THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW
As I have said in the preface to this book, I have not the slightest intention of giving any history of the events relating to the Indian Mutiny; but, in order to bring my readers to the period of time when my personal narrative commences, I must just give a slight sketch of the. position of things in Lucknow immediately previous to the month of May, 1857, the names of the principal persons in authority at the time, and the number and position of the troops concerned in the revolt and subsequent defense.
The 32nd Regiment, of which my husband, Lieutenant - Colonel Inglis, was the colonel, marched into Lucknow January, 1857, relieving HM. 52fld, under Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, the first British regiment to garrison Lucknow after the annexation of Oude. At that time Mr.
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Coverley Jackson was chief commissioner. He was succeeded by Sir Henry Lawrence on March 20, 1857. Major Banks was the commissioner, Mr. Ommanney judicial commissioner, and Mr. Gubbins financial commissioner, Dr. Fayrer chief surgeon. The headquarters of the chief commissioner were at the Residency, situated in the city close to the river Goomtee. Around the Residency were clustered several buildings, the houses of the officials, public offices, post-office, hospital, church, etc. About a mile from this position were the barracks of the European regiment, the officers’ houses being scattered about in the neighbourhood. Three miles from the Residency, on the other side of the river, was the cantonment, where the three native regiments were quartered: the i3th, under Major Bruere; the 48th, under Lieutenant - Colonel Palmer; the 71st, under Lieutenant - Colonel Halford; also a company of European artillery and a native battery. Brigadier Handscomb was in command, and resided in cantonments. About a mile further on beyond the race-course was Moodkipore, where the 7th Cavalry was stationed, and the 4th and 7th Regiments of Oude infantry
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were at Moosa Bagh, about three miles on the other side of the city.
The military force in the capital and its environs on April 30, 1857, was:
Native infantry, regulars - - 2,400
irregulars- - - 1,6oo
Police - - - - - 8oo
Native cavalry, regulars - - 6oo
irregulars - - 6oo
Mounted police - - - 900
Artillery, two batteries.
Europeans, H.M. 32nd - - 700
Europeans, H.M. 84th, one weak company.
During this month we were constantly hearing of a mutinous spirit having shown itself amongst portions of the native troops in Bengal, but the disaffection was not supposed to be general, and it was hoped that it would easily be repressed by a judicious mixture of severity and conciliation. The discontent was said to originate in a report spread amongst the Sepoys that the cartridges they were to use for the new Enfield
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rifle were greased with pigs’ fat, the touching of which with their mouth would pollute them, and the refusal to use this obnoxious cartridge was the first sign of insubordination. A pretext for revolt was wanted, and they used this; the cause was far deeper seated. Much wonder and discussion was caused about this time by what was called the chappattie movement. Chappatties, or small cakes, the common food of the country, were being sent by running messengers from one village to another, whose inhabitants understood the secret sign and acted accordingly. Of the troops in Lucknow, the i3th N.J. was considered the stanchest. It was said they had been asked by some Sepoys of the other regiments on the day before an inspection whether they intended using the cartridges, and their readiness to obey orders as usual prevented any appearance of a mutinous spirit, and the inspection passed as usual. Occasional fires in the native lines gave rise to strong suspicions that there was an evil spirit abroad. Dr. Wells, 48th N.J., had his house burned down, and combustible arrows were found in Brigadier Handscomb’s and Captain Barwell’s (71st N.I.) compounds; but the culprits were not
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discovered. Such was the state of affairs up to May 3, when my diary commences.
Sunday, May 3.—As we were driving to church this evening, about five o’clock, we met Mr. Barber, of the irregular cavalry, who said that his regiment was just ordered off to Moosa Bagh, where the 7th Oude Infantry were in a state of mutiny. We drove on, and a few minutes afterwards Captain Hayes, military secretary to Sir Henry Lawrence, rode up in a state of great excitement, and said: ‘I want you and your regiment directly.’ We turned our horse’s head and drove home as fast as possible, sending every 32nd man we passed to his barracks. It was just after roll-call, and most of the men were out; however, they were soon assembled, and in less than an hour the regiment had marched, leaving a small force to protect the women and children, the hospital and the officers’ houses. Captain Hayes said he expected opposition in passing through the city, so the men were loaded. Mrs. Case and her sister, Miss Dickson, had been to church, and did not return till late. They had been rather alarmed by Colonel Case’s (32nd) nonappearance, and by seeing several officers leave
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during the service. Some of their servants went to meet them, and to escort them through the city. They came to our house, and we dined together, it having been arranged, in case of any disturbance occurring, that we were to assemble at the house of Mr. Giddings, pay-master to the 32nd. The evening gun rather startled us, but we heard no other war-like sounds. At twelve o’clock, being rather anxious for news, we went outside the garden-gate, and just then Major Banks rode up and told us all was right, and the troops on their way back.
John returned at 1 a.m. The affair terminated thus: On arriving at Moosa Bagh, the force was arranged in such a manner as to command the lines of the rebellious regiment; they were ordered to turn out, which they did rather slowly; but when they saw the line of infantry and artillery waiting to receive them, and actually the port fires of the guns lighted, an act which was rather premature, and for which no order had been given, a panic seized them, and they ran off, throwing down their arms; a few men were made prisoners, and nothing more remaining to be done, the troops were ordered back to Lucknow, leaving
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guards over the prisoners and treasure. It seemed a pity that John had not been informed previously of the mutinous spirit evinced by the 7th, when of course he could have kept his men in barracks, and have had them ready to turn out at a moment’s notice. They had actually threatened their officers, and confined them to their houses before anything was done to put them down; the delay might have had most dangerous results. The native regiments employed on that expedition behaved very well; they were narrowly watched and not loaded. The principal reason for taking them was that it was not considered safe to leave them in cantonments. The 4th N.I., quartered with the 7th, manifested no desire to join their rebellious brethren, but seemed quite ready to fire on them if called on to do so.
