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Title: The History of the Indian Revolt and of the Expeditions to Persia, China and Japan 1856-7-8
Author: Dodd, George
Language: English
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[Illustration:

  INDIA OR HINDOSTAN

  Printed in Colours by Shefick & Macfarlane Edinburgh

  W. & R. CHAMBERS, LONDON & EDINBURGH
]



                                  THE
                                HISTORY
                                 OF THE
                             INDIAN REVOLT
                       AND OF THE EXPEDITIONS TO
                        PERSIA, CHINA, AND JAPAN
                                1856-7-8
                                  WITH
                    Maps, Plans, and Wood Engravings


[Illustration]

                                 LONDON
                 W. AND R. CHAMBERS 47 PATERNOSTER ROW
                       AND HIGH STREET EDINBURGH
                                  1859

[Illustration: PREFACE]



                                PREFACE


In the present volume is given a narrative of the chief events connected
with one of the most formidable military Revolts on record. These
events—from the first display of insubordination in the beginning of
1857, to the issue of the Royal Proclamation in the later weeks of
1858—form a series full of the romance as well as the wretchedness of
war: irrespective of the causes that may have led to them, or the
reforms which they suggested. The sudden rising of trained native
soldiers in mutiny; the slaughter of officers who to the last moment had
trusted them; the sufferings of gently-nurtured women and children,
while hurrying wildly over burning sands and through thick jungles; and
the heroism displayed amid unspeakable miseries—all tended to give an
extraordinary character to this outbreak. Nor is it less interesting to
trace the operations by which the difficulties were met. The task was
nothing less than that of suppressing insurgency among a native
population of nearly two hundred million souls by a small number of
British soldiers and civilians, most of whom were at vast distances from
the chief region of disaffection, and were grievously deficient in means
of transport.

A chronicle of these events reveals also the striking differences
between various parts of India. While Behar, Oude, Rohilcund, the Doab,
Bundelcund, Malwah, and Rajpootana were rent with anarchy and plunged in
misery, the rest of India was comparatively untouched. Most important,
too, is it to trace the influence of nation, caste, and creed. Why the
Hindoos of the Brahmin and Rajpoot castes rebelled, while those of the
lower castes remained faithful; why the Sikhs and Mussulmans of the
Punjaub shewed so little sympathy with the insurgents; why the Hindoos
of Bengal were so timidly quiet, and those of Hindostan so boldly
violent; why the native armies of Madras and Bombay were so tranquil,
when that of Bengal was so turbulent?—were questions which it behoved
the government to solve, as clues to the character of the governed, and
to the changes of discipline needed. It was a time that brought into
strong relief the peculiarities of the five chief classes of Europeans
in India—Queen’s soldiers, Company’s soldiers, Company’s ‘covenanted’
servants, ‘uncovenanted’ servants, and residents independent of the
Company; and it shewed how nobly these classes forgot their differences
when the honour of the British name and the safety of India were
imperiled.

The history of home affairs during, and in relation to, that period of
struggle, has its own points of interest—shewing in what manner, amid
the stormy conflicts of party, the nation responded to the call for
military aid to India, for pecuniary aid to individual sufferers, and
for a great change in the government of that country.

Although the minor results of the Revolt may be visible to a much later
date, it is considered that the month of November 1858 would furnish a
convenient limit to the present narrative. The government of India had
by that time been changed; the change had been publicly proclaimed
throughout the length and breadth of that empire; the British army in
the east had been so largely augmented as to render the prospects of the
insurgents hopeless; the rebel leaders were gradually tendering their
submission, under the terms of the Royal Proclamation; the skilled
mutinous sepoys had in great proportion been stricken down by battle and
privation; the military operations had become little more than a chasing
of lawless marauders; and the armed men still at large were mostly dupes
of designing leaders, or ruffians whose watchwords were pay and plunder
rather than nationality or patriotism.

The remarkable Expeditions to Persia, China, and Japan are briefly
noticed towards the close of the volume—on account of the links which
connected them with the affairs of India, and of the aspect which they
gave to the influence of England in the east.

Every endeavour has been made, by a careful examination of available
authorities, to render the narrative a truthful one. It is hoped that
the errors are few in number, and that hasty expressions of opinion on
disputed points have in general been avoided. The Work is quite distinct
from the HISTORY OF THE RUSSIAN WAR, issued by the same Publishers; yet
may the two be regarded as companion volumes, relating to the affairs of
England in the east—seeing that a few short months only elapsed between
the close of the events of 1854-5-6 in Turkey, Russia, and Asia Minor,
and the commencement of those of 1856-7-8 in India, Persia, and China.

                                                                   G. D.

  _December 1858._

-----

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Contents]



                                Contents


                              INTRODUCTION.

                                                                    PAGE
 INDIA IN 1856: A RETROSPECT,                                          1
 NOTES.—DISTANCES—ORTHOGRAPHY—VOCABULARY,                         12, 13


                               CHAPTER I.

 THE ANGLO-INDIAN ARMY AT THE TIME OF THE OUTBREAK,                   14
 NOTE,                                                                31


                               CHAPTER II.

 SYMPTOMS: CHUPATTIES AND CARTRIDGES,                                 32


                              CHAPTER III.

 MEERUT, AND THE REBEL-FLIGHT TO DELHI,                               48


                               CHAPTER IV.

 DELHI, THE CENTRE OF INDIAN NATIONALITY,                             59


                               CHAPTER V.

 THE EVENTFUL ESCAPES FROM DELHI,                                     69


                               CHAPTER VI.

 LUCKNOW AND THE COURT OF OUDE,                                       82


                              CHAPTER VII.

 SPREAD OF DISAFFECTION IN MAY,                                       97
 NOTES.—INDIAN RAILWAYS—‘HEADMAN’ OF A VILLAGE,                      119


                              CHAPTER VIII.

 TREACHERY AND ATROCITIES AT CAWNPORE,                               121
 NOTE.—NENA SAHIB’S PROCLAMATIONS,                                   145


                               CHAPTER IX.

 BENGAL AND THE LOWER GANGES: JUNE,                                  147
 NOTES.—THE OUDE ROYAL FAMILY—CASTES AND CREEDS IN THE INDIAN   161, 162
   ARMY,


                               CHAPTER X.

 OUDE, ROHILCUND, AND THE DOAB: JUNE,                                163


                               CHAPTER XI.

 CENTRAL REGIONS OF INDIA: JUNE,                                     176


                              CHAPTER XII.

 EVENTS IN THE PUNJAUB AND SINDE,                                    191
 NOTES.—MILITARY DIVISIONS OF INDIA—ARMIES OF INDIA AT THE           208
   COMMENCEMENT OF THE MUTINY,


                              CHAPTER XIII.

 PREPARATIONS: CALCUTTA AND LONDON,                                  210
 NOTE,                                                               227


                              CHAPTER XIV.

 THE SIEGE OF DELHI: JUNE AND JULY,                                  230


                               CHAPTER XV.

 HAVELOCK’S CAMPAIGN: ALLAHABAD TO LUCKNOW,                          247


                              CHAPTER XVI.

 THE DINAPOOR MUTINY, AND ITS CONSEQUENCES,                          264


                              CHAPTER XVII.

 MINOR MUTINIES: JULY AND AUGUST,                                    277
 NOTE.—THE BRITISH AT THE MILITARY STATIONS,                         293


                             CHAPTER XVIII.

 THE SIEGE OF DELHI: FINAL OPERATIONS,                               295


                              CHAPTER XIX.

 THE STORY OF THE LUCKNOW RESIDENCY,                                 316
 NOTE.—BRIGADIER INGLIS’S DISPATCH,                                  336


                               CHAPTER XX.

 MINOR CONFLICTS: SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER,                             338


                              CHAPTER XXI.

 THE RESCUE AT LUCKNOW, BY SIR COLIN CAMPBELL,                       359
 NOTE.—CAVANAGH’S ADVENTURE,                                         371


                              CHAPTER XXII.

 CLOSING EVENTS OF THE YEAR,                                         374
 NOTES.—PROPOSED RE-ORGANISATION OF THE INDIAN ARMY—PROPOSED    386, 387
   INQUIRY INTO THE CAUSES OF THE MUTINY,


                             CHAPTER XXIII.

 A SECOND YEAR OF REBELLION,                                         388


                              CHAPTER XXIV.

 MILITARY OPERATIONS IN FEBRUARY,                                    398
 NOTES.—SIR COLIN CAMPBELL’S ARMY OF OUDE—MOHAMMEDAN REBEL      409, 410
   LEADERS,


                              CHAPTER XXV.

 FINAL CONQUEST OF LUCKNOW: MARCH,                                   412
 NOTE.—LUCKNOW PROCLAMATIONS,                                        427


                              CHAPTER XXVI.

 MINOR EVENTS IN MARCH,                                              429
 NOTES.—‘COVENANTED’ AND ‘UNCOVENANTED’ SERVICE—COLLECTORS AND       443
   COLLECTORATES,


                             CHAPTER XXVII.

 DISCUSSIONS ON REBEL PUNISHMENTS,                                   446
 NOTES,                                                          455-461


                             CHAPTER XXVIII.

 MILITARY OPERATIONS IN APRIL,                                       462
 NOTE.—NATIVE POLICE OF INDIA,                                       480


                              CHAPTER XXIX.

 PROGRESS OF EVENTS IN MAY,                                          482
 NOTE.—TRANSPORT OF TROOPS TO INDIA,                                 501


                              CHAPTER XXX.

 ROSE’S VICTORIES AT CALPEE AND GWALIOR,                             504


                              CHAPTER XXXI.

 STATE OF AFFAIRS AT THE END OF JUNE,                                517
 NOTE.—QUEEN’S REGIMENTS IN INDIA IN JUNE,                           535


                             CHAPTER XXXII.

 GRADUAL PACIFICATION IN THE AUTUMN,                                 537


                             CHAPTER XXXIII.

 LAST DAYS OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY’S RULE,                         561


                         SUPPLEMENTARY CHAPTER.

 § 1. THE PERSIAN EXPEDITION, 1856-7,                                578

 § 2. THE CHINESE AND JAPANESE EXPEDITIONS, 1856-7-8,                585

 § 3. ENGLISH PROSPECTS IN THE EAST,                                 604


                                APPENDIX.

 EAST INDIA COMPANY’S PETITION TO PARLIAMENT, JANUARY 1858,          613
 EAST INDIA COMPANY’S OBJECTIONS TO THE FIRST AND SECOND INDIA       618
   BILLS: APRIL 1858,
 EAST INDIA COMPANY’S OBJECTIONS TO THE THIRD INDIA BILL: JUNE       621
   1858,
 ABSTRACT OF ACT FOR THE BETTER GOVERNMENT OF INDIA—RECEIVED         622
   ROYAL ASSENT AUGUST 2, 1858,
 THE INDIAN MUTINY RELIEF FUND,                                      623
 QUEEN VICTORIA’S PROCLAMATION TO THE PRINCES, CHIEFS, AND           623
   PEOPLE OF INDIA,
 VISCOUNT CANNING’S PROCLAMATION,                                    624


 CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE,                                                625

 INDEX,                                                              629

[Illustration]



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                    PAGE
 Delhi,                                                                1
 Initial Letter,                                                       1
 Tail-piece,                                                          13
 Initial Letter,                                                      14
 Boats on the Ganges,                                                 19
 Palanquin,                                                           21
 Indian Domestics,                                                    22
 Group of Sepoys,                                                     28
 Bungalow,                                                            29
 Troops on the March,                                                 30
 Initial Letter,                                                      32
 VISCOUNT CANNING,                                                    41
 Calcutta,                                                            43
 Council-house at Calcutta,                                           47
 King’s Palace, Delhi,                                                48
 Initial Letter,                                                      48
 Laboratory at Meerut,                                                55
 Dâk Runner,                                                          58
 Initial Letter,                                                      59
 Bird’s-eye view of Delhi.—From a Coloured Lithograph by A.           64
   Maclure; taken from Original Native Drawings,
 Howdah of an Indian Prince,                                          68
 King of Delhi,                                                       69
 Initial Letter,                                                      69
 Escape from Delhi,                                                   73
 Delhi from Flagstaff Tower,                                          76
 Elephant and State Howdah,                                           81
 Lucknow,                                                             82
 Initial Letter,                                                      82
 SIR HENRY LAWRENCE,                                                  92
 Residency at Lucknow,                                                93
 Ekah, or Officer’s Travelling Wagon,                                 96
 General View of Calcutta from Fort William,                          97
 Initial Letter,                                                      97
 Ghât on the Ganges,                                                 105
 City and Fort of Allahabad,                                         108
 Agra Fort,                                                          109
 Nynee Tal—a Refuge for European Fugitives,                          116
 Palanquin,                                                          120
 Parade-ground, Cawnpore,                                            121
 Initial Letter,                                                     121
 NENA SAHIB.—From a Picture painted at Bithoor in 1850, by Mr        124
   Beechy, Portrait-painter to the King of Oude,
 The Intrenchment at Cawnpore,                                       128
 Plan of Sir H. Wheeler’s Intrenchment at Cawnpore.—From an          129
   Official Survey,
 House at Cawnpore, in which the Women and Children were             141
   massacred,
 The Well at Cawnpore,                                               146
 House of the Rajah at Allahabad,                                    147
 Initial Letter,                                                     147
 Mess-house of the Officers of the 6th Native Infantry at            157
   Allahabad,
 Sikh Cavalry,                                                       162
 Initial Letter,                                                     163
 Simla, the Summer Residence of the Governor-general of India,       173
 Tomb at Futtehpore Sikri,                                           175
 Initial Letter,                                                     176
 Fort of Mhow,                                                       185
 Girls at the Ganges,                                                190
 Akali of the Sikhs,                                                 191
 Initial Letter,                                                     191
 SIR JOHN LAWRENCE,                                                  193
 Camel and Rider,                                                    205
 Catholic Church, Sirdhana; built by Begum Sumroo,                   209
 SIR COLIN CAMPBELL,                                                 210
 Initial Letter,                                                     210
 General View of Madras.—From a Drawing by Thomas Daniell,           216
 Bombay.—From a View in the Library of the East India Company,       217
 Jumma Musjid, Agra; Mosque built by Shah Jehan in 1656,             229
 Initial Letter,                                                     230
 SIR HENRY BARNARD,                                                  232
 HINDOO RAO’S House—Battery in front,                                237
 The General and his Staff at the Mosque Picket before Delhi,        240
 GENERAL WILSON,                                                     244
 Engineer Officers in Battery before Delhi,                          245
 Bullock-wagon,                                                      246
 SIR HENRY HAVELOCK,                                                 247
 Initial Letter,                                                     247
 Plan of Action near Cawnpore, July 16, 1857,                        252
 Plan of Action near Bithoor, August 16, 1857,                       257
 BRIGADIER-GENERAL NEILL,                                            261
 Initial Letter,                                                     264
 MAJOR VINCENT EYRE,                                                 265
 MR BOYLE’S House at Arrah, defended for seven days against          269
   3000 rebels,
 Initial Letter,                                                     277
 Fort at Agra, from the river Jumna,                                 281
 Mount Aboo—Military Sanatarium in Rajpootana,                       292
 Native Musicians at a Sepoy Station,                                294
 BRIGADIER-GENERAL NICHOLSON.—Copied by permission from a            295
   Portrait published by Messrs Gambart,
 Initial Letter,                                                     295
 Jumma Musjid at Delhi.—From a Photograph,                           304
 CORPORAL BURGESS, blown up at Cashmere Gate,                        308
 Scene of capture of the Princes of Delhi—Tomb of Emperor            313
   Humayoon,
 State Palanquin,                                                    315
 SIR J. E. W. INGLIS, Defender of Lucknow,                           316
 Initial Letter,                                                     316
 Plan of Residency and part of the City of Lucknow,                  321
 English Church and Residency at Lucknow—from Officers’              329
   Quarters,
 MR COLVIN, Lieutenant-governor of Northwest Provinces,              338
 Initial Letter,                                                     338
 Camp within the Fort, Agra.—From a Photograph,                      349
 LIEUTENANT HOME, Bengal Engineers,                                  352
 COLONEL BURN, Military Governor of Delhi,                           356
 Ruins near Kootub Minar, Delhi,                                     358
 Lucknow, from the Observatory,                                      359
 Initial Letter,                                                     359
 Plan of the Residency and its Defences, Lucknow,                    362
 Plan of Fort of Alum Bagh, near Lucknow,                            370
 Group of Mahratta Arms.—From the Collection of Sir S. Meyrick,      373
 Initial Letter,                                                     374
 Plan of the Battle of Cawnpore, December 6, 1857,                   379
 St James’s Church, Delhi,                                           384
 Tail-piece,                                                         387
 COLONEL E. H. GREATHED,                                             388
 Initial Letter,                                                     388
 Houses in the Chandnee Chowk, Delhi,                                396
 Tail-piece,                                                         397
 SIR JAMES OUTRAM,                                                   398
 Initial Letter,                                                     398
 Moulvies, or Mohammedan Religious Teachers,                         408
 Tail-piece,                                                         411
 Goorkhas in their native country, Nepaul,                           412
 Initial Letter,                                                     412
 Gateway of the Emanbarra at Lucknow,                                420
 MAJOR HODSON, Commandant of Hodson’s Horse,                         425
 Hindoo Metallic Ornaments,                                          428
 Barrackpore,                                                        429
 Initial Letter,                                                     429
 Kootub Minar, near Delhi,                                           436
 Obelisk built on the Site of the Black Hole, Calcutta.—From a       441
   Drawing in the India House,
 Group of Indian Arms,                                               445
 Zemindar, Hindoo Landowner,                                         446
 Initial Letter,                                                     446
 East India House,                                                   452
 Ganges Transport Boat,                                              461
 JUNG BAHADOOR, of Nepaul,                                           462
 Initial Letter,                                                     462
 Goorkha Havildar or Sergeant,                                       468
 Ghazeepore,                                                         471
 Fort of Peshawur,                                                   477
 Tail-piece,                                                         481
 Summer Costumes, Indian Army,                                       482
 Initial Letter,                                                     482
 Dacca,                                                              485
 Fyzabad,                                                            489
 Hindoo Fruit-girl,                                                  493
 Tail-piece,                                                         503
 SIR HUGH ROSE,                                                      504
 Initial Letter,                                                     504
 Gwalior,                                                            512
 The Ranee of Jhansi,                                                513
 Darjeeling—Hill Sanatarium in Sikkim,                               517
 Initial Letter,                                                     517
 Principal Street in Lucknow,                                        524
 Surat.—From a View in the Library of the East India Company,        528
 Lahore,                                                             529
 Kolapore,                                                           533
 Tail-piece,                                                         536
 Initial Letter,                                                     537
 Almorah, Hill-station in Kumaon,                                    537
 Interior of Hindoo Rajah’s House,                                   545
 Umritsir,                                                           549
 Jeypoor,                                                            556
 Poonah,                                                             559
 Hyderabad,                                                          560
 Government Buildings, Madras.—From a Drawing by Thomas              561
   Daniell,
 Initial Letter,                                                     561
 Old East India House, Leadenhall Street,                            574
 Calcutta.—Company’s Troops early in the 19th Century,               576
 Ormuz—Entrance to the Persian Gulf,                                 577
 Initial Letter,                                                     577
 Bushire,                                                            585
 Chinese War-junks,                                                  589
 Canton,                                                             592
 Hong-Kong,                                                          600
 SIR EDWARD LUGARD,                                                  604
 Fort St George, Madras; in 1780,                                    608
 Tail-pieces,                                                   612, 624


                  Various Tail-pieces, Vignettes, &c.

 Map of India or Hindostan. (Facing Title-page.)
 Map of Part of India—Chief Scene of the Mutinies of 1857,            49
 Sketch Map to illustrate Havelock’s Operations during July and      289
   August, 1857,
 Map of Asia,                                                        577

[Illustration: DELHI.]



                             INTRODUCTION.
                      INDIA IN 1856: A RETROSPECT.


Scarcely had England recovered from the excitement attendant on the war
with Russia; scarcely had she counted the cost, provided for the
expenditure, reprobated the blunderings, mourned over the sufferings;
scarcely had she struck a balance between the mortifying incapacity of
some of her children, and the Christian heroism of others—when she was
called upon anew to unsheath the sword, and to wage war, not against an
autocrat on this side of the Caspian, but against some of the most
ancient nations in the world. Within a few months, almost within a few
weeks, China, Persia, and India appeared in battle-array against
her—they being the injurers or the injured, according to the bias of
men’s judgments on the matter. It may almost be said that five hundred
millions of human beings became her enemies at once: there are at the
very least this number of inhabitants in the three great Asiatic
empires; and against all, proclamations were issued and armaments fitted
out. Whether the people, the millions, sided more with her or with their
own rulers, is a question that must be settled in relation to each of
those empires separately; but true it is that the small army of England
was called upon suddenly to render services in Asia, so many and varied,
in regions so widely separated, and so far distant from home, that a
power of mobility scarcely less than ubiquity, aided by a strength of
endurance almost more than mortal—could have brought that small force up
to a level with the duties required of it. Considering how small a space
a month is in the life of a nation, we may indeed say that this great
Oriental outbreak was nearly simultaneous in the three regions of Asia.
It was in October 1856 that the long-continued bickerings between the
British and the Chinese at Canton broke out into a flame, and led to the
despatch of military and naval forces from England. It was while the
British admiral was actually engaged in bombarding Canton that the
governor-general of India, acting as viceroy of the Queen of England,
declared war against the Shah of Persia for an infringement of treaty
relating to the city of Herat. And lastly, it was while two British
armaments were engaged in those two regions of warfare, that
disobedience and disbanding began in India, the initial steps to the
most formidable military Revolt, perhaps, the world has ever seen.

The theologian sees, or thinks he sees, the finger of God, the avenging
rod of an All-ruling Providence, in these scenes of blood-shedding: a
punishment on England for not having Christianised the natives of the
East to the full extent of her power. The soldier insists that, as we
gained our influence in the East mainly by the sword, by the sword we
must keep it: permitting no disobedience to our military rule, but at
the same time offending as little as possible against the prejudices of
faith and caste among the natives. The politician smitten with
Russo-phobia, deeply imbued with the notion, whether well or ill
founded, that the Muscovite aims at universal dominion in Europe and
Asia, seeks for evidences of the czar’s intrigues at Pekin, Teheran, and
Delhi. The partisan, thinking more of the ins and outs of official life,
than of Asia, points triumphantly to the dogma that if _his_ party had
been in power, no one of these three Oriental wars would have come upon
England. The merchant, believing that individual interest lies at the
bottom of all national welfare, tells us that railways and cotton
plantations would be better for India than military stations; and that
diplomatic piques at Canton and at Teheran ought not to be allowed to
drive us into hostility with nations who might be advantageous customers
for our wares. But while the theologian, the soldier, the politician,
the partisan, and the merchant are thus rushing to a demonstration, each
of his favourite theory, without waiting for the evidence which can only
by degrees be collected, England, as a nation, has had to bear up
against the storm as best she could. Not even one short twelvemonth of
peace was vouchsafed to her. The same year, 1856, that marked the
closing scenes of one war, witnessed the commencement of two others;
while the materials for a fourth war were at the same time fermenting,
unknown to those whose duty it was to watch symptoms.

Few things in the history of our empire are more astonishing than the
social explosion in India, taken in connection with the positive
declarations of official men. Historical parallels have often been
pointed out, striking and instructive; but here we have a historical
contradiction. At the time when the plenipotentiaries of seven European
empires and kingdoms were discussing at Paris the bases for a European
peace, the Marquis of Dalhousie was penning an account of India, in the
state to which Britain had brought it. A statesman of high ability, and
of unquestioned earnestness of purpose, he evidently felt a pride in the
work he had achieved as governor-general of India; he thought he had
laid the foundation for a great future; and he claimed credit for
England, not only in respect to what she had done, but also for the
motives that had dictated her Indian policy. It was in the early part of
1848 that this nobleman went out to the East; it was in 1856 that he
yielded the reins of power to Viscount Canning; and shortly before his
departure from Calcutta he wrote a minute or narrative, formally
addressed to the East India Company, but intended for his
fellow-countrymen at large, giving an account of his stewardship.
Remembering that that minute was written in March 1856, and that the
Revolt commenced in January 1857, it becomes very important to know,
from the lips or the pen of the marquis himself, what he believed to be
the actual condition of the Anglo-Indian Empire when he left it. The
document in question is worth more, for our present purpose, than any
formal history or description of India; for it shews not only the
sum-total of power and prosperity in 1848, but the additions made to
that sum year after year till 1856. A parliamentary paper of fifty folio
pages need not and cannot be reproduced here; but its substance may be
rendered intelligible in a few paragraphs. This we will attempt at once,
as a peculiarly fitting introduction to the main object of the present
work; for it shews how little the Revolt was expected by him who was
regarded as the centre of knowledge and influence in India. The marquis
said: ‘The time has nearly come when my administration of the government
of India, prolonged through more than eight years, will reach its final
close. It would seem that some few hours may be profitably devoted to a
short review of those eventful years; not for the purpose of justifying
disputed measures, or of setting forth a retrospective defence of the
policy which may, on every several occasion, have been adopted; but for
the purpose of recalling the political events that have occurred, the
measures that have been taken, and the progress that has been made,
during the career of the administration which is about to close. I enter
on that review with the single hope that the Honourable Court of
Directors may derive from the retrospect some degree of satisfaction
with the past, _and a still larger measure of encouragement for the
future_.’ The words we have italicised are very remarkable, read by the
light so soon and so calamitously to be afforded.

The minute first passes in review the proceedings of the Indian
government with the independent native states, both east and west of the
Ganges. How little our public men are able to foretell the course of
political events in the East, is shewn by the very first paragraph of
the governor-general’s narrative: ‘When I sailed from England in the
winter of 1847, to assume the government of India, there prevailed a
universal conviction among public men at home that permanent peace had
at length been secured in the East. Before the summer came, we were
already involved in the second Sikh war.’ Be it observed that public men
_at home_ are here adverted to: of what were the opinions of public men
in India, the English nation was not kept sufficiently informed. There
had been British officers murdered at Moultan; there was a rebellion of
the Dewan Moolraj against the recognised sovereign of Lahore; but the
renewal of war is attributed mainly to the ‘spirit of the whole Sikh
people, which was inflamed by the bitterest animosity against us; when
chief after chief deserted our cause, until nearly their whole army, led
by sirdars who had signed the treaties, and by members of the Council of
Regency itself, was openly arrayed against us;’ and when the Sikhs even
joined with the Afghans against us. It was not a mere hostile prince, it
was a hostile nation that confronted us; and the Indian government,
whether wisely or not, declared war, put forth its power, maintained a
long campaign, defeated and subdued the Sikhs, drove back the insurgent
Afghans, and ended by annexing the Punjaub to the British territories.
Scarcely had the Anglo-Indian armies been relieved from these onerous
duties, when war called them to the regions beyond the Ganges. Certain
British traders in the port of Rangoon had been subjected to gross
outrage by the officers of the King of Ava, in violation of a
pre-existing treaty; and the Marquis of Dalhousie, acting on a
high-sounding dictum of Lord Wellesley, that ‘an insult offered to the
British flag at the mouth of the Ganges should be resented as promptly
and as fully as an insult offered at the mouth of the Thames,’ resolved
to punish the king for those insults. That monarch was ‘arrogant and
over-bearing’—qualities much disapproved, where not shewn by the
Company’s servants themselves; he violated treaties, insulted our
traders, worried our envoys, and drove away our commercial agent at
Rangoon; and as the government of India ‘could never, consistently with
its own safety, permit itself to stand for a single day in an attitude
of inferiority towards a native power, and least of all towards the
court of Ava, war was declared. After some sharp fighting, the kingdom
of Pegu was taken and annexed, ‘in order that the government of India
might hold from the Burman state both adequate compensation for past
injury, and the best security against future danger.... A sense of
inferiority has penetrated at last to the convictions of the nation; the
Burman court and the Burman people alike have shewn that they now dread
our power; _and in that dread is the only real security we can ever
have, or ever could have had, for stable peace with the Burman state_.’
These words are at once boastful and saddening; but the notions
conveyed, of ‘sense of inferiority’ and ‘dread of power,’ are thoroughly
Asiatic, and as such we must accept them. Another independent state,
Nepaul, on the northern frontier of India, remained faithful during the
eight years of the Dalhousie administration; it carried on a war of its
own against Tibet, but it was friendly to England, and sent a bejewelled
ambassador, Jung Bahadoor, to visit the island Queen. The mountain
region of Cashmere, stolen as it were from the Himalaya, was under an
independent chieftain, Maharajah Gholab Sing, who, when he visited the
Marquis of Dalhousie at Wuzeerabad, caught the vice-regal robe in his
hand and said; ‘Thus I grasp the skirts of the British government, and I
will never let go my hold.’ The governor-general expresses a belief that
Gholab Sing ‘will never depart from his submissive policy as long as he
lives;’ while Gholab’s son and anticipated successor, Meean Rumbeer
Sing, is spoken of as one who will never give ‘any cause of offence to a
powerful neighbour, which he well knows can crush him at will.’ The Khan
of Khelat, near the western frontier, was brought into close
relationship, insomuch that he became ‘the friend of our friends, and
the enemy of our enemies,’ and engaged to give us temporary possession
of such military stations within his territory as we might at any time
require for purposes of defence. At the extreme northwest of our Indian
Empire, the Afghans, with whom we had fought such terrible battles
during the Auckland and Ellenborough administrations of Indian affairs,
had again been brought into friendly relations; the chief prince among
them, Dost Mohammed Khan of Cabool, had been made to see that England
was likely to be his best friend, and ‘had already shewn that he regards
English friendship as a tower of strength.’

Thus the governor-general, in adverting to independent states, announced
that he had conquered and annexed the Punjaub and Pegu; while he had
strengthened the bonds of amity with Nepaul, Cashmere, Khelat, and
Cabool—amity almost degraded to abject servility, if the protestations
of some of the chieftains were to be believed.

Having disposed of the independent states, the marquis directed
attention to the relations existing between the British government and
the protected or semi-independent states, of which there are many more
than those really independent. The kingdom of Nagpoor became British
territory by simple lapse, ‘in the absence of all legal heirs.’ In
bygone years the British put down one rajah and set up another; and when
this latter died, without a son real or adopted, or any male descendant
of the original royal stock, ‘the British government refused to bestow
the territory in free gift upon a stranger, and wisely incorporated it
with its own dominions’—a mode of acquiring territory very prevalent in
our Eastern Empire. The King of Oude, another protected sovereign,
having broken his engagements with the Company in certain instances, his
state was treated like Nagpoor, and added to British India. Satara lost
its rajah in 1849, and as no male heir was then living, that small state
shared the fate of the larger Oude: it was made British. Jhansi, a still
smaller territory, changed owners in an exactly similar way. The Nizam
of Hyderabad, owing to the Company a sum of money which he was unable or
unwilling to pay, and being in other ways under the Company’s wrath,
agreed in 1853 to give up Berar and other provinces to the exclusive
sovereignty of the British. Early in 1848 the Rajah of Ungool, a petty
chieftain in the Jungle Neehals, resisted the authority of the
government; his raj was taken from him, and he died in exile. The Rajah
of Sikim, a hill-chieftain on the borders of Nepaul, ‘had the audacity’
to seize a Company’s official at Darjeling; as a punishment, all the
territories he possessed within the plains were confiscated and annexed.
In Sinde, Meer Ali Morad of Khyrpore, having involved himself in an act
of forgery concerning the ownership of territory, ‘the lands were taken
from him, and his power and influence were reduced to insignificance.’
The Nawab Nazim of Bengal having committed a murder by bastinado, ‘his
highness’s peculiar jurisdiction and legal exemption were taken away
from him; and he was subjected to the disgrace of losing a large portion
of the salute of honour which he had previously received.’ The Nawab of
the Carnatic died suddenly in 1855; and as he left no male heir, and his
relations lived very disreputably, the title of nawab ‘was placed in
abeyance:’ that is, the Carnatic was made British territory, and the
several members of the nawab’s family were pensioned off. About the same
time, the Rajah of Tanjore died, in like manner without male issue
bearing his name; and the same process was adopted there as in the
Carnatic—sovereign power was assumed by the Company, and the ex-royal
family was pensioned off.

Counting up his treasures, the governor-general was certainly enabled to
announce a most extraordinary accession of territory during the years
1848 to 1855. The Punjaub, Pegu, Nagpoor, Oude, Satara, Jhansi, Berar,
Ungool, Darjeling, Khyrpore, the Carnatic, and Tanjore, all became
British for the first time, or else had the links which bound them to
England brought closer. While, on the one hand, it must be admitted that
the grounds or excuses for annexation would be deemed very slight in any
country but India; so, on the other, there can be no doubt that the
Marquis of Dalhousie, and the directors with whom he was acting,
believed that these annexing processes were essential to the maintenance
of British power in the East. He takes credit to his government for
having settled certain family quarrels among the petty royalties of
Gujerat, Buhawalpore, Jummoo, and Mumdote, without paying itself for its
services: as if it were a virtue to abstain from annexation at such
times. The mention made of Delhi must be given in the governor-general’s
own words, to shew how much the descendant of the once mighty Mogul was
regarded as a mere puppet—yet maintaining a certain hold on the
reverence of the people, as was destined to be shewn in a series of
events little anticipated by the writer of the minute. ‘Seven years ago
the heir-apparent to the King of Delhi died. He was the last of the race
who had been born in the purple. The Court of Directors was accordingly
advised to decline to recognise any other heir-apparent, and to permit
the kingly title to fall into abeyance upon the death of the present
king, who even then was a very aged man. The Honourable Court
accordingly conveyed to the government of India _authority to terminate
the dynasty of Timour_, whenever the reigning king should die. But as it
was found that, although the Honourable Court had consented to the
measure, it had given its consent with great reluctance, I abstained
from making use of the authority which had been given to me. The
grandson of the king was recognised as heir-apparent; but only on
condition that he should quit the palace in Delhi in order to reside in
the palace at the Kootub; and that he should, as king, _receive the
governor-general of India at all times on terms of perfect equality_.’
How strange do these words sound! A board of London merchants sitting in
a room in Leadenhall Street, giving ‘authority to terminate the dynasty
of Timour;’ and then, as a gracious condescension, permitting the
representative of that dynasty to be on terms of ‘perfect equality’ with
whomsoever may be the chief representative of the Company in India.

The Marquis of Dalhousie pointed to the revenues derivable from the
newly annexed territories as among the many justifications for his line
of policy. He shewed that four millions sterling were added to the
annual income of the Anglo-Indian Empire by the acquisition of the
Punjaub, Pegu, Nagpoor, Oude, Satara, Jhansi, and Berar—increasing the
total revenue from about twenty-six millions in 1848 to above thirty
millions in 1855.

The extreme importance of this official document lying in the evidence
it affords how little dread was felt in 1856 of any approaching
outbreak, we proceed with the governor-general’s narrative of the
augmentation and stability of British power in the East, power of which
he was evidently proud—presenting, of course, as a mere outline, that
which his lordship fills up in more detail.

Credit is claimed in the minute for the improved administrative
organisation both of the old and of the newly acquired territories. Able
men were selected to administer government in the Punjaub; and so well
did they fulfil their duties that internal peace was secured, violent
crime repressed, the penal law duly enforced, prison-discipline
maintained, civil justice administered, taxation fixed, collection of
revenue rendered just, commerce set free, agriculture fostered, national
resources developed, and future improvements planned. Not only did the
marquis assert this; but there is a general concurrence of opinion that
the Punjaub fell into fortunate hands when its administration came to be
provided for. In Pegu the administration, less brilliant than in the
Punjaub, is nevertheless represented as being sound in principle;
tranquillity was restored; effective police had secured the safety of
all; trade was increased and increasing; a fair revenue was derived from
light taxation; ‘the people, lightly taxed and prosperous, are highly
contented with our rule;’ and, when population has increased, ‘Pegu will
equal Bengal in fertility of production, and surpass it in every other
respect.’ At Nagpoor the assumption of supreme authority by Britain was
‘hailed with lively satisfaction by the whole population of the
province;’ no additional soldier had been introduced thither; the civil
administration was introduced everywhere; the native army was partly
embodied and disciplined in British pay, and partly discharged either
with pensions or gratuities. In short, ‘perfect contentment and quiet
prevail; beyond the palace walls not a murmur has been heard; and in no
single instance throughout the districts has the public peace been
disturbed.’ In Berar, we are told, the same phenomena were observed; as
soon as the cession was made, our numerous disputes with the nizam
ended; the civil administration was brought into working order; crime,
especially the violent crime of _dacoitee_ (gang-robbery without murder)
was diminished; the ‘admirable little army,’ formerly called the Nizam’s
Contingent, was made available as part of the British force; the revenue
rapidly increased; and the public tranquillity had ‘not been disturbed
by a single popular tumult.’ The kingdom of Oude had only been annexed a
few weeks before the Marquis of Dalhousie wrote his minute; but he
states that a complete civil administration, and a resident military
force, had been fully organised before the annexation took place; that
the troops of the deposed native king were contentedly taking service in
British pay; that no zemindar or chief had refused submission to our
authority; that the best men who could be found available were selected
from the civil and military services for the new offices in Oude; and
that no popular resistance or disturbance had occurred.

Nothing could be more clear and positive than these assertions. Not only
did the governor-general announce that the Punjaub, Pegu, Nagpoor,
Berar, and Oude had been completely annexed, bringing a large accession
to the British revenues; but that in every case a scheme of
administration had been framed and established, conducive to the lasting
benefit of the natives, the honour of the British name, and the
development of the natural resources of the several districts. Not a
whisper of discontent, of spirits chafed by change of rulers, did the
marquis recognise: if they occurred, they reached not him; or if they
_did_ reach him, he passed them by as trifles.

Nor was it alone in the newly acquired territories that credit for these
advantageous changes was claimed. Improvements in the government of
India were pointed out in every direction. The governor-general had been
relieved from an overwhelming press of duties by the appointment of a
lieutenant-governor for Bengal. A Legislative Council had been
organised, distinct from the Supreme Council: the public having access
to its deliberations, and its debates and papers being printed and
issued to the world. The Indian civil service, by an act passed in 1853,
had been thrown open to all who, being natural-born subjects of the
British sovereign, should offer themselves as candidates for examination
and admission. Young cadets, who previously had been allowed nearly two
years to ‘idle and loiter’ at the presidencies while studying for
examination as civilians, were by a new regulation required to complete
their studies in a much shorter period, thereby lessening their idleness
and rendering them sooner useful. Periodical examinations of the civil
servants had been established, to insure efficiency before promotion was
given. A board of examiners had been founded, to conduct examinations
and superintend studies. All officers of the Indian government had been
formally prohibited from engaging in banking or trading companies; and
any bankruptcy among them entailed suspension from office. In many of
the civil offices, promotion, before dependent on seniority alone, had
been made dependent on merit alone. A pension or superannuation list had
been established in many departments, to insure steady and faithful
service. Three boards of administration for salt, opium, and customs had
been replaced by one board of revenue, simpler in its constitution. The
annual financial reports, transmitted to the home government, had
gradually been made more clear, full, and instructive. All the salaries
throughout India had been placed under the consideration of a special
commissioner, for equitable revision; and the authorities had determined
that, in future, no salaries, with a few special exceptions, shall
exceed fifty thousand rupees (about five thousand pounds) per annum.

Nor had legislative reform been wholly forgotten. During the eight years
under review, laws had been passed or rules laid down for the punishment
of officials guilty of corruption, or accountants guilty of default; for
allowing counsel to prisoners on their trial; for abolishing the
semi-savage custom of branding convicts; for rendering public officers
more amenable to public justice; for vesting a right of pardon in the
supreme government; for improving the procedure in all the civil and
criminal courts; for rendering the reception of evidence more fair and
impartial; and, among many less important things, for ‘securing liberty
of conscience, and for the protection of converts, and especially of
Christian converts, against injury in respect of property or inheritance
by reason of a change in their religious belief.’ For the amelioration
of prison-discipline, inspectors of prisons had been appointed in all
the three presidencies, as well as in Oude, the Punjaub, and the
northwest provinces.

Equally in moral as in administrative matters did the Marquis of
Dalhousie insist on the manifold improvement of India during the eight
years preceding 1856. Schools for the education of natives had been
established; the Hindoo College at Calcutta had been revived and
improved; a Presidency College had been founded in the same city, to
give a higher scale of education to the youth of Bengal; similar
colleges had been sanctioned at Madras and Bombay; grants-in-aid to all
educational establishments had been authorised, subject to government
inspection of the schools aided; a committee had been appointed to
consider the plans for establishing regular universities at Calcutta,
Bombay, and Madras; a distinct educational department had been formed at
the seat of government, with director-generals of public instruction in
all the presidencies and governments; and the East India Company had, by
a dispatch framed in 1854, sanctioned a most extensive educational
scheme for the whole of India, to be rendered available to all the
natives who might be willing and able to claim its advantages. The
delicate subject of female education had not been forgotten.
Instructions had been given to the officers of the educational
department to afford all possible encouragement to the establishment of
female schools, whenever any disposition was shewn by the natives in
that direction. There is a peculiar difficulty in all that concerns
female education in India, arising from the reluctance which has always
been shewn by the higher classes of natives to permit the attendance of
their daughters at schools. Mr Bethune commenced, and the Marquis of
Dalhousie continued, a delicate and cautious attempt to overcome this
unwillingness by establishing a Hindoo ladies’ school at Calcutta; and
the minute gives expression to an earnest hope and belief that the
female character in India will gradually be brought under the elevating
influence of moral and intellectual education. As the native mind was
thus sought to be ameliorated and strengthened by education; so had the
prevention or cure of bodily maladies been made an object of attention.
Additional advantages had been granted to natives who applied themselves
to the study of the medical sciences; the number of dispensaries had
been greatly increased, to the immense benefit of the poorer classes of
Hindoos and Mohammedans; plans had been commenced for introducing a
check to the dreadful ravages of the small-pox; admission to the medical
service of the Company had been thrown open to natives; and, as a
first-fruit of this change, one Dr Chuckerbutty, a Hindoo educated in
England, had won for himself a commission as assistant-surgeon in the
Company’s service.

In so far as concerns superstition and religion, the minute narrates a
course of proceeding of which the following is the substance. Among the
extraordinary social customs—atrocities they are unquestionably
considered in Europe—of India, those of Suttee, Thuggee, Infanticide,
and the Meriah Sacrifice, are mentioned as having undergone much
amelioration during the eight years to which the minute relates. The
_suttee_, or burning of widows, had been almost suppressed by previous
governor-generals, and the marquis had carried out the plans of his
predecessors: remonstrating where any suttees occurred in independent
states; and punishing where they occurred in the British and protected
territories. _Thuggee_, or systematic murder of travellers for the sake
of booty, had been quite suppressed east of the Sutlej; but having
unexpectedly made its appearance in the Punjaub in 1851, it was
thoroughly put down there as elsewhere; those who turned approvers or
king’s evidence against their brother Thugs now form—or rather did form
in 1856—a peaceful industrious colony at Jubbulpoor, where they spun and
wove muslins of exquisite fineness, instead of cutting the throats of
unsuspecting travellers. _Female infanticide_, the result of pride of
birth and pride of purse—parents murdering their infant daughters either
because they cannot afford the marriage expenditure which must one day
be incurred on their account, or because they see difficulties in
marrying them suitably—had been greatly checked and discouraged. In the
Punjaub a most signal and singular conquest had been achieved; for the
British representative, calling together the chiefs of tribes in 1854,
unfolded to them a plan, ‘the observance of which would effectually
secure that no man should feel any real difficulty in providing for his
daughter in marriage;’ whereupon the chiefs, as well as those of the
Cashmere tribes, promised that, as the motive for infanticide would thus
in great measure be removed, they would cheerfully aid in suppressing
the practice. Lastly, the _Meriah sacrifice_—a horrible rite, in which
young human victims are sacrificed for the propitiation of the special
divinity which presides over the fertility of the earth—had been nearly
rooted out from the only district where it was practised, among the hill
and jungle tribes of Orissa. In religious matters, the ecclesiastical
strength of the established church had been largely increased; clergymen
had been occasionally sanctioned, besides those acting as chaplains to
the Company; places of worship had been provided for the servants and
soldiers of the Company; Protestant churches had been built in places
where the worshippers were willing to contribute something towards the
expenditure; Roman Catholics serving the Company had been provided with
places of worship; salaries had been granted to three Roman Catholic
bishops, one in each presidency; the salaries of the priests had been
revised and augmented; and a wish was manifested to observe justice
towards the Catholic as well as the Protestant who served his country
well in the East.

Thus—in the acquisition of territory, in the augmentation of revenue
consequent on that acquisition, in the administrative organisation, in
the spread of education, in the provision for religious services, and in
the plans for improving the moral conduct of the natives—the Marquis of
Dalhousie claimed to have done much that would redound to the honour of
the British name and to the advancement of the millions under British
rule in India. The problem still remains unsolved—Why should India, or
the native military of that country, have revolted from British service?
Let us see, therefore, whether the governor-general says aught that
throws light upon the matter in connection with trade and commerce; and
in order to understand this subject clearly, let us treat separately of
Productive Industry and Means of Communication.

Cotton is destined, according to the ideas of some thinkers, to mark a
great future for India; but meanwhile we are told in the minute that, by
the acquisition of Nagpoor and Berar, many fertile cotton districts were
brought under British rule; and that since the acquisition of Pegu, an
examination of the cotton-growing capabilities of the northern part of
that kingdom had been commenced. The tea-culture in Assam had prospered
greatly during the eight years from 1848 to 1856; the plant had been
largely introduced into the upper districts of the northwest provinces;
plantations had been established at Deyrah Dhoon, Kumaon, and Gurhwal;
Mr Fortune had brought large supplies of Chinese seeds and Chinese
workmen to India; many of the native zemindars had begun the cultivation
on their own account in districts at the foot of the Himalaya; and every
year witnessed a large increase in the production of Indian tea, which
was excellent in quality, and sold readily at a high price. In
agriculture generally, improvements of all kinds had been made; an
Agricultural and Horticultural Society had been established in the
Punjaub; carefully selected seeds had been procured from Europe; the
growth of flax had been encouraged; the growth of the mulberry and the
rearing of silkworms had been fostered by the government; and a grant
had been made in aid of periodical agricultural shows in the Madras
presidency. In relation to live-stock, plans had been formed for
improving the breed of horses; merino and Australian rams had been
introduced to improve the breed of sheep; and sheep had been introduced
into Pegu, to the great delight of the natives and the advantage of all;
‘for the absence of sheep leads to a privation in respect of food, which
is severely felt, not only by European soldiers in the province, but
also by all of every class who are employed therein.’ The forests had
been brought under due regulation by the appointment of conservators of
forests at Pegu, Tenasserim, and Martaban; by the careful examination of
the whole of the forests in the Punjaub; by the planting of new
districts, hitherto bare; and by the laying down of rules for the future
preservation and thrifty management of these important sources of timber
and fuel. The inestimable value of coal being duly appreciated, careful
researches had been made, by order of the government, in the Punjaub,
Pegu, Tenasserim, Bengal, Silhet, and the Nerbudda Valley, to lay the
groundwork for careful mining whenever and wherever good coal may be
found. Practical chemists and geological surveyors had been set to work
in the Simla Hills, Kumaon, Gurhwal, the Nerbudda Valley, Beerboom, and
Jubbulpoor, either to discover beds of ironstone, or to organise
ironworks where such beds had already been discovered; and an
experimental mining and smelting establishment had been founded by the
government among the Kumaon Hills, to apply tests likely to be valuable
in future.

Next, in connection with means of communication, the channels by and
through which commerce permeates the empire, the governor-general had a
very formidable list of works to notice. Surveys, irrigation and canals,
rivers and harbours, roads, railways, electric telegraphs, and postal
communications—had all been made the subjects of great engineering
activity during the eight years of the Dalhousie administration. A few
words must be said here on each of these topics; for it becomes
absolutely necessary, in order to a due appreciation of the narrative of
Revolt about to follow, that we should, as a preliminary, know whether
India really had or had not been neglected in these elements of
prosperity in the years immediately preceding the outbreak.

Measures, we learn from the minute, had been taken for executing exact
surveys of all the newly annexed territory in the Punjaub, Pegu, Sinde,
Nagpoor, and Berar in the same careful manner as the survey of the older
territories had been before carried out; and in Central India ‘the
consent of all the native states has been obtained to the making of a
topographical survey, and to a demarcation of all the boundaries between
the several native states, and between the British territories and those
of native states:’ a proceeding expected to lessen the frequency of
feuds concerning disputed boundaries.

The activity in irrigation-works and canal-cutting had unquestionably
been very great. In 1854 the Ganges Canal was opened in its main line,
for the double purpose of irrigation and navigation. A mighty work this,
which no mutiny, no angry feelings, should induce the English public to
forget. It is 525 miles in length, and in some parts 170 feet in width;
and considered as a canal for irrigation, ‘it stands unequalled in its
class and character among the efforts of civilised nations. Its length
is fivefold greater than that of all the main lines of Lombardy united,
and more than twice the length of the aggregate irrigation lines of
Lombardy and Egypt together—the only countries in the world whose works
of irrigation rise above insignificance.’ Nor is this all. ‘As a single
work of navigation for purposes of commerce, the Ganges Canal has no
competitor throughout the world. No single canal in Europe has attained
to half the magnitude of this Indian work. It nearly equals the
aggregate length of the four greatest canals in France. It greatly
exceeds all the first-class canals of Holland put together; and it is
greater, by nearly one-third, than the greatest navigation canal in the
United States of America.’ Pausing for one moment just to observe that
the writer of the words here quoted seems to have temporarily forgotten
the great canal of China, we proceed to state, on the authority of the
minute, that when all the branches are finished, this noble Ganges Canal
will be 900 miles in length. It will then, by its periodical
overflowings, irrigate _a million and a half of acres_, thus lessening
the terrible apprehensions of famine or dearth among millions of human
beings. We may doubt or not on other subjects, but it is impossible to
doubt the sincerity of the Marquis of Dalhousie when he says: ‘I trust I
shall not be thought vain-glorious if I say that the successful
execution and completion of such a work as the Ganges Canal would, even
if it stood alone, suffice to signalise an Indian administration.’ But
this work did not absorb all the energies of the canal engineers; much
of a similar though smaller kind had been effected elsewhere. An
irrigation canal had been begun in the Punjaub, which, when finished,
would be 465 miles in length, fed from the river Ravee. All the old
canals formed in the Moultan district of the Punjaub, 600 miles in
length, had been cleansed, enlarged, and improved, and the distribution
of the waters for the purpose of irrigation placed under judicious
regulation. Irrigation canals had been made or improved in the Derajat,
in the provinces east of the Sutlej, in Behar, and in Sinde. A
magnificent work had been executed for carrying an irrigation canal over
the river Godavery; and canals of much importance had been commenced in
the Madras and Bombay presidencies.

Rivers and harbours had shared in the attention bestowed on irrigation
and canal navigation. The Ganges had been opened to river steamers
before 1848, and it only remained to advance in the same line of
improvement. The Indus, by the conquest of the Punjaub, had been made a
British river almost from the Himalaya down to the ocean; steamers had
been placed upon it; and it had become a direct route for troops and
travellers to many parts of Northern India, before attainable only by
the Calcutta route. All the rivers in the upper part of the Punjaub had
been surveyed, with a view to the determination of their capabilities
for steam-navigation. No sooner was Pegu acquired, than steamers were
placed upon the Irrawaddy, the great river of that country; and short
canals of junction between various rivers had been so planned as to give
promise of a complete line of river-steaming from Bassein to Moulmein.
Arrangements had been made for placing steamers upon the river
Burhampooter or Brahmaputra, to connect Assam with the Bay of Bengal.
Extensive works had been commenced to improve the navigation of the
Godavery. The channels that lead from Calcutta through the Sundurbunds
to the sea had been enlarged; and a great bridge over the Hoogly near
the city had been planned. The port of Bombay had been greatly improved,
and large works for water-supply commenced. At Kurachee, at Madras, at
Singapore, at Rangoon, and at other places, engineering improvements had
been made to increase the accommodation for shipping.

We follow the Marquis of Dalhousie from the river to the land, and trace
with him the astonishing length of new road constructed or planned
during his administration. A great trunk-road from Calcutta to Delhi had
been extended nearly to the Sutlej; and when the Punjaub became a
British possession, plans were immediately marked out for prolonging the
same road to Loodianah, Umritsir, Lahore, Jelum, Attock, and
Peshawur—thus forming, if all be completed, a magnificent road 1500
miles in length from Calcutta to the Afghan frontier, available both for
commercial and military operations. The difficulties of crossing so many
broad rivers in Northern India is immense, and the cost great; but the
road, as the minute tells us, ‘will repay a thousandfold the labour and
the treasure it has cost.’ Then, fine roads had been formed from Patna
to Gya, from Cuttack to Ungool and Sumbhulpore, from Dacca to Akyab, and
thence towards Aracan and Pegu; while vast systems of roads had been
brought under consideration for Pegu, the Punjaub, Sinde, and other
newly acquired regions. Engineers had been employed to plan a road from
Simla up to the very Himalaya itself, to connect India with Tibet; as it
would greatly improve the social position of all the native tribes near
it. When Pegu was attacked, and when a military force was sent thither
overland from Calcutta, hundreds of elephants were employed to force a
way through the forests and roadless tracts between Aracan and Pegu; but
by the spring of 1855 a road had been formed, along which a battalion
could march briskly on foot.

The Marquis of Dalhousie was not in a position to say so much concerning
railways in India as ordinary roads. Although railways were brought
under the consideration of the Company in 1843, nothing was done
regarding them till 1849, when a contract was entered into with a
separate company to construct a certain length of railway which, if
continued, would connect Calcutta with the north and northwest of India.
In the spring of 1853 the marquis recommended a bold line of policy in
these matters: the sanction and support, in every available way, of
great lines of railway to connect Calcutta with Lahore, Bombay with
Agra, Bombay with Madras, and Madras with the Malabar coast. A qualified
approval of these schemes had been accorded by the East India Company,
and engagements to the extent of ten millions sterling had been made for
a railway from Delhi to Burdwan: a line from Burdwan to Calcutta having
been opened in 1855. The governor-general, not dreaming of mutinies and
rebellions, named the year 1859 as the probable time of finishing the
iron route from Calcutta to Delhi. Besides these engagements with the
East India Railway Company in the Bengal presidency, contracts had been
made with the Great India Peninsula Company for a railway from Bombay to
the Ghaut Mountains; and another with the Bombay and Central India
Company for a railway from Bombay to Khandeish and Nagpoor, and for
another from Surat to Ahmedabad. On the eastern coast, the government
had arranged with the Madras Railway Company for lines from Madras to
the Malabar coast, _viâ_ Coimbatore, and from Variembaddy to Bangalore.
The English nation has long blamed the East India Company for a dilatory
policy in regard to railways; but all we have to do in this place is, on
the authority of the governor-general, to specify in few words what had
been done in the years immediately preceding the outbreak.

The electric telegraph—perhaps the grandest invention of our age—found
in India a congenial place for its reception. Where the officials had no
more rapid means of sending a message to a distance of a thousand miles
than the fleetness of a corps of foot-runners, it is no marvel that the
achievements of the lightning-messenger were regarded with an eager eye.
An experimental line of electric telegraph was determined on, to be
carried out by Dr (now Sir William) O’Shaughnessy; and when that
energetic man made his report on the result in 1852, it was at once
determined to commence arrangements for lines of immense length, to
connect the widely separated cities of Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, and
Peshawur, and the great towns between them. It was a grand idea, and was
worthily realised; for by the month of March 1854 an electric wire of
800 miles was established between Calcutta and Agra; by the month of
February 1855, the towns of Calcutta, Agra, Attock, Bombay, and Madras
were placed in telegraphic communication by 3000 miles of wire, serving
nearly forty towns on the way; and by the beginning of 1856 another
length of 1000 miles was added, from Attock to Peshawur, from Bangalore
to Ootacamund, and from Rangoon to the Burmese frontier. Many works of
great magnitude were required; there were few good roads for the workmen
to avail themselves of; there were few bridges; there were deadly
jungles to be passed; there was every variety of foundation, from loose
black soil to hard rocky wastes; there were seventy large rivers to be
crossed, either by cables in the water, or by wires extended on the tops
of masts; there was a cable of two miles required to cross the
Toongabudra, and one of three miles to cross the Sone—and yet the entire
work was comprised within a cost of 500 rupees or £50 per mile: perhaps
the wisest expenditure ever incurred in India. Repeatedly has a message,
relating to news from England, been transmitted 1000 miles, from Bombay
to Calcutta, in less than three-quarters of an hour; and it has become a
regular routine that the government at Calcutta shall be in possession
of a considerable body of telegraphic news from England within twelve
hours after the anchoring of the mail-steamer at Bombay. Who can
conceive the bewilderment of the Hindoo mind at such achievements! It is
certainly permissible to the governor-general to refer with pride to two
or three among many instances of the remarkable service rendered by
these telegraphs. ‘When her Majesty’s 10th Hussars were ordered with all
speed from Poonah to the Crimea, a message requesting instructions
regarding their despatch was one day received by me at Calcutta from the
government of Bombay, about nine o’clock in the morning. Instructions
were forthwith sent off by the telegraph in reply; and an answer to that
reply was again received at Calcutta from Bombay in the evening of the
same day. A year before, the same communications for the despatch of
speedy reinforcements to the seat of war, which occupied by the
telegraph no more than _twelve hours_, could not have been made in less
than _thirty days_.’ Again: ‘When it was resolved to send her Majesty’s
12th Lancers from Bangalore to the Crimea, instead of her Majesty’s 14th
Dragoons from Meerut, orders were forthwith despatched by telegraph
direct to the regiment at Bangalore. The corps was immediately got ready
for service; it marched two hundred miles, and was there before the
transports were ready to receive it.’ Again: ‘On the 7th of February
1856, as soon as the administration of Oude was assuredly under British
government, a branch-electric telegraph from Cawnpore to Lucknow was
forthwith commenced; in eighteen working-days it was completed,
including the laying of a cable, six thousand feet in length, across the
river Ganges. On the morning on which I resigned the government in
India, General Outram was asked by telegraph: “Is all well in Oude?” The
answer: “All is well in Oude,” was received soon after noon, and greeted
Lord Canning on his first arrival.’ Little did the new governor-general
then foresee in how few months he would receive painful proof that all
was _not_ well in Oude. However, the Marquis of Dalhousie was justified
in adverting with satisfaction to the establishment of telegraphic
communication during his reign of power; and he insists on full credit
being due to the East India Company for what was done in that direction.
‘I make bold to say, that whether regard be had to promptitude of
executive action, to speed and solidity of construction, to rapidity of
organisation, to liberality of charge, or to the early realisation and
vast magnitude of increased political influence in the East, the
achievement of the Honourable Company in the establishment of the
electric telegraph in India may challenge comparison with any public
enterprise which has been carried into execution in recent times, among
the nations of Europe, or in America itself.’

The postal system had not been allowed to stagnate during the eight
years under consideration. A commission had been appointed in 1850, to
inquire into the best means of increasing the efficiency of the system;
and under the recommendations of this commission, great improvements had
been made. A director-general of the post-office for the whole of India
had been appointed; a uniformity of rate irrespective of distance had
been established (three farthings for a letter, and three half-pence for
a newspaper); prepayment by postage-stamps had been substituted for cash
payment; the privileges of official franking had been almost abolished;
and a uniform sixpenny rate was fixed for letters between India and
England. Here again the governor-general insists, not only that the
Indian government had worked zealously, but that England herself had
been outstripped in liberal policy. ‘In England, a single letter is
conveyed to any part of the British isles for one penny; in India, a
single letter is conveyed over distances immeasurably greater—from
Peshawur, on the borders of Afghanistan, to the southernmost village of
Cape Comorin, or from Dehooghur, in Upper Assam, to Kurachee at the
mouth of the Indus—for no more than three farthings. The postage
chargeable on the same letter three years ago in India would not have
been less than one shilling, or sixteen times the present charge. Again,
since uniform rates of postage between England and India have been
established, the Scotch recruit who joins his regiment on our furthest
frontier at Peshawur, may write to his mother at John o’ Groat’s House,
and may send his letter to her free for sixpence: three years ago, the
same sum would not have carried his letter beyond Lahore.’

So great had been the activity of the Company and the governor-general,
in the course of eight years, in developing the productive resources of
our Oriental empire, that a department of Public Works had become
essentially necessary. The Company expended from two to three millions
sterling annually in this direction, and a new organisation had been
made to conduct the various works on which this amount of expenditure
was to be bestowed. When the great roads and canals were being planned
and executed, numerous civil engineers were of course needed; and the
minute tells us that ‘it was the far-seeing sagacity of Mr Thomason
which first anticipated the necessity of training engineers in the
country itself in which they were to be employed, and which first
suggested an effectual method of doing so. On his recommendation, the
civil engineering college at Roorkee, which now rightly bears his
honoured name, was founded with the consent of the Honourable Court. It
has already been enlarged and extended greatly beyond its original
limits. Instruction in it is given to soldiers preparing for subordinate
employment in the Public Works department, to young gentlemen not in the
service of government, and to natives upon certain conditions. A higher
class for commissioned officers of the army was created some years ago,
at the suggestion of the late Sir Charles Napier; and the government has
been most ready to consent to officers obtaining leave to study there,
as in the senior department at Sandhurst. Excellent fruit has already
been borne by this institution; many good servants have already been
sent forth into [from?] the department; and applications for the
services of students of the Thomason College were, before long, received
from other local governments.’ But this was not all: civil engineering
colleges and classes were formed at Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Lahore,
and Poonah.

So greatly had the various public works on rivers and harbours, roads
and canals, telegraphic and postal communications, increased the trade
of India, that the shipping entries increased regularly year by year.
There were about six hundred vessels, exclusive of trading craft, that
ascended the Hoogly to Calcutta in 1847; by 1856, the number had
augmented to twelve hundred; and the tonnage had risen in a still
greater ratio.

What is the English nation to think of all this, and how reconcile it
with the tragedies destined so soon to afflict that magnificent country?
Here we find the highest representative of the British crown narrating
and describing, in words too clear to be misunderstood, political and
commercial advancements of a really stupendous kind, effected within the
short period of eight years. We read of vast territories conquered,
tributary states annexed, amicable relations with other states
strengthened, territorial revenues increased, improved administration
organised, the civil service purified, legislative reforms effected,
prison-discipline improved, native colleges and schools established,
medical aid disseminated, thuggee and dacoitee put down, suttee and
infanticide discouraged, churches and chapels built, ministers of
religion salaried. We are told of the cultivation of raw produce being
fostered, the improvement of live-stock insured, the availability of
mineral treasures tested, exact territorial surveys completed,
stupendous irrigation and navigation canals constructed, flotillas of
river-steamers established, ports and harbours enlarged and deepened,
magnificent roads formed, long lines of railway commenced, thousands of
miles of electric telegraph set to work, vast postal improvements
insured. We read all this, and we cannot marvel if the ruler of India
felt some pride in his share of the work. But still the problem remains
unsolved—was the great Revolt foreshadowed in any of these achievements?
As the mutiny began among the military, it may be well to see what
information is afforded by the minute concerning military reforms
between the years 1848 and 1856.

It is truly remarkable, knowing what the English nation now so painfully
knows, that the Marquis of Dalhousie, in narrating the various
improvements introduced by him in the military system, passes at once to
the _British_ soldiers: distinctly asserting that ‘the position of the
_native_ soldier in India has long been such as to leave hardly any
circumstance of his condition in need of improvement.’ The British
troops, we are told, had been benefited in many ways. The terms of
service in India had been limited to twelve years as a maximum; the
rations had been greatly improved; malt liquor had been substituted for
destructive ardent spirits; the barracks had been mostly rebuilt, with
modifications depending on the climate of each station; separate
barracks had been set apart for the married men of each regiment;
lavatories and reading-rooms had become recognised portions of every
barrack; punkhas or cooling fans had been adopted for barracks in hot
stations, and additional bed-coverings in cold; swimming-baths had been
formed at most of the stations; soldiers’ gardens had been formed at
many of the cantonments; workshops and tools for handicraftsmen had been
attached to the barracks; sanitaria had been built among the hills for
sick soldiers; and arrangements had been framed for acclimatising all
recruits from England before sending them into hot districts on service.
Then, as to the officers. Encouragement had been offered for the
officers to make themselves proficient in the native languages. A
principle had been declared and established, that promotion by seniority
should no longer govern the service; but that the test should be ‘the
selection of no man, whatever his standing, unless he was confessedly
capable and efficient.’ With the consent of the Queen, the Company’s
officers had had granted to them the recognition, until then rather
humiliatingly withheld, of their military rank, not only in India but
throughout the world. A military orphan school had been established in
the hill districts. All the military departments had been revised and
amended, the commissariat placed on a wholly new basis, and the military
clothing supplied on a more efficient system than before.

Again is the search baffled. We find in the minute proofs only that
India had become great and grand; if the seeds of rebellion existed,
they were buried under the language which described material and social
advancement. Is it that England, in 1856, had yet to learn to understand
the native character? Such may be; for _thuggee_ came to the knowledge
of our government with astounding suddenness; and there may be some
other kind of thuggee, religious or social, still to be learned by us.
Let us bear in mind what this thuggee or thugism was, and who were the
Thugs. Many years ago, uneasy whispers passed among the British
residents in India. Rumours went abroad of the fate of unsuspecting
travellers ensnared while walking or riding upon the road, lassoed or
strangled by means of a silken cord, and robbed of their personal
property; the rumours were believed to be true; but it was long ere the
Indian government succeeded in bringing to light the stupendous
conspiracy or system on which these atrocities were based. It was then
found that there exists a kind of religious body in India, called Thugs,
among whom murder and robbery are portions of a religious rite,
established more than a thousand years ago. They worship Kali, one of
the deities of the Hindoo faith. In gangs varying from ten to two
hundred, they distribute themselves—or rather _did_ distribute
themselves, before the energetic measures of the government had nearly
suppressed their system—about various parts of India, sacrificing to
their tutelary goddess every victim they can seize, and sharing the
plunder among themselves. They shed no blood, except under special
circumstances; murder being their religion, the performance of its
duties requires secrecy, better observed by a noose or a cord than by a
knife or firearm. Every gang has its leader, teacher, entrappers,
stranglers, and gravediggers; each with his prescribed duties. When a
traveller, supposed or known to have treasure about him, has been
inveigled to a selected spot by the _Sothas_ or entrappers, he is
speedily put to death quietly by the _Bhuttotes_ or stranglers, and then
so dexterously placed underground by the _Lughahees_ or gravediggers
that no vestige of disturbed earth is visible.[1] This done, they offer
a sacrifice to their goddess Kali, and finally share the booty taken
from the murdered man. Although the ceremonial is wholly Hindoo, the
Thugs themselves comprise Mohammedans as well as Hindoos; and it is
supposed by some inquirers that the Mohammedans have ingrafted a system
of robbery on that which was originally a religious murder—murder as
part of a sacrifice to a deity.

We repeat: there _may_ be some moral or social thuggee yet to be
discovered in India; but all we have now to assert is, that the
condition of India in 1856 did not suggest to the retiring
governor-general the slightest suspicion that the British in that
country were on the edge of a volcano. He said, in closing his
remarkable minute: ‘My parting hope and prayer for India is, that, in
all time to come, these reports from the presidencies and provinces
under our rule may form, in each successive year, a happy record of
peace, prosperity, and progress.’ No forebodings here, it is evident.
Nevertheless, there are isolated passages which, read as England can
_now_ read them, are worthy of notice. One runs thus: ‘No prudent man,
who has any knowledge of Eastern affairs, would ever venture to predict
the maintenance of continued peace within our Eastern possessions.
Experience, frequent hard and recent experience, has taught us that war
from without, or rebellion from within, may at any time be raised
against us, in quarters where they were the least to be expected, and by
the most feeble and unlikely instruments. No man, therefore, can ever
prudently hold forth assurance of continued peace in India.’ Again: ‘In
territories and among a population so vast, occasional disturbance must
needs prevail. Raids and forays are, and will still be, reported from
the western frontier. From time to time marauding expeditions will
descend into the plains; and again expeditions to punish the marauders
will penetrate the hills. Nor can it be expected but that, among tribes
so various and multitudes so innumerable, local outbreaks will from time
to time occur.’ But in another place he seeks to lessen the force and
value of any such disturbances as these. ‘With respect to the frontier
raids, they are and must for the present be viewed as events inseparable
from the state of society which for centuries past has existed among the
mountain tribes. They are no more to be regarded as interruptions of the
general peace in India, than the street-brawls which appear among the
everyday proceedings of a police-court in London are regarded as
indications of the existence of civil war in England. I trust,
therefore, that I am guilty of no presumption in saying, that I shall
leave the Indian Empire in peace, without and within.’

Such, then, is a governor-general’s picture of the condition of the
British Empire in India in the spring of 1856: a picture in which there
are scarcely any dark colours, or such as the painter believed to be
dark. We may learn many things from it: among others, a consciousness
how little we even now know of the millions of Hindostan—their motives,
their secrets, their animosities, their aspirations. The bright picture
of 1856, the revolting tragedies of 1857—how little relation does there
appear between them! That there _is_ a relation all must admit, who are
accustomed to study the links of the chain that connect one event with
another; but at what point the relation occurs, is precisely the
question on which men’s opinions will differ until long and
dispassionate attention has been bestowed on the whole subject.


                                 Notes.

  [This may be a convenient place in which to introduce a few
  observations on three subjects likely to come with much frequency
  under the notice of the reader in the following chapters; namely,
  the distances between the chief towns in India and the three great
  presidential cities—the discrepancies in the current modes of
  spelling the names of Indian persons and places—and the meanings of
  some of the native words frequently used in connection with Indian
  affairs.]

  _Distances._—For convenience of occasional reference, a table of
  some of the distances in India is here given. It has been compiled
  from the larger tables of Taylor, Garden, Hamilton, and Parbury.
  Many of the distances are estimated in some publications at smaller
  amount, owing, it may be, to the opening of new and shorter routes:

                         _To Calcutta._ _To Madras._ _To Bombay._
                             Miles.        Miles.       Miles.
      From Agra                     796         1238          754
      From Allahabad                498         1151          831
      From Arcot                   1085           71          715
      From Aracan                   598         1661         1795
      From Benares                  428         1151          927
      From Bhopal                   849          944          492
      From Bombay                  1185          763
      From Calcutta                             1063         1185
      From Cawnpore                 628         1200          854
      From Delhi                    900         1372          868
      From Dinapore                 376         1337         1072
      From Furrukhabad              722         1257          892
      From Gwalior                  782         1164          680
      From Hyderabad[2]             962          398          434
      From Indore                   965          979          378
      From Jaunpore                 473         1196          972
      From Jeypoor                  921         1352          757
      From Kolapoor                1245          584          228
      From Kurachee                1610         1567          873
      From Lahore                  1241         1712         1208
      From Lucknow                  619         1253          907
      From Madras                  1063                       763
      From Masulipatam              797          322          654
      From Meerut                   906         1405          912
      From Moorshedabad             123         1186         1308
      From Mysore                  1245          290          635
      From Nagpoor                  677          713          508
      From Oodypoor                1139         1209          606
      From Patna                    369         1299         1065
      From Peshawur                1543         2014         1510
      From Pondicherry             1157           98          803
      From Poonah                  1107          667           94
      From Rungpoor                 271         1334         1456
      From Satara                  1180          609          163
      From Seringapatam            1236          281          626
      From Shahjehanpoor            735         1320          936
      From Simla                   1112         1611         1086
      From Surat                   1232          867          191
      From Tanjore                 1257          212          871
      From Trichinopoly            1254          209          835
      From Umballa                 1033         1532         1007
      From Umritsir                1193         1664         1160
      From Vellore                 1100           86          700
      From Vizagapatam              557          501          834

  _Orthography._—It is perfectly hopeless to attempt here any
  settlement of the vexed question of Oriental orthography, the
  spelling of the names of Indian persons and places. If we rely
  on one governor-general, the next contradicts him; the
  commander-in-chief very likely differs from both; authors and
  travellers have each a theory of his own; while newspaper
  correspondents dash recklessly at any form of word that first
  comes to hand. Readers must therefore hold themselves ready for
  these complexities, and for detecting the same name under two or
  three different forms. The following will suffice to shew our
  meaning:—Rajah, raja—nabob, nawab, nawaub—Punjab, Punjaub,
  Penjab, Panjab—Vizierabad, Wuzeerabad—Ghengis Khan, Gengis Khan,
  Jengis Khan—Cabul, Caboul, Cabool, Kabul—Deccan, Dekkan,
  Dukhun—Peshawur, Peshawar—Mahomet, Mehemet, Mohammed, Mahommed,
  Muhummud—Sutlej, Sutledge—Sinde, Scinde, Sindh—Himalaya,
  Himmaléh—Cawnpore, Cawnpoor—Sikhs, Seiks—Gujerat, Guzerat—Ali,
  Alee, Ally—Ghauts, Gauts—Sepoys, Sipahis—Faquir, Fakeer—Oude,
  Oudh—Bengali, Bengalee—Burhampooter, Brahmaputra—Asam,
  Assam—Nepal, Nepaul—Sikkim, Sikim—Thibet, Tibet—Goorkas,
  Ghoorkas—Cashmere, Cashmeer, Kashmir—Doab, Dooab—Sudra,
  Soodra—Vishnu, Vishnoo—Buddist, Buddhist, &c. Mr Thornton, in
  his excellent Gazetteer of India, gives a curious instance of
  this complexity, in _eleven_ modes of spelling the name of one
  town, each resting on some good authority—Bikaner, Bhicaner,
  Bikaneer, Bickaneer, Bickanere, Bikkaneer, Bhikanere, Beekaneer,
  Beekaner, Beykaneer, Bicanere. One more instance will suffice.
  Viscount Canning, writing to the directors of the East India
  Company concerning the conduct of a sepoy, spelled the man’s
  name _Shiek Paltoo_. A fortnight afterwards, the same
  governor-general, writing to the same directors about the same
  sepoy, presented the name under the form _Shaik Phultoo_. We
  have endeavoured as far as possible to make the spelling in the
  narrative and the map harmonise.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  _Vocabulary._—We here present a vocabulary of about fifty words much
  used in India, both in conversation and in writing, connected with
  the military and social life of the natives; with the initials or
  syllables P., Port., H., M., A., T., Tam., S., to denote whether the
  words have been derived from the Persian, Portuguese, Hindustani,
  Mahratta, Arabic, Tatar, Tamil, or Sanscrit languages. Tamil or
  Tamul is spoken in some of the districts of Southern India. In most
  instances, two forms of spelling are given, to prepare the reader
  for the discrepancies above adverted to:

  _Ab_, _aub_ (P.), water; used in composition thus: _Punjaub_, five
    waters, or watered by five rivers; _Doab_, a district between two
    rivers, equivalent in meaning to the Greek _Mesopotamia_.

  _Abad_ (P.), inhabited; a town or city; such as _Allahabad_, city of
    God; _Hyderabad_, city of Hyder.

  _Ayah_ (Port.), a nurse; a female attendant on a lady.

  _Baba_ (T.), a term of endearment in the domestic circle, nearly
    equivalent to the English _dear_, and applied both to a father and
    his child.

  _Baboo_, a Hindoo title, equivalent to our _Esquire_.

  _Bag_, _bágh_, a garden; _Kudsiya bágh_ is a celebrated garden
    outside Delhi.

  _Bahadoor_ (P.), brave; a title of respect added to the names of
    military officers and others.

  _Bang_ (P.), an intoxicating potion made from hemp.

  _Bazar_, _bazaar_, an exchange or market-place.

  _Begum_ (T.), a princess, a lady of high rank.

  _Bheestee_, _bihishtí_, a water-carrier.

  _Bobachee_, _báwarchí_ (T.), an Indian officer’s cook.

  _Budgerow_, _bajrá_ (S.), a Ganges boat of large size.

  _Bungalow_, _banglá_ (H.), a house or dwelling.

  _Cherry_, _cheri_ (Tam.), village or town; termination to the name
    of many places in Southern India; such as _Pondicherry_.

  _Chit_, _chittí_ (H.), a note or letter.

  _Chupatty_, _chápátí_ (P.), a thin cake of unleavened Indian-corn
    bread.

  _Coolie_, _kuli_ (T.), a porter or carrier.

  _Cutcherry_, _kacharí_ (H.), an official room; a court of justice.

  _Dacoit_, _dákáit_ (H.), a gang-robber.

  _Dâk_, _dahk_, _dawk_ (H.), the Indian post, and the arrangements
    connected with it.

  _Dewan_, a native minister or agent.

  _Dost_ (P.), a friend.

  _Feringhee_, a Frank or European.

  _Fakeer_, _fakír_ (A.), a mendicant devotee.

  _Ghazee_, _ghazi_ (A.), a true believer who fights against infidels:
    hence _Ghazeepoor_, city of the faithful.

  _Golundauze_, _golandáz_ (P.), a native artilleryman.

  _Havildar_ (P.), a native sergeant.

  _Jehad_ (A.), a holy war.

  _Jemadar_ (P.), a native lieutenant.

  _Jhageerdar_, _jaghiredar_, _jágírdár_ (P.), the holder of land
    granted for services.

  _Mohurrum_ (A.), a fast held sacred by Mohammedans on the tenth day
    of the first month in their year, equivalent to the 25th of July.

  _Musjid_ (A.), a mosque; thence _jumma musjid_ or _jum’aah masjid_,
    a cathedral or chief mosque.

  _Naik_, _naig_ (S.), a native corporal.

  _Náná_, _nena_ (M.), grandfather, a term of respect or precedence
    among the Mahrattas; _Náná Sahib_, so far from being a family or
    personal name, is simply a combination of two terms of respect
    (see _Sahib_) for a person whose real name was Dhundu Punt.

  _Nawab_, _nabob_, _núwáb_ (A.), derived from _náib_, a viceroy or
    vicegerent.

  _Nuddee_, _nadi_ (S.), a river.

  _Nullah_, _nálá_ (H.), a brook, water-course, the channel of a
    torrent.

  _Patam_, _pattanam_ (S.), a town; the termination of the names of
    many places in Southern India; such as _Seringapatam_, the city of
    Shrí Ranga, a Hindoo divinity.

  _Peon_ (P.), a messenger or foot-attendant.

  _Pore_, _poor_, a town; the final syllable in many significant
    names, such as _Bhurtpore_ or _Bharatpoor_, the town of Bharata.

  _Rajpoot_, a Hindoo of the military caste or order; there is one
    particular province in Upper India named from them _Rajpootana_.

  _Ryot_, a peasant cultivator.

  _Sahib_, _saheb_, _sáaib_ (A.), lord; a gentleman.

  _Sepoy_, _sípahí_, in the Bengal presidency, a native soldier in the
    Company’s service; in that of Bombay, it often has the meaning of
    a peon or foot-messenger.

  _Shahzadah_ (P.), prince; king’s son.

  _Sowar_ (P.), a native horseman or trooper.

  _Subadar_, _soubahdar_ (A.), a native captain.

  _Tuppal_, _tappál_ (H.), a packet of letters; the post.

  _Zemindar_, _zamindár_ (P.), a landowner.

-----

Footnote 1:

  The visitor to the British Museum, in one of the saloons of the
  Ethnological department, will find a very remarkable series of
  figures, modelled by a native Hindoo, of the individuals forming a
  gang of Thugs; all in their proper costumes, and all as they are (or
  were) usually engaged in the successive processes of entrapping,
  strangling, and burying a traveller, and then dividing the booty.

Footnote 2:

  There are two Hyderabads—one in the Nizam’s dominions in the Deccan,
  and the other in Sinde (spelt Hydrabad): it is the former here
  intended.



                               CHAPTER I.
           THE ANGLO-INDIAN ARMY AT THE TIME OF THE OUTBREAK.


The magnificent India which began to revolt from England in the early
months of 1857; which continued that Revolt until it spread to many
thousands of square miles; which conducted the Revolt in a manner that
appalled all the civilised world by its unutterable horrors—this India
was, after all, not really unsound at its core. It was not so much the
_people_ who rebelled, as the _soldiers_. Whatever grievances the
hundred and seventy millions of human beings in that wonderful country
may have had to bear; whatever complaints may have been justifiable on
their parts against their native princes or the British government; and
whatever may have been the feelings of those native princes towards the
British—all of which matters will have to be considered in later
chapters of this work—still it remains incontestable that the outbreak
was a military revolt rather than a national rebellion. The Hindoo
foot-soldier, fed and paid by the British, ran off with his arms and his
uniform, and fought against those who had supported him; the Mohammedan
trooper, with his glittering equipments and his fine horse, escaped with
both in like manner, and became suddenly an enemy instead of a friend
and servant. What effect this treachery may have had on the populace of
the towns, is another question: we have at present only to do with the
military origin of the struggle.

Here, therefore, it becomes at once necessary that the reader should be
supplied with an intelligible clue to the series of events, a groundwork
on which his appreciation of them may rest. As this work aims at
something more than a mere record of disasters and victories, all the
parts will be made to bear some definite relation one to another; and
the first of these relations is—between the mutinous movements
themselves, and the soldiers who made those movements. Before we can
well understand what the sepoys _did_, we must know who the sepoys
_are_; before we can picture to ourselves an Indian regiment in revolt,
we must know of what elements it consists, and what are its usages when
in cantonments or when on the march; and before we can appreciate the
importance of two presidential armies remaining faithful while that of
Bengal revolted, we must know what is meant by a presidency, and in what
way the Anglo-Indian army bears relation to the territorial divisions of
India. We shall not need for these purposes to give here a formal
history of Hindostan, nor a history of the rise and constitution of the
East India Company, nor an account of the manners and customs of the
Hindoos, nor a narrative of the British wars in India in past ages, nor
a topographical description of India—many of these subjects will demand
attention in later pages; but at present only so much will be touched
upon as is necessary for the bare understanding of the _facts_ of the
Revolt, leaving the _causes_ for the present in abeyance.

What are the authoritative or official divisions of the country in
reference to the governors who control and the soldiers who fight (or
ought to fight) for it? What are the modes in which a vast region,
extending more than a thousand miles in many different directions, is or
may be traversed by rebel soldiers who fight against their employers,
and by true soldiers who punish the rebels? What and who are the
soldiers thus adverted to; how many, of what races, how levied, how paid
and supported, where cantoned, how officered? These are the three
subjects that will occupy a brief chapter; after which the narrative of
the Revolt may with profit be at once entered upon.

And first, for India as an immense country governed by a people living
eight or ten thousand miles distant. Talk as we may, there are few among
us who can realise the true magnitude of this idea—the true bearing of
the relation borne by two small islands in a remote corner of Europe to
a region which has been famed since the time of Alexander the Great. The
British Empire in India—what does it denote? Even before the acquisition
of Oude, Pegu, and Nagpoor, the British possessions in India covered
nearly 800,000 square miles; but as the influence of England is
gradually extending over the protected and the hitherto independent
states, we shall best conceive the whole (without Pegu, which is
altogether eastward of what is considered India) as a compact territory
of 1,400,000 square miles—twelve times as large as the United Kingdom,
sixteen times as large as Great Britain, twenty-five times as large as
England and Wales: double the size, in fact, of Great Britain, France,
Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Prussia, and Switzerland, all
combined. Nor is this, like the Russian Empire, a vast but thinly
populated region. It contains at least a hundred and eighty millions of
human beings, more than a hundred and thirty millions of whom are the
direct subjects of Queen Victoria—that is, if anything _can_ be direct,
connected with the anomalous relations between the Crown and the East
India Company.

It comes within the knowledge of most intelligent English readers at the
present day, that this Indian Empire, governed by a curiously
complicated bargain between a sovereign and a company, has been growing
for a hundred years, and still continues growing. In fits of national
anger or international generosity, we inveigh against the Czar of Russia
for processes of aggression and plans of annexation in regions around
and between the Caspian and Black Seas, and we compassionate and assist
his weak neighbours under the pressure of his ambition; but it is only
in times of excitement or peril that we consider the extraordinary way
in which our own Indian Empire has been built up—by conquest, by
purchase, by forfeiture—and in some cases by means which, called robbery
by our enemies, do at any rate demand a little compunction from us as a
Christian people. Exactly a century ago, England scarcely occupied a
foot of ground in India; her power was almost crushed out by the native
nawab who rendered himself infamous by the episode of the Black Hole at
Calcutta; and it was in the year after that atrocity—namely, in 1757,
that Clive began those wonderful victories which established a permanent
basis for a British Empire in Hindostan. And what a continuous growth by
increment has since been displayed! The Pergunnahs, Masulipatam,
Burdwan, Midnapore, Chittagong, Bengal, Bahar, the Northern Circars,
Benares, all passed into British hands by the year 1775; the next
twenty-five years brought to us the ownership of Salsette, Nagore, Pulo
Penang, Malabar, Dindigul, Salem, Barramahal, Coimbatore, Canara,
Tanjore, and portions of the Deccan and Mysore; in the first quarter of
the present century the list was increased by the Carnatic, Gorukhpore,
the Doab, Bareilly, portions of Bundelcund, Cuttack, Balasore, Delhi,
Gujerat, Kumaon, Saugor, Khandeish, Ajmeer, Poonah, the Concan, portions
of Mahratta country, districts in Bejapore and Ahmednuggur, Singapore,
and Malacca; in the next period of equal length the acquisitions
included Assam, Aracan, Tenasserim, the Nerbudda districts, Patna,
Sumbhulpore, Koorg, Loodianah, Kurnaul, Sinde, and the Jullundur Doab;
while during the eight years of the Marquis of Dalhousie’s
administration, as we learn on his own authority, there were added Pegu,
the Punjaub, Nagpoor, Oude, Satara, Jhansi, and Berar—all these in
exactly a century.

The whole of British India is placed under a governor-general, whose
official residence is at Calcutta, and who is assisted by a kind of
cabinet or council of ministers. Formerly there were three presidencies,
under whom the whole territory was placed; two being under the governors
of Bombay and Madras, and the remainder, called the Bengal presidency,
being under the governor-general himself, who was to this extent vested
with a special as well as a general government. But in process of time
it was found impossible for this official to fulfil all the duties
imposed upon him; and the great Bengal presidency became subdivided.
There are now five local governors of great districts—the
governor-general himself, who directly rules many of the newly acquired
regions; the lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Provinces, who rules
some of the country formerly included in the presidency of Bengal; the
lieutenant-governor of the Lower Provinces, who rules the rest of that
country; and the governors of Madras and Bombay, whose range of
territory has not undergone much increase in recent years. Let us learn
a little concerning each of these five.

Madras, as a presidency or government, includes the whole of the south
of India, where its narrowed, peninsular form is most apparent, up to
about latitude 16° north, together with a strip still further north on
the east or Coromandel coast. Its greatest inland extent is about 950
miles in one direction, and 450 in another; while its shores are washed
by the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal along a coast-line of no less
than 1700 miles—unfortunately, however, very ill provided with ports and
anchorages. There are about thirty districts and states under the
governor’s rule—some as ‘regulation districts,’ others as
‘non-regulation districts,’ and others as ‘native states.’ The
difference between these three kinds may be thus briefly indicated: the
‘regulation’ districts are thoroughly British, and are governed directly
by the chief of the presidency; the ‘non-regulation’ districts are now
equally British, though of more recent acquisition, but are governed by
agents or commissioners; while the ‘native states’ have still their
native princes, ‘protected,’ or rather controlled by the British.
Without any formal enumeration, it may be well to remember that the
following names of some of these districts, all more or less familiar to
English readers as the names of towns or provinces, are included among
those belonging to the presidency or government of Madras—Masulipatam,
Nellore, Chingleput, Madras, Arcot, Cuddalore, Cuddapah, Salem,
Coimbatore, Trichinopoly, Tanjore, Madura, Tinnevelly, Malabar, Canara,
Vizagapatam, Kurnaul, Koorg,[3] Cochin, Mysore, Travancore. Some of
these are not absolutely British; but their independence is little more
than a name. There are various important towns, or places worth knowing
in connection with Indian affairs, which are included in some or other
of these districts, but not giving their names to them—such as
Seringapatam, Golcandah, Rajamandry, Juggernaut, Vellore, Pulicat,
Pondicherry (French), Tranquebar, Negapatam, Bangalore, Ootacamund,
Mangalore, Calicut.

Bombay, as a presidency, is a curiously shaped strip. Exclusive of the
subordinate territories of native princes (over which, however, the
Company exercises paramount political sway) and of Sinde, which, though
recently placed under the government of Bombay, may properly be regarded
as a distinct territory—exclusive of these, the presidency occupies a
narrow strip, of irregular outline, stretching for a considerable
distance north and south. It occupies the western coast of the
peninsula, from Gujerat on the north, to the small Portuguese settlement
of Goa on the south; and has a length of 650 miles, with a maximum
breadth of 240. The Bombay provinces included in the strip just noticed,
the neighbouring territories administered by or on behalf of native
princes, and Sinde, form three sections about equal in size, the whole
collectively being thrice as large as England and Wales. To assist the
memory, as in the last paragraph, we give the names of the chief
districts likely to be known to English readers—all of which either
belong absolutely to the presidency of Bombay, or are more or less under
the control of the governor—Surat, Baroche, Ahmedabad, Khandeish,
Poonah, Ahmednuggur, Bombay, Concan, Satara, Baroda, Kattywar, Kolapore,
Cutch, the Mahratta districts, Kurachee, Hyderabad, Shikarpore,
Khyrpore. The last four are districts of Sinde, conquered by the late
Sir Charles James Napier, and placed under the Bombay presidency as
being nearer at hand than any of the others. Besides the towns similarly
named to most of these districts, the following may be usefully
mentioned—Goa (Portuguese), Bejapore, Bassein, Aurungabad, Assaye,
Nuseerabad, Cambay.

Lower Bengal, or the Lower Provinces of Bengal, considered as a
sub-presidency or lieutenant-government, comprises all the eastern
portion of British India, bounded on the east by the Burmese and Chinese
Empires, and on the north by Nepaul, Sikim, and Bhotan; southward, it is
washed by the Bay of Bengal; while inland or westward, it reaches to a
point on the Ganges a little beyond Patna, but not so far as Benares.
Fancy might compare it in shape to a dumb-bell, surmounting the upper
part of the Bay of Bengal, which washes its shores throughout a distance
of 900 miles. Without reckoning native states under the control of the
Company, this lieutenant-governorship is considerably more than three
times as large as England and Wales; and nearly the whole of it is in
the basins of, or drained by, the two magnificent rivers Ganges and
Brahmaputra. On the principle before adopted, we give the names of
districts most likely to become familiarised to the reader—Jessore,
Burdwan, Bancorah, Bhaugulpore, Monghir, Cuttack, Balasore, Midnapore,
Moorshedabad, Rungpoor, Dacca, Silhet, Patna, Bahar, Chittagong, the
Sunderbunds, Assam, Aracan. Most of these are also the names of towns,
each the chief in its district; but there are other important towns and
places not here named—including Calcutta, Cossimbazar, Barrackpore,
Chandernagore, Serampore, Culpee, Purneah, Boglipore, Rajmahal, Nagore,
Raneegunge, Jellasore, Dinapore, Bahar, Ramghur, Burhampore.

Northwest Bengal, or the Northwestern Provinces of the Bengal
presidency, regarded as a sub-presidency or lieutenant-governorship,
comprises some of the most important and densely populated districts of
Northern India. It covers seven degrees of latitude and nine of
longitude; or, if the portion of the ‘non-regulation’ districts under
the control of this lieutenant-governor be included, the range extends
to ten degrees of latitude and twelve of longitude. Its boundary is
roughly marked by the neighbouring provinces or states of Sirhind,
Kumaon, Nepaul, Oude, Lower Bengal, Rewah, Bundelcund, and Scindiah’s
Mahratta territory; but many of these are included among its
‘non-regulation’ territories. In its limited, strictly British
territory, it is a little larger than England and Wales; but including
the ‘non-regulation’ provinces, such as Kumaon, Ajmeer, Saugor, &c., it
is vastly larger. As the chief city is Agra, the lieutenant-governorship
is often called by that name: more convenient, perhaps, than the one
officially adopted—indeed it was at one time determined, though the plan
has been postponed _sine die_, to form an entirely new and distinct
presidency, called the Presidency of Agra. The Ganges and the Jumna are
the great rivers that permeate it. As before, we give the names of the
most familiarly known divisions or districts—Delhi, Meerut, Allygurh,
Rohilcund, Bareilly, Shahjehanpoor, Bijnour, Agra, Furruckabad,
Allahabad, Cawnpore, Futtehpore, Benares, Gorukhpore, Azimghur,
Jounpore, Mirzapore, Ghazeepore; and if to these we add the names of
towns not indicated by the names of their districts—such as Simla,
Sirhind, Umballa, Loodianah, Shahabad, Buxar—it will be seen how many
places noted more or less in Indian affairs lie within this province or
lieutenant-governorship.

For the sake of brevity, it may here be remarked, we shall frequently,
in future chapters, use the names ‘Northwest Bengal’ and ‘Lower Bengal,’
instead of the tedious designations ‘Northwestern Provinces’ and
‘Lieutenant Government of Bengal.’

As to the fifth or remaining sphere of government—that which is under
the governor-general himself—it is with difficulty described; so many
are the detached scraps and patches. The overworked representative of
the crown, whether his name be Auckland or Ellenborough, Dalhousie or
Canning, finding the governorship of Bengal too onerous when added to
the governor-generalship of the whole of India, gives up his special
care of Bengal, divides it into two sub-provinces, and hands it over to
the two lieutenant-governors. But the increase of territory in British
India has been so vast within the last few years, and the difficulty so
great of deciding to which presidency they ought to belong, that they
have been made into a fifth dominion or government, under the
governor-general himself. The great and important country of the
Punjaub, acquired a few years ago, is one of the list; it is under the
governor-general, and is administered for him by a board of
commissioners. The kingdom of Oude is another, annexed in 1856, and
similarly represented by residents or commissioners acting for and under
the orders of the governor-general. The province of Nagpoor is a third:
a large country in the very centre of India, annexed in 1853, and nearly
touching all the four governorships already described. Pegu is a fourth,
wrested from the sultan of Burmah, in 1852, and placed under the
governor-general’s administration. A fifth is Tenasserim, a strip of
country stretching five hundred miles along the eastern shore of the Bay
of Bengal. There are other fragments; but the above will suffice to shew
that the governor-general has no inconsiderable amount of territory
under his immediate control, represented by his commissioners. If we
look at the names of places included within these limits, we shall be
struck with their number and importance in connection with stirring
events in India. In the Punjaub we find Peshawur, Attock, Rawul Pindee,
Jelum, Ramnugur, Chillianwalla, Wuzeerabad, Umritsir, Lahore, Jullundur,
Ghoorka, Ferozpore, Ferozshah, Moodkee; in the once independent but now
British province or kingdom of Oude will be found the names of Lucknow,
Oude, Fyzabad, Sultanpore, Khyrabad; in the territory of Nagpoor is the
town of the same name, but other towns of any note are scarce. In Pegu
and Tenasserim, both ultra-Gangetic or eastward of the Ganges, we find
Rangoon, Bassein, Prome, Moulmein, and Martaban.

The reader has here before him about a hundred and forty names of places
in this rapid sketch of the great divisional governments of India,
mostly the names of important towns; and—without any present details
concerning modes of government, or numbers governed, natural wealth or
social condition—we believe he will find his comprehension of the events
of the great Revolt much aided by a little attention to this account of
the five governments into which British India is at present divided. As
for the _original_ names of kingdoms and provinces, nawabships and
rajahships, it scarcely repays the trouble to learn them: when the
native chiefs were made pensioned puppets, the former names of their
possessions became of lessened value, and many of them are gradually
disappearing from the maps. We have ‘political residents,’ ‘government
agents,’ or ‘commissioners,’ at the capital city of almost every prince
in India; to denote that, though the prince may hold the trappings of
royalty, there is a watchful master scrutinising his proceedings, and
claiming something to do with his military forces. Such is the case at
Hyderabad in the Nizam’s territory, at Khatmandoo in Nepaul, at Gwalior
in Scindiah’s dominions, at Indore in Holkar’s dominions, at Bhopal, in
the country of the same name, at Bhurtpore and elsewhere in the Rajpoot
princes’ dominions, at Darjeeling in Sikim, at Baroda in the Guicowar’s
dominions, &c.

The semi-independent princes of India—mostly rajahs if Hindoos, nawabs
if Mohammedans—are certainly placed in a most anomalous position. There
are nearly two hundred of these vassal-kings, if we may so term
them—some owning territories as large as European kingdoms, while others
claim dominion over bits of country not larger than petty German
principalities. The whole of them have treaties and engagements with the
British government, involving the reciprocal obligations of protection
and allegiance. Some of them pay tribute, others do not; but almost all
have formally relinquished the right of self-defence, and also that of
maintaining diplomatic relations with each other. The princes are
regarded as children, expected to look up for protection only to their
great mother, the Company. The Company undertakes not only to guarantee
external safety but also internal tranquillity in these states, and is
the umpire in all quarrels between native rulers. Though not called
upon, and indeed not allowed, to defend themselves from an external
attack, the princes mostly have armies, more for show than use under
ordinary circumstances; but then they must obtain permission to do this,
and they must limit the numbers; and in some cases there is a
stipulation that if the British be at war in India, the prince must lend
his troops. It is in this sense that the independent princes of India
are said to possess, collectively, an armed force of little less than
four hundred thousand men: many of them available, according to treaty,
for British service.

Next, we may usefully pay a little attention to this question—How, in so
immense a country, do the soldiers and subjects of these several states,
British and native, travel from place to place: how do they cross
mountains where passes are few, or marshes and sandy plains where roads
are few and bad, or broad rivers where bridges are scarce? The distances
traversed by the armies are sometimes enormous. Let us open a map of
India, and see, for example, the relative positions of Calcutta, Madras,
Bombay, Delhi, Peshawur, and Kurachee at the western mouth of the Indus.
Delhi is nearly nine hundred miles from Bombay, more than nine hundred
from Calcutta by land, fifteen or sixteen hundred miles from the same
city by water-route up the Ganges and Jumna, and nearly fourteen hundred
from Madras. Kurachee, the most westerly spot in India, and destined one
day, perhaps, to be an important depôt for steamers from the Red Sea or
the Persian Gulf, is more than sixteen hundred miles from Calcutta,
nearly across the broadest part of India from east to west; while
Peshawur, at the extreme northwest or Afghan frontier, acquired by
England when the Punjaub was annexed, is no less than _two thousand_
miles from Madras. All opinions and judgments, concerning the slowness
of operations in India, must be tempered by a consideration of these
vast distances.

The rivers were the great highways of that country before roads existed,
as in other regions; and they have never ceased to be the most
frequented routes. At least such is the case in relation to the larger
rivers—such as the Ganges, Indus, Nerbudda, Kishna, Jumna, Sutlej, and
Jelum. Hindoos and Mohammedans, too poor to hire horses or palkees for
land-travel, may yet be able to avail themselves of their river-boats.

The native boats which work on the Ganges are numerous and curious in
kind. The _patella_ or baggage-boat is of saul-wood, clinker-built, and
flat-bottomed, with rather slanting outsides, and not so manageable as a
punt or a London barge; its great breadth gives it a very light draught
of water, and renders it fittest for the cotton and other up-country
products, which require little more than a dry and secure raft to float
them down the stream. The _oolak_ or common baggage-boat of the Hoogly
and Central Bengal, has a sharp bow and smooth rounded sides; it is
fitted for tracking and sailing before the wind, and is tolerably
manageable with the oar in smooth water. The Dacca _pulwar_ is more
weatherly, although, like the rest, without keel, and the fastest and
most handy boat in use for general traffic. The _budgerow_, the
_bauleah_, and the ketch-rigged pinnace, are employed by Europeans for
their personal conveyance. Besides these, there are numerous others—such
as the wood-boats of the Sunderbunds, of various forms and
dimensions—from one hundred to six thousand maunds burden (a maund being
about equal to 100 pounds troy); the salt-boats of Tumlook; the light
boats which carry betel-leaf; the Calcutta _bhur_, or cargo-boat of the
port; the Chittagong boats; the light _mug_-boats, with floors of a
single hollowed piece of timber, and raised sides, neatly attached by
sewing, with strips of bamboo over the seams; the _dinghee_; and the
_panswee_—all found within the limits of the Bengal presidency. ‘A
native traveller, according to his degree and substance, engages a
dinghee or a panswee, a pulwar or an oolak; the man of wealth puts his
baggage and attendants in these, and provides a budgerow or a pinnace
for his personal accommodation. Officers of high standing in the civil
or military service, travelling with a large retinue of servants and a
quantity of baggage, seldom have less than five or six boats (one of
them a cooking-boat, and another fitted with an oven for baking bread):
sometimes as many as fifteen when they carry their horses and equipages,
and the materials of housekeeping for their comfortable establishment on
arrival.’

Before Indian steamers were introduced, or Indian railways thought of,
the Ganges was the great highway from Calcutta to Benares, Allahabad,
and the northwestern provinces generally, in all cases where speed was
not required. The Indian government used to allow their military
servants two months and a half for proceeding to Benares, three to
Allahabad, five to Meerut, and nine to Loodianah—periods that seem to
us, in the old country, outrageous in their length. The boats were
chiefly of two of the kinds mentioned in the preceding paragraph—namely,
the pinnace, very European in its appearance, and the lofty sterned
budgerow, peculiarly Indian. Even after steamers were placed upon the
Ganges, the slow-going budgerow continued to be much used by the
Company’s officers, and by other persons going northwest—chiefly in
cases where a family and a large quantity of luggage or personal effects
had to be conveyed; for every other mode than the budgerow then becomes
very costly—and will probably so continue until the great trunk-railway
is completed. Budgerow boating is, it must be confessed, enough to
stagnate the blood of an active man who wishes to speed onward to a
scene of usefulness. As the tide ends at a few miles above Calcutta,
there is a constant downward current throughout all the rest of the
Ganges; and this current has to be struggled against during the
up-passage. If the wind be favourable, sails are hoisted; but if
otherwise, progress is made by _gooning_ or tracking, an operation
performed by the greater part of the crew proceeding on shore, and with
ropes attached to the mast-head, dragging the vessel bodily along:
wading for hours, it may be, through nullahs or creeks more than breast
high. The travellers spend much of their time on shore in the cooler
hours of the morning and evening, walking, fishing, or shooting, or
otherwise whiling away their time; for they can easily keep up with a
boat that only makes ten miles per average day. The Company have been
accustomed to make a certain allowance to each officer for
boat-accommodation up the country; and it is not unusual for two or
three to join in the hire of one budgerow, to their mutual comfort, and
with a small saving out of their allowance. They engage an attendant
dinghee as a cook-boat, to keep the culinary operations at a respectful
distance; and they fit up their budgerow with camp-tables, camp-stools,
charpoys or light bedsteads, copper chillumchees or wash-basins, rugs,
hanging lamps, canteens, bullock or camel trunks, and a few other
articles of furniture; with wine, spirits, ale, preserves, cheeses,
pickles, salt meats, hams, tongues, and other provisions, which are
cheaper at Calcutta than if purchased on the way; and with their
wardrobes, articles for the toilet, books, chess and backgammon boards,
guns, musical instruments, and other aids to lessen the tedium of a long
voyage.

