. After discussing the situation, the ladies were persuaded to get out of their palankins and into our buggy. We divided the baggage and six doolies between our sixteen bearers, and started off, my cousin, the ayahs, and I on foot. It was then 10 p.m. We hoped relays of bearers for the whole party would be forthcoming at the next stage, but we were doomed to disappointment. Our reliefs were present, but none for the ladies. We succeeded, however, in inducing our original bearers to come on a further stage, thus arranging for the carriage of the ayahs, while we two men trudged on beside the buggy for another ten or twelve miles.[Page 9] It was a heavy, sandy road, and three stages were about as much as the horse could manage.

New Friends Soon after daybreak next morning we reached the Bias river. Crossing by a bridge of boats, we found on the other side a small one-roomed house with a verandah running round it, built for the use of the European overseer in charge of the road. On matters being explained, this man agreed to turn out. The ladies and children were put inside, and my cousin and I spent the day in the verandah; in the evening, with the assistance of the overseer, we were able to get a sufficient number of bearers to carry us all on to Mian Mir without further adventure. In the course of conversation we found that one of the ladies was the wife of Lieutenant Donald Stewart,2 of the 9th Bengal Infantry, and that she and her friend were returning to join their respective husbands after spending the summer months at Simla. This meeting was the beginning of a close friendship with Sir Donald and Lady Stewart, which has lasted to the present day.

At Mian Mir (the military cantonment of Lahore) I stayed a few days with another half-sister, and from there, as the weather was beginning to get cooler, I travelled day and night. One evening about eight o'clock I was disappointed at not having come across the usual rest-house; lights could be seen, however, at no great distance, and I proceeded towards them; they turned out to be the camp fires of a Cavalry regiment which was halting there for the night. Being half famished, and fearing that my craving for food was not likely to be gratified unless someone in the camp would take pity upon my forlorn condition, I boldly presented myself at the first tent I came across. The occupant came out, and, on hearing the strait I was in, he with kindly courtesy invited me to enter the tent, saying, 'You are just in time to share our dinner.' My host turned out to be Major Crawford Chamberlain,3 commanding the 1st Irregular Cavalry, the famous Skinner's Horse, then on its way to Peshawar. A lady was sitting at the table—Mrs. Chamberlain—to whom I was introduced; I spent a very pleasant evening, and in this way commenced another equally agreeable and lasting friendship.



Even the longest journey must come to an end at last, and early in November I reached Peshawar. My father, who was then in his sixty-ninth year, had just been appointed to command the division with the temporary rank of Major-General. Old as this may appear at a period[Page 10] when Colonels are superannuated at fifty-seven, and Major-Generals must retire at sixty-two, my father did not consider himself particularly unlucky. As for the authorities, they evidently thought they were to be congratulated on having so young and active an officer to place in a position of responsibility upon the North-West Frontier, for amongst my father's papers I found letters from the Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General expressing high satisfaction at his appointment to this difficult command.

With my Father at Peshawar It was a great advantage as well as a great pleasure to me to be with my father at this time. I had left India an infant, and I had no recollection of him until I was twelve years old, at which time he came home on leave. Even then I saw very little of him, as I was at school during the greater part of his sojourn in England, thus we met at Peshawar almost as strangers. We did not, however, long remain so; his affectionate greeting soon put an end to any feeling of shyness on my part, and the genial and kindly spirit which enabled him to enter into and sympathize with the feelings and aspirations of men younger than himself, rendered the year I spent with him at Peshawar one of the brightest and happiest of my early life. In one respect particularly I benefited by the intercourse and confidence of the year in question. My father spoke to me freely of his experiences in Afghanistan, where he commanded during the Afghan war first a brigade, and then Shah Shuja's contingent. The information I in this way gathered regarding the characteristics of that peculiar country, and the best means of dealing with its still more peculiar people, was invaluable to me when I, in my turn, twenty-five years later, found myself in command of an army in Afghanistan.

Eleven years only had elapsed since the first Afghan war, when my father went to Peshawar and found himself again associated with several Afghan friends; some had altogether settled in the Peshawar district, for nearly all of those who had assisted us, or shown any friendly feeling towards us, had been forced by Dost Mahomed Khan, on his return as Amir to Kabul, to seek refuge in India. One of the chief of these unfortunate refugees was Mahomed Usman Khan, Shah Shuja's Wazir, or Prime Minister. He had been very intimate with my father, so it was pleasant for them to meet again and talk over events in which they had both played such prominent parts. Usman Khan died some years ago; but visitors to India who travel as far as Peshawar may still meet his sons, one of whom is the Commandant of the Khyber Rifles, Lieutenant-Colonel Aslam Khan, C.I.E., a fine specimen of a Native soldier and gentleman, who has proved his loyalty and done excellent service to the State on many trying occasions.

[plate 4]

General Sir Abraham Roberts, G.C.B.


From a Photograph.

My father had also been on terms of intimacy with Dost Mahomed himself and many other men of influence in Kabul, from whom, while at Peshawar, he received most interesting letters, in which anxiety was[Page 11] often expressed as to whether the English were amicably disposed towards the Amir. To these communications my father was always careful to send courteous and conciliatory replies. The correspondence which took place confirmed him in his frequently expressed opinion that it would be greatly to the advantage of the Government, and obviate the necessity for keeping such large garrisons on the frontier, if friendly relations could be established with the Amir, and with the neighbouring tribes, who more or less looked to the Ruler of Kabul as their Chief. My father accordingly addressed the Secretary to the Government of India, and pointed out how successfully some of the most experienced Anglo-Indian officials had managed barbarous tribes by kindness and conciliation.

My father was prevented by ill-health from remaining long enough at Peshawar to see the result of his proposals, but it was a source of great satisfaction to him to learn before he left India1 that they were approved by Lord Dalhousie (the Governor-General), and that they were already bearing fruit. That the Amir was himself ready to respond to any overtures made to him was evident from a letter written by a brother of the Dost's, which was discovered amongst the papers of Colonel Mackeson (the Commissioner of Peshawar) after his death. It was still more gratifying to my father to find that the views of Mackeson's successor, Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Edwardes, on this subject entirely coincided with his own. This distinguished officer and brilliant administrator zealously maintained this policy, and succeeded in establishing such a good understanding with the Ruler of Kabul that, when the Mutiny broke out, Afghanistan stood aloof, instead of, as might have been the case, turning the scale against us.

Peshawar in 1852 The Peshawar division in 1852 was not only the most important, but the largest, in India. It included besides Attock, Rawal Pindi, and Jhelum, the hill-station of Murree, which had only been recently occupied. The cantonment of Peshawar had been laid out by Sir Colin Campbell (afterwards Lord Clyde), who commanded there when we first occupied that place in 1849. He crowded the troops, European and Native, into as small a space as possible in order that the station[Page 12] might be the more easily protected from the raids of the Afridis and other robber tribes, who had their homes in the neighbouring mountains, and constantly descended into the valley for the sake of plunder. To resist these marauders it was necessary to place guards all round the cantonment. The smaller the enclosure, the fewer guards would be required. From this point of view alone was Sir Colin's action excusable; but the result of this overcrowding was what it always is, especially in a tropical climate like that of India, and for long years Peshawar was a name of terror to the English soldier from its proverbial unhealthiness. The water-supply for the first five-and-twenty years of our occupation was extremely bad, and sanitary arrangements, particularly as regards Natives, were apparently considered unnecessary.

In addition to the cordon of sentries round the cantonment, strong piquets were posted on all the principal roads leading towards the hills; and every house had to be guarded by a chokidar, or watchman, belonging to one of the robber tribes. The maintaining this watchman was a sort of blackmail, without consenting to which no one's horses or other property were safe. The watchmen were armed with all sorts of quaint old firearms, which, on an alarm being given, they discharged in the most reckless manner, making it quite a work of danger to pass along a Peshawar road after dark. No one was allowed to venture beyond the line of sentries when the sun had set, and even in broad daylight it was not safe to go any distance from the station.

Excitements of a Frontier Station In the autumn of 1851 an officer—Captain Frank Grantham, of the 98th Foot—was riding with a young lady on the Michni road, not far from the Artillery quarter-guard, when he was attacked by five hill-men. Grantham was wounded so severely that he died in a few days, the horses were carried off, but the girl was allowed to escape. She ran as fast as she could to the nearest guard, and told her story; the alarm was given, and the wounded man was brought in. The young lady was called upon shortly afterwards to identify one of the supposed murderers, but she could not recognize the man as being of the party who made the attack; nevertheless, the murderer's friends were afraid of what she might remember, and made an attempt one night to carry her off. Fortunately, it was frustrated, but from that time, until she left Peshawar, it was considered necessary to keep a guard over the house in which she lived.

From all this my readers may probably think that Peshawar, as I first knew it, was not a desirable place of residence; but I was very happy there. There was a good deal of excitement and adventure; I made many friends; and, above all, I had, to me, the novel pleasure of being with my father.

My Father's Staff
It was the custom in those days for the General commanding one of the larger divisions to have under him, and in charge of the Head-Quarter[Page 13] station, a senior officer styled Brigadier. Soon after I went to Peshawar, Sydney Cotton2 held this appointment, and remained in it for many years, making a great reputation for himself during the Mutiny, and being eventually appointed to the command of the division. The two senior officers on my father's staff were Lieutenant Norman3 and Lieutenant Lumsden,4 the former Deputy Assistant-Adjutant-General and the latter Deputy Assistant-Quartermaster-General. The high opinion of them which my father had formed was subsequently justified by their distinguished careers. Norman, with sixteen years' service, and at the age of thirty-four, became Adjutant-General of the Army in India, and a year or two later Secretary to Government in the Military Department. He finished his Indian service as Military Member of Council. Lumsden became Quartermaster-General, and afterwards Adjutant-General, the two highest positions on the Indian staff.

There was a separate mess for all the staff officers, and I remember a curious circumstance in connexion with that mess which, unless the exception proves the rule, is strong evidence against the superstition that thirteen is an unlucky number to sit down to dinner. On the 1st January, 1853, thirteen of us dined together; eleven years after we were all alive, nearly the whole of the party having taken part in the suppression of the Mutiny, and five or six having been wounded.

From the time of my arrival until the autumn of 1853, nothing of much importance occurred. I lived with my father, and acted as his Aide-de-camp, while, at the same time, I did duty with the Artillery. The 2nd Company, 2nd Battalion, to which I belonged, was composed of a fine body of men, who had a grand reputation in the field, but, being somewhat troublesome in quarters, had acquired the nickname of 'The Devil's Own.' Because of the unusually good physique of the men, this company was selected for conversion into a Mountain Battery, which it was thought advisable to raise at that time. I was the only subaltern with this battery for several months, and though my commanding officer had no objection to my acting as A.D.C. to my father, he took good care that I did my regimental duty strictly and regularly.

A Flogging Parade One very painful circumstance stamped itself on my memory. I was obliged to be present at a flogging parade—the only one, I am glad to say, I have ever had to attend, although the barbarous and degrading custom of flogging in the army was not done away with until nearly thirty years later.5 A few years before I joined the service, the number of lashes which might be given was limited to[Page 14] fifty, but even under this restriction the sight was a horrible one to witness. The parade to which I refer was ordered for the punishment of two men who had been sentenced to fifty lashes each for selling their kits, and to a certain term of imprisonment in addition. They were fine, handsome young Horse Artillerymen, and it was hateful to see them thus treated. Besides, one felt it was productive of harm rather than good, for it tended to destroy the men's self-respect, and to make them completely reckless. In this instance, no sooner had the two men been released from prison than they committed the same offence again. They were a second time tried by Court-Martial, and sentenced as before. How I longed to have the power to remit the fifty lashes, for I felt that selling their kits on this occasion was their way of showing their resentment at the ignominious treatment they had been subjected to, and of proving that flogging was powerless to prevent their repeating the offence. A parade was ordered, as on the previous occasion. One man was stripped to the waist, and tied to the wheel of a gun. The finding and sentence of the Court-Martial were read out—a trumpeter standing ready the while to inflict the punishment—when the commanding officer, Major Robert Waller, instead of ordering him to begin, to the intense relief of, I believe, every officer present, addressed the prisoners, telling them of his distress at finding two soldiers belonging to his troop brought up for corporal punishment twice in a little more than six weeks, and adding that, however little they deserved such leniency, if they would promise not to commit the same offence again, and to behave better for the future, he would remit the flogging part of the sentence. If the prisoners were not happy, I was; but the clemency was evidently appreciated by them, for they promised, and kept their words. I did not lose sight of these two men for some years, and was always gratified to learn that their conduct was uniformly satisfactory, and that they had become good, steady soldiers.

The Commissioner, or chief civil authority, when I arrived at Peshawar, was Colonel Mackeson, a well-known frontier officer who had greatly distinguished himself during the first Afghan war by his work among the Afridis and other border tribes, by whom he was liked and respected as much as he was feared. During Shah Shuja's brief reign at Kabul, Mackeson was continually employed on political duty in the Khyber Pass and at Peshawar. On the breaking out of the insurrection at Kabul, he was indefatigable in forwarding supplies and money to Sir Robert Sale at Jalalabad, hastening up the reinforcements, and maintaining British influence in the Khyber, a task of no small magnitude when we remember that a religious war had been proclaimed, and all true believers had been called upon to exterminate the Feringhis. While at Peshawar, as Commissioner, his duties were arduous and his responsibilities heavy—the more so as at that time[Page 15] the Afghan inhabitants of the city were in a dangerous and excited state.

Mackeson's Assassination On the 10th September, 1853, we were horrified to learn that Mackeson had been murdered by a religious fanatic. He was sitting in the verandah of his house listening to appeals from the decisions of his subordinates, when, towards evening, a man—who had been remarked by many during the day earnestly engaged in his devotions, his prayer-carpet being spread within sight of the house—came up and, making a low salaam to Mackeson, presented him with a paper. The Commissioner, supposing it to be a petition, stretched out his hand to take it, when the man instantly plunged a dagger into his breast. The noise consequent on the struggle attracted the attention of some of the domestic servants and one of the Native officials. The latter threw himself between Mackeson and the fanatic, and was himself slightly wounded in his efforts to rescue his Chief.

Mackeson lingered until the 14th September. His death caused considerable excitement in the city and along the border, increasing to an alarming extent when it became known that the murderer had been hanged and his body burnt. This mode of disposing of one of their dead is considered by Mahomedans as the greatest insult that can be offered to their religion, for in thus treating the corpse, as if it were that of (by them) a hated and despised Hindu, the dead man is supposed to be deprived of every chance of paradise. It was not without careful and deliberate consideration that this course was decided upon, and it was only adopted on account of the deterrent effect it would have upon fanatical Mahomedans, who count it all gain to sacrifice their lives by the murder of a heretic, and thereby secure, as they firmly believe, eternal happiness, but loathe the idea of being burned, which effectually prevents the murderer being raised to the dignity of a martyr, and revered as a saint ever after.

It being rumoured that the Pathans intended to retaliate by desecrating the late Commissioner's grave, it was arranged that he should be buried within cantonment limits. A monument was raised to his memory by public subscription, and his epitaph6 was written by the Governor-General himself.

Shortly before Mackeson's murder my father had found it necessary[Page 16] to go to the hill-station of Murree; the hot weather had tried him very much, and he required a change. He had scarcely arrived there, when he was startled by the news of the tragedy which had occurred, and at once determined to return, notwithstanding its being the most sickly season of the year at Peshawar, for he felt that at a time of such dangerous excitement it was his duty to be present. As a precautionary measure, he ordered the 22nd Foot from Rawal Pindi to Peshawar. This and other steps which he deemed prudent to take soon put an end to the disturbances.

The Jowaki Expedition No sooner had matters quieted down at Peshawar than the Jowaki Afridis, who inhabit the country immediately to the east of the Kohat Pass, began to give trouble, and we went out into camp to select a site for a post which would serve to cover the northern entrance to the pass and keep the tribesmen under surveillance. The great change of temperature, from the intense heat he had undergone in the summer to the bitter cold of November nights in tents, was too severe a trial for my father. He was then close on seventy, and though apparently active as ever, he was far from well, consequently the doctors strongly urged him not to risk another hot weather in India. It was accordingly settled that he should return to England without delay.

A Strange Dream Shortly before his departure, an incident occurred which I will relate for the benefit of psychological students; they may, perhaps, be able to explain it, I never could. My father had some time before issued invitations for a dance which was to take place in two days' time—on Monday, the 17th October, 1853. On the Saturday morning he appeared disturbed and unhappy, and during breakfast he was silent and despondent—very different from his usual bright and cheery self. On my questioning him as to the cause, he told me he had had an unpleasant dream—one which he had dreamt several times before, and which had always been followed by the death of a near relation. As[Page 17] the day advanced, in spite of my efforts to cheer him, he became more and more depressed, and even said he should like to put off the dance. I dissuaded him from taking this step for the time being; but that night he had the same dream again, and the next morning he insisted on the dance being postponed. It seemed to me rather absurd to have to disappoint our friends because of a dream; there was, however, nothing for it but to carry out my father's wishes, and intimation was accordingly sent to the invited guests. The following morning the post brought news of the sudden death of the half-sister at Lahore with whom I had stayed on my way to Peshawar.

As my father was really very unwell, it was not thought advisable for him to travel alone, so it was arranged that I should accompany him to Rawal Pindi. We started from Peshawar on the 27th November, and drove as far as Nowshera. The next day we went on to Attock. I found the invalid had benefited so much by the change that it was quite safe for him to continue the journey alone, and I consented the more readily to leave him, as I was anxious to get back to my battery, which had been ordered on service, and was then with the force assembled at Bazidkhel for an expedition against the Bori villages of the Jowaki Afridis.

A Typical Frontier Fight Having said farewell to my father, I started for Bazidkhel early on the 29th November. At that time there was no direct road to that place from Nowshera, nor was it considered safe to travel alone along the slopes of the lower Afridi hills. I had, therefore, to go all the way back to Peshawar to get to my destination. I rode as fast as relays of horses could carry me, in the hope that I should reach Bazidkhel in time for the fun; but soon after passing Nowshera I heard guns in the direction of the Kohat Pass, and realized that I should be too late. I was very disappointed at missing this, my first chance of active service, and not accompanying the newly raised Mountain Train (as it was then called) on the first occasion of its being employed in the field.

The object of this expedition was to punish the Jowaki section of the Afridis for their many delinquencies during the three previous years. Numerous murders and raids on the Kohat and Peshawar districts, the plunder of boats on the Indus, and the murder of a European apothecary, were all traced to this tribe. They had been blockaded, and their resort to the salt-mines near Bahadurkhel and to the markets of Kohat and Peshawar had been interdicted, but these measures produced no effect on the recalcitrant tribesmen. John (afterwards Lord) Lawrence, who had come to Peshawar for the purpose of taking over frontier affairs with Edwardes, the new Commissioner, held a conference with the maliks7 of the villages connected with the Jowaki Pass, and being anxious to avoid hostilities, offered to condone all past offences if the tribes would agree to certain conditions,[Page 18] which, briefly, were that no further crimes should be committed in British territory; that such criminals as had taken refuge in their villages should be given up; and that for the future criminals and outlaws flying from justice should not be afforded an asylum in Jowaki lands. To the second condition the whole tribe absolutely refused to agree. They stated, with truth, that from time immemorial it was their custom to afford an asylum to anyone demanding it, and that to surrender a man who had sought and found shelter with them would be a disgrace which they could not endure.

Afridis have curious ideas as to the laws of hospitality; it is no uncommon thing for them to murder their guests in cold blood, but it is contrary to their code of honour to surrender a fugitive who has claimed an asylum with them.

The sections of the tribe living nearest our territory agreed to the first and third of our conditions, no doubt because they felt they were in our power, and had suffered considerably from the blockade. But the Bori Afridis would make no atonement for the past and give no security for the future, although they admitted having robbed and murdered our subjects. There was nothing for it, therefore, but to send a force against them. This force consisted of rather more than 1,500 men, British and Native. The Afridis made no stand until we reached their main position, when they offered a stout resistance, which, however, proved of no avail against the gallantry of the Guides and 66th (now 1st) Gurkhas. The Bori villages were then destroyed, with a loss to us of eight men killed and thirty-one wounded.

Sufficient punishment having been inflicted, our force retired. The rear-guard was hotly pressed, and it was late in the evening before the troops got clear of the hills.

The tribesmen with whom we had just made friends sat in hundreds on the ridges watching the progress of the fight. It was no doubt a great temptation to them to attack the 'infidels' while they were at their mercy, and considerable anxiety was felt by Lawrence and Edwardes as to the part which our new allies would play; their relief was proportionate when it was found they intended to maintain a neutral attitude.

I shall not further describe the events of that day, more especially as I was not fortunate enough to be in time to take part in the proceedings. I have only referred to this expedition as being typical of many little frontier fights, and because I remember being much impressed at the time with the danger of trusting our communications in a difficult mountainous country to people closely allied to those against whom we were fighting. This over-confidence in the good faith of our frontier neighbours caused us serious embarrassments a few years later during the Umbeyla campaign.

The force remained in camp for some time for the protection of the[Page 19] men employed in building the post, which was called Fort Mackeson, after the murdered Commissioner. When it was completed we returned to Peshawar.



A Trip to Khagan

I had had a great deal of fever during my eighteen months' residence at Peshawar, and in April, 1854, I obtained six months' leave to Kashmir. I travelled viâ Murree to Abbottabad, along the route now well known as the 'Gullies.' Here I was joined by Lieutenant George Rodney Brown,1 a subaltern of Horse Artillery, with whom I chummed at Peshawar.

Abbottabad was a very small place in those days. It was named after its first Deputy-Commissioner, James Abbott,2 famous for his journey viâ Bokhara and Khiva to Russia in 1839, undertaken for the release of Russian prisoners who were kept as slaves by the Turkomans. He had just left, and had been succeeded as Deputy-Commissioner by a Captain Becher, who, fortunately for us, was away in the district. I say fortunately, because we were bent on visiting Khagan, and had obtained permission from the Commissioner of Peshawar to do so. He had told us to apply to Becher for assistance, but from what we heard of that officer, it did not seem likely he would help us. Khagan was beyond our border, and the inhabitants were said to be even more fanatical than the rest of the frontier tribes. The Commissioner, however, had given us leave, and as his Deputy appeared to be the kind of man to create obstacles, we made up our minds to slip away before he returned.

We started on the 21st May, and marched to Habibula-Ki-Ghari. Here the road bifurcates, one branch leading to Kashmir, the other to Khagan. We took the latter, and proceeded to Balakot, twelve miles further on, which was then our frontier post. There we found a small guard of Frontier Police, two of whom we induced to accompany us on our onward journey for the purpose of assisting to look after the baggage and collecting coolies. Three days' more marching brought us to Khagan. The road almost the whole way from Balakot ran along a precipice overhanging the Nainsukh river, at that time of year a rushing torrent, owing to the melting of the snows on the higher ranges. The track was rough, steep, and in some places very narrow. We crossed and recrossed the river several times by means of snow-bridges, which, spanning the limpid, jade-coloured water, had a very pretty effect. At one point our shikarris3 stopped, and proudly told us that on that very spot their tribe had destroyed a Sikh army sent[Page 20] against them in the time of Runjit Sing. It certainly was a place well chosen for a stand, not more than fifty yards wide, with a perpendicular cliff on one side and a roaring torrent on the other.

The people apparently did not object to our being in their country, and treated us with much civility throughout our journey. We were enjoying ourselves immensely, so when an official cover reached us with the signature of the dreaded Deputy-Commissioner in the corner, we agreed that it would be unwise to open it just then.

Khagan was almost buried in snow. The scenery was magnificent, and became every moment more wonderful as we slowly climbed the steep ascent in front of us; range after range of snow-capped mountains disclosed themselves to our view, rising higher and higher into the air, until at last, towering above all, Nanga Parbat4 in all her spotless beauty was revealed to our astonished and delighted gaze.

We could not get beyond Khagan. Our coolies refused to go further, alleging as their reason the danger to be dreaded from avalanches in that month; but I suspect that fear of hostility from the tribes further north had more to do with their reluctance to proceed than dread of falling avalanches. We remained at Khagan for two or three days in the hope of being able to shoot an ibex, but we were disappointed; we never even saw one.

We retraced our steps with considerable regret, and reached Habibula-Ki-Ghari on the 31st May. Here we received a second official document from Abbottabad. It contained, like the previous letter, which we now looked at for the first time, orders for our immediate return, and warnings that we were on no account to go to Khagan. Since then Khagan has been more than once visited by British officers, and now a road is in course of construction along the route we travelled, as being a more direct line of communication with Gilghit than that viâ Kashmir.

We made no delay at Habibula-Ki-Ghari, but started at once for the lovely Vale of Kashmir, where we spent the summer, amusing ourselves by making excursions to all the places of interest and beauty we had so often heard of, and occasionally shooting a bear. The place which impressed me most was Martund,5 where stand the picturesque ruins of a once renowned Hindu temple. These noble ruins are the most striking in size and position of all the existing remains of the past glories of Kashmir.

From Martund we made our way to Vernag, the celebrated spring which is supposed to be the source of the Jhelum river. The Moghul Emperor Akbar built there a summer palace, and the arches, on which it is said rested the private apartments of the lovely Nur Jehan, are still visible.

The Vale of Kashmir We wandered over the beautiful and fertile Lolab valley, and pitched[Page 21] our little camp in the midst of groves of chunar, walnut, apple, cherry, and peach trees; and we marched up the Sind valley, and crossed the Zojji La Pass leading into Thibet. The scenery all along this route is extremely grand. On either side are lofty mountains, their peaks wrapped in snow, their sides clothed with pine, and their feet covered with forests, in which is to be found almost every kind of deciduous tree. From time to time we returned for a few days to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, to enjoy the pleasures of more civilized society. Srinagar is so well known nowadays, and has been so often described in poetry and prose, that it is needless for me to dwell at length upon its delights, which, I am inclined to think, are greater in imagination than in reality. It has been called the Venice of the East, and in some respects it certainly does remind one of the 'Bride of the Sea,' both in its picturesqueness and (when one gets into the small and tortuous canals) its unsavouriness. Even at the time of which I am writing it was dilapidated, and the houses looked exactly like those made by children out of a pack of cards, which a puff of wind might be expected to destroy. Of late years the greater part of the city has been injured by earthquakes, and Srinagar looks more than ever like a card city. The great beauty of the place in those days was the wooden bridges covered with creepers, and gay with booths and shops of all descriptions, which spanned the Jhelum at intervals for the three miles the river runs through the town—now, alas! for the artistic traveller, no more. Booths and shops have been swept away, and the creepers have disappeared—decidedly an advantage from a sanitary point of view, but destructive of the quaint picturesqueness of the town.

The floating gardens are a unique and very pretty characteristic of Srinagar. The lake is nowhere deeper than ten or twelve feet, and in some places much less. These gardens are made by driving stakes into the bed of the lake, long enough to project three or four feet above the surface of the water. These stakes are placed at intervals in an oblong form, and are bound together by reeds and rushes twined in and out and across, until a kind of stationary raft is made, on which earth and turf are piled. In this soil seeds are sown, and the crops of melons and other fruits raised in these fertile beds are extremely fine and abundant.

The magnificent chunar-trees are another very beautiful feature of the country. They grow to a great height and girth, and so luxuriant and dense is their foliage that I have sat reading and writing for hours during heavy rain under one of these trees and kept perfectly dry.

The immediate vicinity of Srinagar is very pretty, and the whole valley of Kashmir is lovely beyond description: surrounded by beautifully-wooded mountains, intersected with streams and lakes, and gay with flowers of every description, for in Kashmir many of the gorgeous eastern plants and the more simple but sweeter ones of[Page 22] England meet on common ground. To it may appropriately be applied the Persian couplet:

'Agar fardos baru-i zamin ast, hamin ast, hamin ast'
(If there be an Elysium on earth, it is this, it is this).

The soil is extremely productive; anything will grow in it. Put a stick into the ground, and in an extraordinary short space of time it becomes a tree and bears fruit. What were we about, to sell such a country for three quarters of a million sterling? It would have made the most perfect sanatorium for our troops, and furnished an admirable field for British enterprise and colonization, its climate being as near perfection as anything can be.

How sad it is that, in a country 'where every prospect pleases, only man' should be 'vile'! And man, as he existed in Kashmir, was vile—vile, because so miserable. The Mahomedan inhabitants were being ground down by Hindu rulers, who seized all their earnings, leaving them barely sufficient to keep body and soul together. What interest could such people have in cultivating their land, or doing any work beyond what was necessary to mere existence? However hard they might labour, their efforts would benefit neither themselves nor their children, and so their only thought was to get through life with as little exertion as possible—in the summer sitting in the sun absolutely idle the greater part of the day, and in the winter wrapped up in their blankets, under which were concealed curious little vessels called kangris, holding two or three bits of live charcoal. Every Kashmiri still carries one of these kangris, as the most economical way of keeping himself warm.

Early in September we said good-bye to the happy valley and returned to Peshawar, where I rejoined the Mountain Battery.

In November, to my great delight, I was given my jacket. At first my happiness was somewhat damped by the fact that the troop to which I was posted was stationed at Umballa. I did not want to leave Peshawar, and in the end I had not to do so, as a vacancy most opportunely occurred in one of the troops of Horse Artillery at that station, which was given to me.

Life on the frontier in those days had a great charm for most young men; there was always something of interest going on; military expeditions were constantly taking place, or being speculated upon, and one lived in hope of being amongst those chosen for active service. Peshawar, too, notwithstanding its unhealthiness, was a favourite station with officers. To me it was particularly pleasant, for it had the largest force of Artillery of any station in India except Meerut; the mess was a good one, and was composed of as nice a set of fellows as were to be found in the army. In addition to the officers of the regiment, there were a certain number of honorary members; all the staff and civilians belonged to the Artillery mess, and on guest-nights[Page 23] we sat down as many as sixty to dinner. Another attraction was the 'coffee shop,' an institution which has now almost ceased to exist, at which we all congregated after morning parade and freely discussed the home and local news.

With the Horse Artillery The troop to which I was posted was composed of a magnificent body of men, nearly all Irishmen, most of whom could have lifted me up with one hand. They were fine riders, and needed to be so, for the stud-horses used for Artillery purposes at that time were not the quiet, well-broken animals of the present day. I used to try my hand at riding them all in turn, and thus learnt to understand and appreciate the amount of nerve, patience, and skill necessary to the making of a good Horse Artillery 'driver,' with the additional advantage that I was brought into constant contact with the men. It also qualified me to ride in the officers' team for the regimental brake. The brake, it must be understood, was drawn by six horses, each ridden postilion fashion by an officer.

My troop was commanded by Captain Barr, a dear old fellow who had seen a good deal of service and was much liked by officers and men, but hardly the figure for a Horse Artilleryman, as he weighed about seventeen stone. On a troop parade Barr took up his position well in advance and made his own pace, but on brigade parades he had to conform to the movements of the other arms, and on these occasions he used to tell one of the subalterns as he galloped past him to come 'left about' at the right time without waiting for his order. This, of course, we were always careful to do, and by the time we had come into action Barr had caught us up and was at his post.

During the winter of 1854-55 I had several returns of Peshawar fever, and by the beginning of the spring I was so reduced that I was given eight months' leave on medical certificate, with orders to report myself at Mian Mir at its expiration, in view to my going through the riding course, there being no Riding-Master at Peshawar.

I decided to return to Kashmir in the first instance, and thence to march across the Himalayas to Simla.

On my way into Kashmir I was fortunate enough to fall in with a very agreeable travelling companion—Lieutenant John Watson.6 He was then Adjutant of the 1st Punjab Cavalry, and was looked upon as one of the most promising officers of the Frontier Force. We spent a very enjoyable time in Kashmir, and early in August I started for Simla with two brother officers named Light and Mercer, whose acquaintance I had only recently made, but who turned out to be very pleasant fellow-travellers.

We marched viâ Kishtwar, Chamba, and Dharmsala, a distance of1855 about 400 miles, through most beautiful scenery. At the last-named place I parted from my companions, who travelled onwards to Simla[Page 24] by the Kulu valley, while I took the shorter route viâ Bilaspur.

My First Visit to Simla The Simla of those days was not the busy and important place it has since become. The Governor-General seldom visited it, and the Commander-in-Chief only spent a summer there occasionally. When I arrived, Sir William Gomm, the Commander-in-Chief of that day, who had been spending the hot weather months there, was about to give up his command, and Colonel Grant,7 who had been his Adjutant-General, had left not long before.

The only thing of interest to myself which occurred during the month I remained at Simla was that I lunched with Colonel Arthur Becher, the Quartermaster-General. I think I hear my reader say, 'Not a very remarkable event to chronicle.' But that lunch was a memorable one to me; indeed, it was the turning-point in my career, for my host was good enough to say he should like to have me in his department some day, and this meant a great deal to me. Joining a department at that time generally resulted in remaining in it for the greater part of one's service. There was then no limit to the tenure of staff appointments, and the object of every ambitious young officer was to get into one department or another—political, civil, or the army staff. My father had always impressed upon me that the political department was the one to aspire to, and failing that, the Quartermaster-General's, as in the latter there was the best chance of seeing service. I had cherished a sort of vague hope that I might some day be lucky enough to become a Deputy Assistant-Quartermaster-General, for although I fully recognized the advantages of a political career, I preferred being more closely associated with the army, and I had seen enough of staff work to satisfy myself that it would suit me; so the few words spoken to me by Colonel Becher made me supremely happy.

It never entered into my head that I should get an early appointment; the fact of the Quartermaster-General thinking of me as a possible recruit was quite enough for me. I was in no hurry to leave the Horse Artillery, to which I was proud of belonging, and in which I hoped to see service while still on the frontier. I left Simla very pleased with the result of my visit, and very grateful to Colonel Becher, who proved a good friend to me ever after, and I made my way to Mian Mir, where I went through the riding-school course, and then returned to Peshawar.

Life at Peshawar
The winter of 1855-56 passed much as the cold weather generally does in the north of India. Our amusements consisted of an occasional race-meeting or cricket match. Polo was unknown in those days, and hunting the jackal, a sport which has been a source of so much recreation to the Peshawar garrison for thirty odd years, had not then been thought of. It was a pleasant change to visit the outposts, and whenever I got the chance I rode over to Mardan, where the Corps of Guides [Page 25] were stationed, commanded by that gallant soldier, Harry Lumsden,8 who had raised the corps in 1846 under the auspices of Henry Lawrence. Many were the good gallops I enjoyed with his hawks, hunting the aubara.9 Of work there was plenty at Peshawar, for the Brigadier, Sydney Cotton,10 kept us alive with field days, carefully instilling into us his idea that parade-grounds were simply useful for drill and preliminary instruction, and that as soon as the rudiments of a soldier's education had been learnt, the troops should leave their nursery, and try as far as possible to practise in peace what they would have to do in war. Sydney Cotton was never tired of explaining that the machinery of war, like all other machinery, should be kept, so to speak, oiled and ready for use.

A Staff Appointment My dream of a staff appointment was realized more quickly than I had expected. In the early part of 1856 the Surveyor-General applied for the services of two or three experienced officers to assist in the survey of Kashmir. Lumsden, the D.A.Q.M.G., was one of those selected for the duty, and I was appointed to officiate for him. So delighted was I to get my foot on the lowest rung of the staff ladder, that I cheerfully agreed to the condition my Captain insisted upon, that I should perform my regimental duties in addition to the staff work. Things went merrily with me for a short time, when most unexpectedly my hopes of some day becoming Quartermaster-General of the Army in India were dashed to the ground by the Governor-General refusing to confirm my appointment, because I had not passed the prescribed examination in Hindustani. A rule existed requiring a language test, but it had seldom been enforced, certainly not in the case of 'acting appointments,' so that this refusal came as a great blow to me. It had, however, excellent results, for it made me determined to pass in Hindustani. It was then May, and in July the half-yearly examination was to be held. I forthwith engaged the best munshi11 at Peshawar, shut myself up, and studied Indian literature from morning till night, until I felt pretty confident of success.

Just before the examination took place, the officer who had stepped[Page 26] into my shoes when I was turned out (Lieutenant Mordaunt Fitz-Gerald, of my own regiment) was offered an appointment in the Punjab Frontier Force. He consulted me as to the advisability of accepting it, and I told him I thought he ought not to do so. I considered this most disinterested advice, for I had good reason to believe that I should be re-appointed to the staff, should the appointment again become vacant. Fortunately for me, Fitz-Gerald followed the usual procedure of those who delight in consulting their friends. He listened to my advice, and then decided not to follow it. Accordingly, he joined the Punjab Frontier Force, whilst I, having passed the examination, went back to the coveted appointment, and continued in the department, with the exception of one or two short intervals, until 1878, when I left it as Quartermaster-General.

The Bump of Locality The autumn of 1856 was a very sickly one at Peshawar; fever was rife amongst the troops, and in the hope of shaking it off Brigadier Cotton got permission to take a certain number into camp. It was September, and the sun was still very hot, so that it was necessary to begin the daily march long before dawn in order to reach the new camping ground while it was still tolerably cool. We crossed the Kabul river at Nowshera, which place was then being made into a station for troops, and marched about the Yusafzai plain for three weeks. The chief difficulty was the absence of water, and I had to prospect the country every afternoon for a sufficient supply, and to determine, with regard to this sine quâ non, where the camp should be pitched the next day. On one occasion the best place I could discover was between two and three miles off the main road. There was no difficulty in reaching it by day, but I was afraid of some mistake being made when we had to leave it in the small hours of the morning, few things being more bewildering than to find one's way in the dark from a camp pitched in the open country when once the tents have been struck. It was my duty to lead the column and see that it marched off in the right direction; knowing how anxious the Brigadier was that the new ground should be reached while it was cool, and the men be thus saved from exposure to the sun, I was careful to note my position with regard to the stars, and to explain to the officer who was in orders to command the advance guard the direction he must take. When the time came to start, and the Brigadier was about to order the bugler to sound the march, I saw that the advance guard was drawn up at right angles to the way in which we had to proceed. The officer commanding it was positive he was right, and in this he was supported by Brigadier Cotton and some of the other officers; I was equally positive that he was wrong, and that if we marched as he proposed, we should find ourselves several miles out of our course. The Brigadier settled the question by saying I was responsible for the troops going in the right direction, and ordering me to show the way. The country was perfectly bare, there[Page 27] was not a tree or object of any kind to guide me, and the distance seemed interminable. I heard opinions freely expressed that I was on the wrong road, and at last, when the Brigadier himself came up to me and said he thought I must have lost the way, I really began to waver in my conviction that I was right. At that moment my horse stumbled into a ditch, which proved to be the boundary of the main road. I was immensely relieved, the Brigadier was delighted, and from that moment I think he was satisfied that I had, what is so essential to a Quartermaster-General in the field, the bump of locality.

In October the Artillery moved into the practice camp at Chamkanie, about five miles from Peshawar. It was intended that we should remain there for a couple of months, but before the end of that time I had to join the General at Rawal Pindi, where he had gone on a tour of inspection. Being anxious not to shirk my regimental duty, I did not leave Chamkanie until the last moment, and had but one day in which to reach Rawal Pindi, a distance of one hundred miles, which I accomplished on horseback between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., only stopping at Attock a short time for refreshment.

This tour with General Reed ended my staff duties for a time, as the survey in Kashmir had come to an end and Lumsden rejoined his appointment before Christmas.



Lord Dalhousie's Afghan Policy

Towards the close of the year 1856, a rumour reached us that the Amir, Dost Mahomed Khan, was shortly expected to arrive at Peshawar to meet the Chief Commissioner, Sir John Lawrence, who had recently been made a K.C.B.

Before describing the Amir's visit and its results, it seems desirable that I should briefly explain how and why the visit was brought about, and then endeavour to show what an important bearing its results had on the great crisis which occurred so unexpectedly a few months later.

It will be remembered that the murdered Mackeson was succeeded as Commissioner of Peshawar by Herbert Edwardes, one of the most remarkable men that the Indian army has ever produced, and who, as I have already mentioned, entirely concurred in my father's expressed opinion as to the great advantage it would be for the Government of India to enter into more friendly relations with the Ruler of Kabul. They both held that the constant troubles all along our frontier were in a great measure due to the Amir's hostility, and that such troubles would increase rather than diminish unless we could succeed in establishing an entente cordiale with Dost Mahomed.

Treaty with Dost Mahomed In 1854 Edwardes had a correspondence with the Governor-General[Page 28] on the subject, and on one occasion expressed himself as follows: 'My own feeling is, that we have much injured Dost Mahomed, and may very well afford to let by-gones be by-gones. It would contribute much to the security of this frontier if open relations of goodwill were established at Kabul. There is a sullenness in our present relations, as if both parties were brooding over the past, and expecting an opportunity in the future. This keeps up excitement and unrest, and prevents our influence and institutions taking root. I should be very glad to see a new account opened on the basis of an open treaty of friendship and alliance.'

Lord Dalhousie was quite in accord with Edwardes. He thought it very desirable to be on better terms with Kabul, but believed this to be a result difficult to attain. 'I give you,' he said in a letter to Edwardes, carte blanche, and if you can only bring about such a result as you propose, it will be a new feather in your cap.'

Lord Dalhousie was supported by the British Government in his opinion as to the desirability of coming to a better understanding with the Amir. War with Russia was then imminent, and the strained condition of European politics made it expedient that we should be on more amicable terms with Afghanistan.

The Governor-General thus wrote to Edwardes:

'Prospects of a war between Russia and Turkey are watched with interest by all.... In England they are fidgety regarding this border beyond all reason, and most anxious for that declared amity and that formal renewal of friendly relations which you advocate in your letter.'

The balance of Indian opinion, however, was against our making overtures to Dost Mahomed. John Lawrence, at that time the great power in the Punjab, was altogether opposed to Edwardes's policy in this matter. He admitted that it might be wise to renew intercourse with the Kabul ruler if he first expressed his regret for previous misunderstandings; but later he wrote to Edwardes:

'I dare say you are right; still, I cannot divest myself of the idea that it is a mistake, and will end in mixing us up in Afghan politics and affairs more than is desirable. The strength which a treaty can give us seems to be a delusion. It will be like the reed on which, if a man lean, it will break and pierce his hand.'

John Nicholson, Outram, and James Abbott agreed with Lawrence. They urged that any advance on our part would be looked upon as an indication of conscious weakness; and the probability was that an arrogant, irritated Mussulman ruler would regard an overture as a proof of our necessity, and would make our necessity his opportunity. But Lord Dalhousie, while anxious to avoid any communication being made which could be liable to misconstruction, saw neither objection nor risk in opening the door to reconciliation, provided no undue anxiety was displayed on our part. The Governor-General practically[Page 29] left the matter in the hands of Edwardes, who lost no time in trying to attain the desired object. The greatest forbearance and diplomatic skill were necessary to bring the negotiations to a satisfactory termination, but they were concluded at last, most successfully, and to Edwardes alone is due the credit. It is instructive to read the full record1 of this tedious and difficult piece of diplomacy, for it serves as an interesting example of Oriental subtlety and circumlocution, contrasted with the straightforward dealing of a high-minded Englishman.

The Amir wrote a letter to the Governor-General couched in most satisfactory terms, which he forwarded to Peshawar by the hand of his confidential secretary, and which received, as it deserved, a very friendly reply. This resulted in Dost Mahomed sending his son and heir-apparent, Sardar Ghulam Haidar Khan, to Peshawar, and deputing him to act as his Plenipotentiary in the negotiations. Ghulam Haidar Khan reached Peshawar in March, 1855, where he was met by the Chief Commissioner, and on the 30th of that month the treaty was concluded. 'It guaranteed that we should respect the Amir's possessions in Afghanistan, and never interfere with them; while the Amir engaged similarly to respect British territory, and to be the friend of our friends and the enemy of our enemies.'

The Governor-General had at first resolved to entrust to Edwardes the duty of meeting the expected Envoy from Kabul, and orders to that effect were issued. But Edwardes, more anxious for the success of the negotiations than for his own honour and glory, wrote to Lord Dalhousie suggesting that the Government of India should be represented by the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab, and promising to afford Sir John Lawrence all the assistance in his power. Edwardes believed that the importance of the treaty would be enhanced in the eyes of the Afghans by the presence of the higher official; and in this opinion the Governor-General concurred. On the conclusion of the treaty, Lord Dalhousie wrote to Edwardes: 'I congratulate you and myself and all else concerned on this successful issue of the negotiations, which have now lasted just a year.'

This treaty of March, 1855, was only preliminary to that for the ratification of which the Amir came in person to Peshawar the following year.

Towards the end of 1855 Dost Mahomed found himaelf in considerable difficulties, and appealed to us for assistance. A revolt had occurred at Herat, and a Persian army was preparing to besiege that fortress; the chiefs and people of Kandahar were disaffected; and the province of Balkh was threatened with invasion both by the King of Bokhara and by Turkoman hordes. The Amir looked upon Herat as an integral part of the Afghan dominions, and was very desirous of re-establishing[Page 30] his authority over that place and preventing its falling into the hands of the Persians; but he felt himself too weak to have any hope of success without help from us in men and money. It was, therefore, Dost Mahomed's interest to convince the British Government that the Shah had infringed the conditions of an engagement entered into with us in 1853, under which Persia abandoned all claim to Herat. The Amir thus hoped to establish a quarrel between England and Persia for his own benefit, and to secure our assistance against the latter power. To further this design, Dost Mahomed offered to come to Peshawar and consult with the British authorities. Edwardes was in favour of the proposed visit. John Lawrence was opposed to it, saying he did not think much good would result from such a meeting, because it could hardly be anticipated that the views of the Amir and the British Government would coincide, and if Dost Mahomed should fail to obtain what he wanted, his dissatisfaction would be a positive evil. The Governor-General admitted the force of these objections, but in the end considered that they should be set aside if the Amir was in earnest in desiring a consultation. 'A refusal or an evasion to comply with his wish,' Lord Dalhousie thought, 'might be misunderstood, and although a meeting might lead to disappointment and disagreement, it would, at any rate, put the relations of the British Government with the Amir, as regards Herat, upon a clear footing.'

War with Persia While this discussion was going on, the advance of a Persian army for the purpose of besieging Herat, coupled with the insults offered to the British flag at Teheran, led to the declaration of war between England and Persia. The Chief Commissioner was therefore directed to tell the Amir that he would be paid a periodical subsidy to aid him in carrying on hostile operations against Persia, subject to certain conditions. On receiving these instructions, the Chief Commissioner directed Edwardes to invite the Amir to an interview. Dost Mahomed accepted the invitation, but before the auspicious meeting could take place Lord Dalhousie had left India, and Lord Canning reigned in his stead. Lord Dalhousie resigned on the 29th February, 1856, after having filled the arduous and responsible position of Governor-General for no less than eight years, adding year by year fresh lustre to his splendid reputation.

1857 The first day of 1857 witnessed the meeting between the Amir of Kabul and the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab. The Amir's camp was pitched at the mouth of the Khyber Pass, and that of the Chief Commissioner on the plain near Jamrud. Barr's troop of Horse Artillery formed part of the escort, so I was in the midst of it all. On the occasion of the Amir's first visit to the English camp, there was a force present of upwards of 7,000 soldiers, including three regiments of British Infantry; the troops lined the road for more than a mile, and it was evident that their strength and soldierly appearance inspired the[Page 31] Amir and his followers with a very salutary feeling of awe and admiration.2

The result of the conferences between these two great personages was an agreement confirming the treaty of the year before. In addition, the Amir bound himself to keep up a certain number of regular troops for the defence of Afghanistan, so long as the war with Persia continued, in consideration of a monthly subsidy of Rs. 100,000 and a gift of 4,000 muskets. He also engaged to communicate to the Government of India any overtures he might receive from Persia, and he consented to allow British officers to visit certain parts of his dominions, either for the purpose of assisting his subjects against Persia, or to ascertain that the subsidy was properly applied.

The Advantage of the Amir's Friendship I have dwelt at some length on this treaty with Afghanistan, first, because the policy of which this was the outcome was, as I have already shown, initiated by my father; and, secondly, because I do not think it is generally understood how important to us were its results. Not only did it heal the wounds left open from the first Afghan war, but it relieved England of a great anxiety at a time when throughout the length and breadth of India there was distress, revolt, bloodshed, and bitter distrust of our Native troops. Dost Mahomed loyally held to his engagements during the troublous days of the Mutiny which so quickly followed this alliance, when, had he turned against us, we should assuredly have lost the Punjab; Delhi could never have been taken; in fact, I do not see how any part of the country north of Bengal could have been saved. Dost Mahomed's own people could not understand his attitude. They frequently came to him during the Mutiny, throwing their turbans at his feet, and praying him as a Mahomedan to seize that opportunity for destroying the 'infidels.' 'Hear the news from Delhi,' they urged; 'see the difficulties the Feringhis are in. Why don't you lead us on to take advantage of their weakness, and win back Peshawar?'3

But I am anticipating, and must return to my narrative.

The clause of the treaty which interested me personally was that relating to British officers being allowed to visit Afghanistan, to give effect to which a Mission was despatched to Kandahar. It consisted of three officers, the brothers Harry and Peter Lumsden, and Dr. Bellew, together with two of Edwardes's trusted Native Chiefs. The selection of Peter Lumsden as a member of this Mission again left the Deputy Assistant-Quartermaster-Generalship vacant, and I was a second time appointed to officiate in his absence.

Shortly afterwards the General of the division (General Reed) started on his tour of inspection, taking me with him as his staff officer. Jhelum was the first place we visited. Whether the sepoys had then any knowledge of what was so soon to happen is doubtful. If they[Page 32] had, there was no evidence that such was the case. Nothing could have been more proper or respectful than their behaviour; no crimes were reported, no complaints were made. The British officers, certainly, had not the slightest idea of the storm that was brewing, for they spoke in the warmest terms of their men.

From Jhelum we went to Rawal Pindi. John Lawrence happened to be in camp there at the time, and looked on at the General's inspection. At the conclusion of the parade he sent his secretary to ask me if I would like to be appointed to the Public Works Department. I respectfully declined the offer, though very grateful for its having been made. Some of my friends doubted the wisdom of my refusing a permanent civil appointment; but it meant having to give up soldiering, which I could not make up my mind to do, and though only officiating, I was already in the department to which of all others I wished to belong.

Nowshera was the last station we visited. It was the beginning of April, and getting rather hot for parading troops. I there met for the first time the present Commander-in-Chief in India, General Sir George White, who was then a subaltern in the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment.

I recollect the commanding officer of the 55th, the Native Infantry corps at this station, who had served all his life with clean-looking, closely-shaven Hindustanis, pointing with a look of contempt, not to say disgust, to some Sikhs (a certain proportion of whom had been under recent orders enlisted in regiments of Native Infantry), and expressing his regret that he could not get them to shave their beards and cut their hair. 'They quite spoil the look of my regiment,' he said. In less than two months' time the Hindustanis, of whom the Colonel was so proud, had broken into open mutiny; the despised Sikhs were the only men of the regiment who remained faithful; and the commanding officer, a devoted soldier who lived for his regiment, and who implored that his men might not have their arms taken away, as he had 'implicit confidence' in them, and would 'stake his life on their fidelity,' had blown his brains out because he found that confidence misplaced.

[plate 5]

Brigadier-General John Nicholson, C.B.


a painting by J.R. Dicksee
possession of the Rev. Canon Seymour.

John Nicholson
'A Pillar of Strength on the Frontier'
Towards the end of April I was ordered to report on the capabilities of Cherat (now well known to all who have been stationed at Peshawar) as a sanatorium for European soldiers. I spent two or three days surveying the hill and searching for water in the neighbourhood. It was not safe to remain on the top at night, so I used to return each evening to the plain below, where my tent was pitched. On one occasion I was surprised to find a camp had risen up during my absence quite close to my tent. I discovered that it belonged to Lieutenant-Colonel John Nicholson, the Deputy-Commissioner, who was on his tour of inspection, and very soon I received an invitation to dine with[Page 33] him, at which I was greatly pleased. John Nicholson was a name to conjure with in the Punjab. I had heard it mentioned with an amount of respect—indeed, awe—which no other name could excite, and I was all curiosity to see the man whose influence on the frontier was so great that his word was law to the refractory tribes amongst whom he lived. He had only lately arrived in Peshawar, having been transferred from Bannu, a difficult and troublesome district ruled by him as it had never been ruled before, and where he made such a reputation for himself that, while he was styled 'a pillar of strength on the frontier' by Lord Dalhousie, he was looked up to as a god by the Natives, who loved as much as they feared him. By some of them he was actually worshipped as a saint; they formed themselves into a sect, and called themselves 'Nicholseyns.' Nicholson impressed me more profoundly than any man I had ever met before, or have ever met since. I have never seen anyone like him. He was the beau-ideal of a soldier and a gentleman. His appearance was distinguished and commanding, with a sense of power about him which to my mind was the result of his having passed so much of his life amongst the wild and lawless tribesmen, with whom his authority was supreme. Intercourse with this man amongst men made me more eager than ever to remain on the frontier, and I was seized with ambition to follow in his footsteps. Had I never seen Nicholson again, I might have thought that the feelings with which he inspired me were to some extent the result of my imagination, excited by the astonishing stories I had heard of his power and influence; my admiration, however, for him was immeasurably strengthened when, a few weeks later, I served as his staff officer, and had opportunities of observing more closely his splendid soldierly qualities and the workings of his grand, simple mind.

It was the end of April when I returned to Peshawar from Cherat, and rapidly getting hot. On the strength of being a D.A.Q.M.G., I had moved into a better house than I had hitherto been able to afford, which I shared with Lieutenant Hovenden of the Engineers. We were just settling down and making ourselves comfortable for the long hot weather, when all our plans were upset by the breaking out of the Mutiny.

[Page 34]



First Tidings of the Mutiny
The first threatenings of coming trouble were heard in the early part of 1857. During the months of February, March, and April, rumours reached us at Peshawar of mysterious chupattis (unleavened cakes) being sent about the country with the object, it was alleged, of preparing the Natives for some forthcoming event. There was also an evident feeling of unrest and dissatisfaction in the minds of the sepoys. We heard that the 19th Native Infantry at Berhampur, a military station about 100 miles from Calcutta, had broken open the bells-of-arms,1 and forcibly taken possession of their muskets and ammunition; that a sepoy named Mangal Pandy,2 belonging to the 34th Native Infantry at Barrackpore, had attacked and severely wounded the Adjutant and Sergeant-Major of his regiment; that it was found necessary to disband the 19th on the 30th March, and the 34th on the 6th May; that bungalows had been burnt in several stations; and that the sepoys at the Schools of Musketry had objected to use the cartridges served out with the new rifles, because, it was asserted, they were greased with a mixture of cow's fat and lard, the one being as obnoxious to the prejudices of the Hindu as the other is to those of the Mussulman.

It seems strange on looking back that these many warnings should have passed almost unheeded, and that there should have been no suspicion amongst the officers serving with Native regiments that discontent was universal amongst the sepoys, and that a mutiny of the whole Bengal Army was imminent. But at that time the reliance on the fidelity of the Native troops was unbounded, and officers believed implicitly in the contentment and loyalty of their men. Their faith in them was extraordinary. Even after half the Native army had mutinied and many officers had been murdered, those belonging to the remaining regiments could not believe that their own particular men could be guilty of treachery.

At Peshawar there was not the slightest suspicion of the extent to which the evil had spread, and we were quite thunderstruck when, on the evening of the 11th May, as we were sitting at mess, the telegraph signaller rushed in breathless with excitement, a telegram in his hand, which proved to be a message from Delhi 'to all stations in the Punjab,' conveying the startling intelligence that a very serious outbreak had occurred at Meerut the previous evening, that some of the troopers from there had already reached Delhi, that the Native soldiers at the latter place had joined the mutineers, and that many officers and[Page 35] residents at both stations had been killed.

Prompt Action at Peshawar Lieutenant-Colonel Davidson, commanding the 16th Irregular Cavalry, who happened to be dining at mess that evening, was the first to recover from the state of consternation into which we were thrown by the reading of this telegram. He told us it was of the utmost importance that the Commissioner and the General should at once be put in possession of this astounding news, and at the same time impressed upon us the imperative necessity for keeping it secret.

Davidson then hurried off to the Commissioner, who with his deputy, Nicholson, lived within a stone's-throw of the mess. Edwardes drove at once to the General's house, while Nicholson came to our mess. He too pointed out to us the importance of preventing the news from getting about and of keeping it as long as possible from the Native soldiers.

We had at Peshawar three regiments of Native Cavalry and five of Native Infantry, not less than 5,000 men, while the strength of the two British regiments and the Artillery did not exceed 2,000. This European force was more than sufficient to cope with the eight Native corps, but in the event of any general disturbance amongst the Native troops, we had to calculate on the probability of their being joined by the 50,000 inhabitants of the city, and, indeed, by the entire population of the Peshawar valley; not to speak of the tribes all along the border, who were sure to rise.

It was an occasion for the gravest anxiety, and the delay of even a few hours in the sepoys becoming aware of the disastrous occurrences at Meerut and Delhi meant a great deal to us.

Fortunately for India, there were good men and true at Peshawar in those days, when hesitation and irresolution would have been fatal, and it is worthy of note that they were comparatively young men—Edwardes was thirty-seven, Nicholson thirty-five; Neville Chamberlain, the distinguished Commandant of the Punjab Frontier Force (who was hastily summoned from Kohat, where he happened to be on his tour of inspection), was thirty-seven; and the Brigadier, Sydney Cotton, though much older, being sixty-five, was not only exceptionally young for his years and full of energy and intelligence, but actually much younger than the average of General officers commanding stations in India.

At once, on hearing of the Mutiny, Edwardes, acting in unison with Nicholson, sent to the post-office and laid hands on all Native correspondence; the letters they thus secured showed but too plainly how necessary was this precaution. The number of seditious papers seized was alarmingly great; they were for the most part couched in figurative and enigmatical language, but it was quite sufficiently clear from them that every Native regiment in the garrison was more or less implicated and prepared to join the rebel movement.

A strong interest attaches to these letters, for they brought to light[Page 36] the true feeling of the Natives towards us at the time, and it was evident from them that the sepoys had really been made to believe that we intended to destroy their caste by various unholy devices, of which the issue of contaminating cartridges was one. The seeds of disaffection had been sown by agitators, who thought they saw an opportunity for realizing their hope of overthrowing our rule, maintained as it was by a mere handful of Europeans in the midst of a vast population of Asiatics. This feeling of antagonism, only guessed at before, was plainly revealed in these letters, never intended to meet the European eye. Some corps did not appear to be quite so guilty as others, but there could now be no doubt that all were tainted with disloyalty, and that none of the Hindustani troops could any longer be trusted.

In the afternoon of Tuesday, the 12th May, I received a note from the General commanding the division directing me to present myself at his house the following morning, which I accordingly did. Besides General Reed I found there the Brigadier, Sydney Cotton; the Commissioner, Herbert Edwardes; the Deputy Commissioner, John Nicholson; Brigadier Neville Chamberlain, and Captain Wright, Deputy Assistant-Adjutant-General, who, like myself, had been summoned to record the decisions that might be arrived at.

This meeting was a most momentous one, and I remember being greatly impressed with the calm and comprehensive view of the situation taken by Edwardes and Nicholson. They had already been in communication with the Chief Commissioner, and had, previous to the meeting, received a telegram from him approving generally of the several proposals they contemplated. John Lawrence also informed them that the authorities at Lahore had decided on disarming the Native troops at Mian Mir that very morning.

The problem to be solved was how the Punjab could best be made secure with the small force of British troops available—all told not more than 15,000, with 84 guns—against upwards of 65,000 Natives (of whom 42,000 were Hindustanis), with 62 guns.3 In all stations Native troops preponderated, and in some there were no European[Page 37] soldiers at all.

A Bold Policy Edwardes and Nicholson gave it as their opinion that the only chance of keeping the Punjab and the frontier quiet lay in trusting the Chiefs and people, and in endeavouring to induce them to side with us against the Hindustanis. They undertook to communicate, regarding the raising of levies and fresh troops, with their friends and acquaintances along the border, who had proved such staunch allies in 1848-49, when we were fighting with the Sikhs. How nobly these loyal men responded to the demand made upon them, and how splendidly the frontier and Punjab soldiers whom they brought to our assistance behaved, will be seen hereafter.

The Movable Column Amongst other matters of importance, it was proposed by those two able soldier-civilians, Edwardes and Nicholson, that General Reed, as the senior officer in the Punjab, should join the Chief Commissioner at Rawal Pindi, leaving Brigadier Cotton in command at Peshawar; that a Movable Column, composed of reliable troops, should be organized at some convenient place in the Punjab,4 prepared to move in any direction where its services might be required; that the Hindustani regiments[Page 38] should be scattered as much as possible, in order to prevent dangerous combinations; that a detachment of Punjab Infantry from Kohat should replace the Hindustani sepoys in the fort of Attock, which was a very important position, as it contained a magazine, and covered the passage of the Indus; and that a small guard of Pathan levies, under a tried and trusty frontier Native officer, should be placed in charge of the Attock ferry.

All these proposals were cordially and unanimously agreed to by the military authorities present.

The question of the command of the Movable Column was then discussed. It was considered essential that the officer selected should, in addition to other necessary qualifications, have considerable experience of the country, and an intimate knowledge of Native soldiers. It was no ordinary command. On the action of the Movable Column would depend, to a great extent, the maintenance of peace and order throughout the Punjab, and it was felt that, at such a crisis, the best man must be selected, irrespective of seniority. It was a position for which Cotton and Nicholson would have given much, and for which they were well qualified, but there was important work for them to do at Peshawar. Neville Chamberlain was available, and there was a general consensus of opinion that he should be appointed. It was necessary, however, to refer the matter to the Chief Commissioner, with a request that he would submit it for the orders of the Commander-in-Chief. This course was adopted, and in a few hours a reply was received from General Anson nominating Chamberlain to the command. My anxiety as to the Commander-in-Chief's decision was very considerable; for Brigadier Chamberlain, to my infinite delight and astonishment, had offered, in the event of his being appointed, to take me with him as his staff officer—the most wonderful piece of good fortune that could have come to me; my readers must imagine my feelings, for it is impossible for me to describe them. My most sanguine hopes seemed about to be more than realized; for though the serious aspect of affairs seemed to promise the chance of active service, I little thought that I should be lucky enough to be employed as the staff officer of such a distinguished soldier as Neville Chamberlain.

When the meeting was over I was ordered to take the several messages, which Wright and I had written out, to the telegraph office, and see them despatched myself; as they disclosed more or less the[Page 39] measures that had been decided upon, it was necessary to avoid any chance of their falling into the hands of Native clerks. One of the messages5 contained a summary of the proceedings of the council, and was addressed to the commanding officers of all stations in the Punjab, with the view of imparting confidence, and letting them know what steps were being taken for the protection of the British residents throughout the province. This duty having been carried out, I returned home in a not unpleasant frame of mind, for though the crisis was a grave one, the outlook gloomy, and the end doubtful, the excitement was great. There were stirring times in store for us, when every man's powers would be tested, and the hopefulness of youth inclined me to look only on the bright side of the situation.

An Annoying Occurrence My equanimity was somewhat disturbed later in the day by an occurrence which caused me a good deal of annoyance at the time, though it soon passed away. Nicholson came to my house and told me that the proceedings at the meeting that morning had in some unaccountable manner become known; and he added, much to my disgust, that it was thought I might perhaps have been guilty of the indiscretion of divulging them. I was very angry, for I had appreciated as much as anyone the immense importance of keeping the decisions arrived at perfectly secret; and I could not help showing something of the indignation I felt at its having been thought possible that I could betray the confidence reposed in me. I denied most positively having done so; upon which Nicholson suggested that we should proceed together to the telegraph office and see whether the information could have leaked out from there. The signaller was a mere boy, and Nicholson's imposing presence and austere manner were quite too much for him; he was completely cowed, and, after a few hesitating denials, he admitted having satisfied the curiosity of a friend who had inquired[Page 40] of him how the authorities intended to deal with the crisis. This was enough, and I was cleared. The result to me of this unpleasant incident was a delightful increase of intimacy with the man for whom above all others I had the greatest admiration and most profound respect. As if to make up for his momentary injustice, Nicholson was kinder to me than ever, and I felt I had gained in him a firm and constant friend. So ended that eventful day.

At that time it was the custom for a staff officer, who had charge of any Government property, to have a guard of Native soldiers in charge of his house. That night it happened that my guard was furnished by the 64th Native Infantry, a regiment with a particularly bad reputation, and which had, in order to give effect to the measures proposed at the morning's meeting, been ordered to leave Peshawar and proceed to the outposts. The intercepted letters showed that this regiment was on the point of mutinying, and I could not help feeling, as I lay down on my bed, which, as usual in the hot weather, was placed in the verandah for the sake of coolness, how completely I was at the mercy of the sentry who walked up and down within a few feet of me. Fortunately, he was not aware that his regiment was suspected, and could not know the reason for the sudden order to march, or my career might have been ended then and there.

I Leave Peshawar Within a week from that time I had started for Rawal Pindi to be ready to join the Movable Column, which was to be formed at Wazirabad as soon as the troops could be got together. I took with me only just enough kit for a hot-weather march, and left everything standing in my house just as it was, little thinking that I should never return to it or be quartered in Peshawar again.



First Symptoms of Disaffection
Before proceeding with the account of my experiences with the Movable Column, and the subsequent operations for the suppression of the rebellion, in which I was fortunate enough to take part, it will, I think, be advisable, for the better understanding of the whole situation, to devote a little time to the consideration of the progress of events from the first appearance of symptoms of disaffection in Lower Bengal, to the crisis I have just been describing, when Peshawar became involved in the general disturbance.

The substitution of a new rifle for the old musket with which the sepoys had hitherto been armed entailed a different kind of drill; and in order that this drill should be speedily learned by the whole Native army, depots were formed at convenient places for the instruction of[Page 41] selected men from every corps, who, on becoming proficient, were to return and instruct their own regiments. One of these depots was at Dum-Dum, and as early as the 24th January General Hearsay, commanding the Presidency division, reported to Head-Quarters that he perceived an 'unpleasant feeling' amongst the Native soldiers learning the new drill, caused by a belief instilled into them 'by designing persons, most likely Brahmins,' that they were to be forced to embrace Christianity, and that for the furtherance of this object the new ball-cartridges received from the arsenal at Fort William were greased with the fat of pigs and cows, with the intention of violating the religious prejudices and destroying the caste of those who would have to bite them.

A little later various acts of incendiarism took place at other stations in the command, and Hearsay became more than ever convinced that there was grave dissatisfaction amongst the troops. He therefore ordered a Court of Inquiry to be held to enable him to ascertain the real cause of the ill-feeling which so evidently existed.

In the General's opinion, the statements recorded in the proceedings of this Court clearly established the fact, that the Native officers and sepoys were undoubtedly imbued with the belief that an unholy mixture of cow's fat and lard had been used in the manufacture of the new cartridge, and he recommended that the rifle ammunition should in future be made up with the same description of paper that had always been used for the musket-cartridge, which, he conceived, would put an end to their suspicions and uneasiness.

The General, however, was told in reply that it was impossible to use the old paper for the new cartridge, as the bore of the rifle being much smaller than that of the musket, thinner paper was indispensable; and he was directed to inform the sepoys that the new paper, though tougher and less bulky, was made of exactly the same material as the old. With respect to the lubricating mixture, he was to announce that the Government had authorized the preparation of a grease, composed of wax and oil, which was to be made up and applied to the cartridges by the men themselves. These orders were carefully explained to the Native troops, but without any good result. Their religious objection to the new cartridge was not removed, and they frankly acknowledged their fears.

On the 6th February an officer of the 34th Native Infantry at Barrackpore was informed by a sepoy of his company that the four Native regiments at that station, fearing that they would be forced to destroy their caste and become Christians, had determined to rise against their officers, and when they had plundered and burned their bungalows, to proceed to Calcutta and try to seize Fort William, or, if that proved beyond their powers, to take possession of the treasury.

This circumstance was reported to Government by General Hearsay[Page 42] on the 11th February. In the same letter he said, 'We have at Barrackpore been living upon a mine ready for explosion,' and he reported a story which had reached him from Dum-Dum of a sepoy, on his way to cook his food with his lota1 full of water, meeting a low-caste man belonging to the arsenal where the Enfield cartridges were being manufactured. This man, it was said, asked the sepoy to allow him to drink from his lota. The sepoy, a Brahmin, refused, saying: 'I have scoured my lota; you will defile it by your touch.' The low-caste man replied: 'You think much of your caste, but wait a little: the Sahib-logue2 will make you bite cartridges soaked in cow's fat, and then where will your caste be?' The sepoy no doubt believed the man, and told his comrades what was about to happen, and the report rapidly spread to other stations.

Outbreak at Berhampur Early in March several of the Hindu sepoys belonging to the Dum-Dum School of Musketry expressed their unwillingness to bite the new cartridge, and the Commandant proposed that the drill should be altered so as to admit of the cartridge being torn instead of bitten. Hearsay supported the proposal, remarking that the new mode of loading need not be made to appear as a concession to agitation, but as part of the drill for the new weapon. Events, however, moved so quickly that, before sanction could be received to this suggestion, the troops at Berhampur had broken into open mutiny. They refused to receive their ammunition, on the ground of its being polluted, even after it was explained to them that they were not being given the new cartridges, but those which had been made up in the regiment a year before. That night they broke open the bells-of-arms, and carried off their muskets.

The Government then became aware that prompt action was necessary. They decided that such open mutiny could not be excused on the grounds of religious scruples, and ordered the regiment to be disbanded. As Berhampur was somewhat isolated, and some distance from European troops, it was arranged that the disbandment should take place at the Head-Quarters of the Presidency division, and the 19th Native Infantry was accordingly ordered to march to Barrackpore.

The revolt of this regiment brought forcibly before Lord Canning and his advisers the perilous position of Lower Bengal, owing to the paucity of European troops. Well may the authorities have been startled, for between Calcutta and Meerut, a distance of 900 miles, there were only four regiments of British infantry and a few scattered Artillerymen, numbering in all less than 5,000, while the Native troops amounted to upwards of 55,000. One of the four Infantry regiments was at Fort William; but as only a portion of it could be spared for the disbandment[Page 43] of the 19th, a special steamer was despatched to Rangoon to bring over the 84th Foot. This regiment reached Calcutta on the 20th March, and on the 31st the disbandment of the mutinous Native Infantry regiment was carried out. The men were paid up and escorted across the river Hughly, whence they were allowed to proceed to their homes. They behaved in the most orderly manner on the march from Berhampur and throughout the proceedings, and as they left the parade-ground they cheered General Hearsay, and wished him a long life, apparently well pleased at being let off so easily.

Mangal Pandy At Barrackpore itself an outbreak had occurred two days before in the 34th Native Infantry. As I have already related, the sepoy, Mangal Pandy, shot at the sergeant-major.3 The Adjutant, on hearing what had happened, galloped to the parade-ground. As he neared the quarter-guard he was fired at, and his horse shot by the mutineer, who then badly wounded him with a sword as he was trying to disentangle himself from the fallen animal. The General now appeared on the scene, and, instantly grasping the position of affairs, rode straight at Mangal Pandy, who stood at bay with his musket loaded, ready to receive him. There was a shot, the whistle of a bullet, and a man fell to the ground—but not the General; it was the fanatic sepoy himself, who at the last moment had discharged the contents of his musket into his own breast! The wretched man had been worked up to a pitch of madness by the sepoys of his regiment, who stood by while he attacked the Adjutant, and would have allowed him to kill their Commander, but they were too great cowards to back him up openly. Mangal Pandy was not dead. He was taken to the hospital, and eventually was tried by a Court-Martial composed of Native officers, sentenced to death, and hanged in the presence of all the troops at Barrackpore. The Native officer in command of the quarter-guard met the same fate, and the regiment was then disbanded.

The orders for the disbandment of the 19th and 34th Native Infantry were directed to be read to every Native corps in the service, and it was hoped that the quick retribution which had overtaken these regiments would check the spirit of mutiny throughout the army. For a time this hope appeared to be justified. Satisfactory reports were received from different parts of Bengal, and anything like a serious or general outbreak was certainly not contemplated by the authorities. General Hearsay reported to Government that he had directed the European troops, temporarily located at Barrackpore, to return to their respective cantonments, as he did not think it probable that he would require their presence again. About the same time Sir John Lawrence, after visiting the Musketry School at Sialkot, wrote hopefully to the Governor-General of the aspect of affairs in the Punjab. Lord Canning[Page 44] and his advisers, owing to these favourable reports, were on the point of sending the 84th Foot back to Burma, when news reached them from Upper India of the calamitous occurrences at Meerut and Delhi.

The Meerut division was commanded by Major-General Hewitt, an officer of fifty years' service, and the station of Meerut by Brigadier Archdale Wilson, Commandant of the Bengal Artillery. The garrison consisted of the 6th Dragoon Guards, a troop of Horse Artillery, a battery of Field Artillery, a company of Foot Artillery, the 1st Battalion 60th Rifles, and three Native corps—the 3rd Light Cavalry, and the 11th and 20th Native Infantry.

Towards the end of April incendiary fires began to take place, and the Native soldiers evinced more or less disrespect in their manner towards their officers. These signs of disaffection were followed by the refusal of some of the troopers of the 3rd Light Cavalry to receive their cartridges, although the commanding officer carefully explained to them that they were not the new cartridges, but the very same they had always used, and that according to the new drill they were not required to bite them when loading their carbines.

A Court of Inquiry was held to investigate the matter, composed entirely of Native officers, three of whom belonged to the offending regiment. The verdict of the Court was that no adequate cause could be assigned for the disobedience of orders in refusing to receive and use the cartridges that were served out. 'The only conclusion the Court can arrive at in regard to this point is that a report seems to have got abroad which in some vague form attaches suspicion of impurity to the materials used for making these cartridges, but the Court are unanimously of opinion that there is nothing whatever objectionable in the cartridges of the 3rd Regiment Light Cavalry, and that they may be freely received and used as heretofore without in the slightest degree affecting any religious scruple of either a Hindu or Mussulman, and if any pretence contrary to that is urged, that it must be false.' This opinion, it must be remembered, was the opinion of Natives, not Europeans, and was given only sixteen days before the outbreak occurred at Meerut.

Court-Martial at Meerut After carefully reviewing the evidence brought before the Court, and considering the opinion expressed by the Native officers who composed it, the Commander-in-Chief decided to try the eighty-five men who had refused to receive the cartridges by a General Court-Martial composed entirely of their own countrymen. The Court was formed of six Mahomedans and nine Hindus, six Native officers being brought over from Delhi for the purpose.

The prisoners were tried on the 8th May, found guilty, and sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for ten years.

The following morning there was a parade of the whole of the Meerut garrison, and the finding and sentence of the Court were read to the[Page 45] men. The eighty-five troopers were then stripped of their uniform and fetters were fastened on their ankles. As each culprit was marched forward, he called on his comrades to rescue him, but no response came from the ranks; and when the ceremony was finished the prisoners were marched down the line and escorted to the gaol. In his report of the parade to Army Head-Quarters, General Hewitt stated that 'the majority of the prisoners seemed to feel acutely the degradation to which their folly and insubordination had brought them. The remainder of the troops are behaving steady and soldier-like.'

The action of the Meerut authorities in putting the prisoners in irons on the parade-ground, in the presence of their regiment, before being made over to the civil power, met with the disapproval of the Commander-in-Chief and the Governor-General. The former expressed his regret at the unusual procedure. The latter was more pronounced, and thus expressed himself: 'The riveting of the men's fetters on parade, occupying, as it did, several hours, in the presence of many who were already ill-disposed and many who believed in the cartridge fable, must have stung the brigade to the quick. The consigning the eighty-five prisoners after such a ceremony to gaol with no other than a Native guard over them was folly that is inconceivable.'

The procedure was no doubt unusual, and it certainly was most imprudent, under the circumstances, to trust the gaol to a Native guard. I think also, considering the number of the prisoners, and the length of time necessary for riveting the fetters, that it was not judicious to subject the troops to such a severe and protracted trial of their nerves and patience; but, before acquiescing in Lord Canning's sweeping condemnation, it should be considered that the object of the punishment was to produce a deterrent effect on those who were likely to follow the bad example that had been set them, and as the offence of the troopers had been public and ostentatious, General Hewitt no doubt thought it right to make the punishment as marked and public as possible.

The next day was Sunday, and outwardly the cantonment of Meerut had assumed its usual appearance of Sabbath calm; but there was an undercurrent of unrest—there was considerable commotion in the Native bazaars, which were unusually crowded, and had not the European officers been blinded by over-confidence in their men, signs might have been perceived amongst the Native soldiers of preparation for some untoward event.

Mutiny at Meerut It was late in the day before the storm burst. The Chaplain of Meerut tells us that he was about to start with his wife for evening service, when the Native nurse warned them of coming danger, beseeching her mistress to remain indoors, and, on being asked to explain, saying there would be a fight with the sepoys. The idea seemed incredible, and the Chaplain would have paid no attention to the warning had not his wife been greatly alarmed. At her earnest request[Page 46] he took his two children with them in the carriage, instead of leaving them in the house with the ayah, as had been intended. It was soon apparent that the ayah had not spoken without reason, for before the church was reached sounds of musketry were heard and columns of smoke were seen rising above the quarter occupied by the Native troops. As the Chaplain arrived at the church enclosure, the buglers of the 60th Rifles, who were drawn up ready to enter the church, sounded the 'alarm' and the 'assembly.' The parade was dismissed, and as the British soldiers rushed to the barracks for their arms and ammunition, the congregation rapidly dispersed, some to their homes, others to seek safety in the nearest quarter-guard.

It was the custom before the Mutiny for our soldiers to attend Divine Service unarmed, save with their side-arms. The Native soldiers were aware of this, and they no doubt calculated on the 60th Rifles being safe and almost defenceless inside the church as soon as the bells ceased tolling. What they were not aware of was the fact that, owing to the lengthening days and the increasing heat, the evening church parade had been ordered half an hour later than on the previous Sunday. The mutineers therefore showed their hand half an hour too soon, and as they galloped down the 60th Rifles lines they came upon the men fully armed and rapidly falling in. Being thus disappointed in their hope of surprising the white soldiers, the 3rd Cavalry proceeded without a moment's delay to the gaol, broke into the cells, and released their eighty-five comrades and all the other prisoners, about 1,200 in number.

The Work of Destruction While this was going on, the two Native Infantry regiments assembled on their respective parade-grounds in wild excitement, discharging their muskets at random, and setting fire to their own huts. The British officers, hearing the tumult, hastened to their lines and did their best to restore order, but in vain. The sepoys had gone too far, and were absolutely deaf to threats and entreaties. They did not attack their own officers, but warned them to get away, telling them the Company's 'raj'4 was at an end. Their clemency, however, did not extend to officers of other regiments.

Colonel Finnis, who had served forty years with the sepoys, and firmly believed in their loyalty, was the first victim; he fell riddled with bullets from a volley fired by the 20th, while exhorting the men of his own regiment (the 11th) to be true to their salt. The work of destruction then began in earnest, in which the population from the bazaars and the neighbouring villages eagerly joined, for (as the Commissioner reported) they were armed and ready for the onslaught before the sepoys commenced the attack, plainly showing how perfectly they were aware of what was about to happen. They poured forth in thousands from every direction, and in a surprisingly short time almost every bungalow belonging to a British officer serving with Native troops[Page 47] was gutted and burnt. Besides Colonel Finnis, seven officers, three officers' wives, two children, and every stray European man, woman and child in the outskirts of the cantonments were massacred.

It was now time for the sepoys to think of themselves. They had thrown off all allegiance to the Sarkar;5 they had been guilty of murder, robbery, and incendiarism, and they knew that retribution must speedily overtake them if they remained at Meerut; they therefore lost no time in making their escape towards Delhi. They had had ample opportunity for consultation with the Native officers from that station, who had come to Meerut as members of the Court-Martial on the men of the 3rd Light Cavalry, and they knew perfectly well that the troops at Delhi were prepared to help them to seize the magazine and resuscitate the old Moghul dynasty. 'To Delhi! To Delhi!' was their cry, and off they went, leaving naught behind them in their lines but the smouldering fires of their officers' houses and the lifeless bodies of their English victims.

Want of Energy But it will be asked, Where were the British troops? Where indeed? On the alarm being given, the British troops got under arms 'in an incredibly short time,' but there was unaccountable delay in marching them to the spot where their help was so greatly needed. The Carabineers occupied barracks within a few hundred yards of the Native Infantry lines, the 60th Rifles were only about a mile and a half away, and the Artillery lay just beyond the 60th. The Brigadier (Wilson) despatched one company of the Rifles to guard the treasury, another he left to protect the barracks, and with the remainder, accompanied by the Carabineers and Artillery, he leisurely proceeded towards the Native Infantry lines. It was almost dark when he arrived, but there was light enough to discern, from the ruined houses and the dead bodies of the murdered officers lying about, in what a merciless spirit the revolt had been perpetrated. A few shots were fired from behind the burning huts, but not a single living being was visible, except two or three Native troopers who were dimly perceptible in the distance coming from the direction of the gaol, and it was evident that the sepoys as a body had vanished. But whither? A lengthened discussion took place as to what was the best course to pursue, which only resulted in the troops being marched back to their own end of the cantonment and bivouacking on the mall for the night. The General and Brigadier, misled by the tumult in the city, which they could distinctly hear, came to the conclusion that the sepoys had congregated within its walls and might shortly be expected to attack that part of the station where the European residents chiefly lived. It was not discovered till the next morning that all three Native regiments had made for Delhi.

It is easy to be wise after the event, but one cannot but feel that[Page 48] there was unaccountable, if not culpable, want of energy displayed by the Meerut authorities on this disastrous occasion. The officer in command was afterwards severely censured for not acting with sufficient promptitude on first hearing of the outbreak; for not trying to find out where the mutineers had gone; and for not endeavouring to overtake them before they reached Delhi. The Government of India finally signified their disapproval by removing General Hewitt from his command.

Wilson, the Brigadier, like everyone else at Meerut, appears to have been completely taken by surprise. But why this should have been the case, after the warning that had been given by the mutinous conduct of the 3rd Cavalry, and why no steps should have been taken after the exasperating parade on the 9th to guard against a possible, if not probable, outbreak, is difficult to understand; and can only be accounted for by that blind faith in the Native soldier, and disbelief in his intention or ability to revolt, which led to such unfortunate results all over India.

