Percival Robert Innes.

The history of the Bengal European regiment : now the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and how it helped to win India. online

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Online LibraryPercival Robert InnesThe history of the Bengal European regiment : now the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and how it helped to win India. → online text (page 1 of 48)
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Lute of the. Ixt Bengal European

WITH II.LI sri:.\riiiN>.




Copyrightall riii
















HAVE placed on record the services of " The
Bengal European Kegiment," in order that the in-
heritors of it's fame and trophies may for all time
bear in grateful memory it's gallant exploits ; which
in so large a degree have conduced to the civilization,
peace, and security of millions of Her Imperial
Majesty's subjects.

The names of Clive, Warren Hastings, and Eyre
>ote, are well known to history; those of Herbert
Idwardes, Hodson, and Cavagnari, are household
words; but there still remains a long list of heroes, both
amongst the Officers and Kank-and-File, whose actions
were as noble, and whose endurance was as great,
though their valorous deeds have not been so promi-
tently recorded. All their names it has been my
ideavour to indelibly preserve.

In fulfilling this sacred trust, I owe my hearty
tanks to all those who have afforded me their kindly
.id ; to the Secretary of State for India, who has


courteously allowed me free access to the archives of
his Office; to Major John Henry Barnard, C.M.G., of
the Royal Minister Fusiliers, who devoted much time
and labour to research in the Adjutant- General's Office
in Bengal ; to my brother Officers, who have furnished
me with valuable information and details of personal
experience, not otherwise obtainable : thus encouraging
me to further and perpetuate this important record.

Lastly, I have been desirous to rescue from oblivion
the glorious name of " The Bengal European Regi-
ment," the last remnant of which, in July, 1881,
disappeared from the Official Army List.



6th February, 1885.









1756 Capture of the Fort of Baj Baj 25

1757 Re-capture of Fort William, Calcutta 27

Capture of the Fort of Hugli 21)

Battle of Chitpore 32

Capture of the Fort of Chandernagore from the French 41

Capture of the Fort of Kutwah 55

Battle of PLASSEY 59

1 75S Battle of CONDORE (against the French) 76

Attack and Capture of the French Camp 79

Occupation of Rajamundri 81

Capture of the French Position at Narsurpore

1759 Storm and Capture of the French Fortress of Musulipatam 86

Relief of Patna , 9$

Defeat of the Dutch at Chandernagore 104

Battle of Bederra against the Dutch 104

1760 Defence of Patna 112

Battle of Seerpore ... 116

Defeat of the Emperor of Delhi at Belkoss 119'

Relief of Patna 121

Battle of Beerpore 122

1761 Battle against Shah Alain and the French at Suan 130'

1763 Battle of Manjee 141

Battle of Kutwah 147

Battle of Geriah 149

Capture of the Fortified Position at Suti 153

Storm and Capture of Undwah Nala 160

Capture of Monghyr 164

Siege and Capture of Patna 173

1764 Defence of Patna 190-

Battle of BUXAR 204

Assault of the Fort of Chunar 213

Storm of the Nawab Vazir's Camp near Benares 218-

1765 Capture of the Fortress of Allahabad * 219

Capture of the Fort of Chunar 220


REGIMENT." ( Continued).



Action at Karrah 220

Battle of Kalpi 221

Battle of Kutra 247

Battle of Patuta ; 252

Cajtture of the Fort of Bidgeghur ( 253

Capture of the Fort of Karnmgalli ' 257

Relief of Wandiwash | 257

Assault of Chilambram 259

Battle of Porto Novo against Haidar Ali and the French : 260

Second Relief of Wandiwash 263

Capture of the Fort of Tripassore 264

i Battle of Pollilore | 264

Battle of SIIOLIXCJIIUR | 265

Battk- of Veracundalore 265

Relief of Vdlore 266

17*2 Battle of Arnee 267

17*3 >i-gt' of Cuddalore against the French 26'.)

1704 Battle of Boetura in ROIIILCUXD 275

1804 Capture of the Fortress of Gwalior j 287

! Battle of Deig ! :.'*<.

