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Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde
Chapter V The Indian Mutiny—Organisation—Relief of Lucknow—Defeat of Gwalior Contingent


In the beginning of 1857 the clouds that presaged the awful storm of mutiny which Sir Charles Napier had foretold and temporarily averted seven years earlier, were ominously gathering over the Bengal Presidency. On the 19th of February the first flash of actual outbreak burst forth at Berhampore. The revolt spread to Bar-rackpore, and in the course of a few weeks it became apparent that the spirit of insubordination was gradually bnt surely ripening throughout the Bengal army. In the middle of May the crisis which had been threatening for three months came to a head at Meerut. The revolt of the native troops at that great station was consummated in rapine and slaughter. Delhi, with its vast munitions of war unprotected save by a handful of devoted European soldiers, fell into the hands of the insurgents. The pensioned King of Delhi was drawn from his senile obscurity and proclaimed Emperor of India, and the great city became the capital of a rival power and the centre of attraction to the revolted army. The native regiments in the stations of the North-West Provinces broke out successively into revolt and hastened tumultuously to Delhi, which soon contained within its walls a turbulent mass of many thousand mutinous soldiers. Within a month after the outbreak at Meerut British authority had become almost extinct throughout the North-West Provinces. From Meerut to Allahabad, among a population of some thirty millions and throughout an area of many hundred miles, there remained no vestige of British occupation, save where at Agra the British residents were waiting anxiously for the signal to withdraw from their bungalows into the shelter of Akbar’s fort, and the hapless people closely beleaguered in Wheeler’s miserable entrenchment at Cawnpore. Across the Ganges throughout Oude, British men, women, and children were being mercilessly slaughtered by revolted sepoys; and Henry Lawrence, himself in the midst of troops scarcely caring to cloak their mutinous intentions, had soon sadly to realise that all Oude was gone except the Lucknow Residency, where he was to die after having exhausted himself in successful exertions to make that position defensible by the brave and steadfast men who survived him.

While on the march from Umballa towards Delhi the Commander-in-Chief in India, General the Hon. George Anson, died of cholera at Kurnal on May 27th. Tidings of this misfortune did not reach the War Office until July 11th. On that same afternoon Sir Colin Campbell was sent for by Lord Panmure, who made him the offer of the high command rendered vacant by Anson's decease. Campbell promptly accepted the offer and expressed his readiness to start that same evening if necessary. He stipulated successfully that his friend Colonel Mansfield, then Consul-General at Warsaw (afterwards Lord Sandhurst), should be offered the appointment of chief of staff with the rank of major-general. This settled, Campbell had an interview with the Duke of Cambridge, then as now Commander-in-Chief, who approved of the selection of Major Alison1 as military secretary, and of Sir David Baird and Lieutenant Alison as aides-de-camp.

It had been arranged at Sir Colin’s interview with Lord Panmure that he should start next morning. He was ready and his modest kit complete; but sundry matters intervened delaying his departure for a few hours. The Queen, for one thing, had desired that he should wait on her. The Duke of Cambridge brought him to Buckingham Palace; and, so Sir Colin wrote in his journal, “Her Majesty’s expressions of approval of my readiness to proceed at once were pleasant to receive from a Sovereign so good and so justly loved.” He left London by the continental night train, full of a justifiable elation. “Never,” he wrote, “did a man proceed on a mission of duty with a lighter heart and a feeling of greater humility, yet with a juster sense of the compliment that had been paid to a mere soldier of fortune like myself in being named to the highest command in the gift of the Crown.” Hurrying through Paris he found time to breakfast with General Yinoy his old Crimean friend, and reaching Marseilles on the morning of the 14th he immediately embarked for India on a vessel which was in readiness with its steam up. During the voyage he prepared a strategic scheme, the essence of which was a great concentric advance upon the Central Indian States, to be undertaken by the -whole. Now General Sir Archibald Alison, Bart., G.C.B. disposable military forces of the Madras and Bombay Presidencies, that would effectually engage the whole rebel strength of those turbulent territories, and so in some degree divert the severe pressure of the Gwalior Contingent on the left flank of the long and precarious main line of communication. This object obtained, Bengal and the Punjaub once more united by the reconquest of the intervening territory, and the left flank and rear of the reconquered base secured by the reduction of Central India, the most arduous work of the war could be safely undertaken; the vast, populous, and bitterly hostile province of Oude might then be subdued, with the result of securing non-molestation on the right flank of the region through which the principal line of communication must pass. The operation of this grand strategic scheme was weakened and retarded by various causes; but the sound wisdom of Campbell’s prescient conception was ultimately in great measure vindicated.

The new Commander-in-Chief landed at Calcutta on the 13th of August and became Lord Canning’s guest at Government House. The situation which confronted him was gloomy almost to utter hopelessness. It was true, indeed, that John Lawrence was holding the Punjaub in his strong hand, and was pressing forward all his available reinforcements to strengthen the British force contending against overwhelming odds before the walls of Delhi. But meanwhile that force was little over four thousand strong, and it seemed more than doubtful whether it could hold its ground until reinforcements should reach it. The garrison at Agra was isolated and cut off from all communication. That of Lucknow, hemmed within the feebly-defensive position of the Residency and its environs by many thousands of fierce and relentless enemies, encumbered also with a great company of helpless women and children, had numbers wholly inadequate to man the defences and was maintaining an almost hopeless resistance against overwhelming odds. Havelock, at the head of less than two thousand brave men, had fought his way from Allahabad to Cawnpore, too late to save the lives of the hapless women and children who had been reserved from the massacre of the men of Wheeler’s command only to endure a crueller fate. His gallant and persistent efforts to relieve Lucknow had failed and he had been obliged to fall back to Cawnpore, where with an attenuated force he was maintaining himself precariously in the face of the threatening attitude of the revolted Gwalior Contingent on the further hank of the Jumna.

