4

  

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

gunners, cutting the traces of the horses, left the guns and went over to the enemy. Meanwhile, left unsupported as we were, it became necessary to abandon our former position, and Captain Stevens ordered us to retire, but not before several casualties had occurred. As we left the village, the enemy seized it at a bound. We re­treated on the 32nd, and found Colonel Case in the act of deploying. The corps, 300 strong, stood in the space between the two villages, which by this time were both in possession of the enemy. A cross fire was kept up, which caused the 32nd serious loss: Colonel Case and his adju­tant, the only mounted officers, and. half the force, were left for dead on the field. The remainder took up a position near a sandhill under the com­mand of Captain Mansfield. I went up to Colonel Case as he lay on the ground, caught his charger for him, and tried to help him on to it; but he was again hit, and gave up the attempt. Nothing more could be done; the fire was extremely hot; we shook hands with him, and as we did so the pallor of death came over his face, and I think he must have expired before the enemy reached him. For a moment I thought of jumping on his

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

horse, but fortunately did not do so, as I should have inevitably been shot. My own horse, which I had left when I joined the skirmishers, was never recovered. Meanwhile, the volunteer cavalry, under Captain Ratcliffe, formed across the road to cover the retreat, which had turned to a rout. Our eight-inch howitzer was lost, as well as two other of the guns of the Oude irregular force. Sir Henry only left the field when matters be­came irretrievable, to give directions for the defence of the Residency, which that day com­menced. The enemy followed us very closely the whole way back; the troops were utterly dis­heartened, and not until we reached the iron bridge, where Sir Henry’s forethought had already placed a fresh company of the 32nd, under Lieutenant Edmonstone, was any sem­blance of formation or discipline regained. Our loss was most severe: nearly 200 killed and wounded, Colonel Case, Captain Stevens, Mr. Brackenbury and Mr. Thompson, 32nd, killed, and Captain Maclean, 71st N.I., Colonel Symons, artillery, Captain James, commissariat, Mr. Farquhar, 7th Cavalry, Captain Bassano, 32nd, and several others, wounded.’

 

52                                      THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

Such was the result of this ill-fated expedition it had shown our weakness to the enemy, lost us some of our best and bravest men, and depressed the spirits of all in the garrison to a sad extent. John had his horse shot under him, and walked three miles, when Sir Henry ordered him to mount a trooper’s charger, and bring the 32nd in. He said he had never before been under such heavy fire, and quite gave up all hope. Strange to say, the excitement and knocking about of this day didn’t do me any harm, though the small-pox was at its height with me. Mrs. Case and her sister both preferred remaining with me to seeking shelter elsewhere, and did not seem at all afraid of infection. I was very anxious on their account and the children’s, whom I could not keep away from my sofa. Our room, which really formed part of a native gaol, was very small, hardly more than a verandah, about twelve feet by six feet, with no doors nor windows, only arches; but we put up screens and curtains, which gave us a certain amount of privacy; and we had an outhouse attached, which we used as a bath-room, a great luxury. The servants who remained with us were our khansamah, who acted as cook, Curruk, and

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

Quibert, who took care of the boys; my ayah and her son, John’s khidmatgar, and four punkah coolies. Mrs. Case had also several servants, so we were well off. The cook and his wife were the only ones who ran away; the others were outside the Residency when the siege commenced. Our bearer, an excellent servant, went out to try and bring in his wife, and could not get back again. Mrs. Case’s ayah was at her house ill. Our syces (grooms) also remained faithful. Many persons were left with only one or two servants, and some with none. We had our goats inside, and John had laid in a stock of food for them, and many little comforts for ourselves. The inhabitants of our court consisted principally of half-caste clerks and their families. In the next square to us lived a good many of the ladies, who were all together in a large room, and very uncomfortable. The officers of the native regi­ments had also their mess-room there. On the other side of us was a square occupied by Sikhs of the 71st N.I., and some Christian drummers and their wives. Our courtyard was considered the safest of the three. We had two wells in it, and abundance of good water. Rations were

 

54                  THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

issued daily to every member of the garrison— beef, rice, flour, tea or coffee, sugar and biscuit, at this time in very ample quantities. Before con­tinuing my narrative, I will give Captain Birch’s account of our post and its defences. He says:

 

‘Our position was commanded on several sides; the fact is, our preparations for. defence were only half completed when the siege commenced, and many of the buildings surrounding us had been left standing. On one side only was there any­thing like open ground, and on this side resort was had to a temporary expedient, which will show how unprepared we were. A large stack of firewood had been collected close by the Resi­dency house. It was pointed out how dangerous this might become if set on fire; so the stack was pulled down, and rearranged in semicircular form on the west of the lawn in front of the house; earth was thrown over it, and throughout the siege no better defence than this slender rampart existed on that side. On the day of our departure, the hot metal from some exploded guns penetrated this faggot rampart, and set it on fire, and we left it in a blaze. I was always of opinion that the enemy, deceived by this ramparts appearance,

 

                             THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                55

 

 

thought it solid eaith. Besides this rampart, we had the battery named the Redan, and next to it the outpost established in Lieutenant Innes’ former dwelling, and hence called Innes’ outpost. This was a much-exposed place; its chief utility con­sisted in its flanking fire, which protected the churchyard; the church itself was filled with grain and bhoosa for the beasts, but had no garrison in it, as the ground before it left it so liable to a surprise. This was the weakest point in the whole defence, and one which caused the greatest anxiety to Brigadier Inglis. The dead were nightly buried in the churchyard, and the funeral parties were constantly fired at. On the other side of the churchyard came the bhoosa post, commanded by Captain J. F. Boileau of the 7th Native Cavalry, perhaps the most trying post in the whole garrison, for here the commissariat butchers’ operations took place; and the offal was thrown over the wall, the effluvium being terrific. Next came the garrison located in Mr. Gubbins’ house, under the command of Major Apthorpe of the 41st N.I., which had a heavy battery in the corner of the garden. Between Gubbins’ house and the brigade mess were the Sikh squares, in

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                 56

 

 

which the horses of the Sikh cavalry were kept, and which had a mixed garrison of Christian drummers, as well as of Sikhs, under the com­mand of officers relieved in weekly rotation. Then came the brigade mess, in which all the officers of the native infantry regiments, whose men had mutinied, were put together under the command of the senior officer, Colonel Masters. This was a high building, and from the roof the best rifle-shots caused considerable annoyance to the enemy. Colonel Masters was constantly hail­ing from the top, and from this practice got the name of ‘admiral.” He was a fine old fellow, and would have been probably selected by the staff to the command had anything occurred, which, thank Heaven! it did not, to Brigadier. Inglis. The true value of the brigadier’s life may be estimated by the difficulty there would have been in re­placing him; and the survivors of the eighty-seven days may indeed thank God that he was spared to us. Next in order to the brigade mess came the house in which the boys of the Martinière College were lodged. This was opposite to a house outside our entrenchments which had been the shop of one Johannes, an Armenian merchant.

