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especially to Colonel Monson, was the recapture on
this day of eleven 6-pounders, two 12-pounders, and
one howitzer, together with nine tumbrels and four
ammunition carts, formerly lost by his column during
their disastrous retreat. In addition to this, there
were twenty-four more tumbrels taken, all laden with
ammunition, besides which several were blown up in
the action, and others, sloughed in the marshes, were
afterwards burnt.*

* " Memoir of the War in India from 1803 to 1806." By Major

24 Life of Sir George Pollock.

But the completeness of even so great a victory as
tins was marred, and the joy of the army dimmed, by
the death of the noble General who had with con-
summate ability and skill made his dispositions, and
with heroic valour led on the troops, and to whom, now
that death had cut short his promising career, the army
sorrowfully attributed the chief glory of its achieve-
ment. General Eraser expired on the third day after
receiving his wound, which had become gangrenous,
and Colonel Monson assumed temporary command.

The Commander-in-Chief expressed his opinion on
several occasions that the battle of Deig was one of
the most severe of the war. General Lake said, "It
appears to have been the hardest fought battle on
this side India ; " and in a despatch he stated, in lan-
guage forcible, though perhaps rather more of a
sporting than military character, that he had " every
reason to believe that the action of the 13th instant
was a very near business." Lieutenant Pollock, who
took a prominent part with his guns in keeping down
the enemy's fire, was fortunate enough to pass through
it unhurt.

The remains of Holkar's army having taken shelter
in the fort of Deig, and that chief himself having
fled to the Jumna after his defeat at Furruckabad,
General Lake lost no time in following him across
that river, which he recrossed on the 25th November
by the bridge of boats at Muttra, and joined the
army before Deig. The guns captured from the
enemy on the 13th had been sent off to Agra under

Life of Sir George Pollock. 25

an escort, with orders to bring back a battering train
from that place, for the purpose of laying siege to
Deig. Its ruler, the Eajah of Bhurtpore, had
behaved with singular ill faith, even for a native
prince. Only in the preceding September, General
Lake had treated him as a friend at Agra, though at
this time he was known to have been in correspon-
dence with Holkar, and had even endeavoured to stir
up other chiefs to rebellion within the Company's
territories. At length his conduct rendered it impos-
sible to continue any longer on terms of amity, and
at the battle of Deig he openly manifested his hos-
tility by taking part in the action with his cavalry.
When Holkar's troops fled to the adjacent fortress, the
garrison, which at that time was composed entirely of
his troops, opened, as we have seen, a heavy fire from
the guns on the walls, thus not only inflicting severe
loss on the pursuers, but enabling the fugitives to
carry off some of their cannon. General Lake,
having received instructions to attack the forts in the
possession of the Bhurtpore Eajah, moved with his
army on the 1st of December towards Deig, which
was strongly garrisoned by Holkar's troops, in con-
junction with those of the Eajah, and further strength-
ened by the artillery that had escaped after the late

Deig was at this time, according to Major Thorn,
a town of considerable extent, distant about forty-
four miles from Agra, in a westerly direction ; owing to
its being nearly surrounded by marshes, it was, during

26 Life of Sir George Pollock.

a great part of the year, almost inaccessible to an
enemy. It was formerly a place of considerable
opulence, and on account of its great natural strength
was selected as his residence by Soorajee Mull, the
chief of the Jauts. It was taken in 1776 by Nujuff
Khan, the vizier of the Emperor of Delhi, after a
siege of twelve months, but subsequently came again
under the dominion of the Eajah of Bhurtpore. The
town was defended by a strong mud wall, with
bastions and a deep ditch surrounding it, except at
one angle, which terminated in a high rocky mound,
called the Shah Bagh, or King's Garden. This emi-
nence was a strong natural fortress, having an
internal area of about fifty yards square, for the use
of the garrison, and presenting four commanding
bastions, facing the four cardinal points of the com-
pass. About a mile from the Shah Bagh, and nearly
in the centre of the town, stood the citadel, * which
was strongly built, in good preservation, and well
stored with guns. The ramparts were high and thick,
furnished with bastions, and surrounded by a deep
ditch faced with masonry. Massive gateways and

* With the exception of the lined with wrought-iron coiled

armament, the fort of Deig tubes on the system introduced

stands now as it did at that time, into our service by Major Palliser.