Hitherto, commerce has had so much more to do with this Ganges traffic
than passenger travel, that the slowness of the progress was not felt:
as in the instance of the canals of England, which, made for goods and
not for passengers, are not blameable on the score of tardiness. The
Ganges is now, as it has been for ages, the main channel for the
commerce of Northern India. The produce of Europe, of Southern India, of
the Eastern Archipelago, of China, brought to Calcutta by ocean-going
steamers or sailing-ships, is distributed upwards to Patna, Benares,
Allahabad, Lucknow, Cawnpore, Agra, Delhi, and other great towns, almost
exclusively by the Ganges route; and the same boats which convey these
cargoes, bring down the raw cotton, indigo, opium, rice, sugar, grain,
rich stuffs, piece-goods, and other grown or manufactured commodities
from the interior, either for consumption at Calcutta and other towns on
the route, or for shipment to England and elsewhere. It is probable that
the cargo-boats and the budgerows will continue to convey a largo
proportion of the traffic of India, let steamers and railways make what
progress they may; for there is much local trading that can be better
managed by this slow, stopping, free-and-easy Ganges route of boating.

[Illustration:

  Boats on the Ganges.
]

The Ganges steamers are peculiar. Each consists of two vessels, a
_tug_ and a _flat_, neither of which is of much use without the other.
The tug contains the engine; the flat contains the passengers and
cargo; and this double arrangement seems to have been adopted as a
means of insuring light draught. Each flat contains fifteen or twenty
cabins, divided into three classes according to the accommodation, and
obtainable at a fare of twenty to thirty pounds for each cabin for a
voyage from Calcutta up to Allahabad—less in the reverse direction,
because the aid of the stream shortens the voyage. Besides this, the
passenger pays for all his provisions, and most of the furniture of
his cabin. Every passenger is allowed to take one servant free of
passage fare. The steamer proceeds only during the day, anchoring
every night; and it stops every three or four days, to take coals into
the tug, and to deliver and receive passengers. The chief of these
stopping-places are at the towns of Berhampore, Monghir, Patna,
Dinapoor, Chupra, Buxar, Ghazeepore, Benares, Chunar, and Mirzapore,
all situated on the banks of the Ganges between Calcutta and
Allahabad; and it is only during the two or three hours of these
stoppages that the passengers have an opportunity of rambling on the
shore by daylight. The tug is of iron, and drags the flat by means of
hawsers and a long beam, which latter serves both as a gangway and to
prevent collision between the two vessels. The East India Company
first established these steamers, but others have followed their
example, and help to keep up a healthy competition. The river distance
to Allahabad being eight hundred miles (three hundred in excess of the
land route), and the time of transit being about twenty days, this
gives forty miles per day as the average rate of progress of the tug
and its attendant flat or accommodation-boat. Of proposed plans for
improving this Ganges steaming, we do not speak in this place.

The Indus is less traversed by boats and steamers; but, being nearer to
England than the Ganges, it is becoming more and more important every
year, especially since the annexation of the Punjaub by the British. The
boats on the Indus take up the produce of the Persian and Arabian gulfs,
Cutch, the western districts of India, and so much of the produce of
Europe as is available for Sinde, the Punjaub, and the northwest of
India generally: taking back the produce of Afghanistan, Cashmere, the
Punjaub, Sinde, and the neighbouring countries. The boats on this river,
having fewer European travellers, do not possess so many accommodations
as those on the Ganges; the scantiness of the population, too, and the
semi-barbarous condition of the natives, tend towards the same result.
The Sutlej boats, mostly employed, are long and clumsy; when going
downwards, the stream gives them a velocity of about two miles an hour,
while the oars and sail give them barely another extra mile. They
correspond, indeed, rather with our idea of a Thames coal-barge, than
with that of a boat. The steersman and two oarsmen are at the stern,
working with a broad paddle and two oars. The passengers occupy the rest
of the vessel, in a rude bamboo cabin twelve or fourteen feet long. When
the wind and the stream are unfavourable, the sail is hauled down, and
tracking is resorted to. As the up-river return-voyage is exceedingly
slow, a passenger travelling down towards the sea is obliged to pay for
the return-voyage as well. As there are hardly any important towns on
the banks below the Punjaub, except Hyderabad, a traveller is obliged to
take almost the whole of his provisions and necessaries with him. The
journey up the stream is so insupportably tedious by these boats, that
small steamers are generally preferred; but these require very light
draught and careful handling, to prevent them from grounding on the
shoals and sandbanks, which are more numerous in the Indus than in the
Ganges.

River-travelling, it hence appears, is a very slow affair, ruinously
inadequate to the wants of any but a population in a low scale of
commercial advancement. Let us inquire, therefore, whether
land-travelling is in a condition to remedy these evils.

There are so few good roads in India, that wheel-carriages can scarcely
be trusted for any long distances. The prevailing modes of travel are on
horseback or in a palanquin. Technically, the one mode is called
_marching_; the other, _dâk_, _dakh_, or _dawk_. The former is sometimes
adopted for economy; sometimes from necessity while accompanying troops;
and sometimes, on short trips, through inclination; but as it is almost
impossible to travel on horseback during the heat of the day, the more
expensive but more regular dâk is in greater request. The horseman, when
he adopts the equestrian system, accomplishes from twelve to twenty
miles a day: sending on his servants one march or day in advance, with
tent, bedding, tent-furniture, canteen, &c., in order that they may have
a meal ready for the traveller by the time he arrives. They daily buy
fodder, fowls, eggs, milk, rice, fruit, or vegetables at the villages as
they pass through; the traveller, if a sportsman, aids the supply of his
larder with snipe, wild-fowl, quail, partridges, hares, jungle-cocks, or
bustard; but a week’s provision at a time must be made of all such
supplies as tea, coffee, dried or preserved meats, sauces, spices, beer,
or wine, at the principal towns—as these commodities are either
unattainable or very costly at the smaller stations and villages. Thus
the traveller proceeds, accomplishing eighty to a hundred and fifty
miles per week, according to his supply of horse-relays. We may get rid
of the European notions of inns and hotels on the road: the India
officer must carry his hotel with him.

We come next to the _dâk_ system, much more prevalent than travelling by
horseback. The dâk is a sort of government post, available for private
individuals as for officials. A traveller having planned his journey, he
applies to the postmaster of the district, who requires from one to
three days’ notice, according to the extent of accommodation needed. The
usual complement for one traveller consists of eight _palkee-burdars_ or
palanquin-bearers, two _mussanjees_ or torch-bearers, and two
_bangey-burdars_ or luggage-porters: if less than this number be needed,
the fact must be notified. The time and place of starting, and the
duration and localities of the halts, must also be stated; for
everything is to be paid beforehand, on the basis of a regular tariff.
The charge is about one shilling per mile for the entire set of twelve
men—shewing at how humble a rate personal services are purchasable in
India. There is also an extra charge for demurrage or delays on the
road, attributable to the traveller himself. For these charges, the
postmaster undertakes that there shall be relays of dâk servants
throughout the whole distance, even if it be the nine hundred miles from
Calcutta to Delhi; and to insure this, he writes to the different
villages and post stations, ordering relays to be ready at the appointed
hours. The stages average about ten miles each, accomplished in three
hours; at the end of which time the twelve men retrace their steps, and
are succeeded by another twelve; for each set of men belong to a
particular station, in the same way as each team of horses for an
English stage-coach belongs to a particular town. The rivers and streams
on the route are mostly crossed by ferry-boats, for bridges are scarce
in India; and this ferrying is included in the fare charged by the
postmaster; although the traveller is generally expected to give a small
fee, the counterpart to the ‘drink-money’ of Europe, to ferrymen as well
as bearers. The _palanquin_, _palankeen_, or _palkee_, is a kind of
wooden box opening at the sides by sliding shutters; it is about six
feet in length by four in height, and is suspended by two poles, borne
on the shoulders of four men. The eight bearers relieve one another in
two gangs of four each. The postmaster has nought to do with the
palanquin; this is provided by the traveller; and on its judicious
selection depends much of his comfort during the journey, for a
break-down entails a multitude of petty miseries. The average value of a
palanquin may be about ten pounds; and the traveller can generally
dispose of it again at the end of his journey. On account of the weight,
nothing is carried that can be easily dispensed with; but the traveller
manages to fit up his palanquin with a few books, his shaving and
washing apparatus, his writing materials, and a few articles in frequent
use. The regular fittings of the palanquin are a cushion or bed, a
bolster, and a few light coverings. The traveller’s luggage is mostly
carried in _petarrahs_, tin boxes or wicker-baskets about half a yard
square: a porter can carry two of these; and one or two porters will
suffice for the demands of any ordinary traveller, running before or by
the side of the palanquin. The petarrahs are hung, each from one end of
a _bangey_ or bamboo pole, the middle of which rests on the bearer’s
shoulder. The torch-bearers run by the side of the palanquin to give
light during night-travelling; the torch is simply a short stick bound
round at one end with a piece of rag or a tuft of hemp, on which oil is
occasionally dropped from a flask or a hollow bamboo; the odour of the
oil-smoke is disagreeable, and most travellers are glad to dispense with
the services of a second torch-bearer.

[Illustration:

  Palanquin.
]

Bishop Heber’s journey from Delhi to Benares was a good example of
dâk-travelling in his day; and the system has altered very little since.
He had twelve bearers, on account of his route lying partly through a
broken country. His clothes and writing-desk were placed in the two
petarrahs, carried by the two bangey-burdars. ‘The men set out across
the meadows at a good round trot of about four miles an hour, grunting
all the way like paviers in England: a custom which, like paviers, they
imagine eases them under their burden.’ Only four men can usually put
their shoulders to a palanquin at the same time; but the bishop observed
that whenever they approached a deep nullah or steep bank, the bearers
who were not at that time bearing the palanquin, but were having their
interval of rest, thrust stout bamboos under the bottom of the
palanquin, and took hold of the ends on each side; so that the strength
of several additional men was brought into requisition. In crossing a
stream, ‘the boat (the spot being a regular ferry), a broad and
substantial one, had a platform of wood covered with clay across its
middle. The palanquin, with me in it, was placed on this with its length
athwart the middle; the mangee steered, and some of the dâk-bearers took
up oars, so that we were across in a very short time.’

Private dâks are occasionally employed, a speculator undertaking to
supply the bearers. Having no large establishments to keep up, these men
can afford to undersell the government—that is, establish a lower
tariff; and they provide a little additional accommodation in other
ways. Some travellers, however, think these speculators or _chowdries_
not sufficiently to be trusted, and prefer the government dâk at higher
rates. Experienced men will sometimes dispense with the preliminary of
‘laying a dâk,’ or arranging for the whole journey: depending on their
own sagacity for hunting up bearers at the successive stations. There
have also been introduced horse-dâks, wheeled palanquins drawn by
horses; but these are only available on the great trunk-roads recently
executed by the government.

It was observed, in relation to ‘marching’ or horse-travelling, that
there are no hotels or inns on the road; there is a partial substitute,
however, that may here be noticed. The Company have established
dâk-bungalows at certain stations, varying from fifteen to fifty miles
apart, according as the road is much or little frequented. These places
are under the control of government officers: a _khitmutgar_ or servant,
and a porter, attend at each; the traveller pays a fixed sum for the use
of the room, and makes a separate bargain for any few articles of
provisions that may be obtainable. The building is little more than a
thatched house of one story, divided into two small rooms, to each of
which a bathing-room is attached. The servant cooks and serves a meal,
while the porter assists in subsidiary offices. If a traveller does not
choose to avail himself of these bungalows, he can travel continuously
in his palanquin, sleeping and waking by turns. This, however, is a
great trial for most persons; because the bearers make an unpleasant
grunting noise as an accompaniment to their movements; and moreover,
unless well drilled, they do not balance the palanquin well, but subject
its inmate to distressing joltings.

[Illustration:

  Indian Domestics.

  1. Dirgee—tailor. 2. Khitmutgar writing the accounts of the previous
    day. 3. Sepoy after parade. 4. Maitre, or house-cleaner. 5.
    Dobee—washerman. 6. Chuprassee going out with gun before a
    shooting-party. 7. Chuprassee—letter-carrier. 8. Bengalee Pundit, or
    scholar.
]

It has been placed upon record, as an instructive commentary on the
immense distances to be traversed in India, the imperfection of most of
the roads, and the primitive detail of travelling arrangements—that when
Viscount Hardinge was engaged in the Punjaub campaign in 1846, one
hundred European officers were sent off from Calcutta to aid him.
Although the distance was nearly fifteen hundred miles, nothing more
rapid than palanquin travelling was available; and, as a consequence,
the journey became so tediously prolonged that only thirty out of the
hundred officers arrived at the Sutlej before the campaign was over.
Palanquin-bearers were posted at different stations to carry three
persons daily; and it was calculated that, assuming twelve bearers to be
posted at every station, and the stations eight miles apart on an
average, the duty must have required the services of _seven thousand_ of
these men—all to carry one hundred officers: a waste of muscular energy
singular to contemplate by the light of an Englishman’s home experience.

The Indian post is still more simple than the dâk. It is conducted by
runners, each of whom slings his mail-bag on the end of a stick over his
shoulder. He runs five miles in an hour, and then gives his bag to
another man, who runs five miles in an hour; and so on. Strictly
speaking, dâk is an appellation properly belonging to this
letter-carrying system. It is equivalent to the English _post_; and as
the English have adopted the custom of applying the term post to quick
travelling as well as to letter-carrying, in like manner have the
Anglo-Indians adopted a double application of the word dâk. It is only
the express or quick dâk which maintains a speed of five miles an hour;
the ordinary speed, when the letter-bag is heavy, is four miles. In
order that the runners may not be required to go far from their homes,
each man carries his bag one stage, exchanges bags with another runner
who has come in the opposite direction, and then returns. A letter may
thus be conveyed a hundred miles in a day—a distance which, considering
the nature of the system, is quite as great as can reasonably be
expected. Horse and camel dâks are occasionally employed; but they are
not easily available, except on good roads. Besides the letter-dâk,
there is a parcel-dâk or _bangey_, the runner carrying a packet or box,
in which small parcels or newspapers are placed.

It will become a duty, in a later portion of this work, to notice
somewhat fully the railway schemes of India, in relation to the plans
for developing the industrial resources of that great region; but at
present this would be out of place, since the Revolt has been dependent
on the actual, not the prospective. This actuality, so far as concerns
means and modes of travelling, is summed up in a few words. An Indian
officer, we have seen, must travel to his station by horse or by
palanquin if on land, by drag-boat or by steam-boat if on the rivers. In
any case his rate of progress is slow; his movements are encumbered by a
train of servants, by a whole bazarful of furniture and culinary
apparatus, and by an anxiously selected provision for his larder. To
move quickly is well-nigh impossible: all the conditions for it are
wanting. Improvements, it is true, are in progress: steamers of light
draught and rapid movement are being planned for the rivers; the great
trunk-road from Calcutta to the Afghan frontier is beginning to offer
facilities for wheel-carriage transport; and the railways are beginning
to shew their iron tracks in various regions; nevertheless, these are
rather indications of the future than appliances for the present; and
the Indian officers are not yet in a position to say much about them
from personal experience. The humbler soldiers, whether Europeans or
sepoys, are of course less favourably served than the officers. There is
no Weedon in India, connected by rail with a Chatham, a Portsmouth, a
Liverpool, a Leeds, along which a whole regiment can be conveyed in a
few hours; and as saddle-horses and palanquins are out of the question
for infantry privates, it becomes necessary to trudge on foot along such
roads as may be available, or to linger on the tardy river route. Once
now and then, it is true, a daring man, a Napier or an Edwardes, will
swiftly send a small body of troops over a sandy desert or a marshy
plain on camels, horses, elephants, or some exceptional modes of
conveyance; but the prevalent characteristics of travel are such as have
here been described, and such will doubtless be the case for many years
to come.

Such, then, being the territorial arrangements by which Anglo-Indian
troops are considered to belong to different presidencies and states;
and such the modes in which military as well as civilians must move from
place to place in those territories; we shall be prepared next to
understand something about the soldiers themselves—the Anglo-Indian
army.

In no country in Europe is there an army so anomalous in its
construction as that which, until lately, belonged to the East India
Company. Different kinds of troops, and troops from different provinces,
we can well understand. For instance, the French avail themselves of a
few Algerine Arabs, and a small foreign legion, as components in the
regular army. The English have a few colonial corps in addition to the
Queen’s army. The Prussians have a _landwehr_ or militia equal in
magnitude to the regular army itself. The Russians have military
colonists as well as military tributaries, in addition to the great
_corps d’armée_. The Austrians have their peculiar Military Frontier
regiments, besides the regular troops furnished by the dozen or score of
distinct provinces and kingdoms which form their empire. The German
States provide their several contingents to form (if the States can ever
bring themselves to a unity of opinion) an Army of the Confederation.
The Neapolitans employ Swiss mercenaries as a portion of their army. The
Romans, the subjects of the pope as a temporal prince, have the
‘protection’ of French and Austrian bayonets, in addition to a small
native force. The Turks have their regular army, aided (or sometimes
obstructed) by the contingents of vassal-pachas and the irregulars from
mountain districts. But none of these resemble the East India Company’s
army. Under an ordinary state of affairs, and without reference to the
mutiny of 1857, the Indian army is in theory a strange conglomerate. The
Queen _lends_ some of her English troops, for which the Company pay; the
Company enlist other English troops on their own account; they maintain
three complete armies among the natives of India who are their subjects;
they raise irregular corps or regiments in the states not so fully
belonging to them; they claim the services of the troops belonging to
certain tributary princes, whenever exigency arises; and the whole of
these troops are placed under the generalship of a commander-in-chief,
who is appointed—not by the Company, who have to pay for all—but by the
Queen or the British government.

The Company’s army rose by degrees, as the territorial possessions
increased. At first the troops were little better than adventurers who
sold their swords to the highest bidders, and fought for pay and rations
without regard to the justice of the cause in which they were engaged;
many were liberated convicts, many were deserters from various European
armies, some were Africans, while a few were Topasses, a mixed race of
Indo-Portuguese. The first regular English troops seen in Bengal were an
ensign and thirty privates, sent from Madras to quell a petty
disturbance at the Company’s factory in the Hoogly. Gradually, as the
numbers increased and the organisation improved, the weapons underwent
changes. The troops originally were armed with muskets, swords, and
pikes twelve or fourteen feet long: the pikemen in the centre of the
battalion or company, and the musketeers on the flank. In the beginning
of the last century the pikes were abandoned, and the soldiers armed
with bayonets in addition to the muskets and swords. When the custom was
adopted, from European example, of forming the companies into a regular
battalion, the swords were abolished, and the common soldiers left only
with muskets and bayonets. Various changes were made during the century,
assimilating the troops more and more to those of the English crown, in
weapons and accoutrements.

The regiments became, by successive ameliorations, composed almost
wholly of native Hindoos and Mohammedans, officered to some extent by
Europeans. An English sergeant was given to each company, and a
drill-sergeant and sergeant-major to each battalion. Afterwards, when
the battalions were formed into regiments, natives were appointed as
sergeants of companies; and then the only European non-commissioned
officers were a sergeant-major and a quartermaster-sergeant. By the time
of Lord Clive’s achievements, just about a century ago, three armies
were owned by the Company—one in Bengal or the Calcutta presidency, one
in the Coromandel or Madras presidency, and one on the Malabar coast,
south of the present station of Bombay. These three armies were totally
separate and distinct, each under its own commander, and each presenting
some peculiarities of organisation; but they occasionally joined as one
army for large military operations. There were many native corps, and a
few European corps; but all alike were officered by Europeans. The
cadet, the young man sent out from England to ‘make his fortune’ in
India, was appointed to a native corps or a European corps at the choice
of the commander. The pay being good and regular, and the customs and
prejudices respected, the sepoys, sipahis, or native soldiers became in
most cases faithful servants to the Company, obeying their native
officers, who, in their turn, were accountable to the European officers.
The European and the native corps were alike formed by enlistment: the
Company compelling no one to serve but those who deemed the pay and
other arrangements sufficient. An endeavour was made at that time
(afterwards abandoned) to equalise the Hindoos and Mohammedans in
numbers as nearly as possible.

From an early period in the Company’s history, a certain number of
regiments from the British royal army were lent for Indian service; the
number being specified by charter or statute; and the whole expense, of
every kind, being defrayed by the Company—including, by a more modern
arrangement, retiring pay and pensions. There were thus, in effect, at
all times two English armies in India; the one enlisted by the Company,
the other lent by the Crown; and it was a matter of some difficulty to
obviate jealousies and piques between the two corps. For, on the one
hand, the officers of the Company’s troops had better pay and more
profitable stations assigned to them; while, on the other hand, the
royal officers had precedence and greater honour. A Company’s captain,
however so many years he might have served, was subordinate even to the
youngest royal captain, who assumed command over him by right. At
length, in 1796, the commissions received by the Company’s officers were
recognised by the crown; and the two corps became placed on a level in
pay and privileges.

The year just named witnessed a new organisation also of the native
army. A regiment was ordered to be of two thousand men, in two corps or
battalions of one thousand each; and each battalion was divided into ten
companies, with two native officers to each company. Thus there were
forty native officers in each of these large regiments. Besides these,
there were half as many European officers as were allowed to a European
regiment of the same magnitude. There had before been a native
commandant to each battalion; but he was now superseded by a European
field-officer, somewhat to the dissatisfaction of the men. The service
occasionally suffered from this change; for a regiment was transferred
at once from a native who had risen to command by experience and good
conduct, to a person sent out from England who had to learn his duties
as a leader of native troops after he went out. The youngest English
ensign, perhaps a beardless boy, received promotion before any native,
however old and tried in the service. And hence arose the custom,
observed down to recent times, of paying no attention to the merits of
the natives as a spur to promotion, allowing seniority to determine the
rise from one grade to another.

While on the one hand the natives volunteered as soldiers in the
Company’s service, and were eligible to rise to a certain rank as
regimental officers; the English officers, on the other, had their own
particular routine and hopes of preferment. The cadets or youths went
out partially educated by the Company in England, especially those
intended for the artillery and engineer departments; and when settled
with their regiments in India as officers, all rose by seniority; the
engineers and artillery in their own corps, the cavalry and infantry in
their own regiments. It often happened, however, that when few deaths
occurred by war, officers reached middle life without much advancement,
and retired after twenty years or more of service with the pay of the
rank they then held. In 1836, however, a law was made to insure that the
retiring allowance should not be below a certain minimum: if an officer
served twenty-three years, he retired with captain’s pay; if
twenty-seven years, with major’s pay; if thirty-one years, with
lieutenant-colonel’s pay; if thirty-five years, with colonel’s
pay—whatever might have been his actual rank at the date of his
retirement. There was also permission for them to sell their
commissions, although those commissions were not bought by them in the
first instance.

Unquestionably the sepoy was well paid, considering the small value of
labour and personal services in his country; and thus it arose that the
Company had seldom any difficulty in obtaining troops. The sepoys were
volunteers in the full sense of the word. Their pay, though small in our
estimation, was high in proportion to the station they formerly held.
The Bengal Infantry sepoy received seven rupees (fourteen shillings) per
month, with an additional rupee after sixteen years’ service, and two
after twenty years. A havildar or sergeant received fourteen rupees; a
jemadar or lieutenant twenty-four rupees; and a subadar or captain
sixty-seven rupees. This pay was relatively so good, that each man was
usually able to send two-thirds of it to his relations. And he was not a
stranger to them at the end of his term, like a Russian soldier; for it
was a part of the system to allow him periodical furlough or leave of
absence, to visit his friends. If unfit for military service after
fifteen months’ duty, he retired on a life-pension sufficient to support
him in his own simple way of life. Whether he _ought_, in moral
fairness, to be grateful towards the rulers who fed and clothed him, is
just one of those questions on which Indian officers have differed and
still differ. Viewed by the aid of the experience furnished by recent
events, many of the former encomiums on the sepoys, as men grateful for
blessings conferred, read strangely. The Marquis of Dalhousie’s
statement, that ‘The position of the native soldier in India has long
been such as to leave hardly any circumstance of his condition in need
of improvement,’ has already been adverted to. To this we may add the
words of Captain Rafter: ‘We assert, on personal knowledge and reliable
testimony, that the attachment of the sepoy to his English officer, and
through him to the English government, is of an enduring as well as an
endearing nature, that will long bid defiance to the machinations of
every enemy to British supremacy, either foreign or domestic.’[4] In
another authority we find that the sepoy, when his term of military
service has expired, ‘goes back to live in ease and dignity, to teach
his children to love and venerate that mighty abstraction the Company,
and to extend the influence of England still further throughout the
ramifications of native society. Under such a system, although temporary
insubordination may and sometimes does occur in particular regiments, it
is invariably caused by temporary grievances. General disaffection
cannot exist—desertion is unknown.’ But the validity or groundlessness
of such opinions we do not touch upon here: they must be reserved to a
later chapter, when the _causes_ of the mutiny will come under review.
We pass on at once, therefore, from this brief notice of the origin of
the Company’s army, to its actual condition at and shortly before the
period of the outbreak.

Should it be asked what, during recent years, has been the number of
troops in India, the answer must depend upon the scope given to the
question. If we mention Queen’s troops only, the number has been usually
about 24,000; if Queen’s troops and the Company’s European troops, about
42,000; if the Company’s native regulars be added to these, the number
rises to 220,000; if the Company’s irregular corps of horse be included,
there are 280,000; if it include the contingents supplied by native
princes, the number amounts to 320,000; and lastly, if to these be added
the armies of the independent and semi-independent princes, more or less
available by treaty to the Company, the total swells to 700,000 men.

As exhibiting in detail the component elements of the Company’s
Anglo-Indian army at a definite period, the following enumeration by
Captain Rafter may be adopted, as applicable to the early part of 1855.
Certain minor changes were made in the two years from that date to the
commencement of the outbreak; but these will be noticed in later pages
when necessary, and do not affect the general accuracy of the list. The
three presidencies are kept separate, and the three kinds of
troops—regiments of the royal army, the Company’s native regular
regiments, and native irregular regiments—are also kept separate.

First we take the Bengal presidency in all its completeness, stretching
almost entirely across Northern India from the Burmese frontier on the
east, to the Afghan frontier on the west:

                           BENGAL PRESIDENCY.

                           _Queen’s Troops._

  Two regiments of light cavalry.
  Fifteen regiments of infantry.
  One battalion of 60th Rifles.

                      _Company’s Regular Troops._

  Three brigades of horse-artillery, European and native.
  Six battalions of European foot-artillery.
  Three battalions of native foot-artillery.
  Corps of Royal Engineers.
  Ten regiments of native light cavalry.
  Two regiments of European fusiliers.
  Seventy-four regiments of native infantry.
  One regiment of Sappers and Miners.

                   _Irregular and Contingent Troops._

  Twenty-three regiments of irregular native cavalry.
  Twelve regiments of irregular native infantry.
  One corps of Guides.
  One regiment of camel corps.
  Sixteen regiments of local militia.
  Shekhawuttie brigade.
  Contingents of Gwalior, Jhodpore, Malwah, Bhopal, and Kotah.

The European troops here mentioned, in the Company’s regular army, are
those who have been enlisted in England or elsewhere by the Company’s
agents, quite irrespective of the royal or Queen’s army. The above
forces, altogether, amounted to somewhat over 150,000 men. Let us now
glance at another presidency:

                           MADRAS PRESIDENCY.

                           _Queen’s Troops._

  One regiment of light cavalry.
  Five regiments of infantry.

                      _Company’s Regular Troops._

  One brigade of horse-artillery, European and native.
  Four battalions of European foot-artillery.
  One battalion of native foot-artillery.
  Corps of Royal Engineers.
  Eight regiments of native light cavalry.
  Two regiments of European infantry.
  Fifty-two regiments of native infantry.

No irregular or contingent troops appear in this entry.

                           BOMBAY PRESIDENCY.

                           _Queen’s Troops._

  One regiment of light cavalry.
  Five regiments of infantry.

                      _Company’s Regular Troops._

  One brigade of horse-artillery, European and native.
  Two battalions of European foot-artillery.
  Two battalions of native foot-artillery.
  Corps of Royal Engineers.
  Three regiments of native light cavalry.
  Two regiments of European infantry.
  Twenty-nine regiments of native infantry.

                   _Irregular and Contingent Troops._

  Fifteen regiments of irregular native troops.

The European and the native troops of the Company are not here
separated, although in effect they form distinct regiments. So costly
are all the operations connected with the Anglo-Indian army, that it
has been calculated that every English soldier employed in the East,
whether belonging to the Queen’s or to the Company’s forces, costs, on
an average, one hundred pounds before he becomes available for
service, including his outfit, his voyage, his marching and barracking
in India. This of course relates to the privates; an officer’s cost is
based upon wholly distinct grounds, and can with difficulty be
estimated. The greatly increased expenditure of the Company on
military matters has partly depended on the fact that the European
element in the armies has been regularly augmenting: in 1837 there
were 28,000 European troops in India; in 1850 the number was 44,000,
comprising 28,000 Queen’s troops, and 16,000 belonging to the Company;
while the new charter of 1854 allowed the Company to raise 24,000, of
whom 4000 were to be in training in England, and the rest on service
in India. What was the number in 1857, becomes part of the history of
the mutiny. In the whole Indian army, a year or two before this
catastrophe, there were about 5000 European officers, governing the
native as well as the European regiments; but of this number, so many
were absent on furlough or leave, so many more on staff appointments,
and so many of the remainder in local corps and on civil duties, that
there was an insufficiency of regimental control—leading, as some
authorities think, in great part to the scenes of insubordination; for
the native officers, as we shall presently see, were regarded in a
very subordinate light. There was a commander-in-chief for each of the
three presidencies, controlling the three armies respectively; while
one of the three, the commander-in-chief of the Bengal army, held at
the same time the office of commander-in-chief of the whole of the
armies of India, in order that there might be a unity of plan and
purpose in any large combined operations. Thus, when Sir Colin
Campbell went out to India in the summer of 1857, his power was to be
exerted over the armies of the whole of India generally, as well as
over that of Bengal in particular.

Continuing to speak of the Indian army as it was before the year 1857,
and thereby keeping clear of the changes effected or commenced in that
year, we proceed to mention a few more circumstances connected with the
Company’s European element in that army. The formation of an Indian
officer commenced in England. As a youth, from fourteen to eighteen
years of age, he was admitted to the Company’s school at Addiscombe,
after an ordeal of recommendations and testimonials, and after an
examination of his proficiency in an ordinary English education, in
which a modicum of Latin was also expected. A probation of six months
was gone through, to shew whether he possessed the requisite abilities
and inclination; and if this probation were satisfactory, his studies
were continued for two years. His friends paid the larger portion of the
cost of his maintenance and education at the school. If his abilities
and progress were of a high class, he was set apart for an appointment
in the engineers; if next in degree, in the artillery; and if the lowest
in degree, for the infantry. At the end of his term the pupil must have
attained to a certain amount of knowledge, of which, however, very
little was professional. Supposing all to be satisfactory, he became a
military _cadet_ in the service of the Company, to be available for
Indian service as occasion arose. Having joined one of the regiments as
the lowest commissioned officer, his subsequent advancement depended in
part on his qualifications and in part on seniority. He could not, by
the more recent regulations of the Company, become a captain until he
had acquired, besides his professional efficiency, a knowledge of the
spoken and written Hindustani language, and of the Persian written
character, much used in India. When placed on the general staff, his
services might be required in any one of a number of ways quite unknown
in the Queen’s service in England: he might have a civil duty, or be
placed at the head of the police in a tract of country recently
evacuated by the military, or be made an adjutant, auditor,
quartermaster, surveyor, paymaster, judge-advocate, commissary-general,
brigade-major, aid-de-camp, barrack-master, or clothing agent. Many of
these offices being lucrative, the military liked them; but such a
bestowal created some jealousy among the civil servants of the Company,
whose prizes in the Indian lottery were thereby diminished; and, what
was worse, it shook the connection between an officer and his regiment,
rendering him neither able nor willing to throw his sympathies into his
work. No officer could hold any of these staff appointments, as they
were called, until he had been two years in the army.

The officers noticed in the last paragraph were appointed to the command
both of European and of native regiments. As to privates and
non-commissioned officers in the European regiments, they were much the
same class of men, and enlisted much in the same way, as those in the
Queen’s army. The privates or sepoys of the native regiments were of
course different, not only from Europeans, but different among
themselves. Four-fifths of the Bengal native infantry were Hindoos,
mainly of the Brahmin and Rajpoot castes; and the remainder Mohammedans.
On the other hand, three-fourths of the Bengal native cavalry were
Mohammedans, the Hindoos being generally not equal to them as troopers.
In the Madras native army, the Mohammedans predominated in the cavalry,
while the infantry comprised the two religions in nearly equal
proportions. In Bombay, nearer the nations of Western Asia, the troops
comprised volunteers of many countries and many religions—more easily
managed, our officers found, on that account.

Without at present going into the question how far the religious
feelings and caste prejudices of the natives induced a revolt, it may be
useful to shew how a regiment was constituted, of what materials, and in
what gradations. An infantry regiment in the Bengal presidency will
serve as a type.

The organisation of a Bengal native regiment, before the mutiny, was
nearly as follows: An infantry regiment consisted of about 1000
privates, 120 non-commissioned officers, and 20 native commissioned
officers. It was divided into ten companies, each containing one-tenth
of the above numbers. When stationary, the regiment seldom had barracks,
but was quartered in ten lines of thatched huts, one row for each
company. In front of each row was a small circular building for
containing the arms and accoutrements of that particular company, under
the charge of a _havildar_ or native sergeant. All these natives rose by
a strict rule of seniority: the sepoy or private soldier becoming a
_naik_ or corporal, the naik being promoted to be _havildar_ or
sergeant, the havildar in time assuming the rank of _jemadar_ or
lieutenant, and the jemadar becoming a _subadar_ or captain. All these
promotions were necessarily slow; for the English colonel of the
regiment had very little power to promote a worthy native officer or
non-commissioned officer to a higher rank. The jemadar often became a
gray-headed man of sixty before he rose to the rank of subadar, the
highest attainable by a native. As a rule, there were four or five
Hindoos to one Mohammedan in a Bengal infantry regiment; and of these
eight hundred Hindoos, it was not unfrequent to find four hundred
Brahmins or hereditary priests, and two hundred Rajpoots, a military
caste only a little lower in rank than the former; while the remaining
two hundred were low-caste Hindoos. The European officers, as will be
explained more fully further on, lived in bungalows or detached houses
near the lines of their regiment; but as the weather is too hot to admit
of much open-air duty in the daytime, these officers saw less of their
men than is customary in European armies, or than is necessary for the
due preservation of discipline. The head of a regiment was the
commander, generally a lieutenant-colonel; below him was an adjutant,
who attended to the drill and the daily reports; below him was a
quartermaster and interpreter, whose double duties were to look after
the clothes and huts of the men, and to interpret or translate orders.
Besides these three, there were ten subordinate officers for the ten
companies, each expected to make a morning scrutiny into the condition
and conduct of his men. The Europeans in a native regiment were thus
fourteen or fifteen. It is true that the _theory_ of a regiment involved
a complement of about five-and-twenty European officers; but the causes
of absenteeism, lately adverted to, generally brought down the effective
number to about twelve or fifteen. The arrangements of the infantry in
the other presidencies, and of the native cavalry all over India, each
had their peculiarities.

Leaving for future chapters a further elucidation of the relations
between the European officers and the native troops—so important in
connection with the Revolt—and a description of the sepoys in their
dresses, usages, and personal characteristics—we shall now proceed to
view the native army under two different aspects—first, when barracked
and cantoned in time of peace; and, secondly, when on the march towards
a scene of war.

And first, for the army when stationary. At Calcutta, Bombay, and
Madras, there are solidly built barracks for the whole of the soldiery,
men as well as officers; but in almost all other parts of India the
arrangements are of a slighter and less permanent character. At the
cantonments, it is true, the officers have houses; but the sepoys are
lodged in huts of their own construction. Around the cantonments at the
stations, and generally skirting the parade-grounds, are the houses or
bungalows of the officers. Within the lines of the cantonment, too, the
officers’ mess-rooms are situated; and at the larger stations may be
seen ball-rooms, theatres, and racket-courts; while outside is a
race-stand for witnessing the sports which Englishmen love in India as
well as at home.

[Illustration:

  Group of Sepoys.

  1. Subadar—major. 2. Jemadar—Lieutenant. 3. Subadar—Captain. 4.
    Naik—Corporal. 5. Havildar—Sergeant. 6. Sepoy—Private.
]

The Indian bungalows, the houses inhabited by European officers at the
different towns and stations in India, have a certain general
resemblance, although differing of course much in details. A bungalow of
good size has usually a central room called the hall, a smaller room
opening on the front verandah, a similar one opening on the back
verandah, three narrower rooms on each side of these three, and
bathing-rooms at the four corners. A verandah runs entirely round the
exterior. The central hall has only the borrowed light derived from
eight or a dozen doors leading out of the surrounding apartments: these
doors are always open; but the doorways are covered, when privacy is
desired, with the _chick_, a sort of gauze-work of green-painted strips
of fine bamboo, admitting air and light, but keeping out flies and
mosquitoes. The floors are usually of _chunam_, finely tempered clay,
covered with matting, and then with a sort of blue-striped carpet or
with printed calico. The exterior is usually barn-like and ugly, with
its huge roof, tiled or thatched, sloping down to the pillars of the
verandah. Air and shade are the two desiderata in every bungalow, and
adornment is wisely sacrificed to these. The finest part of the whole is
the surrounding space or garden, called the _compound_, from a
Portuguese word. The larger the space allowed for this compound, the
more pleasant is the residence in its centre, and the more agreeable to
the eye is a cantonment of such bungalows. The trees and fruits in these
enclosures are delicious to the sight, and most welcome to the
heat-wearied occupants of the dwellings. Officers in the Company’s
service, whether military or civil, live much under canvas during the
hot seasons, at some of the stations; and the tents they use are much
larger and more like regular habitations than those known in Europe. The
tents are double, having a space of half a yard or so between the two
canvas walls, to temper the heat of the sun. The double-poled tents are
large enough to contain several apartments, and are furnished with
glass-doors to fit into the openings. A wall of canvas separates the
outer offices and bathing-rooms. Gay chintz for wall-linings, and
printed cotton carpets, give a degree of smartness to the interior.
Movable stoves, or else fire-dishes for wood-fuel called _chillumchees_,
are provided as a resource against the chill that often pervades the air
in the evening of a hot day. The tents for the common soldiers hold ten
men each with great ease, and have a double canvas wall like the others.

[Illustration:

  Bungalow.
]

An important part of every cantonment is the bazaar, situated in
convenient proximity to the huts or tents of the troops. It comprises an
enormous number of sutlers, who sell to the soldiers those commodities
which cannot well be dispensed with, but which cannot conveniently be
provided and carried about by them. Curry stuffs, tobacco, rice, arrack
(in addition to the Company’s allowance), cotton cloth, and a
multiplicity of other articles, are sold at these bazaars; and the
market-people who supply these things, with their families, the coolies
or porters, and their hackeries or carts—add enormously to the mass that
constitutes an Indian cantonment. The sepoy has little to spend with his
sixpence a day; but then his wants are few; and his copper _pice_,
somewhat larger than the English farthing, will buy an amount of
necessaries little dreamed of in England. The Hindoos have such peculiar
notions connected with food and cooking, that the government leave them
as much to themselves as possible in those matters; and the bazaar and
sutlers’ arrangements assume a particular importance from this
circumstance.

An Anglo-Indian army we have seen at rest, in cantonments. Now let us
trace it when on a march to a scene of war; but while describing this in
the _present_ tense, we must make allowance for the changes which the
Revolt has inevitably produced.

The non-fighting men who accompany the troops greatly exceed in number
the troops themselves. Captain Munro says: ‘It would be absurd for a
captain to think of taking the field without being attended by the
following enormous retinue—namely, a _dubash_ (agent or commissionaire),
a cook, and a _maty_ boy (servant-of-all-work); if he cannot get
bullocks, he must assemble fifteen or twenty _coolies_ to carry his
baggage, together with a horse-keeper and grass-cutter, and sometimes a
dulcinea and her train, having occasionally the assistance of a barber,
a washer, and an ironer, in common with the other officers of his
regiment. His tent is furnished with a good large bed, mattress,
pillows, &c., a few camp stools or chairs, a folding table, a pair of
glass shades for his candles, six or seven trunks, with table equipage,
his stock of linens (at least twenty-four suits), some dozens of wine,
porter, brandy, and gin; with tea, sugar, and biscuit, a hamper of live
poultry, and his milch-goat. A private’s tent for holding his servants
and the overplus of his baggage is also requisite; but this is not at
the Company’s expense.’ Of course it must be inferred that all this
luxury belongs to the best of times only, and is not available in the
exigency of sudden military movements. The sepoys or common soldiers,
too, have their satellites. Each man is accompanied by his whole family,
who live upon his pay and allowances of rice from the Company. Every
trooper or horse-soldier, too, has his grass-cutter; for it is a day’s
work for one person to dig, cut, and prepare a day’s grass for one
horse.

When on the march, the tents are generally struck soon after midnight.
At the first tap of the drum, the servants knock up the tent-pins, and
down fall the tents; horses begin to neigh and the camels to cry, the
elephants and camels receive their loads of camp-equipage, the bullocks
are laden with the officers’ tents and boxes, the coolies take up their
burdens, and all prepare for the road. During the noise and bustle of
these preliminaries, the officers and men make their few personal
arrangements, aided by their servants or families; while the officers’
cooks and agents are sent on in advance, to prepare breakfast at the
next halting-place. Between one and two o’clock the regiments start off,
in columns of sections: the camp-followers, baggage, bullocks,
elephants, and camels, bringing up the rear. The European soldiers do
not carry their own knapsacks on the march; they have the luxury of
cook-boys or attendants, who render this service for them. The natives,
it is found, are able to carry heavier loads than the Europeans; or—what
is perhaps more nearly the case—they bear the burdens more patiently, as
the Europeans love soldiering better than portering. The tedium of the
journey is sometimes relieved by a hunt after antelopes, hares,
partridges, wild ducks, or wild boars, which the officers may happen to
espy, according to the nature of the country through which they are
passing. Arrived at the halting-place, everything is quickly prepared
for a rest and a breakfast; the quarter-masters push forward to occupy
the ground; the elephants and camels are disburdened of the tents; the
natives and the cattle plunge into some neighbouring pool or tank to
refresh themselves; the cooks have been already some time at work; and
the officers sit down to a breakfast of tea, coffee, curry, rice,
pillau, ham, and other obtainable dishes. The fakeers often recognise
their friends or admirers among the natives of the cavalcade, and give
loud blessings, and tom-tom drummings, in exchange for donations of the
smallest Indian coins. The quarter-masters’ arrangements are so quickly
and so neatly made, that in a short time the general’s _durbar_ appears
in the centre of a street of tents for staff-officers, dining-tents on
the one side and sleeping-tents on the other; while the bazaar-dealers
open their temporary shops in the rear. The horses are picketed in long
lines; while the elephants and camels browse or rest at leisure. Under
ordinary circumstances, the day’s marching is over by nine o’clock in
the morning, at which hour the sun’s heat becomes too fierce to be
willingly borne. Repose, amusements, and light camp-duties fill up the
remainder of the day, to be followed by a like routine on the morrow.

[Illustration:

  Troops on the March.
]

While one of these extraordinary marches is in progress, ‘when the
moving masses are touched here and there by the reddening light of the
dawn, it seems to be a true migration, with flocks and herds, cattle
loaded with baggage, men, women, and children, all in a chaos of
disorder but the troops whose wants and wishes have attracted this
assemblage. At length the country appears to awake from its sleep, and
with the yell of the jackal, or the distant baying of the village dogs,
are heard to mingle the voices of human beings. Ruddier grows the dawn,
warmer the breeze, and the light-hearted sepoy, no longer shivering with
cold, gives vent to the joyous feelings of morning in songs and
laughter. The scenes become more striking, and the long array of tall
camels, led by natives in picturesque costume, with here and there a
taller elephant mingling with droves of loaded bullocks, give it a new
and extraordinary character to a European imagination. The line of
swarthy sepoys of Upper India, with their moustached lips and tall
handsome figures, contrasts favourably with the shorter and plainer
soldiers of Britain; the grave mechanical movements of the regular
cavalry in their light-blue uniforms are relieved by the erratic
evolutions and gay and glittering dresses of the irregulars, who with
loud cries and quivering spears, and their long black locks streaming
behind them, spur backwards and forwards like the wind from mere
exuberance of spirits.... The camp-followers in the meantime present
every possible variety of costume; and among them, and not the least
interesting figures in the various groups, may frequently be seen the
pet lambs of which the sepoys are so fond, dressed in necklaces of
ribbons and white shells, and the tip of their tails, ears, and feet
dyed orange colour. The womenkind of the troops of the Peninsula
(Southern India) usually follow the drum; but the Bengalees have left
their families at home; and the Europeans bidden adieu to their
temporary wives with the air the band strikes up on quitting the
station, “The girl I left behind me.’”[5]

Such, before the great Revolt, were the usual characteristics of an
Anglo-Indian army when on the march; and, considering the _impedimenta_,
it is not surprising that the daily progress seldom exceeded ten or
twelve miles. The system was very costly, even at the cheap rate of
Indian service; for the camp-followers, one with another, were ten times
as numerous as the troops; and all, in one way or other, lived upon or
by the Company.


                                 Note.

  A parliamentary paper, issued in 1857 on the motion of Colonel
  Sykes, affords valuable information on some of the matters treated
  in this chapter. It is ‘A Return of the Area and Population of each
  Division of each Presidency of India, from the Latest Inquiries;
  comprising, also, the Area and Estimated Population of Native
  States.’ It separates the British states from the native; and it
  further separates the former into five groups, according to the
  government under which each is placed. These five, as indicated in
  the present chapter, are under the administration of ‘the
  governor-general of India in council’—the ‘lieutenant-governor of
  Bengal’—the ‘lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Provinces’—the
  ‘government of Madras’—and the ‘government of Bombay.’ In each case
  the ‘regulation districts’ are treated distinct from the
  non-regulation provinces,’ the former having been longer under
  British power, and brought into a more regular system than the
  latter. Without going again over the long list of names of places,
  it will suffice to quote those belonging to the group placed
  immediately under the governor-general’s control. This group
  comprises the Punjaub, in the six divisions of Lahore, Jelum,
  Moultan, Leia, Peshawur, and Jullundur; the Cis-Sutlej states, four
  in number; the lately annexed kingdom of Oude; the central district
  of Nagpoor or Berar; the recently acquired region of Pegu; the strip
  of country on the east of the Bay of Bengal, known as the Tenasserim
  Provinces; and the ‘Eastern Straits Settlements’ of Singapore,
  Penang, and Malacca. The whole of British India is divided into
  nearly a hundred and eighty districts, each, on an average, about
  the size of Inverness-shire, the largest county, except Yorkshire,
  in the United Kingdom. The population, however, is eight times us
  dense, per average square mile, as in this Scottish shire. Keeping
  clear of details concerning divisions and districts, the following
  are the areas and population in the five great governments:

                                              AREA.     POPULATION.
                                          Square Miles.

     Governor-general’s }                       246,050  23,255,972
     Provinces.         }

     Lower Bengal       } Regulation,           126,133  37,262,163
     Provinces.         } Non-regulation,        95,836   3,590,234

     Northwest          } Regulation,            72,052  30,271,885
     Provinces.         } Non-regulation,        33,707   3,383,308

     Madras             } Regulation,           119,526  20,120,495
     Presidency.        } Non-regulation,        12,564   2,316,802

     Bombay             } Regulation,            57,723   9,015,534
     Presidency.        } Non-regulation,        73,821   2,774,508
                                                ——————— ———————————
                              Total,            837,412 131,990,901

  In some of the five governments, the population is classified more
  minutely than in others. Thus, in the Punjaub member of the
  governor-general’s group, Hindoos are separated from non-Hindoos;
  then, each of these classes is divided into agricultural and
  non-agricultural; and, lastly, each of these is further separated
  into male and female. The most instructive feature here is the
  scarcity of females compared with males, contrary to the experience
  of Europe; in the Punjaub and Sirhind, among thirteen million souls,
  there are a million and a half more males than females—shewing,
  among other things, one of the effects of female infanticide in past
  years. The ratio appears to be about the same in the Northwest
  Provinces, around Delhi, Meerut, Rohilcund, Agra, Benares, and
  Allahabad. Not one place is named, throughout India, in which the
  females equal the males in number. In the Bombay presidency, besides
  the difference of sex, the population is tabulated into nine
  groups—Hindoos, Wild Tribes, Low Castes, Shrawniks or Jains,
  Lingayets, Mussulmans, Parsees, Jews, Christians. Of the last named
  there are less than fifty thousand, including military, in a
  population of twelve millions.

  The area and population of the native states are given in connection
  with the presidencies to which those states are geographically and
  politically related, and present the following numbers:

                                      AREA.     POPULATION.
                                  Square Miles.
            In Bengal Presidency,       515,583  38,702,206
            In Madras Presidency,        61,802   5,213,071
            In Bombay Presidency,        60,575   4,460,370
                                        ———————  ——————————
                                        627,910  48,376,247

  The enumeration of these native states is minute and intricate; and
  it may suffice to shew the complexity arising out of the existence
  of so many baby-princedoms, that one of the native states of
  Bundelcund, Kampta by name, figures in the table as occupying an
  area of _one_ square mile, and as having _three hundred_
  inhabitants!

  Including the British states, the native states, the few settlements
  held by the French and Portuguese, and the recent acquisitions on
  the eastern side of the Bay of Bengal, the grand totals come out in
  the following numbers:

                         1,466,576 Square miles,
                       180,884,297 Inhabitants,

  or 124 dwellers per square mile. Of these inhabitants, it is
  believed—though the returns are not complete in this particular—that
  there are fifteen Hindoos to one Mohammedan: if so, then India must
  contain more than a _hundred and sixty million_ worshippers of
  Hindoo deities—even after allowance is made for Buddhists, Parsees,
  and a few savage tribes almost without religion.

-----

Footnote 3:

  A young native princess was sent to England from this district to be
  educated as a _Christian_ lady; and Queen Victoria became a sponsor
  for her at a baptismal ceremony.

Footnote 4:

  _Our Anglo-Indian Army._

Footnote 5:

  Leitch Ritchie. _British World in the East._



                              CHAPTER II.
                  SYMPTOMS:—CHUPATTIES AND CARTRIDGES.


Little did the British authorities in India suspect, in the early weeks
of 1857, that a mighty CENTENARY was about to be observed—a movement
intended to mark the completion of one hundred years of British rule in
the East; and to mark it, not by festivities and congratulations, but by
rebellion and slaughter.

The officers in India remembered and noted the date well; but they did
not know how well the Mohammedans and Hindoos, the former especially,
had stored it up in their traditions. The name of Robert Clive, the
‘Daring in War,’ was so intimately associated with the date 1757, that
the year 1857 naturally brought it into thought, as a time when
Christian rule began to overawe Moslem rule in that vast country. True,
the East India Company had been connected with India during a period
exceeding two hundred years; but it was only at the commencement of the
second half of the last century that this connection became politically
important. It was remembered that—1756 having been marked by the
atrocities of the Black Hole at Calcutta, and by the utter extinction
for a time of the East India Company’s power in Bengal—the year 1757
became a year of retribution. It was remembered, as a matter of history
among the British, and of tradition among the natives, how wonderful a
part the young officer Clive performed in that exciting drama. It was
remembered that he arrived at Calcutta, at that time wholly denuded of
Englishmen, on the 2d of January in the last-named year, bringing with
him a small body of troops from Madras; that on the 4th of February,
with two thousand men, he defeated an army ten times as large, belonging
to Suraj-u-Dowlah, Nawab of Bengal—the same who had caused the
atrocities at the Black Hole, when a hundred and thirty persons died
from suffocation in a room only fitted to contain a fourth of the
number. It was further remembered how that, on the 9th of February,
Clive obtained great concessions from the nawab by treaty; that Suraj
broke the treaty, and commenced a course of treachery, in which Clive
was not slow to imitate him; that on the 13th of June, Clive, having
matured a plan equally bold and crafty, declared renewed hostilities
against the nawab; that on the 23d he gained the brilliant battle of
PLASSEY, conquering sixty thousand men with a force of only three
thousand; that within a week, Suraj-u-Dowlah, a miserable fugitive,
ended his existence; and that from that day British power had ever been
supreme in Bengal. This was a series of achievements not likely to be
forgotten by Englishmen. Ere yet the news of mutiny and murder reached
Europe, steps had been taken to render homage to Clive on the hundredth
anniversary of the battle of Plassey; the East India Company had
subscribed largely towards a statue of the hero; and a meeting in London
had decided that the chief town in Clive’s native county of Shropshire
should be selected as the spot wherein the statue should be set up.

Judging from the experience afforded by recent events, it is now clear
that the Mohammedans in India had thought much of these things, and
that the year 1857 had been marked out by them as a centenary to be
observed in a special way—by no less an achievement, indeed, than the
expulsion of the British, and the revival of Moslem power. In the
spring of the year it was ascertained that a paper was in circulation
among the natives, purporting to be a prophecy made by a Punjaub
fakeer seven hundred years ago—to the effect that, after various
dynasties of Mohammedans had ruled for some centuries, the _Nazarenes_
or Christians should hold power in India for one hundred years; that
the Christians would then be expelled; and that various events
foretold in the Koran would then come to pass, connected with the
triumph of Islamism. That this mysterious prediction was widely
credited, is probable—notwithstanding that the paper itself, if really
circulated, must manifestly have been an imposture of recent date; for
the English nation was not known even by name to the natives of India
seven hundred years ago. Setting aside, at present, all inquiries
concerning the first authors of the plot, the degree to which the
Company’s annexations had provoked it, the existence of any grievances
justifiably to be resisted, the reasons which induced Hindoos to join
the Mohammedans against the British, or the extent to which the
general population shared the views of the native military—laying
aside these inquiries for the present, there is evidence that a great
movement was planned for the middle of the year 1857. Of this plan the
British government knew nothing, and suspected little.

But although no vast plot was suspected, several trifling symptoms had
given cause for uneasiness and the English public learned, when too
late, that many Indian officers had long predicted the imminency of some
outbreak. Insubordination and mutiny, it was found, are not faults of
recent growth among the native troops of India. Now that the startling
events of 1857 are vividly presented to the public mind, men begin to
read again the old story of the outbreak at Vellore, and seek to draw
instruction therefrom. A little more than half a century ago—namely, on
the 10th of July 1806—the European barracks at Vellore were thrown into
a state of great excitement. This town is in the Carnatic, a few miles
west of Madras, and in the presidency of the same name. At two o’clock
in the morning, the barracks, containing four companies of the 69th
regiment, were surrounded by two battalions of sepoys in the Company’s
service, who poured in a heavy fire of musketry, at every door and
window, upon the soldiers. At the same time the European sentries, the
soldiers at the mainguard, and the sick in the hospital, were put to
death. The officers’ houses were ransacked, and everybody found in them
murdered. Upon the arrival of the 19th Light Dragoons, under Colonel
Gillespie, the sepoys were immediately attacked; six hundred were cut
down upon the spot, and two hundred taken from their hiding-places to be
shot. There perished of the four European companies, a hundred and
sixty-four, besides officers; and many British officers of the native
troops were also murdered. Nothing ever came to light concerning the
probable cause of the outrage, but this—that an attempt had been made by
the military men at Madras to _change the shape of the sepoy turban_
into something resembling the helmet of the light infantry of Europe,
which would prevent the native troops from wearing on their foreheads
the marks characteristic of their several castes. The sons of Tippoo
Saib, the deposed ruler of Mysore, together with many distinguished
Mohammedans deprived of office, were at that time in Vellore; and the
supposition is, that these men contributed very materially to excite or
inflame the suspicions of the Hindoos, concerning an endeavour to tamper
with their religious usages. There was another mutiny some time
afterwards at Nundeydroog, in the same presidency; and it was found
indispensable to disarm four hundred and fifty Mohammedan sepoys, who
had planned a massacre. At Bangalore and other places a similar spirit
was exhibited. The governor of Madras deemed it necessary, in very
earnest terms, to disclaim any intention of tampering with the native
religion. In a proclamation issued on the 3d of December, he said: ‘The
right honourable the governor in council having observed that, in some
late instances, an extraordinary degree of agitation has prevailed among
several corps of the native army of this coast, it has been his
lordship’s particular endeavour to ascertain the motives which may have
led to conduct so different from that which formerly distinguished the
native army. From this inquiry, it has appeared that many persons of
evil intention have endeavoured, for malicious purposes, to impress upon
the native troops a belief that it is the wish of the British government
to convert them by forcible means to Christianity; and his lordship in
council has observed with concern that such malicious reports have been
believed by many of the native troops. The right honourable the governor
in council, therefore, deems it proper, in this public manner, to repeat
to the native troops his assurance, that the same respect which has been
invariably shewn by the British government for their religion and their
customs, will be always continued; and that no interruption will be
given to any native, whether Hindoo or Mussulman, in the practice of his
religious ceremonies.’ Notwithstanding the distinctness of this
assurance, and notwithstanding the extensive promulgation of the
proclamation in the Tamul, Telinga, and Hindustani languages—the ferment
continued a considerable time. Even in March 1807, when some months had
elapsed, so universal was the dread of a general revolt among the native
troops, that the British officers attached to the Madras army constantly
slept with loaded pistols under their pillows.

In the interval between 1806 and 1857, nothing so murderous occurred;
but, among the Bengal troops, many proofs of insubordination were
afforded; for it repeatedly occurred that grievances, real or pretended,
led to combinations among the men of different regiments. In 1835, Lord
William Bentinck, acting on a principle which had often been advocated
in England, abolished flogging in the Indian army; this appears to have
raised the self-pride rather than conciliated the good-will of the
troops: insubordination ensued, and several regiments had to be
disbanded. Again, in 1844, when several Bengal regiments were ordered to
march to Sinde, the 34th native infantry refused; whereupon Lord
Ellenborough, at that time governor-general, ignominiously disbanded the
regiment in presence of the rest of the army. Again, in 1849, Sir Colin
Campbell, serving under Sir Charles Napier, reported that the 22d Bengal
regiment had mutinied on a question of pay, in which they were clearly
in the wrong; but as the Punjaub was at that time in a critical state,
Sir Charles did that which was very opposite to his general character—he
yielded to an unjust demand, as a measure of prudence. It may have been
that the sepoys counted on this probability when they mutinied. No less
than forty-two regiments were ascertained to be in secret correspondence
on this matter, under Brahminical influence—one of whom went so far as
to threaten the commanding officer that they could stop enlistment if
they chose. In 1850, Napier was compelled to disband the 66th regiment,
for mutiny at Peshawur. In 1852, the 38th regiment was ordered to
proceed to Burmah; the men objected to the sea-voyage, and refused to
depart; and the authorities in this case gave way.

Like as, in the ordinary affairs of life, men compare notes after a
disaster, to ascertain whether any misgiving had silently occupied their
minds concerning causes and symptoms; so did many military officers,
observing that the troubles were all or mostly in Bengal, or where
Bengal troops operated, come forward to state that they had long been
cognizant of a marked difference between the Bengal army on the one
hand, and the Bombay and Madras armies on the other. Lord Melville, who,
as General Dundas, had held a command during the Punjaub campaign,
expressed himself very strongly in the House of Lords shortly after news
of the mutiny arrived. He stated that, in the Bengal army, the native
officers were in nearly all cases selected by seniority, and not from
merit; that they could not rise from the ranks till old age was creeping
on them; and that a sort of hopelessness of advancement cankered in the
minds of many sepoys in the middle time of life. In the Bombay and
Madras armies, on the contrary, the havildars or sergeants were selected
for their intelligence and activity, and were recommended for promotion
by the commanding officers of the regiments. It might possibly be a
theory unsusceptible of proof, that this difference made the one army
mutinous and the other two loyal; but Lord Melville proceeded to assert
that the Bengal troops were notoriously less fully organised and
disciplined, more prone to insubordination, than the troops of the other
two presidencies. He stated as an instance, that when he commanded the
Bombay army in the Punjaub frontier in 1849, the Bengal regiments were
mutinous; while the Bombay troops remained in soldierly subordination.
Indeed these latter, which he commanded in person, were credited by his
lordship with having exhibited the highest qualities of brave and
faithful troops. He detailed an incident which had occurred at the siege
of Moultan. A covering-party having been ordered into the trenches, some
disturbance soon afterwards arose; and an English officer found that
many soldiers of the Bengal army had been endeavouring to prevent the
men belonging to one of the Bombay regiments from digging in the
trenches in discharge of their duty, on the ground that the sepoys’ duty
_was to fight and not to work_. Again: after the assault of Moultan, an
officer in command of one of the pickets was requested to post a
sergeant and twelve men at one of the gates of the town; this was done;
but not long afterwards, three native officers of the Bengal engineers
were detected in an endeavour to pass the gate with stores which they
were about to plunder or appropriate. Although the views of Lord
Melville were combated by a few other officers, there was a pretty
general concurrence of opinion that the Bengal native army, through some
circumstances known or unknown, had long been less obedient and orderly
than those of the other two presidencies.

As it is the purpose of the present chapter to treat rather of the facts
that preceded the horrors of Meerut and Cawnpore, than of the numerous
theories for explaining them, we shall not dwell long in this place on
the affairs of Oude, in connection with the Revolt; but so general is
the opinion that the annexation of that kingdom was one of the
predisposing causes of the late calamities, that it may be right to
glance slightly at the subject.

Oude—once a nawabship under the great Mogul, then a kingdom, and the
last remaining independent Mohammedan state in Northern India—was
annexed in the early part of 1856; and although the governor-general
sought to give a favourable account, both in its reasons and its
results, of that momentous measure, there are not wanting grounds for
believing that it made a deep impression on the minds of the natives,
unfavourable to the English—among the military, if not among the people
at large. The deposed king, with his family and his prime-minister, came
to live at Calcutta in April 1856; and in the following month his
mother, his brother, and one of his sons, proceeded in great state to
England, to protest before Queen Victoria against the conduct of the
governor-general and of the East India Company, in having deprived them
of their regal position: prepared to prove, as they everywhere
announced, that no justifiable grounds had existed for so harsh a step.
Whether they sincerely believed this, or whether it was a blind to hide
ulterior objects, could not at that time be determined. It is one among
many opinions on the subject, that the courtiers around the deposed king
gradually organised a plot against the British power; that the Queen of
Oude’s visit to England was merely intended to mask the proceedings
arising out of this plot; that the conspirators brought over to their
views the Mogul of Delhi, the shadowy representative of a once mighty
despot; that they then sought to win over the Hindoos to side with them;
and that, in this proceeding, they adduced any and all facts that had
come to their knowledge, in which the British had unwittingly insulted
the religious prejudices of the worshippers of Brahma—craftily
insinuating that the insult was premeditated. The wisdom or justice of
the annexation policy we do not discuss in this place; there is a
multiplicity of interpretations concerning it—from that of absolute
necessity to that of glaring spoliation; but the point to be borne in
mind is, that a new grievance was thereby added to others, real or
pretended, already existing. It is especially worthy of note, that any
distrust of England, arising out of annexation policy, was likely to be
more intense in Oude than anywhere else; for three-fourths of the
infantry in the Bengal army had been recruited from the inhabitants of
that state; they were energetic men, strongly attached to their native
country; and when the change of masters took place, they lost certain of
the privileges they had before enjoyed. The Bengalees proper, the
natives of the thickly populated region around the lower course of the
Ganges, have little to do with the Bengal army; they are feeble,
indolent, and cowardly, glad by any excuses to escape from fighting.

Let us now—having said a few words concerning the centenary of British
rule, and the state of feeling in Oude—attend to the strange episode of
the _chupatties_, as a premonitory symptom of something wrong in the
state of public feeling in India.

The chupatties—small cakes of unleavened bread, about two inches in
diameter, made of Indian corn-meal, and forming part of the sepoys’
regular diet—were regarded in England, as soon as the circumstances of
the Revolt became known, as signs or symptoms which the various officers
of the Company in India ought sedulously to have searched into. Ever
since the middle of 1856—ever since, indeed, the final arrangements for
the annexation of Oude—these chupatties were known to have been passing
from hand to hand. A messenger would come to a village, seek out the
headman or village elder, give him six chupatties, and say: ‘These six
cakes are sent to you; you will make six others, and send them on to the
next village.’ The headman accepted the six cakes, and punctually sent
forward other six as he had been directed. It was a mystery of which the
early stages were beyond our ken; for no one could say, or no one would
say, which was the _first_ village whence the cakes were sent. During
many months this process continued: village after village being brought
into the chain as successive links, and relays of chupatties being
forwarded from place to place. Mr Disraeli, attacking on one occasion in
the House of Commons the policy of the Indian government, adverted
sarcastically to this chupatty mystery: ‘Suppose the Emperor of Russia,
whose territory, in extent and character, has more resemblance to our
Eastern possessions than the territory of any other power—suppose the
Emperor of Russia were told—“Sire, there is a very remarkable
circumstance going on in your territory; from village to village, men
are passing who leave the tail of an ermine or a pot of caviare, with a
message to some one to perform the same ceremony. Strange to say, this
has been going on in some ten thousand villages, and we cannot make head
or tail of it.” I think the Emperor of Russia would say: “I do not know
whether you can make head or tail of it, but I am quite certain there is
something wrong, and that we must take some precautions; because, where
the people are not usually indiscreet and troublesome, they do not make
a secret communication unless it is opposed to the government. This is a
secret communication, and therefore a communication dangerous to the
government.”’ The opposition leader did not assert that the government
could have penetrated the mystery, but that the mystery ought to have
been regarded as significant of something dangerous, worthy of close
scrutiny and grave consideration.

The chupatties first appeared in the Northwest Provinces, around Delhi;
and subsequent events offered a temptation for rebuking the
governor-general and the commander-in-chief, in having failed to
strengthen the posts with English troops after the indications of some
secret conspiracy had thus been made. In some places it was ascertained
that the cakes were to be kept _till called for_ by the messengers,
other cakes being sent on instead of them; but what was the meaning of
this arrangement, the English officials could not, or at least did not
find out. In Scotland, in the clannish days, war-signals were sent from
hut to hut and from clan to clan with extraordinary rapidity; and,
however little an unleavened cake might appear like a war-signal,
military men and politicians ought certainly to have been alive to such
strange manifestations as this chupatty movement. From the Sutlej to
Patna, throughout a vast range of thickly populated country, was the
secret correspondence carried on. One thing at any rate may safely be
asserted, that the military stations required close watching at such a
time; something was fermenting in the minds of the natives which the
English could not understand; but that very fact would have
justified—nay, rendered almost imperative—the guarding of the chief
posts from sudden surprise. Little or nothing of this precautionary
action seems to have been attempted. Throughout nearly the whole of the
great trunk-road from Calcutta to the Punjaub, the military stations
were left as before, almost wholly in the hands of the sepoys. At
Benares there was only a single company of European foot-artillery; the
rest of the troops consisting of two regiments of native infantry, and
one of the Cis-Sutlej Sikh regiments. At Allahabad, the great supply
magazine of the province was left almost wholly to the guard of the
sepoys. Lucknow had only one European regiment and one company of
artillery; notwithstanding that, as the capital of Oude, it was in the
midst of a warlike and excited population; while the native army of the
province, capable of soon assembling at the city, comprised no less than
fourteen regiments of infantry, six of cavalry, and six companies of
artillery. Cawnpore, a very important station with a large medical
depôt, contained three regiments of native infantry, one of native
cavalry, and two companies of native artillery with twelve guns; while
the English force was only a company of infantry, and about sixty
artillerymen with six guns. The large magazine of Delhi, the great
storehouse of ammunition for the military stations all around it, was
left to be guarded entirely by sepoys. The late General Anson, at that
time commander-in-chief, was among the hills at Simla, relaxing from his
duties; and neither at Simla nor at Calcutta did it seem to be felt
that, with existing symptoms, more European troops were necessary in the
Bengal and Northwest Provinces.

The chupatty was not the only symbol of some mystery: the _lotus_ was
another. It was a common occurrence for a man to come to a cantonment
with a lotus-flower, and give it to the chief native officer of a
regiment; the flower was circulated from hand to hand in the regiment;
each man took it, looked at it, and passed it on, saying nothing. When
the lotus came to the last man in the regiment, he disappeared for a
time, and took it to the next military station. This strange process
occurred throughout nearly all the military stations where regiments of
the Bengal native army were cantoned.

Chupatties and lotus-flowers, together with the incendiarism and the
cartridge grievances presently to be noticed, unquestionably indicated
some widely spread discontent among the natives—military if not general.
‘It is clear,’ in the words of an observant officer, writing from one of
the Cis-Sutlej stations, ‘that a certain ferment had been allowed
gradually to arise throughout the mass of the Bengal army. In some it
was panic, in some excitement, in some a mere general apprehension or
expectation, and in some it was no doubt disaffection, or even
conspiracy. Governing an alien people and a vast army, we had divested
ourselves of all the instruments of foreign domination so familiar to
Austria and all other continental powers. We had no political police, no
European strongholds, no system of intelligence or espionage,
comparatively little real military discipline; and even our own
post-office was the channel of free, constant, and unchecked intercourse
between all the different regiments. Not a letter even was opened; that
would have been too abhorrent to English principles. The sepoy mind had
probably become prepared to distrust us, as we had begun to distrust
them. There were strange new legislative acts, and new post-office
rules, and new foreign service enlistments, and new employment of armed
races in our army, and other things disagreeable and alarming to the
true old sepoy caste. And then it came about that from a small and
trifling beginning, one of those ferments to which the native mind is
somewhat prone, took possession of the sepoy army.’

One of the strange facts connected with the chupatty movement was, that
the cakes were transmitted to the heads of villages who have not been
concerned in the mutiny, while many sepoys who broke out in revolt had
received no cakes. They appear to have been distributed mostly to the
villagers; whereas the lotus passed from hand to hand among the
military.

The chupatties and the lotus-flowers, however indicative they may have
been of the existence of intrigue and conspiracy, were quiet
indications; but there were not wanting other proofs of a mutinous
spirit, in acts of violence and insubordination—apart from the
incendiarisms and the cartridge difficulties. On one evening, early in
the year, information was given by a sepoy of the intention of the men
to rise against their officers and seize on Fort William, at Calcutta.
On another occasion, a fanatic moulvie, a high Mohammedan priest at
Oude, was detected preaching war against the infidels; and on his person
was found a proclamation exciting the people to rebellion. On a third
day, two sepoys were detected in an attempt to sap the fidelity of the
guard at the Calcutta mint. An English surgeon in an hospital at
Lucknow, by the bedside of a sepoy, put his lips to a bottle of medicine
before giving it to his patient; this being regarded as a pollution, a
pundit was sent for to break the bottle and exorcise the evil: on that
night the doctor’s bungalow was burned down by incendiaries who could
not be discovered. A refusal to accept a furlough or leave of absence
might not usually be regarded as a symptom of a mutinous spirit; yet in
India it conveyed a meaning that could not safely be disregarded. On the
6th of March, the commander-in-chief, with the sanction of the
governor-general, notified that the native army would receive, as usual,
the annual indulgence of furlough from the 1st of April to a certain
subsequent date. When this order was read or issued, about fourteen men
of the 63d native infantry, stationed at Soorie, and under orders to
proceed to Berhampore, evinced a disinclination to avail themselves of
the indulgence, on the plea that none of the regiments at Barrackpore
intended to take theirs. It certainly appears to have been a
circumstance worthy of a searching inquiry by the military authorities,
_why_ the troops should have declined to take their furlough at that
particular time.

We must now pass on to that series of events which, so far as outward
manifestations are concerned, was more especially the immediate
forerunner of the Revolt—namely, the disturbances connected with the
_greased cartridges_. Let not the reader for a moment regard this as a
trivial matter, merely because it would be trivial in England: the
sepoys may have been duped, and indeed were unquestionably duped, by
designing men; but the subject of suspicion was a serious one to them.
The fat of cows and of pigs is regarded in a peculiar light in the East.
The pig is as much held in abhorrence by the Mohammedans as the cow is
venerated by the Hindoos; to touch the former with the lips, is a
defilement to the one religion; to touch the latter, is a sacrilege to
the other. The religious feelings are different, but the results in this
case are the same. So sacred, indeed, are cattle regarded by the
Hindoos, that the Company’s officers have been accustomed to observe
much caution in relation to any supply of beef for their own tables; the
slaughter of a cow in a Hindoo village would in itself have been a
sufficient cause for revolt; in large towns where Europeans are
stationed, a high-walled paddock or compound is set apart for the
reception of bullocks intended for food; and scrupulous care is taken
that the natives shall know as little as possible of the proceedings
connected with the slaughtering. The use of cow’s fat in ammunition
would therefore be repulsive to the Hindoo sepoy. Many experienced men
trace the mutiny to a false report concerning the cartridges, acting on
the minds of natives who had already become distrustful by the
machinations of agitators and emissaries. ‘It is a marvel and a mystery
that so many years should have passed away without an explosion. At last
a firebrand was applied to what a single spark might have ignited; and
in the course of a few weeks there was a general conflagration; but a
conflagration which still bears more marks of accident than of
deliberate conspiracy and incendiarism. In a most unhappy hour—in an
hour laden with a concurrence of adverse circumstances—the incident of
the greased cartridges occurred. It found the Bengal army in a season of
profound peace, and in a state of relaxed discipline. It found the
sepoys pondering over the predictions and the fables which had been so
assiduously circulated in their lines and their bazaars; it found them
with imaginations inflamed and fears excited by strange stories of the
designs of their English masters; it found them, as they fancied, with
their purity of caste threatened, and their religious distinctions
invaded, by the proselytising and annexing Englishmen. Still, there was
no palpable evidence of this. Everything was vague, intangible, obscure.
Credulous and simple-minded as they were, many might have retained a
lingering confidence in the good faith and the good intentions of the
British government: had it not been suddenly announced to them, just as
they were halting between two opinions, that, in prosecution of his
long-cherished design to break down the religion both of Mohammedan and
Hindoo, the Feringhee had determined to render their military service
the means of their degradation, by compelling them to apply their lips
to a cartridge saturated with animal grease—the fat of the swine being
used for the pollution of the one, and the fat of the cow for the
degradation of the other. If the most astute emissaries of evil who
could be employed for the corruption of the Bengal sepoy had addressed
themselves to the task of inventing a lie for the confirmation and
support of all his fears and superstitions, they could have found
nothing more cunningly devised for their purpose.’[6]

It was on the 7th of February 1857 that the governor-general
communicated to the home government the first account of anything
mysterious or unpleasant in relation to the greased cartridges. He had
to announce that a dissatisfaction had exhibited itself among the native
troops attached to the musketry-depôt at Dumdum. There are two Dumdums,
two Dumdumas, one Dumdumma, and one Dumdumineah in India; but the place
indicated is in Bengal, a few miles out of Calcutta, and about half-way
between that city and Barrackpore. It was formerly the head-quarters of
artillery for the presidency of Bengal; and near it is an excellent
cannon-foundry, with casting-rooms, boring-rooms, and all the appliances
for making brass guns. It is a sort of Woolwich on a humble scale,
connected with ordnance and firearms.

The sepoys at Dumdum had heard rumours which induced them to believe
that the grease used for preparing the cartridges for the recently
introduced Enfield rifles was composed of the fat of pigs and
cows—substances which their religion teaches them to regard in a light
altogether strange to Europeans. It was not the first time by three or
four years that the cartridge-question had excited attention in India,
although in England the public knew absolutely nothing concerning it.
From documents brought to light during the earlier months of the mutiny,
it appears that in 1853 the commander-in-chief of the forces in India
directed the adjutant-general of the Bengal army to call the attention
of the governor-general to the subject of cartridges as connected with
the prejudices of the natives. For what reason grease of any kind is
employed on or with cartridges, may be soon explained. A cartridge, as
most persons are aware, is a contrivance for quickly loading firearms.
Instead of inserting the powder and bullet separately into the musket,
rifle, or pistol, as was the earlier wont, the soldier is provided with
a supply of small cartridge-paper tubes, each containing a bullet and
the proper proportion of powder; and by the employment of these
cartridges much time and attention are saved under circumstances where
both are especially valuable. The missiles are called _ball_ or _blank_
cartridges, according as they do or do not each contain a bullet. Now
the Enfield rifle, an English improvement on the celebrated Minié rifle
invented and used by the French, was largely manufactured by machinery
in a government establishment at Enfield, for use in the British and
Indian armies; and in firing from this or other rifles it was necessary
that the ball-end of the cartridge should have an external application
of some greasy substance, to facilitate its movement through the barrel.
In the year above named, the East India Company informed the Calcutta
government, that a supply of new-greased cartridges had been sent, which
the Board of Ordnance wished should be subjected to the test of climate.
It was concerning these cartridges that the commander-in-chief
recommended caution; on the ground that ‘unless it be known that the
grease employed in these cartridges is not of a nature to offend or
interfere with the prejudices of caste, it will be expedient not to
issue them for test to native corps, but to Europeans only, to be
carried in pouch.’ It was not until June 1854 that the cartridges were
received in India; and during the next twelve months they were subjected
to various tests, at Calcutta, at Cawnpore, and at Rangoon. The
cartridges had been greased in four ways—with common grease, with
laboratory grease, with Belgian grease, and with Hoffman’s grease, in
each case with an admixture of creosote and tobacco; one set was tested
by being placed in the ordnance magazines, a second by being kept in
wagons, and a third by being tied up in pouch-bundles. The result of
these tests was communicated to the directors in the autumn of 1855; and
as a consequence, a modification was effected in the cartridges
afterwards sent from England for service with the Enfield rifles in
India.

To return now to the affair at Dumdum. When the complaints and
suspicions of the sepoys were made known, inquiries were sent to England
for exact particulars relating to the obnoxious missiles. It was
ascertained that the new cartridges were made at the Royal Laboratory at
Woolwich; and that Captain Boxer, the superintendent of that department,
was accustomed to use for lubrication a composition formed of five parts
tallow, five parts stearine, and one part wax—containing, therefore, ox
or cow’s fat, but none from pigs. He had no prejudices in the matter to
contend against in England, and used therefore just such a composition
as appeared to him most suitable for the purpose. The cartridges were
not sent out to India ready greased for use; as, in a hot country, the
grease would soon be absorbed by the paper: there was, therefore, a part
of the process left to be accomplished when the cartridges reached their
destination.

It appears to have been in the latter part of January that the first
open manifestation was made at Dumdum of a disinclination to use the
cartridges; and immediately a correspondence among the authorities
commenced concerning it. When the complaint had been made, the men were
seemingly appeased on being assured that the matter would be duly
represented; and as a means of conciliation, cartridges without grease
were issued, the men being allowed to apply any lubricating substance
they chose. It was further determined that no more ready-made cartridges
should be obtained from England, but that bullets and paper should be
sent separately, to be put together in India; that experiments should be
made at Woolwich, to produce some lubricating substance free from any of
the obnoxious ingredients; and that other experiments should meanwhile
be made by the 60th Rifles—at that time stationed at Meerut—having the
same object in view.

During the inquiry into the manifestation and alleged motives of this
insubordination, one fact was elicited, which, if correct, seems to
point to a date when the conspirators—whoever they may have been—began
to act upon the dupes. On the 22d of January, a low-caste Hindoo asked a
sepoy of the 2d Bengal Grenadiers to give him a little water from his
lota or bottle; the other, being a Brahmin, refused, on the ground that
the applicant would defile the vessel by his touch—a magnificence of
class-superiority to which only the Hindoo theory could afford place.
This refusal was met by a retort, that the Brahmin need not pride
himself on his caste, for he would soon lose it, as he would ere long be
required to bite off the ends of cartridges covered with the fat of pigs
and cows. The Brahmin, alarmed, spread the report; and the native
troops, as is alleged, were afraid that when they went home their
friends would refuse to eat with them. When this became known to the
English officers, the native troops were drawn up on parade, and
encouraged to state the grounds of their dissatisfaction. All the native
sergeants and corporals, and two-thirds of all the privates, at once
stepped forward, expressed their abhorrence of having to touch anything
containing the fat of cows or pigs, and suggested the employment of wax
or oil for lubricating the cartridges. It was then that the conciliatory
measures, noticed above, were adopted.

Still were there troubles and suspicious circumstances; but the scene is
now transferred from Dumdum to Barrackpore. This town, sixteen miles
from Calcutta, is worthy of note chiefly for its connection with the
supreme government of India. The governor-general has a sort of suburban
residence there, handsome, commodious, and situated in the midst of a
very beautiful park. There are numerous bungalows or villas inhabited by
European families, drawn to the spot by the salubrity of the air, by the
beauty of the Hoogly branch of the Ganges, at this place three-quarters
of a mile in width, and by the garden and promenade attached to the
governor-general’s villa. In military matters, before the Revolt, there
was a ‘presidency division of the army,’ of which some of the troops
were in Calcutta, some at Barrackpore, and a small force of artillery at
Dumdum, nearly midway between the two places; the whole commanded by a
general officer at Barrackpore, under whom was a brigadier to command
that station only. The station is convenient for military operations in
the eastern part of Bengal, and for any sudden emergencies at Calcutta.
Six regiments of native infantry were usually cantoned at Barrackpore,
with a full complement of officers: the men hutted in commodious lines,
and the officers accommodated in bungalows or lodges.

It was at this place that the discontent next shewed itself, much to the
vexation of the government, who had hoped that the Dumdum affair had
been satisfactorily settled, and who had explained to the native
regiments at Barrackpore what had been done to remove the alleged cause
of complaint. The sepoys at this place, however, made an objection to
bite off the ends of the cartridges—a necessary preliminary to the
loading of a rifle—on account of the animal fat contained, or supposed
to be contained, in the grease with which the paper was lubricated: such
fat not being permitted to touch the lips or tongues of the men, under
peril of defilement. Some of the authorities strongly suspected that
this renewed discontent was the work of secret agitators rather than a
spontaneous expression of the men’s real feeling. There was at the time
a religious Hindoo society or party at Calcutta, called the Dhurma
Sobha, suspected of having spread rumours that the British government
intended to compel the Hindoos to become Christians. Contemporaneously,
too, with this movement, three incendiary fires took place at
Barrackpore within four days; and a native sergeant’s bungalow was burnt
down at Raneegunge, another military station in Lower Bengal. It was
natural, therefore, that General Hearsey, the responsible officer at
Barrackpore, should wish to ascertain what connection, if any, existed
between these incendiarisms, intrigues, complainings, and greased
cartridges. This was the more imperative, on account of the relative
paucity of English troops in that part of India. There were four native
regiments quartered at that time at Barrackpore—namely, the 2d
Grenadiers, the 34th and 70th Native Infantry, and the 43d Native Light
Infantry; whereas, in the four hundred miles between Calcutta and
Dinapoor there was only one European regiment, the Queen’s 53d foot, of
which one half was at Calcutta and the other half at Dumdum. The general
held a special court of inquiry at Barrackpore on the 6th of February,
and selected a portion of the 2d native Grenadier regiment to come
forward and explain the cause of their continued objection to the paper
of which the new rifle-cartridges were composed. One of the sepoys,
Byjonath Pandy, stated that he felt a suspicion that the paper might
affect his caste. On being asked his reason for this suspicion, he
answered that the paper was a new kind which he had not seen before; and
there was a ‘bazaar report’ that the paper contained animal fat. On
being requested to examine the paper carefully in the light, and to
explain to the court what he saw objectionable in it, he replied that
his suspicion proceeded from the paper being stiff and cloth-like, and
from its tearing differently from the paper formerly in use. Another
sepoy, Chaud Khan, was then examined. He objected to the paper because
it was tough, and burned as if it contained grease. He stated that much
dismay had been occasioned in the regiment by the fact that ‘on the 4th
of February a piece of the cartridge-paper was dipped in water, and then
burned; when burning, it made a fizzing noise, and smelt as if there
were grease in it.’ Thereupon a piece of the paper was burned in open
court; Chaud Khan confessed that he could not smell or see grease in it;
but he repeated his objection to the use of the paper, on the plea that
‘everybody is dissatisfied with it on account of its being glazed,
shining like waxed cloth.’ Another witness, Khadu Buksh, filling the
rank of subadar or native captain, on being examined, frankly stated
that he had no objection to the cartridge itself, but that there was a
general report in the cantonment that the paper was made up with fat. A
jemadar or lieutenant, named Golal Khan, said very positively: ‘There is
grease in it, I feel assured; as it differs from the paper which has
heretofore been always used for cartridges.’ As shewing the well-known
power of what in England would be called ‘public opinion,’ the answer of
one of the sepoys is worthy of notice; he candidly confessed that he
himself had no objection to use the cartridges, but he could not do so,
as his companions would object to it. While these occurrences were under
scrutiny, a jemadar of the 34th regiment came forward to narrate what he
knew on the matter, as affording proof of conspiracy. On the 5th, when
the fear of detection had begun to work among them, two or three of the
sepoys came to him, and asked him to accompany them to the
parade-ground. He did so, and there found a great crowd assembled,
composed of men of the different regiments at the station; they had
their heads tied up in handkerchiefs or cloths, so that only a small
part of the face was exposed. They told him they were determined to die
for their religion; and that if they could concert a plan that evening,
they would on the next night plunder the station and kill all the
Europeans, and then depart whither they pleased. The number he stated to
be about three hundred. It was not at the time known to the authorities,
but was rendered probable by circumstances afterwards brought to light,
that letters and emissaries were being despatched, at the beginning of
February, from the native troops at Barrackpore to those at other
stations, inviting them to rise in revolt against the British.

Under any other circumstances, a discussion concerning such petty
matters as bits of cartridge-paper and items of grease would be simply
ridiculous; but at that time and place the ruling authorities, although
ignorant of the real extent of the danger, saw clearly that they could
not afford to regard such matters as otherwise than serious. There was
either a sincere prejudice to be conciliated, or a wide-spread
conspiracy to be met; and it was at once determined to test again the
sincerity of the sepoys, by yielding to their (apparently) religious
feelings on a matter which did not affect the efficiency of the service.
A trial was made, therefore, of a mode of loading the rifle without
biting the cartridge, by tearing off the end with the left hand. The
commander-in-chief, finding on inquiry that this method was sufficiently
efficacious, and willing to get rid of mere formalism in the matter,
consented that the plan should be adopted both for percussion-muskets
and for rifles. This done, the governor-general, by virtue of his
supreme command, ordered the adoption of the same system throughout
India.

The scene now again changes: we have to attend to certain proceedings at
Berhampore, following on those at Barrackpore. Of Berhampore as a town,
little need be said here; and that little is called for principally to
determine _which_ Berhampore is meant. Under the forms Berhampore,
Berhampoor, or Burhampore, there are no less than four towns in
India—one in the native state of Nepaul, sixty miles from Khatmandoo;
another in the Nagpoor territory, sixty miles from the city of the same
name; another in the Madras presidency, near Orissa; and a fourth in the
district of Moorshedabad, Lower Bengal. It is this last-named Berhampore
to which attention is here directed. The town is on the left bank of the
river Bhagruttee, a great offset of the Ganges, and on the high road
from Calcutta to Moorshedabad—distant about a hundred and twenty miles
from the first-named city by land, and a hundred and sixty by water. It
is in a moist, unhealthy spot, very fatal to Europeans, and in
consequence disliked by them as a station in past times; but sanitary
measures, draining, and planting have greatly improved it within the
last few years. As a town, it is cheerful and attractive in appearance,
adorned by stately houses in the neighbourhood, to accommodate permanent
British residents. The military cantonments are large and striking; the
grand square, the excellent parade-ground, the quarters of the European
officers—all are handsome. Before the Revolt, Berhampore was included
within the presidency division in military matters, and was usually
occupied by a body of infantry and another of artillery. There is
painful evidence of the former insalubrity of the station met with in a
large open space filled with tombstones, contrasting mournfully with the
majestic cantonments of the military. Berhampore has, or had a few years
ago, a manufactory of the silk bandana handkerchiefs once so popular in
England.

The troubles in this town were first made manifest in the following way.
On or about the 24th of February, a portion of the 34th regiment of
Bengal infantry changed its station from Barrackpore to Berhampore,
where it was greeted and feasted by the men of the 19th native infantry,
stationed there at that time. During their feasting, the new-comers
narrated all the news from Dumdum and Barrackpore concerning the greased
cartridges; and the effects of this gossip were very soon made visible.
To understand what occurred, the mode of piling or storing arms in India
must be attended to; in the Bombay army, and in the Queen’s regiments,
the men were wont to keep their arms with them in their huts; but in the
Bengal army, it was a custom to deposit them in circular brick buildings
called bells, which were kept locked under native guard, each in front
of a particular company’s lines. The men of the 19th regiment, then,
excited by the rumours and stories, the fears and suspicions of their
companions in arms elsewhere, but not knowing or not believing—or
perhaps not caring for—the promises of change made by the military
authorities, broke out into insubordination. On the 26th of February,
being ordered to parade for exercise with blank cartridges, they refused
to receive the percussion-caps, as a means of rendering their firing
impossible—alleging that the cartridge-paper supplied for the charge was
of two kinds; that they doubted the qualities of one or both; and that
they believed in the presence of the fat of cows or pigs in the grease
employed. That the men were either dupes or intriguers is evident; for
it so happened that the cartridges offered to them were the very same in
kind as they had used during many years, and had been made up before a
single Enfield rifle had reached India. This resistance was a serious
affair; it was something more than a complaint or petition, and needed
to be encountered with a strong hand. It is a matter of opinion, judged
differently even by military men accustomed to India and its natives,
whether the proper course was on that occasion taken. The commanding
officer, Lieutenant-colonel Mitchell, ordered a detachment of native
cavalry and a battery of native artillery—the only troops at Barrackpore
besides those already named—to be on parade on the following morning.
Between ten and eleven o’clock at night, however, the men of the 19th
regiment broke open the armouries or bells, took possession of their
muskets and ammunition, and carried them to their lines. The next day,
the guns were got ready, and the officers proceeded to the
parade-ground, where they found the men in undress, but armed, formed in
line, and shouting. The officers were threatened if they came on.
Mitchell then expostulated with them; he pointed out the absurdity of
their suspicions, and the unworthiness of their present conduct, and
commanded them to give up their arms and return peaceably to their
lines; whereupon the native officers said the men would refuse so to do
unless the cavalry and artillery were withdrawn. The lieutenant-colonel
withdrew them, and then the infantry yielded. It was a difficult
position for an officer to be placed in; if he had struggled, it would
have been with natives against natives; and, doubtful of the result of
such a contest, he assented to the men’s conditional surrender.

The affair could not be allowed to end here. The Calcutta authorities,
receiving news on the 4th of March of this serious disaffection, but
deeming it unsafe to punish while so few European troops were at hand,
sent quietly to Rangoon in Pegu, with orders that Her Majesty’s 84th
foot should steam up to Calcutta as quickly as possible. On the 20th,
this regiment arrived; and then the governor-general, acting in harmony
with Major-general Hearsey, resolved on the disbandment of the native
regiment which had disregarded the orders of its superiors. Accordingly,
on the 31st of March, the 19th regiment was marched from Berhampore to
Barrackpore, the head-quarters of the military division; the men were
disarmed, paid off, marched out of the cantonments as far as Palta
Ghaut, and conveyed across the river in steamers placed for the purpose.
In short, the regiment, in a military sense, was destroyed, without
personal punishment to any of the men composing it. But though not
punished, in the ordinary sense, the infliction was a great one; for the
men at once became penniless, unoccupied, objectless. The
governor-general, in describing these proceedings for the information of
the home government, added: ‘We trust that the severe measures which we
have been forced to adopt will have the effect of convincing the native
troops that they will only bring ruin on themselves by failing in their
duty to the state and in obedience to their officers.’

[Illustration:

  VISCOUNT CANNING.
]

On the occasion just adverted to, General Hearsey addressed the men very
energetically, while an official paper from the governor-general, read
to the troops, asserted in distinct terms that the rumour was wholly
groundless which imputed to the government an intention to interfere
with the religion of the people. It was a charge soon afterwards brought
in England against the governor-general, that, having subscribed to
certain missionary societies in India, he did not like to abjure all
attempts at the conversion of the natives; and that, being thus balanced
between his public duty and his private religious feeling, he had issued
the general order to the whole army, but had not shewn any solicitude to
convey that positive declaration to all the natives in all the
cantonments or military stations. This, however, was said when Viscount
Canning was not present to defend himself; reasonable men soon saw that
the truth was not to be obtained by such charges, unless supported by
good evidence. It is, however, certain, that much delay and routine
formality occurred throughout all these proceedings. As early as the
11th of February, General Hearsey wrote from Barrackpore the expressive
words: ‘We are on a mine ready to explode’—in allusion to the uneasy
state of feeling or opinion among the sepoys that their religious usages
were about to be tampered with; and yet it was not until the 27th of
March that the Supreme Council at Calcutta agreed to the issue of a
general order declaring it to be the invariable rule of the government
to treat the religious tendencies of all its servants with respect; nor
until the 31st that this general order was read to the troops at
Barrackpore. Considering the mournful effects of dilatoriness and rigid
formalism during the Crimean war, the English public had indulged a hope
that a healthy reform would be introduced into the epistolary mechanism
of the government departments; and this was certainly to some extent
realised in England; but unfortunately the reform had not yet reached
India. During these early months of the mutiny, an absurd waste of time
occurred in the writing and despatching of an enormous number of
letters, where a personal interview, or a verbal message by a trusty
servant, might have sufficed. Eight letters were written, and four days
consumed, before the Calcutta authorities knew what was passing at
Dumdum, eight miles distant. A certain order given by the colonel of a
regiment at Calcutta being considered injudicious by the general, an
inquiry was made as to the grounds for the order; eight days and nine
letters were required for this inquiry and the response to it, and yet
the two officers were within an hour’s distance of each other during the
whole time. Although the affair at Barrackpore on the 6th of February
was assuredly of serious import, it was not known to the government at
Calcutta until the evening of the 10th, notwithstanding that a horseman
might easily have ridden the sixteen miles in two hours. General
Hearsey’s reply to a question as to the cause of the delay is truly
instructive, as exemplifying the slowness of official progress in India:
‘I have no means of communicating anything to the government; I have no
mounted orderly, no express camels; I must always write by the post; and
that leaves Barrackpore at the most inconvenient hour of three o’clock
in the afternoon.’ These facts, trivial in themselves, are worthy of
being borne in mind, as indicative of defects in the mechanism of
government likely to be disastrous in times of excitement and
insubordination.

Barrackpore was destined to be a further source of vexation and
embarrassment to the government. It will be remembered that a part of
the 34th native infantry went from that town to Berhampore in the last
week in February; but the bulk of the regiment remained at Barrackpore.
Inquiries, afterwards instituted, brought to light the fact that the
European commander of that regiment had been accustomed to distribute
religious tracts among his men; and it was surmised that the scruples
and prejudices of the natives, especially the Brahmins, had been
unfavourably affected by this proceeding. But whether the cause had or
had not been rightly guessed, it is certain that the 34th displayed more
mutinous symptoms at that time than any other regiment. When the news of
the disturbance at Berhampore reached them, they became greatly excited:
they attended to their duties, but with sullen doggedness; and they held
nightly meetings, at which speeches were made sympathetic with the
Berhampore mutineers. The authorities, not wholly ignorant of these
meetings, nevertheless remained quiet until a European regiment could
arrive to aid them. When the Queen’s 84th arrived at Calcutta, the 34th
were more excited than ever, believing that something hostile was
intended against them; their whispers became murmurs, and they openly
expressed their sympathy. When, in accordance with the plan noticed in
the last paragraph, the 19th were marched off from Berhampore to be
disbanded at Barrackpore, the 34th displayed still greater audacity. The
19th having rested for a time at Barraset, eight miles from Barrackpore,
a deputation from the 34th met them, and made a proposal that they
should that very night kill all their officers, march to Barrackpore,
join the 2d and 34th, fire the bungalows, surprise and overwhelm the
Europeans, seize the guns, and then march to threaten Calcutta. Had the
19th been as wild and daring, as irritated and vengeful, as the 34th,
there is no knowing what calamities might have followed; but they
exhibited rather a repentant and regretful tone, and submitted
obediently to all the details of their disbandment at Barrackpore.

It will therefore be seen that the seeds of further disaffection had
been already sown. As the 34th native infantry had been instrumental in
inciting the 19th to mutiny, ending in disbandment, so did it now bring
a similar punishment on itself. On the 29th of March, one Mungal Pandy,
a sepoy in the 34th, roused to a state of excitement by the use of
intoxicating drugs, armed himself with a sword and a loaded musket,
traversed the lines, called upon his comrades to rise, and declared he
would shoot the first European he met. Lieutenant Baugh, adjutant of the
corps, hearing of this man’s conduct, and of the excited state of the
regiment generally, rode hastily to the lines. Mungal Pandy fired,
missed the officer, but struck his horse. The lieutenant, in
self-defence, fired his pistol, but missed aim; whereupon the sepoy
attacked him with his sword, wounded him in the hand, brought him to the
ground, and tried to entice the other soldiers to join in the attack.
The sergeant-major of the corps, who went to the lieutenant’s
assistance, was also wounded by Mungal Pandy. The dark feature in this
transaction was that many hundred men in the regiment looked on quietly
without offering to protect the lieutenant from his assailant; one of
them, a jemadar, refused to take Mungal into custody, and forbade his
men to render any assistance to the lieutenant, who narrowly escaped
with his life. Major-general Hearsey, on being informed of the
occurrence, proceeded to the parade-ground, where, to his astonishment,
he saw the man walking to and fro, with a blood-smeared sword in one
hand, and a loaded musket in the other. He advanced with some officers
and men to secure the sepoy, which was accomplished with much
difficulty; and it was only by the most resolute bearing of the
major-general that the rest of the men could be induced to return
quietly to their lines. A court-martial was held on Mungal Pandy, and on
the rebellious jemadar, both of whom were forthwith found guilty, and
executed on the 8th of April. No assignable cause appeared for the
conduct of this man: it may have been a mere drunken frenzy; yet there
is more probability that a mutinous spirit, concealed within his breast
during sober moments, made its appearance unchecked when under the
influence of drugs. There was another sepoy, however, who acted
faithfully on the occasion; this man, Shiek Paltoo, was accompanying
Lieutenant Baugh as orderly officer at the time of the attack; and by
his prompt assistance the lieutenant was saved from further injury than
a slight wound. Shiek Paltoo was raised to the rank of supernumerary
havildar for his brave and loyal conduct.

[Illustration:

  Calcutta.
]

The outrage, however, could not be allowed to terminate without further
punishment. For a time, the government at Calcutta believed that the
execution of the two principal offenders would suffice, and that the
sepoys would quietly return to their obedience; but certain ominous
occurrences at Lucknow and elsewhere, about the end of April, shewed the
necessity for a stern line of conduct, especially as the 34th still
displayed a kind of sullen doggedness, as if determined on further
insubordination. After mature consideration the whole of the disposable
troops in and around Calcutta were, on the 5th of May, marched off to
Barrackpore, to effect the disarming and disbanding of such sepoys among
the 34th as were present in the lines when Lieutenant Baugh was wounded.
The force comprised the Queen’s 64th regiment, a wing of the 53d, the
2d, 43d, and 70th native infantry, two squadrons of cavalry, and a light
field-battery with six guns. When these troops had been drawn up in two
sides of a square, on the morning of the 6th, about four hundred sepoys
of the 34th were halted in front of the guns. The order for disbandment
was read out by the interpreter, Lieutenant Chamier; and after a few
energetic remarks upon the enormity of their offence, General Hearsey
commanded them to pile their arms, and strip off the uniform which they
had disgraced. When this was done, the work of paying up their arrears
was commenced. They were then dismissed with their families and baggage,
to Chinsura, a town a few miles higher up the Hoogly. The grenadiers of
the 84th, and a portion of the cavalry, accompanied them to see that
they went to and settled at Chinsura, and did not cross the river to
Chittagong, where three other companies of the same regiment were
stationed. Four of the disbanded sepoys were officers; one of whom, a
subadar, sobbed bitterly at his loss and degradation, although it was
strongly suspected that he had been one of the leaders in the
insubordination. In the general order which the governor-general ordered
to be read to every regiment in the service, concerning this
disbandment, words occur which shew that the old delusion was still
working in the breasts of the natives. ‘The sepoy who was the chief
actor in the disgraceful scene of the 29th of March called upon his
comrades to come to his support, for the reason that their religion was
in danger, and that they were about to be compelled to employ
cartridges, the use of which would do injury to their caste; and from
the words in which he addressed the sepoys, it is to be inferred that
many of them shared this opinion with him. The governor-general in
council has recently had occasion to remind the army of Bengal that the
government of India has never interfered to constrain its soldiers in
matters affecting their religious faith. He has declared that the
government of India never will do so; and he has a right to expect that
this declaration shall give confidence to all who have been deceived and
led astray. But, whatever may be the deceptions or evil counsels to
which others have been exposed, the native officers and men of the 34th
regiment native infantry have no excuse for misapprehension on this
subject. Not many weeks previously to the 29th of March, it had been
explained to that regiment—first by their own commanding officer, and
subsequently by the major-general commanding the division—that their
fears for religion were groundless. It was carefully and clearly shewn
to them that the cartridges which they would be called upon to use
contained nothing which could do violence to their religious scruples.
If, after receiving these assurances, the sepoys of the 34th regiment,
or of any other regiment, still refuse to place trust in their officers
and in the government, and still allow suspicions to take root in their
minds, and to grow into disaffection, insubordination, and mutiny, the
fault is their own, and their punishment will be upon their own heads.’

Five weeks elapsed between the offence of the 19th native infantry and
its punishment by disbandment; five weeks similarly elapsed between the
offence and the disbandment of the 34th; and many observant officers
were of opinion that these delays worked mischief, by instilling into
the minds of the sepoys a belief that the authorities were afraid to
punish them. Whether the punishment of disbanding was, after all,
sufficiently severe, is a question on which military men are by no means
agreed.

