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Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde
Chapter IX The Pacification of Oude—End of the Mutiny


Satisfied of the “military safety” of the troops engaged in Oude, Goruckpore, and Behar, the Doab and Rohilcund, Lord Clyde during his hot-weather residence at Allahabad was resolved not to endanger the health of his forces until he should he ahle “to move them on a general plan and with one common object.” His design, therefore, was to remain quiescent until his preparations should be complete; and then, in his own words, “to break in upon the rebel bodies simultaneously in each province, to leave them no loophole for escape, and to prevent them from travelling from one district to another, and so prolonging a miserable guerilla warfare,” One exception to this programme had to be made. Maun Singh, an influential chief of Eastern Oude, after a long hesitation had at length in June deserted the rebel cause and thrown in his lot with the conquering power. The local rebels, twenty thousand strong, irritated by his secession from their side, had besieged him in his fort of Shahgunj near Fyzabad. The Commander-in-Chief deputed Hope Grant to relieve Maun Singh, and also to take the opportunity of beginning the occupation of Oude in accordance with the plan it was intended to carry out on a large scale during the ensuing cold season. Hope Grant, marching from Nawabgunj, reached Fyza-had on July 29th, where his presence caused the dispersion of the rebel hordes which had been besieging Maun Singh. After a satisfactory interview with that personage, Grant, by the Commander-in-Chief’s instructions, marched further east to Sultanpore, following up the rebels who had abandoned the siege of Maun Singh’s stronghold. They showed fight and actually advanced to the attack; but when Grant moved against them on the morning of August 29th he found that they had dispersed. From Sultanpore Grant visited Allahabad, where Lord Canning invested him and Mansfield with the Knight Commandership of the Bath.

The operations for the subjugation of Oude were to be directed from two points simultaneously: on the one hand, from the frontier of Rohilcund with the object of driving the rebels in a north-easterly direction towards the Gogra: on the other, from the south-east against the Baiswarra district lying between the Ganges and the Goomtee, in which territory the most powerful and stubborn rebels were Lai Mahdo of Amethee and Beni Mahdo of Roy Bareilly and Shunkerpore. Lord Clyde’s first object was to sweep the Baiswarra region and drive the rebels from it beyond the Gogra; his second and final object to cross the Gogra, draw gradually tighter the cordon by which the rebels were hemmed in north of that river, and force them back across the Raptee upon the frontier of NepauL The task was onerous, for it was officially estimated that in Southern Oude alone there were sixty thousand men in arms exclusive of the disbanded sepoys, and as many as three hundred guns scattered about in the numerous forts in the jungles. But the burden of the task was diminished by the progress made in the organisation of a body of native military police under the superintendence of Captain Bruce the former head of the intelligence department, who in July reported that he had already five thousand men ready for this employment. As the columns advanced defeating the enemy and expelling him from his strongholds, those auxiliaries were to occupy the positions won, and were to support the civil authority in the maintenance of order.

Lord Clyde remained in Allahabad to be present on November 1st when the proclamation announcing the direct government of British India by the Crown was promulgated by Lord Canning. On the 2nd he joined his headquarters at the Beylah cantonment near Perturbghur, thirty-five miles from Allahabad. He occupied a small tent, not only as an example to bis staff but also to facilitate rapidity of movement from column to column. Three columns were immediately to his hand in the Baiswarra district. Pinckney’s column, consisting of three and a half infantry regiments, two cavalry regiments, two batteries and details, was at Perturbghur with a post on the Sultanpore road. Hope Grant’s, comprising four infantry and two cavalry regiments, two and a half batteries and a company of sappers, was two miles north-east of the fort of Amethee. The third was Wetherall’s, who -with one cavalry and two and a half infantry regiments and twelve guns, contrary to his orders and without the specified co-operation, had just captured the fort of Rampoor Russia on the Sye, with its armament of twenty-three guns. He had killed some three hundred of the enemy with a loss to himself of about eighty killed and wounded, but had allowed the garrison to escape, and Lord Clyde was much annoyed that he should have disregarded his instructions.

The first act of the Commander-in-Ohief on reaching his headquarters in the field was to summon Lai Madho the Talukdar of Amethee to make his submission, and a copy of the Queen’s proclamation was forwarded to him with the intimation that if he remained recalcitrant the Commander-in-Chief would invest his fort. Lai Mahdo had afforded protection to British fugitives at the outbreak of the rebellion, and as he had thereby established a claim to the clemency of the Government, he was allowed until the 6th to form his decision. He failed to present himself on that date, and his jungle fortress was then invested by the headquarter column and those of Hope Grant and Wetherall. Lai Mahdo surrendered himself on the 10th and gave up his fortress, which when entered was found to have been evacuated. The Rajah’s conduct was so equivocal that he was made a prisoner. Mr. Russell thus describes the scene when the Commander-in-Chief rode into the place with the Rajah in attendance. “The latter was pale with affright, for his Excellency, more irritated than I have ever seen him, and conscious of the trick which had been played upon him, was denouncing the Rajah’s conduct in terms which perhaps the latter would not have minded much had they not been accompanied by threats of unmistakable vigour.”