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

It was flanked on both sides, and had no protec­tion but its own thick wall and low-lying position. The most dangerous outwork was the Cawnpore battery, which came next; but was so overlooked, and so exposed to the enemy’s fire, that the guns had to be withdrawn, and the battery turned into a musketry one. It was an onerous command, and the troops were relieved daily under a captain. But the principal means of defence on this side was a post, commanded by and named after Captain Anderson, 25th N.I. It was severely handled, and almost destroyed by the enemy. It was, perhaps, the most exposed post in the whole garrison, and the only one called by the name of its own commander during the siege. Mr. W.C. Capper, of the Civil Service, was the second in command of this glorious Anderson’s post. Following the line of defence came the house in which was the office of the financial commissioner. It was commanded alternately by several of the captains of the infantry regiments; near this was the native hospital. Next in order of the outside defences came the post-office gar­rison and battery, underneath which lay the small outpost called Sago’s, having been once the resi­dence

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

of a Mrs. Sago. Then came the Baillie Guard gate, the name by which the natives called our whole entrenchment. Holding this gate were the remnants of the 13th N.I., under the command of Lieutenant Aitkin; and above these, again, came the remnants of the 71st N.I., which com­pleted the circle of our defences.

 

‘In the interior were the European and native hospitals (the former situated in the banqueting-hail), Dr. Fayrer’s house, the Begum Kotee, and the Thug Gaol, in the cells of which our ladies were placed, whilst the women of the 32nd were put in the tykhana, or underground rooms of the Resi­dericy house. The force at the commencement of this memorable siege of eighty-seven days, which comprised all the real operations, entitled to be called “the Defence of Lucknow,” under the command of Brigadier Inglis, consisted of the following troops:

 

EUROPEANS.

            Artillery -                                                               -                                  -                                   -                                   -                              8o

          H.M.’s 32nd           -                                   -                                   -                                                           óoo

          H.M.’s 84th            -                                   -                                   -                                                                   50
                                                                        
730

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

 

NATIVE INFANTRY.

Sikh cavalry                             - -                                  -                                   -                    6o

7th Light Cavalry                      -                                   -                                   -                                  9

13th Native Infantry -                                                                                                     -                                                          250

 48th Native Infantry                                                                   -                                  -                                                        43
71St Native Infantry
-                                                                  -                                  -                                                  117

                                                                        479

 

Double this number of natives had remained true to their salt, and never mutinied; but it was not deemed advisable to keep them all, as they out­numbered the European portion of the garrison. Besides these trained soldiers came a large and important body of 150 volunteers, consisting of officers whose men had mutinied, clerks of the Government offices, merchants and tradesmen, all of whom had to put on cross-belts, and shoulder their muskets. They were distributed in parties with the regular troops throughout the garrison, and were most useful. Our losses at Chinhut considerably reduced our numbers. The 32nd

 

·   In Mr. Gubbins’ account of, the siege he gives the number of the garrison as 1,692, 927 Europeans and 765 natives. He says, We lost  in killed, Europeans 350, and 133 natives, and of the latter 250 deserted, making a total loss of 713.’

 

 

  6o                       THE SIEGE OF L.UCKNOW

 

 

marched out of Lucknow after the defence only 250 strong, and the other regiments suffered in proportion. Besides the fighting men there were 5oo women and children, some of whom, in spite of all our precautions, suffered from shot and shell. We mounted of guns and mortars about thirty pieces, but had not men to work them all properly. About 1,700 shells were expended during the siege. Lieutenant Bonham, of the artillery, supplied the loss of our eight-inch howitzer very ingeniously, by rigging up an eight-inch mortar on to a truck. This proved very useful for throwing shells, howitzer fashion, straight at the enemy, and was nicknamed by the soldiers “the Ship.’’

 

July 1st—Woke early, and managed to get some breakfast. John came in and told us we should soon hear heavy firing; his words were verified, and in a few minutes the cannonading and musketry firing were most terrific. We felt sure the enemy must get in, when the most terrible death awaited us. We sat trembling, hardly able to breathe, when Mrs. Case proposed reading the Litany, and came with her sister and knelt down by my bedside; the soothing

 

                             THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                 61

 

 

effect of prayer was marvellous. We felt different beings, and, though still much alarmed, could talk calmly of our danger, knowing that we were in God’s hands, and that without His will not all the fury of the enemy could hurt us. The firing soon after slackened, and we heard that the enemy had been beaten back on all sides, though they had made vigorous attempts to storm the place. Poor Miss Palmer had her leg taken off by a round shot to-day, she, with some other ladies, having remained in the second story of the Residency house, though warned that it was not safe. At night there was heavy firing, and at twelve o’clock a tremendous explosion which alarmed us much. I thought the Residency house was destroyed, but we soon heard that the Muchee Bowun fort had been evacuated by Sir H. Lawrence’s orders and blown up, and that the whole force, with their sick, prisoners, and treasure, had made their way from thence to the Residency without encountering one of the enemy. It was a splendidly-managed affair, and strengthened our garrison considerably. It ap­pears that after our losses at Chinhut it was found impossible to hold both places, and after

 