At a later date than the events narrated in this chapter, but closely
connected with them in subject, was the circulation of a report
manifestly intended to rouse the religious prejudices of the Hindoos by
a false assertion concerning the designs of the ruling powers. In some
of the towns of Southern India, far away from Bengal, unknown emissaries
circulated a paper, or at least a story, of which the following was the
substance: That the padres, probably Christian missionaries, had sent a
petition to the Queen of England, complaining of the slowness with which
Hindoos were made to become Christians; they adduced the conduct of some
of the Mohammedan potentates of India in past times, such as Tippoo
Saib, who had compelled the Hindoos to embrace Islamism; and they
suggested a similar authoritative policy. The story made the padres give
this advice: to mix up bullocks’ fat and pigs’ fat with the grease
employed on the cartridges; in order that, by touching these substances
with their teeth or lips, the sepoys might lose caste, and thus induce
them to embrace Christianity as their only resource. The climax of the
story was reached by making the Queen express her joy at the plan, and
her resolve that it should be put in operation. The success of such a
lying rumour must, of course, have mainly depended on the ignorance and
credulity of the natives.

A far-distant region now calls for notice. At a time when the Upper and
Lower Bengal provinces were, as the authorities hoped and believed,
recovering from the wild excitement of the cartridge question, the
commissioner of the Cis-Sutlej territory had ample means for knowing
that the minds of the natives in that region were mischievously agitated
by some cause or other. It is necessary here to understand what is meant
by this geographical designation. If we consult a map in which an
attempt is made, by distinct colouring, to define British territory from
semi-independent states, we shall find the region between Delhi and
Lahore cut up in a most extraordinary way. The red British patches are
seen to meander among the scraps of native territory with great
intricacy: so much so, indeed, that a map on a very large scale could
alone mark the multitudinous lines of boundary; and even such a map
would soon become obsolete, for the red, like a devouring element, has
been year by year absorbing bits of territory formerly painted green or
yellow. The peculiar tribe of the Sikhs, besides occupying the Punjaub,
inhabit a wide region on the east or left bank of the river Sutlej,
generally included under the name of Sirhind. For fifty years the
British in India have had to deal, or have made a pretext for dealing,
with the petty Sikh chieftains of this Sirhind region: at one time
‘protecting’ those on the east of the Sutlej from the aggression of the
great Sikh leader, Runjeet Singh, on the west of that river; then
‘annexing’ the small territories of some of these chieftains on failure
of male heirs; then seizing others as a punishment for non-neutrality or
non-assistance during war-time. Thus it arose that—before the annexation
of the Punjaub itself in 1849—much of the Sikh country in Sirhind had
become British, and was divided into four districts marked by the towns
of Ferozpore, Umballa or Umballah, Loodianah, and Kythul; leaving
Putialah, Jeend, and Furreedkote as the three principal protected or
semi-independent Sikh states of that country. Meanwhile a region
somewhat to the east or northeast of Sirhind was subject to just the
same process. Being hilly, it is called the Hill Country; and being
ruled by a number of petty chieftains, the separate bits of territory
are called the Hill States. During about forty years the process of
absorption has been going on—arising primarily out of the fact that the
British aided the Hill chieftains against the Nepaulese, and then paid
themselves in their wonted manner. Part of Gurhwal was annexed; then
Sundock, Malowa, and a number of other places not easily found in the
maps; and afterwards Ramgurh was given back in exchange for Simla, to
form a healthy holiday-place among the hills, a sort of Balmoral for
sick governors and commanders. As a final result, much of the Hill
Country became British, and the rest was left in the hands of about
twenty petty chieftains.

Now, when the Cis-Sutlej territory is mentioned, it must be interpreted
as including all the region taken by the British from the minor Sikh
chieftains in Sirhind; together with such of the Hill States of Gurhwal
and its vicinity as have become British. The whole together have been
made a sub-government, under a commissioner responsible to the
governor-general; or, more strictly, the commissioner rules the Sirhind
region, while the Hills are included among the non-regulation districts
of the Agra government. The four towns and districts of Ferozpore,
Loodianah, Umballa, and Kythul, east of the Sutlej, will suffice for our
purpose to indicate the Cis-Sutlej territory—so named in a Calcutta
point of view, as being on the _cis_ or _hither_ side of the Sutlej, in
reference to that city.

It was at Umballa, one of the towns in the Cis-Sutlej territory, that
the commissioner, Mr Barnes, reported acts of incendiarism that much
perplexed him. On the 26th of March, Hurbunsee Singh, a subadar or
native captain in the 36th regiment native infantry, attached to the
musketry depôt at that place, became an object of attack to the other
men of the regiment; they endeavoured to burn his hut and his property.
It was just at the time when reports reached Umballa relative to the
cartridges, the using of which was said by the sepoys to be an
innovation derogatory to their caste and religion. Hurbunsee Singh had
at once come forward, and publicly stated his willingness to fire with
such cartridges, as being, in his opinion, free from objection. The
incendiarism took place on the day named; and the commissioner directly
inferred that there must be something wrong in the thoughts of men who
would thus seek to injure one of their own native officers on such
grounds. Nothing further occurred, however, until the 13th of April,
when another fire broke out. This was followed by a third on the 15th,
in some outhouses belonging to the 60th native infantry; by two fires on
the 16th, when government property was burned to the value of thirty
thousand rupees; by the burning on the 17th of an empty bungalow in the
5th regiment native infantry lines, of a stable belonging to an English
officer of the 60th, and of another building. On the 20th, attempts were
made on the houses of the jemadar and havildar of the 5th regiment, two
native officers favourable to the new cartridges; and under the bed of
the jemadar were found gunpowder and brimstone, as if to destroy the man
as well as his property. Some of the buildings are believed to have been
set on fire by dropping burning brimstone through holes in the roof; and
on one occasion, when the attempt at incendiarism had failed, a paper
containing powder and brimstone was found. On the 21st and two following
days, similar fires occurred. On the 25th, the house of the band-master
of Her Majesty’s 9th Lancers was fired and burned; and two or three
similar attempts were shortly afterwards made, but frustrated. At all
these fires, the engines of the cantonment were set to work; but it was
observed that many of the sepoys worked listlessly and indifferently, as
if their thoughts were bent rather upon fire-raising than
fire-quenching.

That such occurrences produced uneasiness among the English authorities
at Umballa may well be supposed. Captain Howard, magistrate of the
cantonment, wrote thus to the Calcutta government: ‘The emanating cause
of the arson at this cantonment, I conceive, originated with regard to
the newly introduced cartridges, to which the native sepoy shews his
decided objection: it being obnoxious to him from a false idea—which,
now that it has entered the mind of the sepoy, is difficult to
eradicate—that the innovation of this cartridge is derogatory both to
his caste and his religion.... That this has led to the fires at this
cantonment, in my own private mind I am perfectly convinced. Were it the
act of only one or two, or even a few persons, the well-disposed sepoys
would at once have come forward and forthwith informed; but that there
is an organised leagued conspiracy existing, I feel confident. Though
all and every individual composing a regiment may not form part of the
combination, still I am of opinion that such a league in each corps is
known to exist; and such being upheld by the majority, or rather
connived at, therefore it is that no single man dared to come forward
and expose it.’ Although proof could not be obtained of the culpability
of any one sepoy, the incendiarism was at once attributed to them rather
than to the peasantry. The existence of some oath or bond of secrecy was
further supposed from the fact that a reward of one thousand rupees
failed to bring forward a single witness or accuser. After about twenty
attempts at burning buildings, more or less successful, the system was
checked—by the establishment of mounted and foot patrols and pickets; by
the expulsion of all fakeers and idle persons not belonging to the
cantonment; by the refusal of a passage through it to sepoys on furlough
or discharged; and by the arrest of such sepoys in the Umballa regiments
as, having furloughs, still remained in the cantonment—influenced,
apparently, by some mischievous designs.

Every one coincided in opinion with Captain Howard that there had been
an organised plan among the sepoys; but some of the officers in the
Company’s service, civil as well as military, differed from him in
attributing it solely to the cartridge affair—they thought this a blind
or pretence to hide some deeper scheme. The commissioner of the
Cis-Sutlej states, however, agreed with the magistrate, and expressed an
opinion that nothing would restore quiet but a concession to the natives
in the matter of greased cartridges; and he recommended to the
government at Calcutta the adoption of that line of policy. Writing on
the 7th of May, he said: ‘Fires, for the present, have ceased; but I do
not think that this is any indication that the uneasy feeling among the
sepoys is on the wane.’ Considering the position of Umballa, it is no
wonder that those in authority at that spot should feel anxiety
concerning the safety of their position. Umballa is more than a thousand
miles from Calcutta, separated from it by the whole of the important
states in which the cities of Delhi, Meerut, Agra, Cawnpore, Lucknow,
Allahabad, and Benares are situated, and deprived of assistance from
thence in the event of the intermediate regions being disturbed. Umballa
is a somewhat important town, too, in itself, with more than twenty
thousand inhabitants; it is large, and surrounded with a wall, well
supplied with water, bounded by a highly fertile district, and capable
of furnishing abundant supplies to rebels, if held by them.

The authorities, awakened by these events in so many parts of India,
sought to inquire whether the native newspaper press of India had
fermented the anarchy. It seemed at first ridiculous to suppose that
those miserable little sheets, badly written and worse printed, and
having a small circulation, could have contributed much to the creation
of the evil. Yet many facts tended to the support of this view. It was a
frequent custom in those papers to disguise the writer’s real sentiments
under the flimsy mask of a dialogue, in which one side was uniformly
made victor. When the government was not actually abused and vilified,
it was treated with ridicule, and its motives distorted. There were not
many copies of these papers printed and sold; but a kind of ubiquity was
afforded to them by the practice of news-mongers or tale-bearers, who
went from hut to hut, retailing the various items of news or of comment
that had been picked up.

Indeed, the tendency of the people to listen to attacks against the
government is now known to have been very marked among the Hindoos.
Predictions of the downfall of rulers were a favourite subject with
them. Of course, such predictions would not be openly hazarded in
newspapers; but they not less surely reached the ears of the natives.
Thirty years ago, Sir John Malcolm spoke on this subject in the
following way: ‘My attention has been, during the last twenty-five
years, particularly directed to this dangerous species of secret war
against our authority, which is always carrying on by numerous though
unseen hands. The spirit is kept up by letters, by exaggerated reports,
and by pretended prophecies. When the time appears favourable, from the
occurrence of misfortune to our arms, from rebellion in our provinces,
or from mutiny in our troops, circular-letters and proclamations are
dispersed over the country with a celerity almost incredible. Such
documents are read with avidity. The contents in most cases are the
same. The English are depicted as usurpers of low caste, and as tyrants
who have sought India with no other view but that of degrading the
inhabitants and of robbing them of their wealth, while they seek to
subvert their usages and their religion. The native soldiery are always
appealed to, and the advice to them is, in all instances I have met
with, the same—“_Your European tyrants are few in number_: kill them!”’
This testimony of Malcolm is especially valuable, as illustrating, and
illustrated by, recent events.

The native press of India will come again under notice in a future
chapter, connected with the precautionary measures adopted by the
governor-general to lessen the power of those news-writers, whether
English or native, who shewed a disposition to encourage rebellion by
their writings. News and rumours always work most actively among
credulous people—an important fact, knowing what we now know of India
and its Hindoo inhabitants.

When General Anson, commander-in-chief of the forces in India, found
that the small events at Dumdum, Berhampore, and Barrackpore had grown
into great importance, and that the cartridge grievance still appeared
to press on the consciences or influence the conduct of the sepoys, he
deemed it right to make an effort that should pacify the whole of the
native troops. Being at Umballa on the 19th of May, to which place he
had hastened from his sojourn at Simla, he issued a general order to the
native army, informing the troops that it had never been the intention
of the government to force them to use any cartridges which could be
objected to, and that they never would be required to do so. He
announced his object in publishing the order to be to allay the
excitement which had been raised in their minds, at the same time
expressing his conviction that there was no cause for this excitement.
He had been informed, he said, that some of the sepoys who entertained
the strongest attachment and loyalty to the government, and who were
ready at any moment to obey its orders, were nevertheless under an
impression that their families would believe them to be in some way
contaminated by the use of the cartridges used with the Enfield rifles
recently introduced in India. He expressed regret that the positive
assertions of the government officers, as to the non-existence of the
objectionable substances in the grease of the cartridges, had not been
credited by the sepoys. He solemnly assured the army, that no
interference with their caste-principles or their religion was ever
contemplated; and as solemnly pledged his word and honour that no such
interference should ever be attempted. He announced, therefore, that
whatever might be the opinions of the government concerning the
cartridges, new or old, he had determined that the new rifle-cartridge,
and every other of new form, should be discontinued: balled ammunition
being made up by each regiment for its own use, by a proper
establishment maintained for the purpose. Finally, he declared his full
confidence, ‘that all in the native army will now perform their duty,
free from anxiety or care, and be prepared to stand and shed the last
drop of their blood, as they had formerly done, by the side of the
British troops, and in defence of their country.’ The central government
at Calcutta, on receipt of the news of this order having been
promulgated, hastily sent to state that, in implying that new cartridges
_had_ been issued, the commander-in-chief had overstepped the actual
facts of the case; nothing new in that way had been introduced
throughout the year, except to the troops at the Depôt of Musketry
Instruction at Dumdum. From this fact it appears certain that the
credulity of the sepoys at the more distant stations had been imposed
upon, either by their fellow-Hindoos engaged in a conspiracy, or by
Mohammedans.

[Illustration:

  Council-house at Calcutta.
]

In this chapter have been discussed several subjects which, though
strange, exhibit nothing terrible or cruel. The suspicions connected
with the Oude princes, the mystery of the chupatties, the prophecies of
British downfall, the objections to the greased cartridges, the
insubordination arising out of those objections, the incendiarism, the
inflammatory tendency of the native newspaper press—all were important
rather as symptoms, than for their immediate effects. But the month of
May, and the towns of Meerut and Delhi, will now introduce us to fearful
proceedings—the beginning of a series of tragedies.

-----

Footnote 6:

  _Edinburgh Review_, No. 216.

[Illustration:

  King’s Palace, Delhi.
]



                              CHAPTER III.
                 MEERUT, AND THE REBEL-FLIGHT TO DELHI.


The first week in May marked a crisis in the affairs of British India.
It will ever remain an insoluble problem, whether the hideous atrocities
that followed might have been prevented by any different policy at that
date. The complainings and the disobedience had already presented
themselves: the murders and mutilations had not yet commenced; and there
are those who believe that if a Lawrence instead of a Hewett had been at
Meerut, the last spark that ignited the inflammable materials might have
been arrested. But this is a kind of cheap wisdom, a prophecy after the
event, an easy mode of judgment, on which little reliance can be placed.
Taking the British officers in India as a body, it is certain that they
had not yet learned to distrust the sepoys, whom they regarded with much
professional admiration for their external qualifications. The Brahmins
of the Northwest Provinces—a most important constituent, as we have
seen, of the Bengal army—are among the finest men in the world; their
average height is at least two inches greater than that of the English
soldiers of the line regiments; and in symmetry they also take the lead.
They are unaddicted to drunkenness; they are courteous in demeanour, in
a degree quite beyond the English soldier; and it is now known that the
commanding officers, proud of the appearance of these men on parade, too
often ignored those moral qualities without which a good soldier is an
impossible production. Whether, when the disturbances became known, the
interpretation was favourable to the sepoys, depended much on the
peculiar bias in the judgment of each officer. Some believed that the
native soldier was docile, obedient, and loyal as long as his religious
prejudices were respected; that he was driven to absolute frenzy by the
slightest suspicion, whether well or ill grounded, of any interference
with his creed or his observances; that he had been gradually rendered
distrustful by the government policy of forbidding suttee and
infanticide, by the withholding of government contributions to Hindoo
temples and idol-ceremonies, by the authorities at Calcutta subscribing
to missionary societies, and lastly by the affair of the greased
cartridges; and that the sensibilities of Brahminism, thus vitally
outraged, prepared the native mind for the belief that we designed to
proceed by some stratagem or other to the utter and final abolition of
caste. This interpretation is wholly on the Hindoo side, and is
respectful rather than otherwise to the earnestness and honesty of the
Brahmins. Other officers, however, directed their attention at once to
the Mohammedan element in the army, and authoritatively pronounced that
the Hindoo sepoys were simply dupes and tools in the hands of the
Moslem. These interpreters said—We have superseded the Mohammedan power
in India; we have dethroned the descendants of the great Aurungzebe and
the greater Akbar; we have subjected the mogul’s lieutenants or nawabs
to our authority; we have lately extinguished the last remaining
monarchy in Northern India held by a son of the Faithful; we have
reduced a conquering and dominant race to a position of inferiority and
subserviency; and hence their undying resentment, their implacable
hatred, their resolute determination to try one more struggle for
supremacy, and their crafty employment of simple bigoted Hindoos as
worthy instruments when sufficiently excited by dark hints and bold
lies.

[Illustration:

  PART OF
  INDIA
  Chief Scene of
  THE MUTINIES OF 1857

  W. & R. CHAMBERS LONDON & EDINBURGH
]

But there was one fact which all these officers admitted, when it was
too late to apply a remedy. Whether the Hindoo or the Mohammedan element
was most disturbed, all agreed that the British forces were ill placed
to cope with any difficulties arising out of a revolt. Doubt might be
entertained how far the disloyalty among the native troops would extend;
but there could be no doubt that European troops were scanty, just at
the places where most likely to be needed. There were somewhat over
twenty thousand Queen’s troops at the time in India, with a few others
on the way thither. Of these, as has been shewn in a former page, the
larger proportion was with the Bengal troops; but instead of being
distributed in the various Bengal and Oude provinces, they were rather
largely posted at two extreme points, certainly not less than two
thousand miles apart—on the Afghan frontier of the Punjaub, and on the
Burmese frontier of Pegu. Four regiments of the Queen’s army were
guarding the newly annexed country of the Punjaub, while three others
were similarly holding the recent conquests in Pegu. What was the
consequence, in relation to the twelve hundred miles between Calcutta
and the Sutlej? An almost complete denudation of European troops: a
surrendering of most of the strongholds to the mercy of the sepoys. Only
one European regiment at Lucknow, and none other in the whole of Oude;
two at Meerut, one at Agra, one at Dinapoor, and one at Calcutta—none at
Cawnpore or Allahabad. The two great native capitals of India—Delhi, of
the Mohammedans: Benares, of the Hindoos—had not one European regiment
in them. Indeed, earlier in the year, Calcutta itself had none; but the
authorities, as narrated in the last chapter, became so uneasy at the
thought of being without European supporters at the seat of government,
that they sent to Rangoon in Pegu for one of the Queen’s regiments, and
did not venture upon the Barrackpore disbandments until this regiment
had arrived. The lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Provinces,
comprising Delhi and the surrounding regions, had in his whole
government only three European regiments, and a sepoy army, soon found
to be faithless. Oude had a considerable native force; but Bengal proper
had very few troops of any kind. In short, the Company’s forces were
almost as unfavourably distributed as they could possibly be, to stem
the Revolt at its beginning; and there may not be much hazard in
assuming that the natives were as well acquainted with this fact as the
British.

The reader will find it useful to bear in mind, that the unfavourable
symptoms during the first four months of the year did not present
themselves in those districts which were afterwards associated with such
terrible deeds. Meerut and Delhi, Dinapoor and Ghazeepore, Benares and
Allahabad, Cawnpore and Lucknow, Mirzapore and Agra—these were not in
open disaffection during the period under notice, however much the
elements for a storm may have been gathering. It was at Dumdum,
Barrackpore, and Berhampore, on the Hoogly branch of the Lower
Ganges—and at Umballa near the Sutlej, separated from them by more than
a thousand miles—that the insubordination was chiefly shewn. Now,
however, the scene shifts to the Jumna and the Upper Ganges—with which
it will be well to become familiar by means of maps. Especially must the
positions of Meerut and Delhi be attended to, in relation to the events
detailed in this and the next following chapters.

Meerut, as a district, is a part of the Doab or delta enclosed between
the rivers Ganges and Jumna; but it is Meerut the town with which this
narrative is concerned. It came into the possession of the British in
1836, and is now included in the territories of Northwest Bengal. The
town, standing on the small river Kalee Nuddee, is about equidistant
from the Ganges and the Jumna, twenty-five or thirty miles from each,
and nearly nine hundred miles from Calcutta. Meerut is interesting to
the Indian antiquary in possessing some good architectural remains of
mosques and pagodas; and to the European residents, in possessing one of
the largest and finest Christian churches in India, capable of
accommodating three thousand persons, and provided with a good organ;
but the houses of the natives are wretchedly built, and the streets
narrow and dirty, as in most oriental towns. It is as a military
station, however, that Meerut is most important. The cantonment is two
miles north of the town, and is divided into two portions by a small
branch of the river, over which two bridges have been thrown. The
northern half of the cantonment contains lines for the accommodation of
a brigade of horse-artillery, a European cavalry corps, and a regiment
of European infantry—separated respectively by intervals of several
hundred yards. In front of these is a fine parade-ground, a mile in
width and four miles in length, having ample space for field-battery
practice and the manœuvres of horse-artillery; with a heavy battery on
the extreme right. Overlooking the parade are the barracks, with
stables, hospitals, riding-schools, canteens, and other military
offices. The barracks consist of a series of separate brick-built
low-roofed structures, each comprising one large and lofty room,
surrounded by a spacious enclosed verandah, divided into apartments for
the non-commissioned officers and the families of married men. Behind
the barracks, in a continued line three deep, are the bungalows or
lodges of the officers, each surrounded by a garden about a hundred
yards square. The opposite or southern half of the cantonment is mainly
occupied by the huts (not barracks) for native troops, and by the
detached bungalows for the officers who command them. This description,
applicable in some degree to many parts of India, may assist in
conveying an idea of the manner in which the European officers have
usually been lodged at the cantonments—in detached bungalows at no great
distance from the huts of the native troops: it may render a little more
intelligible some of the details of the fearful tragedies about to be
narrated. Before the Revolt, it was customary to keep at Meerut a
regiment of European cavalry, a regiment of European infantry, one of
native cavalry, and three of native infantry, besides horse and foot
artillery. The station is a particularly healthy one; and, both
politically and geographically, is an important place to the British
rulers of India.

Meerut, in some respects, was one of the last towns in which the mutiny
might have been expected to commence; for there was no other place in
the Northwest Provinces containing at the time so many English troops.
There were the 60th (Rifle) regiment, 1000 strong; the 6th Dragoon
Guards or Carabineers, 600 strong (but not fully mounted); a troop of
horse-artillery; and 500 artillery recruits—altogether about 2200 men,
with a full complement of officers. The native troops were but little
more numerous: comprising the 3d Bengal cavalry, and the 11th and 20th
Bengal infantry. In such a relative state of the European and native
forces, no one for an instant would have admitted the probability of a
revolt being successful at such a time and place.

Although it was not until the second week in May that those events took
place which carried grief and mourning into so many families, Meerut
began its troubles in the latter part of the preceding month. The troops
at this station had not been inattentive to the events transpiring in
Lower Bengal; they knew all the rumours concerning the greased
cartridges; they had been duped into a belief in the truth of those
rumours; and, moreover, emissaries had been at work among them,
instilling into their minds another preposterous notion—that the
government had plotted to take away their caste and insult their
religion, by causing the pulverised bones of bullocks to be mixed up
with the flour sold in the public markets or bazaars. Major-general
Hewett, commanding the military division of which Meerut was the chief
station, sought by every means to eradicate from the minds of the men
these absurd and pernicious ideas; he pointed out how little the
government had to gain by such a course, how contrary it would be to the
policy adopted during a hundred years, and how improbable was the whole
rumour. He failed, however, in his appeal to the good sense of the men;
and equally did the European officers of the native regiments fail: the
sepoys or infantry, the sowars or cavalry, alike continued in a
distrustful and suspicious state. Many British officers accustomed to
Indian troops aver that these men had been rendered more insubordinate
than ever by the leniency of the proceedings at Barrackpore and
Berhampore; that disbandment was not a sufficiently severe punishment
for the offences committed at those places; that the delay in the
disbanding was injurious, as denoting irresolution on the part of the
authorities at Calcutta; and that the native troops in other places had
begun to imbibe an opinion that the government were afraid of them. But
whatever be the amount of truth in this mode of interpretation, certain
it is that the troops at Meerut evinced a mutinous spirit that caused
great uneasiness to their commanders. Bungalows and houses were set on
fire, no one knew by whom; officers were not saluted as had been their
wont; and whispers went about that the men intended to adopt a bold
course in reference to the greased cartridges.

The military authorities on the spot resolved to put this matter to the
test. On the 23d of April, Colonel Smyth, the English commander of the
3d regiment of native Bengal cavalry, ordered a parade of the
skirmishers of his regiment with carabines on the following morning, to
shew them the newly introduced mode of adjusting their cartridges
without biting, hoping and believing that they would be gratified by
this indication of the willingness of the government to consult their
feelings in the matter. He caused the havildar-major and the
havildar-major’s orderly to come to his house, to shew them how it was
to be done; and the orderly fired off a carabine under the new system.
At night, however, uneasiness was occasioned by the burning down of the
orderly’s tent, and of a horse-hospital close to the magazine. Although
this act of incendiarism looked ominous, the colonel nevertheless
determined to carry out his object on the morrow. Accordingly, on the
morning of the 24th, the troops assembled on parade; and the
havildar-major fired off one cartridge to shew them how it was to be
done. The men demurred, however, to the reception of the cartridges,
though the same in kind as had been used by them during a long period,
and _not_ the new cartridges. An investigation ensued, which was
conducted on the 25th by Major Harrison, deputy-judge advocate. On being
examined, the men admitted that they could discern nothing impure in the
composition or glazing of the paper; but added that they had _heard_ it
was unclean, and believed it to be so. The inquiry, after a few
conciliatory observations on the part of the judge, ended in the men
expressing contrition for their obstinacy, and promising a ready
obedience in the use of the cartridges whenever called upon.

A hope was now entertained that the difficulties had been smoothed away;
but this hope proved to be fallacious. Major-general Hewett, wishing to
put an end to the stupid prejudice, and to settle at once all doubts as
to the obedience of the men, ordered a parade of the 3d cavalry for the
morning of the 6th of May. On the evening of the 5th, preparatory to the
parade, cartridges were given out to the men, the same in quality as
those which had been freely in use during many years. Eighty-five of the
sowars or troopers—either still incredulous on the grease-question, or
resolved to mutiny whether with just cause or not—positively refused to
receive the cartridges. This conduct, of course, could not be
overlooked; the men were taken into custody, and tried by a
court-martial; they were found guilty of a grave military offence, and
were committed to imprisonment with hard labour, for periods varying
from six to ten years. The governor-general, seeing the necessity of
promptitude at this crisis, had just sent orders to the military
stations that the judgments of all court-martials should be put in force
instantly, as a means of impressing the troops with the seriousness of
their position; and Major-general Hewett, acting on these instructions,
proceeded on the 9th to enforce the sentence of the court-martial. A
European guard of 60th Rifles and Carabiniers was placed over the
convicted men; and at daybreak the whole military force at the station
was assembled on the rifle parade-ground. All were there—the European
60th, Carabiniers, and artillery—the native 3d, 11th, and 20th. The
European cannon, carbines, and rifles were loaded, to prepare for any
emergency. The eighty-five mutineers of the 3d native cavalry were
marched upon the ground; they were stripped of their uniforms and
accoutrements; they were shackled with irons riveted on by the
armourers. While this was being done, very meaning looks were exchanged
between the culprits and the other sowars of the same regiment—the
former looking reproachfully at the latter, while the latter appeared
gloomy and crestfallen: it was evident that the unconvicted men had
promised to resist and prevent the infliction of the degrading
punishment on their convicted associates; but it was equally evident
that the presence of so many armed European troops would have rendered
any attempt at rescue worse than useless. The manacles having been
adjusted, the men were marched off to jail. And herein a grave mistake
appears to have been committed. Instead of keeping a watchful eye over
these men at such a perilous time, and retaining them under a guard of
European troops until the excitement had blown over, they were sent to
the common jail of Meerut, two miles distant from the cantonment, and
there handed over to the police or ordinary civil power of the town. How
disastrous was the result of this course of proceeding, we shall
presently see. The native troops, when the culprits had been removed
from the parade-ground, returned to their lines furious with
indignation—at least the 3d cavalry were so, and they gradually brought
over the infantry to share in their indignant feelings. It was a
degrading punishment, unquestionably: whether the remainder of the
native troops at the station would be terrified or exasperated by it,
was just the problem which remained to be solved. All the afternoon and
evening of that day were the men brooding and whispering, plotting and
planning. Unfortunately, the European officers of native regiments were
accustomed to mix so seldom with their men, that they knew little of
what occurred except on parade-ground: this plotting was only known by
its fruits. Judged by subsequent events, it appears probable that the
native troops sent emissaries to Delhi, forty miles distant, to announce
what had occurred, and to plan an open revolt. The prime plotters were
the 3d; the 20th were nearly as eager; but the 11th, newly arrived at
Meerut, held back for some time, although they did not betray the rest.

Little did the European inhabitants, their wives and their children, at
Meerut, dream what was in store for them on Sunday the 10th of May—a day
of peace in the eyes of Christians. It was on the 9th that the sentence
of the court-martial on the eighty-five mutineers was enforced: it was
on the 10th that the Revolt, in its larger sense, began. Whether these
two events stood to each other in the relation of cause and effect, is a
question not easily to be answered; but it may safely be asserted that
the Revolt would not have resulted from the punishment unless the men
had been generally in a state of disaffection. The Sunday opened as most
Sundays open in India, quiet and uneventful, and remained so till
evening. Ladies and families were then going to evening-service at the
church. Some of them passed the mess-room of the 3d cavalry, and there
saw servants looking towards the road leading to the native infantry
lines. Something was evidently wrong. On inquiry it appeared that a
mutiny had broken out, and that fighting was going on in the bazaar.
Crowds of armed men soon hurried that way; and families who had been on
the route to church, drove or walked back in haste to escape danger. So
it was on all sides: whoever on that evening ventured forth, found that
blood-shedding instead of church-service would fill their thoughts. The
Rev. Mr Smyth, chaplain of Meerut, while driving to church for the seven
o’clock service, met two of the 60th Rifles covered with blood; and on
reaching the church, he saw buggies and carriages driving away in great
confusion, and a body of people pointing to a column of fire and smoke
in the direction of the city: frequent shots were heard, amid the cries
of a large mob. In another direction the wife of an officer in the 3d
cavalry, going like other Europeans to church, and startled like them by
sounds of violence, saw a private of the Carabiniers unarmed, and
running for very life from several men armed with _latthies_ or long
sticks: she stopped her carriage and took in the English soldier; but
the men continued to strike at him until the vehicle rolled away. This
lady, on reaching her bungalow in haste and dismay, was the first to
give notice to her husband that something was wrong among the native
troops: he instantly started off on foot to the lines, without waiting
for his horse. In another part of the scene, an English officer of the
11th native infantry, at about six o’clock on that evening, while in his
bungalow preparing for a ride with Colonel Finnis of the same regiment,
had his attention attracted to his servants, and those in the bungalows
of other officers, going down towards the front of the several compounds
or gardens, and looking steadily into the lines or cantonment of the
regiment. He heard a buzzing, murmuring noise, which at first he deemed
of no consequence; but as it continued and increased, he hastily
finished dressing and went out. Scarcely had he reached his gate, when
he heard the sound of firearms, which his practised ear at once told him
were loaded with ball-cartridge. An European non-commissioned officer
came running towards him, with others, and exclaimed: ‘For God’s sake,
sir, leave! Return to your bungalow, change that dress, and fly!’
Shortly afterwards shots came into his own compound; and the
havildar-major of the 11th, rushing terrified and breathless into the
bungalow, exclaimed: ‘Fly, sahib—fly at once! the regiments are in open
mutiny, and firing on their officers; and Colonel Finnis has just been
shot in my arms!’ The officer mounted and started off—at first
leisurely—because ‘a Briton does not like actually running away under
any circumstances;’ but when the havildar-major (native sergeant-major)
advised him to gallop off to the European cavalry lines, he saw that the
suggestion was good; and he immediately started—over a rugged and barren
plain, cut up by nullahs and ravines—towards the lines of the Queen’s
Carabiniers.

When these, and a dozen similar mysteries, came to receive their
solution, it was found that a mutiny had indeed broken out. Shortly
before five o’clock on that Sunday afternoon, the men of the 3d native
cavalry, and of the 20th native infantry, rushed out of their lines on a
given signal, and proceeded to the lines of the 11th native infantry,
all fully armed. After a little hesitation, their comrades joined them;
and then all three regiments proceeded to open acts of violence. Colonel
Finnis of the 11th, the moment he heard of this startling proceeding,
rode to the parade-ground, harangued the men, and endeavoured to induce
them to return to their duty. Instead of listening to him, the men of
the 20th fired a volley, and he fell, riddled with bullets—the first
victim of the Indian Revolt. The other officers present, feeling that
their remaining longer on the ground would effect no good, escaped.
Whether a daring man might have stemmed the torrent, cannot now be told:
no one attempted it after Finnis’s death; his brother-officers were
allowed to escape to the lines of the artillery and the Carabiniers, on
the other side of the encampment. So far as the accounts are
intelligible, the first shots appear to have been fired by the 20th, the
11th joining afterwards in the violence.

While the infantry were thus engaged, the ominous but natural step was
taken by the 3d cavalry of releasing their eighty-five imprisoned
companions—ominous, because those men, enraged at their incarceration,
would join in the disorder with heated blood and excited passions. The
troopers proceeded to the jail, set their companions free, armed them,
and invited them to share in the mutiny. All this was evidently
preconcerted; for native smiths were at hand to strike off the manacles.
Yelling and threatening, the whole returned to the lines; and then
commenced the direful mischief. Within a very short time, all three
regiments became busily engaged in burning and murdering. But this was
not all; when the eighty-five troopers were liberated, the other
prisoners in the jail, _twelve hundred_ in number, were set at liberty
at the same time; and then the scum of Indian society entered into the
scenes of violence with demoniac relish, adding tenfold to the horrors
perpetrated by the sepoys and sowars. The mutineers and the ruffians set
fire to nearly all the bungalows of the native lines, and to the
government establishments near at hand, murdering, as they went, the
Europeans who fell in their way. The bungalows being mostly thatched
with straw, the destruction was very rapid; the cowardly assailants,
setting fire to the thatch, waited till the flames had driven out the
inmates of the bungalow, and then fell upon them as assassins. The
conflagrations were accompanied by the yells of the rioters and the
shrieks of the sufferers, rendered more terrible by the approach of
darkness. The rabble of the bazaar, and the lowest portion of the
population generally, as if intoxicated by release from the dread of
Europeans, now joined the mutineers and the released felons, and the
horrors thickened. On all sides shot up columns of flame and smoke; on
all sides were heard the shouts and curses of some, the cries and
lamentations of others. One redeeming feature—there may have been
others—marked these proceedings; the sepoys of the 11th, in most
instances, connived at the escape of their officers—nay, strove
earnestly to save them: it was not by men of his own regiment that poor
Colonel Finnis had been shot down.

A few individual examples, drawn from the simple but painful narratives
of eye-witnesses, will shew in what way misery and death were brought
into homes where the peace of a Christian Sabbath had reigned only a few
hours before.

The Rev. Mr Smyth, after returning hurriedly from the church where he
had intended to perform divine service, took shelter in the house of an
officer of the artillery in the English lines. Shots had just before
been aimed at that officer and his wife by eight or ten sepoys of the
artillery depôt or school, while standing at the very gate of their
compound; and yet Mr Smyth himself was saluted respectfully by several
sepoys during his hurried retreat—shewing the strange mixture of
deference and ferocity exhibited by these misguided men. Presently
afterwards another shot was heard, a horse was seen galloping past with
a buggy; and it was soon found that the surgeon and the veterinary
surgeon of the 3d cavalry had been wounded and mutilated. The clergyman
escaped unhurt, to learn and to mourn over the events transpiring in
other parts of the town and cantonment.

A captain of horse, the husband of the lady mentioned in a former
paragraph, hastened on the first news from his bungalow to the lines of
the 3d cavalry, in which he commanded a troop. He was respected by his
men, who offered him no hurt, and who seemed to hesitate for a time
whether to join the rest in mutiny or not. Soon, however, the mania
infected them; and the captain, seeing the jail opened and the prisoners
liberated, hastened back. The road from the town to the cantonment was
in an uproar; the infantry and the bazaar-people were in crowds, armed
and firing; and he saw one of the miscreant troopers stab to death an
Englishwoman, the wife of the Meerut hotel-keeper, as she passed. Soon a
ball whizzed past his own car, and he saw one of his own troopers aiming
at him; he shouted: ‘Was that meant for me?’ ‘Yes,’ was the reply; ‘I
will have your blood!’ The captain detected this man as one whom he had
been obliged to punish for carelessness and disobedience. The man fired
again, but again missed his aim; and although the other troopers did not
join in this, they made no attempt to check or seize the assailant. The
captain, abandoned gradually by all but a very few troopers, at length
reached the European lines, where he took part in the proceedings
afterwards adopted. Meanwhile the poor wife had passed two hours of
terrible suspense. Believing at first that the carabinier whom she had
saved might have been the main object of attack, she hid his uniform,
dressed him in a coat of her husband’s, and bade him sit with herself
and family, for mutual safety. Out of doors she heard shots and shouts,
and saw houses burning. In the next bungalow, speedily fired, was the
wife of an adjutant lately arrived from England; she was entreated to
come over for shelter, but not arriving, servants were sent in to seek
her. A horrid sight met them: the hapless lady lay on the floor in a
pool of blood, dead, and mutilated in a way that the pen refuses to
describe. The noises and flames increased; eight or ten flaming
bungalows were in sight at once; and many a struggle took place between
the captain’s servants and the mutineers, during which it was quite
uncertain whether one more burning, one more massacre, would ensue.
Troopers rushed into the bungalow, endeavouring to fire it; while
others, with a lingering affection towards the family of their officer,
prevented them. The husband arrived, in speechless agony concerning the
safety of those dear to him. Wrapped in black stable-blankets, to hide
their light dresses, all left the house amid a glare of flame from
neighbouring buildings, and hid under trees in the garden; whence they
sped to a small ruin near at hand, where, throughout the remainder of
the night, they crouched listening to the noises without. Bands of armed
men passed in and out of the bungalow compound during the night, and
were only prevented from prosecuting a search, by an assurance from the
domestics that the officer’s family had effected their escape. When
morning came, the (now) houseless Europeans, with about twenty troopers
who remained faithful to the last—though agitated by strange waverings
and irresolution—left the place, taking with them such few clothes and
trinkets as could be hastily collected, and started off for the
Carabiniers’ lines, passing on their way the smouldering ruins of many
bungalows and public buildings.

Howsoever the narratives might vary in details, in substance they were
all alike; they spoke of a night of burning, slaughter, and dismay.
Wherever there was a bungalow, the European inhabitants of which did not
succeed in escaping to the English lines, there was murder perpetrated.
The escape of Mr Greathed, civil commissioner for Meerut, was a narrow
one. His house—flat-roofed, as it fortunately happened—was one of the
first attacked by the mutineers: at the first alarm, Mr and Mrs Greathed
fled to the roof; thither, on the least intimation from any of the
servants, the miscreants would have followed them; but the servants
persisted that the family had departed; and the assailants, after
searching every room in the house, took their departure. One officer
after another, as he rushed from his bungalow to call his men back to
their allegiance, was shot down; and wherever the mutineers and their
ruffian companions brought murder into a house, they mingled with the
murder a degree of barbarity quite appalling and unexpected. There were
a few Europeans in the town and vicinity not connected with the military
department; and these, unless they effected their escape, were treated
like the rest; rank, age, and sex were equally disregarded—or, if sex
made any difference, women, gentle English women, were treated more
ruthlessly than men. An officer of the 20th, living in his bungalow with
his wife and two children, was sought out by the ruffians: the father
and mother were killed; but a faithful ayah snatched up the two children
and carried them off to a place of safety—the poor innocents never again
saw their parents alive. An English sergeant was living with his wife
and six children beyond the limits of the cantonment; he and three of
his little ones were massacred in a way that must for very shame be left
untold: the mother, with the other three, all bleeding and mutilated,
managed to crawl to the European lines about midnight.

With what inexpressible astonishment were the narratives of these deeds
heard and perused! Men who had been in India, or were familiar with
Indian affairs, knew that the sepoys had before risen in mutiny, and had
shot their officers; but it was something strange to them, a terrible
novelty, that tender women and little children—injuring none, and
throwing a halo of refinement around all—should be so vilely treated as
to render death a relief. The contrast to all that was considered
characteristic of the Hindoo was so great, that to this day it remains
to many an Indian veteran a horrid enigma—a mystery insoluble even if
his heart-sickness would lead him to the attempt. Be it remembered that
for a whole century the natives had been largely trusted in the
relations of social life; and had well justified that trust. Many an
English lady (it has been observed by an eloquent reviewer, whose words
we have before quoted) has travelled from one end of the country to the
other—along desert roads, through thick jungles, or on vast solitary
rivers—miles and miles away from the companionship of white men, without
the slightest anxiety. Her native servants, Mohammedans and Hindoos,
were her protectors; and she was as safe in such custody as in an
English home. Her slightest caprice was as a law to her attendants.
These swarthy bearded men, ready at her beck, ever treated her with the
most delicate respect, ever appeared to bear about with them a
chivalrous sense of the sacredness of their charge. Not a word or a
gesture ever alarmed her modesty or excited her fear; and her husband,
father, brother never hesitated to confide her to such guardianship. It
was in the year 1857 that the charm of this delicate fidelity was first
broken; and broken so appallingly, that men were long incredulous that
such things could be.

But the children, the sabred and mangled little ones—that these could be
so treated by the same natives, was more astounding to the Anglo-Indians
than even the treatment of the women. ‘Few of our countrymen have ever
returned from India without deploring the loss of their native servants.
In the nursery they are, perhaps, more missed than in any other part of
the establishment. There are, doubtless, hundreds of English parents in
this country who remember with feelings of kindliness and gratitude the
_nusery_ bearers, or male nurses, who attended their children. The
patience, the gentleness, the tenderness with which these white-robed
swarthy Indians attend the little children of their European masters,
surpass even the love of women. You may see them sitting for hour after
hour, with their little infantine charges, amusing them with toys,
fanning them when they slumber, brushing away the flies, or pacing the
verandah with the little ones in their arms, droning the low monotonous
lullaby which charms them to sleep; and all this without a shadow on the
brow, without a gesture of impatience, without a single petulant word.
No matter how peevish, how wayward, how unreasonable, how exacting the
child may be, the native bearer only smiles, shews his white teeth, or
shakes his black locks, giving back a word of endearment in reply to
young master’s imperious discontent. In the sick-room, doubly gentle and
doubly patient, his noiseless ministrations are continued through long
days, often through long nights, as though hunger and weariness were
human frailties to be cast off at such a time. It is little to say that
these poor hirelings often love their master’s children with greater
tenderness than their own. Parted from their little charges, they may
often be seen weeping like children themselves; and have been known, in
after-years, to travel hundreds of miles to see the brave young ensign
or the blooming maiden whom they once dandled in their arms.’ These men,
it is true, were domestic servants, not sepoys or soldiers fighting in
the army of the Company; but it is equally true that the British
officers, almost without exception, trusted implicitly to the sepoys who
acted as orderlies or servants to them; and that those orderlies shewed
themselves worthy of the trust, by their scrupulous respect to the
ladies of each household, and their tender affection for the little ones
born under the roof of the bungalow. Hence the mingled wonderment and
grief when fiend-like cruelties suddenly destroyed the charm of this
reliance.

Allowing the veil to remain, at present, drawn over still greater
horrors in other places, it must be admitted that the principal
atrocities at Meerut were perpetrated by the twelve hundred miscreants
liberated from the jail, aided by the general rabble of the town. The
native troops had something in their thoughts besides firing bungalows
and murdering a few Europeans; they had arranged some sort of plot with
the native troops of Delhi; and they set out in a body for that city
long before the deplorable transactions at Meerut had ceased. Those
scenes continued more or less throughout the night; officers and their
wives, parents and their children, were not relieved from the agony of
suspense before morning broke.

[Illustration:

  Laboratory at Meerut.
]

The number massacred at Meerut on this evening and night was not so
large as the excited feelings of the survivors led them to imply; but it
was large to them; for it told of a whole cluster of happy homes
suddenly broken up, of bungalows reduced to ashes, of bleeding corpses
brought in one by one, of children rendered fatherless, of property
consumed, of hopes blasted, of confidence destroyed. The European
soldiers, as will presently be seen, soon obtained the mastery so far as
Meerut was concerned; but the surviving women and children had still
many hours, many days, of discomfort and misery to bear. The School of
Instruction near the artillery laboratory became the place of shelter
for most of them; and this place was much crowded. How mournfully does
it tell of large families rendered homeless to read thus: ‘We are in a
small house at one end of the place, which consists of one large room
and verandah rooms all round; and in this miserable shed—for we can
scarcely call it anything else—there are no less than forty-one
souls’—then are named thirteen members of one family, ten of another,
three other families of four each, and two others of three each—‘besides
having in our verandah room the post-office, and arranging at present a
small room adjoining the post-office as the telegraph-office.’ Some of
the houseless officers and their families found temporary homes in the
sergeants’ rooms of the European lines; space was found for all,
although amid much confusion; and one of the refugees writes of ‘a crowd
of helpless babies’ that added to the misery of the scene. Adverting to
others like herself, she remarks: ‘Ladies who were mere formal
acquaintances now wring each other’s hands with intense sympathy; what a
look there was when we first assembled here!—all of us had stared death
in the face.’

Let us turn now to a question which has probably presented itself more
than once to the mind of the reader during the perusal of these sad
details—What were the twenty-two hundred European troops doing while the
three native regiments were imbuing their hands in the blood of innocent
women and children? Could not they have intervened to prevent the
atrocities? It must be borne in mind that these fine English troops, the
Carabiniers and 60th Rifles, with artillery, were nearly equal in number
to the rebels; and that, if quickly moved, they would have been a match
for five or ten times their number. Whether or not they _were_ quickly
moved, is just the question at issue. Major-general Hewett’s dispatch to
the adjutant-general thus describes the course adopted as soon as the
outbreak became known to him: ‘The artillery, Carabiniers, and 60th
Rifles were got under arms; but by the time we reached the native
infantry parade-ground, it was too dark to act with efficiency in that
direction; consequently, the troops retired to the north of the nullah,
so as to cover the barracks and officers’ lines of the artillery,
Carabiniers, and 60th Rifles; which were, with the exception of one
house, preserved; though the insurgents—for I believe the mutineers had
by that time retired by the Allygurh and Delhi roads—burned the vacant
Sapper and Miner lines.’

One thing is quite certain—the mutineers were not pursued: they were
allowed to go to Delhi, there to raise the standard of rebellion in a
still more alarming way. The Carabiniers, it is true, were deficient in
horses to join in pursuit; but this might assuredly have been obviated
by precautionary arrangements during the many days on which the 3d
native cavalry had shewn symptoms of insubordination. An officer of the
11th native infantry, who narrowly escaped death in his gallop to the
European cantonment, accompanied the Queen’s regiments to the scene of
anarchy; but there is evidence that he considered the movements somewhat
tardy. ‘It took us a long time, in my opinion,’ he says, ‘to get ready,
and it was dark before the Carabiniers were prepared to start in a
body.’ In the latitude of Meerut, we may remark, in the second week in
May, darkness can hardly come on until near seven o’clock, whereas the
outbreak occurred two hours earlier. He continues: ‘When the Carabiniers
were mounted, we rode off at a brisk trot, through clouds of suffocating
dust, and darkness, in an easterly direction, and along a narrow
road—_not advancing in the direction of the conflagration_, but, on the
contrary, leaving it behind on our right rear. In this way we proceeded
for some two or three miles, to my no small surprise, when suddenly the
“halt” was sounded, and we faced about, retracing our steps, and verging
off to our left. Approaching the conflagration, we debouched on the left
rear of the native infantry lines, which of course were all in a blaze.
Skirting along behind these lines, we turned them at the western end,
and wheeling up to the left, came upon the 11th parade-ground, where, at
a little distance, we found the horse-artillery and her Majesty’s 60th
Rifles. It appears that the three regiments of mutineers had by this
time commenced dropping off to the westward to the Delhi road, for here
some firing took place between them and the Rifles; and presently the
horse-artillery, coming to the front and unlimbering, opened upon a
copse or wood in which they had apparently found cover, with heavy
discharges of grape and canister, which rattled among the trees; and all
was silent again. The horse-artillery now limbered up again, and wheeled
round; and here I joined them, having lost the Carabiniers in the
darkness. By this time, however, the moon arose. The horse-artillery
column, with Rifles at its head, moving across the parade-ground, we
entered the long street turning from the southward behind the light
cavalry lines. There it was that the extent and particulars of the
conflagration first became visible; and, passing the burning bungalow of
the adjutant of the 11th native infantry, we proceeded along the
straight road or street, flanked on both sides with flaming and crashing
houses in all stages of combustion and ruin; the Rifles occasionally
firing volleys as we proceeded. It was by this time past ten o’clock;
and having made the entire circuit of the lines, we passed up to the
east of them, and, joined by the Carabiniers and Rifles, bivouacked for
the night.’

Collating various accounts of this evening’s events, it becomes evident
that the military movements of the Europeans were anything but prompt.
Even if the two regiments and the artillery could not have reached the
scene of tumult before dark—a supposition not at all borne out—still it
seems strange that all should have ‘bivouacked for the night’ at the
very time when three mutinous native regiments were on the way to Delhi.
Hasty critics, as is usual in such circumstances, at once condemned the
military commander at Meerut; and an ex-governor-general, dwelling, in
his place in the House of Lords, on the occurrences in India, spoke in a
contemptuous tone of ‘an unknown man named Hewett’ as one whose
misconduct had allowed the rebel troops to escape from Meerut to Delhi.
It was hard for a soldier who had served for forty years in India,
without once returning to his native country, to find contumely thus
hurled at him; it is one of the bitter things to which public men are
subjected, not only from anonymous writers, but from other public men
whose names carry authority with them. A near relation of the
major-general afterwards took up his defence, urging that it might have
been unwise policy to send the only European troops in pursuit to Delhi,
at a time when the magazines and stores at Meerut required so much
attention. The defence may possibly be insufficient; but the history of
the Crimean war had shewn how hastily Lord Raglan had been accused of
offences, things committed and things omitted, for which he was
afterwards known not to have been responsible; and this experience ought
to have suggested caution to assailants, especially remembering how long
a time must often elapse between an accusation and a refutation, during
which time the wound is festering. Declining years certainly did not
prevent the officer whose name is now under notice from taking a part in
the operations, such as they were, of the English troops at Meerut;
although in his sixty-eighth year, he slept on the ground among the
guns, like his men, on the 10th of May, and for fourteen consecutive
nights he did the same; while for many following weeks he never doffed
his regimentals, except for change of apparel, night or day. Whether
such details are trivial or not, depends on the nature of the
accusations. It is only the hasty judgments of those at a distance that
are here commented on; the dissatisfaction of the Calcutta authorities
will be adverted to in a future page.

The sympathies of the Europeans at Meerut were drawn in a forcible way
towards the inmates of a convent and school at Sirdhana—an establishment
remarkable as existing in that part of India. We must go back sixty
years to understand this. Towards the close of the last century, there
was a Cashmerian bayadère or dancing-girl, who became associated with a
German adventurer, and then, by a course of unscrupulous intrigue and
fearless sanguinary measures, obtained possession of three considerable
jaghires or principalities in the region around and between Meerut and
Delhi. These cities, as well as Agra and others in the Doab, were at
that time in the hands of the great Mahratta chief, Dowlut Rao Scindia.
After a series of brilliant victories, the British obtained possession
of the Doab in 1803, but awarded a petty sovereignty to the female
adventurer, who became thenceforth known as the Begum Sumroo. She
retained her queendom until her death in 1836, after which the three
jaghires passed into the hands of the British. This remarkable woman,
during the later years of her life, professed the Roman Catholic faith;
she had a spacious and handsome palace at Sirdhana, about twelve miles
from Meerut; and near it she built a Catholic church, imitative on a
small scale of St Peter’s at Rome, with a beautiful altar inlaid with
mosaics and precious stones. Out of twelve thousand inhabitants in
Sirdhana, about one-tenth now profess themselves Christians, having
imitated the begum in her change of religion; and there is a Christian
convent there, containing a number of priests, nuns, and pupils. When,
therefore, the outrages occurred at Meerut, apprehensions naturally
arose concerning the fate of the European women and girls at this
convent. About five days after the Revolt commenced, rumours came in
that the inmates of the convent at Sirdhana were in peril; and it was
only by great exertions that the postmaster at Meerut was enabled to
bring some of them away. A letter written in reference to this
proceeding said: ‘The poor nuns begged of him, when he was coming away,
to try and send them some help; he tried all he could to get a guard to
escort them to this station, but did not succeed; and yesterday morning
(16th of May), having given up the idea of procuring a guard from the
military authorities, he went round, and by speaking to some gentlemen,
got about fifteen persons to volunteer their services, to go and rescue
the poor nuns and children from Sirdhana; and I am happy to say they
succeeded in their charitable errand without any one having been
injured.’

It will be remembered that, during the burnings and murderings at Meerut
on the evening of the 10th, most of the mutineers of the three regiments
started off to Delhi. They took, as was afterwards found, the high road
from Meerut, and passing the villages of Begumabad, Moradnuggur,
Furrucknuggur, and Shahderuh, reached Delhi early on Monday; the
infantry making forced marches, and the cavalry riding near them for
support. Proof was soon afforded that the native troops in that city, or
some of them, had been waiting for the mutineers, prepared to join them
in an organised attack on the Europeans. What aspect that attack put on,
and what were the calamities to which it gave rise, will be narrated in
the next two chapters.

Many days elapsed before Meerut recovered its tranquillity. Such men of
the 3d, 11th, and 20th regiments as remained faithful—especially the
11th, of whom there were more than a hundred—were received at the
cantonment, and their previous insubordination pardoned on account of
their subsequent fidelity; but still there were many causes for anxiety.
In the major-general’s first report on the disasters, he said: ‘Nearly
the whole of the cantonment and Zillah police have deserted.’ These
police or watchmen are referred to by an officer familiar with the
district, who says: ‘Round about Meerut and Delhi there are two or three
peculiar castes or tribes, something similar to our gipsies, only
holding human life at less value, and which in former days gave constant
trouble. Of late years, they have lived in more peace and quietness,
contenting themselves with picking up stray cattle and things that did
not belong to them. They have now, however, on the earliest occasion
broken out again, and have been guilty of all kinds of depredations.
Skinner’s Horse was originally raised to keep these people in order,
about the time of Lord Lake; such men have hitherto been necessary at
Meerut, Delhi, and those parts, as watchmen; every one was obliged to
keep one, to avoid being robbed to a certainty.’ The Meerut inhabitants
had thus, in addition to their other troubles, the knowledge that gangs
of desperadoes would be likely to acquire renewed audacity through the
defection of the native police.

It was soon ascertained that the dâk communications on many of the roads
were cut off, and the military commandant found much difficulty in
transmitting intelligence to the seat of government. Five days after the
great outbreak, another cause of uneasiness ensued. Six companies of
native Sappers and Miners arrived at Meerut from Roorkee, under their
commander, Major Fraser. The place here named is interesting in a
twofold point of view. Being situated in one of the most elevated sites
in the Doab between the Jumna and the Ganges, about eighty miles north
of Meerut, it was selected as the head-quarters for operations on the
great Ganges Canal, the noblest British work in India; and here has been
made a magnificent aqueduct nine hundred feet in length, with arches of
fifty feet span. This aqueduct, and the necessary workshops and
model-rooms of the engineers, have converted the place from a small
village to a considerable station. Roorkee also contains an
establishment called the ‘Thomason College,’ for affording instruction
in civil engineering to Europeans and natives. When the native Sappers
and Miners, about eight hundred strong, arrived at Meerut from this
place, on the 16th of May—either excited by the news of the late
occurrences, or moved by some other impulse—they suddenly shot their
commanding officer, and made off for the open country. A force of the
Carabiniers and horse-artillery went in pursuit of them, and shot down
many; but a greater number escaped, probably to Delhi. Such of the
companies as did not attempt flight were disarmed and carefully watched.

[Illustration:

  Dâk Runner.
]

Too soon, alas! did the Europeans at Meerut know that atrocities were
being committed at Delhi. By twos and threes did fugitives come in, glad
to sacrifice all else for the sake of very life. Now several officers of
the 38th native regiment; now a merchant and his family; now officers of
the 74th and their families; now civil servants of the Company; now
officers of the 54th—all toil-worn, dirty, ragged, hungered, weighed
down by the miseries of their forty miles’ flight from brutal
assailants: women, as is usual with Englishwomen, bearing their share of
these miseries with the truest heroism. All was doubt as to the
occurrences in other quarters; dâks were cut off, telegraphic wires were
severed; the wishes and orders of the governor-general at one place, and
the commander-in-chief at another, could not yet be known. On the night
of the outbreak, two Europeans had endeavoured to travel by dâk from
Meerut to Delhi; they encountered the rebels, and were murdered; and
this was the commencement of indications, afterwards abundant enough,
that the roads were no longer safe. All that was certain was, that a
sudden social earthquake had overturned the homes of families distant
nine hundred miles from Calcutta, bringing death to many, mourning and
loss to others, distrust and anxiety to all.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                DELHI, THE CENTRE OF INDIAN NATIONALITY.


The course of this narrative now requires that attention—more particular
than will be required in relation to other cities in India—should be
bestowed on the world-renowned Delhi, the great focus of all that can be
called truly national in that vast country. Three regiments fled from
Meerut to Delhi, and there found other regiments ready to join them in
scenes of revolt and violence, of spoliation and murder; but it is
necessary, in order to appreciate what followed, to know why Delhi is
regarded in a peculiar light by the natives: why a successful resistance
to British rule was, and must long continue to be, more serious in that
locality than in any other part of the East. Not only ought the position
of the city, considered as the residence of a hundred and sixty thousand
Mohammedans and Hindoos, to be rendered familiar; but the reader should
know how it has happened that the sovereign of that city has, for eight
or nine hundred years, been regarded in a peculiar sense as the autocrat
of Hindostan, the one man before whom millions of natives have been wont
to bend the knee, or rather to lie prostrate in abject submission.

What India was before the arrival of the Mussulmans, need not be told
here at any length. We know, in truth, very little on that matter. It
was from the days of the first Moslem conqueror that the greatness of
Delhi began. Long before the Christian era, Arab merchants brought rich
spiceries from Sinde and Malabar, and sold them to Phœnician merchants,
who conveyed them on laden camels by way of Petra to the shores of the
Mediterranean. Other portions of Indian merchandise were carried up the
Persian Gulf and the Euphrates to a point whence they were transported
westward to Aleppo or Antioch—a route almost identical with that
advocated in the present day for a Euphrates railway and a Euphrates
telegraph. The Greeks derived all their knowledge of Indian commodities
through the Phœnicians: while their information concerning the country
itself was obtained from the Persians, who at one time held sway as far
as the Indus. The expedition of Alexander the Great into India, about
326 B.C., first gave the Greeks a personal knowledge of this wonderful
land; and many successors of the great Macedonian added to the then
existing amount of information concerning the tribes, the productions,
the customs of the region beyond the Indus. Consequent on those
discoveries, the merchants of the newly founded city of Alexandria
gradually obtained a command of the trade with India: bringing the rich
produce of the East by ship to Berenice on the Red Sea, and then
transporting it overland to Alexandria. The commodities thus imported
were chiefly precious stones, spices, perfumes, and silks; and during
some centuries the Roman Empire was drained of much specie to pay for
these imports. Alexandrians were the principal merchants who furnished
the nations of Europe with Indian articles till the discovery of the
passage round the Cape of Good Hope by Vasco de Gama in 1498. The
western nations of Asia, however, continued to be supplied principally
by the merchants of Basra or Bussorah, a very flourishing commercial
city near the point where the Euphrates empties itself into the Persian
Gulf; and there was also an extensive caravan-trade from Northern India
through Northern Persia to the Caspian and the Black Sea. The discovery
of the Cape of Good Hope route naturally attracted the attention of the
maritime nations of Europe towards India, followed by the settlement of
Portuguese and Dutch traders on the coast, and ultimately by the
wonderful rise of British power in those regions through the
instrumentality of the East India Company.

But although trading instincts thus laid India open to the commercial
dealings of merchants, and to the cupidity of European princes, it was
not until modern erudition had been applied to the subject that the true
history of the land of the Hindoos became at all known. Scholars found,
when they had mastered the Sanscrit or sacred language of that people,
that a wonderful mine of information was thrown open to them. They
ascertained that the nation, whatever it may have been called, from
which the genuine Hindoos are descended, must at some period have
inhabited the central plains of Asia, whence they migrated into the
northern parts of India; that for at least a thousand years before the
Christian era, great and powerful empires existed in Hindostan, which
made considerable progress in knowledge, civilisation, and literature;
that Southern India, or the Deccan, was conquered and peopled by the
Hindoos at a much later date than the rest; that Buddhism, the religion
of the earlier inhabitants, was overruled and driven out by Brahminism
or Hindooism in the fifth century of our era; and that for five
centuries longer, the Hindoos were the true rulers of this much-coveted
land.

It was, however, as has been already implied, only with the arrival of
the Mohammedans that the course of Indian history took that turn which
is now interesting to us, especially in connection with the city of
Delhi.

The year 1000 was marked by the invasion of India by Mahmoud of Ghiznee,
a Tatar sovereign who held sway among the chieftains of Afghanistan. He
defeated the rajah of Lahore at Peshawur; then penetrated beyond the
Sutlej; and returned laden with spoil. In a second expedition he
conquered Moultan; in a third, he reconquered the same city after a
revolt. A fourth expedition found Mahmoud opposed by a confederacy of
all the sovereigns of Northern India, who, seeing a common danger,
resolved to unite for a common cause; they were rapidly gaining an
advantage over him, when the sudden fright of an elephant induced a
panic in the Hindoo army, and left the victory to Mahmoud, who returned
to Ghiznee still more richly laden with booty than ever. For a time, the
Hindoo king who reigned over the region of which Delhi was the chief
city, managed to ward off the hostility of the great invader; but taking
offence at a departure from neutrality during one of the later
expeditions, Mahmoud captured that city, and returned to Ghiznee with
forty thousand prisoners. For thirty years did these raids and
spoliations continue. The most celebrated next to that which resulted in
the sack of Delhi, was the expedition intended for the destruction of
the Hindoo temple of Somnauth in Gujerat: a temple which, if native
annals are to be believed, had fifty thousand worshippers, and was
endowed with a revenue of two thousand villages; which had two thousand
Brahmins officiating as priests, five hundred daughters of noble Hindoos
as dancing-girls, three hundred musicians; and the sandal-wood gates of
which were the theme of magniloquence from the pen of an English
governor-general eight centuries afterwards.[7] Mahmoud broke all the
idols, and carried off countless treasures to Ghiznee.

From that time to the period of the rise of British power, the
Mohammedans never lost their hold upon India, however much it may have
been shaken by occasional success on the part of the Hindoos; nor did
they ever cease to regard Delhi as the chief Indian city. Although
Mahmoud made twelve expeditions across the Indus, the object was mainly
booty, rather than permanent settlement. His successors, however,
established a regular government in the Punjaub, and in the region
thence eastward to Delhi. The Ghiznee dynasty was put an end to in the
year 1184, when it was overcome by the Seljuks; and in 1193 Delhi was
formally appointed capital of the Moslem sovereigns of India. After a
succession of rebellions and murders, exhibiting all the hideous
features of Oriental politics, the Seljuk dynasty fell to pieces in the
year 1289. Then arose a third Mohammedan dynasty, that of the Afghans or
Patans, who came like all the other conquerors of India from the
northwest, and who like them coveted Delhi as their capital. For about a
century did these Patan emperors reign, continually struggling against
Hindoo rajahs on the one hand, and Mussulman adventurers on the other.

It was in the year 1398 that Tamerlane—familiar to all school-boys in
England by the famous name of Timour the Tatar—first set foot in India,
and laid the foundation of the Mogul dynasty. Properly speaking, he was
not a true Mogul, but belonged to the rival Tatar nation of Turcomans;
nevertheless the line of emperors to which he gave origin has always
been known as the Mogul dynasty. He was a ruthless conqueror, who,
having ravaged all Central Asia from the Black Sea to the Chinese
frontier, turned his attention towards India. He crossed the Indus at
Attock, went to Moultan, and extended his march to Delhi, wading through
Hindoo blood, which he shed without resistance and almost without cause.
The native annalists record how he put a hundred thousand beings to
death in the great city; how he caused himself to be proclaimed Emperor
or Great Mogul of India; how he departed suddenly to end his days on the
other side of the Indus; and how Delhi mourned for many a year over its
miseries. No pen can describe what India suffered during the next
century and a quarter, with a Mogul emperor at Delhi, constantly
fighting with the Mohammedan chieftains who resisted his authority.

The long but often broken line of wretched despots need not be
enumerated here: a few landmarks of great names—Baber, Akbar,
Jehanghire, Shahjehan, Aurungzebe, Nadir Shah—will furnish all that is
needful for our present purpose.

Baber—or, in more majestic form, Zahireddin Mohammed Baber—a descendant
of Tamerlane, was the first really great Mohammedan emperor of Delhi,
the first Mogul who regarded his subjects in any other light than as a
prey to be spoliated. Centering his power at Delhi, he extended it
eastward to the mouth of the Ganges; and although, in his short reign of
four years, from 1526 to 1530, constantly engaged in military
expeditions, he nevertheless found time to cultivate the arts of peace,
and to attend to whatever appeared calculated to promote the prosperity
of his empire. In blood-shedding, he was scarcely surpassed by his
predecessor Tamerlane: indeed this was a propensity among all the Tatar
chieftains of those times. When his warlike and angry passions were not
excited, Baber could, however, come forth in a very different light, as
a kind and forgiving man, one fond of friends and friendship, and not
without a tinge of poetry in his tastes. He was a man of business, who
attended personally to the affairs of government, and passed fewer hours
in sensual idleness than is customary with oriental princes. With the
Hindoos he had little trouble; their national character was by this time
much broken; the rapid succession of reigning families had inured them
to change; and they had imbibed a feeling of horror and dismay from the
atrocities to which the various Moslem conquerors had subjected them.
When opposition to his progress had once ceased in India, he became an
altered man. He made or improved roads; established serais or
resting-places for travellers at suitable distances; caused the land to
be measured, in order to fix taxation by equitable adjustment; planted
gardens, and introduced many trees and plants until then unknown in
India; established a regular post from Agra, through Delhi, Lahore, and
Peshawur, to Cabool; and wrought many improvements in the city of Delhi.

Akbar, unquestionably the wisest and greatest prince who ever ruled
India—a prince who was really a benefactor to his people—was the
grandson of Baber. Becoming emperor of Delhi in 1556, he established the
Mogul dynasty on a firmer basis than it had before occupied. The native
Hindoos enjoyed, under him, greater prosperity than they had ever
experienced since the first invasion of the Mohammedans. He was
distinguished by a spirit of toleration and a love of justice; and the
memory of his virtues is to this day treasured up by the Hindoos as well
as the Mussulmans of India. As the worshippers of Islam had, by the time
of Akbar, fallen out much among themselves, in various parts of Asia,
the Mogul Moslems of India gradually became weaned from sympathy with
the rest, and prepared for more thorough amalgamation with the Hindoos
than had ever before been possible. If not an amalgamation by family
ties, it was at least an incorporation by civil and social usages; and
thus it is that from the time of Akbar may be dated the remarkable
mixture of Mohammedans and Hindoos in so many towns of India. Ambitious
chieftains might continue to struggle for supremacy; but the populace of
the two religions began to wish rather to trade together than to
exterminate each other. Akbar had the genius to see the full force of
this tendency, and the honesty to encourage it. He never crushed those
whom he conquered; but invited all alike, Hindoos as well as
Mohammedans, to settle down as peaceful citizens, assured that they
would receive equal justice from him regardless of their religious
differences. He placed natives of both races in offices of trust; he
abolished the capitation-tax on infidels; he forbade the degradation of
war-prisoners to the position of slaves; he abrogated such of the Hindoo
laws as were most repulsive to reason or humanity, without being vital
parts of their religion; he discouraged fanaticism among those of his
own faith; he encouraged trade and commerce; he reduced taxation; and he
kept a strict watch over the conduct of the officers of his government.
The mildness of his character, his strict impartiality to the different
classes of his subjects the magnanimity which he shewed to his enemies,
and his great personal courage are mentioned with praise even by the
Jesuits, who visited India during his reign. Well did this eminent man,
during his long reign of forty-nine years, deserve the title of Akbar
the Great; and natural was it that his subjects should look up with
reverence to Delhi, the centre and seat of his empire. His reign, both
in its beginning and its end, was almost exactly contemporaneous with
that of Queen Elizabeth in England.

Jehanghire, a far inferior prince to Akbar, succeeded him in 1605, and
soon became involved in troubles. The Uzbeks obtained possession of his
dominions in Cabool; the King of Persia took Candahar from him; the
Afghans revolted from his rule; the Hindoo Rajpoots commenced their
struggles for independence; and, at a later date, his son Shahjehan
rebelled against him. Nevertheless, Jehanghire, judged by an oriental
standard, was not a bad ruler of Hindostan. The country enjoyed
considerable prosperity under him; literature was extensively
cultivated; many new cities were built; the Hindoo religion experienced
even greater toleration than in the reign of Akbar; and he gave a
courteous reception to Sir Thomas Roe, sent on an embassy from England
to the Great Mogul. He was, however, a strange being. In a fit of anger
against certain rebels, he caused several hundreds of them to be
impaled, and placed in a row leading out of the Lahore gate at Delhi;
and he himself rode past them on an elephant, ‘to receive the obeisance
of his friends.’ His native ferocity also shone out, in his causing one
of his principal councillors to be sewed up in the hide of a newly
flayed ox, and thrown into the street; the hide, shrinking in the heat
of the sun, compressed him to death; but as the compression came too
soon to satisfy the savage feelings of the monarch, he caused the next
victim, when similarly incased, to be sprinkled with water occasionally,
to prolong the torture. One of the most remarkable circumstances in the
career of Jehanghire was the influence gradually acquired over him by
his Sultaness Nurmahal, the ‘light of the palace,’ whose name became
changed to Nurjehan, the ‘light of the world;’ her exquisite beauty,
wit, and accomplishments, won the love of the monarch; and as she was in
mind and heart far his superior, her power over him was often exerted
for good purposes.

Shahjehan, an ungrateful son to Jehanghire, was destined to be, in turn,
the victim of his own son Aurungzebe. He was an emperor from 1627 to
1659, and then a miserable uncrowned captive for seven years longer. He
attacked all the neighbouring princes whose dominions or wealth he
coveted; and blinded or murdered all his relations whose ambition he
dreaded. And yet, amid his atrocities, he was a man of much ability.
Delhi, Agra, and other cities, benefited by his rule. The internal
government of his kingdom was very complete. The great mosque at Delhi,
and the Taj Mahal at Agra, which rose at his command, are, to this day,
objects of admiration to the natives of India. Though it may, to English
minds, have been a waste of public money to spend six millions sterling
on the far-famed peacock’s throne; yet, as all his establishments were
formed on a scale of great magnificence, and as numerous other cities
and towns throughout the Empire vied with the splendour of Delhi and
Agra—there is evidence that the Mogul and his dominions must have owned
vast wealth. He possessed both taste and financial tact; and thus, with
all his atrocities, Shahjehan left behind him a full treasury and a
splendid and prosperous empire.

Aurungzebe, the last Mogul who maintained the real greatness of the
native court of Delhi, became emperor in 1659, by an act of violence
against his royal parent. He captured the cities of Hyderabad, Bejapore,
and Golconda, and extended his dominions nearly to the limits of the
Carnatic. There were, however, the germs of mischief perceptible in his
reign: the warlike Hindoo tribe of Mahrattas rose into note; and though
they were frequently defeated in the plains by the troops of Aurungzebe,
he was unable to subdue the country inhabited by these mountaineers.
Sevajee, the founder of the Mahratta empire, gradually conquered the
greater part of the Deccan; he died in 1682, and his son, Sambajee, was
put to a cruel death by Aurungzebe in 1689; but the Mogul emperors of
the north could never afterwards wholly subdue the Mahratta rajah of the
south. Aurungzebe was illiberal towards his Hindoo subjects; and this
circumstance threw them into closer sympathy than would otherwise have
been produced with the rude Mahratta mountaineers. He was not without
ability; but he had neither the wisdom nor the justice to maintain his
wide-spreading empire in a state of greatness; and when he died in 1707,
he left the Mogul power at Delhi much weaker than he found it at the
period of his seizure of the crown.

Nadir Shah, although never emperor of Delhi, must be named here as one
who contributed to the crumbling of the Mogul dynasty. This man, one of
the grand barbarians whom Central Asia has so often sent forth, was the
son of a sheep-skin cap-maker. He became a soldier of fortune; then the
leader of a band of robbers; then governor of Khorassan; then Shah of
Persia; then a formidable opponent of the Turks and the Afghans; and
then a scourge to India. While devastating Afghanistan in 1738, he
required of the Emperor of Delhi that none of the Afghans should find
shelter in his (the Mogul’s) dominions; but as no attention was paid to
his demands, he marched into Hindostan in the following year, and
entered Delhi with an enormous army on the 8th of March. He seized the
whole of the vast treasures which had been amassed in the course of
nearly two centuries by the Mogul monarchs. The citizens not being so
submissive as he wished, he ordered a general massacre. His commands
were only too well obeyed; for, from sunrise till noon, the inhabitants
were slaughtered by his soldiers without distinction of sex or age. At
the earnest intercession of the emperor, Nadir ordered the butchery to
be stopped. Where the estimates of human beings murdered varies from
8000 to 150,000, it is clear that no trustworthy data are obtainable;
but it is unquestionable that Delhi suffered immensely, both in its
population and its wealth. The ruthless despoiler not only refrained
from claiming the crown of Hindostan, but he did not make any conquests
whatever: he came simply as a Shah of Persia on an errand of vengeance;
he remained two months at Delhi; and then departed westward, carrying
with him treasures that have been variously estimated at from thirty to
seventy millions sterling.

The Delhi monarchs no longer need or deserve our attention; they had
fallen from their high estate, and were forced to struggle constantly
for the maintenance of their authority. A number of obscure names meet
our view after the time of Aurungzebe—Shah Alum, Moez-Eddin, Furrucksir,
Mohammed Shah, Ahmed Shah, Alumghir, and Shah Alum II.: each more
powerless than the preceding. Now they were attacked by the warlike
Mahrattas; now by the Rajpoots, a military Hindoo tribe which had never
been wholly subdued by the Moslems; now by the Sikhs, a kind of Hindoo
dissenters, brave and independent in their bearing; now by the Rohillas,
an Afghan race, who effected a settlement in the very neighbourhood of
Delhi; now by many of the Mohammedan nawabs or viceroys, who, like other
Asiatic viceroys in parallel circumstances, were willing to rise on the
fall of their masters; now by the competing sons and nephews who
surrounded every emperor; and now—more striking in its consequences than
all the rest—by the ever-encroaching British.

Nevertheless, amid all this decadence of Mogul power, the natives of
Hindostan never ceased to look up to the emperor as the centre of power,
to Delhi as the centre of nationality. Their traditions told them of
Mahmoud, of Tamerlane, of Baber, of the great Akbar, of Jehanghire, of
Shahjehan, of Aurungzebe; and although ruthless barbarities were
connected with the names of many of these rulers, there was still a
grandeur that impressed the imagination. The Hindoos, it is true, had
their sacred associations connected with Benares rather than with Delhi;
but their distinct nationality had been almost stamped out of them
during eight centuries of Mohammedan supremacy; and they, like the rest,
held in reverence the city where the peacock’s throne had glittered on
the world.

By what strange steps the descendants of the Great Mogul became
pensioners of the East India Company, will be explained presently; but
it will be well first to describe Delhi itself.

This far-famed city is situated on the river Jumna, about five hundred
miles by road above Allahabad, where the Jumna flows into the Ganges,
and nine hundred by road from Calcutta. In the opposite direction, Delhi
is nearly four hundred miles from Lahore, and six or seven hundred from
Peshawur—so great are the distances between the chief towns in India:
distances that terribly hamper the operations of a British army during
any sudden emergency. Striking as Delhi may be, it presents but a faint
approach in splendour to the city of past days, the home of the grand
old Moguls. Of the original Delhi, the natives give the most extravagant
account; they even run back to a period three thousand years before the
Christian era for its foundation. All that is certain, however, is, that
Inderput or Indraprestha, the name of the old city, was the capital of a
Hindoo kingdom under a rajah, long before its conquest by the
Mohammedans. When or how the original city went to ruin, is not exactly
known; but modern Delhi owes its chief adornments to Shahjehan. A
traveller from the south or Agra direction is struck with the evidences
of ruined Inderput before he sees anything of modern Delhi. ‘Everywhere
throughout the plain rise shapeless half-ruined obelisks, the relics of
massive Patan architecture, their bases buried under heaps of ruins
bearing a dismal growth of thorny shrubs. Everywhere we tread on
overthrown walls. Brick mosaics mark the ground-plan of the humbler
dwellings of the poorer classes. Among the relics of a remote age, are
occasionally to be seen monuments of light and elegant style of
architecture, embellished with brilliant colours, gilt domes, and
minarets incased in enamelled tiles.’ Some travellers have asserted that
they have traced these ruins thirty miles along the Jumna; but these
cannot all have been the ruins of one city. Approaching the present
Delhi, it is seen that the ruins are spread over a plain, in the midst
of which the city is situated; and they give place, after a time, to the
tasteful villas of the Europeans who exercise civil or military control
within Delhi. Most of these villas are on the site of the once famous
garden of Shalimar. On the northern side of the city, close under a
ridge of sandstone rocks called the Mijnoon Pahar, are the
cantonments—an alternation of bungalows, huts, and groups of trees.

So much for the environs. Although not entitled to take rank among the
great cities of the earth, Delhi is nevertheless a considerable place,
for it is seven miles in circumference. The Jumna bounds it on the east,
while a lofty crenellated wall, of horseshoe shape, completes the
boundary on the other sides. This wall has been an object of much
attention at different times. As built by Shahjehan, it possessed little
strength. When the British obtained ascendency over the city in 1803,
the wall was found to be in a ruinous state, without other flanking
defences than small circular bastions placed at intervals; the ditch was
imperfect; there was scarcely any vestige of a glacis or exterior slope;
and the crumbling ruins of dilapidated buildings had been allowed to
accumulate all round the wall. Captains Hutchinson and Smith, of the
Bengal engineers, were thereupon deputed to restore and strengthen the
fortifications. It was determined to establish a series of bastions,
with faces and flanks to defend the curtain or plain wall, and to mount
them with heavy artillery. The walls were repaired; and to shield them
from escalade, they were protected, especially on the river-front, with
beams of timber, the sharpened ends of which were pointed at an acute
angle downward into the ditch. The ditch was cleared out and deepened;
the glacis was made to cover, in some degree, the scarp of the wall; the
ground outside was cleared to some distance of ruins and houses; and the
ravines were filled up to check the approach of marauding horsemen. To
prepare for a rising within the city as well as an attack from without,
detached martello towers were constructed, entirely separate from the
walls, and accessible from them only by drawbridges; each tower had a
gun mounted on a pivot, so that in the event of a tumult in the city,
the towers might be occupied by artillerymen, the drawbridges drawn up,
and the guns swiveled round to pour a fire upon the insurgents. The
gateways of the city were strengthened; outworks were provided in front
of some of them, while others were provided with guard-houses and
_places-d’armes_. At a much later date—in 1838—Lord Auckland caused the
walls and towers to be strengthened, and one of the new defences, called
the Wellesley Bastion, to be reconstructed.

In what relation these defences stood to a British besieging force in
1857, will remain to be told in a future chapter: we proceed here with
the description of the city.

[Illustration:

  BIRD’S-EYE VIEW OF DELHI.—From a Coloured Lithograph by A. Maclure:
    taken from original native Drawings.
]

Delhi has seven gates on the land-side, named, respectively, the Lahore,
Ajmeer, Turcoman, Cabool, Mohur or Moree, Cashmere, and Agra Gates;
while along the river-front are four others, the Rajghat, Negumbod,
Lall, and Kaila Gates. Some little diversity is shewn by travellers in
giving these names; and some make the number of gates twelve instead of
eleven. The Cashmere Gate is provided with casemated or shot-proof
chambers, for the accommodation of a city-guard. A bridge of boats over
the Jumna connects Delhi with the road leading northeastward to Meerut,
and the chief magazine is, or was, between the centre of the city and
this bridge. Eight of the defences on the walls are called the Shah
Bastion, Burn Bastion, Gurstin Bastion, College Bastion, Ochterlony
Bastion, Lake Bastion, Wellesley Bastion, and Nawab Bastion—names
obviously derived, in most instances, from military officers engaged in
the Company’s service. Strictly speaking, the wall does not quite
surround the city; for on one side it abuts on a small branch of the
river, where there is a short bridge across to the old fort of
Selimgurh, built in a very heavy style by one of the early emperors.
Entirely outside the wall, north of the city, is a custom-house, which
affords a curious commentary on the relations existing between the civil
and military officers of the Company. It was first built by a medical
officer, then sold to the Company for a treasury, and then adapted as a
custom-house. The engineers wanted to get rid of this building, as an
obstruction to their plan of defences, in the same way as they had swept
away numerous outhouses, bazaars, and ruins; but the civilians prevented
this; and so the custom-house remained till 1857, when the building and
its garden became a ready prey to the rebels.

The city, considered without relation to its defences, presents many of
those features so familiar in oriental towns. As seen by the approaching
traveller, few of the dwelling-houses peep above the ramparts; but the
Jumma Musjid or principal mosque, the turreted and battlemented palace,
the minarets, and other public buildings, combine to form a majestic
picture; while the graceful acacias and lofty date-trees bending over
the ramparts, and the grouping of tombs with sombre foliage on the
glacis, add new features to the scene. Arrived within the city, it is
seen that the streets are mostly narrow. The chief exception is that of
a handsome street running south from the palace to the Agra Gate: three
quarters of a mile long by a hundred and fifty feet wide. This street
has, therefore, length and breadth enough to afford space for much
splendour; but the Delhians have not fully availed themselves of this
opportunity, for they have built blocks of small houses in the midst of
this street, analogous in some degree to the ‘Middle Rows’ known to the
inhabitants of London. Another large street, similarly shorn of its due
dignity, runs from the palace westward to the Lahore Gate. Both streets
are, however, enlivened by raised water-courses flowing in channels of
red stone—part of a great work begun and finished by the Company, for
supplying Delhi with water.

The glories of Delhi are the great mosque and the still greater palace.
The Jumma Musjid, situated in the centre of the city, is one of those
buildings to which Mohammedans point with pride: famous not only in
Hindostan, but all over Southern and Central Asia. It presents to the
eye an open court on an elevated platform, nearly five hundred feet
square; in the middle of which is a marble fountain for the ablutions
necessary in the ceremonials of Islamism. On three sides of this court
are open arcades and octagonal pavilions; while on the fourth side is
the mosque, a structure of great splendour approached by a magnificent
flight of marble steps. White marble cornices inlaid in black marble
with inscriptions from the Koran; walls, ceilings, and pavements of the
same delicate materials; beautiful domes and lofty minarets—all combine
to render the Jumma Musjid a truly gorgeous structure. The Emperor
Shahjehan built it more than two centuries ago; and the British
government gave orders in 1851 that it should be kept in repair.

But, splendid as is the Jumma Musjid, the imperial palace is still more
striking—partly for what it is, but principally for what it has been.
The palace stands between the two principal streets and the bridge. Some
travellers have compared it with Windsor Castle, some with the Kremlin
at Moscow, in size and majesty; while others insist that it has no
compeer. Bishop Heber was quite enthusiastic in its praise. In the first
place, the palatial buildings are surrounded by a wall to which there is
certainly no parallel either at Windsor or at Moscow; it is of red
granite, three quarters of a mile in circuit, nearly forty feet high,
flanked with turrets and domes, and entered by two noble gates with
barbicans. This wall is a grand work in itself, irrespective of the
structures it encloses. Strictly speaking, the wall is only on three
sides, the fourth abutting on a small branch of the Jumna, where occurs
the short bridge crossing to the old fort of Selimgurh. The palace
itself is entered by a series of beautiful gateways, all of red granite,
and all sculptured with flowers and inscriptions from the Koran. The
vaulted aisles and the open octagonal courts are spoken of by Heber with
great admiration. The Dewani Khas, or private council-chamber, although
allowed to become filthy by the visits of crows and kites, is an
exquisite structure; it is a pavilion of white marble, supporting four
cupolas of the same delicate material, with pillars and arches
elaborately inlaid with gilt arabesques, flowers, and inscriptions. The
garden around it has numerous white marble fountains of elegant form,
and a small octagonal pavilion with bath-rooms, but all dirty and
neglected. The Moti Musjid or private mosque for the court, and the
Dewani-aum or public hall of audience, are, like the rest of the palace,
ornate in marble and in carving, in sculpture and in inscriptions, in
gilding and in inlaying; and, also like the rest, disfigured with
filth—a combination truly oriental. In the hall of audience is, or was
before the Revolt, the dais on which once stood the world-renowned
peacock’s throne, formed entirely of gold and jewels; and it was in this
same chamber that the victorious Nadir Shah, by exchanging turbans with
the defeated Mogul Mohammed Shah, obtained possession of a treasure
almost as renowned as the peacock’s throne itself—the _koh-i-noor_, the
‘mountain of light,’ the glorious diamond which, after various
vicissitudes, now occupies a place in the regalia of Queen Victoria.

Passing from a scene of decayed splendour to one of living interest, we
find Delhi to be inhabited by almost an exactly equal number of Hindoos
and Mohammedans, eighty thousand of each; but it is essentially a
Mohammedan city, the centre of their prestige and influence in India;
and all the dwellings and public buildings of the Hindoos are indicative
of a race locally less powerful. Besides the imperial palace just
described, there is, about nine miles from Delhi, near an extraordinary
pillar called the Kootub Minar, the country residence of the emperor,
or, as it has been more customary in recent years to call him, the King.
It is a large but paltry building, in an inferior style of Italian
architecture, with a public road running through the very court-yard.
Within the city a palace was built for the British resident a few years
ago; and around this building a number of elegant houses have since been
erected, by the natives as well as by the Europeans. Since the once
great Mogul has been a king without a kingdom, a pensioned puppet of the
Company, a potentate having nothing to employ his thoughts and his
pension but political intrigue and sensual indulgence—the representative
of England has been a sort of envoy or resident, ostensibly rendering
honour to the Mogul, but really watching that he does no mischief,
really insuring that he shall be a king only in name. But more on this
point presently. The British civil staff in the city comprises—or did
comprise before the Revolt—a resident or commissioner, a revenue
collector, a magistrate, and other officials. There have usually been
three regiments barracked or stationed in the cantonment; but the
military importance of the place has been rather due to the fact that
Delhi has been made a depôt for a large park of artillery—valuable
enough when in the hands of the British, but a source of dismay and
disaster when seized by mutineers.

Although this narrative has little to do with the merits or demerits of
Delhi as a place of residence; yet, knowing something of what Englishmen
and Englishwomen have had to bear when cooped up within a town or fort
menaced by ruthless natives, every compatriot at home would like further
to know in what way those trials are likely to have been aggravated by
the incidents of climate. A lady-traveller furnishes a vivid picture of
Delhi in a _hot-wind_, such as frequently visits towns in India during
certain seasons of the year. ‘Every article of furniture is burning to
the touch; the hardest wood, if not well covered with blankets, will
split with a report like that of a pistol; and linen taken from the
drawers appears as if just removed from a kitchen-fire. The nights are
terrible, every apartment being heated to excess. Gentlemen usually have
their beds placed in the verandahs, or on the chubootiar or terrace on
the top of the house: as they incur little risk in sleeping in the open
air, at a season in which no dew falls, and when there is scarcely any
variation in the thermometer. Tornadoes are frequent during these hot
winds; while they last, the skies, though cloudless, are darkened with
dust, the sun is obscured, and a London fog cannot more effectually
exclude the prospect. The birds are dreadful sufferers at this season;
their wings droop, and their bills are open as if gasping for breath;
all animals are more or less affected.’ Then, when this frightful heat
is about to depart, ensues a storm, more terrible to look at, though
easier to bear. ‘The approaching strife is made known by a cloud, or
rather a wall of dust, which appears at the extremity of the horizon,
becoming more lofty as it advances. The air is sultry and still; for the
wind, which is tearing up the sand as it rushes along, is not felt in
front of the billowy masses, whose mighty ramparts gather strength as
they spread. At length the plain is surrounded, and the sky becomes as
murky as midnight. Then the thunder breaks forth, but its most awful
peals are scarcely heard in the deep roar of the tempest; burst succeeds
to burst, each more wild and furious than the former; the forked
lightnings flash in vain, for the dust, which is as thick as snow,
flings an impenetrable veil around them. The wind having spent itself in
a final effort, suddenly subsides, and the dust is as speedily dispersed
by torrents of rain, which in a very short time flood the whole
country.’ This is the last agony of the storm; after which the
temperature lowers and nature becomes more tranquil.

Such is Delhi—such the city which, amid all its changes of fortune, has
for so many centuries been an object of reverential affection to the
natives of Hindostan. When the disorganised regiments from Meerut
entered the imperial gates, they found an aged mogul or king, with sons
and grandsons, courtiers and retainers, willing to make him a
stepping-stone to their own advancement. Who this king was, and how he
had come into that position, may soon be told.

Precisely a century ago, when Clive was preparing to revenge the
atrocities connected with the Black Hole at Calcutta, the Delhi empire
was rapidly losing all its power; the northern and northwestern
provinces were seized upon by the Afghans and the Sikhs; the Rajpoots
extended their dominions as far as Ajmeer; and the Emperor Alumghir was
too weak to protect his capital from the monstrous barbarities of the
Afghan insurgents. The next emperor, Shah Alum II., unable either to
repel invaders or to control his rebellious nawabs, virtually yielded to
the rapidly rising power of the East India Company. He signed a treaty
with Clive in 1765, involving mutual obligations; he was to yield to the
British certain provinces, and to award to a resident appointed from
Calcutta considerable power at the court of Delhi; while the British
were to protect him from his numerous assailants, and to secure him a
pension of £260,000 per annum, which, with other sources of wealth,
brought the degenerate descendant of the Moguls nearly half a million
annually. Troubled by the Mahrattas on one side, by the Rohillas on a
second, and by the Nawab of Oude on a third, the paralysed emperor
became so bewildered that he knew not which way to turn. About 1788 a
Rohilla chieftain suddenly entered Delhi, and put out the eyes of the
unfortunate emperor with a poniard; then the Mahrattas defeated this
chieftain, seized the capital, and reduced Shah Alum himself to a mere
puppet. During this anarchy the British in India were so fully occupied
in other quarters, that they could not make a resolute demonstration in
the centre of the once great Mogul empire; but in the year 1803 all was
prepared by Lord Lake for a resolute attempt to break down the Mahratta
and Rohilla power in the north, and to insure that the emperor should
have no other master than the Company—a kindness, the motives for which
will not bear very close scrutiny. The battle of Delhi, fought on the
11th of September 1803, opened the gates of the city to the British, and
relieved the emperor from his thraldom. A reverse had very nearly
occurred, however. While Lake was reposing after his victory, Holkar,
the great Mahratta chief, leaving his cavalry to attract the notice of
the British at Muttra, suddenly appeared before Delhi with a force of
20,000 infantry and 100 guns. The garrison comprised only two battalions
and four companies of native troops, with a few irregular horse; and as
some of these deserted at the first affright, there were left only 800
men and 11 guns to defend a city seven miles in circuit. By unwearied
patience and daring intrepidity, however, Colonel Burn, who was military
commandant in the city at the time, and who was ably assisted by Colonel
Ochterlony and Lieutenant Rose, succeeded in repelling all the attacks
of the Mahrattas; and Holkar retired discomfited.

From that day—from the 16th of October 1803, until the 11th of May
1857—an enemy was never seen before the gates of Delhi; a day had never
passed during which the city had been other than the capital of a state
governed nominally by a Mogul king, but really by a British resident.
Shah Alum, after thirty years of a troubled life, was vouchsafed three
years of peace, and died in 1806—a pensioner of that great abstraction,
that inscrutable mystery to the millions of Hindostan, the ‘Coompanee
Bahadoor,’ the Most Honourable Company.

The behaviour of the Company’s servants towards the feeble descendant of
the Great Moguls was, until about thirty years ago, the most absurd
mockery. They took away all his real power, and then offered him a
privilege, the least exercise of which, if he had ventured on such a
thing, they would at once have resented. Shah Akbar, who succeeded his
old, blind, feeble father, Shah Alum, in 1806, became at once a
pensioner. He was really king, not over a kingdom, but only over the
twelve thousand inmates of the imperial palace at Delhi, his relations
and retainers—the whole of whom he supported on a pension of about a
hundred thousand pounds per annum, paid by the Company. Hindoo and
Mussulman, notwithstanding his fallen state, alike looked up to him as
the only representative of the ancient glories of India; numerous
princes received their solemn and legal investiture from him; and until
1827, the Company acquired no new province _without applying for his
nominal sanction and official firman_. He was permitted to bestow
dresses of honour on native princes at their accession to the musnud, as
a token of suzerainty; and the same ceremony was attempted by him
occasionally towards the governor-general. At length, under the rule of
Earl Amherst in 1827, it was determined to put an end to a system which
was either a mockery, or an incentive to disaffection on the part of the
Delhians. The pension to the king was increased to a hundred and fifty
thousand pounds, but the supposed or implied vassalage of the East India
Company to the nominal Padishah or Mohammedan ruler of India was brought
to an end; Shah Akbar being, from that date, powerless beyond the walls
of his palace—except as the representative, the symbol, of something
great, still venerated by the natives.

Palace intrigues have not been wanting at Delhi during the twenty years
that preceded the Revolt; and these intrigues have borne some relation
to the state of disaffection that accompanied that outbreak. Shah Akbar
reigned, if reigning it can be called, from 1806 until 1837. He wished
to be succeeded by his second son, Shahzadah Jehanghire; but the British
authorities insisted that the succession should go, as before, to the
eldest son; and consequently Meerza Abu Zuffur became emperor on Shah
Akbar’s death in 1837, under the title of Mahomed Suraj-u-deen Shah
Ghazee. This monarch, again, exhibited the same distrust of the next
heir that is so often displayed in Oriental countries; the British
authorities were solicited to set aside the proper heir to the peacock’s
throne, in favour of a younger prince who possessed much influence in
the zenana. Again was the request refused; and the palace at Delhi was
known to have been a focus of discontent and intrigue for some time
previous to the Revolt. The mode in which the Marquis of Dalhousie
treated these matters, in his minute of 1856, has already been adverted
to; but it may be well to repeat his words here, to shew the exact state
of Delhi palace-politics at that time. ‘Seven years ago [that is, in
1849], the heir-apparent to the King of Delhi died. He was the last of
the race who had been born in the purple. The Court of Directors was
accordingly advised to decline to recognise any other heir-apparent, and
to permit the kingly title to fall into abeyance upon the death of the
present king, who even then was a very aged man. The Honourable Court
accordingly conveyed to the government of India authority to terminate
the dynasty of Timour, whenever the reigning king should die. But as it
was found that, although the Honourable Court had consented to the
measure, it had given its consent with great reluctance, I abstained
from making use of the authority which had been given to me. The
grandson of the king was recognised as heir-apparent; but only on
condition that he should quit the palace in Delhi, in order to reside in
the palace at the Kootub; and that he should, as king, receive the
governor-general of India at all times on terms of perfect equality.’ It
was therefore simply a suspension of the absolute extinction of the
kingly title at Delhi: a suspension dictated, apparently, by the
existence of a little more hesitation in the court of directors, than in
the bold governor-general.

The king who occupied the nominal throne of Delhi at the time of the
Revolt was neither better nor worse than the average of his
predecessors. A pensioned prince with no responsibilities, he was a true
Oriental sensualist, and had become an almost imbecile old man between
eighty and ninety years of age. Nevertheless, for the reasons already
more than once stated, he was invested with a certain greatness in the
eyes of the natives of Hindostan; and Delhi was still their great city.
Hindoos, Afghans, Patans, Seljuks, Rajpoots, Tatars, Moguls, Persians,
Rohillas, Mahrattas, Sikhs—all had left their impress upon the capital;
and with one or other of these, the millions of India had sympathies
either of race or of creed. Even to the hour of the outbreak, the king
was approached with the reverence due to royalty. In the ruined paradise
of Oriental sensualism, the great palace of Delhi, ‘the house of
Tamerlane still revelled in unchecked vileness. The royal family,
consisting of many hundreds—idle, dissolute, shameless, too proud or too
effeminate for military service—lived in entire dependence on the king’s
allowance. For their amusement were congregated from all India the most
marvellous jugglers, the most cunning bird-tamers and snake-charmers,
the most fascinating dancing-girls, the most skilled Persian musicians.
Though the population was exactly balanced between Mohammedans and
Hindoos, it was the Moslem who here reigned supreme.’[8]

[Illustration:

  HOWDAH OF AN INDIAN PRINCE.
]

-----

Footnote 7:

  When General Nott returned to India after his victorious campaign in
  Afghanistan in 1842, he brought away with him the gates of Somnauth,
  which, according to the tradition, had remained at Ghiznee since the
  days of Mahmoud. This and other trophies gave occasion to an address
  from Lord Ellenborough to the native princes of India, conceived in
  somewhat bombastic language, in which the recapture of the gates was
  characterised as an achievement ‘avenging the insult of eight hundred
  years.’ The chiefs and princes of Sirhind, Rajwarra, Malwah, and
  Gujarat, were enjoined to transmit, ‘with all honour,’ the gates to
  Somnauth. The address was much ridiculed in England; but those on the
  spot believed it to be calculated to make an impression on the
  natives. The home government, however, would not permit the gates—even
  if the genuine sandal-wood originals, which is not free from doubt—to
  be sent to the still-existing temple of Somnauth; they considered such
  an act would identify the Company injuriously with one of the two
  great parties of religionists in India, and deeply offend the other.

[Illustration:

  King of Delhi.
]



                               CHAPTER V.
                    THE EVENTFUL ESCAPES FROM DELHI.


Remembering that in the month of May 1857 there was a very aged king
living in the great palace at Delhi; that the heir-apparent, his
grandson, resided in the palace of Kootub Minar, eight or nine miles
from the city; that the Moslem natives still looked up to the king with
a sort of reverence; and that his enormous family had become
dissatisfied with the prospective extinction of the kingly power and
name—remembering these facts, the reader will be prepared to follow the
fortunes of the Meerut mutineers, and to understand on what grounds the
support of the royal family was counted upon.

The distance to be passed over being forty miles, it was not till the
day after the outbreak at Meerut—namely, the 11th of May—that the three
mutinous regiments reached Delhi. The telegraphic wires were so soon
cut, and the dâks so effectually interrupted, that it is doubtful at
what hour, and to what extent, the transactions at Meerut became known
to Brigadier Graves, who commanded at Delhi. The position of that
officer was well calculated to produce uneasiness in his mind at a time
of insubordination and distrust; for he had no European regiments with
him. The garrison consisted of the 38th, 54th, and 74th native
regiments, and a battery of native artillery; the English comprised only
a few officers and sergeants of those regiments, the various servants of
the Company, and private traders within the city. The 54th and 74th had
not up to that time shewn any strong symptoms of disaffection; but the
38th, which had achieved a kind of triumph over the Marquis of Dalhousie
in 1852, in reference to the proposed expedition to Pegu, had ever since
displayed somewhat of a boastful demeanour, a pride of position and
influence. The three regiments and the artillery had their regular
quarters in the cantonment, about two miles north of the city: sending
into Delhi such companies or drafts as were necessary to man the
bastions, towers, magazine, &c. As the river Hindoun, a tributary to the
Jumna, crosses the Meerut and Delhi road near Furrucknuggur, about ten
miles from Delhi, it might be a fair problem whether the mutineers could
have been met and frustrated at the crossing of that river: the solution
of this problem, however, would necessarily depend partly on the time
available, and partly on the prudence of marching the Delhi force across
the Jumna at such a period, placing a broad river between the brigadier
and a city likely to be readily affected by notions of disaffection.
Whether influenced by want of time, want of due information, or by
strategical reasons, no such movement was made by him. The mutineers
would obviously cross the Jumna by the bridge of boats, and would then
pass southwestward into the city, or northwestward towards the
cantonment, or possibly both. A necessity arose, therefore, for adopting
defensive measures in two different quarters; and as the non-military
portion of the European inhabitants, especially women and children,
would be a source of much anxiety at such a time, the brigadier made
arrangements to accommodate them, or some of them, in the Flagstaff
Tower, a strong circular brick building on the heights near the
cantonment, a mile and a half north of the nearest or Cashmere Gate of
the city. The military commandant ordered out his regiments, drew forth
his guns, and delivered a pithy address, in which he exhorted the sepoys
to stand true to their colours, and repel the mutineers as soon as they
should appear. His address was received with cheers, the insincerity of
which was soon to be made manifest.

So many Europeans were cut and shot down at Delhi on this day of misery,
and so precipitate was the escape of others, that not one single person
was in a position to give a connected narrative of the dismal work.
Startling, indeed, were the sights and the sounds which riveted the
attention of the European inhabitants on this morning. A peaceful Sunday
had passed over in its ordinary way; for none knew what were the deeds
being perpetrated at Meerut. The native troops, it is true, were to some
extent cognizant of that movement, for the insurgents had unquestionably
arranged the outlines of a plan; and some of the European officers at
Delhi had observed, not without uneasiness, a change in the behaviour of
the sepoys at that station; nevertheless, to the Europeans generally,
this social avalanche was a wholly unexpected visitation. Resistance was
needed from those too powerless to resist effectually; and flight was
the only resource for many too weak, too young, too sick, to bear up
under such a necessity. All the letters, since made public, relating to
the sad events of that day, tend to shew how little the European
inhabitants of Delhi looked forward to such scenes. One lady, after a
hurried retreat, said: ‘We can hardly ourselves believe how we escaped.
The way in which poor helpless men, women, and children were slaughtered
without a moment’s warning was most dreadful. We were surprised on the
morning of the 11th of May (baby’s birthday) by a party of mutineers
from Meerut.’ It is evident that ‘baby’s birthday’ had dawned with much
happier thoughts in the poor mother’s mind, than were destined to remain
there. Another lady, with her husband and child, were just about to
leave Delhi for Calcutta; their dâk-passage was paid, and their
travelling arrangements nearly completed. Suddenly a messenger hastened
to their home to announce that the Meerut mutineers had crossed the
bridge, and were within the city walls; and very soon afterwards,
fearful sights told them that immediate escape was the only mode of
saving their lives. So it was all over the city; terror and blood began
the week, instead of peace and commerce.