Through the gloom there was one gleam of sunshine. The fortress of Allahabad, with its magazines of military stores, remained in British possession. At the point where the Ganges and the Jumna blend their waters, distant by land five hundred miles from Calcutta, it was a position of the highest strategical importance, forming as it did an advanced base for operations in the regions beyond having for their object the relief of beleaguered places and the restoration of commimi cat ions with Delhi and the Punjaub. From Calcutta to Allahabad there were two available routes; by the Ganges a distance of eight hundred miles, to accomplish which by steamer required from twenty to thirty days; by the land route of five hundred miles, one hundred and twenty of which was by railway and three hundred and eighty by the Grand Trunk Road. The troops as they landed were despatched up country in detachments by one or other of those routes. The common objective for the time was Allahabad, where Sir James Outram, who had returned from the command of the Persian expedition and had left Calcutta on the 6th of August to assume the command of the combined Cawnpore and Dinapore divisions along with the civil appointment of Chief Commissioner in Oude, was to collect the detachments of reinforcements as they arrived, preparatory to moving upward to Cawnpore there to join Havelock and advance with him to attempt the relief of the beleaguered garrison in the Residency of Lucknow.

But the troops, which as soon as possible after landing at Calcutta should have been pushing straight up country to Allahabad either by land or by water, suffered unavoidable detentions by the way. So disturbed was the country that posts had to be maintained to keep the routes open, and their occupation absorbed a certain proportion of the scanty European force. The mutinies of native troops at Dinapore and Bhagulpore caused the temporary detention by the local authorities of important reinforcements; and it was not until the first week of September that Outram was able to collect his scattered detachments at Allahabad. After a sharp and successful fight on the way he reached Cawnpore on September 15th; bringing reinforcements which raised to a strength of about three thousand men the force of which he chivalrously waived the command in favour of Havelock. Ten days later was accomplished what is commonly though erroneously styled the First Relief of Lucknow,—not a “relief ” in any sense of the term, but simply a great augmentation to the defensive strength of the garrison which had been holding the weak position of the Residency with a heroism so staunch.

Sir Colin found Calcutta all but entirely bare of material for a campaign; nothing was in readiness for the equipment of the troops fast converging on his base on the Hooghly. Means of transport there were scarcely any; horses for cavalry or artillery there were none; ammunition for the Enfield rifles was deficient; flour even was running out; guns, gun-carriages, and harness for the field-batteries were either unfit for active service or did not exist. Prompt and active were the exertions made by the energetic Chief and his subordinates to cope with needs so pressing. Horses were purchased no matter at what cost; ammunition was gathered in far and wide; flour was commissioned from the Cape; field-guns were cast at the Cossipore foundry; gun-carriages and harness were made up with all possible haste. The Commissariat and Ordnance departments were stirred from their lethargy and stimulated to an activity previously undreamed of; and the whole military machine was set throbbing at high pressure. As the falling of the Ganges gradually made the river route precarious, great exertions were made to quicken and extend the means of transport by the Grand Trunk Road, for which purpose the Bullock Train, as it was called, was established. Relays of soldiers travelled up night after night in bullock-waggons, halting during the heat of the day at prepared resting-places. Ultimately this system was so perfected that two hundred men were daily forwarded from the end of the railway at Raneegunge; and they reached Allahabad after about a fortnight’s travel, perfectly fresh and fit for immediate service.

In the midst of the pressure of his preparations Sir Colin found time to write with soldierly appreciation and cordiality to the principal officers now under his command. His first message to Outram concluded with the words, “ It is an exceeding satisfaction to me to have your assistance, and to find you in your present position.” To Havelock he wrote: “ The sustained energy, promptitude, and vigorous action by which your whole proceedings have been marked during the late difficult operations deserve the highest praise. I beg you to express to the officers and men under your command the pride and satisfaction I have experienced in reading your reports of the intrepid valour they have displayed upon every occasion they have encountered the vastly superior numbers of the enemy, and how nobly they have maintained the qualities for which British soldiers have ever been distinguished—high courage and endurance.” To Archdale Wilson, commanding the force before Delhi, he sent on August 23rd some words of generous encouragement, the first communication which had reached that officer from any military authority for many weeks: “I must delay no longer to congratulate you on the manner in which the force under your command has conducted itself and upheld the honour of our arms. You may count on my support and help in every mode in which it may be possible for me to afford them.” And when on September 26th the happy news reached him that Delhi, the head and heart of the rebellion as it was then considered to have been, was once more in the occupation of a British garrison, the Chief promptly telegraphed to Wilson, “Accept my hearty congratulations on your brilliant success.”

It seems quite clear that Sir Colin regarded it as virtually certain that Outram, who assumed command when Havelock and he had fought their way into the Lucknow Residency, would succeed in speedily effecting the relief and withdrawal of the garrison which was still holding that precarious position. But his confident hope for the prompt relief of Lucknow was doomed to early and utter disappointment. Outram’s column had proved to he simply in the nature of a reinforcement, and that, too, with no corresponding addition to the supplies of the original garrison. The beleaguerment was close; the position environed by some sixty thousand aimed and rancorous enemies. Outram sent word on October 7th, just a fortnight after his entry, to the effect that by eating his horses and gun-draught bullocks he would he able to subsist for a month; and he added that a force equal at least to two strong brigades would be required for the extrication of the garrison.

