T. F. (Thomas Fourness) Wilson.

The Defence of Lucknow online

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Published by Smith, Elder & Co., Cornhill London 1858.]


A Diary Recording the Daily Events during the Siege of the European

From 31st May to 25th September, 1857.


With a Plan of the Residency.


Smith, Elder, and Co., 65 Cornhill.

The right of translation is reserved.

Printed by Spottiswoode and Co.
New-Street Square.


The Author of this work desiring, for military reasons, to withhold his
name, the Publishers feel it due to the public to vouch for the
authenticity of the "Diary," by stating that the Author is an officer of
the Staff of the Anglo-Indian Army, and was in Lucknow during the whole
of the siege; as, indeed, will be apparent from the full details he has
given of all that transpired in the garrison.

They beg to add that the only alteration made by them is the
substitution of the most recent and complete list of the killed and
wounded during the defence, as given in the "Homeward Mail," for the
list appended to the MS. They have also added the eloquent despatch of
Brigadier Inglis, recording the services of the garrison.

_Feb. 25th, 1858_.


For about ten days previous to the outbreak, daily reports were made
that an _émeute_ was intended, and Sir H. M. Lawrence had ordered all
kinds of stores to be purchased and stored in the "Muchee Bhawun" and
the City Residency. But latterly the intelligence began to excite less
attention, as so many days had passed away which had been named for the
outbreak. On the evening of the 30th May, however, a sepoy of the 13th
Native Infantry, who had shortly before received a reward from Sir Henry
Lawrence for having assisted in the capture of a spy, came to Captain
Wilson of the 13th Native Infantry, Assistant Adjutant-General, and said
he could not help reporting that there would be a rising amongst the
sepoy regiments, to be commenced in the lines of the 71st Native
Infantry that evening at about 8 or 9 P.M.; but he was not certain at
what hour. His manner in giving this information was _earnest_ and

On that evening everything went on as usual; all remained quiet in the
cantonments, where Sir Henry Lawrence was residing. Some days previously
the ladies and children had been removed to the Residency in the city,
which place had already been occupied by a party of the 32nd Foot and
two guns. The 9 P.M. gun was fired, and was evidently the preconcerted
signal for the mutiny; for a few minutes after, whilst Sir Henry
Lawrence and his staff were at dinner at the Residency, a sepoy came
running in and reported a disturbance in the lines. Two shots were heard
in the 71st lines. The horses of the staff were at once ordered, and
they proceeded to the lines. On the way, more dropping shots were heard
from the left of the 71st lines. The party arrived in the camp, where
about 300 men of Her Majesty's 32nd, with four guns of Major Kaye's
battery, and two guns of the Oude Irregular Force were posted, and found
them all on the alert. These were posted in a position on the extreme
right of the 71st lines (the whole front of which they swept), and they
were also contiguous to the road leading from cantonments to the city.

Sir Henry Lawrence immediately took two guns and a company of the 32nd
with him on the road leading to the town, and there took post; thereby
blocking up the road, and effectually cutting off all access to the
city. He sent back soon after for reinforcements of the Europeans and
for two more guns. In the meantime, the officers of the several
regiments had proceeded at once to their respective lines. Bands of
insurgents had meanwhile made their way amongst the officers' bungalows,
keeping up as they went a desultory fire, which prevented many from
passing the roads towards the lines. One of the first of these parties
made straight for the mess house of the 71st Native Infantry, whence the
officers had escaped but a few minutes before. They exhibited great
bloodthirstiness, making every search for the officers, and ending by
firing the house. On several shots being fired from the 71st lines on
the 32nd Foot and guns, the order was given to open with grape; on which
a rush was made by the sepoys to the rear; when they passed the infantry
picket, which is situate in the centre of cantonments. The picket was
under the command of Lieutenant Grant of the 71st Native Infantry. His
men remained with him till the mutineers were close upon him. They then
broke; but the subadar of the guard, and some men of the 13th and 48th
Regiments, composing the guard, tried to save him by placing him under a
bed. A man of the 71st Native Infantry, who was on guard with him,
however, discovered the place of his concealment to the mutineers, and
he was there brutally murdered - receiving no less than fifteen bayonet
wounds, besides some from musket balls.