The train of circumstances, as we have just said, having involved either
the death or the hasty flight of nearly all the English within the city
and the cantonment, it follows that the narrative of the day’s ruthless
work must be constructed from materials derived from various quarters,
each supplying some of the links. When Major Abbott of the 74th found
himself, on the next day, the senior officer among those who escaped to
Meerut, he deemed it his duty to write an account to Major-general
Hewett of the proceedings, so far as his sad tale could tell them. With
this we begin.

The city, according to Major Abbott’s narrative, was entered first by a
small number of the mutinous 3d native cavalry, who crossed by the
bridge of boats. While proceeding westward, they were met by a wing of
the 54th native infantry, under the command of Colonel Ripley. But here
a serious symptom at once presented itself; the 54th excused themselves
from firing on the mutineers, on the plea of their muskets not being
loaded; the guard of the 38th native infantry likewise refused, on some
pretence, to fire; and thus the insurgents were enabled to enter the
city by the Cashmere Gate. Captain Wallis, the field-officer of the
week, on ordering the men of the mainguard at the gate to wheel up and
fire, was met by insulting jeers; and he only desisted from importuning
them when he found the work of death going on in other quarters. Six
British officers of the 54th speedily fell, either killed or
wounded—namely, Colonel Ripley, Captains Smith and Burrowes, Lieutenants
Edwardes, Waterfield, and Butler. Major Abbott, willing to hope that his
own regiment, the 74th, was still faithful, hastened to the cantonment,
got as many of his men together as he could, and explained to them that
the time was come to shew their fidelity as true soldiers: he announced
his intention to go down to the Cashmere Gate, and called for volunteers
to follow him. All for a while went favourably; the men stepped up to
the front, loaded promptly, and marched off briskly after the major. On
arriving at the Cashmere Gate, the 74th took possession of the
mainguard, drawn up in readiness to receive any attack that might be
made. Affairs remained quiet near that gate until towards three o’clock,
when a heavy firing of guns, followed by a terrific explosion, announced
that fighting had been going on near the magazine, and that a vast store
of ammunition had been blown into the air. Whether this explosion had
been caused by friends or enemies was not at first known; but the news
soon spread abroad that a gallant artillery-officer, Lieutenant
Willoughby, had adopted this terrible mode of preventing an enormous
supply of warlike material from falling into the hands of the
insurgents.

Before proceeding with the narrative of events in the city, it will be
necessary to describe more particularly the occurrence last adverted to.
There were two magazines, one near the cantonment, and a much larger and
more important one in the city. It was the last named that became the
scene of such desperate work. This magazine was an enclosure of
considerable size, about midway between the Selimgurh Fort and the
Cashmere Gate, almost close to the British residency. As a storehouse
filled with a greater quantity of guns, gunpowder, and ammunition, than
any other place in India, a struggle for its possession between the
British and the insurgents became inevitable: hence it arose that the
destruction of the magazine was an achievement worthy of record, no less
for its vast importance in relation to the ultimate fate of the city,
than for the cool heroism that marked its planning and execution. The
magazine contained no less than three hundred guns and mortars, twenty
thousand stand of arms, two hundred thousand shot and shell, and other
warlike stores. Lieutenant Willoughby was himself too severely wounded
by the explosion to write; but the details of this gallant affair have
been very exactly given by Lieutenant G. Forrest, who was
assistant-commissary of ordnance in Delhi at the time. Between seven and
eight o’clock in the morning of this eventful day, Sir Theophilus
Metcalfe, one of the civil servants of the Company, residing between the
city and the cantonment, came to the lieutenant, and requested him to go
to the magazine for the purpose of planting two guns on the bridge, as a
means of barring the passage of the mutineers. Arrived at the magazine,
they met Lieutenants Willoughby and Raynor, and several officers and
privates of the ordnance establishment. The three principals went to the
small bastion on the river-face, commanding a full view of the bridge;
there they could distinctly see the mutineers marching in open columns,
headed by their cavalry; and they also saw that the Delhi side of the
bridge was already in the possession of a smaller body of horse. Any
attempt to close or guard the city-gates was found to be too late; for
the mutineers were admitted, with great cheering, into the gate of the
palace. Lieutenant Willoughby, seeing the critical state of affairs,
returned quickly to the magazine, closed and barricaded the gates, and
prepared for defence. Conductor Crow and Sergeant Stewart were placed
near one of the gates, with lighted matches in their hands, in command
of two six-pounders double-charged with grape, which they were ordered
to fire if any attempt were made to force the gate from without. The
principal gate of the magazine was similarly defended by two guns, with
_chevaux-de-frise_ laid down on the inside. There were five other
six-pounders, and a twenty-four pounder howitzer, quickly placed at such
spots as might render them more readily available for defence—all
double-loaded with grape-shot. A more doubtful task was that of arming
the native artillerymen or ordnance servants within the magazine; for
they were in a state, not only of excitement, but of insubordination,
much more inclined to aid the assailants without than the defenders
within. This arming being effected so far as was practicable, a train of
gunpowder was laid down from the magazine to a distant spot; and it was
agreed that, on Lieutenant Willoughby giving the order, Conductor
Buckley should raise his hat as a signal to Conductor Scully to fire the
train and blow up the magazine with all its contents. Having done all
that a cool and circumspect leader could do to prepare for the worst,
Lieutenant Willoughby awaited the issue. Very soon, mutinous sepoys—or
rather the palace guards, who had not until that hour been mutinous—came
and demanded possession of the magazine, _in the name of the King of
Delhi_! No answer being vouchsafed to this demand, scaling-ladders were
sent from the palace, and placed against the wall of the magazine. This
decided the wavering of the native artillerymen; they all as with one
accord deserted, climbed up to the sloping roofs on the inside of the
magazine, and descended the ladders to the outside. The insurgents now
appearing in great numbers on the top of the walls, the little band of
Europeans commenced a brisk fire of grape-shot, which worked much
mischief among the enemy; although only nine in number, they kept
several hundred men at bay. At last, the stock of grape at hand was
exhausted, and the beleaguered garrison was shot at instead of shooting:
seeing that none could run to the storehouses for more grape-shot
without leaving to the mutineers freedom of entry by leaping from the
walls. Two of the small number being wounded, and the impossibility of
longer holding out being apparent, Lieutenant Willoughby gave the
signal; whereupon Conductor Scully instantly fired the train. An awful
explosion followed, amid the din and confusion of which, all who were
not too much injured made their way out of the sally-port, to escape in
the best manner they could. What was the number of insurgents killed and
wounded by the grape-shot discharges and by the explosion, no one knew;
some of the English officers estimated it at more than a thousand. It
was at the time hoped by the authorities that the whole of the vast
store of ammunition had been blown into the air, beyond the reach of the
mutineers; but subsequent events shewed that the destruction was not so
complete.[9]

To return to the agitating scenes within the city. Major Abbott,
immediately on hearing of the explosion at the magazine, found himself
placed in a painful position: urged to different courses by different
persons, and doubtful how long his own regiment would remain faithful.
He was requested by the commandant to send back two guns to the
cantonment, as a means of defence; while, on the other hand, he was
entreated by Major Paterson, and by the civil collector who had charge
of the treasury, to retain his small force for guarding the various
government establishments within the city. Major Abbott listened to this
latter suggestion for a time, but then made arrangements for sending off
the two guns to the cantonment. By this time, however, he found it was
of little consequence what orders he gave: the native troops were fast
getting beyond his control. The two guns, and some men of the 38th
regiment, returned; the gunners had deserted on the road, and the guns
had therefore been brought back again. A few of the native officers who
were still faithful now importuned him to leave the city as soon as
possible; he at first interpreted their request as an advice to hasten
to defend the cantonment; but soon found that it bore relation to his
own safety. Presently he heard shots whizzing in the mainguard. He asked
what they meant, and was told: ‘The 38th are shooting the European
officers.’ He then ordered about a hundred of his men to hasten with him
to the rescue; but they replied: ‘Sir, it is useless. They are all
killed by this time, and we shall not save any one. We have saved you,
and we are happy; we will not allow you to go back and be murdered.’ The
history of the Revolt presented many such incidents as this; in every
native regiment there were some men who wished to remain faithful, and
some officers who were favourites among them. The sepoys formed a ring
round the major, and hurried him on foot along the road leading to the
cantonment. He stopped some time at the quarter-guard, and sent a
messenger to the saluting tower to obtain information of the proceedings
in other parts of the city.

The sun was now setting, and evening approaching, giving omen of a night
of danger and difficulty. Major Abbott espied two or three carriages
belonging to officers of his own regiment, going northward on the road
to Kurnaul; and on inquiry, he was told by the men at the quarter-guard:
‘Sir, they are leaving the cantonment; pray follow their example. We
have protected you so far; but it will be impossible for us to do so
much longer. Pray fly for your life!’ Willing as he was to remain at his
post to the last, the major felt that the men around him were so far
faithful as to deserve credence for what they had just uttered; and that
his own life, if now taken, would be sacrificed without in any way
contributing towards the retention of Delhi in British hands. He
therefore replied: ‘Very well; I am off to Meerut. Bring the colours;
and let me see as many of you at Meerut as are not inclined to become
traitors.’ Major Abbott and Captain Hawkey now mounted one horse and
started off after the carriages. They overtook some guns going the same
road; but after a progress of four miles, the drivers refused to go any
further, and insisted on driving the guns back again to Delhi. The
officers, thus entirely deserted by the native troops, having no
European troops with or near them, and being powerless to effect any
good, rode or drove off to seek safety in other directions.

Major Abbott afterwards learned at what point in the day’s proceedings
his own regiment, the 74th, first broke out in mutiny. As soon as the
explosion of the magazine was heard, he ordered Captain Gordon to take a
company with him, to see whether he could render any aid in that
quarter; the captain found, however, not only that his aid would be
useless, but that his men exhibited great unwillingness to move.
Somewhat later, several officers of the 74th were about to march out
with a detachment, when a ball whistled among them: Captain Gordon fell
dead. Another ball was heard, and Lieutenant Revely was laid low. It now
became a matter of life and death: each officer, without any imputation
of selfishness, looking after his own safety. Among others, Ensign Elton
made for the bastion of the fort, jumped over the parapet, descended
into the ditch, clambered up the counterscarp on the other side, ran
across the country to the cantonment, and then followed the road which
many of the other officers had taken. Captain Tytler, Captain Nicoll,
and some others, went towards Kurnaul; Major Abbott, Captains Hawkey and
Wallace, Lieutenant Aislabie, Ensign Elton, and Farrier-sergeant Law,
took the Kurnaul road for some distance, and then struck off on the
right to Meerut, where they arrived at eight o’clock in the evening of
Tuesday the 12th—thirty-six hours after the mutineers from Meerut had
reached Delhi.

[Illustration:

  Escape from Delhi.
]

After stating that almost all the European inhabitants of Delhi had been
murdered, except those who had at once been able to effect their escape,
Major Abbott thus expressed the opinion which he formed during these two
days of terrible excitement, concerning the successive steps of the
mutiny at Delhi: ‘From all I could glean, there is not the slightest
doubt that this insurrection has been originated and matured in the
palace of the King of Delhi, with his full knowledge and sanction, in
the mad attempt to establish himself in the sovereignty of this country.
It is well known that he has called on the neighbouring states to
co-operate with him in thus trying to subvert the existing government.
The method he adopted appears to have been to gain the sympathy of the
38th light infantry, by spreading the lying reports now going through
the country, of the government having it in contemplation to upset their
religion, and have them all forcibly inducted to Christianity. The 38th,
by insidious and false arguments, quietly gained over the 54th and 74th
native infantry, each being unacquainted with the other’s real
sentiments. I am perfectly persuaded that the 54th and 74th were forced
to join the combination by threats that the 38th and 54th would
annihilate the 74th if they refused; or, _vice versâ_, that the 38th and
74th would annihilate the 54th. I am almost convinced that had the 38th
not been on guard at the Cashmere Gate, the results would have been very
different; the men of the 74th would have shot down every man who had
the temerity to assail the post.’ It may be that this officer, anxious
to lessen the dishonour of his own regiment, viewed somewhat too
partially the relative merits of the native troops; but it is
unquestionable that the 74th remained faithful much longer than the
38th. To what extent the King of Delhi was really implicated, neither
Major Abbott nor any other Englishman could at that time correctly tell.

It was not during the dire confusion of this terrible day that the
course of events in the streets and buildings of Delhi could be fully
known. The facts came to light one by one afterwards. When the 3d Bengal
troopers, who preceded the mutinous infantry in the march from Meerut,
arrived at the Jumna about seven in the morning, they killed the
toll-keeper of the bridge of boats, took the money found in his office,
and crossed the bridge. Arrived in Delhi, they hastened to the royal
palace, where they made some sort of announcement of their arrival and
its purport. Mr Simon Fraser, the commissioner for Delhi, Captain
Douglas, his assistant, and one or two other officials, hearing of this
movement, and seeing the approach of insurgent infantry on the other
side of the river, hastened to the palace to watch the conduct of the
royal personages at such a suspicious time. No sooner did they enter the
palace precincts, however, than they were shot down. Shortly afterwards,
the Rev. Mr Jennings, chaplain of the residency, was killed; as were
likewise his daughter and another lady near him—after, it is to be
feared, atrocities worse than death. It was seen that the insurgent
troopers were in a state of the greatest excitement and fury, as if they
had worked themselves up, by indulgence in the intoxicating _bang_, to a
level with their terrible plans. While the military operations, already
noticed, were going on at the Cashmere Gate, the magazine, and the
cantonment, all the ruffians of Delhi and the neighbouring villages,
eager for _loot_ or plunder, joined the insurgents. Every European
residence was searched: the troopers and sepoys seeking the lives of the
inmates; while the rabble followed, and swept off every shred of
property. Bungalows were fired one by one, until glaring sheets of flame
were visible in every direction. Bands of Goojurs—a kind of Hindoo gipsy
tribe—were lying in wait after nightfall all along the line of road
twenty miles out of Delhi, on the watch for refugees. It was a day of
jubilee for all the miscreants; they did not stay their hands when the
Europeans had been pillaged, but attacked the houses of all the Hindoo
bankers, carrying off great treasure. Some of the Europeans concealed
themselves for a time within the palace gardens—a vain refuge, for they
were all detected, tied to trees in a row, and shot or sabred by the
mutineers. Many of the troopers, during the savage scenes of these days,
pointed to the marks of manacles on their ankles; they were of the
eighty-five who had been put in irons at Meerut on the preceding
Saturday; and they now shewed how deep was the revenge which they
intended to take for that degrading punishment. The military officers
and their families were, from various causes, those whose fate became
more publicly known; but the number of civil servants, Christians of
humble grade, and half-castes, put to death, was very great. The
bank-clerks, with their wives and children, were murdered; and similar
scenes occurred at most of the public offices.

Mr Farrington, deputy-commissioner, when at Jullundur two or three weeks
afterwards, received a written account from a native of the occurrences
at Delhi during the days immediately following the Revolt—an account
considered worthy of credence. A part of this narrative comprised the
following sad tale: ‘On the third day they [the mutineers] went to a
house near the mosque where some Europeans had taken refuge. As they
were without water, &c., they called for a subadar and five others, and
asked them to take their oaths that they would give them water, and take
them alive to the king: he might kill them, if he liked. On this oath,
the Europeans came out: the mutineers placed water before them, and
said: “Lay down your arms, and then you get water.” They gave over two
guns, all they had. The mutineers gave no water. They seized eleven
children—among them infants—eight ladies, and eight gentlemen. They took
them to the cattle-sheds. One lady, who seemed more self-possessed than
the rest, observed that they were not taking them to the palace; they
replied they were taking them by the way of Duryagunge (one of the gates
on the river-side of the city). Deponent says that he saw all this, and
saw them placed in a row and shot. One woman entreated to give her child
water, though they might kill her. A sepoy took her child, and dashed it
on the ground. The people looked on in dismay, and feared for Delhi.’
The imagination can, too truly, alas! fill up the deficient incidents in
this tale of treachery. Mr Farrington deemed his informant worthy of
reliance. He said: ‘The man has been with me. He speaks frankly, and
without fear. He is able, evidently, to narrate many a harrowing tale;
but I did not wish to hear any. He seemed really to recall with dismay
what he had witnessed.’

The aged but wretched king of Delhi—wretched in having the hopes of
earlier years revived, only to be crushed again—for a time distrusted
the mutineers; he entertained misgivings that all might not end well.
The shops and bazaars were being plundered; the king was in the palace;
and some of those around him urged that order could be restored only by
his assumption of the imperial purple. After three or four days, he went
in a kind of state through the city, advising or commanding the people
to re-open their shops, and resume their former commercial
dealings—advice more easily given than acted upon; for the devastation
had been terrible, striking grief into the more peaceful portion of the
native inhabitants. The king assumed command in the city; he named Mirza
Mogul commander-in-chief, and gave the title of general of cavalry to
Mirza Abu Bukur; he collected around him eight or nine thousand
mutineers and volunteers, who were posted at the several gates of the
city, or cantoned in the Duryagunge Bazaar. Additional guns were placed
on the ramparts; and the native sappers and miners were placed in
command of the cannon in the old fort of Selimgurh. The Company’s
treasury, one of the largest in India, is said to have been respected by
the mutineers to this extent—that they did not appropriate it among
themselves as spoil, but guarded it as belonging to their newly chosen
leader, the King of Delhi. To shew how perplexed the Calcutta government
must have been at the first news of these events, it may be mentioned
that the king’s name was adverted to as that of a friend rather than an
enemy. On the 14th of May, three days after the arrival of the Meerut
mutineers at Delhi, Mr Colvin, lieutenant-governor of the Northwest
Provinces, telegraphed from Agra to the governor-general as follows: ‘We
have authentic intelligence in a letter from the king that the town and
fort of Delhi, _and his own person_, are in the hands of the insurgent
regiments of the place, which joined about one hundred of the troops
from Meerut and opened the gates.’ Judged by the ordinary rules of
probability, it would appear that the mutineers first secured the person
of the king, and then compelled him to head them: the old man being
further urged by the entreaties and threats of his intriguing sons and
grandsons. It is difficult, under any other supposition, to account for
his transmission of a message of information and warning to the chief
British authority in those regions. On the 15th Mr Colvin sent a further
telegraphic communication to Calcutta, containing this information: ‘The
rebels have declared the heir-apparent king. They are apparently
organising the plan of a regular government; they still remain in the
place. Their policy is supposed to be to annex the adjoining districts
to their newly formed kingdom. They are not likely, therefore, to
abandon the country or leave Delhi; they have probably strengthened
themselves there. They may have secured fifty lacs of rupees [half a
million sterling].’ No further mention was here made of the old man; it
was a younger relation who had been set up as king; and this younger
prince may possibly have been the one whom the Marquis of Dalhousie had
insisted should be the heir-apparent, with such prospective limitations
of authority as the Company might hereafter declare to be expedient. The
ordinary motives which influence men’s conduct would be quite strong
enough to induce this prince to avail himself of any accidental or
unexpected means of insuring the crown without the limitations here
adverted to. Ambition was almost the only sentiment not absolutely
degrading left to the pensioned, sensual, intriguing dwellers in the
palace.

The details of this chapter have hitherto been confined chiefly to the
course of events within the city—as collected from the dispatches of
military officers, the letters from commissioners and other civil
servants of the Company, and the published statements of Europeans who
survived the dangers of the day. But we now come to adventures which,
politically of less importance, touch more nearly the hearts and
sympathies of those who would know how Englishmen, and more particularly
Englishwomen, bore up against the accumulated miseries that pressed upon
them. We have to accompany the fugitives to the fields and jungles, the
ditches and rivers, the swampy marshes and scorching sandy roads; we
have to see how they contended against privation and trial—on their way
forty miles in one direction towards Meerut, or eighty miles in another
towards Kurnaul. Many of the narratives of the fugitives, afterwards
made public, supply details not furnished in any official dispatches;
while they illustrate many points worth knowing—among others, the
greater hostility of the Mohammedan than the Hindoo natives near Delhi,
and the indications of individual kindness in the midst of general
brutality. A selection from these narratives will suffice for the
present purpose, shortened and thrown into a different form so as to
throw light on each other, and on the general events of the day. In most
cases, the names of the fugitives, especially of ladies, will be
withheld, from a motive which a considerate reader will easily
appreciate. This scruple must not, however, be interpreted as affecting
the authenticity of the narratives, which was verified only too
abundantly by collateral evidence.

We select first a family of three fugitives to Kurnaul. The wife of an
officer of the 54th native regiment, in the forenoon of this eventful
Monday, hastened with her child to the Flagstaff Tower; where, in
accordance with the advice of the brigadier-commandant, many other
families had assembled. The gentlemen remained outside on guard; the
ladies assisted in loading the guns, and in other services towards the
common defence of all. Here they remained many hours, in all the horrors
of suspense; for the husbands and fathers of many were away, and their
fate unknown. At length came the news that the 38th had openly revolted;
that none of the native regiments at Delhi could now be depended upon;
and that the inmates of the tower ought to effect their escape as
speedily as possible. There had been one company of the 38th at the
Flagstaff Tower all day; and as the building was very strong, and armed
with two guns, the brigadier long deemed himself able to protect the
numerous persons there assembled; but as soon as the defection of the
main body of this regiment became known, all reliance on the smaller
corps was at an end. Such carriages and horses as could be obtained were
immediately put in requisition, and various parties hastened off, mostly
northward on the Kurnaul road. The small group whom we have here under
notice—namely, the officer with his wife and child, reached Kurnaul the
next day; but danger was all around, and the fugitives were forced to
continue their flight, as soon as they could obtain means of conveyance.
It is touching to read how ‘baby’ occupied the mother’s thoughts through
all this agitating escape. During a sojourn at a place called
Thwanessur, on the road between Kurnaul and Umballa, they stopped at the
assistant-commissioner’s house. ‘Before we had rested two hours we were
alarmed by being told that a regiment of sepoys was come to attack us;
we had to fly from the house and hide as best we could, under the
bushes, &c., in the garden; and I kept dear baby in my own arms the
whole time until morning.’ The alarm proved to be false, and the
fugitives proceeded. They arrived safely at Umballa on the morning of
Thursday the 14th, having left Delhi on Monday evening. That the brave
wife was ‘quite fatigued and worn out’ may well be conceived when she
adds, ‘for dear baby had never left me since we left Delhi.’

[Illustration:

  Delhi from Flagstaff Tower.
]

This adventure, however, was far exceeded in length, in privation, in
strange situations, in hair-breadth escapes, by one which befell a party
of four persons—an officer of the 38th regiment, an army surgeon, and
their two wives: all of whom, in the wilderness of confusion, sought the
Kurnaul route rather than that to Meerut. These ladies were among the
many who sought refuge in the Flagstaff Tower. There they had the pain
of witnessing the sufferings of poor Colonel Ripley, who, as already
narrated, had been bayoneted by men of his own regiment, and had been
brought thither for succour; they tended him as women only can tend the
sick; but their ministrations were of brief avail. After hours of
suspense, in which small hope was mingled with large despair, the
necessity for escape became obvious. A little bitterness is expressed,
in the narratives of some of the fugitives, concerning the delay in
making any preparations for the escape of the women and children; and a
few of the head officers are blamed for supineness; but those who suffer
are not always, at the time, the best judges of the cause of their
sufferings. When evening approached, many of the native coachmen drove
away the vehicles belonging to the Europeans, and appropriated them,
thus leaving the women and children in dreadful perplexity how to reach
Kurnaul or Meerut. The two Englishwomen whose narrative we now follow
were among the last of those who left the city, when evening was
approaching. They were in a buggy, but had been parted from their
husbands during the confusion of the arrangements for departure, and one
of them had lost her little child. They drove on, with no male
protector, across rugged fields, fearful of the high road: treated
sometimes respectfully by the natives, but at other times robbed and
vilely addressed. Even the velvet head-dress of one of them was torn
off, for the value of the bugles that adorned it. A jewel-box had been
brought away in haste, as the only treasure preserved; and it became
every hour more uncertain whether this would be a prey to the spoilers.
Returning to the high road, the ladies met some gunners with two guns;
and as the men told them certain death would be the result if they took
the road to Kurnaul, they drove in another direction to the Company’s
garden outside Delhi. Here, marauding was everywhere going on; the poor
ladies soon had the misery of seeing their carriage, horse, jewel-box,
and most of their outer clothing reft from them. In the dead of the
night they ventured to a neighbouring village. The surgeon, husband to
one of the ladies, here managed to join them; but being enfeebled by
previous sickness, and wounded in the jaw during the day’s exciting
troubles, he was powerless as a defender, and—far from being able to
succour others—needed succour himself. During the next fifteen hours
were these three persons hiding in fields and huts, befriended by a few
natives, and conscious that roving sepoys were near, ready for murder or
pillage. Sallying forth again on the evening of Tuesday, they were
speedily stopped by six men, who robbed them of a further portion of
their scanty apparel, and only stopped short of murder when the
officer’s wife pleaded for mercy, on the ground that she was searching
for her husband and her child, both of whom had gone she knew not
whither. The three fugitives walked all that night, the wounded surgeon
dragging himself along. In the morning they were again accosted, and
only escaped death by the ladies yielding up a further part of their
attire, the only property they had left to give. During the remainder of
that day they crept on, obtaining a little food and water from some
villagers, who were, however, too much afraid of the sepoys to afford
the fugitives the shelter of a roof; and it was terrible work indeed to
roam along the roads with a burning sun overhead and burning sand under
foot. They sat down by a well-side, and drank some water; but rude
fellows accosted them, and after insulting the hapless women, compelled
them to withdraw. They next encountered a party of irregular horse, who
had not yet joined the mutineers; the men were at first inclined to
befriend them; but fears of the consequences supervening, they soon
deserted the fugitives. Here were these two Englishwomen, gently
nurtured, and accustomed to all the amenities of good society, again
compelled to wander like miserable outcasts, helping along a male
companion whose under-jaw had been shattered, and who was otherwise in a
weak state. They crawled on during another night, and then reached a
village, which, as they saw it was Hindoo, they did not scruple to
enter. Kindness was accorded to them for one whole day; after which the
humane natives, timid lest the sepoys should burn their village if they
heard of Feringhees having been harboured, declared they could no longer
afford shelter. Once more, therefore, were the fugitives driven forth:
having seen renewed symptoms that the sepoys, or rather the marauding
ruffians, would not scruple to murder them, if opportunity offered. They
had now been five days wandering about, and yet were only ten miles
distant from Delhi: so completely had each day’s plans been frustrated
by the events of the next day. Again they entered a friendly village,
and again were they compelled soon to depart, after receiving simple but
kind assistance. No villagers, it was found, were free from dread at
having assisted a Feringhee. Once they hid for shelter under a bridge;
but an armed ruffian detected them, and behaved so unbearably towards
the women that the surgeon, who was a Roman Catholic, took a gold cross
from his bosom, and gave it as the price of their freedom from further
molestation: a wounded, shattered, sinking man, he could not offer them
a strong arm as a shield from insult. On the night of the 17th, at a
little more than twenty miles from Delhi, they were glad to obtain the
shelter of an outhouse containing twenty cows, the only roof that the
owner dared to offer them. They made an attempt to have a letter
forwarded to Kurnaul, praying for assistance; but none in those parts
could be depended upon for faithfulness beyond an hour or two: so much
was there of treachery on the one hand, and timidity on the other. On
the 18th they heard that Major Paterson, of the 54th regiment, was in
the same village as themselves; and he, powerless to succour, contrived
to send a short message to them, written with a burnt stick on a piece
of an old broken pan. Shortly afterwards they were greatly astonished,
and not a little delighted, to see an officer, the husband of one of the
ladies, enter the village; but more like a naked savage, blistered from
head to foot, than like an English gentleman.

An eventful tale had this officer to narrate. When the scenes of
violence on the 11th at Delhi had reached such a point that to remain
longer was to meet certain slaughter, he sent off his little boy with
friends towards Meerut, and saw his wife and her lady-companion start
for Kurnaul. After being robbed of his horse, and having three bullets
sent through his hat, and one through the skirt of his coat, he ran past
the blazing houses of the cantonment, and, being ill at the time, sank
down under a tree exhausted. A gang of ruffians found him, stripped him,
robbed him of everything, and endeavoured, Thug-like, to strangle
him—using, however, the sleeve of his own shirt instead of a silken
cord. Happily the choking was only partial; he recovered, staggered on a
mile or two, rested briefly in a hut, and then walked twelve miles to
Alipore in a broiling sun. He obtained a little water, a little bread,
and a few fragments of clothing, but was refused shelter. He wended his
painful way barefoot, keeping to ploughed fields as safer than the high
road, and reached a village where the headman gave him an asylum for
five days. During these days, however, he twice narrowly escaped death
from sepoys prowling about the village. On the sixth he received
information which led him to believe that his wife and her travelling
companions were within six or seven miles of him. He hastened on, with
swollen and blistered feet, wretched substitutes for raiment, and a
frame nearly worn out by sickness and anxiety; but a gleam of joy burst
upon him when at length he overtook the surgeon and the two wives,
though dismayed to see the plight to which they had been reduced. The
poor ladies he found to be, like himself, reft of everything they had in
the world except a few torn and toil-worn fragments of garments. The
surgeon had been less rudely stripped, simply because the clothes of a
wounded man were less acceptable to the spoliators. The fugitives, now
four in number, continued their journey, their feet pierced with thorns
and sharp stones, and the difficulty of carrying or dragging a wounded
man becoming greater and greater. The officer’s wife, having had no
head-covering for many days, felt the sun’s heat to be gradually
affecting her brain; she was thankful when a villager gave her a wet
cloth to bind round her temples. Matters now began to mend; the
villagers were less afraid of the Delhi sepoys; the vicinity of Kurnaul
exhibited less violence and marauding; horses and mules were obtained on
one day to take them to Lursowlie; and on the next a carriage was
provided for their conveyance to Kurnaul. How they got on from Kurnaul
to Umballa, and from Umballa to Simla, need not be told—the romance of
the incident was over when the three fugitives, two women and a wounded
man, were joined by a fourth; although much physical and mental
suffering had still to be endured. The little son of this lady, it was
afterwards found, had been carried by some friends safely to Meerut on
the 12th. The four fugitives, when they reached friendly quarters, were
poor indeed: no beggars could be more completely dependent on the
sympathy of those whom they now happily met.

Next we will follow the steps of some of those who chose Meerut rather
than Kurnaul as their place of refuge. Their adventures partake of a new
interest, because there was a broad and swift river to be crossed. A
young ensign of the 54th regiment, a stripling who had just commenced
military service under the Company, had a sad tale to tell, how the
European officers of his regiment had fallen almost to a man. He was in
the cantonment when the news arrived of the approach of the Meerut
mutineers; his regiment was ordered to hasten to the city; and he, like
other officers, was fain to hope that the men would remain true to their
colours. Leaving two companies to follow with two guns, the other eight
marched off to the city, distant, as has already been stated, about two
miles. Arriving at the mainguard of the Cashmere Gate, the regiment
encountered the mutinous 3d Bengal cavalry, who immediately shot down
nearly all the officers of the eight companies: the men of those
companies shewing, by a refusal to defend their officers, that they were
quite ready for revolt. The colonel, indeed, was bayoneted by one of his
own men after a trooper had shot him. In about half an hour the other
two companies arrived with the two guns; but as the few remaining
officers of the regiment knew not which of their men, if any, could be
depended on, they formed a kind of small fort or citadel of the
mainguard, into which they brought their few remaining companions one by
one. The poor youth, who had just commenced soldiering, and who had
never seen a dead body, was nearly overwhelmed with grief at the sight
of his brother-officers, with whom he had laughed and chatted a few
hours before, lying side by side dead and mutilated. The main body of
the regiment remained sullen, though not mutinous, until about five
o’clock in the evening; but then the spirit of evil seemed to seize
them, and they turned upon the Europeans near them, shooting
indiscriminately. The scene became agonising. Many women and children
had gone to the mainguard for security; and now they as well as the
officers found it necessary to flee for very life. Some ran, leaped,
clomb, until they got beyond the wall of the city; others waited to help
those who were weaker or of more tender years. Some of the ladies,
though wounded, lowered themselves by handkerchiefs into the ditch, from
embrasures in the parapet, and were caught by officers below; and then
ensued the terrible labour of dragging or carrying them up the
counterscarp on the other side of the ditch. (A ditch, in military
matters, be it remembered, is a dry, broad, very deep trench outside a
fortified wall, with nearly vertical sides, called the scarp and
counterscarp.) The young officer tells how that he and his male
companions would have made a dash towards Meerut, sword in hand, or have
sold their lives at once; but that their chief thoughts were now for the
women and children. What were the privations of such a company as this,
in fords and jungles, in hunger and nakedness, we shall presently see by
means of a narrative from another quarter.

It is an officer of the 38th who shall now tell his tale—how that his
own personal troubles, when alone, were slight compared with those which
he had afterwards to bear in company with other fugitive Europeans. This
officer states that, while the refugees were anxiously watching the
course of events at the Flagstaff Tower, they were momentarily expecting
aid from Meerut. They could not believe that Major-general Hewett would
have allowed the mutineers to march from Meerut to Delhi without either
making an attempt to intercept them, or following on their heels; and
their disappointment in this particular led to some of the unfavourable
comments made on that general’s line of conduct. The officer of the
38th, whose narrative is now under notice, shared the difficulty of all
the others in endeavouring to keep the men at their duty; and he speaks
of the terrible sight, more than once adverted to, which met his eye at
the mainguard inside the Cashmere Gate: ‘By the gate, side by side, and
covered by pretty ladies’ dresses taken from some house, as if in
mockery, lay the bodies of poor Captain Smith, Burrowes, Edwardes, and
Waterfield, and the quarter-master-sergeant; some lying calm as shot
dead, and others with an expression of pain, mutilated by bayonets and
swords.’ When all became hopeless within the city, and the brigadier had
given orders to retire, the officers made a show of bringing off their
regiments as well as their families; but it was only a show; for such of
the men as had remained faithful up to this time now fell away, and the
Europeans found themselves compelled to escape as best they could. The
officer hastened to the cantonment, disconsolate and helpless, but
having no immediate idea of escape. With the colonel of the same
regiment, however, he was urged to adopt that course, as the cantonment
itself was now in a blaze. The two ran off in the dead of the night
towards the river, crouching beneath trees when enemies seemed near;
they forded the Jumna Canal, slaking their parched lips as they waded or
swam; and they tore off the brighter parts of their glittering
accoutrements, to prevent betrayal. In the morning, faint and hungered,
they took refuge in a hut while a body of sepoys was searching around,
as if for victims. A few Hindoo peasants discovering them, told them
where they could hide in a tope of trees, and brought them chupatties
and milk. Being able to ford across a narrow branch of the Jumna soon
afterwards, they concealed themselves in the wild jungle; and there, to
their joy and surprise, they found others of their friends in the same
kind of concealment—joy damped, it is true, at the thought of educated
English men and women crouching among long jungle-grass like savages or
wild beasts. On counting numbers, they found they were thirteen, eight
gentlemen and five ladies and children; and as they had several guns and
swords among them, they took heart, and prepared to struggle against
further difficulties.

To bring up the two parallel threads of the story, the escapes of the
larger party, comprising the women and little ones, must now be told. In
the afternoon of the preceding day, after arrangements had been made for
conveying the ladies on gun-carriages from the city to the cantonment,
the natives who had been trusted with this duty turned faithless, and
the Europeans within the Cashmere Gate, finding themselves shot at,
sought to escape beyond the walls in any way they could. One after
another, women and children as well as men, leaped over into the ditch,
scrambled up the other side, and ran off towards the house of Sir T.
Metcalfe. One lady, the mother of three daughters who had to share in
the flight, was shot through the shoulder, yet still kept on. The native
servants—in the absence of their master, who afterwards had his own tale
to tell of jungle-life and narrow escapes—gave them a little food; but
just before the house was about being fired by the insurgents, the
fugitives left it, and succeeded in fording the narrow stream to the
spot mentioned above. When the thirteen had told their adventures, and
formed a plan, they started anew, and sought a spot where they could
ford the majestic Jumna. The officer must here tell the story of this
perilous fording: ‘Our hearts failed, and no wonder, where ladies were
concerned, as we looked at the broad swift river. It was getting dark,
too. Two natives went across. We watched them anxiously wade a
considerable portion of the river; then their heads alone appeared above
water. It was our only chance of life, and our brave ladies never
flinched. The water was so deep, that where a tall man would wade, a
short man would be drowned. I thought it was all over when, on reaching
the deep water with Mrs —— on my left arm, a native supporting her on
the other side, we were shot [drifted] down the river; however, by
desperate efforts and the assistance of another native, we reached the
bank in safety. I swam back once more for another of our party; and so
ultimately we all got safe over. It was a brave feat for our ladies to
do.’ But so it was throughout these terrific scenes: the heroism, the
patience, the long-suffering endurance of these gentlewomen, bore up to
the last; feebleness of frame was vanquished by nobility of spirit; and
the men were often kept in heart, though deeply pained, by the
uncomplaining perseverance of their gentle companions in misery. Our
fugitives passed a wretched night after this fording of the Jumna,
crouching in the jungle, with no sound ‘but the chattering of their
teeth.’ The next day threw them into the hands of a large band of
ruffians; and as the guns of the officers had been rendered useless by
wet, the consequence was direful: the whole party were stripped and
robbed, and then left without food, without clothing, without resource,
to wander whither they could. With naked feet, and skins blistering in
the sun, they toiled on. ‘How the ladies stood it,’ says the officer
whose narrative we are following, ‘is marvellous; they never murmured or
flinched, or distressed us by a show of terror.’ Fortunately, a fakeer,
in a Hindoo village, ventured to give them shelter; they remained three
days, obtaining a little food, but nothing more. A German zemindar or
landowner, who had been so long in India as to be hardly distinguishable
from a Hindoo, hearing of their plight, sent for them, gave them some
rough cloth to huddle on as substitutes for garments, and caused a
message to be sent to Meerut, which brought relief to them; and they
reached that town in seven days after leaving Delhi—worn out in mind and
body, haggard, lame, penniless, but thankful that their lives had been
spared.

Strange as these escapes and perils were, they were eclipsed in
individual daring and fertility of resource by one which remains to be
told, and which may form the last of this little group of painful
narratives. Mr Batson, surgeon of the 74th regiment, was unheard of
during so long a time after the events at Delhi on the fatal Monday that
he was given up for lost; but in a letter which he wrote to announce his
safety, he detailed such a series of adventures as appear to belong
rather to romance than to real life—Defoe-like, but entirely true
instead of fictitious. And here it may be again remarked that these
narratives must not be suspected of boastful exaggeration; there were
links which connected all the eventful stories into one chain—each
receiving corroborative strength from the others. Mr Batson states that
when it was found that the three regiments at Delhi refused to act
against the mutineers from Meerut, and that when such of the women and
children as could be collected were placed in the mainguard and the
Flagstaff Tower, he went to Brigadier Graves, volunteering to convey a
letter to Meerut, in hope of obtaining the aid of European troops. His
offer being accepted, he took leave of his wife and three daughters in
the Flagstaff Tower, went to his house, dressed himself like a native
fakeer or mendicant devotee, and coloured his face, hands, and feet. Off
he set on his perilous errand. He first tried to cross the Jumna by the
bridge of boats, but found it broken. Then he ran to the cantonment, and
endeavoured to cross by a ferry near that spot, but found the insurgent
cavalry and the neighbouring villagers plundering and marauding. Next he
hastened across the parade-ground, and, after escaping two or three
shots, was seized by some of the villagers and stripped of every bit of
his fakeer clothing. On he ran again, in his now truly forlorn state,
towards the Kurnaul road, hoping to overtake some of the officers who
were escaping by that route; but before he could do so, two of the
insurgent troopers intercepted him. Just as they were about to cut him
down with their drawn swords, his tact and knowledge saved him. Being
familiar both with the Hindostani language and with the Mohammedan
customs, he threw himself into a supplicating position, and uttered the
most exalted praises of the great Prophet of Islam: begging them to
spare his life for the sake of the Moslem. Had his assailants been
infantry sepoys, he would probably not have attempted this manœuvre, for
most of them were Hindoos; but knowing that the cavalry sowars were
chiefly Mohammedans, he made the venture. It succeeded. Whether they
knew him as a fugitive Englishman, is not certain; but they let him go,
saying: ‘Had you not asked for mercy in the name of the Prophet, you
should have died like the rest of the Kaffirs [infidels].’ After running
another mile—at once shivering with nakedness and burning with
excitement—he encountered some Mussulman villagers, who rushed upon him,
crying: ‘Here is a Feringhee; kill the Kaffir! You Feringhees want to
make us all Christians!’ They dragged him to a village, tied his hands
behind him, and sent one of their number to a house hard by to get a
sword, with which to despatch him. At this critical moment some
excitement—the nature of which Mr Batson could not understand—caused
them all to leave him, and he ran off again. He fortunately fell in with
some smiths who had been employed in the Delhi magazine, and who were
willing to save him; they urged him not to go forward, or the villagers
would certainly murder him. They took him to a hut, gave him an article
or two of apparel, and fed him with milk and bread. He tried to sleep,
but could not; he lay awake all night, restless and excited. In the
morning he bethought him of informing his protectors that he was a
physician, a doctor, a ‘medicine-man;’ and this proved to be an aid to
him; for the villagers, finding that he could answer questions relating
to maladies, and was familiar with their religion, language, and
customs, began to take much interest in the Feringhee doctor. He found
that two officers were in hiding at no great distance, but he could
reach neither of them. To get to Meerut in time to deliver his message
was of course now out of the question: all that Mr Batson could do was
to secure his own safety. More perils were in store for him. The
villagers of Badree were informed that if they harboured any Feringhees,
the now triumphant King of Delhi would direfully punish them; they
became alarmed, and hid him in a small mango tope. ‘Here,’ the surgeon
says, ‘I was left night and day alone. I was visited at night by some
one or other of the villagers, who brought me bread and water in a
ghurrah. I am unable to describe my feelings during this trying time. I
was all day in the sun, in the extreme heat, and alone at night, when
the jackals came prowling about and crying. It is only God and myself
know what I have endured. After five nights and days in this tope of
trees, I was again taken back to the village and concealed in a bhoosa
house. I was here shut in for twenty-four hours; the heat and
suffocation I cannot find language to describe. I do not know which was
the greatest misery, the tope of trees in solitude or the bhoosa
kotree.’ At length the villagers, afraid to keep him any longer,
dismissed him—enabling him to dress himself up again as a fakeer.
Tramping on from village to village, he acted his part so well as to
escape detection. He gave himself out as a Cashmerian; and although one
of the villagers suspected his European origin by his blue eyes, he did
not betray him. He observed from village to village—and the fact is
worthy of note in relation to the causes and details of the Revolt—that
the Mohammedans were much more savage than the Hindoos in their
expressions and threats against the Feringhees. The further he proceeded
from Delhi, the less did Mr Batson find himself involved in danger; and
he was fortunately picked up by Captain M^cAndrews and Lieutenant Mew of
his own regiment. He had been out no less than twenty-five days,
wandering from village to village, from tope to tope; suffering
privations which none but himself could know, and not even he adequately
describe. One great anxiety gnawed him the while—the fate of his family:
one great joy awaited him—his family escaped.

[Illustration:

  Elephant and State Howdah.
]

Here this chapter may close. We have seen that on the morning of Monday
the 11th of May, the European inhabitants of Delhi arose from their beds
in peace; and that by the close of the same day there was not a single
individual of the number whose portion was not death, flight, or
terrified concealment. So far as the British rule or influence was
concerned, it was at an end. The natives remained masters of the
situation; their white rulers were driven out; and a reconquest,
complete in all its details, could alone restore British rule in Delhi.
At what time, in what way, and by whom, that reconquest was effected,
will remain to be told in a later portion of this work. Much remains to
be narrated before Delhi will again come under notice.

-----

Footnote 8:

  _Quarterly Review_, No. 204.

Footnote 9:

  Rightly did the governor-general, when officially informed of this
  achievement, speak of ‘the noble and cool soldiership of the gallant
  defenders’ of the magazine: ‘The governor-general in council desires
  to offer his cordial thanks to Lieutenants Raynor and Forrest, and the
  other survivors among the brave men mentioned in this report, and to
  express the admiration with which he regards the daring and heroic
  conduct of Lieutenant G. D. Willoughby and the warrant and
  non-commissioned officers by whom he was supported on that occasion.
  Their names are Lieutenants Raynor and Forrest, Conductors Shaw,
  Buckley, Scully, Sub-conductor Crow, Sergeants Edwards and Stewart.
  The family of the late Conductor Scully, who so devotedly sacrificed
  himself in the explosion of the magazine, will be liberally provided
  for, should it be ascertained that they have survived him.’

[Illustration:

  LUCKNOW.
]



                              CHAPTER VI.
                     LUCKNOW AND THE COURT OF OUDE.


Another regal or once-regal family, another remnant of Moslem power in
India, now comes upon the scene—one which has added to the embarrassment
of the English authorities, by arraying against them the machinations of
deposed princes as well as the discontent of native troops; and by
shewing, as the King of Delhi had shewn in a neighbouring region, that a
pension to a sovereign deprived of his dominions is not always a
sufficient medicament to allay the irritation arising from the
deprivation. What and where is the kingdom of Oude; of what rank as an
Indian city is its capital, Lucknow; who were its rulers; why and when
the ruling authority was changed—these matters must be clearly
understood, as a preliminary to the narrative of Sir Henry Lawrence’s
proceedings about the time of the outbreak.

Oude, considered as a province of British India, and no longer as a
kingdom, is bounded on the north and northeast by the territory of
Nepaul; on the east by the district of Goruckpore; on the southeast by
those of Azimghur and Jounpoor; on the south by that of Allahabad; on
the southwest by the districts of the Doab; and on the northwest by
Shahjehanpoor. It is now about thrice the size of Wales; but before the
annexation, Oude as a kingdom included a larger area. On the Nepaul
side, a strip of jungle-country called the Terai, carries it to the base
of the sub-Himalaya range. This Terai is in part a wooded marsh, so
affected by a deadly malaria as to be scarcely habitable; while the
other part is an almost impassable forest of trees, underwood, and
reeds, infested by the elephant, the rhinoceros, the bear, the wild hog,
and other animals. Considered generally, however, Oude surpasses in
natural advantages almost every other part of India—having the Ganges
running along the whole of its southwest frontier, a varied and fertile
soil, a genial though hot climate, and numerous facilities for
irrigation and water-carriage. It cannot, however, be said that man has
duly aided nature in the development of these advantages; for the only
regularly made road in the whole province is that from Lucknow to
Cawnpore: the others being mostly wretched tracks, scarcely passable for
wheel-carriages. The railway schemes of the Company include a line
through Oude, which would be of incalculable benefit; but no definite
contract had been made at the time when the Revolt commenced; nor would
such a railway be profitable until the trunk-line is finished from
Calcutta to Benares and Allahabad. Although the Mohammedans have,
through many ages, held the ruling power in Oude, the Hindoos are
greatly more numerous; and nearly the whole of the inhabitants, five
millions in number, speak the Hindostani language; whereas those nearer
Calcutta speak Bengali. As shewing the kind of houses in which Europeans
occasionally sought concealment during the disturbances, the following
description of the ordinary dwelling-places of Oude may be useful. They
are generally built either of unburnt brick, or of layers of mud, each
about three feet in breadth and one foot high. The roofs are made of
square beams, placed a foot apart, and covered with planks laid
transversely; over these are mats, and a roofing of well-rammed wet clay
half a yard in thickness. The walls are carried to a height six or seven
feet above the upper surface of the roof, to afford a concealed place of
recreation for the females of the family; and during the rainy season
this small elevated court is covered with a slight awning of bamboos and
grass. Though so simply and cheaply constructed, these houses are very
durable. Around the house there is usually a verandah, covered with a
sloping tiled roof. Inside, the beams overhead are exposed to view,
without any ceiling. The floors are of earth, well beaten down and
smoothed, and partially covered with mats or cotton carpets. In the
front of the house is a chabootra or raised platform of earth, open to
the air at the sides, and provided with a roof of tiles or grass
supported on pillars. This platform is a pleasant spot on which
neighbours meet and chat in the cool of the evening. The dwellings of
the wealthy natives of course present an aspect of greater splendour;
while those of the Europeans, in the chief towns, partake of the
bungalow fashion, already described.

There are few towns of any distinction in Oude compared with the area of
the province; and of these few, only two will need to be mentioned in
the present chapter. As for the city whence the province originally
obtained its name—Oude, Oudh, or Ayodha—it has fallen from its
greatness. Prinsep, Buchanan, and other authorities, regard it as the
most ancient, or at any rate one of the most ancient, among the cities
of Hindostan. Some of the coins found in Oude are of such extreme
antiquity, that the characters in which their legends are graven are
totally unknown. Buchanan thinks that the city was built by the first
Brahmins who entered India, and he goes back to a date fourteen hundred
years before the Christian era for its foundation; while Tod and Wilford
claim for Oude an origin even six centuries earlier than that insisted
on by Buchanan. The value of such estimates may not be great; they
chiefly corroborate the belief that Oude is a _very_ ancient city. With
its eight thousand inhabitants, and its mud and thatch houses, the
grandeur of Oude lives in the past; and even this grandeur is in
antiquity rather than in splendour; for the ruins and fragments give a
somewhat mean idea of the very early Hindoo architecture to which they
belong. On the eastern side of the town are extensive ruins, said to be
those of the fort of Rama, king of Oude, celebrated in the mythological
and romantic legends of India. According to Buchanan: ‘The heaps of
bricks, although much seems to have been carried away by the river,
extend a great way—that is, more than a mile in length, and half a mile
in width—and, although vast quantities of materials have been removed to
build the Mohammedan Ayodha or Fyzabad, yet the ruins in many parts
retain a very considerable elevation; nor is there any reason to doubt
that the structure to which they belonged was very large, when we
consider that it has been ruined for above two thousand years.’ A spot
among the ruins is still pointed out by the reverential Hindoos from
which Rama took his flight to heaven, carrying all the people of the
city with him: a hypothetical emigration which had the effect of leaving
Oude desolate until a neighbouring king repopulated it, and embellished
it with three hundred and sixty temples. The existing buildings
connected with the Hindoo faith are four establishments kept up in
honour of the fabled monkey-god, the auxiliary of Rama; they have annual
revenues, settled on them by one of the rulers of Oude; they are managed
by _maliks_ or spiritual superiors; and the revenues are dispensed to
several hundreds of _bairagis_ or religious ascetics, and other lazy
Hindoo mendicants—no Mussulman being ever admitted within the walls.

Lucknow, however, is the city to which our attention will naturally be
most directed—Lucknow, as the modern capital of the kingdom or province;
as a city of considerable importance, political, military, commercial,
and architectural; and as a scene of some of the most memorable events
in the Revolt.

The city of Lucknow stands on the right bank of the river Goomtee, which
is navigable thence downwards to its confluence with the Ganges between
Benares and Ghazeepore. It is rather more than fifty miles distant from
Cawnpore, and about a hundred and thirty from Allahabad. As Cawnpore is
on the right bank of the Ganges, that majestic river intervenes between
the two towns. The Goomtee is crossed at Lucknow by a bridge of boats, a
bridge of substantial masonry, and an iron bridge—an unusual fulness of
transit-channels in an Indian city. Lucknow displays a varied, lively,
and even brilliant prospect, when viewed from a position elevated above
the level of the buildings; but, once in the streets, the traveller has
his dream of beauty speedily dissipated; for oriental filth and
abomination meet his eye on all sides. The central portion of the city,
the most ancient, is meanly built with mud-houses roofed with straw;
many of them are no better than booths of mats and bamboos, thatched
with leaves or palm-branches. The streets, besides being dirty, are
narrow and crooked, and are dismally sunk many feet below the level of
the shops. The narrow avenues are rendered still less passable by the
custom of employing elephants as beasts of burden: unwieldy animals
which almost entirely block up the way. In the part of the city occupied
by Europeans, however, and containing the best public buildings, many of
the streets are broad and lively. Until 1856, when Oude was annexed to
British India, Lucknow was, to a stranger, one of the most remarkable
cities of the east, in regard to its armed population. Almost every man
went armed through the streets. One had a matchlock, another a gun,
another a pistol; others their bent swords or _tulwars_; others their
brass-knobbed buffalo-hide shields. Men of business and idlers—among all
alike it was a custom to carry arms. The black beards of the Mussulmans,
and the fierce moustaches of the Rajpoots, added to the warlike effect
thus produced. Oude was the great storehouse for recruits for the
Company’s native army; and this naturally gave a martial bent to the
people. The Company, however, deemed it a wise precaution to disarm the
peaceful citizens at the time of the annexation.

Three or four structures in and near Lucknow require separate
description. One is the Shah Nujeef, or Emanbarra of Azof-u-Dowlah, a
model of fantastic but elegant Mohammedan architecture. English
travellers have poured out high praise upon it. Lord Valentia said:
‘From the brilliant white of the composition, and the minute delicacy of
the workmanship, an enthusiast might suppose that genii had been the
artificers;’ while Bishop Heber declared: ‘I have never seen an
architectural view which pleased me more, from its richness and variety,
as well as the proportions and general good taste of its principal
features.’ The structure consists of many large buildings surrounding
two open courts. There are three archways to connect the courts; and in
the centre of these is the tomb of the founder, watched by soldiers, and
attended by moullahs perpetually reading the Koran. This structure is
often called the king’s Emanbarra or Imaumbarah, a name given to the
buildings raised by that sect of Moslems called Sheahs, for the
celebration of the religious festival of the Mohurrum. Every family of
distinction has its own emanbarra, large or small, gorgeous or simple,
according to the wealth of its owner, who generally selects it as his
own burial-place. The central hall of the Shah Nujeef, the king’s
emanbarra, is of vast size and very magnificent; and the combination of
Moslem minarets with Hindoo-pointed domes renders the exterior
remarkably striking; nevertheless the splendour is diminished by the
poverty of the materials, which are chiefly brick coated with chunam or
clay cement. Near or connected with this building is the Roumee Durwaza
or Gate of the Sultan, having an arch in the Saracenic style. Another
public building is the mosque of Saadut Ali, one of the former nawabs of
Oude; its lofty dome presents a remarkable object as seen from various
parts of the city; and, being provided with terraces without and
galleries within, it is especially attractive to a sight-seer. Southeast
of the city, and near the river, is a fantastic mansion constructed by
Claude Martine, a French adventurer who rose to great wealth and power
at the late court of Lucknow. He called it Constantia, and adorned it
with various kinds of architectural eccentricities—minute stucco
fretwork, enormous lions with lamps instead of eyes, mandarins and
ladies with shaking heads, gods and goddesses of heathen mythology, and
other incongruities. The house is large, and solidly built of stone; and
on the topmost story is the tomb of Martine; but his body is deposited
in a sarcophagus in one of the lower apartments. The favourite residence
of the former nawabs and kings of Oude was the Dil Koosha or ‘Heart’s
Delight,’ a richly adorned palace two miles out of the city, and placed
in the middle of an extensive deer-park. When Colonel (afterwards
General Sir James) Outram was appointed British resident at the court of
Lucknow, about a year before the annexation, the Dil Koosha was set
apart for his reception; and the whole ceremonial illustrated at once
the show and glitter of oriental processions, and the honour paid to the
Englishman. As soon as the colonel arrived at Cawnpore from Calcutta,
the great officers of state were sent from Lucknow to prepare for his
reception. After crossing the Ganges, and thereby setting foot in the
Oude dominions, he entered a royal carriage replete with gold and
velvet; a procession was formed of carriages, cavalry, and artillery,
which followed the fifty miles of road to the capital. On the next day,
the king was to have met the colonel half-way between the city palace
and the Dil Koosha; but being ill, his place was taken by the
heir-apparent. The one procession met the other, and then both entered
Lucknow in state. A Lucknow correspondent of a Bombay journal said: ‘Let
the reader imagine a procession of more than three hundred elephants and
camels, caparisoned and decorated with all that barbaric pomp could
lavish, and Asiatic splendour shower down; with all the princes and
nobles of the kingdom blazing with jewels, gorgeous in apparel, with
footmen and horsemen in splendid liveries, swarming on all sides;
pennons and banners dancing in the sun’s rays, and a perfect forest of
gold and silver sticks, spears, and other insignia of imperial and royal
state.’

A work of remarkable character has appeared, relating to Lucknow and the
court of Oude. It is called the _Private Life of an Eastern King_, and
has been edited from the notes of an Englishman who held a position in
the household of the king of Oude, Nussir-u-Deen, in 1834 and following
years.[10] Though the name of the author does not appear, the work is
generally accepted as being trustworthy, so many corroborations of its
statements having appeared in other quarters. Speaking of the king’s
palace within the city, this writer says: ‘The great extent of the
buildings, generally called the king’s palace, surprised me in the first
instance. It is not properly a palace, but a continuation of palaces,
stretching all along the banks of the Goomtee, the river on which
Lucknow is built. In this, however, the royal residence in Oude but
resembles what one reads of the Seraglio at Constantinople, the khan’s
residence at Teheran, and the imperial buildings of Pekin. In all
oriental states, the palaces are not so much the abode of the sovereign
only, as the centre of the government: little towns, in fact, containing
extensive lines of buildings occupied by the harem and its vast number
of attendants; containing courts, gardens, tanks, fountains, and
squares, as well as the offices of the chief ministers of state. Such is
the case in Lucknow. One side of the narrow Goomtee—a river not much
broader than a middle-sized London street—is lined by the royal palace;
the other is occupied by the _rumna_ or park, in which the menagerie is
(or was) maintained.... There is nothing grand or striking about the
exterior of the palace, the Fureed Buksh, as it is called. Its extent is
the only imposing feature about it; and this struck me more forcibly
than any magnificence or loftiness of structure would have done.’

These few topographical and descriptive details concerning Oude and its
two capitals, the former and the present, will prepare us to enter upon
a subject touching immediately the present narrative: namely, the
relations existing between the East India Company and the Oudians, and
the causes which have generated disaffection in the late royal family of
that country. It will be needful to shew by what steps Oude, once a
Hindoo _kingdom_, became under the Mogul dynasty a Mohammedan
_nawabship_, then a _nawab-viziership_, then under British protection a
Mohammedan _kingdom_, and lastly an Anglo-Indian _province_.

Whether or not historians are correct in asserting that Oude was an
independent Hindoo sovereignty fourteen hundred years before the
Christian era, and that then, for an indefinite number of centuries, it
was a Hindoo dependency of a prince whose chief seat of authority was at
Oojein—it seems to be admitted that Bakhtiar Khilzi, towards the close
of the twelfth century, was sent to conquer the country for the
Mohammedan sovereign at that time paramount in the north of India; and
that Oude became at once an integral part of the realm of the emperor of
Delhi. Under the powerful Baber, Oude was a lieutenancy or nawabship:
the ruler having sovereign power within his dominions, but being at the
same time a vassal of the Great Mogul. This state of things continued
until about a century ago, when the weakening of the central power at
Delhi tempted an ambitious nawab of Oude to throw off the trammels of
dependency, and exercise royalty on his own account. At that time the
Mohammedan rulers of many states in Northern India were troubled by the
inroads of the fierce warlike Mahrattas; and although the nawabs cared
little for their liege lord the emperor, they deemed it expedient to
join their forces against the common enemy. One result of this struggle
was, that the nawab of Oude was named ‘perpetual’ nawab—the first
loosening of the imperial chain. The nawab-vizier, as he was now called,
never afterwards paid much allegiance to the sovereign of Delhi: nay,
the effete Mogul, in 1764, asked the British to defend him from his
ambitious and disobedient neighbour. This assistance was so effectively
given, that in the next year the nawab-vizier was forced to sue humbly
for peace, and to give up some of his possessions as the price of it.
One among many stipulations of the East India Company, in reference to
the military forces allowed to be maintained by native princes, was made
in 1768, when the nawab-vizier was limited to an army of 35,000 troops;
namely, 10,000 cavalry, 10,000 sepoys or infantry, 5000 matchlockmen,
500 artillery, and 9500 irregulars. In 1773, Warren Hastings had become
so completely involved in the perplexities of Indian politics, and made
treaties so unscrupulously if he could thereby advance the interests of
the Company—that Company which he served with a zeal worthy of a better
cause—that he plotted with the nawab-vizier against the poor decrepit
Mogul: the nawab to obtain much additional power and territory, and the
British to obtain large sums of money for assisting him. When the next
nawab-vizier, Azof-u-Dowlah, assumed power in Oude in 1775, he hastened
to strengthen himself by an alliance with the now powerful British; he
gave up to them some territory; they agreed to protect him, and to
provide a certain contingent of troops, for which he was to pay an
annual sum. This was the complicated way in which the Company gained a
footing in so many Indian provinces and kingdoms. It was in 1782 that
that shameful proceeding took place, which—though Warren Hastings
obtained an acquittal concerning it at his celebrated trial in the House
of Lords—has indubitably left a stain upon his name; namely, the
spoliation of two begums or princesses of Oude, and the cruel
punishment, almost amounting to torture, of some of their dependents.
The alleged cause was an arrear in the payment of the annual sum due
from the nawab. Even if the debt were really due, the mode of extorting
the money, and the selection of the persons from whom it was extorted,
can never be reconciled to the principles of even-handed justice. The
truth may be compressed into a short sentence—the Company being terribly
in want of money to carry on a war against Hyder Ali, the
governor-general determined to obtain a supply from some or other of the
native princes in Northern India; and those natives being often
faithless, he did not hesitate to become faithless to them. During the
remainder of the century, the Company increased more and more its
‘protection’ of the nawab-vizier, and received larger and larger sums in
payment for that protection. Azof-u-Dowlah was succeeded in 1797 by
Vizier Ali, and he in 1798 by Saadut Ali.

We come now to the present century. In 1801, the Marquis Wellesley
placed the relations with Oude on a new footing: he relinquished a claim
to any further subsidy from the nawab-vizier, but obtained instead the
rich districts of Allahabad, Azimghur, Goruckpore, and the Southern
Doab, estimated to yield an annual revenue of nearly a million and a
half sterling. Oude was larger than England before this date; but the
marquis took nearly half of it by this transaction. Matters remained
without much change till 1814, when Saadut Ali was succeeded by
Ghazee-u-Deen Hyder. During the war between the British and the
Nepaulese, soon afterwards, the nawab-vizier of Oude lent the Company
two millions sterling, and received in return the Terai or
jungle-country between Oude and Nepaul. A curious system of exchanges,
this; for after receiving rich districts instead of money, the Company
received money in return for a poor district inhabited chiefly by wild
beasts. In 1819, the Company allowed Ghazee-u-Deen Hyder to renounce the
vassal-title of nawab-vizier, which was a mockery as connected with the
suzerainty of the now powerless Emperor of Delhi, and to become _King_
of Oude—a king, however, with a greater king at his elbow in the person
of the British resident at the court of Lucknow. The Company again
became a borrower from Ghazee, during the Mahratta and Burmese wars. In
1827, the throne of Oude was ascended by Nussir-u-Deen Hyder—an aspirant
to the throne who was favoured in his pretensions by the Company, and
who was, as a consequence, in bitter animosity with most of his
relations during the ten years of his reign. Complicated monetary
arrangements were frequently made with the Company, the nature and
purport of which are not always clearly traceable; but they generally
had the effect of increasing the power of the Company in Oude. On the
death of Nussir, in 1837, a violent struggle took place for the throne.
He, like other eastern princes, had a large number of sons; but the
Company would not acknowledge the legitimacy of any one of them; and the
succession therefore fell upon Mahomed Ali Shah, uncle to the deceased
sovereign. The begum or chief wife of Nussir fomented a rebellion to
overturn this arrangement; and it cost Colonel (afterwards General) Low,
resident at Lucknow, much trouble to preserve peace among the wrangling
members of the royal family.

Now approaches the arrangement which led to the change of rulers. Oude
had been most miserably governed during many years. The king and his
relations, his courtiers and his dependents, grasped for money as a
substitute for the political power which they once possessed; and in the
obtainment of this money they scrupled at no atrocities against the
natives. The court, too, was steeped in debaucheries of the most
licentious kind, outraging the decencies of life, and squandering wealth
on the minions who ministered to its pleasures. The more thoughtful and
large-hearted among the Company’s superior servants saw here what they
had so often seen elsewhere: that when the Company virtually took
possession of a native state, and pensioned off the chief and his
family, a moral deterioration followed; he was not allowed to exercise
real sovereignty; he became more intensely selfish, because he had
nothing to be proud of, even if he wished to govern well; and he took
refuge in the only oriental substitute—sensual enjoyment. When Mahomed
Ali Shah died in 1842, and his son, Umjud Ali Shah, was sanctioned by
the Company as king, a pledge was exacted and a threat foreshadowed: the
pledge was, that such reforms should be made by the king as would
contribute to the tranquillity and just government of the country; the
threat was, that if he did _not_ do this, the sovereignty would be put
an end to, and the Company would take the government into its own hands.
In 1847, Umjud Ali Shah was succeeded by his son, Wajid Ali Shah: a king
who equalled or surpassed his predecessors in weakness and profligacy,
and under whom the state of matters went from bad to worse. The Marquis
of Dalhousie was governor-general when matters arrived at a crisis.
There can be no question that the Company, whatever may be said about
aggressive views, wished to see the millions of Oude well and happily
governed; and it is equally unquestionable that this wish had not been
gratified. The engagement with Umjud Ali Shah had assumed this form: ‘It
is hereby provided that the King of Oude will take into his immediate
and earnest consideration, in concert with the British resident, the
best means of remedying the existing defects in the police, and in the
judicial and revenue administration of his dominions; and that if his
majesty should neglect to attend to the advice and counsel of the
British government or its local representative, and if (which God
forbid!) gross and systematic oppression, anarchy, and misrule, should
hereafter at any time prevail within the Oude dominions, such as
seriously to endanger the public tranquillity, the British government
reserves to itself the right of appointing its own officers to the
management of whatsoever portion of the Oude territory, either to a
small or great extent, in which such misrule as that above alluded to
may have occurred, for so long a period as it may deem necessary.’ The
marquis, finding that thirteen years had presented no improvement in the
internal government of Oude, resolved to adopt decisive measures. He
drew up a treaty, whereby the administration of the territory of Oude
was to be transferred to the British government: ample provision being
made for the dignity, affluence, and honour of the king and his family.
The king refused to sign the treaty, not admitting the allegations or
suppositions on which it was based; whereupon the marquis, acting with
the sanction of the Company and of the imperial government in London,
announced all existing treaties to be null and void, and issued a
proclamation declaring that the government of the territories of Oude
was henceforth vested exclusively and for ever in the East India
Company. The governor-general in his minute, it will be remembered,
spoke of this transfer of power in the following brief terms: ‘The
kingdom of Oude has been assumed in perpetual government by the
Honourable East India Company; in pursuance of a policy which has so
recently been under the consideration of the Honourable Court, that I
deem it unnecessary to refer to it more particularly here.’

Everything tends to shew that the king violently opposed this loss of
his regal title and power. When the governor-general and the resident at
Lucknow waited on him with the draft of the proposed treaty, towards the
close of 1855, he not only refused to sign it, but announced his
intention to proceed to England, with a view of obtaining justice from
Queen Victoria against the Company. This the marquis would not prevent;
but he intimated that the king must travel, and be treated by the
Company’s servants, as a _private individual_, if he adopted this step.
The stipend for the royal family was fixed by the Company—of course
without the consent of the king and his relations—at £120,000 per annum.
The reasons for putting an end to the title of King of Oude were thus
stated, in a document addressed by the directors of the East India
Company to the governor-general of India in council, many months after
the transfer of power had been effected, and only a short time before
the commencement of the Revolt: ‘Half a century ago, our new and
critical position among the Mohammedans of Northwestern India compelled
us to respect the titular dignity of the Kings of Delhi. But the
experiences of that half-century have abundantly demonstrated the
inconveniences of suffering an empty nominal sovereignty to descend from
generation to generation; and the continuance of such a phantom of power
must be productive of inconvenience to our government, and we believe of
more mortification than gratification to the royal pensioners
themselves. It fosters humiliating recollections; it engenders delusive
hopes; it is the fruitful source of intrigues that end in disappointment
and disgrace. The evil is not limited to the effect produced upon the
members of the royal house: prone to intrigue themselves, they become
also a centre for the intrigues of others. It is natural, also, that the
younger members of such a family should feel a greater repugnance than
they otherwise would to mix with the community and become industrious
and useful subjects. Strongly impressed with these convictions, we
therefore observe with satisfaction that no pledge or promise of any
kind with regard to the recognition by our government of the kingly
title after the death of the present titular sovereign, Wajid Ali Shah,
has been made to him or to his heirs.’ The reasoning in this declaration
is probably sound; but it does not apply, and was not intended to apply,
to the original aggressive movements of the Company. Because the shadow
of sovereignty is not worth retaining without the substance, it does not
necessarily follow that the Company was right in taking the substance
fifty-five years earlier: that proceeding must be attacked or defended
on its own special ground, by any one who wishes to enter the arena of
Indian politics.

It appears from this document, that four of the British authorities at
Calcutta—the Marquis of Dalhousie, General Anson, Mr Dorin, and Mr
Grant—had concurred in opinion that, as the king refused to sign the
treaty, he should, as a punishment, be denied many of the privileges
promised by that treaty. They proposed that the annual stipend of twelve
lacs of rupees (£120,000) should be ‘reserved for consideration’ after
the demise of the king—that is, that it should not necessarily be a
perpetual hereditary stipend. To this, however, Colonel Low, who had
been British resident at Lucknow, very earnestly objected. He urged that
the king’s sons were so young, that they could not, in any degree, be
blamed for his conduct in not signing the proposed treaty; that they
ought not to be made to lose their inheritance through the father’s
fault; that the father, the king, would in any case be pretty severely
punished for his obstinacy; and that it would not be worthy of a great
paramount state, coming into possession of a rich territory, to refuse a
liberal stipend to the descendants of the king. These representations
were listened to, and a pension to the amount already named was granted
to the king and his heirs—‘not heirs according to Mohammedan usages, but
only those persons who may be direct male descendants of the present
king, born in lawful wedlock.’ A difficult duty was left to the Calcutta
government, to decide how many existing persons had a claim to be
supported out of the pension, seeing that an eastern king’s family is
generally one of great magnitude; and that, although he has many wives
and many children, they fill various ranks in relation to legitimacy.
The Company proposed, if the king liked the plan, that one-third of the
pension should be commuted into a capital sum, with which jaghires or
estates might be bought, and vested in the family for the use of the
various members—making them, in fact, zemindars or landed proprietors,
having something to do instead of leading lives of utter idleness. In
what light the directors viewed the large and important army of Oude,
will be noticed presently; but in reference to the transfer of
mastership itself, they said: ‘An expanse of territory embracing an area
of nearly twenty-five thousand square miles, and containing five million
of inhabitants, has passed from its native prince to the Queen of
England without the expenditure of a drop of blood, and almost without a
murmur. The peaceable manner in which this great change has been
accomplished, and the tranquillity which has since prevailed in all
parts of the country, are circumstances which could not fail to excite
in us the liveliest emotions of thankfulness and pleasure.’ This was
written, be it remembered—and the fact is full of instruction touching
the miscalculations of the Company—less than two months before the
cartridge troubles began, and while the mysterious chupatties were
actually in circulation from hand to hand.

The deposed King of Oude did not go to England, as he had threatened; he
went to Calcutta, and took up his abode, in April 1856, at Garden Reach,
in the outskirts of that city, attended by his late prime minister, Ali
Nuckee Khan, and by several followers. The queen, however, achieved the
adventurous journey to the British capital, taking with her a numerous
retinue. This princess was not, in accordance with European usages, the
real Queen of Oude; she was rather a sort of queen-dowager, the king’s
mother, and was accompanied by the king’s brother and the king’s son—the
one claiming to be heir-presumptive, the other heir-apparent. All felt a
very lively interest in the maintenance of the regal power and revenues
among the members of the family, and came to England in the hope of
obtaining a reversal of the governor-general’s decree. They left Lucknow
in the spring of 1856, and arrived in England in August. An attempt was
made by an injudicious agent to enlist public sympathy for them by an
open-air harangue at Southampton. He bade his hearers picture to
themselves the suppliant for justice, ‘an aged queen, brought up in all
the pomp and luxury of the East, the soles of whose feet were scarcely
allowed to tread the ground, laying aside the prejudices of travel, and
undertaking a journey of some ten thousand miles, to appeal to the
people of England for justice;’ and the ‘fellow-countrymen’ were then
exhorted to give ‘three cheers’ for the royal family of Oude—which they
undoubtedly did, in accordance with the usual custom of an English
assemblage when so exhorted; but this momentary excitement soon ceased,
and the oriental visitors settled in London for a lengthened residence.
What official interviews or correspondence took place concerning the
affairs of Oude, was not publicly known; but there was an evident
disinclination on the part both of the government and the two Houses of
parliament to hold out any hopes of a reversal of the policy adopted by
the East India Company; and the ex-royal family of Oude maintained no
hold on the public mind, except so far as the turbaned and robed
domestics attracted the attention of metropolitan sight-seers. In what
fashion these suppliants disowned and ignored the Revolt in India, a
future chapter will shew.

The reader will, then, picture to himself the state of Oude at the
period when the Revolt commenced. The deposed king was at Calcutta; his
mother and other relations were in London; while the whole governing
power was in the hands of the Company’s servants. Sir Henry Lawrence, a
man in whom sagacity, energy, and nobleness of heart were remarkably
combined, had succeeded Sir James Outram as resident, or rather
chief-commissioner, and now held supreme sway at Lucknow.

It is important here to know in what light the East India Company
regarded the native army of Oude, at and soon after the annexation. In
the directors’ minute, of December 1856, just on the eve of disturbances
which were quite unexpected by them, the subject was thus touched upon:
‘The probable temper of the army, a force computed on paper at some
60,000 men of all arms, on the announcement of a measure which threw a
large proportion of them out of employment, and transferred the
remainder to a new master, was naturally a source of some anxiety to us.
In your scheme for the future government and administration of the Oude
provinces, drawn up on the 4th of February, you proposed the
organisation of an Oude irregular force, into which you suggested the
absorption of as large a number of the disbanded soldiers of the king as
could be employed in such a corps, whilst others were to be provided for
in the military and district police; but you observed at the same time
that these arrangements would not absorb one-half of the disbanded
troops. To the remainder you determined to grant pensions and
gratuities, graduated according to length of service. There were no
better means than these of palliating a difficulty which could not be
avoided. But only partial success was to be expected from so partial a
measure. As a further precaution, the chief-commissioner deemed it
expedient to promise pensions of one hundred rupees per month to the
commandants of the regiments of the late king, some sixty in number,
conditional on their lending their cordial co-operation to the
government in this crisis, and provided that their regiments remained
quiet and loyal. We recognise the force of the chief-commissioner’s
argument in support of these grants; and are willing to adopt his
suggestion that, in the event of any of these men accepting office as
tuhseeldars or other functionaries under our government, the amount of
their pensions should still be paid to them.’ It was found that the King
of Oude had allowed the pay of his soldiers to run into arrear. On this
point the directors said: ‘The army, a large number of whom are
necessarily thrown out of employment, and who cannot immediately find,
even if the habits of their past lives fitted them for, industrial
occupations, are peculiarly entitled to liberal consideration. It is
doubtless true that, as stated by the chief-commissioner, the soldiery
of Oude have “fattened on rapine and plunder;” and it is certain that
the servants of the Oude government enriched themselves at the expense
of the people. But this was only part of the system under which they
lived; nothing better, indeed, was to be expected from men whose pay,
after it had been tardily extracted from the treasury, was liable to be
withheld from them by a fraudulent minister. Whatever may have been the
past excesses and the illicit gains of the soldiers, it was the duty of
the British government in this conjuncture to investigate their claims
to the arrears of regular pay alleged to be due to them by the Oude
government, and, having satisfied ourselves of the justice of these
claims, to discharge the liabilities in full. We observe with
satisfaction that this has been done.... We concur, moreover, in the
very judicious remark made by Viscount Canning, in his minute of the 5th
of March, “that a few lacs[11] spent in closing the account, without
injustice, and even liberality, will be well repaid if we can thereby
smooth down discontent and escape disturbance.”’

The plan adopted, therefore, was to disband the army of the deposed
king, pay up the arrears due by him to the soldiers, re-enlist some of
the discharged men to form a new Oude force in the Company’s service,
and give pensions or gratuities to the remainder.

We are now in a condition to follow the course of events at Lucknow
during the months of April and May 1857: events less mutinous and
tragical than those at Meerut and Delhi, but important for their
consequences in later months.

It was in the early part of April that the incident occurred at Lucknow
concerning a medicine-bottle, briefly adverted to in a former chapter:
shewing the existence of an unusually morbid feeling on the subjects of
religion and caste. Dr Wells having been seen to taste some medicine
which he was about to administer to a sick soldier, to test its quality,
the Hindoos near at hand refused to partake of it, lest the taint of a
Christian mouth should degrade their caste. They complained to Colonel
Palmer, of the 48th native regiment, who, as he believed and hoped,
adopted a conciliatory course that removed all objection. This hope was
not realised, however; for on that same night the doctor’s bungalow was
fired and destroyed by some of the sepoys, whom no efforts could
identify. Very soon afterwards, nearly all the huts of the 13th regiment
were burned down, under similarly mysterious circumstances.

Sir Henry Lawrence’s difficulties began with the vexatious
cartridge-question, as was the case in so many other parts of India.
Towards the close of April, Captain Watson found that many of the
recruits or younger men in his regiment, the 7th Oude infantry, evinced
a reluctance to bite the cartridges. Through some oversight, the new
method of tearing instead of biting had not been shewn to the sepoys at
Lucknow; and there was therefore sufficient reason for adopting a
conciliatory course in explaining the matter to them. The morbid feeling
still, however, remained. On the 1st of May, recusancy was again
exhibited, followed by an imprisonment of some of the recruits in the
quarter-guard. The native officers of the regiment came forward to
assure Captain Watson that this disobedience was confined to the
‘youngsters,’ and that the older sepoys discountenanced it. He believed
them, or seemed to do so. On the 2d he addressed the men, pointing out
the folly of the conduct attributed to the young recruits, and exhorting
them to behave more like true soldiers. Though listened to respectfully,
he observed so much sullenness and doggedness among the troops, that he
brought the matter under the notice of his superior officer, Brigadier
Grey. The native officers, when put to the test, declined taking any
steps to enforce obedience; they declared their lives to be in danger
from the men under them, should they do so. The brigadier, accompanied
by Captains Watson and Barlow, at once went to the lines, had the men
drawn up in regular order, and put the question to each company singly,
whether it was willing to use the same cartridges _which had all along
been employed_. They refused. The brigadier left them to arrange plans
for the morrow; placing them, however, under safe guard for the night.
On the morning of the 3d, the grenadier company (picked or most skilful
company) of the regiment went through the lines, threatening to kill
some of the European officers; and soon afterwards the tumult became so
serious, that the fulfilment of the threat seemed imminent. By much
entreaty, the officers, European and native, allayed in some degree the
excitement of the men. While this was going on, however, at the post or
station of Moosa Bagh, a messenger was sent by the intriguers of the 7th
regiment to the cantonment at Murreeoun, with a letter inciting the 48th
native infantry to join them in mutiny. This letter was fortunately
brought, by a subadar true to his duty, to Colonel Palmer, the
commandant. Prompt measures were at once resolved upon. A considerable
force—consisting of the 7th Oude cavalry, the 4th Oude infantry,
portions of the 48th and 71st Bengal infantry, a portion of the 7th
Bengal cavalry, a wing of her Majesty’s 32d, and a field-battery of
guns—was sent from the cantonment to the place where the recusants were
posted. The mutineers stood firm for some time; but when they saw cannon
pointed at them, some turned and fled with great rapidity, while others
quietly gave up their arms. The cavalry pursued and brought back some of
the fugitives. The 7th Oude irregular infantry regiment, about a
thousand strong, was thus suddenly broken into three fragments—one
escaped, one captured, and one disarmed. A letter from the Rev. Mr
Polehampton, chaplain to the English residents at Lucknow, affords one
among many proofs that Sunday was a favourite day for such outbreaks in
India—perhaps purposely so selected by the rebellious sepoys. The 3d of
May was Sunday: the chaplain was performing evening-service at the
church. ‘Towards the end of the prayers, a servant came into church, and
spoke first to Major Reid, of the 48th; and then to Mr Dashwood, of the
same regiment. They both went out, and afterwards others were called
away. The ladies began to look very uncomfortable; one or two went out
of church; one or two others crossed over the aisle to friends who were
sitting on the other side; so that altogether I had not a very attentive
congregation.’ When it was found that the officers had been called out
to join the force against the mutineers, the chaplain ‘felt very much
inclined to ride down to see what was going on; but as the Moosa Bagh is
seven miles from our house, and as I should have left my wife all alone,
I stayed where I was. I thought of what William III. said when he was
told that the Bishop of Derry had been shot at the ford at the Battle of
the Boyne, “What took him there?”’

The course of proceeding adopted by Sir Henry Lawrence on this occasion
was quite of an oriental character, as if suggested by one who well knew
the Indian mind. He held a grand military durbar, to reward the faithful
as well as to awe the mutinous. In the first instance he had said that
the government would be advised to disband the regiment, with a
provision for re-enlisting those who had not joined the rebels; but
pending the receipt of instructions from Calcutta, he held his durbar
(court; levee; hall of audience). Four native soldiers—a havildar-major,
a subadar, and a sepoy of the 48th regiment, and a sepoy of the 13th—who
had proved themselves faithful in an hour of danger, were to be
rewarded. The lawn in front of the residency was carpeted, and chairs
were arranged on three sides of a square for some of the native officers
and sepoys; while a large verandah was filled with European officials,
civil and military, upwards of twenty in number. Sir Henry opened the
proceedings with an address in the Hindostani language, full of point
and vigour. After a gorgeous description of the power and wealth of the
British nation—overwrought, perhaps, for an English ear, but well suited
to the occasion—he adverted to the freedom of conscience in British
India on matters of religion: ‘Those amongst you who have perused the
records of the past must well know that Alumghir in former times, and
Hyder Ali in later days, forcibly converted thousands and thousands of
Hindoos, desecrated their fanes, demolished their temples, and carried
ruthless devastation amongst the household gods. Come to our times; many
here present well know that Runjeet Singh never permitted his Mohammedan
subjects to call the pious to prayer—never allowed the Afghan to sound
from the lofty minarets which adorn Lahore, and which remain to this day
a monument to their munificent founders. The year before last a Hindoo
could not have dared to build a temple in Lucknow. All this is changed.
Who is there that would dare _now_ to interfere with our Hindoo or
Mohammedan subjects?’ He contrasted this intolerance of Mohammedan and
Hindoo rulers in matters of religion with the known scruples of the
British government; and told his hearers that the future would be like
the present, in so far as concerns the freedom of all religions over the
whole of India. He rebuked and spurned the reports which had been
circulated among the natives, touching meditated insult to their faith
or their castes. He adverted to the gallant achievements of the
Company’s native troops during a hundred years of British rule; and told
how it pained him to think that disbandment of such troops had been
found necessary at Barrackpore and Berhampore. And then he presented the
bright side of his picture: ‘Now turn to these good and faithful
soldiers—Subadar Sewak Tewaree, Havildar Heera Lall Doobey, and Sipahi
Ranura Doobey, of the 48th native infantry, and to Hossein Buksh, of the
13th regiment—who have set to you all a good example. The first three at
once arrested the bearer of a seditious letter, and brought the whole
circumstance to the notice of superior authority. You know well what the
consequences were, and what has befallen the 7th Oude irregular
infantry, more than fifty of whose sirdars and soldiers are now in
confinement, and the whole regiment awaits the decision of government as
to its fate. Look at Hossein Buksh of the 13th, fine fellow as he is! Is
he not a good and faithful soldier? Did he not seize three villains who
are now in confinement and awaiting their doom. It is to reward such
fidelity, such acts and deeds as I have mentioned, and of which you are
all well aware, that I have called you all together this day—to assure
you that those who are faithful and true to their salt will always be
amply rewarded and well cared for; that the great government which we
all serve is prompt to reward, swift to punish, vigilant and eager to
protect its faithful subjects; but firm, determined, resolute to crush
all who may have the temerity to rouse its vengeance.’ After a further
exhortation to fidelity, a further declaration of the power and
determination of the government to deal severely with all disobedient
troops, Sir Henry arrived at the climax of his impassioned and vigorous
address: ‘Advance, Subadar Sewak Tewaree—come forward, havildar and
sepoys—and receive these splendid gifts from the government which is
proud to number you amongst its soldiers. Accept these honorary sabres;
you have won them well: long may you live to wear them in honour! Take
these sums of money for your families and relatives; wear these robes of
honour at your homes and your festivals; and may the bright example
which you have so conspicuously set, find, as it doubtless will,
followers in every regiment and company in the army.’ To the subadar and
the havildar-major were presented each, a handsomely decorated sword, a
pair of elegant shawls, a choogah or cloak, and four pieces of
embroidered cloth; to the other two men, each, a decorated sword, a
turban, pieces of cloth, and three hundred rupees in cash. Hossein Buksh
was also made a naik or corporal.

Let not the reader judge this address and these proceedings by an
English standard. Sir Henry Lawrence knew well what he was doing; for
few of the Company’s servants ever had a deeper insight into the native
character than that eminent man. There had been, in the Company’s
general system, too little punishment for misconduct, too little reward
for faithfulness, among the native troops: knowing this, he adopted a
different policy, so far as he was empowered to do.

When the news of the Lucknow disturbance reached Calcutta, a course was
adopted reminding us of the large amount of written correspondence
involved in the mode of managing public affairs. The governor-general,
it may here be explained, was assisted by a supreme council, consisting
of four persons, himself making a fifth; and the council was aided by
four secretaries, for the home, the foreign, the military, and the
financial affairs of India. All these officials were expected to make
their inquiries, communicate their answers, state their opinions, and
notify their acts in writing, for the information of the Court of
Directors and the Board of Control in London; and this is one reason why
parliamentary papers touching Indian affairs are often so voluminous. At
the period in question, Viscount Canning, Mr Dorin, General Low, Mr
Grant, and Mr Peacock, were the five members of council, each and all of
whom prepared ‘minutes’ declaratory of their opinions whether Sir Henry
Lawrence had done right or wrong in threatening to disband the mutinous
7th regiment. The viscount wished to support the chief-commissioner at
once, in a bold method of dealing with the disaffected. Mr Dorin went
further. He said: ‘My theory is that no corps mutinies that is well
commanded;’ he wished that some censure should be passed on the English
officers of the 7th, and that the men of that regiment should receive
more severe treatment than mere disbanding. General Low advocated a
course midway between the other two; but at the same time deemed it
right to inquire how it happened that the men had been required to bite
the cartridges; seeing that instructions had already been issued from
head-quarters that the platoon exercises should be conducted without
this necessity. Mr Grant’s minute was very long; he wanted more time,
more reports, more examinations, and was startled at the promptness with
which Lawrence had proposed to act. Mr Peacock also wanted further
information before deciding on the plan proposed by the ruling authority
at Oude. The governor-general’s minute was written on the 9th; the other
four commented on it on the 10th; the governor-general replied to their
comments on the 11th; and they commented on his reply on the 12th. Thus
it arose that the tedious system of written minutes greatly retarded the
progress of business at Calcutta.

There cannot be a better opportunity than the present for adverting to
the extraordinary services rendered by the electric telegraph in India
during the early stages of the Revolt, when the mutineers had not yet
carried to any great extent their plan of cutting the wires. We have
just had occasion to describe the routine formalities in the mode of
conducting business at Calcutta; but it would be quite indefensible to
withhold admiration from the electro-telegraphic system established by
the East India Company. This matter was touched upon in the
Introduction; and the middle of May furnished wonderful illustrations of
the value of the lightning-messenger. Let us fix our attention on two
days only—the 16th and 17th of May—less than one week after the
commencement of violent scenes at Meerut and Delhi. Let us picture to
ourselves Viscount Canning at Calcutta, examining every possible scheme
for sending up reinforcements to the disturbed districts; Sir John
Lawrence at Lahore, keeping the warlike population of the Punjaub in
order by his mingled energy and tact; Sir Henry Lawrence at Lucknow,
surrounded by Oudians, whom it required all his skill to baffle; Mr
Colvin at Agra, watching with an anxious eye the state of affairs in the
Northwest Provinces; General Anson at Simla, preparing, as
commander-in-chief, to hasten down to the Delhi district; Lord
Elphinstone at Bombay, as governor of that presidency; and Lord Harris,
filling an analogous office at Madras. Bearing in mind these persons and
places, let us see what was done by the electric telegraph on those two
busy days—deriving our information from the voluminous but ill-arranged
parliamentary papers on the affairs of India: papers almost useless
without repeated perusals and collations.

First, then, the 16th of May. Sir Henry Lawrence sent one of his pithy,
terse telegrams[12] from Lucknow to Calcutta, to this effect: ‘All is
quiet here, but affairs are critical; get every European you can from
China, Ceylon, and elsewhere; also all the Goorkhas from the hills. Time
is precious.’ On the same day he sent another: ‘Give me plenary military
power in Oude; I will not use it unnecessarily. I am sending two troops
of cavalry to Allahabad. Send a company of Europeans into the fort
there. It will be good to raise regiments of irregular horse, under good
officers.’ In the reverse direction—from Calcutta to Lucknow—this
message was sent: ‘It appears that the regiment of Ferozpore [Sikhs] has
already marched to Allahabad, and that, under present circumstances, no
part of that regiment can be spared.’ And another, in like manner
answering a telegram of the same day: ‘You have full military powers.
The governor-general will support you in everything you think necessary.
It is impossible to send a European company to Allahabad; Dinapoor must
not be weakened by a single man. If you can raise any irregulars that
you can trust, do so at once. Have you any good officers to spare for
the duty?’ All this, be it remembered was telegraphed to and from two
cities six or seven hundred miles apart. On the same day, questions were
asked, instructions requested, and information given, between Calcutta,
on the one hand, and Agra, Gwalior, Meerut, Cawnpore, and Benares on the
other. Passing thence to Bombay—twelve hundred miles from Calcutta by
road, and very much more by telegraph-route—we find the two governors
conversing through the wires concerning the English troops which had
just been fighting in Persia, and those about being sent to China; all
of whom were regarded with a longing eye by the governor-general at that
critical time. Viscount Canning telegraphed to Lord Elphinstone on the
16th: ‘Two of the three European regiments which are returning from
Persia are urgently wanted in Bengal. If they are sent from Bombay to
Kurachee, will they find conveyance up the Indus? Are they coming from
Bushire in steam or sailing transports? Let me know immediately whether
General Ashburnham is going to Madras.’ The general here named was to
have commanded the troops destined for China. The replies and
counter-replies to this on the 17th, we will mention presently. Lord
Harris, on this same day of activity, sent the brief telegram: ‘The
Madras Fusiliers will be sent immediately by _Zenobia_; but she is
hardly fit to take a whole regiment.’ This was in reply to a request
transmitted shortly before.

[Illustration:

  SIR HENRY LAWRENCE.
]

[Illustration:

  Residency at Lucknow.
]

Next, the 17th of May. Sir Henry Lawrence telegraphed from Lucknow: ‘You
are quite right to keep Allahabad safe. We shall do without Sikhs or
Goorkhas. We have concentrated the troops as much as possible, so as to
protect the treasury and magazine, and keep up a communication. A false
alarm last night.’ He sent another, detailing what he had done in
managing the turbulent 7th regiment. In the reverse direction, a message
was sent to him, that ‘The artillery invalids at Chunar, about 109 in
number, have been ordered to proceed to Allahabad immediately.’ The
telegrams were still more numerous than on the 16th, between the various
towns mentioned in the last paragraph, in Northern India. From Bombay,
Lord Elphinstone telegraphed to ask whether an extra mail-steamer should
be sent off to Suez with news for England; and added: ‘The 64th will
arrive in a few days from Bushire; their destination is Bengal; but we
can keep them here available, or send them round to Calcutta if you wish
it.’ To which the governor-general replied from Calcutta, still on the
same day, expressing his wishes about the mail, and adding: ‘If you can
send the 64th to Calcutta by steam, do so without any delay. If steam is
not available, I will wait for an answer to my last message before
deciding that they shall come round in sailing-vessels. Let me know when
you expect the other European regiments and the artillery, and what
steam-vessels will be available for their conveyance. Have you at
present a steam-vessel that could go to Galle to bring troops from there
to Calcutta? This must not interfere with the despatch of the 64th.’
Another, from Lord Elphinstone, on the very same day, announced that the
best of the Indus boats were in Persia; that it would be impossible to
send up three European regiments from Kurachee to the Punjaub, within
any reasonable time, by the Indus boats then available; that he
nevertheless intended to send one regiment, the 1st Europeans, by that
route; and that the 2d Europeans were daily expected from Persia. He
further said: ‘Shall I send them round to Calcutta; and shall I send the
78th also? General Ashburnham leaves this to-day by the steamer for
Galle, where he expects to meet Lord Elgin; he is not going to Madras.’
While this was going on between Calcutta and Bombay, Madras was not
idle. The governor-general telegraphed to Lord Harris, to inform him of
the mutiny, on the previous day, of the Sappers and Miners who went from
Roorkee to Meerut; and another on the same day, replying to a previous
telegram, said: ‘If the _Zenobia_ cannot bring all the Fusiliers, the
remainder might be sent in the _Bentinck_, which will be at Madras on
the 26th; but send as many in the _Zenobia_ as she will safely hold. Let
me know when the _Zenobia_ sails, and what force she brings.’ If we had
selected three days instead of two, as illustrating the wonders of the
electric telegraph, we should have had to narrate that on the third day,
the 18th of May, Lord Harris announced that the Fusiliers would leave
Madras that evening; that Viscount Canning thanked him for his great
promptness; that Lord Elphinstone received instructions to send one of
the three regiments up the Indus, and the other two round to Calcutta;
that he asked and received suggestions about managing a Beloochee
regiment at Kurachee; and that messages in great number were transmitted
to and from Calcutta, Benares, Allahabad, Cawnpore, Lucknow, Agra, and
other large towns.

The imagination becomes almost bewildered at contemplating such things.
Between the morning of the 16th of May and the evening of the 17th, the
great officers of the Company, situated almost at the extreme points of
the Indian empire—east, west, north, and south—were conversing through
four thousand miles of wire, making requests, soliciting advice,
offering services, discussing difficulties, weighing probabilities,
concerting plans; and all with a precision much greater than if they had
been writing letters to one another, in ordinary official form, in
adjoining rooms of the same building. It was, perhaps, the greatest
triumph ever achieved up to that time by the greatest of modern
inventions—the electric telegraph.

We shall find the present part of the chapter an equally convenient
place in which to notice a series of operations strikingly opposed to
those just described—slow travelling as compared with quick telegraphy.
It is full of instruction to see how earnestly anxious Viscount Canning
was to send troops up to the northern provinces; and how he was baffled
by the tardiness of all travelling appliances in India. The railway was
opened only from Calcutta to Raneegunge, a very small portion of the
distance to the disturbed districts. The history of the peregrinations
of a few English troops in May will illustrate, and will receive
illustration from, the matters treated in Chapter I.

The European 84th regiment, it will be remembered, had been hastily
brought from Rangoon in the month of March, to assist in disbanding the
sepoys who had shewn disaffection at Barrackpore and Berhampore. When
the troubles began at Meerut and Delhi, in May, it was resolved to send
on this regiment; and the governor-general found no part of his onerous
duties more difficult than that of obtaining _quick_ transmission for
those troops. On the 21st of May he telegraphed to Benares: ‘Pray
instruct the commissariat officer to prepare cooking-pots and other
arrangements for the 84th regiment, now on its way to Benares; and the
barrack department to have cots ready for them.’ On the 23d, Sir Henry
Lawrence asked: ‘When may her Majesty’s 84th be expected at Cawnpore?’
to which an answer was sent on the following day: ‘It is impossible to
convey a wing of Europeans to Cawnpore (about six hundred and thirty
miles) in less time than twenty-five days. The government dâk and the
dâk companies are fully engaged in carrying a company of the 84th to
Benares, at the rate of 18 men a day. A wing of the Madras Fusiliers
arrived yesterday, and starts to-day; part by bullock-train, part by
steamer. The bullock-train can take 100 men per day, at the rate of
thirty miles a day. The entire regiment of the Fusiliers, about 900
strong, cannot be collected at Benares in less than 19 or 20 days. About
150 men who go by steam will scarcely be there so soon. I expect, that
from this time forward troops will be pushed upwards at the rate of 100
men a day from Calcutta; each batch taking ten days to reach Benares;
from Benares they will be distributed as most required. The regiments
from Pegu, Bombay, and Ceylon will be sent up in this way. Every bullock
and horse that is to be had, except just enough to carry the post, is
retained; and no troops will be sent by steam which can be sent more
quickly by other means.’ These details shew that Cawnpore and Benares
were both asking for troops at the same time; and that the
governor-general, even if he possessed the soldiers, had not the means
of sending them expeditiously. On the 24th, a message was sent to
Raneegunge, ordering that a company of Madras troops might be well
attended to, when they arrived by railway from Calcutta; and on the next
day, Benares received notice to prepare for four companies proceeding
thither by bullock-train, one company per day. The Benares commissioner
announced the arrival of _fifteen_ English soldiers, as if that were a
number to be proud of, and stated that he would send them on to
Cawnpore. (It will be seen, on reference to a map, that Benares lies in
the route to almost all the upper and western provinces, whether by road
or by river.) The Raneegunge agent telegraphed on the 26th: ‘If the men
reach Sheergotty, there is no difficulty in conveying them to Benares;
the only difficulty is between Raneegunge and Sheergotty. _Ekahs_ are
not, I think, adapted for Europeans; nor do I think that time would be
gained.’ An ekah or ecka, we may here remark, is a light pony-gig on two
wheels, provided with a cloth cushion on which the rider (usually a
native) sits cross-legged. It shews the nature of Indian travelling, to
find the officials discussing whether English soldiers should be thus
conveyed—one cushioned vehicle to convey each cross-legged soldier. At
Benares, the commissioner borrowed from the rajah the use of a house in
which to lodge the English troops as fast as they came; and he sent them
on by dâk to Allahabad and Cawnpore. Nevertheless Sir Henry Lawrence,
disturbed by ominous symptoms, wished for ekahs, dâks—anything that
would give him English soldiers. He telegraphed on this day: ‘I strongly
advise that as many ekah-dâks be laid as possible, from Raneegunge to
Cawnpore, to bring up European troops. _Spare no expense_;’ and on the
next day he received the reply: ‘Every horse and carriage, bullock and
cart, which could be brought upon the road, has been collected, and no
means of increasing the number will be neglected.’ On the 27th it was
announced from Benares that ‘the steamer had stuck,’ and that all the
land-dâks were being used that could possibly be procured. On the same
day the Allahabad commissioner spoke hopefully of his plan that—by the
aid of 1600 siege-train bullocks from that place, 600 from Cawnpore, the
government bullocks, the private wagon-trains, and magazine carts—he
might be able to send 160 Europeans per day up to Cawnpore. On the 28th,
the Calcutta authorities sent a telegram to Benares, to announce that
‘Up to the 1st of June seven dâk-carriages will be despatched daily,
with one officer and 18 soldiers. On the 1st of June, and daily
afterwards, there will be despatched nine dâk-carriages, with one
officer and 24 Europeans; and 28 bullock-carts, with one officer, 90
Europeans, a few followers, and provisions to fill one cart. The
Calcutta steamer and flat, with four officers, 134 Europeans, and
proportion of followers; and the coal-steamer, with about the same
numbers, will reach Benares on the 10th or 11th of June.’ From this it
will be seen that a ‘dâk-carriage’ conveyed three soldiers, and a
‘bullock-cart’ also three, the ‘followers’ probably accompanying them on
foot. The Benares commissioner on the same day said: ‘Happily we have
good metalled roads all over this division’—thereby implying what would
have been the result if the roads were _not_ good. The use of bullocks
was more particularly adverted to in a telegram of the 30th of May:
‘Gun-bullocks would be most useful between Raneegunge and the Sone, if
they could be sent from Calcutta in time; if there are carts, the daily
dispatches can be increased; not otherwise. Gun-bullocks would save a
day, as they travel quicker than our little animals.’ Immediately
afterwards, forty-six elephants were sent from Patna, and one hundred
from Dacca and Barrackpore, to Sheergotty, to assist in the transport of
troops. On a later occasion, when more troops had arrived from England,
Viscount Canning sent two steamers from Calcutta to Pegu, to bring over
cargoes of elephants, to be used as draught-animals!

Thus it continued, day after day—all the servants of the Company, civil
and military, calculating how long it would take to send driblets of
soldiers up the country; and all harassed by this dilemma—that what the
Ganges steamers gained in roominess, they lost by the sinuosities of the
river; and that what the dâks and bullock-trains gained by a direct
route, they lost by the inevitable slowness of such modes of conveyance,
and the smallness of the number of soldiers that could be carried at a
time. Thankful that they possessed telegraphs, the authorities had
little to be thankful for as concerned railways or roads, vehicles or
horses.

We now return to the proceedings of Sir Henry Lawrence at Lucknow.

Before the collective minutes of the five members of the Supreme Council
were fully settled, he had acted on the emergency which gave rise to
them. He held a court of inquiry; the result of which was that two
subadars, a jemadar, and forty-four sepoys of the mutinous 7th were
committed to prison; but he resolved not at present to disband the
regiment. His grand durbar has been already described. In the middle of
the month, as just shewn, he sent many brief telegrams indicating that,
though no mutinies had occurred at Lucknow, there was nevertheless need
for watchfulness. He had asked for the aid of some Sikhs, but said, on
the 18th: ‘As there is difficulty, do not send the Sikhs to Lucknow.’ On
the next day, his message was: ‘All very well in city, cantonment, and
country;’ but after this, the elements of mischief seemed to be
gathering, although Lawrence prepared to meet all contingencies
resolutely. ‘All quiet,’ he said on the 21st, ‘but several reports of
intended attacks on us.’ He was, however, more solicitous about the fate
of Cawnpore, Allahabad, and Benares, than of Lucknow.

