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Title: Mutiny Memoirs - Being Personal Reminiscences of the Great Sepoy Revolt of 1857
Author: MacKenzie, A.R.D.
Language: English
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MUTINY MEMOIRS



  MUTINY MEMOIRS
  BEING
  _PERSONAL REMINISCENCES_
  OF THE
  GREAT SEPOY REVOLT OF 1857

  BY
  COLONEL A. R. D. MACKENZIE, _C.B._,
  HONY. A.-D.-C. TO THE VICEROY

  _Forsan et hæc olim meminisse juvabit_

  Allahabad
  AT THE PIONEER PRESS: 1891



  TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE MOST HONORABLE
  The Marquess of Lansdowne,
  _G.M.S.I._, _G.C.M.G._, _G.M.I.E._,
  VICEROY AND GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF INDIA.
  THIS SHORT RECORD OF PERSONAL ADVENTURE
  DURING THE GREAT INDIAN MUTINY OF
  1857 IS, BY PERMISSION, AND
  WITH PROFOUND RESPECT,
  DEDICATED BY
  The Author.



_PREFACE._


_The reminiscences contained in the following pages were originally
published in the columns of the_ PIONEER; _and it is with the kind
permission of the Editor of that Journal that I am enabled to re-issue
them in the form of this little book_.

_They do not pretend to any merit but that of truth. In that respect
they may claim to present a record of actual events, and thus to bring
before the Reader, however imperfectly, a rough sketch of the great
Indian Mutiny such as it appeared to the eyes of a young Subaltern
Officer of Native Cavalry, who had the good fortune to be engaged in
its suppression._



_CONTENTS._


                                      PAGE.
     I.--THE OUTBREAK                 1--30
    II.--SKIRMISHING                 31--61
   III.--BEFORE DELHI                62--86
    IV.--STORMING THE CITY          87--108
     V.--CAPTURE OF JHUJJUR        109--133
    VI.--EN ROUTE FOR LUCKNOW      134--163
   VII.--DILKHOOSHA                164--187
  VIII.--LUCKNOW                   188--204
    IX.--A HERO'S DEATH            205--211



MUTINY MEMOIRS.


I.
THE OUTBREAK.


In jotting down the reminiscences and sketches contained in the
following pages, my aim is to record simply and truthfully certain
episodes of a stirring period of Indian military history.

Englishmen can never cease to be interested in the story of the great
Sepoy Mutiny; and I trust that even so modest a contribution as mine to
the narrative of some of its details may not be considered superfluous.
Often have I been urged to give the semi-permanence of printer's ink to
some story told over the walnuts and the wine; and at last I am tempted
to take advantage of the enforced leisure which has been imposed on
me by the recent regulations limiting tenure of regimental command,
and placing me, with many other better men, unwillingly _en retraite_,
while still in the prime of life and energy.

If I am compelled, in the course of these pages, to speak of myself and
my own doings, I trust that I may be absolved from the imputation of
being prompted by vainglorious motives; and that my excuse may be found
in the evident impossibility of keeping the first personal pronoun out
of a personal narrative. My having been mixed up in the events which
I propose to describe is clearly an accident for which, though I may
apologise, I am not responsible; and perhaps if I had not been engaged
in them I should have known a good deal less about them. Whether that
is an advantage, or the reverse, to a _raconteur_, is, of course, a
matter of opinion. Certainly, a witness is much less hampered in his
statements if he is not limited and bound down by the fact of his
having been actually present at the scenes described in his evidence.
His imaginative faculties are thereby quickened and enriched.

Hitherto, though often sorely tempted, I have refrained from publishing
any account of those details of events during the Mutiny at which
I was myself present; for, as will be seen, these details involve
certain corrections in narratives which have been, for want of fuller
information, accepted as complete. While perfectly true, in most
points, so far as they have gone, they yet suffer from omissions which
I am able to supply. The accuracy of my rectifications is, fortunately,
capable of ample proof, since several very distinguished officers
still survive who can vouch for it; and in most instances I am also in
possession of conclusive contemporary documentary evidence.

It is not my intention to inflict on the reader my own views as to the
origin of the Mutiny. Whether the _fons et origo mali_ was deep-seated
and of slow growth--whether it was due to political discontent at
the overthrow of the great Mogal Empire, the annexation of Oudh, and
the reduction of the King of Delhi to the position of a puppet of
John Company Bahadur--or whether it arose simply from the excessive
and pampered growth of the sepoy army, which, like the ass Jeshuron,
waxed fat and kicked, is a question which has been often dealt with
by abler pens than mine. It is, however, a significant fact that many
clear-sighted men had, from time to time, issued notes of warning as to
the likelihood of such a catastrophe.

When at length the threatened storm burst, my regiment, the late
3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, was one of those which broke into revolt
at Meerut. In its ranks were ninety men armed with muzzle-loading
carbines; and it was these carabineers who first set authority at
defiance by refusing to use the cartridges supplied to them, on the
ground that they suspected the grease used in lubricating them to
have been composed of hog's lard. This pretext was, on the face of
it, absurd; since, as a matter of fact, the cartridges had been made
regimentally; and all the men perfectly well knew that so innocent
a compound as bees' wax and clarified butter had been applied as a
lubricant. The word had, however, been passed throughout the Bengal
native army to make the cartridge question the test as to which was
stronger--the native soldier or the Government. Every one remembers the
mysterious "chuppatties" or flat wheaten cakes which, shortly before
the Mutiny, were circulated from regiment to regiment. The message
conveyed by them has never been fathomed by Englishmen; but there can
be no doubt that they were in some way a signal, understood by the
sepoys, of warning to be in readiness for coming events.

Colonel Carmichael Smith, Commanding the 3rd Light Cavalry, with a view
to test the willingness or otherwise of the carabineers of his regiment
to use the cartridges, held a special parade for the purpose on the
24th of April 1857; and, after an explanatory speech, pointing out to
the men the groundlessness of their fears, ordered them to use the
cartridges. Eighty-five of them refused to do so. A court of inquiry
was subsequently held on their conduct, followed by the inevitable
court-martial. Only one finding was possible; and the sentence
pronounced on all the culprits was one of ten years' imprisonment.
This, in the case of some of the younger soldiers, was reduced to five
years by the confirming officer, General Hewett, Commanding the Meerut
Division. On the morning of the 9th of May the whole garrison of Meerut
paraded to hear the sentences read out; after which each convict was
fitted with a pair of leg-irons, fitted there and then, on to his
ankles by blacksmiths.

In sullen silence the two native infantry corps, the 11th and 20th,
and my own regiment, which was dismounted on that occasion, witnessed
the degrading punishment. It would have been madness for them then to
have attempted a rescue; for they would have been swept off the face of
the earth by the guns of the artillery and the rifles of Her Majesty's
60th Foot, not to speak of the swords of the 6th Dragoon Guards, the
Carabineers, all of whom were provided with service ammunition, and
were so placed as to have the native regiments at their mercy.

For more than an hour the troops stood motionless, their nerves at the
highest tension, while the felon shackles were being methodically and
of necessity slowly hammered on the ankles of the wretched criminals,
each in turn loudly calling on his comrades for help, and abusing, in
fierce language, now their Colonel, now the officers who composed the
court-martial, now the Government. No response came from the ranks. The
impressive ceremony was duly finished. The prisoners were taken charge
of by the authorities of the jail and a guard of native infantry; and
the troops marched back to quarters. For a few hours all was quiet.
The snake of insubordination was, to all appearance, scotched, if not
killed. Every one hoped that the stern lesson had been effectual; but
a rough disillusion was in store for us.

On the evening of the next day, the memorable Sunday, 10th of May
1857, at the hour when better folk were on their way to church, I was
quietly reading a book in my own bungalow when my bearer Sheodeen
suddenly rushed into the room, exclaiming that a _hulla-goolla_ (in
our vernacular, a riot) was going on in the lines, that the sepoys
had risen, and were murdering the _Sahib logue_. Not for an instant
did I believe the latter part of his story, even though the rapid and
frequent reports of fire-arms, which now broke the quiet of the Sabbath
evening, made only too clear the truth of the first. The thought that
flashed through my mind was that our men of the cavalry were attacking
the native infantry in revenge for the sneers with which we all knew
these others had freely, since the punishment parade, lashed their
submissive apathy in witnessing, without an attempt at rescue, the
degradation of their comrades. Sooth to say--so strong is the tie of
_camaraderie_--my sympathies were all in the wrong direction; and I
would secretly have rejoiced to have seen the insult avenged. Hurriedly
putting on my uniform and sword, I jumped on a horse, and galloped
towards the regimental lines; but I had scarcely got out of the gate
of my compound when I met the English Quartermaster-Sergeant of my
regiment flying for his life on foot from his house in the lines.

"Oh God! Sir," he exclaimed, "the troopers are coming to cut us
up." "Let us then stick together," I answered; "two are better than
one." For a moment he hesitated. Then, looking back, the sight of a
small cloud of dust rapidly approaching from the distance overcame
his resolution, and he rushed through the gate into the grounds of
my bungalow, and scaled the wall between them and those of the next
house. Instantly a small mob of _budmashes_,[1] prominent among whom
I recognised my own night watchman, attacked him. The chowkidar thrust
at him with his spear as he was crossing the wall, and cut open his
lips. To my joy he fired one barrel of a gun which he carried with him,
and shot the brute dead. He then dropped on to the ground on the other
side, and disappeared from view. Later on will be found his subsequent
adventures: for I rejoice to say he escaped with his life.

At this moment an infantry sepoy, armed with a sword, made a sudden
swoop with it at my head. I had not drawn my sword, and had only time
to dig a spur into my horse's flank and force him almost on to my
enemy. This spoilt his stroke, and his tulwar fortunately missed its
aim, and only cut my right shoulder cord. By this time I had pulled
my weapon out of its scabbard, but the sepoy declined any further
sword-play, and promptly climbed over a wall out of my reach. As I
turned from him and looked down the road to the lines, I saw that it
was full of cavalry troopers galloping towards me. Even then it did not
occur to me that they could have any hostile intent towards myself. I
shouted to them to halt. This they did, and surrounded me; and, before
I knew what was happening, I found myself warding off, as well as I
could, a fierce onslaught from many blades. A few moments would have
sealed my fate, when, providentially, the late Lieutenant Craigie
emerged from his gate a little further down the road and came straight
to my help. This diversion saved me. The troopers scattered past us and
made off towards the European lines. It was only too clear now that a
mutiny, and that of the most serious kind, was in full swing. Our duty
was plain, though very hard to perform, for at this moment Lieutenant
Craigie's Wife and my Sister were on their way together in his carriage
to the church, situated in the European lines, and our first natural
impulse was to gallop after them. But they had started some little
time previously, and we hoped that they had already reached their
destination, and were in safety among the British troops. Military
discipline sometimes tries a soldier to the utmost; and now we felt
that Wife and Sister must be left in the hands of God, and that our
place was among the mutineers on the parade-ground. Thither we went
as fast as our horses could carry us, and found ourselves in a scene
of the utmost uproar. Most of the men were already mounted, and were
careering wildly about, shouting and brandishing their swords, firing
carbines and pistols into the air, or forming themselves into excited
groups. Others were hurriedly saddling their horses and joining their
comrades in hot haste.

Nearly every British officer of the Regiment came to the ground, and
used every effort of entreaty, and even menace, to restore order, but
utterly without effect. To their credit be it said the men did not
attack us, but warned us to be off, shouting that the Company's Raj
was over for ever! Some even seemed to hesitate about joining the
noisiest mutineers; and Craigie, observing this, was led to hope that
they might be won over to our side. He was an excellent linguist and
had great influence among them, and he eventually managed to get some
forty or fifty troopers to listen to him and keep apart in a group.
Suddenly a rumour reached us that the jail was being attacked and the
prisoners released. Calling to the late Lieutenant Melville Clarke
and myself to come with him, Craigie persuaded the group which he had
assembled to follow him, and away we went towards the jail. The roads
were full of excited natives who actually roared approbation as we rode
through them, for they evidently did not distinguish in the dusk the
British officers, and took the whole party for a band of mutineers. We
three officers led, and as we neared the jail our pace increased, till
from a smart trot we broke into a gallop. Already the sepoys and the
mob had begun their destructive work. Clouds of smoke on all sides
marked where houses had been set on fire. The telegraph lines were cut,
and a slack wire, which I did not see as it swung across the road,
caught me full on the chest, and bowled me over into the dust. Over my
prostrate body poured the whole column of our followers, and I well
remember my feelings as I looked up at the shining hoofs. Fortunately
I was not hurt, and regaining my horse I remounted, and soon nearly
overtook Craigie and Clarke, when I was horror-struck to see a
palanquin gharry--a sort of box-shaped venetian-sided carriage--being
dragged slowly onwards by its driverless horse, while beside it rode a
trooper of the 3rd Cavalry, plunging his sword repeatedly through the
open window into the body of its already dead occupant--an unfortunate
European woman. But Nemesis was upon the murderer. In a moment Craigie
had dealt him a swinging cut across the back of the neck, and Clarke
had run him through the body. The wretch fell dead--the first sepoy
victim at Meerut to the sword of the avenger of blood. All this passed
in a second, and it was out of the power of our men to prevent it; but
the fate of their comrade evidently greatly excited and angered them.
Shouts of "_maro! maro!_" ("kill! kill!") began to be heard among them,
and we all thought the end was approaching. However, none of the men
attacked us, and in a few minutes we reached the jail, only to find
that we were too late. The prisoners were already swarming out of it;
their shackles were being knocked off by blacksmiths before our eyes;
and the jail-guard of native infantry on our riding up to it answered
our questions by firing at us, fortunately without hitting any of us.
There was nothing to be done but to ride back to the cantonment.

No sooner had we turned our horses' heads than the full horror of
what was taking place burst upon us. The whole cantonments seemed one
mass of flames. If before we rode fast, now we flew; for the most
urgent fears for the safety of those dear to us tortured us almost to
madness. As we tore along Craigie allowed me to leave him and go in
search of his Wife and my Sister, and to take any of the men who would
go with me. I lifted my sword and shouted for volunteers to come to
save my Sister, and some dozen of them galloped after me. As hard as
our horses could gallop we tore along. Every house we passed was in
flames, my own included, and my heart sank within me. Craigie's house
alone was not burning when we reached it--a large double-storeyed
building, in very extensive grounds, surrounded, as was then usual, by
a mud wall. Here I found Mrs. Craigie and my Sister. They had never
reached the church. Their coachman had turned back in terror of the
mob. As they passed the bazar a soldier of the 6th Dragoon Guards
rushed out of a bye-lane, pursued by a yelling crowd. The brave ladies,
at the imminent risk of their own lives, stopped the carriage, took
him in and drove off at full speed, followed for some distance by the
blood-thirsty wretches who, being on foot, were soon left behind, not,
however, till they had slashed with their tulwars in several places the
hood of the carriage, in vain efforts to reach the inmates.

It is impossible to realise what terrors these ladies must have
suffered till the moment of my arrival. Every minute they despaired
of surviving to the next. All round them flames of burning houses and
mobs of yelling demons! Not knowing whether the Husband and Brother
were alive or dead--deserted apparently by God and man--hopeless of
help,--they yet never despaired, nor lost their courage or presence
of mind. Their first thought had been to find Craigie's weapons and
place them where they would be ready to hand if he or I did ever come.
Nothing had they overlooked. Three double-barrelled guns stood against
the wall, with powder-flask and bullets and caps. They were not loaded,
for the ladies did not know how to load them; and the unfortunate
Carabineer was in a state of nervous collapse. Overjoyed, and thankful
to Providence as I was to find them still alive and unhurt, I could
not conceal from them that extreme danger was by no means over, and
that they would yet have need of all their courage. The greatest risk
I instinctively felt was from the uncertain temper of my men; and I
determined on a desperate stroke. I therefore brought the ladies down
to the door of the house, and calling to me the troopers commended
their lives to their charge. It is impossible to understand the swift
torrents of feeling that flood the hearts of Orientals in periods of
intense excitement. Like madmen they threw themselves off their horses
and prostrated themselves before the ladies, seizing their feet and
placing them on their heads, as they vowed with tears and sobs to
protect their lives with their own.

Greatly re-assured by this burst of evidently genuine emotion, I now
ordered the men to mount and patrol the grounds, while I took the
ladies upstairs, and then loaded all the guns with ball. One of them I
placed by itself against the wall. Long afterwards, in quiet England,
my Sister, who still survives, told me that both she and Mrs. Craigie
well understood the sacred use to which that gun was, in the last
resort, devoted, and that the knowledge comforted and strengthened them.

Through the windows flashed brilliant light from the flaming houses on
all sides. The hiss and crackle of the burning timbers--the yells of
the mob--the frequent sharp reports of fire-arms--all formed a confused
roar of sound, the horror of which might well have overpowered the
nerves of the ladies; but I learned during that awful night the quiet
heroism of which our gentle countrywomen are capable in the hour of
need. As I stepped out on to the upper verandah I was seen by some of
the mob who were wrecking the opposite house. "There is a feringi,"
they cried; "let us burn this big _kothi_" (house), and several of them
ran forward with lighted brands to the boundary wall; but on seeing my
gun levelled at them they thought better of it and recoiled. More than
once this happened. It seemed only a matter of time before our house
should be set on fire at one point or another. Fortunately I remembered
the existence in the grounds of a small Hindu shrine, strongly built of
masonry, on a high plinth, and with only one entrance, approached by a
flight of stone or brick steps. If I could only get my charges and the
guns and ammunition safely across the open space between us and that
building, I felt sure of being able to hold out till help should come:
for surely help would soon come! Were not the 6th Dragoon Guards, the
60th Rifles, and the Horse Artillery Batteries within a couple of miles?

At this juncture we were cheered by the arrival of Lieutenant Craigie,
who, after I left him, had gone back to the parade-ground where the
uproar was still at its height, the heroic efforts of the British
officers to bring the men to reason being quite futile. At length,
seeing the hopelessness of further endeavour, and finding the men
getting more and more uncontrollable, they were compelled to retire
and make for the European lines, carrying away with them the now
for-ever disgraced standards of the regiment. One of them, the late
Major Fairlie, also carried with him a bullet which was lodged in his
saddle-tree. Craigie then made his way back to us at great risk of
his life, accompanied by a few men who had never left him. He warmly
approved of my plan; and, having explained it to the ladies, they
quickly gathered together a few necessary articles of apparel, &c.;
and each carrying her bundle, and concealed as far as possible under
a covering of dark blanket, while Craigie and the Carabineer and I
carried the guns and ammunition, we seized a favourable moment and ran
rapidly across to our new stronghold.

Once there, we were safe from being burnt out, and indeed from
successful attack of any kind by the cowardly crew with which we had
to deal. The interior space was very small, probably about ten feet
square. In front was the narrow doorway; and in the massive walls were
slits like loopholes through which we could observe if any attempts
were made to approach the place. Every now and then our troopers
brought us news of what was going on. The night had not long closed in
when they told us that apparently the whole body of mutineers, horse
and foot, had marched away to Delhi. Their attack on the European
lines, if they had made one, had clearly failed; and the only marauders
remaining in Meerut were the butchers and other scum of the city and
bazars. Presently one of our men went over to the opposite house, which
by this time was burnt nearly to the ground. He returned with awful
news. He had found the dead body of its occupant, a lady, whose husband
at the outbreak of the mutiny was absent in the European quarter.
She had been most cruelly and brutally murdered, her unborn infant
sharing her pitiable fate. He showed us, in confirmation of his story,
a portion of her dress reeking with blood. Not far from us, another
lady, while attempting to escape, disguised as an ayah, was recognised
as a European, and murdered. Two veterinary-surgeons, attached to
the regiment, had been killed--one of them with his wife--under
circumstances of ghastly horror. They were both sick in bed with
small-pox when the uproar of the mob startled them; and they came, in
their night clothes, into the verandah, he carrying a gun loaded with
shot, which he discharged at the crowd, only further enraging it. He
was instantly shot dead. His wife met with a worse fate. The cowardly
demons, afraid to touch her because of the danger of infection,
threw lighted brands at her. Her dress caught fire; and she perished
thus miserably. My own house-comrade, a fine young officer, had been
mobbed on his way to church, and so hacked to pieces that but for his
length--he was very tall--and the rags of his uniform which still
clung to him, his remains would have been unrecognisable when they were
subsequently recovered. A poor little girl, daughter of one of the
British Non-Commissioned Officers of the regiment, had been slaughtered
by a blow of a sword which cut her skull in two. Scenes like the above
had been enacted all over Meerut; but I will spare the reader further
details. If he is sickened by what I have already written, I can only
say that mere generalities, however graphic, are insufficient to place
before him a true picture of what English men, women, and children
suffered at the hands of the mutineers, not only in Meerut, but almost
everywhere through the North-West of India.

In these days of agitation for the repeal of the Arms Act, it is well
to remind home-staying Englishmen of what once occurred, and what may
again occur if a wave of political discontent or religious fanaticism
should unhappily once more sweep over the "land of regrets."

