Forty-One Years in India
From Subaltern to Commander-In-Chief
FIELD MARSHAL LORD ROBERTS
Our prolonged stay at Fatehgarh was not altogether without advantage. Such a large force being concentrated in the neighbourhood secured the safety of the Doab for the time being, and as Fatehgarh was equally conveniently situated for an advance, either into Rohilkand or upon Lucknow, the rebels were kept in a state of uncertainty as to the direction of our next move.
At length it was decided that Lucknow was to be our first objective, and Sir Colin at once communicated with Outram and Napier as to the best means of conducting the siege. Then, leaving Hope Grant to take the division across the Ganges, the Chief went to Allahabad, the temporary Head-Quarters of the supreme Government, to discuss the[Page 217] situation with the Governor-General.
We marched through Cawnpore, and on the 8th February reached Unao, where we found encamped the 7th Hussars, a troop of Royal Horse Artillery, the 38th Foot and the 79th Highlanders.
Sir Colin on his return from Allahabad on the 10th issued a General Order detailing the regiments, staff, and Commanders who were to take part in the 'Siege of Lucknow.'1 Hope Grant, who had been made a Major-General for the 'Relief of Lucknow,' was appointed to the command of the Cavalry division, and I remained with him as D.A.Q.M.G.
Mianganj Rumours had been flying about that the Nana was somewhere in the neighbourhood, but 'Wolf!' had been cried so often with regard to him, that but little notice was taken of the reports, until my faithful spy, Unjur Tiwari, brought me intelligence that the miscreant really was hiding in a small fort about twenty-five miles from our camp. Hope Grant started off at once, taking with him a compact little force, and reached the fort early next morning (17th February), just too late to catch the Nana, who, we were told, had fled precipitately before daybreak. We blew up the fort, and for the next few days moved by short marches towards Lucknow, clearing the country as we went of rebels, small parties of whom we frequently encountered. On the 23rd we reached Mianganj, a small fortified town on the old Cawnpore and Lucknow road, where some 2,000 of the enemy had ensconced themselves. Our advance guard having been fired upon as we approached, the column was halted and the baggage placed in safety, while Hope Grant reconnoitred the position in order to see where it could most advantageously be attacked. We found the town enclosed by a high loop-holed wall with circular bastions at the four corners and at regular[Page 218] intervals along the sides, the whole being surrounded by a wet ditch, while the gateways had been strengthened by palisades. Large bodies of the enemy's Cavalry hovered about our reconnoitring party, only to retire as we advanced, apparently not liking the look of the 7th Hussars and 9th Lancers, who formed the General's escort.
After a careful inspection, Hope Grant decided to breach the north-west angle of the wall, as from a wood near the Infantry could keep down the fire of the enemy's sharpshooters, and the heavy guns would be in a measure protected while the walls were being bombarded. A sufficiently good breach was made in about two hours, and the 53rd Regiment, having been selected for the honour of leading the assault, was told to hold itself in readiness. Hope Grant then spoke a few words of encouragement to the men, and their Colonel (English) replied on their behalf that they might be depended upon to do their duty. The signal was given; the Horse Artillery, under Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Turner, galloped to within grape range of the town, and covered by their fire the 53rd marched in steadily until they got within 100 yards of the walls, when, with a ringing cheer, they dashed through the water in the ditch and entered the breach. Hopkins, the plucky Captain of the light company, was the first inside the walls, followed closely by Augustus Anson and an adventurous Post-Captain of the Royal Navy, who, being unemployed, came to see what 'a winter's campaign in India' was like.2 There was a good deal of hand-to-hand fighting, and the enemy lost about 500 men, those who tried to escape being cut down by the Cavalry outside the walls. We took about the same number of prisoners, but as none of these were soldiers, and vowed they had been forced to take up arms against us, the General, as much to their astonishment as to their delight, ordered them to be set free. Our losses were small.
Next day we halted while the walls were being destroyed and the place rendered indefensible. As I was superintending the work of destruction, the horrors of war were once more brought very forcibly before me by the appearance of an infirm old man, who besought me to spare his house, saying: 'Yesterday I was the happy father of five sons: three of them lie there' (pointing to a group of dead bodies); 'where the other two are, God only knows. I am old and a cripple, and if my house is burned there is nothing left for me but to die.' Of course I took care that his house and property were left untouched.
