Imágenes de páginas

10th of May-that memorable Sunday, which saw many a home at Meerut blood-stained and desolatethe whole cantonment of Umballa was thrown into a state of alarm. Both the native infantry regiments, the 5th and 60th,* had turned out without orders, and stood to their arms. General Barnard hastened to their lines, and found them in open mutiny; some of the 5th Native Infantry actually loaded and pointed their muskets at their officers. The General was at once for calling down the artillery; but fortunately extreme measures were not necessary; the Sepoys were gradually quieted by their own officers, and peace restored. Simultaneously with this movement in cantonments, the guard of the 5th Native Infantry over the Civil Treasury, some four miles off, also turned out, and stood to their arms without orders, unmistakably betraying a preconcerted plan.

It was on the afternoon of the following day (Monday the 11th) that the direful tidings came from Delhi: "The Sepoys have come in from Meerut, and are burning everything. Mr Todd † is dead, and, we hear, several Europeans. We must shut up." Captain Barnard, the General's A.D.C., was at once despatched to Simla to inform the Commander-in-Chief, and to urge on him, and also on Mr Barnes, to hasten down. On passing through Kussowlie, he warned the 75th to be ready to march at a moment's notice. Most unfortunately, the telegraphic message was not fully credited at headquarters. The first suspicions of smouldering mutiny, when reported, were pronounced mysterious and exaggerated; and now that the worst suspicions were more than realised, and the fanatic rebels had thrown

off the masque, the unwelcome announcement, which so rudely dispelled the dream of fancied peace and security, was not to be believed, and accordingly little was done at headquarters to meet the emergency. It was deemed sufficient to order down 250 men of her Majesty's 75th.

Mr Forsyth, however, acted with great energy to guard the treasure, and to maintain the safety of the civil lines, and the town of Umballa, was his first care. One hundred of the Sikh Police Battalion were placed on picket duty day and night; 200 more were ordered to be under arms in readiness for any emergency. A party of Civil Sowars were despatched to watch the Kurnal road.‡

The telegraphic message of the fate of Delhi, sent up to the Chief Commissioner, had brought back, on the morning of the 13th, the answer already mentioned, that the European troops on the hills should be at once brought down, and concentrated at Umballa, and the native chiefs of Puttiala, Jheend, and Kurnal, should be immediately called on to give assistance. To the Puttiala Rajah, Mr Forsyth sent off, that afternoon, a request that he would come as near as possible to Umballa, on the confines of his own territory, that Mr Barnes might communicate with him immediately on his arrival from Kussowlie. The Rajah at once responded, hastening to Karna, eight miles from Umballa, where he was encamped within eighteen hours of Mr Forsyth's letter being despatched; and there, under orders received in the meanwhile from Sir John Lawrence, Mr Forsyth proceeded to an interview.

The Rajah had only an escort of about 1000 men, foot and horse; but he was quite ready to respond to any

The 4th Native Cavalry (Lancers) are also said to have saddled their horses without orders, as if ready to join, but this is incorrect. Colonel Clayton, directly he heard what was taking place, galloped down to the lines, and gave the orders to saddle and mount; they obeyed to a man; but order being restored without any violent measures, they were not moved off their own parade-ground. Had they been put to the test, their subsequent conduct leads to the belief that they would have proved stanch.

+ Mr Todd was superintendent of the telegraph office at Delhi. He had gone out very early in the morning along the road to see where the wire was broken, and is said to have been the first victim of the Meerut troopers.

A messenger was also sent to Captain M'Neile at Thaneysur, to apprise him of the outbreak, and put him on his guard.

call that the Government might make on his service. The scantiness of his retinue he accounted for by stating that the main body of his troops were scattered about collecting the revenue; and, moreover, hinting a mistrust of his men, he requested to be allowed to accompany them in person, and asked also for some European officers. A short quarter of an hour's conference sufficed for all arrangements, and the Rajah struck his camp and started for Thaneysur, with a view to garrison it. It being subsequently decided that the safety of the Kurnal road, and the reopening communication with Meerut, were of paramount importance, the Rajah was requested to change his route, and to occupy Kurnal, while the Jheend Rajah was applied to to protect Thaney