Anxiously did we now listen for the rattle of horses' hoofs, the
rumble of guns, or the tramp of feet coming to our help--but none
came! Hour after hour passed--and still the mob were left undisturbed
in their work of destruction and murder. We heard afterwards that
a strong mounted party had been sent to clear the cantonments and
rescue any survivors of the massacre; but--incredible to relate--it
had been misled by the Staff Officer who was detailed to guide it,
and never reached its intended destination. Among the troopers with
us were one or two traitors, whose sole object in remaining was to
undermine the loyalty of the rest. A young recruit who had, not long
previously, passed through riding school in the same squad with myself,
presently came to me as I was standing among a group of the men outside
our stronghold (for Craigie and I now took it in turns to try and
re-assure them by mixing with them), and warned me to be beware of the
Havildar-Major, who had, he said, at that moment, been urging the
others to kill me. It may be well imagined that I took very good care
afterwards to keep a watchful eye on that Non-Commissioned Officer, and
to let him see by a touch of my hand on the hilt of my sword that I was
quite ready for any suspicious movement on his part. Soon afterwards he
and a few others rode out of the gate, and we saw them no more. They
had not long gone when a servant of Craigie's, a Hindu bearer, came up
to us in great excitement with the news that a crowd of _budmashes_
was coming in at the gate. He implored us to give him one of the guns,
and let him go and fire at them. Whether wisely or not, we did so; and
almost immediately afterwards we heard a report, followed by yells and
groans. In a few moments the bearer returned, and gave us back the gun,
saying that he had fired into "the brown" of the advancing mob, and
brought one of them down, and the rest had fled.

It was now about midnight. The uproar was quieting down; and we
determined on making our escape, if possible. So, with our own
hands--the _syces_ (grooms) having bolted--we harnessed Craigie's
horses to his carriage; placed the ladies and the Carabineer inside
with the three guns; made a native boy who usually rode postillion,
and who fortunately had not gone off with the syces, mount one of the
horses and set off, Craigie and I riding with drawn swords beside the
carriage. This was a critical moment. A knot of the troopers, evidently
wavering in their intentions, occupied the avenue before us, loudly
talking and gesticulating. The postillion hesitated; but, on our
threatening to run him through the body if he did not at once gallop
on, he took heart of grace, lashed his horses, and in a moment we had
charged through and scattered the impeding group, and were racing along
the avenue at full speed over the body of the man who had been killed
by the faithful bearer, and who was afterwards identified as a Musalman
butcher, a class of men who were among the most blood-thirsty actors
on that night. Turning out of the gate to our left we made along the
road to the regimental parade-ground, from which a nearly unbroken
plain stretched to the European lines. We found the plain deserted;
and rapidly made our way till we reached a short length of straight
road which ran to the stables of the Carabineers. At the far end of
it we saw a light, which we rightly took to be a portfire. Making the
postillion slacken speed, Craigie and I galloped forward, shouting
"Friend! Friend!" at the utmost stretch of our lungs; and well was it
we did so; for we found at a point where a bridge crossed a nullah a
piquet with a gun trailed up the road; and the subaltern in command
told us he was on the point of firing at our rapidly approaching group
when our voices reached him. At last--with deep gratitude--we felt that
our dear ones were once more safe among our own countrymen. The wife of
a Sergeant of the Carabineers very kindly gave the ladies shelter for
the rest of the night; and Craigie and I shifted for ourselves, _al
fresco_.

To revert to the adventures of the regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant
after he left me. Covered with blood from the wound in his lip and
carrying his gun in one hand and his sword in the other, he presented
a sufficiently startling spectacle as he burst into a room of a
neighbouring bungalow occupied by two young officers, and warned
them--still unconscious--of what was taking place. Not a moment did
they lose in buckling on their swords and rushing to the stables. As
they did so they saw one of their own syces running away with a saddle
on his head. They could only find two other saddles; but fortunately
bridles for three horses were hanging on their usual pegs. Rapidly
slipping them on, they mounted, giving the Sergeant a bare-backed
animal, and they made for a gate. It was blocked by mutineers. They
turned to the other: that also was blocked. Their lives seemed lost,
when one of their servants, a sweeper, the lowest and most despised
caste of Indian domestics, heedless of the certainty that his own life
would be sacrificed to the fury of the mob disappointed of its prey,
implored them to follow him. Running before them he led them to the
back of the out-houses, and showed them a gap in the "compound"[2] wall
which the servants had made for their own convenience. Through this gap
they filed, and galloped off, escaping the hurried shots which were
fired after them, and eventually reaching in safety the barracks of the
60th Rifles. The sweeper fell a victim to the rage of the pursuers. He
was hacked to pieces. No more beautiful deed ever brightened the dark
days of the "'57" than the self-sacrifice of this obscure and nameless
hero.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Rascals.

[2] The name given to the enclosed grounds of a house in the
North-Western Provinces.



II.
SKIRMISHING.


Before continuing my narrative, I wish to draw particular attention
to a circumstance which, so far as I know, has been overlooked by
every historian of the Mutiny. This is the fact that as I was at the
time informed, the military authorities, in view of the lengthening
days and the increasing heat of the season, had caused, on May 10th,
1857, the evening church parade to take place half an hour later
than formerly. In my firm belief, this change saved us from an awful
catastrophe. In those days British troops attended divine service
practically unarmed, for they did not take with them their rifles or
carbines and ammunition. Their only weapons were their side-arms. The
mutineers were, of course, unaware of this change. They broke into
revolt half an hour too soon. Had they waited till the 60th Rifles
were securely gathered into the church, what could have prevented
them from overpowering the small guards over the rifles and the guns,
and utterly destroying the defenceless crowd of soldiers penned, like
sheep, within four walls. Providence befriended us. When the first
scouts of the cavalry came galloping down to the European lines, they
found the white soldiers falling into their places on parade. Once the
alarm was given, all attempt at surprise was out of the question, and
the hope of achieving an easy massacre was changed into fear of the
awful retribution which they thought the European troops, now on the
alert, would not fail speedily to exact. This fear altered all their
plans, and hastened their flight to Delhi, so graphically described by
Sir John Kaye; but, alas! no swift retribution followed.

The European troops, 1,500 strong, were paralysed by the irresolution
of their chief. Had the gallant Hearsey or Sidney Cotton occupied
Hewett's place at Meerut, it is safe to say that, in spite of the wings
which fear lent to the mutineers on their flight to Delhi, few of them
would ever have reached that haven of their hopes. The shrapnel of the
artillery and the swords of the Carabineers would have annihilated
them. It is true that Generals Hewett and Archdale Wilson, late in
the evening, moved the troops over the open plain of the infantry
parade-ground and that they caused a few rounds to be fired, in the
dark, at some belated stragglers of the cavalry, which said rounds, by
the way, nearly killed an officer, Lieutenant Galloway, of my regiment,
who had taken refuge in an out-house in the line of fire; but General
Hewett, instead of even then detaching the Carabineers and a battery
of horse artillery in pursuit of the flying mutineers, acted on the
ill-starred advice of his Brigadier to withdraw the whole force to the
European lines. No greater mistake from any point of view was ever
committed.

There can be no doubt that the offer of Captain Rosser, of the 6th
Dragoon Guards, to take a squadron and a couple of guns in pursuit, was
really made and declined; for it was well known and much discussed
at the time. It is true that intimation of this offer never reached
the Colonel Commanding the Regiment; but it is equally certain that
somebody blundered in not taking immediate steps to bring it to the
notice of Colonel Custance. The prompt punishment which even such a
small body could have inflicted would have been of the utmost value as
a lesson both to the rebels and to the faint-hearted among ourselves;
but the opportunity was wilfully thrown away; and the magnificent
brigade of British troops of all arms, which afterwards covered itself
with glory at the Hindun Nuddee, at Delhi, at Lucknow, and wherever its
members met the enemy, was marched back to Meerut, and condemned for a
period to the humiliating _rôle_ of passive inaction.

Difficult as it is to understand, and impossible to excuse the motives
which paralysed the nerves of General Hewett, it can only be hoped that
all our officers have laid to heart the lesson so frequently learned
in the great school of the Sepoy Mutiny that, in dealing with an
Oriental enemy, _l'audace! et toujours l'audace_ is not only the most
soldierlike but the surest road to success. "Strike promptly and strike
hard" should be their motto. Over and over again have small bodies of
Englishmen, under the most desperate circumstances, and against the
most fearful odds, by acting on this maxim, "plucked the flower safely
from the nettle danger." When the day comes, as come it will, that we
Englishmen will once more have to fight for the preservation of our
Indian Empire, the issue will only be doubtful if timid and irresolute
counsels prevent us from putting forth the whole of our strength at the
first serious symptoms of internal disaffection or external menace.

During the next few days the Meerut garrison lay inert. Far from
undertaking any distant reconnaisances or making any active efforts to
restore to quiet the surrounding districts, not even was punishment
inflicted on the city or the bazars, which had poured forth their
swarms of murderers and robbers on the night of the 10th. A few
individual marauders were, it is true, caught and hanged; but there
retributive measures ceased. Native houses, choked with plunder, were
left unsearched, and their occupants were allowed unmolested to swagger
about in the sight of all men, and to boast among themselves of the
shame and havoc they had wrought on the "Feringhi."

Our women and children and unarmed civilian refugees were given shelter
in the "Dumdama," an often-described walled enclosure. The Generals and
their staffs and many other officers took refuge in a barrack, over
which a guard was duly mounted. Piquets, inlying and outlying, were
told off; and every precaution was taken to prevent the cantonments
being rushed by the "budmashes" of the "Burra Bazar" or the Goojars of
the neighbouring villages!

As a comic element is never absent from the most tragic events, I may
interpolate here a little story _anent_ Colonel Blank. That gallant
officer rejoiced in a long and scanty moustache, which up to the
moment of the Mutiny had retained the glossy black of youth. A few
days afterwards, an officer who met me asked me if I had observed the
terrible effect which late events had evidently wrought on the Colonel.
"Poor fellow!" said he, "his hair has turned perfectly white!" My
irreverent laughter amazed and shocked him. He little knew that the
blanching of the old gentleman's moustache was due to his not having
had the time or the presence of mind to bring with him in his hurried
flight from the mutineers his trusty bottle of hair-dye.

A very few nights after the Generals and other officers had taken up
their quarters in the barrack already mentioned, they suffered from
a scare which, if it did not whiten their hair, might easily have
proved a very serious matter to its innocent cause. This was how it
happened. It must be premised that a row of beds lined each wall of
the long barrack-room, each bed containing a General, a staff, or at
the least a field officer, every one of whom reposed his head on a
pillow under which lay a revolver, while his sword was either resting
on a chair beside him or hanging on the wall. Outside was a guard of
British soldiers, and in the immediate vicinity were some fifteen or
sixteen hundred more. Altogether as secure and well-guarded a dormitory
as it is possible to conceive, and one in which the most timid and
nerve-shaken creature might placidly entrust himself to the arms of
Morpheus. Not so, thought one of its warrior occupants. Were there not
three Hindu punkah-coolies in the verandah, and were not all their
lives at the mercy of these miscreants? It behoved one at least to
remain on the alert, and, with a watchful eye on the coolie toiling
at the punkah rope at one end of the room, to safeguard the lives of
all the careless sleepers. He should be that one! So, ostentatiously
snoring, and pretending to be wrapped in slumber, he devoted himself
to his task. A couple of hours passed without incident; but at last
his vigilance was justified and rewarded. The ruffian at the rope who,
while there remained a chance that any of his proposed victims might
be still awake, had pulled with steady cadence the heavy punkahs, now
began to simulate slumber, and at intervals to cease pulling. Evidently
this was a deep and artful ruse to discover if the cessation of the
fanning breeze might, peradventure, rouse any of the sleepers; but
none of them stirred. The moment for action had clearly arrived. So
the blood-thirsty coolie coughed a smothered cough once or twice as
a signal to his two confederates in the verandah; but as no response
came, he prepared to go and personally warn them. As a precautionary
measure, however, he noiselessly laid down the rope, and, approaching
the nearest sleepers, bent over them to satisfy himself that they were
really unconscious. As he repeated this performance over our watchful
friend, whose hair was now standing on end with horror, he found
himself suddenly clutched in the embrace of a pair of arms nerved with
the strength of panic fear, while loud shouts of "I've got him! I've
got him!" echoed through the room. Breathless with excitement, the bold
captor told his thrilling tale, and demanded that the three villains
should be led to instant execution. He laughed to scorn the plausible
story of his captive, to the effect that he had been left at the punkah
rope longer than his rightful turn, that he had coughed to attract the
attention of his "budlee" or relieving coolie, that on this signal
failing he had then determined to go and fetch him; but _dur ki maree_,
"the fear of being beaten," had induced him to make sure, before
doing so, that none of the "sahibs" was likely to jump up, and, _more
Anglo-Indico_, chastise him. Fortunately for the wretched coolie his
explanation was accepted, not without much laughter, and he escaped the
gallows; but nothing could ever convince his gallant captor that he had
not by his courage and presence of mind averted a dreadful massacre.

It is really difficult to exaggerate the demoralisation which at that
period seemed to overcome the nerves of certain of the more weak-kneed
among us. Every native was to their excited imagination a "Pandy." My
own faithful bearer, Sheodeen, owed to the natty twist of his turban
and the martial way in which he habitually curled up his moustaches,
a very close interview with the hangman. He was, during my absence,
arrested, and would undoubtedly have been given a short shrift if an
officer who knew him had not sent for me in hot haste. My earnest
advice to him after that grim experience was to roll his "puggrie"
anyhow, to take the curl out of his moustaches, to drop his jaunty
swaggering gait, and generally to look as mean and dirty as possible.

On the night of the 11th an adventure happened to myself, which at the
time I was rather shy of mentioning, but which I may now relate. I had
taken it on myself to do a little patrolling on my own account; and
as I was starting from near the main gate of the "Dumdama," I came
across a Eurasian Trumpeter named Murray, of my own regiment. As he was
mounted I asked him to accompany me. This he did. We had not gone far
before we saw, indistinctly, through the dusk, what appeared to be a
small group of the rebels, cautiously creeping towards where a tree,
growing close to the wall, gave them a fair chance of successfully
scaling it. "Will you stick by me, Murray, and charge them?" I
whispered. "That I will, sir," replied he: "I will stand by you to the
last drop of my blood." So, drawing our swords, and moving quietly
forward for a few yards, we suddenly clapped spurs to our horses and
charged--to the bewilderment and complete demoralisation of a speckled
cow, over whose body we narrowly escaped "coming to grief," and who,
as soon as she could recover her senses, dashed off into the darkness.
"Never mind, Murray," said I. "It might have been the Pandies, you
know. We'll just say nothing about this--yet a while." Poor fellow! he
was killed not many days afterwards, bravely fighting, at the Hindun
Nuddee.

On the evening of the 15th May the native Sappers and Miners from
Roorkee marched into Meerut. Next afternoon it so happened that a small
party of the faithful remnant of the 3rd Light Cavalry, which was about
to proceed under my command to the support of the civil authorities
in a neighbouring station, was paraded, mounted, for the General's
inspection, close to the barrack where he had taken up his quarters,
when I heard the report of a single shot, rapidly followed by two or
three more, from the direction of the Sapper Camp; and presently saw
that a scene of confusion and uproar was going on there. A rumour
reached me--how I do not remember--that the Sappers had mutinied, had
killed Alfred Light, the artillery officer who afterwards became so
distinguished, and were about to fly into the jungle. Naturally I lost
no time in dismounting and running in to the barrack to inform General
Hewett, whom I found in the dishabille of shirt and pyjamas.

While I was making my report to the bewildered General, Brigadier
Archdale Wilson pushed up to us, buckling on his sword-belt, and
ordered me to mount at once and follow the Sappers and keep them in
sight till he could come up with some of the Carabineers and guns. By
this time the Sappers, who, I firmly believe, had at first no intention
whatever of mutinying, but had been seized by sudden panic through
groundless fear of an attack by the European troops, were swarming in
flight over the plain, some in uniform, some in native clothes, but all
armed with their muskets.

The shot which I had heard had been fired, as I subsequently learnt,
by an Afghan, and had killed the Commanding Officer, Major Fraser. The
action of this one man compromised all his comrades. However loyally
disposed they might have been, they must have felt that now appearances
were so fatally against them that no quarter could be hoped for from
the enraged European troops who surrounded them; and that instant
flight offered the only slender chance of escape from destruction.

As my little party galloped after them I was stopped by an artillery
officer, evidently senior in rank to myself, who ordered me to halt and
asked me where I was going. I told him that the Brigadier-General had
ordered me to follow the Sappers who had mutinied and killed Alfred
Light. "That is hardly possible," he said, "seeing that I am Alfred
Light. These Sappers are not mutinying at all, but are going with
permission to destroy a neighbouring village of budmashes. You stop
where you are. I will take the responsibility." Taken quite aback by
all this, I was still remonstrating with him when the Brigadier-General
rode up, furious with me for having halted, and ordered me on again.
I was glad to leave Alfred Light to settle the question of my delay
with him, and dashed on in pursuit. Soon we overtook about fifty men,
who took refuge in a grove of trees surrounded by a wall; and there
I kept guard over them till the arrival of the Brigadier-General with
a squadron of Carabineers and some guns. A few rounds were fired into
the grove, but without much effect, and then dismounted Carabineers
and a number of officers skirmished into it, and pursued the Sappers
from tree to tree. The poor fellows fought with the energy of despair.
No quarter was given, and all were destroyed, except two who were made
prisoners by myself, and who, I believe, were afterwards retained in
the service, and proved perfectly loyal.

At the close of this affair I noticed a man who had retreated through
the grove and had taken refuge behind a low wall on its further side,
from which shelter he betrayed himself by firing at us.

As I rode round the outside of the enclosure on its left and got in
line with him, a Trooper of the Carabineers appeared at the opposite
end of the wall, and we both came down on him at full gallop. The
Sapper jumped to his feet and fixed his bayonet. We reached him almost
at the same moment. As the Trooper lifted his sword to deliver a
swinging cut the Sapper charged him with his bayonet and transfixed him
through the breast, with a sickening ripping sound which still haunts
my ears, while my straining sword arm failed by an inch to reach and
lift the bayonet. Before he could withdraw the bayonet I had run him
through the body. The uplifted arm of the Carabineer dropped, the sword
slipped from his grasp, he reeled for a moment on his saddle, and then
fell to the ground dead.

A correspondent wrote to the _Pioneer_:--"The Carabineer who was killed
just outside Meerut in the Sapper Affair was a Trooper, named Frederick
Kingsford, who rode an untrained horse, which became unsteady at the
time of charging the rebel. He was the first man killed in action in
the Mutiny, although many Europeans had fallen before that day."

It was late in the evening when we returned to cantonments. The
destination of my small party, which was to have started next morning
into the district, was unexpectedly changed.

A message had been received by General Hewett from a party of fugitives
from Delhi, who were wandering about in the jungles near that place,
and who implored that help should be sent to them. When I heard of this
I felt that women and children could not possibly be left to their
fate among the rebels without at least an effort being made to save
them; so I went to General Hewett and offered to attempt the rescue
with twenty-five men of the remnant of my regiment. He asked if I was
in earnest, and told me that the fugitives had not got far from Delhi,
and that he had considered it hopeless to send a succouring party.
The letter, which was written in the French language, had been thrown
under a table, whence I saw it picked up. The General then gave me
permission, and on the forenoon of the 17th my party started. On our
way out of Meerut we met Lieutenant Hugh Gough of our regiment (now
Sir H. Gough, _V.C._, _K.C.B._, commanding the Lahore Division). He
told me that he had just heard of my having volunteered for this duty,
and that he could not let me go alone. So he galloped back to get his
arms, and thus, in this most gallant and self-sacrificing manner, came
with me on an errand which both of us felt pretty sure was to be our
last. We rode all day, expecting every moment our men to turn on us
and bolt to Delhi. The temptation must have been very sore to them;
for they had witnessed the extreme demoralisation which the Mutiny had
caused in Meerut; but providentially they remained staunch. Only once
did we meet with a show of opposition at a large village, but most
fortunately we thought it probable that the inhabitants were alarmed at
our French-grey uniforms, and took us for a party of mutineers on the
prowl. So Gough and I halted the men and rode on alone. The sight of
our white faces re-assured the villagers, and our explanations calmed
them.

Late in the evening we arrived at the village of Hirchinpore, where we
had ascertained from people in the fields that the fugitives were to
be found. Again our light-grey uniforms caused alarm and confusion.
The gate of a walled enclosure was shut in our faces, and it was with
great difficulty that we got those inside to believe that we were
friends. At last, on our promising to leave the men outside, Gough and
I were admitted; and we rode in, not without suspicion that we might
ourselves have fallen into a trap. We found a very dark old gentleman
called Cohen, the zemindar of the village, an Orientalised Jew I think,
seated in the doorway with a gun in his hand, evidently determined
in case of treachery to sell his life dearly. The fugitives of whom
we were in search had in despair stowed themselves away in various
hiding places, and when they appeared presented a pitiable spectacle
from the effects of the hardships they had undergone. All that night
we had to remain there while Cohen's people collected carts to convey
the women and children. If one of our men or one of the villagers had
bolted and carried to Delhi the news of what a haul could be made at
Hirchinpore, two or three hours would have sealed our fate. But again
Providence befriended us, and early next morning our little caravan
started for Meerut, where we safely arrived that night, and I had the
joy of once more seeing my Sister, of whom I could not bear to take
leave when I started, and who had been in ignorance of my having gone
till I was miles on my way. The following are the names of the ladies
and gentlemen who composed the party of fugitives:--

  1. Colonel Knyvett, 38th Regiment, N. I.
  2. Lieutenant Salkeld, Bengal Engineers. (Died of
        wounds received at the assault of Delhi).
  3. Lieutenant Wilson, Bengal Artillery.
  4.     "      Montague M. Proctor, 38th N. I.
  5.     "      H. Gambier, 38th N. I. (Died of
        wounds received at the assault of Delhi).
  6. Captain G. Forrest, _V.C._ (Died from the effects
        of injuries received in the defence of the Delhi
        Magazine on 11th May, 1857).
  7. Lieutenant Vibart, 54th N. I.
  8. Mrs. Forrest.
  9. Mrs. Fraser, widow of Major Fraser, who had been
        killed at Meerut by the mutineer sappers.
  10. Miss Forrest.
  11.   "  Annie Forrest.
  12.   "  Eliza Forrest.
  13. Mr. Marshall (merchant).
  14 & 15. Two European women whose names I do
        not know.