On the 25th February we marched to Mohan, a picturesquely situated village on the bank of the Sai Naddi, which stream we crossed the next day and encamped on a fine grassy plain, there to remain until it should be time to join the army before Lucknow.
Curious Effect of a Mirage While we were halting at this place, Watson and I had rather a[Page 219] curious adventure. During a morning's ride my greyhound put up a nilghai3 so close to us that Watson, aiming a blow at him with his sword, gashed his quarter. Off he started, and we after him at full speed; the chase continued for some miles without our getting much nearer, when, all at once, we beheld moving towards us from our right front a body of the enemy's Cavalry. We were in an awkward position; our horses were very nearly dead beat, and we could hardly hope to get away if pursued. We pulled up, turned round, and trotted back, very quietly at first, that our horses might recover their breath before the enemy got to closer quarters and we should have to ride for our lives. Every now and then we looked back to see whether they were gaining upon us, and at last we distinctly saw them open out and make as if to charge down upon us. We thought our last hour was come. We bade each other good-bye, agreeing that each must do his best to escape, and that neither was to wait for the other, when lo! as suddenly as they had appeared, the horsemen vanished, as though the ground had opened and swallowed them; there was nothing to be seen but the open plain, where a second before there had been a crowd of mounted men. We could hardly believe our eyes, or comprehend at first that what we had seen was simply a mirage, but so like reality that anyone must have been deceived. Our relief, on becoming convinced that we had been scared by a phantom enemy, was considerable; but the apparition had the good effect of making us realize the folly of having allowed ourselves to be tempted so far away from our camp without escort of any kind in an enemy's country, and we determined not to risk it again.4
While we were occupied in clearing the country to the north of the Cawnpore-Lucknow road, the main body of the army, with the siege-train, Engineer park, Naval Brigade,5 ammunition, and stores of all kinds, had gradually been collecting at Bhantira, to which place we were ordered to proceed on the 1st March. We had a troublesome march across country, and did not reach the Head-Quarters camp until close on midnight. There was much difficulty in getting the guns through the muddy nullas and up the steep banks, and but for the assistance of the elephants the task could hardly have been accomplished. It was most curious and interesting to see how these sagacious creatures watched for and seized the moment when their help was needed to get the guns up the steep inclines; they waited till the horses dragging the gun could do no more and were coming to a stand-still,[Page 220] when one of them would place his forehead against the muzzle and shove until the gun was safely landed on the top of the bank.
We started early on the morning of the 2nd for Lucknow, Hope Grant taking command of the Cavalry division for the first time.
The Dilkusha Revisited On nearing the Alambagh, we bore to our right past the Jalalabad fort, where Outram's Engineers were busily engaged in constructing fascines and gabions for the siege, and preparing spars and empty casks for bridging the Gumti. As we approached the Mahomedbagh we came under the fire of some of the enemy's guns placed in a grove of trees; but no sooner had the Artillery of our advance guard opened fire than the rebels retired, leaving a gun in our hands. We moved on to the Dilkusha, which we found unoccupied. The park had been greatly disfigured since our last visit, most of the finest trees having been cut down.
My General was now placed in charge of the piquets, a position for which he was admirably fitted and in which he delighted. He rode well, without fatigue to himself or his horse, so that any duty entailing long hours in the saddle was particularly congenial to him. I invariably accompanied him in his rounds, and in after-years I often felt that I owed Hope Grant a debt of gratitude for the practical lessons he gave me in outpost duty.
Strong piquets with heavy guns were placed in and around the Dilkusha, as well as in the Mahomedbagh. The main body of the army was encamped to the rear of the Dilkusha, its right almost on the Gumti, while its left stretched for two miles in the direction of the Alambagh. Hope Grant, wishing to be in a convenient position in case of an attack, spent the night in the Mahomedbagh piquet, and Anson, the D.A.A.G., and I kept him company.
On the 3rd some of the troops left at Bhantira came into camp, and on the 5th General Franks arrived. His division, together with the Nepalese Contingent, 9,000 strong, brought the numbers at the Commander-in-Chief's disposal up to nearly 31,000 men, with 164 guns;6 not a man too many for the capture of a city twenty miles in circumference, defended by 120,000 armed men, who for three months and a half had worked incessantly at strengthening the defences, which consisted of three lines, extending lengthwise from the Charbagh bridge to[Page 221] the Gumti, and in depth from the canal to the Kaisarbagh.