62                         THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

returning from that disastrous fight Captain Birch was asked by Major Anderson if he would ride to the fort with an order to withdraw the garrison. He said he did not believe he would ever have got there, but a happy thought struck him; he said to Major Anderson: ‘What is the use of the semaphore at the top of the Residency house if you cannot work it now?’ His advice was taken, the signal given, and the retreat effected. The explosion did not take place till the column had safely reached the Residency. Captain Birch says:

 

The suspense was awful; much of our ammunition was lost, and it seemed a pity, but it would never have done for the enemy to get it; and when all was over, we were satisfied that we had done the best we could with our weakened resources. The next day Brigadier Inglis, whose delight was intense at getting the rest of his regiment under his wing, proceeded to distribute it through the entrenchment; and here it may be well to mention how greatly the success of the defence, which depended so much on the disposition of our scanty numbers, and the vigilance of individual sentries, was owing to the

 

                             THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                63

 

 

skilful arrangements made from the first by this able tactician. The brigadier, having his own regiment under him, knew every sergeant and every soldier by name, and this personal know­ledge proved most useful on many occasions. I remember upon one occasion some of the regiment getting over a wall, and being mistaken for the enemy, when the brigadier recognised the face of one of his own men, and just in time prevented our firing. Numerous instances could be given of the immense value of his personal influence and activity, which served to prevent accidents, and to keep in harmonious working order all the diverse elements of which our garrison was com­posed. Details of H.M.’s 32nd were placed in every house. The faithful remnants of the native infantry regiments were kept together under picked officers belonging to each, and the company of the 84th was held in reserve near the brigadier’s own quarters, in the centre of the position, ready to go down to any point that was threatened. The native prisoners that we had, princes of the royal houses of Delhi and Oude, were confined in the banqueting-hall, a part of which was also used as a hospital, and their presence, as soon

 

64                            THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOJV

 

 

as it was known, saved our sick and wounded from being fired on.’

 

Thursday, 2nd.—When John came to us this morning he told us the sad news that poor Sir Henry had had his thigh broken by a shell from the howitzer we lost at Chinhut, and was not expected to live. He had just been receiving Holy Communion with him, and had wished him good-bye. We were indeed grieved, for inde­pendently of the loss he would be to our garrison, we all loved as a friend the dear old man who seemed to live only to do good. It appears that, before the shell which proved so fatal, another had been pitched into his apartment, raising a cloud of dust, and his staff had begged him to shift his quarters; but he had answered, in his cheery way, that sailors always consider the safest place in a ship to be that where the shot had last made a hole, and he did not think it likely that such another good aim would be made. But the event proved otherwise. Another shell came pitched precisely as the first, and this time the effect was fatal, and Sir Henry mortally wounded. He was carried to Dr. Fayrer’s house; the wound was in the thigh too high up to allow of amputa­

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

tion, and all that could be done was to give narcotics to ease the pain. It became necessary to provide for a successor to the chief - commissionership, and he appointed Major Banks. He had some time previously sent the following telegram to the governor-general : If anything happens to me during present disturbances, I earnestly recommend that Major Banks succeed me as chief-commissioner, and Colonel Inglis in command of the troops until better times arrive. This is no time for punctilio as regards seniority. They are the right men—in fact, the only men— for the places.’

 

Friday, 3rd.—Firing continued unceasingly. Miss Palmer died. John told us yesterday that the first relief we might expect would be in three weeks, when three Goorkha regiments might arrive. Each had been promised £1o,ooo; they were to come from Nepaul. Captain Power, 32nd, was seriously wounded to-day. -

 

Saturday, 4th.-—Poor Sir Henry died to-day, after suffering fearful pain, which he had borne nobly. He was a good man and a true Christian. Almost his last request was that Government should be urged to supply his place to the

 

5

         

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

tion, and all that could be done was to give narcotics to ease the pain. It became necessary to provide for a successor to the chief - corn­missionership, and he appointed Major Banks. He had some time previously sent the following telegram to the governor-general : If anything happens to me during present disturbances, I earnestly recommend that Major Banks succeed me as chief-commissioner, and Colonel Inglis in command of the troops until better times arrive. This is no time for punctilio as regards seniority. They are the right men—in fact, the only men— for the places.’

 

Friday, 3rd.—Firing continued unceasingly. Miss Palmer died. John told us yesterday that the first relief we might expect would be in three weeks, when three Goorkha regiments might arrive. Each had been promised £io,ooo; they were to come from Nepaul. Captain Power, 32nd, was seriously wounded to-day. -

 

Saturday, 4th.-—Poor Sir Henry died to-day, after suffering fearful pain, which he had borne nobly. He was a good man and a true Christian. Almost his last request was that Government should be urged to supply his place to the

 

66                  THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

Lawrence Asylum, which would be nearly ruined by his death. As an artillery officer, a clear­headed and most judicious generals and a most efficient civilian, thoroughly understanding the native character, and knowing how to deal with them, his loss to our garrison was irreparable. Thunder and rain at night. We heard dreadful shouting and screaming in the city ; it was fearful to think how near the wretches were to us. We afterwards learnt they had been plundering and committing the most dreadful atrocities. Their being employed in this way the first few nights of the siege doubtless saved our garrison. Though they came boldly forward and invested us on all sides, they could not resist the temptation to plunder which the defenceless city afforded; and this gave us time to settle down. Had the enemy at once charged us after Chinhut, in all proba­bility every man of our small force would have been annihilated; and had they at once assaulted our entrenchments, so great was the confusion, that the garrison would most likely have been put to the sword. The plunder of the city saved us our first night.

 

5/4 and 6th. Nothing particular occurred.

 

      

                             THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                67

 

 

Sir Henry was buried. The desire to show respect and affection for him by attending his funeral was so general, that John, thinking it in­vidious to select, forbade any but the staff to be present. It would never have done to permit the garrison to be left improperly defended, and a large crowd would also have attracted the enemy’s fire.

 

Captain Birch thus describes the state of affairs at this juncture: ‘The brigadier now took measures to render our position, in a sanitary point of view, more endurable. Fatigue parties were told off under cover of the night to bury the dead horses and bullocks that lay strewed about, and which it was impossible to approach by day­light. Many loose animals, maddened by hunger or thirst, had to be secured, or, if wounded, shot down. It was a work of some danger. Outlying commissariat stores, exposed to fire, had to be emptied. Officers and volunteers were told off for these duties, as the trained soldiers were mostly kept to their arms. The great object was to keep the men under cover in the positions they knew. The constant brigade order was to keep under cover, always to be on the alert, and never to fire a shot unless you could see your man.