Very glad was I to turn in that might with the prospect of a good rest,
but I had not been asleep very long before the late Major Sanford, then
a Lieutenant in my old regiment, and one of the most gallant gentlemen
that ever buckled on a sword-belt, came and woke me up and told me
that he had volunteered to carry despatches from General Hewett to
the Commander-in-Chief at Umballa _viâ_ Kurnal, and that he wanted me
to escort him with my little faithful party. Of course I agreed, and
went off to our lines, where the already tired men willingly consented
to undertake the fresh and still more fatiguing and possibly more
dangerous journey. Their horses were, however, quite knocked up, so I
asked and obtained permission to select for them twenty-five of the
partially-broken remounts of the Carabineers.

Early in the morning we paraded in the lightest of light marching
order, the young horses vigorously resenting being so unceremoniously
pressed into the ranks before passing through Riding School. For the
first few miles there was not much order in our little column. The
half-broken troopers rearing, buck-jumping and plunging about, had it
pretty much their own way; but before night they were quiet enough. All
day we marched, and all night, and all next day, halting for an hour or
so at a time, when a wayside well enabled us to water the horses. We
requisitioned feeds of grain for them and of chuppatis for ourselves
as we went along, duly giving receipts for them. _En route_ we made a
long detour off the road to a district where we had been ordered to
go in search of baggage-camels, which we were to have seized if we
had found them; but they had departed. On the second day we met the
late gallant Major (then Lieutenant) Hodson who, escorted by a party
of the Jhind Horse, had started on his ride to Meerut with despatches
from General Anson to General Hewett, and who was to return with
despatches from the latter to Army Head-Quarters. So unexpected was
this meeting that at first each party took the other for "moofsids," as
we used in those days to designate the rebels; but we soon discovered
our mistake. Hodson was naturally much relieved to find that the road
in front of him was open, though doubtless disappointed that his
errand was forestalled. The reader, who has read of Hodson's famous
ride to Meerut, and who has not to this moment ever heard that it was
anticipated by others, will probably be surprised by this narration,
but nevertheless it is simply true. The credit of carrying the first
despatches from Meerut to Umballa is due to the late Major Sanford,
who, to me and to all who knew him, was a type of all that is most
noble and brave and modest; but alas! his memory is buried in our
hearts. The world has heard little of him.

In the evening we arrived at Kurnal, having traversed in less than
thirty-six hours more than ninety miles: for the straight road between
Meerut and Kurnal is seventy-six, and our fruitless detour after the
camels took us many more miles. Sanford at once went on by dâk to
Umballa and delivered his despatches to General Anson. He eventually
got command of the cavalry of the guide corps before Delhi, and
retained it till the close of the siege.

My small party was not then sent back to Meerut, but moved down towards
Delhi with the advanced body of troops, making itself useful in
collecting supplies and scouting. On the road we succeeded in capturing
several miscreants who had committed murderous outrages on our
unfortunate countrymen and women while trying to effect their escape
from Delhi. They were given the benefit of a fair trial; and those who
were found guilty were duly hanged. One of these wretches who had
been tried and sentenced one afternoon was subsequently confined till
sunset--the usual hour for executions--in the guard tent of the 1st
Bengal Fusiliers, which happened on that occasion to contain another
tenant, an Irish soldier who had been drinking, "not wisely but too
well." When the Provost Marshal's party came in the evening for the
condemned criminal they found him in a sorry plight. The half-sober
Irishman begged that they would not take him away. "Bedad," said he,
"he has been the most divarting companion I iver had." The "divarsion"
had been perhaps a little one-sided.

One evening, shortly before the force reached Alipore, I was suddenly
ordered to take my party back to Meerut _viâ_ Bagput, for the General
expected an engagement, and evidently felt uncertain as to whether my
men were to be trusted under such trying circumstances as an actual
fight against their old comrades. Previously to this poor General
Anson had died, worn out by anxiety and fatigue, and General Barnard
was in command. Accompanied by the Adjutant-General, Colonel Chester,
and by his Interpreter, Captain Howell, he inspected my little party on
parade, and after praising its conduct in the highest terms, informed
us that he would give each native member of it a step of substantive
rank for each of the two expeditions in which they had shared. He then
told them that in a short time he expected to engage the rebels, and
that, though he had no doubt of their loyalty, he was unwilling to take
them into action against men who so lately had been their comrades,
of their own race and religions, and that therefore he had decided to
send them back to Meerut. The whole of them implored to be allowed to
remain and to prove their loyalty in the field; but the General was not
to be turned from his decision. He was evidently much moved, and for a
moment I hoped that he was wavering; but presently he turned away; and
with deep disappointment I felt that there was nothing for it but to
turn our horses' heads to the east and make for the ferry at Bagput.
Before General Barnard could carry out his promise he fell a victim to
cholera. Colonel Chester was killed in action, and Captain Howell also
died--I think from that scourge of the camp--cholera. Thus was left on
my shoulders the whole _onus_ of securing to my men the fulfilment of
the General's promise--a task in which, after much trouble and delay,
I was happily eventually successful.

To march off the ground and out of camp no preparations were needed,
for we were without camp equipage of any kind whatever. It must be
remembered that all this took place in the middle of the hot weather,
before the rains; so that it was no hardship to sleep in the open air
on the ground beside our horses, who also required no blankets. Except
our horses, their saddles and bridles and our arms, and the clothes on
our backs, we possessed literally nothing in the world.

It was not long, therefore, before we had put a good distance between
ourselves and our late comrades. When dawn broke we found ourselves
debouching from a grove of trees on to a plain, at the further side of
which was the river and the bridge-of-boats with the village of Bagput
on the opposite bank; but to our horror the bridge was occupied by a
strong body of apparently rebel troops, whom our appearance threw into
sudden commotion. We could see infantry rapidly falling in, troopers
mounting in hot haste, and camels and elephants rushing to the bridge,
flying from our expected onslaught. Scant time was there to decide on
a course of action. With our tired horses escape from so strong a body
of cavalry was hopeless. Nothing was left but to charge the bridge and
trust to luck and the rapidity of our attack to disconcert the enemy,
and enable some at least of us to get through with whole skins. These
were the days of drilling by "threes;" but as I judged that there would
be room for four men abreast on the bridge, I formed my party as
quickly as possible into what would now be called a column of sections
of fours, and moved down the slope on to the plain at a gallop,
increasing our pace as we approached the bridge. To my delight and
surprise the enemy seemed quite demoralised and in confusion, and I was
beginning to feel sure of a successful rush through them, when I was
startled by the apparition of a white face peering at me from behind
a mass of stones, and the shout of an English voice yelling at me to
halt. Never was man more relieved and pleased to be out of a frightful
scrape. In another second I had halted my party and had ridden across
the bridge and was talking to ----, an officer who informed me that
he had been sent with a strong body of the Raja of Jhind's troops to
occupy the bridge and hold it till further orders; but he said that
he was not going to stay any longer. The place was a great deal too
near Delhi and too liable to sudden attack to please him, and the
fright he had got from the sudden appearance of my small party had put
the finishing touch to his resolution. He said that our French-grey
uniforms and the swiftness of our attack had convinced him that we
were the advanced party of a large body of the enemy, and he had given
himself up for lost. At any rate he had had enough of Bagput and meant
to be off at once. In vain I implored him to defer his departure till
the evening, pointing out that my horses were quite done up, and that
we would be obliged to stop there for some hours to rest and feed.
Nothing would move him, and there and then he marched off, bag and
baggage, and left us to our own devices. We could plainly hear the guns
of a fight, which must have been that at the Hindun Nuddee; and, tired
as we were, rest was impossible. In the afternoon we moved on, and next
morning marched into Meerut without further misadventure.



III.
BEFORE DELHI.


For the next few weeks time passed quietly enough with me. The greater
portion of the garrison of Meerut had gone to strengthen the besieging
force at Delhi; and had, under Brigadier-General Archdale Wilson, at
the hard fought battles at the Hindun Nuddee, gloriously wiped away the
reproach of the supine inaction which had been imposed on it by General
Hewett on the 10th of May. We, who were left to kick our heels in
idleness at Meerut, spent most of our time in moving Heaven and Earth
to get transferred to the army at Delhi. At last the red-letter-day
came for me. My friend and comrade, Captain Sanford, had been appointed
to officiate in the command of the Cavalry of the Guides Corps, and he
lost no time in writing to me and promising that if I could get over
to Delhi, he would manage to have me attached to the regiment. At that
moment I was laid up with a touch of fever, due probably to previous
exposure; but I was not long in presenting myself to the Staff Officer
of the garrison and shewing him Sanford's letter, taking very good
care not to remind him that I was on the sick list--a circumstance
which he fortunately overlooked. That afternoon I joyfully took French
leave of the Doctor, and started in company with some half-dozen other
officers, who were also bound for the Delhi force, back again along the
well-remembered track to Bagput. We marched at night, thinking that
we were then, more likely than in the day time, to escape encounter
with any prowling bands of rebels or Goojars. The district between
Meerut and Bagput was infested by the latter, a tribe of hereditary
criminals whose chief amusement during peaceful times seems to consist
in effecting breaches of the Penal Code, while they invariably take
advantage of periods of disturbance to indulge to the utmost their
ingrained predatory propensities. Small as our party was, we were
therefore careful to adopt all practical precautions. As I knew the
road I was sent in advance as a scout, while on each flank rode another
officer, the main body of three or four men detaching one more to the
rear. In this order we rode all night, fortunately without adventure;
and in the gray dawn we reached Bagput.

The bridge-of-boats had been removed, and we crossed the river in a
large flat-bottomed ferry boat. Here we had the misfortune to lose one
of our horses, belonging to Captain Craigie of my regiment. His owner
had neglected to unfasten the rather tight standing-martingale which
he always used; and this hampered the animal when it tried to jump
into the boat, and caused it to fall into the deep water between it
and the bank. Even now all would have been well but for that unlucky
standing-martingale which entirely prevented the struggling horse from
swimming, and held its nose hopelessly underwater till it was drowned,
without any possibility of help being given it. In a few moments the
poor horse sank, carrying with it Craigie's saddle and bridle and a
revolver which was in one of the holsters. The efforts which some
native divers made to recover the saddle, &c., were fruitless; and we
had to abandon the endeavour, borrow a "country" nag for Craigie, and
cross the river. When we reached the opposite bank we heard shouts
from the Bagput side, and saw men holding up the saddle and revolver
which they had succeeded in fishing up. That was, however, the last
that Craigie saw of his property. As we crossed the stretch of sand on
the further bank we narrowly escaped another casualty; for one of our
party got into a quicksand, and for some moments horse and man were
in serious danger of being swallowed up. At last, however, we all got
safely under way and continued the second half of our journey.

Never shall I forget the moment when, from a rising ground, the
frowning walls of Delhi and the white tents of the besieging force
burst into view.

So vast an extent of ground was covered by the huge city--so puny and
diminutive in comparison was the encampment which nestled under the
famous "Ridge!" Truly a sight to fill the heart with exulting pride;
for we knew that the men in these tent were sure, some day before many
weeks were over, to storm the formidable walls of the great fortress,
and to carry the British flag in triumph into its innermost citadel. No
shadow of doubt of the ultimate success of our arms ever troubled any
of our minds in those days. The insolent belief in the irresistibility
of the _furor Britannicus_ had not then met any of the rude shocks
which in latter days have somewhat shaken it, in spite of an army
composed of short-service soldiers and of leaders trained to a pitch of
theoretical perfection by the Professors of the Staff College.

Directly we arrived in camp I reported myself to Sir Henry Norman,
then Assistant Adjutant-General of the Force, and, I think, in rank a
captain. In a few hours I was put in orders as attached to the Cavalry
of the Guides. The famous forced march of that splendid corps under
Daly from Hoti Murdan to Delhi is matter of history, and can never be
forgotten. The honourable roll of its losses in officers and men during
the siege is recorded on a tablet on the wall of the memorial tower on
the Ridge.

I do not propose to inflict on the reader's patience the often-told
story of the siege. That task has been performed by far abler pens than
mine. It will be sufficient for me to endeavour to sketch two or three
of the minor episodes at which I was present, and which seemed to me to
be picturesque or interesting.

As may be easily understood, much of our time in the Cavalry branch was
occupied on picquet or outpost duty. One of these outposts, at a place
called, I think, Azadpore, far away on the extreme right rear of our
position, was peculiarly liable to attack, as it was pretty well "in
the air," and offered a tempting object for a sudden swoop by a large
body of the enemy. One afternoon when my commanding officer, Captain
Sanford, and myself, being off duty, were mounting to enjoy a quiet
ride, we became aware of a great commotion in the Azadpore direction.
Clouds of dust rapidly whirling in the air! Camels and grass-cutters'
ponies flying wildly to the camp! Evidently something wrong! "Gallop
to the lines. Sound the Boot-and-Saddle and the Mount" was the order
Captain Sanford gave me, while he tore off into the clouds of dust to
reconnoitre. Instantly was the quiet of our camp changed into a scene
of the liveliest bustle. Horses being saddled--men tumbling out of
their tents--buckling on their belts--jumping on their horses, and
"falling in"--all this in frantic haste--when Sanford returned and
shouted to me "Bring along as many men as have mounted. Never mind
telling off. The Azadpore picquet is being driven in." By this time not
more than 20 or 25 men were in their saddles, and away we went after
Sanford as hard as we could tear, leaving the rest of the regiment
to follow as soon as it could be got together. Through the flying
animals and camp followers, many of them wounded, we galloped along,
straining our eyes into the distance; and presently we saw the picquet,
surrounded by clouds of the rebel horse, being driven slowly back,
stubbornly fighting and disputing every inch of ground. As we hove
into sight the enemy more or less disengaged itself from the picquet,
and attempted to throw itself into formation to meet our attack. There
must have been several hundred of them. The whole ground in front
seemed thick with them; and I must confess my heart sank within me
when the gallant Sanford, instead of waiting for the reinforcements
which must have been close behind us, simply increased the pace, and
evidently meant to hurl our small party straight into the overwhelming
mass before us. "It is all up with you this time" was my ejaculation
to myself, but "needs must" when--one's commanding officer leads! So
I set my teeth and determined to make the best of a bad job. Could I
believe my eyes? The dense body that had begun to advance against us
slowed down to a walk--halted--wavered--and finally scattered! With a
roar we charged into them. Our pace was so great that it was impossible
for them to put on the steam in time to escape our onslaught. The
picquet joined in--our own reinforcements caught us up--and then was
seen on that plain as pretty a bout of sword play as ever rejoiced
the heart of a horseman. No attempt at keeping order was possible. As
the "Pandies" scattered, so did we, each man singling out his victim.
The slaughter of the enemy was considerable, the losses on our side
extremely trifling. As the fierce pursuit rolled on we became aware
that the masses of the flying mutineers were thickening in our front,
and were gradually concentrating towards one point. Evidently some
obstruction prevented their escape to the flanks. At last a huge living
wedge of frantic, struggling, panic-stricken men and horses was crowded
together, hemmed in between a deep canal and a masonry aqueduct which
crossed it at right angles. Into this solid mass it was impossible to
penetrate, but the outer fringe of it was mowed down by the _tulwars_
of our men. No quarter was ever given or taken before Delhi. If the
mutineers had been cruel as the most savage of wild beasts, fearful
was the revenge which many and many a time was wreaked on them by our
maddened troops.

Where the aqueduct crossed the canal it had been partially destroyed,
and on the masses of fallen masonry it was just possible for one
horseman at a time to pick his way across; but where one escaped
many were overthrown and trampled on by the struggling mob. It had
been comparatively easy for the enemy, intent on the surprise of the
Azadpore picquet, to steal across in single file; but it was quite a
different thing for a confused and terrified crowd to force its way
across. At this point great slaughter took place, and many, in despair,
turned round and charged their pursuers, only to meet a certain and
speedy death. One poor wretch, extricating himself from the crowd,
jumped his horse on to a detached fragment of the broken aqueduct on
the plain before it joined the canal, and there he stood, as on a
pedestal six or eight feet high, in vain seeking a short respite from
his inevitable fate. Almost simultaneously one of our men sprung his
horse alongside of him, and on that precarious platform, with barely
footing for their horses, these two engaged in a savage fight for
life. Like lightning their swords flashed as they cut at each other
without any attempt at parrying. In a second or two our man received a
frightful slash on his arm, and it would have gone hard with him if at
that moment one of his comrades who was armed with a long spear had not
charged straight at the group, and, as he pulled his horse up on its
haunches at the base of the masonry, transfixed the Pandy through the
body. At the same instant our man, maddened with pain and excitement,
drove his horse against his antagonist and thrust him clean off the
block of masonry, horses and men all rolling together on the ground
below.

The survivors of the adventurous spirits who had attacked the outpost
rode back into Delhi that night considerably crestfallen.

The picquet had been furnished by one of the Punjab cavalry regiments,
and was commanded by a gentleman of a rather taciturn habit who is
still well remembered under his nickname of "Fowls." Never shall I
forget the quaint but gallant spectacle which he presented, as with
his faithful quizzing glass firmly glued on to one eye he faced his
enemies and laid about him with his sword, grimly silent, while being
slowly driven back by the _force majeure_ of overwhelming numbers.
The story goes that he earned his _petit nom_ as follows:--On some
occasion, on the line of march, he had, for days and weeks, ridden
solemnly and silently among his comrades. Not a word had ever escaped
his lips till, on one memorable morning, as his detachment entered
a village, our friend, who must have been gloomily pondering on the
scantiness of the supplies in the camp larder of the mess, espied a
family of _moorgis_ busily scratching up the dust on the road before
him. The welcome sight was too much for him. Then and there he lifted
up his voice and cried "Fowls!" and straightway relapsed into pristine
dumbness. Seldom if ever has so short a speech been greeted with such
loud applause. His delighted comrades, now that the spell was broken,
naturally hoped that the sudden ejaculation was but a preliminary to a
permanent loosening of the hitherto tied tongue; but they were doomed
to disappointment. From that time forth not a word escaped those lips.
Neither fowls nor ducks nor geese nor turkeys, nor even sheep availed
any more to draw forth the slightest oral token of appreciation--merely
would the half sleepy eyes glisten into life at the sight of the
welcome "find," and possibly a nod of the head would direct attention
to it. Thus came it about that the soubriquet of "Fowls" was by
unanimous vote conferred on its possessor.

That evening when we were all assembled at dinner in the mess tent, an
unfortunate "Pandy" who had been found skulking under a bush by some
of our men was brought before the commanding officer. There was no
mistaking him for anything but a sepoy; and there could be no doubt
about his fate. Still I could not help thinking his luck was very hard;
and doubtless my face betrayed my feelings; for the unfortunate man,
with an appealing look at me, declared he was no sepoy, but had been
my domestic servant; and he implored me to bear witness to his truth
and save his life. What could I do! It was impossible to swear to a
falsehood; but I pleaded hard, though, I fear, unsuccessfully, that he
might be allowed to escape.

During one of the numerous encounters with the enemy which kept the
camp before Delhi lively, an officer serving with the infantry of the
Guides Corps was wounded in a manner sufficiently curious to deserve
record. During a pause in the operations he was standing with his back
to a tree when a bullet struck the ground close to him, and caused a
fragment of stone to fly up against his forehead, on which it inflicted
a slight flesh wound. As he threw his head back at the sudden shock, it
came in contact with a sharp splinter of a broken branch sticking out
from the tree. Instinctively he put his right hand up to his forehead.
It was covered with blood. Then he felt the back of his head with his
left hand. That also was all bloody. "My God!" He exclaimed, "I'm a
dead man! Shot right through the head!" and he sought a soft place to
lie down on and die, an event which he expected to take place in a
second or two. To his surprise, after fully a minute, he was as alive
as ever. So, again, he felt the two wounds. There was no mistake about
it. They were both bleeding freely. Once more he curled himself up;
but as death did not come, he presently began to think that there must
be something strange and abnormal about the hole right through his
head, and his relief may be imagined, when a brother officer, after a
hurried examination of it, explained matters to him. I am afraid he was
flippant enough, as he jumped to his feet, to join in the laugh against
himself. Wonderful recoveries from apparently mortal wounds were by no
means uncommon. I have myself seen an officer hit full in the chest by
a bullet which came out at his back. I jumped off my horse and wrung
his hand for the last farewell, and rode on (for this occurred during
a pursuit), leaving him to the care of the surgeon who at that moment
came up. What was my surprise to find, many hours afterwards when we
returned to camp, that the wounded officer was not only not dead, but
not likely to die. The bullet had glanced off a rib and gone round
his chest under the skin, and so out of his back. Another officer had
his jaw smashed by a bullet which did not apparently make its exit
anywhere. The simple fact was that he swallowed it, along with some of
his teeth.

On the Ridge stood a lofty building, the Observatory Tower, from the
summit of which, during the early part of the siege, a look-out used to
be kept on the operations of the enemy.

This fact becoming known, drew on the tower an altogether undesirable
share of attention from the guns on the walls of Delhi; and the upper
parts of it soon got considerably knocked about by shot and shell. Long
after this look-out post had been withdrawn occasional shells used
still to be "loosed off" at the tower, making things rather hot for
the small knot of officers off duty which used generally to be found up
there enjoying the view when anything more interesting than usual was
going on in front. On one occasion two or three other men and myself
had found our way to the top of it, when we were joined by a gentleman
connected with a mercantile firm, to whose enterprise the camp was
indebted for its supplies of "tar bund" beer (a luxury for which we
were glad to pay sixteen rupees a dozen), Exshaw's brandy and Harvey's
sauce, and many varieties of tinned provisions, besides Holloway's
pills and ointment, and such like patent nostrums. While we were all
looking at the walls of the city, a puff of white smoke was seen to
issue from a point known to us as "the hole in the wall" where dwelt
a mortar of large calibre. In a few seconds the big shell vomited out
from it burst high in the air, fully a quarter of a mile away from us,
but in a very accurate alignment for our position. "Down," shouted one
of our number, and we all, with the exception of our civilian friend,
crouched behind a heavy mass of solid masonry. He, however, stood his
ground, folded his arms across his chest, and for a moment surveyed
us with a look of half contemptuous surprise. "Why have these stupid
fellows sought shelter?" thought he. "The shell has burst ever so far
away. The danger is all over now. The pieces must be falling to the
ground." Very speedily was he undeceived. Hurtling and hissing, the
broken fragments of the shell came rushing onwards and crashed against
the tower, fortunately without hitting him. As we stood up he threw
himself down. He then learned a lesson, which I dare say he did not
soon forget, concerning the momentum of projectiles, and the general
advisability of taking a hint from persons presumably likely to know
what they were about.