Passage of the Gumti In Napier's carefully prepared plan, which Sir Colin decided to adopt, it was shown that the attack should be made on the east, as that side offered the smallest front, it afforded ground for planting our Artillery, which the west side did not, and it was the shortest approach to the Kaisarbagh, a place to which the rebels attached the greatest importance; more than all, we knew the east side, and were little acquainted with the west. Napier further recommended that the attack should be accompanied by a flank movement on the north, with the object of taking in reverse the first and second lines of the enemy's defences.7 A division was accordingly sent across the Gumti for this purpose, and the movement, being entirely successful, materially aided in the capture of the city. The passage of the river was effected by means of two pontoon bridges made of empty barrels, and thrown across the stream a little below the Dilkusha. They were completed by midnight on the 5th March, and before day broke the troops detailed for this service had crossed over.
Outram, who, since the 'Relief of Lucknow,' had been maintaining his high reputation by keeping the enemy in check before the Alambagh, commanded this division, with Hope Grant as his second in command. As soon as it was light we moved away from the river to be out of reach of the Martinière guns, and after marching for about two miles we came in view of the enemy; the Artillery of the advance guard got to within a thousand yards and opened fire, upon which the rebels broke and fled. The Bays pursued them for a short distance, but with very little result, the ground being intersected with nullas, and the enemy opening upon them with heavy guns, they had to retire precipitately, with the loss of their Major, Percy Smith, whose body, unhappily, had to be abandoned.
About noon we encamped close to Chinhut, and Hope Grant took special care that day to see the piquets were well placed, for the rebels were in great numbers, and we were surrounded by ravines and wooded enclosures. It was thought by some that he was unnecessarily anxious and careful, for he rode several times over the ground; but the next morning proved how right he was to leave nothing to chance.
While we were at breakfast, information was brought in that the enemy were advancing in force, and directly afterwards half a dozen round shot were sent into our camp; the troops fell in, the Infantry[Page 222] moved out, and Hope Grant took the Horse Artillery and Cavalry to our right flank, where the mutineers were collected in considerable numbers. In less than an hour we had driven them off, but we were not allowed to follow them up, as Outram did not wish to get entangled in the suburbs until heavy guns had arrived. The piquets were strengthened and pushed forward, affording another opportunity for a useful lesson in outpost duty.
All that day and the next I accompanied my General in his reconnaissance of the enemy's position, as well as of the ground near the Gumti, in order to determine where the heavy guns could best be placed, so as effectually to enfilade the enemy's first line of defences along the bank of the canal. On returning to report progress to Outram at mid-day on the 8th, we found Sir Colin Campbell and Mansfield with him, arranging for a joint attack the following day; after their consultation was over, they all rode with us to see the site Hope Grant had selected for the battery. It was a slightly elevated piece of ground about half a mile north of the Kokrel nulla, fairly concealed by a bend of the river; but before it could be made use of it was considered necessary to clear the rebels out of the position they were occupying between the nulla and the iron bridge, the key to which was the Chakar Kothi, and Outram was directed to attack this point the next morning.
At 2 a.m. on the 9th the heavy guns, escorted by the 1st Bengal Fusiliers, were sent forward to within 600 yards of the enemy. The troops then moved off in two parties, that on the right being commanded by Hope Grant. We marched along the Fyzabad road, the two Rifle Brigade battalions leading the way in skirmishing order, with the Cavalry well away to the right. The rebels retired as we advanced, and Walpole, commanding one of our brigades, by wheeling to his left on reaching the opposite bank of the nulla, was enabled to enfilade their position. The column was then halted, and I was sent to inform Outram as to our progress.
When I had delivered my message, and was about to return, Outram desired me to stay with him until the capture of the Chakar Kothi (which he was just about to attempt) should be accomplished, that I might then convey to Hope Grant his orders as to what further action would be required of him; meanwhile Outram sent a messenger to tell my General what he was about to do, in view of his co-operating on the right.8
Capture of the Chakar Kothi The Chakar Kothi was attacked and taken, and the enemy, apparently[Page 223] having lost heart, fled precipitately. One of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers' colours was placed on the top of this three-storied building by Ensign Jervis to show the Commander-in-Chief that it was in our possession, and that the time had come for him to attack the first line of the enemy's defences. We then continued our advance to the river, where the parties united, and I rejoined Hope Grant.