 

  68                        THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

This saved a great deal of ammunition, and on occasions of attack enabled us to give the enemy a warm reception. Few, except the staff and cook-boys, really knew their way about the en­trenchments. Members of the different garrisons rarely left their posts, and then only at night. when they could not see. The cook-boys had to take the men’s dinners to the various garrisons, and many were shot. I can say what is the truth, that Brigadier Inglis and his staff in their daily and nightly rounds were more exposed than any other members of the garrison. Once by day and once by night the brigadier went his rounds. Captain Wilson, adjutant-general, went round also, and I had to go at daylight every morning to collect the reports of the casualties of the previous night, so that the garrison was always kept on the alert. Had it been otherwise, a moment’s carelessness might have been our ruin. It has been imputed, though I cannot say from what sources, that room could only be found for 10,000 men round our position, and reliefs were said to be weekly made. I do not think these numbers were exaggerated. Our position was a very straggling one, with quite room enough for

 

                              THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                69

 

 

ten regiments, and the way in which all outlets were entirely barred showed we must be well surrounded. Our spies, with one or two excep­tions, were prevented going out, and no informa­tion from outside reached us for a long time. The remainder of the mutinous troops—most of whom were Qude men—were living in free quarters in the city, or had gone on short excur­sions to their homes. They were supplemented by large numbers of the martial population of Oude matchlock men, and men armed with bows and arrows. Many of their arrows were found in the entrenchment; some had oiled wicks attached to the end, with the intention of setting fire to our grain-stacks, on which the commissariat cattle depended for food. Other unearthly weapons were used against us, amongst them huge blocks of wood, which came swinging through the air, and must have been propelled by an extemporized funnel in the earth charged with powder. The men were highly amused with them, and used to say when they saw them, ‘Here comes a barrel of beer at last.” They did not do much damage, but were very heavy, and if they alighted on the roof of a house, would make their way down

 

 

70                                     THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

through all the stories. There were two or three of the enemy who were most persistent in their attacks upon us, and who never left us for a day. ‘Two of these were nicknamed Bob the nailer” and “Jim the rifleman,” the first so called from the good shots he made. He was an officer, and had a first-rate double-barrelled rifle. It was fortunate that, just before the siege commenced, the whole of the white clothing of the troops had been dyed kharkee, or mud colour, as washermen were conspicuous by their absence. Some of the refugees from the neighbouring stations presented a most ragged appearance. One officer, whose clothes had been torn in the jungle, cut the cloth off the Residency billiard-table, and donned a suit of Lincoln green. Our ladies were many of them put to sore straits as the siege continued; they had no servants, and had to cook their own food and wash their own clothes. Firewood was scarce, owing to the principal stock, as I have said, being turned into a rampart; and I have seen ladies going out, at the risk of being shot, to pick up sticks. The palings round the Residency garden disappeared in this way. All had to undergo the hardships of bad cooking and coarse

 

                             THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                   7!

 

 

food. The boys of the Martinière College, and such servants as were left, helped to grind the corn with the hand-mills used in India for this purpose, and an officer was detailed to overlook the labour and prevent waste and peculation. Nothing was thrown away. The full rations at first starting were a pound of meat and a pound of flour per man; this was reduced to twelve ounces, then to six, and after General Havelock’s arrival to four ounces. Women got three-quarter rations, children half. Except for hospital comforts, and here and there private stores, there was little else procurable in the garrison—no bread, butter, milk, eggs, vegetables, wines, beer or tobacco. The lack of vegetables was most sorely felt, and was the cause of much illness; and the want of sugar and milk was most trying to the children, amongst whom there was a great mortality. The men took to smoking green leaves instead of tobacco, and many had to go to hospital in consequence.

 

July 7th.—A sally was made this morning by the light company 32nd and some Sikhs, under Captain Lawrence and Captain Mansfield, Mr. Green, 13th N.I., and Mr. Studdy, the latter leading the sortie. The object was to search a

 

72                                      THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

house outside our position, called Johannes House, where the enemy was supposed to be mining. A hole was made in the wall large enough to admit of one man getting out at a time, and we kept up heavy cannonading during the  process to hide the sound and to divert the enemy’s attention. The party started at twelve o’clock, after the men had had some dinner, and John had said a few words to them. I felt very sad as they passed through our courtyard, for I thought perhaps few would return. However, in a quarter of an hour, or less, their work was done. They rushed into Johannes House. Ensign Studdy being the first to go through the wall, bayoneted some thirty men they found there, and then, reckless as soldiers are, were running down the Cawnpore road, when John called them back. We had one Sikh and one 32nd man slightly wounded, and poor Cuney, of the band, severely so in two places. He was a fine fellow, and had once before made a sortie on his own account and spiked a gun. He sat down on our doorstep, and John gave him some brandy and praised him for his bravery. Captain Lawrence had one of the legs of his trousers blown to

 

                             THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                 73

 

 

pieces, but was not touched. This little affair raised all our spirits, as it had been so thoroughly successful, and showed what we could do. As we were at dinner this evening an officer was carried by on a litter, and on inquiry we heard it was Major Francis, of the 13th N.I., who had just had both his legs nearly taken off by a round shot, when sitting on a chair at the top of the brigade mess-house. Death ensued very shortly.