The following story will exemplify how completely the authorities at Meerut were blinded by this misplaced confidence. On the afternoon of the 9th the British officers of the 3rd Light Cavalry went to the gaol to pay up the prisoners belonging to their regiment. When Lieutenant Hugh Gough,6 who was one of these officers, returned to his house, a Hindu Native officer, belonging to the troop Gough was temporarily commanding, told him that the men had determined to rescue their comrades, and that the Native guard over the gaol had promised to help them. Gough went at once to his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Carmichael Smyth, and reported what he had heard, but the Colonel pooh-poohed the idea as ridiculous, and told Gough he must not give credence to anything so monstrous.

Later in the day Gough met Brigadier Wilson and told him of the warning which had been given to him, without, however, producing any impression; the information was received with the same contemptuous disbelief displayed by Colonel Carmichael Smyth.

The following day (Sunday), late in the afternoon, the same Native officer, attended by two troopers, galloped to Gough's house, shouting to him that the hala7 had begun, and that the Native Infantry were firing on their officers. Gough mounted his horse, and, accompanied by the three Cavalry soldiers, proceeded as quickly as possible to the Infantry parade-ground, where he arrived just as the wild scene of excitement and confusion I have before described was at its height. The sepoys, some in uniform, some in their own Native clothes, were rushing about in the maddest disorder, yelling, shouting, and dancing as if possessed, while the flames from the burning huts shed a lurid[Page 49] light on the demoniacal proceedings.

Hugh Gough's Experiences When Gough's party appeared in sight, the sepoys called to the three troopers to get out of the way, as they wanted to shoot the sahib. No notice being taken of this warning, they fired straight at the whole party, but without hitting anyone. Gough, seeing things had gone too far for him to do any good, rode off with his little escort to his own lines, where he found the men busy saddling their horses, and helping themselves to ammunition from the regimental magazine, which they had broken open. He endeavoured in vain to allay the excitement; one or two shots were fired at him by recruits, but no determined attempt was made to take his life, and at last the Native officers combined to force him away, saying they could no longer answer for his safety.

It was then all but dark. Gough rode off towards the European lines, still accompanied by his trusty Native escort, and on his way came upon an enormous crowd of people from the bazaar, armed with swords, sticks, and anything they could get hold of, who tried to stop him. Through these he charged, closely followed by the Native officer and two troopers, who did not leave him until he was within sight of the Artillery mess. Then they pulled up, and said they could go no further. Gough did all he could to persuade them to remain with him, but to no purpose. They told him it was impossible for them to separate themselves from their friends and relations, and making the officer they had so carefully protected a respectful salaam, they rode off to join their mutinous comrades. Gough never heard of them again, though he tried hard to trace what had become of the men who proved themselves such 'friends in need.'

However much the authorities at Meerut deserved to be censured for their dilatoriness in dealing with the revolt in the first instance, and their lack of energy in not trying to discover in what direction the mutineers had gone, I doubt whether anything would have been gained by following them up, or whether it would have been possible to overtake them before they reached Delhi. Only a very few European Cavalry were available for pursuit, for the Carabineers, having lately arrived in India, were composed mainly of recruits still in the riding-school, and their horses for the most part were quite unbroken. These few, with the six Horse Artillery guns, might have been despatched; but the mutineers had a considerable start, the Cavalry could not have been overtaken, and as soon as the Infantry became aware that they were being followed, they would have scattered themselves over the country, the features of which were familiar to them, and, favoured by the darkness, could have defied pursuit. Delhi is forty miles from Meerut, and it would not have been possible for the 60th Rifles, marching in the terrible heat of the month of May, to have reached that place before the next evening (the 11th), and, as was afterwards ascertained, the work of murder and devastation there began on the morning of that[Page 50] day. The three Native Infantry regiments and the battery of Artillery stationed at Delhi were prepared to join the insurgent troopers from Meerut directly they arrived. The magazine, with its vast stores of war material, was in the hands of the King, and the 150,000 inhabitants of the city were ready to assist in the massacre of the white men and women, and the destruction of their property.

Nothing Could Arrest the Mutiny After careful consideration of all the circumstances of the revolt at Meerut, I have come to the conclusion that it would have been futile to have sent the small body of mounted troops available in pursuit of the mutineers on the night of the 10th May, and that, considering the state of feeling throughout the Native Army, no action, however prompt, on the part of the Meerut authorities could have arrested the Mutiny. The sepoys had determined to throw off their allegiance to the British Government, and the when and the how were merely questions of time and opportunity.



General Anson
While the events I have recounted were taking place, the Commander-in-Chief and the Head-Quarters staff were on their way up country inspecting the troops at the various stations en route to Simla, at which place it had been arranged that the summer of 1857 was to be spent. The Commander-in-Chief in India at that time was General the Hon. George Anson, an officer of forty-three years' service, but without much Indian experience, having been only four years in the country. He was an able, intelligent man, an excellent judge of character, a great authority on whist and on horses, and he was well known in London society, which was somewhat surprised when he accepted an appointment in India—the command of the Meerut division. He did not, however, remain long in that position, for he was soon given the command of the Madras Army, and a year and a half later became Commander-in-Chief in India. General Anson was present at Waterloo as an Ensign, but had seen no service afterwards, and until he arrived in India had held no high appointment.

When the Commander-in-Chief left Calcutta the previous autumn, all was apparently quiet in the Native army. He visited the principal military stations, amongst others Meerut and Delhi, and although reports of an uneasy feeling amongst the Native troops in the Presidency division had reached him from time to time, it was not until he arrived at Umballa, about the middle of March, that these reports were confirmed by personal communication with the sepoys attending the School of Musketry which had been formed at that station.

On the occasion of the Commander-in-Chief's inspection of the School,[Page 51] he learnt from the men of the various regiments under instruction how strongly opposed they were to using a cartridge which they believed to be injurious to their caste. Anson listened attentively to all the sepoys had to say, and then explained to them in a manly, sensible speech, that the old cartridge was not suited to the rifle about to be introduced. A new cartridge had, therefore, to be made; but they must not listen to any foolish rumour as to its being designed to destroy their caste. He assured them, 'on the honour of a soldier like themselves,' that it had never been, and never could be, the policy of the British Government to coerce the religious feeling of either the military or the civil population of India, or to interfere in any way with their caste or customs. He told the Native officers to do all in their power to allay the men's unfounded fears, and called upon them to prove themselves worthy of the high character they had hitherto maintained; he concluded by warning all ranks that the Government were determined not to yield to insubordination, which would be visited with the severest punishment.

The demeanour of the sepoys was most respectful, and when the parade was over they expressed their high sense of the Commander-in-Chief's goodness. They declared that he had removed their own objections, but that the story was universally believed by their countrymen and relations, and if they were to use the cartridge they must become social outcasts.

General Anson, feeling that the doubts and anxieties of the men with regard to the use of the new cartridges were by no means imaginary, suspended their issue until a special report had been prepared as to the composition of the paper in which they were wrapped.1

Having thus done all that he could at the time to allay any feeling[Page 52] of uneasiness, and hoping that the news of the disbandment of the 19th Native Infantry would check the spirit of insubordination, General Anson continued his journey to Simla, that beautiful place in the Himalayas, 7,000 feet above the sea, which has since become the seat of the Government of India and Army Head-Quarters during the hot weather months.

The News Reaches Simla The Commander-in-Chief had been at Simla rather more than a month, when, on the afternoon of Tuesday, the 12th May, an Aide-de-camp galloped in from Umballa (the Head-Quarters station of the Sirhind division), distant eighty miles, bringing with him a copy of the telegraphic message which had been despatched from Delhi the previous day to 'all stations in the Punjab,' and which had caused such consternation at Peshawar on the evening of the 11th May.

Sir Henry Barnard, commanding the Sirhind division, desired the Aide-de-camp (his own son) to inform the Commander-in-Chief that the temper of the three Native regiments at Umballa was more than doubtful, and that it seemed advisable that the three regiments of British Infantry stationed in the hills near Simla should be ordered at once to Umballa. So urgent did this seem to Barnard, that, in anticipation of sanction from the Commander-in-Chief, he told his son to warn the 75th Foot as he passed through Kasauli to be prepared for an immediate move.

Anson Loses No Time General Anson at once saw the necessity for taking prompt action. That same afternoon he despatched an Aide-de-camp to Kasauli to order the 75th to proceed without delay to Umballa, and the 1st Bengal Fusiliers at Dagshai to follow the 75th as soon as carriage could be collected; also to warn the 2nd Bengal Fusiliers at Subathu to be ready to move. Expresses were sent at the same [time] to Ferozepore and Jullundur directing that a European guard should be placed in charge of the magazine at the former place, and a detachment of European Infantry thrown into the fort of Philour from the latter. The confidence reposed in the Native army before the Mutiny was so great that these two important magazines, like almost all the arsenals and magazines in India, were guarded by Native soldiers, and subsequent events proved that, but for General Anson's timely precautions, the mutineers must have obtained possession of the magazines at Ferozepore and Philour.2

Anson had not long to wait before he received confirmation of the[Page 53] alarming news brought by General Barnard's son. The very next afternoon a letter arrived from Meerut giving an account of the outbreak on the 10th, and a few particulars of what had occurred at Delhi. The Commander-in-Chief immediately decided on proceeding to Umballa, to superintend personally the organization of the force which, as he rightly judged, would have to be sent to Delhi. There was no hesitation on General Anson's part, or delay in issuing the necessary orders.3 The 2nd Bengal Fusiliers were directed to march to Umballa, and an Artillery officer was sent express to Philour with instructions for a third-class siege-train to be got ready, and for reserve Artillery and Infantry ammunition to be despatched to Umballa. Orders were also issued for the Nasiri battalion, stationed at Jutog, near Simla, and for the company of Native Artillery at Kangra and Nurpur4 to march with all expedition to Philour, for the purpose of accompanying the siege-train; and for the Sirmur battalion of Gurkhas at Dehra Dun, and the Sappers and Miners at Rurki, to proceed to Meerut.

Having thus pressed forward the measures for the suppression of the revolt which to him seemed most urgent, General Anson left Simla early on the 14th May, within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the first news of the outbreak, and reached Umballa the following morning. His last act at Simla was to draft a circular which he hoped would have the effect of allaying excitement in the Native army.

The report which Sir Henry Barnard had to make to the Chief on his arrival at Umballa was not reassuring. The troops at that station consisted of Her Majesty's 9th Lancers, two troops of Horse Artillery, the 4th Bengal Light Cavalry, and two regiments of Native Infantry. The 75th Foot and 1st Bengal Fusiliers had just marched in with only thirty and seventy rounds of ammunition per man, respectively, and (from want of carriage) without tents or baggage. The Commissariat and Medical Departments were totally unprepared to meet the requirements of a force suddenly ordered to take the field; there were no doolies for the sick; supplies were difficult to collect, for the bazaars were partially deserted; there was a scarcity of contractors, and no[Page 54] ammunition was available nearer than Philour, eighty miles off.

At Delhi all the Europeans who had not escaped had been massacred, and the city had been taken possession of by the Native garrison and the mutinous troops from Meerut in the name of the old King.

At Meerut the European troops were entrenching themselves; the surrounding district was in the most complete disorder, and the civil courts powerless.

At Umballa and Jullundur, although the presence of European troops had hitherto kept the Native regiments from open mutiny, it was evident that they were not in the least to be depended upon.

At Ferozepore an aggravated revolt had occurred, and at Lahore it had been found necessary to disarm all the Native troops.

From below Meerut there was no intelligence whatever, but it seemed more than probable that the spirit of rebellion had broken out in many stations, and later this was known to be the case.

To add to the Commander-in-Chief's anxieties, it was reported that the Nasiri battalion at Jutog had got out of hand for a time and refused to march to Philour, while a detachment of the same corps at Kasauli plundered the treasury, rendering it necessary to send back 100 men of the 75th Foot to reinforce the depot at that place, where a large number of European soldiers' families were collected.

The behaviour of the Gurkhas gave rise to a panic at Simla, which, however, did not last long. Lord William Hay,5 who was Deputy-Commissioner at the time, induced most of the ladies, with their children, to seek a temporary asylum with the Raja of Kiunthal.6 Hay himself managed to keep Simla quiet, and the men of the Nasiri battalion coming to their senses, order was restored throughout the hills. The money taken from the Kasauli treasury was nearly all voluntarily given up, and before the year was out the battalion did us good service.

A Long List of Troubles It was a long list of troubles that was placed before the Commander-in-Chief. Disturbing as they all were, each requiring prompt and special action, there was one amongst them which stood out in bold relief—the situation at Delhi; and to wrest that stronghold from the hands of the mutineers was, General Anson conceived, his most pressing obligation. But could it be done with the means at his disposal? He thought not; and in this opinion he was supported by the senior officers at Umballa, with whom the question was anxiously discussed at a conference held at Sir Henry Barnard's house on the 16th May.7 It was nevertheless determined to push on to Delhi, and General Hewitt[Page 55] was asked what force he could spare from Meerut to co-operate with the Umballa column. He was warned that time was an object, and that the 23rd May was the date on which his troops would probably be required to start. All details were carefully considered. The first difficulty to be overcome was the want of carriage. No organized system of transport—one of the most essential requirements of an efficient army—existed, and, owing to the restlessness and uncertainty which prevailed throughout the country, the civil authorities were unable to collect carts and camels with the usual rapidity.8

John Lawrence That afternoon General Anson received a letter from Sir John Lawrence urging the importance of an immediate advance on Delhi, and giving an outline of the measures he proposed to adopt in the Punjab. He asked the Commander-in-Chief to give a general sanction to the arrangements, and concluded with these words: "I consider this to be the greatest crisis which has ever occurred in India. Our European force is so small that, unless effectively handled in the outset, and brought to bear, it will prove unequal to the emergency. But with vigour and promptitude, under the blessing of God, it will prove irresistible."

Anson naturally hesitated to advance with an inefficient and only partially equipped force against a strongly-fortified city with an immense armed population, defended by many thousand desperate mutineers, and in his reply (dated the 17th May) he put the case plainly before Sir John Lawrence. He pointed out that the Europeans were without tents; that there were no guns at Umballa or Meerut heavier than six or nine pounders with which to batter down the walls of Delhi; that the required amount of carriage could not be provided in less than sixteen or twenty days; and that the three Native corps at Umballa could not be depended upon. He asked Sir John whether he considered 'it would be prudent to risk the small European force we have here in an enterprise against Delhi,' and he wrote: 'My own view of the state of things now is, by carefully collecting our resources, having got rid of the bad materials which we cannot trust, and having supplied their places with others of a better sort, it would not be very long before we could proceed, without a chance of failure, in whatever direction we might please.' Adding, 'this is now the opinion of all here whom I have consulted—the Major-General and Brigadier, the Adjutant-General, Quartermaster-General and Commissary-General.' Anson concluded his letter with the following words: 'It would give me great satisfaction to have your views upon the present crisis, for I would[Page 56] trust to them more than to my experience.'

John Lawrence, who was straining every nerve to check the Mutiny and prevent a general rising of the population, was impatient at the idea of delay, and lost no time in giving Anson his opinion. He telegraphed it briefly on the 20th, and the following day he wrote to the effect that he knew Delhi well, having been stationed there for nearly thirteen years, and it seemed incredible to him that mutineers could hold and defend it; his belief was 'that, with good management on the part of the civil officers, it would open its gates on the approach of our troops.' He admitted that 'on military principles, in the present state of affairs, it may not be expedient to advance on Delhi until the Meerut force is prepared to act.' But he protested against European soldiers being 'cooped up in their cantonments, tamely awaiting the progress of events.' He went on to say: 'Pray only reflect on the whole history of India. Where have we failed when we acted vigorously? Where have we succeeded when guided by timid counsels? Clive with 1,200 men fought at Plassy, in opposition to the advice of his leading officers, beat 40,000 men, and conquered Bengal.'

That Sir John Lawrence greatly under-estimated the difficulties which Anson had to overcome we now know. Delhi did not open its gates on our approach, but for more than three months defied all our efforts to capture it. And in his eagerness to get the Commander-in-Chief to think as he did, the resolute Chief Commissioner forgot that Clive—not with 1,200 men, but with 3,000 disciplined troops—had to deal in the open field with an enemy little better than a rabble; whereas Anson had to attack a strong fortress, amply supplied with stores and ammunition, possessing a powerful armament, and held by soldiers who were not only well trained and equipped, but were fighting for their lives, and animated by religious fanaticism.

Still, there can be no doubt that John Lawrence's views as to the necessity for Delhi being taken at all hazards were correct. The Governor-General held the same opinion, and strongly urged it upon Anson, who loyally responded, and during the short time he remained at Umballa strenuously exerted himself to equip the troops destined for the arduous task.

While preparing for his advance on the Moghul capital, Anson did not neglect to provide, as far as lay in his power, for the safety of Umballa. The soldiers' wives and children were sent to Kasauli; a place of refuge was made for the non-combatants at the church, round which an entrenchment was thrown; a garrison, about 500 strong, was formed of the sick and weakly men of the several European regiments, assisted by some of the Patiala troops; and as an additional security half the Native corps were sent into the district, and the other half with the column to Delhi.

The Phulkian Family John Lawrence had strongly advocated the policy of trusting the[Page 57] Maharaja of Patiala and the Rajas of Jhind and Nabha. The attitude of these Chiefs was of extreme importance, for if they had not been well disposed towards us, our communication with the Punjab would have been imperilled. There was therefore much anxiety at Umballa as to the course Patiala, Jhind, and Nabha (the three principal members of the great Phulkian family) would elect to take. Douglas Forsyth,9 Deputy-Commissioner of Umballa, who was a personal friend of the Maharaja of Patiala, at once sought an interview with him. He was beginning to explain to the Maharaja the difficulties of the situation, when he was interrupted by His Highness, who said he was aware of all that had happened; on which Forsyth asked if it was true that emissaries from the King of Delhi had come to Patiala. The Maharaja pointed to some men seated at a little distance, saying, 'There they are.' Forsyth then asked for a word in private. As soon as they were alone, he addressed the Maharaja thus: 'Maharaja sahib, answer me one question: Are you for us, or against us?' The Maharaja's reply was very hearty: 'As long as I live I am yours, but you know I have enemies in my own country; some of my relations are against me—my brother for one. What do you want done?' Forsyth then asked the Maharaja to send some of his troops towards Kurnal to keep open the Grand Trunk Road. The Maharaja agreed on the understanding that Europeans should soon be sent to support them—a very necessary condition, for he knew that his men could only be trusted so long as there was no doubt of our ultimate success.

Patiala was true to his word, and throughout the Mutiny the Phulkian Chiefs remained perfectly loyal, and performed the important service of keeping open communication between Delhi and the Punjab.10

On the 19th May General Anson was cheered by hearing from John Lawrence that the Corps of Guides and four trusty Punjab regiments were proceeding by forced marches to join him. On the 21st he received a message from the Governor-General informing him that European troops were coming from Madras, Bombay, and Ceylon. He also heard of the arrival of the siege-train at Umballa, and he had the satisfaction of telegraphing to the Chief Commissioner that the first detachment of the column destined for Delhi had started.

On the 23rd the Commander-in-Chief communicated his plan of operations to General Hewitt. It was as follows: Two brigades were to advance from Umballa, commanded by Brigadier Hallifax of the 75th Foot, and Colonel Jones of the 60th Rifles; and one brigade from Meerut, under the command of Brigadier Archdale Wilson. The two former were to be concentrated at Kurnal by the 30th May, and were then to advance, under General Anson, so as to arrive opposite Baghput on the 5th June, at which place they were to be joined by the Meerut[Page 58] brigade, and the united force was then to proceed to Delhi.

Death of General Anson All his arrangements being now completed, Anson left Umballa on the 24th May, and reached Kurnal the following morning. On the 26th he was struck down by cholera, and in a few hours succumbed to that fatal disease. His last words expressed a hope that his country would do him justice, and it is grievous to feel that, in estimating his work and the difficulties he had to encounter, full justice has not been done him. Anson has been undeservedly blamed for vacillation and want of promptitude. He was told to 'make short work of Delhi,' but before Delhi could be taken more men had perished than his whole force at that time amounted to. The advice to march upon Delhi was sound, but had it been rashly followed disaster would have been the inevitable result. Had the Commander-in-Chief been goaded into advancing without spare ammunition and siege Artillery, or with an insufficient force, he must have been annihilated by the overwhelming masses of the mutineers—those mutineers, who, we shall see later, stoutly opposed Barnard's greatly augmented force at Badli-ki-Serai, would almost certainly have repulsed, if not destroyed, a smaller body of troops.

On the death of General Anson the command of the Field Force devolved on Major-General Sir Henry Barnard.



I will now continue my story from the time I left Peshawar to join the Movable Column.

John Lawrence's Wise Measures On the 18th May Brigadier Chamberlain and I arrived at Rawal Pindi, where we joined the Chief Commissioner, who had got thus far on his way to his summer residence in the Murree Hills when tidings of the disaster reached him. One of Sir John Lawrence's first acts after talking over matters with Chamberlain was to summon Edwardes from Peshawar, for he wished to consult with him personally about the question of raising levies and enlisting more frontier men, the only one of Edwardes's and Nicholson's proposals regarding which the Chief Commissioner had any doubt; it appeared to him a somewhat risky step to take, and he desired to give the matter very careful consideration before coming to any decision. I remember being greatly struck with the weight given by Lawrence to Edwardes's opinion. He called him his Councillor, he eagerly sought his advice, and he evidently placed the utmost reliance on his judgment.

During the six days that we remained at Rawal Pindi waiting for the Movable Column to be assembled, I spent the greater part of my time[Page 59] in the Chief Commissioner's office, drafting or copying confidential letters and telegrams. I thus learned everything that was happening in the Punjab, and became aware of the magnitude of the crisis through which we were passing. This enabled me to appreciate the tremendous efforts required to cope with the danger, and to understand that the fate of Delhi and the lives of our countrymen and countrywomen in Upper India depended upon the action taken by the authorities in the Punjab. I realized that Sir John Lawrence thought of every detail, and how correct was his judgment as to which of his subordinates could, or could not, be trusted. The many European women and children scattered over the province caused him the greatest anxiety, and he wisely determined to collect them as much as possible at hill stations and the larger centres, where they would be under the protection of British troops; for this reason he ordered the families of the European soldiers at Sialkot (who were being withdrawn to join the Movable Column) to be sent to Lahore. But, notwithstanding all that had occurred, and was daily occurring, to demonstrate how universal was the spirit of disaffection throughout the Native Army, Brigadier Frederick Brind, who commanded at Sialkot, could not be brought to believe that the regiments serving under his command would ever prove disloyal, and he strongly objected to carry out an order which he denounced as 'showing a want of confidence in the sepoys.' John Lawrence, however, stood firm. Brind was ordered to despatch the soldiers' families without delay, and advised to urge the civilians and military officers to send away their families at the same time. A few of the ladies and children were sent off, but some were allowed to remain until the troops mutinied, when the Brigadier was one of the first to pay the penalty of his misplaced confidence, being shot down by one of his own orderlies.

We had not been long at Rawal Pindi before we heard that the uneasiness at Peshawar was hourly increasing, and that the detachment of the 55th Native Infantry1 at Nowshera had mutinied and broken open the magazine. The military force in the Peshawar valley had been considerably weakened by the withdrawal of the 27th Foot and Corps of Guides; it was evident that disaffection was rapidly spreading, and what was still more alarming was the ominously restless feelings amongst the principal tribes on the frontier. Nicholson encountered considerable difficulty in raising local levies, and there was a general unwillingness to enlist. Our disasters in Kabul in 1841-42 had not been forgotten; our cause was considered desperate, and even Nicholson could not persuade men to join it. It was clear that this state of affairs must not be allowed to continue, and that some decisive measures must quickly be taken, or there would be a general rising[Page 60] along the frontier.

Disarmament at Peshawar Matters seemed to be drawing to a head, when it was wisely determined to disarm the Native regiments at Peshawar without delay. This conclusion was come to at midnight on the 21st May, when the news of the unfortunate occurrences at Nowshera reached Edwardes, who had returned that morning from Rawal Pindi. He and Nicholson felt that no time was to be lost, for if the sepoys heard that the regiment at Nowshera had mutinied, it would be too late to attempt to disarm them. Going forthwith to the Brigadier's house, they communicated their views to Sydney Cotton, who thoroughly appreciated the urgency of the case, and, acting with the most praiseworthy decision, summoned the commanding officers of all the Native regiments to be at his house at daybreak.

When they were assembled, the Brigadier carefully explained to the officers how matters stood. He pointed out to them that their regiments were known to be on the verge of mutiny, and that they must be disarmed forthwith, ending by expressing his great regret at having to take so serious a step.

The officers were quite aghast. They were persistent and almost insubordinate in expressing their conviction that the measure was wholly uncalled-for, that the sepoys were thoroughly loyal, and that, notwithstanding what had occurred in other places, they had perfect confidence in their men.

The Brigadier, who knew the officers well, felt that every allowance should be made for them, called upon as they were to disarm the men with whom they had been so long associated, and in whom they still implicitly believed. But although he regarded the officers' remonstrances as natural and excusable, Cotton never wavered in his decision, for he was experienced enough to see that the evil was widespread and deep-seated, and that any display of confidence or attempt at conciliation in dealing with the disaffected regiments would be worse than useless.

The parade, which was ordered for 7 a.m., was conducted with great judgment. The European troops were skilfully disposed so as to render resistance useless, and four out of the five regular Native regiments were called upon to lay down their arms. The fifth regiment—the 21st Native Infantry2—was exempted from this indignity, partly because it had shown no active symptoms of disaffection, was well commanded and had good officers, and partly because it would have been extremely difficult to carry on the military duties of the station without some Native Infantry.

The two regiments of Irregular Cavalry were also spared the disgrace of being disarmed. It was hoped that the stake the Native officers and[Page 61] men had in the service (their horses and arms being their own property) would prevent them from taking an active part in the Mutiny, and it was believed that the British officers who served with them, and who for the most part were carefully selected, had sufficient influence over their men to keep them straight. This hope proved to be not altogether without foundation, for of the eighteen regiments of Irregular Cavalry which existed in May, 1857, eight are still borne on the strength of the Bengal Army; while of the ten regiments of Regular Cavalry and seventy-four of Infantry, none of the former, and only eleven of the latter, now remain.

Salutary Effect in the Valley How immediate and salutary were the effects of the disarmament on the inhabitants of the Peshawar valley will be seen by the following account which Edwardes gave of it. 'As we rode down to the disarming a very few Chiefs and yeomen of the country attended us; and I remember judging from their faces that they came to see which way the tide would turn. As we rode back friends were as thick as summer flies, and levies began from that moment to come in.'

The Subadar-Major of the 51st—one of the four regiments disarmed—had a few days before written to the men of the 64th, who were divided amongst the outposts, calling upon them to return to Peshawar in time to join in the revolt fixed for the 22nd May. The letter ran; 'In whatever way you can manage it, come into Peshawar on the 21st instant. Thoroughly understand that point! In fact, eat there and drink here.' The rapidity with which the disarmament had been carried through spoilt the Subadar-Major's little game; he had, however, gone too far to draw back, and on the night of the 22nd he deserted, taking with him 250 men of the regiment. His hopes were a second time doomed to disappointment. However welcome 250 muskets might have been to the Afridis, 250 unarmed sepoys were no prize; and as our neighbours in the hills had evidently come to the conclusion that our raj was not in such a desperate state as they had imagined, and that their best policy was to side with us, they caught the deserters, with the assistance of the district police, and made them over to the authorities. The men were all tried by Court-Martial, and the Subadar-Major was hanged in the presence of the whole garrison.

On the 23rd May, the day after the disarmament, news was received at Peshawar that the 55th Native Infantry had mutinied at Mardan, and that the 10th Irregular Cavalry, which was divided between Nowshera and Mardan, had turned against us. A force was at once despatched to restore order, and Nicholson accompanied it as political officer. No sooner did the mutineers, on the morning of the 25th, catch sight of the approaching column than they broke out of the fort and fled towards the Swat hills. Nicholson pursued with his levies and mounted police, and before night 120 fugitives were killed and as many[Page 62] more made prisoners. The remainder found no welcome among the hill tribes, and eventually became wanderers over the country until they died or were killed. Poor Spottiswoode, the Colonel, committed suicide shortly before the Peshawar troops reached Mardan.



While I was employed in the Chief Commissioner's office at Rawal Pindi it became known that the Mutineers intended to make their stand at Delhi, and immediately urgent demands came from the Head-Quarters of the army for troops to be sent from the Punjab. Sir John Lawrence exerted himself to the uttermost, even to the extent of denuding his own province to a somewhat dangerous degree, and the Guides and 1st Punjab Infantry, which had been told off for the Movable Column, were ordered instead to proceed to Delhi.

The Guides, a corps second to none in Her Majesty's Indian Army, was commanded by Captain Daly,1 and consisted of three troops of Cavalry and six companies of Infantry. The regiment had got as far as Attock, when it received the order to proceed to Delhi, and pushed on at once by double marches. The 4th Sikhs, under Captain Rothney, and the 1st Punjab Infantry, under Major Coke,2 followed in quick succession, and later on the following troops belonging to the Punjab Frontier Force were despatched towards Delhi: a squadron of the 1st Punjab Cavalry, under Lieutenant John Watson (my companion in Kashmir); a squadron of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry, under Lieutenant Charles Nicholson3 (John Nicholson's brother); a squadron of the 5th Punjab Cavalry, under Lieutenant Younghusband; and the 2nd and 4th Punjab Infantry, commanded respectively by Captains G. Green4 and A. Wilde.5

Neville Chamberlain's Presence of Mind We (Brigadier Chamberlain and I) remained at Rawal Pindi until the 24th May to give our servants and horses time to reach Wazirabad, and then started on a mail-cart for the latter place, which we reached on the 27th. Lieutenant James Walker,6 of the Bombay Engineers, accompanied us as the Brigadier's orderly officer.

The Grand Trunk Road, which runs in a direct line from Calcutta to[Page 63] Peshawar, was then in course of construction through the Punjab, and in places was in rather an elementary condition. The drivers of the mail-carts sent along their half-wild and entirely unbroken ponies at racing speed, regardless alike of obstacles and consequences. With an enterprising coachman the usual pace was about twelve miles an hour, including stoppages. As we were recklessly flying along, the Brigadier, who was sitting in front, perceived that one of the reins had become unbuckled, and warned Walker and me to look out for an upset. Had the coachman not discovered the state of his tackle all might have been well, for the ponies needed no guiding along the well-known road. Unfortunately, however, he became aware of what had happened, lost his head, and pulled the reins; the animals dashed off the road, there was a crash, and we found ourselves on the ground, scattered in different directions. No great damage was done, and in a few minutes we had righted the cart, re-harnessed the ponies, and were rushing along as before.

An Intercepted Message In order that the authorities at Rawal Pindi might be able to communicate with the Movable Column while on the march and away from telegraph stations, which were few and far between in 1857, a signaller accompanied us, and travelled with his instruments on a second mail-cart, and wherever we halted for the day he attached his wire to the main line. He had just completed the attachment on our arrival at Wazirabad, when I observed that the instrument was working, and on drawing the signaller's attention to it, he read off a message which was at that moment being transmitted to the Chief Commissioner, informing him of the death of the Commander-in-Chief at Kurnal the previous day. This sad news did not directly affect the Movable Column, as it had been organized by, and was under the orders of, the Punjab Government, which for the time being had become responsible for the military, as well as the civil, administration in the north of India.

The column had marched into Wazirabad the day before we arrived. It consisted of Major Dawes' troop of European Horse Artillery, a European battery of Field Artillery, commanded by Captain Bourchier,7 and Her Majesty's 52nd Light Infantry, commanded by Colonel George Campbell. In addition, and with a view to reducing the Native garrison of Sialkot, a wing of the 9th Bengal Light Cavalry and the 35th Native Infantry were attached to the column.

The Command of the Column My first duty at Wazirabad was to call upon the senior officer, Colonel Campbell, and inform him that Brigadier Chamberlain had come to take over command of the Movable Column. I found the Colonel lying on his bed trying to make himself as comfortable as it was possible with the thermometer at 117° Fahrenheit. We had not[Page 64] met before, and he certainly received me in a very off-hand manner. He never moved from his recumbent position, and on my delivering my message, he told me he was not aware that the title of Brigadier carried military rank with it; that he understood Brigadier Chamberlain was only a Lieutenant-Colonel, whereas he held the rank of Colonel in Her Majesty's army; and that, under these circumstances, he must decline to acknowledge Brigadier Chamberlain as his senior officer. I replied that I would give his message to the Brigadier, and took my leave.

When Chamberlain heard what had occurred, he desired me to return to Campbell and explain that he had no wish to dispute the question of relative seniority, and that in assuming command of the column he was only carrying out the orders of the Commander-in-Chief in India. Campbell, who technically speaking had the right on his side, was not to be appeased, and requested me to inform the Brigadier of his determination not to serve under an officer whom he considered to be his junior.

This was not a pleasant beginning to our duties with the column, and Chamberlain thought that we had better take our departure and leave Campbell in command until the question could be settled by superior authority. Campbell was accordingly asked to march the troops to Lahore, to which place we continued our journey by mail-cart.

At the same time a reference was made to Sir John Lawrence and General Reed, which resulted in the decision that, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, it was essential that an officer of Indian experience should be in command of the column, and that Campbell, having only been a very short time in the country, did not fulfil this condition; but Campbell was told that, if he objected to serve under Chamberlain, he could remain at Lahore with the Head-Quarters of his regiment. Campbell, who at heart was really a very nice fellow and an excellent officer, would not be separated from the 52nd, and agreed to serve under the Brigadier, reserving to himself the right of protesting when the new Commander-in-Chief should arrive in India.

There was probably another reason for Campbell not wishing to serve under Chamberlain besides that of being senior to him in the army, in the fact that the Brigadier was a servant of 'John Company,' while Campbell belonged to the 'Queen's Service.' From the time of the establishment of a local army there had existed an absurd and unfortunate jealousy between the officers of the Queen's and Company's services, and one of the best results of the Mutiny was its gradual disappearance. This ill-feeling influenced not only fellow-countrymen, but relations, even brothers, if they belonged to the different services, and was distinctly prejudicial to the interests of the Government. It is difficult to understand how so puerile a sentiment could have been so long indulged in by officers who no doubt considered themselves sensible[Page 65] Englishmen.8

On the 31st May we arrived at Lahore, where we found everyone in a state of considerable excitement. Lahore was and is the great centre of the Punjab, and to it non-combatants and English ladies with their children were hurrying from all the outlying districts. In the city itself there was a mixed population of nearly 100,000, chiefly Sikhs and Mahomedans, many of the former old soldiers who had served in the Khalsa Army. The fort, which was within the walls of the city, was garrisoned by half a regiment of sepoys, one company of European Infantry, and a few European Artillerymen. Mian Mir, five miles off, was the Head-Quarters of the Lahore division; it was a long, straggling cantonment, laid out for a much larger force than it has ever been found necessary to place there, with the European Infantry at one end and the European Artillery at the other, separated by Native troops. This arrangement (which existed in almost every station in India) is another proof of the implicit confidence placed in the Native army—a confidence in mercenary soldiers of alien races which seems all the more surprising when we call to mind the warnings that for nearly a hundred years had been repeatedly given of the possibility of disaffection existing amongst Native troops.

Robert Montgomery There were four Native regiments at Mian Mir, one of Cavalry and three of Infantry, while the European portion of the garrison consisted of one weak Infantry regiment, two troops of Horse Artillery, and four companies of Foot Artillery. This force was commanded by Brigadier Corbett, of the Bengal Army; he had been nearly forty years in the service, was mentally and physically vigorous, and had no fear of responsibility. Robert Montgomery9 was then chief civil officer at Lahore. He was of a most gentle and benevolent nature, with a rubicund countenance and a short, somewhat portly figure, which characteristics led to his being irreverently called 'Pickwick,' and probably if he had lived in less momentous times he would never have been credited with the great qualities which the crisis in the Punjab proved him to possess.

On receipt of the telegraphic news of the outbreaks at Meerut and Delhi, Montgomery felt that immediate action was necessary. He at once set to work to discover the temper of the Native troops at Mian Mir, and soon ascertained that they were disaffected to the core, and were only waiting to hear from their friends in the south to break into open mutiny. He thoroughly understood the Native character, and[Page 66] realized the danger to the whole province of there being anything in the shape of a serious disturbance at its capital; so after consulting his various officials, Montgomery decided to suggest to the Brigadier the advisability of disarming the sepoys, or, if that were considered too strong a measure, of taking their ammunition from them. Corbett met him quite half-way; he also saw that the danger was imminent, and that prompt action was necessary, but he not unnaturally shrank from taking the extreme step of disarming men whose loyalty had never until then been doubted—a step, moreover, which he knew would be keenly resented by all the regimental officers—he therefore at first only agreed to deprive the sepoys of their ammunition; later in the day, however, after thinking the matter over, he came to the conclusion that it would be better to adopt Montgomery's bolder proposal, and he informed him accordingly that he would 'go the whole hog.'

I do not think that Corbett's action on this occasion has been sufficiently appreciated. That he decided rightly there can be no doubt, but very few officers holding commands in India at that time would have accepted such responsibility. His knowledge as to what had happened at Meerut and Delhi was based on one or two meagre telegrams, and the information Montgomery gave him as to the treacherous intentions of the sepoys at Mian Mir had been obtained by means of a spy, who, it was quite possible, might have been actuated by interested motives.

Disarmament at Mian Mir Having made up his mind what should be done, Corbett had the good sense to understand that success depended on its being done quickly, and on the Native troops being kept absolutely in the dark as to what was about to take place. A general parade was ordered for the next morning, the 13th May, and it was wisely determined not to put off a ball which was being given that evening to the officers of the 81st Foot. The secret was confided to very few, and the great majority of those who were taking part in the entertainment were ignorant of the reason for a parade having been ordered the following morning—an unusual proceeding which caused a certain amount of grumbling.

When the sepoys were drawn up, it was explained to them in their own language that they were about to be deprived of their arms, in order to put temptation out of their reach, and save them from the disgrace of being led away by the evil example of other corps. Whilst they were being thus addressed, the Horse Artillery and 81st Foot took up a second line immediately in rear of the Native regiments, the guns being quietly loaded with grape during the manœuvre. The regiments were then directed to change front to the rear, when they found themselves face to face with the British troops. The order was given to the sepoys to 'pile arms'; one of the regiments hesitated, but only for a moment; resistance was hopeless, and the word of command was[Page 67] sullenly obeyed.

The same morning the fort of Lahore was secured. Three companies of the 81st marched into it at daylight, relieved the sepoys of their guards, and ordered them to lay down their arms. Another company of the same regiment travelled through the night in carriages to Umritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs, and occupied the fortress of Govindgarh. Montgomery had been very anxious about these two strongholds, and it was a great satisfaction to him to know that they were at length safely guarded by British bayonets.

Although, as I have said, we found Lahore in a state of considerable excitement, it was satisfactory to see how fully the situation had been grasped, and how everything that was possible had been done to maintain order, and show the people of the Punjab that we were prepared to hold our own. Montgomery's foresight and decision, and Corbett's hearty and willing co-operation, checked, if not altogether stopped, what, under less energetic management, would assuredly have resulted in very grievous trouble. Excitement was inevitable. There was a general stir throughout the province. Lahore was crowded with the families of European soldiers, and with ladies who had come there from various parts of the Punjab, all in terrible anxiety as to what might be the ultimate fate of their husbands and relatives; some of whom were with Native regiments, whose loyalty was more than doubtful; some with the Movable Column, the destination of which was uncertain; while others were already on their way to join the army hurrying to Delhi.

The difficulty with Campbell having been settled, Chamberlain assumed the command of the Movable Column, the advent of which on the 2nd June was hailed with delight by all the Europeans at Lahore. A regiment of British Infantry and two batteries of Artillery afforded a much needed support to the handful of British soldiers keeping guard over the great capital of the Punjab, and gave confidence to the Sikhs and others disposed to be loyal, but who were doubtful as to the wisdom of siding with us.

The disturbing element was the Native troops which accompanied the column. They had not shown openly that they contemplated mutiny, but we knew that they were not to be trusted, and were only watching for an opportunity to break out and escape to Delhi with their arms

I was living with the Brigadier in a house only a few minutes' walk from the garden where the Native regiments were encamped, and the spies we were employing to watch them had orders to come to me whenever anything suspicious should occur. During the night of the 8th June one of these men awoke me with the news that the 35th Native Infantry intended to revolt at daybreak, and that some of them had already loaded their muskets. I awoke the Brigadier, who directed[Page 68] me to go at once to the British officers of the regiment, tell them what we had heard, and that he would be with them shortly. As soon as the Brigadier arrived the men were ordered to fall in, and on their arms being examined two of them were found to have been loaded. The sepoys to whom the muskets belonged were made prisoners, and I was ordered to see them lodged in the police-station.

A Drum-Head Court-Martial Chamberlain determined to lose no time in dealing with the case, and although Drum-Head Courts-Martial were then supposed to be obsolete, he decided to revive, for this occasion, that very useful means of disposing, in time of war, of grave cases of crime.

The Brigadier thought it desirable that the Court-Martial should be composed of Native, rather than British, officers, as being likely to be looked upon by the prisoners as a more impartial tribunal, under the peculiar circumstances in which we were placed. This was made possible by the arrival of the 1st Punjab Infantry—Coke's Rifles—a grand regiment under a grand Commander. Raised in 1849, composed chiefly of Sikhs and Pathans, and possessing Native officers of undoubted loyalty, the 1st Punjab Infantry had taken part in almost every frontier expedition during the previous eight years. Its history was a glorious record of faithful and devoted service, such as can only be rendered by brave men led by officers in whom they believe and trust.10 The Subadar-Major of the corps was a man called Mir Jaffir, a most gallant Afghan soldier, who entered the British service during the first Afghan war, and distinguished himself greatly in all the subsequent frontier fights. This Native officer was made president of the Court-Martial. The prisoners were found guilty of mutiny, and sentenced to death. Chamberlain decided that they should be blown away from guns, in the presence of their own comrades, as being the most awe-inspiring means of carrying the sentence into effect.11 A parade was at once ordered. The troops were drawn up so as to form three sides of a square; on the fourth side were two guns. As the prisoners were being brought to the parade, one of them asked me if they were going to be blown from guns. I said, 'Yes.' He made no further remark, and they both walked steadily on until they reached the guns, to which they were bound, when one of them requested that some rupees he had on his person might be saved for his relations. The Brigadier answered: 'It is too late!' The word of command was given; the guns went off simultaneously, and the two mutineers were[Page 69] launched into eternity.

Swift Retribution It was a terrible sight, and one likely to haunt the beholder for many a long day; but that was what was intended. I carefully watched the sepoys' faces to see how it affected them. They were evidently startled at the swift retribution which had overtaken their guilty comrades, but looked more crest-fallen than shocked or horrified, and we soon learnt that their determination to mutiny, and make the best of their way to Delhi, was in nowise changed by the scene they had witnessed.



For a few days after our arrival at Lahore nothing could be settled as to the further movements of the column. It was wanted in all parts of the Punjab: Ferozeporo, Multan, Jhelum, Sialkot, Umritsar, Jullundur, Philour, Ludhiana—all these places were more or less disturbed, and all were clamorous for help.

Ferozepore At Ferozepore the Native regiments1 broke out on the 13th May, when they made a daring, but unsuccessful effort to seize the arsenal, situated inside the fort and the largest in Upper India. Had that fallen into the hands of the rebels, Delhi could not have been captured without very considerable delay, for the besieging force depended mainly upon Ferozepore for the supply of munitions of war. The fort had been allowed to fall into bad repair, and the mutineers had no difficulty in forcing their way inside; there, fortunately, they were checked by the wall which surrounded the arsenal, and this obstacle, insignificant as it was, enabled the guard to hold its own. Originally this guard consisted entirely of Native soldiers, but, as I have already recorded, after the outbreak at Meerut, Europeans had been told off for the charge of this important post; so strong, however, here as elsewhere, was the belief in the loyalty of the sepoys, and so great was the reluctance to do anything which might hurt their feelings, that the Native guard was not withdrawn. This same guard, when the attack took place, did its best to assist the assailants, and even prepared scaling-ladders to enable the latter to gain access to the magazine enclosure. The Europeans, however, were equal to the emergency; they overpowered and disarmed their treacherous companions, and then succeeded in beating off and dispersing the attacking party.

Being foiled in this attempt, the mutineers returned to the cantonment, set fire to the church and other buildings, and then started for Delhi. Ferozepore had a large European garrison, a regiment of Infantry, a battery of Field Artillery, and a company of Foot Artillery,[Page 70] and was supposed to be able to look after itself, although affairs had been greatly mismanaged.

Crawford Chamberlain at Multan Multan had next to be considered. Matters at that station were very unsettled, and indeed were causing the authorities grave anxiety, but Multan was more fortunate than many places, in being in the hands of an unusually able, experienced officer, Major Crawford Chamberlain. Consequently, the Commander-in-Chief and Chief Commissioner agreed, while fully appreciating the great value of Multan, that the presence of British troops was less urgently needed there than elsewhere, and it was decided they could not be spared from the Punjab for its protection.

The garrison at Multan consisted of a troop of Native Horse Artillery, two regiments of Native Infantry, and the 1st Irregular Cavalry, composed entirely of Hindustanis from the neighbourhood of Delhi; while in the old Sikh fort there were about fifty European Artillerymen, in charge of a small magazine. The station was nominally commanded by an officer who had been thirty-four years in the army, and had great experience amongst Natives; but he had fallen into such a bad state of health, that he was quite unfit to deal with the crisis which had now arrived. The command, therefore, was practically exercised by Chamberlain. Next to Delhi and Lahore, Multan was the most important place in Upper India, as our communication with the sea and southern India depended on its preservation.

To Chamberlain's own personality and extraordinary influence over the men of the 1st Irregular Cavalry must be attributed his success. His relations with them were of a patriarchal nature, and perfect mutual confidence existed. He knew his hold over them was strong, and he determined to trust them. But in doing so he had really no alternative—had they not remained faithful, Multan must have been lost to us. One of his first acts was to call a meeting at his house of the Native officers of the Artillery, Infantry, and his own regiment, to discuss the situation. Taking for granted the absolute loyalty of these officers, he suggested that a written bond should be given, in which the seniors of each corps should guarantee the fidelity of their men. The officers of his regiment rose en masse, and placing their signet-rings on the table, said: 'Kabúl sir-o-chasm' ('Agreed to on our lives'). The Artillery Subadar declared that his men had no scruples, and would fire in whichever direction they were required; while the Infantry Native officers pleaded that they had no power over their men, and could give no guarantee. Thus, Chamberlain ascertained that the Cavalry were loyal, the Artillery doubtful, and the Infantry were only biding their time to mutiny.

Night after night sepoys, disguised beyond all recognition, attempted to tamper with the Irregular Cavalry. The Wurdi-Major,2 a particularly[Page 71] fine, handsome Ranagar,3 begged Chamberlain to hide himself in his house, that he might hear for himself the open proposals to mutiny, massacre, and rebellion that were made to him; and the promises that, if they succeeded in their designs, he (the Wurdi-Major) should be placed upon the gaddi4 of Multan for his reward. Chamberlain declined to put himself in such a position, fearing he might not be able to restrain himself.

Chamberlain's Masterly Conduct Matters now came to a climax. A Mahomedan Subadar of one of the Native Infantry regiments laid a plot to murder Chamberlain and his family. The plot was discovered and frustrated by Chamberlain's own men, but it became apparent that the only remedy for the fast increasing evil was to disarm the two Native Infantry regiments. How was this to be accomplished with no Europeans save a few gunners anywhere near? Sir John Lawrence was most pressing that the step should be taken at once; he knew the danger of delay; at the same time, he thoroughly appreciated the difficulty of the task which he was urging Chamberlain to undertake, and he readily responded to the latter's request for a regiment of Punjab Infantry to be sent to him. The 2nd Punjab Infantry was, therefore, despatched from Dera Ghazi Khan, and at the same time the 1st Punjab Cavalry arrived from Asni,5 under Major Hughes,6 who, hearing of Chamberlain's troubles, had marched to Multan without waiting for orders from superior authority. The evening of the day on which these troops reached Multan, the British officers of the several regiments were directed to assemble at the Deputy-Commissioner's house, when Chamberlain told them of the communication he had received from Sir John Lawrence, adding that, having reliable information that the Native Infantry were about to mutiny, he had settled to disarm them the next morning.

It was midnight before the meeting broke up. At 4 a.m. the Horse[Page 72] Artillery troop and the two Native Infantry regiments were ordered to march as if to an ordinary parade. When they had gone about a quarter of a mile they were halted, and the Punjab troops moved quietly between them and their lines, thus cutting them off from their spare ammunition; at the same time the European Artillerymen took their places with the guns of the Horse Artillery troop, and a carefully selected body of Sikhs belonging to the 1st Punjab Cavalry, under Lieutenant John Watson, was told off to advance on the troop and cut down the gunners if they refused to assist the Europeans to work the guns.

Chamberlain then rode up to the Native Infantry regiments, and after explaining to them the reason for their being disarmed, he gave the word of command, 'Pile arms!' Thereupon a sepoy of the 62nd shouted: 'Don't give up your arms; fight for them!' Lieutenant Thomson, the Adjutant of the regiment, instantly seized him by the throat and threw him to the ground. The order was repeated, and, wonderful to relate, obeyed. The Native Infantry regiments were then marched back to their lines, while the Punjab troops and Chamberlain's Irregulars remained on the ground until the arms had been carted off to the fort.

It was a most critical time, and enough credit has never been given to Chamberlain. Considering the honours which were bestowed on others who took more or less conspicuous parts in the Mutiny, he was very insufficiently rewarded for this timely act of heroism. Had he not shown such undaunted courage and coolness, or had there been the smallest hesitation, Multan would certainly have gone. Chamberlain managed an extremely difficult business in a most masterly manner. His personal influence insured his own regiment continuing loyal throughout the Mutiny, and it has now the honour of being the 1st Regiment of Bengal Cavalry, and the distinction of wearing a different uniform from every other regiment in the service, being allowed to retain the bright yellow which the troopers wore when they were first raised by Colonel James Skinner, and in which they performed such loyal service.7

At Jhelum and Sialkot it was decided that, as the Native troops had been considerably reduced in numbers, the danger was not so great as to require the presence of the Movable Column.

Umritsar had been made safe for the time, but it was a place the importance of which could not be over-estimated, and it was thought[Page 73] that keeping a strong column in its vicinity for a few days would materially strengthen our position there. Moreover, Umritsar lay in the direct route to Jullundur, where the military authorities had proved themselves quite unfitted to deal with the emergency. It was decided, therefore, that Umritsar should be our objective in the first instance. We marched from Lahore on the 10th June, and reached Umritsar the following morning.

Nicholson Succeeds
N. Chamberlain
News of a severe fight at Badli-ki-Serai had been received, which increased our anxiety to push on to Delhi, for we feared the place might be taken before we could get there. But to our mortification it was decided that the column could not be spared just then even for Delhi, as there was still work for it in the Punjab. To add to our disappointment, we had to give up our trusted Commander; for a few hours after our arrival at Umritsar a telegram came to Neville Chamberlain offering him the Adjutant-Generalship of the Army in succession to Colonel Chester, who had been killed at Badli-ki-Serai. He accepted the offer, and I made certain I should go with him. My chagrin, therefore, can easily be understood when he told me that I must remain with the column, as it would be unfair to his successor to take away the staff officer. We were now all anxiety to learn who that successor should be, and it was a satisfaction to hear that John Nicholson was the man.

Chamberlain left for Delhi on the 13th; but Nicholson could not join for a few days, and as troops were much needed at Jullundur, it was arranged that the column should move on to that place, under the temporary command of Campbell, and there await the arrival of the new Brigadier.

On my going to Campbell for orders, he informed me that he was no longer the senior officer with the column, as a Colonel Denniss, junior to him regimentally, but his senior in army rank, had just rejoined the 52nd. Accordingly I reported myself to Denniss, who, though an officer of many years' service, had never before held a command, not even that of a regiment; and, poor man! was considerably taken aback when he heard that he must be in charge of the column for some days. He practically left everything to me—a somewhat trying position for almost the youngest officer in the force. It was under these circumstances I found what an able man Colonel Campbell really was. He correctly gauged Denniss's fitness, or rather unfitness, for the command, and appreciating the awkwardness of my position, advised me so wisely that I had no difficulty in carrying on the work.

We reached Jullundur on the 20th, Nicholson taking over command the same day. He had been given the rank of Brigadier-General, which removed all grounds for objection on the part of Campbell, and the two soon learnt to appreciate each other, and became fast friends.

Irresolution at Jullundur Jullundur was in a state of the greatest confusion. The Native troops, consisting of a regiment of Light Cavalry and two regiments of[Page 74] Native Infantry, began to show signs of disaffection soon after the outbreak at Meerut, and from that time until the 7th June, when they broke into open mutiny, incendiary fires were almost of daily occurrence. The want of resolution displayed in dealing with the crisis at Jullundur was one of the regrettable episodes of the Mutiny. The European garrison consisted of Her Majesty's 8th Foot and a troop of Horse Artillery. The military authorities had almost a whole month's warning of the mutinous intentions of the Native troops, but though they had before them the example of the prompt and successful measures adopted at Lahore and Peshawar, they failed to take any steps to prevent the outbreak.

The Brigadier (Johnstone) was on leave at the commencement of the Mutiny, and during his absence the treasure was placed in charge of a European guard, in accordance with instructions from Sir John Lawrence. This measure was reversed as soon as the Brigadier rejoined, for fear of showing distrust of the sepoys, and another wise order of the watchful Chief Commissioner—to disarm the Native troops—was never carried out. The Commissioner, Major Edward Lake, one of Henry Lawrence's most capable assistants, had also repeatedly urged upon Johnstone the advisability of depriving the sepoys of their arms, but his advice remained unheeded. When the inevitable revolt took place European soldiers were allowed to be passive spectators while property was being destroyed, and sepoys to disappear in the darkness of the night carrying with them their muskets and all the treasure and plunder they could lay their hands on.

A futile attempt at pursuit was made the following morning, but, as will be seen, this was carried out in so half-hearted a manner, that the mutineers were able to get safely across the Sutlej with their loot, notwithstanding that the passage of this broad river had to be made by means of a ferry, where only very few boats were available. Having reached Philour, the British troops were ordered to push on to Delhi, and as Jullundur was thus left without protection, Lake gladly accepted the offer of the Raja of Kapurthala to garrison it with his own troops.

There was no doubt as to the loyalty of the Raja himself, and his sincere desire to help us; but the mismanagement of affairs at Jullundur had done much to lower our prestige in the eyes of his people, and there was no mistaking the offensive demeanour of his troops. They evidently thought that British soldiers had gone never to return, and they swaggered about in swash-buckler fashion, as only Natives who think they have the upper hand can swagger.

It was clearly Lake's policy to keep on good terms with the Kapurthala people. His position was much strengthened by the arrival of our column; but we were birds of passage, and might be off at any moment, so in order to pay a compliment to the officers and principal[Page 75] men with the Kapurthala troops, Lake asked Nicholson to meet them at his house. Nicholson consented, and a durbar was arranged. I was present on the occasion, and was witness of rather a curious scene, illustrative alike of Nicholson and Native character.

Mehtab Sing
At the close of the ceremony Mehtab Sing, a general officer in the Kapurthala Army, took his leave, and, as the senior in rank at the durbar, was walking out of the room first, when I observed Nicholson stalk to the door, put himself in front of Mehtab Sing and, waving him back with an authoritative air, prevent him from leaving the room. The rest of the company then passed out, and when they had gone, Nicholson said to Lake: 'Do you see that General Mehtab Sing has his shoes on?'8 Lake replied that he had noticed the fact, but tried to excuse it. Nicholson, however, speaking in Hindustani, said: 'There is no possible excuse for such an act of gross impertinence. Mehtab Sing knows perfectly well that he would not venture to step on his own father's carpet save barefooted, and he has only committed this breach of etiquette to-day because he thinks we are not in a position to resent the insult, and that he can treat us as he would not have dared to do a month ago.' Mehtab Sing looked extremely foolish, and stammered some kind of apology; but Nicholson was not to be appeased, and continued: 'If I were the last Englishman left in Jullundur, you' (addressing Mehtab Sing) 'should not come into my room with your shoes on;' then, politely turning to Lake, he added, 'I hope the Commissioner will now allow me to order you to take your shoes off and carry them out in your own hands, so that your followers may witness your discomfiture.' Mehtab Sing, completely cowed, meekly did as he was told.

Although in the kindness of his heart Lake had at first endeavoured to smooth matters over, he knew Natives well, and he readily admitted the wisdom of Nicholson's action. Indeed, Nicholson's uncompromising bearing on this occasion proved a great help to Lake, for it had the best possible effect upon the Kapurthala people; their manner at once changed, all disrespect vanished, and there was no more swaggering about as if they considered themselves masters of the situation.

Five or six years after this occurrence I was one of a pig-sticking party at Kapurthala, given by the Raja in honour of the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Hugh Rose.9 When riding home in the evening I found myself close to the elephant on which our host and the Chief were sitting. The conversation happening to turn on the events of the Mutiny, I asked what had become of General Mehtab Sing. The Raja, pointing to an elephant a little distance off on which two Native gentlemen were riding, said, 'There he is.' I recognized the General,[Page 76] and making him a salaam, which he politely returned, I said to him, 'I have not had the pleasure of meeting you since those hot days in June, 1857, when I was at Jullundur.' The Raja then asked me if I knew Nicholson. On my telling him I had been his staff officer, and with him at the durbar at Lake Sahib's house, the Raja laughed heartily, and said, 'Oh! then you saw Mehtab Sing made to walk out of the room with his shoes in his hand? We often chaff him about that little affair, and tell him that he richly deserved the treatment he received from the great Nicholson Sahib.'

Sir Hugh Rose was greatly interested in the story, which he made me repeat to him as soon as we got back to camp, and he was as much struck as I was with this spontaneous testimony of a leading Native to the wisdom of Nicholson's procedure.

Nicholson's Soldierly Instincts On taking over command, Nicholson's first care was to establish an effective system of intelligence, by means of which he was kept informed of what was going on in the neighbouring districts; and, fully recognizing the necessity for rapid movement in the event of any sudden emergency, he organized a part of his force into a small flying column, the infantry portion of which was to be carried in ekkas.10 I was greatly impressed by Nicholson's knowledge of military affairs. He seemed always to know exactly what to do and the best way to do it. This was the more remarkable because, though a soldier by profession, his training had been chiefly that of a civilian—a civilian of the frontier, however, where his soldierly instincts had been fostered in his dealing with a lawless and unruly people, and where he had received a training which was now to stand him in good stead. Nicholson was a born Commander, and this was felt by every officer and man with the column before he had been amongst them many days.

More Disarmaments The Native troops with the column had given no trouble since we left Lahore. We were travelling in the direction they desired to go, which accounted for their remaining quiet; but Nicholson, realizing the danger of having them in our midst, and the probability of their refusing to turn away from Delhi in the event of our having to retrace our steps, resolved to disarm the 35th. The civil authorities in the district urged that the same course should be adopted with the 33rd, a Native Infantry regiment at Hoshiarpur, about twenty-seven miles from Jullundur, which it had been decided should join the column. The Native soldiers with the column already exceeded the Europeans in number, and as the addition of another regiment would make the odds against us very serious, it was arranged to disarm the 35th before the 33rd joined us.

We left Jullundur on the 24th June, and that afternoon, accompanied by the Deputy-Commissioner of the district, I rode to Philour[Page 77] to choose a place for the disarming parade. The next morning we started early, the Europeans heading the column, and when they reached the ground we had selected they took up a position on the right of the road, the two batteries in the centre and the 52nd in wings on either flank. The guns were unlimbered and prepared for action. On the left of the road was a serai,11 behind which the officer commanding the 35th was told to take his regiment, and, as he cleared it, to wheel to the right, thus bringing his men in column of companies facing the line of Europeans. This manœuvre being accomplished, I was ordered to tell the commanding officer that the regiment was to be disarmed, and that the men were to pile arms and take off their belts. The sepoys and their British officers were equally taken aback; the latter had received no information of what was going to happen, while the former had cherished the hope that they would be able to cross the Sutlej, and thence slip off with their arms to Delhi.

I thought I could discover relief in the British officers' faces, certainly in that of Major Younghusband, the Commandant, and when I gave him the General's order, he murmured, 'Thank God!' He had been with the 35th for thirty-three years; he had served with it at the siege of Bhurtpore, throughout the first Afghan war, and in Sale's defence of Jalalabad; he had been proud of his old corps, but knowing probably that his men could no longer be trusted, he rejoiced to feel that they were not to be given the opportunity for further disgracing themselves.12 The sepoys obeyed the command without a word, and in a few minutes their muskets and belts were all packed in carts and taken off to the fort.

As the ceremony was completed, the 33rd arrived and was dealt with in a similar manner; but the British officers of this regiment did not take things so quietly—they still believed in their men, and the Colonel, Sandeman, trusted them to any extent. He had been with the regiment for more than two-and-thirty years, and had commanded it throughout the Sutlej campaign. On hearing the General's order, he exclaimed: 'What! disarm my regiment? I will answer with my life for the loyalty of every man!' On my repeating the order the poor old fellow burst into tears. His son, the late Sir Robert Sandeman, who was an Ensign in the regiment at the time, told me afterwards how terribly his father felt the disgrace inflicted upon the regiment of which he was so proud.

It was known that the wing of the 9th Light Cavalry was in communication with the mutineers at Delhi, and that the men were only waiting their opportunity; so they would also certainly have been disarmed at this time, but for the idea that such a measure might have a[Page 78] bad effect on the other wing, which still remained at Sialkot. The turn of this regiment, however, came a few days later.

Up till this time we all hoped that Delhi was our destination, but, greatly to our surprise and disappointment, orders came that morning directing the column to return to Umritsar; the state of the Punjab was causing considerable anxiety, as there were several stations at which Native corps still remained in possession of their arms.

The same afternoon I was in the Philour fort with Nicholson, when the telegraph-signaller gave him a copy of a message from Sir Henry Barnard to the authorities in the Punjab, begging that all Artillery officers not doing regimental duty might be sent to Delhi, where their services were urgently required. I at once felt that this message applied to me. I had been longing to find myself at Delhi, and lived in perpetual dread of its being captured before I could get there; now at last my hopes seemed about to be realized in a legitimate manner, but, on the other hand, I did not like the idea of leaving Nicholson—the more closely I was associated with him the more I was attracted by him—and I am always proud to remember that he did not wish to part with me. He agreed, however, that my first duty was to my regiment, and only stipulated that before leaving him I should find someone to take my place, as he did not know a single officer with the column. This I was able to arrange, and that evening Nicholson and I dined tête-à-tête. At dawn the next morning I left by mail-cart for Delhi, my only kit being a small bundle of bedding, saddle and bridle, my servants having orders to follow with my horses, tents, and other belongings.



George Ricketts at Ludhiana
The mail-cart rattled across the bridge of boats, and in less than an hour I found myself at Ludhiana, at the house of George Ricketts,1 the Deputy Commissioner. Ricketts's bungalow was a resting-place for everyone passing through en route to Delhi. In one room I found Lieutenant Williams of the 4th Sikhs, who had been dangerously wounded three weeks before, while assisting Ricketts to prevent the Jullundur mutineers from crossing the Sutlej.

While I was eating my breakfast, Ricketts sat down by my side and recounted a stirring tale of all that had happened at Philour and Ludhiana consequent on the rising of the Native regiments at Jullundur. The mutineers had made, in the first instance, for Philour, a small cantonment, but important from the fact of its containing a fair-sized[Page 79] magazine, and from its situation, commanding the passage of the Sutlej. It was garrisoned by the 3rd Native Infantry, which furnished the sole guard over the magazine—a danger which, as I have mentioned, had fortunately been recognized by the Commander-in-Chief when he first heard of the outbreak at Meerut. The men of the 3rd remained quiet, and even did good service in helping to drag the guns of the siege-train across the river, and in guarding the treasury, until the mutineers from Jullundur arrived on the 8th June. They then gave their British officers warning to leave them, saying they did not mean to injure them or their property, but they had determined they would no longer serve the Sirkar. Twelve British officers (there could not have been more), confronted by 3,000 sepoys, felt themselves powerless, and retired to the fort.

Ricketts had with him at that time an assistant named Thornton,2 who had gone to Philour to lodge some money in the treasury. This officer had started to ride back to Ludhiana, when he suddenly became aware of what had happened, and how perilous was the position. Had he consulted his own safety, he would have returned and taken refuge in the fort, instead of which he galloped on, having to pass close by the mutineers, until he reached the bridge of boats, which, with admirable coolness and presence of mind, he cut behind him, then, hurrying on, he informed Ricketts of what had taken place; and that the rebels might shortly be expected to attempt the passage of the river. Fortunately the 4th Sikhs from Abbottabad had that very morning marched into Ludhiana, and Ricketts hoped, with their assistance, to hold the sepoys in check until the arrival of the British troops, which he believed must have been despatched from Jullundur in pursuit of the mutineers.

The garrison of Ludhiana consisted of a detachment of the 3rd Native Infantry, guarding the fort, in which was stored a large amount of powder. The detachment was commanded by Lieutenant Yorke, who, on hearing Thornton's story, went at once to the fort. He was much liked by his men, who received him quite civilly, but told him they knew that their regiment had joined the rebels from Jullundur, and that they themselves could no longer obey his orders. Ricketts then understood that he had but the 4th Sikhs and a small party of troops belonging to the Raja of Nabha to depend upon. There were only two officers with the 4th Sikhs—Captain Rothney, in command, and Lieutenant Williams, the Adjutant. Taking three companies of the regiment under Williams, and two guns of the Nabha Artillery, one dragged by camels, the other by horses, Ricketts started off towards the bridge of boats. Galloping on alone, he found that the gap in the bridge made by Thornton had not been repaired, which proved that the rebels had not crossed by that passage, at all events. He widened the[Page 80] gap by cutting adrift some more boats, and then had himself ferried across the river, in order to ascertain the exact state of affairs at Philour. He learnt that no tidings had been received of any British troops having been sent from Jullundur in pursuit of the mutineers, who, having failed to get across the bridge, owing to Thornton's timely action, had gone to a ferry reported to be three miles up the river.

Ricketts recrossed the river as quickly as he could, and joined Williams. It was then getting dark, but, hoping they might still be in time to check the rebels, they pushed on in the direction of the ferry, which proved to be nearer six than three miles away. The ground was rough and broken, as is always the case on the banks of Indian rivers, swollen as they often are by torrents from the hills, which leave behind boulders and debris of all kinds. They made but little way; one of the gun-camels fell lame, the guides disappeared, and they began to despair of reaching the ferry in time, when suddenly there was a challenge and they know they were too late. The sepoys had succeeded in crossing the river and were bivouacking immediately in front of them.

It was not a pleasant position, but it had to be made the best of; and both the civilian and the soldier agreed that their only chance was to fight. Williams opened fire with his Infantry, and Ricketts took command of the guns. At the first discharge the horses bolted with the limber, and never appeared again; almost at the same moment Williams fell, shot through the body. Ricketts continued the fight until his ammunition was completely expended, when he was reluctantly obliged to retire to a village in the neighbourhood, but not until he had killed, as he afterwards discovered, about fifty of the enemy.

Ricketts returned to Ludhiana early the next morning, and later in the day the mutineers passed through the city. They released some 500 prisoners who were in the gaol, and helped themselves to what food they wanted, but they did not enter the cantonment or the fort. The gallant little attempt to close the passage of the Sutlej was entirely frustrated, owing to the inconceivable want of energy displayed by the so-called 'pursuing force'; had it pushed on, the rebels must have been caught in the act of crossing the river, when Ricketts's small party might have afforded considerable help. The Europeans from Jullundur reached Philour before dark on the 8th; they heard the firing of Ricketts's guns, but no attempt was made by the officer in command to ascertain the cause, and they came leisurely on to Ludhiana the following day.

Having listened with the greatest interest to Ricketts's story, and refreshed the inner man, I resumed my journey, and reached Umballa late in the afternoon of the 27th, not sorry to get under shelter, for the monsoon, which had been threatening for some days past, burst with great fury as I was leaving Ludhiana.

Pushing on to Delhi On driving to the dâk-bungalow I found it crowded with officers,[Page 81] some of whom had been waiting there for days for an opportunity to go on to Delhi; they laughed at me when I expressed my intention of proceeding at once, and told me that the seats on the mail-carts had to be engaged several days in advance, and that I might make up my mind to stay where I was for some time to come. I was not at all prepared for this, and I determined to get on by hook or by crook; as a preliminary measure, I made friends with the postmaster, from whose office the mail-carts started. From him I learnt that my only chance was to call upon the Deputy-Commissioner, by whose orders the seats were distributed. I took the postmaster's advice, and thus became acquainted with Douglas Forsyth, who in later years made a name for himself by his energetic attempts to establish commercial relations with Yarkand and Kashgar. Forsyth confirmed what I had already heard, but told me that an extra cart was to be despatched that night, laden with small-arm ammunition, on which I could, if I liked, get a seat, adding: 'Your kit must be of the smallest, as there will be no room for anything inside the cart.'

I returned to the dâk-bungalow, overjoyed at my success, to find myself quite an important personage, with everyone my friend, like the boy at school who is the lucky recipient of a hamper from home. 'Take me with you!' was the cry on all sides. Only two others besides the driver and myself could possibly go, and then only by carrying our kits in our laps. It was finally arranged that Captain Law and Lieutenant Packe should be my companions. Packe was lamed for life by a shot through his ankle before we had been forty-eight hours at Delhi, and Law was killed on the 23rd July, having greatly distinguished himself by his gallantry and coolness under fire during the short time he served with the force.

We got to Kurnal soon after daybreak on the 28th. It was occupied by a few of the Raja of Jhind's troops, a Commissariat officer, and one or two civilians, who were trying to keep the country quiet and collect supplies. Before noon we passed through Panipat, where there was a strong force of Patiala and Jhind troops, and early in the afternoon we reached Alipur. Here our driver pulled up, declaring he would go no further. A few days before there had been a sharp fight on the road between Alipur and Delhi, not far from Badli-ki-Serai, where the battle of the 8th June had taken place, and as the enemy were constantly on the road threatening the rear of the besieging force, the driver did not consider it safe to go on. We could not, however, stop at Alipur, so after some consultation we settled to take the mail-cart ponies and ride on to camp. We could hear the boom of guns at intervals, and as we neared Delhi we came across several dead bodies of the enemy. It is a curious fact that most of these bodies were exactly like mummies; there was nothing disagreeable about them.

Why this should have been the case I cannot say, but I often wished[Page 82] during the remainder of the campaign that the atmospheric influences, which, I presume, had produced this effect, could assert themselves more frequently.

In the Camp before Delhi We stopped for a short time to look at the position occupied by the enemy at Badli-ki-Serai; but none of us were in the mood to enjoy sight-seeing. We had never been to Delhi before, and had but the vaguest notion where the Ridge (the position our force was holding) was, or how the city was situated with regard to our camp. The sound of heavy firing became louder and louder, and we knew that fighting must be going on. The driver had solemnly warned us of the risk we were running in continuing our journey, and when we came to the point where the Grand Trunk Road bifurcates, one branch going direct to the city and the other through the cantonment, we halted for a few minutes to discuss which we should take. Fortunately for us, we settled to follow that which led to the cantonment, and, as it was then getting dark, we pushed on as fast as our tired ponies could go. The relief to us when we found ourselves safe inside our own piquets may be imagined. My father's old staff-officer, Henry Norman, who was then Assistant-Adjutant-General at Head-Quarters, kindly asked me to share his tent until I could make other arrangements. He had no bed to offer me, but I required none, as I was thoroughly tired out, and all I wanted was a spot on which to throw myself down. A good night's rest quite set me up. I awoke early, scarcely able to believe in my good fortune. I was actually at Delhi, and the city was still in the possession of the mutineers.



Before entering on the narrative of what came under my own observation during the three months I was at Delhi, I will relate what took place after Sir Henry Barnard succeeded General Anson in command on the 26th May, and how the little British force maintained itself against almost overwhelming odds during the first three weeks of that memorable siege.

Barnard had served as Chief of the Staff in the Crimea, and had held various staff appointments in England; but he was an utter stranger to India, having only arrived in the country a few weeks before. He fully realized the difficulties of the position to which he had so unexpectedly succeeded, for he was aware how unjustly Anson was being judged by those who, knowing nothing of war, imagined he could have started to attack Delhi with scarcely more preparation than would have been necessary for a morning's parade. The officers of the column were complete strangers to him, and he to them, and he was[Page 83] ignorant of the characteristics and capabilities of the Native portion of his troops. It must, therefore, have been with an anxious heart that he took over the command.

One of Barnard's first acts was to get rid of the unreliable element which Anson had brought away from Umballa. The Infantry he sent to Rohtuk, where it shortly afterwards mutinied, and the Cavalry to Meerut. That these troops should have been allowed to retain their weapons is one of the mysteries of the Mutiny. For more than two months their insubordination had been apparent, incendiarism had occurred which had been clearly traced to them, and they had even gone so far as to fire at their officers; both John Lawrence and Robert Montgomery had pressed upon the Commander-in-Chief the advisability of disarming them; but General Anson, influenced by the regimental officers, who could not believe in the disaffection of their men, had not grasped the necessity for this precautionary measure. The European soldiers with the column, however, did not conceal their mistrust of these sepoys, and Barnard acted wisely in sending them away; but it was extraordinary that they should have been allowed to keep their arms.

On the 5th June Barnard reached Alipur, within ten miles of Delhi, where he decided to await the arrival of the siege-train and the troops from Meerut.

The Meerut brigade, under Brigadier Wilson, had started on the 27th May. It consisted of two squadrons of the Carabineers, Tombs's1 troop of Horse Artillery, Scott's Field Battery and two 18-pounder guns, a wing of the 1st Battalion 60th Rifles, a few Native Sappers and Miners, and a detachment of Irregular Horse.

The First Victory Early on the 30th the village of Ghazi-u-din-nagar (now known as Ghaziabad) close to the Hindun river, and about eleven miles from Delhi, was reached. Thence it was intended to make a reconnaissance towards Delhi, but about four o'clock in the afternoon a vedette reported that the enemy were approaching in strength. A very careless look-out had been kept, for almost simultaneously with the report a round shot came tumbling into camp. The troops fell in as quickly as possible, and the Artillery came into action. The Rifles crossed the Hindun suspension bridge, and, under cover of our guns, attacked the enemy, who were strongly posted in a village. From this position they were speedily dislodged, and the victory was complete. Seven hundred British soldiers defeated seven times their number, capturing five guns and a large quantity of ammunition and stores. Our loss was one officer and ten men killed, and one officer and eighteen men wounded.

[plate 6]

Major-General Sir Harry Tombs, V.C., G.C.B.


a Photograph by Messrs. Grillet and Co.

The following day (Sunday) the enemy reappeared about noon, but[Page 84] after two hours' fighting they were again routed, and on our troops occupying their position, they could be seen in full retreat towards Delhi. The rebels succeeded in taking their guns with them, for our men, prostrated by the intense heat and parched with thirst, were quite unable to pursue. We had one officer and eleven men killed, and two officers and ten men wounded. Among the latter was an ensign of the 60th Rifles, a boy named Napier, a most gallant young fellow, full of life and spirit, who had won the love as well as the admiration of his men. He was hit in the leg, and the moment he was brought into camp it had to be amputated. When the operation was over, Napier was heard to murmur, 'I shall never lead the Rifles again! I shall never lead the Rifles again!' His wound he thought little of. What grieved him was the idea of having to give up his career as a soldier, and to leave the regiment he was so proud of. Napier was taken to Meerut, where he died a few days afterwards.2

On the 1st June Wilson's force was strengthened by the Sirmur battalion of Gurkhas,3 a regiment which later covered itself with glory, and gained an undying name by its gallantry during the siege of Delhi.

On the 7th June Wilson's brigade crossed the Jumna at Baghput, and at Alipur it joined Barnard's force, the men of which loudly cheered their Meerut comrades as they marched into camp with the captured guns. The siege-train had arrived the previous day, and Barnard was now ready for an advance. His force consisted of about 600 Cavalry and 2,400 Infantry, with 22 field-guns. There were besides 150 European Artillerymen, chiefly recruits, with the siege-train, which comprised eight 18-pounders, four 8-inch and twelve 5½ inch mortars. The guns, if not exactly obsolete, were quite unsuited for the work that had to be done, but they were the best procurable. George Campbell, in his 'Memoirs of my Indian Career,' thus describes the siege-train as he saw it passing through Kurnal: 'I could not help thinking that it looked a very trumpery affair with which to bombard and take a great fortified city;' and he expressed his 'strong belief that Delhi would never be taken by that battery.'

Barnard heard that the enemy intended to oppose his march to Delhi, and in order to ascertain their exact position he sent Lieutenant Hodson (who had previously done good service for the Commander-in-Chief by opening communication with Meerut) to reconnoitre the road. Hodson reported that the rebels were in force at Badli-ki-Serai a little more than halfway between Alipur and Delhi. Orders were accordingly issued for an advance at midnight on the 7th June.

Enthusiasm Amongst the Troops When it became known that a battle was imminent, there was great enthusiasm amongst the troops, who were burning to avenge the massacres of Meerut and Delhi. The sick in hospital declared they[Page 85] would remain there no longer, and many, quite unfit to walk, insisted on accompanying the attacking column, imploring their comrades not to mention that they were ill, for fear they should not be allowed to take part in the fight.4

The mutineers had selected an admirable position on both sides of the main road. To their right was a serai and a walled village capable of holding large numbers of Infantry, and protected by an impassable swamp. To their left, on some rising ground, a sand-bag battery for four heavy guns and an 8-inch mortar had been constructed. On both sides the ground was swampy and intersected by water-cuts, and about a mile to the enemy's left, and nearly parallel to the road, ran the Western Jumna Canal.

Barnard's Success at
At the hour named, Brigadier Hope Grant,5 commanding the Cavalry, started with ten Horse Artillery guns, three squadrons of the 9th Lancers, and fifty Jhind horsemen under Lieutenant Hodson, with the object of turning the enemy's left flank. Shortly afterwards the main body marched along the road until the lights in the enemy's camp became visible. Colonel Showers, who had succeeded Hallifax in the command of the 1st Brigade,6 moved off to the right of the road, and Colonel Graves, who had taken Jones's place with the 2nd Brigade,7 to the left. The heavy guns remained on the road with a battery of Field Artillery on either flank. Just as day broke our guns advanced, but before they were in position the fight began by a cannonade from the rebel Artillery, which caused us severe loss. To this destructive fire no adequate reply could be made; our guns were too few and of too small calibre. To add to our difficulties, the Native bullock-drivers of our heavy guns went off with their cattle, and one of the waggons blew up. At this critical moment Barnard ordered Showers to charge the enemy's guns, a service which was performed with heroic gallantry by Her Majesty's 75th Foot, who carried the position at the point of the bayonet, with a loss of 19 officers and men killed and 43 wounded. Then, supported by the 1st Fusiliers, the same regiment dashed across the road and burst open the gates of the serai. A desperate fight ensued, but the sepoys were no match for British bayonets, and they now learnt that their misdeeds were not to be allowed to go unpunished. Graves's brigade, having passed round the jhil,8 appeared on the enemy's right rear, while Grant with his Cavalry and Horse Artillery threatened their left. The defeat was complete, and the rebels retreated hastily towards Delhi, leaving their guns on the ground.

Although the men were much exhausted, Barnard determined to[Page 86] push on, for he feared that if he delayed the rebels might rally, and occupy another strong position.

From the cross-roads just beyond Badli-ki-Serai could be seen the Ridge on which the British force was to hold its own for more than three months during the heat of an Indian summer, and under the rain of an Indian monsoon. At this point two columns were formed, Barnard taking command of the one, which proceeded to the left towards the cantonment, and Wilson of the other, which moved along the city road. Wilson's column fought its way through gardens and enclosures until it reached the western extremity of the Ridge. Barnard, as he came under the fire of the enemy's guns, made a flank movement to the left, and then, wheeling to his right, swept along the Ridge from the Flagstaff Tower to Hindu Rao's house, where the two columns united, the rebels flying before them.

Barnard had achieved a great success and with comparatively small loss, considering the formidable position occupied by the enemy, their great strength in Artillery, and their superiority in numbers.

Our casualties were 51 killed and 131 wounded. Among the former was Colonel Chester, the Adjutant-General of the Army. Of the troops opposed to us it was reckoned that 1,000 never returned to Delhi; thirteen guns were captured, two of them being 24-pounders.

I have frequently wandered over the Ridge since 1857, and thought how wonderfully we were aided by finding a ready-made position—not only a coign of vantage for attack, but a rampart of defence, as Forrest9 describes it. This Ridge, rising sixty feet above the city, covered the main line of communication to the Punjab, upon the retention of which our very existence as a force depended. Its left rested on the Jumna, unfordable from the time the snow on the higher ranges begins to melt until the rainy season is over, and of sufficient width to prevent our being enfiladed by field-guns; although, on the immediate right, bazaars, buildings, and garden-walls afforded cover to the enemy, the enclosed nature of the ground was so far advantageous that it embarrassed and impeded them in their attempts to organize an attack in force upon our flank or rear; and a further protection was afforded by the Najafgarh jhil, which during the rains submerges a vast area of land.

The distance of the Ridge from the city walls varied considerably. On our right, where the memorial monument now stands, it was about 1,200 yards, at the Flagstaff Tower about a mile and a half, and at the end near the river nearly two miles and a half. This rendered our left comparatively safe, and it was behind the Ridge in this direction that the main part of our camp was pitched. The Flagstaff Tower in the centre was the general rendezvous for the non-combatants, and for those of the sick and wounded who were able to move about, as they[Page 87] could assemble there and hear the news from the front without much risk of injury from the enemy's fire.

The Flagstaff Tower The Flagstaff Tower is interesting from the fact that it was here the residents from the cantonment of Delhi assembled to make a stand, on hearing that the rebels from Meerut were murdering the British officers on duty within the city, that the three Native regiments and battery of Field Artillery had joined the mutineers, and that at any moment they themselves might expect to be attacked. The tower was 150 feet high, with a low parapet running round the top, approached by a narrow winding staircase. Here the men of the party proposed to await the attack. The ladies, who behaved with the utmost coolness and presence of mind, were, with the wives and children of the few European non-commissioned officers, placed for their greater safety on the stairs, where they were all but suffocated by the stifling heat in such a confined space. The little party on the roof consisted of some twenty British officers, the same number of half-caste buglers and drummers, and half a dozen European soldiers. Not a drop of water, not a particle of food, was to be had. No help appeared to be coming from Meerut, in the direction of which place many a longing and expectant glance had been cast during the anxious hours of that miserable 11th May. Constant and heavy firing was heard from the city and suburbs, and the Cavalry were reported to be advancing on the cantonment.