Nothing particular occurred for the next week or so; but on May 15 we were out driving with Colonel and Mrs. Case, when Mr. Harris, the chaplain, brought John a message from Sir Henry Lawrence that he wished to see him immediately. We found him waiting near our house in close consultation with Major Banks. We at once feared something was wrong, but
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little dreamed of the bad news that was to greet our ears, namely, that the native cavalry had mutinied at Meerut, and, after murdering many of the officers and residents in cantonments, had gone off to Delhi, where it was expected the standard of revolt would also be raised. This news had arrived by telegraph, and of course it was of great consequence to take some immediate precautionary measures, so as to be prepared for a rising here, which was expected as soon as what had taken place in Delhi and Meerut was made known.
The next day (16th) still worse news was received; Delhi was said to be in the hands of the mutineers, and the military and civil authorities were consulting together all day as to what measures should be taken. The result being that this evening all the women and children were sent into the city Residency with a company of the 32nd and four guns; the rest of the 32nd was ordered to march the next morning into cantonments, together with four guns. Sir Henry Lawrence most kindly asked the 32nd ladies to stay in his house in cantonments, an invitation we gladly
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accepted in order to be near our husbands. We were very busy packing all the afternoon. Whilst we were at dinner, Major Banks came to speak to John; he was in a state of great excitement, said he considered the move to cantonments most injudicious, that the city Residency was the place in which we ought to have collected our forces, and to that we should hold on like grim death; he evidently considered we were in a critical and dangerous position.
The 32nd was ordered to march the next morning, the 17th (Sunday). Just as we were getting up, a note arrived for John from Captain Hayes to say we were likely to be attacked on entering cantonments. This was not pleasant news; however, I got myself and my three children ready as soon as possible, and John went off to the parade-ground. When ready I mounted my pony, and with Mrs. Case and her sister rode up and down the road near our bungalows, waiting for the order to march. Some of the police-force came up at this time to guard our houses. Day was just breaking; hardly a sound broke the stillness of the hour, for no bugles or drums were allowed to sound,
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in order that our time of march might not be known; and a sort of awe crept over us, giving us presentiments of evils to come. We waited nearly an hour, there having been some unaccountable delay in the march of the regiment. At last Colonel Case came for us. One troop of irregular cavalry, four guns, and the 32nd, composed our force. Mrs. Case, Miss Dickson, and I rode in front; Mrs. Giddings and my three boys were close to us in carriages; Colonel Case rode on to reconnoitre. The city was perfectly quiet as we passed through—indeed, all the inhabitants seemed asleep, and half-way from cantonments we met Sir Henry, who told us all was right, the report of an attack having been spread by a drunken artilleryman; so our alarm subsided. On reaching cantonments the regiment marched into camp, and we took up our quarters in Sir Henry’s house. I think it was the longest day I ever passed, as of course we could settle to nothing. John came in the evening, and read the service with me; he told me he did not think we should ever return to our house. This was sad news, as we had imagined the fall of Delhi, against which a large
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force had been sent, would put an end to all fear of disturbances here. Mrs. Gall and Mrs. Barber, whose husbands were in the irregular cavalry, arrived here this evening, the place they lived in not being considered safe. Colonel Case dined with us. John remained in camp; being in command, he did not like to leave his regiment at night. I sat next Sir Henry; he was very grave and silent. He told me that he considered the annexation of Oude the most unrighteous act that was ever committed. A telegraphic message came in whilst we were at dinner, which we feared did not contain good news.
The next morning (19th), at eleven o’clock, an alarm was given that the 71st N.I. intended rising at two o’clock. The gentlemen immediately rushed out, and ladies from all parts rushed in for protection. We were all ordered, in case the house were attacked, to go into a small inner room without windows, and to remain there whilst the firing lasted. The hour passed, however, and all remained quiet. John had the regiment ready to turn out, and ~as standing by the guns when the hour struck, expecting the attack to be made; but the Sepoys remained passive. This alarm
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augmented the numbers in our house very much, and we were now eleven ladies and fifteen children. Sir Henry, notwithstanding all he had to do, spared no pains in making us as comfortable as circumstances would admit. I had a small room to myself with the children—a great comfort; but I did not quite like having a Sepoy of the 4th Oude Infantry as a sentry outside my door, which had no fastening. These Sepoys were most mild-looking men, and used to amuse themselves during the day by playing with the children. I used to watch them, and could hardly fancy they were murderously inclined.
The next day (20th) nothing eventful occurred. I paid Mrs. Hayes a visit, and found her sadly cast down and anxious. Sir Henry gave a large dinner-party. I think he was anxious to keep up our spirits, but the attempt was, I am sure, trying to him and to all of us. He received this day from Lord Canning the appointment of brigadier - general, which invested him with full powers, civil and military, and freed him from all control ; this seemed to give him pleasure.
21st.—From the reports of spies an attack was expected to-day, but everything remained quiet
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till the evening, when, just as we were sitting down to dinner, Sir Henry and his staff were heard calling for their horses, and we caught the words, ‘A fire in the artillery lines!’ The table was at once abandoned, and everyone rushed to the door. Certainly the sight was alarming; the flames were rapidly spreading, and appeared to be coming in the direction of our house. It was considered as the signal for the outbreak of the mutiny, and fear was painted on every countenance. Some counselled our leaving the bungalow, and taking refuge elsewhere; but at that moment Mr. Polehampton, the chaplain, came in, and said we were all to remain where we were. The wind providentially died away, and the fire was got under. I shall never forget poor Sir Henry’s look of relief when he returned and said all was right. It was almost the first time I had seen a smile on his countenance. John had the 32nd underarms, expecting to be attacked, but the Sepoys actually helped to put the fire out. At this time our native sentries round the house were relieved by Europeans, much to my satisfaction. A company of the 32nd went off to Cawnpore yesterday under Captain Lowe, also
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some irregular cavalry under Captain Barber. Captain Hayes accompanied the party as Sir Henry’s agent.