The military position of Sir Henry towards the last week in May was
this. He had armed four posts for his defence at Lucknow. In one were
four hundred men and twenty guns; in another, a hundred Europeans and as
many sepoys; in another was the chief store of powder, well under
command. A hundred and thirty Europeans, two hundred sepoys, and six
guns, guarded the treasury; the guns near the residency being under
European control. The old magazine was denuded of its former contents,
as a precautionary measure. Six guns, and two squadrons of the 2d Oude
irregular cavalry, were at the Dâk bungalow, half-way between the
residency and the cantonment. In the cantonment were three hundred and
forty men of her Majesty’s 32d, with six European guns, and six more of
the Oude light field-battery. By the 23d of the month, nearly all the
stores were moved from the old magazine to one of the strongholds, where
thirty guns and one hundred Europeans were in position, and where ten
days’ supplies for five hundred men were stored. On the 29th, Lawrence’s
telegram told of ‘great uneasiness at Lucknow. Disturbances threatened
outside. Tranquillity cannot be much longer maintained unless Delhi be
speedily captured.’ The residency, a place rendered so memorable by
subsequent events, must be here noticed. The cantonment was six miles
from the city, and the residency was itself isolated from the rest of
Lucknow. The Rev. Mr Polehampton, describing in his letter the
occurrences about the middle of May, said: ‘The sick have been brought
to the residency; so have the women; and the residency is garrisoned by
130 men of the 32d, and by the battery of native artillery. All the
ladies, wives of civilians, who live in different parts of the city,
have come into the residency. By the residency, I mean a piece of ground
a good deal elevated above the rest of the city, allotted by the King of
Oude, when he first put himself under British “protection” some fifty
years ago, to the British civil residents. It is walled round almost
entirely; on one side native houses abut upon it, but on the other three
sides it is tolerably clear. Roads without gates in some places connect
it with the city; but it is not at all a bad place to make a
stand—certainly the best in Lucknow, to which it is a sort of acropolis.
The residency contains the chief-commissioner’s house, Mr Gubbins’s, Mr
Ommaney’s, Foyne’s, the post-office, city hospital, electric-telegraph
office, church, etc.’ The ever-memorable defence made by a little band
of English heroes in this ‘acropolis’ of Lucknow, will call for our
attention in due time. Mr Polehampton spoke of the gravity with which
Sir Henry Lawrence regarded the state of public affairs; and of the
caution which led him to post _one_ English soldier at every gun, to
watch the native artillerymen. The chaplain had means of knowing with
what assiduity crafty lying men tried to gain over the still faithful
sepoys to mutiny. ‘Another most absurd story they have got hold of,
which came out in the examination of some of the mutineers before Sir
Henry Lawrence. They say that in consequence of the Crimean war there
are a great many widows in England, and that these are to be brought out
and married to the Rajahs in Oude; and that their children, brought up
as Christians, are to inherit all the estates! The natives are like
babies—they will believe anything.’—Babies in belief, perhaps; but
fiends in cruelty when excited.

The last two days of May were days of agitation at Lucknow. Many of the
native troops broke out in open mutiny. They consisted of half of the
48th regiment, about half of the 71st, some few of the 13th, and two
troops of the 7th cavalry—all of whom fled towards Seetapoor, a town
nearly due north of Lucknow. Lawrence, with two companies of her
Majesty’s 32d, three hundred horse, and four guns, went in pursuit; but
the horse, Oude native cavalry, evinced no zeal; and he was vexed to
find that he could only get within round-shot of the mutineers. He took
thirty prisoners—a very inadequate result of the pursuit. Many
disaffected still remained in Lucknow; four bungalows were burned, and a
few English officers shot. The city was quiet, but the cantonment was in
a disturbed state. In his last telegrams for the month, the
chief-commissioner, who was also chief military authority, used these
words: ‘It is difficult to say who are loyal; but it is believed the
majority are so; only twenty-five of the 7th cavalry proved false;’ and
he further said: ‘The faithful remnants of three infantry regiments and
7th cavalry, about seven hundred men, are encamped close to the
detachment of two hundred of her Majesty’s 32d and four European guns.’
Even then he did not feel much uneasiness concerning the city and
cantonment of Lucknow: it was towards other places, Cawnpore especially,
that his apprehensive glance was directed.

What were the occurrences at Lucknow, and in other towns of the
territory of Oude, in June, will be better understood when the progress
of the Revolt in other places during May has been narrated.

[Illustration:

  Ekah, or Officer’s Travelling Wagon.
]

-----

Footnote 10:

  By Mr Knighton, author of _Forest Life in Ceylon_.

Footnote 11:

  Lacs or lakhs of rupees: a lac being 100,000, value about £10,000.

Footnote 12:

  The word _telegram_, denoting a message sent, as distinguished from
  the _telegraph_ which sends it, has been a subject of much discussion
  among Greek scholars, concerning the validity of the grammatical basis
  on which it is formed; but as the new term is convenient for its
  brevity and expressiveness, and as it has been much used by the
  governor-general and the various officers connected with India, it
  will occasionally be employed in this work.

[Illustration:

  General View of CALCUTTA from Fort William.
]



                              CHAPTER VII.
                     SPREAD OF DISAFFECTION IN MAY.


The narrative has now arrived at a stage when some kind of
classification of times and places becomes necessary. There were special
reasons why Delhi and Lucknow should receive separate attention,
connected as those two cities are with deposed native sovereigns chafed
by their deposition; but other cities and towns now await notice, spread
over many thousand square miles of territory, placed in various
relations to the British government, involved in various degrees in
mutinous proceedings, and differing much in the periods at which the
hostile demonstrations were made. Two modes of treatment naturally
suggest themselves. The towns might be treated topographically,
beginning at Calcutta, and working westward towards the Indus; this
would be convenient for reference to maps, but would separate
contemporaneous events too far asunder. Or the occurrences might be
treated chronologically, beginning from the Meerut outbreak, and
advancing, as in a diary, day by day throughout the whole series; this
would facilitate reference to dates, but would ignore local connection
and mutual action. It may be possible, however, to combine so much of
the two methods as will retain their advantages and avoid their defects;
there may be groups of days and groups of places; and these groups may
be so treated as to mark the relations both of sequence and of
simultaneity, of causes and of co-operation. In the present chapter, a
rapid glance will be taken over a wide-spread region, to shew in what
way and to what degree disaffection spread during the month of May. This
will prepare us for the terrible episode at one particular
spot—Cawnpore.

To begin, then, with Bengal—the fertile and populous region between the
Anglo-Indian city of Calcutta and the sacred Hindoo city of Benares; the
region watered by the lower course of the majestic Ganges; the region
inhabited by the patient, plodding, timid Bengalee, the type from which
Europeans have generally derived their idea of the Hindoo: forgetting,
or not knowing, that Delhi and Agra, Cawnpore and Lucknow, exhibit the
Hindoo character under a more warlike aspect, and are marked also by a
difference of language. A fact already mentioned must be constantly
borne in mind—that few Bengalees are (or were) in the Bengal army: a
population of forty millions furnished a very small ratio of fighting
men.

Although not a scene of murder and atrocity during the Revolt, Calcutta
requires a few words of notice here: to shew the relation existing
between the native and the European population, and the importance of
the city as the head-quarters of British India, the supreme seat of
legislation and justice, the residence of the governor-general, the last
great city on the course down the Ganges, and the port where more trade
is conducted than in all others in India combined.

Calcutta stands on the left bank of the Hoogly, one of the numerous
streams by which the Ganges finds an outlet into the sea. There are no
less than fourteen of these streams deep enough for the largest craft
used in inland navigation, but so narrow and crooked that the rigging of
vessels often becomes entangled in the branches of the trees growing on
the banks. The delta formed by these mouths of the Ganges, called the
Sunderbunds, is nearly as large as Wales; it is little else than a
cluster of low, marshy, irreclaimable islands, very unhealthy to the few
natives living there, and left almost wholly to tigers, wild buffaloes,
wild boars, and other animals which swarm there in great numbers. The
Hoogly is one of the few really navigable mouths of the Ganges; and by
this channel Calcutta has free access by shipping to the sea, which is
about a hundred miles distant. The city, extending along the river four
or five miles, covers an area of about eight square miles. A curved line
nearly bounds it on the land-side, formed by the Mahratta ditch, a
defence-work about a century old. Beyond the ditch, and a fine avenue
called the Circular Road, the environs are studded with numerous suburbs
or villages which may be considered as belonging to the city: among
these are Nundenbagh, Bahar-Simla, Sealdah, Entally, Ballygunge,
Bhowaneepore, Allipore, Kidderpore, Seebpore, Howrah, and Sulkea. The
three last are on the opposite or west bank of the river, and contain
the dock-yards, the ship-building establishments, the railway station,
the government salt-warehouses, and numerous extensive manufactories.
The approach to the city from the sea presents a succession of
attractive features. First, a series of elegant mansions at a bend in
the river called Garden Reach, with lawns descending to the water’s
edge; then the anchorage for the Calcutta and Suez mail-steamers; then
the dock-yards; next the canal junction, the arsenal and Fort William.
Above these is the Chowringhee, once a suburb, but now almost as closely
built as Calcutta itself, containing the Esplanade, the Town Hall, the
Government House, and many European residences. ‘Viewed from Garden
Reach,’ says Mr Stocqueler, ‘the _coup d’œil_ is one of various and
enchanting beauty. Houses like palaces are studding the bank on the
proper left of the river, and a verdure like that of an eternal summer
renovates the eye, so long accustomed to the glitter of the ocean. Anon,
on _your_ left, appears the semi-Gothic Bishop’s College; and in front
of you, every moment growing more distinct, are beheld a forest of
stately masts, a noble and beautiful fortress, a thousand small boats,
of shapes new and undreamed of by the visitant, skimming over the
stream; the larger vessels of the country, pleasant to look upon even
for their strange dis-symmetry and consequent unwieldiness; the green
barge or budgerow, lying idly for hire; and the airy little bauleahs,
with their light venetianed rooms.’ All this relates to the portion of
the city lying south or seaward of the Chandpaul Ghat, the principal
landing-place. Northward of this stretches a noble strand, on which are
situated the Custom-house, the New Mint, and other government offices.

It must be noted that, although the chief British city in India,
Calcutta in ordinary times contains no less than _seventy times_ as many
natives as English—only six thousand English out of more than four
hundred thousand inhabitants. Even if Eurasians (progeny of white
fathers and native mothers) be included, the disparity is still
enormous; and is rendered yet more so by the many thousands of natives
who, not being inhabitants, attend Calcutta at times for purposes of
trade or of worship. Many wild estimates were made a few years ago
concerning the population of Calcutta, which was sometimes driven up
hypothetically to nearly a million souls; but a census in 1850
determined the number to be four hundred and seventeen thousand persons,
living in sixty-two thousand houses and huts. The Hindoos alone exceed
two hundred and seventy thousand. Circumstances of site, as well as the
wishes and convenience of individuals, have led the Europeans to form a
community among themselves, distinct from the native Calcutta. Many
natives, it is true, live in the southern or British town; but very few
British live in the northern or native town. The latter differs little
from Indian towns generally, except in the large size of the dwellings
belonging to the wealthy inhabitants. The southern town is European in
appearance as in population; it has its noble streets, sumptuous
government offices, elegant private residences surrounded with
verandahs. On the esplanade is situated Fort William (the official name
given to Calcutta in state documents), one of the strongest in India; it
is octagonal, with three sides towards the river, and the other five
inland; and it mounts more than six hundred guns. Whatever force holds
Fort William may easily reduce Calcutta to ashes. The public buildings,
which are very numerous, comprise the following among others—the
Government House, that cost £130,000; the Town Hall, in the Doric style;
the Supreme Court of Judicature; the Madrissa and Hindoo Colleges; the
Martinière, an educational establishment founded by Martine the
Frenchman, who has been mentioned in connection with Lucknow; the
Metcalfe Hall; the Ochterlony Monument; the Prinsep Testimonial; the
Calcutta Asiatic Society’s Rooms; St Paul’s Cathedral, the finest
Christian church in India; the Bishop’s Palace and College; the European
Female Orphan Asylum; the Botanic Gardens. The Episcopalians, the
National and the Free Churches of Scotland, the Independents, the
Baptists, the Roman Catholics, the Armenians, the Jews, the Greeks—all
have places of worship in Calcutta. The native temples and mosques are
of course much more numerous, amounting to two hundred and fifty in
number.

Concerning the inhabitants, the English comprise the Company’s civil and
military servants, a few members of the learned professions, merchants,
retail-dealers, and artisans. Of the native Hindoos and Mohammedans,
exclusive of the degraded castes of the former, it is supposed that
one-third are in the service of the English, either as domestic
servants, or as under-clerks, messengers, &c. A majority of the
remainder pick up a living on the street or the river—carrying
palanquins as bearers, carrying parcels as coolies, rowing boats,
attending ships, &c. The native artisans, shopkeepers, and
market-people, fill up the number.

It will be remembered, from the details given in Chapter II., that the
authorities at Calcutta, during the first four months of the year, were
frequently engaged in considering the transactions at Dumdum,
Barrackpore, and Berhampore, connected with the cartridge grievances.
These did not affect the great city itself, the inhabitants of which
looked on as upon events that concerned them only remotely. When the
middle of May arrived, however, and when the startling news from Meerut
and Delhi became known, an uneasy feeling resulted. There was in
Calcutta a kind of undefined alarm, a vague apprehension of some hidden
danger. At that time there were six companies of the 25th Bengal
infantry, and a wing of the 47th Madras infantry, barracked on the
esplanade between the Coolie Bazaar and the fort. They were without
ammunition. There were, however, detachments of two other regiments
acting as guards in the fort, provided with ten rounds of ammunition per
man. It came to light that, on the 17th of May, the men of the 25th
asked the guards privately to be allowed to share this ammunition,
promising to aid them in capturing the fort during the following night.
This treason was betrayed by the guards to the town-major, who at once
ordered bugles to sound, and preparations to be made for defending the
fort; the drawbridges were raised, the ladders withdrawn from the
ditches, additional guards placed upon the arsenal, European sentries
placed at various points on the ramparts, and armed patrols made to
perambulate the fort during the night. The refractory sepoys, thus
checked, made no attempt to carry out their nefarious project. An
express was at once sent off to Dumdum for the remaining portion of her
Majesty’s 53d regiment, to join their comrades already at Calcutta.
Although the immense value of these English troops was at once felt, the
inhabitants of Calcutta were thrown into great excitement by the
rumoured outbreak; they talked of militia corps and volunteer corps, and
they purchased muskets and powder, rifles and revolvers, so rapidly,
that the stores of the dealers were speedily emptied.

Two demonstrations of loyalty—or rather two sets of demonstrations—were
made on this occasion, one from the Christian inhabitants, and one from
the natives. The mutineers found head-quarters not quite suited for
their operations; order was soon restored; and then all parties came
forward to state how faithful, contented, and trustworthy they were. It
is not without interest to glance at some of these demonstrations. One
was from the Calcutta Trade Association, which held a meeting on the
20th of May. The resolution agreed to was to the effect that ‘This body
do send up to government a statement that they are prepared to afford
the government every assistance in their power towards the promotion of
order and the protection of the Christian community of Calcutta, either
by serving as special constables or otherwise, in such manner as may
appear most desirable to government; and at the same time suggesting to
government that their services should be availed of in some manner, as
they deem the present crisis a most serious one, and one in which every
available means should be brought into action for the suppression of
possible riot and insurrection.’ The answer given by the
governor-general in council to the address sent up in virtue of this
resolution is worthy of note; shewing, as it does, how anxious he was to
believe, and to make others believe, that the mutiny was very partial,
and that the sepoy army generally was sound at heart. He thanked the
Trade Association for the address; he announced that he had no
apprehension whatever of riot or insurrection amongst any class of the
population at Calcutta; he asserted his possession of sufficient means
to crush any such manifestation if it should be made; but at the same
time he admitted the prudence of civilians enrolling themselves as
special constables, ready for any emergency. In reference, however, to
an opinion in the address that the sepoys generally exhibited a mutinous
spirit, he expressed uneasiness at such an opinion being publicly
announced. ‘There are in the army of this presidency many soldiers, and
many regiments who have stood firm against evil example and wicked
counsels, and who at this moment are giving unquestionable proof of
their attachment to the government, and of their abhorrence of the
atrocious crimes which have lately been perpetrated in the Northwestern
Provinces. It is the earnest desire of the governor-general in council
that honourable and true-hearted soldiers, whose good name he is bound
to protect, and of whose fidelity he is confident, should not be
included in a condemnation of rebels and murderers.’ Alas, for the
‘honourable and true-hearted soldiers!’

Another movement of the same kind was made by the Freemasons of
Calcutta—a body, the numbers of which are not stated. They passed a
resolution on the same day, ‘That at the present crisis it is expedient
that the masonic fraternity should come forward and offer their services
to government, to be employed in such manner as the governor-general may
deem most expedient.’

The Armenians resident in the city met on the following day, and agreed
to a series of resolutions which were signed by Apcar, Avdall, Agabeb,
and others of the body—declaratory of their apprehension for the safety
of Calcutta and its inhabitants; their sincere loyalty to the British
government; their grateful appreciation of its mild and paternal rule;
and their fervent hope that the energetic measures adopted would suffice
to quell the insurrectionary spirit: concluding, ‘We beg most
respectfully to convey to your lordship in council the expression of our
willingness and readiness to tender our united services to our rulers,
and to co-operate with our fellow-citizens for maintaining tranquillity
and order in the city.’ The Armenians, wherever settled, are a peaceful
people, loving trade better than fighting: their adhesion to the
government was certain.

The French inhabitants in like manner held a meeting, and sent up an
address to the governor-general by the hands of Consul Angelucci. They
said: ‘Viewing the dangers that, from one moment to another, may menace
life and property at Calcutta, all the French resident in the city unite
with one accord, and place themselves at the disposal of your excellency
in case of need; beseeching that their services may be accepted for the
common good, and as a proof of their loyalty and attachment towards her
Majesty, the Queen of England.’

It is more interesting, however, in reference to such a time and such a
place, to know in what way the influential native inhabitants comported
themselves on the occasion. The meetings held, resolutions passed, and
addresses presented, were remarkable for their earnestness, real or
apparent. Although Viscount Canning gladly and promptly acknowledged
them as valuable testimonials; yet the subsequent lying and treachery in
many quarters were such that it is impossible to decide how much or how
little sincerity was involved in declarations of loyalty. There was a
body of Hindoo gentlemen at Calcutta, called the British Indian
Association. The committee of the Association held a meeting on the 22d
of May, and the secretary, Issur Chunder Singh, forwarded an address
from the committee to the government. The address asseverated that the
atrocities at Meerut and Delhi had been heard of with great concern;
that the committee viewed with disgust and horror the excesses of the
soldiery at those stations; and that such excesses would not meet with
countenance or support from the bulk of the civil population, or from
any reputable or influential classes among them. The committee recorded
‘their conviction of the utter groundlessness of the reports which have
led a hitherto faithful body of the soldiers of the state to the
commission of the gravest crimes of which military men or civil subjects
can be guilty; and the committee deem it incumbent on them on the
present occasion to express their deep abhorrence of the practices and
purposes of those who have spread those false and mischievous reports.’
Finally, they expressed their belief that the loyalty of the Hindoos,
and their confidence in the power and good intentions of the government,
would be unimpaired by ‘the detestable efforts which have been made to
alienate the minds of the sepoys and the people of the country from
their duty and allegiance to the beneficent rule under which they are
placed.’

Three days later, a meeting was held of Hindoo persons of influence
generally, at Calcutta, without reference to the British Indian
Association; and the chairman of this meeting, Bahadoor Radhakant Rajah,
was commissioned to forward a copy of resolutions to the
governor-general. These resolutions were similar in character to those
passed by the Association; but two others were added of very decided
character: ‘That this meeting is of opinion that, should occasion
require, it would be the duty of the native portion of her Majesty’s
subjects to render the government every aid in their power for the
preservation of civil order and tranquillity; and that, with a view to
give an extensive circulation to the proceedings of this meeting,
translations of the same into the vernacular dialects of the country
shall be printed and distributed amongst the native population.’

Another Hindoo manifestation was remarkable for the mode in which the
intentions of the persons concerned were proposed to be carried out. A
meeting was held on the 23d, of ‘some young men, at the premises of
Baboo Gooroo Churn Dey, Bhowanipore, Chuckerbaria, in the suburbs of
Calcutta: to consider the best means of keeping the peace in the said
suburban town at this crisis of panic caused by some mutinous
regiments.’ These ‘young men,’ who appointed Baboo Gooroo Churn Dey and
Essan Chunder Mullick as secretary and assistant-secretary, threw into
their deliberations an abundance of youthful enthusiasm not to be found
in the resolutions of their seniors. Their plan—not expressed in, or
translated into, very good English—was: ‘That some of the members will
alternately take round at every night, with the view of catching or
detecting any wrong-doer that may be found in the work of abetting some
such malicious tales or rumours, as the town will be looted and
plundered by the sepoys on some certain day, and its inhabitants be cut
to pieces; and will, by every means in their power, impress on the minds
of timid and credulous people the idea of the mightiness of the power of
the British government to repel aggression of any foreign enemy, however
powerful and indomitable, or put down any internal disturbance and
disorder.’ They announced their success in obtaining many ‘strong and
brave men’ to aid them in this work.

The Mohammedans of Calcutta were a little behind the rest of the
inhabitants in time, but not in expressed sentiment, concerning the
position of public affairs. On the 27th, many of the leading men of that
religion held a meeting; one was a deputy-magistrate; two were pleaders
in the sudder or native courts of law; others were moulvies, moonshees,
hadjis, agas, &c.; and all signed their names in full—such as Hadji
Mahomed Hashim Ishphahanee, and Aga Mahomed Hassan Kooza Kenanee.
Nothing could be more positive than some of the assertions contained in
the resolutions passed by this meeting: ‘We subjects are well aware that
the members of the British government, from the commencement of their
dominion in Hindostan, have repeatedly declared and made known their
determination not to interfere with the religion or religious
observances of any of their subjects; and we repose entire faith in this
declaration, and assert, that up to the present time, a space of nearly
one hundred years, our religion has never been interfered with. A number
of us having left our homes, have found a dwelling and asylum under this
government, where we live in peace and safety, protected by the equity
and fostering care of the British government, and suffering no kind of
injury or loss. As we have ever lived in safety and comfort under the
British rule, and have never been molested or interfered with in
religious matters; we therefore, with the utmost eagerness and
sincerity, hereby determine, that in case of necessity we will serve the
government to the utmost of our abilities and means.’ In true oriental
form the resolutions ended, in allusion to the governor-general, ‘May
his prosperity increase!’

What _could_ Viscount Canning say to all this? How could he, in that
early stage of the commotions, but believe in the sincerity of these
men: and, believing, to thank them for their expression of loyalty and
support? His official reply, in each case, conveyed in pointed terms his
conviction that the disaffection among the sepoys was only local and
temporary. He could not at that time foresee how severely this
conviction would be put to the test.

The hostility to the governor-general, manifested at a later date by
some of the English inhabitants of Calcutta, will be noticed in its due
place.

Leaving Calcutta, the reader is invited to direct his attention to towns
and districts north and northwest, following the course of the Hoogly
and the Ganges, up to the busy scenes of mutiny and warfare. The whole
district from Calcutta to Benares _by land_ is singularly devoid of
interest. The railway is open through Burdwan to Raneegunge; but thence
to the great Hindoo capital there is scarcely a town or village worthy
of note, scarcely one in which the mutineers disturbed the peaceful
occupations of the inhabitants.

Three military stations on the Hoogly—Dumdum, Barrackpore, and
Berhampore—all concerned, as we have seen, in the cartridge
disturbances—remained quiet during the month of May, after the
disbandments. One inquiry connected with those occurrences, not yet
adverted to, must here be noticed. The conduct of Colonel S. G. Wheler,
commanding the 34th regiment B. N. I.,[13] occupied much attention on
the part of the Calcutta government, during and after the proceedings
relating to the disbanding of the seven companies of that regiment at
Barrackpore. Rumours reached the government that the colonel had used
language towards his men, indicating his expectation that they would be
converted to Christianity, and that he had addressed them on religious
subjects generally. In the usual epistolary formalism of routine, the
secretary to the government was requested to request Major-general
Hearsey to request Brigadier Grant to request Colonel Wheler to furnish
some reply to those rumours. The substance of the colonel’s reply was
contained in these words: ‘During the last twenty years and upwards, I
have been in the habit of speaking to the natives of all classes, sepoys
and others, making no distinction, since there is no respect of persons
with God, on the subject of our religion, in the highways, cities,
bazaars, and villages—not in the lines and regimental bazaars. I have
done this from a conviction that every converted Christian is expected,
or rather commanded, by the Scriptures to make known the glad tidings of
salvation to his lost fellow-creatures: our Saviour having offered
himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, by which alone
salvation can be secured.’ He quoted from the Epistle to the Romans to
prove that a Christian must necessarily be a better subject to any state
than a non-Christian. He declared, however, that he had not given the
sepoys cause for believing that any proselyting violence would be used
against their own religion. Viscount Canning, passing over in silence
the Scriptural phraseology used by Colonel Wheler, wished to ascertain
whether the colonel’s religious conversations had been held with the men
of the 34th regiment as well as with other natives: seeing that the
critical subject at that particular time was the dogged suspicion of the
sepoys of that regiment on matters affecting their faith. In a second
letter, Colonel Wheler adopted a still more decidedly evangelical tone.
He stated that it was his custom to address _all_ natives, whether
sepoys or not, on religious matters. ‘I have told them plainly that they
are all lost and ruined sinners both by nature and by practice, like
myself; that we can do nothing to save ourselves in the way of
justifying ourselves in the sight of God. Our hearts being sinful, all
our works must consequently be sinful in His sight; and therefore there
can be no salvation by works, on which they are all resting and
depending.’ This homily, singular as forming part of a military reply to
a military question, was carried to a considerable length. On matters of
plain fact, Colonel Wheler stated that it was most certain that he had
endeavoured by argument and exhortation to convert sepoys as well as
others to Christianity; that he was in the habit of enforcing by the
only standard which he could admit to be valid, objections concerning
‘the efficacy of their own works of washing in the Ganges, proceeding on
pilgrimage, worshipping all kinds of creatures instead of the Creator,
and other methods of man’s invention.’ Finally, he announced his
determination to adhere to the same policy, even if his worldly position
were injured thereby: taking shame to himself for his past lukewarmness
as a soldier of Christ.

The whole of the members of the Supreme Court at Calcutta at once
decided that an officer, holding Colonel Wheler’s views of duty, ought
not to remain in command of a native regiment, especially at such a
critical period. The question was not, whether that officer was a good
Christian, anxious to communicate to others what he himself fervently
believed; but whether the black gown was not more suitable to him than
the red coat, in such a country and at such a time.

The native troops at Barrackpore and Chittagong, after the disbandment
of the mutinous corps, made professions of loyalty and fidelity to the
government, concerning the sincerity of which it is now exceedingly
difficult to judge. One theory is, that the men were designing
hypocrites from the first; but the frequent examples of wavering and
irresolution, afforded during the progress of the mutiny, seem to shew
rather that the sepoys were affected by the strength of the temptation
and example at each particular time and place. Be this as it may, some
of the petitions and addresses deserve notice. Towards the close of May
a petition, written in the Persian character (much used in India), was
prepared by the native officers of the 70th regiment B. N. I., stationed
at Barrackpore, and presented to their commander, Colonel Kennedy. In
the names of themselves and the sepoys they said: ‘It is reported that
European troops are going up to Delhi and other places, to coerce the
mutinous and rebellious there; and we wish to be sent with them also. In
consequence of the misconduct of these traitors and scoundrels,
confidence in us is weakened, although we are devoted to government; and
we therefore trust that we may be sent wherever the European troops go;
when, having joined them, we will, by bravery even greater than theirs,
regain our good name and trustworthiness. You will then know what really
good sepoys are.’ Colonel Kennedy, in a letter to Major-general Hearsey,
expressed his full belief that the men were sincere in their
protestations; and added, that hitherto he had always been satisfied
with the regiment. So important did this manifestation appear to
Viscount Canning, that he went to Barrackpore in order to thank the men
in person. He appeared before them on parade, on the 27th, and said,
among other things: ‘Men of the 70th, I will answer your petition. You
have asked to be sent to confront the mutineers of Delhi. You shall go.
In a few days, as soon as the arrangements can be made for your
progress, you shall proceed to the northwest.’ He expressed his
conviction that they would keep their promise to vie with the Europeans
in fidelity and bravery; and added: ‘You have another duty to perform.
You are going where you will find men, your brothers in arms, who have
been deluded into the suspicion against which _you_ have kept firm, that
the government has designs against their religion or their caste. Say to
them that you at least do not credit this; that you know it to be
untrue; that for a hundred years the British government has carefully
respected the feelings of its Indian subjects in matters of caste and
religion.’

Arrangements were immediately made for sending this faithful, or
apparently faithful, regiment to districts where it might render useful
service. As there was an insufficient supply of steamers available, the
government resolved to send the regiment the whole distance from
Barrackpore to Allahabad by country boats on the Ganges—an excessively
protracted voyage of eight hundred miles, as the reader is already
aware. When the men were about to start, they expressed to Colonel
Kennedy a wish that the new Enfield rifle should be served out to them.
They declared themselves entirely satisfied with the explanations
concerning the cartridges; and they added, in a written petition to
which the names of twelve subadars and jemadars were appended: ‘We have
thought over the subject; and as we are now going up the country, we beg
that the new rifles, about which there has been so much said in the army
and all over the country, may be served out to us. By using them in its
service, we hope to prove beyond a doubt our fidelity to government; and
we will explain to all we meet that there is nothing objectionable in
them: otherwise, why should we have taken them? Are we not as careful of
our caste and religion as any of them?’ All the native officers of this
regiment, so far as can be judged from the names appended to the
petition, were Hindoos. When the 70th started to the northwest, every
effort was made by the government to set the unhappy cartridge troubles
wholly at rest, and to enlist the services of the sepoys of that
regiment in diffusing among their compatriots a knowledge of the real
facts. Orders, instructions, memoranda, circulars were brought into
requisition to explain—that the new rifle fired nine hundred yards,
against the two hundred yards’ range of the old musket; that it was
lighter than the musket; that its great range and its lightness caused
it to be introduced into the Anglo-Indian army; that the new
rifle-bullets, requiring machinery for their manufacture, were sent out
from England in a finished state; that a few cartridges for those
bullets were in the first instance sent out ready prepared with a
lubricant, but that the Indian government resolved not to issue them to
the native troops, in deference to their religious scruples; that the
cartridge-paper had long been, and would continue to be, made at
Serampore, without any admixture of grease; that every native regiment
would be allowed to lubricate its cartridges with any suitable substance
preferred by the men; and that the practice of biting off the ends of
the cartridges might be wholly dispensed with. In short, everything that
could be done, was done, to remove a suspicion unsound in its origin,
and pernicious in its continuance.

Another regiment, the 34th B. N. I., adopted nearly the same course as
the 70th. The larger portion of this regiment, it will be remembered,
was at Barrackpore at the time of the cartridge troubles; but the rest
was at Chittagong. The sepoys in this last-named detachment came forward
with a very pointed declaration of their loyalty. Captain Dewaal, in
command of that detachment, assembled his men one day towards the end of
April, and told them how shamefully their companions had acted at
Barrackpore, and how much disgrace had thereby been brought upon the
regiment. Two days afterwards, an address or petition was presented to
him, signed by the subadars and havildars in the names of all; in which
regret was expressed for the conduct of the mutineers at Barrackpore.
‘By a careful performance,’ the petitioners said, ‘of our duties, we
have gained a reputation for fidelity to government. These men have
deprived us of it. We well know that the government will not interfere
with our religion. We hope that the government will consider us as
faithful as ever; and we pray that this petition may be sent to the
governor-general, in order that his lordship may know the state of our
feelings.’ Three or four weeks later, when this remnant of the regiment
had been removed to Barrackpore, the men made another profession of
their loyalty. In a petition to their commander, they said: ‘Some
evil-disposed men of the regiment have deprived us of the reputation for
loyalty which we have ever held. They have received the fruits of their
misconduct by being disbanded. We that remain are willing to serve
against the mutineers at Delhi, and are anxious to recover our lost
name. We pray that the government will ever regard us as faithful
soldiers.’

Two further examples of a similar kind were presented, one by the 43d
and another by the 63d regiments B. N. I. About the end of May, the
commandant of the first of these two regiments at Barrackpore, received
a petition signed by the native commissioned officers, praying that the
regiment might be allowed to proceed against the mutineers at Delhi—a
wish that had been previously expressed to him on parade. Nearly at the
same time Captain Pester, commanding the 63d at Berhampore, received a
petition signed by the whole of the native officers on parade, intended
to be forwarded to the governor-general; and, this petition being
afterwards read in the native language to the whole regiment, the sepoys
unanimously expressed their concurrence in the sentiments it conveyed.
The petitioners said: ‘We have this day heard on parade the order issued
by your lordship consequent on the petition forwarded by the native
officers and sepoys of the 70th regiment of native infantry. On hearing
the same, we were greatly rejoiced; for, in truth, all the men of that
regiment have behaved as becomes loyal and faithful soldiers, and your
lordship has in every way been pleased with them. Now do we also all
petition that we may be numbered among the good and trustworthy soldiers
of the state, as we have always been; and we are prepared and ready,
with heart and hand, to go wherever, and against whomsoever you may
please to send us, should it even be against our own kinsmen.’

The governor-general could do no other than receive these
demonstrations. Whether he acceded to the request for permission to
‘march against the mutineers,’ depended necessarily on the military
arrangements of the time; whether he fully believed the protestations,
may perhaps be doubted, although no disbelief was expressed.

Happily for Bengal, it was affected by few of the disturbances that
agitated the more western provinces. Consulting a map, we shall see that
the banks of the Hoogly and the Lower Ganges are thickly studded with
towns; and it may here at once be stated, that the peaceful industry of
these towns was very little interrupted during the month of May. Tracing
upwards from Calcutta, we meet with Dumdum, Barrackpore, and Serampore,
the first two of which experienced a lull after the storm. Serampore was
once the _Alsatia_ of Calcutta, a place of refuge for schemers,
insolvent debtors, and reckless adventurers; but the Company bought it
from the Danish government, to which it had belonged, and the Baptist
missionaries helped to civilise it; it is now a clean cheerful town,
with a large paper-manufactory. Higher up is the once flourishing but
now decayed town of Chandernagore, one of the few places in India still
belonging to the French. Near this is Chinsura, held by the Dutch until
1825, but now a flourishing settlement belonging to the Company,
provided with an extensive military depôt for Europeans, with a
magnificent hospital and barracks. Then we come to Hoogly, a town
bearing the same name as the river on whose banks it stands: a busy
place, with many civil and educational establishments. Further north is
Plassy, the place near which Clive fought the great battle that
virtually gave India to the British. Beyond this is Berhampore, which,
very refractory in March and April, had become tractable and obedient in
May. Next we meet with Moorshedabad and its suburb Cossimbazar. Once the
capital of Bengal when a Mohammedan dominion, Moorshedabad contained a
splendid palace belonging to the nawab; but though no longer possessed
of this kind of greatness, the city is commercially very important, as
standing on the great highway, or rather water-way, from Calcutta to the
northwest. All the places above named are situated either on the Hoogly
or on the Bhagruttee, those two rivers combining to form the most
convenient outlet from the Ganges to the sea.

The Ganges itself, too—the majestic, far-famed, sacred Ganges—was little
disturbed by commotions in May throughout the lower part of its course.
Rajmahal, Bhagulpore, Curruckpore, Monghir, Behar, Futwah, Patna,
Hajeepoor, Dinapoor, Chupra, Arrah, Bishunpore, Buxar, Ghazeepore—all
lie on or near the Ganges between the Hoogly and Benares. Some of these
places are centres of commerce for the opium-trade; some are busy with
the trading in rice grown in neighbouring districts; others are
shipping-places for corn and other agricultural produce; while all
regard the Ganges as an invaluable channel, affording intercourse with
the rich districts of the west, and with the great focus of authority
and trade at Calcutta. Such of these towns as were involved in trouble
in later months of the year, will be noticed in the proper chapters; of
the others, this narrative is not called upon to treat. One fact,
however, may be mentioned in connection with Dinapoor. So early in the
year as the middle of February, the Calcutta authorities wrote to the
commander at that town, apprising him that a messenger was known to have
been sent to the native regiment at Dinapoor, from some men of the 2d
Bengal grenadiers, inciting them to mutiny. Major-general Lloyd promised
to look out sharply for the messenger, but candidly expressed a doubt
whether the astute native would suffer himself to be caught.

Benares may conveniently be described at once; for, whether disturbed or
not by mutineers, it is so remarkably situated as to lie in the line of
route of all commerce, all aggression, all military movement, between
Calcutta and the upper provinces, whether by road, by rail, or by water.
Regarded in this light, its possession and security are, and were in an
especial degree during the mutiny, objects of the highest importance.
This renowned city stands on the left bank of the Ganges, about four
hundred and twenty miles by road from Calcutta, and seventy-four from
Allahabad. The magnificent river, half a mile wide in the rainy season,
forms a kind of semicircular bay in front of the city, which has thus
three miles of river-frontage. Among the chief characteristics of
Benares are the ghats or flights of fine broad freestone steps, giving
access to the river: mostly very solid in construction, and in some
cases highly decorated. So numerous are they, that they extend almost in
a continuous line along the river’s banks, interrupted here and there by
temples. ‘Upon these ghats,’ says a lively traveller, ‘are passed the
busiest and happiest hours of every Hindoo’s day: bathing, dressing,
praying, preaching, lounging, gossiping, or sleeping, there will be
found. Escaping from the dirty, unwholesome, and confined streets, it is
a luxury for him to sit upon the open steps and taste the fresh air of
the river; so that on the ghats are concentrated the pastimes of the
idler, the duties of the devout, and much of the necessary intercourse
of business.’ Artists in India have delighted to portray the beauty and
animation of this scene; but they cannot, if they would, reveal the
hideous accompaniments—the fakeers and ascetics of revolting appearance,
‘offering every conceivable deformity which chalk, cow-dung, disease,
matted locks, distorted limbs, and repulsive attitudes of penance, can
shew.’

Benares, beyond any other place in India, perhaps, is studded with
religious structures. Thirty years ago the Moslem mosques were more than
three hundred in number, while the Hindoo temples exceeded a thousand.
The pinnacles of the Hindoo pagodas combine to give a very picturesque
appearance to the city, viewed from a distance. Large as the number is,
the Benares temples, as has been sarcastically observed, are not too
many, for religion is ‘the staple article of commerce, through which the
holy city flourishes and is enriched.’ The Mohammedan mosques, mostly
situated in the northeast quarter of the city, are generally elegant
little edifices crowned by small slender minarets, each standing in a
garden planted with tamarinds. Most of them have been constructed on the
sites, and with the materials, of demolished Hindoo temples. By far the
grandest is the great mosque of Aurungzebe, built by that emperor on the
site of a temple of Vishnu, which he destroyed to signalise the triumph
of Islamism over Brahminism. It rises from the platform above the
Madhoray Ghat. The minars or minarets, admired for their simplicity and
boldness, taper from eight feet in diameter at the bottom to seven at
the top; and though so slender, they are carried up to a height of a
hundred and fifty feet, and have each an interior staircase from bottom
to top. The streets of Benares have the usual oriental character of
narrowness, crookedness, and dirtiness; they are mere alleys, indeed,
that will admit no wheel-carriages; nor can beasts of burden pass
without sorely disturbing pedestrians. The houses are more lofty than in
most Indian cities, generally from three to six stories high; and as the
upper stories usually project beyond the lower, the narrow street is
almost closed in above: nay, in some cases, the inmates of one house can
walk over to the opposite tenement through the upper windows. The houses
are, in the better streets, built of stone, small-windowed and gaily
painted. During the hot season the citizens are much accustomed to sleep
in screened enclosures on the roof, open to the sky above, and to the
night-breezes around. There are somewhat under two hundred thousand
inhabitants, who live in about thirty thousand houses.

[Illustration:

  Ghat on the Ganges.
]

Benares is a religious, not a military city. The district around was at
a very remote period the seat of an independent Hindoo state, founded,
according to native tradition, twelve hundred years before the Christian
era. It subsequently formed part of the dominions of the Rajpoot
sovereigns. Then began the Mussulman rule, and Benares became a
dependent province under the Moguls. The nawab-viziers of Oude, when the
Mogul power was declining, seized Benares; and during some of the
political jugglery of the year 1775, the territory was transferred to
the East India Company, by whom it has ever since been held. But under
whatever dynasty it has been placed, Benares has from remote ages been
known as the sacred city of the Hindoos, where all that is remarkable,
all that is abominable, in Brahminism, flourishes. It has been described
as the Jerusalem of Hindostan—swarming with religious teachers,
devotees, mendicants, and sacred bulls. To wash in the Ganges in front
of Benares, to die in that city, are precious privileges to the Hindoo.
Some writers have given the inhabitants a bad character in what concerns
loyalty to their present British rulers. ‘Benares is one of the most
unsafe and rebellious cities in Hindostan. It once successfully opposed
a house-tax imposed on the people by the British government. There was
also recently a strong commotion when the magistrate attempted to
equalise the weights and measures. To shew the hostility of the Hindoos
of Benares to the English, it may be mentioned that when we lay before
Bhurtpore in 1826, no less than thirty thousand sabres were sharpened at
the cutlers’ in expectation of our repulse.’ If this statement be well
founded, it does indeed denote a perilous state of feeling at the time
in question.

Benares, we have said, is not a military city; but so important a place
could not safely be left unguarded. Accordingly a British cantonment has
been built at Secrole, two or three miles to the northwest. Secrole
contains not only the barracks and huts for soldiers, but various civil
establishments, and the residences of most of the British population of
Benares. The cantonment consists of the usual buildings belonging to the
head-quarters of a military division of the Company’s army, and capable
of accommodating three or four regiments; it lies on both sides of a
small stream called the Burnah Nuddee, crossed by the great road from
Benares to Allahabad. On the side of the cantonment furthest from the
city are the bungalows of the various officials and European residents:
substantially built, well fitted and appointed, and surrounded by
pleasant gardens. There are, among the public buildings, a Christian
church and chapel, a court of justice, the treasury, the jail, and a
mint—the last named never yet appropriated to its destined purpose.
Secrole is thus, in effect, the British portion of Benares.

Another military station, subordinate to Benares, Chunar or Chunargur,
is about sixteen miles distant; indeed, being nearly midway between
Benares and Mirzapore, it may be an auxiliary to either in time of need.
Chunar is a town of about twelve thousand inhabitants, standing on a
plateau or elevated cliff close to the Ganges. It was regarded as a
stronghold more than three centuries ago; and, like many other places in
the neighbourhood, belonged to the great Mogul; from whom, in lapse of
time, it was wrested by the ambitious nawab-viziers of Oude; until at
length it fell into the hands of the British. It was for some years the
Company’s principal artillery depôt for the Northwestern Provinces. The
fortified portion of the town, on the heights, is surrounded by a
rampart a little over a mile in circuit, and from ten to twenty feet
high, guarded by towers, and in its turn completely commanding the river
and its banks. The space enclosed by this wall or rampart, however, has
very little of a military aspect; part is open grass-land; part occupied
by bungalows and gardens of Europeans; part by the governor’s house, the
hospital, and the state prison; and part by the ancient Hindoo palace, a
massy vaulted edifice presenting little of its original splendour. An
article of Hindoo faith is recorded in connection with a slab of black
marble in a small square court of this palace; to the effect that ‘the
Almighty is seated personally, though invisibly, on this stone, for nine
hours each day, removing during the other three hours to Benares;’ so
that the fort, in sepoy belief, can only be taken between the hours of
six and nine in the morning. Considered in a military sense, the fort is
by no means strong; nevertheless the steepness of the ascent would
render storming difficult; and to increase this difficulty, the garrison
was wont in former times to keep a number of large rudely made
stone-cylinders at hand, to roll down upon a besieging force. The
citadel or stronghold is in the northeastern part of the enclosure; it
is mounted with several cannon, and has a bomb-proof magazine. The
native town, consisting principally of two-storied stone-houses, is
spread over a slope lying eastward of the fortifications. The English
dwellings, and the station for invalid soldiers, are lower down the
slope.

As soon as the Revolt began, the safety of Benares became an object of
much solicitude to the governor-general at Calcutta, to Sir Henry
Lawrence at Lucknow, and indeed to all the Company’s servants: seeing
that the maintenance of free communication would greatly depend on the
peaceful condition of that city. We have seen that telegrams passed
almost daily between Benares and the other chief cities in May; intended
partly to facilitate the transport of reinforcements to the northwest,
and in part also to insure the tranquillity of Benares itself. About the
middle of the month the military commandant had to announce that there
had been some excitement in the 37th native infantry; that a Sikh
regiment had been sent on to Mirzapore and Allahabad; that the 13th
irregular cavalry were at Sultanpore; and that his position was rather
weak. On the 18th he telegraphed for aid: stating that ‘if one hundred
European infantry could be spared for duty here, it would restore
confidence, and make Benares more secure, so as to maintain
communication with the northwest.’ General Lloyd was asked whether he
could spare that much-coveted reinforcement—a hundred Europeans—from
Dinapoor. About the same time the commandant was directed to defend
Chunar fort with European invalids and veterans, and to keep the native
infantry regiment at hand in Benares. Mr Tucker, civil commissioner,
writing to the government on the same day, spoke of the ‘bold policy’
which had been adopted when the 37th shewed disaffection; the Europeans
remaining in their houses, and acting so as neither to exhibit nor
inspire distrust—instead of attempting to escape. On the 19th,
arrangements were completed for sending a company of her Majesty’s 84th
from Dumdum to Benares, in five separate parties of twenty-one each, in
transit-carriages. By the 19th, the irregular cavalry had been brought
in from Sultanpore, and every precaution taken to guard against a
surprise—insomuch that the Europeans at neighbouring stations were
looking to Benares as a sort of stay and support. More than once
allusion was made, by the civil commissioner at that city, to the
tactics of serenity, as a medium between severity and fright. One of the
telegrams told that ‘Brigadier Ponsonby carries out Colonel Gordon’s
quiet policy of shewing no fear or distrust; not a muscle is moved.’
Until towards the close of the month, Benares was included in the
military command of which Dinapoor was the centre; but as the distance
between the two towns is a hundred and fifty miles, Brigadier Ponsonby
received permission to act for himself, irrespective of control from
General Lloyd.

The 31st of May found Benares and its neighbourhood at peace. How close
at hand were days of violence and bloodshed—a future chapter will shew.

We have now left Bengal, both in its original and in the Company’s
acceptation of that term, and have arrived within the territories
grouped together as the Northwest Provinces. From Benares and Chunargur,
as a glance at the map will shew, the course of the Ganges, of the great
trunk-road, and of the railway in process of construction, brings us to
Mirzapore—a town not actually thrown into rebellion during the month of
May, but placed between two foci of inflammable materials, Benares and
Allahabad, and liable at any time to be inflamed by them. Mirzapore is
on the right bank of the Ganges, which is half a mile wide at this spot,
and is crossed by a ferry in the absence of a bridge. It is a great
commercial city, with about eighty thousand inhabitants; the emporium of
the cotton trade of Bundelcund and the adjacent provinces; not rich in
Mohammedan or Hindoo antiquities or splendour, associated with few
military events, but wealthy on account of its industry. The Company’s
military cantonment, as in so many other parts of India, is two or three
miles out of the town; indeed, this is a fact that must be borne in mind
throughout, as a necessary condition to the understanding of events
connected with the Revolt.

Approaching now the Jumna regions, the plot thickens and the characters
increase in number. We come to that rich country, the Doab, watered on
the one side by the Ganges and on the other by the Jumna, with Oude and
Rohilcund on the north, Bundelcund and Scindiah’s territory on the
south. We find a considerable number of large and important
towns—Lucknow, Fyzabad, Bareilly, Allahabad, Futtehpoor, Cawnpore,
Furruckabad, Gwalior, Bhurtpore, Agra, Delhi, Meerut—in the immediate
vicinity of one or other of these two rivers. The Company’s military
stations are far more thickly posted in that region than in any other
part of India—a source of weakness in the midst of apparent strength;
for as the native troops were predominant in all these places, their
numbers became a manifest evil as soon as a mutinous spirit appeared
among the men.

This chapter being mainly intended, as already explained, to shew how
remarkably the materials for explosion were accumulating during the
month of May, to burst forth with frightful violence in June, we shall
glance rapidly and touch lightly here on many of the towns situated
westward of Mirzapore, in order to place the reader in a position to
understand what will follow—treating of sudden outrages and strange
escapes in some few cases, and in others of a deceitful calm before a
storm.

Allahabad, in a military sense, is a more important post than any
between it and Calcutta: indeed, there are few to equal it throughout
India. This is due principally to the fact that it lies at the junction
of the two great rivers Ganges and Jumna, the northern side being washed
by the one, the southern by the other. It occupies the most eastern, or
rather southeastern point of the rich and fertile Doab; it lies in the
direct water-route from Calcutta to both of the upper rivers; it is a
main station on the great trunk-road from Calcutta to the Punjaub, and
on the East India Railway now in course of construction; and a bridge
will carry that railway across the Jumna close to it. No wonder,
therefore, if the eyes of all were directed anxiously towards Allahabad
during the mutinies and consequent struggles. The fort and arsenal are
among the largest and finest in India. The fort rises direct from the
point of confluence of the two rivers, and is on that side nearly
impregnable. It is a mile and a half in circuit, five-sided, stone
built, and bastioned. Two of the sides, near the water, are old, and
weak as against a European force; the other three are modern, and, with
their bastions and ravelins, command the city and the country beyond.
Bishop Heber remarked that Allahabad fort had lost in grandeur what it
had gained in strength: the lofty towers having been pruned down into
bastions and cavaliers, and its high stone ramparts obscured by turf
parapets and a sloping external glacis. The principal gate of the fort,
surmounted by a dome with a wide hall beneath, and surrounded by arcades
and galleries, forms a very majestic ornament. The arsenal, situated
within the fort, is one of great magnitude, containing (before the
Revolt) arms for thirty thousand men, an immense park of artillery, and
the largest powder-magazine in Upper India. Altogether, it is a place of
great strength, probably impregnable to natives, and fitted to bear a
prolonged and formidable siege. In a part of the fort overlooking the
Jumna is an ancient and spacious palace, formerly fitted up as
residences for the superior European officers, but latterly used for
state prisoners. From a balcony perched near the summit of a tower on
which the windows of one of the chambers open, a scene is presented, of
which European travellers in India speak with much admiration. The
spectator looks down upon a grove of mango-trees, flanking a fine
esplanade, and peopled with innumerable ring-necked paroquets. Above, on
pediment, pinnacle, and turret, others of the feathered tribe build
their nests and plume their wings. Along the thickly wooded shores on
the north or Allahabad side of the Jumna, buildings of various degrees
of interest are seen interspersed with the small islands which speckle
the river; while the opposite or Bundelcund shore forms a noble
background to the picture. In the days before the Revolt, the European
troops of the garrison were accommodated in well-constructed barracks
within the fort; while the military cantonment for the native troops lay
northwest of it.

The city of Allahabad, westward of the fort, and on the Jumna shore, is
scarcely worthy of its magnificent situation. It contains seventy
thousand inhabitants; but its streets and houses are poor; nor do the
mosques and temples equal those in many other parts of Hindostan, though
the gardens and tomb of Sultan Khosroo and his serai are almost
unequalled in India. There is a particular spot, outside the fort, where
the actual confluence of the two great rivers is considered to take
place; and this presents the liveliest scene in the whole city. One
traveller tells of the great numbers of pilgrims of both sexes, anxious
to bathe in the purifying waters; and of devotees who, causing earthen
vessels to be fastened round their waists or to their feet, proceed in a
boat to the middle of the stream, and precipitate themselves into the
water—supposing that by this self-immolation they secure eternal bliss.
Another states that when a pilgrim arrives here—Benares, Gyayah, and
Allahabad being frequently included in the same pilgrimage—he sits down
on the brink of the river, and causes his head and body to be so shaved
that each hair may fall into the water—for the sacred writings promise
the pilgrim a million years’ residence in heaven for every hair thus
deposited—and that, after shaving and bathing, he performs the obsequies
of his deceased ancestors. The Brahmins are the money-makers at these
spots; each has his little platform, standing in the water, where he
assists in the operations by which the pilgrim is supposed to become
holy. Skinner describes the whole scene as a kind of religious fair.

[Illustration:

  City and Fort of ALLAHABAD.
]

When the events at Meerut and Delhi became known at Allahabad, the
native troops shewed much excitement. One of them, the 6th Bengal
infantry, drew down encomiums for fidelity, in offering to march and
fight against the insurgents; whether all the officers believed the men,
may be doubted; but the chief authorities did not deem themselves
justified in shewing distrust. Thanks came from Calcutta for the
manifestation of loyalty made by the regiment—a loyalty destined to be
of brief duration. A detachment of her Majesty’s 84th reached Allahabad
on the 23d of May, sent up from Calcutta by the laboriously tedious
methods lately described. There being some disturbance expected at the
jail, the detachment was sent into the fort, and held in readiness to
proceed to the cantonment with two guns; but as the alarm ceased for a
time, the troops were sent on to Cawnpore, where much more anxiety was
felt. Lieutenant Brasyer commanded four hundred Sikhs of the Ferozpore
regiment in the fort; while Captain Hazelwood took charge of the
European artillerymen. About two hundred Englishwomen and children were
in the fort; and all hoped that the native troops in the cantonment
could and would be kept in subjection. How far this hope was well
founded, will be shewn in a future chapter.

Lucknow and the important territory of Oude, so far as concerns the
events in May, have already been treated. The relations of the British
government to the court of Oude, the assiduous exertions of Sir Henry
Lawrence to maintain subordination and tranquillity, and the vigorous
measures adopted by him against the mutineers at Lucknow towards the
close of the month of May, were followed by occurrences in June which
will come for notice in their proper place.

Of Cawnpore—a name never to be uttered by an English tongue without a
thrill of horror, an agony of exasperated feeling—all notice will be
postponed until the next chapter; not because the hapless beings there
residing were free from peril in the month of May, but because the
tragedy must be treated continuously as a whole, each scene leading
forward to the hideous climax. Suffice it at present to know that
Cawnpore contained so many English men and women, and so many mutinous
native troops, that all eyes were anxiously directed towards the
progress of events at that city.

Let us turn to towns and districts further westward.

[Illustration:

  Agra Fort.
]

Agra, once the capital of the Patan emperors, is the chief city of the
Northwestern Provinces. Delhi is historically, and in population, more
important; but was still at that time nominally under another sovereign;
whereas Agra has been British territory since 1803, and is very well
suited for a seat of government. The city, like Delhi, is situated on
the right bank of the Jumna, and will, like it, be at some future time
accommodated by the East India railway. In round numbers, its distance
from Delhi is a hundred and fifty miles; from Calcutta, a little under
eight hundred; and from Lahore, five hundred. The boundary of the old
city encloses a space of twelve square miles; but not more than half of
this is at present occupied by houses. There is one fine street, with
houses built of red sandstone; the remaining streets are mostly narrow,
with very small, insignificant-looking shops. The public buildings are
numerous, and some of them very magnificent, telling of the past days of
imperial glory and splendour. One is the palace of Shahjehan; small, but
rendered very beautiful by its white marble surfaces, arabesques and
mosaics, carvings of flowers, inlayings of black and yellow marble,
enrichments of gilding, screen-works of marble and metal, fountains in
the mosaic pavements. Near this is Shahjehan’s audience-chamber, as
large as the palace itself, originally enclosed by arcades hung with
tapestries. And also close at hand is the Moti Musjid or Pearl Mosque;
with an exterior of red sandstone and an interior of white marble; a
court with arcades and a fountain; a vestibule raised on steps; three
terraces surmounted by beautiful domes; and nine elegant kiosks
equidistant along the front. But the crowning beauty of Agra in its
Mohammedan aspect is the celebrated Taj Mahal, a little way outside the
city. This was the mausoleum of Shahjehan and his favourite sultaness
Nurjehan, the ‘Light of the world,’ and occupied in its construction
twenty thousand men during a period of more than twenty years. Page
after page of travellers’ descriptions are occupied with this glorious
structure—its façade of a thousand feet in length; its dazzling
whiteness of marble; its mosques, at either end, with their domes; its
stupendous marble terraced platform, with steps and pillars, minarets
and kiosks; its great dome surmounted by gilded globes and crescents;
its octagonal shrine or sepulchral apartment, with enclosures of
extraordinary marble latticework; and its sarcophagi, literally covered
with arabesques, fanciful mouldings, sculptured flowers, and
inscriptions from the Koran.

What a mockery of past grandeur is all this now! Shahjehan, two
centuries ago, was kept closely a prisoner in his splendour at Agra,
while his ambitious son, Aurungzebe, was seizing the throne at Delhi;
and now another race is dominant in both of those cities. Shahjehan’s
audience-chamber has had its arcades walled up, and is converted into an
arsenal for and by the British; and near it are now an armoury, a
medical depôt, and a district collectorate treasury. Nearly all the
once-imperial buildings are within the fort, a large place nearly a mile
in circuit; it contained a hundred and sixty guns when Lord Lake
captured it in 1803. Adjacent to the city, on the west, is the
government-house, the official residence of the lieutenant-governor of
the Northwestern Provinces; and in various places are numerous buildings
belonging to the Company, for revenue, magisterial, and judicial
establishments. The military lines are outside the city-wall. Before the
Revolt, this station was within the Meerut military division, and was
usually occupied by a considerable body of European and native troops.
It was a fact of small importance in peaceful times, but of some moment
when rebellion arose, that the civilians and writers in the public
offices were accustomed to live three or four miles from the cantonment
containing the military, quite on the opposite suburb of Agra. None
would live in the city itself, unless compelled, owing to the intense
heat. It will be well to bear in mind that the fort at Agra was, as just
noticed, not merely a post or stronghold, indicated by its name, but a
vast enclosure containing most of the palatial as well as the defensive
buildings, and ample enough to contain all the Europeans usually
residing in the city and its vicinity—large enough in dimensions, strong
enough in defences, provided a sufficient supply of food were stored
within its walls. Here, as at Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad, and other
places, the due understanding of the mutinous proceedings requires an
appreciation of this fact—that the _city_, the _fort_, and the
_cantonment_ were all distinct.

Agra, being the seat of government for the Northwest Provinces, was
naturally the city to which the Calcutta authorities looked for
information touching the Revolt; and Mr Colvin, the lieutenant-governor,
was assiduously engaged in collecting details, so far as telegraphs and
dâks permitted. On the night of the 10th of May he received sinister
news from the postmaster at Meerut, telling of deeds of violence being
at that moment committed. Next he heard that a young sepoy, mounted on a
travelling troop-horse, was stopped at Bolundshuhur, on suspicion of
being _en route_ to excite other sepoy regiments to rebellion. On the
13th, it was ascertained that a few sepoys were on their way from Meerut
through Allygurh to Agra, bent on mischief; and that others were
supposed to be advancing from Delhi. So little, however, did Mr Colvin
apprehend serious results, that when Scindiah, the maharajah of Gwalior,
came forward to offer his body-guard of three hundred men, and a battery
of artillery, as an aid to the Company, the governor accepted the offer
as ‘a personal compliment for a short time;’ but in the same message
saying, ‘though we really do not require more troops.’ This was
obviously said on the supposition that the native troops in and near
Agra would not be affected by the rebellious epidemic prevailing further
northward; a supposition destined to be sadly overturned. Nevertheless
the government made arrangements for placing at the disposal of Mr
Colvin two regiments of irregular horse from regions further west. Day
after day did evidence arrive shewing that the various districts around
were gradually becoming disturbed. On the 15th, the governor reviewed
the native regiments in Agra, and, finding them deeply impressed with a
conviction that the government intended in some way to degrade their
caste, gave them the most positive assurance that they had been grossly
deceived by such reports. He believed his explanation to have given
satisfaction.

Towards the close of the month a step was taken by Mr Colvin which
brought him into collision with his superiors in power. As
lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Provinces, surrounded on every side
by a teeming population, he wished to believe that the native troops as
a body would still remain faithful, and that an indulgent tone towards
them would effect more than severity to bring the erring back to a sense
of their duty. It was not a thoughtless proceeding: if wrong, the
mistake arose from the estimate formed of the native character, and of
the effect which indulgence would produce. ‘Hope,’ he said, in a letter
to the governor-general, ‘I am firmly convinced, should be held out to
all those who were not ringleaders or actually concerned in murder and
violence. Many are in the rebels’ ranks because they could not get away;
many certainly thought we were tricking them out of their caste; and
this opinion is held, however unwisely, by the mass of the population,
and even by some of the more intelligent classes.’ When he found some of
the troopers of the Gwalior Contingent, on whose fidelity much reliance
had been placed, become mutinous on the 24th of May, he resolved on
issuing a proclamation, based on the supposition that ‘this mutiny was
not one to be put down by indiscriminating high-horsed authority.’ The
pith of his proclamation was contained in these words: ‘Soldiers,
engaged in the late disturbances, who are desirous of going to their own
homes, and who give up their arms at the nearest government civil or
military post, and retire quietly, shall be permitted to do so
unmolested.’’ To this another sentence was added, in a less prominent
form: ‘Every evil-minded instigator in the disturbances, and those
guilty of heinous crimes against private persons, shall be punished.’ Mr
Colvin earnestly solicited the assent of the Calcutta government to this
proclamation; but the assent was as earnestly withheld. Viscount Canning
telegraphed orders back to Agra to recall the proclamation as quickly as
possible, and to substitute another sent for that purpose. ‘Use every
possible means to stop the circulation of the proclamation ... do
everything to stop its operation.’ Mr Colvin was obliged to announce the
abrogation of his own proclamation by a second which contained these
words: ‘Every soldier of a regiment which, although it has deserted its
post, has not committed outrages, will receive free pardon if he
immediately deliver up his arms to the civil or military authority, and
if no heinous crimes be shewn to have been perpetrated by himself
personally. This offer of free and unconditional pardon _cannot be
extended to those regiments which have killed or wounded their officers
or other persons, or which have been concerned in the commission of
cruel outrages_.’ Mr Colvin wished to pardon all who would give up their
arms, except a few ringleaders, and persons individually engaged in
outrage; while Viscount Canning wished to exempt from this pardon such
regiments as had been engaged in the murderous atrocities at Meerut,
Delhi, and elsewhere. General Anson, the commander-in-chief, died before
his opinion could be sought; but the Calcutta government, and (at a
later date) the British government and the British public, agreed with
the governor-general. Mr Colvin was placed in a most perplexing
position; for he was called upon to overturn his own proceedings,
thereby departing from a plan which he believed adequate for the purpose
in view, and weakening his authority in the eyes of the natives. Canning
telegraphed to Colvin: ‘The embarrassment in which your proclamation
will place the government and the commander-in-chief is very great;’
while Colvin telegraphed to Canning: ‘Openly to undo my public act,
where really no substantial change is made, would fatally shake my power
for good.’ Brigadier Sibbald, commanding the Rohilcund division, with
Bareilly for his head-quarters, joined Mr Colvin in opinion on this
matter; he said: ‘Were the men under my command fully convinced that
_the past should be forgotten_, I feel assured their loyalty and good
conduct may be relied upon.’ The general tendency of opinion has been
that stern measures were necessary at that crisis; but it was
unquestionably infelicitous that these contradictory views should have
been held at such a time in high quarters.

Mr Colvin, perpetually harassed with the accounts daily received from
the various important towns included in his government, was nevertheless
secure at Agra itself until towards the close of the month of May. Then,
however, he found stern measures necessary. Having two regiments of
native infantry with him, the 44th and the 67th, he sent two companies,
one of each regiment, to Muttra (on the Delhi road), to bring down
treasure to Agra. On the road, they mutinied, murdered some of their
officers, and hastened to join the insurgents at Delhi. Mr Colvin at
once resolved to disarm the remaining companies of those regiments: this
he was enabled to do by the presence of the 3d Europeans and Captain
D’Oyley’s European field-battery; and the disarming was quietly effected
on the 1st of June. Shortly afterwards, a corps of volunteer horse was
raised among the Europeans at Agra, and placed under the command of
Lieutenant Greathed—one of three brothers at that time actively engaged
in the Company’s service. This corps rendered good service by putting
down rebellious petty chieftains in the neighbourhood. Mr Colvin felt
the full weight of his position; the governor-general was far from him
in one direction, Sir John Lawrence far in another; while Sir Henry
Lawrence had no troops to spare, and the commander-in-chief could
scarcely be heard of.

The great Mahratta stronghold, Gwalior, did not become a scene of mutiny
until June; we therefore need not notice the city or its chief,
Scindiah, in this place; but by following the fortunes of a portion of
the Gwalior Contingent, a regiment of irregular horse, we shall learn
much concerning the state of the country round Agra, and of the active
services required from the English officers. Mr Colvin having accepted
the proffered services of the contingent from the maharajah, Lieutenant
Cockburn received orders to head half the regiment, together with a
battery of guns. He started on the 13th of May from Gwalior, and
accomplished the distance of ninety miles to Agra by the 15th, without
knocking up man or horse. On the 18th, news arrived that troubles had
broken out at Allygurh, fifty-five miles north of Agra, and that the
services of the contingent were necessary for the protection of the
ladies and the civilians. Cockburn with his troopers marched thirty-four
miles to Hattrass on that day, and the remaining twenty-one miles on the
19th—seeking shelter from the tremendous mid-day heat in any dilapidated
building that might offer; and each officer keeping in store his only
clean shirt ‘to meet the fugitive ladies from Allygurh.’ What he saw,
and what he had yet to see, at Allygurh, was serious enough. This town
was destined to affect the operations of the British, not so much by its
intrinsic importance, as by its position on one of the great lines of
route between the eastern and western provinces of India. Allygurh
commands the road from Agra to Meerut; and thus, in hostile hands, it
would necessarily add to the difficulties attending the temporary loss
of Delhi; seeing that the road both to Simla and to Lahore would thus be
interrupted. The town is so surrounded by marshes and shallow pools, as
to be almost unassailable in the rainy season. The fort consists of a
regular polygon, with a broad and very deep ditch outside; it was of
simple construction at the time of its capture by the British in 1803,
but has since been much strengthened and improved. The military
cantonment, the civil establishments, and the bazaar, are situated
towards Coel, a little southward of the fort. At the beginning of the
troubles in May, Allygurh was under the care of Mr Watson, as magistrate
and collector. There were in the place, at the time, the head-quarters
and three or four companies of the 9th regiment B. N. I.: the remainder
of the regiment being in detachments at Minpooree, Etawah, and
Bolundshuhur, towns further to the southeast. The troops at Allygurh
behaved well and steadily during the first half of the month; but
gradually a change supervened. A spy was one day caught endeavouring to
excite the men. Lieutenant Cockburn, in a private letter, thus narrates
the manner—quite melodramatic in its way—in which this villain was
foiled: ‘An influential Brahmin of this neighbourhood having been seen
lurking about the lines for the past day or two, a native
non-commissioned officer concealed a number of sepoys, and induced the
Brahmin to accompany him to where the men lay hidden; under pretence of
its being a secluded spot where they might safely concert matters. The
Brahmin then made overtures to the soldier, and told him that if he
would persuade the men of the regiment to mutiny, he would furnish two
thousand men to assist in murdering the Europeans and plundering the
treasury. At a preconcerted signal, the sepoys jumped up and secured the
ruffian.’ He was hanged the same day. The troops at Bolundshuhur, really
or affectedly expressing horror at the hanging of a Brahmin, marched to
Allygurh, and, on the 20th, succeeded in inducing their companions to
mutiny. This result was so wholly unforeseen, the 9th had hitherto
behaved so well, and had displayed such alacrity in capturing the
treacherous Brahmin, that neither the civilians nor the English officers
were prepared to resist it. Cockburn at first intended to dash at them
with his troopers; but the approaching darkness, and other
considerations—possibly a doubt concerning the troopers themselves—led
to a change of plan. ‘One holy duty remained to be performed—to save the
ladies and children. This we accomplished; and whilst they were being
put into carriages, we shewed a front to the mutineers, and hindered
their advance. An occasional bullet whistled by our heads, but it was
too dark for taking aim. One man was shot through the wrist, and five
are missing. We then heard that the inhabitants were rising, so we
determined on retreating. The ladies were sent on direct to Agra, and we
went on to Hattrass. We had not gone far, when the bright light behind
us told too plainly that the cantonment was in flames.’ The civilians
and the officers of the 9th lost all except their horses and the clothes
on their backs. Allygurh remained for a considerable time in the hands
of the insurgents: almost cutting off communication between the
southeast and the northwest.

While the refugees remained in safety at Hattrass, the troopers scoured
the country to put down marauders and murderers—for it was a saturnalia
of lawlessness. On the 21st, many of the ruffians were captured, and
speedily hanged. On the 22d, two headmen of neighbouring villages joined
the marauders in an attack on some English refugees, but were
frustrated. On the 23d, Cockburn and his troop galloped off from
Hattrass to Sarsnee, and rescued eighteen refugees from Allygurh. ‘Poor
people! They have sad tales to tell. One indigo planter, Mr ——, has had
one son murdered; another son, his wife, and himself, are wounded. His
house and all he possessed have been destroyed. The very clothes were
torn from their backs; and even the poor women, naked and bleeding,
insulted and abused, had to walk many miles. At length they received
shelter from a kind-hearted native banker in the village where I found
them; but even there the house in which they were sheltered was twice
attacked.’ The good Samaritan—for there were some good and kind amid all
the villainies that surrounded them—gave two or three sheets to the poor
sufferers, to cover their nakedness, and to enable them to proceed to
Hattrass.

The 24th of May shewed how little the Gwalior troopers could be depended
upon. Of two hundred and thirty that had been intrusted to Lieutenant
Cockburn, a hundred and twenty suddenly mutinied, and galloped off to
join the insurgents at Delhi. As the villagers began to shew symptoms of
attacking him in his weakness, and as a hundred and ten troopers still
stuck by their colours, he marched off that night nineteen miles from
Hattrass to Kundowlie. On the road, the troopers told the lieutenant of
many little grievances that had affected them at Gwalior, and that had
partly led to the mutiny of the rest of their body; and he felt grateful
that some at least of the number had remained true. During the remainder
of the month, and in the early part of June, this diminished body of
troopers was incessantly engaged in skirmishing, attacking, or resisting
attacks; the country around being in such a frightful state, that a
dozen villages were sometimes seen in flames at once—the work of
desperadoes, who took advantage of a time of anarchy. On one occasion,
Cockburn baffled a horde of scoundrels by a capital stratagem. They had
collected to the number of about five hundred, and were plundering every
one on the road in a shameful manner. The lieutenant went after them
with fifty troopers. He sent four of his men in a bullock-cart, a
curtained vehicle such as women usually ride in. When the marauders saw
this, they made a rush for plunder, and perhaps something worse,
believing the cart to contain defenceless women; they approached, but
the four men jumped up, fired their muskets, and by that signal brought
Cockburn and his party forward. An exciting chase ensued, which ended in
the death of fifty of the marauders, and the capture of many others.

The 9th native regiment, it will be remembered, was quartered in four
detachments at Allygurh, Minpooree, Etawah, and Bolundshuhur. At all
four places the troops mutinied. At Etawah and Bolundshuhur, the course
of events was not so exciting as at Allygurh, although amply sufficient
to try the tact and courage of the few officers and civilians stationed
at those places. Minpooree, on the road from Agra to Furruckabad, was,
however, the scene of so smart an affair, that the governor-general,
amid all his harassing employments, made it a matter of special comment.
The officer chiefly concerned was Lieutenant de Kantzow; the date was
May the 23d, when three companies of the 9th broke out into revolt. On
the night of the 22d, news arrived that the chief portion of the
regiment had mutinied at Allygurh, and it thence became at once doubtful
whether the three companies at Minpooree could be depended upon. The
magistrate and the collector of the district, acting with Lieutenant
Crawford, resolved on removing all the English women and children for
safety to Agra: this was done, promptly and successfully. A plan was
agreed on, relating to the three companies of native troops on the
morrow; but the sepoys anticipated this plan by mutinying at four in the
morning, and endeavouring to shoot down their officers. They loaded
themselves with a great store of ammunition, and tried—first to bring
down their officers, and then to plunder the treasury and the bungalows.
Lieutenant de Kantzow, second in command under Crawford, confronted them
undauntedly, reasoned with them, and endeavoured to stop them in their
mad career. Some of the men, attached to the chivalrous officer, dashed
down several muskets levelled at him, and saved his life. But a terrible
scene occurred at the treasury. De Kantzow, with a mere handful of
ill-armed jail-guards and jail-officials, maintained a three hours’
struggle against three companies of fully armed troops. The commandant
had gone off; the collector also had made a hasty escape, deeming the
magistrate’s conduct ‘romantic’ in remaining behind; and thus De Kantzow
was left to do the best he could at the treasury, the magistrate
elsewhere. De Kantzow sent a hasty message, requesting the magistrate
_not_ to come to the treasury, as it would make one European the more
for the sepoys to yell at and attack. How long the unequal struggle
would have been maintained, cannot be said; but the magistrate found an
influential native, Ras Bhowanee Singh, willing and able to visit the
excited sepoys, and induce them to desist from further violence. They
did so: they decamped with a good deal of property, but _without_ three
lacs of rupees deposited in the treasury, and without taking one English
life. Right indeed was it that De Kantzow should receive the thanks of
the government;[14] for if he had flinched, Minpooree with its twenty
thousand inhabitants would have been at the mercy of three hundred
brutal armed men, ready to plunder natives as well as Feringhees.

It was about one week after this event that Captain Carey, of the 17th
B. N. I., rode into Minpooree, the only remaining one of four English
officers who had been endeavouring to render useful service in the
neighbourhood. They were at the head of a small body of native cavalry.
The sowars suddenly turned upon them in an open road. Major Hayes,
military secretary to Sir Henry Lawrence—a great oriental scholar and
most able officer, whom General Wheeler had just before solicited Sir
Henry to send him, to open the communications with Agra—was instantly
cut down with a sword, his head frightfully hacked, his right hand cut
off, his left mutilated. Another, Lieutenant Fayers, had his head nearly
severed from his body by a dastardly villain, while the unfortunate
young officer was drinking at a well. An old Sikh rushed forward to
prevent the atrocity, but was repelled with the words: ‘What! are you
with these Kaffirs? Look to yourself!’ Lieutenant Barber, adjutant of
the 2d irregular cavalry, made an attempt to escape, but was shot down,
cut to pieces, robbed, and left dead. The fourth, Captain Carey, trusted
to the heels of his good horse; on he galloped over fields and roads,
followed by a troop of blood-thirsty miscreants, yelling and firing as
they rode. Happily, just as his steed was about to sink through
exhaustion, his pursuers gave up the chase. He reached Minpooree in
safety; and on the 1st of June, followed the mangled remains of his
three poor companions to the grave.

Another exploit connected with Minpooree shall be given in the words of
Lieutenant de Kantzow, affording as it does one among many examples of
the extraordinary risks to which the officers were exposed at that
turbulent period, and of the rattling, quick-witted, fearless,
persevering way in which such dangers were met, and afterwards described
in the letters written to friends at home—letters that admit the reader
behind the scenes in a way not possible in official dispatches: ‘I was
returning from reconnoitring, when information was brought me that five
troopers of the 7th light cavalry (native) were coming along the road.
An immediate pursuit was of course ordered by me, and my thirty-nine
troopers tore away at full speed after them. I was just coming up to
them, and had already let drive among the murdering villains; when, lo!
I came upon two hundred of their comrades, all armed with swords, and
some with carbines. A smart fire was kept up at a distance of not more
than twenty-five yards. What could thirty-nine do against two hundred
regular troopers, well horsed and armed—particularly when walked into by
the bullets of a hundred of the infantry! I ordered a retreat, but my
cavalry could not get away from troopers mounted upon good stud-bred
horses; so we were soon overtaken, and then commenced the shindy in
earnest. Twelve troopers surrounded me: the first, a Mohammedan priest,
I shot through the breast just as he was cutting me down. This was my
only pistol, so I was helpless as regards weapons, save my sword; this
guarded off a swingeing cut given me by number two, as also another by
number three; but the fun could not last. I bitterly mourned not having
a couple of revolvers, for I could have shot every man. My sword was cut
down, and I got a slash on the head that blinded me; another on the arm
that glanced and only took a slice off; the third caught me on the side,
but also glanced and hit me sideways. I know not how I escaped: God only
knows, as twelve against one were fearful odds, especially as I was
mounted on a pony bare back. Escape, however, I did.’ Twenty-four out of
his thirty-nine troopers were killed, wounded, or missing.

The region lately noticed, including the towns of Allygurh, Hattrass,
Etawah, Minpooree, &c., was formerly included in Rohilcund, or the land
of the Rohillas; but according to the territorial or political division
adopted by the Company, it is now partly in the Meerut division, and
partly in that of Agra; while the present Rohilcund division is wholly
on the left bank of the Ganges. These technical distinctions are,
however, a matter of very little importance in connection with the
progress of the Revolt; for the insubordinate sepoys tempted and
imitated each other wholly in disregard of mere conventional boundaries.
We must now follow the stream of insurrection across the Ganges, and
shew how deplorable was the anarchy, how sad the sufferings, that began
there towards the close of May.

The districts of Rohilcund in its modern or limited sense are Bareilly,
Boodayoun or Budaon, Shahjehanpoor, Mooradabad, and Bijnour, each named
after a chief town; and not only were the whole of these towns more or
less disturbed, but throughout the intervening country the military
cantonments were set into a flame—figuratively and often literally. In
some instances the civil servants of the Company, chiefly magistrates
and revenue collectors, made their escape with their wives and children,
leaving the mutineers to occupy the stations and pillage the treasuries;
in others the civil servants, led by one of their number possessing tact
and resolution, held the marauders at bay until assistance could be
procured; while in many cases the English officers of native regiments,
as well as the civilians, yielded—by flight or by death—only after a
determined resistance.

Two of the towns above named, Bareilly and Boodayoun, will suffice at
present to illustrate the state of affairs in Rohilcund. Sunday, as we
have often had occasion to observe, was a favourite day for the native
outbreaks; and it was on Sunday the 31st of May that the miseries at
Bareilly began. The 18th and 68th regiments N. I. were cantoned there.
The bungalow of Colonel Troup was suddenly surrounded by two companies
of his own regiment, the 68th: and it was only by a hasty exit through a
side-door that he escaped death. During many previous days and nights
the troops had been in a rebellious state; the English, civilians and
military, had slept in their clothes, with pistols ready loaded, and
horses kept ready saddled. The ladies had all been sent up for safety to
Nynee Tal; and thus, when the struggle arose, the officers had only
themselves to protect. This word ‘ladies,’ however, is to be interpreted
in its conventional sense; for many women in a humbler grade of life,
together with their children, remained in the town; and among these some
deplorable scenes occurred. The members of one family were brought
before a ruthless fellow who assumed some kind of authority; and in a
very few minutes their heads were severed from their bodies. At the same
time, Mr Robertson the judge, two medical men, the professors of the
college, and others, were subjected to a mock trial and publicly hanged.
The mutinous sepoys took aim in the most deliberate way at their
officers, while the latter were fleeing; Mr Alexander, commissioner of
Bareilly, though ill at the time, was forced to mount his horse and
gallop off as the only means of saving his life, amid a shower of
bullets and grape-shot—for the treacherous villains not only used
muskets and rifles, but fired grape from the cannon. Many of the
gentlemen rode off in haste without any head-coverings, the rays of an
Indian sun pouring down upon them in full force. When the English were
driven out, the Mohammedans and Hindoos began to fight fiercely against
each other for possession of the treasure—one among many indications
that plunder was at least as strong a desire as revenge in impelling the
natives to deeds of violence.

The name of Nynee Tal is mentioned in the above paragraph; and it may be
well to understand on what ground that town was so often named with
earnest solicitude by officers engaged in arduous struggles in various
parts of the north of India. Nynee Tal is a healthy spot on the banks of
a beautiful lake, a few miles from Almora in Kumaon, and not far from
the Nepaulese border: indeed it belonged to the Goorkhas of Nepaul until
recent times, when it was conquered from them by the British; since
which occurrences the late owners have been friendly neighbours within
their own territory of Nepaul. Nynee Tal became a second Simla during
the disturbances. Women and children, if their lives were spared at the
scenes of tumult, were hurried off to the places just named, and to one
or two other towns among the hills—there to remain till days of peace
returned, or till means of safe conveyance to Calcutta or Bombay could
be procured. When the troubles in Rohilcund commenced; when Bareilly and
Boodayoun, Mooradabad and Shahjehanpoor, fell into the hands of the
rebels—all fled to Nynee Tal who could. Captain Ramsey, commanding at
that town, at once made arrangements for protecting the poor fugitives;
he formed the gentlemen of the station into a militia, who took it in
turn to fulfil the duties of an armed patrol, to keep in order the
dacoits and other ruffians in the neighbourhood; he laid in a store of
three months’ provisions for all the mouths in the place; and he armed
the station and the roads with companies of a Goorkha regiment. These
Goorkhas, it may be well here to explain, are of Mongol origin, but
smaller and darker than the real Chinese. They belong to Nepaul, and
first became familiar to the British by their resolute soldierly
qualities during the Nepaulese war. Although Hindoos by religion, they
have little or nothing of caste prejudice, and sympathise but slightly
with the Hindoos of the plains. Being natives of a somewhat poor
country, they have shewn a readiness in recent years to accept Company’s
pay as auxiliary troops; and it was a very important fact to those
concerned in quelling the revolt, that the Goorkhas manifested a
disposition rather to remain faithful to their British paymasters, than
to join the standard of rapine and murder.

Bareilly, we have just seen, was one of the towns from which fugitive
ladies were sent for safety to Nynee Tal; and now the town of Boodayoun,
on the road from Agra to Bareilly, comes for notice under similar
conditions. Considering that the course of public events often receives
illustration of a remarkable kind from the experience of single
individuals, we shall treat the affairs of Boodayoun in connection with
the strange adventures of one of the Company’s civil servants—adventures
not so deeply distressing as those of the fugitives from Delhi, but
continued during a much longer period, and bringing to light a much
larger number of facts connected with the feelings and position of the
natives in the disturbed districts. The wanderer, Mr Edwards, collector
of the Boodayoun district, was more than _three months_ in reaching
Cawnpore from Boodayoun—a distance scarcely over a hundred miles by
road. About the middle of May, the districts on both sides of the Ganges
becoming very disturbed, Mr Edwards sent his wife and child for refuge
to Nynee Tal. He was the sole European officer in charge of the
Boodayoun district, and felt his anxieties deepen as rumours reached him
of disturbances in other quarters. At the end of the month, news of the
revolt at Bareilly added to his difficulties; for the mutineers and a
band of liberated prisoners were on their way from that place to
Boodayoun. Mr Edwards expresses his opinion that the mutiny was
aggravated by the laws, or the course adopted by the civil courts,
concerning landed property. Landed rights and interests were sold by
order of the courts for petty debts; they were bought by strangers, who
had no particular sympathy with the people; and the old landowners,
regarded with something like affection by the peasantry, were thrown
into a discontented state. Evidence was soon afforded that these
dispossessed landowners joined the mutineers, not from a political
motive, but to seize hold of their old estates during a time of turmoil
and violence. ‘The danger now is, that they can never wish to see the
same government restored to power; fearing, as they naturally must, that
they will have again to give up possession of their estates.’ This
subject, of landed tenure in India, will call for further illustration
in future pages, in relation to the condition of the people.

[Illustration:

  Nynee Tal—a refuge for European fugitives.
]

Narrowly escaping peril himself, Mr Edwards, on the 1st of June, saw
that flight was his only chance. There were two English indigo-planters
in the neighbourhood, together with another European, who determined to
accompany him wherever he went, thinking their safety would be thereby
increased. This embarrassed him, for friendly natives who might shelter
one person, would probably hesitate to receive four; and so it proved,
on several occasions. He started off on horseback, accompanied by the
other three, and by a faithful Sikh servant, Wuzeer Singh, who never
deserted him through all his trials. The worldly wealth of Mr Edwards at
this moment consisted of the clothes on his back, a revolver, a watch, a
purse, and a New Testament. During the first few days they galloped from
village to village, just as they found the natives favourable or
hostile; often forced to flee when most in need of food and rest. They
crossed the Ganges two or three times, tracing out a strange zigzag in
the hope of avoiding dangers. The wanderers then made an attempt to
reach Futteghur. They suffered much, and one life was lost, in this
attempt; the rest, after many days, reached Futteghur, where Mr Probyn
was the Company’s collector. Native troops were mutinying, or consulting
whether to mutiny; Europeans were departing; and it soon became evident
that Futteghur would no longer be a place of safety either for Probyn or
for Edwards. Flight again became necessary, and under more anxious
circumstances, for a lady and four children were to be protected; but
how to flee, and whither, became anxious questions. Day after day
passed, before a friendly native could safely plan an escape for them by
boat; enemies and marauders were on every side; and at last the danger
became so imminent that it was resolved to cross the Ganges, and seek an
asylum in a very desolate spot, out of the way of the mutineers. Here
was presented a curious exemplification of ‘lucky’ and ‘unlucky’ days as
viewed by the natives. ‘A lucky day having been found for our start,’
says Mr Edwards, ‘we were to go when the moon rose; but this moon-rise
was not till three o’clock on the morning after that fixed for the
start. This the Thakoors were not at first aware of. I was wakened about
eleven o’clock by one of them, who said that the fact had just come to
his knowledge, and that it was necessary that something belonging to us
should start at once, as this would equally secure the lucky influence
of the day, even though we ourselves should not start till next morning.
A _table-fork_ was accordingly given him, with which he went off quite
satisfied, and which was sent by a bearer towards the village we were to
proceed to.’ Under the happy influence of this table-fork, the wanderers
set forth by night, Mrs Probyn and her children riding on an elephant,
and the men walking on roads almost impassable with mud. They reached
the stream; they crossed in a boat; they walked some distance amid
torrents of rain, Mr Edwards ‘carrying poor baby;’ and then they reached
the village, Runjpoonah, destined for their temporary home. What a home
it was! ‘The place intended for the Probyns was a wretched hovel
occupied by buffaloes, and filthy beyond expression, the smell stifling,
and the mud and dirt over our ankles. My heart sank within me as I laid
down my little charge on a charpoy.’ By the exercise of ingenuity, an
extemporaneous chamber was fitted up in the roof. During a long sojourn
here in the rainy season, Mr Edwards wrote a letter to his wife at Nynee
Tal, under the following odd circumstances: ‘I had but a small scrap of
paper on which to write my two notes, and just the stump of a
lead-pencil: we had neither pens nor ink. In the middle of my writing,
the pencil-point broke; and when I commenced repointing it, the whole
fell out, there being just a speck of lead left. I was in despair; but
was fortunately able to refix the atom, and to finish two short
notes—about an inch square each: it was all the man could conceal about
him. I then steeped the notes in a little milk, and put them out to dry
in the sun. At once a crow pounced on one and carried it off, and I of
course thought it was lost for ever. Wuzeer Singh, however, saw and
followed the creature, and recovered the note after a long chase.’
Several weeks passed; ‘poor baby’ died; then an elder child—both sinking
under the privations they had had to endure: their anxious mother, with
all her tender solicitude, being unable further to preserve them. Mr
Edwards, who was one of those that thought the annexation of Oude an
unwise measure, said, in relation to a rumour that Oude had been
restored to its king: ‘I would rejoice at such an equitable measure at
another time; but now it would be, if true, a sign of a falling cause
and of great weakness, which is I fear our real case.’ On another
occasion, he heard ‘more rumours that the governor-general and the King
of Oude had arrived at Cawnpore; and that Oude is then formally to be
made over to the king.’ Whether Oudians or not, everywhere he found the
Mohammedans more hostile to the British than the Hindoos; and in some
places the two bodies of religionists fought with each other. After many
more weeks of delays and disappointments, the fugitives were started off
down the Ganges to Cawnpore. In effecting this start, the ‘lucky-day’
principle was again acted on. ‘The astrologer had fixed an hour for
starting. As it was not possible for us to go at the fortunate moment
and secure the advantage, a shirt of mine and some garments of those who
were to accompany me, were forwarded to a village some way on the road,
which is considered equivalent to ourselves starting.’ Half-a-dozen
times on their voyage were they in danger of being shot by hostile
natives on shore; but the fidelity and tact of the natives who had
befriended them carried them through all their perils. At length they
reached Cawnpore on the 1st of September, just three calendar months
after Mr Edwards took his hasty departure from Boodayoun.

This interesting train of adventures we have followed to its close, as
illustrating so many points connected with the state of India at the
time; but now attention must be brought back to the month of May.

West of the Rohilcund district, and northwest of Allygurh and its
neighbouring cluster of towns, lie Meerut and Delhi, the two places at
which the atrocities were first manifested. Meerut, after the departure
of the three mutinous regiments on the night of the 10th of May, and the
revolt of the Sappers and Miners a few days afterwards, remained
unmolested. Major-general Hewett was too strong in European troops to be
attacked, although his force took part in many operations against the
rebels elsewhere. Several prisoners, proved to have been engaged in the
murderous work of the 10th, were hanged. On the other hand, many sowars
of the 3d native cavalry, instead of going to Delhi, spread terror among
the villagers near Meerut. One of the last military dispatches of the
commander-in-chief was to Hewett, announcing his intention to send most
of his available troops from Kurnaul by Bhagput and Paniput, to Delhi,
and requesting Hewett to despatch from Meerut an auxiliary force. This
force he directed should consist of two squadrons of carabiniers, a wing
of the 60th Rifles, a light field-battery, a troop of horse-artillery, a
corps of artillerymen to work the siege-train, and as many sappers as he
could depend upon. General Anson calculated that if he left Umballa on
the 1st of June, and if Hewett sent his force from Meerut on the 2d,
they might meet at Bhagput on the 5th, when a united advance might be
made upon Delhi; but, as we shall presently see, the hand of death
struck down the commander-in-chief ere this plan could be carried out;
and the force from Meerut was placed at the disposal of another
commander, under circumstances that will come under notice in their
proper place.

Delhi, like Cawnpore, must be treated apart from other towns. The
military proceedings connected with its recapture were so interesting,
and carried on over so long a period; it developed resources so
startlingly large among the mutineers, besieging forces so lamentably
small on the part of the British—that the whole will conveniently form a
subject complete in itself, to be treated when collateral events have
been brought up to the proper level. Suffice it at present to say, that
the mutineers over the whole of the north of India looked to the
retention of Delhi as their great stronghold, their rock of defence;
while the British saw with equal clearness that the recapture of that
celebrated city was an indispensable preliminary to the restoration of
their prestige and power in India. All the mutineers from other towns
either hastened to Delhi, or calculated on its support to their cause,
whatever that cause may have been; all the available British regiments,
on the other hand, few indeed as they were, either hastened to Delhi, or
bore it in memory during their other plans and proceedings.

Just at the time when the services of a military commander were most
needed in the regions of which Agra is the centre, and when it was
necessary to be in constant communication with the governor-general and
authorities, General Anson could not be heard of; he was supposed at
Calcutta to be somewhere between Simla and Delhi; but dâks and
telegraphs had been interfered with, and all remained in mystery as to
his movements. Lawrence at Lucknow, Ponsonby at Benares, Wheeler at
Cawnpore, Colvin at Agra, Hewett at Meerut, other commanders at
Allahabad, Dinapoor, and elsewhere—all said in effect: ‘We can hold our
own for a time, but not unless Delhi be speedily recaptured. Where is
the commander-in-chief?’ Viscount Canning sent messages in rapid
succession, during the second half of the month of May, entreating
General Anson to bring all his power to bear on Delhi as quickly as
possible. Duplicate telegrams were sent by different routes, in hopes
that one at least might reach its destination safely; and every telegram
told the same story—that British India was in peril so long as Delhi was
not in British hands, safe from murderers and marauders. Major-general
Sir Henry Barnard, military commander of the Umballa district, received
telegraphic news on the 11th of May of the outrages at Meerut and Delhi;
and immediately sent an aid-de-camp to gallop off with the information
to General Anson at Simla, seventy or eighty miles distant. The
commander-in-chief at once hastened from his retirement among the hills.
Simla, as was noticed in a former page, is one of the sanataria for the
English in India, spots where pure air and moderate temperature restore
to the jaded body some of the strength, and to the equally jaded spirits
some of the elasticity, which are so readily lost in the burning plains
further south. The poorer class among the Europeans cannot afford the
indulgence, for the cost is too great; but the principal servants of the
Company often take advantage of this health-restoring and invigorating
climate—where the average temperature of the year is not above 55° F.
The question has been frequently discussed, and is not without cogency,
whether the commander-in-chief acted rightly in remaining at that remote
spot during the first twenty weeks in the year, when so many suspicious
symptoms were observable among the native troops at Calcutta, Dumdum,
Barrackpore, Berhampore, Lucknow, Meerut, and Umballa. He could know
nothing of the occurrences at those places but what the telegraphic
wires and the postal dâks told him; nevertheless, if they told him the
truth, and _all_ the truth, it seems difficult to understand, unless
illness paralysed his efforts, why he, the chief of the army, remained
quiescent at a spot more than a thousand miles from Calcutta.

Startled by the news, the commander-in-chief quitted Simla, and hastened
to Umballa, the nearest military station on the great Indian highway. It
then became sensibly felt, both by Anson and Barnard, how insufficient
were the appliances at their disposal. The magazines at Umballa were
nearly empty of stores and ammunition; the reserve artillery-wagons were
at Phillour, eighty miles away; the native infantry were in a very
disaffected state; the European troops were at various distances from
Umballa; the commissariat officers declared it to be almost impossible
to move any body of troops, in the absence of necessary supplies for a
column in the field; and the medical officers dwelt on the danger of
marching troops in the hot season, and on the want of conveyance for
sick and wounded. In short, almost everything was wanting, necessary for
the operations of an army. The generals set to work, however; they
ordered the 2d European Fusiliers to hasten from Subathoo to Umballa;
the Nusseree Battalion to escort a siege-train and ammunition from
Phillour to Umballa; six companies of the Sappers and Miners to proceed
from Roorkee to Meerut; and the 4th Irregular Cavalry to hold themselves
in readiness at Hansi. Anson at the same time issued the general order,
already adverted to, inviting the native regiments to remain true to
their allegiance, explaining the real facts concerning the cartridges,
and reiterating the assurances of non-intervention with the religious
and caste scruples of the men. On the 17th there were more than seven
regiments of troops at Umballa—namely, the Queen’s 9th Lancers, the 4th
Light Cavalry Lancers, the Queen’s 75th foot, the 1st and 2d European
Fusiliers, the 5th and 60th native infantry, and two troops of European
horse-artillery; but the European regiments were all far short of their
full strength. Symptoms soon appeared that the 5th and 60th native
infantry were not to be relied upon for fidelity; and General Anson
thereupon strengthened his force at Umballa with such European regiments
as were obtainable. He was nevertheless in great perplexity how to shape
his course; for so many wires had been cut and so many dâks stopped,
that he knew little of the progress of events around Delhi and Agra.
Being new to India and Indian warfare, also, and having received his
appointment to that high command rather through political connections
than in reference to any experience derived from Asiatic campaigning, he
was dependent on those around him for suggestions concerning the best
mode of grappling with the difficulties that were presented. These
suggestions, in all probability, were not quite harmonious; for it has
long been known that, in circumstances of emergency, the civil and
military officers of the Company, viewing occurrences under different
aspects or from different points of view, often arrived at different
estimates as to the malady to be remedied, and at different suggestions
as to the remedy to be applied. At the critical time in question,
however, all the officers, civil as well as military, assented to the
conclusion that Delhi must be taken at any cost; and on the 21st of May,
the first division of a small but well-composed force set out from
Umballa on the road to Delhi. General Anson left on the 25th, and
arrived on the 26th at Kurnaul, to be nearer the scene of active
operations; but there death carried him off. He died of cholera on the
next day, the 27th of May.

With a governor-general a thousand miles away, the chief officers at and
near Kurnaul settled among themselves as best they could, according to
the rules of the service, the distribution of duties, until official
appointments could be made from Calcutta. Major-general Sir Henry
Barnard became temporary commander, and Major-general Reid second under
him. When the governor-general received this news, he sent for Sir
Patrick Grant, a former experienced adjutant-general of the Bengal army,
from Madras, to assume the office of commander-in-chief; but the
officers at that time westward of Delhi—Barnard, Reid, Wilson, and
others—had still the responsibility of battling with the rebels. Sir
Henry Barnard, as temporary chief, took charge of the expedition to
Delhi—with what results will be shewn in the proper place.

The regions lying west, northwest, and southwest of Delhi have this
peculiarity, that they are of easier access from Bombay or from Kurachee
than from Calcutta. Out of this rose an important circumstance in
connection with the Revolt—namely, the practicability of the employment
of the Bombay native army to confront the mutinous regiments belonging
to that of Bengal. It is difficult to overrate the value of the
difference between the two armies. Had they been formed of like
materials, organised on a like system, and officered in a like ratio,
the probability is that the mutiny would have been greatly increased in
extent—the same motives, be they reasonable or unreasonable, being alike
applicable to both armies. Of the degree to which the Bombay regiments
shewed fidelity, while those of Bengal unfurled the banner of rebellion,
there will be frequent occasions to speak in future pages. The subject
is only mentioned here to explain why the western parts of India are not
treated in the present chapter. There were, it is true, disturbances at
Neemuch and Nuseerabad, and at various places in Rajpootana, the
Punjaub, and Sinde; but these will better be treated in later pages, in
connection rather with Bombay than with Calcutta as head-quarters.
Enough has been said to shew over how wide an area the taint of
disaffection spread during the month of May—to break out into something
much more terrible in the next following month.


                                 Notes.

  _Indian Railways._—An interesting question presents itself, in
  connection with the subject of the present chapter—Whether the
  Revolt would have been _possible_ had the railways been completed?
  The rebels, it is true, might have forced up or dislocated the
  rails, or might have tampered with the locomotives. They might, on
  the other hand, if powerfully concentrated, have used the railways
  for their own purposes, and thus made them am auxiliary to
  rebellion. Nevertheless, the balance of probability is in favour of
  the government—that is, the government would have derived more
  advantage than the insurgents from the existence of railways between
  the great towns of India. The difficulties, so great as to be almost
  insuperable, in transporting troops from one place to another, have
  been amply illustrated in this and the preceding chapters; we have
  seen how dâk and palanquin bearers, bullocks and elephants, ekahs
  and wagons, Ganges steamers and native boats, were brought into
  requisition, and how painfully slow was the progress made. The 121
  miles of railway from Calcutta to Raneegunge were found so useful,
  in enabling the English soldiers to pass swiftly over the first part
  of their journey, that there can hardly be a doubt of the important
  results which would have followed an extension of the system. Even
  if a less favourable view be taken in relation to Bengal and the
  Northwest Provinces, the advantages would unquestionably have been
  on the side of the government in the Bombay and Madras presidencies,
  where disaffection was shewn only in a very slight degree; a few
  days would have sufficed to send troops from the south of India by
  rail, _viâ_ Bombay and Jubbulpoor to Mirzapore, in the immediate
  vicinity of the regions where their services were most needed.

  Although the Raneegunge branch of the East Indian Railway was the
  only portion open in the north of India, there was a section of the
  main line between Allahabad and Cawnpore nearly finished at the time
  of the outbreak. This main line will nearly follow the course of the
  Ganges, from Calcutta up to Allahabad; it will then pass through the
  Doab, between the Ganges and the Jumna, to Agra; it will follow the
  Jumna from Agra up to Delhi; and will then strike off northwestward
  to Lahore—to be continued at some future time through the Punjaub to
  Peshawur. During the summer of 1857, the East India Company
  prepared, at the request of parliament, an exact enumeration of the
  various railways for which engineering plans had been adopted, and
  for the share-capital of which a minimum rate of interest had been
  guaranteed by the government. The document gives the particulars of
  about 3700 miles of railway in India; estimated to cost £30,231,000;
  and for which a dividend is guaranteed to the extent of £20,314,000,
  at a rate varying from 4½ to 5 per cent. The government also gives
  the land, estimated to be worth about a million sterling. All the
  works of construction are planned on a principle of solidity, not
  cheapness; for it is expected they will all be remunerative.
  Arrangements are everywhere made for a double line of rails—a single
  line being alone laid down until the traffic is developed. The gauge
  is nine inches wider than the ‘narrow gauge’ of English railways.
  The estimated average cost is under £9000 per mile, about one-fourth
  of the English average.

  Leaving out of view, as an element impossible to be correctly
  calculated, the amount of delay arising from the Revolt, the
  government named the periods at which the several sections of
  railway would probably be finished. Instead of shewing the
  particular portions belonging respectively to the five railway
  companies—the East Indian, the Great Indian Peninsula, the Bombay
  and Central India, the Sinde, and the Madras—we shall simply arrange
  the railways into two groups, north and south, and throw a few of
  the particulars into a tabulated form.

                            NORTHERN INDIA.

     _Railways._     _Lengths._      _Probable Time of Opening._
                       Miles.
  Calcutta to               121 Opened in 1855.
    Raneegunge,
  Burdwan to                130 December 1859.
    Rajmahal,
  Rajmahal to               440 1860.
    Allahabad,
  Allahabad to              126 December 1857.
    Cawnpore,
  Cawnpore to Delhi,        260 October 1858 (excepting bridge at Agra
                                  over the Jumna).
  Mirzapore to              300 No date specified.
    Jubbulpoor,
  Jubbulpoor to             314 End of 1861.
    Bhosawal,
  Bhosawal to               125 December 1860.
    Oomrawuttee,
  Oomrawuttee to            138 March 1861.
    Nagpoor,
  Bhosawal to               241 October 1859.
    Callian,
  Callian to Bombay,         33 Opened in 1854.
  Surat to                  160 1858 and 1859.
    Ahmedabad,
  Kurachee to               120 October 1859.
    Hydrabad,


                            SOUTHERN INDIA.

  Bombay to Poonah,         124 February 1858.
  Poonah to                 165 1860.
    Sholapore,
  Sholapore to              101 End of 1861.
    Kistnah,
  Kistnah to Madras,        310 1861 and 1862.
  Madras to Arcot,           65 Opened in 1856.
  Arcot to                   60 January 1858.
    Variembaddy,
  Madras to Beypore,        430 March 1859.