Before evening the weary watchers realized that their position was untenable, and that their only possible chance of escaping the fate which had befallen the officers within the city (whose dead bodies had been inhumanly sent in a cart to the Tower) lay in flight. Shortly before dark the move was made, the women and children were crowded into the few vehicles available, and accompanied by the men, some on foot and some on horseback, they got away by the road leading towards Umballa. They were only just in time, for before the last of the party were out of sight of the cantonment, crowds of Natives poured into it, burning, plundering, and destroying everything they could find.

Amongst the fugitives from Delhi was Captain Tytler, of the 38th Native Infantry, who, after a variety of vicissitudes, reached Umballa safely with his wife and children. When Anson's force was being formed for the advance on Delhi, Tytler was placed in charge of the military treasure chest, and through some unaccountable negligence Mrs. Tytler was allowed to accompany him. I believe that, when Mrs. Tytler's presence became known to the authorities, she would have been sent out of camp to some safe place, but at that time she was not in a fit state to travel, and on the 21st June, a few days after the force took up its position under a heavy cannonade, she gave birth to a son in the waggon in which she was accommodated. The infant, who was[Page 88] christened Stanley Delhi Force, seems to have been looked upon by the soldiery with quite a superstitious feeling, for the father tells us that soon after its birth he overheard a soldier say; 'Now we shall get our reinforcements; this camp was formed to avenge the blood of innocents, and the first reinforcement sent to us is a new-born infant.' Reinforcements did actually arrive the next day.

Position on the Ridge It was on the afternoon of the 8th June that the British force was placed in position on the Ridge. The main piquet was established at Hindu Rao's house, a large stone building, in former days the country residence of some Mahratta Chief. About one hundred and eighty yards further to the left was the observatory, near which our heavy gun battery was erected. Beyond the observatory was an old Pathan mosque, in which was placed an Infantry piquet with two field-guns. Still further to the left came the Flagstaff Tower, held by a party of Infantry with two more field-guns. At the extreme right of the Ridge, overlooking the trunk road, there was a strong piquet with a heavy battery.

This was the weak point of our defence. To the right, and somewhat to the rear, was the suburb of Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market), a succession of houses and walled gardens, from which the rebels constantly threatened our flank. To protect this part of the position as much as possible, a battery of three 18-pounders and an Infantry piquet was placed on what was known as the General's Mound, with a Cavalry piquet and two Horse Artillery guns immediately below. In front of the Ridge the ground was covered with old buildings, enclosures, and clumps of trees, which afforded only too perfect shelter to the enemy when making their sorties.

As described by the Commanding Engineer, 'the eastern face of Delhi rests on the Jumna, and at the season of the year during which our operations were carried on, the stream may be described as washing the face of the walls. The river front was therefore inaccessible to the besieging force, while at the same time the mutineers and the inhabitants of the city could communicate freely across the river by means of the bridge of boats and ferries. This rendered it impossible for us to invest Delhi, even if there had been a sufficient number of troops for the purpose. We were only able, indeed, to direct our attack against a small portion of the city wall, while throughout the siege the enemy could freely communicate with, and procure supplies from, the surrounding country.

'On the river front the defences consisted of an irregular wall with occasional bastions and towers, and about one half of the length of this face was occupied by the palace of the King of Delhi and its outwork, the old Moghul fort of Selimgarh.

'The remaining defences consisted of a succession of bastioned fronts, the connecting curtains being very long, and the outworks[Page 89] limited to one crown-work at the Ajmir gate, and Martello towers mounting a single gun, at the points where additional flanking fire to that given by the bastions themselves was required.'10

The above description will give some idea of the strength of the great city which the British force had come to capture. For more than two months, however, our energies were devoted not to capturing the city, but to defending ourselves, having to be ever on the watch to guard our communication with the Punjab, and to repel the enemy's almost daily sorties.

The Defences of Delhi The defences of Delhi, which remain almost unaltered up to the present day, were modernized forms of the ancient works that existed when the city fell before Lord Lake's army in 1803. These works had been strengthened and improved some years before the Mutiny by Lieutenant Robert Napier.11 How thoroughly and effectually that talented and distinguished Engineer performed the duty entrusted to him, we who had to attack Delhi could testify to our cost.

Barnard was not left long in doubt as to the intentions of the rebels, who, the very afternoon on which he occupied the Ridge, attacked Hindu Rao's house, where the Sirmur battalion, two companies of the 60th Rifles, and two of Scott's guns had been placed. The enemy were driven off before dark. The following day they began to cannonade from the city walls, and in the afternoon repeated their attack.

That same morning a welcome reinforcement reached camp, the famous Corps of Guides having arrived as fresh as if they had returned from an ordinary field day, instead of having come off a march of nearly 600 miles, accomplished in the incredibly short time of twenty-two days, at the most trying season of the year. The General, having inspected them, said a few words of encouragement to the men, who begged their gallant Commandant to say how proud they were to belong to the Delhi Force. Their usefulness was proved that same afternoon, when, in support of the piquets, they engaged the enemy in[Page 90] a hand-to-hand contest, and drove them back to the city.

Quintin Battye It was close up to the walls that Quintin Battye, the dashing Commander of the Guides Cavalry, received his mortal wound. He was the brightest and cheeriest of companions, and although only a subaltern of eight years' service, he was a great loss. I spent a few hours with him on my way to Delhi, and I remember how his handsome face glowed when he talked of the opportunities for distinguishing themselves in store for the Guides. Proud of his regiment, and beloved by his men, who, grand fellows themselves, were captivated by his many soldierly qualities, he had every prospect before him of a splendid career, but he was destined to fall in his first fight. He was curiously fond of quotations, and the last words he uttered were 'Dulce et decorum est pro patriâ mori.'

While our Infantry and Field Artillery were busily engaged with the enemy, the few heavy guns we had were put in position on the Ridge. Great things were hoped from them, but it was soon found that they were not powerful enough to silence the enemy's fire, and that our small supply of ammunition was being rapidly expended.12 The rebels' guns were superior in number and some in calibre to ours, and were well served by the Native Artillerymen whom we had been at such pains to teach. Barnard discovered, too, that his deficiencies in men and matériel prevented regular approaches being made. There were only 150 Native Sappers and Miners with our force, and Infantry could not be spared for working parties.

The Gallant Little Gurkhas On the 10th June another determined attack was made on Hindu Rao's house, which was repulsed by the Sirmur battalion of Gurkhas under its distinguished Commandant, Major Reid.13 The mutineers quite hoped that the Gurkhas would join them, and as they were advancing they called out: 'We are not firing; we want to speak to you; we want you to join us.' The little Gurkhas replied, 'Oh yes; we are coming,' on which they advanced to within twenty paces of the rebels, and, firing a well-directed volley, killed nearly thirty of them.

The next day the insurgents made a third attack, and were again repulsed with considerable loss. They knew that Hindu Rao's house was the key of our position, and throughout the siege they made the most desperate attempts to capture it. But Barnard had entrusted this post of danger to the Gurkhas, and all efforts to dislodge them were unavailing. At first Reid had at his command only his own battalion and two companies of the 60th Rifles; but on the arrival of the Guides their Infantry were also placed at his disposal, and whenever he[Page 91] sounded the alarm he was reinforced by two more companies of the 60th. Hindu Rao's house was within easy range of nearly all the enemy's heavy guns, and was riddled through and through with shot and shell. Reid never quitted the Ridge save to attack the enemy, and never once visited the camp until carried into it severely wounded on the day of the final assault. Hindu Rao's house was the little Gurkhas' hospital as well as their barrack, for their sick and wounded begged to be left with their comrades instead of being taken to camp.14

Failing in their attempts on the centre of the position, the mutineers soon after daylight on the 12th, having concealed themselves in the ravines adjoining Metcalfe House, attacked the Flagstaff Tower, the piquet of which was composed of two Horse Artillery guns and two companies of the 75th Foot, under the command of Captains Dunbar and Knox. A heavy fog and thick mist rolling up from the low ground near the Jumna completely enveloped the Ridge and the left front of our position, hiding everything in the immediate vicinity. The piquet was on the point of being relieved by a detachment of the 2nd Bengal Fusiliers, when a large body of the enemy, who had crept up unobserved, made a rush at the Flagstaff Tower, and as nearly as possible captured the guns. The piquet was hardly pressed, Knox and several men were killed, and but for the timely arrival of two companies of the 60th, the rebels would have gained the day.

This engagement was scarcely over, when masses of insurgents advanced from the Sabzi Mandi upon Hindu Rao's house, and into the gardens on the right flank of the camp, threatening the Mound piquet. Reserves were called up, these attacks, in their turn, were repulsed and the rebels were pursued for some distance. It was most fortunate that both attacks did not take place simultaneously, as was the obvious intention of the enemy, for our strength would not have been sufficient to repel them both at the same moment.

In order to prevent the mutineers from coming to such close quarters again, a piquet was placed in Metcalfe's House, and the Mound to the rear of the ridge facing the Sabzi Mandi was strengthened. These precautions ought to, and would, have been taken before, but for the want of men. Our soldiers were scarcely ever off duty, and this fresh demand made it impossible at times to provide a daily relief for the several piquets.

Our resources in siege guns and ammunition were so limited, daily sorties, disease, and heat were making such ravages amongst our small force, there was so little hope of receiving any considerable reinforcements, and it appeared to be of such paramount importance to capture Delhi without further delay, that Barnard agreed to a proposal for[Page 92] taking it by a coup de main.

Proposed Assault The particular details of the project and disposition of the troops were worked out by three young officers of Engineers, under the direct orders of the General, and were kept a profound secret; even the Commanding Engineer was not made acquainted with them. Secrecy was, of course, of vital importance, but that the officers who ought to have been chiefly concerned were kept in ignorance of the scheme, shows there was little of that confidence so essential to success existing between the Commander and those who were in the position of his principal advisers. Practically the whole force was to be engaged, divided into three columns—one to enter by the Kashmir gate, the second by the Lahore gate, and the third was to attempt an escalade. The three columns, if they succeeded in effecting an entrance, were to work their way to the centre of the city, and there unite.

It was intended that these columns should move off from camp so as to arrive at the walls just before daybreak; accordingly, at one o'clock on the morning of the 13th June the troops were suddenly paraded and ammunition served out, and then for the first time the Commanders of the three columns and the staff were made acquainted with the General's intentions. It so happened that the 75th Foot, which had followed the enemy into the grounds of Metcalfe House after the repulse on the Flagstaff Tower the previous morning, had through some oversight never been recalled; their absence was only discovered when the order was given for the regiment to turn out, and a considerable time was wasted in sending for it and bringing it back to camp. Day was breaking when this regiment received its ammunition, and all hope of an unperceived advance to the walls had to be given up. The troops were therefore dismissed, and allowed to turn in, having been uselessly disturbed from their much-needed rest.

The failure to give effect to the young Engineer officers' plan may be looked upon as a merciful dispensation of Providence, which saved us from what would almost certainly have been an irreparable disaster. When we think of the hard fighting encountered when the assault did take place under much more favourable circumstances, and how the columns at the end of that day were only just able to get inside the city, those who had practical knowledge of the siege can judge what chance there would have been of these smaller columns accomplishing their object, even if they had been able to take the enemy by surprise.

The 13th and 14th passed in comparative quiet; but early on the 15th a strong force advanced from Delhi against the Metcalfe House piquet, with the object of turning our left flank, but it was driven back with considerable loss.

Hard Fighting On the 17th we were attacked from almost every direction—a manœuvre intended to prevent our observing a battery which was being constructed close to an Idgah,15 situated on a hill to our right,[Page 93] from which to enfilade our position on the Ridge. As it was very important to prevent the completion of this battery, Barnard ordered it to be attacked by two small columns, one commanded by Tombs, of the Bengal Horse Artillery, the other by Reid. Tombs, with 400 of the 60th Rifles and 1st Bengal Fusiliers, 30 of the Guides Cavalry, 20 Sappers and Miners, and his own troop of Horse Artillery, moved towards the enemy's left, while Reid, with four companies of the 60th and some of his own Gurkhas, advanced through Kishenganj against their right. Tombs drove the rebels through a succession of gardens till they reached the Idgah, where they made an obstinate but unavailing resistance. The gates of the mosque were blown open, and thirty-nine of its defenders were killed. Tombs himself was slightly wounded, and had two horses killed, making five which had been shot under this gallant soldier since the commencement of the campaign. Reid's attack was equally successful. He completely destroyed the battery, and inflicted heavy loss on the enemy.

The Besiegers Besieged The next day but one the rebels issued from the city in great force, and threatened nearly every part of our position. The fighting was severe throughout the afternoon, the piquets having again and again to be reinforced. Towards evening, while nearly all the Infantry were thus engaged, a large party of the insurgents, passing unperceived through the suburbs and gardens on our right, reappeared about a mile and a half to our rear. Very few troops were left in camp, and all Hope Grant, who was in command at the time, could collect was four or five squadrons of Cavalry and twelve guns. He found the enemy in a strong position, against which his light guns could make but little impression, while their Artillery and well-placed Infantry did us considerable damage. Tombs's troop especially suffered, and at one time his guns were in imminent danger of being captured. Just at this moment some of the Guides Cavalry rode up. 'Daly, if you do not charge,' called out Tombs, 'my guns are taken.' Daly spurred into the bushes, followed by about a dozen of his gallant Guides. He returned with a bullet through his shoulder, but the momentary diversion saved the guns.16

As long as it was light the steady fire of the Artillery and the dashing charges of the Cavalry kept the rebels in check; but in the dusk of the evening their superior numbers told: they very nearly succeeded in turning our flank, and for some time the guns were again in great jeopardy; the 9th Lancers and Guides, bent on saving them at all hazards, charged the enemy; but, with a ditch and houses on each side, their action was paralyzed, and their loss severe. All was now in confusion, the disorder increasing as night advanced, when a small body of Infantry (about 300 of the 60th Rifles) came up, dashed forward, and,[Page 94] cutting a lane through the rebels, rescued the guns.17

Our loss in this affair amounted to 3 officers and 17 men killed, and 7 officers and 70 men wounded. Among the latter was Hope Grant, who had his horse shot under him in a charge, and was saved by the devotion of two men of his own regiment (the 9th Lancers) and a Mahomedan sowar of the 4th Irregular Cavalry.

It was nearly midnight before the troops returned to camp. The enemy had been frustrated in their attempt to force our rear, but they had not been driven back; we had, indeed, been only just able to hold our own. The result of the day added considerably to the anxiety of the Commander. He saw that the rebels had discovered our weak point, and that if they managed to establish themselves in our rear, our communication with the Punjab would be cut off, our small force would be invested, and without supplies and reinforcements it would be impossible to maintain our position against the daily increasing strength of the insurgents. Great was the despondency in camp when the result of the day's fighting was known; but the fine spirit which animated the force throughout the siege soon asserted itself, and our men cheerfully looked forward to the next encounter with the enemy.

At daybreak Grant was again upon the ground, but found it abandoned. Many dead men and horses were lying about, and a 9-pounder gun, left by the enemy, was brought into camp.

The troops had scarcely got back, hoping for a little rest, when the enemy again resumed their attack on the rear, and opened fire at so short a distance that their shot came right through the camp. But on this occasion they made no stand, and retreated as soon as our troops showed themselves.

In order to strengthen our position in rear a battery of two 18-pounders was constructed, supported by Cavalry and Infantry piquets, and most of the bridges over the drain from the Najafgarh jhil were destroyed.

For two days after the events I have just described the hard-worked little body of troops had comparative rest, but our spies informed us that the enemy were being largely reinforced, and that we might expect to be hotly attacked on the 23rd.

The Centenary of Plassy For some time an idea had been prevalent amongst the Natives that the English raj was not destined to survive its hundredth year, and that the centenary of Clive's victory on the field of Plassy on the 23rd June, 1757, would see its downfall. This idea was strengthened in the Native mind by the fact that the 23rd June, 1857, was a date propitious alike for Hindus and Mahomedans; the Jattsa, a Hindu religious festival, was to take place on that day, and there was also to be a new moon, which the Mahomedans looked upon as a lucky omen; the[Page 95] astrologers, therefore, declared that the stars in their courses would fight for the mutineers. If, however, prophecies and omens alike appeared to favour the rebels, fortune was not altogether unkind to us, for on the 22nd a reinforcement reached Rhai, twenty-two miles from Delhi, consisting of six Horse Artillery guns, a small party of British Infantry, a squadron of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry, and the Head-Quarters of the 4th Sikhs, numbering in all about 850 men.

A staff officer was sent at once to Rhai to hurry on the force and tell them how urgently their assistance was required in camp; this appeal was responded to with the utmost alacrity, and early the next evening the welcome reinforcement made its appearance.

It had scarcely arrived before the Artillery on the city walls opened fire, while guns, which had been brought into the suburbs, enfiladed our right and concentrated a heavy fire on Hindu Rao's house which the few guns we had in position were quite unable to silence. The rebel Infantry occupied Kishenganj and Sabzi Mandi in force, and threatened to advance on the Mound battery, while a constant musketry fire was maintained upon the Ridge. Reid reported that the mutineers made a desperate attack at about twelve o'clock, and that no men could have fought better; they charged the Rifles, the Guides, and the Gurkhas again and again. The cannonade raged fast and furious, and at one time it seemed as though the day must be lost. Thousands were brought against a mere handful of men; but Reid knew the importance of his position, and was determined at all hazards to hold it until reinforcements arrived.18

The mutineers were checked, but not driven off. The first attempt from the Mound battery failed to repulse them, and Colonel Welchman, who was in command, was dangerously wounded. Every available man in camp had been engaged, and as a last resource the 2nd Fusiliers and the 4th Sikhs, who had just arrived from Rhai, were sent to the front. Showers was placed in command, and shortly before the day closed he succeeded in forcing the enemy to retire. So the anniversary of Plassy saw us, though hardly pressed, undefeated, and the enemy's hopes unfulfilled. They lost over 1,000 men. Our casualties were 1 officer and 38 men killed, and 3 officers and 118 men wounded. The heat all the while was terrific, and several of our men were knocked over by the sun.

The lesson taught us by this severe fighting was the importance of occupying the Sabzi Mandi, and thus preventing the enemy from approaching too close to the camp and enfilading the Ridge. This entailed more constant duty upon our already overworked soldiers, but Barnard felt that it would not do to run the risk of another such struggle.

A piquet of 180 Europeans was accordingly placed in the Sabzi Mandi,[Page 96] part in a serai on one side of the Grand Trunk Road, and the rest in a Hindu temple on the opposite side. These posts were connected by a line of breastworks with the Hindu Rao piquets, and added considerably to the strength of our position.

After the 23rd there were real or threatened attacks daily; but we were left fairly undisturbed until the 27th June, when the Metcalfe and Sabzi Mandi piquets were assaulted, and also the batteries on the Ridge. These attempts were defeated without any very great loss, only 13 of our men being killed, and 1 officer and 48 men wounded.



I will now continue my story from the 29th June, the morning after my arrival in camp, when I awoke full of excitement, and so eager to hear all my old friend Norman could tell me, that I am afraid he must have been considerably bored with my questions.

It is impossible for me to describe my pleasure at finding myself a member of a force which had already gained imperishable fame. I longed to meet and know the men whose names were in everyone's mouth. The hero of the day was Harry Tombs, of the Bengal Horse Artillery, an unusually handsome man and a thorough soldier. His gallantry in the attack on the Idgah, and wherever he had been engaged, was the general talk of the camp. I had always heard of Tombs as one of the best officers in the regiment, and it was with feelings of respectful admiration that I made his acquaintance a few days later.

Jemmy Hills,1 one of the subalterns in Tombs's troop, was an old Addiscombe friend of mine; he delighted in talking of his Commander, in dilating on his merits as a soldier and his skill in handling each arm of the service. As a cool, bold leader of men Tombs was unsurpassed: no fire, however hot, and no crisis, however unexpected, could take him by surprise; he grasped the situation in a moment, and issued his orders without hesitation, inspiring all ranks with confidence in his power and capacity. He was somewhat of a martinet, and was more feared than liked by his men until they realized what a grand leader he was, when they gave him their entire confidence, and were ready to follow him anywhere and everywhere.

[plate 7]

Lieutenant-General Sir James Hills-Johnes, V.C., G.C.B.


a Photograph by Messrs. Bourne and Shepherd

Another very distinguished officer of my regiment, whom I now met for the first time, and for whom I ever afterwards entertained the warmest regard, was Edwin Johnson,2 Assistant-Adjutant-General of the Bengal Artillery, in which capacity he had accompanied Brigadier[Page 97] Wilson from Meerut. He had a peculiarly bright intellect—somewhat caustic, but always clever and amusing. He was a delightful companion, and invariably gained the confidence of those with whom he worked.

A New Appointment Johnson was the first person on whom I called to report my arrival and to find out with which troop or battery I was to do duty. He told me that the Quartermaster-General wished to keep me in his department. So, after visiting General Chamberlain,3 who I knew would be anxious to hear all that had been going on in the Movable Column since his departure, I made my way to Colonel Becher, whom I found suffering from the severe wound he had received a few days before, and asked him what was to be my fate. He replied that the question had been raised of appointing an officer to help the Assistant-Adjutant-General of the Delhi Field Force, who found it impossible to carry on the daily increasing work single-handed, and that Chamberlain had thought of me for this post. Had Chamberlain's wish been carried out my career might have been quite changed, but while he was discussing the question with Sir Henry Barnard, Donald Stewart unexpectedly arrived in camp.

I was waiting outside Sir Henry Barnard's tent, anxious to hear what decision had been come to, when two men rode up, both looking greatly fatigued and half starved; one of them being Stewart. He told me they had had a most adventurous ride; but before waiting to hear his story,4 I asked Norman to suggest Stewart for the new appointment—a case of one word for Stewart and two for myself, I am afraid, for I had set my heart on returning to the Quartermaster-General's department. And so it was settled, to our mutual satisfaction, Stewart becoming the D.A.A.G. of the Delhi Field Force, and I the D.A.Q.M.G. with the Artillery.

[plate 8]


G.C.B., G.C.S.I., C.I.E.

a photograph by Messrs. Elliot and Fry.



That my readers may better understand our position at the time I joined the Delhi Field Force, I might, I think, quote with advantage from a letter1 written the very day of my arrival by General Barnard to Sir John Lawrence, in which he describes the difficulties of the situation, hitherto met by the troops with the most determined courage and endurance, but to which no end could be seen. When he took over the command, he wrote, he was expected to be able to silence at[Page 98] once the fire from the Mori and Kashmir bastions, and then to bring his heavy guns into play on the walls and open a way into the city, after which, it was supposed, all would be plain sailing. But this programme, so plausible in theory, was absolutely impossible to put into practice. In spite of every effort on our part, not a single one of the enemy's guns was silenced; they had four to our one, while the distance from the Ridge to the city walls was too great to allow of our comparatively light guns making any impression on them. Under these circumstances the only thing to be done was to construct batteries nearer to the city, but before these could be begun, entrenching tools, sandbags, and other necessary materials, of which the Engineers were almost entirely destitute, had to be collected. The troops were being worn out by constant sanguinary combats, and the attacks to which they were exposed required every soul in camp to repel them. It was never certain where the enemy intended to strike, and it was only by the most constant vigilance that their intentions could be ascertained, and the men were being incessantly withdrawn during the scorching heat of the day from one place to another. General Barnard concluded as follows: 'You may ask why we engage in these constant combats. The reason simply is that when attacked we must defend ourselves, and that to secure our camp, our hospitals, our stores, etc., every living being has to be employed. The whole thing is too gigantic for the force brought against it.'

Reinforcements Begin to Arrive Soon after Barnard wrote these lines reinforcements began to arrive, and our position was gradually improved. By the 3rd July the following troops had reached Delhi: four Horse Artillery guns (two British and two Native), a detachment of European Foot Artillery, the Head-Quarters of Her Majesty's 8th and 61st Foot, one squadron of the 5th Punjab Cavalry, the 1st Punjab Infantry, and some newly-raised Sikh Sappers and Artillery. The strength of the force was thus increased to nearly 6,600 men of all arms. The enemy's reinforcements, however, were out of all proportion to ours—mutineers from Jullundur, Nasirabad, Nimach, Kotah, Gwalior, Jhansi, and Rohilkand arrived about this time. Those from Rohilkand crossed by the bridge of boats and entered the city by the Calcutta gate; we could distinctly see them from the Ridge, marching in perfect formation, with their bands playing and colours flying. Indeed, throughout the siege the enemy's numbers were constantly being increased, while they had a practically unlimited number of guns, and the well-stocked magazine furnished them with an inexhaustible supply of ammunition.

I found myself under fire for the first time on the 30th June, when an attack was made on the Sabzi Mandi piquet and Hindu Rao's house. Eight of our men were killed and thirty wounded; amongst the latter were Yorke and Packe, both attached to the 4th Sikhs. It appeared certain that these two officers were wounded by the Hindustanis of[Page 99] their own regiment; Packe, who was shot through the ankle, being so close up to the breastwork that it was scarcely possible for the bullet which hit him to have come from the front. Consequently all the Hindustanis in the 4th Sikhs were disarmed and turned out of camp, as it was manifestly undesirable to have any but the most loyal soldiers in our ranks.

In the afternoon of the same day I was ordered to accompany a column under Brigadier Showers, sent on reconnoitring duty towards the Idgah, where we heard that the enemy were again constructing a battery. It had not been commenced, but the intention to build one was evident, for we found a number of entrenching tools, and a quantity of sandbags.

An Assault Again Proposed The question of attempting to take the city by a coup de main was now again discussed. It was urged that our numbers, already small, were being daily reduced by casualties and sickness; that the want of proper equipment rendered it impossible to undertake regular siege operations; and that a rising in the Punjab was imminent. The chances of success were certainly more favourable than they were on the 13th June. The force to be employed was stronger; all concerned—the staff, commanders, and troops—were fully apprised of what was intended, and of the part they would have to play; above all, the details of the scheme, which was drawn up on much the same lines as the former one, were carefully worked out by Lieutenant Alex. Taylor,2 who had recently come into camp, and was acting temporarily as Commanding Engineer.

Of the supreme importance of regaining possession of Delhi there can be no doubt whatever. But nevertheless the undertaking would, at that time, have been a most desperate one, and only to be justified by the critical position in which we were placed. In spite of the late reinforcements, we were a mere handful compared with the thousands within the walls. Success, therefore, depended on the completeness of the surprise; and, as we could make no movement without its being perceived by the enemy, surprise was impossible. Another strong reason against assaulting at that time was the doubtful attitude of some of the Hindustani Cavalry still with us; the whole of the effective troops, too, would have to be employed, and the sick and wounded—a large number—left to the mercy of the Native followers.

General Barnard carefully weighed all the arguments for and against the proposal, and at last reluctantly consented to the attack being made, but the discovery of a conspiracy amongst the Natives in camp caused it to be countermanded—a great disappointment to many, and there was much cavilling and discontent on the part of some, who could not have sufficiently appreciated the difficulties and risks of the[Page 100] undertaking, or the disastrous consequences of a repulse.

On the morning of the day on which it had been arranged that the assault should be made, the staff at Delhi received a most valuable addition in the person of Lieutenant-Colonel Baird-Smith, of the Bengal Engineers. Summoned from Rurki to take the place of the Chief Engineer, whose health had broken down, Baird-Smith was within sixty miles of Delhi on the 2nd July, when news of the intended movement reached him. He started at once, and arrived in camp early on the 3rd, but only to find that the assault had been postponed.

The Attack on Alipur On the afternoon of the 3rd July the enemy came out in force (5,000 or 6,000 strong with several guns), and occupied the suburbs to our right. The troops were turned out, but instead of attacking us and returning to the city as usual when it became dark, the rebels moved off in the direction of Alipur, where we had an outpost, which was held by Younghusband's squadron of the 5th Punjab Cavalry. They reached Alipur about midnight, and had they attacked the serai at once with Infantry, Younghusband and his men could hardly have escaped, but fortunately they opened upon it with Artillery. This gave the sowars time to mount and fall back on Rhai, the next post, ten miles to the rear, which was garrisoned by the friendly troops of the Jhind Raja. The sound of the guns being heard in camp, a column under the command of Major Coke was got ready to pursue should the insurgents push up the Trunk Road, or to cut them off should they try to make their way back to the city. Besides his own corps (the 1st Punjab Infantry), Coke was given a wing of the 61st Foot, six Horse and six Field Artillery guns, one squadron of the Carabineers, one squadron of the 9th Lancers, and the Guides Cavalry; in all about 800 Infantry, 300 Cavalry, and 12 guns, and I was sent with him as staff officer.

It was generally believed that the enemy were on the look-out for treasure coming from the Punjab, which was known to be under the charge of a Native guard, and we quite expected to have a long chase after them; we were, therefore, surprised to see them, as day broke, crossing our front on their way back to Delhi.

The rebels were moving on fairly high ground, but between us and them was a swamp rendered almost impassable by recent heavy rain. It extended a considerable distance on either side, and as there was no other way of getting at the rapidly retreating foe, it had to be crossed. Our Artillery opened fire, and Coke advanced with the Cavalry and Infantry. The swamp proved to be very difficult; in it men and horses floundered hopelessly, and before we were clear the enemy had got away with their guns; they were obliged, however, to leave behind all the plunder taken from Alipur, and a considerable quantity of ammunition. My share of the loot was a nice-looking, white, country-bred pony, which I found tied to a tree. I promptly annexed it, glad to save my own horse, and I congratulated myself on having made a[Page 101] most useful addition to my small stud. It did not, however, remain long in my possession, for a few days afterwards it was claimed by its rightful owner, Lieutenant Younghusband.

The heat was great, and as the soldiers were much distressed, having been under arms for ten hours, Coke halted the Infantry portion on the banks of the Western Jumna Canal instead of returning direct to camp. While we were enjoying a much-needed rest we were unexpectedly attacked by some fresh troops (including about 800 Cavalry) which had hurried out from the city. I was startled from a sound sleep by heavy firing, and saw the enemy advancing within a few hundred yards of our halting-place. Coke formed his Infantry along the bank of the canal, and sent a mounted officer to recall the Cavalry and Artillery. The enemy came on very boldly at first, but the steady fire of our Infantry kept them at bay, and when the guns arrived we had no difficulty in driving them off. They left 80 dead on the field; we had on our side 3 killed and 23 wounded, besides losing several British soldiers from sunstroke.

Major Coke was much grieved by the loss in this engagement of a Native friend of his, a Chief of the Kohat border, by name Mir Mubarak Shah. He was a grand specimen of a frontier Khan,3 and on hearing that the 1st Punjab Infantry was ordered to Delhi expressed his determination to accompany it. He got together a troop of eighty of his own followers, and leaving Kohat on the 1st June, overtook Coke at Kurnal on the 27th, a distance of nearly 600 miles. A day or two afterwards Coke's men were approached by the Hindustanis of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry, and some Native officers of the 9th Irregulars, who tried to induce them to join in the rebellion. Advances were made in the first instance to Mir Mubarak Shah and Mir Jaffir, the Subadar-Major of the 1st Punjab Infantry, who at once informed Coke of what was going on. As soon as the regiment reached Delhi the matter was investigated, and the Native officers who had endeavoured to tamper with the men were identified, tried, and executed.

Death of General Barnard About noon on the 5th July we heard the woeful tidings that General Barnard was seized with cholera. The army had never been free from that terrible scourge since the Commander-in-Chief fell a victim to it on the 26th May, and now it had attacked his successor, who was carried off after a few hours' illness. The feeling of sadness amongst the troops at the loss of their General was universal. Throughout the six trying weeks he had been in command of the force he had never spared himself. At work from morning till night in and about the trenches, he personally attended to every detail, and had won the respect and regard of all in camp.

Few Commanders were ever placed in a more difficult position than[Page 102] Barnard. He arrived at Umballa when the Native troops, to whose characteristics and peculiarities (as I have already remarked) he was a complete stranger, were thoroughly disaffected, and within a week of his taking over the command of the Sirhind division the Mutiny broke out. Without any previous knowledge of Indian warfare, he found himself in front of Delhi with a force altogether too weak to effect the object for which it was intended and without any of the appliances to ensure success; while those who did not realize the extreme risk involved never ceased clamouring at a delay which was unavoidable, and urging the General to undertake a task which was impossible.

Barnard has been blamed, and not unjustly, for mistrusting his own judgment and for depending upon others for advice about matters on which an experienced Commander ought to have been the best able to decide. But every allowance must be made for the position he was so unexpectedly called upon to fill and the peculiar nature of his surroundings. Failing health, too, probably weakened the self-reliance which a man who had satisfactorily performed the duties of Chief of the Staff in the Crimea must at one time have possessed.

General Reed Assumes Command On the death of Sir Henry Barnard, General Reed assumed command. He had joined the force on the morning of the action of Badli-ki-Serai, but though senior to Barnard, he was too much knocked up by the intense heat of the long journey from Peshawar to take part in the action, and he had allowed Barnard to continue in command.

For the next few days we had a comparatively quiet time, of which advantage was taken to render our position more secure towards the rear. The secrecy and rapidity with which the enemy had made their way to Alipur warned the authorities how easily our communication with the Punjab might be cut off. Baird-Smith saw the necessity for remedying this, and, acting on his advice, Reed had all the bridges over the Western Jumna Canal destroyed for several miles, except one required for our own use. The Phulchudder aqueduct, which carried the canal water into the city, and along which horsemen could pass to the rear of our camp, was blown up, as was also the Bussye bridge over the drain from the Najafgarh jhil, about eight miles from camp.

We were not left long in peace, for on the morning of the 9th July the enemy moved out of the city in great force, and for several hours kept up an incessant cannonade on our front and right flank.

Two V.C.'s The piquet below the General's Mound happened to be held this day by two guns of Tombs's troop, commanded by Second Lieutenant James Hills, and by thirty men of the Carabineers under Lieutenant Stillman. A little beyond, and to the right of this piquet, a Native officer's party of the 9th Irregular Cavalry had been placed to watch the Trunk Road. These men were still supposed to be loyal; the regiment to which they belonged had a good reputation, and as Christie's Horse had done excellent service in Afghanistan, where[Page 103] Neville and Crawford Chamberlain had served with it as subalterns. It was, therefore, believed at the Mound piquet that ample warning would be given of any enemy coming from the direction of the Trunk Road, so that the approach of some horsemen dressed like the men of the 9th Irregulars attracted little notice.

Stillman and Hills were breakfasting together, when a sowar from the Native officers' party rode up and reported that a body of the enemy's Cavalry were in sight. Hills told the man to gallop to Head-Quarters with the report, and to warn Tombs as he passed his tent. Hills and Stillman then mounted their men, neither of them having the remotest idea that the news of the enemy's advance had been purposely delayed until there was not time to turn out the troops. They imagined that the sowar was acting in good faith and had given them sufficient notice, and while Hills moved his guns towards the position from which he could command the Trunk Road, Stillman proceeded to the top of the Mound in order to get a better view of the ground over which the enemy were said to be advancing. The troop of the Carabineers was thus left by itself to receive the first rush of the rebel Cavalry; it was composed of young soldiers, some of them quite untrained, who turned and broke.

The moment Hills saw the enemy he shouted, 'Action front!' and, in the hope of giving his men time to load and fire a round of grape, he gallantly charged the head of the column single-handed, cut down the leading man, struck the second, and then was then ridden down himself. It had been raining heavily, so Hills wore his cloak; which probably saved his life, for it was cut through in many places, as were his jacket and even his shirt.

As soon as the body of the enemy had passed on, Hills, extricating himself from his horse, got up and searched for his sword, which he had lost in the mêlée. He had just found it when he was attacked by three men, two of whom were mounted; he fired at and wounded the first man; then caught the lance of the second in his left hand, and ran him through the body with his sword. The first assailant coming on again, Hills cut him down, upon which he was attacked by the third man on foot, who succeeded in wrenching his sword from him. Hills fell in the struggle, and must have been killed, if Tombs, who had been duly warned by the sowar, and had hurried out to the piquet, had not come to the rescue and saved his plucky subaltern's life.4

Notwithstanding Hills's gallant attempt to stop the sowars, his men had not time to fire a single round before they were upon them. Their object, however, was not to capture these two guns, but to induce the Native Horse Artillery to join them, and galloping past the piquet, they made straight for the troop, and called upon the men to bring away[Page 104] their guns. The Native Artillerymen behaved admirably: they not only refused to respond to the call, but they begged the men of the European troop, which was unlimbered close by, to fire through them on the mutineers.

Knowing nothing of what was happening, I was standing by my tent, watching my horses, which had just arrived from Philour, as they crossed the bridge over the canal cut which ran at the rear of our camp, when the enemy's Cavalry galloped over the bridge, and for a few moments my animals seemed in considerable danger; the sowars, however, having lost more than one-third of their number, and having failed in their attempt to get hold of the Native Horse Artillery guns, were bent upon securing their retreat rather than upon plunder. My servants gave a wonderful account of the many perils they had encountered—somewhat exaggerated, I dare say—but they had done me a real good service, having marched 200 miles through a very disturbed country, and arriving with animals and baggage in good order. Indeed, throughout the Mutiny my servants behaved admirably. The khidmatgar (table attendant) never failed to bring me my food under the hottest fire, and the saices (grooms) were always present with the horses whenever they were required, apparently quite indifferent to the risks they often ran. Moreover, they became imbued with such a warlike spirit that, when I was invalided in April, 1858, four of them enlisted in a regiment of Bengal Cavalry. The khidmatgar died soon after the Mutiny, but two of his brothers were afterwards in my service; one, who was with me during the Lushai expedition and the whole of the Afghan war, never left me for more than twenty years, and we parted with mutual regret at Bombay on board the P. and O. steamer in which I took my final departure from India in April, 1893.

Mine was not a solitary instance; not only the officers' servants, but the followers belonging to European regiments, such as cook-boys, saices and bhisties (water-carriers), as a rule, behaved in the most praiseworthy manner, faithful and brave to a degree. So much was this the case, that when the troopers of the 9th Lancers were called upon to name the man they considered most worthy of the Victoria Cross, an honour which Sir Colin Campbell purposed to confer upon the regiment to mark his appreciation of the gallantry displayed by all ranks during the campaign, they unanimously chose the head bhistie! Considering the peculiar position we were in at the time, it is somewhat remarkable that the conduct of the Native servants should have been so generally satisfactory. It speaks as well, I think, for the masters as the servants, and proves (what I have sometimes heard denied) that Native servants are, as a rule, kindly and considerately treated by their European masters.

To return to my story. The cannonade from within and without the city continued unceasing, and the enemy had again to be driven out of[Page 105] the near suburbs. This duty was entrusted to General Chamberlain, whom I accompanied as one of his staff officers. His column consisted of about 800 Infantry and six guns, a few more men joining us as we passed the Ridge. This was the first occasion on which I had witnessed fighting in gardens and walled enclosures, and I realized how difficult it was to dislodge men who knew how to take advantage of the cover thus afforded. Our soldiers, as usual, fought well against very heavy odds, and before we were able to force the enemy back into the city we had lost 1 officer and 40 men killed, and 8 officers and 163 men wounded, besides 11 poor fellows missing: every one of whom must have been murdered. The enemy had nearly 500 men killed, and considerably more than that number wounded.

Treachery in Camp The result of the day's experience was so far satisfactory that it determined General Reed to get rid of all the Hindustani soldiers still remaining in camp. It was clear that the Native officers' party near the Mound piquet had been treacherous; none of them were ever seen again, and it was generally believed that they had joined the enemy in their dash through the camp. The other Native soldiers did not hesitate to denounce their Hindustani comrades as traitors; the latter were consequently all sent away, except a few men of the 4th Irregular Cavalry who were deprived of their horses and employed solely as orderlies. It was also thought advisable to take the guns from the Native troop of Horse Artillery. A few of the younger men belonging to it deserted, but the older soldiers continued faithful, and did good work in the breaching batteries.

There was a short lull after our fight on the 9th—a sure sign that the enemy's loss was heavier than they had calculated upon. When the mutineers received reinforcements we were certain to be attacked within a few hours, but if no fresh troops arrived on the scene we could generally depend upon a day or two's respite.

Our next fight was on the 14th July. The rebels came out on that morning in great numbers, attacking Hindu Rao's house and the Sabzi Mandi piquets, and supported by a continuous fire of Artillery from the walls. For some hours we remained on the defensive, but as the enemy's numbers increased, and we were greatly harassed by their fire, a column was formed to dislodge them. It was of about the usual strength, viz., 800 Infantry and six Horse Artillery guns, with the addition of a few of the Guides Cavalry and of Hodson's newly-raised Horse. The command was given to Brigadier Showers, and I was sent as his staff officer; Reid joined in at the foot of the Ridge with all the men that could be spared, and Brigadier-General Chamberlain also accompanied the column.

We moved on under a very heavy fire until we reached an enclosure the wall of which was lined with the enemy. The troops stopped short, when Chamberlain, seeing that they hesitated, called upon them to[Page 106] follow him, and gave them a splendid example by jumping his horse over the wall. The men did follow him, and Chamberlain got a ball in his shoulder.

Fighting Close Up to the City Walls We had great difficulty in driving the enemy back; they contested every inch of the ground, the many serais and walled gardens affording them admirable cover; but our troops were not to be withstood; position after position was carried until we found ourselves in sight of the Lahore gate and close up to the walls of the city. In our eagerness to drive the enemy back we had, however, come too far. It was impossible to remain where we were. Musketry from the walls and grape from the heavy guns mounted on the Mori and other bastions committed terrible havoc. Men were falling on all sides, but the getting back was hazardous to the last degree. Numerous as the enemy were, they had not the courage to stand against us as long as we advanced, but the first sign of retreat was the signal for them to leave their shelter and press us the whole way to camp.

When the retirement commenced I was with the two advanced guns in action on the Grand Trunk Road. The subaltern in charge was severely wounded, and almost at the same moment one of his sergeants, a smart, handsome fellow, fell, shot through the leg. Seeing some men carrying him into a hut at the side of the road, I shouted: 'Don't put him there; he will be left behind; get a doolie for him, or put him on the limber.' But what with the incessant fire from the enemy's guns, the bursting of shells, the crashing of shot through the branches of the trees, and all the din and hubbub of battle, I could not have been heard, for the poor fellow with another wounded man was left in the hut, and both were murdered by the mutineers. So many of the men with the two guns were hors de combat, and the horses were so unsteady (several of them being wounded), that there was great difficulty in limbering up, and I was helping the drivers to keep the horses quiet, when I suddenly felt a tremendous blow on my back which made me faint and sick, and I was afraid I should not be able to remain on my horse. The powerless feeling, however, passed off, and I managed to stick on until I got back to camp. I had been hit close to the spine by a bullet, and the wound would probably have been fatal but for the fact that a leather pouch for caps, which I usually wore in front near my pistol, had somehow slipped round to the back; the bullet passed through this before entering my body, and was thus prevented from penetrating very deep.

The enemy followed us closely right up to our piquets, and but for the steadiness of the retirement our casualties must have been even more numerous than they were. As it was, they amounted to 15 men killed, 16 officers and 177 men wounded, and 2 men missing.

The enemy's loss was estimated at 1,000. For hours they were seen[Page 107] carrying the dead in carts back to the city.

My wound, though comparatively slight, kept me on the sick-list for a fortnight, and for more than a month I could not mount a horse or put on a sword-belt. I was lucky in that my tent was pitched close to that of John Campbell Brown, one of the medical officers attached to the Artillery. He had served during the first Afghan war, with Sale's force, at Jalalabad, and throughout both the campaigns in the Punjab, and had made a great reputation for himself as an army surgeon. He looked after me while I was laid up, and I could not have been in better hands.

Sufferings of the Sick and Wounded The Delhi Force was fortunate in its medical officers. Some of the best in the army were attached to it, and all that was possible to be done for the sick and wounded under the circumstances was done. But the poor fellows had a bad time of it. A few of the worst cases were accommodated in the two or three houses in the cantonment that had escaped destruction, but the great majority had to put up with such shelter from the burning heat and drenching rain as an ordinary soldiers' tent could provide. Those who could bear the journey and were not likely to be fit for duty for some time were sent away to Meerut and Umballa; but even with the relief thus afforded, the hospitals throughout the siege were terribly overcrowded. Anæsthetics were freely used, but antiseptics were practically unknown, consequently many of the severely wounded died, and few amputation cases survived.

A great aggravation to the misery and discomfort in hospital was the plague of flies. Delhi is at all times noted for having more than its share of these drawbacks to life in the East, but during the siege they were a perfect pest, and for the short time I was laid up I fully realized the suffering which our sick and wounded soldiers had to endure. At night the inside of my tent was black with flies. At the first ray of light or the smallest shake to the ropes, they were all astir, and for the rest of the day there was no peace; it was even difficult to eat without swallowing one or more of the loathsome insects. I had to brush them away with one hand while I put the food into my mouth with the other, and more than once I had to rush from the table, a fly having eluded all my efforts to prevent his going down my throat.

As soon as I could get about a little, but before I was able to perform my legitimate work, I was employed in helping to look after the conservancy of the camp and its surroundings—an extremely disagreeable but most important duty, for an Indian army must always have a large following, for which sanitary arrangements are a difficulty. Then, large convoys of camels and bullock-carts arrived daily with supplies and stores, and a considerable number of transport animals had to be kept in readiness to follow up the enemy with a suitably sized force, whenever we could drive them out of the city. Without any shelter,[Page 108] and often with insufficient food, deaths amongst the animals were of constant occurrence, and, unless their carcases could at once be removed, the stench became intolerable. Every expedient was resorted to to get rid of this nuisance. Some of the carcases were dragged to a distance from camp, some were buried, and some were burnt, but, notwithstanding all our efforts, many remained to be gradually devoured by the jackals which prowled about the camp, and by the innumerable birds of prey which instinct had brought to Delhi from the remotest parts of India.5

General Reed's Health Fails At a time when the powers of each individual were taxed to the uttermost, the strain on the Commander of the force was terribly severe. Mind and body were incessantly at work. Twice in the short space of six weeks had the officer holding this responsible position succumbed, and now a third was on the point of breaking down. Major-General Reed's health, never very strong, completely failed, and on the 17th July, only twelve days after succeeding Sir Henry Barnard, he had to give up the command and leave the camp on sick certificate.



Archdale Wilson Assumes Command
General Reed was succeeded by Brigadier Archdale Wilson, the officer who commanded the Meerut column at the beginning of the campaign, and who was so successful in the fights on the Hindun. Though a soldier of moderate capacity, Wilson was quite the best of the senior officers present, three of whom were superseded by his selection. Two of these, Congreve, Acting-Adjutant-General of Queen's troops, and Graves, who had been Brigadier at Delhi when the Mutiny broke out, left the camp on being passed over; the third, Longfield, took Wilson's place as Brigadier.

Wilson's succession to the command gave great relief to the troops on account of the systematic manner in which he arranged for the various duties, and the order and method he introduced. The comparative rest to the troops, as well as the sanitary improvements he effected, did a good deal for the health of the force. Wilson also took advantage of the reinforcements we had received to strengthen our position. As far as possible he put a stop to the practice of following up the enemy close to the city walls when they were driven off after an attack (a practice which had cost us many valuable lives), contenting himself with preventing the rebels from remaining in the immediate vicinity of our advanced posts.

Enemy Baffled in the Sabzi Mandi The day after Reed's departure another sharp and prolonged attack[Page 109] was made upon the Ridge batteries and Sabzi Mandi piquets, and in the afternoon a column was sent to drive the enemy away. It consisted of four Horse Artillery guns, 750 Infantry, and the Guides Cavalry. Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, of the 60th Rifles, commanded the column, and, having gained experience from the lesson we had received on the 14th, he took care not to approach too near to the city walls, but cleared the Sabzi Mandi, and took up a good position, where he remained for some little time. This unusual procedure seemed to disconcert the enemy, most of whom returned to the city, while those who remained to fight did not come to such close quarters as on previous occasions. Nevertheless, we had 1 officer and 12 men killed, 3 officers and 66 men wounded, and 2 men were missing.

The four following days passed without any serious attack being made, but an unfortunate accident occurred about this time to a cousin of mine, Captain Greensill, of the 24th Foot. He was attached to the Engineer department, and was ordered to undertake some reconnoitring duty after dark. On nearing the enemy's position he halted his escort, in order not to attract attention, and proceeded alone to examine the ground. The signal which he had arranged to give on his return was apparently misunderstood, for as he approached the escort fired; he was mortally wounded, and died in great agony the next morning.

The last severe contest took place in the Sabzi Mandi on the 18th, for by this time the Engineers' incessant labour had resulted in the clearing away of the old serais and walled gardens for some distance round the posts held by our piquets in that suburb. The 'Sammy House' piquet, to the right front of Hindu Rao's house, was greatly strengthened, and cover was provided for the men occupying it—a very necessary measure, exposed as the piquet was to the guns on the Burn and Mori bastions, and within grape range of the latter, while the enemy's Infantry were enabled to creep close up to it unperceived.

The improvements we had made in this part of our position were, no doubt, carefully watched and noted by the rebels, who, finding that all attempts to dislodge us on the right ended in their own discomfiture, determined to try whether our left was not more vulnerable than they had found it in the earlier days of the siege. Accordingly early on the 23rd they sallied forth from the Kashmir gate, and, occupying Ludlow Castle and its neighbourhood, shelled Metcalfe House, the stable piquet, and the mosque piquet on the Ridge. As all attempts to silence the enemy's guns with our Artillery proved unavailing, and it was feared that if not dislodged they would establish a battery at Ludlow Castle, a small column under Brigadier Showers moved out by a cutting through the Ridge on our left, its object being (in conjunction with the Metcalfe House piquets) to turn the enemy's right and capture their guns.

The troops detailed for this duty consisted of six Horse Artillery[Page 110] guns, 400 British Infantry, 360 of the 1st Punjab Infantry, and a party of the Guides Cavalry, in addition to 250 men detached from the Metcalfe House piquets. The advance of the column up the road leading towards the Kashmir gate appeared to be unnoticed until it arrived close to the enemy, who then opened with grape. Our troops pressed on, and in their eagerness to capture the guns, which were being withdrawn, got too near the city walls. Here Showers was wounded, and the command devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel Jones, of the 60th, who skilfully conducted the retirement. Our loss was 1 officer and 11 men killed, 5 officers and 34 men wounded. Captain Law, one of my two companions on the mail-cart from Umballa, was the officer killed.

The enemy were fairly quiet between the 23rd and 31st July, on which date they moved out of the city in considerable strength, with the intention of making a temporary bridge across the cut in the swampy ground I have before described, and so threatening our rear. A column under Coke was sent to the other side of the cut to intercept the enemy should they succeed in getting across; this column was joined at Alipur by the Kumaon battalion (composed of Gurkhas and hill-men), about 400 strong, which had just arrived from the Punjab as escort to a large store of ammunition. The services of these troops were, however, not required, for the rain, which had been coming down in torrents for some hours, had caused such a rush of water that the bridge was carried away before it was completed. The enemy then retired towards the city. On reaching the suburbs they were reinforced by a large body of Infantry, and a most determined attack was made on the right of our position. This occurred about sunset, and all night the roar of musketry and artillery was kept up without a moment's cessation.

Efforts to Exterminate the Feringhis The next day was the anniversary of a great Mahomedan festival, when it was the custom for the King to pray and make sacrifice at the Idgah, in commemoration of Abraham's intended offering up of Ishmail.1 On this particular occasion, however, the sacrifices were to be dispensed with in deference to Hindu prejudices,2 and in their stead a tremendous united effort was to be made by Hindus and Mussulmans to exterminate the Feringhis. All the morning of the 1st August mosques and Hindu temples were crowded with worshippers offering up prayers for the success of the great attempt, and in the afternoon the rebels, mad with excitement and fanaticism, issued in countless numbers from the city gates, and, shouting the Moslem battle-cry, advanced and threw themselves on our defences. They were driven back by our deadly volleys, but only for a moment; they quickly reformed and made a fresh attack, to be stopped again by our steady,[Page 111] uncompromising fire. Time after time they rallied and hurled themselves against our breastworks. All that night and well on into the next day the fight continued, and it was past noon before the devoted fanatics became convinced that their gods had deserted them, that victory was not for them, and that no effort, however heroic on their part, could drive us from the Ridge. The enemy's loss was heavy, ours trifling, for our men were admirably steady, well protected by breastworks, and never allowed to show themselves except when the assailants came close up. We had only 1 officer and 9 men killed and 36 men wounded.

The officer was Lieutenant Eaton Travers, of the 1st Punjab Infantry. He had been seven years with the regiment, and had been present with it in nearly all the many frontier fights in which it had been engaged. He was a bright, happy fellow, and a great friend of mine. As Major Coke, his commanding officer, published in regimental orders: 'This gallant soldier and true-hearted gentleman was beloved and respected by the officers and men of the regiment. His loss is an irreparable one.'

The enemy were much depressed by the failure of the Bakhra Id attack, from which they had expected great things. They began to despair of being able to drive us from our position on the Ridge, which for seven weeks had been so hotly contested. They heard that Nicholson with his Movable Column was hastening to our assistance, and they felt that, unless they could gain some signal victory before reinforcements reached us, we should take our place as the besiegers, instead of being, as hitherto, the besieged. Disaffection within the city walls was on the increase; only the semblance of authority remained to the old and well-nigh impotent King, while some of his sons, recognizing their perilous position, endeavoured to open negotiations with us. Many of the sepoys were reported to be going off to their homes, sick and weary of a struggle the hopelessness of which they had begun to realize.

Our work, however, was far from being finished. Notwithstanding losses from death and desertion, the enemy still outnumbered us by about eight or nine to one.

All this time our communication with the Punjab was maintained, and we regularly received letters and newspapers from England by the northern route; but for several weeks we had had no news from the south. Rumours of disasters occasionally reached us, but it was not until the second week in July that we heard of the fight at Agra, the retirement of our troops, and the flight of all the residents into the fort.

These scraps of intelligence, for they were mere scraps, written often in Greek character, some screwed into a quill, some sewn between the double soles of a man's shoe, and some twisted up in the messenger's[Page 112] hair, were eagerly looked for, and as eagerly deciphered when they came. It was cheering to learn that Allahabad was safe, that Lucknow was still holding out, that troops from Madras, Ceylon, and the Mauritius had reached Calcutta, and that Lord Elgin, taking a statesmanlike view of the situation, had diverted to India3 the force intended for the China expedition, and we fondly hoped that some of the six British regiments reported by one messenger to have arrived at Cawnpore would be sent to the assistance of the Delhi Force.

A Letter from General Havelock Strangely enough, we knew nothing of the death of Sir Henry Lawrence or General Wheeler, and had not even heard for certain that Cawnpore had fallen and that Lucknow was besieged, while there were constant reports that Wheeler was marching up the Trunk Road. Being most anxious to get some authentic intelligence, Norman4 on the 15th July wrote a letter in French addressed to General Wheeler at Cawnpore, or whoever might be in command between that place and Delhi, giving an account of our position at Delhi, and expressing a hope that troops would soon march to our assistance. The letter was entrusted to two sepoys of the Guides, who carried out their difficult task most faithfully, and on the 3rd August returned with the following reply from General Havelock, addressed to Major-General Reed:

'Cawnpore, left bank of the Ganges,         
'25th July, 1857.  


    'Yesterday I saw Captain Norman's letter of the 15th instant from Delhi, addressed to Sir Hugh Wheeler. That gallant officer and the whole of his force were destroyed on the 27th June by a base act of treachery. Sir Henry Somerset is Commander-in-Chief in India and Sir Patrick Grant in Bengal. Under the orders of the supreme Government I have been sent to retrieve affairs here. I have specific instructions from which I cannot depart. I have sent a duplicate of your letter to Sir P. Grant. In truth, though most anxious to march on Delhi, I have peremptory orders to relieve Lucknow. I have, thank God, been very successful. I defeated the enemy at Futtehpore[Page 113] on the 12th, and Pandu Naddi on the 15th, and this place, which I recaptured on the 16th. On each occasion I took all the guns. Immense reinforcements are coming from England and China. Sir Patrick Grant will soon be in the field himself. Lucknow holds out. Agra is free for the present. I am sorry to hear you are not quite well. I beg that you will let me hear from you continually.'

Two days afterwards another letter was received; this time from Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser-Tytler, A.Q.M.G., with Havelock's force. It was addressed to Captain Earle, A.Q.M.G., Meerut, and ran as follows:

'Cawnpore, July 27th.      

'General Havelock has crossed the river to relieve Lucknow, which will be effected four days hence. He has a strong force with him, and he has already thrashed the Nana and completely dispersed his force. We shall probably march to Delhi with four or five thousand Europeans and a heavy Artillery, in number, not in weight. The China force is in Calcutta, 5,000 men. More troops expected immediately. We shall soon be with you.'

These sanguine expectations were never fulfilled! Instead of Lucknow being relieved in four days, it was nearly four months before that result was achieved, and instead of troops from Cawnpore coming to help us at Delhi, the troops from Delhi formed the chief part of the force which relieved Lucknow.

News of Henry Lawrence's Death While we were rejoicing at the prospect of being reinforced by a large number of British soldiers, a gloom was cast over the whole camp by the rumour that Sir Henry Lawrence was dead. As the first British Ruler of the Punjab, Henry Lawrence was known by reputation to, and respected by, every man belonging to the Delhi Force, and all realized what a serious loss his death would be to the beleaguered garrison of Lucknow. Much time, however, was not given us for lamentation, for at the end of the first week in August another attempt was made to drive us from the Metcalfe House piquets. Guns were again brought out through the Kashmir gate, and posted at Ludlow Castle and the Kudsiabagh; at the same time a number of Infantry skirmishers kept up an almost constant fire from the jungle in front of our position. The losses at the piquets themselves were not heavy, good cover having been provided; but the communications between the piquets and our main position were much exposed and extremely hazardous for the reliefs. It was felt that the enemy could not be allowed to remain in such close proximity to our outposts, and Showers (who had recovered from his slight wound) was again ordered to drive them off, for which purpose he was given a strong body of Infantry, composed of Europeans, Sikhs, and Gurkhas, a troop of Horse Artillery, a squadron of the 9th[Page 114] Lancers, and the Guides Cavalry. The result was a very brilliant little affair. The orders on this occasion were to 'move up silently and take the guns at Ludlow Castle.' The small column proceeded in the deepest silence, and the first sound heard at dawn on the 12th August was the challenge of the enemy's sentry, 'Ho come dar?' (Who comes there?). A bullet in his body was the reply. A volley of musketry followed, and effectually awoke the sleeping foe, who succeeded in letting off two of their guns as our men rushed on the battery. An Irish soldier, named Reegan, springing forward, prevented the discharge of the third gun. He bayoneted the gunner in the act of applying the port-fire, and was himself severely wounded. The rebel Artillerymen stood to their guns splendidly, and fought till they were all killed. The enemy's loss was severe; some 250 men were killed, and four guns were captured. On our side 1 officer and 19 men were killed, 7 officers and 85 men wounded, and 5 men missing. Amongst the wounded was the gallant Commander of the column, and that fine soldier, Major John Coke, the Commandant of the 1st Punjab Infantry. The return to camp was a stirring sight: the captured guns were brought home in triumph, pushed along by the soldiers, all madly cheering, and the horses ridden by men carrying their muskets with bayonets fixed.

Arrival of the Movable Column The following morning the Punjab Movable Column arrived. Nicholson had preceded it by a few days, and from him I heard all about his fight with the Sialkot mutineers at Trimmu Ghat and the various marches and counter-marches which he had made since I left him at Philour.

The column was a most welcome addition to our force. It now consisted of the 52nd Light Infantry, a wing of the 61st Foot, a Field Battery, a wing of the 1st Baluch Regiment, and the 2nd Punjab Infantry, beside 200 newly-raised Multani Cavalry and 400 military police. This brought up our effective force to about 8,000 rank and file of all arms.5 A more powerful siege-train than we had hitherto possessed was on its way from Ferozepore, and three companies of the 8th Foot, detachments of Artillery and the 60th Rifles, the 4th Punjab Infantry, and about 100 recruits for the 4th Sikhs were also marching towards Delhi. In addition, a small contingent from Kashmir and a few of the Jhind Raja's troops were shortly expected, after the arrival of which nothing in the shape of reinforcements could be looked for from the north.

Nor could we hope for any help from the south, for no definite news had been received from Havelock since his letter of the 25th of July, and rumours had reached us that, finding it impossible to force his way to Lucknow, he had been obliged to retire upon Cawnpore. It was felt, therefore, that if Delhi were to be taken at all, it must be taken[Page 115] quickly, before our augmented numbers should be again diminished by sickness and casualties.

The enemy knew our position as well as we did, and appreciating the great value the siege-train would be to us, they decided on making a supreme effort to intercept it. A few days before they had been foiled by Hodson in an attempt to cut off our communication with the Punjab, and were determined to ensure success on this occasion by employing a really formidable force. This force left Delhi on the 24th August, and proceeded in the direction of the Najafgarh jhil.

At daybreak the following morning Nicholson started with sixteen Horse Artillery guns, 1,600 Infantry and 450 Cavalry, his orders being to overtake the enemy and bring them to action. I hoped to have been of the party, but Nicholson's request to have me as his staff officer was refused, as I had not been taken off the sick-list, though I considered my wound was practically healed.

It proved a most difficult march. The rain fell in torrents, and the roads were mere quagmires. In the first nine miles two swamps had to be got through, on crossing which Nicholson heard that the insurgents were at Najafgarh, twelve miles further off. He determined to push on, and at 4 p.m. he found them occupying a strong position about a mile and three-quarters in length. In front was an old serai which was held in force with four guns, and on either side and in rear of the serai was a village equally strongly held; while running round the enemy's right and rear was a huge drainage cut, swollen by the heavy rain. This cut, or nulla, was crossed by a bridge immediately behind the rebels' position. Nicholson advanced from a side-road, which brought him on their right with the nulla flowing between him and them. Even at the ford the water was breast-high, and it was with much difficulty and not without a good deal of delay that our troops crossed under a heavy fire from the serai. It was getting late, and Nicholson had only time to make a hasty reconnaissance. He decided to attack the serai, drive out the mutineers, and then, changing front to the left, to sweep down their line and get possession of the bridge.

[plate 9]



The 61st Foot at Najafgarh As the Infantry were about to advance, Nicholson thus addressed them: 'Men of the 61st, remember what Sir Colin Campbell said at Chilianwala, and you have heard that he said the same to his gallant Highland Brigade at the Alma. I have the same request to make of you and the men of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers. Hold your fire until within twenty or thirty yards, then fire and charge, and the serai is yours.' Our brave soldiers followed these directions to the letter, and, under cover of Artillery fire, carried the serai. Front was then changed to the left as had been arranged, and the line swept along the enemy's defences, the rebels flying before them over the bridge. They confessed to a loss of more than 800 men, and they left in our hands[Page 116] thirteen field-pieces and a large quantity of ammunition, besides all their camp equipage, stores, camels, and horses. Our casualties were 2 officers and 23 men killed, and 3 officers and 68 men wounded—two of the officers mortally, the third dangerously.

The enemy in the city, imagining from the size of the force sent with Nicholson that we could not have many troops left in camp, attacked us in great strength on the following morning (26th), but were beaten off with a loss on our side of only 8 killed and 13 wounded.



By the 6th September all the reinforcements that could be expected, including the siege train (consisting of thirty-two pieces of ordnance with ample ammunition) had arrived in camp, and the time had now come when it was necessary for Wilson to determine whether Delhi was to be assaulted, or whether the attempt must be given up. Long exposure to sun and rain began to tell terribly on the troops; sickness increased to an alarming extent, and on the 31st August there were 2,368 men in hospital—a number which, six days later, had risen to 2,977.

Norman, on whose figures implicit reliance can be placed, states that on this date the total number of effective rank and file of all arms, Artillery, Engineers, Cavalry, and Infantry, including gun-Lascars, Native drivers, newly-raised Sikh Pioneers, and recruits for the Punjab regiments, was 8,748.

The strength of the British troops was 3,217, composed of 580 Artillery, 443 Cavalry, and 2,294 Infantry. The Infantry corps were mere skeletons, the strongest being only 409 effective rank and file. The 52nd, which had arrived three weeks before with 600 healthy men, had already dwindled to 242 fit for duty.

The above numbers are exclusive of the Kashmir Contingent of 2,200 men and four guns, which had by this time reached Delhi; and several hundred men of the Jhind troops (previously most usefully employed in keeping open our communication with Kurnal) were, at the Raja's particular request, brought in to share in the glory of the capture of Delhi, the Raja himself accompanying them.

Wilson's Difficulties No one was more alive than the Commander of the Delhi Field Force to the fact that no further aid could be expected, and no one realized more keenly than he did that the strength of the little army at his disposal was diminishing day by day. But Wilson had never been sanguine as to the possibility of capturing Delhi without aid from the south. In a letter to Baird-Smith dated the 20th August, he discussed[Page 117] at length his reasons for not being in a position to 'hold out any hope of being able to take the place until supported by the force from below.' He now was aware that no troops could be expected from the south, and Sir John Lawrence plainly told him that he had sent him the last man he could spare from the Punjab. On the 29th August Lawrence wrote to Wilson: 'There seem to be very strong reasons for assaulting as soon as practicable. Every day's delay is fraught with danger. Every day disaffection and mutiny spread. Every day adds to the danger of the Native Princes taking part against us.' But Wilson did not find it easy to make up his mind to assault. He was ill. Responsibility and anxiety had told upon him. He had grown nervous and hesitating, and the longer it was delayed the more difficult the task appeared to him.

Fortunately for the continuance of our rule in India, Wilson had about him men who understood, as he was unable to do, the impossibility of our remaining any longer as we were. They knew that Delhi must either be taken or the army before it withdrawn. The man to whom the Commander first looked for counsel under these conditions—Baird-Smith, of the Bengal Engineers—proved himself worthy of the high and responsible position in which he was placed. He too was ill. Naturally of a delicate constitution, the climate and exposure had told upon him severely, and the diseases from which he was suffering were aggravated by a wound he had received soon after his arrival in camp. He fully appreciated the tremendous risks which an assault involved, but, in his opinion, they were less than were those of delay. Whether convinced or not by his Chief Engineer's arguments, Wilson accepted his advice and directed him to prepare a plan of attack.

Baird-Smith was strongly supported by Nicholson, Chamberlain, Daly, Norman, and Alex. Taylor. They were one and all in communication with the authorities in the Punjab, and they knew that if 'Delhi were not taken, and that speedily, there would be a struggle not only for European dominion, but even for European existence within the Punjab itself.'1

Our position in that province was, indeed, most critical. An attempted conspiracy of Mahomedan tribes in the Murree Hills, and an insurrection in the Gogaira district, had occurred. Both these affairs were simply attempts to throw off the British yoke, made in the belief that our last hour was come. The feeling that prompted them was not confined to the Mahomedans; amongst all classes and races in the Punjab a spirit of restlessness was on the increase; even the most loyally disposed were speculating on the chances of our being able to hold our own, and doubting the advisability of adhering to our cause.[Page 118] On the part of the Sikhs of the Manjha2 there was an unwillingness to enlist, and no good recruits of this class could be obtained until after Delhi had fallen.

It was under these critical circumstances that a council of war was convened to decide definitely whether the assault should take place or not.

Nicholson's Resolve Nicholson was not a man of many intimacies, but as his staff officer I had been fortunate enough to gain his friendship. I was constantly with him, and on this occasion I was sitting in his tent before he set out to attend the council. He had been talking to me in confidential terms of personal matters, and ended by telling me of his intention to take a very unusual step should the council fail to arrive at any fixed determination regarding the assault. 'Delhi must be taken,' he said, 'and it is absolutely essential that this should be done at once; and if Wilson hesitates longer, I intend to propose at to-day's meeting that he should be superseded.' I was greatly startled, and ventured to remark that, as Chamberlain was hors de combat from his wound, Wilson's removal would leave him, Nicholson, senior officer with the force. He smiled as he answered: 'I have not overlooked that fact. I shall make it perfectly clear that, under the circumstances, I could not possibly accept the command myself, and I shall propose that it be given to Campbell, of the 52nd; I am prepared to serve under him for the time being, so no one can ever accuse me of being influenced by personal motives.'

Happily, Nicholson was not called upon to take so unusual a step. I walked with him to the Head-Quarters camp, waited in great excitement until the council of war was over, and, when Nicholson issued from the General's tent, learnt, to my intense relief, that Wilson had agreed to the assault.

That Nicholson would have carried out his intention if the council had come to a different conclusion I have not the slightest doubt, and I quite believe that his masterful spirit would have effected its purpose and borne down all opposition. Whether his action would have been right or wrong is another question, and one on which there is always sure to be great difference of opinion. At the time it seemed to me that he was right. The circumstances were so exceptional—Wilson would have proved himself so manifestly unfit to cope with them had he decided on further delay—and the consequences of such delay would have been so calamitous and far-reaching, that even now, after many years have passed, and after having often thought over Nicholson's intended action and discussed the subject with other men, I have not changed my opinion.

Arrangements for the Assault In anticipation of an attack on Delhi, preparations had been commenced[Page 119] early in September, one of the first of these being to form a trench to the left of the 'Sammy House,' at the end of which a battery was constructed for four 9-pounders and two 24-pounder howitzers. The object of this battery was to prevent sorties from the Lahore or Kabul gates passing round the city wall to annoy our breaching batteries, and also to assist in keeping down the fire from the Mori bastion.3 This battery, moreover, led the enemy to believe that we should attack them from our right, whereas it had been resolved to push the main attack from our left, where we could approach nearer to the walls under cover, and where our flank was completely protected by the river. The Engineers had also employed themselves in getting ready 10,000 fascines, as many gabions, and 100,000 sand-bags, besides field-magazines, scaling-ladders, and spare platforms.

On the 7th September Wilson issued an order informing the force that arrangements for the assault would be commenced at once. He dwelt upon the hardships and fatigue which had been cheerfully borne by officers and men, and expressed his hope that they would be rewarded for their past labours, 'and for a cheerful endurance of still greater fatigue and exposure.' He reminded the troops of the reasons for the deadly struggle in which they were engaged, and he called upon all ranks to co-operate heart and soul in the arduous work now before them.

Construction of Breaching Batteries Ground was broken that evening. Unfortunately Baird-Smith was not able to personally superintend the construction of the breaching batteries, but he had in his second-in-command, Alex. Taylor, a thoroughly practical Engineer, who not only knew how to work himself, but how to get work out of others. Ever alert and cheerful, he was trusted and looked up to by all his subordinates, and was of all others the very man to be placed in charge of such a difficult and dangerous duty.

The first battery, known as No. 1, was traced out in two parts, about 700 yards from the Mori bastion, which the right half, with its five 18-pounders and one 8-inch howitzer, was intended to silence; while the left half, with its four 24-pounders, was to hold the Kashmir bastion in check.

All night the Engineers worked at the battery, but although before day broke it was nearly finished and armed, it was not ready to open fire until close on sunrise. The enemy did not fail to take advantage of this chance. They poured in round after round of shot and grape, causing many casualties. Their fire slackened as our guns were gradually able to make themselves felt, and by the afternoon it was silenced. Nothing remained of the Mori bastion but a heap of ruins. No. 1 battery was commanded by Major James Brind,4 the bravest of the[Page 120] brave. It was said of him that he 'never slept'; and Reid (of 'Hindu Rao' fame) wrote of him: 'On all occasions the exertions of this noble officer were indefatigable. He was always to be found where his presence was most required; and the example he set to officers and men was beyond all praise.'

No. 2 battery was next taken in hand. This was erected in front of Ludlow Castle, and about 500 yards from the Kashmir gate. Like No. 1, it was formed in two parts, the right half being intended for seven heavy howitzers and two 18-pounders, and the left for nine 24-pounders, commanded respectively by Majors Kaye and Campbell. All these guns were intended to breach the Kashmir bastion, where the main assault was to be made.

Up till this time the enemy had imagined that the attack would be delivered from our right, and they were quite taken by surprise when, on the evening of the 8th September, we occupied Ludlow Castle.

Baird-Smith showed his grasp of the situation in attacking from our left, notwithstanding the greater distance of this part of our position from the city wall. No counter-attack could be made on that flank, and the comparatively open ground between the Kashmir and Mori bastions would assist us in protecting the assaulting columns.

As soon as the enemy discovered their mistake, they did their utmost to prevent our batteries being constructed; but the Engineers were not to be deterred. By the morning of the 11th No. 2 battery was completed, armed, and unmasked, and No. 3 and No. 4 batteries were marked out in the Kudsiabagh. No. 3, commanded by Major Scott, was constructed for six 18-pounders, and twelve 5½ inch mortars under Captain Blunt. Norman in his narrative says: 'The establishment of Major Scott's battery within 180 yards of the wall, to arm which heavy guns had to be dragged from the rear under a constant fire of musketry, was an operation that could rarely have been equalled in war.' During the first night of its construction 89 men were killed and wounded; but with rare courage the workmen continued their task. They were merely unarmed pioneers; and with that passive bravery so characteristic of Natives, as man after man was knocked over, they would stop a moment, weep a little over a fallen friend, place his body in a row along with the rest, and then work on as before.5

No. 4 battery, armed with ten heavy mortars, and commanded by Major Tombs, was placed under the shelter of an old building, about half-way between No. 2 and No. 3 batteries.6

I was posted to the left half of No. 2 battery, and had charge of the[Page 121] two right guns. At eight o'clock on the morning of the 11th September we opened fire on the Kashmir bastion and the adjoining curtain, and as the shots told and the stones flew into the air and rattled down, a loud cheer burst from the Artillerymen and some of the men of the Carabineers and 9th Lancers who had volunteered to work in the batteries. The enemy had got our range with wonderful accuracy, and immediately on the screen in front of the right gun being removed, a round shot came through the embrasure, knocking two or three of us over. On regaining my feet, I found that the young Horse Artilleryman who was serving the vent while I was laying the gun had had his right arm taken off.

In the evening of the same day, when, wearied with hard work and exhausted by the great heat, we were taking a short rest, trusting to the shelter of the battery for protection, a shower of grape came into us, severely wounding our commander, Campbell, whose place was taken by Edwin Johnson. We never left the battery until the day of the assault—the 14th—except to go by turns into Ludlow Castle for our meals. Night and day the overwhelming fire was continued, and the incessant boom and roar of guns and mortars, with the ceaseless rain of shot and shell on the city, warned the mutineers that their punishment was at hand. We were not, however, allowed to have it all our own way. Unable to fire a gun from any of the three bastions we were breaching, the enemy brought guns into the open and enfiladed our batteries. They sent rockets from their martello towers, and they maintained a perfect storm of musketry from their advanced trench and from the city walls. No part of the attack was left unsearched by their fire, and though three months' incessant practice had made our men skilful in using any cover they had, our losses were numerous, 327 officers and men being killed and wounded between the 7th and 14th September.

Nicholson Expresses his Satisfaction On the evening of the 13th September Nicholson came to see whether we gunners had done our work thoroughly enough to warrant the assault being made the next morning. He was evidently satisfied, for when he entered our battery he said: 'I must shake hands with you fellows; you have done your best to make my work easy to-morrow.'

Nicholson was accompanied by Taylor, who had to make certain that the breaches were practicable, and for this purpose he detailed four subaltern officers of Engineers to go to the walls as soon as it was dark, and report upon the condition they were in. Greathed and Home were told off for the Water bastion breach, and Medley and Lang7 for that of the Kashmir bastion. Lang asked to be allowed to go while it was yet daylight; Taylor agreed, and with an escort of four men of the 60th Rifles he crept to the edge of the cover in the Kudsiabagh, and then, running up the glacis, sat on top of the counterscarp for[Page 122] a few seconds studying the ditch and the two breaches. On his return Lang reported the breaches to be practicable; as, however, it was desirable to ascertain whether ladders would be necessary, he was sent again after dark, in company with Medley. They took a ladder and a measuring-rod with them, and were escorted by an officer and twenty-four riflemen, of whom all but six were left under cover in the Kudsiabagh. Lang slipped into the ditch, which he found to be sixteen feet deep. Medley handed him the ladder and rod, and followed him with two riflemen, the other four remaining on the crest of the glacis to cover their retreat. With the help of the ladder they ascended the berm and measured the height of the wall. Two minutes more, and they would have reached the top of the breach, but, quiet as they had been, their movements had attracted attention, and several of the enemy were heard running towards the breach. The whole party reascended as rapidly as possible, and, throwing themselves on the grass, waited in breathless silence, hoping the sepoys would go away, and that they might be able to make another attempt to reach the top of the breach. The rebels, however, gave no signs of retiring, and as all needful information had been obtained, they determined to run for it. A volley was fired at the party as they dashed across the open, but no one was hit.

Greathed and Home had been equally successful, and by midnight Baird-Smith was able to report to General Wilson that both breaches were practicable.

Baird-Smith urged the importance of attacking without delay. He pointed out the impossibility of continuing the high pressure at which nearly every man8 in the force had been working during the past few days; that the tension was becoming too severe to last; and that every hour[Page 123] that passed without assaulting was a loss to us and a gain to the enemy.

Orders for the Assault Issued Before Wilson and Baird-Smith separated, orders had been issued for the attack to be made at daybreak the next morning, the 14th.

Composition of the Attacking Columns It was arranged that there were to be four assaulting columns and one reserve column.

The first, second and third columns, which were to operate on our left, were under the command of Brigadier-General Nicholson, who personally led No. 1 column. It consisted of:

Her Majesty's 75th Foot
1st Bengal Fusiliers
2nd Punjab Infantry
Total 1,000

and was meant to storm the breach near the Kashmir bastion.

[Note: I am indebted to the kindness of Mrs. Barter, the widow of my gallant friend and comrade. General Richard Barter, C.B., who served throughout the Mutiny with the 75th Foot, first as Adjutant and afterwards as Captain, for the above 'Daily State' and for the following extract from that officer's diary:

'In the evening the order was published for the storming of Delhi a little before daybreak the next morning, September 14, and we each of us looked carefully to the reloading of our pistols, filling of flasks, and getting as good protection as possible for our heads, which would be exposed so much going up the ladders. I wound two puggris or turbans round my old forage cap, with the last letter from the hills [Mrs. Barter was then at Kasauli, in the Himalayas] in the top, and committed myself to the care of Providence. There was not much sleep that night in our camp. I dropped off now and then, but never for long, and whenever I woke I could see that there was a light in more than one of the officers' tents, and talking was going on in a low tone amongst the men, the snapping of a lock or springing of a ramrod sounding far in the still air, telling of preparation for the coming strife. A little after midnight we fell in as quietly as possible, and by the light of a lantern the orders for the assault were then read to the men. They were to the following purport: Any officer or man who might be wounded was to be left where he fell; no one was to step from the ranks to help him, as there were no men to spare. If the assault were successful he would be taken away in the doolies, or litters, and carried to the rear, or wherever he could best receive medical assistance. If we failed, wounded and sound should be prepared to bear the worst. There was to be no plundering, but all prize taken was to be put into a common stock for fair division after all was over. No prisoners were to be made, as we had no one to guard them, and care was to be taken that no women or children were injured. To this the men answered at once, by "No fear, sir." The officers now pledged their honours on their swords to abide by these orders, and the men then promised to follow their example. At this moment, just as the regiment was about to march off, Father Bertrand came up in his vestments, and, addressing the Colonel, begged for permission to bless the regiment, saying: "We may differ some of us in matters of religion, but the blessing of an old man and a clergyman can do nothing but good." The Colonel at once assented, and Father Bertrand, lifting his hands to Heaven, blessed the regiment in a most impressive manner, offering up at the same time a prayer for our success and for mercy on the souls of those soon to die.']

No. 2 column, under Brigadier Jones, of Her Majesty's 61st Foot,[Page 124] consisted of:

Her Majesty's 8th Foot
2nd Bengal Fusiliers
4th Sikhs
Total  850

and was intended for the storming of the breach near the Water bastion.

No. 3 column, under Colonel Campbell, of Her Majesty's 52nd Light Infantry, consisted of:

Her Majesty's 52nd Light Infantry
Kumaon Battalion
1st Punjab Infantry
Total  950

and was told off to enter the Kashmir gate after it had been blown in.

No. 4 column was to operate on our right. It was commanded by Major Reid, of the Sirmur battalion, and was composed of that regiment, the Guides Infantry, and such men from the piquets (European and Native) as could be spared. Its strength was 860 men, besides 1,200 of the Kashmir Contingent, and its orders were to attack the suburbs of Kisenganj and Paharipur, and support the main attack by effecting an entrance at the Kabul gate..

The Reserve column, under Brigadier Longfield, Her Majesty's 8th Foot, was told to await the result of the attack, and afford assistance wherever required. It consisted of:.

Her Majesty's 61st Foot
4th Punjab Infantry
Wing Baluch battalion
Total 1,000

with 300 of the Jhind Contingent..

There were besides 200 of the 60th Rifles, who were to cover the advance of Nicholson's columns, and join the reserve as soon as the assaults had been carried out..

In order to provide these five columns, in all hardly 5,000 strong, the services of every man who could bear arms had to be put into requisition. Piquets were weakened to a dangerous extent, and many of the sick and wounded who ought to have been in hospital were utilized for the protection of the camp..


Camp Delhi, 13th September, 1857.

  Sergeants. Drummers. Rank and File.
Fit to turn out
On duty

True copy,
(Sd.) R. BARTER, Lieut.-Adj.,
75th Regiment.]
75th Regt.

[Page 125]



Delhi Stormed

It was intended, as I have before said, that the assault should be delivered at break of day, but many of the men belonging to the regiments of the storming force had been on piquet all night, and it took some time for them to rejoin their respective corps. A further delay was caused by our having to destroy the partial repairs to the breaches which the enemy had succeeded in effecting during the night, notwithstanding the steady fire we had kept up.