22nd.—An attack was again expected. I drove to camp in the evening, and sat some time with John. I saw very little of him, as he seldom liked to be away from the regiment. In the middle of the night I was awakened by the cry, ‘Turn out the guard!’ and by a clatter of arms. I jumped up, fancying the house was attacked. Captain Mansfield (32nd) came down at once to see what was the matter, and found it was a false alarm. The state of suspense we lived in was very trying, but we felt thorough confidence in Sir Henry, whose energy, prudence, and forethought could not be exceeded, and we knew that every necessary precaution would be taken, and that all that human wisdom could do for our safety would be done. Captain Wilson (13 th N.I.) was appointed adjutant-general; he laughed at the idea of a mutiny.
23rd.—Mrs. Case and I drove to camp in the morning, and saw the scene of last night’s fire, a large empty outhouse. Had the wind been high, and had the flames spread, the building being in
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a direct line with the mess-house of the 13th N.I., where a company of the 32nd was located, and with Sir Henry’s house, the consequences might have been serious; and this looked as if the fire had been more intentional than accidental. This day a rising was also expected; and Colonel Case, who was far from being an alarmist, advised our having a bundle of necessaries ready, in case we might have to leave our present quarters suddenly. We followed his advice, and communicated it to the other ladies in the house. News arrived from Cawnpore that Sir Hugh Wheeler, commanding there, had fully expected the native troops to rise, but the danger had been averted for the time. Telegraphic messages were constantly passing; it was thought that as long as Cawnpore remained quiet Lucknow was safe. Sir Henry ordered that all the roofs of the bungalows, which were thatched, and therefore easily ignited, should be kept constantly wetted in case of fire.
Sunday, 24th.—A quiet day. I went to camp in the morning, and to the cantonment church in the evening. During the service one or two shots were fired, apparently very close to us. For an instant I felt much alarmed, but soon
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remembered that the great Mussulman fast called Ramazan ended to-day, and that when the new moon appears, which ushers in the festival, guns are fired off to salute it. Two or three gentlemen left the church, but soon returned; and Sir Henry did not even turn his head, so we felt quite reassured. Mr. Polehampton preached a beautiful sermon, one most applicable to the time and our position.
25th.—I was awakened very early this morning by John, who told me all the ladies were to go at once to the city Residency, commonly called the Baillie Guard. Sir Henry, having received a telegraphic message from Cawnpore, ‘All quiet now, but not expected to remain so,’ thought it advisable that all the women and children should be placed in comparative safety before the rising here, which was hourly expected, should take place. We were soon ready, and left cantonments in no happy mood, as it was a great trial to us all to be parted from our husbands. I drove to the city in the buggy, the children following in the bullock carriage; the road was occupied by cavalry, and everything wore a most warlike appearance. The Gubbinses kindly asked me to stay in their
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house, which was inside the Residency walls; and I was reluctantly compelled to part company with Mrs. Case and her sister, who occupied the Residency house. Our party consisted of Major and Mrs. Banks and one child, Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill, Mr. and Mrs. Polehampton, Mrs. Cooper and two children, Mrs. Brydon and two children.
During the day I received one or two notes from John, saying that better news had arrived, and he still hoped we might escape the horrors of a revolt. I went over to the Residency house in the evening, and walked on the roof with Mrs. Case and her sister. The place was filled with women and children; all seemed very crowded and uncomfortable. Everything was being prepared within the Residency walls to sustain a siege, cartloads of provisions and grain, ammunition, etc., coming in continuously. Two large guns were placed in position, pointing down the road leading to cantonments, and it was very evident preparations for the worst were being made. Whilst we were at dinner to-night, Mr. Gubbins received a telegraphic message from Sir Hugh Wheeler. He said they had passed an
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anxious night; but all had remained quiet, and he trusted the crisis was past.
For the next few days everything remained quiet. Mrs. Case and I generally drove to cantonments in the afternoon, and sat with our husbands under a semianah (awning), which they had pitched in camp. These visits were a great treat to us; but we were obliged to return to the city before dusk, and even with this precaution I do not think our driving down each day by ourselves was very prudent. There were a great many ill-looking men about; and I was always very glad when we had re-crossed the iron bridge dividing us from cantonments. I was the coachman, and drove at a pretty good pace. All in camp led a most trying, fatiguing, and anxious life; constant alarms and reports kept them continually on the alert, and rest was almost out of the question. Sir Henry himself directed and inspected all things; his energy and activity were unsurpassed. Night and day seemed all the same to him. Either encouraging the wavering, punishing the rebellious, rewarding the faithful, visiting the Sepoy lines to show his confidence in them, giving audience to influential natives, or examining
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our own defences, all the energies of his master mind were employed in the one great effort of deferring the coming catastrophe, which he clearly saw was inevitable, and thereby rendering us better prepared to meet it; and doubtless but for him, and God’s blessing on his endeavours, the fate of all in Lucknow would have been but a prelude to the horrors of Cawnpore. John generally accompanied him in his visits to the city and Muchee Bowun; the latter was a fort three miles from the Residency, occupied by a company of the 32nd and some native troops, and it was munitioned and provisioned to stand a siege. About this time some men were caught in the lines of the 71st N.I.~ said to have come over from Delhi, trying to induce the Sepoys to desert to the rebel army, promising them high pay and promotion. The 71st themselves showed the traitors up; and the adjutant, Mr. Chambers, came to the lines to arrest them. One of them attempted to shoot him, but was overpowered, and the next day sentenced to be hanged. The Sepoys were very handsomely rewarded.