  The plans for an Oude railway were drawn up, comprising three or
  four lines radiating from Lucknow; but the project had not, at that
  time, assumed a definite form.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  _’Headman’ of a Village._—It frequently happened, in connection with
  the events recorded in the present chapter, that the _headman_ of a
  village either joined the mutineers against the British, or assisted
  the latter in quelling the disturbances; according to the bias of
  his inclination, or the view he took of his own interests. The
  general nature of the village-system in India requires to be
  understood before the significancy of the headman’s position can be
  appreciated. Before the British entered India, private property in
  land was unknown; the whole was considered to belong to the
  sovereign. The country was divided, by the Mohammedan rulers, into
  small holdings, cultivated each by a village community under a
  headman; for which a rent was paid. For convenience of collecting
  this rent or revenue, _zemindars_ were appointed, who either farmed
  the revenues, or acted simply as agents for the ruling power. When
  the Marquis of Cornwallis, as governor-general, made great changes
  in the government of British India half a century ago, he modified,
  among other matters, the zemindary; but the collection of revenue
  remained.

  Whether, as some think, villages were thus formed by the early
  conquerors; or whether they were natural combinations of men for
  mutual advantage—certain it is that the village-system in the plains
  of Northern India was made dependent in a large degree on the
  peculiar institution of caste. ‘To each man in a Hindoo village were
  appointed particular duties which were exclusively his, and which
  were in general transmitted to his descendants. The whole community
  became one family, which lived together and prospered on their
  public lands; whilst the private advantage of each particular member
  was scarcely determinable. It became, then, the fairest as well as
  the least troublesome method of collecting the revenue to assess the
  whole village at a certain sum, agreed upon by the _tehsildar_
  (native revenue collector) and the headman. This was exacted from
  the latter, who, seated on the chabootra, in conjunction with the
  chief men of the village, managed its affairs, and decided upon the
  quota of each individual member. By this means, the exclusive
  character of each village was further increased, until they have
  become throughout nearly the whole of the Indian peninsula, little
  republics; supplied, owing to the regulations of caste, with
  artisans of nearly every craft, and almost independent of any
  foreign relations.’[15]

  Not only is the headman’s position and duties defined; but the whole
  village may be said to be socially organised and parcelled out by
  the singular operation of the caste principle. Each village manages
  its internal affairs; taxes itself to provide funds for internal
  expenses, as well as the revenue due to the state; decides disputes
  in the first instance; and punishes minor offences. Officers are
  selected for all these duties; and there is thus a local government
  within the greater government of the paramount state. One man is the
  scribe of the village; another, the constable or policeman; a third,
  the schoolmaster; a fourth, the doctor; a fifth, the astrologer and
  exorciser; and so of the musician, the carpenter, the smith, the
  worker in gold or jewels, the tailor, the worker in leather, the
  potter, the washerman—each considers that he has a prescriptive
  right to the work in his branch done within the village, and to the
  payment for that work; and each member of his family participates in
  this prescriptive right. This village-system is so interwoven with
  the habits and customs of the Hindoos, that it outlives all changes
  going on around. Sir T. Metcalfe, who knew India well, said:
  ‘Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down; revolution succeeds to
  revolution; Hindoo, Patan, Mogul, Mahratta, Sikh, English, are all
  masters in turn; but the village community remains the same. In
  times of trouble they arm and fortify themselves. If a hostile army
  passes through the country, the village communities collect their
  cattle within their walls, and let the enemy pass unprovoked. If
  plunder and devastation be directed against themselves, and the
  force employed be irresistible, they flee to friendly villages at a
  distance; but when the storm has passed over, they return and resume
  their occupations. If a country remain for a series of years the
  scene of continued pillage and massacre, so that the village cannot
  be inhabited, the scattered villages nevertheless return whenever
  the power of peaceable possession revives. A generation may pass
  away, but the succeeding generation will return. The sons will take
  the places of their fathers; the same site for their village, the
  same positions for the houses, the same lands will be reoccupied by
  the descendants of those who were driven out when the village was
  depopulated; and it is not a trifling matter that will drive them
  out, for they will often maintain their post through times of
  disturbance and convulsion, and acquire strength sufficient to
  resist pillage and oppression with success. This union of the
  village communities, each one forming a separate little state in
  itself, has, I conceive, contributed more than any other cause to
  the preservation of the people of India through all the revolutions
  and changes which they have suffered.’[16]

  It is easily comprehensible how, in village communities thus
  compactly organised, the course of proceeding adopted by the headman
  in any public exigency becomes of much importance; since it may be a
  sort of official manifestation of the tendencies of the villagers
  generally.

[Illustration:

  Palanquin.
]

-----

Footnote 13:

  The initials N. I., B. N. I., M. N. I., &c., are frequently used in
  official documents as abbreviations of ‘Native Infantry,’ ‘Bengal
  Native Infantry,’ ‘Madras Native Infantry,’ &c.

Footnote 14:

  Viscount Canning, in a letter written on the 7th of June to Lieutenant
  do Kantzow, said: ‘I have read the account of your conduct with an
  admiration and respect I cannot adequately describe. Young in years,
  and at the outset of your career, you have given to your
  brother-soldiers a noble example of courage, patience, good judgment,
  and temper, from which many may profit. I beg you to believe that it
  will never be forgotten by me. I write this at once, that there may be
  no delay in making known to you that your conduct has not been
  overlooked. You will, of course, receive a more formal acknowledgment,
  through the military department of the government, of your admirable
  service.’

Footnote 15:

  Irving: _Theory and Practice of Caste_.

[Illustration:

  Parade-ground, Cawnpore.
]



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                 TREACHERY AND ATROCITIES AT CAWNPORE.


No other events connected with the Revolt in India made so deep an
impression on the public mind, or produced so utter an astonishment and
dismay, as those relating to Cawnpore—the treachery of an arch-villain,
and the sufferings that resulted therefrom. The mystery that for so many
weeks veiled the fate of the victims heightened the painful interest;
for none in England knew how the troubles in May gave rise to the
miseries in June, and these to the horrors of July, until nearly all
were dead who could faithfully have recorded the progress of events. Now
that the main incidents are known, they come upon the reader almost with
the force of a tragic drama; associating themselves in succession with
five scenes—the intrenchment, the boats, the ghat, the house of
slaughter, the well—the intensity deepening as the plot advances towards
its end.

So unutterably revolting were the indignities to which some of the
unfortunates were subjected, at Cawnpore as at other places, that no one
dared to speak or write fully of them; even men, hardy and world-worn
men, almost shrank from whispering the details to each other. Vague
generalities of language were employed, in sheer dismay lest the use of
precise words should lift too high the veil that hid the hideous scene.
So much was this felt, so much were the facts understated, that persons
of unblemished moral character almost regretted the reticence of the
press. A nobleman held in very high estimation, the Earl of Shaftesbury,
on one occasion expressed at a public meeting a wish that the daily
journals would proceed one stage further in making the mournful tale
known: on the ground that Englishmen, by learning more of the real
truth, would appreciate more fully the sufferings of our countrymen and
countrywomen, the heroism and Christian patience with which those
sufferings were borne, and the necessity for (not vengeance, but)
retributive justice on those who had ordered and executed the devilish
barbarities. It is not a trifling compliment to the delicacy of the
English press, that a Christian nobleman should thus have suggested less
scruple, less reserve, in the treatment of a most trying subject. In
every narrative of these mournful events, the reader feels, and must
continue to feel, that the _worst_ is left unsaid.

The first matters to treat are—the locality in which, and the native
chieftain by whom, these wrongs were inflicted. Cawnpore, a terrible
word to English readers, is the name both of a district and of its chief
town. The district, a part of the Doab or delta between the Ganges and
the Jumna, is included within the government of the Northwestern
Provinces. The city of Cawnpore is on the right bank of the Ganges,
about two hundred and seventy miles below Delhi; and the river flows
down nearly a thousand miles below this point to Calcutta; the
land-distance, however, from Cawnpore to Calcutta is between six and
seven hundred miles. The Ganges here is sometimes more than a mile in
width at and soon after the rainy season, and is at such time very
difficult to be crossed by bodies of troops. Cawnpore is an important
city to the British in India, both commercially and in a military sense.
The ghat or landing-place, in peaceful times, is a scene of great
liveliness and bustle. When Skinner was there, ‘Every description of
vessel that can be imagined was collected along the bank. The pinnace,
which with its three masts and neat rigging might have passed for a
ship; budgerows, the clumsiest of all clumsy things, with their sterns
several times higher than their bows; the bauleahs, ugly enough, but
lightly skimming along like gondolas compared with the heavy craft
around them; the drifting haystacks, which the country-boats appear to
be when at a distance, with their native crews straining every nerve
upon their summits, and cheering themselves with a wild and not
unfrequently a sweet song; panswees shooting swiftly down the stream,
with one person only on board, who sits at the head, steering with his
right hand, rowing with his foot, and in the left hand holding his pipe.
A ferry-boat constantly plying across the stream adds to the variety of
the scene, by its motley collection of passengers—travellers, merchants,
fakeers, camels, bullocks, and horses—all crowded together. The vessels
fastened to the shore are so closely packed, that they appear to be one
mass, and, from their thatched roofs and low entrances, might easily
pass for a floating village.’ Cawnpore is (or rather was) remarkable in
its military arrangements. The cantonment, six miles long by half a mile
broad, often contained, before the Revolt, a native population of fifty
thousand persons, besides sixty thousand in the city itself,
irrespective of military and Europeans. The native infantry of the
station encamped here in the cool part of the year, when there were
regular streets and squares of canvas stretching over an immense space;
each regiment was provided with its bazaar; in the rear and far beyond
the lines, were the bivouacs of every kind of camp-followers, in immense
numbers. All these, with many hundred bungalows or lodges of officers
and European residents, gave great animation to the cantonment. The
bungalows, though tiled or thatched, were here, as in other parts of
India, large and commodious; each standing pleasantly in the midst of
its compound or enclosure, richly planted with grapes, peaches, mangoes,
shaddocks, plantains, melons, oranges, limes, guavas, and other fruits
especially acceptable in a hot climate. There was accommodation for
seven thousand troops, but the number actually stationed there was
generally much less. In accordance with the Company’s regulations, the
English military officers, whether of European or native regiments,
always resided within the cantonment where their services were required;
while the civilians, although residing chiefly in the suburbs, had their
offices and places of business within the city itself. There were thus,
to some extent, two sets of English residents.

The next point to render clear is, the position of the man who so
fatally influenced the affairs at Cawnpore in the summer months of 1857.
Nena Sahib was his name to an English eye and tongue, and as Nena Sahib
he will ever be execrated; but that was his titular or honorary, not his
real name, which appears to have been Dhundu Punt or Dhoondhoopunt. When
called the Nena or Náná, the Nena Sahib, the Peishwa, the Maharajah, the
Nena Bahadoor, he was recognised by one of his oriental titles of
honour. Let him to us be the Nena Sahib. There was a motive, however
inadequate in the estimate of persons possessing a spark of human
feeling, for the black treachery and monstrous cruelty of this man. He
had a quarrel with the East India Company: a quarrel which the Company
had nearly forgotten, but not he. The disagreement arose out of the
prevalent Eastern custom of adoption, in default of legitimate male
heirs. Bithoor, a town six or eight miles from Cawnpore, and within the
same district, had long been the residence of the chief of the Mahrattas
or Peishwa, with whom, as with other native princes, the Company had had
many negotiations and treaties. Bithoor itself, a town of about fourteen
thousand inhabitants, possesses numerous Hindoo temples, and several
ghats or flights of steps giving access to the Ganges, to which the
Brahmins and their followers frequently resort for the purpose of ritual
ablution. The place is not without fortification, but it does not take
rank among the strongholds of India. The last chief, Maharajah Bajee Rao
Peishwa, died in 1851; and in consequence of that event, a jaghire or
estate, near the town, which had been bestowed upon him during pleasure
by the Company, lapsed to the government, and was subjected to the
general regulations in force in Cawnpore. Being sonless, he had adopted
a son, or indeed two sons—not merely to inherit the vast wealth which
belonged to him independently of the arrangements with the Company, but
also to perform certain filial duties which high-caste Hindoos deem it
necessary to their religion that a son should perform. This adoption was
legal so far as concerned the Peishwa’s personal property; but the
Company would not admit its validity in relation to a pension of £50,000
per annum which he had been in the habit of receiving. A slight
obscurity in the wording of an official document led to some doubt on
this matter. On the 1st of June 1818, Sir John Malcolm, on the part of
the Company, signed a treaty with Bajee Rao, granting a pension to the
rajah _and his family_. This has since been interpreted, by the Bithoor
intriguers, as a perpetual grant _to the heirs_; but there is abundant
evidence that Sir John and the Company meant the pension to be for Bajee
Rao’s life only, to be shared by his family then living. Nine years
afterwards, namely, in 1827, Bajee Rao adopted two children, Suddchoo
Rao and Dhundu Punt, the one four years and the other two years and a
half old; they were the sons of two Brahmins, natives of the Deccan, who
had come to reside at Bithoor about a year before. There is no evidence
that Bajee Rao ever considered these two adopted sons, or either of
them, entitled to a continuance of the Company’s pension; although
Dhundu Punt may very possibly have thrown out frequent hints, to sound
the Company on this subject. It has been supposed that when the old King
of Delhi was reproclaimed after the Meerut outbreak, he offered to
acknowledge the Nena Sahib, Dhundu Punt, as the proper successor of the
Peishwa of Bithoor, on condition of receiving his aid and allegiance.
This was probably true, but would not suffice, without the incentive of
private animosity, to account for his subsequent actions. So little was
known of him in England when the Revolt began, that doubt prevailed
whether he was really the adopted son of Bajee Rao; some writers
asserting that that honour had been conferred upon another Dhundu Punt,
and that the Nena himself was the eldest son of the rajah’s subadar,
Ramchunder Punt.

If hatred ruled his heart during the six years from 1851 to 1857, he
must indeed have been a consummate hypocrite; for the English were
always courteously received by him at his petty court, and generally
came away impressed in his favour—impressed, however, at the same time,
with a conviction that he entertained a sort of hope that the Queen of
England would graciously befriend him in his contest with the Calcutta
government, the Court of Directors, and the Board of Control, all of
whom disputed his adoptive claims. He had a curious taste for mingling
the English with the oriental in his palace at Bithoor. An English
traveller, who visited him a few years before the Revolt, and was
received with an amount of flattery that appeared to have a good deal of
shrewd calculation in it, found the rooms set apart for him decked with
English furniture arranged in the most incongruous manner—a chest of
drawers and a toilet-table in the sitting-room; a piano and a card-table
in the bedroom; tent-tables and camp-stools in the same room with
elegant drawing-room tables and chairs; a costly clock by the side of
cheap japan candlesticks; good prints from Landseer’s pictures, in
juxtaposition with sixpenny coloured plates of Wellington and Napoleon;
sacred prints, and prints of ballet-girls and Epsom winners—all kinds
were mingled indiscriminately, as if simply to make a show. The guest
was most struck by the oriental compliments he received from the Nena,
and by the odd attempt to provide English furniture where English habits
and customs were so little known; yet there were not wanting dark tints
to the picture. He heard rumours ‘that two women of rank were kept in a
den not far from my apartments, and treated like wild beasts; and that a
third, a beautiful young creature, had recently been _bricked up in a
wall_, for no other fault than attempting to escape.’ An agent of the
Nena, one Azimullah, resided some time in London, about the year 1855;
he came to England to advocate the Nena’s claims, and managed to
ingratiate himself with many persons moving in the upper circles of
society, by his manifest abilities, his winning grace, his courtesy to
all with whom he came into relation. Yet there were strange fits of
moody silence observable in him; and when the failure of his mission
became evident, he was heard to throw out dark mysterious threats, which
were disregarded at the time, but were brought vividly to recollection
afterwards, when the deeds of his master forced themselves into notice.

It will presently be seen that Nena Sahib, whatever were his thoughts at
the time, did not depart, when the Revolt commenced, from his usual
demeanour towards the English; he was courteous to them, and was always
courteously saluted by them when he rode past.

How interesting it is—nay, how affecting—to trace the mode in which the
unfortunate Europeans at Cawnpore became gradually shut out from
communication with the external world; neither knowing what was
occurring east and west of them, nor able to communicate news of their
own sufferings! In May, messages and letters passed to and from them; in
June, authentic intelligence was superseded by painful rumours; in July,
a deadly silence was followed by a horrible revelation.

[Illustration:

  NENA SAHIB. From a picture painted at Bithoor in 1850, by Mr Beechy,
    portrait-painter to King of Oude.
]

When the Meerut and Delhi outbreaks occurred, the attention of the civil
and military authorities was turned to the importance of securing
Cawnpore: because of its native troops, its store of ammunition, its
large treasury, its considerable English population, and its position on
the Ganges and the great road. Sir Henry Lawrence, knowing that Sir Hugh
Wheeler’s force in European troops was weak, sent him fifty English
infantry in the third week in May, and also sent the aid (aid as it was
hoped to be) of two squadrons of Oude irregular horse. But Lucknow could
ill spare these armed men, and hence the telegrams already briefly
adverted to. First, Lawrence to Canning: ‘Cawnpore to be reinforced with
all speed. When may her Majesty’s 84th be expected?’ Then Canning to
Lawrence: ‘It is impossible to place a wing of Europeans at Cawnpore in
less time than twenty-five days.’ Then Wheeler to Canning: ‘All is quiet
here, but impossible to say how long it will continue so.’ Next a
telegram from Benares, announcing that every possible exertion would be
made to send on troops to Cawnpore as fast as they came from Calcutta.
Then, on the 25th, Wheeler telegraphed to Canning: ‘Passed anxious night
and day, in consequence of a report on very good authority that there
would be an outbreak during one or the other. All possible preparations
to meet it, but I rejoice to say that none occurred.’ On this, Lawrence
sent his earnest message recommending the establishment of ekah
dâks—anything at any expense—to carry troops on to Cawnpore. Towards the
close of the month, about seventy men of the Queen’s 84th reached the
city; and Sir Hugh telegraphed ‘All quiet:’ at the same time making very
evident the existence of anxiety on his mind concerning his prospects.
The governor-general telegraphed to him: ‘Your anxious position is well
understood; and no means have been neglected to give you aid.’ On
another day Sir Hugh telegraphed: ‘All quiet still, but I feel by no
means certain it will continue so. The civil and military are depending
entirely upon me for advice and assistance.’ He announced to Lawrence
that he had been obliged to send irregular cavalry to clear the roads of
insurgent ruffians; and added, ‘Europeans are arriving but very slowly
here.’ The dilemma and doubt were painful to all; for Viscount Canning
had few troops to send up from Calcutta, and no facilities for sending
them rapidly; while, on the other hand, he did not know that death had
cut off General Anson ere an advance could be made to Delhi and Cawnpore
from the northwest. Hence such telegrams as the following from Canning
to Anson: ‘Cawnpore and Lucknow are severely pressed, and the country
between Delhi and Cawnpore is passing into the hands of the rebels. It
is of the utmost importance to prevent this, and to relieve Cawnpore;
but nothing but rapid action will do this.... It is impossible to
overrate the importance of shewing European troops between Delhi and
Cawnpore.’ Sir Hugh Wheeler’s anxieties did not relate wholly to
Cawnpore; he knew that a wide region depended on that city for its
continuance in loyalty. By the 2d of June only ninety European troops
had reached him. On the next day he telegraphed that the population was
much excited, and that unfavourable reports were coming in from the
districts between Cawnpore and Lucknow. To make matters worse, Lawrence
was becoming weak at the last-named place, and Wheeler sent him
fifty-two of his highly cherished English troops—a number that shews how
precious, from its scarcity, this military element was regarded by the
two commanders. ‘This leaves me weak,’ said Wheeler; and well might he
say so. Then occurred the cutting of the telegraph wires on all sides of
Cawnpore, and the stoppage of the dâk-runners. After this, all was doubt
and mystery, for it was only by stealthy means that letters and messages
could leave or enter that city. By degrees there reached the Company’s
officers at Lucknow, Allahabad, and Benares, indirect news telling of
disaster—of a rebellious rising of the native troops at Cawnpore; of the
mutineers being aided and abetted by the Nena Sahib of Bithoor; of all
the Europeans taking refuge in an intrenched barrack; of the forlorn
band being regularly besieged in that spot; of terrible sufferings being
endured; and of the soldiers and civilians, the women and children,
being brought to death by numerous privations. The commissioner at
Benares, when these rumours of disaster reached him, telegraphed to
Calcutta: ‘May God Almighty defend Cawnpore; for no help can we afford.’
And so it was throughout June—Benares, Allahabad, Lucknow, Agra, all
were equally unable to send aid to the beleaguered garrison. Gradually
the messages became fewer, and the rumours darker; escaped fugitives and
native messengers came in stealthily to one or other of the neighbouring
towns; and men talked of a massacre at Cawnpore of English fugitives
from Futtehgur, of another massacre of English in boats bound for
Calcutta, of women and children placed in confinement, and of Nena
Sahib’s cruelty.

Such was the condition of Cawnpore as viewed from without, by those who
could necessarily know but little of the truth. Let us now enter and
trace the course of events as experienced by the sufferers themselves.

There is abundant evidence that, previous to the actual outbreak at
Cawnpore, the native troops—consisting of the 1st, 53d, and 56th B. N.
I., and the 2d native cavalry—were much agitated by the rumours of
mutiny elsewhere; and that the European inhabitants felt sensibly the
paucity of English soldiers at that place. A lady, the wife of the
magistrate and collector of Cawnpore—one of those who, with all her
family, were barbarously slaughtered in cold blood a few weeks
afterwards—writing to her friends on the 15th of May, said: ‘Cawnpore is
quiet, and the regiments here are stanch; but there is no saying that
they would remain long so if they came in contact with some of their
mutinous brethren. We have only about a hundred European soldiers here
altogether, and six guns.... Down-country, from Meerut to Dinapore,
there is but one regiment of Europeans, of which we have a hundred.’
Nevertheless, although the sepoys at Cawnpore were restless, an
impression prevailed that, even if they joined in the mutiny, and
marched off to Delhi, they would not inflict any injury on the military
commander, Sir Hugh Wheeler, or the other English officers, who were
much respected by them. The general thought it right to obtain correct
though secret information from spies who mixed among the men in the
cantonment; and these spies reported that the three infantry regiments,
except a few refractory sepoys, appeared well disposed towards the
government; whereas the 2d native cavalry, discontented and surly, had
sent their families to their homes, to be out of danger, and were in the
habit of holding nightly meetings or _punchayets_ (a kind of jury of
five persons, one of the Hindoo institutions of very ancient formation),
in their lines, to concert measures of insubordination. These troopers
endeavoured to bring over the foot regiments to a scheme for rising in
revolt, seizing the government treasure, marching off to Delhi, and
presenting that treasure to the newly restored Mogul as a token of their
allegiance. The European inhabitants were numerous; for they comprised
not only the officers and civilians with their families, but European
merchants, missionaries, engineers, pensioners, &c., and also many
nonresidents, who had either come to Cawnpore from parts of the country
supposed to be less protected, or had been stopped there on their way
up-country by the mutineers in the Doab. These, relying on the report
concerning the apparently favourable feeling among the native infantry,
made no immediate attempt to quit the place. Sir Hugh Wheeler, however,
did not deem it consistent with his duty to remain unprepared. Cawnpore
is built on a dead level, without stronghold or place of refuge, and
could not long be held against a rebel besieging force; the cantonment
was at a considerable distance; and the general resolved on making some
sort of defensive arrangement irrespective both of the city and the
cantonment. He secured sufficient boats to convey the whole of the
Europeans down the Ganges if danger should appear; and he formed a plan
for protection at night in an intrenched position. This stronghold, if
so it may be called, afterwards rendered memorable as ‘the
Intrenchment,’ was a square plot of ground on the grand military parade,
measuring about two hundred yards in each direction; within it were two
barrack hospitals, a few other buildings, and a well; while the boundary
was formed by a trench and parapet or breastwork of earth, intended to
be armed and defended in case of attack. The intrenchment was entirely
distinct both from the city and from the cantonment, and was further
from the Ganges than either of them, about a quarter of a mile out of
the Allahabad and Cawnpore high road. On the side of it furthest from
the river were several barracks in course of construction. It was not
intended that the European civilians should at once enter the
intrenchment, but that they should regard that spot as a place of
shelter in time of need. Sir Hugh brought into this place a supply of
grain, rice, salt, sugar, tea, coffee, rum, beer, &c., calculated at
thirty days’ consumption for one thousand persons. He gave orders to the
assistant-commissary to blow up the magazine if a mutiny should take
place; while the collector was instructed to convey all the Company’s
cash, estimated at ten or twelve lacs of rupees, from the treasury in
the city to the cantonment—an instruction which, as we shall see, he was
able only to obey in part. As another precaution, the executive
commissariat and pay-officers, with all their records and chests, were
removed into bungalows adjacent to the intrenchment. There is reason to
believe that the ringleaders among the native troops sought to terrify
the rest into mutiny by representing that the digging, which had been
seen actively in progress at the intrenchment, was the beginning of the
construction of a series of mines, intended to blow them all up.

One of the most painful considerations associated with these events in
May was, that the heartless man who afterwards wrought such misery was
trustingly relied upon as a friend. The magistrate’s wife, in a series
of letters before adverted to, wrote under date May 16th: ‘Should the
native troops here mutiny, we should either go into cantonments, or to a
place called Bithoor, where the Peishwa’s successor resides. He is a
great friend of C——‘s [the magistrate’s], and is a man of enormous
wealth and influence; and he has assured C—— that we should all be quite
safe there. I myself would much prefer going to the cantonment, to be
with the other ladies; but C—— thinks it would be better for me and our
precious children to be at Bithoor.’ Again, on the 18th: ‘If there
should be an outbreak here, dearest C—— has made all the necessary
arrangements for me and the children to go to Bithoor. He will go there
himself, and, with the aid of the rajah, to whose house we are going, he
will collect and head a force of fifteen hundred fighting-men, and bring
them into Cawnpore to take the insurgents by surprise. This is a plan of
their own, and is quite a secret; for the object of it is to come on the
mutineers unawares.’ Here, then, in the month of May, was Nena Sahib
plotting with the English against the mutineers. It was on the 20th that
Sir Hugh, rendered uneasy by the symptoms around, sent to Lucknow for
three hundred European soldiers; but as Sir Henry Lawrence could hardly
spare one-sixth of that number, arrangements were made for accommodating
as many English families as possible in the cantonment, and for fitting
up the intrenchment as a place of refuge. On the 21st, the magistrate,
with Wheeler’s consent, wrote to the Nena, begging him to send the aid
of a few of his Mahratta troops. The native soldiers being hutted in the
cantonment, and the few English soldiers barracked in the intrenchment,
it was speedily determined that—while the English officers should sleep
at the cantonment, to avoid shewing distrust of the native troops—their
wives and families, and most of the civilians, should remain at night in
the intrenchment, under protection of English soldiers. On the first
night of this arrangement, ‘there were an immense number of ladies and
gentlemen assembled in the intrenchment; and oh! what an anxious night
it was! The children added much to our distress and anxiety,’ said the
lady whose letters were lately quoted; ‘it was some hours before I could
get them to sleep. I did not lie down the whole night. Extraordinary it
was, and most providential too, that we had a thunderstorm that night,
with a good deal of rain, which cooled the air a little; had it not been
for this, we should have suffered much more.’ An English officer, in
relation to this same night, said: ‘Nearly all the ladies in the station
were roused out of their houses, and hurried off to the barracks. The
scene in the morning you can imagine. They were all huddled together in
a small building, just as they had left their houses. On each side were
the guns drawn up; the men had been kept standing by them all night
through the rain, expecting an instant attack. There are few people now
in the station but believe this attack had been intended, and had merely
been delayed on finding us so well prepared.’ On the last day of the
month—a day that seems to have ended all communication from this hapless
lady to her friends in England—she wrote: ‘We are now almost in a state
of siege. We sleep every night in a tent pitched by the barracks, with
guns behind and before. We are intrenched, and are busy getting in a
month’s provisions in case of scarcity. For the first four or five
nights, we scarcely closed our eyes.... Last night, the sepoys of the
1st regiment threatened to mutiny, and poor Mrs Ewart was in dreadful
distress when Colonel Ewart went to sleep in the lines, according to
orders; and he himself fully expected to be killed before morning; but,
thank God, all passed off quietly. The general remains in the barracks
day and night, to be at hand if anything should happen. We still pass
the day at the Ewarts’ house; but at night every one returns to the
barracks, which is a wretched place.... Poor Mrs —— has quite lost her
reason from terror and excitement. Oh! it is a hard trial to bear, and
almost too much; but the sight of the children gives us strength and
courage.’

Colonel Ewart, mentioned in the above paragraph, and Major Hillersdon,
were the commandants of the 1st and 53d native regiments, respectively;
they lived in pleasant bungalows outside Cawnpore; but at this perilous
time they slept near their men in the cantonment, while their families
took refuge within the intrenchment. Mrs Ewart—destined, like the
magistrate’s wife, to be in a few weeks numbered among the outraged and
slaughtered—wrote like her of the miseries of their position, even at
that early period of their privation. Speaking of the interior of the
intrenchment, she said: ‘We have a tent, which is, of course, more
private and comfortable for the night; and at present there is no
occasion to spend days as well as nights there, though many people do
so. This is fortunate, since the weather is fearfully hot. God grant
that we may not be exposed to such suffering as a confinement within
that intrenchment must entail; even should we be able to bear it, I know
not how our poor little ones could go through the trial.’ The general
feelings of the English in the place towards the close of May cannot be
better conveyed than in the following words: ‘We are living face to face
with great and awful realities—life and property most insecure, enemies
within our camp, treachery and distrust everywhere. We can scarcely
believe in the change which has so suddenly overcast all the pleasant
repose and enjoyment of life. We are almost in a state of siege, with
dangers all around us—some seen, some hidden.... Major Hillersdon joins
us daily at our four o’clock dinner, and we stay together till half-past
seven, when we go to our melancholy night-quarters, behind guns and
intrenchments. My husband betakes himself to his couch in the midst of
his sepoys; and you can fancy the sort of nights we have to pass. These
are real trials, but we have not experienced much actual physical
suffering yet.’ In another letter she further described the intrenchment
and barracks as they were at night: ‘We returned to those melancholy
night-quarters. Oh, such a scene! Men, officers, women and children,
beds and chairs, all mingled together inside and outside the barracks;
some talking or even laughing, some very frightened, some defiant,
others despairing. Such sickening sights these for peaceful women; and
the miserable reflection that all is caused not by open foes, but by the
treachery of those we had fed and pampered, honoured and trusted, for so
many years.’ Colonel Ewart, in probably the last letter received from
him by his friends in England, wrote on the 31st: ‘The treasury,
containing some ten or twelve lacs of rupees, is situated five miles
from the cantonment. It has hitherto been thought inexpedient to bring
the treasure into the cantonment; but the general has now resolved on
making the attempt to-morrow. Please God, he will succeed. He is an
excellent officer, very determined, self-possessed in the midst of
danger, fearless of responsibility—that terrible bugbear that paralyses
so many men in command.’ This was the character generally given to Sir
Hugh Wheeler, who was much liked and trusted. The state of suspense in
which the officers themselves were placed, not knowing whether revolt
and outrage would speedily mark the conduct of regiments that had up to
that moment remained faithful, was well expressed in a letter written by
one of the infantry officers: ‘I only wish that I might get orders to go
out with my regiment, or alone with my company, against some of the
mutineers; so that we could put the men to the test, and see whether
they really mean to stick to us or not, and end this state of suspense.’

Numerous scraps of local information, portions of letters, diaries,
conversations, and scarcely intelligible messages, in English,
Hindustani, and Persian, help to make up the materials out of which
alone a connected narrative of the events at Cawnpore can be prepared.
These would all have been very insufficient, had it not fortunately
happened that an officer of the Company, an educated man, lived to
record upon paper his experience of four weeks spent in the
intrenchment, and three subsequent weeks of imprisonment in the city.
This was Mr Shepherd, belonging to the commissariat department. How his
life was saved, and how those dear to him were savagely butchered, will
be seen further on; at present, it will suffice to remark that he lived
to prepare, for the information of the government, a record of all he
knew on this dreadful subject; and that the record thus prepared
contains more information than any other brought to light amid that
dismal wreck of human hopes and human existence.

When the month of June opened, symptoms became so unfavourable that the
non-military Christian residents thought it expedient to move from the
city, and obtain shelter in the English church and other buildings near
the intrenchment. Day after day small portions of cash, and Company’s
papers of various kinds, were brought by the commissariat officers to
head-quarters. The collector, acting on Sir Hugh’s instructions, had
endeavoured to bring the Company’s treasure from the city to the
intrenchment; but he met too much opposition to enable him to effect
this, save in part; and the aid of three or four hundred men was
obtained from Nena Sahib, to guard the treasury and its contents. What
was passing through the heart of that treacherous man at the time, none
but himself could know; but the English officers, whether forgetful or
not of his grudge against the Company, seem to have acted as though they
placed reliance on him. On the 3d, it being thought improper to keep any
public money under the sepoy guard at the office, the commissariat
treasure-chest, containing about thirty-four thousand rupees in cash,
together with numerous papers and account-books, was brought into the
intrenchment, and placed in the quarter-guard there. In short, nothing
was deemed safe by Wheeler and the other officials, unless it was under
their own immediate care.

[Illustration:

  The Intrenchment at Cawnpore.
]

On the 5th of June arrived the crisis which was to tax to the utmost the
firmness and courage, the tact and discrimination, the kindness and
thoughtfulness, of the general on whom so many lives now depended. He
had appealed, and appealed in vain, for reinforcements from other
quarters: no one possessed troops that could readily be sent to him; and
he had therefore to meet his troubles manfully, with such resources as
were at hand. At two o’clock in the morning, after a vain attempt to
draw the native infantry from their allegiance, the 2d cavalry rose in a
body, gave a great shout, mounted their horses, set fire to the bungalow
of their quarter-master-sergeant, and took possession of thirty-six
elephants in the commissariat cattle-yard. The main body then marched
off towards Nawabgunge; while the ringleaders remained behind to assail
once more the honesty of the infantry. The 1st regiment N. I. yielded to
the temptation, and marched out of the lines about three o’clock; but
before doing so, the sepoys shewed a lingering affection for the English
officers of the regiment; those officers had for some time been in the
habit of sleeping in the quarter-guard of the regiment, to indicate
their confidence in the men; and now the men begged them—nay, forced
them—to go into the intrenchment, as a means of personal safety. An
alarm gun was fired, and all the non-combatants were brought from the
church-compound into the intrenchment—a necessary precaution, for
burning bungalows were seen in various directions. A few days
previously, a battery of Oude horse-artillery had been sent from Lucknow
by Lawrence to aid Wheeler at Cawnpore; and this battery was, about
seven o’clock on the eventful morning of the 5th, ordered with a company
of English troops to pursue the two mutinous regiments. But here a
dilemma at once presented itself. Could the 53d and 56th regiments be
relied upon? Sir Hugh thought not; and therefore he countermanded the
order for the pursuit of the other two regiments. The wisdom of this
determination was soon shewn; for about ten o’clock the whole of the
native officers of the 53d and 56th came to the general and announced
that their hold over the fidelity of the men was gone. While they were
yet speaking, a bugle was heard, and the two regiments were seen to
march off to join their companions at Nawabgunge; any attempt on the
English being checked by the pointing of a gun at them. The apparently
faithful native officers were directed to organise a few stragglers who
had not joined the mutineers; they left the intrenchment for this
purpose, but did not return: whether they joined in the revolt, or went
quietly to their own homes to avoid the resentment of the sepoys, was
not fully known. As soon as possible, carts were sent to the cantonment
to bring away the sick from the hospital, and such muskets and other
property as might be useful. In consequence of this, the two hospitals
or barracks in the intrenchment became very much crowded, many of the
people being compelled to sleep in the open air through want of room.
All the civilians were then armed, and directed what they should do for
the common good. The Oude artillery, shewing signs of being smitten by
the prevailing mania for revolt, were disarmed and dismissed that same
evening.

[Illustration:

  Plan of Sir H. Wheeler’s Intrenchment at Cawnpore. From an official
    survey.
]

The scene must now be shifted, to shew Nena Sahib’s share in the work.
Rumours came to the intrenchment that when the rebels reached
Nawabgunge, he quitted Bithoor and came out to meet them; that he placed
himself at their head; that they all went together to the treasury; that
he carried off a large amount of government treasure on the government
elephants; and that he gave up the rest to the sepoys as a prize.
Thereupon the papers were burnt, and the treasury and the collector’s
office destroyed. The sepoys guarding the magazine would not allow that
building to be blown up by the government officer; the mutineers brought
as many country carts as they could procure, and carried off a
considerable quantity of baggage and ammunition. All then marched off to
Kullianpore, being one stage on the road to Delhi, except a few troopers
who remained to finish the work of destruction among the bungalows. The
Oude artillery, lately disarmed and dismissed by Wheeler, now went to
Nena Sahib, and laid before him a plan for attacking the intrenchment,
concerning which they were able to give much information. They reported
that the cantonment contained many guns, and much powder and ammunition,
with which the intrenchment might safely be attacked. There was another
fact favourable to the rebels. One end of the great Ganges Canal enters
the river near Cawnpore; and it had been contemplated by the government
to send a large store of shot and shell by that canal up to Roorkee,
through Allygurh and Meerut; but as the Doab and Rohilcund were in too
disturbed a state to permit this, thirty-five boats laden with shot and
shell were this day lying in the canal near the cantonment. This large
store of ammunition the rebel artillerymen suggested should be at once
seized; and the advice was acted on. A native inhabitant, who afterwards
gave information to the English, said that when the Nena openly took
part with the rebels, he released four hundred prisoners in the town,
whose fetters he ordered to be knocked off; ‘and having opened the door
of the armoury, he gave the order that whatever prisoner was willing to
follow him should arm himself with gun, pistol, or sword, as he liked
best’—a story highly probable, though not within the power of Mr
Shepherd to confirm. Before the Nena finally committed himself to a
course of rebellion and war, the 1st native infantry made their head
subadar a general; and the general then promoted all the havildars and
naiks to be subadars and jemadars.

Two officers of the 56th regiment were fortunate enough to be away from
Cawnpore and the cantonment altogether, on the day of the mutiny. They
had been sent with two hundred men to Ooral, a village or town at some
distance, on the 2d of June. When that regiment mutinied at the
cantonment, and when the news of the mutiny reached Ooral, the two
hundred did not long delay in following their example. The officers,
seeing their danger, at once galloped off, taking nothing with them but
the clothes on their backs, and their swords and revolvers. Their tale
was as full of adventure as many that have already occupied these pages.
They found their way to Calpee, to Humeerpoor, to various places; they
met with two brother-officers escaping from mutineers at Humeerpoor; the
four rowed boats, swam rivers, entered villages where they were
plundered of their weapons and clothes, roamed through jungles, fed on
chupatties and water when they could obtain such fare, picked up bits of
native clothing, encountered friendly Hindoos at one time and marauding
enemies at another. Of the two officers from Cawnpore, one died mad in
the jungle, from heat, thirst, and suffering; but the other, Ensign
Browne, joined the body of English troops at Futtehpoor, after
thirty-seven days of wandering. All the other English officers of the
four native regiments appear to have been at or near Cawnpore at the
time of the outbreak; and all were called upon to bear their bitter
share in the woes that followed—woes rendered more distressing by
falling equally on innocent women and children as on themselves—nay,
much more heavily.

The sun rose upon an anxious scene on the 6th of June. Sir Hugh Wheeler
and nearly all the Europeans—men, women, and children—military,
civilians, and servants—were crowded within the intrenchment; while the
rebel troops, four regiments and an artillery battery, had not only
abandoned their allegiance, but were about to besiege those who were
lately their masters. The rebels brought into requisition all the
government work-people and the bullocks, in the town and cantonment, to
drag guns into position near the intrenchment, and to convey thither a
store of powder and ammunition. They brought six guns (two of them
18-pounders) to bear in a line, and opened fire about ten o’clock in the
forenoon. Instantly a bugle sounded within the intrenchment; and every
man, from the highest officers down to the clerks and the drummers, flew
to arms, and took up the position assigned to him. There was only a
breast-high earthen parapet, bounded by a small trench, between the
besiegers and the besieged: hence there was nothing but indomitable
courage and unceasing watchfulness that could enable the English to hold
their own against the treacherous native troops. Here, then, were nine
hundred persons[17] hemmed into a small space, forming their citadel,
while the surrounding country was wholly in the hands of the rebels. Out
of the nine hundred, barely one-third were fighting-men; while
considerably more than one-third were women and children, to be fed and
protected at all hazards. The few guns within the intrenchment answered
those from without; but all the men not employed with those guns
crouched down behind the breastwork, under the hot wind and scorching
sun of a June day, ready to defend the spot with musketry if a nearer
attack were made. The rebels did not attempt this; they adopted the
safer course of bringing up their guns nearer to the beleaguered place.
Sir Hugh Wheeler had eight pieces of ordnance—two brass guns of the Oude
battery, two long 9-pounders, and four smaller; he had also a good store
of ammunition, buried underground, and had thus a defensive power of
some importance. On the other hand, his anxieties were great; for one of
the two buildings (they had been used as hospitals for European troops)
was thatched, liable to be fired by a chance shot; the commissariat
officers were unable to bring in more supplies; the shelter was
direfully insufficient for nine hundred persons in a fierce Indian
climate; and the women and children could do little or nothing to assist
in the defence of all.

The native informant, above adverted to, states that when Nena Sahib
found the mutineers about to depart to Delhi, ‘he represented to the
native officers that it would not be correct to proceed towards Delhi
until they had entirely destroyed the officers and European soldiers,
and women and children of the Christian religion; and that they should,
if possible, by deceiving the officers, accomplish this grand object, or
they would be good for nothing.’ Such words were certainly consistent
with the machinations of a villain who sought a terrible revenge for
some injury, real or pretended; but they do not the less illustrate the
remarkable subtlety and secretiveness of the Hindoo character, so long
concealing a deadly hatred under a friendly exterior. This same native,
who was in Cawnpore at the time, further said: ‘In the city it was as if
the day of judgment had come, when the sepoys of the infantry and the
troopers of the cavalry, the jingling of whose sword-scabbards and the
tread of whose horses’ feet resounded on all sides, proceeded with guns
of various sizes, and ammunition, from the magazine through the suburbs
of Cawnpore towards the intrenchment.’ In relation to the conduct of
native servants of the Company on that day, Mr Shepherd said: ‘None of
the native writers, Bengalees and others in government offices or
merchants’ employ, went into the intrenchment; they remained in the
city, where they appear to have received much annoyance from the
mutineers; and some had to hide themselves to save their lives. The
(native) commissariat contractors’ [those who supplied provisions and
stores for the troops, ordered and paid for by the head commissary] ‘all
discontinued their supplies from the 6th; or rather, were unable to
bring them in, from the way the mutineers surrounded the intrenchment on
all sides, permitting no ingress or egress at any time except under
cover of night.’ Those natives must, in truth, have been placed in a
perplexing position, between employers whom they wished to serve but
could not, and rebels who sought to tamper with their honesty.

Another day broke, revealing a further strengthening of the rebels’
attack. They increased their number of guns, four of which were
24-pounders; and with the shot from these guns not only were many
valuable men struck down, but the walls and verandahs of the hospitals
pierced, spreading terror among the helpless inmates. There was but one
well within the intrenchment; and so hot was the fire from without,
that, to use the words of Mr Shepherd, ‘it was as much as giving a man’s
life-blood to go and draw a bucket of water; and while there was any
water remaining in the large jars, usually kept in the verandah for the
soldiers’ use, nobody ventured to the well; but after the second day,
the demand became so great that a bheestee bag of water was with
difficulty got for five rupees, and a bucket for a rupee. Most of the
servants deserted, and it therefore became a matter of necessity for
every person to fetch his own water, which was usually done during the
night, when the enemy could not well direct their shots.’ What was the
degree of thirst borne under these circumstances, none but the forlorn
garrison could ever know. As there was no place under which to shelter
live cattle, some of the animals were let loose, and others slaughtered;
entailing a necessary exhaustion of meat-rations after three or four
days. The commissariat servants, however, now and then managed to get
hold of a stray bullock or cow near the intrenchment at night, which
served for a change. Not only was it difficult to obtain suitable food
to eat, but the native servants took every opportunity to escape, and
the cooking was in consequence conducted under very sorry conditions.

The tale of accumulated suffering need not, and indeed cannot, be
followed day by day: several days must be grouped together, and the
general character of the incidents noted—so far as authentic recitals
furnish the materials. Meat, as has just been intimated, soon became
scarce; hogsheads of rum and malt liquor were frequently burst by
cannon-balls, but the supply still remained considerable; chupatties and
rice were the chief articles of food for all. The English found their
troubles increase in every way: the rebels at first fired only cannon on
them; but by degrees, after burning the English church and all other
buildings around and near the intrenchment, the sepoys masked themselves
behind the ruined walls, and kept up an almost incessant fire of
musketry, shooting down many who might have escaped the cannon-balls.
There were seven unfinished barracks outside the intrenchment, three of
them at about a furlong distance. These were scenes of many an exciting
encounter. Captain Moore of the 32d foot, a gallant and intrepid
officer, often encountered the rebels near those places. He would send
some of his men, with field-telescopes, to watch the position of the
enemy’s guns, from the roof of one of the barracks, as a guidance for
the besieged; and as soon as these men were attacked, a handful of
gallant companions would rush out of the intrenchment, and drive off the
assailants with a fire of musketry. The enemy having no cannon on this
side, a sort of drawn battle ensued: the besiegers holding three or four
of the barracks, and the besieged maintaining a hold of the three
nearest to the intrenchment After a while, the enemy brought one gun
round to this quarter; but twenty English made a sortie at midnight on
the 11th, spiked the gun, and returned safely. Whenever fighting on
anything like terms of equality took place, the European troops proved
themselves a match for many times their number of natives; but any
daring achievements for effectual liberation were rendered nugatory by
the presence of so many helpless women and children, whose safety was
the first thought in the minds of the men, whether civilians or
military. Numbers of the poor creatures died within the first week, from
illness, heat, fright, want of room, want of proper food and care. In
the obituary of many an English newspaper, when news of the terrible
calamity had crossed the ocean, might be read that such a one, probably
an officer’s wife, had ‘died in the intrenchment at Cawnpore;’ what that
intrenchment meant, few readers knew, and fewer knew what sufferings had
preceded the death. The dead bodies were thrown into a well outside the
intrenchment, lest they should engender disease by any mode of burial
within the crowded and stifling enclosure; and even this sad office
could only be rendered under a shower of shot and shell. ‘The distress
was so great,’ says Mr Shepherd, ‘that none could offer a word of
consolation to his friend, or attempt to administer to the wants of each
other. I have seen the dead bodies of officers, and tenderly brought-up
young ladies of rank (colonels’ and captains’ daughters), put outside
the verandah amongst the rest, to await the time when the fatigue-party
usually went round to carry the dead to the well; for there was scarcely
room to shelter the living.’

During all these days, Cawnpore itself, and the country between it and
the intrenchment, became prey to a marauding host of sepoys, liberated
prisoners, and ruffians of every kind. The native before adverted to,
one Nujeer Jewarree, referring to this period, said: ‘In whatever shop
the sepoys entered to ask for sugar or rice, they plundered everything
belonging to the citizen that they could find; so much so, that plunder
and oppression were the order of the day. Every violent man did what
came into his mind; and the troopers got possession of a note, the value
of which amounted to twenty-five thousand rupees, belonging to
Eman-u-Dowlah and Bakir Ali. One troop, or thereabouts, left the
cantonment and proceeded to the buildings in which the civil and revenue
and judicial courts were held, and commenced firing them. In the city
and gardens there was so much villainy committed that travelling became
dangerous, and to kill a man was quite easy. They (the marauders)
committed deeds of oppression and plundered each other; some forcibly
cut the grain out of the fields, and others were occupied in picking up
plundered property. He then spoke of the houses and offices of certain
English merchants and traders—Greenway, Crump, Mackintosh, Reid,
Marshall, Kirk, &c.—and of the ‘lacs’ of treasure that were plundered
from each; too vaguely estimated to be relied on in detail, but
evidently denoting a scene of unscrupulous pillage. Another native,
Nerput, presently to be noticed more particularly, said: ‘Zemindars of
the neighbourhood are fighting among themselves in payment of old
quarrels; sepoys, making for their homes with plundered treasure, have
been deprived of their plunder, and, if any opposition is made,
immediately murdered. Such few Europeans as had remained beyond the
intrenchment, were caught and put to death.’

The native authority just referred to states (although the statement is
not confirmed by Mr Shepherd), that on the 9th of June Sir Hugh Wheeler
sent a message to Nena Sahib, demanding why he had thus turned against
the English, who had hitherto been treated by him in a friendly spirit;
and why he was causing the death of innocent women and children—to which
the Nena gave no other reply than from the cannon’s mouth.

One day was so much like another, after the actual commencement of the
siege, that the various narrators make little attempt to record the
particular events of each. Every day brought its miseries, until the cup
nearly overflowed. The food was lessening; the water was difficult to
obtain; strength was sinking; lives were being rapidly lost; the
miscreant rebels were accumulating in greater and greater number outside
the intrenchment; the two buildings were becoming every day more and
more riddled with shot; the wounded had their wretchedness increased by
the absence of almost everything needful to the comfort of the sick; the
hearts of the men were wrung with anguish at seeing the sufferings borne
by the women; and the women found their resolution and patience terribly
shaken when they saw their innocent little ones dying from disease and
want.

A scene was presented on the 13th that filled every one with horror. The
officers and their families had hitherto lived chiefly in tents, within
the intrenchment; but the rebels now began to fire _red-hot_ shot, which
not only necessitated the removal of the tents, but ignited the
thatch-roof of one of the two hospitals. This building contained the
wives and children of the common soldiers, and the sick and wounded. The
flames spread so rapidly, and the dire confusion among the wretched
creatures was such, that forty of the helpless invalids were burned to
death before aid could reach them. The rebels appeared to have
calculated on all the men within the intrenchment rushing to save the
victims from the flames, leaving the besiegers to enter with musket and
sword; and so threatening was the attack, so close the approach of the
enemy, that the Europeans were forced to remain watchful at their frail
earthen defence-work, despite their wish to rescue the shrieking
sufferers in the hospital. Nearly all the medicines and the surgical
instruments were at the same time destroyed by the fire, affording a
hopeless prospect to those who might afterwards fall ill or be wounded.
The rebels by this time amounted to four thousand in number, and their
attacks increased in frequency and closeness; but the besieged had not
yielded an inch; every man within the intrenchment, a few only excepted,
was intrusted with five or six muskets, all of which were kept ready
loaded, to pour a fire into any insurgents who advanced within
musket-shot. Bayonets and swords were also ready at hand, for those who
could use them. The condition of every one was rendered more deplorable
than before by this day’s calamity; the fire had wrought such mischief
that many of the men, who had until then occasionally sheltered
themselves under a roof for a few hours at a time, were now forced to
remain permanently in the open air, exposed to a fierce Indian sun at a
date only one week before the summer solstice. That many were struck
down by _coup de soleil_ at such a time may well be conceived. The poor
ladies, too, and the wives of the soldiers, were rendered more desolate
and comfortless than ever, by the destruction of much of their clothing
during the fire, as well as of many little domestic comforts which they
had contrived to bring with them in their hurried flight from their
homes in the city or the cantonment.

What transpired outside the intrenchment, none of the captives knew; and
even at later times it was difficult to ascertain the real truth. The
native chronicler already referred to speaks of many deeds of cruelty,
but without affording means of verification. On one day, he says, a
family was seen approaching from the west in a carriage; the husband was
at once killed; the others, ‘one lady and one grown-up young lady and
three children,’ were brought before the Nena, who ordered them to be
instantly put to death. ‘The lady begged the Nena to spare her life; but
this disgraceful man would not in any way hearken to her, and took them
all into the plain. At that time the sun was very hot, and the lady
said: “The sun is very hot, take me into the shade;” but no one
listened. On four sides the children were catching hold of their
mother’s gown and saying: “Mamma, come to the bungalow and give me some
bread and water.” At length, having been tied hand to hand, and made to
stand up on the plain, they were shot down by pistol-bullets.’ This
story, touching amid all its quaintness of recital, was probably quite
true in its main features. Another lady, whom he calls the wife of Mukan
Sahib, merchant, and who had been hiding for four or five days in the
garden of her bungalow, ‘came out one evening, and was discovered. She
had through fear changed her appearance by putting on an Hindustani
bodice, and folding a towel around her head. She was taken before the
Nena, who ordered her to be killed. The writer of this journal having
gone in person, saw the head of that lady cut off, and presented as a
nazir (gift of royalty).’ There can be no question that the vicinity of
Cawnpore was at that time in a frightful state. Not only were mutinous
sepoys and sowars engaged in hostilities against the ‘Feringhees,’ whom
they had so lately served, and whose ‘salt’ they had eaten; but many of
the ambitious petty rajahs and chieftains took advantage of the anarchy
to become leaders on their own special account; plunderers and released
prisoners were displaying all their ferocious recklessness; while timid,
sneaking villagers, too cowardly to be openly aggressive, were in many
instances quite willing to look complacently at deeds of savage
brutality, if those deeds might leave a little _loot_, or plunder, as
their share. Consequently, when any English refugees from other towns
passed that way, their chance of safety was small indeed.

Before tracing the course of events in the intrenchment during the third
week in June, we must advert to another calamity. The griefs and
sufferings endured by the English soldiers and residents at Cawnpore did
not fill up the measure of Nena Sahib’s iniquity. Another stain rests on
his name in connection with the fate of an unfortunate body of fugitives
from Futteghur. It is an episode in the great Cawnpore tragedy; and must
be narrated in this place, in connection with the events of the month.

Futteghur, as will be seen by reference to a map, is situated higher up
the Ganges than Cawnpore, near Furruckabad. Practically, it is not so
much a distinct town, as the military station or cantonment for the
place last named. Furruckabad itself is a city of sixty thousand
inhabitants; handsome, cleaner, and more healthy than most Indian
cities, carrying on a considerable trading and banking business, and
standing in the centre of a fertile and cultivated region. It has no
other fortifications than a sort of mud-fort connected with the native
nawab’s residence. When this nawab became, like many others, a
stipendiary of the modern rulers of India, the British built a military
cantonment at Futteghur, about three miles distant, on the right bank of
the river. Towards the close of May, Futteghur contained the 10th
regiment Bengal native infantry, together with a few other native
troops. Among the chief English officers stationed there, were General
Goldie, Colonels Smith and Tucker; Majors Robertson, Phillot, and Munro;
Captains Phillimore and Vibert; Lieutenants Simpson, Swettenham, and
Fitzgerald; and Ensigns Henderson and Eckford. The troops displayed much
insubordination as the month closed; and on the 3d of June the symptoms
were so threatening, that it was deemed prudent to arrange for sending
off the women and children for safety to Cawnpore—in ignorance that the
Europeans in that city were in a still more perilous state. Boats had
already been procured, and held in readiness for any such exigency. On
the next day the 10th infantry exhibited such ominous signs of mutiny,
that a large party of the English at once took to their boats. After a
short voyage, finding the natives on the banks of the Ganges likely to
be troublesome, the fugitives resolved on separating themselves into two
parties; one, headed by Mr Probyn, the Company’s collector, and
consisting of about forty persons, sought refuge with a friendly
zemindar named Herden Buksh, living about twelve miles from Futteghur,
on the Oude side of the river; while the other party proceeded on the
voyage down the Ganges to Cawnpore. This last-named party amounted to
more than a hundred and twenty persons, nearly all non-combatants;
missionaries, merchants, indigo planters, estate stewards, agents,
collectors, clerks, shopkeepers, schoolmasters, post and dâk agents—such
were the male members of this hapless band of fugitives; most of them
had wives; and the children far exceeded the adults in number. It is
pitiable, knowing as we now know the fate that was in store for them, to
read such entries as the following, in a list of the occupants of the
boats—‘Mr and Mrs Elliott and five children;’ ‘Mr and Mrs Macklin and
eight children;’ ‘Mr and Mrs Palmer and nine children.’

So few persons survived from Futteghur, that it is not certain at what
places and on what days they separated into parties; nor how many lives
were lost on the way; but there is evidence that while some pursued
their way down the Ganges without much interruption until they reached
Bithoor, others went back to Futteghur. This retrograde movement was due
to two causes; for while, on the one hand, the officers trusted to a
report that the sepoys had returned to a sense of their duty; Herden
Buksh, on the other, was threatened by the Oude mutineers if he
harboured any of the English. We will follow the fortunes of this second
party. From about the 12th to the 18th of June there was a lull in the
station; but on the last-named day the 10th infantry broke out in
earnest, and being joined by the mutinous 41st from the other side of
the Ganges, seized the treasure and threatened the officers. There were
about a hundred Europeans now in the place; and as the river was at the
time too low to render a boat-voyage to Cawnpore safe, it was resolved
to defend a post or fort at Futteghur, and there remain till succour
arrived. Out of the hundred there were scarcely more than thirty
fighting-men, so numerous were the women and children; nevertheless,
Colonel Smith, of the 10th, organised the whole, and prepared for the
worst. He had a fair store both of ammunition and of food within the
fort. Until the 4th of July they maintained a manly struggle against the
mutineers, holding their fort until they could hold it no longer.
Colonel Tucker and one of the civil officers were shot in the head while
acting as artillerymen; General Goldie was slightly wounded, as was
likewise one of his daughters; and many other casualties occurred. The
besieged had great difficulty in making a covered-way to protect their
servants, to enable them to pass to and fro with the meals for the
ladies and children, who were collected in a room or godown overlooked
by a two-storied house held by the insurgents. Then commenced a voyage
full of miseries, in boats that contained all the Europeans still
remaining at that spot. First the rebels fired on the boats as they
rowed along; then one of the boats ran aground; then a boatful of rebels
approached, and the ladies in the stranded boat jumped overboard to
avoid capture. Death by bullets, death by drowning, took place every
hour; and the fugitives were thrown into such dire confusion that none
could help the rest. Some crept on shore, and wandered about the fields
to escape detection; others found shelter under friendly roofs; one
boat-load succeeded in prosecuting their voyage down to Cawnpore, or
rather Bithoor.

There were thus two sets of Futteghur fugitives; one that reached the
clutches of the Nena towards the middle of June; the other, much
smaller, that was spared that fate until the middle of July. So complete
was the destruction of both, however; so sweeping the death-stroke
hurled against them by Nena Sahib, that the details of their fate have
been but imperfectly recorded. Towards the close of June, Mr Court and
Colonel Neill, at Allahabad, received information touching the events at
Cawnpore from a native named Nerput, an opium _gomashta_ or agent at the
last-named city; he gave them or sent them a narrative written in
Persian, portions of which were afterwards translated and published
among the official papers. Nerput was one of the few who wrote
concerning the arrival of the first party of Futteghur fugitives at
Cawnpore. Under the date of June the 12th he said: ‘Report that
Europeans were coming in boats to relieve Cawnpore; and two companies
sent westward to make inquiries. They found that a hundred and
twenty-six men, women, and children, were in boats, sick.’ Another
narrative of the Futteghur calamity simply states, that when the unhappy
fugitives arrived at the part of the Ganges opposite Bithoor, Nena Sahib
‘stopped their boats, brought the fugitives on shore, and shot every
one. He then tied their bodies together, and threw them into the river.’
A native resident at Cawnpore, who was examined a few weeks afterwards
by Colonel Neill concerning his knowledge of the atrocities committed by
the rajah, and of the sufferings borne by the English, gave an account
of the Futteghur catastrophe corresponding nearly with those derived
from other quarters. He states that on the 12th of June, just as the
customary daily cannonading of the intrenchment was about to recommence,
a report came in that Europeans were approaching from the west.
Immediately a troop of cavalry and two companies of infantry were sent
to reconnoitre (probably to the vicinity of Bithoor). There were found
three boats, containing about a hundred and thirty men, women, and
children. ‘The troopers seized them all and took them to the Nena, who
ordered that they should all be killed; and sundry Rampoorie troopers of
the Mussulmans of the 2d Cavalry, whom the Nena kept with him for the
express purpose, killed them all. Among them was a young lady, the
daughter of some general. She addressed herself much to the Nena, and
said: “No king ever committed such oppression as you have, and in no
religion is there any order to kill women and children. I do not know
what has happened to you. Be well assured that by this slaughter the
English will not become less; whoever may remain will have an eye upon
you.” But the Nena paid no attention, and shewed her no mercy; he
ordered that she should be killed, and that they should fill her hands
with powder and kill her by the explosion.’

The fate of the second party of fugitives from Futteghur will be noticed
presently. We must return now to the unfortunate occupants of the
intrenchment at Cawnpore.

When three weeks of the month of June had transpired, the rebels, joined
by a number of ruffians who had crossed over the Ganges from Oude, made
a more determined effort than ever to capture the intrenchment; they had
made the subadar-major of the 1st N. I. a sort of general over them; and
he swore to vanquish the weakened garrison, or die in the attempt. They
brought large bales of cotton, which they rolled along the ground, and
approached in a crouching position under cover of these bales, firing
their muskets at intervals. About a hundred sepoys thus advanced within
a hundred and fifty yards of the intrenchment, backed up by a strong
body, who seemed bent on storming the position. In this, as in every
former attempt, they failed; their leader was struck down, nearly two
hundred were killed or wounded by a fire of grape-shot, and the rest
driven back to their former distance. At the very same time, contests
were maintained on all sides of the enclosure; for what with musketeers
in the unfinished barracks, guns and mortars in four different
directions, and rifle-pits approached under cover of zigzags, the rebels
maintained a tremendous fire upon the besieged. Wheeler’s guns, under a
gallant young officer, St George Ashe, were manned at all hours, loaded
and fired with great quickness and precision, and pointed in such
directions as might produce most mischief among the enemy. But the
contest was unequal in this as in most other particulars; one gun after
another was disabled by the more powerful artillery of the
insurgents—until the eight were reduced to six, then to four, three, and
at last two. As the forlorn garrison became weaker and weaker, so did
the heroic men redouble their exertions in defence. One day a shot from
the enemy blew up an ammunition-wagon within the intrenchment; and then
it became a question of terrible import how to prevent the other wagons
from being ignited. Lieutenant Delafosse, a young officer of the once
trusted but now disloyal 53d, ran forward, laid himself down under the
wagons, picked up and threw aside the burning fragments, and covered the
flaming portions with handfuls of earth—all the while subject to a
fearful cannonading from a battery of six guns, aimed purposely by the
enemy at that spot! Two soldiers ran to him, with two buckets of water;
and all three succeeded in rescuing the other ammunition-wagons from
peril, and in returning from the dangerous spot in safety.

Unspeakable must have been the misery of those nine hundred persons—or
rather, nine hundred wofully diminished by deaths—after twenty days of
this besieging. The hospitals were so thoroughly riddled with shot, and
so much injured by the fire, as to afford little or no shelter; and yet
the greater portion of the non-combatants remained in them rather than
be exposed to the scorching glare of the sun outside. Some made holes
for themselves behind the earthen parapet that bounded the intrenchment;
these holes were covered with boxes, cots, &c., and whole families of
wretched beings resided in them—more after the fashion of the Bushmen of
Africa, than of Christian civilised people. Apoplexy struck down many in
these fearfully heated abodes. At night, all the men had to mount guard
and keep watch in turn; and the women and children, to be near their
male protectors in the hour of trouble, slept near them behind the
parapet—or rather they tried to sleep; but the bomb-shells vomited forth
from three mortars employed by the enemy, kept the terrified people in
an agony that ‘murdered sleep;’ and thus the existence of the women and
children was spent in perpetual fear. The soldiers had their food
prepared by the few remaining cooks; but all the rest shifted for
themselves in the best way they could; and it was often difficult, for
those who received their scanty rations of rice and grain, to provide a
mouthful of cooked victuals for themselves and their children. Money
would hardly, one would suppose, be thought of at such a time and place;
yet it appears that the richer bought with money the services of the
poorer, at a rupee or two per meal, for cooking. The innumerable
troubles and distresses felt by all were deepened at the sight of the
sick and wounded, to whom it was now utterly impossible to render proper
assistance. The stench, too, from the dead bodies of horses and other
animals that had been shot in the enclosure and could not be removed,
added to the loathsomeness of the place. Oppressed as they were with
heat, the English nevertheless dreaded the setting in of the rains; for
one single day of Indian rain would have converted the earthen abodes of
the poor people into pools of water, deluged the shot-riddled buildings,
and rendered the muskets useless. Nothing can better denote the
extraordinary scene of ruin and devastation which the interior of the
intrenchment must have presented, than the descriptions given a few
weeks afterwards by English officers concerned in the recovery of
Cawnpore. Or rather, it would be more correct to say, that those
descriptions, by relating only to the intrenchment when deserted,
necessarily fell far short of the reality as presented when many
hundreds of suffering persons were residing there day after day. One
officer wrote: ‘We are encamped close to poor old Wheeler’s miserable
intrenchment. Of all the wonders which have passed before us since this
outbreak commenced, the most wonderful is that this ruinous intrenchment
should have held that horde of blood-thirsty ruffians off so long. This
is a strong statement; but none who have visited it can call it too
strong.’ Another said: ‘I have had a look at the barracks in which the
unfortunate people were intrenched. They consist of a couple of oblong
buildings; in one of them, the roof is completely fallen in; and both
are battered with round shot. The verandahs as well as the walls have
been torn up by the shot; and round the buildings are some pits dug in
the ground, and breastworks. The ground inside and out is strewed with
broken bottles, old shoes, and quantities of books and other documents
and letters. It was a melancholy sight; and the suffering must have been
more than humanity could bear.’ A third officer corroborated this
general description, but mentioned one or two additional particulars:
‘These buildings formed what was called the European Cavalry Hospital.
Right well and heroically must it have been defended. The walls are
riddled with cannon-shot like the cells of a honey-comb. The doors,
which seem to have been the principal points against which the Nena’s
fire was directed, are breached and knocked into large shapeless
openings. Of the verandahs, which surrounded both buildings, only a few
splintered rafters remain, and at some of the angles the walls are
knocked entirely away, and large chasms gape blackly at you. Many of the
enemy’s cannon-shot have gone through and through the buildings;
portions of the interior walls and roof have fallen; and here and there
are blood-stains on wall and floor. Never did I yet see a place so
terribly battered.’

As a sad story is often most touchingly told in the fewest words, we may
here advert to the contents of two scraps of paper, shewing how the
members of a family were cut off one by one during these days of misery.
When Cawnpore fell again into the hands of the British, by a train of
operations hereafter to be described, there were found among other
wrecks two small pieces of paper, covered with blood, and containing a
few words in pencil; they appeared to have been written by two persons,
both females. One gave a brief and confused narrative of some of the
events in the intrenchment; while the other consisted simply of a record
of the dates on which members of the writer’s family were struck down by
the hand of death.[18] The dates were irregular, and extended into July;
but every line told, in its simplicity, how agonising must have been the
position of one who had to record such things of those who were dear to
her. The contents of the two pieces of paper were printed in a Calcutta
journal; and when the mournful tale reached Scotland, it was at once
concluded, almost as a certainty, from the Christian names mentioned,
that the sufferers were all members of a family of Lindsays, who had
been stationed at Cawnpore. The writers of the two notes were themselves
numbered with the dead before the gloomy tragedy was ended.

All these evidences render only too plain to us the deplorable position
of the Europeans, after eighteen days of siege, and thirty-three of
enforced residence in the intrenchment. When duly considered, who can
wonder that the beleaguered garrison pondered on two possible
contingencies—a defeat of the rebels by a daring sally, or a release by
parley? If the officers could have known the treachery which was about
to be practised on them, they would probably have attempted the former;
but they could receive no intelligence or warning, and they did not like
to quit their wives and children at such a perilous time, in uncertainty
of their chances of success.

Their first knowledge of the state of affairs at Cawnpore was obtained
in an unexpected way. Among the commercial firms in the city was that of
Greenway Brothers, of which the members and the family had hastily left
Cawnpore at the beginning of the troubles, and taken refuge at
Nujjubgurh, a village about sixteen miles distant. They were discovered
by Nena Sahib, however, and only saved from death by promising a ransom
of a lac of rupees. Mrs Greenway, a very aged lady, the mother and
grandmother of a number of the sufferers, was sent by this treacherous
villain with a message to Sir Hugh Wheeler at the intrenchment, intended
to mask a nefarious and bloody scheme. The message was to this
effect—that the general and all his people should be allowed to proceed
to Allahabad unmolested, on condition that he abandoned Cawnpore, the
intrenchment, the public treasure, the guns, and the ammunition. This
message was delivered on the 24th of June; but whether in consequence of
Mr Shepherd’s adventure on that same day, presently to be mentioned,
does not clearly appear. On the next day an interview took place,
outside the intrenchment, between Sir Hugh and an agent of Nena named
Azimoollah (probably the same who had visited London two years before),
who was accompanied by a few of the leading mutineers. The terms were
agreed to, with a few modifications; and Nena Sahib gave his signature,
his seal, and his oath to a contract binding him to provide the
Europeans with boats and a safe escort to Allahabad.

Such was the account given by Mr Shepherd of a transaction narrated
somewhat differently by other persons; but before noticing certain
anomalies in this matter, it will be well to treat of an occurrence in
which that gentleman was unquestionably the best judge of the facts.
When the 24th of June arrived, Mr Shepherd adopted a course which led to
his own preservation, and enabled him to write his brief but mournful
narrative. The besieged civilians, not being under the command of Sir
Hugh Wheeler further than might be consistent with their own safety,
naturally thought with yearning hearts of their former abodes in the
city, and compared those abodes with the present deep misery and
privation. Wheeler would gladly have allowed them to return to Cawnpore;
but could they cross the intervening ground in safety, or would they
find safety in the city itself? To ascertain these points, was a project
adopted on the suggestion of Mr Shepherd, who—as a commissariat officer
in a place where scarcely any commissariat services could be
rendered—occupied a position somewhat midway between the military and
the civil. He had a large family within the intrenchment, comprising his
wife, daughter, brother, sister, three nieces, and two other relatives;
an infant daughter had been killed by a musket-shot a few days earlier.
Mr Shepherd’s mission was—to make his way to the city; to ascertain the
state of public affairs there; to enter into negotiations with
influential persons who were not friendly to the mutineers; and to spend
or promise a lac of rupees in any way that might bring about a cessation
of the siege. The arrangement made with Sir Hugh was, that if Mr
Shepherd succeeded in returning to the intrenchment with any useful
information, he should be allowed to go with his family to Cawnpore. He
started; but he never returned, and never again saw those hapless beings
whose welfare had occupied so much of his solicitude. He disguised
himself as a native cook, left the intrenchment, passed near the new
barracks, and ran on towards Cawnpore; but he was speedily descried and
captured, and carried before Nena Sahib. Two native women-servants had
shortly before escaped from the intrenchment to the city, and had
reported that the garrison was starving; the new captive, designedly,
gave a very different account; and as the Nena did not know which to
believe, he imprisoned all three. Mr Shepherd remained in prison,
suffering great hardships, from the 24th of June to the 17th of July, as
we shall presently see.

It is not easy to reconcile the various accounts of the convention
between the besiegers and the besieged, the Nena and the general.
According to Mr Shepherd, as we have just seen, the Nena sent a message
by Mrs Greenway on the 24th; and Sir Hugh had an interview with one of
Nena’s agents on the 25th. An ayah, or native nurse, however, who had
been in the service of Mrs Greenway, and who afterwards gave a narrative
in evidence before some English officers at Cawnpore, said that the
message was taken, not by Mrs Greenway, but by a Mrs Jacobi. She
proceeded to aver that Nena Sahib himself went to the intrenchment; and
then she gave a curious account of the interview, which, to say the
least of it, is quite consistent with the relative characters and
positions of the two leaders. According to her narrative: ‘The Nena
said: “Take away all the women and children to Allahabad; and if your
men want to fight, come back and do so: we will keep faith with you.”
General Wheeler said: “You take your solemn oath, according to your
custom; and I will take an oath on my Bible, and will leave the
intrenchment.” The Nena said: “Our oath is, that whoever we take by the
hand, and he relies on us, we never deceive; if we do, God will judge
and punish us.” The general said: “If you intend to deceive me, kill me
at once: I have no arms.” The Nena replied: “I will not deceive you;
rely on us. I will supply you with food, and convey you to Allahabad.”
On this the general went inside the intrenchment, and consulted with the
soldiers. They said: “There’s no reliance to be placed on natives; they
will deceive you.” A few said: “Trust them; it is better to do so.” On
this the general returned, and said: “I agree to your terms; see us away
as far as Futtehpoor, thence we can get easily to Allahabad.” The reply
was: “No; I will see you all safe to Allahabad.”’

That Sir Hugh Wheeler was mortally wounded before his unfortunate
companions left the intrenchment under a solemn pledge of safety, seems
to be generally admitted, but the date of his death is not clearly
known; nor do the narrators agree as to the names of the persons by whom
the convention was signed. But on the main point all evidence
coincides—that a safe retirement to Allahabad was guaranteed. How
villainously that guarantee was disregarded, we shall now see.

It was on the 27th of June that those who remained of the nine hundred
took their departure from the intrenchment where they had borne so many
miseries. Collateral facts lead to a conjecture that the sepoys,
belonging to the native regiments that had mutinied, had become wearied
with their three-weeks’ detention outside the intrenchment, and wished
to start off to a scene of more stirring incidents at Delhi. This would
not have suited the Nena’s views; he wanted their aid to grasp the
remainder of the Company’s treasure and ammunition at Cawnpore; and
hence he formed the plan for getting rid of the Europeans and obtaining
their wealth without any more fighting. Cannonading ceased on both sides
from the evening of the 24th; and from thence to the 27th all was done
that could be done to fit out the boat-expedition. But under what
miserable circumstances was this done! The unburied bodies of relations
and friends lay at the bottom of a well; the sick and wounded were more
fit to die than to be removed; the women and children had become haggard
and weak by almost every kind of suffering; the clothes of all had
become rent and blood-stained by many a terrible exigency; and
misgivings occupied the thoughts of those who remembered that the same
Nena Sahib, at whose mercy they were now placed, was the man who had
proved a traitor three weeks before. Twenty boats were provided, each
with an awning. The English were forced to give up the three or four
lacs of rupees which had been brought to the intrenchment. Early on the
morning of the 27th, the Nena sent a number of elephants, carts, and
doolies, to convey the women, children, sick, and wounded, to the
river-side, a distance of about a mile and a half: the hale men
proceeding on foot—if hale they can be called, who were worn down with
hunger, thirst, fatigue, heat, grief for the dear ones who had fallen,
anxiety for those who still lived to be succoured and protected. If Mr
Shepherd is right in his statement that the number who took their
departure in this mournful procession from the intrenchment was four
hundred and fifty, then one half of the original number of nine hundred
must have fallen victims to three weeks of privation and suffering.
Those who first reached the river took boat, and proceeded down-stream;
but the later comers were long detained; and while they were still
embarking, or preparing to embark, they were startled by the report of a
masked battery of three guns. The dreadful truth now became evident; the
execrable rebel-chief, in disregard of all oaths and treaties, had given
orders for the slaughter of the hapless Europeans. Some of the boats
were set on fire, and volley upon volley of musketry fired at the
unfortunates—scores of whom were shot dead, others picked off while
endeavouring to swim away. A few boats were hastily rowed across the
river; but there a body of the 17th N. I., just arrived from Azimghur,
intercepted all escape. The ruffians on both banks waded into the water,
seized the boats within reach, and sabred all the men yet remaining
alive in them. The women were spared for a worse fate; though many of
them wounded, some with two or three bullets each, these poor creatures,
with the children, were taken ashore, and placed in a building called
the Subadar Kothee, in Nena Sahib’s camp.

The fortunes of two separate boat-parties must be traced. Lieutenant
Delafosse, whose name has already been mentioned in connection with a
gallant achievement in the intrenchment, has placed upon record the
story of one boat’s adventure, shewing how it happened that he was among
the very few who escaped the Cawnpore tragedy. After stating that nearly
all the boats which attempted to descend the Ganges were either stopped
one by one, or the persons in them shot down where they sat, he proceeds
thus: ‘We had now one boat, crowded with wounded, and having on board
more than she could carry. Two guns followed us the whole of that day,
the infantry firing on us the whole of that night. On the second day,
28th June, a gun was seen on the Cawnpore side, which opened on us at
Nujjubgurh, the infantry still following us on both sides. On the
morning of the third day, the boat was no longer serviceable; we were
aground on a sand-bank, and had not strength sufficient to move her.
Directly any of us got into the water, we were fired upon by thirty or
forty men at a time. There was nothing left for us but to charge and
drive them away; and fourteen of us were told off to do what we could.
Directly we got on shore the insurgents retired; but, having followed
them up too far, we were cut off from the river, and had to retire
ourselves, as we were being surrounded. We could not make for the river;
we had to go down parallel, and came to the river again a mile lower
down, where we saw a large force of men right in front waiting for us,
and another lot on the opposite bank, should we attempt to cross the
river. On the bank of the river, just by the force in front, was a
temple. We fired a volley, and made for the temple, in which we took
shelter, having one man killed and one wounded. From the door of the
temple we fired on every insurgent that happened to shew himself.
Finding that they could do nothing against us whilst we remained inside,
they heaped wood all round and set it on fire. When we could no longer
remain inside on account of the smoke and heat, we threw off what
clothes we had, and, each taking a musket, charged through the fire.
Seven of us out of the twelve got into the water; but before we had gone
far, two poor fellows were shot. There were only five of us left now;
and we had to swim whilst the insurgents followed us along both banks,
wading and firing as fast as they could. After we had gone three miles
down the stream [probably swimming and wading by turns], one of our
party, an artilleryman, to rest himself, began swimming on his back, and
not knowing in what direction he was swimming, got on shore, and was
killed. When we had got down about six miles, firing from both sides [of
the river] ceased; and soon after we were hailed by some natives, on the
Oude side, who asked us to come on shore, and said they would take us to
their rajah, who was friendly to the English.’ This proved to be the
case; for Lieutenant Delafosse, Lieutenant Mowbray Thomson, and one or
two companions, remained in security and comparative comfort throughout
the month of July, until an opportunity occurred for joining an English
force.

Although the boat-adventure just narrated was full of painful
excitement, ending in the death of nearly all the persons by shooting or
drowning—yet there is one still to be noticed more saddening in its
character, for the sufferers were reserved for a worse death. The name
of Sir Hugh Wheeler is connected with this adventure in a way not easily
to be accounted for; Mr Shepherd and Lieutenant Delafosse were not
witnesses of it, and no reliable personal narrative is obtainable from
any one who was actually present when it occurred. The probability is,
that Sir Hugh, although wounded in the intrenchment, did not die until
the boat-expedition had commenced, and that the same boat contained his
daughter and his (living or dead) body. At anyrate, this was the last
the world could hear of a brave old soldier, who went to India
fifty-four years before; who fought with Lord Lake before Delhi in 1804;
who took an active part in the Punjaub war; and who had been military
commander of the Cawnpore district from 1850 to 1857. It was also the
last to be heard of Brigadier Jack, who commanded the Cawnpore
cantonment; and of many brave English officers, from colonels down to
ensigns, of both the English and the native regiments.

Whether the general was alive or dead, and by whomsoever accompanied, it
appears certain that a large party rowed many miles down the Ganges. One
account states that Baboo Rambuksh, a zemindar of Dowreea Kheyra near
Futtehpoor, stopped the boats, captured the persons who were in them,
and sent them in carts as prisoners back to Cawnpore. The names of Mr
Reid, Mr Thomas Greenway, Mr Kirkpatrick, Mr Mackenzie, Captain
Mackenzie, and Dr Harris, were mentioned in connection with this band of
unfortunates; but accuracy in this particular is not to be insured. The
narrative given by Nujoor Jewarree, the native afterwards examined by
English officers at Cawnpore, was different in many points, and much
more detailed. He stated that the boat in question, after proceeding
some distance, got upon a sand-bank, where there was a severe encounter;
the sepoys not only ran along the shore, but followed in boats shooting
at the victims as soon as they got within musket-range, and receiving
many fatal shots in return. A freshet in the river released the boat,
and the voyage recommenced. Meanwhile, the probable escape of this party
being reported to Nena Sahib, he ordered three companies of the 3d Oude
infantry to pursue the boat, and effect a complete capture. The boat was
soon after taken, and all the occupants seized as prisoners. ‘There came
out of that boat,’ said Nujoor Jewarree, ‘sixty sahibs (gentlemen),
twenty-five memsahibs (ladies), and four children—one boy and three
half-grown girls.’ His story then proceeded to details which, if
correct, shew that Sir Hugh Wheeler was in the boat, and still alive;
for a contest ensued between Nena and some of the soldiers whether or
not the old general should be put to death: many of the sepoys wishing
to preserve his life.

It will become apparent to the reader, from the nature of the above
details, that the true story of the boat-catastrophe at Cawnpore will
probably never be fully told. All that we positively know is, that one
portion of the wretched victims met their death in the river, by
muskets, swords, and drowning; and that two other portions were carried
back to a captivity worse even than that of the intrenchment.

The proceedings of Nena Sahib, after the iniquitous treachery of the
27th of June, bore evident relation to his own advancement as an
independent chieftain. At sunset on that day he held a review of all the
rebel troops around Cawnpore on a plain between the now deserted
intrenchment and the Ganges. They appear to have consisted of five
regiments of Bengal native infantry, two of Oude native infantry, one of
Bengal cavalry, two of Oude cavalry, two of irregular cavalry, a battery
of field-guns, besides sundry detachments of regiments, and marauders
who became temporary soldiers in the hope of sharing pillage. Guns were
fired in honour of the Nena as sovereign, of his brother as
governor-general, and of an ambitious Brahmin as commander-in-chief, of
the newly restored Mahratta kingdom. From day to day more troops joined
his standard, after mutinying at various stations on all sides of
Cawnpore. Twenty thousand armed men are said to have been in that city
by the 10th of July; and as the Nena was very slow in awarding to them
any of his ill-gotten wealth, they recompensed themselves by plundering
the inhabitants, under pretext of searching for concealed Europeans.
Cawnpore was thus plunged into great misery, and speedily had cause to
lament the absence of its former masters. Nena created new offices, for
bestowal upon those who had served him; and he ordered the neighbouring
zemindars to pay to him the revenue that had wont to be paid to the
Company. He caused to be proclaimed by beat of tom-tom, throughout
Cawnpore and the surrounding district, that he had entirely conquered
the British; and that, their period of reign in India having been
completed, he was preparing to drive them out foot by foot. During this
heyday of self-assumed power, he issued many remarkable proclamations,
worthy of note as indications of his ambitious views, of his hopes as
dependent on the mass of the native people, and of the stigma which he
sought to throw on the British government. Some of these proclamations
are given in full at the end of the present chapter. There are many
facts which lend support to the supposition that this grasp at power and
wealth was suggested to him by the gradual development of events. He
probably entertained crafty designs and suppressed vindictiveness from
the outset; but these did not shew themselves openly until the native
troops at the cantonment had rebelled. Seeing a door opened by others,
which might possibly lead him to power and to vengeance, he seized the
occasion and entered.

The last acts of the Cawnpore tragedy now await our attention.

What horrors the poor women suffered during their eighteen days of
captivity under this detestable miscreant, none will ever fully know;
partial glimpses only of the truth will ever come to light. According to
the ayah’s narrative, already noticed, the women and children who were
conveyed from the boats into captivity were a hundred and fifteen in
number. The poor creatures (the women and elder girls) were sought to be
tempted by an emissary of the Nena to enter quietly into his harem; but
they one and all expressed a determination to die where they were, and
with each other, rather than yield to dishonour. They were then destined
to be given up to the sensual licence of the sepoys and sowars who had
aided in their capture; but the heroic conduct of Sir Hugh Wheeler’s
daughter is said to have deterred the ruffians. What this ‘Judith of
Cawnpore’ really did, is differently reported. Her heroism was
manifested, in one version of the story, by an undaunted and indignant
reproach against the native troops for their treachery to the English
who had fed and clothed them, and for their cowardice in molesting
defenceless women; in another version, she shot down five sepoys in
succession with a revolver, and then threw herself into a well to escape
outrage; in a third, given by Mr Shepherd, this English lady, being
taken away by a trooper of the 2d native cavalry to his own hut, rose in
the night, secured the trooper’s sword, killed him and three other men,
and then threw herself into a well; while a fourth version, on the
authority of the ayah, represents the general’s daughter as cutting off
the heads of no less than five men in the trooper’s hut. These accounts,
incompatible one with another, nevertheless reveal to us a true
soldier’s daughter, an English gentlewoman, resolved to proceed to any
extremity in defence of her own purity.

The victims were detained three days at Nena’s camp, with only a little
parched grain to eat, dirty water to drink, and the hard ground to lie
upon, without matting or beds of any kind. The ayah states that the
Nena, after the events of the 27th of June, sent to ask the temporarily
successful King of Delhi what he should do with the women and children;
to which a reply was received, that they were not to be killed. Whether
this statement be right or wrong, the captives were taken from the camp
to Cawnpore, and there incarcerated in a house near the Assembly Rooms,
consisting of outbuildings of the medical depôt, shortly before occupied
by Sir George Parker. Here they were joined by more than thirty other
European women and children, the unhappy relics of the boat-expedition
that had been recaptured near Futtehpoor in the vain attempt to escape.
Without venturing to decide whether the ayah, Nujoor Jewarree, Mr
Shepherd, or Lieutenant Delafosse was most nearly correct in regard of
numbers; or whether Sir Hugh Wheeler was at that time alive or dead—it
appears tolerably certain that many unhappy prisoners were brought back
into Cawnpore on the 1st of July. All the men were butchered in cold
blood on the evening of the same day. One officer’s wife, with her
child, clung to her husband with such desperate tenacity that they could
not be separated; and all three were killed at once. The other women
were spared for the time. This new influx, together with five members of
the Greenway family, swelled the roll of prisoners in the small building
to a number that has been variously estimated from a hundred and fifty
to two hundred, nearly all women and children. Their diet was miserably
insufficient; and their sufferings were such that many died through want
of the necessaries of life. ‘It is not easy to describe,’ says Mr
Shepherd, ‘but it may be imagined, the misery of so many helpless
persons: some wounded, others sick, and all labouring under the greatest
agony of heart for the loss of those, so dear to them, who had so
recently been killed (perhaps before their own eyes); cooped up night
and day in a small low pukha-roofed house, in the hottest season of the
year, without beds or punkahs, for a whole fortnight—and constantly
reviled and insulted by a set of brutish ruffians keeping watch over
them.’

Added to all these suffering women and children, were those belonging to
the second boat-expedition from Futteghur. It will be remembered, from
the details given in a former page, that one party from this fort
reached Bithoor about the middle of June, and were at once murdered by
orders of Nena Sahib; while another body, after a manly struggle against
the rebels for two or three weeks, did not prosecute their voyage
downwards until July. It will throw light on the perils and terrors of
these several boat-adventures to transcribe a few sentences from an
official account by Mr G. J. Jones, a civil servant of the Company, who
left Futteghur with the rest on the 4th of July, but happily kept clear
of the particular boat-load which went down to Cawnpore: ‘We had not
proceeded far, when it was found that Colonel Goldie’s boat was much too
large and heavy for us to manage; it was accordingly determined to be
abandoned; so all the ladies and children were taken into Colonel
Smith’s boat. A little delay was thus caused, which the sepoys took
advantage of to bring a gun to bear on the boats; the distance, however,
was too great; every ball fell short. As soon as the ladies and children
were all safely on board, we started, and got down as far as
Singheerampore without accident, although fired upon by the villagers.
Here we stopped a few minutes to repair the rudder of Colonel Smith’s
boat; and one out of the two boatmen we had was killed by a matchlock
ball. The rudder repaired, we started again, Colonel Smith’s boat taking
the lead; we had not gone beyond a few yards, when our boat grounded on
a soft muddy sand-bank; the other boat passed on; all hands got into the
water to push her; but, notwithstanding all our efforts, we could not
manage to move her. We had not been in this unhappy position half an
hour, when two boats, apparently empty, were seen coming down the
stream. They came within twenty yards of us, when we discovered they
carried sepoys, who opened a heavy fire, killing and wounding several.
Mr Churcher, senior, was shot through the chest; Mr Fisher, who was just
behind me, was wounded in the thigh. Hearing him call out, I had
scarcely time to turn round, when I felt a smart blow on my right
shoulder; a bullet had grazed the skin and taken off a little of the
flesh. Major Robertson was wounded in the face. The boats were now
alongside of us. Some of the sepoys had already got into our boat. Major
Robertson, seeing no hope, begged the ladies to come into the water
rather than fall into their hands. While the ladies were throwing
themselves into the water, I jumped into the boat, took up a loaded
musket, and, going astern, shot a sepoy.... Mr and Mrs Fisher were about
twenty yards from the boat; he had his child in his arms, apparently
lifeless. Mrs Fisher could not stand against the current; her dress,
which acted like a sail, knocked her down, when she was helped up by Mr
Fisher.... Early the next morning a voice hailed us from the shore,
which we recognised as Mr Fisher’s. He came on board, and informed us
that his poor wife and child had been drowned in his arms.’

The occupants of the boat that prosecuted the voyage down to Cawnpore,
or rather Bithoor, suffered greatly: the hands of the gentlemen who were
on board, and who pulled the boat, were terribly blistered; the women
and children suffered sad hardships; and all were worn down by fatigue
and anxiety. At Bithoor, so far as the accounts are intelligible, Nena
Sahib’s son seized the boat, and sent all the unfortunate Europeans in
her into confinement at Cawnpore. As in other parts of this mournful
tragedy, it will be vain to attempt accuracy in the statement of the
numbers of those that suffered; but there is a subsidiary source of
information, possessing a good deal of interest in connection with the
July occurrences. When, at a later date, the reconquerors of Cawnpore
were in a position to attempt a solution of the terrible mystery; when
the buildings of Cawnpore were searched, and the inhabitants examined,
for any documents relating to the suffering Europeans—a paper was found,
written in the Mahratta language, in the house of a native doctor who
had been in charge of the prisoners, or some of them. It was, or
professed to be, a list of those who were placed under his care on
Tuesday the 7th of July; but whether invalids only, does not clearly
appear. All the names were given, with some inaccuracy in spelling;
which, however, cannot be considered as rendering the document
untrustworthy. In it were to be found large families of Greenways,
Reids, Jacobis, Fitzgeralds, Dempsters, and others known to have been in
Cawnpore about that time. They were a hundred and sixty-three in number.
To this hapless group was added another list, containing the names of
forty-seven fugitives belonging to the _second_ boat-party from
Futteghur, who are reported as having arrived on the 11th of July, and
who included many members of the families of the Goldies, Smiths,
Tuckers, Heathcotes, &c., already named in connection with the Futteghur
calamities. The Mahratta document gave altogether the names of two
hundred and ten persons; but it was silent on the question how many
other Europeans were on those days in the clutches of the ruthless
chieftain of Bithoor. A further list contained the names of about
twenty-six persons, apparently all women and children, who died under
this native doctor’s hands between the 7th and the 15th, diminishing to
that extent the number of those left for massacre. To most of the names
‘cholera,’ or ‘diarrhœa,’ or ‘dysentery’ was appended, as the cause of
death; to two names, ‘wounds;’ while one of the patients was ‘a baby two
days old.’ In what a place, and under what circumstances, for an infant
to be born, and to bear its two wretched days of life!

[Illustration:

  House at Cawnpore in which the women and children were massacred.
]

Let us follow Mr Shepherd’s two narratives—one public, for government
information; one in a letter, relating more especially to his own
personal troubles and sufferings—concerning the crowning iniquity of
Nena Sahib at Cawnpore.

After his capture, on attempting to hasten from the intrenchment to the
city, the commissary was subjected to a sort of mock-trial, and
condemned to three years’ imprisonment with hard labour; on what plea or
evidence, is not stated. He implies that if he had been known as an
Englishman, he would certainly have been put to death. On the third day
after his capture he heard a rumour of certain movements among his
unfortunate compatriots in the intrenchment. ‘Oh! how I felt,’ he
exclaims, ‘when, in confinement, I heard that the English were going in
safety! I could not keep my secret, but told the subadar of the
prison-guard that I was a Christian; I nearly lost my life by this
exposure.’ Mr Shepherd was confined for twenty-four days in a miserable
prison, with heavy fetters on his legs, and only so much parched grain
for food as would prevent actual starvation. As days wore on, he
obtained dismal evidence that the departure from the intrenchment had
not been safely effected; that coward treachery had been displayed by
the Nena; that innocent lives had been taken; and that the survivors
were held in horrible thraldom by that cruel man. The commissary was a
prisoner within the city during all the later days of the tragedy;
whether he was within earshot of the sufferers, is not stated; but the
following contains portions of his narrative relating to that period:
‘Certain spies, whether real or imaginary is not known, were brought to
the Nena as being the bearers of letters supposed to have been written
to the British [at Allahabad] by the helpless females in their
captivity; and with these letters some of the inhabitants of the city
were believed to be implicated. It was therefore decreed by Nena Sahib
that the spies, together with all the women and children, as also the
few gentlemen whose lives had been spared, should be put to death.’ Mr
Shepherd connected these gentlemen with the Futteghur fugitives,
concerning whom, however, he possessed very little information. It was a
further portion of Nena’s decree, that all the baboos (Bengalees
employed as clerks) of the city, and every individual who could read or
write English, should have their right hands and noses cut off. At
length, on the 15th, just before quitting Cawnpore in the vain hope of
checking the advance of a British column, this savage put his decrees
into execution. ‘The native spies were first put to the sword; after
them the gentlemen, who were brought from the outbuildings in which they
had been confined, and shot with bullets. Then the poor females were
ordered to come out; but neither threats nor persuasions could induce
them to do so. They laid hold of each other by dozens, and clung so
closely that it was impossible to separate or drag them out of the
building. The troopers therefore brought muskets, and after firing a
great many shots through the doors, windows, &c., rushed in with swords
and bayonets. Some of the helpless creatures in their agony fell down at
the feet of their murderers, and begged them in the most pitiful manner
to spare their lives; but to no purpose. The fearful deed was done
deliberately and determinedly, in the midst of the most dreadful shrieks
and cries of the victims. From a little before sunset till dark was
occupied in completing the dreadful deed. The doors of the buildings
were then locked for the night, and the murderers went to their homes.
Next morning it was found, on opening the doors, that some ten or
fifteen females, with a few of the children, had managed to escape from
death by hiding under the murdered bodies of their fellow-prisoners. A
fresh command was thereupon sent to murder these also; but the survivors
not being able to bear the idea of being cut down, rushed out into the
compound, and seeing a well there, threw themselves into it. The dead
bodies of those murdered on the previous evening were then ordered to be
thrown into the same well; and julluds were appointed to drag them away
like dogs.’

Mr Shepherd himself did not witness this slaughter; no looker-on, so far
as is known, has placed upon record his or her account of the scene. Nor
does there appear any trustworthy evidence to shew what the poor women
endured in the period, varying from four to eighteen days, during which
they were in the Nena’s power; but the probability is fearfully great
that they passed through an ordeal which the mind almost shrinks from
contemplating. Mr Shepherd was evidently of this opinion. While telling
his tale of misery relating to those poor ill-used creatures, he hinted
at ‘sufferings and distresses such as have never before been experienced
or heard of on the face of the earth.’ It was in his agony of grief that
he wrote this; when, on the 17th of July, a victorious English column
entered Cawnpore; and when, immediately on his liberation, he hastened
like others to the house of slaughter. Only when the manacles had been
struck from his limbs, and he had become once more a free man, did he
learn the full bitterness of his lot. ‘God Almighty has been graciously
pleased to spare my poor life,’ was the beginning of a letter written by
him on that day to a brother stationed at Agra. ‘I am the only
individual saved among all the European and Christian community that
inhabited this station.’ [Nearly but not exactly true.] ‘My poor dear
wife, my darling sweet child Polly, poor dear Rebecca and her children,
and poor innocent children Emmeline and Martha, as also Mrs Frost and
poor Mrs Osborne’ [these being the members of his family whom he had
left in the intrenchment on the 24th of June, when he set out disguised
on his fruitless mission], ‘were all most inhumanly butchered by the
cruel insurgents on the day before yesterday;’ and his letter then
conveyed the outpourings of a heart almost riven by such irreparable
losses.

While reserving for a future chapter all notice of the brilliant
military movements by which a small band of heroes forced a way inch by
inch from Allahabad to Cawnpore; and of the struggle made by the Nena,
passionately but ineffectually, to maintain his ill-gotten honours as a
self-elected Mahratta sovereign—it may nevertheless be well in this
place to follow the story of the massacre to its close—to know how much
was left, and of what kind, calculated to render still more vividly
evident the fate of the victims.

Never, while life endures, will the English officers and soldiers forget
the sight which met their gaze when they entered Cawnpore on the 17th of
July. It was frequently observed that all were alike deeply moved by the
atrocities that came to light in many parts of Northern India. Calcutta,
weeks and even months afterwards, contained ladies who had escaped from
various towns and stations, and who entered the Anglo-Indian capital in
most deplorable condition: ears, noses, lips, tongues, hands, cut off;
while others had suffered such monstrous and incredibly degrading
barbarities, that they resolutely refused all identification, preferring
to remain in nameless obscurity, rather than their humiliation should be
known to their friends in England. Their children, in many instances,
had their eyes gouged out, and their feet cut off. Many were taken to
Calcutta in such hurry and confusion, that it remained long in doubt
from what places they had escaped; and an instance is recorded of a
little child, who belonged no one knew to whom, and whose only account
of herself was that she was ‘Mamma’s pet:’ mournfully touching words,
telling of a gentle rearing and a once happy home. An officer in command
of one of the English regiments, speaking of the effect produced on his
men by the sights and rumours of fiend-like cruelty, observed: ‘Very
little is said among the men or officers, the subject being too
maddening; but there is a curious expression discernible in every face
when it is mentioned—a stern compression of the lips, and a fierce
glance of the eye, which shew that when the time comes, no mercy will be
shewn to those who have shewn none.’ He told of fearful deeds; of two
little children tortured to death, and portions of their quivering flesh
forced down the throats of their parents, who were tied up naked, and
had been compelled to witness the slaughter of their innocent ones. The
feelings of those who were not actually present at the scenes of horror
are well expressed in a letter written by a Scottish officer, who was
hemmed in at Agra during many weeks, when he longed to be engaged in
active service chastising the rebels. He had, some months before, been
an officer in one of the native regiments that mutinied at Cawnpore;
and, in relation to the events at that place, he said: ‘I am truly
thankful that most of the officers of my late corps died of fever in the
intrenchment, previous to the awful massacre. Would that it had been the
will of Heaven that all had met the same fate, fearful as that was. For
weeks exposed to a scorching sun, without shelter of any kind, and
surrounded by the dying and the dead, their ears ringing with the groans
of the wounded, the shouts of sun-struck madmen, the plaintive cries of
children, the bitter sobs and sighs of bereaved mothers, widows, and
orphans. Even such a death was far better than what fell to the lot of
many. Not even allowed to die without being made witnesses of the bloody
deaths of all they loved on earth, they were insulted, abused, and
finally, after weeks of such treatment, cruelly and foully murdered. One
sickens, and shudders at the bare mention of it.... Oh! how thankful I
am that I have no wife, no sisters out here.’ It was a terrible crisis
that could lead officers, eight or ten thousand miles away from those
near and dear to them, to say this.

It is necessary, as a matter of historical truth, to describe briefly
the condition of the house of slaughter on the 17th of July; and this
cannot be better done than in the words employed by the officers and
soldiers in various letters written by them, afterwards made public. The
first that we shall select runs thus: ‘I have seen the fearful
slaughter-house; and I also saw one of the 1st native infantry men,
according to order, wash up part of the blood which stains the floor,
before being hanged.’ [This order will presently be noticed in the words
of Brigadier Neill.] ‘There were quantities of dresses, clogged thickly
with blood; children’s frocks, frills, and ladies’ underclothing of all
kinds; boys’ trousers; leaves of Bibles, and of one book in particular,
which seems to be strewed over the whole place, called _Preparation for
Death_; broken daguerreotypes; hair, some nearly a yard long; bonnets,
all bloody; and one or two shoes. I picked up a bit of paper with the
words on it, “Ned’s hair, with love;” and opened and found a little bit
tied up with ribbon. The first [troops] that went in, I believe, saw the
bodies with their arms and legs sticking out through the ground. They
had all been thrown in a heap in the well.’ A second letter: ‘The house
was alongside the Cawnpore hotel, where the Nena lived. I never was more
horrified. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the soles of my
boots were more than covered with the blood of these poor wretched
creatures. Portions of their dresses, collars, children’s socks, and
ladies’ round hats, lay about, saturated with their blood; and in the
sword-cuts on the wooden pillars of the room, long dark hair was
sticking, carried by the edge of the weapon, and there hung their
tresses—a most painful sight. I picked up a mutilated Prayer-book; it
appeared to have been open at page 36 of the Litany, where I have little
doubt those poor creatures sought and found consolation in that
beautiful supplication; it is there sprinkled with blood.’ A third: ‘We
found that the Nena had murdered all the women and children that he had
taken prisoners, and thrown them naked down a well. The women and
children had been kept in a sort of zenana, and no attention whatever
paid to cleanliness. In that place they had been butchered, as the
ground was covered with clotted blood. One poor woman had evidently been
working, as a small work-box was open, and the things scattered about.
There were several children’s small round hats, evidently shewing that
that was their prison. The well close by was one of the most awful
sights imaginable.’ A fourth: ‘It is an actual and literal fact, that
the floor of the inner room was several inches deep in blood all over;
it came over men’s shoes as they stepped. Tresses of women’s hair,
children’s shoes, and articles of female wear, broad hats and bonnets,
books, and such like things, lay scattered all about the rooms. There
were the marks of bullets and sword-cuts on the walls—not high up, as if
men had fought—but low down, and about the corners where the poor
crouching creatures had been cut to pieces. The bodies of the victims
had been thrown indiscriminately into a well—a mangled heap, with arms
and legs protruding.’ Some of the officers, by carefully examining the
walls, found scraps of writing in pencil, or scratched in the plaster,
such as, ‘Think of us’—‘Avenge us’—‘Your wives and families are here in
misery and at the disposal of savages’—‘Oh, oh! my child, my child.’ One
letter told of a row of women’s shoes, _with bleeding amputated feet in
them_, ranged in cruel mockery on one side of a room; while the other
side exhibited a row of children’s shoes, filled in a similarly terrible
way; but it is not certain whether the place referred to was Cawnpore.
Another writer mentioned an incident which, unless supported by
collateral testimony, seems wanting in probability. It was to the effect
that when the 78th Highlanders entered Cawnpore, they found the remains
of Sir Hugh Wheeler’s daughter. They removed the hair carefully from the
head; sent some of it to the relations of the unfortunate lady; divided
the rest amongst themselves; counted every single hair in each parcel;
and swore to take a terrible revenge by putting to death as many
mutineers as there were hairs. The storm of indignant feeling that might
suggest such a vow can be understood easily enough; but the alleged mode
of manifestation savours somewhat of the melodramatic and improbable.