While we were thus engaged, the Infantry were ordered to lie down under cover. Standing on the crenellated wall which separated Ludlow Castle from the road, I saw Nicholson at the head of his column, and wondered what was passing through his mind. Was he thinking of the future, or of the wonderful part he had played during the past four months? At Peshawar he had been Edwardes's right hand. At the head of the Movable Column he had been mainly instrumental in keeping the Punjab quiet, and at Delhi everyone felt that during the short time he had been with us he was our guiding star, and that but for his presence in the camp the assault which he was about to lead would probably never have come off. He was truly 'a tower of strength.' Any feeling of reluctance to serve under a Captain of the Company's army, which had at first been felt by some, had been completely overcome by his wonderful personality. Each man in the force, from the General in command to the last-joined private soldier, recognized that the man whom the wild people on the frontier had deified—the man of whom a little time before Edwardes had said to Lord Canning, 'You may rely upon this, that if ever there is a desperate deed to be done in India, John Nicholson is the man to do it'—was one who had proved himself beyond all doubt capable of grappling with the crisis through which we were passing—one to follow to the death. Faith in the Commander who had claimed and been given the post of honour was unbounded, and every man was prepared 'to do or die' for him.

The sun had risen high in the heavens, when the breaching guns suddenly ceased, and each soldier felt he had but a brief moment in which to brace himself for the coming conflict. Nicholson gave the signal. The 60th Rifles with a loud cheer dashed to the front in skirmishing order, while at the same moment the heads of the first and second columns appeared from the Kudsiabagh and moved steadily towards the breaches.

No sooner were the front ranks seen by the rebels than a storm of bullets met them from every side, and officers and men fell thick on the crest of the glacis. Then, for a few seconds, amidst a blaze of musketry, the soldiers stood at the edge of the ditch, for only one or[Page 126] two of the ladders had come up, the rest having been dropped by their killed or wounded carriers. Dark figures crowded on the breach, hurling stones upon our men and daring them to come on. More ladders were brought up, they were thrown into the ditch, and our men, leaping into it, raised them against the escarp on the other side. Nicholson, at the head of a part of his column, was the first to ascend the breach in the curtain. The remainder of his troops diverged a little to the right to escalade the breach in the Kashmir bastion. Here Lieutenants Barter and Fitzgerald, of the 75th Foot, were the first to mount, and here the latter fell mortally wounded. The breaches were quickly filled with dead and dying, but the rebels were hurled back, and the ramparts which had so long resisted us were our own.

The breach at the Water bastion was carried by No. 2 column. No sooner was its head seen emerging from the cover of the old Custom-house than it was met by a terrible discharge of musketry. Both the Engineer officers (Greathed and Hovenden) who were leading it fell severely wounded, and of the thirty-nine men who carried the ladders twenty-nine were killed or wounded in as many seconds. The ladders were immediately seized by their comrades, who, after one or two vain attempts, succeeded in placing them against the escarp. Then, amidst a shower of stones and bullets, the soldiers ascended, rushed the breach, and, slaying all before them, drove the rebels from the walls.

The Scene at the Kashmir Gate No. 3 column had in the meanwhile advanced towards the Kashmir gate and halted. Lieutenants Home and Salkeld, with eight Sappers and Miners and a bugler of the 52nd Foot, went forward to blow the gate open. The enemy were apparently so astounded at the audacity of this proceeding that for a minute or two they offered but slight resistance. They soon, however, discovered how small the party was and the object for which it had come, and forthwith opened a deadly fire upon the gallant little band from the top of the gateway, from the city wall, and through the open wicket.

The bridge over the ditch in front of the gateway had been destroyed, and it was with some difficulty that the single beam which remained could be crossed. Home with the men carrying the powder-bags got over first. As the bags were being attached to the gate, Sergeant Carmichael was killed and Havildar Madhoo wounded; the rest then slipped into the ditch to allow the firing party which had come up under Salkeld to carry out its share of the duty.

While endeavouring to fire the charge, Salkeld, being shot through the leg and arm, handed the slow-match to Corporal Burgess, who fell mortally wounded, but not until he had successfully performed his task.

As soon as the explosion had taken place, Bugler Hawthorne sounded the regimental call of the 52nd. Meeting with no response, he sounded twice again. The noise of firing and shouting was so great that neither the sound of the bugle nor that of the explosion reached the column,[Page 127] but Campbell, after allowing the firing party what he thought was sufficient time, gave the order to advance. Captain Crosse, of the 52nd, was the first to reach the gate, followed closely by Corporal Taylor of his own company, and Captain Synge of the same regiment, who was Campbell's Brigade-Major. In single file along the narrow plank they crossed the ditch in which lay the shattered remnant of the gallant little band; they crept through the wicket, which was the only part blown in, and found the interior of the gateway blocked by an 18-pounder gun, under which were lying the scorched bodies of two or three sepoys, who had evidently been killed by the explosion. The rest of the column followed as rapidly as the precarious crossing would admit, and when Campbell got inside he found himself face to face with both Nicholson's and Jones's columns, which, after mounting the three breaches, poured in a mingled crowd into the open space between the Kashmir gate and the church.

No. 4 column advanced from the Sabzi Mandi towards Kisenganj and Paharipur. Reid, the commander, was unfortunately wounded early in the day. Several other officers were either killed or wounded, and for a little time a certain amount of confusion existed owing to some misconception as to whether the command of the column should be exercised by the senior officer with the regular troops, or by the political officer with the Kashmir Contingent. The fighting was very severe. The enemy were in great numbers, and strongly posted on the banks of the canal—indeed, at one time there appeared to be a likelihood of their breaking into our weakly-guarded camp or turning the flank of our storming parties. The guns at Hindu Rao's house, however, prevented such a catastrophe by pouring shrapnel into the ranks of the rebels; and just at the critical moment Hope Grant brought up the Cavalry brigade, which had been covering the assaulting columns. The Horse Artillery dashed to the front and opened fire upon the enemy. From the gardens and houses of Kisenganj, only two or three hundred yards off, the mutineers poured a deadly fire of musketry on our men, and from the bastion near the Lahore gate showers of grape caused serious losses amongst them. Owing to the nature of the ground the Cavalry could not charge. Had they retired the guns would have been captured, and had the guns been withdrawn the position would have been lost. For two hours the troopers drawn up in battle array sat motionless, while their ranks were being cruelly raked. Not a man wavered. Hope Grant and four of his staff had their horses killed under them; two of them were wounded, and Hope Grant himself was hit by a spent shot. In Tombs's troop of Horse Artillery alone, 25 men out of 50 were wounded, and 17 horses either killed or wounded. The 9th Lancers had 38 casualties amongst the men, and lost 71 horses. 'Nothing daunted,' wrote Hope Grant, 'those gallant soldiers held their trying position with patient endurance; and on my[Page 128] praising them for their good behaviour, they declared their readiness to stand the fire as long as I chose. The behaviour of the Native Cavalry,' he added, 'was also admirable. Nothing could be steadier; nothing could be more soldierlike than their bearing.'

Bold Front by Artillery and Cavalry The bold front shown by the Horse Artillery and Cavalry enabled No. 4 column to retire in an orderly manner behind Hindu Rao's house, and also assisted the Kashmir Contingent in its retreat from the Idgah, where it was defeated with the loss of four guns. The repulse of this column added considerably to our difficulties by freeing many hundreds to take part in the fight which was being fiercely carried on within the city.

Meanwhile the three assaulting columns had made good their lodgment on the walls. The guns in the Kashmir and Water bastions had been turned so as to allow of their being used against the foe, and preparations were made for the next move.

Nicholson's orders were to push his way to the Ajmir gate, by the road running inside the city wall, and to clear the ramparts and bastions as he went. Jones was to make for the Kabul gate, and Campbell for the Jama Masjid.

These three columns reformed inside the Kashmir gate, from which point the first and second practically became one. Nicholson, being accidentally separated from his own column for a short time, pushed on with Campbell's past the church, in the direction of the Jama Masjid, while the amalgamated column under Jones's leadership took the rampart route past the Kabul gate (on the top of which Jones had planted a British flag), capturing as they advanced all the guns they found on the ramparts, and receiving no check until the Burn bastion was reached by some of the more adventurous spirits. Here the enemy, taking heart at seeing but a small number of opponents, made a stand. They brought up a gun, and, occupying all the buildings on the south side of the rampart with Infantry, they poured forth such a heavy fire that a retirement to the Kabul gate had to be effected.

It was at this point that Nicholson rejoined his own column. His haughty spirit could not brook the idea of a retirement; however slight the check might be, he knew that it would restore to the rebels the confidence of which our hitherto successful advance had deprived them, and, believing that there was nothing that brave men could not achieve, he determined to make a fresh attempt to seize the Burn bastion.

The lane which was again to be traversed was about 200 yards long, with the city wall and rampart on the right, and on the left flat-roofed houses with parapets, affording convenient shelter for the enemy's sharp-shooters.

Nicholson Wounded As the troops advanced up this lane the mutineers opened upon them a heavy and destructive fire. Again and again they were checked, and again and again they reformed and advanced. It was in this lane that[Page 129] Major Jacob, the gallant Commander of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers, fell, mortally wounded. His men wanted to carry him to the rear, but he would not allow them to remain behind for him, and refused their help, urging them to press forward against the foe. The officers, leading far ahead of their men, were shot down one after the other, and the men, seeing them fall, began to waver. Nicholson, on this, sprang forward, and called upon the soldiers to follow him. He was instantly shot through the chest.

A second retirement to the Kabul gate was now inevitable, and there all that was left of the first and second columns remained for the night.

Campbell's column, guided by Sir Theophilus Metcalfe, who from his intimate acquaintance with the city as Magistrate and Collector of Delhi was able to conduct it by the route least exposed to the enemy's fire, forced its way to the vicinity of the Jama Masjid, where it remained for half an hour, hoping that the other columns would come to its assistance. They, however, as has been shown, had more than enough to do elsewhere, and Campbell (who was wounded), seeing no chance of being reinforced, and having no Artillery or powder-bags with which to blow in the gates of the Jama Masjid, fell back leisurely and in order on the church, where he touched what was left of the Reserve column, which had gradually been broken up to meet the demands of the assaulting force, until the 4th Punjab Infantry alone remained to represent it.

While what I have just described was taking place, I myself was with General Wilson. Edwin Johnson and I, being no longer required with the breaching batteries, had been ordered to return to our staff duties, and we accordingly joined the General at Ludlow Castle, where he arrived shortly before the assaulting columns moved from the cover of the Kudsiabagh.

Wilson watched the assault from the top of the house, and when he was satisfied that it had proved successful, he rode through the Kashmir gate to the church, where he remained for the rest of the day.

He was ill and tired out, and as the day wore on and he received discouraging reports, he became more and more anxious and depressed. He heard of Reid's failure, and of Reid himself having been severely wounded; then came the disastrous news that Nicholson had fallen, and a report (happily false) that Hope Grant and Tombs were both killed. All this greatly agitated and distressed the General, until at last he began seriously to consider the advisability of leaving the city and falling back on the Ridge.

I was ordered to go and find out the truth of these reports, and to ascertain exactly what had happened to No. 4 column and the Cavalry on our right.

The Last I Saw of Nicholson Just after starting on my errand, while riding through the Kashmir[Page 130] gate, I observed by the side of the road a doolie, without bearers, and with evidently a wounded man inside. I dismounted to see if I could be of any use to the occupant, when I found, to my grief and consternation, that it was John Nicholson, with death written on his face. He told me that the bearers had put the doolie down and gone off to plunder; that he was in great pain, and wished to be taken to the hospital. He was lying on his back, no wound was visible, and but for the pallor of his face, always colourless, there was no sign of the agony he must have been enduring. On my expressing a hope that he was not seriously wounded, he said: 'I am dying; there is no chance for me.' The sight of that great man lying helpless and on the point of death was almost more than I could bear. Other men had daily died around me, friends and comrades had been killed beside me, but I never felt as I felt then—to lose Nicholson seemed to me at that moment to lose everything.

I searched about for the doolie-bearers, who, with other camp-followers, were busy ransacking the houses and shops in the neighbourhood, and carrying off everything of the slightest value they could lay their hands on. Having with difficulty collected four men, I put them in charge of a sergeant of the 61st Foot. Taking down his name, I told him who the wounded officer was, and ordered him to go direct to the field hospital.

That was the last I saw of Nicholson. I found time to ride several times to the hospital to inquire after him, but I was never allowed to see him again.

Continuing my ride, I soon came up with Hope Grant's brigade. It had shortly before been relieved from its perilous and unpleasant position as a target for the enemy by the timely arrival of the Guides Infantry and a detachment of the Baluch battalion. I was rejoiced to find Tombs alive and unhurt, and from him and other officers of my regiment I learnt the tremendous peppering they had undergone. Hodson was also there with his newly-raised regiment, some officers of the 9th Lancers, and Dighton Probyn, Watson, and Younghusband, of the Punjab Cavalry. Probyn was in great spirits, having fallen temporarily into the command of his squadron, owing to Charles Nicholson (John Nicholson's younger brother) having been selected to take Coke's place with the 1st Punjab Infantry. Probyn retained his command throughout the campaign, for Charles Nicholson was wounded that very morning while gallantly leading his regiment. His right arm was being amputated when his heroic brother was carried mortally wounded into the same hospital, and laid on the bed next to him.

It seemed so important to acquaint the General without delay that Hope Grant and Tombs were both alive, that the Cavalry had been relieved from their exposed position, and that there was no need for[Page 131] further anxiety about Reid's column, that I galloped back to the church as quickly as possible.

Wilson Wavers The news I was able to give for the moment somewhat cheered the General, but did not altogether dispel his gloomy forebodings; and the failure of Campbell's column (which just at that juncture returned to the church), the hopelessness of Nicholson's condition, and, above all, the heavy list of casualties he received later, appeared to crush all spirit and energy out of him. His dejection increased, and he became more than ever convinced that his wisest course was to withdraw from the city. He would, I think, have carried out this fatal measure, notwithstanding that every officer on his staff was utterly opposed to any retrograde movement, had it not been his good fortune to have beside him a man sufficiently bold and resolute to stimulate his flagging energies. Baird-Smith's indomitable courage and determined perseverance were never more conspicuous than at that critical moment, when, though suffering intense pain from his wound, and weakened by a wasting disease, he refused to be put upon the sick-list; and on Wilson appealing to him for advice as to whether he should or should not hold on to the position we had gained, the short but decisive answer, 'We must hold on,' was given in such a determined and uncompromising tone that it put an end to all discussion.

Holding on to the Walls of Delhi Neville Chamberlain gave similar advice. Although still suffering from his wound, and only able to move about with difficulty, he had taken up his position at Hindu Rao's house, from which he exercised, as far as his physical condition would allow, a general supervision and control over the events that took place on the right of the Ridge. He was accompanied by Daly and a very distinguished Native officer of the Guides, named Khan Sing Rosa, both of whom, like Chamberlain, were incapacitated by wounds from active duty. From the top of Hindu Rao's house Chamberlain observed the first successes of the columns, and their subsequent checks and retirements, and it was while he was there that he received two notes from General Wilson. In the first, written after the failure of the attacks on the Jama Masjid and the Lahore gate, the General asked for the return of the Baluch battalion, which, at Chamberlain's request, had been sent to reinforce Reid's column, and in it he expressed the hope that 'we shall be able to hold what we have got.' In the second note, written at four o'clock in the afternoon, the General asked whether Chamberlain 'could do anything from Hindu Rao's house to assist,' adding, 'our numbers are frightfully reduced, and we have lost so many senior officers that the men are not under proper control; indeed, I doubt if they could be got to do anything dashing. I want your advice. If the Hindu Rao's piquet cannot be moved, I do not think we shall be strong enough to take the city.' Chamberlain understood General Wilson's second note to imply that he contemplated withdrawing the troops[Page 132] from the city, and he framed his reply accordingly. In it he urged the necessity for holding on to the last; he pointed out the advantages already gained, and the demoralization thereby inflicted upon the enemy. The dying Nicholson advocated the same course with almost his latest breath. So angry and excited was he when he was told of the General's suggestion to retire, that he exclaimed, 'Thank God I have strength yet to shoot him, if necessary.' There was no resisting such a consensus of responsible and reliable opinion, and Wilson gave up all idea of retreating.

During the afternoon of the 14th, Norman, Johnson, and I, at the General's desire and for his information, visited every position occupied by our troops within the city walls. In some places there was great confusion—men without their officers, and officers without their men—all without instructions, and not knowing what was going on in their immediate neighbourhood, the inevitable result of the rapid advance. We did what we could to remedy matters, and were able to report to Wilson that our troops were holding the wall from the Water bastion to the Kabul gate in sufficient strength. But this was all the comfort we could give him. The fact is, too much had been attempted on that eventful morning. We should have been satisfied with gaining possession of the Kashmir and Water bastions, and getting a lodgment within the city walls. This was as much as three such weak columns should have tried, or been asked to accomplish. No one who was present on that occasion, and experienced the difficulty, indeed impossibility, of keeping soldiers in hand while engaged in fighting along narrow streets and tortuous lanes, would ever again attempt what was expected of the assaulting columns.

While engaged in this duty we (Norman, Johnson and I) were attacked by a party of the enemy who had been hiding in considerable numbers in a side-lane watching for a chance. A fight ensued; we had only a small guard with us, but, fortunately, the firing was heard by the men of a near piquet, some of whom came to our help. With their assistance we drove off the sepoys, but in the scrimmage my poor mare was shot. She was a very useful animal, and her death was a great loss to me at the time.

At sunset on the 14th of September only a very small portion of the walls of Delhi was in our possession. The densely-populated city remained to be conquered. The magazine, the palace, and the Fort of Selimgarh, all strongly fortified, were still in the hands of the enemy. The narrow strip of ground we had gained had been won at severe loss. Three out of the four officers who commanded the assaulting columns had been disabled, and 66 officers and 1,104 men had been killed and wounded.

'Cheer, Boys, Cheer!' The night of the 14th was spent by the General and staff in 'Skinner's house,'1 close to the church. Rest was badly needed, for[Page 133] almost everyone in the force, officers and men alike, had been hard at work, night and day, for a week. That night, luckily, we were allowed to be at peace, for whether it was that the rebels were as tired as we were, or that they were busy making preparations for further resistance, they did not disturb us; and when day broke we were all refreshed and ready to continue the struggle. At one time, indeed, early in the evening, the enemy appeared from their movements to be preparing to attack us, but just at that moment the band of the 4th Punjab Infantry struck up 'Cheer, Boys, Cheer!' upon which the men of the regiment did cheer, most lustily, and other regiments caught up and continued the inspiriting hurrahs, which apparently had the effect of disconcerting the mutineers and keeping them quiet.



On the morning of the 15th the situation was reviewed, and preparations made for the conquest of the city. Order was restored amongst the troops, who, as I have shown, had become somewhat demoralized by the street fighting. Regiments and brigades were got together; raids were made on all the store shops within reach, and every bottle of beer and spirits was broken.1 Some of the liquor would doubtless have been of great use in the hospitals, but there was no means of removing it, and the General wisely determined that it was best to put temptation out of the men's way. Guns and mortars were placed into position for shelling the city and palace, and a few houses near, where[Page 134] the enemy's sharpshooters had established themselves, were seized and occupied. We soon, however, gave up attacking such positions, for we found that street fighting could not be continued without the loss of more men than we had to spare, and that the wisest plan would be to keep the soldiers under cover as much as possible while we sapped from house to house. A battery commanding Selimgarh and part of the palace was constructed in the college gardens, and a breach was made in the wall of the magazine, which was captured the next morning with but slight loss.

On the 16th, and again on the 18th, Chamberlain took command of the troops inside the city while the General rested for a few hours. He was, as he expressed himself in a note to Chamberlain, 'completely done.'

The enemy now began to draw in their line. The suburbs were evacuated, and riding through the Sabzi Mandi, Kisenganj and Paharipur, we gazed with wonder at the size and strength of the works raised against us by the mutineers, in attacking which we had experienced such heavy loss during the early days of the siege, and from which No. 4 column had been obliged to retire on the day of the assault.

Capture of the Burn Bastion The smaller the position that had to be defended, the greater became the numbers concentrated in our immediate front, and every inch of our way through the city was stoutly disputed; but the advance, though slow, was steady, and considering the numbers of the insurgents, and the use they made at close quarters of their Field Artillery, our casualties were fewer than could have been expected.

Capture of the Lahore Gate I had been placed under the orders of Taylor, Baird-Smith's indefatigable Lieutenant, who directed the advance towards the Lahore gate. We worked through houses, courtyards, and lanes, until on the afternoon of the 19th we found ourselves in rear of the Burn bastion, the attempt to take which on the 14th had cost the life of the gallant Nicholson and so many other brave men. We had with us fifty European and fifty Native soldiers, the senior officer of the party being Captain Gordon, of the 75th Foot. A single door separated us from the lane which led to the Burn bastion. Lang, of the Engineers, burst this door open, and out dashed the party. Rushing across the lane and up the ramp, the guard was completely surprised, and the bastion was seized without our losing a man.

Early the next day we were still sapping our way towards the Lahore gate, when we suddenly found ourselves in a courtyard in which were huddled together some forty or fifty banias,2 who were evidently as much in terror of the sepoys as they were of us. The men of our party nearly made an end of these unfortunates before their officers could interfere, for to the troops (Native and European alike) every[Page 135] man inside the walls of Delhi was looked upon as a rebel, worthy of death. These people, however, were unarmed, and it did not require a very practised eye to see that they were inoffensive. We thought, however, that a good fright would do them no harm, and might possibly help us, so for a time we allowed them to believe that they were looked upon as traitors, but eventually told them their lives would be spared if they would take us in safety to some place from which we might observe how the Lahore gate was guarded. After considerable hesitation and consultation amongst themselves they agreed to two of their party guiding Lang and me, while the rest remained as hostages, with the understanding that, if we did not return within a given time, they would be shot.

Our trembling guides conducted us through houses, across courtyards, and along secluded alleys, without our meeting a living creature, until we found ourselves in an upper room of a house looking out on the Chandni Chauk,3 and within fifty yards of the Lahore gate.

From the window of this room we could see beneath us the sepoys lounging about, engaged in cleaning their muskets and other occupations, while some, in a lazy sort of fashion, were acting as sentries over the gateway and two guns, one of which pointed in the direction of the Sabzi Mandi, the other down the lane behind the ramparts leading to the Burn bastion and Kabul gate. I could see from the number on their caps that these sepoys belonged to the 5th Native Infantry.

Having satisfied ourselves of the feasibility of taking the Lahore gate in rear, we retraced our steps.

The two banias behaved well throughout, but were in such a terrible fright of anything happening to us that they would not allow us to leave the shelter of one house until they had carefully reconnoitred the way to the next, and made sure that it was clear of the enemy. This occasioned so much delay that our friends had almost given us up, and were on the point of requiring the hostages to pay the penalty for the supposed treachery of our guides, when we reappeared on the scene.

We then discussed our next move, and it was decided to repeat the manœuvre which had been so successful at the Burn bastion. The troops were brought by the route we had just traversed, and drawn up behind a gateway next to the house in which we had been concealed. The gate was burst open, and rushing into the street, we captured the guns, and killed or put to flight the sepoys whom we had watched from our upper chamber a short time before, without losing a man ourselves.

This was a great achievement, for we were now in possession of the main entrance to Delhi, and the street of the city leading direct from[Page 136] the Lahore gate to the palace and Jama Masjid. We proceeded up this street, at first cautiously, but on finding it absolutely empty, and the houses on either side abandoned, we pushed on until we reached the Delhi Bank. Here there was firing going on, and round shot flying about from a couple of guns placed just outside the palace. But this was evidently an expiring effort. The great Mahomedan mosque had just been occupied by a column under the command of Major James Brind; while Ensign McQueen,4 of the 4th Punjab Infantry, with one of his own men had pluckily reconnoitred up to the chief gateway of the palace, and reported that there were but few men left in the Moghul fort.

The honour of storming this last stronghold was appropriately reserved for the 60th Rifles, the regiment which had been the first to engage the enemy on the banks of the Hindun, nearly four months before, and which throughout the siege had so greatly distinguished itself.

The 60th Rifles Storm the Palace Home, of the Engineers, the hero of the Kashmir gate exploit, first advanced with some Sappers and blew in the outer gate. At this, the last struggle for the capture of Delhi, I wished to be present, so attached myself for the occasion to a party of the 60th Rifles, under the command of Ensign Alfred Heathcote. As soon as the smoke of the explosion cleared away, the 60th, supported by the 4th Punjab Infantry, sprang through the gateway; but we did not get far, for there was a second door beyond, chained and barred, which was with difficulty forced open, when the whole party rushed in. The recesses in the long passage which led to the palace buildings were crowded with wounded men, but there was very little opposition, for only a few fanatics still held out. One of these—a Mahomedan sepoy in the uniform of a Grenadier of the 37th Native Infantry—stood quietly about thirty yards up the passage with his musket on his hip. As we approached he slowly raised his weapon and fired, sending the bullet through McQueen's helmet. The brave fellow then advanced at the charge, and was, of course, shot down. So ended the 20th September, a day I am never likely to forget.

At sunrise on the 21st a royal salute proclaimed that we were again masters in Delhi, and that for the second time in the century the great city had been captured by a British force.

Later in the day General Wilson established his Head-Quarters in the Dewan-i-khas (the King's private hall of audience), and, as was in accordance with the fitness of things, the 60th Rifles and the Sirmur battalion of Gurkhas5 were the first troops of Her Majesty's army to garrison the palace of the Moghuls, in which the traitorous and[Page 137] treacherous massacre of English men, women and children had been perpetrated.

Hodson Captures the King of Delhi The importance of securing the principal members of the Royal Family was pressed upon the General by Chamberlain and Hodson, who both urged that the victory would be incomplete if the King and his male relatives were allowed to remain at large. Wilson would not consent to any force being sent after them, and it was with considerable reluctance that he agreed to Hodson going on this hazardous duty with some of his own men only. The last of the Moghul Emperors had taken refuge in Humayun's tomb, about seven miles from Delhi, where, on the afternoon of the 21st, he surrendered to Hodson on receiving a promise from that officer that his own life and the lives of his favourite wife and her son should be spared. Hodson brought them all into Delhi and placed them under a European guard in a house in the Chandni Chauk, thus adding one more to the many valuable services he had rendered throughout the siege.

I went with many others the next day to see the King; the old man looked most wretched, and as he evidently disliked intensely being stared at by Europeans, I quickly took my departure. On my way back I was rather startled to see the three lifeless bodies of the King's two sons and grandson lying exposed on the stone platform in front of the Kotwali. On enquiry I learnt that Hodson had gone a second time to Humayun's tomb that morning with the object of capturing these Princes, and on the way back to Delhi had shot them with his own hand—an act which, whether necessary or not, has undoubtedly cast a blot on his reputation. His own explanation of the circumstance was that he feared they would be rescued by the mob, who could easily have overpowered his small escort of 100 sowars, and it certainly would have been a misfortune had these men escaped. At the time a thirst for revenge on account of the atrocities committed within the walls of Delhi was so great that the shooting of the Princes seemed to the excited feelings of the army but an act of justice; and there were some men, whose opinions were entitled to the greatest respect, who considered the safety of the British force would have been endangered by the escape of the representatives of the house of Taimur, and that for this reason Hodson's act was justified.

My own feeling on the subject is one of sorrow that such a brilliant soldier should have laid himself open to so much adverse criticism. Moreover, I do not think that, under any circumstances, he should have done the deed himself, or ordered it to be done in that summary manner, unless there had been evident signs of an attempt at a[Page 138] rescue.

But it must be understood that there was no breach of faith on Hodson's part, for he steadily refused to give any promise to the Princes that their lives should be spared; he did, however, undoubtedly by this act give colour to the accusations of blood-thirstiness which his detractors were not slow to make.

Nicholson's Death The news that we had occupied the palace, and were in complete possession of the city of Delhi, consoled Nicholson on his deathbed. From the first there was little hope that this valuable life could be saved. He was taken into hospital in a fainting condition from internal hemorrhage, and he endured excruciating agony; but, wrote General Chamberlain, 'throughout those nine days of suffering he bore himself nobly; not a lament or sigh ever passed his lips.' His every thought was given to his country, and to the last he materially aided the military authorities by his clear-sighted, sound, and reliable advice. His intellect remained unclouded to the end. With his latest breath he sent messages of tender farewell to his mother, hoping she would be patient under his loss, and to his oldest and dearest friend, Herbert Edwardes. After his death some frontier Chiefs and Native officers of the Multani Horse were permitted to see him, and I was told that it was touching beyond expression to see these strong men shed tears as they looked on all that was left of the leader they so loved and honoured.

°       °       °       °       °       °       °

Thus ended the great siege of Delhi, and to no one could the tidings of its fall have brought more intense relief and satisfaction than to the Chief Commissioner of the Punjab. Although in the first instance Sir John Lawrence certainly under-estimated the strength of the Delhi defences and the difficulties with which General Anson had to contend, he fully realized them later, and even at the risk of imperilling the safety of his own province by denuding it of troops, he provided the means for the capture of the rebel stronghold, and consequently the army of Delhi felt they owed him a deep debt of gratitude.

Gallantry of the Troops Like Norman when writing his narrative of the siege, I feel I cannot conclude my brief account of it without paying my small tribute of praise and admiration to the troops who bore themselves so nobly from the beginning to the end. Their behaviour throughout was beyond all praise, their constancy was unwearied, their gallantry most conspicuous; in thirty-two different fights they were victorious over long odds, being often exposed to an enemy ten times their number, who, moreover, had the advantage of ground and superior Artillery; they fought and worked as if each one felt that on his individual exertions alone depended the issue of the day; they willingly, nay, cheerfully, endured such trials as few armies have ever been exposed to for so long a time. For three months, day after day, and for the greater[Page 139] part of the day, every man had to be constantly under arms, exposed to a scorching Indian sun, which was almost as destructive as, and much harder to bear than, the enemy's never-ceasing fire. They saw their comrades struck down by cholera, sunstroke, and dysentery, more dispiriting a thousand times than the daily casualties in action. They beheld their enemies reinforced while their own numbers rapidly decreased. Yet they never lost heart, and at last, when it became evident that no hope of further reinforcements could be entertained, and that if Delhi were to be taken at all it must be taken at once, they advanced to the assault with as high a courage and as complete a confidence in the result, as if they were attacking in the first flush and exultation of troops at the commencement of a campaign, instead of being the remnant of a force worn out, by twelve long weeks of privation and suffering, by hope deferred (which truly 'maketh the heart sick'), and by weary waiting for the help which never came. Batteries were thrown up within easy range of the walls, than which a more heroic piece of work was never performed; and finally, these gallant few, of whom England should in very truth be everlastingly proud, stormed in the face of day a strong fortress defended by 30,000 desperate men, provided with everything necessary to defy assault.

Praise from Lord Canning The list of killed and wounded bears witness to the gallantry of all arms of the service. The effective force at Delhi never amounted to 10,000 men. Of these 992 were killed and 2,845 wounded, besides hundreds who died of disease and exposure. Where all behaved nobly, it is difficult to particularize; but it will not, I hope, be considered invidious if I specially draw my readers' attention to the four corps most constantly engaged: the 60th Rifles, the Sirmur battalion of Gurkhas, the Guides, and the 1st Punjab Infantry. Placed in the very front of the position, they were incessantly under fire, and their losses in action testify to the nature of the service they performed. The 60th Rifles left Meerut with 440 of all ranks; a few days before the assault they received a reinforcement of nearly 200, making a total of 640; their casualties were 389. The Sirmur battalion began with 450 men, and were joined by a draft of 90, making a total of 540; their loss in killed and wounded amounted to 319. The strength of the Guides when they joined was 550 Cavalry and Infantry, and their casualties were 303. The 1st Punjab Infantry arrived in Delhi with 3 British officers and 664 Natives of all ranks. Two of the British officers were killed, and the third severely wounded, and of the Natives, 8 officers6 and 200 men were killed and wounded; while out of the British officers attached to the regiment during the siege 1 was[Page 140] killed and 4 wounded. Further, it is a great pleasure to me to dwell on the splendid service done by the Artillery and Engineers. The former, out of their small number, had 365 killed or disabled, and the latter two-thirds of their officers and 293 of their men. I cannot more appropriately conclude this chapter than by quoting the words of Lord Canning, who, as Governor-General of India, wrote as follows in giving publication to the Delhi despatches: 'In the name of outraged humanity, in memory of innocent blood ruthlessly shed, and in acknowledgment of the first signal vengeance inflicted on the foulest treason, the Governor-General in Council records his gratitude to Major-General Wilson and the brave army of Delhi. He does so in the sure conviction that a like tribute awaits them, not in England only, but wherever within the limits of civilization the news of their well-earned triumph shall reach.'

Click Map to enlarge (Use Back button to return to text).

A Plan to illustrate the Seige of Delhi, 1857.




The fall of Delhi was loudly proclaimed, and the glad tidings spread like wildfire throughout the length and breadth of India, bringing intense relief to Europeans everywhere, but more especially to those in the Punjab, who felt that far too great a strain was being put upon the loyalty of the people, and that failure at Delhi would probably mean a rising of the Sikhs and Punjabis. Salutes were fired in honour of the victory at all the principal stations, but the Native population of[Page 141] the Punjab could not at first be made to believe that the Moghul capital, with its hordes of defenders, could have been captured by the small English army they saw marching through their province a few months before. Even at that time it seemed all too small for the task before it, and since then they knew it had dwindled down to less than half its numbers. It was not, indeed, until they had ocular demonstration of our success, in the shape of the loot which some of the Native followers belonging to the besieging force took back to their homes, that they became convinced of the reality of our victory.

Necessity for Further Action Sir John Lawrence being painfully alive to the weakness of our position in the Punjab, as compared to the great strength of the Sikhs, on hearing the news of the capture of Delhi, begged General Wilson to send back at once a British regiment as a practical proof that our triumph was complete, and that he no longer needed so many troops. But though the city was in our possession, a great deal remained to be done before a single soldier could be spared. Above all things, it was necessary to open up communication with Cawnpore and Lucknow, in order to ascertain exactly the state of affairs in that part of the country. We had heard of the failure of Havelock's attempts to reach Lucknow, and of his having been obliged in the end to retire to Cawnpore and wait for reinforcements, but we had not been able to learn whether such reinforcements had reached him, or how long the beleaguered garrison of Lucknow was likely to hold out.

No time was wasted at Delhi. On the 21st September, the very day after the palace was occupied, it was decided to despatch a column to Cawnpore; but, on account of the weakened condition of the whole force, there was considerable difficulty in detailing the troops for its composition. The total strength of the corps1 eventually selected amounted to 750 British and 1,900 Native soldiers, with sixteen field-guns.

No officer of note or high rank being available, the command of the column should have been given to the senior regimental officer serving with it, viz., Colonel Hope Grant, of the 9th Lancers; but for some[Page 142] unexplained motive Lieutenant-Colonel Greathed, of the 8th Foot, was chosen by General Wilson. Captain Bannatyne, of the same regiment, was appointed his Brigade-Major, and I was sent with the column as Deputy Assistant-Quartermaster-General. On the fall of Delhi the whole of the Head-Quarters staff returned to Simla, except Henry Norman, whose soldierly instincts made him prefer accompanying the column, in order that he might be ready to join Sir Colin Campbell, the newly-appointed Commander-in-Chief, who had shortly before arrived in India.

Departure from Delhi Nicholson's funeral was taking place as we marched out of Delhi, at daybreak on the morning of the 24th September. It was a matter of regret to me that I was unable to pay a last tribute of respect to my loved and honoured friend and Commander by following his body to the grave, but I could not leave the column. That march through Delhi in the early morning light was a gruesome proceeding. Our way from the Lahore gate by the Chandni Chauk led through a veritable city of the dead; not a sound was to be heard but the falling of our own footsteps; not a living creature was to be seen. Dead bodies were strewn about in all directions, in every attitude that the death-struggle had caused them to assume, and in every stage of decomposition. We marched in silence, or involuntarily spoke in whispers, as though fearing to disturb those ghastly remains of humanity. The sights we encountered were horrible and sickening to the last degree. Here a dog gnawed at an uncovered limb; there a vulture, disturbed by our approach from its loathsome meal, but too completely gorged to fly, fluttered away to a safer distance. In many instances the positions of the bodies were appallingly life-like. Some lay with their arms uplifted as if beckoning, and, indeed, the whole scene was weird and terrible beyond description. Our horses seemed to feel the horror of it as much as we did, for they shook and snorted in evident terror. The atmosphere was unimaginably disgusting, laden as it was with the most noxious and sickening odours.

It is impossible to describe the joy of breathing the pure air of the open country after such a horrible experience; but we had not escaped untainted. That night we had several cases of cholera, one of the victims being Captain Wilde, the Commandant of the 4th Punjab Infantry. He was sent back to Delhi in a hopeless condition, it was thought, but he recovered, and did excellent work at the head of his fine regiment during the latter part of the campaign.

After a march of eleven miles we reached Ghazi-uddin nagar, to find the place deserted. We halted the next day. The baggage animals were out of condition after their long rest at Delhi; and it was necessary to overhaul their loads and get rid of the superfluous kit and plunder which the followers had brought away with them. We were accompanied on our march by a few enterprising civilians, who had[Page 143] found their way into Delhi the day after we took possession of the palace. Amongst them was Alfred Lyall,2 a schoolfellow of mine at Eton. He was on his way to take up the appointment of Assistant-Magistrate at Bulandshahr, where he was located when the Mutiny broke out. As we rode along he gave me a most interesting little history of his personal experiences during the early days of May, from the time when the first symptoms of the coming storm were felt, until that when the surrounding country rose en masse, and he and those with him had to seek shelter at Meerut. I should like to repeat his story for the benefit of my readers, but I refrain, as it would lose so much by my telling; and I hope that some day Sir Alfred Lyall may be induced to tell his own story in the picturesque and attractive language which is so well known and so much appreciated by the reading public.

Early on the morning of the 28th, Norman, Lyall, and I, marching with Watson's Cavalry, two or three miles in advance of the column, arrived at cross-roads, one leading to Bulandshahr, the other to Malagarh, a fort belonging to a Mahomedan of the name of Walidad Khan, who, when the British rule was in abeyance, assumed authority over the district in the name of the Emperor of Delhi. We halted, and, having put out our piquets, lay down and waited for the dawn. From information obtained by the civil officers with the column, we suspected that large numbers of mutineers were collected in the neighbourhood.

Action at Bulandshahr We were not left long in doubt as to the correctness of our surmisings, for we were soon rudely awakened by the rattle of shots exchanged between our vedettes and those of the enemy. Information was sent back at once to the advance guard and to our Commander, while we set to work to ascertain the enemy's exact position; this proved to be at Bulandshahr, and we were within a couple of miles of the main body.

As we advanced the rebel Cavalry fell back, and when we got under fire of their guns, our Horse Artillery came into action; our Infantry coming up, found the enemy occupying an extremely strong position, in the gaol and a walled serai at the entrance to the town, their left being covered by the enclosed gardens and ruined houses of the deserted civil station, within which they were collected in considerable force. From these points they were driven by the 75th Foot, who, in a most dashing manner, captured two 9-pounder guns, while a third was taken by the Cavalry. The rebels then began to retreat, and were followed up by a small body of Cavalry, under Drysdale,3 of the 9th Lancers, with whom were Sarel, of the same regiment, Augustus Anson of the[Page 144] 84th Foot, and myself. We soon became entangled in narrow streets, but at last found ourselves in a gateway leading out of the town, which was crowded with bullock-carts, flying townspeople, and a number of the enemy, some on horseback, some on foot. There we had hard fighting; Sarel was wounded in the act of running a sepoy through the body, the forefinger of his right hand being taken off by a bullet, which then passed through his left arm; Anson was surrounded by mutineers, and performed prodigies of valour, for which he was rewarded with the Victoria Cross. I was riding a Waziri horse, which had belonged to John Nicholson, and as it had been a great favourite of his, I had commissioned a friend to buy him for me at the sale of Nicholson's effects. He was naturally impetuous, and, being now greatly excited by the firing and confusion, plunged about a good deal. He certainly was not a comfortable mount on that day, but all the same he saved my life. In the midst of the mêlée I observed a sepoy taking deliberate aim at me, and tried to get at him, but the crowd between him and me prevented my reaching him. He fired; my frightened animal reared, and received in his head the bullet which was intended for me.4

The work fell chiefly on the Cavalry and Horse Artillery. Major Ouvry, who commanded them, must have been a proud man that day, for they behaved splendidly. Two of Blunt's guns also, under an old Addiscombe friend of mine named Cracklow, did excellent service. The 9th Lancers, under Drysdale, performed wonders; and the three squadrons of Punjab Cavalry, under their gallant young leaders, Probyn, Watson, and Younghusband, and the squadron of Hodson's Horse, under Hugh Gough, showed of what good stuff they were made. Our casualties were 6 men killed, 6 officers and 35 men wounded. The enemy's loss was 300. A large quantity of ammunition and baggage fell into our hands, including many articles plundered from European men and women.

After the fight was over, the column passed through the town, and our camp was pitched about a mile beyond, on the banks of the Kali Naddi. The same afternoon Malagarh was reconnoitred, but was found to be deserted, a satisfactory result of the morning's action, for the fort, if defended, would have given us some trouble to take. Walidad Khan evidently hoped to become a power in the district, for he had begun to make gun-carriages, and we found roughly-cast guns on the lathes ready for boring out. It was decided that Malagarh Fort, which was full of articles of every description taken from the English residents, should be destroyed. Its demolition, however, took some time to effect, and as we could not move till transport came[Page 145] from Meerut to convey our wounded officers and men back to that place, the column halted at Bulandshahr for four days.

Lieutenant Home's Death On the afternoon of the 1st October the fort was blown up, and most unfortunately, while superintending the operation, Lieutenant Home was killed.5 The mine had been laid and the slow-match lighted, but the explosion not following as quickly as was expected, Home thought the match must have gone out, and went forward again to relight it. At that moment the mine blew up. His death was greatly felt in camp, happening as it did when all the excitement of battle was over.

We left Bulandshahr, and said good-bye to Lyall on the 3rd October, feeling that he was being placed in a position of considerable risk, thrown as he was on his own resources, with general instructions to re-establish the authority of the British Government. He was not, however, molested, and after two or three days he was joined by a small body of troops from Meerut. During the months that followed he and his escort had several alarms and some smart skirmishes; for Rohilkand, a large tract of country to the east of Bulandshahr, was held by the rebels until the following spring, and Lyall's district was constantly traversed by bodies of mutinous sepoys.

On the afternoon of the same day we reached Khurja, a fair-sized Mahomedan town, from which some of our Cavalry soldiers were recruited. The first thing that met our eyes on arrival at this place was a skeleton, ostentatiously placed against the side of a bridge leading to the encamping-ground; it was headless, and the bones were hacked and broken. It was pronounced by more than one doctor to be the skeleton of a European woman. This sight maddened the soldiery, who demanded vengeance, and at one time it seemed that the town of Khurja would have to pay the penalty for the supposed crime. The whole force was greatly excited. At length calmer counsels prevailed. The people of the town protested their innocence, and expressed their anxiety to be our humble servants; they were, as a whole, given the benefit of the doubt, but some soldiers found in the town, belonging to regiments which had mutinied, were tried, and hanged or acquitted according to the evidence given.

Some excitement was caused on reaching camp by the appearance of a fakir seated under a tree close to where our tents were pitched. The man was evidently under a vow of silence, which Hindu devotees often make as a penance for sin, or to earn a title to more than a fair share of happiness in a future life. On our addressing him, the fakir pointed to a small wooden platter, making signs for us to examine it. The platter had been quite recently used for mixing food in, and at first there seemed to be nothing unusual about it. On closer inspection,[Page 146] however, we discovered that a detachable square of wood had been let in at the bottom, on removing which a hollow became visible, and in it lay a small folded paper, that proved to be a note from General Havelock, written in the Greek character, containing the information that he was on his way to the relief of the Lucknow garrison, and begging any Commander into whose hands the communication might fall to push on as fast as possible to his assistance, as he sorely needed reinforcements, having few men and no carriage to speak of. This decided Greathed to proceed with as little delay as might be to Cawnpore.

Knights-Errant Just before we left Bulandshahr, a spy reported to me that an English lady was a prisoner in a village some twenty miles off, and that she was anxious to be rescued. As on cross-examination, however, the story did not appear to me to be very reliable, I told the man he must bring me some proof of the presence of the lady in the village. Accordingly, on the arrival of the column at Khurja, he appeared with a piece of paper on which was written 'Miss Martindale.' This necessitated the matter being inquired into, and I obtained the Brigadier's permission to make a detour to the village in question. I started off, accompanied by Watson and Probyn, with their two squadrons of Cavalry. We timed our march so as to reach our destination just before dawn; the Cavalry surrounded the village, and with a small escort we three proceeded up the little street to the house where the guide told us the lady was confined. Not only was the house empty, but, with the exception of a few sick and bedridden old people, there was not a soul in the village. There had evidently been a hasty retreat, which puzzled me greatly, as I had taken every precaution to ensure secrecy, for I feared that if our intention to rescue the lady became known she would be carried off. As day broke we searched the surrounding crops, and found the villagers and some soldiers hidden amongst them. They one and all denied that there was the slightest truth in the story, and as it appeared a waste of time to further prosecute the fruitless search, we were on the point of starting to rejoin our camp, when there was a cry from our troopers of 'Mem sahib hai!' (Here is the lady), and presently an excessively dusky girl about sixteen years of age appeared, clad in Native dress. We had some difficulty in getting the young woman to tell us what had happened; but on assuring her that no harm should be done to those with whom she was living, she told us that she was the daughter of a clerk in the Commissioner's office at Sitapur; that all her family had been killed when the rising took place at that station, and that she had been carried off by a sowar to his home. We asked her if she wished to come away with us. After some hesitation she declined, saying the sowar had married her (after the Mahomedan fashion), and was kind to her, and she had no friends and relations to go to. On asking her why she had sent to let us know she was there, she replied that she thought[Page 147] she would like to join the British force, which she heard was in the neighbourhood, but on further reflection she had come to the conclusion it was best for her to remain where she was. After talking to her for some time, and making quite sure she was not likely to change her mind, we rode away, leaving her to her sowar, with whom she was apparently quite content.6 I need hardly say we got unmercifully chaffed on our return to camp, when the result of our expedition leaked out.

Fight at Aligarh At Somna, where we halted for the night, we heard that the Mahomedan insurgents, the prisoners released from gaol, and the rebel Rajputs of the neighbourhood, were prepared to resist our advance on Aligarh, and that they expected to be aided by a large number of mutineers from Delhi. We came in sight of Aligarh shortly before daybreak on the 5th October. Our advance was stopped by a motley crowd drawn up before the walls, shouting, blowing horns, beating drums, and abusing the Feringhis in the choicest Hindustani; but, so far as we could see, there were no sepoys amongst them. The Horse Artillery coming up, these valiant defenders quickly fled inside the city and closed the gates, leaving two guns in our possession. Thinking we should be sure to attack and take the place, they rushed through it to the other side, and made for the open country. But we had had enough of street fighting at Delhi. Our Cavalry and Artillery were divided into two parties, which moved round the walls, one to the right and the other to the left, and united in pursuit of the fugitives at the further side. We followed them for several miles. Some had concealed themselves in the high crops, and were discovered by the Cavalry on their return march to camp. Ouvry formed a long line, and one by one the rebels, starting up as the troopers rode through the fields, were killed, while our loss was trifling.

The inhabitants of Aligarh had apparently had a bad time of it under the rebel rule, for they expressed much joy at the result of the morning's work, and were eager in their proffers to bring in supplies for our troops and to otherwise help us.

Ill as we could afford to weaken our column, it was so necessary to keep the main line of communication open, and put a stop to the disorder into which the country had fallen, that it was decided to leave two companies of Punjabis at Aligarh, as a guard to the young civilian who was placed in charge of the district.

Fourteen miles from Aligarh on the road to Cawnpore there lived two Rajputs, twin brothers, who had taken such a prominent part in the rebellion that a price had been put on their heads, and for the future peace of the district it was considered necessary to capture them.[Page 148] In order to surprise them the more completely, it was given out that the column was to march towards Agra, from which place disquieting news had been received, while secret orders were issued to proceed towards Cawnpore. The Cavalry went on in advance, and while it was still dark, succeeded in surrounding the village of Akrabad, where dwelt the brothers. In attempting to escape they were both killed, and three small guns were found in their house loaded and primed, but we had arrived too suddenly to admit of their being used against us. We discovered besides a quantity of articles which must have belonged to European ladies—dresses, books, photographs, and knick-knacks of every description—which made us feel that the twins had richly deserved their fate.

We halted on the 7th, and on the 8th marched across country to Bryjgarh (a prettily situated village under a fortified hill), our object being to get nearer to Agra, the reports from which place had been causing us anxiety, and likewise to put ourselves in a position to intercept the Rohilkand mutineers, who we were told were on their way to Lucknow.

Appeals from Agra No sooner had we got to Bryjgarh than we received information that the detachment we had left behind at Aligarh was not likely to be left undisturbed, and at the same time an urgent call for assistance came from Agra, where a combined attack by insurgents from Gwalior, Mhow, and Delhi was imminent. Fifty of Hodson's Horse, under a European officer, and a sufficient number of Infantry to make the detachment we had left there up to 200, were at once despatched to Aligarh. It was clear, too, that the appeal from Agra must be responded to, for it was an important place, the capital of the North-West Provinces; the troops and residents had been shut up in the fort for more than three months, and the letters, which followed each other in quick succession, showed that the authorities were considerably alarmed. It was felt, therefore, that it was imperative upon us to turn our steps towards Agra, but it entailed our marching forty-eight miles out of our way, and having to give up for the time any idea of aiding Havelock in the relief of Lucknow.

The column marched at midnight on the 8th October, the Horse Artillery and Cavalry, which I accompanied, pushing on as fast as possible. We had done thirty-six miles, when we were advised from Agra that there was no need for so much haste, as the enemy, having heard of our approach, were retiring; we accordingly halted, nothing loath, till the Infantry came up.

Early the next morning, the 10th October, we reached Agra. Crossing the Jumna by a bridge of boats, we passed under the walls of the picturesque old fort built by the Emperor Akbar nearly 300 years before.

The European residents who had been prisoners within the walls of[Page 149] the fort for so long streamed out to meet and welcome us, overjoyed at being free at last. We presented, I am afraid, but a sorry appearance, as compared to the neatly-dressed ladies and the spick-and-span troops who greeted us, for one of the fair sex was overheard to remark, 'Was ever such a dirty-looking lot seen?' Our clothes were, indeed, worn and soiled, and our faces so bronzed that the white soldiers were hardly to be distinguished from their Native comrades.

Our questions as to what had become of the enemy, who we had been informed had disappeared with such unaccountable celerity on hearing of the advance of the column, were answered by assurances that there was no need to concern ourselves about them, as they had fled across the Kari Naddi, a river thirteen miles away, and were in full retreat towards Gwalior. It was a little difficult to believe in the complete dispersion of the formidable rebel army, the mere rumoured approach of which had created such consternation in the minds of the Agra authorities, and had caused the many urgent messages imploring us to push on.

Our doubts, however, were met with the smile of superior knowledge. We were informed that the rebels had found it impossible to get their guns across to the Agra side of the stream, and that, feeling themselves powerless without them to resist our column, they had taken themselves off with the least possible delay. We were asked with some indignation, 'Had not the whole country round been scoured by thoroughly trustworthy men without a trace of the enemy being discovered?' And we were assured that we might take our much-needed rest in perfect confidence that we were not likely to be disturbed. We were further told by those who were responsible for the local Intelligence Department, and who were repeatedly questioned, that they had no doubt whatever their information was correct, and that there was no need to follow up the enemy until our troops were rested and refreshed.

Collapse of the Agra Administration We were then not aware of what soon became painfully apparent, that neither the information nor the opinions of the heads of the civil and military administration at Agra were to be relied upon. That administration had, indeed, completely collapsed; there was no controlling authority; the crisis had produced no one in any responsible position who understood the nature of the convulsion through which we were passing; and endless discussion had resulted (as must always be the case) in fatal indecision and timidity.

We could hardly have been expected to know that the government of so great a province was in the hands of men who were utterly unfit to cope with the difficulties of an emergency such as had now arisen, although in quieter times they had filled their positions with credit to themselves and advantage to the State.

Taken by Surprise That this was the case can be proved beyond a doubt, but I do not[Page 150] give it as an excuse for our being caught napping by the enemy, which we certainly were. We ought, of course, to have reconnoitred the surrounding country for ourselves, and posted our piquets as usual; and we ought not to have been induced to neglect these essential military precautions by the confident assertion of the Agra authorities that the enemy were nowhere in our neighbourhood.

The Brigadier gave orders for our camp to be pitched as soon as the tents should arrive, but he saw no necessity for posting piquets until the evening. Accordingly, I marked out the camp on the brigade parade-ground, which had been selected as best suited for the purpose—a grassy, level, open spot, a mile and a half from the fort. On the left and rear were the ruined lines of the two Native Infantry regiments which had been disarmed and sent to their homes, and the charred remains of the British officers' houses. To the right and front there was cultivation, and the high crops, almost ready to be reaped, shut out the view of the country beyond.

As the tents and baggage could not arrive for some time, I got leave to go with Norman, Watson, and a few others to breakfast in the fort. We had scarcely sat down, bent on enjoying such an unusual event as a meal in ladies' society, when we were startled by the report of a gun, then another and another. Springing to our feet, there was a general exclamation of, 'What can it mean? Not the enemy, surely!' But the enemy it was, as we were soon convinced by our host, who, having gone to a point from which he could get a view of the surrounding country, came back in hot haste, to tell us that an action was taking place.

We who belonged to the column hurried down the stairs, jumped on our horses, and galloped out of the fort and along the road in the direction of the firing. We had got but half-way to camp, when we were met and almost borne down by an enormous crowd, consisting of men, women, and children of every shade of colour, animals and baggage all mixed up in inextricable confusion. On they rushed, struggling and yelling as if pursued by demons.

The refugees from the fort, tired of their long imprisonment, had taken advantage of the security which they thought was assured by the arrival of the column to visit their deserted homes. Two-thirds of the 150,000 inhabitants of the city had also flocked out to see the troops who had taken part in the capture of Delhi (the report of which achievement was still universally disbelieved), to watch our camp being pitched, and to see what was going on generally. All this varied crowd, in terror at the first sound of firing, made for the fort and city, and were met in their flight by the heavy baggage of the column on its way to camp. Instantly, elephants, camels, led horses, doolie-bearers carrying the sick and wounded, bullocks yoked to heavily-laden carts, all becoming panic-stricken, turned round and joined in the stampede.[Page 151] Elephants, as terrified as their mahouts7, shuffled along, screaming and trumpeting; drivers twisted the tails of their long-suffering bullocks with more than usual energy and heartlessness, in the vain hope of goading them into a gallop; and camels had their nostrils rent asunder by the men in charge of them, in their unsuccessful endeavours to urge their phlegmatic animals into something faster than their ordinary stately pace.

The Fight at Agra Into this surging multitude we rushed, but for a time our progress was completely checked. Eventually, however, by dint of blows, threats, and shouts, we managed to force our way through the motley crowd and reach the scene of action. What a sight was that we came upon! I seem to see it now as distinctly as I did then. Independent fights were going on all over the parade-ground. Here, a couple of Cavalry soldiers were charging each other. There, the game of bayonet versus sword was being carried on in real earnest. Further on, a party of the enemy's Cavalry were attacking one of Blunt's guns (which they succeeded in carrying off a short distance). Just in front, the 75th Foot (many of the men in their shirt-sleeves) were forming square to receive a body of the rebel horse. A little to the left of the 75th, Remmington's troop of Horse Artillery and Bourchier's battery had opened fire from the park without waiting to put on their accoutrements, while the horses were being hastily harnessed by the Native drivers and saices. Still further to the left, the 9th Lancers and Gough's squadron of Hodson's Horse were rapidly saddling and falling in. On the right the 8th Foot and the 2nd and 4th Punjab Infantry were busy getting under arms, while beyond, the three squadrons of Punjab Cavalry, under Probyn and Younghusband, were hurrying to get on the enemy's flank.

Watson galloped off to take command of the Punjab Cavalry, and Norman and I rode in different directions to search for the Brigadier. While thus employed, I was stopped by a dismounted sowar, who danced about in front of me, waving his pagri8 before the eyes of my horse with one hand, and brandishing his sword with the other. I could not get the frightened animal near enough to use my sword, and my pistol (a Deane and Adams revolver), with which I tried to shoot my opponent, refused to go off, so I felt myself pretty well at his mercy, when, to my relief, I saw him fall, having been run through the body by a man of the 9th Lancers who had come to my rescue.

Being unable to find the Brigadier, I attached myself to the next senior officer, Major Frank Turner, who commanded the Artillery. Gradually the enemy were beaten off, and the troops formed themselves up ready for pursuit, or whatever they might be called upon to do. At this juncture Greathed appeared on the ground.

With less experienced troops the surprise—and a thorough surprise[Page 152] it was—would in all probability have had serious results. Most of the men were asleep under the few tents which had already arrived, or such shelter as could be obtained near at hand, when first one round shot, then another, came right into their midst from a battery concealed in the high crops to our right front. At the same time half a dozen rebels, one of them playing the nagàra,9 rode quietly up to the Quarter-Guard of the 9th Lancers and cut down the sentry. Being dressed, like Probyn's men, in red, they were mistaken for them, and were thus enabled to get close to the guard. This act was quickly followed by a general rush of the enemy's Cavalry, which brought about the series of fights that were going on when we appeared on the scene. The Commander was not to be found; no one knew who was the senior officer present; consequently each regiment and battery had to act according to its own discretion. The troops got ready with incredible rapidity, and set to work to drive the enemy off the ground. The Artillery replied to the insurgents' guns; the Infantry did what they could, but were hampered by the fear of doing more injury to their friends than their foes, and thus the brunt of the work fell upon the Cavalry. The 9th Lancers made a succession of brilliant charges. One troop especially distinguished itself by recovering Blunt's captured gun; the Captain (French) was killed, and the subaltern (Jones), covered with wounds, was left on the ground for dead. Watson, Probyn, and Younghusband, with their three squadrons, cleared our right flank, capturing two guns and some standards; and Hugh Gough, with his squadron, performed a similar duty on the left.

Probyn greatly distinguished himself on this occasion. In one of the charges he got separated from his men, and was for a time surrounded by the enemy, two of whom he slew. In another charge he captured a standard. For these and numerous acts of gallantry during the Mutiny, he was, to the great delight of his many friends in the column, awarded the Victoria Cross.

When Greathed arrived, the order for a general advance was given, and we were just moving off in pursuit of the rebels, when the 3rd European Regiment and a battery of Field Artillery under Lieutenant-Colonel Cotton arrived from the fort. This officer, being senior to our Brigadier, took command of the force, and untimely delay was caused while he learnt the details of our position. Having satisfied himself that the enemy must be followed up, he endorsed Greathed's order, and off we again started.

We soon overtook the retreating foe, who every now and then turned and made an ineffectual stand. At the end of about four miles we came upon their camp; it covered a considerable space, and must have taken a long time to transport and pitch—a circumstance which made[Page 153] the ignorance on the part of the Agra authorities as to the close proximity of the enemy appear even more unaccountable than before.

An Exciting Chase Our Infantry were now pretty well done up; they had been on the move, with one or two short intervals, for nearly sixty hours, and the 3rd Europeans were not in trim for a long and hot day's work after such a lengthened period of inactivity in the fort, and clad, as they were, in thick scarlet uniform. The enemy, however, could not be allowed to carry off their guns; so, leaving the Infantry to amuse themselves by making hay in the rebels' camp, we pushed forward with the Cavalry and Artillery. It was a most exciting chase. Property of all sorts and descriptions fell into our hands, and before we reached the Kari Naddi we had captured thirteen guns, some of them of large calibre, and a great quantity of ammunition. The enemy's loss on this occasion was not very great, owing to the extraordinary facility with which Native troops can break up and disappear, particularly when crops are on the ground.

While watching a few of the rebel Cavalry making their escape along the opposite bank of the Kari Naddi, I noticed about a dozen men belonging to the 2nd and 4th Punjab Infantry quenching their thirst in the stream. Carried away by excitement, they had managed to keep up with the pursuit, never thinking of the inevitable trudge back to Agra, which meant that, by the time they arrived there, they would have accomplished a march of not less than 70 miles without a halt, besides having had a severe fight with an enemy greatly superior in numbers.

Our casualties were slight: 12 officers and men were killed, 54 wounded, and 2 missing, besides some 20 camp-followers killed and wounded.

There is no doubt that the enemy were almost as much taken by surprise as we were. They knew that we were on our way from Aligarh, and had arranged (as we afterwards heard) with the people of the city to destroy the bridge of boats in time to prevent our crossing. But our movements were sufficiently rapid to prevent their carrying their intention into effect; and although the insurgents were informed that we had actually crossed the river they refused to believe the report, and, it was said, hanged the man who brought it. Their incredulity was strengthened by the small dimensions of the ground taken up for our camp, and the few tents which were pitched, and they made up their minds that these were only being prepared for the troops belonging to the Agra garrison, and so anticipated an easy victory. Their astonishment first became known when they were repulsed by the 75th Foot, and were heard to say to one another, 'Arrah bhai! ye Diliwhale hain!' (I say, brother! these are the fellows from Delhi!).

We halted at Agra on the 11th, 12th, and 13th October, partly to rest the men and transport animals, but chiefly on account of the[Page 154] difficulty we had in getting out of the clutches of the North-West Provinces Government, the local authorities not caring to be left to their own resources. Our wounded were taken to the fort, and lodged in the Moti Masjid,10 which exquisite little building had been turned into a hospital. The men were well taken care of by the ladies, who seemed to think they could never do enough for the Delhi column.

The Taj Mahal I now for the first time saw the lovely Taj Mahal—that beautiful, world-famed memorial of a man's devotion to a woman, a husband's undying love for a dead wife. I will not attempt to describe the indescribable. Neither words nor pencil could give to the most imaginative reader the slightest idea of the all-satisfying beauty and purity of this glorious conception. To those who have not already seen it, I would say: 'Go to India. The Taj alone is well worth the journey.'



Infatuation of the Authorities at Agra

During our three days' halt at Agra we were told the story of all that had happened before we came, and a sad story it was of incapacity and neglected opportunity. The Lieutenant-Governor, an able, intelligent man under ordinary circumstances, had, unfortunately, no firmness of character, no self-reliance. Instead of acting on his own convictions, he allowed himself to be entirely led by men about him, who had not sufficient knowledge of Natives to enable them to grasp how completely the latter's attitude towards us had been changed by the loss of our military hold over the country.1

Deaf to warnings from those who did understand the magnitude of the danger, the Lieutenant-Governor refused to listen to the Maharaja Scindia, who, influenced by the wise counsels of his astute and enlightened minister, Dinkar Rao, told him that the whole Native army was disloyal, and that the men of his own (the Gwalior) Contingent2 were as bad as the rest. The authorities refused to allow the ladies and children at Gwalior to be sent into Agra for safety; they[Page 155] objected to arrangements being made for accommodating the non-combatants inside the walls of the fort, because, forsooth, such precautions would show a want of confidence in the Natives! and the sanction for supplies being stored in the fort was tardily and hesitatingly accorded. It was not, indeed, until the mutinous sepoys from Nimach and Nasirabad were within sixty miles of Agra that orders were given to put the fort in a state of defence and provision it, and it was not until they had reached Futtehpore Sikri, twenty-three miles from Agra, that the women and children were permitted to seek safety within the stronghold.3

Fortunately, however, notwithstanding the intermittent manner in which instructions were issued, there was no scarcity of supplies, for, owing to the foresight and energy of Lieutenant Henry Chalmers, the executive Commissariat officer, assisted by that prince of contractors, Lalla Joti Persâd, and ably supported by Mr. Reade, the civilian next in rank to the Lieutenant-Governor, food was stored in sufficient quantities, not only for the garrison, but for all the refugees from the surrounding districts.4

Mr. Drummond, the magistrate of the district, who had from the first been the chief opponent of precautionary measures for the security of the residents, had the audacity to set the Lieutenant-Governor's order for victualling the fort at defiance. He forbad grain or provisions being sold to the Commissariat contractor, whose duty it was to collect supplies, and positively imprisoned one man for responding to the contractor's demands. It was at this official's instigation that the Native police force was largely increased, instead of being done away with altogether, as would have been the sensible course; and as there was an insufficiency of weapons wherewith to arm the augmentation, a volunteer corps of Christians, lately raised, was disbanded, and their arms distributed amongst the Mahomedan police. So far was this infatuated belief in the loyalty of the Natives carried that it was proposed to disarm the entire Christian population, on the pretext that their carrying weapons gave offence to the Mahomedans! It was only on the urgent remonstrance of some of the military officers that this preposterous scheme was abandoned.5 The two Native regiments stationed at Agra were not disarmed until one of the British officers with them had been killed and another wounded. The gaol, containing 5,000 prisoners, was left in charge of a Native guard, although the superintendent, having reliable information that the sepoys intended to mutiny, begged that it might be[Page 156] replaced by European soldiers. The Lieutenant-Governor gave his consent to this wise precaution, but afterwards not only allowed himself to be persuaded to let the Native guard remain, but authorized the removal of the European superintendent, on the plea of his being an alarmist.6

On the 4th July Mr. Colvin, the Lieutenant-Governor, whose health had been very indifferent for some time, was induced, much against his will, to retire to the fort, and for the time being the management of affairs passed into the hands of Brigadier Polwhele. There was little improvement—indecision reigned supreme. Notwithstanding that the gradual approach of the mutineers from Gwalior and Nasirabad was well known, no preparations were made, no plan of action decided upon. Polwhele, who was a brave old soldier, and had seen a great deal of service, had, indeed, wisely come to the conclusion that the rebels would never venture to attack a fort like Agra, and that, if left alone, they would in all probability continue their march towards Delhi. The available troops numbered less than 1,000 effective men, and Polwhele felt that, by going out to attack the enemy, there would be a grave risk of the seat of government falling into the hands of the disaffected police and city people.

Unfortunately, however, the Brigadier allowed himself to be overruled, and when the mutineers were reported to have arrived at Shahganj, four miles from Agra, he gave way to the cry to 'Go out and do something!' and issued orders for the troops to fall in.

A Series of Mishaps A series of mishaps then occurred. It was one o'clock in the afternoon of the 5th July before the column7 was ready to start; the men in their thick red uniform suffered greatly from the heat and thirst; the enemy, 9,000 strong, with twelve guns, instead of being at Shahganj, were found to be strongly entrenched at Sarsia, some distance farther off. A protracted engagement then took place, and our troops, having expended all their ammunition, were obliged to retreat, leaving many dead and a gun on the field.

Meanwhile the city and cantonment were in a state of uproar. The first gun was the signal for the guard at the gaol to release the 5,000 prisoners, who, as they appeared in the streets, still wearing their fetters, caused a perfect panic amongst the respectable inhabitants; while the evil-disposed made for the cantonment, to plunder, burn, and murder. Some of the residents who had not sought shelter in the fort, confident that our troops would gain an easy victory, on hearing of their defeat hurried with all speed to that place[Page 157] of refuge, and for the most part succeeded in reaching it; but a few were overtaken and killed by the mob, aided by the trusted police, who had early in the day broken into open mutiny.8

Result of Indecision and Incapacity With one or two exceptions the officials, military and civil alike, were utterly demoralized by all these disastrous occurrences, the result of their own imbecility. For two days no one was allowed to leave the fort or approach from the outside. Within was dire confusion; without, the mob had it all their own way.

Early in August a despatch was received from the Governor-General acknowledging the receipt of the report on the fight of the 5th July, and directing that Brigadier Polwhele should be removed from the command of his brigade. On the 9th September Mr. Colvin died; he never recovered the shock of the Mutiny. As a Lieutenant-Governor in peace-time he was considered to have shown great ability in the management of his province, and he was highly respected for his uprightness of character. One cannot but feel that it was in a great measure due to his failing health that, when the time of trial came, he was unable to accept the responsibility of directing affairs himself, or to act with the promptitude and decision which were demanded from all those occupying prominent positions in 1857.

Mr. Reade, the next senior civilian, assumed charge of the government on Mr. Colvin's death, until orders were received from the Government of India vesting the supreme authority in a military officer, and appointing Colonel Hugh Fraser, of the Bengal Engineers, to be Mr. Colvin's successor with the rank and position of a Chief Commissioner. Lord Canning was doubtless induced to make this selection in consequence of the courage and ability Colonel Fraser had displayed during the Burmese War, and also on account of the sound advice he had given to the Lieutenant-Governor in the early days of the outbreak—advice which unfortunately was ignored. Mr. Reade, who had proved himself worthy of his high position, gave Colonel Fraser his cordial and unqualified support, but that officer, like his predecessor, was in bad health, and found it difficult to exercise the much-needed control. A constant state of panic continued to exist, and no reliable information could be obtained of what was going on even in the immediate neighbourhood. The relief afforded by the news of the fall of Delhi was great, but short-lived, for it was quickly followed by a report that the whole rebel army had fled from Delhi and was hastening towards Agra, and that the mutineers from Gwalior and Central India were advancing to attack the fort. Again all was confusion. Reports as to the movements of the enemy were never the same for two days together; at last what appeared to be authentic intelligence was received: the Gwalior troops were said to be close at[Page 158] hand, and those urgent appeals for assistance which were sent to Greathed caused us to turn our steps towards Agra.

Our object having been attained, we were all anxious to depart. The Chief Commissioner, however, was quite as anxious that we should remain; firmly believing that the Gwalior troops would reappear, he suggested that we should follow them up at least as far as Dholpur; but this proposal Greathed firmly refused to accede to. The orders he had received were to open up the country9 between the Jumna and the Ganges, and he had not forgotten the little note from Havelock discovered in the fakir's platter.

At last the column was allowed to leave. The evening before our departure Norman and I called on the Chief Commissioner to say good-bye. We found Colonel Fraser greatly depressed, and inclined to take a most gloomy view of the situation, evidently thinking the restoration of our rule extremely doubtful. His last words to us were, 'We shall never meet again.'10 He looked extremely ill, and his state of health probably accounted for his gloomy forebodings. We, on the contrary, were full of health and hope. Having assisted at the capture of Delhi, the dispersion of the enemy who had attempted to oppose us on our way through the Doab, and the troops we were serving with having recently achieved a decisive victory at Agra over a foe four times their number, we never doubted that success would attend us in the future as in the past, and we were now only anxious to join hands with Havelock, and assist in the relief of the sufferers besieged in Lucknow.



On the 14th October we moved camp to the left bank of the Jumna, where we were joined by a small party of Artillerymen with two 18-pounder guns, and some convalescents belonging to the regiments with us, who had been left behind at Delhi—300 in all. Our camp was pitched in a pretty garden called the Rambagh, only a short distance from Agra, where we gave a picnic to the ladies who had been so kind to our wounded men—a rough sort of entertainment, as may be imagined, but much enjoyed by the easily-pleased people who had been prisoners for so long, to whom the mere getting away from the fort for a few hours was a relief.

On the morning of the 15th we commenced our march towards Mainpuri, a small station seventy miles from Agra, which we reached on the 18th. While on our way there, Hope Grant, Colonel of the[Page 159] 9th Lancers, arrived in camp to take over the command of the column. He had remained at Delhi when superseded by Greathed, and being naturally indignant at the treatment he had received, he protested against it, and succeeded in getting the order appointing Greathed to the command cancelled.

Had an officer been specially selected on account of his possessing a more intimate acquaintance with Native soldiers and a longer experience of India, Hope Grant would no doubt have accepted the inevitable. But Greathed did not know as much of the country and Native troops as Hope Grant did; he had seen no service before he came to Delhi, and while there had no opportunity of showing that he possessed any particular qualification for command; he certainly did not exhibit any while in charge of the column, and everyone in the force was pleased to welcome Hope Grant as its leader.

The Raja of Mainpuri, who had openly joined the rebels, fled the day before we marched in, leaving behind him several guns and a quantity of powder. We halted on the 20th, blew up his fort and destroyed the powder. The European part of the station was in ruins, but a relation of the Raja had been able to prevent the Government treasury from being plundered, and he made over to us two and a half lakhs of rupees.

Advantage of Being a Good Horseman The civilians of the Mainpuri district were amongst the refugees at Agra, and took advantage of our escort to return to their station. We had also been joined by some officers whom the mutiny of their regiments had left without employment; they were a welcome addition to our Punjab regiments, as the limited number of British officers attached to these corps had been considerably reduced by the constantly recurring casualties. One of these officers was a Captain Carey, whose story, as he told it to me, of his escape from the massacre at Cawnpore and his subsequent experiences is, I think, worth repeating.

In the month of May Carey went into Wheeler's entrenchment with the rest of the garrison; a few days before the investment, however, Sir Henry Lawrence sent his Military Secretary, Captain Fletcher Hayes, to Cawnpore, to report on what course events were taking at that place, and, if possible, to communicate with Delhi. His escort was the 2nd Oudh Irregular Cavalry. Hayes had already made Carey's acquaintance, and, on finding him at Cawnpore, asked him to accompany him to Delhi, which invitation Carey gladly accepted. When they got close to Bewar, where the road to Mainpuri branched off, Hayes, wishing to gain information from the civil authorities as to the state of the country through which their route to Delhi lay, rode off to the latter place with Carey, having first ordered the escort to proceed towards Delhi, and having arranged with the British officers to catch them up at the end of the next day's march. The following[Page 160] day, as the two friends approached the encamping ground where they were to overtake the escort, they beheld the regiment marching steadily along the road in regular formation; there was nothing to warn them that it had revolted, for as there were only three British officers with the corps, whose dress was almost the same as the men's, their absence was not noticed.

Suddenly, when they had got within two or three hundred yards of the regiment, the troopers with one accord broke into shouts and yells, and, brandishing their swords, galloped towards Hayes and Carey, who, turning their horses, made with all possible speed back towards Mainpuri. Hayes, who was an indifferent rider, was soon overtaken and cut to pieces, while Carey, one of the best horsemen in the army, and beautifully mounted, escaped; the sowars followed him for some distance, but a wide irrigation cut, which he alone was able to clear, put an end to the pursuit. Carey reached his destination in safety, and, with the other Europeans from Mainpuri, sought refuge in the Agra fort, where he spent the following five months. It was afterwards ascertained that the three British officers with the escort had been murdered by the sowars shortly before Hayes and Carey came in sight.

News from Lucknow On the 21st October we reached Bewar, the junction of the roads from Meerut, Agra, Fatehgarh, and Cawnpore, at which point the Brigadier received a communication from Sir James Outram, written in Greek character, from the Lucknow Residency, begging that aid might be sent as soon as possible, as provisions were running short.1 The note was rolled up inside a quill, which the Native messenger had cunningly concealed in the heart of his thick walking-stick. Outram's urgent summons determined the Brigadier to push on. So the next day we made a march of twenty-eight miles to Goorsahaigunj, and on the 23rd we reached Miran-ki-Serai, close to the ruined Hindu city of Kanoj.

The same day I went on as usual with a small escort to reconnoitre, and had passed through the town, when I was fired upon by a party of[Page 161] the rebels, consisting of some 300 Cavalry, 500 Infantry, and four guns, who, having heard of the approach of the column, were trying to get away before it arrived. Their Cavalry and Infantry were on the opposite bank of a fairly wide stream, called the Kali Naddi, through which were being dragged some heavy pieces of cannon. I retired a short distance, and sent back word to the advance guard, which hastened to my assistance. A few rounds from our Artillery caused the enemy to abandon their guns, the Infantry dispersed and disappeared, the Cavalry fled, and we, crossing the stream, had a smart gallop after them for about four miles over a fine grassy plain. On we flew, Probyn's and Watson's squadrons leading the way in parallel lines, about a mile apart. I was with the latter, and we had a running fight till we reached the Ganges, into which plunged those of the sowars whom we had not been able to overtake; we reined up, and saw the unlucky fugitives struggling in the water, men and horses rolling over each other; they were gradually carried down by the swiftly running stream, and but a very few reached the opposite bank.

Our casualties were trifling, only some half-dozen men wounded, while my horse got a gash on his quarter from a sabre. Watson had the forefinger of his right hand badly cut in an encounter with a young sowar; I chaffed him at allowing himself to be nearly cut down by a mere boy, upon which he laughingly retorted: 'Well, boy or not, he was bigger than you.'

It was on this occasion that I first recognized the advantage of having the carbine slung on the trooper's back while in action, instead of being carried in the bucket, as is the custom with our British Cavalry. Several of the enemy's loose horses were going about with carbines on their saddles, while their dismounted riders were at an enormous disadvantage in trying to defend themselves from their mounted adversaries with only their swords. I saw, too, one of Watson's men saved from a fierce cut across the spine by having his carbine on his back. More recent experience has quite satisfied me that this is the only way this weapon should be carried when actual fighting is going on.

Cawnpore Three more marches brought us to Cawnpore, where we arrived on the 26th October.

Heart-rending Scenes We now for the first time heard the miserable 'story of Cawnpore.' We were told how, owing to Sir Hugh Wheeler's misplaced belief in the loyalty of the sepoys, with whom he had served for upwards of half a century, and to the confiding old soldier's trust in the friendship of the miscreant Nana, and in the latter's ability to defend him until succour should arrive, he had neglected to take precautionary measures for laying in supplies or for fortifying the two exposed barracks which, for some unaccountable reason, had been chosen as a place of refuge, instead of the easily defensible and well-stored magazine. Our visit to[Page 162] this scene of suffering and disaster was more harrowing than it is in the power of words to express; the sights which met our eyes, and the reflections they gave rise to, were quite maddening, and could not but increase tenfold the feelings of animosity and desire for vengeance which the disloyalty and barbarity of the mutineers in other places had aroused in the hearts of our British soldiers. Tresses of hair, pieces of ladies' dresses, books crumpled and torn, bits of work and scraps of music, just as they had been left by the wretched owners on the fatal morning of the 27th June, when they started for that terrible walk to the boats provided by the Nana as the bait to induce them to capitulate.2 One could not but picture to one's self the awful suffering those thousand Christian souls of both sexes and of all ages must have endured during twenty-one days of misery and anxiety, their numbers hourly diminished by disease, privation, the terrific rays of a June sun, and the storm of shot, shell, and bullets which never ceased to be poured into them. When one looked on the ruined, roofless barracks, with their hastily constructed parapet and ditch (a mere apology for a defence), one marvelled how 465 men, not more than half of them soldiers by profession, could have held out for three long weeks against the thousands of disciplined troops and hordes of armed retainers whom the Nana was able to bring to the attack.

It is impossible to describe the feelings with which we looked on the Sati-Choura Ghat, where was perpetrated the basest of all the Nana's base acts of perfidy;3 or the intense sadness and indignation which overpowered us as we followed the road along which 121 women and[Page 163] children (many of them well born and delicately nurtured) wended their weary way, amidst jeers and insults, to meet the terrible fate awaiting them. After their husbands and protectors had been slain, the wretched company of widows and orphans were first taken to the Savada house, and then to the little Native hut, where they were doomed to live through two more weeks of intensest misery, until at length the end came, and the last scene in that long drama of foulest treachery and unequalled brutality was enacted. Our unfortunate countrywomen, with their little children, as my readers will remember, were murdered as the sound of Havelock's avenging guns was heard.

We found at Cawnpore some men who had fought their way from Allahabad with Havelock's force, from whom we heard of the difficulties they had encountered on their way, and the subsequent hardships the gallant little force had to endure in its attempts to reach Lucknow. They also told us that Havelock and Outram, with only 3,179 men of all arms, and 14 guns, had succeeded in forcing their way through that great city with a loss of 700, but only to be themselves immediately surrounded by the vast multitude of the enemy, who for three whole months had vainly endeavoured to overpower the heroic defenders of the Residency.

At Cawnpore there were very few troops. The Head-Quarters of the 64th Foot, under Colonel Wilson, and some recovered invalids belonging to regiments which had gone to Lucknow, had held it for more than a month, within an entrenchment thrown up on the river bank to protect the bridge of boats. Just before we arrived four companies of the 93rd Highlanders had marched in. It was the first time I had seen a Highland regiment, and I was duly impressed by their fine physique, and not a little also by their fine dress. They certainly looked splendid in their bonnets and kilts—a striking contrast to my war-worn, travel-stained comrades of the Movable Column. An[Page 164] avant courier of the Naval Brigade had also come in, sent on by Captain William Peel, of H.M.S. Shannon, to arrange for the rest of the blue-jackets who were about to arrive—the first naval officer, I imagine, who had ever been sent on duty so far up the country as Cawnpore.

Other troops were rapidly being pushed up, and officers who had been on leave to England were daily arriving, having hurried out to join their different regiments in various parts of India. Amongst these was an old friend and brother subaltern of mine, Augustus Otway Mayne, whom, greatly to my satisfaction, Hope Grant appointed D.A.Q.M.G. to help me, for there was now more work to be done than I could well get through.

The day after our arrival at Cawnpore we heard that the new Commander-in-Chief, Sir Colin Campbell, was to leave Calcutta that evening to take command of the force with which he hoped to effect the relief of the Lucknow garrison, and with this news came an order to Hope Grant from Sir Colin to get into communication with the Alambagh, a small garden-house not quite two miles from the city of Lucknow, built by one of the Begums of the ex-King of Oudh, in which the sick and wounded, tents and spare stores, had been left in charge of a small detachment, when Outram and Havelock advanced towards the Residency on the 25th September.

Start for Lucknow On the 30th October we left Cawnpore, and crossed the Ganges into Oudh, taking with us the four companies of the 93rd Highlanders, and the men belonging to Havelock's force, whom I have mentioned as having been left behind on account of sickness.

On the 31st we were at Bani bridge, more than half-way to the Alambagh, when a telegram reached the Brigadier directing him to halt until Sir Colin Campbell (who had got as far as Cawnpore) should arrive.

Hope Grant did not think the ground we were on well adapted for a prolonged halt; that afternoon, therefore, I went off with Mayne to reconnoitre the country for a more suitable place. We fixed upon an open plain at the village of Bhantira, about three miles nearer Lucknow. We met with no opposition that day, but the country people in the neighbourhood had shown marked hostility by killing one or two soldiers and every camp-follower who had strayed from the main road; so we were careful to examine Bhantira and all the neighbouring villages, but were unable to discover the slightest sign of an enemy.

An Exciting Adventure As the next day's march was such a very short one, we did not start until 7 a.m., instead of before daybreak as usual. Mayne and I rode on ahead with a couple of sowars, and reached the site we had chosen for the camp without meeting a single suspicious-looking individual. We then sent back the escort to bring up the camp colour-men,[Page 165] and while waiting for them, we entered into conversation with some passing pilgrims, who told us they were on their way to Benares to procure holy water from the Ganges. Suddenly a bullet whizzed over our heads, fired from the direction from which we had just come. Looking back, to our amazement we saw a crowd of armed men at a distance of between three and four hundred yards, completely cutting us off from the column. The whole plain was alive with them. When they saw they were observed, they advanced towards us, shouting and firing. Fortunately for us, we had made ourselves perfectly acquainted with the country the previous day, and instantly realized that escape by our right (as we faced Lucknow) was impossible, because of a huge impassable jhil. There was another jhil to our left front, but at some little distance off, and our only chance seemed to be in riding hard enough to get round the enemy's flank before they could get close enough to this jhil to stop us.