It was now only 2 p.m., and there was plenty of time to place the heavy guns in position before dark. Major Lothian Nicholson,9 Outram's Commanding Engineer, was superintending this operation, when he thought he perceived that the enemy had abandoned their first line, but he could not be quite sure. It was most necessary to ascertain for certain whether this was the case, as the Infantry of Hope's brigade, which had attacked and driven the rebels out of the Martinière, could be seen preparing to assault the works at the other side of the river. A discussion ensued as to how this knowledge could be obtained, and a young subaltern of the 1st Bengal Fusiliers, named Butler,10 offered to swim across the Gumti, and, if he found the enemy had retired, to communicate the fact to Hope's men. This feat was successfully accomplished by the plucky young volunteer; he found the enemy had retired, and, on giving the information to Hope, the brigade advanced, and before nightfall the whole of the enemy's first line was in our possession—a success which had been achieved with but slight loss to us, the chief casualty during the day being William Peel, the gallant Commander of the Naval Brigade, who had been seriously wounded while in command of a battery near the Dilkusha.
The next day, the 10th, Outram's camp was moved close up to the Gumti, and batteries were constructed from which fire could be poured on the mess-house and the Kaisarbagh. For the protection of these works, and to prevent an attack in force being made on the main part of the column, Hope Grant kept moving about with the Horse Artillery and Cavalry between the river and the Sitapur road, our reconnaissance extending beyond the old cantonment. We had several little fights, in one of which a very promising officer named Sandford, who had succeeded Younghusband in command of the 5th Punjab Cavalry squadron, was killed.
Capture of the Iron Bridge At daybreak on the morning of the 11th the batteries opened fire on the enemy's second line of defence; at the same time Outram himself led a strong body of Infantry along the river with the object of securing the approaches to the bridges. On reaching the Fyzabad road, about half a mile from the iron bridge, Outram placed the 1st Bengal Fusiliers in a mosque, with orders to entrench themselves and hold the post, while he pushed on to the stone bridge about a mile away. Outram's[Page 224] advance was covered by Hope Grant's Horse Artillery and Cavalry, but we had to keep at some distance away to the right, in order to avoid houses and walled enclosures. Soon after crossing the Sitapur road we heard guns to our left, and proceeding at a smart trot, came up with Outram just as he was about to attack a large body of the rebels, who, finding themselves in an awkward position, with the river in their rear and their retreat by the iron bridge cut off, made but a feeble resistance before they broke and fled. Some few escaped by the stone bridge, but the greater number, including the whole of the mutinous 15th Irregular Cavalry, made for the old cantonment. We pursued with our Cavalry, and very few of them got away. A couple of guns and a quantity of plunder were left behind by the enemy, who evidently had not expected us and were quite unprepared for our attack. Outram pushed on to the stone bridge, but finding he was losing men from the fire poured upon us by the rebels from the opposite side of the river, he fell back to the mosque where he had left the Fusiliers.
That afternoon, as there was nothing particular for the Cavalry to do, the General, Anson, and I rode across the river to see how matters were progressing on the left of the attack. We reached the Head-Quarters camp just as Sir Colin was about to receive a visit of ceremony from the Nepalese General, the famous Jung Bahadur. Our old Chief, in honour of the occasion, had doffed his usual workman-like costume, and wore General's full-dress uniform, but he was quite thrown into the shade by the splendour of the Gurkha Prince, who was most gorgeously attired, with magnificent jewels in his turban, round his neck, and on his coat.
I looked at Jung Bahadur with no small interest, for his deeds of daring had made him conspicuous amongst probably the bravest race of men in the world, and the fact that a high-born Hindu, such as he was, should, fifty years ago, have so far risen superior to caste prejudice as to cross the sea and visit England, proved him to be a man of unusually strong and independent mind. He was about five feet eight inches high—tall for a Gurkha—with a well-knit, wiry figure, a keen, dauntless eye, and a firm, determined mouth—in every respect a typical, well-bred Nepalese. The interview did not last long, for Sir Colin disliked ceremonial, and, shortly after the Nepalese Prince had taken his seat, news was brought in that the assault on the Begum Kothi had been successfully completed, upon which Sir Colin made the necessity for attending to business an excuse for taking leave of his distinguished visitor, and the interview came to an end.