The sudden and pressing danger threatening Outram’s isolated and beleaguered force in Lucknow imposed on the Commander-in-Chief the most urgent exertions. Every military department was stimulated to the utmost; the whole resources of the Government were thrown into violent action. Stores, provisions, carriages, ammunition, guns, all were hurried forward upon Allahabad. But the available resources were sadly limited. The infantry were straggled in small detachments all along the Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta to Cawnpore. No cavalry existed except some two hundred men of the military train, and there were scarcely any horses for the field-batteries which were being organised at Allahabad. All told, the troops on the up-country march constituted a force hardly equivalent to a single weak brigade, less than half the strength which Outram had specified as requisite for his extrication. To relieve Lucknow in time seemed a sheer impossibility and disaster to the garrison there inevitable.

Fortunately, while every nerve was being strained to succour Outram from below, the welcome tidings were received that invaluable co-operation was approaching from the opposite direction. As soon as Delhi had fallen General Wilson had sent out in pursuit of the fugitive rebels a mixed column under the command of Colonel Greathed. The strength of this force amounted to two thousand eight hundred men, of whom nine hundred and thirty were Europeans. It was made up of two troops and one battery of artillery with sixteen guns, the Ninth Lancers three hundred strong, the Eighth and Seventy-Fifth Regiments four hundred and fifty strong, two hundred native sappers, four hundred Pun-jaub cavalry, and two regiments of Punjaub infantry twelve hundred strong. Marching down the Gangetic Doab, Greathed defeated bodies of mutineers at Bolund-shuhur, Malaghun, and Allyghur. Failing to overtake the main body of fugitives which had crossed his front towards Oude, he pushed on to Agra by forced marches, and had barely pitched his camp there when he was suddenly attacked by the Indore brigade. Recovering from their momentary surprise, the British troops notwithstanding their exhaustion met the hostile onslaught with vigour, and after a sharp engagement routed the enemy with heavy slaughter and the capture of thirteen guns and a great quantity of baggage and stores in the lengthened pursuit following on the combat. During the march from Agra down the Doab Colonel Hope Grant overtook the column, and having taken command of it in virtue of seniority arrived at Cawnpore on October 26th. Four days later, at the head of the Delhi column reinforced by several companies of the Ninety - Third Highlanders and some infantry detachments, he crossed the Ganges into Oude. Strictly enjoined to refrain from any serious operation pending the arrival of the Commander-in-Chief, Grant halted at Bunfcera, six miles short of the Alum Bagh, with the garrison of which position he established communications. As the reinforcements and supplies reached Cawnpore they were sent forward to the depot-camp at Buntera. The arrival of this Delhi column was of priceless value to Sir Colin, on whom his all but utter want of cavalry and his deficiency in field-artillery had hitherto weighed sorely. The column had come well provided with carriage, a hardly less valuable acquisition than the cavalry and artillery it brought. Now fihe Chief had to his hand the elements wherewith to organise a field-force strong enough to justify the opening of active operations at an early date.

Sir Colin left Calcutta on the 27th of October, and hurried with all speed to the seat of war. On the way he narrowly escaped falling into the hands of a body of mutineers who were crossing the road just as he came up. At Allahabad on November 1st intelligence reached him that Outram considered himself able to hold out on further reduced rations until beyond the middle of the month,—a welcome announcement, since it afforded Sir Colin more time to complete his arrangements and gave opportunity for the arrival of reinforcements still on the way. On the morning of the 3rd he reached Cawnpore, where he remained a few days to get the engineer train and commissariat in trim for the projected operation.

That operation was of the most difficult and embarrassing character. Its urgent objective was the relief of Lucknow, whence came an importunate cry for succour. Yet to attempt the immediate relief of Lucknow was at the imminent risk of the sacrifice of his communications; and the result of relieving the city at the cost of the forfeiture of his communications, would he simply to find himself in the air, hampered by a great convoy of sick and wounded, of women and children, his scanty force ringed around by vast hordes of enemies. For, as he knew, at Calpee on the Jumna, forty miles south of Cawnpore and directly on the flank of the road between Allahabad and Cawnpore, was gathering the revolted Gwalior Contingent, a large force under the Nana Sahib, and portions of the Dina-pore mutineers—a collective body at least triple his own strength, having the obvious intention of striking at Cawnpore and his communications so soon as he should be fairly committed to the Lucknow enterprise. Of this eventuality he had no alternative but to take the risk, leaving in Cawnpore General Windham with a few hundred men to remain on the defensive in an intrenched position and not to move out unless compelled by threat of bombardment.

On the 9th Sir Colin reached the camp at Buntera, where he placed Hope Grant in divisional command, reserving to himself a general superintendence of the operations. During the halt there the brave Kavanagh, who had volunteered to pass from beleaguered Lucknow through the hostile lines in the guise of a native scout, came into camp with despatches for the Chief. The scheme of operations settled on was to skirt the city from the Alumbagh to the Dilkoosha; thence to advance upon the Martinifere and the line of the canal; to follow the right bank of the Goomtee seizing the barracks and the Secundrabagh; thence under cover of batteries to be opened on the Kaiserbagh to carry the remaining buildings; and after effecting a junction-with the Residency to withdraw its garrison. A message was sent in to Outram informing him that the Commander-in-Chief would leave the Alumbagh on the 13th; that he hoped to gain possession of the barracks and the Secundrabagh on the 14th; and on the 16th to carry out the women and children and the sick and wounded.