It is a square surrounded by a Some of the guns have stood

wall of masonry 100 feet high heavy firing, as you could put a

and about 30 feet wide, round finger into their vents. Holkar's

which there is a wet ditch. At entrenched position can still be

each angle of the fort is a circu- traced by the remains of the bat-

lar tower with a cavalier on the teries which were constructed in

top, on which are now lying 6 -inch them,
guns of about nine tons weight,

Life of Sir George Pollock. 27

towers of considerable height defended the approaches
to the citadel, near to which stood the palace of the
Eajah, described as " a very noble structure, containing
a fine hall of audience, and other state apartments in
a similar style of elegance." Such was the fortress
to which Lord Lake prepared to lay siege.

On the 2nd December, the British army, under
the Commander-in-Chief, encamped within sight of
the fortress, where they remained for nine days,
during which time General Lake made frequent
reconnoissances. On one of these occasions the enemy's
horse, commanded by Holkar in person, hovered
round the reconnoitring party in large numbers, and,
on its return, a division of them advanced upon the
rear of the British column, and charged through
the intervals of two native cavalry regiments, who,
however, handsomely repulsed them. On the 10th
December, the reserve, under Colonel Don, with the
battering train, arrived from Agra, and on the
following day the army broke ground, with the object
of taking up the most favourable position for siege
operations. The force, being protected in front by an
advanced guard, marched in two columns parallel to
each other, while the intermediate space, a distance of
about 600 yards, was occupied by the artillery, bag-
gage, and commissariat train ; the rear-guard in-
cluded all the pickets, strengthened by a cavalry
regiment. The army consisted of eight regiments of
cavalry, numbering 27 squadrons, with 750 Euro-
peans and 1,650 natives ; the infantry was composed

28 Life of Sir George Pollock.

of portions of three European corps, altogether 650
bayonets, and nine native battalions, numbering 5,000
men. There was also a small proportion of artillery
and pioneers. Thorn says, " There were not less than
60,000 camp-followers; and our cattle might at a
very moderate computation be estimated at 200
elephants, 2,000 camels, and 100,000 bullocks, for
carrying grain, equipage, and baggage, both public
and private."

On the evening of the 10th the army encamped
near the fortified village where the action of the
13th November commenced, having their left on the
lake, which was along the foot of the hill adjoining
Gropaul Grhur, a mud fort outside the walls of Deig.
After proceeding the next day in the same order of
march round the hill, and passing through a thick
jungle about a mile in extent, the army on the 13th
took up a final position before the fortress of Deig.
The plain selected for the British encampment being
in the occupation of the enemy, they were quickly
dislodged from it ; after which, preparations for the
siege commenced. At eleven o'clock the same night,
the reserve, under Colonel Don, took possession of a
large tope or grove, necessary for carrying on the
approaches, immediately after which the pioneers,
under Captain Swinton and Lieutenant Forrest, of
the Bengal Engineers, broke ground with such
despatch that before sunrise they completed a trench
300 yards long, one battery for mortars, to which
Lieutenant Pollock was attached, at a little village

Life of Sir George Pollock. 29

within the tope, and another for 6-pounders, con-
structed under the direction of Captain Eobertson,
also of the Engineers. With such celerity was the
work pushed on, that, towards evening of the same
day, the breaching battery was commenced by volun-
teer parties from the British dragoon regiments,
within 750 yards of the Shah Bagh, the high
outwork that terminated the angle of the works in-
tended to be breached. On the right of this battery
was Gopaul Ghur, which was in possession of the
enemy, and crowded with matchlock men, who, by
their constant fire, annoyed the working parties very
much, and inflicted considerable damage.

Notwithstanding these hindrances to progress, the
breaching battery was completed on the night of the
16th, and opened fire on the following morning from
six 18-pounders, four 12-pounders, and four mortars.
The cannonade was kept up with great spirit for
several days, but, owing to the smallness of the
calibre of the guns employed, did not prove very
effective. Accordingly, during the night of the 20th,
another battery, mounting three 18-pounders, was
constructed to the left of our army, and nearer to
the enemy's works, on which it brought to bear an
enfilading fire. The besieged displayed considerable
pertinacity in the defence, and brought a number of
guns on the plain outside the fort, and placed them
so judiciously under cover of natural embankments
that they could not be touched by our batteries,
while the latter were for the most part enfiladed by

jo Life of Sir George Pollock.