Hodson Mortallly Wounded I then obtained leave to go to the scene of the recent fight, and, galloping across the canal by the bridge near Banks's house, soon found myself at the Begum Kothi. There I was obliged to dismount, for even on foot it was a difficult matter to scramble over the breach.[Page 225] The place was most formidable, and it was a marvel that it had been taken with comparatively so little loss on our side. The bodies of a number of Highlanders and Punjabis were lying about, and a good many wounded men were being attended to, but our casualties were nothing in proportion to those of the enemy, 600 or 700 of whom were buried the next day in the ditch they had themselves dug for their own protection. A very determined stand had been made by the sepoys when they found there was no chance of getting away. There were many tales of hair-breadth escapes and desperate struggles, and on all sides I hoard laments that Hodson should have been one of those dangerously, if not mortally, wounded in the strife. Hodson had been carried to Banks's house, and to the inquiry I made on my way back to camp, as to his condition, the answer was, 'Little, if any, hope.'
A great stride in the advance had been made on this day. Outram had accomplished all that was expected of him, and he was now busy constructing additional batteries for the bombardment of the Kaisarbagh; while Lugard,11 from his newly-acquired position at the Begum Kothi, was also able to bring fire to bear upon that doomed palace.
Hodson died the following day (the 12th). As a soldier, I had a very great admiration, for him, and, in common with the whole army, I mourned his early death.12
On the 13th Lugard's division was relieved by Franks's, and to Jung Bahadur and his Gurkhas, only too eager for the fray, was entrusted the conduct of operations along the line of the canal between Banks's house and the Charbagh bridge. On our side of the river nothing of importance occurred.
The capture of the Imambara (a mosque situated between the Begum[Page 226] Kothi and the Kaisarbagh) was accomplished early next morning. The assault was led by Brasyer's Sikhs and a detachment of the 10th Foot, supported by the remainder of that regiment and the 90th Light Infantry. After a short but very severe struggle, the enemy were forced to retire, and were so closely pursued that the storming party suddenly found themselves in a building immediately overlooking the Kaisarbagh.
It had not been intended to advance that day beyond the Imambara, but, recognizing the advantage of the position thus gained, and the demoralized condition of the rebels, Franks wisely determined to follow up his success. Reinforcements were hurried forward, the troops holding the Sikandarbagh and the Shah Najaf were ordered to act in concert, and before nightfall the Kaisarbagh, the mess-house, and the numerous buildings situated between those places and the Residency, were in our possession.
Outram's Soldierly Instinct
Lucknow was practically in our hands on the evening of the 14th March, but the rebels escaped with comparatively slight punishment, and the campaign, which should have then come to an end, was protracted for nearly a year by the fugitives spreading themselves over Oudh, and occupying forts and other strong positions, from which they were able to offer resistance to our troops until towards the end of May, 1859, thus causing the needless loss of thousands of British soldiers.13 Sir Colin saw his mistake when too late. The next day orders were issued for the Cavalry to follow up the mutineers, who were understood to have fled in a northerly direction. One brigade under Campbell (the Colonel of the Bays) was directed to proceed to Sandila, and another, under Hope Grant, towards Sitapur. But the[Page 227] enemy was not seen by either. As usual, they had scattered themselves over the country and entirely disappeared, and many of the rebels who still remained in the city seized the opportunity of the Cavalry being absent to get away.
Outram's command on the left bank of the Gumti was now broken up, with the view to his completing the occupation of the city. Accordingly, on the 16th, he advanced from the Kaisarbagh with Douglas's brigade14 and Middleton's battery, supported by the 20th Foot and Brasyer's Sikhs, and occupied in quick succession, and with but slight resistance, the Residency, the Machi Bhawan, and the great Imambara, thus taking in reverse the defences which had been thrown up by the enemy for the protection of the two bridges. As Outram pushed on, the rebels retreated, some across the stone bridge towards Fyzabad, and some through the city towards the Musabagh. They made two attacks to cover their retirement, one on Walpole's piquets, which enabled a large number (20,000 it was said) to get away in the Fyzabad direction, and another on the Alambagh, which was much more serious, for the garrison had been reduced to less than a thousand men, and the rebels' force was considerable, consisting of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery. They attacked with great determination, and fought for four hours and a half before they were driven off.