All this time the siege, if so it could be described, "dragged its slow
length along;" but in reality, neither was the City invested by us,
nor was our force besieged, as has been so often asserted, by the rebel
troops. Both forces lay facing each other. Both were in contact along a
comparatively short front. Both were entirely open to their respective
rear, with practically unmenaced communications in those directions.
Neither could prevent reinforcements or supplies reaching the other. We
on our part could not even attempt to intercept the various contingents
of mutineers which, during the early part of the siege, poured into
Delhi from the south; and were hurled, in almost monotonous succession,
against our position, while still fresh and undemoralised by defeat,
only to be driven back, time after time, with immense slaughter, by
the invincible little phalanx of Britons, Sikhs and Gurkhas, which
sturdily clung, bull-dog fashion, to the ground it had taken up. For
a time the numbers of the enemy continued to increase, as almost
daily fresh bodies by regiments and brigades marched into the already
crowded city, their arrival noisily saluted by heavy artillery. Our
muster roll, on the other hand, far from augmenting, actually dwindled
away; for incessant losses from casualties in action were heavily
supplemented by deaths from fever and cholera; and our much-needed
reinforcements were long in coming. But we rested secure in the firm
assurance that sooner or later they would certainly come. We all knew
that John Lawrence and his lieutenants were straining every nerve
to secure the safety of the Punjab in our rear, by disarming the
disaffected Hindustani regiments in that province, and by raising fresh
ones, both of cavalry and infantry, from the staunch fighting men of
the Khalsa. We knew that as swiftly as could possibly be compassed by
human forethought and human energy, these trustworthy and brave levies,
and every British regiment that could be spared, and every heavy gun
and mortar in the Ferozepore Arsenal, and, almost better than all, the
heroic Nicholson would come to our aid; and that then the real siege
would begin in earnest, and the fate of Delhi would be sealed.

Early in August took place the only serious effort on the part of the
enemy to cut off our communications. To quote from a letter written
by General Wilson to Nicholson and received by the latter on the
3rd of August[3]:--"The enemy have re-established the bridge over
the Najufgurh Canal (which we had destroyed) and have established
themselves in force there, with the intention of moving on Alipore and
our communications with the rear. I therefore earnestly beg you to
push forward with the utmost expedition in your power, both to drive
these fellows from my rear, and to aid me in holding my position."
How promptly and effectually Nicholson carried out these instructions
is graphically described in the pages of Sir John Kaye's work. On the
14th of August he led into the Delhi Camp the moveable column which had
already done yeoman's service by disarming the mutinous regiments at
Phillour and Umritsar, and destroying the Sealkote Brigade of rebels at
Trimmoo Ghât. On the 25th of August he marched out again at the head
of a small force of all arms; and before nightfall he had swept from
Najufgurh the "Neemuch Brigade" which was lying in wait to intercept
the siege train on its slow approach from Ferozepore Arsenal.

There are some men whose personal appearance harmonises so perfectly
with their intellectual and moral characteristics that any one on
seeing them for the first time would be almost certain intuitively
to guess their identity. Nicholson was one of these. Tall, dark, and
stern, he looked every inch what he was, a fearless, self-reliant,
fierce and masterful man, born for stormy times and stirring events. It
was impossible to associate him with anything commonplace, or otherwise
than heroic or great. On me, as on every one else, he produced a vivid
impression, which can never become dim. When I first saw him it was
only for a moment. He said something in low tones to an acquaintance,
and passed on; but instinctively I felt that I had come into contact
with one who stood apart from and overtopped other men. "That is
Nicholson," I said, knowing that it could be no one else.

On the 4th of September the huge guns and mortars of the siege train,
fitly drawn by still more colossal elephants, slowly and solemnly
rolled through the camp on to the Ridge. On the 6th the very last
batch of reinforcements, a detachment of the 60th Rifles from Meerut,
arrived, marching "in their usual jaunty way" as described by Hervey
Greathead in a letter to his wife written on that day. The Royal
Engineers had already filled a vast "Engineers' park" with fascines,
gabions, sand bags, and every conceivable appliance for the bombardment
and storm. Nothing had been overlooked. Nothing remained but to begin
the real and final siege and deliver the assault.

That no time was lost is evidenced by the fact that one breaching
battery of six heavy guns, within seven hundred yards of the Moree
Bastion, was finished and armed on the evening of the 6th, and began
its work of destruction on the 7th.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] _Kaye's Sepoy War_, Vol. II, p. 645.



IV.
STORMING THE CITY.


From that time till the morning of the 11th, when the last of the four
batteries was completed, our gallant Engineers and working parties and
Gunners worked as men have never worked before or since. All night
long picks and spades and shovels were busily plied, under a heavy
fire, in constructing the batteries; on which, so soon as finished,
the heavy guns and mortars were mounted; and as successively they were
placed in position they joined in swelling the furious storm of shot
and shell which never ceased tearing down the masonry of the city
defences till the moment of the assault in the grey dawn of the 14th.
The last battery was built under the shelter of the ruined walls of the
Custom-house, at a distance of 180 yards from the water bastion, under
a terrific and incessant fire from the Kashmir and Water bastions
and the curtain between them, Let the reader try to realise this; and
he will admit that no more desperate or daring enterprise was ever
achieved in front of a besieged fortress.

On the 13th it was my hard fate to be on outpost duty at Azadpore,
where rumours reached me that the assault was likely to be delivered
before dawn on the 14th. My picquet should in ordinary course have
been relieved that morning, but no relief came; and as the day wore
on, it seemed that I was destined to be left out there kicking my
heels, forlorn and forgotten, till all should be over. This was more
than could be borne; so I despatched messenger after messenger into
camp with imploring letters, begging for the recall of my picquet.
My entreaties were successful, and I had the intense, if selfish,
gratification of at length seeing in the distance the small column
of dust which heralded the approach of the party that had been sent
to take my place. Very grumpy and sulky was the officer in command;
but, after all, it was his turn for the duty. Every one must take
his luck as it comes. Consoling him with this crusted old apothegm, I
lost no time in clearing out of the post and taking my detachment back
to camp; but even then I was destined to grievous disappointment. The
troops intended to form the Cavalry Brigade under Sir Hope Grant had
been told off, and my party had to content itself with forming part
of the reserve which remained in camp. So I lost the chance of being
one of the glorious six hundred, whose heroic endurance that day under
a fierce hurricane of grape and musketry "prevented the enemy, who
had driven back the 4th Column, from advancing along the open ground
between the Ridge and the City, and taking the whole of our left attack
in flank."[4] When the attempt of the column under the gallant Colonel
Reid to force an entrance into the City by the Lahore Gate failed,
partly owing to the want of artillery, and partly to the defeat of the
auxiliary Kashmir contingent, the whole brunt of keeping the victorious
rebels, many thousands in numbers, from pouring out of Kissengunge and
pursuing our retreating infantry, fell on the Cavalry Brigade. Before,
however, the enemy could dare to trust themselves on the plain beyond
the shelter of their walls, it was necessary to drive the horsemen
from it; and fierce was the effort to do so. From the walls of the
City, from the suburbs of Kissengunge, a fiery hail of lead unceasingly
swept. Saddle after saddle was emptied; horse after horse fell, but not
for a moment was there the slightest wavering or unsteadiness. Quietly
and without confusion the ranks continued to close together and fill
ever-recurring gaps, grimly determined to hold their ground to the last
man. Utterly unable to return the fire, or to do anything but remain
immoveable as passive living targets, they seemed doomed to eventual
annihilation--when Tomb's famous troop of horse artillery galloped to
the rescue. Taking up a position at the closest of close quarters, not
more than two hundred yards from the enemy, it was not long after our
guns came into action that they drove the hitherto triumphant rebels
back from the external walls into the labyrinth of houses in their
rear, and materially reduced their fire. But from the Lahore Gate an
unsilenced 24-pounder still continued to pour grape into the ranks, and
to tear many a ghastly gap in them. Not till the rebel fire, drawn off
by the success of our attack on the Kashmiri Gate, had dwindled away to
harmlessness, and all danger of a sortie was effectually extinguished,
was the sorely crippled Cavalry Brigade withdrawn from its post of
honour.

Though this deed of the six hundred before the walls of Delhi has not
been sung by the Poet Laureate, and is not so world-famous as that of
the other six hundred at Balaclava, it fully deserves to be bracketed
with it as an example of heroism and self-sacrificing devotion. Each is
a brilliant instance of the perfect union of discipline and courage.
If the charge of the Light Brigade was a blunder, so much the greater
is the glory of the brave men who rode to death without questioning
their orders.

  Theirs not to reason why,
  Theirs but to do and die.

There was no blunder in the order which devoted the six hundred of
the Delhi Cavalry to face a _feu d'enfer_ for the salvation of their
Infantry comrades. Every soldier who knows what it is to "sit still
to be shot at" will appreciate with pride the feat of arms performed
on that morning of the 14th September 1857 by the British and Native
Cavalry Brigade under the command of the fearless and gentle Sir Hope
Grant.

So vivid is the description of this episode in the glowing pages of
Sir John Kaye that I find it difficult to resist the temptation of
transcribing it; but most of my military readers are doubtless familiar
with it; and if any have not yet read his _History of the Sepoy War in
India_, I would recommend them to lose no time in studying that deeply
interesting work. It is an imperishable tribute to the glory of our
arms, and no one who reads its narrative of the brave deeds done by
Englishmen, civilians as well as soldiers, aided by Sikhs and Gurkhas
and the few other loyal races of India during that time of supreme
stress and trial, can help feeling his heart fill with honest and
patriotic pride, and with confident hope that if ever again so fierce
a struggle should be forced on ourselves or our descendants, the old
spirit of the Anglo-Saxon race will prove true to itself.

I will not attempt to describe the various fortunes of the four columns
of assault. That story has been told once for all by Sir John Kaye; and
it is not likely that any more full or clear or correct narrative will
ever be written.

Full of triumph as we who remained outside were at the knowledge that
the Kashmiri Gate and curtain had been successfully stormed, and that
our flag was flying on the ramparts which had so long defied us,
it was yet inexpressibly mournful to witness the long procession of
"doolies" bearing the dead and wounded which streamed slowly back into
camp. Many a gallant soldier that day gave his life for the honour of
his Queen and country; but the loss that overshadowed all others was
that of the valiant Nicholson, struck down with a mortal wound in the
hour of victory while nobly exposing himself to almost certain death
in the act of cheering forward his men, who were for a moment checked
by a torrent of lead that swept the narrow lane up which they were
advancing. His memory and his example will never be lost to the British
Army, long and brilliant as is the roll of its heroes.

The strength of the four columns of assault was 3,660 men; of the
Reserve column 1,500; or a total of 5,160. Opposed to us was a fortress
"seven miles in circumference, filled with an immense fanatical
Mussalman population, garrisoned by full 40,000 soldiers armed and
disciplined by ourselves, with 114 heavy pieces of artillery mounted
on the walls, with the largest magazine of shot, shell, and ammunition
in the Upper Provinces at their disposal, besides some 60 pieces of
field artillery, all of our own manufacture, and manned by artillerymen
drilled and taught by ourselves."[5]

The casualties on our side that morning were 1,145 killed and wounded.
The result of the day's fighting was that we had forced our way into a
small corner of the City, and there "hung on by our teeth." Slight and
precarious as was the grip which we had thus obtained on the throat of
the enemy, it yet proved sufficient for eventual success; but there
can be no dispute that for the next forty-eight hours the position was
critical. The great City with its intricate network of narrow lanes
crookedly piercing through masses of lofty brick-built houses--with its
strong places such as the Magazine, the King's Palace, Selimgurh, and
the Jumma Musjid--was yet unconquered and defiant; the roar of combat
continued without ceasing. The General, Sir Archdale Wilson, worn out
with illness and want of rest, and with the strain of long-continued
anxiety, seemed to those around him to be losing heart and to be half
inclined to abandon our dearly-earned footing within the walls, and
to withdraw the troops once more to the old position outside. Worse
than all, great stores of brandy and wine which had been cunningly
left by the rebels exposed to the sight of our soldiers, fell into
their hands, and the inevitable result followed. Numbers of our men
eagerly swallowed the fiery poison; and those who had hitherto proved
themselves heroes now wallowed in the gutters, helpless and imbecile.
Most providentially the enemy did not seize upon that moment for a
vigorous onslaught. If they had done so it would probably have been
successful, and the British Empire in India would have staggered under
a crushing and shameful blow from the worst and most persistent foe
of its army, strong drink. Vigorous measures were, however, promptly
taken. Working parties, strongly officered, were told off to destroy
the bottles and empty the casks; and very soon all danger from this
source was averted.

On the 16th an important step in advance was achieved. The magazine
was taken with trifling loss; and though the small arms portion of
it had suffered seriously from the gallant exploit of Willoughby,
who had blown it up on the 11th of May, great stores of artillery
munitions were found in it. Very promptly were mortars set in position
within it to shell the Palace, which was not more than a quarter of
a mile distant. Most interesting and beautiful was it to see the big
shells, propelled by a mere spoonful of powder, issuing from their
wide throats; and, after performing a slow and graceful curve, easily
followed by the naked eye, fall within the dull red walls of the
Palace. Then would be heard a deep roar and a crash as of falling
masonry, often followed by loud yells of hurt or dismay.

The next important forward move was accomplished on the night of the
18th and early morning of the 19th, when our troops, steadily working
their way from house to house and enclosure to enclosure, succeeded in
seizing the Lahore bastion. From this moment the game was all up for
the enemy. The old King and his people had cleared out of the Palace on
the 18th, doubtless finding the place inconveniently lively, and on the
19th a general exodus from the City must have been accomplished.

Early on the morning of the 20th my Commanding Officer, Captain
Sanford, was nowhere to be found. I was told that he had last been
seen riding, followed by a single orderly, in the direction of the
City. In a moment flashed on me, with the confidence of certainty,
the thought that he must have gone on a scouting expedition into the
City, to ascertain how far the enemy had evacuated it, and that he had
not taken me, usually his inseparable companion, because he did not
wish to expose me to the risks of a certainly hare-brained exploit.
No sooner had I formed this idea than I summoned my personal orderly
and went off in search of him. When we arrived at the City my surmise
was confirmed. Sanford and his orderly had been seen riding in to the
deserted streets beyond our sentries. So we followed his example, and,
keeping an uncommonly bright look-out, started on the route which he
was said to have taken. Truly the town was abandoned. Not a living
creature did we see; but we had not gone many hundred yards before we
met Sanford, briskly trotting back, his face radiant with joy. He had
penetrated right through the City to the Delhi and Turkman gates on
the south, and had chalked "Guide Cavalry" on them. With him I rode
to the quarters of Sir Archdale Wilson, to whom he reported the fact
that the whole place was evacuated by the enemy. Whether others had
anticipated Sanford I know not; but I do not think that whatever news
may have been brought in to our Intelligence Department by native
spies, any Englishman had, before him, with his own eyes, witnessed
the fact that Delhi was at last entirely in our power. At any rate his
daring exploit was performed exactly as I have related it. Not many
months subsequently he lost his life, as will be hereafter told, while
undertaking, single-handed, a not dissimilar reconnaisance.

During the day our troops entered into full possession of the City.
All the strong points, the Palace, Selimgurh, the Jumma Musjid, the
bastions and the gates were occupied by them; and the latest, and, let
us trust, the last, siege of Delhi came to an end.

All is well that ends well. It is always easy and not always
unprofitable after an event to speculate as to what might have been the
result if a different course of action had been adopted with the view
of bringing it about. It is well known that General Barnard, yielding
to the arguments of the ardent young officers of Royal Engineers,
Greathead, Chesney, and Maunsell, aided by Hodson, had sanctioned an
attempt to take Delhi by a _coup de main_ on the morning of the 12th
of June; and that if Brigadier Graves, the field officer of the day,
had understood, or, understanding, had obeyed his instructions to
reinforce the attacking column with the 1st Fusiliers, the assault
would actually have come off. It is also known that about three weeks
afterwards the General had again all but made up his mind to risk "the
gambler's throw," when he first hesitated, and then decided to delay
a little longer; that then he died of cholera; and that General Reed,
who succeeded him, was compelled by broken health, after a few days, to
resign the command into the hands of General Archdale Wilson; and that
the latter never for a moment dreamed of doing more than holding his
own position, far less of storming Delhi, till he had been reinforced
by every available soldier that could be sent to him from the Punjab,
and by the heavy guns and mortars of the siege train from Ferozepore.

It is certainly possible that if the intended assault had been
delivered on the 12th of June it would have been successful. For my
own part I have very little doubt on the subject. The battles of the
Hindun Nuddee and of Badle-ka-Serai had severely shaken the _morale_
of the enemy; and the very audacity of so daring and so prompt an
attack by the united forces from Umballa and Meerut, each of which had,
unsupported by the other, won so signal a victory, would have struck
terror into the rebels and probably insured their defeat. On the other
hand, the prospects of success three weeks later were not so hopeful.
In the interval our numbers had not augmented, while those of the enemy
had received considerable accessions. They had materially strengthened
their defences; and had probably regained confidence in themselves.

Granting, however, that we would have succeeded in storming the walls,
and even--far harder task--in driving the enemy out of the City with
our handful of troops, would our position then have been better and
stronger than the one we held on the Ridge? Would our two thousand
bayonets have been adequate to occupy a circle of walls seven miles in
length against an army of at least forty thousand men? For it may be
presumed that as brigade after brigade and contingent after contingent
mutinied they would have rolled together and attempted the recapture of
the seat of the Moghul Empire. On the other hand, would the early fall
of Delhi have prevented the further spread of revolt, and, if so, would
that have been an unmixed good; or was it better that the full measure
of the latent disaffection should be allowed to reveal itself and be
once for all effectually stamped out? Such are the problems which will
occur to a thoughtful mind and which cannot with certainty be solved.

The story of the capture of the old King and of the slaughter of the
Princes by Hodson is too well-known to need repetition.

During the next few weeks nothing more eventful occurred within the
walls of Delhi than the doings of the prize agents--from the point
of view, at any rate, of a needy subaltern who looked to them for
the replenishment of a purse which had been well nigh emptied by the
incendiary fires at Meerut.

The first column to be detached on external operations was the one
under Colonel Greathead of the 8th King's, which moved southwards
with the view of attacking and breaking up any retreating bodies
of the enemy which it might overtake; and which, early in October,
so opportunely effected the relief of Agra, and gained so glorious
a victory over the Indore contingent and the other rebel troops
which were moving to the assault of that place. Another column under
Brigadier-General Showers was subsequently sent into the districts to
the west and north-west, and to this the Guide Cavalry was attached.
Our chief object was to punish, and, if possible, capture the Nawab of
Jhujjur; but before effecting this we moved about the country, "showing
our muscle," to use a slang phrase, and thereby dispersing stray bands
of marauders, and instilling confidence into the quietly disposed
people of the agricultural classes.

During the suppression of the Mutiny, a campaign which was unique and
unlike any other, the iron bands of discipline were, in some respects,
not so tightly drawn as usual, and many things happened which would
now be impossible. For instance, it was not at all unheard of for
an enterprising officer, with no other sanction than that of his
commanding officer, to take a small party of mounted men and start off
on the prowl in search of adventures. Very frequently he found them,
and took good care, in view of the irregularity of his proceedings,
that no report of them reached the General. On some such occasion, a
captain who was doing duty with us, and who was well-known for his
eccentricity, almost verging on insanity, his fearlessness, and his
unsparing thirst for vengeance against the mutineers, found himself,
with a squad of sixteen or twenty men, many miles from camp, in front
of the gateway of a walled enclosure, inside which were about forty
rebel sepoys who, relying on their distance from danger, had taken no
precautions against surprise, and were quietly cooking their dinner.
H---- took in the situation at once. "Halt!" he shouted in a stentorian
voice, to his men, adding in Hindustani "Only twenty men follow me into
the gate. Let the rest of the regiment remain outside." "Throw down
your arms in that corner," he roared to the terror-stricken sepoys.
"Gather together in the opposite corner, and be quick about it, or
I will slay you all." He was immediately obeyed. "Now," said he, "I
see among you a number of men older than the others, whom they have
probably led astray. Drive them out from among you, that I may destroy
them." The miserable cowards of young men instantly thrust out the
older ones, struggling and fighting for dear life: and H---- and his
party fell on them and killed them.

Then turning to the traitorous remnant, "What dirt have you eaten! Oh
children of owls!" and he "smote them also, hip and thigh."