Storm and Capture of the Fortress of DEIG \ -2 ( M

1*i>;> Four Assaults on the Fortress of Bhurtpore 300

l*os Expedition to the Idand of Macao ; ;;n>

1*1O-17 Operations in Java 312

1814 , Nepal War 316

1817 Pindaric War 320

I.SLV, . Menu and Capture of the Fortress of BIIURTPORK ... 328

l*;}8 Campaign in AFGHANISTAN 340

i*:m Storm and Capture of GHUZNEK 348

]84<> Capture of the Fort of Pushoot

, Battlr,,t KKHOZMirilUR

1*46 and Captun- of SOBRAON 398

Campaign in thr rrX.IAl'h 419

Battl.-of ( HILLIANWALLAII 422

15attK-of f.OO/KIIAT 4^5

REGIMENT." ( Continued).




1852 Capture of PEGU 435

Relief of Pegu 438

1857 Battle of Budli-ka-Serai 460

Assault of the Eed Gar Serai 462

Battle of Subzi Mundi... .. 464

Battle of Nujjufghur 470

Storm and Capture of DELHI 475

Battle of Narnoul 496

Affair at Gungehri 501

,, Action at Puttiallee 503

Occupation of Mynpoorie 504

1858 Siege and Capture of LUCKNOW 516

Action at Baree 524

Action at Sahadit 525

g before the public the second edition of
this History, the Author explains that he has found
it inexpedient to apply the Classic spelling to certain
of the proper names ; his reason being that they
are borne on the Regimental decorations and known


amongst our soldiers, according to the old or phonetic

lling thus, Paltisi is here spelt " Plassey," Lakhnao
"Lucknow," Dig " Deig," &c., &c.

This explanation is offered as some critics have
siiL^ested that the Indian Classic orthography should

in all cases have been used.


. K.t-1 to 1756 Early days of the British in Bengal Capture
l>y Siraju M daulali .Madras reinforcements arrive to the
succour of Bengal dive's arrival at Fulta Formation of the Bengal
Kun>i>ran battalion Battle of Baj Baj Recapture of Calcutta.


EFORE commencing to place on record the origin
and services of the Bengal European Regiment,
which was the parent of the Royal Munster
Fusiliers, we propose to give a passing glance at
the political causes which led to its formation;
causes altogether >> widely different from those which preceded
the enrolment of other Regiments of the Line, that it will be
necessary to consider the position of affairs in Bengal for some
time prior to the enrolment of the Regiment.

Tin- 1st and '2m\ Bengal European Regiments, which now
con>titnte the 1st and i'nd Battalions of the "Royal Munster
Fusiliers." were, until 1S."S (when the Kuropean portion of the
Indian Army was hrnught under the immediate control of the
Horse (Juards). the only two British Infantry Regiments of
any considerable >tanding attached to the Bengal Presidency
in the service of the Kast India Company. Some additional
European Regiments, Itoth Cavalry and Infantry, were raised by
the Kast India Company for service immediately before, or in
Consequence of , the Sepahi Mutiny in India. 1S;>7-/)S; but they


ID 14-1750. were scarcely more than in process of organization when they were
merged into the Royal Army.

In the early days of the East India Company, the Officers in
their service were appointed by the "Court of Directors;" their
only requirements being good health, courage, and common sense.
The pay of the Officers was little more than nominal, prize-money
was plentiful; and those Officers who were fortunate enough to
render services to the Native Chiefs were handsomely, and some-
times profusely, rewarded. Cadets so appointed were not pro-
moted to Eusigncies until they had educated themselves for their
profession of the Army ; and in many instances they served as
private soldiers in what was called the " Cadets' Company ; " *
or carried their muskets in the ranks, attended all drills, and took
their guards in common with the privates of the Regiment. Leave
to Europe was not in any case permitted. A Cadet took service
for his life ; and if he found it necessary, on account of ill health,
or from. any other cause, to absent himself from the country, he
was deprived of his Commission. All the servants of the Com-
pany, whether civil or military, were permitted to carry on trade
on their own account ; which, with the advantages they possessed
over the Native Traders, ensured very handsome profits. Recruits
were acquired by means of press-gangs, who were paid a handsome
commission on the number of men engaged. These press-gangs
were employed by the East India Company under the authority
of the Crown. Men were usually pressed into the service when
in a state of intoxication ; and they were frequently kidnapped,
forcibly conveyed on board ship, and embarked before they
were aware of their fate. On arrival in India escape was
impossible ; the soldiers were at the complete mercy of their
masters, whoever they might be for the time being ; they were

* The Cadets' Company, or " The Select Picket v as it was usually called,
was composed entirely of "gentlemen Cadets" waiting for their Ensign's
Commission. "The Select Picket" occupied the post of honour in the field,
and "was always posted on the right of the advanced i^uard." Kwt India
Military Calendar, vol. t, p. -14-45.


ucntly harslily and even cruelly treated: and in cases of 1644 -175 'j
insubordination the culprits wen* placed in irons and made to
ork with the Native Convicts on the roads.