On the afternoon of the 11th Sir Colin’s little army, all told barely four thousand five hundred strong, was formed up on the plain for the inspection of its Chief. A spectator has graphically depicted the scene. The field-guns from Delhi looked blackened and service-worn ; but the horses were in good condition and the harness in perfect repair; the gunners bronzed, stalwart, and in perfect fighting case. The Ninth Lancers, with their gallant bearing, their flagless lances and their lean but hardy horses, looked the perfection of regular cavalry on active service. Wild and bold was the bearing of the Sikh horsemen, clad in loose fawn-coloured dress, with long boots, blue or red turbans and sashes, and armed with carbine and tulwar. Next to them were the worn and wasted remains of the Eighth and Seventy-Fifth Queen’s, who with wearied air stood grouped under their colours. Then came the two regiments of Punjaub Infantry, tall of stature, with fierce eager eyes under their huge turbans,—men swift in the march, forward in the fight, and eager for the pillage. On the left of the line, in massive serried ranks, a waving sea of plumes and tartan, stood the Ninety-Third Highlanders, who -with loud and rapturous cheers welcomed the veteran commander whom they knew so well and loved so warmly. Till he reached the Highlanders no cheer had greeted Sir Colin as he rode along the line of men to whom as yet he was strange. But the Ninety-Third were his old familiar friends. “Ninety-Third” so ended his little speech—“You are my own lads, I rely on yon to do yourselves and me credit.” “Aye, aye, Sir Colin” answered a voice from the ranks, “Ye ken us and we ken you; we’ll bring the women and bairns out o’ Lucknow or we’ll leave our ain banes there!”

The expected reinforcements having joined, the column, Sir Colin riding at its head, began the flank march towards the Dilkoosha at daybreak on the morning of the 14th. No opposition was met with until the advance approached the Dilkoosha park, whence came a smart fire which was soon overpowered. The Dilkoosha was promptly occupied and the straggling enemy hurried down the slope towards the Martiniere, whence presently came a heavy fire of artillery and musketry which was beaten down by Travers’ heavy guns. At the approach of the British skirmishers the Martinifere was evacuated, and all the ground on the hither side of the canal was won. The field-hospital and commissariat were installed in the Dilkoosha and headquarters were established in the Martini^re, the wood to the west of which was occupied by Hope’s brigade with guns on the higher ground on its left. An attack on the position made by the enemy in the afternoon met with defeat, and they were driven back across the canal by a couple of regiments which made good a lodgment on its further side.

At the 15th the advance halted to admit of the closing up of the rearguard, which had been constantly engaged with the enemy during the previous day and did not reach the Dilkoosha until late next morning. The nearest road from Sir Colin’s position to the Residency was by the Dilkoosha bridge, the Begum’s palace, and the Huzrut Gunj,—the road followed by the Seventy-Eighth Highlanders in the first relief; but it was manifestly extremely dangerous. Another road, starting also from near the Begum’s palace and passing between the barracks and a suburb, led straight to the Secundrabagh. This was the route traversed by Outram and Havelock’s main force on the 25th of September, and it was recommended in the plan Outram had sent out by Kavanagh. But Sir Colin was assured that this road also would present formidable obstacles to his advance; and he could not afford to run the risk of compromising his scanty resources, already diminished by the detachments he was obliged to leave in his rear. He wisely resolved to make a detour to his right and approach the Secundrabagh by the open ground near the river. In the afternoon a reconnaissance was made by the Commander-in-Chief of the position opposite his left, the intention being to impress the enemy with the belief that his advance was to be made in that direction. The massing of all his artillery on that point and the maintenance upon it of a fire of mortars during the night, together with the entire absence of outposts on his right, were measures intended to contribute to that conviction.

By daybreak of the 16th the army was in motion. The enterprise before it was arduous in the extreme. After the subtraction of the details necessary to hold the Alumbagh, the Martinifere, and the Dilkoosha, there were available for the relief operations only the Ninety-Third, part of the Fifty-Third, two weak Sikh regiments, two provisional battalions of detachments, and portions of the Twenty-Third and Eighty-Second regiments—in all not above three thousand bayonets. Opposed to this handful was a host of some sixty thousand armed men concentrated in a central position of great strength. The task would have been rash even to madness but for Campbell's great strength in artillery, on which he chiefly depended for overcoming the obstacles which interposed between him and the garrison he had come to relieve. That artillery comprised the gallant Peel's naval brigade, consisting of six 24-pounders, two 8-inch howitzers, and two rocket-tubes; the sixteen field-guns of Greathed’s column, a heavy and a light field-battery and a mortar-battery of the Boyal Artillery, one half field-battery of the Bengal Artillery, and two native Madras horse-artillery guns—in all thirty-nine guns and howitzers, six mortars, and two rocket-tubes.

The line of Campbell’s advance was from his extreme right along the right bank of the river for about a mile, and then by a narrow and tortuous lane through thickly-wooded enclosures and between low mud-houses until the vicinity of the rear of the Secundrabagh should be approached. A strong advance-guard of cavalry with Blunt’s troop of Bengal Horse Artillery and a company of the Fifty-Third led the way. Hope’s and Bussell’s brigades followed, the ammunition and engineer park came next, and Greathed’s brigade brought up the rear. After passing the village of Sultangunge the lane by which the force was advancing turned sharp to the left, when the rear of the Secundrabagh became immediately visible, from the loopholes in which and from the adjacent huts on either side of the lane came a brisk fire. The moment was extremely critical; for the movement in advance was checked, while the cavalry, jammed and helpless in the narrow lane, hindered the passage forward of the artillery and infantry. Sir Colin pushed to the front regardless of the enemy’s fire, thrust the cavalry into the side alleys of the village, and ordered a company to line and cover the continuation of the lane passing along the west side of the Secundrabagh and debouching into the open space in its front. He himself then brought up to the front of the building two of Travers’ 18-pounders, which promptly set about battering a breach in the south-west bastion of the Secundrabagh. Blunt’s troop of horse-artillery came tearing up at a gallop through a heavy cross-fire till it reached the open space between that building and the serai a couple of hundred yards to the southward. Blunt gallantly maintained his fire in three different directions, sustaining heavy losses in men and horses. The Ninety-Third now coming up, three companies of that regiment cleared the serai and the adjacent buildings, drove out the enemy holding those positions, and pursuing the rebels across the plain seized and held the barracks while part of the Fifty-Third in skirmishing order connected that post with the main attack against the Secundrabagh. Sir Colin was near one of Blunt’s guns when a bullet which had passed through a gunner struck him with great force on the thigh, but it did not penetrate and he escaped with a severe bruise.