Leaving a post at Amethee to destroy the fort Lord Clyde moved promptly on Shunkerpore, the stronghold of Beni Mahdo who had been joined by the fugitive rebels from Rampoor Kussia and Amethee. Grant and Wetherall invested the fort on two faces, the headquarter column on the third. Eveleigh’s column, which had recently stormed the fort of Simree, should have arrived to complete the investment; but he arrived too late and thus was afforded a means of escape to Beni Mahdo and his followers. Shunkerpore was a strong place of considerable importance; the circumference of its outer ditch measured nearly eight miles and the area of the fort exceeded five acres. Before resorting to hostile action the Talukdar was summoned; hut he refused to lay down his arms, and on the night of the 15th the garrison, about ten thousand strong, evacuated the fort, carrying off ten guns and heading northward with the probable intention of reaching the trans-Gogra region. Leaving a detachment at Shunkerpore to destroy the fort and the surrounding jungle, the Commander-in-Chief on the night of the 18th moved with the headquarter column to Roy Bareilly, Wetherall’s brigade, now commanded by Colonel Taylor, Seventy-Ninth Highlanders, had been despatched to Fyzabad with instructions to continue the operations beyond the Gogra as soon as the rebels had been cleared out of the Baiswarra district; and Sir Hope Grant proceeded to the same place to take command of the forces which were to operate in the trans-Gogra country. Horsford was acting on his instructions to reduce the country on the right hank of the Goomtee between Jugdespore and Lucknow. Lord Clyde on the 20th had advanced to Buchraon, twenty miles on the road to Lucknow, when information reached him that Beni Mahdo had been headed by Hope Grant’s movement and had turned towards the Ganges, on the way to which he had been defeated at Bera by Brigadier Eveleigh, who was following the rebel chief towards Simree. Lord Clyde determined to join the brigadier, who was weak in infantry, and to attack Beni Mahdo. He reached Simree on the 23rd, and on the morning of the 24th advanced to the village of Bidhoura, whence a summons was sent to the rebel chief giving him a last chance of surrender. No reply came and the advance was resumed.

Beni Mahdo’s position was strong, but too extended to be properly defended. It lay on a branch of the Ganges between two villages, the village of Doundea-Khera on the west, the village of Buksar on the east. The advance of the British skirmishers and the artillery fire sufficed to break the rebel line. Part of the enemy were forced into the river; the occupants of both villages were summarily driven out. The rebels left between three hundred and four hundred dead on the ground and abandoned the seven guns they had possessed. But Beni Mahdo escaped, and having been joined by part of his followers hurried northward pursued by Colonel Carmichael’s force, till on December 4th he was driven into the country beyond the Gogra. The clearance of of the Baiswarra district having been effected, the Commander-in-Chief marched to Lucknow, where he arrived on November 28th to find that the wide region west of Lucknow between the Ganges and the Chouka had been swept clear of rebels by Brigadiers Barker and Troup. The former officer, having reduced the regions of Kuchowna and Benagunj, had reached Khyrabad and a few days later advanced to Biswah. Troup with the Shahjehanpore force had crossed the Eohilcund frontier, stormed the fort of Mittowlee on November 8th, engaged in a sharp and victorious action at Mehndee, and moving to the south-west established himself at Jehangirabad near the right bank of the Chouka.

Thus one half of the task of subjugating Oude had been accomplished. An elaborate plan, which involved exceptional punctuality and precision, had been undeviatingly followed with successful results. Lord Clyde could truthfully report to Lord Canning that, “ In the theatre of operations extending over a line of march of more than two hundred miles, each movement and each apparently isolated attack was made to defend and support what was being done on the right and left. The advance in line, stretching from the confines of Eohilcund to Allahabad and Azimghur, had put down everything like rebellion in a large sense of the word, in the region on the right bank of the Gogra.” Some critics found occasion to charge his movements with tardiness ; but the Commander-in-Chief had a far greater aim than the temporary dispersal of the rebel bands. Unless justified by some urgent military necessity, Lord Clyde was on principle averse from entering any district which could not be permanently occupied. He was determined to leave no territory, through which his columns moved, unfurnished with police posts under civil authority of sufficient strength to guarantee order for the future. In a word, he insisted on the permanent settlement of the country as he advanced.