Accordingly, we put spurs to our horses and galloped as fast as they could carry us to our left; the enemy turned in the same direction, and made for a village we must pass, and which we could see was already occupied. The firing got hotter and more uncomfortable as we neared this village, the walls of which we skirted at our best possible pace. We cleared the village, and hoped we had distanced the rebels, when suddenly we came upon a deep nulla. Mayne got safely to the other side, but my horse stumbled and rolled over with me into the water at the bottom. In the fall my hand was slightly cut by my sword, which I had drawn, thinking we might have to fight for our lives; the blood flowed freely, and made the reins so slippery when I tried to remount, that it was with considerable difficulty I got into the saddle. The enemy were already at the edge of the nulla, and preparing to fire, so there was no time to be lost. I struggled through the water and up the opposite bank, and ducking my head to avoid the shots, now coming thick and fast, galloped straight into some high cultivation in which Mayne had already sought shelter. Finally we succeeded in making our way to the main body of the force, where we found Hope Grant in great anxiety about us, as he had heard the firing and knew we were ahead. The dear old fellow evinced his satisfaction at our safe return by shaking each of us heartily by the hand, repeating over and over again in his quick, quaint way, 'Well, my boys, well, my boys, very glad to have you back! never thought to see you again.' The column now moved on, and we found ourselves opposed to a vast body of men, not soldiers, but country people, who in those days were all armed warriors, and who spent their time chiefly in fighting with each other. As we approached the crowd turned, opened out, and fled in every direction, spreading over the plain and concealing themselves in the long grass. We gave chase and killed many, but a large proportion escaped. Favoured by the high crops, they disappeared with that[Page 166] marvellous celerity with which Natives can almost instantly become invisible, leaving in our possession a 9-pounder brass gun. On this occasion we had thirty killed and wounded.

We could not at the time understand where the men had sprung from who so suddenly attacked us; but it afterwards transpired that some powerful zemindars4 in the neighbourhood had collected all the forces they could get together, and established them after dark in the very villages we had so carefully examined the previous afternoon and had found completely deserted, with the intention of falling upon the column as it passed in the early morning. The unusually late hour at which the march was made, however, disconcerted their little plan, and giving up all hope of the force coming that day, they consoled themselves by trying to get hold of Mayne and myself.

We halted on the 3rd and 4th November. On the 5th, Hope Grant sent a force to the Alambagh for the purpose of escorting a long line of carts and camels laden with provisions and ammunition, which the Commander-in-Chief was desirous of having near at hand, in case the relief of the Lucknow garrison should prove a more prolonged operation than he hoped or anticipated it was likely to be.

As we neared the Alambagh the enemy's guns opened on us from our right, while their Cavalry threatened us on both flanks. They were easily disposed of, and we deposited the stores, receiving in exchange a number of sick and wounded who were to be sent back to Cawnpore.

A curious incident happened at the Alambagh. I was employed inside the enclosure, when all at once I heard a noise and commotion some little distance off. Getting on to the roof, I looked over the plain, and saw our troops flying in every direction; there was no firing, no enemy in sight, but evidently something was wrong; so I mounted my horse and rode to the scene of confusion, where I found that the ignominious flight of our troops was caused by infuriated bees which had been disturbed by an officer of the 9th Lancers thoughtlessly thrusting a lance into their nest. There were no serious consequences, but the Highlanders were heard to remark on the unsuitability of their dress for an encounter with an enemy of that description.

Arrival of Sir Colin Campbell On the 9th November Sir Colin Campbell joined the column, accompanied by his Chief of the Staff, Brigadier-General Mansfield.5

[plate 10]



a photograph taken in India.

The following morning we were surprised to hear that a European from the Lucknow garrison had arrived in camp. All were keen to see him, and to hear how it was faring with those who had been shut up in the Residency for so long; but the new-comer was the bearer of very important information from Sir James Outram, and to prevent[Page 167] any chance of its getting about, the Commander-in-Chief kept the messenger, Mr. Kavanagh, a close prisoner in his own tent.

Plans for the Advance Outram, being anxious that the officer in command of the relieving force should not follow the same route taken by himself and Havelock, and wishing to communicate his ideas more at length than was possible in a note conveyed as usual by a spy, Kavanagh, a clerk in an office in Lucknow, pluckily volunteered to carry a letter. It was an offer which appealed to the heart of the 'Bayard of the East,' as Outram has been appropriately called, and just such an errand as he himself, had he been in a less responsible position, would have delighted to undertake. Outram thoroughly understood the risk of the enterprise, and placed it clearly before the brave volunteer, who, nothing daunted, expressed his readiness to start at once, and his confidence in being able to reach the British camp.

Disguised as a Native, and accompanied by a man of Oudh, on whose courage and loyalty he was convinced he could rely, Kavanagh left the Residency after dark on the 9th and got safely across the Gumti. He and his guide remained in the suburbs mixing with the people until the streets might be expected to be pretty well empty, when they re-crossed the river and got safely through the city. They were accosted more than once on their way, but were saved by the readiness of the Native, who it had been arranged should answer all inquiries, though Kavanagh, having been born and bred in the country, could himself speak the language fluently. On the morning of the 10th they made themselves known to a piquet of Punjab Cavalry on duty near the Alambagh.

Outram, profiting by his own experience, wished the relieving column to be spared having to fight its way through the streets of Lucknow. This was all the more necessary because the enemy, calculating on our following the same route as before, had destroyed the bridge over the canal and made extensive preparations to oppose our advance in that direction. Outram explained his views most clearly, and sent with his letter a plan on which the line he proposed we should take was plainly marked. He recommended that the advance should be made, by the Dilkusha6 and Martinière,7 and that the canal should be crossed by the bridge nearest the Gumti. Outram showed his[Page 168] military acumen in suggesting this route, as our right flank would be covered by the river, and therefore could only be molested by a comparatively distant fire. Sir Colin, appreciating all the advantages pointed out, readily accepted and strictly adhered to this plan of advance, except that, instead of crossing the canal by the bridge, we forded it a little nearer the river, a wise divergence from Outram's recommendation, and one which he would assuredly have advised had he been aware that the canal was fordable at this spot, as it kept us altogether clear of the streets.

Outram did not touch in his despatch upon any question but the all-important one of how the junction between his own and the relieving forces could best be effected. Many other matters, however, claimed the earnest consideration of the Commander-in-Chief before he could proceed. He had to determine what was to be done to secure the safety of the women and children in the Residency, after the first most pressing duty of relieving the garrison had been accomplished. Cawnpore was again in great danger from the Gwalior mutineers, who, foiled at Agra, and finding that the Maharaja Sindhia would not espouse their cause, had placed themselves under the orders of the Rani of Jhansi and Tantia Topi, the vile Mahratta whom the Nana made use of to carry out the massacre of the Sati-Choura Ghat; led by this man the rebels were seriously threatening Cawnpore, and it was necessary to take steps for its security. Then again the city of Lucknow had to be thought of; its capture and the restoration of British authority were alike essential, but our Chief knew that he had neither the time nor the means at his disposal to undertake this important operation at once. He therefore made up his mind that so soon as the Residency had been relieved he would withdraw altogether from Lucknow, and place a force at the Cawnpore side of the city, to form the nucleus of the army with which he hoped later on to take the place, and to keep open communication with his Head-Quarters, while he himself should hurry back to Cawnpore, taking with him all the non-combatants and the sick and wounded.

[Page 169]



The Commander-in-Chief

The next morning, the 11th, I had the honour of making the Commander-in-Chief's acquaintance. The manner of my introduction was peculiarly unceremonious. I had left my own tent to be repaired at Cawnpore, and was sharing one with Norman, who was well known to, and greatly believed in by, His Excellency, whose Brigade-Major he had been at Peshawar. Before we were out of bed we heard Sir Colin's voice outside. He had come to speak to Norman about his plans for the future, and as the conversation seemed likely to be of a very confidential nature, and it was too dark for him to see me, I asked Norman to make my presence known. Sir Colin said to Norman somewhat roughly, 'Who is he?' and on my name being mentioned, he asked if I were to be trusted. Norman having vouched for my discretion, the old Chief was apparently satisfied, and then ensued an intensely interesting discussion on Outram's letter, Kavanagh's description of the state of affairs in the Residency, and the manner in which it was best to carry out Outram's recommendations.

That same afternoon the Commander-in-Chief reviewed the column, which now amounted to about 600 Cavalry and 3,500 Infantry, with 42 guns.1 The parade was under the command of Hope Grant, who had been given the rank of Brigadier-General, and put in executive command of the whole force.

Sir Colin spoke a few inspiriting words to each regiment and battery, being particularly appreciative and complimentary in his remarks to the Delhi troops, who certainly looked the picture of workmanlike[Page 170] soldiers; and, considering what they had accomplished, there was nothing invidious in the Chief's singling them out. The Bengal Artillery came in for a large share of praise; he had a strong liking for them, having been with them on service,2 and seen of what good stuff they were made. He recognized several old acquaintances amongst the officers, and freely expressed his satisfaction at having such reliable batteries to help him in the hazardous operation he was about to undertake. He was careful also to say a few words of commendation to the four squadrons of Punjab Cavalry, and the two regiments of Punjab Infantry, the only Native troops, except the Sappers, with the column.

Sir Colin's Preparations That evening orders were issued for a march to the Alambagh the following morning. It may perhaps seem as if Sir Colin was rather leisurely in his movements, but he had ascertained that the Lucknow garrison was in no immediate want of food, as had been reported, and he was determined to leave nothing undone to ensure the success of the undertaking. He personally attended to the smallest detail, and he had to arrange for the transport of the sick and wounded, and the women and children, shut up in the Residency, numbering in all not less than fifteen hundred souls.

Everything being ready, we began our march towards Lucknow, one and all eager to have a share in the rescue of our suffering countrywomen and their children from a most perilous position, and in relieving soldiers who had so long and so nobly performed the most harassing duty, while they cheerfully endured the greatest privations.

We had proceeded but a short distance, when the advance guard was fired upon by some guns in position on our right, near the old fort of Jalalabad. An extensive swamp protected the enemy's right flank, while on their left were a number of water-cuts and broken ground. The Infantry and Artillery wheeled round and attacked the battery in front, while Hugh Gough pushed on with his squadron of Cavalry to see if he could find a way through the apparently impassable swamp to the enemy's right and rear. Bourchier's battery coming up in the nick of time, the hostile guns were soon silenced, and Gough, having succeeded in getting through the jhil, made a most plucky charge, in which he captured two guns and killed a number of the enemy. For his gallant conduct on this occasion Gough was awarded the Victoria Cross, the second of two brothers to win this much-coveted distinction.

The next morning Adrian Hope, who commanded a brigade, was ordered to seize the Jalalabad fort, but finding it evacuated, he blew up one of the walls, and so rendered it indefensible.

On the afternoon of the 13th I accompanied the Commander-in-Chief in a reconnaissance towards the Charbagh bridge and the left[Page 171] front of the Alambagh, a ruse to deceive the enemy as to the real line of our advance. When riding along he told me, to my infinite pride and delight, that I was to have the honour of conducting the force to the Dilkusha. The first thing I did on returning to camp was to find a good guide. We had only about five miles to go; but it was necessary to make sure that the direction taken avoided obstacles which might impede the passage of the Artillery. I was fortunate in finding a fairly intelligent Native, who, after a great deal of persuasion, agreed, for a reward, to take me by a track over which guns could travel. I never let this man out of my sight, and made him show me enough of the road to convince me he knew the way and meant fair dealing.

The Alambagh The Alambagh now proved most useful; all our camp equipage was packed inside the enclosure, for we took no tents with us, and all our spare stores were left there. A rough description of semaphore, too, was constructed on the highest point of the building, by means of which we were able to communicate with the Residency. It was put in Orders that the troops were to breakfast early the next morning, and that they were to take three days' rations in their haversacks; while sufficient for fourteen days was to be carried by the Commissariat.

Just before we started on the 14th November we were strengthened by the arrival of 200 of the Military Train equipped as Cavalry, two Madras Horse Artillery guns, and another company of Madras Sappers.

Captain Moir, of the Bengal Artillery, was placed in charge of the Alambagh, with a garrison consisting of the 75th Foot, 50 of the regiment of Ferozepore,3 and a few Artillerymen. The 75th was the first regiment to move down from the hills when the news of the outbreak at Meerut reached Head-Quarters; it had done grand service, had suffered heavily during the siege of Delhi, and had well earned, and badly needed, a rest. It was now only 300 strong, and had lost in six months 9 officers, in action and from disease, besides 12 wounded. The officers were all friends of mine, and I was very sorry to leave them behind, particularly Barter, the Adjutant, a jolly, good-hearted Irishman, and an excellent officer.

We marched at 9 a.m., keeping to the south of the Alambagh and the Jalalabad fort. We then struck across the fields to the ground now occupied by the Native Cavalry lines, and on to the open space upon which the present race-course is marked out. On reaching this point the Dilkusha came in sight about a mile in front. As we approached, a few shots were fired at us; but the enemy rapidly disappeared as the Cavalry and Horse Artillery, followed by the Infantry of the advance[Page 172] guard, in skirmishing order, passed through an opening which had been hastily made in the wall of the enclosure.

The Dilkusha and Martinière The gallop across the Dilkusha park was quite a pretty sight: deer, which had been quietly browsing, bounded away on all sides, frightened by our approach and the rattle of the guns; while the routed sepoys flew down the grassy slope leading to the Martinière. We reined up for a few seconds to look at the view which opened out before us. In front rose the fluted masonry column of the Martinière, 123 feet high; directly behind, the picturesque building itself, and in the distance the domes and minarets of the mosques and palaces within the city of Lucknow; all looked bright and fair in the morning sun.

We could see that the Martinière was occupied; a crowd of sepoys were collected round the building; and as we showed ourselves on the brow of the hill, a number of round shot came tumbling in amongst us.

Remmington's troop of Horse Artillery, Bourchier's battery, and a heavy howitzer brought up by Captain Hardy, now came into action, and under cover of their fire the 8th Foot and 1st battalion of Detachments attacked and drove the enemy out of the Martinière, while the Cavalry pursued them as far as the canal.

On this occasion my friend Watson greatly distinguished himself. Entirely alone he attacked the enemy's Cavalry, and was at once engaged with its leader and six of the front men; he fought gallantly, but the unequal contest could not have lasted much longer had not Probyn, who, with his own and Watson's squadrons, was only about 300 yards off, become aware of his comrade's critical position, and dashed to his assistance. For this 'and gallantry on many other occasions,' Hope Grant recommended Watson for the Victoria Cross, which he duly received.4

By noon on the 14th we had occupied the Dilkusha and Martinière, and placed our outposts along the right bank of the canal from the river to the point immediately opposite Banks's house. The left bank was held in force by the rebels. Early in the afternoon I went with Hope Grant, accompanied by a small force of Cavalry, to ascertain whether it would be possible to ford the canal somewhere close to the river, and we succeeded in finding a place by which the whole force crossed two days later. Our movements were fortunately not noticed by the enemy, whose attention was concentrated on the roads leading direct to the city from the Dilkusha and Martinière, by which they expected our advance to be made.

Sir Colin, meanwhile, had fixed his Head-Quarters in the Martinière,[Page 173] on the topmost pinnacle of which he caused a semaphore to be erected for communication with Outram. From this post of vantage Kavanagh was able to point out to the Commander-in-Chief the different objects of most interest to him—the positions taken up by the enemy; the group of buildings, of which the Chatta Manzil5 was the most conspicuous, then occupied by the gallant troops led by Outram and Havelock, who, by overwhelming numbers alone, had been prevented from carrying their glorious enterprise to a successful issue; the Residency, where, thanks to Sir Henry Lawrence's foresight and admirable arrangements, a handful of heroic Britons had been able to defy the hordes of disciplined soldiers and armed men who, for nearly three months, day and night, had never ceased to attack the position; and the Kaisarbagh, that pretentious, garish palace of the Kings of Oudh, the centre of every kind of evil and debauchery.

Later in the day the enemy made a determined attack on our centre, which was checked by Brigadier Little advancing with the 9th Lancers and some guns. On a few rounds being fired, they retired from the immediate neighbourhood of the canal, and in the belief that there would be no further trouble that day, the Cavalry and Artillery returned to the Martinière; but the guns were hardly unlimbered before heavy firing was heard from the direction of Banks's house.

I galloped off with Mayne to ascertain the cause. Some little distance from the canal we separated, Mayne going to the left, I to the right. I found the piquets hotly engaged, and the officer in command begged me to get him some assistance. I returned to Hope Grant to report what was going on, but on the way I met the supports coming up, and presently they were followed by the remainder of Hope's and Russell's brigades. Russell had, early in the day, with soldierly instinct, seized two villages a little above the bridge to the north of Banks's house; this enabled him to bring a fire to bear upon the enemy as they advanced, and effectually prevented their turning our left. Hope opened fire with Remmington's troop, Bourchier's battery, and some of Peel's 24-pounders, and as soon as he found it had taken effect and the rebels were shaken, he proceeded to push them across the canal and finally drove them off with considerable loss.

Hope's and Russell's united action, by which our left flank was secured, was most timely, for had it been turned, our long line of camels, laden with ammunition, and the immense string of carts carrying supplies, would in all probability have been captured. As it was, the rear guard, under Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart,6 of the 93rd[Page 174] Highlanders, had a hot time of it; it was frequently attacked, and its progress was so slow that it was more than twenty-four hours between the Alambagh and the Dilkusha.

Mayne's Death At the conclusion of the fight I heard, with great grief, that my poor friend Mayne had been killed, shot through the breast a few seconds after he had left me. He was seen to turn his horse, and, after going a short distance, fall to the ground; when picked up he was quite dead. This was all I could learn. No one was able to tell me where his body had been taken, and I looked for it myself all that evening in vain.

At daybreak the next morning, accompanied by Arthur Bunny, the cheery Adjutant of Horse Artillery, I began my search afresh, and at length we discovered the body inside a doolie under the wall of the Martinière. As there was no knowing how soon our services might be required, we decided to bury the poor fellow at once. I chose a spot close by for his grave, which was dug with the help of some gunners, and then Bunny and I, aided by two or three brother officers, laid our friend in it just as he was, in his blue frock-coat and long boots, his eyeglass in his eye, as he always carried it. The only thing I took away was his sword, which I eventually made over to his family. It was a sad little ceremony. Overhanging the grave was a young tree, upon which I cut the initials 'A.O.M.'—not very deep, for there was little time: they were quite distinct, however, and remained so long enough for the grave to be traced by Mayne's friends, who erected the stone now to be seen.

The whole of that day (the 15th) was spent in preparing for the advance. The Dilkusha was turned into a general depot, where the sick and wounded were placed, also the Ordnance park and stores of every description. A rough defence was thrown up round the building, and a garrison was left to protect it, consisting of five Field guns, half the 9th Lancers, the Military Train, a squadron of Punjab Cavalry, and the 8th Foot, the whole under the command of Little, the Brigadier of Cavalry.

In the afternoon Sir Colin made a feint to the left of our position for the purpose of diverting the attention of the enemy from the real line of advance. He massed the Artillery in this direction, and ordered a constant mortar fire to be kept up during the night on the Begum palace and the barracks. To further strengthen the belief that operations would be carried on from our left, some of the piquets on our right were drawn in; this induced the enemy to make a slight demonstration in that direction. They crossed the canal, but were speedily driven back by the Madras Horse Artillery guns. They then opened fire with a 12-pounder howitzer from the west side of the Gumti, when[Page 175] a really most extraordinary incident happened, which I am not sure I should have the courage to relate, were it not that Sir Dighton Probyn and Sir John Watson, who were close by and saw what took place, are able to vouch for the accuracy of my story.

A Tall-talk Story A shell, fortunately a blind one, from the enemy's howitzer came into Watson's squadron, which was drawn up under the bank of the Martinière tank; it struck a trooper's saddle in front, and must have lifted the man partly out of it, for it passed between his thigh and the horse, tearing the saddle7 to shreds, and sending one piece of it high into the air. The horse was knocked down, but not hurt; the man's thigh was only badly bruised, and he was able to ride again in a few days. One of Watson's officers, Captain Cosserat, having examined the man and horse, came up and reported their condition to Watson, who, of course, was expecting to be told they were both dead, and added: 'I think we had better not tell this story in England, for no one would believe it.' I myself was close to the squadron, and distinctly saw what happened.8

All that day (the 15th) I had been very hard at work, and was greatly looking forward to what I hoped would be a quiet night, when an Aide-de-camp appeared, who informed me that the Commander-in-Chief desired my presence at the Martinière.

Ammunition Required On reporting myself to His Excellency, he told me that he was not satisfied that a sufficient reserve of small-arm ammunition had been brought with the force, and that the only chance of getting more in time was to send back to the Alambagh for it that night, adding that he could neither afford the time nor spare the troops which would be required, were the business of fetching the additional supply to be postponed until the following day. Sir Colin then asked me if I thought I could find my way back to the Alambagh in the dark. I answered, 'I am sure I can.' I might have hesitated to speak so confidently had I not taken the precaution of placing the man who had acted as my guide on the 14th in charge of some Afghan chuprassies9 attached to the Quartermaster-General's department, with strict orders not to lose sight of him. I thought, therefore, I would have him to depend upon[Page 176] if my own memory failed me. The Commander-in-Chief impressed very strongly upon me the great necessity for caution, and told me I could take what escort I thought necessary, but that, whatever happened, I must be back by daybreak, as he had signalled to Outram that the force would advance on the morrow. Sir Colin desired that the Ordnance officer, whose fault it was that sufficient ammunition had not been brought, should go back with me and be left at the Alambagh.

A Night March It was then dusk, and there was no time to be lost. In the first instance I went to my General, and reporting the orders I had received from the Commander-in-Chief, consulted him about my escort. Hope Grant strongly urged my taking with me a troop of the 9th Lancers, as well as some Native Cavalry, but for a night trip I thought it would be better to employ Natives only. I knew that my one chance of success depended on neither being seen nor heard, and Native Cavalry move more quietly than British, chiefly because their scabbards are of wood, instead of steel. I felt, too, that if we came across the enemy, which was not improbable, and got scattered, Natives would run less risk, and be better able to look after themselves. All this I explained to the General, but in the kindness of his heart he pressed me to take the Lancers, telling me he would feel happier about me if I had my own countrymen with me; but I stuck to my own opinion, and it was arranged that I was to be accompanied by Younghusband and Hugh Gough, with their respective squadrons of Native Cavalry. I took leave of my kind and considerate General, and hurried off first to warn the two Cavalry officers, then to the Dilkusha to tell Lieutenant Tod Brown, in charge of the Ordnance depot, that his assistant was to go with me, and lastly to arrange with the Commissariat officer for camels upon which to bring back the ammunition.

It was quite dark before I got to the place where my servants had collected, and where I expected to find my guide. What was my horror to hear that he had disappeared! He had made his escape in the confusion consequent on the enemy's attacks the previous afternoon. What was to be done now? I was in despair—and became more and more doubtful of my ability to find the Alambagh in the dark. By daylight, and with the aid of a compass, which I always carried about me, I should have had little difficulty, even though the country we had to get over was intersected by ravines and water-courses, not to speak of the uncompromising jhil near the Jalalabad fort. However, go I must. I could not possibly tell the Commander-in-Chief that I was unable to carry out a duty for which he had selected me—there was nothing for it but to trust to my own recollection of the route and hope for the best.

Everything having been put in train, I returned to the Artillery bivouac, managed a hasty dinner, mounted a fresh horse, and, about 9 p.m., started off, accompanied by Younghusband, Hugh Gough, the[Page 177] unlucky Ordnance officer, two squadrons of Cavalry, and 150 camels.

We got on well enough until we reached the broken ground near the present Native Cavalry lines, when we lost the road, or rather track, for road there was none. We could see nothing but the lights of the enemy's piquets at an uncomfortably short distance to our right. I struck a match, and made out from the compass the right direction; but that did not help us to clear the ravines, which, in our efforts to turn or get through them, made our way appear interminable. At length we found ourselves upon open ground; but, alas! having edged off too much to our right we were in close proximity to the enemy's piquets, and could distinctly hear their voices. We halted to collect the long string of camels, and as soon as they were got in order started off again. I led the way, every few minutes striking a light to see how the compass was pointing, and to take an anxious look at my watch, for I was beginning to fear I should not be able to accomplish my task by the given time. Our pace was necessarily slow, and our halts frequent, for the little party had to be carefully kept together.

At last the Jalalabad fort was reached and passed. I then told Hugh Gough, whose squadron was in front, that we had better halt, for we could not be far from the Alambagh, and I was afraid that if we approached in a body we should be fired upon, in which case the camel-drivers would assuredly run away, there would be a stampede amongst the camels, and we might find it difficult to make ourselves known. I decided it would be best for me to go on alone, and arranged with Gough that he should remain where he was until I returned.

The Alambagh proved to be farther off than I calculated, and I was beginning to fear I had lost my way, when all at once a great wall loomed in front of me, and I could just make out the figure of the sentry pacing up and down. I hailed him, and ordered him to ask the sergeant of the guard to summon the officer on duty. When the latter appeared, I explained to him my object in coming, and begged him to have the ammunition boxes ready for lading by the time I returned with the camels. I then rode back to where I had left Gough, and the whole procession proceeded to the Alambagh.

Already half the night was gone; but beyond the time required for loading the camels there was no delay; the utmost assistance was afforded us, and ere long we started on our return journey.

Day had dawned before we came in sight of the Dilkusha, and by the time I had made the ammunition over to the Ordnance officer it was broad daylight. As I rode up to the Martinière I could see old Sir Colin, only partially dressed, standing on the steps in evident anxiety at my non-arrival.

He was delighted when at last I appeared, expressed himself very pleased to see me, and, having made many kind and complimentary[Page 178] remarks as to the success of the little expedition, he told me to go off and get something to eat as quickly as possible, for we were to start directly the men had breakfasted. That was a very happy moment for me, feeling that I had earned my Chief's approbation and justified his selection of me. I went off to the Artillery camp, and refreshed the inner man with a steak cut off a gun bullock which had been killed by a round shot on the 14th.

The Advance on Lucknow At 8 a.m. the troops moved off. I was ordered to go with the advance guard.10 Hope's and Russell's brigades came next, with Travers's Heavy battery, Peel's Naval Brigade, and Middleton's Field battery.

Greathed's brigade (except the 8th Foot left at the Dilkusha), with Bourchier's battery, remained to guard our left flank until mid-day, when it was ordered to follow the column and form its rear guard.

The offer of a Native who volunteered to guide us was accepted, and Sir Colin, who rode just behind the advance guard, had Kavanagh with him, whose local knowledge proved very valuable.

The enemy had been so completely taken in by the previous day's reconnaissance that they had not the slightest suspicion we should advance from our right, the result being that we were allowed to cross the canal without opposition.11 We kept close along the river bank, our left being partially concealed by the high grass. About a mile beyond the canal we turned sharp to the left, and passed through the narrow street of a small village, coming immediately under fire from some houses on our right, and from the top of a high wall above and beyond them, which turned out to be the north-east corner of the Sikandarbagh.

The greatest confusion ensued, and for a time there was a complete block. The Cavalry in advance were checked by a fierce fire poured directly on them from the front: they were powerless, and the only thing for them to do was to force their way back, down the confined lane we had just passed up, which by this time was crammed with[Page 179] Infantry and Artillery, making 'confusion worse confounded.' As soon as the Cavalry had cleared out, the 53rd lined the bank which ran along the side of the lane nearest the Sikandarbagh, and by their fire caused all those of the rebels who had collected outside the walls to retire within the enclosure. This opened a road for Blunt, who, leading his guns up the bank with a splendid courage, unlimbered and opened fire within sixty yards of the building.

Blunt found himself under a heavy fire from three different directions—on the right from the Sikandarbagh; on the left and left front from the barracks, some huts (not twenty yards off), and a serai; and in front from the mess-house, Kaisarbagh, and other buildings. In these three directions he pointed his guns, regardless of deadly fire, especially from the huts on the left.

It would, however, have been impossible for the advance guard to have held its ground much longer, so it was with a feeling of the utmost relief that I beheld Hope's brigade coming up the lane to our assistance. A company of the 53rd, in the most brilliant manner, forced the enemy from the position they held on our left front, and the Highlanders, without a moment's hesitation, climbed on to the huts—the point, as I have already said, from which the heaviest fire proceeded; they tore off the roofs, and, leaping into the houses, drove the enemy before them right through the serai and up to the barracks, which they seized, and for the remainder of the operations these barracks were held by the 93rd.

This action on the part of the Highlanders was as serviceable as it was heroic, for it silenced the fire most destructive to the attacking force; but for all that, our position was extremely critical, and Sir Colin, perceiving the danger, at once decided that no further move could be attempted until we had gained possession of the Sikandarbagh. It was, indeed, a formidable-looking place to attack, about 130 yards square, surrounded by a thick brick wall twenty feet high, carefully loopholed, and flanked at the corners by circular bastions. There was only one entrance, a gateway on the south side, protected by a traverse of earth and masonry, over which was a double-storied guard-room. Close to the north side of the enclosure was a pavilion with a flat roof prepared for musketry, and from the whole place an incessant fire was being kept up.

Sir Colin Wounded Sir Colin, in order to get a better view of the position, and thus be able to decide in what direction the attack could most advantageously be made, rode up the bank and placed himself close to one of Blunt's guns. Mansfield and Hope Grant were on either side, and Augustus Anson and I were directly behind, when I heard the Commander-in-Chief exclaim, 'I am hit.' Luckily it was only by a spent bullet, which had passed through a gunner (killing him on the spot) before it struck Sir Colin on the thigh, causing a severe contusion, but nothing[Page 180] more. It was a moment of acute anxiety until it was ascertained that no great damage had been done.

The Attack on the Sikandarbagh By this time one of Travers's guns and a howitzer, which with considerable difficulty had been dragged up the bank, opened fire on the point selected by Sir Colin for the breach—the south-east corner of the wall surrounding the Sikandarbagh.12 Instantly Hardy (Captain of the battery) was killed and the senior Subaltern wounded: Blunt's charger was shot, and of the few men under his command 14 Europeans and 6 Gun Lascars were killed or wounded; 20 of the troop-horses were also knocked over.13

While the heavy guns were at work on the breach, Adrian Hope, with the 53rd, cleared off a body of the enemy who had collected on our left front, and connected the barracks with the main attack by a line of skirmishers.

In less than half an hour an opening three feet square and three feet from the ground had been made in the wall. It would have been better had it been larger, but time was precious; Sir Colin would not wait, and ordered the assault to begin. The Infantry had been lying down, under such slight cover as was available, impatiently awaiting for this order. The moment it reached them, up they sprang with one accord, and with one voice uttered a shout which must have foreshadowed defeat to the defenders of the Sikandarbagh. The 93rd under Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart, and the 4th Punjab Infantry under Lieutenant Paul, led the way, closely followed by the 53rd under Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon14 of the 93rd Highlanders, and one of the battalions of Detachments under Major Roger Barnston.

Heroic Deeds It was a magnificent sight, a sight never to be forgotten—that glorious[Page 181] struggle to be the first to enter the deadly breach, the prize to the winner of the race being certain death! Highlanders and Sikhs, Punjabi Mahomedans, Dogras15 and Pathans, all vied with each other in the generous competition.16

A Highlander was the first to reach the goal, and was shot dead as he jumped into the enclosure; a man of the 4th Punjab Infantry came next, and met the same fate. Then followed Captain Burroughs and Lieutenant Cooper, of the 93rd, and immediately behind them their Colonel (Ewart), Captain Lumsden, of the 30th Bengal Infantry,17 and a number of Sikhs and Highlanders as fast as they could scramble through the opening. A drummer-boy of the 93rd must have been one of the first to pass that grim boundary between life and death, for when I got in I found him just inside the breach, lying on his back quite dead—a pretty, innocent-looking, fair-haired lad, not more than fourteen years of age.

The crush now became so great in the men's eagerness to get through the opening and join the conflict within, that a regular block was the consequence, which every minute became more hopeless. One party made for the gateway and another for a barred window18 close by, determined to force an entrance by them. The traverse having been rushed by the 4th Punjab Infantry gallantly led by a Dogra Subadar,19 a Punjabi Mahomedan of this distinguished corps behaved with the most conspicuous bravery. The enemy, having been driven out of the earthwork, made for the gateway, the heavy doors of which were in the act of being closed, when the Mahomedan (Mukarrab Khan by name) pushed his left arm, on which he carried a shield, between them, thus preventing their being shut; on his hand being badly wounded by a sword-cut, he drew it out, instantly thrusting in the other arm, when the right hand was all but severed from the wrist.20 But he gained his object—the doors could not be closed, and were soon forced open[Page 182] altogether, upon which the 4th Punjab Infantry, the 53rd, 93rd, and some of the Detachments, swarmed in.

This devoted action of Mukarrab Khan I myself witnessed, for, with Augustus Anson, I got in immediately behind the storming party. As we reached the gateway, Anson was knocked off his horse by a bullet, which grazed the base of the skull just behind the right ear, and stunned him for a moment—the next, he was up and mounted again, but was hardly in the saddle when his horse was shot dead.

The scene that ensued requires the pen of a Zola to depict. The rebels, never dreaming that we should stop to attack such a formidable position, had collected in the Sikandarbagh to the number of upwards of 2,000, with the intention of falling upon our right flank so soon as we should become entangled amongst the streets and houses of the Hazratganj.21 They were now completely caught in a trap, the only outlets being by the gateway and the breach, through which our troops continued to pour. There could therefore be no thought of escape, and they fought with the desperation of men without hope of mercy, and determined to sell their lives as dearly as they could. Inch by inch they were forced back to the pavilion, and into the space between it and the north wall, where they were all shot or bayoneted. There they lay in a heap as high as my head, a heaving, surging mass of dead and dying inextricably entangled. It was a sickening sight, one of those which even in the excitement of battle and the flush of victory make one feel strongly what a horrible side there is to war. The wretched wounded men could not get clear of their dead comrades, however great their struggles, and those near the top of this ghastly pile of writhing humanity vented their rage and disappointment on every British officer who approached by showering upon him abuse of the grossest description.

The firing and fighting did not cease altogether for some time after the main body of the rebels were destroyed. A few got up into the guard-room above the gateway, and tried to barricade themselves in; others sought shelter in the bastions, but none escaped the vengeance of the soldiers. There were some deadly combats between the mutinous sepoys and the Sikhs. Eventually all the rebels were killed, save three or four who dropped over the wall on the city side. It is to be hoped they lived to tell the tale of the dauntless courage which carried everything before it.

Considering the tremendous odds which those who first entered through the breach were exposed to, and the desperate nature of the fighting, our losses were astonishingly small. The 93rd had 2 officers[Page 183] and 23 men (including the Sergeant-Major) killed, and 7 officers and 61 men wounded.

The 4th Punjab Infantry The 4th Punjab Infantry went into action with four British officers, of whom two were killed and one was severely wounded. Sixty-nine of the Native officers and men were also killed or wounded.22



The operation which I have tried to describe in the last chapter was not completed until well on in the afternoon, when the movement towards the Residency was at once proceeded with. To the left as we advanced the ground was fairly open (with the exception of quite a small village) for about 1,100 yards in the direction of the British Infantry mess-house. To the right also, for about 300 yards, there was a clear space, then a belt of jungle intersected by huts and small gardens extending for about 400 yards farther, as far as the Shah Najaf,1 a handsome white-domed tomb, surrounded by a court-yard, and enclosed by high masonry loopholed walls; and beyond the Shah Najaf rose the Kadam Rasul,2 another tomb standing on a slight eminence.

But little opposition was experienced from the village, which was carried by the Infantry, while the Artillery were brought up to open fire on the Shah Najaf and Kadam Rasul. The latter was soon occupied by the 2nd Punjab Infantry, belonging to Greathed's brigade, which had by this time joined the main body; but the Shah Najaf proved a harder nut to crack. This building was almost concealed by dense jungle, and its great strength therefore remained unsuspected until we[Page 184] got quite close up to it.

Henry Norman Barnston's battalion of Detachments advanced in skirmishing order, under cover of our guns. One of the shells most unfortunately burst prematurely, wounding Major Barnston so severely that he died soon afterwards. Whether it was that the men were depressed by the loss of their leader, or that they were not prepared for the very damaging fire which suddenly poured upon them, I know not, but certain it is that they wavered, and for a few minutes there was a slight panic. The Commander-in-Chief, with Hope Grant, Mansfield, Adrian Hope, and their respective staffs, were sitting on their horses anxiously awaiting the result of the attack, when all at once it became apparent that there was a retrograde movement on the part of some of the men, who were emerging from the belt of jungle and hastening towards us. Norman was the first to grasp the situation. Putting spurs to his horse, he galloped into their midst, and called on them to pull themselves together; the men rallied at once, and advanced into the cover from which they had for the moment retreated. I had many opportunities for noting Norman's coolness and presence of mind under fire. On this particular occasion these qualities were most marked, and his action was most timely.

More Infantry were brought up, but without avail. The enemy evidently were determined to prevent the capture of the Shah Najaf. Fire was now opened upon us from a heavy gun on the other side of the Gumti (the first shot from which blew up one of the ammunition waggons belonging to the Naval Brigade), and all the cannon that were collected at the Kaisarbagh and mess-house were brought to bear upon us. The musketry fire was incessant, and Peel's men suffered so severely that one of his guns could not be worked.

Sir Colin was beginning to get extremely anxious, and no wonder—the position was most uncomfortable, and the prospect very gloomy. Three hours since the attack began! The day was rapidly drawing to a close, and we were no nearer our object; on the contrary, the opposition became every moment stronger, and the fire more deadly. A retreat was not to be thought of; indeed, our remaining so long stationary had been an encouragement to the enemy, and every one felt that the only chance for the little British army fighting against 30,000 desperate mutineers, with every advantage of position and intimate knowledge of locality in their favour, was to continue to advance at all hazards; and this our gallant old Chief decided to do. Placing himself at the head of the 93rd, he explained to the only too eager Highlanders the dangerous nature of the service, and called on them to follow him. There was no mistaking the response; cheer after cheer rent the air as they listened to the words of the Chief they knew so well, and believed in so thoroughly, assuring him of their readiness to follow whithersoever he should lead, do whatever he[Page 185] should direct. They moved off, followed by Peel's guns dragged by sailors and some of the Madras Fusiliers, the advance of the party being covered by Middleton's Field battery, which dashed to the front and opened with grape.

The Shah Najaf Almost instantaneously the narrow path along which we were proceeding was choked with wounded officers and dead and struggling horses. It was here that Sir Archibald Alison, Sir Colin's Aide-de-camp, lost his arm, and his brother (another Aide-de-camp) was wounded. Adrian Hope's horse was shot dead—indeed, very few escaped injury, either to themselves or their horses. I was one of the lucky few. On reaching the wall of the Shah Najaf enclosure, it was found to be twenty feet high, no entrance could be seen, and there were no scaling-ladders available, so there was nothing for it but to endeavour to breach the massive wall.3 The 24-pounders hammered away at it for some time, but proved quite unequal to the task; though only a few yards off, they made no impression whatever, and it seemed as if the attempt to take the position must be abandoned. Peel was, therefore, ordered to withdraw his guns under cover of some rockets, which were discharged into the enclosure, and Hope was directed to retire as soon as he could collect the killed and wounded.

Captain Allgood, Sir Colin's trusted Assistant Quartermaster-General, was the bearer of the order. He and Hope, after consulting together, determined that before the latter obeyed they would try to discover if there did not exist an opening in some other part of the walls. Assisted by a sergeant of the 93rd, they set about their search, and actually did find a narrow gap, through which they could see that the enemy, terrified and thrown into confusion by the exploding rockets falling amongst them, were fast abandoning the building. The two friends helped each other through the gap, and, followed by some Highlanders, they proceeded across the now deserted enclosure to secure the only gateway, which was on the opposite side to that which we had attacked; and Allgood had the great pleasure of announcing to the Commander-in-Chief that there was no need to retire, for the formidable position was in our possession.

It was getting dark when at length we occupied the Shah Najaf; some of us got on to the top of the building to take a look round. There was just light enough to show us a sepoy sauntering unconcernedly up to the gate, evidently in happy ignorance of what had happened. He soon discovered that his comrades were no longer masters of the situation, and, letting his musket fall, he made all haste to the river, into which he dropped, and swam to the other[Page 186] side.

Sir Colin and my General took up their quarters in the Shah Najaf, but only nominally, for after a scratch dinner we all joined the troops, who bivouacked where they stood.

The force was disposed in a semicircle, extending from the Shah Najaf to the barracks. The wounded were placed in the huts near the Sikandarbagh, where they passed a most comfortless night, for when the sun set it rapidly got cold, and the hospital arrangements were necessarily on a very limited scale.

By this tune I was dead beat, having been for sixty hours continually in the saddle, except when I lay down for a short nap on the night of the 14th.

We were not allowed, however, to have a very long night's rest. Hours before dawn on the 17th we were roused by the beating of drums and ringing of bells (an impotent attempt on the part of the rebel leaders to excite the enthusiasm of their followers), which caused the troops to prepare for an attack and stand to their arms. But the enemy were not in a mood to encounter us in the open, small as our numbers were; they had suffered heavily the day before, and they must have begun to realize that their strongest positions were inadequate against British pluck and determination.

The mess-house was the next point to be carried, but the Commander-in-Chief thought it would be prudent to make our left quite secure in the first instance. The duty of occupying the houses and gardens situated between the barracks and Banks's house was entrusted to Brigadier Russell. Four bungalows,4 in which the officers of the 32nd Foot had lived, were first seized. Russell then pushed on towards Banks's house, which it was necessary to occupy, as it commanded the crossing over the canal, by which we communicated with the Dilkusha, and by which it was thought that the people rescued from the Residency would have to be brought away. Russell, avoiding the main road, advanced under cover of his Artillery, and forced the rebels to vacate this important position, and Banks's house was held during the remainder of the operations by 50 men of the 2nd Punjab Infantry, under Lieutenant F. Keen.5

In the meantime a heavy fire from Peel's guns had been opened on the mess-house—a double-storied building, situated on slightly rising ground, surrounded by a ditch 12 feet broad, and beyond that at some little distance by a loop-holed wall.

Our losses on the previous day had been very severe, and Sir Colin, anxious to spare his men as much as possible, decided to batter the[Page 187] place freely with Artillery before permitting it to be attacked. Peel's guns and Longden's mortars were therefore brought to bear upon it, and kept up a continual fire until 3 p.m., when the enemy seemed to think they had had enough, their musketry fire slackened off, and the Commander-in-Chief, considering the assault might safely be made, gave the order to advance. The attacking party was commanded by Brevet-Major Wolseley,6 of the 90th Light Infantry, and consisted of a company of his own regiment, a piquet of the 53rd Foot under Captain Hopkins, and a few men of the 2nd Punjab Infantry under Captain Powlett, supported by Barnston's Detachments, under Captain Guise, of the 90th.

The building and its many outhouses were carried with a rush, and the enemy, who hastily retreated to the Moti Mahal,7 were followed across the road, where our troops were stopped by the high wall which enclosed that building. Wolseley then sent for some Sappers, who quickly opened out a space through which they all passed. The Moti Mahal was hotly defended, but without avail, and ere the sun set the last position which separated the relieved from the relieving forces was in our possession.

Planting the Flag As the party moved off to attack the mess-house, Sir Colin, who, on his white horse, was interestedly watching the proceedings, ordered me to procure a regimental colour and place it on one of the turrets of the building, that Outram might be able to judge how far we had advanced. I rode off accordingly to the 2nd Punjab Infantry, standing close by, and requested the Commandant, Captain Green, to let me have one of his colours. He at once complied, and I galloped with it to the mess-house. As I entered, I was met by Sir David Baird (one of Sir Colin's Aides-de-camp), and Captain Hopkins, of the 53rd Foot, by both of whom I was assisted in getting the flag with its long staff up the inconveniently narrow staircase, and in planting it on the turret nearest the Kaisarbagh, which was about 850 yards off. No sooner did the enemy perceive what we were about, than shot after shot was aimed at the colour, and in a very few minutes it was knocked over, falling into the ditch below. I ran down, picked it up, and again placed it in position, only for it to be once more shot down and hurled into the ditch, just as Norman and Lennox (who had been sent by Sir Colin to report what was going on in the interior of the Kaisarbagh) appeared on the roof. Once more I picked up the colour, and found that this time the staff had been broken in two. Notwithstanding, I managed to prop it up a third time on the turret, and it was not again hit, though the enemy continued to fire at it for some time.

Outram, unwilling to risk unnecessary loss of men, did not greatly[Page 188] extend his position until he was sure we were close at hand, but he was not idle. While Sir Colin was slowly working his way towards him on the 16th, he had gradually occupied such buildings as lay in the direction of our advance. From the mess-house we could see the British flag flying on the top of the engine-house, only a short distance beyond the Moti Mahal, which satisfactory piece of intelligence Norman went down to report to Sir Colin, who, with his Chief of the Staff, had just arrived. I followed Norman, and we two made our way to the western wall of the Pearl Palace enclosure, outside which Outram and Havelock were standing together. They had run the gauntlet of the enemy's fire in coming from the engine house; Colonel Robert Napier and two other officers who accompanied them, having been wounded, had to be carried back. Some of Lennox's Sappers set to work, and soon made a hole in the wall8 large enough for these two distinguished men to pass through.

A Memorable Meeting I had never before met either of them. In Afghanistan Outram had been a friend of my father, who had often spoken to me about him in terms of the warmest admiration, and his courage and chivalry were known and appreciated throughout India. It was therefore with feelings of the most lively interest that I beheld this man, whose character I so greatly admired. He was then fifty-four years of age, strong and broad-shouldered, in no way broken down by the heavy load of responsibility and anxiety he had had to bear, or the hardships he had gone through. Havelock, the hero of a hundred fights, on the contrary, looked ill, worn and depressed, but brightened up a little when Norman told him he had been made a K.C.B.

Sir Colin waited to receive these two heroes on the ground sloping down from the mess-house, and it was there that the meeting between the three veterans took place. A most impressive and memorable scene was that meeting, which has been well depicted in the historical picture by Barker.

As if to show the rage and disappointment of the enemy at this evidence of the success of our operations, every gun in the Kaisarbagh was turned upon us, and it was under a shower of shot and shell that the interview was held; it did not last long, for it was neither the time nor the place to discuss plans for the future. All Sir Colin could then say was that the troops should be removed outside Lucknow as soon as the women and children had been brought away, and he expressed his 'thankfulness that the relief of the garrison had been accomplished.'

[plate 11]



a painting by Thomas Brigstocke, R.A.

The Residency Norman and I obtained permission to accompany Outram and Havelock back to the Residency. It was intensely but painfully interesting to visit this scene of so many acts of heroism, and of so much suffering endured with unexampled fortitude. We first went to the posts[Page 189] occupied by Havelock's force in the Chatta Manzil, and in other buildings which have long since disappeared. At one of these we stopped to watch the Artillery trying to silence the enemy's guns on the opposite side of the river. We talked to the men, who were keen to hear news from the outer world and the story of our advance. It was some little time before we discovered in one of them the Commander of the battery, Captain William Olpherts,9 for in his soiled and torn summer clothing, his face thin, worn, and begrimed with smoke, it was difficult to distinguish the officer from his men, and it was under these levelling circumstances that I had the honour of making the acquaintance of my distinguished brother officer, whose audacious courage on the occasion of Havelock's advance over the Charbagh bridge had won the admiration of everyone in the force, and gained for him the Victoria Cross.

We next came to the Bailey-guard; and as we looked at the battered walls and gateway, not an inch without a mark from a round shot or bullet, we marvelled that Aitken and Loughman could have managed to defend it for nearly five months. There was plenty of evidence on all the surrounding buildings of the dangerous nature of the service which they and their gallant Native comrades had so admirably performed. Although we were pressed for time, we could not resist stopping to speak to some of the Native officers and sepoys, whose magnificent loyalty throughout the siege was one of the most gratifying features of the Mutiny.

At length we came to the Residency itself, where we met a few old friends and acquaintances, who welcomed us with the most touching enthusiasm. Mrs. (afterwards Lady) Inglis and the Rev. J.P. Harris and his wife I had known at Peshawar; there were also Mrs. Fletcher Hayes, the widow of the poor fellow whose murder by the men of his own escort near Mainpuri I have related, and Mrs. Case, the widow of the brave Major of the 32nd, who lost his life at the affair of Chinhut. Mrs. Inglis showed us the tiny room which she and her children had shared with Mrs. Case all through the siege; but it was difficult to get any of them to speak of their miserable experiences, which were too sad and terrible, and too recent to be talked about, and they naturally preferred to dwell on their thankfulness for the relief that had come at last, and to listen to our account of what had happened in other places.

It was too late then to go round the position; that had to be left for another day; indeed, it was quite dark when we returned to Head-Quarters, established by our Chief in the open, his soldierly instincts prompting him to remain with his troops.

[Page 190]



The night of the 17th passed off quietly. Before daybreak the next morning the troops were under arms. Thousands of the enemy had collected in the Kaisarbagh, and for the protection of the mess-house, the Tara Koti, about 200 yards to the south-west, was seized and held, as from this position a flanking fire could be brought to bear upon any enemy advancing from the Kaisarbagh.

The most difficult part of Sir Colin's task had yet to be accomplished—the bringing away of the women and children, and the sick and wounded, from the Residency—and the question of how this could best be done was one which caused the Commander-in-Chief much anxious thought. Many, amongst whom were Outram and Hope Grant, pressed him to attack the Kaisarbagh and capture the city in the first instance; but 45 officers and 496 men out of our small force had been killed or wounded; Sir Colin, therefore, decided that it would be to the last degree imprudent to attempt such an undertaking with his reduced numbers, and became more than ever determined to confine his operations to the relief of the garrison.

That the Chief was right there can be no room for doubt. This force was barely strong enough for the service it had to perform. Every man was on duty day and night; there was no reserve to fall back upon; and had he listened to these proposals, and allowed himself to be drawn into complications in the city, it is more than probable that those he had come to succour would have been sacrificed. The wisdom of his decision was fully proved by subsequent events, and unreservedly acknowledged by Hope Grant and others who at the time differed from him in their ideas of the course which should be adopted.

From the Dilkusha to the Residency was not less than five miles; every yard of the way had to be guarded, and the garrison at the former place was so attenuated that it had to be reinforced by the withdrawal of part of the 75th Foot from the Alambagh. Fortunately this could be done without dangerously weakening that post, as it had been lately strengthened by the arrival of a small body of troops from Cawnpore.

It had now to be settled whether the evacuation should be effected by the route we had ourselves followed, which was circuitous and in places difficult for the wheeled vehicles necessary for the conveyance of the sick and wounded, and the women and children; or by the way past the barracks and Banks's house, which was shorter and had the advantage of a metalled road throughout. But unless Russell, whose brigade was in position at the barracks, could make the latter line secure, it would be too hazardous to adopt, and up to the present the reports from Russell had not been very promising. He had been hardly pressed on the 17th, and had sent word that he could make no[Page 191] impression on the enemy without heavy guns. Colonel Biddulph, the Deputy-Quartermaster-General, was therefore ordered to proceed to the barracks to ascertain how guns could best be sent to Russell's assistance, and report to the Commander-in-Chief on the whole situation. I was told to go with him and bring back the required information.

We found Russell in a very uncomfortable position, exposed to a hot fire and closely surrounded by the enemy, who were holding the British Infantry hospital and other buildings within a few yards of him.

I remained with Russell while Biddulph reconnoitred the ground between the barracks, the canal, and the Sikandarbagh. It was found covered with villages and walled enclosures, but he discovered a path secure from the enemy's fire, along which he was able to bring to Russell's assistance a 9-pounder gun, a 24-pounder howitzer, and four 5½ inch mortars. As the 9-pounder was fired, a round shot from one of the enemy's 18-pounders struck the mud wall immediately in front of it, scattering great clods of earth, which knocked over Bourchier and another officer; the round shot then hit Brigadier Russell, just grazing the back of his neck, actually cutting his watch-chain in two, and causing partial paralysis of the lower limbs for some days.

Russell being for the time hors de combat, Biddulph assumed command, and ordered me to return to Head-Quarters, report what had happened, and inform Sir Colin that he intended to attack the hospital and endeavour to drive the enemy out of his immediate neighbourhood.

I never saw Biddulph again. I had scarcely delivered my message to the Chief when heavy firing was heard from the direction of the barracks, and shortly afterwards a determined attack was made by the rebels on the piquets placed between the Sikandarbagh and the barracks, which was repulsed by Remmington's troop of Horse Artillery, with two companies of Infantry belonging to the 23rd and 53rd Foot, brought up by the Commander-in-Chief himself, who expressed to Remmington his warm approval of the brilliant manner in which his troop had come into action.

Sir Colin's Wise Decision Sir Colin now received information that Biddulph was killed, and that Hale, who succeeded to the command of the brigade, had attacked and taken the hospital, but had been forced to abandon it, as the thatched roof had been set on fire by the shells showered upon it by the enemy, who were keeping our troops constantly on the alert. This decided Sir Colin to give up the idea of withdrawing the relieved garrison by Banks's house.

Early on the following morning, the 19th, I was sent by the Commander-in-Chief to the Residency with a note for Sir James Outram, containing the information that arrangements for the withdrawal were now complete, and that conveyances for the women, children, sick, and wounded would be sent as soon as they arrived[Page 192] from the Dilkusha.

Robert Napier When he had read the note Sir James questioned me as to the road, and asked me particularly if I had noticed the openings made in the walls of houses and enclosures, and whether I thought they were large enough for the guns, carts, and carriages to get through. I replied that I had not observed them very particularly, but I was inclined to think some of them were certainly rather small. My answer, to my astonishment, roused the ire of a wounded officer lying on a couch at the end of the room, for he wrathfully asked me whether I had measured the openings, and on my saying I had not, he added: 'You had better wait to give your opinion until you know what you are talking about; those openings were made by my orders, and I am quite sure they are the necessary size.' The officer was no other than Colonel Robert Napier, who, as I have already stated, was badly wounded on the 17th. I felt myself considerably snubbed, but Sir James kindly came to the rescue, and explained that I had merely answered his question and had not offered any opinion of my own: Colonel Napier, however, was not to be appeased, and I could plainly see that I had incurred his displeasure, and that he thought me a very bumptious youngster. I do not know whether the Chief of the Staff1 ever heard of it, but it was some satisfaction to me to find afterwards that I was right in my estimation of the size of those apertures, some of which had to be enlarged before the guns and carriages could pass through.

By sunset that day the women and children had been brought away and collected in the Sikandarbagh. Not a very agreeable resting-place, for though the 2,000 dead mutineers had been got out of sight, they were merely slightly covered over in a ditch which they themselves had recently dug outside the north wall to strengthen the defences. The survivors of the siege, however, had become too inured to horrors of all kinds, and were too thankful for their deliverance from the fate which for months had constantly threatened them, to be over-sensitive.

It was a sad little assemblage; all were more or less broken down and out of health, while many were widows or orphans, having left their nearest and dearest in the Residency burial-ground. Officers and men accorded them a respectful welcome, and by their efforts to help them showed how deeply they felt for their forlorn condition, while our old Chief had a comfortable tea prepared for them. When night set in, the road having been carefully reconnoitred beforehand, the melancholy convoy with its guard of soldiers started for the Dilkusha, where it arrived in safety, and was warmly received by the officers of the 9th Lancers and the rest of the garrison, who did all that circumstances[Page 193] would allow to make the ladies and children comfortable.

During the 20th, 21st, and 22nd, everything that was worth removing and for which carriage could be provided was brought away. Such a miscellaneous collection it was—jewels and other valuables belonging to the ex-royal family, twenty-five lakhs of treasure, stores of all kinds, including grain, and as many of the 200 guns discovered in the palace as were considered likely to be of use.

Impressions on Visiting the Residency The troops were not moved away from the Residency till midnight on the 22nd, and I had several opportunities before then of going over the position, to every point of which some thrilling story was attached, and of renewing acquaintance with many of the garrison whom I had known before. Amongst them was Sam Lawrence, of the 32nd Foot, a friend of Peshawar days, who, for his gallant defence of the Redan, was awarded the Victoria Cross. I was shown Innes's advanced post, named after McLeod Innes,2 a talented Engineer officer, who also subsequently gained that coveted reward; the Cawnpore battery, where so many valuable lives had been sacrificed, and the room where Sir Henry Lawrence received his mortal wound; then I climbed up to the tower, from which a good view of the city and the posts held by the enemy could be obtained.

The more I saw, the more I wondered at what had been achieved by such a mere handful of men against such vast numbers. It was specially pleasant to me to listen to the praises bestowed on the officers of my own regiment, of whom nine were present when the siege commenced, and only one escaped to the end unwounded, while five were killed or died of their injuries. Of the other three, one was wounded three different times, and both the others once.

All were loud, too, in their praises of the Engineer officers. During the latter part of the siege the rebels, finding they could not carry the position by assault, tried hard to undermine the defences; but our Engineers were ever on the watch, and countermined so successfully that they were able to frustrate the enemy's designs on almost every occasion.

The wonderful manner in which the Hindustani soldiers held their ground, notwithstanding that they were incessantly taunted by their mutinous comrades for aiding the Feringhis against their own people, was also much dilated upon.

The casualties during the siege were extremely heavy. When it commenced on the 1st of July, the strength of the garrison was 927 Europeans and 765 Natives. Of the former, 163 were civilians—brave and useful, but untrained to arms; of the latter, 118 were pensioners, many of whom were old and decrepit. Up to the arrival of Outram and Havelock (a period of eighty-seven days), 350 Europeans[Page 194] and 133 natives were either killed or died of wounds and disease. Of the noble and unselfish conduct of the ladies and soldiers' wives, everyone spoke in the highest terms and with the warmest appreciation. They suffered, without a murmur, the most terrible hardships; they devoted themselves to the sick and wounded in the hospital, and were ever ready to help in any way that was useful. Two ladies were killed, and nine died, during the siege.

The contemplation of the defence of Lucknow, and the realization of the noble qualities it called forth in the defenders, cannot but excite in the breast of every British man and woman, as it did in mine, feelings of pride and admiration. But what impressed me more than even the glorious defence was the foresight and ability of the man who made that defence possible.

Henry Lawrence Henry Lawrence was, apparently, the only European in India who, from the very first, formed an accurate estimate of the extent of the danger which threatened our rule in the early part of 1857, and who, notwithstanding his thorough appreciation of the many good qualities of Native soldiers, was not misled into a mistaken belief in the absolute loyalty of the Native army. Fourteen years before Lawrence had predicted the Mutiny3 and the course it would take, and when events shaped themselves as he had foreseen, he gave it as his opinion that the disaffection would be general and widespread. But while his intimate knowledge of Native character led him to this conviction, so great was his influence with Natives—perhaps by reason of that knowledge—that he was able to delay the actual outbreak at Lucknow until his measures for the defence of the Residency were completed, and he persuaded a considerable number of sepoys, not only to continue in their allegiance, but to share with their European comrades the dangers and privations of the siege—a priceless service, for without their aid the defence could not have been made.

[plate 12]



a photograph taken at Lucknow.

Lawrence as Statesman and Ruler In no part of India was there greater need for the services of a[Page 195] strong, enlightened, and sympathetic Ruler and Statesman. Difficult as were the positions in which many men in authority were placed in 1857, none was more difficult than that in which Henry Lawrence found himself when he took over the Chief Commissionership of Oudh in the spring of that year. His colleagues in the administration were at feud with each other, and by their ignorance of the proper methods of dealing with the people they had succeeded in alienating all classes.

While Lawrence was engaged in pouring oil on these troubled waters, and in earning the gratitude of the people by modifying the previous year's undue assessment, signs appeared of the disaffection, which had begun amongst the troops at Barrackpore, having spread to the cantonments in Oudh. Sir Henry met this new trouble in the same intelligent and conciliatory spirit as that in which he had dealt with his civil difficulties. He summoned to a durbar some Native officers who had displayed a very proper feeling of loyalty by arresting several fanatics who had tried to tamper with the soldiery, and he liberally rewarded them, pointing out at the same time in forcible language the disgrace to a soldier of being faithless to his salt. But while doing everything in his power to keep the Natives loyal, and with a certain amount of success, he did not neglect to take every possible precaution.

When first he heard of the outbreak at Meerut, he telegraphed to the Governor-General advising him to send for British troops to China and Ceylon, and to call on the Nepalese to assist; at the same time he applied to Lord Canning for, and obtained, the rank of Brigadier-General, which gave him military as well as civil control—a very necessary measure, for none of the senior military officers in Oudh were men to be relied upon; indeed, as in so many other places, they had to be effaced when the troubles began.

Very early in the day Henry Lawrence commenced his preparations for the defence of the Residency; he cleared the ground of all cover in its immediate vicinity, as far as it was possible to do so; he fortified it, mounted guns, stored ammunition, powder, and firewood; arranged for a proper supply of water; collected food, which proved sufficient, not only for the original number of refugees, but for the 3,000 additional mouths belonging to Outram and Havelock's force; in fact, he did everything which forethought and ingenuity could suggest to enable the garrison to hold out in what he foresaw would be a long and deadly struggle against fearful odds. There was no fort, as there was at Agra, capable of sheltering every European in Oudh, and strong enough to defy any number of mutineers, nor was there, as at Cawnpore, a well-stocked and strongly-fortified magazine to depend upon. But Henry Lawrence was not cast down by the difficulties which surrounded him; he was fully alive to the danger, but he recognized that his best, indeed, his only, chance of delaying the inevitable rebellion until (as he hoped) assistance might arrive, was to show a[Page 196] bold front.

On the 27th May Lawrence wrote to Lord Canning as follows: 'Hitherto the country has been kept quiet, and we have played the Irregulars against the line regiments; but being constituted of exactly the same material, the taint is fast pervading them, and in a few weeks, if not days—unless Delhi be in the interim captured—there will be but one feeling throughout the army, a feeling that our prestige is gone, and that feeling will be more dangerous than any other. Religion, fear, hatred, one and all have their influence; but there is still a reverence for the Company's ikbâl4—when it is gone we shall have few friends indeed. The tone and talk of many have greatly altered during the last few days, and we are now asked, almost in terms of insolence, whether Delhi is captured, or when it will be. It was only just after the Kabul massacre, and when we hesitated to advance through the Khyber, that, in my memory, such a tone ever before prevailed.5

Feeling all this so strongly, it is the more remarkable that Henry Lawrence never lost heart, but struggled bravely on 'to preserve the soldiery to their duty and the people to their allegiance,' while at the same time he was, as I have shown, making every conceivable preparation to meet the outbreak whenever it should come.

Lawrence's Friendliness for Natives There is no doubt that Henry Lawrence was a very remarkable man; his friendly feeling for Natives, and his extraordinary insight into their character, together with his military training and his varied political experience, peculiarly fitted him to be at the head of a Government at such a crisis.6

All this, however, is a digression from my narrative, to which I must now return.

While the withdrawal was being effected, Peel's guns distracted the enemy's attention from the proceedings by keeping up a perpetual and destructive fire on the Kaisarbagh, thus leading the rebels to believe that our whole efforts were directed to taking that place. By the evening of the 22nd three large breaches had been made, and the enemy naturally expected an assault to take place the next morning. But the object of that heavy fire had already been accomplished; the women[Page 197] and children, the sick and wounded, were all safe in the Dilkusha; no one was left in the Residency but the garrison, on duty for the last time at the posts they had so long and so bravely defended, and they were to leave at midnight.

Evacuation of the Residency As the clock struck twelve, in the deepest silence and with the utmost caution, the gallant little band evacuated the place, and passed down the long line of posts, first those held by Outram's and Havelock's men, and then those occupied by the relieving force, until they reached the Martinière Park. As they moved on, Outram's and Havelock's troops fell in behind, and were followed by the relieving force, which brought up the rear. The scheme for this very delicate movement had been most carefully considered beforehand by General Mansfield, the clever Chief of the Staff, who clearly explained to all concerned the parts they had to play, and emphatically impressed upon them that success depended on his directions being followed to the letter, and on their being carried out without the slightest noise or confusion.

Sir Colin Campbell and Hope Grant, surrounded by their respective staffs, watched the movement from a position in front of the Sikandarbagh, where a body of Artillery and Infantry were held in readiness for any emergency. When the time arrived for the advanced piquets to be drawn in, the enemy seemed to have become suspicious, for they suddenly opened fire with guns and musketry from the Kaisarbagh, and for a moment we feared our plans had been discovered. Fortunately, one of Peel's rocket-carts was still in position beyond the Moti Mahal, and the celerity with which the officer in charge replied to this burst of fire apparently convinced the enemy we were holding our ground, for the firing soon ceased, and we breathed again.

Mansfield had taken the precaution to have with him an officer from Hale's brigade, which was on the left rear of our line of posts, that he might go back and tell his Brigadier when the proper time came for the latter to move off in concert with the rest of the force; but this officer had not, apparently, understood that he would have to return in the dark, and when Mansfield directed him to carry out the duty for which he had been summoned, he replied that he did not think he could find his way. Mansfield was very angry, and with reason, for it was of supreme importance that the retirement should be simultaneous, and turning to me, he said: 'You have been to Hale's position: do you think you could find your way there now?' I answered: 'I think I can.' Upon which he told me to go at once, and ordered the officer belonging to the brigade to accompany me. I then asked the General whether he wished me to retire with Hale's party or return to him. He replied: 'Return to me here, that I may be sure the order has been received.'

A Hazardous Duty I rode off with my companion, and soon found I had undertaken to perform a far from easy, and rather hazardous, duty. I had only been[Page 198] over the ground twice—going to and returning from the position on the 18th—and most of the villages then standing had since been burnt. There was no road, but any number of paths, which seemed to lead in every direction but the right one; at last, however, we arrived at our destination, I delivered the order to Colonel Hale, and set out on my return journey alone. My consternation was great on reaching the Sikandarbagh, where I had been ordered to report myself to Mansfield, to find it deserted by the Generals, their staffs, and the troops; not a creature was to be seen. I then began to understand what a long time it had taken me to carry out the errand upon which I had been sent, much longer, no doubt, than Mansfield thought possible. I could not help feeling that I was not in at all a pleasant position, for any moment the enemy might discover the force had departed, and come out in pursuit. As it turned out, however, happily for me, they remained for some hours in blissful ignorance of our successful retirement, and, instead of following in our wake, continued to keep up a heavy fire on the empty Residency and other abandoned posts. Turning my horse's head in the direction I knew the troops must have taken, I galloped as fast as he could carry me until I overtook the rear guard just as it was crossing the canal, along the right bank of which the greater part of the force had been placed in position. When I reported myself to Mansfield, he confessed that he had forgotten all about me, which somewhat surprised me, for I had frequently noticed how exactly he remembered the particulars of any order he gave, no matter how long a time it took to execute it.



The Relief of the Lucknow garrison was now accomplished—a grand achievement indeed, of which any Commander might well be proud, carried out as it had been in every particular as originally planned, thus demonstrating with what care each detail had been thought out, and how admirably movement after movement had been executed.

November the 23rd was spent in arranging for the march to Cawnpore, and in organizing the division which was to be left in position, under Outram, in and about the Alambagh; it was to be strong enough to hold its own, and to keep open communication with Head-Quarters.

[map 2]

Click Map to enlarge


My time was chiefly occupied in assisting in the distribution of transport, and in carrying out Hope Grant's directions as to the order in which the troops were to march. Round the Dilkusha the scene of confusion was bewildering in the extreme; women, children, sick and wounded men, elephants, camels, bullocks and bullock-carts, grass-cutters'[Page 199] ponies, and doolies with their innumerable bearers, all crowded together. To marshal these incongruous elements and get them started seemed at first to be an almost hopeless task. At last the families were got off in two bodies, each under a married officer whose wife was of the party, and through whom all possible arrangements for their comfort were to be made, and their place on the line of march, position in camp, etc., determined.

In the afternoon the force was gratified by the issue of a General Order by the Commander-in-Chief thanking the troops for the manner in which the very difficult and harassing service of the Relief had been performed. Alluding to the withdrawal, he said it was a model of discipline and exactitude, the result of which was that the rebels were completely thrown off their guard, and the retirement had been successfully carried out in the face of 50,000 of the enemy along a most inconveniently narrow and tortuous lane—the only line of retreat open.

Death of General Havelock The following morning Hope Grant's division marched to the Alambagh. On arrival there, our transport was sent back for Outram's division, which joined us the morning after, bringing with it General Havelock's dead body. He had died the previous day—'a martyr to duty,' as the Commander-in-Chief expressed it in his General Order. The brave old soldier, who had served with distinction in four campaigns before the Mutiny—Burma, Afghanistan, Gwalior, and the Sutlej—was buried inside the Alambagh enclosure, respected and honoured by the whole army, but more especially by those who had shared in his noble efforts to rescue the Lucknow garrison.

A wash and change of clothes, in which we were now able to indulge, were much-appreciated luxuries. From the time we had left the Alambagh every officer and man had been on duty without cessation, and slept, if they slept at all, on the spot where the close of day found them fighting.

It was a rough experience, but, notwithstanding the exposure, hard work, and a minimum of sleep, there was no great sickness amongst the troops. The personal interest which every man in the force felt in the rescue of his countrymen and countrywomen, in addition to the excitement at all times inseparable from war, was a stimulant which enabled all ranks to bear up in a marvellous manner against long-continued privations and hardships—for body and mind are equally affected by will—and there was no doubt about the will in this instance to endure anything that was necessary for the speedy achievement of the object in view. Personally, I was in the best of health, and though I almost lived on horseback, I never felt inconvenience or fatigue.

The 25th and 26th were busy days, spent in allotting camp equipage and making the necessary arrangements for fitting out Outram's force—4,000[Page 200] strong, with 25 guns and howitzers and 10 mortars.

At 11 a.m. on the 27th we started on our return march towards Cawnpore.1 It was a strange procession. Everything in the shape of wheeled carriage and laden animals had to keep to the road, which was narrow, and for the greater part of the way raised, for the country at that time of the year was partly under water, and jhils were numerous. Thus, the column was about twelve miles in length, so that the head had almost reached the end of the march before the rear could start. Delays were constant and unavoidable, and the time each day's journey occupied, as well as the mode of conveyance—country carts innocent of springs—must have been most trying to delicate women and wounded men. Fortunately there was no rain; but the sun was still hot in the daytime, causing greater sensitiveness to the bitter cold at night.

My place was with the advance guard, as I had to go on ahead to mark out the camp and have ramps got ready to enable the carts to be taken off the raised roads. Soon after leaving the Alambagh we heard the sound of guns from the direction of Cawnpore, and when we reached Bani bridge (about thirteen miles on, where a small post had been established) the officer in command told us that there had been heavy firing all that day and the day before.

Camp was pitched about two miles further on late in the afternoon; but my work was not over till midnight, when the rear guard arrived, for it took all that time to form up the miscellaneous convoy.

Next morning we made an early start, in order to reach our destination, if possible, before dark. Having received no information from Cawnpore for more than ten days, the Commander-in-Chief was beginning to feel extremely anxious, and the firing we had heard the previous day had greatly increased his uneasiness, for there seemed little room for doubt that the Gwalior rebels were making an attack on that place. The probability that this would happen had been foreseen by Sir Colin, and was one of his reasons for determining to limit the operations at Lucknow to the withdrawal of the garrison.

Appeals from Cawnpore We had not proceeded far, when firing was again heard, and by noon[Page 201] all doubt as to its meaning was ended by a Native who brought a note marked 'Most urgent,' written in Greek character, and addressed to 'General Sir Colin Campbell, or any officer commanding troops on the Lucknow road.' This turned out to be a communication from General Windham, who had been placed in command at Cawnpore when the Commander-in-Chief left for Lucknow on the 9th of November. It was dated two days earlier, and told of an attack having been made, that there had been hard fighting, and that the troops were sorely pressed; in conclusion Windham earnestly besought the Chief to come to his assistance with the least possible delay.

Two other letters followed in quick succession, the last containing the disappointing and disheartening intelligence that Windham, with the greater part of his troops, had been driven into the entrenchment, plainly showing that the city and cantonment were in the possession of the enemy, and suggesting the possibility of the bridge of boats having been destroyed.

Sir Colin, becoming impatient to learn the exact state of the case, desired me to ride on as fast as I could to the river; and if I found the bridge broken, to return at once, but if it were still in existence to cross over, try and see the General, and bring back all the information I could obtain.

I took a couple of sowars with me, and on reaching the river I found, under cover of a hastily-constructed tête-de-pont, a guard of British soldiers, under Lieutenant Budgen, of the 82nd Foot, whose delight at seeing me was most effusively expressed. He informed me that the bridge was still intact, but that it was unlikely it would long remain so, for Windham was surrounded except on the river side, and the garrison was 'at its last gasp.'

I pushed across and got into the entrenchment, which was situated on the river immediately below the bridge of boats. The confusion inside was great, and I could hardly force my way through the mass of men who thronged round my horse, eager to learn when help might be expected; they were evidently demoralized by the ill-success which had attended the previous days' operations, and it was not until I reassured them with the news that the Commander-in-Chief was close at hand that I managed to get through the crowd and deliver my message to the General.

General Windham The 'hero of the Redan,' whom I now saw for the first time, though the fame of his achievement had preceded him to India, was a handsome, cheery-looking man of about forty-eight years of age, who appeared, in contrast to the excited multitude I had passed, thoroughly calm and collected; and notwithstanding the bitter disappointment it must have been to him to be obliged to give up the city and retire with his wholly inadequate force into the entrenchment, he was not dispirited, and had all his wits about him. In a few words he told me what had[Page 202] happened, and desired me to explain to the Commander-in-Chief that, although the city and cantonment had to be abandoned, he was still holding the enemy in check round the assembly-rooms (which were situated outside and to the west front of the entrenchment), thus preventing their approaching the bridge of boats near enough to injure it.

I was about to start back to Head-Quarters, when suddenly loud cheers broke from the men, caused by the appearance in their midst of the Commander-in-Chief himself. After I had left him, Sir Colin became every minute more impatient and fidgety, and ere long started off after me, accompanied by Mansfield and some other staff officers. He was recognized by the soldiers, some of whom had known him in the Crimea, and they at once surrounded him, giving enthusiastic expression to their joy at seeing him again.

The Chief could now judge for himself as to how matters stood, so, as there was plenty of work in camp for me, I started back to rejoin my own General. On my way I stopped to speak to Budgen, whom I found in a most dejected frame of mind. Unfortunately for him, he had used exactly the same words in describing the situation at Cawnpore to Sir Colin as he had to me, which roused the old Chief's indignation, and he flew at the wretched man as he was sometimes apt to do when greatly put out, rating him soundly, and asking him how he dared to say of Her Majesty's troops that they were 'at their last gasp.'

I found Hope Grant about four miles from the river bank, where the camp was being pitched. Sir Colin did not return till after dark, when we were told that the rest of Windham's troops had been driven inside the entrenchment, which only confirmed what we had suspected, for flames were seen mounting high into the air from the direction of the assembly-rooms, which, it now turned out, had been set on fire by the enemy—an unfortunate occurrence, as in them had been stored the camp equipage, kits, clothing, etc., belonging to most of the regiments which had crossed the Ganges into Oudh. But what was more serious still was the fact that the road was now open for the rebels' heavy guns, which might be brought to bear upon the bridge of boats at any moment.

Owing to the length of the march (thirty-two or thirty-three miles), some of the carts and the heavy guns did not arrive till daybreak. Scarcely had the bullocks been unyoked, before the guns were ordered on to the river bank, where they formed up, and so effectually plied the enemy with shot and shell that the passage of the river was rendered comparatively safe for our troops.

When the men had breakfasted, the order was given to cross over. Sir Colin accompanied the column as far as the bridge, and then directed Hope Grant, with the Horse Artillery and most of the Cavalry, Bourchier's battery and Adrian Hope's brigade, to move to the south-east[Page 203] of the city and take up a position on the open ground which stretched from the river to the Grand Trunk Road, with the canal between us and the enemy. By this arrangement communication with Allahabad, which had been temporarily interrupted, was restored, a very necessary measure, for until the road was made safe, reinforcements, which on account of the paucity of transport had to be sent up in small detachments, could not reach us, nor could the families and sick soldiers be sent down country.

The Passage of the Ganges The passage of the huge convoy over the bridge of boats, under the protection of Greathed's brigade, was a most tedious business, occupying thirty hours, from 3 p.m. on the 29th till about 9 p.m. on the 30th, when Inglis brought over the rear guard. During its transit the enemy fired occasionally on the bridge, and tried to destroy it by floating fire-rafts down the river; fortunately they did not succeed, and the convoy arrived without accident on the ground set apart for it in the rear of our camp.

For the three first days of December I was chiefly employed in reconnoitring with the Native Cavalry the country to our left and rear, to make sure that the rebels had no intention of attempting to get round that flank, and in making arrangements for the despatch of the families, the sick, and the wounded, to Allahabad en route to Calcutta. We improvised covers for some of the carts, in which we placed the women and children and the worst cases amongst the men; but with all our efforts to render them less unfit for the purpose, these carts remained but rough and painful conveyances for delicate women and suffering men to travel in.

We were not left altogether unmolested by the enemy during these days. Round shot kept continually falling in our midst, particularly in the neighbourhood of the Commander-in-Chief's tent, the exact position of which must have somehow been made known to the rebels, otherwise they could not have distinguished it from the rest of the camp, as it was an unpretentious hill tent, such as was then used by subaltern officers.

Until the women left camp on the night of the 3rd December, we were obliged to act on the defensive, and were not able to stop the enemy's fire completely, though we managed to keep it under control by occupying the point called Generalganj, and strengthening the piquets on our right and left flank. On the 4th a second unsuccessful attempt was made to destroy the bridge of boats by means of fire-rafts, and on the 5th there were several affairs at the outposts, all of which ended in the discomfiture of the rebels without any great loss to ourselves; Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart of the 93rd Highlanders, who lost his arm on the 1st, and Captain Crutchley of the same regiment, who was severely wounded, being the only casualties amongst the officers.

[Page 204]



The Fight at Cawnpore

The time had now arrived to give the Gwalior troops a repetition of the lesson taught them at Agra on the 10th October. They had had it all their own way since then; and having proved too strong for Windham, they misunderstood the Commander-in-Chief remaining for so long on the defensive, and attributed his inaction to fear of their superior prowess.

Sunday, the 6th December, was one of those glorious days in which the European in northern India revels for a great part of the winter, clear and cool, with a cloudless sky. I awoke refreshed after a good night's rest, and in high spirits at the prospect before us of a satisfactory day's work; for we hoped to drive the enemy from Cawnpore, and to convince those who had witnessed, if not taken part in, the horrible brutalities perpetrated there, that England's hour had come at last.

The 42nd Highlanders, a battery of Royal Artillery, and detachments of several different corps, had quite lately been added to the force, so that the Commander-in-Chief had now at his disposal about 5,000 Infantry, 600 Cavalry, and 35 guns. The Infantry were divided into four brigades, commanded respectively by Greathed, Adrian Hope, Inglis, and Walpole.1 The Cavalry brigade, consisting of the same regiments which had come with us from Delhi, was commanded by Brigadier Little, the Artillery2 by Major-General Dupuis, and the Engineers by Colonel Harness, General Windham being placed in charge of the entrenchments.

Opposed to this force there were 25,000 men, with 40 guns, not all disciplined soldiers, but all adepts in the use of arms, and accustomed to fighting. They were divided into two distinct bodies, one composed of the Gwalior Contingent, the Rani of Jhansi's followers, and the mutinous regiments which had been stationed in Bundelkand, Central India, and Rajputana, which occupied the right of the enemy's position, covering their line of retreat by the Kalpi road. The other consisted of the troops—regular and irregular—which had attached themselves to the Nana, and held the city and the ground which lay between it and the Ganges, their line of retreat being along the Grand Trunk Road to Bithur. Tantia Topi was in command of the whole[Page 205] force, while the Nana remained with his own people on the left flank.

On the centre and left the enemy were very strongly posted, and could only be approached through the city and by way of the difficult broken ground, covered with ruined houses, stretching along the river bank.

While the men were eating their breakfasts, and the tents were being struck, packed, and sent to the rear, Sir Colin carefully explained his plan of operations to the Commanding officers and the staff; this plan was, to make a feint on the enemy's left and centre, but to direct the real attack on their right, hoping thus to be able to dispose of this portion of Tantia Topi's force, before assistance could be obtained from any other part of the line.

With this view Windham was ordered to open with every gun within the entrenchment at 9 a.m.; while Greathed, supported by Walpole, threatened the enemy's centre. Exactly at the hour named, the roar of Windham's Artillery was heard, followed a few minutes later by the rattle of Greathed's musketry along the bank of the canal. Meanwhile, Adrian Hope's brigade was drawn up in fighting formation behind the Cavalry stables on our side of the Trunk Road, and Inglis's brigade behind the racecourse on the other side. At eleven o'clock the order was given to advance. The Cavalry and Horse Artillery moved to the left with instructions to cross the canal by a bridge about two miles off, and to be ready to fall upon the enemy as they retreated along the Kalpi road. Walpole's brigade, covered by Smith's Field battery, crossed the canal by a bridge immediately to the left of Generalganj, cleared the canal bank, and, by hugging the wall of the city, effectually prevented reinforcements reaching the enemy's right.

Peel's and Longden's heavy guns, and Bourchier's and Middleton's Field batteries, now opened on some brick-kilns and mounds which the enemy were holding in strength on our side of the canal, and against which Adrian Hope's and Inglis's brigades advanced in parallel lines, covered by the 4th Punjab Infantry in skirmishing order

It was a sight to be remembered, that advance, as we watched it from our position on horseback, grouped round the Commander-in-Chief. Before us stretched a fine open grassy plain; to the right the dark green of the Rifle Brigade battalions revealed where Walpole's brigade was crossing the canal. Nearer to us, the 53rd Foot, and the 42nd and 93rd Highlanders in their bonnets and kilts, marched as on parade, although the enemy's guns played upon them and every now and then a round shot plunged through their ranks or ricocheted over their heads; on they went without apparently being in the least disconcerted, and without the slightest confusion.