When it became known at Umballa that at headquarters due importance was not attached to the rumours of the outbreak, Mr Plowden, the assistant commissioner, was despatched to Kussowlie and Simla, to urge the instant advance of troops, carrying with him, in melancholy confirmation of the tidings from Delhi, a letter from one of the fugitives. By daylight on Thursday morning, Mr Barnes arrived, and, in full appreciation of the reality of the crisis, prepared to act with calm energy and promptness. When the nature and extent of the mutiny began to dawn on the mind of the Commander-inChief in all its awful reality, he acted with some vigour. Of her Majesty's 75th, warned on the previous night by Captain Barnard, 250 men had been at first ordered down, but this was now followed by a subsequent order for the whole regiment to march at once; and the 1st and 2d Fusiliers from Dugshai and Subathoo were to follow with all despatch. The following general order

was also issued, dated May 14th, Simla :

"The Commander-in-Chief desires that officers commanding native regiments will instantly inform their men that it has never been intended that any cartridges which can be objected to should be used by them, and that they may rely upon the Commander-in-Chief's assurance that they will not be required to use objectionable cartridges now or hereafter. "(True extract).

[ocr errors]

"C. CHESTER, Colonel, 'Adjutant-General of the Army."

A telegraphic message was also sent to Phillour, ordering a siege-train (3d class) to be prepared and sent off without delay. To guard against any accident or injury to the wire, Captain Worthington of the Artillery, at that time on sick leave at Simla, started off express to carry the order to Phillour. The Nusseeree battalion of Goorkhas received orders to march from Jutogh, adjoining Simla, to Phillour, to escort the siege-train, and the Commander-in-Chief hastened down, followed by Colonels Chester and Becher, of the Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General's department. Now the note of preparation was sounded far and wide. The 75th marched into Umballa on the 15th, and the Company's two European regiments on the 16th and 17th.t

The state of Umballa itself demands notice. The 5th Native Infantry were believed to be the most seriously disaffected of the native corps, and in order to neutralise their designs in some measure, they were cut up into small detachments. Two companies were sent off on the 16th, with a squadron of the 4th Native Cavalry (Lancers), under Captain Wylde, under the pretext of strengthening Mr Spankey's position at Saharunpore; two more companies

The course which the Nawab of Kurnal would adopt was at first thought doubtful. His after career has proved his fidelity, of which due mention will be made.

Major Jacob of the 1st Fusiliers chanced to be at Simla that afternoon. He rode down during the night to Dugshai, and at the morning parade gave orders that all should be ready to march that afternoon at 3 o'clock.

The 2d Fusiliers received their orders at Subathoo at 10 A.M. in the morning, and also started that afternoon. Both corps made the distance, some seventy miles, in three marches.

to Roopur, with the ostensible object of watching Nalagurh and Ballachore, where it was believed that the population were somewhat disaffected. This latter detachment, however, instead of being withdrawn from danger, was thrown into the midst of contamination; their position at Roopur was fatal to them. Here lived a man named Mohur-Singh, a Sikh Sirdar, who had once been Kardar (native magistrate and collector) of Roopur, but had been removed from his post by Government for divers malpractices. No sooner did the detachment of the 5th Native Infantry arrive at Roopur than this man began to tamper with them, and they needed but little encouragement. His influence soon showed itself. Captain Gardner,* the officer commanding them, was openly insulted; and when, on reporting their mutinous state, he received orders to arrest the malcontent Sirdar, and send him into Umballa for trial, the Sepoys refused to seize him, and swore that he should never be taken a prisoner. A body of Sikh police, however, were sent out, strong enough


overawe them, and to master him. He was brought in, tried by Mr Barnes, and hanged. The two companies were recalled, and on arriving at Umballa were disarmed.†

With the 60th Native Infantry, who were believed to be less mutinously disposed, another system was adopted. Colonel T. Seaton, C.B., of the 35th Native Infantry, who was on leave at Simla, was selected, from his great experience and tact, to take command of the corps, with the hope that he would be able to keep them stanch; and with a view of showing confidence in them, the Commander-in-Chief, the day after his arrival at Umballa, allowed them to be re-sworn to their colours, thus effacing the remembrance of their

doings on the 10th of May; but this, as will be seen, was a very shortlived loyalty.