From the first, Lieutenant Hardinge, taking with him some few sowars of
his Irregular Cavalry, patrolled up and down the main street of the
cantonments, and went to the officers' messes on the chance of saving
any lives. In the compound of the 71st mess, he was fired at by a
mutineer, who then rushed upon him with his bayonet, which pierced his
arm. More than once the cantonments were thus patrolled by Lieutenant
Hardinge under a smart fire, with the same humane intentions; but not in
sufficient force to prevent the burning and plundering of the officers'
bungalows, and of the bazaars. The excitement in the lines continued;
while the 32nd remained quietly in position, awaiting the advent of the
remnants of the regiments who had remained true to their colours. A
remnant of the 13th Native Infantry, about 200 men, with colours and
treasure, came up; and, according to previous arrangement, joined and
fell in on the right of the 32nd. A small portion of the 71st, without
being able to save their colours or their treasure, (through the
disaffection of the native officer on duty,) also came up and took post
next the 32nd Foot. Of the 48th, nothing was heard till 10 A.M. next
day. About 10 o'clock P.M. many of the mutineers had made their way up
to some empty artillery lines, outside the 71st Native Infantry lines,
whence they commenced firing. Brigadier Handscomb, who had come up from
the rear of the 71st lines, was killed by a stray shot from this place:
just as he had reached the left flank of the 32nd, he fell dead off his
horse. The bungalows throughout the cantonments were most of them on
fire. No attempt was subsequently made to attack the position. To secure
the Residency bungalow, and that portion of the cantonment next the city
road, 4 guns and a company and a half were taken up to the cantonment
Residency, and the guns placed at each gate. All was now quiet, and the
remainder of the night passed away without any further event. Nothing
had been seen or heard of the 48th Native Infantry. Many officers had
most wonderful escapes from death. Lieutenant and Adjutant Chambers of
the 13th Native Infantry, was severely wounded in the leg, whilst
effecting his escape from the magazine where he had taken a guard of his

_May 31st._ - At daylight, the force, consisting of some companies of Her
Majesty's 32nd Foot, and the remnants of the native regiments, about 100
men 71st, and 220 men 13th Native Infantry, with part of the 7th
Cavalry, and four guns, advanced down the parade in front of the lines
of the several regiments. From the lines of the 13th Native Infantry
about fifty men came, and said they had saved the magazine of that
regiment. Hearing that the body of the rebels had retired towards the
race course, where they had plundered the lines of the 7th Cavalry, and
murdered Cornet Raleigh of that regiment (who had been left there sick)
the whole force of cavalry and infantry, with four guns, proceeded
thither, leaving Colonel Case with a portion of the 32nd in position in
cantonments. On arriving in the open plain, a body of about 1200 men
were seen in line in the distance, drawn up to the race course. Many of
the cavalry galloped over at once to the insurgents. The guns then
opened with round shot, which dispersed them, and they made the best of
their way across country, followed immediately by the cavalry and guns,
and, at a greater distance by the infantry. No opportunity offered for
the guns to again open, owing to the celerity of their flight; but the
cavalry hovered round and took about sixty prisoners, who were brought
into cantonments. The pursuit continued in the same order until the guns
were stopped by a nullah, over which they could not cross. The cavalry,
however, continued their pursuit; and kept it up for some ten miles. By
10 A.M. the force had returned to cantonments, as the heat was excessive.

As most of the bungalows were burned (the officers having lost
everything) the troops were moved into camp, - the 32nd and guns into the
position they held formerly; the native regiments next them on the
right; and in the following order: - 13th next the 32nd, the 71st next,
then the 48th, with the 7th Cavalry on the extreme right. The usual
guards were kept by the native regiments, and the cantonments regularly
occupied. Owing to this, the neighbouring country seemed to be
reassured. Supplies came in regularly, and in plenty. The exertions of
all were redoubled to complete the defences, and collect stores and
supplies in Muchee Bhawun and the city Residency. The former post,
originally occupied by the dependants of the late king, had been
selected by Sir Henry Lawrence as a fitting place of security and
retreat, in case matters took an unfavourable turn. On the 16th of May,
immediately on the receipt of intelligence from Meerut of the
commencement of the outbreak, this stronghold, then in a very
dilapidated condition, was occupied by the light company of the 13th and
some guns, and measures were taken for its thorough cleansing. Supplies
continued to be brought in and stored.