29th.—Drove down to camp as usual. I had had a visit from John in the morning, and did not
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think him at all in good spirits. Mrs. Case and I were mentioning some report we had heard about a mutiny at Peshawur, and rather laughing at its absurdity. He checked us by saying, ‘It’s no laughing matter; the most dreadful reports reach us daily. You think the crisis is past; I tell you it is yet to come.’ From that hour I seemed to realize the true seriousness of our position, and could never again smile at anything I heard, feeling that, if not true then, it might be before long.
30th.—We spent some hours in camp this afternoon, and John and Colonel Case accompanied us a short distance on our way home; we little thought then what perils shortly awaited them. I went to my room that night earlier than usual, and was just going to bed, when Mr. Gubbins knocked at my door, and said, ‘Bring your children, and come up to the top of the house immediately.’ I dressed myself and them, and obeyed as quickly as possible. I found all the inmates of the house assembled on the roof, and looking anxiously towards cantonments, where fires were blazing in all directions, and from whence cannonading and musketry firing could
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plainly be heard. Mr. Polehampton offered up a prayer for our preservation, and for those engaged in the strife, and then all the men prepared to defend our position, should it be attacked. Guns, revolvers and ammunition were plentiful, and we had some skilful matchlock men to assist us. If the house had been attacked, we were in a tolerably safe position against anything but artillery, as the roof was approached by a spiral staircase, up which but one could come at a time, and one good revolver could have kept the foe at bay for some time. A sowar (native horse soldier) arrived from cantonments with the news that the Sepoys had mutinied, and were burning and plundering in all directions. About twelve o’clock I received a note from John telling me all was over for the present. I was most thankful to see his handwriting, as my anxiety on his account had been great. All crowded round me to hear the news. He did not think the rising was general. Brigadier Handscomb and Captain Grant, 71St N.I., had been killed, also another officer. I sent the note to Mrs. Case, as her husband was mentioned in it. We all now felt reassured, and lay down to get a little rest—sleep was out of the
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question. At daylight we descended from the roof, but were startled by hearing heavy guns again.
Sunday, 31st—I had a few lines from John this morning telling me a little of what had occurred last night. It appeared the nine o’clock gun was the signal, and as it fired the Sepoys seized their muskets and rushed on our guns. Spies had reported their intention to Sir Henry Lawrence, and therefore in an instant the 32nd was turned out ready to receive them. A little desultory firing ensued, but a few rounds of grape soon dispersed the rebels, who then scattered themselves about cantonments burning and plundering the houses. The remnants of the 13th, 48th, and 71st N.I. regiments, who remained faithful, were drawn up in line with the 32nd. Brigadier Handscomb was shot dead when imprudently venturing down the lines. Mr. Grant, 71st N. I., was murdered at the quarter-guard of his regiment. Mr. Chambers, adjutant, 13th N.I., was badly wounded, but saved by some of his own men, and escorted to the Residency. Cornet Raleigh, a young officer in the 7th Cavalry, was murdered. Mrs. Bruere, wife of the
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colonel of the 13th N.I., had a narrow escape. She was spending the night in cantonments contrary - to orders, and while the mutineers were entering her house, some of the faithful Sepoys of the regiment got her out at the back, and hid her in the dry bed of a nullah (stream) until the morning. At daylight it was reported that the rebels had taken up a position near Moodkipore, where the 7th Cavalry were stationed. Sir Henry immediately, leaving a small force in cantonments under Colonel Case, gave them chase with the 32nd, under John, and some artillery and cavalry; but the latter did not show much alacrity in the pursuit, and some of them rode over to the enemy at once. The sun was very powerful, the men exhausted, and the Sepoys soon got out of their reach, excepting a few who were made prisoners. Finding the uselessness of the pursuit, the troops now marched back to cantonments. The destruction of property during .the night had been terrible, but it was no time to be thinking of losses; preservation of life was the chief thought in our minds. At 12 o’clock (noon) Major Banks sent word there was a rising in the city he could not withstand, and we were again ordered up to
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the roof; but on second thoughts it was decided that it would be better for us all to go over to the Residency house. Over we went at once, and the confusion and excitement that prevailed there baffles description. We all anticipated the worst, and, indeed, if we had been attacked then, our resistance could have been but for a short time. A clerk had already been murdered in the city, showing the feeling that was abroad. To add to our uneasiness, we were told not to crowd too much together, as the building was not very strong, and it was feared would not stand so great a pressure. I took refuge with Mrs. Case and her sister, who occupied a room on the top floor. We were soon joined by Mrs. Halford and her daughter, who were in a state of the greatest misery and alarm. Their house had been burned and plundered. Colonel Halford, 71St N.I., soon afterwards arrived, and the meeting was most painful to witness. Towards evening we went on the roof of the house. Occasional shots could be heard, and we were told that a disturbance in the city had been attempted, but the native police had behaved well and put it down. I was beginning to feel very uneasy about the
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force in cantonments, when to my great joy we descried troops crossing the iron bridge, and soon recognised the 32nd, with Sir Henry and John at their head. When they came within the Residency walls Sir Henry made the troops a speech, which was loudly cheered. From this time the Residency, or Baillie Guard, as it was called, became his headquarters. A small force with four guns was left in cantonments under Colonel Case to keep the communication open. The Muchee Bowun fort was also occupied by our troops, Captain Francis, i3th N.J., in command. I saw John for a few minutes after he came in from cantonments. Mr. Polehampton and Mr. Harris, our chaplains, read the evening service to us, and then we were all glad to lie down and rest, after the excitement and anxiety of the past day and night. Our own room, or rather Mrs. Case’s, was so oppressively hot and crowded, that Miss Dickson, the children and I slept on the roof of the house with some others. The night passed quietly.