In later years enlistment for the Indian Army has heen con-
ducted in precisclv the same manner as for the ISritish service.
The Kast India Company's principal recruiting depot was
tahlished at I'arkhurst,* and no soldier was enlisted in India
H he could prove that he was of purely European extrac-



The establishment of English trade in Bengal, under the sanction
of the Emperor of Delhie, and the patronage of the Nawab of
Bengal, was secured in lii."ir, just one hundred years prior to
the formation of the "Bengal European Regiment," not\ the
"Royal Minister Fusiliers," upon whose colours are emblazoned
the names of the many hard-fought battles and sieges, which
they have inherited from their time-honoured ancestor.

It was in the year li>44 that Dr. Boughton obtained the sanction
of the Emperor of Delhie for the removal of the restrictions
on British trade, so serious an obstacle to its pursuit that its
discontinuance in Bengal, and the breaking up of the factories,
were contemplated. The circumstances which led to the cancella-
tion of these restrictions are thoroughly authenticated, and savour
strongly of Kastern romance that we may be pardoned for
detailing them.

In the year 1U4. one of the daughters of the Emperor Shall
Jehan met with a serious accident her dress catching fire, and

fore the flames could be extinguished, she had sustained such
jrious injuries that the Native Doctors pronounced the Prince
ur.ible. Shah .lehan. who had lately heard of the great skill of

e English Doctors, wrote to the British Governor of Surat,
ing him to send one of his Surgeons to effect a cure. Now,

* Ultimately tin- Ka>t India ( '<>ni];my sold their recruiting depot at

I'cirklmrst to tin- Kn:lish (iovcrnnirnt . and built barracks for their recruits
Chatham, and frm thence they \\MV n-nmvcd t> \\arley.


1644-1756. on board the East India Company's ship " Hopewell " there
was a doctor, Gabriel Boughton, who consented to try his skill
on the Imperial patient. Boughton proceeded under a royal
escort to the Emperors camp, then in the Deccan, where he soon
succeeded in restoring the Princess to health. The Emperor,
overcome with gratitude, informed the doctor that he was prepared
to grant him any favour he might ask. Boughton, influenced
more by anxiety to serve his masters than to enrich himself,
begged that he might be empowered to establish an English
factory for the East India Company on the banks of the river
Hugli, and that the English should be allowed to trade without
payment of any duty. His requests were. granted, and Boughton
was supplied with a "firman " to the Viceroy of Bengal, instruct-
ing him to treat the bearer with all honour, and to convey to him,
or his assigns, land on which he was to be permitted to erect
an English factory, and trade without payment of duty. On
his arrival at Rajmahal, where Sultan Sujah (the Emperor's
son), then Viceroy, was residing, Boughton's medical skill again
did him good service, by effecting a cure on one of the favourite
ladies in the Viceregal zenana, whose malady had baffled the native
physicians; so that the goodwill arid patronage of the Viceroy
were secured, in addition to that of the Emperor.

Thus it was that a few years after the events just narrated,
trade was firmly established with Bengal; and in 1652 a small
force, consisting of an Ensign and thirty men, was allowed to be
employed by the East India Company, as a guard of honour;
" which little band," says Colonel Broomc in his " Rise and Pro-
gress of the Bengal Army," " may be looked upon as the nucleus "
" of the present extensive Army retained by the Company in "
" the Bengal Presidency."

Thirty-four years after British merchants had established
themselves at the town of Hugli, a dispute arose between the
Nawab's representative and Mr. Job Charnock, the Company's
at their factory, who in consequence was driven for


hue from the country ; juul on his return moved tlie factory 1644-175G
o :i village on the left bank of the river, thirty-seven miles
nearer to the sea. This village was called Chatanati, adjoining
which was the Kali Ghat, and on the site of these places now
-lands the capital of India.