On the evening of the day on which the troops returned from the pursuit
of the rebels, an insurrection took place in the city towards
Hosainabad; the standard of the prophet was raised, and other means of
religious persuasion used to excite the populace. The police of the
city, under the energetic superintendence of Captain Carnegie, behaved
well, and the movement was at once quelled, and the standard taken. News
of the _émeute_ at this place had by this time reached the district, and
the rising of the neighbouring stations was to be looked for.

On the afternoon of the 4th June, parties of ladies and officers of the
41st Native Infantry, escorted by about twenty-five men of the regiment,
who had remained faithful, came in, bringing the news of the mutiny at
Seetapore, and of the deaths of Lieutenant-Colonel Birch, commanding the
regiment there, of Mr. Christian, and of other civilians and ladies. On
the 5th, news came of the mutiny at Cawnpore, but no particulars.
Reports of all kinds were rife among the Bazaars; but no authentic
intelligence could be procured, as the telegraph wire was cut. From
Benares the news came in of the 37th Native Infantry having mutinied,
and of their having been overpowered by the rest of the force there. But
nothing further transpired, for from that day to the 10th instant, the
communication was _in toto_ interrupted.

_June 10th._ - The defences at the city Residency, as well as the Muchee
Bhawun, were increased, and houses and buildings around them began at
once to be demolished. Large stacks of firewood were made, and houses
and tents set apart for the occupation of the European refugees, who
were arriving from the districts daily. Provisions of all sorts
continued to be stored, including 110 hogsheads of beer just arrived
from Cawnpore.

Besides the two important posts noted above, the range of buildings
towards the Hosainabad quarter of the town were occupied by 2000 police
under the direction of Captain Carnegie; a thousand more were ordered to
be raised, and officers of the 41st were put in command of each of the
police battalions. This day we heard, by native report, that General
Wheeler was defending himself in the entrenchments at Cawnpore; but no
letter was received.

_June 11th._ - Early this morning a false alarm was brought in from the
Cawnpore road, that the enemy was upon us. Captain Evans, who had been
sent out to gain information, returned with the above report, which
created for a short period some needless alarm. We continued hard at
work getting in supplies and adding to our defences. Many vague reports
of disturbances were in circulation to-day.

_June 12th._ - On this day an instance of disaffection from within the
camp occurred. The regiment of military police, commanded by Captain
Orr, mutinied in a body, rushed to their lines, seized their arms, and
then set off in the direction of Cawnpore, giving themselves no time to
inflict any damage in their quarter of the city. So great was their
haste, that they failed to empty their own barracks, and left behind
them their clothes and baggage. Information of this was given to
headquarters; on which two guns of Major Kaye's battery, two companies
of Her Majesty's 32nd, and some seventy Seikhs of the 1st Oude Irregular
Cavalry, the whole under the command of Colonel Inglis, were despatched
after them. They were pursued for some eight miles before they were come
up with, and it was only by pushing on the cavalry and guns, without
waiting for the slower movements of the infantry, that they were
overtaken at all.

The guns opened fire as soon as practicable; they had come up well over
some difficult ground, but their horses were, in consequence, so done
up, that there was some difficulty in taking up the most desirable
position. Once the cavalry charged well, but neither the result of their
charge, nor of the practice of the artillery, was such as might have
been expected. The enemy's loss was not exactly ascertained, but it was
supposed that they had some twenty killed, and ten prisoners were
brought in. Of Captain Forbes's men, two Pathans were killed on the
spot; and some others, including a gallant old native officer, wounded.
Mr. Thornhill, of the civil service, charging with them, was also
wounded. All this time the infantry were far behind, unable to get up. A
village lay to the front, in which many of the insurgents had taken
refuge. Colonel Inglis forbade its bombardment, as it would have
entailed much injury to innocent villagers; and the evening was, by that
time, so far advanced, that the measure would probably not have sufficed
to dislodge the mutineers.

