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History of the Indian Mutiny 1857-1858
Commencing from the close of the second volume of Sir John Kay's History of the Sepoy War by Colonel G. B. Malleson, C.S.I. (second edition in two volumes) (1878)


The public has a right, to demand why, a third volume of the late Sir John Kaye’s history having already appeared, I should entirely ignore that volume, and should take up the story from the close of the second.

I now proceed to explain why I have done so.

The very day on which I returned to England from India, after my retirement from the service, I was asked to continue and complete Kaye’s History of the Sepoy War.

Many reasons combined to induce me to accept the offer. I had been in India from the commencement of the mutiny till its force had been broken; I had collected on the spot, and had even thrown into shape, materials for such a work; not only was I acquainted with many of the actors, but I had had for years continuous opportunities of studying in India the points of controversy which had arisen after the mutiny had been quelled.

On the other hand it is always a disadvantage to continue the work of a writer from whom one may differ in essential points. This was, I felt, especially the case in the instance before me. For, whilst the first and second volumes of Sir John Kaye’s work—not to speak of the political opinions they enunciated—had recounted in eloquent language the events of the earlier stages of the mutiny as they had happened, his third volume had, in the opinion alike of the actors and spectators of the drama, failed to render to those of whom it treated that impartial justice which their deeds?, good or evil, had deserved.

I had read that volume in India. I do not wish to say a single word in depreciation of its style, of its brilliancy, of its literary merit. But I may simply observe that neither could the officers of the army, many in number, of all branches of the service, political and civil, as well as military; nor could I, accept it in many important particulars as history. The letters which appeared in the English newspapers, controverting many of its statements, and reflecting, I have since ascertained, but a fraction of the dissatisfaction and dissent felt regarding it, showed clearly that this opinion was not confined to India—-that it was general.

When, therefore, I was asked to continue and complete the history I replied that I would do so "only on the condition that the continuation should begin from the termination of Sir John Kaye’s second volume, thus ignoring the third. This was agreed to.

In performing this task the plan of my narrative has been very much affected by the necessity of adhering as much as possible to the general scheme of Sir John Kaye’s work. Naturally, I should have preferred to be free to form a grouping after my own taste. But this was impossible. I have, however, deviated from the arrangement sanctioned by Sir John Kaye in his third volume, in so far that I have left for the fourth volume the account of the storming of Dehlf, while I have included in the third the story of the first relief of Lakhnao.

It appeared to me that such an arrangement was absolutely essential to the harmony of the narrative. The first so-called relief of Lakhnao was not really a relief. It was in truth a reinforcement of the garrison. It did not deal, as did the capture of Dehli, a deadly and a fatal blow to the rebellion. The siege of the Residency still continued after it had been effected. It seems therefore rightly included in a volume which records the progress of the mutiny. At the same time, the account of the storming of Dehli being transferred to the fourth volume, that volume will be devoted mainly to the history of the downfair and crushing of the great rebellion.

It will be seen that I differ entirely from Sir John Kaye as to the wisdom of the action of the Government of India in the early days of the mutiny. I have given my reasons. They were formed on the spot twenty-one years ago. Further examination has confirmed them.

One word as to the authorities on which this history rests. It is based on letters, journals, and official documents, written at the time—in 1857. I have ever distrusted, and I distrust, documents penned from memory after a lapse of twenty-one years. To the dead, as well as to the living, justice must be rendered. Such justice can be dealt only by the historian who shall care-, fully peruse letters and journals—not meant for publication— written at the time; who shall subject these to a rigid examination; and who shall then conscientiously and impartially record the judgment formed upon that examination.

To do this I have devoted all my energies.

During the whirl of action, amid the distracting influences of the passing exigencies of the hour, it is not always possible to be impartial. The time has now arrived when the task of dealing out severe and strict justice to all maybe attempted. In the process it is inevitable that men who may have been unduly exalted may be relegated to a lower place, whilst modest and neglected merit will be moved up higher. But my aim, my hope, my earnest desire, has been and is to render to all as they have deserved.

The fourth volume, containing the fall of Dehli . and the movements of the Dehli force; the holding of the Residency and subsequently of the A'lambagh by Sir James Outram; the capture of Lakhnao and the crushing of the rebellion in Oudh by Sir Colin Campbell—afterwards Lord Clyde; the Central Indian campaign of Sir Hugh Rose (now Lord Strathnairn); and the daring achievements of Sir Robert Napier (now Lord Napier of Magdala),—will appear in the first quarter of 1879.

One word as to the spelling of proper names.

I have adopted the modern system, that of spelling words in English as they are spelt in the language of Hindustan. When it is considered that by the barbarous method, or rather no- method, hitherto in force the sense of the names is utterly lost, I cannot think that the system I have adopted will be regarded as a harmful innovation. Take, for instance, the place usually known as Cawnpore. Spelt in that way the name is absolutely without signification. But spelt in the way in which it is written by the Hindds, Kdnhpdr, the meaning becomes at once apparent. Kanh is a name for Krishna; Pur stands for a city. The entire word signifies' “city of Krishna.” For the convenience of those accustomed to the old method I append a
glossary of the proper names I have employed, spelt according to both systems, and ranged in alphabetical order.

27 West Cromwell Road.
1 May 1878.


The alterations which have been made in the seventh and eighth books, and in the first chapter of the ninth book of this volume, are almost entirely verbal, and in no way alter the sense of the text of the first edition. At page 295, a mistake in the name of the medical officer attached to the 2nd Cavalry, Gwaliar Contingent, has been rectified.

In the second chapter of the ninth book, a very gallant deed performed by Captain R. P. Anderson and Corporal Oxenham, assisted by four others, has been inserted; and in the third chapter of the same book I have endeavoured to render more complete justice to the gallantry of young Henry Havelock in one case, of Captain Olpherts in another, and of Captains Olpherts and Crump, and of Private Duff, in a third.

Having carefully re-read and studied all the documents bearing on the Patna crisis, related in the second chapter of the seventh book, I have found it impossible to recede from the conclusion I deliberately recorded in the first edition. The opponents of the view I have taken have been forced to seek refuge in the assertion that in June and July 1857 Patná never was in danger. It can scarcely, however, be denied that but for the unanticipated success of Vincent Eyre—a success achieved with means far inferior to those which in the hands of another leader had foiled—not only would Arah have fallen, but the whole of western Bihar, of which Patná was the capital, would have been overrun by the mutinous regiments, strengthened in numbers by the retainers of the landowners. It was in view of such a catastrophe, then impending, that Mr. Tayler, acting as a prudent general would have acted, issued to his subordinates the order to concentrate on Patni, there to oppose the enemy, where alone opposition could be effectual. Yet it is now gravely asserted ‘ that Patna never was in danger! It would be as true to affirm that in 1857-58 there was no mutiny in India. In no part of the country was the danger more imminent, more menacing to the safety of the
empire, than in western Bihar in the month of July 1857. The danger was long warded off by the statesman-like action of Mr. Tayler; it was finally averted by the daring of Vincent Eyre. But for these two men it might have been necessary for the English to reconquer Calcutta.

G. B. M.
27, West Cromwell Road,
1st October 1879.

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