While the 18-pounders were doing their work the infantry were lying down behind an embankment waiting impatiently till their time should come. After an hour’s battering a Sikh native officer, without waiting for the word, sprang forward sword in hand followed by his men. Sir Hope Grant1 states that the brave Sikh was outrun by Sergeant-Major Murray of the Ninety-Third. Mr. Forbes-Mitchell says that the Sikh officer was killed on the way and that the two European officers of the Sikh regiment were wounded, misfortunes which caused a temporary halt on the part of the Punjaubis. “Then,” according to Forbes-Mitchell, “Sir Colin called to Colonel Ewart, ‘ Ewart, bring on the tartan!; his bugler sounded the advance, and the seven companies of the Ninety-Third dashed from behind the bank. It has always been a moot point who got through the hole first. I believe the first man in was Lance-Corporal Donnelly of the Ninety-Third, killed inside; then Subadar Gokul Singh, followed by Sergeant-Major Murray of the Ninety-Third also killed, and, fourth, Captain Burroughs severely wounded.”

The foremost men climbed in through the narrow breach. The bulk of the Ninety-Third and the Sikhs entered by the great gate further left after its massive locks had yielded to many bullets, and they were followed by Bamston’s battalion of detachments. The Fifty-Third broke in through a window to the right. The vast interior garden in which the deadly strife was proceeding rang with the clash of weapons, the crackle of musketry, the shouts and yells of the combatants. The scene baffled all description. The enemy, caught in a deathtrap, fought with the courage of despair. The conflict raged for hours and the carnage was appalling. When the enclosure and buildings were finally cleared of their ghastly contents, no fewer than two thousand native soldiers were found to have been slain.

That Sir Colin’s temper was apt to break out in sudden passion, he himself was very ready to admit; and if the passion were causeless, he was equally ready to make amends for the outburst. Forbes-Mitchell tells a story of him which illustrates both characteristics. Colonel Ewart, he says, in the fighting inside the Secundrabagh had captured a regimental colour from two native officers, both of whom he had killed notwithstanding that he had been himself severely wounded; and seeing that the fight was over, Ewart, bareheaded, covered with blood and powder-smoke, his eyes still flashing with the excitement of the fray, ran up to where Sir Colin sat on his gray charger outside the gate of the Secundrabagh and called out “We are in full possession of the place, sir! I have killed the two last of the enemy with my own hand, and here is one of their colours! ” Sir Colin had been chafed by events, and he turned angrily on Ewart. “Damn your colours, sir I’ he thundered—“it is not your place to be taking colours; go back to your regiment this instant!” Ewart turned away, much disconcerted by the reception given him by the Chief; but Forbes-Mitchell adds that he subsequently heard that Sir Colin sent for the colonel later in the day, apologised for his rudeness, and thanked him for his services.

Some distance beyond the Secundrabagh, and about one hundred yards right of the road towards the Residency, was the Shah Nujeef, a great mosque and tomb surrounded by a high loopholed wall fringed by trees, jungle, and enclosures. About midway between the two places lay a village to left of the road. Having drawn off his brigade from the Secundrabagh Hope cleared and occupied this village, while Peel brought up his heavy guns and placed them in battery within short range of the Shah Nujeef. The defence of that strongs hold was most obstinate, the enemy maintaining from it a severe and incessant musketry-fire which cost Peel very heavy loss. The attack had lasted for nearly three hours, yet no impression had been made on the massive structure; and Peel was enduring a double cross-fire from the left hank of the Goomtee and from the Kaiserbagh in addition to the injury wrought him by the garrison of the Shah Nujeef. A gallant attempt made by Barnston’s battalion of detachments to .clear the outlying enclosures failed; Barnston was struck down, and the determined attempt then made by Wolseley to escalade could not succeed, he and his men were raked by a storm of missiles,—grenades and round-shot hurled from wall-pieces, arrows and brickbats, burning torches of rags and cotton saturated with oil. A dangerous crisis was imminent. Retreat was not to he thought of, even had it been possible, which it was not. The veteran Chief was equal to the occasion. He sent orders to Middleton’s light field-battery to advance, to pass Peel’s guns on the right, and, getting as near as possible to the Shah Nujeef, to open a quick and well-sustained fire of grape. Peel, for his part, was to redouble his fire ; and the Chief rode back to the village occupied by the Ninety-Third to tell his favourite regiment that no matter at what cost the Shah Nujeef must he taken, and since the place had withstood gun-fire the cold steel would have to play its part. Many words were not needed, for Sir Colin and the Ninety-Third understood each other • and so, announcing to the regiment that he would himself head its advance, he led it out from the village into the open, ready to press forward at the word.