Before utterly and unreservedly condemning this undoubtedly savage
action, I would beg the reader to remember that in this Mutiny war
no quarter was given on either side. We looked, and rightly looked,
upon the mutineers, not as honest enemies, but as foul and cruel
murderers for whom to die by the sword was too good a fate, and whose
only fit end was on the gallows. If they had confined themselves to a
revolt against the Government, and in attempting it had slaughtered
their officers and all men who tried to suppress it, they would not
have placed themselves outside the pale of mercy; but since they had
butchered our defenceless women and children, we would have been
more than human, we would have been less than men, if we had not
exterminated them as men kill snakes whenever we met them. H---- well
knew that if he did not destroy these sepoys they would destroy him.
The slightest hesitation on his part, and they would have sprung to
arms, and being caught like rats in a trap, would have fought with
the energy of despair. Their muskets against our men's swords would
have given their superior numbers a decisive advantage. We should
undoubtedly have lost several men, and would probably have been driven
back. From this nothing but the prompt and clever strategy adopted
by H---- saved his party. With all this, it is impossible to avoid a
feeling of regret that this incident should have occurred.

FOOTNOTES:

[4] _Kaye's Sepoy War._

[5] Colonel Wilson's letter to Colonel Baird Smith, dated 30th August,
1857.



V.
CAPTURE OF JHUJJUR.


One evening, as my Commanding Officer, Captain Sanford, and I, after
dining at mess, returned to the tent which we shared between us, he
told me that I need not expect to enjoy that night a very long rest;
for he had planned a little expedition on which I was to accompany
him. He had got information from a spy of the whereabouts of a small
body of the enemy at a village about twelve miles from our camp. He
had already given orders for fifty of our men who had been separately
and secretly told off to arm themselves and mount their horses as
quietly as possible soon after midnight, and sneak out of camp, one
by one, through a picquet which had been warned to let them pass. He
had taken none of the officers except myself and the Adjutant into
his confidence, partly to escape their importunities to be allowed
to accompany us, and partly because there was no certainty that we
might not be going on a wild goose chase. At the stroke of midnight we
arose, dressed and armed ourselves, fortified our stomachs with a cup
of hot tea, crammed into our holsters a cold roast fowl apiece and some
chapatties, mounted our horses and stole out of camp to the rendezvous,
where we found our party and a guide waiting for us. Placing the guide
in front under the escort of a couple of sowars, and whispering to the
men on the right flank to follow in single file, Sanford noiselessly
led the way. Not till we had placed a couple of miles between ourselves
and camp did we halt, form up, and "tell off," after which necessary
proceeding we continued our journey, stumbling along in the dark over
fields and by foot-paths till our guide intimated that we were within
a mile of our destination. As it was still an hour or so before dawn
we now halted, dismounted, looked to our girths, and loosened our
swords in their scabbards. When we again moved on, preceded by a few
scouts, with whom was the guide, the very faintest flush of light was
beginning to suffuse the sky in the east. In a few minutes more the
darkness of night had partially rolled away; and we could see, not
far to our front, a group of thatched roofs, and a few tiny curls of
blue smoke where some early risers had begun their preparations for
breakfast. Almost at the same moment we came across two or three sepoys
who had thus early come out into the field. Short shrift had they. We
pressed on; and then a carbine shot broke the stillness, followed by
the clattering of horses' hoofs, as a small picquet, which--strange
to say--had actually been posted on the look-out, took the alarm and
galloped away.

After them we went, _ventre a terre_, and drove them right into the
village, which turned out to be a small one, and not in any way
protected by earthworks. From the complete absence of any attempt
at checking us by musketry fire, coupled with the uproar within
the hamlet, it was evident that our sudden attack had smitten its
defenders with panic; so Sanford with his usual boldness promptly
decided to strike while the iron was hot. Detaching two small squads
to sweep round the place and join us on the opposite side, he led the
main party at a gallop straight up the main street, and through the
village, into the fields beyond, which were already full of fugitives.
They were all mounted, but many of them had been in such a hurry to
bolt that they had not had time to saddle their horses. Though they
were two or three times our number, and--if they had kept a really
efficient look-out, could easily have beaten us off--they were so
completely demoralised by terror that they did not make the slightest
effort to rally, but fled in all directions, each man for himself, and
each trying to make the fastest time on record. It may be imagined
what a holiday this was for our fierce "Guides." Soon was the plain
strewn with the bodies of their victims; and though many of the rebels
when overtaken used their _tulwars_ as well as they could, they only
succeeded in slightly wounding a few of our men.

One unfortunate fellow, who fell to my lot, threw himself off his horse
when I had nearly overtaken him, and boldly facing me on foot, tried
to draw his _tulwar_; but the more he tugged the less would it leave
the scabbard. For a moment I thought fear had paralysed his arm; but I
discovered afterwards that he had tied his hilt to the scabbard, and
in his hurry and very natural agitation had forgotten all about the
fastening. It was not at all an unusual practice with native swordsmen
to thus fasten up their _tulwars_, with the view of preventing their
keen edges from getting blunted by friction.

For three or four miles we kept up the pursuit, when Sanford sounded
the "halt" and "rally" and our scattered men gradually obeyed the
summons, and assembled, many of them leading captured horses, and laden
with loot in the shape of arms and odds and ends, among which were
doubtless many gold mohurs and rupees extracted from the _cummerbunds_
of the fallen sowars. Very unobtrusive was our return into camp that
evening. Not till after dusk did we sneak in as we had sneaked out, by
ones and twos; for we were by no means anxious that the General should
come to hear of our unsanctioned escapade, till, at any rate, Sanford
had found time to think over the most judicious excuse for it.

As we stretched our tired legs under the table in the mess tent, and
refreshed our dry throats with a welcome draught of "tarbund" beer, we
looked forward to a good night's rest after our day's adventures, for
the force was not to resume its march till daylight next morning. At
this juncture an official letter was brought by an orderly and handed
to the commanding officer, whose face while he read it presented an
interesting study. He ended its perusal with a low whistle clearly
indicative of puzzled embarrassment; and then communicated its contents
to the table. The staff officer of the column had, it seemed, the
honour to inform him that the General had received information that
a certain village--the very one we had paid our morning call at--was
occupied by a strong outpost of the enemy's cavalry. Captain Sanford
was desired to take all the available sabres of his regiment and beat
up that outpost, timing his march so as, if possible, to effect a
surprise about the break of day. In the event of the enemy proving too
strong to be dislodged Captain Sanford was to communicate with the
General, who would be found on the line of march previously notified in
Orders. Here was a pretty dilemma; what was to be done now? It would
never do at this stage of the affair to report that we had anticipated
the General both in information and in acting on it. He would have been
furious, so our commanding officer contented himself with acknowledging
the receipt of the order. Once more, soon after midnight, we turned
out, this time the whole Regiment, some 250 strong; and marched away
in the same direction as on the previous night. Our spirits were not
quite so lively as on that occasion, and Sanford was not so gay as
usual; for he did not quite see his way out of the scrape he had got
into.

At daylight we reached the village, now apparently deserted; and here
we met with a wonderful stroke of luck: for in one of the houses we
captured a foolish fellow, who, after escaping us the day before,
had, thinking the coast was clear, come back in the night to recover
some things which he had not had the leisure to pack up before taking
his leave. The poor fellow's surprise was painful to witness; but he
soon brightened up when he was promised his life on condition that he
conducted us to the place where his comrades had taken refuge. This he
undertook to do; and, to ensure his fidelity, his hands were securely
tied together, and he was mounted on a stray pony, the leading rope of
which was given in charge to a couple of men who had orders to shoot
him if he attempted to escape.

He said that about six miles further we would find most of his
comrades, who had established a bivouac in the open, for they had
apparently had enough of village enclosures. His information proved
perfectly correct. Directly the enemy saw our scouts they made off in
an even greater hurry, if possible, than before. During the pursuit we,
as usual, got a good deal scattered. Presently I observed two figures,
far away to the left, disappearing into the distance, while behind
them, at a long interval, was riding Captain Sanford, followed by a
few men. After him I galloped as hard as I could go. When at last I
overtook him I found him and his party halted at the gate of a "serai,"
inside which were about fifty sowars of the Jhujjur troops, with their
horses picketed to pegs, and--best prize of all--two light brass guns.

The two figures I had first seen were one of the enemy pursued by
a non-commissioned officer of ours who was generally known as the
"Shahzada," and who was suspected of not being gifted with an excess
of courage. The reader will judge, however, whether the suspicion was
well founded. In the pursuit he had singled out one of the enemy, who,
being nearly as well mounted as himself, had led him a long chase
across country; but he had stuck to him till he ran him to earth in
the serai, at the gate of which the Shahzada had to pull up, for it
was full of "moofsids." Nothing daunted, he had produced from his belt
an enormous horse pistol, covered the lot with it in a general sort
of way, informed them that the "Guide Rissala"--name of terror to the
rebels--was close at his heels, and threatened to drill a hole into the
first man who stirred. The cowardly crew, who had doubtless heard all
about the previous day's surprise and slaughter, were too frightened
to move. In a few moments Sanford and his men reinforced the Shahzada;
and when I rode up were all keeping guard at the gate. Before long we
were joined by the main body of the regiment; and then the prisoners
were secured; their horses seized; and Sanford, with a light heart,
sat down to indite a short despatch to the General, informing him that
we had captured fifty prisoners and two brass guns. This was sent off
without loss of time; and we commenced our march to rejoin the column;
but we were met by an order to stay where we were, as the column would
come to us. So we retraced our steps to the serai. Whether Captain
Sanford, on the General's arrival, made a clean breast of it, and told
him the whole story of the previous day's affair or not, I know not. At
any rate, we never heard anything more about it.

A capture of horses was always welcome, for that was the only way in
which we could replace casualties among our own mounts; and casualties
were pretty frequent in those days from wounds and hard work. We used
to select the best of the captives and pass them into the ranks; and
sell by auction in camp the others and those whom we rejected from
among our own animals. Hitherto we had always considered such prize of
war our own perquisites; and no one had interfered with us. It now
happened, however, that a levy of mounted police was being raised;
and this batch of horses was requisitioned for them. We were, much to
our disgust, obliged to part with some of them; but I have a shrewd
idea that many of the best remained picketed in our lines. For my own
part I was determined to stick to a very handsome roan mare of which
I had relieved her former owner, after putting it out of his power
to ride her or any other mare any more. Whether the officer to whom
the captured animals were to have been made over suspected that some
were kept back or exchanged for "screws," I cannot say; but we heard
that one of the prisoners was to be sent round our lines to identify
them. Before he came the roan mare had been carefully groomed, her
mane and tail dressed, my military saddle and bridle fitted on her,
and a blanket thrown carelessly over the saddle and her loins. Very
charger-like she looked, and very unlike what she had been an hour
before. The prisoner when he came on his visit of inspection did not
even look at her, but fixed his eyes on a grey Arab, for which I had
given a long price some months previously, and after pretending to eye
him critically all over, confidently declared that he was one of the
captured horses. Such a transparent mistake effectually discredited his
evidence; and he was turned out of our lines with ignominy. Many a hard
day's work did that roan mare do afterwards; and I daresay she served
the State as well when carrying an officer of Irregular Cavalry as she
would have done if she had joined the new levy.

That mare was the only "loot" that I allowed myself to take during the
Mutiny campaign; and as she was literally the "captive of my bow and
spear," in so far as these weapons were represented by a Wilkinson
blade, I cannot feel that I was very much to blame for keeping her.
On at least one occasion, however, I was sorely tempted. We had taken
possession of a deserted town; and our men were busily "searching
for arms," a euphemism which covered the quest for many more valuable
articles, when I rode into a courtyard under a gate so low that I had
to cling to my horse's neck to avoid breaking my own. As I crossed the
yard to where a group of my brother officers was standing, one of my
horse's feet sunk deep into the ground, which was elsewhere as hard as
a stone pavement. This was a sufficient hint to us to dig: and dig we
did without delay. Imagine our excitement when, at a depth of two or
three feet, we came upon the lid of a large iron chest. Some of our men
had been helping us with native spades and hoes which had been left
lying about in the huts; and we now placed a couple of them on sentry
at the gate to warn off intruders, while we redoubled our labours, and
before long had lifted the heavy chest out of its hole. It was locked,
and for a time defied all our efforts to break it open. While this was
being done, the ever vigilant Father of Evil took advantage of his
opportunity. There could be no doubt that the chest, so carefully
hidden, must be full of barbaric gold and gems. Why should we hand all
this wealth over to the prize agents? Their operations were confined to
Delhi. This village was clearly outside their sphere. They and their
employés would never come near it. But for us the chest would never
have been discovered. While thoughts such as these were being freely
expressed and eagerly discussed the lid of the box was somehow or other
forced open; and then was revealed--a mass of documents, quantities of
papers bearing revenue stamps, numbers of unused stamps, and absolutely
nothing else. These papers, though worthless to us, were yet of great
importance and value, as we were informed by the political officers to
whom they were made over.

After all "auld Clootie" had not wasted his time. He had succeeded in
making some of us feel the power of a good solid temptation; and I
daresay had a quiet laugh in his sleeve at our disappointment in not
being permitted to succumb to it.

In this same deserted town a certain "Chobdar," a kind of Oriental
"gold stick" of the old King's was suspected to be in hiding; and as
he was particularly "wanted" by Sir John Metcalfe, the officer in
political charge of Delhi, we instituted a very vigorous search for
him. A young native lad had been won over by the blandishments of
H---- to conduct us to a group of huts in one of which he asserted
we should surely find the object of our quest. For an hour or more
we hunted without success, when, in a small dark room, I noticed one
of the large mud-built jars in which natives store their grain. This
is, to describe it roughly, a section of a tube closed at both ends,
about three feet in diameter and five or six feet high, and stands
upright on one end. Near the top a circular hole is cut in the side,
into which the grain is poured, and a lid is fitted on to this hole.
Possibly Morgiana and the forty thieves flashed across my mind. At any
rate I removed the lid, and shoving the muzzle of my revolver into
the reservoir, requested its possible occupant to come out. The pistol
certainly struck against something which yielded. So I thrust in my arm
and caught hold of--a thick beard. A long pull and a strong pull--and
out came the Chobdar at full length!

I made him over to my commanding officer, who delivered him up to the
political authorities, who, for doubtless sufficient reasons, hanged
him on a branch of a tree.

At length came the time when we were to try conclusions with the Nawab
of Jhujjur. That rebel Chief was waiting for us at home in his capital,
where he had collected a considerable force.

One day, after a long march which had brought our column within a few
miles of Jhujjur, we, the Guides Cavalry and a body of Irregular Horse
under Captain Pearse, were not a little disgusted by the receipt of
orders to retrace our steps at once to a point not far from whence we
had just come. To the subaltern mind there seemed no sense in this
arrangement; and as our commanding officer did not enlighten us as to
the reason for it, we grumbled a good deal as we hurriedly watered and
fed our horses, and then started on the weary return march.

Late in the afternoon we had arrived at our destination, and were then
warned to be in readiness to march again soon after midnight. Just
before dark I had strolled a few hundred yards from camp by myself and
was returning, when I was suddenly confronted among some low rolling
sandhills by a "sowari" camel carrying two native riders. To present
my revolver at them and call on them to halt took about a second; and
so taken aback were they that they obeyed at once. I then made them
dismount and lead their camel before me to camp. Far better would it
have been for them if they had risked my fire and tried to escape; for
on them was found a letter which they were carrying to the Jhujjur
Nawab, and which contained the news of our movements and a guess
at our strength. They paid the penalty which in all wars is exacted
from spies. As things turned out their capture were a most fortunate
accident; for when, in the darkness of the night, our small force of
sabres paraded for the march, we were for the first time informed of
the reason for our eccentric movements. It seemed that General Showers
intended to attack Jhujjur that morning from the opposite side to that
where we were now posted. His having taken us with him and then sent us
back was a _ruse de guerre_, the object of which the reader will easily
divine. He thought it more than probable that the Nawab and his troops
when they were driven out of Jhujjur would--thinking the coast was
clear in our direction--take that route to another strong place which
lay behind us, and that they would fall into our hands.

We were warned to make as little noise as possible, and were strictly
forbidden to smoke. We had a good many miles to cover before getting
near Jhujjur, so we moved off in column of route. Shortly before dawn
we heard a distant voice gaily singing and gradually becoming louder
as it approached us. The minstrel proved to be one of a small party of
sowars who must have been the most egregious cowards of the Jhujjur
garrison, for they had evidently fled long before any one else; and
were doubtless congratulating themselves on their timely escape from
the fierce "Feringhis" when to their horror they found themselves in
our midst. A few swift flashes of steel and their songs were over for
ever.

The day began gradually to break as we pushed eagerly on, meeting at
intervals other small parties, of whom not one escaped, though some
made a desperate fight for life. At length, just before the sun rose,
as we neared the summit of some rising ground which we were ascending,
our scouts galloped back with news that the main body of the fugitives
was within sight. We at once formed line to the front in rank entire, a
formation which I may explain for the benefit of civilian readers, is
composed of only one rank instead of two, and which, of course, doubles
the extent of front; for our leader wished to frighten the enemy by an
imposing show of force, rightly judging that at a distance they would
not see that we had no rear rank. Our line advanced to the crest of
the high ground, and then burst on our view a sight which can never be
forgotten.

A gentle slope stretched away from us, ending in a wide plain which
was covered with a huge crowd moving towards us in a disorderly mob.
Fighting men on horse-back and on foot--on camels--on a stray elephant
or two--in bullock carts and "ekkas"--without any show of discipline or
regular formation, mingled with hundreds of non-combatants all pressing
tumultuously onwards.

For a moment our long line halted full in view of the enemy. Then rang
out the commands "Prepare to draw swords."--"Draw swords." Our sabres
flashed into light, gleaming in the rays of the rising sun. "Forward
at a walk;" "March;" "Trot;" "Gallop;" "Charge." Down the slope we
thundered. Like the sands on a dry plain struck by a sudden squall the
dense mob before us with a wild cry of despair, broke into fragments
and fled--in vain! Our impetus carried us into the midst of them. For
miles we pursued them, and heavy was the loss we inflicted on those who
bore arms.

Theoretically, cavalry should at all times be kept well in hand and
under perfect control. Practically, it would be quite as easy to bind
the winds after they had burst out of the bag of Æolus, as to control
cavalry once launched in pursuit. What else could possibly be expected?
The enemy, if mounted, scatters in flight in all directions, and at
racing pace. If they are to be overtaken and destroyed the pursuers
also must scatter, and at still greater speed. A very few minutes will
cover miles of country with a rapidly extending fan of more or less
isolated swiftly-moving groups. Such, at any rate, was our frequent
experience during the Mutiny campaigns. The only remedy would have
been to have invariably kept a strong reserve; but this precaution
was, with such contemptible antagonists, hardly necessary. After the
first few trials of strength the rebels had thoroughly learned the
lesson that an encounter with our troops in the open field invariably
meant defeat, and that the consequences of defeat were terrible.
Having no real discipline or organisation, and no confidence in their
leaders, they always met us with what may be best described as nervous
hesitation; and their promptitude in bolting was often astonishing.
Frequently would individuals and small knots of men turn to bay and
fight manfully; but usually not till they also had yielded to the
general impulse of panic, and had joined for a time in the stampede.

In this pursuit I had the good fortune to kill a mutineer who must
undoubtedly have been concerned in the murder of some European, for I
found on him a gold mourning ring bearing on the circlet, in black
enamelled letters, the words "In memory of." The stone, which evidently
must have been inscribed with some name, was missing. The wretch
made no fight, but died like a cur, with my blade through his back.
Observing that his _cummerbund_ bulged considerably, I unrolled it;
and out of its folds fell a quantity of rupees and other things, among
which was the ring, which I took, leaving the rest of the loot for any
one who might be inclined to pick it up. I placed the ring on one of
my fingers, resolving, when the opportunity should offer, to have a
bloodstone inserted in it, with the date 1857.

To my great regret, later in the day, I found that the ring, which was
rather loose for my finger, had slipped off it, and was lost.

It will be admitted that when we joined the rendezvous at Jhujjur we
had, during the past forty-eight hours, done a fair share of work; but
more was in store for us. The Nawab was a prisoner in the hands of
the General, who decided to send him without delay to head-quarters
at Delhi; and we were ordered to escort him. Accordingly in the
afternoon the Nawab, who was a heavy, corpulent man, was placed in
a doolie provided with a large number of bearers; and once more our
tired horses were on the move. I forget what was the distance between
Jhujjur and Delhi; but I well remember that the march was a very long
and fatiguing one; and that it was not before the dawn of next day that
we had finished it, and were able to hand our prisoner over to other
custodians.

He was duly tried, found guilty, and hanged in the Chandni Chowk, the
principal street of Delhi.



VI.
EN ROUTE FOR LUCKNOW.


About this time I seized an opportunity of getting a few days' leave
to run over to Meerut. Soon after my return the Corps of Guides which,
since its arrival in the camp before Delhi after its famous forced
march from the far frontier, had continuously rendered services not
eclipsed by any other troops which had the honour to take part in the
siege, received orders to return to Hoti Murdan. Its losses, both in
the cavalry and infantry branches of the regiment, had been so numerous
that it became absolutely necessary to fill their places with recruits.

To my deep sorrow my connection with this distinguished regiment then
came to an end; but while I live it will always be a source of pride to
me to have been privileged to serve with it, even for so short a time,
during the memorable siege of Delhi.

Though Delhi had fallen and the Punjab was secure, the revolt was yet
far from having been suppressed in the Provinces of the North-West and
Oudh. There was still plenty of service to be seen in those parts;
and I was naturally anxious to find my way down to them. In those
days it was fortunately not very difficult to get to the front when
any fighting was to be done. There was work for every one, and plenty
of it. Since then, many a keen soldier not possessed of influential
friends at head-quarters, has had to be content to find himself shut
out from the series of "little wars," so prolific of medals and
decorations and brevet promotion, which seem providentially provided
for the swift advancement in the service of his more fortunate comrades
who are equipped with that best of military qualifications--"interest."