A slight allusion has been made above to Brigadier Neill’s proceedings
at Cawnpore, after the fatal 17th of July. In what relation he stood to
the reconquering force will be noticed in its due place; but it may be
well here to quote a passage from a private letter, written
independently of his public dispatches: ‘I am collecting all the
property of the deceased, and trying to trace if any have survived; but
as yet have not succeeded in finding one.’ [Captain Bruce’s research,
presently to be mentioned, had not then been made.] ‘Man, woman, and
child, seem all to have been murdered. As soon as that monster Nena
Sahib heard of the success of our troops, and of their having forced the
bridge about twenty miles from Cawnpore, he ordered the wholesale
butchery of the poor women and children. I find the officers’ servants
behaved shamefully, and were in the plot, all but the lowest-caste ones.
They deserted their masters and plundered them. Whenever a rebel is
caught, he is immediately tried, and unless he can prove a defence, he
is sentenced to be hanged at once; but the chief rebels or ringleaders I
make first clean up a certain portion of the pool of blood, still two
inches deep, in the shed where the fearful murder and mutilation of
women and children took place. To touch blood is most abhorrent to the
high-caste natives; they think by doing so they doom their souls to
perdition. Let them think so. My object is to inflict a fearful
punishment for a revolting, cowardly, barbarous deed, and to strike
terror into these rebels.... The well of mutilated bodies—alas!
containing upwards of two hundred women and children—I have had decently
covered in and built up as one grave.’

With one additional testimony, we will close this scene of gloomy
horror. The Earl of Shaftesbury, as was noticed in a former page, took
occasion soon after the news of the Cawnpore atrocities reached London,
to advert at a public meeting to the shrinking abhorrence with which
those deeds were regarded, and to the failure of the journalists to
present the full and fearful truth. He himself mentioned an incident,
not as an example of the worst that had been done by the incarnate
fiends at Cawnpore, but to indicate how much remains to be told if pen
dare write or tongue utter it: ‘I have seen a copy of a letter written
and sent to England by an officer of rank who was one of the first that
entered Cawnpore a few hours after the perpetration of the frightful
massacre.... To his unutterable dismay, he saw a number of European
women stripped stark naked, lying on their backs, fastened by the arms
and legs; and there many of them had been lying four or five days
exposed to a burning sun; others had been more recently laid down;
others again had been actually hacked to pieces, and so recently, that
the blood which streamed from their mangled bodies was still warm. He
found children of ten, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years of age
treated in the same horrible manner at the corners of the streets and in
all parts of the town: attended by every circumstance of insult, the
most awful and the most degrading, the most horrible and frightful to
the conception, and the most revolting to the dignity and feelings of
civilised men. Cawnpore was only a sample of what was perpetrated in
various parts of that vast region, and that with a refinement of cruelty
never before heard of. Women and children have been massacred before;
but I don’t believe there is any instance on record where children have
been reserved in cold blood to be most cruelly and anatomically tortured
in the presence of their horrified parents before being finally put to
death.’

Something must be said here concerning the devastated property at
Cawnpore, in relation to the miserable beings to whom it had once
belonged. When the city was again in British hands, and the Rajah of
Bithoor driven out with the curses of all English hearts resting on him,
it was found to be in such a devastated state, so far as regarded
Europeans, that Brigadier Neill was at a loss what to do with the wrecks
of spoliated property. He requested Captain Bruce, of the 5th Punjaub
cavalry, whom he had appointed temporarily superintendent of police, to
write to the Calcutta newspapers, inviting the aid of any one able to
identify the property. The letter said: ‘The property of the unfortunate
people who lost their lives here has been collected in one spot; and any
which can be recognised will be handed over to the owners, or put up to
auction for the benefit of the estates of the deceased. There is a good
deal of property belonging to the different mercantile firms here, as
well as to the heirs of deceased officers, &c.; but when I mention that
every house was gutted, and the property scattered over sixty or seventy
square miles of country, it will be apparent how impossible it was to
take care of individual interests.... Almost all the former European
residents here having been murdered by the miscreant Nena Sahib, there
is no one forthcoming to recognise or give any information concerning
the property that has been saved.’ At a later date Captain Bruce
captured one of the boatmen who had come down from Futteghur with the
first party of unhappy fugitives from that place; the man had a large
amount of English jewellery in his possession, comprising brooches,
earrings, bracelets, clasps, studs, shawl-pins, hair-lockets, gold
chains, and similar articles. The boatman had probably secreted the
jewel-caskets of the unfortunate ladies, at or shortly before the
forcible landing of the boat-party at Bithoor.

A much more painful inquiry, than any relating to property, was that
relating to the loss of life. When Captain Bruce, after many days of
sedulous inquiry, had collected all the available information bearing on
the fate of the hapless sufferers, he arrived at these conclusions—that
the only Europeans who escaped from the boat-massacre, and really
obtained their liberty, were two officers and two soldiers—probably
Lieutenant Delafosse and three of his companions; that the only one who
remained in Cawnpore and yet preserved his life, was a pensioner of the
3d light dragoons, who was concealed in the city by a trooper of the 4th
light cavalry; and that there were, on the 31st of July, six Englishmen,
three Englishwomen, and three children, concealed and protected by the
Rajah of Calpee, across the Jumna; but it was not stated, and perhaps
not known, whether they had gone thither from Cawnpore. Mr Shepherd
himself was not included in this list. When Lieutenant Delafosse, about
a fortnight after the recapture of Cawnpore, was requested by Brigadier
Neill to furnish the best list he could of the English sufferers at that
place, he endeavoured to separate the victims into three groups,
according as they had died in the intrenchment, in the boats, or in the
house of slaughter. But this was necessarily a very imperfect list; for,
on the one hand, he knew nothing of the two parties of fugitives from
Futteghur; while, on the other, he speaks of many persons who came into
the station with their families on account of disturbance, and whose
names he did not know. Taking the matter in a military estimate,
however, he gave the names of one general (Wheeler), one brigadier
(Jack), three colonels, five majors, thirteen captains, thirty-nine
lieutenants, five ensigns, and nine doctors or army-surgeons; Lady and
Miss Wheeler, Sir George Parker, and two clergymen or missionaries, were
among the other members in his melancholy list. No guess can be made of
the total numbers from this document, for the persons included under the
word ‘family’ are seldom specified by name or number. The mournful truth
was indeed only too evident that many complete families—families
consisting of very numerous members—were among the slaughtered. When the
lists began to be made out, of those who had been known as Cawnpore
residents or Futteghur fugitives, and who were found dead when the
English recaptured the place, there were such entries as
these—‘Greenway: Mr, two Mrs, Martha, Jane, John, Henry’—‘Fitzgerald:
John, Margaret, Mary, Tom, Ellen’—‘Gilpin: Mrs, William, Harriet, Sarah,
Jane, F.’—‘Reid: Mr, Susan, James, Julia, C., Charles’—‘Reeve: Mrs,
Mary, Catherine, Ellen, Nelly, Jane, Cornelia, Deon.’

Religious men, thoughtful men—and, on the other hand, men wrought up to
a pitch of exasperated feeling—afterwards spoke of the fatal well as a
spot that should be marked in some way for the observance of posterity.
Two church missionaries were among the murdered at Cawnpore; and it was
urged in many quarters that a Christian church, built with the splendour
and resources of a great nation, would be a suitable erection at that
spot—as an appropriate memorial to the dead, a striking lesson to the
living, and the commencement of a grand effort to Christianise the
heathen millions of India. Whether a church be the right covering for a
hideous pit containing nearly two hundred mangled bodies of gentle
English women and children; and whether rival creeds would struggle for
precedency in the management of its construction, its details, and the
form of its service—may fairly admit of doubt; but with or without a
church, the English in no parts of the world are ever likely to forget
THE WELL AT CAWNPORE!


                                 Note.

  _Nena Sahib’s Proclamations._—When Generals Neill and Havelock were
  at Cawnpore, during a period subsequent to that comprised within the
  range of the present chapter, they found many proclamations which
  had been printed in the Mahratta language by order of Nena Sahib, as
  if for distribution among the natives under his influence. These
  proclamations were afterwards translated into English, and included
  among the parliamentary papers relating to India. A few of them may
  fittingly be reproduced here, to shew by what means that consummate
  villain sought to attain his ends.

  The following appears to have been issued on or about the 1st of
  July:—‘As, by the kindness of God and the ikbal or good-fortune of
  the Emperor, all the Christians who were at Delhi, Poonah, Satara,
  and other places, and even those 5000 European soldiers who went in
  disguise into the former city and were discovered, are destroyed and
  sent to hell by the pious and sagacious troops, who are firm to
  their religion; and as they have all been conquered by the present
  government, and as no trace of them is left in these places, it is
  the duty of all the subjects and servants of the government to
  rejoice at the delightful intelligence, and to carry on their
  respective work with comfort and ease.’

  This was accompanied by another: ‘As, by the bounty of the glorious
  Almighty God and the enemy-destroying fortune of the Emperor, the
  yellow-faced and narrow-minded people have been sent to hell, and
  Cawnpore has been conquered, it is necessary that all the subjects
  and landowners should be as obedient to the present government as
  they had been to the former one; that all the government servants
  should promptly and cheerfully engage their whole mind in executing
  the orders of government; that it is the incumbent duty of all the
  ryots and landed proprietors of every district to rejoice at the
  thought that the Christians have been sent to hell, and both the
  Hindoo and Mohammedan religions have been confirmed; and that they
  should as usual be obedient to the authorities of the government,
  and never to suffer any complaint against themselves to reach the
  ears of the higher authority.’

  On the 5th of the same month the Nena issued the following to the
  kotwal or Mayor of Cawnpore: ‘It has come to our notice that some of
  the city people, having heard the rumours of the arrival of the
  European soldiers at Allahabad, are deserting their houses and going
  out into the districts; you are, therefore, directed to proclaim in
  each lane and street of the city that regiments of cavalry and
  infantry and batteries have been despatched to check the Europeans
  either at Allahabad or Futtehpoor; that the people should therefore
  remain in their houses without any apprehension, and engage their
  minds in carrying on their work.’

  Another proclamation displayed in an extraordinary way the Rajah’s
  mode of practising on the credulity of the natives, by the most
  enormous and barefaced fictions: ‘A traveller just arrived in
  Cawnpore from Calcutta states that in the first instance a council
  was held to take into consideration the means to be adopted to do
  away with the religion of the Mohammedans and Hindoos by the
  distribution of cartridges. The council came to this resolution,
  that, as this matter was one of religion, the services of seven or
  eight thousand European soldiers would be necessary, as 50,000
  Hindustanis would have to be destroyed, and then the whole of the
  people of Hindostan would become Christians. A petition with the
  substance of this resolution was sent to the Queen Victoria, and it
  was approved. A council was then held a second time, in which
  English merchants took a part, and it was decided that, in order
  that no evil should arise from mutiny, large reinforcements should
  be sent for. When the dispatch was received and read in England,
  thousands of European soldiers were embarked on ships as speedily as
  possible, and sent off to Hindostan. The news of their being
  despatched reached Calcutta. The English authorities there ordered
  the issue of the cartridges, for the real intention was to
  Christianise the army first, and this being effected, the conversion
  of the people would speedily follow. Pigs’ and cows’ fat was mixed
  up with the cartridges; this became known through one of the
  Bengalese who was employed in the cartridge-making establishment. Of
  those through whose means this was divulged, one was killed and the
  rest imprisoned. While in this country these counsels were being
  adopted, in England the vakeel (ambassador) of the Sultan of Roum
  (Turkey) sent news to the sultan that thousands of European soldiers
  were being sent for the purpose of making Christians of all the
  people of Hindostan. Upon this the sultan issued a firman to the
  King of Egypt to this effect: “You must deceive the Queen Victoria,
  for this is not a time for friendship, for my vakeel writes that
  thousands of European soldiers have been despatched for the purpose
  of making Christians the army and people of Hindostan. In this
  manner, then, this must be checked. If I should be remiss, then how
  can I shew my face to God; and one day this may come upon me also,
  for if the English make Christians of all in Hindostan, they will
  then fix their designs upon my country.” When the firman reached the
  King of Egypt, he prepared and arranged his troops before the
  arrival of the English army at Alexandria, for this is the route to
  India. The instant the English army arrived, the King of Egypt
  opened guns upon them from all sides, and destroyed and sunk their
  ships, and not a single soldier escaped. The English in Calcutta,
  after the issue of the order for the cartridges, and when the mutiny
  had become great, were in expectation of the arrival of the army
  from London; but the Great God, in his omnipotence, had beforehand
  put an end to this. When the news of the destruction of the army of
  London became known, then the governor-general was plunged in grief
  and sorrow, and beat his head.

  ‘Done by order of the Peishwa Bahadoor, 13 Zekaida, 1273 Hegira.’

[Illustration:

  The Well at Cawnpore.
]

-----

Footnote 16:

  Report of Select Committee of House of Commons, 1832.

Footnote 17:

  The number of persons in the intrenchment on that day will probably
  never be accurately known; but Mr Shepherd, from the best materials
  available to him, made the following estimate:

          First company, 6th battalion, artillery,         61
          Her Majesty’s 32d foot,                          84
          Her Majesty’s 84th foot,                         50
          1st European Fusiliers,                          15
          English officers, mostly of mutinied regiments, 100
          Merchants, writers, clerks, &c.,                100
          English drummers of mutinied regiments,          40
          Wives and children of English officers,          50
          Wives and children of English soldiers,         160
          Wives and children of civilians,                120
          Sick, native officers, and sepoys,              100
          Native servants, cooks, &c.,                    100

Footnote 18:

  ‘Mamma died, July 12.’ ‘Alice died, July 9.’ ‘George died, June 27.’
  ‘Entered the barracks, May 21.’ ‘Cavalry left, June 5.’ ‘First shot
  fired, June 6.’ ‘Uncle Willy died, June 18.’ ‘Aunt Lilly, June 17.’

[Illustration:

  House of the Rajah at ALLAHABAD.
]



                              CHAPTER IX.
                   BENGAL AND THE LOWER GANGES: JUNE.


When, through the media of telegrams, dispatches, and letters, the
tragical events at Cawnpore became known in England, and were invested
with an additional horror on account of a vague suspicion that worse
remained untold, a painful and widely spread sensation was produced.
Nay, more; in almost every part of the civilised world, whether or not
in harmony with the British government on political and international
questions, astonishment was excited by these recitals of unapproachable
barbarity among a people who had acquired a sort of traditional
character for mildness and gentleness. It was about the end of June when
news of the Meerut outbreak reached London; and from that time each
fortnightly mail revealed the truth that a larger and larger area of
India was becoming involved in the troubles of insurrection—that a
gradually increasing number of military officers and civil servants of
the Company, with their wives and children, were placed in circumstances
of imminent peril. Residents in the United Kingdom, any of whose
relations and friends were stationed at Cawnpore, sought eagerly and
anxiously, as each mail arrived, for indications that escape had been
effected, or a rescuing force obtained. No such news came, no such hopes
were realised; darker and more silent was everything relating to that
much-dreaded city, until at length the frightful climax became known.

There has been a designed avoidance, in the preceding chapters of this
work, of any account of the measures adopted by the British government
in military matters, or by the British nation in active benevolence, to
remedy the disasters and allay the sufferings to which the Anglo-Indians
had so suddenly been exposed; for, in truth, India knew little of such
measures until August was far advanced. Whether all was done that might
have been done to expedite the passage of British troops to India, is a
question that will have to be considered in its proper place; the
significant truth now to be borne in mind is that the Calcutta
government had to meet the difficulties as best it could, with the
scanty supply of troops at that time in India—sending to the Mauritius
and the Cape of Good Hope for such reinforcements as might be available,
but knowing that aid from England could not arrive for many months. The
mode of treatment adopted here is naturally suggested by the course of
events themselves. When the ramifications of the Revolt have been traced
throughout the month of June, a chapter will then be devoted to the
subjects above indicated; for, although Cawnpore carried us into July,
we have yet to watch what was concurrently passing at other places.

We begin with the region extending from the Burmese frontier to the
Doab, and forming the eastern portion of Northern India; it may for
convenience be called Bengal, without any rigid adherence to territorial
subdivision.

The Indian government was not as yet troubled with any serious outbreaks
at Chittagong or Dacca, or in any of the districts bounding the Bay of
Bengal on the north and east. There were a few native troops at the
first named of these two towns, belonging to one of the mutinous
regiments at Barrackpore; but tranquillity was not disturbed by them. It
is true that, when the disloyalty of the 34th became known, the
inhabitants of Chittagong and Tipperah experienced some alarm lest the
detachment of this regiment stationed at the first-named town might
follow the pernicious example; but the Company’s collector, having three
lacs of rupees in hand, quietly removed his treasure on board a steamer;
and all uneasiness was soon allayed. Along the extreme eastern border of
the Bengal presidency, from Assam down through Dacca to Chittagong, the
month of June similarly passed over without any disturbances calling for
notice, although a temporary panic was excited in more than one spot. At
Dacca, for instance, the approach of disbanded native mutineers was
apprehended; and a mischievous set of Mohammedans, under one Keramut
Ali, were detected in the endeavour to sow the seeds of disaffection;
but by the firmness of the civil authorities, and the arrival of a
hundred seamen in two pinnaces from the Company’s steamers _Zenobia_ and
_Punjaub_, tranquillity was soon restored.

In the Calcutta and Barrackpore district, although no actual mutiny
occurred, symptoms were presented that gave much anxiety to the
Europeans residing at the capital, and prompted energetic preventive
measures. We have seen, in Chapter II., that much discontent was
exhibited at Dumdum, Barrackpore, and Berhampore, between the months of
January and May, by the native troops; that this discontent was
(professedly) associated with the affair of the greased cartridges; that
insubordination led to disarming and disbandment; that the news of the
Meerut and Delhi atrocities in May greatly alarmed the Calcutta
inhabitants; and that many addresses of loyalty and sympathy with the
government were thenceforth presented. During the first half of June,
the European residents looked with a sort of suspicious watchfulness at
everything that was occurring around them, prepared to find the native
troops treacherous, yet hoping for better things. The reliable forces in
Calcutta at that time comprised H.M. 53d foot, nine hundred strong, and
five hundred of H.M. 37th. A company of the 3d battalion Madras
artillery; No. 2 horse field-battery; forty men of the royal artillery,
recently arrived from Ceylon; and a wing of H.M. 35th foot, were at
Barrackpore. The 78th Highlanders were at Chinsura. On the 13th of June,
Calcutta was thrown into great agitation. A messenger was captured by
the authorities, and confessed that the sepoys at Barrackpore and
Calcutta had agreed to mutiny on that very night. Arrangements were
immediately made for defending the city by the aid chiefly of
volunteers, who had before then begun to organise themselves. The
civilians took arms, marshalled themselves into companies and corps, and
paraded the streets in the English part of the city. During the two
following nights, this patrolling was conducted very vigilantly; and
every native met in the streets was required to give an account of his
movements. On one occasion, Lady Canning, accompanied by the
governor-general, the commander-in-chief, Generals Windham and Beatson,
and a glittering staff, went to the parade-ground; where, the volunteers
being all drawn up in full array, her ladyship presented them with
colours, and made a complimentary address; to which Major Turnbull
replied, as commandant of the ‘Calcutta Volunteer Guards.’

The military proceedings on this occasion were as follow. Before light
on Sunday morning the 14th, in consequence of a message received from
head-quarters, a body of the 78th Highlanders was sent off hastily from
Chinsura to Barrackpore, to disarm the native troops there; while five
hundred of her Majesty’s 37th foot, landed from Ceylon only the day
before, were marched off to a point about midway between Calcutta and
Barrackpore, to command the road during the disarming. About midnight an
order arrived that some of the 37th should return instantly to the
capital. It had been discovered that the deposed King of Oude, residing
in a handsome house at Garden Reach, was engaged in some machinations
with a prince of the Delhi family, inimical to the interests of the
Europeans. A military force marched to his house at four o’clock on the
morning of the 15th, surrounded the grounds, entered, and seized the
king and his prime minister, together with a large quantity of papers.
Arrangements were immediately made for the safe custody of the two
Oudians, until the papers could be fully examined. A document came to
light, containing a Mohammedan sketch-map of Calcutta, dividing the city
into sections; together with the plan for a general rising of natives on
the centenary day of the battle of Plassy, the murder of all the
Feringhees, and the establishment of a native ‘raj’ or dynasty on the
ruins of that of the Company. It was deemed proper to adopt prompt
measures on this occasion; all the native troops in Calcutta were
disarmed as a precautionary measure, including the Calcutta militia, but
excluding the governor-general’s body-guard. The sepoys, who made no
demur whatever, were disarmed in parties wherever they happened to be—at
the Government House guard, the treasury, the mint, the bank, and the
fort. Each party was confronted by a party of Europeans, and gave up
arms on being so commanded; the arms and ammunition were then taken away
by the European soldiers, nothing being left with the sepoys but their
ramrods, with which to ‘shoulder arms.’ It was explained to them that
the disarming was only a temporary precautionary measure; that they
would receive pay and perform sentinel-duty as before; and that the arms
would be restored to them as soon as public tranquillity was insured.

The inhabitants of Calcutta long continued to bear well in remembrance
the 14th of June. For nearly a month the civilians had been in the habit
of taking revolvers with them to church, balls, and parties; but on this
day, such were the vague terrors of slaughter whispered from mouth to
mouth, that the excitement rose to a height of panic. One who was there
at the time said: ‘The infection of terror raged through all classes.
Chowringhee and Garden Reach were abandoned for the fort and the vessels
in the river. The shipping was crowded with fugitives; and in houses
which were selected as being least likely to be attacked, hundreds of
people gladly huddled together, to share the peculiar comfort which the
presence of crowds imparts on such occasions. The hotels were fortified;
bands of sailors marched through the thoroughfares, happy in the
expectation of possible fighting and the certainty of grog. Every group
of natives was scanned with suspicion. The churches and the course were
abandoned for that evening. A rising, either of Hindoos or of
Mussulmans, or perhaps of both, was looked upon as certain to happen in
the course of the night. From Chandernagore the whole body of European
and East Indian inhabitants emigrated to Calcutta; the _personnel_ of
government, the staff of the army, all in short who had anything to
lose, preferred to come away and run the risk of losing it, rather than
encounter the unknown danger.’ A somewhat unworthy timidity seems, at
first sight, to mark all this; but the civilians and private families of
Calcutta, utterly unused to war, had been so horror-stricken by the
accounts of murders of officers, violations of women, mutilations of
little children, burnings of sick and wounded, and other atrocities
perpetrated in Upper India, as to become in a certain sense paralysed.
After the decisive measures adopted by the government on the 14th and
next following day, the inhabitants of the capital gradually recovered
their equanimity; and the month closed peacefully.

Early in June, the sepoys cantoned at Barrackpore made the same kind of
demonstration as at an earlier date—that is, they professed fidelity,
and asked to be furnished with the new Enfield rifle. In the 43d
regiment B. N. I., there was a general application made to Major
Matthews, by native officers as well as sepoys, to this effect;
accompanied by the expression of a desire to be sent to fight against
the rebels at Delhi. The 70th B. N. I., almost to a man, came forward on
the 5th of the month, and presented a petition to Colonel Kennedy, with
a similar prayer. The petition began somewhat boastfully: ‘From the day
on which his lordship the governor-general condescended to come in
person to answer our petition, on which occasion General Hearsey
translated to us his address, and which was fully explained to us by our
colonel, interpreter, adjutant, and all the other officers of the
regiment, our honour and name have been raised amongst our countrymen;’
and it ended with an abundant profession of loyalty towards the
government. The 34th regiment B. N. I., or such of the men as were at
Barrackpore, imitated the example of their fellow-soldiers; they sent a
petition to Lieutenant-colonel Wheler on the 9th of June, expressive of
their loyalty, and requesting that the new rifle might be served out to
them. The government, in reply to all these petitions and
demonstrations, stated that the supply of Enfield rifles received from
England was too small to permit the granting of the request; but that
the request itself was received with much gratification by the
governor-general, ‘proving as it does that the men of these regiments
consider there is nothing objectionable either in the rifles or in the
cartridges to their caste or religion.’

Little was it suspected in how short a time all these complimentary
exchanges of good words would be brought to nought. On the evening of
the 13th came to light those plottings or suspicions of plottings which
led to an imperative order for the disarming of the sepoys. In a private
letter on this subject, the major-general said: ‘Some villains in the
corps were trying to incite the good men and true to mutiny; these good
men ought to have given the villains up to justice;’ but as they did
not, he thought it a safe plan to disarm them all. When this
determination was made known by the authorities, many of the English
officers of the native regiments felt much vexed and hurt; they still
relied on their men, and deemed it a humiliation to themselves that such
a course should be deemed necessary. Captain Greene, of the 70th N. I.,
wrote to Major-general Hearsey, on the Sunday morning: ‘Is it of any use
my interceding with you on behalf of my old corps, which, for nigh
twenty-five years, has been my pride and my home? I cannot express to
you the pain with which I have just heard that they are this evening to
be subjected to the indignity of being disarmed. Had the men misbehaved,
I should have felt no sympathy for them; but they have not committed
themselves in any way; and surely after the governor-general’s laudatory
order and expression of confidence, it would not be too much to expect
that a fair trial of their sincerity should be afforded.’ Captain Greene
proceeded to say that he knew the men thoroughly, and had the most firm
and undoubted reliance on their fidelity. The authorities were not
affected by this appeal. At four o’clock in the afternoon, the 35th and
78th British regiments were marched to the parade-ground at Barrackpore,
with loaded muskets, and supported by six 12-pounders loaded with
grape-shot. The native troops were then summoned to the parade, and
ordered at once to surrender their arms; this they did quietly and
promptly, for even if disposed to resist, the force against them was too
formidable. In little more than an hour, the muskets of the disarmed
regiments were on the way to Calcutta. The sepoys bore the trial
quietly, but with many expressions of mortification.

Captain Greene, in the postscript to a letter written on the following
day to the major-general, mentioned certain facts which ought to have
opened his eyes to the possibility of deceit and danger. A Mussulman
sepoy of the 70th regiment came to him on the 9th of the month, and
after conversation on some contemplated movements of the captain, said:
‘Whatever you do, do not take your lady with you.’ He gave as a reason:
‘Because the minds of the native soldiers are now in a state of
inquietude; and it would be better to let the lady remain here till
everything is settled in the country, as there is no knowing what might
happen.’ On being asked whether he had reason to doubt the regiment, he
exclaimed: ‘Who can tell the hearts of a thousand men!’ He implied that
a few evil men were endeavouring to corrupt the rest. This communicative
sepoy went on to observe, that the cartridge grievance, although founded
on a misconception in the first instance, was afterwards used as a means
of imposing on the ignorant. There were men who went about saying that
the English endeavoured to destroy the caste and religion of the people;
that the government ought to be uprooted; and that as the Company had
been driven out of Cabool, so might it be driven out of the whole of
India, if the people acted resolutely and with one accord. Another
sepoy, a Hindoo, in the same regiment, told Captain Greene that the
Mussulmans generally in all regiments were in the habit of talking to
the effect that their ‘raj’ or supremacy was coming round again. Many
others spoke indistinctly to him about dangers, and promised to protect
him if peril arose. It may not be improbable that most of the men in
that regiment were really disposed to be faithful, and that the danger
arose from a smaller number of malcontents. Captain Greene went to see
his men in the lines after the disarming; it was a painful interview to
them all. ‘I have been for upwards of an hour,’ he wrote, ‘endeavouring
to allay the excited feelings of our men, who were in such a state of
depression, that many were crying bitterly, and none could cook their
food. Some, too, had sold their cooking utensils for a mere trifle in
the bazaar.’ The regiment had not been disbanded as if in disgrace, only
disarmed as if for precaution; but the men nevertheless regarded it as a
degradation. Some budmashes (scoundrels) had been amongst them in the
night, and had urged them to desert, telling them that handcuffs and
manacles had been sent for. The captain earnestly implored that their
arms should be given back to them: ‘Unless something be speedily done to
reassure them, the influence of their European officers will cease to
exist, and a good regiment will crumble away before hopelessness and
desertion. All of us, black and white, would be so thankful to you if
you would get us back our arms, and sent away from here at once.’ This
request was not acceded to.

Within ten days after the disarming, a hundred and thirty-three men of
the disarmed regiments (2d, 34th, 43d, and 70th) deserted from
Barrackpore and Calcutta, nearly all belonging to the 43d. The
magistrates and military authorities in many parts of Bengal were
troubled with the arrival of these deserters, who came two or three at a
time, and endeavoured to excite disaffection against a government which,
as they alleged, had disgraced them without a cause. A reward of fifty
rupees was offered for the apprehension of every deserter.

Departing from Calcutta and Barrackpore as centres, it may be well now
to sketch the state of the surrounding districts during the month of
June. Towards the northeast, many towns, especially Jessore, were thrown
occasionally into excitement by occurrences which would have been
regarded as trivial if happening at any other time, but which required
watchful attention on the part of the authorities in the peculiarly
sensitive state of the native mind. In the Dinagepore district, near the
Bhotan frontier, several moulvies spread reports of the intention of the
government forcibly to convert native children to Christianity: these
reports caused many of the children in the vernacular school at
Muthoorapore to be withdrawn by their parents; and on an examination of
the moulvies being ordered by the authorities, it was found that the
fakeers and other religious mendicants were accustomed to carry
treasonable letters and concealed correspondence within the bamboo
sticks with which most of them were provided. North and west of the
Anglo-Indian capital, a similar state of public affairs was presented; a
succession of troublous symptoms that required attention, but without
entailing serious consequences. In some instances disarmed sepoys were
detected exciting disaffection; in others, seditious placards were
posted up in the towns. In the country around Ramgurh a few
circumstances transpired to produce temporary disquietude. The Ramgurh
battalion was believed to be stanch; but as some discontent had spread
among the troops in relation to the cartridge grievance, and as two or
three petty chieftains exhibited symptoms of disloyalty, judicious and
early precautions were taken against disaster—especially at Hazarebagh,
where the treasury contained a lac of rupees, and where the jail,
containing nine hundred prisoners, was guarded solely by two companies
of a native regiment: a kind of guard which had proved very perilous at
Meerut a few weeks earlier. At Midnapore, a sepoy of the jail-guard,
detected in an attempt to excite mutiny among the men of the
Shekhawuttie battalion, was tried, found guilty, and hanged.

The most serious event in the districts around Calcutta, perhaps, was
one that occurred in the Sonthal Pergunnahs; in which the 5th irregular
cavalry displayed a tendency, fatal on a small scale, and likely to have
become much more disastrous if not speedily checked. Lieutenant Sir N.
R. Leslie was adjutant of that regiment at Rohnee. On the 12th of June,
this officer, Major Macdonald, and Assistant-surgeon Grant, while
sitting in Sir Norman Leslie’s compound, in the dusk of the evening,
were suddenly attacked by three men armed with swords. Major Macdonald
received a blow which laid his head open, and rendered him insensible
for many hours; Mr Grant received sword-wounds on the arm and the leg;
while Sir Norman was so severely wounded that he expired within half an
hour. The miscreants escaped after this ferocious attack, without
immediate detection.[19] At first it was hoped and believed that the
regiment had not been dishonoured by the presence of these murderers on
the muster-roll; Mr Grant was of this opinion; but Major Macdonald,
commandant of the regiment, took a less favourable view. The offenders,
it soon appeared, belonged to the regiment; a chase was ordered; two of
the men were found after a time, with their clothes smeared with blood;
while the third, when taken, candidly owned that it was his sword that
had given the death-stroke to Leslie. The murderers were speedily
executed, but without giving any information touching the motives that
led to their crime. Three sowars of the regiment, Ennus Khan, Kurreem
Shere Khan, and Gamda Khan, received encomiums and rewards for the
alacrity with which they had pursued the reckless men who had thus
brought discredit on their corps. The official dispatches relating to
this affair comprised two letters written by Major Macdonald to Captain
Watson, an officer commanding a squadron of the same regiment at
Bhagulpore; they afford curious illustration of the cheerful, daring,
care-for-naught spirit in which the British officers were often
accustomed to meet their difficulties during those exciting scenes: ‘I
am as fairly cut and neatly scalped as any Red Indian could do it. I got
three cracks in succession on the head before I knew I was attacked. I
then seized my chair by the arms, and defended myself successfully from
two of them on me at once; I guarded and struck the best way I could;
and at last Grant and self drove the cowards off the field. This is
against my poor head, writing; but you will be anxious to know how
matters really were; I expect to be in high fever to-morrow, as I have
got a bad gash into the skull besides being scalped.’ This was written
on the day after the murderous attack; and three days later the major
wrote: ‘My dear fellow, I have had a sad time of it, and am but little
able to go through such scenes, for I am very badly wounded; but, thank
God, my spirits and pluck never left me for a moment. When you see my
poor old head, you will wonder I could hold it up at all. I have
preserved my scalp in spirits of wine—such a jolly specimen!’

In Cuttack, bounding the northwest corner of the Bay of Bengal, many
Mohammedans were detected in the attempt to sap the loyalty of the
Shekhawuttie battalion. Lieutenant-colonel Forster, with the
head-quarters of that corps at Midnapore, succeeded by his personal
influence in keeping the men from anything beyond slight acts of
insubordination; but he had many proofs, in that town and in the Cuttack
district, that the Company’s ‘raj’ or rule was being preached against by
many emissaries of rebellion.

This rapid sketch will have shewn that the eastern divisions of Bengal
were not disturbed by any very serious tumults during the month of June.
Incipient proofs of disaffection were, it is true, manifested in many
places; but they were either unimportant in extent, or were checked
before they could rise to perilous magnitude. In the western divisions,
however, the troubles were more serious; the towns were further from
Calcutta, nearer to the turbulent region of Oude; and these conditions
of locality greatly affected the steadiness and honesty of the native
troops.

During the earlier days of the month, considerable excitement prevailed
in the districts of which Patna and Dinapoor are the chief towns; in
consequence of the general spread of a belief, inculcated by the
deserters from Barrackpore, that the government contemplated an active
interference with the religion of the people. A similar delusion, it was
speedily remembered, had existed in the same parts about two years
earlier; the government had adopted such measures as, it was hoped,
would remove the prejudice; but the events of 1857 shewed that the
healing policy of 1855 had not been effective for the purpose in view.
Until the 13th of June, the disaffection was manifested only by sullen
complainings and indistinct threats; but on that day matters presented a
more serious aspect. The various magistrates throughout the Patna
division reported to the lieutenant-governor of Bengal, that although no
acts of violence had been committed, the continuance of tranquillity
would mainly depend on the fidelity of the native troops at Dinapoor,
the most important military station in that part of India. Dinapoor may,
in fact, be regarded as the military post belonging to the great city of
Patna, which is about ten miles distant.[20] The magistrates also
reported, as one result of their inquiries, that the Mohammedans in that
division were thoroughly disaffected; and that if any disturbance
occurred at head-quarters (Dinapoor), a rapid extension of the revolt
would be almost inevitable. When these facts and feelings became known,
such precautionary measures were adopted as seemed best calculated to
avert the impending evils. An increase was made in the police force at
Behar; the ghats or landing-places were carefully watched and regulated;
the frontiers of the neighbouring disaffected districts were watched; a
portion of the Company’s treasure at Arrah and Chupra was sent off to
Calcutta, and the rest removed to Patna for safe custody under a guard
of Sikhs; a volunteer guard was formed in that city; measures were taken
to defend the collectorate and the opium factories; six companies of the
Sikh police battalion were marched from Soorie to Patna; and places of
rendezvous for European residents were appointed at many of the
stations, to facilitate a combined plan of action in the event of
mutinous symptoms appearing among the native troops. The Rajahs of
Bettiah and Hutwah addressed letters expressive of loyalty and affection
towards the government, and placed men and elephants at the disposal of
the local authorities, to assist in the maintenance of tranquillity.

Towards the middle of the month, an alarm prevailed at Chupra and Arrah,
consequent on the mutinous proceedings in certain towns further to the
west, presently to be noticed. Large works were under construction near
those places in connection with the East India Railway; and the
Europeans engaged in those operations, as well as others resident in the
two towns, made a hasty retreat, and sought for refuge at Dinapoor. The
magistrates and most of the civil officers remained at their posts, and
by their firmness prevented the alarm from degenerating into a panic. At
Gayah or Gya, a town between Patna and the great trunk-road—celebrated
for its Bhuddist and Hindoo temples, and the great resort of pilgrims of
both religions—considerable apprehension prevailed, on account of the
unprotected state of a large amount of Company’s treasure in the
collectorate; an apprehension increased by the presence of many
desperate characters at that time in the jail, and by the guard of the
jail being wholly composed of natives who would remain steady only so
long as those at Dinapoor were ‘faithful to their salt.’ Fortunately,
the authorities were enabled to obtain a guard of European soldiers,
chiefly from her majesty’s 64th regiment; and thus the ruffians, more to
be dreaded than even the rebellious sepoys, were overawed.

It is impossible to avoid seeing, in the course of events throughout
India, how much importance ought to be attached to the matter just
adverted to—the instrumentality of robbers and released prisoners in
producing the dreadful scenes presented. India swarms with depredators
who war on the peaceful and industrious inhabitants—not merely
individual thieves, but robber-tribes who infest certain provinces,
directing their movements by the chances of war or of plunder. Instead
of extirpating these ill-doers, as Asiatic sovereigns have sometimes
attempted to do, the East India Company has been accustomed to capture
and imprison them. Hence the jails are always full. At every important
station we have several hundred, sometimes two or three thousand, such
prisoners. The mutiny set loose these mischievous elements. The release
of crowds of murderers and robbers from prison, the flocking of others
from the villages, and the stimulus given to latent rogues by the
prospect of plunder, would account for a large amount of the outrage
committed in India—outrage which popular speech in England attaches to
the sepoys alone.

On the 13th of June, the first indications of a conspiracy at Patna were
detected. A nujeeb of the Behar station guards was discovered in an
attempt to tamper with the Sikhs of the police corps, and to excite them
to mutiny: he was tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged;
while three Sikhs, who had been instrumental in his apprehension, were
publicly rewarded with fifty rupees each. In singular contrast to this,
three other nujeebs of the same force, on the same day, placed in the
commissioner’s hands a letter received from sepoys at Dinapoor, urging
the Behar guards to mutiny, and to seize the treasure at Patna before
the Sikhs could arrive to the rescue: this, as a valuable service
rendered at a critical period, was rewarded by donations of two hundred
rupees to each of the three men. The next symptoms were exhibited by
certain members of the Wahabee sect of Mohammedans at Patna. The
fanatical devotion of these Mussulmans to their spiritual leaders, their
abnegation of self, and their mode of confidential communication with
each other without written documents, render it at all times difficult
to produce legal proof of any machinations among them; while their
mutual fidelity enables them to resist all temptation to betrayal. The
commissioner of Patna, having suspicions of the proceedings of the
Wahabees in that city, deemed it politic to detain four of their number
as hostages for the sect generally—a sect formidable for its
organisation, and peculiarly hostile to Christians. They were placed in
a sort of honourable confinement, while a general disarming of the
inhabitants took place. On another occasion a police jemadar, Waris Ali,
was ascertained to be in possession of a large amount of treasonable
correspondence; he was known to be in some way related to the royal
family of Delhi; and the letters found in his house threw suspicion on
more than one native official in the service of the Company.

The most serious affair at Patna, however, occurred about the close of
the period to which this chapter more particularly relates. At about
eight o’clock in the evening of the 3d of July, a body of Mohammedans,
variously estimated from eighty to two hundred, assembled at the house
of one of their number, one Peer Ali Khan, a bookseller, and proceeded
thence to the Roman Catholic church and mission-house in Patna, with two
large green flags, a drum beating, and cries of ‘Ali! Ali!’ The priest,
whom they probably intended to murder, fortunately escaped. They emerged
into the street, reiterated their cries, and called on the populace to
join them. Dr Lyell, principal assistant to the opium agent, immediately
went to the spot, accompanied by nine Sikhs. He rode ahead of his
support, was shot down by the rioters, and his body mangled and
mutilated before the Sikhs could come up. A force of Sikhs and nujeebs
speedily recovered the unfortunate gentleman’s body, killed some of the
insurgents, and put the rest to flight. This appeared at first to be a
religious demonstration: a Mohammedan fanatic war-cry was shouted, and
the property of the Catholic mission was destroyed, but without any
plunder or removal. Thirty-six of the insurgents were afterwards
captured and tried; sixteen of the number, including Peer Ali Khan, who
was believed to be the murderer of Dr Lyell, were condemned to death;
eighteen, including a jemadar, were sentenced to various terms of
imprisonment; and two were acquitted. All the facts of this temporary
outbreak were full of significance; for it soon became evident that
something more than mere religious hostility had been intended. Peer Ali
Khan was offered a reprieve if he would divulge the nature of the
conspiracy; but, like a bold, consistent fanatic, he remained defiant to
the last, and nothing could be got out of him. It was afterwards
ascertained that he had been in secret communication with an influential
native at Cawnpore ever since the annexation of Oude, and that the
details of some widely-spread plot had been concerted between them. The
capture of the thirty-six rioters had been effected by the disclosures
of one of the band, who was wounded in the struggle; he declared that a
plot had been in existence for many months, and that men were regularly
paid to excite the people to fight for the Padishah of Delhi. Letters
found in Peer Ali’s house disclosed an organised Mussulman conspiracy to
re-establish Mohammedan supremacy on the ruins of British power; and
besides the correspondence with Cawnpore and Delhi, a clue was obtained
to the complicity of an influential Mohammedan at Lucknow.

Patna was sufficiently well watched and guarded to prevent the
occurrence of anything of more serious import. Nevertheless, the
European inhabitants were kept in great anxiety, knowing how much their
safety depended on the conduct of the sepoys at Dinapoor. The
commissioner at the one place, and the military commandant at the other,
were naturally rejoiced to receive any demonstrations of fidelity on the
part of the native troops, even if the sincerity of those demonstrations
were not quite free from doubt. On the 3d of June, Colonel Templer
assembled the 7th regiment B. N. I. on the military parade at Dinapoor,
to read to them the flattering address which Viscount Canning had made
to the 70th regiment at Barrackpore, on the manifestation of loyalty by
that corps. On the conclusion of this ceremony, the native commissioned
officers came up to the colonel, and presented to him a petition, signed
by two subadars and five jemadars on the part of the whole regiment. The
petition is worth transcribing,[21] to shew in what glowing language the
native troops could express their grateful allegiance—but whether
sincere or insincere, no European could at that time truly tell. Colonel
Templer desired that all the men who acknowledged the petition to
contain an expression of their real sentiments and wishes, would
shoulder their arms in token thereof; on which every one present
shouldered arms. The native officers afterwards assured the colonel,
with apparent earnestness, that it was the eager wish of the whole
regiment to be afforded an opportunity of removing even a suspicion of
their disaffection. When Colonel Templer repeated this to Major-general
Lloyd, the military commander of the Dinapoor division, and when Lloyd
forwarded the communication to Calcutta, the regiment of course received
thanks for the demonstration, and were assured that ‘their good conduct
will be kept in remembrance by the governor-general in council.’ It was
not until a later month that the small value of these protestations was
clearly shewn; nevertheless the Europeans at Dinapoor continued
throughout June to be very uneasy. Almost every one lived in the square;
the guns were kept ready loaded with grape; the few European troops were
on the alert; and pickets were posted all round the station. A motley
assemblage—planters, soldiers, civilians, railway men, and others—was
added to the ordinary residents, driven in from the surrounding
districts for protection. The officers gave up their mess-house to the
ladies, who completely filled it.

In Tirhoot, a district north of Patna, on the other side of the Ganges,
the planters and others were thrown into great excitement during the
month of June, by the events occurring around them. About the middle of
the month, planters left their estates and civilians their homes, to go
for refuge to the Company’s station at Mozufferpoor. Eighty gentlemen,
thirty ladies, and forty children, were all crowded into two houses; the
ladies and children shut up at night, while the men slept in verandahs,
or in tents, or took turns in patrolling. The nujeebs, stationed at that
place, were suspected of being in sympathy with the mutineers; one of
the Company’s servants, disguised as a native, went to their quarters
one night, and overheard them conversing about murdering the Europeans,
looting the treasury (which contained seven lacs of rupees), and
liberating the prisoners. This was the alarm that led to the assembling
of the Europeans at the station for mutual protection; and there can be
little doubt that the protection would have been needed had Dinapoor
fallen. One of the Mohammedan inhabitants was seized at Mozufferpoor,
with a quantity of treasonable correspondence in his possession; and the
commandant at Segowlie condemned to the gallows with very little scruple
several suspicious characters in various parts of the district.

Advancing up the Ganges, we come to Ghazeepore, on its northern or left
bank. This town, containing forty thousand inhabitants, is rendered
somewhat famous by a palace once belonging to the Nawab of Oude, but now
in a very ruinous state; also by the beautiful Grecian tomb erected to
the Marquis of Cornwallis; and by the rose-gardens in its vicinity,
where rose-leaves are gathered for making the celebrated otto or attar.
The bungalows of the Company’s civil servants are situated west of the
town; and beyond them is the military cantonment. During the early part
of the month of June, the 65th native infantry, stationed at Ghazeepore,
was sorely tempted by the mutinying of so many other regiments at
stations within forty or fifty miles; but they remained stanch for some
time longer.

Not so the sepoys at Azimghur, a town northwest of Ghazeepore,
containing twelve or fourteen thousand inhabitants, and a military
station. At this place the 17th regiment Bengal native infantry was
posted at the beginning of June. On the 3d of the month an escort of
thirty troopers of the 13th irregular cavalry brought in seven lacs of
rupees from Goruckpore, _en route_ to Benares. At six o’clock in the
evening the treasure was started again on its journey; and in three
hours afterwards the 17th mutinied, influenced apparently rather by the
hope of _loot_ than by any political or religious motives. During
several days previously the authorities had been employed in throwing up
a breastwork around the cutchery or government offices; but this was not
finished. The sepoys killed their quartermaster, and wounded the
quartermaster-sergeant and two or three others. The officer on guard at
the fort of the cutchery sent out a picket to the lines, and ordered the
native artillerymen to load their guns: this they refused to do; and
hence the infantry were left to follow out their plan of spoliation. The
officers were at mess when the mutiny began; seeing the danger, they
placed the ladies on the roof of the cutchery. When the sepoys came up,
they formed a square round the officers, and swore to protect them; but
stated that, as some men of the regiment were very hostile, it would be
better for all the officers to depart. The men brought carriages for
them, and escorted them ten miles on the road to Ghazeepore. Many of the
civilians hurried away to the same town, reaching that place in terrible
plight. The marauders from the neighbouring villages did not fail in
their usual course; they plundered the bungalows of the Europeans at
Azimghur, or such of them as were left unprotected.

Far more serious were the events at Benares, than at any city or station
eastward of it, during the month of June. It would in all probability
have been still more deplorable, had not European troops arrived just at
that time. Lieutenant-colonel Neill reached Benares on the 3d of June,
with sixty men and three officers of the 1st Madras Fusiliers
(Europeans), of which regiment five more companies were in the rear,
expecting to reach that city in a few days. The regiment had been
despatched in great haste by Viscount Canning, in the hope that it would
appear before Cawnpore in time to relieve Sir Hugh Wheeler and his
unfortunate companions. Neill intended, after a day’s repose, to have
started from Benares for Cawnpore on the 4th; but he received timely
notice from Lieutenant Palliser that the 17th B. N. I. had mutinied at
Azimghur; and that the treasure, passing through Azimghur in its way
from Goruckpore to Benares (mentioned in the last paragraph), had been
plundered by the mutinous sepoys. Brigadier Ponsonby, the commandant at
Benares, at once consulted with Colonel Neill concerning the propriety
of disarming the 37th regiment Bengal infantry, stationed at that city.
Neill recommended this to be done, and done at once. It was then
arranged that Neill should make his appearance on parade at five o’clock
that same afternoon, accompanied by a hundred and fifty of H.M. 10th
foot, sixty of the Madras Fusiliers, and three guns of No. 12
field-battery, with thirty artillerymen. They were to be joined on
parade by the Sikh regiment, in which Lieutenant-colonel Gordon placed
full confidence, and about seventy of the 13th irregular cavalry. The
37th, suspecting what was intended, ran to the bells of arms, seized and
loaded their muskets, and fired upon the Europeans; several men fell
wounded, and the brigadier was rendered powerless by a sun stroke.
Thereupon Colonel Neill, assuming the command, made a dash on the native
lines. What was now the perplexity of the colonel, and the mortification
of Gordon, at seeing the Sikhs halt, waver, turn round, wound several of
their officers, fire at the Europeans, and disperse! It was one of those
inexplicable movements so frequently exhibited by the native troops.
Neill, now distrusting all save the Europeans, opened an effective fire
with his three guns, expelled the 37th from their lines, burnt the huts,
and then secured his own men and guns in the barrack for the night.
Early on the morning of the 5th he sent out parties, and brought in such
of the arms and accoutrements of the 37th as had been left behind; he
also told off a strong body to bring the Company’s treasure from the
civil offices to the barracks. Colonel Neill fully believed that if he
had delayed his bold proceeding twelve hours, the ill-protected treasury
would have been seized by the 37th, and that the numerous European
families in the cantonment would have been placed in great peril before
he could reach them. The barracks were between the cantonment and the
city; and near them was a building called the mint. Into this mint,
before going on parade on the 4th, he had arranged that all the families
should go for refuge in the event of any disturbance taking place. A few
of the Sikhs and of the irregular cavalry remained faithful; and Colonel
Neill, with his two hundred and forty Europeans[22] and these fragments
of native regiments, contrived to protect the city, the barracks, the
mint, and the cantonment—a trying task, to defend so large an area from
mutinous sepoys and troopers, and predatory budmashes. He had to record
the deaths of Captain Guise, an army-surgeon, and two privates; and the
wounding of about double this number—casualties surprising for their
lightness, considering that there were nearly two thousand enemies to
contend against altogether. Of the insurgents, not less than two hundred
were killed or wounded. It was at once determined to strengthen the
neighbouring fort of Chunar or Chunargur; for which duty a small
detachment of Europeans was drafted off.

Such were the military operations of the 4th and 5th of June, as told in
the brief professional language of Colonel Neill. Various officers and
civilians afterwards dwelt more fully on the detailed incidents of those
two days. The 13th irregular cavalry and the Sikhs (Loodianah regiment)
had been relied on as faithful; and the 37th had greatly distinguished
itself in former years in the Punjaub and Afghanistan. This infantry
regiment, however, exhibited signs of insubordination on the 1st of the
month; and on the 3d, Lieutenant-colonel Gordon, second in command under
Ponsonby, told the brigadier that the men of the 37th were plotting with
the ruffians of the city. The brigadier, Mr Tucker the commissioner, and
Mr Gubbins the judge, thereupon conferred; and it was almost fully
determined, even before Colonel Neill’s arrival, and before the receipt
of disastrous news from Azimghur, that the disbandment of the regiment
would be a necessary measure of precaution. The irregular cavalry were
stationed at Sultanpore and Benares, and were called in to aid the
Europeans and Sikhs in the disarming. A few of the officers, unlike
their brethren, distrusted these troopers; and the distrust proved to be
well founded. The Sikhs, at the hour of need, fell away as soon as the
37th had seized their arms; and the irregulars were not slow to follow
their example; so that, in effect, the insurgents were to the Europeans
in the ratio of eight or ten to one. One of the English officers of the
37th has placed upon record a few facts shewing how strangely unexpected
was this among many of the Indian outbreaks, by the very men whose
position and experience would naturally lead them (one might suppose) to
have watched for symptoms. In the first instance, Major Barrett,
indignant at the slight which he believed to have been put upon the good
and faithful sepoys of the 37th, by the order for disarming, went openly
towards the regiment during the struggle at the bells of arms, to shew
his confidence in them; but when he saw some of his men firing at him,
and others approach him with fixed bayonets, he felt painfully that he
must both change his opinions and effect a retreat. Some of the 37th
did, however, remain ‘true to their salt;’ and these, under the major,
who had escaped the shots aimed at him, were among the troops sent to
guard Chunar Fort. As a second instance: after Captain Guise, of the
13th irregulars, had been shot down by men of the 37th, the brigadier
appointed Captain Dodgson to supply his place; but the irregulars,
instead of obeying him, flashed their swords, muttered some indistinct
observations, fired at him, and at once joined the rebels whom they had
been employed and expected to oppose. A third instance, in relation to
the Sikhs, shall be given in the words of the officer above adverted to:
‘Just as the irregulars were flashing their swords in reply to Captain
Dodgson’s short address, I was horrified by noticing about a dozen of
the Sikhs fire straight forward upon the European soldiers, who were
still kneeling and firing into the 37th. The next moment some half-dozen
of their muskets were staring me in the face, and a whole tempest of
bullets came whizzing towards me. Two passed through my forage-cap, and
set my hair on fire; three passed through my trousers, one just grazing
my right thigh. I rushed headlong at one of the fellows whom I had
noticed more especially aiming at me, but had scarcely advanced three
paces when a second volley of bullets saluted me.’ This volley brought
the officer low; he lay among the wounded, unrecognised for many hours,
but was fortunate enough to obtain surgical aid in time to avert a fatal
result. Many circumstances afterwards came to light, tending to shew
that, had not Neill and Ponsonby taken the initiative when they did, the
native troops would probably have risen that same night, and perhaps
imitated the Meerut outrages. One of the missionaries at Benares, who
escaped to Chunar as soon as the outbreak occurred, said in a letter:
‘Some of the 37th have confessed to their officers that they had been
told out in bands for our several bungalows, to murder all the Europeans
at ten o’clock that night; and that, too, at the time they were
volunteering to go to Delhi, and Colonel Spottiswoode was walking about
among them in plain clothes with the most implicit confidence.’

The fighting, during this exciting day at Benares, was practically over
as soon as the rebels began to retreat; but then the perils of the
civilians commenced. More correctly, however, it might be said that the
wild confusion began earlier; for while the brief but fierce military
struggle was still in progress on the parade-ground, the native guards
of the 37th at the treasury, the hospital, the mess-house, the bazaar,
and other buildings, broke from their duty, and proceeded to molest the
Europeans, with evident hopes of plunder. A Sikh, one Soorut Singh, has
been credited with an act which saved many lives and much treasure. He
was among the Sikhs of the treasury-guard; and when the rising began,
talked to his comrades, and prevented them from rising in mutiny; many
civilians, with their families, who had taken refuge in the collector’s
cutcherry, were saved through this friendly agency; while the treasure
was held intact till the following morning, when European troops
convoyed it to a place of safety. The Rev. Mr Kennedy, a resident in
Benares at that time, states that the faithfulness of these Sikhs, about
seventy in number, was deemed so remarkable under the circumstances,
that £1000 was given to them as a reward for their safe guardianship of
the £60,000 in the treasury. After the discomfiture on the
parade-ground, the rebels, maddened by defeat and thirsting for blood,
streamed through many of the compounds in the cantonment as they
retreated, and fired as they passed, but happily so much at random that
little danger was done. Several of the Europeans took refuge in stables
and outhouses. Others climbed to the roofs of their houses, and hid
behind the parapets. At the house of the commissioner, Mr Tucker, many
ladies and children found concealment under straw on the flat roof;
while the gentlemen stood by to defend them if danger should approach.
Three or four families took boat, and rowed out into the middle of the
Ganges, there to remain until news of returning tranquillity should
reach them; much booming of cannon and rattling of musketry, much
appearance of fire and smoke hovering over city and cantonment, kept the
occupants of the boats in constant anxiety; but when victory had
declared for the British, and these boat-parties had returned to land,
escorts arrived to convey the non-combatants and some of the officers to
the mint, in accordance with the arrangement already made. They arrived
at that building about midnight. Mr Kennedy described in a letter the
scene presented at the mint when he and his family reached it: ‘What a
scene of confusion and tumult was there. All in front, bands of English
soldiers, ready to act at a moment’s notice; men, women, and children,
high and low, huddled together, wondering at meeting at such a time and
in such a place, not knowing where they were to throw themselves down
for the night, and altogether looking quite bewildered.’ A young
officer, throwing into his narrative that light-heartedness which so
often bore up men of his class during the troubles of the period, gave a
little more detail of the first night and day at the place of refuge: ‘I
found everybody at the mint, which several had only reached after many
adventures. We bivouacked in the large rooms, and slept on the
roof—ladies, children, ayahs, and punkah-coolies; officers lying down
dressed, and their wives sitting up fanning them. In the compound or
enclosure below, there was a little handful of Europeans, perhaps a
hundred and fifty in all; others were at the barracks half a mile off.
There was a picknicking, gipsifying look about the whole affair, which
prevented one from realising that the small congregation were there
making a stand for a huge empire, and that their lives were upon the
toss-up of the next events.’

During a considerable portion of the month of June, the Europeans made
the mint their chief place of residence, the men going out in the
daytime to their respective duties, and the ladies and children
remaining in their place of refuge. On the 5th, few ventured out of the
building, unless heavily armed or strongly escorted. The mint had a most
warlike appearance, bristling with arms, and soon became almost
insupportably hot to the numerous persons congregated within it. The hot
winds of Benares at that time, nearly midsummer, were terrible for
Europeans to bear.

[Illustration:

  Mess-house of the Officers of the 6th Native Infantry at ALLAHABAD.
]

On the 7th, which was Sunday, Mr Kennedy performed divine service at the
mint, and a church-missionary at the barracks. Gradually, on subsequent
days, whole families would venture out for a few hours at a time, to
take a hasty glance at homes which they had so suddenly been called upon
to quit; but the mint continued for two or three weeks to be the refuge
to which they all looked. As European troops, however, were arriving at
Benares every day, on the way to the upper provinces, it soon became
practicable, under the energetic Neill, to insure tranquillity in and
near that city with a very small number of these so much-valued Queen’s
troops. The capture and execution of insurgents, under the combined
orders of Neill, Tucker, and Gubbins, respectively the commandant,
commissioner, and judge, were conducted with such stern promptness as
struck terror into the hearts of evildoers. It may be instructive to see
in what light Mr Kennedy, as a clergyman, regarded these terrible
executions, which are admitted to have been very numerous: ‘The gibbet
is, I must acknowledge, a standing institution among us at present.
There it stands, immediately in front of the flagstaff, with three ropes
always attached to it, so that three may be executed at one time.
Scarcely a day passes without some poor wretches being hurled into
eternity. It is horrible, very horrible! To think of it is enough to
make one’s blood run cold; but such is the state of things here, that
even fine delicate ladies may be heard expressing their joy at the
rigour with which the miscreants are treated. The swiftness with which
crime is followed by the severest punishment strikes the people with
astonishment; it is so utterly foreign to all our modes of procedure, as
known to them. Hitherto the process has been very slow, encumbered with
forms, and such cases have always been carried to the Supreme Court for
final decision; but now, the commissioner of Benares may give
commissions to any he chooses (the city being under martial law), to
try, decide, and execute on the spot, without any delay and without any
reference.’

Jounpoor or Juanpoor, a town about thirty miles northwest of Benares,
was one of those which shared with that city the troubles of the month
of June. A detachment of the Loodianah Sikh regiment, under Lieutenant
Mara, stationed at that place, mutinied most suddenly and unexpectedly
on the 5th, within less than an hour after they had shaken hands with
some of the European residents as a token of friendly feeling. The men
revolted through some impulse that the English in vain endeavoured to
understand at the time; but it was afterwards ascertained that some of
the mutinous 37th from Benares had been tampering with them. In the
first whirl of the tumult, the lieutenant and a civilian were shot down,
and the rest of the Europeans sought safety by flight. Information
reached Benares, after some days, that the fugitives were in hiding; and
a small detachment was at once despatched for their relief. It was now
found, as in many other instances, that amid all the brutality and
recklessness of the mutineers and budmashes, there were not wanting
humane natives in the country villages, ready to succour the distressed;
one such, named Hingun Lall, had sheltered and fed the whole of the
fugitives from Jounpoor for five days.

There were many stations at which the number of insurgent troops was
greater; there were many occasions on which the Europeans suffered more
general and prolonged miseries; there were many struggles of more
exciting character between the dark-skinned soldiers and the light—but
there was not perhaps, throughout the whole history of the Indian
mutinies, an outbreak which excited more astonishment than that at
Allahabad in the early part of June. It was totally unexpected by the
authorities, who had been blinded by protestations of loyalty on the
part of the troops. This place (see p. 107) occupies a very important
position in relation to Upper India generally; being at the point where
the Jumna and Ganges join, where the Benares region ends and the Oude
region begins, where the Doab and Bundelcund commence, where the
river-traffic and the road-traffic branch out in various directions, and
where the great railway will one day have a central station. As stated
in a former page, the 6th Bengal Native Infantry, stationed at
Allahabad, voluntarily came forward and offered their services to march
against the Delhi mutineers. For this demonstration they were thanked by
their officers, who felt gratified that, amid so much desertion,
fidelity should make itself apparent in this quarter. Rather from a
vague undefined uneasiness, than from any suspicion of this particular
regiment, the Europeans at Allahabad had for some time been in
uneasiness; there had been panics in the city; there had been much
patrolling and watching; and the ladies had been looking anxiously to
the fort as a place of refuge, whither most of them had taken up their
abode at night, returning to their homes in the cantonment or the city
in the daytime. From Benares, Lucknow, or other places, they apprehended
danger—but not from within.

It was on the 5th of June that Colonel Simpson, of the 6th regiment,
received Viscount Canning’s instructions to thank his men for their
loyal offer to march and fight against the rebels at Delhi; and it was
on the same day that news reached Allahabad, probably by telegraph, of
the occurrences at Benares on the previous day, and of the possible
arrival of some of the insurgents from that place. The officers still
continued to trust the 6th regiment, not only in virtue of the recent
protestation of fidelity by the men, but on account of their general
good conduct; indeed, this was one of the most trusted regiments in the
whole native army. Nevertheless, instructions were given to arm the
civilians as well as the military, and to prepare for making a good
stand at the fort. Many civilians, formed into a militia, under the
commandant of the garrison, slept in the fort that night, or relieved
each other as sentinels at the ramparts. There were at that time in the
fort, besides the women and children, about thirty invalid artillerymen,
under Captain Hazelwood; a few commissariat and magazine sergeants;
about a hundred volunteer civilians; four hundred Sikhs, of the
Ferozpore regiment, under Lieutenant Brasyer; and eighty men of the 6th
regiment, guarding the main gate. Several Europeans with their families,
thinking no danger nigh, slept outside the fort that night. Two
companies of the native regiment under three English officers, and two
guns under Captain Harward, were sent to guard the bridge of boats
across the Ganges in the direction of Benares. Captain Alexander, with
two squadrons of the 3d regiment Oude irregular cavalry, was posted in
the Alopee Bagh, a camping-ground commanding the roads to the station.
The main body of the 6th remained in their lines, three miles from the
fort. All proceeded quietly until about nine o’clock on the evening of
the 6th of June; when, to the inexpressible astonishment and dismay of
the officers, the native regiment rose in revolt. The two guns were
seized by them at the bridge-head, and Harward had to run for his life.
In the cantonment the officers were at mess, full of confidence in their
trusted troops, when the sepoys sounded the alarm bugle, as if to bring
them on parade; those who rushed out were at once aimed at, and nearly
all shot dead; while no fewer than nine young ensigns, mere boys who had
just entered on the career of soldiering, were bayoneted in the
mess-room itself. It was a cruel and bloody deed, for the poor youths
had but recently arrived, and were in hostility with none. Captain
Alexander, when he heard of the rising, hastened off to the lines with a
few of his troopers; but he was caught in an ambush by a body of the
sepoys, and at once shot down. The sepoys, joined by released prisoners
and habitual plunderers, then commenced a scene of murder and
devastation in all directions; Europeans were shot wherever they could
be seen; the few English women who had not been so fortunate as to seek
refuge in the fort, were grossly outraged before being put to death; the
telegraph wires were cut; the boats on the river were seized; the
treasury was plundered; the houses of native bankers, as well as those
of European residents, were pillaged; and wild licence reigned
everywhere. Terrible were the deeds recorded—a whole family roasted
alive; persons killed by the slow process of cutting off in succession
ears, nose, fingers, feet, &c.; others chopped to pieces; children
tossed on bayonets before their mother’s eyes.

An affecting incident is related of one of the unfortunate young
officers so ruthlessly attacked at the mess-house. An ensign, only
sixteen years of age, who was left for dead among the rest, escaped in
the darkness to a neighbouring ravine. Here he found a stream, the
waters of which sustained his life for four days and nights. Although
desperately wounded, he contrived to raise himself into a tree at
night-time, for protection from wild beasts. On the fifth day he was
discovered, and dragged by the brutal insurgents before one of their
leaders. There he found another prisoner, a Christian catechist,
formerly a Mohammedan, whom the sepoys were endeavouring to terrify and
torment into a renunciation of Christianity. The firmness of the native
was giving way as he knelt before his persecutors; but the boy-officer,
after anxiously watching him for a short time said: ‘Oh, my friend, come
what may, do not deny the Lord Jesus!’ Just at this moment the arrival
of Colonel Neill and the Madras Fusiliers (presently to be noticed) at
Allahabad was announced; the ruffians made off; the poor catechist’s
life was saved; but the gentle-spirited young ensign sank under the
wounds and privations he had endured. When this incident became known
through the medium of the public journals, the father of the young
officer, town-clerk of Evesham, told how brief had been the career thus
cut short. Arthur Marcus Hill Cheek had left England so recently as the
20th of March preceding, to commence the life of a soldier; he arrived
at Calcutta in May, was appointed to the 6th native regiment, reached
Allahabad on the 19th of the same month, and was shot down by his own
men eighteen days afterwards.

The inmates of the fort naturally suffered an agony of suspense on the
night of the 6th. When they heard the bugle, and the subsequent firing,
they believed the mutineers had arrived from Benares; and as the
intensity of the sound varied from time to time, so did they picture in
imagination the varying fortunes of the two hypothetical opposing
forces—the supposed insurgents from the east, and the supposed loyal 6th
regiment. Soon were they startled by a revelation of the real truth—that
the firing came from their own trusted sepoys. The Europeans in the
fort, recovering from their wonder and dismay, were fortunately enabled
to disarm the eighty sepoys at the gate through the energy of Lieutenant
Brasyer; and it was then found that these fellows had loaded and capped
their muskets, ready to turn out. Five officers succeeded in entering
during the night, three of them naked, having had to swim the Ganges.
For twelve days did the Europeans remain within the fort, not daring to
emerge for many hours at a time, lest the four hundred Sikhs should
prove faithless in the hour of greatest need. The chief streets of the
city are about half a mile from the fort; and during several days and
nights troops of rioters were to be seen rushing from place to place,
plundering and burning. Day and night the civilians manned the ramparts,
succeeding each other in regular watches—now nearly struck down by the
hot blazing sun; now pouring forth shot and shell upon such of the
insurgents as were within reach. The civilians or volunteers formed
themselves into three corps; one of which, called the Flagstaff
Division, was joined by about twenty railway men—sturdy fellows who had
suffered like the rest, and were not slow to avenge themselves on the
mutineers whenever opportunity offered. After a time, the volunteers
sallied forth into the city with the Sikhs, and had several skirmishes
in the streets with the insurgents—delighted at the privilege of
quitting for a few hours the hot crowded fort, even to fight. It was by
degrees ascertained that conspiracy had been going on in the city before
the actual outbreak occurred. The standard of insurrection was unfurled
by a native unknown to the Europeans: some supposed him to be a moulvie,
or Mohammedan religious teacher; but whatever may have been his former
position, he now announced himself as viceroy of the King of Delhi. He
quickly collected about him three or four thousand rebels, sepoys and
others, and displayed the green flag that constitutes the Moslem symbol.
The head-quarters of this self-appointed chieftain were in the higher
part of the city, at the old Mohammedan gardens of Sultan Khoosroo;
there the prisoners taken by the mutineers were confined—among whom were
the native Christian teachers belonging to the Rev. Mr Hay’s mission.

The movements of Colonel Neill must now be traced. No sooner did this
gallant and energetic officer hear of the occurrences at Allahabad, than
he proceeded to effect at that place what he had already done at
Benares—re-establish English authority by a prompt, firm, and stern
course of action. The distance between the two cities being about
seventy-five miles, he quickly made the necessary travelling
arrangements. He left Benares on the evening of the 9th, accompanied by
one officer and forty-three men of the Madras Fusiliers. The horses
being nearly all taken off the road, he found much difficulty in
bringing in the dâk-carriages containing the men; but this and all other
obstacles he surmounted. He found the country between Mirzapore and
Allahabad infested with bands of plunderers, the villages deserted, and
none of the authorities remaining. Major Stephenson, with a hundred more
men, set out from Benares on the same evening as Neill; but his
bullock-vans were still more slow in progress; and his men suffered much
from exposure to heat during the journey. Neill reached Allahabad on the
afternoon of the 11th. He found the fort almost completely invested; the
bridge of boats over the Ganges in the hands of a mob, and partly
broken; and the neighbouring villages swarming with insurgents. By
cautious manœuvring at the end of the Benares road, he succeeded in
obtaining boats which conveyed him and his handful of men over to the
fort. He at once assumed command, and arranged that on the following
morning the enemy should be driven out of the villages, and the bridge
of boats recaptured. Accordingly, on the morning of the 12th he opened
fire with several round-shot, and then attacked the rebels in the
village of Deeragunge with a detachment of Fusiliers and Sikhs: this was
effectively accomplished, and a safe road opened for the approach of
Major Stephenson’s detachment on the evening of that day. On the 13th
the insurgents were driven out of the village of Kydgunge. Neill had now
a strange enemy to combat within the fort itself—drunkenness and relaxed
discipline. The Sikhs, during their sallies into the city before his
arrival, had gained entrance into some of the deserted warehouses of
wine-merchants and others in the town, had brought away large quantities
of beverage, and had sold these to the European soldiers within the
fort—at four _annas_ (sixpence) per bottle for wine, spirits, or beer
indiscriminately; drunkenness and disorganisation followed, requiring
determined measures on the part of the commandant. He bought all the
remaining liquors obtainable, for commissariat use; and kept a watchful
eye on the stores still remaining in the warehouses in the town. Neill
saw reason for distrusting the Sikhs; they had remained faithful up to
that time, but nevertheless exhibited symptoms which required attention.
As soon as possible, he got them out of the fort altogether, and placed
them at various posts in the city where they might still render service
if they chose to remain faithful. His opinion of the native troops was
sufficiently expressed in this passage in one of his dispatches: ‘I felt
that Allahabad was really safe when every native soldier and sentry was
out of the fort; and as long as I command I shall not allow one to be on
duty in it.’ Nothing can be more striking than the difference of views
held by Indian officers on this point; some distrusted the natives from
the first, while others maintained faith in them to a very disastrous
extent.

From the time when Neill obtained the upper-hand in Allahabad, he was
incessantly engaged in chastising the insurgents in the neighbourhood.
He sent a steamer up the Jumna on the 15th, with a howitzer under
Captain Harward, and twenty fusiliers under Lieutenant Arnold; and these
worked much execution among the rebels on the banks. A combined body of
fusiliers, Sikhs, and irregular cavalry made an attack on the villages
of Kydgunge and Mootingunge, on the banks of the Jumna, driving out the
insurgents harboured there, and mowing them down in considerable
numbers. On subsequent days, wherever Neill heard of the presence of
insurgents in any of the surrounding villages, he at once attacked them;
and great terror seized the hearts of the malcontents in the city at the
celerity with which guns and gibbets were set to work. On the 18th he
sent eighty fusiliers and a hundred Sikhs up the river in a steamer, to
destroy the Patan village of Durriabad, and the Meewattie villages of
Sydabad and Russelpore. It was not merely in the villages that these
active operations were necessary; a large number of the mutinous sepoys
went off towards Delhi on the day after the outbreak, leaving the
self-elected chief to manage his rabble-army as he liked; and it was
against this rabble that many of the expeditions were planned. The city
suffered terribly from this double infliction; for after the spoliation
and burning effected by the marauders, the English employed cannon-balls
and musketry to drive those marauders out of the streets and houses; and
Allahabad thus became little other than a mass of blackened ruins.
Colonel Neill organised a body of irregular cavalry by joining Captain
Palliser’s detachment of the 13th irregulars with the few men of Captain
Alexander’s corps still remaining true to their salt. A force of about a
hundred and sixty Madras Fusiliers started from Benares on the 13th,
under Captain Fraser; he was joined on the road by Captain Palliser’s
detachment of troopers, just adverted to, of about eighty men, and the
two officers then proceeded towards Allahabad. They found the road
almost wholly in the hands of rebels and plunderers; but by fighting,
hanging, and burning, they cleared a path for themselves, struck terror
into the evildoers, and recovered much of the Company’s treasure that
had fallen into hostile hands. It is sad to read of six villages being
reduced to ashes during this one march; but stringent measures were
absolutely necessary to a restoration of order and obedience. Fraser and
Palliser reached Allahabad on the 18th, and their arrival enabled Neill
to prosecute two objects which he had at heart—the securing of
Allahabad, and the gradual collection of a force that might march to the
relief of poor Sir Hugh Wheeler and the other beleaguered Europeans at
Cawnpore. During these varied operations, the officers and men were
often exposed during the daytime to a heat so tremendous that nothing
but an intense interest in their work could have kept them up. ‘If I can
keep from fever,’ wrote one of them, ‘I shan’t care; for excitement
enables one to stand the sun and fatigue wonderfully. At any other time
the sun would have knocked us down like dogs; but all this month we have
been out in the middle of the day, toiling like coolies, yet I have
never been better in my life—such an appetite!’ To meet temporary
exigencies, the church, the government offices, the barracks, the
bungalows—all were placed at the disposal of the English troops, as fast
as they arrived up from Calcutta. These reinforcements, during the
second half of the month, consisted chiefly of detachments of her
Majesty’s 64th, 78th, and 84th foot. The peaceful inhabitants began to
return to the half-ruined city, shattered houses were hastily rebuilt or
repaired, trade gradually revived, bullocks and carriages arrived in
considerable number, supplies were laid in, the weather became cooler,
the cholera abated, and Colonel Neill found himself enabled to look
forward with much confidence to the future. The fort, during almost the
whole of the month, had been very much crowded, insomuch that the
inmates suffered greatly from heat and cholera. Two steam-boat loads of
women and children were therefore sent down the river towards Calcutta;
and all the non-combatants left the fort, to reoccupy such of their
residences as had escaped demolition. Some of the European soldiers were
tented on the glacis; others took up quarters in a tope of trees near
the dâk-bungalow; lastly, a hospital was fitted up for the cholera
patients.

With the end of June came tranquillity both to Benares and to Allahabad,
chiefly through the determined measures adopted by Colonel Neill; and
then he planned an expedition, the best in his power, for Cawnpore—the
fortunes of which will come under our notice in due time.


                                 Notes.

  _The Oude Royal Family._—When the news reached England that the
  deposed King of Oude had been arrested at Calcutta, in the way
  described in the present chapter, on suspicion of complicity with
  the mutineers, his relations, who had proceeded to London to appeal
  against the annexation of Oude by the Company, prepared a petition
  filled with protestations of innocence, on his part and on their
  own. The petition was presented to the House of Lords by Lord
  Campbell, though not formally received owing to some defect in
  phraseology. A memorial to Queen Victoria was couched in similar
  form. The petition and memorial ran as follows:

  ‘The petition of the undersigned Jenabi Auliah Tajara Begum, the
  Queen-mother of Oude; Mirza Mohummud Hamid Allie, eldest son and
  heir-apparent of his Majesty the King of Oude; and Mirra Mohummud
  Jowaad Allie Sekunder Hushmut Bahadoor, next brother of his Majesty
  the King of Oude, sheweth:

  ‘That your petitioners have heard with sincere regret the tidings
  which have reached the British kingdom of disaffection prevailing
  among the native troops in India; and that they desire, at the
  earliest opportunity, to give public expression to that solemn
  assurance which they some time since conveyed to her Majesty’s
  government, that the fidelity and attachment to Great Britain which
  has ever characterised the royal family of Oude continues unchanged
  and unaffected by these deplorable events, and that they remain, as
  Lord Dalhousie, the late governor-general of India, emphatically
  declared them, “a royal race, ever faithful and true to their
  friendship with the British nation.”

  ‘That in the midst of this great public calamity, your petitioners
  have sustained their own peculiar cause of pain and sorrow in the
  intelligence which has reached them, through the public papers, that
  his Majesty the King of Oude has been subjected to restraint at
  Calcutta, and deprived of the means of communicating even with your
  petitioners, his mother, son, and brother.

  ‘That your petitioners desire unequivocally and solemnly to assure
  her Majesty and your lordships, that if his Majesty the King of Oude
  has been suspected of any complicity in the recent disastrous
  occurrences, such suspicion is not only wholly and absolutely
  unfounded, but is directed against one, the whole tenor of whose
  life, character, and conduct directly negatives all such
  imputations. Your petitioners recall to the recollection of your
  lordships the facts relating to the dethronement of the King of
  Oude, as set forth in the petition presented to the House of Commons
  by Sir Fitzroy Kelly on the 25th of May last, that when resistance
  might have been made, and was even anticipated by the British
  general, the King of Oude directed his guards and troops to lay
  aside their arms, and that when it was announced to him that the
  territories of Oude were to be vested for ever in the Honourable
  East India Company, the king, instead of offering resistance to the
  British government, after giving vent to his feelings in a burst of
  grief, descended from his throne, declaring his determination to
  seek for justice at her Majesty’s throne, and from the parliament of
  England.

  ‘That since their resort to this country, in obedience to his
  Majesty’s commands, your petitioners have received communications
  from his Majesty which set forth the hopes and aspirations of his
  heart; that those communications not only negative all supposition
  of his Majesty’s personal complicity in any intrigues, but fill the
  minds of your petitioners with the profound conviction that his
  Majesty would feel, with your petitioners, the greatest grief and
  pain at the events which have occurred. And your petitioners desire
  to declare to your lordships, and to assure the British nation, that
  although suffering, in common with his heart-broken family, from the
  wrongs inflicted on them, from the humiliations of a state of exile,
  and their loss of home, authority, and country, the King of Oude
  relies only on the justice of his cause, appeals only to her
  Majesty’s throne and to the parliament of Great Britain, and
  disdains to use the arm of the rebel and the traitor to maintain the
  right he seeks to vindicate.

  ‘Your petitioners therefore pray of your lordships that, in the
  exercise of your authority, you will cause justice to be done to his
  Majesty the King of Oude, and that it may be forthwith explicitly
  made known to his Majesty and to your petitioners wherewith he is
  charged, and by whom, and on what authority, so that the King of
  Oude may have full opportunity of refuting and disproving the unjust
  suspicions and calumnies of which he is now the helpless victim. And
  your petitioners further pray that the King of Oude may be permitted
  freely to correspond with your petitioners in this country, so that
  they may also have opportunity of vindicating here the character and
  conduct of their sovereign and relative, of establishing his
  innocence of any offence against the crown of England, or the
  British government or people, and of shewing that, under every
  varying phase of circumstance, the royal family of Oude have
  continued steadfast and true to their friendship with the British
  nation.

  ‘And your petitioners will ever pray, &c.’

  Some time after the presentation of this petition and memorial, a
  curious proof was afforded of the complexity and intrigue connected
  with the family affairs of the princes of India. A statement having
  gone abroad to the effect that a son of the King of Oude had escaped
  from Lucknow during the troubles of the Revolt, a native
  representative of the family in London sought to set the public mind
  right on the matter. He stated that the king had had only three
  legitimate sons; that one of these, being an idiot, was confined to
  the zenana or harem at Lucknow; that the second died of small-pox
  when twelve years of age; that the third was the prince who had come
  to London with the queen-mother; and that if any son of the king had
  really escaped from Lucknow, he must have been illegitimate, a boy
  about ten years old. This communication was signed by Mahmoud
  Museehooddeen, residing at Paddington, and designating himself
  ‘Accredited Agent to his Majesty the King of Oude.’ Two days
  afterwards the same journal contained a letter from Colonel R.
  Ouseley, also residing in the metropolis, asserting that _he_ was
  ‘Agent in Chief to the King of Oude,’ and that Museehooddeen had
  assumed a title to which he had no right.

  _Castes and Creeds in the Indian Army_.—The Indian officers being
  much divided in opinion concerning the relative insubordination of
  Mohammedans and Hindoos in the native regiments, it may be useful to
  record here the actual components of one Bengal infantry regiment,
  so far as concerns creed and caste. The information is obtained from
  an official document relating to the cartridge grievance, before the
  actual Revolt began.

  The 34th regiment Bengal native infantry, just before its
  disbandment at Barrackpore in April, comprised 1089 men, distributed
  as follows:

 ┌─────────────────┬────────┬─────┬─────┬──────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┐
 │                 │Subadar-│Suba-│Jema-│Havil-│ Na- │Drum-│ Se- │ To- │
 │                 │ major. │dars.│dars.│dars. │iks. │mers.│poys.│tal. │
 ├─────────────────┼────────┼─────┼─────┼──────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
 │Brahmin Caste,   │       1│    2│    4│    24│   10│    —│  294│  335│
 │Lower Castes,    │       —│    5│    5│    25│   26│    1│  406│  468│
 │Christians,      │       —│    —│    —│     —│    —│   10│    2│   12│
 │Mussulmans,      │       —│    2│    1│    12│   24│    8│  153│  200│
 │Sikhs,           │       —│    —│    —│     —│    —│    —│   74│   74│
 ├─────────────────┼────────┼─────┼─────┼──────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
 │                 │       1│    9│   10│    61│   60│   19│  929│ 1089│
 └─────────────────┴────────┴─────┴─────┴──────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┘

  The portion of this regiment present at Barrackpore—the rest being
  at Chittagong—when the mutinous proceedings took place, numbered
  584, thus classified under four headings:

 ┌─────────────────┬────────┬─────┬─────┬──────┬─────┬─────┬─────┬─────┐
 │                 │Subadar-│Suba-│Jema-│Havil-│ Na- │Drum-│ Se- │ To- │
 │                 │ major. │dars.│dars.│dars. │iks. │mers.│poys.│tal. │
 ├─────────────────┼────────┼─────┼─────┼──────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
 │Brahmin Caste,   │       1│    2│    1│    12│    5│    —│  175│  196│
 │Lower Castes,    │       —│    1│    4│    13│   14│    1│  193│  226│
 │Mussulmans,      │       —│    1│    —│     7│   14│    4│   85│  111│
 │Sikhs,           │       —│    —│    —│     —│    —│    —│   51│   51│
 ├─────────────────┼────────┼─────┼─────┼──────┼─────┼─────┼─────┼─────┤
 │                 │       1│    4│    5│    32│   33│    5│  504│  584│
 └─────────────────┴────────┴─────┴─────┴──────┴─────┴─────┴─────┴─────┘

  When 414 of these men were dismissed from the Company’s service,
  their religions appeared as follows:

 ┌─────────────────┬─────────────┬─────────────────┬─────────┬────────┐
 │                 │Commissioned │Non-commissioned │ Sepoys. │ Total. │
 │                 │  Officers.  │    Officers.    │         │        │
 ├─────────────────┼─────────────┼─────────────────┼─────────┼────────┤
 │Brahmin Caste,   │            2│               12│      135│     149│
 │Lower Castes,    │            4│               19│      150│     173│
 │Mussulmans,      │            —│               14│       49│      63│
 │Sikhs,           │            —│                —│       29│      29│
 ├─────────────────┼─────────────┼─────────────────┼─────────┼────────┤
 │                 │            6│               45│      363│     414│
 └─────────────────┴─────────────┴─────────────────┴─────────┴────────┘

  It is not clearly stated how many Rajpoots, or men of the military
  caste, were included in the Hindoos who were not Brahmins.

  If the regiment thus tabulated had been cavalry, instead of
  infantry, the preponderance, as implied in Chapter I., would have
  been wholly on the side of the Mussulmans.

[Illustration:

  Sikh Cavalry.
]

-----

Footnote 19:

  The following is an extract of a letter written by Major Macdonald,
  after the attack upon him and his brother-officers: ‘Two days after,
  my native officer said he had found out the murderers, and that they
  were three men of my own regiment. I had them in irons in a crack,
  held a drumhead court-martial, convicted, and sentenced them to be
  hanged the next morning. I took on my own shoulders the responsibility
  of hanging them first, and asking leave to do so afterwards. That day
  was an awful one of suspense and anxiety. One of the prisoners was of
  very high caste and influence, and this man I determined to treat with
  the greatest ignominy, by getting the lowest caste man to hang him. To
  tell you the truth, I never for a moment expected to leave the hanging
  scene alive; but I was determined to do my duty, and well knew the
  effect that pluck and decision had on the natives. The regiment was
  drawn out; wounded cruelly as I was, I had to see everything done
  myself, even to the adjusting of the ropes, and saw them looped to run
  easy. Two of the culprits were paralysed with fear and astonishment,
  never dreaming that I should dare to hang them without an order from
  government. The third said he would not be hanged, and called on the
  Prophet and on his comrades to rescue him. This was an awful moment;
  an instant’s hesitation on my part, and probably I should have had a
  dozen of balls through me; so I seized a pistol, clapped it to the
  man’s ear, and said, with a look there was no mistake about: “Another
  word out of your mouth, and your brains shall be scattered on the
  ground.” He trembled, and held his tongue. The elephant came up, he
  was put on his back, the rope adjusted, the elephant moved, and he was
  left dangling. I then had the others up, and off in the same way. And
  after some time, when I had dismissed the men of the regiment to their
  lines, and still found my head on my shoulders, I really could
  scarcely believe it.’

Footnote 20:

  Dinapoor is remarkable for the fine barracks built by the Company for
  the accommodation of troops—for the officers, the European troops, and
  the native troops; most of the officers have commodious bungalows in
  the vicinity; and the markets or bazaars, for the supply of Europeans
  as well as natives, are unusually large and well supplied.

Footnote 21:

  ‘At present the men of bad character in some regiments, and other
  people in the direction of Meerut and Delhi, have turned from their
  allegiance to the bountiful government, and created a seditious
  disturbance, and have made choice of the ways of ingratitude, and
  thrown away the character of sepoys true to their salt.

  ‘At present it is well known that some European regiments have started
  to punish and coerce these rebels; we trust that by the favour of the
  bountiful government, we also may be sent to punish the enemies of
  government, wherever they are; for if we cannot be of use to
  government at this time, how will it be manifest and known to the
  state that we are true to our salt? Have we not been entertained in
  the army for days like the present? In addition to this, government
  shall see what their faithful sepoys are like, and we will work with
  heart and soul to do our duty to the state that gives us our salt.

  ‘Let the enemies of government be who they may, we are ready to fight
  them, and to sacrifice our lives in the cause.

  ‘We have said as much as is proper; may the sun of your wealth and
  prosperity ever shine.

  ‘The petition of your servants:

                                                 HEERA SING, Subadar,
                                                 ELLAHEE KHAN, Subadar,
                                                 BHOWANY SING, Jemadar,
                                                 MUNROOP SING, Jemadar,
                                                 HEERA SING, Jemadar,
                                                 ISSEREE PANDY, Jemadar,
                                                 MURDAN SING, Jemadar,

  of the Burra Crawford’s, or 7th regiment, native infantry, and of
  every non-commissioned officer and sepoy in the lines. Presented on
  the 3d June 1857.’

Footnote 22:

  The exact components of this gallant little band appear to have been
  as follow:

                                   Guns. Officers. Men.
                 Artillery,            3         1   30
                 Queen’s troops,       0         3  150
                 Madras Fusiliers,     0         3   60
                                       —         —  ———
                                       3         7  240

  Irrespective of the officers belonging to the mutinous regiments.



                               CHAPTER X.
                  OUDE, ROHILCUND, AND THE DOAB: JUNE.


The course of events now brings us again to that turbulent country,
Oude, which proved itself to be hostile to the British in a degree not
expected by the authorities at Calcutta. They were aware, it is true,
that Oude had long furnished the chief materials for the Bengal native
army; but they could not have anticipated, or at least did not, how
close would be the sympathy between those troops and the Oude irregulars
in the hour of tumult. Only seven months before the beginning of the
Revolt, and about the same space of time after the formal annexation, a
remarkable article on Indian Army Reform appeared in the _Calcutta
Review_, attributed to Sir Henry Lawrence; in which he commented freely
on the government proceedings connected with the army of Oude. He
pointed out how great was the number of daring reckless men in that
country; how large had been the army of the king before his deposition;
how numerous were the small forts held by zemindars and petty
chieftains, and guarded by nearly sixty thousand men; how perilous it
was to raise a new British-Oudian army, even though a small one, solely
from the men of the king’s disbanded regiments; how serious was the fact
that nearly a hundred thousand disbanded warlike natives were left
without employment; how prudent it would have been to send Oudians into
the Punjaub, and Punjaubees into Oude; and how necessary was an increase
in the number of British troops. The truth of these comments was not
appreciated until Sir Henry himself was ranked among those who felt the
full consequence of the state of things to which the comments referred.
Oude was full of zemindars, possessing considerable resources of various
kinds, having their retainers, their mud-forts, their arsenals, their
treasures. These zemindars, aggrieved not so much by the annexation of
their country, as by the manner in which territorial law-proceedings
were made to affect the tenure of their estates, shewed sympathy with
the mutineers almost from the first. The remarks of Mr Edwards,
collector at Boodayoun, on this point, have already been adverted to (p.
115). The zemindars did not, as a class, display the sanguinary and
vindictive passions so terribly evident in the reckless soldiery; still
they held to a belief that a successful revolt might restore to them
their former position and influence as landowners; and hence the
formidable difficulties opposed by them to the military movements of the
British.

Sir Henry Lawrence, as chief authority both military and civil in Oude,
found himself very awkwardly imperiled at Lucknow in the early days of
June. Just as the previous month closed, nearly all the native troops
raised the standard of rebellion (see p. 96); the 13th, 48th, and 71st
infantry, and the 7th cavalry, all betrayed the infection, though in
different degrees; and of the seven hundred men of those four regiments
who still remained faithful, he did not know how many he could trust
even for a single day. The treasury received his anxious attention, and
misgivings arose in his mind concerning the various districts around the
capital, with their five millions of inhabitants. Soon he had the
bitterness of learning that his rebellious troops, who had fled towards
Seetapoor, had excited their brethren at that place to revolt. The
Calcutta authorities were from that day very ill informed of the
proceedings at Lucknow; for the telegraph wires were cut, and the
insurgents stopped all dâks and messengers on the road. About the middle
of the month, Colonel Neill, at Allahabad, received a private letter
from Lawrence, sent by some secret agency, announcing that Seetapoor and
Shahjehanpoor were in the hands of the rebels; that Secrora, Beraytch,
and Fyzabad, were in like condition; and that mutinous regiments from
all those places, as well as from Benares and Jounpoor, appeared to be
approaching Lucknow on some combined plan of operations. He was
strengthening his position at the Residency, but looked most anxiously
for aid, which Neill was quite unable to afford him. Again, it became
known to the authorities at Benares that Lawrence, on the 19th, still
held his position at Lucknow; that he had had eight deaths by cholera;
and that he was considering whether, aid from Cawnpore or Allahabad
being unattainable, he could obtain a few reinforcements by steamer up
the Gogra from Dinapoor. Another letter, but without date, reached the
chief-magistrate of Benares, to the effect that Lawrence had got rid of
most of the remaining native troops, by paying them their due, and
giving them leave of absence for three months; he evidently felt
disquietude at the presence even of the apparently faithful sepoys in
his place of refuge, so bitterly had he experienced the hollowness of
all protestations on their part. He had been very ill, and a provisional
council had been appointed in case his health should further give way.
Although the Residency was the stronghold, the city and cantonment also
were still under British control: a fort called the Muchee Bhowan, about
three-quarters of a mile from the Residency, and consisting of a strong,
turreted, castellated building, was held by two hundred and twenty-five
Europeans with three guns. The cantonment was northeast of the
Residency, on the opposite side of the river, over which were two
bridges of approach. Sir Henry had already lessened from eight to four
the number of buildings or posts where the troops were stationed—namely,
the Residency, the Muchee Bhowan, a strong post between these two, and
the dâk-bungalow between the Residency and the cantonment; but after the
mutiny, he depended chiefly on the Residency and the Muchee Bhowan.
News, somewhat more definite in character, was conveyed in a letter
written by Sir Henry on the 20th of June. So completely were the roads
watched, that he had not received a word of information from Cawnpore,
Allahabad, Benares, or any other important place throughout the whole
month down to that date; he knew not what progress was being made by the
rebels, beyond the region of which Lucknow was more immediately the
centre; he still held the fort, city, Residency, and cantonment, but was
terribly threatened on all sides by large bodies of mutineers. On the
27th he wrote another letter to the authorities at Allahabad, one of the
very few (out of a large number despatched) that succeeded in reaching
their destination. This letter was still full of heart, for he told of
the Residency and the Muchee Bhowan being still held by him in force; of
cholera being on the decrease; of his supplies being adequate for two
months and a half; and of his power to ‘hold his own.’ On the other
hand, he felt assured that at that moment Lucknow was the only place
throughout the whole of Oude where British influence was paramount; and
that he dared not leave the city for twenty-four hours without danger of
losing all his advantages. His sanguine, hopeful spirit shone out in the
midst of all his trials; he declared that with one additional European
regiment, and a hundred artillerymen, he could re-establish British
supremacy in Oude; and he added, in a sportive tone, which shewed what
estimate he formed of some, at least, of the contingent corps, ‘a
thousand Europeans, a thousand Goorkhas, and a thousand Sikhs, with
eight or ten guns, will thrash anything.’ The Sikhs were irregulars
raised in the Punjaub; and throughout the contests arising out of the
Revolt, their fidelity towards the government was seldom placed in
doubt.

The last day of June was a day of sad omen to the English in Lucknow. On
the evening of the 29th, information arrived that a rebel force of six
or seven thousand men was encamped eight miles distant on the Fyzabad
road, near the Kookra Canal. Lawrence thereupon determined to attack
them on the following day. He started at six o’clock on the morning of
the 30th, with about seven hundred men and eleven guns.[23] Misled,
either by accident or design, by informants on the road, he suddenly
fell into an ambush of the enemy, assembled in considerable force near
Chinhut. Manfully struggling against superior numbers, Lawrence looked
forward confidently to victory; but just at the most critical moment,
the Oude artillerymen proved traitors—overturning their six guns into
ditches, cutting the traces of the horses, and then going over to the
enemy. Completely outflanked, exposed to a terrible fire on all sides,
weakened by the defection, having now few guns to use, and being almost
without ammunition, Sir Henry saw that retreat was imperative. A
disastrous retreat it was, or rather a complete rout; the heat was
fearful, the confusion was dire; and the officers and men fell rapidly,
to rise no more. Colonel Case, of H.M. 32d, receiving a mortal wound,
was immediately succeeded by Captain Steevens; he in like manner soon
fell, and was succeeded by Captain Mansfield, who escaped the day’s
perils, but afterwards died of cholera.

Sir Henry Lawrence now found himself in a grave difficulty. The English
position at Lucknow needed all the strengthening he could impart to it.
He had held, as already explained, not only the Residency, but the fort
of Muchee Bhowan and other posts. The calamity of the 30th, however,
having weakened him too much to garrison all, or even more than one, he
removed the troops, and then blew up the Muchee Bhowan, at midnight on
the 1st of July, sending 240 barrels of gunpowder and 3,000,000
ball-cartridges into the air. From that hour the whole of the English
made the Residency their stronghold. Later facts rendered it almost
certain that, if this abandonment and explosion had not taken place,
scarcely a European would have lived to tell the tale of the subsequent
miseries at Lucknow. By incessant exertions, he collected in the
Residency six months’ food for a thousand persons. The last hour of the
gallant man was, however, approaching. A shell, sent by the insurgents,
penetrated into his room on this day; his officers advised him to remove
to another spot, but he declined the advice; and on the next day, the 2d
of July, another shell, entering and bursting within the same room, gave
him a mortal wound. Knowing his last hour was approaching, Sir Henry
appointed Brigadier Inglis his successor in military matters, and Major
Banks his successor as chief-commissioner of Oude.

Grief, deep and earnest, took possession of every breast in the
Residency, when, on the 4th of July, it was announced that the good and
great Sir Henry Lawrence had breathed his last. He was a man of whom no
one doubted; like his gifted brother, Sir John, he had the rare power of
drawing to himself the respect and love of those by whom he was
surrounded, almost without exception. ‘Few men,’ said Brigadier Inglis,
at a later date, ‘have ever possessed to the same extent the power which
he enjoyed of winning the hearts of all those with whom he came in
contact, and thus insuring the warmest and most zealous devotion for
himself and the government which he served. All ranks possessed such
confidence in his judgment and his fertility of resource, that the news
of his fall was received throughout the garrison with feelings of
consternation only second to the grief which was inspired in the hearts
of all by the loss of a public benefactor and a warm personal friend....
I trust the government of India will pardon me for having attempted,
however imperfectly, to portray this great and good man. In him every
good and deserving soldier lost a friend and a chief capable of
discriminating, and ever on the alert to reward merit, no matter how
humble the sphere in which it was exhibited.’ Such was the soldier whom
all men delighted to honour,[24] and to whom the graceful compliment was
once paid, that ‘Sir Henry Lawrence enjoyed the rare felicity of
transcending all rivalry except that of his illustrious brother.’

How the overcrowded Residency at Lucknow bore all the attacks directed
against it; how the inmates, under the brave and energetic Inglis, held
on against heat, disease, cannon-balls, thirst, hunger, and fatigue; how
and by whom they were liberated—will come for notice in proper course.

The other districts of Oude fell one by one into the hands of the
insurgents. The narratives subsequently given by such English officers
as were fortunate enough to escape the perils of those evil days, bore a
general resemblance one to another; inasmuch as they told of faith in
native troops being rudely broken, irresolute loyalty dissolving into
confirmed hostility, treasuries of Company’s rupees tempting those who
might otherwise possibly have been true to their salt, military officers
and their wives obliged to flee for succour to Nynee Tal or some other
peaceful station, the families of civilians suddenly thrown homeless
upon the world, and blood and plunder marking the footsteps of the
marauders who followed the example set by the rebellious sepoys and
troopers. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the general
character of these outbreaks.

The mutiny at Fyzabad, besides being attended with a sad loss of life,
was note-worthy for certain peculiarities in the tactics of the
insurgents—a kind of cool audacity not always exhibited in other
instances. A brief description will shew the position and character of
this city. In a former chapter (p. 83) it was explained that Oude or
Ayodha, the city that gave name to the province, is very ancient as a
Hindoo capital, but has become poor and ruinous in recent times; and
that the fragments of many of its old structures were employed in
building Fyzabad, the Mohammedan Ayodha, nearly adjoining it on the
southwest. It was scarcely more than a hundred and thirty years ago that
the foundation of Fyzabad was established, by Saadut Ali Khan, the first
nawab-vizier of Oude; its advance in prosperity was rapid; but since the
selection of Lucknow as the capital in 1775, Fyzabad has fallen in
dignity; the chief merchants and bankers have migrated to Lucknow, and
the remaining inhabitants are mostly poor.

On the 3d of June, rumours circulated in Fyzabad that the mutinous 17th
regiment B. N. I. was approaching from Azimghur. Colonel Lennox, the
military commandant, at once conferred with the other officers, and
formed a plan for defending the place. The immediate alarm died away. On
the 7th, however, renewed information led the colonel to propose an
advance to Surooj-khoond, a place about five miles away, to repel the
mutineers before they could reach Fyzabad. The native troops objected to
go out, on the plea of disinclination to leave their families and
property behind; but they promised to fight valiantly in the cantonment
if necessary, and many of them shook hands with him in token of
fidelity. The evening of the 8th revealed the hypocrisy of this display.
The native troops, cavalry, infantry, and artillery, joined in a
demonstration which rendered all the officers powerless; every officer
was, in effect, made a prisoner, and placed under armed guard for the
night; two tried to escape, but were fired at and brought back. The
leader of the mutiny, Dhuleep Singh, subadar-major of the 22d regiment,
came to Colonel Lennox in the morning, and told him plainly that he and
the other officers must yield to the course of circumstances; that boats
would be provided to take them down the river Gogra towards Dinapoor,
but that he would not guarantee their safety after once they had
embarked. There was a cool impudence about the proceeding, unlike the
wild confusion exhibited at many of the scenes of outbreak. A moulvie,
who had been imprisoned in the quarter-guard for a disturbance created
in the city, and who had just been liberated by the mutineers, sent the
sub-assistant surgeon to Colonel Lennox with a message; thanking him for
kindnesses received during the imprisonment, and requesting that the
colonel’s full-dress regimentals might be sent to the moulvie. The
native surgeon begged pardon for his change of allegiance; urging that
times were altered, and that he must now obey the mutineers. There was
something more than mere effrontery, however, in the proceedings of
these insurgents;[25] there was a subordination amid insubordination.
‘The men,’ said one of the narrators, ‘guarded their officers and their
bungalows after mutinying, placed sentries over the magazines and all
public property, and sent out pickets to prevent the towns-people and
servants from looting. They held a council of war, in which the cavalry
proposed to kill the officers; but the 22d, objecting to this, informed
their officers that they would be allowed to leave, and might take with
them their private arms and property, but no public property—as that all
belonged to the King of Oude.’