 

84th.—Mr. Polehampton, one of our chaplains, was shot through the body to-day whilst shaving himself in the hospital; the wound was at first thought to be dangerous, but no vital part was touched. His wife, Mrs. Gall and Mrs. Barber, both widows, lived in the hospital at this time, and attended to the sick and wounded. I quite envied them for being able to do some good. Rain fell heavily this morning. At one p.m. there was severe firing, and a piece of a shell fell close to our khansamah whilst he was cook­ing his dinner; it did not seem to alarm him much. He was with John all through the siege of Mooltan, and used to take him his dinner to the trenches, quite regardless of all the balls flying about. We found him invaluable—indeed, all

 

74                  THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

our servants behaved well. My poor ayah’s husband and child were outside, which made her very miserable. By this time we had settled down into a pretty regular life. John breakfasted and dined with us every day, and managed to read the psalms and prayers with us in the morn­ing, which was a great comfort, and prepared us for each day’s trials; but beyond this I saw very little of him, unless the firing was particularly heavy, when he would just look in after it was over to show he was all right. A number of horses were turned out to-day, as we had not food for them; four of ours were amongst the number. My bill pony, called Ducrow, a curiously marked animal, was on the point of being ousted, when a Sikh saw him, and took such a fancy to him that he begged to exchange him for one of his own horses.

July 19th.—Heavy firing this morning. Num­berless reports that the enemy were mining, which seemed more terrible than anything else.

 

11th.—Fewer casualties than usual to-day. John was led to believe last night that the enemy intended making an attack, and every man was ready at his post, but nothing occurred. The soldiers all slept in their trenches at night.

 

                             THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW                                 75

 

 

Sunday,12th.—Very heavy firing last night. John read the morning service to us.

 

13th Mr. Charlton, 32nd, was badly wounded to-day : it was feared mortally, as the ball lodged in the back of his head. He had only just joined, and was quite young. He ultimately recovered. Very heavy rain in the evening, filling the trenches, and adding very much to the suffering and dis­comfort of the poor men, many of whom had no change of clothing.

 

14th.—There was again an idea this morning that the enemy intended making an attack, and all the fighting men in our courtyard turned out; but it proved another false alarm. As we were sitting outside our door in the evening, a young officer ran past, and advised us to go inside, as the balls were flying about; and soon afterwards John came down with some men dragging tents along, and we heard they were to fill up a breach that had just been made in the wall behind the brigade mess-house, where the ladies lived. A 32nd man was carried by, who had had his leg taken off by a round shot.

 

15th.—Dr. Scott, 32nd, came to see us. He had been very ill. The meeting between him

 

76                         THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

and Mrs. Case was a very painful one, as he had not seen her since her husband’s death, and they had been great friends. I talked to him for some time, and consulted him about baby, who was looking thin and weak.

 

16th.—When John came this morning he told us that his soldier servant, Vokins, had lost his leg. He was standing in the portico of the Resi­dency house, which was considered a safe spot, when a round shell hit him. Amputation was considered necessary. He was too weak for chloroform, and he asked John to hold him while the operation was being performed, of course he complied with his request. This was Johnny’s fourth birthday, a sad one to us all. I thought much of the 32nd children, who used to have a dinner and dance on this day, and wondered what their condition was, for I could never believe the report of the Nana’s treachery, and little did I dream that on this very day the last scene in this dreadful tragedy was being enacted, and these children with their mothers were being murdered in cold blood. We managed to get some toys for Johnny from a merchant inside. John had a most providential escape to-day; he left his little

 

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room in the Residency house rather earlier than usual, and soon after a round shot came through the door and passed over his bed. Had he been in his room, he could hardly have been untouched. He had told us only the day before that he believed the enemy had discovered his where­abouts, and I had begged him to change his quarters. He now decided to do so. Mrs. Case was very unwell this evening. Very heavy firing at night.

17th.—Mrs. Case still very ill. Dr. Scott said she was suffering from suppressed grief; she had exerted herself so much after hearing of her husband being killed, and nature could not be resisted any longer. Captain Mansfield, 32nd, came to see us. I paid Mrs. Cowper a visit in the evening; it was the first time I had seen her since I had the small-pox. She was living in a wretchedly small room, with her nurse and two children, in the court next to us. In order not to disturb Mrs. Case, we dined in a large sort of barn at the end of our yard, where our boxes were stowed away and our goats lived. She took a composing draught at night, but just as it was beginning to take effect fearful firing corn-

 

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menced, and awoke her. I sat on her bed for some time holding her hand, and trying to reassure her, at the same time I was myself trembling with fright. The firing soon ceased, but the alarm had done her so much harm that she nearly sank from weakness. It was an anxious night. The enemy generally made more noise at night than at other times, I suppose to harass us; but John ordered the men to lie quiet in the trenches, and not to return the firing, and there were seldom many casualties on these occasions.

 

18th ---tolerably quiet day, heavy firing for a short time at night. Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill, Civil Service, came to see us. In the middle of the day John told us that the dead body of a man was lying outside the Residency gate, and he fancied it must be a messenger, who had been shot trying to get to us. When it got dusk he, Captain Wilson, and Captain Birch, with eight soldiers, managed to drag the body in; it was that of a woman, and she had no letter or paper of any kind about her.

 

Sunday,19th.—Mr. Arthur, 7th Cavalry, was killed to-day at the Cawnpore battery. Mr. Harmer, 32nd, had his leg fractured by the splint

 

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of a table struck by a round shot, which came into the mess-room whilst the officers were at breakfast. I was much shocked this morning at hearing from John that Mr. Polehampton the chaplain had been attacked with cholera; he had only just recovered from his wound. I felt very down to-day. John’s old room was set on fire last night by the explosion of a carcase.

I now turn to Captain Birch’s narrative of out­side events. He says

 

‘Things had fairly settled down the first week after Brigadier Inglis assumed command. Rains had commenced, but the heat at intervals was very excessive. Commissariat returns were lessened every third day, so as to eke out our resources to the utmost. The enemy’s fire never ceased, night nor day, and the casualties were frequent. The bad smells from imperfectly buried bodies was horrible; the want of change of diet was beginning to be felt, and in addition to other diseases cholera, small-pox, and especially scurvy, began to be fearfully prevalent. We lost several fine fellows from these diseases, who had escaped the enemy’s fire. Scurvy took the form of loose teeth, swollen heads, and boils, and gained the

 