June 1st —As everything seemed to have quieted down in the city, those ladies who had been staying in the Gubbinses’, Fayrers’ and
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Ommanneys’ houses returned to their quarters. I preferred remaining with Mrs. Case and Miss Dickson. We had a scrambling breakfast, and finding that the present mode of living was likely to last for some time, we determined on organizing a sort of mess, instead of being entertained by Dr. and Mrs. Ogilvie, who had always occupied the Residency house with Sir Henry. Kind and hospitable as they were, they could not arrange comfortably for so many. I asked Mrs. Radcliffe and Mrs. Boileau, 7th Cavalry, with their six children, to join us, and made my khansamah (butler) cater for the party. All approved of the arrangement, and it certainly was much pleasanter. John took up his abode in a small room in the lower part of the house. Sir Henry gave him the command of the troops, an onerous and anxious position; but it showed the confidence he placed in him. He appointed as his A.D.C. Captain Birch, 71st N.I. He had been struck by the activity and intelligence of this young officer upon —one or two occasions when he had acted orderly
officer to him on field-days, and selected him on that account. After-events fully justified his choice. Mrs. Case heard from Colonel Case to-day; he
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wrote cheerfully, though he had suffered from Saturday’s work. Our artillery had opened fire in such a reckless manner that the shot had gone right through his tent, killing two of his servants and two horses—really a very serious loss. I finished a long home letter to-day, and John sent it to Captain Barrow, who was at Salone, in Oude; but I believe it never reached him. There was a false alarm to-night, and the men rushed to the guns and lighted the port-fires, fancying the rebels were approaching.
June 2nd.—Miss Dickson and I dined with Sir Henry in his tent. He was most kind and hospitable, and insisted on all the members of his staff living at his table. Whilst at dinner the news arrived of the defeat of a body of rebels near Delhi by the 6oth Rifles. He said it was refreshing to get some good news, and his spirits seemed quite raised. Sad news, however, also arrived of the death of the commander-in-chief, General Anson. It was attempted to keep this a secret, but it soon leaked out.
June 3rd—We received the sad news to-day that Captain Hayes, Mr. Barber, and Mr. Fayrer, brother to Dr. Fayrer, had been murdered by
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their own escort near Mynpoorie. Mr. Gubbins communicated the dreadful intelligence to Mrs. Hayes; and in the evening, finding that Mrs. Barber was still in ignorance of what had occurred, I asked Mr. Polehampton to break it to her. She had only been married three months. Captain Hayes left five children. This was a very, very sad day. Accounts were daily received of mutinies and murders in the different districts of Oude, and some fugitives came in at this time from Seetapore, having escaped with difficulty, and undergone many hardships and dangers. News arrived that the troops at Cawnpore had mutinied on the 2nd, and were besieging our small force there, consisting of one company of the 32nd, under Captain Moore, principally married men, with their wives and children, a few of the 84th, and some artillery, all under the command of Sir Hugh Wheeler. We could learn no particulars. The soldiers who were sent from here to Cawnpore returned some days ago. Sir Hugh Wheeler, imagining that all danger was past, had sent them back, and actually offered us assistance.
Sunday,7th—We had service in the Residency church to-day. Mr. Polehampton always read
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prayers, morning and evening, in our house, which was a great comfort to us.
June 8th.—News arrived from Cawnpore describing the garrison there as being in great distress. We felt deeply anxious about them. There were three officers in Lucknow whose wives were in Cawnpore. One, Captain Evans, was in our house, and his wretched face used quite to haunt me. He seldom spoke.
9th.—Colonel Case came in from camp this morning; he was always so sanguine and cheery, that a visit from him raised our spirits. He was one who always looked on the bright side of things.
12th I sent a letter home to-day by Major Gall, who had volunteered to take despatches to Allahabad; he had entreated hard to go, though he knew what a great risk he ran. He started disguised as a native, and took some of his own men, native cavalry, with him, who professed the greatest fidelity. The police force mutinied today. Captain Orr, commandant, came to the Residency with the news; they went off without attempting to molest their officers. In the afternoon, a force went out under John, consisting of
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two companies 32 nd, two guns, and some Sikh cavalry. The rebels had had so much time to themselves, and had employed it so well, that it was almost impossible to overtake them. It was a fearfully hot day, and the men were quite exhausted after marching eight miles. The artillery opened fire at a long distance, and the cavalry, led by Captain Forbes and Lieutenant Hutchinson of the engineers, charged and took some prisoners; and then the infantry being unable to support them, the pursuit was given up. Mr. Thornhill was slightly wounded, two Sikhs killed, and a few wounded. It was now late in the evening, and John gave the order to return. On their way back through the city an attempt was made to lead the force the wrong way; but John held on his course, and most fortunate it was that he did so, for from the very street he had been advised to go down a sharp musketry fire was opened, but the shots fell too far off to do any harm. I did not see John before he started on this expedition, and was naturally very anxious. Two 32nd men died of heat-apoplexy on the march. Mrs. Case, Miss Dickson, and I went to-day to see a poor wounded
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woman who had escaped from Seetapore, and was being taken care of by Mrs. Wilkinson, 32nd. She was a very nice-looking girl about eighteen, and had two bad wounds in her side. Her escape, with her little boy, had been most wonderful. Of her husband’s fate she was ignorant. There were several other refugees in the lower part of the Residency house, where the 32nd women lived, and we gave them some clothes of which they stood much in need.
