PREFACE TO THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW
I QUITE feel that an apology is due from anyone who at this time ventures to write about the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and 1858, or the events connected with it. Thirty-three years have elapsed since that eventful period, and many books have been given to the world relating to it — some merely containing the historical facts, others personal reminiscences, and others the narrative of events in some one or other particular place; and it certainly does appear as if nothing fresh could be found to say. But there is one place which was for many months the scene of as grand a struggle to hold their own and to defend the lives and honour of their wives and children as Englishmen have ever been engaged in (I speak of Lucknow.), of which struggle I venture to
suggest that a thoroughly clear and accurate account has not been given, and for this reason The siege of Lucknow may be divided into three parts — the defence under Sir Henry lawrence and Brigadier Inglis; the reinforcements by Generals Havelock and Qutram; and the relief by Lord Clyde. Now, the two first of these parts have been much mixed up in the public mind, so that the services of Inglis, Havelock, and Outram are often spoken of as being the same. All honour, indeed, is due to those noble and brave men who came through innumerable difficulties and dangers to our rescue—truly have they deserved all the glory and praise given to them; but they were not the real defenders of Lucknow, for they did not come until after the place had been invested for eighty-seven days. The force before their arrival numbered only about 1,8oo fighting men opposed to about 15,ooo of the enemy. This little band, with its 8oo women and children to protect, with barely fighting men sufficient to man the defences, doubtful if it were possible to hold out till relief came, daily losing from wounds and sickness, and exhausted with Incessant toil and insufficient food, maintained a
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defence described by General Outram as unparalleled in European history. The commander of the garrison during these eighty-seven days was Brigadier Inglis. A month before the siege commenced he was the colonel of his regiment, H.M. 32nd; he suddenly, on the death of Sir Henry Lawrence on the third day of the siege, found himself, in this responsible position, with the lives of the whole garrison entrusted to his care. It is of this time that I write, hoping that the simple account of each day’s events may give a clear idea of what was done by the garrison under his command. I have been materially’ assisted by his aide-de-camp, Colonel Birch, now commissioner at Simla, who has given me the use of his notes taken during the siege. He was constantly with my husband, shared his labours and anxieties, and was of the greatest use and comfort to him. In the despatch giving the account of the. siege, he is thus described ‘I firmly believe there never was a better aide-decamp.’ I have avoided as much as possible all personal allusions, and trust I have said nothing to give pain to anyone. My object in writing this little book will be attained if it gives the present
generation a clearer knowledge of the defence of Lucknow, and greater appreciation of the services of those engaged in it. I have added my diary of the events that happened subsequent to the reinforcement by General Havelock and Outram, and to the relief by Lord Clyde, and have wound up the narrative by an account of my journey down country and voyage home and shipwreck, as being a curious sequence to the horrors of the Mutiny, and which, I fancy, may prove interesting, to my relations and friends.