Of the 4th Native Cavalry (Lancers) a more detailed mention should be made, as their conduct, though surrounded by traitors, and sorely tried on several occasions from being distrusted, is deserving of great praise. On the evening of the 12th of May, when the tidings of the outbreak at Meerut at first arrived, one squadron was detached under Captain Dumbleton to bring in the treasure from Thaneysur, which was under guard of a company of the 5th Native Infantry. This squadron made the distance, above twenty miles, in one march without a halt; but on arriving found that the suspicions of their trustworthiness had preceded them. Captain M'Neile, in civil charge of Thaneysur, refused to give up the treasure to them, and ordered them back to Umballa. A small party, however, consisting of a havildar and twelve troopers, remained, and, conjointly with the guard of the 5th Native Infantry, escorted the treasure towards Umballa. Scarcely had they got half-way, when suspicion again met them. The Umballa authorities, mistrusting both native cavalry and infantry, had sent out a small detachment of Sikh police to take the treasure from them. The troopers and Sepoys refused to be so ignominiously relieved of their charge, and halted, forming round the treasure till further instructions. order then came that the men of the 4th Cavalry and 5th Native Infantry should retain charge; and they brought it safely into cantonments. In other quarters, small parties of this corps were also proving their fidelity: forty troopers under Captain Russell were sent out towards Phillour, to receive charge of a large quantity of ammunition ordered in from the


Captain Gardner, of the 38th Native Infantry, had escaped from Delhi, and was attached to the 5th Native Infantry.

On the 1st of June, the two Subahdars and Pay Havildars were tried by courtmartial, and condemned to be hanged. One Pay Havildar contrived to escape, but the other three were made examples of.

The disclosures of the Sikh Sepoy implicated this corps in the general conspiracy to rise, and consequently drew suspicion on them, which their previous general behaviour had not deserved, and their subsequent conduct refuted.

magazine, which was being escorted by some of the 3d Native Infantry and a few of the Nabba Rajah's men. This duty they performed with equal fidelity. Also, when the European corps were ordered down from the hills, the tents and commissariat stores for their use were sent out to the camping-grounds under a guard of troopers of the 4th Cavalry. These men were reported by the Europeans to have behaved admirably, and to have rendered every assistance in their power. Other acts will be spoken of hereafter; but here are three, in which, within the first week after the Meerut and Delhi massacres, while the excitement of the native mind was at its height-three separate detachments of this corps received charge respectively of treasure, ammunition, and stores, destined for the use of European troops against their Poorbeah brethren, and performed their duty readily and faithfully.

It must nevertheless be admitted that this corps was not without its traitors, though happily, as it would appear, too few in number to affect the tone of the whole regiment, or too eager for the fray to wait for the remainder, even should they become disposed to join.*

While this was passing at Umballa, preparations were being made at Phillour to give full effect to the advance, when finally resolved on by the Commander-in-Chief.

The telegraphic message for the siege-train had reached Phillour on the morning of the 17th, and within four days, by dint of unceasing labour day and night, all was ready. In the meanwhile a couple of lakhs of smallarm ammunition were at once despatched in advance, for the use of the European troops now concentrating at Umballa, under a guard from the 3d Native Infantry, who were relieved midway by some of the 4th Cavalry.

The siege-train consisted of six 18-pounders, four 8-inch howitzers, twelve 5-inch mortars, five 9-pounder brass guns, one 24-pounder brass howitzer, and four 8-inch mortars,

with 500 rounds for each gun, together with 100 extra rounds for every light field-piece already with the force, or under orders to join it. Besides this, there were also to be sent down under the same escort ten lakhs of small-arm balled ammunition for the infantry, with eighteen lakhs of percussion-caps, and about 3000 rounds of shot and shell for the field-batteries.

Exciting, indeed, were the duties in the magazine during those four days. The 3d Native Infantry cantoned outside were known to be mutinous in heart; and report said that they had sworn the siege-train should never reach Delhi. The river Sutlej, too, rising rapidly every day from the melting snows above, threatened to sweep away the bridge of boats before the train could possibly be ready. All was expedition and anxiety; almost hourly was the telegraph in request, reporting safety and progress to the Commander-in-Chief; at length, on the morning of the 21st, Lieutenant Griffiths, the Commissary of Ordnance, had the satisfaction of seeing the Phillour gate, which had been kept closed and guarded lest a spy or traitor should gain access, thrown open, and the siege-train pass out in all its force.