There remained to him now only the prosecution of the campaign in the trans- Gogra country. Leaving Lucknow on December 5th with a column consisting of fourteen guns, three cavalry and five and a half infantry regiments under the command of Brigadier Horsford, he picked up at Nawabgunj Purnell’s column, consisting of four guns, a wing of the Twenty-Third, and the Ninetieth Light Infantry, and marched in the direction of Byram Ghat on the Gogra, at the confluence of the Chouka and the Surjoo. Hearing that a hody of fugitives were crossing the river at that point, the ardent veteran with the cavalry and,four guns, on the waggons of which were mounted a few marksmen of the Rifle Brigade, galloped forward in the hope of intercepting the rebels in the act of crossing. But he was just in time to be too late. There were no means of crossing the river at Byram Ghat, and Lord Clyde, anxious to prosecute the campaign with a minimum of delay, moved down to Fyzabad with the headquarter column and the siege-train, crossed the river at that point, and on the 14th reached Secrora, a couple of marches beyond the Gogra. Certain dispositions were made at this point, tending to assure the object in view of clearing the region of rebels and hindering them from recrossing into the settled territory. Purnell was sent to watch the fords on the Chouka as far up as Jehangira-bad, whence Troup took up the duty to the confines of Rohilcund, while Pratt patrolled the Mullapoor Doab between the Chouka and the Surjoo. From Baraiteh on the 17th Christie’s column was detached to cover on the left the further advance of the headquarter column up to the edge of the Nepaul hill-territory. On the right in the Goruekpore country Rowcroft’s column, advancing from Bustee and crossing the Raptee, was marching on Toolseepore, which place was believed to be held in strength by Bala Kao the brother of Nana Sahib. After some fighting Rowcroft occupied Toolseepore on December 23rd, where he was joined by Hope Grant, who had parted from the Commander - in - Chief at Secrora on the 14th and had marched to Bulrampore, at which point he covered on the right the advance of the headquarter column.

Lord Clyde marched due north on Baraitch, where he arrived on the 17th. As he approached, the Nana Sahib and the Begum of Oude, who had been holding Baraitch, fell back in the direction of tbe Nepaul frontier. The end was now near at hand, and symptoms of disruption among the insurgents were manifesting themselves, tbe vakeels of the Rajahs and Talukdars who were still “out ” coming in to ask for terms. The Begum herself sent a representative to inquire what she might expect. An advance was made on the 23rd towards Nanparah, and on the 26th, hearing that the rebels were in force at Burgidiah, a march beyond Nanparah, the Commander-in-Chief moved on that place. Late in the afternoon the rebel pickets fell back, disclosing the main body drawn up in advance of a village opposite the left front of the British force. After a brief reconnaissance Lord Clyde disposed bis troops for action, and himself galloped to the front with the guns and cavalry of the advance guard. Coming under the enemy’s fire he rapidly took ground to his right, and when he had gained their extreme left he again advanced and brought his guns into action. The effect of the evolution was instantaneous; the enemy’s flank was turned and they hurried in disorder towards Burgidiah and Churdah, losing all their guns in the flight. Here Lord Clyde, while guiding the pursuit, met with a serious accident. His horse fell and he was thrown violently to the ground. Mackinnon, his surgeon, found him in great pain with blood flowing down his cheek. One of his shoulders was put out and a rib broken. Much shaken though he was, the gallant old Chief, as soon as the dislocation was reduced, promptly rose and walked towards the front as if he had been unhurt.

An incident, characteristic of Lord Clyde, occurred this evening. Mr. Russell, himself an eye-witness of it, has thus vividly portrayed the scene :— “On returning to camp it was quite dark; not a tent was pitched ; the baggage was coming up in darkness and in storms of angry voices. As the night was cold, the men made blazing fires of the straw and grass of the houses of the neighbouring hamlet in which Nana Sahib’s followers had so long been quartered. At one of those fires, surrounded by Beloochees, Lord Clyde sat with his arm in a sling on a charpoy which had been brought out to feed the flames. Once, as he rose to give some order for the disposition of the troops, a tired Beloochee flung himself full length on the crazy bedstead, and was jerked off in a moment by one of his comrades with the exclamation Don’t you see, you fool, that you are on the Lord Sahib’s charpow Lord Clyde interposed—‘Let him lie there; don’t interfere with his rest,’ and himself took his seat on a billet of wood.”