Not to digress, however, the opportunity was afforded me of getting
transferred to the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry, a corps which had been
newly raised in the Punjab by the late Captain Wale, and was commanded
by him; and which about this time arrived at Delhi _en route_ to join
Sir Colin Campbell's forces in the south. That regiment began, under
Wale, a distinguished career which it continued under Probyn in China.
It is now the 11th Prince of Wales's Own Bengal Lancers, and still
maintains its high reputation among the many splendid regiments which
compose the Bengal and Punjab Cavalry; a force of horsemen which, it
is safe to say, is not excelled, as regards all the best qualities of
light cavalry, by any troops in the world.

If the smart 11th Bengal Lancers could see themselves as they
appeared when, as the 1st Sikh Irregulars, they marched down the
grand trunk road from Delhi in the winter of 1857, they would be not
a little amused and astonished. Every variety of bit, bridle, saddle
_tulwar_--every variety of horse, entire, mare, and gelding,--of all
heights, from 15 hands to animals little bigger than ponies. Such were
the equipment and the mounting of the regiment; and our notions of
drill were at first equally primitive. It was all we could do to "form
threes right" or "left." The men, however--if no two of them rode
alike, and none of them had a "cavalry seat"--were undeniable horsemen;
and there was never any difficulty in getting them, when an enemy was
before them, to form some sort of a line to the front, and to ride as
hard and as straight, if not with quite as good "dressing," as the
better drilled troops of the present day.

On our first march from Delhi a comical incident, which, however, might
easily have turned out rather a serious one, occurred. I was riding
with the advanced files, when a young native woman, wielding with both
hands a very long straight double-edged sword, such as is frequently
used by acrobats at Indian festivities, suddenly appeared in the
middle of the road and barred our way. The creature must have been mad
or under the influence of "bhang" or some other intoxicant; for she
deluged us with a torrent of abuse as she vigorously brandished the
long thin blade. For a moment I was nonplussed: the situation was so
entirely novel! Mad or sane, the virago evidently meant business. There
was clearly no getting past her without a fight; and that was quite out
of the question.

"Shoot her, sahib," said one of the sowars with me, little troubled
with the polite consideration for the sex which the obligations of an
effete civilisation imposed upon his British officer. At that moment,
as if by inspiration, a "happy thought" flashed on my mind. "Give her
_galee_," (abuse) I said to the sowar; "and give it her hot and strong,
and plenty of it." Instantly grasping the idea, the grinning sowar
opened such a battery of abuse of the vilest and most comprehensive
nature upon the unfortunate young person and her female relatives to
the remotest degree that her own fire was promptly silenced. Encouraged
by this success, the sowar redoubled his efforts; and slung such awful
and shameful language with such force and precision that the rout
of the enemy speedily became complete. Dropping her long sword and
stuffing her fingers into her ears, she fled with a horrified shriek;
and we marched triumphantly on, chuckling at the success of our tactics.

Nothing very exciting occurred during the long, dusty march to
Cawnpore. For a considerable part of the way we had to escort an
immense train of empty bullock carts, destined for the use of Sir
Colin's army; and our duties were monotonous in the extreme. Heartily
would we have welcomed an attack on our convoy; but none was ever made.

At Cawnpore I was left in command of a detachment of fifty sabres,
while the head-quarters of the regiment went on to Alumbagh, near
Lucknow. This was a grievous disappointment to me; but as things turned
out, nothing more lucky could have happened.

After having marched here and there about the country with a column
under Brigadier-General Cardew, during which time nothing worth
record occurred, we returned to Cawnpore and remained there for a
while. My comrade and fellow-subaltern at that time was Lieutenant
now (Colonel) Sir Robert Sandeman, _K.C.S.I._, to whose wisdom and
tact and perseverance India owes her present impregnable frontier
on the North-West, and the gradual conversion of the wild tribes of
Baluchistan into friendly and peaceful communities. He and I one day
rode out to visit our friends, the 3rd Battalion of the Rifle Brigade,
at Unao, on the Lucknow road, where they were encamped under the
command of Colonel Macdonell. While there the Colonel took me aside and
informed me that a messenger had just come in with an urgent request
for help from a village some few miles to the north, which was held
by a small detachment of police. The village which, like most others
in Oudh at that date, was fortunately protected by a strong and lofty
mud-built wall, was attacked by a force of some hundreds of rebels;
and unless speedily relieved its defenders were in danger of running
short of ammunition. It was promptly arranged that Sandeman and I
should gallop back to Cawnpore, report the state of affairs to General
Sir John Inglis, and obtain his permission to bring our detachment as
quickly as possible across country to a point about three miles from
the threatened post, where we were to join a couple of companies of the
Rifle Brigade and proceed to its relief.

Off we set as fast as our horses could carry us. It was late in the
evening when we arrived; Sandeman going straight to our lines to turn
out our men, while I went to the Fort and obtained an interview with
Sir John Inglis.

He was at first apparently disinclined to let so young an officer take
a detachment at night so far from support into the wilds; but at last
he listened to my arguments, and after impressing on me that I was to
act under the orders of Colonel Macdonell, allowed me to go.

When I got to the lines I found the men already mounted and "told
off," and fresh horses ready for Sandeman and myself: so that we got
under way at once. After crossing the bridge of boats we struck across
country in a slanting direction to the left of the road. Night had
fallen, but we had the advantage of a certain amount of moonlight, and
were able to move pretty rapidly. When we arrived at the rendezvous
there were no signs of Colonel Macdonell or his rifles; but a letter
from him was put into my hands by a native messenger, who said that
the Colonel, after starting from Unao, had gone back there on hearing
that at nightfall the rebels had raised the siege of the village, and
had retired to another some miles away. This after our long journey to
Cawnpore and back was a terrible disappointment.

Possibly, however, the Colonel might have thought it undesirable to
follow the enemy so great a distance with infantry, and might wish
me to do so with my troop. The thought no sooner struck me than its
"sweet reasonableness" began to grow on me; and I had very soon
persuaded myself that the yet unopened missive contained instructions
which chimed with my wishes. Unfortunately, however, it was too dark
to read the letter without a light, and I had no matches! Neither,
very curiously, had Sandeman! At any rate, we did not find any in our
pockets: so we held a short council of war; and decided that in the
absence of instructions, we felt it our duty to proceed to the lately
beleaguered village, and learn all we could about the movements of the
enemy. We took the messenger with us as a guide, and in another hour
had reached our destination.

The brave defenders were delighted to see us; but they informed us that
the rebels had not gone far, and would certainly return in the morning;
and they implored us not to leave them to their fate.

On inquiring how many fighting men they could muster, we found that
they could turn out about a hundred muskets and matchlocks of sorts. I
then asked them what they thought was the strength of the enemy. About
five or six hundred they said. Allowing for Oriental exaggeration, we
guessed that two hundred and fifty or three hundred would probably
be nearer the mark; so I asked them if they were game to accompany
us and beat up their late assailants, whom we would certainly find
quite unprepared for our midnight visit. With the greatest alacrity
they agreed: so, without loss of time, I made my dispositions, and
formed up my little army in the order which it was to keep till the
moment of attack. In the centre I managed with some difficulty to get
the police and the armed villagers to arrange themselves in a line,
impressing on them that if they could keep that formation till we came
in contact with the enemy, they would certainly be mistaken for a
company of the dreaded _gora logue_ (white troops), which would be a
heavy score in our favour. My own party I divided into two bodies of
25 sabres each and placed one on each flank, giving the command of
the left to Lieutenant Sandeman and of the right to a native officer,
till the moment of the charge, when I proposed to lead it. I then
explained the plan of attack, and took very good care that every man of
my motley allies thoroughly understood it, and appreciated the extreme
necessity of adhering to it. A guide was placed in front of the centre
of the line, where I took up my position; and he was ordered to lead
me straight to the camp of the rebels, who, we were assured, would be
found "en bivouac" close to a village about three miles away. The very
strictest silence was enjoined on all. As my object was to surprise
the enemy and fall on him without giving him the slightest hint of
our approach, I did not send forward a single scout. The line was to
advance quietly and steadily, till I should give a loud "Hurrah,"
which was to be the signal for the police and village heroes to "loose
off" every musket they had, and to yell with all their lungs, when the
cavalry from both flanks would charge, also with a shout.

If all that did not freeze the marrow in the bones of a lot of sleepy
Pandies, I flattered myself nothing would!

So we moved off over the fields--the soft earth muffling all sound--my
improvised infantry keeping a really wonderful line--and all as eager
as panthers.

In an hour or so the guide whispered to me that we were close on our
quarry, but nothing was to be seen. The night, though not pitch-dark,
was sufficiently so to obscure all objects beyond thirty or forty
yards. Most fortunately a belt of trees was now behind us, which must
have effectually prevented us from being seen from our front. Suddenly
I became aware of the _silhouette_ of a man's figure against the sky
of the horizon before me, slowly moving, apparently along the top of a
low wall. Almost at the same instant from the dim figure came a loud
challenge:--"Hookumdar!" He must have been startled by some sound, for
he could not have seen us.

I held my breath, for I feared that my villagers might get excited,
and spoil my plans by beginning to fire; but they behaved admirably
and crept steadily on. Now we were within forty yards of the sentry.
"Hookumdar!" he shouted again. For a few yards more we crouched
forward, when the sentry, now thoroughly alarmed, once more roared
"Hookumdar," and fired his musket. Now was the moment! I gave the
signal "Hurrah" as loud as my lungs would let me, and galloped off to
my squad of sowars, while the line of villagers simultaneously let off
all their fire-arms, and burst into an uproar of wild yells to which
the worst efforts of a pack of mad jackals would have been a feeble
joke.

A few seconds covered the ground between us and the rebel bivouac, and
brought us up to a shallow ditch and a low wall, which, though they
brought down one or two of our horses, did not for a moment check the
furious charge. So complete was the surprise and so utterly unprepared
for, that beyond a few scattered musket shots fired off harmlessly in
panic, not the very slightest effort at a stand was made. The wretched
Pandies as they jumped up, half dazed with sleep, from the ground and
off the charpoys on which they had been lying, must have been utterly
bewildered by the fiendish yells and the roar of musketry which for
many of them was their last "reveille;" and they fled helter-skelter in
all directions into the fields, pursued and mercilessly slain by the
Sikh horsemen, whose scanty numbers their fears must have magnified
a hundredfold. Some were actually sabred on the ground before they
were well awake. Others were caught before they had got a dozen yards
away; and in a few minutes the surrounding fields were covered with
the bodies of many more; while the lucky survivors, favoured by the
darkness, made off at best speed to unknown and distant parts, and
doubtless had a gruesome tale to unfold when at last they reached some
safe asylum, as to how they had escaped by the favour of God and by the
skin of their teeth, after performing prodigies of unavailing valour,
from a midnight attack by the whole British army.

The darkness made it inadvisable to push the pursuit very far, more
especially as the defeat of the rebels was so decisive that there was
practically no danger of their recovering from it and making any effort
to rally, and it was very certain that they would not for some time
trust themselves in our part of the country, far less attempt to renew
the attack on the police outpost. So I re-assembled the troop, and was
happy to find that beyond a few trifling scratches we had incurred no
casualties whatever.

We now contrived to read Colonel Macdonell's letter, and found that its
contents were not exactly what we had persuaded ourselves they might
be. The Colonel had in fact desired me to return to camp at Cawnpore,
since the voluntary retirement of the besiegers from the threatened
village had put an end to the object of our expedition. However, to use
a homely phrase, there is no help for spilt milk. What we had done
could not be undone, so we decided to finish the job in a workmanlike
manner. To this end we collected in heaps such property as had been
abandoned by the enemy, and made bonfires of it. We also destroyed by
fire the neighbouring fortified village which had harboured them, and
which it was most fortunate they were not occupying when we arrived on
the scene; for it stood on high ground, and we should have found it a
hard nut to crack. It was delightful to witness the exuberant joy and
vainglorious excitement of our valiant matchlockmen; and we all marched
back in the best of spirits to their home, now released from danger;
where we left them to enjoy the congratulations of their womenfolk,
while we continued our journey back to Cawnpore--a journey which turned
out to be not entirely without adventure.

We had, of course, secured a guide; and for some few miles we marched
quietly on, when, judging that we could easily find our way to the
bridge over the river by the position of the moon and stars, Sandeman
and I, taking an orderly with us, left the party to follow leisurely
while we trotted on, for I was anxious to report our success to Sir
John Inglis as speedily as possible; but we had not gone more than a
mile or two when the sky became so thickly overcast with clouds that
not only was the darkness intensified, but our beacons were lost to
view. We had to fall into a walk, and very cautiously did we move;
for if we did unfortunately lose the proper direction there was no
certainty that we might not fall in with a stray camp of the enemy, who
at that time infested the district.

Presently we came in sight of a number of twinkling lights, and held
a debate as to whether we should make for them or not. We decided,
however, that it would be prudent to avoid them, so we moved on in
the opposite direction; and after a while came across a small hamlet,
the watchful dogs of which all commenced to bark in chorus. Into the
village we trotted at a smart pace, and finding a man asleep on a
"charpoy" outside his hut, we roused him up, and started him at a run
out of the place and into the open fields almost before he had time to
wake. We then explained matters to him and offered him a reward if he
conducted us safely to the bridge, with the alternative of something
quite different if he led us into any trap.

We found that we had, after all, come pretty straight, and were within
a mile or two of the river. At the bridge we dismissed our guide with
the promised reward; and as dawn was now breaking I went on to the
Fort and sought the General's quarters, not without trepidation; for
now that cool reflection had time to sit in judgment on hot impulse,
I was not quite certain in what light our proceedings would strike
that redoubtable officer, and what measure of allowance he would make
for the rather lame excuse which I had to offer for not having obeyed
Colonel Macdonell's instructions. I began to have grave doubts as to
whether he would swallow the match story; and I heartily wished the
interview well over.

Sir John gravely listened to my report and then proceeded to administer
a "wigging" which took all the conceit out of me, and made me wish
that I had passed the previous night quietly in my bed instead of in
hunting rebels in the jungle. My twitching face must have betrayed the
acuteness of my pain, for the kind old General, laying his hand on my
shoulder, went on to say something to the following effect:--"Don't be
too much upset about this. As your General I was bound to rebuke you;
for if by any chance you had failed instead of succeeded--if your party
had lost many lives and had been repulsed into the bargain--you would
have got into serious trouble. As things have turned out all has gone
well, and you have read these Pandies an excellent lesson; and, in
fact, I am not really at heart displeased with you. Perhaps I may find
you another job some day soon."

If a condemned criminal were reprieved at the scaffold, and were
presented with a handsome fortune into the bargain, his feelings would
be like mine at that moment.

The promised job turned up not very long afterwards.

I was directed to take my troop to a point on the river several miles
above Cawnpore, and to establish a series of picquets along its course
for the purpose of frustrating any attempt on the part of the rebels to
cross it. To assist me in this duty a considerable body of newly-raised
semi-military police was placed at my disposal, and I was told that I
could thoroughly rely on their fidelity. As the length of front which
I had to guard stretched for many miles, it was clear that my fifty
sabres could do little in the way of furnishing picquets. I therefore
made the following dispositions. At favourable points along the river
I established a chain of small police posts, of about ten men, each
under a non-commissioned officer. Further inland, on the lines of radii
leading to my own position, I placed three parties of my own men, each
consisting of a duffadar and three sowars.

The rest of the detachment I kept together at a central point a mile
or two from the river. The duties of the police posts were to keep
an incessant and vigilant look-out, and to patrol the banks, keeping
touch with each other. In the event of any suspicious movements being
observed on the opposite side of the river, or of any attempt to cross
it anywhere, they were at once to communicate with the nearest of my
connecting links, who would forward the information to me; and I should
thus be always able to move the main body of my detachment promptly
to any threatened point. Sandeman and I took it in turns to visit the
whole of the picquets--a duty which entailed a ride of between twenty
and thirty miles. Having made these arrangements I felt quite easy in
my mind, and waited on events. For some time, however, no attempt at
evading our vigilance was made.

One morning I was informed that the day was a sort of religious
festival, on which a certain rebel Raja, whose territory was on the
other side of the river, was accustomed to come with a considerable
following to the bank for the purpose of bathing in State; so Sandeman
and I betook ourselves to the police post opposite which the "tamasha"
was expected to take place. At that point the river was over a thousand
yards wide, far beyond the range of any weapons possessed by us, with
the exception of a double-barrelled Lancaster oval smoothbore of
my own, whose powers I proposed to try if I got the chance. I then
procured a couple of "charpoys," and sat upon one while I rigged the
other up in front of it, placing it upright on one of its sides in
such a manner as to afford an excellent and steady rest for my rifle.
Presently a couple of elephants with howdahs on their backs, and
surrounded by the usual rag-tag and bobtail which in those days was
inseparable from a native magnate, emerged from some trees on the other
side of the river, and slowly moved down to it with much waving of
"chowries" and beating of "tom-toms."

While the elephants were splashing in the water I drew a bead on the
biggest of them, and fired. The bullet sped through the air. Whether
it hit the elephant or not I cannot say; but the effect of its arrival
on the hitherto festive scene was quite ludicrous. With one accord did
both elephants and their attendants turn tail and scamper out of the
water, and up the bank into the shelter of the trees, followed by a
messenger from the other barrel, which I despatched to hasten their
movements. The angry Raja now replied to my insults with half-a-dozen
matchlock bullets, which fell harmlessly into the water about half way
across; but he did not venture to resume his interrupted bath, and very
soon departed _re infecta_.

After he had gone I observed a couple of large "country" boats lying
under the opposite bank, and offered a reward to some villagers if they
would go across and get them, while I promised to drive off with the
rifle, whose wonderful range they had just witnessed, any assailants
who might try to interfere with them. A few manjees (boatmen)
volunteered for the job, and, by wading in shallow parts and swimming
in deeper ones, soon succeeded in crossing the river, each of them
taking with him a long bamboo pole. They took possession of the boats
without being molested, and had got them half way across to our side
when a few matchlock men appeared, running along beside the river and
firing at them. A couple of shots from the Lancaster, however, very
quickly persuaded them to take themselves out of its reach; and the
boats were at length safely moored under the protection of the police
picquet.

It was not often that anything of interest happened, and the days
sometimes passed rather monotonously. On such occasions we would
occasionally beguile the time by getting one or other of the native
officers or men to relate their adventures when fighting against
"the Sirkar," which many of them had done at Moodkee, Chillianwalla,
Sobraon, and many another famous field, when the brave troops of the
Khalsa covered themselves with glory, and earned from their British
antagonists the respect which all soldiers entertain for "foemen worthy
of their steel."

One of the stories we thus heard fixed itself on my memory, and I
will endeavour to reproduce it. The narrator, a fine sturdy old Sikh
gentleman, had been persuaded to divulge the history of each of the
honourable scars which adorned his body, with the exception of one
which crossed the bridge of his nose, and rather spoiled its symmetry.
On my asking him whether that wound also was a memento of war, he
replied:--"Ah, Sahib! I cannot tell you that story. You would be angry
with me." "Angry with you," I said, "why should I be angry if, as I
suppose, you got the wound in honest fight against us? Even if you
killed the man who inflicted it, that was his luck. What is it to me?
Come! Tell us all about it." "Very well, Sahib, if you wish it and
will promise not to think the worse of me, I will tell you. This is
how it was. You have heard of the great battle at Chillianwalla, and
you know how fierce it was, and how stoutly the Sikhs of the Khalsa
fought that day. The Sirkar Angrez[6] claims the victory; but believe
me, Sahib, we won that fight. Did not the Jungie Lat Sahib[7] retire
from the field after the battle? Did not we capture four of your guns
and the standards of three of your regiments? Did not our horsemen
overthrow the Gora regiment and the Hindustani risala? Forgive me,
Sahib; but that is true; and if Shere Singh had, next day, pushed his
advantage, and had boldly attacked the shaken troops of the Sirkar, he
must have driven them clean out of the Punjab. At that time I was--as
I am now--a Sirdar; and commanded a tolee[8] of infantry of my own
people. At a certain moment of the battle we found ourselves opposed
at close quarters to a British battalion, which the fury of our fire
had temporarily checked: but if they hesitated, so did we. In vain did
I call on my men to throw away their muskets, and rush, sword in hand,
to the attack. Neither line dared advance; and neither would retire;
and there we knelt--for a dreadful minute or two--pouring a frightful
hail of fire into each other at less than a hundred yards. Both sides
were actually melting away under it. Such fearful stress could not
possibly last. One or other line was certain to give way. Whichever had
the courage to rush forward first was sure to win. Frantic were the
efforts of the officers of the Gora logue to urge on their men; but
in vain. Nothing could get them to move. Suddenly a young officer--so
young--he was but a smoothfaced, rosy-cheeked 'butcha'[9]--got beside
himself with excitement, and waving over his head his foolish little
'Regulation' blade, and shouting 'Hurrah!' 'Hurrah!' he sprang forward
quite alone, and flew at me like a madman; and almost before I could
see what he was doing, smote me across the face. Poor boy! What could I
do! If I had not protected myself he would have run me through the body
with his thin spit of a sword. So I had to smite with my keen tulwar,
and smite hard. Next moment the Gora logue were upon us, roaring like
tigers, and we were swept away before them. I remember the rush, the
clash of steel, and then nothing more. I became _behosh_.[10] When I
recovered my senses I found my head bleeding, and a great lump on the
top of it; but no other wound except the cut on my nose. I suppose I
must have been knocked down by a clubbed musket. Night had fallen, and
the field was deserted except by the dead and dying, and by gangs of
plunderers. I stumbled along for a _kos_ or two, helped by some of our
own people whom I met on the way; and then I found myself once more in
safety in the camp of Shere Singh. You are not angry, Sahib! What could
I do? That boy would have killed me. Every one must protect his own
life."

Thus, with mingled grief and pride, did we listen to the story of how
"somebody's darling" had died for his country's honour.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] English Government.

[7] Commander-in-Chief.

[8] Squad.