13th.—Still no news. I paid Mrs. Cowper a visit to-day. Our conversation was, of course, entirely on the state of affairs here and in other places; it was difficult to talk or think of anything else. I asked John at this time if he thought the enemy would attack us. He said it was his firm Opinion that they would. I then said, ‘Do you think we can hold out P He answered, ‘Our position is a bad one, and we shall have a hard struggle.’ I was glad to know what one might expect, as it enabled us to prepare for the worst. Our life was a most wearisome one; the heat was very great it was impossible to read much; but we occupied our time in making clothes for the refugees, and this employment was a comfort to
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us. Miss Dickson, the children, and I always slept on the roof of the house; the nights were very pleasant in the open air, and the view of the city and country round very beautiful. Everything used to look so calm and peaceful, it was difficult to think it could ever be a scene of war; but looking down into the Residency garden, we could see the guns placed in position ready to be used at a moment’s notice, and the soldiers sleeping amongst them. John generally had his bed placed there also, as his presence prevented false alarms. In the distant country we could constantly see large fires blazing, and imagined, I know not if correctly, that they were signals. At the first gleam of daylight we used to be awakened by two soldiers who came up to reconnoitre, and to give the alarm if any body of men were seen; they were relieved every two hours. Sir Henry was generally to be seen at this hour going round the works, and visiting the different positions. Ladies and children used to come up on the roof to breathe the morning air, and this used to be my signal for descending, as it was the only hour in the day when our room was empty and I could enjoy a little privacy. The doors and windows
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of the house were kept open all day, the doctors considering that the hot wind was healthier than a scarcity of air where there were so many people shut up in a small space. There were several children on our floor; they felt the heat much. Mine continued well. On the floor below us, trials were daily going on of different natives who had been taken prisoners, many of whom were sentenced to be hanged. We could see them chained in couples sitting on the ground, apparently taking little interest in the proceedings. John occasionally came to our room for a few minutes, but he had little time to himself. Except for a walk I took with Mr. Polehampton round the place, to see the fortifications, I never left the house.
Sunday, 14th.—We had service morning and evening. It was the last time the church was used. Afterwards it was converted into a storehouse for grain.
15th.—A most sad event occurred to-day. The sergeant-major of the 7th Cavalry had a quarrel with the riding-master Eldridge, upon some very trifling matter, when the former, Keogh, drew his pistol and shot the latter. He died in a few hours; but before his death he said, ‘You are a
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good fellow, Keogh, and I am sure never intended this.’ They were both steady, respectable men with large families, and liked by their officers. The sergeant-major was, of course, put in confinement, and his poor wife was nearly distracted. I believe he was released during the siege, and afterwards killed. News reached us that Colonel Fisher, of the irregular cavalry; had been killed by his own men. He was considered one of the best officers of the Indian army, and had the most perfect confidence in his men—indeed, appealed to them for protection. This was indeed a sad day. In the evening I was sitting on the top of the house talking to Mrs. Gall, who was in great anxiety about her husband, when Mrs. Barber called me. I saw at once something was the matter; and she told me that Major Gall’s Madras servant had just returned, bringing an account of his master’s murder. He had been betrayed by his own men, and murdered by the inhabitants of a little village near to which he was resting himself. I had to break the intelligence to his wife; it was a fearful blow to her, though few had expected that he would return from his perilous expedition; but it had been his urgent wish to
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go. Each day seemed to bring us more melancholy tidings, and we felt very heart-sick. All the officers belonging to the native regiments had by this time come down from cantonments to the Residency, and nearly all the Sepoys had been disarmed and sent to their homes on leave, with the exception of those who were considered stanch. The i3th N.J. had the majority; they saved their colours and the treasure the night of the mutiny.
16th.—A letter was received to-day from Cawnpore, giving a sad account of the state of the garrison, but saying they could hold out fifteen days longer. There was some talk just now of making overtures to Mhan Singh, a chief in Oude, who possessed great power and influence, and it was thought that if he would declare on our side the country would follow his lead.
17th.—The rebels reported to-day to be within fourteen miles of us. Colonel Case came to see us this morning; he was in his usual spirits. He used to write daily to his wife, and his letters were beautiful, so full of Christian confidence and manly, soldier-like courage. For the next two or three days no event of importance occurred.
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Good reports arrived from Cawnpore and Delhi, which turned out to be false. Captain Moore, 32nd, wrote hopefully from the former place, but begged for assistance.
Sunday, 21st.—We had service in the Residency house in the morning, and in Mr. Gubbins’ garden in the evening. I spoke to Sir Henry; he looked sadly worn.
22nd.—The volunteer cavalry, under Captain Radcliffe, went out to Nawabgunge to reconnoitre, but brought back no information regarding the enemy, only found out that stores of grain were being collected there.
23rd.—Very bad news arrived from Cawnpore to-day in a letter from Sir Hugh Wheeler, imploring assistance which, alas! we could not give. The engineers were consulted, and pronounced it impossible to get a force across the river, the bridge having been broken and all boats taken away. Besides which, we really had no troops to spare, expecting daily, as we were, to be attacked ourselves. It was fearful to think of the miserable state of the little force, and to feel we were powerless to help them. Sir Hugh said the enemy were shelling them, and it was well known his position
THE SIEGE OF LUGKNOW 37
was not in the least protected from these missiles.
24th.—I sat some time with John in the evening; he was much harassed, but cheerful. He had been with Sir Henry to inspect the road leading to Nawabgunge, to see if it would be possible to meet the rebels, and give them battle as they advanced on Lucknow. The project was at that time abandoned. I felt very unwell to-day, and fancied I had fever.
25th—An old ayah of Mrs. Orr’s came into the Residency to-day. She said she had marched with the mutineers to Nawabgunge, where they were assembling in force awaiting further reinforcements, and intending to attack us in a few days. Her information was given in a manner which made us inclined to credit it. Good news arrived from Allahabad that the place was in our possession, and that every effort was being made to send up troops to Cawnpore. We sent just now some little comforts, tea, etc., to a Mrs. Dorm who had escaped from Seetapore after seeing her husband killed, and who had been living concealed in the jungle; she managed afterwards to get into the Residency. At this
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time by John’s direction we began to lay in a store of sugar, arrowroot, beer, wine, food for our goats, etc., etc., which afterwards proved most valuable to us. An eight-inch howitzer was found buried to-day and brought in by elephants. We were driven down from the roof at night by heavy rain, ushering in the rainy season, which was very late. I felt very ill and weak all day.