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name of ‘garrison disease.’ Men began to pull long faces at the absence of all news from with­out, or prospect of relief, and several suicides occurred. There was no possibility of our moving out ourselves, encumbered as we were with so many women and children, besides the sick and wounded. We kept fifty horses besides those belonging to a couple of field-guns, in case it might be possible to create a diversion by sortie in favour of a relieving force. But there appeared to be little chance of using them, surrounded as we were by narrow streets and brick buildings, except on the side of the river. There was nothing for it, therefore, but to keep good heart, and to husband our resources, both in ammunition and provisions. On the whole, the garrison kept up their spirits well. Whilst the drinkables lasted there was possibly some boasting and vapouring begotten of Dutch courage, and some stores of liquor in European shops, which had escaped notice and were got at by the soldiers, caused some drunkenness; but the supplies were soon exhausted, and with reduced diet and plain water, which was abundant and good, the conduct of the men became exemplary. The instances of

 

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cowardice and shirking were very few, those of fortitude, courage, and brave, endurance very many. As an example of brilliant courage, which to my mind made him one of the heroes of the siege, I must instance Private Cuney, H.M. 32nd. His exploits were marvellous; he was backed by a Sepoy named Kandial, who simply adored him. Single-handed and without any orders, Cuney would go outside our position, and he knew more of the enemy’s movements than anyone else. It was impossible to be really angry with him. Over and over again he was put into the guard-room for disobedience of orders, and as often let out when there was fighting to be done. On one occasion he surprised one of the enemy’s batteries, into which he crawled, followed by his faithful Sepoy, bayoneting four men and spiking the guns. If ever there was a man deserving the V.C. it was Cuney. He seemed to bear a charmed life. He was often wounded, and several times left his bed to volunteer for a sortie. He loved fighting for its own sake. After sur­viving all the perils of the siege, he was at last killed in a sortie made after General Havelock’s arrival. The casualties amongst the artillery,

 

6

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owing to the exposed position of our batteries, were very numerous. Every officer was either killed or wounded, and to supply their places several officers of the native infantry, whose men had mutinied, some civil engineers, and some gentlemen of independent means, who had come to visit the country, were trained in artillery drill, and so proficient did they become, that each in turn came to be entrusted with a command. Two or three—Lieutenant Ward, Mr. Macrae, Mr. Lucas, and Mr. Cameron—especially distinguished themselves. The first two were skilled in throw­ing shells, a difficult task, as, the enemy being so close to us, it required great care to prevent the shell exploding in our own lines. Bits constantly came singing back to us. The enemy’s artillery practice was very good. The peculiarities of our position rendered us very liable to be undermined on every side. The enemy had skilled sappers and miners, and the mines we discovered during the siege were beautifully constructed, though they often lost the direction underground. Every sortie that was made against us was preceded by the explosion of a mine, and the garrison was con­stantly employed in countermining. Around each

 

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salient point a defensive underground passage was constructed, into which a sentry had periodically to crawl and listen for the approach of the enemy’s workmen; it then became a question of judgment and skill where to explode our own mine, so as to destroy the enemy’s gallery, and bury the unfortunate pioneers. In fact, all through the siege there was going on an underground cam­paign, in which we did not always get the best of it.’

 

July 20th.—Early this morning all were on the alert, as the officer on the look-out tower of the Residency house reported that the enemy was moving in large masses, and was evidently assembling for a vigorous attack. Every man was at his post. However, we went to breakfast, and John sat down with us, receiving constant reports of the movements of the enemy. Sud­denly we heard a sound that had never greeted our ears before, like a gun being fired off under our feet. John immediately rushed out, knowing it was the explosion of a mine. That was the signal for an attack, and fierce musketry firing commenced on both sides. The noise was terrific, and that of heavy cannonading and whizzing

 

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shells was soon added. The enemy were com­pletely repulsed with great loss. They advanced very bravely at first. Captain Birch says that the mine exploded in the direction of the Redan battery, leaving an enormous crater. Innes’ house bore the brunt of the attack, and gallantly repulsed it under Mr. Loughman, 13th N.I. On the opposite side of our position an attack was also made on the Cawnpore battery. The enemy advanced boldly, and left a scaling-ladder inside the ditch; but their hearts failed them, and the hand grenades with which they were saluted quickly drove them away. Our casualties were slight, four men killed and twelve wounded, Mr. Grant, Mr. Hely, 7th Cavalry, and Mr. Edmon­stone, 32nd, wounded. This attack and its com­plete repulse raised all our spirits, and gave us confidence that with God’s help we should be able to hold out till succour arrived. It was the severest assault the enemy had yet made, and John said the bullets fell like hail. He was, of course, exposed to great danger whilst it lasted, and great was my thankfulness when I heard he was uninjured. I was speaking to a 32nd man to-day, and saying how foolish it was of the men

 

THE SIEGE OF LUCKNOW

 

 

to expose themselves as they did, when there were the trenches to protect them. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but it’s not in the way of Englishmen to fight behind walls.’ It was the case throughout the siege, that there were more casualties on a quiet day than when there was heavy firing, as the men used to get careless and forget their danger. Poor Mr. Polehampton died to-day during the attack. All grieved much for him and his poor young widow.

John issued the following order to the troops after the day’s fighting: ‘The brigadier com­manding congratulates the force on the deter­mined manner in which the attack made on the position was repulsed. When all behaved well, it is invidious to draw comparisons; but the manner in which the garrison outposts drove back the enemy is worthy of the highest com­mendation.’

 

In speaking of the state of our defences at this time, Captain Birch says:

‘The chief engineer officer, Major Anderson, had been unable, owing to illness, to leave his bed since the siege commenced. Captain Fulton, the next senior, therefore, took his place, and was

 

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the brigadier’s right hand—he was indefatigable. Under his direction a regular network of defensive mines was constructed. The 32nd, being a Cornish regiment, had some good miners in it. One man especially, Day by name, was most skilled.’

 

21st.—Major Banks was killed to-day on the top of Mr. Gubbins’ house; he was exposing himself too much, being a gallant soldier, arid forgetting how much more valuable his head was than his hands. Yesterday, during the attack, he was going about carrying shot and shell. John wrote to him a strong letter on the subject, reminding him how valuable his life was, and of the loss he would be were he to be killed or dis­abled. He was an excellent man, zealous, active, and clear-headed, and his death at this particular time was most deeply felt. John now declared military authority to be paramount, and took upon himself the chief command, the commissionership not being filled up. Mrs. Dorm was killed to­day at the Gubbinses’ house; she was helping to carry some things upstairs, when a very small bullet struck her in the forehead and went through her head, causing instantaneous death. She had

 

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fled from Seetapore after seeing her husband killed, and had, as I mentioned before, lived for some days in the jungle, protected by the villagers, and after­wards managed to get into the Residency. Dr. Brydon, the survivor of the Cabul massacre, was also badly wounded in the back whilst sitting at dinner in the same house.