Tidings had, in the meanwhile, arrived, that the Nusseeree battalion from Jutogh, who were ordered down to escort it, had refused to march. The 3d Native Infantry, perhaps eager to clear their character from imputation, though more probably to get the train into their hands, volunteered. No time was to be lost; and under pretence of restored confidence, they were allowed to escort it. Thus at three o'clock in the morning the train began its long and perilous march. The river had risen, and was still rising, and every hour was precious. Every precaution had been taken; the water above had been dammed up or drained off, in some measure to lessen the strain on the bridge, which had also been strengthened by additional hawsers. There were Lieutenant Griffiths and Mr

On the right of the enemy's line, on the 8th June, were seen several troopers armed with lances, which led to the suspicion that deserters from the 4th had already found their way to the imperial standard.

Ricketts, the Deputy-Commissioner plains to the clear cool air of the of Loodiana (who had collected 300 Himalayas. coolies to help), at each end of the bridge, watching and expediting the progress of the train, which crossed over slowly but safely; and in less than two hours after, the bridge had gone! No sooner was the train fairly landed on the opposite bank, than the 3d Native Infantry were quietly and politely relieved of their charge, which was at once made over to some of the 9th Irregulars, quartered at Loodiana, and a small body of cavalry belonging to the Nabba Rajah; and under their united escort it proceeded onwards. Thus providentially was the train preserved from a twofold danger, the rising river and a rebel escort. Had the bridge broken before the train crossed, days, and perhaps weeks, would have been lost; and who can calculate the possible consequences of that delay? Had the 3d Native Infantry refused to let it cross-and it was wholly in their power-the danger might have been still greater. But, thanks to a disposing Providence, the bridge was crossed, and the rebellious designs of the escort thwarted! After delays and difficulties from unmanageable bullock-drivers and heavy sands, the train entered Loodiana at ten o'clock

On Thursday afternoon, May 15th, General Anson, at last believing that there was some truth in the direful reports from below, and that a large portion of the Sepoy army were in open revolt, hastened down to Umballa, to join the force he had ordered to be concentrated there.

that night, having taken nearly twenty hours to accomplish a distance of seven miles. Here another danger threatened, and was averted. A violent dust-storm, followed by torrents of rain, came on; yet not a grain of powder was injured, though the whole camp was levelled with the ground. The road was now clear, and comparatively easy, and the train entered Umballa on the 28th May.

The importance of Umballa as a station had now increased tenfold. Lying about midway between Delhi and Lahore, it would have been the first barrier to the stream of mutiny had it flowed upwards, and was to be now the rendezvous for the army to be collected for the recovery of "the bloody city.”

In order to understand better the subsequent operations, of which Umballa was now to be the centre, the reader must be content to make one more digression, and pass for a while from the dust-laden, furnace-heated

[ocr errors]


His sudden departure from Simla, and the withdrawal of all European troops from the hill stations, naturally filled with anxiety the minds of the many ladies who, with their families, had collected here for the approaching hot weather, and who had been already appalled at the reported atrocities perpetrated at Meerut and Delhi: they could but regard the unprotected defenceless state in which they were now to be left at the mercy of the budmashes of a most ill-regulated Bazar, with feelings of harrowing alarm. The chaplain, the Rev. F. O. Mayne, represented this to General Anson, as he was riding out of Simla, entreating that a small force, if only one company of Europeans, might be sent up there to insure quiet and restore confidence ; but the Commander-in-Chief now declared he could not spare a man. "What, then," said Mr Mayne, the ladies to do?" "They must do the best they can," was the inconsiderate reply. All eyes were then turned to General Penny, as the senior officer at Simla, and a gathering at once took place at his house, with a view of taking some steps for defending the place against attack. While they were assembled, the Superintendent of Hill States, Lord W. Hay, entered, and directed their thoughts of danger from the bazar vagabonds to the regiment of Goorkhas, quartered at Jutogh, some three or four miles off. This announcement threw a blank over the faces of all present: their only hope had been in the few Goorkhas who might remain, and these were now said to be the source of their greatest danger. From this moment all was confusion and disorder; in vain did General Penny endeavour to organise some system. Independent, and often counter-arrangements, met him at every step.

To trace in their order the exploits

« AnteriorContinuar »