them. To divert their fire, General Lake took a leaf
out of their book, and placed outside on the plain
several 12 and 6 pounders, which played on their guns
from different points. While serving with the mortar
battery, Lieutenant Pollock took his part in the ar-
duous but honourable duties of an artilleryman, and had
his share of the attendant dangers. An officer in his
battery, of the name of Groves, met an instantaneous
death from a round shot, which carried off one side of
his head. When on his way to take his turn of duty
he remarked that he knew he should be killed. Lieu-
tenant T. D. Smith of the Artillery was also wounded.

At length the Engineer officers reported that a
practicable breach was made, and, the enemy's guns
being mostly silenced, a storming party was moved
down to the trenches about half-past eleven o'clock
on the night of the 23rd December.

The force destined for this service was divided into
three columns, and consisted of the following troops.
The centre column, whose duty it was to storm the
breach, was led by Colonel Macrae, who also had com-
mand of the whole, and was composed of the flank
companies of His Majesty's 22nd and 76th Eegiments,
and those of the Company's 1st European Eegiment,
and the 8th Native Infantry. The right column,
under Captain Kelly, consisting of four companies
of the 1st Europeans, and five companies of the
1st battalion of the 12th Native Infantry, was
ordered to carry the enemy's batteries and trenches
in the high ground, near the Shah Bagh ; whilst the

Life of Sir George Pollock. 31

left column, under Major Kadcliffe, consisting of the
four remaining companies of the European Begiment,
and five companies of the 12th Native Infantry, was
destined to carry the trenches and batteries on the
enemy's right.

The whole force, in the best spirits and animated
with a sure presage of victory, moved off so as to
reach the different points of attack a little before
midnight. The following account of what then took
place is from an eye-witness:

" The centre column, though exposed on their flanks
to a most galling fire of round shot and musketry
from the batteries and trenches, and though obliged
to pass through broken and extremely unfavourable
ground, rushed on to the breach, and gained posses-
sion of the work with resistless spirit; while the
remaining columns, diverging outwards, attacked the
enemy under the walls, carrying all their batteries
at the point of the bayonet, in the face of a most
destructive fire from all directions. The enemy's
golundauze (artillery) stood firm to their guns, and
defended themselves to the last, making use of their
tulwars with such desperate resolution, when they
could no longer fire, that most of them were bayo-
neted. Several parties of the enemy rallied, and,
favoured by the darkness of the night, tried to re-
cover their guns ; but the moon rising at half-past
twelve shed a very seasonable light on the scene, and
enabled our gallant fellows to secure what they had
so hardly gained."

3 '2 Life of Sir George Pollock.

By two o'clock on the morning of the 24th Decem-
ber, the British were in possession of the Shah Bagh
and outworks, with all the guns outside, twenty-eight
in number. The whole service was performed with
equal gallantry and success.

" By means of the darkness of the night," wrote
the Commander-in-Chief, " the enemy were taken by
surprise, and prevented from availing themselves of
the advantage they possessed, or of making a very
formidable resistance/'

The extensive works of the enemy being held by a
very large force, their loss was proportionately great.
But the struggle was not yet over, for the citadel still
held out. The British troops being now in possession
of the town itself, the advanced posts pushed on close
to the very gates of this, the inner fort, and prepara-
tions were made for carrying it by assault. It was
first necessary, however, that the gates should be
blown open, and for this special duty Lieutenant
Pollock was detailed with his guns. The enemy, in
evident apprehension of its fall, were seen going off
in straggling parties during the course of the day to
take refuge in Bhurtpore. After making every pre-
paration for blowing in the gate of the citadel, Greorge
Pollock, and an officer of the name of Durant, the
brigade-major of the force, during the course of the
succeeding night walked towards the citadel for the
purpose of reconnoitring ; meeting with no signs of
the enemy, they proceeded on until they extended
their promenade into the citadel itself, which they

Life of Sir George Pollock. 33

found had been evacuated by the enemy, who were
panic-stricken at witnessing the determined valour of
the British troops.