[9] Youngster.

[10] Senseless.



VII.
DILKHOOSHA.


While we lay in that camp keeping guard over the river we were joined
by another young officer, and an incident occurred to all three of us
which was, to say the least, mysterious. Our _bawarchi_, or cook, was a
Hindustani Musalman, and we had every reason to be satisfied with his
culinary performances, till one morning after breakfast, when both of
my companions who had sat down to that meal in perfect health and with
hearty appetites, suffered from sudden nausea. As I was not similarly
affected, and had eaten the same food with them, it did not occur to
us to suspect foul play. However, the same thing happened more than
once; and at last, on one occasion, we were all three violently sick
almost immediately after our morning repast. This was altogether too
suspicious: so, since a careful inspection of our copper pots and
pans showed that they were not in fault, having been recently tinned,
we came to the conclusion that an attempt was being made to poison us.
Here was a pretty state of affairs. If we dismissed the _bawarchi_ it
was hopeless to think of getting a substitute for him. We should have
had to starve, or trust to the hospitality of our men for _chapatties_,
such as they themselves eat. Something had to be done, however, and
this is what we did. A sentry was placed over the cook during the
time that he was engaged in preparing our food, and he was ordered to
keep a sharp eye on that individual, and to confiscate and bring to
me any condiment or other material which he might propose to use that
was not manifestly harmless. These were not the orders which the cook
thought were given to the sentry. He was, with much emphasis, given
to understand that the Sikh who stood over him with a naked _tulwar_
had been directed to smite off his head the moment he detected any
suspicious act; and as he knew that nothing would please the grim
disciple of Nanuk better than to carry out such instructions at the
expense of a follower of the Arabian Prophet, his lot at once ceased to
be a happy one. In fact, it was very much the reverse, and it became
quite interesting to observe his proceedings under the terror of the
sword of Damocles, which now hung over him. With his sleeves carefully
rolled up above his elbows he squatted before the three small sloping
hollows in the ground with sides and backs of stones, which formed his
kitchen range, and carried on his operations in fear and trembling;
for close behind him stood the vigilant Sikh. Whenever he glanced
upwards he could not avoid seeing the blue steel of the sharp curved
blade; and sometimes the sentry, willing to amuse himself, would frown
wickedly, and peer into a _degchi_ as if he detected something wrong.
At such critical moments the wretched creature would fairly grin with
fright, as with chattering teeth and supplicating hands he resigned
himself to the worst. Then would the scowling Sikh growl out a gruff
_khabardar!_[11] and tell him to go on with his work.

Our suspicions may have been unjust; and the fact may have been only
a coincidence. Nevertheless it _was_ a fact that no more unpleasant
symptoms attacked any of us after our meals. On the whole, we thought
it fair to give the cook the benefit of the doubt; and we seized the
first opportunity of dispensing with his services.

We were beginning to flatter ourselves that the watch on the Ganges
kept by our police auxiliaries was altogether too stringent for the
enterprise of the rebels; but we were mistaken. It so happened that
one morning Sandeman and I rode round the picquets together. For
some distance all was apparently quiet on the river; and no report
of anything unusual was made by any of the police posts. We had just
arrived close to one of them, when to our astonishment we suddenly came
upon the broad and fresh track of a considerable number of horses
and camels, clearly marked on the soft wet soil, and leading inland
from the river straight past and immediately under the high ground on
which the picquet was posted. We could hardly believe our eyes. It was
quite clear that within a few hours a crossing had been effected by
some two or three hundred mounted men, right under the noses of the
police, upon whose fidelity I had been instructed to rely, and who had
carefully concealed the fact from me, if they had not actively aided
the rebels. As soon as we struck the trail we followed it across the
sand to the point where it emerged from the river, which at that point
was not very wide. We were immediately greeted by a musket shot from a
man half-concealed among the rushes on the opposite shore, and who must
have been a very indifferent marksman, for he missed us. As he repeated
his performance in less time than he could possibly have reloaded,
we judged that another musket must have been handed to him by a
confederate more effectually hidden than himself; and as we could not
tell how many more might be skulking in the thick cover, we considered
it expedient to retire from his neighbourhood, after having replied to
his civilities with our revolvers, of course ineffectually. We then
went up to the police post, and my first step was to disarm and make
prisoners of the whole eleven men composing it; for their treachery was
self-evident, and demanded no further enquiry.

There was a large village near by, and in it we found a man suffering
from a gun-shot wound, which he said had been wantonly inflicted by
one of the rebels as they passed the place early that morning. This
was corroborated by other inhabitants of the village, so I considered
myself justified in desiring the chief local representative of civil
authority, who styled himself a Tahsildar, to accompany me to our camp,
where I proposed to take care of him till higher authority should
enquire into the propriety of his conduct in not sending me word of
what had happened.

In the meantime I wrote with a pencil on some leaves torn out of my
note book a short report to Sir John Inglis, commanding at Cawnpore, in
which I detailed the circumstances proving the treachery of the police,
and suggested that, if possible, they should be replaced by a military
force. I also stated that since it was quite evident, both from the
appearance of the track and from the testimony of the villagers, that
the crossing had been effected in the early dawn, I considered it
useless to make any attempt to pursue the party of rebels, who were
said to be under the leadership of the Bala Rao, and to be making for
Calpee, a place which, having several hours' start, they must already
have nearly reached. I concluded by asking for orders as to the
disposal of my prisoners; and sent off the despatch at once to Cawnpore.

On our way to camp the Tahsildar met with an accident, which, though
serious enough at the time, very possibly saved his neck. He was
riding a vicious country-bred over whom he had very imperfect control,
and who backed into my horse with the result of causing a violent
kicking match, at the end of which the unfortunate man found himself on
the broad of his back on the ground with a broken leg. I jumped off,
and found that both bones were broken half way between the knee and
the ankle. No medical aid was available nearer than Cawnpore; so I had
to do the best I could for him on the spot. I therefore cut some stems
of _bajra_, or some similar crop which was growing close by; and then,
placing myself on the ground before him and getting a purchase with one
foot against his body, I laid hold of the injured limb by the ankle and
hauled on it with all my strength till I had got the broken surfaces
opposite each other, where other hands placed them in position. A
portion of his turban was now wrapped next the skin, then a number of
the sticks were laid close together all round the leg, and kept fast
by cords; and we had rough and ready splints, which answered their
purpose admirably. The patient was now carried on a _charpoy_ back to
his own house, where, after many days, he was seen to by a medical
officer who dressed the limb in orthodox fashion, and who declared
the original operation had been perfectly successful. I never heard
that this Tahsildar had been hanged, as I have little doubt he would
have been, if compassion for his crippled condition had not prevented
me from pressing the case against him. The ten police men and their
_Thanadar_ were not so fortunate. A special officer was sent out by Sir
John Inglis with full power to enquire into and dispose of their case.
To him I explained the arrangements which I had made for watching the
river. I showed him the track of the rebel party where it passed within
fifty yards of the picquet. His investigation was over in an hour; and
at the end of it he sentenced the whole eleven culprits to suffer death
as the reward of their treason, and hanged them on one tree. He also
informed me that he would report that all my arrangements had been
judicious, and that no blame could attach to me or my men.

No further attempt was made by the rebels to cross the river; and
indeed none would have been practicable, for General Walpole's Brigade
had been moved up the road from Cawnpore, and effectually blocked the
way. My party was, however, not relieved; but was allowed to remain
where it was; and, as the days rolled on, seemed likely to become
a fixture. We began to be apprehensive that we might be overlooked
altogether, while preparations were being made by Sir Colin Campbell
for the final advance upon Lucknow--a prospect that was far from
pleasing--but it was not easy to see how it could be averted. In this
perplexity I sought counsel from the Colonel of a regiment which passed
our camp on its way to Cawnpore, and who, with some of his officers,
lunched with us. He advised me to write to Major-General Mansfield,
the Chief of the Staff, and bring our existence to his notice, telling
him how long we had been detached from the regiment, which was now
at the Alumbagh, and which would, if we were allowed to rejoin it,
obtain an accession to its strength of three British officers and fifty
sabres. "You will certainly get a wigging," said he, "but it is just
possible that your party is really overlooked, and that your letter may
effect what you wish. At any rate, a bold horseman must sometimes ride
for a fall, if he hopes to get over a stiff place."

I thankfully took his advice and acted on it, and I certainly got the
fall he had anticipated; for in due course came an oblong official
letter from a staff officer of the Chief of the Staff--not by any means
from the great man himself. In that document I was very deservedly
rebuked for my presumption in having written direct to the Chief of
the Staff, who, I was informed, was not in the habit of corresponding
with junior subalterns as to the movements of their detachments. This
"awful warning" I pinned conspicuously on the cloth wall of my tent,
where to my mingled amusement and trepidation it was soon afterwards
seen by the very officer who had written it. Whatever he may have
thought of my flippant treatment of his effusion, he made no remarks,
and shortly thereafter my detachment was relieved from its post and
ordered back to Cawnpore. There I had the good fortune to be attached
to the cavalry of Sir Colin Campbell's army, and to march with it
towards Lucknow; and such was my luck that, on the 2nd March 1858,
when the Commander-in-Chief attacked and captured the high ground at
Dilkhoosha dominating the City, I actually found myself in command of
the advanced party of the advanced guard; for that was the position of
my troop that day. Immediately in rear of it was a squadron of the 9th
Lancers, followed by more cavalry and by horse artillery. As we passed
the Alumbagh where the head-quarters of our regiment were encamped,
I well remember how delighted I felt to think that after all we had
stolen a march upon it, and that--not to count that midnight affair
near Unao--our troop was to have the honour of being the first to go
into action. Well also do I remember the wistful look on the face of
my gallant commanding officer, the late Captain Wale, as he watched us
pass, and wished us good luck. We all knew that a fight was before us;
and it did seem uncommonly hard on the regiment that, after having so
long been posted at the very front, it should at the last moment be
left, "_planté la_," by a detachment which had, so to speak, sneaked up
from the rear.

When the head of the column had got about midway between the Alumbagh
and Dilkhoosha a halt was sounded; and we took the opportunity of
making a rapid breakfast of such eatables as we had stowed away in our
holsters. During this period a disagreeable drizzling shower of rain
did what it could to damp our spirits as well as our bodies; but when
we again moved on it had ceased; having laid the dust for us, and given
us a cool, pleasant day fit for a review.

Cautiously and steadily we felt our way, covered by half the troop
in extended order, commanded by Lieutenant Sandeman, who summarily
brushed out of our road sundry small bodies of hostile horsemen whom
he encountered. My half troop was in support, and when the skirmishing
began we pushed on and joined in the fun. Through orchards and
plantations with occasional open fields an intermittent series of
little fights was kept up as we continued our advance.

Suddenly, just as we emerged from a grove of trees on to an open
plain, a distant puff of smoke followed by a loud report and then by
the well-known hoarse hiss of a round shot as it tore through the air
above us, gave unmistakable notice that the ball had begun. Another
shot fell short, hit the ground in front of us, and then ricoched over
our heads to the rear. Another and another in quick succession passed
harmlessly. While this was going on I had instinctively taken ground
to the right to make room for the troops which I knew would be pushed
forward. The squadron of the 9th Lancers followed my example--a troop
of horse artillery thundered up from the rear--more cavalry galloped
out to the left of the guns--and, like magic, a line was formed to
the front, the guns in the centre, with cavalry on both flanks. A
trumpet sounded the "advance," and the "gallop," and away we swept
over the plain, straight for the enemy's position, under a furious
fire, too furious and rapid, fortunately, to do us much mischief. One
round shot smote a man of the 9th Lancers full in the face. His head
disappeared into space. In a few moments we were within a hundred yards
of the enemy, still frantically blazing away at us. Here we came to a
halt; and our own guns, with the astonishing swiftness which is the
admiration of all other branches of the army, unlimbered and came
into action. Very different was their practice from that of the rebel
artillery. Equally rapid, but with calm regularity, working like parts
of a perfect machine, gun after gun, carefully and accurately laid,
pounded away at the opposing battery, and with almost instantaneously
overpowering effect. A very few rounds, and the fire of the enemy
slackened away, and soon nearly ceased altogether.

While this artillery duel was going on I had a good opportunity of
observing the effect of what is popularly known as "blue funk" on a
young recruit. He was in the rear rank; and while the excitement of
galloping to the front lasted, had kept his place among his comrades;
but to sit still within a hundred yards of guns belching out smoke and
noise and round shot was more than his nerves were equal to; and he
began--half unconsciously, I daresay--to pull on his horse's head and
gradually back him out of the ranks. This would never do! Example is
catching, so I galloped round behind him and used language calculated
to bring him to his senses, but without effect. With his mouth
half-open and his eyes starting out of his head he continued to stare
at the terrifying guns, greeting each explosion with a horrified little
groan; and all the time he kept backing his horse on to me. I was
obliged to put an end to this. In another moment he would have bolted
and disgraced us all--possibly infected some of his comrades with his
own panic. For the last time I shouted that I would run my sword into
him if he did not "dress up." He took no heed; and I lunged at him with
all my force. His luck saved him. He had a small buffalo-hide buckler
hanging from his left shoulder; and instinctively he twisted half round
and caught the point of my sword in it, and there it stuck. The more
I pulled and the worse language I used, the less would it come out;
and I am afraid the string of words with which I expressed my disgust
must have been far from discreetly chosen, when behind me a voice
exclaimed:--"Who commands this party?" Looking round, the unfortunate
recruit's panic was nothing to what mine became, when I saw the stern
face of the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Colin Campbell. Caught in the act
of trying to kill one of my own men, visions of a court-martial--of the
loss of my commission--swam before me, as with one despairing effort
I wrenched the blade out of the buckler, and, dropping its point to
the Chief, stammered out my defence. "I really couldn't help it, Sir?
He was showing the white feather. I was afraid he would bolt." To my
intense relief the grim features relaxed into a smile. "Never mind,"
said Sir Colin, "you were quite right. They are trying to carry off
some of their guns to the right front. Gallop after them and catch
them." It may be imagined I lost no time in carrying out that order and
placing as great a distance as possible between me and His Excellency.
My young recruit came too, and afterwards behaved very well. He turned
out a good soldier after that "baptism of fire." A hard gallop soon
brought us up with the flying enemy, who were "pounded" by a big ditch,
where they abandoned the guns and took to their heels, but too late to
save themselves. Here I had rather a narrow escape from abruptly ending
my military experiences. Two "Pandies," whom I was pursuing, suddenly
turned round and stood at bay, and almost simultaneously lashed at me
with their _tulwars_ as I charged between them. The man on the right
brought his sword down on my head, fortunately protected by a thick
"puggari," many folds of which it divided, and then glanced down on
to my horse's shoulder, inflicting a long and deep wound. At the same
moment I delivered a swinging cut on his own cranium which was covered
by a small skull cup. That settled him effectually; but I had barely
time to throw my sword round and receive on it a sweeping blow from
the fellow on my left, which partially overpowered my guard and landed
on my ribs, luckily much diminished in force; so that I escaped with
a trifling flesh wound. He did not get another chance; for I dropped
the point of my blade and ran him through the body. I was well out of
that scrimmage, but my unlucky horse was quite disabled; so I had to
dismount and entrust him to the care of one of my men, whose animal I
borrowed for the rest of the day; and a very poor exchange I found it,
both as regards charger and saddle.

I feel I must interrupt my narrative to beg the reader's indulgence
for the introduction of descriptions of some of the adventures which
happened to me personally. I trust he may believe that it is not due
to any foolish desire to pose before him; nor to a wish, in the words
of Mr. Wardle's fat boy, "to make his flesh creep;" but simply because
I want to make these sketches as graphic as I can; and it seems to me
that the effect would be to wash the colour out of them if I were to
divest them of every touch of personal interest. In campaigns like
those of the Mutiny in which our irregular cavalry was so freely
used and played so important a part, hand-to-hand conflict was much
more frequent than in ordinary wars. In fact, every officer of that
branch had numberless opportunities of testing his skill at arms; for
skirmishes were often of almost daily occurrence; and in each skirmish
he carried his life literally at the point of his sword. To resume: A
few minutes afterwards another adventure of a "touch and go" nature
befell me. In a _mêlée_ a brother officer had singled out a rebel foot
soldier, and was hotly striving to cut him down, but his antagonist
with bayonet fixed kept him at bay, and had just brought his musket
to his shoulder to fire, when most luckily in the very nick of time
I saw what was going on, and charged the Pandy, who, disconcerted by
the sudden attack, hurriedly attempted to shift his aim on to me, but
ineffectually. As he pulled the trigger his bullet sped harmlessly past
my face, while I brought the edge of my sword down on his skull with
such good will that it clave in two, and he fell dead. That fortunate
interference in an unequally matched _combat à deux_ probably saved
from an untimely ending a life which has since proved of the highest
value and usefulness, while it preserved to me a dear comrade and
lifelong friend. Among the most cherished of my possessions is the
sword which he gave me as a memento of the affair.

The resistance offered by the enemy to Sir Colin's advance was not
sufficiently serious to check it; and in fact no deployment of his
troops was necessary. The heads of his columns steadily moved forward
and gradually approached the position on the high ground which he had
decided to occupy as affording the best point from which to carry out
his plans for the subjugation of Lucknow.

While my troop was moving up a slope close to the Dilkhoosha we were
suddenly gratified by the sight of a body of horse, about forty or
fifty strong, which appeared in line on the crest of it coming towards
us at a walk. The French-grey uniforms of this squad left no doubt
as to its belonging to one of the old regular regiments; and my hopes
rose high that now we were to have an opportunity of wiping out some of
the disgrace which their treason had brought upon all who had belonged
to their branch of the service of Old John Company: but the cowards
declined to give us the chance.

"Threes about" they went the moment they saw us, and immediately
disappeared, hidden from us by the rising ground. It may be imagined
that we lost no time in driving in our spurs and galloping after them:
but when we arrived at the top of the slope they had made such good
use of their horses' legs that they were already far away, pelting
along, in clouds of dust, over the plain below, and heading for a ford
across the Goomti river, into which they presently plunged. The hurry
they were in was good to see, as was their complete indifference to
any pretence at keeping any sort of formation. Evidently they realised
that this was no time to be hampered by pedantic adherence to "drill."
Such mechanical regularity of movement might be all very well for
the parade-ground; but in real soldiering, such as this, "individual
initiative" must take its place. In they went, by twos and threes, just
as they came to the ford, and floundered across: but at this juncture
a couple of guns of ours opened on them, and made their passage very
uncomfortable; for those who were not knocked out of their saddles got
drenched by the splash of the projectiles. Once across, they continued
their career at best speed for another mile or two before drawing rein.
On the whole, I do not think they enjoyed that morning's ride very
much.

FOOTNOTE:

[11] Beware.



VIII.
LUCKNOW.


A story is told of the behaviour of a company of Native Infantry on
the establishment of a sister Presidency, which I may be pardoned for
reproducing here, since it may be new to some of my readers.

The company in question was performing an uncommonly rapid movement to
the rear, to get away from an undesirable neighbourhood, when a British
officer, who tried to stop the stampede, roared after it Halt! Halt!
Halt! At this a fat old Subadar, who was doing his best to keep up with
his command, indignantly spluttered out as he scuttled along, puffing
and blowing--"Kaun guddha halt bolta hai? Yih halt ka wakt nahin hai!"
"What ass says halt! This is no time to halt." Down in Madras that
story, if known, is doubtless put to the credit of a Bengal regiment,
and probably with equal truth. _Si non e vero e ben trovato_--which
must be my excuse for repeating it.

During this morning's work I happened to come across a British
soldier--I think of the 9th Lancers--who had been wounded, but not very
seriously, though sufficiently to cripple him. He was lying patiently
under a tree waiting for the hospital establishment to come up and
find him; and when I asked if I could do anything for him, he said he
was suffering agonies from thirst, and would give anything for a drink
of water. "Would you prefer beer?" I asked. "Oh, Sir," he replied,
"don't make game of me." His face was delightful to see when I lugged
out of one of my holsters a pint bottle of "Bass" which I had stowed
in it according to my invariable practice, and knocked off its head by
sliding my sword against it. The grateful fellow tried hard to make me
drink half of it; but I could not resist the temptation of watching
him swallow it to the last drop. When I presented him with a better
Manilla cheroot than he had probably ever smoked in his life before,
he began, I really believe, to think he was dreaming, and that such
strange luck could not be real.

Before the evening of the next day a huge canvas city had sprung up
in rear of the Dilkhoosha Palace. "The Cabul scale equipment" had
not been invented in those days; and even subalterns luxuriated in
large, old-fashioned hill tents, ten or twelve feet square, while the
British soldiers were lodged in roomy-double-poled affairs; so that
an encampment took up a deal more room than would now be required. No
wonder that Sir Colin's army of fighting men was hampered by a much
larger one of helpless camp-followers, of which Dr. Russell, the famous
war correspondent, thus wrote:--"Who really can bring before his mind's
eye a train of baggage animals twenty-five miles long, a string of
sixteen thousand camels, a siege-train park covering a space of four
hundred by four hundred yards, with twelve thousand oxen attached to
it, and a following of sixty thousand non-combatants."

Sir Colin Campbell lost no time in pushing on the siege, for it
practically began on the 2nd March, the day that he reached the
Dilkhoosha. I well remember watching with admiration the brilliant
performance of the Naval Brigade, the blue jackets of the _Shannon_,
under the heroic Captain Peel, as they pushed forward to a position
in front of the Palace, where, on the open ground sloping downwards
towards the Martinière, without a vestige of cover, they planted
their guns, and commenced a fierce reply to the cannonade of the
rebels from the huge defensive earthworks which they had thrown up on
the south-east of the City. Our gallant old Chief was far too wise,
however, to throw his whole weight against these terrible lines of
defence till he had discounted their value by the simple yet effective
device of a turning movement, that old-established favourite with all
great commanders. To carry out this design Sir James Outram was sent
across the Goomti, near Bibiapore, on the 6th of March, with a very
strong force of all arms, which fought its way up the left bank of the
river, driving the enemy before it, till, on the 9th, it had reached a
position whence it successfully enfiladed the rebel lines of defence.