Let us briefly trace the course of some of the European fugitives.
Colonel Lennox, powerless to resist, gave up his regimentals, and
prepared for a melancholy boat-departure with his wife and daughter.
They were escorted to the banks of the Gogra, and pushed off on their
voyage. From two in the afternoon on the 8th of June, until nearly
midnight, their boat descended the stream—often in peril from sentries
and scouts on shore, but befriended by two sepoys who had been sent to
protect them for a short distance. Much care and manœuvring were
required to effect a safe passage near the spot where the mutinous 17th
regiment was encamped; for it now became manifest that the 22d had in
effect sold the fugitives to the other corps. Early on the following
morning, information received on shore rendering evident the danger of a
further boat-voyage, the houseless wanderers, leaving in the boat the
few fragments of property they had brought away from Fyzabad, set out on
foot towards Goruckpore. With nothing but the clothes on their backs,
the family began their weary flight. After stopping under trees and by
the side of wells to rest occasionally, they walked until the heat of
day rendered necessary a longer pause. By a narrow chance they avoided
being dragged to the camp of the 17th regiment, by a trooper who
professed to have been offered two hundred rupees for the head of each
member of the family. A friendly chieftain, one Meer Mohammed Hossein
Khan, came to their rescue just at the moment of greatest peril. One of
the retainers of this man, however, more disposed for enmity than amity,
spoke to the colonel with great bitterness and fierceness of manner,
shewing that the prevalent rumours had made a deep impression in Oude;
he expressed a longing to shoot the English, ‘who had come to take away
their caste, and make them Christians.’ Meer Mohammed rebuked this man
for saying that a stable would do to shelter the refugees, for that he
was prepared ‘to kill them like dogs.’ The fugitives were taken to a
small fort, one of the numerous class lately adverted to, where the
zemindars and petty chieftains maintained a kind of feudal or clannish
independence. On the second day, the danger to sheltered Europeans
becoming apparent, Colonel Lennox, his wife, and daughter, put on native
dresses, and remained nine days concealed in a reed-hut behind the
zenana, treated very kindly and considerately by their protector. Meer
Mohammed went once or twice to Fyzabad, to learn if possible the plans
of the mutineers; he was told that they meant to attack Lucknow, and
then depart for Delhi. On the 10th day of the hiding, when news arrived
that the fort was likely to be attacked, the ladies went for shelter
into the zenana, while the colonel was hid in a dark woodshed. Happily,
however, it turned out that the suspected strangers were a party sent by
the collector of Goruckpore for the rescue of the family. Danger was now
nearly over. The fugitives reached Amorah, Bustee, Goruckpore, Azimghur,
and Ghazeepore, at which place they took steamer down to Calcutta. This
fortunate escape from great peril was almost wholly due to ‘the noble
and considerate’ Meer Mohammed, as Colonel Lennox very properly
characterises him.

Far more calamitous were the boat-adventures of the main body of Fyzabad
officers, of which an account was afterwards written, for the
information of government, by Farrier-sergeant Busher, of the light
field-battery. On the morning of the 8th, the wives and families of many
civilians, and of five non-commissioned European officers, had been sent
by Captain Orr to a place called Sheergunge, under the protection of a
friendly native, Rajah Maun Singh, to be free from peril if tumult
should arise. Early on the 9th, while Colonel Lennox was still at the
station, all or nearly all the other English were sent off by the
mutineers in four boats. One of these boats (mere dinghees, in which
little more than a bundle for each person could be put) contained eight
persons, one six, one five, and the remaining boat three. Only one
female was of the party, Mrs Hollum, wife of Sergeant-major Hollum of
the 22d native regiment. The first and second boats got ahead of the
other two, and proceeded about twenty miles down the river without
molestation; but then were seen troopers and sepoys approaching the
banks, with an evidently hostile intent. The firing soon became so
severe that the occupants of the first boat struck in for the off-shore,
and seven of them took to their heels—the eighth being unequal to that
physical exertion. They ran on till checked by a broad stream; and while
deliberating how to cross, persons approached who were thought to be
sepoys; the alarm proved false, but not before Lieutenants Currie and
Parsons had been drowned in an attempt to escape by swimming. The other
five, running on till quite exhausted, were fortunate enough to meet
with a friendly native, who sheltered them for several hours, and
supplied them with food. At midnight they started again, taking the road
to Amorah, which they were enabled to reach safely through the influence
of their kind protector—although once in great peril from a gang of
freebooters. They were glad to meet at Amorah the three occupants of the
fourth boat, who, like themselves, had escaped the dangers of the voyage
by running across fields and fording streams. At seven in the morning of
the 10th, the fugitives, now eight in company, recommenced their anxious
flight—aided occasionally by friendly natives, but at length betrayed by
one whose friendship was only a mask. They had to cross a nullah or
stream knee-deep, under pursuit by a body of armed men; here Lieutenant
Lindesay fell, literally cut to pieces; and when the other seven had
passed to the opposite bank, five were speedily hewn to the ground and
butchered—Lieutenants Ritchie, Thomas, and English, and two English
sergeants. The two survivors ran at their topmost speed, pursued by a
gang of ruffians; Lieutenant Cautley was speedily overtaken, and killed;
and then only Sergeant Busher remained alive. He, outrunning his
pursuers, reached a Brahmin village, where a bowl of sherbet was given
to him. After a little rest, he ran on again, until one Baboo Bully
Singh was found to be on the scent after him; he endeavoured to hide
under some straw in a hut; but was discovered and dragged out by the
hair of the head. From village to village he was then carried as an
exhibition to be jeered and scoffed at by the rabble; the Baboo
evidently intended the cruel sport to be followed by murder; but this
intention underwent a change, probably from dread of some future
retribution. He kept his prisoner near him for ten days, but did not
further ill treat him. On the eleventh day, Busher was liberated; he
overtook Colonel Lennox and his family; and safely reached Ghazeepore
seventeen days after his departure from Fyzabad. The boat containing
Colonel O’Brien, Lieutenants Percival and Gordon, Ensign Anderson, and
Assistant-surgeon Collinson, pursued its voyage the whole way down to
Dinapoor; but it was a voyage full of vicissitudes to the fugitives. At
many places they were obliged to lie flat in the boat to prevent
recognition from the shore; at others they had to compel the native
boatmen, on peril of sabring, to continue their tugging at the oars; on
one occasion they narrowly escaped shooting by a herd of villagers who
followed the boat. For three days they had nothing to eat but a little
flour and water; but happening to meet with a friendly rajah at Gola,
they obtained aid which enabled them to reach Dinapoor on the 17th.

The occupants of the remaining boat, the civilians, and the ladies and
children who had not been able to effect a safe retreat to Nynee Tal,
suffered terribly; many lives were lost; and those who escaped to
Goruckpore or Dinapoor arrived in distressing plight—especially a party
of women and children who had been robbed of everything while on the
way, and who had been almost starved to death during a week’s
imprisonment in a fort by the river-side. When it is stated that, among
a group of women and children who reached a place of safety after
infinite hardships, _an infant was born on the road_, the reader will
easily comprehend how far the sufferings must have exceeded anything
likely to appear in print. Many persons were shot, many drowned, while
the fate of others remained doubtful for weeks or even months. Colonel
Goldney and Major Mill were among the slain. The wanderings of Mrs Mill
and her three children were perhaps among the most affecting incidents
of this mutiny. Amid the dire haste of departure, she became separated
from her husband, and was the last Englishwoman left in Fyzabad. How she
escaped and how she fared, was more than she herself could clearly
narrate; for the whole appeared afterwards as a dreadful dream, in which
every kind of misery was confusedly mixed. During two or three weeks,
she was wandering up and down the country, living in the jungle when man
refused her shelter, and searching the fields for food when none was
obtainable elsewhere. Her poor infant, eight months old, died for want
of its proper nourishment; but the other two children, seven and three
years old, survived all the privations to which they were exposed. On
one occasion, seeing some troopers approaching, and being utterly
hopeless, she passionately besought them, if their intentions were
hostile, to kill her children without torturing them, and then to kill
her. The appeal touched the hearts of the rude men; they took her to a
village and gave her a little succour; and this facilitated their
conveyance by a friendly native to Goruckpore, where danger was over.

Sultanpore was another station at which mutiny and murder occurred. On
the 8th of June, a wing of the 15th irregular cavalry entered that place
from Seetapoor, in a state of evident excitement. Lieutenant Tucker, who
was a favourite with them, endeavoured to allay their mutinous spirit,
and succeeded for a few hours; but on the following morning they rose in
tumult, murdered Colonel Fisher, Captain Gubbings, and two other
Europeans, and urged the lieutenant to escape, which he did. After much
jungle-wanderings, and concealment in a friendly native’s house, he
safely arrived at Benares, as did likewise four or five other officers,
and all the European women and children at the station. In this as in
other instances, the revolt of the troops was followed by marauding and
incendiarism on the part of the rabble of Sultanpore; in this, too, as
in other instances, the mutineers had a little affection for some one or
more among their officers, whom they endeavoured to save.

The station of Pershadeepore experienced its day of trouble on the 10th
of June. The 1st regiment Oude irregular infantry was there stationed,
under Captain Thompson. He prided himself on the fidelity of his men;
inasmuch as they seemed to turn a deaf ear to the rumours and suspicions
circulating elsewhere; and he had detected the falsity of a
mischief-maker, who had secretly caused ground bones to be mixed with
the attah (coarse flour with which chupatties are made) sold in the
bazaar, as the foundation for a report that the government intended to
take away the caste of the people. This pleasant delusion lasted until
the 9th; when a troop of the 3d Oude irregular cavalry arrived from
Pertabghur, followed soon afterwards by news of the rising at
Sultanpore. The fidelity of the infantry now gave way, under the
temptations and representations made to them by other troops. When
Captain Thompson rose on the morning of the 10th, he found his regiment
all dressed, and in orderly mutiny (if such an expression may be used).
He tried with an aching heart to separate the good men from the bad, and
to induce the former to retire with him to Allahabad; but the temptation
of the treasure was more than they could resist; they all joined in the
spoliation, and then felt that allegiance was at an end. At four in the
afternoon all the Europeans left the station, without a shot or an angry
word from the men; they were escorted to the fort of Dharoopoor,
belonging to a chieftain named Rajah Hunnewaut Singh, who treated them
courteously, and after some days forwarded them safely to Allahabad.
There was not throughout India a mutiny conducted with more quietness on
both sides than this at Pershadeepore; the sepoys had evidently no angry
feeling towards their officers. Captain Thompson remained of opinion
that his men had been led away by rumours and insinuations brought by
stragglers from other stations, to the effect that any Oude regiment
which did _not_ mutiny would be in peril from those that had; and that,
even under this fear, they would have remained faithful had there been
no treasure to tempt their cupidity. It is curious to note Colonel
Neill’s comment on this incident, in his official dispatch; his reliance
on the native troops was of the smallest possible amount; and in
reference to the captain’s honest faith, he said: ‘This is absurd; they
were as deeply in the plot as the rest of the army; the only credit due
to them is that they did not murder their officers.’

Seetapoor, about fifty miles north of Lucknow, was the place towards
which the insurgent troops from that city bent their steps at the close
of May. Whether those regiments kept together, and how far they
proceeded on the next few days, are points not clearly made out; but it
is certain that the native troops stationed at Seetapoor—comprising the
41st Bengal infantry, the 9th and 10th Oude irregular infantry, and the
2d Oude military police, in all about three thousand men—rose in mutiny
on the 3d of June. The 41st began the movement. A sepoy came to one of
the officers in the morning, announced that the rising was about to take
place, declared that neither he nor his companions wished to draw blood,
and suggested that all the officers should retreat from the station. The
regiment was in two wings, one in the town and one in the cantonment;
the plundering of the treasury was begun by the first-named party; the
other wing, obedient at first, broke forth when they suspected they
might be deprived of a share in the plunder. After the 41st had thus set
the example, the 9th revolted; then the military police; and then the
10th. Lieutenant Burnes, of the last-named regiment, entreated his men
earnestly to remain faithful, but to no effect. Seeing that many
officers had been struck down, the remainder hastily retired to the
house of Mr Christian the commissioner; and when all were assembled,
with the civilians, the ladies, and the children, it was at once
resolved to quit the burning bungalows and ruthless soldiers and seek
refuge at Lucknow. Some made their exit without any preparation; among
whom was Lieutenant Burnes—roaming through jungles for days, and aiding
women and children as best they could, suffering all those miseries
which have so often been depicted. The great body of Europeans, however,
left the station in buggies and other vehicles; and as the high roads
were perilous, the fugitives drove over hills, hollows, and ploughed
fields, where perhaps vehicles had never been driven before.
Fortunately, twenty troopers remained faithful to them, and escorted
them all the way to Lucknow, which place they reached on the night of
the third day—reft of everything they possessed, like many other
fugitives in those days. Many of the Europeans did not succeed in
quitting Seetapoor in time; and among these the work of death was
ruthlessly carried on—the sepoys being either unwilling or unable to
check these scenes of barbarity.

As at Lucknow, Fyzabad, Sultanpore, Pershadeepore, Seetapoor; so at
Secrora, Durriabad, Beraytch, Gouda, and other places in Oude—wherever
there was a native regiment stationed, or a treasury of the Company
established, there, in almost every instance, were exhibited scenes of
violence attended by murder and plunder. The lamented Lawrence, in the
five weeks preceding his death, was, as has been lately pointed out,
placed in an extraordinary position. Responsible to the supreme
government both for the political and the military management of Oude,
and knowing that almost every station in the province was a focus of
treachery and mutiny, he was notwithstanding powerless to restore
tranquillity. So far from Cawnpore assisting him, he yearned to assist
Cawnpore; Rohilcund was in a blaze, and could send him only mutineers
who had thrown off all allegiance; Meerut, after sending troops to
Delhi, was doing little but defending itself; Agra, with a mere handful
of European troops, was too doubtful of its Gwalior neighbours to do
anything for Lucknow and Oude; Allahabad and Benares were too recently
rescued, by the gallant Neill, from imminent peril, to be in a position
to send present assistance to Sir Henry; and the Nepaul sovereign, Jung
Bahadoor, had not yet been made an ally of the English in such a way as
might possibly have saved Oude, and as was advocated by many
well-wishers of India.

The position of the sovereignty just named may usefully be adverted to
here. Nepaul, about equal in area to England, is one of the few
independent states of Northern India; it reaches to the Himalaya on the
north; and is bounded on the other sides by the British territories of
Behar, Oude, and Kumaon. The region is distinguished by the magnificent
giant mountain-chain which separates it from Tibet; by the dense
forest-jungle of the Terai on the Oude frontier; by the beautiful valley
in which the capital, Khatmandoo, lies, and which is dotted with
flourishing villages, luxuriant fields, and picturesque streams; and by
its healthy and temperate climate. It is with the people, however, that
this narrative is more particularly concerned. The Nepaulese, about two
millions in number, comprise Goorkhas, Newars, Bhotias, Dhauwars, and
Mhaujees. The Goorkhas are the dominant race; they are Hindoos in
religion, but very unlike Hindoos in appearance, manners, and customs.
The Newars are the aborigines of Nepaul, decidedly Mongolian both in
faith and in features; they are the clever artisans of the kingdom,
while the Goorkhas are the hardy soldiers. The other three tribes are
chiefly cultivators of the soil. In the latter half of the last century,
Nepaul was for a short time a dependency of the Chinese Empire; but a
treaty of commerce with the British in 1782 initiated a state of affairs
which soon enabled Nepaul to throw off Chinese supremacy. Conventions,
subsidies, border encroachments, and family intrigues, checkered
Nepaulese affairs until 1812; when the Company made formal war on the
ground of a long catalogue of injuries and insults—such a catalogue as
can easily be concocted by a stronger state against a weaker. The war
was so badly conducted, that nothing but the military tact of Sir David
Ochterlony, who held one-fourth of a command which seems to have had no
head or general commander, saved the British from ignominious defeat.
Broken engagements led to another war in 1816, which terminated in a
treaty never since ruptured; the Nepaulese court has been a focus of
intrigue, but the intrigues have not been of such a character as to
disturb the relations of amity with the British. Jung Bahadoor—a name
well known in England a few years ago, as that of a Nepaulese ambassador
who made a sensation by his jewelled splendor—was the nephew of a man
who became by successive steps prime minister to the king. Instigated by
the queen, and by his own unscrupulous ambition, Jung Bahadoor caused
his uncle to be put to death, and became commander-in-chief under a new
ministry. Many scenes of truly oriental slaughter followed—that is,
slaughter to clear the pathway to power. Jung Bahadoor treated kings and
queens somewhat as the Company was accustomed to do in the last century;
setting up a son against a father, and treating all alike as puppets. At
a period subsequent to his return from England, he caused a marriage to
be concluded between his daughter, six years old, and the heir-apparent
to the Nepaulese throne, then in his ninth year. Whether king or not, he
was virtually chief of Nepaul at the time when the Revolt broke out; and
had managed, by astuteness in his diplomacy, to remain on friendly terms
with the authorities at Calcutta: indeed he took every opportunity,
after his English visit, to display his leaning towards his neighbours.
Like Nena Sahib, he had English pianos and English carpets in his house,
and prided himself in understanding English manners and the English
language; and it is unquestionable that both those men were favourites
among such of the English as visited the one at Bithoor or the other at
Khatmandoo.

It has been mentioned in a former chapter (p. 115) that Goorkha troops
assisted to defend Nynee Tal when that place became filled with
refugees; and Goorkha regiments have been adverted to in many other
parts of the narrative. Jung Bahadoor permitted the Nepaulese of this
tribe to enlist thus in the Company’s service; and he also offered the
aid of a contingent, the non-employment of which brought many strictures
upon the policy of the Calcutta government. At a later date, as we shall
see, this contingent was accepted; and it rendered us good service at
Juanpore and Azimghur by protecting Benares from the advance of Oude
mutineers. About the middle of June, fifteen Europeans (seven gentlemen,
three ladies, and five children) escaped from the Oude mutineers into
the jungle region of Nepaul, and sought refuge in a post-station or
serai about ten days’ journey from Goruckpore and eighteen from
Khatmandoo. The officer at that place wrote to Jung Bahadoor for
instruction in the matter; to which he received a speedy reply—‘Treat
them with every kindness, give them elephants, &c., and escort them to
Goruckpore.’ Major Ramsey, the Company’s representative at Khatmandoo,
sent them numerous supplies in tin cases; and all the English were
naturally disposed to bless the Nepaulese chieftain as a friend in the
hour of greatest need, without inquiring very closely by what means he
had gained his power.

The course of the narrative now takes us from Oude northwestward into
the province of Rohilcund; the districts of which, named after the towns
of Bareilly, Mooradabad, Shahjehanpoor, Boodayoun, and Bijnour, felt the
full force of the mutinous proceedings among the native troops. The
Rohillas were originally Mussulman Afghans, who conquered this part of
India, gradually settled down among the Hindoo natives, and imparted to
them a daring reckless character, which rendered Rohilcund a nursery for
irregular cavalry—and afterwards for mutineers.

Brigadier Sibbald was commandant of Bareilly, one of the towns of
Rohilcund in which troops were stationed. These troops were entirely
native, comprising the 18th and 68th Bengal native infantry, the 8th
irregular cavalry, and a battery of native artillery—not an English
soldier among them except the officers. The brigadier, although these
troops appeared towards the close of the month of May to be in an
agitated state, nevertheless heard that all was well at Mooradabad,
Shahjehanpoor, Almora, and other stations in Rohilcund, and looked
forward with some confidence to the continuance of tranquility—aided by
his second in command, Colonel Troup, and the commissioner, Mr
Alexander. As a precaution, however, the ladies and children were sent
for safety to Nynee Tal; and the gentlemen kept their horses saddled,
ready for any emergency. Bareilly being a city of a hundred thousand
inhabitants, the temper of the natives was very anxiously watched.
Scarcely had the month closed, before the hopes of Brigadier Sibbald
received a dismal check, and his life a violent end. We have already
briefly mentioned (p. 114) that on Sunday the 31st, Bareilly became a
scene of violence and rapine; the brigadier himself being shot by a
trooper, the treasure seized, the bungalows plundered and burned, and
the Europeans either murdered or impelled to escape for their lives.
When Colonel Troup, who commanded the 68th native infantry, and who
became chief military authority after the death of Sibbald, found
himself safe at Nynee Tal, he wrote an official account of the whole
proceeding, corroborating the chief facts noted by the brigadier, and
adding others known more especially to himself. From this dispatch it
appears that the colonel commanded at Bareilly from the 6th to the 19th
of May, while the brigadier was making a tour of inspection through his
district; that from the 19th to the 29th, Sibbald himself resumed the
command; and that during those twenty-three days nothing occurred to
shew disaffection among the troops, further than a certain troubled and
agitated state. On that day, however, the Europeans received
information, from two native officers, that the men of the 18th and 68th
native regiments had, _while bathing in the river_, concerted a plan of
mutiny for that same afternoon. Most of the officers were quickly on the
alert; and, whether or not through this evidence of preparedness, no
émeute took place on that day. On the 30th, Colonel Troup, who had
relied on the fidelity of the 8th irregular cavalry, received
information that those sowars had sworn not to act against the native
infantry and artillery if the latter should rise, although they would
refrain from molesting their own officers. After a day and night of
violent excitement throughout the whole station, the morning of Sunday
the 31st (again Sunday!) ushered in a day of bloodshed and rapine.
Messages were despatched to all the officers, warning them of some
intended outbreak; but the bearers, sent by Troup, failed in their duty,
insomuch that many of the officers remained ignorant of the danger until
too late to avert it. Major Pearson, of the 18th, believed his men to be
stanch; Captain Kirby, of the artillery (6th company, 6th battalion), in
like manner trusted his corps; and Captain Brownlow, the brigade major,
disbelieved the approach of mutiny—at the very time that Colonel Troup
was impressing on all his conviction that the sinister rumours were well
founded. At eleven o’clock, the truth appeared in fatal colours; the
roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, and the yells of men, told
plainly that the revolt had begun, and that the artillery had joined in
it. The 8th irregular cavalry, under Captain Mackenzie, were ordered or
invited by him to proceed against the lines of the insurgent infantry
and artillery; but the result was so disastrous, that all the Europeans,
military as well as civilians, found their only safety would be in
flight. Ruktawar Khan, subadar of artillery, assumed the rank of
general, and paraded about in the carriage of the brigadier, attended by
a numerous string of followers as a ‘staff.’ Colonel Troup, writing on
the 10th of June, had to report the deaths of Brigadier Sibbald and
three or four other officers, together with that of many of the civil
servants. About twenty-five military officers escaped; but the list of
‘missing’ was large, and many of those included in it were afterwards
known to have been brutally murdered. Captain Mackenzie, who clung to
his troopers in the earnest hope that they would remain faithful, found
only nineteen men who did so, and who escorted their officers all the
way to Nynee Tal.

A despicable hoary traitor, Khan Bahadoor Khan, appears to have headed
this movement. He had for many years been in receipt of a double pension
from the Indian government—as the living representative of one of the
early Rohilla chieftains, and as a retired judge of one of the native
courts. He was an old, venerable-looking, insinuating man; he was
thoroughly relied on by the civil authorities at Bareilly; he had loudly
proclaimed his indignation against the Delhi mutineers; and yet he
became ringleader of those at Bareilly—deepening his damning atrocities
by the massacre of such of the unfortunate Europeans as did not succeed
in making their escape. It was by his orders, as self-elected chief of
Rohilcund, that a rigorous search was made for all Europeans who
remained in Bareilly; and that Judge Robertson, and four or five other
European gentlemen, were hung in the Kotwal square, after a mock-trial.
During the month of June, Bareilly remained entirely in the hands of the
rebels; not an Englishman, probably, was alive in the place; and the
Mussulmans and Hindoos were left to contend for supremacy over the
spoil.

Of Boodayoun it will be unnecessary to say more here; Mr Edwards’s
narrative of an eventful escape (pp. 115, 116), pointed to the 1st of
June as the day when the Europeans deemed it necessary to flee from that
station—not because there were any native troops at Boodayoun, but
because the mutineers from Bareilly were approaching, and joyfully
expected by all the scoundrels in the place, who looked forward to a
harvest of plunder as a natural result.

Mooradabad, which began its season of anarchy and violence on the 3d of
June, stands on the right bank of the Ramgunga, an affluent of the
Ganges, at a point about midway between Meerut and Bareilly. It is a
town of nearly 60,000 inhabitants—having a civil station, with its
cutcherry and bungalows; a cantonment west of the town; a spacious serai
for the accommodation of travellers; and an enormous jail sufficiently
large to contain nearly two thousand prisoners. In this, as in many
other towns of India, the Company’s troops were wont to be regarded
rather as guardians of the jail and its inmates, than for any active
military duties. So early as the 19th of May, nine days after the
mutineers of Meerut had set the example, the 29th regiment native
infantry proceeded to the jail at Mooradabad, and released all the
prisoners. Although Mr Saunders, collector and magistrate, wrote full
accounts to Agra of the proceedings of that and the following days, the
dâks were so completely stopped on the road that Mr Colvin remained
almost in ignorance of the state of affairs; and on that account
Saunders could obtain no assistance from any quarter. The released
prisoners, joined by predatory bands of Goojurs, Meewatties, and Jâts,
commenced a system of plunder and rapine, which the European authorities
were ill able to check. The 29th, however, had not openly mutinied; and
it still remained possible to hold control within the town and the
surrounding district; several native sappers and miners were stopped and
captured on their way from Meerut, and several of the mutinous 20th
regiment on the way from Mozuffernugger. When, however, news of the
Bareilly outbreak on the 31st reached Mooradabad, the effect on the men
of the 29th regiment, and of a native artillery detachment, became very
evident. On the 3d of June, the sepoys in guard of the treasury
displayed so evident an intention of appropriating the money, that Mr
Saunders felt compelled to leave it (about seventy thousand rupees)
together with much plate and opium in their hands—being powerless to
prevent the spoliation. The troops manifested much irritation at the
smallness of the treasure, and were only prevented from wreaking their
vengeance on the officials by an oath they had previously taken. To
remain longer in the town was deemed a useless risk, as bad passions
were rising on every side. The civil officers of the Company, with their
wives and families, succeeded in making a safe retreat to Meerut; while
Captain Whish, Captain Faddy, and other officers of the 29th, with the
few remaining Europeans, laid their plans for a journey to Nynee Tal.
All shared an opinion that if the Bareilly regiments had not mutinied,
the 29th would have remained faithful—a poor solace, such as had been
sought for by many other officials similarly placed. Mr Colvin
afterwards accepted Mr Saunders’s motives and conduct in leaving the
station, as justifiable under the trying circumstances.

Rohilcund contained three military stations, Bareilly, Mooradabad, and
Shahjehanpoor—Boodayoun and the other places named being merely civil
stations. As at Bareilly and Mooradabad, so at Shahjehanpoor; the native
troops at the station rose in mutiny. On Sunday the 31st of May—a day
marked by so many atrocities in India—the 28th native infantry rose,
surrounded the Christian residents as they were engaged in divine
worship in church, and murdered nearly the whole of them, including the
Rev. Mr M’Callum in the sacred edifice itself. The few who escaped were
exposed to an accumulation of miseries; first they sought shelter at
Mohammerah in Oude; then they met the 41st regiment, after the mutiny at
Seetapoor, who shot and cut them down without mercy; and scarcely any
lived to tell the dismal tale to English ears.

Thus then it appears that, in Rohilcund, the 18th, 68th, 28th, and 29th
regiments native infantry, together with the 8th irregular cavalry and a
battery of native artillery, rose in revolt at the three military
stations, and murdered or drove out nearly the whole of the Europeans
from the entire province—European troops there were none; only officers
and civilians. They plundered all the treasuries, containing more than a
quarter of a million sterling, and marched off towards Delhi, five
thousand strong—unmolested by the general who commanded at Meerut.

Nynee Tal became more crowded than ever with refugees from Oude and
Rohilcund. Under the energetic command of Captain Ramsey, this
hill-station remained in quiet during the month of May (p. 115); but it
was not so easily defended in June. Some of the native artillery at
Almora, not far distant, gave rise to uneasiness towards the close of
the month; yet as the ill-doers were promptly put into prison, and as
the Goorkhas remained stanch, confidence was partially restored. The
sepoys from the rebel regiments dreaded a march in this direction, on
account of the deadly character of the Terai, a strip of swampy forest,
thirty miles broad, which interposes between the plains and the hills;
but that jungle-land itself contained many marauders, who were only
prevented by fear of the Goorkhas from going up to Nynee Tal. At the end
of June, there were five times as many women and children as men among
the Europeans at that place; hence the anxious eye with which the
proceedings in surrounding districts were regarded.

The third region to which this chapter is appropriated—the Doab—now
calls for attention. Like Oude and Rohilcund, it was the scene of
terrible anarchy and bloodshed in the month of June. In its two
parts—the Lower Doab, from Allahabad to a little above Furruckabad; and
the Upper Doab, from the last-named city up to the hill-country—it was
nearly surrounded by mutineers, who apparently acted in concert with
those in the Doab itself.

Of Allahabad and Cawnpore, the two chief places in the Lower Doab,
sufficient has been said in Chapters VIII. and IX. to trace the course
of events during the month of June. About midway between the two is
Futtehpoor, a small civil station in the centre of a group of Mohammedan
villages; it contained, at the beginning of June, about a dozen civil
servants of the Company, and a small detachment of the 6th native
regiment from Allahabad. The residents, as a precautionary measure, had
sent their wives and children to that stronghold, and had also arranged
a plan for assembling at the house of the magistrate, if danger should
appear. On the 5th of the month, disastrous news arriving from Lucknow
and Cawnpore, the residents took up their abode for the night on the
flat roof of the magistrate’s house, with their weapons by their sides;
and on the following day they hauled up a supply of tents, provisions,
water, and ammunition—a singular citadel being thus extemporised in the
absence of better. On the 7th, their small detachment aided in repelling
a body of troopers who had just arrived from Cawnpore on a plundering
expedition; and the residents congratulated themselves on the fidelity
of this small band. Their reliance was, however, of short duration; for,
on the receipt of news of the Allahabad outbreak, the native officials
in the collector’s office gave way, like the natives all around them,
and Futtehpoor soon became a perilous spot for Europeans. On the 9th,
the residents held a council on their roof, and resolved to quit the
station. A few troopers befriended them; and they succeeded, after many
perils and sufferings, in reaching Banda, a town southward of the Jumna.
Not all of them, however. Mr Robert Tucker, the judge, resisting
entreaty, determined to remain at his post to the last. He rode all over
the town, promising rewards to those natives who would be faithful; he
endeavoured to shame others by his heroic bearing; he appealed to the
gratitude and good feeling of many of the poorer natives, who had been
benefited by him in more peaceful times. But all in vain. The jail was
broken open, the prisoners liberated, and the treasury plundered; and Mr
Tucker, flying to the roof of the cutcherry, there bravely defended
himself until a storm of bullets laid him low. Robert Tucker was one of
those civilians of whom the Company had reason to be proud.

Advancing to the northwest, we come to a string of towns and
stations—Etawah, Minpooree, Allygurh, Futteghur, Muttra, Bolundshuhur,
Mozuffernugger, &c.—which shared with Oude and Rohilcund the wild
disorders of the month of June. The mutiny at Futteghur has already
engaged our notice (p. 133), in connection with the miserable fugitives
who swelled the numbers put to death by Nena Sahib at Bithoor and
Cawnpore. It needs little further mention here. The 10th native
infantry, and a small body of artillery, long resisted the temptation
held out by mutineers elsewhere; but, on the appearance of the insurgent
regiments from Seetapoor, their fidelity gave way. Four companies went
off with the treasure; the remainder joined the other mutinous regiments
in besieging the fort to which so many Europeans had fled for refuge,
and from which so disastrous a boat-voyage was made down the Ganges. Mr
Colvin, at Agra, knew of the perilous state of things at Futteghur; he
knew that a native nawab had been chosen by the mutineers as a sort of
sovereign; but, as we shall presently see, he was too weak in reliable
troops to afford any assistance whatever. Thus it happened that the two
boat-expeditions, of June and July, ended so deplorably to the
Europeans, and left Futteghur so wholly in the hands of the rebels. It
was a great loss to the British in many ways; for most of the Company’s
gun-carriages were made, or at least stored, at Futteghur; and the
agency-yard was surrounded by warehouses containing a large supply of
material belonging to the artillery service. Indeed it was this
court-yard of the gun-carriage agency that constituted the fort, as soon
as a few defensive arrangements had been made. Many circumstances had
drawn rather a large English population to Futteghur; and hence the
terrible severity of the tragedy. There were officers of the 10th
regiment; other military officers on leave; gun-carriage agents; civil
servants; merchants and dealers; a few tent-makers and other artisans;
indigo-planters from the neighbouring estates; and many native
Christians under the care of the American Presbyterian mission.

We have already seen (pp. 112, 113) by how small a number of native
troops several stations were set in commotion in May. The 9th regiment
Bengal native infantry was separated into four portions, which were
stationed at Allygurh, Bolundshuhur, Etawah, and Minpooree,
respectively; and all mutinied nearly at the same time. The fortune of
war, if war it can be called, at these stations during the month of
June, may be traced in a very few words. It was on the 20th of May that
the four companies at Allygurh mutinied; and on the 24th that one-half
of Lieutenant Cockburn’s Gwalior troopers, instead of assisting him to
retain or regain the station, rose in mutiny and galloped off to join
the insurgents elsewhere. There were, however, about a hundred who
remained faithful to him; and these, with fifty volunteers, made an
advance to Allygurh, retook it, drove out the detachment of the 9th
native regiment, released a few Europeans who had been in hiding there,
captured one Rao Bhopal Singh, and hanged him as a petty chieftain who
had continued the rapine begun by the sepoys. Throughout the month of
June this station was maintained in British hands—not so much for its
value in a military sense, as for its utility in keeping open the roads
to Agra and Meerut; but, in the direction of Delhi, the volunteers could
obtain very little news, the dâks being all cut off by the Goojurs and
other predatory bands. At Minpooree the three companies of the 9th
checked, it will be remembered, by the undaunted courage and tact of
Lieutenant de Kantzow, departed to join the insurgents elsewhere; but
Minpooree remained in British hands. The remaining companies mutinied at
Etawah and Bolundshuhur without much violence.

[Illustration:

  SIMLA, the summer residence of the Governor-general of India.
]

Agra, when the narrative last left it (p. 111), had passed through the
month of May without any serious disturbances. The troops consisted of
the 44th and 67th regiments Bengal native infantry, the 3d Europeans,
and a few artillery. After two companies of these native troops had
mutinied while engaged in bringing treasure from Muttra to Agra, Mr
Colvin deemed it necessary to disarm all the other companies; and this
was quietly and successfully effected on the 1st of June, by the 3d
Europeans and Captain D’Oyley’s field-battery. Many facts afterward came
to light, tending to shew that if this disarming had not taken place,
the 44th and 67th would have stained their hands with the same bloody
deeds as the sepoys were doing elsewhere. The native lines had been more
than once set on fire during the later days of May—in the hope, as
afterwards appears, that the handful of Europeans, by rushing out
unarmed to extinguish the flames, would afford the native troops a
favourable opportunity to master the defences of the city, and the six
guns of the field-battery. A curious proof was supplied of the little
knowledge possessed by the Europeans of the native character, and the
secret springs that worked unseen as moving powers for their actions.
There had long seemed to be an angry feeling between the 44th and the
67th; and Mr Colvin, or the brigadier acting with him, selected one
company from each regiment for the mission to Muttra, in the belief that
each would act as a jealous check upon the other; instead of which, the
two companies joined in revolt, murdered many of their officers, and
carried off their treasure towards Delhi. After the very necessary
disarming of the two regiments, the defence of this important city was
left to the 3d European Fusiliers, Captain D’Oyley’s field-battery of
six guns, and a corps of volunteer European cavalry under Lieutenant
Greathed. Most of the disarmed men deserted, and swelled the ranks of
the desperadoes that wrought so much ruin in the surrounding districts—a
result that led many military officers to doubt whether disarming
without imprisonment was a judicious course under such circumstances;
for the men naturally felt exasperated at their humbled position,
whether deserved or not; and their loyalty, as soldiers out of work, was
not likely to be in any way increased. Whether or not this opinion be
correct, the Europeans in Agra felt their only reliance to be in each
other. During the early days of June, most of the ladies resorted at
night to certain places of refuge allotted by the governor, such as the
fort, the post-office, the office of the _Mofussilite_ newspaper, and
behind the artillery lines; while the gentlemen patrolled the streets,
or maintained a defensive attitude at appointed places. Trade was
continued, British supremacy was asserted, bloodshed was kept away from
the city, and the Europeans maintained a steady if not cheerful
demeanour. Nevertheless Mr Colvin was full of anxieties; he was
responsible to the Calcutta government, not only for Agra, but for the
whole of the Northwest Provinces; yet he found himself equally unable to
send aid to other stations, and receive aid from them. Agra was troubled
on the night of the 23d of June by the desertion of the jail-guard, to
whom had been intrusted the custody of the large central prison. A guard
from the 3d Europeans was thereupon placed on the outside; while the
inside was guarded by another force under Dr Walker the superintendent.
So far as concerned military disturbances within the city, Mr Colvin was
not at that time under much apprehension; but he knew that certain
regiments from Neemuch—the mutiny of which will be described in the next
chapter—had approached by the end of the month to a point on the high
road between Agra and Jeypoor, very near the first-named city; and he
heard that they contemplated an attack. He estimated their strength at
two regiments of infantry, four or five hundred cavalry, and eight guns;
but as the whole of the civil and military authorities at Agra were on
the alert, he did not regard this approaching force with much alarm. To
strengthen his position, and maintain public confidence, he organised a
European militia of horse and foot, among the clerks, railway men, &c.,
to which it was expected and desired that nearly all civilians should
belong. This militia, placed under the management of Captains
Prendergast and Lamb, Lieutenants Rawlins and Oldfield, and Ensign
Noble, who had belonged to the disarmed native regiments, was divided
into two corps, to which the defence of the different parts of the
station was intrusted. How the Europeans, both military and civilians,
became cooped up in the fort during July, we shall see in a future
chapter.

Meerut, during June, remained in the hands of the British; but there was
much inactivity on the part of the general commanding there, in relation
to the districts around that town. On the 10th of May, when the mutiny
began (p. 50), there were a thousand men of the 60th Rifles, six hundred
of the Carabiniers, a troop of horse-artillery, and five hundred
artillery recruits—constituting a force unusually large, in relation to
the general distribution of English troops in India. Yet these fine
soldiers were not so handled as to draw from them the greatest amount of
service. They were not sent after the three mutinous regiments who
escaped to Delhi; and during the urgent and critical need of Lawrence,
Colvin, and Wheeler, Major-general Hewett kept his Europeans almost
constantly in or near Meerut. It is true that he, and others who have
defended him, asserted that the maintenance of the position at Meerut, a
very important consideration, could not have been insured if he had
marched out to intercept rebels going from various quarters towards
Delhi; but this argument was not deemed satisfactory at Calcutta;
Major-general Hewett was superseded, and another commander appointed in
his place. It was not until June that dâks were re-established between
Meerut and Agra on the one hand, and Meerut and Kurnaul on the other.
Some of the Europeans were sent off to join the besieging army before
Delhi; while a portion of the remainder were occasionally occupied in
putting down bands of Goojurs and other predatory robbers around Meerut.
The town of Sirdhana, where the Catholic nuns and children had been
placed in such peril (p. 57), was too near Meerut to be held by the
rebels. Early in June, one Wallee Dad Khan set himself up as subadar or
captain-general of Meerut, under the King of Delhi; raised a rabble
force of Goojurs; held the fort of Malagurh with six guns; and seized
the district of Bolundshuhur. News arriving that he was advancing with
his force towards Meerut, about a hundred European troops, Rifles and
Carabiniers, with a few civilians and two guns, started off to intercept
him. They had little work to do, however, except to burn villages held
by the insurgents; for the robber Goojurs having quarrelled with the
robber Jâts about plunder, the latter compelled Wallee Dud Khan and his
general, Ismail Khan, to effect a retreat before the English came up. In
the last week of the month the force at Meerut, chiefly in consequence
of the number sent off to Delhi, was reduced to about eight hundred;
these were kept so well on the alert, and the whole town and cantonment
so well guarded, that the Europeans felt little alarm; although vexed
that they could afford no further assistance to the besiegers of Delhi,
nor even chastise a portion of the 4th irregular cavalry, who mutinied
at Mozuffernugger. All the English, civilians and their families as well
as military officers, lived at Meerut either in barracks or tents—none
venturing to sleep beyond the immediate spot where the military were
placed.

Simla, during these varied operations, continued to be a place where, as
at Nynee Tal, ladies and children, as well as some of the officers and
civilians, took refuge after being despoiled by mutineers. A militia was
formed after the hasty departure of General Anson; Simla was divided
into four districts under separate officers; and the gentlemen aided by
a few English troops, defended those districts, throughout June. The
people at the bazaar, and all the native servants of the place, were
disarmed, and the arms taken for safe custody to Kussowlie.

Delhi—a place repeatedly mentioned in every chapter of this
narrative—continued to be the centre towards which the attention of all
India was anxiously directed. Fast as the native regiments mutinied in
Bengal, Oude, Rohilcund, the Doab, Bundelcund, and elsewhere, so did
they either flee to Delhi, or shape their course in dependence on the
military operations going on there; and fast as the British troops could
be despatched to that spot, so did they take rank among the besiegers.
But in truth this latter augmentation came almost wholly from the
Punjaub and other western districts. Lloyd, Neill, Wheeler, Lawrence,
Hewett, Sibbald, were so closely engaged in attending to the districts
around Dinapoor, Benares, Allahabad, Cawnpore, Lucknow, Meerut, and
Bareilly, that they could not send aid to the besiegers of Delhi, during
several weeks of siege operations. These operations will be noticed in
systematic order, when the other threads of the narrative have been
traced to the proper points. Meanwhile the reader will bear in mind that
the siege of Delhi was in progress from the middle of June to an
advanced period in the summer.

[Illustration:

  Tomb at Futtehpore Sikri.
]

-----

Footnote 23:

  _Artillery_: 4 guns, horse light field-battery; 6 guns, Oude
  field-battery; and 1 8-inch howitzer. _Cavalry_: 120 troopers of 1st,
  2d, and 3d Oude irregular cavalry; and 40 volunteer cavalry, under
  Captain Radcliffe. _Infantry_: 300 of H.M. 32d foot; 150 of 13th
  native infantry; 60 of the 48th native infantry; and 20 of the 71st.

Footnote 24:

  ‘Every boy has read, and many living men still remember, how the death
  of Nelson was felt by all as a deep personal affliction. Sir Henry
  Lawrence was less widely known, and his deeds were in truth of less
  magnitude than those of the great sea-captain; but never probably was
  a public man within the sphere of his reputation more ardently
  beloved. Sir Henry Lawrence had that rare and happy faculty (which a
  man in almost every other respect unlike him, Sir Charles Napier, is
  said also to have possessed) of attaching to himself every one with
  whom he came in contact. He had that gift which is never acquired, a
  gracious, winning, noble manner; rough and ready as he was in the
  field, his manner in private life had an indescribable charm of
  frankness, grace, and even courtly dignity. He had that virtue which
  Englishmen instinctively and characteristically love—a lion-like
  courage. He had that fault which Englishmen so readily forgive, and
  when mixed with what are felt to be its naturally concomitant good
  qualities, they almost admire—a hot and impetuous temper; he had in
  overflowing measure that Godlike grace which even the base revere and
  the good acknowledge as the crown of virtue—the grace of charity. No
  young officer ever sat at Sir Henry’s table without learning to think
  more kindly of the natives; no one, young or old, man or woman, ever
  heard Sir Henry speak of the European soldier, or ever visited the
  Lawrence Asylum, without being excited to a nobler and truer
  appreciation of the real extent of his duty towards his neighbour. He
  was one of the few distinguished Anglo-Indians who had attained to
  something like an English reputation in his lifetime. In a few years,
  his name will be familiar to every reader of Indian history; but for
  the present it is in India that his memory will be most deeply
  cherished; it is by Anglo-Indians that any eulogy on him will be best
  appreciated, it is by them that the institutions which he founded and
  maintained will be fostered as a monument to his memory.’—_Fraser’s
  Magazine_, No. 336.

Footnote 25:

  The troops stationed at that time at Fyzabad comprised the 22d
  regiment native infantry; the 6th regiment irregular Oude infantry;
  the 5th troop of the 15th regiment irregular cavalry; No. 5 company of
  the 7th battalion of artillery; and No. 13 horse-battery. The chief
  officers were Colonels Lennox and O’Brien; Major Mill; Captain Morgan;
  Lieutenants Fowle, English, Bright, Lindesay, Thomas, Ouseley,
  Cautley, Gordon, Parsons, Percival, and Currie; and Ensigns Anderson
  and Ritchie. Colonel Goldney held a civil appointment as commissioner.



                              CHAPTER XI.
                    CENTRAL REGIONS OF INDIA: JUNE.


In the political and territorial arrangements of the East India Company,
the name of Central India is somewhat vaguely employed to designate a
portion of the region lying between the Jumna and Bundelcund on the
northeast, and the Nizam’s territory and Gujerat on the southwest; a
designation convenient for general reading, without possessing any very
precise acceptation. In the present chapter, we shall change the
expression and enlarge the meaning so as to designate a belt of country
that really forms Central India in a geographical sense, extending from
Lower Bengal to Rajpootana, and separating Northern India from the
southern or peninsular portion of the empire. This will carry the
narrative into regions very little mentioned in former chapters—such as
Nagpoor, the Saugor and Nerbudda territories, Bundelcund and Rewah, the
Mahratta states and the Rajpoot states—regions that will be briefly
described, so far as to render the proceedings of the native troops
intelligible.

We begin with Nagpoor, a country now belonging to the British
government, and considerably larger than England and Wales.

This province was acquired, not so much by conquest, as by one of those
intricate arrangements concerning dynasty which have brought so many
native states under British rule. It is in general an elevated country,
containing many offshoots from the Vindhya range of mountains. Some
parts of it, towards the southeast, have never been explored by
Europeans, but are believed to be hilly, wooded, and full of jungles,
inhabited by the semi-barbarous tribe of Ghonds. The remainder is better
known and better cultivated; and being on the high road from Calcutta to
Bombay, possesses much political importance. The population exceeds four
millions and a half. Early in the last century, one of the Mahratta
chieftains conquered Nagpoor from the rajahs who had before governed it;
and he and his descendants, or other ambitious members of the Mahratta
family, continued to hold it as Rajahs of Nagpoor or Berar. Although
constantly fighting one with another, these Mahrattas were on fair terms
with the East India Company until 1803, when, unluckily for the
continuance of his rule, the native rajah joined Scindia in the war
against the British. As a consequence, when peace was restored in 1804,
he was forced to yield Cuttack and other provinces to the conquerors. In
1817, another Rajah of Nagpoor joined the Peishwa of the Mahrattas in
hostilities against the British—a course which led to his expulsion from
the raj, and to a further increase of British influence. Then followed a
period during which one rajah was imbecile, another under age, and many
unscrupulous chieftains sought to gain an ascendency one over another.
This was precisely the state of things which rendered the British
resident more and more powerful, setting up and putting down rajahs, and
allowing the competitors to weaken the whole native rule by weakening
each other. The history of British India may be almost told in such
words as these. At length, in 1853, the last rajah, Ragojee, died—not
only without heirs, but without any male relations who could support a
legitimate claim to the raj. Thereupon, the governor-general quietly
annexed this large country to the Company’s dominions. It will be
remembered (p. 4) that the Marquis of Dalhousie, in his minute,
despatched this subject in a very few lines; not asserting that the
British had actually any right to the country; but ‘wisely incorporated
it,’ as no one else could put in a legitimate claim for it, and as it
would have been imprudent ‘to bestow the territory in free gift upon a
stranger.’ The Nagpoor territory was placed under the management of a
commissioner, who was immediately subordinate to the governor-general in
council; seeing that the Bengal Presidency was already too large to have
this considerable country attached to it for governmental purposes.

At and soon after the time of the outbreak, there were the 1st regiment
irregular infantry, the Kamptee irregulars, an irregular horse-battery,
and a body of European gunners, stationed in the city of Nagpoor, or in
Kamptee, eleven miles distant; the 2d infantry and a detachment of the
1st were at Chandah; a detachment of the 1st at Bhandara; the chief
portion of the 3d at Rajpoor; and the remainder of the same regiment at
Bilaspoor. The arsenal, containing guns, arms, ammunition, and military
stores of every description; and the treasury of the province, with a
large amount of Company’s funds—were close to the city. Mr Plowden
filled the office of commissioner at that period. With a mere handful of
Europeans in the midst of a very extensive territory, he often trembled
in thought for the safety of his position, and of British interests
generally, in the region placed under his keeping. He had numerous
native troops with him, and a large city under his control; if anything
sinister should arise, he was far away from any extraneous aid—being
nearly six hundred miles distant from Madras, and still further from
Calcutta. But, whatever were his anxieties (and they were many), he put
on a calm bearing towards the natives of Nagpoor. This city, the capital
of the territory bearing the same name, is a dirty, irregular,
straggling place, nearly seven miles in circumference. Most of the
houses are mud-built; and even the palace of the late rajah is little
more than a clumsy pile of unfinished masonry. The city has become
rather famous for its banking business, and for its manufactures of
cottons, chintzes, turbans, silks, brocades, woollens, blankets,
tent-cloths, and other textile goods. The population exceeds a hundred
thousand. There is nothing of a military appearance about the city; but
whoever commands the Seetabuldee, commands Nagpoor itself. This
Seetabuldee is a hilly ridge close to the city on the west, having two
summits, the northern the higher, the southern the larger, but every
part overlooking the city, and fortified. Such being the topographical
position of his seat of government, Mr Plowden proceeded to disarm such
of his troops as excited disquietude in his mind, and to strengthen the
Seetabuldee. A corps of irregular cavalry shewed symptoms of disloyalty;
and indeed rumours were afloat that on a particular day the ascent of a
balloon was to be a signal for the revolt of the troops. Under these
circumstances, Mr Plowden arranged with Colonel Cumberlege, the
commandant, to disarm them on the morning of the 23d of June—the colonel
having the 4th regiment of Madras cavalry, on whom he fully relied, to
enforce the order for disbanding. The irregulars were paraded, mounted
and fully armed, to shew that the authorities were not afraid of them.
Mr Plowden having addressed them, they quietly gave up their arms and
their saddles, which were taken in carts to the arsenal; and thus six
hundred and fifty troopers were left with nothing but their bare horses,
and ropes to picket them. Some of the men and of the native officers
were arrested, and put on their trial for an attempt to excite mutiny.
The roll was called over every four hours, and every native soldier
absent, or found outside the lines without a pass, was treated as a
deserter. The 1st regiment irregular infantry assisted in the disarming
of the troopers. Following up the measures thus promptly taken, the
commissioner strengthened the defences on the Seetabuldee hill, as a
last refuge for the Europeans at Nagpoor in the event of any actual
mutiny at that place. The Residency became a barrack at night for all
the civil and military officers; and a watchful eye was kept on the
natives generally. At present, all was safe in Nagpoor.

Another province, and another commissioner in charge of it, now come for
notice. This province, bearing the rather lengthened name of the Saugor
and Nerbudda Territories, is about half the size of England, and is
bounded by the various provinces or regions of Nagpoor, Mirzapore,
Allahabad, Banda, Bundelcund, Gwalior, Bhopal, and the Nizam’s state of
Hyderabad. It corresponds more nearly with the exact centre of India
than any other portion of territory. One half of its name is derived
from the town of Saugor, the other half from the river Nerbudda. To
describe the scraps and patches of which it consists, and the means by
which they were acquired, would be neither easy nor necessary. Within
its limits is the small independent state of Rewah, the rajah of which
was bound to the British government by a treaty of alliance. Four other
petty states—Kotee, Myhir, Oocheyra, and Sohawul—were in the hands of
native chieftains, mere feudatories of the Company, under whose grants
they held their possessions; allowed to govern their small
sovereignties, but subject at any moment to the supervision and
interference of the paramount power. The larger portion, now entirely
British, is marked by the towns and districts of Saugor, Jubbulpoor,
Hosungabad, Seuni, Nursingpore, Baitool, Sohagpoor, and others of less
importance. There are still many aboriginal Ghonds in the province, as
in Nagpoor, lurking in the gloomiest recesses of dense forests, and
subsisting for the most part on wild roots and fruits. There are other
half-savage tribes of Koles, Palis, and Panwars; while the more
civilised population comprises a singular mixture of Brahmins, Bundelas,
Rajpoots, Mahrattas, and Patans. The Mahrattas at one time claimed this
region, on the same plea as those east and west of it—the right of
conquest; and the British obtained it from the Mahrattas, about forty
years ago, by cession after a course of hostilities.

Major Erskine was commissioner of the Saugor and Nerbudda territories
during the early weeks of the mutiny; responsible, not immediately to
the governor-general at Calcutta, but to the lieutenant-governor of the
Northwest Provinces at Agra. Like Mr Plowden at Nagpoor, he felt how
imperiled he and his fellow-Europeans would be if the native troops were
to rebel. At Jhansi and at Nuseerabad, as we shall presently see, revolt
and massacre marked the first week in June; and Major Erskine sought
earnestly for means to prevent his own Saugor troops from being tempted
to a similar course. He was with the 52d native infantry at Jubbulpoor.
He wrote on the 9th of June to Brigadier Prior at Kamptee, praying
him—while keeping that station and Seuni intact—to prevent, if possible,
all news of the mutineers from passing to Jubbulpoor by that route; he
feared lest his 52d should yield to the influence of pernicious example.
Seuni was a small civil station, nearly midway between Jubbulpoor and
Nagpoor, and about eighty miles distant from each; while Kamptee was a
cantonment of Madras regulars, eleven miles north of Nagpoor. The four
places named, in fact, stand nearly in a line north and south, and
interpose between the Mahratta states and Lower Bengal. Mr Plowden at
Nagpoor, Major Erskine at Jubbulpoor, and Brigadier Prior at Kamptee,
thereupon concerted measures for preserving, so far as they could, that
region of India from disturbance; they all three agreed that
‘tranquillity will be most effectually secured by crushing disaffection
before it approaches too near to agitate men’s minds dangerously.’ One
consequence of this arrangement was, that a force was sent on the 13th
to Seuni, under Major Baker; consisting of the 32d native infantry, a
squadron of the 4th light cavalry, a squadron of irregular cavalry, and
three field-guns.

The Europeans at Jubbulpoor were not allowed to pass through the month
of June without many doubts and anxieties. The native troops, though not
actually in mutiny, were seized with a mingled feeling of fear and
exasperation when European troops were mentioned; they were in perpetual
apprehension, from the countless rumours at that time circulating
throughout India, that Europeans were about to approach and disarm them,
as degraded and distrusted men. Jubbulpoor is a large thriving town,
which at the time of the mutiny contained a small cantonment for native
troops, and a political agency subsidiary to that at Saugor. On one
occasion, this report of the approach of European troops seized so
forcibly on the minds of the sepoys, that the subadar-major, a trusted
and influential man, lost all control over them; and they were not
satisfied until their English colonel allowed two or three from each
company to go out and scour the country, to satisfy themselves and the
rest whether the rumour were true or false. On another occasion, one of
the sepoys rose with a shout of ‘Death to the Feringhees,’ and
endeavoured to bayonet the adjutant; but his companions did not aid him;
and the authorities deemed it prudent to treat him as a madman, to be
confined and not shot. When troops were marched from Kamptee to Seuni,
in accordance with the arrangements mentioned in the last paragraph, the
sepoys at Jubbulpoor were at once told of it, lest their excited minds
should be again aroused on the subject of Europeans. Some of the English
officers felt the humiliation involved in this kind of petting and
pampering; but danger was around them, and they were obliged to
temporise. A few ladies had been sent to Kamptee; all else remained with
their husbands, seldom taking off their clothes at night, and holding
themselves ready to flee at an hour’s warning. Such a state of affairs,
though less perilous, was almost as mentally distressing as actual
mutiny. As the month drew to a close, and the perpetual anxiety and
expectation were becoming wearisome to all, the Europeans resolved to
fortify the Residency. This they did, and moreover stored it with six
months’ provision for about sixty persons, including thirty ladies and
children; and for several civilians, who had also to be provided for.

Saugor was placed in some such predicament as Jubbulpoor; its European
officers had much to plan, much to execute, to enable them to pass
safely through the perils of the month of June. This town, the capital
of the province in political matters, possessed a military cantonment on
the borders of a lake on which the town stands; a large fort, which had
been converted into an ordnance depôt; and a population of fifty
thousand souls, chiefly Mahrattas. At the time of the outbreak,
Brigadier Sage commanded the Saugor district force, and had under him
the 31st and 42d native infantry regiments, a regiment of native
cavalry, and about seventy European gunners. The fort, the magazine, and
the battering-train were at one end of the cantonment; an eminence,
called the Artillery Hill, was at the other end, three miles off; and
the brigadier felt that if mutiny should occur, he would hardly be able
to hold both positions. During many minor transactions in the district,
requiring the presence of small detachments from Saugor, the temper of
the troops was made sufficiently manifest; sometimes the 31st shewed bad
symptoms, sometimes the 42d; two or three men were detected in plans for
murdering their officers; and petty rajahs in the district offered the
sepoys higher pay if they would change their allegiance. The European
inhabitants of Saugor becoming very uneasy, the brigadier cleared out
the fort, converted it into a place of refuge for women and children,
supplied it with useful furniture and other articles, and succeeded in
supplanting sepoys by Europeans in guard of the fort, the magazine, and
the treasury. The fort being provisioned for six months, and the guns
secured, Brigadier Sage felt himself in a position to adopt a resolute
tone towards the native troops, without compromising the safety of the
numerous persons congregated within it—comprising a hundred and thirty
officers and civilians, and a hundred and sixty women and children, all
the Europeans of the place. Thus ended June. It may simply be added
here, that during the early part of the following month, the 31st and
42d regiments had a desperate fight, the former willing to be faithful,
and the latter to mutiny. The brigadier, not feeling quite sure even of
the 31st, would not place either his officers or his guns at their
mercy, but he sent out of the fort a few men to aid them. The irregular
cavalry joined the 42d; but both corps were ultimately beaten off by the
31st—to carry wild disorder into other towns and districts.[26]

Without dwelling on minor mutinies at Dumoh and other places in the
Saugor province, we will transfer our attention northward to Bundelcund;
where Jhansi was the scene of a terrible catastrophe, and where riot and
plunder were in the ascendant throughout the month of June. Bundelcund,
the country of the Bundelas, affords a curious example of the mode in
which a region became in past times cut up into a number of petty
states, and then fell in great part into British hands. It is a strip of
country, about half the size of Scotland, lying south or southwest of
the Jumna, and separated by that river from the Doab. The country was in
the hands of the Rajpoots until the close of the fourteenth century;
when another tribe, the Bundelas, began a system of predatory incursions
which led to their ultimate possession of the whole tract. Early in the
last century there was a chief of Western Bundelcund tributary to the
Great Mogul, and another in Eastern Bundelcund supported by the
Mahrattas against that sovereign. How one chief rose against another,
and how each obtained a patch of territory for himself, need not be
told; it was only an exemplification of a process to which Asiatics have
been accustomed from the earliest ages. About the close of the century,
the East India Company began to obtain possession here, by conquest or
by treaty; and in 1817, after a war with the Mahrattas, a large increase
was made in this ownership. These are matters needful to be borne in
mind here; for, though the country is but small, it now contains five or
six districts belonging to the British, and nine native princedoms or
rajahships; besides numerous petty jaghires or domains that may in some
sense be compared to the smallest states of the Germanic confederation.
At the time of the mutiny, the British districts were managed under the
lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Provinces; while the ‘political
superintendence,’ as it was called, of the native states was in the
hands of an agent appointed by, and directly responsible to, the
governor-general. With the principal native states, of which Jhansi was
one, the British government had engagements, varying on minor points
according to circumstances, but all recognising its supremacy, and
binding the dependent state to the relinquishment of all political
relations except with the superior power. Some were tributary; some
exempt from that obligation. The chief towns in the portion of
Bundelcund belonging to the British are Jhansi, Banda, and Jaloun.

Bundelcund, we have said, was the scene of much outrage, especially at
Jhansi. This town, lying on the main route from Agra to Saugor, was much
frequented in the last century by caravans of merchants who traded
between the Doab and the Deccan; and it is still a prosperous commercial
place, rendered conspicuous by the castellated residence of the former
rajahs. The Jhansi mutiny was not followed by so many adventures and
wanderings as that at other places—for a very mournful reason; nearly
all the Europeans were at once put to death. A fort in the town had been
previously supplied with food and ammunition, and had been agreed on as
a place of refuge in time of danger. Major Skene and Captain Gordon,
civil officers of the Company, received information which tended to shew
that a petty chieftain near Jhansi was tampering with the troops; and
Captain Dunlop, in command there, made what defensive preparations he
could. Besides the fort in the town, there was one called the Star Fort
in the cantonment, containing the guns and the treasure. The native
troops—portions of the 12th infantry and of the 14th irregular cavalry,
and a few artillery—rose on the afternoon of the 4th of June, seized the
Star Fort, and shot at all the officers in the cantonment; many were
killed, and the rest ran to the Town Fort, which they barricaded as well
as they were able. The little garrison of Europeans then prepared for a
siege; but it could be only of short duration, as the place was too weak
to contend against the rebel besiegers. Musketry and sword-cuts (for the
garrison often met their assailants hand to hand at the gates) brought
down many; and some of the civilians, who tried to escape disguised as
natives, were caught by the insurgents and killed. At last, when
Captains Dunlop and Gordon, and many other officers had fallen, and when
the remaining Europeans had become disheartened, by the scarcity of
ammunition and of food, Major Skene accepted terms offered to him, on
oath—that the whole of the garrison should be spared if he opened the
gate and surrendered. The blood-thirsty villains soon shewed the value
of the oath they had taken. They seized all—men, women, and children—and
bound them in two rows to ropes, the men in one row and the women and
children in the other. The whole were then deliberately put to death;
the poor ladies stood with their infants in their arms, and their elder
children clinging to their gowns; and when the husbands and fathers had
been slaughtered, then came the other half of the tragedy. It is even
said that the innocent children were cut in halves before their mothers’
eyes. One relief, and one only, marked the scene; there was not, so far
as is known, torture and violation of women as precursors of death. The
death-list was a sad one. Skene, Dunlop, Gordon, Ryves, Taylor,
Campbell, Burgess, Turnbull—all were military officers in the Company’s
service, employed either on military or civil duties; and all were
killed. Twenty-four civil servants and non-commissioned officers
likewise met with their death; and most painful of all, nineteen ladies
and twenty-three children were butchered by the treacherous miscreants.
Mr Thornton, the collector for a district between Jhansi and Cawnpore,
was afterwards in a position to inform the government that the mutinous
troops intended to have left Jhansi after they had captured the
treasure; that a Bundelcund chieftainess, the Ranee of Jhansi, wishing
to regain power in the district, bribed them with large presents to take
the fort and put all the Europeans to death before they finally departed
for Delhi; and that it was thus to a _woman_ that was due the inhuman
slaughtering of more than forty European ladies and children. One
account, that reached the ears of officers at other stations, was to the
effect that when Major Skene became aware of the miscreant treachery, he
kissed his wife, shot her, and then shot himself, to avert apprehended
atrocities worse than death; while another narrative or rumour
represented the murderers as having chopped off the heads of the
victims, instead of merely shooting them; but, in truth, the destruction
was so complete that scarcely one was left to tell the tale except
natives, who contradicted each other in some of the particulars.

Jhansi of course soon became a prey to lawless marauders; while the
mutineers marched off to Delhi or elsewhere. Lieutenant Osborne, at
Rewah, was placed in a difficult position at that time. Rewah is a small
Rajpoot state, ruled by a native rajah, who is bound by treaties with
the British government, and who has a British agent as resident at his
court. Rewah was nearly surrounded by mutinous districts, such as
Benares, Allahabad, Futtehpoor, Jhansi, Saugor, and Jubbulpoor; and it
became a difficult problem for Lieutenant Osborne, the British agent,
how to keep wild disorder away from that place. On the 8th of June, by
an energetic use of his influence, he was able to announce that the
Maharajah of Rewah had placed his troops at the disposal of the
government; that the offer had been accepted; and that eight hundred of
those troops, with two guns, had been sent off to Ummapatan, a place
which commanded the roads to Jubbulpoor, Nagode, and Saugor—ready to
oppose insurgents from any of those towns, and to intercept
communication with other mutinous towns on the Jumna. He also sent
eleven hundred of the Maharajah’s troops, with five guns, to Kuttra
Pass: a spot whence a rapid advance could be made to Benares, Chunar, or
Mirzapore, according as military exigencies might render desirable. A
week later, he obtained permission from the Maharajah to send seven
hundred troops to Banda; and at the same time to issue a proclamation,
promising rewards to any of his soldiers who should distinguish
themselves by their gallantry and fidelity. With no higher military rank
than that of lieutenant did this active officer thus lay plans, not only
for the peace of the Rewah territory itself, but also in aid of the
Company’s officers all around him. His position at a later date was very
perilous.

If the destruction of life was less at Nowgong than at Jhansi, the
proceedings of mutinous troops were followed by much more adventure and
varied interest. Nowgong or Nowgaon is situated about a hundred miles
southeast of the last-named town, but, like it, in the Bundelcund
territory. At the beginning of June there were stationed at that place
about four hundred men of the 12th native infantry, and rather over two
hundred of the 14th irregular cavalry—wings of the same two regiments as
at Jhansi; together with a company of the 9th battalion of artillery,
and a light field bullock-battery. Major Kirke, commanding the station,
had in earlier weeks often discussed the cartridge question with his
men, and believed he had removed from their minds all misgivings on that
unfortunate subject. Nevertheless, as June approached, the major deemed
the appearance of affairs so suspicious, that he made such precautionary
arrangements as were practicable to resist an outbreak. Bungalows were
now and then discovered to be in flames, without any means of detecting
the incendiaries. When the atrocities at Meerut and elsewhere became
known, the troops stationed at Nowgong made ardent demonstrations of
loyalty—so ardent, that Kirke almost upbraided himself for his momentary
distrust of them; the infantry embraced their colours, the artillery
embraced their guns, and all asserted their burning desire to chastise
the rebels who had proved faithless to the Company Bahadoor. So late as
the 6th of June, even while whisperings and ominous signs were passing
between them, these unreliable men sent in a grandiloquent petition, in
which they said: ‘As it is necessary to avenge the government on those
cowardly rascals who now, in Delhi and other places, are exciting
rebellion, and for which purpose many European regiments are being
despatched; we, hearing of this, are exceedingly desirous that we be
sent as volunteers to chastise these scoundrels. And that we may shew
from our hearts our faithfulness, we are ready to go wherever sent’—and
more to the same purpose. This petition or address was presented to
Major Kirke by the wing of the 12th regiment. On that same day news
arrived that the other wing of the same regiment had mutinied at Jhansi;
and the Neemuch men, either with childish indecision or with profound
duplicity, sent off a letter to them, reproving them for their
insubordination! On the 10th, a petition was presented by the commandant
of the artillery (4th company, 9th battalion), couched in similar
language; demanding that the artillery might be sent against the rebels;
‘in order,’ as the petition averred, ‘that we may fulfil the wish of our
hearts by shewing our bravery and loyalty.’

Never were words uttered more hollow and treacherous. By nightfall on
that same 10th of June, the native troops at Nowgong were nearly all
rebels, and the Europeans nearly all fugitives. A few hours sufficed to
shew the English officers that they were powerless to contend against
their opponents. Flight commenced. The officers and civilians, with
their families, and Europeans of humbler station, all took their
departure from Nowgong—some in buggies, some on horseback, and some on
foot; but all equally reft of their worldly property. Were it not that
this Chronicle has already contained examples, mournfully numerous, of
similar wanderings over the scorching roads and through the thick jungle
of India, the fate of the Nowgong party might afford materials for a
very exciting narrative; but with the reader’s experience on this
matter, a few lines of description will suffice. The party was a large
one. It comprised Major Kirke, Captain Scot, Lieutenants Townshend,
Jackson, Remington, Ewart, Franks, and Barber, about forty other
Europeans of both sexes and all ages, and about ninety sepoys of the
mutinous infantry, who had not joined their brethren. The fugitives
lessened in number every day; some or other of them sank under the heat
and fatigue; while the sepoys deserted when they approached towns where
insurgents were in the ascendant. Either collectively or separately the
wanderers found themselves on different days at Chutterpore, at
Logassee, at Churkaree, at Mahoba, at Callingurh, at Kabrai, at
Banda—places mostly belonging to petty rajahs of Bundelcund. The
principal survivors of the party were about ten or twelve days on the
roads and fields, before they reached friendly quarters at Banda. On one
occasion they were attacked by a band of marauders, and had to buy
security with rupees; on another, their sepoys were seized with a panic,
and ran off in large numbers; on a third, a body of matchlockmen
suddenly confronted them, and shot down Lieutenant Townshend. On one
part of the journey, Captain Scot found himself in the midst of a
distressing group of women and children: having poor Townshend’s horse
with him, he loaded both horses with as many as he could carry; but it
made him heart-sick to see the others fall away one by one, utterly
broken down by fatigue, and with insufficient men to help them along—for
the flight appears to have been wanting in every semblance of
organisation. A bandsman’s wife dropped dead through a sun-stroke; then
an artillery sergeant, worn out, went into a hut to die. Captain Scot
came up with a lady and her child, reeling along the road as if
delirious; he readjusted his horse-load, took up the fugitives, and the
lady very speedily died in his arms. Shortly after this a fine hale
sergeant-major sank, to rise no more; Major Kirke died through a
sun-stroke; and others dropped off in a similar way. Dr Mawe died from
illness and fatigue; and then his wife, while laving her blistered feet
in a pool, was set upon by ruffians and robbed of the little she had
about her. Captain Scot, after many changes in his horse-load, took up
Dr Mawe’s child; and ‘little Lotty,’ of two years’ old, seemed to him a
blessing rather than a burden; for on the few occasions when he met
friendly natives, their friendship was generally gained for him by the
sight of the little girl, whose head he endeavoured to shield from the
burning sun by a portion of his shirt—the only resource for one who had
lost both hat and coat, and whose own head was nearly driven wild by the
intense solar heat. It is pleasant to know that the captain and ‘little
Lotty’ were among the few who reached a place of safety.

Banda was another of the stations affected; but the details of its
troubles need not be traced here. Suffice it to say that, on the 14th of
June, there was a mutiny of a detachment of native infantry, and a few
troops belonging to the Nawab of Banda—a titular prince, possessing no
political power, but enjoying a pension from the Company, and having a
sort of honorary body-guard of native troops. The officers and their
families were at first in great peril; but the nawab aided them in
making a safe retreat to Nagode. On the 16th of June, Major Ellis had to
announce to the government that his station at Nagode was beginning to
be filled with anxious fugitives from Banda, Futtehpoor, Humeerpoor, and
Ameerpoor; comprising military officers, magistrates, salt-agents,
revenue servants, railway officials, and private persons. Twenty-eight
of these fugitives arrived on one day. He sent to many petty chieftains
of Bundelcund, who were pensioners under the Company or had treaties
with it, to exert themselves to the utmost in recovering all property
seized during the events of the preceding two or three days in the Banda
district. Major Ellis at Nagode, and Mr Mayne at Banda, applied
earnestly to Calcutta for military assistance; but they were told
plainly that none could be sent to them, every European soldier being
needed in the Ganges and Jumna regions.

It now becomes necessary, on removing the scene further to the west, to
know something concerning the Mahrattas, their relations to the two
great families of Scindia and Holkar, the conventions existing between
those two families and the British government, and the military
arrangements of the Mahratta territories at the time of the outbreak.
These matters can be rendered intelligible without any very lengthened
historical narrative.

After the death of the Emperor Aurungzebe, a century and a half ago,
India was distracted and impoverished by the contentions of his sons and
descendants; each of whom, in claiming the throne, secured the
partisanship of powerful nobles, and the military aid of fighting-men in
the pay of those nobles. A civil war of terrible kind was the natural
result; and equally natural was it that other chieftains, in nowise
related to the imperial family, should take advantage of the anarchy to
found dynasties for themselves. One such chieftain was Sevajee, a
Mahratta in the service of the King of Bejapore, in the southern part of
India. The Mahrattas were (and are) a peculiar tribe of Hindoos, more
fierce and predatory than most of their fellow-countrymen. Long before
Europeans settled in India, the Mahrattas were the chief tribe in the
region north, south, and east of the present city of Bombay. After many
struggles against the competitors for the throne of Delhi, the Mahrattas
were left in possession of a sovereign state, of which Satara and Poonah
were the chief cities. From 1707 till 1818, the nominal sovereign or
rajah of the Mahrattas had no real power; he was a sort of state or
honorary prisoner, confined in the hill-fortress of Satara; while the
government was administered by the Peishwa or prime minister, whose
office became hereditary in a particular family, and whose seat of
government was at Poonah. After many Peishwas had held this singular
kind of sovereignty at the one city—the nominal rajah being all the time
powerless at the other—circumstances occurred which led to an
intermeddling of the East India Company with Mahratta politics, followed
by the usual results. Narrain Rao Peishwa was murdered in 1773; many
relations of the murdered man competed for the succession; and as the
Company greatly desired to possess the island of Salsette and the town
of Bassein, at that time belonging to the Mahrattas, it was soon seen
that this wish might be gratified by aiding one competitor against
another. Battles and intrigues followed, ending in the possession of the
two coveted places by the British, and in the appointment of a British
resident at the Peishwa’s court at Poonah. Thus matters remained until
1817, when the Peishwa engaged in intrigues with other Mahratta chiefs
against the British; a course that led to his total overthrow after a
few fierce contests in the field. The Mahratta sovereignty at Poonah was
entirely put an end to, except a small principality assigned to the
Rajah of Satara, the almost forgotten representative of the founder of
the Mahratta rule. The British took all the remaining territory,
pensioning off the Peishwa; and as to Satara, after several rajahs had
reigned, under the close control of the British resident at that city,
the principality ‘lapsed’ in 1848, in default of legitimate male heirs—a
lapse that led to the preparation of many ponderous blue books
concerning the grievances and complaints of a certain adopted son of the
last rajah.

Thus much for the south Mahratta country, having Poonah and Satara for
its chief cities; but the British have had fully as much to do with the
northern portion of the Mahratta region, represented by the two cities
of Gwalior and Indore, and held by the two great Mahratta families of
Scindia and Holkar. As the Peishwas in past years cared little for the
nominal head of the Mahrattas at Satara, so did the Scindias and Holkars
care little for the Peishwas. Each chieftain endeavoured to become an
independent sovereign. The Scindia family is traceable up to the year
1720, when Ranojee Scindia was one of the dependents of the Peishwa.
From that year, by predatory expeditions and by intrigues, the
successive heads of the Scindia family became more and more
powerful—contending in turn against the Mogul, the Rajpoots, the
Peishwa, and the British; until at length, in 1784, Madhajee Scindia was
recognised as an independent sovereign prince, with the hill-fortress of
Gwalior as his stronghold and seat of government. In 1794, when Madhajee
died, the Scindia dominions extended from beyond Delhi on the north to
near Bombay on the south, and from the Ganges to Gujerat—a vast region,
held and acquired by means as atrocious as any recorded in the history
of India. Early in the present century, the power of the Scindia family
received a severe check. Hostilities having broken out with the British,
Sir Arthur Wellesley (afterwards Duke of Wellington) defeated Dowlut Rao
Scindia at Assaye in 1803, while Lord Lake drove the Mahrattas from the
whole of the Doab. Many desperate wars occurred in later years, ending,
in 1844, by a treaty which left Bajerut Rao Scindia king or rajah of a
state barely equalling England in area, with Gwalior as his capital. A
contingent or body of troops was to be supplied by him for the service
of the British, beyond which he was permitted to have an independent
army of nine thousand men; and there were numerous minor details which
gave much influence to the British resident at Gwalior.

Of the family of Holkar, almost the same account may be given as of that
of Scindia; inasmuch as it has sprung from a Mahratta leader who
acquired power a century and a half ago. The city of Indore has always
been the centre of dominion belonging to this family—a dominion
extending over a very wide region at some periods, but greatly
contracted in recent times. The ruler of the Indore territory at the
time of the mutiny was one Mulkerjee Holkar, who had been appointed by
the Calcutta government at a time of disputed succession, in such a way
as to imply that the territory might pass into British hands whenever
the Company chose. Holkar’s territory is now much smaller than
Scindia’s, scarcely exceeding Wales in area.

It will suffice, then, to bear in mind that the southern Mahratta power,
that of the courts of Poonah and Satara, had wholly fallen into British
hands before the time of the mutiny; and that the northern power, held
by the courts of Gwalior and Indore, extended over a country no larger
than England and Wales united. Nevertheless, considering that that
portion of central India is bounded by Bundelcund, the Doab, Rajpootana,
Gujerat, the Nizam’s dominions, and the Saugor and Nerbudda territories,
it was of much importance to the British that Scindia and Holkar should
remain faithful to their alliances at a critical period.

Although Nuseerabad is properly in Rajpootana, of which a few words of
description will be given shortly, the mutiny at that place may
conveniently be treated here; because it was a link in a chain which
successively affected Neemuch, Indore, Mhow, and Gwalior.

Nuseerabad is near Ajmeer, the chief town of a British district
surrounded by the dominions of independent or semi-independent rajahs.
Ajmeer, though far smaller than most of the principal cities in India,
is an ancient and important place, about two hundred and sixty miles
southwest of Delhi; at the time of the mutiny, it was the seat of a
British political agency; and in a ruined palace of the Emperor Akbar,
converted into an arsenal, was a powder-magazine. Nuseerabad, fifteen
miles from Ajmeer, may be regarded as the military station for that
city, and for the neighbouring British districts; it had an extensive
and well-laid-out cantonment, and was the head-quarters of the corps
known as the Rajpootana Field-force. Nuseerabad had been nearly drained
of troops early in the year, on account of the Persian expedition; but
this gap was afterwards partially filled up. In the month of May there
were at the station the 1st regiment Bombay lancers, the 15th and 30th
Bengal native infantry, and the 2d company of the 7th battalion of
Bengal native artillery. An instructive fact was made manifest; the
Bombay troops remained faithful, while those of the Bengal army became
first restless, then mutinous, then murderous. Unfortunately, the good
were not strong enough to coerce the bad; the Bombay lancers numbered
only two hundred and fifty sabres. The month of May had not closed when
the disturbances at Nuseerabad began. The officers had been nightly in
the habit of sleeping with revolvers and swords near at hand; while the
Bombay lancers patrolled the cantonment—so suspicious were the symptoms
observed. On the evening of the 28th a servant rushed into the bungalow
of one of the lieutenants of the 15th infantry, announcing that the
regiment had risen. The officers hastened to the lines, and there found
the regiment drawn up in companies—the martial array being maintained in
mutiny as it had been in regular drill. The men looked sternly at their
officers; and soon worse news arrived. The native artillerymen who
worked the six guns joined the revolters—not actually firing on the
officers, but ready to do so. The Englishmen connected with the two
regiments were a mere handful; they were powerless, for none of the
sepoys would aid them against the rest. Colonel Penny, in command of the
Bombay lancers, instantly hastened down, armed and mounted his troopers,
and drew them up into position. Galloping to the artillery lines, and
finding the guns pointed against him, he immediately ordered a charge
for capturing them, each troop charging in succession. Captain
Spottiswoode began, and soon fell mortally wounded; other officers led
subsequent charges, but the guns could not be taken. Penny then felt
obliged to relinquish this attempt, and to hold himself in readiness to
check the mutineers in other ways; but as the two regiments of native
infantry refused to listen to their officers, nothing was left but
flight. Cornet Newberry, as well as Captain Spottiswoode, fell while
charging; Colonel Penny became suddenly ill and died in a few hours;
while two or three other officers were wounded. How perilous were those
cavalry-charges against the six guns may be judged from a letter written
by one of the officers: ‘I galloped towards the guns, and must have been
eighty or a hundred yards from them when I began to experience the
unpleasant sensation of bullets whizzing past my head, and saw a lot of
sepoys taking shots at me as I came along. I immediately turned my
pony’s head, and endeavoured to retreat under cover of a wall which ran
in front of the artillery lines. Here I saw more men running up with the
kind intention of having a crack at me; so I had to keep along the
parade-ground right in the line of fire, and had one or two men popping
at me from over the wall on my right. My tât (pony) went as fast as ever
he could go, and, thanks be to God, carried me back in perfect
safety.... Off we started towards the cavalry lines amid showers of
bullets. I dodged round the first bell of arms; and as I passed the
bells, saw three or four men behind each, who deliberately shot at us as
we passed.’ The ladies had been sent off from the station just in time.
The surviving officers joined them beyond the cantonment about
nightfall, and then all hastened away. They rode forty miles during the
night, on roads and fields and rocky hills, and reached a place of
safety, Beaur or Beawur, towards noon—hungry, tired, and reft of
everything but the clothes on their backs.

As this small body of Bombay native cavalry remained stanch when the
Bengal troops were faithless all around them, it was deemed right to
make some public acknowledgment of the fact. Lord Elphinstone, as
president or governor of Bombay, issued a general order on the subject,
thanking the troopers, and passing lightly over the fact that a few of
them afterwards disgraced themselves.[27] The commander-in-chief
afterwards ordered the report of the transaction by Captain Hardy, who
took the control of the lancers when Colonel Penny died, to be
translated into the Hindustani and Mahratta languages, and read to all
the regiments of the Bombay native army, as an encouragement to them in
the path of duty. After the English officers and their families had
escaped to Beaur, the mutinous troops made off towards Delhi. Nuseerabad
being considered an important station in regard to the control of the
surrounding districts, a force was sent to reoccupy it towards the end
of June; comprising a detachment of H.M. 83d foot, another of the 20th
Bombay native infantry, another of the Jhodpore legion, and a squadron
of the 2d Bombay cavalry—Nuseerabad being sufficiently near Bombay to
derive advantages not possessed by stations further east.

The usual consequences of the revolt of native regiments followed.
Nuseerabad furnished a bad example to Neemuch. As a village, Neemuch is
of small consequence; as a military station, its importance is
considerable. During some of the negotiations with Scindia in past
years, it was agreed that the British should have a cantonment at this
spot, which is on the confines of Malwah and Mewar, about three hundred
miles southwest of Agra; a force in British pay was to be stationed
there, by virtue of certain terms in a treaty, and a small district,
with the village in the centre, was made over to the Company for this
purpose. The cantonment thereupon built was two or three miles long by a
mile in width, and comprised the usual native infantry lines, cavalry
lines, artillery lines, head-quarters, offices, bungalows, bazaar,
parade-ground, &c. There was also a small fort or fortified square
built, as a place of refuge for the families of the military when called
to a distance on duty.

In the early part of June, the troops stationed at Neemuch comprised the
72d Bengal N. I., the 7th regiment of Gwalior infantry, two troops of
the 1st Bengal light cavalry, and a troop of horse-artillery. Every
effort had been made in the early weeks of the mutiny to insure the
confidence of these troops, and prevent them from joining the standard
of rebellion. Colonel Abbott, and most of the officers of the 72d, as
well even as some of their families, slept within the sepoy lines, to
win the good-will of the men by a generous confidence. One wing (three
companies) of the Gwalior troops held the fortified square and treasury;
while the other wing (five companies), now quartered in a vacant
hospital, about a quarter of a mile distant, was encamped just outside
the walls; Captain Macdonald, the chief officer, residing with the
first-named wing. Colonel Abbott, who commanded the station generally,
as well as the 72d regiment in particular, became convinced, on the
morning of the 2d of June, that all the hopeful expectations of himself
and brother-officers were likely to be dashed; for the troops at Neemuch
had heard of the mutiny at Nuseerabad, and could be restrained no
longer. While the superintendent, Captain Lloyd, hastened to secure some
of the Company’s records and accounts, and to open a line of retreat for
fugitives along the Odeypore road, Colonel Abbott made such military
arrangements as were practicable on the spur of the moment. The colonel
brought his native officers together, and talked to them so earnestly,
that he induced them to swear, ‘on the Koran and on Ganges water,’ that
they would be true to their salt; while he, at their request, swore to
his confidence in their faithful intentions. This singular compact, in
which Mohammedans, Hindoos, and a Christian swore according to the
things most solemn to them respectively, remained unbroken for
twenty-four hours; who broke it, after that interval, will at once be
guessed. During many preceding days, a panic had prevailed in the Sudder
Bazaar; incendiary fires occurred at night; great numbers of persons had
removed with their property; the wildest reports were set afloat by
designing knaves to increase the distrust; and the commonest occurrences
were distorted into phantoms of evil intended against the troops. At
last, on the night of the 3d, the troops threw off their oath and their
allegiance at once. The artillery, disregarding Lieutenant Walker’s
entreaties and expostulations, fired off two guns; the cavalry, on
hearing this signal, rushed out to join them; and the 72d broke from
their lines immediately afterwards. Captain Macdonald instantly ordered
into the fort the one wing of the Gwalior regiment which had been
encamped outside, under Lieutenants Rose and Gurdon; and then prepared
for defence. A bold and singular expedient had just before been adopted
by the civil superintendent; he authorised Macdonald to promise to the
Gwalior troops, if they faithfully defended the fort during any mutiny
outside, a reward of a hundred rupees to each sepoy or private, three
hundred to each naik or corporal, five hundred to each havildar or
sergeant, higher sums to the jemadars and subadars, and five thousand
rupees to the senior native officer, or to the one who should most
distinguish himself in preserving the loyalty of the regiment. These are
large sums to the natives of India; and the superintendent must have
considered long and fully before he promised the Company’s money in such
a manner. All was, however, in vain. The Gwalior troops remained
faithful under the temptation of this promise for a short time; but at
length, headed by a subadar named Heera Singh, they demanded that the
gates of the fort should be opened, and requested that the officers
would make arrangements for their own safety. Macdonald, Rose, Gurdon,
and other officers of the Gwalior regiment, expostulated with their men;
but entreaty was now of no avail; the troops forcibly opened the gates,
and the officers took their departure when the last vestige of hope had
been destroyed.

Of the flight, little need be said; it was such a flight as almost every
province in Northern India exhibited in those sad days. Some of the
ladies and children had been sent off a few hours earlier, hurried away
with no preparations for their comfort or even their sustenance; while
others waited to accompany their husbands or fathers. Very few had
either horses or vehicles; they laboured on footsore to Baree, to Chota
Sadree, to Burra Sadree, to Doogla—straggling parties meeting and
separating according as their strength remained or failed, and all
dependent on the villagers for food. At Doogla, where they arrived on
the third night, the officers strengthened a sort of mud-fort about
forty yards square, within which forty persons were huddled. After being
much straitened, they were relieved by Brigadier Showers on the 9th. The
fugitive party now broke up; some returned to Neemuch, which the
mutineers had abandoned; but the greater number went to Odeypore, the
rana of which place gave them a hospitable reception; some of them
afterwards went further west to Mount Aboo or Aboo Gurh—a celebrated
place of Hindoo pilgrimage to a sacred temple, and a sanatarium for the
Europeans stationed at the cantonment of Deesa, about forty miles
distant. Those of the party who returned to Neemuch, found everything
devastated, the bungalows and offices burnt, and the villagers stripped
of their stores by the mutineers, who had afterwards started off for
Agra. The officers and their families were literally beggars; they had
lost their all. No Europeans were killed save the wife and three
children of a sergeant, who could not leave Neemuch in time.

[Illustration:

  Fort of Mhow.
]

Thus were lost to the British about fourteen hundred men and six guns at
Nuseerabad, and sixteen hundred men and six guns at Neemuch, all of
which went to swell the insurgent forces inside Delhi or outside Agra.

The stations of Indore and Mhow must now engage a little of our
attention—situated nearly south of Neemuch, and about four hundred miles
from Agra. Indore, as has already been stated, is the capital of
Holkar’s Mahratta dominions. It is an ill-built place, standing on the
small river Kutki, and is less than a century old: the original Indore,
or Jemnah, being on the opposite side of the river. Holkar’s palace is a
building possessing few attractions; and the like may be said of the
other native structures. The relation existing at that time between
Indore and Mhow was this—that Indore was the residence of the British
political agent at the court of Holkar; whereas Mhow, thirteen miles
distant, was the military station or cantonment. The house of the
British agent, and those of the other Europeans, were on the eastern
side of the town. The agent, at the time of the mutiny, had an escort of
cavalry and infantry at his disposal; but it was simply an escort, not a
regular military force. The agent, in addition to his duties connected
with Holkar’s court, was the immediate representative of the British
government in relation to various petty states under its protection, but
in other points differing greatly in their circumstances.

The Indore agent in May and June was Colonel Durand. All was peaceful at
that place, although much agitation was visible, until the 1st of July;
on which day mutiny occurred. Holkar’s troops rose against the English,
without, as it afterwards appeared, the privity or the wish of the
Maharajah himself. Two companies, set apart for the protection of the
Residency in the bazaar square, brought two guns to bear upon the
building; and the Europeans were horror-stricken at finding themselves
suddenly exposed to cannon and musketry. Fortunately a few men of the
Bhopal Contingent under Colonel Travers, were on duty at the Residency;
and a few of these remained faithful long enough to allow the colonel
and the other European officers, with their families, to escape. Not so
the civilians, however; many of the civil servants, and of the clerks in
the telegraph department, with their wives and children, were butchered
in cold blood. As soon as Holkar heard of the outbreak, he ordered some
of his own Mahratta troops to hasten to the Residency and aid Colonel
Durand; but they told him it was a matter of _deen_ (religion), and that
they could not act against their brethren. During the next three days
Holkar was almost a prisoner in his own palace; his troops rose in
revolt, and were speedily joined by those from Mhow, presently to be
mentioned; they plundered the treasury, the Residency, and many parts of
the town; but as he would not countenance their proceedings, they at
length marched off towards Gwalior. This affair at Indore led to the
flight of many European families, amid great misery. They collected
hastily a few ammunition-wagons, two or three bullock-carts, an
elephant, and some horses, and started off towards Sehore and
Hosungabad; escorted by a portion of the Bhopal Contingent from several
small stations in that part of India.

An important question arose—how was Mhow affected by the mutinous
proceedings? As the news of the Nuseerabad mutiny had thrown the troops
at Neemuch into agitation, so did the subsequent events at Neemuch
immediately affect the sowars and sepoys at Mhow.[28] Mhow contained a
squadron of the same cavalry regiment, the 1st B. N. C., two troops of
which had mutinied at Neemuch; and in addition to these was the 23d
regiment native infantry, and a company of European artillery. Mhow
presented much the appearance of an English town; having a steepled
church on an eminence, a spacious lecture-room, a well-furnished
library, and a theatre; the cantonment was large and well appointed; and
a force was maintained there in virtue of one of the treaties made with
Holkar. This relates to the station or British part of the town; the
small native town of Mhow is a mile and a half distant. The excitement
caused at this station by the news from Neemuch was visible in the
conduct of the troops throughout the whole of the month of June. Colonel
Platt and the other officers, however, kept a vigilant watch on them,
and by combined firmness and kindness hoped to surmount the difficulty.
Captain Hungerford afterwards stated that such had been the excessive
confidence of some of the officers in their respective regiments, that
he could not induce them to strengthen the fort or fortified square, by
occupying it with their artillery, until almost the last hour before the
Revolt. The fortified square had for some time, however, been a
rendezvous for all the ladies and children, who slept within it; the
officers remaining in the lines. Thus matters passed until the 1st of
July, when Colonel Platt received a pencil-note from Colonel Durand,
announcing that the Residency at Indore had been attacked by Holkar’s
soldiers, and that aid was urgently needed. A troop of cavalry and a few
guns were immediately despatched from Mhow; but when they had reached
within four miles of Indore, news arrived that the Europeans yet living
at that station were about to effect a retreat; upon which the small
force returned to Mhow. This duty the troops performed, but it was the
last they rendered. The colonel, fearing the arrival of mutinous sepoys
from Indore, but not suspecting his own men, made such arrangements as
seemed to him befitting, bringing a European battery of artillery into
the fort. Soon did the crisis arrive. At eleven o’clock on that same
night the plans and hopes were cruelly disappointed; that terrible yell
was heard which so often struck dismay into the hearts of the Europeans
at the various military stations: the yell of native troops rising in
mutiny. Lieutenant Martin, adjutant of the cavalry, while quietly
conversing with one of the troopers, became the victim of that dastardly
fellow; the war-cry arose, and the trooper turned round and shot the
unfortunate officer without a moment’s warning. The other officers,
hearing the report, but not suspecting the real truth, thought that
Holkar’s Mahrattas had arrived; they rushed forward to head their
respective companies and troops, but sepoys and sowars alike opened fire
on them. The officers, now rendered painfully aware of their critical
position, ran swiftly across the parade towards the fort, having no time
to mount their horses; and it is a marvel that only one of the number,
Major Harris, commandant of the cavalry, was shot by the heavy fire
poured on them during this run. Colonel Platt, who was in the fort, was
almost incredulous when the breathless officers rushed in; he could with
difficulty believe the truth now presented to his notice—so fully had he
relied on the fidelity of the men. Colonel Platt and Captain Fagan rode
down to the lines of the 23d, to which regiment they both belonged, to
ascertain the real facts and to exhort the men; but they were never seen
alive again by their brethren in arms; they fell, riddled with bullets
and gashed with sword-cuts. Captain Hungerford, of the artillery,
brought two guns to bear on the mutineers, which gradually drove them
from the lines, but not before they had fired the regimental mess-house
and several bungalows; and during the darkness of night, plunderers
carried off everything that was valuable. Hungerford would have followed
the mutineers with his guns; but the roads were too dark for the
pursuit, and the Europeans too unprotected to be left. The remaining
English officers, having now no troops to command, acted as a cavalry
guard in support of the European battery in the fortified square, under
Captain Hungerford. As all the civilians, women, and children were in
this place; as the square itself was quite unfitted for a long defence;
and as only five native soldiers out of the whole number remained with
the officers—the prospect was precarious enough: nevertheless all did
their best; Hungerford collected in a few days a large store of
provisions, and routed many of the insurgents in neighbouring villages.
The impulses that guided the actions of the sepoys were strangely
inconsistent; for two of the men saved the life of Lieutenant Simpson,
who had been on outpost-duty on the fatal night, and brought him safely
into the fort; and yet, though offered promotion for their fidelity,
they absconded on the following morning to join their mutinous
companions. The Europeans, about eighty in number, maintained their
position at Mhow, until a force from Bombay arrived to reoccupy all that
region. The ladies, there as everywhere, strove to lessen rather than
increase the anxieties of their male companions. One of the officers
thus shut up in the extemporised stronghold said in a letter:
‘Throughout all this I cannot express the admiration I feel at the way
the ladies have behaved—cheerful, and assisting in every way in their
power. Poor things, without servants or quarters, huddled together; they
have had to do everything for themselves, and employ all their time in
sewing bags for powder for the guns, well knowing the awful fate that
awaits them if the place is taken. There has not been a sign of fear;
they bring us tea or any little thing they can, and would even like to
keep watch on the bastions if we would let them.... You should see the
state we are in—men making up canister, ladies sewing powder-bags,
people bringing plunder recovered, artillery mounting guns; all of us
dirty and tired with night-watching; we mount sentry-duty to take the
weight of it off the artillerymen, and snatch sleep and food as we can.’

Many other stations in that part of India were disturbed in June and
July by the mutinies of wings and detachments of regiments too small in
amount to need notice here. At one place, Asseerghur, Colonel Le
Mesurier warded off mutiny by a prompt and dexterous manœuvre, for which
he received the marked thanks of the government.

Gwalior now comes under notice, in relation to a mutiny of troops at
that place, and to the conduct of Scindia, the most important of the
Mahratta chieftains. Considered as a city or town (about sixty-five
miles south of Agra), Gwalior is not very important or interesting,
being irregularly built and deplorably dirty, and possessing few public
buildings of any note. It is for its hill-fortress that Gwalior is so
famed. The rock on which the fortress stands is an elongated mass, a
mile and a half long by a quarter of a mile in width, and reaching in
some places to a height of about three hundred and fifty feet. It is
entirely isolated from other hills; and—partly from the natural
stratification of the sandstone, partly from artificial construction—is
in many parts quite perpendicular. A rampart runs round the upper edge,
conforming to the outline of the summit. The entrance to the enclosure
within the rampart is near the north end of the east side; in the lower
part by a steep road, and in the upper part by steps cut in the rock,
wide enough to permit elephants to make the ascent. A high and massive
stone-wall protects the outer side of this huge staircase; seven
gateways are placed at intervals along its ascent; and guns at the top
command the whole of it. Within the enclosure of the rampart is a
citadel of striking appearance, an antique palace surmounted by kiosks,
six lofty round towers or bastions, curtains or walls of great thickness
to connect those towers, and several spacious tanks. It is considered
that fifteen thousand men would be required to garrison this fortress
completely. So striking is this rock, so tempting to a chieftain who
desires a stronghold, that Gwalior is believed to have been a fortress
during more than a thousand years. It has been captured and recaptured
nearly a dozen times, by contending Hindoos and Mohammedans, in the
course of centuries. The last celebrated contest there was in 1779, when
the Company’s forces captured it through a clever and unexpected use of
ladders and ropes during a dark night. In the next sixty-five years it
was possessed successively by the British, the Jâts, the Mahrattas, the
British again, the Mahrattas again, and finally by the British,
according to the intricacies of treaties and exchanges. Since 1844,
Gwalior has been the head-quarters of a corps called the Gwalior
Contingent, commanded by British officers; and thus the hill-fortress
has virtually been placed within the power of the British government.
Besides this famous stronghold, there is at Gwalior a place called the
Lashkar. This, in former times, was the stationary camp of the Maharajah
Scindia—a dirty collection of rude buildings, extending to a great
distance from the southwest foot of the rock; but the great reduction in
the number of troops allowed to be held independently by Scindia has
materially lessened the importance of the Lashkar.

The loyalty of Scindia became a question of very anxious importance at
the time of the mutinies. Holkar was possessor of a much smaller
territory than Scindia; and yet, when a rumour spread that the rising at
Indore on the 1st of July had the sanction of the first-named sovereign,
numerous petty chieftains in that part of India rose against the
British, and prepared to cut off all retreat for Europeans. It was not
until Holkar had given undoubted evidence of his hostility to the
mutineers, that these movements were checked. Much more was this
rendered manifest in Scindia’s dominions. If Scindia had failed us, the
mutineers from Neemuch, Nuseerabad, and Jhansi, by concentrating at
Gwalior, might have rendered that hill-fortress a second Delhi to the
British. Scindia and Holkar both remained steady; it was the Contingents
that failed. These contingents were bodies of native troops, paid by the
native princes of the states or countries whose name they bore, but
organised and officered by the British, in the same way as the ordinary
battalions of the sepoy army. If the native princes, for whose defence
ostensibly, and at whose expense really, these contingents were
maintained, wished and were permitted to have any independent military
force of their own, that could only be done additionally to the
contingent which they were bound to furnish. As a consequence of this
curious system, a distinction must be drawn between the contingent
troops and the prince’s troops. At Indore, Holkar’s little army as well
as Holkar’s contingent proved hostile to the British. Scindia was in
like manner paymaster for a double force; and the British often
anxiously pondered whether one or both of these might prove faithless at
Gwalior, with or without the consent of Scindia himself. The Gwalior
Contingent, though connected with a Mahratta state, consisted chiefly of
Hindustanis, like the sepoys of the Bengal army; the Mahrattas formed
quite a minority of the number. The contingent consisted of all three
arms of the service—infantry, cavalry, and artillery—and formed a
compact army.

The disasters at Gwalior began on Sunday the 14th of June—as usual, on
Sunday. It will be remembered (p. 112) that Scindia, three or four weeks
earlier, had offered the aid of his own body-guard, which had been
accepted by Mr Colvin at Agra; that a portion of the Gwalior Contingent
(cavalry) was also sent; that this contingent, under Lieutenant
Cockburn, was actively engaged against the insurgents in the region
between Agra and Allygurh; and that about one-half of the troopers
composing it revolted on the 28th of May, placing that gallant officer
in a very embarrassing position. They were portions of the same
contingent that mutinied at Neemuch and one or two other places; and on
this account the European inhabitants at Gwalior were subject to much
anxiety—knowing that that station was the head-quarters; and that,
although the contingent was paid for by the Maharajah, the troops had
been raised mostly in Oude, and, being disciplined and officered by the
British, were likely to share the same sentiments as the Oudians and
other Hindustanis of the Bengal army elsewhere. The Maharajah had little
or no influence over them; for neither were they his countrymen, nor had
he any control over their discipline or movements. During fourteen
years, as boy, youth, and man, he had been in great measure a pupil
under the British resident at Gwalior; and if he remained an obedient
pupil, this was nearly all that could be expected from him—shorn, as the
Mahratta court was, of so much of its former influence. Dr Winlow Kirk,
superintending surgeon of the contingent, placed upon record, ten days
before the bloody deed which deprived him of life, a few facts relating
to the position of the Europeans at Gwalior in the latter part of May
and the beginning of June. The resident received information which led
him to believe that the contingent—seven regiments of infantry, two of
cavalry, and four batteries of artillery—was thoroughly disaffected,
both the main body at Gwalior and the detachments elsewhere. The
brigadier commandant shared this opinion with the resident; and, as a
precautionary measure, all the ladies were sent from the station to the
Residency, a distance of six miles, on the 28th of May. Dr Kirk, and
most of the military officers, dissented from this opinion; they thought
the troops were behaving in a respectful manner, and they offered to
sleep among the men’s lines to shew their confidence in them. On the
29th and 30th, the ladies returned to cantonment, much to the apparent
delight of the sepoys at the generous reliance thus placed in them.
Bitter was the disappointment and grief in store for those who had
trusted these miscreants.

It was on the 14th of June, we have said, that the uprising at Gwalior
began. The Europeans had long wished for the presence of a few English
troops; but as none were to be had, they watched each day’s proceedings
rather anxiously. At nine o’clock in the evening of the disastrous
Sunday, the alarm was given at the cantonment; all rushed out of their
respective bungalows, and each family found others in a similar state of
alarm. Shots were heard; officers were galloping or running past; horses
were wildly rushing with empty saddles; and no one could give a precise
account of the details of the outbreak. Then occurred the sudden and
mournful disruption of family ties; husbands became separated from their
wives; ladies and children sought to hide in gardens and grass, on
house-tops and in huts. Then arose flames from the burning bungalows;
and then came bands of reckless sepoys, hunting out the poor homeless
English who were in hiding. On the morning of that day, Dr Kirk,
although he had not shared the resident’s alarm seventeen days before,
nevertheless thought with some anxiety of the ladies and children, and
asked what arrangements had been made for their safety in the event of
an outbreak; but the officers of the regiments, most of whom relied
fully on their men, would not admit that there was any serious need for
precautionary measures. Two of these unfortunate officers, Major Blake
and Major Hawkins, were especially trustful; and these were two among
the number who fell by the hands of their own men that very night.
Captain Stewart, with his wife and child, were killed, as also Major
Sheriff. Brigadier Ramsey, and several others, whose bungalows were on
the banks of a small river, escaped by f