A curious anecdote is told by the subject of this
Memoir, and one eminently suggestive of the grim
and unpitying manner in which the British soldier,
when left to himself without an officer, was wont to
carry on the game of war; though, perhaps, in our own
time matters are not much improved in this respect,
as many a soldier wearing her Majesty's uniform, who
passed through the early days of the great Indian
mutiny, could testify from personal experience, did he
care to open his mouth ; but then, in extenuation of
the no-quarter policy, even to the wounded, so much
in vogue with the rank and .file of the British army
in 1857-58, it must be remembered that our brave
soldiers received the direst provocation in the name-
less horrors perpetrated on their women and children
by the dastardly Bengal Sepoy. However, to my

As Lieutenant Pollock and his friend were proceed-
ing towards the citadel, they passed a European guard,
and, going up to the sergeant of infantry in charge of
the party, for the purpose of learning the way to the
gate of the citadel, the night being very dark, they
asked what he was doing there. " Oh, sir, we are in
charge of some prisoners/' replied the man.

" Prisoners ! Where are they ?" asked the artillery

" Well, sir," rejoined the sergeant, with an air of


34 Life of Sir George Pollock.

frankness, but not in the least abashed at the confes-
sion, " we just skivered them all." The reader need
not be told that skivering was a synonymous term in
the vocabulary of the sergeant of infantry for bayo-

Enlightened as to the value set upon the sanctity
of human life by this British soldier, but unable to
suppress a shudder at the wanton massacre of men
whom civilized nations regard as prisoners of war,
George Pollock and his friend proceeded on their way,
and, as I have related, did not stop until they found
themselves within the walls of the Jaut stronghold.

The chief gate was a marvel of strength, and had
been piled up inside, quite up to the top, with huge
stones. On inspection, the officers found that the
most complete preparations had been made to defend
the citadel. Thus, on the Christmas morning of 1804,
General Lake was in complete possession of the town
and fortress of Deig, and of all the guns, both within
and outside, comprising the principal part of the field
artillery remaining to Holkar, besides a large quan-
tity of grain, some valuable horses, and two lacs of

The Commander-in-Chief, in bestowing the meed of
praise upon the several corps engaged in this conquest,
observed that the national advantages resulting from
their zeal and heroism would ever be matter of exulta-
tion to all who wished well of their country. From
general expressions of approval, his Excellency pro-
ceeded to notice the merits of individuals. After

Life of Sir George Pollock. 35

speaking with warm admiration of the three leaders of
the assaulting columns, he proceeded to eulogize his
second in command, Colonel Ball of the 8th Native
Infantry ; Captain Lindsay, of His Majesty's 22nd ; the
Engineer officers, Captain Eobertson and Lieutenant
Smith ; Captain Swinton and Lieutenant Forrest, com-
manding the pioneers, both of whom were severely
wounded ; and Colonel Horsford and Captain Eaban,
the senior officers of the Artillery, which had particu-
larly distinguished itself during the siege.

The British loss in this achievement, considering
the hard fighting, and the magnitude of the results
attained, was singularly small. It consisted of 43
killed, including two officers, and 184 wounded,
among whom were 1 3 officers. The number of guns
taken amounted to 100, of which 16 were of brass ;
others being of iron of different calibres, from
70-pounders downwards. There were also taken in
the lines, outside the town, 13 tumbrels of ammuni-
tion, 5 ammunition carts, and, in the magazines,
quantities of shot, powder, and military stores.

The force remained only a few days at Deig,
during which the officers examined the various points
of interest in this ancient city. Adjoining the
palace was a large artificial basin, on which the
Eajah's family were accustomed to divert themselves
with rowing in canoes ; and on the top of the wings
of the palace was another capacious reservoir or
tank, partly supplied by rain, but principally by a
well reaching from the roof down to a great depth


3 6 Life of Si? George Pollock.

below the surface of the ground. There were nu-
merous canals in the extensive royal gardens outside
the walls, each of which was supplied with fountains
that played either singly or altogether by pulling the
stoppers in the side of the reservoir already men-
tioned, and with which they communicated by tubes.
Besides the palace, the city of Deig possessed many
large edifices belonging to persons of rank but the
condition of them was described by an acute observer
" as plainly indicating the declension of the place
from a state of splendour and opulence far exceeding
what it presented at the time of its conquest by the
British army."