 

22nd.—A sally was made by us to-day, and one of the enemy’s houses burnt. John accompanied the party. A poor 32nd man was accidentally killed by a shot from one of our own people, who could not distinguish him in the darkness, he having ventured some distance from his party. On the 32nd, commanded by Major Lowe, de­volved the principal share of the defence, and the regiment suffered severely. Up to this date they had had 150 casualties.

 

23rd—A quiet day, comparatively speaking. When the enemy fired little, we always imagined they were mining, and this was indeed usually the case. Miss Dickson, who had been feeling un­well for some days, was pronounced to have small-pox in a mild form. I was very anxious lest Mrs. Case should catch it, knowing how weak she was. Mrs. Thomas had lately died of the

 

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disease, which was very prevalent, as also cholera; but neither, providentially, ever assumed the form of an epidemic. This evening I was standing outside the door with baby in my arms, talking to the ayah, when I felt something whiz past my ears. I rushed inside, and when my alarm had subsided, ventured out again to dis­cover what it was. I found a large piece of shell embedded about ten inches deep in the earth. It had fallen on the spot where I had been standing. It was a fragment from one of our own shells, which often recoiled and fell inside our entrench­ments.

 

24th.—Heavy rain last night. John was roused by a false report that 400 men were inside the entrenchments; he got little rest, and I daily feared he would break down; but his cheerful, hopeful spirits never deserted him. I paid Mrs. Cowper a visit in the evening: she was very sad and desponding, and I did my best to cheer her. She was confined to her bed—most trying at such a time, when active employment was the only means to keep one’s mind at rest and to prevent one’s brooding over our position. I found the children my greatest comfort, as with them to

 

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amuse and look after I never had an idle moment. Up to this time they had kept pretty well. We had plenty of work to do, and occasionally I read aloud; but we found it almost impossible to fix our minds on anything beyond the entrenchments, and eventually gave up the attempt.

 

25th.—A sad event occurred to one of the inhabitants of our yard to-day. An old man named Need, who had been in the King of Oude’s army, was picking up some stacks for firewood near the Residency house, when he was shot through the heart. His wife, who lives close to us and has several children, came to us in great grief. We gave her a few things for her husband, who had been carried to the hospital, but could not, she knew, live long. At twelve o’clock at night Mr. Cowper came to our door and told us the good news that a letter had been received from Colonel Tytler, quartermaster­general, announcing that a force sufficient to destroy any number of the enemy was on this side Cawnpore, under General Havelock, and expected to arrive in five days. With regard to this news, Captain Birch says:

 

‘It is curious that until the successful repulse

 

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of the attack of July 20 no news from the outside reached us, but afterwards, and probably in consequence of our success, we were gratified by the return of one of our spies, a pensioner, who informed us that a British force was at Cawnpore, and that there had been several successful fights with the Nana. This news, and the letter from the quartermaster - general, raised our spirits greatly. We sent by the same messenger a plan of our entrenchments, and the brigadier promised  5,000 rupees for every trip he made; he made three, and this in addition to the promotion he received gave him a nice little fortune for a native. Many others went out, but never re­turned. The service was a most difficult and dangerous one. I attribute the failure of so many of our messengers to the fact that many members of the garrison could not resist the temptation of communicating with anxious friends and relations, and entrusted notes to our spies, which they bribed them to carry. The practice became so prevalent that the brigadier was obliged to put a stop to it. Orders were given at the outposts to bring in any spy direct to him without any communication with anyone else, and it fell

 

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to my duty as aide-de-camp to escort the messenger back again to our furthest outpost, and see him depart without any other burden than the brigadier’s own letter; this was usually written on a very small piece of paper in Greek characters, put into a piece of quill which was sealed at both ends. Ungud had various methods of concealing  it. The first letter he took out was written on the 22nd of this month, and was as follows:

 

“‘Lucknow, July 22nd.

 

‘“Mv DEAR SIR,

 

It is with deep regret that I have to announce to you the death of Major Banks, chief commissioner, who was killed yesterday. I now write to inform you that the enemy have pushed on up to some of the walls of our defences, and keep up a perpetual musketry fire day and night from loopholes. As yet their artillery have not done us much mischief. On the 20th the enemy appeared in force on all sides, and blew up a mine in the vicinity of our batteries facing the river, and made an attempt to storm our position, but were repulsed with great loss. Our casualties were few, considering the heavy firing we were exposed to for three hours. Since the commence-

 

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ment of operations on the 3oth ult. there have been 151 casualties in the 32nd foot, including several officers, and there are from 70 to 8o in hospital. The present strength of the regiment’s fighting-men is 380 32nd, and H.M.’s 84th detach­ment numbers 36 men. We are most anxiously looking for succour, and I trust you will lose no time in pushing on to assist us. I am most desirous to hear from you. We have not had any news from any quarter since the 27th ult. Aid is what we want, and that quickly. Our defences are straggling, and our numerical strength quite inadequate to man them. Our artillery is weak, and the casualties heavy.

 

‘(Signed) “J. INGLIS, Brigadier.

 

‘“To the officer commanding the  relieving force.”

 

 

‘The answer received on the 25th from Lieut.­Colonel B. Fraser Tytler, assistant quartermaster general to General Havelock’s force:

 

 

‘“Mv DEAR SIR,

“Your letter of the 22nd has reached us. We have two-thirds of our force across the river,

 

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and eight guns in position already. The rest will follow immediately. I send over more news to-night or to-morrow. We have ample force to destroy all who oppose us. Send us a sketch of your position in the city, and any directions for entering it or turning it that may strike you. In five or six days we shall meet. You must threaten the rear of the enemy if they come out, and we will smash them.

 

‘“Yours truly,

 

‘“B. FRASER TYTLER.