Next day the force marched onward to the fort of Mejiddiah, the Commander-in-Chief carried on an elephant at the head of the column. The place was found to be very strong, full of guns and crowded with men. Some casualties occurred from the enemy’s fire, which was obstinate; but shell after shell burst inside the fort and the round-shot tore great masses of earth off the parapets. Detachments of infantry closed in upon it and poured through the embrasures a constant rain of bullets, which, with the fire from the big guns, ultimately crushed down an exceptionally stubborn resistance. The 28th was spent in the demolition of the fort, and next day Lord Clyde marched back to Nanparah, in tbe belief that there he would be in a more central and advantageous position from which to watch the enemy’s movements. On the afternoon of the 30th intelligence came in that Nana Sahib, Beni Mahdo, and other outlaw leaders had gathered in force near Bankee, about twenty miles north of Nanparah. The camp was left standing and orders issued for the troops to parade without bugle sound at8 p.m. The infantry were carried on the elephants of the force, on one of which Lord Clyde accompanied the column. The expedition consisted of the Seventh Hussars, part of the Carabineers, First Punjaub Cavalry, a troop of Horse Artillery, a battalion of the Rifle Brigade, a detachment of the Twentieth and a wing of the Belooch battalion. After a march of fifteen miles in pitch darkness a halt was made until dawn of the 31st, when the column continued its advance and presently the enemy’s outposts became visible with tbe main body in rear. The hostile line was in position on the edge of the forest between two roads, one leading toward the Raptec, the other to the pass entering the Soonar valley in Nepaul. At the first onslaught the rebels turned and fled. Part of them hurried towards a ford on the Eaptee. A squadron of the Seventh Hussars followed hard upon the flying troopers; the other three squadrons, ordered to support it, swept along the bank under the gauntlet of the artillery fire from the other side of the river. The panic-stricken rebel horsemen precipitated themselves into the waters of the Eaptee. At the sight the pursuing hussars dashed after them, and cut them down as they struggled in the whirling stream. Major Horne and two hussars were drowned. Captain Stisted, who commanded the leading squadron, was carried away by the current, but was saved by his comrade Major Fraser,1 who received the Victoria Cross for his opportune gallantry. The rebels thus driven and dispersed, the camp was pitched at Bankee. On information that the fugitives were gathered again in the Soonar valley within Nepaulese territory, Lord Clyde on the 5th of January, 1859, marched up from Bankee to Sidinhia Ghat, the scene of the action of December 31st, where an encampment was taken up on a site favourable for watching the pass leading into Nepaul, and there a column was left on duty under the command of Brigadier Horsford. Hope Grant, while at Bulrampore, had heard that the Nana’s brother Bala Eao had taken possession of the fort of Toolseepore with a considerable body of followers, and was aiming at entering the Goruckpore district. Grant interfered materially with that project by hitting on Bala Eao’s force at Kumdahkote about thirteen miles north-east of Toolseepore. He attacked them on January 4th, drove them into the neighbouring hills, and captured fifteen guns. Like his brother the Nana, Bala Rao sought refuge in Nepaul.

Lord Clyde had now fairly accomplished the task which he had undertaken. By means of the wide-sweeping movement begun in October, the three great provinces of Oude, Behar, and Goruckpore, which “till that time had been in a state of insurrection, were now absolutely cleared of even the semblance of rebellion.” Although from the nature of the work there had been no great battles, the number of small affairs had been very considerable. In Oude alone one hundred and eighty thousand armed men, of whom at least thirty-five thousand were sepoys of the old native army, had succumbed to the British power. About one hundred and fifty guns had been captured in fight; many more guns and three hundred and fifty thousand arms of various descriptions had been collected.; and more than three hundred forts had been destroyed. The disarmament of the country could at length be taken systematically in hand, and on its completion by the civil authorities some months later, Lord Clyde was able to report that “seven hundred additional guns had been recovered from the various forts, more than eleven hundred of which had been razed to the ground.” Owing to the free employment of heavy ordnance and vertical fire, the casualties which had occurred during the campaign since Lord Clyde took the field in the beginning of November, 1858, did not exceed eighteen killed and eighty-four wounded,—a loss infinitesimal in proportion to the importance of the results.

On January 8th Lord Clyde began his return march to Lucknow. At Baraitch on the way down he met by appointment his trusted lieutenant Sir Hope Grant, whom he placed in command of all the forces in Oude and who for the present remained to watch matters on the frontier. Since his accident, until he left the front, the hardy old soldier had directed the military operations from the back of an elephant; but he now exchanged into a dooly in which more easy conveyance he was carried to Lucknow, where he arrived on January 17th.


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