26th.—In bed all day. Early in the morning Mr. Thornhill knocked at our door and told us not to be alarmed, as a salute was going to be fired in honour of the fall of Delhi, authentic news of which had just been received. One was fired from the Residency, cantonments, and Muchee Bowun. How this news, which ultimately proved false, originated it is impossible to say; the natives must have been amused at our credulity. I could not help thinking, as I lay listening to the booming cannon, how soon we might hear the same in real warfare, and wondering what my feelings would be then. A letter was received to-day from Captain Barrow, commissioner in Salone, Oude. He wrote from Allahabad, where he and his family had arrived in safety. The news from that place was good,
THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW 39
and we fervently trusted Cawnpore might yet be relieved. A reward of 1oo,ooo rupees was offered for the Nana of Bithoor’s head. He at first offered assistance to the poor Cawnpore people, and afterwards treacherously turned against them; and when the mutineers started for Delhi, he persuaded them to turn back and kill the Europeans in cantonments first. I felt very ill all day. I missed our good old doctor Scott very much; but he was at this time dangerously ill himself, and not expected to live.
Sunday, 28th.—There was service to-day at a place called the King’s Hospital, but I could not go. Some suspicious marks appeared on me, and I was pronounced to have smallpox. Not pleasant news, at such a time especially. I was most anxious to be moved, to prevent the infection spreading, and John promised to have a tent prepared for me. The dreadful report arrived to-day that Sir Hugh Wheeler had entered into a treaty with the Nana, and had afterwards with his whole garrison been betrayed and murdered. We could not bring ourselves to believe it. A party went out this morning and brought in some
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very valuable jewels belonging to the King of Qude, which had been discovered. Captain Birch thus describes the expedition:
‘On the morning of June 28, 1857, the immediate approach of the rebel army was imminent. It did not seem fair to leave the Khaiser Bagh palace of the King of Oude to be plundered by the enemy. Scarcely a year had elapsed since the king, Wassid Ali Shah, had been deposed, a wing of my regiment, 71st N.I., having formed part of the annexing column, which in 1856 took the place of his army. The king himself was now in Calcutta; He had made no resistance to his deposition, though urged to do so by so many of his subjects, and for the time being he was a pensioner of the British Government. It was a question whether or no his property should be respected. If loyal, he was entitled to our protection; if, on the other hand, he had joined the machinations against us, the crown jewels of Oude would make a pleasant addition to the army prize-money—either way it was necessary to get hold of them; so the commissioner, Major Banks, went with an escort, of which the Sikhs of my regiment formed a portion, to the palace.
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The attendants scowled at us as we entered the gates, but made no resistance. On entering I was fortunate enough to find behind a low mud-wall a twenty-four-pounder brass gun, with its equipments complete. I immediately reported the find to Major Banks, and it was sent at once to the Residency. After this discovery the regalia-room was entered, and the whole of the king’s jewels taken possession of. Amongst them were some very fine pearls and emeralds, some of the latter being as large as eggs; they were roughly strung together, uncut and unpolished, but very valuable. Besides the jewels, it was necessary to search for arms, with which the palace was supposed to be stocked; and I was sent the next morning with my Sikhs and Major Carnegie, the city magistrate, to continue the search. The inner gateway leading to the zenana premises had been earthed up, so I made my men take off their coats and accoutrements, and set to work to get the earth away. I had a native officer with me, whom I left in charge of the party, whilst I accepted the invitation of two of the dowlahs (members of the royal family) to walk inside. They told me they were much
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concerned at the idea of the harem precincts being entered, and begged I would keep my men from coming in. I promised to do so, and gave orders accordingly, but had hardly entered twenty yards when I saw my companions casting uneasy glances behind me. I looked back, and found that a corporal and four Sepoys had put on their uniforms, and were following me. I returned, and set them to work again. My companions seemed much pleased, and with great civility renewed their invitation to me; but again I was followed by a party of my men, and on my asking somewhat angrily why my orders were disobeyed, the native officer took me aside and remonstrated with me for going alone with two treacherous scoundrels, who would, he said, as likely as not assassinate me. He had ordered the guard twice in with me, and hoped I would not again leave them. I thought his advice good, and was pleased with his fidelity. Major Carnegie, who had left to fetch carts, returned just now, and he and I together entered the beautiful gardens of the Khaiser Bagh, probably the first Europeans who had ever done so. We found arms in plenty stored in the rooms below the
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building, and were loading carts with them the whole day.’
June 29th.—I renewed my request to be moved to-day, but was told that the rebels were so very near, that we might be attacked at any moment, and a tent would not then be safe quarters for me; so I reluctantly remained where I was. The force that had remained in cantonments came in this afternoon; part came into the Residency, and part were sent to the Muchee Bowun fort. Colonel Case was in command at the latter place; he wrote a most beautiful letter to his wife, not expecting to be able to visit her; but to her great joy he came over in the evening, and they spent a happy half-hour together, little dreaming it was to be their last on earth. I did not see him, but as he passed through our room I called out, ‘Good-bye, Colonel Case; I hope we may meet again under happier circumstances.’ We of course all felt deeply anxious. Captain Birch was desired to go to John at ten p.m. for orders; he did so, and found him with Sir Henry. He ordered him to take a party of the 32nd down to the iron bridge. The enemy were close upon us—eight miles on the Chinhut road. It was Sir
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Henry’s intention to attack them in the morning, and this party was to prevent anyone crossing the bridge. There were so few officers of the 32nd, that Captain Birch was sent in command. He asked to take his Sikhs, and John inquired if they could be trusted, as it was so important that no communication of our intentions should reach the enemy. Hearing how well they had behaved on the previous day at the Khaiser Bagh, he gave the required permission.