It was not a judicious move on Sir Colin's part to send the Cavalry miles away from Lucknow just when they could have been so usefully employed on the outskirts of the city. This was also appreciated when too late, and both brigades were ordered to return, which they did on the 17th. Even then the Cavalry were not made full use of, for instead of both brigades being collected on the Lucknow bank of the river, which was now the sole line of retreat left open to the enemy (the bridges being in our possession), one only (Campbell's) was sent there, Hope Grant being directed to take up his old position on the opposite side of the Gumti, from which we had the mortification of watching the rebels streaming into the open country from the Musabagh, without the smallest attempt being made by Campbell to stop or pursue them. His brigade had been placed on the enemy's line of retreat on purpose to intercept them, but he completely failed to do what was expected of him. We, on our side, could do nothing, for an unfordable river flowed between us and the escaping mutineers.15
There was one more fight in Lucknow. The Moulvie16 of Fyzabad[Page 228] (who from the first was one of the prominent leaders of the rebellion) had returned at the head of a considerable force, and had placed himself in a strongly-fortified position in the very centre of the city. It was not without a severe struggle that he was dislodged by the 93rd Highlanders and 4th Punjab Infantry under Lugard. The brunt of the fighting fell upon the last-named regiment, the gallant Commander (Wilde) of which, and his second in command,17 were severely wounded. The Moulvie made his escape, but his followers were pursued, and many of them were cut up. Thus at last the city was cleared of rebels, and we were once more masters in Lucknow.
On the 22nd March Hope Grant was ordered to proceed to Kursi, a small town about twenty-five miles off between the Sitapur and Fyzabad roads, reported to be occupied in force by the enemy.
We started at midnight with a brigade of Infantry, 1,000 Cavalry, two troops of Horse Artillery, and eight heavy guns and mortars. We were delayed some hours by the heavy guns and their escort (the 53rd Foot) taking a wrong turn when leaving the city, which resulted in the enemy being warned of our approach in time to clear out before we arrived.
Death of MacDonnell
As soon as Browne could got his men together, the pursuit of the enemy was continued; no further opposition was met with, and fourteen guns fell into our hands.
On the 24th we retraced our steps, halting for the night at the old cantonment of Muriao, where we buried poor Macdonnell. On the 25th we crossed the Gumti, and pitched our camp near the Dilkusha.
Lucknow was now completely in our possession, and our success had been achieved with remarkably slight loss, a result which was chiefly due to the scientific manner in which the siege operations had been carried on under the direction of our talented Chief Engineer, Robert Napier, ably assisted by Colonel Harness; and also to the good use which Sir Colin Campbell made of his powerful force of Artillery. Our casualties during the siege amounted to only 16 British officers, 3 Native officers, and 108 men killed; 51 British officers, 4 Native officers, and 540 men wounded, while 13 men were unaccounted for.
The capture of Lucknow, though not of such supreme importance in its consequences as the taking of Delhi, must have convinced the rebels that their cause was now hopeless. It is true that Jhansi had not yet fallen, and that the rest of Oudh, Rohilkand, and the greater part of Central India remained to be conquered, but there was no very important city in the hands of the enemy, and the subjugation of the country was felt to be merely a matter of time. Sir Hugh Rose, after a brilliant campaign, had arrived before Jhansi, columns of our troops were traversing the country in every direction, and the British Army had been so largely increased that, on the 1st of April, 1858, there were 96,000 British soldiers in India, besides a large body of reliable Native troops, some of whom, although hurriedly raised, had already shown that they were capable of doing good service—a very different state of affairs from that which prevailed six months before.