The loss of Deig was a serious blow to Holkar
and his ally, the Eajah of Bhurtpore. The sur-
rounding country immediately submitted to the
authority of the British Government, and General
Lake, having taken the necessary steps for securing
the fort and administering the country, marched
from Deig on the 28th December. The fortunes ot
Holkar were at a very low ebb. He had lost all his
forts in the Deccan. The army from Guzerat, com-
manded by General Jones, who, under the advice
of Sir Arthur Wellesley, had been appointed in
the room of Colonel Murray, having advanced in
the direction of Kotah to intercept the flight of
Holkar, should he tak: that route into Malwa, had
taken all his fortress * in Malwa, and marched up
through the heart of the Mahratta dominions un-
molested, and joined General Lake's camp by the

Life of Sir George Pollock. 37

end of December. Still Holkar, though pursued
from place to place, could not be driven from the
Bhurtpore territory so long as his infantry found
protection within the walls of its chief city. The
reduction of Bhurtpore presented itself, therefore, to
the Commander-in-Chief as a matter of primary
importance. Three days after leaving Deig he was
joined at Muttra by Major-General Dowdeswell, with
H.M. 75th Eegiment, from Cawnpore, together with
a large supply of necessary stores. The whole army
moved on the first day of the new year, and arrived
before the celebrated and maiden fortress of Bhurt-
pore on the 3rd January, 1805.*

Bhurtpore is distant about thirty miles W.JST.W.
from Agra, and stands upon a plain amidst jungles
and marshes. It is of great extent, being nearly
eight miles in circumference, and is everywhere sur-
rounded by the almost invulnerable defence of a
mud wall of great thickness and height, outside
which, again, is a very deep and wide ditch filled
with water. The fort was situated at the eastern
extremity of the town, and the walls were flanked

* The entire force only num- January, 1824, states that, " 5,400

bered: 800 European and 1,600 infantry had to carry on the duties

Native Cavalry ; 1,000 effective of the trenches against a garrison,

European Infantry and 4,400 which, in point of numbers, was at

Sepoys ; 65 pieces of field artil- least ten, if not twenty times supe-

lery, and a siege train of six 18- rior to themselves." Though this

pounders, and eight mortars ; the estimate includes untrained soldiers

engineer department included only pressed into the defence, the British

three officers and three companies army was obviously insufficient to

of pioneers. A writer in the "British beleaguer so vast a city and with a

Indian Military Repository," for battering train of only 14 guns.

3 8 Life of Sir George Pollock.

with bastions at short distances, armed with a nu-
merous artillery. * The whole force of the Eajah of
Bhurtpore, consisting of 8,000 soldiers, and as many
of the surrounding inhabitants as were considered
fit to engage in its defence, were thrown into the
place; while the broken battalions of Holkar's in-
fantry had entrenched themselves under its walls.

The Jauts are a Hindoo tribe who migrated from
the banks of the Indus, and formed an independent
and powerful state in the neighbourhood of Delhi
and Agra, possessing themselves of a tract of country
160 miles in length and about 50 miles in breadth,
extending on both sides of the Jumna from Gwalior
to the Imperial city. Thorn is of opinion that they
were the people named Getes, of whom mention is

* The town, which has now to have been casemated, corn-
only 60,000 inhabitants, is still manding the country round the
surrounded by a mud wall or para- town. Properly armed and man-
pet, and a wet, deep ditch, in ned, Bhurtpore is capable of offer-
places 100 to 150 yards wide, ing a prolonged resistance to any-
The parapet varies in height, but thing short of a regular siege, as
is nowhere less than GO feet. The was in a rough way proved to
exterior slope, which is rather Lord Lake.

damaged by the rains, is at an Since the days of Lord Comber-
angle of about 15 degrees. The mere, the military spirit seems to
interior of the parapet has been have left the people of Bhurtpore.
lately repaired. Good broad ramps The Rajah now employs men
lead to the terre plaine, which is dressed in fancy costumes, and
12 to 15 yards wide. Within this armed with rusty muskets, with flint
work, near the Muttra gate, rises locks. He has some cavalry also,
the citadel, surrounded also by a and a few field guns drawn bybul-
deep, wide, wet ditch. Its walls locks. But such a body, numbering
are of enormous thickness, form- 7, 000 men, can scarcely be dignified

Online LibraryCharles Rathbone LowThe life and correspondence of Field Marshall Sir George Pollock ...(constable of the Tower) → online text (page 4 of 40)