About an hour remained to sunset; the guns and cavalry were a long way
from the infantry, and many miles further from home. A return movement
was therefore ordered, and accomplished successfully: the whole force
returned about 8 o'clock, having gone over some sixteen or eighteen
miles of ground.

The Europeans had marched well to the front. It was a hard day's work
for them, and two men were lost from apoplexy, for the heat was dreadful.

On this day the horses of the men of the 7th Cavalry were brought down
and picketed close to the Baillie Guard; as, with a very few exceptions,
the 13th, 48th, and 71st Regiments of Native Infantry and 7th Cavalry
had been ordered to proceed on leave till October, and their arms and
accoutrements were brought down and deposited in the Residency. (Vide
No. 1 in the Appendix.)

_June 13th._ - Shot and shell both brought down to the garrison from
Muchee Bhawun (about three-quarters of a mile). Unabated exertions to
add to the defences of the garrison.

The 13th Regiment of Native Infantry, 170 rank and file, came down from
cantonments and encamped in the Residency compound. Ineffectual efforts
to blow down the _Furrahd Buksh_ Gateway. Three or four cases of cholera
occurred at Fort Muchee Bhawun. Officers' servants began to desert.
Intelligence was received from Fyzabad of the mutiny of all the troops
there. Heat beyond endurance. Garrison in good spirits, and much elated
at the brush after the Police Corps. Little reliance was placed in
natives, and every possible precaution was taken to prevent any
treachery. The native gunners, both in the Residency and at the Muchee
Bhawun, were so posted as to be under the immediate fire of the
Europeans, who watched them carefully both day and night. An officer was
on duty at the gate all day long, to observe all incomers, and to
prevent arms being brought in by others than those who had received

_June 14th._ - Supplies of shot and shell brought in from Muchee Bhawun.
Every exertion made to increase the defences of the garrisons. No
reliable intelligence was procurable of the state of affairs at
Cawnpore. Many idle rumours afloat, but not corroborated, with regard to
a reinforcement of Europeans having arrived at that station from the
north-west. Heat excessive. Several cases of cholera and smallpox. A few
cases of the former disease proved fatal in Muchee Bhawun. Hardinge's
corps still steady. About 200 of the Oude Irregular Cavalry deserted
last night.

_June 15th._ - A hundred barrels of gunpowder brought from the Muchee
Bhawun, and buried in the Residency enclosure. Shot and shell continued
to be brought into garrison from Muchee Bhawun. Uncovenanted
servants were drilled with muskets. A tragic event occurred this
day: - Serjeant-major K., 7th Light Cavalry, shot with a pistol,
Riding-master Edridge, 7th Light Cavalry, in the heat of an argument.
The riding-master died a few hours after. No reliable intelligence was
procured from Cawnpore, though vague reports were in circulation. The
death of Lieutenant-Colonel Fisher, commanding 15th Irregular Cavalry,
by the hands of his own men, was reported.

Captain Gall's servant returned to the garrison this day, reporting his
master's death, which took place by stratagem, and by the hands of his
own men. Captain Gall was proceeding in disguise _en route_ to
Allahabad, with twelve sowars of his own corps, and had proceeded about
fifty miles on his way, when his murder took place. All officers of the
cantonments were ordered down to the garrison, with the exception of the
commanding officers and regimental staff. Twenty-three lacs of rupees
were buried close in front of the Residency, for security, and to avoid
the necessity of guards and sentries over it. Rum and porter (one-half)
was received into the Residency from Muchee Bhawun. Fever was prevalent.
The Seikhs of the 13th Native Infantry, numbering about fifty men, were
formed, at their own request, into a company, under the command of
Captain Germon, and sent to Muchee Bhawun. Spare clothing of the 13th
was brought in from cantonments. Continued efforts were made to blow up
the Furrah Buksh Gate. The flooring of the first story fell in this day.

_June 16th._ - A quantity of shot and shells came in from Muchee Bhawun;
also an 18-pounder gun. The shot was piled, as far as possible. On this
date, there were seven 18-pounders in position. The whole day was
expended in working hard at a battery in a position commanding the
Cawnpore-road, and in unroofing houses, burying powder, &c. The gate
leading into the Furrah Buksh came down in the course of the forenoon
with a great crash, after many futile attempts had been made for its
destruction. This was an important point gained, as the Residency
compound was quite commanded from the top of this gate.