Start for England For some time I had been feeling the ill effects of exposure to the climate and hard work, and the doctor, Campbell Browne, had been urging me to go on the sick-list; that, of course, was out of the question until Lucknow had fallen. Now, however, I placed myself in Browne's hands, hoping that a change to the Hills was all that was needed to set me up; but the doctors insisted on a trip to England. It was a heavy blow to me to have to leave while there was still work to be done, but I had less hesitation than I should have had if most of my own immediate friends had not already gone. Several had been [Page 230] killed, others had left sick or wounded; Watson had gone to Lahore, busily engaged in raising a regiment of Cavalry;19 Probyn was on his way home, invalided; Hugh Gough had gone to the Hills to recover from his wounds; and Norman and Stewart were about to leave Lucknow with Army Head-Quarters.
On the 1st April, the sixth anniversary of my arrival in India, I made over my office to Wolseley, who succeeded me as Deputy-Assistant-Quartermaster-General on Hope Grant's staff, and towards the middle of the month I left Lucknow.
The Commander-in-Chief was most kind and complimentary when I took leave of him, and told me that, in consideration of my services, he would bestow upon me the first permanent vacancy in the Quartermaster-General's Department, and that he intended to recommend that I should be given the rank of Brevet-Major so soon as I should be qualified by becoming a regimental Captain. I was, of course, much gratified by his appreciative words and kindly manner; but the brevet seemed a long way off, for I had only been a First Lieutenant for less than a year, and there were more than a hundred officers in the Bengal Artillery senior to me in that rank!
Death of Sir William Peel I marched to Cawnpore with Army Head-Quarters. Sir William Peel, who was slowly recovering from his wound, was of the party. We reached Cawnpore on the 17th, and the next day I said good-bye to my friends on the Chief's staff. Peel and I dined together on the 19th, when to all appearances he was perfectly well, but on going into his room the next morning I found he was in a high fever, and had some suspicious-looking spots about his face. I went off at once in search of a doctor, and soon returned with one of the surgeons of the 5th Fusiliers, who, to my horror—for I had observed that Peel was nervous about himself—exclaimed with brutal frankness the moment he entered the room, 'You have got small-pox.' It was only too true. On being convinced that this was the case, I went to the chaplain, the Rev. Thomas Moore, and told him of Peel's condition. Without an instant's hesitation, he decided the invalid must come to his house to be taken care of. That afternoon I had the poor fellow carried over, and there I left him in the kind hands of Mrs. Moore, the padre's wife, who had, as a special case, been allowed to accompany her husband to Cawnpore. Peel died on the 27th. On the 4th May I embarked at Calcutta in the P. and O. steamer Nubia, without, alas! the friend whose pleasant companionship I had hoped to have enjoyed on the voyage.
FOOTNOTES, CHAPTER XXIX
[Footnote 1: The Infantry portion of the army was divided into three divisions, commanded respectively by Outram, Lugard, and Walpole. This was exclusive of Franks's column, which joined at Lucknow and made a fourth division. The Artillery was placed under Archdale Wilson, and the Engineers under Robert Napier. Sir Colin's selection of Commanders caused considerable heart-burnings, especially amongst the senior officers who had been sent out from England for the purpose of being employed in the field. But, as the Chief explained to the Duke of Cambridge, the selection had been made with the greatest care, it having been found that 'an officer unexperienced in war in India cannot act for himself ... it is quite impossible for him to be able to weigh the value of intelligence ... he cannot judge what are the resources of the country, and he is totally unable to make an estimate for himself of the resistance the enemy opposed to him is likely to offer.' Sir Colin wound up his letter as follows: 'I do not wish to undervalue the merits of General or other officers lately arrived from England, but merely to indicate to your Royal Highness the difficulties against which they have to contend. What is more, the state of things at present does not permit of trusting anything to chance, or allowing new-comers to learn, except under the command of others.'—Shadwell's 'Life of Lord Clyde.']
[Footnote 2: The late Captain Oliver Jones, who published his experiences under that title.]
[Footnote 3: Literally 'blue cow,' one of the bovine antelopes.]
[Footnote 4: A few days afterwards, when we were some miles from the scene of our adventure, I was awakened one morning by the greyhound licking my face; she had cleverly found me out in the midst of a large crowded camp.]
[Footnote 5: Peel had changed his 24-pounders for the more powerful 64-pounders belonging to H.M.S. Shannon.]