 

‘“P.S.—We have smashed the Nana, who has disappeared and destroyed his place Bithoor. No one knows where his army has dispersed to, but it has vanished.”

 

 

‘To this letter Ungud took out the following answer:

 

 

‘“Mv DEAR SIR,

 

‘“At Busharat Gunge there are about 1,000 matchlock men, and about as many more at Nawab Gunge. It is said that the 3rd Oude Irregular Infantry left this to oppose you. on the night of the 24th, and was followed yesterday

 

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by the 22nd Native Infantry. The bridge at Bunnee is believed to be entire, but being a good defensible position, it is likely that the enemy will oppose you there. There is another bridge, however, at Mohan, about eight miles further up, though the road is indifferent. The bearer, though, will give you later information of the state of the road, and the force on it. I send you a plan of the town and our position, and a memo by the engineer. The distance from the entrance to the city to our position is about a mile and a half. We can assist you by shelling your flanks for the last 1,500 yards or more. In the event, however, of the enemy disputing your entrance, you might endeavour to work round his left flank by diverging to the right towards the Dil Koosha Park, and making your entrance by the European barracks. The road, however, will be very difficult and heavy for guns, and likewise lined with houses. I would suggest the direct route. If you have rockets with you, send up two or three at 8 p.m. on the night before you intend entering the city, by way of warning to us, at which signal we will begin shelling the houses on both sides of the road. Ignorant of the

 

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strength of your force and of its formation, I can only offer these suggestions with the assurance that the utmost that our weak and harassed garrison is capable of shall be done to cause a diversion in your favour as soon as you are sufficiently near. Should the bridge at the entrance of the town be broken down, there is another on the side of the Dil Koosha Park. It is a good mile and a half from the first-mentioned bridge to our position.

 

‘(Signed) “J. INGLIS, Brigadier.

 

‘“To officer commanding relief force.”’

 

 

Sunday, 26th.—Mr. Lewin, of the artillery, was shot dead at the Cawnpore Battery to-day. He left a young widow; their only little girl, one of the prettiest children I have ever seen, had died from cholera at the commencement of the siege. At six p.m. there was service at the brigade mess-room, read by Mr. Harris. At night there was an alarm, and fearfully heavy firing, preceded by shouting, and for an instant I really thought the enemy was inside. Again prayer was our support, and when the firing ceased John came to show himself and report

 

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that all was well. The intense and constant anxiety on his account was very trying. Our faithful servant, Curruk, was a great comfort to us; he was quite indignant if we appeared frightened, and would not allow that there was any danger of the enemy getting in. I am sure he kept all the other servants together, and in good spirits.

 

Captain Birch says: ‘The vigilance of the enemy had at this time a little relaxed, though they still surrounded us in great numbers. We managed to make several sorties to examine their ground. I was engaged in one in command of the Sikhs of my regiment. We cut a large hole in the wall of Mr. Gubbins’ garden, and rushed out into the houses opposite to us; we were thankful to find no traces of mining, and only lost one man. A laughable incident occurred on one of these sorties. One of my Sikhs, Alla Singh, a man of great muscular strength but small heart, hid himself when we started, and on our return dropped down from the wall amongst the party, hoping to escape notice; he was discovered, and his cowardice lost him his promotion. One day we entered a fresh earthwork about forty yards

 

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outside the Redan battery. Lieutenant George Hutchinson, of the engineers, gave it as his opinion that it was merely a covered way to enable the enemy to pass to and fro at a corner much exposed to our fire. Sam Lawrence, of the 32nd, commanding at the Redan, who was always cheery and jolly, assured the brigadier that he and his men expected very shortly to be up amongst the little birds, as he was convinced it was a mine. George Hutchinson maintained his opinion, on which the brigadier acted, and would not allow of a sortie. At night Lieutenant Hutchinson determined to verify his opinion, and stole out under cover of the darkness; he asked me to accompany him, and we certainly went round a very ticklish corner. Hutchinson was right; it was only a covered way or trench. Such were some of our adventures during the siege; but they were only the divertissements, few and far between, varying a little the long periods of patient resistance and continual wearying daily toil. The heavy rains that had fallen washed away a good many of our defences, and also broke in the roofs of a couple of mines, which the enemy had laid. This was a very important dis

 

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covery. We had been sure from the sounds heard, and this exposure verified it, that the enemy were undermining us from several direc­tions, especially about the Sikh square, which lay between the brigade mess and Mr. Gubbins’ house. Our mines were worked so as to meet theirs, and we succeeded on several occasions in breaking into their gallery, which we made use of. We were, however, much annoyed by the proximity of the houses, which made these mines possible. After the appointment of Captain Fulton as garrison engineer, several sorties on a small  scale were made to blow up these houses. As soon as one was cleared, Captain Fulton appeared on the scene accompanied by a muscular Sikh, Hookum Singh, who could carry a barrel of powder on his back. On several occasions I and my Sikhs formed his escort. The powder was laid near the columns and corners of the building; this had to be judiciously done, or we might have brought down our own defences; but Captain Fulton was a superb engineer, and no accident of this kind ever occurred. As soon as the train was laid the order was given to “withdraw the escort.’ I generally sent it away with the native

 

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officer, leaving only sentries to warn us of a rush of the enemy. Then came the second order, “Withdraw the sentries,” and with them I used to rush in, leaving Captain Fulton all alone in the enemys country to fire the train. He returned at full speed, and simultaneously came the blow up. I never knew him fail.’

 

July 27th.—When John came to us this morn­ing he made us very sad by telling us that Captain Shepherd, 7th Light Cavalry, had been killed by mistake last night by a shot from our own gar­rison; he was a very fine young officer, and had been for some time attached to the 32nd. It seemed a hard fate. I paid Mrs. Cowper a long visit in the evening. I went to see her often, as, being of a hopeful nature, I generally succeeded in raising her spirits a little. From her I heard that the enemy were mining under the room where most of the ladies lived. Mrs. Bird had first discovered it, and called her husband to listen to the sound. The old man in our court, Mr. Need, died to-day of his wounds; and one of his children, a boy belonging to the Martinière College, was seized with cholera, but recovered. These boys, under the care of their principal,