As the brick-kilns were neared, the 4th Punjab Infantry, supported by the 53rd Foot, charged the enemy in grand style, and drove them across the canal. Here there occurred a slight check. The rebels,[Page 206] having been reinforced, made a stand, and bringing guns to bear upon the bridge within grape range, they must have done us great damage but for the timely arrival of Peel and his sailors with a heavy gun. This put new life into the attacking party; with a loud cheer they dashed across the bridge, while Peel poured round after round from his 24-pounder on the insurgents with most salutary effect. The enemy faced about and retired with the utmost celerity, leaving a 9-pounder gun in our possession.

The whole of Hope's brigade, followed by Inglis's, now arrived on the scene and proceeded to cross the canal, some by the bridge, while others waded through the water. Having got to the other side, both brigades re-formed, and moved rapidly along the Kalpi road. We (the Commander-in-Chief, Hope Grant, and their respective staffs) accompanied this body of troops for about a mile and a half, when the rebels' camp came in sight. A few rounds were fired into it, and then it was rushed.

Unexpected Visitors We were evidently unexpected visitors; wounded men were lying about in all directions, and many sepoys were surprised calmly cooking their frugal meal of unleavened bread. The tents were found to be full of property plundered from the city and cantonment of Cawnpore—soldiers' kits, bedding, clothing, and every description of miscellaneous articles; but to us the most valuable acquisition was a quantity of grain and a large number of fine bullocks, of which those best suited for Ordnance purposes were kept, and the rest were made over to the Commissariat.

That portion of the rebel force with which we had been engaged was now in full retreat, and Sir Colin wished to follow it up at once; but the Cavalry and Horse Artillery had not arrived, so that considerable delay occurred; while we were waiting the Chief arranged to send Mansfield with a small force3 round to the north of Cawnpore, and, by thus threatening the road along which the Nana's troops must retreat, compel them to evacuate the city. The 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers and a detachment of the 38th Foot were to be left to look after the deserted camp, and Inglis's brigade was to move along the Kalpi road in support of the Cavalry and Horse Artillery. But where were the much-needed and anxiously-expected mounted troops? It was not like them to be out of the way when their services were required; but it was now nearly two o'clock, they had not appeared, and the days were very short. What was to be done? The enemy could not be allowed to carry off their guns and escape punishment. Suddenly the old Chief announced that he had determined to follow them up himself with Bourchier's battery and his own escort.

[map 3]

Click map to enlarge
Engagement before CAWNPORE on the 6th. December 1857.

Engagement before CAWNPORE on the 6th. December 1857.

A Long Chase What a chase we had! We went at a gallop, only pulling up[Page 207] occasionally for the battery to come into action, 'to clear our front and flanks.' We came up with a goodly number of stragglers, and captured several guns and carts laden with ammunition. But we were by this time overtaking large bodies of the rebels, and they were becoming too numerous for a single battery and a few staff officers to cope with. We had outstripped the Commander-in-Chief, and Hope Grant decided to halt, hoping that the missing Cavalry and Horse Artillery might soon turn up. We had not to wait long. In about a quarter of an hour they appeared among some trees to our left, even more put out than we were at their not having been to the front at such a time. Their guide had made too great a détour, but the sound of our guns showed them his mistake, and they at once altered their course and pushed on in the direction of the firing. Sir Colin had also come up, so off we started again, and never drew rein until we reached the Pandu Naddi, fourteen miles from Cawnpore. The rout was complete. Finding themselves pressed, the sepoys scattered over the country, throwing away their arms and divesting themselves of their uniform, that they might pass for harmless peasants. Nineteen guns, some of them of large calibre, were left in our hands. Our victory was particularly satisfactory in that it was achieved with but slight loss to ourselves, the casualties being 2 officers and 11 men killed, and 9 officers and 76 men wounded.

Hope Grant now desired me to hurry back to Cawnpore before it got too dark, and select the ground for the night's bivouac. As there was some risk in going alone, Augustus Anson volunteered to accompany me. We had got about half-way, when we came across the dead body of Lieutenant Salmond, who had been acting Aide-de-camp to my General, and must have got separated from us in the pursuit. His throat was cut, and he had a severe wound on the face. Soon after we met Inglis's brigade, which, in accordance with my instructions, I turned back. On reaching the Gwalior Contingent camp, we heard that an attempt had been made to recapture it, which had been repulsed by the troops left in charge.

It was dusk by the time we reached the junction of the Kalpi and Grand Trunk roads, and we agreed that this would be a good place for a bivouac, the city being about a mile in front, and Mansfield's column less than two miles to the left. I marked out the ground, and showed each corps as it came up the position it was to occupy. When all this was over I was pretty well tired out and ravenously hungry; but food there was none, so I had made up my mind to lie down, famished as I was. Just then I came across some sleeping men, who to my joy turned out to be Dighton Probyn and the officers of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry, who were magnanimous enough to forgive the abrupt interruption to their slumbers, and to supply me with some cold mutton, bread, and a bottle of beer. Never was man more grateful for a meal, and never was a meal more thoroughly enjoyed. I lay down beside my[Page 208] friends and was soon fast asleep, in spite of the bitter cold and being much troubled about my horse; neither for him nor myself was there a vestige of covering to be found.

The next morning I was astir by cockcrow. Patrols who had been sent forward to ascertain the truth of a rumour which had reached the Commander-in-Chief the previous evening, to the effect that the city had been evacuated, returned with confirmation of the report; but the news in other respects was far from satisfactory. Mansfield's movement had caused the enemy to retire, but they had got away without loss, and had succeeded in carrying off all their guns; so that only one half of Tantia Topi's force had really been dealt with; the other half still remained to be disposed of, and to Hope Grant's great satisfaction and my delight, the duty of following them up was entrusted to him.

His orders were to go to Bithur, as it was thought likely that the Nana's troops would retire on that place. But as the news was not very reliable, Hope Grant was told to use his own discretion, and act according to circumstances.

Unjur Tiwari For several days I had been trying unsuccessfully to get hold of some Natives upon whom I could rely to bring me trustworthy information as to the enemy's movements. It is always of the utmost importance that a Quartermaster-General on service should have the help of such men, and I was now more than ever in need of reliable intelligence. In this emergency I applied to Captain Bruce, the officer in charge of the Intelligence Department which had been established at Cawnpore for the purpose of tracing the whereabouts of those rebels who had taken a prominent part in the atrocities. I was at once supplied with a first-rate man, Unjur Tiwari by name,4 who from that moment until I left India for England in April, 1858, rendered me most valuable service.[Page 209] He was a Brahmin by caste, and belonged to the 1st Native Infantry. In a few words I explained what I required of him, and he started at once for Bithur, promising to meet me the next day on the line of march.

Early on the afternoon of the 8th we marched out of Cawnpore, and at sunset Unjur Tiwari, true to his promise, made his appearance at the point where the road turns off to Bithur. He told me that the Nana had slept at that place the night before, but hearing of our approach, had decamped with all his guns and most of his followers, and was now at a ferry some miles up the river, trying to get across and make his way to Oudh. We had come thirteen miles, and had as many more to go before we could get to the ferry, and as there was nothing to be gained by arriving there in the dark, a halt was ordered for rest and refreshment. At midnight we started again, and reached Sheorajpur (three miles from the ferry) at daybreak. Here we left our impedimenta, and proceeded by a cross-country road. Presently a couple of mounted men belonging to the enemy, not perceiving who we were, galloped straight into the escort. On discovering their mistake, they turned and tried to escape, but in vain; one was killed, the other captured, and from him we learnt that the rebels were only a short distance ahead. We pushed on, and soon came in sight of them and of the river; crowds were collected on the banks, and boats were being hurriedly laden, some of the guns having already been placed on board. Our troops were ordered to advance, but the ground along the river bank was treacherous and very heavy. Notwithstanding, the Artillery managed to struggle through, and when the batteries had got to within 1,000 yards of the ferry, the enemy appeared suddenly to discover our presence, and opened upon us with their Artillery. Our batteries galloped on, and got considerably nearer before they returned the fire; after a few rounds the rebels broke and fled. The ground was so unfavourable for pursuit, being full of holes and quicksands, that nearly all escaped, except a few cut up by the Cavalry. Fifteen guns were captured, with one single casualty on our side—the General himself—who was hit on the foot by a spent grape-shot, without, happily, being much hurt.

Bithur Hope Grant's successful management of this little expedition considerably enhanced the high opinion the Commander-in-Chief had already formed of his ability. He was next ordered to proceed to Bithur and complete the destruction of that place, which had been begun by Havelock in July. We found the palace in good order—there[Page 210] was little evidence that it had been visited by an avenging force, and in one of the rooms which had been occupied by the treacherous Azimula Khan, I came across a number of letters, some unopened, and some extremely interesting, to which I shall have to refer later on.

We left Adrian Hope's brigade at Bithur to search for treasure reported to have been buried near the palace, and returned to Cawnpore, where we remained for about ten days, not at all sorry for the rest.

Windham at Cornpore During this time of comparative idleness, I went over the ground where the troops under Windham had been engaged for three days, and heard many comments on the conduct of the operations. All spoke in high terms of Windham's dash and courage, but as a Commander he was generally considered to have failed.

Windham was without doubt placed in an extremely difficult position. The relief of the garrison at Lucknow was of such paramount importance that Sir Colin Campbell was obliged to take with him every available man,5 and found it necessary to order Windham to send all reinforcements after him as soon as they arrived, although it was recognized as probable that Tantia Topi, with the large force then assembled near Kalpi, would advance on Cawnpore as soon as the Commander-in-Chief was committed to his difficult undertaking. Windham's orders were to improve the defences of the entrenchment; to carefully watch the movements of the Gwalior army; and to make as much display as possible of the troops at his command by encamping them in a conspicuous position outside the city; but he was not on any account to move out to attack, unless compelled to do so in order to prevent the bombardment of the entrenchment. The safety of this entrenchment was of great importance, for it contained a number of guns, quantities of ammunition and other warlike stores, and it covered, as already shown, the bridge of boats over the Ganges.

Windham loyally carried out his instructions, but he subsequently asked for and obtained leave to detain any troops arriving at Cawnpore after the 14th of November, as he did not feel himself strong enough, with the force at his disposal, to resist the enemy if attacked. But even after having received this sanction he twice despatched strong reinforcements to Lucknow, thus weakening himself considerably in order to give Sir Colin all possible help.

Windham eventually had at his disposal about 1,700 Infantry and[Page 211] eight guns, the greater part of which were encamped as directed, outside the city, close to the junction of the Delhi and Kalpi roads, while the rest were posted in and around the entrenchment. Meanwhile the rebels were slowly approaching Cawnpore in detachments, with the evident intention of surrounding the place. On the 17th two bodies of troops were pushed on to Shuli and Shirajpur, within fifteen miles of the city, and a little less than that distance from each other. Windham thought that if he could manage to surprise either of these, he could prevent the enemy from concentrating, and he drew up a scheme for giving effect to this plan, which he submitted for the approval of the Commander-in-Chief. No reply came, and after waiting a week he gave up all idea of attempting to surprise the detachments, and determined to try and arrest the rebels' advance by attacking the main body, still some distance off. Accordingly he broke up his camp, and marched six miles along the Kalpi road, on the same day that the Gwalior force moved some distance nearer to Cawnpore. The next morning, the 25th, the enemy advanced to Pandu Naddi, within three miles of Windham's camp.

Windham now found himself in a very critical position. With only 1,200 Infantry6 and eight light guns, he was opposed to Tantia Topi with an army of 25,000 men and forty guns. He had to choose whether he would fight these enormous odds or retire: he decided that to fight was the least of the two evils, and he was so far successful that he drove back that portion of the opposing force immediately in his front, and captured three guns; but being unable to press his advantage on account of the paucity of men and the total absence of Cavalry, he had perforce to fall back—a grievous necessity. He was followed the whole way, insulted and jeered at, by the rebel horsemen. The result of the day was to give confidence to the wily Mahratta leader; he pushed on to Cawnpore, and attacked Windham with such vehemence that by nightfall on the 28th the British troops were driven inside the entrenchment, having had 315 men killed and wounded, and having lost all their baggage and camp equipage.

Windham undoubtedly laid himself open to censure. His defence was that, had he received the Commander-in-Chief's authority to carry out his plan for surprising the rebels, he would certainly have broken up their army, and the disaster could not have occurred. But surely when he decided that circumstances had so changed since Sir Colin's orders were given as to justify him in disregarding them, he should have acted on his own responsibility, and taken such steps as appeared to him best, instead of applying for sanction to a Commander far from[Page 212] the scene of action, and so entirely ignorant of the conditions under which the application was made, as to render it impossible for him to decide whether such sanction should be given. The march which Windham made towards the enemy on the 24th was quite as grave a disobedience of orders as would have been the surprise movement he contemplated on the 17th; but while the former placed him in a most dangerous position, and one from which it was impossible to deal the enemy a decisive blow, the latter, if successful, would have deserved, and doubtless would have received, the highest praise.



Our stay at Cawnpore was more prolonged than the Commander-in-Chief intended or wished it to be, but want of transport made it impossible for us to move until the carts returned which had gone to Allahabad with the women and children and the sick soldiers. We were thus delayed until the 23rd December, on which date we commenced our march towards Fatehgarh.

At Chobipur, two marches from Cawnpore, where we spent Christmas Day, we were joined by the troops who had been left behind at Bithur; they had not succeeded in discovering any considerable quantity of treasure, some silver vessels of various kinds being the only result of their labours.

The Commander-in-Chief's object in moving on Fatehgarh was to restore order throughout the Doab and open communication between the Punjab and Bengal.

A brigade under Brigadier Walpole had been despatched on the 16th, with orders to clear the country along the left bank of the Jumna up to Mainpuri, where he was to be joined by Brigadier Seaton with a strong column from Delhi, and whence the united force was to advance on Fatehgarh.

1858 We reached Gursahaiganj, where the road turns off to Fatehgarh, on the 31st, and here the main body of the army halted on New Year's Day, 1858; but information having been received that 5,000 rebels under the Nawab of Farakabad had partly destroyed the suspension bridge over the Kali Naddi, about five miles ahead, and had then gone off towards Fatehgarh, Adrian Hope's brigade was sent forward to repair the damage and watch the bridge.

Early the following morning Sir Colin, with Mansfield and the rest of his staff, went on to inspect progress, leaving orders for the rest of the force to follow later in the day. Very soon, however, Hope Grant received an urgent message from the Chief of the Staff, telling him to push on the troops with all possible speed, as the enemy had returned,[Page 213] and were now in strength on the other side of the Kali Naddi.

The Fight at Khudaganj We (Sir Hope and his staff) started off with the Horse Artillery and Cavalry, and found, on reaching the bridge, that the rebels were occupying the village of Khudaganj, just across the river, and only about 300 yards off, from which advantageous position they were pouring a heavy fire on Hope's brigade. Our piquets on the further side of the stream had been strengthened by a wing of the 53rd Foot, and a wing of the 93rd Highlanders had been placed in reserve behind the bridge on the nearer side, the rest of the regiment having been despatched to watch a ford some distance down the river, while a battery of Field Artillery had been brought into action in reply to the enemy's guns. Immediately on the arrival of the main body, three of Peel's guns, under Vaughan, his First Lieutenant, were pushed across the bridge to the further side, and getting under shelter of a convenient building, opened fire on the village, and on a toll-bar directly in its front, about which the enemy were collected in considerable numbers. Our Infantry now crossed over, followed by the Cavalry and Horse Artillery—a tedious operation, as there had not been time to fully repair the bridge, and in one place planks had only been laid for half its width, necessitating horses being led, and Infantry passing over in sections. Moreover, the enemy had got the exact range, and several casualties occurred at this spot; one round shot alone killed and wounded six men of the 8th Foot. Vaughan at last succeeded in silencing the gun which had troubled us most, and preparations were made for an attack on the village. While we were watching the proceedings, the Interpreter to the Naval Brigade, Henry Hamilton Maxwell, a brother officer of mine who had been standing close to me, was very badly wounded in the leg, and both Sir Colin and Sir Hope were hit by spent bullets, luckily without being much hurt.

There was a feeling throughout the army that Sir Colin was inclined to favour Highlanders unduly; and a rumour got about that the 93rd were to be allowed the honour of delivering the assault on Khudaganj, which was highly resented by the 53rd, and they determined that on this occasion, at any rate, the Highlanders should not have it all their own way. The 53rd was composed of a remarkably fine set of fellows, chiefly Irish, and it was Mansfield's own regiment; wishing, therefore, to do an old comrade a good turn, he had placed Major Payn,1 one of the senior officers, in command of the piquets. Payn was a fine dashing soldier, and a great favourite with the men, who calculated on his backing them up if they upset Sir Colin's little plan. Whether what happened was with or without Payn's permission, I cannot say, but we were all waiting near the bridge for the attacking party to form when suddenly the 'advance' was sounded, then the 'double,' followed[Page 214] by a tremendous cheer, and we saw the 53rd charge the enemy. Sir Colin was very angry, but the 53rd could not be brought back, and there was nothing for it but to support them. Hope's and Greathed's troops were instantly pushed on, and the Cavalry and Horse Artillery were ordered to mount.

A Mêlée The ground gradually sloped upwards towards Khudaganj, and the regiments moving up to the attack made a fine picture. The 93rd followed the impulsive 53rd, while Greathed's brigade took a line to the left, and as they neared the village the rebels hastily limbered up their guns and retired. This was an opportunity for mounted troops such as does not often occur; it was instantly seized by Hope Grant, who rode to the Cavalry, drawn up behind some sand hills, and gave the word of command, 'Threes left, trot, march.' The words had hardly left his lips before we had started in pursuit of the enemy, by this time half a mile ahead, the 9th Lancers leading the way, followed by Younghusband's, Gough's, and Probyn's squadrons. When within 300 yards of the fugitives, the 'charge' was sounded, and in a few seconds we were in their midst. A regular mêlée ensued, a number of the rebels were killed, and seven guns captured in less than as many minutes. The General now formed the Cavalry into a long line, and, placing himself at the head of his own regiment (the 9th Lancers), followed up the flying foe. I rode a little to his left with Younghusband's squadron, and next to him came Tyrrell Ross, the doctor.2 As we galloped along, Younghusband drew my attention with great pride to the admirable manner in which his men kept their dressing.

[map 4]

Click map to enlarge
Plan of the Engagement on the Banks of the KALI NADI at KHUDAGANJ January 2nd. 1858.

Plan of the Engagement on the Banks of the KALI NADI at KHUDAGANJ January 2nd. 1858.

On the line thundered, overtaking groups of the enemy, who every now and then turned and fired into us before they could be cut down, or knelt to receive us on their bayonets before discharging their muskets. The chase continued for nearly five miles, until daylight began to fail and we appeared to have got to the end of the fugitives, when the order was given to wheel to the right and form up on the road. Before, however, this movement could be carried out, we overtook a batch of mutineers, who faced about and fired into the squadron at close quarters. I saw Younghusband fall, but I could not go to his assistance, as at that moment one of his sowars was in dire peril from a sepoy who was attacking him with his fixed bayonet, and had I not helped the man and disposed of his opponent, he must have been[Page 215] killed. The next moment I descried in the distance two sepoys making off with a standard, which I determined must be captured, so I rode after the rebels and overtook them, and while wrenching the staff out of the hands of one of them, whom I cut down, the other put his musket close to my body and fired; fortunately for me it missed fire, and I carried off the standard.3Awarded the Victoria Cross

Tyrrell Ross, attracted by a party of men in the rear of the squadron bending over the fallen Younghusband, now came up, and, to everyone's great grief, pronounced the wound to be mortal. From the day that I had annexed Younghusband's pony at the siege of Delhi we had been so much together, and had become such fast friends, that it was a great shock to me to be told that never again would my gallant comrade lead the men in whom he took such soldierly pride.4

When the wounded had been attended to, we returned to camp, where we found Sir Colin waiting to welcome us, and we received quite an ovation from our comrades in the Infantry and Artillery. We must have presented a curious spectacle as we rode back, almost every man carrying some trophy of the day, for the enemy had abandoned everything in their flight, and we found the road strewn with laden carts and palankins, arms, Native clothing, etc. Our losses were surprisingly small—only 10 men killed, and 30 men and 2 officers wounded.

The next day the column marched to Fatehgarh, which we found deserted. The rebels had fled so precipitately that they had left the bridge over the Ganges intact, and had not attempted to destroy the valuable gun-carriage factory in the fort, which was then placed in the charge of Captain H. Legeyt Bruce.5

Oudh or Rohilkand? We remained a whole month at Fatehgarh, and loud were the complaints in camp at the unaccountable delay. It was the general opinion that we ought to move into Rohilkand, and settle that part of the country before returning to Lucknow; this view was very strongly held by Sir Colin Campbell, and those who accused him of "indecision, dilatoriness, and wasting the best of the cold weather" could not have known how little he deserved their censure. The truth was, that the Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief were not in accord as to the order in which the several military operations should be taken[Page 216] in hand; the latter urged that Rohilkand should be dealt with first, and settled before the end of the cold weather; he thought that the troops would then be the better for a rest, and that Lucknow could very well wait till the following autumn. Lord Canning opined, on the other hand (and I entirely agree with him), that, while it was most desirable that order should be restored in Rohilkand, and indeed throughout the whole of the North-West Provinces, the possession of Lucknow was of 'far greater value.' 'Every eye,' Lord Canning wrote, 'is upon Oudh as it was upon Delhi: Oudh is not only the rallying-place of the sepoys, the place to which they all look, and by the doings in which their own hopes and prospects rise or fall; but it represents a dynasty; there is a king of Oudh "seeking his own."' He pointed out that there was an uneasy feeling amongst the Chiefs of Native States, who were intently watching our attitude with regard to Lucknow, and that even in 'far-off Burma' news from Lucknow was anxiously looked for. The Governor-General laid great stress also upon the advisability of employing as soon and as close to their own country as possible the troops from Nepal which, at Sir Henry Lawrence's suggestion, had been applied for to, and lent us by, the Nepalese Government.

The visit of Jung Bahadur (the Prime Minister of Nepal) to England a few years before had opened his eyes to our latent power, and he had been able to convince his people that time alone was required for us to recover completely from the blow which had been dealt us by the Mutiny, and that it was therefore to their advantage to side with us. Lord Canning wisely judged, however, that it would be highly imprudent to allow the province immediately adjoining Nepal to continue in a state of revolt, and he felt that neither Jung Bahadur nor his Gurkhas would be satisfied unless they were allowed to take an active part in the campaign.



Our prolonged stay at Fatehgarh was not altogether without advantage. Such a large force being concentrated in the neighbourhood secured the safety of the Doab for the time being, and as Fatehgarh was equally conveniently situated for an advance, either into Rohilkand or upon Lucknow, the rebels were kept in a state of uncertainty as to the direction of our next move.

At length it was decided that Lucknow was to be our first objective, and Sir Colin at once communicated with Outram and Napier as to the best means of conducting the siege. Then, leaving Hope Grant to take the division across the Ganges, the Chief went to Allahabad, the temporary Head-Quarters of the supreme Government, to discuss the[Page 217] situation with the Governor-General.

We marched through Cawnpore, and on the 8th February reached Unao, where we found encamped the 7th Hussars, a troop of Royal Horse Artillery, the 38th Foot and the 79th Highlanders.

Sir Colin on his return from Allahabad on the 10th issued a General Order detailing the regiments, staff, and Commanders who were to take part in the 'Siege of Lucknow.'1 Hope Grant, who had been made a Major-General for the 'Relief of Lucknow,' was appointed to the command of the Cavalry division, and I remained with him as D.A.Q.M.G.

Mianganj Rumours had been flying about that the Nana was somewhere in the neighbourhood, but 'Wolf!' had been cried so often with regard to him, that but little notice was taken of the reports, until my faithful spy, Unjur Tiwari, brought me intelligence that the miscreant really was hiding in a small fort about twenty-five miles from our camp. Hope Grant started off at once, taking with him a compact little force, and reached the fort early next morning (17th February), just too late to catch the Nana, who, we were told, had fled precipitately before daybreak. We blew up the fort, and for the next few days moved by short marches towards Lucknow, clearing the country as we went of rebels, small parties of whom we frequently encountered. On the 23rd we reached Mianganj, a small fortified town on the old Cawnpore and Lucknow road, where some 2,000 of the enemy had ensconced themselves. Our advance guard having been fired upon as we approached, the column was halted and the baggage placed in safety, while Hope Grant reconnoitred the position in order to see where it could most advantageously be attacked. We found the town enclosed by a high loop-holed wall with circular bastions at the four corners and at regular[Page 218] intervals along the sides, the whole being surrounded by a wet ditch, while the gateways had been strengthened by palisades. Large bodies of the enemy's Cavalry hovered about our reconnoitring party, only to retire as we advanced, apparently not liking the look of the 7th Hussars and 9th Lancers, who formed the General's escort.

After a careful inspection, Hope Grant decided to breach the north-west angle of the wall, as from a wood near the Infantry could keep down the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, and the heavy guns would be in a measure protected while the walls were being bombarded. A sufficiently good breach was made in about two hours, and the 53rd Regiment, having been selected for the honour of leading the assault, was told to hold itself in readiness. Hope Grant then spoke a few words of encouragement to the men, and their Colonel (English) replied on their behalf that they might be depended upon to do their duty. The signal was given; the Horse Artillery, under Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Turner, galloped to within grape range of the town, and covered by their fire the 53rd marched in steadily until they got within 100 yards of the walls, when, with a ringing cheer, they dashed through the water in the ditch and entered the breach. Hopkins, the plucky Captain of the light company, was the first inside the walls, followed closely by Augustus Anson and an adventurous Post-Captain of the Royal Navy, who, being unemployed, came to see what 'a winter's campaign in India' was like.2 There was a good deal of hand-to-hand fighting, and the enemy lost about 500 men, those who tried to escape being cut down by the Cavalry outside the walls. We took about the same number of prisoners, but as none of these were soldiers, and vowed they had been forced to take up arms against us, the General, as much to their astonishment as to their delight, ordered them to be set free. Our losses were small.

Next day we halted while the walls were being destroyed and the place rendered indefensible. As I was superintending the work of destruction, the horrors of war were once more brought very forcibly before me by the appearance of an infirm old man, who besought me to spare his house, saying: 'Yesterday I was the happy father of five sons: three of them lie there' (pointing to a group of dead bodies); 'where the other two are, God only knows. I am old and a cripple, and if my house is burned there is nothing left for me but to die.' Of course I took care that his house and property were left untouched.

On the 25th February we marched to Mohan, a picturesquely situated village on the bank of the Sai Naddi, which stream we crossed the next day and encamped on a fine grassy plain, there to remain until it should be time to join the army before Lucknow.

Curious Effect of a Mirage While we were halting at this place, Watson and I had rather a[Page 219] curious adventure. During a morning's ride my greyhound put up a nilghai3 so close to us that Watson, aiming a blow at him with his sword, gashed his quarter. Off he started, and we after him at full speed; the chase continued for some miles without our getting much nearer, when, all at once, we beheld moving towards us from our right front a body of the enemy's Cavalry. We were in an awkward position; our horses were very nearly dead beat, and we could hardly hope to get away if pursued. We pulled up, turned round, and trotted back, very quietly at first, that our horses might recover their breath before the enemy got to closer quarters and we should have to ride for our lives. Every now and then we looked back to see whether they were gaining upon us, and at last we distinctly saw them open out and make as if to charge down upon us. We thought our last hour was come. We bade each other good-bye, agreeing that each must do his best to escape, and that neither was to wait for the other, when lo! as suddenly as they had appeared, the horsemen vanished, as though the ground had opened and swallowed them; there was nothing to be seen but the open plain, where a second before there had been a crowd of mounted men. We could hardly believe our eyes, or comprehend at first that what we had seen was simply a mirage, but so like reality that anyone must have been deceived. Our relief, on becoming convinced that we had been scared by a phantom enemy, was considerable; but the apparition had the good effect of making us realize the folly of having allowed ourselves to be tempted so far away from our camp without escort of any kind in an enemy's country, and we determined not to risk it again.4

While we were occupied in clearing the country to the north of the Cawnpore-Lucknow road, the main body of the army, with the siege-train, Engineer park, Naval Brigade,5 ammunition, and stores of all kinds, had gradually been collecting at Bhantira, to which place we were ordered to proceed on the 1st March. We had a troublesome march across country, and did not reach the Head-Quarters camp until close on midnight. There was much difficulty in getting the guns through the muddy nullas and up the steep banks, and but for the assistance of the elephants the task could hardly have been accomplished. It was most curious and interesting to see how these sagacious creatures watched for and seized the moment when their help was needed to get the guns up the steep inclines; they waited till the horses dragging the gun could do no more and were coming to a stand-still,[Page 220] when one of them would place his forehead against the muzzle and shove until the gun was safely landed on the top of the bank.

We started early on the morning of the 2nd for Lucknow, Hope Grant taking command of the Cavalry division for the first time.

The Dilkusha Revisited On nearing the Alambagh, we bore to our right past the Jalalabad fort, where Outram's Engineers were busily engaged in constructing fascines and gabions for the siege, and preparing spars and empty casks for bridging the Gumti. As we approached the Mahomedbagh we came under the fire of some of the enemy's guns placed in a grove of trees; but no sooner had the Artillery of our advance guard opened fire than the rebels retired, leaving a gun in our hands. We moved on to the Dilkusha, which we found unoccupied. The park had been greatly disfigured since our last visit, most of the finest trees having been cut down.

My General was now placed in charge of the piquets, a position for which he was admirably fitted and in which he delighted. He rode well, without fatigue to himself or his horse, so that any duty entailing long hours in the saddle was particularly congenial to him. I invariably accompanied him in his rounds, and in after-years I often felt that I owed Hope Grant a debt of gratitude for the practical lessons he gave me in outpost duty.

Strong piquets with heavy guns were placed in and around the Dilkusha, as well as in the Mahomedbagh. The main body of the army was encamped to the rear of the Dilkusha, its right almost on the Gumti, while its left stretched for two miles in the direction of the Alambagh. Hope Grant, wishing to be in a convenient position in case of an attack, spent the night in the Mahomedbagh piquet, and Anson, the D.A.A.G., and I kept him company.

On the 3rd some of the troops left at Bhantira came into camp, and on the 5th General Franks arrived. His division, together with the Nepalese Contingent, 9,000 strong, brought the numbers at the Commander-in-Chief's disposal up to nearly 31,000 men, with 164 guns;6 not a man too many for the capture of a city twenty miles in circumference, defended by 120,000 armed men, who for three months and a half had worked incessantly at strengthening the defences, which consisted of three lines, extending lengthwise from the Charbagh bridge to[Page 221] the Gumti, and in depth from the canal to the Kaisarbagh.

Passage of the Gumti In Napier's carefully prepared plan, which Sir Colin decided to adopt, it was shown that the attack should be made on the east, as that side offered the smallest front, it afforded ground for planting our Artillery, which the west side did not, and it was the shortest approach to the Kaisarbagh, a place to which the rebels attached the greatest importance; more than all, we knew the east side, and were little acquainted with the west. Napier further recommended that the attack should be accompanied by a flank movement on the north, with the object of taking in reverse the first and second lines of the enemy's defences.7 A division was accordingly sent across the Gumti for this purpose, and the movement, being entirely successful, materially aided in the capture of the city. The passage of the river was effected by means of two pontoon bridges made of empty barrels, and thrown across the stream a little below the Dilkusha. They were completed by midnight on the 5th March, and before day broke the troops detailed for this service had crossed over.

Outram, who, since the 'Relief of Lucknow,' had been maintaining his high reputation by keeping the enemy in check before the Alambagh, commanded this division, with Hope Grant as his second in command. As soon as it was light we moved away from the river to be out of reach of the Martinière guns, and after marching for about two miles we came in view of the enemy; the Artillery of the advance guard got to within a thousand yards and opened fire, upon which the rebels broke and fled. The Bays pursued them for a short distance, but with very little result, the ground being intersected with nullas, and the enemy opening upon them with heavy guns, they had to retire precipitately, with the loss of their Major, Percy Smith, whose body, unhappily, had to be abandoned.

About noon we encamped close to Chinhut, and Hope Grant took special care that day to see the piquets were well placed, for the rebels were in great numbers, and we were surrounded by ravines and wooded enclosures. It was thought by some that he was unnecessarily anxious and careful, for he rode several times over the ground; but the next morning proved how right he was to leave nothing to chance.

While we were at breakfast, information was brought in that the enemy were advancing in force, and directly afterwards half a dozen round shot were sent into our camp; the troops fell in, the Infantry[Page 222] moved out, and Hope Grant took the Horse Artillery and Cavalry to our right flank, where the mutineers were collected in considerable numbers. In less than an hour we had driven them off, but we were not allowed to follow them up, as Outram did not wish to get entangled in the suburbs until heavy guns had arrived. The piquets were strengthened and pushed forward, affording another opportunity for a useful lesson in outpost duty.

All that day and the next I accompanied my General in his reconnaissance of the enemy's position, as well as of the ground near the Gumti, in order to determine where the heavy guns could best be placed, so as effectually to enfilade the enemy's first line of defences along the bank of the canal. On returning to report progress to Outram at mid-day on the 8th, we found Sir Colin Campbell and Mansfield with him, arranging for a joint attack the following day; after their consultation was over, they all rode with us to see the site Hope Grant had selected for the battery. It was a slightly elevated piece of ground about half a mile north of the Kokrel nulla, fairly concealed by a bend of the river; but before it could be made use of it was considered necessary to clear the rebels out of the position they were occupying between the nulla and the iron bridge, the key to which was the Chakar Kothi, and Outram was directed to attack this point the next morning.

At 2 a.m. on the 9th the heavy guns, escorted by the 1st Bengal Fusiliers, were sent forward to within 600 yards of the enemy. The troops then moved off in two parties, that on the right being commanded by Hope Grant. We marched along the Fyzabad road, the two Rifle Brigade battalions leading the way in skirmishing order, with the Cavalry well away to the right. The rebels retired as we advanced, and Walpole, commanding one of our brigades, by wheeling to his left on reaching the opposite bank of the nulla, was enabled to enfilade their position. The column was then halted, and I was sent to inform Outram as to our progress.

When I had delivered my message, and was about to return, Outram desired me to stay with him until the capture of the Chakar Kothi (which he was just about to attempt) should be accomplished, that I might then convey to Hope Grant his orders as to what further action would be required of him; meanwhile Outram sent a messenger to tell my General what he was about to do, in view of his co-operating on the right.8

Capture of the Chakar Kothi The Chakar Kothi was attacked and taken, and the enemy, apparently[Page 223] having lost heart, fled precipitately. One of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers' colours was placed on the top of this three-storied building by Ensign Jervis to show the Commander-in-Chief that it was in our possession, and that the time had come for him to attack the first line of the enemy's defences. We then continued our advance to the river, where the parties united, and I rejoined Hope Grant.

It was now only 2 p.m., and there was plenty of time to place the heavy guns in position before dark. Major Lothian Nicholson,9 Outram's Commanding Engineer, was superintending this operation, when he thought he perceived that the enemy had abandoned their first line, but he could not be quite sure. It was most necessary to ascertain for certain whether this was the case, as the Infantry of Hope's brigade, which had attacked and driven the rebels out of the Martinière, could be seen preparing to assault the works at the other side of the river. A discussion ensued as to how this knowledge could be obtained, and a young subaltern of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers, named Butler,10 offered to swim across the Gumti, and, if he found the enemy had retired, to communicate the fact to Hope's men. This feat was successfully accomplished by the plucky young volunteer; he found the enemy had retired, and, on giving the information to Hope, the brigade advanced, and before nightfall the whole of the enemy's first line was in our possession—a success which had been achieved with but slight loss to us, the chief casualty during the day being William Peel, the gallant Commander of the Naval Brigade, who had been seriously wounded while in command of a battery near the Dilkusha.

The next day, the 10th, Outram's camp was moved close up to the Gumti, and batteries were constructed from which fire could be poured on the mess-house and the Kaisarbagh. For the protection of these works, and to prevent an attack in force being made on the main part of the column, Hope Grant kept moving about with the Horse Artillery and Cavalry between the river and the Sitapur road, our reconnaissance extending beyond the old cantonment. We had several little fights, in one of which a very promising officer named Sandford, who had succeeded Younghusband in command of the 5th Punjab Cavalry squadron, was killed.

Capture of the Iron Bridge At daybreak on the morning of the 11th the batteries opened fire on the enemy's second line of defence; at the same time Outram himself led a strong body of Infantry along the river with the object of securing the approaches to the bridges. On reaching the Fyzabad road, about half a mile from the iron bridge, Outram placed the 1st Bengal Fusiliers in a mosque, with orders to entrench themselves and hold the post, while he pushed on to the stone bridge about a mile away. Outram's[Page 224] advance was covered by Hope Grant's Horse Artillery and Cavalry, but we had to keep at some distance away to the right, in order to avoid houses and walled enclosures. Soon after crossing the Sitapur road we heard guns to our left, and proceeding at a smart trot, came up with Outram just as he was about to attack a large body of the rebels, who, finding themselves in an awkward position, with the river in their rear and their retreat by the iron bridge cut off, made but a feeble resistance before they broke and fled. Some few escaped by the stone bridge, but the greater number, including the whole of the mutinous 15th Irregular Cavalry, made for the old cantonment. We pursued with our Cavalry, and very few of them got away. A couple of guns and a quantity of plunder were left behind by the enemy, who evidently had not expected us and were quite unprepared for our attack. Outram pushed on to the stone bridge, but finding he was losing men from the fire poured upon us by the rebels from the opposite side of the river, he fell back to the mosque where he had left the Fusiliers.

That afternoon, as there was nothing particular for the Cavalry to do, the General, Anson, and I rode across the river to see how matters were progressing on the left of the attack. We reached the Head-Quarters camp just as Sir Colin was about to receive a visit of ceremony from the Nepalese General, the famous Jung Bahadur. Our old Chief, in honour of the occasion, had doffed his usual workman-like costume, and wore General's full-dress uniform, but he was quite thrown into the shade by the splendour of the Gurkha Prince, who was most gorgeously attired, with magnificent jewels in his turban, round his neck, and on his coat.

I looked at Jung Bahadur with no small interest, for his deeds of daring had made him conspicuous amongst probably the bravest race of men in the world, and the fact that a high-born Hindu, such as he was, should, fifty years ago, have so far risen superior to caste prejudice as to cross the sea and visit England, proved him to be a man of unusually strong and independent mind. He was about five feet eight inches high—tall for a Gurkha—with a well-knit, wiry figure, a keen, dauntless eye, and a firm, determined mouth—in every respect a typical, well-bred Nepalese. The interview did not last long, for Sir Colin disliked ceremonial, and, shortly after the Nepalese Prince had taken his seat, news was brought in that the assault on the Begum Kothi had been successfully completed, upon which Sir Colin made the necessity for attending to business an excuse for taking leave of his distinguished visitor, and the interview came to an end.

Hodson Mortallly Wounded I then obtained leave to go to the scene of the recent fight, and, galloping across the canal by the bridge near Banks's house, soon found myself at the Begum Kothi. There I was obliged to dismount, for even on foot it was a difficult matter to scramble over the breach.[Page 225] The place was most formidable, and it was a marvel that it had been taken with comparatively so little loss on our side. The bodies of a number of Highlanders and Punjabis were lying about, and a good many wounded men were being attended to, but our casualties were nothing in proportion to those of the enemy, 600 or 700 of whom were buried the next day in the ditch they had themselves dug for their own protection. A very determined stand had been made by the sepoys when they found there was no chance of getting away. There were many tales of hair-breadth escapes and desperate struggles, and on all sides I hoard laments that Hodson should have been one of those dangerously, if not mortally, wounded in the strife. Hodson had been carried to Banks's house, and to the inquiry I made on my way back to camp, as to his condition, the answer was, 'Little, if any, hope.'

A great stride in the advance had been made on this day. Outram had accomplished all that was expected of him, and he was now busy constructing additional batteries for the bombardment of the Kaisarbagh; while Lugard,11 from his newly-acquired position at the Begum Kothi, was also able to bring fire to bear upon that doomed palace.

Hodson died the following day (the 12th). As a soldier, I had a very great admiration, for him, and, in common with the whole army, I mourned his early death.12

On the 13th Lugard's division was relieved by Franks's, and to Jung Bahadur and his Gurkhas, only too eager for the fray, was entrusted the conduct of operations along the line of the canal between Banks's house and the Charbagh bridge. On our side of the river nothing of importance occurred.

The capture of the Imambara (a mosque situated between the Begum[Page 226] Kothi and the Kaisarbagh) was accomplished early next morning. The assault was led by Brasyer's Sikhs and a detachment of the 10th Foot, supported by the remainder of that regiment and the 90th Light Infantry. After a short but very severe struggle, the enemy were forced to retire, and were so closely pursued that the storming party suddenly found themselves in a building immediately overlooking the Kaisarbagh.

It had not been intended to advance that day beyond the Imambara, but, recognizing the advantage of the position thus gained, and the demoralized condition of the rebels, Franks wisely determined to follow up his success. Reinforcements were hurried forward, the troops holding the Sikandarbagh and the Shah Najaf were ordered to act in concert, and before nightfall the Kaisarbagh, the mess-house, and the numerous buildings situated between those places and the Residency, were in our possession.

Outram's Soldierly Instinct

A Lost Opportunity
By means of the field telegraph, Outram was kept accurately informed as to the movements of Franks's division, and he could have afforded it valuable assistance had he been allowed to cross the Gumti with his three brigades of Infantry. Outram, with his soldierly instinct, felt that this was the proper course to pursue; but in reply to his request to be allowed to push over the river by the iron bridge, he received from the Commander-in-Chief through Mansfield the unaccountably strange order that he must not attempt it, if it would entail his losing 'a single man.' Thus a grand opportunity was lost. The bridge, no doubt, was strongly held, but with the numerous guns which Outram could have brought to bear upon its defenders its passage could have been forced without serious loss; the enemy's retreat would have been cut off, and Franks's victory would have been rendered complete, which it certainly was not, owing to Outram's hands having been so effectually tied.

Lucknow was practically in our hands on the evening of the 14th March, but the rebels escaped with comparatively slight punishment, and the campaign, which should have then come to an end, was protracted for nearly a year by the fugitives spreading themselves over Oudh, and occupying forts and other strong positions, from which they were able to offer resistance to our troops until towards the end of May, 1859, thus causing the needless loss of thousands of British soldiers.13 Sir Colin saw his mistake when too late. The next day orders were issued for the Cavalry to follow up the mutineers, who were understood to have fled in a northerly direction. One brigade under Campbell (the Colonel of the Bays) was directed to proceed to Sandila, and another, under Hope Grant, towards Sitapur. But the[Page 227] enemy was not seen by either. As usual, they had scattered themselves over the country and entirely disappeared, and many of the rebels who still remained in the city seized the opportunity of the Cavalry being absent to get away.

Outram's command on the left bank of the Gumti was now broken up, with the view to his completing the occupation of the city. Accordingly, on the 16th, he advanced from the Kaisarbagh with Douglas's brigade14 and Middleton's battery, supported by the 20th Foot and Brasyer's Sikhs, and occupied in quick succession, and with but slight resistance, the Residency, the Machi Bhawan, and the great Imambara, thus taking in reverse the defences which had been thrown up by the enemy for the protection of the two bridges. As Outram pushed on, the rebels retreated, some across the stone bridge towards Fyzabad, and some through the city towards the Musabagh. They made two attacks to cover their retirement, one on Walpole's piquets, which enabled a large number (20,000 it was said) to get away in the Fyzabad direction, and another on the Alambagh, which was much more serious, for the garrison had been reduced to less than a thousand men, and the rebels' force was considerable, consisting of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery. They attacked with great determination, and fought for four hours and a half before they were driven off.

It was not a judicious move on Sir Colin's part to send the Cavalry miles away from Lucknow just when they could have been so usefully employed on the outskirts of the city. This was also appreciated when too late, and both brigades were ordered to return, which they did on the 17th. Even then the Cavalry were not made full use of, for instead of both brigades being collected on the Lucknow bank of the river, which was now the sole line of retreat left open to the enemy (the bridges being in our possession), one only (Campbell's) was sent there, Hope Grant being directed to take up his old position on the opposite side of the Gumti, from which we had the mortification of watching the rebels streaming into the open country from the Musabagh, without the smallest attempt being made by Campbell to stop or pursue them. His brigade had been placed on the enemy's line of retreat on purpose to intercept them, but he completely failed to do what was expected of him. We, on our side, could do nothing, for an unfordable river flowed between us and the escaping mutineers.15

There was one more fight in Lucknow. The Moulvie16 of Fyzabad[Page 228] (who from the first was one of the prominent leaders of the rebellion) had returned at the head of a considerable force, and had placed himself in a strongly-fortified position in the very centre of the city. It was not without a severe struggle that he was dislodged by the 93rd Highlanders and 4th Punjab Infantry under Lugard. The brunt of the fighting fell upon the last-named regiment, the gallant Commander (Wilde) of which, and his second in command,17 were severely wounded. The Moulvie made his escape, but his followers were pursued, and many of them were cut up. Thus at last the city was cleared of rebels, and we were once more masters in Lucknow.

On the 22nd March Hope Grant was ordered to proceed to Kursi, a small town about twenty-five miles off between the Sitapur and Fyzabad roads, reported to be occupied in force by the enemy.

We started at midnight with a brigade of Infantry, 1,000 Cavalry, two troops of Horse Artillery, and eight heavy guns and mortars. We were delayed some hours by the heavy guns and their escort (the 53rd Foot) taking a wrong turn when leaving the city, which resulted in the enemy being warned of our approach in time to clear out before we arrived.

Death of MacDonnell

Sam Browne
On hearing they had gone, Hope Grant pushed on with the mounted portion of the force, and we soon came in sight of the enemy in full retreat. The Cavalry, commanded by Captain Browne,18 was ordered to pursue. It consisted of Browne's own regiment (the 2nd Punjab Cavalry), a squadron of the 1st Punjab Cavalry under Captain Cosserat, and three Horse Artillery guns. At the end of two miles, Browne came upon a body of the mutineers formed up on an open plain. The Cavalry charged through them three times, each time thinning their[Page 229] ranks considerably, but they never wavered, and in the final charge avenged themselves by killing Macdonnell (the Adjutant of the 2nd Punjab Cavalry), and mortally wounding Cosserat. I arrived on the ground with Hope Grant just in time to witness the last charge and the fall of these two officers, and deplorable as we felt their loss to be, it was impossible not to admire the gallantry and steadiness of the sepoys, every one of whom fought to the death.

[plate 13]



a photograph by Messrs. Elliot and Fry.

As soon as Browne could got his men together, the pursuit of the enemy was continued; no further opposition was met with, and fourteen guns fell into our hands.

On the 24th we retraced our steps, halting for the night at the old cantonment of Muriao, where we buried poor Macdonnell. On the 25th we crossed the Gumti, and pitched our camp near the Dilkusha.

Lucknow was now completely in our possession, and our success had been achieved with remarkably slight loss, a result which was chiefly due to the scientific manner in which the siege operations had been carried on under the direction of our talented Chief Engineer, Robert Napier, ably assisted by Colonel Harness; and also to the good use which Sir Colin Campbell made of his powerful force of Artillery. Our casualties during the siege amounted to only 16 British officers, 3 Native officers, and 108 men killed; 51 British officers, 4 Native officers, and 540 men wounded, while 13 men were unaccounted for.

The capture of Lucknow, though not of such supreme importance in its consequences as the taking of Delhi, must have convinced the rebels that their cause was now hopeless. It is true that Jhansi had not yet fallen, and that the rest of Oudh, Rohilkand, and the greater part of Central India remained to be conquered, but there was no very important city in the hands of the enemy, and the subjugation of the country was felt to be merely a matter of time. Sir Hugh Rose, after a brilliant campaign, had arrived before Jhansi, columns of our troops were traversing the country in every direction, and the British Army had been so largely increased that, on the 1st of April, 1858, there were 96,000 British soldiers in India, besides a large body of reliable Native troops, some of whom, although hurriedly raised, had already shown that they were capable of doing good service—a very different state of affairs from that which prevailed six months before.

Start for England For some time I had been feeling the ill effects of exposure to the climate and hard work, and the doctor, Campbell Browne, had been urging me to go on the sick-list; that, of course, was out of the question until Lucknow had fallen. Now, however, I placed myself in Browne's hands, hoping that a change to the Hills was all that was needed to set me up; but the doctors insisted on a trip to England. It was a heavy blow to me to have to leave while there was still work to be done, but I had less hesitation than I should have had if most of my own immediate friends had not already gone. Several had been [Page 230] killed, others had left sick or wounded; Watson had gone to Lahore, busily engaged in raising a regiment of Cavalry;19 Probyn was on his way home, invalided; Hugh Gough had gone to the Hills to recover from his wounds; and Norman and Stewart were about to leave Lucknow with Army Head-Quarters.

On the 1st April, the sixth anniversary of my arrival in India, I made over my office to Wolseley, who succeeded me as Deputy-Assistant-Quartermaster-General on Hope Grant's staff, and towards the middle of the month I left Lucknow.

The Commander-in-Chief was most kind and complimentary when I took leave of him, and told me that, in consideration of my services, he would bestow upon me the first permanent vacancy in the Quartermaster-General's Department, and that he intended to recommend that I should be given the rank of Brevet-Major so soon as I should be qualified by becoming a regimental Captain. I was, of course, much gratified by his appreciative words and kindly manner; but the brevet seemed a long way off, for I had only been a First Lieutenant for less than a year, and there were more than a hundred officers in the Bengal Artillery senior to me in that rank!

Death of Sir William Peel I marched to Cawnpore with Army Head-Quarters. Sir William Peel, who was slowly recovering from his wound, was of the party. We reached Cawnpore on the 17th, and the next day I said good-bye to my friends on the Chief's staff. Peel and I dined together on the 19th, when to all appearances he was perfectly well, but on going into his room the next morning I found he was in a high fever, and had some suspicious-looking spots about his face. I went off at once in search of a doctor, and soon returned with one of the surgeons of the 5th Fusiliers, who, to my horror—for I had observed that Peel was nervous about himself—exclaimed with brutal frankness the moment he entered the room, 'You have got small-pox.' It was only too true. On being convinced that this was the case, I went to the chaplain, the Rev. Thomas Moore, and told him of Peel's condition. Without an instant's hesitation, he decided the invalid must come to his house to be taken care of. That afternoon I had the poor fellow carried over, and there I left him in the kind hands of Mrs. Moore, the padre's wife, who had, as a special case, been allowed to accompany her husband to Cawnpore. Peel died on the 27th. On the 4th May I embarked at Calcutta in the P. and O. steamer Nubia, without, alas! the friend whose pleasant companionship I had hoped to have enjoyed on the voyage.

[map 5]

Click map to enlarge


[Page 231]


What Brought About the Mutiny?

'What brought about the Mutiny?' and 'Is there any chance of a similar rising occurring again?' are questions which are constantly being put to me; I will now endeavour to answer them, though it is not a very easy task—for I feel that my book will be rendered more interesting and complete to many if I endeavour to give them some idea of the circumstances which, in my opinion, led to that calamitous crisis in the history of our rule in India, and then try to show how I think a repetition of such a disaster may best be guarded against.

The causes which brought about the Mutiny were so various, and some of them of such long standing, that it is difficult to point them out as concisely as I could wish; but I will be as brief as possible.

During the first years of our supremacy in India, Hindus and Mahomedans alike were disposed to acquiesce in our rule—the blessings of rest and peace after a long reign of strife and anarchy were too real not to be appreciated; but as time went by, a new generation sprang up by whom past miseries were forgotten, and those who had real grievances, or those who were causelessly discontented, were all ready to lay the blame for their real or fancied troubles on their foreign rulers. Mahomedans looked back to the days of their Empire in India, but failed to remember how completely, until we broke the Mahratta power, the Hindus had got the upper hand. Their Moulvies taught them that it was only lawful for true Mussulmans to submit to the rule of an infidel if there was no possibility of successful revolt, and they watched for the chance of again being able to make Islam supreme. The Hindus had not forgotten that they had ousted the Mahomedans, and they fancied that the fate of the British raj might also be at their mercy.

The late Sir George Campbell, in his interesting memoirs, says: 'The Mutiny was a sepoy revolt, not a Hindu rebellion.' I do not altogether agree with him; for, although there was no general rising of the rural population, the revolt, in my judgment, would never have taken place had there not been a feeling of discontent and disquiet throughout that part of the country from which our Hindustani sepoys chiefly came, and had not certain influential people been thoroughly dissatisfied with our system of government. This discontent and dissatisfaction were produced by a policy which, in many instances, the Rulers of India were powerless to avoid or postpone, forced upon them as it was by the demands of civilization and the necessity for a more enlightened legislation. Intriguers took advantage of this state of affairs to further their own ends. Their plan of action was to alienate the Native army, and to increase the general feeling of uneasiness and suspicion, by spreading false reports as to the intentions of the authorities in regard to the various measures which had been adopted to promote the welfare[Page 232] and prosperity of the masses. It can hardly be questioned that these measures were right and proper in themselves, but they were on that account none the less obnoxious to the Brahmin priesthood, or distasteful to the Natives generally. In some cases also they were premature, and in others they were not carried out as judiciously as they might have been, or with sufficient regard to the feelings and prejudices of the people.

The prohibition of sati (burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands); the putting a stop to female infanticide; the execution of Brahmins for capital offences; the efforts of missionaries and the protection of their converts; the removal of all legal obstacles to the remarriage of widows; the spread of western and secular education generally; and, more particularly, the attempt to introduce female education, were causes of alarm and disgust to the Brahmins, and to those Hindus of high caste whose social privileges were connected with the Brahminical religion. Those arbiters of fate, who were until then all-powerful to control every act of their co-religionists, social, religious or political, were quick to perceive that their influence was menaced, and that their sway would in time be wrested from them, unless they could devise some means for overthrowing our Government. They knew full well that the groundwork of this influence was ignorance and superstition, and they stood aghast at what they foresaw would be the inevitable result of enlightenment and progress. Railways and telegraphs were specially distasteful to the Brahmins: these evidences of ability and strength were too tangible to be pooh-poohed or explained away. Moreover, railways struck a direct blow at the system of caste, for on them people of every caste, high and low, were bound to travel together.

The fears and antagonism of the Brahmins being thus aroused, it was natural that they should wish to see our rule upset, and they proceeded to poison the minds of the people with tales of the Government's determination to force Christianity upon them, and to make them believe that the continuance of our power meant the destruction of all they held most sacred.

Religious Fears of the People Nor was opportunity wanting to confirm, apparently, the truth of their assertions. In the gaols a system of messing had been established which interfered with the time-honoured custom of every man being allowed to provide and cook his own food. This innovation was most properly introduced as a matter of gaol discipline, and due care was taken that the food of the Hindu prisoners should be prepared by cooks of the same or superior caste. Nevertheless, false reports were disseminated, and the credulous Hindu population was led to believe that the prisoners' food was in future to be prepared by men of inferior caste, with the object of defiling and degrading those for whom it was prepared. The news of what was supposed to have happened in the[Page 233] gaols spread from town to town and from village to village, the belief gradually gaining ground that the people were about to be forced to embrace Christianity.

As the promiscuous messing story did not greatly concern the Mahomedans, other cries were made use of to create suspicion and distrust amongst the followers of the Prophet. One of these, which equally affected the Hindu and Mahomedan, was the alleged unfairness of what was known in India as the land settlement, under which system the right and title of each landholder to his property was examined, and the amount of revenue to be paid by him to the paramount Power, as owner of the soil, was regulated.

The rapid acquisition of territory by the East India Company, and the establishment of its supremacy as the sovereign Power throughout India, were necessarily effected by military operations; but as peace and order were established, the system of land revenue, which had been enforced in an extremely oppressive and corrupt manner under successive Native Rulers and dynasties, had to be investigated and revised. With this object in view, surveys were made, and inquiries instituted into the rights of ownership and occupancy, the result being that in many cases it was found that families of position and influence had either appropriated the property of their humbler neighbours, or evaded an assessment proportionate to the value of their estates. Although these inquiries were carried out with the best intentions, they were extremely distasteful to the higher classes, while they failed to conciliate the masses. The ruling families deeply resented our endeavours to introduce an equitable determination of rights and assessment of land revenue. They saw that it would put an end to the system of pillage and extortion which had been practised from time immemorial; they felt that their authority was being diminished, and that they would no longer be permitted to govern their estates in the same despotic manner as formerly. On the other hand, although the agricultural population generally benefited materially by our rule, they could not realize the benevolent intentions of a Government which tried to elevate their position and improve their prospects. Moreover, there were no doubt mistakes made in the valuation of land, some of it being assessed at too high a rate, while the revenue was sometimes collected in too rigid a manner, sufficient allowance not being made for the failure of crops. Then the harsh law for the sale of proprietary rights in land to realize arrears of land-tax was often enforced by careless revenue authorities in far too summary a manner. The peasantry of India were, and still are, ignorant and apathetic. Accustomed from the earliest days to spoliation and oppression, and to a periodical change of masters, they had some reason to doubt whether the rule of the Feringhis would be more permanent than that of the Moghuls or the Mahrattas. Much as a just and tolerant Government would[Page 234] have been to their advantage, they were unable to appreciate it, and if they had appreciated it, they were too timid and too wanting in organization to give it their open support. Under these social and political conditions, the passive attitude of the rural population failed to counterbalance the active hostility of a large section of the upper classes, and of their predatory followers, who for centuries had lived by plunder and civil war.

Another weighty cause of discontent, chiefly affecting the wealthy and influential classes, and giving colour to the Brahmins' accusation that we intended to upset the religion and violate the most cherished customs of the Hindus, was Lord Dalhousie's strict enforcement of the doctrine of the lapse of property in the absence of direct or collateral heirs, and the consequent appropriation of certain Native States, and the resumption of certain political pensions by the Government of India. This was condemned by the people of India as grasping, and as an unjustifiable interference with the institutions of the country, and undoubtedly made us many enemies.1

The Annexation of Oudh Later on, the annexation of Oudh, which was one of those measures forced on the Rulers of India in the interests of humanity and good government, and which could hardly have been longer delayed, created suspicion and apprehension amongst all the Native States. For more than sixty years Governor-General after Governor-General had pointed out the impossibility of a civilized Government tolerating in the midst of its possessions the misrule, disorder, and debauchery which were desolating one of the most fertile and thickly-populated districts in India.

As early as 1801 Lord Wellesley wrote: 'I am satisfied that no effectual security can be provided against the ruin of the province of Oudh until the exclusive management of the civil and military government of that country shall be transferred to the Company under[Page 235] suitable provisions for the Nawab and his family.'

In 1831 Lord William Bentinck warned the King of Oudh that, unless he would consent to rule his territories in accordance with the principles of good government and the interest of the people, the East India Company would assume the entire administration of the province, and would make him a state prisoner.

In 1847 Lord Hardinge went in person to Lucknow and solemnly reiterated the warning, giving the King two years to reform his administration.

In 1851 Colonel Sleeman, the Resident at Lucknow, whose sympathy with the Rulers of Native States was thought to be even too great, and who was the last person to exaggerate the misrule existing in Oudh, reported to Lord Dalhousie that the state of things had become intolerable, and that, if our troops were withdrawn from Oudh, the landholders would in one month's time overrun the province and pillage Lucknow. It is true Sleeman, with his Native proclivities, did not contemplate annexation; his advice was to 'assume the administration,' but not to 'grasp the revenues of the country.' The same mode of procedure had been advocated by Henry Lawrence six years before in an article which appeared in the Calcutta Review. His words were: 'Let Oudh be at last governed, not for one man, the King, but for the King and his people. Let the administration of the country be Native; let not one rupee come into the Company's coffers.'

Sleeman was followed in 1854 by Colonel Outram, than whom he could not have had a more admirable successor, or one less likely to be unnecessarily hard upon a State which, with all its shortcomings, had been loyal to us for nearly a century. Colonel Outram, nevertheless, fully endorsed the views of his predecessor. General Low, the then Military Member of Council, who twenty years before, when Resident at Lucknow, had deprecated our assuming even temporarily the administration of Oudh, thinking our action would be misunderstood by the people, now also stated his conviction that 'it was the paramount duty of the British Government to interfere at once for the protection of the people of Oudh.'

In summing up the case, Lord Dalhousie laid three possible courses of action before the authorities in England. The King of Oudh might be forced to abdicate, his province being incorporated in the British dominions; or he might be maintained in his royal state as a subsidized Prince, the actual government being permanently transferred to the East India Company; or the transfer of the government to the East India Company might be for a limited period only. The Governor-General recommended the second course, but the Court of Directors and Her Majesty's Ministers decided to adopt the first, and requested Lord Dalhousie to carry out the annexation before he resigned his office.

This measure, so long deferred and so carefully considered, could[Page 236] hardly, in my opinion, have been avoided by a civilized and civilizing Government. It was at last adopted with the utmost reluctance, and only after the experiment of administering a province for the benefit of the Natives, without annexing it, had been tried in the Punjab and had signally failed. To use Lord Dalhousie's words, it was amply justified on the ground that 'the British Government would be guilty in the sight of God and man if it were any longer to aid in sustaining by its countenance an administration fraught with suffering to millions.' But the Natives generally could not understand the necessity for the measure, or believe in the reasons which influenced us; many of them, therefore, considered it an unprovoked usurpation, and each Ruler of a Native State imagined that his turn might come next.

Fulfilment of Malcolm's Prophesy Thus, the annexation of Oudh in one sense augmented that weakness in our position as an eastern Power which, so to speak, had its source in our strength. So long as there was a balance of power between ourselves and Native States—Mahratta, Rajput, Sikh, or Mahomedan—they were prevented by their mutual jealousies and religious differences from combining against us; but when that balance was destroyed and we became the paramount Power in India, the period of danger to us began, as was prophesied by the far-seeing Malcolm in the early days of our first conquests. We had now become objects of suspicion and dread to all the lesser Powers, who were ready to sink their own disputes in the consideration of the best means to check the extension of our rule and overthrow our supremacy; while we, inflated by our power and satisfied with our apparent security, became more dogmatic and uncompromising in enforcing principles which, though sound and just in themselves, were antipathetic to Native ideas and traditions. By a great many acts and measures we made them feel how completely our ideas differed from theirs. They preferred their own, and strongly resented our increasing efforts to impose ours upon them. Even those amongst the Native Princes who were too enlightened to believe that we intended to force our religion upon them and change all their customs, felt that their power was now merely nominal, and that every substantial attribute of sovereignty would soon disappear if our notions of progress continued to be enforced.

At a time when throughout the country there existed these feelings of dissatisfaction and restless suspicion, it was not to be expected that the most discontented and unfriendly of the Native Rulers would not seize the opportunity to work us mischief. The most prominent of these amongst the Mahomedans were the royal family of Delhi and the ex-King of Oudh, and, amongst the Hindus, Dundu Pant, better known by English people as the 'Nana Sahib.'

All three considered themselves badly treated, and no doubt, from their point of view, their grievances were not altogether groundless. The King of Oudh's I have already indicated, and when his province[Page 237] was annexed, he was removed to Calcutta. Having refused the yearly pension of twelve lakhs2 of rupees offered to him, and declined to sign the treaty by which his territory was made over to the British Government, he sent his mother, his son, and his brother to England to plead his cause for him.

The Delhi Royal Family The most influential of the three discontented Rulers, or, at all events, the one whom the rebellious of all castes and religions were most inclined to put forward as their nominal leader, was the head of the Delhi royal family, by name Bahadur Shah. He was eighty years old in 1857, and had been on the throne for twenty years. His particular grievance lay in the fact of our decision that on his death the title of King, which we had bestowed on the successors of the Moghul Emperor, should be abolished, and his family removed from Delhi.

In the early part of the century Lord Wellesley pointed out the danger of allowing a Mahomedan Prince, with all the surroundings of royalty, to remain at the seat of the old Moghul government, but the question was allowed to remain in abeyance until 1849, when Lord Dalhousie reconsidered it, and obtained the sanction of the authorities in England to the removal of the Court from Delhi to a place about fourteen miles off, where the Kutub tower stands. At the same time the Heir Apparent was to be told that on his father's death the title of King of Delhi would cease.

Lord Dalhousie had been only a short time in India when he took up this question, and he could not properly have appreciated the estimation in which the Natives held the King of Delhi, for he wrote in support of his proposals 'that the Princes of India and its people had become entirely indifferent to the condition of the King or his position.' But when the decision of the British Government on the subject reached India, he had been more than two years in the country, and although his views as to the desirability of the measure remained unchanged, the experience he had gained enabled him to gauge more accurately the feelings of the people, and, with the advice of his Council, he came to the conclusion that it would be wiser to let affairs remain in statu quo during Bahadur Shah's lifetime. The royal family were informed accordingly, and an agreement was drawn up, signed, sealed, and witnessed, by which the Heir Apparent accepted the conditions to be imposed upon him on the death of his father, who was to be allowed to remain in Delhi during his lifetime, with all the paraphernalia of royalty.

However satisfactory this arrangement might be to the Government of India, to every member of the Delhi royal family it must have seemed oppressive and humiliating to the last degree. Outwardly they appeared to accept the inevitable quietly and submissively, but[Page 238] they were only biding their time, and longing for an opportunity to throw off the hated English yoke. The war with Persia in 1856 seemed to offer the chance they wanted. On the pretence that the independence of Herat was threatened by the Amir of Kabul, the Persians marched an army to besiege that place. As this act was a violation of our treaty with Persia made three years before, Her Majesty's Government directed that an army should be sent from India to the Persian Gulf. The troops had scarcely left Bombay before the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces was warned by a Native correspondent that the King of Delhi was intriguing with the Shah of Persia. At the same time a proclamation was posted on the walls of the Jama Masjid (Shah Jehan's famous mosque at Delhi), to the effect that a Persian army was coming to relieve India from the presence of the English, and calling on all true believers to rise and fight against the heretics. Reports were also diligently circulated of our being defeated on the shores of the Persian Gulf, and the people were made to believe that their opportunity had arrived, and that the time was now favourable for a successful rebellion.

The Nana Sahib Of the three principal movers in the events which immediately preceded the Mutiny, the Nana Sahib was by far the most intelligent, and had mixed most with Europeans. He was the adopted son and heir of the last of the Peshwas, the Chiefs of the Mahratta confederacy. His cause of dissatisfaction was the discontinuance to him of a pension which, at the close of the Mahratta war in 1818, was granted to the Peshwa, on the clear understanding that it was to cease at his death. The Peshwa died in 1851, leaving the Nana an enormous fortune; but he was not content. The lapse of the pension, to which he was not entitled, rankled in his breast, and when all his efforts to get it restored to him proved of no avail, he became thoroughly disgusted and disaffected. After failing to obtain in India a reconsideration of the decision of the Government on the subject, he sent to England as confidential agent a Mahomedan of the name of Azimula Khan, who remained three years in Europe, residing for the most part in London; but he also visited Paris, Constantinople, and the Crimea, arriving at the latter place when we, in alliance with the French, were besieging Sebastopol. He was a man of no rank or position in his own country, a mere agent of the Nana's, but he was received into the best English society, was everywhere treated as a royal Prince, and became engaged to a young English girl, who agreed to follow him to India to be married. All this was revealed by the correspondence to which I have referred as having been found in the Nana's palace of Bithur. The greater number of these letters were from people in England—not a few from ladies of rank and position. One elderly dame called him her dear eastern son. There were numerous letters from his English fiancée, and two from a Frenchman of the name of Lafont,3 relating to some[Page 239] business with the French settlement of Chandernagore, with which he had been entrusted by Azimula Khan, acting for the Nana. Written, as these letters were, immediately before the Mutiny, in which the Nana was the leading spirit, it seems probable that 'les principales choses,' to which Lafont hopes to bring satisfactory answers, were invitations to the disaffected and disloyal in Calcutta, and perhaps the French settlers at Chandernagore, to assist in the effort about to be made to throw off the British yoke. A portion of the correspondence was unopened, and there were several letters in Azimula's own handwriting which had not been despatched. Two of these were to Omar Pasha at Constantinople, and told of the sepoys' discontent and the troubled state of India generally. That the Nana was intriguing with the King of Delhi, the Nawab of Oudh, and other great personages, has been proved beyond a doubt, although at the time he was looked upon by the British residents at Cawnpore as a perfectly harmless individual, in spite of its being known that he considered himself aggrieved on account of his having been refused the continuance of the[Page 240] pension, and because a salute of guns (such as it is the custom to give to Native Princes on entering British territory) had not been accorded to him.

The Native Army While the spirit of rebellion was thus being fostered and stirred into active existence throughout the country, it was hardly to be hoped that the Native army would be allowed to remain unaffected by a movement which could not easily attain formidable proportions without the assistance of the Native soldiers, who themselves, moreover, had not remained unmoved spectators of all that had happened during the previous thirty or forty years. The great majority of the sepoys were drawn from the agricultural classes, especially in the province of Oudh, and were therefore directly interested in all questions connected with rights of property, tenure of land, etc.; and questions of religion and caste affected them equally with the rest of the population.

Greased Cartridges Quietly, but surely, the instigators of rebellion were preparing the Native army for revolt. The greatest cunning and circumspection were, however, necessary to success. There were so many opposing interests to be dealt with, Mahomedans and Hindus being as violently hostile to each other, with regard to religion and customs, as they were to us. Soldiers, too, of all ranks had a great stake in their profession. Some had nearly served their time for their pensions, that greatest of all attractions to the Native to enter the army, for the youngest recruit feels that, if he serves long enough, he is sure of an income sufficient to enable him to sit in the sun and do nothing for the rest of his days—a Native's idea of supreme happiness. The enemies of our rule generally, and the fanatic in particular, were, however, equal to the occasion. They took advantage of the widespread discontent to establish the belief that a systematic attack was to be made on the faith and habits of the people, whether Hindu or Mahomedan, and, as a proof of the truth of their assertions, they alleged that the Enfield cartridges which had been recently issued to the army were greased with a mixture of cows' fat and lard, the one being as obnoxious to the Hindu as the other is to the Mahomedan. The news spread throughout the Bengal Presidency; the sepoys became alarmed, and determined to suffer any punishment rather than pollute themselves by biting the contaminating cartridge, as their doing so would involve loss of caste, which to the Hindu sepoy meant the loss of everything to him most dear and sacred in this world and the next. He and his family would become outcasts, his friends and relations would look on him with horror and disgust, while eternal misery, he believed, would be his doom in the world to come.

It has been made quite clear that a general belief existed amongst the Hindustani sepoys that the destruction of their caste and religion had been finally resolved upon by the English, as a means of forcing them to become Christians, and it seems extraordinary that the English officers with Native regiments were so little aware of the strength of this[Page 241] impression amongst their men.

The recent researches of Mr. Forrest in the records of the Government of India prove that the lubricating mixture used in preparing the cartridges was actually composed of the objectionable ingredients, cows' fat and lard, and that incredible disregard of the soldiers' religious prejudices was displayed in the manufacture of these cartridges. When the sepoys complained that to bite them would destroy their caste, they were solemnly assured by their officers that they had been greased with a perfectly unobjectionable mixture. These officers, understanding, as all who have come in contact with Natives are supposed to understand, their intense abhorrence of touching the flesh or fat of the sacred cow or the unclean pig, did not believe it possible that the authorities could have been so regardless of the sepoys' feelings as to have allowed it to be used in preparing their ammunition: they therefore made this statement in perfect good faith. But nothing was easier than for the men belonging to the regiments quartered near Calcutta to ascertain, from the low-caste Native workmen employed in manufacturing the cartridges at the Fort William arsenal, that the assurances of their officers were not in accordance with facts, and they were thus prepared to credit the fables which the sedition-mongers so sedulously spread abroad, to the effect that the Government they served and the officers who commanded them had entered into a deliberate conspiracy to undermine their religion.

Limited Number of British Troops Notwithstanding all the evil influence brought to bear on the Native army, I do not think that the sepoys would have proved such ready instruments in the hands of the civilian intriguers, had that army been organized, disciplined, and officered in a satisfactory manner, and had there been a sufficient proportion of British troops in India at the time. To the great preponderance of Native, as compared with British, troops may be attributed the fact that the sepoys dared to break into open mutiny. Moreover, the belief of the Natives in the invincibility of the British soldier, which formerly enabled small numbers of Europeans to gain victories over large Native armies, had been seriously weakened by the lamentable occurrences at Kabul during the first Afghan war, terminating in the disastrous retreat in the winter of 1841-42.

To add to the exalted idea the sepoys were beginning to entertain of their own importance, they were pampered by their officers and the civil Government to a most absurd extent, being treated under all circumstances with far greater consideration than the European soldiers. For instance, in the time of Lord William Bentinck flogging was abolished in the Native army,4 while still in full swing amongst British soldiers, and sepoys were actually allowed to witness the[Page 242] humiliation of their white comrades when this degrading form of punishment was inflicted upon them.

In the early days of our connexion with India, we had no need for an army. Living, as we were, on sufferance in a foreign land for commercial purposes, armed men were only required to guard the factories. As these factories increased in size and importance, these armed men were given a semi-military organization, and in time they were formed into levies as a reserve to the few Europeans entertained by the merchants, to enable them to hold their own against the French, who were then beginning to dispute with us for supremacy in southern India. When employed in the field, the Native troops were associated with a varying proportion of British soldiers, but the number of the latter was limited by the expense of their maintenance, the difficulty of supplying them from England, and the unadvisability of locking up a part of the British army in distant stations, which at that time were very inaccessible and generally unhealthy. Native troops were therefore raised in continually increasing numbers, and after the battle of Plassey the Native army was rapidly augmented, especially in the Bengal Presidency; and, trained and led as it was by British officers, it achieved remarkable successes.

During the thirteen years preceding the Mutiny, the Native army, numbering 217,000 men and 176 guns, was increased by 40,000 men and 40 guns, but no addition was made to the small British force of 38,000 until 1853, when one regiment was added to each Presidency, or less than 3,000 soldiers in all. This insignificant augmentation was subsequently more than neutralized by the withdrawal of six British regiments from India to meet the requirements of the Crimean and Persian wars. Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General in 1854, saw the danger of this great preponderance of Native troops. He represented that the annexations and conquests which had taken place during his tenure of office necessitated a proportional increase of British soldiers; he protested against the withdrawal of a single European regiment, either on account of the war with Russia or for operations in the Persian Gulf, and he solemnly warned Her Majesty's Government that the essential element of our strength in India was the presence of a large number of British troops.

No attention, however, was paid to Lord Dalhousie's representations by the authorities in England, who doubtless thought they understood the requirements of India better than the Governor-General, with his more than six years' experience of the country. In spite of his remonstrances, two regiments were ordered to England, and four were sent later to the Persian Gulf, with the result which I have already stated.

When the Mutiny broke out, the whole effective British force in India only amounted to 36,000 men, against 257,000 Native soldiers,5 [Page 243] a fact which was not likely to be overlooked by those who hoped and strived to gain to their own side this preponderance of numerical strength, and which was calculated to inflate the minds of the sepoys with a most undesirable sense of independence. An army of Asiatics, such as we maintain in India, is a faithful servant, but a treacherous master; powerfully influenced by social and religious prejudices with which we are imperfectly acquainted, it requires the most careful handling; above all, it must never be allowed to lose faith in the prestige or supremacy of the governing race. When mercenaries feel that they are indispensable to the maintenance of that authority which they have no patriotic interest in upholding, they begin to consider whether it would not be more to their advantage to aid in overthrowing that authority, and if they decide that it would be, they have little scruple in transferring their allegiance from the Government they never loved, and have ceased to fear, to the power more in accordance with their own ideas, and from which, they are easily persuaded, they will obtain unlimited benefits.

Objection to Foreign Service A fruitful cause of dissatisfaction in our Native army, and one which pressed more heavily upon it year by year, as our acquisitions of territory in northern India became more extended, was the sepoy's liability to service in distant parts of India, entailing upon him a life amongst strangers differing from him in religion and in all their customs, and far away from his home, his family, and his congenial surroundings—a liability which he had never contemplated except in the event of war, when extra pay, free rations and the possibility of loot, would go far to counterbalance the disadvantages of expatriation. Service in Burma, which entailed crossing the sea, and, to the Hindu, consequent loss of caste, was especially distasteful. So great an objection, indeed, had the sepoys to this so-called 'foreign service,' and so difficult did it become to find troops to relieve the regiments, in consequence of the bulk of the Bengal army not being available for service beyond the sea, that the Court of Directors sanctioned Lord Canning's proposal that, after the 1st September, 1856, 'no Native recruit shall be accepted who does not at the time of his enlistment undertake to serve beyond the sea whether within the territories of the Company or beyond them.' This order, though absolutely necessary, caused the greatest dissatisfaction amongst the Hindustani sepoys, who looked upon it as one of the measures introduced by the Sirkar for the forcible, or rather fraudulent, conversion of all the Natives to Christianity.6

Excessive Age of the British Officers That the long-existing discontent and growing disloyalty in our[Page 244] Native army might have been discovered sooner, and grappled with in a sufficiently prompt and determined manner to put a stop to the Mutiny, had the senior regimental and staff officers been younger, more energetic, and intelligent, is an opinion to which I have always been strongly inclined. Their excessive age, due to a strict system of promotion by seniority which entailed the employment of Brigadiers of seventy, Colonels of sixty, and Captains of fifty, must necessarily have prevented them performing their military duties with the energy and activity which are more the attributes of younger men, and must have destroyed any enthusiasm about their regiments, in which there was so little hope of advancement or of individual merit being recognized. Officers who displayed any remarkable ability were allowed to be taken away from their own corps for the more attractive and better-paid appointments appertaining to civil employ or the Irregular service. It was, therefore, the object of every ambitious and capable young officer to secure one of these appointments, and escape as soon as possible from a service in which ability and professional zeal counted for nothing.7

So far as I understand the causes which led to the rebellion of 1857, I have now answered the question, 'What brought about the Mutiny?' The reply to the second question, 'Is there any chance of a similar rising occurring again?' must be left to another chapter.

[Page 245]


The India of to-day is altogether a different country from the India of 1857. Much has been done since then to improve the civil administration, and to meet the legitimate demands of the Native races. India is more tranquil, more prosperous, and more civilized than it was before the Mutiny, and the discipline, efficiency, and mobility of the Native army have been greatly improved. Much, however, still remains to be done, and a good deal might with advantage be undone, to secure the contentment of the Natives with our rule.

Our position has been materially strengthened by the provision of main and subsidiary lines of communication by road and railway; by the great network of telegraphs which now intersects the country; and by the construction of canals. These great public works have largely increased the area of land under cultivation, minimized the risk of famine, equalized the prices of agricultural produce, and developed a large and lucrative export trade. Above all, while our troops can now be assembled easily and rapidly at any centre of disturbance, the number of British soldiers has been more than doubled and the number of Native soldiers has been materially reduced. Moreover, as regards the Native equally with the British army of India, I believe that a better feeling never existed throughout all ranks than exists at present.

Discontent of the Natives Nevertheless, there are signs that the spirit of unrest and discontent which sowed the seeds of the Mutiny is being revived. To some extent this state of things is the natural result of our position in India, and is so far unavoidable, but it is also due to old faults reappearing—faults which require to be carefully watched and guarded against, for it is certain that, however well disposed as soldiers the men in our ranks may be, their attitude will inevitably be influenced by the feelings of the people generally, more especially should their hostility be aroused by any question connected with religion.

For a considerable time after the Mutiny we became more cautious and conciliatory in administrative and legislative matters, more intent on doing what would keep the Chiefs and Rulers satisfied, the masses contented, and the country quiet, than on carrying out our own ideas. Gradually this wholesome caution is being disregarded. The Government has become more and more centralized, and the departmental spirit very strong. Each department, in its laudable wish for progress and advancement, is apt to push on measures which are obnoxious to the Natives, either from their not being properly understood, or from their being opposed to their traditions and habits of life, thus entailing the sacrifice of many cherished customs and privileges. Each department admits in theory the necessity for caution, but in practice presses for liberty of action to further its own particular schemes.

Of late years, too, the tendency has been to increase the number of[Page 246] departments and of secretariat offices under the supreme Government, and this tendency, while causing more work to devolve on the supreme Government than it can efficiently perform, results in lessening the responsibility of provincial Governments by interference in the management of local concerns. It is obvious that in a country like India, composed as it is of great provinces and various races differing from one another in interests, customs, and religions, each with its own peculiar and distinct necessities, administrative details ought to be left to the people on the spot. The Government of India would then be free to exercise a firm and impartial control over the Empire and Imperial interests, while guiding into safe channels, without unduly restraining, intelligent progress.

Successful Administrators In times of peace the administration is apt to fall too exclusively into the hands of officials whose ability is of the doctrinaire type; they work hard, and can give logical and statistical reasons for the measures they propose, and are thus able to make them attractive to, and believed in by, the authorities. But they lack the more perfect knowledge of human nature, and the deeper insight into, and greater sympathy with, the feelings and prejudices of Asiatics, which those possessed in a remarkable degree who proved by their success that they had mastered the problem of the best form of government for India. I allude to men like Thomas Munro, Mountstuart Elphinstone, John Malcolm, Charles Metcalfe, George Clerk, Henry and John Lawrence, William Sleeman, James Outram, Herbert Edwardes, John Nicholson, and many others. These administrators, while fully recognizing the need for a gradual reform, understood the peculiarities of our position in the east, the necessity for extreme caution and toleration, and a 'live and let live' policy between us and the Natives. The sound and broad views of this class of public servant are not always appreciated either in India or England, and are too often put aside as unpractical, obstructive, and old-fashioned.

Amongst the causes which have produced discontent of late years, I would mention our forest laws and sanitary regulations, our legislative and fiscal systems—measures so necessary that no one interested in the prosperity of India could cavil at their introduction, but which are so absolutely foreign to Native ideas, that it is essential they should be applied with the utmost gentleness and circumspection.

I think, also, that the official idea of converting the young Princes and Nobles of India into English gentlemen by means of English tutors and English studies should be carried out with great care and caution. It has not hitherto invariably succeeded, and the feeling in many States is strongly opposed to it. The danger of failure lies in the wholesome restraint of the tutor being suddenly removed, and in the young Prince being left at too early an age to select his advisers and companions. The former, perhaps not unnaturally, are interested[Page 247] in proving that the training of their young Ruler by his European governor or tutor has not resulted in good either to himself or his people, while the latter are too often of the lowest class of European adventurers.