Middleton’s battery came up grandly. With loud cheers, the drivers waving their whips, the gunners their caps, it galloped through the storm of fire to within pistol-shot of the wall, and poured in round upon round of grape. Peel, manning all his guns, worked them with swift measured energy. The Ninety-Third, with flashing eyes and ardent step, the Highland blood throbbing in every vein, came rolling forward in a great eager wave, the war-loving veteran of many battles riding at its head. As he approached the nearest angle of the enclosure the men began to fall fast, but without a check its foot was reached. There, however, the gallant Scots were brought to a stand in face of a loopholed wall twenty feet high. There was no breach and there were no scaling-ladders. Unable to advance and resolute not to retire, the Ninety-Third resorted to a stationary fire of musketry; but the garrison of the place had all the advantage and the assailants suffered severely. Of Sir Colin’s staff both the brothers Alison were struck down, and many of the mounted officers, including Hope, his aide-de-camp, and his brigade-major, had their horses shot under them. The aspect of affairs had become exceedingly grave; the dusk was falling and the Shah Nujeef still remained untaken. Just at this critical moment Sergeant Paton of the Ninety-Third came running to Hope with the glad tidings that he had found a breach in the northeast corner of the rampart near the river. Hope quietly gathered a company and followed the sergeant through the jungle to where the latter indicated the narrow fissure he had discovered. He clambered up and then assisted Hope, Allgood, and others; the soldiers followed in single file. A body of sappers hurried up and enlarged the opening, and then the supports rushed in. The garrison, taken by surprise, glided away amidst the rolling smoke into the dark shadows of the night. The main gate was thrown open and at last the Shah Nujeef was in British possession.

Enough had been done for one day. The Shah Nujeef was garrisoned by the Ninety-Third, where also headquarters were established for the night. The roads and positions in rear of that advanced post were strongly held, and the wearied troop3 lay down to well-earned rest. The relief of the Residency, a few hours before problematical in the extreme, was now fairly assured. Taken between Campbell’s batteries and Outram’s cannon, the enemy could not long maintain themselves in the intervening buildings. In the early morning of the 17th Peel’s heavy guns were already in steady action on the Hess House, a place of considerable strength, with a ditch twelve feet broad backed by a loopholed wall For several hours it was bombarded, until, the musketry fire from it having been subjugated, about 3 p.m. it was successfully attacked by Captain Wolseley3 with a company of the Ninetieth and a detachment of the Fifty-Third. As Wolseley’s men, flushed with success, followed their gallant leader in pursuit of the fugitives across the open into the Motee Mahal, Lieutenant Roberts4 raised the flag on the top of the Mess House, the specified signal which notified to the Residency garrison the near approach of the relieving force. On the 16th Havelock had made a sally the result of which was to give him the possession of the advanced posts of the Herm Khana and the Engine House ; and thus communication was opened between the two forces as soon as the Motee Mahal had been carried. The meeting of Sir Colin Campbell, Outram, and Havelock, commemorated in a well-known picture, marked the virtual consummation of the operations for the relief. That object had been accomplished at the cost of a loss of forty-five officers and four hundred and ninety-six men.

It still remained, however, to withdraw from Lucknow the garrison and its encumbrances. To effect this evacuation in security required the utmost vigilance on the part of the troops and the greatest nicety in their handling, for the enemy still held threatening positions in overwhelming strength, and the long line from the Residency to the Dilkoosha which had to be traversed by the garrison and its convoy, was exposed to hostile fire at many points. From the 17th until the evacuation on the night between the 22nd and 23rd, Campbell's force in effect constituted a huge outlying picket which could not be relieved until the ultimate withdrawal should have been effected. Sir Colin’s first operation was to protect the left flank and left rear of his force by a chain of posts extending from the barracks to Banks’ house, and this was accomplished after some sharp fighting. To protect the women and children from exposure to fire from the Kaiserbagh while crossing the open space between the Engine House and the Motee Mahal, a flying sap with canvas screens was constructed; and during the afternoon of the 19th their retirement as far as the Secundrabagh was accomplished in safety. They were received by Sir Colin at his headquarters near that building. To assure their safety he detained the ladies until nightfall, when he sent them on to the Dilkoosha in doolies. The Government treasure, the crown jewels of the King of Oude, and all the serviceable guns were then gradually sent out; and at midnight of the 22nd the withdrawal of the garrison began. In deep silence the original garrison quitted the Residency and passed through the advanced posts to the rear. Those in succession fell back until the ground had been abandoned as far as the Secundrabagh, where Hope’s brigade was in position with fifteen guns. The troops were then drawn back across the canal, Sir Colin remaining with a detachment until the last gun was reported clear of the last village. Before dawn of the 23rd the whole force was in its assigned positions at the Dilkoosha and the Mar-tinifere. So adroit had been the arrangements that the enemy continued to fire on the positions for many hours after they had been relinquished. Thus terminated a series of difficult and delicate operations, the entire success of which was mainly owing to the steadfast adherence to Sir Colin Campbell’s original design. Wisely planned and skilfully executed, it proved how much a comparative handful of disciplined soldiers could accomplish against stupendous odds and in difficult ground, under the guidance of a leader who combined great experience in war with the full possession of the confidence of his troops.

On the afternoon of the 24th, just as the life was quitting the worn frame of the noble Havelock, the relieving force with its unwieldy convoy began its march to the Alumbagh, its rear covered by Outram’s division which closed up next day. It was not until midday of the 27th that Sir Colin, leaving Outram at the Alumbagh with four thousand men and twenty-five guns, put in motion towards Cawnpore his own vast miscellaneous column of soldiers, Women and children, sick and wounded, guns, treasure and material. When the camp at Bunnee was reached in the evening, the sound of heavy firing was heard in the direction of Cawnpore. For several days all communication with Windham had been cut off; and when it was known that a cannonade had been heard at Bunnee on the previous day, the conclusion became inevitable that the Gwalior Contingent had caught at the opportunity to assail the feeble garrison of Cawnpore. The apprehension of this had been haunting Sir Colin ever since the rupture of communications some days back; but nevertheless it must be said that there had been a certain measure of deliberation since the accomplishment of the relief. The weakness of Windham’s resources and the disastrous consequences of his being overwhelmed by numbers, occasioned very serious disquietude. Cawnpore and the bridge over the Ganges in hostile possession, it was but too obvious that Campbell's force with its huge and helpless convoy would be gravely compromised. A night-march made by such troops as could be spared from eseort-duty might have saved some valuable hours, but the force did not resume its progress until the morning of the 28th. The thunder of the cannon waxed louder as the column advanced ; and note after note from Windham, delivered by panting messengers, gave ominous intimation how greatly endangered had become the situation at Cawnpore.