Tuesday, 3oth.—At daylight this morning Mrs. Case told me that a great commotion was going on outside, and that evidently a force was leaving the Residency. We had not then heard of the intended expedition, and I felt very much distressed, as John had promised he would not go out again without coming to say good-bye to me. I was feeling very unwell, and slept uneasily for some time, and on awaking said, ‘Oh, I have dreamt that our troops have been signally defeated!’ I almost laughed at the idea; but it was too true. A wounded officer soon afterwards came in and said the cavalry had deserted us. Then the news arrived that our native artillery had proved faithless, that our force was retreating,
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and that it was doubtful if we could save our guns. The greatest excitement and consternation prevailed. I could remain in bed no longer, but posted myself at the window, from whence I could see our poor soldiers returning—a most mournful sight. They were straggling in by twos and threes, some riding, some on guns, some supported by their comrades. All seemed thoroughly exhausted. I could see the flashes of the muskets, and on the opposite side of the river could distinguish large bodies of the enemy through the trees. Mrs. Case came up to me at this time, and said, ‘Oh, Mrs. Inglis go to bed; I have just heard Colonel Inglis and William’ (her husband) ‘are both safe.’ I said, ‘Why, I did not know Colonel Case was out.’ A few minutes afterwards John came in, he was crying; and, after kissing me, turned to Mrs. Case, and said, ‘Poor Case!’ Never shall I forget the shock his words gave me, or the cry of agony from the poor widow. Mrs. Polehampton took her into her room and tried to tranquillize her. John could not stop a moment. Just then Mrs. Stevens came to ask me about her husband, a captain in the 32nd. I had just heard- he was also killed,
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and persuading her to go down quietly into her room, sent Mrs. Giddings to tell her. It was a wretched moment, but there was no time for thought; the enemy was already firing heavily on our position, and our room was not safe, so we prepared to leave it, and began to pack a few necessaries. One of our servants, Curruk, a tent-pitcher, and who acted as a sort of nurse to Johnny, showed his honesty at this time, I had commenced to pay the servants’ wages, when the news of our defeat came and interrupted me, and I had a large bag of rupees. These and my jewels I gave into our butler’s charge, when Curruk said to me, ‘Don’t give him those things to take care of— don’t give them to me—keep them yourself.’ He evidently thought the temptation of possessing money at such a time might prove too great, and might induce them to desert us. And I followed his advice. We soon abandoned the upper story of the house, and took refuge in a small, almost underground, room where the artillery women were quartered. The shot were flying about too thickly outside for, us to venture out. The windows were barricaded, rendering us comparatively safe; and there we remained all day, listen
THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW 47
ing anxiously to the rapid musketry firing which was going on all round our defences. A soldier occasionally came in and told us we were getting on well, and once or twice John looked in on us for a minute. He eased my mind by telling me he had been quite against our troops going out; he said the affair had done us irreparable injury, and had brought our troubles upon us at least two days sooner than would otherwise have been the case. Our khansamah (butler), who behaved admirably, managed to bring us something to eat during the day. We had not long left the upper room, when a shell fell into it, showing that our retreat had not been too speedy. Towards evening the fire slackened, and John took us all over to a court in the centre of our position, where he had prepared a small room for us. I was carried over on a sofa, which I ‘made my bed. We all slept, fairly worn out with wretchedness. There was hardly any firing during the night.
The following account of this disastrous day is thus given by Captain Birch:
‘At six a.m. on the morning of June 30 the force formed up between the gate of the Residency and the iron bridge. Captain Hamilton
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Forbes, with a party of Sikh cavalry, twenty-five of H.M.’s 32nd, under Captain Stevens, and my twenty-five Sikhs, formed the advanced guard. We had gone but a short distance, when Captain Wilson, assistant adjutant-general, rode up and told me that Sir Henry required my services as A.D.C., his own A.D.C., Captain George Hutchinson, an engineer officer, being employed elsewhere. We marched some miles up the road towards Chinhut, until we came to a group of trees. It was discovered that the enemy had fallen back to a strong position in the rear of the village, and it was a question as to whether we should advance further. Sir Henry was himself against doing so, but was over-persuaded by the ardour of the younger members of his staff. Neither Brigadier Inglis, Colonel Case, commanding 32nd, as fine an officer as ever stepped, nor Captain Wilson, were present during this discussion. Sir Henry sent me to ask the brigadier if his men could go on. He gave the only possible answer, as I take it: “ Of course they could, if ordered.” I returned with this answer, and was immediately sent back with orders for the force to advance. And here I must mention
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what I consider was a great mistake, the not halting the men for refreshment. The elephants were up with commissariat stores, and it would have been easy to give them their breakfast; but this useful opportunity was lost, and the force advanced with empty stomachs, under a burning sun. The road lay between two villages, the one slightly in advance of the other, in the direction of the position the enemy had taken up. The advanced guard was ordered to occupy the village on the left of the road. The heavy guns opened fire, the 32nd being kept in reserve. I cannot say what the details exactly were, because, as soon as the advance guard was ordered to skirmish, I got leave and joined my Sikhs, under Captain Stevens. We were not supported, but maintained our position in the village for some time. Our artillery firing over our heads broke the centre of the enemy. These were so numerous that they divided into wings, and seeing that we did not advance, they took the initiative, and came down on both flanks. I am told that the reason we did not advance was because there was treachery in our ranks. It appears that the Sikh cavalry refused to charge, and the native