The proceedings and regulations of the Forest Department, desirable as they may be from a financial and agricultural point of view, have provoked very great irritation in many parts of India. People who have been accustomed from time immemorial to pick up sticks and graze their cattle on forest lands, cannot understand why they should now be forbidden to do so, nor can they realize the necessity for preserving the trees from the chance of being destroyed by fire, a risk to which they were frequently exposed from the Native custom of making use of their shelter while cooking, and of burning the undergrowth to enrich the grazing.

The action taken by the Government in sanitary matters has also aroused much ill-feeling and apprehension. Sanitary precautions are entirely ignored in eastern countries. The great majority of the people can see no good in them, and no harm in using the same tank for drinking purposes and for bathing and washing their clothes. The immediate surroundings of their towns and villages are most offensive, being used as the general receptacles for dead animals and all kinds of filth. Cholera, fever, and other diseases, which carry off hundreds of thousands every year, are looked upon as the visitation of God, from which it is impossible, even were it not impious to try, to escape; and the precautionary measures insisted upon by us in our cantonments, and at the fairs and places of pilgrimage, are viewed with aversion and indignation. Only those who have witnessed the personal discomfort and fatigue to which Natives of all ages and both sexes willingly submit in their struggle to reach some holy shrine on the occasion of a religious festival, while dragging their weary limbs for many hundreds of miles along a hot, dusty road, or being huddled for hours together in a crammed and stifling railway carriage, can have any idea of the bitter disappointment to the pilgrims caused by their being ordered to disperse when cholera breaks out at such gatherings, without being given the opportunity of performing their vows or bathing in the sacred waters.1

Paternal Despotism Further, our legislative system is based on western ideas, its object [Page 248] being to mete out equal justice to the rich and poor, to the Prince and peasant. But our methods of procedure do not commend themselves to the Indian peoples. Eastern races are accustomed to a paternal despotism, and they conceive it to be the proper function of the local representatives of the supreme Power to investigate and determine on the spot the various criminal and civil cases which come under the cognizance of the district officials. Legal technicalities and references to distant tribunals confuse and harass a population which, with comparatively few exceptions, is illiterate, credulous, and suspicious of underhand influence. An almost unlimited right of appeal from one court to another, in matters of even the most trivial importance, not only tends to impair the authority of the local magistrate, but gives an unfair advantage to the wealthy litigant whose means enable him to secure the services of the ablest pleader, and to purchase the most conclusive evidence in support of his claims. For it must be remembered than in India evidence on almost any subject can be had for the buying, and the difficulty, in the administration of justice, of discriminating between truth and falsehood is thereby greatly increased. Under our system a horde of unscrupulous pleaders has sprung up, and these men encourage useless litigation, thereby impoverishing their clients, and creating much ill-feeling against our laws and administration.

Money-lenders and the Press Another point worthy of consideration is the extent to which, under the protection of our legal system, the peasant proprietors of India are being oppressed and ruined by village shop-keepers and money-lenders. These men advance money at a most exorbitant rate of interest, taking as security the crops and occupancy rights of the cultivators of the soil. The latter are ignorant, improvident, and in some matters, such as the marriage ceremonies of their families, inordinately extravagant. The result is that a small debt soon swells into a big one, and eventually the aid of the law courts is invoked to oust the cultivator from a holding which, in many cases, has been in the possession of his ancestors for hundreds of years. The money-lender has his accounts to produce, and these can hardly be disputed, the debtor as a rule being unable to keep accounts of his own, or, indeed, to read or write. Before the British dominion was established in India, the usurer no doubt existed, but his opportunities were fewer, his position more precarious, and his operations more under control than they are at present. The money-lender then knew that his life would not be safe if he exacted too high interest for the loans with which he accommodated his customers, and[Page 249] that if he became too rich, some charge or other would be trumped up against him, which would force him to surrender a large share of his wealth to the officials of the State in which he was living. I do not say that the rough-and-ready methods of Native justice in dealing with money-lenders were excusable or tolerable, but at the same time I am inclined to think that, in granting these men every legal facility for enforcing their demands and carrying on their traffic, we may have neglected the interests of the agriculturists, and that it might be desirable to establish some agency under the control of Government, which would enable the poorer landholders to obtain, at a moderate rate of interest, advances proportionate to the security they had to offer.2

Another danger to our supremacy in India is the license allowed to the Native press in vilifying the Government and its officials, and persistently misrepresenting the motives and policy of the ruling Power. In a free country, where the mass of the population is well educated, independent, and self-reliant, a free press is a most valuable institution, representing as it does the requirements and aspirations of important sections of the community, and bringing to light defects and abuses in the social and political system. In a country such as Great Britain, which is well advanced in the art of self-government, intolerant and indiscriminate abuse of public men defeats its own object, and misstatements of matters of fact can be at once exposed and refuted. Like most of the developments of civilization which are worth anything, the English press is a plant of indigenous growth, whereas in India the Native press is an exotic which, under existing conditions, supplies no general want, does nothing to refine, elevate, or instruct the people, and is used by its supporters and promoters—an infinitesimal part of the population—as a means of gaining its selfish ends, and of fostering sedition, and racial and religious animosities. There are, I am afraid, very few Native newspapers actuated by a friendly or impartial spirit towards the Government of India, and to Asiatics it seems incredible that we should permit such hostile publications to be scattered broadcast over the country, unless the assertions were too true to be disputed, or unless we were too weak to suppress them. We gain neither credit nor gratitude for our tolerant attitude towards the Native press—our forbearance is misunderstood; and while the well-disposed are amazed at our inaction, the disaffected rejoice at being allowed to promulgate baseless insinuations and misstatements which undermine our authority, and thwart our efforts to gain the[Page 250] goodwill and confidence of the Native population.

Faddists Yet another danger to the permanence of our rule in India lies in the endeavours of well-intentioned faddists to regulate the customs and institutions of eastern races in accordance with their own ideas. The United Kingdom is a highly civilized country, and our habits and convictions have been gradually developed under the influences of our religion and our national surroundings. Fortunately for themselves, the people of Great Britain possess qualities which have made them masters of a vast and still expanding Empire. But these qualities have their defects as well as their merits, and one of the defects is a certain insularity of thought, or narrow-mindedness—a slowness to recognize that institutions which are perfectly suitable and right for us may be quite unsuited, if not injurious, to other races, and that what may not be right for us to do is not necessarily wrong for people of a different belief, and with absolutely different traditions and customs.

Gradually the form of Government in the United Kingdom has become representative and democratic, and it is therefore assumed by some people, who have little, if any, experience of the east, that the Government of India should be guided by the utterances of self-appointed agitators who pose as the mouth-pieces of an oppressed population. Some of these men are almost as much aliens3 as ourselves, while others are representatives of a class which, though intellectually advanced, has no influence amongst the races in whom lies the real strength of India. Municipal self-government has been found to answer well in the United Kingdom, and it is held, therefore, that a similar system must be equally successful in India. We in England consume animal food and alcoholic liquors, but have no liking for opium; an effort has accordingly been made to deprive our Asiatic fellow-subjects, who, as a rule, are vegetarians, and either total abstainers or singularly abstemious in the matter of drink, of a small and inexpensive stimulant, which they find necessary to their health and comfort. British institutions and ideas are the embodiment of what long experience has proved to us to be best for ourselves; but suddenly to establish these institutions and enforce these ideas on a community which is not prepared for them, does not want them, and cannot understand them, must only lead to suspicion and discontent. The Government of India should, no doubt, be progressive in its policy, and in all things be guided by the immutable principles of right, truth, and justice; but these principles ought to be applied, not necessarily as we should apply them in England, but with due regard to the social peculiarities and religious prejudices of the people whom it ought to be our aim to make better and happier.

It will be gathered from what I have written that our administration,[Page 251] in my opinion, suffers from two main defects. First, it is internally too bureaucratic and centralizing in its tendencies; and, secondly, it is liable to be forced by the external pressure of well-meaning but irresponsible politicians and philanthropists to adopt measures which may be disapproved of by the authorities on the spot, and opposed to the wishes, requirements, and interests of the people. It seems to me that for many years to come the best form of government for India will be the intelligent and benevolent despotism which at present rules the country. On a small scale, and in matters of secondary importance, representative institutions cannot perhaps do much harm, though I am afraid they will effect but little good. On a large scale, however, such a system of government would be quite out of place in view of the fact that ninety-nine out of every hundred of the population are absolutely devoid of any idea of civil responsibility, and that the various races and religious sects possess no bond of national union.

Cardinal Points In reply, then, to the question, 'Is there any chance of a Mutiny occurring again?' I would say that the best way of guarding against such a calamity is—

By never allowing the present proportion of British to Native soldiers to be diminished or the discipline and efficiency of the Native army to become slack.

By taking care that men are selected for the higher civil and military posts whose self-reliance, activity, and resolution are not impaired by age, and who possess a knowledge of the country and the habits of the peoples.

By recognizing and guarding against the dogmatism of theorists and the dangers of centralization.

By rendering our administration on the one hand firm and strong, on the other hand tolerant and sympathetic; and last, but not least, by doing all in our power to gain the confidence of the various races, and by convincing them that we have not only the determination, but the ability to maintain our supremacy in India against all assailants.

If these cardinal points are never lost sight of, there is, I believe, little chance of any fresh outbreak disturbing the stability of our rule in India, or neutralizing our efforts to render that country prosperous, contented, and thoroughly loyal to the British Crown.



Home Again

I travelled home viâ Corfu, Trieste, Venice, and Switzerland, arriving in England towards the end of June. The intense delight of getting 'home' after one's first term of exile can hardly be exaggerated, and certainly cannot be realized, save by those who have gone through the[Page 252] exile, and been separated, as I had been for years, from all that made the happiness of my early life. Every English tree and flower one comes across on first landing is a distinct and lively pleasure, while the greenness and freshness are a delicious rest to the eye, wearied with the deadly whitey-brown sameness of dried-up sandy plains, or the all-too gorgeous colouring of eastern cities and pageants.

My people were living in Ireland, in the county of Waterford, so after only a short sojourn in London, for the very necessary re-equipment of the outer man, I hastened over there. I found my father well and strong for a man of seventy-four, and to all appearance quite recovered from the effects of his fifty years of Indian service, and, to my great joy, my mother was looking almost as young, and quite as beautiful, as I had left her six years before. My little sister, too, always an invalid, was very much as when I had parted from her—full of loving-kindness for everyone, and, though unable to move without help, perfectly happy in the many resources she had within herself, and the good she was able to do in devoting those resources to the benefit of others.

There, too, I found my fate, in the shape of Nora Bews, a young lady living with a married sister not far from my father's place, who a few months later consented to accompany me on my return to India. The greater part of my leave was, therefore, spent in Ireland.

During the winter months I hunted with the Curraghmore hounds, and was out with them the day before Lord Waterford was killed. We had no run, and at the end of the day, when wishing us good-bye, he said: 'I hope, gentlemen, we shall have better luck next time.' 'Next time' there was 'better luck' as regarded the hunting, but the worst of all possible luck for Lord Waterford's numerous friends; in returning home after a good run, and having killed two foxes, his horse stumbled over quite a small ditch, throwing his rider on his head; the spinal cord was snapped and the fine sportsman breathed his last in a few moments.

1859 I was married on the 17th May, 1859, in the parish church of Waterford. While on our wedding tour in Scotland, I received a command to be present on the 8th June at Buckingham Palace, when the Queen proposed to honour the recipients of the Victoria Cross by presenting the decoration with Her Majesty's own hands.

Back in India Being anxious that my wife should be spared the great heat of a journey to India in July, the hottest month of the year in the Red Sea, and the doctors being very decided in their opinion that I should not return so soon, I had applied for a three months' extension of leave, and quite calculated on getting it, so our disappointment was great when the answer arrived and I found that, if I took the extension, I should lose my appointment in the Quartermaster-General's Department. This, we agreed, was not to be thought of, so there was nothing[Page 253] for it but to face the disagreeable necessity as cheerfully as we could. We made a dash over to Ireland, said good-bye to our relations, and started for India on the 27th June.

[plate 14]



a sketch by Carpenter.

The heat in the Red Sea proved even worse than I had anticipated. Our captain pronounced it the hottest trip he had ever made. Twice was the ship turned round to steam against the wind for a short time in order to revive some of the passengers, who were almost suffocated.

We passed the wreck of the Alma, a P. and O. vessel which had struck on a coral reef not far from Mocha. The wreck had happened in the dead of night, and there had been only time to get the passengers into the boats, in which they were rowed to another reef near at hand; there they had remained for eighty hours in their scanty night garments, and without the smallest shelter, until rescued by a friendly steamer. The officers and crew were still on the rock when we passed, endeavouring to get up the mails and the passengers' property. We supplied them with provisions and water, of which they were badly in need, and then had to leave them in their extremely uncomfortable position.

We could not complain of lack of air after we passed Aden, for we forthwith encountered the south-west monsoon, then at its height, and on entering the Bay of Bengal we experienced something very nearly akin to a cyclone. We broke our rudder; the lightships, on which a certain number of pilots were always to be found, had all been blown out to sea; and as we had only just sufficient coal to take us up the Hugli when the pilot should appear, we did not dare to keep up steam. Thus we had to remain at the mercy of the winds and waves for some days, until at length a brig with a pilot on board was sent to look for us, and eventually we arrived in Calcutta, in rather a dilapidated condition, on the 30th July.

We were not cheered by the orders I found awaiting me, which were to proceed to Morar and join Brigadier-General Sir Robert Napier, then in command of the Gwalior district. Morar in the month of August is one of the hottest places in India, and my wife was considerably the worse for our experiences at sea. However, a Calcutta hotel never has many attractions, and at that time of year was depressing and uncomfortable to the last degree; in addition, I had rather a severe attack of my old enemy, Peshawar fever, so we started on our journey 'up country' with as little delay as possible.

The railway at that time was not open further than Raniganj; thence we proceeded for a hundred miles in a 'dâk-ghari,' when, changing into doolies, we continued our journey to Hazaribagh, a little cantonment about twenty miles off the main road, where some relations of mine were living; but a day or two after our arrival at their hospitable house, I was ordered back to Calcutta.

I left my wife with our kind friends, and retraced my steps in considerable elation of spirits, for the China expedition was even then[Page 254] being talked about, and I hoped this sudden summons might possibly mean that I was to be sent with it in some capacity. On reaching Calcutta, however, I was told that I had been appointed to organize and take charge of the large camp to be formed for the triumphal progress which Lord Canning proposed to make through Oudh, the North-West Provinces, and the Punjab, with the view of meeting the principal feudatory Chiefs, and rewarding those who had been especially loyal during the rebellion. I was informed that the tents were in store in the arsenal at Allahabad, and that the camp must be ready at Cawnpore on the 15th October, on which date the Viceroy would arrive, and a day or two later commence his stately procession towards Lucknow.

While I was in England a Royal Proclamation had announced to the people of India that the Queen had taken over the government of their country, which had hitherto been held in trust for Her Majesty by the Honourable East India Company. This fact had been publicly proclaimed, with befitting ceremony, throughout the length and breadth of the land, on the 1st November, 1858. At the same time it was announced that Her Majesty's representative in India was henceforth to be styled Viceroy and Governor-General of India, and it was with the object of emphasizing this Proclamation, and impressing the Native mind with the reality of Queen Victoria's power and authority, that Lord Canning decided on undertaking this grand tour.

While in Calcutta on this occasion, I was offered a post in the Revenue Survey Department. I refused it, for, although as a married man the higher pay was a tempting bait, the recollection of the excitement and variety of the year of the Mutiny was still fresh upon me, and I had no wish to leave the Quartermaster-General's Department. I therefore started for Allahabad, picking up my wife en route.

It was then the middle of the rains, and the bridge of boats over the Jumna had been taken down, so we had to cross in ferry-boats—dâk-gharis, horses, and all—rather a perilous-looking proceeding, for the river was running at a tremendous pace, and there was some difficulty in keeping the boat's head straight. At Allahabad we stayed with a brother officer of mine in the fort, while I was getting the camp equipage out of store, and the tents pitched for inspection. There had not been a large camp for many years, and everything in India deteriorates so rapidly, that I found most of the tents in such a state of mildew and decay as to render it necessary to renew them almost entirely before they could be used for such a splendid occasion as that of the first Viceroy's first march through the re-conquered country.

Allahabad and Cawnpore From Allahabad we proceeded to Cawnpore, where I had a busy time arranging for the multifarious requirements of such an enormous camp; and sometimes I despaired of its being completed by the appointed date. However, completed it was; and on the 15th October Lord and Lady Canning arrived, and expressed themselves so pleased with all the[Page 255] arrangements, and were so kindly appreciative of the exertions I had made to be ready for them by the appointed time, that I felt myself fully rewarded for all my trouble.

The next day I took my wife to call upon Lady Canning, whose unaffected and simple, yet perfectly dignified manner completely charmed her, and from that day she was devoted, in common with everyone who was at all intimately associated with Lady Canning, to the gentle, gracious lady, who was always kindness itself to her.

On the 18th the Viceroy made his first march towards Lucknow. The camp equipage was in duplicate, so that everyone on arriving at the new halting-place found things exactly the same as in the tents they had left.

The Viceroy's Camp The camp occupied a considerable space; for, in addition to the Viceroy's large entourage, ground had to be provided for the Commander-in-Chief and the officers of Army Head-Quarters, who were marching with us; then there were the post-office, telegraph, workshops, toshikhana,1 commissariat, and a host of other offices to be accommodated, beside the escort, which consisted of a battery of Horse Artillery, a squadron of British Cavalry, a regiment of British Infantry, a regiment of Native Cavalry, a regiment of Native Infantry, and the Viceroy's Bodyguard. For the Viceroy, his staff, guests, and secretaries alone, 150 large tents were pitched in the main street, and when we came to a station the duplicate tents were also pitched. For the transport of this portion of the camp equipage 80 elephants and 500 camels were required.2

It is very difficult to give any idea of the extraordinary spectacle a big camp like this presents on the line of march. The followers, as a rule, are accompanied by their wives and families, who are piled upon the summits of laden carts, or perched on the loads borne by the baggage animals. In the two camps marching together (Lord Canning's and Lord Clyde's) there could not have been less than 20,000 men, women, and children—a motley crowd streaming along about four-and-twenty miles of road, for the day's march was usually about twelve miles, and before every one had cleared out of the camp occupied the night before, the advance guard had begun to arrive on the ground to be occupied the next day. The strictest discipline had to be maintained,[Page 256] or this moving colony would have been a serious calamity to the peasantry, for the followers would have spread themselves over the country like a flight of locusts, and taken anything they could lay their hands on, representing themselves as Mulk-i-Lord-Sahib-Ke-Naukar,3 whom according to immemorial tradition it was death to resist. The poor, frightened country-people, therefore, hardly ventured to remonstrate at the mahouts walking off with great loads of their sugar-cane, or to object to the compulsory purchase of their farm produce for half its value. There was a great deal of this kind of raiding at the commencement of the march, and I was constantly having complaints made to me by the villagers; but after I had inflicted on the offenders a few summary and tolerably severe punishments, and made the peasants to understand it was not the Mulk-i-Lord-Sahib's wish that they should submit to such treatment from his servants, order was established, and I had very rarely any trouble.

Our first halt was at Lucknow. Sir Hope Grant was commanding the division, and had established himself very comfortably in the Dilkusha. He had written asking me to bring my wife straight there and stay with him during the Viceroy's visit, as it was still very hot in tents during the day. An invitation which I gladly accepted, for it was pleasant to think of being with my old General again, and I wanted to introduce him to my wife.

The next day, the 22nd October, the state entry was made into Lucknow. It must have been an imposing sight, that long array of troops and guns, with Lord Canning in the centre, accompanied by the Commander-in-Chief, and surrounded by their respective staffs in full uniform. Lord Canning, though at that time not given to riding, looked remarkably well on horseback; for he had a fine head and shoulders, and sat his horse well; on foot, his height, not being quite in proportion, rather detracted from the dignity of his presence.

State Entry into Lucknow I headed the procession, leading it across the Charbagh bridge, the scene of Havelock's fiercest encounter, past the Machi Bhawan, and the Residency, to the Kaisarbagh, in front of which were drawn up in a body the Talukdars of Oudh, who had with difficulty been persuaded to come and make their obeisance, for, guiltily conscious of their disloyalty during the rebellion, they did not feel at all sure that the rumours that it was intended to blow them all away from guns, or to otherwise summarily dispose of them, were not true. They salaamed respectfully as the Viceroy passed, and the cavalcade proceeded to the Martinière park, where the camp, which I had pitched the previous day, lay spread before us, in all the spotless purity of new white tents glistening in a flood of brilliant sunshine. The streets through which we passed were crowded with Natives, who—cowed, but not tamed—looked[Page 257] on in sullen defiance, very few showing any sign of respect for the Viceroy.

Sir William and Lady Mansfield, and several other people from our camp were also staying with Sir Hope Grant, and that evening the whole Dilkusha party went to a state dinner given by Lord and Lady Canning. The latter was a delightful hostess; the shyest person was set at ease by her kindly, sympathetic manner, and she had the happy knack of making her guests feel that her entertainments were a pleasure to herself—the surest way of rendering them enjoyable to those she entertained.

I made use of the next week, which was for me a comparatively idle time, to take my wife over the ground by which we had advanced two years before, and explain to her the different positions held by the enemy. She was intensely interested in visiting the Sikandarbagh, the Shah Najaf, the mess-house, and, above all, that glorious memorial of almost superhuman courage and endurance, the Residency, ruined, roofless, and riddled by round shot and bullets. Very little had then been done towards opening out the city, and the surroundings of the Residency were much as they had been during the defence—a labyrinth of streets and lanes; it was therefore easier for the stranger to realize exactly what had taken place than it is now that the landmarks have been cleared away, and well-laid-out gardens and broad roads have taken the place of jungle and narrow alleys.

On the 26th the Viceroy held a grand durbar for the reception of the Talukdars. It was the first function of the sort I had witnessed, and was an amusing novelty to my wife, who, with Lady Canning and some of the other ladies in camp, viewed the proceedings from behind a semi-transparent screen, it not being considered at that time the thing for ladies to appear at ceremonials when Natives were present. The whole scene was very impressive, though not as brilliant in colouring as it would have been in any other part of India, owing to the Chiefs of Oudh being clad in simple white, as is the custom amongst Rajputs.

The Talukdars of Oudh The Talukdars, to the number of one hundred and sixty, were ushered to their places in strict order of seniority, the highest in rank being the last to arrive. They were arranged in a half semicircle on the right of the Viceroy's chair of state, while on the left the Europeans were seated according to their official rank. When all was ready, the words 'Attention! Royal salute! Present arms!' were heard without, warning those within of the Viceroy's approach, and, as the bugles sounded and the guns thundered forth their welcome, Lord Canning, accompanied by the Commander-in-Chief, and preceded by their staffs, entered the tent.

Everyone rose, and remained standing until the great man took his seat, when the Foreign Secretary came forward, and, making a low [Page 258] bow, informed His Excellency that all who had been summoned to attend the durbar were present. The Chiefs were then brought up and introduced to the Viceroy one by one; each made a profound obeisance, and, as a token of allegiance, presented an offering of gold mohurs, which, according to etiquette, the Viceroy just touched by way of acknowledgment. The presents from the Government to the Chiefs were then handed in on trays, and placed on the ground in front of each, the value of the present being regulated according to the rank and position of the recipient. This part of the ceremony being over, the Viceroy rose and addressed the Talukdars.

After expressing his pleasure at meeting them in their own country, he gave them an assurance that, so long as they remained faithful to the Government, they should receive every consideration; he told them that a new era had commenced in Oudh, and that henceforth they would be allowed to revert to the conditions under which they had held their estates prior to the annexation of the province. When Lord Canning had finished speaking, a translation of his address in Urdu was read to the Talukdars by Mr. Beadon, the Foreign Secretary; atar and pan4 were then handed round, and the Viceroy took his departure with the same formalities as those with which the durbar had been opened.

There is some excuse to be made for the attitude of the Talukdars, who, from their point of view, had little reason to be grateful to the British Government. These powerful Chiefs, whose individual revenues varied from £10,000 to £15,000 a year, and who, in their jungle fastnesses, often defied their sovereign's troops, had suddenly been deprived of all the authority which in the confusion attending a long period of misgovernment they had gradually usurped, as well as of a considerable proportion of the landed property which, from time to time, they had forcibly appropriated. The conversion of feudal Chiefs into ordinary law-abiding subjects is a process which, however beneficial to the many, is certain to be strenuously resisted by the few.

In March, 1858, when Lucknow was captured, a Proclamation was issued by the Government of India confiscating the proprietary rights in the soil. The object in view was not merely to punish contumacious Chiefs, but also to enable the Government to establish the revenue system on a sounder and firmer footing. Talukdars who submitted were to receive their possessions as a free gift direct from the Government; while those who had done good service, whether men of Oudh or strangers, might be rewarded by grants of confiscated property.

Loyalty of the Talukdars The Proclamation was considered in many influential quarters too arbitrary and sweeping a measure; Outram protested against it, and[Page 259] Lord Ellenborough (the President of the Board of Control) condemned it; but Lord Canning was backed up by the British public, and Lord Ellenborough resigned to save his Cabinet from being wrecked. That Outram and Ellenborough took the right view of the case is, I think, shown by the fact that Lord Canning cancelled the Proclamation on his first visit to Lucknow. By that time he had come to recognize that the Talukdars had reasonable grounds for their discontent, and he wisely determined to take a step which not only afforded them the greatest relief and satisfaction, but enlisted their interest on the side of Government. From that day to this, although, from time to time, subsequent legislation has been found necessary to save the peasantry from oppression, the Chiefs of Oudh have been amongst the most loyal of Her Majesty's Indian subjects.

We remained a few days longer at Lucknow. Lord and Lady Canning entertained all the residents, while a ball was given by the latter in the Chatta Manzil to the strangers in camp, and the city and principal buildings were illuminated in the Viceroy's honour with those curious little oil-lamps which are the most beautiful form of illumination, the delineation of every line, point, and pinnacle with myriads of minute lights producing a wonderfully pretty effect.

On the 29th the first march was made on the return journey to Cawnpore. My duty was to go on ahead, select the best site for the next day's camping-ground, and make all necessary arrangements for supplies, etc. I waited till the Viceroy had given his orders, and then my wife and I started off, usually in the forenoon; sometimes we remained till later in the day, lunching with one or other of our friends in camp, and on very rare occasions, such as a dinner-party at the Viceroy's or the Commander-in-Chief's, we drove on after dinner by moonlight. But that was not until we had been on the march for some time and I felt that the head Native in charge of the camp was to be trusted to make no mistake. It was a life of much interest and variety, and my wife enjoyed the novelty of it all greatly.

Lord Canning held his second durbar at Cawnpore on the 3rd November, when he received the principal Chiefs of Bundelkand, the Maharaja of Rewa, the Maharaja of Benares, and a host of lesser dignitaries.

It was on this occasion that, in accordance with the Proclamation which had already announced that the Queen had no desire to extend her territorial possessions, and that the estates of Native Princes were to be scrupulously respected, the Chiefs were informed that the right of adoption was conceded to them. This meant that, in default of male issue, they were to be allowed to adopt sons according to the Indian custom of adoption, and that the British Government would recognize the right of the chosen heir to succeed as Ruler of the State as well as to inherit the personal property of the Chief by whom he had been adopted. There had been no clear rule on this point previously,[Page 260] each case having been considered on its own merits, but the doctrine that adoption should not be recognized, and that, in default of natural heirs, the State should lapse and be annexed by the supreme Government, had been enforced in a good many instances. Lord Canning's announcement therefore caused the liveliest satisfaction to certain classes throughout India, and did more than any other measure to make the feudatory Princes believe in the sincerity of the amnesty Proclamation.5

Cawnpore and Fatehgarh Our next move was to Fatehgarh, eight marches from Cawnpore, where, on the 15th November, a third durbar was held, at which was received, amongst other leading men of Rohilkand whose services were considered worthy of acknowledgment, the Nawab of Rampur, who had behaved with distinguished loyalty in our time of trouble. This Mahomedan Nobleman's conduct was the more meritorious in that the surrounding country swarmed with rebels, and was the home of numbers of the mutinous Irregular Cavalry, while the close proximity of Rampur to Delhi, whence threats of vengeance were hurled at the Nawab unless he espoused the King's cause, rendered his position extremely precarious.

From Fatehgarh we proceeded to Agra, nine marches, only halting on Sundays, and consequently everyone appreciated being stationary there for a few days. The camp was pitched on the parade-ground, the scene of the fight of the 10th October, 1857. Here the Viceroy received some of the bigger potentates, who were accompanied by large[Page 261] retinues, and, as far as the spectacle went, it was one of the grandest and most curious gatherings we had yet witnessed.

The Agra Durbar The occasions are rare on which a Viceroy has the opportunity of receiving in durbar the great vassals of our Indian Empire, but when these assemblies can be arranged they have a very useful effect, and should not be looked upon as mere empty ceremonials. This was especially the case at a time when the country had so recently been convulsed by intestine war, and when the Native Princes were anxiously considering how their prospects would be affected by Her Majesty's assumption of the administration of India.

The Chief of highest rank on this occasion was the Maharaja of Gwalior, who, as I have already stated, influenced by his courageous Minister, Dinkar Rao, had remained faithful to us. Like most Mahratta Princes of that time, he was very imperfectly educated. Moreover, he was possessed of a most wayward disposition, frequently threatening, when thwarted in any way, to throw up the reins of government, and take refuge in the jungle; manners he had none.

Next came the enlightened head of the Princely house of Jaipur, the second in importance of the great Chiefs of Rajputana.

He was succeeded by the Karaoli Raja, whose following was the most quaint of all. Amongst the curious signs of his dignity he had on his escort four tigers, each chained on a separate car, and guarded by strange-looking men in brass helmets.

The Maharao Raja of Ulwar was the next to arrive, seated on a superb elephant, eleven feet high, magnificently caparisoned with cloth-of-gold coverings, and chains and breastplates of gold. He was a promising-looking lad who had succeeded to his estate only two years before; but he soon fell into the hands of low intriguers, who plundered his dominions and so oppressed his people that the British Government had to take over the management of his State.

After Ulwar came the Nawab of Tonk, the descendant of an adventurer from Swat, on the Peshawar border, who had become possessed of considerable territory in Rajputana. The Nawab stood by us in the Mutiny, when his capital was plundered by Tantia Topi.

The sixth in rank was the Jât Ruler of Dholpur, a bluff, coarse-looking man, and a very rude specimen of his race.

Last of all arrived the Nawab of Jaora, a handsome, perfectly-dressed man of considerable refinement of manner, and with all the courtesy of a well-bred Mahomedan. Though a feudatory of the rebellious Holkar of Indore, he kept aloof from all Mahratta intrigues, and behaved well to us.

Some of the highest of the Rajput Chiefs declined to attend, alleging as an excuse the distance of their capitals from Agra; but the truth is that these Rulers, the best blood of India, had never bowed their heads to any Power, not even that of the Moghul, and they considered[Page 262] it would be derogatory to their dignity to obey the summons of the representative of a sovereign, of whom they considered themselves the allies and not the mere feudatories.6

Those of the Chieftains attending this durbar who had shown conspicuous loyalty during the rebellion were not allowed to leave without receiving substantial rewards. Sindhia had territory bestowed on him to the value of £30,000 a year. Jaipur was given the confiscated property of Kôt Kāsim, yielding £5,000 a year, while others were recompensed according to the importance of the services rendered.



We remained at Agra until the 9th December. There was so much of beauty and interest in and around the place, that Lady Canning found a wealth of subjects for her facile pencil, and was well content to remain there. There were the usual banquets to the residents, and entertainments given by the Agra people to those in camp, one of them being a party in the Taj gardens, to give us an opportunity of seeing the tomb by moonlight, when it certainly looks its loveliest. My wife was more delighted even than I had anticipated with the perfect beauty of the Taj and the exquisite little mosque in the fort, the Moti-Masjid. I greatly enjoyed showing her all that was worth seeing, and witnessing her pleasure on first viewing these wonderful works of art.

There was no halt again, except the usual one on Sunday, until we reached Meerut on the 21st December.

Three marches from Agra a fire broke out in Lady Canning's tent soon after she had retired for the night, caused by the iron pipe of the stove, which passed through the side of the tent, becoming over-heated. Lady Canning's tents were on one side of the big dining-tent, and the Viceroy's on the other. Immediately on perceiving the fire, Lady Canning ran across to awaken her husband, but the Native sentry, who did not know her or understand a word of what she was saying, would not let her in, and, in despair of being able to make anyone hear, she rushed off to the tent of Sir Edward Campbell, the Military Secretary, which was nearest her own. She succeeded in awaking him, and then flew back to try and save some of her own treasures. The first thing she thought of was her portfolio of drawings, which she dragged outside; but it had already been partially burned, and most of the valuable[Page 263] and characteristic sketches she had made at the different durbars were destroyed. She next tried to rescue her jewels, many of which she had worn the night before; her pearls were lying on the dressing-table, and she was only just in time to save them; one of the strings had caught fire, and several of the pearls were blackened. She swept them off the table into a towel, and threw them into a tub of water standing outside. Her wardrobe was completely destroyed. More damage would have been done had not the Private Secretary, Mr. Lewin Bowring, on the alarm being given, hurried to the dining-tent, and, with great presence of mind, ordered the Native Cavalry sentry to cut the ropes, causing it to fall at once, and preventing the fire from spreading. Some office boxes and records were destroyed, but nothing more. We were as usual in the advance camp, and did not hear what had happened until next morning, when Lady Canning arrived dressed in Lady Campbell's clothes; and as Lady Canning was tall, and Lady Campbell was short, the effect was rather funny.

Christmas was spent at Meerut, where I met several of my brother officers, amongst others my particular friend Edwin Johnson, whom I had the great pleasure of introducing to my wife. With scarcely an exception, my friends became hers, and this added much to the happiness of our Indian life.

Delhi under a different aspect Delhi, our next halting-place, was certainly not the least interesting in our tour. Lord Canning was anxious to understand all about the siege, and visited the different positions; the Ridge and its surroundings, the breaches, and the palace, were the chief points of interest. There were two 'Delhi men' besides myself to explain everything to him, Sir Edward Campbell, who was with the 60th Rifles throughout, and one of the best officers in the regiment, and Jemmy Hills, who had now become the Viceroy's Aide-de-camp; while in Lord Clyde's camp there were Norman, Stewart, and Becher.

I had, of course, taken my wife to the scenes of the fights at Agra, Aligarh, and Bulandshahr, but Delhi had the greatest fascination for her. It is certainly an extraordinarily attractive place, setting aside the peculiar interest of the siege. For hundreds of years it had been the seat of Government under Rulers of various nationalities and religions; few cities have the remains of so much pomp and glory, and very few bear the traces of having been besieged so often, or could tell of so much blood spilt in their defence, or of such quantities of treasure looted from them. When Tamerlane captured Delhi in 1398 the city was given over to massacre for five days, 'some streets being rendered impassable by heaps of dead'; and in 1739 the Persian conqueror, Nadir Shah, after sacking the place for fifty-eight days and massacring thousands of its inhabitants, carried off thirty-two millions sterling of booty.

Although the fierce nature of the struggle that Delhi had gone [Page 264] through in 1857 was apparent everywhere, the inhabitants seemed now to have forgotten all about it. The city was as densely populated as it had ever been; the Chandni Chauk was gay as formerly with draperies of bright-coloured stuffs; jewellers and shawl-merchants carried on their trades as briskly as ever, and were just as eager in their endeavours to tempt the Sahib log to spend their money as if trade had never been interrupted; so quickly do Orientals recover from the effects of a devastating war.

1860 We left Delhi on the 3rd January, 1860, marching viâ Karnal. When at this place my wife went to see Lady Canning, as she often did if we remained at all late in camp. On this particular occasion she found her busy with the English mail, which had just arrived, so she said she would not stay then, but would come next day instead. Lady Canning, however, would not let my wife go until she had read her part of a letter from Lady Waterford, which she thought would amuse her. It was in answer to one from Lady Canning, in which she had described the camp, and given her sister a list of all the people in it. Lady Waterford wrote: 'Your Quartermaster-General must be the son of General Roberts, who lives near Waterford; he came home on leave last year. I must tell you an amusing little anecdote about his father. One night, when the General was dining at Curraghmore, he found himself sitting next the Primate of Ireland, with whom he entered into conversation. After some time they discovered they had known each other in the days of their youth, but had never met since a certain morning on which they went out to fight a duel on account of some squabble at a mess; happily the quarrel was stopped without any harm being done, each feeling equally relieved at being prevented from trying to murder the other, as they had been persuaded they were in honour bound to do. The two old gentlemen made very merry over their reminiscences.'

Lord Clyde For some time I had been indulging a hope that I might be sent to China with my old General, Hope Grant, who had been nominated to the command of the expedition which, in co-operation with the French, was being prepared to wipe out the disgrace of the repulse experienced early in the year, by the combined French and English naval squadrons in their attack on the Taku forts. My hope, however, was doomed to disappointment. Lord Clyde decided to send Lumsden and Allgood as A.Q.M.G.'s with the force, and I was feeling very low in consequence. A day or two afterwards we dined with the Cannings, and Lord Clyde took my wife in to dinner. His first remark to her was: 'I think I have earned your gratitude, if I have not managed to satisfy everyone by these China appointments.' On my wife asking for what she was expected to be grateful, he said: 'Why, for not sending your husband with the expedition, of course. I suppose you would rather not be left in a foreign country alone a few months after[Page 265] your marriage? If Roberts had not been a newly-married man, I would have sent him.' This was too much for my wife, who sympathized greatly with my disappointment, and she could not help retorting: 'I am afraid I cannot be very grateful to you for making my husband feel I am ruining his career by standing in the way of his being sent on service. You have done your best to make him regret his marriage.' The poor old Chief was greatly astonished, and burst out in his not too refined way: 'Well, I'll be hanged if I can understand you women! I have done the very thing I thought you would like, and have only succeeded in making you angry. I will never try to help a woman again.' My wife saw that he had meant to be kind, and that it was, as he said, only because he did not 'understand women' that he had made the mistake. She was soon appeased, and in the end she and Lord Clyde became great friends.

The middle of January found us at Umballa, where Lord Canning met in state all the Cis-Sutlej Sikh Chiefs. Fine, handsome men they most of them were, and magnificently attired. The beautifully delicate tints which the Sikhs are so fond of, the warlike costumes of some of the Sirdars, the quiet dignity of these high-born men who had rendered us such signal service in our hour of need, made the scene most picturesque and impressive. The place of honour was given to the Maharaja of Patiala (the grandfather of the present Maharaja), as the most powerful of the Phulkian Princes; and he was followed by his neighbours of Nabha and Jhind, all three splendid specimens of well-bred Sikhs, of stately presence and courtly manners. They were much gratified at having the right of adoption granted to their families, and at being given substantial rewards in the shape of extension of territory.

The Sikh Chiefs were followed by Rajas of minor importance, chiefly from the neighbouring hills, whom the Viceroy had summoned in order to thank them for assistance rendered during the Mutiny. Many of them had grievances to be redressed; others had favours to ask; and the Viceroy was able to more or less satisfy them by judiciously yielding to reasonable demands, and by bestowing minor powers on those who were likely to use them well. The wisdom of this policy of concession on Lord Canning's part was proved in after years by its successful results.

On the 29th January the Raja of Kapurthala came out to meet the Viceroy one march from Jullundur. He had supplemented the valuable assistance rendered to Colonel Lake in the early days of the Mutiny by equipping and taking into Oudh a force of 2,000 men, which he personally commanded in six different actions. The Viceroy cordially thanked him for this timely service, and in recognition of it, and his continued and conspicuous loyalty, bestowed upon him large estates in Oudh, where he eventually became one of the chief Talukdars.[Page 266] This Raja was the grandfather of the enlightened nobleman who came to England three years ago.

Umritsar and Lahore After visiting Umritsar, gay with brilliant illuminations in honour of the Viceroy, and crowded with Sikhs come to welcome the Queen's representative to their sacred city, we arrived at Lahore on the 10th February.

Early the following morning Lord Canning made his state entry. As we approached the citadel the long line of mounted Chiefs drawn up to receive the Viceroy came into view. A brilliant assemblage they formed, Sikh Sirdars, stately Hill Rajputs, wildly picturesque Multanis and Baluchis with their flowing locks floating behind them, sturdy Tawanas from the Salt range, all gorgeously arrayed in every colour of the rainbow, their jewels glittering in the morning sun, while their horses, magnificently caparisoned in cloth-of-gold saddle cloths, and gold and silver trappings, pranced and curvetted under pressure of their severe bits. As the procession appeared in sight they moved forward in one long dazzling cavalcade, each party of Chiefs being headed by the Commissioner of the district from which they came; they saluted as they approached the Viceroy, and then passing him fell in behind, between the Body Guard and the Artillery of the escort. A royal salute was fired from the fort as we passed under the city walls; we then wound through the civil station of Anárkáli, and on to camp where the garrison of Mian Mir, under the command of Major-General Sir Charles Windham, was drawn up to receive the Viceroy.

At nightfall there were illuminations and a procession of elephants; the Viceroy, seated in a superb howdah, led the way through the brilliantly lighted city. Suddenly a shower of rockets was discharged which resulted in a stampede of the elephants, who rushed through the narrow streets, and fled in every direction, to the imminent peril and great discomfort of the riders. In time they were quieted and brought back, only to become again unmanageable at a fresh volley of fireworks; a second time they were pacified, and as they seemed to be getting accustomed to the noise and lights, the procession proceeded to the garden of the old palace. Here the elephants were drawn up, when all at once a fresh discharge of rockets from every side drove them mad with fright, and off they bolted under the trees, through gates, and some of them could not be pulled up until they had gone far into the country. Howdahs were crushed, hats torn off, but, strange to say, there was only one serious casualty; an officer was swept out of his howdah by the branch of a tree, and falling to the ground, had his thigh broken. Lord Clyde declared that a general action was not half so dangerous, and he would much sooner have been in one!

The Lahore Durbar The Lahore durbar, at which the Punjab Chiefs were received, surpassed[Page 267] any former ceremonials in point of numbers and splendour of effect. Many of Runjit Singh's Sirdars were present, and many who had fought against us in the Sutlej and Punjab campaigns, but had now become our fast friends. The Chiefs quite spontaneously prepared and presented Lord Canning with an address, and, in reply, his Excellency made an eloquent and telling speech, commenting in terms of the highest appreciation on the courage and loyalty displayed by the Nobles and people of the Punjab during the Mutiny.

While the camp was marching to Sialkot, where the Maharaja of Kashmir and some of the leading men of the Punjab were to be received, the Viceroy, accompanied by Lady Canning, Lord Clyde, and a small staff, went on a flying visit to Peshawar, with the object of satisfying himself, by personal examination of our position there, as to the advisability or otherwise of a retirement cis-Indus—a retrograde movement which John Lawrence was still in favour of. The visit, however, only served to strengthen Lord Canning in his preconceived opinion that Peshawar must be held on to as our frontier station.

My wife remained at Mian Mir with our good friends Doctor and Mrs. Tyrrell Ross until it was time for her to go to Simla, and the kind thoughtfulness of Lord Canning, who told me the camp now worked so well that my presence was not always necessary, enabled me to be with her from time to time.

Lord Canning's tour was now nearly over, and we marched without any halt of importance from Sialkot to Kalka at the foot of the hills, where, on the 9th April, the camp was broken up. It was high time to get into cooler regions, for the heat of the tents in the day had become very oppressive.

Thus ended a six months' march of over a thousand miles—a march never likely to be undertaken again by any other Viceroy of India, now that railway trains run from Calcutta to Peshawar, and saloon carriages have taken the place of big tents.

This progress through India had excellent results. The advantages of the representative of the Sovereign meeting face to face the principal feudatories and Chiefs of our great dependency were very considerable, and the opportunity afforded to the Viceroy of personally acknowledging and rewarding the services of those who had helped us, and of showing that he was not afraid to be lenient to those who had failed to do so, provided they should remain loyal in the future, had a very good effect over the whole of India. The wise concessions also announced at the different durbars as regards the adoption by Native Rulers of successors to their estates, and the grant to Native gentlemen of such a share as they were fitted for in the government of the country, were undoubtedly more appreciated than any other description of reward given for assistance in the Mutiny.

Simla My duty with the Viceroy being ended, I returned to Mian Mir to[Page 268] fetch my wife and the little daughter, who had made her appearance on the 10th March, and escort them both to Simla. The journey up the hill was a tedious one. Carriages were not then used as they are now, and my wife travelled in a jampan, a kind of open, half-reclining sedan chair, carried by relays of four men, while I rode or walked by her side. She had been greatly exhausted by the heat of the journey from Mian Mir, but as we ascended higher and higher up the mountain side, and the atmosphere became clearer and fresher, she began to revive. Four hours, however, of this unaccustomed mode of travelling in her weak state had completely tired her out, so on finding a fairly comfortable bungalow at the end of the first stage, I decided to remain there the next day. After that we went on, stage by stage, until we reached Simla. Our house, 'Mount Pleasant,' was on the very top of a hill; up and up we climbed through the rhododendron forest, along a path crimson with the fallen blossom, till we got to the top, when a glorious view opened out before our delighted eyes. The wooded hills of Jakho and Elysium in the foreground, Mahasu and the beautiful Shalli peaks in the middle distance, and beyond, towering above all, the everlasting snows glistening in the morning sun, formed a picture the beauty of which quite entranced us both. I could hardly persuade my wife to leave it and come into the house. Hunger and fatigue, however, at length triumphed. Our servants had arranged everything in our little abode most comfortably; bright fires were burning in the grates, a cosy breakfast was awaiting us, and the feeling that at last we had a home of our own was very pleasant.

Lord Canning did not remain long at Simla. His Council in Calcutta was about to lose its President, Sir James Outram, who was leaving India on account of failing health; and as the suggestion to impose an income-tax was creating a good deal of agitation, the Viceroy hurried back to Calcutta, deeming it expedient to be on the spot.

The measures necessary for the suppression of the Mutiny had emptied the Government coffers; and although a large loan had been raised, the local authorities found it impossible to cope with the increased expenditure. Lord Canning had, therefore, applied to the Government in England for the services of a trained financier; and Mr. Wilson, who had a great reputation in this respect, was sent out. He declared the only remedy to be an income-tax, and he was supported in this view by the merchants of Calcutta. Other Europeans, however, who were intimately acquainted with India, pointed out that it was not advisable to ignore the dislike of Natives to such direct taxation; and Sir Charles Trevelyan, Governor of Madras, argued well and wisely against the scheme. Instead, however, of confining his action in the matter to warning and advising the supreme Government, he publicly proclaimed his opposition, thus giving the signal for agitation to all the malcontents in India. Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay,[Page 269] followed Trevelyan's example, but in a less pronounced manner, and these attacks from the minor Presidencies proved a serious embarrassment to the action of the Government. In spite of all this antagonism, the income-tax was passed, and Sir Charles Trevelyan's unusual procedure led to his recall.

Lord Canning left Simla for his long and trying journey in May, about the hottest time of the year. On my taking leave of him, he told me that Sir Hugh Rose, then commanding the Bombay army, had been appointed to succeed Lord Clyde, who had long been anxious to return to England, and that Sir Hugh, though he intended to go to Calcutta himself, wished the Head-Quarters of the Army to remain at Simla; a question about which we had been rather anxious, as it would have been an unpleasant breaking up of all our plans, had I been ordered to Calcutta.

Life at Simla Life at Simla was somewhat monotonous. The society was not very large in those days; but there were a certain number of people on leave from the plains, who then, as at present, had nothing to do but amuse themselves, consequently there was a good deal of gaiety in a small way; but we entered into it very little. My wife did not care much about it, and had been very ill for the greater part of the summer. She had made two or three kind friends, and was very happy in her mountain home, though at times, perhaps, a little lonely, as I had to be in office the greater part of each day.

In the autumn we made a trip into the interior of the hills, beyond Simla, which was a new and delightful experience for my wife. We usually started in the morning, sending our servants on about half way, when they prepared breakfast for us in some pretty, shady spot; there we remained, reading, writing, or resting, until after lunch, and it was time to move on, that we might get to our halting place for the night before dinner.

It was a lovely time of the year, when the autumn tints made the forest gorgeous, and the scarlet festoons of the Himalayan vine stood out in brilliant contrast to the dark green of the solemn deodar, amongst the branches of which it loves to twine itself.



In 1860 an important alteration was made in the organization of the army in India, by the passing of a Bill for the amalgamation of the local European Forces with the Royal Army.

On the transfer of the administration of India from the Honourable East India Company to the Crown, a question arose as to the conditions under which the European soldiers had enlisted. The Government contended that the conditions were in no way affected by the abolition[Page 270] of the Company. The soldiers, on the other hand, claimed to be re-enlisted, and on this being refused they asked for their discharge. This was granted, and 10,000 out of the 16,000 men serving in the local army had to be sent to England. These men were replaced and the local Forces were kept up to strength by fresh drafts from England; but, from the date of the amalgamation, enlistment to serve solely in India was to cease.

There was great difference of opinion as to the advisability of this measure; officers of the Queen's service for the most part, and notably Sir Hugh Rose, were in favour of it, but it was not generally popular in India. It was feared that the change would result in a great increase to the military charges which the Indian Government would be called upon to pay; that, notwithstanding such increase, there would be a serious diminution in the control exercised by that Government over the administration and organization of the British Army in India; and that, under the pressure of political emergency in Europe, troops might be withdrawn and Indian requirements disregarded. On the other hand, those in favour of the Bill thought that, after the transfer of India to the Crown, the maintenance of a separate Force uncontrolled by the Horse Guards would be an anomaly. There was, no doubt, much to be said on both sides of the question, but, although it has been proved that the fears of those opposed to the change were not altogether without foundation, in my opinion it was unavoidable, and has greatly benefited both services.

The amalgamation considerably accelerated my promotion, for, in order to place the Indian Ordnance Corps on the same footing as those of the Royal service, the rank of Second Captain had to be introduced into the former, a rank to which I attained in October, 1860, only, however, to hold it for one day, as the next my name appeared in the Gazette as a Brevet Major.

The Staff Corps The same year saw the introduction of the Staff Corps. This was the outcome of the disappearance during the Mutiny of nearly the whole of the Regular regiments of the Bengal Army, and their replacement by Irregular regiments. But, as under the Irregular system the number of British officers with each corps was too limited to admit of their promotion being carried on regimentally, as had been done under the Regular system,1 some organization had to be devised by which the pay and promotion of all officers joining the Indian Army in future[Page 271] could be arranged. Many schemes were put forward; eventually one formulated by Colonel Norman was, with certain modifications, accepted by the Secretary of State, the result being that all officers about to enter the Indian Army were to be placed on one list, in which they would be promoted after fixed periods of service;2 and all those officers who had been thrown out of employment by the disbandment of their regiments, or by the substitution of the Irregular for the Regular system, were to have the option of joining it. The term Staff Corps, however, was a misnomer, for the constitution of the Corps and the training of its officers had no special connection with staff requirements.

With the Viceroy's Camp Again Towards the end of the summer the Viceroy announced his intention of making a march through Central India, and I was again ordered to take charge of his camp, which was to be formed at Benares. My wife and her baby remained at Simla with our friends the Donald Stewarts, and I left her feeling sure that with them she would be happy and well taken care of.

Sir Hugh Rose was at Allahabad, and as I passed through that place I availed myself of the opportunity to pay my respects to the new Chief, being anxious to meet an officer whom I had held in great admiration from the time when, as Chargé d'affaires at Constantinople, his pluck and foresight practically saved Turkey in her time of peril from Russia's threatened attack—admiration increased by the masterly manner in which he had conducted the Central India campaign, in spite of almost overwhelming difficulties from want of transport and other causes, and a severe attack of sunstroke, which would have incapacitated many men. Sir Hugh Rose, when I first met him at Allahabad, was fifty-nine years of age, tall, slight, with refined features, rather delicate-looking, and possessing a distinctly distinguished appearance. He received me most kindly, and told me that he wished me to return to Head-Quarters when the Viceroy could dispense with my services.

The camp this year was by no means on so grand a scale as the preceding one. The escort was much smaller, and the Commander-in-Chief with Army Head-Quarters did not march with us as on the previous occasion.

Lord and Lady Canning arrived by steamer at Benares on the 6th November, and I went on board to meet them. Lord Canning was cordial and pleasant as usual, but I did not think he looked well. Lady[Page 272] Canning was charming as ever; she reproached me for not having brought my wife, but when I told her how ill she had been, she agreed that camp was not quite the place for her.

Benares, to my mind, is a most disappointing city; the streets are narrow and dirty, there are no fine buildings, and it is only interesting from its being held so sacred by the Hindus. The view of the city and burning ghâts from the river is picturesque and pretty, but there is nothing else worth seeing.

Two days were occupied in getting the camp to Mirzarpur, on the opposite bank of the Ganges. There was no bridge, and everything had to be taken over in boats; 10,000 men, 1,000 horses, 2,000 camels, 2,000 bullocks, besides all the tents, carts, and baggage, had to be ferried across the great river. The 180 elephants swam over with their mahouts on their backs to keep their heads straight and urge them on; the stream was rapid, and it was a difficult business to land them safely at the other side, but at last it was accomplished, and our only casualty was one camel, which fell overboard.

The march to Jubbulpur lay through very pretty scenery, low hills and beautiful jungle, ablaze with the flame-coloured blossom of the dhâk-tree. Game abounded, and an occasional tiger was killed. Lord Canning sometimes accompanied the shooting expeditions, but not often, for he was greatly engrossed in, and oppressed by, his work, which he appeared unable to throw off. Even during the morning's drive he was occupied with papers, and on reaching camp he went straight to his office tent, where he remained the whole day till dinner-time, returning to it directly the meal was over, unless there were strangers present with whom he wished to converse.

At Jubbulpur the Viceroy held a durbar for the Maharaja Tukaji Holkar of Indore, and some minor Chiefs of that part of the country. Holkar's conduct during the Mutiny was not altogether above suspicion, but, considering that the only troops at his disposal belonged to the mutinous Indore Contingent, which consisted mainly of Hindustanis enlisted by English officers, over whom he could not be expected to exercise much control, Lord Canning gave him the benefit of the doubt, and was willing to attribute his equivocal behaviour to want of ability and timidity, rather than to disloyalty, and therefore allowed him to come to the durbar.

Another potentate received at this time by the Viceroy was the Begum of Bhopal, who, being a powerful and skilful Ruler, and absolutely loyal to the British Government, had afforded us most valuable assistance during the rebellion. She was one of those women whom the East has occasionally produced, endowed with conspicuous talent and great strength of character, a quality which, from its rarity amongst Indian women, gives immense influence to those who possess it. Lord Canning congratulated the Begum on the success with which she had[Page 273] governed her country, thanked her for her timely help, and bestowed upon her a large tract of country as a reward. She was a determined-looking little woman, and spoke fluently in her own language; she personally managed the affairs of her State, and wrote a remarkably interesting account of her travelling experiences during a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Just as the Begum took her departure, news was brought in of the presence of a tiger two or three miles from the cantonment, and as many of us as could get away started off in pursuit. Not considering myself a first-rate shot, I thought I should be best employed with the beaters, but, as good luck would have it, the tiger broke from the jungle within a few yards of my elephant: I could not resist having a shot, and was fortunate enough to knock him over.

The Marble Rocks While at Jubbulpur, I visited the famous marble rocks on the Nerbudda. We rowed up the river for about a mile, when the stream began to narrow, and splendid masses of marble came into view. The cliffs rise to about a hundred feet in height, pure white below, gradually shading off to gray at the top. The water at their base is of a deep brown colour; perfectly transparent and smooth, in which the white rocks are reflected with the utmost distinctness. In the crevices hang numerous beehives, whose inmates one has to be careful not to disturb, for on the bank are the graves of two Englishmen who, having incautiously aroused the vicious little creatures, were attacked and drowned in diving under the water to escape from their stings.

A few days later the Viceroy left camp, and proceeded to Lucknow, where he held another durbar for the Talukdars of Oudh. Lady Canning continued to march with us to Mirzapur, where I took her on board her barge, and bade her farewell—a last farewell, for I never saw this good, beautiful, and gifted woman again.

The camp being broken up, I returned towards the end of February to my work in the Quartermaster-General's Office at Simla. I found the place deep in snow; it looked very beautiful, but the change of temperature, from the great heat of Central India to several degrees of frost, was somewhat trying. My wife had benefited greatly from the fine bracing air, and both she and our baby appeared pictures of health; but a day or two after my arrival the little one was taken ill, and died within one week of her birthday—our first great sorrow.

We passed a very quiet, uneventful summer, and in the beginning of October we left Simla for Allahabad, where I had received instructions to prepare a camp for the Viceroy, who had arranged to hold an investiture of the Star of India, the new Order which was originally designed to honour the principal Chiefs of India who had done us good service, by associating them with some of the highest and most distinguished personages in England, and a few carefully selected Europeans in India. Lord Canning was the first Grand Master, and[Page 274] Sir Hugh Rose the first Knight.

The durbar at which the Maharajas Sindhia and Patiala, the Begum of Bhopal, and the Nawab of Rampur were invested, was a most imposing ceremony. The Begum was the cynosure of all eyes—a female Knight was a novelty to Europeans as well as to Natives—and there was much curiosity as to how she would conduct herself; but no one could have behaved with greater dignity or more perfect decorum, and she made a pretty little speech in Urdu in reply to Lord Canning's complimentary address. She was dressed in cloth-of-gold, and wore magnificent jewels; but the effect of her rich costume was somewhat marred by a funny little wreath of artificial flowers, woollen mittens, and black worsted stockings with white tips. When my wife visited the Begum after the durbar, she showed her these curious appendages with great pride, saying she wore them because they were 'English fashion.' This was the first occasion on which ladies were admitted to a durbar, out of compliment to the Begum.

That evening my wife was taken in to dinner by a man whose manner and appearance greatly impressed her, but she did not catch his name when he was introduced; she much enjoyed his conversation during dinner, which was not to be wondered at, for, before she left the table, he told her his name was Bartle Frere.3 She never saw him again, but she always says he interested her more than almost any of the many distinguished men she has since met.

From Allahabad the Viceroy again visited Lucknow, this time with the object of urging upon the Talukdars the suppression of the horrible custom of female infanticide, which had its origin in the combined pride and poverty of the Rajputs. In various parts of India attempts had been made, with more or less success, to put a stop to this inhuman practice. But not much impression had been made in Oudh, in consequence of the inordinately large dowries demanded from the Rajput fathers of marriageable daughters. Two hundred Talukdars attended Lord Canning's last durbar, and, in reply to his feeling and telling speech, declared their firm determination to do their best to discourage the evil.

Lady Canning's Death The Commander-in-Chief had decided to pass the winter in marching through the Punjab, and inspecting the different stations for troops in the north of India. The Head-Quarters camp had, therefore, been formed at Jullundur, and thither we proceeded when the gathering at Allahabad had dispersed. We had but just arrived, when we were shocked and grieved beyond measure to hear of Lady Canning's death. Instead of accompanying the Viceroy to Allahabad she had gone to Darjeeling, and on her return, anxious to make sketches of the beautiful jungle scenery, she arranged, alas! contrary to the advice of those with[Page 275] her, to spend one night in the terai,4 where she contracted jungle-fever, to which she succumbed ten days after her return to Calcutta. Her death was a real personal sorrow to all who had the privilege of knowing her; what must it have been to her husband, returning to England without the helpmate who had shared and lightened the burden of his anxieties, and gloried in the success which crowned his eventful career in India.

The Commander-in-Chief arrived in the middle of November, and all the officers of the Head-Quarters camp went out to meet him. I was mounted on a spirited nutmeg-gray Arab, a present from Allgood. Sir Hugh greatly fancied Arabian horses, and immediately noticed mine. He called me up to him, and asked me where I got him, and of what caste he was. From that moment he never varied in the kindness and consideration with which he treated me, and I always fancied I owed his being well disposed towards me from the very first to the fact that I was riding my handsome little Arab that day; he loved a good horse, and liked his staff to be well mounted. A few days afterwards he told me he wished me to accompany him on the flying tours he proposed to make from time to time, in order to see more of the country and troops than would be possible if he marched altogether with the big camp.

We went to Umritsar, Mian Mir, and Sialkot; at each place there were the usual inspections, mess dinners, and entertainments. The Chief's visit made a break in the ordinary life of a cantonment, and the residents were glad to take advantage of it to get up various festivities; Sir Hugh, too, was most hospitably inclined, so that there was always a great deal to do besides actual duty when we arrived at a station.

Pig-sticking at Jamu Jamu, where the Ruler of Kashmir resides during the winter, is not far from Sialkot, so Sir Hugh was tempted to accept an invitation from the Maharaja to pay him a visit and enjoy some good pig-sticking, to my mind the finest sport in the world. His Highness entertained us right royally, and gave us excellent sport, but our pleasure was marred by the Chief having a bad fall: he had got the first spear off a fine boar, who, feeling himself wounded, turned and charged, knocking over Sir Hugh's horse. All three lay in a heap together; the pig was dead, the horse was badly ripped up, and the Chief showed no signs of life. We carried him back to Jamu on a charpoy5 and when he regained consciousness we found that no great harm was done beyond a severely bruised face and a badly sprained leg, which, though still very painful two or three days later, did not prevent the plucky old fellow from riding over the battle-field of Chilianwalla.

Very soon after this Norman, who was then Adjutant-General of the[Page 276] Army, left Head-Quarters to take up the appointment of Secretary to the Government of India in the Military Department. Before we parted he expressed a hope that I would soon follow him, as a vacancy in the Department was about to take place, which he said he was sure Lord Canning would allow him to offer to me. Norman was succeeded as Adjutant-General of the Indian Army by Edwin Johnson, the last officer who filled that post, as it was done away with when the amalgamation of the services was carried into effect.

Two marches from Jhelum my wife was suddenly taken alarmingly ill, and had to remain behind when the camp moved on. Sir Hugh Rose most kindly insisted on leaving his doctor (Longhurst) in charge of her, and told me I must stay with her as long as was necessary. For three whole weeks we remained on the encamping ground of Sahawar; at the end of that time, thanks (humanly speaking) to the skill and care of our Doctor, she was sufficiently recovered to be put into a doolie and carried to Lahore, I riding a camel by her side, for my horses had gone on with the camp.

While at Lahore I received a most kind letter from Norman, offering me the post in the Secretariat which he had already told me was about to become vacant. After some hesitation—for the Secretariat had its attractions, particularly as regarded pay—I decided to decline the proffered appointment, as my acceptance of it would have taken me away from purely military work and the chance of service in the field. I left my wife on the high-road to recovery, and hurried after the camp, overtaking it at Peshawar just in time to accompany the Commander-in-Chief on his ride along the Derajat frontier, a trip I should have been very sorry to have missed. We visited every station from Kohat to Rajanpur, a ride of about 440 miles. Brigadier-General Neville Chamberlain, who was still commanding the Punjab Frontier Force, met us at Kohat, and remained with us to the end. We did from twenty-five to forty miles a day, and our baggage and servants, carried on riding-camels, kept up with us.

This was my first experience of a part of India with which I had later so much to do, and which always interested me greatly. At the time of which I am writing it was a wild and lawless tract of country. As we left Kohat we met the bodies of four murdered men being carried in, but were told there was nothing unusual in such a sight. On one occasion General Chamberlain introduced to Sir Hugh Rose two young Khans, fine, handsome fellows, who were apparently on excellent terms. A few days later we were told that one of them had been murdered by his companion, there having been a blood-feud between their families for generations; although these two had been brought up together, and liked each other, the one whose clan had last lost a member by the feud felt himself in honour bound to sacrifice his friend.

When I rejoined my wife at the end of the tour, I found her a great[Page 277] deal worse than her letters had led me to expect, but she had been much cheered by the arrival of a sister who had come out to pay us a visit, and who lived with us until she married an old friend and brother officer of mine named Sladen. We remained at Umballa till the end of March; the only noteworthy circumstance that occurred there was a parade for announcing to the troops that Earl Canning had departed, and that the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine was now Viceroy of India.

Lord Canning There are few men whose conduct of affairs has been so severely criticized as Lord Canning's, but there are still fewer who, as Governors or Viceroys, have had to deal with such an overwhelming crisis as the Mutiny. While the want of appreciation Lord Canning at first displayed of the magnitude of that crisis may, with perfect justice, be attributed to the fact that most of his advisers had gained their experience only in Lower Bengal, and had therefore a very imperfect knowledge of popular feeling throughout India, the very large measure of success which attended his subsequent action was undoubtedly due to his own ability and sound judgment.

That by none of Lord Canning's responsible councillors could the extent of the Mutiny, or the position in Upper India, have been grasped, was evident from the telegram6 sent from Calcutta to the Commander-in-Chief on the 31st May, three weeks after the revolt at Meerut had occurred; but from the time Lord Canning left Calcutta in January, 1858, and had the opportunity of seeing and judging for himself, all that he did was wise and vigorous.

Outwardly Lord Canning was cold and reserved, the result, I think, of extreme sensitiveness; for he was without doubt very warm-hearted, and was greatly liked and respected by those about him, and there was universal regret throughout India when, three months after his departure, the news of his death was received.

Another Cold-Weather March We returned to Simla early in April. The season passed much as other seasons had passed, except that there was rather more gaiety. The new Viceroy remained in Calcutta; but Sir Hugh Rose had had quite enough of it the year before, so he came up to the Hills, and established himself at 'Barnes Court.' He was very hospitable, and having my sister-in-law to chaperon, my wife went out rather more than she had cared to do in previous years. We spent a good deal of our time also at Mashobra, a lovely place, in the heart of the Hills, about six miles from Simla, where the Chief had a house, which he was good enough to frequently place at our disposal, when not making use of it himself. It was an agreeable change, and one which we all greatly[Page 278] enjoyed. But at the best one gets very tired of the Hills by the close of the summer, and I was glad to start off towards the end of October with my wife and her sister for Agra, where this year the Head-Quarters camp was to be formed, as the Chief had settled the cold-weather tour was to begin with a march through Bundelkand and Central India, the theatre of his successful campaign.

The second march out we were startled by being told, when we awoke in the morning, that Colonel Gawler, the Deputy-Adjutant-General of Queen's troops, had been badly wounded in the night by a thief, who got into his tent with the object of stealing a large sum of money Gawler had received from the bank the previous day, and for greater safety had placed under his pillow when he went to bed. In the middle of the night his wife awoke him, saying there was someone in the tent, and by the dim light of a small oil-lamp he could just see a dark figure creeping along the floor. He sprang out of bed and seized the robber; but the latter, being perfectly naked and oiled all over, slipped through his hands and wriggled under the wall of the tent. Gawler caught him by the leg just as he was disappearing, and they struggled outside together. When despairing of being able to make his escape, the thief stabbed Gawler several times with a knife, which was tied by a string to his wrist. By this time Mrs. Gawler had been able to arouse two Kaffir servants, one of whom tried to seize the miscreant, but in his turn was stabbed. The second servant, however, was more wary, and succeeded in capturing the thief; Kaffir fashion, he knocked all the breath out of his body by running at him head down and butting him in the stomach, when it became easy to bind the miscreant hand and foot. It was a bad part of the country for thieves; and when some four weeks later I went off on a flying tour with the Commander-in-Chief, I did not leave my wife quite as happily as usual. But neither she nor her sister was afraid. Each night they sent everything at all valuable to be placed under the care of the guard, and having taken this precaution, were quite easy in their minds.

[plate 15]



a photograph by Messrs. Mayall.

When the camp reached Gwalior, the Maharaja Sindhia seemed to think he could not do enough to show his gratitude to Sir Hugh Rose for his opportune help in June, 1858,7 when the Gwalior troops mutinied, and joined the rebel army under the Rani of Jhansi and Tantia Topi. The day after our arrival Sindhia held a grand review of[Page 279] his new army in honour of our Chief. The next day there was an open-air entertainment in the Phulbagh (garden of flowers); the third a picnic and elephant fight, which, by the way, was a very tame affair. We had nerved ourselves to see something rather terrific, instead of which the great creatures twisted their trunks about each other in quite a playful manner, and directly the play seemed to be turning into earnest they were separated by their mahouts, being much too valuable to be allowed to injure themselves. Each day there was some kind of entertainment: pig-sticking or shooting expeditions in the morning, and banquets, fireworks, and illuminations in the evening.

Gwalior and Jhansi Gwalior is an interesting place. The fort is picturesquely situated above a perpendicular cliff; the road up to it is very steep, and it must have been almost impregnable in former days. It was made doubly interesting to us by Sir Hugh Rose explaining how he attacked it, and pointing out the spot where the Rani of Jhansi was killed in a charge of the 8th Hussars.

Our next halt was Jhansi. Here also Sir Hugh had a thrilling tale to tell of its capture, and of his having to fight the battle of the Betwa against a large force brought to the assistance of the rebels by Tantia Topi, while the siege was actually being carried on.

From Jhansi the big camp marched to Lucknow, viâ Cawnpore; while the Chief with a small staff (of which I was one) and light tents, made a detour by Saugor, Jubbulpur, and Allahabad. We travelled through pretty jungle for the most part, interspersed with low hills, and we had altogether a very enjoyable trip. Sir Hugh was justly proud of the splendid service the Central India Field Force had performed under his command; and, as we rode along, it delighted him to point out the various places where he had come in contact with the rebels.

While at Allahabad, on the 13th January—quite the coolest time of the year—I had a slight sunstroke, which it took me a very long time to get over completely. The sensible custom introduced by Lord Clyde, of wearing helmets, was not always adhered to, and Sir Hugh Rose was rather fond of cocked hats. On this occasion I was wearing this—for India—most unsuitable head-dress, and, as ill-luck would have it, the Chief kept me out rather late, going over the ground where the present cantonment stands. I did not feel anything at the time, but an hour later I was suddenly seized with giddiness and sickness, and for a short time I could neither see nor hear. Plentiful douches of cold water brought me round, and I was well enough in the afternoon to go with the Chief to inspect the fort; but for months afterwards I never lost the pain in my head, and for many years I was very susceptible to the evil influence of the sun's rays.

We reached Lucknow towards the middle of January. Here, as elsewhere, we had constant parades and inspections, for Sir Hugh carried out his duties in the most thorough manner, and spared himself[Page 280] no trouble to secure the efficiency and the well-being of the soldier. At the same time, he was careful not to neglect his social duties; he took a prominent part in all amusements, and it was mainly due to his liberal support that we were able to keep up a small pack of hounds with Head-Quarters, which afforded us much enjoyment during the winter months.

From Lucknow we marched through Bareilly, Meerut, and Umballa, and the 30th March saw us all settled at Simla for the season.

Early in April Lord Elgin arrived in Simla for the hot weather, and from that time to the present, Simla has continued to be the Head-Quarters of the Government during the summer months.

Departmental Promotion About this time the changes necessitated by the amalgamation of the services took place in the army staff. Edwin Johnson lost his appointment in consequence, and Colonel Haythorne,8 Adjutant-General of Queen's troops, became Adjutant-General of the Army in India, with Donald Stewart as his deputy. The order limiting the tenure of employment on the staff in the same grade to five years was also now introduced, which entailed my good friend Arthur Becher vacating the Quartermaster-Generalship, after having held it for eleven years. He was succeeded by Colonel Paton, with Lumsden as his deputy, and Charles Johnson (brother of Edwin Johnson) and myself as assistants in the Department.



In the autumn of 1863, while we were preparing for the usual winter tour, Sir Hugh Rose, who had accompanied Lord Elgin on a trip through the hills, telegraphed to the Head-Quarters staff to join him at Mian Mir without delay.

The Umbeyla Expedition The news which greeted us on our arrival was indeed disturbing. Lord Elgin was at Dharmsala in a dying condition, and the Chief had been obliged to leave him and push on to Lahore, in consequence of unsatisfactory reports from Brigadier-General Chamberlain, who was just then commanding an expedition which had been sent into the mountains near Peshawar, and had met with unexpected opposition. The civil authorities on the spot reported that there existed a great deal of excitement all along the border, that the tribes were collecting in large numbers, that emissaries from Kabul had appeared amongst them, and that, unless reinforcements could be sent up at once, the Government would be involved in a war which must inevitably lead to the most serious complications, not only on the frontier, but with Afghanistan. In so grave a light did the Lieutenant-Governor, Sir[Page 281] Robert Montgomery, view the position, that he contemplated the force being withdrawn and the undertaking abandoned.

Sir Hugh had had nothing to do with the despatch of this expedition; it had been decided on by the Government of India in consultation with the Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab. When the Commander-in-Chief was communicated with, he expressed himself adverse to the proposal, and placed his views at length before the Government, pointing out the inexpediency of entering a difficult and unknown country, unless the troops were properly equipped with transport, supplies, and reserve ammunition; that time did not permit of their being so equipped before the winter set in; and that, to provide a force of 5,000 men (the strength considered necessary by the Government), the frontier would have to be dangerously weakened. Moreover, he gave it as his opinion that it would be better to postpone operations until the spring, when everything could be perfectly arranged. Subsequent events proved how sound was this advice. But before proceeding with my narrative it will be as well to explain the circumstances with led the authorities to undertake this expedition.

In 1857, when all our resources were required to quell internal tumult, the Hindustani fanatics1 took the opportunity to stir up disturbances all along the Yusafzai frontier of the Peshawar district, and, aided by the rebel sepoys who had fled to them for protection, they made raids upon our border, and committed all kinds of atrocities. We were obliged, therefore, to send an expedition against them in 1858, which resulted in their being driven from their stronghold, Sitana, and in the neighbouring tribes being bound down to prevent them reoccupying that place. Three years later the fanatics returned to their former haunts and built up a new settlement at Malka; the old troubles recommenced, and for two years they had been allowed to go on raiding, murdering, and attacking our outposts with impunity. It was, therefore, quite time that measures should be taken to effectually rid the frontier of these disturbers of the peace, provided such measures could have been decided upon early enough in the year to ensure success.

The Akhund of Swat The Punjab Government advocated the despatch of a very strong[Page 282] force. Accordingly, two columns were employed, the base of one being in the Peshawar valley, and that of the other in Hazara. The Peshawar column was to move by the Umbeyla Pass, the Buner frontier, and the Chamla valley, thus operating on the enemy's line of retreat. This route would not have been chosen, had not Chamberlain been assured by the civil authorities that no hostility need be feared from the Bunerwals, even if their country had to be entered, as they had given no trouble for fifteen years, and their spiritual head, the Akhund of Swat,2 had no sympathy with the fanatics. It was not, therefore, considered necessary to warn the Buner people of our approach until preparations were completed; indeed, it was thought unadvisable to do so, as it was important to keep the proposed line of advance secret. The strength of the force was 6,000 men, with 19 guns, but to make up these numbers the stations in Upper India had to be considerably weakened, and there was no reserve nearer than Lahore.

The Peshawar column3 being all ready for a start, a Proclamation was forwarded to the Buner and other neighbouring tribes, informing them of the object of the expedition, and stating that there was no intention of interfering with them or their possessions.

On the following morning, the 20th October, the Umbeyla Pass was entered, and by noon the kotal4 was reached without any resistance to speak of; but, from information brought in, it was evident that any further advance would be stoutly opposed. The road turned out to be much more difficult than had been anticipated, and the hurriedly collected transport proved unequal to the strain. Not a single baggage animal, except the ammunition mules, got up that night; indeed, it was not until the morning of the 22nd—more than forty-eight hours after they started—that the rear guard reached the kotal, a distance of only six miles. As soon as it arrived Colonel Alex. Taylor, R.E., was sent off with a body of Cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Probyn, to reconnoitre the road in front. The delay in reaching the top of the pass had given the tribes time to collect, and when the reconnoitring[Page 283] party entered the Chamla valley the Bunerwals could be seen about two miles and a half off, occupying in force the range which separates Buner and Chamla. Whatever may have been their first intention, they apparently could not resist the temptation to try and cut off this small body of Cavalry, for our horsemen on their return journey found a large number of the trusted Buner tribe attempting to block the mouth of the pass. A charge was made, but mounted men could not do much in such a hilly country; the proceedings of the Bunerwals, however, had been observed from the kotal, and Major Brownlow,5 with some of his own regiment (the 20th Punjab Infantry), was sent to the assistance of the party. A hand-to-hand fight ensued, and the enemy pressed our troops closely on their way back, coming right in amongst them with the utmost daring.

There was now brought in to the Commissioner by a spy the copy of a letter from the Hindustani fanatics, addressed to the Bunerwals, telling them not to be taken in by our assurances that our only object was to punish the fanatics, for our real intentions were to annex Chamla, Buner, and Swat. This letter no doubt aroused the suspicions of the tribes, and, encouraged by the slowness of our movements, they all joined against us from Buner, Mahaban, and the Black Mountain.

On the 23rd large bodies of men with numerous standards were to be seen approaching the mouth of the pass, and a day or two later a report was received that our foes were to have the support of the Akhund of Swat, which meant a most formidable accession of moral as well as material strength, and put a stop, for the time being, to any possibility of a successful advance being made with the force at Chamberlain's disposal.

The Eagle's Nest and 'Crag piquet' The position occupied by our troops was enclosed on the left (west) by the Guru Mountain, which separates Umbeyla from Buner, and on the right (east) by a range of hills, not quite so high. The main piquet on the Guru occupied a position upon some precipitous cliffs known as the Eagle's Nest, while that on the right was designated the 'Crag piquet.' The Eagle's Nest was only large enough to accommodate 110 men, so 120 more were placed under the shelter of some rocks at its base, and the remainder of the troops told off for the defence of the left piquet were drawn up on and about a rocky knoll, 400 feet west of the Eagle's Nest.

Some 2,000 of the enemy occupied a breastwork on the crest of a spur of the Guru Mountain; and about noon on the 26th they moved down, and with loud shouts attacked the Eagle's Nest. Their matchlock men posted themselves to the greatest advantage in a wood, and opened a galling fire upon our defences, while their swordsmen made a determined advance. The nature of the ground prevented our guns[Page 284] from being brought to bear upon the assailants, and they were thus able to get across the open space in front of the piquet, and plant their standards close under its parapet. For some considerable time they remained in this position, all our efforts to dislodge them proving of no avail. Eventually, however, they were forced to give way, and were driven up the hill, leaving the ground covered with their dead, and a great many wounded, who were taken into our hospitals and carefully treated, while a still greater number were carried off by their friends. Our losses were, 2 British officers, 1 Native officer, and 26 men killed; and 2 British officers, 7 Native officers, and 86 men wounded.

The day following the fight the Bunerwals were told they might carry away their dead, and we took advantage of their acceptance of this permission to reason with them as to the uselessness of an unnecessary sacrifice of their tribesmen, which would be the certain result of further opposition to us. Their demeanour was courteous, and they conversed freely with General Chamberlain and Colonel Reynell Taylor, the Commissioner, but they made it evident that they were determined not to give in.

Our position had now become rather awkward; there was a combination against us of all the tribes between the Indus and the Kabul rivers, and their numbers could not be less than 15,000 armed men. Mutual animosities were for the time allowed to remain in abeyance, and the tribes all flocked to fight under the Akhund's standard in the interests of their common faith. Moreover, there was trouble in the rear from the people along the Yusafzai border, who assisted the enemy by worrying our lines of communication. Under these changed conditions, and with such an inadequate force, Chamberlain came to the conclusion that, for the moment, he could only remain on the defensive, and trust to time, to the discouragement which repeated unsuccessful attacks were sure to produce on the enemy, and to the gradual decrease of their numbers, to break up the combination against us; for, as these tribesmen only bring with them the quantity of food they are able to carry, as soon as it is finished they are bound to suspend operations till more can be procured.

For three weeks almost daily attacks were made on our position; the enemy fought magnificently, some of them being killed inside our batteries, and twice they gained possession of the 'Crag piquet,' the key of the position, which it was essential should be retaken at all hazards. On the second occasion General Chamberlain himself led the attacking party, and was so severely wounded that he was obliged to relinquish the command of the force.

The Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, being convinced that reinforcements were necessary, in consultation with Colonels Durand6 and Norman (the Foreign and Military Secretaries, who had come to[Page 285] Lahore to meet the Viceroy), and without waiting for the sanction of the Commander-in-Chief, ordered to the frontier the three regiments which had been detailed for the Viceroy's camp,7 as well as the 93rd Highlanders, then at Sialkot; and when Sir Hugh Rose on his arrival at Lahore heard of the heavy losses the expeditionary force had sustained, and of General Chamberlain being hors de combat from his wound, further reinforcements from every direction were hurried to the front. Subsequently, however, it became a question whether the troops should not be withdrawn altogether, and the punishment of the fanatics given up, the Government of India and the Punjab Government being completely in accord in favouring this view, while the Commissioner of Peshawar, Major James (who had succeeded Reynell Taylor),8 and Sir Hugh Rose were as strongly opposed to a retrograde movement. The Commander-in-Chief pointed out to the Government that the loss of prestige and power we must sustain by retiring from the Umbeyla Pass would be more disastrous, both from a military and political point of view, than anything that could happen save the destruction of the force itself, and that General Chamberlain, on whose sound judgment he could rely, was quite sure that a retirement was unnecessary.

The death of Lord Elgin Unfortunately at this time the Viceroy died at Dharmsala, and the question remained in abeyance pending the arrival of Sir William Denison, Governor of Madras, who was coming round to take over the reins of Government until a successor to Lord Elgin should be sent from England.

In the meantime Sir Hugh Rose was most anxious to obtain exact information respecting our position at Umbeyla, the means of operating from it, the nature of the ground—in fact, all details which could only be satisfactorily obtained by sending someone to report on the situation, with whom he had had personal communication regarding the points about which he required to be enlightened. He therefore determined to despatch two officers on special service, whose duty it would be to put the Commander-in-Chief in possession of all the facts of the case; accordingly, Colonel Adye9 (Deputy-Adjutant-General of Royal Artillery) and I were ordered to proceed to Umbeyla without delay.

Adye proved a most charming travelling companion, clever and entertaining, and I think we both enjoyed our journey. We reached the pass on the 25th November.