This morning, twenty-two conspirators, emissaries from Benares and
elsewhere, who had been sent to corrupt the troops at this place, were
captured in a house in the centre of the city. Information having been
given to Captain Hughes, commanding the 4th Irregular Infantry, he
directed two staunch native officers to put themselves on the watch, and
to pretend participation in the disaffection. This they did, and by this
means, with Captain Carnegie's assistance, Captain Hughes was enabled to
effect the capture of these inciters to mutiny. They were forthwith
brought to a drum-head court-martial and the whole of them condemned to

_June 17th._ - This morning, four of the men sentenced yesterday, were
hanged at the Muchee Bhawun; the remaining eighteen were liberated, as
some doubts were entertained of their guilt.

Vague and most contradictory rumours came in this day about Cawnpore,
but no authentic intelligence could be gained. The intelligence
department, under the supervision of Mr. Gubbins, with two assistants,
seemed to experience great difficulty in procuring reliable
intelligence. Amongst others, Colonel Palmer, commanding the 48th
Regiment Native Infantry, came in from the cantonments, waited on the
Brigadier-General, and reported large assemblies of men near
cantonments, the immediate abandonment of which he most earnestly

Although there yet remained some twenty-five lacs in the treasury, the
expenditure had been on such an enormous scale during the last week,
that cash payments were suspended, unless in exceptional cases. The
money rewards, &c., promised to men of the several infantry regiments,
whose good behaviour had been conspicuous on the night of the mutiny,
were discharged by promissory notes. Major Apthorp of the 41st Native
Infantry had an advance made to him to pay up and discharge twenty-five
of his men who had escorted in the officers and ladies from Seetapore;
as it was reported by one of his drummers, that even these faithful few,
who had all been promised promotion by Sir Henry Lawrence for their
fidelity on that occasion, had expressed themselves to the effect that
if Rajah Maun Singh came against them, they would all have to go over,
and would murder their officers.

_June 18th._ - The force at the Residency, consisting of the regular
troops, civilians, volunteers of all sorts, and, in fact, every man
within the defences not incapacitated by sickness, were ordered by Sir
Henry Lawrence to parade at sunrise. Every man was to be at the post he
was to occupy in case of an attack; and those to whom no posts had been
assigned mustered in front of the Residency, for the purpose of having a
post or duty assigned them. The Brigadier-General inspected the whole of
them, and visited all the outposts and picquets.

In the evening of the same day the force was paraded a second time, and
minutely inspected by Colonel Inglis. A body of fifty volunteers,
belonging to the several offices, had been trained and drilled to use
firearms. To them was entrusted the defence of two outposts near the
Post-office, which place had been made a very strong position. The
officers comprising the volunteer corps of cavalry were also given arms,
to be able to make a stand and defend themselves within their own
quarters. They furnished sentries at night, and exercised a supervision
over some seventy Seikh sowars, the remains of the Oude Irregular
Cavalry. These, as well as the body of clerks, &c., mentioned above,
were in all respects armed and accoutred like private soldiers. Besides
this, many of the volunteers and officers were instructed in gun drill;
and, at the Muchee Bhawun, by Sir Henry's directions, some fifty or
sixty of the 32nd Foot were told off for the same work. A very strong
battery (the Redan) was commenced this day; it completely commanded the
iron bridge and the road leading to cantonments.

The servants of Captains Staples, 7th Cavalry, and Burmester, 48th
Native Infantry, returned and reported the murder of those officers
whose heads, they stated, were carried to the Nana at Cawnpore; and that
Lieutenant Boulton, of the 7th-Cavalry, jumped his horse into the river,
and nothing further had been heard of him. Owing to the want of rain,
the heat had now become intense. Cholera and dysentery were on the
increase; chiefly at the Muchee Bhawun.

Reports came in of some bodies of the enemy being at a place called
Nawab Gunge, about eighteen miles from Lucknow, and Captain Forbes, with
twenty Sikhs and ten of the volunteer cavalry corps, was sent out there

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Online LibraryT. F. (Thomas Fourness) WilsonThe Defence of Lucknow → online text (page 1 of 11)