In the year 17<><), the Viceroy of Bengal effected a loan
from the East India Company, to enable him to dispute the
succession of the Emperor ; and in exchange for this accom-
tion the township of Calcutta and the adjacent lands,
ther with privileges which they had not hitherto enjoyed,
were granted to the Company.

In 1707 Calcutta was formed into a Presidency town,
subordinate to Madras. Trade increased, and comparative security
prevailed, notwithstanding that the Princes of India showed
jealousy at the growing influence of the British, and placed
restrictions on their commerce. Nor were the Native Rulers
their only enemies, for the French, the Portuguese, the Danes,
the Dutch, each with its rival East India Company, had in its
turn to be dealt with. But of all the foreigners the French alone
held large possessions, and exercised important influence in Bengal
at the Viceregal Court.

It would be foreign to our purpose to trace the petty wars, 1756.
the successes, and the disappointments of the next fifty years;
and it will be sufficient to state that, as our trade and influence
increased, our establishments had to be augmented in proportion;
so that in the year 17.">t'> the military force in Bengal consisted of
four Companies of European Infantry and one of Artillery, as
well as some hundreds of Native soldiers. In addition to these
regular forces, there were two Companies of Militia at the Pre>i-
dencv which were composed of European and Armenian inhabitants,
and Officered principally by members of the Civil Service.

In 17.~>ii, Siraju 'd daulah succeeded his uncle, Ali Vardi Khan,
U Viceroy <>f the provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa: and
it was duriiiir his short rciirn that events occurred which led to the


1750. formation of the Bengal European Regiment. Siraju 'd daulah
was a Prince eminently unsuited to the position of Viceroy.
As a child he had been petted and spoilt; ua a man, Mills, in
his "History of India," describes him as "voluptuous; on his"
" own pains and pleasures he set a value immense, on the pains "
" and pleasures of other men no value at all. He was impatient, "
" irascible, and headstrong/'

Some authors have affirmed that, before his death, Ali Vardi
Khan warned his nephew to be on his guard against the encroach-
ments of the English, whose powerful navy he feared and whose
influence he could not resist.

No sooner had Siraju 'd daulah ascended the throne, than the
idea of driving the British from his territories gained power over
him; and, to give his actions the semblance of justice, he sent a,
dispatch to the Government of Calcutta, couched in offensive
and threatening language. He called on the Governor (Mr.
Drake) forthwith to desist from repairing his fortifications or
constructing any defences for his position; adding, that his
neglect of these commands would be held as a casus belli, and
the consequences must be on his own head. It was in vain that
the Governor urged that he was repairing his fortifications solely
with the view of resisting possible attacks from the French
as war between that country and England was considered im-
minent and that the French fortifications at the neighbouring
settlement of Chandanagore were in perfect repair, whereas those
of Calcutta had been long neglected and were falling into decay.
The Nawab was not to be pacified. On receipt of the Governor's
reply, he ordered his troops to prepare for a campaign ; and
in a few days he left his Capital, Murshedabad, at the head
of an army 50,000 strong, and advanced on the English settle-
ment of Calcutta. On June 1st, 175(), he attacked the English
factory of Kassimbazar, which was situated within a few miles of
Murshedabad, and garrisoned by some 50 men only, the defences
being altogether inefficient. Air. Watts was the chief at this


factory, and ho hud constantly represented to the Government at i ?:>;.
Calcutta that it was untenable. IJut reinforcements had been
refused, and the Commander had been informed that, if he could
not hold his position with the troops at his disposal, he had better
effect a retreat as best lie could.

When the Nawab arrived before the factory, he summoned Mr.
Watts into his presence, receiving him with anything but courtesy,
and compelling him to sign an agreement, under severe conditions,
that the new works at Calcutta should be forthwith demolished,
and the servants of the Company, on duty at Kassimbazar, be
given up. The factory \\as plundered, .and the Officers subjected
to such indignities that Lieutenant Elliot, of the Company's
service, Commanding the troops, shot himself to escape from the
hands of his torturers.

( )n the iUh of June, the Nawab proceeded on his march to
Calcutta. On reaching the Dutch settlement of Chinsurah and
the French settlement of Chandernagore, he endeavoured to
induce the troops at those places to join him in his expedition
against the British. He failed, however, in his attempts; so he
levied a war-tax on the Dutch of 50,000, and on the French of a
like amount ; both being paid, partly in cash, and partly in
munitions of war.