Loyalty of our Pathan soldiers There had been no fighting for some days, and most of the wounded had been removed. Sir Neville Chamberlain was still in camp, and I was sorry to find him suffering greatly from his wound. We were much interested in going over the piquets and listening to the story of [Page 286] the different attacks made upon them, which had evidently been conducted by the enemy with as much skill as courage.10 The loyalty of our Native soldiers struck me as having been most remarkable. Not a single desertion had occurred, although all the Native regiments engaged, with the exception of the Gurkhas and Punjab Pioneers, had amongst them members of the several tribes we were fighting, and many of our soldiers were even closely related to some of the hostile tribesmen; on one occasion a young Buner sepoy actually recognized his own father amongst the enemy's dead when the fight was over.11

We listened to many tales of the gallantry of the British officers. The names of Brownlow, Keyes,12 and Hughes13 were on everyone's lips, and Brownlow's defence of the Eagle's Nest on the 26th October, and of the 'Crag piquet' on the 12th November, spoke volumes for his coolness and pluck, and for the implicit faith reposed in him by the men of the 20th Punjab Infantry, the regiment he had raised in 1857 when but a subaltern. In his official report the General remarked that 'to Major Brownlow's determination and personal example he attributed the preservation of the "Crag piquet."' And Keyes's recapture of the same piquet was described by Sir Neville as 'a most brilliant exploit, stamping Major Keyes as an officer possessing some of the highest military qualifications.' Brownlow and Keyes were both recommended for the Victoria Cross.

The Enemy Disheartened We (Adye and I) had no difficulty in making up our minds as to[Page 287] the course which ought to be taken. The column was daily being strengthened by the arrival of reinforcements, and although the combination of the tribesmen was still formidable, the enemy were showing signs of being disheartened by their many losses, and of a wish to come to terms.

Having consulted the civil and military authorities on the spot, we informed the Commander-in-Chief that they were of opinion a withdrawal would be most unwise, and that it was hoped that on the arrival of General Garvock14 (Chamberlain's successor) an advance would be made into the Chamla valley, for there would then be a sufficient number of troops to undertake an onward move, as well as to hold the present position, which, as we told the Chief, was one of the strongest we had ever seen.

Sir William Denison reached Calcutta on the 2nd December. A careful study of the correspondence in connexion with the Umbeyla expedition satisfied him that the Commander-in-Chief's views were correct, and that a retirement would be unwise.

Sir Hugh Rose had previously requested to be allowed to personally conduct the operations, and in anticipation of the Government acceding to his request, he had sent a light camp to Hasan Abdal, from which place he intended to push on to Umbeyla; and with the object of collecting troops near the frontier, where they would be available as a reserve should the expedition not be soon and satisfactorily settled, he desired me to select an encamping-ground between Rawal Pindi and Attock suitable for 10,000 men.

Leaving Adye in the pass, I started for Attock, where I spent three days riding about in search of a promising site for the camp. I settled upon a place near Hasan Abdal, which, however, was not in the end made use of. The people of the country were very helpful to me; indeed, when they heard I had been a friend of John Nicholson, they seemed to think they could not do enough for me, and delighted in talking of their old leader, whom they declared to be the greatest man they had ever known.

Bunerwals show signs of submission On my return I marched up the pass with the Rev. W. G. Cowie15 and Probyn, who, with 400 Cavalry, had been ordered to the front to be in readiness for a move into the Chamla valley. James, the Commissioner, had been working to detach the Bunerwals from the combination against us, and on the afternoon of our arrival a deputation of their headmen arrived in camp, and before their departure the next morning they promised to accompany a force proceeding to destroy Malka, and to expel the Hindustani fanatics from the Buner country.

Later, however, a messenger came in to say they could not fulfil their[Page 288] promise, being unable to resist the pressure brought to bear upon them by their co-religionists. The man further reported that large numbers of fresh tribesmen had appeared on the scene, and that it was intended to attack us on the 16th. He advised the Commissioner to take the initiative, and gave him to understand that if we advanced the Bunerwals would stand aloof.

Sir Hugh Rose had been accorded permission to take command of the troops in the field, and had sent word to General Garvock not 'to attempt any operations until further orders.' James, however, thinking that the situation demanded immediate action, as disturbances had broken out in other parts of the Peshawar valley, deprecated delay, and pressed Garvock to advance, telling him that a successful fight would put matters straight. Garvock consented to follow the Commissioner's advice, and arranged to move on the following day.

The force was divided into three columns. The first and second—consisting of about 4,800 men, and commanded respectively by Colonel W. Turner, C.B.,16 and Lieutenant-Colonel Wilde, C.B.—were to form the attacking party, while the third, about 3,000 strong, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Vaughan,17 was to be left for the protection of the camp.

[plate 16]



From a sketch by General Sir John Adye, G.C.B., R.A.

The Conical Hill At daybreak, on the 15th, the troops for the advance, unencumbered by tents or baggage, and each man carrying two days' rations, assembled at the base of the 'Crag piquet.' Turner, an excellent officer, who during the short time he had been at Umbeyla had inspired great confidence by his soldierly qualities, had on the previous afternoon reconnoitred to the right of the camp, and had discovered that about 4,000 men were holding the village of Lalu, from which it was necessary to dislodge them before Umbeyla could be attacked. On being told to advance, therefore, Turner moved off in the direction of Lalu, and, driving the enemy's piquets before him, occupied the heights overlooking the valley, out of which rose, immediately in front about 200 yards off, a conical hill which hid Lalu from view. This hill, which was crowded with Hindustani fanatics and their Pathan allies, was a most formidable position; the sides were precipitous, and the summit was strengthened by sangars.18 No further move could be made until the enemy were dislodged, so Turner lined the heights all round with his Infantry, and opened fire with his Mountain guns. Meanwhile, Wilde's column had cleared off the enemy from the front of the camp, and formed up on Turner's left. On the advance being sounded, Turner's Infantry rushed down the slopes, and in ten minutes could be seen driving the enemy from the heights on his right; at the same time the 101st Fusiliers, the leading regiment of Wilde's column,[Page 289] made straight for the top of the conical hill, and, under cover of the fire from the Mountain guns of both columns, and supported by the Guides, 4th Gurkhas, and 23rd Pioneers, they climbed the almost perpendicular sides. When near the top a short halt was made to give the men time to get their breath; the signal being then given, amidst a shower of bullets and huge stones, the position was stormed, and carried at the point of the bayonet. It was a grand sight as Adye and I watched it from Hughes's battery; but we were considerably relieved when we perceived the enemy flying down the sides of the hill, and heard the cheers of the gallant Fusiliers as they stood victorious on the highest peak.

Now that the enemy were on the run it was the time to press them, and this Turner did so effectually that the leading men of his column entered Lalu simultaneously with the last of the fugitives. The rapidity of this movement was so unexpected that it threw the enemy inside the walls into confusion; they made no stand, and were soon in full retreat towards Umbeyla and the passes leading into Buner.

While affairs were thus prospering on our right, the enemy, apparently imagining we were too busy to think of our left, came in large numbers from the village of Umbeyla, threatening the camp and the communications of the second column. Wilde, however, was prepared for them, and held his ground until reinforced by Turner, when he made a forward movement. The Guides, and detachments of the 5th Gurkhas and 3rd Sikhs, charged down one spur, and the 101st down another; the enemy were driven off with great slaughter, leaving a standard in the hands of the Gurkhas, and exposing themselves in their flight to Turner's guns. During the day they returned, and, gathering on the heights, made several unsuccessful attacks upon our camp. At last, about 2 p.m., Brownlow, who was in command of the right defences, assumed the offensive, and, aided by Keyes, moved out of the breastworks and, by a succession of well-executed charges, completely cleared the whole front of the position, and drove the tribesmen with great loss into the plain below.

All opposition having now ceased, and the foe being in full retreat, the force bivouacked for the night. We had 16 killed and 67 wounded; while our opponents admitted to 400 killed and wounded.

The next morning we were joined by Probyn with 200 sabres of the 11th Bengal Lancers and the same number of the Guides; and after a hasty breakfast the order was given to march into the Chamla valley. My duty was to accompany the Mountain batteries and show them the way. As we debouched into comparatively open country, the enemy appeared on a ridge which completely covered our approach to Umbeyla, and we could descry many standards flying on the most prominent points. The road was so extremely difficult that it was half-past two o'clock before the whole force was clear of the hills.

General Garvock, having made a careful reconnaissance of the[Page 290] enemy's position, which was of great strength and peculiarly capable of defence, had decided to turn their right, a movement which was to be entrusted to the second column, and I was told to inform Turner that he must try and cut them off from the Buner Pass as they retreated. I found Turner close to Umbeyla and delivered my message. He moved forward at once with the 23rd Pioneers and a wing of the 32nd Pioneers in line, supported by the second wing, having in reserve a wing of the 7th Royal Fusiliers.

Umbeyla in Flames When we had passed the village of Umbeyla, which was in flames, having been set fire to by our Cavalry, the wing of the 32nd was brought up in prolongation of our line to the right. The advance was continued to within about 800 yards of the Buner Pass, when Turner, observing a large body of the enemy threatening his left flank, immediately sent two companies of the Royal Fusiliers in that direction. Just at that moment a band of Ghazis furiously attacked the left flank, which was at a disadvantage, having got into broken ground covered with low jungle. In a few seconds five of the Pioneer British officers were on the ground, one killed and four wounded; numbers of the men were knocked over, and the rest, staggered by the suddenness of the onslaught, fell back on their reserve, where they found the needed support, for the Fusiliers stood as firm as a rock. At the critical moment when the Ghazis made their charge, Wright, the Assistant-Adjutant-General, and I, being close by, rushed in amongst the Pioneers and called on them to follow us; as we were personally known to the men of both regiments, they quickly pulled themselves together and responded to our efforts to rally them. It was lucky they did so, for had there been any delay or hesitation, the enemy, who thronged the slopes above us, would certainly have come down in great numbers, and we should have had a most difficult task. As it was, we were entirely successful in repulsing the Ghazis, not a man of whom escaped. We counted 200 of the enemy killed; our losses were comparatively slight—8 killed and 80 wounded.

We bivouacked for the night near the village of Umbeyla, and the next morning the Bunerwals, who, true to their word, had taken no part in the fighting on the 15th or 16th, came in and made their submission.

Bunerwals agree to our terms The question which now had to be decided was, whether a force fully equipped and strong enough to overcome all opposition should be sent to destroy the fanatic settlement of Malka, or whether the work of annihilation should be entrusted to the Bunerwals, witnessed by British officers. The latter course was eventually adopted, chiefly on account of the delay which provisioning a brigade would entail—a delay which the Commissioner was anxious to avoid—for although for the present the combination had broken up, and most of the tribesmen were dispersing to their homes, the Akhund of Swat and[Page 291] his followers were still hovering about in the neighbourhood, and inaction on our part would in all probability have led to a fresh gathering and renewed hostilities.

The terms which were drawn up, and to which the Bunerwals agreed, were:

The breaking-up of the tribal gathering in the Buner Pass.

The destruction of Malka; those carrying out the work to be accompanied by British officers and such escort as might be considered necessary by us.

The expulsion of the Hindustanis from the Buner, Chamla, and Amazai countries.

And, finally, it was stipulated that the headmen of their tribe should be left as hostages until such time as the requirements should have been fulfilled.

On the afternoon of Saturday, the 19th December, the little party of British officers who were to witness the destruction of Malka assembled at Umbeyla. Its members were Reynell Taylor (who was in charge), Alex. Taylor (Commanding Engineer), two Survey officers, Wright, Adye, and myself. Twenty-five Cavalry and 4 companies of the Guides Infantry, under four officers, formed our escort, and it had been arranged that we were to be accompanied by four leading Buner Khans, with 2,000 followers, who would be responsible for our safety, and destroy the fanatics' stronghold in our presence. Rain was falling heavily, but as all our arrangements had been made, and delay was considered undesirable, it was settled that we should make a start. It was rough travelling, and it was almost dark when we reached Kuria, only eight miles on our way, where we halted for the night, and where we had to remain the next day, as the Bunerwals declared they could not continue the journey until they had come to an understanding with the Amazais, in whose territory Malka was situated.

We had noticed on leaving Umbeyla that, instead of 2,000 Bunerwals, there were only about sixty or seventy at the most, and in reply to our repeated questions as to what had become of the remainder, we were told they would join us later on. It soon became evident, however, that no more were coming, and that the Khans thought it wiser to trust to their own influence with the Amazais rather than to intimidation.

We made a fresh start on the morning of the 21st. Malka was only twelve miles off, but the way was so difficult, and our guides stopped so often to consult with the numerous bands of armed men we came across, that it was sunset before we arrived at our destination.

Malka was perched on a spur of the Mahabun mountain, some distance below its highest peak. It was a strong, well-built place, with accommodation for about 1,500 people. The Amazais did not attempt to disguise their disgust at our presence in their country, and [Page 292] they gathered in knots, scowling and pointing at us, evidently discussing whether we should or should not be allowed to return.

Malka Destroyed The next morning Malka was set on fire, and the huge column of smoke which ascended from the burning village, and was visible for miles round, did not tend to allay the ill-feeling so plainly displayed. The Native officers of the Guides warned us that delay was dangerous, as the people were becoming momentarily more excited, and were vowing we should never return. It was no use, however, to attempt to make a move without the consent of the tribesmen, for we were a mere handful compared to the thousands who had assembled around Malka, and we were separated from our camp by twenty miles of most difficult country. Our position was no doubt extremely critical, and it was well for us that we had at our head such a cool, determined leader as Reynell Taylor. I greatly admired the calm, quiet manner in which he went up and spoke to the headmen, telling them that, the object of our visit having been accomplished, we were ready to retrace our steps. At this the Amazais became still further excited. They talked in loud tones, and gesticulated in true Pathan fashion, thronging round Taylor, who stood quite alone and perfectly self-possessed in the midst of the angry and dangerous-looking multitude. At this crisis the Bunerwals came to our rescue. The most influential of the tribe, a grey-bearded warrior, who had lost an eye and an arm in some tribal contest, forced his way through the rapidly increasing crowd to Taylor's side, and, raising his one arm to enjoin silence, delivered himself as follows: 'You are hesitating whether you will allow these English to return unmolested. You can, of course, murder them and their escort; but if you do, you must kill us Bunerwals first, for we have sworn to protect them, and we will do so with our lives.' This plucky speech produced a quieting effect, and taking advantage of the lull in the storm, we set out on our return journey; but evidently the tribesmen did not consider the question finally or satisfactorily settled, for they followed us the whole way to Kuria. The slopes of the hills on both sides were covered with men. Several times we were stopped while stormy discussions took place, and once, as we were passing through a narrow defile, an armed Amazai, waving a standard above his head, rushed down towards us. Fortunately for us, he was stopped by some of those less inimically disposed; for if he had succeeded in inciting anyone to fire a single shot, the desire for blood would quickly have spread, and in all probability not one of our party would have escaped.

On the 23rd December we reached our camp in the Umbeyla Pass, when the force, which had only been kept there till our return, retired to the plains and was broken up.

During my absence at Umbeyla my wife remained with friends at Mian Mir for some time, and then made her way to Peshawar, where [Page 293] I joined her on Christmas Day. She spent one night en route in Sir Hugh Rose's camp at Hasan Abdal, and found the Chief in great excitement and very angry at such a small party having been sent to Malka, and placed at the mercy of the tribes. He did not know that my wife had arrived, and in passing her tent she heard him say: 'It was madness, and not one of them will ever come back alive.' She was of course dreadfully frightened. As soon as Sir Hugh heard she was in camp, he went to see her, and tried to soften down what he knew she must have heard; but he could not conceal his apprehension; and my poor wife's anxiety was terrible, for she did not hear another word till the morning of the day I returned to her.



Early in the New Year (1864) Sir Hugh Rose, with the Head-Quarters camp, marched into Peshawar, where we remained until the middle of February. The time was chiefly spent in inspections, parades, and field-days, varied by an occasional run with the hounds. The hunting about Peshawar was very fair, and we all, the Chief included, got a great deal of fun out of our small pack.

On the 25th January a full-dress parade was held to announce to the garrison that Sir John Lawrence had been appointed Viceroy of India, and soon afterwards we left Peshawar and began our return march to Simla.

We changed our house this year and took one close to the Stewarts, an arrangement for which I was very thankful later, when my wife had a great sorrow in the death of her sister, Mrs. Sladen, at Peshawar. It was everything for her at such a time to have a kind and sympathizing friend close at hand, when I was engaged with my work and could be very little with her during the day. At this time, as at all others, Sir Hugh Rose was a most considerate friend to us; he placed his house at Mashobra at my wife's disposal, thus providing her with a quiet resort which she frequently made use of and which she learned to love so much that, when I returned to Simla as Commander-in-Chief, her first thought was to secure this lovely 'Retreat' as a refuge from the (sometimes) slightly trying gaiety of Simla.

The Commander-in-Chief was good enough to send in my name for a brevet for the Umbeyla expedition, but the Viceroy refused to forward the recommendation, for the reason that I was 'too junior to be made a Lieutenant-Colonel.' I was then thirty-two!

A Voyage Round the Cape Throughout the whole of 1864 I was more or less ill; the office work (which never suited me quite as well as more active employment)[Page 294] was excessive, for, in addition to the ordinary routine, I had undertaken to revise the 'Bengal Route-Book,' which had become quite obsolete, having been compiled in 1837, when Kurnal was our frontier station. A voyage round the Cape was still considered the panacea for all Indian ailments, and the doctors strongly advised my taking leave to England, and travelling by that route.

We left Simla towards the end of October, and, after spending the next three months in Calcutta, where I was chiefly employed in taking up transports and superintending the embarkation of troops returning to England, I was given the command of a batch of 300 time-expired men on board the Renown, one of Green's frigate-built ships which was chartered for their conveyance. Two hundred of the men belonged to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Rifle Brigade, the remainder to the Artillery and various other corps; they had all been twelve years in the army, and most of them were decorated for service in the Crimea and Indian Mutiny.

1865 At the inspection parade before we embarked, a certain number of men were brought up for punishment for various offences committed on the way down country; none of the misdemeanours appeared to me very serious, so I determined to let the culprits off. I told the men that we had now met for the first time and I was unwilling to commence our acquaintance by awarding punishments; we had to spend three or four months together, and I hoped they would show, by their good behaviour while under my command, that I had not made a mistake in condoning their transgressions. The officers seemed somewhat surprised at my action in this matter, but I think it was proved by the men's subsequent conduct that I had not judged them incorrectly, for they all behaved in quite an exemplary manner throughout the voyage.

We had been on board more than six weeks, when one of the crew was attacked by small pox—an untoward circumstance in a crowded ship. The sailor was placed in a boat which was hung over the ship's side, and a cabin-boy, the marks on whose face plainly showed that he had already suffered badly from the disease, was told off to look after him. The man recovered, and there was no other case. Shortly before we reached St. Helena, scurvy appeared amongst the troops, necessitating lime-juice being given in larger quantities, but what proved a more effectual remedy was water-cress, many sacks of which were laid in before we left the island.

On the 29th May, 1865, we sighted the 'Lizard,' and took a pilot on board, who brought with him a few newspapers, which confirmed the tidings signalled to us by an American ship that the war between the Federals and Confederates was at an end. How eagerly we scanned the journals, after having heard nothing from home for four months, but the only piece of news we found of personal interest to ourselves[Page 295] was that my father had been made a K.C.B.

On the 30th May we reached Portsmouth, and landed between two showers of snow! I had a final parade of the men before leaving the ship, and I was quite sorry to say good-bye to them; some of the poor fellows were already beginning to be anxious about their future, and to regret that their time with the colours was over.

My father, mother, and sister came up to London to meet us, very little changed since I had left them six years before. I remained in England till March, 1866, when I returned to India, leaving my wife1866 behind to follow in the autumn.

Cholera Camps While I was at home, Sir Hugh Rose's term of the chief command in India came to an end, and his place had been taken by Sir William Mansfield. On my arrival in Calcutta, I received orders to join the Allahabad division, and thither I proceeded. In October I went to Calcutta to meet my wife and take her to Allahabad, where we remained for nearly a year, her first experience of a hot season in the plains, and a very bad one it was. Cholera was rife; the troops had to be sent away into camps, more or less distant from the station, all of which had to be visited once, if not twice, daily; this kept me pretty well on the move from morning till night. It was a sad time for everyone. People we had seen alive and well one day were dead and buried the next; and in the midst of all this sorrow and tragedy the most irksome—because such an incongruous—part of our experience was that we had constantly to get up entertainments, penny readings, and the like, to amuse the men and keep their minds occupied, for if once soldiers begin to think of the terrors of cholera they are seized with panic, and many get the disease from pure fright.

My wife usually accompanied me to the cholera camps, preferring to do this rather than be left alone at home. On one occasion, I had just got into our carriage after going round the hospital, when a young officer ran after us to tell me a corporal in whom I had been much interested was dead. The poor fellow's face was blue; the cholera panic had evidently seized him, and I said to my wife, 'He will be the next.' I had no sooner reached home than I received a report of his having been seized.

We were fortunate in having at Allahabad as Chaplain the present Bishop of Lahore, who, with his wife, had only lately come to India; they never wearied in doing all that was possible for the soldiers. Bishop Matthew is still one of our closest friends; his good, charming and accomplished wife, alas! died some years ago.

The Abyssinian Expedition We remained at Allahabad until August, 1867, when we heard that a brigade from Bengal was likely to be required to take part in an expedition which would probably be sent from Bombay to Abyssinia for the relief of some Europeans whom the King, Theodore, had imprisoned, and that the Mountain battery, on the strength of which[Page 296] my name was still borne, would in such case be employed. I therefore thought I had better go to Simla, see the authorities, and arrange for rejoining my battery, if the rumour turned out to be true. The cholera had now disappeared, so I was at liberty to take leave, and we both looked forward to a cooler climate and a change to brighter scenes after the wretched experience we had been through. On my arrival at Simla I called upon the Commander-in-Chief and told him that, if my battery was sent on service, I wished to join it and was quite ready to resign my staff appointment.

Sir William Mansfield was particularly kind in his reception of me, from which I augured well; but I could learn nothing definite, and it was not until quite the end of September that it was announced that Colonel Donald Stewart was to have command of the Bengal Brigade with the Abyssinian Force, and that I was to be his Assistant-Quartermaster-General. We at once hastened back to Allahabad, where we only remained long enough to pack up what we wanted to take with us, and arrange for the disposal of our property; thence we proceeded to Calcutta, where, for the next two months, I had a busy time taking up transports and superintending the equipment of the force.

I had often read and heard of the difficulties and delays experienced by troops landing in a foreign country, in consequence of their requirements not being all shipped in the same vessels with themselves—men in one ship, camp equipage in another, transport and field hospital in a third, or perhaps the mules in one and their pack-saddles in another; and I determined to try and prevent these mistakes upon this occasion. With Stewart's approval, I arranged that each detachment should embark complete in every detail, which resulted in the troops being landed and marched off without the least delay as each vessel reached its destination.1

We were living with the Stewarts in the Commander-in-Chief's[Page 297] quarters in Fort William, which His Excellency had placed at our disposal for the time being. On the 1st November Calcutta was visited by the second cyclone within my experience. We had arranged to go to the opera that evening, but when it was time to start the wind was so high that there seemed every chance of the carriage being blown over before we could get there, so we decided not to attempt it. It was well we did, for the few adventurous spirits who struggled through the storm had the greatest difficulty in getting back to their homes. The opera-house was unroofed before the performance was half over, and very little of the building remained standing the next day. At bedtime we still thought it was only a bad storm, but towards midnight the wind increased to an alarming extent, and my wife awoke me, and begged me to get up, as the windows were being burst open and deluges of rain coming in. Stewart and I tried to reclose the windows, but the thick iron bars had been bent in two and forced out of their sockets; a heavy oak plate-chest and boxes, which we with much difficulty dragged across the windows, were blown into the middle of the dining-room, like so much cardboard, and the whole place was gradually flooded. We were driven out of each room in turn, till at length we all took refuge in a small box room, about ten feet wide, right in the middle of the house, where we remained the rest of the night and 'hoped for the day.'

Towards morning the wind abated, but what a scene of desolation was that upon which we emerged! The rooms looked as if they could never be made habitable again, and much of our property was floating about in a foot of water.

My first thought was for the shipping, and I hurried down to the river to see how my transports had fared. Things were much better than I expected to find them—only two had been damaged. Most fortunately the cyclone, having come from a different direction, was not accompanied by a storm-wave such as that which worked so much mischief amongst the shipping on a former occasion, but the destruction on land was even greater: all the finest trees were torn up by the roots, a great part of the Native bazaar was levelled, and lay from two to three feet deep in water, while many houses were wholly or partly demolished. We came across most curious sights when driving round Calcutta in the evening; some of the houses were divided clean down the centre, one half crumbled into a heap of ruins, the other half still standing and displaying, as in a doll's house, the furniture in the different stories.

The work of filling up and loading the vessels was greatly retarded, owing to a large number of cargo boats having been sunk, consequently it was the 5th December before the first transport got off; from that date the others started in quick succession, and on the 9th January, 1868, Stewart and his staff left Calcutta in the P. and O. 1868[Page 298] steamer Golconda. The officers and men of the Mountain battery were also on board, Captain Bogle in command, my friend Jemmy Hills in my place as second Captain, and Collen2 and Disney as subalterns. Mrs. Stewart and my wife accompanied us as far as Aden, where they were left to the kind care of Major-General Russell,3 commanding there at the time, until the arrival of the mail-steamer in which they were to proceed to England.

Landed at Zula On the 3rd February we anchored in Annesley Bay and landed at Zula.



It will, perhaps, be as well to recall to the reader's mind that the object of the expedition in which we were taking part was to rescue some sixty Europeans, who, from one cause or another, had found their way to Abyssinia, and been made prisoners by the King of that country. Amongst these were four English officials, Mr. Rassam, and Captain Cameron, who had at different times been the bearers of letters from Queen Victoria to King Theodore, and Lieutenant Prideaux and Dr. Blanc of the Bombay Army; the rest were chiefly French and German missionaries, and artisans, with their wives and children. The prisoners were confined in a fort built on the Magdāla plateau, 9,150 feet above sea-level, and 379 miles inland from Annesley Bay.

The repeated demands of the British Government for the restoration of the prisoners having been treated with contemptuous silence by the King, Colonel Merewether, the Political Agent at Aden, who in July, 1867, had been directed to proceed to Massowa and endeavour to obtain the release of the captives, and to make inquiries and collect information in case of an expedition having to be sent, reported to the Secretary of State that he had failed to communicate with the King, and urged the advisability of immediate measures being taken to prepare a force in India for the punishment of Theodore and the rescue of the prisoners. Colonel Merewether added that in Abyssinia the opinion had become very general that England knew herself to be too weak to resent insult, and that amongst the peoples of the neighbouring countries, even so far as Aden, there was a feeling of contemptuous surprise at the continued long-suffering endurance of the British Government.

Sir Robert Napier to Command On receipt of this communication, Her Majesty's Government, having exhausted all their resources for the preservation of peace,[Page 299] decided to send an expedition from India under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army. After carefully considering the distance along which operations would have to be prosecuted, and the necessity for holding a number of detached posts, Napier gave it as his opinion that the force should consist of not less than 12,000 men.1

Profiting by the experience of the Crimean War, the Government was determined that the mobility of the force should not be hampered by want of food and clothing. Stores of all descriptions were despatched in unstinted quantities from England, and three of the steamers in which they were conveyed were fitted up as hospital ships. But food, clothing, and stores, however liberally supplied, would not take the army to Magdāla without transport.

The question as to the most suitable organization for the Land Transport Corps occupied a good deal of Sir Robert Napier's attention while the expedition was being fitted out, and caused a considerable amount of correspondence between him and the Bombay Government. The Commissary-General wished to keep the corps under his own orders, and objected to its being given an entirely military organization. Sir Robert Napier preferred to establish the corps on an independent basis, but was at first overruled by the Bombay Government. While acting in accordance with their orders, the Commander-in-Chief wrote: 'I believe that the success of systems depends more on the men who work them than on the systems themselves; but I cannot accept without protest a decision to throw such a body of men as the drivers of our transport animals will be (if we get them) on an expedition in a foreign country without a very complete organization to secure order and discipline.' Eventually Sir Robert got his own way, but much valuable time had been lost, and the corps was organized on too small a scale;2 the officers and non-commissioned officers were not sent to Zula in sufficient time or in sufficient numbers to take charge of the transport animals as they arrived.

Defective Transport A compact, properly-supervised train of 2,600 mules, with serviceable, well-fitting pack-saddles, was sent from the Punjab; and from Bombay came 1,400 mules and ponies and 5,600 bullocks, but these numbers proving altogether inadequate to the needs of the expedition, they were supplemented by animals purchased in Persia, Egypt, and on the shores of the Mediterranean. The men to look after them were[Page 300] supplied from the same sources, but their number, even if they had been efficient, was insufficient, and they were a most unruly and unmanageable lot. They demanded double the pay for which they had enlisted, and struck work in a body because their demand was not at once complied with. They refused to take charge of the five mules each man was hired to look after, and when that number was reduced to three, they insisted that one should be used as a mount for the driver. But the worst part of the whole organization, or, rather, want of organization, was that there had been no attempt to fit the animals with pack-saddles, some of which were sent from England, some from India, and had to be adjusted to the mules after they had been landed in Abyssinia, where there was not an establishment to make the necessary alterations. The consequence was that the wretched animals became cruelly galled, and in a few weeks a large percentage were unfit for work, and had to be sent to the sick depot.

Other results of having no properly arranged transport train, and no supervision or discipline, were that mules were lost or stolen, starved for want of food, or famished from want of water. The condition of the unfortunate animals was such that, though they had been but a few weeks in the country, when they were required to proceed to Senafe, only sixty-seven miles distant, a very small proportion were able to accomplish the march; hundreds died on the way, and their carcases, quickly decomposing in the hot sun, became a fruitful source of dangerous disease to the force.

On arrival at Zula, we were told that Sir Robert Napier was at Senafe, the first station in the Hills, and the advanced depot for supplies. We of the Bengal brigade were somewhat disconcerted at the orders which awaited us, from which we learned that our brigade was to be broken up; the troops were to proceed to the front; while Stewart was to take command at Senafe, and I myself was to remain at Zula, as senior staff officer. The disappointment was great, but, being the last-comer, I had no unfairness to complain of, and I had plenty to do. I spent the greater part of each day amongst the shipping, superintending the embarkation and disembarkation of men, animals, and stores.

Zula was not an attractive place of residence. The heat was intense—117° in the daytime in my tent. The allowance of fresh water was extremely limited,3 while the number of scorpions was quite the reverse, and the food, at the best, was not appetizing. Few who remained there as long as I did escaped scurvy and horrible boils or sores. I was fortunate, however, in finding in charge of the transport arrangements afloat, my old friend and Eton schoolfellow, George[Page 301] Tryon,4 to whom I owed many a good dinner, and, what I appreciated even more, many a refreshing bath on board the Euphrates, a transport belonging to the British India Steam Navigation Company which had been fitted up for Captain Tryon and his staff. Indeed, all the officers of the Royal Navy were most helpful and kind, and I have a very pleasant recollection of the hospitality I received from Commodore Heath5 and those serving under him.

During the four months I remained at Zula, Tryon and I were constantly together, and I had plenty of opportunity for observing the masterly manner in which he could grasp a situation, his intimate knowledge of detail, and the strong hold he had over all those working with him, not only the officers of the Royal Navy, but also the commanders of the merchant vessels taken up as transports, and lying in Annesley Bay.

King Theodore Commits Suicide On the 17th April news reached us that four days before Sir Robert Napier had successfully attacked Magdāla and released the prisoners, having experienced but very slight opposition; and that King Theodore, deserted by his army, which had apparently become tired of his brutalities, had committed suicide.6 A few days later Major-General Russell, who had come from Aden to take over the command at Zula, received orders to prepare for the embarkation of the force. Arrangements were accordingly made to enable regiments and batteries to be embarked on board the transports told off for them directly they arrived from the front—a matter of the utmost importance, both on account of the fearful heat at Zula, and the absence of a sufficient water-supply.

On the 2nd June the Commander-in-Chief returned to Zula, and on the 10th he embarked on board the old Indian marine steamer Feroze for Suez. Sir Robert was good enough to ask me to accompany him, as he wished to make me the bearer of his final despatches. My work was ended, the troops had all left, and as I was pretty well knocked up, I felt extremely grateful for the offer, and very proud of the great honour the Chief proposed to confer upon me.

We reached Alexandria on the 20th June, and the next day I started in the mail-steamer for Brindisi, arriving in London on the evening of Sunday, the 28th. I received a note at my club from Edwin Johnson (who was at that time Assistant Military Secretary to H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge), directing me to take the despatches without delay to the Secretary of State for India. I found Sir Stafford and Lady Northcote at dinner; Sir Stafford looked through the despatches, and when he had finished reading them, he asked me to take them[Page 302] without delay to the Commander-in-Chief, as he knew the Duke was most anxious to see them. There was a dinner-party, however, that night at Gloucester House, and the servant told me it was quite impossible to disturb His Royal Highness; so, placing my card on the top of the despatches, I told the man to deliver them at once, and went back to my club. I had scarcely reached it when the Duke's Aide-de-camp made his appearance and told me that he had been ordered to find me and take me back with him. The Commander-in-Chief received me very kindly, expressing regret that I had been sent away in the first instance; and Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, who were present, were most gracious, and asked many questions about the Abyssinian Expedition.

The next day I joined my wife, who was staying with my people at Clifton, and on the 14th August, when the rewards for the Abyssinian Expedition were published, my name appeared for a brevet Lieutenant-Colonelcy.

First A.Q.M.G. I was now anxious to ascertain in what manner I was to be employed. My five years as A.Q.M.G. were about to expire, and I thought I should like to go back to my regiment for a time. I therefore applied for the command of a battery of Horse Artillery. I was told, in answer to my application, that it was not the custom to appoint an officer who had been in staff employment for some time to the mounted branch, but that, in consideration of my services, the Duke of Cambridge was pleased to make an exception in my favour. I was posted to a battery at Meerut, and warned to be ready to start in an early troopship. Before the time for our departure arrived, however, I received a letter from Lumsden, who had now become Quartermaster-General, informing me that the Commander-in-Chief had recommended, and the Government had approved of, the formation of a fresh grade—that of First A.Q.M.G.—and that he was directed by Sir William Mansfield to offer the new appointment to me—an offer which I gratefully accepted; for though the command of a Horse Artillery battery would have been most congenial, this unexpected chance of five years' further staff employ was too good to be refused.

1869 On the 4th January, 1869, having said good-bye to those dear to us, two of whom I was never to see again, my wife and I, with a baby girl who was born the previous July, embarked at Portsmouth on board the s.s. Helvetia, which had been taken up for the conveyance of troops to Bombay, the vessel of the Royal Navy in which we were to have sailed having suddenly broken down. The Helvetia proved most unsuitable as a transport, and uncomfortable to the last degree for passengers, besides which it blew a gale the whole way to Alexandria. We were all horribly ill, and our child caught a fatal cold. We thoroughly appreciated a change at Suez to the Indian trooper, the Malabar, where everything possible was done for our comfort by our[Page 303] kind captain (Rich, R.N.), and, indeed, by everyone on board; but, alas! our beautiful little girl never recovered the cruel experience of the Helvetia, and we had the terrible grief of losing her soon after we passed Aden. She was buried at sea.

It was a very sad journey after that. There were several nice, kind people amongst our fellow-passengers; but life on board ship at such a time, surrounded by absolute strangers, was a terrible trial to us both, and, what with the effects of the voyage and the anxiety and sorrow she had gone through, my wife was thoroughly ill when we arrived at Simla towards the end of February.



Lord Mayo Becomes Viceroy
In January, 1869, Sir John Lawrence, after a career which was altogether unique, he having risen from the junior grades of the Bengal Civil Service to the almost regal position of Governor-General,1 left India for good. He was succeeded as Viceroy by Lord Mayo, one of whose first official acts was to hold a durbar at Umballa for the reception of the Amir Sher Ali, who, after five years of civil war, had succeeded in establishing himself on the throne of Afghanistan, to which he had been nominated by his father, Dost Mahomed Khan.2

Sher Ali had passed through a stormy time between the death of the Dost, in June, 1863, and September, 1868. He had been acknowledged as the rightful heir by the Government of India, and for the first three years he held the Amirship in a precarious sort of way. His two elder brothers, Afzal and Azim, and his nephew, Abdur Rahman (the present Ruler of Afghanistan), were in rebellion against him. The death of his favourite son and heir-apparent, Ali Khan, in action near Khelat-i-Ghilzai, in 1865, grieved him so sorely that for[Page 304] a time his reason was affected. In May, 1866, he was defeated near Ghazni (mainly owing to the treachery of his own troops) by Abdur Rahman, who, releasing his father, Afzal, from the prison into which he had been cast by Sher Ali, led him in triumph to Kabul, and proclaimed him Amir of Afghanistan.

Afzal Khan ousts Sher Ali The new Amir, Afzal, at once wrote to the Government of India detailing what had occurred, and expressing a hope that the friendship of the British, which he so greatly valued, would be extended to him. He was told, in reply, that the Government recognized him as Ruler of Kabul, but that, as Sher Ali still held Kandahar and Herat, existing engagements with the latter could not be broken off. The evident preference thus displayed for Sher Ali caused the greatest vexation to the brothers Afzal and Azim, who showed their resentment by directing an Envoy who had come from Swat to pay his respects to the new Amir to return to his own country and set on foot a holy war against the English; the Waziri maliks3 in attendance at the court were dismissed with presents and directions to harass the British frontier, while an emissary was despatched on a secret mission to the Russians.

After his defeat near Ghazni, Sher Ali fled to Kandahar, and in the January of the following year (again owing to treachery in his army) he met with a second defeat near Khelat-i-Ghilzai, and lost Kandahar.

On this fact being communicated to the Government of India, Afzal Khan was in his turn recognized as Amir of Kabul and Kandahar. But he was at the same time informed that the British Government intended to maintain a strict neutrality between the contending parties in Afghanistan. John Lawrence, in his letter of the 20th of February, said that 'neither men, nor arms, nor money, nor assistance of any kind, have ever been supplied by my Government to Amir Sher Ali. Your Highness and he, both equally unaided by me, have fought out the battle, each upon your own resources. I purpose to continue the same policy for the future. If, unhappily, the struggle for supremacy in Afghanistan has not yet been brought to a close, and hostilities are again renewed, I shall still side with neither party.'

This reply altogether failed to satisfy Afzal and Azim. They answered it civilly, but at the same time they sent a copy of it to General Romanofski, the Russian Governor of Tashkent, who was informed by the new Amir that he had no confidence in the 'Lord sahib's fine professions of friendship, and that he was disgusted with the British Government for the ingratitude and ill-treatment shown towards his brother Azim.4 He looked upon the Russians as his real and only friends, hoped soon to send a regular Ambassador to the[Page 305] Russian camp, and would at all times do his utmost to protect and encourage Russian trade.'

In October of this year (1867) Afzal Khan died, and his brother Azim, hastening to Kabul, took upon himself the Amirship. Abdur Rahman had hoped to have succeeded his father, but his uncle having forestalled him, he thought it politic to give in his allegiance to him, which he did by presenting his dead father's sword, in durbar, to the new Amir, who, like his predecessor, was now acknowledged by the Government of India as Ruler of Kabul and Kandahar.

The tide, however, was beginning to turn in favour of Sher Ali. Azim and Abdur Rahman quarrelled, and the former, by his extortions and cruelties, made himself detested by the people generally.

Sher Ali regains the Amirship In March, 1868, Sher Ali's eldest son, Yakub Khan, regained possession of Kandahar for his father. In July father and son found themselves strong enough to move towards Ghazni, where Azim Khan's army was assembled. The latter, gradually deserted by his soldiers, took to flight, upon which Sher Ali, after an absence of forty months, entered Kabul on the 8th of September, and re-possessed himself of all his dominions, with the exception of Balkh, where Azim and Abdur Rahman (now reconciled to each other) still flew the flag of rebellion.

One of the newly-installed Amir's first acts was to inform the Viceroy of his return to Kabul, and of the recovery of his kingdom. He announced his desire to send some trusted representatives, or else proceed himself in person, to Calcutta, 'for the purpose of showing his sincerity and firm attachment to the British Government, and making known his real wants.'

Sir John Lawrence, in his congratulatory reply, showed that a change had come over his policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, for he stated that he was 'prepared, not only to maintain the bonds of amity and goodwill which were established between Dost Mahomed and the British Government, but, so far as may be practicable, to strengthen those bonds'; and, as a substantial proof of his goodwill, the Viceroy sent Sher Ali £60,000, aid which arrived at a most opportune moment, and gave the Amir that advantage over his opponents which is of incalculable value in Afghan civil war, namely, funds wherewith to pay the army and bribe the opposite side.

The energetic and capable Abdur Rahman Khan had in the meantime collected a sufficient number of troops in Turkestan to enable him to move towards Kabul with his uncle Azim. On nearing Ghazni, he found himself confronted by Sher Ali; the opposing forces were about equal in strength, and on both sides there was the same scarcity of ready money. Suddenly the report was received that money was being sent from India to Sher Ali, and this turned the scale in his favour. Abdur Rahman's men deserted in considerable numbers, and[Page 306] a battle fought on the 3rd January, 1869, resulted in the total defeat of uncle and nephew, and in the firmer consolidation of Sher Ali's supremacy.

Foresight of Sir Henry Rawlinson The change in policy which induced the Government of India to assist a struggling Amir with money, after its repeated and emphatic declarations that interference was impossible, was undoubtedly brought about by an able and elaborate memorandum written by the late Sir Henry Rawlinson on the 28th July, 1868. In this paper Rawlinson pointed out that, notwithstanding promises to the contrary, Russia was steadily advancing towards Afghanistan. He referred to the increased facilities of communication which would be the result of the recent proposal to bring Turkestan into direct communication, viâ the Caspian, with the Caucasus and St. Petersburg. He dwelt at length upon the effect which the advanced position of Russia in Central Asia would have upon Afghanistan and India. He explained that by the occupation of Bokhara Russia would gain a pretext for interfering in Afghan politics, and 'that if Russia once assumes a position which, in virtue either of an imposing military force on the Oxus, or of a dominant political influence in Afghanistan, entitles her, in Native estimation, to challenge our Asiatic supremacy, the disquieting effect will be prodigious.'

'With this prospect before us,' Sir Henry asked, 'are we justified in maintaining what has been sarcastically, though perhaps unfairly, called Sir John Lawrence's policy of "masterly inaction"? Are we justified in allowing Russia to work her way to Kabul unopposed, and there to establish herself as a friendly power prepared to protect the Afghans against the English?' He argued that it was contrary to our interests to permit anarchy to reign in Afghanistan; that Lord Auckland's famous doctrine of 'establishing a strong and friendly Power on our North-West Frontier' was the right policy for India, 'that Dost Mahomed's successful management of his country was in a great measure due to our aid, and that, if we had helped the son as we had helped the father, Sher Ali would have summarily suppressed the opposition of his brothers and nephews.' Rawlinson then added: 'Another opportunity now presents itself. The fortunes of Sher Ali are again in the ascendant; he should be secured in our interests without delay.'

Rawlinson's suggestions were not at the time supposed to commend themselves to the Government of India. In the despatch in which they were answered,5 the Viceroy and his Councillors stated that they still objected to any active interference in the affairs of Afghanistan; they foresaw no limits to the expenditure which such a move would entail, and they believed that the objects that they had at heart might be[Page 307] attained by an attitude of readiness and firmness on the frontier. It is worthy of note, however, that, after Sir Henry Rawlinson's memorandum had been received by the Indian Government, and notwithstanding these protests, the sum of £60,000 was sent to Sher Ali, that Sir John Lawrence invited him 'to come to some place in British territory for a personal meeting in order to discuss the best manner in which a limited support might be accorded,' and that five days from the time of writing the above-mentioned despatch, John Lawrence sent a farewell letter to Sher Ali, expressing the earnest hope of the British Government that His Highness's authority would be established on a solid and permanent basis, and informing him that a further sum of £60,000 would be supplied to him during the next few months, and that future Viceroys would consider, from time to time, what amount of practical assistance in the shape of money or war materials should periodically be made over to him as a testimony of their friendly feeling, and to the furtherance of his legitimate authority and influence.

The Umballa Durbar Sher Ali expressed himself as most grateful, and came to Umballa full of hope and apparently thoroughly well disposed towards the British Government. He was received with great state and ceremony, and Lord Mayo was most careful to demonstrate that he was treating with an independent, and not a feudatory, Prince.

At this conference Sher Ali began by unburdening himself of his grievances, complaining to Lord Mayo of the manner in which his two elder brothers had each in his turn been recognized as Amir, and dwelling on the one-sided nature of the treaty made with his father, by which the British Government only bound itself to abstain from interfering with Afghanistan, while the Amir was to be 'the friend of the friends and the enemy of the enemies of the Honourable East India Company.' His Highness then proceeded to make known his wants, which were that he and his lineal descendants on the throne that he had won 'by his own good sword' should be acknowledged as the de jure sovereigns of Afghanistan; that a treaty offensive and defensive should be made with him; and that he should be given a fixed subsidy in the form of an annual payment.

It was in regard to the first of these three demands that Sher Ali was most persistent. He explained repeatedly and at some length that to acknowledge the Ruler pro tempore and de facto was to invite competition for a throne, and excite the hopes of all sorts of candidates; but that if the British Government would recognize him and his dynasty, there was nothing he would not do in order to evince his gratitude.

These requests, the Amir was informed, were inadmissible. There could be no treaty, no fixed subsidy, no dynastic pledges. He was further told that we were prepared to discourage his rivals, to give him warm countenance and support, and such material assistance as we[Page 308] considered absolutely necessary for his immediate wants, if he, on his part, would undertake to do all he could to maintain peace on our frontier and to comply with our wishes in matters connected with trade.

As an earnest of our goodwill, the Amir was given the second £60,000 promised him by Sir John Lawrence, besides a considerable supply of arms and ammunition,6 and was made happy by a promise that European officers should not be required to reside in any of his cities. Before the conference took place, Lord Mayo had contemplated British agents being sent to Kabul in order to obtain accurate information regarding events in Central Asia, but on discovering how vehemently opposed Sher Ali was to such an arrangement, he gave him this promise. Saiyad Nur Mahomed, the Minister who accompanied the Amir, though equally averse to European agents, admitted that 'the day might come when the Russians would arrive, and the Amir would be glad, not only of British officers as agents, but of arms and troops to back them.'

One request which the Amir made towards the close of the meeting the Viceroy agreed to, which was that we should call Persia to account for her alleged encroachments on the debatable ground of Sistan. This, which seemed but an unimportant matter at the time, was one of the chief causes of Sher Ali's subsequent estrangement; for the committee of arbitration which inquired into it decided against the Amir, who never forgave what he considered our unfriendly action in discountenancing his claims.

The Umballa conference was, on the whole, successful, in that Sher Ali returned to his own country much gratified at the splendour of his reception, and a firm personal friend of Lord Mayo, whose fine presence and genial manner had quite won the Amir's heart, although he had not succeeded in getting from him everything he had demanded.



We spent a very quiet year at Simla. My wife was far from strong, and we had another great sorrow in the death of a baby boy three weeks after his birth.

That winter I was left in charge of the Quartermaster-General's office, and we moved into 'Ellerslie,' a larger and warmer house than[Page 309] that in which we had lived during the summer.

Winter at Simla Simla in the winter, after a fresh fall of snow, is particularly beautiful. Range after range of hills clothed in their spotless garments stretch away as far as the eye can reach, relieved in the foreground by masses of reddish-brown perpendicular cliffs and dark-green ilex and deodar trees, each bearing its pure white burden, and decked with glistening fringes of icicles. Towards evening the scene changes, and the snow takes the most gorgeous colouring from the descending rays of the brilliant eastern sun—brilliant even in mid-winter—turning opal, pink, scarlet, and crimson; gradually, as the light wanes, fading into delicate lilacs and grays, which slowly mount upwards, till at last even the highest pinnacle loses the life-giving tints, and the whole snowy range itself turns cold and white and dead against a background of deepest sapphire blue. The spectator shivers, folds himself more closely in his wraps, and retreats indoors, glad to be greeted by a blazing log-fire and a hot cup of tea.

1870 In the spring of the next year (1870) Sir William Mansfield's term of command came to an end, and he was succeeded by Lord Napier of Magdāla. The selection of this distinguished officer for the highest military position in India was greatly appreciated by the Indian army, as no officer of that army had held it since the days of Lord Clive.

In September a daughter was born, and that winter we again remained at Simla. I amused myself by going through a course of electric telegraphy, which may seem rather like a work of supererogation; but during the Umbeyla campaign, when the telegraph office had to be closed in consequence of all the clerks being laid up with fever, and we could neither read nor send messages, I determined that I would on the first opportunity learn electric signalling, in order that I might be able to decipher and send telegrams should I ever again find myself in a similar position.

In May my wife and I went for a march across the hills to Chakrata, and thence to Mussoorie and back by way of Dehra Dun and the plains. The object of this trip was to settle the boundary of Chakrata, and my wife took the opportunity of my being ordered on this duty to get away from Simla, as we had now been there for more than two years, and were consequently rather longing for a change. Our route lay through most beautiful scenery, and notwithstanding that the trip was a little hurried, and that some of the marches were therefore rather long, we enjoyed it immensely. When passing along the ridge of a very high hill one afternoon, we witnessed rather a curious sight—a violent thunderstorm was going on in the valley below us, while we ourselves remained in the mildest, most serene atmosphere, enjoying bright sunshine and a blue sky. Dense black clouds filled up the valley a thousand feet beneath us, the thunder roared, the lightning flashed, and soon we could hear the rush of waters in the streams[Page 310] below from the torrents of rain which the clouds were discharging; but it was not until we had crossed over the mountain, and descended to a low level on the other side, that we fully realized the effects of the heavy storm.

On our return to Simla we had the pleasure of a visit from Major-General Donald Stewart, who had come up to receive Lord Mayo's instructions before taking over his appointment as Superintendent of the Andaman Islands. In September he and I travelled together to Calcutta, to which place I was directed to proceed in order to make arrangements for a military expedition into the country of the Lushais, having been appointed senior staff officer to the force.

The Lushais Lushai, situated between south-eastern Bengal and Burma, was a terra incognita to me, and I had only heard of it in connexion with the raids made by its inhabitants upon the tea-gardens in its vicinity, which had now spread too far away from Cachar for the garrison of that small military station to afford them protection. From time to time the Lushais had done the planters much damage, and carried off several prisoners, and various attempts had been made in the shape of small military expeditions to punish the tribesmen and rescue the captives; but from want of proper organization, and from not choosing the right time of the year, these attempts had hitherto been unsuccessful, and our failures had the inevitable result of making the Lushais bolder. Raids became more frequent and more destructive; until at last a little European girl, named Mary Winchester, was carried off, and kept by them as a prisoner; on this the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal declared that a punitive expedition was 'absolutely necessary for the future security of the British subjects residing on the Cachar and Chittagong frontiers.'

The Lushai Expedition The despatch of a force was therefore decided upon; it was to consist of two small columns1—one having its base at Cachar, the other at Chittagong—commanded respectively by Brigadier-Generals Bourchier, C.B., and C. Brownlow, C.B., supreme political power being also vested in these two officers. Long experience had taught Lord Napier the wisdom of having only one head in time of war, and he impressed upon the Government his opinion that the civil officers, while acting as advisers and as the channels of communication with the tribes, should be subordinate to the control of the two Commanders, who, after having been put in possession of the views and wishes of the Government, should be held responsible for carrying them out loyally[Page 311] so far as circumstances and the safety of the force would permit.

As the existence of the tea industry was at stake, the Lushais having established a perfect terror on all the estates within their reach, it was essential that they should be given a severe lesson, and this could only be done by their principal villages, which lay at some considerable distance from the base of operations, being visited in force. The difficult country and the paucity of transport necessitated the columns being lightly equipped; no tents were to be allowed, and baggage and followers were to be reduced to a minimum. My instructions were to fit out and despatch the two columns, and then join Brigadier-General Bourchier at Cachar.

I was kept in Calcutta all October—not a pleasant month, the climate then being very muggy and unhealthy. Everyone who could get away had gone to the Hills or out to sea; and the offices being closed for the Hindu holidays of the Durga Puja, it was extremely difficult to get work done. Everything for the Chittagong column had to be sent by sea. The shipping of the elephants was rather interesting: they clung desperately to the ground, trying hard to prevent themselves being lifted from it; and when at last, in spite of all their struggles, they were hoisted into the air, the helpless appearance of the huge animals and their despairing little cries and whines were quite pathetic. I found it trying work being on the river all day; my eyes suffered from the glare, and I became so reduced that before I left Calcutta I weighed scarcely over eight stone—rather too fine a condition in which to enter on a campaign in a mountainous country, so thickly covered with jungle as to make riding out of the question.

By the 3rd November the equipment and stores for both columns had been despatched, and on the 16th I joined General Bourchier at the house of that most hospitable of hosts, Mr. Edgar,2 Deputy-Commissioner of Cachar, who accompanied the left column as civil officer.

1871 We left Cachar on the 23rd, and from the outset we had to make our own roads, a labour which never ceased until the end of January, by which date 110 miles had been completed. There was not the vestige of a track to direct us; but I got hold of some people of the country, with whom I made friends, and induced them to act as guides. Many a long and weary reconnaissance had to be executed, however, before the line of advance could be decided upon. The troops worked with a will, and, notwithstanding the vapour-bath-like atmosphere of the valleys and the difficult nature of the country, which was a succession of hill-ranges covered with jungle forests, made almost impenetrable from the huge creepers, and intersected by rivers and watercourses, a good road, from six to eight feet wide, was constructed,[Page 312] with a sufficiently easy gradient for laden elephants to travel over. Cutting one's way day after day through these dense, gloomy forests, through which hardly a ray of light penetrates, was most stifling and depressing. One could hardly breathe, and was quite unable to enjoy the beauty of the magnificent trees, the graceful bamboos and canes, and the wonderful creepers, which abounded, and under other circumstances would have been a source of pleasure; the difficulties we encountered, and the consequent delay in our progress, quite prevented me from being in a frame of mind to appreciate my picturesque surroundings.

Defective transport again It became evident from the first that our onward movements would be greatly impeded by want of transport. Notwithstanding the experience which ought to have been gained in many small mountain wars, the Government had not been taught that a properly organized transport corps was an absolute necessity, and that it was a mere waste of money to collect a number of men and animals without providing trained supervision. Fourteen hundred of our coolies were attached to the Commissariat Department without anyone to look after them, consequently officers and non-commissioned officers, who could ill be spared from their regimental duties, had to be told off to organize and work them.

To add to our troubles, cholera broke out amongst some Nepalese coolies on their way to join us; out of 840, 251 died in a few days, and a number deserted panic-stricken, while the rest were so weakened and shaken that, notwithstanding the care bestowed upon them by their able and energetic Commandant, Major H. Moore, only 387 joined the column. We were not much better off in the matter of elephants, which had been so carelessly selected that only 33 out of the 157 sent with our column were of any use. All this resulted in our being obliged to still further reduce our already small kits. Officers were allowed only forty pounds of baggage, and soldiers twenty-four pounds, limits within which it was rather difficult to keep. A couple of blankets were essential, as we should have to operate over mountains five and six thousand feet high; so was a waterproof sheet, for even if we should be lucky enough to escape rain, the dew is so heavy in those parts that it wets one just as thoroughly as a shower of rain. These three items with my cloak and cork mattress—which is also a very necessary adjunct in such a damp climate—amounted to thirty-one pounds, leaving only nine pounds for a change of clothes, plate, knife, fork, etc.—not too much for a four months' campaign. However, 'needs must,' and it is surprising how many things one considers absolute necessities under ordinary circumstances turn out to have been luxuries when we are obliged to dispense with them.

Practice Versus Theory The advance portion of the column did not arrive at Tipai Mukh, only eighty-four miles from Cachar, until the 9th December, which will[Page 313] give an idea of the enforced slowness of our progress. Tipai Mukh proved a very suitable place for our depot: it was situated at the junction of two rivers, the Tipai and the Barak; thickly-wooded hills rose precipitously on all sides, but on the right bank of the Barak there was sufficient level space for all our requirements. With the help of local coolies, the little Gurkhas were not long in running up hospitals and storesheds; bamboo, the one material used in Lushailand for every conceivable purpose, whether it be a house, a drinking vessel, a bridge, a woman's ear-ring, or a musical instrument, grew in profusion on the hillside. A trestle bridge was thrown across the Tipai in a few hours, and about that bridge I have rather an amusing story to relate. On my telling the young Engineer officer in charge of the Sapper company that a bridge was required to be constructed with the least possible delay, he replied that it should be done, but that it was necessary to calculate the force of the current, the weight to be borne, and the consequent strength of the timber required. Off he went, urged by me to be as quick as he could. Some hours elapsed, and nothing was seen of the Engineer, so I sent for him and asked him when the bridge was to be begun. He answered that his plans were nearly completed, and that he would soon be able to commence work. In the meantime, however, and while these scientific calculations were being made, the headman of the local coolies had come to me and said, if the order were given, he would throw a good bridge over the river in no time. I agreed, knowing how clever Natives often are at this kind of work, and thinking I might just as well have two strings to this particular bow. Immediately, numbers of men were to be seen felling the bamboos on the hillside a short distance above the stream: these were thrown into the river, and as they came floating down they were caught by men standing up to their necks in water, who cut them to the required length, stuck the uprights into the river-bed, and attached them to each other by pieces laid laterally and longitudinally; the flooring was then formed also of bamboo, the whole structure was firmly bound together by strips of cane, and the bridge was pronounced ready. Having tested its strength by marching a large number of men across it, I sent for my Engineer friend. His astonishment on seeing a bridge finished ready for use was great, and became still greater when he found how admirably the practical woodmen had done their work; from that time, being assured of their ability to assist him, he wisely availed himself when difficulties arose of their useful, if unscientific, method of engineering.

By the 14th December matters had so far progressed as to warrant an advance. As our route now lay away from the river, scarcity of water entailed greater care being taken in the selection of encamping grounds, so on arriving at our halting-place each day I had to reconnoitre ahead for a suitable site for our next resting-ground, a considerable[Page 314] addition to the day's work. Road-making for the passage of the elephants became more difficult, and transport was so deficient that the troops could only be brought up very gradually. Thus, it was the 22nd of the month before we reached the Tuibum river, only twenty miles from Tipai Mukh. On our way we were met by some scouts from the villages ahead of us, who implored of us to advance no further, saying, if we would only halt, their headmen would come in and submit to whatever terms we chose to make. The villagers were informed in reply that our quarrel was not with them, and so long as we remained unmolested, not the slightest injury should be done to them, their villages, or their crops; but that we were determined to reach the country of Lalbura, the Chief who had been the ringleader in the raids upon the tea-gardens.

We pushed on as fast as the dense undergrowth would permit until within about a mile of the river, where we found the road blocked by a curious erection in the form of a gallows, from which hung two grotesque figures, made of bamboo. A little further on it was a felled tree which stopped us; this tree was studded all over with knife-like pieces of bamboo, and from the incisions into which these were stuck exuded a red juice, exactly the colour of blood. This was the Lushai mode of warning us what would be our fate if we ventured further. We, however, proceeded on our way, bivouacked for the night, and early the next morning started off in the direction of some villages which we understood lay in the road to our destination.

A severe march For the first thousand feet the ascent was very steep, and the path so narrow that we could only march in single file. Suddenly we entered upon a piece of ground cleared for cultivation, and as we emerged from the forest we were received by a volley from a position about sixty yards off. A young police orderly, who was acting as our guide, was knocked over by my side, and a second volley wounded one of the sepoys, on which we charged and the enemy retired up the hill. We came across a large number of these jooms (clearings), and at each there was a like effort to oppose us, always with the same result. After advancing in this way for the greater part of the day, alternately through dense jungle and open spaces, and occasionally passing by scattered cottages, we sighted a good-sized village, where it was decided we should remain for the night. The day's march had been very severe, the village being 4,000 feet above the river; and the troops were so worn out with their exertions that it was with difficulty the piquets could be got to construct proper shelter for themselves out of the plentiful supply of trees and underwood ready at hand. Throughout the night the enemy's sharpshooters kept up an annoying fire under cover of the forest which surrounded the village, and so as soon as day dawned a party moved out to clear the ground all round.

Lushais foiled by Gurkhas It was most aggravating to find from the view we got of the country[Page 315] from this elevated position that the previous day's harassing march had been an absolutely useless performance and an unnecessary waste of time and strength. We could now distinctly see that this village did not lead to Lalbura's country, as we had been led to believe it would, and that there was no alternative but to retrace our steps as far as the river. The men and animals were too tired to march that day, and the next being Christmas, we made another halt, and commenced our retirement on the 26th. This was an extremely nasty business, and had to be carried out with very great caution. The ground, as I said before, necessitated our proceeding in single file, and with only 250 fighting men (all that our deficient transport admitted of being brought on to this point) it was difficult to guard the long line of sick, wounded, and coolies. As soon as we began to draw in our piquets, the Lushais, who had never ceased their fire, perceiving we were about to retire, came down in force, and entered one end of the village, yelling and screaming like demons, before we had got out at the other. The whole way down the hill they pressed us hard, endeavouring to get amongst the baggage, but were invariably baffled by the Gurkhas, who, extending rapidly whenever the ground was favourable, retired through their supports in admirable order, and did not once give the enemy the chance of passing them. We had 3 men killed and 8 wounded during the march, but the Lushais confessed afterwards to a loss of between 50 and 60.

As we were given to understand that our short retrograde movement had been interpreted into a defeat by the Lushais, the General wisely determined to pay the village of Kholel another visit. Our doing so had the best possible effect. A slight resistance was offered at the first clearance, but by the time the ridge was reached the Chief, having become convinced of the uselessness of further opposition, submitted, and engaged to give hostages and keep open communication with our depot at Tipai Mukh, a promise which he most faithfully performed.

1872 1872 opened auspiciously for me. On New Year's Day I was agreeably surprised by a communication from the Quartermaster-General informing me that, a vacancy having unexpectedly occurred, Lord Napier had appointed me Deputy-Quartermaster-General. This was an important step in my department, and I was proportionately elated.

A few days later I received the good news of the birth of a son at Umballa on the 8th.

Paucity of transport and difficulty about supplies kept us stationary on the Tuibum for some time, after which we moved on as before, the Lushais retiring in front of us until the 25th, when they attacked us while we were moving along a narrow ravine, with a stream at the bottom and steep hills on either side. The first volley wounded the General in the arm and hand, and killed his orderly. The enemy's[Page 316] intention was evidently to push past the weak column along the hillside and get amongst the coolies; but this attempt was again foiled by the Gurkhas, who, flinging off their great-coats, rushed into the stream and engaged the Lushais before they could get at the baggage, pressing them up the mountain, rising 2,500 feet above us, as fast as the precipitous nature of the ascent would allow. On the crest we found the enemy occupying a good-sized village, out of which we cleared them and took possession of it ourselves. On this occasion we had only 4 killed and 8 wounded, including the General, while the enemy lost about 60. In one place we found a heap of headless bodies. The Lushais, if unable to remove their dead, invariably decapitate them to prevent their adversaries from carrying off the heads, their own mode of dealing with a slain enemy, as they believe that whoever is in possession of the head will have the man to whom it belonged as a slave in the next world.

A successful turning movement To complete the success we had gained, the General sent me the next day with a small party to burn the village of Taikum, belonging to the people who had attacked us. It was past noon before we could make a start, owing to the non-arrival of the elephants with the guns. When they did come in, the poor huge creatures were so fatigued by their climb that it was considered advisable to transfer their loads to coolies, particularly as the route we had to traverse was reported to be even more difficult than anything we had yet encountered. When we had proceeded a short distance, we perceived that our way was blocked a mile ahead by a most formidable-looking stockade, on one side of which rose perpendicular cliffs, while on the other was a rocky ravine. As the nature of the ground did not admit of my approaching near enough to discover whether the Artillery could be placed so as to cover the Infantry advance, and being anxious to avoid losing many of my small party, I settled to turn the stockade by a detour up the hillside. This manœuvre took some time, owing to the uncompromising nature of the country; but it was successful, for when we struck the track, we found ourselves about a mile on the other side of the stockade. The Lushais, on realizing what we were about, retired to Taikum, which place came into view at 5 p.m. It was situated on the summit of a hill 1,200 yards in front, and was crowded with men. The guns were brought at once into action, and while Captain Blackwood3 was preparing his fuses, I advanced towards the village with the Infantry. The first shell burst a little beyond the village, the second was lodged in its very centre, for a time completely paralyzing the Lushais. On recovering from the shock, they took to their heels and scampered off in every direction, the last man leaving the village just as we entered[Page 317] it. The houses, as usual, were made of bamboo, and after it had been ascertained that there was no living creature inside any of them, the place was set on fire, and we began our return journey. There was a bright moon, but even aided by its light we did not reach our bivouac until midnight. This ended the campaign so far as opposition was concerned, for not another shot was fired either by us or against us during the remaining six weeks we continued in the country.

Lalbura's Village Soon after this we heard that some of the captives we had come to relieve had been given up to the Chittagong column, and that Mary Winchester was safe in General Brownlow's hands—very satisfactory intelligence, showing as it did that the Lushais were beginning to understand the advisability of acceding to our demands. The work of our column, however, was not over, for although, from the information we received of his whereabouts, we had given up hope of joining hands with Brownlow, Bourchier determined that Lalbura's country must be reached; he (Lalbura) being the chief offender, it would never have done to let him think his stronghold lay beyond our power.

In order that we might be well out of Lushailand before the rains, which usually begin in that part of the world about the middle of March, and are extremely heavy, it was decided not to wait until a road could be made for elephants, but to trust to coolie-carriage alone, and to push on rapidly as soon as supplies sufficient for twelve days could be collected. Kits were still further reduced, officers and soldiers alike being only allowed a couple of blankets and one or two cooking utensils.

We resumed our march on the 12th February; the route in many places was strongly and skilfully stockaded, but the tidings of our successes had preceded us, and our advance was unopposed. In five days we reached the Chamfai valley, at the end of which, on a high hill, Lalbura's village was situated.4 Although Lalbura's father, Vonolel, had been dead some years, the people still called the place Vonolel's country. Vonolel had been a famous warrior, and they were evidently very proud of his reputation. We were shown his tomb, which, like that of all great Lushai braves, was decorated with the heads of human beings (his slaves in paradise) and those of animals, besides drinking-vessels and various kinds of utensils for his use in another life.

Lalbura had taken himself off; but his headmen submitted to us and accepted our terms. We remained at this place till the 21st, in accordance with an agreement we had made with Brownlow to send up signals on the night of the 20th in case his column should be anywhere in the neighbourhood. During the three days we stayed amongst them we mixed freely with the Lushais, who were greatly delighted[Page 318] and astonished with all we had to show them. The telescope and the burning-glass amused them greatly; our revolvers excited their envy; and for the little Mountain guns they displayed the highest veneration. But what seemed to astonish them more than anything was the whiteness of our skins, particularly when on closer inspection they discovered that our arms and bodies were even fairer than our faces and hands, which to our eyes had become from long exposure so bronzed as to make us almost unrecognizable as Europeans.

Murder of Lord Mayo We were all glad that the duty entrusted to us had been satisfactorily ended, and we were hoping that the Viceroy, who had taken a keen personal interest in our proceedings, would be satisfied with the result, when we were shocked and startled beyond measure by hearing that Lord Mayo had been murdered by a convict while visiting the Andaman Islands. The disastrous news arrived as we were in the midst of firing signal-rockets, burning blue-lights, and lighting bonfires to attract the attention of the Chittagong column. I could not help thinking of the heavy loss India had sustained, for the manly, open-hearted Governor-General had impressed the Native Chiefs in quite an exceptional manner, and he was liked as well as respected by all classes of Europeans and Natives. I felt also much for Donald Stewart, to whom, I knew, such a terrible tragedy, happening while he was Superintendent at Port Blair, would be a heavy blow.

On the 6th March we reached Tipai Mukh, where we bade farewell to our Lushai friends, numbers of whom accompanied us to get possession of the empty tins, bags, and casks which were got rid of at every stage. The hostages and those who had assisted us were liberally rewarded, and we parted on the best of terms, with promises on their part of future good behaviour—promises which were kept for nearly twenty years.

No one was sorry that the marching was at an end, and that the rest of the journey back was to be performed in boats. Constant hard work and exposure in a peculiarly malarious and relaxing climate had told upon the whole force; while our having to depend for so long on tinned meats, which were not always good, and consisted chiefly of pork, with an occasional ration of mutton and salt beef, had been very trying to the officers. One and all were 'completely worn out,' as the principal medical officer reported; two out of our small number died, and the General's condition gave cause for grave anxiety. For myself, having a perfect horror of pork, I think I should have starved outright but for the extraordinary culinary talent of Mr. Edgar, who disguised the presence of the unclean animal in such a wonderful way in soups, stews, etc., that I frequently partook of it without knowing what I was eating. My wife and some anonymous kind friend sent by post small tins of Liebig's extract, which were highly appreciated.

Cholera pursued us up to and beyond Cachar; the wretched coolies[Page 319] suffered most, and it is a disease to which Gurkhas are peculiarly susceptible, while a feast on a village pig from time to time probably helped to make matters worse for them. Many of these grand little soldiers and some of the Sikhs also fell victims to the scourge. My orderly, a very smart young Gurkha, to my great regret, was seized with it the day after I reached Cachar, and died next morning.

On my way to Simla, I spent a few days with Norman at Calcutta. The whole place was in mourning on account of the terrible catastrophe which had happened at Port Blair.



Lord Napier of Murchiston, the Governor of Madras, had been summoned to Calcutta to act as Viceroy until Lord Northbrook, Lord Mayo's successor, should arrive. He seemed interested in what I had to tell him about Lushai, and Lord Napier of Magdāla spoke in laudatory terms of the manner in which the expedition had been carried out.

I reached Simla on the 1st of April, the twentieth anniversary of my arrival in India. I found my wife, with the two children, settled in Snowdon,1 a house I had recently purchased. She had had much trouble in my absence, having been at death's door herself, and having very nearly lost our little son at Umballa three weeks after his birth from a Native wet-nurse having tried to kill him. The English nurse's suspicions had been aroused by one day finding a live coal in the cradle, but she did not mention this discovery at the time for fear of frightening my wife; but she determined to watch. A few days later, while with our little girl in the next room, she heard the baby boy choking, and rushed in to find, to her horror, blood on his lips, and that he was struggling violently, as if to get rid of something in his throat! She pushed down her finger and pulled out a sharp piece of cane about two inches long; but other pieces had evidently gone down, for the poor little fellow was in terrible agony for many days. It turned out that the wretched woman hated the unwonted confinement of her new life, and was determined to get away, but was too much afraid of her husband to say so. He wanted her to remain for the sake of the high pay this class of servant receives, so it appeared to the woman that her only chance of freedom was to get rid of the child, and to carry out her purpose she first attempted to set fire to the cradle, and finding this did not succeed, she pulled some pieces of[Page 320] cane off the chair upon which she was sitting, and shoved them down the child's throat. She was, as my wife described her, a pretty, innocent, timid-looking creature, to whom no one would ever have dreamt of attributing such an atrocity. The boy was made extremely delicate for several months by this misadventure, as his digestion had been ruined for the time being, but eventually he completely recovered from its effects.

In September the C.B. was conferred upon me for the Lushai Expedition. Lord Napier informed me of the fact in a particularly kind little note. I was very proud of being a member of the Bath, although at the time a brevet would have been a more useful reward, as want of rank was the reason Lord Napier had given for not allowing me to act as Quartermaster-General, on Lumsden being temporarily appointed Resident at Hyderabad.

We began our usual winter tour in the middle of October. At Mian Mir I made the acquaintance of the Adjutant of the 37th Foot, the late Sir Herbert Stewart, who was then a smart, good-looking subaltern, and I recollect his bemoaning bitterly his bad luck in never having had a chance of seeing service. How little at that time could it have been anticipated that within twelve years he would see hard fighting in Africa, and be killed as a Major-General in command of a column!

We visited several of the stations in the Punjab, and spent a few days at Jamu as guest of the Maharaja of Kashmir, who treated us royally, and gave us some excellent pig-sticking; and on the 21st December we joined Head-Quarters at Lawrencepur for a large Camp of Exercise, to be held on the identical ground which I had selected for the camp which Sir Hugh Rose proposed to have eleven years before.

Lord Napier's care for the soldier Lord Napier of Magdāla did much to improve the efficiency of the army by means of Camps of Exercise. He held one at Delhi in the winter of 1871-72, and the Camp of which I am writing was most successful and instructive. No Commander-in-Chief ever carried out inspections with more thoroughness than did Lord Napier of Magdāla. He spared himself no trouble. On the hottest day he would toil through barrack after barrack to satisfy himself that the soldiers were properly cared for; Europeans and Natives were equally attended to, and many measures conducive to the men's comfort date from the time he was in command in India.

1873 At the close of this camp Lumsden, who had returned to his appointment from Hyderabad, gave up the Quartermaster-Generalship for good. We had been greatly thrown together during the twenty-one years I had been in India, and my wife and I were very sorry to bid farewell to him and Mrs. Lumsden. He was succeeded by Edwin Johnson, pending whose arrival I was now allowed to officiate.

From Lawrencepur I went with the Commander-in-Chief to Calcutta. Soon after we arrived there I was asked by Sir Douglas Forsyth[Page 321] to accompany him on his Mission to Yarkand and Kashgar. I should have much liked to have done so, for the idea of a trip to these, at that time unknown, regions possessed great fascinations for me. I was therefore well pleased when Lord Napier told me he would not stand in the way of my going, and proportionately disappointed when, the next day, His Excellency said that on consideration he did not think I could be spared just then, for the Quartermaster-General would be new to the work at first, and he thought he would need my assistance.

The end of April saw us back in Simla, and in July Edwin Johnson arrived.

Negotiations with Sher Ali renewed During the summer of 1873 important events occurred which had much to do with our subsequent relations with Afghanistan. The inquiries which Sher Ali had begged Lord Mayo to make about Persian encroachments in Sistan, had resulted in General Goldsmid2 and Colonel Pollock3 being deputed in 1871 to proceed to Sistan to decide the question. The settlement arrived at by these officers, which assigned to Afghanistan the country up to the right bank of the Helmand, but nothing beyond, satisfied neither the Shah nor the Amir, and the latter sent his confidential Minister, Saiyad Nur Mahomed, the Afghan Commissioner in the Sistan arbitration, to meet Lord Northbrook on his arrival in Bombay for the purpose of appealing to him against the decision. It could not, however, be reversed; but in a subsequent interview which the new Viceroy accorded the Envoy, the latter was told that as soon as Persia and Afghanistan had signified their acceptance of the settlement, the Government of India would present the Amir with five lakhs of rupees as compensation for the ceded territory which had for a time belonged to Afghanistan.

The action of Her Majesty's Ministers in communication with Russia regarding the northern boundary of Afghanistan was another matter about which the Amir was greatly exercised; and Lord Northbrook, thinking that all such vexed questions could be more satisfactorily explained by personal communication than by letter, proposed to the Amir that His Highness should consent to receive at Kabul a British officer 'of high rank and dignity, in whom I have full confidence' (Mr. Macnabb),4 'who will also explain to Your Highness,' wrote the Viceroy, 'the negotiations which have now been satisfactorily concluded with the Government of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia, whereby the Russian Government have agreed to recognize and respect the integrity and independence of the territories now in Your Highness's possession.'

Sher Ali's demands To this request Sher Ali replied that he considered it advisable that one of his agents should first wait on the Viceroy to ascertain the real[Page 322] views of the British Government on these important matters. This was agreed to, and Saiyad Nur Mahomed was again selected to represent the Amir. He reached Simla towards the end of June. On being informed that Persia had unreservedly accepted the decision as to the Sistan question, the Envoy declared that, whatever opinion the Amir might hold as to his rights, His Highness would also scrupulously respect that decision. With regard to the northern frontier, the Envoy begged it to be clearly understood that the Afghan Government wished to be allowed to make their own laws and follow their own customs within their territories; that the internal affairs of the country should be free from interference; and that the acknowledgment by Russia of the Amir's claim to land south of the Oxus should be confirmed by Bokhara. He further requested 'that the British Government would distinctly promise that, in the event of any aggression on the Amir's territories, they would consider the perpetrator of such aggression as their own enemy.' It was explained to the Saiyad that the British Government did not share the Amir's apprehension of Russia; that under such circumstances as he contemplated, it would be the duty of the Amir to refer to the British Government, who would decide whether it was an occasion for assistance to be rendered by them, and what the nature and extent of the assistance should be; moreover, that their help must be conditional upon the Amir himself abstaining from aggression, and on his unreserved acceptance of the advice of the British Government in regard to his external relations.

Two other questions were discussed:

(1) The location in certain towns in Afghanistan of British officers as representatives of the British Government.

(2) The present assistance to be rendered to the Amir for the purpose of strengthening his country against foreign aggression.

On the first point the Envoy said he had no instructions, but that, in his opinion, to ask Sher Ali to allow British officers to be located in Afghanistan would give rise to mistrust and apprehension. He recommended that a letter should be addressed to the Amir, pointing out the desirability of a British officer being sent to inspect the western and northern boundaries of Afghanistan, proceeding viâ Kandahar and returning viâ Kabul, where he might confer personally with His Highness. This suggestion was carried out.

With regard to the second point under discussion, the Envoy stated that 20,000 stand-of-arms were desired, laying very particular stress on 5,000 Sniders being included in this number, and that hopes were entertained by the Amir that he would be largely assisted with money. In answer to this, the Saiyad was told that there was not then a sufficient reserve supply of Sniders for the English troops in India, and that it was impossible to spare more than 5,000 Enfields; that this number should at once be placed at the Amir's disposal, and that[Page 323] the remainder should be forwarded as soon as they were received from England. He was further informed that five lakhs of rupees (exclusive of the five lakhs promised the year before, as indemnification for the loss of territory) would be given to Sher Ali.

A final letter from the Viceroy was sent to the Amir through Saiyad Nur Mahomed, dated 6th September, 1873, summing up the result of the conference. His Highness was told, with reference to a fear expressed by the Envoy lest Russia should press for the establishment of a Russian Mission and agents in Afghanistan, that Prince Gortschakoff had officially intimated that, while he saw no objection to British officers going to Kabul, he engaged that Russian agents should abstain from doing so, and that, far from apprehending a Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the British Government believed that the effect of the recent arrangements had been to render the occurrence of such a contingency more remote than ever. At the same time, being desirous of seeing the Amir strong and his rule firmly established, the Government were prepared to give him any reasonable assistance.

Sher Ali was greatly annoyed and disappointed at the result of his Envoy's visit to Simla. He was of a very impulsive, passionate disposition; his reply to the Viceroy's letter was discourteous and sarcastic; he declined to receive a British officer at Kabul, and although he condescended to accept the arms presented to him, he left the ten lakhs of rupees untouched in the Peshawar treasury. Colonel Valentine Baker, who was at that time travelling through Central Asia, was forbidden by the Amir to pass through Afghanistan on his way to India; and a few months later he refused to allow Sir Douglas Forsyth's Mission to return to India by way of Afghanistan.



A Trip in the Himalayas
In the beginning of October my wife and I started for a fortnight's trip to the top of the Chor, a fine mountain sixty-two miles from Simla, and close on 12,000 feet high. We were accompanied by a very dear friend of ours—now no more—Colonel Baigrie, who was soon afterwards made Quartermaster-General in Bombay. He was a talented artist and delightful companion, and notwithstanding the old adage that two are company and three none, we three enjoyed our holiday immensely.

After crossing a stream called the Ghiri, below Fagu, the road passes through beautiful forest and cliff scenery, and for the most part was fairly easy, until the foot of the mountain was reached about six miles from the top, when it became very precipitous and difficult.[Page 324] We were the whole day doing this march, breakfasting in one place and lunching in another higher up. There was a good deal of snow in the shady spots. A few days before we had noticed that the top of the mountain was white, but the sun was still too strong in the daytime for the snow to lie long in exposed parts. The way being too steep for my wife to ride or go in a dandy, we all three walked, or rather climbed, up to the shoulder where our tents were pitched, about a mile from the summit.

The forest through which we passed was very beautiful, commencing with dark-green ilex, glistening holly, and sombre brown oak, interspersed with groups of the dainty, graceful, white-stemmed birch, and wreathed with festoons of the scarlet Himalayan vine. As we mounted higher, trees became fewer and the foliage less luxuriant, till at length only oaks were to be seen, their branches twisted into all sorts of weird, fantastic shapes from the strength of the south-west monsoon. Huge rocks became more frequent, covered with lichens and mosses of every shade, from dark-green to brilliant crimson. At length trees and shrubs were left behind, except the red-berried juniper, which grows at a higher elevation here than any other bush, and flourishes in the clefts of the rocks, where nothing else will exist. We got up in time to see the most glorious sunset; the colours were more wonderful than anything I had ever seen before, even in India. My wife urged Baigrie to make a rough sketch, and note the tints, that he might paint a picture of it later. He made the sketch, saying: 'If I attempted to represent truly what we see before us, the painting would be rejected by the good people at home as absurdly unreal, or as the work of a hopeless lunatic.' There was such a high wind that our small tents had a narrow escape of being blown away. That night the water was frozen in our jugs, and it was quite impossible to keep warm.

We were up betimes the next morning, and climbed to the highest peak, where we found breakfast awaiting us and a magnificent view of the Himalayan ranges, right down to the plains on one side and up to the perpetual snows on the other. We descended to the foot of the mountain in the afternoon, and then returned, march by march, to Simla.

Towards the end of the month Lord Napier began his winter tour, visiting the hill stations first. At Chakrata I made the acquaintance of the 92nd Highlanders, that distinguished corps which stood me in such good stead a few years later in Afghanistan. At the end of November we found ourselves at Lucknow, in time to take part in Lord Northbrook's state entry, and be present at a fête given to the Viceroy in the Wingfield Park by Sir George Cooper, the Chief Commissioner.

From Lucknow we went for a brief visit to a small Camp of Exercise[Page 325] near Rurki, where Lord Napier left the Adjutant-General, Thesiger,1 in command, while he himself proceeded to visit some of the stations in the Madras Presidency, and I returned for a short time to Simla.

While riding up the hill from Kalka, I had a novel experience. One of those tremendous thunder-storms which are not uncommon in the Himalayas came on; the rain was blinding and incessant, and the peals of thunder were simultaneous with the lightning. At last there was a tremendous crash; a flash, more vivid than the rest, passed right in front of my horse's head, accompanied by a whizzing noise and a sulphurous smell, completely blinding me for a second. Two Natives travelling a few yards ahead of me fell flat on their faces, and I thought they were killed, but it turned out they were only knocked over and very much frightened.

1874 Early in January, 1874, we received by telegram the infinitely sad news of my father's death. We ought, I suppose, to have been prepared for such an event, seeing that he was within a few months of his ninetieth birthday; but he was so well and active, and took such a keen interest in all that was going on, especially anything connected with India, that we hardly realize