Leaving the infantry to hurry forward with the convoy and heavy guns, Sir Colin pushed on rapidly with the cavalry and horse-artillery. Leaving those in the Mungulwar camping-ground he galloped on to Cawnpore with his staff*. Near the bridge an officer reported to him that “Windham’s garrison was at its last gasp.” His soldierly nature chafed by the flaccid despondency which tone and expression alike disclosed, the hot old Chief spurred his horse across the bridge and rode straight for the entrenchment. As lie passed, some men whom he had commanded in the Crimea recognised through the gloom the familiar face and figure; and cheer on cheer was raised as the word passed like lightning that the Commander-in-Chief had arrived. No more caitiff babble now of the garrison being “at its last gasp!” The feeling was universal that with Sir Colin’s arrival disaster was no longer to be dreaded; and the situation was already retrieved in spirit.

Windham had not followed the instructions given him by the Commander-in-Chief before the latter crossed into Oude. He had loyally forwarded to Sir Colin the reinforcements as they arrived, until the communications were cut off between him and his Chief. Left then to his own resources both moral and material, and aware that a rebel force of trained soldiers, fourteen thousand strong with some forty guns, was daily drawing nearer and nearer, he abandoned the defensive prescribed to him, and on the 24th of November he pushed some six miles out into the country with his mixed force of detachments, numbering all told less than fourteen hundred men with eight guns. Accepting his challenge, Tantia Topee, the rebel general, and the only real soldier the mutiny produced, threw forward his advanced guard into a strong position lining the dry bed of a mullah. That position Windham on the morning of the 26th carried at the first rush; but he found it necessary to withdraw in face of the main body of the rebels, and he fell back nearer to his base. At noon next day, skilfully withholding his infantry, the rebel general opened a heavy cannonade on Windham’s front and flanks. For five hours the British troops held their ground staunchly against overwhelming odds, but at length they were forced to retreat. This movement through narrow streets and broken ground was attended by considerable disorder, and the camp-equipage had to be abandoned. Reluctant to withdraw into the entrenchment, Windham during the night between the 27th and 28th still held with his right the broken and wooded ground between the city and the river, while his left stretched into the plain beyond the canal. The fighting, renewed on the morning of the 28th, proved disastrous to the attenuated forces of the defence. Walpole on the left held his ground and even took the offensive, and Carthew gallantly maintained his position on the right until it became quite untenable. But the retirement of the latter gave possession to the enemy of the Church and Assembly Rooms containing the stores and baggage of the Commander-in-Chiefs army, which Windham bad omitted to remove ’within the cover of the entrenchment. Gradually the hostile batteries closed in around Windham’s last defensive position near the bridge head, and directed their fire also on the bridge itself. A sally was made which for a time gave promise of a retrieval, but it was ultimately repulsed with heavy loss and great discouragement. By nightfall the garrison had been obliged to take shelter in the entrenchment; and when Sir Colin rode into the work it had become the mark for the cannon-balls and even the musketry-fire of the victorious rebels.

On the morning of the 29th Sir Colin’s artillery on the left bank, aided by that of the entrenchment, gradually beat down the fire which the enemy were directing on the bridge; and the crossing of the troops then began. The passage of the vast convoy lasted unceasingly for thirty-six hours. As the -women and children, the sick and wounded crossed, the interminable courage swept by the rampart of the fort and encamped on the plain among the mouldering remains and riddled walls of the weak shelter wherein Wheeler’s people had fought and died. Day after day the enemy cannonaded Sir Colin’s camp, but effective reprisals had to be postponed until the convoy of families and wounded which had started for Allahabad on the night of December 3rd should have been far enough on the journey to be safe from danger at the hands of the rebels. Meanwhile, the communications having been restored, the current of reinforcements was resumed, and the eager soldiers needed only to recover the fatigue of their march.

The enemy, whose forces were now increased to some twenty-five thousand men, had their left strongly posted in the broken ground of the old cantonments between the city and the river. Cawnpore itself was occupied; and its face towards the canal, opposite the advanced posts of the British camp, was thickly lined with troops. The hostile right was behind the canal on the southern plain, the Calpee road covered by the camp of the Gwalior Contingent. To fall on the enemy’s right and prevent assistance being rendered it by their left, was the governing idea of Sir Colin’s plan of attack. He determined to throw the whole weight of his force on the rebel right on the plain, to strike at the camp of the Gwalior Contingent, establish himself on its line of retreat, and having thus separated it from the Bithoor force constituting the rebel left, to effect the discomfiture of both bodies in detail. The troops at his disposal amounted to five thousand infantry, six hundred cavalry, and thirty-five guns.