Now was Sir Colin able to advance without the enormous sacrifice of
life which otherwise would have been inevitable. That day the Black
Watch stormed the Martinière at the point of the bayonet without
firing a shot. The day after, "Banks' House" was seized and promptly
fortified; and from this coign of vantage, step by step, deliberately
and irresistibly, did our Engineers and Artillery sap and breach the
way for our infantry through block after block of buildings, till by
the 21st of March every palace, mosque and walled enclosure in Lucknow
had been carried, and the entire City was in our hands.

While this was being accomplished, my regiment had formed part of a
Brigade under Brigadier W. Campbell, which marched round the City,
past the Alumbagh, to a position opposite the Moosabagh, with the view
of cutting off the escape of the rebels when they should be driven
out of the town by the bayonets of the Infantry. During this movement
we met with desultory opposition, and lost several lives; but we came
across no large masses of the enemy; and there can be no doubt that
thousands of them slipped through our fingers and effected their
escape, to re-unite later on and prolong into the rapidly approaching
"hot weather" a struggle which, if we had been more fortunate,
would have been ended there and then. At the same time, in justice
to Brigadier Campbell, it must be remembered that the semi-circle
traversed by him was of great extent--probably more than thirty
miles--and it needs no great effort of imagination to conceive how
difficult was the task of preventing, with a small Brigade of Cavalry
and Horse Artillery, so long a line from being penetrated by bodies of
fugitives at one point or another, even by day, still more under cover
of night.

I was much struck during this march by an instance of heroism on the
part of two village matchlockmen which deserves record, and which, if
it had been performed by natives of a European country in defence of
their homes, would have been sung by poets in patriotic ballads, and
would have earned for the brave actors an immortality of applause.

The scouts of the advanced guard were approaching a very broad deep
"nullah" which I had been ordered to reconnoitre with the view of
finding a practicable way across it for our guns. On the level plain
behind us, under the bright sun, moved slowly onwards the strong
body of Cavalry, of which we were merely the forerunners. Beyond the
"nullah," nestled among its fields and mango groves a small village,
from which emerged two tall peasants, clad in their usual white cotton
working clothes, each of them carrying a matchlock.

With the utmost deliberation these two men approached the ravine, and,
lying down in a sheltered hollow, opened fire on us. They could have
been under no illusions as to their chances of escape. They saw that
they were two against two thousand. They knew that their puny effort
to stop us was hopeless; but yet they did all they could, and devoted
themselves to death in defence of the brown mud walls which held their
household gods. In vain we shouted to them that we did not intend to
harm their village--that we were going past it, and would not enter it.
They evidently did not believe us; and continued to load and fire with
as much expedition as their long, clumsy, tinder-locks allowed them.
They were sure to hit some of us in time: so we were obliged to scatter
and cross the nullah at different points, and "fall upon them with the
edge of the sword."

When the final great eruption of the rebels from the Moosabagh took
place on the 21st March, Brigadier Campbell was undoubtedly caught
napping. It was not till many thousands of the enemy had streamed
out and had already crossed miles of country that the Brigade was
slipped in pursuit. The first to get under way were two troops of the
1st Sikh Irregulars under Captain the Hon'ble Hugh Chichester, with
whom Lieutenant Sandeman and I were sent. We galloped for several
miles without coming across more than a few scattered groups, and
were beginning to think that the reported flight of the "Pandies"
was a false alarm, when suddenly the numbers of the fugitives began
to increase, and presently we were in the thick of them. With the
exception of a few men of rank on elephants, they were all on foot.
Their horsemen had got clean away from us. Our progress now became less
rapid, for we were engaged in a series of "scrimmages," and before
long the rest of the regiment came up, as did the 7th Hussars and the
Military Train.

Late as we were in catching up the rebels, we yet inflicted great
slaughter on them, with hardly any damage to ourselves till late in
the day, almost at the end of the pursuit, when our regiment suffered
an irreparable loss, which will be presently narrated.

We had, as usual in similar affairs, got broken up into small groups
and single individuals, when I noticed on my left front a sturdy
rascal, seemingly, from his dress, a dismounted cavalry soldier,
stalking along, with a musket on his shoulder, sullenly disdaining to
run. Him I marked for my prey and dashed after: but when I got within
a few yards of him he faced about and covered me with his musket,
expressing himself at the same time in very forcible terms of abuse
and defiance. This uncompromising attitude on his part made me think
it would be more prudent to shoot than to attempt to sabre him: so I
wheeled off to the left and circled round him to the right, returned my
sword, and drew my revolver. All this time he held his ground, slowly
turning on his pivot, and never ceasing to follow my movements with
his aim; but he reserved his fire, for no doubt he coolly reflected
that, if he missed me, he would be at my mercy. Every barrel of my
revolver did I empty at him, and every time without hitting him.
Between his legs--under his arms--past his head--flew my bullets, till
the whole six were expended. Nothing remained but to gallop away to a
safe distance, re-load, and renew the experiment, or else to trust to
my sword and charge him. I dare say that if there had been no witnesses
about I would have chosen the former alternative: but there were many
men of the regiment close by, and sheer shame prevented me; so I
returned the useless pistol, drew my sword, and with my heart in my
mouth went straight at him at full speed. As I raised my arm to smite,
he pulled the trigger. Bending myself half out of the saddle on the
near side I escaped the bullet, and delivered on his head with all my
force a cut which dropped him to the ground. Though mortally wounded
he was not dead; and he fumbled in his _cummerbund_ for a revolver
which was sticking out of it; so I dismounted, and as he--dazed and
blinded--pulled the pistol out of his waist-cloth, I seized his wrist
and directed his aim harmlessly into the air. I then wrenched the
weapon from his grasp and used another barrel of it to put him out of
his pain. That revolver was subsequently identified as having belonged
to an officer named Thackwell, if my memory serves me right, who had
been killed in the City a few days previously when separated from his
comrades.

Some little time after this incident I saw a small group of fugitives
far away on our left, making for a walled village, and it occurred to
me to try a long shot at them with my Lancaster rifle, which was always
carried by my orderly on a belt slung over his shoulder; so I turned
round and asked for it, but the orderly was not to be seen, and some of
the other men said:--"Don't you know, Sahib, that your orderly has been
killed?" "Killed!" I exclaimed. "When? Has he not been following me all
along?" Then, for the first time, I learned that the faithful fellow,
who must have been close at my heels when I charged the sepoy, but of
whose presence in my excitement I had been totally oblivious, had been
hit in the chest by the bullet which I had so narrowly escaped and had
been seen to fall. I could not then return to the fatal spot, but I
sent a couple of men back at once to find the poor fellow, and, if he
should be still alive, to get a doolie and carry him to the hospital
tent in camp.

For several miles we kept up the pursuit till we had apparently
exhausted the lead--to use a miner's term--on which we had struck. We
were about to give up the chase, when, from the far side of a ravine, a
solitary fugitive fired his musket at a group of our officers. He must
have aimed at the one who, from his full brown beard and apparent age,
seemed to him the most important and most likely to be the commander.
That shot cost us the life of our brave Commanding Officer. The gallant
Captain Wale fell, mortally wounded by two slugs, one of which passed
through his beard into his throat, the other into his mouth. He was
instantly avenged, for, as the rebel sepoy turned to fly, he also
fell dead, hit in the spine by a bullet from the revolver of Captain
Chichester.

In a few minutes, to the deep grief of his officers and men, by whom he
was loved as few Commanding Officers are ever loved, poor Wale breathed
his last. A doolie was sent for from the rear, his body placed in it
and reverently carried back to camp. Sick at heart, I now sought the
place where my unfortunate orderly had met his fate. My worst fears
were realized. He was dead. His body had not been disturbed by the men
whom I had sent to find him, and he was lying on his back, the rifle
underneath him, with a hole through the leather sling just where it
crossed over the heart. Close by lay the corpse of the sepoy.

Very sad was our return to camp that day. I had no sooner placed before
my tent the doolie in which was the body of my poor orderly than his
father, a fine old Sikh, who also was a sowar in the regiment, and who,
having remained in camp on that occasion, was in complete ignorance of
our losses, came up to me with a smile on his handsome old face to ask
after his son. My heart was too full to speak. I could only point to
the doolie, the curtains of which were closed. Lifting one of them up,
he looked in and knew his bereavement. The proud old soldier set his
face hard, drew himself up, saluted me, and said:--"My son's 'nokri'
(service) is over. Let me take his place. I will be your orderly now,
Sahib." I am not ashamed to say that this touching act of simple,
unaffected Spartan fortitude completely unmanned me.

The remains of the brave Captain Wale rest in the Moosabagh, a walled
garden which formerly belonged to the Nawabs of Oudh, but which was
confiscated from Wajid Ali, the last of that race, by the British
Government. The massive walls and towers and gateways of the erst
Royal pleasance are now rapidly crumbling into ruins. The huge garden
which once bloomed within them is now a wilderness of thorns and jungle
trees, interspersed with ill-kept patches of cultivation. Everything
speaks of decay and neglect, except the tomb itself and its little
walled enclosure, which I was glad to find on the 4th of January, 1891
in perfect repair, and shewing evident signs of careful attention
on the part of the district authorities. About a furlong beyond the
fourth milestone on the Lucknow-Bareilly road, and about a mile to the
right, is the Moosabagh, in which, under the spreading arms of a fine
old mango tree, will be found the solitary tomb, bearing on it the
following inscription:--

  "Sacred to the memory of Captain F. Wale, who raised and commanded
  the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry. Killed in action at Lucknow on the
  1st March, 1858. This monument is erected by Captain L. B. Jones,
  Acting Commandant of the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry, as a token
  of regard for this officer, whom he admired both as a friend and
  soldier. Captain Wale lived and died a Christian Soldier."

The original designation of the 1st Sikh Irregular Cavalry has
disappeared from the _Army List_. It is now known as the 11th (Prince
of Wales' Own) Bengal Lancers. While that distinguished regiment
continues to exist--and may that be as long as the British Empire
itself!--will be imperishably associated with its annals the first name
inscribed on its muster-roll, that of its Founder and first Commander,
the gallant Captain Wale.



IX.
A HERO'S DEATH.


Not long after following to the grave the remains of my beloved
Commanding Officer, I was so unfortunate as to be prostrated by a
severe attack of remittent fever, and to be sent on six months' sick
leave to the hills.

Before closing these brief memoirs I must fulfil my promise of relating
how my dear comrade and former Commanding Officer, Captain Sanford,
lost his life.

He had succeeded the gallant Younghusband, who had been killed shortly
before at Futtehgarh, in the command of a detachment of the 5th Punjab
Cavalry, which formed part of the Mounted Brigade under Sir Hope Grant,
and was attached to Sir James Outram's force during the operations
in March, 1858 on the left bank of the Goomti. On the 10th of March,
while the Cavalry Brigade was returning from a reconnaissance, it was
fired on by a small group of rebels. Sir Hope Grant ordered Captain
Sanford to attack these men; but before he could overtake them they had
reached the shelter of a village which Sanford decided to reconnoitre
personally before taking his men into it. He therefore dismounted them
and left them outside, while he penetrated into the place without a
single companion. He climbed on to the flat roof of a house, and moved
forward to a low wall which separated it from the roof of the next
house. Over that wall he must have vaulted, when he found himself
confronted by the loopholes of a higher building within a few yards of
him. From these loopholes a volley flashed, and he fell, struck by a
bullet in the forehead. Thus ended a life which till that moment had
seemed a charmed one. Always utterly reckless of his own safety, while
considerate of others to a fault--a magnificent horseman--a finished
master of swordsmanship--he had hitherto triumphantly and gaily carried
his life through a hundred perils. His first wound was his last. The
day before he fell he had read in the _Gazette_ the announcement of his
promotion to a brevet majority for distinguished service before Delhi:
and doubtless his heart was full of soldierly pride and of hope of
yet more brilliant honour when the fatal bullet suddenly and for ever
stilled it.

As he did not return, the worst was feared; and a gallant young officer
volunteered to go in search of him. With him went two of Sanford's men.
They followed the route which he had taken, but had no sooner got on
to the top of the house than another volley laid low both the sowars,
killing one and wounding the other. The officer immediately dragged the
wounded man off the house, and then returned and brought away the body
of his comrade. Once more he started on his heroic errand, accompanied
by two fresh volunteers. During the previous brief episode he had
noticed that the loopholes in the high building were so cut that the
muzzles of the muskets of its occupants could not be depressed at a
very acute angle. He now left his two men at the foot of the wall of
the house, and himself climbed on to the roof. Throwing himself flat on
his stomach, he crawled up to the low partition-wall beyond which lay
Captain Sanford's body. As he vaulted over this and again threw himself
flat, a volley was fired, but missed him. His surmise proved to have
been correct. While he lay prone the muskets of the rebels could not be
depressed so as to hit him: so he crept up to the body, and, dragging
it with him, reached the low wall. Exerting all his strength, he
hoisted it over, and fell with it on the other side, escaping unscathed
from the hurried fusillade which pursued him. In a few seconds he was
once more in safety with his sacred burden. Then ensued a smart little
fight. The village was stormed, and every one of the rebels in it was
killed. The young hero whose story I have told was recommended by Sir
Hope Grant for the Victoria Cross, which I have no doubt my readers
will agree with me in thinking he had well earned, but--it was not
awarded to him.

Though I was not an eye-witness of the events above described,
and cannot therefore vouch from personal knowledge for the strict
accuracy of all the details, the reader may perfectly rely on the main
correctness of the relation: for I have repeated it as it was told to
me at the time; and, deeply interested as I was in all that pertained
to the fate of so dear a friend as was Sanford to me, the story burnt
itself into my memory. Moreover, I have lately sought and obtained
satisfactory confirmation of it.

About a hundred and fifty yards to the right of the Lucknow-Fyzabad
road, and about a hundred yards beyond the bridge where that road
crosses the Gokral nullah, stands an obelisk in a small walled
enclosure. On a white marble tablet let in to the obelisk is the
following inscription:--"Beneath this monument rest the mortal remains
of Charles Sanford, late Captain of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry,
who, when gallantly leading a body of dismounted Punjab Cavalry in an
assault on a fortified place near Lucknow, on the 10th March, 1858, met
a soldier's death."

"Stranger: Respect the lonely resting-place of the brave!"

A slab on the wall of the enclosure records that it was consecrated by
the Right Reverend Ralph, Bishop of Calcutta, on the 17th of January,
1878.

Truely, a lonely resting-place for the ashes of a hero. A solitary tree
marks the spot on the bare brown plain, the desolate surface of which
is scored by small ravines trending down to the Gokral nullah. Not far
off is a village, probably the one where the gallant Sanford fell.
A broad cultivated valley, through which the tortuous Goomti river
rolls, like a huge snake, its sluggish folds, fills, to the south, the
foreground of the landscape. Beyond the fields, through the distant
haze, rise, embosomed among groves of trees, the domes and minarets of
Lucknow--a beautiful and placid scene--realising the Poet's vision of
a "haunt of ancient peace."

Such are now the surroundings of the sacred spot where, nearly
thirty-three years ago, was laid to rest, while the air was thick with
the smoke of battle, all that could die of the heroic Charles Sanford.



INDEX.


  A Hero's Death, 205.

  Agra, 104.

  Alipore, 56, 83.

  Alumbagh, 139, 175, 176, 193.

  Anson, General, 54, 55, 56.

  Azadpore, 67, 68, 69, 72, 88.


  Badle-ka-Serai, 102.

  Bagput, 56, 58, 59, 61, 63, 64, 65.

  Barnard, General, 57, 100.

  Before Delhi, 62.

  Bengal Lancers (11th), 136.

  Bengal Light Cavalry (3rd), 4, 15, 43.

  Bibiapore, 192.

  Black Watch, The, 192.


  Campbell, Brigadier, 10, 193, 196.

  Campbell, Sir Colin, 136, 139, 175, 181, 185, 191, 192.

  Carabineers, The, 7.

  Cardew, Brigadier-General, 139.

  Cawnpore, 139, 141, 142, 149, 150, 154, 170, 171, 173, 175.

  Chesney, Sir G. T., 101.

  Chester, Colonel, 57, 58.

  Chichester, Captain Hugh, 196, 200, 201.

  Chillianwalla, 159.

  Clarke, Lieutenant M., 13.

  Cotton, General Sydney, 32.

  Craigie, Captain, 11, 16, 17, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 64, 65.

  Custance, Colonel, 34.


  Delhi, 22, 32, 33, 34, 48, 49, 51, 55, 60, 62, 63, 66, 67, 71, 73, 76,
   78, 81, 83, 91, 92, 99, 100, 101, 103, 123, 124, 133, 134, 135, 137,
   207.

  Delhi, Chandni Chowk, 133.

  ---- King of, 4.

  ---- Kashmir Gate, 91, 93.

  ---- Lahore Gate, 89, 91, 98.

  ---- Observatory Tower, 78.

  ---- Storming of, 87.

  Dilkhoosha, 164, 175, 176, 185, 191.

  ---- Martinière, The, 191, 192.

  ---- Palace, 190.

  Dragoon Guards (6th), 7, 16, 20, 33.


  Fairlie, Major, 21.

  Ferozepore, 82, 84.

  Foot Regiment (60th), 7, 30, 31.

  Forrest, Annie, 52.

  Forrest, Eliza, 52.

  Forrest, Captain G., 51.

  Fraser, Major, 44.

  Futtehgarh, 205.


  Galloway, Lieutenant, 33.

  Gambier, Lieutenant H., 51.

  Goomti River, 192.

  Gough, Lieutenant Hugh, 48, 49, 50.

  Grant, Sir Hope, 89, 92, 205, 206, 208.

  Graves, Brigadier, 101.

  Greathead, Colonel Hervey, 101, 104.


  Hearsey, General, 32.

  Hewett, General, 6, 32, 33, 34, 44, 48, 52, 54, 62.

  Hindun Nuddee, 34, 43, 61, 62, 102.

  Hirchinpore, 50, 51.

  Hodson, Lieutenant, 54, 101, 104.

  Hoti Murdan, 67, 134.

  Howell, Captain, 57, 58.


  Inglis, Sir John, 141, 151, 170, 172.


  John Company, 4, 186.

  Jones, Captain L. B., 203.

  Jhujjur, 125, 127, 128, 132.

  ---- Capture of, 109.

  ---- Nawab of, 105, 125, 127, 132, 133.

  Jumma Musjid, 96, 100.


  Kaye, Sir John, 32, 83, 92, 93.

  Kingsford, Frederick, 47.

  Kissengunge, 90.

  Knyvett, Colonel, 51.

  Kurnal, 52, 55.


  Lahore, 49.

  Lawrence, Sir John, 82.

  Light, Major Alfred, 43, 45.

  Lucknow, 34, 139, 175, 185, 188, 191, 211.

  ---- _en route_ for, 134.


  Macdonell, Colonel, 140, 141, 142, 149, 152.

  Mansfield, Major-General, 174.

  Marshall, Provost, 56.

  Maunsell, Lieutenant, 101.

  May, 10th, 1857, 8, 62.

  Meerut, 4, 6, 22, 24, 32, 34, 35, 43, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56,
    57, 61, 62, 63, 85, 102, 104, 134.

  Metcalfe, Sir John, 124.

  Mogal Empire, 4.

  Moodkee, 159.

  Moree Bastion, 86.

  Moosabagh, 193, 195, 202, 203.

  Murray, Trumpeter, 42.


  Najufgurh Canal, 83, 84.

  Nicholson, Brigadier-General, 82, 83, 84, 94.

  Norman, Sir H., 67.


  Oudh, 4.

  Outbreak of the Mutiny, 1.

  Outram, Sir James, 192, 205.


  Pearse, Captain, 125.

  Peel, Captain, 191.

  Phillour, 84.

  _Pioneer, The_, 47.

  Proctor, Lieutenant M. M., 51.


  Reed, General, 101.

  Reid, Colonel, 89.

  Roorkee, 43.

  Rosser, Captain, 33.


  Salkeld, Lieutenant, 51.

  Sandeman, Lieutenant, 140, 141, 145, 151, 155, 156, 167, 171.

  Sanford, Captain, 52, 54, 55, 62, 68, 69, 98, 99, 109, 110, 113, 115,
    116, 117, 118, 119, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211.

  Selimgurh, 95, 100.

  Sheodeen, 8, 41.

  Showers, General, 104, 127.

  Sikh Irregular Cavalry (1st), 135.

  Skirmishing, 31.

  Smith, Colonel C., 5.

  Sobraon, 159.

  Storming of Delhi, 87.


  Trimmoo Ghât, 84.


  Umballa, 52, 54, 55, 102.

  Umritsar, 84.

  Unao, 140, 142, 176.


  Vibart, Lieutenant, 51.


  Wale, Captain F., 136, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204.

  Walpole, General, 173.

  Willoughby, Lieutenant, 97.

  Wilson, General A., 33, 44, 62, 83, 96, 99, 101.

  Wilson, Lieutenant, 51.


THE END.


IMPRINTED AT THE PIONEER PRESS, ALLAHABAD.



Transcriber's Notes


Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Inconsistent hyphenation fixed.

P. 8: dunishment parade -> punishment parade.

P. 25: A young recuit -> A young recruit.

P. 39: pecautionary measure -> precautionary measure.

P. 72: charged their pursers -> charged their pursuers.

P. 91: hitherto trumphant -> hitherto triumphant.

P. 127: opposite site -> opposite side.

P. 132: cummurbund -> cummerbund.





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