When the news of the capture of Kassimba/ar reached Cal-
cutta, the Council, feeling their insecurity, became seriously
alarmed, and dreading lest the Nawab should be incensed against
them, they had abandoned the repairs of the fortifications. To
add to the confusion, the Council were at variance amongst them-
selves, some strongly urging the necessity of placing the Fort in
temporary repair, others recommending that they should throw
themselves on the mercy <if the Nawab to whom a dispatch,
couched in submissive terms, was sent.

The letters were dispatched, but they either did not reach their
destination or were unheeded, and the onward march of the
Xawah's troops was unchecked : indeed, such was his impatience


1756. that his soldiers were not allowed sufficient time for rest or food,
so that many died on the road from exposure and fatigue.

The position of affairs at Calcutta, although requiring courage,
tact, and judgment, was by no means so desperate as to give
ground for despair. It is true that the means of defence were
poor, the soldiers, especially the Militia, being indifferently armed,
and many of the guns unmounted ; but on the other hand, there
were some oOO Europeans in the garrison,* trustworthy, and
believed to be courageous. The walls of the Fort, constructed
of masonry, were four feet thick, and easily defensible by a few
determined men against the rabble of which the Nawab's Army
was composed. Moreover, the north-west face of the Fort was in
communication with the river, the passage to which was covered
by the guns placed on the two flank bastions, so that, should the
Fort be found untenable, and the enemy effect an entry, the
defenders could easily retreat by the water-gate and get to the
ships seven or eight of which were at anchor within a convenient

Unfortunately, Captain Minchin, the Commandant, lacked all
the requirements essential for a Commander. He neglected to
make the best of his position. His conduct was not only unsoldier-
like, but cowardly. Had he employed his time in strengthening
his position, in place of throwing out works which he had not
men to defend ; and had he concentrated his force instead of
scattering it abroad, he might have kept the enemy at bay until
the monsoon (daily expected) had set in ; when the enemy,
exposed to the constant rains, would be forced either to retreat or
come to terms. But Captain Minchin did not possess sound
judgment ; neither had he the confidence of the soldiers who were
serving under him.

On the 15th of June Siraju 'd daulah's Army crossed the
Hugli, and took up its position beyond the Maratha Ditch, which

* There were in the garrison the following Regular European troops :
Infantry, 145 ; Artillery, 45. Military Calendar, vol. II, p. 81.


constituted the defences of the outskirts of the town; and on the 175<J.
isth of June our outposts were attacked. Many of these were
bravely defended; but the losses were heavy, and it was found
impossible to furnish reinforcements. Ketreat was inevitable;
the outworks, which had been hastily constructed, were deserted,
and in some instances the guns, which had been abandoned with-
out having been previously spiked, were turned upon the Fort;
whilst the enemy, taking up a position behind the newly-formed
trenches which had been thrown across the park, kept up an
incessant fire on the ramparts, doing much execution amongst
the defenders,*

( )n the evening of this the first day's attack, it was determined
t<> send the women and children, for security, on board the
Company's ship " Dodaly," at anchor close at hand. Messrs.
Manningham and Frankland, members of the Council, were
deputed to superintend the arrangements: but these men, who
should from their position have set a bold example of self-denial
and courage, so utterly failed that, reaching the ship with their
charge, they steadily refused to return to their posts. Worse than
all, after consulting with Captain Young, who commanded the
vessel, they weighed anchor and dropped down the river; thus
cutting oft' the principal means of retreat from the garrison, many
or whom were defending their position, now threatened on all

Next morning it was found that many of the ships, following
the example of the "Dodaly," had deserted during the night ; so
that there was but scanty accommodation for the remainder of the
women and children who had not been sent on board ship the
previous evening. It was, therefore, deemed necessary that their
>afety should be at once secured; but by this time a panic had
him- I'.ith. taken possession of many in the garrison. Mr. Drake, the
17<ltl - (lo\ernor, Captain-Commandant Minchin. Captain Grant,
and a large portion of the Militia, as well as some of the Regular
* For i>hui of Calcutta in 17."iii. src pji-rc :'!.


1756. troops, deserted their posts and fled on board the remaining
vessels ; which, in their turn, weighed anchor, and left the

Online LibraryPercival Robert InnesThe history of the Bengal European regiment : now the Royal Munster Fusiliers, and how it helped to win India. → online text (page 1 of 48)