At 10 a.m. of the 6th, while the troops of Sir Colin’s left were being formed in order of battle on either side of the Grand Trunk Road, Windham opened a fire of heavy artillery from the entrenchment upon the enemy’s right between the city and the river, with the object of concentrating their attention 011 that quarter and of masking the main point of Campbell’s attack. When this cannonade slackened Greathed, moving up to the line of the canal, engaged the enemy holding the edge of the city with a heavy musketry-fire for the purpose of detaining them in that position. On Great-hed’s left Walpole with his riflemen and the Thirty-Eighth crossed the canal, skirted the southern edge of the city, then bringing forward his right shoulder, swept across the plain towards the enemy’s camp. Simultaneously the columns of Hope and Inglis, forming in successive lines further to the left under cover of - the heavy artillery and preceded by the Sikhs and the Fifty-Third, drove the enemy across the canal, followed them up closely, and pressed eagerly forward upon the camp of the Gwalior Contingent, hurling back the foe in utter confusion. A battery galloping to the front poured round after round of grape into the tents, which were speedily cleared. So complete was the surprise, so sudden the onslaught, that the ckwpallies were found baking on the fires, the bullocks stood tied beside the carts, the sick and wounded were lying in the hospitals. By noon the enemy were in full flight by the road to Calpee. Such was the demoralisation that a pursuit by Sir Colin, his staff and personal escort, along with Bourchiers field-battery, sufficed to keep the fugitives on the run ; for the cavalry which was intended to cut off the enemy’s retreat had missed its way, and only joined in the pursuit some miles beyond the abandoned camp. Gun after gun was captured in the chase. Sir Colin maintained the pursuit with the cavalry and the horse-artillery along the Calpee road for fifteen miles, capturing seventeen guns with their ammunition-waggons and a great booty of material. The Gwalior Contingent, for the time being, was utterly discomfited.

The defeat of the rebels would have been complete, but for the escape of the Bithoor troops constituting the enemy’s left in the ground between the city and the river. After the capture of the Gwalior Contingent’s camp there had been assigned to General Mansfield, Sir Colin’s Chief-of-Staff, the task of cutting off the retreat of the rebel left along the Bithoor road. Mansfield advanced, with the Rifles in skirmishing order followed by the Ninety-Third and covered by an artillery fire, to a position near the Subadar’s Tank, where he halted short of the road which was the enemy’s line of retreat. This passive attitude not only permitted the escape of the enemy, but ..’emboldened them 1 to venture an artillery - attack # Mansfield's stationary troops; and the rebels were allowed jbogckrxy off their guns without hindrance and to make retreat on Bithoor. Mansfield’s inaction rfwbuld have more seriously detracted from the completeness of the British victory, but for the success of the enterprise which Sir Colin committed to Hope Grant on the 8th. That gallant soldier hurried in pursuit of the Bithoor fugitives with some two thousand five hundred men and eleven guns.

On the early morning of the 9th he overtook them at Serai Ghaut twenty-five miles above Cawnpore. Promptly opening fire on them, he drove them across the river and captured fifteen guns. Of the forty guns with which the rebels had advanced on Cawnpore, they had now lost all but one. Sir Colin had disposed of some twenty-five thousand enemies, including the formidable Gwalior Contingent, at the cost of only ninety-nine casualties among the troops he had led to a success so signal.

He was free at last to appreciate the virtue of the old proverb, “All’s well that ends well.” But he had run great risks and had narrowly escaped disaster. Nobly stimulated by an exigence in the urgency of which he put faith, he had set aside ordinary military considerations and concentrated every energy on the relief of a garrison which he had been led to believe was in extremity. As a matter of fact, there was no such imminency as had been represented to him. It must be said that both the chiefs who successively conducted the defence of Lucknow were unduly impatient of beleaguerment. Havelock sacrificed half his scanty force in successive attempts to reach Lucknow, urged to try and to try again by Inglis’ needless nervousness on the subject of rations. Outram’s sole edible contributions to the resources of the original garrison were the bullocks which had hauled his guns and ammunition waggons; yet no approach to starvation threatened either the original garrison or the so-called “ relieving force.” As a matter of fact there was no resort to horse-flesh; and there never should have been any occasion for reduced rations of farinaceous food, of which, indeed, Sir Colin carried a way one hundred and sixty thousand lbs. The commissariat had simply miscalculated \ and there was really no need that Sir Colin should have strained every nerve for the immediate relief of Lucknow, involving as it did the postponement of military undertakings of more imminent importance. This fact impressed itself pn the Commander-in-Chief; and the realisation that he had been influenced by representations which circumstances did not warrant gave occasion to a coolness on his part towards Sir James Outram.

It is fair, however, to state that Outram wrote from Lucknow to Captain Bruce in the following terms:— “However desirable it may be to support me here, I cannot but feel that it is still more important that the Gwalior rebels should be first disposed of. . . . We can manage to screw on, if absolutely necessary, till near the end of November, on further reduced rations. . . . But it is so absolutely to the advantage of the State that the Gwalior rebels should first be effectually destroyed, that our relief should be a secondary consideration." Had Outram written in this tone three weeks earlier, the option would have been with Sir Colin to strike at Calpee before undertaking the relief of Lucknow. But it was not until the 28th of October, when Sir Colin had already taken his line, that Outram wrote as above; and his communication was addressed neither to the Commander-in-Chief nor to Brigadier Wilson in command at Cawnpore, but to a subordinate officer. Outram adds that his letter, since it reached Bruce on October 30th, was no doubt communicated to Sir Colin who did not leave Cawnpore for Lucknow until November 9th. But a plan of campaign cannot be altered at a moment’s notice and at the eleventh hour. Nor is there any evidence that Sir Colin ever saw Outram’s letter to Bruce. It is true that intelligence reached him at Allahabad on November 1st that Outram “ was prepared, if absolutely necessary, to hold out on further reduced rations till near the end of November; ” and the announcement pleased him, as it afforded him a longer period in which to make his preparations for the relief of Lucknow. But he wrote to the Duke of Cambridge on November 8th that “all accounts from Lucknow show that Sir James Outram is in great straits;” and his biographer Shadwell testifies that “the urgent cry for succour which reached him from Lucknow overbore every other consideration.”


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