Naval Brigade 431
Franks's Division 2,880
Nepalese Contingent 9,000
[Footnote 7: Kaye, in his 'History of the Indian Mutiny,' gives the credit for originating this movement to the Commander-in-Chief himself; but the present Lord Napier of Magdala has letters in his possession which clearly prove that the idea was his father's, and there is a passage in General Porter's 'History of the Royal Engineers,' vol. ii., p. 476, written after he had read Napier's letters to Sir Colin Campbell, which leaves no room for doubt as to my version being the correct one.]
[Footnote 8: Outram's division consisted of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 79th Highlanders, 2nd and 3rd battalions of the Rifle Brigade, 1st Bengal Fusiliers, 2nd Punjab Infantry, D'Aguilar's, Remmington's and Mackinnon's troops of Horse Artillery, Gibbon's and Middleton's Field Batteries, and some Heavy guns, 2nd Dragoon Guards, 9th Lancers, 2nd Punjab Cavalry, and Watson's and Sandford's squadrons of the 1st and 5th Punjab Cavalry.]
[Footnote 9: The late Lieutenant-General Sir Lothian Nicholson, K.C.B.]
[Footnote 10: Now Colonel Thomas Butler, V.C.]
[Footnote 11: Now General the Right Hon. Sir Edward Lugard, G.C.B.]
[Footnote 12: It was current in camp, and the story has often been repeated, that Hodson was killed in the act of looting. This certainly was not the case. Hodson was sitting with Donald Stewart in the Head-Quarters camp, when the signal-gun announced that the attack on the Begum Kothi was about to take place. Hodson immediately mounted his horse, and rode off in the direction of the city. Stewart, who had been ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to accompany the troops, and send an early report to his Excellency of the result of the assault, had his horse ready, and followed Hodson so closely that he kept him in sight until within a short distance of the fighting, when Stewart stopped to speak to the officer in charge of Peel's guns, which had been covering the advance of the troops. This delayed Stewart for a few minutes only, and as he rode into the court-yard of the palace a Highland soldier handed him a pistol, saying, 'This is your pistol, sir; but I thought you were carried away mortally wounded a short time ago?' Stewart at once conjectured that the man had mistaken him for Hodson. In face they were not much alike, but both were tall, well made and fair, and Native soldiers had frequently saluted one for the other. It is clear from this account that Hodson could not have been looting, as he was wounded almost as soon as he reached the palace.]
[Footnote 13: In the month of May, 1858, alone, not less than a thousand British soldiers died of sunstroke, fatigue and disease, and about a hundred were killed in action.]
[Footnote 14: Consisting of the 23rd Fusiliers, 79th Highlanders, and 1st Bengal Fusiliers.]
[Footnote 15: Captain Wale, a gallant officer who commanded a newly raised corps of Sikh Cavalry, lost his life on this occasion. He persuaded Campbell to let him follow up the enemy, and was shot dead in a charge. His men behaved extremely well, and one of them, by name Ganda Sing, saved the life of the late Sir Robert Sandeman, who was a subaltern in the regiment. The same man, two years later, saved the late Sir Charles Macgregor's life during the China war, and when I was Commander-in-Chief in India I had the pleasure of appointing him to be my Native Aide-de-Camp. Granda Sing, who has now the rank of Captain and the title of Sirdar Bahadur, retired last year with a handsome pension and a small grant of land.]
[Footnote 16: A Mahomedan Priest.]
[Footnote 17: Now General Cockburn Hood, C.B.]
[Footnote 18: Now General Sir Samuel Browne, V.C., G.C.B. This popular and gallant officer, well known to every Native in Upper India as 'Sām Brūn Sahib,' and to the officers of the whole of Her Majesty's army as the inventor of the sword-belt universally adopted on service, distinguished himself greatly in the autumn of 1858. With 230 sabres of his own regiment and 350 Native Infantry, he attacked a party of rebels who had taken up a position at Nuria, a village at the edge of the Terai, about ten miles from Pilibhit. Browne managed to get to the rear of the enemy without being discovered; a hand-to-hand light then ensued, in which he got two severe wounds—one on the knee, from which he nearly bled to death, the other on the left shoulder, cutting right through the arm. The enemy were completely routed, and fled, leaving their four guns and 300 dead on the ground. Browne was deservedly rewarded with the V.C.]
[Footnote 19: The present 13th Bengal Lancers.]